3 Views of the Long-Term

With neither the expertise nor time to do these justice, I offer for others’ thoughts the following three sites which discuss both bin Laden’s and America’s long-term strategy:
A) Bruce Lawrence, having written an introduction to bin Laden’s works, summarizes some of his points – “In bin Laden’s Words” in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. Thanks to A&L Daily.
B) Belmont Club’s discussion of Iran’s threat and of Gingrich’s testimony about American intelligence and the “long war.”
C) Newt Gingrich’s testimony itself before Congress. This is relatively long and in PDF format; includes 4 appendices: Natinal Security Changes; Core Values of the Intelligence Community; Recommendations; and For Inside Assessment of Intelligence Reform.

He contrasts this “Long War” (taking 50-70 years if we are quite lucky) with the defensive alliance that contained the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The fitting comparison, he believes, are to the lengthy, multiple & bloody Reformation-era wars.

He argues “the current intelligence system is too small, too under funded, too bureaucratic, too culturally inbred, and too ineffective.”

He emphasizes the danger: “It is a war against the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam because this enemy believes in a strikingly different world than the one we believe in, a world with which there can be no compromise.” Because of this, it “is a societal war of identity so there are no holds barred, no rules, and no real accomodations (only tactical maneuvers) or potential for compromise solutions on their part that that would be culturally acceptable to us, or to them.”

He describes George Marshall’s trimming of the military between June 1939 & June 1940 (retiring 54 generals & 445 colonels in an Army of 225,000.) Firmly, he advises: “If this subcommittee finds that something about the new Intelligence Community architecture is not working, then it should move the Congress to fix it. Fast.” Then, “If this subcommittee finds the Intelligence Community personnel are not up to the task of rapidy implementing needed reforms, then such personnel should lose this subcommittee’s and the public’s trust and be aked to move on. Fast.”

He is serious & expects to be taken seriously; he discusses the bombings and murders in Europe, including the bombers who were British citizens. This indicates “the Bush Doctrine is only partly right. In other words, spreading democracy may be essential to win this war, but by itself it may not be sufficient.” The nature of “the long war” challenges our intelligence community to rethink itself.

He concludes that good intelligence is its linchpin and what we owe our soldiers. Thus: “Creating an effective intelligence system is going to require real change of a wrenching sort. Yet we have no choice. The very survival of our way of life depends on it.”

2 thoughts on “3 Views of the Long-Term”

  1. “In other words, spreading democracy may be essential to win this war, but by itself it may not be sufficient.”

    We’ve fought the long war before. I recommend, Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian 1866-1891 by Robert M. Utley. The perspective of a small and overtaxed military establishment conducting operations in a demanding environment, physically and politically, while bringing ‘civilization’ to the vastness of the west can be related to the contemporary operations on the world stage today. Of particular note would be chapters three: The Problem of Doctrine, four: The Army, Congress, and the People, and
    eighteen: Mexican Border Conflicts 1870-81.

    Some excerpts:
    Chapter 3: The Problem of Doctrine. “Three special conditions set this mission apart from more orthodox military assignments. First, it pitted the army against an enemy who usually could not be clearly identified and differentiated from kinsmen not disposed at the moment to be enemies. Indians could change with bewildering rapidity from friend to foe to neutral, and rarely could one be confidently distinguished from another…Second, Indian service placed the army in opposition to a people that aroused conflicting emotions… And third, the Indians mission gave the army a foe unconventional both in the techniques and aims of warfare… He fought on his own terms and, except when cornered or when his family was endangered, declined to fight at all unless he enjoyed overwhelming odds…These special conditions of the Indian mission made the U.S. Army not so much a little army as a big police force…for a century the army tried to perform its unconventional mission with conventional organization and methods. The result was an Indian record that contained more failures than successes and a lack of preparedness for conventional war that became painfully evident in 1812, 1846, 1861, and 1898.

    Chapter 4. The Army, Congress, and the People. Sherman’s frontier regulars endured not only the physical isolation of service at remote border posts; increasingly in the postwar years they found themselves isolated in attitudes, interests, and spirit from other institutions of government and society and, indeed from the American people themselves…Reconstruction plunged the army into tempestuous partisan politics. The frontier service removed it largely from physical proximity to population and, except for an occasional Indian conflict, from public awareness and interest. Besides public and congressional indifference and even hostility, the army found its Indian attitudes and policies condemned and opposed by the civilian officials concerned with Indian affairs and by the nation’s humanitarian community.

    First the soldiers, then the settlers. Now its not just a nation, its a civilization.

  2. In the long run some battles fight themselves:

    “Islam faces a crisis of faith that will bring about a demographic catastrophe in the middle of the present century.

    Radical Islam should be interpreted as a cry of despair in the face of the ineluctable decline of Islamic society.

    It is hard enough for rich nations to care for a growing elderly population, but impossible for poor nations to do so. Iran

    If America faces discomfort, and Europe faces crisis, Muslim countries face breakdown.”

    PART 1: Statistical evidence
    By Spengler
    11/1/05 Asia Times

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