Attack Is a Matter of Vulnerability

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As
the US military surrounds Iraq, the great forum provided by LewRockwell.com
has presented many arguments concerning an invasion of Iraq. Adding
weight to these arguments, it is time to examine the wisdom of such
an aggressive measure, particularly from a military standpoint.

Proponents
for an invasion of Iraq fail to offer much in the form of wisdom.
Wisdom, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, entails
the ability to discern or judge what is true or right, usually by
aid of learning through the ages or the wise teachings of ancient
sages. Granted some proponents of invasion have looked to the past
for legitimacy, however, Gene
Callahan
pointed out that the historical proponents twisted
the past for an invasion justification. Such mendacity, by invasion
proponents, lacks wisdom as well.

Using
as our moral guide, Sun Tzu's The
Art of War
, let us examine the wisdom of past invasions
as well as of the proposed invasion (attack) of Iraq. I believe
the wisdom offered by Sun Tzu should be internalized in all people
who use arms, from the "Army of One" to those exercising
their Second Amendment rights. There are many interpretations of
the Chinese text, and I particularly like the translation written
by Thomas Cleary. I carry a pocket
edition
of the book in my backpack. The book has practical applications
for fistfights, arguments, and military operations.

Sun
Tzu says:

In
ancient times skillful warriors first made themselves invincible,
and then watched for vulnerability in their opponents. Invincibility
is in oneself, vulnerability is in the opponent. Therefore skillful
warriors are able to be invincible, but they cannot cause opponents
to be vulnerable.

Invincibility
is a matter of defense, vulnerability is a matter of attack.

Looking
first at invincibility, we see that it is in control of the individual
or the decision-maker. A warrior can build his faculties such that
no opponent can successfully attack him. A great example of invincibility,
the Swiss
army
, emulates Sun Tzu's code perfectly. The Swiss militia was
so strong and invincible, that the Nazis did not dare attempt a
maneuver on the Swiss. With every man armed and with the ability
to hit point targets at 300 meters, the Swiss example points to
another of Sun Tzu's great maxims, "…those who win every battle
are not really skillful — those who render others' armies helpless
without fighting are the best of all."

Looking
to the flip side, vulnerability, we are instructed that it is a
matter of attack. If an individual chooses to attack, then the individual
will become vulnerable. In the simple example of a fistfight on
the playground, the aggressing kid will become vulnerable if he
lunges to punch another in the face. He will be vulnerable to a
defensive counterattack by the defender, particularly if that defender
has made himself invincible. The aggressor will become vulnerable
to the school authorities and parents enforcing a code of conduct.
In an argument one can use ad hominem attacks or other mendacious
tactics to intimidate an opponent into accepting a thesis. However,
such attacks make an argument vulnerable, weakening it to a fallacy.

In
the sphere of military conflict, aggressors are always made vulnerable
by their attacks. Hannibal's invasion of Rome devastated his great
army. The aggressive Spanish Armada was annihilated by the defense
of the English navy. Pickett's charge was vulnerable to the defensive,
high ground position of the Union army, leading to the Confederate
defeat at Gettysburg. In fact, General Lee's invasion into the North
ultimately led to the fall of the Confederacy. In World War II,
both Germany and Japan aggressively attacked vast amounts of territory.
Eventually, Ally forces took advantage of Axis vulnerability and
destroyed it. Of course, in both the Civil War and WWII, the US
Federal involvement in counterattacks made it more vulnerable with
the erosion of civil liberties and the destruction of productive
economic capital. In our most recent example, Saddam Hussien invaded
Kuwait to give his regime greater access to Persian Gulf ports.
Despite the permissive stance by the US ambassador, Hussien's regime
made itself vulnerable to US/UN counterattack. Hussien's army was
driven from Kuwait and his country was laid to ruin by years of
embargo and air strikes.

From
both a rational and empirical perspective, vulnerability is a matter
of attack.

Now
how about the current invasion of Iraq? Is it wise? Well, the United
States will most likely defeat the Iraqi army and end the Hussien
regime. But the attack will make the US vulnerable. It will make
the US quite vulnerable to attacks from the Arab world. Whether
Sunni or Shi, the US will become terrorist target number one, replacing
Israel. US military units deployed all over the planet will become
a greater target than they already are. And most of all, the union
of States will become more vulnerable to terrorism with its collectivist
defense system spread thin all over the planet and its civil liberties
(the Bill of Rights are a hallmark of self-defense) in shambles.

Sun
Tzu says that attacks are for times of surplus or fullness. It’s
hard to justify that this country is at a time of surplus. Right
now the future of the US is mortgaged to a cross of paper. Mired
in debt, the economic health of Americans from the consumer to the
government is on life support. Would it be wise to attack from such
a point of emptiness? According to Sun Tzu, no:

When
a country is impoverished by military operations, it is because
of transporting supplies to a distant place. Transport supplies
to a distant place, and the populace will be impoverished.

Unlike
the first Gulf War, this one will not involve financial assistance
from Kuwaiti Emirs, Saudi Princes, or other countries involved in
a coalition against Iraq. This time a majority of the war will be
financed through monetary inflation and the issuance of Treasury
debt. Also unlike the first Gulf War, this war may need to involve
a siege of Baghdad to put Saddam in checkmate. It would be hard
for the politicians to call for one of their pretend air war victories
like in the Balkans or Afghanistan. Such as siege would be at a
devastating cost, due to the drain sieges have on supplies, and
most of all lives. As supplies are drained in the siege, costs will
be compounded with the mobilization of supplies to the distant place.
All this, of course, will be done at the expense of the US taxpayer
and holders of US dollars, impoverished by one of the biggest logistics
efforts in the history of warfare. Let's also not forget that we
are sending supplies, equipment, and personnel to other distant
places like, the Balkans, Western Europe, various points in Africa,
Indonesia, Okinawa, and Korea. Such a drain on the US economy can
not be sustained forever. Eventually, the market will master a vulnerable
US government.

This
will be the first big-time US war, primarily financed by the US,
since Vietnam. It was then, in 1973, when the last remnants of any
monetary discipline, under the Bretton Woods Agreement, were abolished
by the Nixon administration. This time with absolutely no monetary
discipline (or
military discipline for that matter
), the US will make its economy
more vulnerable than it ever has in its history. As anyone who studies
the sound principles of money understands, the value of paper money
is based on trust. It will be hard for the world to trust the currency
of a nation that is no longer free, no longer able to abide by its
laws, and seen by the world as an aggressor to the sovereignty of
others.

So
attack! But don't forget it will make you quite vulnerable and ultimately
impoverished.

January
30, 2003

Casey
Khan [send him mail]
works as a risk analyst in Phoenix, AZ, where he lives with his
wife.


     

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