Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Can We Win The War?

The recent announcement by Afghan President Karzai that he wouldn’t allow the NATO offensive in the Kandahar region to commence without the support of the local population got me thinking about the War On Terror, and whether or not we’re winning. The answer to this question requires us to look at history and the development of American morality with respect to other nations and cultures.

The U.S. has fought two enemies within the last 70 years that are similar to the radical Muslims with whom we’re at war today. In WWII, the United States fought a Japanese Empire whose fighters were also inspired by a religion that, like the more radical strains of Islam, encouraged self-sacrifice of its adherents and saw non-believers as people upon whom any brutality could be inflicted. We were able to defeat this threat by waging total war against Japan; stories from the island battles in the Pacific indicated that American troops could be just as intense as the Japanese during fighting (with the exception of launching militarily ineffective banzai charges), and the air war against the home islands showed we had few restraints in attacking the civilian infrastructure. Nevertheless, our treatment of Japanese prisoners never fell to the level that we had shown even towards fellow Americans during the Civil War 80 years earlier. Twenty years later, when confronted with another determined enemy in the Viet Cong, we were unable to defeat them because the American population – and leadership -- could not countenance the waging of total war against this foe. This, I submit, is due as much to the basic American ideal of Fair Play as it was the changing American morality towards other cultures; the obvious disparity in the conventional capabilities of the opposing forces (one that didn’t exist during WWII) caused Americans to shy away from the thought of pursuing an all-out war against the pajama-clad terrorists of the communist insurgency. Additionally, there was no real threat to the American homeland from this enemy -- Domino Theory notwithstanding.

Our current enemy combines the religious fanaticism of the Imperial Japanese with the seemingly hopeless technological inferiority and willingness to hide amongst the civilian population of the Viet Cong. Like the conflict with Japan, this war “started” (or, more accurately, was brought to the forefront of public debate) by a horrific sneak attack; in this case, 9/11. Here, the enemy used the kamikaze tactics of the Japanese in a way that even the most ardent practitioner of Bushido would never have contemplated – against mostly civilian targets while hiding behind kidnapped victims. The American public reacted with righteous anger mixed with coldly-directed resolve, supporting by vast majorities the bringing of the war to the terrorist base. I submit that the ease of the initial victory in Afghanistan, coupled with the mismanaged invasion of Iraq, caused American fury to wither away more quickly that would have been the case had the enemy been more capable in the post-9/11 battles. This was seen in the reaction to the initial revelations of the prisoner abuse taking place at Abu Grahib.

One of the main complaints about American treatment of prisoners during this war is that we practice “extraordinary rendition” wherein we send the prisoners to places where they might be mistreated. Lost in the complaints about this practice is the fact that these countries are most often the home country of the accused. Why is it that these Arab governments can still exist, with the seeming support of their populations, when they routinely mistreat their own citizens? To understand this, we must understand the Arab mindset. It’s often pointed out that the Arab world has no real democracies (and were actual voting allowed, most Arab populations would most likely elect even more dictatorial governments than they already have). This is because, I submit, the cultural mindset that developed over the years of Ottoman lordship over the Arab peoples, combined with the Islamic belief that all actions are directed by Allah, results in people believing that they have no real means of improving their lot by their actions – it’s all Allah’s will. Therefore, they are willing to docilely accept the cruelty of their own leaders because they believe it’s divinely ordained. Arab leaders, on the other hand, cynically recognize that they can cling to power only by brutally repressing any expressions of revolt or opposition; they therefore torture their opponents as a means of breaking the will of their populace, who in turn comes to recognize brutality as the hallmark of an effective leader – one who is worthy of respect.

This is an example of the disconnect between those who know what’s going on in the world from those who only know what they read in the papers. When the revelations came out about the distasteful mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq, our enemies saw our national revulsion – basically no one said that such conduct by American servicepeople was acceptable, and the main debate between the two main factions of American politics was over whether the National Command Authority knew about this conduct. This made our enemies, and those who support them, realize that we didn’t really have the stomach to dominate an Arab society at the level that was needed to win respect, and gave them hope that they could rely on the long-suffering acceptance of death and hardship by the Arab masses to eventually wear down and force out the Americans. While we surprised them by getting back some of our resolve in agreeing to and carrying out the “surge” in Iraq that led to an acceptable exit state, they adapted by realizing they could just bide their time until we leave. As Colin Powell once pointed out, it’s not as if there are a bunch of Jeffersonian Democrats who will come forth to lead an Arab country, so the jihadis think they are likely to get what they want – control of at least part of Iraq – after we leave. They do seem to do better than us at taking the long view.

(Another example of the disconnect between those who understand the world versus those who see it through rose-tinted glasses concerns the varying reactions to the leaked video of the Apache gunsight camera view of an incident in Baghdad in 2007. Those who are willing to believe that the American military is made up of cold-blooded killers wail, “How could Americans be so heartless as to chain-gun these poor innocent civilians”? Those who know better realize that it’s highly unlikely that a group of young Iraqi men would hang around on the street corner waiting for a patrol to come by while showing no concern for the U.S. helicopter hovering behind them unless they had been trained to do that. The fact that the Reuters journalists were with them only proves that they were insurgents up to no good – do you really expect war correspondents would embed themselves with bored teenagers? When all is said and done, tactics like those shown in the video are needed if we hope to win. People will volunteer to be an insurgent if they think they have a chance to kill Americans; if they know they'll be mowed down from the air before they get within a half mile of an American military vehicle, I think we'd see Al Qaeda recruiting numbers plummet.)

The main front of the war has now moved back to Afghanistan, and with the overly restrictive ROE in place along with lots of hand-wringing about civilian casualties, it looks like we’re once more headed down the path of getting the country just stable enough to declare victory and come home. To be honest, that might be the right thing to do. As the shock of 9/11 has worn off, it’s clear that the citizenry and current leadership of our country really doesn’t have the stomach to prosecute the war in the manner needed to eventually win. We can announce that we’ve won the War On Terror and concentrate on domestic concerns – like in the '90s, after we won the Cold War. However, a war is really not over as long as one side still has the will and desire to fight, which I submit our enemies do. At some point, they’ll become emboldened and hit us again. While one might think that this cycle could repeat itself ad nauseum, I submit that current trends contain the seeds of an eventual American victory. (“Victory” in this case is defined as an association with the Arab people similar to the mutually-beneficial relationship we have with post-war Japan.)

Right now, our political leadership is made up of people who really don’t understand our enemy – it’s been such since Colin Powell resigned as Secretary of State. The American populace generally believes that we shouldn’t change our values in order to prosecute the war more robustly, and that if we do so then the terrorists have won. That’s a completely valid point, one to which I believe well-meaning people can sincerely subscribe. It may even be right. However, I believe that the enemy will continue to attack us even if (and especially if) we start being “nice” to them, and quit interfering with their culture – they believe hard, and honestly think that they can spread Islam throughout the world by the point of the sword. They’ll see any appeasement on our part as a sign of weakness. It’s the next generation of America’s political elite that will lead us to victory in this war. I believe (based on no real data other than my own analysis of American history and political trends) that within the next 20 years, a critical mass of the new breed of civic leaders will be veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ll be people who understand the enemy from the lessons learned in the world’s most effective classroom – the battlefield. Starting with the election of H. R. McMaster sometime in the 2020s, I think most American Presidents for the next couple of decades after that will be combat veterans. They will be the ones who will convince the American people that this war is important, and teach us what we need to do to win. Most importantly, they’ll convince our enemies and their potential supporters that we do have the sustained will to continue the fight, and strip from them the recruiting base they need. We’ll have to be more vicious than we’re used to, but, like in 1945, the eventual outcome will be better for all involved.

Or maybe not. In the meantime, is the war still worth fighting in the here and now if we accept the premise that we can’t win for at least a few decades? I think it is – we’re killing some people who need to be killed, and exposing the core of tomorrow’s political and military leadership to the practices of the enemy. While the tide of battle will ebb and flow, I’m convinced of an eventual American victory in the long term – and maybe after that, the cycle of history may finally come to an end. (Or maybe we’ll start all over with dealing with a resurgent China.) Only time will tell.

So what do we do about President Karzai's ultimatum? In a perfect world, the American Ambassador pays him a call and says, "I'm sorry, but we can't operate under these restrictions. We'll be pulling out in six months. Good luck surviving, but please pass on to your successor that if they ever give sanctuary to any other group that ever attacks us again, we're going to kill everyone involved. From the air. Collateral damage be damned." But I know that won't happen.

(Note: Throughout this essay, I’ve focused on the American aspects of the war. While we’re clearly fighting for Western, vice just American, civilization, our European allies have the luxury of pompously tut-tutting American tactics while hiding under the benevolent umbrella of a hemispheric Pax Americana. I really don’t see much hope for the continental Western Europeans coming to their senses in the next few decades; for allies, we’ll have to count on those old standbys, the Brits and the Poles.)

74 Comments:

Anonymous a humble reader said...

BH,

Have you ever considered a career in government leadership? You might be a catalyst for mindset change.

4/06/2010 9:32 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to say it can't or shouldn't be done, but I know of no former submarine officers that are elected representatives.

No one. No where.

Regarding the war in Afghanistan, a certain Osama Bin Laden has claimed for quite some time that his goal is to bankrupt the U.S. a 'la the Soviet Union.

I don't perceive an abundance of public servants - or would-be public servants - that understand that simple fact.

4/06/2010 10:04 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Carter was a submarine officer.

4/06/2010 10:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Past tense...yes.

Present tense...nada.

4/06/2010 10:41 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Two comments.

Bill Anderson, former CO of NAUTILUS, served in the US House: http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=A024

War On Terror? No. Horrible name for pursuit of non-state irregulars operating in many nations. A better name from the past is LIC - low-intensity conflict. Terror is a tactic, not an enemy. One conducts wars on terror no more than on hand grenades or RPGs or AK-47s.

The 'War On Terror" rubric was never correct, but it allowed Bush-Cheney, chickenhawks both, to wrap themselves in the flag and march gallantly into battle, in the process abusing civil liberties at home and detainees worldwide.

Were the label any good, we would also be waging war on people like the Timothy McVeighs of our own nation, on Christian-militia loonies such as the bunch just arrested in the midwest, on crazed zealots killing abortion doctors.

'War On Terror' implies combat with those who use terror tactics to advance a cause. That's a lot of people and a lot of groups, many of whom do not like the US. It entails an invitation to endless military activity and transformation of America to a permanent military state.

'War On Islamic Extremists' comes a lot closer, but I even don't like that. War on Al Qaeda seems most accurate and least loaded culturally. 'War On Terror?' A terribly harmful and mischievous label. Lose it.

4/06/2010 12:52 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tilt at windmills much, Duck?

Your parsing of semantics and bizarre focus on one-off, anti-abortion murderers - rather than the much bigger picture issues at hand - speaks volumes.

It is precisely this kind of can't-see-the-forest-for-the-EB-green-paint mentality that'd prevent me from voting for nearly any former submarine officer for public office...and I'm one myself.

The arrogance is just ridiculous. You'd think we were all former "nasal radiators."

And if we can't laugh at ourselves about this affliction, no worries...there are plenty of people who can fill in that gap.

We'd best stick to our knitting, as I see no huge future for submariners of any flavor in politics. Thank God.

4/06/2010 1:28 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simple answer. No...

4/06/2010 1:47 PM

 
Anonymous 3383 said...

Our fight in Vietnam, while badly run, also was waged in the shadow of the Korean War 10-15 years previous- where total victory in Korea was followed by almost total defeat from China.

4/06/2010 1:49 PM

 
Blogger DDM said...

One aspect of the "War" that makes it harder for us to prevail is how we rally around our economy. We've just been attacked, show your patriotism by buying a new car. That'll show those raghats.

Hey, we can get super rich by investing in companies that support the war effort. That will demonstrate what freedom is all about.

How are we going to pay for this war? Ah, just put it on the credit card.

We have a way to track terrorist communications. Let's put it in the paper and cry about freedom and complain about the lousy job the intelligence community is doing.

Our soldiers are getting horrible care at Walter Reed. Let's blame the president. The same dickheads from Congress, who've never been to Walter Reed to visit one of their injured constituents - and should have known about the conditions, will hold hearings to get in some public finger-pointing.

Who's sacrificing for our freedom? Those who serve and their family and friends. That's about it.

4/06/2010 1:54 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"the much bigger picture issues at hand" are two feckless wars killing over 4,000 Americans and well over 100,000 'allies' in pursuit of ... a tinhorn dictator posing no threat to the US and ... the rebirth of an enemy defeated in 2002 but allowed to reconstitute through neglect and inaction in Afghanistan.

The hundreds of billions of dollars poured down these two ratholes have crippled our Army and Marine Corps, seriously harmed our readiness globally, wrecked the Guard and reserve for a generation, robbed the Navy and the submarine force of the funds needed for new hulls, and - until Obama took over - almost destroyed relations with most of our allies.

The Bush/Cheney administration called this the Global War on Terror. Whatever that is, it has gone on for longer than the Civil War and World War Two combined. So if it is a 'war,' we're doing a damned crappy job of fighting it.

Calling the supposed war-on-terror a war no more makes it one than - Lincoln's analogy - calling a dog's tail a leg makes the dog five-legged. Obama is trying to get our chestnuts out of the fire in a way that respects commitments made and preserves American honor, for which credit and praise.

As to anti-abortion murders, there have been nine in the US since 1993, carefully targeted assassinations of law-abiding Americans by terrorist killers. One-off?

4/06/2010 2:31 PM

 
Anonymous submarines once... said...

War on Terror does not lend itself to a clear endpoint. The endpoint may be broadly understood but the lack of a clearly articulated objective does not square with the American citizen’s desire for neat and clean results.

If we truly believe in ridding the world of terrorists and those that harbor them, then we have got to regain the changed mind-set that came from the terrorist acts of 9/11. The War on Terror could eventually become the next War on Drugs. How long have we been fighting that one? When do we win? Who gets to declare victory, using what criteria? The War on Drugs has been around so long that we pay it lip service and a give it a line in the annual budget. This October will mark nine years since we rolled into Afghanistan; how much more secure do we feel? When do we win?

4/06/2010 2:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would we know when we have "won" this war?

That was pretty easy to determine with Japan; we burned their cities to the ground, we mined their coasts and the leader of the nation surrendered.

But here? If we cannot define what it means to be victorious, then talking about "winning" is meaningless.

IMO.

4/06/2010 3:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello - I was looking for info on the Astute class sub since they are building a 5th.

4/06/2010 3:16 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

In all this discussion of these two wars, reflect a bit on the generalship in our US Army. Appalling. Even at this late date the biggest argument in the Army is whether to build itself heavy for main-force wars in the future or to go light and concentrate on COIN - counter-insurgency.

Tommy Franks was an absolute disaster. Odierno was terrible in his first tour, much better now. Our Navy contribution, Fox Fallen, got fired. The US Army is in serious need of wholesale reform, but it is fighting against it mightily.

And our Navy is likewise befuddled by the future. Read this: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2010/03/31/navy-changes-or-us-power-fades/#axzz0jr7m6kO7

As Woody Allen put it, "Down one road lies disaster, down the other utter catastrophe. Let us hope we have the wisdom to choose wisely."

How's that War On Terror working out? We'd sure be in a lot better shape in national defense if Bush/Cheney had finished the job in Afghanistan and not lied us into the war in Iraq (which they then could not handle either).

4/06/2010 3:21 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

I'm sorry: Fox Fallon, not Fallen. Freudian slip?

4/06/2010 3:23 PM

 
Blogger fortboise said...

Regarding the "long view" -- it's considerably easier to come by when the place you live is invaded, than when you are an expeditionary force without interest in occupation and subjugation.

Even so, whether the collective will to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, really constitutes a long view is arguable. Individuals in bleak circumstances become fatalistic, sometimes to the ultimate degree: kamikaze, suicide bombers, and so on. That's about as short a view as one can imagine.

Personally, I think it's a good thing that we're not prepared to do "whatever it takes," absent a clear purpose and mission. We went to Afghanistan to root out Al Qaeda, took out the Taliban as a means to that end, apparently, and then failed to accomplish the original mission, choosing instead to wander off to Iraq where there were a lot more targets for smart munitions, and a head of state with known addresses.

We hardly need the epithet of "chickenhawk" for criticism of an administration which committed the most colossal military blunder in the history of modern warfare: imagining an enemy worth invading when there was none.

We had a huge advantage in military and economic strength. We've done more to dissipate those advantages ourselves than any foe could, certainly the two countries in question. Throw in Iran and North Korea if you like. They could not match the 8 years of Bush and Cheney.

4/06/2010 5:30 PM

 
Blogger fortboise said...

One minor point: you wrote "Lost in the complaints about [extraordinary rendition] is the fact that these countries are most often the home country of the accused."

I guess I wasn't aware of that connection, and wonder what basis you have for making it. At any rate, "accused" is a bit over-polite, making the process sound like a legal proceeding.

4/06/2010 5:34 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

The profound difference in today's armed conflicts is the extent to which the legal community is allowed to interfere with the conduct of legitimate war.

The ratio of JAGs to U.S. combatants has NEVER been higher than it is today. George Washington's Continental Army had ONE.

Not only is such interference with military ops uncustomary for any other country, it has cost the lives of U.S. troops - indirectly, of course, but avoidably just the same.

There are effective alternatives and they should have been used by now. In fact, it would behoove the U.S. to call in our Marines only as a last resort. It would be a sign to our enemies that the puyssyfooting ROE have reverted to wartime norms.

Can We Win the War? - Give me a break, and save the lives of our IED victims. Got that, Rubber Duck?

4/06/2010 6:43 PM

 
Anonymous Just a Lurker said...

Question for BH: DId the Soviet Army fail to win in Af because of excessively restrictive ROE? My understanding is they pulled no punches and lost anyway. I don't buy the "our hands our tied" argument for Afghanistan.

4/06/2010 6:47 PM

 
Blogger Oz said...

3:04:

+1

What is victory?

If it's never seeing a terror-style attack against us or our allies again, then no. Even if we throw out our founding principles and become a police state. It's just too easy to slip through.

If it's knocking off state sponsors of terror and replacing them with stable, robust, free states, then maybe. Challenging, but possible. And I'm not worried when the head of government in one of these places gets a little uppity; if anything that's a sign that we're on the right track.

If it's knocking off state sponsors of terror, pointing to them, and saying "See? Now piss off!" to the rest of our potential enemies, the chances of success are nearly 100%. Exactly how effective the strategy is is questionable.

But like the man said, you have to define victory before you can pursue it.

4/06/2010 6:47 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"... save the lives of our IED victims."

Sure. Bring the troops home.

4/06/2010 7:06 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

Just a Lurker,
"DId the Soviet Army fail to win in Af because of excessively restrictive ROE?"

Well, the U.S. was backing the Afs and Soviet ROEs allowed us to assure a very costly engagement for the Soviets. Their withdrawal became a high priority. (Ref: Charlie Wilson).

4/06/2010 7:14 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

"Sure. Bring the troops home."

Insipid thinking like yours would soon assure the U.S. no defensible homeland for their return.

Projecting military weakness has always been a prelude to war, as I am certain you must be aware.

4/06/2010 7:18 PM

 
Blogger Port Tack Start said...

"and - until Obama took over - almost destroyed relations with most of our allies."

RD: How has Obama improved relation with ANY of our allies? He thumbed his nose at our Eastern European allies (Georgia, Ukraine, etc...) by abandoning the previous missile defense plans. Israel has been pretty much kicked in the nuts several times so far. He gave the Queen of England ridiculous gifts. And so on.

So far, it seems like Russia, Iran, the Palestinians, Cuba, those dictators we have down in South America, et al are the new friends and allies of the Obama regime.

How exactly has Obama improved relations with our allies over Bush?

4/06/2010 8:03 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vigilis... You honestly think that leaving Iraq and/or Afghanistan would spur an invasion causing the collapse of the United States. I don't think I need to suggest how silly of an idea this is.

Just to satisfy my curiosity. Exactly which country do you think has the desire to invade the US, the ability to insert a large enough force to occupy the entire country, and actually has a large enough force to occupy the entire country.

The real problem with Iraq and Afghanistan is nobody feels any pain for it except the troops. I personally think it's a waste of money... but let's start a draft to fill out the army enough to support the rotation and institute a war tax to pay for it. Let's see how popular staying there indefinitely becomes

4/06/2010 11:04 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"Projecting military weakness has always been a prelude to war, as I am certain you must be aware."

Actually, winding down these two unnecessary wars will allow the US to rearm and return to full global capability. And we'd stop pissing away hundreds of billions of dollars, again increasing our strength.

One of life's rules: If it feels bad, quit doing it.

4/07/2010 3:33 AM

 
Anonymous Joe Alferio said...

Let me get this straight.

At some point in the not too distant future, maybe 2020, we will elect an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran who will explain all this to us in a way we will be able to understand. At that point, we will be motivated to fight the Islamic terrorists into the infinite future.

Is that what you're saying?

Wow, I'm really looking forward to sending all my distant, future relations to the sandbox.

Joe Alferio

4/07/2010 5:48 AM

 
Anonymous ret.cob said...

This is long, but it's good. It's an US Army historian's account of the Battle of WANAT. If you only read the beginning you'll come away with a deeper appreciation for the challenges they face re: enemy and terrain.

http://images.stltoday.com/stltoday/resources/wanatop.pdf

4/07/2010 6:17 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were the label any good, we would also be waging war on people like the Timothy McVeighs of our own nation, on Christian-militia loonies such as the bunch just arrested in the midwest, on crazed zealots killing abortion doctors.

And if the Christian-militia suspects refuse to plea bargain, they will be found not guilty. This will be shown to be a government funded, agent-provocateur instigated group, originally intent on preparing a defensive strategy against a fast becoming unconstitutional government.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

4/07/2010 6:22 AM

 
Anonymous Nukem Till They Glow! said...

The probalem is we are too liberal and afraid to use our armed forces to win. Just think if we would have manned battle stations missle and ended this whole mid-east mess in a couple of hours?

Would we still be talking about it? No, we would be wondering who is going to win Dancing With The Stars!

I care about cheap gas. Let's use our armed forces for good and make that happen. Is there any reason why Iraqi oil is not coming to America for free?

Our military is all volunteer, let's use them. We don't need to bring them home, clean them up and put them on the shelf. They get paid well to kill for America, not sit around and do field day. As the submarine force is finding out, if you don't use it, you lose it.

Duck, I notice you mention all right wing terror groups. Don't forget left wing eco terrorists, anarchists, etc. etc.

4/07/2010 6:24 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"Don't forget left wing eco terrorists, anarchists, etc. etc."

So list 'em. Same rules: terrorists are terrorists. And an even-money bet that those Christina-militia loonies arrested in the Midwest are found guilty.

4/07/2010 7:29 AM

 
Anonymous ret.cob said...

Balanced essay on the semantics of the word "terrorism."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/weekinreview/04shane.html?hpw

4/07/2010 7:35 AM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

Anon 4/06/2010 11:04 PM

"Exactly which country do you think has the desire to invade the US, the ability to insert a large enough force to occupy the entire country, and actually has a large enough force to occupy the entire country"

Since the U.S. has not projected the predicating weakness (turning tail), your question is moot.

Were it not, China could invade, almost at will, under the guise of joint military exercises or drug-enforcement efforts with the Mexican government. Expect to see a Chinese aircraft carrier in a Mexican port during your lifetime, sport.

The question of a change in current Chinese "will to invade" the U.S. is not as farfetched as one might think. If U.S. debt obligations to China are decimated by inflation the question of ownership of some domestic asset may very well come into play.

Which way would a World Court ruling go? Why not tell us yourself.

4/07/2010 10:16 AM

 
Anonymous Participant said...

I'm somewhat taken aback by the lack of professional military knowledge, particularly strategy, being demonstrated by some of the posters here.

Only somewhat, though...as I don't exactly see submarine officers (speaking as a former one) as a paragon pool of strategic thinkers. We're more max-opinionated technicians...and relatively uninformed ones at that.

Specific issue: geopolitics. Get a clue, guys. The U.S. is relatively uninvadable, courtesy of the left and right coast's oceans.

That's NOT to say that the U.S. can't be soundly and perhaps even permanently defeated WITHOUT an invasion. We're an economic power more than anything else, and our enemies get that this is our Achilles heal, and that's why they will keep striking at our economic infrastructure such as airlines and oil.

Cut off the U.S. oil supply, or drive us into anger to the point that we spend ourselves into bankruptcy trying to swat at flies in the Middle East, and we're done.

Suggested reading:

Sun Tzu - "The Art of War" (and don't tell me you're fresh on knowing what's in this book if you expouse idiotic right-wing logistical nonsense such as invading the U.S.; grow a brain)

Dr. George Friedman - "America's Secret War" (and don't tell me you understand strategy if you do the idiotic left-wing "Bush lied..." chicken dance when it comes to Iraq; grow a brain)

4/07/2010 10:39 AM

 
Blogger fortboise said...

You remind me of the Chinese invasion strategy I've heard: "first, we let you take 300,000,000 prisoners..."

But hello, the Chinese economic invasion started quite some time ago, and great progress has been made. Our manufacturing base depleted and set up over there with our best and brightest overseeing the training and startup, cheap goods we can't get enough of flowing back, along with exported toxins and pollution. (That last bit is a two-way street, of course: we send back our e-waste, and they melt it down over open fires next to junkyards, to "complete the cycle.")

Strategic thinking is by definition not limited to a single realm.

4/07/2010 10:48 AM

 
Anonymous Participant said...

P.S. Also see Friedman's "The Next 100 Years" and take heart (and brain) from the knowledge that the U.S. Navy will always be _the_ core to U.S. military strategy.

4/07/2010 10:54 AM

 
Anonymous Participant said...

"You remind me of the Chinese invasion strategy I've heard: "first, we let you take 300,000,000 prisoners..."

Funny...but truly stupid. Most jokes are.

4/07/2010 11:00 AM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Does the experience in Viet Nam ring a bell? It is very difficult to fight an ideology with bullets and bombs. In about 1958 President Eisenhower sent a few hundred advisors to Viet Nam, President Kennedy sent tens of thousands of advisors and troops, President Johnson sent hundreds of thousands of troops (including me for two one-year tours.) We finally made it out in 1974; that was 16 long years folks.

The British more than a century ago had a go at them, during the last century the Soviet Union had a go at them, and they both cut their losses. Maybe it's time for us to cut our losses.

4/07/2010 11:22 AM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/07/2010 11:22 AM

 
Anonymous Participant said...

Always dangerous to fight the last war, Chief. This current enemy will not stop until we're defeated economically. You don't want to know what that looks like on a day-to-day basis, especially in the major cities.

4/07/2010 11:27 AM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

Anonymous ...
"The U.S. is relatively uninvadable, courtesy of the left and right coast's oceans."

Let's review (grow a memory, Participant):
China could invade, almost at will, under the guise (which is a military deception approved by Sun Tzu) of joint military exercises or drug-enforcement efforts with the Mexican government. Expect to see a Chinese aircraft carrier in a Mexican port during your lifetime, sport.

What is it about China's military of over 7-million you do not understand?

From the 300 million U.S. prisoners you would have to exclude 75% of the 153 million women, children under 8yoa, 50% of males in large urban centers, and U.S. forces deployed overseas. You are really talking about an armed resistance of less than 3.5 million, not 300 million.
But hey, you're the professed geopolitical expert, not me.

"Suggested reading?"... Are you still a student (just my instinctive guess; you do not come across at all, as an adult with actual military experience, and your atrocious spelling suggests you were no officer either).

4/07/2010 11:37 AM

 
Anonymous Participant said...

Vigilis: you've got your logistical head in the sand.

But go read a book. Please. I feel like I'm arguing about integrals with a 2nd grader who's just finished basic math.

Speaking of which, a couple of thought problems:

(1) With our current SSN inventory, how sinkable is a Chinese aircraft carrier in terms of odds?

(2) How many Chinese aircraft carriers would it take to ship 100,000 Chinese to the U.S.?

(3) How long (in seconds) would said Chinese last on U.S. soil?

4/07/2010 11:41 AM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

Participant,

Finally, a worthy response from you!

"a couple of thought problems"
(clue; in basic math a "couple" means just two - you don't teach math, I hope?):

(1) With our current SSN inventory, how sinkable is a Chinese aircraft carrier in terms of odds?
ANS: Very; but to do so preemptively (say, while the PLAN was transiting the Pacific, or helping Mexico quash its drug cartels) would be committing an overt act of war.

(2) How many Chinese aircraft carriers would it take to ship 100,000 Chinese to the U.S.?
ANS: How many Chinese have come over in single cargo containers (Multiply by the number of container ships coming over also).

(3) How long (in seconds) would said Chinese last on U.S. soil?
ANS: Under current law (suggest you read a book) when in country they become "U.S. persons" regardless of nationality. How many years does A/G Eric Holder wish "U.S. persons" to last on U.S. soil (e.g. Khalid Sheik Mohammed - 7 years and counting)?

4/07/2010 12:12 PM

 
Anonymous Participant said...

@Vigilis

Got it: you're a moron. Sorry, I honestly didn't know that til now. Wouldn't have wasted my time talking to you had I known that in advance.

4/07/2010 1:54 PM

 
Anonymous Chicken Vittles said...

Foreign leaders see Obama as a weak boy, and are publicly challenging his limp wrist.

Unlike the iron fist of Jimmy Carter and the respect he garnered from other world leaders. Oh, wait.....that was Reagan.

So the question begs, what is going to be Obama's Iran Hostage type crises?

God help us please......

4/07/2010 3:28 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go, Participant. You stopped Vigilis dead in his tracks.

Really liked the deft manner in which you accomplished it, too, without recitation of your obviously superior facts (without reference to any facts, for that matter) you ceased debating by resorting to simple name calling.

I hope to be as good as you in debates, someday.

Tell us, what was it Vigilis said that was untrue or moronic, or were you just using the typical bluff of our party leaders?

Phillip C.

4/07/2010 3:31 PM

 
Blogger goodman.dl said...

Getting back to Bubblehead's earlier theory on whether a Middle Eastern society could ever support Jeffersonian Society - maybe they could if we stuck with trying to build it for long enough.

Whether it's worth the cost in treasure and blood to most Americans to find that out is a separate questions. I think most people would prefer to blow some stuff up and then get out of the Afghanistan business.

Look at our Economy - even if that long-term Democritization effort could work, I don't know that we're really a long-term value society.

4/07/2010 4:57 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Participant. Anybody that seriously suggests that China could invade the US is willfully ignorant. Vigilis answer is this China will invade by packing 3 million people into cargo containers on an aircraft carrier and then parking said aircraft carrier in Mexico and then what?

Don't you think our satellites might pick up a troop mobilization of 3 million people? You clearly have no appreciation for how long it takes to mobilize 3 million people + tanks + planes + equipment + food, etc? At least 6 months if not closer to a year. For a frame of reference it took about a month for us to move 1000 special forces into Afghanistan after 9/11. Don't you think that American Intelligence MIGHT pick up on that? You think you can clandestinely move that many troops onto a ship... or even a fleet in today's world?

It's just literally one of the stupidest scenarios that I've ever heard dreamed up. Which means you're perfect for a life in the submarine force, where you can remain literally underwater and out of touch with reality for at least the next 20 years.

4/07/2010 5:27 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Mid-East solution.

1) Gas Tax => use less foreign oil
2) Stop caring one way or another about the international price of oil.
3) Let them kill each other/get along/whatever because instability in the region really does not matter to you either way (see above).
4) Sell them Levis/coke/fords/McDonald's/Justin Beiber
5)Profit!

4/07/2010 5:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 5:27 PM

"3 million people?"

You are either a very poor reader or comfortable putting words falsely in other people's mouths (my guess). Very easy when you are an anonymous poseur.

You also contradict yourself:

In your last paragraph you state "It's...one of the stupidest scenarios that I've ever heard".

In your first paragraph you admit you have not heard Vig's whole scenario when you ask, "then what?"

Vig had suggested this years ago
(2005/6) based upon actual events not worth repeating to slippery little weasels.

Some buzz words, if you really want to learn:

. Cuban Missile Crisis
. Zimmermann Telegram
. Dong-Feng BM
. Blood and treasure wusses
. sue for peace
. Chinese occupation force

Do you see 6 months, or 6 years as a problem for the Chinese?

Rex

4/07/2010 7:18 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize. Vigilis makes mention of a force of 100,000. It still takes several months to mobilize 100,000 (which we will see via a variety of intelligence sources). But let's assume that everybody is completely asleep at the wheel and China just marches straight into Texas... THEN WHAT?

For a frame of reference, we have ~70k troops in Afghanistan, which is about the same size as Texas. We can barely keep a lid on that with the explicit support of the local government, police, and military. Oh, and by the way, not all of the citizens are trying to fight back.

This is just teabagger militia conspiracy garbage. Let me sum up this scenario as I see it. As a prelude, we default on all of our debts (maybe sort of possible). China then decides that the correct way to get paid is to invade the US and demand full use of Yosemite, Yellowstone, the largest ball of Twine, and full broadcasting rights to Dancing with the Stars.

1) China builds an aircraft carrier
2) They load it and several cargo ships full of chinese soldiers... covertly. Nobody sees this force board or begin crossing the nation
3) They then enter port at Mexico under False Pretenses.
4) Somewhere between 100,000 and several million hiding Chinese warriors roar out of the shipping containers, AK 47 in hand.
5) They then Walk to border of California... unopposed. We completely show no resistance, do not threaten with our nuclear stockpile, do not try to tactically bomb troop formations coming into our country, etc.
6) Then china spreads out their 100,000 troops across the nation and completely holds down the country.

This whole scenario is ludicrous. It's appropriate rhetoric for the Sarah Palin Tea Party set, but is not credible to informed people.

4/07/2010 8:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the official website of China invading US:

http://www.mcguinnessonline.com/nextww/index.htm

4/07/2010 8:58 PM

 
Blogger Oz said...

China can't even invade Taiwan right now, let alone crossing the Pacific and mounting a credible invasion against the US. That would be the US, their prime trading partner that also probably has close to as many nuclear warheads in one of their submarines as they do period.

4/07/2010 11:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

China isn't a problem. They've never been a problem. It's too bad Truman actively chose not to understand that simple concept in 1950/53.

YN1(SS) Sialla

4/07/2010 11:43 PM

 
Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

Vigilis: "... your atrocious spelling suggests you were no officer either"

Hey Vigilis, thanks for the slap in the face about enlisted persons intelligence.

So, because one person can't spell he must not have been an officer? So you are saying all enlisted are idiots? Maybe I misunderstood your jab ad Participant, but I took offense to that.

Realistically speaking, I don't see China getting into a military conflict with the US. I think they will just wait until they can help us collapse ourselves economically. When that happens, this conversation will be a moot point.

---
MM1/SS

4/07/2010 11:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that China would even WANT us to collapse economically. For better or worse, our two countries are mutually dependent on each other. Now. I also think that the whole situation is a bubble in the making. Obviously a situation where Country 1 loans money to country so that Country 2 can buy cheapo products from Country 1 is not sustainable over the long term. And when/if this bubble bursts, the fallout is going to be uglier than one might think. That is... if they don't invade us first.

4/07/2010 11:59 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can win any war that we have the political will to win.

Unfortunately right now, we only have the political will to bankrupt ourselves.

ex-EM1(SS)

4/08/2010 6:23 AM

 
Anonymous gih said...

Just know your enemy and win their hearts. Strategy, Knowledge in war. Perfect timing. Yopu can win the war.

4/08/2010 7:50 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4/07/2010 8:50 PM

Your Chinese invasion script IS utter nonsense and was NEVER suggested by Vigilis. Try to keep up, dude.

Rudder Amid-

"...this conversation will be a moot point."

Reminder - Vig (4/06/2010 11:04 PM) told the guy asking the who could invade question his question was moot. I agree with Vig:

"China could invade, almost at will, under the guise (which is a military deception approved by Sun Tzu) of joint military exercises or drug-enforcement efforts with the Mexican government. Expect to see a Chinese aircraft carrier in a Mexican port during your lifetime, sport."

Would anyone like to bet we will not see a Chinese aircraft carrier in a Mexican port during the next 25 years?


Rex (enlisted)

4/08/2010 8:06 AM

 
Anonymous Maxx Payne said...

I've been told that enlisted are conniving and deceitful, and not to be trusted......and lack spelling skills.

Max P.
USNA
2for7

4/08/2010 8:36 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"Sly and crafty and bear watching at all times" is the better quote on enlisted swine ... of which category I am very proud to have served.

4/08/2010 9:07 AM

 
Anonymous pc assclown said...

Prophylactic Waterfowl,

""Sly and crafty and bear watching at all times" is the better quote on enlisted swine ... of which category I am very proud to have served."

The only pride that comes through in your writings is the pride you feel in having achieved a status that militarily allowed you to lord over those under you.

In every thing you write you are always right. All other's thoughts and opnions are incorrect. Your perspective is the only correct one. You're too arrogant to be proud of being anything other than the god of your little world.

You might say that you're proud to have been an enlisted man, but it's obvious to those who waste their time reading your blather, that you are only truly proud of the fact that you're in love with yourself.

4/08/2010 11:30 AM

 
Anonymous pc assclown said...

As far as posting a comment related to BH's question, "Can We Win The War?", in my limited opinion, the answer still depends on how one defines "Win".

There will always be extremist groups willing and able to terrorize. We can make moves to reign in the state sponsors but we'll never eliminate the cells and their support.

However, resistance is not futile and we will not be assimilated.

As long as we avoid changing our culture too much in the face of terroristic attempts to assimilate us, we win every new day.

4/08/2010 12:16 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

pc assclown : Lighten up, you twit. Jesus, there's more jerks on this board than I met all the while I served. Take it and tuck it.

4/08/2010 1:38 PM

 
Blogger Oz said...

"Would anyone like to bet we will not see a Chinese aircraft carrier in a Mexican port during the next 25 years?"

I guess I'm just not going to piss my pants because a foreign navy decides to make a port call at a neighboring country. Now if it's joined by 100 full troop transports or something, then we can talk. But a CV(N) is not an invasion force.

4/08/2010 1:45 PM

 
Blogger Do You Think I G.A.F. said...

I am not worried about any military invading us. We are being invaded with illegal immigration. They will take over once we have destroyed ourselves from within by the assclowns in three branches of government. PC will be our victor and we will be the lowest class citizens in the new nation. Obama is already leading us there!

STSCS(SS/SW) USN RET TG!

4/08/2010 4:56 PM

 
Anonymous lol liberal said...

I'll comment at length about the video comment, cause that's what I'm most informed on. I'm referencing, of course, Another example of the disconnect between those who understand the world versus those who see it through rose-tinted glasses concerns the varying reactions to the leaked video of the Apache gunsight camera view of an incident in Baghdad in 2007.
So like, I definitely like that you start by calling anyone who sees the video as bad an idiot who can't see the real world.

Those who are willing to believe that the American military is made up of cold-blooded killers wail, “How could Americans be so heartless as to chain-gun these poor innocent civilians”?
This is a nice scarecrow. I think it's more like "Why didn't the military release this video/why did they target these guys so quickly/why was the gunner praying for an excuse to kill".

Those who know better realize that it’s highly unlikely that a group of young Iraqi men would hang around on the street corner waiting for a patrol to come by while showing no concern for the U.S. helicopter hovering behind them unless they had been trained to do that.
This is a great comment. Like, most people are of the opinion that if you run from the police, you're guilty. Now you're saying that if you stay in plain view of the police, you're guilty too. I don't know what you mean "hanging by a street corner waiting for the patrol to come by" - it seems like the guys are just walking/hanging out. I mean, if "right to hang out in public with a couple friends" isn't a right anymore, then I guess we've already delivered them freedom, amirite?

The fact that the Reuters journalists were with them only proves that they were insurgents up to no good – do you really expect war correspondents would embed themselves with bored teenagers?
Because no journalist has ever tried to get the average person's opinion of the war, right? Ignoring that this is postjustification. How did the gunner know at the time that these were insurgents?

When all is said and done, tactics like those shown in the video are needed if we hope to win. People will volunteer to be an insurgent if they think they have a chance to kill Americans; if they know they'll be mowed down from the air before they get within a half mile of an American military vehicle, I think we'd see Al Qaeda recruiting numbers plummet.
Yes, if we kill all Iraqis, there won't be recruits for Al Qaeda either.

4/08/2010 6:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old goats opinion!!

Never, ever again elect a POTUS from Texas. LBJ, GWB disasters re: foreign policy. Remember, "all I gotta do is touch him up a little and he'll come around" or, "Gotta hang the coonskin on the wall".

GHWB don't count he was a Northeasterner by birth and growing up.

IRAQ = FIASCO!! Read the book.

Afganistan. My analogy (actually not, I stole it fair and square from NPR interview) "We went into the motel to get the drug dealing gang members, then we decided to renovate the motel." IMO, We are way the f**k off course in Afganistan.

BTW BH, Japanese were not religous fanatics in WWII. Their behavior was driven, inculcated if you will, by a perverted form of Bushido that got started after WWI by the military.

My two cents and keep a zero bubble.....

DBFTMC(SS)USNRET

4/08/2010 9:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rex:

I'm sure we very well might have a Chinese carrier port visit in Mexico... We may even have a Chinese Aircraft Carrier port visit in the USA! Chinese Warships have already made port visits in San Diego and Hawaii. I suppose you might refer to them as the "pre-invasion Expeditionary Force". Rumour has it that... they played basketball at the gym on base.

Similarly, an American Carrier is making a port visit in China (Hong Kong, specifically) this year. I'm not so sure this is a big deal. It's certainly a far shot from an invasion, at any rate

4/08/2010 10:03 PM

 
Anonymous XEM2 said...

To ret.cob: Thanks for the link to the Wanat article. It provides a lot of insight for us armchair generals whose greatest danger on deployment was falling out of the rack.

The article also makes it perfectly clear why we can't wage "total warfare" in this type of fight. When Chosen failed to win the support of the locals (not entirely their fault -- they weren't really set up for success) it made life a lot harder for them, and a lot easier for their enemies. The battle for "hearts and minds" isn't just PC or a reflection of our moral values, it's a necessity.

The current "war" we are waging bears absolutely NO comparison to the war against the Japanese Empire. In WWII, our enemies wore uniforms and followed a formal chain of command. They pursued conventional strategy, fighting to control militarily- and economically-important territory, and to destroy strategic assets in order to reduce their enemy's war-fighting ability. They had the total support of the population and economy of their clearly-defined homeland.

Today's enemy wears no uniform; without the help of the locals they are extremely hard to identify. Their strategy is to harass, terrify, or frustrate us, not until we CAN'T fight, but until we don't WANT to fight. As long as the local population is sympathetic (or at least indifferent) to their cause, they will be able to outlast us.

The only way to defeat this enemy is to persuade the locals that they would be better off in the long run if they sided with us. We can't bomb them into surrender -- there's no leader with the authority to surrender. But if we can convince the people that they would be more secure and prosperous on our team (again, IN THE LONG RUN) they will make it nearly impossible for the militants to fight.

That's how I see it, but maybe I'm just a bleeding-heart liberal.

4/09/2010 7:01 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

DBFTMC(SS)USNRET said, "GHWB don't count he was a Northeasterner by birth and growing up."


Uh, so was GWB. Born in CT. Went to Yale and Haaah-vaaaahhhhd. Next.

Can we create Jeffersonian Democracy in the ME? Not likely, but you know the old adage: Put 700 suicide bombers in a room with 700 suicide belts for 700 years, it'll make the walls REAL messy...

Or maybe you'll end up with a society like Turkey. Not the most ideal situation, but a start. Beats the hell out of the Wahabbist model that seems so popular of late.

4/09/2010 9:40 AM

 
Blogger Do You Think I G.A.F. said...

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious.

But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.

But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.

For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.

He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.

A murderer is less to fear.

The traitor is the plague.

- Cicero's 58 B.C. speech in the Roman Senate.

4/09/2010 1:23 PM

 
Blogger Oz said...

I guess Cicero got what was coming to him when he was killed in 43 BC for being an enemy of the state, then.

4/09/2010 6:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 10:03 PM

"I'm not so sure this is a big deal."

A Chinese carrier docked in Mexico
could be ominous for diplomatic reasons alone. Are you familiar with the Zimmermann Telegram and the Cuban Missile Crisis? These were actual, historic events (not movie titles as some readers of this blog likely believe).

Rex

4/13/2010 12:09 PM

 

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