What the President Should Have Said

The failure of President Trump’s attempt to coerce the Democratic House of Representatives into funding the border wall was inevitable.  The Democrat’s strategy requires open borders.  That strategy, about which the Left has been quite open, is to swamp the votes of native-born Americans in a sea of immigrant votes.  The Democrats will not support measures that contradict their strategic requirements.

The president’s failure was turned into something of a rout by his attempt to couple the border wall to funding the government.  While the president’s base was not directly hurt by the shut-down, many of his supporters identified with the middle-class wage-earners who were not getting paid.  When those people began going off the job in order to get part-time work to pay the bills, the consequences, such as disruptions to air travel, forced the president to capitulate.  He was defeated, and his threat to shut down the government again in a few weeks would merely bring another defeat.

Here is where a curious characteristic of the Trump Administration again came to the fore.  All presidents suffer legislative defeats.  Previous president’s have had staffs that helped them minimize their failures by spinning them in creative ways.  As an old saying goes, politics is showbiz for ugly people.  Just as in Hollywood, the top people in Washington have had dozens of flacks, image-shapers, and spinmeisters who know how to put lipstick on a pig, wrap it in swaddling clothes and present it as Little Orphan Annie.

But President Trump does not.  He was left twisting slowly in the wind, by himself, able to call only on his own resources (which fortunately are considerable).  The result not only hurt him, it cost him an opportunity to hurt his enemies.

Let us imagine I had received a telegram from the White House, delivered by Western Union messenger riding a bicycle, requesting me to draft some remarks for the president for the occasion.  Here’s what I would have him say:

Once again, the Left-wingers who run the Democratic Party have refused to defend America and its citizens from invasion.  They demand that we leave our southern border open to anyone who wants to cross.  Millions of people have come here illegally across the border and the Democrats want millions more to do so.

The American people need to understand why the Democrats want open borders.  It is not because they want to be nice to little children.  The Democrats have a strategy for taking and keeping power in this country.  That strategy is to flood the country with immigrants whom they will register to vote, whether they are legal or illegal immigrants.  They expect those immigrants to vote Democratic so they can swamp the votes of native-born Americans in a sea of immigrant votes.  They plan to make every American a stranger in his own country.  They want to make foreigners the real rulers through a corrupted ballot box.

I know the Democrats in the House will not vote to fund the border defenses we need.  They are not going to vote to undermine their strategy for taking power.

Therefore, I will tomorrow meet with the Chairman and Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  I will give them a direct order to secure our southern border.  I will leave it up to them how best to do that.

I want to use our military to defend America and its citizens, not fight wars half-way across the world for reasons that are far from clear.  To those who may object to using the military, I ask you, what are our armed forces for if not to protect us from invasion?  Invasions by whole peoples are what brought down the Roman empire.  I will not allow such invasions to destroy us the same way.

I have not declared a national emergency because I do not need to do so and because I think it would set a bad precedent, a precedent other presidents could use in the future to harm this country rather than defend it.  As Commander-in-Chief I can give an order to the U.S. military without declaring an emergency, and that is what I will do.

The government shut-down made it clear the Democrats would rather deprive hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans of their paychecks than secure our southern border.  Now, we will pay those hard-working people and secure the border.  

I call that a win.

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

His Majesty’s Birthday, or, Look Who’s Back

Having been to Hell and back last year with His Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm II, my reporting senior, I was by no means certain what might result this year from my annual call to congratulate him on his birthday, January 27.  The British had again been fooling around with our transatlantic cables, so I decided to go “hi-tech”, using Telefunken’s new wireless telegraphy to Potsdam via the big sender at Nauen.  I was surprised when, seemingly not getting through, my telephone rang.  On the other end was His Majesty.

“You got through all right, never fear.  The Russians were supposed to jam our signals to and from Nauen, but we sent them a trainload of vodka and they’re still sleeping it off.  London is leaving our phone lines alone now, after we dropped ten tons of Leberkäse on them in a zeppelin raid.  I’ve heard they are shipping most of it to Scotland where the locals take it for fois gras, or so Dr. Johnson told me.”

“Dr. Johnson can always be relied on when it comes to the Scotts, Your Majesty,” I replied.  “And happy birthday.”

“Thank you, and it is a happy one, for reasons you will soon understand.  It looks as if I will soon be going home.”

That puzzled me.  I went to Doorn, in the Netherlands, this summer, to see where Kaiser Wilhelm lived in exile and where he is entombed.  I know his will specified that he is not to be returned to Germany until that country is again a monarchy.  Could that day be near at hand?

“You’ll see it all plain enough from L-70.  Look for us from your front yard three days hence,” His Majesty said.  “Be ready for some high-altitude flying.”

L-70 was one of our “height-climber” Zeppelins that could rise up to 26,000 feet.  I had heard it was not a pleasant experience, since they were neither pressurized nor heated.  As it happened, I had heard right.

It’s hard missing a Zeppelin hovering low over a Cleveland street, and three days later His Majesty welcomed me on board.  We dropped a couple tons of water ballast, set the elevators for climbing and rose with remarkable rapidity.  No English aeroplane could win a climbing contest with a Zeppelin.

Long before 26,000 feet I was gasping and puking.  The bottled oxygen reduced the former but increased the latter.  His Majesty gave me a hearty slap on the back and told me to buck up.  We hit 26,000 and kept rising.

“Good God, how high is this thing going?” I asked dejectedly.

“High enough to see the future,” His Majesty replied.  At that, I passed out.

When I came to, all was well again.  We were cruising about 500 feet above the beautiful German countryside.  Every town seemed to be staging some sort of political rally or civic event.  Change was in the air.

“What’s going on?” I asked the Kaiser.  

“Some very interesting politics,” he replied.  “Let me fill you in.  The rise of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AFD) party gave Germans a truly German party.  But the broader growth of what has been termed “populism” in Germany and elsewhere didn’t stop there.  The AFD was a normal, respectable party.  But to its right soon arose something less respectable.  Calling itself the Nationale Deutsche Abiturlose Partei (NDAP), roughly the “National German Party for People Without Degrees,” this party hearkened back not to my Second Reich but to the Third.”

“The NDAP didn’t amount to much until it found a leader,” the Kaiser continued.  “He was an entertainer, a man of uncertain origins who called himself Adolf Hitler, looked like Hitler and seemingly never stepped out of his role.  Like the man he impersonated, he was a highly effective speaker and organizer and a man with a powerful, I would say unstoppable, will to power.”

“It’s a Look Who’s Back scenario!” I said excitedly.

“Yes, indeed, it was Er Ist Wieder Da.  And it had to be stopped.  As a Hohenzollern, the last thing I wanted was to see was Germany again led by an Austrian corporal, first as tragedy and then as farce.”

“So on the night before Christmas, I paid a visit to my descendent Georg Friedrich, the present head of the House of Hohenzollern and rightful King of Prussia and German Kaiser.”

“Did Mr. Dickens perhaps suggest this course?” I asked.

“I recalled it from when I had read Dickens,” His Majesty replied.  “But he was delighted.”

“Anyway, I told Georg Friedrich in no uncertain terms to get off his backside and stop this nonsense, as I would have stopped the Nazis if I had still been Kaiser.  You can thank Woodrow Wilson that I wasn’t.”

“The worst American President ever,” I added.  “He gave the world both Stalin and Hitler.”

“He did, but I wasn’t about to let it happen again.  I told Georg Friedrich to go talk to the AFD.  They needed to shore up their right flank and he was the man to do it.”

“Anyway, he took my advice as Mr. Scrooge took Marley’s and as a result the AFD made Georg Friedrich its leader and he won.  This time, the Left had the sense to back the legitimate ruler instead of leaving the door open for you know who.  In truth, Ebert never wanted me to go.”

“And now Germans have come to their senses and are today rallying and celebrating because the restoration of the monarchy is before the Reichstag and everyone except the NDAP is for it.  Which means I will finally be going home.  And Prussia is back on the map!”

“It seems I have much more to congratulate Your Majesty on this year than another birthday,” I offered.  “I hope this won’t mean we lose our connection.”

“Not at all, my friend, not at all,” the Kaiser assured me.  “I’ve already asked the Garde du Corps to admit you to its mess.”

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

Liberal Democracy is a Contradiction

The November 2 New York Times carried an article titled “What is Pulling Liberal Democracy Apart?”  The article itself was the usual drivel, but the title stuck with me.  The Establishment really does not understand why its definition of “liberal democracy” is failing. Yet the answer is obvious: “liberal” now contradicts “democracy”.

This was not always true.  When “liberal” retained its historic meaning as broad-minded, generous, and tolerant, desirous of a free market both in economics and in ideas, it was at least compatible with democracy, although there were tensions.  As a look at classical Athens quickly shows, democracy often went in distinctly illiberal directions.  Cleon was a product of democracy, just as much as Pericles, and it was not a monarch who ordered Socrates to drink the hemlock.  Nonetheless, in America and Britain, from the mid-19th century onward the old liberalism and democracy got along reasonably well.

Why is that no longer the case?  Why, in country after country, does the Left find democracy leading to governments (Trump, Orban, Putin) and measures (Brexit, keeping out migrants) liberals abhor?  Because the old liberalism is dead.  It died in the 1960s when the New Left took its arguments to the extreme, turned them against the old-line liberals and destroyed them morally by pointing out their contradictions.  I watched that happen at Dartmouth College in the late 1960s when I was a student there.  All the liberals who ran the college could do when the SDS threw their own arguments (always qualified, in the liberals’ minds, by common sense) back in their faces was to stammer and yield.

Herbert Marcuse provided the intellectual foundations of the New Left by feeding them the Frankfurt School’s cultural Marxism, carefully pureed into baby food.  Cultural Marxism became the ideology of the Boomer generation, and it remains today that generation’s definition of liberalism.  It is, in the old sense of the word, thoroughly illiberal: intolerant, ungenerous, narrow-minded, loathing free markets of all kinds, especially a free market in ideas.  Just look at any campus where cultural Marxism rules, which seems to be most of them.  Anyone who dares question feminism, “gay rights”, “equality” in any of its manifestations, is soon in serious trouble.  All must bow and scrape before the “general line of the Party”.

That “liberalism”, liberalism re-defined as cultural Marxism, is inherently contradictory to democracy.  Why?  Because normal people reject the swill.  Ordinary Whites don’t apologize for being White or regard themselves as “oppressors”.  Reasonable men and women recognize the sexes are not interchangeable.  While most people are willing to tolerate homosexuality, they reject a demand to approve of it, and they think discretion is the tribute vice of all sorts should pay to virtue.

The cultural Marxists have sought to deal with a widespread and growing democratic rejection of their ideology by subverting democracy.  They have done so by trying to keep any alternatives to themselves off the ballots.  For a long while, both here and in Europe, they succeeded.

But that trick has run its course.  People now see through “conservatism” such as that of too many Republicans here, the Conservative Party in Britain, the CDU in Germany and so on.  A “conservatism” that will not fight cultural Marxism, as those parties will not, is no conservatism at all.  So real conservative candidates and parties, candidates and parties that reject the whole Establishment and its ideology, are now getting on ballots and, where they do so, winning elections.  When ordinary people are not allowed a truly democratic choice, they vote against today’s liberalism and for their historic faith, culture, and race.  What a surprise!

And so the Left is now caught in a contradiction of its own making, a contradiction between its ideology of cultural Marxism, labelled “liberalism” or “progressivism”, and its promotion of democracy.  It can have one or the other, but not both.  At present, it cannot choose.  Eventually it will, and its choice will be to extinguish democracy and forbid people to vote for anything but more cultural Marxism.  If we get to that point it will mean war.

You can safely bet this was not the analysis the New York Times provided its readers on what is pulling liberal democracy apart.

Kirsten Gillibrand’s #MeToo Origin Story

With the announcement of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s 2020 Presidential bid, the field of candidates for the Democratic Party continues to expand in all directions. Senator Gillibrand, who served shortly from 2006 to 2008 in her state’s 20th Congressional district before ascending to the New York Senate seat left vacant by Hillary Clinton’s selection for Secretary of State in the Obama administration, will undoubtedly have her hands full against a star-studded cast vying for the chance to engage in mortal combat with President Trump in 2020.

Winning election in 2006 in traditionally center-Right upstate New York, Senator Gillibrand entered the political stage conforming to her constituents. As reported by TAC in 2009, her campaign came out against amnesty and illegal immigration, sounded off for fiscal restraint and responsibility, and even held the line on gun rights. Today, however, the same cannot be said of her initial political persuasions. Her race to wokeness has been nothing short of alarming, or depending on who you ask, inspiring. Consider a Tweet from December 4th that generated significant buzz, the Senator declaring “The future is: Female, Intersectional, Powered by our belief in one another. And we are just getting started.” 

While diving into her past political contradictions is a worthy project, one position she has held resolutely over the last decade has been with respect to sexual assault and the #MeToo movement. Beginning around summer 2017, the #MeToo movement rose quickly into the national spotlight, snaring high level figures in Hollywood like Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, politicians like Al Franken, and even funnymen like Louis C.K. But unbeknownst to the average civilian, the #MeToo movement has been festering in the military for quite a few years, with military men of all ranks fighting like lions to save their names and careers, and Senator Gillibrand has been leading the charge since her first days as a Senator.

Her work began as a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, introducing the Military Justice improvement Act (S1752) in 2013 and then, after it failed to gain traction, again in 2014. What was the gist of these bills? After sorting through the mountains of data her office rolls out, and arcane language the military is now intimately familiar with like restricted and unrestricted reporting and retaliation, the Senator’s main point of contention was this: adjudication authority. From her 2014 Bases Report, the “military system allows a commander, who could be in the direct chain of command of the accused and have minimal legal or criminal behavior expertise, to decide whether or not to prosecute.” And from her bill, the “reform moves the decision over whether to prosecute serious crimes to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors.”

What is the logic behind these bills and is it a sound, accurate depiction of how the military justice system operates? As Senator Gillibrand notes, there is a large disconnect between accusations of sexual misconduct and one, those that go to a trial for prosecution, and two, convictions for those cases which have their day in court. For example, in the 2014 Bases Report, which analyzed 329 cases across four major military installations, “just 22% of the 329 cases went to trial. Of those, only about 10% of these 329 sexual assault suspects were convicted of a sexual assault crime.” Note the language of the report. Just 22%, only 10%. It’s almost as if the report is insinuating that to be accused of sexual misconduct implies guilt of sexual misconduct. Sound familiar? 

And digging further into the 2012 Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) report, there were a total of 26,000 estimated cases of Unwanted Sexual Contact (USC) across the Pentagon. This estimation was calculated by analyzing the results of the 2012 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members (WGRA). USC can range from inappropriate touching all the way up to and including rape. Gillibrand’s Senate page highlights that this represents around 6% of the female force and 1.2% of the male force. Not wanting to blaspheme the #MeToo gospel mystery that only women are victims and only men are guilty, Gillibrand omitted what the Washington Times noted concerning the 2012 SAPRO report. With an active duty male force of 1.2 million men and 200,000 women, these stats translate to 14,000 men and 12,000 women being victims of USC. Also in the 2012 report, which consists of hundreds of pages of slides and pie charts, only 3,374 total reports were filed, 302 went to trial, and of those 238 were convicted of a crime. So Senator Gillibrand’s reasoning is if there are so many allegations but few reports and almost no convictions, surely something must be wrong with the military justice system, which must be altered. The goal is results, convictions, to hell with due process.

Gillibrand is correct that military judges are not the ones making the adjudication decision, a yea or nay, it rests with military commanders, whose occupational training focuses on something outside of law like infantry, logistics, or aviation. She claims that only military judges should decide, not those untrained in legal matters. In the Marines when a command is gathering information and evidence for a sexual misconduct case, the O-6 or Colonel level commander decides whether to adjudicate a case. The decision is made with the advice and counsel of Marine lawyers known as Judge Advocate Generals, or JAGs, who also review and examine the preliminary findings. Gillibrand is under the delusion that a Marine pilot or infantry officer, ignorant of criminal law, is single handedly reviewing and deciding the fate of thousands of sexual assault cases. This would indeed be troubling, but her summary of the issue is a gross misrepresentation of the truth. These commanders draw on the advice and recommendation of military lawyers who have reviewed the cases, and then they decide. Why is there such a disconnect between accusations and adjudication and conviction then? Well, as in any criminal case, evidence is required. Without witnesses, corroboration, a he-said-she-said case cannot expect to survive in court. As noted above, of the 302 cases in 2012 that did receive a trial, 238 were convicted of a crime, indicating that a strong majority of cases referred for prosecution were legally sound. 

Of all the blessings of English law bestowed upon our country by our Founding Fathers, surely one of the most sacred and underappreciated is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If you are accused of a crime–any crime–your character, your employment, your personal life, and your good name should be left completely intact until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And well before the national soap opera of Kavanaugh v. Ford, countless other military men were starring in similar movies to defend their names. Men like Major Mark Thompson, an instructor at the Naval Academy, who in 2013 was found not guilty of sexual assault, guilty of five lesser offenses such as conduct unbecoming an officer and fraternization, only to have all the charges dropped at a subsequent military board of inquiry that was initially setup to discharge him from the service entirely. Or consider the case of Trent Cromartie, a West Point cadet who was charged with sexual assault of a fellow cadet, found not guilty, but then expelled anyway, his military career evaporating before his eyes. What about these men’s lives? Does anyone care for their situation?

Senator Gillibrand never misses the chance to voice her outrage at this “crisis”, and more recently she publicly flayed the Commandant of the Marine Corps over a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service. All allegations of USC should be taken seriously, because it is a serious matter. But should she and her fellow justice warriors really be surprised that allegations of USC are higher in the military compared to the civilian world? After all, in her book Off the Sidelines, she reminisces about her time in an all-girls high school, “as for boys, I was distracted enough just thinking about them.” Do readers really need reminded of the differences between the male and female sexes when it comes to hormones? The military recruits young, usually single, aggressive men to fight and win the country’s wars. If you think you can mix those men among a similar age group of women and expect saintly conduct you are naïve, especially when recruits are drawn from a culture that encourages sexual liberation. Or as General Mattis said in 2015, “when you mix arrows, and you mix affection for one another that could be manifested sexually, I don’t care where you go (in) history, you will not find where this has worked”. But then again, progressives usually aren’t fans of history, the hypothetical future is where they always look for answers.

The military has been watching the #MeToo movie for several years but with the crucifixion of Brett Kavanaugh, an inflection point has been reached. And now the boomerang is coming back. As Senator Gillibrand said during the Kavanaugh hearings in reference to Christine Blasely Ford, “I believe her.” That’s all well and good, one can believe in God, but belief isn’t evidence, and belief isn’t proof. And in English law, thank God, evidence and proof are required. The Presidential candidacy of Senator Gillibrand will be a public trial for the #MeToo movement, and hopefully the populace will bring the gavel down forcefully against this movement for the good names it has so shamelessly attacked and defamed in its race for “justice”.

Read Jeff Groom’s satirical memoir about his time in the Marine Corps: American Cobra Pilot: A Marine Remembers a Dog and Pony Show.

The View From Olympus: Helping the Infantry

Although former Marine General James Mattis proved a disappointment as Secretary of Defense, he began one initiative that deserves to continue.  Called the Close Combat Lethality Task Force (CCLTF), this joint Army-Marine Corps program is aimed at improving the effectiveness and survivability of the men who do most of the dying in combat, the infantry. Such an effort is long overdue and deserves substantial funding, as Secretary Mattis intended.

However, as presently conceived the CCLTF has some problems. They begin with a misplaced focus on improving squad lethality.  Lethality and effectiveness are not the same thing. In maneuver warfare, including maneuver tactics at the small unit level, most of the enemy end up prisoners, not dead or wounded. Modern, i.e. Third Generation, tactics are not “close with and destroy”, much less “ bombard and attrit”. Rather, as demonstrated by the German infantry in 1918, they are tactics intended to “bypass and collapse”.  If you are constantly appearing in your enemy’s rear and encircling him, he tends to give up.

From this perspective, I found it dismaying that none of the papers I have seen about the CCLTF have discussed the first requirement for helping our infantry, namely modernizing our infantry tactics and training. Modern tactics means at the very least adopting the “infiltration tactics” of the German infantry of 1918. Ideally, we should go beyond those tactics and adopt their more developed form, Jaeger or true light infantry tactics (what the U.S. Army and Marine Corps call “light infantry” lacks the Jaeger tactical repertoire and is really line infantry). Training must be in the new tactics, not the obsolete Second Generation tactics we now employ where the infantry’s main task is to call in remote fires. 

That points to another problem in the CCLTF’s current approach: it places little emphasis on expanding opportunities for free-play training. While techniques and procedures can be taught in “canned” exercises, tactics can only be practiced in a free-play environment where the enemy can do whatever he wants to defeat you. At present, neither U.S. Army soldiers nor U.S. Marines get that much if any free-play training. Changing that should be one of the CCLTF’s highest priorities.

Rightly, the CCLTF is not emphasizing new equipment; better tactics and training are more important. But the CCLTF can and should sponsor an experiment with one piece of equipment most of our enemies have and our infantry does not, the RPG. I have asked combat-experienced Marine commanders at the tactical levels whether our infantry is at a disadvantage in Afghanistan because we lack the RPG, and most have said yes. If we look at Fourth Generation, non-state fighters around the world, we see many if not most carry an RPG.  It would not be difficult or expensive to design and run a test where we put an infantry squad or platoon through a series of problems, once with their current equipment and once with that equipment augmented with RPGs, one for each man (with reloads). If the RPGs make an important difference, they are inexpensive and widely available. We could equip our infantry with them in a very short time.

The CCLTF is also correct in emphasizing the need for changes in the personnel system so our infantry units can become and remain cohesive. Unit cohesion is the basis for why men fight: they fight for their buddies. But cohesion requires one thing the CCLTF dares not discuss (but I can): that infantry and other combat units be all-male. If women are present, the men will not cohere because they will view each other as rivals for the favors of the women. In combat, they will drop the mission to protect the women. This is human nature, and human nature is always more powerful than ideology, including feminist ideology. Combat is the ultimate “real world,” and in the real world all ideologies fail.

As important as Secretary Mattis’s CCLTF initiative is, the regrettable fact is that with his departure, the planned funding is likely to be cut or vanish entirely. If that happens, it may still be possible to help the infantry with a “bottom up” effort. Recently, some company-grade Marine officers and SNCOs has informed me about the Warfighting Society, a group within the Marine Corps modeled on Scharnhorst’s Militarische Gesellschaft. It would be both appropriate and useful if the Warfighting Society would do as Scharnhorst and his colleagues did and take on the problem of helping the infantry.  What the system cannot do without lots of money, thinking individuals can do.  Anyone wanting to participate can contact the Warfighting Society here

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

The View From Olympus: The Pentagon Declares Bankruptcy

According to the December 28 New York Times, the Pentagon has finally made its moral and intellectual bankruptcy official.  With regard to our failed war in Afghanistan, the Times reported that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., said that the Taliban “are not losing.”  The general is correct.  The Taliban are not losing because they have won.  All that remains is working out the details of their assumption of power and our departure.  To his credit, President Trump recognizes that reality.

But merely presiding over our defeat is apparently not enough for General Dunford.  In a truly breathtaking admission of strategic incompetence and intellectual bankruptcy, the general went on to say according to the Times,

“If someone has a better idea than we have right now, which is to support the Afghans and put pressure on the terrorist groups in the region, I’m certainly open to dialogue on that,” General Dunford said at a panel sponsored by The Washington Post earlier this month.

Wow. I doubt Moltke Jr. or even Keitel, whom the Fuehrer described as having the mind of a hotel doorman, sank that low.  Has General Dunford considered asking the chairwoman who cleans his office? Perhaps he could talk to his milkman or egg lady.  Certainly his driver should be consulted; after all he has some idea where he is going, which general Dunford, after sixteen years of war and several thousand American dead, admittedly does not.  In the long annals of military incompetence that’s still one for the history books. Clio should award General Dunford the Golden Trash Can, First Class, with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.

Let us imagine, for a moment, that we are a Prussian officer sent to advise General Dunford on how to turn a lost war around (That’s what happens when you fart at the dinner table on board the Hohenzollern).  Taking the General’s statement quoted above as a description of his strategy, we see that “supporting the Afghans” has no meaning because it is a war of Afghans against Afghans.  As to “putting pressure on the terrorist groups”, “terrorists” simply means “the other side” and “pressure” means tactical pinpricks with no strategic impact.  It is seldom possible to reverse strategic failure at the tactical level, and kleckern, nicht klotzen is a prescription for failure at all levels of war.

So to begin we need to shift our focus to a strategic level. I suspect even General Dunford knows that the Taliban’s strategic center of gravity is its support by Pakistan. Take that away, and the Taliban is walking on air. How might that be done?  Recognize that so long as the current Afghan government is aligned with India, Pakistan has no choice but to support the Taliban.  Pakistan’s threat is India, and Pakistan needs Afghanistan as an ally to offer it some strategic depth. Above all, it cannot have a hostile Afghanistan putting Pakistan in a two-front situation. So our first step is to give the current Afghan government a (secret, not public) ultimatum: cut all ties to India and become a loyal and subservient ally of Pakistan.  If they won’t, our troops and money go home. The money, more than the troops, will concentrate their thinking.

When the Taliban sees this move and realizes the strategic threat it represents, offer them a peace that secures our limited objective while rewarding them.  Our objective going into Afghanistan was to deprive Al Qaeda of a base.  We have no quarrel with the Taliban per se.  So, we offer to recognize a Taliban-led Afghanistan as long as they do not invite back groups that seek to attack the American homeland.  Al Qaeda have worn out its welcome in Afghanistan before 9/11 and it now has more useful bases in other countries.  Plus, the Taliban is already fighting ISIS within Afghanistan. As part of a peace deal, we could offer to support the Taliban in that fight, not with troops but with the all-important ammunition in 4GW, money.

I doubt General Dunford will be willing to heed Prussian advice.  But if he’s asking the whole world for input, he might recall that these services send their best and brightest young officers to serve the members of The Joint Chiefs of Staff.  As Chairman, he is well within his rights to say to those young officers, many who will have served in Afghanistan, what he said on the Post’s panel: if you’ve got better ideas than what we are now doing, please share them with me.  I suspect he would to get some useful feedback, perhaps along the lines I’ve outlined here.

Or he could just ask the chairwoman. Even she is likely to come up with something better than doing more of what has not worked in sixteen years.

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

The Close Combat Lethality Task Force

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has created a “Close Combat Lethality Task Force” to fix problems with U.S. infantry forces.  The vast majority of these forces are found in the Army and Marine Corps.  Many of the task force’s ideas are encapsulated in a book by Major General Bob Scales, U.S. Army (Retired), called Scales on War.  In this book, General Scales calls for a comprehensive program to improve the lethality of U.S. infantry.  

The fundamental problem is that Scales has misunderstood the changes occurring in modern war.  Scales’ thoughts on past changes in war are muddled.  While he vaguely mentions changes in war as a result of societal changes, he provides a framework broken into “epochs”, each of which is defined by technological changes.  This leads naturally into a solution in which technology plays a central role.

Unfortunately, technology is neither the problem nor the answer.  If it were, the United States would not have difficulty defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan (as just one example).  War has changed and we are now facing Fourth Generation adversaries.  This change in war is based not on technology, but on who fights and what they fight for (as Martin Van Creveld has argued).  The truth is the U.S. military is poorly adapted to fighting Fourth Generation wars, where “lethality” can be disadvantageous.  Nowhere in Scales’ book does he demonstrate any understanding of this.

Scales also confuses tactics with strategy.  Scales believes American military ineffectiveness can be attributed to poorly trained infantry.  The solution is equally simple: provide massive resources to improve training and equipment and victory will be assured.  

This is a serious misunderstanding of what has gone wrong in U. S. military involvements since World War II.  American infantry can certainly benefit from better selection and training, but this will not cure the strategic disease which is crippling the U.S. military establishment.  One can have legions of the most effective and efficient killers the world has ever seen and still lose a war with poor strategy.

The United States has committed troops to poorly defined, poorly understood, and unwinnable conflicts yet demanded victory.  Senior military leaders who are little more than bureaucrats in uniform and lack either military sense or the ability to speak truth to power seem to do little more than nod when asked if the military can accomplish the mission.  The result in Vietnam was a disaster.  Although U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is still ongoing, after nearly 18 years and 16 years respectively, can anyone seriously believe victory is still possible?

In advocating improved infantry, Scales provides a tactical solution to an operational and strategic problem.  He does not understand that in war, results at a higher level trump those at a lower level.  Back in 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recognized that the United States could not kill or capture its way to victory in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Scales does not understand this.

Scales believes strategic victory can be won by stacking up tactical victories (and enemy bodies).  Unfortunately, war does not always work this way and this method has entirely failed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Whether the Close Combat Lethality Task Force ultimately achieves anything other than spending a lot of money remains to be seen.  What is beyond question is that even if the program is wildly successful and the effectiveness of American infantry increases dramatically, until we gain a better understanding of Fourth Generation war, increased body counts will not improve our military’s ability to win wars.  If General Scales is providing a roadmap for our military, we are likely going in the wrong direction.