Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Prussian Blues: NATO and Long War Division of Labor

In the ongoing discussion by proxy -- the leaked intel reports -- of the effect of Iraq on the Long War on terror, Mountain Runner has a great post, which emphasizes the problems with the way the Iraq war and post-war has been carried out:
Between news of the April NIE indicating Iraq as an engine for extremism and a Pentagon assessment showing Sunni support for the insurgency increasing more than five-fold in the last three years (14% to 75%), how does one not connect the dots between action and reaction with our foreign policy?

How does one not see connections between a failure to attempt to secure the peace, implement law and order, virtually no attempt to halt looting, complete irresponsibility in reconstruction, massive demobilization and unemployment of trained warriors, failure to protect known weapons caches, failing to provide basic essential services, and the creation of power vacuums as not contributing to the insurgency? Add on top of that indignities of obvious other newsmaking encounters and facilities and how can the dots not be connected? (...)

Each week there is more information on the failed Excursion into Iraq. It is even more sad to think of all the members of the armed forces and the civilian contractors who gave their lives in a theater where the enemy was effectively of our own making. The peace could have been won before Mission Accomplished. And despite what one might say that winning a war is not the same as winning the peace because of the 'changing nature of war', Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and Mao all agree on the necessity to treat the captives well and to not create enemies through mistreatment. Yes, even Clausewitz, dashed to the side by those that say '4GW' is a new way of war, nailed this outcome. Perhaps 4GW'ers should go back and re-read the Dead Prussian. The dots were there, labelled, and with flashing numbers.

As remarked several times before, the Long War as a corrected version 2.0 of the GWOT tries to remedy some of these problems: at the conceptual level at least. One important element is, as Mountain Runner also hints at above, the need for effects based thinking that embraces the theatre as a political realm ("Effects based Cultural Awareness").

The long War concept still needs further clarification before it can be operationally implemented
(see e.g. this post about the problems with the new Administration anti-terror strategy). And whether it will be is far from a done deal due to internal Pentagon and Defense environment strategic discord. Rather, as Tom Barnett points out in a new column for the Knoxville News Sentinel, we have long backlog of pre-conceived understanding of what security means -- or ought to mean, we hope:
We don't live in a more dangerous world today. We just live in a security system that no longer offers zero-deductible insurance policies for global stability. America's zero-deductible mindset grew out of our long-term standoff with the Soviets, a strategic stability cemented by our dual decisions to pursue detente and abandon the Vietnam War's domino theory. It can be summarized as such: So long as nukes make great power war unthinkable, global stability is an existential reality that requires no regular blood premiums from America.

This mindset survived the Cold War's end. In the 1990s, Western great powers got involved with great reluctance in situations where globalization's disintegrating impact spun secessionist conflicts into genocidal fits of ethnic rage - such as the Balkans. And, if the killings were located far enough away from our integrating global economy, as in the case of Central Africa, then we made no effort at all. After 9/11, Americans grimly embraced the idea that defending our way of life would once again require regular sacrifices of both treasure and blood, and although many dispute President Bush's decision to invade Iraq, there remains a strong consensus that freedom isn't free.

But this zero-deductible mindset remains prevalent among several of our allies, leaving America dangerously exposed in several regional scenarios with the potential to derail globalization's advance.

Barnett, ultimately, would like to see the Chinese responsibly involved in adminstrating globalization's progress. The point here, though, concerning the present allies of the US, is more related to the situation in Iraq and perhaps even more Afghanistan. Here, NATO soldiers are not only fighting the Taliban, but also developing the PRT concept and other elements of enhanced CIMIC in practice. NATO forces have been doing this transformation -- weighted towards Peace Operations -- since then end of the Cold War. In Afghanistan especially, they have moved closer to the very hard end of these too, including sometimes in terms of risk willingness.

The major strategic question is whether the Pentagon will work its way towards a sustainable concept of the Long War. As Barnett has pointed out, Pentagon's direction is crucial because it works like a hub, where the allies are the spokes. But the NSPD44's outsourcing of ultimate responsibility for Stabilization and Reconstruction from Pentagon to State in combination with internal pressure from the Cold Worriers may mean that the allies will ultimately be expected to be doing the bulk of the work in the Long War -- because they are already fairly calibrated to do so. But that will clearly not suffice.

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