“Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.”
– Richard W. Paul
“Orthodoxy is a relaxation of the mind accompanied by a stiffening of the heart.”
– Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
War and conflict are about angles both kinetically and philosophically.
Parallax is the change or movement in the appearance of an object that occurs when viewing it from different perspectives. The parallax gap exists where the differences between two points of view cannot be bridged: where no coherent whole can make sense of both perspectives. Below, I extend the metaphor of the parallax gap to elucidate two failures in contemporary counterinsurgency warfare and in the larger framework, the neo-imperialist project of the West.
The first is a gap between the ethical norms of the citizens of the United States and the types of conflicts they believe they can solve with military power. The second gap is that between the counterinsurgency goal of gaining the support of the population with a better narrative than that offered by the insurgency, and the religious mind of the true believer and circumstances of average civilians for whom that narrative is not a live option.
The First Gap
Why is it that Saddam Hussein was able to prevent civil war in Iraq while the US could not do so before the surge and may not be able to now that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended and Operation New Dawn has begun? The short answer is that Saddam Hussein was willing to do things that the United States is not—things the US considers to be unethical and therefore unacceptable. Yet. The US limits its military options by its ethical norms, and it is not unique in doing so. However, it may be the case that there are certain conflicts in certain areas that the US cannot win with these limitations, and this possibility remains largely unacknowledged in the US. This should inform the nomenklatura in the US foreign policy and offense establishment on the ultimate feasibility of many of the conflicts it engages in and fights it picks. On the contrary, American faith in the military to win all conflicts is entrenched.
This, in spite of a track record of dismal failure in all its overseas adventures since the end of The War to Save Josef Stalin. One might also note that the Allied victory in WWII was a result of the wholesale commitment of Roosevelt’s precious Communist state in defeating the Axis powers. If you doubt the Soviet contribution to Japanese defeat apart from the Western sideshow starting in June 1944 on the Continent, take a look at the astonishing calculus of forces arrayed in August 1945 in the Russo-Japanese War II commencing on 9 August 1945 and culminating in a devastating defeat of Japanese forces. One wonders at the astonishing coincidence of these army operations within days of the dropping of the American atomic bombs. But a look at the deep penetration of the American executive decision complex established by both active Soviet agents and useful idiots in the foul and corrupt Roosevelt administration may offer some insight into how that could happen. I would also suggest that the nuclear decimation of the two Japanese cities was a signal to the Soviets about a new boss in town by Truman more so than a bargaining mechanism to get the Japanese to surrender. The Japanese had been seeking a conditional surrender since January 1945.