The Way Forward

For those of us on the Right who long despaired for the future of our country, Donald Trump offered an unlikely ray of hope. He defied cultural Marxism, a.k.a. “political correctness”. He promised to end the flooding of our country with foreigners and the export of its middle-income jobs. He rejected Wilsonianism and its endless wars for endless peace. In short, he promised to give us our country back.

That hope is now gone. The Establishment has launched a double envelopment of President Trump that shows every sign of succeeding. On the one hand, it has taken over his administration from the inside, giving us the usual policies of the Republican Establishment. On the other hand, it is drowning the president in a flood of mostly phony charges intended to drive him from office. Either way, it wins, and real conservatives are left with no voice and no hope in the political system. The most important lesson of the Trump presidency may be that reform through the system is impossible.

Where do we go from here? On issues such as foreign policy, trade policy, and immigration, we may be able to do little beyond wait for the disasters inherent in Establishment policy to unfold, then move in to pick up the pieces. Whether the state can survive such a monumental failure is an open question.

But on the most important issue, culture, there is a way forward. That way is Retroculture.

Retroculture is a call to revive old ways of thinking and living, with an emphasis on the latter. The basic lesson of America’s history since the 1960s is that the old ways worked and the new ways don’t. It does not require a great intellectual leap from that fact to wanting to live once again in the old ways, many of which had their origins in the Victorian period.

For millennia, when a society found itself decaying and declining, it turned back and attempted to revive a past when life was better. The Renaissance and the Reformation are both examples. The result was not an exact recreation of the past, but by drawing on the past these attempts have at least sometimes brought about a new synthesis that was an improvement.

At present, Retroculture is only a word and an idea. If we are to save and restore our country, it needs to become a movement. It will not be a political movement, aimed at gaining power in Washington and changing laws. That way has failed. Rather, a Retroculture movement will be individuals, families, and perhaps in time whole communities changing how they live. That is far more powerful than politics.

There is an obvious parallel between Retroculture and Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option”. The difference is that Retroculture is secular. Because religious faith and worship were of central importance in the lives of our ancestors–just look at the churches they built–Retroculture will tend to lead people toward religion. But they can join a Retroculture movement on purely secular grounds, i.e., wanting to create a better life for themselves and their families by doing what works.

A Retroculture movement is a central theme in Thomas Hobbes’ novel Victoria (which, as his agent, I recommend) and also in the last book Paul Weyrich and I wrote together, The Next Conservatism. More than that, it is reflected in the lives of several important groups of people. One is the Amish, who live rural lives similar to those of 100 years ago, before Henry Ford’s Model T overran the countryside. Another group that embraces part of Retroculture is the home schoolers, many of whom home school to avoid the dreadful “education theory” that has replaced learning skills and facts with psychological conditioning and babble such as “self-esteem”. A college graduate of today knows less than a high school grad of 1950.

There is no single time period that defines Retroculture. Any time up through the 1950s, America’s last normal decade, will do. Our country was wrecked by the cultural revolution of the 1960s, and any model for present life drawn from before that catastrophe will be an improvement. Emmett Tyrrell once defined utopia as the 18th century with modern medicine and air conditioning.

Toward the goal of creating a Retroculture movement, this website is establishing a Retroculture bulletin board. Anyone who has ideas about Retroculture they want to share, or wants to connect with others choosing a Retroculture life, is welcome to post on it.

Retroculture’s home truth is simple: what worked before can work again. Ideologies promise perfect future societies based on this or that philosophy; invariably, they fail. Retroculture, in contrast, is based in reality, in the concrete, specific ways of living of our own forefathers. They were real, the ways in which they lived were real, and they worked. They built the greatest country on Earth. It wasn’t perfect; no human endeavor can be. But their America worked a whole lot better than the country we now know by that name. It’s time we brought that America back.

The View From Olympus: Strategic Idiocy–and an Alternative

In a column in the May 3 Cleveland Plain Dealer Eli Lake reported that the Trump administration has decided to redouble our efforts in Afghanistan. We are to send in more troops–5000 initially is the figure I’m hearing–and commit ourselves once again to nation building based on the corrupt and ineffectual government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. This was all decided in a White House meeting where the principle voice for stronger intervention came from the new national security advisor, General H.R. McMaster.

Once again, we see everything Trump promised during the campaign go out the window as typical Establishment policies prevail. Worse, McMaster, who is a tactical genius, is revealed as a strategic idiot (the combination is not unusual; Rommel was another example). So we appear doomed to four more years of  strategic failure in Afghanistan and everywhere else McMaster is in charge. Where is Count Witte when we need him?

What makes this hopeless reprise of a strategy that has already been tried and has failed especially disheartening is that other, more promising strategies are available for Afghanistan. Two could be combined to offer a reasonable chance of an outcome we could live with, namely a coalition government that includes the Taliban but excludes al Qaeda, ISIS, and other Salafists from the country.

The first recognizes that Pakistan is the key to Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is also the key to Pakistan. So long as the Afghan government is aligned with India, as it now is, Pakistan must support the Taliban. The Taliban offers its only option for an alliance with Afghanistan, which it must have for strategic depth vis-a-vis India. Remember, India is Pakistan’s number one strategic threat. A pro-India Afghanistan threatens Pakistan with a two-front war, which is intolerable. So Pakistan is tied to the Taliban whether it wants to be or not (my guess is not).

A new strategy for Afghanistan begins with our compelling the current Afghan government to de-align with India and become a reliable (and subservient) ally of Pakistan. What if it refuses? We leave tomorrow and take our money with us. I suspect that prospect will make President Ghani see reason.

Once Pakistan can break with the Taliban, a second new strategy comes into play. The Taliban is increasingly threatened by ISIS in Afghanistan. The two are already fighting, with casualties on both sides. ISIS is also a dangerous moral threat to the Taliban, because it is more extreme, which means it appeals strongly to young fighters. In effect, among Islamic puritans, ISIS makes the Taliban look like the establishment while it represents true purity. That scares the Taliban, as it should.

So we now can offer the Taliban our aid against ISIS if it will join a coalition Afghan government. With Pakistan pushing in the same direction, the chances of success would be reasonably good–which they are not if we keep repeating what we have been doing for more than ten years without success.

To show the depth of our strategic incompetence, instead of using ISIS in Afghanistan as a lever to move the Taliban, we are trying to destroy it. We are doing the Taliban’s fighting for it, eliminating the threat to its flank and lessening the pressure it feels to do a deal with us. The “Mother Of All Bombs” we dropped in Afghanistan a few weeks ago was aimed not at the Taliban, but at ISIS. Like most air bombardments of dug-in opponents, it did very little. But why are we fighting ISIS in Afghanistan at all when it could serve our goal? Bismarck must be rolling in his grave.

It seems the new Trump administration is just more of the same old, failed, incompetent strategy, or absence of strategy. We will do more of the same and expect a different result. That’s not just stupidity, it’s idiocy. And it appears that vaunted General McMaster is the craziest guy in the madhouse.

The View From Olympus: Korea

Is a new Korean War likely? Probably not. It would almost certainly end with the destruction of North Korea’s Kim regime, and I think they know that. Dictators want to remain dictators.

On the other hand, like the major European states in 1914, both North Korea and the U.S. could back themselves into a war, not knowing quite how they got there. If that happens, North Korea has some options I fear the Pentagon is ignoring.

One is to open up a massive artillery barrage on Seoul, then turn it off after twenty minutes. The cease-fire could be accompanied by an announcement saying North Korea would only resume firing if the U.S. or South Korea took military action against it. That would leave us on the horns of a most unpleasant dilemma.

If all-out war were to break out, instead of launching its main thrust directly at Seoul from the north with the armor it has positioned there, North Korea could keep that threat open while making its operational Schwerpunkt a light infantry advance down South Korea’s east coast with a turning movement south of Seoul designed to pocket the main American and South Korean forces. The east coast terrain is favorable to light infantry, North Korea has lots of it and if you look at the movement rates of both North and South Korean light infantry on that coast during the first Korean War, you see it could unfold quite rapidly.

Steven Canby, who may be America’s best land war analyst, laid out this possibility in a paper he wrote in the late 1970s or early 1980s. When I worked for Senator Gary Hart, he sent Canby’s paper to the U.S. commander in Korea. The reply he received essentially said, “We have our plan and we are going to follow it.” That plan, I suspect, assumes the main North Korean thrust will be made by the heavy armor positioned north of Seoul. But that could well be the cheng element with light infantry in the east playing the chi role. Oriental warfare tends to avoid jousting contests.

American forces want to fight the plan rather than the enemy because their Second Generation planning is so slow, convoluted, and cumbersome. The Marine Corps’ sacred “staff planning process” takes at least 72 hours for a one-division plan. In contrast, the Wehrmacht expected a division to respond to unexpected enemy action in four hours, with action, not just a plan; a corps was given six hours. As John Boyd might have said, “We’re not even in the game.”

A third North Korean option would be to respond to a U.S. pre-emptive strike not with an attack on South Korea but with strikes on Japan. Not only might that lead Japan to deny us the use of bases there, without which a war in Korea would be logistically impossible, it could rally South Korean public opinion for North Korea. All Koreans hate the Japanese, and the South Korean navy is designed less for a war with the North than for a war with Japan. If North Korea called on the South to join it against Japan, the South Korean government might find itself in a very difficult position. What would we do at that point?

All of these actions would require a boldness and imagination on the part of North Korea that dictatorships are not very good at producing. On the other hand, if North Korea does what we expect it to in a war, its chances of winning are poor. Might there be some North Korean von Manstein going to Mr. Kim with a Korean counterpart to Sichelschnitt, the German plan for the advance through the Ardenne in 1940? If so, like our French mentors, we could get caught with our pants down and the privy on fire.

The End of the Trump Administration

After just three months, the Trump administration appears to be over. The agenda which got President Trump elected is being tossed over the side, replaced with the usual Republican establishment policies that don’t work. It looks as if we are in for more immigration, more free trade that wipes out middle class jobs, more political correctness, and more avoidable foreign wars where we have no real interests at stake. As for Donald Trump himself, he is rapidly being relegated to the role of the crazy uncle who lives in the attic.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to know less about grand strategy than he does about Maya glyphs. He has set us back on an anti-Russian foreign policy course where the U.S. is to promote Jacobin concepts of “human rights” while bombing anyone and everyone around the world. Both actions work to the advantage of our Fourth Generation, non-state enemies. Coupled with a failure to reform our Second Generation armed forces, we are on the same road to over-extension and collapse that every other Power seeking world dominion has followed. Donald Trump ran against all of this, and won. But what the public wants counts for nothing to the Republican establishment.

The drumbeat of bad news for those who voted for Trump because they wanted reform grows louder daily. The New York Times can hardly contain its glee. On April 13 it reported that Steve Bannon, the highest-placed anti-establishment figure in the Trump administration, may be on his way out. Coming in, according to the Times, is Kevin Hassett, who will serve as head of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors and who is rabidly pro-immigration. He has denounced the Republican Party for becoming the “Party of White.” Wall Street, which wants cheap labor, will be delighted.

Just the next day, April 14, the Times reported that President Trump reversed himself on NATO. While hosting NATO’s Secretary General, President Trump said, “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.” NATO has not changed one iota since the election, and it has been obsolete and counter-productive since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

What does this massive bait-and-switch operation mean for the country’s future? In the short term, it means the Republican Party will take a huge political bath as those who have been betrayed cease voting Republican (and probably just cease voting). Both 2018 and 2020 are looking good for the Democrats, unless they nominate a black lesbian Moslem in the latter, which is always possible.

But the effects of the sell-out will only start there. The message to anti-establishment voters is that there is no hope of change through the existing political system. Anti-establishment Democrats got the same message when the party machine blocked Senator Bernie Sanders and gave the nomination to Hillary. The Sanders voters were prevented from winning. Trump’s voters won, and are now watching helplessly as their victory is stolen from them by the Republican establishment. In both cases, the message is the same: the current system has lost its legitimacy.

That system’s political strength, its closed nature, is also a fatal substantive weakness. As John Boyd, America’s greatest military theorist, often  warned, all closed systems collapse. A mindless continuation of establishment policies guarantees a cascading series of foreign policy, military, economic (i.e., a debt crisis), and political crises, which will all wrap up into one general collapse. In a Fourth Generation world, the big question is whether that multi-sided collapse will take the state itself with it.

The anti-establishment voters who elected Donald Trump, along with at least some of Sanders’ supporters, now face the strategic question of where do we go from here? How do we begin to prepare strategically for the collapse of the current closed system? Our goal–and again I include some Sanders voters–should be to preserve the state while reforming it. This election has shown that reform through the ballot box is impossible. It can only happen on a bottom-up basis, where grass roots reform movements become so powerful that they replace the current establishment, both its Democratic and its Republican wings. I think there is a way to do that, and I will discuss it in a future column.

The View From Olympus: Asleep on the Beach?

The Trump Defense department is dominated by Marines. The Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, was until recently a Marine General. His number two, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, as a Marine captain was one of my students in the seminar that put together maneuver warfare for the Marine Corps. The Chairman of the JCS, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., is a Marine, as is his J-5 (Strategic Plans and Policy), Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie.

All these Marines were exposed to maneuver warfare and military reform from their earliest days in the Corps onward. As the best the Marine Corps has produced, it is reasonable to think they are readers of serious military history and theory. General Mattis is notably so.

So why are we hearing nothing about military reform from any of them? So far, all the Trump administration has done in defense is add $54 billion to the budget to do more of what has not worked. Friends inside the Pentagon say it’s all just business as usual. There has not been so much as a hint of reform, a word about leading all our armed services toward Third Generation maneuver warfare.

It is not as if a well-developed agenda for military reform is lacking. That was put together in the 1980s, and most of it is relevant, mainly because we have remained as firmly stuck in the mud of Second Generation war as we were then. It begins with setting the basic components of military strength in the right order: people, ideas, and hardware. So far, DoD’s Marine leaders have continued to put hardware first with people a long way second and ideas invisible.

In personnel policy, needed reforms include vesting after ten years instead of all-or-nothing retirement at twenty; ending up-or-out promotion, and reducing the vast surplus of officers above the company grades, along with the hordes of civil servants and contractors who gum up the works. Instead, it appears that the service personnel strength increases DoD now plans will give us few if any new combat units. They merely perpetuate a personnel system that has created a Brontosaurus with three teeth.

And a brain the size of a walnut, because those Marines at the top of the system seem to have forgotten that, for about twenty years, the Marine Corps was the most intellectually innovative of our armed services. While still in uniform, General Michael Flynn testified to Congress that our problem is that we are fighting Fourth Generation wars and we have a Second Generation military. Was he the only senior official who knows this? How can Mattis, Work, Dunford, and McKenzie not know it? The Four Generations framework was first laid out in the Marine Corps Gazette in 1989. It has since echoed around the world. Did none of these Marines read it, or even hear of it? Did they all drink from the rive Lethe on assuming their current offices?

Nor is there any sign of improvement in our miserable process of weapons’ design and procurement, which continues to give us one unaffordable turkey after another, with the F-35 fighter/bomber the most egregious. President Trump himself criticized that aircraft; instead of taking advantage of his criticism to kill the program, DoD seems to have fed him the usual lies so that he now supports it.

It all brings to mind the title of the best book on the origins of World War I: The Sleepwalkers. If key DoD leaders were the usual bureaucrats and technology-hucksters, I would expect nothing else. But why are we getting business as usual from Marines? Are they asleep on the beach?

Business as usual has already given us four defeats at the hands of Fourth Generation opponents. It will give us more such defeats, plus, perhaps, defeat by state armed forces that have an OODA Loop faster than ours (and ours is glacial). With the Marine Corps now running DoD, it will bear primary responsibility, before the American people and the world, for more defeats, defeats proceeding not from what Marines did but from what they did not do. As General Hans von Seekt said, military leaders who are brilliant but who will not make decisions and act are useless. Das Wesentliche ist die Tat–the important thing is action.

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.