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Thread: A Battle Over 'the Next War'

  1. #21
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    the War of 1812 protected independence from the UK
    So, John, tell me... how did a naked war of aggression against us protect your independence ? If I remember correctly, your first invasion got he snot kicked out of it in under 40 days, and the final end result was pretty much in the "loss" column.

    On the other ones, I'll pretty much agree with you .

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  2. #22
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    Default John beat me to it, Fuchs

    but there's probably a couple of lessons there.

    One big picture one in the Venezuelan Claims Crisis about how to deal, in an orderly way, with nation-states that are functionally bankrupt, meaning an inabiity to pay the bills, e.g. Argentina of a few years ago.

    One really big picture one about - How does one determine which conflict is necessary? I feel pretty strongly that John and Tom's view holds up much, much better than yours, but if we can't agree even amongst ourselves, with the huge benefit of hindsight - what advice do we give policy makers about which fights to stay out of? You all have been referencing big wars, but the Balkans and Somalia might be instructive in terms of how liberal democracies muddle their way through to decisions.

    Which would mean that force design based on a view of what conflict "should" be is a dead end.

    Oh, btw, you still skipped Korea .

  3. #23
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    No sweat, go snipe at the Amis...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I usually don't consider wars of independence as wars of the nation state, so I disregarded that one.
    You don't, hundreds if not thousands of others do. Everyone's wrong but...
    The Civil War was probably avoidable and even if the secession had succeeded, the slavery would most likely have ended few decades later.
    Most wars could be avoided, most that occurred were not so that's sort of an unnecessary statement.
    The 1812 war was not decisive and avoidable.
    Decisive enough to get a Treaty establishing borders.
    The Mexican War was not necessary unless you consider expansion necessary...
    We apparently did.
    The Spanish American war was the definition of useless and unnecessary. The USA got some colonies that it neither wanted nor needed and defeated an empire that was already in steep decline for a century. Furthermore, the reasons for the war were rather fabrications of the U.S. press than anything else.
    Totally true. Shades of WW II...
    WWI saw no decisive influence of the U.S. and was certainly not in the interest of the U.S. - the voters wanted peace, British propagandists/lobbyists wanted an additional ally.
    True but we went anyway. We do that a lot.
    The Indian wars were unnecessary as wars of expansion usually are, although it's obvious that they allowed an increase in power (ask Luxembourg citizens whether national power is really that relevant for well-being).
    Do you want us to ask all 480,000 of them or will a sample work? Well being is nice -- when you let someone else do the not so nice jobs for you...
    The Banana wars not really about deflecting European influence, but about raping defenseless Latin American states for the sake of some U.S. businesses like UF.
    Grace, too
    Btw, I don't understand the reference to Germany in context of Banana Wars. There's no relation at all.
    Dig around a bit. Here's a starter for you LINK; LINK.
    Panama was an illegal invasion that didn't really serve U.S. interests simply because it was irrelevant. The people of Panama are slightly better off now; that doesn't mean that the war was necessary or good for the well-being of the U.S. Americans.
    More to it than that but it's irrelevant, really -- it happened; you disagree with it *. Okay. Now what?
    The 1991 Gulf War prevented that the U.S. economy got off the oil drug in time, caused a huge backlash with hundreds of billions economic damage so far, several thousand U.S. deaths and will continue to trouble the USA for decades. Hussein was about to invade Saudi-Arabia in 1991 as much as he was about to build nukes in 2003.
    I'd say some of that falls in the "to be determined" category but, for sure, the remark above ( * ) applies.
    The USA wouldn't be as large or as powerful without these wars, but its people would not be less happy or rich.
    Can you prove that supposition?
    Last edited by Ken White; 07-21-2008 at 10:18 PM. Reason: Fixed Link

  4. #24
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    Default Necessary War/Conflict

    Like most others who have posted in response to Fuchs posts on unnecessary war, I agree that Fuchs views are misguided opinions. As Clausewitz stated war is an extension of politics, so if the disgreement or overall situation cannot be resolved by other means, and it is important enough to fight over, then war or a lesser form of conflict is necessary. Fuchs arguments appear to be based on his opinion that we shouldn't get involved and simply wish the problems away.

    The Civil War was probably avoidable and even if the secession had succeeded, the slavery would most likely have ended few decades later. Fuchs
    This is a perfect illustration. First you assume secession was an acceptable outcome, it wasn't, and our national leaders decided to fight to maintain unity. You also assume that it is O.K. to let men suffer as slaves for a few more "decades", when the problem will presummably solve itself. Of course if you and your family were slaves you may have a different opinion and may have even appreciated that there was a nation that finally generated the courage to stand against this amoral behavior.

    In your opinion the Korean War wasn't necessary, but the U.S. and the UN felt differently. The North Korean and Chinese communists were extremely cruel, so allowing the communists to take over S. Korea would not only subject the S. Korean people to severe cruelity and economic disaster, it would have sent a message to our Cold War enemies that the U.S. would not stand against communist aggression. The results speak for themselves, one only needs to compare South Korea to North Korea and the eventual demise of the communist states. While admittedly speculation on my part, if we didn't get involved in the Korean conflict many other nations may have fallen to emboldened communists. I think we made the right choice to fight.

    Manuel Noriega (sp?) in Panama was terrorizing American citizens and running drugs into our nation. Obviously the security of the Panama canal isn't important, nor is protecting your citizens based on your arguments. As for El Salvador, would they have been better off under a communist regime? Is it in our national interest to have a communist regime in Central America that will foment unrest throughout Central America?

    Alliances are usually understood as lowering the need for defense expenditures. To believe that the opposite is true seems to require somee kind of political brainwashing in my opinion.
    This comment defies reality. The Brits, who have the most robust military in NATO aside from the U.S., said they could not fight in Afghanistan without U.S. support (air lift, fire support, medical, etc.). The French military is in shambles, and the list goes on. Europe has clearly benefited financially from our involvement with NATO, we in turn have benefited politically. It shocks me that Europeans don't understand the threat that Islamic Extremism poses, as it threatens them much seriously than it threatens the U.S.. Yet many (if not most) Euroeans seem to prefer to sway towards their extremely liberal media instead of reacting rationally towards real threats to their way of life. Obiously this doesn't apply to all Eurpeans, but since Europe is composed of democratic governments I have to assume that the majority of people are not willing to see their tax dollars spent on defense. It sounds as though your recommendation for U.S. foreign policy is to simply embrace this type of see no evil, hear no evil attitude and wish all the threats away.

    I have enjoyed many of your posts, but strongly disagree with your posts on this thread.

  5. #25
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    This is a perfect illustration. First you assume secession was an acceptable outcome, it wasn't, and our national leaders decided to fight to maintain unity. You also assume that it is O.K. to let men suffer as slaves for a few more "decades", when the problem will presummably solve itself. Of course if you and your family were slaves you may have a different opinion and may have even appreciated that there was a nation that finally generated the courage to stand against this amoral behavior.
    Of course the untested assumption is that the American Civil War was primarily about abolitionism not actually about an inwardly focused industrial north versus an agrarian south. Or, that the Federalist precedence turned on the tenth amendment of states rights and destroyed them. The wholesale vaporization of the tenth amendment allowing for the industrial barons to expand without compunction. Those barons primarily being of northern states. None of that likely has anything to do with anything.
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    Default Agree

    I agree, it had very little to do with the conflict, the carpet baggers came later, so I believe those arguments are simply conspiracy theory. The reality is we needed to keep our nation united and protect the principles that our nation stood for. If anyone believes owning slaves should be protected because of State's rights, then I stand on the opposite side of that argument. Of course our nation stood on opposite sides of that argument and could only resolve it by going to war.

  7. #27
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Ken; many "Banana Wars" were in the inter-war years when there was quite obviously no relevance of German actions in Latin America. I wasn't aware that this terms stretched to pre-1914 times in its meaning. There's no equivalent term in German.
    According to wikipedia, the Venezuela affair was not covered by the term "Banana wars", which only covers U.S.interventions on soil.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_Wars
    Besides that, the representation of the Banana Wars as being in the interest of the intervened countries was pretty absurd.

    The inability to prove alternative outcomes is irrelevant. If that was a requirement to determine that anything in history was wrong, all history would have been perfect. Which is obviously not true.

    ++++++++++++

    I see the disagreement here, and I'm pretty sure about the reason. A part of the disagreement is different culture.
    The disagreement stems from a different approach.
    A state is just an imaginary concept to serve the people, which become citizens. Rousseau's contract social could be mentioned, as somebody referenced Clausewitz.
    A war is in my understanding only won if the sum of its activity can at least be understood to have been positive for the citizens of the state (in comparison to no war). Some wars are kind of pyrrhic wars. You lose even if you win.

    It's rather easy to agree that a potentially successful fight for the own sovereignty is worth almost any effort. The problem that we cannot weigh the loss of human lives against any gains (at least not agree on it) can be ignored as sovereignty (=freedom) is such an important value.

    Small wars are rarely about your own sovereignty. It's much more difficult to consider wars like, for example, Iraq as a "win" if all gains and losses are factored in.
    It's pretty much impossible to reason that small wars in overseas are unavoidable, necessary. It is in fact possible to just sit on your butt. It's not always "the communists/nazis take over the world" time.

    We're living in plural societies and used to express our opinions - which happen to be different due to different input and working of our brains. You despise isolationism? OK. It would have been a better choice for dozens of countries in hundreds of instances, but that's ok.

    The real core here is that albeit small wars happen more often than major wars, the major wars are usually much more critical (especially for a nation that fights overseas). It's like small wars are luxury. The prestige, ego and possibly your trade opportunities in a small part of the world suffers (for some years) if the major country loses, but that's not really critical.
    The major wars are the critical ones, those wars can be about world order, world power balance and sovereignty.

    This different impact of small/major wars should be considered just like the different quantity.

    I felt it was about time to mention the different relevance as people tend to see the side of the coin that favours their position. For small wars-occupied people this is the quantity of small wars, for major conventional war-occupied people it's the superior relevance of major conventional wars.

    The discussion quickly drifted into by comparison pretty irrelevant details, I'm sorry for that. My attempt to point out the inferior importance of small wars wasn't understood.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 07-22-2008 at 02:07 AM.

  8. #28
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    Default Marc, a "naked war of aggression"?

    Yeah, it was (in part, at least). And, not only did you (as Vinegar Joe Stilwell put it about another war) kick the snot out of us, you went on and burned our capital!

    But, the Red Coat leaders up in Canada had been encroaching on land ceded by Britain to the US not once but twice (Peace of Paris 1783 and Jay's Treaty 1794) and backing it up by "Hair Buyer" Hamiliton (Colonel British Army) paying good pounds sterling to nice little "Native American" boys (they were called Indians back then) for Yankee scalps. (Or maybe Hamilton was in the Revolution - I forget but it was British policy and that part a small war too). The other American grievance was the impressing of American sailors serving on American ships for service in the Royal Navy. Freedom of the seas and all that!

    With the Battle of New Orleans (fought of course after the Treaty of Ghent had ended the war but before it could reach the belligerants) the threat of British closure of the Misissippi to American trade ended. When the war ended, the Jay's Treaty boundaries were respected, and Freedom of the Seas was won. So, all in all, if we ignore the drubbings during our naked aggression against Canada and the sack of Washington preceded by the military disaster (to the Americans, of course) at Bladensburg, it was a "splendid little war" - on the periphery of that World War you guys were fighting against a megalomaniacal French junior officer of artillery who thought that as a Corsican with an Italian name (Buonaparte) he should be Emperor of the World - or, at least, France.

    C'est tres jolie, n'estce pas?

    JohnT

    PS Darn, Hamilton was in the Revolution! It was a good story and, anyway scalp bounties were paid in 1812.
    Last edited by John T. Fishel; 07-22-2008 at 02:45 AM.

  9. #29
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Different strokes and folks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Ken; many "Banana Wars" were in the inter-war years when there was quite obviously no relevance of German actions in Latin America. I wasn't aware that this terms stretched to pre-1914 times in its meaning. There's no equivalent term in German.
    According to wikipedia, the Venezuela affair was not covered by the term "Banana wars", which only covers U.S.interventions on soil.
    All true -- I included the Venezuela link to illustrate that Germany has been known to putter about in a 'small war' sort of setting; the other link did talk to Central America and the interwar years.
    Besides that, the representation of the Banana Wars as being in the interest of the intervened countries was pretty absurd.
    I didn't say they were.
    The inability to prove alternative outcomes is irrelevant. If that was a requirement to determine that anything in history was wrong, all history would have been perfect. Which is obviously not true.
    I couldn't agree more. That's why I brought it up -- because your post proffered a bunch of alternative outcomes...
    I see the disagreement here, and I'm pretty sure about the reason. A part of the disagreement is different culture.
    Yes, most of it is just that. Many Europeans look at Americans and see other Europeans (albeit perhaps slightly demented or certainly not very bright). Quite wrong. We're not demented nor are we incredibly stupid -- we are different. We are not European. Most of our forebears left Europe because they didn't like the way things were being run. We inherited that mantle and if the Europeans like something, you can be pretty sure that most Americans will not. We have a rather strong contrarian streak. We are far more independent and far, far less community (or, more accurately, communitarian) oriented. We are also significantly less risk averse (so far...)
    The disagreement stems from a different approach.
    Yes, it does...
    A war is in my understanding only won if the sum of its activity can at least be understood to have been positive for the citizens of the state (in comparison to no war). Some wars are kind of pyrrhic wars. You lose even if you win.
    Not to wax philosophical but I suggest all war is pyrrhic and no one ever wins -- nor will any citizens have a gross positive experience from a war, though there may be a net benefit for some. All that however is a difference of opinion, little more.
    The discussion quickly drifted into by comparison pretty irrelevant details, I'm sorry for that. My attempt to point out the inferior importance of small wars wasn't understood.
    Partly true; that predictably happens when one tends to equate the actions of another to evil or irrelevance. I don't think anyone questions that small wars are less important than large one -- thus the small -- but less important or even less 'relevant' does not necessarily mean unimportant. Nor does it mean they should be avoided at all costs. Risk avoidance carries its own penalties...

    Such downward drift is also pretty apt to happen when one states an opinion in a dogmatic way as hard cold fact.

    Try either of those things with a bunch of Americans and they'll vehemently disagree with you just so they can say they did. That's un-European, I know. To be expected, really -- our values differ. Markedly.

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    Default Now you're saying something different..

    The trade balance deficit and federal budget deficit are clear indicators that the current U.S. economy and state are not sustainable. There's nothing to argue about it, both is evidence - defining indicators.
    The high military-related expenditures (of which only a small part can be considered as investment into economic development - all else is state consumption) can easily be identified as a probable cause.
    Saying that military expenditures are unsustainable is not the same thing as saying a budget deficit is unsustainable. Besides, defense spending as a percentage of total US government spending has steadily decreased since the 1950's. One might therefore argue that other federal spending/taxation is more easily identified as a "probable cause" of US deficits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Not really. It's still a free choice. Many allies have saved a lot of their military expenditures after 1990. The NATO is not a one-way alliance. The alliance members have the same obligations - but some governments/parliaments chose to keep expenditures high.
    And the US has saved a lot on military expenditures too since 1990. Look at the data yourself. (And you can find graphs of US defense spending using a variety of measures here).

    Furthermore I never said NATO or any other alliance was one-way, but the relative differences in capability are pretty stark regardless. NATO has very little capability to project any kind of force beyond its borders - just look at Yugoslavia in the 1990's and that was in Europe.

    Alliances are usually understood as lowering the need for defense expenditures. To believe that the opposite is true seems to require somee kind of political brainwashing in my opinion.
    Alliances are not formed for the purpose of saving defense money in national budgets - at least that's how I believe alliances are usually understood. I would like to see some data or analysis that show any kind of linkage between forming an alliance and a corresponding decrease in defense expenditure to back up your assertion - I suspect the opposite is actually true in most cases.

  11. #31
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    The discussion quickly drifted into by comparison pretty irrelevant details, I'm sorry for that. My attempt to point out the inferior importance of small wars wasn't understood.
    There's a lot in there I agree with.

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    Default Back on topic

    Fuchs, point taken, I'll write it off as a communication failure on my part, so now back on topic.

    Not too long ago I would have agreed with you on the relative importance of major wars versus smaller wars, but now I tend to believe the smaller wars fought during the Cold War were important to our national survival and our international status; furthermore, and more germane to today, I think the series of small wars we are waging against an enemy who is intent on destroying our way of life is equally important, or perhaps more than some some major wars. If we revisit history and assume we were unable to oust Saddam from Kuwait that would be a terrible upset in the global order with profound consequences, but in the end Saddam would still sell the oil and the West would still exist. Other major wars could have much more serious consequences. The point is I don’t think we can determine the relative importance of war by its scale anymore, and I think that will increasingly become the case as irregulars and individuals become increasingly empowered with greater technology. The level of importance of small wars is approaching, or has approached parity with major wars. While I agree we must be able to win major wars, we also must be able to defeat emerging irregular threats that threaten our way of life. Defeating irregulars requires a different strategy than defeating regulars, and it also requires different formations and equipment in addition to our current conventional capabilities.

    Most of our potential enemies know that if they plan to challenge us in a conventional fight, they will have to move quickly to secure their objectives before we can project ample combat power. That means we must be prepared to fight this type of war coming out of the gate, and assume that we probably won’t have time for a train up prior to deploying to fight, it is a come as you are war, ready or not. Assuming this is true; then one could make an argument that MG Dunlap is correct and most of our equipment and training should be focused on this type of war, but do we do so at the expense of losing so called small wars? Of course not, so the challenge remains finding the correct balance. MG Dunlap expresses an extreme view and those who think the Armed Forces should complete revamp themselves to fight irregular wars represent another extreme view and the extremes inform the middle, so both views are useful.

    I think our Soldiers are quite capable of rapidly transitioning between the regular and irregular warfare at the tactical level if they have capable leadership and the correct strategy. On the other hand, I don’t think our staffs are capable of shifting gears that quickly. I still support developing a cadre of expert irregular warfare (interagency) planners to form irregular warfare task forces (IWTF), complete with regional experts, that will can quickly provide a Hqs element for providing strategic/operational level planning and command and control for irregular warfare. I think this was missing in both Afghanistan and Iraq after the initial fight, so we had capable Soldiers on the ground who were rudderless are given poor guidance because their command didn't understand the nature of the new fight. V Corps was a good war fighting headquarters, but they were slow on the uptake to adapt to the irregular fight. We can’t afford to have two armies, one for conventional warfare and one for irregular warfare, but we may be able to afford forming IWTFs to command and control our warriors after the conventional fight is over with.

    I'm not sure what this would like, or how you would transition from major offensive operations to stability like operations, but I know we don't do it that well. Our doctrine hasn't evolved significantly enough to address that transition so we can quickly take advantage of any windows of opportunity that offensive operations may have created.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 07-22-2008 at 05:29 AM. Reason: It needed some work.

  13. #33
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    Default Remarks on Europe

    I've not read this thread in detail, but noticed the comments on the lack of capability amongst NATO's European members (excluding the UK - thanks Bill) and the question why.

    During the Cold War and the confrontation with the USSR Western Europe (as distinct from current NATO) spent a huge amount on defence; Federal Germany hosted a huge garrison - not that the US Army will have forgotten. When the USSR collapsed a host of reasons led to a reduction in budgets, manpower and will etc.

    Here in the UK we now know the British Army, dispite all the money, was flawed; the First Gulf War showed that to deploy a single armoured division (approx. 40K troops) the rest of the Army was stripped bare. There are signs today we are spending our money on the wrong things (see other threads).

    Yes, there is a conspicuos lack of political and public will to think, let alone spend money on defence in European NATO.

    I've yet to read the latest commenary by IISS: http://www.iiss.org/publications/str...-capabilities/

    Do we care about the threats? Yes we do, just differently from the USA, as we always have and will in an alliance. An alliance few challenge now.

    Now to work.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Here in the UK we now know the British Army, dispite all the money, was flawed; the First Gulf War showed that to deploy a single armoured division (approx. 40K troops) the rest of the Army was stripped bare. There are signs today we are spending our money on the wrong things (see other threads).
    Wallah! - as we say here. Actually only parts of BAOR was "stripped" and bear in mind we deployed an armoured Division that was never meant to be deployed. It relied on Corps level support based in Germany. - Now there were huge things wrong with BAOR, but it was never designed to deploy an Armoured Div to the Gulf - nor should it have been.

    Yes, we are spending money on the the wrong things, because the Service Chiefs want to spend it on the wrong things and don't allow/want debate for forward thinking. The forward thinking is all in silly ideas like "EBO", "Complex Adaptive Warfighting" and other nonsensical gobbledygook.

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    This was under discussion at "Sic Semper Tyrannis" and I'll repost what I said here..

    I have to draw your attention to that excellent work "The Invention Of Peace" by (now) Sir Michael Howard published in 2000.

    In his last prophetic chapter "The Tomahawk versus the Kalashnikov" he forecast the type of war now being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he also raised a much deeper conundrum that has direct bearing on the matter being debated.

    That is the decline of the Nation State, in the face of globalisation, to be not much more than a "Brand" - as in "Britain Plc." as he called it. I would argue, although Howard didn't at the time, that America has now gone exactly the same way.

    Now the issue for Howard in his book was that in order to make peace it is necessary to have Nation States who are capable of negotiating disputes with other nation states and enforcing the terms of such settlements on their respective populations. Lebanon is an example of where the Government has not (yet) been able to do this thanks to Hizbollah.

    However, given that Nation States are becoming less powerful, in the sense that they cannot command the instant and absolute patriotic obedience of their populations, let alone transnational corporations, it makes it more difficult for Nation States to maintain peace.

    We have seen this process at work already. The wars over Kosovo, Bosnia and Chechnya. The last Israeli/ Hizbollah war. The ongoing problem of the PKK in Turkey, Iraq and Iran are examples of this weakness.

    But as Sir Michael Howard argued that Nation States were required to keep the peace, it could also be argued that strong Nation States are required to wage the type of Total War it appears that some in the U.S. Military hanker for.

    I don't believe that nation states these days are strong enough to sign up for the type of military economy required for set piece battles like another Kursk or Somme because I don't think populations, let alone corporations, will support the total mobilization of their economy to support such action.

    Please note that my reasoning is not that of the Bloomsbury group pre WW1 arguing that man is now too intelligent to allow such conflicts. My argument is that the Nation State is now too weak an institution to command that type of war - and that includes the United States, especially in view of it's current economic circumstances.

    What I think it is perhaps relevant to train and equip for is something in between the two extremes, as to me this is more likely. For example, operations during the break up of a failed State. Operations to prevent a state breaking up. Operations to prevent/ neutralise ethnically driven movements, and suchlike. Operations to deal with (perhaps) climate or economically driven mass migrations.

    For example, exactly what is going to happen to the Kurds? What should happen to the Kurds? How can military operations contribute to the solution of the Kurdish problem in Iraq, Turkey and Iran?

    To put it another way, how do we protect our interests in failed States, like Somalia, and what is the Military's role going to be in that task? Surely that must govern force design?

    To me, what is required is battalion sized units that are (1)virtually self contained in terms of organic fire support. (2)Have an infinitely lower logistics requirement than today's units.
    (3) Have much better educated and trained soldiers who are all multi skilled, in the sense that they can handle policing/fighting/civil affairs activities without slowing down to change roles, but I'll leave that debate to the experts.

    As for the Airforce, let them sit back as the new "Ultima ratio regis" because they seem to wish to contribute little else.
    Last edited by walrus; 07-22-2008 at 10:28 PM.

  16. #36
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    However, given that Nation States are becoming less powerful, in the sense that they cannot command the instant and absolute patriotic obedience of their populations, let alone transnational corporations, it makes it more difficult for Nation States to maintain peace.
    The German nation state before 1914 (quite authoritarian and with an emperor who still had some rights) had no better control in that sense than the USA of today.
    Patriotic feelings arose when finally a war broke out, but that optimism was quickly lost and social democrats won many elections (I'm now talking about pre-war) and were seriously undermining the authoritarian top-down politics.

    And why exactly should it be more difficult to maintain peace when it's harder to mobilize the population for war? The argument seems to go into the entirely opposite direction in my opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The German nation state before 1914 (quite authoritarian and with an emperor who still had some rights) had no better control in that sense than the USA of today.
    Patriotic feelings arose when finally a war broke out, but that optimism was quickly lost and social democrats won many elections (I'm now talking about pre-war) and were seriously undermining the authoritarian top-down politics.

    And why exactly should it be more difficult to maintain peace when it's harder to mobilize the population for war? The argument seems to go into the entirely opposite direction in my opinion.
    So what changed after 1914 and what lead to the expansionism of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s? Doesn't seem like you all had an issue mobilizing the population for war then...
    Example is better than precept.

  18. #38
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default I wonder ...

    ... if we're overlooking something vital.

    We seem to be focusing on what kind of war we should prepare for, the right mix of forces, doctrine, etc. We also discuss the likelihood of engaging in general war with a near peer adversary, the force mix necessary to prevail in that kind of conflict, etc.

    What I haven't seen is a discussion of how that near peer might choose to deal with us even if he believed he had parity in conventional forces. I recognize the danger in trying to plan against projected intentions, but I also think, especially after witnessing the domestic result of Iraq and Afghanistan, that if I were planning for the near peer, I would structure a campaign of low intensity proxy wars that force the US to choose between losing something of national interest, or getting bled dry in a long series of low intensity conflicts.

    (Sound familiar?)
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  19. #39
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    ... if we're overlooking something vital.

    We seem to be focusing on what kind of war we should prepare for, the right mix of forces, doctrine, etc. We also discuss the likelihood of engaging in general war with a near peer adversary, the force mix necessary to prevail in that kind of conflict, etc.

    What I haven't seen is a discussion of how that near peer might choose to deal with us even if he believed he had parity in conventional forces. I recognize the danger in trying to plan against projected intentions, but I also think, especially after witnessing the domestic result of Iraq and Afghanistan, that if I were planning for the near peer, I would structure a campaign of low intensity proxy wars that force the US to choose between losing something of national interest, or getting bled dry in a long series of low intensity conflicts.
    American
    (Sound familiar?)
    One upshot of this view is that we (and AQ) are being manipulated by another country, that 9-11 was actually only a "tickler" to get the US to deploy its forces to SWA and get bled white. It is an alternative implementation of what the U.S. under Reagan did to the Soviet Union--burn out the country economically by forcing it to to devote too many resources to defense. While the conspiracy theorist lurking inside me finds this view appealing, I have a tough time accepting that the terrorists out there are so clueless as to be suckered into this prospect. And, even if the proxies are currently so clueless as to their manipuilated status, they may (in fact probably will) smarten up, turn, and "bite the hand that feeds them." This seems to be what happened to the US with its support of anti-Soviet insurgents/guerrillas/terrorists/freedom fighters in Afghanistan, not to mention its support for the Viet Minh against the Japanese and then the Chinese in the 40's and its support to the Cuban Revolution against Batista in the mid 50's.

    Of course my understanding of the facts of history may be distorted or revisionist, but I submit that using proxies for one's dirty work tends to come back and haunt one in the longer term.

    Perhaps a better way to proceed might be to accept the idea that power elites aggrandize power up to the point that they build "nations" so large that they collapse under their own weight. My long view of history is of an oscillation between small states and large states. We seem to be at a point where dissatisfaction with the ability of the big state to meet its responsibilities to its constituents is very high. Around the world, citizens now seem tired of the "Walmart/Big Box" approach to government and want to go back to having their local "mom and pop" stores provide for their needs. Maybe future conflict planning ought to focus on that possibility and figure out how to foster cooperation among the former constituent parts of these devolving/unraveling national conglomerates. The U.S. somehow managed to do it at least twice:
    --once when we got past the Articles of Confederacy
    --again when we managed to restore the union, perhaps not as successfully as one might have wished, after the War of Southern Secession/Northern Aggression (folks have at least two conflicting views about the nature of the military events of 1860-1865).
    What lessons can be learned from these events?
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

  20. #40
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    One upshot of this view is that we (and AQ) are being manipulated by another country, that 9-11 was actually only a "tickler" to get the US to deploy its forces to SWA and get bled white.
    Actually, I wasn't proposing this was the case. I was suggesting that a potential near peer could evaluate the events after 9/11, and develop a strategy based on them.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

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