If there is one point on which all of America's
leaders, civilian and military, seem to agree, it is that the United States
must remain on the offensive in the misnamed "War on Terrorism." The
offensive is the only form of war that offers hope for a decisive victory.
Clausewitz would disagree. In his On
War, Clausewitz writes, "defense is simply the stronger form of
war, the one that makes the enemy's defeat more certain …. We maintain unequivocally
that the form of war that we call defense not only offers greater probability
of victory than attack, but its victories can attain the same proportions and
If the U.S. were to take Clausewitz's advice, what might a defensive grand
strategy look like? I answer that question in detail in the Nov. 22 issue of
Pat Buchanan's magazine, The American
Conservative. Here, I can only summarize. But the key to the answer
is Colonel John Boyd's definition of grand strategy. Grand strategy, Boyd said,
is the art of connecting yourself to as many other independent power centers
as possible, while isolating your enemy from as many independent power centers
What does that definition mean for America in a 21st century that
will be dominated by Fourth Generation, non-state war? As I write in TAC,
"it means America's grand strategy should seek to connect our country with
as many centers of order as possible while isolating us from as many centers
and sources of disorder as possible." That, in turn, leads toward a defensive,
not offensive, military strategy.
In the main, connecting ourselves to other centers of order will mean maintaining
friendly relations with other states, wherever the state endures. Surviving
states (their number will decline as the century extends) will be centers of
relative order. So may other cultures that tend toward order; here, Chinese
culture comes first to mind. China, if it can hold together internally, may
be the single greatest center of order in the 21st century.
For the Establishment, the hard part will be accepting the need to isolate
ourselves from centers and sources of disorder. Centers of disorder will be
the growing number of failed states. Sources of disorder will certainly include
Islam, thanks to the concept of jihad, even if some Islamic societies are ordered
internally. Isolation, I write in TAC, "will mean minimizing contacts
that involve flows of people, money, materials, and new primary loyalties, such
as religious ideologies, into the United States." First and foremost, that
requires ending the current de facto policy of open immigration. In a
Fourth Generation world, open immigration is akin to leaving the castle gate
open at night when the Huns are in the neighborhood.
How does a grand strategy based on Boyd's concepts of connection and isolation
lead to a defensive military strategy? As we have seen in Iraq, if we attack
another state, the most likely result will be the destruction of that state
and its replacement by a region of stateless disorder. This works for, not against,
our Fourth Generation opponents. If an American offensive punches into a stateless
region, it works directly contrary to our goal of isolation from disorder. There
is no better way to enmesh yourself in disorder than to invade it (the French
are now learning that unpleasant lesson, again, in Ivory Coast). A defensive
strategy, in contrast, leaves regions of disorder to stew in their own juices.
In some cases, it may achieve another of Colonel Boyd's favorite aims, folding
the enemy back on himself so that he expends his energies inward, not outward
As Clausewitz also argues, a defensive strategy must include a powerful counter-offensive.
When Fourth Generation opponents attack us at home, as on 9/11, our response
should be Roman, which is to say annihilating. But the defensive sends a strong
message on the moral level of war: if you leave us alone, we will leave you
alone. Fourth Generation enemies may find it difficult to motivate their people
to attack us if we keep our side of that bargain.
In contrast, so long as we continue on the military and grand strategic offensive,
we will be making Germany's blunder in both World Wars. We will appear so threatening
to everyone else, states and non-state elements alike, that every victory we
win will generate more enemies until, fighting a hydra, we go down in defeat.
Washington needs a Bismarck, but in the camp of the neocons, all it can find
are many Holsteins.