On November 7, 2013, Tom Ricks sat down with Anne-Marie Slaughter for the New America Foundation’s “Weekly Wonk” podcast series, and they touched on the future of warfare in their discussion. What follows is a partial transcript:
“I think Iraq and Afghanistan may have been the last large military force of that sort that we see. This is really something that goes back to about 1490. Large, conventional combined arms forces using the three classic tools of infantry, artillery, and cavalry.
What I think is, we are on the verge of a new era of warfare, which all the weapons that the United States has had a monopoly on are going to seep out to everybody else. And suddenly we’re going to be facing adversaries who have all these tools. Who can control a drone with an iPhone and can deliver the equivalent of an [improvised explosive device]. And they can deliver it not only to your camp outside Baghdad, they may be able to deliver it to your house in Falls Church, Virginia. And a lot of the precedents we’ve set over the last ten years may come to haunt us.
We put a lot of armed mercenaries on the battlefield who really were not under any sort of legal regime. We said, ‘oh, it’s a commercial enterprise, you got a problem go talk to the Department of Commerce.’ Well, if I’m the Chinese government I think, ‘what a great way to project power. That’s not the ‘Shanghai Sixth Light Infantry’ in the middle of Africa. That’s the ‘Double Happiness Sunshine Security Company.’ You got a problem go talk to the Chinese Department of Commerce.’ And, guess what, it’s going to be much cheaper for the Chinese to do that than it is for us. We were paying these guys $200,000 per year in some cases. ‘Double Security Shanghai Happiness’ is just going to be paying, you know, peanuts to these guys, especially if they’re regular Chinese [People’s Liberation Army] seconded to the security company. And you could have Chinese ‘contractors’ all over Africa at very small cost to the Chinese and they’ll just cite the precedence. ‘It’s what you Americans did in Iraq, what’s your problem?’
And I think again and again, with drone strikes, with renditions, with use of torture and a of things we’ve done over the last ten years are going to come back and haunt us and be thrown in our faces.”
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.