T Nation

The 'Long War' Fallacy

Op-ed from anti-war conservative, retired U.S. Army colonel, and BU professor Andrew Bacevich:

Donald Rumsfeld is today a discredited and widely reviled figure. Robert Gates, Rumsfeld’s successor as Defense secretary, is generally admired for manifesting qualities that Rumsfeld lacked – a willingness to listen not least among them.

Yet on one crucial point, the two see eye to eye: Both believe that the United States has no alternative but to wage a global war likely to last decades.

In the wake of 9/11, Rumsfeld wasted no time in telling Americans what to expect. "Forget about ‘exit strategies,’ " he said on Sept. 28, 2001, “we’re looking at a sustained engagement that carries no deadlines.”

Speaking at West Point last month, Gates echoed his predecessor’s assessment: “There are no exit strategies,” he announced. Instead, Gates described a “generational campaign” entailing “many years of persistent, engaged combat all around the world.”

For the United States, the prospect of permanent war now beckons.

Well into the first decade of this generational struggle, Americans remained oddly confused about its purpose. Is the aim to ensure access to cheap and abundant oil? Spread democracy? Avert nuclear proliferation? Perpetuate the American empire? Preserve the American way of life? From the outset, the enterprise that Gates now calls the “Long War” has been about all of these things and more.

Back in September 2001, Rumsfeld put it this way: “We have a choice – either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way that they live; and we chose the latter.” In this context, “they” represent the billion or so Muslims inhabiting the greater Middle East.

When Rumsfeld offered this statement of purpose and President Bush committed the United States to open-ended war, both assumed that U.S. military supremacy was beyond dispute. At the time, most Americans shared that assumption. A conviction that “the troops” were unstoppable invested the idea of transforming the greater Middle East with a superficial plausibility.

Yet by the time Gates spoke last month, the limits of American military power had long since become apparent. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the opening rounds of the generational campaign are now well underway.

By historical standards, each qualifies as a fairly small war. In neither case, however, have U.S. forces been able to achieve decisive victory. In both cases, barring drastic changes in U.S. policy, fighting will drag on for years to come.

In the meantime, what has the Long War achieved? The answer to that question is indisputable: not much. Counting on military might to change the way they live isn’t working. If anything, the effort has backfired.

Since 2001, the price of oil per barrel has quadrupled, adversely affecting all but the wealthiest Americans. Efforts to spread democracy have either stalled or succeeded only in enhancing the standing of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

The much-hyped Iraqi nuclear threat turned out to be illusory. To sustain the overstretched American imperium, we are accumulating debt at a staggering clip. And with U.S. soldiers shouldering repetitive combat tours, the strength of our army slowly ebbs away.

Meanwhile, the immediate danger to the American way of life comes not from terrorists but from our own adamant refusal to live within our means. American profligacy, not Islamic radicals, triggered the mortgage crisis that underlies our current economic distress.

Bluntly, the Long War has proved to be a monumental flop. Yet Gates, channeling Rumsfeld, would have us believe that perpetual war constitutes the sole option available to the world’s most powerful nation. This represents a profound failure of imagination. It also misreads our own history.

The truth is that the United States, with rare exceptions, has demonstrated little talent for changing the way others live. We have enjoyed far greater success in making necessary adjustments to our own way of life, preserving and renewing what we value most.

Early in the 20th century, Progressives rounded off the rough edges of the Industrial Revolution, deflecting looming threats to social harmony. During the Depression, FDR’s New Deal reformed capitalism and thereby saved it. Here lies the real genius of American politics.

Rumsfeld got it exactly backward. Although we do face a choice, it’s not the one that he described. The actual choice is this one: We can either persist in our efforts to change the way they live – in which case the war of no exits will surely lead to bankruptcy and exhaustion.

Or we can recognize the folly of generational war and choose instead to put our own house in order: curbing our appetites, paying our bills and ending our self-destructive dependency on foreign oil and foreign credit.

Salvation does not lie abroad. It’s here at home.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
Back in September 2001, Rumsfeld put it this way: “We have a choice – either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way that they live; and we chose the latter.” [/quote]

I’m having trouble believing the validity of this quote. I found it in a couple of websites, but the DoD link they point out to seems dead. There’s of course, the possibility that the military realized how stupid it sounded and decided to erase all traces of it.

I’m commenting on some selected excerpts.

*Note: edited for formatting.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:

By historical standards, each qualifies as a fairly small war. In neither case, however, have U.S. forces been able to achieve decisive victory. In both cases, barring drastic changes in U.S. policy, fighting will drag on for years to come.[/quote]

If we insist on defining “decisive victory” non-militarily we son’t win a decisive victory. The military victories were crushing - but we don’t want to reduce the countries to simple rubble, we don’t want to take over ourselves, and we do want to install regimes that will be stable when we reduce forces.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:

Since 2001, the price of oil per barrel has quadrupled, adversely affecting all but the wealthiest Americans. Efforts to spread democracy have either stalled or succeeded only in enhancing the standing of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. [/quote]

The price of oil is driven by this how?

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
The much-hyped Iraqi nuclear threat turned out to be illusory. To sustain the overstretched American imperium, we are accumulating debt at a staggering clip. And with U.S. soldiers shouldering repetitive combat tours, the strength of our army slowly ebbs away.[/quote]

http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2008/05/notes-on-our-overstretched-military.html

Also, during World War II, some the US spent as much as 30% of GDP on the war. The Korean War, at its spending peak in 1953, represented 14% of GDP; Vietnam was about 9%. The current war, however, is less than 1% of America’s annual $13 trillion GDP.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
Meanwhile, the immediate danger to the American way of life comes not from terrorists but from our own adamant refusal to live within our means. American profligacy, not Islamic radicals, triggered the mortgage crisis that underlies our current economic distress.[/quote]

Glad he has diagnosed the global credit crisis so well…

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
Bluntly, the Long War has proved to be a monumental flop. Yet Gates, channeling Rumsfeld, would have us believe that perpetual war constitutes the sole option available to the world’s most powerful nation. This represents a profound failure of imagination. It also misreads our own history.[/quote]

Seems a bit premature… And generally he has defined this straw man of the “long war” to argue against - then set its parameters. I want to see the context of Gates’ position - much like McCain was taken completely out of context with his “100 years” comments, I’d bet there’s a lot of that going on here.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
Early in the 20th century, Progressives rounded off the rough edges of the Industrial Revolution, deflecting looming threats to social harmony. During the Depression, FDR’s New Deal reformed capitalism and thereby saved it. Here lies the real genius of American politics.

[/quote]

I thought these guys generally didn’t like the “Imperial Presidency”…

http://www.reason.com/news/show/126020.html

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
I’m commenting on some selected excerpts.

…[/quote]

Nice response to what was generally a rant that he was likely paid to make.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
If we insist on defining “decisive victory” non-militarily we son’t win a decisive victory. The military victories were crushing - but we don’t want to reduce the countries to simple rubble, we don’t want to take over ourselves, and we do want to install regimes that will be stable when we reduce forces. [/quote]

It’s got nothing to do with stability and everything to do with being Washington’s bitch.

Are you serious? Can’t you see how the shithole you turned Iraq into is affecting oil prices?

So? The US is still “accumulating debt at a staggering clip” and its military has definitely been compromised (however small it may be) by the war on Iraq. That was the article’s claim.

So you don’t think the war on Iraq played a role in the dollar’s fall?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
I’m commenting on some selected excerpts.


GDollars37 wrote:
The much-hyped Iraqi nuclear threat turned out to be illusory. To sustain the overstretched American imperium, we are accumulating debt at a staggering clip. And with U.S. soldiers shouldering repetitive combat tours, the strength of our army slowly ebbs away.

http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2008/05/notes-on-our-overstretched-military.html

Also, during World War II, some the US spent as much as 30% of GDP on the war. The Korean War, at its spending peak in 1953, represented 14% of GDP; Vietnam was about 9%. The current war, however, is less than 1% of America’s annual $13 trillion GDP.

[/quote]

These numbers vary quite a bit depending on how the accounting is done. The figures for Korea and Vietnam in particular are total military spending whereas the 1% quoted for Iraq is limited to covering supplementary funding alone. The US is currently spending 5-6% of GDP on military expenditures. This leaves out some very large longer term costs and liabilities which would be difficult to estimate even in historical wars, much less the present one.

[quote]
BostonBarrister wrote:
The price of oil is driven by this how?

lixy wrote:
Are you serious? Can’t you see how the shithole you turned Iraq into is affecting oil prices?[/quote]

The price of oil has increased by around 200% (from about $40/barrel to about $120/barrel), not adjusting for inflation.

Prior to 2003, Saddam’s oil was blocked from the market, except for Oil for Food. Iraq’s oil has been coming back on line since at least 2005 - but the increase in the price of oil has been driven by a couple factors: demand pressures from India and China, and inflation in the dollar, in which oil is priced.

You can see the dollar effect by comparing the prices of other commodities that aren’t found in Iraq, like gold.

[quote]
BostonBarrister wrote:
Also, during World War II, some the US spent as much as 30% of GDP on the war. The Korean War, at its spending peak in 1953, represented 14% of GDP; Vietnam was about 9%. The current war, however, is less than 1% of America’s annual $13 trillion GDP.

lixy wrote:
So? The US is still “accumulating debt at a staggering clip” and its military has definitely been compromised (however small it may be) by the war on Iraq. That was the article’s claim.[/quote]

What’s the “staggering clip” by historical standards, in comparison with GDP?

And the article was claiming a lot more than a small compromise - if a small compromise of the military would lead to catastrophe like the article’s implication, then you could really never use the military for any long-term engagement.

The general overspending of the government, which includes Iraq spending, has had a negative effect on the dollar - but the negative effect on the dollar isn’t the cause of the credit crisis. Bernanke induced more inflation as a response to the credit crisis, to try to make sure we didn’t fall into a deep recession or a depression (and it looks like he’s succeeded, again at the cost of some inflation).

[quote]
BostonBarrister wrote:
I’m commenting on some selected excerpts.


GDollars37 wrote:
The much-hyped Iraqi nuclear threat turned out to be illusory. To sustain the overstretched American imperium, we are accumulating debt at a staggering clip. And with U.S. soldiers shouldering repetitive combat tours, the strength of our army slowly ebbs away.

http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2008/05/notes-on-our-overstretched-military.html

Also, during World War II, some the US spent as much as 30% of GDP on the war. The Korean War, at its spending peak in 1953, represented 14% of GDP; Vietnam was about 9%. The current war, however, is less than 1% of America’s annual $13 trillion GDP.

etaco wrote:
These numbers vary quite a bit depending on how the accounting is done. The figures for Korea and Vietnam in particular are total military spending whereas the 1% quoted for Iraq is limited to covering supplementary funding alone. The US is currently spending 5-6% of GDP on military expenditures. This leaves out some very large longer term costs and liabilities which would be difficult to estimate even in historical wars, much less the present one. [/quote]

OK - so I’ll take that 5-6% figure - but how much of the military expenditures would be avoided if we weren’t in Iraq? In other words, what’s the “peace-time” expenditure?

Also, for the historical comparisons, the point was that our economy is using less of its capacity for this war as compared to previous wars. So I’m assuming that 1) the numbers for the previous wars similarly don’t reflect the longer-term costs and 2) that they should be roughly equivalent or slightly less on a per-soldier basis than in previous wars. But again, unless the previous war numbers included those costs, these numbers are sufficient for my point.

What do you call a conflict with those who are mandated to wage jihad under the banner of “La ilaha ilallah?” It’s been going on since around 600 AD.

Of course, we don’t have to let them into the country. That would certainly prevent them from further acts of terror. But that would violate the PC dogma.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
BostonBarrister wrote:
I’m commenting on some selected excerpts.

Nice response to what was generally a rant that he was likely paid to make.[/quote]

Huh? Do you know anything about Andrew Bacevich?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
I’m commenting on some selected excerpts.

*Note: edited for formatting.

GDollars37 wrote:

By historical standards, each qualifies as a fairly small war. In neither case, however, have U.S. forces been able to achieve decisive victory. In both cases, barring drastic changes in U.S. policy, fighting will drag on for years to come.

If we insist on defining “decisive victory” non-militarily we son’t win a decisive victory. The military victories were crushing - but we don’t want to reduce the countries to simple rubble, we don’t want to take over ourselves, and we do want to install regimes that will be stable when we reduce forces.
[/quote]

How is military “decisive victory” possible in either place anytime soon? Oh yeah, that’s why it’s the “Long War.”

Yes, growing demand in China and India matter more, but there is a huge risk premium on oil, wait and see what happens when we bomb Iran.

Leaving aside etaco’s point, which is a good one, there is a world of difference between WWII and dealing with Al Qaeda and its ilk. Anyone who buys into Norman Podhoretz’s “World War IV” is an idiot, plain and simple.

And the bigger issue anyway is manpower. We don’t have the manpower to fight two major occupations/wars anymore. Look at recruiting, or better, ask anyone who is in. This is particularly true of junior and mid-grade officers, but take a look at how the Army has lowered standards. Absent a draft, this situation is not sustainable long-term, as generals like McAffrey and Casey have been warning for a while now.

I generally like Gates, I think he’s been the best Secretary of Defense in a long time, but I think framing fighting terrorism as the “Long War” is a bad idea for many reasons, including the ones Bacevich mentioned.

Generally. Maybe he’s not as unequivocal on these things.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
BostonBarrister wrote:
I’m commenting on some selected excerpts.

Nice response to what was generally a rant that he was likely paid to make.

Huh? Do you know anything about Andrew Bacevich?[/quote]

He is an anti-war conservative, retired U.S. Army colonel, and BU professor.

He also wrote a disconnected rant. F.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:

How is military “decisive victory” possible in either place anytime soon? Oh yeah, that’s why it’s the “Long War.”[/quote]

The decisive military victories were achieved very quickly in both instances. We chose to let the armies retreat instead of destroying them - a moral decision, and a political one. Now we’re essentially doing police work and small-scale ops, in furtherance of political goals. Even the “battles” are essentially clearing operations against small-scale forces. There hasn’t been a real battle in 4 years.

[quote]
GDollars37 wrote:

Since 2001, the price of oil per barrel has quadrupled, adversely affecting all but the wealthiest Americans. Efforts to spread democracy have either stalled or succeeded only in enhancing the standing of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

BostonBarrister wrote:
The price of oil is driven by this how?

GDollars37 wrote:
Yes, growing demand in China and India matter more, but there is a huge risk premium on oil, wait and see what happens when we bomb Iran.[/quote]

We’re in a long-term upcycle for commodities prices. Not that you’ll recall this prediction, but I think the price increases will slow but continue at a high level for another 5 years or so - maybe a little longer - just long enough to where everyone thinks it’s no longer possible for it to reverse and the large-scale investments into commodity supplies have a chance to come on-line - and then the bottom will fall out like it did in the 80s.

[quote]
GDollars37 wrote:
The much-hyped Iraqi nuclear threat turned out to be illusory. To sustain the overstretched American imperium, we are accumulating debt at a staggering clip. And with U.S. soldiers shouldering repetitive combat tours, the strength of our army slowly ebbs away.

BostonBarrister wrote:
http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2008/05/notes-on-our-overstretched-military.html

Also, during World War II, some the US spent as much as 30% of GDP on the war. The Korean War, at its spending peak in 1953, represented 14% of GDP; Vietnam was about 9%. The current war, however, is less than 1% of America’s annual $13 trillion GDP.

GDollars37 wrote:
Leaving aside etaco’s point, which is a good one, there is a world of difference between WWII and dealing with Al Qaeda and its ilk. Anyone who buys into Norman Podhoretz’s “World War IV” is an idiot, plain and simple.

And the bigger issue anyway is manpower. We don’t have the manpower to fight two major occupations/wars anymore. Look at recruiting, or better, ask anyone who is in. This is particularly true of junior and mid-grade officers, but take a look at how the Army has lowered standards. Absent a draft, this situation is not sustainable long-term, as generals like McAffrey and Casey have been warning for a while now.[/quote]

With the financial point, your article was doom and gloom for finance - the point isn’t that al Queda is WWII, the point is what the economy can support in terms of spending.

Regarding manpower, the link above has to do with the various services attaining their quotas - and the Marines, the most combat-intensive of the services, doing the best job. They’ve been doing a good job with that lately. I do have a buddy who does recruiting for the Air Force, and he’s had a record year.

BTW, nothing ever seems to be sustainable for the “long term,” which, if you define it as long-term enough, is probably true… WWII lasted from 1939-1945 - it wasn’t sustainable long-term.

ADDENDUM: Of course, the Cold War lasted for 44 years, but it probably wasn’t sustainable for the “long-term” either. All in the definitions…

[quote]How is military “decisive victory” possible in either place anytime soon? Oh yeah, that’s why it’s the “Long War.”

[/quote]

Have you ever heard of the term “4th Generation War”?

It’s all to laugh, but it’s not funny.

Is Nato repeating the USSR’s Afghan mistakes

[i]Twenty years ago today the tanks and armoured cars started to rumble north out of Kabul as the Soviet Union began its withdrawal from Afghanistan after eight-and-a-half years of war.

The mujahideen, backed by money and weapons from an alliance of the United States, Britain, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, had beaten a world superpower.

Today the country is scattered with reminders of the Soviet occupation - you don’t have to go far even in Kabul to stumble across the rusting wrecks they left behind.

The aptly named Zamir Kabulov first arrived in Afghanistan as a young Soviet diplomat in 1977 and has lived through the last turbulent 30 years of this country’s misfortunes.

Now he is Russian ambassador in Kabul and his voice of experience will ring in the ears of today’s Nato- and US-led forces.

“There is no mistake made by the Soviet Union that was not repeated by the international community here in Afghanistan,” Mr Kabulov said, listing the problems.

“Underestimation of the Afghan nation, the belief that we have superiority over Afghans and that they are inferior and they cannot be trusted to run affairs in this country.”

His list goes on.

“A lack of knowledge of the social and ethnic structure of this country; a lack of sufficient understanding of traditions and religion.”

Not only that, but he says they the country’s new patrons are making their own new mistakes as well.

“Nato soldiers and officers alienate themselves from Afghans - they are not in touch in an everyday manner. They communicate with them from the barrels of guns in their bullet-proof Humvees.”

And he admits to some satisfaction, watching those who once backed the mujahideen now suffering in the same way.

“To some extent, yes, I would not hide that. But I am even more satisfied by not having Russian soldiers among Isaf [Nato’s International Security Assistance Force] because I don’t want them to suffer the same results, implications your soldiers are suffering.”

After the Soviet withdrawal the mujahideen turned on each other and tore Afghanistan apart.

Kabul crumbled in the civil war as the various factions rocketed at each other across the city, killing thousands of civilians.

Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, a mujahideen leader and prime minister in exile during the 1990s, admits they failed in the years following the Soviet withdrawal.

He is now an opponent of the government who stood against President Hamid Karzai in the last election and also draws parallels between the 1980s and the current international mission.

“The Russians were beaten because they invaded our country. They were the transgressors, not us,” he said.

And asked how the Soviet occupation compared to today’s mission: "To my opinion the ground situation is no different because the Soviets were imposing their Communist regime on us. The present forces - they are imposing their so-called democracy on us.

“They were wrong then and the present Nato forces are doing wrong now by killing innocent people - men, women and children.”

Nato commanders object to this and say they are doing everything they can to stop civilian casualties, arguing they are making military progress against the insurgents.

“They are winning the battles but losing the war,” ambassador Kabulov said, explaining that things are even harder now than they were in the 1980s.

“The structures of government then were very much there and our task was very much was to support and to win loyalty - or, if you will, hearts and minds - but we had a working administration.”

In Helmand province British forces in Kajaki are fighting from positions originally built by the Soviets.

Old Soviet tanks slowly rusting in Afghan field
Uncomfortable reminders of wars gone by in this tank graveyard

There are wrecks of armoured vehicles rusting in irrigation ditches in the same places they are now fighting the Taleban.

They are fighting over the same patches of land.

“We didn’t bother to collect the wrecks of our burned tanks and other vehicles but you do - you are more resourceful perhaps, or maybe you have fewer losses,” the ambassador said.

“But if things continue going the wrong way, as they are now, come back in two years and you will find plenty of your own wrecks.”

A negative, sobering but very well-informed opinion - and the kind that is often ignored. [/i]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7402887.stm

[quote]lixy wrote:
Is Nato repeating the USSR’s Afghan mistakes

[i]Twenty years ago today the tanks and armoured cars started to rumble north out of Kabul as the Soviet Union began its withdrawal from Afghanistan after eight-and-a-half years of war.

The mujahideen, backed by money and weapons from an alliance of the United States, Britain, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, had beaten a world superpower.

Today the country is scattered with reminders of the Soviet occupation - you don’t have to go far even in Kabul to stumble across the rusting wrecks they left behind.

The aptly named Zamir Kabulov first arrived in Afghanistan as a young Soviet diplomat in 1977 and has lived through the last turbulent 30 years of this country’s misfortunes.

Now he is Russian ambassador in Kabul and his voice of experience will ring in the ears of today’s Nato- and US-led forces.

“There is no mistake made by the Soviet Union that was not repeated by the international community here in Afghanistan,” Mr Kabulov said, listing the problems.

“Underestimation of the Afghan nation, the belief that we have superiority over Afghans and that they are inferior and they cannot be trusted to run affairs in this country.”

His list goes on.

“A lack of knowledge of the social and ethnic structure of this country; a lack of sufficient understanding of traditions and religion.”

Not only that, but he says they the country’s new patrons are making their own new mistakes as well.

“Nato soldiers and officers alienate themselves from Afghans - they are not in touch in an everyday manner. They communicate with them from the barrels of guns in their bullet-proof Humvees.”

And he admits to some satisfaction, watching those who once backed the mujahideen now suffering in the same way.

“To some extent, yes, I would not hide that. But I am even more satisfied by not having Russian soldiers among Isaf [Nato’s International Security Assistance Force] because I don’t want them to suffer the same results, implications your soldiers are suffering.”

After the Soviet withdrawal the mujahideen turned on each other and tore Afghanistan apart.

Kabul crumbled in the civil war as the various factions rocketed at each other across the city, killing thousands of civilians.

Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, a mujahideen leader and prime minister in exile during the 1990s, admits they failed in the years following the Soviet withdrawal.

He is now an opponent of the government who stood against President Hamid Karzai in the last election and also draws parallels between the 1980s and the current international mission.

“The Russians were beaten because they invaded our country. They were the transgressors, not us,” he said.

And asked how the Soviet occupation compared to today’s mission: "To my opinion the ground situation is no different because the Soviets were imposing their Communist regime on us. The present forces - they are imposing their so-called democracy on us.

“They were wrong then and the present Nato forces are doing wrong now by killing innocent people - men, women and children.”

Nato commanders object to this and say they are doing everything they can to stop civilian casualties, arguing they are making military progress against the insurgents.

“They are winning the battles but losing the war,” ambassador Kabulov said, explaining that things are even harder now than they were in the 1980s.

“The structures of government then were very much there and our task was very much was to support and to win loyalty - or, if you will, hearts and minds - but we had a working administration.”

In Helmand province British forces in Kajaki are fighting from positions originally built by the Soviets.

Old Soviet tanks slowly rusting in Afghan field
Uncomfortable reminders of wars gone by in this tank graveyard

There are wrecks of armoured vehicles rusting in irrigation ditches in the same places they are now fighting the Taleban.

They are fighting over the same patches of land.

“We didn’t bother to collect the wrecks of our burned tanks and other vehicles but you do - you are more resourceful perhaps, or maybe you have fewer losses,” the ambassador said.

“But if things continue going the wrong way, as they are now, come back in two years and you will find plenty of your own wrecks.”

A negative, sobering but very well-informed opinion - and the kind that is often ignored. [/i]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7402887.stm [/quote]

It appears they interviewed only the Taliban for this article. If you ever read the Small Wars Journal, they had an article claiming the exact opposite of this article:
http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/04/political-maneuver-in-counteri/

As long as the Afghans keep increasing in economic prosperity, they could care less what a bunch of 6th century Islamic throwbacks believe.

[quote]PRCalDude wrote:
How is military “decisive victory” possible in either place anytime soon? Oh yeah, that’s why it’s the “Long War.”

Have you ever heard of the term “4th Generation War”? [/quote]

Many, many times. Not sure how that squares with your beliefs though, aside from the fact that William Lind tends to see things in “Clash of Civilizations” mode.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
PRCalDude wrote:
How is military “decisive victory” possible in either place anytime soon? Oh yeah, that’s why it’s the “Long War.”

Have you ever heard of the term “4th Generation War”?

Many, many times. Not sure how that squares with your beliefs though, aside from the fact that William Lind tends to see things in “Clash of Civilizations” mode.[/quote]

It is a clash of civilizations. Samuel Huntington sees things the same way. Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood just use 4GW strategies to fight the clash of civilization. 4th generation wars are generational. It took Mao 30 years to take over China and Ho Chi Minh about the same length of time. Islamic groups operate on a similar time scale, hence the “Long War” term.

[quote]PRCalDude wrote:
GDollars37 wrote:
PRCalDude wrote:
How is military “decisive victory” possible in either place anytime soon? Oh yeah, that’s why it’s the “Long War.”

Have you ever heard of the term “4th Generation War”?

Many, many times. Not sure how that squares with your beliefs though, aside from the fact that William Lind tends to see things in “Clash of Civilizations” mode.

It is a clash of civilizations. Samuel Huntington sees things the same way. Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood just use 4GW strategies to fight the clash of civilization. 4th generation wars are generational. It took Mao 30 years to take over China and Ho Chi Minh about the same length of time. Islamic groups operate on a similar time scale, hence the “Long War” term. [/quote]

Yes and no. Leaving aside the whole validity of the four “generations of war” construct, the 4GW theorists (Lind, Chet Richards, TX Hammes) are some of the biggest critics of U.S. strategy around. Lind has written exhaustively on what a disaster Iraq would be, was, and will be. They are generally far bigger fans of attacking terrorism through a law enforcement framework, for a variety of reasons.

Lind certainly has his negatives, but his regular “On War” columns at Defense and the National Interest are at least always entertaining.