The business of power projection

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The business of power projection


Introduction I:

T he options before every human structure are made predictable to some extent by the logical performance of instruments, the limitations of systems, social elements, rules and regulations, the temperaments of man, etc., besides the historical path taken thus far. If we subject a private company specializing in arms production to analysis in the face of an economic challenge, the courses of action that the firm’s managers adopt to facilitate development or deal with the challenge facing them in a specific space of choice are capable of being explained. Financially speaking, such firms adhere, like others, to the same customary corporate methods to deal with their shareholders, environment, opportunities, resources and threats. It is not that there is a wide range of options at hand in case consumer products begin to deteriorate or a factory is pushed to the verge of bankruptcy. As an example, if a shotgun manufacturer, which is at the end of its industrial life and can no longer sell its products, abruptly changes course and attempts to make use of its remaining property and capabilities in fish farming or children’s clothing production, it is clear that the company will either expand or give away its production line or military products. The firm may also look for new markets for the products that fail to sell in the current one. In spite of that, if the firm in question attempts to manufacture new products, it will shift course from making double-barreled shotguns, for example, to designing automatic rifles, fancy models or cheaper ones to correspond with various levels of the consumer market so it can maintain its market share and find new customers. This is the market’s obligation to industry as the environment, which dictates conditions.

Introduction II:

Igor Ansoff has devised a matrix of four elements to offer a simple explanation of marketing strategies for everyone to choose from. The strategic options in the Ansoff Matrix are exactly the same methods that would be used by the aforementioned arms manufacturer’s rival companies. These concepts are indicative of the fundamental frameworks of choice in the free market, which apply generally to all companies, including military and non-military ones. Under specific conditions, industries, firms and businessmen have options with restrictions in terms of resources, regulations, fields of activity and fundamental principles of the market. But what is the connection between the general corporate-level strategies and the global methodologies in political systems and the prospect of military developments in the future? To answer the question, we need to start from generalities. Let us have a look at the modern governments and closely inspect their capitalist or semi-capitalist systems, laws, budgets, areas of authority, and the tools they have at their disposal. With a cursory look, or even a thorough one, one would not be able to reduce governments — with all their many dimensions and relevant legal institutions related to the public sector — to private companies, which pursue marketing strategies. This, however, may be possible when it comes to the military aspect. In the most comprehensive definition, which is provided by Max Weber, the state is an entity that “successfully claims a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” The exclusive tool to exercise such force is the police, the armed forces, and the instruments designed to detect and thwart threats and crimes. In many of the world’s political systems, projecting such power is limited and organized through constitutions, parliament, etc. Such restrictions next to the exclusivity of using military equipment and troops seem to be in conflict with our definition of a state, and it is as if a state could not be viewed as a technocrat business corporation that follows trade strategies and rules of investment.


However, if we look at the field of free activity in a broader scope such as international relations instead of within a state, power projection is not only not exclusive, but is instead competitive, commercial, and even rather chaotic and almost unchained despite the existence of international institutions and conventions created to organize it. Any state that enjoys military superiority in the security zone in its surroundings defines the limits of military power projection by taking into account its own interests and level of capabilities before taking action. Many countries that are incapable of defining such security borders get entangled with the global rivalry over power projection within their own borders. At the lowest level of such internal entanglement is the pressure a state feels to purchase weapons exclusively from a single country as the exclusive consumer of the military products of that country or power bloc (a penetrated market according to the terminology of trade). At the highest level, the countries may be forced into pacts or long-term and sometimes permanent deals with a foreign power and commit itself to host foreign military base on its soil.

This ostensible military-security order, created with long-term treaties and military contracts, is in effect commercial-military, and stock exchange markets and the detailed rules of investment regulate it.

In this market-oriented outlook on the issue of security, the exercise of hard power is defined not by rules and friendly agreements or respectfully-worded bilateral or multilateral pacts, but by doping and controlled military balancing regimes and their boundaries. The entry of resources and private and public finances into the free and very large weapons market makes it only obvious that there would be pressure for the return of investments through the continuation of insecurity and conflict. The world’s superpowers, like many other countries, have governments that are limited inside of their territory but unbridled outside of it. Therefore, by reducing superpowers to military companies that have economic objectives or popular armies that are not unlimited by budgetary and resource-related constraints, and are, on the other hand, the strategic providers of the economic power of their country or of the customers of their goods and services, one can utilize — apart from value-laden concepts — market strategies and the rules of investment to break their behavior down to logical strategies and conducts that are understandable and predictable because of the limited options associated with a matter of economy.

It is worth repeating the assumption here that governments are, on the international stage, just the same as limited liability companies that offer goods and services related to the exercise of violence.

Among the strategic clichés of militaristic strategies, another proof for the claim above is the nearly identical formats of strategy writing that are used to prepare strategy and vision plans of countries’ military strategies of choice. A little attention would be enough to show that they all use the certain templates that are common in commercial strategy writing. Of course, it is worth mentioning that commercial strategies themselves were created on the back of the ancient military strategies to win battles over the conquest of markets and resources. Here, though, the two areas are distinct — one has to do with commerce and economy, and the other with security and economy, and both are linked through the common denominator of “value creation” in economic terms.

It is only natural that, with the investment-oriented outlook on armed forces and military equipment, strategy writing approaches shift from security-wise formats to those matching the creation of commercial value or with general economic goals.

The military vision plans of China, Russia, India, the United States, and European countries, or the strategic plannings and analyses of countries vis-à-vis one another and the reciprocal measures that they mention on paper are all written using the strategic commercial methods of analysis: analyzing internal and external threats, and resources, detecting opportunities, evaluating whether to exploit opportunities or to respond to threats, as well as the different methods of multiplication, classification, and path picking to decide which way resources should be directed to and what decisions should be taken.

But, in addition to all of these, there is also pressure on governments due to the imperatives of the budget and the need for balancing in governance, and that could perhaps be regarded as the main reason why governments get inclined toward commercial-military strategy writing. But such obligations have considerable impacts on one’s outlook on the issue of security.

Under the new outlook, the issue of security is no more considered a threat, but is looked upon as having economic opportunities; terrorism is not a threat, but is an investment opportunity; conflicts among nations and peoples have changed from evils that ruin the humanity to openings for making profit. In an analysis by the New America think tank about India’s military development, chapters have been named as follow: India’s threat scenarios, border threats, naval threats, scenarios of military power development, the history and the current capabilities.

In China’s military development vision plan, published by the People’s Republic of China’s Defense Ministry in 2015, chapter titles have been named as follow: the current security situation, the missions and strategic obligations of China’s armed forces, China’s strategic active defense approach, and etc.

The dictions of the two texts are largely similar, and are like the ones mentioned further above. Strategic issues and prospects are written as main and mid-term objectives, and policies, budgets, and approaches are written on their basis, in such a general way that, instead of focusing on technical approaches, such as how to procure a very critical and sensitive part for a radar or missile, they are limited to such information as how the country should tackle the X threat by compensating for the Y shortcomings and by drawing on the Z opportunities. And eventually, these general delineations go on to divide further below into the details of executive plans and project budgets.

In addition to the common cost-and-benefit calculations, governments also have legal obligations as to job making, developing opportunities, and increasing revenue. Looking at these budgets and threat-and-response frameworks makes it a lot easier to understand strategies than the technical content of a move in practice and, similarly, to understand the behavior of governments in exercising military violence. Given the simplicity of this form of general strategy writing, even a non-Chinese or a non-American can design defense strategies for these countries and can predict how their future military development will play out given their fundamental weaknesses or the opportunities that they eye in their strategy statements with regards to other sectors. When such tracking is possible for anyone with a mid-level or even lower level of proficiency in planning and strategic management, the reverse-planning method can be used in practice to partially predict the content of the unspoken strategies of many countries based on these general frameworks.

Such content will help track the future path, estimate the use of resources, and reveal the development model of defense equipment as well as the future exigencies of each country for which the content is produced.

Furthermore, there are many instruments to assess the strategies that have been produced like this. The methods of the game theory, and dual planning in simulating activities against one another in the form free commercial, security, and economic competition, with actors and structures appropriately designed, will reveal the level of practicality and the adaptability of known content with reality and the consequences of the activities; and thus, the trends that the “ascertained future” of each strategy makes will be largely discoverable.

As I mentioned earlier, in this format of writing, which is based on the economic value or profit, the issue of security is not considered a threat anymore, but rather holds economic opportunities that need investment; terrorism is not a threat, but is an investment opportunity; conflicts among nations and peoples are no more wrecking evils but are chances for making profit. Therefore, in this business of projecting power, looking at the stock exchanges and assessing the fluctuations in the profits of large military firms would better describe the reaction of governments to threats.


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