Re Unfettered Conventional Violence, NOT Asymmetric Warfare,
July 5, 2003
Roger W. Barnett
There is nothing objectionable about this thoughtful and well-documented book except its title. It is simply not about “asymmetric warfare” as Ralph Peters, G.I. Wilson, Bill Lind or any of a dozen other authors including myself might speak. This book provides a reasoned and respectable argument against limiting in any way the degree to which strategic nuclear and conventional forces might be utilized. The author systematically discusses operational, legal, and moral constraints that, if permitted to stand, could in effect give a challenger relying on asymmetric means something of an advantage.The book does not, however, consider for a moment that our existing heavy metal military is anything other than the ideal blunt instrument with which to wreak our will. It does not discuss asymmetric challenges as a range, it does not evaluate the effectiveness or ineffectiveness (whether operationally, or in terms of cost and sustainability) of varying alternatives for dealing with asymmetric challenges (e.g. soft power including covert action), and therefore the book should more aptly have been titled “The Curtis Lemay Handbook for Squishing Mosquitoes with Multiple Nuclear Bombs” or even better, “Don Rumsfeld’s Press Briefing on Why B-2 Bombers Were Called in Against 18 Taliban Guerrillas in Afghanistan.”
Asymmetric warfare, this is not…
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