Dempsey Urges Restraint

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey counseled restraint on the use of military force in an interview with the news website , posted May 12th. Interviewer James Kitfield began by asking Dempsey how he balances the frequent demands for the use of US military force with a stressed military and war-weary public. Dempsey replied that the military instrument is far more suited to strength-on-strength situations than it is to an environment of weakened international order which, he says, is where we are now. “And frankly, it’s harder to articulate the proper use of military power in that environment as opposed to a world with stronger centers of authority.” This means that the use of military power has to be “rebalanced,” and “I think we will need less direct action because it is the most costly, disruptive and controversial use of American power.”

On Russia and China, Dempsey said that he saw no inherent reason why there should be a conflict between the US and either of those two countries. “In fact, there’s every reason to believe that we should be able to chart a path that won’t lead to confrontation,” he said. “But Russia’s actions in Ukraine are troubling precisely because they are disrupting the international order we ascribe to, which holds that national boundaries and borders are decided through an internal electoral process, and not from the outside.” Therefore, “that this is a moment for NATO to decide what it intends to be in the future,” and it needs to revisit what it means to “deter”.

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