Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Watch them build up a material tower

Think it’s not gonna stay anyway
Think it’s overrated

Lyrics are a stretch, but this song has been stuck in my head for a few days now.

And this'll be brief, because I'm trying not to be too snarky and besides, I have a final in less than 24 hours (and new stuff on Registan! Don't forget!) But still... In this corner (brought to you by Td'H) is William F. Owen:
The acts of Sept. 11 changed nothing in the Thucydidean and Clausewitzian nature of war, or even its modern practice.
Historically, armies have always gathered information about the ethnicity, tribal makeup and opinions of civilian populations. The argument that this was done in a “colonial” context is correct, but this is no different from doing the same thing in a “nation-building” context.
War is not changing. The aims and purpose of organized violence for political gain are enduring and unchanging. Insurgencies are war, and most if not all of the observations made in the Army’s new FM 3-24 “Counterinsurgency” manual could have been written in 1991 or earlier.
[note: I left out his gratuitous "hermaphrodite" comment, and the less said about counterinsurgency being the same pre-1991, the better]

And in the other corner (courtesy of Danger much as I want to mock them, I can't) is the Washington Post:
As the Pentagon contracts out activities that previously were carried out by troops in wartime, it has been forced to struggle with new management challenges. "Prior to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, contracting was done on an ad-hoc basis and was not adequately incorporated into the doctrine -- or culture -- of the military," according to the CRS report. Today, according to Defense Department officials, "doctrine and strategy are being updated to incorporate the role of contractors in contingency operations."
[headline is that 56k contractors are joining the 30k troops in the new surge]

War is changing. States don't have monopolies on violence. Killing isn't as straightforward as it used to be. I'm willing to argue this, sure. Just not with dullards.

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