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Asymmetric Warfare When Playing Chicken

While detesting the neo-con/Israel-first/Republican/Rapture Christian doctrine of permanent war, I still have an interest in being an 'armchair general' or military strategist. Yes, it is inconsistent, but if consistency is your hobgoblin, you are at the wrong blog.

The world seems to be beating Washington's pants off lately, with a Russian/Syrian/Iraqi/Iranian axis building up in the Mideast, and China becoming more assertive about its reclaimed islands in the South China Sea. One way to see these developments is as a growth in a new type of asymmetric warfare, aimed straight at the least trusted government on planet Earth.

Do any readers know of any good articles or books about asymmetric warfare? The Wikipedia article is a good place to start. They give several famous examples in history.

What if the world is learning to exploit the fragility and hollowness of the American economy to play 'chicken' with Washington, and to win? Washington's rivals around the world have more weapons than they used to have. They now have Permanent Zero Interest to exploit. If instability starts the American consumer tipping into a recession, the Federal Reserve can't lower interest rates like they used to -- the rate is already zero.

The presidential election cycle is another weapon for America's rivals. Anything that freezes consumer spending tends to tip the country over into a recession, which means that the party that occupies the White House will probably lose it to the other side. 

Losing an election is not something that you can be a 'good sport' about, anymore. Washington's laws, regulations, subsidies, taxes, loopholes, contracts, court nominations, and economic favors are simply too important to surrender to the other political party. The truly private economy rots into insignificance. 'What's good for Washington is good for America.'

Permanent bubble-blowing is an integral part of America's economy, as is high unemployment -- properly measured -- and even higher under-employment. That means ever-increasing vulnerability because everybody besides Federal employees is hanging onto their job (and their ability to make loan payments) by their fingernails.

An oil exporter such as Russia should win a game of chicken with an oil-importing country like Washington. During threats of war in the Mideast, the price of oil will go up, to Russia's advantage.

But it seems that Washington's rivals are just learning how to exploit these vulnerabilities. In general, this is a development that much of the world can be cautiously optimistic about. 

But I have a lot to learn about this subject, and won't be offended if commenters point that out to me.


Ed said…
I never heard of asymmetric warfare before.

After reading the Wikipedia article I see that we got out ass kicked in the Vietnam Asymmetric War. That taught the war hawks of this country a lesson and they changed their strategy to to fighting proxy asymmetric wars. Unfortunately, the United States does not know how to do that very well and most of the proxies have turned against their 'masters' i.e. the Taliban and Islamic State being the two most glaring examples.

For historical examples maybe the many wars of independence against Colonial Great Britain, France, Spain and the Dutch? I think all of those probably would be classed as asymmetric warfare i.e. South Africa and Northern Ireland.
In the case of what is happening right now, I was speculating on the game of 'chicken' being asymmetric.
John V said…
As long as there has been a superior force battling a weaker force there has been asymmetric war. I don't know if it's your political leanings or an oversight, but to label America's "doctrine of permanent war" a distinctly conservative Republican problem is missing 50% of the equation. The other 50% is the Democrat party side. America's most significant wars have been entered into and fought under Democrat administrations. Even under our current relatively non-interventionist administration, we are strating to ramp up our troop presence in the Middle East once more and drone strikes are the norm. I would even say that a candidate like Hillary Clinton is far more hawkish than Trump or Carson and even some of the other Repblican "candidates". Anerica's doctrine of permanent war is and always has been a bipartisan effort. Maybe not always in rhetoric, but definitely in actions.
I did not say that Permanent War was distinctly Republican, but the party is more obsessed with war and militarism than the Democratic party.
Anonymous said…
"When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?" Pete Seeger must be churning in his grave.

Not familiar with Pete Seeger.
Anonymous said…
Pete Seeger, who died at age 94 in 2014, was a antiwar activist folk musician most famous for “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”, “Goodnight Irene”, “Wimoweh" and ”If I Had a Hammer". He is one of my heroes. Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, PBS Video is a wonderful rendering of his life. He was brave enough to stand up to government overreach.

John V said…
The actions of our country with regard to continuous war has been the same under both Democrats and Republicans. To say one party is more inclined or has a "doctrine" to war than the other is partisan rhetoric or successful party marketing that isn't based on fact or history. When it comes to killing, talk is cheap, actions are all that matter. But everyone desperately wants to believe their tribe is better than the other guy's tribe. That doctrine you mention in your first sentence applies to both tribes' actions.
Back then, an anti-war activist was anti-war regardless of which party had the White House. Was that also true for Pete Seeger?

I wish they were still fair about it, today.
Anonymous said…

Anonymous said…
You need to understand that the US has always had historical national interests and has had the Armed Forces to enforce those interests since it's founding. The Marine anthem celebrates several of our first post Revolutionary War actions. We have always had wars with the "Native American" populations, "Manifest Destiny" conquests, and so on.

We are a warlike people and always have been. Since much of our imported population were "trouble makers", criminals, revolutionaries ejected from their homelands, etc., why would you expect anything less ? Don't confuse these activities with the results of the more recent wars resulting from crony capitalism in which the Armed Forces are used to benefit a narrow group of oligarchs and their companies.

Generally, political wars are micromanaged from the Whitehouse versus wars in the National Interest that are brutal, short, and run by the military. The first versus the second Iraq wars are a reasonable example of the differences between the two. The US has never fought a war for Israel - instead it has forced the premature end of pretty much every Arab-Israeli war, usually much to the detriment of Israel. Get your facts right because your bias is way wrong in that regard.
This is a short post. It doesn't try to take on the entire history of Washington's foreign policy crimes.

The post is speculating about whether playing chicken with Washington at the right time will become a new form of asymmetric warfare. Maybe Washington will lose.
Anonymous said…
The USA has lost quite a few wars - more than you would think when you compare the object of the action versus the reality. You seem to think wars are crimes; they are simply diplomacy by other means. Morality does not enter into it, although starry eyed idealists always seem to think it does.

All government is criminal if you think that way - period - since government always equals coercion. It's like the morality of vegetarians, PETA, Greenies, and other SJW whackos who refuse to recognize reality. Evolution is not about morality; it is about survival of genetic lineages. Likewise, countries are about survival of cultures.