Ancient Laws, Modern Wars

Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of some ancient learning, and helps us apply it to the present day.

After eight years of withdrawal, what rules should the U.S. follow to effectively reassert itself in world affairs? The most dangerous moments in foreign affairs often come after a major power seeks to reassert its lost deterrence. The United States may be entering just such a perilous transitional period.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446471/military-deterrence-trumps-leadership-abroad-principles-foreign-policy […]

1. Avoid making verbal threats that are not serious and backed up by force. After eight years of pseudo-red lines, step-over lines, deadlines, and “game changers,” American ultimatums without consequences have no currency and will only invite further aggression.
2. The unlikely is not impossible. Weaker powers can and do start wars. Japan in December 1941 attacked the world’s two largest navies based on the false impression that great powers which sought to avoid war did so because they were weak. That current American military power is overwhelming does not mean delusional nations will always agree that it is so — or that it will be used.
3. Big wars can start from small beginnings. No one thought an obscure Austrian archduke’s assassination in 1914 would lead to some 18 million dead by 1918. Consider any possible military engagement a precursor to far more. Have a backup plan — and another backup plan for the backup plan.
4. Do not confuse tactics with strategy. Successfully shooting down a rogue airplane, blowing up an incoming speedboat, or taking an ISIS-held Syrian city is not the same as finding a way to win and end a war. Strategic victory is time-consuming and usually involves drawing on economic, political, and cultural superiority as well as military success to ensure that a defeated opponent stays defeated — and agrees that further aggression is counterproductive.

via Military Deterrence & Trump’s Leadership Abroad: Principles for Foreign Policy | National Review Read the whole thing.™

There’s more there and they are all true, useful, and important. One that we Americans are very prone to is number four above. It’s always a problem, where is the dividing line. There is a murky area in there as well that some theorists coming after Clausewitz refer to as the ‘operational’. While I see their point, which is valid, these theories are already too complex, so it is best to do our best to maintain a sharp clear line.

If they are doing their job, the TLAM strike in Syria in Syria was strategic. It may or may not deter Hasan, although that is certainly desirable, but it depends on his calculus of survival. If he thinks he is more likely to survive by doing such things, he will. He is, after all, a man of weak morals, caught in a corner. He will do his best to survive, just as Saddam did.

But the point of that strike, which occurred while the President was having dinner with the Chinese Premier, was not Syria. It was Iran and North Korea, and it was notice to their sponsor states, Russia and China, that we were quite unhappy, and that the eagle just might scream in other parts of the world.

It’s important to realize that the United States, while it may be possible to destroy it, it can only be destroyed by what is essentially a nation level suicide-bombing, and only Russia (and maybe China) can do it. America’s only real enemies are internal. And that too has precedent, especially with Rome. Are we there? I don’t think so, but there are troubling signs.

My reading is that the first signs of decline are corruption, venality, and a deterioration of will. I do see these signs in abundance, and we would be wise to check our course. Or maybe we did, and that why we have Trump.

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Guns of August, Redux

courtneyskiniSome may well call this a fantasy, but is it? Or is it what happens when America takes the gloves off, and decides some more winning is in order.

“On July 29th 20 Iran successfully launches a Shahab rocket and orbiting satellite, proving it has a formidable functioning delivery vehicle, then announces it has produced sufficient fissionable material at its Natanz facility to build two nuclear bombs in 2017 and begins work on underground test facilities in the basalt formations beneath the great salt desert of Dacht-e-Kavir.

Supreme Leader Ali Khameini announces boldly that his nation has manufactured weapons-grade fissionable material enriched to nearly 100% (in lieu of 5% enrichment for peaceful nuclear reactors).

Two days later Great Satan launches the most audacious regional series of regime changes ever implemented in history, Officially dubbed ‘Operation Boundless Freedom” Allies and enemies alike refer to it as ‘Operation Great Satan”

3 Iranian submarines are destroyed – 1 in the Med, 1 in the Atlantic and 1 in the Indian Ocean. Another surrenders and defects near Barcelona.

Naval and air force assets at Bandar Abbas are hit with a combination of missiles and a French- Saudi Amphibious assault from Qatar and the UAE. Waves of Tomahawk cruise missiles streak through Persian aerospace from ships and subs – effectively targetting the Iranian air force – air fields, missile sites and air defense systems are struck down within hours.

Communications are totally co opted or overwhelmed cybernetically. B2 Stealth bombers sortee to to strike IRRGC command and control HQ’s.

“American warplanes and missiles carefully avoid striking research reactors in Teheran and Ispahan as well as the nuclear reactor at Bousher–less than 100 kilometers from Kuwait–as well as the centrifuges themselves at Natanz in an effort to prevent the spread of radioactive material to nearby population centers.

However, other missiles producing electromagnetic pulses do knock out
virtually all of Iran’s electric grid and computer systems”

Airborne troops from Great Britain and Great Satan sieze all passes through the Zagros mountains – effectively cutting Iran in half.

Special Forces strike and hold especial clerical compounds in Tehran and Qom right before Friday prayers. Nearly 20% of Iran’s ruling praetorian guards and mullahs are captured, killed or missing by breakfast time.

Armed insurgencies break out across Iran as ex and au currant MEK groups strike, sieze and hold towns and cities.

Great Satan’ s seaborne regime changing Marines hit the surf just north of the Litani river in Lebanon and methodically grind and leap frog straight through the heart of Hiz’B’AllahLand.

Known missile batteries and weapons caches (many in innocent civilian rich areas) are captured by chopper borne marines and French commandos or trashed.

HBA’s command complex in Beirut is clamped shut by heavily armed Marines after precision cruise missile strikes.
Al Manar – HBA’s ‘suicide channel’ seems to be co opted – running a marathon of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” in Arabic overdubs. All communications in the ME are totally wacked – from Bashar’s Al Sana network to Al Jazeera – regular programming has been replaced with the most outrageous cable quality programming Great Satan can jam like “Playboys Girls Next Door” and choice selections from ‘Girls Gone Wild’

Within 5 days, Iran is reduced to a state of near paralysis, unable in any sense to retaliate militarily, its entire economic infrastructure in shambles. By this time the largest armored division in history has left Iraq and “Old Ironsides” is within striking distance of a thunder run into downtown Tehran.

via GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Guns Of August, more at the link.

Will it happen like that, of course not, this is a theoretical. But something very like it could happen if Iran pushes Donald Trump. He has given no indication, ever, that he plays to do anything but win. And a two-week war, followed by the other country starting to rebuild itself, and remember Iran under the Shah was a pretty secular place, and there are still lots of non-Moslems there, fits that description, I think.

You, of course, remember all the hand wringing back before the Iraq wars about Saddam’s vaunted troops, how good they were and how we would take enormous casualties, and how they had stood off Iran for a decade. Yeah, the answer is two words “Thunder Run”, or if you prefer “73 Easting”. That we’ve been thrashing around attempting to assassinate individual terrorists for a few years because of a lack of leadership, does not indicate that is all we can do.

And something else here, this version is from Great Satan’s Girlfriend, but the study was written by Francois Heisbourg. The bio states this:

For there are some extraordinary surprises in this consummate, if brief, but brilliantly conceived work by the man who is perhaps Europe’s leading global thinker–chairman of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, adviser to French presidents and ministers of defense and foreign affairs going back to Valery Giscard d’Estaing and top adviser to French arms makers from Thompson to Matra.

Friday Roundup

Cleaning out some tabs, interesting stuff that we’ve been hoarding.

 

Well, yeah, he makes some sense to me, at that,

From Melanie Phillips:

The hand-wringing by western politicians and commentators over the appalling humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo reveals something far worse even than the nauseating virtue-signalling of pointlessly blaming themselves for having decided not to bomb Syrian President Assad’s forces. It reveals they still don’t understand just how morally culpable they actually are.

The current breast-beating is all about how the US and Britain made a terrible mistake in not bombing Assad’s forces years ago in this dreadful war.

But the issue that made them back away was valid then and remains valid now: that those who might come to power if Assad were removed would be as bad, if not worse, for both the Syrian people and the rest of the world.

People were, however, totally missing the point then just as they are doing now. Assad is the puppet of the Iranian regime whose infernal purposes, in gaining regional power in order to perpetrate genocide against Israel and jihadi terrorism against the west, he dutifully serves. Iran needs Assad in power. Without Iran, Assad would not be committing these atrocities. To stop him, the west needs to stop Iran.

Seems to me, she has a point, rather as if we had let Germany conquer Russia while we dealt with Japan. The Schwerpunkt the Grossgeneralstab called it. Apply force where it will do the most to damage the enemy, not the least.

Our heroes are old and stooped and wizened, but they are the only giants we have. Today, when we talk about Americans boldly going where no man has gone before, we mean the ladies’ bathroom. Progress.
-Mark Steyn on the passing of John Glenn

Churchill on America and Britain

No one can think clearly or sensibly about this vast and burning topic without in the first instance making up his mind upon the fundamental issue. Does he value the State above the citizen, or the citizen above the State? Does a government exist for the individual, or do individuals exist for the government?
I hold that governments are meant to be, and must remain, the servants of the citizens; that states and federations only come into existence and can only by justified by preserving the ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ in the homes and families of individuals,
I judge the civilization of any community by simple tests. What is the degree of freedom possessed by the citizen or subject? Can he think, speak and act freely under well-established, well-known laws? Can he criticize the executive government? Can he sue the State if it has infringed his rights? Are there also great processes for changing the law to meet new conditions? Judging by these standards, Great Britain and the United States can claim to be in the forefront of civilized communities.

Still so, as proved this year.

Heh!

doughnuts

All three from Ace’s

An American Hero Story here

In a remarkable World War II story that almost went untold, a devoutly Christian US Army sergeant refused to turn over his Jewish soldiers to the Nazis, even after a gun was placed to his head. Now, 30 years after his death, the Jewish people are showing their appreciation for his bravery.

Roddie Edmonds was a humble man and didn’t speak about his experiences in World War II, even when his children inquired. When he passed away over 30 years ago, his widow gave his wartime diaries to their son, Baptist Pastor Chris Edmonds, in Maryville, Tennessee.

Sergeant Roddie Edmonds in uniform.Photo by: Yad Vashem/Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago, one of the pastor’s daughters read through the diaries for a college project and was amazed at what she found. Despite being taken prisoner of war shortly after arriving in Europe, her grandfather was a hero.  He had saved hundreds of Jewish soldiers, motivated only by his Christian belief.

Edmonds was a Master Sergeant with the 422nd Infantry Regiment in the US Army. On December 16, 1944, just a few months after arriving in Europe, Edmonds found himself fighting in the disastrous Battle of the Bulge. The last major German offensive campaign of World War II, it caught the Allied Forces by surprise, resulting in 89,000 casualties. On December 19, Edmonds and an estimated 23,000 other American soldiers were taken prisoner by the Germans.

The sound of American Heroism: “We are all Jews,” Edmonds calmly replied.

Iran’s defense minister: Trump could trigger “world war” and “destruction” of Israel if he provokes Iran

Thinks he's qualified to tell the United States what to do

Thinks he’s qualified to tell the United States what to do

Well! I guess we’ve been warned.

During his campaign, Trump was strongly critical of the agreement that saw Iran agree to limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions on its oil industry and finances.

In September 2015, the billionaire told a crowd: ‘Any commander-in-chief worthy of defending this nation should be prepared to stand up on 20 January 2017 [inauguration day] and rip to shreds this catastrophic deal.’

He also called the deal a ‘disaster’ and ‘the worst deal ever negotiated’.

This has led to panic among US allies in the Gulf, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan has claimed.

via Iran’s defense minister: Trump could trigger “world war” and “destruction” of Israel if he provokes Iran

And so the Jackals circle and whine. My thought is that if Iran is hell-bent on having a war with the United States and our allies, as it has seemed since the 70s, then it would be best (least bad, really) to just do it now, before they get nuclear weapons. Ambitious sods, aren’t they? One remembers that Saddam’s Iraq fought this bunch to a stand still for 10 years, I see little to make me think they have learned anything.

Still, I suppose if they want to try this on, at some point we will have to accommodate them, even if to us it looks like a waste of blood (mostly theirs) and treasure. We do have maritime trade, and our allies, including Israel to protect, and maybe a sharp lesson would be salutary for others as well.

For me, the key lessons from the last 16 or so years are these.

  1. Think hard, before voluntarily going to war, it’s almost never a good idea.
  2. We have no mandate to fix every problem in the world. We do have allies we’ve pledged to defend.
  3. If one must fight, fight hard and win decisively.
  4. This ain’t the Pottery Barn, if we didn’t start the war, we have no obligation whatever to clean up the mess, or pay for it. We may choose to do so if we reckon it’s in our interest, but it’s voluntary. You want to play with the big kids, well the big kid rules are in play.

East of Eden

146968_600In 1949, the Truman administration withdrew the American forces occupying South Korea and in January 1950 the Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, delivered his famous ‘Perimeter Speech’ which pointedly placed Korea outside our perimeter. It was a major blunder. In June 1950, North Korea attacked, causing the Korean War. The war was fought gallantly by amongst others, the very US forces that had been withdrawn. It was a costly mistake, in both treasure and blood. The war ended mostly because the newly elected General Eisenhower would not rule out the use of nuclear weapons to end it.

Why are we rehashing this now? Because a similar scenario faced Obama in 2009. In Iraq, we had defeated everybody who cared to play. Yes, the initial war (and especially its aftermath) had its problems, mostly caused by not enough troops there to do the job of pacification. But again, when Bush bit the bullet and committed to the surge, eventually the country was pretty much pacified.

In his rush to leave Iraq, Obama made the same sort of blunder. Unlike Truman, he didn’t immediately institute repairs, however costly. Going all the way back to World War II, we had been a counterweight to any and all the extremist groups in the area. Jess said a few day ago, that Britain never had all that much force east of Eden, but British forces were feared. The same was true, except occasionally for the United States. The Middle East never required huge forces over time. Although, at times, it did require large forces, as during the gulf wars. What they did require was the absolute support of Israel, and some small forces, in theater, and the fact of large forces available. That was enough to hold the balance, and keep the fanatics, mostly quiet. That was really not all that much strain for America. Simply having a few thousand troops in Iraq seemed to intimidate all the nutters into keeping the peace. And, in fact, it was safer than Chicago is now.

In a way, it was a less stable counterpart to the Cold War. The forces were held in equilibrium, not so much by what America would do, as by what she could do. But even what she would do was impressive. I doubt many Arab powers were unimpressed by the steady flow of American supplies, flown nonstop from CONUS by the Air Force, during the Yom Kippur war in 1973, in the face of denied overflight rights from all Europe. Who doesn’t want friends like that? You think that maybe had something to do with peace between Israel and Egypt, signed a few years later at Camp David, and which has held (mostly) ever since? Much the same is true for Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, problematic as its religion has always been for the US.

This carefully wrought work of generations, starting possibly with Eisenhower’s intervention, against our two oldest allies, Britain and France, in Suez, in favor of Egypt. This is what Obama has ruined. he has brought it to the point that no one in the region, has any trust in the word of the United States, nor should they. Over the last 8 years, we have proved to be a feckless, toothless allies, almost always willing to support the wrong side.

The post-Pax America  middle east is proving to be a cesspit, that threatens the health of the entire world. Jess’ title was (and is) apt. The tectonic plates are in fact shifting, and where they will end up and the earthquakes they will cause is unknowable but very unlikely to be good for much of anybody.

Lessons? Probably a few. The main one might be that countries driven by the voters are not very reliable over the long term, at least usually. Perhaps living under the existential threat of the Soviet Union forced the people of the United States to buckle down and think long-term, but perhaps instead it was the World War Two generation’s horror at what they had to endure to repair the mistakes of their father’s generation that caused the unusual situation. I think it likely was both. There’s something that sharpens the mind, when in elementary school, you are seriously practicing “duck and cover” that the softer generations that followed mine will never know. or maybe they will, on the streets of home, as the terror attacks mount.

But whatever the cause, Obama has thrown away the carefully crafted perception of power that sustained quasi-peace in the middle east for generations. What will replace it, other than deadly chaos, is unknown. Although the Pakistani guaranty of Saudi territorial integrity may provide a gruesome clue.

I do know this, whatever (if anything) that is to replace that chaos, America will have to lead, and the will to do so has been lacking for ten years. If she doesn’t, and that doesn’t really mean she’ll have to intervene that often, but she must show her inflexible will on behalf of her friends, or chaos will ensue, and likely envelop Europe as well.

Syria, Just War, Unlikely Allies, and a Bit More.

So tonight Parliament will vote on joining us, the Russians, the French and some others in air attacks in Syria (they already are in Iraq). It’s a contentious issue, as you might imagine. Obama’s throwing away the belated victory that GEN Petraeus gave us left a foul taste in their mouth, as it did many of ours.

Jeremy Corbin is against it, of course. He is against it as near as I can tell because it might be good for western civilization. That said he may be right, even if for the wrong reasons. David Cameron claims to lead a Christian nation, and in fact, there are many exemplary Christians in the United Kingdom. But if he truly believes that, he should be able to justify intervention on Christian grounds. That is difficult.

When Christian nations go to war (and that is what this amounts to) they should be guided by the Just War Theory. This was mostly written by Thomas Aquinas, and later expanded by The School of Salamanca.  For the most part, we all abide with the Roman Catholic Church’s Just War Doctrine which states:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated (the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition).

And this is where the problem is. There is almost no chance of air strikes achieving peace if the they abide with proportionate force. Those are what in logic we call an “AND Statement”. They all have to be true, and that cannot happen. So Corbyn is arguably right, but because his premise is so wrong, he is essentially eliminated from the discussion.


I see the New York mob has told ISIS that they will protect New Yorkers as well. many are treating it as somewhat of a joke. That’s easy to do, but it’s not all together. If one were to look at World War Two, one would find that the mafia (under Lucky Luciano) had much to do with keeping the Port of New York working smoothly, they do have some power, and it’s not always used for evil. There’s also this, one of my nieces used to live in Brooklyn, in Gambino’s neighborhood, in fact, and during the days when New York was out of control. But not her neighborhood, she says she barely had to lock her car, security was so good, and no, it wasn’t the NYPD. Don’t look gift horses in the mouth, the Mob isn’t a bunch of do-gooders, but when our interests coincide, it’s better to have them on our side than not.


George Will writing in The Washington Post speaks of Hitler, not as a madman, but as the implementor of a coherent worldview. It is a far more scary view than as a madman, especially if we were to apply it to a nuclear Iran. Here’s a bit:

Snyder presents a Hitler more troubling than a madman, a Hitler implementing the logic of a coherent worldview. His life was a single-minded response to an idea so radical that it rejected not only the entire tradition of political philosophy but also the possibility of philosophy, which Hitler supplanted by zoology.

“In Hitler’s world,” Snyder writes, “the law of the jungle was the only law.” The immutable structure of life casts the various human races as separate species. Only races are real and they are locked in mutual and unassuageable enmity, in Hitler’s mind-set, because life is constant struggle over scarcities — of land, food and other necessities.

One group, however, poisoned the planet with another idea. To Hitler, says Snyder, “It was the Jew who told humans that they were above other animals, and had the capacity to decide their future for themselves.” To Hitler, “Ethics as such was the error; the only morality was fidelity to race.”

Source: Does Iran’s anti-Semitism run too deep for deterrence?

Hat tip and more from: Hitler’s worldview

 

I really meant to write today about the ridiculous crony-capitalist fraud-o-rama taking place in Paris this fortnight, but it will have to wait for another day. As long as India says go away, and China and the US are not willing to go back to the thirteenth century standard of living, it’ll be ignored, just as Kyoto was. Another good reason not to elect Hillary! though.

 

 

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