A large-scale conventional war involving the United States and a “near peer” (read: Russia or China - see Bill Lind’s latest, below, for more) just isn’t going to happen. But a massive pandemic, either natural or released by accident or terrorism, cannot be so glibly ruled out. This season’s flu fiasco shows just how far we are from being able to cope with virus-based diseases, even relatively mild ones.
Archive for the 'Global and Strategic Issues' Category
William Grimes reviews Robert Bryce’s A Gusher of Lies in today’s New York Times (free registration required).
Here’s a teaser:
In “Gusher of Lies,” Mr. Bryce, a freelance journalist specializing in energy issues, mounts a savage attack on the concept of energy independence and the most popular technologies currently being promoted to achieve it. Ethanol? A scam. Wind power? Sheer fantasy. Solar power? Think again. For the foreseeable future, which is to say the next 30 to 50 years, fossil fuels will reign supreme, as they have for the last century. Deal with it.
Conflict over energy supplies and other scarce resources is often mentioned as igniting warfare in the 21st century. Apparently Bryce doesn’t discount this possibility, but he demolishes the most popular solutions to achieving energy independence. So if we are going to avoid such conflict, we need to quit deluding ourselves that simple solutions are just around the corner.
zenpundit reviews If We Can Keep It.
Richard Perle, the esteemed Prince of Darkness himself, has a piece in today’s WaPo where he notes, in response to Russia’s threat to increase their strategic arsenal:
For one thing, the greatly diminished American nuclear force still has many more weapons than it needs. Far from responding in a way that lends credence to Putin’s false claim, we should be looking for ways to reduce our nuclear forces still further. We should greet Russian threats to race with amusement and a big yawn: They would be competing against themselves. If Putin wishes to pour petro-rubles into building more missiles, our response should be limited to sympathy for the ordinary Russians whose taxes will be squandered, much as they were with catastrophic consequences during the Cold War.
By William S. Lind
If the Balkans had an anthem, it would be that 1950’s doo-wop hit, “Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.” The latest Balkan fools are the United States and the European Union, which have rushed in to recognize what Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica rightly calls the “fake state of Kosovo.” Why is it a fake state? Because there are no Kosovars, only Serbs and Albanians. Each group seeks to unite Kosovo with its homeland, historic Serbia or Greater Albania. An independent Kosovo has the half-life of a sub-atomic particle.
By Ed Beakley
In On War #251, “War or not war?” Bill Lind wrote:
At the core of 4GW lies a crisis of legitimacy of the state. A development that contributes to the state’s crisis of legitimacy is the disintegration of community (Gemeinschaft). Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the powerful, highly intrusive state, community has increasingly been displaced by society (Gesellschaft), where most relationships between people are merely functional.
I draw a significantly different thread from Mr. Lind’s article than those indicated by other comments.
By William S. Lind
Between February 8 and February 14, four American schools suffered attacks by lone gunmen. The most recent, at Northern Illinois University on February 14, saw five killed (plus the gunman) and 16 wounded. Similar attacks have occurred elsewhere, including shopping malls.
Is this war? I don’t think so. Some proponents of “Fifth Generation war,” which they define as actions by “superempowered individuals,” may disagree. But these incidents lack an ingredient I think necessary to war’s definition, namely purpose. In Fourth Generation War, the purpose of warlike acts reaches beyond the state and politics, but actions, including massacres of civilians, are still purposeful. They serve an agenda that reaches beyond individual emotions, an agenda others can and do share and fight for. In contrast, the mental and emotional states that motivate lone gunmen are knowable to them alone.
By William S. Lind
Retired Air Force Colonel Chet Richards has published another short, good book: If We Can Keep It: A National Security Manifesto for the Next Administration. The “it” in question is a republic, which we are unlikely to keep since republics require a virtuous citizenry. But suggesting a rational, prudent defense policy for the next administration is sufficiently quixotic we might as well also pretend the republic can endure.
Richards’ first major point is that most of our armed forces are “legacy forces,” white elephants designed for fighting the Red Army in Europe or the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific. They have little utility in a world where nuclear weapons prevent wars among major powers, wars with minor powers can be won easily and usually aren’t worth fighting, and legacy forces generally lose against Fourth Generation opponents. Although they are largely useless, these legacy forces eat up most of the defense budget. Richards would disband them, save the Marine Corps, some useful tac air (i.e., A-10s) and some sealift, and give the money back to the taxpayer.
Fabius Maximus has an interesting post on the Navy’s death spiral, but it raises the question of whether such a fate is inevitable. That is, are there so many uses for military forces in the world that we will always need more than we can afford? The answer is that if you start with what you can do with military forces and then add up the costs for doing all these things, you will always run out of money long before you satisfy all your requirements.
By William S. Lind
For centuries, Continental wars that included Great Britain tended to follow a pattern. The British would send an army to the Continent; it would be defeated by the French or Germans; the British would withdraw to their island; and their triumphant European enemy would draw up a superior force on the French or Dutch Channel coast. There was little doubt about the outcome, should that army land in Britain. But it could never get across the English Channel.