Thursday, October 6, 2011
It is always interesting to see a real-world example for our class time readings. We recently discussed how leaders in the bureaucracy exert influence in order to champion either their own agenda or the agenda of their immediate superiors in the executive. Leon Panetta in this New York Times article urged NATO allies to increase their own defense spending because the Pentagon is facing serious budget cutbacks and America can no longer afford to provide the bulk of military support for NATO-backed missions. Pointing to the relatively successful NATO operation in Libya, Panetta hopes to persuade our key NATO allies that it is their future responsibility to lead NATO missions rather than rely entirely on the United States for the majority of military firepower.
This is a perfect example of Panetta turning towards the East of his metaphorical Haas compass in order to successfully resolve an issue that is clearly important to both the Department of Defense and the White House. NATO allies do not directly report to the President of the United States and as a result they need to be persuaded to go along with U.S. goals and military objectives. The article also highlights how Panetta has chosen to expend political capital on an issue where he believes progress can be made without risking future influence with NATO and where he believes success is very possible. The Libyan conflict may have reinvigorated NATO as a legitimate military force at a time where many believe the alliance to be losing its legitimacy or necessity. Panetta hopes to continue the re-invigoration of NATO in order to assure greater world security. Always interesting to see how our readings connect with examples in the real world.