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War

General Comments about War

In places where extremists are in a substantial majority and desire to establish their own state or country, a reasonable course of action could be creation of a new small state or country. This may conflict with the wishes of the existing nation state that encompasses the would be new nation state, e.g. desire for a Kurdish state conflicting with interests of Turkey, Syria, and/or Iraq. But perhaps, just perhaps, it's in the interest of all parties for the majority in a locale to govern itself. Consider the United States in the 1860s. What if the South was allowed to secede without much ado. This solution could be fraught with danger, e.g. if the new nation-state becomes aggressive to its neighbors. But aggression may be averted. Another interesting case is Israel. The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine at the end of the British Mandate was Resolution 181(II), 29 November 1947 (see Wikipedia article). That led to Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion's statement, “We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel”; and he became Israel’s first premier. Some details of what it means for a country to be a Jewish state are not at all clear to me, though I understand the idea of a Jewish homeland. The main question in my mind is "How are non-Jews treated?" Second-class? This is an issue in any country, but especially those that have overtly religious or narrowly dogmatic governments.

War on drugs

Interesting article in Science:
Could pot help solve the U.S. opioid epidemic?  By Greg Miller, Nov. 3, 2016
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/could-pot-help-solve-us-opioid-epidemic



War on Terror

An interesting critique of Bush's Global War on Terrorism



Monday, January 12, 2004


Summary of "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism" by Dr. Jeffrey Record

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States, the U.S. Government declared a global war on terrorism (GWOT), in which the Bush administration postulated a multiplicity of enemies, including rogue states; weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferators; terrorist organizations of global, regional, and national scope, terrorism itself, and "evil" in general.

The Bush administration has viewed these enemies as a monolithic threat, and in so doing has blurred the distinction between states and nonstate entities that pose no serious threat to the United States. This is similar to the cold war era view of Communism as a monolithic threat and international conspiracy which blinded American policymakers to the uniqueness of local circumstances, national, historical, and cultural differences. A Communist anywhere was a Communist everywhere, and all posed an equal threat to America’s security. A result of this inability to discriminate was disastrous U.S. military intervention in Vietnam against an enemy that was simplistically and incorrectly perceived to be little more than an extension of Kremlin designs in Southeast Asia.

Iraq and Viet Nam are very different, but the fact that the Bush administration identified al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a single, undifferentiated terrorist threat was a strategic error of the first order because it ignored critical differences between the two in character, threat level, and appropriateness of U.S. deterrence or military action. The result has been a "preventive" war of choice against an Iraq that had already been deterred--a war that was not only unnecessary, but has created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism, a new target for terrorists against Americans, and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by al-Qaeda.

The war against Iraq was not integral to the GWOT, but rather a detour from it. Most of the GWOT’s declared objectives (including destruction of transnational terrorist organizations, transformation of Iraq into a stable democracy, democratization of the entire Middle East, eradication of terrorism as a means of irregular warfare, and termination of WMD proliferation to real and potential enemies worldwide--by force, if necessary) are unrealistic and constitute a hopeless quest for absolute security. They are politically, fiscally, and militarily unsustainable.

Instead, we should:

  • distinguish between states and nonstate entities and assess terrorist threats separately, not monolithic bloc;
  • substitute credible deterrence for preventive war as the primary vehicle for dealing with rogue states seeking WMD;
  • refocus the GWOT first and foremost on al-Qaeda, its allies, and homeland security;
  • cultivate and support international cooperation in intelligence and muscular police efforts to stem terrorist threats;
  • prepare to settle for stability over democracy (if the choice is forced upon us) in Iraq
  • seek international rather than U.S. responsibility for Iraq’s future;
  • reassess of U.S. military force levels, especially ground force levels.

The GWOT as it has so far been defined and conducted is strategically unfocused, promises much more than it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate scarce U.S. military and other means over too many ends. It violates the fundamental strategic principles of discrimination and concentration.

Author's Bio

Dr. Jeffrey Record joined the Strategic Studies Institute in August 2003 as Visiting Research Professor. He is a professor in the Department of Strategy and International Security at the US Air Force’s Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama.

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