Magazine article The American Conservative

Memo to the Chairman: If the Joint Chiefs Are Sick of Losing, Try a Defensive Grand Strategy

Magazine article The American Conservative

Memo to the Chairman: If the Joint Chiefs Are Sick of Losing, Try a Defensive Grand Strategy

Article excerpt

To: General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

From: W.S. Lind

Re: A New Grand Strategy

As you probably realize, when you accepted the position of Chairman of the JCS, a great honor no doubt, you received with it a poisoned chalice. The poison is the offensive grand strategy the United States has followed since the end of the Cold War. We seek world hegemony, which we are to use to force every other nation and people on the earth to model themselves on us.

The chalice knows this poison well. If you look closely, you will see it is covered in fingerprints, Spanish, French, German, and Russian among them. All drank the same potion and died. As Russell Kirk wrote, there is no surer way to make a man your enemy than to tell him you are going to remake him in your image for his own good.

When you couple an offensive grand strategy with a military that does not know how to fight and win contemporary wars, the disaster unfolds all the more quickly. Ours is now 0-4 against Fourth Generation, nonstate opponents. You probably don't want to make it 0-5.

The good news is you are well positioned to do something about all this. Fixing our military will take more than the four years of your tenure, though you can make a start. But you can give this country a new grand strategy, one that is based in reality, does not unite everyone else against us, and has at least a chance of success.

Our new grand strategy should proceed from the most important, most powerful development now reshaping world affairs, the decline of the state. The state is losing both the monopoly on war it established with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and its claim to its population's primary loyalty. All over the world, people are transferring their loyalty away from the state to religions, races and ethnic groups, ideologies, "causes" such as environmentalism and animal rights, gangs, and so on. These were most people's primary loyalties before the rise of the state, and a growing number of young men are eager to fight for them once again.

The decline of the state makes war between states obsolete. The most likely outcome is the disintegration of the losing state into stateless disorder, providing a new Petri dish for Fourth Generation elements and leaving the "winning" state in a worse situation than it faced before the war. …

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