Well, can we at least TRY?
Those given the awful task of combat must be able to act with the necessary savagery and purposefulness to destroy those acting as, or in direct support of, Islamic terrorists worldwide. In 2008, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Admiral Michael Mullen said, “We can’t kill our way to victory.” Ever since, many have parroted his words. But what if Admiral Mullen was wrong? The United States has been at war with radical Islamists four times longer than it was with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II. And those previous enemies were far more competent and aggressive than the terrorists. It is time to kill a lot more of them.
Okay, we’re off to one hell of a good start as far as I’m concerned. But there’s a problem right out of the gate here—a big one—and I suspect a good many if not most of you can already guess what it is.
In addition to the overabundance of ill-trained lawyers in the force, leaders are giving too much credence to people and organizations (such as Amnesty International) with distorted views of how wars ought to be fought rather than how they truly are. For instance, the concept of proportionality under international law has nothing to do with making war a “fair fight” or using “minimum force.” Sadly, however, such human rights law language has crept into U.S. military standing rules of engagement (SROE), despite warnings from sage counsel such as international and operational law expert W. Hays Parks.
In the mid-1990s, a small cadre of combat-experienced officers began to militate against overly restrictive rules of engagement and tactical directives. They advocated that if U.S. military forces must fight in such environments these warriors should at least have the same protections that U.S. constitutional law provides police officers in the United States. This still has not happened. Sixteen years and thousands of U.S. military lives have been lost, and the military still is plagued with obtuse rules of engagement and soul-crushing investigations into every action.
While the United States may not be following the full-on nation-centric strategy of Alfred Thayer Mahan to fight terrorists today, it ought to use the military primarily to forward its national interests. And that ought not be a strange or unsavory concept to any U.S. warrior or citizen.
The military’s leadership has a responsibility to push back hard when told to do anything that would dilute the fundamental responsibility to win wars. For the past two decades, the U.S. military has put more effort into combating climate change and training to prevent sexual harassment than it has into training warriors to kill the enemy.
I wrote a post the other day lamenting the sad state of the “most powerful military in the world,” which Aesop responded to at length in the comments. It’s worth examining the arguments he makes out front here a bit, I think:
We now have an army and navy nearly as small as what we had on hand around the Great Depression.
And the armed might we wielded as recently as 1990 was barely a patch on the machine we dismantled in 1946, after doing the heavy lifting to win two world wars.
That’s what happens when you cut defense spending precipitously, plow the money into stock bubbles, housing welfare, etc., and in the process crash the economy hard twice.
And between the two bubbles, we squandered a serviceable but barely adequate military on adventurism and asinine you-break-it, you-bought-it “nation building” in two of the most illiterate and utterly worthless sh*tholes on the face of the earth. We traded a family cow’s worth of military power for the magic beans of Middle Eastern democracy, and we don’t even have a beanstalk to show for it afterwards. Just a dead giant.
But we burned out the troops, burned up their airplanes, wore out their weapons, and mothballed our rusted navy, because affirmative-action generals like Colon Powell never read Alfred Thayer Mahan.
What you see now is what happens when you entrust leadership to idiots, in an organization dedicated to the Peter Principle as a promotion tool.
Militaries cost money and brains, and both Congress and the Pentagon have been short on both for decades. And there’s no easy fix for that, either place.
This is all perfectly true, sure enough. But it seems to me that the biggest problem of all is the American people, or all too many of them at least. They seem to lack the will to commit to backing their military forces all the way to complete victory; they’re soft, coddled, and insulated from the realities not just of war, but of military service itself. The concept of what victory in war might even amount to is foreign to them, and it’s near certain that the sacrifice, the real price, of victory is too.
In fact, most Americans are almost completely isolated from their military, from the soldiers themselves; a historically low percentage of the populace is personally acquainted with someone in uniform, or even with someone else who is. The idea of putting on a uniform and picking up a rifle for a hitch in service themselves seems wholly alien to them, and ludicrous. One might as well suggest that they grow gills and flippers and swim the Atlantic without coming up for air. Y’know, tomorrow morning.
As has been pointed out here before by other commenters, this state of affairs goes beyond lamentable and crosses handily over into being outright dangerous. Naturally, it’s not true of everyone; I suspect that this alienation is most prevalent by far in the big-city enclaves of the Left, and the college campuses that breed and nurture Progressivist drones by the thousands. I’d guess it would be a lot less so out in the great heartland of the country, the South generally, and the towns surrounding military bases. Such locales generally have a great respect and a high regard for their soldiery, and became far less circumspect about expressing those sympathies openly once 9/11 sort of granted permission to harbor them again.
All of which indirectly brings me to the problem I mentioned up top, which is with this statement: “…destroy those acting as, or in direct support of, Islamic terrorists worldwide.” That’s fine as far as it goes, and would amount to at least a good start if nothing more. But what of the millions upon millions of Moslems who are supportive of jihad without openly declaring it; who believe in the supremacy of sharia law, but who aren’t necessarily willing to commit acts of terrorism or offer material support themselves beyond, say, financial contributions to their local “moderate” mosque, from whence the money make its circuitous way into the hands of the jihadists who depend on it?
These are the “moderates” touted endlessly by our media and politicians, but according to poll after poll after poll, their beliefs aren’t anything most of us would label “moderate.” While they may not constitute a clear majority of Moslem “immigrants” just yet, they are nonetheless legion. And they have deliberately been seeded throughout the West in unsuspecting communities who are carefully kept in the dark as to the nature of their beliefs and activities, and are oblivious to the threat posed by them.
None of which even begins to address the additional problem of “refugees” from the Middle East, who ain’t necessarily coming because they dig them some freedom, tolerance, and democracy, bub (been a good, long while since I saw any of that “Democracy, whiskey, sexy!” signage being waved around by anybody at all, I’ll say that much). We aren’t told how many of them there are; that’s something our rulers don’t think we ought to know. It’s doubtful anybody, in government or out, knows where they all wind up. The government is probably way more meticulous about tracking YOUR whereabouts than they are theirs.
So considering all that, how much chance do you think there is of our ever making effective war on Moslem terrorism, and of truly winning such a war? How would we even go about such a thing? The ideas presented in the first linked piece above are good ones; I’m wholeheartedly in favor of all of ’em, and plenty more besides. But I bet Hell will freeze over good and damned solid before we ever see a one of ’em done.