By Nadia Schadlow
The United States is at risk of paralysis.
Time and time again, in one sector after another, we articulate strategies and set objectives, but we usually fall short, because we’ve failed to take into account the crucial element of time. Tasks we once accomplished swiftly now drag on for years. Problems we once resolved efficiently now prove interminable. Without incorporating time into our strategic calculations, we will always be too late.
I saw this firsthand while I worked at the White House. In 2017, as deputy national security adviser for strategy, I helped write the U.S. National Security Strategy. I knew that actually implementing the initiatives it detailed would be harder than writing it. Presidential executive orders and White House strategies are merely aspirational until they are linked to budgets, and until tasks are assigned to the organizations that must implement them. But even that is not enough. The NSS outlines priorities, but it does not specify when they must be achieved or provide a mechanism to track how long they are taking. The result is a problem that plagues Democratic and Republican administrations alike, as their initiatives aren’t executed swiftly enough to accomplish what they are intended to achieve. Examples abound:
American leaders consistently emphasize the need to reduce dependence on China for crucial minerals, and although we have abundant domestic resources, it still takes well over a decade, on average, to open a new mine in the United States.