2007/11/18

Warmongers

Invading another country for no good reason is widely recognized as being a bad, bad thing. Those responsible for it are usually considered as really bad persons - just think about what we thought about Saddam Hussein once he had invaded Kuwait.

It's interesting to recall why it's like that. Wars imply waste of resources, death and suffering. It also leads quite often to unfair peace treaties and of course there's general assumption that the aggressor is superior to the victim. Nobody likes to become a victim of a stronger power, so we generally tend to dislike the aggressor for this reason as well.

Many of these war disadvantages also apply to wars that were started with good intentions and it's obvious that also the wars begun by Western powers in the past couple of years caused a lot of death and suffering - and often rather unfortunate and unfair conditions after the hostilities.

It's about time to no longer limit the contempt for warmongers to dictators who want to annex other countries. Our very own warmongers deserve the same treatment. The very minimum is to deny them every influence on our policy, direct and indirect. It's time to counter their warmongering which is usually preceded by scaremongering to scare us into stupid wars.
let's stop them ASAP, their scaremongering only works because there's no decent lobby that counter them.

Scaremongers usually invent a lie and repeat it a couple thousand times till many people believe them without ever having seen an evidence. Some even belief strongly that evidence exist, although there is none. The scaremongering also works because of networking and because of the inclination of mass media corporations to pick up such sensational stories that address very basic instincts like fear.

Once enough people are scared it becomes simple for warmongers to execute the most irrational and stupid policies that let us run into costly nonsense adventures that kill and maim our troops as well as innocent enemy troops and civilians. Wars benefit only some war-related corporation CEOs, employees and shareholders. Wars and stupid interventions/military adventures cost us a huge share of our economic output - resources that we should better use for rational preparations for the future like education, preventive health care, improved relations to other countries, alternative energy and raw material supply and efficiency improvements.

Scaremongers are enemies of democracy and therefore enemies of freedom. They manipulate the people to enable policies which are hurting these people instead of helping them. They are traitors and deserve to be treated as such.

Warmongers are enemies of their people. They deserve the most severe punishments that our civilization is willing to use for the most severe crimes.

Warmongers are worse than serial killers by several orders of magnitude.
You know who's a warmonger in your country. Think about these persons again.

And especially don't be scared by scaremongers about Iran, or even agree to a war of aggression incited by warmongers against Iran. It's their newest pet project.


Sven Ortmann

2007/11/11

Societies' ingrained commemoration of war

Different societies have different histories, and different lessons learned from history.
Germany is a very special case of this, as its present state and society were created to prevent a repetition of past mistakes, especially war of aggression and fascism.

Europe has been ravaged by war for millennia, and especially the war-torn countries of continental Europe have learned many lessons about the terrible effects of war.
Germany, for example, has been depopulated by the thirty years war in the 17th century and had its cities destroyed by World War II.
Germany became a major power quite late due to late unification and difficult geo-strategic position in the center of Europe. The following attempts to gain advantages concerning territory and natural resources by war were complete failures and ended as defeats in two devastating world wars. The attempts to gain prosperity by own economic activity before and after the two world wars (1871-1914, 1949-today) were great successes. Germany had learned the lesson that you don't need much territory and you don't need to have rich natural resources to be successful and influential.
High efficiency agriculture can substitute for territory and trading is a much more efficient means to raw material supply security than wars are.

But this seems to be less the case for the late colonial powers UK and France and for those states who never really tried the wrong recipes themselves like Poland, for example.
The USA had only one devastating war at home, and only in a small part of itself. The expenses and losses of the World Wars were either small (World War I) or remembered as heroic history of a "Golden Generation" (World War II).
It has - and this is not easily understandable - a quite aggressive stance to raw material security, using a military power to exert influence and even to wage war for raw materials in the Middle East.

This and the fading memories of the past create a - let's call it "Zeitgeist" in Europe - it misguides people.
The old lessons learned are pushed aside by the promises of smaller military actions than conventional war to give economic advantages, comfort and prestige at low costs.

Well, the costs are not low. Even if you invade a country with less than 100 KIA (killed in action) soldiers, you still end up paying billions of US-$ or € for the adventure.
A comparison of the economic advantages and disadvantages of the U.S. adventures in the Middle East would be devastating.
It would have been cheaper to get away from the oil addiction, probably even without the costs of the extremely expensive Iraq occupation.

Others are much smarter than Europeans and Americans.
The Chinese buy plantations in the Third World to secure their renewable resources supply. They become friends of dictatorships world wide with a strict business-only approach to investments and contracts for mineral an hydrocarbon resources.
The Chinese secure their raw material supply by being smart and applying the lessons learned with European blood instead of alienating resources-rich countries and wasting their own nations' energies and financial power in military expeditions.

Our approach to address our future global needs is wrong.

We should strengthen our relationships with weak nations instead of playing Great Power games and wasting our attention and resources on military adventures.

S O

2007/11/05

Tactical visibility

Discussions in the past years on military technology were often about new sensor technologies to find and identify enemies and about new communications technologies to relay this information to someone who can engage the target effectively.

Well, this is an utterly offensive approach that has its merits, but also its limits. The best-case scenarios never worked out in practice - not the least because the enemy adapts, as always.

This fits into the general trend in warfare since the mid-19th century's Minie rifle:
The enemy will likely kill you if he can see you.

Firepower in terms of accuracy, range and also rate of fire has been improved steadily since smooth bore weapons became outdated in the 19th century.
Dispersion and camouflage and since World War 1 (again) armour were successful means to negate much of the enemy's firepower.
The lack of troop numbers would force us to embrace the concept of dispersion in today's conflicts even if there was no the firepower argument, and armour has spread even to personal bullet-resistant armour for non-infantry soldiers.
But dispersion only reduces excessive casualties and has severe drawbacks such like locally reduced capabilities.
Armour has its drawbacks as well, like heavy weight and movement restrictions. Neither tanks nor soldiers can be fully armoured to withstand all typical attacks. Tanks have their weak spots, and body armour protects only the torso (partially) against rifle fire and the head against fragments. Wounds in the extremities reduce the fighting power of the infantry a lot and being hit at an unprotected spot is quite likely.

But let's have a look at the third element - camouflage. Its purpose is to enable troops and equipment to not recognized by the enemy. It's a primarily non-technological means to survive firepower and therefore not in the spotlight, just like dispersion.
The ability to fight without being seen is a distinct strength of indirect fires as indirect fire support troops attempt to stay out of line-of-sight, but also infantry can use the principle to its benefit (and does to some extent).
Not being seen is more than just camouflage. It's about deception, careful movement, manipulation of night sight, obstruction, ability to sense while being unseen - and it's a mindset.
A mindset that tells all infantrymen and even more so scouts that they need to remain unseen as much as possible.
Imagine how this vital mindset is ruined by vehicle patrol, diplomatic, symbolic, construction, checkpoint, garrison and escort duties during counter-insurgency and peace-keeping missions. A generation of NATO soldiers becomes accustomed to the idea that the enemy sees you all the time while they themselves can see but not identify him. This creates a completely different mindset than the one necessary for inter-state wars (those wars which are sometimes really about defending ourselves). The result is an over-emphasis on armour (keyword: MRAP) that leads to excessive costs and logistical problems as well as tactical and movement restrictions.

In a discussion some time ago I was amazed how someone considered supporting fires as the only viable solution to the tactical problem of an infantry or recon squad being pinned down by the fire of a single MG.
This scenario reminded me immediately of a device of World War I, a device that allowed a sniper to aim and shoot with his rifle without exposing himself. Stuff like this has been attempted with modern camera and monitor technology, but in fact it doesn't require much more than a simple mirror and mechanics system. It would enable a squad marksman to shoot effectively while being pinned down. Add some obstruction by smoke and you can defeat a 1,000 US-$ MG without the need to call a 50 million US-$ fighter-bomber or (admittedly much cheaper) tank/artillery/mortar fire for help.

Staying pinned down and wait for superior firepower to arrive is sometimes the best choice when you're fighting low quality enemies like Central Asian irregulars, as it promises a happy ending without casualties. But it's no useful mindset for a large-scale war against medium or high quality enemies (which would outflank you or use indirect fire weapons to counter the cover) and very different ratios between ground troops in combat, available fire support and available bandwidths (resulting in much less available supporting fires).

Well, the tricky thing about being unseen in combat is to see the enemy at the same time. That's tricky because the latter often requires a line of sight. Mirrors and camouflage help to combine these conditions, as do the much more expensive remote sensor and robotics systems.
A real infantry combat revolution comparable to the Minie bullet is about to happen with the wide-spread use of infra-red sights by infantrymen. An extreme infantry fighting power inequality will arise once at least all infantry leaders, scouts, machinegunners and designated marksmen are equipped with such sights. The army which can equip its troops like this can use obstruction by smoke to break the line of sight for the enemy while retaining its own ability to see the enemy as IR sights can see through some smokes.
It's still possible to camouflage against IR observation, but very difficult and sometimes even outright impractical.
This (expensive) technological advance could help us getting back to a "I see you, but you cannot see me" mindset.

It's really necessary to preserve mindsets suitable for large-scale wars, and to restore skills and mindsets lost in the recent needless overseas adventures to stay up to the task of protecting our sovereignty.

Sven Ortmann

2007/11/01

War within Europe

The exhausting effect of World War Two and the unifying effect of common enemies turned both Eastern and Western Europe into quite peaceful regions during the Cold War. Europe saw conflicts and even a civil war in this time, but no inter-state war.
People became used to living in peace with each other apparently, as we saw no inter-state wars in former Warsaw Pact or NATO countries since then as well. The Yugoslavian Wars of 1991-1999 were a very unpleasant variation of the norm, as well as tensions between Greece and Turkey.

So what might lead to intra-European wars in the future?

The old idea of conquest don't seem to be as strong as a few generations ago. Most people realize that land mass does not equal wealth or power, even own natural riches are dispensable. Germany, Italy and Japan began to flourish once they gave up expansionism.

Conflicts of religion are hardly imaginable. The Balkans had their semi-religious conflicts in the Yugoslavian War, and the borderline between Christian and Muslim regions is mostly on Europe's edges.
Minority insurgencies based on religion (like German Muslim Turks vs. German state and so on) are quite unlikely as the immigrants dominate no territories and it's excessively difficult to even launch an insurgency if your supporters are a minority everywhere. They cannot claim any territory for the same and historical reasons.

Wars over natural resources are unlikely as well. Europe has much less natural resources than it uses, which makes its own resources an asset of minor importance. Water is only short in South and Southwest Europe and even then it's much simpler to fix the water transport system than to wage war.

Wars over trade opportunities (like control over pipelines or harbors) offer little good reasons for war as well.

War over influence/power. That's the Russia card. A direct confrontation between nuclear powers about something secondary like prestige or influence seems not advisable. It might happen that the West-East conflict causes wars in or between smaller influenced nations in East Europe (Moldavia, possible Ukraine civil war) or Russia's southern periphery (Caucasus), though.
Another possibility is that the Western world divides into two alliances, with some European nations allying with non-European nations (like UK with USA and so on).

Finally there's war over ethnics.
It' likely good thing that Hungary is only a small power as Hungarian enclaves exist in many of its neighboring countries. The ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia has apparently been thorough and might prevent future wars. Conflicts may arise around the Albanians which live in Kosovo and Macedonia and not only in Albania itself.
One of the safest way to cause a war is to put several nationalities into one state, rule the state with marginal or no democracy and wait till it collapses.
This happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Soviet Union, Austria-Hungary and a couple of other states which had well-developed nationalities (instead of just tribes like African mixed states) on their territory.
Can anybody explain to me why so many politicians want to enlarge and empower the European Union while accepting that it offers less democracy (especially ridiculously indirect-indirect-indirect democracy that assures that the voters have no significant power anymore)?

The current development of the EU to a state with marginal democracy is laying the foundations for an intra-European war of secession by 2030-2060. The potential of this is in my opinion greater than that of many other imaginable intra-European conflicts.

Sven Ortmann