An alternative title to this post could be: A tale of two military philosophies, “No substitute for victory” versus “Victory is not an option.”
Two recent articles, both available online highlight this very different approach to the war being waged upon the West by militant Islam. The first is by John Lewis, history professor at Ashland University, in the latest edition of The Objective Standard, “No Substitute for Victory: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism.”
The second article is by the well-known author of military history and affairs who is also a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, Max Boot. Boot’s article is “The Paradox of Military Technology”
and appears in The New Atlantis magazine.
The paradox that Boot refers to is the fact that America’s overwhelming military might, partially based upon cutting-edge technology, does not secure the nation from terrorists utilizing “asymmetrical warfare.” This observation is so common place as to be banal. Boot does acknowledge the importance of the human element in the use of technology:
It is not only U.S. hardware that’s hard to replicate; so is the all-volunteer force that makes it work. Operating high-tech military equipment requires long-service professionals, not short-term conscripts. Countries as diverse as Vietnam, China, Germany, and Russia are emulating the Anglo-American model by downsizing their forces and relying less on draftees; many other nations have abolished the draft altogether. The U.S. military’s edge lies not simply in recruiting high-quality personnel but in its methods for training and organizing them. Initiatives undertaken in earlier decades, such as setting up realistic training centers to simulate combat conditions and forcing the services to work more closely together (the Goldwater-Nichols Act), continue to bear fruit. Few other armed forces have made comparable reforms.
The major portion of his article is an interesting discussion describing America’s military dominance. Given America’s military might, Boot argues that no state will challenge her in a conventional war in the foreseeable future.
Boot then moves on to the dangers Americans face from terrorism. He acknowledges that the terrorists have state support. Boot then recounts the numerous ways in which the United States is vulnerable to such attacks. The concluding section is chillingly titled “American Hiroshima?” “There is little in theory to prevent al Qaeda from carrying out its oft-expressed desire to create an ‘American Hiroshima.’”
Boot’s recommendation for dealing with this threat is for Americans to adapt a siege mentality. Wars have never been won with metal detectors and explosive smelling dogs. Boot, on some level, realizes this by a concluding remark, “Changing the culture and structure of our armed forces—to say nothing of the CIA or State Department—is far more daunting task than simply figuring out which weapons systems to buy.” This statement is true as far as it goes. It just does not go nearly far enough. The problem is not with the military. The problem is a military operating without a strategy or shred of political leadership. In a previous sentence in the same paragraph Boot identifies the problem and that he is part of it:
And the combination of moral restraint and bureaucratic sluggishness that defines America’s military culture may leave the U.S. at a comparative disadvantage against nimble, networked, nihilistic enemies like al Qaeda, who will deploy whatever weapons they have with urgent brutality [emphasis added].
There is nothing moral about the current state of affairs when restraint in the use of America’s overwhelming military strength results in the enormous potential for an “American Hiroshima.”
A wise old soldier once wrote on the topic of the maximum use of military force. He had this to say:
Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat an enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: war is such a dangerous business that the mistakes which come from kindness are the very worst. The maximum use of force is in no way incomparable with the simultaneous use of the intellect. If one side uses force without compunction, undeterred by the bloodshed it involves, while the other side refrains, the first will gain the upper hand. [Carl von Clausewitz. On War (Peter Paret and Michael Howard, trans. & eds.) Princeton University Press, 1989. Pp. 75-6]
This quote, of course, describes the situation we are in today. I would only change “kindness” with the word “altruism.” It is not “kindness” to risk the lives of millions of Americans in order to avoid the bloodshed that will be required to defeat the Jihad barbarians. This is an example of the nation’s leadership sacrificing our interests, security and freedom in order to appease savages.
There is no better example of the feckless appeasement of America’s leaders than the just released findings of the “Iraq Panel.”
For starters notice it is not the “Defeat Jihad” panel. More accurately it should have been titled the “Dhimmi Surrender Panel.” The panel’s recommendations are to sell-out an ally, Israel, and to appease a sworn enemy, Iran. This is the same Iran whose Holocaust denying
president just today announced
that the civilized West must embrace Allah or "vanish from the face of the earth". The president of a puny, backwards country feels secure enough to taunt the greatest military power in human history "They are angry with our nation. But we tell them 'so be it and die from this anger'. Rest assured that if you do not respond to the divine call, you will die soon and vanish from the face of the earth." The end result of the practical politics of the pragmatists of the panel will be a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv and New York.
John Lewis in his article provides a refreshingly sharp contrast to the disgusting events of the day. He cogently makes the case for eliminating the threat posed by Iran. He reminds those Americans who have not lost their ability to connect cause and effect due to the philosophy of pragmatism that the United States has been in a state of war with Iran since November 1979, by their own statements and actions:
The Iranian Islamic State was born in an act of war against America—the seizure of the American embassy in 1979—and has chanted “Death to America” ever since. Even Muslims at odds with Iran for sectarian reasons, such as many followers of Osama Bin Laden, draw inspiration from it as they engage in their own jihads against the West. Bin Laden’s most important effect in this regard has been to energize and empower radical Muslims to rise above the petty squabbles between Persian and Arab, and between Sunni and Shiite, to join Iran against the “Great Satan”: America. Hezbollah, Hamas, and company are dependent on Iran for ideological, political, and economic strength. It is Iran that addresses the U.N. as a world leader; it is Iran that is openly committed to acquiring the weapons needed to take control of the Middle East; it is Iran that poses as the defender of Muslims against the West (for instance, through loyal clerics in Iraq); and it is Iran that has gained power since the U.S. removed its strongest regional opponent in Iraq.”
Lewis makes clear that the problem is not that America lacks the right type of military to fight guerillas, but of political leadership and will. The endless negotiation with an enemy sworn to our destruction makes that fact painfully clear. Personally, I had thought the deposing of Saddam in 2003 as a good idea. I did not consider the ending of Saddam’s regime good in order to provide the military with the endless altruistic task of state building. Instead the United States could have acquired bases in Iraq not dependant on the goodwill of regional “allies.” With such bases Iran could have been assailed from three directions Iraq, Afghanistan and the sea. An attack using such concentric lines would have spelled a quick end to that loathsome regime.
Based on its philosophy of pragmatism and altruism our strategy-less administration went on to break the rules of the proper employment of military forces. According to our old soldier the two basic principles of strategy are:
The first principle is that the ultimate substance of enemy strength must be traced back to the fewest possible sources, and ideally to one alone. The attack on these sources must be compressed into the fewest possible actions…In short the first principle is: to act with the utmost concentration.
The second principle is: act with the utmost speed. No halt or detour must be permitted without good cause...Any unnecessary expenditure of time, every unnecessary detour, is a waste of strength and thus abhorrent to strategic thought. It is still more important to remember that almost the only advantage of the attack rests on its initial surprise. Speed and impetus are its strongest elements and are usually indispensable if we are to defeat the enemy. Thus theory demands the shortest roads to the goal. Endless discussions about moving left or right, doing this or that, are otiose. [Clausewitz pp. 617 & 624]
It goes without saying that America’s current drift of appeasement, “state-building,” creating a garrison state of metal detectors and whacking various moles violates the cardinal principles of military strategy. Assuming, victory is the sought after goal.
Crossposted at The Dougout