January 20, 2007

Into the Gap, Dear Friends!

Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATED with a correction; see below.

In the comments section of an earlier post, a commenter took exception, rather testily, to my point that none of the dissenting generals summoned to testify before Sen. Joseph Biden's Foreign Relations Committee hearings -- the generals summoned by Biden to oppose our strategic change of course in Iraq -- had any post-9/11 military experience (in fact one of them, Gen. Odom, didn't even have any post-Soviet Union military experience... he's two paradigm shifts behind the power curve!)

The commenter responded,

What the hell does that have to do with anything? What exactly changed in military sciences since 911?

Pretty much our entire military strategy. It was a seminal event, like 1917 or the dropping of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What the commenter was asking was akin to asking, in 1950, 'What the hell does the atomic bomb have to do with anything? What exactly changed in military sciences since Hiroshima?'

9/11 was not the first indication that our entire military posture was out of whack with the world; but the earlier warnings were polite wake-up calls from the front desk at the hotel: 9/11 was the drill instructor bursting into the barracks and flipping your bed over (with you in it).

From the end of the Cold War until to the attack of 9/11, we more or less ignored the "lesser includeds" until they actually did something; and we gave no thought whatsoever to transnational non-state groups, thinking them only a "police problem." Osama bin Laden declared war on us in 1998 or so... and most Americans (including the top brass in the 5-sided triangle) just laughed. What could some bearded cave-hermit do to the mighty United States of America?

("Lesser includeds": during the Cold War, we focused entirely on fighting the Soviets... believing that if we had an army capable of handling Moscow, it could surely handle any smaller, more primitive country that threatened us, or whom it was in our national interest to attack. Hence, such countries were called "lesser includeds."

(1965-1974 demonstrated that the theory did not always work. The Soviets learned the same lesson during their occupation of Afghanistan a few years later.)

We kept an eye on some about the lesser included states -- Iraq and Iran, North Korea, the former Yugoslavia, etc. -- but we thought about them purely in nation-state terms, and more or less as a nuisance, not a threat: they might invade their neighbors, and we might have to respond, e.g., to push Iraq out of Kuwait. But they couldn't do anything to us; we were the lone superpower, the hyperpower! We would strike at our leisure, using some variation of the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming military force.

I have called that doctrine "refighting World War II;" we fought WWII six times from 1941 to 1999: Kosovo, Bosnia, the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, and of course the original itself. We used the same tactics and had more or less the same military understanding in each conflict.

But two years after the sixth WWII, after the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon itself (and the White House, if not for the courageous sacrifice of the passengers of United flight 93), Donald Rumsfeld realized that we had three terrible military dillemmas:

  1. We had the wrong military;
  2. We had the wrong strategy;
  3. We had the wrong political understanding of the threat matrix -- were were looking all the wrong directions.

Nothing was right; Rumsfeld's greatest contribution to American security was not fighting and winning two major wars... his greatest feat was the complete transformation of the American military: force structure, grand strategy, and political theory. This is something which has only been done a few times in the history of the Republic, and even more rarely so much by the efforts of one man.

Rumsfeld is certainly cognizant of the ideas of Thomas P.M. Barnett. While I don't agree with everything Barnett says, the central thesis of his seminal book, the Pentagon's New Map (2004) is bang-on.

What follows is my understanding and analysis of his points; I may not completely get it, but this is more or less what he is saying -- and especially my own thoughts on this profound subject.

Turning on a paradigm

Paradigm: "A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline."

In the early days of our military, our paradigm was that we were a struggling, young nation trying to exert some influence on a world that largely ignored us. Then we became one among many powerful nations that had to be taken into account.

World War I was a singularity point: the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world changed completely with our entry into World War I; from that point on, we were a "superpower" compared to old Europe. This understanding lasted right up through the rise of Germany and Japan: if you wanted to dominate the world, you would eventually have to conquer the United States... something Germany was loath to do, and something Japan thought they could prevent by a swift, unexpected blow in 1941.

Militarily, from 1917 through World War II, we completely altered our force structure and our grand strategy. Consider the changes in the United States Navy: we had already recognized the need for a modern, blue-water navy as early as the 1880s; in 1907, we sent a flotilla to circumnavigate the world. But the most profound changes occurred after WWI, with the rise of battleships, cruisers, submarines, and aircraft carriers -- despite periodic (and absurdly ineffectual) attempts to limit navies worldwide.

Air power was introduced in WWI, and it became a vital part of our force structure in the 1930s and especially during WWII. Armored vehicles (tanks and APCs), machine guns, jeeps and trucks, and self-propelled field artillery did not even exist in the 19th century.

[UPDATE: Commenter visarionvich points out that hand-cranked machine guns -- e.g., Gatling guns -- existed in Civil War days, and even the Maxim automatic machine gun debuted in the 1880s; it appears to have first been used in combat by the Brits in the 1890s, after the development of smokeless powder made it more effective in combat (that is, less obviously visible to enemy forces). So let's say that militarily useful machine guns did not exist until the tail end of the 19th century. The underlying point is intact, I believe.]

During WWII, we fielded armies whose size dwarfed not only the armies of earlier centuries but even our army of today.

And it was also during the period of 1917 through WWII that we first began to appreciate the power and danger of WMD -- weapons of mass destruction; in particular, poison gas and nuclear weapons. (Biowar had been practiced in primative form for centuries.)

On the strategic political front, this was the period of the League of Nations. Our first groping attempt to construct a platform for integrating all nations into modernity, where they could settle their grievances by means other than warfare, was a dismal failure -- as was our second attempt, the United Nations; but the idea was planted and began to take hold in many nations. Today, it appears our best shot at this will be through free-trade agreements that will eventually spread, we hope, to encompass all countries. To paraphrase a pop song, "trade... trade will keep us together!"

(Modernity is here defined as the particular understanding of culture, nationalism, and civilization that developed in Europe and America following the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, which ended the War of 1812 at status-quo ante.)

Our entire concept of warfare was reborn during this period, from the structure of our military forces, to the strategies we employed or anticipated from our enemies, to the uses, abuses, and prevention of warfare itself: war in 1935 was a completely different creature from war in Napoleon's day.

The end of World War II (the original) ended the era of major nation-states in the "Functioning Core" attacking one another; there has been no such attack since 1945. Rather, all state combat has included a state within the "Non-Integrating Gap" as one or both of the combatants: northern Korea invading southern Korea; U.N. forces invading northern Korea; France in Vietnam; America in Vietnam; Iraq invading Kuwait; and so forth... and at this point, I had better define those two terms, the Functioning Core and the Non-Integrating Gap.

The Core and the Gap defined

In my opinion (not Barnett's), the globalization of modernity began in the 1850s, with the opening of Japan by America.

Britain's seizure of Hong Kong in the 1840s had been a classic colonial grab: not only did they make no effort to "modernize" the Chinese, they forced them to buy opium at the point of a gun. They wanted the Chinese to remain ignorant, isolated, primitive, and ruled over by Henry Unwin Addington's Foreign Office.

But when America's Commodore Perry steamed into Uraga Harbor near modern Tokyo (then Edo), refusing to go instead to the southern port of Nagasaki (until then, the only port where foreigners were allowed), he forced the end of the isolationist Tokugawa Shogunate -- which had taken the entire "empire" of Japan "offline," closing it to the rest of the world, from 1616 to 1639 under Iyeyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun, and his grandson, Iyemitsu. (Interestingly, the closing of Japan began as an attempt to ban Christianity from the islands.)

Perry integrated Japan into the Functioning Core of modern, liberal, democratic states; the Japanese expanded their horizons, educated themselves about the outside world, and took their place among the community of nations.

Post-Perry, the Shogunate collapses into the Meiji restoration; and unlike China under the British, the Japanese eagerly embraced Western modernity, becoming the first non-European nation to do so.

This begins what Barnett calls the Functioning Core, which comprises those nations and regions that integrate themselves into the various waves of globalization that have swept across, well, the globe; those nations that interconnect and interact with each other, sharing culture and sharing a "rule-set" that determines behavior, both between different states and within a state. Japan, Great Britain, Western Europe, Canada, Mexico, modern Germany, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, post-Soviet Russia, post-Mao China, Argentina, and Israel, are (or were) all examples of countries inside the Functioning Core.

The Non-Integrating Gap comprises all states or regions that remain outside globalization's reach: all of Africa (except for South Africa), Indonesia, Malaysia, Arabia, the 'Stans, and large parts of Central and South America reside inside the Non-Integrating Gap; these are all countries or areas that remain isolated, sometimes by sheer poverty, but often because iron-fisted dictators forbid all contact with the outside world.

A bipolar world

With the end of World War II and the dawn of the nuclear age, the second great world paradigm shift occurred. The first, recall, was when the United States entered WWI in 1917 and broke the multi-year stalemate, crushing the original "axis" of Berlin-Vienna-Budapest. When Great Britain and the United States annihilated Nazi Germany, and America alone simlutaneously broke Japan, that ended the era in which Core states would directly fight one another. Since 1945, none has done so. When they do battle, they fight in the arenas of politics and economics.

Instead, we see wars of Core vs. Gap (the United States in Vietnam) and Gap vs. Gap (Vietnam vs. Cambodia, to stick with that neck of the jungle). We also saw the rise, after WWII, of the Bipolar World: the West vs. the Soviets. We fought the Soviets many times, but always via proxies among Gap nations. (During this period, China went Communist under Mao; but it wasn't until Mao's successor, Deng Xiaoping, that China transitioned from Gap to Core state.)

Our military transitioned during this period to fit the grand strategies of "détente" and "containment." Missiles and strategic aviation became the dominating factors. The purpose of ground armies shifted from fighting war to threatening to fight war -- from combat to the prevention of combat. Think of the vast armored divisions squaring off against each other at the border of West and East Germany -- forces whose only "use" was to prevent the enemy from using his own forces.

The doctrine of MAD -- mutual assured destruction -- was wholly different from any military strategy in the history of the world: it was the theory that no nation could launch a nuclear attack against any other, because the victim would launch a retaliatory strike that, in the ensuing exchange, would utterly destroy both attacker and attacked (the theory was proven correct). One of the greatest analogies in military history perfectly describes MAD: two men locked in a room, standing ankle-deep in gasoline, each holding a lit match.

So the politico-strategic concept of containment -- allowing the expansionist Soviets to do what they wanted within their sphere, but preventing them from extending outside their sphere -- was perfectly reflected in a static military grand strategy that ended direct warfare between Core states, instead fighting entirely within the Gap.

The great (internal) divide

The next paradigm shift came with the final collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. President Ronald Reagan's genius was to recognize as early as the 1970s that the USSR had become like a "blown egg," a hollowed out eggshell that could be shattered simpy by poking it; but he was unable to deliver that poke until he became president. By the time he left office in 1989, the breach had already occurred, though the final collapse took another couple of years.

Then came the interregnum of the 1990s, when we did not know what was coming next. This led to complete chaos in our military force structure and strategic planning: we were all set up to defend against an Evil Empire that no longer existed. Barnett describes how the Navy especially, but the entire Pentagon, broke into three main groups that fought among each other:

  1. The Transitioneers: "They saw a world minus the Soviets as quite chaotic, and so they believed U.S. forces needed to be out in the world, dealing with as many of those lesser includes as possible so as to assure the transition to a safer era;"
  2. The Big Sticks: "They were not interested in trying to manage the world, because they saw that as a drain on much-needed warfighting assets. Instead, they wanted to gear up for the next Desert Storm, figuring the Persian Gulf tussle with Saddam would prove the template for future regional conflicts."
  3. The Cold Worriers: "They effectively rejected any focus on the lesser includeds, preferring instead to wait for signs of the Big One -- no matter how long that took.... [T]heir real argument was that America needed to keep its powder dry and stay technologically ahead of any great power that might sneak up on us in coming decades."

(Barnett, the Pentagon's New Map, 69-70.)

This hodgepodge of grand strategies, none of which could overcome the others, played against the backdrop of the Clinton administration's military fecklessness:

  • They began an 8-year program to slash the military to the bone; this pitted each service, and each group above within each service, against the others in an internecine war over funding;
  • They deployed American military forces all around the world, based not on any coherent vision of national security, but rather in a higgledy-piggledy bid for popularity and the attempt to help the Democratic Party (or Bill Clinton) politically;
  • Finally, after a brief and disasterous flirtation with military reform under Les Aspin, Clinton's first secretary of defense, the administration shifted to a completely "hands-off" posture... leaving the dogs of the Pentagon to war with each other for the alpha-male slot without any civilian supervision whatsoever. Barnett calls William Perry and William Cohen "two of the quietest secretaries the Pentagon has ever had"... and that's not a compliment.

We were drifting; the Pentagon was consumed by FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt); we had no idea who the next big enemy would be. Little did we know that all these debates were about to be OBE: overtaken by events.

The great (internal) uniting

On September 11th, 2001, the DI burst into the barracks and flipped all our beds over, jolting us awake in the most abrupt and alarming way.

We realized that we'd been hunting the enemy in all the wrong places: the real danger was not the rise of a new "superpower" to take the place of the Soviet Union, nor from a lesser included like Iraq or North Korea directly attacking us or our assets abroad. The real danger, which everybody had missed (yes, even the godlike Richard Clark himself), was that we would be attacked by transnational third-party terrorist groups, funded and trained by the lesser includeds, but driven by their own ideological demons.

I've come to the conclusion that Iran qua Iran will never attack us; they won't even attack Israel. Oh, Ahmadinejad may order such an attack; but if he did, the mullahs and their generals would simply remove him.

They're content instead to play the role of a mini-Soviet Union, in response to us treating them to a heaping does of "containment." Instead of attacking directly, Iran will send Hezbollah and Hamas to attack Israel, or the United States, or some other Western nation (as the Soviets used Cuba, Angola, Nicaragua, or Vietnam as proxies to attack the West). Hussein's Iraq will eager to train al-Qaeda; anti-Western elements within Saudi Arabia, acting against the express policy of the government of Saudi Arabia, are happy fund al-Qaeda; and radical elements within Pakistan, in direct defiance of President Pervez Musharaff, gleefully offer safe haven to al-Qaeda.

This is the new military paradigm of the post-Soviet, "monocular" era: no direct attack by nations in the Functioning Core against each other; no direct attack by lesser includeds in the Non-Integrating Gap against Core states; but rather attack by subnational-transnational networked armies of terrorists. And the paradigm shift has provoked just as profound an reorganization of our entire military as the other two paradigm shifts (1917 and 1945): not just force structure alone but our grand strategy -- "closing the gap" -- and the very politics of warfare.

Integration: the most urgent mission

After a decade of foundering under first Bush-41 then Clinton, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld developed our first Grand Military Strategy since containment ended; he did this by pushing his aides and the brass until they were ready to strangle him; by plaguing the Pentagon with his interminable "snowflakes," Post-It notes stuck onto computer screens, refrigerators, and memos, containing difficult questions that demanded answers before planning could proceed; and (to be perfectly blunt) by firing or retiring everyone who couldn't adjust.

I'm quite certain that Rumsfeld has read the Barnett book; certainly he is aware of the ideas: Barnett personally briefed all the deputy assistant secretaries of defense in 2002. I doubt the secretary would use Barnettian language; but various contacts Barnett reports with the Office of the Secretary of Defense's "policy shop" make it clear that Rumsfeld "gets" the point.

Our primary military and political mission now is to close the Non-Integrating Gap as much as humanly possible. Not for humanitarian reasons, though certainly that will be a stunning serendipitous benefit. Rather, we must close the Gap because its existence -- its isolation, poverty, violence, and hysterical extremism -- is a critical factor in allowing wealthy, educated terrorist masterminds to transform disgruntled, uneducated, impoverished thugs into transnational terrorist armies that existentially threaten the West.

Close the Gap, and the Osamas of the world will have nowhere to recruit.

Consider all the places where the threat posed by the funding and support of terrorism rises to existential levels: Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Chechnya, the 'Stans, Africa, Yemen, Qatar, Lebanon, Syria, North Korea, Southeast Asia. What do these countries and regions have in common?

  • They're not all Arabs;
  • They're not all Moslems;
  • They're not connected by geography;
  • They are all, however, contained with the Non-Integrating Gap.

Typically, we don't close the Gap in as dramatic a fashion as we're doing in Afghanistan and Iraq; but that must always remain an option, until globalization becomes truly global, when America has successfully exported modernity to the entire world.

One of the best ways to close the Gap is via free trade and Capitalism; thus, NAFTA and GATT are actually agents of our Grand Strategy... as Gap nations begin trading with the West, they must of necessity open themselves up to the rest of the world -- which is the essence of integrating themselves into the Functioning Core.

Another element of the Grand Strategy is to enter into security arrangements with countries in the Gap, such as Pakistan, Kuwait, and Ethiopia. Look how well that worked just a few weeks ago, as Ethiopian troops -- with U.S. cooperation, planning, and air support -- drove the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Courts Union out of Somalia, a task that we ourselves, plus the U.N., failed to do to extremist warlords (such as Colonel Mohammed Aidid) in the 1990s. Ethiopia was much more effective in Somalia than we because it was fighting in its own backyard.

Another is classic containment, as we're doing at the moment to Iran: isolating the worst offenders and blockading them, so they cannot exploit the Gap to expand their power or sponsor terrorist attacks against the Core.

Finally, we retain the ultimate Weapon of Mass Integration: regime change by force. As with Afghanistan and Iraq, at times it becomes a vital American national interest to remove a particularly dangerous regime within the Gap -- the Taliban, the Baathists, and perhaps the Iranian mullahs, if containment fails -- and replace it with a functioning, modern, integrated democratic state. Sometimes we will succeed; sometimes we will fail... but when we fail, it only means we must try again later; we will never be safe from transnational terrorism until we completely close the Non-Integrated Gap, bringing globalization to everyone... whether by cajoling, bribery, or force of arms.

This is America's most vital mission, for our own survival: to close the Gap. It's wonderful that it will have the extra benefit of relieving pandemic misery and terror that infects those who have the misfortune to live "off the grid" of the world; but, like true Capitalists, we must ultimately function according to "the virtue of selfishness."

Then, when we succeed -- and we must not fail -- we'll be ready for the next great paradigm shift. And who knows what that will be?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 20, 2007, at the time of 6:23 PM

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Tracked on February 12, 2007 12:23 PM


The following hissed in response by: Rod

"Then, when we succeed ..." What planet are you loiving on. With his wee surge Bush is "staying the course" and snatching defeat fron the jaws of victory. The Generals last Nov said we needed a surge of 100,000 *grunts* or in Bush troups 250,000 since he sends 2 people to take care of politicians for every warrior he sends. One of the Gens who authored the "surge" proposal has been very angry with the President for pretending to surge when he in fact is only bring the troop level back to 2 years ago.
The wee surge is insufficient! We are on the road to defeat!

The above hissed in response by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2007 6:43 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Well there are lots of generals out there and not so long ago the Democrats were trotting out the ones who said we needed more troops. If Bush said day was light and night was dark they would call him a liar.

Very Good post. I had no idea what a lot of meant, but it was still very good.

BTW, the surge is really just about bringing in the next rotation sooner.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2007 7:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


So I must conclude you favor sending an additional 100,000 to 250,000 troops into Iraq.

Am I right?


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2007 9:11 PM

The following hissed in response by: bill

More than the surge, which is nothing more than a slight re-enforcement, the change in the rules of engagement will accomplish a lot more. Sadr must go, he is trying to do in Iraq what Nasrallah has done in Lebanon.

The 138k troops in Iraq are adequate, the surge is not really that significant. There were more troops than this in Iraq during their last election, weren't needed. We need Iraqis to step up, they are doing so, they just need time to get it right.

I agree with the shift in strategy arguments, Rumsfeld had explained the essence of it long ago. Nuclear weapons make nation state conflicts obsolete. MAD is as applicable to Pakistan as it was to the Soviet Union, as long as there is a return address, MAD works.

Nuclear weapons also make the non-integrating Gap extremely risky for nation states. I doubt one nation could survive a nuclear terror attack. Not only would the attack likely implode the nations economy, and shake the world's, the affect on the psyche of the citizens would be dire. WWII nuclear technology has become every nations technology, if they have the will and the means. We have reached the "Nth Country", all you have to do is want it now.

I have always said we attacked Iraq because of their nuclear weapons program, nuclear technology and engineering know-how does not become obsolete. Iraq was a nation state on the brink of success with the bomb when gulf war one happened, according to UNMOVIC -- They said 6 months out. Who knows what Iraq would have done with the nukes. Likely attack Israel which would then escalate into a full nuclear exchange that the world may not be able to handle --Everyone on the planet would feel the pain, or the black mail. Given this 1991 nuclear know-how, using WWII nuclear technology, Iraq was less than two years from a bomb in 2003 when we invaded, less if NK, Libya or Pakistan helped them out.

So Rumsfeld's highly mobile networked force, able to deploy to and fight on foreign lands was born. Never again will nation states square off with fields full of tanks. Iraq proved the futility of that approach. Wars will continue, the paradigm has shifted.

It's all about terrorists getting nukes, it's always been all about nukes.

The above hissed in response by: bill [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2007 9:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: Pyrran

The "Surge Plan" is so much more that just sending 20K troops to secure Baghdad and it's suburbs. As Dafydd explained in an earlier post, its about more flexibility, more Iraqi responsibility, and more security. All the news media can focus on is 20,000 troops, 20,000 troops, 20,000 troops, ad nausum. Why no details of the plan from our television cub reporters? Why only this mad search to find people who disagree with the plan? Why no questions to the Mass from Mass, Ted Kennedy about his plan? Do they really want this to fail, despite the massive consequences, just to win an election? Lets don't wait until we're sitting in our own rubble with 20 million dead to decide it was a mistake to give the terrorists a nation rich with oil money to build and use an Islamic bomb.

The above hissed in response by: Pyrran [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 12:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sachi


Do they really want this to fail, despite the massive consequences, just to win an election?

I'm afraid so.

The above hissed in response by: Sachi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 3:23 AM

The following hissed in response by: Rod

DAFYDD - You betcha Red Rider!
No wee surge . Surge with vigor!
As a famous kid from So Cal said ".. The idea is to make the other guy give his life for his country..."

If you are not familiar with SoCal kid His name was Gen Paton and as a SoCal kis and Nam Vet i think he got it right,

an old exJarhead

The above hissed in response by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 5:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: visarionvich

You write that the machine gun was one of the weapons that didn't exist in the 19th century.

The Maxim gun was in production during the 1880s, and the Gatling gun, which you may or may not regard as a machine gun, saw service in the Civil War.

The above hissed in response by: visarionvich [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 6:38 AM

The following hissed in response by: madconductor


Excellent post. A good summary of facts and history to get us to current day military and global strategies. As to closing the Non-Integrating gap, the idea that free trade and capitalism will help is sound. In fact, milblogs and some news blogs are all reporting that the requests for funds to create jobs is high on everybody's list. Even ITM posed this in their most recent blog - and many reconstruction requests are coming from sheiks, not just Iraq Interior Ministers. Give them jobs and reduce their desire to fight is a strategy that has proven to be successful - making money is better than poverty and reduces the likelihood that some jihadist can talk you into dying for his cause.

As for Rod's opinion, I think if the plan was to kick ass and do it ourselves, then he is right. I don't think that's a good plan - it is time for the Iraqi's to step up and I think they are ready and willing. A successful campaign at this point doesn't mean the US did it alone - nor should it. It will show that Iraq is capable of control themselves. And it should be that way. So sending incredibly more amounts of troops may win, but Iraq loses it's own momentum.

As for dealing with Sadr, kill him. He's as much of a problem as Osama is. While he has purportedly given his militia orders to stand down and not fight during this campaign, I'm sure many of them will ignore that.

I agree with you 100% on Rumsfeld's brilliance during his tenure. His methods and adaptation to what was really the world stage will keep our own democracy one more step away from imploding. It may be sooner than later when the dumocrats figure that out. I'm optimistic. Now if we can just get those transnational weirdo Islamofacism dudes from blowing too much of the US up during this process we can stay on top of this thing called terror - mostly because our standing army paradigm changed. Thanks Mr. Rumsfeld.

The above hissed in response by: madconductor [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 11:06 AM

The following hissed in response by: SkyWatch

Thany you for the work it took to make that post Dafydd. I greatly enjoyed reading it and it made me think about a few things in the process.

The above hissed in response by: SkyWatch [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 2:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: SkyWatch

Thank You* even.

The above hissed in response by: SkyWatch [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 2:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: ShoreMark

Good stuff Dafydd, thanks.

The above hissed in response by: ShoreMark [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 2:59 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Thanks for the correction on machine guns; I updated the post.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 3:15 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


No wee surge . Surge with vigor!

All right... where exactly would you deploy 100,000 to 250,000 more men? What would be their mission?

And how would such an escalation (that really would be an escalation, which the current strategic change of course isn't) aid the ultimate victory condition of standing Iraq up as a functioning, independent democracy in the heart of the Arab Middle East?

Wouldn't it simply become an American colony instead?


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 3:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Not to mention the fact that there is no way political way to do it.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 5:18 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


That's a different other question; we're just blue-skying at the moment.

If I could wave a magic pickle and cause an army of 200,000 Noldorian Elvish warriors in full Special Forces battle gear plus Elvish swords to materialize in Iraq -- backpacks stuffed with a year's worth of lembas -- I still wouldn't wag my pickle... because at the end of the day, I want the Iraqis to be able to defend their own turf, not rely upon magical elves to do it for them.

I'm curious why Ron disagrees: what he wants to do, what result he hopes to achieve, and why he thinks the first will lead to the second.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2007 7:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: SDN


In at least one CRUCIAL aspect, we have never refought WWII: None of the wars since then have been fought to the unconditional surrender of one side or the other. And that is why they have failed, particularly North Korea, Viet Nam, and now Iraq. To encourage a people to utterly change their way of life, for example to bring the warrior Nez Pierce to say "I will fight no more, forever.", you must convince an overwhelming majority that to resist is to die, that even a radical alteration in way of life is preferable. There is a reason why we saw no militias in the streets of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, why even the Werewolves could gain no traction in the streets of Dresden. Certainly there was a Marshall Plan, but only with proper preparation.

OH, HUBSHEE, carry your shoes in your hand and bow your head on your breast! This is the message of Kitchener who did not break you in jest. It was permitted to him to fulfill the long-appointed years; Reaching the end ordained of old over your dead Emirs.

He stamped only before your walls, and the Tomb ye knew was dust:
He gathered up under his armpits all the swords of your trust:
He set a guard on your granaries, securing the weak from the strong:
He said: -- " Go work the waterwheels that were abolished so long."
He said: -- "Go safely, being abased. I have accomplished my vow."
That was the mercy of Kitchener. Cometh his madness now!

He does not desire as ye desire, nor devise as ye devise:
He is preparing a second host -- an army to make you wise.
Not at the mouth of his clean-lipped guns shall ye learn his name again,
But letter by letter, from Kaf to Kaf, at the mouths of his chosen men.
He has gone back to his own city, not seeking presents or bribes,
But openly asking the English for money to buy you Hakims and scribes.
Knowing that ye are forfeit by battle and have no right to live,
He begs for money to bring you learning -- and all the English give.
It is their treasure -- it is their pleasure -- thus are their hearts inclined:
For Allah created the English mad -- the maddest of all mankind!

They do not consider the Meaning of Things; they consult not creed nor clan.
Behold, they clap the slave on the back, and behold, he ariseth a man!
They terribly carpet the earth with dead, and before their cannon cool,
They walk unarmed by twos and threes to call the living to school.
How is this reason (which is their reason) to judge a scholar's worth,
By casting a ball at three straight sticks and defending the same with a fourth?
But this they do (which is doubtless a spell) and other matters more strange,
Until, by the operation of years, the hearts of their scholars change:

Till these make come and go great boats or engines upon the rail
(But always the English watch near by to prop them when they fail);
Till these make laws of their own choice and Judges of their own blood;
And all the mad English obey the Judges and say that that Law is good.

Certainly they were mad from of old; but I think one new thing,
That the magic whereby they work their magic -- wherefrom their fortunes spring --
May be that they show all peoples their magic and ask no price in return.
Wherefore, since ye are bond to that magic, O Hubshee, make haste and learn!
Certainly also is Kitchener mad. But one sure thing I know --
If he who broke you be minded to teach you, to his Madrissa go!
Go, and carry your shoes in your hand and bow your head on your breast,
For he who did not slay you in sport, he will not teach you in jest.

"Kitchener's School", Rudyard Kipling

Until we regain the capacity to break first, then build, we will continue to lose.

The above hissed in response by: SDN [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2007 4:50 PM

The following hissed in response by: Pyrran

Sounds like we might learn a lot from Lord K.
And by the way, the ROE are the main problems we have in Iraq right now. The terrorists know them better than the American people do, mainly because the news media wouldn't point them out as a problem to be solved. Perhaps if someone told the New York Times that Bush would be damaged if their "news"paper released the information........

The above hissed in response by: Pyrran [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2007 9:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: Rod

Dafddy - One of the biggest problems American fighting men have faced the last 44 years is that decisions that should be made by men sleeping in the open and fixing their own meals are in fact made by men sleeping indoors and eating food that others prepare for them. I would not determine where the men went. If I were to make a decision my decision would be to agree with the Gens. Who wrote the “Surge” proposal 2 months ago and send warriors. Which as I said earlier is not what we have done the last 3 years and the wee surge proposal includes a lot of non warriors. So if I were making the decision it would not be 250,000 but 100,000 all warriors not support other than ammunition logisticians and medical.

The answer to your second question is that men I know who have been and are again in Iraq (3 Jarheads, E4 – E6) say the “functioning, independent democracy” has been going downhill the last 2 years. As fast as our contractors build a generating station or an oil refinery the bad guys destroy it. A large proportion of the population is totally dependent on food, clothes, shelter, etc. provided by the American taxpayer. This is corroborated by a number of milbloggers over there who say they can not post when they want because of power failures. Iraq is *not* functioning now. If we kill the bad guys (of which there are over 100,000 ) the Iraqis may be able to build a functioning economy and thereby support a “functioning, independent democracy”. No guarantee the vigorous surge would succeed. But it seems to be guaranteed that we are currently on the road to failure; which the wee surge extends. Both on what I see on the net and what the Jarheads tell me. I do not know any Doggies so I do not have their point of view on the situation.

The above hissed in response by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2007 10:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: Tomy


It's taken me awhile to find this, but here is an exchange that took place March 22, 2006.

Are you familiar with with the writings of Thomas P.M. Barnett? His WEBLOG can be linked fron his home page at www.thomaspmbarnett.com. I learned of him today. He is a skilled and experienced military strategist and is reported to have a factual based article that shows the fallacy of sending a larger force into Iraq during the March 2003 invasion.

The above hissed in response by: justphishing March 22, 2006


Given the larger strategic goal of establishing a stable, functioning democracy in the heart of the Middle East (that is, in Iraq), TPMB is quite correct. This is also why, e.g., John McCain is just dead wrong to suggest we up the force level to 500,000 soldiers now to "destroy the insurgency."

I have thought for some time that the Democrats want Iraq to be Vietnam so they can make us lose again... and McCain and many older Republicans (William F. Buckley, George Will, Bill Kristol) want Iraq to be Vietnam so that we can fight Vietnam all over again -- and this time win it, by jiminey!

But I'm with Donald Rumsfeld: I want Iraq not to be Vietnam, because Vietnam was the last big replay of World War II in terms of tactics... massive force maneuvered as if we were refighting Iwo Jima.

But we were no longer fighting an imperial power like Japan; we were fighting true Communist insurgents in Vietnam (with a national front and everything). We beat them, but it was a horribly bloody war... what, 58,000 dead? Is that what McCain wants?

Iraq is a completely different animal. Note:

* No superpower opposing us in the field;

* No national front;

* No ideologically based insurgency (the true insurgents in Iraq -- the Iraqis who fight against American soldiers -- just want all the foreigners out, and maybe a few bitter-enders want Saddam back);

* The Iraqis really do back the United States;

* Most of the deaths are caused by foreign jihadi terrorists, not Iraqis.

In Vietnam, there already was a democracy (of an Asian sort) in the South; we were trying to preserve it. In Iraq, there has never been a democracy; the country is fictional; and we're trying to jump-start history.

Rumsfeld had exactly the right idea: as small a footprint as possible, as little infrastructure damage as we could, de-Baathify the institutions, dissolve the army and build a brand new one, dissolve the police and build a new one.

He didn't get that last item on the wish list because, while Defense was responsible for the Iraqi Army, the State Department (the CPA and Paul Bremer) was responsible for the Iraqi Security Force (the cops)... and State, as always, prefers to work with existing structures, even when they're corrupt and flawed, rather than break them and build a new structure. (They're diplomats: to them, every problem looks like a treaty opportunity.)

Thus, the cops consist of existing tribes -- with all their tribal rivalries -- and the top officers are the same ones who were there when Saddam ruled the roost.

Interior is run by the top tribal chiefs among the Shia, as is the prime ministership, whether it's al-Jaafari or Abdul-Mahdi.

The areas that were under Don Rumsfeld's control are doing great; the areas where the major decisions were made by Colin Powell and his agents are the parts that are still broken.

I haven't read Barnett's piece, but I would probably agree with it.


Am I an agent in getting Barnett's book into the right hands?

Tomy (aka Justphishing)

And by the way, your recent post describing the fallacy of the insurgents fading into the background, and waiting for the American troops to leave is, I think, on the mark. It is something I've been thinking of lately, because of concerns that the enemy would be emboldened by our short-sighted, lame-brained, Congress. I was thinking that the enemy tactic could be to fade and wait until Congress got its way. But then I concluded it wouldn't work for the enemy, and for the reasons you spelled out.


The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2007 10:53 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I don't know who that joker is that you're quoting, but I agree with him 100%!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2007 12:09 AM

The following hissed in response by: Tomy


I've been planning to get Barnett's book "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century" since that day back in March when I first heard of him and mentioned him to you. Now that you have actually done what I've been planning to do, what do you think of it? Does he support the small footprint strategy? And how do we [you, he, and I] reconcile the new counterinsurgency strategy (which places security of the population as the number one priority) with the small footprint strategy?


The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2007 8:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: Tomy


Here is an excerpt from Barnett's latest book "Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating":

Right now there is a debate raging within the Pentagon and the military as a whole about what the war in Iraq, as well as the ongoing occupation, tells us about the future of war. This debate fundamentally pits the two dominant visions of future war against each other in what I consider to be a false dichotomy, meaning a choice that does not need to be made-and, frankly, should not be made.

As you might have guessed by now, the two sides in this debate are functionally derived: the air community (the flyboys) versus the infantry (the boots on the ground). Of course, such naked descriptions are not typically employed. The outlook of the air community (the Air Force plus the Navy's carrier-based aircraft) is widely known as Network-Centric Operations (NCO), the currently dominant phrase for describing how the "revolution in military affairs" has "transformed the force." In contrast, the ground-pounders of the Army and Marine Corps tend to subscribe to the seemingly opposite position, or Fourth-Generation Warfare (4GW), which naturally favors definitions of conflict far less driven by technological advances than by the enduring qualities of men in combat. This debate can be described as machines versus warriors.

This book appears to address my question above, on reconciling the light footprint strategy with the new counterinsurgency strategy, and I'm going to order, tonight, both "The Pentagon's New Map" and "Blueprint for Action", and within weeks will have more knowledge than can be beared.


The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2007 9:08 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I think the book is utterly fascinating, for all that I'm not sure I buy the extension of the central thesis to the extent of, e.g., buddying up to China. He has convinced me that they will never attack us or attack Taiwan (overtly); but "this far and no farther," as the saying goes.

The small footprint is still the way to go; but there is obviously a (fuzzy) boundary on the low side, as well: imagine if we had invaded Iraq with exactly two Marines, for example.

What we're doing right now is fiddling with the exact mix of men and women for the task: when our task was only what it was under Abizaid and Casey, we needed what we have there now. But when we changed the task to the Fred Kagan plan (as modified by Lt.Gen. Petraeus), it turned out that we needed an additional 5 brigades in B'dad and a couple of battalions in al-Anbar.

Since we didn't add 200,000 men or somesuch, we haven't abandoned the small-footprint strategy; those Democrats who claim we have are simply lying (or else so drunk on folly that they'll say anything that pops into their empty heads).

But as for Barnett's thesis, I think it's great as a central organizer of our post-9/11 Grand Strategy; but I wouldn't cite it to increase foreign aid by $50 billion per year.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2007 9:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


within weeks will have more knowledge than can be beared [borne].

It will take you longer than that to read even one of those books. The proper way to read TPNM is to read a chapter, then sit and think about it for a week or two. Then read the next chapter. It's likewise perfectly acceptable to take a week or more to read a chapter, and then sit and cogitate: they're long and they're densely coded.

I tried rushing it, and I had to come to a screeching halt after 100 pages or so. Then I backtracked, reread sections... and when my brain finally caught up to my eyes, I could proceed -- albeit at a more leisurely pace.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2007 9:20 PM

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