Recommendation to read – “Blinders”, a new essay by William Lind

Lind describes a DOD policy which is moronic.  Not only does this close our system (in terms of information flows) — making it less agile — but it also illustrates the institutional rigidity of our military that makes their adaptation to a new world so difficult.  A world in which 4th generation methods have become the dominant form of warfare.

Zenpundit provides some additional color to this story, with some great links (and graphics).

What Tom Barnett should have told Congress about America’s 21st century Navy

Thomas Barnett is one of our foremost geopolitical visionaries, so his presentations are always worth attention.  His latest is insightful and elegantly expressed, as always.  However, I have a few suggestions — minor changes to make  it better suit the current situation and needs of America.  (I have a draft post in the pipeline describing the implication of the revised Barnett speech for our naval forces.)

Statement submitted By Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett, Senior Managing Director, Enterra Solutions LLC to the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee, House Armed Services Committee, United States Congress, 26 March 2009 (Hat tip to the always-interesting Zenpundit).

I fully agree with the opening of Barnett’s presentation:

I appear before the subcommittee today to provide my professional analysis of the current global security environment and future conflict trends, concentrating on how accurately–in my opinion–America’s naval services address both in their strategic vision and force-structure planning. As has been the case throughout my 2 decades of working for, and with, the Department of Navy, current procurement plans portend a “train wreck” between desired fleet size and likely future budget levels dedicated to shipbuilding.

I am neither surprised nor dismayed by this current mismatch, for it reflects the inherent tension between the Department’s continuing desire to maintain some suitable portion of its legacy force and its more recent impulse toward adapting itself to the far more prosaic tasks of integrating globalization’s “frontier areas” — as I like to call them — as part of our nation’s decades-long effort to play bodyguard to the global economy’s advance, as well as defeat its enemies in the “long war against violent extremism” following 9/11. Right now, this tension is mirrored throughout the Defense Department as a whole: between what Secretary Gates has defined as the “next-war-itis” crowd (primarily Air Force and Navy) and those left with the ever-growing burdens of the long war — namely, the Army and Marines.

Let’s skip ahead to the money paragraph:

As someone who helped write the Department of Navy’s white paper, …From the Sea, in the early 1990s and has spent the last decade arguing that America’s grand strategy should center on fostering globalization’s advance, I greatly welcome the Department’s 2007 Maritime Strategic Concept that stated:

“United States seapower will be globally postured to secure our homeland and citizens from direct attack and to advance our interests around the world. As our security and prosperity are inextricably linked with those of others, U.S. maritime forces will be deployed to protect and sustain the peaceful global system comprised of interdependent networks of trade, finance, information, law, people and governance.’

I suggest a few tweaks to the remaining text.  Better yet, let’s throw it out and substitute the following text.

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Lind explains why Obama’s foreign policy will fail

Another brilliant essay by William Lind:  ” If Wishes Were Horses. . .”, #285 in his series On War, 8 December 2008.  The FM site has many articles on the two themes he discusses.  Of esp import now is reform of the State Department — the necessary element for success of Obama’s policies.  Links to 4 posts about this appear after the excerpt.

Excerpt (bold emphasis added):

Panglissading through reality, the New York Times recently offered the sort of thoughtlessly sunny picture of the Obama administration’s security policy that lulls children to sleep but leaves adults restlessly wakeful. In a front-page story on December 1, “A Handpicked Team for a Foreign Policy Shift” by David Sanger, the Times reported that the new administration’s key national security policy appointees were selected in large part because they have embraced a sweeping shift of resources in the national security arena.

The shift, which would come partly out of the military’s huge budget, would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the coming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states.

Whether they can make the change…”will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisors said recently.

In the best Christmas spirit of my old friend Mr. Scrooge, I will spoil the story by spilling the ending up front. The “great foreign policy experiment” will fail. It will fail for two reasons, one practical and one theoretical.

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Liberal reflections on the causes of the Republicans’ defeat at the polls

The previous post described some conservatives’ reflections after their defeat at the polls.  Liberals have also given some thought to the matter.   Here are a few of their more creative suggestions.

So far most conservative analysis sticks with traditional explanations for defeat, like “insufficient purity” and “inadequate candidate and campaign staff.”  Ann Coulter’s latest article gives us both:

They adored McCain at the Times! Does anyone here not see a cluster of bright red flags? … According to Brooks, the reason McCain lost was — naturally — that he ran as a conservative. If only presidential candidates would spurn polls, modern political history, evidence from campaign rallies, facts on the ground and listen to the wishful thinking of Times columnists!

If McCain lost because he ran as a conservative, then how come I knew McCain was going to lose before Brooks did? About the same time Brooks was touting McCain’s uncanny ability to attract independents, I was writing, accurately: “John McCain is Bob Dole minus the charm, conservatism and youth.”

Rush Limbaugh spoke more explicitly during his 24 October show: ”Good Riddance, GOP Moderates.”   (For more on this subject see What happens to the Republican Party after the election?)

A few liberals attempt to help by suggesting that conservatives adopt a stronger explanation.  Those quoted below provide creative variants of the Dolchstoss, the post-WWI German myth of betrayal.  McCain’s reputation as an honorable man makes the standard “stab in the back” myth difficult to sell, so they devise a story to reconcile these two otherwise incompatible plot elements.

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“Drug cartels ‘threaten’ Mexican democracy”

Another in a series describing the decline of the Mexican State, and what this means for America.

Drug cartels ‘threaten’ Mexican democracy“, Financial Times, 13 July 2008 — Excerpt:

The head of Mexico’s intelligence service has warned that the country’s democratic institutions, including the national Congress, are under threat from powerful drugs cartels.

In one of the frankest admissions yet from a leading authority of the scale of the problem confronting Mexico, Guillermo Valdés, head of Cisen, the government’s intelligence organisation, told the FinancialTimes and a small group of foreign media recently: “Drug traffickers have become the principal threat because they are trying to take over the power of the state.”

 Mr Valdés said the gangs, which have grown wealthy from the multibillion-dollar drugs trade, had co-opted many members of localpolice forces, the judiciary and government entities in their efforts to create local structures to protect their business.

Those efforts, he said, could now also be targeting federal institutions such as Congress itself. “Congress is not exempt . . . we do not rule out the possibility that drug money is involved in the campaigns [of some legislators],” said Mr Valdés.

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Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW

Summary:  This essay sketches out what might be our most reliable defense against fourth generation warfare (4GW) — a militia.  Militia have deep roots in western history, and many of these advantages can work for America today.  Militia also are problematic for several reasons.  These issues must be considered when designing their recruitment, training, and organization.  This is a slightly revised version of an essay published in September 2005.

Contents

  1. Why militia?
  2. Strategic Implications
  3. The right tool for the right war
  4. History of the Militia
  5. An American militia for the 21st Century
  6. Role of an American Militia
  7. Who controls the Militia?What can Militia do for America?
  8. What can Militia do for America?
  9. Politics of Militia
  10. Militia as a Dangerous Innovation
  11. Militia as nucleus for vigilantes
  12. Private Military Companies (aka mercenaries, in a new form for the age of 4GW)
  13. Decline of the State
  14. Conclusions
  15. For more information

As a follow-up see Lawrence Korb of CAP and CDI advocates a militia, 4 June 2008.

(1)  Why militia?

The home court advantage is powerful in 4GW.  Since Mao brought 4GW to maturity, local forces waging 4GW often defeat better organized, trained and equipped foreign forces.  Another way to say this:  in 4GW defense is the strongest mode of warfare, as it has often been in the past.  COIN expert David Killcullen implicitly recognised this in the first article of his famous and widely cited “Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency“, Military Review, May – June 2006.

Know the people, the topography, economy, history, religion and culture.  Know every village, road, field, population group, tribal leader and ancient grievance.  Your task is to become the world expert on your district.

The superiority of defense is not a new aspect of war, as seen in these quotes from Clausewitz’s On War.

As we shall show, defense is a stronger form of fighting than attack. … I am convinced that the superiority of the defensive (if rightly understood) is very great, far greater than appears at first sight.  {Book 1, Chapter 1}

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Keeping score: how well did 4GW theory predict events in Iraq?

Summary:  Part I explained why the war might end in 2009.  Part II described what Iraq might look like after the new President negotiates a “master settlement” with Iran and the major Iraq factions)  This post compares this scenario with some of the forecasts by 4GW analysts, and asks why the mis-match.

A negotiated settlement along the lines described in the previous two posts — giving everybody something they need, nobody getting everything they want — matches neither the dreams of the neocons nor the worst fears of many 4GW analysts.  Consider Martin van Creveld’s two articles about the Iraq War.

Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did  (2004) — Conclusion:

That is why the present adventure will almost certainly end as the previous one did. Namely, with the last US troops fleeing the country while hanging on to their helicopters’ skids.

Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War“, The Forward  (25 November 2005) — Excerpt:

Clearly, then, the thing to do is to forget about face-saving and conduct a classic withdrawal.

Handing over their bases or demolishing them if necessary, American forces will have to fall back on Baghdad. From Baghdad they will have to make their way to the southern port city of Basra, and from there back to Kuwait, where the whole misguided adventure began. When Prime Minister Ehud Barak pulled Israel out of Lebanon in 2000, the military was able to carry out the operation in a single night without incurring any casualties. That, however, is not how things will happen in Iraq.

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