Why Russia and China are winning.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that a hegemonic United States global empire is a good thing. Now it’s not really for many reasons, lots of them economic but some military. Anyone else notice we are 1 for whatever since Vietnam? Yup, unless you count Grenada and Panama (two mighty and scary foes) only H.W.’s war for Kuwait resulted in victory and let’s face it, Korea was pretty much a draw.

Oh sure, we’re good at shelling Hospitals and droning suspicious civilians who happen to be brown (surely a co-incidence) but we can’t seem to win the big ones. Why that?

Bombing, Air Power, and “Winning” in Syria
by Ian Welsh
2015 November 17

Right now, the French are bombing abandoned buildings in Raqqa (doing nothing of significance). If they actually tried to bomb ISIS they would kill civilians, a non-productive response to ISIS killing French civilians.

So, air power must be used in support of ground troops. The other consideration, if you want to defeat ISIS, is that you have to support its enemies. This means supporting the Syrian army, Hezbollah, the Kurds, Iran, and Iraqi troops.

Notice that this is essentially the strategy Russia is pursuing.

You also can’t play both, or all sides. Being against Assad and against ISIS, and allied with Turkey, who hates the Kurds and bombs them (when the Kurds are some of the most effective people fighting ISIS) is crazy.

Make an alliance and stick with it.

The West is caught between multiple allies with different interests. The Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel all want Assad gone, for different reasons.

But Assad wasn’t executing terrorist attacks in France, was he? Nor was he bombing those nations who have supported ISIS and various al-Qaeda affiliates, the people who are sponsoring attacks in the West.

Strategic confusion is the core problem. The West wants to eat its cake and have it too. The people who are fighting ISIS are people the West mostly doesn’t want to support, the people supplying ISIS are mostly people the West regards as allies.

The West is confused. Does it want ISIS (and al-Qaeda) defeated more than it wants to be rid of Assad or not?

This is a choice which must be made. The West can’t have both.

Here’s a thought- could it be that these people live there and are not interested in having an occupying Army dictate to them?

Science of Guerrilla Warfare
T.E. Lawrence, Encyclopaedia Britannica

The text books gave the aim in war as “the destruction of the organized forces of the enemy” by “the one process battle.” Victory could only be purchased by blood. This was a hard saying, as the Arabs had no organized forces, and so a Turkish Foch would have no aim: and the Arabs would not endure casualties, so that an Arab Clausewitz could not buy his victory. These wise men must be talking metaphors, for the Arabs were indubitably winning their war . . . and further reflection pointed to the deduction that they had actually won it.

In the Arab case the algebraic factor would take first account of the area to be conquered. A casual calculation indicated perhaps 140,000 square miles. How would the Turks defend all that—no doubt by a trench line across the bottom, if the Arabs were an army attacking with banners displayed . . . but suppose they were an influence, a thing invulnerable, intangible, without front or back, drifting about like a gas? Armies were like plants, immobile as a whole, firm-rooted, and nourished through long stems to the head. The Arabs might be a vapour, blowing where they listed. It seemed that a regular soldier might be helpless without a target. He would own the ground he sat on, and what he could poke his rifle at. The next step was to estimate how many posts they would need to contain this attack in depth, sedition putting up her head in every unoccupied one of these 100,000 square miles. They would have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and a post could not be less than 20 men. The Turks would need 600,000 men to meet the combined ill wills of all the local Arab people. They had 100,000 men available.

Guerrillas must be allowed liberal work-room. In irregular war if two men are together one is being wasted. The moral strain of isolated action makes this simple form of war very hard on the individual soldier, and exacts from him special initiative, endurance and enthusiasm. Here the ideal was to make action a series of single combats to make the ranks a happy alliance of commanders-in-chief. The value of the Arab army depended entirely on quality, not on quantity. The members had to keep always cool, for the excitement of a blood-lust would impair their science, and their victory depended on a just use of speed, concealment, accuracy of fire. Guerrilla war is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge.