Getting Grand Strategy Wrong Reply

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

One of the iron laws of warfare is that a higher level dominates a lower. You can be brilliant tactically, but if you are defeated operationally, you lose. You can win tactically and operationally, but if you get beaten strategically, you lose. And if you get your grand strategy wrong, you lose no matter how well you did at the lower three levels. The German Army was the best in the world for almost eighty years, but Germany lost both World Wars because its grand strategy was terrible.

Having failed to copy tactical and operational excellence, we now appear instead to be imitating Berlin when it comes to grand strategy. The new national security strategy published by the White House on December 18 is a disaster. The strategy it recommends was obsolete before the ink was dry.

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Neocons Seek War with Iran, Ethic Cleansing of Palestinians Reply

As a I have long suspected.

William S. Lind

Traditional Right

Those of us who supported President Trump in last year’s election because he promised a less interventionist foreign policy need to be aware of a rising danger.  Neo-con influence in the Trump administration seems to be on the increase.  Rumored high-level personnel changes could put neo-cons into key foreign policy positions.  Just as their neo-con predecessors led President George W. Bush into the disastrous Iraq war, a gift that keeps on giving, so today’s neo-cons want a war with Iran.

The obvious question is, how could anyone be so stupid?  War with Iran is a lose-lose proposition.  If the Iranians defeat us, we lose.  If we defeat them, we also lose because there is a high probability the Iranian state would disintegrate and Iran would become another stateless region.  That would be a huge victory for our real enemies, Islamic non-state entities such as Al Qaeda and ISIS that wage Fourth Generation war. 

The neo-cons refuse to see this because they are playing another game, a game driven by the misconceived interests of a foreign power.  To put it bluntly, many influential neo-cons are part and parcel of Israel’s Likud party.  Years ago, around the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, they helped Likud devise a strategy for Israel.  That strategy called for the United States to destroy every Middle Eastern state that could be a threat to Israel.  That was why the neo-cons pushed the Bush administration into war with Iraq.

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A Future Global War between States and Non-State Actors? 1

Bill Lind’s analysis of the emerging world order is absolutely correct. If I were a statist, I would be taking the exact same position as Bill Lind, i.e. that the main threat that states now face is not each other but the rise of  non-state actors and fourth generation warfare forces. The difference is that Bill, being a Hobbesian conservative, is rooting for the statists while I, as an anarchist, am rooting for “the other side.” It is easy enough to envision a future, more radical version of the Non-Aligned Movement of the kind proposed by the International Secessionary Movement, representing a global alliance of startup societies, waging a common insurgency against the emerging global imperial system.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

As President Trump knows well, he has not been very successful in getting the measures he wants through Congress.  One way to improve his chances of doing so is to change the context.

Relations with Russia provide an example.  The president knows our hostility towards Russia makes no sense.  Communism has fallen, we have no interests that should lead us to oppose Russia and Russia is resuming her 19th century role as the most conservative of the great powers.  Russia should be our ally, not our enemy. 

The Washington establishment wants a hostile relationship with Russia because it is still thinking in the context of a world of states in conflict.  Any other powerful state (including China) that does not bow to American hegemony must be seen as an enemy.  The purpose of all the clucking and squawking about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is to scare the administration away from improving relations with Moscow.  Unfortunately, that trick seems to be working. 

But what if the administration responded by changing the context?  President Trump could easily explain to the American people that the real threat we face is not any other state (except perhaps North Korea) but “terrorism” (really 4GW) from non-state entities, of which ISIS is only one.  To beat the terrorists, we need an alliance with Russia and China, because they are the other two great powers.  In fact, that alliance would only be the beginning.  We should work with Moscow and Beijing to create an alliance of all states against violent non-state entities.  If we want a relatively peaceful, ordered, and safe 21st century, that is what we have to do.    

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Sexual Harassment 2

Bill Lind argues that the solution to the recent brouhaha over sexual harassment is a return to Victorian mores. I would make the polar opposite argument,i.e. that present day hysteria over “sexual harassment” is in fact a kind of neo-Victorianism, along with other manifestations of PC, e.g. anti-smoking puritans, the food police, feminist crusades against sex workers, the language police, helicopter parenting, safe spaces, trigger warnings, sensitivity training, etc. All modern nations maintain laws against rape and sexual assault. These are violent crimes that are normally punished severely by the courts. Most functional businesses with competent leadership maintain rules against sexual harassment in the workplace, and terminate employees who violate the rules. Are there people who do all these things anyway, is spite of laws or rules? Yes, just as there are people who commit murder, armed robbery, and burglary even though they are assuming the risk of prison or execution, and there are employees who show up for work intoxicated even though they are risking termination. Nothing more needs to be said.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

No law is more deeply engraved in human nature than that which leads men to make advances towards women and women to flirt with men.  It was written there long before history began, before time began to be reckoned.  Why?  Because it is necessary for the perpetuation of the human race.

Today, cultural Marxism seeks to overturn this law, or at least half of it.  Women are to be allowed to do whatever they want, befitting their “victim” status in cultural Marxism’s hierarchy of saints and sinners.  But men–should one so much as look at a woman with a gleam in his eye, he is to be damned to eternal shame, cast out of public life, deprived of employment, and ordered to undergo psychological “re-education”, presumably so he can become a better person by turning gay.

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The Hezbollah Model Wins Reply

The model that all anarchists and anti-statists need to be studying. One of our objectives should be to develop non-state political and militia confederations that will usurp many of the functions currently provided by states, with the goal of eventually superseding states.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

When we think of ISIS’s enemies, we usually list religions other than Islam, Islamics who reject Sunni puritanism, local states, Western states and so on.  But from the perspective of Fourth Generation war theory, ISIS’s most important competition may be with Hezbollah.  These two Islamic Fourth Generation entities represent two different models of 4GW.  Hezbollah’s model hollows out the state where it is based but leaves it standing.  The ISIS model does away with the state and creates a replacement in the form of a caliphate, which is a pre-state type of government.  (Ironically, the ultra-puritan ISIS proclaimed a caliphate that, under Islamic law, is illegitimate, because the legitimate caliph is still the head of the house of Osman; the Ottoman sultan was also a caliph). 

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President Trump’s Fateful Choice 1

The Trump administration is Republican business as usual, as virtually all serious observers predicted it would be. The great thing about the Trump presidency is not only is Trump generally unpopular outside of his dying right-wing of the WASP middle class “base,” but he is demonstrating that Presidents are simply CEOs of America, Inc., and the state-capitalist oligarchs who serve as the de facto Board of Directors.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

President Trump ran as a Republican, but he did not win as a Republican.  He won as a populist.  If he is to be a successful president and win re-election, he needs to make a fateful choice: will he govern as a populist or as a Republican?  If he chooses the latter, he will fail.

Unfortunately, the president seems to be leaning more and more towards governing as a Republican.  The tax reform proposal he recently offered is classic Republican:  it may benefit the middle class indirectly by creating more jobs, but its direct beneficiaries are high-income people.  One simple change would transform it into a populist measure: a high tax rate, say 75%, on earned incomes over $1,000,000 annually (indexed for inflation).  The people who elected Mr. Trump would cheer.

On the vexing problem of health insurance, the president’s latest action, cutting government subsidies to insurance companies to subsidize low income people, may hurt Trump voters.  Many of his supporters have modest incomes. They are not Republicans with money to burn.  The populist answer to health care is Medicare for all, with Medicare’s ability to control prices.  The origin of the health care affordability problem is grossly excessive prices for anything labelled “medical”. Any policy that does not deal with those prices is a band-aid.

In foreign and defense policy, Trump voters do not want more unnecessary wars halfway around the world that kill our kids and waste our money.  That is the populist position: America first.  If we are attacked, we fight, but why should young Americans die in the centuries-old war between Sunni and Shiite Islamics?  Here again, President Trump seems to be governing as a Republican, not a populist.  Continuing the futile war in Afghanistan, re-involving ourselves on the ground in Iraq, putting “advisors” in Syria, spooling up the long-standing and strategically meaningless war of words with North Korea—none of this is populist.  It all comes from the playbook of Republicans such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who cannot stand the thought that there is a quarrel somewhere in the world in which the U.S. is not involved.

I suspect President Trump knows the Republicans have taken over his administration and pushed the populism that elected him to the side.  Unfortunately, he seems not to know what to do about it.  There are sources of ideas and people from which he could assemble a different, populist-conservative agenda and set of advisors.  I write for one of them, The American Conservative magazine.

What the Republicans in and around the White House do not understand, in addition to the bankruptcy of the Republican “we serve the rich” agenda, is that populism is the wave of the future, both here and in Europe and on the Left as well as the Right.  Establishment Republicans and Democrats alike fear populism.  But to a president elected because he was seen as a populist, the populist wave of the future is one he should seek to ride.  If not President Trump then someone else will combine the Trump and Sanders voters into a new, enduring political majority that will shape America’s future agenda.  In the end, it is not President Trump or Senator Sanders who is important.  It is the people who voted for both.

 

Nazism and Fascism Are Dead Reply

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

On both sides of the political spectrum the words “Nazi” and “Fascist” have come in common use.  I have bad news for both the nuts carrying swastika flags and the thugs known as the “Antifa” (for the “Anti-fascists”): Nazism and Fascism are dead.

Fascism and its younger, illegitimate brother Nazism were products of specific historical circumstances that bear no resemblance to today’s America.  Both sprang from tremendous anger at the outcome of World War I in two countries that suffered heavily in that conflict, Germany and Italy.  Having agreed to an armistice it thought would lead to a peace based on Wilson’s Fourteen Points, Germany was instead handed the Diktat of Versailles, which both humiliated and impoverished the country.  Thanks to her usual treachery, Italy was on the winning side (she was allied to Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914), but the other Allied Powers treated her with contempt and she gained little at the Versailles Conference, after suffering a million casualties.  Italy had the outlook of a defeated country.

Fascism and Nazism were responses to defeat.  They worshipped strength, despised weakness, and sought to leave behind the whole Christian component of Western culture and return to the value system of the ancient world where power was the highest good.  Fatally, both turned an instrumental virtue, will, into a substantive virtue; the act of will was good in itself regardless of what was willed.  This led to such disasters as Mussolini’s entry into World War II, Hitler’s offhand declaration of war on the United States, and the Holocaust.  Italian Fascism was not race-based, but Nazism offered an ideology’s usual single-factor explanation of history in the form of Aryan supremacy.  As the joke ran in Germany, the ideal Aryan was blond like Hitler and slim like Goering.

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Preventing Civil War in the United States Reply

Bill Lind has a proposal that is very similar to certain ATS positions.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

Low-level Fourth Generation war has been underway in the U.S. for some time, largely in the form of gang activities. That is likely to continue, as will occasional terrorist incidents. This low-level warfare is a problem, but it does not threaten the state.

However, the Left’s reaction to the election of Donald Trump as president points to a far more dangerous kind of 4GW on our own soil. Trump’s election signified, among other things, a direct rejection of the Left’s ideology of cultural Marxism, which condemns Whites, men, family-oriented women, conservative blacks, straights, etc. as inherently evil. Not surprisingly, those people finally rebelled against political correctness and elected someone who represents them.

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Korea and the Art of the Deal Reply

Bill Lind on why North Korea is just an extension of traditional Korea.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

As North Korea inches its way toward possessing an ICBM than can hit the United States with a nuclear warhead–both of dubious reliability–we can expect a Korean “crisis” to grow. In fact, there need be no crisis. A deal with North Korea is not difficult to envision, and America now has a president who is good at making deals.

The conventional wisdom presents North Korea as a rogue state ruled by a madman, Kim Jong Un. He, and it, are irrational, dangerous, and impossible to predict. Sanctions having failed, we must pile up more sanctions. There is no alternative to growing hostility between North Korea and the U.S., a course which is likely at some point to lead to war. In the meantime, we must keep thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea, a country far stronger than North Korea.

But there is another way to look at the situation, one that sees continuity rather than irrationality in North Korean policy. For centuries, Korea, then one country, was known as the “Hermit Kingdom”. Like Japan under the last Shogunate, Korea was closed to foreigners, trade, and all outside contact. Its government, a monarchy, was centralized, powerful, and all-controlling. An “ideology” of sorts, Confucianism, was the only tolerated way of thinking. The king was regarded as semi-divine.

From this perspective, today’s North Korea is merely an extension of historic Korea. The Kims are a new dynasty, behaving very much like the old dynasty. North Korea’s legitimacy is rooted in this continuity; it is South Korea, not North Korea, that is a historic anomaly.

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The Fourth Generation vs. an Alliance of States Reply

I generally agree with Bill’s analysis here, although I’m personally rooting for the Fourth Generation forces.

“…we need a new Triple Alliance or Quintuple Alliance, and here as so often in grand strategy context is important. It is, again, the need for all states to work together against Fourth Generation, non-state entities that wage war. The alliance is a means, not an end.

The end is that whenever 4GW manifests itself, wherever it does so, all states work together to defeat it. The power of Fourth Generation entities, or at least some of them, at the moral level of war is so great that, even with all the states in the world against them, beating them will not be easy. Let me say it once more: what is at stake in the 21st century is the state system itself. If events remain on their current course, by the year 2100 the state will probably be just a memory..”

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

The election of Donald Trump opens the door to change and reform in many areas. The most important, in terms of our country’s future, is grand strategy and foreign policy (the latter, understood correctly, is a subset of the former). The United States needs a grand strategy aimed at preserving the state system.

Our present grand strategy was conceived in a world of states in conflict with each other. Its purpose is to make America dominant over all other states. The U.S. is not the first state to attempt this. Like its predecessors, it is failing. No state has ever been powerful enough to establish the “universal monarchy”, as it was once known. Attempts to do so have always resulted in overreach, then fall. Remember, Portugal once ruled half the world.

But the most important thing is not that we reduce our goals to match our power in the world of conflict between states. The most important thing is that we realize Fourth Generation war poses so serious a threat to the whole state system that conflict between states has become obsolete. We need an alliance of all states against Fourth Generation entities. If we and other Great Powers, especially Russia and China, continue to squabble among ourselves, the 21st century is likely to witness the end of the whole state system. Mere anarchy will be loosed upon the world.

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Bill Lind on “Pussycats”–Martin van Creveld’s Important New Book Reply

 

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

Martin van Creveld’s latest book, Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West and What Can Be Done About It, is so important that it re-defines the military reform agenda. Previously, military reform has focused on the problems that have led to America’s repeated military defeats. The issues van Creveld raises in Pussycats suggests we are moving from an American military that can’t win to one that won’t even fight.

The essence of Creveld’s argument is that we (both the U.S. and Western Europe) have de-militarized our military. The introduction of women is one of the factors, but not the only one, although if a military is to fight it must have an aggressively male culture. That is unacceptable not only to the women in the military but to a broadly womanized society and culture. It would not surprise our ancestors to hear that a womanized society can’t fight.

But Creveld looks at influences well beyond womanization. The de-militarizing of our armed forces begins, he argues, with the way we now raise children, especially boys. No longer do they “go out and play”, get into fights, get into difficulties they have to find their own ways out of. Rather, they live controlled, “safe” lives where they always have adult supervision and are instructed in how to do everything before they have to do it. Instead of growing up, they are forever infantilized.

This problem is very real. Recently, I recommended to a friend, a lieutenant colonel at the Marine Corp’s Basic School for new lieutenants, that they reinstitute the “Zen patrol”. In the Zen patrol, which TBS used to do, new lieutenants are simply taken out on a patrol, without having received any instruction in patrolling. They have to figure it out for themselves, which means they also learn how to learn.

My friend replied, “You cannot do that with this generation. In everything they have ever done, they have had adult instruction and supervision. If you don’t first tell them what to do and how to do it, they get angry. They say, “You are setting me up for failure to embarrass me in front of my peers.”

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