A Military Perspective on Secretary Clinton’s Legacy

   •    March 27, 2013

This post is by Mary Raum, PhD. Dr. Raum is Professor of National Security Affairs with the US Naval War College.

Author’s Note: The thoughts contained herein are the author’s alone and do not represent the Department of Defense, its allied service branches, or the United States Naval War College.

The nature of war has changed over the past several decades. The days of nation vs. nation conflict have been largely replaced with a complex variety of instabilities and conflict compositions. This has forced a paradigm shift in how we prepare for war.

Secretary Clinton is a futurist in this realm of thinking. Her spotlight on the role women play in conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict reconstruction signifies an innate understanding of the actualities of modern discord. Her viewpoint, correctly, is that in order to have peace, it’s essential to understand the interplay of social, economic, humanitarian, and military components which lead nations into conflict.

Acknowledging the complexity of these conflict dynamics, leads to the natural conclusion that a broad range of armed and unarmed, male and female stakeholders need to be engaged in the processes utilized to end wars and sustain peace. Secretary Clinton’s inclusive security initiative—which is far removed from earlier, one-dimensional positions that predate her tenure—is innovative because it allows for all the world’s populations to be actively engaged in the stability and prosperity of their nations.

At present, our defense establishment is focused on insurgencies and acts of terror. These threats have the potential to harm societies one diminutive event at a time. The states that house them are among the most unstable and, notably, they’re the nations with the least inclusive local, national, and international decision-making processes.

The concept of women, peace, and security makes sense in light of this new world order. To offset these potential conflicts, strong defense systems and policies today require constructing robust relationships among many different state actors before we revert to fighting—all the while keeping an eye toward the defense of our nation on a larger scale.

Secretary Clinton addressed relationships between nations while still protecting a solid defense establishment within the US. This is perhaps why some view her as having a political rather than a statesman’s legacy. Simultaneously taking a strong stance on “hard security issues” and seeking to address the social dimension of conflict demonstrates how revolutionary Secretary Clinton’s thinking may be regarding the nature of today’s global instabilities.

She understands that defense is a joint, multiparty endeavor and, as such, requires broad inclusion of populations in the assessments, decrees, and determinations of their futures. She is also in tune with the fact that the US military is now organized around joint command and control structures. She recognizes the increased global use of United Nations forces and the rising importance placed by nations upon globalized interventions. She’s been instrumental in pushing forward activities related to UN Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960, as well as in NATO’s development of an overarching strategy to achieve the goals set out in these policies.

President Obama’s executive order establishing women, peace, and security as vital to US security policy is not yet two years old. The institutionalization of inclusive security is a slow and tedious process. Movement forward is rarely exciting enough to rise as a media event but, by institutionalizing first, there is a greater chance for the women, peace, and security initiative championed by Secretary Clinton to become integral to defense and international policies. Grassroots efforts at the institutional level invariably lead to long-term change. It’s a grand strategy in reverse.

**The United States Naval War College will host its Second Women, Peace, and Security Conference in the fall of 2013. The Women, Peace, and Security Conference will be a follow-on conference to its predecessor at the USNWC in the spring of 2012. This conference will expand in scope to include international perspectives as well as additional armed service branches, DoD professionals, and NGOs. Women Peace and Security (WPS) is now an expected, and in some instances, required entity of the United States armed services in conflict and post-conflict reconstruction planning and operations.

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