As I said earlier, I cannot imagine any non-American general staff that thinks it can win a conventional war with the United States. To win against the United States, an organization must plan on fighting an `assymetrical war'. Nothing else makes military sense.
In assymetrical warfare, soldiers do not wear uniforms, but hide. They travel in commercial airplanes with accurate and valid identification. They seldom have any military or criminal past. While some fight as agents of a state, many do not. They work for non-state organizations such as Al Qaeda. They act because of belief.
As Clausewitz said, war is fundamentally "... a continuation of politics by other means". The key is persuasion, either through fear or hope.
In 1989 15 years before the time I write this William Lind and others wrote in the Marine Corps Gazette that
... the enemy's military is simply irrelevant to the terrorist.
Lind and the other authors were arguing that nature of war had changed and the United States Marine Corps was entering `fourth generation' style of war since the advent of the musket. They described various aspect of this fourth generation style, one of which was
(In that same essay, Lind and the other authors were complementary about rates of change in the US military, but suggested that they are slow:
In the United States, the Army and the Marine Corps are now coming to grips with the change to the third generation. This transition is entirely for the good. ... third generation warfare was conceptually developed by the German offensive in the spring of 1918.
(Others have argued that slowness is inherent in today's United States officer culture. Christensen and Raynor describe a fix for corporations in The Innovator's Solution1. Governments may do the same.)
As for victory in a `fourth generation' conflict, Chet Richards adopts notions of the American strategist, John R. Boyd. Richards says that for success, a people need a
... grand ideal, overarching theme, or noble philosophy that represents a coherent paradigm within which individuals as well as societies can shape and adapt to unfolding circumstances ...
Richards goes on to say that the
... U.S. Constitution represents such a theme for [the United States]. The challenge of American grand strategy, therefore, is to uphold the ideals embodied in the Constitution, while showing that we respect the culture and achievements of our allies, the uncommitted, potential adversaries, and even the population of actual adversaries. ....
Indeed, for a long lasting, secure, and large government, those who design its constitution must assume that its members will be intrinsically evil. Hence, the US Constitution is a model, since its design was based on that premise,
Governments that depend on a `benign emperor' or `good caliph' always fail, if not in the first generation of rulers, then in a subsequent generation.
In so far as the goal of a conflict is to collapse an `enemy internally', the method involves persuasion. We know that people want a government that provides justice and democracy (albeit, after higher priority needs are satisfied). Consequently, it makes sense for the United States to return to its old ideals.
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