[lit-ideas] Worst Case Scenarios

It is a almost a truism in military history that optimistic military
planners regularly overestimate how easy it will be to defeat their
enemies. Thus, for example, before WWI German planners convinced
themselves that the German army would be in Paris in a couple of
weeks. The French planners convinced themselves that the French army
would take about the same amount of time to reach Berlin. Add the fact
that even dazzling initial successes, the Blitzkrieg in WWII, "Shock
and Awe" in Iraq can lead in time to disillusion and defeat, and the
case for paying careful attention to worst case scenarios--asking what
happens if SNAFU reigns or the enemy have some tricks up their
sleeves--is powerful, indeed.

So when I read the opening paragraphs of Victor Corpus' "If it comes
to a shooting war...." in Asia Times, the retired brigadier general
has my full attention,

One could call this article a worst-case scenario for the new American
century. Why worst case? Because of the hard lessons from history. The
Romans did not consider the worst-case scenario when Hannibal crossed
the Alps with his elephants and routed them; or when Hannibal
encircled and annihilated the numerically superior Roman army at the
Battle of Cannae.

The French did not consider the worst-case scenario at Dien Bien Phu
and when they built the Maginot Line, and the French suffered
disastrous defeats. The Americans did not consider the worst-case
scenario at Pearl Harbor or on September 11, and the results were
disastrous for the American people. Again, American planners did not
consider the worst-case scenario in its latest war in Iraq, but
instead operated on the "best-case scenario", such as considering the
Iraq invasion a "cake walk" and that the Iraqi people would be
parading in the streets, throwing flowers and welcoming American
soldiers as "liberators", only to discover the opposite.

The scenarios he describes in which the Chinese and a middle-sized
country in the Middle East use asymmetric warfare techniques to
decimate attacking U.S. forces may sound a bit much like Tom Clancy.
But what a colossal clusterfuck it will be if he's even close to

The complete story can be found at

John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd.
55-13-202 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220-0006, JAPAN
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