Blaming the Victim

One of the feminists’ favorite bleats is that pointing the finger at the woman in any case of “sexual harassment” is “blaming the victim”.  With a wave of a witch’s wand they have done away with all vamps, hussies, floozies, jades, tramps, and sluts.  Every woman is as pure as the driven snow and as innocent as Little Nell.

The game here is obvious: in cultural Marxism, the most exalted title is that of “victim”.  But if we depart from ideology and look instead at reality, we soon see that the real victims of Feminism are non-elite women and men.

Feminism has benefitted a small minority of elite women, who can now live as if they were (very successful) men.  But for the average woman, feminism has been a disaster.  Why?  Because with its promotion of no-fault divorce, it has taken away the main support of ordinary women’s lives: marriage.  Now, as they get old and fat, instead of a comfortable old age surrounded by children and grandchildren, they get dumped.  All the husband has to say is, “I want a divorce.”  The ex-wife is well past her sell-by date and is left alone, poor and miserable.  From what I have seen over a lifetime, men do a great deal better on their own than do women as they age.  I don’t know how many women of my generation have said to me, “If only I could have the life my grandmother had.”  Feminism has made that unlikely.

Men are another victim of Feminism.  The feminists’ game plan never varies.  First, on the basis of “equality” (defined as interchangeability) demanded that women be allowed into every job, including many that only a tiny handful can do such as firemen, sailor, and soldier.  When women cannot perform, the feminists demand that standards be lowered.  Then, they demand that the aggressively male culture organizations that do dangerous jobs require be altered to make it comfortable for women.  That drives the best men out.  Finally, the men who remain are put under a reign of terror where if they so much as ogle a woman they are in serious trouble, usually through a commissar system that deems the woman always innocent regardless of her behavior.  At that point, the institution is wrecked to where it cannot fulfill its purpose and everyone who depends on it becomes a real victim.

Both classical economic Marxism and cultural Marxism engage in loser worship.  “Victim” is simply the fashionable word for loser.  Both varieties of Marxism assume that losers have never become losers by their own fault.  They are losers only because they have been “oppressed” by those who are not losers.  Both Marxisms demand that society reach deep into humanity’s sewer and plop whatever it finds there on the civic altar where all must bow down and worship it.  One might call it a cacastrocracy.

This in turn reveals Marxism’s foundational trick.  It takes praiseworthy aspects of traditional Judeo-Christian societies, in this case charity for the blind, the botched, and the bewildered, carries them to an extreme and turns them into weapons against that society.  This is how the cultural Marxists took over so many universities beginning in the 1960s.  Those universities were run by liberals, but liberals who had not completely lost their grip on reality.  The cultural Marxists took those liberals’ stated values, such as world peace, tolerance, and equality, carried them to extremes, and then turned them back on the liberals.  The liberals could only respond with complete moral collapse.

Fortunately, both in the United States and in Europe, the day of moral collapse are coming to a close.  Reality is returning as a political force.  Reality tells us that if we want to keep men and women from sexually harassing each other (bat your eyelashes, girls), we have to keep them separate.  Reality facilitates doing so, because it recognizes that men and women are not interchangeable.  They are inherently different, their minds work differently and their traditional social roles reflect their inherent differences.  Women make poor firemen and soldiers, while men are lousy homemakers and child-rearers.  As always, there are individual exceptions.  But if societies are to work, they must be based on what is true of people in general.  And what is true is that feminism is a howling lie.

The View From Olympus: Getting Grand Strategy Wrong

One of the iron laws of warfare is that a higher level dominates a lower. You can be brilliant tactically, but if you are defeated operationally, you lose. You can win tactically and operationally, but if you get beaten strategically, you lose. And if you get your grand strategy wrong, you lose no matter how well you did at the lower three levels. The German Army was the best in the world for almost eighty years, but Germany lost both World Wars because its grand strategy was terrible.

Having failed to copy tactical and operational excellence, we now appear instead to be imitating Berlin when it comes to grand strategy. The new national security strategy published by the White House on December 18 is a disaster. The strategy it recommends was obsolete before the ink was dry.

As the New York Times reported on December 19,

Mr. Trump’s strategy contains more than a few hints of a return to a Cold War view of the world. . . China is a ‘revisionist’ power. . .Russia is also described as revisionist. . .it [the strategy] is animated by a single idea: that the world has been on a three-decade holiday from superpower rivalry and it suggests that the holiday is now over.

What a wonderful Christmas present to “terrorists”, i.e., Fourth Generation war and those who fight it! The White House just told them that instead of creating an alliance of states to fight and defeat them, we are going to put our energy into picking quarrels with the other two great powers, Russia and China – the two countries we need most as allies in defense of the state system. If 4GW were listed on the New York Stock Exchange, I’d sell all my Bitcoins and put everything into Terrorism Consolidated Amalgamated Ltd. (A financial note: critics’ argument that Bitcoins have no intrinsic value is not true. One Bitcoin is worth exactly one tulip bulb.)

As I have argued repeatedly and is evident all around us to anyone who has eyes, the world is caught up in a grand strategic paradigm shift. Fourth Generation war, war waged by entities that are not states, means that the grand strategic contest for the 21st century is the fight to preserve the state system itself. To do that, we need an alliance of all states in defense of the state system. Obviously, such an alliance must begin with the two other Great Powers, China and Russia. Only after these three have united in a Triple Alliance will it be possible to bring in everyone else.

The greatest hope of those seeking to undermine and destroy the state system is that instead of uniting in self-defense, states will expend their energies fighting other states. Every state vs. state conflict is a gift to the forces of Fourth Generation war, because the losing state will be so weakened that it may collapse and will certainly be more vulnerable. Yet this is exactly what the White House’s new grand strategy calls for. To quote a line from a favorite 17th century tavern song, “Huggle Duggle Duggle, the Devil Laughed Aloud.”

The New York Times, whose loathing for President Trump drips from every page, referred to the new grand strategic document as “Mr. Trump’s strategy”. But is it?

In his speech accompanying the paper’s release, the president said little about it. Instead of echoing its hostility toward Russia, he thanked President Putin for a call thanking our CIA for information that prevented a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. The president said, “That’s a great thing. And that is the way it’s supposed to work.” Indeed it is, in an alliance against the forces of 4GW.

As was the case with the president’s earlier speech on Afghanistan, I think we are seeing Mr. Trump say, “This isn’t the way I want to go. My instinct is to do the opposite, i.e., get out of Afghanistan and ally with Russia. But this isn’t an area I know much about so I am deferring it to my advisors.”

In the early part of the 20th century, we saw another national leader, who is now unfairly looked down upon by too many historians, repeatedly defer to his foreign policy and military advisors even though he disagreed with them. That leader was Kaiser Wilhelm II. Unfortunately for Germany, he was usually right and his advisors were wrong. Had he followed his own instincts, Austria would have taken Belgrade but then stopped after Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination; had war come anyway, Germany would not have resumed unrestricted U-boat warfare in 1917, thereby bringing in the U.S. and guaranteeing Germany’s defeat.

The price of Kaiser Wilhelm’s difference to his advisors was the end of his dynasty. The price of Washington intentionally renewing the Cold War instead of accepting the new grand strategic paradigm and building the alliance of all states it requires may be the end of the state system itself.

When Will the World End?

With the commemoration of Christ’s first Advent, the end of the calendar year and a widespread (and justified) sense that we are all walking on the edge of a precipice, an old question pops up again: when will the world end?  Many seers, prophets, and charlatans have predicted a date when the world will end, only to find themselves both relieved and disappointed.  Unlike them, I know with complete certainty when the world will end.  It will end on June 28, 1914.

Had Archduke Franz Ferdinand lived, we would almost certainly inhabit a better world.  There would have been no war; he was the leader of the peace party in Vienna.  Without the vast civilizational catastrophe that was World War I, the West would not have lost faith in itself, its culture, and religion.  Instead of cultural Marxism, we could still have Christian, conservative monarchy as the West’s leading paradigm.  I doubt the House of Hapsburg, which had twice repelled the Moslem hordes from the gates of Vienna, would have opened those gates to more than a million Islamic “refugees” (really migrants).  Interestingly, it is mostly states that were part of the Empire, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, that have the moral courage to say no to the EU’s refugee quotas.  Had the Archduke lived, there would be no Lenin, no Stalin, no Hitler, no Holocaust.  Israel might have been established as a province of the Ottoman Empire, under German and Austro-Hungarian protection; the Zionists were quite influential at the Viennese court and Kaiser Wilhelm II had a number of close Jewish friends.  Russia, which by 1910 had reached the economic takeoff point, would not have lost the 60 million people killed by Soviet Communism, the figure revealed when the Soviet archives were opened in 1989.  Economically, the Russian people might enjoy the same standard of living Americans have today, while still residing under a Christian monarch in an Orthodox country. 

Vienna was not only a political capital, it was a cultural capital as well, the rival of Paris.  While the cultural pessimism that now rules the West was already stirring, without World War I and the fall of the Empire it probably would not have become dominant.  Music, art, and architecture would still strive for beauty, not alienation (thank you Adorno). Nietzsche’s “transvaluation of all values,” where the old sins become virtues and the old virtues sins, would have remained the delusion of a syphilitic philosopher instead of the guiding rule of Western elites.  In the year 2017, a Hapsburg Vienna might well be the source of much of the world’s cultural and intellectual greatness.

Only a handful of people are left who understand how much was lost on that June day in 1914.  With those pistol shots in Sarajevo, the West put a gun to its own head and blew its brains out.  Our history since has been the twitching of a corpse.

In 1971, when doing graduate work in Vienna, I had the good fortune to meet the Empire face-to-face.  My landlady was Frau Baron von Garabedian-Elislago.  Her father was General von Krauss-Elislago, Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s aide-de-camp and favorite soldier.  She knew the Archduke and the last Emperor, Kaiser Karl.  As you entered her apartment, you saw two magnificent Renaissance chests, gifts to her father from the Archduke.  She could remember the picnics on the decks of Austrian battleships in the Adriatic. 

The good Frau Baron was lively, funny, and a window into all that was lost.  She spoke six languages fluently.  She enjoyed high culture as only a truly educated person can.  One night as we were coming out of the Burgtheater she gestured dismissively to two statues and said, “Those are the monkeys who founded the republic.”

Now, we Americans live in a country where the monkeys seem to be running everything.  Our downward spiral accelerates.  Soon, education and cultural levels will be so low that no one will be able to understand the value of a place governed by Christian monarchy and devoted to the life of the mind.  But Hapsburg Vienna was such a place.  Until, on June 28, 1914, the world ended.

The View From Olympus: Yellow Light

Those of us who supported President Trump in last year’s election because he promised a less interventionist foreign policy need to be aware of a rising danger.  Neo-con influence in the Trump administration seems to be on the increase.  Rumored high-level personnel changes could put neo-cons into key foreign policy positions.  Just as their neo-con predecessors led President George W. Bush into the disastrous Iraq war, a gift that keeps on giving, so today’s neo-cons want a war with Iran.

The obvious question is, how could anyone be so stupid?  War with Iran is a lose-lose proposition.  If the Iranians defeat us, we lose.  If we defeat them, we also lose because there is a high probability the Iranian state would disintegrate and Iran would become another stateless region.  That would be a huge victory for our real enemies, Islamic non-state entities such as Al Qaeda and ISIS that wage Fourth Generation war. 

The neo-cons refuse to see this because they are playing another game, a game driven by the misconceived interests of a foreign power.  To put it bluntly, many influential neo-cons are part and parcel of Israel’s Likud party.  Years ago, around the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, they helped Likud devise a strategy for Israel.  That strategy called for the United States to destroy every Middle Eastern state that could be a threat to Israel.  That was why the neo-cons pushed the Bush administration into war with Iraq.

Likud has largely abandoned that strategy since, because Iraq, Libya, and Syria showed them that destroying neighboring states merely creates new basis for far more dangerous enemies, Islamic 4GW forces.  Israel now works quietly with a number of Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, to prevent further state collapses in the region.

But there is one state Likud still seeks to destroy: Iran.  It needs the United states to attack Iran not only because it sees Iran as a deadly threat but because it wants a major Middle East war for cover as it solves the Palestinian problem.

While Likud and the U.S. both pretend to be working for a two-state solution to the problem of Palestine, in reality Likud wants a one-state solution.  The whole of the West Bank is to be annexed.  But unless Israel is then to have a majority Arab population, it must take the land but not the people.  The Palestinians must be pushed into Jordan.

Such an act of ethnic cleansing is impossible in peacetime.  World reaction would be disastrous to Israel.  In fact, population transfers, voluntary or compulsory, are sometimes the only way to solve otherwise intractable problems.  The Greek/Turkish population transfer after World War l is an example.  But left-wing world opinion now categorically rejects population transfers under any circumstances.  If, that is, they are visible.

Just as the Holocaust was only possible because something far larger was going on around it, to the point where it was hardly noticed, so ethnically cleansing the West Bank can only be done in the context of a much larger regional war.  There is only one such war that would be big enough to provide the necessary cover: a war with Iran.

Here is where the neo-cons come in.  Likud does not want to fight that war itself.  Israel can only reach Iran with air and missile attacks.  That kind of war is not sufficient to provide the necessary cover.  Enter the United States: unlike Israel, we could actually invade and attempt to conquer Iran.  The attempt would be folly and the result would be disaster for both us and Iran.  But with all that going on, who would notice some ethnic cleansing in the West Bank (at least until the job was done)?

If all this seems far-fetched, remember this is exactly how and why we invaded Iraq.  American neo-cons created that war in service to Likud and Likud’s strategy at that time.  Now, Likud has a different strategic objective.  But it still requires America to go to war, and some American neo-cons remain Likud’s humble and obedient servants.

President Trump’s supporters need to remind him that “America First” means exactly that.  We go to war only for our own interests, not for the interests of any foreign power or party.  No “America First” president would ever turn this country’s foreign policy over to agents of a foreign power.  He would never send American soldiers to die to provide cover for another country’s actions.  The neo-cons used a Republican president once.  Never again.

The View From Olympus: The OO Loop Problem

One of the more curious aspects of the current U.S. military is its institutionalization of failure.  We have lost four Fourth Generation conflicts: Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq (which is still very far from being a real state), and Afghanistan, where we are fighting but not winning.  In response, we keep doing more of the same, more perfecting of our ability to put firepower on targets.  If war could be reduced to that, we would be the greatest, military on earth.  But it can’t.

The custodians of failure are our generals and admirals.  The problem is not what they do but what they do not do.  They preside blandly over the status quo, terribly busy all the time but changing nothing.  They have half an OODA Loop.  They observe and orient – then observe again.  They make no decisions and take no actions, beyond those necessary to continue business as usual.  Their time is spent receiving contentless briefings and going to meetings where nothing is decided.  As one Marine three-star said to me, “If anyone tells you it’s fun being a general officer, it’s not.”

How did we end up with this equivalent of the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev years?  As with so many of our military problems, it comes back to our personnel system, specifically to the kind of people we promote.  Years ago, one of my students, an Air Force officer, discovered something interesting while researching his dissertation.  He found that the Air Force academy made all its cadets take the Meyer-Briggs Personality Inventory, and, much later in their careers, the National War College did the same.  He looked at the ISTJs, who are the bureaucrats:  data-oriented, risk averse, people who never color outside the lines.  At the Air Force Academy, they were one personality type among many.  By the War College, they were completely dominant.  Why?  Because one of their characteristics is that they only promote other ISTJs.

The result is evident in our general officers’ OO Loop.  ISTJs avoid making decisions and taking responsibility.  By promoting only other ISTJs they ensure our armed services cannot reform themselves.  All they can give us is more of the same, i.e., more of what has not worked.

The hard question is what to do about it.  Giving promotion boards instructions to promote non-ISTJs will do nothing.  They will nod, say “Thank you very much” and go on promoting other ISTJs.  They cannot do anything else.  To them, the whole creative side of war is “bullshit” and officers who are imaginative and take initiatives are threats to the culture of order ISTJs prize above all else. 

Reform must come from outside.  I do not have all the answers for fixing this problem, but I do see a couple starting points.  First, we need Joe Stalin’s “urge to purge”.  We have far more general officers than we need.  Cut their number to about 10% of their current strength and use the opportunity to get rid of lots of ISTJs.  We might have to use the Meyer-Briggs test to identify them, although it is a very imperfect instrument (and ISTJs will try to game the test). 

In the longer term, we need to make the ability to think, decide, and act militarily central to promotion (at present it counts for nothing).  The best way to do that, at least for combat units, was suggested years ago by Chris Bassford in his book The Spit-Shine Syndrome. Every year, every unit goes up against a unit of similar strength in a free play exercise.  The winner gets, say, 50 promotions to divide up within itself, the loser gets five.  This would reward the characteristics we need in field-grade and, later, general officers: an eagerness to decide and act, what the old German army called Verantwortungsfreudigkeit, “joy in taking responsibility”.  It was the characteristic it looked for in officer promotions.

These reforms would not be enough in themselves.  Our armed services need to look deep within and identify other ways to promote warfighters instead of bureaucrats.  Of course, they will not do so under their present leadership.  To them, all this is a threat, not a promise.  Nor can I see a force for serious military reform either in the current Administration or in Congress.

So we will probably continue on with half an OODA Loop until the whole system collapses.  That is coming, and it may be closer than our ISTJ generals and admirals think.

Sexual Harassment

No law is more deeply engraved in human nature than that which leads men to make advances towards women and women to flirt with men.  It was written there long before history began, before time began to be reckoned.  Why?  Because it is necessary for the perpetuation of the human race.

Today, cultural Marxism seeks to overturn this law, or at least half of it.  Women are to be allowed to do whatever they want, befitting their “victim” status in cultural Marxism’s hierarchy of saints and sinners.  But men–should one so much as look at a woman with a gleam in his eye, he is to be damned to eternal shame, cast out of public life, deprived of employment, and ordered to undergo psychological “re-education”, presumably so he can become a better person by turning gay.

All ideologies seek to outlaw one or more aspects of human nature.  Orthodox economic Marxism sought to outlaw the connection between labor and reward; people would work hard simply because they were helping to “build socialism”, not because doing so would gain them more money.  We saw how well that worked out in the Soviet economy.  As the workers and peasants there said, “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”

Past societies, including the Victorians whom we should take as our models, also disapproved of advances and flirtations.  But knowing  as they did that they were dealing with a powerful force in human nature, they sought to limit it the only way it can be limited: by keeping men and women separate.  On the occasion when young men and young women mingled, they did so under the watchful eyes of chaperones.  And if Bobby and Betty Sue were left alone for a bit on the back porch, well, it was expected he would soon propose.

Cultural Marxism, in contrast, demands in the name of “equality” that men and women be put in the closest physical proximity, sometimes, as in military situations, literally cheek to jowl.  But if the man shows the slightest awareness he is with a woman, he is condemned for “sexual harassment”. In effect, the man must play the eunuch.  We may find that politically cutting our soldiers’ nuts off is not the very best way to make them fight.  And in the civilian world as well as the armed forces, every man must live in mortal terror of a woman accusing him of the dreaded crime.  The fact that the accusation may be false, that women know they can destroy male coworkers they do not like with a simple charge of “sexual harassment”, is unimportant.  The accused has as much chance of survival as did those in Stalin’s Soviet Union who were charged with being “an enemy of the people”.

Are the cultural Marxists insane to think they can simply outlaw so basic an aspect of human nature?  Not at all.  That is not their real objective.  Unlike the old economic Marxists, who painted a rosy if impossible picture of the Communist paradise they sought to create, the intellectuals of the Frankfurt School who created cultural Marxism offered no positive alternative vision.  Their sole purpose, in their own words, was “negation”, or “negative dialectics” – simply bringing everything down.  They were nihilists.  And if your goal is ripping your society apart, there is no better way to do it than to outlaw basic aspects of human nature and punish anyone who transgresses by acting human.  That is what cultural Marxism does on every aspect of identity; religious, ethnic, sexual, you name it.  Any normal human behavior, and especially any male behavior, is to be punished.

Both here and in Europe, the reaction against cultural Marxism is building.  Goaded beyond endurance, normal men and women are rebelling.  They are rejecting cultural Marxism’s “experiments against reality”, to borrow Roger Kimball’s apt phrase.

The cultural Marxists love denouncing any opponents as “fascists”.  Fascism has been dead for more than 70 years.  But cultural Marxism may well create a groundswell of opposition from the right that will take new and different forms.  If that is the only way to put a stop to the endless war on men, Whites, and Christians, let it come.

Changing the Context

As President Trump knows well, he has not been very successful in getting the measures he wants through Congress.  One way to improve his chances of doing so is to change the context.

Relations with Russia provide an example.  The president knows our hostility towards Russia makes no sense.  Communism has fallen, we have no interests that should lead us to oppose Russia and Russia is resuming her 19th century role as the most conservative of the great powers.  Russia should be our ally, not our enemy. 

The Washington establishment wants a hostile relationship with Russia because it is still thinking in the context of a world of states in conflict.  Any other powerful state (including China) that does not bow to American hegemony must be seen as an enemy.  The purpose of all the clucking and squawking about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is to scare the administration away from improving relations with Moscow.  Unfortunately, that trick seems to be working. 

But what if the administration responded by changing the context?  President Trump could easily explain to the American people that the real threat we face is not any other state (except perhaps North Korea) but “terrorism” (really 4GW) from non-state entities, of which ISIS is only one.  To beat the terrorists, we need an alliance with Russia and China, because they are the other two great powers.  In fact, that alliance would only be the beginning.  We should work with Moscow and Beijing to create an alliance of all states against violent non-state entities.  If we want a relatively peaceful, ordered, and safe 21st century, that is what we have to do.    

The public can understand that logic.  And with it, they can see why we need good relations with Russia.  President Putin has suggested several times that Russia and America work together against terrorism.  Once the people see past the obsolete conflict among states and accept the new context created by 4GW, the establishment is left high and dry.  Its desire for a hostile relationship with Russia will be perceived as senseless, as it is.  In the new context, the president’s preferred policy can move forward.

      Another area where the President could change the context to his advantage is the fight against Political Correctness.  Most of the public has come to hate Political Correctness and its attempts to play censor, telling us what words we may or may not use and what thoughts we may and may not think.  Part of the reason Mr. Trump was elected was because he rejected and attacked Political Correctness, as he has continued to do.

But his efforts to combat it would be far more powerful if he explained to the American people that Political Correctness is really Cultural Marxism, Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms.  Once the Left and its endless cries of “racism, sexism, and homophobia” are exposed as a form of Marxism, their legitimacy will crumble.  People know that other varieties of Marxism killed tens of millions in the 20th century.  They see that “PC,” cultural Marxism, is equally tyrannical on college campuses where it has taken control.  If President Trump changed the context of the cultural debate from “social justice” to “cultural Marxism,” he would sweep the Left from the board.

Every time Trump changes the context of the political debate on an issue, he will open the door to creating the new, enduring coalition of the anti-establishment Right and elements from the antiestablishment Left (i.e., Sanders voters) that should be the conservatives’ goal.  It is difficult or impossible to get voters to change sides in the current political trench warfare.  But if you move the debate out of the trench lines by putting it in a new context, the battlefield becomes much more fluid.  New alignments become possible.  And the agenda President Trump campaigned on can win.

The View From Olympus: The Hezbollah Model Wins

When we think of ISIS’s enemies, we usually list religions other than Islam, Islamics who reject Sunni puritanism, local states, Western states and so on.  But from the perspective of Fourth Generation war theory, ISIS’s most important competition may be with Hezbollah.  These two Islamic Fourth Generation entities represent two different models of 4GW.  Hezbollah’s model hollows out the state where it is based but leaves it standing.  The ISIS model does away with the state and creates a replacement in the form of a caliphate, which is a pre-state type of government.  (Ironically, the ultra-puritan ISIS proclaimed a caliphate that, under Islamic law, is illegitimate, because the legitimate caliph is still the head of the house of Osman; the Ottoman sultan was also a caliph). 

The competition between these two approaches to Fourth Generation war is ending, and the verdict is clear: the Hezbollah model wins.  This does not come as a great surprise, except possibly to ISIS.  By seizing territory and proclaiming a caliphate, ISIS opened itself up to defeat by state militaries.  Those state militaries could fight the way they are trained and equipped to, in a war of firepower and attrition where the goal is to seize and hold ground.  Whenever 4GW forces take on state armed forces in that kind of fight, they are likely to lose.  They are pitting their physical weakness against their opponents’ greatest strength, which lies in the tactical/physical box on the grid.  (For the grid, see the Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook.)

In contrast, the Hezbollah model uses a hollowed-out state to shift the conflict away from the tactical/physical box to 4GW entities’ greatest strength, the box marked strategic/moral (Col. John Boyd argued this is the most powerful box, while the tactical/physical box is the weakest in determining the ultimate outcome.)  The Lebanese state protects Hezbollah strategically and morally because it is impossible to attack Hezbollah’s base without also attacking the nominally sovereign state of Lebanon.  Because the international ruling elite regards attacks on other states, especially weak states that themselves pose no threat, as morally wrong, the attacker quickly finds himself condemned and isolated.  This, more than Hezbollah’s tactical strength, is why ((((((((((Our Greatest Ally))))))))))’s attempts to attack Hezbollah on Lebanese soil have resulted in defeat, although Hezbollah is much better tactically than most other 4GW entities.

ISIS may now attempt to revert to the Hezbollah model, but I think it is unlikely to succeed.  That model requires years of patient development and serving rather than oppressing the local population, and I doubt ISIS is capable of either.  The fall of its illegitimate caliphate will erode its ability to recruit and to secure funding, and like Al Qaeda it will become a wraith of its former self. 

But just at this point of success the West’s inability to understand Fourth Generation war will set it up again for failure.  Western governments fall into the trap of defining their enemies as this or that particular 4GW bogeyman:  al Qaeda or ISIS or Hamas or whatever.  In doing so, they miss the forest for the trees.  4GW entities, Islamic or otherwise, come and go.  Each particular entity matters relatively little.  What matters is that they can generate themselves endlessly so long as we miss the real threat, in the form of the ground from which they all spring.  That ground is the crisis of legitimacy of the state.  As Martin van Creveld said to me many years ago, everyone can see it except the people in the capital cities.

The origin of the crisis of legitimacy, in turn, is the emptying the state of its content, something the Globalist elite demands.  This “internationalist” view has been dominant among the global elite since the end of World War I, and you cannot now dissent from it and remain a member of the elite.    That is why the elite so fears and loathes President Trump, who represents the return of state sovereignty – and with it a resurgent legitimacy of the state.  Such a resurgence is the only thing that can defeat not this or that 4GW entity, but 4GW itself at the decisive strategic/moral level. 

Does this make 4GW and the Globalist elite de facto allies?  Draw your own conclusion.

The View From Olympus: The North Korean Threat to China

America’s fixation on the threat from North Korea’s missiles and nuclear weapons evinces the usual American dive into the weeds.  If we instead stand back a bit and look at the strategic picture, we quickly see that the North Korean threat to China is far greater than its threat to us.

North Korea is unlikely to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.  However, if North Korea retains its nuclear weapons, it is likely to lead South Korea, Japan, and possibly Taiwan, Australia and Vietnam to go nuclear themselves.  From the Chinese perspective, that would be a strategic catastrophe. 

China has never sought world domination, nor is it likely to do so.  Its distaste for barbarians, who include everyone not Chinese, is such that it wants to maintain its distance from them.  However, maintaining that distance requires a buffer zone around China, which historically China has sought and is seeking again now.

At present, the main obstacle to creating that buffer zone of semi-independent client states is the United States.  That is a strategic blunder on our part.  Such a buffer zone is no threat to the U.S. or to its vital interests.

However, China knows American power is waning and the American people are tired of meaningless wars on the other side of the world.  Despite America, China’s influence on the states in her proximity is rising.  She can afford to be patient.

In contrast, if the states on China’s periphery get nuclear weapons, her quest to dominate them is permanently blocked.  An American presence is no longer required to balk her ambitions.  Even weak states such as Vietnam can stop her cold if they have nukes.  Her border states, instead of serving as a buffer, become dangerous threats sitting right on her frontiers.  Even if she should defeat one of them, the damage she would suffer in a nuclear exchange would knock her out of the ranks of the great powers and might cause her to come apart internally, which is the Chinese leadership’s greatest fear because it has so often happened throughout her history. 

President Trump will soon be visiting China.  If he and those around him ask the all-important question, “What would Bismarck do?”, they should be able to motivate China to finally do what is necessary with North Korea, namely give it an offer it cannot refuse.

The script runs roughly like this.  President Trump makes the case about the need to restrain North Korea’s nuclear program.  Instead of threatening trade or other measures if China refuses, he simply says, “If North Korea retains its nukes and delivery systems, we can no longer advise our allies in Asia not to go nuclear.  We will of course regret such nuclear proliferation, but we will also understand why they have to develop their own nuclear weapons.  In some cases, we may find it necessary to assist them with delivery systems such as missile-equipped submarines.  Of course, nuclear weapons in the hands of our allies are not a threat to the United States.”  He need not add that they will be a threat to China.

Nation’s foreign policies are not motivated by other nation’s needs.  Beijing does not care about the threat North Korean nukes pose to the U.S.  But nations are motivated by their own interests, and if we put North Korea’s nukes in this context, the context of the strategic threat reactions to them pose to China, that is a different kettle of fish.

In turn, we need to remember Bismarck’s dictum that politics is the art of the possible.  North Korea is unlikely to give up all its nuclear weapons.  However, at the demand of Beijing, Pyongyang can probably be brought to limiting their number and the range of their delivery systems.  Beijing could also offer to put an anti-missile system such as the Russians’ S-400 on North Korea’s border to shoot down any South Korean first strike.  North Korea could still use its few nukes to deter an American first strike, even if they could not reach beyond South Korea.

Are the Pentagon, State Department, and White House capable of Bismarckian Realpolitik? President Trump’s own instincts lead him that way.  Whether his administration can follow is open to doubt.

President Trump’s Fateful Choice

President Trump ran as a Republican, but he did not win as a Republican.  He won as a populist.  If he is to be a successful president and win re-election, he needs to make a fateful choice: will he govern as a populist or as a Republican?  If he chooses the latter, he will fail.

Unfortunately, the president seems to be leaning more and more towards governing as a Republican.  The tax reform proposal he recently offered is classic Republican:  it may benefit the middle class indirectly by creating more jobs, but its direct beneficiaries are high-income people.  One simple change would transform it into a populist measure: a high tax rate, say 75%, on earned incomes over $1,000,000 annually (indexed for inflation).  The people who elected Mr. Trump would cheer.

On the vexing problem of health insurance, the president’s latest action, cutting government subsidies to insurance companies to subsidize low income people, may hurt Trump voters.  Many of his supporters have modest incomes. They are not Republicans with money to burn.  The populist answer to health care is Medicare for all, with Medicare’s ability to control prices.  The origin of the health care affordability problem is grossly excessive prices for anything labelled “medical”. Any policy that does not deal with those prices is a band-aid.

In foreign and defense policy, Trump voters do not want more unnecessary wars halfway around the world that kill our kids and waste our money.  That is the populist position: America first.  If we are attacked, we fight, but why should young Americans die in the centuries-old war between Sunni and Shiite Islamics?  Here again, President Trump seems to be governing as a Republican, not a populist.  Continuing the futile war in Afghanistan, re-involving ourselves on the ground in Iraq, putting “advisors” in Syria, spooling up the long-standing and strategically meaningless war of words with North Korea—none of this is populist.  It all comes from the playbook of Republicans such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who cannot stand the thought that there is a quarrel somewhere in the world in which the U.S. is not involved.

I suspect President Trump knows the Republicans have taken over his administration and pushed the populism that elected him to the side.  Unfortunately, he seems not to know what to do about it.  There are sources of ideas and people from which he could assemble a different, populist-conservative agenda and set of advisors.  I write for one of them, The American Conservative magazine.

What the Republicans in and around the White House do not understand, in addition to the bankruptcy of the Republican “we serve the rich” agenda, is that populism is the wave of the future, both here and in Europe and on the Left as well as the Right.  Establishment Republicans and Democrats alike fear populism.  But to a president elected because he was seen as a populist, the populist wave of the future is one he should seek to ride.  If not President Trump then someone else will combine the Trump and Sanders voters into a new, enduring political majority that will shape America’s future agenda.  In the end, it is not President Trump or Senator Sanders who is important.  It is the people who voted for both.