Tuesday, January 06, 2009

FROM CLAUSEWITZ:

I wanted to open this with a big paragraph about how I don't usually write about politics and that this isn't referring to anything specific. Read it for yourself.

“Plundering and devastating the enemy’s country, which play such an important part with the Tartars, with ancient nations, and even in the Middle Ages, were no longer in accordance with the spirit of the age.  They were justly looked upon as unnecessary barbarity, which might easily induce reprisals, and which did more injury to the enemy’s subjects than the enemy’s Government, therefore, produced no effect beyond throwing the Nation back many stages in all that relates to the peaceful arts and civilization.  War, therefore, confined itself more and more, both as regards means and end, to the Army itself.” Carl von Clausewitz "On War" pp383  Anatol Rapoport translation

So- this is the basis of the concepts of proportionate force and attempting to limit civilian casualties (cf Israeli warnings to neighborhoods about exactly when and where they would strike.)

This seems obvious and right, yet what happens when you face an enemy who deliberately uses your feelings, beliefs, protocols, customs and laws to harm you and conserve his own strength?  When he deliberately hides his firing positions in civilian areas, or hospitals or schools?

It’s a great soundbite- once you have the media on your side you can be confident that they will not show the damage or bodies of that you have inflicted, but they will film in loving detail the shattered bodies of the children that you used for a shield. You targeted bus stops, but you were never so evil as to target schools...and yet you hid your weapons in schools and fired from them. No matter, roll the cameras and show the broken children and cry for restraint.

Very neat, very effective, but it presages another sea change in the art of war. It is time for a different spirit for a new age.

More from Clasuewitz- paraphrased. For a time, war was seen as a political thing involving mostly the cabinet and the army. With the rise of the French Republic, everyone felt that they were part of the State, not the subjects of a State. War became everyone’s business and we wound up with the entire weight of a nation on the French side versus only the army and the politicians on the other. Wherever Napoleon met this old way, he crushed them.

Not until Spain had its citizen’s insurgency; Austria made the extraordinary step of activating many of its citizens for war and Russia deliberately followed the Spanish lead- only then did the Grande Armee begin to lose.

Someone said (and I wish I knew who) that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.

So we live in a country where most citizens have never served in the Armed Forces and some citizens openly show contempt for those who do; where people vote as if the primary purpose of the government were to ensure that the voters have enough possessions; where decisions about war are made not by the popularly elected legislative branch (as required by the constitution) but by the largely appointed executive branch… have we regressed to the model described by Clausewitz? Tradition (policy, procedure) and equipment against people? People adapt very fast, bureaucracies less so.

And so another point. Winners always lose. The problem with being a winner is that there is little incentive to get better and the previous losers and people that feel they are going to lose have nothing better to do than to harness all of their creativity, all of their resources and study the winner for weaknesses.  They eventually find a way… and the erstwhile winner cries that it wasn’t fair. ‘They’ changed the rules. Changing the rules is one of the best ways to win.  And winners are terrified to change the rules that they have won by in the past.

We are in the midst of a sea-change in international conflict, even a change in what international means. That’s not true. It’s not ‘the midst’. The change has happened. I am not even sure that we are trying to play catch-up or trying to adapt in any meaningful way.  Rules that were taken for the very highest of ideals are being used by ruthless men to make better men seem careless or even vicious.  One group is fighting, or trying to fight, against ‘armies’ and reduce, even eliminate harm to civilians. The other group is deliberately blurring the line- no uniformed armies, civilians exploited to perform military functions including acting as shields, no nations to conquer or negotiate with in many cases.

Eerie parallels with the world that Clausewitz described. The old ways did not survive the crisis of Napoleon.  What will change now, and who will adapt?

43 comments:

ush said...

"The other group is deliberately blurring the line- no uniformed armies, civilians exploited to perform military functions including acting as shields"

Ever heard of the now disavowed IDF tactic that was known as the "neighbour procedure"? The British used similar tactics in the days of their empire. This line was blurred a long time ago.

Master Plan said...

It's a pretty awesomely sticky situation in that tiny little chunk of the world.

I wonder about a world of economic warfare. There doesn't seem to be much use for wars of territorial acquisition these days.

Provided the jerks with guns are detached from a formal national command and control structure and have no allegiance to the population they are operating in there's not much to be done by the population to reign them in. More so if the populace at large doesn't like the occupying forces either.

Gaza has a mighty high population density, I think the attacking from schools and such is more of an artifact of this than anything else, which isn't to say it won't be used (both pro and con) as a PR tactic. But moving around military hardware in such areas would seem to favor the populated sections both for storing and launching.

Asymmetric warfare is also the way of the future and inherently pretty ugly work. Particularly in Palestine...as a civilian...who do you complain to? And what if they just ignore\kill you for that? So then what? You get bombed by the Israelis for something you can't do anything about? Sucks all around.

Combined with extreme poverty, limited economic possibilities, and all the rest of it....seems mostly unresolvable to me.

Particularly with Hamas involved, multi-national militant organization supported economically by people who are not in the strike zones, loads of broken feedback loops, and lies everywhere.

All of that combined with what (I think) you are getting at in your post and...well, it's rather tricky. Particularly if folks go about applying "old" methods to these "new" problems. Force as leverage doesn't seem to be working in most cases. I don't think Hamas or the Taliban particularly give two fucks about civilian casualties, doesn't that mostly increase their recruiting pool anyway?

This is what tends to make me think we're in a world of economic warfare whether we realize it or not.

Removing the Talibans power would require alternative energy and in-sourcing opium\poppy\heroin production. Cut out their means of economic support and what are they left with? No money to pay suicide bomber families, no wealthy narco\petro-barons\warlords to bankroll them.

The (US) civilian disconnect between what war is and what most of us (them) seem to think it should be just adds that next layer of bullshit on top of what is already a feces rich situation.

We don't tend to see, that I know of, western civilian groups forming para-military ideological organizations for terror style attacks on other parts of the world. But then...we in the west have plenty of economic opportunities available to us. For parts of the world where the majority of the populace is dirt poor and likely to stay that way...I think this type of extremism is most likely to flourish. Which makes me wonder what would happen if we dropped money on them instead of bombs. There would still be the issue of roaming groups of loosely organized jerks with guns and a near total lack of infrastructure for any kind of meaningful economic base but....if what you're doing doesn't seem to be working...maybe time to try something else?

Speculations from a arm-chair REMF on a metaphorical Monday morning.

Worg said...

Asymmetric warfare is the flip side of the revolution in military affairs.

For a large number of reasons, warfare has come to favor small groups of highly-networked actors who may be multinational or non-national in nature. You're going to see more of this: swarming, pulsed attacks, increasingly sophisticated use of the media on all sides.

It's interesting you'd mention Clausewitz. I've said for a long time that what we're seeing here is the slow decline of the nation state.

Because of the superpower conflict, superpower militaries were forced to evolve into forms suitable for attacking other superpowers. The United States moved toward warfare designed to collapse the rigid military hierarchies of Soviet Bloc nations. And it worked very, very well as far as it went: Saddam Hussein collapsed like a house of cards, not once but twice.

But you can't kill a swarm of gnats with a sledgehammer, and so we've been forced into a frantic process of retooling for an increasingly widespread guerrilla insurgency. Part of what you're talking about has to do with provoking a disproportionate response from the superpower, thereby using his strength against him. Preventing this from happening would require a centeredness and measured decision-making process that seem to be in very short supply in the West.

Total war isn't the only manifestation of national will.

If you're interested in more on this subject, read the Ronfeldt / Arquilla papers available on rand.org. Start with the papers on cyberwar and go on to Arquilla's material on Zapatista netwar. Further, read the paper on unrestricted warfare by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui.

I'm sure you understand that this phenomenon goes way past the Middle East. One thing's for sure: clusterbombing civilian populations, use of torture and other war crimes are exactly the wrong way to go about winning this sort of war. It's a hearts and minds battle, something that has appeared to be entirely lost on the exiting administration, to our great detriment.

Rory said...

Ush- When one group sees that there is a problem and has mechanisms in place, such as a high court that can give an injunction and that injunction is respected... I find that to be a qualitative difference.

However and I think Jonas and Worg hit on it- things are changing. Will the concept of a nation/state have any meaning in 100 years? Does it now? If it dies, how horrific will the death throes be?
If standing armies can be worn down, not actually by militias but by their own politicians and media, the definition of strength has changed.
Can warfare transition to something entirely done with money- not even money but the electronic representation of money? Who will pioneer this? Some of the pieces are in place, like freezing accounts and forensic accounting. It would profoundly affect the upper echelons of many organizations- will they adapt by pushing initiative downward? Would that offset a lack of money?

Worg- we need to have a long talk sometime. The closer you are the more the things that matter hit lower on Maslow's hierarchy. And some of the american definitions and assumptions are very... american. Sorry to be cryptic.

Rory

Worg said...

What's happening is similar in a way to earthquakes: conditions change far underground for a long time, and things are held together by friction and inertia: it's a feedback system and the equilibrium is too strong still for it to entirely fly into chaos. Meanwhile, all up and down the fault line there are smaller quakes, which all have a tendency to subside into the larger equilibrium.

Then, something happens: a rock bends a little too far and snaps, or two small quakes happen at once, and the cumulative pressure is too much for the system to bear. Rocks start sliding against each other. Friction is gone, and once things start really moving, inertia is facing the wrong direction, and so for a time the system becomes unstable.

Eventually, it finds a new basin of equilibrium and the chaos drains out of the system.

Right now, conditions are less favorable for nation states than they've been for maybe a thousand years. And not just in one place, but all over the globe. What that means is that there is no external source of stability to anchor any one nation or group of nations. Electronic communications have vastly increased the speed of social events, so things happen simultaneously all over the place.

This high propagation speed is both the great advantage and the great disadvantage of globalization. One current example is the economic troubles, which are not over, and nobody really knows how deep the rabbit hole goes. Unlike the great depression, the failure cascade is worldwide and appears to be gaining steam.

Chaotic conditions favor small, light and agile actors. Because they have no logistics chain to speak of, they are harmed less by friction than larger groups. Unlike heavier adversaries they are able to capitalize on the chaos. They begin to co-opt some of the functions traditionally fulfilled by the now-failed state. They begin providing basic goods and services, and to hinder the superpower adversary's attempts to do the same.

The goal of the superpower is to restore order in the form of a top-down hierarchy. The goal of the networked force is to prevent traditional order from being restored.

The traditional hard-power military has a requirement for ordered conditions-- visible in the preference for setpiece battles like Gulf War I and the dislike for the obscurity of Vietnam. If the goal of the superpower is nationbuilding, and there is an adaptable, agile and resilient group trying to stop nationbuilding from happening, restoration of order becomes a tall order indeed.

The order provided by the nationstate itself becomes a schwerpunkt. Hitting that target may induce a failure cascade resulting in conditions more favorable to the networked group. This is the reason why networked groups have been hollowing out vulnerable states (Somalia, Pakistan) and wearing them as protective shielding.

The state is still a source of stability, but increasing resources need to go into maintaining the stability of the state and economy. Those resources are then unavailable for other purposes, like military and economic development. Attacks to these brittle systems can happen on a shoestring budget (cyberwar, black swan terrorism) while the cost of securing all possible targets is prohibitively expensive.

Ultimately it all boils down to the fact that it's much easier to cut the head off of a chicken than to put it back on again. Propped up by infusion of resources and increasingly unable to stand on their own, nation states are increasingly vulnerable to any group able to kick out the supports...

Master Plan said...

Don't know where this goes...so I'm putting it here.

You did Meditations on Violence and prior bloggings indicate you are working a Principles and...somethingsomething type follow up.

Along the lines of "Taking it to the streets: how to make your martial art street effective" or whatever Paladin named that one.

ANYway....how about The Language of Violence? (for a title)

A cursory googling doesn't turn up anything actually MA\SD related and...it's kinda missing, the idea.

It's hard to discuss a thing without a language for that thing, doesn't really matter what the language is, etc, just so long as it's semi-consistent.

Monkey Dance, SSR\Adrenal Dump, Woofing, etc, etc.

Just a thought I had last night, you could work the ...."on\of Violence" title theme.

The Language of Violence...*I* think it's catchy. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I can see where your going with this Rory. Of course for Americans the conflict is seen through filters, largely molded by a very effective media management that makes the aggressor in the conflict seem a poor, innocent victim

We see some of that played out in Ush's post, as well as others. The rag-tag defenders of an oppressed and occupied people not wearing uniforms-shocking, how unlike the French Resistance, or Zionisms own terrorists groups (the Irgun, the Stern Gang for two--or even like the minutemen, for that matter.

Von C. was right, military doctrine responds to the demands people put on it. And Rory is right in saying that many Americans lack military service or understanding of the military. Look at the Bush admin, not a REAL vet among them except Powell, and even he was known as a staff weenie.

I see no great criticism of the military in America today. Perhaps not even enough. When I hear of things like the gang rape of 4 yo Iraqi girls, and the murder of her and her family--I ask, where the f*** was the squad leader when this psycho junior enlisted led the rest of the squad in their crime.

When I see junior enlisted scapegoated for the crimes of abu grabe, I wonder what is up with the whole command structure. Too many people with stars "just following orders" the last five years.

If the goal of Israel is to destroy Hamas, that is not going to be obtained by this attack. Indeed, the tighter they press-the more civilians they murder (and unjust war IS murder)-the stronger the will to resist will be.

If the last sixty years have shown nothing, it is that Israel will not gain peace through military terror. And that is what Israel is doing, terrorism plain and pure. They may try to keep the appearance of just action, but they are killing hundreds of innocents, and the deaths are a predictable result of their actions. Saying "we do not target civilians" while bombing in a dense population area is a thin sophism.

So if hat is the goal, they are not going to get it. The IDF is known for being good warriors, and if such a stupid and counterproductive strategy is used-one must ask, what IS their goal?

The costs of Israel's colonization of Arab lands, their ethnic cleansing in 1948 and refusal to allow the refugees to return-the ongoing illegal settlements-is high. The US taxpayer funds a lo of it, and the bill also includes things such as 19 middle class youths who were willing to die attacking us a few years back. Backlash is a bitch.

How long is the USA willing to pay this bill? The average Israeli, who I think does not really want to play the role they have created for themselves over the last sixty, seventy years?

Hamas will never defeat Israel militarily. But the cost of occupation and oppression is increased by what Hamas does-albeit at a much higher price for Palestinians.

But then, they are the ones paying the highest price overall...

On another issue, removing the opium profits would merely be matter of ending prohibition :)

Kai Jones said...

the deaths are a predictable result of their actions.

No, the deaths are a predictable result of Hamas hiding men and arms, sending rockets into Israel from among the civilian population (even in schools and places of worship), instead of observing the rule of modern warfare about locating military objectives away from civilian centers.

As Steven Den Beste puts it:

All the internationalist condemnations right now of Israel for its "disproportionate response" are really attempts to get the Israelis to fight at a level low enough to be logistically sustainable for Hamas.

And Daniel Finkelstein brings it all down to one tiny thing, just words:

The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.

Western culture will rush to their aid, build them new roads and cities, give them money and finance factories and other types of business for their employment, if only they could just admit that Israel has a right to exist.

Worg said...

"instead of observing the rule of modern warfare about locating military objectives away from civilian centers. "

When the Palestinians have Apache gunships, we can talk about rules. Rules are made by and for the powerful aggressor.

Hamas and Hezbollah have evolved a new way of war that dislocates the Israeli heavy artillery. The western powers don't like this very much.

Israel can sit in Tel Aviv with their high-technology standoff munitions, their heavy armor and their nuclear arsenal. For the Palestinians, it's much closer to the bone.

Rory said...

Don't get emotional. Scratch that, get as emotional as you want but DO NOT let your emotions give you an excuse to screw with the facts. I am learning a lot from this, from everybody. That is valuable to me.

Worg, I'm calling you specifically:
"When the Palestinians have Apache gunships, we can talk about rules. Rules are made by and for the powerful aggressor."
Simply bullshit- when each of the rules can be traced through history with a specific purpose to protect the non-combatants AND it is clearly not helping the people you label the aggressor, the statement is simply untrue. The rest of the post had good insight.

Again- emotion good. Different opinions, good. Varied facts to support those opinions, excellent (especially sourced). Descend to ad hominem or strawman attacks and I'll flush it.

Worg said...

"Simply bullshit"

Rory, please be specific.

I'm well aware of the complexities of the conflict there. But only one of the sides has superpower backing, and in fact Israel could be said to be a pocket superpower. Only one of the sides has post-industrial weapons.

The United Nations and the CFR make the rules. Bannings of cluster and WP could be said to favor the poorer side, but that's only because they don't have these sorts of weapons in the first place: if they did, and if they had Apaches and Merkava-IIIs, they would most certainly be using them.

My point has nothing whatsoever to do with the validity of militant islam; for my views on that subject and the rest of religion, see Pat Condell's hilarious videos on youtube.

No, my point is simply that they, and Hezbollah in particular, are playing a far more sophisticated 4-5GW game than the superpower-backed netcentric military involved, and it's largely for the reasons that I explained above.

The strategy is superpower baiting. So far (since 85 or so) it's been extremely effective. I expect another ignominious pullout by the IDF within a week or so, followed by much skyward AK fire. Then you have to ask yourself who really won, and who lost. My guess is that the real loser here is the so-called "peace process."

But at least be honest: the modern media battle is a guilt-slinging and victimhood game, and all sides are playing it. Some more effectively than others.

Rory said...

Worg- I gave the exact quote and the exact fallacy; not sure how to get more specific than that. The Laws of Land Warfare were written by the so-called great states to limit each other. It was a convention among _equals_ to limit damage to non-combatants and to their own industrial and agricultural infrastructure. By equals to apply to equals, not by the powerful; and they clearly cripple the response in asymmetrical warfare, so clearly not written _for_ the (benefit of) powerful either.
The rest of what you write has been very good analysis. Take it two levels deeper and it gets really ugly.

Aside (to everybody)
One of the reasons I don't want this turning into a specific Israel/Hamas discussion is that there are perspectives I have been gaining lately that I cannot share. To hint- I was offered today, as a gift, a Palestinian yeshma (sp? phonetic, dialect) the red and white checkered head scarf. I am learning a lot here, including some of the differences between how Americans see things and how others do. Also when a gift is a test.

So, if you could, a notch more abstract- war is changing? How? To the advantage of whom? How do we (and who is 'we') adapt? What will change? Will the changes be as profound and world shattering as the rise of the republics in the late 1700's? When your moral stances are your vulnerabilities, how do you give up the vulnerabilities and keep your morals? Is there any way to have a profoundly successful but perpetual society? Or does every success carry it's own destruction? Has anyone else read Montesquieu's spirit of the law?

Rory

Worg said...

I think the general subject in general tends to be more interesting anyway than that specific conflict, although the previous Hezbollah war was very interesting indeed, especially because of off-the-shelf consumer goods repurposed by Hezbollah and sent to them by sympathizers in Western countries.

The thing is, asymmetric warfare is necessarily war on the cheap. If those groups had access to modern weapons and funding, they wouldn't be asymmetrical anymore.

That's why they have to use the laws of warfare and rules of engagement against nationstates. The reason it's a weakness for the superpowers is because they are not able to play the victim card when the other side are underarmed, underfunded and able to mount only attacks using home-built rockets. No matter what the reality of the situation is, appearance is more important than reality, and it's very easy for them to make the superpower look like the aggressor, even when it's not true. Sometimes it is true.

One way or another, we can't expect such groups to fight according to Marquess of Queensbury rules. Breaking the rules is their entire gameplan.

In the next 15 years, expect the rise of more Aidid-like warlords, all over the world, who maintain pockets of power using Mad Max methods: the garbage of western industrialized societies molded into weaponry.

Expect the global security net to collapse even further, as more impoverished third worlders stop buying into the myth of the American Dream that we've tried so hard to export for so many years.

Expect more situations like the current oil contango and associated tanker city outside of the Persian Gulf: easy and incredibly damaging targets for netwar groups like the Somali pirates, who will find themselves able to exact a punishing tax on resources bound to the west.

Of course, one reason they are so motivated to do so is because their own countries are so incredibly poor. A few million into the Somalian economy is far more than a king's ransom.

Technological game-changers are also coming down the pike and will be arriving very, very soon. They won't favor the superpower at all.

The phenomenon is basically superempowerment. Small groups and even individuals (Personally, I'm terrified of Christian Identity nutcases) are going to be gaining the ability to do superpower-level damage to civilian populations and communication and economic infrastructures.

I actually did read "The Spirit of Laws" but it's been years...

Kai Jones said...

The question that interests me is how long will western civ hold onto the outdated notion that we have to adhere to the same moral standard regardless of the tactics of the people attacking? Where's the paradigm shift for that? In the real world there's no honor in losing even if you did play by the rules; importing the cultural attitude of sport into warfare was a huge mistake, inline with what you talk about, Rory, when you discuss the failure of MA in real-world violent attacks.

Framing is one way to lose the war of public opinion. But framing also can lead to losing the war on the ground, because the attitude you bring to decisionmaking is *framed*.

Worg said...

"the attitude you bring to decisionmaking is *framed*."

That's the problem with public perception management programs. Especially in democracies, they tend to get reflected around between the newspapers, the government and the voters until the decisionmakers are operating on a version of reality that doesn't exist at all except as a recursive media hallucination.

And there goes the decision loop.

Anonymous said...

"of course for Americans the conflict is seen through filters, largely molded by a very effective media management that makes the aggressor in the conflict seem a poor, innocent victim

We see some of that played out in Ush's post, as well as others. "

I'm not American.
I'm not making value judgments about either side in this conflict. I'm making an observation about a particular tactic.

Bearing the above in mind it's possible that you're reading my post through some filters yourself given the conclusions that you drew.
Cheers
ush

If the above seems curt it's because I'm hoping brevity equals clarity in this format, no offence taken or intended

Master Plan said...

Rory:
So, if you could, a notch more abstract- war is changing? How? To the advantage of whom? How do we (and who is 'we') adapt? What will change? Will the changes be as profound and world shattering as the rise of the republics in the late 1700's? When your moral stances are your vulnerabilities, how do you give up the vulnerabilities and keep your morals? Is there any way to have a profoundly successful but perpetual society? Or does every success carry it's own destruction? Has anyone else read Montesquieu's spirit of the law?

Kai:
The question that interests me is how long will western civ hold onto the outdated notion that we have to adhere to the same moral standard regardless of the tactics of the people attacking? Where's the paradigm shift for that?

Me:
I think it goes like:
War *is* changing but this is not the thing that matters, as much, in some ways. I think it’s more about communications technology changing. War isn’t “Over there! Over there!” anymore. It’s always right here, right now, in your face, 24\7, on the TeeVee. But…there’s our first interesting point. It’s not. Not really, instead we (some kind of collective civilian stratified by economics and culture “we”) get served up what “they” (some vague collection of vague organizations with vague inputs and interests) think we should\will watch. TV stations make money from commercials which are paid for using viewing stats. The more viewers, the more money. So then anything that can be done to present “news” in ways that draw viewers will “sell”.
The advantage then goes to those most able to manipulate their media markets. This is trickier than it used to be as well since you’ve got multiple media markets for your message and because often you can’t quite state your message outright in many of those markets for political correctness or other localized reasons.
To get to what Kai was asking for a moment, I think it’s more about allowing a population to redefine what they are willing to do. Currently, at least in the US, I tend to get this sense that “we” (“average Americans”) are very passive in what we “allow” or encourage to happen. A near total disconnect. This is the same as the info-war media market thing. Most of “us” spend so much time (motivated by the media we consume (because it’s largely our most direct source of info)) in ideology land that “we” don’t seem to spend a lot of consideration on what is actually happening.
I think of this as “NPR Syndrome” which is where a person feels very informed about something, but, does not perform any cogitation or analysis of their own on what they’ve been informed of (to say nothing of fact checking).
People seem to like to think of War as Right or Wrong. I think this is like classic SD examples of if you have the right to pop off at the mouth with things you shouldn’t have said (to quote Eminem) or if it was Wrong for that person to bust you in the mouff two times for doing so. It doesn’t really matter. What’s happening matters (NPR Syndrome) but “So…whatchoo gonna do?” (to quote Chris Rock) is probably more important.
I hear a lot of “Israel should stop attacking those poor Palestinians…it’s obviously not working”. Ok. SO…what are you going to DO about it? Let the rocket attacks continue? Get some anti-rocket systems in there? Lasting peace in the middle east? A Palestinian state? Etc. Don’t see a lot of input on that side of things. Just “They should stop!”. Right, well…I’m sure rapists should stop raping and murders should stop murdering, but unless you’re the dude or chick willing to wander the streets with a gun and a radio…so what?
And this is the way I think war is changing. Used to be clear cut, wars of territorial aggression, this 4GW\5GW stuff seems to have hit folks totally by surprise. I doubt that, but I’ve seen no or few signs that anybody has given it much thought.
I tend to think of economic warfare and I think the first state or non-state actor (but it’s likely to be a state from a economic\resource perspective) to realize this will start to “win” in a serious way. There are a number of stumbling blocks to successful implementation of econ-war currently. Info-war, like any war, like a fight, tends to favor the…I wouldn’t say “aggressor” because wtf does that mean? But the person who strikes first, or begins planning before the other guy, they have that reaction gap, right? If I’m swinging on your before you realize it’s a fight at all….tricky to overcome that, and when the fight is a multi-national multi-ethnic media and information battle….I just don’t think our armed services are well prepared for this, nor our (the US, and the larger “Western” world) cyber\info war folks either. I think we are way behind the curve here.
I think Hamas and Hezbollah (and the Taliban, and…) are all provided economic incentives for certain folks. They are getting benefit from those things existing. Might only be “feeling good and righteous” mental benefits, but it seems very likely to me to be a LOT more than that for the upper echelons. So, point being, this gives them another incentive, a strong one, which is to keep existing.
If we think of these non-state actors in terms of that, a desire to keep existing, rather than anything else, does a different picture emerge? I think so. We can try to reform criminals, put them in jail, etc, try to teach them that substance abuse is bad, etc, but….if we figure that some of them just like being “evil” (being who they are, doing what they do) then…are any of those measures really going to change their minds? I suspect not and by extension I expect the same is true for non-state terror orgs.
Blahblahblah. So what to do about it? Well if it’s econ-war being fought (battle of incentives) then we need to do the same thing we’d do in (conventional) Total War, destroy their incentives. Legalizing and in-sourcing the production of recreational drugs is a good start. Can we (the US) “invade” the Gaza Strip and build them a economy and infrastructure? We kinda fucked the dog on that one in Iraqistan in my opinion by blowing up so much of it. Hard to be greeted with flowers when they’ve got no water to grow them with. If 60% of Gaza is below the poverty line, out of work, living on international largesse, etc, under nourished (which readings I’ve done seem to indicate warps minds and emotions in ALL kinds of interesting ways)…what, exactly, are we expecting from them? What do we want from them?
The folks in charge of Hamas and such are not likely to be on the battlefield, near as I can tell, and indeed there may not even be a “folks in charge” it might be too decentralized for that.
I suppose it’s like another classic MA\SD divide. The MA guys says “When I get attacked like *this* then I”ll do *this*” (or they say, “When I get attacked like this…what do I do?”) but the SD guys say “Why are you getting attacked?” and “How can you avoid *that* situation?”. It’s the problem behind the problem, the meta problem, whatever you care to call it.
Palestinians (and Afghanis and Iraqis) aren’t picking one option over another…they just don’t really HAVE another option. Instead of growing poppies I can….? Instead of growing coca I can…?
I think the Chinese are ahead of the curve here. Their info-war is way better than ours (near as I can tell from the media, always a dubious proposition) and they are investing in Africa, now, to build infrastructure, so they can sell them goods and services (like..uh…infrastructure building know how?) later.
The US and Israel are doing what in the Gaza Strip and Afraqistan? Saying, “When you start being good we’ll give you a treat! But first you have to behave!”, I don’t think this will work. It’s not a child or a pet where you control their total environment (and of course how well does that type of carrot\stick approach work on teenagers anyway?) and compel certain forms of obedience.
In particular if you punish the Palestinians (or whoever) and *their friends* come over at night and egg your house…will punishing the Palestinians MORE alleviate that situation? What if instead you say, “You’re grounded! So I’m inviting all your friends over for a pool party, with beer, and strippers!”, what’s their recourse then?
I don’t like Apple, the company, so I don’t buy their shit, but if I got a free iPod, iPhone, and iSomething tomorrow….I’d be happy to keep and use them.

Sorry, long. So. War is changing towards economics. That oil cantango thing, becoming a target for Somali pirates (who are getting their bills paid, targets selected, and military hardware from….Iran? China?), that’s a economic form of warfare. As a single example. Who does it benefit? Whoever can get it working first and fastest for their benefit. Whoever can get a step ahead in the chess game before the other guy even knows what’s happening. What will change? I think it’s the directness of action. Attacking the source of the rockets won’t stop the rockets, it just makes them move to something new. It’s a Symptom vs. Disease type thing. Will the changes be as profound? Well….I dunno what those profound changes were in the 1700s (poor student of history, sry) but I think they will be…unexpected. Which might be profound. Provided we can keep pushing that internet and comms tech out there….so far everybody I’ve read has been profoundly and crucially wrong about what happens next (wrt to tech stuff) so then, same here, the results are likely to be nothing like what is predicted, and so….profound? Maybe. Morals vs. Vulnerabilities? I don’t think so, I think you have to redefine your morals. Perpetual society? Not a chance. It’s always going to be changing, for the foreseeable future at least. Problems create solutions create problems create solutions, rinse\repeat.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"That's the problem with public perception management programs. Especially in democracies, they tend to get reflected around between the newspapers, the government and the voters until the decisionmakers are operating on a version of reality that doesn't exist at all except as a recursive media hallucination.

And there goes the decision loop."

I have to say, worg, that that is brilliant.

The rush to war in Iraq is a perfect example-generated intelligence from "screwball," disseminated widely, then became confirmation of "screwballs" un-factual claims...

Anonymous said...

I said "the deaths are a predictable result of their actions."

Kai answered

No, the deaths are a predictable result of Hamas hiding men and arms, sending rockets into Israel from among the civilian population (even in schools and places of worship), instead of observing the rule of modern warfare about locating military objectives away from civilian centers.

Response:

No, the blame for deaths in a conflict go to the aggressor, and in Palestine that is and has been and will (until Israel withdraws into their legal borders, allows the refugees to return home, pays reparations etc.) b Israel.

given that the attack is centered on things like police stations, homes, etc.-an attack on the legally elected civil government of a very crowded region-I fail to see what your demand for "cating military objectives away from civilian centers. " means exactly.

It does bring to mind the plaintive calls of certain red coated folks, about those backwoods criminals who did not wear uniforms.

Israel is the aggressor, and Israel in this action is acting unjustly, neither jus ante bello nor jus in bello.

Hundreds of dead civilians, all in pursuit of a strategy which will not make them more secure-and which is almost certaily going to make them less secure.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double posts-Rory, can you fix that?

"The question that interests me is how long will western civ hold onto the outdated notion that we have to adhere to the same moral standard regardless of the tactics of the people attacking? Where's the paradigm shift for that? In the real world there's no honor in losing even if you did play by the rules; importing the cultural attitude of sport into warfare was a huge mistake, inline with what you talk about, Rory, when you discuss the failure of MA in real-world violent attacks.

Framing is one way to lose the war of public opinion. But framing also can lead to losing the war on the ground, because the attitude you bring to decisionmaking is *framed*."

The idea that we are, in the end, "losing" because we are too moral seems untrue to me.

Indeed, we are losing Iraq BECAUSE we chose to fight, even though invading was against international law. What will the backlash be from the more than 600,000 dead civilians? What is the backlash Israel faces from sixty years of conquest, occupation, and other thuggery?

The laws of war are a powerful tool for victory. A young Spec -4 medic once told me that, when he chided me for my callow bloodthirsty statement that "taking KGB troops prisoner is stupid, we should just shoot them all if it comes to that."

Thanks, Rory.

Anyway, a good thing it never DID come to that.

Master Plan said...

I suppose to restate my post more succinctly (in hopes someone might actually read it ;-) ) it goes like:

Economics is about incentives and such. Not right or wrong.

If Hamas is totally extirpated, root and branch, the incentives which they exist for\under will still exist.

Something else will take it's place.

This kind of war seems best won by changing and removing base incentives, rather than blasting the fuck out of people or things.

Gazans (Gazaites?) in particular, from what I can find, seem to have very poor incentives for anything but what they are doing, in large part because they are without options.

Anonymous said...

""The other group is deliberately blurring the line- no uniformed armies, civilians exploited to perform military functions including acting as shields"

Ever heard of the now disavowed IDF tactic that was known as the "neighbour procedure"? The British used similar tactics in the days of their empire. This line was blurred a long time ago."

USh, actually this is very similar to something the SS used to do, in Russia they would tie civilians to the bumpers of their vehicles to discourage ambush.

Lessons learned, ehh? Another war crime...

Anonymous said...

"I suppose to restate my post more succinctly (in hopes someone might actually read it ;-) ) it goes like:

Economics is about incentives and such. Not right or wrong.

If Hamas is totally extirpated, root and branch, the incentives which they exist for\under will still exist.

Something else will take it's place.

This kind of war seems best won by changing and removing base incentives, rather than blasting the fuck out of people or things.

Gazans (Gazaites?) in particular, from what I can find, seem to have very poor incentives for anything but what they are doing, in large part because they are without options."

Agreed, they lack options and will so long as Israel is interested in, at most, setting up bantu lands.

All the current battle is doing is showing that, once more, Israel will not win peace through superior firepower.

And making people support Hamas more, in Gaza, with thousands or tens of thousands more kids with relatives murdered by the IDF.

Gee, wonder how they feel about "peace?"

I agree with Worf, it is clear that (a week, a month, six months,,,,) from now the IDF will withdraw, and Hamas will endure.

Since there is no peace process I disagree about the victims-who are, again, the innocent folk of Gaza (not, mind, the actual folks using "terror" there, Hamas OR IDF

Master Plan said...

I said "the deaths are a predictable result of their actions."

Kai answered

No, the deaths are a predictable result of Hamas hiding men and arms, sending rockets into Israel from among the civilian population (even in schools and places of worship), instead of observing the rule of modern warfare about locating military objectives away from civilian centers.

Response:

No, the blame for deaths in a conflict go to the aggressor, and in Palestine that is and has been and will (until Israel withdraws into their legal borders, allows the refugees to return home, pays reparations etc.) b Israel.

***************

Now see, I think this is completely the wrong way to think about this.

Hamas does not want to win, they want to escalate.

They are launching from these places because they control them (because they are largely a non-military organization (schools, churches, hospitals, etc))the civilian casualties are to THEIR (not Israels) advantage.

Do you really think it's a mistake on their part that they build and attack from those locations? Like they are doing it because they are sleazy slimy jerkbags?

Or is Big Bad Israel being the meanie aggressor and killing those poor innocent defenseless civvies?

False choice. It's neither. IMO.

It's not about life and death, it's about economics. Survival of the organization.

What happens to the various PACs that exist to legalize marijuana after it becomes legal? Their raison d'etre is gong, their support base is gone, etc. Then they get no money and they disappear. I'm not guaranteeing that, just an example.

Hamas wants to exist because that gives them money and drugs and women and purpose and on and on. Who dies and how many die in no way matters to Hamas. If it was right or wrong in no way matters either. Continuing to exist and provide benefits is the only thing that matters.

I'm either missing something or else I'm very surprised that Israel doesn't know this. I think they've got the "adrenal tunnel vision" real bad, to continue the MA vs. SD metaphor.

Steve Perry said...

"One way or another, we can't expect such groups to fight according to Marquess of Queensbury rules. Breaking the rules is their entire gameplan."

I expect the British had very much the same notion when the rather rude American colonists hid in the woods and sniped at them from behind cover.

B'gawd, how ... uncivil of them!

Somewhere in my attic books is a copy of Mao Tse-tung (Zedong)'s little book on guerrilla warfare, written in the late 1930's. I expect most of the principles he outlined are, like Sun Tsu's Art of War, and Clausewitz's On War, still pretty much valid.(Might give Machiavelli's The Prince a look, and Musashi's Book of Five Rings, too.)

Nations and formal wars aren't the same as insurgents who hide behind the trees. Nature of the beast. You *can* kill a cloud of gnats with a hammer --if you don't mind chasing them down one at a time. It's the gnat's notion that such is a lot of trouble, maybe more than it is worth.

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. If you are outnumbered and outgunned, a standup fight is suicide.

Far as I can tell, that hasn't changed and isn't apt to any time soon.

Worg said...

I've heard that Hamas was set up by Mossad. Whether that's true or not I don't know, probably mostly not but partly yes.

The bitch of it is, conflicts like these reward a non-national nature on the part of netwar actors.

In other words, what benefits them is different from what benefits civilian populations.

Civilian populations both willingly support and are held hostage by such groups. So, in a sense, groups like these are in collusion, in the same way that the military suppliers of warring nations are in collusion.

If the war ends they lose.

All of these things are similar to emergent properties. There's that weird new math again...

Master Plan said...

Worg:
The bitch of it is, conflicts like these reward a non-national nature on the part of netwar actors.

In other words, what benefits them is different from what benefits civilian populations.

Civilian populations both willingly support and are held hostage by such groups. So, in a sense, groups like these are in collusion, in the same way that the military suppliers of warring nations are in collusion.

If the war ends they lose.

****************

This is a good point as well and I meant to address it. Same as the rest of what I wrote, but...

in as much as the larger conflicts (WW1, WW2) are wars of territorial aggression it was also a case of the nations involved in the fighting controlling the means of production of the war materials, we see that's not the case at all here.

Again, the incentives exist outside of the conflict itself (when the war ends "they" lose) so then perversely this creates an incentive to keep the war going, escalate it even.

The more Hamas, et al, can conflate the US with Israel with The Western World with hating and oppressing Islam the more they win.

If that means thousands of Palestinians have to be butchered in their sleep...well...that's the incentive then isn't it?
(Not saying Palestinians ARE being butchered in their sleep, just another example of these kinds of incentives)

Anonymous said...

I believe that your claim Hamas does not want victory is flawed. As you note, they are a mostly civil organization. They will not simply vanish in a new Palestinian State, but would become a party within that state.

On the other hand, giving up armed resistance would definitely weaken them in public support, compared to Fatah.

While the deaths of innocents is clearly part of both parties strategy-that of Hamas, in forming worlld opinion, and that of Israel, in trying to suppress Palestinians with terror-the aggressor in an unjust war is the party with prime moral culpablity.

And in Palestine, the conflicts cause is the conquest and occupation of Arab lands by Israel.

Anonymous said...

"in as much as the larger conflicts (WW1, WW2) are wars of territorial aggression it was also a case of the nations involved in the fighting controlling the means of production of the war materials, we see that's not the case at all here."

I disagree. the root of the conflict is the territorial aggression by Zionist, siezing a homeland out of lands belonging to others. All Israeli action is done on the basis of this, for instance denying the refugees the right of return (and the ethnic cleansing and terror which made the 700,000 flee in the first place) aimed at consolidating control of lands seized inside the Green Line but outside of lands partitioned to Israel, and the West Bank colonies as military buffer, liebensraum, and of course control of the water.

The Israeli's did not form the Gaza bantuland until AFTER their farmers had exploited the water table to the point of destruction due to salt water intrusion.

The conflict is mostly about land control, with Israel having some folks motivated and justified by religion (mind, the first Zionists were socialists!) and the Palestinians turning to ever more extreme religion to sustain their existence and resistance, and as really their only source of hope.

Worg said...

"the root of the conflict is the territorial aggression by Zionist, siezing a homeland out of lands belonging to others. "

I agree. The Balfour Declaration is one of the most ill-conceived documents in existence. If you ask me, it's no wonder they're enraged.

Kai Jones said...

Since Rory specifically requested that this not become a forum on Israel and Hamas, I'd like to suggest a different frame.

What would a terrorist versus foreign state conflict look like if we remove the issue of "who started it?" You know, when I was a kid and claimed my sister started our brawl, my mother didn't punish me less: I was still responsible for my actions regardless of provocation.

What about judging only based on what is happening now? Time frame is one of the most powerful frames that affects the facts we consider and the conclusions we draw, as well as the decisions we make and the actions we take.

The past only matters when we sit down to write the peace treaty; then we can acknowledge any history (or pretended history) that seems prudent and useful, but laying out the real meat of the discussion, the terms of the peace, may be most effective if we disregard a history that is itself subject to the parties' divergent framing.

Worg said...

""What would a terrorist versus foreign state conflict look like if we remove the issue of "who started it?""

If you want to talk about frames, we need to discuss what the difference is between terrorist states and non-terrorist states. Perhaps we could reframe the loaded language of "terrorist" into something neutral?

Master Plan said...

Hmm. Well I figure many militant orgs gain part of their power by being militant. Peace and rule of law reduce their power.

Hamas (and other orgs of their type, so it's not Hamas specific) gets lots of social benefits by providing social services. BUT who else can do that in Palestine?

In a peaceful Palestine (or wherever) many aid organizations and such can provide, which also reduces the power of the initial militant orgs.

Essentially with the semi-defeat of Fatah Hamas gets to corner the market on angry Palestinians. They are a monopoly, broadly, of a sort, and granting others access to their market will inherently reduce their power.

Right?

Kai: If there is a "nobody started it" type scenario....why are they fighting? Somebody always starts is and they always have a reason.

The US aided the mujaheddin in resisting the Soviets and now "they" are attacking us because we started it? Nah.

That's part of what I'm getting at. Both sides will always use ideology, morality, ethics, anything they can, to manipulate their own populations (or target demographic (say "International Muslims" for Hamas, et al) to support them.

By which I mean...it does not matter who started it, both sides will claim a moral high-ground, even if they have to make it up out of whole cloth (*cough*IraqWMD*cough*).

How can you have a peace treaty when multiple sides involved in maintaining that peace are unaffected by the treaty?

The US and the Northern Alliance sign a treaty...but the Taliban don't care.

If we created a Palestinian state tomorrow, kicked out the Israeli's in their past the green line kibbutz and such...is that going to stop Hezbollah and Hamas from staging attacks on Israel?

If we destroyed the Taliban tonight, all of them, will the narco-warlords stop producing smack?

Because the fight isn't about the fight when you resolve the fight....you don't resolve the fight.

Kinda. Maybe. :-)

Worg said...

Part of this gets into shaping the enemy, or more generally, shaping the other.

To a large extent, the superpowers are responsible for unintentionally shaping these groups, hardening their resolve and making them more resilient to attacks both physical and based on counterintelligence.

The same selection pressures have shaped them into forms that are increasingly well adapted to fighting hard power militaries: the media battle, exploiting the Geneva Conventions, et cetera.

To the extent that the superpowers are the ones with all the money, all the guns, all the technology, control of most of the media outlets, the superpowers are responsible for what they've shaped these groups into.

And since the superpowers are the ones with the lion's share of the advantages, the victim schtick doesn't work nearly as well as it does when played by the guys with bolt action rifles.

Superpowers are not going to change the situation or the behavior of these groups by throwing missiles around.

Kai Jones said...

Worg writes: what the difference is between terrorist states and non-terrorist states.

I think you're still caught up in Israel/Hamas. I'm positing a state being attacked by terrorists where the attack is not ultimately pursued by a state. Thus US versus England is not a parallel example, nor is the US civil war; in both cases the terrorism was one tactic pursued by a nation.

Does who started it matter more than what has happened since? I don't think so, and I think that's a frame that distracts from finding a solution, because the parties then argue about who started it instead of how to solve it.

Master Plan wrote: If there is a "nobody started it" type scenario....why are they fighting? Somebody always starts is and they always have a reason.

I think we are in violent agreement. :-)

Worg said...

Once again, though, if you're talking about terrorists, you aren't really looking for a reframe. A less loaded reframe would be "netwar group," because it would implicitly acknowledge that the side we're referring to is merely using the most effective means available to them...

Alternatively, we could call both hypothetical sides terrorist groups. Surely if one of these sides keeps destroying the governance infrastructure of the other side, calling the other side "terrorist" simply because they're disorganized is like throwing someone into the coal bin and then accusing him of being dirty!

Kai Jones said...

Worg: The names don't actually matter to me, so I was lazy to use terrorist to refer to the non-state actors. I don't understand the genesis of netwar, where's it from?

Master Plan said...

I think it's network-centric warfare. Meaning it's about organizations and logistic (and economic and intelligence and...) networks as the actors, rather than nations and such.

Less about controlling territory, projecting force, centralized command and control, those sorts of things.

I could be (easily) wrong but I think it's roughly analogous (for civilians at least) to 4th generation warfare, asymmetric warfare, and so forth. Each comes with it's own set of nuances and distinctions but they are largely semantic and academic for us non-involved types.

In netwar you attempt to disrupt the opponents networks, as opposed to disrupting their ground forces, etc.

Not that I really know anything about anything, but that's my understanding. Partly posting this to see how quickly I'm corrected. ;-)

Worg said...

Master Plan, you're basically right about netwar but netcentric warfare is a term that has a specific meaning within ultramodern hard power militaries. Netwar is kind of a much larger term; one of the initial terms they were considering for the concept was Leitenkrieg.

Another was Cyberwar, which has again become co-opted to mean something specific. Cyberwar and netcentric warfare might be considered to be subsets of netwar.

You're right that it's essentially 4GW and 5GW.

A capsule definition could be warfare that either consciously or unconsciously uses networks and network structures as both self-organization and as targets to attack.

The mongols could have been said to be a netwar group because of their emphasis on fast, light maneuver groups for their organization, and on their attack of enemy intelligence networks-- horse scouts-- on offense.

Consciousness of media and social networks is also a characteristic of modern netwar groups. The Zapatistas, for example, have been extremely adept in their manipulation of US media and NGOs. The Palestinians likewise.

The network structure of these groups is typically flat and highly-connected. There is no central authority, therefore decapitation warfare doesn't work. There is no top-down command hierarchy, and operations originate from within small cells, therefore command-and-control paralysis warfare doesn't work. There's simply no command net to paralyze.

The structure is more similar to mycelium than the tree-like dendrites of hard power militaries. In other words, the network structure is almost formless and communication lines and nodes shift freely within the network.

The US military has adopted flexible network structures at the tactical and operational levels, to some extent, within the command and control nets. Frag orders and suchline allow flexible decision making from troops on the ground. Interestingly, we adopted these tactics from the SS.

But netwar groups do these things at a much more fundamental and pervasive level, and in some cases, the highly connected network structures are deeply integrated in their societies.

The militias of Iraq might be one example, but the shifting and completely obscure tribal loyalties of Waziristan/Afghanistan/Pakistan (now all really Talibanistan) provide an even better one...

"Good luck with all that" is what I say to the western effort in that region.

Anonymous said...

I think my head just exploded.

Worg said...

read this:

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/NYPD_wants_tech_to_disrupt_wireless_0108.html

Worg said...

In briefings senior [Israel Defense Forces] officers conducted for foreign diplomats, they admitted the shelling to which IDF forces in Jabalya were responding did not originate from the school. UNRWA is demanding an objective investigation into whether the school shelling constituted a violation of international humanitarian law.

^^^-- if nothing else it makes a wonderful excuse for collateral damage. If you mistakenly hit a school, just blame the victims for being evil...