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Thread: A Battle Over 'the Next War'

  1. #41
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    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.
    My response wasn't meant to suggest that you had proposed this. Rather, I used the possibility as a way of trying to point out some potential problems for a competitor/opponent that might choose to adopt such a strategy. I'd like to see folks' thoughts on that.
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  2. #42
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question In the most general context

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    My response wasn't meant to suggest that you had proposed this. Rather, I used the possibility as a way of trying to point out some potential problems for a competitor/opponent that might choose to adopt such a strategy. I'd like to see folks' thoughts on that.
    It would always seem most likely that interested parties seek ways to capitalize on what is happening at any given time rather than expecting givens for future conditions.

    At least seem that way from what history I've seen
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  3. #43
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    ... some potential problems for a competitor/opponent that might choose to adopt such a strategy.
    My concern, especially in light of some of the discussions on this board, is that such a strategy might be risk free.

    For example, 20% (if I recall correctly) of Nigerian oil production is unavailable due to "insurgent" (or whatever we want to call it) activity. Now assume that a near peer attempts to foment the same in other locations (say Indonesia). The investment in financing and weaponry is tiny, the impact is large, and any attempt at intervention by the US will be met with considerable international and domestic hostility.

    Similar actions could be carried out with food distribution. Or, as another example, deliberately releasing a virus, then interfering with medical relief. Simply providing support to movements such as FARC or Sendero Luminoso sufficient to destabilize the government would work.

    The point I was driving at, is that a near peer doesn't have to challenge us in a conventional war. A series of LICs scattered around the world, with the near certainty of international and domestic opposition to armed response, would eventually bleed us into "defeat."
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  4. #44
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    The point I was driving at, is that a near peer doesn't have to challenge us in a conventional war. A series of LICs scattered around the world, with the near certainty of international and domestic opposition to armed response, would eventually bleed us into "defeat."
    Which was the essential model for the Cold War and its wars of liberation

  5. #45
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default A few additional thoughts...

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    My concern, especially in light of some of the discussions on this board, is that such a strategy might be risk free.

    For example, 20% (if I recall correctly) of Nigerian oil production is unavailable due to "insurgent" (or whatever we want to call it) activity. Now assume that a near peer attempts to foment the same in other locations (say Indonesia). The investment in financing and weaponry is tiny, the impact is large, and any attempt at intervention by the US will be met with considerable international and domestic hostility.

    Similar actions could be carried out with food distribution. Or, as another example, deliberately releasing a virus, then interfering with medical relief. Simply providing support to movements such as FARC or Sendero Luminoso sufficient to destabilize the government would work.

    The point I was driving at, is that a near peer doesn't have to challenge us in a conventional war. A series of LICs scattered around the world, with the near certainty of international and domestic opposition to armed response, would eventually bleed us into "defeat."
    JW,

    For the most part I concur with most of what you propose... Certainly another competitor could adopt such a strategy (near peer or otherwise), and this would cause us and others significant challenges.

    I think this example falls apart when you expand the scenario to the point of threatening national sovereignty/cause great harm to US... Any competitor that harms the US economy in such a way also harms the global economy... The hew and cry of the globalized world would be great and a coalition of the pissed off would form.

    Now if you use this same strategy as a non-peer competitor/super empowered individual/group you stand a better chance of drawing western powers into a series of prolonged/resource draining expeditions.

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  6. #46
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    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...
    To establish a dictatorship, to throw all leftists and liberals into KZ and to replace the labour unions had to do with it.

    The Nazis needed almost seven years to create support for war, fostered by nationalist foreign policy success.
    But even with a total police state they didn't dare to launch total warfare before the war was already lost (despite the leading theoretician of total war Luddendorff had been an important person in the NSDAP early on).
    The control of the populations attitude towards war required drastic measures for many years.


    It was never really easy for states to "command the instant and absolute patriotic obedience of their populations"
    It was often possibly (given the right situation) to have an initial war euphory and it's possible to keep that up with successes or to create a strong national determination like the Russians had it in their great patriotic war, though.


    I believe that it's actually surprisingly easy to initiate war today because so little seems to be at stake.
    Our sense of superiority before a war is so great that (especially after the 1991 Gulf War) our public doesn't tend to take the opponents really seriously.
    Did any TV station predict a 7+ year war against Taleban when the invasion begun?

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    I would throw a couple of caveats into this discussion (I always carry around a few, just in case )

    First, what near-peer? The term might make a nice euphemism for China, and helps to justify F-22 purchases, but they're hardly near-peer in any meaningful sense of the word, and won't be for a considerable time. This isn't to say there aren't national security challenges to the US arising from increasing Chinese power, but its a long, long way from the Cold War.

    Second, the PRC near-peer is--unlike the old USSR--deeply interdependent on trade with the West for its economic well-being. It is also equally vulnerable to having its own emerging partnerships (for example, natural resource extraction) hampered by LIC. Its economic growth is hurt as much as anyone's by oil price increases. I would also suggest that its foreign policy has typically been rather less adventurist that the Soviet Union was at times.

    Finally, truly effective insurgencies can't simply be generated by the insertion of money and subversive encouragement (although there are places where money will buy you a lot of chaos).

    Not to underestimate the importance of consequences of LIC, but the danger of the West "bleeding" that way isn't one that keeps me awake at night.

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    Fuchs:

    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.
    It's more difficult to maintain peace because the weaker nation state cannot deal with and neutralise it's own internal rivalries that may spill over it's own borders. These rivalries arise from differences in ethnicity, region, political or religious beliefs.

    Examples of internal groups include:

    1. Hezbollah - which has both political and military power - and started their own war with Israel against the wishes of the Lebanes Government which was powerless to stop it.

    2. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This is effectively a social movement against official corruption.

    3. The entire range of Afghan warlords.

    4. The Kurds.

    5. And of course the Taliban.

    The list is pretty much endless, but all of these groups have the ability to seriously destabilise their own state as well as make trouble for others - compromising their Nations ability to make, and keep, peace with their neighbours.

    ...And as others have pointed out, the most obvious way of attacking any rival is to look for such groups and support them, as we have, sadly, all done before.

  9. #49
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Did any TV station predict a 7+ year war against Taleban when the invasion begun?
    Television might not have, but most of us who had read Lester Grau's works were pretty sure it might....
    Example is better than precept.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    My concern, especially in light of some of the discussions on this board, is that such a strategy might be risk free.

    For example, 20% (if I recall correctly) of Nigerian oil production is unavailable due to "insurgent" (or whatever we want to call it) activity. Now assume that a near peer attempts to foment the same in other locations (say Indonesia). The investment in financing and weaponry is tiny, the impact is large, and any attempt at intervention by the US will be met with considerable international and domestic hostility.

    []

    The point I was driving at, is that a near peer doesn't have to challenge us in a conventional war. A series of LICs scattered around the world, with the near certainty of international and domestic opposition to armed response, would eventually bleed us into "defeat."
    Properly conceived and executed it could work out quite well. Provided that supporting an insurgency in, for example, the Niger Delta results in the displacement and subsequent replacement of Western petroleum corporations by those of the insurgents' sponsoring power in a timely manner. Whether "timely" is a time frame of several years or a decade or so depends of course upon whether petroleum prices during that transitional time frame are bearable or not. Otherwise the effort may be self-defeating, particularly if it results in intervention (in some manner) by Western troops to contain or destroy the insurgency. In short, a very provocative concept with a potentially high payoff, but runs some possibly high risks as well.

    The imminent prospect of British troops being dispatched to advise and assist the Nigerian Government against MEND of course comes at the same time as Britain strains to sustain 2 other LIC's. Unless a short and very sharp campaign disposes of or at least brings MEND under control in relatively short order, a need for additional troops and resources may arise.

    Rex wrote:

    I would throw a couple of caveats into this discussion (I always carry around a few, just in case )

    First, what near-peer? The term might make a nice euphemism for China, and helps to justify F-22 purchases, but they're hardly near-peer in any meaningful sense of the word, and won't be for a considerable time. This isn't to say there aren't national security challenges to the US arising from increasing Chinese power, but its a long, long way from the Cold War.

    Second, the PRC near-peer is--unlike the old USSR--deeply interdependent on trade with the West for its economic well-being. It is also equally vulnerable to having its own emerging partnerships (for example, natural resource extraction) hampered by LIC. Its economic growth is hurt as much as anyone's by oil price increases. I would also suggest that its foreign policy has typically been rather less adventurist that the Soviet Union was at times.

    Finally, truly effective insurgencies can't simply be generated by the insertion of money and subversive encouragement (although there are places where money will buy you a lot of chaos).

    Not to underestimate the importance of consequences of LIC, but the danger of the West "bleeding" that way isn't one that keeps me awake at night.
    Partly agreed; LIC in foreign lands is a double-edged sword for the sponsor, and may or may not even achieve sought-after objectives, though it tends to be materially inexpensive for the sponsor. Politically/strategically that may come at a steep cost; Iran's sponsorship of LICs in at least two parts of the ME, while inflicting great political damage on Iran's enemies at times, have also helped to ensure it isolation from much of the rest of the world. Moreover, Iran's political and strategic objectives have not met with fulfillment - so far. For example, a client regime in Iraq remains a future possibility, but has not yet fully crystalized, nor has Lebanon been definitively resolved in favour of Iran's proxy. In both cases Western powers (and in the latter, Israel too) stand in the way, not to mention several very nervous Sunni Arab regimes.

    But engaging Western powers in foreign LICs is not the only way to go; there is a far more lucrative - but much, much higher risk - theatre for waging LIC. Right in Western power's own homes. Some militant Aboriginal groups in parts of the U.S. and Canada have ample pools of discontent (and increasingly, money) to draw upon to potentially intimidate or destabilize Governments in order to achieve their ends. There are a few spots a little over a half-hour's drive from where I live that are effectively controlled by the Warrior Society and as such are no-go areas; until the Oka Crisis of 1990 outside Montreal, one of the last significant events of aboriginal unrest had occurred in these areas back in the 1930s, and were brought under control by RCMP intervention.

    Likewise, with the exception of the Wounded Knee standoff in 1973, until 1990 there had been little in major aboriginal unrest since the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. Now, the Warrior Society operates almost with impunity in and out of many reserves, especially in New York and Ontario. Interestingly, several years ago a freighter from China that docked in B.C.'s Lower Mainland turned out to be carrying 5,000 AK's; the US Coast Guard had been tracking the vessel and informed Canadian authorities. This after an earlier incident when another Chinese freighter that docked in a port on the US West Coast likewise turned out to be secretly carrying several thousand AK's. This of course does not demonstrate a deliberate PRC policy of sponsoring potential future insurgencies within North America, but it does demonstrate some potential for such.

    Given the growing problems within Mexico and the spill-over effects into the South West US, not to mention the potential for future Mexican separatism in those areas, a subtle and more or less deniable level of covert support for separatist efforts could really wreak havoc on US political stability and possibly cohesion under certain circumstances. Europe of course has its problems with Muslim immigration right now. Like I said, very high risk, but under the right circumstances, potentially very high payoff. Those inclined to gamble - and history is full of powerful leaders who have done just that - might find that sort of bet irresistible.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 07-23-2008 at 11:26 PM.

  11. #51
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    Default Mobilizing for war and non-war

    I believe that it's actually surprisingly easy to initiate war today because so little seems to be at stake.
    Our sense of superiority before a war is so great that (especially after the 1991 Gulf War) our public doesn't tend to take the opponents really seriously.
    Did any TV station predict a 7+ year war against Taleban when the invasion begun? Fuchs
    I agree with the first part, but disagree with the second. A nation hasn't been mobilized, a volunteer Military has been deployed. National leadership will throw around a few mobilization terms such as Patriot Act (sounds more communist than anything the Soviets came up with), etc., but our nation has not been mobilized. Instead it was angered by 9/11, but that anger quickly faded.

    I can't recall if anyone predicted a 7 year war with the Taliban, but I don't recall anyone thinking it was going to be easy. Most discussions centered around British and more recent USSR experience in Afghanistan, but our national leadership realized we still needed to get this none.

    If you go to a fight without moblizing the nation is it a war?

    Which was the essential model for the Cold War and its wars of liberation Tom
    True, but that sword cut both ways and we won. Fighting through surrogates is ideal, there is no need to mobilize the population to support these activities if you can keep them out the public eye.

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