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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Post-trinitarian levels of war

I've been reading Martin van Creveld's excellent Technology and War, and this struck me as pertinent in light of the discussion we've been having about whether the problem with the Western militaries is at the Physical, the Mental, or the Moral level:
Once the politicians and commanders decided to mobilize their male populations, in one sense they overshot the mark. In 1914, and to a lesser extent in 1939, the instinctive reaction of the military to the unexpected prolongation of hostilities was to put everything and everybody into uniform. As the war dragged on, it became increasingly clear that this was a mistake. The same technology that made military mobilization possible also demanded that it remain incomplete. It was not enough for machines to be deployed on the battlefield. For them to do useful service, it was first necessary to have them designed, developed, produced, and supplied with fuel and spare parts. War itself extended its tentacles deep to the rear, spreading from the trenches into the fields, the mines, and the factories. Not content with the mobilization of those, it reached further into the design bureaus and, ultimately, into peaceful university laboratories where the most esoteric work was done and the potentially most powerful weapons were developed.

As war expanded in this way, both the meaning of strategy and its scope underwent a subtle, and at first imperceptible, change. Instead of being merely a question of concentrating the maximum force at the decisive point at the front, as Jomini and Clausewitz had taught, strategy now acquired the added dimension of an exercise in correctly distributing one’s total resources, both human and material, between the fighting front and the rear. Instead of being concerned with waging military operations, it became occupied with the overall coordination and integration of a country’s military effort. To cope with the new reality, a new term—grand strategy—was coined by the theoreticians and sometimes applied by those in charge.

For a variety of reasons, both ideological and structural, grand strategy was a field where Germany lagged behind the Western Allies during both World Wars, and for this, of course, she paid the ultimate penalty of defeat.
The levels of war aren't difficult to understand once you grasp that there is NO DIFFERENCE between "the military" and "the politicians" or "the brave soldiers" and "society". This is not new, it's the framework with which military strategists and theorists have worked since Clausewitz wrote his famous dictum: "War is a mere continuation of politics by other means."

I provided the example of Fabius Maximus in the previous comments, apparently to little avail. But I will repeat it in light of the quote above and perhaps it will help shed some light on the matter. Now, after Hannibal slaughtered 50,000 Romans and Italians at Cannae, the first thing Fabius Maximus did in taking charge was go back to Rome and shore up public support for the war against Hannibal.
When word reached Rome of the disastrous Roman defeat under Varro and Paullus at the Battle of Cannae, the Senate and the People of Rome turned to Fabius for guidance. They had believed his strategy to be flawed before, but now they thought him to be as wise as the gods. He walked the streets of Rome, assured as to eventual Roman victory, in an attempt to comfort his fellow Romans. Without his support, the senate might have remained too frightened to even meet. He placed guards at the gates of the city to stop the frightened Romans from fleeing, and regulated mourning activities. He set times and places for this mourning, and ordered that each family perform such observances within their own private walls, and that the mourning should be complete within a month; following the completion of these mourning rituals, the entire city was purified of its blood-guilt in the deaths. This decree effectively outlawed competitive outdoor mourning, which could have had a devastating psychological impact on the survivors.

Only after he had secured the Moral level did he change Roman strategy. And there we see the interaction of the different levels of war.

1. Moral.
2. Strategic.
3. Operational.
4. Tactical.
5. Physical.

Because Fabius Maximus took care of the Moral level first, he was able to adopt a better Strategy, which he knew would require a considerable amount of time, hence his nickname Cunctator, or "delayer". Because that superior strategy was designed to affect the Operational level, he put himself in a superior Tactical position as Hannibal's supplies and reinforcements dried up, thereby forcing Hannibal to retreat to Africa.

This is an amusingly ignorant statement from Wikipedia: "Fabius' own military success was small."

Nothing could be further from the truth. In the end, thanks to his superior Moral and Strategic generalship, Rome found itself in a position to win on the very Physical level that Hannibal had previously slaughtered them on at Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae. Fabius Maximus drove Hannibal out of Rome despite never seriously engaging Hannibal on the Tactical or Physical levels, something Varro and Paulus were unable to accomplish with 86,400 brave, well-drilled, well-armed Roman legionaries.

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70 Comments:

OpenID Jere April 01, 2015 3:46 PM  

There is a summary of john of Gaunts famous Grand Chevauchee in france during the hundred years war in the book "A distant Mirror" by Barbara Tuchmann. John of Gaunt takes a superior force into france and does a sort of reverse schlieffen plan around paris to the east and then down into the Aquitaine/Bordeaux region pillaging as he goes and trying to get the French to bring thier army to bear and get shot to pieces by Longbows. No dice, the french stay in their castles and burn thier own countryside to help starve the English troops out. What was notable was how Ms. Tuchmann noted that English historians have for hundreds of years explained this episode as (basically) 'We came down to get the French but they are sissies and wouldn't fight, so we got tired of waiting and pillaged a few things and went home.' when in fact they had suffered a crushing strategic defeat. The black prince was bankrupt (his forces had eaten most of their horses by the time they reached english holdings in SW france) and he had to release many of his troops to become "les retards" or latecomers, those left behind to try and make a living by banditry...

Anonymous Troll April 01, 2015 4:13 PM  

I agree that moral was more important than the strategic or physical for the Roman Republic. But moral and civic society had little to do with the success of the Roman empire. There is a big difference between a citizen army and the professional legions. You seem to ignore this difference. If the world is/was like you think it is, empires would never have had such longstanding success regardless of whether we are talking Roman or British or Chinese.

Contrary to what you keep saying, it is not hard for a professional army to beat an insurgency. The Americans knew how to do this in the revolutionary war. Look at the Sullivan Expedition for example. What it is hard to do with a professional army is win hearts and minds. But it is easy to beat an insurgency if you are willing to kill woman and children and burn their homes.

You always seem to conflate beating an insurgency with winning hearts and minds. But the as the Boer War showed, you can have citizen warriors that are better than the professionals on a man to man basis and they will still lose if the professionals are given a free hand to deal with the woman and children as they see fit. This is why liberty is no easy to thing to have. It is also why Lee did not heed calls to fight on as an irregular. He knew what an ant insurgency campaign conducted by Sherman would look like.

Anonymous Sensei April 01, 2015 4:15 PM  

hence his nickname Cunctator

Upon reading that I have just now caught on to a humorous reference Tolkien made in Farmer Giles of Ham...

OpenID simplytimothy April 01, 2015 4:27 PM  

Fabius Maximus drove Hannibal out of Rome despite never seriously engaging Hannibal on the Tactical or Physical levels

Which is (roughly) 4'th gen warfare strategy, right?


Anonymous Salt April 01, 2015 4:29 PM  

This is an amusingly ignorant statement from Wikipedia: "Fabius' own military success was small."

Wiki (the editors) can have an odd way of looking at things. Rome as opposed to Hannibal; these editors could also say a football team holding a top rated team to no points and only getting one TD itself did not have great success at taking it to the enemy. Doesn't matter they won the game.

Anonymous Tom April 01, 2015 4:30 PM  

War Before Civilization by Lawrence Keeley was a really interesting read for me lately. It looks back at what the ignored and often covered up pre-history of conflict between humans was really like.

It is very interesting to compare the types of activities and warfare carried out by the primitive groups to these deeper analyses that we are putting to it.

Keeley lists three types of conflict that occurred: pitched battles (rare), massacres (rare), raids (common). He then goes on to analyze all three as parts of warfare for uncivilized societies where as most previous scholars have only looked at pitched battles.

He says that most of prehistoric warfare came down to economic factors because warfare was a part of the overall survival dynamic, not separate from it. Prehistoric warfare was basically limited by the amount of surplus economic resources that a particular unit could manage to spare for the conflict.

The prehistorical peoples' moral level really came down to questions of survival first and foremost.

I wish I had people to discuss these ideas with in a back and forth sort of way. There is something here that I can't quite seem to put my finger on that seems important. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH.

Anonymous Leonidas April 01, 2015 4:31 PM  

This is an amusingly ignorant statement from Wikipedia: "Fabius' own military success was small."

Remember, the goal of military action is to win. If the means of winning require little in the way of actual application of force, so much the better for everyone.

Anonymous BigGaySteve April 01, 2015 4:39 PM  

"competitive outdoor mourning"

Is this like how pro soccer players drop to the ground and cry whenever someone comes near them, or the crying of SJWs when reality touches them?

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 4:42 PM  

Rome's capability and willingness to decisively deal with 4GW-type problem comes to mind as well. The conclusion of the Jewish - Roman wars comes to mind.

Anonymous Alexander April 01, 2015 4:43 PM  

So what you're saying is that Italians haven't really changed in 2000+ years.

Anonymous ENthePeasant April 01, 2015 5:14 PM  

I've been reading MVC since reading "Fighting Power" in the mid 1980s. It was very controversial and worse, I hated it's conclusions which were based on fact. It's heartening to see someone publishing his books, it's really exciting... However, this is a fight I've made for many years with no net gain. At one time I even made it here on VD's blog... with no good results. Reading the comments and seeing so many smart people missing the point indicates a cultural problem. I don't comment much these days, but on MVC there's a strange sense of Deja Vu that comes over me, the fight is always the same and I know how it ended last time. Nothing but crushing defeat and the rape of silly white women is going to change anything. It's coming, but probably not in time for MVC's ideas to be understood and applied towards victory.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 5:47 PM  

"Rome's capability and willingness to decisively deal with 4GW-type problem comes to mind as well. The conclusion of the Jewish - Roman wars comes to mind."

Rome's brilliance in that was not as total as people believe.

Read up on the Zealots.

Rome's real genius was allowing their new territories to govern themselves and using their own populations to tax them.

Roman soldiers quelled uprisings and pacified cities. They didn't build nations. They didn't depose governments.

They just installed Rome above those governments and took some tribute.

We destroy governments... then install new fake governments that the people reject... and then we find ourselves in a state of permanent insurgency.

No army can ever win in that state.

Anonymous Native Baltimoron April 01, 2015 5:53 PM  

While I knew that the Fabian strategy is what enabled Rome to recover from the disastrous loss at Cannae, the couple of Roman history courses I took didn't really emphasize the importance of his limiting mourning and shoring up senatorial and popular support. Pretty neat stuff.

It seems likely to me that moderns' tendency avoid open conflict is at least partially responsible for their ignorance of the morale/moral and even strategic aspects of warfare. The social context in which a war takes place is arguably as important as the war itself.

Slightly tangential: Western militaries have previously defeated insurgencies; Rome did it in Britain and Judea, and the U.S. won both the Indian Wars and the Philippine-American War. Yes, armies built for 2nd- or 3rd-generation tactics and strategies are going to have a hard time in irregular warfare, but that doesn't really undermine van Creveld's point that the weak point of Western militaries is moral.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 5:59 PM  

Vox... given 100% public support... do you think the US military could successfully maintain an occupation of Afghanistan indefinitely?

Blogger Danby April 01, 2015 5:59 PM  

The heart of Hannibal's plan was to recruit allies in Italy. The direct effect of even Trasimene on the strength of the Legions was not fatal. Rome could still field an army that could vastly outnumber anything Hannibal brought with him, and Hannibal dared not assault Rome directly. His victories depended on careful choice of the battlefield and elaborate deception. One of the great military tacticians ever, he probably could have managed another slaughter or two.

But Hannibal needed a few more battles to convince the non-Roman tribes to join him, to start a "preference cascade." That was the only way to supply and reinforce, so as to build an army that could assault Rome. Some of the Alpine tribes were probably willing to do so, but like everyone else on the peninsula, they had tasted Roman wrath and they were afraid of Rome. "Murum aries aggitit" and all that. By avoiding any chance of another decisive defeat,, Fabius prevented Hannibal from recruiting allies, eventually dooming the Punic army to hunger and retreat.

Blogger S1AL April 01, 2015 6:00 PM  

"Roman soldiers quelled uprisings and pacified cities. They didn't build nations. They didn't depose governments."

For the most part, yeah, though reading up on the zealots and the line of Herods does indicate that they WOULD depose highly incompetent governments. That's the big difference between the Pax Americana and Romana.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 6:06 PM  

"For the most part, yeah, though reading up on the zealots and the line of Herods does indicate that they WOULD depose highly incompetent governments."

Fair enough. but those incompetent governments tended to be unstable places where the people were looking for someone else to follow anyway.

The idea is to give the people something close to what they want so the insurgents have no power base. IE... to went the remote moral war.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 6:08 PM  

Vox... given 100% public support... do you think the US military could successfully maintain an occupation of Afghanistan indefinitely?

Yes, given the size of our population. With that kind of support, we could easily conscript one million immigrants per year and send them over there on 7-year contracts, after which they would be given property in Afghanistan in US-administered territory.

If you're going to occupy something successfully and you want to transform the culture, you have to settle it.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 6:12 PM  

"Yes, given the size of our population."

See I disagree. Its never happened. For a reason.

The moral at home doesn't matter nearly as much as the moral in the place you're occupying.

You have to pacify the population there.. not at home.

No matter how much Murcia you have back home... there is no pacifying those tribes. Thus... at some point... some day... you lose.

Every time.

Even if you're damn Ghengis Khan.

Anonymous Salt April 01, 2015 6:14 PM  

given 100% public support... do you think the US military could successfully maintain an occupation of Afghanistan indefinitely?

If Afghanistan had bombed Pearl Harbor you might be able to have such support, the cultural differences aside.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 01, 2015 6:21 PM  

Winning a war is not about killing people or even destroying things, its simply making the enemy give up. Julius Caesar is famous for defeating his rival Pompey's Legions in Spain without even fighting them at all, but merely getting them to give up, which Romans appreciated because they were Romans.
I'm not sure America will ever again win a war, in fact I'm not sure America even exists anymore. Our people are not just tired of war, but now we have no peace either. No peace on our streets or our media and certainly no peace of mind. I'd fight for the US Constitution but I think America is already dead and buried.

Blogger Danby April 01, 2015 6:23 PM  

@Nate
"See I disagree. Its never happened. For a reason. "

WTH are you talking about? The entire f'ing continent N of Mexico is pacified conquered territory, with the possible exception of some small parts of New England and Virginia, and maybe some of the nastier Western deserts. And the parts of Canada even French Canadians wouldn't live in. Hell, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California were taken from Mexico literally at gunpoint.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 6:25 PM  

'WTH are you talking about?'

/facepalm

Anonymous Giuseppe April 01, 2015 6:34 PM  

Vox,
I had read on Fabius before and concur. In essence I sort of thought of him as the original "inventor" of a kind of guerrilla warfare.

As a point of clarity and perhaps due to American vs. English spelling idiosyncrasies, I have to repeat Nate's question: Do you mean "morale" instead of "moral"? as I don't really follow the meaning otherwise.

OpenID cailcorishev April 01, 2015 6:39 PM  

Speaking of the Romans, a bit off-topic: while watching sports, I saw a couple promos for a show called The Dovekeepers. Roman soldiers marching around -- looked like it had potential! Then I saw a different promo that said something like, "Three strong women up against thousands of men..." Sigh.

My recent reading of ancient Greek history turned up several times that population replacement worked and stuck, but it seems to have required true replacement -- people A moving into area B for good and gradually (or initially) killing or pushing out people C. It may not be possible to do it with military alone, at least not more than temporarily. People have to move in, stake a claim, and make it home.

Can't say I'd personally want to live in Iraq or Afghanistan, but offer enticing enough contracts, and as Vox says, in a country as large as the US, you could get enough people. Problem is, that would require being honest about the purpose.

Anonymous Giuseppe April 01, 2015 6:48 PM  

Alexander,
So what you're saying is that Italians haven't really changed in 2000+ years.

if it ain't broke, don't "fix it".
I always found it amazing that everyone sort of deep down thinks the Germans are really all still Nazis in disguise, that the Japs are crazy Kamikaze bastards with possibly alien tendencies as well as Nazi ones, but ... everyone likes the Italians, who switched sides half-way through the biggest of all wars to date.

I also happen to have had one grandfather who was a pilot in the Italian Airforce and who served in North Africa, and the other who managed to avoid service for being the last surviving son of a widowed mother. The one who dodged service was a man with steel balls and ice cold blood in his veins. He also was one of the very few living men who point blank refused to join the fascist party. They used to tie people up behind army trucks and drive them through town back then for that. How he avoided that is a story in itself. He is someone I think of when I want to consider how a wise and strong man would act in any given context, but technically he's supposed to have been some kind of "coward" for not putting on a uniform and going off to the front.

So..yeah, we don't mind the rest of the world thinking we're bumbling fools who focus on food and can't fight their way out of a paper bag.

Anonymous Steve April 01, 2015 6:50 PM  

Nate - I know you were asking Vox, but...

do you think the US military could successfully maintain an occupation of Afghanistan indefinitely?

Yes, they could. Depending on how you define "success".

The occupation part, if you maintain vastly superior firepower and can keep backfilling your casualties, is the simple bit. Not easy, but simple.

Of course, it's also ruinously expensive. But as long as the folks at home are willing to keep paying in blood and money, you can keep occupying whichever godforsaken hellhole you choose.

The problem isn't occupying a country. The problem is defining and then achieving "success".

If by "success" we mean turning a collection of warring tribes into a postmodern Western-style democracy, replete with third wave feminism and hipsters mincing down the boulevards of downtown Kabul, then no. Putting a bunch of armed squaddies in their midst isn't going to achieve that in 1,000 years. You may as well try to build a 1:1 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower using nothing but ice cubes.

If by "success" we mean simply holding on to a large part of the territory through force, with occasional punitive expeditions into the hinterlands to terrorise the holdouts, then yes. That is achievable for as long as the public is willing and able to support it.

If by "success" we mean replacing the indigenous population with settlers, as Vox suggested, then yes, that can also be done. See also: the plantation of Ulster, the colonisation of America, the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

The coalition's failure in Afghanistan was preordained the day "success" in Afghanistan was defined as exporting Western-style democracy at gunpoint to a population of savages. The armed forces stationed there did as well as could be expected of them with the tools at their disposal. But no amount of infantry, gunships, or drones are going to magically transform the Afghans into liberal democrats, just as no amount of Soviet military might could turn them into dialectical materialists.

Anonymous Giuseppe April 01, 2015 6:56 PM  

Nate,
I agree with you.
Though Vox's reply of 7 years plus settlement is certainly one that potentially would be effective...except I don't think even an impoverished Mexican immigrant would want to trade his street-urchin life in Mexico for a piece or rockland in Afghanistan, and thus...the morale of the "US" troops would not be comparable to the locals.

Also...Afghanistan's population has basically been at some kind of level of war for something like 4,000 years nearly uninterrupted.

In my opinion, the only way to "win" there is to reduce the whole subcontinent where they reside into glowing glass.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 6:57 PM  

" Do you mean "morale" instead of "moral"? as I don't really follow the meaning otherwise."

its a point of contention that really complicates things. But yes... basically we're talking about morale but not just among troops but back home as well.

Think of it as the small c catholic will to fight and do what it takes to keep fighting.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 6:59 PM  

"Also...Afghanistan's population has basically been at some kind of level of war for something like 4,000 years nearly uninterrupted. "

which is why I was talking about Afghanistan... and not Mexico.

The afghans have never been pacified.

My hypothesis is that no military can defeat sustained widespread insurrection. Period. None.

The population must be pacified... and you can not pacify them through the process we have called nation building.

Anonymous Giuseppe April 01, 2015 7:21 PM  

Nate,
I agree. My reference to Mexicans was due to Vox's idea of using immigrants to settle Afghanistan in his example of how to win.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 7:31 PM  

Sure. You settle, the settlers start intermixing with the troublesome native population, and a few generations you have a pacified populace... wait a minute!

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 7:31 PM  

This post is very good.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 7:45 PM  

simplytimothy: "Which is (roughly) 4'th gen warfare strategy, right?"

What Fabius Maximus did, strategically and logistically, Wallenstein could have done too. The grandmasters of war understand how to accomplish these things, in any era.

Fabius Maximus was different because he was equally masterful in religion / politics / the moral level of war, and as far as I can see his ambition was simply the good of Rome.

What a blessing a man like this is to an endangered state!

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 8:13 PM  

Vox: "Sure. You settle, the settlers start intermixing with the troublesome native population, and a few generations you have a pacified populace... wait a minute!"

A brilliant and aggressive race stealthily puts a yoke on the neck of a race that is too guileless and trusting (and to that extent inferior). Not trusting to mass media domination and the "loyalty" of turncoat native politicians indefinitely, the conquerors settle the lands with alien races which they favor over the natives, striving always to reduce the natives to a minority in their own former lands, especially their cities.

The settlers commence to eating the taxes of the natives, rendering cities and the most pleasant parts of the country so miserable that the natives flee from them, inflicting crime and fear, and in some places commonly raping the natives, even their young girls, targeted for belonging to the native race.

"the settlers start intermixing with the troublesome native population, and a few generations you have a pacified populace... wait a minute!"

Yes, yes... Tell me more; how does this story go?

Outmatched as they are, I find myself sympathetic to the natives. Can they wake up? If they fight, can they win, or must they fall into patterns defined by the fratricidal wars and inevitable defeats of the past? Can they even survive?

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 8:24 PM  

Nate: "The afghans have never been pacified."

To many rules there is an exception named Alexander.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 8:39 PM  

Steve: "But no amount of infantry, gunships, or drones are going to magically transform the Afghans into liberal democrats, just as no amount of Soviet military might could turn them into dialectical materialists."

Right.

They can be conquered for real though. They weren't always Muslims, or Buddhists before that, or Zoroastrians before that.

First invent (or rediscover) a religion even more suitable to the temperaments of the native races in Afghanistan than Islam is. Let it spread, and when it is resisted by force, support it by force. Ultimately you will win.

The chance that you will score your win on behalf of something friendly and pleasant, when it has to appeal to Afghans: low.

Anonymous Porphyry April 01, 2015 8:40 PM  

I think the prescriptions employed by Fabius and others are steps in the right direction, but not enough to fix the modern military's mobilization problem. Specifically because they don't take into account the political effects of mobilization, for instance Germany's final collapse in ww1 was clearly an instance of incorrectly applied mobilization but not on the moral level, rather on the political one.

Anonymous zen0 April 01, 2015 8:53 PM  

@ Nate

Roman soldiers quelled uprisings and pacified cities. They didn't build nations. They didn't depose governments.

They just installed Rome above those governments and took some tribute.

We destroy governments... then install new fake governments that the people reject... and then we find ourselves in a state of permanent insurgency.


unlike what the propaganda about the purple finger suggests, I am beginning to believe that this is actually the preferred strategy of the American elites....management of chaos, or "Empire of Chaos" as Pepe Escobar puts it.

US cares not for tribute from faraway lands... just a bazaar for their wares and the weakening of challengers. Fuck the population. They have decided that management of permanent insurgency is preferable to the Strong Man doctrine of the British Sykes/Picot system.

This is why they airdrop supplies to Daesh (ISIL).

Keep all the players in a constant state of insurrection , like Ukraine, so that the big players are too busy to consolidate power.

They don't want to "win", in the conventional sense. This is the actual lesson of WW2.

They even use creative chaos to manage their own Federation. As long as the Yankees and Southrons are divided, Washington D.C. is secure.

Brilliant.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:10 PM  

"To many rules there is an exception named Alexander."

Umm... to date... the US has held Afghanistan longer than Alexander did. It took him 3 years to conquer it. It took the US about 3 months. less than 4 years after he conquered it... he was dead and it was waring with itself again.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 9:10 PM  

Joshua Sinistar: "Winning a war is not about killing people or even destroying things, its simply making the enemy give up."

Right.

G-word also is less about killing people than about making them collectively give up and die.

Joshua Sinistar: "I'm not sure America will ever again win a war, in fact I'm not sure America even exists anymore. Our people are not just tired of war, but now we have no peace either. No peace on our streets or our media and certainly no peace of mind. I'd fight for the US Constitution but I think America is already dead and buried."

"Give up and die" say our brilliant, aggressive conquerors, pouring out demoralizing propaganda from every entertainment, news and academic source.

Here's me: it's too soon to die. If the constitution is dead, fight for the nation. If the nation is dead, fight for the race.

Drill down, from the superficial to the fundamental, till you find what you should fight for, and permission to fight for it. If intellectuals subsidized to be traitors say "no," find other intellectuals that say "yes".

Read your classics: you will find the words and deeds of better men than those we see around us now, men who did not think it was the height of sophistication to betray their nations, men like Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator. Learn from the character of men like this. If there's one book I would recommend above all it would be Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans.

But like I said: that's just me.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:12 PM  

"Keep all the players in a constant state of insurrection , like Ukraine, so that the big players are too busy to consolidate power."

You don't need a military over there to keep that going.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 9:15 PM  

Nate, OK, Alexander was not an exception to the rule, "all men are mortal".

Anonymous zen0 April 01, 2015 9:23 PM  

@ Nate

You don't need a military over there to keep that going.

Yes you do. Military equipment, military advisors, coke addict sons of vice presidents, air drops, air strikes, hot air.....

The whole sheeebang!

Let the belligerents supply the bodies.

Anonymous Cash April 01, 2015 9:31 PM  

I have never been to Afghanistan but from what I have seen, the terrain would make for some sweet golf courses. Give me a 1,000 acrea Ostrich farm and easy access to a one of a kind course and I might sign up to be a settler.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 9:35 PM  

Danby April 01, 2015 5:59 PM, right.

Lots of credit to Gaius Claudius Nero too.

In effect:
Talk to your brother's head, you Punic genius, and if he talks back you can conquer Rome.
(Signed: Just Some Roman.)

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:39 PM  

"I have never been to Afghanistan but from what I have seen, the terrain would make for some sweet golf courses."

You should smell it before you make that decision.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:41 PM  

"Yes you do. Military equipment, military advisors, coke addict sons of vice presidents, air drops, air strikes, hot air....."

You need the military... but it doesn't have to be permanently there.

You could do the shoot and scram thing on steriods. blitzkrieg... wreck shit... leave. ... wait... blitzkrieg... wreckshit... leave. ... wait...

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 10:10 PM  

Jere April 01, 2015 3:46 PM, yes, well done. Problem solved.

But the French needed better solutions.

Ultimately the solution was technical: a professional military, with Welsh longbows trumped by French artillery.

But before that there was, and I think had to be, a moral solution from Joan of Arc.

It was the custom at that time to see battle as a trial: a trial by combat on a grand scale. There were elaborate procedures with heralds, all perfect for setting up the longbow trap, and of course the outcome would be as heartening to the victorious English and as disheartening to the beaten French as possible, as God had given His verdict!

(That was certainly how the King of England saw Agincourt.)

Joan insisted on the contrary that God wanted the English out of France, and French warriors should approach the battle in a spirit of enforcing the judgement already given. In particular, if you see the English at a disadvantage, don't sent heralds and wait for everybody to get into formation, but when you see them, hit them!

(But when they were already set up for the kill, Joan suddenly realized she needed to pray. All day in fact, till the English went away, since their position was unsustainable. Then, a couple of days later Joan's cavalry caught them on the road and plundered them. Then she mopped up all the small and separated fortresses to which the English retired. Thy will be done!)

Enforcing Jesus' pre-given decree that the English should be kicked out of France worked much better than mass trials by combat on one-sided terms.

The effect of Joan's extremely and authentically pious, intelligent, aggressive and highly pragmatic approach was felt throughout French society, not just among soldiers under her command or while she was alive. The paralysis was over. French people felt they could do things. The moral playing field was much more advantageous for the French crown, and for reform and improvement of every sort.

Anonymous Discard April 01, 2015 10:31 PM  

Mexico does not need military power to defeat its powerful neighbor. OTOH, if you think about it, it's not Mexico that's beating us, it's Washington D.C.
So, does that the U.S. government practicing 4th Generation warfare against the American people?

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 10:39 PM  

The levels of war aren't difficult to understand once you grasp that there is NO DIFFERENCE between "the military" and "the politicians" or "the brave soldiers" and "society".

A couple of people who were of use to Charles VII of France, also known as Charles the Well Served and Charles the Victorious:
* some peasant girl from Lorraine
* the king's mistress, Agnes Sorel, who was favorably disposed to this "artillery" stuff.

You have not crushed a great nation when you have beaten its official, on-the-books resources, but only when you have exhausted the strength of all its people: the maid and the mistress and the peasant eagerly pointing out to the native king's scouts which way the foreigners went.

Everyone!

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 10:46 PM  

Discard: "OTOH, if you think about it, it's not Mexico that's beating us, it's Washington D.C. "

Yes.

I don't think it's 4th generation war. But it's war for all the marbles.

Anonymous Discard April 01, 2015 11:20 PM  

Regarding the matter of distributing your total resources, I recommend "There's a War to be Won: The United States Army in WW2", by Geoffrey Perret. It was calculated that we could field 90 divisions and equip them lavishly. More soldiers than that meant fewer men building tanks. The price was paid by the infantry companies, which went through men like a sawmill went through saw blades.

Blogger Noah B April 02, 2015 1:28 AM  

You could do the shoot and scram thing on steriods. blitzkrieg... wreck shit... leave. ... wait... blitzkrieg... wreckshit... leave. ... wait...

Sure, you could... if we didn't have political leadership and an electorate that wet themselves at the first indication of success at the physical level. Put differently, the leadership doesn't have the stomach for victory.

Anonymous Stilicho April 02, 2015 1:39 AM  

I say again: this nomenclature issue with moral vs morale level of warfare is solved by calling it what it is... the emotional level of war. it encompasses the moral aspects (is our cause just?) as well as the morale aspects (are we willing to bleed for this?). Moral and morale can both serve to describe the level, but they have specific, common meanings and connotations that lead to misunderstanding of the phenomena being described.

The decision of a warrior to sacrifice himself to save his comrades is an emotional one. Likewise, the decisions of civilians to endure hardship and loss of kith and kin. People have to FEEL commitment to a cause in order to make those types of decisions and, most importantly, follow through on them. After all, how can man die better than "facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his father's and the temples of his gods?"

Ultimately, the will to fight is an emotional issue. One of belief rather than pure reason. Where reason would tell you to run away, belief can tell you to "get plumb mad dog mean" as Josey Wales might say. And this applies to peoples as well as people.

Anonymous Stilicho April 02, 2015 1:42 AM  

@ nate: "wreckshit" should be a verb in its own right.

Blogger Noah B April 02, 2015 1:45 AM  

"Ultimately, the will to fight is an emotional issue. One of belief rather than pure reason."

Quite right. Ultimately every decision made by a human has an emotional basis. Even the decision to think and act rationally is an emotional one. Now there's some irony for you.

Anonymous Stilicho April 02, 2015 2:05 AM  

One of the reasons the U.S. military has difficulty dealing with 4gw is that it has ceded the non-trinitarian aspects of warfare (physical, mental, and, especially, emotional) to its civilian masters (politicians and bureaucrats), particularly as they relate to both the enemy's home front and our own home front. Look at that civilian leadership: tough to get a silk purse from a sow's ear, n'est ce pas?

Moreover, contrast our current lack of unity of command between civilian and military leadership with the total unity of command exemplified by Fabius, or even the very good unity of command shown by the U.S. During WW2. Having different parts of your command structure pursue different goals is a recipe for a clusterfuck.

This also plays into Van Crevelds point about the lack of an existential war: nothing focuses one's attention and gets leaders to pursue a common goal of victory like a fight for survival. See also: Fabius circa Second Punic War.

Blogger Noah B April 02, 2015 2:29 AM  

Right, Stilicho. Americans have witnessed a military failure brought on by multiple levels of failure of citizens and political leaders, not by a failure of "the military" itself.

However, the contemporary US is sufficiently divided that what may be seen as an invasion by one faction is welcomed as liberation by another. Let the current illegal immigration debacle serve as just one example.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 02, 2015 2:30 AM  

Hannibal did everything in his power to manipulate the leadership of Rome's armies to his own benefit. That was an impressive beginning.

Conquering Semitic geniuses have gotten subtler since then, but the game remains the same.

Anonymous aero April 02, 2015 6:17 AM  

Different morals are required for fighting different enemy's. It a complex problem requiring an attitude behavior change of the people you wish to have follow or support you. Most people think the enemy has the same morals as them. Which is not true. If your enemy is like a venomous sneak you have to kill them all. There is no retraining them However the wolf you can retrain their young. What this means you can never reintroduce natural nature of the wolf.
The sneak and the wolf both have different strategy's, tactic, operation and physical abilities. A sneak is like a lone sniper and the wolf works in small packs like a seal team

Anonymous Tom April 02, 2015 7:24 AM  

Nate, Vox

What Vox is describing was actually the only way that pre-civilization war really ended. Unless one side was completely wiped out and their territory settled by the victors, the conflicts would continue to crop up for various reasons. It meant that most places were in constant states of war before civilization. But the war wasn't full scale pitched battles. It was in the form of raids back and forth between combatants. Run in, kill a couple of the other tribe, go back home. Repeat in six months or a year, or sometimes more frequently.

One could argue that Afghanistan is still pre-civilization, and so quite disposed to fighting all the time. One could also say that the population would never be pacified as currently constituted based on anthropological and archeological evidence of how pre-historic people acted. So, I don't think Vox is exaggerating what would be needed to pacify Afghanistan, I think the general idea of what he said is the only way it could be done.

But then there is the moral question. Why do you want to pacify Afghanistan?

It isn't just MORALE as in emotions, it is actually MORAL as in just and righteous. Unless you don't believe in moral truth and instead think all things are just relative. Then I guess it really is just about subjective emotions.

OpenID simplytimothy April 02, 2015 7:25 AM  

The fact that the U.S. Military cannot win "the war" abroad is an important marker for our current civil war of the several peoples in the several states. It tells us that their leaders are morally bankrupt. Our people here in the several states see it clearly.

I submit that the enemy has lost the moral level and cannot regain it (based upon the demiurge they serve).
That brings us to 2. Strategic (which we can use to encapsulate grand-strategic and strategic).

I am not a warrior, and I have not studied war. A first stab at fleshing out 2 Strategic would be:

2.a what is victory
2.b who is the enemy.

2.a is America from sea to shining sea with federal power reduced to its original scope--dependent on the several states for its continued existence.

2.b Codevilla's Ruling Class. The subset of people (probably quite small in relation to the American population) who are usurping our country in the name of 'our country'.


Sophomoric, not even. So what. Its a start.




Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 02, 2015 7:49 AM  

Tom: "Why do you want to pacify Afghanistan?"

To exhaust the Americans, to infuriate the Russians, to keep bubbling a conflict that justifies Jews killing Arabs, and (if pacification works) to prove the validity of a model that could be applied in Palestine.

Is this righteous? Yes of course.

When you make war with someone else's army, at the cost of other people's nations (while keeping your own safe and prosperous), and when the races being dragged down are those you have grievances against anyway, war doesn't require the sort of justifications it might need if one's own sons and daughters were dying and being impoverished.

If an insular, dominant minority gets control of other societies and is able to use them instrumentally, the normal laws of war are, if not altered, in need of very thoughtful and cautious application.

In particular:

The levels of war aren't difficult to understand once you grasp that there is NO DIFFERENCE between "the military" and "the politicians" or "the brave soldiers" and "society".

... this statement needs pondering when there is an ethnic difference, and the interests of the ethnicities are radically opposed (even if some of them may not be aware of that).

Blogger Nate April 02, 2015 7:53 AM  

"@ nate: "wreckshit" should be a verb in its own right."

And now it is.

Blogger David April 02, 2015 8:38 AM  

Vox, the problem is that your reading of Creveld is also that of the Pentagram's denizens.

Their conclusion? That military success requires full 100% control of the USA's economy. Can we doubt for a microsecond that pentagon planners have deep plans for mitigation of the obviously approaching financial cataclysm?

Reading Creveld without, say, Mises, dooms planners to repeat every moronic mistake of central planning. This is a paradoxical axiom of power.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 02, 2015 4:00 PM  

I'll fight my enemies but I won't fight for them. I don't see how they can win at all. I can understand wanting to rule the world. Every little twit and shit wants to do that. Most everyone can't, because they don't have the charisma or the ability. Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar are not of these alien people.
If they get rid of Whites, what do they get? Detroit? Mexico City? Brazil? Gee, good luck with that. Let's see you rule the world from Detroit boys...

Blogger JohnG April 02, 2015 8:31 PM  

If you’re talking about public buy in, I think that’s totally unnecessary (because it’s certainly not necessary now – you guys don’t even know who we’re killing right now) with a volunteer army, the populace now doesn’t *really* give a damn, they and their kids are not involved in the wars – plenty of articles over the last decade about the warfare class coming out of the South and other Patriot regions while everybody else debauches themselves and can’t figure out why Che wouldn’t be cool. If there was a draft, things might be different (I’m actually for a draft) but that’s unlikely, Rangel gets his ass handed to him every time he brings it up.
Further, since we’re printing our own money, the expenditure doesn’t impact the public either. Why not have 10,000 F22s? The checkbook is wide open.
Strategic – we’ve decided that COIN is superior to real warfare and especially total warfare, despite the fact that the last time we’ve won a war was in WWII and had Dresdan and Hiroshima. Don’t bother with reading the COIN cheerleaders that the bandy about in Post Grad and Doctorate courses – Bobbit, Gray, Beselles, et… their whole thing was that if the world contributed (equally – but inferred) troops, money and equipment, we could change the culture in IZ/AFG, create a middle class and everything would be nice, we wouldn’t have to kill anybody. The military is still cultivating the “We’re bad, if only we were nicer” thing in the TRADOC culture centers that indoctrinate all the units in the Army (paralleled by the other branches, with a lesser extreme in the USMC) and of course, the State Department and all levels of government are using the “Causation Theory” model, in which Poverty is the exclusive cause of terrorism (see Harf’s job for terrorist comments recently but (MAJ USAR) Stephen Coughlin outlined this a decade ago) – would only that we had fast food, ball games, porn and lots of material possessions, we wouldn’t be bothered with going out to plant a bomb.
Operationally, we can’t offend political correctness.
Tactical – read the latest ROEs – everything started disintegrating in 2004, the only reason why the “surge” appeared to work was that we had a legion of Army Captains running around through Iraq carrying dufflebags full of $100 bills to be thrown at Sunni Tribal Sheikhs (under the guise of incentive funds…Iraqis may be illiterate, but they’re not stupid) – but all the intelligence reporting was saying AQI was reinfiltrating a year after we blew Zarqawi to shreds with two 500lb JDAMS. They just cleaned up their act and were more discreet about their extra-judicial killings.
We took all the wrong lessons based on outwards appearances.
We’re incapable of dealing with a real enemy like Russia, China or North Korea (would that we had to deal with them militarily) – they would hit us harder than we’ve been hit since the Bulge, we’d have thousands of casualties and we’d be in shock.
Vox I think the analysis is good, but in light of how fucked up it all really is, it doesn’t work. Sun Tzu and Clausewitz didn’t write about governments that that had imaginary money.

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 02, 2015 11:18 PM  

" Further, since we’re printing our own money, the expenditure doesn’t impact the public either."

This msde me laugh. Ummm, no. It most definitely affects the public at large, unfortunately it is a slow dilution and the next generations are left holding the rags.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 04, 2015 3:51 AM  

Hew Strachan: The Nature of War: Why fight? The Problem of Combat Motivation

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