The Illusion of Control

The Illusion of Control by Robert Gore for Straight Line Logic

Hat tip The Burning Platform

The US empire may be history’s last.

The illusion of control that has sustained the US’s nominal government and its behind-the scenes power since World War II is fading both at home and abroad. In many areas the US military is no longer unquestionably superior and in some is demonstrably inferior. As military prowess goes so goes the American empire. Amplifying the decline and compounding its severity is the US’s perilous finances, deteriorating economy, and mounting political unrest.

That US military power was never all it was cracked it up to be was apparent to astute observers after the Korean War, and was obvious after Vietnam. Possible escalation and humanity’s extinction precluded use of nuclear weapons. However, in both Korea and Vietnam local populations, with assistance from outside allies, withstood mind-boggling barrages of conventional bombs and munitions to gain in Korea a stalemate and in Vietnam a victory.

Vietnam demonstrated the difficulty for invaders of fighting determined insurgents using guerrilla tactics—usually labeled terrorism—defending their home territory. The insurgents know the territory and the language and often enjoy the covert support of the local, ostensibly non-combatant population. In Vietnam they also received covert and overt support from China and the USSR.

The insurgents extracted such a price that eventually the American invaders, plagued by protests and political opposition back home, decided conquest wasn’t worth it. Vietnam illustrated a stark reality, never publicly stated by US military or political leaders: to win the war would have required genocide—essentially wiping out the population. Or to paraphrase the saying popular at the time, to save the country the US would have had to destroy it, inflicting far more damage than the gruesome toll it actually exacted.

Fiascos since Vietnam further confirm that guerrilla insurgency remains problematic for the US military. It stymies one of the US’s main geopolitical objectives—forcing smaller countries to toe the US line. Fighting the insurgencies that objective elicits goes hand-in-hand with subversion, propaganda, intelligence skullduggery, and regime change—whatever’s necessary to extract compliance.

If the US can’t defeat insurgents in smaller countries despite its overwhelming advantages in conventional military power, what would happen in a match with someone its own size, another superpower? Here the illusion of control is most deadly.

Nothing is more dangerous than the belief that the US military is second to none and that it can win whatever offensive engagements it is assigned while also protecting the US homeland and its people. Andrei Martyanov demolishes that illusion in his recently published and highly recommended book, The (Real) Revolution In Military Affairs.

On March 1 2018, Vladimir Putin announced new Russian weapons that had either been deployed or were in advanced states of development. Collectively, the new weapons’ most striking features are hypersonic speeds (ability to travel at five times the speed of sound, Mach 5, or faster) and nuclear power.

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Robert Gore

Robert Gore was born in 1958 in Livermore, California. He grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where both his parents worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His undergraduate education was at UCLA. He graduated in 1980 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in economics and political science. He completed the JD/MBA program at UC Berkeley in 1984. He held part-time jobs throughout undergraduate and graduate school. He passed the bar exam and is an inactive member of the California Bar Association. Mr. Gore’s career in finance began in 1984 with a bank in San Francisco, trading municipal bonds. In 1985, he went to a Wall Street firm’s west coast municipal bond office in Los Angeles as a bond trader. He developed its block and institutional sales capabilities and after four years was promoted to manager of the region.