Supreme Bargaining Power
Supreme Military Power
The third, global millennium,
requires a new strategic culture,
where negotiation is the rule,
while the military option remains the exception.
The dawning of the third millennium could have been accompanied by an awakening to a new state of mind and consciousness that has shaken off millennia old methods of conflict resolution by means of violence. But, human and in particular national strategic thinking seems to be characterized by business as usual, as if one had learnt nothing over the past 2000 years and as if Jesus’s revolutionary intervention on human relational assumptions had never happened. And one pays the price for ignoring it out of self-complacency. How long can man ignore it in this multicultural millennium where conflict scenarios are likely to abound due to multiple interrelated new factors at a planetary scale.
Man’s mind with all its formidable scientific, cultural, philosophical, psychological and spiritual output does not seem to able to redeem him from his condition of conditioning with regard to his style of relationship management individually and collectively. He does not seem to be able to transcend himself although redemption was offered to him as a special and unique gift of grace. But he prefers a conduct in line with millennia old conditioning. An incurably old-fashioned creature one might ironically say! In the domain of his outer affairs he pays any price for le dernier cri, fad and fashion, whereas in the inner world he tends to remain on the other end of the axis of time, close the darkness of the past with its outdated conduct in a changed environment. The craving for the highly priced latest innovation seems to compensate for his complete psychological inertia. The fact that we are, as has been said, psychologically in the cave, while we are technologically on the moon does not only seem to apply but it seems to have been reinforced so deeply over the entire human history that we no longer can imagine any other methods and conduct. We seem to have lost the inner ability of free choice of our own actions. We are therefore no longer masters of our destiny, because once the logic of violence has set in it is no longer controllable. That has been clearly recognized by some strategists, while it is still ignored by others.
European strategic thinking, such as that of the German Clausewitz, seems to be more aware of the fact that violence escalates to its extreme limit like an elevator without a stop button, while US-strategic assumption seem to consider that escalation is fully controllable. The nuclear strategic assumptions in the shape of gradual response theories à la Kahn carry the imprint of this assumption. It assumes that the enemy thinks in your own logic of stepwise, rationally controllable escalation. Burt violence and military force rather seems to resemble nuclear force in the sense that it knows no boundary of time and intensity, cost and human price. The big wars like that of Vietnam, Iraq etc. all illustrate the workings of the principle of military force once it is triggered. Therefore one should be far more careful in taking recourse to this ultimate measure which costs everyone involved a lot without any benefit whatsoever. It is a zero sum game between man and fate. And it will always remain one in spite of astigmatic assumptions of short term benefits in terms of power, economy and political control. One should only use it when remedies are past in Shakespeare’s words. But contrary to Shakespeare’s verse, then the sorrow only begins rather than being over.