Covert Operations

B.H. Liddell Hart is sometimes credited as the founder of Third Generation, “maneuver” warfare. He wrote Strategy: An Indirect Approach after witnessing first-hand the horrible casualties of direct assaults during his time as an English soldier in the First World War.

“In Strategy the longest way around is often the shortest way there. A direct approach to the object exhausts the attacker and hardens the resistance by compression, where as an indirect approach loosens the defender’s hold by upsetting his balance”.

This echoes the famous Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu:

“In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.”

Ironically it was the Germans were the first to take his approach seriously in their development of the Blitzkrieg.

While advocating this maneuver warfare and indirect approach, Liddell Hart was adamantly against covert operations, also know as “black operations”. Although covert operations achieve the intended end of disrupting the equilibrium of an enemy, Liddell Hart says, “they always get out of control.”

As U.S. journalist E. Michael Jones succinctly puts it:

“As Vice-president under Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush revived all of the covert operations that Carter wanted to ban, and most significantly armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan as America’s proxy warriors against the Soviet Union.

When these proxy warriors do what they are told–as in Libya, where they toppled Khaddafi, and in Syria, where they almost toppled Assad–they are known as ‘freedom fighters’”. “When they get out of control, as they are now in Iraq, they are known as terrorists.”

We know that the Mujahideen became Al-Qaeda and that their leader, Saudi Arabian Osama Bin Laden eventually “got out of control.”

Now there is evidence that the recent U.K. attacks have roots in British covert operations, that this is yet again an example of black operations getting out of control.

Writes Mark Curtis:

Evidence suggests that one of the London attackers, Rachid Redouane, was part of the broad UK-backed covert strategy to oust Syria’s Assad, following his similar role in Libya in 2011.

Carter wanted to end black operations, and apparently Kennedy wanted to shatter the C.I.A. into a thousand pieces.  How much more blow back and “black operations gone out of control” do we need to learn Liddell Hart’s fundamental insight?


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