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vimothy
28-05-2009, 03:33 PM
Two somewhat disparate links, which I thought might provoke some reflection on war and warfare:

Christopher Bassford demolishes (http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/Bassford/Keegan/index.htm) the egregious misreading of Clausewitz promulgated by John Keegan in his book A History of Warfare.

Skynet is coming: Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann in TNR on "Drone Wars (http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=b951d70b-db5e-4875-a5b9-4501e713943d)".

padraig (u.s.)
28-05-2009, 06:56 PM
yeah I read that Bassford piece shortly after reading A History of Warfare, which I quite liked even if it's admittedly not the most scholarly work out there. that was a while ago so I need to re-read it but I recall not being very impressed by the critique. not that it won't make a fine conversation starter.

I'm curious - is there anything in particular you'd like to bring up? it's such a broad topic after all. perhaps the broadest of topics.

vimothy
29-05-2009, 12:27 AM
Keegan misreads Clausewitz. I'm not sure whether I think his book is scholarly or not. But it is certainly very strange. If you prefer, Sir Michael Howard makes some similar points. I guess I'd read Bassford's paper and Keean's book differently if I'd never read Clausewitz. For instance, this,


Now, along comes John Keegan (1934- ), British historian cum journalist, to turn back the clock. Keegan's Clausewitz, heavily discussed in the author's widely reviewed A History of Warfare (1993),*8 is a narrow-minded regimental officer who typifies the Frederician tradition of Cadavergehorsam, unthinking obedience to savage discipline. He is the brutal philosopher of pitiless, aggressive, total war; an "unpromoted" and "unhonoured"*9 but self-seeking sucker-up to authority (and simultaneously a traitorous dog who willfully disobeyed his rightful monarch) whose career was blighted by his own extremism; a saber-rattling Prussian militarist who worshipped Napoleon and understood warfare only through the Napoleonic lens; the intellectual cause of the pan-European disaster of World War I;*10 and a theorist whose ideas are obsolete, irrelevant, and actively dangerous. Clausewitz even seems to have done in the poor Easter Islanders and inspired Shaka Zulu and the Mongols.

This seems rather an odd introduction to the shy, retiring Clausewitz, a man of bourgeois social origins who nonetheless died, young at 51, as a respected general in the Prussian service; who spent his free time going to lectures on art, science, education, and philosophy; who suffered political isolation for advocating the British parliamentary constitutional model in Prussia and for lauding the virtues of citizen soldiers over mindless Prussian discipline; who risked his career by resigning his Prussian commission in principled protest over the aggressive alliance with Napoleon in 1812;*11 who maintained that conquerors like the French emperor would—and should—be defeated by the European balance of power mechanism; whose arguments on limited war and the superior power of the defense were roundly condemned by most European military writers on the eve of the Great War; and whose works, since the debacle in Vietnam, have provided much of the intellectual basis for advanced officer education in America's resurgent military institutions.

Is pretty damning, no? Clausewitz is the Nietzsche or Machiavelli of military philosophy, and is as badly served by his critics.

I guess I was thinking of the conversation we had about Clausewitz when I came across this...

scottdisco
29-05-2009, 12:32 AM
Vim, as usual, you are a legend for getting this ball rolling, and i pay attention to P's reply.

not read any of the links yet but having just noticed Vim's most recent post, i must say, poor show Keegan: you almost suspect there's a whiff of British nationalism to his misreading!

vimothy
29-05-2009, 12:47 AM
Basically, Keegan says that war is irrational, whereas Clausewitz says that war is rational -- but this is not Clausewitz's true position, which is a dialectical understanding of war: war is irrational ritual, mere violence (Jomini's normative analysis -- thesis); war is rational, driven by policy (Clausewitz's normative analysis -- antithesis); war is neither, nor -- but the "fascinating trinity" (wunderliche Dreifaltigkeit) he describes (positve analysis -- synthesis)...

craner
29-05-2009, 01:32 AM
Have nowhere else to dump this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNNTcHq5Tzk), but it's strange, startling viewing.

padraig (u.s.)
29-05-2009, 01:50 AM
Is pretty damning, no? Clausewitz is the Nietzsche or Machiavelli of military philosophy, and is as badly served by his critics.

now, hold on a minute. I've read On War. Clausewitz is of course a giant of military philosophy/theory etc & cannot be discounted. Keegan is nowhere near his level. I should think that rather goes w/out saying.

Keegan does misrepresent Von C - I think the key point is "descriptive, not prescriptive". as in, Von C wasn't advocating "total war" by describing it as an ideal (not ideal as in best, ideal as in Platonic). the idea about war as culture rather than politics is interesting but probably flawed - I am in agreement that the latter can accomodate the former but not vice versa.

I reckon Clausewitz is often as badly served by his advocates as by his critics. Rather like Nietschze in that sense, yeah.

as I recall - & I'd have go back & look to be sure - A History of Warfare doesn't condemn Clausewitz as obsolete or irrelevant. to the contrary. (unfairly) as dangerous, yeah. Anyway, as I said, Keegan's book is more enjoyable than scholarly. The history is much better than the theory. Especially Keegan is very fine on the repetitive cycle of horse peoples from the steppe repeatedly conquering huge swathes of the "civilized world" & then exhausting themselves.

josef k.
29-05-2009, 02:30 AM
I love that you call him "Von C".

He sounds like a hair metal band.

padraig (u.s.)
29-05-2009, 02:44 AM
well I mean he was Prussian after all. & they love their thrash metal.

black metal ist krieg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7piTcDllnY)

for Vimothy

vimothy
29-05-2009, 10:08 AM
Keegan does misrepresent Von C - I think the key point is "descriptive, not prescriptive". as in, Von C wasn't advocating "total war" by describing it as an ideal (not ideal as in best, ideal as in Platonic). the idea about war as culture rather than politics is interesting but probably flawed - I am in agreement that the latter can accomodate the former but not vice versa.

Yes, I think this is exactly right.

Incidentally, there was a lot of flapping a couple of years ago when Nargaroth -- who may or may not be gay -- went on a daytime tv show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvI6q1SpHu0)...

vimothy
29-05-2009, 12:12 PM
Saddam's Palaces (http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/saddams-palaces-interview-with-richard.html)

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2435/3545789813_a633e24713_o.jpg

padraig (u.s.)
31-05-2009, 12:23 AM
two interesting papers by one Norvell B. De Atkine

Why Arabs Lose Wars (http://www.meforum.org/441/why-arabs-lose-wars)

"Arabs" meaning regular armies & "wars" meaning conventional ones. He also makes use of Keegan re: the effect of culture on war & on how different cultures approach war.

The Political-Military Officer (http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/AD_Issues/atkine.html)

not sure when this one's from - mid-90s I think - but it seems especially prescient in light of all the current COIN hullabaloo.

Mr. Tea
01-06-2009, 08:20 PM
Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?

Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

vimothy
01-06-2009, 09:54 PM
Classic quote, Mr Tea.

So, is war (and warfare) fundamentally changed in the 21st Century, and what does this imply for our national security strategies?

Mr. Tea
01-06-2009, 10:20 PM
I'm not qualified to analyse that question. But I do remember an excellent scene in Neil Stephenson's Cryptonomicon in which the enigmatic Enoch Root explains to another character how the Allies won WWII because they worshipped Athena, while Nazi Germany and Imperial Nippon worshipped Ares.

FWIW, I particularly enjoyed the bit in Cyclonopedia that dealt with Lamassus as chemico-demonological Deleuzian warmachines. Or whatever. ;)

vimothy
01-06-2009, 11:08 PM
An interesting distinction. However, another distinction that may be relevant is between the constitutional order of those states and our own. The Axis Powers and the Allies were nation states fighting industrial war. But nation states are changing into market states, and so warfare will change. Or will it? I can't decide.

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 12:24 AM
So, is war (and warfare) fundamentally changed in the 21st Century, and what does this imply for our national security strategies?

yes & no.

the ways in which war is waged - warfare - is always changing. but War itself, no.

the policies in "continuation of policies..." don't have to be those of nation states. esp re: your points about in the space between you & me is the state. if we have a dispute about the boundaries of our fields & I bash your head in with a rock, that is a continuation of my policies, e.g. that is war.

clearly we are on the brink of some momentous changes in the way wars are fought - esp. w/robotics - but I'm not sure how much I buy the paradigm that conventional wars are a thing of the past. that kind of thinking smacks of the the pre-WWI mindset that large scale wars had been rendered obsolete.

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 12:28 AM
But nation states are changing into market states, and so warfare will change. Or will it? I can't decide.

again, warfare will change - is always changing - but not War. I believe that is a crucial distinction.

for anyone who's interested in understanding the thinking (or at least a key part of the thinking) behind the way the U.S. is currently waging its two wars here is the

FM3-24 manual (http://www.usgcoin.org/library/doctrine/COIN-FM3-24.pdf)

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 12:45 AM
that kind of thinking smacks of the the pre-WWI mindset that large scale wars had been rendered obsolete.

Or the idea that the existence of nuclear weapons would scare the world into renouncing state-on-state violence altogether. Or Hiram Maxim's hope that his invention (the machine gun) would be considered so horrific that once it had proliferated no state would dare use it, for fear of having it used on itself, thus bringing an end to war. Human nature FAIL.

In reply to Vimothy's question: isn't it fair to assume that decentralised guerilla warfare has been practised, one way or another and in various parts of the world, probably since distant antiquity? That for all we know, it could in fact pre-date 'conventional' warfare?

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 01:22 AM
In reply to Vimothy's question: isn't it fair to assume that decentralised guerilla warfare has been practised, one way or another and in various parts of the world, probably since distant antiquity? That for all we know, it could in fact pre-date 'conventional' warfare?

in fairness to Vimothy I don't think (tho correct me) that's what he was really getting at. just b/c wars aren't conventional wars between nation states doesn't mean they are asymmetric guerrilla wars (or "low intensity conflicts" or insurgencies or whatever you wish to call them). it isn't an either/or.

I took it to be a more general question of which that was only one part - technology, the decline of the traditional superpowers, environmental degradation - which has enormous security implications in the near future in re: conflicts over shrinking resources/masses of people displaced by climate change/etc.

again I have to keep coming back to - those are two separate if obviously related questions. warfare is fluid, not static - of course the ability to adapt quicker & better to new ways of waging war is often the key to victory.

one point about "decentralized guerrilla" vs. "conventional" warfare - it's not a question of "which came first". tho you could say that it was conventional warfare - meaning an organized army fighting in open battles - b/c w/o a conventional warfare there are no "guerrillas" - everyone is a guerrilla. I think it's only being used here in the narrower, more recent (the last 2 centuries plus or so) sense.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 12:24 PM
Or the idea that the existence of nuclear weapons would scare the world into renouncing state-on-state violence altogether.

The existence of nukes certainly has something to do with the declining incidence of state-on-state war. See for instance, the Korean War, whose strategic logic was decisively altered by the entry of a second nuclear power, China, into the conflict.

And so there are nuclear weapons, which make (conventional, high intensity) wars between states possessing them redundant. Or so it seems. And given the overwhelming military dominance of the US and its allies, states without nukes will leverage up by waging unconventional war, or “wars among the people”, in General Sir Rupert Smith’s phrase, and so, extrapolating, every future war will look like some mix of occupation Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon ’06. Additionally, war is no longer fought to destroy the enemy, but to “but to create a condition in which the strategic result is achieved, the strategic object being to alter the opponent’s intentions rather than to destroy him” (Smith).

Furthermore, the emerging constitutional order, the market state, has unique vulnerabilities, as well as providing unique opportunities to its enemies (for example, the commoditisation of WMD). The market state will therefore call forth a unique opponent: a multinational, globalised terror network that mimics the market state, at once its apogee and its antithesis. And the functional logic of Al Qaeda, the nascent form of this terror network, is no different from our own: to create the strategic conditions necessary for success, rather than to destroy us.

If we want to make the distinction (and it is probably a useful one) per Colin Gray, war will always be war, but something very interesting is happening to warfare. And we should not abandon our conventional capacities (especially the UK, which has little resources for anything else), but that level of conventional capacity (plus nukes) nevertheless makes its use unlikely. So we are left with Smith’s wars amongst the people and Bobbit’s market state terrorism, two interrelated problems for which our institutions were not designed and are poorly equipped to deal with.

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 01:12 PM
See for instance, the Korean War, whose strategic logic was decisively altered by the entry of a second nuclear power, China, into the conflict.

the Chinese didn't have nuclear weapons during the Korean War* (http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/china/nuke/index.html). the main - & quite reasonable concern - was was the sheer mass of China's army & obv it's proximity to vs. the U.S.' distance from the conflict.

*the Soviets did (tho barely) - I'm unclear on how much American policy in Korea was influenced by that fact


...and so, extrapolating, every future war will look like some mix of occupation Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon ’06.

I"m sorry but that is a ridiculous extrapolation to make. aside from the general absurdity of making a statement like "every future war will look like...", I mean. precluding the (very real) possibilities of a future China/U.S. war, Pakistan/India, Russia/China, etc etc it also, of course, ignores the (vast majority of) wars which are fought between non-nuclear states & non-state actors. as well the recent, largely conventional Russian/Georgian conflict.


Additionally, war is no longer fought to destroy the enemy, but to “but to create a condition in which the strategic result is achieved, the strategic object being to alter the opponent’s intentions rather than to destroy him”

again, this is just flatly wrong. or rather, the "no longer". that has always been the case. it's not some radical new development.


the emerging constitutional order, the market state, has unique vulnerabilities, as well as providing unique opportunities to its enemies (for example, the commoditisation of WMD). The market state will therefore call forth a unique opponent: a multinational, globalised terror network that mimics the market state, at once its apogee and its antithesis.

this argument I'm more amenable to. the bit about the market state creating its own enemy is especially interesting.

still I have to disagree w/re to AQ - there is a very important difference between functional logic that works within realistic limitations & actually desiring to create conditions necessary for success rather than destroy "us". or - that shit is more complicated than just that.

also, all wars are "among the people". I reckon this a common mistake amateurs like us make.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 01:19 PM
Sorry, that bit about China was incoherent. The arrival of China changed the strategic logic, such that to fail to do so (that is, to fail to change our strategic logic) was to use the nuclear bomb. Which was never actually that easy anyway (see this (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/peopleevents/pandeAMEX58.html)).

And the bit about extrapolating is supposed to be ridiculous. It is a joke!

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 02:06 PM
Sorry, that bit about China was incoherent. The arrival of China changed the strategic logic, such that to fail to do so (that is, to fail to change our strategic logic) was to use the nuclear bomb.

right, that makes considerably more sense.

along similar lines is the consideration of nuclear weapons by the Israeli leadership (Meir, Dayan, etc.) at the most desperate moment of the of Yom Kippur/October War. tho where the American threat was obv directed at China (& the Soviets) in the Israeli case it was, maybe not a threat, but a message for the U.S., which was dragging its feet about resupply & weapons shipments - a kind of "you'll drive us it to it" kinda thing. tho the Israelis may have also been serious about the nukes - there was a really feeling of hysteria for a moment there.


And the bit about extrapolating is supposed to be ridiculous. It is a joke!

well I look like a right arse now don't I. thing is, I read totally straight-faced things written along those - or other equally ridiculous lines - so often that I guess it's hard to tell when it's just taking the piss.

especially interested to hear your thoughts, or those of other regulars (Mr. BoShambles if he's around, Scott, Josef & Nomad if they're not too busy w/Badiou, etc), as well as anyone else on, the topic of environmental degradation & its future implications for security & stability. and related matters...

vimothy
02-06-2009, 02:08 PM
The distinction between conventional and unconventional is not necessarily helpful here (and indeed, perhaps not even coherent in any case, if you read Stephen Biddle’s research). Better to talk of industrial war versus wars among the people. In industrial war the objective is to take and hold territory, to destroy the enemy’s capacity to resist (which is to say, his equipments and materiel). Industrial war is a straight trial of strength. Are you sure that there is no qualitative difference between the type of war that WWII represents and the type of war that was fought between Russian and Georgian forces, or between Israel and Hezbollah? The distinction of note is not between the scale of forces or a possibly nonexistent distinction between conventional and unconventional arms, but between the uses of force in those cases. To what strategic ends was force used by Israel and Russia?

In any case, these are, after all, only ideas… though there is of course a purpose to thinking differently, which is acting differently, and making our institutions act differently. Rather that than convincing ourselves that their function remains the same, that nothing ultimately changes (Agincourt equals Waterloo which equals the Somme) and that the last half century has been a weird interregnum about to pass into irrelevance. At least, this is my tentative conclusion.

Does anything need to change? I think it does. What is the source of this change? The world is changing, and warfare is changing with it, as it always has, as it always will. What is the source of the disjuncture? Our institutions were designed to do something else (i.e. destroy a peer in the shortest time possible). It is not the nature or constitution of force that is changing (i.e. conventional vs. unconventional vs. hybrid war), but the uses that force is put to. Ultimately, it’s on policy makers, not soldiers.


also, all wars are "among the people". I reckon this a common mistake amateurs like us make.

Possibly, though it is not my phrase but the phrase of a British General (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Smith) with forty years of service to his name.

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 02:19 PM
The existence of nukes certainly has something to do with the declining incidence of state-on-state war. See for instance, the Korean War, whose strategic logic was decisively altered by the entry of a second nuclear power, China, into the conflict.

Nuh-uh, Korean War was early '50s, China didn't get the bomb until 1964.

Edit: bollocks, should learn to read threads before replying!

Edit edit:


And the functional logic of Al Qaeda, the nascent form of this terror network, is no different from our own: to create the strategic conditions necessary for success, rather than to destroy us.

Ha, so AQ's mission is all about 'winning hearts and minds'? Or, as they would put it perhaps, 'souls'? ;)

vimothy
02-06-2009, 02:51 PM
Well, they are certainly trying to change intentions, rather than destroy forces or take and hold territory.

Anyway, good to see that everyone is up on their history of nuclear proliferation!


well I look like a right arse now don't I. thing is, I read totally straight-faced things written along those - or other equally ridiculous lines - so often that I guess it's hard to tell when it's just taking the piss.

I was just being a twat. It passes the time. I figured that it was so ridiculous that it would be obvious that I wasn’t being serious, but I guess you are right and that people do make massive generalisations about the likelihood that what is happening right now will be happening in the future as well. But I think that both sides (and perhaps these are also somewhat artificial distinctions) in the future war debate – COIN versus conventional – are guilty of the same fault. Conventional people say “we’re only doing COIN because of some ill-advised imperial adventure, and anyway, there’s no way of guaranteeing that we won’t need to fight a peer or near peer in the future.” COIN people say “yeah but policy makers make the rules, and we need the capacity to fulfil them, so there’s no way of guaranteeing that we won’t need to use COIN in the future.”

COIN crowd = in the future everything will look like this. Conventional crowd = ditto. But the purpose of conflict – that is something else. We are very good at conventional war. We are not so good at unconventional war (and perhaps this is not so terrible). Here, then, is some leverage. Our enemies can operate beneath the threshold of the utility of our forces. But even when they do not, that is, even when conventional armies fight (as in the Russia-Georgia War), the strategic logic is distinct from the strategic logic of industrial war.


especially interested to hear your thoughts, or those of other regulars (Mr. BoShambles if he's around, Scott, Josef & Nomad if they're not too busy w/Badiou, etc), as well as anyone else on, the topic of environmental degradation & its future implications for security & stability. and related matters...

Bobbit lists three related problems characteristic of the vulnerabilities of market states: globalised terrorism, proliferation of WMD, and environmental disaster and degradation. I expect it to be as important as the first two.

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 03:02 PM
yeah I reckon that unconventional/conventional bit is misleading, that was my point.


Are you sure that there is no qualitative difference between the type of war that WWII represents and the type of war that was fought between Russian and Georgian forces, or between Israel and Hezbollah?

not sure how I said that. but at the most basic level, no, there isn't. again, it is a matter of how, not what.


To what strategic ends was force used by Israel and Russia?

well the Russians certainly weren't trying to win hearts & minds. that's perhaps not the best example tho, as the 2nd Chechen War seems to have been as much about reasserting Russia's status (& for revenge - irrational, if calculated) as it was about putting down the Chechens & strategic goals. the Israelis are, as ever, more complicated - tho Lebanon 82 was definitely about destroying the PLO (among other things); it devolved into a badly run counterinsurgency against the Shi'ites but that wasn't deliberate. Lebanon 06 may have been more of a deterrent but I reckon it was still fundamentally about inflicting damage on Hizballah more than winning hearts & minds.

the United States' recent campaigns are better examples of what you're trying to get at I think.


It is not the nature or constitution of force that is changing (i.e. conventional vs. unconventional vs. hybrid war), but the uses that force is put to. Ultimately, it’s on policy makers, not soldiers.

agree with this. meaning policy makers both civilian and military.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 03:04 PM
Not hearts and minds; the question is "the utility of force" (force is used to create conditions: Leb '06 was about using force to create certain conditions).

This is the distinction I am trying to make between industrial war and wars amongst the people. "Conventional" takes meaning depending on context. Leb 06 was a war fought with the goal of changing the internal political logic of Lebanon, i.e. to force the Lebanese government to take ownership of HA. It has many conventional aspects (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=882), but ultimately it is qualitatively different from an industrial war like WWII in that the use of force is different.

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 03:12 PM
We are very good at conventional war. We are not so good at unconventional war (and perhaps this is not so terrible). Here, then, is some leverage. Our enemies can operate beneath the threshold of the utility of our forces. But even when they do not, that is, even when conventional armies fight (as in the Russia-Georgia War), the strategic logic is distinct from the strategic logic of industrial war.

this is indeed a huge problem of which many people - including policy makers & those who influence them - are aware of I think.

you're probably familiar with the infamous 2002 wargame wherein a retired Marine general smashed up a high-tech USN force using exactly those kinds of low-tech "dirty tricks". (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002) rather awesomely the Navy (or the DOD, not clear) decided to restart the game with new rules. just like real life, of course.

the problem is, I reckon - to figure out a way to effectively fight threats "beneath the threshold" without having to give up those enormous advantages that conventional superiority offers, or at least not too much.

also, Biddle? Bobbin? anything specific you'd recommend?

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 03:17 PM
Not hearts and minds; the question is "the utility of force" (force is used to create conditions: Leb '06 was about using force to create certain conditions).

but there have always been wars fought for limited objectives. tho I don't think that's quite what you mean either.

I think a huge difference between Israeli/Lebanon I & II is that the intervening experiences (occupation 82-85 & the subsequent creation of/low-scale war with Hizballah, Intifada I & the rise of Hamas, Intifada II, also the near-miss peace process w/the PLO) had made the Israelis much warier & deflated some of the insane hubris that that built-up '48-82.

again, I don't think it invalidates your point so much as it's not the best example.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 03:41 PM
For Biddle, the monograph on Leb 06 that I linked to upthread is fantastic -- the second best thing I've ever read about the conflict (this (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a789804935~order=page) is the best). His book (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=biddle&x=0&y=0) is a social science wet dream approach to strategic studies, complete with technical appendices and lots of measurement. He has a chapter in this (http://www.amazon.com/Strategy-Contemporary-World-Introduction-Strategic/dp/0199289786/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243953216&sr=1-1), which is a shorter but cogent introduction to his thesis.

For Bobbit. Read this (http://www.amazon.com/Terror-Consent-Wars-Twenty-First-Century/dp/1400042437/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243953027&sr=1-1). It's fucking fantastic. (See also the hilariously negative review by John Robb at the bottom of the page).

For Smith, I'm referring to this (http://www.amazon.com/Utility-Force-Modern-World-Vintage/dp/0307278115/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243953384&sr=1-1). It's required reading for British officers, and it wouldn't surprise me if that were true for US officers as well. AM certainly thinks very highly of it (http://abumuqawama.blogspot.com/2009/05/counterinsurgency-reading-list-updated.html).

vimothy
02-06-2009, 05:18 PM
but there have always been wars fought for limited objectives.

Of course, this is true, but we developed our armed forces and related institutions, both that govern their use and that with them form parts of the military intervention process (MoD, the military, intelligence, diplomacy and development agencies, the military-industrial complex, and so on), for a different type of war, for a "conventional" war, an industrial, high intensity war against a peer or near peer, where the goal was to smash his armed forces in a test of brute power. Hence, e.g., RMA.

Now the situation appears to be different, and for a variety of reasons (nuclear weapons, the redundancy of conventional capacity against the superpower, the expansion of telecommunications networks, the proliferation of international law and norms, the emergence of the market state, and so on). We need conventional capacity, but we will not necessarily use it in a way that is conventional (although, confusingly, this might also depend on one’s definition of “conventional”).

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 05:36 PM
Vim, that article on MC02 is one of the more interesting things I've read in a while, ta for that.

josef k.
02-06-2009, 10:55 PM
again, warfare will change - is always changing - but not War. I believe that is a crucial distinction.

War as a transhistorical invariant... the pure and empty form of war... modulates and mutates. It isn't clear whether it is itself the motor of change, or the effect of changes... whether it is driving history, or being driven by a complex of factors too complex to account for. Tolstoy's final argument in War and Peace is that war is a kind of emergent phenomena, that occurs as the result of the interactions of individuals... tiny gestures, adding-up. You can see this with regards to the idea of gender war: men are not exactly at war with women, but the adoption of individual strategies, according to a more-or-less consistent pattern, in a series of situations produces a more general antagonism...

vimothy
03-06-2009, 01:16 AM
men are not exactly at war with women, but the adoption of individual strategies, according to a more-or-less consistent pattern, in a series of situations produces a more general antagonism...

That is, conflict.

vimothy
03-06-2009, 01:22 AM
Vim, that article on MC02 is one of the more interesting things I've read in a while, ta for that.

Think that was actually padraig, BTW.

josef k.
03-06-2009, 01:33 AM
Yes... now, it stands to reason that, with new forms of technology (new forms of association and technologically-supported intimacy) new kinds of conflicts arise. And therefore, new forms of war...

Re: the State. Van Creveld's book "The Rise and Decline of the State" has a paradoxical title... in some sense obscured by his own historical schema (the State rises, then declines). From a contemporary perspective, the power of the State seems simultaneously on the rise and in decline: it has a new set of powers (massively amplified surveillance capacities), but has lost some of its old ones (monopoly of ideology in the form of the Nation, monopoly of violence with the rise of the terrorist/partisan/psychopath).

The increased bandwidth of the spectacle is also significant, and seems to have produced new forms of media war.

The fact that every major state with serious geopolitical ambitions, from Russia to Iran, to China, and beyond, now possesses a satellite television channel is related to this development. Does it represent a shift? When ideology is being disseminated from screens - rather, for instance, in Churches, or schools (Until the mass slaughter of World War I, Hans Magnus Enzensberger points out, secondary school pupils had to learn the notorious verse from Horace according to which is sweet and honourable to die for one's fatherland) changes something.

There is an interesting interview by Rene Girard on related themes available here (http://www.uibk.ac.at/theol/cover/girard_le_monde_interview.html).

Enzensbergers "The Radical Loser" is also worth reading (http://www.signandsight.com/features/493.html).

josef k.
03-06-2009, 01:36 AM
And the functional logic of Al Qaeda, the nascent form of this terror network, is no different from our own: to create the strategic conditions necessary for success, rather than to destroy us.

It is interesting to consider that Al-Qaeda might be a nascent and embryonic form of a much more powerful global network to come...

vimothy
03-06-2009, 01:47 AM
I am familiar with Enzensberger's classic essay (it is excellent). And with Van Crevald'. The state is indeed dying, but the state has died before, numerous times. As you note, the state is actually changing; its designation as "dying" depends on a limited definition of the state, namely, as a nation state. The nation state followed other constitutional orders. It is itself in the process of being replaced. And that process is fraught with potential problems.


It is interesting to consider that Al-Qaeda might be a nascent and embryonic form of a much more powerful global network to come...

Surely that is inevitable. Think for instance, of the implications of free -- and black -- markets in biological and chemical weapons.

josef k.
03-06-2009, 01:56 AM
Al-Qaeda's Islamism is significant... a global network needs a global ideology. Could there be a secular global terrorist network? I'm not sure...

And then again, there is the idea of the multitude... the dream of a global anti-capitalist resistance movement. It is interesting to think about whether or not this is possible...

vimothy
03-06-2009, 02:02 AM
Yes. It is actually a kind of post-Islamism (cf. Kepel), because it is international in focus and nature, not national. And of course, "closer to Marx than the Koran" (Roy). But I do not think that the proposed caliphate state is necessarily anti-capitalist; rather, it is a type of constitutional order equivalent to the US (i.e., a nascent market state).

josef k.
03-06-2009, 02:24 AM
Al-Qaeda is nominally anti-capitalist - at least, they make statements to this effect. However the term "capitalism" is highly overdetermined in their discourse, as it is also in others, standing as a malleable synecdoche for more intimate enemies (the 'nuum, my own deep-rooted insecurity, etc)...

It is interesting to consider whether States (or nominally anti-State secular movements) will begin (are beginning) to upgrade their own image-factories with some of these ideological/mimetic weapons. Processes of Al-Qaedaization, in philosophy, in politics...

vimothy
03-06-2009, 09:03 AM
Nominal anti-capitalism, perhaps in some respects. There are streams that feed into AQ that are anti-capitalist, and AQ is in many ways an extension of western leftist radicalism. And certainly "capitalism" is highly over-determined, at this point. But AQ's goal is establishing a transnational state with Sharia law, a network of fiefdoms swearing loyalty to the caliphate. I don't think they have any particular desires at governance beyond that.

josef k.
03-06-2009, 06:54 PM
However, this goal is only marginally more realistic than it would be if you and I were pursuing this same plan.

scottdisco
03-06-2009, 06:56 PM
However, this goal is only marginally more realistic than it would be if you and I were pursuing this same plan.

true though of course radical Islamists are responsible for much misery, pain and death in many places

(my apologies btw Josef if this stunning insight from moi looks a bit like i've inferred you wouldn't care to acknowledge such a thing. my bad.)

vimothy
04-06-2009, 06:33 PM
However, this goal is only marginally more realistic than it would be if you and I were pursuing this same plan.

I'm not sure about this. I don't think its too hard to imagine AQ uniting some ungovernable spaces under a caliphate ("caliphate", if you prefer), or even some states. In a sense, this has already happened.

And re AQ's anti-capitalism, I think the word I was searching for in response was "illiberal". Certainly, they are not free-trade libertarians, but I see their chief focus as politico-legal (as well, obviously, as strategic).

vimothy
04-06-2009, 06:57 PM
Also want to mention, in the context of this thread, Mary Kaldor (http://www2.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/Experts/m.h.kaldor@lse.ac.uk), whose work is pretty germane to the themes we're discussing. For instance, this (http://bostonreview.net/BR30.1/kaldor.html):


First of all, what does Professor Walt mean when he says that America is the “most powerful nation on earth”? In military terms, it is true that the United States outspends any other country—indeed, it spends ten times more than the next highest spender. But does that military spending translate into military power? To be sure, the United States possesses very sophisticated technology and can attack targets more or less precisely at very long distances. But that is not the same as what Schelling famously called “compellance.” Despite its apparently extensive military resources, it cannot control either Afghanistan or Iraq—two relatively minor “powers” (to use Professor Walt’s terms). So what does it mean to say that the United States is militarily powerful? Perhaps it means, and this is true, that the United States has the same difficulties as other countries. Russia cannot control Chechnya. Israel cannot control the Palestinian territories. India cannot control Kashmir. Military power has become immensely destructive, and, at the same time, global sensibilities about deliberate destruction increasingly inhibit the use of force. Moreover, the spread of easily available lethal, accurate, and easy-to-use conventional weapons has greatly reduced the comparative advantages of sophisticated military technology.

In other words, military forces are much less useable than in earlier eras, and this represents a profound change in global power relations. If we still believe that military power is significant, and as Professor Walt points out, both America’s friends and foes do still believe this, it is only because of the legacy of past victories, especially during World War II. But every time military power is used, that belief gets eroded.

nomadthethird
04-06-2009, 07:01 PM
AQ is in many ways an extension of western leftist radicalism

Do you really think so? Or do you think that western leftists sort of fetishize the badassitude of terrorists who aren't afraid to do something about what they believe after the fact?

vimothy
04-06-2009, 07:17 PM
I think that is probably true as well. I'm not claiming that AQ takes its inspiration from the political doctrines of 20th century leftist radicalism. Rather, there are formal, functional and modal symmetries, as well as historical continuities. And as Olivier Roy notes, "there has almost never been an example in Muslim history to parallel today's terrorist acts. When Bernard Lewis tried to link present-day terrorism to the Ismaili-Hashshashin paradigm, he proved precisely the opposite: the extraordinary Hasshashin (Assassin) saga is an exception in Muslim history, an isolated and weird episode born out of a marginal heresy."

(BTW, that quote is from a chapter in Globalized Islam called, "Is jihad closer to Marx than to the Koran?" It lays out this argument in a very clear fashion. If you have access to a good library, it's definitely worth a ten minute read.)

Mr. Tea
04-06-2009, 11:08 PM
badassitude

Word of the day.

vimothy
06-06-2009, 01:47 PM
Smith, "The Utility of Force",


[I]f one is operating amongst the people, and the object is to achieve and maintain a situation of order in which political and economic measures are to take hold, then by implication one is seeking to establish some form of the rule of law. Indeed, this may be described as a strategic objective--which means that to operate tactically outside the rule of law is to attack one's own doctrine. This is effectively what happened with incidents of abuse by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison or Baghdad or British soldiers in Basra in 2004--or of course the US administered camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba..."

Speaks very powerfully to the convergence of law and strategy in the modern era.

padraig (u.s.)
06-06-2009, 03:37 PM
it's a misnomer of course but re: The War On Drugs, this is madness:

drug cartels building their own fleets of rudimentary submarines to smuggle cocaine (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/05/AR2009060503718.html?nav=rss_email/components)

~$1 mil/per to knock up a no frills mini-sub that can haul several tons of cocaine 3000 miles from Colombia to the U.S. nearly impossible to detect. also re; the coming Robot Wars they're also, apparently, experimenting with remote-controlled drone subs. not to get all right-wing talk radio crazy but surely the implications for terrorism - as one USN dude puts it in the article "you don't want to see one of these coming up the Hudson".

also, this great cache of papers on Southern Iraq going back to 2004, which I've been working my thru slowly but steadily;

Basra & Southern Iraq Analysis (http://historiae.org/)

padraig (u.s.)
06-06-2009, 03:44 PM
Speaks very powerfully to the convergence of law and strategy in the modern era.

if the (primary) policy objective your strategy is aimed at is establishing rule of law - de facto or official.

vimothy
06-06-2009, 03:58 PM
Visser is great.

vimothy
06-06-2009, 04:17 PM
if the (primary) policy objective your strategy is aimed at is establishing rule of law - de facto or official.

I think that we're going to see this more and more in the future.

And Bobbit notes that strategy and law are already very close. Strategy: protecting ourselves from others. Law: protecting ourselves from ourselves.

padraig (u.s.)
06-06-2009, 04:53 PM
I think that we're going to see this more and more in the future.

this is almost certainly true. what is crucially important is who's law is to be enforced & who it will be enforced on.


And Bobbit notes that strategy and law are already very close. Strategy: protecting ourselves from others. Law: protecting ourselves from ourselves.

I would also define Law as protecting us from others. tho really it depends on whether you're one of those being protected or not.

vimothy
06-06-2009, 05:05 PM
tho really it depends on whether you're one of those being protected or not.

Giorgio Agamben has some interesting thoughts (http://www.germanlawjournal.com/article.php?id=437) on this.

vimothy
06-06-2009, 05:27 PM
And of course, Charles Tilly: "War makes the state and the state makes war".

The issue of whether it is possible to go from directly from a state of dis-functionality sufficient to provoke an intervention to a state of consent is, as you suggest, important.

vimothy
24-07-2009, 02:48 PM
If any of you have a subscription to Foreign Affairs, this (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/65150/andrew-f-krepinevich-jr/the-pentagons-wasting-assets) much discussed essay by Andrew Krepinevich is well worth a read.

vimothy
28-07-2009, 01:38 PM
R2P RIP? Let’s Hope Not (http://opiniojuris.org/2009/07/27/r2p-rip-lets-hope-not/) -- Kenneth Anderson

padraig (u.s.)
15-08-2009, 04:55 PM
Wired For War (http://www.terraplexic.org/indexsymposium4/) - absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in the way wars will be fought in 5, 10, 20 years.

and on the simultaneously laugh/cringe tip...
Lockheed demonstration ends with a crash (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=558_1250267201&c=1)

well, good to know we'll be replacing the Humvee with this. whose bright idea was it to let freakin' random journalists test drive the thing?

vimothy
17-08-2009, 03:33 PM
Nice one for the CTLab symposium link. (It's a great site, BTW). Was particularly impressed -- as ever -- with Kenneth Anderson (http://www.terraplexic.org/research-roundtable/2009/4/2/weapons-bans-and-autonomous-battlefield-robots.html):


...many of the posts - and a lot of Singer's book - talk about the dark sides of robots on the battlefield, whether in terms of autonomy or remote platforms, etc. From the military lawyer's standpoint, that is interesting, but only as a kind of counterculture to the main thing: Viz., whether or not you think the technology will work as intended (and utterly unlike landmines), the purpose here is target discrimination. One can talk about ways in which it reduces disincentives to killing, and how it increases the anxiety of the person fearing death from the sky, and so on. But the fundamental point is that you develop these weapons because, for whatever reasons - humanitarian, political, military, whatever - they allow you more precisely to target, and to do so without your own people at risk and the incentive to increase firepower to protect your people. As a lawyer in these fields, I'm having trouble seeing the bad in this - or, to the extent that I understand the highly theoretical critiques sometimes being offered, they seem to me pale shadows of the main thing, which is discrimination. And okay, maybe the technology doesn't work out with respect to autonomy or other things, and you have, in fact, produced something that is indiscriminate.

But the development of the technology is what it is because you are looking for something that targets more narrowly, with less firepower, and less collateral damage. Look: I was part of the NGO movement, running the arms division for Human Rights Watch that was telling the US military that it not only had to stop using landmines - it had to develop sensor technologies to give its missiles more precision, and more precision, and more precision - and that if you didn't invest in the technologies to do that, eventually, not then but someday, we'd start accusing you of proto-human rights violations for negligence in not developing the most discriminating technology possible. A military doesn't develop this kind of technology if its concerns are merely firepower, destructiveness, and increased lethality. Its motives might or might not be humanitarian - but motives are not the point; the point is that the technology is geared along the axis of increased discrimination. A lot of the objections, so far as I can tell, in my quite unenlightened, unintellectual way, come down to saying that war should not be turned into assassination. But that's what perfect target discrimination is - and again, as a non-intellectual in all of this, it seems to me that perfect war is target selection perfected to the point of assassination. Because that is how you achieve the polar opposite of cannon fodder.

vimothy
24-08-2009, 04:54 PM
The MOD: Unfit for Purpose: http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/53/full

padraig (u.s.)
24-08-2009, 06:37 PM
The MOD: Unfit for Purpose: http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/53/full

good lord that's, eh, pretty grim. tho - the author seems to know what h/she's one about but then there are some pretty contentious comments. not something I'm going to speculate on as I've no idea, obviously. one thing - haven't the British Armed Forces themselves had a serious of blunders in the last decade, logistical & in Iraq/etc? seems rather unlikely to just pass all the blame to the civilian bureaucrats.

surely some of this, incompetence or otherwise, just has to do, broadly, with the decline of the UK as an international power? (tbc I expect we've got it coming ourselves - in relative terms - 10-20 years or so down the line)

vimothy
25-08-2009, 10:41 AM
Truedat, though to be sure, I think that the MoD's institutional culture plays a part. In any case, it chimes with what I read in Hew Strachan's paper (in Survival) about civil-military relations in the UK (def. worth a read, BTW).

scottdisco
03-09-2009, 09:34 AM
Truedat, though to be sure, I think that the MoD's institutional culture plays a part. In any case, it chimes with what I read in Hew Strachan's paper (in Survival) about civil-military relations in the UK (def. worth a read, BTW).

from what i know, i must say, unfortunately, Vim seems wholly OTM re the MoD's institutional culture on this point.

vimothy
22-09-2009, 02:10 PM
http://shoeblogs.com/wordpress/images/ukrainian_army1.jpg

crackerjack
22-09-2009, 02:11 PM
http://shoeblogs.com/wordpress/images/ukrainian_army1.jpg

You sure that's not Sepp Blatter's personal bodyguard?

edit: Thye need to toughen up if they're worried about Russia. If it comes down to a scrap between Charlie's Angels in uniform and Rosa (http://www.cedmagic.com/featured/007/frwl-1-0912-rosa-klebb.jpg), my money's on the chick with the custom-made steel toecaps.

padraig (u.s.)
22-09-2009, 02:31 PM
I'll see you that & raise you:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_8BqjQ3bBqfw/RnBpkjKWrFI/AAAAAAAAAMc/gCde8Ii32s4/s320/idf.jpg

short shorts (and um, unlaced boots?) + assault rifles = win.

seriously tho, the IDF has an ungainly proportion of attractive women. here's a gallery (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/gallery/gallery-e6frewxi-1111120676744?page=1) to further drive home the point.

I'm glad we're using our time so productively.

on a (vaguely) related note, a this woman (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/us/22sergeant.html) may become the 1st female sergeant major of the Army (highest enlisted rank in the whole outfit). she trains drill instructors, and appears to be a serious badass.

vimothy
22-09-2009, 02:56 PM
seriously tho, the IDF has an ungainly proportion of attractive women.

Truedat.

padraig (u.s.)
05-11-2009, 10:59 PM
12 dead, 31 wounded at Fort Hood (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33678801/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/)

f**kin' hell.

swears
05-11-2009, 11:30 PM
seriously tho, the IDF has an ungainly proportion of attractive women.

Israeli women are just generally lookers anyway.

nomadthethird
06-11-2009, 05:07 PM
seriously tho, the IDF has an ungainly proportion of attractive women. here's a gallery (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/gallery/gallery-e6frewxi-1111120676744?page=1) to further drive home the point.


You guys would be in heaven on Long Island. Or pretty much anywhere in NY State. Srsly.