12 August 2006

Answering Tigerhawk, RE: What will it take to militarize the West?

In review, Tigerhawk looks at our current situation as one similar to that of pre-WWII Europe in regards to terrorism and expansionist Islamofascism. The concept that is put forward is that as in the 20th Century and the era of Industrialized Mass Warfare leading to Total War, that the US and the West in general will need to mobilize for a war in the 21st Century.

First off, I question the premise of the need for a Mass War conflict. Primacy of Mass War is that of Industrialization and State to State conflict. This leads to the conception that the true power of a military force is its Nation that supports it, thus making that Nation's Industrial infrastructure the prime target in any State to State Total War conflict. This conception grew out of the indisputable military fact from the First World War that Mass Warfare was dependent upon production. No longer were small armies moving against each other to meet up and have battle and then negotiate a peace with, perhaps, an exchange of a province or colony the object of warfare. Instead the might of the Nation State itself was the object of force so as to stop a Nation from being *able* to fight. This led to industrial bombing then mass bombing of the civilian population as the actual working hours necessary to create the materials of war were the target. Armies were representative of how well that mass industrial production was able to overcome its opponents. The war ended with the reductio ad absurdum of destroying a Nation to defeat it via the lowest possible cost for the highest possible death count: nuclear devices.

What has not been accounted for in this is the asymmetrical growth of National economies via the use of technology and innovation of its people. The Second World War was on the cusp of that, with a search for 'wonder weapons' that could allow for all sorts of things to be done. In time, however, the true 'wonder weapon' is not that of mass destruction, but of leveraging the ability of a population to *create* more in less time per capita than an opponent. The industrialized West leveraged this in the post-war era against the USSR. The concept of 'containment' was one of wearing down an inefficient State industrial system by allowing the power of individuals to outproduce their counterparts in Nations with larger populations but far lower production efficiency. This is a form of asymmetrical warfare waged by Nation States to allow for a non-destructive competition to decide which system could better protect its population, offer them more in the way of goods and *still* outproduce its opponent for military capability.

One capability that nearly *worked* was practiced by the US Army Air Force to go after single, key industrial capabilities. Two particular targets were oil refining and ball bearings. The first is an *obvious* target as it is a source of fuel necessary to keep an industrialized Nation and its Armed Forces going. The second, however, is an example of 'supply chain' thinking at work: knock out a single, vital component to make industry work and industry and production is disabled. The first worked on a sliding scale and attacks on refineries removed critical mobility capability from German Armed Forces and restricted industrial production and deprived the population of mechanized mobility. The second came extremely close to working, and if one factory had been *completely* bombed, the entire *production* of new goods would have halted in the Germany within days. That is asymmetrical industrial targeting.

Today, while both fuel and ball bearings remain absolutely vital to industry, sources of both are now global and new areas are being brought online for the former as worldwide need increases. Canadian oil sands are now economically viable, and Canada is a net oil exporter as of 2004 and will be doubling its production every 8-10 months for the next decade, with reserves of oil *larger* than Saudi Arabia. Similarly the North American Continental Shelf has untapped oil and gas reserves which can be given for use in emergencies via Congress. After that there is a problem of globalized production of parts and supplies that no longer allow for a single, key industry in one Nation to be seen as critical to war production. While this openly removes key industries from direct targeting, it also has the side effect of reducing overall cost of all goods to *everyone*. Spreading industrialization and even leveraging poor populations with modern production techniques allows for more goods to be produced at lower cost than was imagined in previous decades.

In the post-WWII era and throughout the Cold War, large scale Nation based conflicts were *discouraged* by the two Superpowers as it could quickly lead to global thermonuclear warfare and a destruction of a good portion of life on the planet. So conflict by lesser means appeared from previous low intensity conflicts: guerrilla warfare, unconventional warfare and, finally, terrorism. This last is a non-State enterprise, although many terrorist organizations have State-based support and are even used as an arm of a legitimate Government, but they are 'once removed' so that clear links cannot be established to hold any Nation accountable for their actions. While not unknown in previous generations, the 1960's saw a rise in terrorism in many locales, mostly in the Middle East, but there were also Communist/Red factions in Japan, Germany, Italy, and France that added to the standard mixture of localized terrorists of the IRA and ETA formation. The early PLO started along those lines, as an umbrella organization and soon spread to other and more disparate factions. With State based backing by Iran Hezbollah and to a lesser extent Hamas then entered in as groups aligned to an ideology that was not their own but that of their sponsor.

At this point removing the sponsor, in and of itself, is *not* enough. There are only limited numbers of States actually sponsoring terrorism and they can be overcome by today's NetWar based military, that synthetically uses firepower, local understanding and precision strike capability to immobilize and neutralize an opponent's military and degrade their ability to resist in an organized fashion. Scenarios involving Iran I have looked at here and here, using different castings of this conception of State based warfare. While removing the actual State is a fine goal, the ideology of the fantasy of a Caliphate returned must be extinguished as a viable conception in the modern world. To do *that* would truly require old style mass armies taking over vast swaths of the planet and trying to give everyone a better life thereafter. Economically the United States *could* actually do this... but *not* maintain its current levels of production. In point of fact the major sore point on today's military equipment is that it takes too long to make due to its complexity. Add to that basic training time, specialized training time, training time for the theater of operations... and the entire supply chain of the US is not prepared for mobilization by its Armed Forces. Do remember that FDR was able to narrowly get various programs going in 1939-41 to help get the US war material production up, scale up the Armed Forces, integrate new capabilities and be able to actually field this RAW combat force in 1942.

Consider that the aircraft production space by factories in Germany in 1944 was equal to that of the US in 1980. The production of aircraft by Germany was just under 4,000/month while that of the US in 1980 was 14. Equal production factory space, but the level of technology and integration have made mass production of such improbably at the *same* level of sophistication we currently have. Airpower, however, is thoroughly asymmetrical and speed and stealth kill, so that is not a worry. Similarly in 1944 Germany produced about 1,500 tanks and armored vehicles per month. And, mind you, that was after they had finally ramped up to a wartime economy AFTER instituting mass mobilization and were *still* unable to get enough equipment to the front to supply needs. The US had a vast supply chain mechanism that offered a continuous supply of war material while eating up nearly half of the GDP of the Nation in doing so. Today we are hard pressed getting armor upgrades for HUMVEES *made* and the lack that was seen in the field was due, not to bad handling of equipment and time delays in delivery, but in actually lacking the material TO SEND. Clearly, large scale military mobilization against Nation States on a global basis is something that needs to be worked *up* to. And if one even tries do a fighting force/constabulary force, all of the arming provisions can be reduced, but the constabulary and law training time is increased.

No matter which way you cut it a 'clarion call' to war is a 'come as you are' affair in the modern era. State to State wars in this era are either short and swift or long and deadly, depending upon the technological sophistication of the forces in question. The West, as it stands, is unprepared and *still* not preparing for Mass Force Total War against other Nations and *cannot* be ramped up to more than their current status without overhauling their economies and production conceptions. 'Militarizing the West' in a traditional sense is a non-starter because of these things, unless we are willing, as a people, to send out young men and women with lacks of equipment, food, supplies and material necessary for long campaigns against Nation States globally. Iraq is currently in a 'policing and mop-up of insurgents' mode and even now we hear the wailings about the handfuls of deaths every week. The segment of the population decrying this has the media at its beck and call and there is ZERO, as in NO reporting of any progress being made there. To get to that one must go to the MNF website.

The final and absolute killer in this is that terrorism is now a distributed, non-Nation backed affair. The US Armed Forces may only target industries if they are knowingly backing and supplying enemies of the United States and are in a Nation that we are at war with. Because of the cheapness of goods and this concept of 'Free Trade uplifting the downtrodden' those that wish to arm themselves to be less downtrodden and use terror as their weapon are being EMPOWERED by it. This Conservative notion of free trade everywhere 'liberating people' patently is giving cheap goods and services to our enemies. Because of this most actual material production is done in Nations that are wholly NEUTRAL or have such endemic problems that they cannot police themselves. Are we to declare war on ALL of those, too?

So, even if the worse threats are removed and even if Nation State backing is removed, that leaves the entire interconnected network of terrorist organizations that were *already* helping each other out in the 1970's and those internetwork contacts only expanded thereafter. Attacking Nations and ending, say, Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda, still LEAVES a vast undertaking to go after the rest of the list. Because chopping off one part of this conception still leaves the majority of the network *intact* and able to quickly spin up new terrorist organizations, give them entree to arms suppliers, teach them methods that are effective and technologies to use. This is Transnational Terrorism and is global in its extent, variant in its ideologies and ALL of them wish to diminish the Nation State to their own reasons. To attack this requires defining the actual problem and then offering goals and methodologies for slowly and surely putting an END to it.

To do THIS also requires asymmetrical warfare of the commerce stripe that only Congress can address. And this moves us back up to the actual capabilities and reasons for economic power: productivity of Citizens. I started out with a basic results concept of it in my Pork is for Terrorists article. Wholly fiction but with an extreme and nasty sharp point to it. That point is that the true strength of the US Armed Forces is a reflection on the productive capacity and ingenuity of its Citizens. This is not a new thing in the world, this going after commerce and trade with an enemy, and was time honored all the way into the early 19th Century and the Republic of the United States was able to flourish in that era by the productivity of its Citizens and their willingness to take up arms in a good cause *voluntarily*. The Constitution specifically ADDRESSES these powers and gives them to Congress.

One of the values of actually *reading* the Constitution is understanding that these are the powers that We the People are GRANTING to Government to DEFEND US. No mere treaty may take those powers away as the Constitution over-rides any such provisos. Similarly Congress may not give those power away via legislation nor the President assume them. Until We the People either amend the Constitution or hold a Convention to redraft the entire thing those POWERS that We have given to Congress STAND as the Law and Power of the Land. Congress has willfully forgotten these powers and asks the disingenuous question of: don't we have any role in war? Why, yes, you do, and I have written you on that, perhaps not in elegance and flourishes, but the information has gotten to your offices. To actually *exercise* those powers requires that Congress actually think about letting the American People who are willing to do so figure out how best to go after our enemies on the economic side. This is a point that I have been pressing home again and again, but to little headway.

Under this conception of warfare, integrating it with the Congressional Treaty regularization power and drafting some new Treaties with Friends and Allies looking to END terrorism, the hard work of inspecting ships, ensuring cargo, securing the banking system and doing the necessary work to slowly end the easy shipping and transports of goods to the enemies of the American People *and* its Friends and Allies can be done. It is enforced *not* by the Navy, which is already busy, nor the Marines, nor the Army, nor the Air Force and only in some waters by the Coast Guard. The REST of international trade falls under the investigative power and ingenuity of the American people to root out such trade, track it down and bring it back to designated places for BOUNTY or accepting the entire load of goods with which they may dispose of as they please. Yes, any vessel carrying contraband is forfeit and the entirety of its cargo. To facilitate this Congress can open up the decommissioned vessels and aircraft graveyards to enterprising Americans and their wholly owned companies and start the hard work of enforcing these international trade restrictions, put in place by Treaties and then bringing them to heel. Further, if they bring in wanted individuals they will *also* get rewards for THAT.

The US Armed Forces cannot do this even with the full capability of the Federal Treasury, Secret Service, Justice Department, Commerce Department and all the intelligence analysts available. The Federal Government is *restricted* in doing these things as it is the Congressional WAR POWER to do these things via the American People. This is asymmetrical economic warfare using the justly Warranted Citizenry to go out with Letters of Marque and Reprisals to seize cargo, ships, destroy warehouses or otherwise impede and stop shipping with the enemies of the United States. If any Nation threatens this, then the full United States Armed Forces may be used to *protect* these Lawfully Warranted Citizens who are enacting the will of Congress and carrying out the Foreign Policy of the United States.

The Armed Forces of the United States are mighty in their capabilities. That is a mere shadow of the power of the individuals that support them. The Nation *itself* has the mightiest weapon on this planet that goes beyond mere destructive capability: the ingenuity, craftiness and pure and outright greed of Americans to grab a fast buck and do it LEGALLY far, far outweigh meager destruction of cities. Of course that *requires* lots of hard work and putting one's life on the line... but put the necessary limits and protections for due process in-place so that foreign companies taking *collateral damage* cannot extradite nor sue, which is wholly within the Congressional War Power, and then the American People have a basis to support this as individuals. We the People limit the Armed Forces here because We do not want to tempt any President to usurp this capability from Us and take it away as a fully legal and operable means for the American People to fight on their own terms.

A *draft* for conscription is *not* the answer to Transnational Terrorism and ending it as an ideological possibility to success for broader goals of domination. Removing the profit from that trade *with* terrorists, hounding their suppliers until they *stop* supplying them, going after financiers and banks *directly* by seizure, and seizing cargo vessels, aircraft, trucks and any other transport for these enemies of the State slowly tightens the noose around terrorists. What will they do? Threaten their suppliers? Kill their bankers? Blow up their offices? This is their very LIFE BLOOD to sustain themselves as organizations. And what is even better is that if this is started, many will give themselves up to proper law enforcement rather than be *captured* by American Citizens with a Warrant and whatever means they deem necessary to bring them in.

Make the reward high enough and genuinely pay it off with lots of media attention and hear the howls of outrage from multiple companies that were innocently using a cheap cargo operator that *also* trafficked with terrorists... and then refuse extradition and, indeed, paying off any damages as this is a TAKING OF WAR. So sorry you were caught up with someone supplying the enemy. You might try a REPUTABLE company that SCREENS its cargo and has methods in place to ensure that their cargo is not tampered with and verifiable.

This is not only wholly workable and feasible, but it scales up quickly as those with various sorts of skills realize they can come together and do these things honorably and profitably. Citizens empowered by their Governments to take actions and receive reward for those actions during wartime is an ancient and honorable way and means to hunt down a non-traditional enemy or take on a wholly larger one by alternative means. That is why terrorism is so vexing to us, it uses a recomposition of non-State based activity and we are used to ONLY State-based military conceptions of war coming out of the last 150 years or so. We the People can fight wars by other Means, but it takes Congress to use its powers to do so.

That is one of the reasons that the US did *not* sign the add-ons to the Geneva Convention in 1977: honorable and understood State sanctioned but non-military actors were being put into a heap with barbaric terrorists. That is not only unwise... but it treads upon the Congressional War Power. Individuals with State Warrants using any means they find necessary to carry out these Warrants are far, far different than terrorists. In point of fact they are something so completely other that they offer the one thing that the mighty military can NOT do: A Solution.

I am more than happy to have Americans take to their own devices, tramp through the disused *older* equipment of the military and let them pick it up at pennies a ton, and let folks figure out how to arrange to get them back into service for a *new* era of warfare. One with a totally different aim than Military based warfare. And the wonderful part about this is, that whenever a terrorist organization takes its hand against the US or its Friends and Allies, it is automatically targeted by the American People.

You want to attack asymmetrically? Fine.

We the People will counter-attack similarly in ways you cannot defend against.

And hound the enemies of Free People to the ends of the Earth.

Because it is right.

And it pays good, too.


geoffgo said...


Terrific analysis and proposal. And, you haven’t even touched on the “net-directed” aspects of such citizen-based asymmetrical conflicts. It costs almost nothing to have millions of our citizens to mount DoS attacks, 24/7/365 -- soon as it’s ID’d, it no longer operates.

We can preclude our enemies use the net for distributing radicalism, by having the US gov’t openly declare certain websites as legitimate targets, and publishing the list real-time.

We can write automated programs, on each of our personal machines, etc. Our best wormists can inflict serious damage, over and over and over.

Incite Liberty!
Weaponize Freedom!
Inflict Capitalism!

A Jacksonian said...

geoffgo - From the simple DDoS to actually interdicting shipping, destroying warehouses and otherwise carrying out the Will of Congress via Letters of Marque and Reprisal is wholly something left up to Congress to do and the President to manage. Congress puts up rewards and what is needed to gain a Warrant... get the Warrant and the President hands you a Letter to go after things. Congress can list the enemies, list the things to interdict, set up the Bounties and put out a standard letter on these things that the President has little option but to sign-off on. To *not* do so would be to deny the Law of the Land and abdicate his duties as President. The Executive can do the certification process with *appeals* that Congress sets up in case of *bias* by the Executive.

I want Our Enemies hounded everywhere on all fronts as they try to gain goods and services... until they run out of those willing to take the large risk to make small profit.

That is what the People of the United States can and MUST do... the Military is made to go after Nations. We the People are supposed to sweat the small stuff.