The logic of our wars, explained

We’ve received many comments in response to the recent articles about the the Af-Pak War and the history of counterinsurgency warfare (thanks to all who wrote!).  Most question the logic of our wars.  Here’s the answer.

The attack should not have happened, of course.  The rice farmer had been perfectly right; the Federation could not afford to risk its own great cities to punish the villagers of Venus. He was right — from his own viewpoint.

A rice farmer has one logic; men who live by and for power have another and entirely different logic.  Their lives are built on tenuous assumptions, fragile as reputation; they cannot afford to ignore a challenge to their power — the Federation could not afford not to punish the insolent colonists.

— Chapter X of Between Planets by Robert Heinlein (1951)

Logic is situational.  The men and women wielding power in Washington move according to their own needs.  Their own logic.  The decision to make war comes easily to them, as American’s passions are so easily led — and since they have so few children in uniform.

Recent Posts about our wars

  1. Max Boot: history suggests we will win in Afghanistan, with better than 50-50 odds. Here’s the real story., which discussed 7 alleged victories by foreign armies fighting insurgencies (Columbia, Iraq, the Malaysian Emergency, the Philippines-American War, Northern Ireland, the Dhofar Rebellion in Oman, and the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya).
  2. A major discovery! It could change the course of US geopolitical strategy, if we’d only see it, which reviews the present and past analysis of  counter-insurgency.  This could change the course of American foreign policy, if we pay attention.
  3. A look at the history of victories over insurgents. How often do foreign armies win?  — About a RAND study examining the victories of foreign armies over insurgents. It holds powerful lessons for us.
  4. COIN as future generations will see it (and as we should see it today), 1 July 2010
  5. Today’s news about the Ak-Pak War, about al Qaeda’s strength, 1 July 2010

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