Adamant Aggressors - Discussion

Main Points

  1. Adamant Aggressors exist; they always have.
  2. Adamant Aggressors can be identified.
  3. There are ways to deal with adamant aggressors; right ways and wrong ways.
  4. Adamant aggressors threaten America today. What should we do?

Questions & Answers

  1. It’s easy to agree that aggressors have always been around.  But what exactly is an ‘adamant’ aggressor?

    Most adversaries have goals that include overlapping areas of common interest.  Many or most will negotiate to reach an optimum solution for all parties; not all adversaries are aggressors.  Those that are may be mostly opportunistic.  When they see a chance to take something or impose their will, they’ll do it.  But they’re not focused on a single objective over time.  They tend to take the path of least resistance, preying indiscriminately on weaker targets or victims.

    But an adamant aggressor is a person or movement focused on a singular goal that is counter to our national interests.  It’s an obsession.  Adamant aggressors have a ruthless desire to dominate, and they believe that their goals justify any means.  They are unrelenting and driven by ideas that cannot be changed through reasoning.

    Q:Who or what are some of history’s adamant aggressors.

    I deal with five of them in Adamant Aggressors.

    • Mehmed the Conqueror was an Ottoman sultan – Constantinople was the first of Mehmed’s conquests (in 1452), which ended the 1100-year-old Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.  Mehmed thus began dramatic expansion of the Ottoman Empire through conquest.
    • James K. Polk sought to bring Texas, Oregon and northern Mexico into the United States.  Using negotiation and war, by 1848 he accomplished all his goals, adding more territory to the United States than any President before or since.
    • Adolph Hitler began to implement his avowed intentions in 1933.  After gaining power, he rearmed Germany, marched into Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and put most of Europe under his boot.
    • Chaim Weizmann/David Ben-Gurion unrelentingly sought to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.  Diplomacy, immigration, terrorism, war and ethnic cleansing were all used at various times to realize that goal.
    • Joseph Stalin was complicit (with Hitler) in starting World War II, and Stalin’s USSR was the only nation to expand its territory as a result of that war.
    Q:Some of these ‘adamant aggressors’ seem like good guys; others epitomize evil.  How can you say they’re the same type of people?

    They’re certainly not the same type of people, except in one respect; they were adamant aggressors.  To really understand the lessons of adamant aggressors, each case must be considered with absolute dispassion.  National pride, taking sides or making moral judgments will get in the way of the lessons.

    Q:Okay, but just for contrast, can you name a few ‘non-adamant’ aggressors?

    World War I provides a number of examples.  In that conflict Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary not to gain a clear objective, but just because its ally Serbia had been attacked by Austria-Hungary.  Germany declared war on Russia because Russia had declared war on its ally Austria-Hungary.  That caused France (an ally of Russia) to declare war on Germany.  None of these nations’ leaders was an adamant aggressor seeking to capture territory or advance some deeply-ingrained objective.

    Other examples can be seen among nations colonizing in the new world and elsewhere.  Often in conflict, British, Dutch, French, German and Spanish leaders exchanged territories and trading interests among themselves in settlement of wars and other conflicts.

  2. How do you identify adamant aggressors?  What sets them apart from other adversaries?

    Three distinct characteristics, taken together, are unique to adamant aggressors.

    • An adamant aggressor has a clear goal that, through its realization or attempted realization, would diminish its target’s well-being.
    • That goal is inflexible and non-negotiable.  It may be based on what the adamant aggressor believes to be inviolate or ordained principles.
    • The adamant aggressor believes achievement of that goal justifies any feasible means.
    Q:Sounds simple, but how do you know or find out what’s in some foreign leader’s or aspiring leader’s mind?

    Well, they won’t submit to psychoanalysis for us, that’s for sure.  But most adamant aggressors make their intentions known well before they’ve marshaled the power to make them happen.  Systematic and thoughtful examination of what such people say and do in advance of overt aggression will enable reliable inferences.  For instance, all five of the adamant aggressors considered in my book effectively published their intentions well in advance.

    • Mehmed the Conqueror announced his intention to take Constantinople years before he acted.  He proclaimed that such would be fulfilling a long-foretold Islamic destiny.
    • James K. Polk articulated his intentions regarding Texas during his election campaign in 1844, and regarding Oregon and northern Mexico in his inauguration address in 1845.
    • Adolph Hitler published his intentions in 1920 and 1925/28 (Mein Kampf), and reiterated them often in public pronouncements.
    • Chaim Weizmann / David Ben-Gurion unrelentingly pursued a Jewish-dominated community / state in Palestine after that goal was published by the 1897 World Zionist Organization.
    • Joseph Stalin was a dogmatic Communist.  The Communist Manifesto explicitly sought (seeks) world domination through any means.
    Q:These are old history.  How can we say it’s happening today?

    It’s easy to list world leaders and wannabe leaders who would like to see the United States taken down a notch or two.  And there are undoubtedly others who don’t come immediately to mind.  Most of these are not adamant aggressors.  But some are, and those few will act whenever they feel they have the power to do so.  A list of possible adamant aggressors might have a dozen names on it and would surely include:

    • Xi Jinping of China
    • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran
    • Kim Jong Un of North Korea
    • Leaders of radical Islamist movements, especially Al Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL
    • Vladimir Putin of Russia
  3. Okay.  Let’s agree there are adamant aggressors out there who threaten us.  What should we do about it?

    First, we should task some of our best brains with assembling a comprehensive list of adversaries and evaluate each sufficiently to see which have the three characteristics of adamant aggressors.  Then we should chart a specific course of action for dealing with each of them.  Adamant Aggressors identifies four essential guidelines:

    • Clearly identify America’s long-term interests that would be compromised by realization of the adamant aggressor’s goals.
    National interests must be un-nuanced – specific, clear and focused so that they cannot be misunderstood by the adversary or by our own people.  And they must be long-term, exceeding the life of the aggressor and successors.

    • Realize and accept that the aggressor is adamant; he will back off only if and when he believes that he cannot succeed, or when he dies.
    Adamant aggressors do NOT think like us!  Talk and reasoning with them will not cause them to change their goals.

    • Always deal from a position of strength.
    Often nothing short of crushing defeat, or the believability of such, will cause an adamant aggressor to desist.  Weaknesses – military, economic, cyber, political, national will, empty threats, etc. – will be identified and exploited by an adamant aggressor.

    • Realize that any concession to the adamant aggressor guarantees renewed conflict at a future time.
    Concessions never make the threat go away.  They should be made only in return for something that enables us to strengthen our long-term position.

  4. All right.  So we don’t know for sure who they are, but they’re out there.  What should we be doing about it?

    One of government’s greatest responsibilities to its citizens is to protect them from foreign dangers.  So let’s begin to systematically identify and name today’s adamant aggressors, as such.

    In the meantime, let’s build up strength in all areas so that we are better able to confront identified adamant aggressors, and deter those not yet identified.

    Let’s be very wary of making concessions to potential adamant aggressors.

    And let’s declare ‘red lines’ or make threats only if we are absolutely committed to backing them up.

Time is of the essence.  Our relative position vis-à-vis any adamant aggressor tends to deteriorate over time.  We should have gotten serious about this long ago.  Let’s at last begin.