Don’t Believe the Hype …

Over the next few weeks, you will start seeing press reports about “fourth-generation warfare,” “netwar,” and “unconventional conflict.” In these reports, military historians and academics will try and explain that Israel’s military failings in Lebanon and America’s struggles in Iraq are the result of the failure of the military leadership of these two superpowers to recognize the changing nature of warfare …

Don’t believe it, because it is not true … Indeed, the volume of such reports will reflect how large bureaucracies operate and the domestic political impact of failed military adventures, but will not contribute to public understanding of the nature (bad politics — either misguided or ill-intended, you be the judge) of these two wars … This purported debate will in many ways mirror discussions of the impact of “non-state actors” on international law and international relations … In these false debates, phenomena become new only if one is suffering from self-imposed amensia …

Hizbullah and the insurgents in Iraq are fighting classical geurilla insurgencies and they are indeed non-state actors with hidden support from nation-states. However, both their tactics and their strategies are well-known and well-practiced by nation-states with large regular armed forces. In many respects, the insurgencies are the inheritors of the military and political tactics and strategies used by the Great Powers to over the last century to shape the course and order of the Middle East region (destabilizing governments, psychological terror, covert operations, collective punishment, public relations battles, etc…).

Sorry for the cliche, but war is, has always been, and will forever remain politics by other means. Ultimately, the success or failure of a military campaigns depends on how well calibrated the political objective is with the resources employed to achieve that goal …

When the political goal (if it is ever clear — what exactly is the United States doing in Iraq and the Israelis in southern Lebanon?) becomes elusive or postively unattainable, you can be sure the strategies and tactics of war will be blamed and the political goal redefined …

Thus the media reports and head scratching, while the murderous politicians live to have their conscripts fight another day …

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