Thursday, April 29, 2010


Conflict is a part of human nature; it is part of us. It is as natural to us as arguing with your spouse. Warfare is conflict raised to the most decisive level. The vast majority of humans do not want to kill others unless absolutely necessary. Even then, big conflicts in the form of major wars will occur every so often. It cannot be avoided. The past has indicated that it is extraordinarily dangerous to attempt to avoid. Like so many other things in life, it is generally better to face the music sooner rather than later.

Some signs that are pointing toward a big war:

1) Big wars happen every so often. The 20th century had two world wars, but the second ended more than 60 years ago. The world can be due for another. Certainly well before the end of the 21st century. Most likely prior to the 2nd half.

2) The populations of the current clash between Islam and the rest of the world are unprecedented. If the clash ever became an open war, the use of WMD is a certainty. The populations whose support of the issues are much too large for decisive results without WMD. Escalation is a natural part of warfare. Wars are won by the side that escalates the war to a level the other side either cannot or will not match. The pattern of major, modern wars is shorter, but larger, more powerful and destructive wars.

3) The greatest war in man’s history was immediately preceded by the worst economic period in mankind’s history. The risk of hyperinflation in the U.S. could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

It is only a matter of time before another large war breaks out. Historical pattern suggests that this war will be larger than the wars of the past, hence World War III. To prevent wars from becomming large, small ones need to be fought. I like to use the concept of earthquakes. If you do not have the small ones to release the pressure, the big one will come along some day. In the case of humans, all it will take is a spark.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Killing Al Qaeda leaders is a tactical victory

The recent demise of al Qaeda leaders can be misleading. It certainly helps to win any war by killing off the enemy leadership. However, rarely can enough of wartime leaders be removed to win by this means alone. Generally, the rank and file must be defeated as well. Germany after World War I did not think of itself as having been defeated. This has been the case numerous times throughout history. It frequently is part of the cause of the next war. It is easy to believe that by our killing of these three important leaders, we have delivered a strategic blow to our enemies. In the sense that the enemy is temporarily disrupted, this is true. However, this is a shortsighted view.

Even good leadership can be replaced, although if attrition is high enough, quality will become a problem. Our enemies are not losing enough to cause this drop in quality. Seeing as the major strength of an irregular force is de-centralized, leadership is more local. The guys being hit are not part of these operations except in a general sense. To put these ‘local’ guys ‘in the bag’ would mean getting past their defenses which would most likely entail far more casualties overall, on both sides. This is not occurring today and will certainly decrease as the U.S. winds down active operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. To see that our enemy leadership is anything more than temporarily disrupted is a shortsighted and tactical view. The loss of these leaders do hurt our enemies in the short term, but I find it very difficult to believe that major disruptions in operations will be the result, even over the next few weeks and into next year. This makes the victories tactical ones, not strategic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

al Qaeda in Iraq

If al Qaeda was not in Iraq before we invaded, they are today. Iraq is where the enemy is known to be operating and Iraq is desert, which is ideal for mechanized forces like the U.S. to engage in battle. I find it difficult to believe that al Qaeda will not continue to operate within Iraq. I also find it difficult to believe that Iraqi forces can defeat the 'insurgency' without U.S. direct involvement. Our President believes otherwise. It may take a few years, but we are probably going to find out who is correct.

Monday, April 19, 2010

al Qaeda in Iraq leaders killed

The two top al Qaeda personnel in Iraq were killed today by Iraqi forces. At least we know that we left the Iraqi forces well equipped to deal with the problem militarily. At least they have a fighting chance. The desert is the best ground on earth for us to engage the enemy on. We have a good opportunity to continue this process, but our leadership thinks differently. I am fearful of what will become of the democracy after we have left them.

Our shift to strategic defense along with the shift to looking for internal threats is a really poor combination in our efforts to end the war. President Clinton recently said that if the rhetoric by the ‘tea party’ doesn’t tone down, we would see more Oklahoma City bombings. I see this as his believing that the internal threat is not only more immediate, but also a greater threat. The wars will wind down as we withdraw simply because we caused the war to become far more widespread and much larger than it should be.

Conclusion: We are in BIG trouble. The shit just hasn’t started to hit the fan yet.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Iraq and Afghanistan

Notice how the ‘rising sectarian violence’ in Iraq is getting little to no attention from the press? A few years ago, this would have been a definite sign that we were losing the war. Even the news from Afghanistan is getting little attention. The ‘surge’ strategy that the Obama administration is implementing in Afghanistan is a pale copy of the ‘surge’ in Iraq. In addition, this ‘new’ strategy is complete with an end date. I fully expect the U.S. to begin a withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011. It will be completed prior to the presidential election cycle of 2012. This is all in agreement with President Obama’s belief that we had no business over there. He was against the ‘invasion’ of Afghanistan AND Iraq. The U.S. is responsible for the problems and the ‘occupation’ is creating more ‘new’ terrorists. And he gets to say that he ended both wars. What a political windfall!

This is a basic misunderstanding of the issues that are at the core of the violence and warfare in the first place. If he is correct, the war will just fade away. If I am correct, the war will become very quiet and the enemy attacks will gradually spread to other parts of the world. Eventually, the attacks will become much more noticeable and will begin hitting the United States more and more effectively. Eventually, WMD will be deployed. At that point, containing the war will be out of our control.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Erosion of the American spirit

Even before our inception, Americans were innovative. As a student of military history, I will use military examples although many more exist in the civilian sector. During the French and Indian war, after the English army under General Braddock was defeated, Americans under George Washington covered the retreat of what remained of his army.

Our entire culture has been based upon freedom of capital and ideas. We did not want government of any type holding us back. We based our government and economy upon idea that people will allocate the resources better, more effectively and better direct those resources to meet the peoples needs.

The 19th century proved how correct these ideas were. Americans developed many innovations and ideas that had worldwide impact and moved us from a backward country to a world power. Not counting civilian achievements, we fought the first war with ironclad warships, introduced the rotating turret, and fought the first of the modern wars. This included the use of railroads to move troops and supplies, use of the telegraph for long distance communication and we invented the Gatling gun, the world’s first machine gun.

After the defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American war, the United States was seen as a world power, although not the biggest kid on the block. The list goes on and on. I will use only two examples from World War II.

The Thatch weave was developed by two American individuals to effectively counter the superiority of the Japanese Zero over the American Wildcat fighter. Innovation was cultural all the way to the level of the individual. On the national level, the P-51 is probably the best example of two countries cooperation. The American built airplane combined with the British Roll-Royce Merlin engine made a war winner. This is only a very small number of examples and excludes entirely the civilian sector, which is where the United States made it’s most important advances and impact.

Our entire culture has been based upon the idea that people will take care of property that they own far better than if someone else owns it. So we built a country and culture that allowed the maximum use of this idea.

This has been changing over the past 70 years. It became most noticeable to me during the Carter administration in the late 1970’s. I remember many times how President Jimmy Carter (during the last year or two of his presidency) kept speaking about the ‘Erosion of the American Spirit". He did not see how his economic policies were contributing to this ‘malaise’. In fact, a "Malaise index" was created to measure how our innovation and drive were fading. The erosion of the American spirit was and is due to the economic changes that have been and are being implemented throughout our country by our government.

President Obama is moving far more rapidly in this direction. The takeover of the Health Care system in this country is an excellent example of how he and others who believe as he does that the government can run industries more ‘fairly’. This will contain costs, because government can run it more effectively. Yet this very same health care system was one of the few remaining areas where the United States was still leading the world in innovation and technological advances.

I expect a return to the "Malaise Index" and the stagflation of the late 1970’s. However, our overall economic strength is not as great as it was in 1978, so the result can easily be much, much worse. I am fearful of what will happen. Many wars have begun as a result of economic hardship and turmoil. We Americans are only human. To expect that we are different in this regard is to invite disaster.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nuclear response

The new restrictions on nuclear weapon use is not of much use, nor is it much of deterrent.

The old saying that "no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy" is still valid. In other words, what we say today and what we do tomorrow can be different. Particularly if the U.S. suffers an attack by a chemical or biological weapon that kills hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Americans.

On a side note, I would like to point out that it is good that the Obama administration recognizes that terrorist attack is the most likely threat of WMD.

The only real action in this change is to stop development of new nuclear weapons and an extension of the life of existing nuclear weapons. Of course, if you fail to fund the existing infrastructure well, the lack of proper maintenance of existing weapons will cause the overall effectiveness to fall. So even this fits into the overall pattern of a lowering of our defensive capabilities. No new development, just in case things get out of hand. A problem here is that wars tend to do just that.

"Moreover, it recognizes that our national security and that of our allies and partners can be increasingly defended by America's unsurpassed conventional military capabilities and strong missile defenses."

Yet, at the same time, military defense is being discounted. The Obama administration has already slowed down development of missile defense. And we all know how President Obama is such a hawk that he will increase the defense budget so that we will be able to expand our conventional capabilities across the board. And this is after the ‘stretched’ deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were and still are, relatively low-level conflicts. In all, the United States deployed only a quarter of a million troops. * Yet all we heard about was how our military was being ‘stretched to the limit’. And now it is ‘unsurpassed conventional military capability’? I guess we can cut this back because we have so much excess capacity.

My overall point is that this new policy is not of much use. The reaction of the United States will probably be different that what is planned. This is common in warfare. And this new policy is not much of a deterrent as well. After all, the greatest known threat from governments is North Korea and Iran. Our ‘new’ policy is not very likely to change either government’s actions. In the case of terrorist organizations deciding to attack or not, it is very difficult to believe that this new policy will impact the decision making in any way.
* 250,000 troops is not a very large number when compared to many of the conflicts of the past. History has shown a tendency for armies to become larger and larger as technology allows for larger populations and greater destructive capacity.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Defeating Islamic nationalism

This is another response to comments under the topics "Nation state of Islam" and "Islamic nationalism and warfare". Thanks to all for their contributions.

Yes, I do not believe that we will end the war without massive assistance from the Islamic world. In particular, Islamic governments will need to make an important contribution. This is where much of the conflict between the sovereign state of Islam and modern governance is taking place. We are on the side of the modern nation-state.

The thing to keep in mind is that time is NOT on our side. It is only a matter of time before one of these groups obtains an effective weapon of mass destruction. This will most likely come from a government sponsored source. At that point, effective terror attacks will not kill 100 or 150 people. They will kill 100,000 plus. The war can be won conventionally before we reach this point, but we will need to force the issues. To do otherwise is just to allow things to continue as they are going today.

The Islamic groups that are such a threat are spread out and numerous. One example is Hezbollah. Estimates range at between 5,000 and 10,000 armed ‘soldiers’. Hezbollah lost more than 1,000 back in 2006 when they fought Israel in August of that year. The losses have been replaced. In Iraq, our enemies took far more losses. The groups in Afghanistan took losses at the same time and have been able to continue operations. In other words, the attrition rate of our enemy is not high enough to prevent them from replacing losses. This must change.

Look at it from another direction: Attempting to defeat Islamic terrorism by using the police is a losing strategy. Not that this should be ignored. However, these ‘terror’ groups are much more effective attacking shopping malls and schools than they are at attacking our military. The attrition rate is far higher and success is far more difficult when the target is armed and trained as our military is. The trick is to find places where we can engage them in the open. Iraq was an ideal place, as was subsequently demonstrated.

I chose Syria and Iran simply because these two governments are known to support these groups. I know that politically, this is probably not possible. However, the war will be manageable and Islamic terrorism contained only by the support of ALL Muslim governments. Those governments who are supporting the enemy must be toppled. To do otherwise will allow these terror groups to keep their government support and potentially allow for the eventual acquisition of WMD.

Iran is not known to have nuclear weapons, yet. Once they have them, any potential war against Iran will become far more dangerous and expensive. The time to act was last year. Even today is better than waiting, but our current leadership will NOT do this. So we must focus upon Syria. I doubt we will be doing this either. In other words, we are not winning like we were a few years ago.

It must be remembered that Pakistan already has nuclear weapons and delivery systems for them. Even though the Pakistani government appears to have them under control, the issue has not yet been decided in Pakistan. The government could lose control of them and we all would be in a world of hurt.

In conclusion, I would like to say that by forcing the issues, the United States would in fact create more enemies. This happens in ALL wars. However, by doing so, we stand a much better chance of keeping the war conventional. The more time goes by without our doing so only increases the odds that weapons of mass destruction will be deployed. At that point, the war will by necessity become far more deadly and massive. And we will be reacting to an attack, not initiating it. These two points are far too important to NOT act upon.