I consider this book one of the most important books of our time, for it takes on “the Borg” at an intellectual level in a cultural context, and in so doing, speaks truth to power: our Emperors (“the Borg”) are naked and ignorant.
Early on he points out that ours is not the first globalization, and that previous globalizations have demonstrated that new identities rise within globalization and *cannot be put down* (his emphasis). New ideas, counter-establishment ideas, cannot be suppressed, and ultimately triumph in new consciousness at multiple levels. States struggle vainly, equating everything “new” with being a “threat,” and ultimately collapse under the weight of their own ignorance and inability to adapt.
The first few chapters suggest that our reaction to 9-11 opened a Pandora’s box, that AF-IQ are our Waterloo, and that “non-state actors” is a generic term for all that is outside the state.
He specifies six “identity” migration paths: networks of conversion and subversion (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood and the Pentecostals); autonomous urban subcultures (e.g. gangs); emerging nations; fighter fraternities; militarized Bucellani (vandal elites, e.g. the Taliban, a state within a state); and our own cross to bear, intercessor security sub-cultures (e.g. our military-industrial complex to which I would add, a Congress lacking in integrity).
TWO MAJOR POINTS:
1. The US Military is no longer Of, By, and For We the People, no longer a collective citizenry that is armed–in brief, the militarization of national policy has made us arrogant, ignorant, and repugnant.
2. By resisting change we are promoting change. I cannot help myself, I think of the anti-Borg from outer space that grows when we nuke it, shrinks when we show love.
The author points out that every US military intervention into a Muslim society has failed; that our failures lead to new formulas (reformations) rather than new directions (transformations); and that in being drawn in and maintaining the chaos space, we are feeding the metamorphosis of non-state cocoons into butterflies very hard to hit with an artillery shell or even an aimed bullet.
The middle of the book expands on the theme of war as “creative destruction” (a mantra in the commercial intelligence world), while pointing out that in ignoring morality, the Napoleonic and Clauswitzian essential (“the moral is to the physical as three is to one”–today I would make it 10:1) the US is giving up the very power that matters, and failing to understand that identity is stronger than materiel. He points out that the “others” have commitment, sacrifice, collective effectiveness, breeding in battle, are fighting on their home ground, and achieve transcendence in resisting the US. Meanwhile, in the US, 1% do the fighting and the other 99% are asked to go shopping.
P26: “America’s problem comes with the discovery that it is merely the midwife rather than the godfather. We fight so as to get nothing from those we legitimize.”
I have a note culture is identity is being is sacred and together form consciousness.
The author is critical of Al Qaeda and its many mistakes, but credits them with drawing the US out into creating the chaos space within which other indigenous forces are rising.
His section on method discusses the utility of history and anthropology, both foreign “denied areas” to the USG IMHO.
The author points out the obvious that is not so obvious to those sacrificing America’s blood, treasure, and spirit in our name, i.e. two thirds of humanity is “the other” living the Hobbsian life that is “poor, nasty, brutish, and short.,” For these people, war is an entry point to negotiations, and the new players acquire legitimacy by out-lasting (not necessarily out-fighting) US forces.
As we move toward the conclusion the author speculates that we may be headed for a new Middle Ages with a global pandemic, climate change, and an energy crunch (to which I would add water crunch).
AF-IQ went wrong in five ways:
1. Liberation fizzled (I add, because neither Rumsfeld nor Gates are serious about waging peace)
2. Al Qaeda showed up in Iraq (the author neglects Iran’s glee and strategic leverage)
3. No miraculous reconstruction (according to Paul Wolfowitz , “at their expense”)
4. No democratic transformation (to have expected one was idiocy or mendacity)
5. World did not, will not, accept the “Long War”
Chapter 8 on “fit” credits Martin van Creveld with the term, and elegantly discusses how our leaders went to war, ordered others to war, without the slightest understanding of “the other.” The “American way of battle” that Tony Echeverria has pointed out is not a way of war at all, has been, in the author’s words, “the helpmate to enemy realization.”
On page 176 the author itemizes our “transformation” rules set and concludes it is flat out wrong.
1. Situational awareness (based on remote technologies)
2. Precision killing (ineffective for individuals)
3. Rapid dominance (not so fast)
4. Kill enough of the enemy and their leaders, and resistance will fold (simply not so).
PP191-192 are a stake in the heart of COIN–it is not wrong, it is simply ignorant and oblivious of the strategic Whole of Government and Whole Earth ramifications of spending all of our money on a lemon. COIN is (my words) “Borg triumphant.” COIN is “bento-box consciousness” and RAND–normally a supplicant cheer-leader– has outlined its demise in detail.
P202: “The events of 9/11 drove us back to Great War, but this time without *the people.* This Great War was *and remains* a war of the leadership and its tribal confederacy. It is a state-military enterprise, but far more significantly, *it is also now a state-military liturgy.* (Emphasis in original.]
The author notes that the “other” has a faster learning curve than we do, and on page 182: “Today’s non-state actors know us better than we wish to know them.” This is an indictment of the USG.
See the images loaded under the book cover, and below books consistent with author’s intent:
The Lessons of History
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs Series)
Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
The Tunnels of Cu Chi: A Harrowing Account of America’s “Tunnel Rats” in the Underground Battlefields of Vietnam