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The term “asymmetrical warfare” is used to describe a situation where the military capabilities and options of the two sides are wildly different. While the underpowered side would normally be squashed, it could also be super creative and exploit the “Achilles Heel” of the more powerful side.
In Star Wars, the Rebel Alliance took down The Empire. I always dismissed that plot because the Rebel Alliance was just so pathetic. But then again, we were hit with the 9/11 attacks.
Guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers) has a second career. He studied missile defense on his own, published some original ideas, and has since become a consultant to the US military. And one of the things he specializes in is creative out-of-the-box thinking applied to asymmetrical warfare. Musicians are adept at improvisation and creativity, so there is a connection here.
This talk of his is wonderful (starts at 08:00):
Traditional war is difficult and messy. You have to pick some major cities to attack, transport an army over, set up bombing runs, there are complicated logistics involving personel, equipment, provisions, medical, expenses, and so forth. And assembling all that surely won’t go unnoticed. And the battle might not be successful. And lives will be lost. And even if it is successful, the other side will likely retaliate. Then things can get really bad.
So if you really wanted to successfully attack a nation, it would make sense to consider something more subtle. Asymmetrical warfare strategies are starting to make a lot of sense.
First off, you’d want to do as much of it as silently as possible. Having the preparation go undetected would certainly be a huge advantage. Catch ’em off guard. But if the actual attack could be undetected, then they won’t know what is going on. And retaliation would be difficult because they won’t know who did it.
Sort of like a thief stealing one item each day from a victim’s home, it would take them a while to even notice that they’d been robbed.
So the goal might be to attack the nation in such a way that they wouldn’t notice, but it would leave the nation roughly as crippled as if they had lost a war.
One way would be bribe government officials to make really bad decisions.
Here’s how that might work:
- Take a problem and hype it as being existentially important. Examples might include global warming, pollution, poverty, inequality, health care costs, a bad economy, a variation of the flu, bad K-12 education, expensive college costs, the cost of homes, racism, whatever.
- Write legislation to fund a massive project to address this problem. It’s important that it costs a lot, as draining the treasury is a goal.
- Bribe people to pass this legislation. Cash, laundered cash, crazy speaking fees, high-paying no-show consulting jobs for family members, non-profit deals, book advance, real estate transactions, “hookers & blow”, whatever.
- In practice, the project’s implementation doesn’t really address the problem. It actually makes it worse. And has additional negative side effects. Because the real goal is to make the situation worse.
- You can raise crime to an intolerable level by funding local district attorneys to not arrest criminals.
- You can take control over the voting machine business, and select the outcome of elections.
- You can create massive public unrest with campaigns to actively divide people by race, by ethnicity, by sex, by wealth, by political position, by anything.
- You can get a lot of help on this from the target nation itself. One political party might be much more amenable to this sort of thing than another, and would be happy to assist.
- And academics will pitch in. Recall the infamous Cloward-Piven Strategy.
So yeah, I believe it’s entirely possible to destroy a nation from within with a form of asymmetric warfare where you just bribe specific government positions to make terrible decisions.Published in