Thursday, June 20, 2013

How Chinese Strategists Think - and a comparison to north Korean Strategists

See the article on Chinese Strategists below.  I received the following in response to the article.

I think this is a very instructive summary of how the north Koreans view and "do" strategy from one our nation's foremost experts on north Korea: Robert Collins.  This short summary explains more about the nature of the Kim Family Regime than can be read in volumes of studies on north Korea.

Conversely, North Korean strategists are constrained by a stovepipe organizational structure where individuals developing strategy and individuals implementing strategy are judged consistently on their support of supreme leader guidance.  Organizations - party, military and government - are judged the same way.  Policy is developed around supreme leader guidance and never the other way around.  While competing leaders have differing opinions, they cannot go against supreme leader guidance unless they are close enough to talk directly to the supreme leader or demonstrate fault in a competitor's logic.  This creates an extremely dominant trend of compliance with current policy - whether it is the military planning provocations, the foreign ministry linking alternatives to military policy for maximum effect (the on-again, off-again provocation mixed with diplomatic initiatives), human rights policy, or economic policy.  The only entity that can openly counter supreme leader guidance is the supreme leader himself.  To change his opinion demands personal access, something only a handful of people have.  Strategists must comply with the on-again, off-again approach that has been the standard for decades.  Same people, same policy, same strategy. 


By  James R. Holmes
June 19, 2013

Toshi Yoshihara joins me (or I join him) over at Investor's Business Dailyto refocus attention on the human dimension of the U.S.-China strategic competition. Followers of these pages pixels know that Toshi and I are true believers in the idea that competition is a human enterprise. As Colonel John Boyd liked to say, people, ideas, and hardware — in that order — are the determinants of competitive endeavors like power politics.

People, not stuff, fight.

That's not to say hardware is unimportant. Not for nothing did author Hilaire Belloc ascribe British imperial dominance over subject peoples to the fact that "we have got the Maxim gun, and they have not." Too great a material advantage, then, can translate into an insurmountable competitive advantage. And this mismatch holds true beyond colonial wars against outgunned antagonists. World War I proved that there were limits to men's capacity to stand against fire, even when peer army faced peer army.
But human ingenuity is crucial even in the material dimension, isn't it? It's the common denominator among all of Boyd's elements of competition. People with ample resources concoct gee-whiz engines of war. People not blessed with such abundance can work around material shortcomings, devising asymmetric tactics and weaponry to get more bang out of scarce materiel. Look no further than the improvised explosive device, a homemade landmine that has given high-tech militaries fits in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Only expensive countermeasures have kept the IED menace at bay, and imperfectly so at that.

Which is a roundabout way of getting back to China. As red-blooded 'Mercans, my wingman and I have little sympathy with Beijing's goals. But as professors we've come to admire how assiduously our Chinese counterparts do their homework. They look to history, and to the greats of strategic theory, to guide their thinking and illuminate their strategic discourses. Mahan is a fixture in debates over sea power, however improbable that might seem. Corbett puts in the odd appearance. And, unsurprisingly, Sun Tzu and Mao are regulars.
(Continued at the link below)

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Three simple things the Trump-Kim summit could—and should—achieve

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