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Two Thought-Provoking Pieces on Counter-Insurgency and 4th Generation Warfare

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The Fabius Maximus website has an essay, with many important links, titled "How I learned to stop worrying and love Fourth Generation War. We can win at this game."  Find it here.
 
George Kenny's very different and diverse website at electricpolitics.com has an interview with a thinker in the Army, Col. Gian Gentile.  It addresses the various fallacies of the Petraeus/COIN dogma that resulted in the surge in Iraq (the action that allowed some in the US to pretend that "we won" there and the catastrophe now occurring there is some sort of separate event) and that has prolonged the agony in Afghanistan (while we pretend we are preserving something worth preserving). While this interview starts slowly, it becomes very interesting and thought provoking, I believe. Find it here.
 
I highly respect all the discussants in these two pieces and I defer to much of their knowledge on the subject, which is deeper than mine.  However, there is an element on which I dissent.  They focus much of their energy on how to "win" these conflicts.  I am not at all sure that is the correct focus.  These conflicts (call them whatever you want) occur mostly in very alien societies with massively corrupt, wantonly un-empathetic, and/or grotesquely incompetent governments.  Not only is "helping" the government side the equivalent of pushing a very wet string, but also why is it that we feel compelled to take a side in those conflicts where one side is repulsive and the other is hideous?  Trying to win by taking one of those sides is a fool's errand, and it has proven our undoing since the end of World War II -- and especially in recent years.  That we pretend ourselves to be superior to the culture in these countries, and behave accordingly, does not exactly help either.  
 
The situation in Syria, where we side with one of the many insurgents, is merely a variation on these themes. 
 
There are alternatives; we should be exploring them.
Photo by CIA/U.S. Government.

Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight

By: Winslow Wheeler
Director, Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO, POGO

Mr. Wheeler's areas of expertise include Congress, the Defense Budget, National Security, Pentagon Reform and Weapons Systems

The goal of the Straus Military Reform Project is to secure far more effective military forces and much more ethical and professional military and civilian leadership at significantly lower budget levels.

We would like to thank Philip A. Straus Jr. and family for their generous support.

Submitted by Glaaaar! at: October 1, 2013
Truth: As war becomes more sophisticated, it leaves behind those who are not able to understand and exploit it's variables to better themselves. Those who are /successful/ at this kingly sport then find themselves in a position where power, envy and desire come together to let them create 'the good life' for themselves which generally has a trickle down effect to others 'that I may lie safe in my bed at night, knowing that others do not plot against me'. In this, the notion that you are on -a- side is indeed critical for it is the inimicable, alien, external threat that is hardest to judge and least well accepted. A devil you know who suddenly gains triumphant power is one which you simply quit the fight against under the anticipation of getting a little gratuity from their peace. In this, even for a people who have nothing but their lives and their families to mark as leverage, the ability to -judge- whom to side with is important because from that choice it derives the option to invest in a future that is their's to own. Strip the power symbols and impose an outside form of governance and, like a woman you just knocked up, you had better be willing to pay the 20 year price of raising baby, hand to mouth, into adulthood for it will take -at least- that long (and possibly twice more) to inculcate your cultural values while eradicating the prior slate to instill a new elite. It is a dowager fool who thinks the world will turn upon her ordered will simply because she has money inherited from the predatory males who knew better. Men like Saddam Hussein, Hitler and Khomeini did not post images of themselves all over their little kingdoms because they wanted to be loved but rather to remind their people that power was it's own continuum and 'We are watching you!'. In this, it is -critical- to also be able to look back at the world as it was and see what woulda-coulda-shoulda been had we not screwed up. Would the EP-3E have been intercepted and bumped had we kept our forces at Cam Rahn Bay? No. Because it would have had escorts. Is escorting an ELINT ferret important in the grand scheme of things? If you think war is imminent perhaps. But would war -ever- be likely if we controlled the sea lanes by whose delivery China maintains her economic engine? No. The Dragon wouldn't dare awaken under conditions where we had on-Continent presence. Because our Navy as military expertise would starve it to death in deep-blue operations. Is 'regional instability' (read transition between power poles) assured now that China no longer has us looking over their shoulder from a Vietnam-as-California control point on the SCS? Yes. Will we lose a longterm war of influence in which Chinese hegemony will rise over that hemisphere, much as U.S. hegemony exists over the American one. And given we cannot control ultimate Chinese economic and military development because she has the option to import petrogas and raw materials from Russia, what then? What is the nearest paradigm? Germany, another largely landlocked nation whose Imperial Dreams were stifled by British and French crib-killing, first through commercial market exclusion as piracy of patents. And then through isolation from African continental access to which Germany was hopelessly dependent for 18 of 26 key mineral resources. And finally through two World Wars. Is that something we want to repeat across 6,000 miles of Pacific? No. Because China is not contained within Europe as Germany was. And China will win as a mono-ethnic, highly nationalist, 'younger' society. Less world weary with the roles of Global Leadership. In a liberal world view driven by touchy-feelyism where most students couldn't find Dharfur, Balochistan or Eritrea on a globe if you handed them one, the penchant for soft logic as embracing a self-focused emotardian guilt or empathy is overwhelmingly PC = herd-think pressured. The reality of the primitive mind not thinking in high concepts but exploitationally opportunistic, pragmatic, ones is as alien as it is ultimately hostile, to this view. As is the notion that our ancestors did what they did for the good of Western driven world society because it was expected that we look after what we had been given rather than handing it all away to others 'for the greater good' of a planet that would take all we had and still not be grateful. It would be terribly shocking and disappointing to our grandfather's generations to see how dumb we've (been led to) become. Which is important because where war is just diplomacy by other means, insurgent sponsorship is a way to conduct war without admitting responsibility for the actions or the outcome. It is, essentially, a spoiling tactic. Which can only lead to massive waste and lost opportunities to move forwards.

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