Suitt's course is but a taste of what goes on at Leavenworth. Here the term "computer-literate" is meaningless, because one must be computer-sophisticated to function. I thought for a moment about the implications of what he was teaching, drawing on my experience with other branches of the U.S. government in Washington and overseas.
Military influence is growing not only in absolute terms, through the military's command of complex technologies, but also in relative terms, because of cutbacks in other sectors of the foreign-policy bureaucracy. The technological revolution that has increased the military's clout in Washington has decreased the State Department's: advances in global communications deprive diplomats of privileged firsthand knowledge, and businesspeople, with their own growing array of resources, require less help from embassies. In fact, embassies may not survive beyond a few more decades. As a modern institution, the embassy came into being in the mid sixteenth century, in the aftermath of a shipbuilding revolution that brought distant places within reach, and it flourished through the modern era of nation-states. But in an age of weakened state authority embassy links between one state and another will be less important.
The inclusion of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in high policy sessions, coupled with reductions in the Foreign Service (the State Department's diplomatic core), is thus impelled by historical undercurrents far deeper than the Republican victory in 1994. The military, in all but a technical sense, is no longer ordered anywhere. It is a self-interested bureaucracy with the power of negotiation. The United States didn't go into Bosnia in the early 1990s primarily because the military was reluctant.
Another advantage the military has over the State Department is a disciplined and highly vertical command structure. This limits destabilizing horizontal ambitions more than do civilian bureaucracies, in which, with fewer great causes to struggle for, personal ambition finds fewer legitimate outlets. For example, in an age of two-career couples State is awash with complaints and maneuvering over foreign assignments. There is much less of this in the military, partly because it is less democratic and partly because its culture is more old-fashioned, with the phenomenon of two-career couples less advanced.
Despite perennial bashing by the media, the Central Intelligence Agency may, just like the military, become increasingly influential in the future, perhaps also at the expense of the State Department. Again, technology will be a factor, because the agency has access to an ever-greater range of electronically obtained information that necessitates human analysis. Moreover, a fractured, borderless world full of illicit drugs, plutonium smugglers, and organized crime will require a greater quantity of human intelligence to preserve security against eroding physical borders. "A nuclear detonation in the atmosphere that is not a test is probable in the next ten to fifteen years," Roger Spiller, the George C. Marshall Professor of Military History at Leavenworth, told me, "if only because groups, as well as rogue states, will be acquiring the technology without also acquiring the diplomatic skills and bureaucratic control mechanisms for keeping a nuke without miscalculating." The best way to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the wrong people is human penetration: spies will in effect become border guards. Liberals, then, face another defeat: the very institutions they loathe are precisely the ones that will become more powerful -- the military and the CIA.