April 13, 2006

Asymmetrical warfare and the invasion of Iran

As an intro, most of the steve/grackle stuff is at the end. Comments were written in chronological order as I read from top to bottom here. The 3 problems steve's article brought up, was particularly problematic.

It's amazing people still believe in the need for more conventional forces in the 21st century. It's like people are stuck in the Dark Ages and want more knights, even when the longbowmen shoot them down like mice. It's rather ridiculous when you think about it. Because if a conventional army can only take over two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, before getting broken, then asking for "more" conventional units is sorta unwise and ridiculous, if not criminally incompetent.

The best way to not do something is to say that your only option is full scale invasion, in which he thinks you aren't capable of. It's a stupid policy, to limit the options in any project. It's even more saboteur orientated to limit somebody else's options cause your project is suffering from internally created problems.

For people who can't think outside the box, stopping Iran is a non-sequitor. They are far more interested in a negotiated settlement, like Europe and Spank. It would seem that if you've lived through one negotiated settlement in the Cold War, it now doesn't seem to matter what else happens, negotiated settlment must be the only option. So people complain about nuking Iran, yes, but not because it is an extreme one of two binary sets of solutions, but rather because it increases the choices. The more choices you have, the less likely a negotiated settlement looks beneficial. Or any other unworkable choice, like full out invasion. And that, to various people for various reasons, is unacceptable that their pet policy won't get implemented.

The EMP scenario is not as dangerous as people think it is. If you study the underlying physics, it would take a huge bomb and thus huge uranium or plutonium stock piles, to make an EMP burst at high alt that would burn out civilian infrastructure long enough and far enough. Simply because if you blow it up at low alt, the radiation will be more severe but the damage will be localized. Higher, and the damage will be broader, but lesser in severity. This doesn't mean that an industrial city isn't a weak point, but it does mean that the Flyover Country is pretty much safe all things considered. Probably a 10X 9/11 attack, depending on the yield of the nuke and early warning systems.

Do we have any of those EMP thingys?

Environmentalists and the UN banned them. Bush might have the plans in secret installations though. Any nuke can be configured for EMP, you just need a 100 megaton nuke. Instead of the piddly 5 kiloton tacticals.

Most Americans don't think nor care about how many Iranians support Amadinejad. In issues of nation vs nation, the leaders make the choices and the rest suffer what they may. One of the benefits of the War on Terror, ex post facto the War on Islamic head choppers, is that America is far less the flightly kitey little adolescent dreaming of admiration and love in the world. We've toughened up, given all the criticism and abuse the world has heaped on us. We might have cared what other nations might have thought of us a few decades ago, but in today's world the only Americans that do care are the elitists, the guilty rich, and the pundits. The American heart land usually doesn't. They never did in fact.

As was mentioned before, America's job is not to wait for other nations to get their house in order. We don't do it for Afghanistan, we don't do it for Mexico, and we sure didn't do it for Iraq. Other nations might slide like venezuella, but not in the Middle East. In historical geo political terms, what the populations on either side thought of a conflict didn't really matter squat. It didn't matter in WWI when Germanic descended Americans faced their Germanic cousins across the trench lines, it didn't matter in WWII when American GIs realized that the no good French they sacrificed thousands to save were less similar to Americans than the clean, orderly, and disciplined Germans that they had come to fight. These things, these popular affinities, have never mattered and perhaps they will never matter so long as there is a war ongoing. In a state of peace, much can be done to solidify relationships, look at Japan and America for example. We have Dragon Ball Z and Japanese anime, the Japanese mandate everyone learn English. If that's not cultural affinity, I don't know what is. But it would never have existed had the war not ended. Wars first, get togethers afterwards is the rule.

There is no "right way to do war" as steve claims. Wars change as politics change. When the strategic scenario changes, so must the war strategy. There is no right way to wage war. Al Qaeda's guerrila strategy is as much war as Apache helicopters data linked and firing in pinpoint computer controlled salvoes at targets beyond human vision. The more war is mutable while flowing and not limited by artificial constraints, the more effective the war becomes at resolving conflicts and the lesser the casualties accrued in the fighting.

The more options that are sought and planned for, which doesn't just contain draft, declare war, invade or appease, bribe, and stall, the higher the chances for ultimate victory. These choices don't come out of the blue, they result from other actions take in the past, leading irrevocably to current options today. Just as a man who must take one road in his life, will be at a different end point than if he had taken another road early on in his life. These things must be done before the actual conflict, and it involves choosing, the wisdom of choice, and the judgement of action.

The fantasy that you should artificially restrict the options in an armed conflict to international rules and man made political restraints, is a dangerous fantasy. Sometimes it can work, but most of the time it backfires if the other guy doesn't play by your fantastical rules.

As was argued in military circles, universal conscription is the real life product of fortification in the universe of gunpowder and nuclear weapons. Volunteer armies are more motivated, more highly trained, less prone to casualties and cluster pock ups compared to univeral conscription forces which are demoralized, less mobile, less motivated, and less well trained.

It is a political solution to manpower and war, universal conscription is not a military solution at all. Because no military person would voluntarily become less well trained, less motivated, more prone to casualties, less mobile, and less aggressive. Unless he was a military lawyer, of course. Those breeds are independent of civilian or military backgrounds.

Narges: Hi, I hope you survive the hell bent for leather bombing of your country that will take place if and when the Blogosphere takes control of the White House, but if you don't, well, what can I say? It was nice knowing you.

It is this dangerous fantastical fantasy, as quoted here, that is the real problem. Psychological attack vectors in war relying upon well trained and motivated shock and assault forces like the Special Forces operators, Seals, Marines, Marine Recon are the solution to terrorism, whether of the lone wolf variety or the state sponsored upgrade.

Many people in the blogosphere don't really understand nor prefer regular armed column warfare as was the case for the Cold War enthusiasts. Neo here, probably missed out on the whole argument for the M1A1 Abrams tank to protect against Russian tank assault lanes in Europe. But that's okay, in a sense, because what you need in a war to the knife against guerrila forces is not more tanks and garrison troops, but in fact more mobility, more precision, and more well trained troops. The one thing the blogosphere understands beyond anything else a regular military person would, is the power of the word in peace and conflict.

The binary solution set advocated here, of full scale nuclear/conv bombing or full scale invasion, is probably the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Not because it is based upon ignorance, but because it is based upon artificial limits and constraints. While clandestine and psychological operations cannot solve everything, it can solve more than nuclear bombardment or full invasions can.

Steve, for example, does not prefer bombing or full scale nuclearization of Iran. He does favor full scale mobilization of a bunch of garrison troops that are good for nothing but cannon fodder. Because steve sees the universe through the binary eyes of Truth and Falsity, he is surprised the opposition would favor air strikes. But the real fact is that the opposition does not favor air strikes, the opposition favors what works. As demonstrated by Talkin's honest demand for real solutions. A military commander who will not ask for better solutions in the face of criticism, is a retarded commander and should be relieved of his command and responsibilities.

People who ask "Why don't you support universal conscription" instead of asking "If you don't like uni conscript, do you got anything better that'll work", is not a person with the wisest of judgements here.

The fact is that the volunteer military allows the government to committ the military to more wars. This is due to the politics of the matter. Many Americans don't give a damn so long as the draft isn't in effect. Having 3 simultaneous wars, Afghanistan Iraq Iran, going on is very feasible and do able. That would not be feasible with a draft, which is why the Democrats instituted attempts at getting the draft back. It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a republican or an Indepent or someone like steve who is right of center, it only matters what your policies are and who your allies are and how your policies will work.

The volunteer military is a lot more mobile than a bunch of garrison frackers newly leased from California the land of the free medicare or the People's Republic of Mass. It takes years to blood a conscripted force, and casualties are usually horrendous in the process. The more troops you have, the more they will be placed on garrison duty. Soldiers that are not career, that are not professional, that are not trained in urbant combat, will be eaten up by the Iranians and will surrender in Droves ala Najaf. Militarily, that's not a problem, troops get better through fighting. Politically and psychologically, any American defeats or unprofessionalism costs the war effort boat loads of support and momentum.

The univeral conscription advocates do not see the consequences of their policies because their policies are geared towards a Cold War mentality. If it is not the "Deal" of Spank, it is the "Full out WWII scenario" of Steve. Neither works.

in numbers and mass as well as quality -- the means with which we fight,

For people blinded by Cold War mentalities and meat grinder military campaigns, this means more troops and conscripts. To those who focus on the Art of War, and winning without a fight, the quote simply advocates that if you increase your selection of weapons and their mass and quality, this will enable you to fight a better war by better means.

I think the meaning is clear enough.

Things can mean whatever people decide it means. People see the Golden Shrine blowing up, and understand it to an attempt to cause chaos in Iraq. Iranians see the Golden Shrine, and believe it is a op done by Americans to get more Muslims killed.

Things mean whatever I decide they mean, so long as I can convince enough people of the fact. In the age of the Cold War and nuclear weapons, that might not have been so effective because the stakes were laid out on the table, but in the 21st century the bluff has come back in full.

The American people, and American society, has to be prepared for sacrifice, real sacrifice, and a real call to duty.

Duty comes from choosing it, for death is lighter than a feather while duty is heavier than mountains. There is no duty nor honor nor patriotism when forced by law and decree. There is no justice in the Rule of Judges deciding what people should or should not die for, who or whose property this really is, or whether punishment is a valid societal function for rapists.

Most military gamers agree that you won't win through aerial assaults because you need to take ground territory with the grunts and the tanks, and physically occupy it. To do so, you need highly motivated troops prepared for urban combat, not conscripts taken from a pool of civilians with more brain power than guts. But Iran isn't conducting a war with their nukes, they are conducting a psychological operation, and that is rather different from a war which requires victory through occupation of land and territory.

The bureacracy can't separate talent from incompetence or merit from insanity, with a draft. Trusting the government to do the right thing, is the wrong thing to do.

For example, these people are so incompetent they will list 3 problems and can't even provide the solutions. Something even I could do concerning these.

* The United States was too late. Iran’s leaders had learned from what happened to Saddam Hussein in 1981, when Israeli F-16s destroyed a facility at Osirak where most of his nuclear projects were concentrated. Iran spread its research to at least a dozen sites—exactly how many, and where, the U.S. government could not be sure.
[If you can't use air power to destroy the target, use air power to effect a political resolution through terror and intimidation. If you can't get the target through regular means, use deception, if you can't use deception, go around and come at the problem from another direction. Restricting yourself to air strikes is pretty dumb, and obvious.]
* The United States was too vulnerable. Iran, until now relatively restrained in using its influence among the Iraqi Shiites, “could make Iraq hell,” in the words of one of our experts, Kenneth Pollack, of the Brookings Institution. It could use its influence on the world’s oil markets to shock Western economies—most of all, that of the world’s largest oil importer, the United States.
[I'm pretty sure Iran isn't restraining themselves in Iraq for our benefit. In other words, Pollack would prefer that Iran keep their goodies in the bag, thereby allowing Iran the decision when to open up murder and destruction in Iraq, instead of giving the initiative to America. Not very patriotic nor aggressive enough to win. Maybe people haven't realized this, but "Iraq is hell". Go ahead and make it worse, it's not going to matter in the end because if you could have overthrown our strategy there, you would already have done so. I'm also pretty sure America can make Iran vulnerable through annexation of territory and aerial bombardment of roads and transport. We could use our influence to shock the economy of the West, thereby driving up oil prices for everyone, including China and Russia. Maybe Kenneth should have realized what the "asy" meant in asymmetrical.
* The plan was likely to backfire, in a grand-strategy sense. At best, it would slow Iranian nuclear projects by a few years. But the cost of buying that time would likely be a redoubling of Iran’s determination to get a bomb—and an increase in its bitterness toward the United States.

[Right, sure, maybe Iran will get so bitter they'll actually blow up or take hostage one of our embassies. Who are these talking "experts" kidding here? That's like saying, it is a detriment to piss off Al Qaeda cause they will execute American citizens that they capture... Hello, peaceful idiots, haven't they already been doing that? How do you redouble Iran's determination, is that like getting someone to die twice for jihad? 2X 72 Virgins in heaven now, is that it? We'll get people to stop killing, cause we'll just give them TWO, call it TWO, life sentences instead of one... ha. Right, we'll improve their love of women, with get this, TWO, TWO I say, pardons for rape. That'll "redouble" their love for peace.]

What's scary is that these people seem to be serious. They just don't get what asymmetrical warfare in the 21st century really means. It's not tank columns, it's not UN diplomacy, it is not international arms treaties or agreements, and it really isn't about who gets pissed off about who did what to whom.

Similarly, the United States can’t accept Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power, but it cannot prevent this through military means—unless it is willing to commit itself to all-out war.

I think that's the real argument summarized. Some people believe the US can't prevent Iranian nuclear ambitions unless it is willing to commit itself to all out war. I don't believe that's the right analysis of the problem, but people like steve really do. And that's the problem. Those who limit their options, are not doing their fellow Americans a service by tieing one hand behind our backs cause of their say so.

The reality is, of course, that if the only way to stop Iranian ambitions is to invade, then that is the opposite of pragmatism and realism. Realism understands that asymmetrical wars in the 21st century is not like wars of the 20th. Pragmatists understand that there is more than one binary solution set, of 1 wrong and 1 right answer. Pragmatists understand that there are many good and many bad decisions.

The only wishful thinking involved here, is the emphasis that all out war through full scale invasion is the only thing that can stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and technology.

Sometimes you really need to stick that sword in the scabbard and not cut off people's heads. Sometimes, as hard as it is to believe, a Bigger Hammer Approach, is the absolute wrong thing to do. Not often, but the Asymmetrical Warfare of the 21st century has given the United States unfettered capability and freedom to Wage War without Waging War.

We can sanction a nation, we can take his air space away from him, and people think we are not at war. There are many many other things we can do. The only variable is whether Bush has the guts to do them against the criticism of Both the Right and the Left. Whether that be Murtha of the Marines on the Left or Steve of the Marines on the Right.

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