We Can Win a Global War with Two Fronts. We Will Lose a Global War with One.

Full Spectrum Struggle Is Not MBA Struggle,” by Dan, tdaxp, 8 May 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/05/08/full_spectrum_struggle_is_not_mba_struggle.html.

QDR: China Tops Iraq, Osama?,” by Noah Shachtman, Defense Tech, 23 January 2005, http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002110.html (from DNI),

The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs ,” by Ralph Peters, The Weekly Standard, 6 February 2006, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/649qrsob.asp (from TPMB).

Months ago, I wrote:

Whether you are an army or a movement, you are attacked where you are weakest by someone else where they are strongest. They will exploit their advantage over you where they chose. Over and over again, this is how wars start. It’s how battles start. It is how any conflict starts.

It’s still true. Even if it means agreeing with the and Rumsfeld. Even if it means disagreeing with Shactman and Peters

The details of my thinking have changed slightly, but the message is the still the same: we must win. We are trying to win the Wars for Globalization, to finally end all wars as we have known them and spread prosperity and happiness throughout the world. We have two strategies for doing this:

  • first, keep global capitalism so countries will suck each other into the global system,
  • and second, “take care of” states that treat their people horrifically, or their neighbors badly

We will never be perfect in either of these, but we must maintain our leads in both. Our ability to keep global capitalism going will be better than the enemy’s ability to harm it, and our ability to process rogue regimes will be better than their attempts to spread. Not perfect, but enough to keep the correlation of forces going with us and maintain forward progress.

The greatest threat from rogue states comes from infiltration by terrorist groups like al Qaeda. The greatest threat to the world economy comes from a large nation doing something stupid and dangerous, like China invading her neighbors in a conventional war.

The solution is obvious: keep weakening al Qaeda and similar groups while keeping China at peace. This is a much smaller task than the two ocean war America fought in the 1940s, or the two hemisphere stand off she faced for forty years. With minor restructuring, we can even make victory easy — if imperfect.

Yet now two critics both argue that we should abandon one fight, in order to focus on the other.


There is, in short, not a single enemy in existence or on the horizon willing to play the victim to the military we continue to build. Faced with men of iron belief wielding bombs built in sheds and basements, our revolution in military affairs appears more an indulgence than an investment. In the end, our enemies will not outfight us. We’ll muster the will to do what must be done–after paying a needlessly high price in the lives of our troops and damage to our domestic infrastructure. We will not be beaten, but we may be shamed and embarrassed on a needlessly long road to victory.

We must be realistic about the military requirements of a war with China, but we also need to grasp that, for such an enemy, the military sphere would be only one field of warfare–and not the decisive one. What would it take to create an atmosphere of defeat in a sprawling nation of over one billion people? A ruthless economic blockade, on the seas, in the air, and on land, would be an essential component of any serious war plan, but the Chinese capability for sheer endurance might surprise us. Could we win against China without inflicting extensive devastation on Chinese cities? Would even that be enough? Without mirror-imaging again, can we identify any incentive China’s leaders would have to surrender?


But it does not require, apparently, a wholesale change of direction. Terrorist-type threats will get some new attention. But the Defense Department isn’t about to optimize for that threat, the way it did for the Soviet Union. Big money will continue to be spent on fighter jets designed to duel with the Soviets and destroyers designed for large-scale ground assaults. Grunts on the ground won’t get much more than they do now. The war on terror may be “long.” But, apparently, it’s not important enough to make really big shifts.

Schactman’s paper is the easiest to deal with. Of course we aren’t optimizing for one overarching challenge: because there are two overarching challenges. Focusing on one core-competency might be the MBA way of doing things, but it would be deadly for a great power. In warfare, optimization isn’t about being the best you can be in one thing: it’s about being better than your enemy in all things.

Peters’ claims confuse our goals with China, and so require some unraveling. Peters plans for a war that would require US occupation of China: an impossible task. The purpose of building up to deter China isn’t to conquer her, but to prevent her for attacking her neighbors. The war with China, itself, would be the disaster, nearly as much as allowing her to occupy whatever neighbor she wished. Our build-up should thus be geared to avoiding the need for a war with China, by maximizing our ability to destroy her offensive forces rapidly.