Small Wars Journal

Winning in a Complex World Starts with Thinking

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 8:01am

Winning in a Complex World Starts with Thinking

Cassandra Crosby and Anthony Marston

In the early 1970s, the New York Yankees had fallen a long ways from the days of Mantle and Maris just a decade earlier. The disillusioned team was plagued with organizational issues and a lack of rising-star talent.  It was during this period that outfielder Oscar Gamble offered up a thought-provoking and now famous quote: “They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.”[i] His quote reflects a problem that many organizations continue to wrestle with today: an inability to see the environment and themselves for what they really are.  

Maybe if Oscar Gamble was a Soldier in today’s Army, he might share the same sentiments. The contemporary operational environment seldom resembles the one conceived in planning largely due to its inherent complexity. Carefully formulated strategies and plans rarely make it past first contact unaltered as forces encounter operational conditions and enemy activity, often dissimilar to previous intelligence estimates.

Moving Beyond Doctrine

Doctrine, while built on historical successes, is not always relevant to the current situation and therefore provides no assurance of victory. For example, tactical success achieved using doctrinal principles can lead to strategic failure if a force fails to arrange tactical actions in a manner that carefully considers those actions in relation to strategic aims. Rather than dogmatically adhering to doctrine, thriving in the contemporary context means a force must be able to adapt to rapidly changing and continuously novel problems by developing novel solutions. However, contemporary military thought trends toward linearity and over simplification. Given the complex and non-linear nature of the current context, this preference for simplified mental models must change if the US Army wants to improve its ability to adapt to the challenges of a complex world. Enhancing the leaders’ ability to adapt and develop innovative solutions is not resolved by merely developing doctrine that prescribes how leaders should think in a different manner. Rather, the Army must set cultural and climatic conditions to enhance individual capacity for thought while providing time and space for reflection.

Simple Logic Is Not Enough   

Planners often attempt to use simple logic to predict outcomes and discount the counterintuitive properties of direct additivity. If this simple logic worked, technology would win wars and the human element of war would be insignificant. For example, in strategic bombing, two bombing runs of five munitions each would be equal to one bombing run of ten munitions. Instead, the effects of each bombing run vary based on environmental conditions, the accuracy of the bombing run, the enemy’s reaction, and target construction, among various other tangible and intangible factors. Despite uncertainty, strategists often select linear solutions such as adding additional troops or resources to an existing approach, rather than reframing the problem and developing a novel approach. These linear solutions can exacerbate existing problems, causing multi-order effects that may take years to manifest, but will eventually emerge and often with unintended consequences.

War Is Not a Game of Numbers

Another linearity of contemporary military thought is a fixation on destroying enemy forces. Military theorists conceptualize attrition warfare as a linear mathematical equation by comparing friendly firepower with enemy firepower, ignoring the relativity of relative combat power.[ii] Course of action development and war-gaming often center around determination of probable attrition rates given fixed numbers of equipment and personnel. Figures and decision matrices that fail to factor in relativity do little to account for the intangibles of actual battle. Take tank warfare as an example: tanks are not simply at conflict against one another in a machine versus machine duel. Instead, each tank consists of individual crews with their own tactical training and thought processes. Furthermore, the operational environment provides additional challenges in weather and terrain to each tank, including those factors not even involved in the battle itself. While it is easier to conceive of war as the simple destruction of opposing forces, a linear understanding of war leads to linear plans, which ultimately rely on chance rather than reality and seek short-sighted solutions.

Success Begins with How We Think

Gaining understanding and solving problems in these complex and non-linear environments requires the Army to set conditions to enable the kind of thinking where leaders are able to generate creative options to thrive in novel contexts. In complex environments, the interaction of opponents amongst themselves and with each other constantly generates novel contexts. Achieving understanding and determining appropriate action in these conditions involves flexible, creative, unbiased, and reflective patterns of thought. These thought patterns allow Army leaders tend to move beyond following pre-established practices or dogmatically adhering to doctrine for efficiency’s sake. When those practices are not appropriate to the situation, flexible and creative thought patterns allow an individual to “strike out in a new direction,” while unprejudiced thinking enables experimentation without bias.[iii] Reflection allows an individual’s tacit understandings and repetitive practices to surface, so he can criticize them in the current context and “make new sense of situations of uncertainty or uniqueness which he may allow himself to experience.”[iv] These thought patterns together, and in unison, are themselves a complex system that enables adaptive behavior in complex environments, but are influenced and often inhibited by one’s environment.

Thinking about Thinking Systematically

Thinking is not something that merely happens in the mind. The environments in which “we live, work, and play continuously and dynamically shape the structure and functional organization and connectivity of our brains - and render us either more or less likely to sustain agility of mind both in immediate or shorter term contexts[.]”[v] In John Haugeland’s Essay, Mind Embodied and Embedded, from his book entitled, Having Thought, he suggests,

If we are to understand the mind as the locus of intelligence, we cannot follow Descartes in regarding it as separable in principle from the body and the world … Broader approaches, freed of that prejudicial commitment, can look again at perception and action, at skillful involvement with public equipment and social organization, and see not principled separation but all sorts of close coupling and functional unity … Mind, therefore, is not incidentally but intimately embodied and intimately embedded in its world.[vi]

Thus, thinking occurs as the interrelationship between mind, body, and environment as, “[h]uman sensing, learning, thought, and feeling are all structured and informed by our body-based interactions with the world around us.”[vii] A systematic and non-linear perspective on thinking reveals a symbiotic relationship between mind, body, and environment; the mind perceives the environment, which triggers bodily responses; those bodily responses have implications on cognitive processes like working memory, flexibility, and creativity, which then determines the way in which an individual perceives and acts within a given environment. From this circuitous and interdependent relationship, thought patterns emerge which can either enable enhanced thinking or result in rigid, linear, simplistic, and more often than not, product-driven behavior.

Just as overtraining can result in orthopedic injuries, so can overuse of the mind result in a reduced cognitive capacity, often a consequence of chronically high work load pressures. Work-related pressures derive from work environments in which competing priorities frequently interrupt task completion; assigned tasks are often both mindful and cognitively challenging; supervisors inflict short deadlines for task completion; and individuals lack control over the timing, pacing, and quality of work output. It is easy to see how working in an environment such as this can result in product-driven behavior and lead to attempts to reduce complexity through simplification, rather than a focus on the process of working through an assigned task or problem set. A 2006 study on work design revealed that intense workload, time pressures, and frequent work interruptions results in professionals who are nearly half as creative as they would be otherwise, given a better work climate.[viii]

The quest for an adaptive force requires an understanding and consideration of the way in which thinking occurs, including scrutiny of Army culture and its climatic impact on individual thought processes. Innovation and adaptability in volatile and uncertain environments requires leaders carefully arrange tactical actions in pursuit of strategic aims while operating comfortably in the complexity of those same environments.[ix]  The military must counter its trend toward linearity and simplification by setting cultural and climatic conditions which balance planning requirements with time and space for innovation, reflection, and growth. In doing so, the Army could see the kind of success the Yankees saw once they conceived of the environment for what it was and won their first American League East title in 1976. Perhaps the Army can also unlock the true potential of its leaders, most importantly those tempered by hard-won successes in the contemporary operational environment of the last decade. Only then will the Army display the full potential of the adaptability that it has long sought, and free itself from the shackles of rigid, linear planning and dogmatic adherence to product-driven outcomes.

End Notes       

[i] Dan Epstein, Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride through Baseball and America in the Swinging 70’s. McMillan Publishing: , 2012. 182.

  [ii] Linda P. Beckerman, “The Non-Linear Dynamics of War,” SAIC, 1999, at

[iii] Dietrich Dörner, The Logic of Failure (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Pub., 1997), 45.

[iv] Donald A Schön, The Reflective Practitioner (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 61.

[v] Wilma Koutstaal, The Agile Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 571.

[vi] John Haugeland, Having Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), 236-37

[vii] Andy Clark, Supersizing the Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), xxvi.

[viii] Kimberly D. Elsbach and Andrew B. Hargadon, ”Enhancing Creativity through ‘Mindless’ Work: A Framework of Workday Design,” Organization Science 17, no. 4 (2006): 471-72.

[ix] Bob Johansen, Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present. (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2007). 51–53.


About the Author(s)

Both authors are recent graduates of the School of Advanced Military Studies. MAJ Cassandra Crosby is assigned to 3rd Infantry Division and MAJ Anthony Marston is assigned to 1st Cavalry Division.

Both authors are recent graduates of the School of Advanced Military Studies. MAJ Cassandra Crosby is assigned to 3rd Infantry Division and MAJ Anthony Marston is assigned to 1st Cavalry Division.


Bill C.

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 12:09pm

Do we believe that our Cold War world was complicated or complex?

Herein to note that our strategy during the Cold War might be found under the single word, and/or concept, of "containment."

(Thus to note that "winning" -- during the Cold War -- equaled "containment" of the way of life, way of government and values, attitudes and beliefs of the former Soviet Union and communism -- and, thereby, the "containment" of the power, influence and control which, via these attributes, might be provided to our enemy.)

Likewise, should we consider that our post-Cold War world is more-complicated and/or more-complex than our "simple" reality of the Cold War?

This, given the fact that our strategy today might also be described by a single word and concept; in this case, that identified with the term "expansion."

(Thus to see "winning" today as being our gaining greater power, influence and control throughout the contemporary world; this, via the expansion of our political, economic and social values, norms and institutions.)

Hans Morgenthau saw the Cold War in these rather simple terms:

"The United States and the Soviet Union face each other -- not only as two great powers which in the traditional ways compete for advantage.... but also as the fountainheads of two hostile and incompatible ideologies, systems of government and ways of life, each trying to expand the reach of its respective political values and institutions and to prevent the expansion of the other."

Post-the Cold War, the United States came to be the only great power left that sought to advance (both through war and through other means) its ideology, its system of government and its way of life.

And, post-the Cold War, the United States came to be the only great power left that sought, via these various methods, to expand the reach of its political, economic and social values and institutions.

This being the case, then how is it that we might now consider our post-Cold War existence as being more-complex and/or more-complicated than that of our existence during the Cold War?

Herein to note, again, that our reality during the Cold War, in and of itself, was not seen as being either complex or complicated. (See Morganthau above.)

Bill M.

Sun, 06/28/2015 - 10:40am

Our industrial era training focuses on a task, condition, and standard approach to training versus problem solving. There is certainly some merit to this approach for initial training of soldiers. Since we rarely move beyond this type of training, it should not be a surprise that our training culture produces linear thinkers. Our education process attempts to undo the excesses of training on our ability to think creatively, but training is conducting in the field, while education is normally conducted in a classroom. Perhaps we need to do a better job of blending training and education?

Outlaw 09

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 4:49am

Here is the problem with "thinking" --when Putin unleashed his non linear warfare strategy in first Crimea and then eastern Ukraine all we heard was "panic" in just about all the various pundit comments.

Instead of "seeing and understanding" what we were actually "seeing" and then a soft initial analysis using reality on the ground "think tanks" got into the game with pundits and we were off to the races.

I from the very beginning saw at least four major single points of failure in the Russian strategy and just waited to see how events on the ground bore out these points which in fact they did yet with all the "thinking" going on in DoD and the White House no one seemed to "see it".

The Russian non linear warfare has in fact failed and failed badly--yes the fighting is still ongoing and the dying/destruction as well BUT Putin has lost and lost badly AND yet with all the "thinking" in DC--they have not recognized it.

The first problem with the article is that there are/were a hand full of individuals who had a unique gift in being able to "see and understand" BUT the military culture refused to listen to them and they have been rather successfully sidelined and or pushed out of the DoD and DC in general.

The second problem is until the military and political culture actively change inside the military and they have not--"thinking" will not/never occur.…

Why Ukrainians Are Speaking More Ukrainian

By Ievgen Vorobiov
June 26, 2015 - 5:14 pm

It’s been 16 months since the first Ukrainian soldier was shot by Russian troops in soon-to-be occupied Crimea. Since then, Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine has presented the country’s Russian-speaking population with some tricky questions about identity.
“I’m afraid of speaking Russian now, because Putin might want to protect me”
“I’m afraid of speaking Russian now, because Putin might want to protect me” — that became the frequently repeated joke last year after the Russian president made it clear he considered Russian-speakers in Ukraine to be endangered by Kiev’s new government.

Now many Russian speakers in Ukraine — who live primarily in the country’s east and in large cities — are demonstratively turning to Ukrainian as a badge of self-identification. A concise tutorial on how to switch from Russian to Ukrainian, written by a Kiev blogger, has earned thousands of shares and reposts. Patriotic Russian-speakers in Kiev and big eastern cities are pledging on social networks to speak Ukrainian to their children, hoping to make the next generation more fluent and natural speakers of their native tongue.
For the first time in decades, speaking Ukrainian is seen as fashionable rather than backward.
For the first time in decades, speaking Ukrainian is seen as fashionable rather than backward.

Ukraine’s strong civil society has also been an important factor in “socializing” the country’s adult population into using Ukrainian. Amid the dire lack of state-funded support for life-long education, dozens of organizations and initiatives teach the language to adults across the country. Activists say the bulk of their students came in the wake of the Euromaidan revolution and the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Most of the students, says an organizer of the biggest course in Kiev, are 30-to-50-somethings. Free Ukrainian courses have mushroomed in big, mostly Russian-speaking cities such as Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and Odessa. However, they’ve also popped up in Lviv and Vinnytsia, Ukrainian-speaking cities where many people displaced from Crimea and the east have settled.

The media landscape is also unmistakably becoming more Ukrainian. Granted, the traditional media are still somewhat dominated by Russian: two of the top three TV channels broadcast their evening news and most entertainment programs in Russian. Most high-circulation weekly magazines are published in Russian. However, the emergence of powerful Internet-based news outlets is bucking the trend. Ukrainian-language web-based TV, most notably Hromadske.TV and Espreso, have few Russian-language competitors of comparable quality, although the former has started to produce programs in Russian.

Since over half of Ukrainians regularly use the Internet, the social media is turning into another channel of “Ukrainization,” especially of the middle class. Top bloggers writing in Ukrainian on Facebook and Twitter are boosting their follower bases, and many Ukrainian Internet users are starting to abandon platforms based in Russia, such as VK, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. A controversy over Facebook blocking Ukrainian-created content, allegedly by Russian citizens staffing tech support teams in Dublin, provoked calls to write more in Ukrainian as a way to insulate the “Ukrainian” blogosphere from Russian interference. Discussing politics in Ukrainian makes it harder for Russian trolls to chip in.

The gravitational pull of the Ukrainian language is making a mark on business, too.

For the first time, Ukrainian pop music is selling better than Russian.

A popular chain of coffee shops, Lviv Handmade Chocolate, has made waitresses and baristas that serve customers only in Ukrainian into a signature policy, yet the chain is popular across the whole country. Roman Matys, a Ukrainian activist, campaigns for companies to include labels and documentation in Ukrainian in addition to Russian, and several large companies have yielded to his group’s petitions.

For the past twenty years, state education policy has been to promote Ukrainian in schools without directly impending the use of Russian. Ukraine’s post-Soviet governments, even pro-Russian ones, treated secondary education in Ukrainian as a generous concession to national-minded activists. While only 47 percent of Ukrainian schools taught in Ukrainian at the end of Soviet rule in the 1980s, that rate steadily increased to 75 percent in 2004 and 86 percent in 2013. And as Ukrainian has become the principal teaching language at leading universities, schoolkids and their parents perceive it as more of a priority, even if they use Russian at home.

The trend was not reversed even after the passage of the 2012 “language law,” which provided for greater use of Russian on the regional level. Legislative initiatives pertaining to the language use have been politicized since the Maidan revolution as well. Parliament’s attempt to repeal the controversial language law in February 2014 (which was rejected by a presidential veto) was used as a rallying call by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine is still a bilingual country. But the Ukrainization phenomenon is not just anecdotal — survey data shows that, in the last decade, the country’s linguistic landscape has undergone a visible change. In 2005, 42 percent of Ukrainians claimed that they spoke mostly Ukrainian at home. By 2011, 53 percent said they spoke it in their everyday lives. Since most of them are perfectly fluent in Russian as well, the 11 percent upsurge, representing at least 5 million people, reflects the share of Ukrainian society that has switched from Russian to Ukrainian. The Euromaidan revolution and conflict with Russia accelerated that trend: a poll conducted in May 2015 shows that almost 60 percent of the population prefer to use Ukrainian in everyday communication.

This burgeoning popularity of Ukrainian, especially among the youth and the middle class, is having unifying effects on the country’s social structures. It facilitates social mobility between the east and the west. Many western Ukrainian students are bringing their Ukrainian to universities in Kiev and the big eastern cities. Young IT and service professionals who move from Kharkiv or Dnipropetrovsk to Lviv tend to bring Ukrainian into their everyday lives, despite Lviv’s tolerance for Russian speakers.

The revival of Ukrainian is only one of many societal upshots in the Ukrainian-Russian war.


Fri, 06/26/2015 - 11:25am

Great read. I especially appreciate how succinct yet effective it is. Thinking about how we think is one of the most challenging mental tasks, as it attacks not just knowledge but perception, which leads to questioning identity and understanding. Therefore, asking someone to question their perceptions doesn't usually win fans. But it is an absolutely critical mental task for creative thinking.

That said, I do have one minor quibble with the article based on the Yankee quote in the intro and the section on Doctrine. Interpreting that quote as "the inability to see the environment and themselves for what they really are" begs the question of an objective reality that is practically knowable. It is this premise that I would blame for our absurd over-investment in COP/ISR/Big Data capabilities. If you challenge the notion of what the is knowable, then the Yankee's statement becomes the inability to see how the environment has changed relative to themselves. This then makes Doctrine something far more significant than what the authors present.

Doctrine is the result of how you frame the world and your understanding of it. That result then generates the structures that shape your force and how you use it. In other words, doctrine isn't just this thing that you can use sometimes, it is the set of ideas behind how you have organized yourself and employ yourself. Thus, not understanding how your environment has changed in relation to you is the same as not understanding how your doctrine...and therefore your force design and plans....relate to your OE. None of which has much to do with knowing the objective reality of environment and yourself.

We tend to like knocking doctrine in these articles as if that's what "the smart people do" while the dinosaurs can't see past it, without realizing that:

1. Doctrine is intimately connected to how we look and act as an organization, as it drives how we train, equip, plan, and execute our missions. It is our baseline personality.
2. Any idea challenging the established doctrinal view will generally fail to take root if it does not replace the doctrinal view with something new. The abject failure of Stability Operations advances of the last 14 years to find a home in Decisive Action is proof of the idea. Once the near term incentive for the doctrinal challenge disappears, the ideas wilt on the vine.
3. You can't propose a new way of doing things and not replace the old way...which is the same as replacing old doctrine with new doctrine.

Thus, I would suggest broadening the understanding of doctrine in this effort to promote "a new way of thinking." That new way of thinking, once adopted, becomes our doctrine. Ignoring the process of codifying ideas and evolved method of translating ideas into force design and training is one of the biggest weaknesses of critics of doctrine to begin with. Critiquing doctrine is not the same thing as critiquing the idea of doctrine.

I often find that it's not that the dinosaurs can't see past doctrine, it's that they don't understand what you are trying to change if you don't attack a specific part of the doctrine to begin with. It's often just a misunderstanding.

"The contemporary operational environment seldom resembles the one conceived in planning largely due to its inherent complexity."

Negative. Off on the wrong track here.

Outlined below is what would seem to be the right/correct path:

a. The contemporary operational environment does not resemble the one that was conceived of in planning largely due to the fact that the prevailing description of the operational environment -- and, thus, the premise upon which planning will be undertaken and based -- is entirely wrong/false; this, causing the plan to be compromised, made worthless and/or made grossly counterproductive, even before actions taken on the plan can begin.

b. Herein, the recent specific wrong/false description of the operational environment -- upon which planning was undertaken and based -- was that of a post-the Cold War world; wherein, everyone wanted to be like us. This description of the operational environment suggested that we would only need to:

1. Liberate populations from the outdated/oppressive regimes so as to

2. Realize our political objective of transforming outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic and social lines.

Thus, the fundamental flaw was our erroneous/ethnocentric view of the operational environment which:

a. Dramatically over-estimated the power, influence and appeal of the way of life, way of governance and values, attitudes and beliefs associated with our own background, history and culture and

b. Dramatically under-estimated the power, influence and appeal of the ways of life, ways of governance and values, attitudes and beliefs associated with the very different backgrounds, histories and cultures of other populations.

So: How to compound this grave error/mistake today?

Look to such things as complexity, systems theory and/or non-linear concepts for explanations of and answers to our problems.

This, rather than looking to, instead, the seemingly more-correct -- rather simple -- and, indeed, rather obvious -- "wrong/false premise" explanation provided above.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 10:14am

Ah... the concept of "seeing" and "understanding" simple words but in fact very few have the ability and those that do are in the current DoD environment ie culture are often sadly sidelined.

As is often the case--if one wants to move ahead--you do not poke the bear in the stomach as the bear has "multiple ways of killing you".

The easiest "killing" is simply to ignore. The second easy "killing" is the statement--"you do not get it or you have not been trained for this".

Just some of the "easy killing methods".

Whatever happened about "commonsense"???

Robert C. Jones

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 9:18am

A great article. Once we open our minds to the type of thinking described in this article, a couple items to ponder are:

1. That things aren't all that more complex now than any other time in history. It is comforting to have handy foils to blame our frustrations and shortfalls upon. "Complexity" and "Ideology" are the two biggest patsies of the modern age.

2. Applying "war solutions" to "non-war problems" can be very satisfying, can certainly suppress current symptoms and destroy current actors - but invariably serves far more to make the actual problems in play worse in the execution, not better.

3. Pursuit of ever more effective tactics, or for the perfect high-cost "gonkulator" that will magically over come complexity and generate winning solutions is a timely, expensive, and ultimately, fools errand. It is indeed time to think.

So, what makes a problem that looks, sounds, feels so much like "war" actually a very different "non-war" problem demanding very different thought, action and focus to resolve? For me the answer is as simple as "within is different than between." We need to think about that. How are political conflicts within a single system of governance unique from those that take place between - and what differences in thought, focus and action do those difference demand??

If big data is clogging our minds with unnecessary information, how do we find a new focus that allows the amazing human mind to largely ignore the irrelevant and zero in on that very manageable amount of information that is actually important to our efforts? Personally I prefer an Einsteinian approach over the gonkulator approach. One need not possess an Einstein intellect to apply an Einstein approach to thinking. I may be wrong, but so far evidence seems to indicate the gonkulators fall short - particularly when they are attempting to solve for the wrong problem.

But one can program for and buy gonkulators; and the makers of these devises are no threat to the egos of senior military leaders, whereas eclectic thinking from within is free, inconvenient, often uncomfortable, and easy to ignore.

These two Majors are asking good questions. Will anyone who is tasked to provide answers actually listen? So far the indicators are not good


Tue, 06/23/2015 - 12:15pm

Great article.

"For example, tactical success achieved using doctrinal principles can lead to strategic failure if a force fails to arrange tactical actions in a manner that carefully considers those actions in relation to strategic aims."

This is spot on. Too many times, we witness this disconnect as analysts, commanders, and policy makers will parade successful actions at the tactical and operational level that are disconnected from the strategic level. At the same time, we see this flipped where certain tactical approaches that were successful are ignored because of a strategic failure (even though the failure was not caused by the tactical success). Recognizing this gap, and what fuels each side, is critical.

Bill C.

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 12:32pm

... "They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.”

"His quote reflects a problem that many organizations continue to wrestle with today: an inability to see the environment and themselves for what they really are."

Using this concept, let's suggest that the problem is not that the world is complex (it certainly does not appear to be so) but, rather, that the world is not as we expected it to be post-Cold War.

Post-the Cold War we expected to see -- via universal market-democracy ideas -- outlying populations (quickly, easily and mostly on their own):

a. Throw off their old ways of life, governance, etc. And, in the place of these (quickly, easily and mostly on their own),

b. Adopt modern western political, economic and social ways.

OUR JOB, in this "rose-colored glasses" environment, was to simply (1) help these populations get rid of their outdated authoritarian rulers/regimes and (2) give them a western political, economic and social "development" leg up.

Bottom line here is that all this -- because of the universal appeal of our way of life, etc., -- was supposed to be rather easy and inexpensive; this, because we believed we had already garnered the support of the populations.

What we have learned post-Cold War, however, is that populations, everywhere, were:

a. Not adequately interested in or inspired by our way of life, our way of governance, etc.; at least from the standpoint of their being willing to stay in their countries and fight and die to achieve same. These populations, instead,

b. Seem more interested in leaving their country (in the hands of our enemies) or pursuing ways of life and ways of governance which are (a) significantly different from our own but (b) more consistent with their own background, history and culture.

OUR JOB -- in this very, very different post-Cold War environment (one which we did not expect) -- becomes, not more complex I suggest, just more difficult, more costly and more long-term in nature.

Thus, OUR TASK -- in this very different post-Cold War environment than we expected -- is to:

a. Win over outlying populations such that they crave for and are willing to fight and die for our way of life, our way of governance, etc. And

b. Adequately stand against those that continue to pursue -- and fight and die for -- ways of life/governance other than our own.

If the above looks more like a Cold War, rather than the post-Cold War environment that we had hoped for, then we must (1) acknowledge this and understand that (2) it is not complex. In this "back to the future" light to see our return to such ideas as "political warfare;" which was last seen during what we might now call the First Cold War -- or -- more correctly -- the Cold War Part I?