Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 21 to 34 of 34

Thread: Small Wars in the "new" cash strapped Western economy

  1. #21
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
    Posts
    3,947

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I'm not sure that strategy and tactics stand apart from policy. If policy is not sensible, doesn't discussion of strategy and tactics become sort of pointless?
    Excellent question. If the policy cannot be made to work, using all instruments of power, then it is probably a dumb policy - The US periods Prohibition being a good example.
    I think "Nation building" is probably in the same bracket - BUT IF that is the policy, what do you do about those opposing it using violence?

    IMO, the distinction between policy and strategy is vital to getting people to understand what strategy is.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  2. #22
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Latitude 17 5' 11N, Longitude 120 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
    Posts
    3,137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Excellent question. If the policy cannot be made to work, using all instruments of power, then it is probably a dumb policy - The US periods Prohibition being a good example.
    I would qualify that and say "all acceptable or reasonable instruments of power". The US might have succeeded in imposing prohibition if they'd shot drinkers on the spot, and we might succeed in imposing the governance we desire on Afghanistan by killing anyone who doesn't accept it... that doesn't make those instruments of power acceptable or reasonable. In general, if a policy can only be imposed through the use of exorbitant force, it's probably not a good policy. If the cost of imposing a policy exceeds the benefits the policy is supposed to produce, it's probably not a good policy.

    If we're imposing policy on another country (something I personally think is generally not a great idea) and a significant portion of the populace objects to our policy, it's a pretty good sign that the policy needs work.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I think "Nation building" is probably in the same bracket
    We agree on something... will wonders never cease?

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    BUT IF that is the policy, what do you do about those opposing it using violence?
    That depends on why they're opposing it. If they are opposing the policy because they perceive it as a threat to their interests and using violence because they see no other available option, it may be possible to adjust the program so that neither their interests nor ours are necessarily compromised, or at least so that they see a reasonable prospect of peaceful resolution. People don't generally go to the considerable trouble of fighting without some reason. If the reason can be removed without compromising the goals of the policy, the fight can be settled without having to run about the place slaying and smiting. After all, it's not entirely reasonable to expect residents of other countries to submit to our policies: certainly they have no automatic obligation to do so. If we're in another country the onus is on us to adjust our policies to make them acceptable to the locals, not on the locals to submit to us.

    It may be necessary to kill people; it may not be. Ideally killing would be the last resort, not the first. And if we're killing people who believe with reasonable cause that they are fighting to defend themselves or their interests, that again pushes us pack to a critical need to review and probably alter the policy. If our policy requires us to kill people who are doing exactly what we would do in their shoes, it's probably a bad policy.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    IMO, the distinction between policy and strategy is vital to getting people to understand what strategy is.
    Agreed. Also vital to getting people to understand what policy is, and how it affects strategy.

  3. #23
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
    Posts
    3,947

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I would qualify that and say "all acceptable or reasonable instruments of power".
    Would anyone ever employ instruments of power that they thought unreasonable or unacceptable? Judgement as to reason and acceptability is a political opinion.
    If we're imposing policy on another country (something I personally think is generally not a great idea) and a significant portion of the populace objects to our policy, it's a pretty good sign that the policy needs work.
    Well that's the reason countries go to war with each other. Conflicts come from policies. If you are prepared to kill to set forth policy, you do not care what the other side thinks.
    What if the vast majority of Iraqis thought Kuwait should be part of Iraq?
    It may be necessary to kill people; it may not be. Ideally killing would be the last resort, not the first.
    Agreed. Killing is a last resort, and but also one that can be forced upon you. Once it is, it has to be done effectively, and with the objective of breaking the will of the other side to persist in that course of action.
    If our policy requires us to kill people who are doing exactly what we would do in their shoes, it's probably a bad policy.
    Everyone who has ever fought against the US has had a very good reason for doing so, in their own eyes.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  4. #24
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Latitude 17 5' 11N, Longitude 120 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
    Posts
    3,137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Would anyone ever employ instruments of power that they thought unreasonable or unacceptable? Judgement as to reason and acceptability is a political opinion.
    Nations have been known to employ instruments of power that their own populace thought unreasonable or unacceptable. That's generally not sustainable, at least in a democracy.

    Yes, such judgments are a political matter. They are also critical to success and they demand consideration. I see no reason why issues of politics or policy should be excluded from this discussion. They are in fact the subject of the discussion. If we want to bring the practice of war within realistic budgetary constraints we must start with policy adjustments.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Well that's the reason countries go to war with each other. Conflicts come from policies. If you are prepared to kill to set forth policy, you do not care what the other side thinks.
    What if the vast majority of Iraqis thought Kuwait should be part of Iraq?
    Are we at war with Afghanistan? Is the populace of Afghanistan "the other side"? For better or worse, when we impose ourselves on another nation's internal politics and try to establish a government that cannot survive without popular consent, we'd better care what that populace thinks, whether or not they are "the other side".

    If Iraqis thought that Kuwait should be part of Iraq and Kuwaitis thought otherwise, we would be inclined to respect the views of the Kuwaitis, at least as far as Kuwait goes. It's bit easier to figure out when we deal with conflict among states. That's not always what we're doing.

    Again, if we don't get the policy end straight we end up assigning military forces goals that cannot be achieved by military force and may not be achievable by any means. If we do that, no amount of strategy or tactics is going to salvage the situation.

  5. #25
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
    Posts
    3,947

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    They are in fact the subject of the discussion. If we want to bring the practice of war within realistic budgetary constraints we must start with policy adjustments.
    I think the best I can say here is wars are expensive. Don't fight unless...
    Are we at war with Afghanistan? Is the populace of Afghanistan "the other side"?
    Could be you picked a side in a Civil War that you intervened in? ...or didn't...
    Again, if we don't get the policy end straight we end up assigning military forces goals that cannot be achieved by military force and may not be achievable by any means. If we do that, no amount of strategy or tactics is going to salvage the situation.
    Exactly my point. Show me the policy, and we can then discuss the strategy.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  6. #26
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Latitude 17 5' 11N, Longitude 120 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
    Posts
    3,137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I think the best I can say here is wars are expensive. Don't fight unless...
    That was the point I was trying to make in the first place. "Unless" the objectives are clear, immediate, achievable, practical, and above all are they absolutely necessary... and sufficiently compatible with local objectives and beliefs that we aren't going to find ourselves fighting a whole pissed off populace who just doesn't want to be messed with.

    If they aren't maybe better not to go in the first place, especially if money is an issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Could be you picked a side in a Civil War that you intervened in? ...or didn't...
    Or we created a side that didn't exist until we came along, and for some reason thought everyone would just go along with it...

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Exactly my point. Show me the policy, and we can then discuss the strategy.
    So we agree: start with a policy that makes sense. That's what has to be discussed and resolved before trying to aply strategy or tactics.

  7. #27
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
    Posts
    3,947

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    So we agree: start with a policy that makes sense. That's what has to be discussed and resolved before trying to aply strategy or tactics.
    If the world were logical and rational, you'd be right.
    I absolutely agree that you cannot do strategy without policy. I am less convinced that folks can have sensible policy discussions.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  8. #28
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Latitude 17 5' 11N, Longitude 120 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
    Posts
    3,137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    If the world were logical and rational, you'd be right. I absolutely agree that you cannot do strategy without policy. I am less convinced that folks can have sensible policy discussions.
    Sensible is possibly too much to expect. One might reasonably aspire to reduce the level of stupidity to manageable proportions, and thus to diminish the dimensions of the apparently inevitable sinkhole that strategists and tacticians have to dig themselves out of.

  9. #29
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,457

    Default

    Interesting discussion. With respect the the US, I think the biggest problem we have right now is the lack of any kind of coherent national vision for the future except, I guess, to try to remain the sole global superpower. At least during the Cold War there was a purpose - a "struggle" which partially guided us. Now? Nothing that I can see except to maintain a kind of status-quo, though I admit I may be completely missing something. We haven't really been forced, as a nation, to reevaluate where we're at and our priorities. That will change given our government financial unsustainability.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

  10. #30
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default One of my rare quibbles with you...

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Interesting discussion. With respect the the US, I think the biggest problem we have right now is the lack of any kind of coherent national vision for the future except, I guess, to try to remain the sole global superpower.
    Not that, I fully agree with that and that lack of coherent vision is due to our electoral process and political system -- but there is broad agreement that we should try to maintain position to the extent possible within the mood swings that are bound to occur.
    ...At least during the Cold War there was a purpose - a "struggle" which partially guided us.
    That's the quibble point. I agree that there was a purpose (to remain atop the heap) but the belief that we had a coherent plan and policy throughout the 1947-1999 period is way wrong...

    We had a policy of containment and little more, each electoral cycle introduced changes in funding (and thus direction), strategies, policies and effort. The only real difference in then versus now is that there was one overt (if nominal only) threat, one massive nation on which to focus.
    Now? Nothing that I can see except to maintain a kind of status-quo, though I admit I may be completely missing something. We haven't really been forced, as a nation, to reevaluate where we're at and our priorities. That will change given our government financial unsustainability.
    Heh. I wouldn't bet on that. We are the world master at cobbling together band aids to make patches...

    We'll bumble along until there's a true existential threat. Fear not, one will appear. They always do. Then we'll get squared away for a bit before we drift back into naval gazing (pun intended). It's the American way, cyclical chaos.

  11. #31
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Latitude 17 5' 11N, Longitude 120 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
    Posts
    3,137

    Default To quibble with a quibble...

    Quote:
    ...At least during the Cold War there was a purpose - a "struggle" which partially guided us.
    That's the quibble point. I agree that there was a purpose (to remain atop the heap) but the belief that we had a coherent plan and policy throughout the 1947-1999 period is way wrong...
    I don't see any disagreement there. He didn't say anything about a coherent plan or policy, he spoke of a struggle providing partial guidance. "Partial guidance" and "purpose" are not so far apart.

    Of course our system does not lend itself to long term policy. That's both strength and weakness: we veer about a bit, but we can also adapt or discard policies that are unsuccessful or no longer appropriate.

    I would say that the "sole superpower" ambition needs to be adapted or discarded; it's neither desirable nor possible. An attempt to maintain sole military dominance without sole economic dominance - which we have not got and will probably never again have - is only going to end with us nailing ourselves to a fiscal crucifix. The challenge is not the maintenance of sole superpower status, but the development of a realistic strategy for advancing and protecting our long-term interests in a multipolar world.

  12. #32
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default The quibble point is with the illusion that our policies

    during the Cold War were homogenized and relatively consistent, that we might have had a 'strategy' -- we did not. They were not, they were all over the place. Nor am I saying Entropy isn't aware of that, I just tossed out a reminder...
    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Of course our system does not lend itself to long term policy. That's both strength and weakness: we veer about a bit, but we can also adapt or discard policies that are unsuccessful or no longer appropriate.
    You know that and I know that. Thousands if not millions of Americans know that including some in high places. Unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence that others folks in high places either do not know that or often attempt to willfully disregard it.

    I simply like to remind everyone of that reality often enough to be tedious. Never know when someone who reads it may get in a policy position and need to -- and hopefully not fail to -- recall that harsh little fact of life...
    I would say that the "sole superpower" ambition needs to be adapted or discarded; it's neither desirable nor possible.
    I would go with adapted -- which it is doing and will do as it has for almost 100 years. Discarding it is likely to attract Jackals, Hyenas and Vultures. Regrettable but fact.
    An attempt to maintain sole military dominance without sole economic dominance - which we have not got and will probably never again have - is only going to end with us nailing ourselves to a fiscal crucifix.
    I do not think we're trying to do the military thing; effective deterrence and dominance are two different things. Need the deterrence bit, forcefully applied, else you get in the position that failing to deter from 1979 until 2001 put us in.

    Clinton, Rubin and Summers tried the economic thing and we can see where that got us. I agree with you that is not going to happen and it should not.
    The challenge is not the maintenance of sole superpower status, but the development of a realistic strategy for advancing and protecting our long-term interests in a multipolar world.
    I do not think we trying to maintain "sole superpower" status (though a few foolish people in government may harbor that dream; they're a minority). As I've said many times, we do not do strategy; grand strategy, which is what you're after -- that requires continuity we do not have. We can do long term policy and we do that and I see no evidence that it is not trying to adapt to the multipolar world that is very similar to the one into which I was born and spent formative years. That's the real quibble -- the Cold War was a period of great artificiality it appeared to be a bi-polar world (wasn't but appeared to be...) and every one got spoiled and forgot how to act in the multipolar world. We're slowly (too slowly IMO) figuring it out -- but we are NOT going to give much more than we absolutely have to. And we should not. That too is a facet of multipolarity...

  13. #33
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Latitude 17 5' 11N, Longitude 120 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
    Posts
    3,137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I would go with adapted -- which it is doing and will do as it has for almost 100 years. Discarding it is likely to attract Jackals, Hyenas and Vultures. Regrettable but fact.
    Very true, and I certainly wouldn't advocate discarding "sole superpower" and moving to "anonymous member of the pack". I thought more of discarding "sole superpower" in favor of "large and potentially aggressive member of the pack, not wisely messed with".

    Sole superpower is just too demanding, we'll bleed ourselves dry if we try to maintain that. This does not mean we have to emasculate ourselves.

  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default That would be ideal...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    ...of discarding "sole superpower" in favor of "large and potentially aggressive member of the pack, not wisely messed with".
    I just hope we can be that smart.

Similar Threads

  1. dissertation help please! US military culture and small wars.
    By xander day in forum RFIs & Members' Projects
    Replies: 67
    Last Post: 01-27-2010, 03:21 PM
  2. Small Wars Journal, Operated by Small Wars Foundation
    By SWJED in forum Small Wars Council / Journal
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: 06-10-2008, 03:19 AM
  3. Book Review: Airpower in Small Wars
    By SWJED in forum Training & Education
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-07-2006, 06:14 PM
  4. Training for Small Wars
    By SWJED in forum RFIs & Members' Projects
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-02-2005, 06:50 PM

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •