[May 5, 2021] A recent article in War Room, a U.S. Army War College’s professional publication, addresses an important strategic issue.1,2 With global proclivity to deter all war, senior political leaders must come to grips with a new age of economic, informational, and political competition.
“The majority of military theories that underpin modern U.S. strategy and doctrine are drawn from Napoleonic Era theorists who focused heavily on decisive battlefield conflict. In today’s post-information age, however, armed conflict represents the least likely manifestation of competition.”
Using military force is limited by increasing economic interdependence among nations, robust deterrence strategies, and a changing global view that kinetic war is an unacceptable way to settle disputes. This paradigm shift is massive and unprecedented. It means that we must address the changing strategic importance of other forms of conflict.
“To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
In “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu analyzes options to mass, protracted warfare and proposes strategies based on deception, surprise, alliances, and information dominance to ensure success in a conflict. A close reading of his works allows us to develop competitive strategies beyond our current binary view of war (war versus non-war).
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
The first thing that we must acknowledge is that there exists a space between war and peace. That “space” can be addressed with the right approach. And, this area is neglected by current, large nation-states like the U.S. and most of Europe. Other adversaries emphasize irregular approaches in their competitive starts to negate Western advantages to exploit our disadvantages.
“Russia and China, the two principal revisionist actors, codified in the 2017 NSS, have both developed an array of unconventional strategies that focus on expanding their international influence to achieve national security objectives. Russia’s Gerasimov Doctrine and China’s Three Warfares strategy both seek to expand global power and influence through the synchronization and execution of below established threshold activities.”
Sun Tzu tells us that the ultimate goal of warfare is to win without fighting. Sun Tzu reveals why so many nations struggle in competition in the gap below kinetic warfare. The West’s binary view of war is inadequate. To be a global competitor, the West must radically improve its information, political, and economic dominance.
- Much of this article summarizes James P. Micciche’s article published in War Room on March 18, 2021. I highly recommend the article, which is linked to in footnote #1 above.