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Thread: Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing

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    Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing

    Another excellent one from 'my guy', Fred Reed.

    An Obsolescent Military: Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing

    Or: Bombing enemies can't fight back.
    By Fred Reed
    September 26, 2016

    What, precisely, is the US military for, and what, precisely, can it do? In practical terms, how powerful is it? On paper, it is formidable, huge, with carrier battle groups, advanced technology, remarkable submarines, satellites, and so on. What does this translate to?

    Military power does not exist independently, but only in relation to specific circumstances. Comparing technical specifications of the T-14 to those of the M1A2, or Su-34 to F-15, or numbers of this to numbers of that, is an interesting intellectual exercise. It means little without reference to specific circumstances.

    For example, America is vastly superior militarily to North Korea in every category of arms–but the North has nuclear bombs. It can’t deliver them to the US, but probably can to Seoul. Even without nuclear weapons, it has a large army and large numbers of artillery tubes within range of Seoul. It has an unpredictable government. As Gordon Liddy said, if your responses to provocation are wildly out of proportion to those provocations, and unpredictable, nobody will provoke you.

    An American attack by air on the North, the only attack possible short of a preemptive nuclear strike, would offer a high probability of a peninsular war, the devastation of Seoul, paralysis of an important trading partner–think Samsung–and an uncertain final outcome. The United States hasn’t the means of getting troops to Korea rapidly in any numbers, and the domestic political results of lots of GIs killed by a serious enemy would be politically grave. The probable cost far exceeds any possible benefit. In practical terms, Washington’s military superiority means nothing with regard to North Korea. Pyongyang knows it.

    Or consider the Ukraine. On paper, US forces overall are superior to Russian. Locally, they are not. Russia borders on the Ukraine and could overrun it quickly. The US cannot rapidly bring force to bear except a degree of air power. Air power hasn’t worked against defenseless peasants in many countries. Russia is not a defenseless peasant. Europe, usually docile and obedient to America, is unlikely to engage in a shooting war with Moscow for the benefit of Washington. Europeans are aware that Russia borders on Eastern Europe, which borders on Western Europe. For Washington, fighting Russia in the Ukraine would require a huge effort with seaborne logistics and a national mobilization. Serious wars with nuclear powers do not represent the height of judgment.

    Again, Washington’s military superiority means nothing.

    Or consider Washington’s dispute with China in the Pacific. China cannot begin to match American naval power. It doesn’t have to. Beijing has focused on anti-ship missiles–read “carrier-killer”–such as the JD21 ballistic missile. How well it works I do not know, but the Chinese are not stupid. Is the risk of finding out worth it? Fast, stealthy, sea-skimming cruise missiles are very cheap compared to carriers, and America’s admirals know that lots of them arriving simultaneously would not have a happy ending.

    Having a fleet disabled by China would be intolerable to Washington, but it’s possible responses would be unappealing. Would it start a conventional war with China with the ghastly global economic consequences? This would not generate allies. Cut China’s oil lanes to the Mid-East and push Beijing toward nuclear war? Destroy the Three Gorges Dam and drown god knows how many people? If China used the war as a pretext for annexing bordering counties? What would Russia do?

    The consequences both probable and assured make the adventure unattractive, especially since likely pretexts for a war with China–a few rocks in the Pacific, for example–are too trivial to be worth the certain costs and uncertain outcome. Again, military superiority doesn’t mean much.

    We live in a military world fundamentally different from that of the last century. All-out wars between major powers, which is to say nuclear powers, are unlikely since they would last about an hour after they became all-out, and everyone knows it. In WWII Germany could convince itself, reasonably and almost correctly, that Russia would fall in the summer, or the Japanese that a Depression-ridden, unarmed America might decide not to fight. Now, no. Threaten something that a nuclear power regards as vital and you risk frying. So nobody does.

    At any rate, nobody has. Fools abound in DC and New York.

    What then, in today’s world, is the point of huge conventional forces?

    The American military is an upgraded World War II military, designed to fight other militaries like itself in a world like that which existed during World War II. The Soviet Union was that kind of military. Today there are no such militaries for America to fight. We are not in the same world. Washington seems not to have noticed.

    A World War II military is intended to destroy point targets of high value—aircraft, ships, factories, tanks—and to capture crucial territory, such as the enemy’s country. When you have destroyed the Wehrmacht’s heavy weaponry and occupied Germany, you have won. This is the sort of war that militaries have always relished, having much sound and fury and clear goals.

    It doesn’t work that way today. Since Korea, half-organized peasant militias have baffled the Pentagon by not having targets of high value or crucial territory. In Afghanistan for example goatherds with rifles could simply disperse, providing no point targets at all, and certainly not of high value. No territory was crucial to them. If the US mounted a huge operation to take Province A, the resistance could just fade into the population or move to Province B. The US would always be victorious but never win anything. Sooner or later America would go away. The world understands this.

    Further, the underlying nature of conflict has changed. For most of history until the Soviet Union evaporated, empires expanded by military conquest. In today’s world, countries have not lost their imperial ambitions, but the approach is no longer military. China seems intent on bringing Eurasia under its hegemony, and advances toward doing it, but its approach is economic, not martial. The Chinese are not warm and fuzzy. They are, however, smart. It is much cheaper and safer to expand commercially than militarily, and wiser to sidestep martial confrontation—in a word, to ignore America. More correctly it is sidestepping the Pentagon.

    Military and diplomatic power spring from economic power and China is proving successful economically. Using commercial clout, she is expanding her influence, but in ways not easily bombed. She is pushing the BRICS alliance, from which the US is excluded. She is enlarging the SCO, from which America is excluded. Perhaps most importantly, she has set up the AIIB, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, which does not include the US but includes Washington’s European allies. These organizations will probably trade mostly not in dollars, a serious threat to Washington’s economic hegemony.

    What is the relevance of the Pentagon? How do you bomb a trade agreement?
    (Same as declaring war on the word "terrorism", I suppose.)

    China enjoys solvency and hegemonizes enthusiastically with it. Thus in Pakistan, it has built the Karakoram Highway from Xian Jiang to Karachi, which will increase trade between the two. It is putting in the two power reactors near Karachi. It is investing in Afghan resources, increasing trade with Iran. When the US finally leaves, China, without firing a shot, will be predominant in the region.

    What is the relevance of aircraft carriers?

    Beijing is talking seriously about building more rail lines, including high-speed rail, from itself to Europe, accompanied by fiber-optic lines and so on. This is not just talk. China has the money and a very large network of high-speed rail domestically. (The US has not a single mile.) Google “China-Europe Rail lines.”

    What is the Pentagon going to do? Bomb the tracks?

    As trade and ease of travel from Berlin to Beijing increase, and as China prospers and wants more European goods, European businessmen will want to cuddle up to that fabulously large market—which will loosen Washington’s grip on the throat of Europe. Say it three times slowly: Eur-asia. Eur-asia. Eur-asia. I promise it is what the Chinese are saying.

    What is the Pentagon’s trillion-dollar military going to bomb? Europe? Railways across Kazakhstan? BMW plants?

    All of which is to say that while the US military looks formidable, it isn’t particularly useful, and aids China by bankrupting the US. Repeatedly it has demonstrated that it cannot defeat campesinos armed with those most formidable weapons, the AK, the RPG, and the IED. The US does not have the land forces to fight a major or semi-major enemy. It could bomb Iran, with unpredictable consequences, but couldn’t possibly conquer it.

    The wars in the Mid-East illustrate the principle nicely. Iraq didn’t work. Libya didn’t work. Iran didn’t back down. ISIS and related curiosities? The Pentagon is again bombing an enemy that can’t fight back—its specialty—but that it seems unable to defeat.

    The wrong military, wrong enemy, wrong war, wrong world.
    "Life IS mystical! Its just that we're used to it." - Wolf, the movie
    "Dad, if God is everywhere then, when he's in a piece of paper, is he squished?" - My daughter, age 7

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    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing

    Quote Originally Posted by Fredkc View Post
    As Gordon Liddy said,
    Precisely, this is someone my dad admired because he ate a rat as a kid to prove 'he had what it takes'. This guy is a true psychopath.

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    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing

    Quote Originally Posted by Fredkc View Post
    The wrong military, wrong enemy, wrong war, wrong world.
    So true, the U.S is in the wrong business. Their job in the world defense system is one where the role should be 'bomb them out of existence' or overwhelm them with superior force through technology and short of that their effectiveness is as impotent as the rest of the world's. Which is why (again quoting Thomas Barnett's book, "Building a future worth having") the Europeans are considering building there own army which seems at odds with the mandate of the U.N but in reality isn't. World 'Police forces' should be the mop up crews. Military forces that are equipped to fight both a long term campaign and also incorporate a mandate of 'nation building'. One or two powerful nations obviously cannot accomplish this goal. The U.N shouldn't be in the 'military' business at all, they should be world ambassadors.

    At one time it was hoped that Russia could be a force for good, a 'participating' nation with an interest in maintaining a global economy and peaceful coexistence. Putin loves the glory of a cold perhaps even a hot war too much to act in a sane fashion. There is still hope that China could be a world force for peace, prosperity and basic human good.
    Last edited by Adam Bomm; 09-27-2016 at 11:48 AM.

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    In Memory Fredkc's Avatar
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    Re: Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Bomm View Post
    Precisely, this is someone my dad admired because he ate a rat as a kid to prove 'he had what it takes'. This guy is a true psychopath.
    Yup! Brilliant, clever, fast thinking man.... and a psychopath.

    He used to actually do the thing from the beginning of Lawrence Of Arabia (stole it). O'Toole holds his fingers to a candle, and just holds it there. He's asked, "What's the trick?"
    "The trick is not minding."


    And the dummies at the Pentagon haven't even picked up on the changes since Vietnam.

    "The wrong military, wrong enemy, wrong war..."

    We still don't know what to do when the enemy drops his weapon, and just walks through town, except "Kill'em all!"

    And now we're doing that to a tribal people who consider "revenge killing" to be a matter of family honor. So for each innocent we kill, there's a mother, and a father, who'll raise other kids, brothers, and uncles... list goes on. And they'll all be looking for the chance. We're making more enemies than we kill. And still using WWII methods!

    We've pissed away Trillions, and they want Trillions more! We spend as much as the rest of the world combined! "Not enough." Bullshite!

    They're trying to prep for the wrong war. In fact, what they're sent to achieve, is completely out of the military's field altogether! This crap about "installing democracy" is a farce.

    (Adam will hate the source, but its still true)
    "The purpose of an army is to kill people, and break things." And the minute you stray from that, you're bound to fail.

    The wars in the Mid-East illustrate the principle nicely. Iraq didn’t work. Libya didn’t work. Iran didn’t back down.
    That's the one that gets me!
    Figured that one out in about 2004.

    There's a fight goin' on in the M.E. Bigger than Israel's survival. Bigger than oil. It's been brewing for about 1,200 years. And it has basically been suppressed for last 50 years.

    The center of one side is Iran. They're Shiite moslems. The other is Saudi Arabia and the Sunnis. What's kept them apart the last 50 years was the fact the land between them was held by the meanest junkyard dog in the M.E. Saddam Hussein. And he didn't want any part of it, and they didn't want any part of him. "And therein shall lie the peace."

    Iran didn't like it. Tried to change it once. 8 years later they gave up. Saudi Arabia loved it. A nice comfy buffer for them. If you've noticed the Arabian Princes aren't much on fighting. It's something they hire others for. So yeah, a buffer worked well.

    Then along comes GW, and the boys. What they did was basically doom the region to a war that hasn't even started yet!

    Saddam ran a rabidly secular government. But... the people of Iraq are 60-70% Shiites! So when GW took out Saddam, Iran just quietly smiled. Because they knew, "Sooner or later, you will all go home."

    GW and the PNAC crew were very clear about what they wanted. So they were about "conquering" territory. They were about governments, contracts, and getting the military to go get it for them. They knew nothing of M. E. tribal culture, factions and such. They literally didn't know "Shiite from Shinola".

    It was doomed to fail, from the start.

    Oops!! Zookie is here!
    So I'll add this: Yes, the people driving the PNAC crew DID know it'd turn out this way. (They smiled, too)
    Last edited by Fredkc; 09-27-2016 at 01:29 PM.
    "Life IS mystical! Its just that we're used to it." - Wolf, the movie
    "Dad, if God is everywhere then, when he's in a piece of paper, is he squished?" - My daughter, age 7

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    Adam Bomm (09-27-2016)

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