Tuesday, April 12, 2016

New Concepts of Warfare: Deterrence Both Large and Small

While students are often familiar with the word ‘deterrence’ in the context of doctrines like “massive retaliation” during the Cold War, they are less likely to know the word’s use in terms of smaller, regional conflicts. Deterrence is primarily taught in the context of the large arsenal of atomic weapons held by the United States: arsenals which made “massive response” or “massive deterrence” a reality.

Thus readers tend to think of deterrence on a macro scale: the extensive collections of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems in the face of Soviet aggression.

The goal of deterrence is always to prevent an armed conflict before it begins, by convincing a potential attacker that any aggression will meet with an overwhelming response.

By 1952, voters in the United States were tired of the Korean War. Eisenhower’s strategy was to prevent the United State from being dragged into similar regional conflicts by using deterrence on a regional scale. This was deterrence on a micro scale.

Structuring national defense systems for deterrence instead of for engagement requires a different type of planning. Prior to the Eisenhower presidency, the focus of military planning was for a large-scale confrontation with the Soviets, perhaps a land war, a re-play of WW2.

A WW2-style mobilization made no sense militarily because nuclear weapons had significantly changed strategy, and made no sense politically because the citizens were tired of protracted warfare. There was not much room, in Eisenhower’s deterrence strategies, for “tactical atomic” weapons.

Tactical nuclear weapons are intended for use within the context of conventional land war. They are often small missiles, with ranges of two or three miles.

By contrast, strategic nuclear weapons are large, powerful, and often delivered from thousands of miles away. They are intended either to be a part of strategic, not conventional, combat, or to deter combat altogether.

Although ‘tac nukes’ were produced in quantity throughout the Eisenhower administration, they were not a significant part of strategic planning.

Eisenhower’s goals were to get the United States out of the Korean conflict, to prevent U.S. entanglement in similar regional conflicts, and to accomplish this by developing deterrence on both a macro and a micro scale, as historian Russell Weigley writes:

The new Eisenhower administration embraced deterrence still more enthusiastically, with fewer backward glances toward plans for mobilization on the pattern of the World Wars. Apart from the asset of Dwight Eisenhower’s winning personality and prestige, the Republicans captured the Presidency in the election of 1952 largely because of voter discontent with the prolonged and puzzling Korean War. The new administration intended both to extricate the country from the Korean entanglement and to ensure against further involvements of the Korean type. It was able to succeed in the former aim, to end the fighting and the weary truce talks, for various reasons, including its political ability to be more flexible in negotiation than the Truman administration - few Americans could believe that Republicans were soft on Communism - and perhaps primarily, because Stalin soon died. Many in the new administration also believed that a threat to use atomic weapons in Korea, the message being conveyed to the Chinese through India, was decisive; this conviction was important in conditioning subsequent policy. For the second goal, guarding against a repetition of Korea, the new administration turned to an explicit strategy of deterrence, aimed at deterring local and limited as well as general wars.

Conventional war plans, on a strategic or macro level, were reactive, or at best responsive, and amounted to simply waiting for WW3 to break out. Deterrence was a more proactive approach.

Rather than make plans for a possible armed conflict with the Soviets, deterrence was designed to reduce the probability of that conflict, as historians Allan Millett and Peter Maslowski explain:

After the Korean War, the United States turned from a crisis-oriented military policy toward concepts and programs designed to last as long as the rivalry with the Soviet Union. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson adopted policies suited for “the long haul.” With Soviet-American competition accepted as the central fact in international relations, American policy makers regarded defense policy as a principal instrument for containing the parallel spread of Communism and Soviet imperialism. To check the extension of Soviet influence, the United States sought to reduce the chance that the Russians would threaten or use military force as a tool of international influence. For all the debate about the means and costs of defense, American policy rested upon consensual assumptions about the nature of the military challenge and the appropriate response. Supported by an activist coalition in Congress, the three Cold War presidents further refined containment, strategic deterrence, and forward, collective defense.

But on the political side, strategies of containment, deterrence, and defense are only as good as the realism needed to face the global situation, and are only as good as the will to implement such strategies.

On the American political scene, there were significant numbers of both leaders and voters who either did not understand, or willfully chose not to believe, that the crystalized goal of the USSR and the international communist conspiracy was the destruction of western societies leading to the Soviet Socialist domination of the world.

The Soviets were clearly focused on this goal, and willing to use, even intending to use, the deaths of thousands and millions of innocent civilians to reach this objective. In 1960, Senator Goldwater wrote:

The temptation is strong to blame the deterioration of America’s fortunes on the Soviet Union’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. But this is self-delusion. The rot had set in, the crumbling of our position was already observable, long before the Communists detonated their first Atom Bomb. Even in the early 1950s, when America still held unquestioned nuclear superiority, it was clear that we were losing the Cold War. Time and again in my campaign speeches of 1952 I warned my fellow Arizonians that “American Foreign Policy has brought us from a position of undisputed power, in seven short years, to the brink of possible disaster.” And in the succeeding seven years, that trend, because its cause remains, has continued.

There were enough voters and leaders, however, who accurately understood the Soviet threat. Although imperfectly, the United States was able to maintain enough deterrence that the USSR chose not to mount direct frontal attacks on either North America or western Europe.

The communists certainly continued their efforts at expansion, via proxy wars, via the acquisition of smaller defenseless countries, and via the espionage network they had established inside the United States. But America managed to deter a large-scale, massive Soviet military aggression.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Haldore Hanson: a Danger

Who was Haldore Hanson? His name is largely forgotten, but he posed a direct threat to lives, not only of United States citizens, but also of people around the globe. As historian Stan Evans notes, “Hanson was a full-time State Department employee.”

Hanson started out as a journalist, reporting on China in the late 1930s. But his writing was propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party, and its leader, Mao Tse-Tung. In his advocacy for Mao, whose name is also transliterated as Zedong, he broke no U.S. laws, but he did contribute to what would ultimately become the mass murder of millions of Chinese.

Later in his career, Hanson “served on the staff of Assistant Secretary of State William Benton.” Hanson also joined the CPUSA, the American Communist Party.

In the context of the Cold War, joining the CPUSA was not merely an expression of a political view, but rather it was supporting an organization which declared in its written materials the “inevitability of and necessity for violent revolution.” To join the CPUSA was to endorse, support, and prepare for the violent overthrow of the United States government - including the killing of innocent civilians.

Working in William Benton’s office, Hanson was “one of the numerous group of” communist “suspects once employed in that office.” By 1950, “Hanson headed a division at State that dealt with matters of foreign aid. Most to the present point, he had in the latter 1930s gone on record with some revealing comments about the Communist cause in China.”

Hanson was, therefore, separately, both a criminal and a danger. He was a criminal because he was working for the violent destruction of the American government, including the deaths of innocent civilians. He was a danger because he work to support Mao’s regime and its eventual slaughter of millions of Chinese.