Thursday, October 13, 2005

Real War

This year-old item I came across describes what it would be like of the GWOT -- wait, Bush actually changed the name to War on Islamic Radicalism, finally! -- were being waged more like a real war than the sitzkrieg we've got going at least on the home-front of perception:
This is a failure of probity and imagination comparable to the deepest sleep that England slept in the decade of the 1930s, when its blinkered governments measured the sufficiency of their military preparations not against the threat that was gathering but by what they thought the people wanted, and the people wanted only what they thought the government had wisely specified. We are now entrapped in the same dynamic. Neither the party in power nor the opposition has awakened to what must be done or what may happen if it is not. Neither party, nor the Left, nor the Right, nor the civilian defense establishment, nor the highest ranking military, nor the Congress, nor the people themselves, has been willing, in a war not of our own making, adequately to prepare for war, to declare war, rigorously to define the enemy, to decide upon disciplined and intelligent war aims, to subjugate the economy to the common defense, or even to endorse the most elemental responsibilities of government, such as controlling the borders of and entry to our sovereign territory.

As if all of this has been done, the Left is in high dudgeon, and for fear of higher dudgeon still, the Right dares not even propose it. The result is a paralysis that the terrorists probably did not hope for in their most optimistic projections, an arbitrary and gratuitous failure of will that carries within it nonetheless a great promise, which is that because it has no reasonable basis or compelling rationale, it may quickly be dispelled. And once it is, the weight of our experience, genius, and resources can be brought to bear.
At least we can see some progress was made in defining the enemy.
In the Second World War, we spent as much as 38.5% of GNP (in 1945), and at the peak had twelve million soldiers under arms, almost 10% of the population. This is a far cry from the situation now. Were we to replicate the same levels of effort, we would be spending not $400 billion but $4.235 trillion. We would not have 2.7 million in uniform (including reserves), but 30 million. I am not advocating any such thing. As pressing as our needs may be, we are not engaged in war against a major power, and the intensity of engagement in World War II is far and above what is necessary. I point it out to show what we can do, and what actually we have done, if we concert our will, especially because during World War II it was much more difficult to apportion 29% of the nation's output to defense (the average for the period 1942-1946) than it would be now, because we have so much more wealth per capita than we did then, coming out of the Depression. To relinquish almost a full third of income is much harder for a nation with barely enough to get by than it is for one that lives in an age of material excess.

What is it worth to be properly prepared for a smallpox epidemic that might kill scores of millions of Americans, or perhaps 100 million? To prevent a nuclear detonation in Midtown Manhattan or on Michigan Avenue? To stop deliberate, coordinated massacres like those of September 11? And to preserve as a principle and in actuality both American security and independence? Merely as a matter of honor, with all calculation aside, it is worth any material expense to remove terrorist hands from the control of American destiny.
The following iron fist strategy is proposed, that meshes with my calls for Punitive Expeditions:
The invocation of anarchy is anyway and in most cases a bluff. These regimes live to hold power, and one and all they have seized and maintained it by violence. They are quite capable of eliminating the terrorist infrastructures within their territories and will jump to do so rather than face their own destruction. And if they refuse to cooperate, or they go down trying, then the regime that replaces them can be offered the same choice.

To coerce and punish governments that support terrorism, until they eradicate it wherever they exercise authority. To open for operations any territory in which the terrorist enemy functions. To build and sustain the appropriate forces and then some as a margin of safety, so as to accomplish the foregoing and to deter the continuing development of terrorism. To mount on the same scale as the military effort, and with the same probity, the necessary civil defense. To reject the temptation to configure the defensive capabilities of the United States solely to the War on Terrorism, as this will simultaneously stimulate China's military development and insure that we are unprepared for it. These should be our aims in this war.
And for handling Iran,
But were the open and bleeding flank in Iraq closed, the center safely held, and the American military properly supplied, rebuilt, and rejuvenated, the sure way to strip Iran of its nuclear potential would be clear: issuance of an ultimatum stating that we will not allow a terrorist state, the legislature of which chants like a robot for our demise, to possess nuclear weapons; clearing the Gulf of Iranian naval and coastal defense forces; cutting corridors across Iran free of effective anti-aircraft capability; surging carriers to the Gulf and expeditionary air forces to Saudi Arabia; readying long-range heavy bombers in this country and Guam; setting up an unparalleled search and rescue capability. If then our conditions were unmet, we could destroy every nuclear, ballistic-missile, military research, and military technical facility in Iran, with the promise that were the prohibited activities to resume and/or relocate we would destroy completely the economic infrastructure of the country, something we could do in a matter of days and refresh indefinitely, with nary a boot on the ground. That is the large-scale option, necessary only if for some reason the destruction of Iran's nuclear facilities could not, as is likely, be accomplished by stealth bombers and cruise missiles. The almost complete paralysis of its economy, should it be called for, could be achieved with the same instruments plus naval gunfire and blockade.

Like the strategy of using ground forces as an equivalent "fleet-in-being" coiled and ready to strike from within the heart of the center of gravity of the Middle East, this strategy for air and naval power would have a high probability of achieving its aims via coercion rather than actual combat, and, were going to war necessary, it would require neither the careless dissolution of (relatively) small forces among large populations, as in Iraq, nor their exposure to insurgency, nor their endless deployment in hostile areas. The paradigm would shift from conquer, occupy, fail, and withdraw—to strike, return, and re-energize, one of the many advantages of which would be that the U.S. military would remain intact and capable of dispatching to areas now dangerously neglected, such as East Asia.
The "you break it you bought it" Powell doctrine is a calculated prescription for avoiding action.


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