The View From Olympus: The Women Problem (Again)

Once again, the armed services are engulfed in a “scandal” involving female service members. Beginning in the Marine Corps and now spreading to the rest of the services, it involves servicemen passing around pictures of servicewomen in various states of undress. It all sounds quaintly Edwardian, yet the services’ leadership, terrified of appearing politically incorrect, will treat it like a second Rape of the Sabines. Why they remain frightened of political correctness, a.k.a. cultural Marxism, when they have a commander-in-chief who was elected in part because he defied and rejected PC, I do not know. It might help if President Trump asked to see the pictures.

Such “scandals” are certain to rise again and again so long as official policy insists on ignoring human nature. For the purpose of continuing the species, that nature decrees young men will take the initiative in seeking sex with young women. They will climb every mountain, slog through any swamp, and break all regulations to do so. King Canute knew he could not command the tide; he tried to do so only to show his courtiers he could not overrule the forces of nature. DOD’s leadership, along with too many politicians, apparently believe they can.

Generations of human history, as far back as you want to go, tell us there is only one way to keep young men from hitting on young women: keep them physically separate. That is what we did with the WAVES, WACS, etc. of World War II. The women’s barracks were not only off limits; they were under armed guard. Of course, at that time young women knew they were the objects of men’s desires. Most of them welcomed the fact as useful in finding a husband.

So why do we attempt the impossible, mixing young men and young women cheek-by-jowl while saying, “Now now, no hanky-panky, boys?” It is part of feminism’s (and cultural Marxism’s) war on men. More specifically it is an attempt to destroy the male culture of our armed services. That is the same thing as destroying the services themselves, because any military that does not have an aggressively male culture will not fight. It will come apart at the first touch of real war.

Here’s how the game works. First, mix young men and young women in intimate situations (our submarines now have women in their crews). Then, empower the women over the men by allowing them to charge men with “sexual harassment” for any reason or no reason at all (giving a woman an order she does not like is often cause enough). Then, rip the man away from his chain of command, put him under a commissar system (with all the commissars loyal cultural Marxists) and presume him guilty until proven innocent. Faced with this, the kind of men who want to fight–who are a rare and precious resource in any military–first become discipline problems, then get out. Many of them will go on to find other ways to fight. The rest of the men either hate their lives or–what the feminists want–accustom themselves to being ruled by women.

Why this game is allowed to continue under a Trump administration I do not understand. Probably it has not yet come to the president’s attention; perhaps the latest scandal will prove helpful in that regard. Secretary Mattis surely understands that armed services must have a male culture if they are to fight. Is he merely going to sit back and let the cultural Marxists launch their latest assault on our servicemen?

Again, if we want to have women in our armed services–which is overall a mistake, beyond limited, non-deployable clerical and medical roles–we have a model for doing so, the way we did it in World War II. Was there still some bunga-bunga back then? Of course. But it was presumed women knew how to say “no”, and men were not punished for showing sexual interest in women. That was considered, on the whole, preferable to the alternative. It is only in a world gone mad that our armed services welcome gays while sending men who dare show an attraction to the women around them on their way to the gulag.

The View From Olympus: What it Takes to Win

Last month, President Trump took an important first step toward ending our military’s string of defeats by Fourth Generation opponents: he acknowledged we have lost. The president said, according to the February 28 New York Times,

We have to start winning wars again. I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. We never lost a war, remember? And now we never win a war. We never win. And don’t fight to win. We don’t fight to win. We’ve either got to win or don’t fight at all.

Unfortunately, the president followed this important realization with a measure that will do nothing to improve our chances of winning. He increased the defense budget by $54 billion. This is a classic case of doing more of the same and expecting a different result.

If one thing should be obvious about our defeats by Fourth Generation opponents, it is that they did not outspend us. America’s total defense spending, as measured by the Budget Committee’s “National Defense Function”, is about a trillion dollars a year. Hezbollah, Somali warlords, Iraqi militias, and the Taliban have budgets in the millions of dollars, at most. If we graphed their spending and ours on the same scale, theirs would not be visible. But we still lost.

I’m sure President Trump is aware he knows little about militaries. It is logical he would therefore rely heavily on his advisors. But General Flynn, whose departure I think a loss to the country, understood the real problem. Before his military retirement, he testified to Congress that our weakness is that we are fighting Fourth Generation wars and we have a Second Generation military. Secretary of Defense Mattis is very well-read in military history and theory. Surely he recognizes that more money, a quantitative solution, will not fix qualitative problems such as outdated doctrine, over-officering, and institutional cultures that range from merely dysfunctional to downright poisonous (the Army and Air Force).

To win, we need military reform. The agenda laid out by the military reform movement of the 1980s remains largely valid. It begins by setting priorities straight: to win wars, people are most important, ideas come second, and hardware is a distant third. Current policy inverts that pyramid, with hardware (and the budgets it justifies) first and the other two hardly visible.

Putting people first means reforms such as promoting different kinds of men (more leaders and risk-takers, fewer ass-kissers and bureaucrats), reducing the number of officers above the company grades by at least 50%, getting rid of the horde of civil servants and contractors that now clutter up our armed services, ending all-0r-nothing retirement vesting at 20 years (which undermines moral courage), abolishing the up-or-out promotion system (which forces officers to be careerists), and revamping both officer and enlisted personnel policies to create cohesive units with long-term personnel stability. A curse that has fallen on our armed services since the 1980s must also be lifted: get women out of the combat units and out of any roles in which combat might find them. The way we incorporated women in World War II offers a workable model for current policy.

In terms of ideas, we need to move our doctrine from the Second to the Third Generation: from dumping firepower on opponents in a contest of attrition to maneuver warfare. Maneuver warfare must, however, be real doctrine, what our Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen actually do, not just words on paper. Nor is that enough: once we have institutionalized the culture of maneuver warfare, with its outward focus on combat results, we must tackle the difficult intellectual challenge posed by 4GW. That will be a long-term effort, because 4GW is itself evolving in a process likely to take most of this century.

In hardware, good design normally yields simplicity, not complexity. Weapons’ designs must be based on combat history, not the self-interested claims of technology hucksters. We must remember that most complex systems have simple counters and that automated systems cannot deal with situations not envisioned by their designers (who are engineers, not soldiers). All major weapons should be chosen by competitive flyoffs and shootoffs and none should be produced until they have passed operational testing and evaluation.

None of this is new. But it is what Secretary Mattis needs to do if he is to give President Trump what he wants: a military that wins. Absent reform, $54 billion just digs the hole we’re in a little deeper.

The View From Olympus: The Big Question

The big question about the new Trump administration is whether its foreign policy will reflect President Trump’s views or long-standing Establishment positions. It is too early to offer a firm answer, but early indications are worrying.

The past several weeks have seen senior administration officials traveling the world, offering reassurances to our (mostly worthless) allies that no policy changes are coming. We will continue to be committed to war with China over the Japanese Senkaku islands, which are uninhabited; war with Russia over the Baltic states (which Russia is unlikely to attack); and, most worrying, to continued confrontation with Russia for no reason in particular.

The latter is the central point. President Trump, during and after his campaign, made establishing good relations with Russia the key to his foreign policy. He was correct to do so. If we are to have a  foreign policy for the 21st, not the 20th, century, it must begin with an alliance first with Russia, then with China. This alliance needs to be directed against not any other state, but violent non-state Fourth Generation entities. This new Triple Alliance, in turn, should serve as the basis for an alliance of all states with the goal of preserving the state system against Fourth Generation challenges.

President Trump has yet to articulate this grand strategy. But he has tried to lay the basis for it by ending our hostility toward Russia. That is the sine qua non. Without an American-Russian alliance, the rest of the strategy is impossible.

Yet President Trump’s officials are sending a contrary message. We will continue to regard Russia as an opponent, they tell NATO, the EU, and Japan. With the latter, they add the same message about China, compounding the move away from the Triple Alliance we need.

What does President Trump do about this? Anything? What he needs to do is gather his senior national security officials, make it clear to them that he wants an alliance with Russia and China and that he expects them to work to that end. If they will not, there’s the door. They are free to resign.

The senior officials are counting on the fact that the establishment would scream bloody murder if they left. But it is going to do that anyway whenever the president moves away from the Establishment’s preferred policies. That does not hurt his relationship with his base. In fact, it strengthens it. Were President Trump to model his future behavior on Mother Teresa the Establishment would still pour vitriol on him because it simply hates his guts. It hates him because he is not one of them.

To put the big question another way, President Trump must decide whether he will rule or merely reign. The former means he makes the key decisions and expects his subordinates to carry them out. In the latter case, he spouts off whenever he feels like it, but everyone learns to ignore it and continue with business as usual. In foreign policy and defense, nothing changes, and what we do becomes more and more irrelevant to the world we face. To his credit, President Trump appears to want to rule in domestic policy. But whether that is true in foreign policy, and specifically in grand strategy, is much less clear. He needs to make it clear, soon.

The View From Olympus: How to Prevent 4GW in America

Low-level Fourth Generation war has been underway in the U.S. for some time, largely in the form of gang activities. That is likely to continue, as will occasional terrorist incidents. This low-level warfare is a problem, but it does not threaten the state.

However, the Left’s reaction to the election of Donald Trump as president points to a far more dangerous kind of 4GW on our own soil. Trump’s election signified, among other things, a direct rejection of the Left’s ideology of cultural Marxism, which condemns Whites, men, family-oriented women, conservative blacks, straights, etc. as inherently evil. Not surprisingly, those people finally rebelled against political correctness and elected someone who represents them.

That is how our system is supposed to work. But the Left only accepts the results of democracy when they win. A rejection of cultural Marxism is, to them, illegitimate. Hence we continue to see not just the hard Left but the whole Establishment howl with hatred, loathing, and contempt directed toward President Trump and those who elected him. Establishment organs such as the New York Times drip venom from every page. The Times last week went so far as to devote and entire op ed to attacking the way the president ties his necktie!

This reaction will not intimidate the people who voted for President Trump. On the contrary, it increases their motivation. Their victory in November showed them they can win. They do not have to lie passive as the Left heaps manure on them. Having won once, they intend to win again and again and again.

The upshot is that we now have a country with two incompatible cultures. One is our traditional, Western, Christian culture. The other is the counter-culture of the 1960s, which was and remains largely a culture of instant gratification. The cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School created that counter-culture and still provides its ideological justification. As currently structured, our political system is not able to create a situation where these two hostile cultures can live together. That means we are headed toward large-scale 4GW on our own soil and probably a failure of the American state.

This is not an outcome any conservative, or anyone with a shred of prudence, can desire. We only need look at places like Syria to see why.

Fortunately, our political system has a latent component which, if activated, could enable our two cultures to live together in one American state. That latent component is federalism.

The authors and ratifiers of our Constitution never imagined that life would be the same in all states. In their time, life in Massachusetts or New York was very different from life in Virginia or South Carolina. Had they been told the government they were creating would use all its power to force life to become the same in every state, they would have been appalled. We would have remained a confederation.

That earlier federalism can be revived. The federal government can allow states once again to be different. In some states, such as Massachusetts or California, the counter-culture and cultural Marxism will be the norm. In other states like Ohio or Alabama the old culture will prevail. Individual Americans can move to a state that reflects their preferred culture. But all states will still be part of one country, united for foreign affairs, defense, and commerce.

The red/blue map of the last election, when shown by county, raises a further possible federalism. Donald Trump carried more than 90% of all counties. The cultural Marxists and their beneficiaries are concentrated in the big cities.

We might therefore want to introduce something very old: free cities. Hard Leftist cities–Portland, Oregon for example–in culturally traditional states might be allowed to secede from their state and become a free city. They would belong to no state. They would not be represented in the U.S. Senate, but could elect members of the House. Given their high population density, this would tend to create red Senates and blue Houses. In a country where federal government efforts to impose one or the other culture are likely to lead toward break-up, the inability to get extreme measures through both houses of Congress might be a good thing.

Both approaches to federalism would require Constitutional amendments. But if traditionalists and cultural Marxists can agree that large-scale Fourth Generation war on American soil is a bad thing, they should be able to cooperate on passing such amendments. However much we disagree on political, cultural, and moral questions, we do share a common interest in avoiding war in our common home.

The View From Olympus: A Memo for President Trump

To: President Donald Trump

From: W.S. Lind

Re: Your request for a plan to defeat ISIS

You have requested a plan to defeat ISIS. Here is one. It begins with the highest level of war and works downward, because a higher level trumps a lower level. Too often in the past, the U.S. has ignored the higher levels, focusing simply on killing enemy fighters and taking ground. It then loses, but cannot understand why it lost. The approach recommended here does not repeat that mistake. It begins at the top, with grand strategy.

    • Our grand strategy should be to create an alliance of all states against violent non-state forces. Such an alliance must begin by bringing together the three real Great Powers, Russia, China, and the United States. From that perspective, ISIS is an opportunity more than a problem. China is not likely to participate, but a campaign to destroy ISIS can draw in Russia, moving us toward our grand strategic goal. More, it must draw in Russia, as an equal, if the campaign is to succeed. As we will see below, there are areas where we need Russia to take the lead, with the U.S. in a supporting role. Thanks to your good relationship with President Putin, this should be possible.
    • At the strategic level, we cannot destroy ISIS through military action alone. Military pressure alone is likely to bring the various elements within ISIS together, where our strategy should be to pull them apart. That is possible, because ISIS is an unstable and unnatural coalition between Islamists and high-level Baathists from Saddam Hussein’s government and security services. The religious crazies provide the front men and the cannon fodder, but ISIS is run by the Baath. Only the Baath can make things work; break the coalition and the Islamists become wraiths.

To reach the Baathists inside ISIS, who are rational men with whom deals can be made, we need Russia to take the lead. Virtually all leading Baathists trained in the Soviet Union and Russia retains ties to many of them. The deal we should offer is to recognize a new country, Sunnistan, made up of Sunni-populated areas in western Iraq and eastern Syria, and to accept that it will be led by the Baath. In return, the Baathists will cut the throats of the Islamists, something they will do with considerable enthusiasm. Their alliance is one of necessity only.

  • At the level of operational art (a long-time Russian specialty), we need to encircle Raqqa, ISIS’s capital. The purpose is to put the Baathists on notice that time is not on their side and to show we are ready to move quickly to support them if they accept the deal we offer. Here again we need Russia to take the lead. The U.S. military sees campaigns in terms of linear wars of attrition, not encirclement. Even if that were to succeed against ISIS, it would be indecisive, because it would just push them out the back door. The campaign should be commanded by a Russian general with a combined Russian-American staff where Russians serve in the top intelligence (J-2) and operations (J-3) billets.

On the ground, the U.S. should offer a small, highly mobile force suited to battles of encirclement. This is not something the U.S. military is prepared to provide, but it can be cobbled together from units we have. All combat vehicles should be wheeled, not tracked, LAVs (Marine Corps) and Strykers (Army). The force should not be larger than 10,000 men, most of them fighters, with sea-based logistics. The choice of commanders from battalion level on up will be of critical importance. We have very few officers who can do maneuver warfare. If the key billets go to typical process-followers, we will fail. It must also be made clear to all American commanders that they will take orders from Russians.

  • Tactics should not offer much of a challenge. Our force will not attempt to take urban areas aginst serious opposition. Once Raqqa is encircled, local militias can both man the lines of encirclement and, if it should be necessary, take defended urban areas. They will also deal with captured Islamists once our force, its mission done, leaves. The goal should be to get in and out in ninety days.

There you have it, Mr. President. No plan guarantees success, but this plan at least offers a chance of a decisive result, which more bombing and more advisors do not. Perhaps it is time to stop doing more of the same thing and expecting a different result.

The View From Olympus: His Majesty’s Birthday

January 27 is the birthday of Germany’s last legitimate ruler and my reporting senior, Kaiser Wilhelm II. As usual, I placed a telephone call to him to offer my congratulations. I am never quite sure where I am going to find the Reisekaiser; this year I reached him at Wilhelmshafen, the main base of the High Seas Fleet.

After offering my best wishes for his birthday, I asked, “What brings you to Wilhelmshafen this time?”

“Well, I do like the town’s name,” he replied. “Now that I think of it, I should order that the main seaport in all of Germany’s colonies be named Wilhelmshafen. I’ll instruct my ambassadors to suggest to other colonial powers that they do the same. I’m sure they will be delighted at the idea.”

“No doubt,” I replied. “We in the American republic now have a president who likes to put his name on things. Do you see any other similarities between him and your Imperial self?”

“Quite a few, actually,” replied the Kaiser. “I made Germany great, and he will make America great again, so long as he follows one rule: don’t go to war.”

“But I haven’t answered your question,” His Majesty continued. “I’m here for the simultaneous commissioning of twenty ships!”

“If they are battleships and battle cruisers, I hope there are some Mackensens among them,” I ventured.

“Not a one,” the Kaiser said. “They are all transports.”

“Why does his majesty find transports of interest, if I may be so bold?” I inquired.

“Because they will be used in the greatest amphibious operation of all time,” the Kaiser said.

“The enterprise of England?” I asked.

“No, although Philip II still wants to give that another go,” His Majesty replied. “These ships, and others like them building in all the shipyards of Europe, will carry out Operation Charles Martel: the expulsion of all the Moslems from Europe! The commander will be none other than Don Juan de Austria, the victor of Lepanto, come to save Christendom from the Turk a second time.”

“Just how will this work?” I asked.

Mit Eisen und Blut!” replied the Kaiser. “We will round them up, put them on transports and, in a single wave, land them somewhere on the coast of North Africa. The High Seas Fleet and the Grand Fleet will jointly provide gunfire support, if it’s needed. The Mackensens you love will chime in, have no fear!”

“But how is sad, beaten down, gutless Europe ever going to bring itself to do something like this?” I asked plaintively.

“Have you been sleeping at your telegraph key?” the Kaiser replied. “The tide has turned. The filthy Jacobinism that has ruled Europe since 1918 is on the run. President Trump’s election has given Europeans who still believe in Faith and Fatherland hope. Marine le Pen, France’s new Joan of Arc, will be its next president. All over Europe, people are remembering who they are. There is joy in heaven, let me tell you. Christendom’s armies are on the march again!”

“I cannot help but wonder if Your Majesty is caught in a bit of a contradiction here,” I said hesitantly. “When you were on the German throne, you allied with the Ottoman Empire. You visited Moslem countries and were quite friendly to Islam.”

“You are correct,” His Majesty answered. “But I was friendly to Islam in Islam’s portion of the globe. I would show the same friendship if I were in charge of Berlin today. But I would not be an idiot like Merkel and invite them to take over Germany and Europe.”

“You are, I take it, no admirer of the current chancellor?” I suggested.

“No woman has done more to prove I was right when I said women are for children, the kitchen, and the church. She has inflicted on Germany more damage than any chancellor since Adolf Hitler, flooding the Fatherland with a million Arabs, most of them Islamics. Germany was a safe and well ordered country. Now, all Germans have to be afraid on their own streets. Were I still Kaiser, I’d sell her to the Grand Vizier’s harem.”

“I think Your Majesty is right: the tide has turned. Might it turn so strongly that Germany again has a monarch, and your mortal remains can be returned home from the Netherlands?” I asked.

“I will answer your question with another question: did not even the dumbest Hohenzollern give Germany better government than the CDU and SPD provide now? And with that I must be off to the General Staff’s railway mobilization planning office. We will soon be moving a million people to Germany’s ports, and the trains must run on time.”

The View From Olympus: Maneuver Warfare and Navies

The debate in this country about maneuver warfare has centered on the Army and the Marine Corps, not the Navy. (It influenced the Air Force through John Boyd and Pierre Sprey, especially in the development and procurement of the A-10; for a recent look at air power and maneuver warfare, see the K.u.K. Marine Corps Air Cooperation Field Manual, available here. That traces to the origin of the debate, in my critique of the 1976 version of the Army’s basic Field Manual, FM 100-5. The fact that, of all the U.S. armed services, it was the Marine Corps that showed most interest in the concept kept the focus on land warfare. History also played a role: maneuver warfare as we now know it was developed by and institutionalized in the Prussian/German Army between 1807 and 1945.

But it did not start there. It started in the Royal Navy in the second half of the eighteenth century. Years ago, I asked John Lehman when he thought it began, and his answer was when George Anson became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1751. Anson, who led a round-the-world raid on the Spanish in 1740-1744, taking the Manila Galleon, certainly had the characteristics maneuver warfare seeks in a leader.

Another British admiral, I think, did more than Anson to promote the outward focus maneuver warfare demands. That Admiral was the Hon. John Byng, who, on March 17, 1757, following his court martial, was shot by a firing squad on the quarterdeck of H.M.S. Monarch. Of critical importance, Byng was executed not for what he did, but what he didn’t do. The charge against him was that, in action in command of a British fleet fighting the French off the Mediterranean island of Minorca, Byng had not done his utmost. By punishing with death a sin of omission, not commission, the Royal Navy created a bias for action in its officers that, by the time of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, had largely institutionalized what we know as maneuver warfare: outward focus on decisive results rather than inward focus on rules, orders, etc.; valuing initiative over obedience; decentralizing decision-making and depending on self more than imposed discipline. As Voltaire famously wrote, “Sometimes the British shoot an admiral to encourage the others.”

All this seemingly ancient history may have a new relevance in the U.S. Navy. The current PACFLEET commander, Admiral Scott Swift, is doing his utmost to promote the culture of maneuver warfare among his commanders. Driven by a probably accurate concern that, in a naval war with China (which God forbid) our communications will quickly be taken down, he is attempting to drive decision-making down and accustom his fleet to mission-type orders. He appears to grasp the fact that, as Marine Corps General Mike Myatt puts it, “Maneuver warfare is not centralized decision-making and decentralized execution. It is centralized vision and decentralized decision-making.”

If there is one book I could recommend to Admiral Swift, it would be Andrew Gordon’s The Rules of the Game. This very readable volume tells the story of how and why, in the 19th century, the Royal Navy lost the culture of maneuver warfare and focused inward again. At the heart of the matter lay signaling; improved signaling gave fleet commanders the illusion that they could at all times control the actions of every ship in their fleet. And so they did. Gordon does not rest content with history; he relates that 19th century experience to what navies are doing today, as billions of dollars spent on communication equipment again creates the illusion of perfect centralized control.

I wish there were a book I could recommend to Admiral Swift on the development of maneuver warfare in the Royal Navy in the eighteenth century. Sadly, no such book exists. I had lunch with Andrew Gordon a few years ago at the Royal Navy’s Maritime Warfare Centre near Portsmouth, England, which was previously the Allies’ D-Day headquarters. I told him I wanted to write that prequel to his book. He replied that unfortunately, the source material does not exist because the Royal Navy officers who were making it happen were not writing it down. Historians are restricted almost entirely to written sources. If there are none, the history cannot be written.

But it happened, and we know it happened because it was a basis of Britain’s vast naval superiority over the French Navy 1792-1815. That superiority had not previously existed; had the French Royal Navy not been qualitatively equal to the British during the American Revolution, the Queen’s governor general would probably still be sitting in our capital of Philadelphia.

So fair winds and following seas to Admiral Swift. He has a large task ahead of him. But it has been done, it did work, and what has been done once can be done again. Though we will perhaps need to shoot an admiral pour encourager les autres.

The View From Olympus: Korea and the Art of the Deal

As North Korea inches its way toward possessing an ICBM than can hit the United States with a nuclear warhead–both of dubious reliability–we can expect a Korean “crisis” to grow. In fact, there need be no crisis. A deal with North Korea is not difficult to envision, and America now has a president who is good at making deals.

The conventional wisdom presents North Korea as a rogue state ruled by a madman, Kim Jong Un. He, and it, are irrational, dangerous, and impossible to predict. Sanctions having failed, we must pile up more sanctions. There is no alternative to growing hostility between North Korea and the U.S., a course which is likely at some point to lead to war. In the meantime, we must keep thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea, a country far stronger than North Korea.

But there is another way to look at the situation, one that sees continuity rather than irrationality in North Korean policy. For centuries, Korea, then one country, was known as the “Hermit Kingdom”. Like Japan under the last Shogunate, Korea was closed to foreigners, trade, and all outside contact. Its government, a monarchy, was centralized, powerful, and all-controlling. An “ideology” of sorts, Confucianism, was the only tolerated way of thinking. The king was regarded as semi-divine.

From this perspective, today’s North Korea is merely an extension of historic Korea. The Kims are a new dynasty, behaving very much like the old dynasty. North Korea’s legitimacy is rooted in this continuity; it is South Korea, not North Korea, that is a historic anomaly.

North Korea’s stress on military power, including obtaining nuclear weapons and delivery systems, is defensive, not offensive, in motivation. If you want to wall yourself off from the rest of the world, you had better be strong militarily. Otherwise, you can expect a visit from Commodore Perry’s Black Ships.

If we can accept today’s North Korea as normal Korea, a deal ending the risk of another Korean war is not difficult to envision. South Korea is able to defend itself against conventional attack. The U.S. keeps South Korea under its nuclear umbrella but pulls out its ground and air forces. The U.S. and North Korea establish normal diplomatic relations. Negotiations begin to formally end the Korean War; at present, there is no peace treaty, just an armistice.

North Korea remains an unofficial nuclear power, like Israel. The North Korean government knows perfectly well that if they shot a nuclear missile at the United States, one that would probably blow up in flight or suffer a warhead failure, North Korea and the Kim dynasty would be obliterated. If they doubted that under President Obama, they will not doubt it under President Trump.

The U.S., South Korea, and the world would accept North Korea’s right to be the Hermit Kingdom. There would be no attempts to suck it into the Globalist Empire. Should it wish to join the alliance of all states against violent non-state entities, it would be welcome.

Should North Korea wish to go further in opening itself to the world, a serious effort at reunification of South and North Korea could be possible. Obviously, the South Koreans do not want to rejoin the Hermit Kingdom. A reunited Korea would be modeled, economically and politically, on South Korea.

But there could be one interesting twist: what if Korea reunified under a constitutional monarchy, with North Korea’s Kim dynasty on the throne? The king would not have much political power, but he would have all the honors due a head of state. Might the Kims like having all the fun without the work of ruling?

That might seem far-fetched. But in the art of the deal, no potential sweetener should go unexplored. Korea offers a situation where all parties need a deal. The U.S. now has a president who knows how to make deals. Can we imagine President Trump flying into Pyongyang to put an end to the North Korean threat? I can, and I suspect he can too.

The View From Olympus: On Intelligence

The Establishment’s latest hissy-fit over Donald Trump was sparked by his questioning of some assessments by the U.S. intelligence community (CIA, DIA, NSA, etc.). According to the Establishment, a president or other decision-maker must regard intelligence as hard fact. To do otherwise is to create a “crisis”. The January 6 New York Times hyperventilated on its front page,

Mr. Trump will have to say whether he accepts the agencies’ basic findings on the Russian role [in the U.S. election]–or hold to his previous contention that inept, politicized American spies have gotten the perpetrator of the hacking wrong. That would throw the intelligence agencies into a crisis of credibility and status with few, if any, precedents.

In fact, President-elect Trump’s doubts about the accuracy of our intelligence shows that he understands intel better than does the New York Times. Put simply, intel is never hard data. It is always a “best guess”, and history is littered with cases where it has been wrong.

The nature of intelligence is such that it is always incomplete. In any given situation, you do not know how incomplete it is. Further, some of it is always wrong, and you, the user, cannot know how much is wrong or what portions are wrong. Far from being hard data, intelligence is the world seen through a glass, darkly.

Obviously, the degree of incompleteness and the extent of intel’s error vary widely from case to case. If you have broken the other sides’ codes, your intel is probably more accurate than it otherwise would be–unless your opponent has realized you’ve broken his codes and is feeding you false information. But even when we were reading the traffic protected by the Germans’ Enigma machine in World War II, the Ardennes offensive of December, 1944 caught us completely by surprise. Suspecting we were reading their mail, the Germans kept their planning off the Enigma network. As is often the case, over-confidence in our own intelligence set us up to be surprised.

Intel is always incomplete and some of it is always wrong because of its nature. Gaining intelligence is a competitive action against a thinking opponent who tries to deceive you. Unless he is a complete moron, he sometimes succeeds. He either causes you to miss something entirely, or he fools you into believing something that is not so. His goal can be either making you uncertain, or making you certain but wrong; the latter is deception, which is hard to achieve but has big pay-offs.

As if all this were not enough to make intelligence a very squishy product, you next must consider the problem of bias. All intelligence agencies have biases, and those biases shape their findings. U.S. intelligence agencies are strongly biased toward telling a president what he wants to hear. Remember, the “findings” that Russia tried to elect Donald Trump were made under a president who sees Russia as an adversary. Then, the agencies are biased toward inflating the threat, because that supports their claim on more resources. Finally, their internal factionalism, such as the division between humint guys and photo interpreters, also creates biases and “filters” that distort findings.

If you put this all together, you realize that a president who is skeptical about intelligence products is probably going to be better anchored in reality than a president who accepts what the intel community hands him. If he is a clever president, he will develop his own sources of information beyond what the system gives him. Were I President Trump, I would read the Financial Times over breakfast every morning. When trying to figure out what is happening in places such as the Middle East, I might even pick up the phone to my good friend Vladimir and ask him, “So what are your intel folks telling you about this one?”

Admiral Rickover said, “You have to use the chain of command to pass your orders downward, but anyone who relies on the chain of command for his information is a fool.” As President-elect Trump has repeatedly demonstrated, he is no fool.

The View From Olympus: Is the Marine Corps Waking Up?

From the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, the U.S. Marine Corps established itself as the leading service intellectually. The ultimate outcome was the adoption by the Corps of a new doctrine of maneuver warfare, which occurred in 1989. The driving agent of change was the Marine Corps Commandant at that time, General Al Gray.

The Marine Corps’ intellectual endeavors paid large dividends. Not only did the Corps get a modern doctrine, its awakening drew strong support from Capitol Hill, the press, and the general public. I was Hill staff at the time, and the Corp’s clout in Congress was the envy of every other service.

Then, after General Gray left the Commandancy, the Marine Corps went to sleep. The doctrine remained words on paper. Few efforts were made to align what the Corps did with what it said. The result today is a Marine Corps that can talk about maneuver warfare but, aside from a few islands created by individual commanders, cannot fight as a maneuver doctrine recommends. Like the U.S. Army, it just puts firepower on targets and expects that magically to yield victory. Against Fourth Generation opponents, it guarantees defeat.

When General Robert B. Neller became Commandant earlier this year, no one expected any change in this situation. Neller was virtually unknown. To everyone’s surprise, he asked the question, “Are we really doing maneuver warfare? I’m not sure we are.” More, he has gone on to encourage others in the Corps to ask the same question. It is beginning to look as if the Marine Corps is waking up.

Where this will lead is anyone’s guess. But with the Commandant’s encouragement the Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command (T&E) at Quantico sponsored a conference in late October to address the question, “Are we doing maneuver warfare?” I was there, along with John Schmitt, the author of FMFM/MCDP 1, Warfighting; Bruce Gudmundsson, author of Stormtroop Tactics, the definitive history of the development of maneuver warfare in the German Army in World War I; and Marines ranking from corporal to brigadier. Unusually, the conference was run on a civilian-clothes, no-ranks basis, which led to everyone speaking up. Even more unusually, instead of the self-congratulations that are the norm in American armed services, the critiques offered were brutally frank. Not one person said the Marine Corps has institutionalized maneuver warfare. On the contrary, the conference concluded Marines can talk about maneuver warfare but they cannot do it.

The slides from the briefing produced by T&E that summarizes the conference’s finding are attached below. Great credit is due to T&E for not sanitizing the report. A few recommendations fell out, including making the Training & Readiness manual at the discretion of the battalion commander (at present it reduces both to dog training while leaving the battalion no time for free-play exercises), but most of what was discussed made it.

The question lies squarely on General Neller’s desk. As I saw in the Al Gray years, change will only occur if the Commandant drives it.