Mike Gallagher

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Book Review Roundtable: The Future of War

Book Review Roundtable: The Future of War

Sir Lawrence Freedman's latest book, The Future of War, asks why futurists have so often gotten it wrong when it comes to predicting war.

Changing Course: Making the Case (Old and New) for American Seapower

Changing Course: Making the Case (Old and New) for American Seapower

In order to build the 355-ship Navy the United States needs, we will have to tell a new, and more compelling, story.

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1. Introduction: A Strategist at Work

By Kori Schake I love the concept of Lawrence Freedman’s The Future of War: A History. Freedman looks at how individuals in the past have expected conflicts to unfold, and explores why they so frequently — and often spectacularly — got it wrong. It’s a terrific prism through which to see how little the present has to say about the future. Freedman is the very best kind of tour guide, convivial and informative, seeding well-known stories with unexpected facts to savor. The chapter headings alone jostle the imagination as they trace the evolution of thinking about war, highlighting Freedman’s ability to harness examples from newspapers of the 1890s, Walt Whitman’s lamentations of the infringement of war on civilian populations, movies about the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and Los Angeles gang wars — a domestic example of low-level insurgencies that fray governance in urban settings. Futurists of warfare suffer from the same failures of imagination that frequently shackle their brethren in other professions: They overemphasize present trends and assume that their society’s cultural norms will similarly bind their adversaries.[1] Futurists are often mistaken in their predictions because they draw straight-line projections from current data. As Freedman writes, projections are “about the present as much as about the future.”[2]  Projecting accurately into the future requires imagining discontinuous behavior — wars that decimate China’s economic development, or perhaps propel it; breakthroughs in technology that radically reshape the supply and demand curves for energy; dramatic reversals of public attitudes that expand or contract the political space. Perhaps predictors of war read too much history and not enough evolutionary biology. Stephen J. Gould’s idea of contingent evolution may fit intellectual development even better than it does the process of natural selection.[3] Gould posits that in any scenario there are many potential trajectories, perhaps even many diversions from the current path, yet people tend to draw a straight line from the starting point to the current location —  they don’t account for dead ends or butterfly routes that meander. Nature and strategy may be more profligate in their development than straight lines capture. The Decisive Battle Narrative But if futurists have it wrong by projecting current trends forward in time, those who believe in victory stemming from a decisive battle have it wrong because they project nostalgically into the past. They imagine a mystical time when armies formed and fought, and durable political settlements were struck as the dust from the battle settled. Military professionals festooned with breakthrough technologies and unhindered by politicians’ interference dictated the plans and produced politically salient results with a minimum of civilian casualties. It’s a delight to see Freedman tackle the mistaken expectation of a decisive battle in his enormous body of work. If Geoffrey Blainey is right that Occam’s Razor shears away all other explanations of why states go to war, leaving only that they believe they can win, Freedman’s corollary is that strategists wrongly anticipate one key conflict that will decide the fate of the war.[4] In his previous work, Strategy: A History, Freedman traces that mistaken theory of conflict to the Napoleonic Wars, where strategists focused on Jena and Waterloo rather than the grueling Iberian and Russian campaigns. In The Future of War, he uses the 1870 Battle of Sedan between Germany and France to pound the last nails into a coffin he’s been constructing across much of his work in the past fifteen years. Freedman instead supplants decisiveness with duration as the critical factor in war, “because if the enemy proved to be resilient then over time non-military factors would become progressively more important.”[5] This is the essential lesson of his book: Efforts to strike the first blow “were not taken as warnings of the folly and futility of aggression, but instead of how the unwary might get caught.”[6] In reality, according to Freedman, the ability to absorb a surprise attack and draw out a war — what in Eisenhower administration debates about national security policy was discussed as broken-back warfare — is the winning strategy. It is, however, a lesson triumphalists of decisive battles from Austerlitz to the American shock and awe theory of war have had to relearn with depressing regularity. What makes Freedman’s latest book, and so much of Freedman’s recent work, so powerful is that he gives full sail to the breadth of his knowledge on so many topics and brings them to bear on the subject of military strategy. He is especially good at exploring the ways literature has been used to shake the establishment out of complacency, from Sir George Tomkyns Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking to August Cole and Peter Singer’s Ghost Fleet.[7] It’s such a pleasure to watch the finest academic strategist writing today craft the trajectory of this story. Yet, Freedman glides lightly over the failures of contemporary military and civilian strategists to confront the botched current U.S. wars, which is surprising given that Freedman was the intellectual force of the Chilcot Report that so scathingly assessed the Blair government’s Iraq War mistakes. While Freedman chronicles the blind spots and shortcomings of war prognosticators and strategists, I would have liked to read more of his thoughts about other possible choices those individuals might have made and where they would have taken the United States and the United Kingdom. I also would have enjoyed reading him celebrate more of the astringent outliers, the lone voices who have gotten the future right, like Charles J. Dunlap, the military lawyer whose dark foreboding of how the United States would lose future wars was a shock when he wrote it in 1996.[8] The Challenges and Benefits of Quantitative Analysis Like other reviewers, I found Freedman’s extended survey of the quantitative analyses of political scientists discordant with the first half of the book.[9] I agree with Freedman’s assessment that the mania for quantitative studies is often devoid of the context needed to understand the causes and consequences of war.  As Freedman has elsewhere emphasized, interstate wars are both rare and their circumstances particular. Otto von Bismarck summed it up well when he stated that politics isn’t a science, it’s an art.[10] Constructing coded data sets risks making the same mistake Graham Allison made in his book on the “Thucydides trap”: forcing a problem into a political science framework wherein n must be greater than one.[11] In reality, each interstate war is utterly unique, thus n can never be greater than one.  The joke among baseball fans about whether there is a 162-game season, or 162 one-game seasons gets at the heart of the problem. The history of war is surely made up of 162 one-game seasons. However, I’m less convinced that political science’s penchant for quantitative studies has prevented an understanding of the conflicts prevalent after the Cold War, because such an assertion would seem to give one branch of largely inaccessible academic study much more influence than it merits. University political science departments prejudice hiring in the direction of quantitative political science, but those works have very little effect on either public understanding or policy choices. Just to take the example of democratic peace theory, the academic obsession with proving it lagged more than a half century behind the policy relevance of the idea. Nor has this field prevented regional specialists and historians from having sway. That excessive quantification can obscure rather than enlighten the study of war has been clear since Thomas Malthus’ 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population. Yet, that much quantitative work is obscurant rather than enlightening isn’t sufficient to merit ignoring its contributions.  First, because, historically speaking, quantitative political science is still in its early stages, and refinements are improving the numbers and providing more robust insights.[12] Freedman’s criticisms, however well founded, may underestimate the evolution of the form — perhaps the best parallel is the use of sabermetrics in baseball, where number crunching once seen as an affront to the studied judgment of seasoned scouts has now become an invaluable aid to them. The second defense of quantitative political science comes from Theodore Sturgeon’s Revelation. The science fiction writer was once challenged about the low quality of the genre. He responded that what was relevant was not that 90 percent of science fiction writing was crap, but that “ninety percent of everything is crap.” [13] That is, the problem was not unique to the genre, but could be applied to all genres. Just so, Freedman’s critique of quantitative political science can be responded to by noting that much of history writing is likewise unenlightening — the work of accountancy, or overloading the reader with excessive facts and citations, rather than the lively storytelling characteristic of Freedman’s work. A Well-Rounded Discussion of The Future of War Because Freedman’s work is so broad ranging, and the question he poses is relevant across so many fields of study, this roundtable has gathered experts from several different fields to share their thoughts on his latest book. All of them are, in different ways, in the business of imagining the future: by guiding politics, pulling technology forward, utilizing technology to advantage in warfare, or establishing boundaries for its ethical use. Each contributor sinks their teeth into different aspects of The Future of War, illuminating warfare from their unique perspectives. Mike Gallagher, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, represents Wisconsin’s 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the Armed Services Committee. His essay focuses on the failure of technology to prevent adversaries from finding creative ways to stymie success — despite optimism that technology would change the fundamentals of warfare. He also expresses disappointment, as an elected official responsible for preparing American military forces for the future, that Freedman doesn’t offer more practical advice for how to improve predictions of warfare. Gallagher explores the “internal constraints that can explain forecasting failure,” in particular the continuing failure of the United States to marshal regional and cultural expertise in its national security establishment. Heather Roff is senior research analyst at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.  She was previously the ethicist at Deep Mind, Google’s artificial intelligence arm, and has been on the faculties of Oxford University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. In her review, Roff challenges Freedman’s exclusion of the Korean and Vietnam wars from his discussion of how past conflicts can lock future strategists into fixed “scripts,” as those wars cast the longest shadows across contemporary foreign policy and technology challenges. In particular, she discusses the expansion of power of the presidency in times of war and the failure of the United States to understand the Vietnam War from its adversary’s perspective. Sakunthala Panditharatne is the founder of the company Asteroid Technologies that designs 3D graphics and animations for augmented reality applications. Her exploration of ideas on Twitter is the intellectual equivalent of setting sail with Columbus. Her review of Freedman’s latest work draws parallels with economic historian Carlota Perez’s Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital. Panditharatne sees that “trends in technology and organizational dynamics have led to the increasing complexity and hybridization of warfare, much like the increasing complexity in business known as the ‘knowledge economy.’”  Particularly interesting is her exploration of how personal computers and internet connectivity are shifting power from large and centralized organizations toward small networked organizations — both in businesses and militaries — and the role that legitimacy now plays in the wake of that shift. I ardently hope she proves right in her assertion that “Hybrid warfare should lend an advantage to nations with lots of soft power, which are able to attract and retain top technical talent both in industry and in the military directly, an encouraging conclusion for proponents of liberal democracy.” Pavneet Singh and Michael Brown are scouts at DIUx, the Department of Defense’s outreach to Silicon Valley. Brown is the president and CEO of Symantec, and has led numerous other tech companies, including Quantuum and EqualLogic. Singh has worked on the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, and at the World Bank. Their essay explores some of the “signposts” for predicting war that they argue Freedman missed. This includes suggesting expanding the analysis beyond the United Kingdom and America to understand how other cultures, which take a longer view of history than the Anglo-American culture and political systems, view the future of warfare; delving more deeply into the link between economic trends and the outcomes of war, because of warfare’s reliance on economic strength; and recognizing “the role and decisiveness of superior technology.” Brown and Singh argue, “There is no disputing the fact that whoever has significantly superior technology will emerge as the victor in a future conflict.” They also see important differences between great power wars and regional wars, distinctions that Freedman fails to consider in his analysis. Conclusion The Future of Warfare serves as a reminder that strategists must relentlessly reevaluate their analyses, searching for where their assumptions may have been wrong or where they no longer capture the critical elements of the problem. Good strategists also ought to be desperate paranoiacs, constantly fearful a trap door is going to open underneath them, always crafting back-up plans for how to prevent being dumped into the sewer that waits below. Freedman cautions that the most dangerous and destabilizing contemporary factor would be “a decision by the United States to disentangle itself from its alliance commitments.”[14] This is particularly poignant given President Donald Trump’s recent disgraceful behavior toward America’s NATO allies. The world may now be seeing unfold the future that this great scholar of warfare worries most about. Freedman’s exploration of the attitudes, art, and scholarship of individuals from history suggests that it may not be long before these years are referred to as the inter-war period. Sir Lawrence Freedman is the most incisive and influential academic writing about warfare today. He took the profession by storm with his Ph.D. dissertation on U.S. intelligence and the Soviet strategic threat, wrote the official British history of the Falklands War, built the renown War Studies Department at King’s College London, made seminal contributions to both the 1999 Blair doctrine and the Chilcot report, and has been a mentor to practically every young scholar in the field. This book shows him a strategist in full, drawing on a career of thinking carefully about warfare to ask why it is so difficult to see coming the kinds of wars that are actually fought? At a time when much of academia has narrowed its focus, his work is a clarion call to ask big, important questions. I’m so pleased and grateful that this interesting group of thinkers from different fields gave their time to look at The Future of War. And I’m delighted they didn’t defer to his stature or become intimidated by the vastness of his knowledge in critiquing his work.  Instead, they paid him the highest professional honor: engaging seriously and critically with his ideas and arguing about their applicability to — and beyond — warfare. Kori Schake is the deputy director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the author of Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony.    

2. War May not Be Predictable, but there Are Warning Signs

By Michael Brown and Pavneet Singh In The Future of War, Lawrence Freedman offers a sobering assessment of war forecasters over the last 150 years: They were largely wrong. What’s more, in prescribing a self-interested set of policies and actions, they overlooked the real levers that cause conflict to happen. War is at best blurry, and impossible to divine from present conditions. By reviewing an extensive body of both fiction and non-fiction, Freedman takes aim at the romantic notion that a decisive first blow or the possession of advanced technology will ensure expeditious victory for the aggressor. The former, he says, never achieves the efficient win it promises, and the latter offers little utility in predicting war, but rather provides insight on how wars might be fought. While he does not make his own predictions on the future of war, Freedman identifies a few key trends that are likely to persist: 1) War will always be bloody and violent, 2) conflicts that are ongoing today (e.g., wars in sub-Saharan Africa) will continue because the international community has not come up with a way to stop them, and 3) war will be nasty, complicated, and motivated by social and political behaviors. His core conclusion is that predictions on the future of war should be made with genuine humility, and policymakers should maintain a healthy degree of skepticism before acting on these predictions. In a world obsessed with decoding the future, whether in finance or politics, rarely does one travel back in time to assess the predictions of an earlier era. In this respect, Freedman’s attempt to retroactively parse and grade the influence of futurists is refreshing and should encourage more introspection in the national security decision-making process. However, by simply abandoning at the outset the notion that any predictive models of future wars can be made, this volume does not live up to its tremendous potential. Freedman identifies a litany of “speculative possibilities,” but does not extract the legitimate markers that can inform current and future judgment — not necessarily in order to predict war, but to highlight the relevant warning signs. Below, we discuss three such signposts that Freedman either omits completely or incorrectly dismisses, which have immediate application to current national security challenges. Three Missed Signposts First, as the book is designed to “explore the prevailing understandings about the causes of war and their likely conduct and course,”[15] the most glaring oversight Freedman makes is restricting his analysis primarily to the United States and the United Kingdom. His reasoning is simple enough: These are the two countries he “knows the best,” and because they have been atop “the international hierarchy for some time.”[16] Yet, in looking out on the geopolitical landscape and assessing the threats emanating from current U.S. adversaries — or even the ambitions of U.S. allies — it is clear America is dealing with countries that take a generational perspective and whose fortunes within the international order have risen and fallen over millennia. Some of the obvious candidates include the antecedents to the nation-states of Iran, China, India, Turkey, and Russia. Even a cursory examination of these countries and peoples reveals that they have a sophisticated understanding and experience with great power wars, guerrilla warfare, and hybrid conflict. Moreover, a rich literary canon of war stratagems has originated in these countries — from the “warring states” period in China, when Sun Tzu conceived the Art of War (one of several military strategy pieces written in that period), to more recent strategies like India’s Cold Start doctrine.[17] This literature shares similarities with the works of Freedman’s classical war prognosticators, but also differs significantly on strategies and tactics in war. Indeed, contemporary studies, such as Max Boot’s Invisible Armies, An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present,[18] provide a much more instructive view of irregular warfare, demonstrating its common use as a strategy dating back to Mesopotamia. Put simply, there is much more to learn about the factors that form the views of adversaries, especially given that their behaviors will likely shape the contours of conflict over the coming generations. Second, Freedman devotes little, if any, attention to the importance of economic capacity and capability as a determining factor in winning wars. As Paul Kennedy so eloquently lays out in his book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, economics has always been a key underpinning of military capability. This was the case in World War I, where the addition of the United States’ industrial strength was the decisive factor in the Allied victory. The same was true in World War II, when the U.S. ability to deliver staggering quantities of war materiel was pivotal in defeating the combination of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, even without nuclear weapons. A related third point concerns Freedman’s dismissal of the role and decisiveness of possessing superior technology. Freedman emphasizes the lack of predictability of war and the overconfidence in a first-strike, which often does not result in the anticipated conclusive victory. However, the examples he provides are cases in which the aggressor did not possess superior technology. In the past 150 years, where there was superior technology, there was decisive victory. Take, for example, nuclear technology, which changed the calculus of decision-making in war. This has also been called the “first offset” — when the United States truly had military dominance against its adversary. Superior technology was also a decisive factor during the “second offset,” when America had overmatch capability against Iraq in the First Gulf War, defeating the sixth largest army in a matter of days with few casualties. This was due to electronics-infused warfare: command-and-control capability through GPS, satellite communications and battlefield domain surveillance, night-vision, and laser-guided munitions. In other words, the United States has had the benefit of superior technology for 75 years and has only been drawn into stalemates in situations in which U.S. political leaders have not been willing to use all of America’s military technological capability (such as in Korea and Vietnam). As the U.S. military seeks a “third offset,”[19] and its adversaries catch up to its technology prowess, there is a question as to whether the United States still has the decisive technological advantage. Nevertheless, there is no disputing the fact that whichever country does possess significantly superior technology will emerge as the victor in a future conflict. Unlike Freedman’s conclusion that superior technology does not lead to a decisive win, there are several examples of the United States doing just that through an overmatch in technology. The holy grail of military superiority in great power conflict comes from the combination of superior technology and economic strength. There have been many conflicts in the past 150 years that did not involve great power competition and in which neither superior technology nor economic strength were factors. These are conflicts whose outcomes are difficult to explain in terms of specific decisive factors.  However, to achieve greater understanding, Freedman’s book would have been better served by separating the many regional conflicts, civil wars, and terrorism-driven sources of conflict from great power wars. We disagree with Freedman that great power wars are unpredictable, since many great power wars can be explained largely by the two factors of superior technology and economic capability. Applying these Signposts to China Taken together, these three points are critical to understanding the intensifying competition between the United States and China. Central to this analysis is identifying and recognizing the factors that shape Chinese strategic thinking — and accepting that they diverge from classical western frames for thinking about conflicts. In a recent article, Aaron Friedberg invokes history as the principal wellspring guiding Chinese leaders over successive generations:
China is not just any rising power; it is a nation with a long and proud history as the leading centre of East Asian civilisation and a more recent, inglorious experience of domination and humiliation at the hands of foreign intruders. China’s leaders see their country as not merely rising, but rather returning to a position of regional pre-eminence that it once held and which they (and many of their people) regard as natural and appropriate.[20]
Notably, Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leader from 1978 to 1989, played a seminal role in crafting China’s renaissance. It is telling that his philosophy prioritized humility, deception, and endurance as captured in these now famous dictums that “[China should] cross the river by feeling the stones” and “hide its capabilities and bide its time.”[21] The subsequent blueprint implemented by China’s leadership includes a relentless focus on building China’s economic, military, geopolitical, and ideological power.[22] Starting with the economy, China has developed a leading global economy faster than any country in modern history. The timescale during which this growth occurred is stunning: China’s economy has grown from 10 percent of the U.S. economy in the 1970s to the second largest global economy — in just fifty years. China is using its economic power and technology advancements to engage in a rapid peacetime military buildup, aimed at expanding borders across Asia and at sea. China’s military strategy is based on developing asymmetric capabilities to neutralize the traditional strengths of the United States in technology (e.g., anti-satellite missiles to eliminate GPS) and deny capabilities derived from expensive force projection that the United States cannot afford to replace (e.g., aircraft carriers). Beijing focuses on lower-cost technologies that can leapfrog and put America in a defensive posture, using, for example, swarms of drones or hypersonic missiles. With its “military-civil fusion initiative,” China aims to integrate all of its commercial technology advances into its military capability.[23] It has already achieved superior technology capabilities in a number of critical areas, such as hypersonics and supercomputing, while challenging the United States in artificial intelligence and bioengineering. Whether America is already engaged in conflict with China (as some have argued),[24] or the United States is destined for war (as some predict),[25] is a matter of heated debate that we don’t take a position on here.  But this example illustrates that there are key indicators (historical, economic, technological, military) that can be discerned and measured to help policymakers make better predictions about future conflicts.  Freedman is right that there are distinct differences in conflicts between great powers and regional wars, civil wars, and terrorism-fueled conflicts. What Freedman misses in The Future of War is the recognition that they can have different models for war and predictors of outcomes. This is not the same as saying that there are no reliable predictors or indicators for future conflicts. Michael Brown is a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow working with the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx). Through August of 2016, Michael was the CEO of Symantec Corporation, the global leader in cybersecurity. Pavneet Singh is a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and a consultant to DIUx. He was formerly on the National Security Council and National Economic Council focusing on international economic affairs.  

3. The Future of War Ain’t What It Used to Be

By Mike Gallagher  

A man who can look ahead and see the pattern of problems that may be emerging has tremendous value.[26] -Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster

  In his 2013 book, Strategy: A History, Lawrence Freedman developed the concept of “strategic scripts,” which is “a way of thinking about strategy as a story told in the future sense.” These scripts are narratives that can convince a group of how its initial choices are likely to play out.[27] They are essentially working theories about how security can be created by linking ends to means, and which of these means are most effective in advancing particular ends (e.g. using force vs. diplomacy). In Freedman’s 2017 The Future of War: A History, he demonstrates how often those scripts turn out to be wrong, leaving policymakers pain in place of promised success. What L.P. Hartley once said about the past here applies to the future: It is a foreign country; they do things differently there.[28] The inability to look ahead and accurately forecast emerging trends is a theme that pervades this book. Freedman shows how the indecisive and protracted trench fighting of the Great War, for example, undercut Antoine-Henri Jomini’s classical model of war, based on the Napoleonic assumption that “wars could be settled by a well-constructed campaign, culminating in a decisive battle.”[29] More recently, the rapid demise of the Soviet Union surprised many in government, undermining the arguments of realists in particular (here Freedman seems to mean structural realists or neorealists), who have since refused to reappraise a theory that
struggled because it had little to say about the impact of major ideological shifts within great powers or the drivers of instability within minor states, or why any serious major power, secure within its own borders, would bother to try to sort out this instability.[30]
Indeed, as former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argued,
The liberation of Eastern Europe in less than six months, the collapse of the Soviet Union in less than a year, was stunning, almost miraculous. Very, very few predicted that these revolutionary events would happen in this century. No one foresaw that they would happen so fast.[31]
This inability to accurately forecast the future will be familiar to anyone who has fought in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where despite having clear technological superiority, the United States continues to be challenged by low-tech terrorists. Protracted counterinsurgencies waged in urban settings have ended the brief flirtation with reviving a classical model of war or relying on a Revolution in Military Affairs to substitute technology for mass and “get the whole affair over quickly with few casualties.”[32] Consider the fact that, as Freedman shows, three U.S. presidents announced the end of combat in Iraq and “[e]ach time it turned out that the announcement was premature.”[33] Indeed the idea that new technology will decisively shift the odds of success and change the character of warfare — making it fast, easy, and decisive — is what H. R. McMaster has called a “vampire fallacy,” because it is so hard to kill.[34] Freedman’s focus on science fiction novels and films (i.e. actual scripts) further underscores the failure of these official scripts. For example, Freedman argues that H.G. Wells “was the most influential writer on future war of his time.” Despite his adherence to socialism, advocacy for world government, and prediction that World War I would end all wars, Wells gets credit for inventing the tank and highlighting the problems “new weapons might be trying to solve and those they would create,” such as the potential use of air power against defenseless populations.[35] Freedman praises the 1958 novel Red Alert (the basis for Dr. Strangelove) for calling attention to key weaknesses of deterrent strategy and prompting Thomas Schelling to develop “his ideas for a communications link between Moscow and Washington to reduce the dangers the book described.”[36] Freedman’s chapter on “Cyberwar” begins with an epigraph from William Gibson’s Neuromancer, while the chapter on “Robots and Drones” begins with Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics.”[37] Freedman’s ability to weave such a diverse set of scripts together into coherent and concise chapters is alone worth the price of admission. The busy reader can easily pick and choose from a menu of different options based on his interest. And at the broadest level, Freedman offers scholars and practitioners a useful lesson in intellectual humility (the first paragraph of the book details the origin of the word “hubris”). The Future of War usefully shows where certain scripts went wrong and where individual thinkers and analysts have been overly optimistic, pessimistic, or insufficiently imaginative. Likewise, he shows how militaries — such as the Japanese military in 1941, which believed it could repeat the successes of surprise attacks against the Russians in 1894 and 1904 — have a tendency to try to fight the last war instead of the one they are in.[38] Scripting the Future But as an elected official, and someone who spends a lot of time on the House Armed Services Committee thinking about how to prevent future wars, this is where Freedman left me wanting more. While sufficiently covering the fact that organizations frequently miscast the future, his book has less to say about why they do so. For instance, consider what is perhaps the biggest, bipartisan mistake of the post-Cold War era, besides the failure of imagination that led to 9/11:[39] U.S. policy towards China. As the 2017 National Security Strategy argues,
For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others.[40]
The slowness of America’s response to the rise in Chinese power is especially puzzling given that, as Freedman asserts in his chapter “Coming Wars,” by the late 1990’s, China was a “genuinely revisionist power” and the “the most serious long-term challenger to the United States.”[41] Why did American policy take so long to adjust to this new reality? Beyond summarizing the future Sino-U.S. conflict described in the novel Ghost Fleet, Freedman has little to say about how the United States got China so wrong.[42] He criticizes Graham Allison’s “Thucydides Trap” thesis for its oversimplification of both Greek history and the complex, regional reactions to China’s rise. Yet, he also reviews Allison’s previous prediction — that a nuclear terrorist attack within a decade after 2004 was likely — without discussing the fact that it was completely wrong.[43] While Allison was obviously mistaken in 2004, Freedman leaves the reader in the dark as to why, thus illustrating my broader desire for more from this book. Without a clearer discussion of why states and scholars tend to get the future wrong, Freedman’s work offers few practical suggestions for policymakers who are trying to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. To be fair, the penultimate page briefly discusses three potential reasons the future is so difficult to forecast: 1) predictions are often clouded by advocacy, frequently by envisioning overly-optimistic outcomes; 2) bureaucratic politics can disincentivize thinking about the unthinkable; and 3) organizations tend to extrapolate into the future using the recent past (though as Freedman notes, the inverse is also true: “Another and quite different tendency is to assert that we are on the verge of a great, transformational discontinuity”).[44] Freedman sums this up with a statement that is true, but in the end, not all that useful:
The reason that the future is difficult to predict is that it depends on choices that have yet to be made, including by our governments, in circumstances that remain uncertain … history is made by people who do not know what is going to happen next.[45]
And yet, much more is known than Freedman acknowledges about how people make choices under certain conditions. As Irving Janis has shown, the psychological drive for consensus and consistency within groups can suppress disagreement and degrade “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.”[46] And, as Risa A. Brooks has argued, poor civil-military relations can corrupt a leader’s advisory system, produce poor strategic assessments, and create an environment in which the state is “devastatingly unprepared to manage [its] international relations.”[47] Keren Yarhi-Milo has similarly highlighted how problems can emerge from differences within the executive branch, such as how the intelligence community favors military capabilities when analyzing adversaries, while presidents base threat perceptions largely on their personal impressions of foreign leaders gained through direct interaction.[48] The point is that if Freedman’s critique of structural realism is correct — he argues that it focuses excessively on system-level variables, such as the distribution of material power, and assumes great powers are rational and respond to system changes in similar ways[49] — then the key question is what state- and individual-level variables can better explain forecasting failure.[50] But unfortunately, Freedman never quite gets around to this level of analysis. This is a shame, because he has most of the pieces in place to put together a more practical guide for policymakers. Conclusion Perhaps one lesson is that, while studies of the future focus on the salience of science fiction, the role of technology in warfare, or the neat-and-tidy lessons of history, they often miss the mark because they rarely come from regional or language specialists. This is particularly true of official governmental scripts. U.S. military career tracks are rarely optimized to produce regional experts. Even the intelligence and diplomatic communities, which used to produce genuine regional experts like George Kennan (a forecasting success story that does not appear in Freedman’s book), often rotate their personnel in an astrategic manner, perpetuating the so-called “mile wide and an inch deep” personnel pathology. This trend was a major concern of the 9/11 Commission, which recommended that the FBI develop a specialized national security workforce of agents, linguists, and analysts “recruited, trained, rewarded, and retained to ensure the development of an institutional culture imbued with a deep expertise in intelligence and national security.”[51] Freedman is right to suggest that there is no easy way to script the future, but military and government leaders should explore every option to improve their forecasts. To this end, deep regional and cultural expertise may go a long way. As Susan Glasser wrote about Kennan, “It is because of Kennan’s meticulous observations, incisive prose and deep knowledge of the country and its people” that he did not “merely throw up his hands in confusion, or succumb to wishful thinking or fellow-travelerism or any of the other diseases endemic to so much Western writing about the Soviet Union.”[52] Perhaps this is just a different form of the hubris Freedman describes in the opening of his book. Or perhaps, with a combination of deep cultural and regional expertise, a sense of humility, and a recognition of our individual and bureaucratic biases, these scripts can have happier endings. Mike Gallagher represents Wisconsin’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where he is a member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. Prior to Congress, Mike served in the Marine Corps for seven years as a Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence Officer and Regional Affairs Officer for the Middle East/North Africa, earning the rank of Captain. He deployed twice to Al Anbar Province, Iraq and worked for three years in the intelligence community. Mike also served as the lead Republican staffer for Middle East, North Africa, and Counterterrorism on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, Mike went on to earn a master’s degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University, a second in Strategic Intelligence from National Intelligence University, and his PhD in International Relations from Georgetown.    

 4. Technology, the Economy, and the Future of War

By Saku Panditharatne In his latest book, The Future of War, Lawrence Freedman offers an intellectual history of how Americans and Britons have imagined the future of conflict over the past 200 years. Drawing on not only military history but science fiction as well, Freedman’s book leads the reader through the many twists and turns of history, demonstrating in each time period which future conflicts were imagined realistically and accurately and which came as a complete surprise. In the first section of The Future of War, Freedman describes how warfare has evolved, beginning in the mid-19th century, through the industrial revolution, and beyond — from isolated battles between trained soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars, to the all-consuming destruction of World War I, to the end of the Cold War. At each stage, Freedman focuses on the types of conflict that accompanied these technological leaps forward, and examines the second- and third-order effects that caught intellectuals and military leaders off guard. He discusses not only the impact of muskets on warfare, but also the less predictable impact of supply chains. Technological advances come in fits and spurts. Reading The Future of War called to mind Carlota Perez’s work of economic history, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital.[53] Perez lays out a framework for thinking about technology in terms of discrete paradigm shifts, rather than continuous innovation. These paradigm shifts occur between clusters of technologies that develop together and mutually reinforce each other, and which naturally lead to a different pattern of social organization. It’s an extremely relevant read for today’s era of “technological disruption,” in which the software paradigm is replacing the 20th century paradigm of mass production. After reading The Future of War, I saw a correspondence between Perez’s theory about the course of technology and Freedman’s account of the predictability of war. Perez divides economic development into two phases: an “installation” phase, in which a new set of technologies are invented and commercialized, often coinciding with a financial mania or bubble; and a “deployment” phase of steady economic growth, in which the same technologies are rolled out on a broader scale. In between the two phases is a “turning point,” when the “new economy” replaces the old, and society is restructured to make the best use of it. Some examples of these two phases of economic development include the canal mania that preceded the industrial revolution, the railway mania that preceded the Victorian boom, and the Roaring Twenties and post-World War II period, when mass production, cars, and aviation were invented and then later rolled out more broadly. It is during this "installation” phase that people are frequently taken by surprise by new forms of waging war. For example, after the invention of new technologies, such as the automobile and the telephone, the great powers famously “sleepwalked” into World War I. It was hard for European leaders to imagine that the new supply chains bringing resources to the front lines would prolong the length of battles, and even harder for them to predict the emergence of trench warfare. Even though they may not have literally believed the war would be over by Christmas, as many claimed, only a few Cassandras predicted the scale of destruction these new technologies would enable. Many expected a repeat of the kind of highly contained battles prominent in the previous century — but with machine guns instead of muskets. In reading The Future of War, it became clear the "technological disruption" of warfare often became easier to predict when moving into the “deployment” phase. During the interwar period, a new social and economic structure developed around the emerging technologies that had been invented in the early 20th century. Infrastructure (such as roads and telephone lines) was built out, new management techniques and processes (for example, supply chains) emerged, and people adapted their lifestyles around a new, more centralized and urbanized way of living. As it became more obvious how these technologies would be incorporated into the economy, it also became more obvious how they would be used in warfare. Although the airplane was still a nascent technology, many science-fiction writers and futurists were able to imagine how war could be waged in the skies prior to the start of World War II. Even the atom bomb was thought up in science fiction before it was invented — in some ways it occupied a similar place in popular culture as the idea of superintelligent Artificial Intelligence (AI) does today. H.G. Wells and others imagined an "infinite energy source," which some thought might one day make all jobs obsolete. The end of the Cold War coincided with the end of the deployment phase of the last technological revolution and the start of the computer age. There were many reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union, but by the late 1980s, the highly centralized mid-century economic model had run its course, making totalitarian states impossible to sustain. The end of this technological paradigm was not easy to predict at all: The view from 1960 was that mankind would explore new planets and the Cold War would continue out in space. The first half of The Future of War is a “history of the future,” a critical look back at how predictions about the military affairs played out. The implicit question Freedman seems to be asking is, “How much can we predict about the future of war today?” Are we living through one of those eras where the second- or third-order effects of warfare are relatively easy to predict, or one where they take the world by surprise? The Future of War suggests the answer can be found by looking at the economy, as history teaches that there is a close link between understanding the uses of technology in the economy, and understanding them in warfare. Predicting War in the Post-Cold War Era In the second half of Freedman’s book, he examines the new trends in warfare that have emerged since the end of the Cold War. The period between 1989 and 2015 can be seen as the “installation” phase of the information revolution, again using Perez’s terminology, a time when personal computers and the internet were new, experimental technologies. The two big trends to come out of this installation phase are a set of mutually reinforcing technologies — computers, the internet, mobile phones, and AI — and a new set of processes to make best use of these technologies in the economy. As was true in the first half of The Future of War, there appear to be strong parallels between the organization of the “new economy” and the new developments in warfare. One can look to competition between tech companies to try to understand the technological advantage one nation-state might gain over another. Such an examination suggests that the advantage comes from having a powerful guiding mission, and possessing networks of technically skilled employees. One way in which new tech has affected organizational dynamics is by shifting power away from top-down bureaucracies. The post-Cold War period has been defined by a marked decrease in the power of the nation-state. In The Square and The Tower,[54] Niall Ferguson argues that the internet tipped the balance of power away from large, centralized organizations toward smaller, more networked ones. In a similar way to the advent of the printing press during the Reformation in the 16th century, the internet gave an advantage to smaller groups. Instead of conflicts between highly centralized superpowers, the early 21st century has been defined by conflicts caused by weak states, civil wars, guerilla warfare, and terrorism. The Future of War describes an especially interesting implication of this more networked type of warfare: It results in the heightened importance of “legitimacy.” For military interventions in the post-Cold War period, winning over local allies has become more crucial because on the ground expertise and information matters more than it used to. There’s an interesting parallel here with what’s happening in the economy, where “mission-driven” companies have an advantage because they are better able to build networks of people and recruit those with important skills. A related phenomenon is the blurring of state and non-state actors. Various organized crime groups, such as drug traffickers, are able to build formidable networks without necessarily having the bureaucratic apparatus of a state, and extremist groups like the Islamic State are able to use their ideology to recruit using online propaganda. Reading The Future of War, I was especially struck by Freedman’s account of the increased importance of soft power in winning over allies. If conflicts are fought between networked organizations and their guiding missions, rather than state bureaucracies, then democracies might be at a disadvantage in this new form of warfare. A dictatorship can directly create propaganda to promote its party line abroad, for example, whereas there are fewer ideas upon which democracies can agree to promote. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the strength of culture and civil society in a democracy is more effective at creating soft power than simple propaganda. In this light, U.S. internet companies like Facebook and Google become especially important. In 2016, the Indian government decided against allowing Facebook to provide free but limited mobile internet services to rural Indians, partly because it feared giving a foreign corporation too much power over the flow of information.[55] Many countries already restrict Facebook, most notably China.[56] Although U.S. internet services are popular with users, and there are strong economic incentives for developing countries not to place restrictions on the internet, it is not difficult to imagine a future where a country’s domestic policies about social networks becomes a foreign policy or trade decision. This raises an interesting question: To what extent are U.S. tech companies representative of America and the West abroad? This question is further complicated by individual tech companies’ need for legitimacy as a networked organization. Facebook, for example, cares so much about employees believing in the internal mission that it has a department dedicated to creating internal motivational posters, called the Analog Research Lab art studio.[57] The opinions of employees are important enough to significantly influence top-level decisions. The crafts startup Etsy initially went public as a “public benefit corporation,”[58] meaning it would be legally obligated to hold and prioritize non-financial goals, like helping the environment, in the hopes of making it easier to recruit the people they needed to make the site a success. This is an existential issue for tech companies, which are constantly worried about losing their engineers to startups and other projects with a more compelling “mission.” Business Parallels with Hybrid Warfare These trends in technology and organizational dynamics have led to the increasing complexity and hybridization of warfare, much like the increasing complexity in business known as the “knowledge economy.” Hybrid warfare combines hacking and misinformation campaigns with conventional military tactics, which has some parallels with the new generation of tech companies (like Uber) that combine software (e.g., the app itself) with operational knowledge of traditional, brick-and-mortar industries (e.g., driving a taxi). Typically, these kinds of companies need to have both computer scientists and industry domain experts in the organization’s DNA. They often end up acquiring small teams of computer scientists working on specific, relevant problems to grow the business, in a similar way to how nation-states might recruit teams of hackers to work alongside more traditional military and government officials. A related role from industry that does not yet have an analogue in hybrid warfare is the venture capital analyst — someone who is hired to look for important new tech trends and seek out experts and promising people working in those fields, in hopes of spotting a high-impact discovery before other firms do. Another common pattern that could become relevant to nation-states waging hybrid warfare is that of an old-economy business buying a stake in a software company in order to modernize — such as Unilever acquiring Dollar Shave Club.[59] In these cases, the software company acts like the brain of the jellyfish: It helps the rest of the organization make smarter, more effective decisions. It’s often quite difficult for legacy companies to know which software companies to acquire until they have proven themselves in the marketplace, because they lack the expertise to tell which ones are the best. One way they get around this is by building out networks of computer scientists. Highly specialized, domain-specific knowledge most often requires a mentor to learn. Thus, people with relevant skills tend to know each other, and, more importantly, know who the people doing important work in their field are. Intellectual theft is another domain in which networks have taken on new importance. Industrial espionage was important in the mid 20th century, because specialized technical knowledge was relevant to both military and economic power. With software, stealing secrets has become much more difficult. Simply stealing code is not that valuable without the knowledge and processes to make it useful. In a high-profile 2017 trade secrets legal dispute between Uber and Waymo over the self-driving car,[60] it was not just that data and plans were allegedly stolen — the supposed theft involved the top engineer leaving to go to the other company. Again, the conclusion is the same: Networks of people are of much more critical importance than they used to be. Conclusion In The Future of War, Freedman examines the historical parallels between developments in warfare and developments in the economy. He demonstrates that the current era is no exception, discussing the new patterns of warfare that have emerged since the start of the information age. Freedman traces the implications of both the first-order effects, such as greater use of information technology, and the higher-order effects, such as the shift towards mission-driven networked organizations. If history is any guide, the future of war should be more predictable now given that the economic paradigm of how to use information technology is fairly well-understood. Freedman’s work suggests there is a lot that can be learned regarding warfare by studying the “new economy,” especially the workings of mission-driven, networked organizations. Hybrid warfare should lend an advantage to nations with lots of soft power, which are able to attract and retain top technical talent both in industry and in the military directly, an encouraging conclusion for proponents of liberal democracy. Saku Panditharatne is the founder and CEO of Asteroid, a startup that builds tools for augmented reality developers. Previously, Saku worked as an analyst researching emerging technologies for the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, and before that worked as an engineer at a number of computer graphics startups, including Oculus. She graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Computer Science with Mathematics.  

5. Faulty Frames and Techno-Optimism

By Heather M. Roff Lawrence Freedman’s impressive new work, The Future of War, provides a solid, general introduction to a contemporary history of war. Its breadth and scope intertwine not only historical accounting, but international relations theory, film, and literature, bringing to life the sentiments and perspectives of people in their time. Freedman’s thesis — that American and British leaders, including politicians and military officers, fail to predict future wars because they lack knowledge of historical precedents and the strategic narratives of past conflicts — is largely correct. And yet, Freedman falls prey to his own critique by failing to examine two extremely important modern conflicts that lay the foundation for many of the present technological advancements and strategic doctrines that continue to shape contemporary thinking on warfare: the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Korean War Freedman’s lack of serious engagement with these two conflicts is not only perplexing, but troubling. Indeed, he makes only two brief mentions of the Korean War. The first is in reference to the United States’ supposed surprise when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. The second is in relation to counting battle casualties. North Korea itself only appears in a few fleeting anecdotes in The Future of War, again in reference to the “surprise” of the United States, as well as the notion of delivering a first, “decisive” blow to an enemy, the seizing of the USS Pueblo, the hack on the Sony Corporation, and the almost relentless 70-year pursuit of a nuclear weapons program by the North. Yet, it was the Korean War that lay much of the groundwork for many of the present-day foreign policy challenges that face the United States. If Freedman were following his own advice, he would have looked at the historical context in 1950 to help explain the strategic context on the Korean Peninsula today. Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, was educated, trained, and equipped by Josef Stalin. The perception in the United States and elsewhere was that Stalin was making a play to expand communist influence in the East. But what was not appreciated a mere five years after the end of World War II — and after America’s use of nuclear weapons — was that Stalin had little appetite for a long and escalatory conflict in Korea.[61] The United States, however ,along with many major powers at that time, viewed a military response to North Korean aggression as required under the newly formulated United Nations. Referring to this response as a “police action” gave Western countries, and particularly the United States, expansive new powers. Domestically, it enabled President Harry Truman to bypass congressional approval for going to war against North Korea, thereby challenging the Constitution. This greatly enhanced and expanded U.S. executive powers in ways that have still not been walked back. Internationally, the absence of the Soviet Union at the United Nations Security Council vote on approving this so-called police action meant that the vote went unopposed. Thus, the Security Council’s “approval” lent a patina of legitimacy to actions that member states like the Soviet Union and, later, China would have seriously opposed. The various domestic pressures faced by the Truman administration from 1949 to 1950 — such as outrage at the Soviets acquiring their own atomic weapon and fear of further communist expansion after the successful Chinese revolution — presented Truman with an opportunity to begin making the Cold War a hot one. Truman’s “police action” turned into a full-scale war that ultimately challenged the notion of state sovereignty upheld by the United Nations. Moreover, it also changed how U.S. foreign policy in Southeast Asia was framed — a frame that continues to this day. The war brought Maoist Chinese forces into North and South Korea to fight U.S. troops. When Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s forces were routed, facing defeat at the hands of North Korean and Chinese troops, the response was to escalate the crisis and threaten nuclear action.[62] To use nuclear weapons as a threat, less than ten years after the technology’s first use, was so serious that one can argue it changed the North Korean perception of obtaining nuclear weapons forever. And this perception — this nuclear hangover, so to speak — persists in the Kim dynasty to this day. North Korea pursues nuclear power at all costs because it is that country’s greatest defense against a nuclear threat. Yet, without understanding the reasons for North Korean nuclear armament, or its close connections with China, one will have little understanding of present-day potentialities for nuclear brinkmanship or conflict in South East Asia. Contemporary foreign policy and alliances in the region cannot be understood without understanding the past. However, such an analysis is not to be found in Freedman’s book. He has failed to take his own advice. The Vietnam War The U.S. bombing campaign in Korea marked the first time America employed napalm as a weapon in war, setting the stage for its later use in Vietnam.[63] Enter the light treatment of Vietnam in The Future of War. As Freedman makes sweeping claims about intervention, failed states, democracy, and counterinsurgency — as his chapter titles exhibit — it is quite surprising that Vietnam does not have a more prominent place in his book. The Vietnam conflict touches on all of these themes. It also cemented a particular cultural narrative about the U.S. use of force for decades. Indeed, the United States feared public opinion about entrenched conflicts, the draft, and insurgency to such an extent that it literally threw away all of the field manuals pertaining to the war, thereby hindering U.S. strategy in 2003, when America faced insurgency once more in Iraq. Again, Freedman has failed to make this connection and take his own advice. From the perspective of Vietnam, all of these topics play a crucial role in explaining the conflict and providing historical context for future strategic narratives. As early as 1919, the Vietnamese people were asking the United States to help them gain recognition from French colonialists.[64] In his first attempt at negotiating with the French, Ho Chi Minh approached President Woodrow Wilson to use his 14 Points Speech to help the Vietnamese gain a “permanent delegation of native people elected to the French Parliament.”[65] Ho wouldn’t return to fight again for independence until 1941. The roots of the Vietnam War did not grow out of a red scare or fear about falling dominoes. All of that came later. This war was about an ongoing struggle against colonialism, brutal treatment at the hands of the French colonialists, and the fight for democratic representation. Ultimately, Truman’s lack of interest in Indo-China and the Far East, as well as French and British reticence to give up their colonies or tolerate nationalist movements, led to policies toward Vietnam that only further inflamed the Vietnamese population’s drive to fight back against the French. Ultimately, over time, communism came to the fore, but not before attempts at decolonization and a fight for independence. Truman had sent military advisers to his French allies in Vietnam as early as 1950, but it wasn’t until the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, in 1954, that the United States began to pay much closer attention to what was happening there. It was at this point, with the new Eisenhower administration in office, that U.S. involvement became almost a forgone conclusion. It was with Dwight Eisenhower and his new policies, geared toward amassing nuclear weapons, purging communist elements, and expanding the Central Intelligence Agency, that the conflict began to take on a new significance. It is important to note the history of the United States and its Western allies with regards to Vietnam’s nationalist movement and civil war. America’s installment of a U.S. friendly leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, undermined confidence in the eventual unification or democratic aspirations of North and South Vietnam. Truman’s, and then Eisenhower’s, fears of communism provided both presidents with faulty foreign policy decision-making frames that ultimately committed them to actions that would only escalate and heighten the situation. Given the significance of such frames, Freedman ought to have identified this example from history as evidence to support his thesis. With Eisenhower’s New Look nuclear policy and hawkish attitudes, potential first use of atomic weapons was on the table. However, by the time John F. Kennedy came into office, he was neither fully aware of the U.S. nuclear capability — ordering Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to actually count the U.S. arsenal — nor was he aware of how America’s involvement in Vietnam was truly playing out.[66] He essentially remained committed to Eisenhower’s policies until 1963, when Kennedy announced his plan to withdraw all U.S. troops by 1965. Kennedy’s commitment to leaving Vietnam was not popular at that time with military leaders. Upon his assassination, and the appointment of Lyndon B. Johnson to the presidency, the Vietnam War entered its most important phase for the history of war and for the future of war with regard to technological development. Johnson’s commitment to more right-leaning and hawkish policies led him to appoint Gen. William Westmoreland and to increasingly rely on the advice of former-President Eisenhower.[67] Westmoreland’s strategy for winning the war was to continuously increase the number of ground troops and bombing campaigns. Indeed, he escalated the troop commitment from 16,000 in 1963 to over 536,000 in 1968.[68]  While the massive troop deployments and the political opposition raged on, another important aspect of this war came to the fore: technological development. Technology and the Future of War One of the themes that Freedman explores in his book is the role of technological development in predicting the future of warfare. One must, therefore, look to the strategic narratives that drove technological development and that frame present-day narratives for the future of war. In the 1960s, one such narrative came to fruition in one of Eisenhower’s defense initiatives: the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). ARPA’s delivery of high-tech, useful technologies combined with the United States’ faulty frame of decrying the “communist threat” in Vietnam meant that Washington continually believed that advanced technology and overwhelming force could ensure a victory.[69] Founded in 1958, ARPA (later adding a “D” for “Defense”) continually put its best talent toward providing technological solutions to the conflict at hand. In 1961, for example, (D)ARPA’s Project Agile was designated for “counterinsurgency research programs in Southeast Asia.” This 13 year-long project included “flamethrowers, the M-16 assault rifle, communications, surveillance, target acquisition, defoliation and psychological warfare.”[70] Likewise, (D)ARPA worked on surveillance aircraft, and ultimately stealth technologies, as well as advanced sensors to populate the Southeast Asian jungle.[71] Much of the sensor, computing, and command and control architecture built in advanced U.S. military laboratories during the Vietnam War continues to push present-day militaries in particular directions. Take, for instance, Gen. Westmoreland’s vision of battle in 1970:
On the battlefield of the future, enemy forces will be located, tracked, and targeted almost instantaneously through the use of data links, computer-assisted intelligence evaluation, and automated fire control.  … I am confident [that] the American people expect this country to take full advantage of its technology—to welcome and applaud the developments that will replace wherever possible the man with the machine [emphasis added].[72]
This is exactly the future of war that was realized not only in the 1991 Gulf War, but in the strategy doctrines of current and past secretaries of defense in the Third Offset Strategy. As former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work remarked, “I'm telling you right now, 10 years from now if the first person through a breach isn’t a friggin’ robot, shame on us.”[73] The lessons from the Korean and Vietnam Wars cannot be overstated. Rigid frames of thinking, as well as the belief that technology and air power would bring conflicts to a quick end, continue to plague U.S. and Western thinking about how to wage war. Past histories of colonialism and nationalism, as well as counterinsurgencies and the fear of Western occupation, still drive many of the beliefs and tactics used by contemporary U.S adversaries. That the United States and the United Kingdom continue to believe that technology will save them from long, entrenched, and bitter war indicates that they lack deep, strategic thinking. Yet, Freedman cannot actually make this case. He fails to link appropriately the end of World War II and the start of the Iraq War in 1991. Without taking account of the strategic rationale of the United States and its allies in Southeast Asia — and the way in which the United States fought these wars and developed technology in order to fight specific kinds of tactical challenges within these conflicts — it is impossible to explain why America and its allies fought the way they did in 1991, or how it is that they failed, and continue to fail, in Afghanistan. This doctrine of “technology saves” has long blinded Western powers. It did not save hundreds of thousands of American lives, or millions of Vietnamese lives, in Vietnam. This is because technology is not value-neutral. It is created for a purpose and a task. Depending upon the task at hand, the ways in which technologies are viewed and used become refined. Thus, the present U.S. Third Offset Strategy, with its focus on artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced materials, and mass over-precision, is indicative of the way the United States looks at how to profitably fight wars against potential adversaries — never mind the countless enabling technologies required for this vision to work, or the belief that one’s adversaries will be equally matched in quality and number. Conclusion If Korea and Vietnam are to provide any lesson, it is that the causes of war provide ample evidence as to how a war ought — or ought not — to be fought. U.S. and allied defeats by the Maoist Chinese forces — forces that were technologically underdeveloped — surprised the United States. However, that surprise was not taken as evidence that technology and tactics needed to change. Instead, it entrenched the view that “there just isn’t enough” of it. Yet again, Freedman fails to examine this case, and by failing to examine it he restricts his own ability to make claims about the future of war. If he believes his own thesis, then he ought to unpack the strategic narratives that unfolded between 1950 and 1990 that he so glaringly omits in his latest book. Dr. Heather Roff is a Senior Research Analyst at the National Security Analysis Department at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and an Associate Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge  She is formerly a Senior Research Scientist at DeepMind, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Politics & International Relations at the University of Oxford, and she has held faculty positions at the University of Waterloo, the University of Denver and the United States Air Force Academy. Her research interests include the law, policy and ethics of emerging military technologies, such as artificial intelligence, autonomy, and robotics. [post_title] => Book Review Roundtable: The Future of War [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => book-review-roundtable-the-future-of-war [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-08-08 11:28:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-08-08 15:28:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?post_type=roundtable&p=657 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => roundtable [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => Sir Lawrence Freedman's latest book, The Future of War, asks why futurists have so often gotten it wrong when it comes to predicting war. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => [style] => roundtable [type] => Book [style_label] => Roundtable [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 75 [1] => 191 [2] => 192 [3] => 136 [4] => 189 [5] => 190 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] For an incisive study of the domestic consequences of war, see Seva Gunitsky, Aftershocks: Great Powers and Domestic Reforms of the Twentieth Century, (Princeton University Press, 2017). [2] Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History (New York: Public Affairs, 2017), 286. [3] Stephen J. Gould, Wonderful Life, (New York: Vintage, 2000), 14. [4] Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War, (New York: Free Press, 1988), 41. [5] Future of War, 10. [6] Future of War, 279. [7] Future of War, 4, 252. [8] C.J. Dunlap, Jr., “How We Lost the High-Tech War of 2007,” Weekly Standard, Jan. 29, 1996. [9] Douglas M. Gibler, Beatrice Heuser, Mara Karlin, Joshua Rovner, and Lawrence Freedman, “Roundtable 10-14 on The Future of War: A History,” H-Diplo/ISSF, May 18, 2018, https://issforum.org/roundtables/10-14-future-of-war. [10] Otto von Bismarck, Horst Kohl, Bismarckreden: 1847-1895 (1899), 255. As quoted in translation in William Roscoe Thayer “Cavour and Bismarck,”  Atlantic (Mar 1909), 103, 343. [11] Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? (London: Scribe, 2017). [12] Douglas M. Gibler, Steven V. Miller, and Erin K. Little, “An Analysis of the Militarized Interstate Dispute (MID) Dataset, 1816–2001,” International Studies Quarterly 60, no. 4 (December 2016), https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqw045. [13] Theodore Sturgeon, Venture 49, September 1957 (for more on Venture, see “Venture,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venture_Science_Fiction). [14] Future of War, 282. [15] Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History (New York: Public Affairs, 2017), xix. [16] Freedman, Future of War, xix. [17] For a detailed analysis of the Cold Start doctrine, see: Walter C. Ladwig III, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army's New Limited War Doctrine,” International Security 32, no. 3. (Winter 2007/08): 158–190, https://www.jstor.org/stable/30130521. [18] Max Boot, Invisible Armies, An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present (New York: Liveright, 2013). [19] For a detailed discussion of the “third offset” see Kathleen Hicks et al., Assessing the Third Offset Strategy, Center for Strategic International Studies, Mar. 16, 2017, https://www.csis.org/analysis/assessing-third-offset-strategy. [20] Aaron L. Friedberg “Competing with China,” Survival 60, no. 3, (2018), https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2018.1470755. [21] “Less Biding and Hiding,” Economist, Dec. 2, 2010, https://www.economist.com/special-report/2010/12/02/less-biding-and-hiding. [22] A fulsome analysis of China’s understanding of Comprehensive National Power can be found in David M. Lampton, The Three Faces of Chinese Power: Might, Money, and Minds, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008). [23] Greg Levesque and Mark Stokes, “Blurred Lines: Military-Civil Fusion and the “Going Out” of China’s Defense Industry,” Pinte Bello, December 2016, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/569925bfe0327c837e2e9a94/t/593dad0320099e64e1ca92a5/1497214574912/062017_Pointe+Bello_Military+Civil+Fusion+Report.pdf. [24] Michael Pillsbury, The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower (New York: Griffin, 2016). [25] Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? (Boston, MA: Mariner Books, 2018). [26] Andrew J. Goodpaster, Reminiscences, Aug. 2, 1967, Oral History Collection of Columbia University, 74. [27] Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), xiv, 607–629. [28] L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between (New York: The New York Review of Books, 1953), 17. [29] Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History (New York: Public Affairs, 2017), 8. [30] Freedman, Future of War, 109–110. [31] Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), 15. [32] Freedman, Future of War, 188–189. [33] Freedman, Future of War, 119. [34] Freedman, Future of War, 279. As Freedman puts it: “By early in the twenty-first century it was apparent that the inherited scripts for future war were inadequate. The US military had clung to an ideal type derived from the classical model and then faced a more unruly form of warfare for which it was poorly prepared and from which it struggled to extricate itself. Their British allies believed that they understood the requirements of Iraq based on their peacekeeping experience of Bosnia and aid to the civil power in Northern Ireland, but their scripts were also inadequate; they found themselves struggling even more than the Americans.” Freedman, The Future of War, 222. [35] Freedman, The Future of War, 18–19. [36] Freedman, The Future of War, 78–80. [37] Freedman, The Future of War, 230, 239. [38] Freedman, The Future of War, 63. [39]Thomas H. Kean and Lee Hamilton, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, 2004), 339. [40] The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017, 25, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. [41] Freedman, The Future of War, 267. [42] One plausible explanation, from H.D.S. Greenway, suggests that the United States was guilty primarily of “wish-casting” or optimistically extrapolating American values. This error predates the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In the mid-19th century, a well-meaning missionary from Tennessee taught the gospel to a young man named Hong Xiuquan. Unfortunately, rather than spreading the Word as intended, Hong became convinced he was the brother of Christ and instigated the long and bloody Taiping Rebellion, leaving tens of millions dead. H.D.S. Greenway, “How the United States always ‘gets China wrong,’” Boston Globe, Apr. 13, 2018, https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/04/12/how-united-states-always-gets-china-wrong/ianuhEbqtbheIIl75Sa2IK/story.html. [43] Freedman, The Future of War, 271–273. [44] Freedman, The Future of War, 286. Consider the National Intelligence Council (NIC)’s latest Global Trends product — an unclassified assessment published every four years to help senior U.S. government leaders understand the global environment over the next two decades — which predicts a near-term transformation of the global landscape. The NIC assessment argues: “The post-Cold War era is giving way to a new strategic context. Recent and future trends will converge during the next 20 years at an unprecedented pace to increase the number and complexity of issues, with several, like cyber attacks, terrorism, or extreme weather, representing risks for imminent disruption.” Director of National Intelligence, Global Trends: Paradox of Progress (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, January 2017), https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/nic/GT-Full-Report.pdf, 7. Similarly, an earlier installment of Global Trends argues the international system is becoming more complex as power diffuses and actors multiply. U.S. National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2025: A World Transformed (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Intelligence Council, 2008), x-xi. See also U.S. Department of Defense, The National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2011: Redefining America’s Leadership (Washington DC: Department of Defense, 2011), 1, 5–6, 16. [45] Freedman, The Future of War, xvii–xix. [46] Due to delusions of invulnerability, belief in the inherent morality of the group’s cause, self-censorship and pressure on dissenters, and the illusion of unanimity, organizations often fail to consider alternative courses of action and employ faulty logic leading to bad decisions and sub-optimal outcomes. Irving L. Janis, Victims of Groupthink (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), 9. [47] Risa A. Brooks, Shaping Strategy: the Civil-Military Politics of Strategic Assessment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), 2, 5, 13. [48] Keren Yarhi-Milo, Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessment of Intentions in International Relations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014). [49] See John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: Norton, 2001); Barry Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain and Germany Between the World Wars (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 7-8, 239; Robert Art, A Grand Strategy for America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003); Colin Elman, “Horses for Courses: Why Not Neorealist Theories of Foreign Policy?” Security Studies 6, no. 1 (Autumn 1996): 7–5; Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: Random House, 1979), 121–122. For a review of the assumption of rationality see David A. Lake, “The State and International Relations,” in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations, ed. Christian Reus-Smit and Duncan Snidal (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 41–61. [50] These factors may include but are not limited to regime type, interest groups, bureaucratic politics, and individual presidential leadership style and personality. For a review of this approach, see Richard Rosecrance and Arthur Stein, eds., The Domestic Bases of Grand Strategy (Ithaca: Cornel University Press, 1993). See also Graham Allison, “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” American Political Science Review 63 (1969): 689–718. [51]Kean and Hamilton, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 425–426. [52] Susan B. Glasser, “The Man Who Got Russia Right,” Foreign Policy, Dec. 23, 2011, http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/12/23/the-man-who-got-russia-right/. See also John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (New York: Penguin, 2011). [53] Carlota Perez, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages (Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar, 2003). [54] Niall Ferguson, The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power (London, Allen Lane: 2017). [55] Rahul Bhatia, “The Inside Story of Facebook's Biggest Setback,” Guardian, May 12, 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/12/facebook-free-basics-india-zuckerberg. [56] Paul Mozur, “Blocked in China, Facebook Is Said to Seek a Shanghai Office,” New York Times, Sept. 6, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/technology/facebook-china-shanghai-office.html. [57] Mike Isaac, “Meet Facebook's Secret Propaganda Arm: The Analog Research Lab,” Wired, May 18, 2012, http://www.wired.com/2012/05/analog-research-lab/. [58] Maria Stracqualursi, “The Rise of the Public Benefit Corporation: Considerations for Start-Ups,” BC LAW LAB, http://bclawlab.org/eicblog/2017/3/21/the-rise-of-the-public-benefit-corporation-considerations-for-start-ups. [59] Dan Primack, “Unilever Buys Dollar Shave Club for $1 Billion,” Fortune, July 20, 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/07/19/unilever-buys-dollar-shave-club-for-1-billion/. [60] Leslie Hook, “Waymo-Uber Trial: What's at Stake?” Financial Times, Feb. 4, 2018, http://www.ft.com/content/be56451a-0862-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5. [61] Gary R. Hess, Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), 14–15. [62] Hess, Presidential Decisions for War, 61. [63] Bruce Cummings, The Korean War: A History (The Modern Library, 2011), 159. [64] Jeffery Ward and Ken Burns, The Vietnam War: An Intimate History (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017), 3. [65] Ward and Burns, The Vietnam War, 3. [66] Historical Office, “Robert McNamara,” United States Office of the Secretary of Defense,  http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571271/robert-s-mcnamara/ [67] Hess, Presidential Decisions for War, 134, 93. [68] “Vietnam War Allied Troop Levels 1960–73,” American War Library, https://www.americanwarlibrary.com/vietnam/vwatl.htm. [69] “Infographic: The Vietnam War: Military Statistics,” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, https://www.gilderlehrman.org/content/infographic-vietnam-war-military-statistics. [70] “History and Timeline,” Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, https://www.darpa.mil/about-us/darpa-history-and-timeline?PP=1. [71] Matt Novak, “How the Vietnam War Brought High-Tech Border Surveillance to America” Gizmodo, September 15, 2015, https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/how-the-vietnam-war-brought-high-tech-border-surveillan-1694647526. [72] Gene I. Rochlin, Trapped in the Net: The Unanticipated Consequences of Compterization (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 200. [73] Cheryl Pellerin, “Work: Human-Machine Teaming Represents Defense Technology Future,” DoD News, Nov. 8, 2015, https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/628154/work-human-machine-teaming-represents-defense-technology-future/. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => Table of Contents [contents] => 1. Introduction: A Strategist at Work, by Kori Schake 2. War May not Be Predictable, but there Are Warning Signs, by Michael Brown and Pavneet Singh 3. The Future of War Ain't What It Used to Be, by Mike Gallagher 4. Technology, the Economy, and the Future of War, by Saku Panditharatne 5. Faulty Frames and Techno-Optimism, by Heather M. Roff ) ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 464 [post_author] => 136 [post_date] => 2018-02-13 04:00:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-13 09:00:34 [post_content] => There is a moment in the 2001 comedy Zoolander when the villain Mugatu, portrayed by a white-haired Will Ferrell, screams as his plan disintegrates: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” One year into my first term in Congress, this captures the mood of defense hawks in general and advocates of seapower in particular. On the one hand, this country has a president who campaigned on expanding the Navy and who signed a National Defense Authorization Act making it U.S. policy to build a 355-ship Navy “as soon as practicable.”[1] Multiple independent reviews commissioned by Congress and the Navy leadership have reaffirmed the strategic necessity of getting to 355 in due haste.[2] But the promised military rebuild has yet to materialize, notwithstanding the Trump administration’s premature claims of “making historic investments in the United States military.”[3] Indeed, Trump’s initial budget request called for a modest 3 percent increase over the wholly inadequate plan of his predecessor.[4] The Pentagon still does not have a 30-year shipbuilding plan that charts a specific course to 355. And given funding challenges and the defense industry’s limited surge capacity, some question whether industry could rapidly deliver the ships.[5] Meanwhile, Congress remains mired in the defense cuts of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and uncertainties over continuing resolutions and long-term spending. The gap between promises and appropriations continues even though the Budget Control Act experiment has clearly failed to force politicians to reach agreement on limiting long-term mandatory spending and has — as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testified before the House Armed Services Committee in June 2017 — done more to harm the U.S. military’s combat readiness than any enemy in the field.[6] Disturbing trends such as the one-third increase in deaths from aviation mishaps in the Marine Corps over the past six years[7] and the fatal collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain illustrate what increased risks associated with degraded readiness can mean for our men and women in uniform.[8] In other words, despite the stated desire of the president, the Navy, and Congress to get to 355 ships, and mounting evidence of the damage done by the recent defense drawdown, the United States is struggling to change course. Even if Congress manages to pass a two-year deal to lift the caps imposed by the Budget Control Act and raise defense spending, the increase is still likely to fall short of what the Pentagon needs to fulfill global requirements,[9] or the increase will rely excessively on Overseas Contingency Operations funding.[10] Even in the best-case scenario, the Pentagon would get a short-term infusion of cash and then muddle along until the Budget Control Act’s defense caps expire in 2021. Put differently, the U.S. is having its Mugatu moment. Policymakers across Washington must be ingesting crazy pills. We are failing in our fundamental constitutional duty to provide for the common defense and maintain the U.S. Navy.[11] Those of us who advocate for a 355-ship Navy have been banging our heads against the wall for more than a year with no end in sight. During posture hearings and the budget cycle, we hear about the threats facing our nation. These hearings do not change much, except that they grow progressively bleaker. It is time to recognize that our arguments are not resonating and to try a different approach. This is my attempt to do just that. As great-power competition returns, both old and new cases for seapower must be made. First, the United States must rediscover and reinforce the geopolitical (i.e., geographic) case for why seapower matters and why it is uniquely important for this country. Second, in support of this effort, the Navy cannot remain silent for the sake of “strategic ambiguity.” Rather, it must develop a new story about what the future fleet will do and how it will differ from today’s fleet, and tell that story loudly and directly to the American people, thereby imposing pressure on Congress and the White House to act.

Great-Power Challenges and Self-Inflicted Wounds

As the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy outlines, the United States is in the midst of long-term strategic competitions with great-power adversaries. Not tomorrow, not in five years, but today. Departing from past policies “based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners,” the new strategy warns that “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.”[12] As a book often cited by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster argues: “the United States is in the midst of a robust competition with its rivals, spread in three key regions of Eurasia. Russia, Iran, and China are eager to revise the order established over the past six decades on the basis of Western political and economic principles and supported by American power.”[13] If these competitors and adversaries perceive weakness or opportunity, they will seek to exploit openings, perhaps even through armed conflict. The Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Robert B. Neller, recently went so far as to say, “I hope I'm wrong, but there's a war coming.”[14] Consider trends in the military balance between the United States and China. The official Chinese military budget expanded on average by about 10 percent in real terms from 2006 through 2015.[15] Over the same period, U.S. defense spending averaged negative real growth of about 0.1 percent.[16] So while U.S. defense spending was about seven times greater than China’s in 2006, by 2015 it was only about three times greater, and this was in the face of more global commitments, less purchasing power parity, and less military concentration near potential hotspots.[17] The People’s Liberation Army-Navy has more than 300 ships — the largest fleet in Asia.[18] In 2016 alone, China commissioned 18 ships, including a guided missile destroyer, three guided missile frigates, and six corvettes.[19] These 18 ships have a displacement of 150,000 tons, or about half that of Britain’s Royal Navy.[20] Growth in the Chinese fleet is not just a numbers game: Beijing is retiring older ships to make room for modern ones as its maritime strategy transitions from “near sea” defense to “far seas” power projection.[21] Meanwhile, as China’s navy grows in capacity and capability, the U.S. fleet is struggling. In the aftermath of last year’s collisions, a series of internal and external reviews have sought to examine their root causes. Even if a line cannot be traced directly from inadequate and unpredictable Navy budgets to these tragedies, the incidents cannot be understood apart from their operational contexts. Adm. Philip Davidson’s Comprehensive Review found that “risks that were taken in the Western Pacific accumulated over time, and did so insidiously.”[22] [quote id="1"] The Navy secretary’s separate review methodically tracked how, in recent decades, the Navy contracted, budgets shrank, and responsibilities grew. Secretary Richard Spencer testified in January 2018 to the House Armed Services Committee, on which I sit, that: “The Strategic Review team concluded that Navy leaders gradually accepted greater risk to accomplish assigned missions. Standards designed for safe and effective operations were relaxed to meet operational and fiscal demands, which led to continuous accumulation of risk.”[23] In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, the “Base Force” proposed a 25 percent reduction in personnel from the 1989 baseline while shifting the Navy’s primary focus from peer-on-peer conflict to contingencies with mid-tier regional powers.[24] The result was a planned fleet of more than 451 ships.[25] Only a few years later, the 1993 Bottom-Up Review reaffirmed a shift away from peer-on-peer conflict and called for a reduced fleet size of 346 ships to focus on power projection, presence, and crisis response.[26] While Congress authorized about 17 ships per year throughout the 1980s, it authorized only five per year on average from 1993 to 2000.[27] This reduction in shipbuilding stressed a smaller fleet at the same time the fleet’s missions were growing.[28] The Navy conducted 49 named operations in the 1980s and 85 in the 1990s, a 73 percent operational increase amid a 25 percent funding cut.[29] This naturally produced maintenance backlogs, manning shortfalls, reduced part availability, and diminished training.[30] Then, as the United States scrambled to respond to the 9/11 attacks, the Navy continued its shift away from peer conflict while operating a shrinking fleet at full tilt. In 2001, the U.S. Navy was 316 ships strong. Although defense budgets grew, driven by war-related spending, the Navy continued scaling down and, by 2009, had only 285 ships.[31] The 2010 Balisle Report found that the wear and tear of a decade of war had taxed this declining fleet to its breaking point, requiring the Navy to retire many ships after 20 or 25 years — well short of their expected 35-year lifespan.[32] In July 2011, then-Vice Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert warned, “I can’t tell you for sure…if we are at an inflection point or a tipping point, but I don’t see how we can sustain this pace of operations indefinitely and meet the readiness standards.”[33] One month later, Congress passed the Budget Control Act and took close to a trillion dollars out of the bipartisan budget path identified by then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates just seven months prior.[34] Since then, the Navy alone has accumulated more than $100 billion in shortfalls between enacted budgets and the Gates plan, generating a readiness crisis throughout the fleet.[35] Compounding the problem, the Defense Department has operated under continuing resolutions for 33 of the past 42 years.[36] Over the past decade alone, it has operated under continuing resolutions an average of 106 days per year — almost 30 percent of that time.[37] In practical terms, this means almost a third of each year has been lost or renegotiated for more than 100,000 contracts across the Department of the Navy.[38] Because contractors factor this uncertainty into their pricing, the cost to taxpayers has gone up. The Navy estimates that inefficiencies associated with continuing resolutions have cost the service $4 billion over the past decade.[39] As Navy Secretary Spencer put it, due to inefficiencies from continuing resolutions, the Navy essentially “put $4 billion in a trash can, poured lighter fluid on it, and burned it.”[40] This is where we defense hawks usually stop. We paint a scary picture of the world, remind everyone of the original sin of the post-Cold War peace dividend, and inveigh against the Budget Control Act while throwing around numbers. At that point, we essentially tell the public that if only the corpse of Ronald Reagan could be reanimated, none of this would be happening. This argument is not working. As the Budget Control Act enters its seventh year, the proof is in the pudding. Our warnings, speeches, and reviews have fallen flat. I suspect this is partly because many who campaign on (or vote for) a strong national defense secretly harbor doubts about how much money the Pentagon really needs. After all, the Pentagon wastes a lot of money and the United States is 17 years into the longest and most costly wars in its history with no end in sight. Yes, there are obvious rejoinders to these concerns: One of the biggest sources of waste is stop-start budgetary dysfunction that creates uncertainty and precludes planning. But more significant is that reflexive criticism of past mistakes has made defense hawks lazy. Put another way, it is easy but ineffective to point to fleet failures and scream for more defense dollars. It is much harder to make a positive and strategic case for seapower. As Seth Cropsey writes in his new book, Seablindness: How Political Neglect Is Choking American Seapower and What to Do, “American seapower needs more than funding. It needs articulate, strategic-minded leadership that can connect national seapower goals with persuasive arguments to achieve them.”[41]

It’s the Geography, Stupid

Making this kind of strategically minded case for seapower begins with an old case: geography. North America remains functionally a continent-size island, one “abundant in natural resources and lacking the competitive political environment of Europe and Asia.”[42] There is no conceivable challenger to American hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. This means that despite the real dangers of domestic terrorism or cyber warfare, any existential threat to the U.S. homeland will come from across the seas.[43] Rear Adm. Alfred Thayer Mahan illustrated this point in his seminal work, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History. Mahan argued that the “geographical position” and “physical conformation” of nations comes with strengths and vulnerabilities. Compared with a nation that has continental boundaries, there is a natural advantage for a nation that is “so situated that it is neither forced to defend itself by land nor induced to seek extension of its territory by way of the land.” In peacetime, this is a blessing for the United States because “[i]ts contour is such as to present few points specially weak from their saliency, and all important parts of the frontiers can be readily attained — cheaply by water, rapidly by rail. The weakest frontier, the Pacific, is far removed from the most dangerous of possible enemies. The internal resources are boundless as compared with present needs.”[44] On the other hand, during wartime American coastlines are vulnerable targets, particularly on the Pacific side, where harbors and port cities (in Mahan’s time) were widely dispersed and lacked adequate fortifications. Mahan feared that if adversaries were able to operate from Pacific island bases they could strike the U.S. coast at will while disrupting U.S. trade routes to Asia.[45] The inevitable conclusion, even for a country as geographically blessed as the United States, is to eschew isolationism and the temptations of hemispheric defense.[46] As Michael Green shows in his review of Mahan’s work, in the Pacific this started with controlling Hawaii and thereby giving the U.S. Navy
flexible internal lines to shift its fleets from one flank to the other for decisive engagements against enemy fleets. In contrast, control of Hawaii by a hostile power would provide a secure coaling station from which to mount attacks on American trade routes to Asia, the vulnerable West Coast, and the canal route to the Gulf Coast and East Coast. As naval officers had begun to appreciate in the Gilded Age, the combination of geography and technology (steam power and steel) meant that forward presence in the Pacific was necessary not only for access to China but now also for defense of the homeland.[47]
Green contends that “Mahan was one of the first strategic thinkers to identify America’s realpolitik interest in preventing the rise of any rival hegemonic power from within continental Asia.”[48] Adm. James Stavridis argues that the strategic concept underlying Mahan’s work is
the ability of a nation to use sea power to ultimately contain powerful nations that have concentrated their use of forces ashore, ignoring the sea out of lack of interest, or an inability to see the force of the sea power argument, or simply because they lack the geography, character, and political will to exploit the oceans.[49]
Owing in part to Mahan’s influence, America’s core geostrategic goal has stayed remarkably consistent since World War II: The United States has forward-deployed forces to deter potential aggressors from attempting hegemony in Europe or Northeast Asia. As the 20th-century American strategist Nicholas Spykman wrote, “our constant concern in peace time must be to see that no nation or alliance of nations is allowed to emerge as a dominating power in either of the two regions of the Old World from which our security could be threatened.”[50] To this end, America has defended forward, manning a series of ramparts along the Eurasian littoral from Western Europe, through the Middle East, to East Asia. America’s core strategic positioning along the Eurasian littoral follows Spykman’s logic of the “Rimland.” Spykman took the maritime strategic worldview of Mahan and paired it with Mackinder to develop his analysis of the centrality of the Rimland, which he viewed as the crucial “zone of conflict between sea power and land power.”[51] The Rimland encompasses what are now viewed as critical strategic locations: Western Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia.[52] Spykman summarized his views by saying “Who controls the Rimland, rules Eurasia; who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world.”[53] Spykman’s writings on the centrality of the Rimland to world politics are often paired with those of Halford Mackinder, a British strategist prominent around the turn of the 20th century. Mackinder also conceived of grand strategy through geographic terms, but he favored land power. He described how the Eurasian “Heartland” of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia — part of a broader “World Island” containing more than half of the planet’s natural resources — was the “pivot” around which global power turned. Thus Mackinder’s alternative formulation: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island commands the world.”[54] [quote id="2"] The Cold War, in a sense, was the ultimate showdown between Spykman and Mackinder. The United States and the free-world coalition enjoyed a considerable advantage along the Eurasian Rimland. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, tightly controlled the Eurasian Heartland. Cold War strategists conceived of Europe as a peninsula, surrounded by the Baltic and North Seas on one flank and the Mediterranean on the other. This quintessential Rimland strategy meant that the United States and its NATO allies counted on a decisive advantage in the maritime domain. While the NATO allies could afford rough parity — and even conventional inferiority — with the Soviets on land, as long as NATO maintained maritime superiority it could threaten the Soviets on their vulnerable flanks.[55] Since the United States was physically separated from its allies, as well as the most likely theater of battle, supplies and reinforcements would have to travel over the high seas.[56] Mere naval parity, therefore, would not mean stalemate but slaughter for allied forces in Europe.[57] Seapower was not a sideshow to the battle on the central front because only a decisive advantage at sea could guarantee the safe and timely arrival of American military might to defend Europe. Throughout the Cold War, command of the seas provided administrations of both parties options to reassure allies, deter aggression, and take action without resorting to kinetic force. When mainland Chinese Communist forces began shelling Chinese Nationalist forces on Quemoy in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower was able to reject the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s recommendation to use tactical nuclear weapons against China and, instead, sent the Seventh Fleet to evacuate 15,000 of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces and 20,000 civilians from the Tachens island chain while securing a congressional authorization to use force in defense of Formosa (Taiwan).[58] When U.S. reconnaissance confirmed that the Soviets were deploying medium-range nuclear missiles to Cuba in 1962, President John F. Kennedy chose a naval “quarantine” and bought time to negotiate, rejecting the preference of his national security adviser and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs for airstrikes.[59] And when an Arab coalition attacked Israel in 1973, President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger not only put the United States on global military alert but also surged a third carrier task force to reinforce the Sixth Fleet in its dangerous confrontation with the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron, thereby deterring Leonid Brezhnev from more aggressive action.[60]

Back to the Future

Some might suggest that this geopolitical case for seapower is obsolete. As President Obama quipped when debating Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”[61] Implicit in Obama’s retort was a sense that the complexities of the present day and advances in technology obviate the lessons of geography and make Cold War instruments of national power less relevant.[62] Yet even in the Internet age, 90 percent of global trade travels by sea, and American goods and services trade with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies totaled almost $3 trillion in 2016.[63] Furthermore, 40 percent of the world’s population lives within 62 miles of a coast,[64] the Pacific Ocean alone is bigger than all of the combined land on Earth,[65] and almost all of the world’s transoceanic data traffic is dependent on fiber-optic cables at the bottom of the ocean.[66] As Robert Kaplan argues, while technology may have neutralized America’s geographic position to some extent, this diffusion of technology creates even greater vulnerabilities than those identified by Mahan. Technological advances have
only deepened American involvement and influence around the globe. We remain an immense continent but in an increasingly smaller and interconnected world, so that we are, more and more, vulnerable to everything from global financial disruptions to violent ideological movements…it is simply impossible for us to escape from the geopolitical intimacy of the twenty-first -century world. What all of this amounts to is something stark: America is fated to lead. That is the judgment of geography as it has played out over the past two and a half centuries.[67]
In such an environment the U.S. Navy plays a unique role sustaining maritime order, providing the world with the “primary geopolitical good” of securing the global commons. As Kaplan puts it: “While our land forces are for unpredictable contingencies, our sea and air forces secure the global commons. The navy is our away team: its operations tempo around the world is the same, whether in peacetime or wartime.”[68] Thus, Mahan’s logic is still relevant and the geographical case for seapower endures. As it did during the Cold War, the United States depends on command of the seas to facilitate its transoceanic alliances. Furthermore, the theories of Spykman and Mackinder are again playing out on the world stage. The United States and its allies lead a Rimland coalition against autocratic aggressors. Today, however, our most difficult challenger is not a Heartland power but a Rimland state. The sea-facing geography of Chinese power compounds the challenge to our transoceanic alliance and makes command of the seas more difficult than when we faced the Soviets. While maritime superiority was the implicit foundation of U.S. defense strategy during the Cold War, on the operational level the U.S. Navy focused on power projection and hitting the vulnerable Soviet flanks. Today, while power projection would be critical in a war against China, the growing capability of China’s navy means the United States would have to establish sea control in the Indo-Asia-Pacific before the hammer of American power projection could be brought to bear. This shifting operational focus — from power projection to sea control — makes a balanced and powerful naval force structure more important than ever. If the Navy is not able to establish sea control where and when it is needed, U.S. power projection forces would face difficulties even entering the fight. After all, U.S. allies and forward-deployed assets are still oceans away from reinforcement. In a future conflict, forces based in the continental United States would not be able to swiftly arrive in theater without decisive maritime superiority. And time will not be on our side: Global pressure to end the conflict before it escalates further would be intense — even if doing so meant locking in Chinese gains.[69] The longer it takes for decisive American forces to fight their way across the Pacific, the more likely it is that a conflict could be settled on unfavorable terms. As Spykman warned more than 70 years ago, advances in technology and communication mean that the oceans buffering the United States
are not barriers but highways. [A] balance of power in the transatlantic and transpacific zones is an absolute prerequisite for the independence of the New World and the preservation of the power position of the United States. There is no safe defensive position on this side of the oceans. Hemispheric defense is no defense at all.[70]
Spykman’s fundamental insight — that if unified under a single hegemon or an unfriendly alliance of great powers, the Eurasian landmass would effectively encircle North America — becomes more relevant each day as China continues its naval modernization and island construction campaign, as Russia continues its aggression against the United States and our allies, and as rogue actors such as Iran and North Korea threaten regional security. And his fundamental challenge — that America must have unquestioned command of the seas to vigorously defend interests and allies in the Eurasian Rimland — becomes more difficult each day the rebuilding of the U.S. naval fleet is delayed. Mere parity in the maritime domain is a recipe for wartime defeat. Maritime dominance — a navy capable of decisive fleet action near the enemy’s home waters that can win quickly — is essential not just for winning future wars but also for preventing them in the first place.

Speak Loudly in Order to Carry a Big Stick

Even if defense hawks in Congress start making such a strategic case for seapower, we will need the help of the Navy and the president. This is true in part because the Navy has much higher approval ratings and trust among the public than Congress does, and because none of us can match the president’s megaphone.[71] In some respects, the right notes are being sounded. There is talk of expanding the fleet and of restoring readiness.[72] The new National Defense Strategy discusses “emerging from a period of strategic atrophy” and re-orienting the military around the primary concern of “[i]nter-state strategic competition, not terrorism.”[73] Yet the tragedies of the past year, and our collective response, suggest that something is still wrong.[74] I am reminded of Andrew Gordon’s masterful book The Rules of the Game, about the decline of the Royal Navy before the Battle of Jutland.[75] As technology advanced in the century between the Battle of Trafalgar and World War I, the Royal Navy seemed to be adapting. It converted from sail to steam and constructed a fleet that captured public imagination. New classes such as dreadnoughts and battlecruisers stood ready to defend the empire should the German High Seas Fleet sally forth. Yet out of public view, something was wrong. Officers of the Royal Navy had failed to appreciate the ways in which their doctrines of war at sea needed to change because of technological innovations. They failed to appreciate the ways that their adversary’s capabilities had caught up to their own. And, most dangerous of all, some viewed their tradition as part of their armor, succumbing to the illusion that generations of British mastery of the seas guaranteed future British mastery of the seas. As Gordon put it, “They thought they were good, but in ways that mattered, they were not. They thought they were ready for war, but they were not.”[76] The Royal Navy paid for this with about 6,000 British lives at Jutland. It lost eight destroyers, three cruisers, and three battlecruisers that just hours before had been the pride of the fleet.[77] One of those battlecruisers, HMS Invincible, sank after just 90 seconds of fire from German ships.[78] To avoid a similar fate, and to complement the geopolitical case for seapower in general, the U.S. Navy needs to tell a new story about what it will do with 355 ships and how this future fleet will differ from today’s. Strategy is, after all, a type of script, or a “story told in the future tense.”[79] It is not enough to talk vaguely about overall numbers and new technologies. The usual talking points and generic warnings of risk have left the Navy seven years into the Budget Control Act and more than three decades removed from the last major naval recapitalization. What’s needed is a specific and compelling sense of how the Navy would operate in the Eurasian Rimland, how its warfighting doctrines would change, how its culture is likely to evolve, and how it can ensure that technology would not become a crutch.[80] Without proper funding, no amount of introspection will heal the Navy. But the Navy needs to do more than craft a new case for seapower in the 21st century; it also needs to tell that story directly to the American people. I worry that the Navy is headed in the wrong direction in this regard. I read with great concern public reporting of a memo from last March that focused on a “less is more” approach to strategic communications.[81] This would be a catastrophic mistake. While it might have been true once that “loose lips sink ships,” nonexistent strategic communications today can sink entire navies.[82] If the bias is toward silence to prevent adversaries from finding out about unique capabilities or potential weaknesses, then there will never be a public constituency for acquiring those capabilities or mitigating those weaknesses. (And U.S. adversaries already have a decent idea of what our Navy is up to.)[83] The Navy has done public diplomacy well in the past. During the height of the Cold War, the Navy’s nuclear missile submarine program adopted the slogan “41 for Freedom,” and each of the 41 ballistic missile submarines commissioned from 1959 to 1967 was named after a historical figure who had contributed to our nation. The Navy invested in videos, posters, and media relations to publicize the missions and importance of the ships throughout their service lives. These ships captured popular imagination in a visceral way. Proud veterans groups still celebrate the 41 for Freedom.[84] [quote id="3"] The Navy again needs to tell its story in a new way that inspires popular action. The Navy has advocates and allies across the country, from Congress to newspaper editorial pages to Legion and VFW halls. This coalition needs to be mobilized to create a groundswell of public support and political pressure. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents about key Navy priorities the same way we hear about domestic issues such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or health-care reform. More people need to be part of the conversation about the future U.S. fleet and how it will keep this country safe and prosperous. This will not be easy. I am new to elected office, and I still hear daily from my constituents about what is on their minds. Although they would rather talk about Aaron Rodgers than Nicholas Spykman, I believe they would be open to a strategic case for seapower — and higher defense budgets — if that case were made powerfully. Recent Chicago Council polling on “What Americans Think About America First” found some interesting attitudes among core Trump voters, who are often perceived as being outside the post-World War II consensus.[85] While core Trump supporters profess skepticism that the U.S. benefits from its alliance system, they are more supportive than other subgroups about increasing the U.S. military footprint abroad in defense of those alliances.[86] For example, 21 percent of core Trump supporters favor increasing America’s military presence in the Asia-Pacific compared with 13 percent of all  respondents. This is not a segment espousing only isolationism, and the reaction seems more proactive than a reflexive Jacksonian response to foreign aggression.[87] To the extent that Trump supporters want a larger military presence in that region, it is for extended deterrence. This suggests a broader awareness of America’s responsibility to maintain stability on foreign shores in order to protect our continental island. Yet even if this instinctive awareness exists, only strategic-minded leadership can translate it into 355 ships. Advocates for American seapower have effectively skipped that step. We have long assumed that our audience shares our understanding of why an unquestioned Navy is critical. Rather than trying to scare the public into accepting certain fleet numbers (and implicitly taking others’ word for it), we need to focus more on explaining why getting to 355 ships is so important and what strategic and operational risks our nation runs if it fails to do so. After all, budgets are tight, our country’s debt is out of control, and 355 might seem like an arbitrary number. Yet as this analysis shows, there is nothing arbitrary about the Navy’s requirement for more ships, nor optional about America’s role in the world and on the seas. History offers a sobering lesson: When hostile nations have threatened U.S. interests and allies, they often did so by projecting power across the seas. Today, it might be easy to think, “Well of course Hitler lost. Of course the U.S. defeated Japan. Of course the Berlin Wall fell.” But the totalitarians of the 20th century were not destined to lose. Freedom’s triumph was not preordained. It took men and women of good faith and courage to win the peace. And it took a lot of strong ships manned by brave sailors and Marines. We who have inherited that legacy cannot fail in our duty. Every day sailors around the world are carrying out their missions, deterring conflict and enforcing the rules the United States created to our benefit. And too often, that service is taken for granted. Americans fly flags and thank veterans for their service, but it takes tragedy to remind us of the cost of liberty. Getting to a 355-ship Navy is about giving U.S. warfighters the best tools they can possibly have to accomplish the mission and come home safe. To this end, the strategic case must be made for seapower, both old and new; building a fleet strong enough to secure the peace; and passing the torch of maritime superiority to the next generation.  Mike Gallagher represents Wisconsin’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where he is a member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. Prior to Congress, Mike served in the Marine Corps for seven years as a Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence Officer and Regional Affairs Officer for the Middle East/North Africa, earning the rank of Captain. He deployed twice to Al Anbar Province, Iraq and worked for three years in the intelligence community, including tours at the National Counterterrorism Center and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Mike also served as the lead Republican staffer for Middle East, North Africa and Counterterrorism on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, Mike went on to earn a master’s degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University, a second in Strategic Intelligence from National Intelligence University, and his PhD in International Relations from Georgetown. ISSN (Print): 2576-1021 ISSN(Online): 2576-1153 Image: U.S. Navy [post_title] => Changing Course: Making the Case (Old and New) for American Seapower [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => changing-course-making-case-old-new-american-seapower [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-03 18:28:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-03 22:28:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=464 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => In order to build the 355-ship Navy the United States needs, we will have to tell a new, and more compelling, story. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 1, Iss 2 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => While U.S. defense spending was about seven times greater than China’s in 2006, by 2015 it was only about three times greater. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Mere naval parity, therefore, would not mean stalemate but slaughter for allied forces in Europe. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => It is not enough to talk vaguely about overall numbers and new technologies. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 560 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 136 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018,” U.S. Congress, https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2810/text. Mark Cancian, “Trump Proffers Pentagon Specifics: $60B More to Boost Troops, Ships,” Breaking Defense, Sept. 8, 2016, https://breakingdefense.com/2016/09/trump-proffers-pentagon-specifics-60b-more-to-boost-troops-ships/. [2] Sam LaGrone and Megan Eckstein, “Navy Wants to Grow Fleet to 355 Ships; 47 Hull Increase Adds Destroyers, Attack Subs,” USNI News, Dec. 19, 2016, https://news.usni.org/2016/12/16/navy-wants-grow-fleet-355-ships-47-hull-increase-previous-goal. Adm. John Richardson, “The Future Navy,” May 17, 2017, https://news.usni.org/2017/05/17/document-chief-of-naval-operations-white-paper-the-future-navy. See also the congressional-directed outside reviews: Bryan Clark, et al., Restoring American Seapower: A New Fleet Architecture for the United States Navy (Washington: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2017), http://csbaonline.org/uploads/documents/CSBA6292-Fleet_Architecture_Study_REPRINT_web.pdf. Mitre Corporation, Navy Future Fleet Platform Architecture Study (McLean: Mitre Corporation, July 1, 2016), https://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/1a3e3a4e-6c97-42fb-bec5-a482cf4d4d85/mintre-navy-future-fleet-platform-architecture-study.pdf. [3] National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf [hereafter: Trump National Security Strategy]. [4] Travis J. Tritten, “Mac Thornberry: Trump Defense Budget Follows ‘Obama Approach,’” Washington Examiner, May 22, 2017, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/mac-thornberry-trump-defense-budget-follows-obama-approach/article/2623812. [5] Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Trump’s 355-Ship Fleet Will Take Til 2050s,” Breaking Defense, Oct. 26, 2017, https://breakingdefense.com/2017/10/trumps-355-ship-fleet-will-take-til-2050s/. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the fastest 355 ships can be achieved is by 2032. See Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “355-Ship Navy Take At least 18 Years: CBO,” Breaking Defense, April 25, 2017, https://breakingdefense.com/2017/04/355-ship-navy-takes-at-least-18-years-cbo/. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer testified to the House Armed Services Committee in January 2018 that the Navy would submit a 30-year shipbuilding plan along with the Fiscal 2019 budget. But as of this writing, more than one year into the Trump administration, there is still no specific vision from the administration of how it proposes to grow the fleet to 355 ships. Megan Eckstein, “Navy FY 2019 Budget Request Will Include a 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan,” U.S. Naval Institute, Jan. 18, 2018, https://news.usni.org/2018/01/18/navy-fy-2019-budget-request-will-include-30-year-shipbuilding-plan. [6] “Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis House Armed Services Committee Written Statement for the Record,” House of Representatives, June 12, 2017, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AS/AS00/20170612/106090/HHRG-115-AS00-Bio-MattisJ-20170612.pdf. [7] Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Marine Aviation Deaths Are Six Times Navy’s,” Breaking Defense, Sept. 25, 2017, https://breakingdefense.com/2017/09/marine-aviation-deaths-are-six-times-navys/. [8] Mackenzie Eaglen, “America’s New Deadliest War Is Hiding in Plain Sight,” Real Clear Defense, Sept. 7, 2017, https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/09/07/americas_new_deadliest_war_is_hiding_in_plain_sight_112244.html. [9] Mackenzie Eaglen, “How to Repair and Rebuild America’s Military,” National Interest, Oct. 24, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-repair-rebuild-americas-military-22889. [10] Mackenzie Eaglen, “Budget Deal: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (…2013),” Breaking Defense, Dec. 19, 2017, https://breakingdefense.com/2017/12/budget-deal-its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-christmas-2013/. [11] Mackubin Owens, “Navy Clause,” in Heritage Guide to the Constitution, accessed January 16, 2018, https://www.heritage.org/constitution/articles/1/essays/53/navy-clause. [12] Trump National Security Strategy, 2-3. [13] Jakub J. Grygiel and A. Wess Mitchell, The Unquiet Frontier: Rising Rivals, Vulnerable Allies, and the Crisis of American Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), 188. On McMaster’s use of the book see Uri Friedman, “The World According to H.R. McMaster,” Atlantic, Jan. 9, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/hr-mcmaster-trump-north-korea/549341/. [14] Bradford Betz, “’There’s a War Coming,’ Marine Corps General Warns US Troops,” Fox News, Dec. 23, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/12/23/theres-war-coming-marine-corps-general-warns-us-troops.html. [15] Terri Moon Cronk, “DoD Report: China’s Military Investments Continue,” DoD News, Defense Media Activity, May 13, 2016, https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/759522/dod-report-chinas-military-investments-continue/. [16] Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), National Defense Budget Estimates for FY 2018 (August 2017), 140-41, http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2018/FY18_Green_Book.pdf [hereafter: OUSD(C) Budget Estimates FY18]. [17] Moon Cronk, “China’s Military Investments Continue.” See also OUSD(C) Budget Estimates FY18, 140-41, and “Military expenditure by country,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2017, 11, https://sipri.org/sites/default/files/Milex-constant-2015-USD.pdf. [18] Office of the Secretary of Defense, Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016 (Washington: Department of Defense, April 26, 2016), 25, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2016 China Military Power Report.pdf. [19] Ronald O’Rourke, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress (Washington: Congressional Research Service, Dec. 13, 2017), 3, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33153.pdf. [20] O’Rourke, China Naval Modernization. [21] Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt (Ret.), Becoming a Great “Maritime Power”: A Chinese Dream (Arlington: Center for Naval Analysis, June 2016), v, https://www.cna.org/cna_files/pdf/IRM-2016-U-013646.pdf. David A. Shlapak, et al., A Question of Balance: Political Context and Military Aspects of the China-Taiwan Dispute (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2009), 89, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG888.pdf. Ministry of National Defense, 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review (Taipei City: Republic of China, March 2017), 22, http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/tdnswp/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/2017-Taiwan-Quadrennial-Defense-Review-QDR.pdf. [22]Adm. P.S. Davidson, Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Force Incidents (Norfolk: U.S. Fleet Forces Command, 2017), 9, https://news.usni.org/2017/11/02/document-navy-comprehensive-review-surface-forces. [23] Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, statement to U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Jan. 18, 2018, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AS/AS03/20180118/106784/HHRG-115-AS03-Wstate-SpencerR-20180118.pdf. [24] Hon. Michael Bayer, Adm. Gary Roughead (Ret.), et al., Strategic Readiness Review 2017 (Washington: Department of the Navy, Dec. 3, 2017), 10, http://s3.amazonaws.com/CHINFO/SRR+Final+12112017.pdf. [25] Strategic Readiness Review, 10. [26] Strategic Readiness Review, 11. [27] Strategic Readiness Review, 12. [28] Strategic Readiness Review, 12. [29] Strategic Readiness Review, 11-12. [30] Strategic Readiness Review, 12. [31] Ronald O'Rourke, “Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, Dec. 22, 2017, 130, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RL32665.pdf. [32] Strategic Readiness Review, 14. [33] U.S. Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, “Total Force Readiness: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Readiness,” July 26, 2011, 7, https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg68163/pdf/CHRG-112hhrg68163.pdf. [34] The Fiscal 2012 Gates budget, in the words of the Strategic Readiness Review, was “the last time the Navy had sufficient resources to operate at its present levels without having to markedly decrease funding for ships, weapons and aircraft procurement, equipment modernization, shore infrastructure, and the maintenance backlog.” Strategic Readiness Review, 55. [35] Strategic Readiness Review, 55. [36] Strategic Readiness Review, 58. [37] O’Rourke, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans, 44. [38] O’Rourke, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans, 44. [39] O’Rourke, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans, 44. [40] Katherine Blakeley, “It’s Time for a Grand Budget Bargain to Save the Pentagon,” War on the Rocks, Dec. 21, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/12/time-grand-budget-bargain-save-pentagon/ [41] Seth Cropsey, Seablindness: How Political Neglect Is Choking American Seapower and What to Do (New York: Encounter Books, 2017), 270. John Lehman highlights this same point in his memoirs. To build Reagan’s 600-ship Navy it was necessary to make a strategy-first argument from which requirements and fleet size naturally flowed. John F. Lehman, Command of the Seas (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1988), 121, 115-60. [42] Grygiel and Mitchell, Unquiet Frontier, 18. [43] See Lehman, Command of the Seas, 119. “The free world is an oceanic coalition. It follows, therefore, that the free world coalition must have unquestioned superiority on the seas if overall strategic parity is to exist — parity at the nuclear level, and inferiority in the size of land force balanced by superiority at sea. We must be sure we can use the oceans in peace and in war if we are to survive.” [44] Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (New York: Barnes and Noble, 2004), 30, 43. [45] Michael J. Green, By More Than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific Since 1783 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), 80-81. [46] Grygiel and Mitchell, Unquiet Frontier, 17-20. [47] Green, More Than Providence, 80-81. [48] Green, More Than Providence, 81. [49] Mahan, Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 432-33. [50] Nicholas J. Spykman, The Geography of the Peace (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1944), 34. [51] Spykman, Geography of the Peace, 41. [52] “The importance of these states is not measured in their physical size, power, or wealth but in the real estate that they occupy. Roughly speaking, they compose a narrow belt that runs from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea in Europe, through the Levant and Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean and up through littoral Asia to the Sea of Japan. What happens to these states in coming years will have a disproportionate impact on the shape of the twenty-first century.” Grygiel and Mitchell, Unquiet Frontier, 163. [53] Spykman, Geography of the Peace, 43. Bryan McGrath recently argued in these pages that “no other aspect of military power is as closely connected with prosperity [as seapower]. This symbiotic relationship between seapower and prosperity was bluntly stated centuries ago by Sir Walter Raleigh: ‘[W]hosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.’ American seapower apostle Alfred Thayer Mahan packaged this view more diplomatically for statesmen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, though no less emphatically.” Bryan McGrath, “The National Security Strategy’s Implications for Seapower,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 1, (2017), https://tnsr.org/roundtable/policy-roundtable-make-trumps-national-security-strategy/ - essay8. [54] Halford Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction (National Defense University Press, 1996), 106. [55] Cropsey, Seablindness, 72. [56] Lehman, Command of the Seas, 119. [57] Lehman, Command of the Seas, 119. [58] The authorization also explicitly included the Pescadores islands but left the fate of Quemoy and Matsu ambiguous. Jean Edward Smith, Eisenhower in War and Peace (New York: Random House, 2012), 655-59. [59] Gordon M. Goldstein, Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam (New York: Henry Holt, 2008), 72-5. See also “The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962,” State Department Office of the Historian, accessed January 16, 2018, https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis. [60] John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 311; Henry Kissinger, Years of Upheaval (Boston: Little, Brown, 1982), 575-91. [61] Glenn Kessler, “Flashback: Obama’s Debate Zinger on Romney’s ‘1980s’ Foreign Policy (Video),” Washington Post, March 20, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/03/20/flashback-obamas-debate-zinger-on-romneys-1980s-foreign-policy/. [62] On the “temptation of technology,” see Grygiel and Mitchell, Unquiet Frontier, 20-5. [63] Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, “U.S.-APEC Bilateral Trade and Investment,” accessed Jan. 24, 2018, https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/japan-korea-apec/apec/us-apec-trade-facts# [64] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “Percentage of Total Population Living in Coastal Areas,” accessed Jan. 16, 2018, http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/natlinfo/indicators/methodology_sheets/oceans_seas_coasts/pop_coastal_areas.pdf. [65] Adm. James Stavridis, Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans (New York: Penguin, 2017), 15. [66] Nicole Starosielski, “In Our Wi-Fi World, the Internet Still Depends on Undersea Cables,” The Conversation, Nov. 3, 2015, https://theconversation.com/in-our-wi-fi-world-the-internet-still-depends-on-undersea-cables-49936. See also Magnus Nordenman, “Russian Subs Are Sniffing Around Transatlantic Cables. Here’s What to Do About It,” Defense One, Jan. 17, 2018, http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/01/russian-subs-are-sniffing-around-transatlantic-cables-heres-what-do-about-it/145241/. [67] Robert D. Kaplan, Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America’s Role in the World (New York: Random House, 2017), 138. [68] Kaplan, Earning the Rockies, 131. [69] Jan Van Tol, et al., AirSea Battle: A Point-of-Departure Operational Concept (Washington: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2010), xii, http://csbaonline.org/research/publications/airsea-battle-concept/publication. [70] Spykman, Geography of the Peace, 457. [71]  Domenico Montanaro, “Here’s Just How Little Confidence Americans Have in Political Institutions,” National Public Radio, Jan. 17, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/01/17/578422668/heres-just-how-little-confidence-americans-have-in-political-institutions. [72] “Prepared Remarks of the Honorable Thomas Modly, Undersecretary of the Navy: Formal Swearing in Ceremony,” U.S. Navy, Jan. 5, 2018, http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/01/11/swearing-in-of-thomas-modly-under-secretary-of-the-navy/. [73] Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America (Washington: Department of Defense, January 2018), 1, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf. [74] The Strategic Readiness Review did identify, as one of its four broad recommendations, the need for the Navy to become a true learning organization. “Navy history is replete with reports and investigations that contain like findings regarding past collisions, groundings, and other operational incidents. The repeated recommendations and calls for changes belie the belief that the Navy always learns from its mistakes. Navy leadership at all levels must foster a culture of learning and create the structures and processes that fully embrace this commitment.” Strategic Readiness Review, 5. [75] Andrew Gordon, The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1996). [76] Gordon, Rules of the Game, 594. [77] United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, “Battle of Jutland Centenary,” accessed Jan. 23, 2018, https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/features/jutland-100. [78] Adm. Sir Philip Jones, “First Sea Lord’s Remarks Ahead of the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland,” United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, May 19, 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/first-sea-lords-remarks-ahead-of-the-centenary-of-the-battle-of-jutland. [79] Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), xiv, 607-29. [80] In fact, it is possible that due to enemy disruptions in communications, electronics, and connectivity, parts of the wars of tomorrow may be fought with less technology than the wars of the recent past. For a non-naval analysis of overreliance on revolutions in military affairs, see the transcript “Harbingers of Future War: Implications for the Army With Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 4, 2016, https://www.csis.org/analysis/harbingers-future-war-implications-army-lieutenant-general-hr-mcmaster. [81] Barbara Starr, “Admiral Warns Staff Against Talking Too Freely,” CNN, March 8, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/08/politics/admiral-warns-navy-of-speaking-freely/index.html. See also Christopher P. Cavas, “Does the US Navy Have a Strategy Beyond Hope?” Defense News, Jan. 4, 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/surface-navy-association/2018/01/04/does-the-us-navy-have-a-strategy-beyond-hope/. [82] Also, there is no single individual in charge of unified communications across the Navy and Marine Corps. See Bryan McGrath, “Reforming the Navy Secretariat: Bureaucratic Requirements to Achieve a Vision of American Seapower,” Information Dissemination, Jan. 26, 2016, http://www.informationdissemination.net/2016/01/reforming-navy-secretariat-bureaucratic.html. [83] On the other hand, it’s also possible that the Navy is too open in discussion of some programs and initiatives. As Bryan McGrath put it, “There is no doubt in my mind that the Navy is ‘oversharing’. There is also no doubt in my mind that it is ‘undersharing’. There is furthermore, no doubt in my mind that the Navy is ‘inefficiently-sharing’. The plain truth is that the Navy is incapable of figuring this out because it is not organized to address it.” Bryan McGrath, “On the Navy and Oversharing,” Information Dissemination, April 6, 2017, http://www.informationdissemination.net/2017/04/on-navy-and-oversharing.html. [84] Erica Buell, “41 for Freedom,” Submarine Force Library and Museum Association, Aug. 11, 2017, http://ussnautilus.org/blog/41-for-freedom/. See also “41 for Freedom: Polaris Submarines 2088,” YouTube video published Oct. 22, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PAmEFrzQdk&t=931s. [85] Dina Smeltz, et al., “What Americans Think About America First,” Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 2017, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/ccgasurvey2017_what_americans_think_about_america_first.pdf. [86] Smeltz, “What Americans Think About America First,” 12, 33. [87] Walter Russell Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt,” Hudson Institute, Jan. 20, 2017, https://www.hudson.org/research/13258-the-jacksonian-revolt. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [post_count] => 2 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 657 [post_author] => 75 [post_date] => 2018-08-07 13:08:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-07 17:08:39 [post_content] =>

1. Introduction: A Strategist at Work

By Kori Schake I love the concept of Lawrence Freedman’s The Future of War: A History. Freedman looks at how individuals in the past have expected conflicts to unfold, and explores why they so frequently — and often spectacularly — got it wrong. It’s a terrific prism through which to see how little the present has to say about the future. Freedman is the very best kind of tour guide, convivial and informative, seeding well-known stories with unexpected facts to savor. The chapter headings alone jostle the imagination as they trace the evolution of thinking about war, highlighting Freedman’s ability to harness examples from newspapers of the 1890s, Walt Whitman’s lamentations of the infringement of war on civilian populations, movies about the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and Los Angeles gang wars — a domestic example of low-level insurgencies that fray governance in urban settings. Futurists of warfare suffer from the same failures of imagination that frequently shackle their brethren in other professions: They overemphasize present trends and assume that their society’s cultural norms will similarly bind their adversaries.[1] Futurists are often mistaken in their predictions because they draw straight-line projections from current data. As Freedman writes, projections are “about the present as much as about the future.”[2]  Projecting accurately into the future requires imagining discontinuous behavior — wars that decimate China’s economic development, or perhaps propel it; breakthroughs in technology that radically reshape the supply and demand curves for energy; dramatic reversals of public attitudes that expand or contract the political space. Perhaps predictors of war read too much history and not enough evolutionary biology. Stephen J. Gould’s idea of contingent evolution may fit intellectual development even better than it does the process of natural selection.[3] Gould posits that in any scenario there are many potential trajectories, perhaps even many diversions from the current path, yet people tend to draw a straight line from the starting point to the current location —  they don’t account for dead ends or butterfly routes that meander. Nature and strategy may be more profligate in their development than straight lines capture. The Decisive Battle Narrative But if futurists have it wrong by projecting current trends forward in time, those who believe in victory stemming from a decisive battle have it wrong because they project nostalgically into the past. They imagine a mystical time when armies formed and fought, and durable political settlements were struck as the dust from the battle settled. Military professionals festooned with breakthrough technologies and unhindered by politicians’ interference dictated the plans and produced politically salient results with a minimum of civilian casualties. It’s a delight to see Freedman tackle the mistaken expectation of a decisive battle in his enormous body of work. If Geoffrey Blainey is right that Occam’s Razor shears away all other explanations of why states go to war, leaving only that they believe they can win, Freedman’s corollary is that strategists wrongly anticipate one key conflict that will decide the fate of the war.[4] In his previous work, Strategy: A History, Freedman traces that mistaken theory of conflict to the Napoleonic Wars, where strategists focused on Jena and Waterloo rather than the grueling Iberian and Russian campaigns. In The Future of War, he uses the 1870 Battle of Sedan between Germany and France to pound the last nails into a coffin he’s been constructing across much of his work in the past fifteen years. Freedman instead supplants decisiveness with duration as the critical factor in war, “because if the enemy proved to be resilient then over time non-military factors would become progressively more important.”[5] This is the essential lesson of his book: Efforts to strike the first blow “were not taken as warnings of the folly and futility of aggression, but instead of how the unwary might get caught.”[6] In reality, according to Freedman, the ability to absorb a surprise attack and draw out a war — what in Eisenhower administration debates about national security policy was discussed as broken-back warfare — is the winning strategy. It is, however, a lesson triumphalists of decisive battles from Austerlitz to the American shock and awe theory of war have had to relearn with depressing regularity. What makes Freedman’s latest book, and so much of Freedman’s recent work, so powerful is that he gives full sail to the breadth of his knowledge on so many topics and brings them to bear on the subject of military strategy. He is especially good at exploring the ways literature has been used to shake the establishment out of complacency, from Sir George Tomkyns Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking to August Cole and Peter Singer’s Ghost Fleet.[7] It’s such a pleasure to watch the finest academic strategist writing today craft the trajectory of this story. Yet, Freedman glides lightly over the failures of contemporary military and civilian strategists to confront the botched current U.S. wars, which is surprising given that Freedman was the intellectual force of the Chilcot Report that so scathingly assessed the Blair government’s Iraq War mistakes. While Freedman chronicles the blind spots and shortcomings of war prognosticators and strategists, I would have liked to read more of his thoughts about other possible choices those individuals might have made and where they would have taken the United States and the United Kingdom. I also would have enjoyed reading him celebrate more of the astringent outliers, the lone voices who have gotten the future right, like Charles J. Dunlap, the military lawyer whose dark foreboding of how the United States would lose future wars was a shock when he wrote it in 1996.[8] The Challenges and Benefits of Quantitative Analysis Like other reviewers, I found Freedman’s extended survey of the quantitative analyses of political scientists discordant with the first half of the book.[9] I agree with Freedman’s assessment that the mania for quantitative studies is often devoid of the context needed to understand the causes and consequences of war.  As Freedman has elsewhere emphasized, interstate wars are both rare and their circumstances particular. Otto von Bismarck summed it up well when he stated that politics isn’t a science, it’s an art.[10] Constructing coded data sets risks making the same mistake Graham Allison made in his book on the “Thucydides trap”: forcing a problem into a political science framework wherein n must be greater than one.[11] In reality, each interstate war is utterly unique, thus n can never be greater than one.  The joke among baseball fans about whether there is a 162-game season, or 162 one-game seasons gets at the heart of the problem. The history of war is surely made up of 162 one-game seasons. However, I’m less convinced that political science’s penchant for quantitative studies has prevented an understanding of the conflicts prevalent after the Cold War, because such an assertion would seem to give one branch of largely inaccessible academic study much more influence than it merits. University political science departments prejudice hiring in the direction of quantitative political science, but those works have very little effect on either public understanding or policy choices. Just to take the example of democratic peace theory, the academic obsession with proving it lagged more than a half century behind the policy relevance of the idea. Nor has this field prevented regional specialists and historians from having sway. That excessive quantification can obscure rather than enlighten the study of war has been clear since Thomas Malthus’ 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population. Yet, that much quantitative work is obscurant rather than enlightening isn’t sufficient to merit ignoring its contributions.  First, because, historically speaking, quantitative political science is still in its early stages, and refinements are improving the numbers and providing more robust insights.[12] Freedman’s criticisms, however well founded, may underestimate the evolution of the form — perhaps the best parallel is the use of sabermetrics in baseball, where number crunching once seen as an affront to the studied judgment of seasoned scouts has now become an invaluable aid to them. The second defense of quantitative political science comes from Theodore Sturgeon’s Revelation. The science fiction writer was once challenged about the low quality of the genre. He responded that what was relevant was not that 90 percent of science fiction writing was crap, but that “ninety percent of everything is crap.” [13] That is, the problem was not unique to the genre, but could be applied to all genres. Just so, Freedman’s critique of quantitative political science can be responded to by noting that much of history writing is likewise unenlightening — the work of accountancy, or overloading the reader with excessive facts and citations, rather than the lively storytelling characteristic of Freedman’s work. A Well-Rounded Discussion of The Future of War Because Freedman’s work is so broad ranging, and the question he poses is relevant across so many fields of study, this roundtable has gathered experts from several different fields to share their thoughts on his latest book. All of them are, in different ways, in the business of imagining the future: by guiding politics, pulling technology forward, utilizing technology to advantage in warfare, or establishing boundaries for its ethical use. Each contributor sinks their teeth into different aspects of The Future of War, illuminating warfare from their unique perspectives. Mike Gallagher, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, represents Wisconsin’s 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the Armed Services Committee. His essay focuses on the failure of technology to prevent adversaries from finding creative ways to stymie success — despite optimism that technology would change the fundamentals of warfare. He also expresses disappointment, as an elected official responsible for preparing American military forces for the future, that Freedman doesn’t offer more practical advice for how to improve predictions of warfare. Gallagher explores the “internal constraints that can explain forecasting failure,” in particular the continuing failure of the United States to marshal regional and cultural expertise in its national security establishment. Heather Roff is senior research analyst at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.  She was previously the ethicist at Deep Mind, Google’s artificial intelligence arm, and has been on the faculties of Oxford University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. In her review, Roff challenges Freedman’s exclusion of the Korean and Vietnam wars from his discussion of how past conflicts can lock future strategists into fixed “scripts,” as those wars cast the longest shadows across contemporary foreign policy and technology challenges. In particular, she discusses the expansion of power of the presidency in times of war and the failure of the United States to understand the Vietnam War from its adversary’s perspective. Sakunthala Panditharatne is the founder of the company Asteroid Technologies that designs 3D graphics and animations for augmented reality applications. Her exploration of ideas on Twitter is the intellectual equivalent of setting sail with Columbus. Her review of Freedman’s latest work draws parallels with economic historian Carlota Perez’s Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital. Panditharatne sees that “trends in technology and organizational dynamics have led to the increasing complexity and hybridization of warfare, much like the increasing complexity in business known as the ‘knowledge economy.’”  Particularly interesting is her exploration of how personal computers and internet connectivity are shifting power from large and centralized organizations toward small networked organizations — both in businesses and militaries — and the role that legitimacy now plays in the wake of that shift. I ardently hope she proves right in her assertion that “Hybrid warfare should lend an advantage to nations with lots of soft power, which are able to attract and retain top technical talent both in industry and in the military directly, an encouraging conclusion for proponents of liberal democracy.” Pavneet Singh and Michael Brown are scouts at DIUx, the Department of Defense’s outreach to Silicon Valley. Brown is the president and CEO of Symantec, and has led numerous other tech companies, including Quantuum and EqualLogic. Singh has worked on the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, and at the World Bank. Their essay explores some of the “signposts” for predicting war that they argue Freedman missed. This includes suggesting expanding the analysis beyond the United Kingdom and America to understand how other cultures, which take a longer view of history than the Anglo-American culture and political systems, view the future of warfare; delving more deeply into the link between economic trends and the outcomes of war, because of warfare’s reliance on economic strength; and recognizing “the role and decisiveness of superior technology.” Brown and Singh argue, “There is no disputing the fact that whoever has significantly superior technology will emerge as the victor in a future conflict.” They also see important differences between great power wars and regional wars, distinctions that Freedman fails to consider in his analysis. Conclusion The Future of Warfare serves as a reminder that strategists must relentlessly reevaluate their analyses, searching for where their assumptions may have been wrong or where they no longer capture the critical elements of the problem. Good strategists also ought to be desperate paranoiacs, constantly fearful a trap door is going to open underneath them, always crafting back-up plans for how to prevent being dumped into the sewer that waits below. Freedman cautions that the most dangerous and destabilizing contemporary factor would be “a decision by the United States to disentangle itself from its alliance commitments.”[14] This is particularly poignant given President Donald Trump’s recent disgraceful behavior toward America’s NATO allies. The world may now be seeing unfold the future that this great scholar of warfare worries most about. Freedman’s exploration of the attitudes, art, and scholarship of individuals from history suggests that it may not be long before these years are referred to as the inter-war period. Sir Lawrence Freedman is the most incisive and influential academic writing about warfare today. He took the profession by storm with his Ph.D. dissertation on U.S. intelligence and the Soviet strategic threat, wrote the official British history of the Falklands War, built the renown War Studies Department at King’s College London, made seminal contributions to both the 1999 Blair doctrine and the Chilcot report, and has been a mentor to practically every young scholar in the field. This book shows him a strategist in full, drawing on a career of thinking carefully about warfare to ask why it is so difficult to see coming the kinds of wars that are actually fought? At a time when much of academia has narrowed its focus, his work is a clarion call to ask big, important questions. I’m so pleased and grateful that this interesting group of thinkers from different fields gave their time to look at The Future of War. And I’m delighted they didn’t defer to his stature or become intimidated by the vastness of his knowledge in critiquing his work.  Instead, they paid him the highest professional honor: engaging seriously and critically with his ideas and arguing about their applicability to — and beyond — warfare. Kori Schake is the deputy director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the author of Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony.    

2. War May not Be Predictable, but there Are Warning Signs

By Michael Brown and Pavneet Singh In The Future of War, Lawrence Freedman offers a sobering assessment of war forecasters over the last 150 years: They were largely wrong. What’s more, in prescribing a self-interested set of policies and actions, they overlooked the real levers that cause conflict to happen. War is at best blurry, and impossible to divine from present conditions. By reviewing an extensive body of both fiction and non-fiction, Freedman takes aim at the romantic notion that a decisive first blow or the possession of advanced technology will ensure expeditious victory for the aggressor. The former, he says, never achieves the efficient win it promises, and the latter offers little utility in predicting war, but rather provides insight on how wars might be fought. While he does not make his own predictions on the future of war, Freedman identifies a few key trends that are likely to persist: 1) War will always be bloody and violent, 2) conflicts that are ongoing today (e.g., wars in sub-Saharan Africa) will continue because the international community has not come up with a way to stop them, and 3) war will be nasty, complicated, and motivated by social and political behaviors. His core conclusion is that predictions on the future of war should be made with genuine humility, and policymakers should maintain a healthy degree of skepticism before acting on these predictions. In a world obsessed with decoding the future, whether in finance or politics, rarely does one travel back in time to assess the predictions of an earlier era. In this respect, Freedman’s attempt to retroactively parse and grade the influence of futurists is refreshing and should encourage more introspection in the national security decision-making process. However, by simply abandoning at the outset the notion that any predictive models of future wars can be made, this volume does not live up to its tremendous potential. Freedman identifies a litany of “speculative possibilities,” but does not extract the legitimate markers that can inform current and future judgment — not necessarily in order to predict war, but to highlight the relevant warning signs. Below, we discuss three such signposts that Freedman either omits completely or incorrectly dismisses, which have immediate application to current national security challenges. Three Missed Signposts First, as the book is designed to “explore the prevailing understandings about the causes of war and their likely conduct and course,”[15] the most glaring oversight Freedman makes is restricting his analysis primarily to the United States and the United Kingdom. His reasoning is simple enough: These are the two countries he “knows the best,” and because they have been atop “the international hierarchy for some time.”[16] Yet, in looking out on the geopolitical landscape and assessing the threats emanating from current U.S. adversaries — or even the ambitions of U.S. allies — it is clear America is dealing with countries that take a generational perspective and whose fortunes within the international order have risen and fallen over millennia. Some of the obvious candidates include the antecedents to the nation-states of Iran, China, India, Turkey, and Russia. Even a cursory examination of these countries and peoples reveals that they have a sophisticated understanding and experience with great power wars, guerrilla warfare, and hybrid conflict. Moreover, a rich literary canon of war stratagems has originated in these countries — from the “warring states” period in China, when Sun Tzu conceived the Art of War (one of several military strategy pieces written in that period), to more recent strategies like India’s Cold Start doctrine.[17] This literature shares similarities with the works of Freedman’s classical war prognosticators, but also differs significantly on strategies and tactics in war. Indeed, contemporary studies, such as Max Boot’s Invisible Armies, An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present,[18] provide a much more instructive view of irregular warfare, demonstrating its common use as a strategy dating back to Mesopotamia. Put simply, there is much more to learn about the factors that form the views of adversaries, especially given that their behaviors will likely shape the contours of conflict over the coming generations. Second, Freedman devotes little, if any, attention to the importance of economic capacity and capability as a determining factor in winning wars. As Paul Kennedy so eloquently lays out in his book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, economics has always been a key underpinning of military capability. This was the case in World War I, where the addition of the United States’ industrial strength was the decisive factor in the Allied victory. The same was true in World War II, when the U.S. ability to deliver staggering quantities of war materiel was pivotal in defeating the combination of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, even without nuclear weapons. A related third point concerns Freedman’s dismissal of the role and decisiveness of possessing superior technology. Freedman emphasizes the lack of predictability of war and the overconfidence in a first-strike, which often does not result in the anticipated conclusive victory. However, the examples he provides are cases in which the aggressor did not possess superior technology. In the past 150 years, where there was superior technology, there was decisive victory. Take, for example, nuclear technology, which changed the calculus of decision-making in war. This has also been called the “first offset” — when the United States truly had military dominance against its adversary. Superior technology was also a decisive factor during the “second offset,” when America had overmatch capability against Iraq in the First Gulf War, defeating the sixth largest army in a matter of days with few casualties. This was due to electronics-infused warfare: command-and-control capability through GPS, satellite communications and battlefield domain surveillance, night-vision, and laser-guided munitions. In other words, the United States has had the benefit of superior technology for 75 years and has only been drawn into stalemates in situations in which U.S. political leaders have not been willing to use all of America’s military technological capability (such as in Korea and Vietnam). As the U.S. military seeks a “third offset,”[19] and its adversaries catch up to its technology prowess, there is a question as to whether the United States still has the decisive technological advantage. Nevertheless, there is no disputing the fact that whichever country does possess significantly superior technology will emerge as the victor in a future conflict. Unlike Freedman’s conclusion that superior technology does not lead to a decisive win, there are several examples of the United States doing just that through an overmatch in technology. The holy grail of military superiority in great power conflict comes from the combination of superior technology and economic strength. There have been many conflicts in the past 150 years that did not involve great power competition and in which neither superior technology nor economic strength were factors. These are conflicts whose outcomes are difficult to explain in terms of specific decisive factors.  However, to achieve greater understanding, Freedman’s book would have been better served by separating the many regional conflicts, civil wars, and terrorism-driven sources of conflict from great power wars. We disagree with Freedman that great power wars are unpredictable, since many great power wars can be explained largely by the two factors of superior technology and economic capability. Applying these Signposts to China Taken together, these three points are critical to understanding the intensifying competition between the United States and China. Central to this analysis is identifying and recognizing the factors that shape Chinese strategic thinking — and accepting that they diverge from classical western frames for thinking about conflicts. In a recent article, Aaron Friedberg invokes history as the principal wellspring guiding Chinese leaders over successive generations:
China is not just any rising power; it is a nation with a long and proud history as the leading centre of East Asian civilisation and a more recent, inglorious experience of domination and humiliation at the hands of foreign intruders. China’s leaders see their country as not merely rising, but rather returning to a position of regional pre-eminence that it once held and which they (and many of their people) regard as natural and appropriate.[20]
Notably, Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leader from 1978 to 1989, played a seminal role in crafting China’s renaissance. It is telling that his philosophy prioritized humility, deception, and endurance as captured in these now famous dictums that “[China should] cross the river by feeling the stones” and “hide its capabilities and bide its time.”[21] The subsequent blueprint implemented by China’s leadership includes a relentless focus on building China’s economic, military, geopolitical, and ideological power.[22] Starting with the economy, China has developed a leading global economy faster than any country in modern history. The timescale during which this growth occurred is stunning: China’s economy has grown from 10 percent of the U.S. economy in the 1970s to the second largest global economy — in just fifty years. China is using its economic power and technology advancements to engage in a rapid peacetime military buildup, aimed at expanding borders across Asia and at sea. China’s military strategy is based on developing asymmetric capabilities to neutralize the traditional strengths of the United States in technology (e.g., anti-satellite missiles to eliminate GPS) and deny capabilities derived from expensive force projection that the United States cannot afford to replace (e.g., aircraft carriers). Beijing focuses on lower-cost technologies that can leapfrog and put America in a defensive posture, using, for example, swarms of drones or hypersonic missiles. With its “military-civil fusion initiative,” China aims to integrate all of its commercial technology advances into its military capability.[23] It has already achieved superior technology capabilities in a number of critical areas, such as hypersonics and supercomputing, while challenging the United States in artificial intelligence and bioengineering. Whether America is already engaged in conflict with China (as some have argued),[24] or the United States is destined for war (as some predict),[25] is a matter of heated debate that we don’t take a position on here.  But this example illustrates that there are key indicators (historical, economic, technological, military) that can be discerned and measured to help policymakers make better predictions about future conflicts.  Freedman is right that there are distinct differences in conflicts between great powers and regional wars, civil wars, and terrorism-fueled conflicts. What Freedman misses in The Future of War is the recognition that they can have different models for war and predictors of outcomes. This is not the same as saying that there are no reliable predictors or indicators for future conflicts. Michael Brown is a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow working with the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx). Through August of 2016, Michael was the CEO of Symantec Corporation, the global leader in cybersecurity. Pavneet Singh is a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and a consultant to DIUx. He was formerly on the National Security Council and National Economic Council focusing on international economic affairs.  

3. The Future of War Ain’t What It Used to Be

By Mike Gallagher  

A man who can look ahead and see the pattern of problems that may be emerging has tremendous value.[26] -Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster

  In his 2013 book, Strategy: A History, Lawrence Freedman developed the concept of “strategic scripts,” which is “a way of thinking about strategy as a story told in the future sense.” These scripts are narratives that can convince a group of how its initial choices are likely to play out.[27] They are essentially working theories about how security can be created by linking ends to means, and which of these means are most effective in advancing particular ends (e.g. using force vs. diplomacy). In Freedman’s 2017 The Future of War: A History, he demonstrates how often those scripts turn out to be wrong, leaving policymakers pain in place of promised success. What L.P. Hartley once said about the past here applies to the future: It is a foreign country; they do things differently there.[28] The inability to look ahead and accurately forecast emerging trends is a theme that pervades this book. Freedman shows how the indecisive and protracted trench fighting of the Great War, for example, undercut Antoine-Henri Jomini’s classical model of war, based on the Napoleonic assumption that “wars could be settled by a well-constructed campaign, culminating in a decisive battle.”[29] More recently, the rapid demise of the Soviet Union surprised many in government, undermining the arguments of realists in particular (here Freedman seems to mean structural realists or neorealists), who have since refused to reappraise a theory that
struggled because it had little to say about the impact of major ideological shifts within great powers or the drivers of instability within minor states, or why any serious major power, secure within its own borders, would bother to try to sort out this instability.[30]
Indeed, as former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argued,
The liberation of Eastern Europe in less than six months, the collapse of the Soviet Union in less than a year, was stunning, almost miraculous. Very, very few predicted that these revolutionary events would happen in this century. No one foresaw that they would happen so fast.[31]
This inability to accurately forecast the future will be familiar to anyone who has fought in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where despite having clear technological superiority, the United States continues to be challenged by low-tech terrorists. Protracted counterinsurgencies waged in urban settings have ended the brief flirtation with reviving a classical model of war or relying on a Revolution in Military Affairs to substitute technology for mass and “get the whole affair over quickly with few casualties.”[32] Consider the fact that, as Freedman shows, three U.S. presidents announced the end of combat in Iraq and “[e]ach time it turned out that the announcement was premature.”[33] Indeed the idea that new technology will decisively shift the odds of success and change the character of warfare — making it fast, easy, and decisive — is what H. R. McMaster has called a “vampire fallacy,” because it is so hard to kill.[34] Freedman’s focus on science fiction novels and films (i.e. actual scripts) further underscores the failure of these official scripts. For example, Freedman argues that H.G. Wells “was the most influential writer on future war of his time.” Despite his adherence to socialism, advocacy for world government, and prediction that World War I would end all wars, Wells gets credit for inventing the tank and highlighting the problems “new weapons might be trying to solve and those they would create,” such as the potential use of air power against defenseless populations.[35] Freedman praises the 1958 novel Red Alert (the basis for Dr. Strangelove) for calling attention to key weaknesses of deterrent strategy and prompting Thomas Schelling to develop “his ideas for a communications link between Moscow and Washington to reduce the dangers the book described.”[36] Freedman’s chapter on “Cyberwar” begins with an epigraph from William Gibson’s Neuromancer, while the chapter on “Robots and Drones” begins with Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics.”[37] Freedman’s ability to weave such a diverse set of scripts together into coherent and concise chapters is alone worth the price of admission. The busy reader can easily pick and choose from a menu of different options based on his interest. And at the broadest level, Freedman offers scholars and practitioners a useful lesson in intellectual humility (the first paragraph of the book details the origin of the word “hubris”). The Future of War usefully shows where certain scripts went wrong and where individual thinkers and analysts have been overly optimistic, pessimistic, or insufficiently imaginative. Likewise, he shows how militaries — such as the Japanese military in 1941, which believed it could repeat the successes of surprise attacks against the Russians in 1894 and 1904 — have a tendency to try to fight the last war instead of the one they are in.[38] Scripting the Future But as an elected official, and someone who spends a lot of time on the House Armed Services Committee thinking about how to prevent future wars, this is where Freedman left me wanting more. While sufficiently covering the fact that organizations frequently miscast the future, his book has less to say about why they do so. For instance, consider what is perhaps the biggest, bipartisan mistake of the post-Cold War era, besides the failure of imagination that led to 9/11:[39] U.S. policy towards China. As the 2017 National Security Strategy argues,
For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others.[40]
The slowness of America’s response to the rise in Chinese power is especially puzzling given that, as Freedman asserts in his chapter “Coming Wars,” by the late 1990’s, China was a “genuinely revisionist power” and the “the most serious long-term challenger to the United States.”[41] Why did American policy take so long to adjust to this new reality? Beyond summarizing the future Sino-U.S. conflict described in the novel Ghost Fleet, Freedman has little to say about how the United States got China so wrong.[42] He criticizes Graham Allison’s “Thucydides Trap” thesis for its oversimplification of both Greek history and the complex, regional reactions to China’s rise. Yet, he also reviews Allison’s previous prediction — that a nuclear terrorist attack within a decade after 2004 was likely — without discussing the fact that it was completely wrong.[43] While Allison was obviously mistaken in 2004, Freedman leaves the reader in the dark as to why, thus illustrating my broader desire for more from this book. Without a clearer discussion of why states and scholars tend to get the future wrong, Freedman’s work offers few practical suggestions for policymakers who are trying to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. To be fair, the penultimate page briefly discusses three potential reasons the future is so difficult to forecast: 1) predictions are often clouded by advocacy, frequently by envisioning overly-optimistic outcomes; 2) bureaucratic politics can disincentivize thinking about the unthinkable; and 3) organizations tend to extrapolate into the future using the recent past (though as Freedman notes, the inverse is also true: “Another and quite different tendency is to assert that we are on the verge of a great, transformational discontinuity”).[44] Freedman sums this up with a statement that is true, but in the end, not all that useful:
The reason that the future is difficult to predict is that it depends on choices that have yet to be made, including by our governments, in circumstances that remain uncertain … history is made by people who do not know what is going to happen next.[45]
And yet, much more is known than Freedman acknowledges about how people make choices under certain conditions. As Irving Janis has shown, the psychological drive for consensus and consistency within groups can suppress disagreement and degrade “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.”[46] And, as Risa A. Brooks has argued, poor civil-military relations can corrupt a leader’s advisory system, produce poor strategic assessments, and create an environment in which the state is “devastatingly unprepared to manage [its] international relations.”[47] Keren Yarhi-Milo has similarly highlighted how problems can emerge from differences within the executive branch, such as how the intelligence community favors military capabilities when analyzing adversaries, while presidents base threat perceptions largely on their personal impressions of foreign leaders gained through direct interaction.[48] The point is that if Freedman’s critique of structural realism is correct — he argues that it focuses excessively on system-level variables, such as the distribution of material power, and assumes great powers are rational and respond to system changes in similar ways[49] — then the key question is what state- and individual-level variables can better explain forecasting failure.[50] But unfortunately, Freedman never quite gets around to this level of analysis. This is a shame, because he has most of the pieces in place to put together a more practical guide for policymakers. Conclusion Perhaps one lesson is that, while studies of the future focus on the salience of science fiction, the role of technology in warfare, or the neat-and-tidy lessons of history, they often miss the mark because they rarely come from regional or language specialists. This is particularly true of official governmental scripts. U.S. military career tracks are rarely optimized to produce regional experts. Even the intelligence and diplomatic communities, which used to produce genuine regional experts like George Kennan (a forecasting success story that does not appear in Freedman’s book), often rotate their personnel in an astrategic manner, perpetuating the so-called “mile wide and an inch deep” personnel pathology. This trend was a major concern of the 9/11 Commission, which recommended that the FBI develop a specialized national security workforce of agents, linguists, and analysts “recruited, trained, rewarded, and retained to ensure the development of an institutional culture imbued with a deep expertise in intelligence and national security.”[51] Freedman is right to suggest that there is no easy way to script the future, but military and government leaders should explore every option to improve their forecasts. To this end, deep regional and cultural expertise may go a long way. As Susan Glasser wrote about Kennan, “It is because of Kennan’s meticulous observations, incisive prose and deep knowledge of the country and its people” that he did not “merely throw up his hands in confusion, or succumb to wishful thinking or fellow-travelerism or any of the other diseases endemic to so much Western writing about the Soviet Union.”[52] Perhaps this is just a different form of the hubris Freedman describes in the opening of his book. Or perhaps, with a combination of deep cultural and regional expertise, a sense of humility, and a recognition of our individual and bureaucratic biases, these scripts can have happier endings. Mike Gallagher represents Wisconsin’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where he is a member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. Prior to Congress, Mike served in the Marine Corps for seven years as a Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence Officer and Regional Affairs Officer for the Middle East/North Africa, earning the rank of Captain. He deployed twice to Al Anbar Province, Iraq and worked for three years in the intelligence community. Mike also served as the lead Republican staffer for Middle East, North Africa, and Counterterrorism on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, Mike went on to earn a master’s degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University, a second in Strategic Intelligence from National Intelligence University, and his PhD in International Relations from Georgetown.    

 4. Technology, the Economy, and the Future of War

By Saku Panditharatne In his latest book, The Future of War, Lawrence Freedman offers an intellectual history of how Americans and Britons have imagined the future of conflict over the past 200 years. Drawing on not only military history but science fiction as well, Freedman’s book leads the reader through the many twists and turns of history, demonstrating in each time period which future conflicts were imagined realistically and accurately and which came as a complete surprise. In the first section of The Future of War, Freedman describes how warfare has evolved, beginning in the mid-19th century, through the industrial revolution, and beyond — from isolated battles between trained soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars, to the all-consuming destruction of World War I, to the end of the Cold War. At each stage, Freedman focuses on the types of conflict that accompanied these technological leaps forward, and examines the second- and third-order effects that caught intellectuals and military leaders off guard. He discusses not only the impact of muskets on warfare, but also the less predictable impact of supply chains. Technological advances come in fits and spurts. Reading The Future of War called to mind Carlota Perez’s work of economic history, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital.[53] Perez lays out a framework for thinking about technology in terms of discrete paradigm shifts, rather than continuous innovation. These paradigm shifts occur between clusters of technologies that develop together and mutually reinforce each other, and which naturally lead to a different pattern of social organization. It’s an extremely relevant read for today’s era of “technological disruption,” in which the software paradigm is replacing the 20th century paradigm of mass production. After reading The Future of War, I saw a correspondence between Perez’s theory about the course of technology and Freedman’s account of the predictability of war. Perez divides economic development into two phases: an “installation” phase, in which a new set of technologies are invented and commercialized, often coinciding with a financial mania or bubble; and a “deployment” phase of steady economic growth, in which the same technologies are rolled out on a broader scale. In between the two phases is a “turning point,” when the “new economy” replaces the old, and society is restructured to make the best use of it. Some examples of these two phases of economic development include the canal mania that preceded the industrial revolution, the railway mania that preceded the Victorian boom, and the Roaring Twenties and post-World War II period, when mass production, cars, and aviation were invented and then later rolled out more broadly. It is during this "installation” phase that people are frequently taken by surprise by new forms of waging war. For example, after the invention of new technologies, such as the automobile and the telephone, the great powers famously “sleepwalked” into World War I. It was hard for European leaders to imagine that the new supply chains bringing resources to the front lines would prolong the length of battles, and even harder for them to predict the emergence of trench warfare. Even though they may not have literally believed the war would be over by Christmas, as many claimed, only a few Cassandras predicted the scale of destruction these new technologies would enable. Many expected a repeat of the kind of highly contained battles prominent in the previous century — but with machine guns instead of muskets. In reading The Future of War, it became clear the "technological disruption" of warfare often became easier to predict when moving into the “deployment” phase. During the interwar period, a new social and economic structure developed around the emerging technologies that had been invented in the early 20th century. Infrastructure (such as roads and telephone lines) was built out, new management techniques and processes (for example, supply chains) emerged, and people adapted their lifestyles around a new, more centralized and urbanized way of living. As it became more obvious how these technologies would be incorporated into the economy, it also became more obvious how they would be used in warfare. Although the airplane was still a nascent technology, many science-fiction writers and futurists were able to imagine how war could be waged in the skies prior to the start of World War II. Even the atom bomb was thought up in science fiction before it was invented — in some ways it occupied a similar place in popular culture as the idea of superintelligent Artificial Intelligence (AI) does today. H.G. Wells and others imagined an "infinite energy source," which some thought might one day make all jobs obsolete. The end of the Cold War coincided with the end of the deployment phase of the last technological revolution and the start of the computer age. There were many reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union, but by the late 1980s, the highly centralized mid-century economic model had run its course, making totalitarian states impossible to sustain. The end of this technological paradigm was not easy to predict at all: The view from 1960 was that mankind would explore new planets and the Cold War would continue out in space. The first half of The Future of War is a “history of the future,” a critical look back at how predictions about the military affairs played out. The implicit question Freedman seems to be asking is, “How much can we predict about the future of war today?” Are we living through one of those eras where the second- or third-order effects of warfare are relatively easy to predict, or one where they take the world by surprise? The Future of War suggests the answer can be found by looking at the economy, as history teaches that there is a close link between understanding the uses of technology in the economy, and understanding them in warfare. Predicting War in the Post-Cold War Era In the second half of Freedman’s book, he examines the new trends in warfare that have emerged since the end of the Cold War. The period between 1989 and 2015 can be seen as the “installation” phase of the information revolution, again using Perez’s terminology, a time when personal computers and the internet were new, experimental technologies. The two big trends to come out of this installation phase are a set of mutually reinforcing technologies — computers, the internet, mobile phones, and AI — and a new set of processes to make best use of these technologies in the economy. As was true in the first half of The Future of War, there appear to be strong parallels between the organization of the “new economy” and the new developments in warfare. One can look to competition between tech companies to try to understand the technological advantage one nation-state might gain over another. Such an examination suggests that the advantage comes from having a powerful guiding mission, and possessing networks of technically skilled employees. One way in which new tech has affected organizational dynamics is by shifting power away from top-down bureaucracies. The post-Cold War period has been defined by a marked decrease in the power of the nation-state. In The Square and The Tower,[54] Niall Ferguson argues that the internet tipped the balance of power away from large, centralized organizations toward smaller, more networked ones. In a similar way to the advent of the printing press during the Reformation in the 16th century, the internet gave an advantage to smaller groups. Instead of conflicts between highly centralized superpowers, the early 21st century has been defined by conflicts caused by weak states, civil wars, guerilla warfare, and terrorism. The Future of War describes an especially interesting implication of this more networked type of warfare: It results in the heightened importance of “legitimacy.” For military interventions in the post-Cold War period, winning over local allies has become more crucial because on the ground expertise and information matters more than it used to. There’s an interesting parallel here with what’s happening in the economy, where “mission-driven” companies have an advantage because they are better able to build networks of people and recruit those with important skills. A related phenomenon is the blurring of state and non-state actors. Various organized crime groups, such as drug traffickers, are able to build formidable networks without necessarily having the bureaucratic apparatus of a state, and extremist groups like the Islamic State are able to use their ideology to recruit using online propaganda. Reading The Future of War, I was especially struck by Freedman’s account of the increased importance of soft power in winning over allies. If conflicts are fought between networked organizations and their guiding missions, rather than state bureaucracies, then democracies might be at a disadvantage in this new form of warfare. A dictatorship can directly create propaganda to promote its party line abroad, for example, whereas there are fewer ideas upon which democracies can agree to promote. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the strength of culture and civil society in a democracy is more effective at creating soft power than simple propaganda. In this light, U.S. internet companies like Facebook and Google become especially important. In 2016, the Indian government decided against allowing Facebook to provide free but limited mobile internet services to rural Indians, partly because it feared giving a foreign corporation too much power over the flow of information.[55] Many countries already restrict Facebook, most notably China.[56] Although U.S. internet services are popular with users, and there are strong economic incentives for developing countries not to place restrictions on the internet, it is not difficult to imagine a future where a country’s domestic policies about social networks becomes a foreign policy or trade decision. This raises an interesting question: To what extent are U.S. tech companies representative of America and the West abroad? This question is further complicated by individual tech companies’ need for legitimacy as a networked organization. Facebook, for example, cares so much about employees believing in the internal mission that it has a department dedicated to creating internal motivational posters, called the Analog Research Lab art studio.[57] The opinions of employees are important enough to significantly influence top-level decisions. The crafts startup Etsy initially went public as a “public benefit corporation,”[58] meaning it would be legally obligated to hold and prioritize non-financial goals, like helping the environment, in the hopes of making it easier to recruit the people they needed to make the site a success. This is an existential issue for tech companies, which are constantly worried about losing their engineers to startups and other projects with a more compelling “mission.” Business Parallels with Hybrid Warfare These trends in technology and organizational dynamics have led to the increasing complexity and hybridization of warfare, much like the increasing complexity in business known as the “knowledge economy.” Hybrid warfare combines hacking and misinformation campaigns with conventional military tactics, which has some parallels with the new generation of tech companies (like Uber) that combine software (e.g., the app itself) with operational knowledge of traditional, brick-and-mortar industries (e.g., driving a taxi). Typically, these kinds of companies need to have both computer scientists and industry domain experts in the organization’s DNA. They often end up acquiring small teams of computer scientists working on specific, relevant problems to grow the business, in a similar way to how nation-states might recruit teams of hackers to work alongside more traditional military and government officials. A related role from industry that does not yet have an analogue in hybrid warfare is the venture capital analyst — someone who is hired to look for important new tech trends and seek out experts and promising people working in those fields, in hopes of spotting a high-impact discovery before other firms do. Another common pattern that could become relevant to nation-states waging hybrid warfare is that of an old-economy business buying a stake in a software company in order to modernize — such as Unilever acquiring Dollar Shave Club.[59] In these cases, the software company acts like the brain of the jellyfish: It helps the rest of the organization make smarter, more effective decisions. It’s often quite difficult for legacy companies to know which software companies to acquire until they have proven themselves in the marketplace, because they lack the expertise to tell which ones are the best. One way they get around this is by building out networks of computer scientists. Highly specialized, domain-specific knowledge most often requires a mentor to learn. Thus, people with relevant skills tend to know each other, and, more importantly, know who the people doing important work in their field are. Intellectual theft is another domain in which networks have taken on new importance. Industrial espionage was important in the mid 20th century, because specialized technical knowledge was relevant to both military and economic power. With software, stealing secrets has become much more difficult. Simply stealing code is not that valuable without the knowledge and processes to make it useful. In a high-profile 2017 trade secrets legal dispute between Uber and Waymo over the self-driving car,[60] it was not just that data and plans were allegedly stolen — the supposed theft involved the top engineer leaving to go to the other company. Again, the conclusion is the same: Networks of people are of much more critical importance than they used to be. Conclusion In The Future of War, Freedman examines the historical parallels between developments in warfare and developments in the economy. He demonstrates that the current era is no exception, discussing the new patterns of warfare that have emerged since the start of the information age. Freedman traces the implications of both the first-order effects, such as greater use of information technology, and the higher-order effects, such as the shift towards mission-driven networked organizations. If history is any guide, the future of war should be more predictable now given that the economic paradigm of how to use information technology is fairly well-understood. Freedman’s work suggests there is a lot that can be learned regarding warfare by studying the “new economy,” especially the workings of mission-driven, networked organizations. Hybrid warfare should lend an advantage to nations with lots of soft power, which are able to attract and retain top technical talent both in industry and in the military directly, an encouraging conclusion for proponents of liberal democracy. Saku Panditharatne is the founder and CEO of Asteroid, a startup that builds tools for augmented reality developers. Previously, Saku worked as an analyst researching emerging technologies for the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, and before that worked as an engineer at a number of computer graphics startups, including Oculus. She graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Computer Science with Mathematics.  

5. Faulty Frames and Techno-Optimism

By Heather M. Roff Lawrence Freedman’s impressive new work, The Future of War, provides a solid, general introduction to a contemporary history of war. Its breadth and scope intertwine not only historical accounting, but international relations theory, film, and literature, bringing to life the sentiments and perspectives of people in their time. Freedman’s thesis — that American and British leaders, including politicians and military officers, fail to predict future wars because they lack knowledge of historical precedents and the strategic narratives of past conflicts — is largely correct. And yet, Freedman falls prey to his own critique by failing to examine two extremely important modern conflicts that lay the foundation for many of the present technological advancements and strategic doctrines that continue to shape contemporary thinking on warfare: the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Korean War Freedman’s lack of serious engagement with these two conflicts is not only perplexing, but troubling. Indeed, he makes only two brief mentions of the Korean War. The first is in reference to the United States’ supposed surprise when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. The second is in relation to counting battle casualties. North Korea itself only appears in a few fleeting anecdotes in The Future of War, again in reference to the “surprise” of the United States, as well as the notion of delivering a first, “decisive” blow to an enemy, the seizing of the USS Pueblo, the hack on the Sony Corporation, and the almost relentless 70-year pursuit of a nuclear weapons program by the North. Yet, it was the Korean War that lay much of the groundwork for many of the present-day foreign policy challenges that face the United States. If Freedman were following his own advice, he would have looked at the historical context in 1950 to help explain the strategic context on the Korean Peninsula today. Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, was educated, trained, and equipped by Josef Stalin. The perception in the United States and elsewhere was that Stalin was making a play to expand communist influence in the East. But what was not appreciated a mere five years after the end of World War II — and after America’s use of nuclear weapons — was that Stalin had little appetite for a long and escalatory conflict in Korea.[61] The United States, however ,along with many major powers at that time, viewed a military response to North Korean aggression as required under the newly formulated United Nations. Referring to this response as a “police action” gave Western countries, and particularly the United States, expansive new powers. Domestically, it enabled President Harry Truman to bypass congressional approval for going to war against North Korea, thereby challenging the Constitution. This greatly enhanced and expanded U.S. executive powers in ways that have still not been walked back. Internationally, the absence of the Soviet Union at the United Nations Security Council vote on approving this so-called police action meant that the vote went unopposed. Thus, the Security Council’s “approval” lent a patina of legitimacy to actions that member states like the Soviet Union and, later, China would have seriously opposed. The various domestic pressures faced by the Truman administration from 1949 to 1950 — such as outrage at the Soviets acquiring their own atomic weapon and fear of further communist expansion after the successful Chinese revolution — presented Truman with an opportunity to begin making the Cold War a hot one. Truman’s “police action” turned into a full-scale war that ultimately challenged the notion of state sovereignty upheld by the United Nations. Moreover, it also changed how U.S. foreign policy in Southeast Asia was framed — a frame that continues to this day. The war brought Maoist Chinese forces into North and South Korea to fight U.S. troops. When Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s forces were routed, facing defeat at the hands of North Korean and Chinese troops, the response was to escalate the crisis and threaten nuclear action.[62] To use nuclear weapons as a threat, less than ten years after the technology’s first use, was so serious that one can argue it changed the North Korean perception of obtaining nuclear weapons forever. And this perception — this nuclear hangover, so to speak — persists in the Kim dynasty to this day. North Korea pursues nuclear power at all costs because it is that country’s greatest defense against a nuclear threat. Yet, without understanding the reasons for North Korean nuclear armament, or its close connections with China, one will have little understanding of present-day potentialities for nuclear brinkmanship or conflict in South East Asia. Contemporary foreign policy and alliances in the region cannot be understood without understanding the past. However, such an analysis is not to be found in Freedman’s book. He has failed to take his own advice. The Vietnam War The U.S. bombing campaign in Korea marked the first time America employed napalm as a weapon in war, setting the stage for its later use in Vietnam.[63] Enter the light treatment of Vietnam in The Future of War. As Freedman makes sweeping claims about intervention, failed states, democracy, and counterinsurgency — as his chapter titles exhibit — it is quite surprising that Vietnam does not have a more prominent place in his book. The Vietnam conflict touches on all of these themes. It also cemented a particular cultural narrative about the U.S. use of force for decades. Indeed, the United States feared public opinion about entrenched conflicts, the draft, and insurgency to such an extent that it literally threw away all of the field manuals pertaining to the war, thereby hindering U.S. strategy in 2003, when America faced insurgency once more in Iraq. Again, Freedman has failed to make this connection and take his own advice. From the perspective of Vietnam, all of these topics play a crucial role in explaining the conflict and providing historical context for future strategic narratives. As early as 1919, the Vietnamese people were asking the United States to help them gain recognition from French colonialists.[64] In his first attempt at negotiating with the French, Ho Chi Minh approached President Woodrow Wilson to use his 14 Points Speech to help the Vietnamese gain a “permanent delegation of native people elected to the French Parliament.”[65] Ho wouldn’t return to fight again for independence until 1941. The roots of the Vietnam War did not grow out of a red scare or fear about falling dominoes. All of that came later. This war was about an ongoing struggle against colonialism, brutal treatment at the hands of the French colonialists, and the fight for democratic representation. Ultimately, Truman’s lack of interest in Indo-China and the Far East, as well as French and British reticence to give up their colonies or tolerate nationalist movements, led to policies toward Vietnam that only further inflamed the Vietnamese population’s drive to fight back against the French. Ultimately, over time, communism came to the fore, but not before attempts at decolonization and a fight for independence. Truman had sent military advisers to his French allies in Vietnam as early as 1950, but it wasn’t until the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, in 1954, that the United States began to pay much closer attention to what was happening there. It was at this point, with the new Eisenhower administration in office, that U.S. involvement became almost a forgone conclusion. It was with Dwight Eisenhower and his new policies, geared toward amassing nuclear weapons, purging communist elements, and expanding the Central Intelligence Agency, that the conflict began to take on a new significance. It is important to note the history of the United States and its Western allies with regards to Vietnam’s nationalist movement and civil war. America’s installment of a U.S. friendly leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, undermined confidence in the eventual unification or democratic aspirations of North and South Vietnam. Truman’s, and then Eisenhower’s, fears of communism provided both presidents with faulty foreign policy decision-making frames that ultimately committed them to actions that would only escalate and heighten the situation. Given the significance of such frames, Freedman ought to have identified this example from history as evidence to support his thesis. With Eisenhower’s New Look nuclear policy and hawkish attitudes, potential first use of atomic weapons was on the table. However, by the time John F. Kennedy came into office, he was neither fully aware of the U.S. nuclear capability — ordering Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to actually count the U.S. arsenal — nor was he aware of how America’s involvement in Vietnam was truly playing out.[66] He essentially remained committed to Eisenhower’s policies until 1963, when Kennedy announced his plan to withdraw all U.S. troops by 1965. Kennedy’s commitment to leaving Vietnam was not popular at that time with military leaders. Upon his assassination, and the appointment of Lyndon B. Johnson to the presidency, the Vietnam War entered its most important phase for the history of war and for the future of war with regard to technological development. Johnson’s commitment to more right-leaning and hawkish policies led him to appoint Gen. William Westmoreland and to increasingly rely on the advice of former-President Eisenhower.[67] Westmoreland’s strategy for winning the war was to continuously increase the number of ground troops and bombing campaigns. Indeed, he escalated the troop commitment from 16,000 in 1963 to over 536,000 in 1968.[68]  While the massive troop deployments and the political opposition raged on, another important aspect of this war came to the fore: technological development. Technology and the Future of War One of the themes that Freedman explores in his book is the role of technological development in predicting the future of warfare. One must, therefore, look to the strategic narratives that drove technological development and that frame present-day narratives for the future of war. In the 1960s, one such narrative came to fruition in one of Eisenhower’s defense initiatives: the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). ARPA’s delivery of high-tech, useful technologies combined with the United States’ faulty frame of decrying the “communist threat” in Vietnam meant that Washington continually believed that advanced technology and overwhelming force could ensure a victory.[69] Founded in 1958, ARPA (later adding a “D” for “Defense”) continually put its best talent toward providing technological solutions to the conflict at hand. In 1961, for example, (D)ARPA’s Project Agile was designated for “counterinsurgency research programs in Southeast Asia.” This 13 year-long project included “flamethrowers, the M-16 assault rifle, communications, surveillance, target acquisition, defoliation and psychological warfare.”[70] Likewise, (D)ARPA worked on surveillance aircraft, and ultimately stealth technologies, as well as advanced sensors to populate the Southeast Asian jungle.[71] Much of the sensor, computing, and command and control architecture built in advanced U.S. military laboratories during the Vietnam War continues to push present-day militaries in particular directions. Take, for instance, Gen. Westmoreland’s vision of battle in 1970:
On the battlefield of the future, enemy forces will be located, tracked, and targeted almost instantaneously through the use of data links, computer-assisted intelligence evaluation, and automated fire control.  … I am confident [that] the American people expect this country to take full advantage of its technology—to welcome and applaud the developments that will replace wherever possible the man with the machine [emphasis added].[72]
This is exactly the future of war that was realized not only in the 1991 Gulf War, but in the strategy doctrines of current and past secretaries of defense in the Third Offset Strategy. As former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work remarked, “I'm telling you right now, 10 years from now if the first person through a breach isn’t a friggin’ robot, shame on us.”[73] The lessons from the Korean and Vietnam Wars cannot be overstated. Rigid frames of thinking, as well as the belief that technology and air power would bring conflicts to a quick end, continue to plague U.S. and Western thinking about how to wage war. Past histories of colonialism and nationalism, as well as counterinsurgencies and the fear of Western occupation, still drive many of the beliefs and tactics used by contemporary U.S adversaries. That the United States and the United Kingdom continue to believe that technology will save them from long, entrenched, and bitter war indicates that they lack deep, strategic thinking. Yet, Freedman cannot actually make this case. He fails to link appropriately the end of World War II and the start of the Iraq War in 1991. Without taking account of the strategic rationale of the United States and its allies in Southeast Asia — and the way in which the United States fought these wars and developed technology in order to fight specific kinds of tactical challenges within these conflicts — it is impossible to explain why America and its allies fought the way they did in 1991, or how it is that they failed, and continue to fail, in Afghanistan. This doctrine of “technology saves” has long blinded Western powers. It did not save hundreds of thousands of American lives, or millions of Vietnamese lives, in Vietnam. This is because technology is not value-neutral. It is created for a purpose and a task. Depending upon the task at hand, the ways in which technologies are viewed and used become refined. Thus, the present U.S. Third Offset Strategy, with its focus on artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced materials, and mass over-precision, is indicative of the way the United States looks at how to profitably fight wars against potential adversaries — never mind the countless enabling technologies required for this vision to work, or the belief that one’s adversaries will be equally matched in quality and number. Conclusion If Korea and Vietnam are to provide any lesson, it is that the causes of war provide ample evidence as to how a war ought — or ought not — to be fought. U.S. and allied defeats by the Maoist Chinese forces — forces that were technologically underdeveloped — surprised the United States. However, that surprise was not taken as evidence that technology and tactics needed to change. Instead, it entrenched the view that “there just isn’t enough” of it. Yet again, Freedman fails to examine this case, and by failing to examine it he restricts his own ability to make claims about the future of war. If he believes his own thesis, then he ought to unpack the strategic narratives that unfolded between 1950 and 1990 that he so glaringly omits in his latest book. Dr. Heather Roff is a Senior Research Analyst at the National Security Analysis Department at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and an Associate Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge  She is formerly a Senior Research Scientist at DeepMind, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Politics & International Relations at the University of Oxford, and she has held faculty positions at the University of Waterloo, the University of Denver and the United States Air Force Academy. Her research interests include the law, policy and ethics of emerging military technologies, such as artificial intelligence, autonomy, and robotics. [post_title] => Book Review Roundtable: The Future of War [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => book-review-roundtable-the-future-of-war [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-08-08 11:28:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-08-08 15:28:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?post_type=roundtable&p=657 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => roundtable [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => Sir Lawrence Freedman's latest book, The Future of War, asks why futurists have so often gotten it wrong when it comes to predicting war. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => [style] => roundtable [type] => Book [style_label] => Roundtable [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 75 [1] => 191 [2] => 192 [3] => 136 [4] => 189 [5] => 190 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] For an incisive study of the domestic consequences of war, see Seva Gunitsky, Aftershocks: Great Powers and Domestic Reforms of the Twentieth Century, (Princeton University Press, 2017). [2] Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History (New York: Public Affairs, 2017), 286. [3] Stephen J. Gould, Wonderful Life, (New York: Vintage, 2000), 14. [4] Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War, (New York: Free Press, 1988), 41. [5] Future of War, 10. [6] Future of War, 279. [7] Future of War, 4, 252. [8] C.J. Dunlap, Jr., “How We Lost the High-Tech War of 2007,” Weekly Standard, Jan. 29, 1996. [9] Douglas M. Gibler, Beatrice Heuser, Mara Karlin, Joshua Rovner, and Lawrence Freedman, “Roundtable 10-14 on The Future of War: A History,” H-Diplo/ISSF, May 18, 2018, https://issforum.org/roundtables/10-14-future-of-war. [10] Otto von Bismarck, Horst Kohl, Bismarckreden: 1847-1895 (1899), 255. As quoted in translation in William Roscoe Thayer “Cavour and Bismarck,”  Atlantic (Mar 1909), 103, 343. [11] Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? (London: Scribe, 2017). [12] Douglas M. Gibler, Steven V. Miller, and Erin K. Little, “An Analysis of the Militarized Interstate Dispute (MID) Dataset, 1816–2001,” International Studies Quarterly 60, no. 4 (December 2016), https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqw045. [13] Theodore Sturgeon, Venture 49, September 1957 (for more on Venture, see “Venture,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venture_Science_Fiction). [14] Future of War, 282. [15] Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History (New York: Public Affairs, 2017), xix. [16] Freedman, Future of War, xix. [17] For a detailed analysis of the Cold Start doctrine, see: Walter C. Ladwig III, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army's New Limited War Doctrine,” International Security 32, no. 3. (Winter 2007/08): 158–190, https://www.jstor.org/stable/30130521. [18] Max Boot, Invisible Armies, An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present (New York: Liveright, 2013). [19] For a detailed discussion of the “third offset” see Kathleen Hicks et al., Assessing the Third Offset Strategy, Center for Strategic International Studies, Mar. 16, 2017, https://www.csis.org/analysis/assessing-third-offset-strategy. [20] Aaron L. Friedberg “Competing with China,” Survival 60, no. 3, (2018), https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2018.1470755. [21] “Less Biding and Hiding,” Economist, Dec. 2, 2010, https://www.economist.com/special-report/2010/12/02/less-biding-and-hiding. [22] A fulsome analysis of China’s understanding of Comprehensive National Power can be found in David M. Lampton, The Three Faces of Chinese Power: Might, Money, and Minds, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008). [23] Greg Levesque and Mark Stokes, “Blurred Lines: Military-Civil Fusion and the “Going Out” of China’s Defense Industry,” Pinte Bello, December 2016, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/569925bfe0327c837e2e9a94/t/593dad0320099e64e1ca92a5/1497214574912/062017_Pointe+Bello_Military+Civil+Fusion+Report.pdf. [24] Michael Pillsbury, The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower (New York: Griffin, 2016). [25] Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? (Boston, MA: Mariner Books, 2018). [26] Andrew J. Goodpaster, Reminiscences, Aug. 2, 1967, Oral History Collection of Columbia University, 74. [27] Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), xiv, 607–629. [28] L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between (New York: The New York Review of Books, 1953), 17. [29] Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History (New York: Public Affairs, 2017), 8. [30] Freedman, Future of War, 109–110. [31] Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), 15. [32] Freedman, Future of War, 188–189. [33] Freedman, Future of War, 119. [34] Freedman, Future of War, 279. As Freedman puts it: “By early in the twenty-first century it was apparent that the inherited scripts for future war were inadequate. The US military had clung to an ideal type derived from the classical model and then faced a more unruly form of warfare for which it was poorly prepared and from which it struggled to extricate itself. Their British allies believed that they understood the requirements of Iraq based on their peacekeeping experience of Bosnia and aid to the civil power in Northern Ireland, but their scripts were also inadequate; they found themselves struggling even more than the Americans.” Freedman, The Future of War, 222. [35] Freedman, The Future of War, 18–19. [36] Freedman, The Future of War, 78–80. [37] Freedman, The Future of War, 230, 239. [38] Freedman, The Future of War, 63. [39]Thomas H. Kean and Lee Hamilton, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, 2004), 339. [40] The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017, 25, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. [41] Freedman, The Future of War, 267. [42] One plausible explanation, from H.D.S. Greenway, suggests that the United States was guilty primarily of “wish-casting” or optimistically extrapolating American values. This error predates the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In the mid-19th century, a well-meaning missionary from Tennessee taught the gospel to a young man named Hong Xiuquan. Unfortunately, rather than spreading the Word as intended, Hong became convinced he was the brother of Christ and instigated the long and bloody Taiping Rebellion, leaving tens of millions dead. H.D.S. Greenway, “How the United States always ‘gets China wrong,’” Boston Globe, Apr. 13, 2018, https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/04/12/how-united-states-always-gets-china-wrong/ianuhEbqtbheIIl75Sa2IK/story.html. [43] Freedman, The Future of War, 271–273. [44] Freedman, The Future of War, 286. Consider the National Intelligence Council (NIC)’s latest Global Trends product — an unclassified assessment published every four years to help senior U.S. government leaders understand the global environment over the next two decades — which predicts a near-term transformation of the global landscape. The NIC assessment argues: “The post-Cold War era is giving way to a new strategic context. Recent and future trends will converge during the next 20 years at an unprecedented pace to increase the number and complexity of issues, with several, like cyber attacks, terrorism, or extreme weather, representing risks for imminent disruption.” Director of National Intelligence, Global Trends: Paradox of Progress (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, January 2017), https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/nic/GT-Full-Report.pdf, 7. Similarly, an earlier installment of Global Trends argues the international system is becoming more complex as power diffuses and actors multiply. U.S. National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2025: A World Transformed (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Intelligence Council, 2008), x-xi. See also U.S. Department of Defense, The National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2011: Redefining America’s Leadership (Washington DC: Department of Defense, 2011), 1, 5–6, 16. [45] Freedman, The Future of War, xvii–xix. [46] Due to delusions of invulnerability, belief in the inherent morality of the group’s cause, self-censorship and pressure on dissenters, and the illusion of unanimity, organizations often fail to consider alternative courses of action and employ faulty logic leading to bad decisions and sub-optimal outcomes. Irving L. Janis, Victims of Groupthink (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), 9. [47] Risa A. Brooks, Shaping Strategy: the Civil-Military Politics of Strategic Assessment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), 2, 5, 13. [48] Keren Yarhi-Milo, Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessment of Intentions in International Relations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014). [49] See John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: Norton, 2001); Barry Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain and Germany Between the World Wars (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 7-8, 239; Robert Art, A Grand Strategy for America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003); Colin Elman, “Horses for Courses: Why Not Neorealist Theories of Foreign Policy?” Security Studies 6, no. 1 (Autumn 1996): 7–5; Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: Random House, 1979), 121–122. For a review of the assumption of rationality see David A. Lake, “The State and International Relations,” in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations, ed. Christian Reus-Smit and Duncan Snidal (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 41–61. [50] These factors may include but are not limited to regime type, interest groups, bureaucratic politics, and individual presidential leadership style and personality. For a review of this approach, see Richard Rosecrance and Arthur Stein, eds., The Domestic Bases of Grand Strategy (Ithaca: Cornel University Press, 1993). See also Graham Allison, “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” American Political Science Review 63 (1969): 689–718. [51]Kean and Hamilton, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 425–426. [52] Susan B. Glasser, “The Man Who Got Russia Right,” Foreign Policy, Dec. 23, 2011, http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/12/23/the-man-who-got-russia-right/. See also John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (New York: Penguin, 2011). [53] Carlota Perez, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages (Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar, 2003). [54] Niall Ferguson, The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power (London, Allen Lane: 2017). [55] Rahul Bhatia, “The Inside Story of Facebook's Biggest Setback,” Guardian, May 12, 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/12/facebook-free-basics-india-zuckerberg. [56] Paul Mozur, “Blocked in China, Facebook Is Said to Seek a Shanghai Office,” New York Times, Sept. 6, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/technology/facebook-china-shanghai-office.html. [57] Mike Isaac, “Meet Facebook's Secret Propaganda Arm: The Analog Research Lab,” Wired, May 18, 2012, http://www.wired.com/2012/05/analog-research-lab/. [58] Maria Stracqualursi, “The Rise of the Public Benefit Corporation: Considerations for Start-Ups,” BC LAW LAB, http://bclawlab.org/eicblog/2017/3/21/the-rise-of-the-public-benefit-corporation-considerations-for-start-ups. [59] Dan Primack, “Unilever Buys Dollar Shave Club for $1 Billion,” Fortune, July 20, 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/07/19/unilever-buys-dollar-shave-club-for-1-billion/. [60] Leslie Hook, “Waymo-Uber Trial: What's at Stake?” Financial Times, Feb. 4, 2018, http://www.ft.com/content/be56451a-0862-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5. [61] Gary R. Hess, Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), 14–15. [62] Hess, Presidential Decisions for War, 61. [63] Bruce Cummings, The Korean War: A History (The Modern Library, 2011), 159. [64] Jeffery Ward and Ken Burns, The Vietnam War: An Intimate History (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017), 3. [65] Ward and Burns, The Vietnam War, 3. [66] Historical Office, “Robert McNamara,” United States Office of the Secretary of Defense,  http://history.defense.gov/Multimedia/Biographies/Article-View/Article/571271/robert-s-mcnamara/ [67] Hess, Presidential Decisions for War, 134, 93. [68] “Vietnam War Allied Troop Levels 1960–73,” American War Library, https://www.americanwarlibrary.com/vietnam/vwatl.htm. [69] “Infographic: The Vietnam War: Military Statistics,” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, https://www.gilderlehrman.org/content/infographic-vietnam-war-military-statistics. [70] “History and Timeline,” Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, https://www.darpa.mil/about-us/darpa-history-and-timeline?PP=1. [71] Matt Novak, “How the Vietnam War Brought High-Tech Border Surveillance to America” Gizmodo, September 15, 2015, https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/how-the-vietnam-war-brought-high-tech-border-surveillan-1694647526. [72] Gene I. Rochlin, Trapped in the Net: The Unanticipated Consequences of Compterization (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 200. [73] Cheryl Pellerin, “Work: Human-Machine Teaming Represents Defense Technology Future,” DoD News, Nov. 8, 2015, https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/628154/work-human-machine-teaming-represents-defense-technology-future/. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => Table of Contents [contents] => 1. Introduction: A Strategist at Work, by Kori Schake 2. War May not Be Predictable, but there Are Warning Signs, by Michael Brown and Pavneet Singh 3. The Future of War Ain't What It Used to Be, by Mike Gallagher 4. Technology, the Economy, and the Future of War, by Saku Panditharatne 5. Faulty Frames and Techno-Optimism, by Heather M. Roff ) ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 2 [max_num_pages] => 1 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => 1 [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 1c3f5e2903fbdd424cfe531daeafd39e [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )