Saturday, December 31, 2005

Hobbesian Quasi-Straussesque Neocons need Kleinian therapists

Though it is hard to hear through the almost cliché Brit-Left, spittle flecked diatribes against America in general and Neocons in particular; Dr. Richard Drayton has some important, and I think accurate, things to say - even if this does come from The Guardian.
..."full-spectrum dominance" - in which its country could "fight and win multiple, simultaneous major-theatre wars" - was a monster borne up by the high tide of techno euphoria of the 1990s. ... the "revolution in military affairs" predicted that technology would lead to easy and perpetual US dominance of the world. Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters advised on "future warfare" at the Army War College - prophesying in 1997 a coming "age of constant conflict". Thomas Barnett at the Naval War College assisted Vice-Admiral Cebrowski in developing "network-centric warfare". General John Jumper of the air force predicted a planet easily mastered from air and space. American forces would win everywhere because they enjoyed what was unashamedly called the "God's-eye" view of satellites and GPS: the "global information grid". This hegemony would be welcomed as the cutting edge of human progress. Or at worst, the military geeks candidly explained, US power would simply terrify others into submitting to the stars and stripes.

Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance - a key strategic document published in 1996 - aimed to understand how to destroy the "will to resist before, during and after battle".
Doh, he went after Ralph!
American imperial strategists invested deeply in the belief that through spreading terror they could take power. ... And technology would make it possible and beautiful.
And we forgot fundamentals along the way. Fundamentals like how to occupy a hostile nation.
The Afghanistan war of 2001 taught the wrong lessons. The US assumed this was the model of how a small, special forces-dominated campaign, using local proxies and calling in gunships or airstrikes, would sweep away opposition. But all Afghanistan showed was how an outside power could intervene in a finely balanced civil war. The one-eyed Mullah Omar's great escape on his motorbike was a warning that the God's-eye view can miss the human detail.

The problem for the US today is that Leviathan has shot his wad. Iraq revealed the hubris of the imperial geostrategy. One small nation can tie down a superpower. Air and space supremacy do not give command on the ground.
In the main, he is wrong of course. In the end, Dr. Drayton will have to write about the only way the U.S. won in Iraq was through massive expenditure of treasure, and the blood of what always counts in war; the infantry on the ground taking ground and holding it - closing with the enemy and killing him. We lost touch with that truth, but I think we are back there.

There were many voices in the last 15 years yelling "fundamentals" and "boots on the ground" (BTW, saying 'we need hundreds of thousands of troops' while knowing that number is unsustainable and being more focused on wearing European headgear snarking with your boss than reminding the Senate that they gutted the Army during the '90s doesn't count, General Shinseki. BTW General, still waiting for a Senator's funeral?), but they lost out to those who sold the next great gadget.

The battle is still being fought, which is why we have troop carriers with
titanium firemains, yet our infantry is fighting with a 40yr old, Rube Goldberg accessorized rifle firing a varmint round.

What do I think about the rest of his thoughts? This letter to the editor is about how I feel.

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