Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fabius Maximus - " The Fate of Israel" at DNI

Well, this one should set off some sparks. This post represents part II of an at least three part series by Fabius at DNI. Part I. can be found here. I see that John Robb linked yesterday as well where a discussion has begun in the comments section.

I prefer the Boydian " constructive" description of grand strategy to this one used by Fabius:

"Grand Strategy: a state’s collective policy with respect to the external world. Paul Kennedy defined it as "the capacity of the nation's leaders to bring together all of the elements {of power}, both military and nonmilitary, for the preservation and enhancement of the nation's long-term … best interests" (from his “Grand Strategies in War and Peace”). From a Trinitarian perspective, it focuses and coordinates the diplomatic and military efforts of a state’s People, Government, and Army."

On the other hand, his primal strategy is actually closer to Boyd's "theme for vitality and growth". It would also be harmonious with my concept of state resiliency:

"Primal Strategy: often found in the early years of a society when its people have a “single-minded” commitment to a goal, often just a drive to grow. A “primal strategy” is an expression of a people’s core beliefs. It is non-intellectual, with no need for theories and plans."

Getting to the specifics of the case of Israel and the Palestinians as argued by Fabius he has hit on an important point regarding emigration, that does represent a strategic threat to Israel's survival. The Palestinians however will not gain the incremental surrender that Fabius expects if in the interim they manage to pull off a ghastly act of mass destruction terrorism inside Israel; a coup numerous Arab nationalist and Islamist terrorist groups would gladly attempt. Such an event that results in the deaths of tens of thousands of Israelis will instantly change the moral calculus for world opinion, particularly if the attack involved poison gas. We can expect that the Israeli leadership would then move beyond the current policy of unilateral separation from the Palestinians to expelling them en masse from the West Bank.

Yes, this would be ethnic cleansing and yes this will cost Israel much Western support but national survival would take precedence over any other consideration for Jerusalem and the Palestinian demographic advantage would then be rendered irrelevant.


I am really behind the blogging curve lately but I want to point out that since 4GW is the theme , Dan of tdaxp had a post recently featuring the observations of Dr. Chet Richards on John Boyd's OODA Loop

MarK; do you reckon FM and JR are right about Israel's inability to contain Palestine from a population standpoint?
I think if the choice becomes between Israel's destruction as a state and mass forced removal of the Palestinian and Arab-Israeli population, the Israelis will opt for the latter than go under, regardless of the costs.

Best that things not reach that kind of extreme decision point. Far better alternatives can be found
Not really much analysis in that link.
Don't remember if it was at your blog or elsewhere, but someone recently pointed out that prior to Pearl Harbor, FDR spoke of the immorality of bombing cities and targeting civilians and five years later we are fire bombing Dresden and Tokyo. When your back is to the wall you tend to fight accordingly. Israel has an immense superiority and luxury that allows it to maintain it's high moral standards. If the Israeli population is seriously threatened by the Palestinians then Israel will drop it's dislike of killing and many Palestinians will die. Unfortunately, this seems to be the course we are on.

Sparks? I don't know: that is a really shallow analysis. In particular, it uses "strong" and "weak", per the comments at John Robb's, in an interesting and non-intuitive way. It then essentially says "the weak side always wins", which is not only counter-intuitive, but flatly wrong. It comes to this: Israel will lose if and only if it incorporates the Palestinian territories and Palestinian population unto itself with full rights. If it rejects the territory and population (as seems currently to be the case), withdrawing into defensible borders and eliminating the demographic threat, and also stops permitting Palestinian Arabs to enter Israel, Israel will kill 90% of its security problem.

On top of that, if Israel responds to the cross-border rocket attacks the way it did to the pre-1967 artillery exchanges, Israel will be able to reduce much more of its security problem. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Arabs will be falling ever deeper into poverty and despair without outlets. A human tragedy, yes, but I fail to see the threat to Israel's long-term survival.
Jeff -- I find your post a bit difficult to understand. It's true, the weak/strong contrast is used for dramatic effect, very counter-intuitive. But I hoped the message was clear.

You say "It then essentially says "the weak side always wins"..."

Note the subtitle: "Demonstrating the difficultly of distinguishing strong from weak in 4GW".

Also note a few other indications that Israel is weak, the Palestinians are strong.

"And strategically Israel is very weak."

"The Palestinian people have five great strategic advantages over Israel." (list follows)

"How can the Palestinian people defeat Israel?" (description of 2 ways follow).
Seems like a lot of what Fabius calls "primal strategies" aren't really strategies at all; they're objectives. "Exterminate Israel" is not a strategy. It's not even a grand strategy.

Looking at FM's "Myth of Grand Strategy" essay makes the point even clearer. Rome wanted to rule the world; that's an objective, not a strategy. The conquistadores wanted to conquer the New World; that's an objective too. Americans wanted to extend the United States from sea to shining sea; that, too, is an objective, not a strategy.

In "The Myth of Grand Strategy" FM says "We can describe these as 'grand strategies', but to do so has an element of falsity." Seems to me like the falsity is very basic: those aren't *strategies* at all.

FM is right that sophisticated societies lack the sort of "primal" objectives of less-developed societies. And I'm even willing to concede that the very *immediacy* of primal objectives makes them overwhelmingly compelling for people who feel that their primal objectives are threatened (cf Maslow).

But that doesn't seem to entail that people fighting for primal objectives will always beat people fighting for sophisticated ones.
Mark and Barnabus,

I agree with you about the end of the I-P War if it comes to brute force. But that is seldom the end for ethnic conflicts.

Please re-read the section following the heading "Primal Strategy" which describes the Palestinians resort to 4GW, and Col Hammes very specific answer to your comments.

Also note the two outcomes I specifically mention (neither matches your descriptions):

1. Supporting negotiations with the Palestinians. The Palestinians can sequentially renegotiate these into total victory, as we did with the American Indians, and as Rome did with Carthage. This is incremental surrender.

2. Emigrating, leaving Israel for safer and more prosperous lands.
Hi Fabius,

I am familiar with Hammes, but the psychological and moral dynamic on is being underrated here.

On the Palestinian side it would certainly not be a rational strategy to make such an attack on the Israelis. However when you look at heterogeneity in radical movements, which is in play among the Palestinians, you get a " ramping up" effect from intragroup competition.

Factions jockey with one another in terms of escalating both the radicalization of their ideology and the militancy of their actions to acquire the most political legitimacy.

Something we saw in China's Cultural Revolution, the Third Reich, the SDS in the 60's here and today among Sunni Islamist groups across the Muslim world and in Iran's government.

With nothing and no one to " put the breaks" on this process on the Palestinian side, odds are that some splinter group will have the motivation to carry out such an attack against Israel.
Three brief comments...

1. Everyone, lets stretch a bit and think of an ending to the I-P war beyond gunfire. That's what my article discusses.

2. Many of these issues about the nature and definitions of Grand Strategy were discussed in the first article in this series -- my 2300 word article that Matt mentions:
"The Myth of Grand Strategy"

(3) Matt - I think you're being a bit too literal. After all, "Containment" is an objective -- but we all know it is the name for a complex and largely successful Grand Strategy.

Similarly with all the others you list -- they're "handles" that refer to specific strategies.

You say "But that doesn't seem to entail that people fighting for primal objectives will always beat people fighting for sophisticated ones. "

That's nice, but I never said or implied such a thing. Nor are Grand Strategies more "sophisticated" than Primal Strategies -- just stem from Peoples at different stages of life.
just stem from Peoples at different stages of life.

The assumption being that a People develops in chartable lifecycle?

Dan tdaxp
Here's thought:

Traditional Clausewitzian trinity:

People, Army, State

Despite the reference of the trinity by Clausewitz to war, this grouping is "constructive". It is dedicated to expansion and/or preservation of the collective interest ( nation, society, civilization) vs. external competitors.

That trinity still exists but in addition we can discern an emergence of an antipodal " anti-trinity" or dark trinity that is profoundly negative and destructive towad the collective. It might also be destabilizing and destructive toward external competitors but that would be incidental:

Tribes, 4GW networks, Corrupt Elites

Tribes would not have to be litreal ethnic tribesmen but any sizable, subnational groupings of any kind with a strong internal coherence and separtist tendency that are too big or diffuse to be a scale-free network.
Today, 40% of the PA's budget comes from outside aid. The palestinian refugee camps, without which you would not have the mass of irredentists, are creations of the UN, not Israel and not palestinians.

Once you factor in the money and ideological support that the PA gets from outside, a revised roster of combatants makes it clear why Israel is strategically weak.

But none of those outside relationships is carved in stone. The UN doesn't have to maintain camps. The US and EU don't have to continue to fund the PA. Things can change in the cast and nature of PA outside support and the strategic map will change as well.

Things *are* changing. Denmark will not be quite so supportive of EU funding for the PA and will probably insist that whatever funding does get sent is accompanied by greater oversight. Other EU countries are probably shifting too.

If there are no camps, if there is no humanitarian lifeline, current palestinian strategy is unsustainable. This means that Israeli strategy should concentrate on breaking the palestinian outside alliances. Absorption of palestinian camp populations is possible. Not allowing palestinians to leave the camps has been a political decision of the levantine governments hosting the camps. This too can be reversed.

Speaking of those ME nations who host camps, are the oil arabs the friends of the palestinians (the assumption that they are underlies the third palestinian advantage). I can hardly see how they are even allies of convenience. The arab governments are supporting Palestine out of weakness as a way to distract their population from internal difficulties. As these governments grow stronger due to high oil sales, they have less, not more of a need to distract from their own troubles. Israel's interest is, ironically, in a strong series of oil countries that doesn't need to take the risk of picking a proxy war with Israel in order to assure regime survival.

The last advantage is the most curious one because it is possible that the demographic reproduction rates are not quite what we think and that palestinians have been lying about their numbers to make everyone think they are more numerous than they are and reproducing faster than reality (http://pademographics.com/). This study is recent but not so recent that it could not have been incorporated into the paper.

Will things change strategically? I don't know. I think that they will. But it is possible they will not. Israel can win from its present position. It just has to think strategically and not accept that it is predestined to lose.
First, there are possible outcomes aside from the two you list. As for 100 years, nobody has any clue what the U.S. will look like no less the ME; think of the U.S. 100 years ago...the automobile was just coming on the scene, virtually everyone was a farmer, and by today's standards, racism was rampant. For the more immediate future much could change in the I-P conflict for the better or for the worse. Secondly, have you thought about what happens if you are correct; i.e. Israel slowly disintegrates? At it's heart, Israel is not only a democracy but a Jewish state. There are a significant number of very determined Jews who will defend their country at any cost, including the use of nuclear weapons; no not in the Gaza strip, but perhaps on whomever is funding the Palestinians at the time. My point is that it is highly unlikely that Israel will just slowly, quietly disappear.

Re: palestinian #s and fertility rates

I am aware of the debate, and the study you reference, which is why I explicitly said:
"Neither certain nor precise forecasts are possible due to lack of reliable data on Palestinian population, emigration rates, and fertility rates."

That the Palestinians have a higher fertility rate than the Jewish people of Israel is almost certain, which was my point.

Fertility rates of a culture are highly predictable, varying with income and literacy rates. Both factors suggest a higher rate for the Palestinians.
FM: Perhaps I am being a bit too literal -- it's a failing of armchair philosophers. However, I think you aren't being literal enough.

Point-blank: "eradicate Israel" is an objective. It's not a strategy. There are a variety of strategies that could be undertaken to meet the objective of eradicating Israel, but the distinction between strategy and objective holds. Do you seriously dispute this?

Just because, say, the Palestinians have a primal objective that consumes their society does not mean that they have a realistic plan to achieve that objective. Comparing Western grand strategy to primal objectives is an apples-to-oranges comparison. If you want a fair comparison, compare Western grand strategy to the Palestinians' strategies to eradicate Israel. Alternatively, compare Western objectives with the Palestinians' objectives. In most cases Western leaders talk about their objectives in war at least in part using gut-level, "primal" terms.

WRT primal objectives trumping developed-nation objectives: I was responding more to your "Myth of Grand Strategy" essay there. In that essay you state:

"[Developed nations] can only envy these 'primal strategies.' The people of a developed western state seldom have a widely agreed goal and the willingness to sacrifice for its achievement. History shows that a mature state often tries to imitate a 'primal strategy,' a vain attempt to recapture a lost element from its past."

Perhaps you can forgive me for reading this as a general statement that primal strategies often trump developed-state grand strategies. (True, you didn't say "always", which is technically what I attributed to you. That attribution was a mistake; I should have been more careful.)

For what it's worth, given that worldcentric grand strategies require much deeper levels of thought than "death to anyone not in our ethnic group" -- yeah, I'm happy to call grand strategies a heckuva lot more sophisticated than primal ones.

Of course primal strategies and grand strategies come from peoples in different stages of life and development. That's so obvious I didn't feel a need to state it earlier. But that doesn't mean that one isn't more sophisticated than the other.
A few major assumptions -- or, call them principles which may in fact be false -- undermine the two essays. Look for the absolutist ejaculations which are intended to undergird the arguments but which are not very much explained themselves.

Some points in the essay are good, however, and probably deserve deeper thought. I.e., the aforementioned ejaculations were premature, and we ought to look for the real fathers. (I have a blog post brewing right now, as yet being filtered...)

For now, the primal v grand distinction is curious. What seems to be behind both -- perhaps the father of both -- is the question of structural integrity rather than age, per se, or complexity per se; and there is the assumption in the essays that societies always tend toward entropy. (If we assume they will always tend toward entropy after a certain point, then structural integrity can only occur at or near the outset.) The reason so-called "primal" strategies may work against "grand" expansionist/aggressive strategies, one supposes, is simply that they have more internal integrity and thus present fewer gaps or weak spots for the entropic opponents while utilizing a single sharp-edged aggression against which those so-called entropic "grand strategy" opponents cannot defend. The question almost becomes a question of superiority between simple systems and complex systems, with the assumption that simple systems have an edge. The problem with such a theory will become apparent if we consider issues of adaptability -- or resilience and consilience for simple systems and complex systems; but I'm also thinking of the old Taoist saying:

Unbending rigor is the mate of death,
And wielding softness, company of life:
Unbending soldiers get no victories;
The stiffest tree is readiest for the axe.
The strong and mighty topple from their place;
The soft and yielding rise above them all.

Heh. Actually, complex systems have integrity or they could not be called "systems," and the so-called primal-strategy societies -- who have, um, "primal coherence" -- can easily be shattered. Take a closed, rigid or well-defined system and add a spark or some new datum (or whatever), and it will go through a period of chaos before it stabilizes again; but take a complex society and do the same: it will not be as upset by new information/stimuli as the simple-integrity system, or if it is as upset, it has a better chance of quick adaptation. (This goes back to Mark's point about the heterogeneity of radical movements, incidentally: are they cohering for primal reasons, or is the coherence itself only incidental, a fabrication with more artificiality than the word "primal" would imply?)

Thomas Barnett's theory attempts to define a workable complex integrity -- although, as outlined at the first link above, I think he falls short by not considering the internal gaps of Core states (and somewhat failing to consider fully the internal gaps within Gap states.) I think FM is somewhat correct to suggest that a complex society which attempts to act in a simplistic manner by forming a "Grand Strategy" is disregarding all the powers at its disposal: perhaps such a society should have Grand Strategies (in the plural). (And, incidentally, I suspect that the formation of these Grand Strategies should be somewhat decentralized although perhaps a Grand Objective should be held by all and some regulatory mechanism should review the implementation of the Grand Strategies to ensure the focus on that Grand Objective...)

Anyhoo. I've carried this comment further than I wanted. As a last note: I think that Israel's weakness is in its rigidity, or lack of flexibility. This may be related to what I've just outlined, the difference between having a grand strategy and having several; but it's also somewhat related to the absence of a single Grand Objective.
"Tribes, 4gW networks, Corrupt elites." Mark

Wow, you summed it up nicely. It is first the tribes who Observe the situation that can potentially cause war with the state. It is the 4GW Networks (enemies of our nation) who can give Orientation to tribes, move them into position, in which they can easily flow towards the potential solutions. It is the elites or leaders who are making corrupt decision that can cause the tribes to Act.
Pure 4GW source code, OODA movement, Potential to Kinetic energy.

So if we wanted to create a flow which didn't lead to Act we could try many solutions.

We could limit what the tribe "see", or the implicit and explicit images.

We could strengthen the orientation of the tribe (make them more to the right or left) so that they don't get moved in the position which can easily flow in the direction of war with the state.

we could stop listening to the neo-cons and neo-liberals, who are the elite. They don't seem to be a part of the tribe any way, oh ya elite.

I suppose it is also time to stop electing politicians who are willing to let our country be run by corporations, which cause corruption to the welfare of the tribe.

Unless you are not a member of this tribe, then never mind.
fabius maximus - One of the contentions of the study in question is that there is a net outflow of the PA population. Depending on how negative that goes, the population could be shrinking and the propagandists/kleptocrats of Fatah are simply covering it up.

curtis gale weeks - Here's a new data point for you. One of the pillars of Islam, that the Koran has not been altered at all (aside from the addition of pronunciation marks) since its inception has been proven false. The belief in the unaltered nature of the Koran, that it is not a historical document is so central that there are an awful lot of muslims who would leave the faith if they knew what had been found by the archaeologists.

Please find a fresh proxy list i found on my member area :

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