On War #89
By William S. Lind
[The views expressed in this article are those of
Mr. Lind, writing in his personal capacity. They do not reflect
the opinions or policy positions of the Free Congress
Foundation, its officers, board or employees, or those of Kettle
An old guy in the barbershop summed up this
election best. Choosing between Bush and Kerry, he said, “is like
being asked which of the Mendez brothers you like better.” As Paul
Craig Roberts wrote, it is “the worst election ever.”
If we look at both candidates from the
standpoint of national security, what do we see? Both talk about the
subject endlessly, but neither has anything to say. On Iraq, Kerry,
like Bush, refuses to recognize the war is lost. Kerry refuses even
to say what Ike said in 1952: “I will bring the boys home.” Like
Bush, he pretends that the key to victory is training more Iraqi
forces, as if training, not loyalty, were the problem.
The landscape is equally bleak if we look beyond
the Iraqi debacle – America’s Syracuse Expedition. If a voter were
trying to determine which candidate would do better at defending the
country against Fourth Generation enemies, the checklist might look
something like this:
To be able to confront Fourth Generation
opponents, our own armed forces must first move from the
Second Generation (French-style attrition warfare) to the
Third (German-style maneuver warfare, which includes a
decentralized, initiative-oriented military culture). Bush
has done nothing to make this happen, instead pushing us
further up the blind canyon of the “Revolution in Military
Affairs,” where future enemies are all Second Generation
state armed forces whom we defeat through superior (meaning
more complex) technology. Kerry has said nothing to suggest
he knows the Second Generation from Second Grade.
Adopting a defensive rather than an
offensive grand strategy. So long as we are on the grand
strategic offensive, threatening to impose our ways on every
one else through military force, we will be defeated
regardless of how many battles we win. Like Germany in both
World Wars, we will generate new enemies faster than we can
defeat old ones. Bush promises in every other sentence that
“America will stay on the offensive,” while Kerry’s foreign
policy utterances sound as Wilsonian as any neo-con. Can we
be sure Kerry isn’t in fact a neo-con? No.
Developing a “counter-terrorism”
capability that, instead of pretending the whole thing is a
law-enforcement problem, mimics the way Fourth Generation
entities fight and turns it on them. Our armed services
can’t do this because it requires a non-hierarchical
organization free of the First Generation culture of order.
Bush and Kerry both seem as clueless on this as Bart
Developing contingency plans for what we
do when a Fourth Generation force such as al Qaeda nukes an
American city, which is going to happen. Both Presidential
candidates suggest their response will be a headless chicken
act; in Bush’s case, the chicken never had a head.
Finally, if we are to be able to fight
Fourth Generation war we need to figure out what it is. The
Pentagon is willfully ignorant, because Fourth Generation
war doesn’t justify hi-tech “systems” and vast budgets.
Which candidate will undertake the serious military reform
we need to re-focus our military on war instead of on money?
Bush obviously won’t, because he hasn’t. Kerry hasn’t said a
word about it.
So what is a voter who cares about national
security to do? Bush has already failed (spectacularly). Kerry seems
to be an empty vessel. Hope would suggest a vote for Kerry.
Unfortunately, hope is a fool.
What voters need to do is realize we are facing
systemic failure. Our vaunted two-party system offers us two
choices, neither of whom is fit to be dog-catcher of Podunk, much
less President of the United States. It was the same in 2000, in
1996 and in 1992. Reagan looked good, as an actor should, but the
last President we had who actually understood things like grand
strategy was Richard Nixon. Oh for a happy monarchy, where Nixon
would have been foreign minister for 50 years.
As for this monarchist, the political landscape
seems so barren to me that it doesn’t matter much who we vote for.
What we will get is more of the same. It is not just time for a new
king; it is time for a now dynasty.
Archive of On War
William S. Lind, expressing his own personal
opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for
the Free Congress Foundation.
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