April 15, 2006

Adapt or die

I keep hearing Victor Davis Hanson's words in my head as he talked about the Peloponessian War, a War like No Other. The title of his book, specifically. VDH said that the Spartans and the Athens had went out of the classical doctrines of Western conflict. Usually you had two hoplites armies and when they crashed together, the guy who runs is declared the loser and the conflict is settled. No pillaging of villages, no sieges causing death and plague, no immense drainages upon the population and the state's taxation coffers. It was a civil and low cost form of warfare, a war dilineated by limits and rules, which served both side's interests.

And yet, when the Athenians refused to meet the elite Spartan hoplites in the field, and settled for siege mentality, they changed the rules of war. In breaking the rules of war, and "innovating", the Athenians set upon a course of events that would bring ruin and destruction upon the Athenian and Spartan states. Athens lost a huge percentage of their population to the plague, which was caused by the siege. Athens lost even more in that plague than people, she lost her leaders.

Dan Simmon's characterization of the Athenian cause being lost because they weren't ruthless enough in Sicily, is a point. But it is an inaccurate one, however useful it is to the current war scenario. Because Athen's problem was that she was afraid of a decisive conflict with Sparta, and thus delayed the war's conclusion, because Athens believed she would be defeated if she meet the Spartans in the field. Sort of like what AL Qaeda terroists and guerrilas do when fighting against the elite US Marines in urbant combat.

The real solution in the end, wasn't ruthlessness so much as an ability to single mindedly concentrate on the enemy's weaknesses and using those weaknesses to win the war. Athens had a strong navy, but their hoplites were no match for the elite Spartans. Sparta had no navy to match the Athenians. In a way, this dichotomy is the same as the one between the US and our enemies. They have high propaganda and psychological components in their arsenals. We have high conventional and nuclear, Air Land Sea, components in our strengths.

Sparta could not win so long as she had no navy to defeat the Athenians. Because so long as the Athenians had a navy and could get food to besieged Athens, the Athenians believed that they could still win. This belief in victory could only be shattered, as VDH said, if the Spartans defeated the Athenians on their chosen field of ground OR on the other hand if the Athenians fielded a hoplite army and beat Sparta on Sparta's chosen field of battle.

Does that not sound familiar to America and Islamic Jihad? No matter how many cities we bomb, Islamic Jihad won't surrender. And they won't surrender because so long as Islamic Jihad are the masters of intimidation through rape and riots, law and order through execution of 14 year old rape victims and infidels, and various other apparachtiks of the secret police, the Islamic Jihad will never believe that with the tools of psychological war and propaganda on their side that they would ever lose to the Weak Horse of the West.

On the other hand, the United States will never admit defeat, or even come close to it for that matter, unless a nation defeats our navy, our army, and our air force on sea, land, and air. It is only 3 orders of extrapolation on the ancient Spartan vs Athenian war.

So what's the solution? Historically Sparta won by building a damn navy and beating the crap out of the Athenians, who were by now (more than 10 years of war remember) weakened by a loss of leadership and population and wearied by endless wars as well as the demoralizing effect of the Siciliy Invasion that failed. Athens didn't lose because they weren't ruthless, Athens lost because she was too cowardly to face the Spartans on the field of battle and suffer whatever consequences derived, victory or defeat. In trying to "cheat the system" the Athenians only cheated themselves. The Athenians had a hoplite army, that was second only to the Spartans, as witnessed on the fields of Marathon. The Spartans HAD NO Navy. The Spartans at least had the freaking excuse that they were abiding by the rules of war and trying to get the Athenians to fight a man to man conflict.

So unlike Dan Simmon's time travel essay, Sparta more closely resembles the United State's side than the Athenians. Because the guerrilas (which make up like 1% of our enemy) and the terroists are the ones who refuse to fight by any standard flag or rule of law. America doesn't have rape rooms, torture chambers, and head chopping media advertisement companies, so America has the good excuse of not going terror vs terror because we don't have the apparati. The terroists can have and does have a military, but they are like Athens, they want to cheat because they fear they will lose if they fight the West on equal terms. I.E. israel.

The solution applied to the real world is pretty simple. Either the US learns to use propaganda and psychological warfare to defeat the terroist's use of rape rooms and intimidation tactics, or the terroists learn how to win conventional wars and defeat one of our divisions.

That is the ONLY solution possible between Islamic Jihad vs the United States of America. What complicates the situation is the fact that other nations and sides are coming into play. Russia, China, Europe, Japan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and it goes on and on. OIF seems to me simply to be a clumsy attemt to translate conventional military power into propaganda power and psychological impact. Through taking the war to the enemy, this instills a deep psychological impact upon our enemies and helps to defeat much of the enemy's propaganda concerning the paper tiger and the Satan rapist Americans. It alone won't win, because it is still using your strengths, conventional military, to offset your weaknesses. You are not doing as Sun Tzu ordered, which is make your weaknesses into strengths, through understanding of thy self and thy enemy.

Psychological warfare is something Iran is an expert in, most people would agree if they knew the facts, and most experts do agree. The only way Iran will back down is if we beat them at their own game. If we had penetrated the UN Oil for Food Program and executed Kofi Annan and all his cronies before Operation Iraqi Freedom, there would probably be a 50% increase in the chance that Saddam would accede to our demands. You trade the deaths of 1000 plus Americans for the deaths of a few UN bureacrats. This would not have helped Saddam's victims, but Bush didn't expect the UN to help anybody for humanitarian reasons in the FIRST PLACE, hence WMDs and not "Darfur Genocide must prevent".

The goals are immaterial, either they are worthy or they are not. The means to achieve those goals have never changed. If you don't beat the enemy at their game, the enemy won't surrender or accede to your demands. Because only when the enemy has no options or strengths to apply against the united states, will the enemy BELIEVE that they are operating from a position of weakness and back down like the submissive dogs that they are.

As mentioned of the Germans. The Hun is either at your throat or at your feet. The heirarchy of a alpha male dog pack. The Islamic world will never recognize the suzerainity of the United States unless and until they meet such a psychological shock and propaganda defeat, that their minds are broken.

And the only conventional weapon that is available in the United States arsenal to cause such shock and awe are nuclear weapons. Conventional military arms are great for blowing up munitions and armies, but they are not so good at winning propaganda and psychological wars. Nuclear bombs are the perfect weapon to break an enemy's will and spirit, because nuclear bombs are conventional when used against military targets but unconventional if used as a psychological ploy and intimidation strategy. Iran knows this very well, better than Bush for sure.

The only people who can't think outside the "let's bomb them into the stone age" line are the ones who won't consider the Nuclear Option. They seem to understand that air strikes won't break the Iranian will, but they curiously won't tell you what Will Break their will. You have to wonder why.

CLARIFICATION The nuclear option is the most effective when it doesn't kill anyone, and it is the most effective when chained together in more than one use. Nukes are dual use, for both conventional war and psychological war. The US has one psychological weapon it need not R and D from zero. The other PsyWar weapon the US has is called the Special Forces. Release the SF unto the enemy and watch the screams fill the air as a resounding cry of despair.

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