The New URL for the War Nerd is…


I was wondering why there wasn’t anything new popping up in RSS.

Here are my War Nerd book notes (short version: I liked it and think it was a valuable read).

4 Responses

  1. Russia, meanwhile, is as high as a Hollywood speedballer from its victory. Putting the two together in the same room — speedballing Russia and violently bad-tripping America — is a recipe for serious disaster. If we’re lucky, we’ll survive the humiliating decline and settle into the new reality without causing too much damage to ourselves or the rest of the world. But when that awful moment arrives where the cognitive dissonance snaps hard, it will be an epic struggle to come to our senses in time to prevent the William Kristols, Max Boots and Robert Kagans from leading us into a nuclear holocaust which, they will assure us, we can win against Russia, thanks to our technological superiority. If only we have the will, they’ll tell us, we can win once and for all.

    A person who refers to Bush’s decision on Iraq “idiotically destructive” and then refuses to recognize the valuable combat experience acquired in Iraq, totally independent of America’s technology, while portraying his opponent’s strategy as one based upon high technology and high willpower, is either a propagandist or an incompetent in the affairs of geo-political warfare.

    He either knows the contradictions in his arguments and uses them regardless or he does not know them and is navigating a stream from where he knows not where he goes for he knew not where he started from.

    1. Most wars are asymmetrical / irregular.
    2. In these wars, the guerrillas / irregulars / insurgents do not aim for military victory.
    3. You can NOT defeat these groups by killing lots of their members. In fact, they want you to do that.
    4. Hi-tech weaponry is mostly useless in these wars.
    5. “Hearts and Minds,” meaning propaganda and morale, are more important than military superiority.
    6. Most people are not rational, they are TRIBAL: “my gang yay, your gang boo!” It really is that simple. The rest is cosmetics.

    The rest are not cosmetics. The rest is what makes Point 1 even important and existent. In the real world, nations defeat tribes and civilizations annihilate indigenous and primitive peoples through either assimilation or culture clashes.

    By the time the warfare becomes asymmetrical, one side or the other has already weakened totally past the point of return. And yet, the reason why most wars today are asymmetrical is precisely due to the fact that America has held the world in a territorial stasis where conventional warfare does not bring as much benefit as insurgency does. If you want to destabilize another country and invade it, then you can do as Saddam did and get the rewards he got or you can do as the Vietnamese, the Soviets, and the Al Qaeda did and get what they got. Which, if not victory, certainly wasn’t total defeat or even partial defeat.

    With nuclear weapons and other high technological foundations, of course you can defeat such opponents by killing as many of them as you can. The problem is, any stable or high power will refuse to do so, for annihilating a weak enemy that practices insurgency is only something that nations like Russia likes doing. You don’t see a Georgian insurgency doing much. The insurgents, the Chechens and the criminals who sent their 30k family and children into Russia, similar to what the Palestinians were ordered by the Arabs to do when the Arabs invaded Israel, are on the side of the occupier, not the occupied. Makes for an interesting case of “asymmetrical warfare” where the asymmetrical elements are on the side of the stronger invading empire and the weaker side only has conventional methods available: inferior conventional forces at that.

    The use nuclear missiles is ruled out for the same reason that insurgency and terrorism are on the up rise. With one global power holding things in stasis and promoting stability and prosperity through the lifeblood and treasure of America, insurgency and terrorism pays more price for you don’t want to force America to have to use nukes.

    We have entered a dangerous moment in history — America in decline is reacting hysterically, woofing and screeching and throwing a tantrum, desperate to prove that it still has teeth. Which it does — but not in the old dominant way that America wants or believes itself to be. History shows that it’s at this moment, tipping into decline and humiliation, when the worst decisions are made, so idiotically destructive that they’ll make the Iraq campaign look like a mere training exercise fender-bender by comparison.

    The only one throwing up a tantrum is the guy who talks about the defeat and resurrection of the Russian Empire while talking about the decay and fall of an American Empire that was never born to begin with. Russia has the will and if not the technology of America, their numbers and will makes up for it: along with their Chechen irregulars. A person that can recognize the resurgence of Russia while belittling willpower and fundamental geo-political resource differences between small nations and large ones, needs to get a grip on the fundamental realities here.

    Russia has always been dominated by Ghenghis Khan politics, where the strong man is valued for it creates a point to rally the various tribes and ethnicities around. Khan solved the various tribal squabbling through a rather interesting method. He didn’t use hearts and minds. He didn’t use low technology or high technology. He knew the truth as well as I did. Kill enough of your enemies and they will be forced to make a choice. Which choice they make will then force you to respond, and depending on how you respond, empires can rise or fall. Khan decided that for all those who chose their own tribal loyalties over the Khan’s tribe, that they should die and their familes. Thus Ghenghis Khan ended up with one tribe, his own, and now the tribal instincts to attack all strangers (enemies) breeds itself anew in a nation that can now look beyond its borders.

    Killing all or many of your enemies does work, if you have the will. For the will is not such a little thing in the end, especially given that intelligence is overrated.

    Civilization tends to want to make things stable, secure, and prosperous. To make a place where the average person will not have to develop the will to survive amidst soul crushing obstacles. To create a nation of sheep where the grass will be green and trade will flourish. But the cost of creating a nation of sheep is that you tend to attract the predators.

    Btw, to call the Rose Revolution something cooked up by America is to vandalize the very concept of grass roots organization in favor of Russian KGB style astroturfing.

  2. Both Georgia and Iran under the Shah suffered from fundamental geo-political instabilities. They had external enemies, like Iraq or the Soviets, which demanded a strong defense and even stronger alliances. Yet they also had domestic internal problems which naturally arise from creating democratic institutions: Iraq is only proof certain of that. Because these nations, usually small, are between geo-political factions, their external threats and their internal threats often become magnified due to outside interference. This is true whether it is the external influence of a Carter demanding that the Shah release prisoners and focus on “human rights” over internal and external security, or the internal influence of a Khomeini or the various separatist tribes of Georgia. These kinds of stresses tend to rip apart young and small developing nations, as they have done to Iran and as it will likely to do to Georgia.

    None of this is ahistorical. Small nations are inevitably swallowed up by larger nations or settled into a new political dynamic due to internal coups and power plays. What is ahistorical is a nation, America, who seeks to end such things and forge a new way for power to flow: downwards rather than upwards.

    There are some people who will watch history unfold and they just want to wait it out. See what happens, both the horrors and the entertainment. There are others who seek to build a dream upon which people can live together in harmony. Ghenghis Khan had that dream as well, it was only that his culture demanded ruthlessness above liberty and human dignity. There could be no human dignity that was outside the tribe: his tribe, which also meant his power and legacy. Attila the Hun also wished to make something better and grander, a destiny for his people to fulfill.

    In the end, when those individuals fell, so did the work they lived their lives to create. It speaks of the fundamental problems of trying to unify barbarians and disparate tribes together through sheer force of personality without the time scale required to build democratic and lasting institutions. Democratic institutions allow you to pass power, peacefully, from one ruler to another. This increases the chance that future generations will be able to build upon what previous generations had sacrificed for. If power plays were in evidence, then most of your descendants would spend their resources, time, and will fighting each other rather than working together. Ghenghis Khan created much that could have been used to create a lasting nation, but he was mortal and like all mortal men he could not live long enough to create a nation. That takes centuries, numerous generations of descendants. In order for those centuries of progress to exist, however, you need a stable exchange and passing down of power. And to get that, you need a balance of powers, where everyone has a stake in the nation, its politics, its people, and its lifeblood.

    This is a dream that has now become America’s dream and purpose. Power, by itself, is America’s already: to be used or not depending upon the whims of her leaders, in for so long as they are in power. But power by itself is meaningless. There has to be something it is for. Otherwise it will evaporate. However, if a person uses that power to further a vision, then the vision ends at about the time the person’s life ends also. Which provides an interesting problem in that a vision of a better world often requires time: time which mortal individuals do not have.

    The works built in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, the Phillippines, and Georgia were all meant to sustain a work of progress for many generations to come. Some have succeeded, others like Vietnam have failed. For even with the power of a Ghenghis Khan or of an America, humanity is still fallible and Murphy still rules supreme.

  3. 5. “Hearts and Minds,” meaning propaganda and morale, are more important than military superiority.

    Military superiority includes morale, for Napoleon’s words that the morale is to the physical as 3 is to 1 (10 to 1 now) is still true and studied. Petraeus, the “William Kristols, Max Boots and Robert Kagans” do not exclude that element from the subject matter, if they are serious students of military history.

  4. Great comments.

    The War nerd is an asshole. Truly. He pisses me off to. He makes me think though.

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