Needed: A brains-based approach to strategy

By Harlan Ullman, UPI Arnaud de Borchgrave distinguished columnist   |   June 29, 2015 at 6:43 AM

Tomorrow I shall be addressing the Royal United Services Institute's Land Warfare conference, hosted by British Army Chief General Sir Nick Carter. The title of the talk is "An Effective Brains Based Strategy for the 21st Century" to which has been added "And What The (British) Army Can Do About Implementing One.

Those who keep up with defense issues know that concern has been registered by a number of senior American officials, in and out of uniform, about Britain's military and the impact of (severe) budget cuts on its ability to wage and deter war. The Army that defeated Napoleon and Hitler is down to about 82,000 or about half the size of the U.S. Marine Corps. The Royal Navy that once ruled the waves now numbers a handful of major warships. And the Royal Air Force, the victor of the Battle of Britain, will muster just seven squadrons worth of aircraft.

While U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey observes that this year's proposed American defense budget of what will be well over $600 billion is "the ragged edge," Britain's spending this year on its military of about 43 billion pounds or $70 billion is almost a tenth of the Pentagon's. And only by creative accounting will that spending amount to 2% of GDP, the minimum level set by NATO -- which only five of its 28 nations will meet. Further cuts will turn the British military into a variant of the dreaded "hollow force" that plagued the United States after the Vietnam War.

What to do since more money for UK defense is unlikely to be forthcoming is to follow the advice offered by Sir Winston Churchill. Now that we have run out money, Churchill opined, we will need to use our brains to think our way clear of danger -- or thoughts to that effect. A brains-based approach is one way to follow Sir Winston's lead.

Now it is clear that no sane or sensible person would attempt to deny the use of brains and intellect in creating any strategy whether for defense or business. Yet the nature of politics; ideology; short-term thinking; bureaucratic and constituent interests; laziness; and deferring tough choices often overwhelm brains and intellect. Hence, in the case of the U.S., we could invade Iraq in 2003 without answering the "what next?" question or mistakenly shift the mission in Afghanistan in 2001 from destroying al Qaeda to rebuilding a broken country.

In my view, a brains-based approach to strategy consists of three parts. The first is the recognition that strategy must be structured on intimate knowledge and understanding of the tasks at hand; what is required to attain those tasks; the impediments and obstacles; the alternatives; the needed resources; and the consequences of various course of action.

Second, this approach must incorporate a mindset for the 21st century which is far different from what drove strategic thinking in the 20th century.

Third, this approach must be directed at affecting, influencing and controlling the will and perception of the adversary or adversaries.

Regarding knowledge and understanding, what is needed is a 21st century version of the Bletchley Park code breaking teams of World War II relying instead on social media and public technologies such as Google Earth to derive intimate knowledge and understanding of adversaries. Searching the Internet and sites such as YouTube and Facebook, it is amazing how much information can be turned into actionable intelligence. And the cost is far less than the hundreds of billions that have gone into high tech satellite and other detection systems.

Regarding a mindset, what distinguishes today is the empowerment of individuals, transnational groups and non-state groups at the expense of states and the linkages between and among many crises from Ukraine, Russia and Europe to the Middle East, Maghreb and Persian Gulf. It is these linkages that must form the sinews for strategy.

Finally, strategy must be about getting people to do what we wish and stop doing what we find objectionable. Force may or may not always be necessary. It is not always sufficient, however, in today's more complex and interdependent world.

Of course, brains cannot always substitute for an absence of resources. But brains can help devise new strategies that take into account the lack of money to make most effective use of what is available. And brains can always be useful in informing elected political leadership what they may not wish to hear about what consequences lay ahead when intellect can take one only so far.

Harlan Ullman is UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished Columnist as well as Chairman of the Killowen Group that advises leaders of government and business and Senior Advisor at both Washington D.C.'s Atlantic Council and Business Executives for National Security. His latest book is A Handful of Bullets: How the Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Still Menaces the Peace.

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Iran: Concessions will not bring peace, but aggravate crisis in region

By Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice President of the European Parliament   |   Updated June 28, 2015 at 10:28 PM
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BRUSSELS, June 28 (UPI) -- With the end-of-June deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran fast approaching, prominent political and government leaders, past and present, from around the world are stepping up calls to beware of making concessions that would embolden the mullahs in Tehran and further destabilize the already shaky Middle East.

Nowhere was this more evident than at a recent rally outside Paris attended by 100,000 supporters of the Iranian resistance at which dignitaries and delegations from 69 countries on five continents heard the leader of the opposition and distinguished jurists and politicians warn that a nuclear deal is not enough. Only regime change will stop Tehran's meddling in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and its repression of its own people.

I was inspired by the words of Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Hers is the kind of leadership that Iran needs, not that of Ayatollah Khamanei and President Rouhani, who promise only terrorism that leads to uncounted deaths and misery in and out of Iran, a depressed economy in what should be a thriving nation, and millions of people Iiving in fear of constant repression.

Compare their words and dreams:

"The people of Iran neither want nuclear weapons, nor meddling in Iraq, Syria or Yemen, nor despotism, torture and shackles. The people of Iran are the tens of millions of enraged teachers, students, nurses, and workers who demand freedom, democracy, jobs and livelihood," Mrs Rajavi told the rally.

In contrast, the leaders of Iran for the past 35 years dream of a Middle East dominated by a nuclear-armed Iran that meddles in the affairs of its neighbors while keeping a tight rein on its own people.
If we look at today's Iran it's hard to find anyone not wanting a change. The 15 million deprived and destitute citizens languishing in shanty towns in the suburbs, the 10 to 15 million young people who cannot find jobs, and the millions of families feeling the heavy burden of high prices -- all of them feel the same pain and demand major change.

The breadth of support in Paris showed that the resistance movement is not alone.

Among 33 prominent figures from the United States to speak to this gathering were three U.S. presidential candidates, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former secretary of Homeland Security, former directors of the FBI and CIA, a former commandant of Marine Corps, and a former Army Chief of Staff, as well as a three-member delegation from the U.S. House. Many others sent video messages, including past or present senators Joseph Lieberman, who also was a candidate for vice president; John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee; and Bob Menendez. House members included Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Edward Royce and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel; Ted Poe, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade; and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

That's a pretty impressive lineup and it includes dignitaries of all political stripes: liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican.

Now, it is up to the West to heed the messages of the Paris rally:

To the P5+1 countries negotiating a nuclear deal -- Stop appeasing the mullahs. Do not believe anything Tehran says about its nuclear intentions.

To freedom-loving peoples everywhere -- Support the Iranian Resistance. Remember that regime change in Tehran will eliminate the nuclear threat.

To those nations standing up to ISIS and Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad -- don't climb into bed with Iran. Iraq and its friends must defeat ISIS by themselves. In this case, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. Here, the enemy (Iran) of my enemy (ISIS) is still my enemy.

Rajavi reiterated "Resistance against this regime is our duty and our inalienable right. We have been and will be at war with this regime. With or without enrichment, with and without nuclear weapons, and under any circumstances, the struggle for freedom is the inalienable right of the Iranian people. "
And helping to support that right is the duty of all peoples and all nations who seek peace in the Middle East and a welcoming back of Iran into the family of democratic nations.

Ryszard Czarnecki is Vice President of the European Parliament
Follow him on Twitter: @r_czarnecki

© 2015 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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