On War #258: A Confirming Moment

By William S. Lind

When Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kerensky sent his “army” to fight the Mahdi Army in Basra, President Bush called it “a defining moment.” It turned out instead to be a confirming moment. It confirmed that there is no state in Mesopotamia.

One of the most common signs that America’s leadership is clueless about 4GW is the language they use. Fourth Generation war has few if any defining moments. Nor does it have “turning points,” another common Bushism. In his testimony on Tuesday, General David Petraeus revealed the limits on his own grasp of 4GW when he said, “We’ve got to continue. We have our teeth into the jugular, and we need to keep it (sic) there.” 4GW opponents have no jugular. 4GW is war of the capillaries. What we have our teeth into in Iraq is a jellyfish.

If we are to see Iraq and other Fourth Generation conflicts as they are and not through the looking glass, we need to use words more carefully. Because there is no state in Iraq, there is also no government. Orders given in Baghdad have no meaning, because there are no state institutions to carry them out. The governmental positions of Iraqi leaders have no substance. Their power is a function of their relationship to various militias, not of their offices. (Mr. al-Maliki has no militia, which means he is a figurehead.) The Iraqi “army” and “police” are groupings of Shiite militias, which exist to fight other militias and which take orders from militia leaders, not the government. Government revenues are slush funds militia leaders use to pay their militiamen. All of these phenomena, and many more, are products of the one basic reality: there is no state.

The failure of Mr. al-Maliki’s “big push” into Basra put Iraq’s statelessness on display. Ordered to do something it did not want to do, the Iraqi “army” fell apart, as militias usually fall apart when given unwelcome directives. Iraqi “soldiers” and “police” went over or went home, in considerable numbers. Those who did fight had little fight in them; the affair reportedly ended with the Mahdi Army controlling more of Basra than it did at the beginning. Mr. al-Maliki, desperate for a cease-fire, had to agree in advance to any conditions Muqtada al-Sadr cared to impose.

American policy proved even more reckless than that of Mr. al-Maliki. To win in Iraq, we must see a state re-emerge. That means we should stay out of the way of anyone with the potential to recreate a state. Muqtada al-Sadr is at or near the head of the list. The al-Maliki “government” isn’t even on it.

So what did we do? Why, we went to war against al-Sadr on behalf of al-Maliki, of course. Our leadership cannot grasp one of the most basic facts about 4GW, namely that the splintering of factions makes it more difficult to generate a state. Should we have the bad luck to “win” this latest fight and destroy the Mahdi Army, we will move not toward but further away from that goal.

In the end, the Administration’s (and the Pentagon’s) insistence that the Iraqi state, government, army and police are real blinds only themselves. Iraqis know they are not. The American public knows they are not. The average Hottentot probably knows they are not. Do the members of the Senate Committees on Armed Services and Foreign Relations know less that the average Hottentot? So last week’s hearings might suggest, and such is the power of empty words.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

To interview Mr. Lind, please contact:

Mr. William S. Lind
Free Congress Foundation
717 Second St., N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
Direct line: 202-543-8796

(Note: This will be the last On War for several weeks. Free Congress Foundation is leaving the District of Columbia for the more congenial soil of the Confederacy, Alexandria, Virginia to be precise. The displacement will put us out of action until we can tap into the telegraph line to Richmond.)

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Filed in Uncategorized | 35 responses so far

35 Responses to “On War #258: A Confirming Moment”

  1. maximilliangcon 17 Apr 2008 at 2:37 pm 1

    Well, Mr. Lind has hit this one over the fence.

    Knowing and understanding the United States,
    the reality of 4th generational warfare and the world as
    he does, I can’t imagine how he maintains his sanity in the face
    of what’s going on.

    As he has suggested before, The US military,
    services personel, amoung western interests,
    can arguably be considered to be surrounded,
    by 2 or 3 and perhaps more million Iraqis.

    If they all (not to mention others behond Iraqs current borders) turn overtly hostile overnight, (and God knows we give them ample reason) and translate that into action, the US and
    dwindling coalition interest could find themselves
    overwhelmed and under seige.

    It’s not likely to happen that way, but it could.

    More likely it seems the US will stay, and die a death of a thousdand cuts, ultimately expiring of domestic financal implosion.

    Or it will eventually leave, sooner not later, with a whimper, having learned nothing, only destined to repete a similar experience in yet another 30 years time.

    Apart from all that though, it’s all been handled absolutley brilliantly.

    MaX

  2. maximilliangcon 18 Apr 2008 at 7:07 am 2

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080418/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

    -Annotations (*) by Max.

    Company of Iraqi troops *(South Vietnamese Regulars (ARVIN)) abandon position after attack .

    By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 2 minutes ago
    *(Joe Galloway AP (April 1971))

    BAGHDAD – *(Siagon) A company of government troops *(US backed South Vietnamese Forces) abandoned its positions in Sadr City *(Near the Cambodian border) when the forces came under attack from Shiite militiamen *(Vietcong guerillas) who took advantage of a sandstorm
    *(cover of night, mist, and dense jungle foliage) to attack, police said Friday.

    MaX

  3. loggie20on 19 Apr 2008 at 6:13 am 3

    Max,

    Your first scene was Tet 68. I do not think it would happen in Iraq although the effect of the Basra debacle shows the US in Iraq has far lower prospects than in 1968.

    The thread on 4 GW is outstanding!!

    Thank you and Mr Lind!

  4. maximilliangcon 19 Apr 2008 at 4:49 pm 4

    loggie20on 19 Apr 2008 at 6:13 am

    (SNIP)” Tet 68. I do not think it would happen in Iraq although the effect of the Basra debacle shows the US in Iraq has far lower prospects than in 1968.”

    Good timing.

    Ask yourself what would happen if the US sustained losses
    in the hundereds, or even several thousdands of personel in a period of days or a few short weeks.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080419/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

    “Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gave a “final warning” to the government Saturday to halt a U.S.-Iraqi crackdown against his followers or he would declare “open war until liberation.”

    Now this from “the Pentagon’s premier military educational institute. ”

    And it only took 62 months or so, to figure this out, and come
    to this conclusion ! Arn’t you glad “they” are on “our” side ?!
    (sarc)

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20080418/wl_mcclatchy/2913186_1

    Pentagon institute calls Iraq war ‘a major debacle’ with outcome ‘in doubt’

    By Jonathan S. Landay and John Walcott, McClatchy Newspapers Thu Apr 17, 8:38 PM ET

    “WASHINGTON — The war in Iraq has become “a major debacle” and the outcome “is in doubt” despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon’s premier military educational institute.”

  5. maximilliangcon 19 Apr 2008 at 9:23 pm 5

    Pentagon institute calls Iraq war ‘a major debacle’ with outcome ‘in doubt’

    Pathetic,
    Like I said, here we are about 62 months later, too late in point of fact.

    Where were these clowns in 2003 ?

    To his credit and testemony to his commitment and intelectual honesty Chet was the first person I came across who commited in print as not only the admission the US having lost in Iraq, but also to analyse and list as to the “why.”

    Be reminded,
    Along with those who argued before hand agaisnt the campain in the first place.

    Man, where they right, and also mercilessly maligned and belittled.

    M

  6. dnion 20 Apr 2008 at 4:26 am 6

    An administrative note:

    I had to disapprove an otherwise good comment that started talking about “Internet nut cases.”

    Please observe our comment policy.

    Re: current situation in Basra. Glanz and Rubin write in today’s NYT:

    But it was difficult to tell whether his words posed a real threat or were a desperate effort to prove that his group was still a feared force, especially given that his militia’s actions in Basra followed a pattern seen again and again: the Mahdi militia battles Iraqi government troops to a standstill and then retreats.

    This seems to me to be pretty standard guerrilla warfare tactics. Plus it’s important to remember that al-Sadr is a religious as well as a political leader and this factors, somehow, into his decisions (Pat Lang says that he claims to talk directly with the Mahdi).

  7. Derfel64on 20 Apr 2008 at 6:28 am 7

    [Dear Derfel64 — I’m not in the business of editing comments. CR]

    Lind ignores reality, refuses to thoroughly check the stream of info coming from Iraq (the fog of war) and picks a few anecdotes to “confirm” his mantra. A sunni representative or important person from Basra, I don´t remember exactly whom he was, told the NYT a few days after the start of Cavalry Charge that the Mahdi Army controlled more of Basra than at the start of the offensive. Apparently this was the source upon which Lind could claim that “the affair reportedly ended with the Mahdi Army controlling more of Basra than it did at the beginning”.

    It has been several months since the Iraqi government (or the Dawa and Isci if you prefer, although these parties only lead a larger organization and armed forces) began agressively attacking Sadrist turf. The Sadrists are on the defensive and, for the most part, waging a war for survival; at the very least the government wants to end their control of the streets in certain areas and dramatically reduce their influence. It may have done this because it knew that it could rely on the US, but not because the US urget it to – American officials have been calling Sadr by “sayyed” and have been apparently aloof during the confrontation of the recent months.

    The Iraqi Army is now dealing huge blows at the Sadrists in Basra, yet they still refuse to make another uprising and are as of now making more threats of open war (which, in my opinion, may this time come true – but only because the government seems determined to go its anti-Sadr campaign). So much for Lind´s claim that “Mr. al-Maliki, desperate for a cease-fire, had to agree in advance to any conditions Muqtada al-Sadr cared to impose”.

    Mr. Lind is all rethoric, stereotypes, catchy phrases, myths, cliches and politicised propaganda. He gives no insight, no analysis, nothing. It´s like listening McCain. To me, he has lost all credibility he could have.

  8. maximilliangcon 20 Apr 2008 at 7:06 am 8

    “This seems to me to be pretty standard guerrilla warfare tactics.”

    Indeed moreover, events suggest “they’re” controlling the agenda, manipulating the situation and indigenous public sentiments, being well ahead in the OODA loop.

    A major bloodbath is under way, with possibly the worst by far, yet to come.

    http://www.antiwar.com/updates/?articleid=12714

    “Saturday: 2 US Soldiers, 95 Iraqis Killed;”

    Note to Washington and the mainstream press if any,

    Kindly spare anymore BS about the Surge,
    and reduced casulties.

    http://antiwar.com/casualties/

    http://wiredispatch.com/news/?id=135250

    As Chet explains
    Also From the NYT;

    “Why his fighters have clung to those fight-then-fade tactics is unknown.”

    Very telling, translation, “we havn’t got a clue,
    and so let’s blame Iran.”

    MaX

  9. maximilliangcon 20 Apr 2008 at 7:22 am 9

    Classic, absolutely classic example of
    hit & run, decoy 4GW tactics.

    A perfect setup for US & Brit forces to inflict meaningless destruction of urban landscape, and to inflict civilian casulties.

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/080420/world/international_iraq_dc

    “Iraqi forces, backed by a thunderous bombardment from U.S. warplanes and British artillery, encountered little resistance on Saturday when they moved in to seize control of a Sadr bastion in the southern city of Basra.”

  10. Mycophagiston 20 Apr 2008 at 1:33 pm 10

    “Why his fighters have clung to those fight-then-fade tactics is unknown.”

    Mr. Sadr has the knowledge that we are prepared to level any City where the resistance is too strong. He’s intelligent enough to know, that no matter who is in charge in Washington, eventually we will either leave, or cut our force level to the point where it’s academic.

    He will do only the amount of fighting needed to preserve his armed force. He’s ready to have cease fires, because they Politically benefit him.

    I disagree with Mr. Lind, only to the extent of saying, that it WAS a defining moment. It removed what veil was left to the myth that there is an Iraqi State. That was certainly defined for all and sundry to see…

    Or perhaps I don’t even disagree at all – Since it also confirmed the situation. Mr. Sadr would love to see a general uprising. But until that occurs, he’s trying to keep the military option in reserve.

    Dave

  11. loggie20on 20 Apr 2008 at 2:46 pm 11

    Derfel64

    “The Iraqi Army is now dealing huge blows at the Sadrists in Basra, yet they still refuse to make another uprising and are as of now making more threats of open war (which, in my opinion, may this time come true – but only because the government seems determined to go its anti-Sadr campaign). ”

    Please provide links, dates and independent reports on that.

    Then explain something of the meaning of an elected government needing to use army and special police commandos on their populace.

  12. maximilliangcon 20 Apr 2008 at 4:11 pm 12

    “I disagree with Mr. Lind, only to the extent of saying, that it WAS a defining moment.”

    Dave, I think he means the “defining” statements by Patreaus that
    he really dosn’t understand the concepts of 4GW and what it
    is he’s up against.

    M

  13. Mycophagiston 21 Apr 2008 at 11:15 am 13

    maximilliangc wrote:

    “Dave, I think he means the “defining” statements by Patreaus that
    he really dosn’t understand the concepts of 4GW and what it
    is he’s up against.”

    I was half kidding around with semantics. But since yesterday, I’ve been thinking about this and have concluded that Petreaus knows damn well that he wont come out of this all shinny and nice unless he creates a reasonable facsimile of an Iraqi State.

    The press coverage is quite interesting with many US outlets saying that Maliki has picked up political support, while UK outlets describe this as an on-going disaster. Maliki HAS picked up support, but this support does not translate into power. Yet we have this increased assault against Sadr. What gives here? Does Petreaus think that this means he can create a State by simply eliminating Sadr? Is he ready to take the blowback?

    Meanwhile Iran is BOTH condemning Sadr in Basra, and condemning the operations around Sadr City.

    I don’t buy any of this. While you can eliminate Warlordism by backing the top warlord, Makiki is a poor mans top warlord indeed. Petreaus is staking up cards without a foundation. I give it a month… Wait for my mea culpa on May21!

    Dave

  14. Dr_Vomacton 21 Apr 2008 at 1:12 pm 14

    Fight and fade…yes sound tactics for any guerrilla, urban or otherwise. Al Mal reportedly has done good work “uniting” some factions against Sadr…but what, exactly, does that mean, other than talk? I don’t see any effective joint operations between, say, the “government” and Kurdish militia going after Sadr. I see massive blundering on the “government” side, accompanied by equally massive desertions, and I see Sadr’s forces fading into the woodwork. What does that mean?

    As Mr. Lind observes, I think Sadr is intent on preserving his fighting power, which means avoiding a pitched battle with the Americans. If he keeps it up, we will soon hear that’ he’s totally defeated…after all, he doesn’t hold any real estate (read: fixed address where he can be attacked). That would really be the coziest briar patch for this particular rabbit…out of sight, out of mind—until the time ripe.

  15. maximilliangcon 22 Apr 2008 at 9:32 am 15

    Dave writes;
    ” don’t buy any of this.”

    Dr. V writes;
    “If he keeps it up, we will soon hear that’ he’s totally defeated…after all, he doesn’t hold any real estate (read: fixed address where he can be attacked). That would really be the coziest briar patch for this particular rabbit….”

    I tip my hat to both of you, and I thank Chet personely
    for providing a forum where we can share perspectives
    and enjoy this calibre exchanges and insight.

    It is so very refreshing a departure from the mainstream.
    That’s what makes this place is very unique.
    MaX C.

  16. Dr_Vomacton 22 Apr 2008 at 12:35 pm 16

    According to the BBC, US and Brit forces are heavily involved in fighting the Mahdi:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7360634.stm

    Where is Gordon of Khartoum when we need him?

  17. maximilliangcon 22 Apr 2008 at 5:45 pm 17

    Dr_V
    “US and Brit forces are heavily involved”

    No Dougbt.

    http://www.antiwar.com/updates/?articleid=12726

    “I see massive blundering on the “government” side, accompanied by equally massive desertions,”

    Not to mention rampant, top to bottom abject CORRUPTION.

    I’m glad it’s not just me, I was beggining to dougbt my own sanity.
    Although I was just a kid at the time, but have subsiquently studied.

    And so It’s striking how so increadibly this scenario smacks of the US
    experience fighting FOR, the South Vietnamese forces, in the latter
    half of THAT collosal mis-adventure.

    Finnaly, where does this leave her ?

    http://tinyurl.com/6hjzt7

    MaX

  18. seydlitz89on 23 Apr 2008 at 6:24 pm 18

    Couple of interesting links. . . First, an attempt at distancing by the current puppets . . .

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JD19Ak01.html

    So, they didn’t wish to fight, but the fight continues? And why go after Sadr. . . ?

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JD23Ak05.html

    I think Lind is both on to something and has got it completely wrong. . . How could that be?

    From a Clausewitzian perspective, of course. . .

    First, the bad news, as least for this audience, is 4GW, the hopelessly reified theoretical concept, is useless as strategic theory, since it doesn’t really describe anything, at least in the sense strategic theory from a Clausewitzian perspective attempts to. That is theory as a yardstick with which to compare reality, not as a “cookbook” as to how to win wars.

    Second, on the other hand, it very much describes a certain and very questionable “art of war” – that is contrary to Lind’s whole purpose/perspective as well – in that it describes very much Dick Cheney’s strategy in Iraq, and in general. That is Cheney (an acolyte of John Boyd) is the actual 4GW warrior par excelance. I leave it to others to consider the domestic political military/operational implications of this . . .

    I think we can forget about Bush, since his concept of strategy seems to consist of repeating empty slogans. . .

    http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=4634219

    What would John Boyd think of all of this? I have no idea, but somehow doubt if we would be able to publish his comments.

  19. maximilliangcon 24 Apr 2008 at 8:21 am 19

    seydlitz89

    “First, the bad news, as least for this audience, is 4GW, the hopelessly reified theoretical concept, is useless as strategic theory,”
    SNIP
    ” not as a “cookbook” as to how to win wars.”

    I disagree, but then again, I have the advantage (also curse)
    of having grown up in a 4GW enviroment. You might say it’s in my bones.

    You have to take a much larger veiw.
    Take a look at this for example.

    Carter is playing “thier game,” (4GW) he’s got the proven track
    record, and can pull the rug out from under the minority
    of die hard fanatics, who currently enjoy popular support.

    With help, and co-operation from the US side, and Isreal he can do it.

    The big question is, does the US or Isreal ever want to resolve
    this ?

    Perhaps never, with so many making a buck ?

    http://www.twincities.com/national/ci_8977554?source=rss

    A meaningfull truce, and then settlement between and Isreal and it’s enemies would go far in usurping AlQuida’s legitimacy, and longer term
    existance.

    MaX

  20. Mycophagiston 25 Apr 2008 at 4:41 pm 20

    seydlitz89 wrote:
    “From a Clausewitzian perspective, of course. . .”

    A Clausewitzian perspective assumes some sort of resolution, not a continuous repetition of circualar reasoning…

    ************
    In the south of Iraq, coalition forces face riots and attacks that are being incited by a radical cleric named al-Sadr. He has assembled some of his supporters into an illegal militia and publicly supported the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Al-Sadr’s methods of violence and intimidation are widely repudiated by other Iraqi Shia. He’s been indicted by Iraqi authorities for the murder of a prominent Shia cleric.

    In addition, members of the Governing Council are seeking to resolve the situation in the south. Al-Sadr must answer the charges against him and disband his illegal militia.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/gate/archive/2004/04/13/bush13.DTL

    April 13th 2004
    ***********

    Dave

  21. Mycophagiston 25 Apr 2008 at 5:48 pm 21

    To expand a bit on my post, I take out my very expensive analogy machine.

    Poor players at 4GW are condemned to a particular kind of hell. They are playing a video game, and being the players that they are, often get no place.

    And then time runs out.

    They have to reach for another quarter and start all over again…

    I neglected to label my link properly before, here’s another excerpt; it’s from a press conference by President Bush.

    ***************
    Bush Press conference

    We’ll also need to continue training the Iraqi troops. I was disappointed in the performance of some of the troops. Some of the units performed brilliantly. Some of them didn’t. And we need to find out why. If they’re lacking in equipment, we’ll get them equipment. If there needs to be more intense training, we’ll get more intense training.

    But eventually, Iraq’s security is going to be handled by the Iraqi people themselves.

    April 13th 2004
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/gate/archive/2004/04/13/bush13.DTL
    ********

    Yet Mr. Bush is quite correct in that last sentence. Be careful what you pray for.

    Dave

  22. seydlitz89on 25 Apr 2008 at 6:02 pm 22

    Dave-

    “A Clausewitzian perspective assumes some sort of resolution, not a continuous repetition of circualar reasoning…”

    Explain that, please . . . so you’re saying that in the middle of an interaction between two political communities at war, some “resolution” is forced, or comes. . . or you don’t know (because I sure don’t know) . . . or are you saying that war is some sort of natural state?

    Please specify.

    In all your view fits into this particular art of war rather tightly btw . . . from a Clausewitzian perspective of course.

    I’m still thinking about my response to Max. . .

  23. seydlitz89on 25 Apr 2008 at 6:29 pm 23

    Max-

    Nice response. William Pfaff most reflects my view as far a commentators go. . .

    http://www.williampfaff.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=308

    Since we are talking about theory, we can enjoy the theoretical side, without having to get into specifics. Say that our country, “Land of The Heros” (LTH) captured another county, Bubfuqistan (BFS), as the result of a successful war. Say that LTH wished to exploit BFS in any of various ways: establishing political control, a colony or puppet state; control of economy, natural resources, rights to military bases; and/or enslavement of the BFS people. We have plenty of examples of this from history, and in terms of 4GW, you guys are supposed to “think outside the box”, right?

    So whatdoyado? You do everything you can to ensure that BFS remains hopelessly divided and can never form a state, you target whichever political grouping appears to be accomplishing any sort of material political cohesion within BFS, while you at the same time use force, intimidation, tricks, bribes, incentives, and whatever to establish your colony/puppet state. Label whoever attempts to stand against you as “gunmen”, never allow them any sort of political legitimacy at all, “they’re all crazy, anti-BFS”. Deny their very right to form their own political identity, to define what they are as a political community, they are defeated and must accept your definition, your view of their future. . . That’s it.

    Of course the other side does have a (negative) political purpose involving the entire people (which is the strongest position), and continues the war . . . so you never have resolution.

    Now, how would we add subjective “interests” to this model?

  24. Mycophagiston 25 Apr 2008 at 7:35 pm 24

    seydlitz89 wrote:

    “Explain that, please . . . so you’re saying that in the middle of an interaction between two political communities at war, some “resolution” is forced, or comes. . . or you don’t know (because I sure don’t know) . . . or are you saying that war is some sort”

    Clausewitz of course can be used to cover this, or can he? He assumes State entities. Even in guerrilla war, there is a clear State, and those who seek to become the State. Can this be used to describe Iraq?

    Let’s take a different spin on the question. Could it be that the theory of 4GW is simple a logical extension of Clausewitz? That things that he simply didn’t consider because of the social and political conditions that he lived with are transformed by players that didn’t exist in his time? Did he imagine trans National Corporations which could make or break countries?

    International guerrilla movements that acted against groups of States?

    Sure he had the French Revolution staring him in the face, but they, whatever else they were, are not the same players that are running around loose in todays world.

    Clausewitz assumed that a conflict would sooner or later be resolved. It would be in some manner progressive in nature, and result in a conclusion.

    Nice press conference the President gave. How many quarters has he popped into the slot?

    Dave

  25. maximilliangcon 26 Apr 2008 at 6:15 am 25

    seydlitz89
    on 25 Apr 2008 at 6:29 pm
    23Max-

    Nice response.

    We’re all on the same page, at least most of us here.

    There are limitations as to how far one can go in discussion,
    within this medium, as opposed to a face to face conversion.

    I plan to do a formal disertation, on the political side of 4GW
    as I’ve lived and experienced first hand.

    This is an entire dimention of 4GW that we havn’t really explored,
    and has not IMO been sufficiently covered, not here anyway.

    I want to do a solid peice however that does Chet’s web sight justice,
    and that takes time and effort, I’ve got some time off coming
    in about a month, maybe then, if not then later.

    The issue of the US “embassy” in Bagdad is so patently obvious
    to those of our like mindedness.

    Moreover Chalmers Johnson sums it up eloquently,

    “we didn’t have an exist stratigy, because we never had any intention
    to leave.”

  26. seydlitz89on 26 Apr 2008 at 12:32 pm 26

    Dave-

    It depends on how you define “state”. I would define the state as simply the Hobbesian “commonwealth” which administers/exercises the monopoly of “legitimate” violence within a specific territory. The actual Western modern state only dates back to the late 19th Century, that is after Clausewitz’s death.

    So when you say that Clausewitz “assumes state entities” what you are saying imo is that Clausewitz assumes a rulership element within a political community, with which I agree. However there is an exception, as in the guerrilla war in Spain, when the nation takes the place of the government to wage a defensive war with a negative purpose.

    I think John Boyd had a lot to say and I think Martin van Creveld is a great military historian (but not a strategic theorist). Both I see as distinct from 4GW theory.

    As to resolution, well I’m talking general theory here and should the hostile intentions continue indefinately, should the occupying power simply never leave and the insurrection not burn out since they see the war as one of their political existance, then the war theoretically would go on forever. That would be the (theoretical) assumption.

  27. seydlitz89on 26 Apr 2008 at 12:54 pm 27

    Max

    I would be interested to read your paper. I think you will also find the second part of my Decline of Strategic Theory in line with your thoughts.

    You may find this interesting . . .

    http://forum.sonshi.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1597&perpage=15&pagenumber=6

  28. Cheton 26 Apr 2008 at 3:51 pm 28

    seydlitz89 & Dave,

    should the occupying power simply never leave and the insurrection not burn out since they see the war as one of their political existance, then the war theoretically would go on forever. That would be the (theoretical) assumption.

    Case in point might be the Vietnamese against the Chinese. TX Hammes describes this conflict in The Sling and the Stone.

  29. Mycophagiston 26 Apr 2008 at 9:23 pm 29

    The “iirreconcilable” difference between I and Seydlitz may simply be a question of semantics.

    When all is said and done war is a method of settleing disputes by force of arms. Whatever generation we are talking about, this is the ultimate answer.

    But when Clausewitz writes about war, basically he refers to war between States. 4GW is not just a question of different tactics necessitated by technological change. It extends the strategic viewpoint to consider non state actors.

    1. First generation war by the very nature of the term, carries the implication of incompetence. Those who understand the question know this is not the case – But it is a semantic load carried by the very terminology. “One is more primitive than “four.”

    2. But that’s not what this is all about. Marlbough and Saxe cannot be faulted. But what was modern and Perfect for them and their times, was a disaster in WW I.

    In this verbal dispute, is it a question of Clausewitz being “wrong?”

    Not at all. He cannot be faulted for Not dealing with a situation that he never imagined. Only We, meaning our leadership, can be faulted. In this war in Iraq, are we not watching the video game, reset over and over, again and again?

    I appeal to Seydlitz. What page in Clausewitz explains this? And if no page exists, shouldn’t I turn to Lind?

    Dave

  30. maximilliangcon 27 Apr 2008 at 7:59 am 30

    seydlitz89

    “I think you will also find the second part of my Decline of Strategic Theory in line with your thoughts.”

    Unfortunately Far too much to cover within the restraints of this forum.
    However I do respect that for the intellectual effort you’ve obviously
    put in.

    I do hope to revisit.

    I will say this though, your list of objectives of the current
    principle US mis-adventure included elimination of “WMDs.”
    Just as with the experience in Vietnam, when one prefaces a war
    on lies, you’re doomed, before it even starts.

    You can call that an underlieing and incontrivertable reality of 4GW, or having God NOT on your side, Karma, or sheer stupidity.

    No, I cannot define 4GW for you, however I recognise it in practically
    any form. By example, and make no mistake, Even THIS is a very real
    and potentialy quite potent form of 4GW.

    http://www.vtcommons.org/

    Incidently,
    My commentaries on “Ready Aim Mis-fire” are entirely festicous, sarcastic and toung’n cheek, meant to indulge the undertone of
    some of the analysis. Appoligies to my friends Chet & Loggie.

    One does not need to look too far in this world for excellent
    examples of the conduct of 4GW, and the mis-handling thereof.

    I am however aware of examples that were handled successfully.

    Not to offend anyone, but in the genuine interests of advancing the dialog, If one cannot distance oneself from the all too common emotional connection to the US military, and dis-appointingly I see a fair amount of evidence of this, even here.

    I recommend a slightly more distanced
    example, such as the most Isreali mis-adventures in lebanon,
    as fine examples of losing across the entire gaumet of 4GW.

    Sincercely.
    MaXimillian

  31. maximilliangcon 27 Apr 2008 at 8:21 am 31

    “In this verbal dispute, is it a question of Clausewitz being “wrong?”

    “Not at all. He cannot be faulted for Not dealing with a situation that he never imagined.”

    Take a look and listen carefully to what Boyd had to say on the topic
    of doctrine, vs Dogma.

    “You’ve got to chalange all assumptions”

    “because it’s doctrine on day one, and everyday after it’s dogma.”

    “you can play the snowmobile game, and be better than everyone else.”

    “cuz if ya got one doctrine, you’re a dinasour.”

    MC

    http://homepage.mac.com/ace354/Boyd/iMovieTheater36.html

  32. seydlitz89on 27 Apr 2008 at 2:21 pm 32

    Chet-

    Thanks for the heads up, I have the book in question and will have a look.

    Dave-

    I don’t really understand what you want me to provide. Could you make it a bit clearer? If you are refering to Clausewitz’s thoughts concerning the state check out Bk 8, Ch 3B where he describes three different “ideal types” of political communities, along with states in ancient times.

    Max-

    The “WMDs” were part of the original war aims, that is questionable, but as Mr. Wolfowitz has said, was “something everybody could agree on”. Also, if you read the official war aims there is nothing to excuse the US military for not having planned for Phase IV operations in Iraq, unless of course they were not taking those directives seriously.

    As to the root “national security” problem in US? It’s a basic political problem imo, a question as to what type of country we wish to be and what we are willing to do to achieve very questionable goals. The nature of the supposed threat does not match the government’s response to it, comes across as if they see the current “long war” as rather an opportunity. 4GW and “Global Guerrillas” seem to me to be more the nature of a distraction, to divert attention from state interests.

    Consider also that the character of the state would influence the political nature and character of the war it brought about. I would include the character of the client governments in that they reflect the character of their creators.

    Dave has brought up an interesting subject concerning war resolution and how to approach this subject from a Clausewitzian perspective.

    There’s more to it then what I have mentioned so far. For instance the goal of strategy is the return to peace, that is the attainment of the political purpose through military means achieving the military aim which should provide the means for the attainment of the political purpose, in other words military victory is not the end, but a means, of strategy. Refer to Bk 2, Ch 2, OW.

    Aleksandr Svechin, the Russian student of Clausewitz described this when he wrote,

    “Each movement of a war represents a wide range of political interests and every basic decision is made under pressure from a number of political demands. War is not waged in a vacuum. . .

    “The close relationship between foreign policy and strategy also stems from the fact that in most cases strategy is incapable of bringing a war to an end solely by military means. Even the greatest representative of the strategy of destruction, Napoleon, was incapable of ending his most successful wars solely by means of armed violence and was compelled to make extensive use of political means to conclude a favorable peace. Napoleon’s popularity among the French peasantry was primarily due to his reputation as a peacemaker. Only Napoleon has been able to conclude revolutionary wars with peace treaties, the first time in 1797 and the second time in 1800. Such techniques as conceding Venetia to defeated Austria in 1797, creating the Rhine Alliance, making advances to Austria before Austerlitz and dividing rule in Europe with Alexander I, who had been severly beaten at Friedland, are Napoleon’s splendid political achievements which got his strategy out of difficult situations at moments when waging war threatened to carry him beyond the culminating point of his success. When Napoleon lost his political talents, his military undertakings began to end in catastrophes – namely the Spanish, Russian and German disasters.”

    Strategy, p 152, 154-5.

  33. Mycophagiston 27 Apr 2008 at 6:59 pm 33

    seydlitz89 wrote

    Dave-

    “I don’t really understand what you want me to provide. Could you make it a bit clearer? If you are refering to Clausewitz’s thoughts concerning the state check out Bk 8, Ch 3B where he…”
    *******

    Since part of the inherent argument for 4GW is the breakdown of the State in Modern Times and in a Modern context then I search Clausewitz in vain…

    From Book VIII, Chapter 3B

    *******
    “In order to ascertain the real scale of the means which we must put forth for war, we must think over the political object both on our own side and on the enemy’s side; we must consider the power and position of the enemy’s state as well as of our own, the character of his government and of his people, and the capacities of both, and all that again on our own side, and the political connections of other states, and the effect which the war will produce on those States. That the determination of these diverse circumstances and their diverse connections with each other is an immense problem, that it is the true flash of genius which discovers here in a moment what is right, and that it would be quite out of the question to become master of the complexity merely by a methodical study, this it is easy to conceive.”
    ********

    No help in this paragraph

    ********
    Now, whether this will be the case always in future, whether all wars hereafter in Europe will be carried on with the whole power of the States, and, consequently, will only take place on account of great interests closely affecting the people, or whether a separation of the interests of the Government from those of the people will gradually again arise, would be a difficult point to settle; and, least of all, shall we take upon us to settle it. But every one will agree with us, that bounds, which to a certain extent existed only in an unconsciousness of what is possible, when once thrown down, are not easily built up again; and that, at least, whenever great interests are in dispute, mutual hostility will discharge itself in the same manner as it has done in our times.
    *********

    Now in the above, I see a hint of an introduction to the writings of Lind. Is this your point?

    But a glimpse of Iraq, as Mr. Lind points out, we are fighting a hundred, maybe a thousand, mini-States, which in turn each have their own goals, none of which are our goals.

    Please give me a different text to study.

    Dave

  34. seydlitz89on 28 Apr 2008 at 4:48 pm 34

    Dave-

    Which translation are you using? Try Paret/Howard the next time you attempt to read On War.

    Also you had me going there for awhile, since I believed that maybe you actually wished to discuss this, but now I see you’re more interested in reinforcing what you already think to be true.

    So with that aim in mind, imo don’t ask about what our political purposes might be in Iraq, or how to define the state, or the nature of what’s going on in terms of domestic psyops . . . just stick with what you’ve got. . .

    “4GW opponents have no jugular. 4GW is war of the capillaries. What we have our teeth into in Iraq is a jellyfish.”

    I mean if this “analysis” works for you, then go with it.

    Happy trails.

  35. Mycophagiston 29 Apr 2008 at 1:51 pm 35

    seydlitz89 wrote

    “Also you had me going there for awhile, since I believed that maybe you actually wished to discuss this…”

    A difficult venue to discuss things in depth… :)

    The decline of the State!

    Is this new? No, as a student of history, I can explain in detail the death of the Roman Republic, which occured, not with the advent of Ceasar crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC, but with the death of the last Gracchii brother in 121 BC. Would this be illuminated by Clausewitz, who touched on the Roman State from time to time?

    Since we know that the Empire came out of the above, is this even relevant? The Sulla’s, the Mariuses, the Pompey’s, marched across time and space while the public simply watched in horror.

    But in todays world, a technological shift has occured; the opponenets of the State have weapons available that make those who were powerless in those times, players in the world stage. That non-State actors have a power that Clausewitz could not have imagined.

    Don’t you think that this new alignment of powers deserves a break in conventional thinking? By no means is the past rendered irrelevant – But that relevance has to be placed in a context?

    My apology for my tongue in cheek remarks – But it seems to me, that like Clausewitz, you see the Modern State itself as an unchanging institution; that opponenents of this State merely seek to grab the controls, and repeat the process. That the changes of modern technology and social relationships need only be taken into “tactical” and not “strategic” change.

    In my opinion we are in the “Grachii” stage of the destruction of the State; poor as that analogy is.

    It’s never easy to read, as the Bible says, “The handwriting on the wall.”

    Dave