Thursday, July 28, 2005

Grand Strategy

Some interesting comments over at Belmont Club (as usual) over this analysis by Wretchard:
Just as mobility through the application of maritime technology was the foundation of Britain's seapower, so is America's based on the ability to freely traverse the oceans -- and now the great land spaces -- of the world. Not by itself, but in consequence: by threatening the areas of weakest governance, organizations like Al Qaeda have driven those beleaguered states into the arms of the only power with means and mobility to come to their assistance. It would be the supreme irony if radical Islam's lasting contribution to history turned out to be the establishment of a global American power. Without the rise of radical Islamism and the collapse of Soviet authority in Central Asia, there would have been no case for a US presence. In a Chicago Tribune article entitled US Outflanks Kremlin, Beijing on Kyrgyz Base, correspondent Alex Rodriguez wrote:

Facing pressure from Russia and China to end America's military presence in two Central Asian states, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld won assurances Tuesday from Kyrgyzstan's new leaders that they would not shut down a U.S. base on Kyrgyz soil used for combat and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan. ...

At the start of the Afghan war, the Kremlin acquiesced to the establishment of temporary American bases in Central Asia, experts say, largely because Russian leaders fully understood the threat Islamic militants posed in the region. But Moscow has grown wary of a U.S. military presence in Central Asia, a region it wants firmly under its wing.

"In 2001, there was a sense that Russia was incapable of providing security for Central Asia," said Ivan Safranchuk, an analyst with the Center for Defense Information in Moscow. "But Russian leaders always had this nightmare scenario: What if the U.S. did not leave? What if they deceive us and stay in Central Asia for much longer than planned?"

Osama bin Laden. The uncomprehending vanguard of America.

The commenters have much to add.

Ray notes:
Complex systems evolve in unexpected ways, a point often made by Wretchard. Opponents of the GWOT include the thwarting of "international law" (by which is meant contraint on US action) and a move away from world government (by which is meant bureaucratic, socialist UN/EU control) as "evils" attending US policy. It would be ironic indeed if the basic structure of world government (consensual, led by the Anglosphere + Japan alliance, enforced primarily by global US power) was to emerge, and that that this world government was hostile to dictatorial, arbitrary rule; that this government sheltered consensual government, individualism, and private property rights; and that it enforced an Islamic reformation in which the messianic character of Islam was discredited through abject, sustained military defeat (much as messianic Judaism was extinguished 2000 yrs) so that the dream of the Caliphate died at last. All these things are anathema to the Left because they would represent a triumph of the Western ideal, of private property, markets, and capitalism, and dash the deluded hope of victory seemingly lost with the collapse of the USSR and rekindled by the Islamist revolt against modernity.
Dan adds,
If the dispute is between developing some sort of negotiated agreement allowing us into Waziristan and merely telling Musharraf that this is part of the deal and going in anyway (presuming we have adequate intelligence to mount the snatch), then I say we give it a little more time and effort but ultimately just go in. The Paki army and ISI may not be HAMAS, but they are surely sympathetic enough to all sorts of aspects of this OBL problem and beyond that will ultimately thwart our efforts if we rely upon their sympathy for Our cause, which couldn't really be more justified. I reiterate my point in a previous thread: yes, these local conflicts are terrible and real and promise real consequences to those in power locally, but engaging them on their own terms will surely result in a quagmire, providing fodder for polemics and denying us the victories-in-fact which will ultimately win the war. Ideological disputes are pointless when you share none of the assumptions and the goal is, essentially, zero sum. Reagan won through intimidation and war by others means. The Communist ideological victory, meanwhile, is on display throughout the arts and academy in the Western world, while its political and military existence is in the dustbin of history.
Apropos of that penultimate phrase, see the excellent current issue of City Journal (found via LGF), especially the article "America's Most Successful Communist" about those rotten old coldly calculating folk-singing subversive commies like Pete Seeger(*).

The articles on "Sin City" and "Laughing at the Left" (through the newspaper comic pages) are also very worthwile. The reviewer of the movie Sin City comments on art (and touches on why I've always felt someone like Tarantino is vastly over-rated):
A Christian by then, Tolstoy observed that when art ceases to be religious it becomes purely aesthetic and thus elitist, obsessed with innovative styles and mired in a limited content of pride, sex, and alienation. As the intellectual classes lost their Christian faith, art “ceased to be natural or even sincere and became thoroughly artificial and brain-spun.”

Now personally, I don’t think artists have to believe in God to make good art, but I do think they have to believe in Man. That is, I think the artist has to respect each individual’s internal human experience as a Thing Entire—as a soul, if you will; as a unified process of being and awareness, if you will not. The artist might believe that the inner life is sacred or he might think it’s merely worthwhile or, at the very least, he might feel it’s deserving of pity. But art can’t communicate anything of true value unless its creator feels that each person’s consciousness somehow matters. Why make art otherwise, and for whom?
But I digress.

Monty says:
We cannot simply opt out of these scenarios, even if we wished to -- our social and economic well-being depends on our vigilance.

People who complain that Iraq is a mess are completely missing the point: Iraq is a mess, but it has been a mess for a long time; it was a mess before we got there; it will be a mess after we leave (whenever that might be); but it will be less of a mess than it would have been otherwise, and it has left us in a much better strategic position. The same goes for Afghanistan, and for the Balkans, and for Haiti.

Iraq is many things to us, but in this context it is a classroom. To grouse that President Bush or the military didn't anticipate all the problems is just peurile; no military plan survives contact with the enemy. By historical standards the American military is doing extraordinarily well. And yet given the ceaseless negativism from most of the media and the political left (parts of the same whole, really), the average American has little real idea of how much strategic progress has been achieved.
Aristides rebukes Anybudee:
Anybudee: "Projecting our "empire's" power from, where? Uzbekistan?! With what legions?"

With what legions did we topple the Taliban? You drastically underestimate the implications of having American strategic assets hours away from any point on Earth.
And as fjordman and Baron Bodissey remind us, Waziristan and Saudi Arabia are the two poles of the islamic Jihad Axis.

Red River and desert rat dream about what it might be like if we revived some of the ancient warriors of the past, outfitted them with modern tech, and turned them loose in central asia as our foreign legion proxies:
UBL and 9/11 can only be seen as a disaster for the One-world Islamists.

Someone conducts a surprise attack on the USA and a new, more potent weapon is used in retaliation - this time it was manueverist warfare coupled with global mobility.

In just five weeks we had troops on the ground in Afghanistan. A month later the Taliban are no more.

Consider the strategic situation.

Alfred Thayer Mahan had a huge impact on Teddy Roosevelt and the neo-cons of his Day.

The Chinese have pursued a Mahan strategy across the Pacific.

But we are playing at a higher level. Whereas China is looking at sea lanes and controlling space, we are looking at global mobility and how to create options.

A stepping stone strategy in Asia is just as valid as it was in the Pacific. If troops have to hike 1000 miles, they might as well be on an Island in the Pacific.

The key to Central Asia is Mobility. Only the Mongols had it. China has been able to conduct raids over time, but only at a huge cost and after a long build-up.

The Mongols unhinged China via raids from Central Asia. The old routes are there and just because they would be traversed by F-15Es or B-1Bs and Air-mobile assaults, does not mean those old lines of communication don't exist.

And other options exist as well.

Russians are still being beaten up in Ulaan Batar and the Chinese are no less hated.

A Mongolian Armored Brigade or Airmobile/Airborne Battalions trained by US Advisors can be a reality in a very short time.

The Mongols combined their hardiness and good leadership with supreme mobility and top military technology that allowed them to dominate Asia. The same goes for the Sioux in the Northern Plains.

All they would need would be a way to regain mobility and to gain good military technology.
The British have been downsizing it's Gurkha Regiments for years. These natives of Nepal are some of the finest soldiers in the world. It is a good bet that a Brigade or two or these veterans, or their sons, could be raised, in addition to the Mongol Combat Teams.
Special Forces A team were always a force multiplier, but now, with modern technologies...

Garrisoning large numbers of troops in Germany is not improving the defensive security of the average German. It will not be required in Iraq much longer.
Surrogates and proxies are available, we should utilize them, every where we can.
Aristides adds:
Senior Col Yao Youzhi of the AMS argued that Eurasia plays a “decisive position in global geopolitical strategies.” He claimed that the United States views North America as its base, South America as its backyard, Africa as a “broken continent that cannot be lifted up,” and Eurasia as the “serious hidden danger to global dominance.” America plans to control Eurasia by keeping Russia weak, manipulating NATO, and containing China through military alliances with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand."

The dangers of Colonel Qiao Liang's Unrestricted Warfare are the unintended consequences that can attend any ill-thought over-steps. I have read since September 11, Colonel Liang and Wang Xiangsui have been treated as heroes in China for articulating the strategy of "terrorism, narcotics trafficking, drug smuggling, environmental degradation and computer viruses as methods to defeat America."

I bet the Chinese are not as sanguine anymore. In direct contra-distinction to Al'Qaeda's hopes and China's strategic analysis, the 9/11 attacks have focused and accelerated America's strategic posture. The Giant has awoken and discovered the world needs her attention.

Every single worry the Chinese had about Operation Allied Force have come to pass, via the GWOT. In the 90's, the Chinese thought we were a Python, using our great mass to suffocate all rivals. The present claustrophobia must be overwhelming.
Aristides quotes William F. Buckley:
What is it that a people is willing to fight for? The security of home and hearth come first, and that is achieved mostly by weaponry; but weapons that seek to have their effects beyond the range of a cartridge of gunpowder do so, on battleships and airplanes, by the propellant force of oil.

If you are willing to die in order to protect your local hospital, then you must be willing to die for oil, because without oil, your hospital won't take you beyond a surgeon's scalpel, and a surgeon is helpless without illumination, which is provided (mostly) by oil.

To say that we must not fight for oil is utter cant. To fight for oil is to fight in order to maintain such sovereignty as we exercise over the natural world. Socialism plus electricity, Lenin said at the outset of the Soviet revolution, would usher in the ideal state. He was wrong about socialism but not about electricity. Electricity gives us whatever leverage we have over nature. To flit on airily about an unwillingness to fight for oil suggests an indifference to the alleviation of poverty at the next level after bread and water.
Tony observes:
Kruschev really did say "We will bury you" and we took it seriously. John F Kennedy took it to the gunslinger brink over Cuba, for good reason.

George W Bush has taken us up to that gunslinger brink again, and again won the day for Bolder than Brass America.

9/11/01 was all I needed to light 'em up, for the greater good of World. It would be for the bad guys' good as much as ours, to let them surrender, or otherwise get their suffering over with quick.

That NIGHTMARE never occurred during the Cold War, even tho every single child did Bomb Drills and every big building in America had one of those yellow signs indicating a bomb shelter.

Seems to me, not that many years ago, we took our enemies seriously.

Now it is evident that HALF of Americans would rather not pay attention, would rather ignore the Dire Wolf at the Door.

And Now, as explosions go off all around the world, half of the world's Most Powerful Nation is convinced US is the enemy.

Thank God our military, our pointy end of the spear, has taken an oath to follow the actual chain of command.
This all leads up to the money quote from Aristides
"The future battlefield will be “everywhere”—from the human mind, to the electromagnetic spectrum, to cyberspace, to outer space—and everyone will be a potential combatant, including hackers, genetic engineers, and financiers. Warfare will no longer be the sole province of nation-states and soldiers and will not be resolved only with military means. Instead, “all means” will be used to fight these wars—including trade warfare, financial warfare, terrorism, ecological warfare, computer-network attack, media warfare, drug warfare, and psychological warfare. “Extreme means” need not always be used, but victory will go to those who best combine all the resources at their disposal without regard for boundaries, restrictions, rules, laws, or taboos."

To the list of combatants I would add the blogosphere, and Wretchard's earlier post on "spontaneous organization" and information hubs is relevant here.

One of the great assets of the blogosphere is its ability to offer conceptual frameworks, ideological prisms and mental shorthands through which we can better process and understand the massive data crunch that attends the modern world. Belmont Club is such a site.

In a previous time of danger and confusion, writers like Tom Paine and Alexander Hamilton built for their countrymen just these types of frameworks, and the effect was a buttressing of their resolve and a justification of their courage.

We are also in dangerous and confusing times. But with our attention and stamina, our knowledge will continue to expand, and our conceptual arsenal will continue to grow.

The bunkers of the 21st century will be ideological, and they will be built on-line.

(*) note: The old commie failed. I grew up listening, over and over again, to a record of The Weavers greatest hits. I didn't know until just reading City Journal that The Weavers were a Seeger project in which he rebranded his previous band of commie subversives with a deliberately calculated simple down-home image and consciously attempted to foist Marxism on the US through insidiously infecting the popular culture via music.

The interesting thing is, I enjoyed much of the music, but it had ZERO formative social effect on me, though I played it over and over during my supposedly most-vulnerable years.


I always hated "Where have all the flowers gone." Now I know why. And "If I had me a Hammer" is referring to the commie hammer and sickle symbol, the tool of the World Worker.

Though carried by a catchy tune, Seeger's words failed to influence me.

Because in parallel, I was also raised on traditional folk and fairy tales. And the truths they carried from ancient times, surviving by darwinian selection, burned away the falsehoods implied by marx. Not to mention that I was also reading, indepently in the grade school library, every single book they had on WW2 and NORAD -- so the line they were pushing in "social studies" class (in the early 1970s) that the Russkies were not really all that bad, didn't ring true either. Instead, I grew up wishing everyone had listened to Patton and liberated Eastern Europe when we had the Bomb and the world's best army already in the theater.

I was EXTREMELY concerned that we seemed to have only Delta Daggers and Delta Darts with their unguided GENIE nuclear air-to-air missiles to try to stop the massive formations of Soviet bombers laden with Rosenberg-supplied H-bombs we expected to fly over any day.

And out of that knowledge, an implacable hatred of communism in all its forms was developed, in spite of card-carrying commie subversives like Seeger and their feeble attempts to brainwash me.

And luckily, as it turned out, my information was out of date, as apparently our school library hadn't bought any books on warfare since about 1959 or so...Imagine my pleasant surprise when I started going to bookstores when I was a little older and finding out about these wonderful new things like F-14s and F-15s coming on line...

And then Reagan was elected and I then "slept the sleep of the saved and thankful", as Sir Winston would say.


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