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The National Security Strategy report goes on to emphasize that the U.S. must be prepared for Low-Intensity Conflict, involving "lower-order threats like terrorism, subversion, insurgency, and drug trafficking [which] are menacing the United States, its citizenry, and its interests in new ways." "Low-intensity conflict involves the struggle of competing principles and ideologies below the level of conventional war," and our military forces "must be capable of dealing effectively with the full range of threats, including insurgency and terrorism." "Forces will have to accommodate to the austere environment, immature basing structure, and significant ranges often encountered in the Third World." "Training and research and development will be better attuned to the needs of low-intensity conflict," crucially, counterinsurgency in the Third World.
It will also be necessary to strengthen "the defense industrial base," creating incentives "to invest in new facilities and equipment as well as in research and development," a matter that "will be especially important in an era when overall procurements are likely to decline." "Our goal is to move beyond containment, to seek the integration of the Soviet Union into the international system as a constructive partner" in such areas as Central America, which "remains a disruptive factor in the U.S.-Soviet relationship" and where "We hold the Soviet Union accountable for the behavior of its clients" in Cuba and Nicaragua, who continue to disturb peace and order -- that is, to disobey U.S. commands.
Military college curricula are changing accordingly. Thus the Naval War College announced that its curriculum and war gaming will stress urban warfare, terrorism, and "low intensity" crises, using such models as the invasion of Panama. A new genre of "mid-intensity" conflicts with powerful Third World enemies also demands special attention, given the continuing vital need to "project power into other regions and maintain access to distant markets and resources" (Senator William Cohen, of the Armed Services Committee).33
The same questions are addressed by Marine Corps Commandant General A.M. Gray. The end of the Cold War will only reorient our security policies, he advises, but not change them significantly. "In fact, the majority of the crises we have responded to since the end of World War II have not directly involved the Soviet Union," a fact that can now not only be conceded -- the Soviet threat having lost its efficacy for domestic population control -- but must be stressed, to ensure that we may act as before when there are "threats to our interest." The North-South conflict is the major fault line:
The underdeveloped world's growing dissatisfaction over the gap between rich and poor nations will create a fertile breeding ground for insurgencies. These insurgencies have the potential to jeopardize regional stability and our access to vital economic and military resources. This situation will become more critical as our Nation and allies, as well as potential adversaries, become more and more dependent on these strategic resources. If we are to have stability in these regions, maintain access to their resources, protect our citizens abroad, defend our vital installations, and deter conflict, we must maintain within our active force structure a credible military power projection capability with the flexibility to respond to conflict across the spectrum of violence throughout the globe.
Crucially, we must maintain our "unimpeded access" to "developing economic markets throughout the world" and "to the resources needed to support our manufacturing requirements." We therefore need "a credible forcible entry capability," forces that "must truly be expeditionary" and capable of executing a wide variety of missions from counterinsurgency and psychological warfare to the deployment of "multidivision forces." We must also bear in mind the rapidly increasing technological advances in weaponry and their availability to the new regional powers that will be springing up throughout the Third World, so that we must develop military capacities exploiting the far reaches of electronics, genetic engineering and other biotechnologies, and so on, "if our Nation is to maintain military credibility in the next century."34
The themes are familiar. Reviewing President Eisenhower's strategic thinking, diplomatic historian Richard Immerman observes that he "took it as an article of faith that America's strength and security depended on its maintaining access to -- indeed control of -- global markets and resources, particularly in the Third World." Like other rational planners, he assumed that the West was safe from any Soviet attack, and that such fears were "the product of paranoid imagination." But the periphery "was vulnerable to subversion," and the Russians, Eisenhower wrote, "are getting far closer to the [Third World] masses than we are" and are skilled at propaganda and other methods "to appeal directly to the masses."35 These are common features of the planning record, now even more clearly visible than before, with the image of the expansionist and aggressive Soviet Union having lost its credibility.
More simply, the war against the Third World will continue, and the Soviet Union will continue to be branded an aggressor if it gets in the way. Gorbachev is to be induced to proceed with his "New Thinking," which will turn the USSR into a collaborator with U.S. plans for world order, but Washington is to persist in its "Old Thinking." There can, furthermore, be no substantial "peace dividend." And since the Third World is reaching such heights of technological sophistication, we will need a high tech military to deter and contain it. Thankfully, there will still be plenty of business for the electronics industry.
Budget changes must be geared to a capital-intensive military if it is to serve its function for advanced industry. Alternatives to military spending are theoretically possible, but, as has been understood by business from the origins of the Cold War, they tend to have undesirable effects: to interfere with managerial prerogatives, mobilize popular constituencies and thus extend the "crisis of democracy," redistribute income, and so on. The problem is not one of pure economic theory, but of power and privilege, and their specific institutional structures. Advocates of conversion will be tilting at windmills unless they confront these fundamental problems.
The same is true of opponents of intervention if they keep to the framework of conventional understanding. Thus, it is child's play to demolish the standard justifications: promoting democracy and national security. Some of those who undertake the exercise therefore conclude that Third World intervention "never made sense, even at the height of the Cold War," and surely not now, so that we can call off the murderous wars we are sponsoring in Cambodia, Angola, Afghanistan, and El Salvador, and radically reduce our intervention forces.36 Carrying the argument a step further, we observe that virtually the entire political class has supported intervention except when it proves too costly to us. It follows, then, either that stupidity and incompetence have been an entry requirement for political leadership, recognized "expertise," media respectability, and the like; or that the alleged reasons are not the actual ones. Since the former conclusion is hardly credible, we move to the second, thus recognizing that the analysis is not to the point, serving to entrench illusions that we should discard. The actual reasons for intervention, whether persuasive or not in particular cases, have been far from senseless.
Current arguments for intervention forces, as in the National Security Strategy report, reveal that the ideological system is running out of pretexts for the resort to subversion and overt force in international affairs, and military Keynesian measures at home. Defense against the Stalinist hordes no longer sells. The problem of the disappearing pretext was recognized years ago, but the efforts of the 1980s to overcome it -- invoking lunatic Arab terrorists or Hispanic narcotraffickers, for example -- have too short a half-life to be truly effective. It therefore becomes necessary to acknowledge that the Third World itself is the real enemy. If the primary threat of Communism has been the economic transformation of the Communist powers "in ways that reduce their willingness and ability to complement the industrial economies of the West" (see p. 27), the same is true of "radical nationalism" generally, a fact that has not escaped planners and strategic analysts. The severity of the problem varies from region to region, with the Middle East remaining the primary Third World concern because of its incomparable energy reserves. But, in accord with the thinking of NSC 68, no corner of the world is so small and insignificant that it may be safely overlooked.
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33 AP, April 3; Michael Klare, "The U.S. Military Faces South," Nation, June 18, 1990.
34 Gray, Marine Corps Gazette, May 1990.
35 Immerman, "Confessions of an Eisenhower Revisionist," Diplomatic History, Summer 1990.
36 Stephen Van Evera, Atlantic Monthly, July 1990; also CCS Policy Report No. 3, Institute for Peace and International Security, Cambridge Mass., June 1990.
37 See Teodor Shanin, Russia as a `Developing Society' (Yale, 1985), vol. 1, 103f., 123f., 134f., 187f. Quote is from D. Mirsky, Russia, A Social History (London 1952), 269, cited by Shanin.