March 2, 2007
War conducted by half-measures is not war at all...it is a child’s game. And it is a game whose price the American people should refuse to pay.
As September 11th dragged into Afghanistan and Afghanistan dragged into Iraq, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been dispensing national security half-measures as casually as the educational system dispenses Ritalin...and with equally ineffective long-term results.
On September 22, 2001 I wrote an article that cautioned against a quick military response to 9-11. Needless to say, the article did not win me many friends in the Conservative community. BUT...history has proven it true.
My apprehension about a quick military response to 9-11 was a fear of half-measures by those making the decisions. Simply stated, I did not think that America understood the nature of terrorism nor would the country’s leadership (and intelligentsia) have the stomach to fight a real war.
I was afraid that American troops would be bogged down in an un-winnable quagmire similar to Viet Nam. Un-winnable not because our military couldn’t do the job but, sinfully, because our politicians and politically correct crowd wouldn’t let them.
I was afraid that brave American troops would land in harm’s way handcuffed by Byzantine rules of engagement which left them more afraid of their own JAG officers than they were of the enemy.
I was afraid that the end result of a “war” of half-measures would be the further emboldening of America’s enemies who view us as gutless chest-pounders.
In a 1998 interview with ABC's John Miller, bin Laden was direct in his contempt for American half-measures, “…our boys…realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled…After a few blows, it (America) rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers.”
One has to wonder that September 11th might have been a different day had the Clinton administration gotten off its knees and dealt with bin Laden in 1998 rather than worrying about Monica on her knees.
And, as history repeats itself, it was John Murtha who took the credit in 1998 for America’s terror nurturing half-measures…“Murtha said the U.S. had to no choice but to pull out now, explaining, There's no military solution.”
Maybe Murtha was then, as he is now, living in hopes of a wealthy retirement from his Arab friends.
Influential military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, said it best when he observed that, “For the conqueror the combat can never be finished too quickly, for the vanquished it can never last too long.”
Yet, almost every Democrat and many Republicans now find it very stylish to proclaim that “There’s no military solution”…“The only solution to the problems in Iraq is a political solution". It’s so convenient and easy for the leaders of the House and Senate to chant their “Political Solution” mantra while American troops are dying and world-wide terrorists grow bolder by the minute.
Von Clausewitz theorized that the intersection of political and military objectives as expressed by warfare fell into two choices, war to: (1) "…achieve limited aims" and (2) "disarm (the enemy)…to render (the enemy) politically helpless or militarily impotent.”
The “war” in Iraq is a conundrum because it presently has the limited aim of stabilizing the country into something “democratically” governable while, at the same time, disarming terrorism and rendering it impotent. Yet, a victory in Iraq would not necessarily render terrorism impotent…not unless that victory carried an unmistakable message…the message that America has the means and the will to destroy its enemies without hesitation or prejudice.
For those weak-sisters who so very much want a “political solution”, the “political solution” is war. Or as von Clausewitz phrased it, “The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes.”
Presently, the Beltway crowd is playing a game of make-believe. Let’s make believe that the Iraqi power brokers are children of the Enlightenment who are capable of establishing and maintaining a representative democracy. Let’s make believe that the tribal population of Iraq is also capable of participating in and supporting a representative democracy. Common sense says that it just ain’t so.
In December of 2006, when U.S. forces turned over control of the southern Najaf province to the Iraqis, this is a description of an Iraqi 4th of July celebration, “…as provincial and tribal leaders and dignitaries gathered in the dusty, blue bleachers of a soccer stadium for the handover ceremony…a small group of soldiers stepped forward with a live rabbit and tore it to pieces. The leader bit out the heart with a yell, then passed around the blood-soaked remains to his comrades, each of whom took a bite. The group also bit the heads off frogs… the soccer field…was…littered with fur and discarded frog legs.”
War conducted by half-measures emboldened: bin Laden to brazenly execute 9-11; the former Saddam to never take the U.S. seriously; terrorists to keep killing U.S. troops in Iraq in the certainty of victory through attrition; North Korea’s Kim Jong Il to keep playing the U.S. for a dupe; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to continue inching towards Armageddon; and even a nobody like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez to subvert America’s national interests at every turn.
After this past November’s elections, Nancy Pelosi remarked that, “…nowhere was the call for new direction more clear from the American people than in the war in Iraq.” It’s interesting that no major poll has ever been conducted that straight-out asked the American people if that “new direction” should be a first class ass-kicking or a de facto surrender.
America has two choices. Either it is business as usual and we ”rush out in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of our soldiers” or we fight a real war and set an example whose lesson will protect us for decades.
If this country has troops in harm’s way, it is the responsibility of our leadership to either truly support those troops and their mission with total conviction or get them the hell out now.
If America is intimidated out of Iraq or “stays the course” handcuffed by half-measures, it will only be the beginning of the end.