Unready for 4GW

No one serious believed that Obama was even remotely capable of handling foreign policy, but most erroneously assumed that he was smart enough to hand off responsibility for it to foreign policy veterans. That has not turned out to be the case, as Jerry Pournelle notes Peggy Noonan’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal:

No one thinks this administration is the A Team when it comes to foreign affairs, but this is unprecedented push-back from top military and intelligence players. They are fed up, they’re less afraid, they’re retired, and they’re speaking out. We are going to be seeing more of this kind of criticism, not less.

On Thursday came the testimony of three former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger (1973-77), George Shultz (1982-89) and Madeleine Albrigh t (1997-2001). Senators asked them to think aloud about what America’s national-security strategy should be, what approaches are appropriate to the moment. It was good to hear serious, not-green, not-merely-political people give a sense of the big picture. Their comments formed a kind of bookend to the generals’ criticisms.

They seemed to be in agreement on these points:

  • We are living through a moment of monumental world change.
  • Old orders are collapsing while any new stability has yet to emerge.
  • When you’re in uncharted waters your boat must be strong.
  • If America attempts to disengage from this dangerous world it will only make all the turmoil worse.

Mr. Kissinger observed that in the Mideast, multiple upheavals are unfolding simultaneously—within states, between states, between ethnic and religious groups. Conflicts often merge and produce such a phenomenon as the Islamic State, which in the name of the caliphate is creating a power base to undo all existing patterns.

Mr. Shultz said we are seeing an attack on the state system and the rise of a “different view of how the world should work.” What’s concerning is “the scope of it.”

Correct diagnosis, wrong prescription. Observe that these foreign policy experts are more than a decade behind William Lind, who described these extra-state upheavals in both ON WAR and FOUR GENERATIONS OF MODERN WAR.

And Lind is also correct to assert that America MUST disengage from “this dangerous world”, as the very danger is primarily the result of disastrous Anglo-American meddling in the Middle East. Islam is what it is, but it would not not be resurgent and aggressively expansionary if the British, followed by the Americans, had not made it possible through their insanely inept Middle East policies.

The West needs to adopt a siege mentality, expel the non-Westerners, and let the fire burn itself out. Continued engagement only guarantees that it will be necessary to fight an indefinite number of fires within the West itself.