Monday, December 28, 2009

Some thoughts on Strategic Issues

While catching up on my reading the other day, I found this paper in the Spring 2009 Naval War College Review (which, due to the turtle pace of bulk mail, arrived here in Oct) to have a few snippets that are aligned with the talk of "strategy" here.

Dr Bookman offers this quote from a 1955 paper written by Herbert Rosinski, a Nazi-era émigré German historian:

"Strategy = the comprehensive direction of power to control situations and areas to attain broad objectives." (page 3 of the .pdf document)

To me, what makes an operation "strategic" is that it meets all of the above criteria. The power must be purposefully directed, it must be comprehensively directed, the direction must be for the purpose of controlling situations and areas, and that control must be for the purpose of attaining broad objectives. (I restate the obvious for the purpose of emphasis.) I would offer that lacking any one of those imperative factors renders an operation non-strategic, or results in what becomes "strategic error".

Note that Bookman offers, "Control—and focus on its implications and ramifications—is the active ingredient of Rosinski’s seminal 1955 contribution; as control’s antithesis he points to a “haphazard series of improvisations.”" (pg 5) I would therefore ask if generally reactionary operations can ever be strategic in their application and outcome?

A third snippet that caught my attention was: Objectives refers to actual, not declaratory, strategy. In a world where public relations has become a function of command often no less important than the classic duties of a general staff, it is all too easy for strategists to let their declaratory strategies edit their real goals. In one limiting case of this kind of error, the “objective” is replaced by a mere slogan—which may be accepted with little analysis within an inner circle of high command as well as circulated among a wider public. (pg 5) Bookman addresses the uselessness of the terms "Victory" and "Defeat" as strategic objectives, as they are, in the larger strategic context, meaningless.

With the above snippets in mind, one might ask exactly what are and or were the situations and areas we sought to control in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to achieve broad objectives, and what were these broad objectives? In short, were these two wars initiated with a less than strategic view or fundamentally flawed by strategic error? Were the situations and areas to be controlled sufficient to achieve a stable geopolitical outcome (i.e. - were the objectives sufficiently broad?) and was the power applied comprehensively directed and sufficient to achieve control?

In terms of the second quote, one need only look at the period following the toppling of the two governments to see a “haphazard series of improvisations" that, as Rosinski says, lead us to understand how this antithesis of control allowed both theaters to fall into chaos. Whether or not history tells us that both nations may be unmanageable, the very lack of serious Phase IV operations ensured that history need not be the driving force. Rather, our lack of strategic vision sealed the deal.

Last of all, is the issue of slogans as strategic objectives. One could easily find sloganeering in the stated objectives of both wars, no less the GWOT. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find significant statements of the control that was to be exercised over specifically identified situations and areas. Yes, we were going to stand up two governments, or help them stand up, but what control can one have over such a situation, especially when we are claiming to allow them to do so by an almost immediate imposition of democracy? Is democracy really subject to control by an external power?

One will also find a mention of the pitfalls of "weapons based strategy". Perhaps all our discussion about COIN could be seen as a "tactics based strategy" discussion. Has the tactic displaced or skewed strategic thinking? Can COIN meet the criteria Rosinski sets out for strategy? Does it provide the comprehensive direction of power to control situations and areas to attain broad objectives, or is it a bit too reactive, and thereby too haphazard and improvisational to rise to strategic effect?

Just food for discussion.


  1. Al-

    Nice thread. I like the definition of strategy, but think that there is a step before this one, that is what puts the whole effort in to context.

    "The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgement that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish by that test [war should never be thought of as something autonomous but always as an instrument of policy] the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive."

    On War, Book I, Ch 1, Section 27.

    This was the basic mistake made by the Bush Administration imo and from it all of their other errors stemed.

  2. "Strategy = the comprehensive direction of power to control situations and areas to attain broad objectives."

    "control" is a very poor word for the definition, way too ambitious.
    I'd prefer "influence sufficiently".

    Modesty is important in life.

  3. "Whether or not history tells us that both nations may be unmanageable, the very lack of serious Phase IV operations ensured that history need not be the driving force. Rather, our lack of strategic vision sealed the deal."

    I would argue that this wasn't a bug, it was a feature, and the defining quality of the Bush/Cheney cabal's failure to understand what they were doing.

    We never had the capability, or tried to develop the capability, to "do PhIV". Eric Shinseki seems to have been pretty close when he estimated that a classic Army of Occupation style operation would have required somewhere between 200K and 400K for a period of some 5-10 years.

    At the time we had an Army of 1.2 million in 2002-2003 and that's if you include every swinging richard in the USAR and ARNG. The RA of the time was barely over 500K.

    So, realistically, there was no way we COULD have done what you're suggesting, not for more than a brief period. And anyone who understood the political and economic realities in the Land of the Two Rivers (like, say, the people from State who did the country study we ignored) knew that an 18-month occupation would be less than useless.

    Honestly, the Iraq/A-stan situations seemed to cry out for the methods we're using right now in Yemen; targeted assassinations (though I'd argue that "targeting" people with drone missiles is foolish. If you can't lay a knife to the neck of the man you want to kill you're doing yourself more harm than good), military training (although I have no idea who is doing this training, or how good it is), and military, economic and political aid to the civil power.

    The FIRST strategic question prior to any foreign internal defense operation should be "Will the introduction of our maneuver forces be productive in teh short/medium/long term compared to less intrusive military means?" That question appears to have been answered incorrectly in A-stan and never asked in Iraq. We had a hammer, so we looked hard to find ways to make each region look like a nail.

  4. Sven: as is a realistic assessment of geopolitical possibilities.

    There is little or no real possibility that a foreign power - short of doing an Alexander and marrying into the local elite (and look where that got him) - can "control" the politics of central Asia.

    But we can "influence" them and, I would argue, is a legitimate use of Great Power force, be it military, economic or political. We do need to be realistic about our limitations, and not hang too heavy a political outcome on the relatively unreliable prop of our "man in Kabul".

  5. FDChief: So, realistically, there was no way we COULD have done what you're suggesting, not for more than a brief period.

    If you are thinking that I was suggesting or supporting any "Phase" of offensive ground operations, no less Phase IV, you miss my point. Only an idiot like Rumsnamara, who embraced, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want", enabled by sycophantic generals and an ideologically blinded administration would blissfully go along with the voluntary initiation of the two invasions we launched.

    Yes, Shinseki was correct, and had anyone with an ounce of strategic sense been in the room, they would have realized that we were incapable of doing a complete job with the path we we to take. Thus, what we embarked upon was not strategy, but strategic error. Plain and simple strategic error.

    But then, "influence" is for sissies, not cowboys.

  6. Al: No, no, not for a moment.

    I realize what you're saying. It's just that the problem wasn't that their strategic thinking was flawed. As you say, any analysis of the actual mission ("Remove the potential threat of an aggressively hostile Iraq to regional stability by invading and replacing the Baath kleptocracy of Hussein with a stable, Western-leaning (preferably representative) government") would have resulted in the realization that to even have a HOPE of success you would have needed a post-1945-type Army of Occupation-scale force. We had no such force and had no hope of mobilizing one short of full-on national conscription.

    No, the problem was that they must have realized this and, therefore, abandoned strategic thinking all together, preferring to rely on shock, awe and magical ponies. The problem was that there WAS no strategic error because there was no strategy. Or the error was that there was no strategy.

    Like the Germans in 1941, they invaded because they could do the tactics, not because they had a strategy. And, like the Germans, they discovered that once you're ass-deep in the swamp its a bad time to realize you have no plan for getting out.

  7. To all,
    I want to comment on the GWOT and the concept of reactionary ops as seen in the post.
    The GWOT was and is totally reactive as is ALL counter terrorism endeavors. We always react and do not possess the initiative. We cover this base by saying that we are PROACTIVE which is but a smokescreen for the reality that we are jumping thru our apexes.
    We are always reactive and that's not the cat bird seat.

  8. Everyone seems to be saying about the same thing. Howsabout this?

    Change the perspective. While the US fighting "a war against terrorism" which overthrows states - and in the case of Iraq - a state that had no connection with Al Qaida or 9/11, seems to lack any strategic sense at all, those same actions from Israel's perspective make much more sense. Especially if you're a high DoD official named Doug Feith and you helped write a paper for the Israeli government in 1996 called, "A Clean Break" . . .

    Then of course there was also the situation with that new Iraqi flag which makes it even more obvious . . .

    History has instances where one country operates in the strategic interest of another, to their own disadvantage, even to the point of (unintentional) "suicide", as in Czarist Russia's support of French policy goals in the First World War . . .

    In other words there was a "strategy" (roughly following Rosinski's definition), but not the one they were selling the American people, rather a very different one with quite different goals . . .

  9. I'm not sure if Dougie and the Neoconartists were that smart.

    I'm sure that one of the major motives behind their Iraq adventure was to replace Saddam with someone more favorable to Israel. They just had no clue how to do it - their boy, Chalabi, was a broken reed - and ended up leaving things...probably not THAT much worse, but no better.

    So even if the strategic goal was "Use U.S. military force to tip the balance of power in the Middle East in Israel's favor" the chance of a favorable outcome without the muscle to remake Iraq wholesale wasn't good.

    So I'll go with Al - whether the original goal was to further the U.S.'s interests or Israel's - their choice to proceed when the military resources were so inadequate to the task constitutes criminal strategic negligence.

  10. Jim: The GWOT was and is totally reactive as is ALL counter terrorism endeavors. We always react and do not possess the initiative. We cover this base by saying that we are PROACTIVE which is but a smokescreen for the reality that we are jumping thru our apexes.

    Are you suggesting that our objective is, in effect, a slogan?

    In all reality, once offensive military operations toward "regime change" in the two countries began, the situation became pure and simple classical war. Further, "change" is a far more complex issue than the simple defeat and banishment of the original regime. In Iraq, particularly, we not only defeated the regime, but eliminated the entire governmental structure, public safety and most of the societal support infrastructure. If the broad strategic objective was a new "regime", did we provide the comprehensive direction of power to control situations and areas to attain the broad objective of a functioning new regime? Or does regime simply mean putting a new crew in charge without concern for governmental structure, public safety and most of the societal support infrastructure. Of course, in the GWB world, where government is the enemy, why would we consider the re-establishment of governmental structure, public safety and most of the societal support infrastructure to be something significant?

    As I have posted before, this is not a counter-insurgency, but US created chaos.

  11. I'm not saying that it was a sound "strategy", but rather thinking of the two wars from this perspective is the only one that makes any strategic sense. It indicates what the actual motives were and where to lay the blame. It also shows how difficult it will be for the US to come to terms with what happened here since there are a couple of "unspeakable truths" in US politics involved. Powerful political interests leading to a very specific "strategy" which was presented as something quite different. The aftermath of what happened is explained by their ideology, which remains the central ideology of the US today, that the private market can do things better than state entities. Need a new state? Let the "market" (actually corrupt politically connected economic interests) come in and watch the magic. A simplistic view? Of course, but very much one of our times, and still alive and kicking . . . A hopelessly corrupt and self-defeating escapade? Of course, but one that reflects the character of our political elite and their operating logic, what we have allowed to be done in our name.

    As an illustration of this kind of thinking, you brought up the Nazi attack on the USSR in 1941. In August 1941, the view of most Western military experts was that the Soviet regime might last another six weeks before being crushed by the Wehrmacht. Nobody was predicting a Soviet resurgence and saw their collapse as only a question of time. Anyone who had seen the German Army up close and/or the Red Army up close had little doubt as to which would come out on top.

    Yet the reality was much more complex than the metrics that people were measuring, the sources of power at the Soviet's disposal and the limits of German power were simply not apparent to most learned observers at the time. What we see today as the foregone conclusion was not even seen as a remote possibility in the summer of 1941.

    So was the problem the obsersers? Or the nature of what they were observing?

    If we bring both these points together (specific political conditions and the complex nature of war) we find they make up different sides of the same coin.

  12. To all,
    My cmt is only focused on Terrorism counteraction and not larger issues.

  13. Great article - I was, at the end, hoping that the article was longer. Would have appreciated more discussion on the "strategy as destruction" concept. Really appreciated the tie-in of the MRAPs as an example of the logistics-strategy struggle. Did the US govt screw up its strategy because of a desire to wait for MRAPs to get thru the system? Didn't we result in a "protection" strategy as a result that bumped the original "get Afghani govt better" strategy? Will have to review this article again, very deep stuff.

  14. Jim-

    I think I understood your comment. My opinion is that we have mixed war with terrorism counteraction, and have been doing a poor job of both.

    Of course there is no way to know what was going through the minds of GWB & Co, but I suspect that one driving force for them as well as the much population was that they had no ability or willingness to accept a reactive or defensive posture in dealing with an act of terror. This was further aggravated by the unthinkable nature of 9/11. By unthinkable, I mean an act wherein 19 people purposefully surrendered their lives for their beliefs, as contrasted with the cultural norm in the US of some people possibly being willing to risk their lives for their beliefs.

    Denial of the inevitability of our mortality (to include an abject fear of death) is a growing American behavior, as far as I'm concerned. One example is the shift from funerals to "celebrations of life" and other rituals that minimize the fact that a person one knew is now, to be blunt, dead. It is more and more common to avoid any reminder that all lives end in death. Another is the billions spent each year to extend lives a few months or Terri Schiavo types of situations. I have commented to friends that GWB's consistent avoidance of funerals and memorial services for specific persons soon after death is telling about someone who might be able to deal with death in the abstract, but not in the particular. That's the short version of a pervasive and powerful phenomenon that is common in the US.

    So, take the fact that there are people committed to dying to kill Americans and combine it with a cultural fear of death, and you have the perfect storm. A.Q. knew exactly what would strike fear into the hearts of our culture, and they only need a couple of thousand zealots who will cheerfully embrace their own death for what they believe to keep us expending our national treasure to avoid confronting our own mortality.

    I am not being fatalistic here. There is a difference between totally passive fatalism and accepting one's mortality. One could offer that when 9/11 confronted the general populace with a taste of their mortality, we simply broke out in a**holes and tried to sh*t ourselves to death.

    So yes, terrorism counteraction is very reactive. There are reasonable preventative measures that can be taken, but if one thinks that every potential threat is subject to detection and prevention, one is a fool. Something is bound to slip through the cracks, or someone will discover and exploit a heretofore undiscovered crack. Man is not omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent nor immortal, so terrorist acts cannot be prevented with 100% certainty.

    There is a very powerful, cultural issue underlying the past nine years that precluded any real strategic thought by the administration and a broad portion of the population. I would be very prone to call it a pathology rather than just an issue, and pathology does not lend itself to clear and rational thought.

  15. Jason & All-

    The NWC Review is good reading, and I look forward to the arrival of every issue. I prefer to wait for my print copy versus reading it on line, as I like to write notes, cross references and suggestions for further investigation as I go along.

    But, more than anything. The Review publishes some great stuff that departs from the "Party Line". My experience at Newport was that strategic thought and studies were the underpinning of the College. I noticed that their Command and Staff College curriculum invested more time in required strategic studies than we were offered as only electives in CGSC at Leavenworth.

  16. Al: You mirror what I was thinking as I was reading about the garment-rending and chest-beating going on about the Nigerian who lit his 'nards on fire over Detriot.

    This is classic foolishness and the sort of raging insanity that the Greeks described when the said "Whom Fortune wishes to destroy she first makes mad."

    Our manic fear of this sort of thing makes us wrap ourselves in knots and spend millions in a vain attempt to make our "safety" absolute. Wherever he's getting dialysis in Hell bin Laden must be laughing as he watches the largest, most powerful empire in history leap shrieking onto a chair like a housewife in a Tom and Jerry cartoon because some nutjob set a light to his pants.

    We weren't this panicked about Hitler and Tojo, and they had entire armies, navies, powerful national forces at their command.

    When the hell did we become such fucking nellies?

  17. Aviator,
    We're not too far apart.

  18. "We weren't this panicked about Hitler and Tojo, and they had entire armies, navies, powerful national forces at their command."

    That's likely incorrect. The U.S. freaked out about these threats, at least once it was involved. That's at least my impression after the consumption of many history books.

    The fearmongering is a media and political elite dysfunction in my opinion. It's sad that even in the state of fear, most are unable to imagine how fearful others are.

    Look at the Iranians:
    - had been forced into the tyranny of a dictator (Shah) for decades by a U.S.-backed coup
    - have been invaded by Iraq once they got rid of said dictator
    - immediate neighbour to militarily superior Turkey, a member of the most powerful alliance on earth that unites three nuclear powers including the U.S. (and cleared its air bases for U.S. use again and again)
    - immediate neighbour of several historical enemies (relations tainted by an ancient religious break)
    - assumes that domestic minority resistance movements were instigated by foreign powers
    - had an airliner shot down by the USN
    - had much of its navy destroyed by the supposedly neutral power USA in the defensive Iraq-Iran War
    - unable to import and afford modern military equipment
    - immediate neighbour of the CIS
    - immediate neighbour of the nuclear power Pakistan
    - immediate neighbour of Afghanistan while being in opposition to Taliban and AQ
    - they think they're something special, and their claim to exceptionality rests of thousands of years of civilization

    Still, few seem to be able to understand that there may be a defensive purpose for the Iranian nuclear program (if there's a military side of it at all).

  19. Al-

    Well try again . . . lost my long comment.

    Just wanted to make a few comments about the article which I found very interesting.

    The author doesn't like game theory applied to strategy and gives a series of valid reasons against game theory. I agree, but would add a basic one for me which is that game theory equates consistent action with rationality, but we can't make that assumption in the complex social interaction of war, especially a war between two very different political communities.

    Their distinction between "bureaucracy" and "logistics" as two different forces. At first I found this odd, but the more I thought about it the more sense it made. Have a logistics system is different from controlling the system.

    They equate logistics with strategy at the highest level, or simply "logistics is the military means". This is fine as far as it goes, but as you know I'm interested in the link between political purpose and military aim. There is no mention of this link (understandably enough from a naval perspective) but could not the unfeasability of the logistics fail to support the political purpose? The author does mention that non-military type mission logistics are "significantly less well incorporated in US logistics capabilities", but what exactly does that mean?

    The "snowballing effect" seems very American to me. What other country has the ability or need to build these huge logistics systems? Do they not make do with the logistics that they have? Improvisation, or making do with less, and sticking to the essentials?

    Avoiding a "weapons strategy" or a "strategy of destruction" and focusing on a "strategy-as-control" seems to me the reasoning of one who has this huge logistics system and is attempting to make sure that the system doesn't start dictating the strategy, rather than the strategy guiding the logistics. American problems once again, where else but in US operations has this been a "problem"? We're not talking about bad organization here (As in JU-52s landing in the Stalingrad pocket loaded with condoms) but the sheer size of the logistics system itself causing problems (snowball effect).

    What the author means by the "false equation of strategy as destruction" is unclear. He mentions the current assumptions behind the use of WMDs (but doesn't include nukes here) but then footnotes strategic bombing during WWII.

    In all a well-presented and thoughtful article on this aspect of military/naval strategy and the associated logistics.

    The comment as to the added logistical complexity of 21st Century political operations (of which the military aspect is but a part) should give any military strategist pause when reporting to his political superiors what is actually feasible in terms of the military instrument and lead to questions as to what non-military logistics capabilities are to be brought into play . . .

  20. Sven,
    Your cmts on Iran are way too realistic for Amuricans to grasp their meaning.

  21. Chief-

    I would have to agree with Sven on the "fear" issue. I'd just begin with "Manzanar". However, we were faced with a real and significant existential threat in WWII.

  22. "significant existential threat"?
    Seriously, the urge to add "significant " to "existential" should ring an alert in itself.

    The U.S. wasn't very dependent on non-American raw material imports in the 40's; those were mostly luxury imports.

    Neither Germany nor Japan had a realistic chance of successfully invading North America, not even if the war had lasted for a decade.

    Even Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan combined were no "existential threat" to the U.S..

    The Japanese merely attempted to replace European colonialism with Japanese imperialism at a time when U.S. businessmen were eagerly awaiting the business opportunities that the end of European rule in SE Asia would offer.

    Germany was 'merely' attempting to marginalize other European great powers, colonialize Russia's heartland and maybe take over colonies in Africa.
    There was no thought of turning the U.S. brown or forcing Americans to speak German.

    The only existential threats in U.S. history were the British till the early 19th and Soviet strategic nukes during the Cold War.
    All other "treats" were luxury problems.

  23. Sven-

    I take your point as to hyperbole concerning what a lot of Americans think about World War II, no there was no interest in forcing us to learn German. Also, I don't think you find that here on this blog.

    On the other hand how exactly do you define "existential" as in "existential threat"? Threat to a cultural/ethnic group's very existance? The political identity of said group? The requirements for sustaining a political community's "way of life"? The great power status of said political community? The "essential interests" of said great power? Threats to all of these could be defined as "existential", depending on the context. For instance one could say the Nazis were an existential threat to the Jewish people and at the same time say that the Soviet Union in 1944-45 was an existantial threat to the Nazi State, while finally saying that World War II was an existential threat to the British Empire. All are true statements, but the use of the term "existential threat" is quite different in each.

    I think one could argue that Nazi Germany was an "existential threat" to US status as a great power, at the least.

    You argue that the Nazis had "limited goals", but if that were true why did Hitler declare war on the US? There was no reason to bring in another hostile power with his own armies deep in Russia and having a bit of a hard time. On the other hand his action brings out the character of the Nazi regime itself which as Robert Paxton points out in his "The Anatomy of Fascism":

    "Fascist regimes could not settle down into a comfortable enjoyment of power. . . Fascist regimes had to produce an impression of driving momentum - "permanent revolution" - in order to fulfill their promises. They could not survive without the headlong, inebriating rush forward. Without an ever-mounting spiral of ever more daring challenges, fascist regimes risked decaying into something resembling a tepid authoritarianism. With it, they drove toward a final paroxysm of self-destruction . . ."

  24. He was a moron, that's why he declared war on the U.S.. He had this plan about conquering Russian land to feed the growth of the German nation to triple size. He also understood that this empire would be challenged by distant great powers and expected the final struggle to be with the U.S.. He got it mixed up and took on four great powers at once, thus spelling his own doom.
    The 'best' he could achieve in WW2 was nevertheless a stalemate, not a victory over the U.S. - the Atlantic was too wide, even the English channel proved to be too wide. Keep in mind the importance of boots on the ground and the effort required to send an army across the small English channel.

    About "existential threats":
    I'm living in a country that had lost 80% of its urban buildings, much of its territory, was split in two remaining states, lost great power status and sovereignty for 45 years and it had a nation-wide 10% average death toll in a single war (soldiers and civilians combined).

    I assume that explains why I'm a bit disrespectful in regard to the notion that luxury problems are "existential threats" or violate "vital national interests".

    Btw, that Paxton quote is crap. Keep in mind that Italy did pretty much nothing in its first 12 years of being a fascist power and quasi-fascist Latin American regimes didn't fit the quote as well.
    Germany had a long to-do list due to the Versailles Treaty, no wonder revoking that treaty's consequences looked like an escalation. A daring conservative foreign policy could have looked quite similar up to '38.

  25. Sven-

    Paxton's quote explains the nature of the Nazi regime better than you do: "he was a moron". Which begs the question, Ok so why did so many intelligent people follow him?

    Paxton's book is good reading in that he creates an "ideal type" of fascism and then compares the various governments labelled as "fascist" to the ideal type. Italy in certain respects diverges from the ideal type in certain characteristics. In all a very Weberian approach, and a standard text used in political theory courses today. I would balance Paxton with Hannah Arendt's "The Origins of Totalitarianism" to get a very interesting perspective on the subject. I've been considering doing a thread on Arendt's ideal type of totalitarianism as a yardstick for today, but her argument is so complex and rich in sublime ways that I know I could never do it justice.

    As to the German connection I understand where you're coming from, but my point is that - especially in English - a word can have different meanings based on the context in which it is used.

  26. Sven,

    "The fearmongering is a media and political elite dysfunction in my opinion."

    I think you are right on on this statement. More specifically, on the media. How has a veracious, 24 hour a day, ratings (money) hungry media impacted our polices and our world?

    This week, with the "Christmas bomber", we are seeing multiple media outlets crying, "Where is the President, how dare he take 3 days to make a statement, the people of America deserve to hear that everything is going to be okay." What a bunch of crap, so me one real American who said that (politicians aside). So opponents of the President, who criticize out of political necessity, make this statement. The media, who need to keep things going 24 hours a day, clutch on to this hoping to make it a story, and they do. And the President reacts by making a statement, not because the people of America rose up and demanded it, but because the media said so.

    One might even make an argument that money is inhibiting the freedom of the press, because news producers will always present us news that will increase ratings over news that is just simply informative but not sexy. I have a crazy, novel solution. Let's make it illegal for media sources to be "for profit", make them non profit organizations only. Ratings will become meaningless and now the media's only focus can be on true journalism, not sensationalism, not creating stories, but real reporting and education.

  27. "Paxton's quote explains the nature of the Nazi regime better than you do: "he was a moron"."

    Come on, that's a strawman argument.

    I explained the declaration of war on the U.S. in the midst of a huge & difficult world war with "moron".
    The foreign policy of Hitler up to 1938 was explained as a daring policy against the Versailles Treaty. That's a much better explanation than Paxton's, which fails in 50% of the two pure fascist country examples and meets no other quasi-fascist examples (as for example Spain).

    B2topic; even the fascist regimes had their strategy, they were not driven by some ideological autopilot. Some of their ideas of foreign policy were extremely stupid, but Hitler at least had a grand strategy. He had it since 1924.

    Mussolini had at least what we'd today call a 'vision'; dominance of the Mediterranean region, Roman style. Italy had no means to achieve that on its own, so there was no use for a strategy.

    Britain failed in its balance of power strategy completely due to economic exhaustion.

    France was a sitting duck without strategy, unable to even invite Poles and Czechs into a defensive alliance in time because they were too slow making their minds up about whether Stalin might be a partner.

    Japan had its grand strategy, which involved submission of E/SE Asia for economic exploitation with Japan as regional successor of the European empires.

    The U.S. had no grand strategy to speak of - it merely contained Japan economically, which eventually lead to war.

    Stalin's strategy is still unknown because the Russians don't seem to release all archives.

  28. Sven-

    Haven't you got something better to do tonight? . . . ;-)> Me? I'm having a great time.

    As to Paxton, well you'd have to read the book, and understand the concept of an "ideal type" which is basic to Max Weber, the famous German social scientist.