Egyptian political science professor Moataz Abdel-Fattah – File photo
CAIRO – 11 October 2017: Why are powerful countries defeated in battles against weaker enemies?
This was a question put forward by Andrew Mark in a famous article back in 1975. Mark attempted to answer it by listing multiple historical examples of major conflicts ending with the victory of the financially weaker and less militarized side. But strategists have been baffled ever since; how does the United States handle such a dilemma?
Seeing as it is always the strongest – militarily and economically – it is difficult to imagine the U.S. as the defeated party. There are several factors that Mark mentioned as the basis for what is called "non-stereotypical warfare;" where the decisive criterion for winning has nothing to do with who has the biggest guns. Instead, the decisive criterion dictates that victory favors those who are willing to suffer more and bear higher costs.
Often, the weaker are more willing to bear the loss of life than the stronger side, which is usually more open and democratic. For democratic states, human and material losses present a pressure point internally.
Weaker sides in conflicts also usually have strong links with foreign contacts, whose interests lie in the continuation of the conflict. Besides, the combat creed adopted by the weaker side in the battle usually determines the extent of their perseverance.
How do major powers act in such cases? How do they deter a weaker force that does not fear defeat and has genocidal tendencies? How do you save your son from the claws of a hungry fox, when he is indifferent to your warnings?
The answer is to render the enemy in continual internal strife; one that is self-weakening and causes its society to divide, thusly incapacitating the enemy from even thinking of entering into external battles. Even if they were to find domestic support at this point; they would still be discouraged because they would have become domestically weak and useless.
The president's statements on the fourth generation wars referred to this dilemma. Egypt continually faces enemies who tamper with Egyptian national security, and exploit its political conditions to render the fate of its army the same as that of the other armies in the region; impotent. Those other armies have been in effect extracted from the equation of total Arab strength by the enemies’ techniques.
Foreign occupation, that of the Iraqi situation, or internal division and civil strife such as those raging within the borders of Somalia, Sudan and Syria; are all techniques used by the stronger enemy to defuse war tendencies. How can you fight an external war when you’re homeland is tearing itself apart?
Fear of strife, paralysis, and social division set in during Mohamed Morsi’s presidency when the military leadership’s warnings to the Muslim Brotherhood were ignored; and their attempts to ensure national consensus were to no avail. This fear was especially heightened when the public took to the streets.
The Brotherhood's political leadership remained unaware of the dangers surrounding it and, more importantly, those surrounding Egypt. Matters became worse after the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders refused to learn the lesson they were being taught. They had wasted a great opportunity to prove to Egyptians that they could lead the country.
As I said – months before the June revolution - the Brotherhood leaders were playing with fire and they were not skilled and would engage the country in a hell where no one may survive. Yet, the followers of the group continued to threaten and bluster menaces to the Egyptians indicating that: Either accept the status quo, or enter into violence that would not stop, which are very dangerous terms.
Instead of being a cause of retreat or fear, Egyptians have become angrier because they thought they were mistaken when they trusted people who were threatening their lives and stability; A thing only fitting for people who see themselves at a great distance that makes them a different entity, distinct and contradictory with the rest of society. The community exchanged the same feelings.
The unbalanced statements continue to link Dr. Morsi's return to power and the calm in the Sinai, the call for international intervention, and threatening Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as "the creator of the Taliban in Egypt,”. This means that these leaders see themselves as a dagger in the back of society, where it is supposed to respond to their demands, or to face internal violence and foreign intervention. This is exactly what the Fourth Generation wars contain. Egypt is not an open arena, and these statements move its owners and those who support it from the category of "political competition" to the "political crime" category.