Monday, October 09, 2006

In Contra "You Say You Want A Revolution. Well..."

Commander Van Rant-

I do agree with you to the extent that we could feasibly retask our militaries to meet the threat of Islamism and China, but that would involve a few implicit assumptions on our part.

To wit: retooling to fight insurgency presupposes that the US will continue to become embroiled in Iraq-style conflicts, retooling also assumes that China would not fight conventionally in a war with the US (it sounds like that’s built into your supposition, unless I’m mistaken), retooling presumes that the US would still be reasonably unassailable even with its leaner & meaner anti-Islamism/China forces, that the US can/should prepare for any of these scenarios, and most importantly that the US’s maintenance of a vastly superior military force to the rest of the world is desirable.

The willingness of the American people to participate in more insurgencies, especially in majority-Muslim states, is highly questionable as is conflict with China. More important is the numeric superiority held by the US. Our forces seem to be the strongest in the world precisely because other countries see the entrance cost of an arms race with the US as undesirable. Our superiority is owed as much to keeping the cost of serious competition high as it does military doctrine and so forth. This arms race, in no small way, helped bring down the Soviets; they simply couldn’t keep up with our pocketbooks. As for the status of our forces with an anti-Islamism/China specialization, what happens to the rest of the world? If they don’t switch over with us, they find themselves in a better position to compete with us. Because most of us agree that maintaining a strong degree of superiority is a good thing, this retooling is wholly undesirable.

One of my past military history professors explained military tasking this way: the president will ask the military for a screwdriver; the military decides whether he’s handed a Phillips or a flathead. To retool for Islamism and China means handing the president a Torx-head screwdriver; those are worthless in 95% of all wars. Retooling to fight the exceptions to the rules is unwise; long-term security still rests with conventional arms. If the US cannot fight insurgency with the degree of ease it desires, perhaps it is time to consider leaving the insurgency business altogether.

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