> Just about seven years ago I happened to find myself in San Francisco with a very pleasant man who was then an Office Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. We got along well, and he introduced me to several new ideas (mainly the “netwar” paradigm of warfare, which is genuinely a new paradigm in the Kuhnian sense, and which I’ll return to in a later post). I came away feeling highly optimistic about, of all things, the US military. He’d assured me that “NO MORE VIETNAMS” might as well be carved above the West Point gates as Prime Directive, because “asymmetric conflict with amorphous networks of terrorists, who repurpose civilian technologies to terrible ends” was going to be where it was at from now on in — and that Vietnam was always going to be what you got if you stuck with the old paradigm.
>In the days after 9-11 I often took comfort in thinking of this man and the ideas he represented. When asked what I thought the United States would or could do in response to the attacks, I surprised friends by saying that I believed the US military’s intelligentsia already understood the true nature of the conflict better than the enemy did.
>And I still imagine that I was right in that. But the creative intelligence of my friend from the DoD, and so many others like him, prevailed not at all — in the face of ideology, cupidity, stupidity, and a certain tragically crass cunning with regard to the mass pyschology of the American people.
>One actually has to be something of a specialist, today, to even begin to grasp quite how fantastically, how baroquely and at once brutally fucked the situation of the United States has since been made to be.