Friday, November 02, 2007

Half As Big, Twice As Mean

A line in the sand is being drawn between those who favor a lean, high tech US military and those who favor manpower over technology. Proponents of more manpower claim that the beefing up of US forces in necessary to fight the counter-insurgency or so called "fourth generation" wars.

Those in favor of jettisoning the strategy pursued by Rumsfeld point to the chaos that has followed in Iraq and Afghanistan as justification for increasing the size of US forces. According to them the US military can destroy, but can not create (a nation that is). And they are absolutely correct, the military's job is to fight wars and destroy, and no one does it better than the US military. It is claimed by the nation builders that more recruits will automatically translate into success. They could not be more wrong. The United States can bring all the jobs and development it wants to Iraq and Afghanistan and it will still find itself knee-deep in an insurgency. This is because the US is fighting religious fanatics (ie the Taliban) who will stop at nothing to prevent the modern western world from taking root in their would-be Caliphate or whatever ultimate goal they are pursuing.

Just how is the US supposed to drum up the recruits to fight a hugely unpopular war anyway? Much to the dismay of American male population, the answer is conscription and that is not going to happen. Much is made of the fact that many in the US know someone currently serving in Iraq and the psychological damage it has inflicted on loved ones. Increasing the size of the military would only exacerbate this situation.

Counter-insurgency aside, how is the US to successfully engage in a future war against a numerically superior opponent such as China or India? In a war of attrition, the superior technology is the only way for the US off-set the disadvantage of facing an opponent that can put more boots on the ground. Some say that war with India or China is unlikely, and that is the case. However, it is wrong to conclude that the US can afford to surrender its technology lead. Doing so could enable China to pursue a more belligerent foreign policy.

Instead of choosing between a lean and mean and big and stupid, maybe the US should just avoid nation building wars altogether.

1 comment:

woori01e said...

Nation-building: Cloth, food, and house, not uniform, bullet, and military base.