View Full Version : Abizaid: SysAdmin as Tool to Win Long War

09-03-2006, 12:01 PM
From the Thomas P.M. Barnett blog - Jaffe Profiles Abizaid and His Definition of SysAdmin as the Tool to Win the Long War (http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003679.html).

... Worth noting on a holiday weekend: a good article by Greg that begs for more space for him to really make the case for Abizaid’s seminal role in shifting us from a Global War on Terrorism (the Bush admin’s original term) to the Long War (the generals’ preferred term)...

As Abizaid is quoted in the piece, “Military power can gain us time… but that is about it.”

Radical concept for the village-flattening types who wanna cite Israel’s tough-guy approach as what is truly needed right now, but as Abizaid has argued elsewhere (to Ignatius, for example), Iraq is the first great war of the globalization era, so the role of the military will be that of primarily a holding action--as in, buying time. The “victory” here will be economic, not shots fired.

Having lived through the successful conclusion of the Cold War, I find that description dead-on, the big difference here being that the Cold War could be a strategy of containment, whereas this Long War needs to be a strategy of aggressive engagement, not to create “globalization at the barrel of a gun” but to deal with the civil strife and political unrest that will inevitably accompany globalization’s advance into what I call the Gap, some of which will be able to handle its embrace but much of which will succumb to all sorts of distintegrating tendencies, political and ethnic violence, and governmental collapse, all of which offer numerous opportunities for those non-state and transnational actors hell-bent on stemming (or, more fantastically, reversing) its advance.

Now, we can wait until #### hits fans, and then enter guns blazing, or we can endeavor to be more Sun Tzu (Abizaid’s strategy) and less Clausewitzian in our timing and ambition, trying to grow local capacity to absorb globalization’s multifaceted challenges and opportunities instead of playing this process out with no more imagination than simply re-running the colonial strategies of a century ago.

The disappointment with Abizaid will always be his bluntness and his courage to state the obvious: this won’t be over by Tuesday, or Christmas, or the end of this administration. His career shows the power of the one leader with a vision. Without him, it’s a GWOT without focus or reality. With him, a serious tipping point is reached within U.S. ground forces about where this emerging conflict is taking them in an evolution that’s more about reaching into our past than embracing tomorrow’s technology.

This is what so many military strategists (a term I try to avoid for this reason) aren't getting right now, and thus their extreme pessimism regarding the U.S. military's capacity to wage this long war: to them it's all counter-insurgency without end. There's no "holding action" because there are no "railroads" coming and there are no "settlers" to be found. These thinkers couldn't be more wrong: the rising resistance and friction revolves around globalization's powerful and unstoppable advance, not it's lack thereof. Thus, the holding action metaphor is perfectly fine--and realistic...