The View From Olympus: Fake Military Exercises

The mice of the Washington foreign policy establishment are trying to nibble around the edges of President Trump’s successful summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.  One of their squeaks is that the President gave up too much when he ordered the suspension of major U.S.-South Korean military exercises.  The June 16 New York Times reported that:

“You could probably cancel a single major exercise, like this one (Ulchi Freedom Guardian, planned for August) without doing major damage to the alliance and its readiness,” said Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center.

But that cannot become the standard… 

If several major war games were cancelled for more than a year, the impact could be significant, officials said.

Balderdash.  Giving up our joint war games with South Korea entails no military risk whatsoever.  Why?  Because the games are fake.

The reasons are two.  First, the enemy or Opposing Force (OPFOR) is trivial.  It is tiny, ill-armed and amounts to little more than a tethered goat.  It bears no relation to North Korea’s armed forces.  Second, the exercises are scripted.  The OPFOR has to lose; it’s in the script.  Real war is not scripted.  What makes war is the “independent, hostile will of the enemy.”  That is scripted out in these so called “war games”.  They may be games (with rigged outcomes), but they are not war.

A timely book speaks directly to the Korean war games.  American Cobra Pilot, written by Marine Captain Jeff Groom (and timed for release the day after he left the Corps) is the detailed account of one such exercise, Operation Ssang Young in 2014.  Its subtitle, appropriately, is “A Marine Remembers a Dog and Pony Show.”  Right at the outset he records,

Before heading to my stateroom (on the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard), I attended a preliminary briefing for the exercise and as I scan my notes it dawns on me that I haven’t taken anything down on the enemy situation.I understand we were going to do some shooting at one of the southern ranges in the vicinity of Pohang.But there is no mention of the enemy.Nothing, the word “enemy” isn’t even written…

Luckily, as if almost from heaven above, my inbox populates and I read words of my salvation from our executive officer…

“Everyone needs to realize this is NOT a tactical exercise.  This is a political exercise to show that even in fiscally constrained times we (Uncle Sam) can still throw together a dozen ships and do a beach assault with all of our toys.  What actually makes it to the beach is mostly irrelevant…” 

I breathe a sigh of relief…There just isn’t an enemy situation.  None.  My life is so much easier now…

Later in the book, when Capt. Groom offers a detailed description of the exercise, he writes,

I found out after the exercise that there was actually a small contingent of South Korean soldiers playing the role of the enemy on the beach.  They dug some shallow holes about 50 meters from the water and waited to be run over.  I don’t know if they did their homework on that one, but even by the battle of Okinawa, the Japanese figured out it was more advantageous to move into the center of the island and wait.  But then again that would make it hard if not downright impossible to get a picture of both the opposing force and the amphibious landing at the same time.  Taking pictures is of course the main goal of the exercise.  The pictures are then edited and reported on by the propaganda division of the Marine Corps, the Public Affairs Office.

It is typical that Washington foreign policy types would accept this show as real.  They know nothing about war, and they peddle the same kind of baloney themselves, in a city where one hand washes the other.  But the fact of the matter is exactly as President Trump stated it: we lose nothing by cancelling the Korean war games, and we save many millions of taxpayer dollars.

Sadly, the factors that make the Korean exercises poor simulations of war affect almost all U.S. military training.  The OPFOR is trivial and even that small force is constrained to follow a script in which it just sits there and gets pounded.

Decades ago, on a visit to the Army’s supposedly premier school, the School of Advanced Military Studies at Ft. Leavenworth (God help us if it is), the students were playing a war game set in the Persian Gulf.  The OPFOR was two majors with a tiny force.  I met with them and suggested some things they could do, small as their force was, that would cause the Americans some problems.  They got excited but said, “we have to ask permission.”  (Obviously, this was not the Kriegsakademie.)  They came back to me and said, “We were told, just follow the script.”

There is an old military saying, you fight the way you train.  We will, whether we want to or not.

 

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like?  Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: The Crying Child

In its quest to swamp native-born Americans in a sea of third world immigrants, the Left last week deployed one of its most powerful weapons: a crying child.  You have all seen the photo: the illegal immigrant, the Border Patrol officer and the small child bawling.  At that sight, we are all supposed to dissolve into tears ourselves and do something, anything so the child does not cry.

This is the sort of drivel one gets in a feminized society.  Facts and reason are to yield to feelings.  It matters not that this day and every day somewhere around a billion children cry.  If thirty seconds later the officer handed the brat a sucker and the tears turned to smiles, there was no picture of that.  A feminized society indulges in a culture of emotion, of pathos, of weakness.

In a world of Fourth Generation war, such societies will not survive.  While most people think of the 4GW threat in terms of terrorism, that is a very small threat compared to the threat of invasion by immigration.  We would do well to remember that the barbarians who overwhelmed and destroyed the Roman Empire were immigrants.  With the exception of the Vandals, most of them did not come to destroy the Empire.  They were trying to move in and enjoy its benefits.  But they came in such numbers that Rome was overwhelmed.

The 21st century is likely to see similar flows of whole peoples.  A combination of climate change, state collapse, and famine will see not millions, but tens of millions and hundreds of millions of refugees.  Few are going to flee to India or Africa.  They will head to places where life is good, Europe and North America.  Unless we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to keep them out, we, like Rome, will be swamped, and all will end up in a new Dark Age.  The immigrants may be seeking our way of life, but their numbers will be such that they will turn us into whatever they are fleeing.  This has already happened along much of our southern border.

President Trump’s policy of separating children from their families was a disincentive for illegal immigrants to come here.  We need every such disincentive we can devise.  If the policy seemed cruel—again, to a feminized society—it was very moderate compared to what the U.S. and Europe will eventually have to do to stem the human tide.  When most of a flooded Bangladesh boards a fleet of rust bucket ships and heads for Europe, Europe will either have to sink the ships or watch The Camp of the Saints scenario play out.  We will need, along with our southern border, not a wall but something like the old East-West German border.  Anyone who tries to cross dies.

That is, after all, what borders meant well up into the post-World War II era.  Border patrols did not arrest people trying to cross illegally.  They shot them.

A practical measure we need to revive immediately is to prohibit all entry to anyone without prior approval, including asylum-seekers.  In the case of legitimate travel, this means bringing back visas.  If we are talking about immigrants, we should return to the policy we followed from 1920 until the 1960s.  Anyone wishing to immigrate into the United States had to be examined, tested, and pre-approved, under a quota system and with an American citizen’s sponsorship.  The sponsor was required to take responsibility for the new immigrant, which meant helping them find a place to live and a job.  They weren’t just dumped on the American taxpayer.

A feminized society can do none of these things because, well, a child might cry.  Someone might feel bad.  To America’s good fortune, feminization and the broader cultural Marxism into which feminism has been subsumed in recent decades is largely confined to the coastal elites.  Heartland Americans, men and women, know the world is a tough place.  A culture of sentiment and of weakness does not appeal to them.  They know their children and grandchildren will pay the price if we leave the floodgates open.  And, as President Trump’s election showed, the Heartland is rising as the coastal elites, sobbing all the way, lose their grips.  Heartland people’s answer to a crying child is the one their parents gave them:  “Keep it up and I’ll give you something to cry about.”  Starting with getting sent home.

  

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like?  Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: Resources for Maneuver Warfare

Now and then it happens that a commander at some level in the U.S. military wants to move whatever he is in charge of toward Third Generation maneuver warfare.  The results are usually meager, because the military personnel system moves him after a year or two and his replacement invariably neither understands nor has any interest in what he was trying to accomplish. 

However, those leaders making the attempt will accomplish more if they draw on work that has already been done rather than trying to reinvent the tank tread.  A number of publications offer the “Cliff Notes” on maneuver warfare, i.e., they boil the general literature down and offer the basics without requiring too much reading.  The most important such works are:

  • The Marine Corp’s foundational doctrinal manual, MCDP-1, Warfighting.  An updated version is now being written, but the existing one is excellent (and maybe better; I haven’t seen the new one yet).  Published when General Al Grey was Commandant, Warfighting is probably the best summary of maneuver warfare in print anywhere. 
  • Other capstone Marine Corps manuals issued during the Al Grey years, including Tactics, Campaigning, which is devoted to operational art, and Command and Control.  Make sure you use the original version of FMFM 1-3 Tactics, as the Marine Corps subsequently ruined it.
  • My own Maneuver Warfare Handbook, which is still in print and available from Westview Press.  It is also in print in several other languages, including Spanish, Swedish, and Estonian.
  • The Marine Corps’ five-volume Warfighting Skills Program, MCI 7400-7404, which is designed for self-study.  The only maneuverist MCI self-study course the Corps ever produced, the Warfighting Skills Program may now be hard to find as it is no longer offered.  It is worth the search.

For those commanders who want to look beyond Third Generation war to Fourth, Cliff Notes are scantier.  The best is the Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook, which I co-authored with Marine Lt. Col. Greg Thiele and is published by Castalia House.  Also see the series of Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Marine Corps field manuals on 4GW.  The Marine Corps still has not officially recognized Fourth Generation War (nor successfully institutionalized Third), so it has nothing to offer here.  The other American armed services are stuck in the Second Generation and their doctrinal publications are useful only as fire-starters.  I’ve heard the Taliban regularly roasts goats over piles of them.

 For those who want to get more depth on either maneuver warfare or 4GW, you should start reading “the canon” in the stipulated order.  You will find an annotated bibliography discussing each book as an appendix to the 4GW Handbook.  The list is:

  • C.E. White, The Enlightened Soldier
  • Robert Doughty, The Seeds of Disaster
  • Bruce Gudmundsson, Stormtroop Tactics
  • Martin Samuels, Command or Control
  • Robert Doughty, The Breaking Point
  • Martin van Creveld, Fighting Power
  • Martin van Creveld, The Transformation of War

As a Marine infantry captain who was then the instructor development officer at The Basic School at Quantico said, “Unless he’s a rock, no one can read these books in the right order and not get it.”

   

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like?  Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: The Big One

The 2008-09 financial crisis was a warning Washington has not heeded.  We have continued in our profligate ways, increasing our federal deficit and national debt.  Far from bringing back Glass-Steagal and adding new measures to keep banks from pursuing risky business, we have de-regulated them while offering new incentives for moral hazard.  Seemingly secure in the knowledge they can buy enough Members of Congress to privatize profits while socializing losses, banks and other financial companies are doing everything that brought on the previous crisis.  The party is still roaring, the champagne is flowing, and everybody is still wearing a lampshade.  But in the east, the sky is beginning to brighten.

The Big One is coming, and I think soon.  What is the Big One?  An international debt crisis.  When it hits, everything will change, including for the Department of Defense.  DoD will no longer have spare trillions to throw around.

History has seen debt crises many times, and they follow a similar course.  First, lenders start to worry that a state’s ever-increasing debt may not get paid back.  That leads them to demand higher rates of interest.  As interest rates rise (and no, the Fed does not control long term rates), so does the percentage of the state’s budget that goes to paying the interest.  Soon, the state finds itself borrowing money to pay the interest on money it borrowed earlier.  That makes lenders really nervous and rates rise to the point where the state cannot afford to borrow more (or lenders simply refuse to lend).  At that point, the state does not have enough money to pay its obligations: not only interest on the existing debt, but the salaries of its employees, including the military, pensions, welfare payments, the cost of whatever it is procuring, and so on.  The cupboard is bare, and the state is in the grip of a full-fledged debt crisis.

For the U.S. military, which at present requires enormous financial inputs for not much output — we should be able to buy failures for less than a trillion dollars a year — everything will change.  The vast armies of contractors and DoD civilians will have to go.  Expensive procurement programs will be terminated.  Force structure will shrink — and the bureaucracy will seek to save itself by cutting what few actual fighters we have.  So enormous has that bureaucracy become that we could find ourselves with a “military” that has hundreds of thousands of people but no combat forces whatsoever.  If you think that can’t happen, take a look at Europe’s militaries today, including the Bundeswehr.

A state has two ways out of a debt crisis (kings had a third way, repudiating the debt, but republics find that difficult).  The first is to cut expenditures until they are below tax revenues and use the surplus to start paying back the debt.  If you want to see what that brings, look at Greece.  The other way, assuming a state has its own currency (Greece does not; it’s on the Euro), is to inflate that currency and pay the debt back in worthless paper money.  Which way is easier in a democracy?  Obviously, inflation, so that’s what we will get.  Inflation soon becomes hyperinflation and the middle class, or what is left of it, is wiped out.

States and individuals living above their incomes are not just an American phenomenon.  I think the international debt crisis is less likely to begin here than in China or even Europe.  But wherever it starts, it will hit here too, and quickly.  In 2008, we were within hours of, as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke put it, “not having an economy” as all lending abruptly stopped.  Since we did not heed the warning, this time that will happen.  Overnight, we will find ourselves in a world depression.  Economists will say you cannot simultaneously have inflation and depression, but that is as disconnected from reality as most of what economists tell you.  Look at Venezuela.

Now take a new Great Depression, hyperinflation, and a complete loss of what legitimacy Washington still possesses and add in the fracturing of America we already see on religious, cultural, and racial lines.  What do you get?  Fourth Generation war, here — the worst possible outcome.  If you want to see what that looks like, read Thomas Hobbes’ new book, Victoria.

The War on Men

People have long spoken or written on “the war between the sexes.”  No one ever imagined that the “war” in question was anything but a metaphor.  Usually, it was waged over the thermostat, with men wanting to set it colder and women, warmer.

A few weeks ago in Toronto, the war became literal.  A man drove a van down the sidewalk, attempting to kill a woman.  About a dozen people died.  A more recent killing in Portland, Oregon, may have been an assault on women.  How could such things be happening?  For as long back as history can remember, men and women, love and marriage, have gone together like a horse and carriage.

The origin of this new and dreadful real war between men and women lies, like most bad things these days, in cultural Marxism, and in the feminist movement it has subsumed (19th century feminism was pro-family).  Today’s feminism is openly hostile to men.  More, it has launched its own, non-violent but still devastating, war on men. 

The path that war follows is everywhere the same.  First, feminists demand that women be admitted to traditionally male career fields – cops, firemen, soldiers, construction, etc.—as equals.  When that happens, the women don’t become “one of the boys”.  On the contrary, the men are supposed to become eunuchs.  Men, including young men, are supposed to work cheek-by-jowl with women without showing the slightest interest in them as the opposite sex.  Since most men, especially young men, cannot do that – human nature makes it impossible – the women are empowered over the men because they can accuse any man who notices their femininity as “sexual harassment”.  Cultural Marxism denounces this as a sin and a crime, the man is presumed guilty until proven innocent, and men must now live in constant fear of the women with whom they share a workplace.

Of course, the man does not need to so much as look at woman to be accused of “sexual harassment”.  If he gives a woman an order she does not like, if he takes over because she can’t do the job right, or if he fails to notice her sexually when she wants to be noticed, she can charge him with the fatal accusation.  Men are put in a situation where they cannot work without women around them and simultaneously cannot work with them present.  What’s a guy to do?

The answer is, turn violent.  Here is a difference between men and women (there are many) that the magical incantation “equality” cannot nullify.  When pressed beyond endurance, men, but not women, resort to force.  Again, this is part of human nature.  No ideology can overcome it.  And, it works.  Hollywood may produce program after program in which lovely, petite women beat up big men.  The reality is otherwise.  If it turns physical, men almost always win.

To prevent it from turning violent, women rely on male chivalry.  But feminism pours scorn on male chivalry.  The man who opens a door for a feminist may get a kick in the shins.  But the same (hypocritical) feminist relies on the chivalry the man showed by opening the door to prevent him from grabbing her by her hair and breaking her neck.

Of all the “experiments against reality”, to borrow Roger Kimball’s phrase, that cultural Marxism has mandated, none is more absurd than pretending there are no differences between men and women.  Because those differences are real, inherent, and powerful, it may be that feminism’s absurd pretensions are the final straw that break cultural Marxism’s back.  More and more young men are gravitating to the alt-right in response to the impossible position they find themselves in vis-à-vis women.  And non- and anti-feminist women, who are a majority, are lining up with the men.  They like being different from men, they welcome both male chivalry and the well-mannered advances it includes, and they look forward to fulfilling women’s traditional roles as wives (in a lifetime marriage), mothers, and homemakers.

Reality says that men and women are inherently different and their traditional social roles reflect their inherent differences.  All experiments against this or any other reality fail.

 

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

      

The View From Olympus: A Disastrous Decision–Or Is It?

On the surface, President Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear accord with Iran is a disaster.  If Iran considers the accord null and void without U.S. participation and resumes uranium enrichment on a large scale – Tehran for now says it will stick with the deal – we would be on the road to yet another unnecessary war in the Middle East.  President Trump was elected to get us out of the wars we are in, not start new ones.

Meanwhile, revived and new U.S. economic sanctions on Iran may put us on a collision course with Europe.  Will Europe allow Washington to dictate to European companies and banks whom they can do business with?  If not, American sanctions on European businesses may be met with European sanctions on U.S. firms.  Europe, China, and Russia have already said they will continue to honor the accord, which leaves the U.S. diplomatically isolated.  Couple diplomatic with economic isolation and we will have a problem.

Some supporters of President Trump’s action hope the damage it will bring to Iran’s economy may inspire the Iranian people to revolt and overthrow the clerical regime.  That is a possibility, although most peoples rally around the flag in response to outside pressure.  But it is possible that, in the face of a widespread revolt, the Iranian state could collapse altogether.  That would be a disastrous outcome for all concerned, because it would be a great victory for the Fourth Generation war entities that would fill the vacuum created by yet another American-facilitated state collapse.  If Washington had any understanding of 4GW – which it doesn’t – it would realize a collapse of the Iranian state is far a greater danger than that state can ever pose.

But there is another way to read President Trump’s action.  Both on North Korea and on some trade issues he has gotten good results by using a standard business technique: going in with maximalist demands, threats, etc., then backing off as part of a deal.  In diplomacy, this is known as brinksmanship.  You push a situation to the brink of disaster, then pull a rabbit out of the hat in the form of an agreement that leaves everyone satisfied and the situation more stable than it was before.

If that is the game here – I have no way of knowing – then the President’s action was not a disaster.  But it is still a high risk.  The whole performance may have been coordinated with the Europeans in advance, in which case everyone is just following a script.  Again, that could lead to a renewed and improved accord with Iran.  But if not and our diplomatic isolation is real, the risks go up.  And if Iran responds by tearing up the whole deal and going for the bomb, again, we face another unnecessary war.  In that war, all the American troops in Syria and Iraq and perhaps those in Afghanistan as well will become Iranian hostages.  What then, Mr. President?

President Trump’s brinksmanship with North Korea appears to have worked well, so far at least.  If he comes out of his summit with Kim Jong-Un with an agreement that denuclearizes North Korea, ends the Korean war with a formal peace treaty, allows and helps North Korea to join the world economy and gets U.S. troops out of South Korea, he will indeed deserve, with Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon, the Nobel Peace Prize.  Should he be able to build on that by making a similar deal with Tehran, one allowing Iran to improve its economy while reducing its considerable regional military and diplomatic overreach, he would at least be a candidate for sainthood.  Has the President or anyone around him thought all this through?  God only knows.  And I’m not sure He is paying attention.

The View From Olympus: Israel, Gaza, and 4GW

Hamas, which rules the Gaza strip, has traditionally been less competent than Hezbollah at Fourth Generation war.  Its rocket attacks on Israel, although they have frightened Israelis, have done little physical damage while they have created a moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel that hurts the former.  Now, however, it is beginning to look as if Hamas has gotten smarter in a way that poses a real 4GW strategic threat to Israel.

On successive Fridays, Hamas has sponsored demonstrations at the border fence between Gaza and Israel.  On April 27, the demonstrators broke through the fence.  Israel responded, as it has before, with live fire that killed several Gazans.  Anytime that happens, Israel suffers a defeat at the moral level, which in 4GW is the decisive level.

Hamas’s challenge is to push that defeat up from the tactical to the strategic.  Conditions may be ripe for it to do so.  Israel, Egypt, and Fatah have combined their efforts to degrade the quality of life in Gaza to the point where people there feel they have nothing to lose.  When everyday life is hell, risking that life is a modest risk.  Hamas may be able to mobilize, not hundreds of demonstrators, but hundreds of thousands.

The scenario is not hard to envision.  Hamas mobilizes, let us say, 150,000 Gazans to start marching towards the border fence.  If Hamas really understands the moral level of 4GW, it will make sure none are armed.  No one throws stones or firebombs.  People have wire cutters and other equipment to go through or over the fence, but not a single demonstrator takes any action that could hurt an Israeli, soldier or civilian.  Perhaps they carry flags, flowers, or gifts of food from hungry Gaza. 

What does Israel do?  Modern firepower can kill most if not all of the 150,000.  But if Israel does that, its strategic position in the rest of the world collapses.  In a supreme irony, Israel looks like Nazi Germany.  But if Israel does not turn on the firepower, it is invaded by an unarmed army that nonetheless seeks to occupy its land.

It is in Israel’s interest to avoid this strategic dilemma at the moral level of war.  I think it is not too late to do so.  The key is to de-motivate Gazans from risking their lives.  That, in turn, requires improving living conditions and economic opportunities in Gaza.

To pull Hamas’s fangs, Israel, ideally in cooperation with Egypt (Fatah won’t play), should announce a major program to help the people of Gaza.  That should include a steady and adequate supply of electricity, supplies, and so on.  Life in Gaza will never be easy, but it can be made tolerable, as it was not too long ago.

The question is whether a Likud government can bring itself to do this.  Its political base will react negatively.  That base does not grasp 4GW and wants Israel to mow down invading Gazans like wheat.  If Likud does not do that, other parties will seek to go around it on its right.  Critics will point out, correctly, that Hamas may use materials that Israel allows to flow into Gaza to attack Israel.  The fact that this is a tactical, physical threat as opposed to a far more dangerous strategic and moral dilemma will be lost on most of the Israeli public.  So Likud faces another dilemma: does it avert a moral strategic threat to Israel or does it act to please its political base?

I am not optimistic Likud will act for Israel rather than for itself.  Its inability to grasp Fourth Generation war has long been evident.  It sees the problem purely in terms of the physical, tactical level.  It cannot understand John Boyd’s point that this is the weakest level of war, while the most powerful level is the moral, strategic level.  (See “the grid” in Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook for more on this.)

Hamas may blow its opportunity by reverting to violence.  But if it employs the power of weakness effectively, Israel could be on the verge of strategic disaster.  I have been to Israel.  I like the country, I like the people, I have Israeli friends.  I don’t want to see that happen.  But as is so easy in 4GW, if it does happen, Israel will have defeated itself.

 

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: Another Strategic Blunder

The latest cruise missile caracole aimed at Syria was militarily meaningless.  A few empty buildings were destroyed, residents of Damascus and Homs lost a couple hours of sleep and honor was satisfied.  The only thing missing was Handel’s Musick for the Royal Fireworks

What was not trivial was that America once again fell into its besetting policy of sacrificing the strategic level to the tactical.  Strategically, we need an alliance with Russia and we need to restore the state in Syria.  When someone, probably not the Syrian government, launched a minor tactical attack that may or may not have used chemical weapons we immediately forgot our strategic goals and interests and fired off some missiles.  This is the response of a spoiled child, not a serious nation.

As I have pointed out before, a rule of war is that a higher level trumps a lower.  No matter how brilliant your tactical performance, if you lose operationally, you lose.  You can win repeatedly at the tactical and operational levels, as Germany did in both World Wars, but if you lose strategically, you lose.  It follows that one of the most elementary errors in statecraft is sacrificing a higher level to a lower.  And the U.S. does it time and time again.

In this case, part of the reason for the idiocy was the dreaded words, “chemical weapons!”  Chemical weapons, which used to be called poison gas, are now considered a “Weapon of Mass Destruction” like nuclear weapons.  This is historical nonsense.

The last war where poison gas was widely used was World War I.  It proved difficult to deploy, often ineffective, and much less deadly than standard artillery shells.  90% of soldiers gassed in World War I recovered.  While some suffered life-long breathing problems, most did not.  And none lost limbs or suffered massive brain damage from shock waves.

Nor is it likely the gas used in this case, if it was in fact used, was employed by the Syrian government.  Damascus has to be aware of the strategic disadvantages it suffers if it uses gas.  If Mr. Assad is dumb enough to sacrifice the strategic level to the tactical, his Russian advisors are not.

Logic suggests we ask the question, “Who benefits?”  The obvious answer is, those fighting against the Syrian state, i.e. the rebels, some of whom we are supporting.  Are they such monsters that they would gas their own people to provoke an American attack on Damascus?  Absolutely.  When President Trump referred to the Middle East as a “troubled place”, he was being kind.  Every player there is a monster.

The President will best serve this country if he follows through soon on his desire to bring U.S. troops home from Syria, and Iraq, and Afghanistan.  Regrettably, he seems to get buffaloed by the generals; at least he has been on the Afghan mess.  We can stay there another 100 years and nothing will be any different.

But leaving our current quagmires will not fix the underlying problem, our ingrained habit of sacrificing a higher level of war to a lower.  Not only do we do it in reference to the three classic levels of warfare, tactical, operational, and strategic, we also do it with Col. John Boyd’s three levels, physical, mental, and moral.  The reason we lose Fourth Generation wars is that the U.S. military, which seeks to reduce war simply to putting firepower on targets, sacrifices the mental and moral levels to the physical.  Clever Fourth Generation entities focus on the moral levels, which Boyd argued is the highest and most powerful level.  So they win.

Here’s a question for Russian intelligence to work on: to which kindergarten class has Washington contracted out its thinking?

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

Solving the China Trade Problem

President Trump is right to confront China on the trade issue.  China has long been dumping materials such as steel on the American market, and it has been acquiring technology we have developed by means open and surreptitious.  Together, China’s predatory trade policies have devastated American manufacturing and largely destroyed our blue collar middle class.  Here in Cleveland we have seen whole factories bought by Chinese, torn down, and re-erected in China.  What were good-paying American jobs became Chinese jobs.

At the same time, America needs China at the grand strategic level.  To meet the threat posed by Fourth Generation war, we need an alliance of all states.  The core of such an alliance must be the three greatest powers, Russia, China, and the U.S.

Nor should we wish to damage China’s economy.  The world is teetering on the edge of a global debt crisis.  Such a crisis is most likely to begin in China, whose recent prosperity is built on a $15 trillion mountain of debt, much of it bad.  A debt crisis in China will quickly spread.  It is likely to end in a world-wide depression to rival that of the 1930s.  America, which like China continues to pile up both public and private debt, will not be exempt.  America tomorrow will be Greece today, with the added nightmare of hyperinflation as the federal government seeks to pay off its debts with worthless money.  That is a future we should do our utmost to avoid. 

I think there is a way out of this seeming dilemma.  What is it?  Managed trade.

Managed trade is where two countries sit down and negotiate in detail what each will export to the other and import from the other.  The objective is a trade balance, where neither runs a large and continuing trade surplus with the other, as China now does with us.  Each country will have natural advantages over the other in certain products.  The objective is to balance the advantages of each with the comparative weaknesses of each.

Managed trade is possible with China because China has a state-controlled economy.  China’s economy today is neither Marxist nor socialist.  Instead, it is mercantilist.  Mercantilism is the economic model followed by Japan, then South Korea, and now China in transforming themselves from poor countries into prosperous ones.  Though ideological free traders loath the fact, mercantilism works.

Mercantilism was the predominant economic model in 17th and 18th century Europe.  For the most part, it relies on a regulated free market domestically.  But the state intervenes in the economy in order to promote its objectives.  Those objectives include full employment; the ability to meet most if not all needs domestically, which leads the state to finance industrial development aimed at import substitution; the use of tariffs, quotas, and other restraints on trade, again to promote domestic manufactures; and a positive balance of trade.

While free trade has benefitted Wall Street, it has done massive damage to Main Street.  One of America’s proudest achievements, a large blue collared middle class, is now largely gone as a consequence of free trade.  The white collar middle class’s neck is now on the block as companies seek to cut their cost by importing white collar workers from places such as India and outsourcing white collared jobs overseas.  A mercantilist federal government would stop both practices by denying visas to foreign workers coming here to displace Americans and by putting a large export duty on jobs shipped overseas.

Mercantilism on China’s part makes a deal based on managed trade possible.  Mercantilism here at home, instead of free trade, could rebuild the American economy we had in the 1950s and ‘60s, where prosperity was not limited to the 1%.

The View From Olympus: The Worst Possible Choice

In selecting John Bolton to be his National Security Advisor, President Trump has made the worst possible choice.  His decision is so bad it is likely to destroy his Presidency and perhaps a good deal more.

I do not know John Bolton personally.  But I do know he is a neo-con, and by reputation neither the best nor the brightest of that loathsome brood.  The neo-cons, in case you have forgotten, pushed another President with limited international experience into the disastrous war with Iraq.  And they are unrepentant.  They still think the war in Iraq was a good idea, despite the enormous boost it gave to 4GW Islamic entities such as al Qaeda and ISIS.  They want more such wars.  John Bolton will now be in just the right position to start them.

From his past statements it appears Mr. Bolton most of all wants wars with North Korea and Iran.  The President does not seem to want the former, although Bolton may try to push him into it.  But the major danger looks to be a war with Iran.  Here, Bolton’s view and the President’s may reinforce each other, with potentially disastrous results.  I have written in other columns about how such a war could go wrong.  Even if we won, the result would likely be a break-up of the Iranian state and another big victory for 4GW.  And a war in the Persian Gulf could be the spark that sets off a global debt crisis, which would mean a long-lasting, world-wide economic depression. 

Given the miserable results of our previous and continuing wars in the Near East, how could anyone want another one?  Why would they expect any outcome other than another failure?  Regrettably, neither the neo-cons nor the President know much about wars or militaries.  That has left them prey to the baloney the U.S. military feeds itself and the American public, and in turn expects the public and federal officeholders to feed back to it.  You have often heard it: “The U.S. military is the greatest in all of human history.  No one can beat it; no one can even fight it.”  Its only problem is that, with a measly trillion-dollar budget, it just doesn’t have enough money. 

It is, as I said, baloney.  The U.S. military is a lavishly-resourced, technically well-trained Second Generation military.  It can win against other Second Generation state armed forces.  Were it to come up against a Third Generation state opponent, it would go down fast, for the same reasons the French did in 1940.  Against Fourth Generation opponents it has a consistent record of failure.

But when speaking of the neo-cons, the consequences to the U.S. of a war with Iran may be unimportant.  Collectively, the neo-cons are agents of a foreign power, and specifically a foreign political party, Israel’s Likud.  They created the war with Iraq as part of a strategy for Israel they helped put together for Likud.  That strategy called for using the U.S. military to destroy any Arab state that could be a threat to Israel.  Iraq was the first target.

Israel’s Likud Prime Minister, “Bibi” Netanyahu, has been described in Israel as a tactical genius and a strategic idiot.  But even he figured out, after the Iraqi state was destroyed and Islamic 4GW spread throughout its ruins, that those 4GW entities were far more dangerous to Israel than were the Arab states they replaced.  Israel now has a quiet alliance with most remaining Arab states against the forces of Fourth Generation war.

But since its founding Likud’s objective has been an Israel stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.  It has carefully sabotaged any and all possible two-state solutions, to the point where that possibility is gone.  But a one-state solution means an Israel with an Arab and a Moslem majority, which Likud also finds unacceptable.  So Likud needs to ethnically cleanse Palestine of Arabs.  And to do that, it needs a big war in the region, big enough that only the U.S. can create it, to give Israel cover.  If the war is big enough, no one will notice the ethnic cleansing until it is done.  Ironically, that’s how the Holocaust happened.

The assignment of American neo-cons is now to start a war with Iran, as their previous assignment was to start the war with Iraq.  And one of their number is now President Trump’s National Security Advisor.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.