Technology doesn’t win wars. Why the US pretends it does. | Sean McFate | #8 of Top 10 2019


SEAN MCFATE: War is getting sneakier. War is going underground. And we have to go underground with it. We have to fight in the shadows. Otherwise, we will be left behind. So for example, you know, in this type of
new environment, some of the best weapons do not fire bullets. In the old days, the old rules of war, when
the Soviet Union wanted to arrest the West, wanted to sort of freak out NATO, what it
would do was hold a huge military exercise on the border of Germany, East and West Germany. 150,000 troops. And NATO and the United States wasn’t sure,
like, well, is this an exercise or could it be a real invasion? And that would shake things up. But that’s the old days, the innocent days. Today, when Russia wants to shake up Europe,
what they do is they weaponize refugees. They deliberately bomb civilian centers in
Syria, creating an avalanche of refugees into Europe, which creates Brexit, which creates
the rise of right-wing national parties that want to disembowel the European Union. The Soviets wish they could do that, if they
could only have done that. So I think this is an example of how wars
of the future will be fought. They will not even look like wars to the traditional
mind, and a few heads will explode in the Pentagon. Sure. When people think of the threats that face
our country today, they think of Russia, China, terrorism, pandemics, et cetera. But those are not the worst problems. The worst threat is systemic. It’s growing entropy in the global system. It’s persistent conflict. It’s something I call durable disorder. What durable disorder is and what durable
disorder means is that we have an emerging global system that can contain problems but
not solve them. Meanwhile, we have this post 1945 idea of
a liberal world order that the US sort of champions and rules upon, but that world has
gone away, and we’re not prepared for what follows next. For the United States, the last successful
war was World War II. We won decisively in 1945. The world ran on vacuum tubes, yet the idea
of conventional war is still the strategic paradigm of which the Pentagon, the military,
the modern national security establishment is built around, and this is dangerously wrong. When you ask people to think about the future
of war, often what they tell you is something that looks like World War II with better technology. But there is nothing more unconventional today
than conventional war. Nobody fights this way. When people think about what warfare is they
think of John Wayne or Saving Private Ryan, they think of killing more enemies, taking
more territory, and flying your flag over the enemy’s capital. They think of Berlin in ’45. They think of Japan’s surrender on the battleship,
the USS Missouri. And then they wonder why there’s not a USS
Missouri moment against the Taliban, against ISIS. The reason is nobody fights this way of war
anymore, yet we are mired in the past. And as long as we’re mired in the past, and
war has moved on, we will be left behind. And even an undefeated So if there’s one maxim
for the last 70 years of war, it’s that technology is not decisive in warfare. If you look at big, powerful, technologically
advanced militaries go up against low-level Luddites who confound them. You know, whether it’s the Mujahideen in Afghanistan
against the Soviets, or America fighting in Vietnam against the North Vietnamese, et cetera,
Iraq and Afghanistan, this is, without question, the one thing we should all agree on. Yet for some reason, people think we need
to double down and invest in technology for warfare. In fact, for most people, they can’t even
imagine the future of war without high tech. Such is the bias that we have for it. But this is the definition of insanity, doing
the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. For example, take the F-35 fighter jet. You know, we have not fought, we have not
had a strategic dogfight since the Korean War. So why do we need more fighter jets? I do not know. We already have the best fighter jets. And the F-16, the F-15, and the F-18. So why do we need the F-35? And what’s even more amazing is that we have
spent more on this small airplane than any other weapon in history. We’ve spent $1.5 trillion on the F-35. That’s more than Russia’s GDP. If the F-35 were a country, its GDP would
be in the top 15 of the world. And amazingly, it has flown zero combat missions
in two long wars. And we’re buying more of them. Right? So the idea of putting our faith in technology
is ludicrous. It is absolute ludicrous. A lot of people think that the future will
belong to AI, artificial intelligence, and cyber and cyber war. But the truth is, if you ask 11 people — well,
10 or 12 experts on what cyber war is, you’ll get 20 different answers. All cyber people can agree on is ones and
zeros and space. You know, they always come up with these fantastical
things. Oh, the power grid for the East Coast can
come down. You know, and Hollywood depicts this in James
Bond movies. But in reality, cyber, all cyber does, it
allows us to do old things in new ways. Old things like espionage, theft, propaganda,
and sabotage. There’s nothing new about it. I mean, it’s not a new way of war, it just
allows us to do old things in new ways. So technology is not the savior that most
futurists pretend it is when it comes to warfare.

100 thoughts on “Technology doesn’t win wars. Why the US pretends it does. | Sean McFate | #8 of Top 10 2019

  1. I love these comments from clowns who never served. Just like their hero 5x draft dodger, Reality TV boy, fake university founder, Donnie J-boy Trump.

  2. All other things being equal, technology wins everything.

    A human on Line A with a rifle, a human on Line B with a stick.
    Tech wins.

    Scale up as necessary*

    Unless this is some retarded title play on words having to do with knowledge being power.
    Because it doesn't matter if line A has a rifle and B has a stick if A doesn't know where B is to shoot him.

    Xyz down the rabbit hole.

    Please stop with your d*mb *ss titles. Thanks.

  3. I only wish people who believe in this false statement would rationally justify there's belief.

    So I tried to google authors name, there no research produced by him, nothing in RAND corporation is written by him, I might be wrong but so far no legitimate links, he only wrote multiple books.
    In fact RAND Corporation has a publication "Paths to Victory By Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill, Molly Dunigan", the publication provides great details and context why technology is not a guarantee of winning war in counterinsurgency only operations. Publication makes clear that flexibility and adaptability is the dominant factor of winning in COIN operations. In fairness such statement debatable because insurgency in some but not all case's is substantially more flexible and adaptable to environment and utilization of modern technology then conventional forces (eg. do more with less in the most relevant manner). Furthermore from perspective of levels of war, specifically in terms of operational and tactical levels victory would be virtually impossible without some form of technological advantage over opposing forces in terms of logistics, information, planning, and firepower. Additionally, there no known war-gaming exercises in military history that suggests such false statement (prove me wrong). In conclusion war is hell that shows best and worst of human kind collectively, it is the most complex social dynamics known to mankind, arguing that there single factor why wars are won or lost is an ignorance in it's best.

    One should ask self; if nothing more but marketing strategy, what is authors intent saying such outrageous statement ?

  4. ​Re title. But the next War will be fought on the turf of Technology (e.g. read AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee). This is why Andrew Yang shld be the next POTUS. Shoutout to the #YangGang in the house! 😀

  5. Sean McFate needs to be on mainstream media more often. Fox viewers especially should read up on his views. Russian manipulation of the Trump administration, and of its supporters, might finally become apparent to them.
    Expect conventional warfare in the 21st century? There is no 'conventional' warfare. War is about damaging the opposition, sowing fear, and convincing the enemy they can't win. It's not dogfights or fire fights, or tactical nukes. It's about information that the population believes. Russia knows this, Bashir knows this, and China knows this. If we don't catch up, we'll lose, and we won't even realize it.

  6. Bullshit covers up a lot of things, like saying the problem that we are having today is Only because of a few people in the offices of the FBI an DOJ !!! Which will go away !!!!!! Bullshit takes care of everything today !!!!

  7. I agree, in 2003 we stared a war with an ideology. I don't think weapons alone can win a war like that. Don't really know if anything can…

  8. Fact is, that some people from rich, and sustainable societies simply forget how cruel, brutal and sadistic we cen be to each other. We are still animals.

  9. Horse sh**, Gorbachev said he didn't understand why Europe was trying to recreate the USSR. The refugee crisis is not their doing. The current 'war' is completely economic, there is no wars to fight with those who have Nuclear weapons – only complete collapse. I think the focus is good, but it's not a broad enough view on the problems as to why people are pissed off.

  10. We need to phase out capitalism and private property. And push for socialism and direct democracy and personal property . Until we get to automation communism.

  11. Boots on the ground takes territory: technology gets them there alive. Technology, tactics, and foot soldiers work together.

  12. Whether the F 35 is an appropriate weapons system to spend money on, or if other technologies should be used is besides the point. Should we assume then that the US will be fighting guerrilla type conflicts
    In faraway lands for the foreseeable future ? And, come to think of it it fought very few . Afghanistan , the Iraqui insurgency , part of the Vietnam conflict (and yes , there were dogfights over Vietnam) . It is the same as saying that, after the Indian wars the US should not have acquired advanced weaponry since it would always fight against tribes on horseback. And then came the Spanish American war , where battleships , machine guns and the like cane very handy indeed. The US will never have to deter or fight industrial nations ever? Really? Is China not antagonizing the US? Russia ? Eventually India ? How are you going to face them? Do not need technology ? Technology and tactics always won the real conflicts between nations of similar social and economic circumstances. Check out the Greco Persian Wars , Alexander the Great, the Greco Roman Wars, the Roman Empire , the Crusades , the Spanish reconquista and on and on . So called low intensity conflicts, were never decisive nor were they the main event , never mind the destruction and suffering they might have caused . Even both Iraq wars were technology driven ones . The US won those , through technology , and proceeded to occupy Iraq and fight a low intensity conflict which had no hope of winning unless it was willing to destroy the whole country and kill (really ) large swaths of the population indiscriminately like the Germans did in Eastern and Southern Europe , Alexander the Great in Afghanistan and Caesar in Gaul. Such conflicts should probably not be fought . But from this, to assume that this would be the only type of warfare in the future , it is ludicrous , bordering the delusional . How are you people going to face China? How are we Greeks facing Turkey ? With planes , missiles., advanced naval ships and the like . Please Please get real

  13. Um, It is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA that started arming rebels in Syria. Obama decided to go in alone. Is this guy for REALZ? Guessing 100% Security State puppet. Probably gets his info from the same person that delivers his scotch. And that person convinced him he should be an author.

  14. WWIII will be fought with AI and drones with missiles etc..and over b4 our Generals decide on a strategy or our soldiers shoot a single bullet

  15. My opinion we need faster and sophisticated supersonic rockets that's where wars are heading no doubt about that… boots on ground came later if there are people still alive to put boots on

  16. How is this man an expert? Anyone who follows, or has been in the military they would know that greater tech wins battles. To win a war, it takes many more spokes. Russia is advancing past our tech, T14, the latest SU aircraft, ICBM tech.. honestly this was a waste of everyone's time involved

  17. It's as if America has geared up their military in preparation for the ultimate war, the ultimate enemy, a war of the worlds scenario. America's military budget is currently around $786 billion, only 17 countries in the world have a greater GDP . This means that America spends more on it's military than the annual GDP of the other 178 countries.

    One could use the argument that it serves as a deterrent from an attack from Russia and China but that doesn't hold water, simply because Russia and China's military is in direct response to the continued growth of Americas. Remember, America is the only country who has ever used the bomb, and witnessing that kind of fire power and America's willingness to use it, it stands to reason that other countries needed to develop their own and ensure a large robust military.

    Bear in mind in WWII, Japan was attacking China and Russia was attacking Germany, we weren't at war with either China or Russia and in fact we were fighting common enemies. The notion that America won the ware is inaccurate at best. America fought alongside the Allied Forces attacking Germany from the east, with the Russians attacking from the west and entered Berlin, literally in days if not hours of each other. There's a story where America and Russia nearly collided with each other just days before entering Berlin.

    The belief that America won the war as if they were some conquering hero, is just not true. It was a collaborative effort with several other nations and Yes, also Russia. And nothing can drive home this fact other than the casualty losses, Russia had an estimated 20-24 million casualties, China upwards of 20 million, America 420 thousand.

    So one has ask, why a continued increasing spend developing technology to fight a non-existent foe, when in essence, that foe is ourselves.

  18. Tech needs to be good enough to deal damage. Also, cheap enough to have a relative economic gain, in a binary calculation as in two participants, after the life of the tech.

  19. Really Great video. However I think most strategists would agree that technology only helps you win wars when (1) you deeply understand your adversary and (2) you know the outcome you want to achieve. The problem is that big budget spending and tech has become more driven by profit and politics and that makes it harder to choose the right strategy and spend your dollars wisely…

  20. The cronies in the military industrial complex rely on public fear in order to enrich themselves at the tax payer's expense.

  21. Big Think is obviously a misnomer. Every war since WWII could have been won quickly and dramatically with nuclear weapons.

  22. The issue is that we ignored Eisenhower's warning and made war palatable to the American public. In the past we dismantled the apparatus to create the machines of war and stood down a large portion of the serviceman. Now we have a permanent industry building weapons of war and troops deployed for almost 2 decades in hostile theaters around the world. War should be brutal. So brutal in fact that each and every one of us should be terrified at it's prospect. And when we choose to make that horrible decision we should not hold back in the methods used to destroy the enemy and force unconditional surrender followed by a brief as possible occupation followed by withdrawal.

  23. The real threat is an obsolete socioeconomic system that has zombied along for way too long.

    The only permanent end to this war is the replacement of this life sucking zombie with socioeconomic systems that better serve the interests of humankind.

  24. Technology doesn't win wars? Ok. Let's test this theory. Here . . . You have a sharp stick and I will have an nuclear attack submarine. And . . . Go!

  25. This guy never spent a minute on the battlefield face to face with an armed combatant. Tell this shit to the man with a rifle in his hand on the front line. Tell him it's not war. This is a bunch of abstract esoteric bullshit. Ultimately pointless.

  26. Technology is not as advanced as we pretend it is. The games we play are not real life. Mother Nature still has the upper hand. Competitive edge is not "check mate" for everyone. Guns, bombs, drones can kill but they can't win adherents. Which wars has the US won since WWII, none that I can name.

  27. Lol, yeah, tell us what your liberal textbooks say about war and technology. Btw, twice deployed Marine Vet here who was the man keeping the communications for the entire Irq & Afg theatres of war online and functioning perfectly so our very technologically advanced air support could drop technologically advanced bombs and fire technologically advanced machine guns at them. Btw, I've personally watched, on seperate occasions, An inbound truck ripped to shreds by a gunship's bullets, an inbound truck completely eviscerated by a bomb, a crowd of grizzled desert warriors made to say still upon the earth in the face of our wepons, vics, and armor, and have personally been TAD to field test the most sophisticated air defense system which existed at the time. What kind of rock do you live under that makes you think that these homocidal peasant zealots can flabbergast our bombs, bullets, vics, and gear. Like, do you even know about the jammers we put on some LAR vics? Or the cameras we put on blimps that can resolve faces at 12Km…, or the javelin missiles, or bunker busters, o4 bunker buster proof bunkers, or any of the other incredible technology that gives us a large cumulative edge.
    I mean, it's not good enough that we can be stupid about it all, it's true enough that there's no weapon you can hand an absolute idiot that will guarantee his survival against some enemy, but if you hand him a pistol and a small plexiglass forearm shield he's probably going to beat an enemy who only has rocks to throw.

  28. The U. S. Hasn't been in a dogfight since Vietnam but their planes have and they sell quite nicely to many other countries.
    Also if the US had never upgraded their aircraft since Korea then many other air forces would have happily engaged in dogfighting with them.

  29. Technology is useless in hands of cowards. Russia flooded EU with refugees, using conventional weapons by civilian objects. US simply failed to answer with all their F-35, Global Hawks, Tomahawks etc. In modern world acting like madman and spreading fear is already a part of victory. Russia, North Korea and Iran perfectly utilize this strategy

  30. Technology wins wars… It is all about how you apply that technology. Now, nations and armies shouldn't depend on technology to win wars. Just Romans, Persians, Egyptians, Chinese, and Babylonians. In the coming wars technology will not be as powerful as a nuke but getting your enemy is will effective and impactful. Technology shouldn't breed hubris, should be information, information becomes knowledge and knowledge is power even if it is misinformation to the enemy.

    No more half-baked ideas or Russians conspiracies.

    Oh yeah, Brexit happened because the people were dissatisfied with their leaders and the elites. Just look at the losses of Labour in the past election. Labour first wanted no Brexit then they wanted another referendum. The elites showed that democracy is irrelevant and a real pain in the bum when they don't want to go along with failing policies of globalization, capitalism, centralisation of unelected technocrats in a technocracy which is hurting people in real terms. Vote Leave and stay out of EU.

  31. Yeah, Brexit is a Russian plot, not the English getting sick of Brussels telling them what to do and not having any sovereignty. It’s this kinda bullshit narrative that is pissing me off. Lefty’s keep saying if you don’t believe what they tell you you are just a Russian stooge or a racist or a sexist. Fuck you guys.

  32. Guys, I think what this guy is saying is that the war has been won even before it went into direct combat without us knowing it. Of course technology plays a big role in combat. But you need people, information and cooordination. If we get disrupted in any of those aspects, we may not win a war with just superior technology.

  33. I am a Warfare analyst, and this Foreign Policy dude doesn't realize *he isn't talking about war".

    Causing insurrection and sabotage and collapsing governments isn't WAR.

    The physical force of nation state vs nation state IS built on troop vs troop, taking territory, and supreme technology.

    To say "nobody fights this way" when pointing at non-state actors like ISIS is beyond foolish. We're not focusing on cavemen anymore. You think it's not about forces and technology? You think it's just the United States thinking and acting this way? Look at Russia. Look at China.

    And THEN this fool talks about fighter jets and how "we already have the best". Wrong. Holy crap this guy is wrong.

    He MIGHT know foreign policy, but he doesn't understand warfare. At all.

    If other nations didn't care about tech and troops, China wouldn't have stolen the F-35 to build their own. They wouldn't also be working on new tech and new ways to kill each other.

  34. Someone tell this guy that Israel doesn't need their technologically advanced missile defense system isn't necessary. The rockets being hurled to kill their people isn't a threat worth bothering with. They should be more interested in their Twitter feeds.

    This guy is a fucking moron.

  35. Technology DOES win wars. Just ask the Japanese after getting nuked into submission.

    What's preventing technology from doing its work is the Geneva convention and other international laws that severely restrict its application.

    Imagine Aliens invading the entire planet with technology a 1000 years more advanced than anything we got and no arbitrary rules restricting them. Not a chance in a trillion the human species survive the first assault.

  36. So you're saying The North beated the South because it could, despite having the best generals and still losing because The Union had better technology in comparison.

  37. I always come to the comments. Its always laughable how the people in the comments always hear what they wanna hear and puts words the guest didn't say at all; is funny how they don't listen and don't hear other peoples ideas, the comment section always thinks they are always right.

    Also the guys at big think make so wrong their job because they ALWAYS mislead the videos´ thoughts with the tittle. The title says
    "Technology doesn't win wars" and the video densest mention that. its about how there are other better tactics than technology, like changing peoples ideas and thoughts via propaganda or creating proxy conflicts.

  38. Despite what this guy says, this doesn't mean that the traditional ways of war will go away. There will be armies, navies, and air forces. Look at sci-fi universes. They still have armies and navies. But this guy has some valid points. We must evolve for the future. And we are in the midst of another arms race between the US and Russia, which explains the F-35.

  39. F35 is a joint program of which many countries have contributed. Your theory isn’t correct about why so much money is spent on kit. For example technology doesn’t stand still it improves so upgrading is a natural thing, other country’s upgrade so do ours. You refer to world war 2. That was a technology race. It is all about who has the best equipment and always will be. If a wrestler belived your theory then what would be the point in him ever going to the gym?

  40. The military would be more successful if politicians didn't interfere. Give the generals the objectives and let them fight the war.

  41. Misleading title that likely caused most people to Dislike this video before and/or without watching it.
    "War is changing and technology is only one factor among many" is the gist of the video (for those too lazy to watch).

  42. Technology doesn't win wars? You show up the battle field with assault rifle, I spent my time on facebook convincing your people that your nation is corrupt and needs a civil war.

  43. The boarders are an incitement, an identity buttress. We have to move beyond identity, ego, onto a battle of ideas where no blood and tears are shed.

  44. We spent so much on a f 35 because we want to keep our pilots so they can be safe and support our ground troops and keep them safe. There is nothing bad about this. If we keep on innovating new technologies we can keep our soldiers safe and keep on fighting. Such is the case of body armor .

  45. We don't pretend anything. We have great tech and we have intelligent people in our military who know how to use it properly.

  46. This is the BIGGEST piece of misleading propaganda POS! Interesting how you dropped that Russia hysteria right there about how the commies are coming for the colonizers! #BS

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