The American strategist and military reformer Colonel John Boyd argued that nations and groups should shape their domestic policies, foreign policies, and military strategies so that they:
pump up one’s own resolve and increase one’s own solidarity,
drain away the resolve of one’s adversaries and weaken their internal cohesion,
reinforce the commitments of allies to one’s own cause and make them empathetic to one’s success
attract the uncommitted to our cause or makes them empathetic to one’s success
end conflicts on favorable terms that do not sow the seeds for future conflicts
These criteria are the essence of grand strategy and can be thought of as guidelines for evaluating the wisdom of specific policies or actions. And while they make sense logically and intuitively, the difficulty of defining policies that simultaneously conform to and strengthen to all these criteria is equally obvious. The latter challenge is particularly difficult for the unilateral military strategies and the coercive foreign policies like those preferred by Israel or the United States. Military operations and political coercion are often destructive in the short term, and these destructive strategic effects can be in natural tension with the aims of grand strategy, which should be constructive over the long term.
Moreover, the more powerful a country, the harder it becomes to harmonize the often conflicting criteria for a sensible grand strategy. Overwhelming power breeds hubris and arrogance which, in turn, carry a temptation to use that power coercively and excessively. But lording over or dictating one’s will to others breeds resentment. Thus, possession of overwhelming power increases the risk of going astray grand strategically.
That risk is particularly dangerous when aggressive external actions, policies, and rhetoric are designed to prop up or increase internal cohesion for domestic political reasons. Very often, the effects or military strategies or coercive foreign policies that are perceived as useful in terms of domestic political cohesion backfire at the grand-strategic level, because they strengthen our adversaries’ will to resist, push our allies into a neutral or even an adversarial corner, or drive away the uncommitted … which together, can set the stage for continuing conflict.
With these general thoughts about grand strategy in mind, read the following article by Uri Avnery and ask yourself if Israel’s most recent war in Gaza made sense at the tactical level of conflict?, the strategic level of conflict? … and most importantly, at the grand strategic level of conflict?
Retired Maj. Gen. Tim Haake is a Washington lawyer who served on active and reserve duty in special operations for 36 years. Now he is a lobbyist.
Phi Beta Iota: The article has to be read in the original. Well-intentioned and totally divorced from reality, it is what the Military-Industrial-Intelligence-Congressional Complex (MIICC) wants the taxpayer to believe. Missing from this fairy tale depiction are the realities: we cannot afford, nor is there sufficient time, nor can the Air Force carry, nor can the intelligence community inform, such a force, spending $5 million for every $1 spent by asymmetric opponents holding the moral high ground. Furthermore, and Jim Bamford and Will Durant agree on this point, the only infintely expandable resource we have is the human brain–neglecting our investments in global education and national population health as we have been and will continue to do, is the certain death of the Republic.
The Obama administration’s troop surge fails to address the real threat in Afghanistan: the insurgents’ efforts to develop a regional strategy in South Asia. Washington’s focus—members of al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the traditional Afghan Taliban—misses the mark. Nir Rosen does, too, when he asks whether “a few hundred angry, unsophisticated Muslim extremists really pose such grave dangers to a vigilant superpower, now alert to potential threats.”
The November 2008 Mumbai attacks and the recent FBI arrests in Chicago for conspiracy to launch attacks in New Delhi suggest that containing the threat from Afghanistan is extremely complicated, and solutions must go beyond troop surges in Afghanistan, training Afghan police and soldiers, or even political dialogue with Taliban commanders inside the country. Intelligence agencies are now realizing that both the Mumbai events and the Delhi plans—plotted directly by al Qaeda affiliated groups, which I call the Neo-Taliban—were directly linked to Afghanistan, but also incorporated wider aims. The goal was to expand the theater of war to India so that Washington would lose track of its objectives and get caught in a quagmire.
Obama’s troop surge fails to address how to improve delivery of aid.
A dramatic shortage of program officers as well as auditors and investigators and poor security conditions on the ground have all conspired, the 128-page report concludes, to “significantly impair” the objectives of USAID’s mission, which is to provide economic development and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and around the world.
The failure of USAID to effectively monitor the development projects threatens to undermine the U.S. military’s new counterinsurgency strategy and troop surge, which is built upon the effective delivery of aid in the struggle against the Taliban for hearts and minds.
INTELLIGENCE is DECISION-SUPPORT. The process of intelligence is separate from whether the sources and methods are secret or not. There is nothing secret, unethical, or illegal about the process of intelligence as decision-support.
Original “Class Before One” (2010 Class 001 in Planning)
The author has produced a useful but slightly incomplete merger of information on the past decade of efforts to develop UN intelligence (decision-support) capabilities, within the prism of an imposed social science investigation construct which dilutes the practical value.
Kudos should be given to the UN’s Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) for producing what is perhaps the most comprehensive and frank assessments to date of the international community’s implementation of Security Council Resolution 1373 and the measures adopted to combat international terrorism. Their report was presented to the Security Council by CTED Executive Director Mike Smith on December 16th and provides detailed information on what is actually being done, on the vulnerabilities, and on the technical assistance required. It provides a thematic overview of the laws and actions taken in the areas of enforcement, border control, countering the financing of terrorism, and international cooperation as well as a region by region assessment. Human rights considerations are also addressed. The report should be read closely.
How counterinsurgents manipulate insurgents’ disadvantage in their own favor would ultimately prove crucial. The task requires vision, will and capacity, but so far the state seems to lack effective strategy on this tactical front. The Taliban insurgency in the tribal areas has regional dimensions as well, with regional and global actors trying to secure their own interests in the area. But ignoring Pakistan’s concerns and regional interests would frustrate the counterinsurgency effort. Pakistan cannot snuff out the insurgency alone.
The study finds that British-Pakistanis are almost all Muslims and have a mainly rural background. Their first generation in Britain was very conservative and did not let the next generation assimilate and become part of British society. There is lack of political, social and economic awareness among British-Pakistanis, many of whom are still confused and divided, not only physically but mentally as well, between their adopted and native countries. Moreover, there are some radical elements amongst this population also. The socio-cultural and religious identities of the British-Pakistani community may become more crucial in their potential to evolve parallel closed societies within the mainstream host society if not brought into the mainstream immediately
First UN Joint Mission Analyses Centre Course (UNJMAC) ever held
The last seven days of October have been groundbreaking and interesting at Nodefic. A new course has been born and introduced to life.
Text: Maj Erik Haugstad
Tasked by the UN, and in close cooperation with other NORDCAPS countries, a pilot course for personnel going to serve in JMACs around the world has been conducted at Nodefic. Being a pilot course for the UN, this is of course the first time ever a course like this has been held in the world.
Knowing as much as possible about the area and environment, in which we are participating in a peace support operation, is of vital importance for the contribution of the International Society to succeed. This has been common knowledge throughout times. A slight rewrite of Sun Tzu’s “Know your enemy”, will lead us to the very same conclusion. For a long time, also reflected in the philosophy of integrated missions, the UN has recognized that the need for coordination and sharing of information is essential for operational efficiency and mission accomplishment. In the UN Missions we have for some time seen the gradual introduction and testing of the JMAC, Joint Mission Analyses Centre, concept.