John Robb on his website states one of his thoughts on the current state of the overall strategy towards terrorisms.
A radical improvement in marketing war.
The US military learned from Vietnam that it needed to be much better at marketing wars to domestic audiences in order to prevent moral collapse. It has gotten better at this, and that information operations/strategic communications capability has reached a new level of effectiveness with General Petraeus. Despite this improvement, the military and its civilian leadership still don’t have the ability to garner wide domestic support for guerrilla wars beyond the initial phases. However, they do have the ability to maintain support within a small but vocal base — as seen in the use of weblogs to generate grass roots support for war — and the capability to trump those that call for withdrawal (by keeping the faintest glimmer of potential success alive and using fear/uncertainty/doubt FUD to magnify the consequences of defeat). In our factional political system, that is sufficient to prevent withdrawal.
The threat that justifies the state and the perpetual war that codifies it.
The ongoing threat of terrorism has become the primary justification for the existence of a strong nation-state (and its greatest instrument of power, the military) at the very moment it finds itself in decline due to globalization (or more accurately: irrelevance). The militarization of “the war against terrorism” reverses this process of dissipation, since it can be used to make the case for the acquisition of new powers, money, and legitimacy (regardless of party affiliation) — for example, everything from increases in conventional military spending to the application of technical reconnaissance on domestic targets. Of course, this desire for war at the political level is complimented by the huge number of contractors (and their phalanxes of lobbyists) attracted by the potential of Midas level profits from the privatization of warfare. The current degree of corporate participation in warfare makes the old “military industrial complex” look tame in comparison.
The privatization of conflict.
This is likely the critical factor that makes perpetual warfare possible. For all intents and purposes, the US isn’t at war. The use of a professional military in combination with corporate partners has pushed warfare to the margins of political/social life. A war’s initiation and continuation is now merely a function of our willingness/ability to finance it. Further, since privatization mutes moral opposition to war (i.e. “our son isn’t forced to go to war to die”) the real damage at the ballot box is more likely to impact those that wish to end its financing. To wit: every major presidential candidate in the field today now gives his/her full support to the continuation of these wars.
(bolding and italics mine, slightly edited to make it fit)
We also know that Admiral Fallon has a different responsibility and viewpoint than General Patreus for overall strategy, although both men have been assigned jobs to do and to succeed. General Patraeus, perhaps rightly, declined to comment today on overall strategy. As a specialist assigned to do a job, you rightly jump in with both feet and follow directives and orders with the war you have.
But we as citizens cannot afford to discuss tactical issues only. It is not our job, nor that of Congress, to limit our concern. Nor should the mantra of ‘Trust me’ be accorded this administration, nor its agents, as convincing evidence.
ilsm suggested adding the lead in. Here it is.
“The reason is that the moral weaknesses that have traditionally limited the state’s ability to fight long guerrilla wars have dissipated, and modern states may now have the ability and the desire to wage this type of war indefinitely.”