Why did The Nazis avoid invading The Swiss? What made General Patton a greater war commander than Hitler? Why have the world’s greatest superpowers of the late 20th Century failed in securing control of the Middle East?
All these questions have the same answer and it is this same answer I give to people who inquire into the issue of national defense in a free society. The answer is that decentralized military forces are generally stronger, more resilient, more agile, and more adaptable than centralized military forces.
Lessons from the Swiss
Due to this prospect of a stagnant bogged-down bloodbath, the Nazis decided to invade the centralized military of France and succeeded in only six weeks.
Ordinarily, we think of countries like Switzerland that have minimalist governments as being easily conquerable. But if this were the case, why would Hitler’s generals advise him to invade what seemed to be more formidable centralized forces instead? The answer is that Nazi war strategists estimated that a Swiss invasion would cost them upwards of 200,000 or more casualties due to the fact that the Swiss people were themselves the army. Unlike countries in the rest of Europe, Swiss citizens were encouraged to be armed to the teeth and trained in combat to their own accord. While this sounds like a nightmare to modern progressive liberals, it was also a nightmare for the ambitious Nazi invaders. What this defensive strategy meant for the Nazis was:
- It was difficult to determine who was an enemy combatant.
- Without a centrally planned mode of operation, conventional military tactics proved futile in establishing and executing tangible objectives to combat the enemy.
- Without concrete objectives to execute, the prospect of victory was fleeting and vague—therefore uncertain.
Due to this prospect of a stagnant bogged-down bloodbath, the Nazis decided to invade the centralized military of France and succeeded in only six weeks and with only 27,000 German KIAs. As the Nazi strategists expected, the collectivism-minded Frenchmen surrendered once the government did. But the Swiss stood strong and largely unperturbed throughout the war that destroyed the rest of Europe. L.K. Samuels summed the Swiss accomplishment up best upon concluding, “Switzerland, a nation no larger than Maryland, was able to deter invasion by one of the most powerful totalitarian war machines that history had ever witnessed.”
Patton vs. Nazi Central Planning
As the Second World War proceeded, Hitler had an increased authoritarian tendency to micro-manage his forces all across Europe. This micromanaging was so extensive that Field Marshal von Rundstedt even commented, “I cannot even have the guard changed outside my room without referring the matter to the Fuhrer.” Ultimately, because no unit could be moved without the permission of a central planner, the dynamic adaptability necessary for any living body to survive was decimated.
The spontaneous nature of localized guerilla warfare tactics make it incredibly difficult for the invaders to identify the enemy much less apprehend their attacks.
George Patton on the other hand took the opposite approach. “Patton’s spectacular victories were often attributed to his shoot-from-the-hip, stay-near-the-battlefield approach to warfare. He inadvertently decentralized the battlefield by ignoring many orders given by rear-line generals. He had a bird’s eye view of the entire combat zone, and was quick to take advantage of German weaknesses as they presented themselves.” Patton through his decentralized tactics proved to be far more adaptable, resilient, and swift in his operations than his central planning Nazi adversaries.
Because of Patton, the Nazis would be able to experience what a blitzkrieg was like from the other side. In one two-week period, Patton recaptured 600 miles of territory back from the Nazis and had won the war in Europe less than a year after D-Day.
Decentralized Military Strategy in the Middle East
To end our historical analysis of the efficacy of decentralized military operations, we look now to the Middle East. Again, we have another instance where what would appear to be an easily conquerable foe proves to be a challenge even for nuclear superpowers. From the decade-long Soviet war with the localized militia of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to the American interventions beginning in the same area in 2001, 30 years has still not been ample time for the greatest modern military powers to take control and stabilize the region.
The decentralized forces of the Middle East have the same advantages that we noted earlier regarding Switzerland. The spontaneous nature of localized guerilla warfare tactics make it incredibly difficult for the invaders to identify the enemy much less apprehend their attacks. Similar to the American experience in the Vietnam War, there can be no concrete objectives implemented on the macrocosmic scale due to the presence of an unpredictable and evasive enemy that is always evolving in a non-linear fashion.
By surrendering our freedom, we are surrendering our greatest potential for security.
Therefore, warring with decentralized foes can predictably lead to a battle of attrition whereby a ceaselessly ensuing black hole of death and destruction causes great economic losses and public discontent in the invading nation. With consistent majority public disapproval of the War in Iraq starting as early as 2005 and $4.4 trillion spent as early as April 2015, we can see this to be the case. Hence, nation states generally have powerful disincentives to invade areas that have decentralized military forces.
Defense in a Free America
History has repeatedly shown us that freedom is the most effective military strategy. Concerns regarding military invasions by foreign state powers in a stateless society are of course valid, but are unsubstantiated when considering the facts. With over 300 million guns owned by 1/3 of households in The United States, the American continent is already a fortress. If we were to have a free market whereby the average person would have at least 3 times more wealth as well as more freedom to own and innovate new military-grade armaments, the prospect of conquest by a foreign state becomes completely unfeasible.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” He was right. By surrendering our freedom, we are surrendering our greatest potential for security.
Matt Ryan writes about liberty and legal issues.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.