Justin note: Something's stuck with me since the last time I spoke with Doug Casey.
Earlier this month, we discussed the new "era of peace" in the Korean Peninsula. Doug talked about a meme floating around the internet saying that the US could employ a new super weapon dubbed the "Rod from God."
While this weapon probably won't be deployed anytime soon… it got me thinking about the future of war.
Specifically, how they'll be fought and how they'll be different from past wars.
I called up Doug for more on this idea…
Justin: Doug, how will wars of the future be fought differently than today?
Doug: Well, war's evolving in several ways. For starters, we won't see as many nation states fighting each other. There will, instead, be more conflict between nation states and non-state entities like so-called terrorist organizations.
Over the last 30 or so years terrorism has become a buzzword, supposedly one of the greatest evils of our era. But "terrorism" is simply a method of warfare. So you can't fight terrorism. It's like saying you can fight artillery barrages, cavalry charges or frontal assaults. Terrorism isn't a thing, it's a tactic.
There are about 100 separate definitions of terrorism. I'm not sure any two US Government agencies can even agree on one. It's a little like trying to define pornography using the standard of the rather confused Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who said "I know it when I see it."
Terrorism is essentially psychological warfare, intended to sway the minds of the enemy. As such, it's much cheaper, much less destructive, and potentially much more effective than conventional warfare. As Napoleon said, in war the moral is to the physical as three is to one.
I should also mention Sun Tzu in this light. He's become very fashionable in recent years. This isn't the time to discuss his views on warfare, but there's no question he would have been a huge advocate of terror as a method.
I did a couple of pieces on terror, in previous Conversations With Casey and Totally Incorrect, Vol.1.
Anyway, the big names in the terror world are still ISIS and Al Qaeda, although there will be plenty of others. These groups have good public relations arms. PR is absolutely essential, critical, to a proper terror organization. There are undoubtedly scores of little groups looking to break into the bigtime, and become governments themselves. All of them want to gain as much recognition and power as those two groups.
Nation states—governments—are well aware of the value and effectiveness of terror, and use their own variations of it. Drone strikes and B-52 raids are prominent examples, but aren't characterized as terror, because it's convenient to say only the bad guys do that.
Terror, as used by non-state actors, is all about what John Robb calls "open source" warfare. One group tries something, and all the others imitate it if it's successful, and improve on it. There are going to be many more non-state organizations in the future. Most of them want to be governments when they grow up. They'll use terrorism to project force.
But you can't attack these organizations directly, like you can a nation state. To do so you'd have to attack civilian populations wholesale, which tends to be counterproductive. So the era of B-52 mass-bombing raids and mass attacks by tanks are over. That's all history. Those weapons are increasingly useless in today's world. Entirely apart from the fact bankrupt governments are about to find they can't afford them.
Justin: And yet, many governments around the world still appear committed to the technologies.
Doug: Further proof that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history—and that's absolutely true of bureaucracies. The F-35 is a perfect example of this. It reportedly costs around $100 million per copy, but who knows if you can trust that number with all the strange accounting that the government does. Each of those planes could really cost much, much more.
It's completely unaffordable. And none of this junk is going to get used anyway. Most of it is just toys for boys, and free money for "defense" contractors, so they can make political contributions.
Of course, it wasn't always like this. In World War II, it took nine months from its conception on blank paper for the P-51 Mustang to be in production, arguably the best fighter aircraft of World War II. They cost about $50,000 per copy to make. That's like $600,000 today. But with the huge advances in manufacturing techniques, materials, computer tech, and so forth, you can argue prices should be dropping. They've been playing with the F-35 since 1992, and it still doesn't work right.