I would be equally happy if we could just say the looking back from the present, Clauswitz is "unable to satisfy the rigour of analytical philosophy or modern scientific methodology and ends up with a work in which is far from scientific in a modern sense."
I agree that the term post-modern is a best confusing and that is far better to state simply that from a present point of view his work doesn't meet the "present" criterias of the social sciences.
The first minor point addresses an error of mine, as I wrote 4 million citizien
instead of resident
. The second minor one excaberates in conjunction with the key characterstic of a very shallow available and relative
pool of manpower.
The point on the percentage spent on defense is a very enlighting one.
A Grand Strategy for Singapore
Given the inherent complexity of the geopolitical landscape of SE-Asia this can only be very limited, very sketchy and perishable interpretation of what a effective grand strategy of Singapore might look like.
The key characteristics of Singapore are:
- wealthy, indipendent city-state with a population of roughly 4 mill. residents
- heavily urbanized tiny peninsular/island
- key economic and financial hub of SE-Asia and of the international trade
The strategic dimensions
This inherent characteristics combined with those of neighbouring nations shape the strategic dimensions of the state:
a) a general lack of strategic depth, absolute and relative to its immediate neighbours
b) an easily disruptable economy with immediate dire consequences
c) a relative shallow pool of directly available manpower and ressources
d) a relative high wealth and a high education and technological level
e) a stabile democracy and a efficient state
Note: To a certain extent the position of Athen, especially in the Poleponnesian Wars showed similar characteristics.
I will analyse the points one by one:
a) The relative strategic depth
The strategic depth is overall shallow but varies according to the origin and form of the threat considerably. I use the word strategic depth in a broad way to analyse/describe to which degree the geopolitical scape influences the ability of an external state/actor to achieve a decisive victory.
(I) Against Malaysia the SD on land is very, very limited. The channel offers an excellent defensive line though. Every inch of Singapore's territory is in possible artillery and SAM reach. However even while Malaysia has far greater SD it's ability to supply itself over land with the ressources needed for war are very limited and depend on Thailand.
Same goes for the SD of air and sea against the main peninsula, while it is good against the Malayisan part situated on the island. Malaysia is unable to sustain war with its domestic production and ressources expect food and water and trades over the sea. All this routes and the necessary facilities of trade might be endangered by a superior navy and airforce.
(II) SD against Indonesia
(III) SD against the PRC
b) An easily disruptable economy
The deep reliance on external trade for the most basic of goods and for comparable wealth of the city-state of Singapore combined with the shallow strategic depth make it potentially very suscitable to an external attempts to disrupt,severe or block this flow by sea, land and air. The means to do so are many and far from only achievable with military forms.
However the importance of state as a trade hub and its strategic position increase also the importance of its peaceful existence in the eyes of those interested in free, open and undisturbed trade, transforming this intrinisc weakness into an important pillar of strenght. Out of necessity political, economical and military support are indirectly or directly even present at times of peace. It is quite probable that an external aggressor might have to face the economic and/or military power of various other actors of this region, among those the USA.
c) A shallow pool of manpower
The low number of citizien and the low reproduction make the available pool of manpower very shallow relative to most states in the region. A conflict relative close to the ideal of an absolute war against the most states in the region is unwinnable in the long run.
d) A high level of education and technological know-how
This allows Singapore to operate (and partly to develop) cutting-edge military hardware in an efficient and effective way and to integrate conscripts/reservists even into demanding roles with relative ease and speed-
It creates also closer bonds with regional and international partners due to habitual cooperation.
e) A efficient democracy
A highly functional and efficient state is able to manage complex tasks and concentrate his forces on objects of his choosing. This holds true for the entire spectrum of services offered by the state to his citizien and residents.
Synthesis - A tentative approach of an grand strategy
So how could one look like?
The Politik of the Grand Strategy
The deep non-aligned military, political and economical cooperation with both "solid" and cooperation in differing forms with "difficult" partners.
(i) Making Singpore irreplacable for the wider net of "solid" partners and "difficult" partners alike.
This means strenghening the already existing and mentioned strenghts of this state. A "neutral" fabric which keeps the web of commerce and finance togheter might be for some an attractive prize to win, but it is also for many more a terrible knot to loose. This investments may be the most fruitful and efficient in the long term.
(ii) Inform international partners about the importance of the sorrounding tradeflow in general and of city-state in spefic and try to influence the perceptions of their institutions and policy-makers
. This can be done in a great many ways and is IMHO a very cost-effective way to vastly increase the "strategic depth" of the state.
(iii) Cooperate closely with the regional partners to increase the security of the tradeflow and the economic and political freedom
. There will be much friction and disaccord as Singapore is widely seen as the great profiteer, but it must be undertaken to decrease the chances of low-level and limited attemps to harass and disrupt the lifelines of Singapore.
(iv) Inform and influence the perceptions of the surrounding populations
and decision makers in your favor by acting as a helping hand in times of crisis for te former and by offering excellent non-binding treatment to the latter
The Military in the Grand Strategy
b) A solid military force with the capability to dominate/negate the vital sea lanes and airspace and to defeat immediate threads with rapidly mobilized and modern joint armed forces
(i) A large number of military trained citiziens
which can be integrated in times of crisis rapidly to form a relative large and effecitve fighting force. This allows for the effective concentration of force in time and space to defend the small territory of Singapore, see Clausewitz (Chapter 8, Superiority in numbers):
"Much more frequently the relative superiority—that is, the skilful assemblage of superior forces at the decisive point—has its foundation in the right appreciation of those points, in the judicious direction which by that means has been given to the forces from the very first, and in the resolution required to sacrifice the unimportant to the advantage of the important—that is, to keep the forces concentrated in an overpowering mass. In this, Frederick the Great and Buonaparte are particularly characteristic." 1
(ii) Relative limited manpower and relative high wealth mean that the armed forces will have to rely to a great extent on expensive technology, organisation and training
to achieve an efficient military force. A high amount of the "Vernichtungsprinzip" (firepower) in combination with the "Bewegungsprizip" (mobility) has all major conflict been able to ease the need for manpower up to a certain extent.Modern, highly mechanized and networked armed forces with overwhelming firepower are even with relative few men fearsome opponents. This raises the stakes greatly for any potential invader. 2
(iii) A powerful navy and a powerful airforce
are able to greatly harrass, disrupt and block the ability of opposing states to operate efficiently, more so in the spefic geopolitical environment of SE Asia. The great importance of trade for the funcition of almost any industrial or even semi-industrial nation is well known. A large number of relative soft targets is needed to allow a modern economy to operate and to sustain the war effort.
(iv) A powerful navy and airforce are also capable to make an sustainable invasion by almost all nations almost impossible
and keep the trade routes, the lifelines of Singapore under most conditions open. They are also able to assist the armed forces in limited and rapid offensive actions.
(v) The ability to deliver "surgical" strikes
on a large scale and to defend itself against sustained air,land and sea attacks by firepower
is of great political importance in a limited conflict as it may allow Singapore to contain limited attacks by external forces without being forced to large land offensives. This is especially important because the all of the tiny surface of the island might be under some condition in artillery or bombing range. A effective, yet limited response increases the chances of goodwill and support by parters and allies.
1. It is of course only a part of the whole, even if a very important one. He continues:
"We think we have now allotted to the superiority in numbers the importance which belongs to it; it is to be regarded as the fundamental idea, always to be aimed at before all and as far as possible.
But to regard it on this account as a necessary condition of victory, would be a complete misconception of our exposition; in the conclusion to be drawn from it there lies much rather nothing more than the value which should attach to numerical strength in the combat. If that strength is made as great as possible, then the maxim is satisfied; a review of the total relations must then decide whether or not the combat is to be avoided for want of sufficient force."
2. See also the following, the concept of which is IMHO timeless (Book V, The relation of the three arms) "Now, if the combination of the three gives the greatest strength, it is natural to inquire what is the best absolute proportion of each, but that is a question which it is almost impossible to answer.
If we could form a comparative estimate of the cost of organising in the first instance, and then provisioning and maintaining each of the three arms, and then again of the relative amount of service rendered by each in war, we should obtain a definite result which would give the best proportion in the abstract. But this is little more than a play of the imagination. The very first term in the comparison is difficult to determine, that is to say, one of the factors, the cost in money, is not difficult to find; but another, the value of men's lives, is a computation which no one would readily try to solve by figures.
Also the circumstance that each of the three arms chiefly depends on a different element of strength in the state—Infantry on the number of the male population, cavalry on the number of horses, artillery on available financial means—introduces into the calculation some heterogeneous conditions, the overruling influence of which may be plainly observed in the great outlines of the history of different people at various periods.
As, however, for other reasons we cannot altogether dispense with some standard of comparison, therefore, in place of the whole of the first term of the comparison we must take only that one of its factors which can be ascertained, namely, the cost in money. Now on this point it is sufficient for our purpose to assume that, in general, a squadron of 150 horsemen, a battalion of infantry 800 strong, a battery of artillery consisting of 8 six-pounders, cost nearly the same, both as respects the expense of formation and of maintenance.
Form the same chapter:
"On the other hand, the nature of a war may have a notable influence on the proportions of the three arms.
First, a national war, kept up by militia and a general levy (Landsturm), must naturally bring into the field a very numerous infantry; for in such wars there is a greater want of the means of equipment than of men, and as the equipment consequently is confined to what is indisputably necessary, we may easily imagine, that for every battery of eight pieces, not only one, but two or three battalions might be raised.
Second, if a weak state opposed to a powerful one cannot take refuge in a general call of the male population to regular military service, or in a militia system resembling it, then the increase of its artillery is certainly the shortest way of bringing up its weak army nearer to an equality with that of the enemy, for it saves men, and intensifies the essential principle of military force, that is, the destructive principle. Any way, such a state will mostly be confined to a limited theatre, and therefore this arm will be better suited to it. Frederick the Great adopted this means in the later period of the Seven Years' War."
@OPSSG: I would once again welcome your criticism.