US needs Sun Tzu strat­egy to deal with IS

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

The great Chi­nese mas­ter strate­gist Sun Tzu needs to be the United States’ guide in deal­ing — or not deal­ing, when it is ap­pro­pri­ate — with the Is­lamic State group, al-Qaida and other ji­hadi move­ments around the Mid­dle East, not Ger­man strate­gist Carl von Clause­witz, the ad­vo­cate of a di­rect knock-out ap­proach to war.

Bri­tish his­to­rian An­drew Roberts’ mag­nif­i­cent work on Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt, US Gen­eral Ge­orgeMar­shall, Bri­tish PrimeMin­is­ter Win­ston Churchill and Bri­tish Gen­eral Sir Alan Brooke dur­ingWorldWar II, Masters and Com­man­ders, is ex­tremely rel­e­vant here. Mar­shall and the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary, who had read Clause­witz, were clearly pro­po­nents of his straight­for­ward “hit them on the head” style. But the Bri­tish were Sun Tzu type stay-onthe pe­riph­ery strate­gists. In­deed, un­til the great Field­Mar­shal BernardMont­gomery came along in the fall of 1942 and gave them, in­te­grated ar­tillery and air power punch, the Bri­tish Army only punched like a but­ter­fly.

As Roberts makes clear, the US straight­for­ward hit them with over­whelm­ing power in the cen­tral axis of ad­vance was ex­actly the right thing to do from 1944 on­wards, when, as Churchill him­self ac­knowl­edged, the Soviet Red Army had al­ready knocked the stuffing out of theWehrma­cht. In 1942 and 1943, the US and Bri­tain sim­ply did not have re­motely enough men and ma­te­ri­als, and no com­mand of the air, to in­vade France.

The true believ­ers in a 1943 land­ing — Mar­shal, in­flu­en­tial US staff war plan­ner then-Lieu­tenant Colonel (later four star Gen­eral) Al­bertWede­meyer and oth­ers, (Gen­eral Dwight D, Eisen­hower was orig­i­nally in agree­ment with them, but he learned from ex­pe­ri­ence to change his orig­i­nal opin­ion) — would have presided over a catas­tro­phe.

Why dwell on this in deal­ing with IS group?

Be­cause deal­ing with the IS group re­quires Amer­i­cans to think like Sun Tzu, not like Clause­witz: To fo­cus on the broader, non-mil­i­tary as­pects of war and the strate­gic frame­work far more than the tac­ti­cal nuts and bolts that Amer­i­cans have al­ways been so good at. The US also has to aban­don for­mer Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen­eral Colin Pow­ell’s fa­mous slo­gan, “We broke it, so we must fix it.”

That can ap­ply in some cases but not all.

And it is clear, the more we try to fix our messes in theMid­dle East, the more we make them worse. Wher­ever we de­stroy ex­ist­ing state struc­tures in theMid­dle East in the name of “sup­port­ing; hu­man rights and democ­racy”, we sim­ply open the way for ex­trem­ists to take over. This has hap­pened in Gaza, Egypt, Libya, Ye­men and Syria. Wher­ever we forced pre­vi­ously ef­fec­tive Arab gov­ern­ments to “de­moc­ra­tize”, Amer­i­can-style, it was never secular mod­er­ate, mid­dle-class democrats who took over. It’s been IS, al-Qaida, or theMus­lim Brotherhood ev­ery time.

The US doesn’t need an­other cy­cle of hy­per-ac­tiv­ity and di­rect mil­i­tary ac­tion in theMid­dle East (the punch-‘em-on-the-nose Clause­witzian so­lu­tion). It needs to learn from Sun Tzu and the leg­endary hero of the Ro­man Repub­lic FabiusMax­imus Cunc­ta­tor (Fabius the De­layer). It needs to end the wit­less pol­icy Ge­orgeW. Bush, Don­ald Rums­feld, Dick Cheney and their neo­con­ser­va­tives in­jected into the re­gion. The au­thor is chief global an­a­lyst for the Globalist and a se­nior fel­low of the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity in Moscow.

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