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The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A “New” World War: Part ne

[Authors Note: This is the first installment of a larger article, one which will appear in further development on both the Clublog and in The Cepia Club Strategy Review V. 3, N. 9, due July 2008]

A “New” World War:
Politics of War and Peace in the 21st Century: United States Successes, Failures, & Solutions

Does the U.S. in the current global war “re-fight the last successful war?” Do we wage it effectively or at great peril, peril to American liberty, prosperity, stability, and culture? When any country has won or lost a war, or a diplomatic “saber rattling,” that country’s armed forces in most cases learn from the experience of a defeat and humiliation, and then reinvent their armed forces and their approach to diplomacy and conflict. The ultimate aim sets to improve capability for a future conflict, in war, peace, or in between. Sometimes, however, armed forces get bloated with success in war, and build for the future a better military to repeat a past performance. In short, leaders want to get the “little picture” right, if too late, to redeem a war lost or fight the next war even “more like the last ‘good’ war,” but do it even better. Success and failure can sometimes come at the same time, in the same conflict, in quick succession or on top of each other.
The lessons learned from defeat cause a more urgent look at what is wrong. Victory, on the other hand, produces a “victory disease,” thinking in the national security institutions, out of choice, to see wrongly where the future will take the politics and economics of conflict, seeing what one wants to see, not what really is. It is lack vision since the end of the Cold War in 1989-1991 to see how the future would which brings the US to a point of strategic disorder in the 21st Century as America fights, without success, the multiple issues challenging her security–criminals and terrorists, energy and climate transformation, mass destructive weapons proliferation, China, and Russia, etc., etc.
As might be the case with the US since 1991's Desert Shield/Storm, does America fight the next war the same as the last? Is there history behind it? Can the US do effectively in the 21st Century what it did in the 20th, by adapting in mid-war to a new national policy and military strategy? The entire context of the politics of war and peace since 9-11-2001 in no way resembles the how, why, what, who, when of Desert Shield/Storm. But that war, both the cause and effect of it, pointed toward the future. But the future is now, and the US was unprepared after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to face this. With great consequences, the many “little” successes AND failures since 1991 have not been accurately assessed and incorporated into America’s grand design for preserving its Superpower position or its core system of Constitutional government as a republic, based on the Natural Law of individual rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Wrong Lesson Applied Right?

The United States accomplished a “re-invention” by 1989, after a complete strategic defeat in Vietnam and greater Southeast Asia, despite tactical supremacy in the seas, fields, paddies, mountains and jungles of that region. Vietnam was in essence a “conventional” war fought unconventionally by the North Vietnamese enemy. The general politics of peace and war of Vietnam followed the same course of all modern conflict since the violent birth of nationalism and socialism as ideologies in 1790s revolutionary France. In the early 1970s, after withdrawal and abandonment, the US Army, in particular among the services, retooled from the presidential order of the previous decade to fight guerilla-terrorist wars of “national liberation,” (when the enemy was backed by the weapons of the opposing Superpower, the Soviet Union). Following Vietnam, the entire US military built an entirely new army, navy, marines, and air force without the draft, and far better equipped to fight in the main theater of decision in the Cold War–the Western Europe and the Atlantic bridge to it from the Western Hemisphere.
The US Army went back to what it knew best: Preparing to fight a conventional war in a conventional way, and against a conventional Soviet enemy. The new doctrines for operating the men (absent conscription), the material, and the machines–called by the Army component, AirLand Battle operations–resembled the experience of World War II, as invented by the Germans in their Blitzkrieg campaigns: With heavy armored systems like the M1 Abrams tank, M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles; massed volumes of heavy artillery, 155 mm and larger calibers, and also missiles; and ground-support aircraft, such as the AH-64 Apache attack helicopters (the US Air Force also built better ground-support aircraft, like the A-10 Thunderbolt). A World War II-invention in warfare now appeared in mass form, forming the decisive advantage of American quality over Soviet quantity, that of digital electronic processing–the computers and the codes that run them.
Lost to the US Army high command, to the nation’s misfortune, was the need to truly learn the lessons of the unconventional “revolutionary” war. Fighting revolutions requires patience, diligence, moral clarity, and a limitation of firepower and collateral devastation to a foreign country’s citizens and infrastructure. The institutional memory and experience of Vietnam was willfully forgotten in favor of more brute steel and storm.
“No more Vietnams” became a strategic mantra. Instead of fighting Soviet direct intervention or indirect aggression via sponsored revolutions, in Africa, Asia, and South America between Vietnam and Desert Storm, the US would rely on its conventional strength in Europe and at sea to deter aggression, and on clients such as Israel, South Africa, and Honduras to fight up front, backed by American finance, intelligence services, and a nuclear deterrent. It proved a rather good strategy, original to President Nixon’s doctrine in the last years of Vietnam. “No more Vietnams” also meant allowing the Soviets to act destructively to lives and peace, in remote places, like the Horn of Africa, Central America and Central Asia. In the end, the Nixon doctrine proved sufficient, including a thermonuclear war scare during the Arab-Israeli October War in 1973. With due credit to the Vietnam-era army reforms, the massive conventional, unconventional and nuclear buildup under President Reagan in the 1980s was never contested in the Central Front of Europe or upon the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
“Vietnams” were to be avoided, but since 1973 there have been many potential and real “little” Vietnams for the United States. Because the mantra-theory did not “learn” the right lesson–that irregular, guerrilla-terrorist unconventional wars would happen and affect US interests and ability to deter asymmetrical attacks–the US found itself unprepared for the New World War after September 2001. The little “Vietnams” the last 35 years prevented the application of “lightening war,” or a Total War effort of mass national commitment, sacrifice or nuclear suicide. When on the line, the US withdrew from places like Lebanon, Somalia, and Haiti. The policies of conventional war failed to permanently fix the Balkans in the 1990s, where US occupation troops remain 13 years after Dayton and 9 years after the Kosovo War. Not learning the right lesson from defeat (Vietnam) and preparing to fight more and more heavy-duty conventional wars like“Desert Storms,” a “success,” in effect proved no real learning at all. US troops and innocent people at the brunt of it pay with the lives and livelihoods today because of Iraq and Afghanistan and the strategic disorder in US policy.
Since the 1970s, the experience of Vietnam has only been rediscovered in mountains and deserts and savannahs and rainforests of four continents since 9-11-2001. Is the lesson being learned to any benefit?
Historical examination, first in learning from defeat in a war and then a diplomatic gamble gone awry, by two foreign countries who suffered humiliation, illustrates some broader meaning. Lessons in military economics (the pure strategy of logistics), or at the level of front-line tactics, need two other aspects to be a complete “revolution in military affairs. The first is an operational concept for unifying all levels of general strategy; hence the US AirLand Battle doctrine. Second, no matter how many lessons may be read from victory or defeat, it is the first and highest level of general strategy, in the broadest sense, that must be determined before organizing any action. This “first level” of general strategy is called Grand Strategy, or the union of political, economic, social and cultural policies in a nation’s politics governing war or peace.
After the two examples, the first of Germany from 1919 to 1945, and then of the Soviet Union from 1962 through 1991, the analysis follows with a review of 20th Century United States military policy and history to provide a sounder basis for looking at today’s world-wide war. The criteria for final judgements of this analysis are: First, how to measure progress at each stage of the presentn world war? Second, what potential exists for either a US/allied victory (not certain, by any measure) or ultimate defeat of the rule of law and western democracy by the forces arrayed against them? And finally, we must ask and answer the ultimate question in this review. Is the United States forgetting old lessons, misapplying wrong ones, or re-fighting a different war from the past which has no recognizable relevance to the one it is fighting now?

Germany: Right Answer, Wrong Question

After the World War I, as they did after their defeat by Napoleon’s Grand Army in 1806-07, the Prussian-dominated German military staff system engaged in a radical analysis of their failure to win decisive victory between 1914-1918 in World War I. The humiliating territorial and indemnity terms of the 1919 Versailles peace treaty, which also limited Germany’s ability to wage aggressive war (allowing only 100,000 men in uniform) egged Germany to prepare for an inevitable war against the victorious powers to revise the outcome of World War I. Even more, the horrible cost of material and human attrition in the trenches of France forced the innovative and visionary officers in the Weimar-era Germany Reichswehr (state armed forces) and the Nazi-era’s renamed Wehrmacht (war machine) to find solutions to avoid a repeat of their 1918 defeat in the inevitable “next” war.
The staff examination focused on restoring the battle of movement and firepower under cover deception and indirection, governed by leadership initiative at all levels of command. The goal stood to find an operational solution (inter-mediate strategy between the levels of military management and foot soldier) that would overwhelm Germany’s enemies quickly and avoid the “total war” Materielschlacht (battle of attrition) of World War I. For in that war, not only did the Allies when joined by the United States in 1917,grind down by sheer mass of production and manpower the German army’s ability to resist on the front-line; but the Allied maritime blockade led to the starvation diets of its citizens and the final collapse of Germany’s political system and military economics, i.e.“war socialism,” on the home front.
German military leaders understood that to win decisively and avoid a repeat of complete collapse, the “next war” need be short and lasting. For that, the political will of their enemies to resist must be broken hard and fast. This could only be achieved by destruction of Britain’s, France’s and the Soviet Union’s armed forces with a mass de manouevre (decisive force of mass) of combined arms. The combined arms included in their revolution in military affairs tank units, Panzer Kampf Wagen (PzKW), formed into divisions, corps, and later army-sized units in which infantry, and combat support (artillery and engineers) and combat service support (supply, maintenance, etc.) were incorporated and motorized, part and parcel of the same command operating as one.
This revolution in military affairs was driven into a real future by the persistence of one man possessed of unusual blends of theoretical, prophetic clarity and excellent leadership under fire. His name was Heinz Guderian. The armored schwerpunkt (tip of the main attack) aimed at a weak point of the enemy front-line to roam beyond into the “rear flank.” The Panzer units would be followed by regular foot-, rail- and horse- drawn infantry, artillery, and other support units to guard friendly flanks and rear areas.
Another revolution in military affairs ran concurrent to the Panzer mass de manouevre, in violation of the Versailles treaty. From 1919 Germany had built the seeds, plans and ideas of an independent air force, unleashed to the world’s surprise in 1935 as the Luftwaffe. Discarding its ability to build and operate an air arm capable of long-distance strategic bombing of an enemy’s industrial heartland, general staff officers of the new air arm determined that close-air combat bombardment of the enemy front-line defenses and the units behind them was the best and most feasible role for the service. In essence, Luftwaffe operational doctrine geared itself to the destruction of the enemy armed forces in direct aid to their land army, not on costly, inaccurate,a and ineffective attacks against the enemy population in defended cities.
Dominated by a nobility-military caste system of the Prussian tradition, German military education and leadership training since 1806 built a superb and deadly efficient system of war-making. The officer and non-commissioned officer selection and training process focused on nothing less than building precise skill and ability in their manpower. And the best performers in vigorous testing went onto great prestige in the Great General Staff, a political and military power center of all Europe between 1815 and 1945. With such leaders, Germany used in both peace and war a corporate-government union operating a totalitarian economy called “war socialism.” War socialism itself was an invention of the Great General Staff Quartermaster of World War I, General Erich Ludendorff (an early supporter of Hitler who marched in Munich during the November 9, 1923 “Beirkellar Putsch” by the National Socialist German Workers Party, N.S.D.A.P, a.k.a. the Nazi Party.)
In the 1920s, with rigorous study of the past, Kriegspiel (complex war games in conference rooms and in the fields) and internal, secret debate, the German military caste saw the future needs of the “next war” through the combination of its institutional memory (traditions) merged with modern management, science and technology. From the ascension of Hitler to the Chancellorship in January 1933 to the actual outbreak of war in September 1939, German diplomacy acted by threat and bluff. With audacious military deception at the vulnerable beginning of rearmament, Hitler’s gambles improved the “strategic destinies” which would gain for the Nazi movement a superior position in the middle of Europe (Mitteleuropa in the Nazi “geopolitical” theory).
From these additional platforms of strategic advantage, Nazism carried out the racist, murderous, and inhuman policies behind the same forces of nationalism and socialism which governed “revolutionary” movements since the 1790s. Beginning with the reoccupation of the Rhineland, through the Anchluss with Austria, and the diplomatic dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, Hitler had the active support from the military caste who wanted to wage a war to regain Germany’s dominance in continental Europe, but for reasons of nationalism. Hitler’s aggressive “peaceful” diplomacy gained better geographic ground, more GNP potential, and an enlarged population base (ethnic Germans, foreign sympathizers, and enslaved labor). These additions to his power enabled the “national socialist” Hitler to pursue his ultimate aim in the conquest of Slavic and Jewish lands in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the extermination of all “undesirables.” In the New Order, “Aryan” Germanics and Anglo-Saxons would control the world, and all others needed to submit and be enslaved or be murdered to serve the interests of the “superior” race run by corporate-government “war socialism” economics.
By the time of invasion of Poland, the inauguration of the “lightening war” blitzkrieg, and all the victories from 1939 thru 1942, Germany’s armed forces conquered more land and far faster in history than all but the Mongolians. By applying 140 years of military experience to the use of internal combustion engines, wireless telegraphy, and the arts of industrial engineering (optics, metallurgy, chemicals, and electronics), Germany fielded an army equipped, trained, and led for a revolutionary type of warfare but in service of a revisionist political system of government-corporate fascism, one using racial elitism to murder and enslave others. Germany overran all of its enemies until, as Winston Churchill said, the tide turned with the entry of America as the decisive ally against Nazism.
In the course of the war and since, all of Germany’s enemies copied much of the German experience in the use of combined arms, with armored and motorized units supported by ground-attack aircraft. Even the technology and deployments of submarines used after the war by the victors came from defeated Germany’s U-boat arm. The deadlock of World War I, with infantry dug into sacrificial trench attacks for months or years, was avoided. Much more copied, especially by the Soviets, was the operational art of warfare.
It took almost the entire world to stem Nazism’s march of troops and ideas through Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Then the whole world crushed Nazi Germany into unconditional surrender. As with “reinventing” any army, air force or navy–indeed any corporate enterprise, public or private--the German military succeeded by witness of all other armed forces adapting their inventions and way of using them. So why did Germany lose?
German military leadership failed in World War II nonetheless to heed the most important lesson of World War I, that of the fourth strategic destiny which spelled Nazism’s doom. Germany’s cause was a moral evil, an absolute so honest as to be irrefutable. The absence of at least moral neutrality unhinged Hitler’s political policy. It fell victim, thank god, to the same political mistakes which guaranteed a repeat of their World War I defeat, but one far worse this time. With common folk (Volk) sirened by the saucey tongue of a deceptive, evil “Aryan” myth, the German military tried to benefit from the opportunity Nazism provided to serve its traditional nationalism–dominance of Mitteleuropa. The army leaders between 1933 and 1939 did not learn the “big” lesson of World War I. In grand strategy (political policy) and military economics (LOGISTICS IS STRATEGY), Germany could not win over the British Empire if America entered the balance while Russia remained a threat to the east.
The world was against Germany because the lies of Nazi racism and Prussian militarism were a moral wrong–absolute, without question. The rest of the world, indeed just the United States, had the advantages of better strategic destinies–demographic advantage, economic potential, geographic position, and the most important one, a willful commitment to universal individual liberty to defeat Nazism and militarism. The war ended in 1945 for Germans with one ally in the Pacific still fighting but with their own country divided for 46 years and in practical military occupation to the present time. As a German field marshal, Erich von Manstein, entitled his memoirs, civilian enthusiasm and military caste tolerance of Hitler and his Nazis led to “lost victories.”


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