Recent US Political and Military History and the War on Terror

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War on Terror: I think Scrappleface sums it up completely:

Bush Pushes Funding of 'Fear Gene' Research

by Scott Ott

(2005-11-18) -- Reacting quickly to new a study, published in the journal Cell, that shows timid mice can be made bold by removal of a single gene, President George Bush today urged Congress to provide $10 billion of immediate funding for the research "for the benefit of America's fearful rodents."

During a week in which Senate Republicans approved a bill on the Iraq war that was written largely by Democrats, and House Republicans defeated their own budget bill, Mr. Bush said, "It breaks my heart to think of those little mice as they cower in the corner with their whiskers twitching as they read the polling data."

The president acknowledged that the $10 billion for the 'fear gene' research is "a big chunk of change," but he justified the spending as a short-term measure that would be paid back ten-fold if the therapy works beyond mice.

I know. It's supposed to be satire.

Makes me want to repost a link to this Vodkapundit article.

I wonder if we have gotten so lost in our own concerns that we no longer have the ability to wage a war.

My copy of "Art of War" is in storage currently, but here is a link to an online version.

Sun Tzu is not some arcane figure from the annals of military history, like say, Hasdrubal Barca, whose miserable failure in Spain may have been the reason why his brother Hannibal was never able to lead Carthaginian forces to conquer Rome. Sun Tzu is the rough equivalent of Archimedes for scientists. This is basic, "hit the baseball with the bat" level stuff. His work is so pivotal, so important to everyone who came later, that Project Gutenberg has five different translations. Knowing Sun Tzu alone will not win you battles against modern foes with knowledge of those who have built on Sun Tzu's work.

But if you've forgotten (or don't apply) Sun Tzu's lessons, then you are doomed.

It's kind of like forgetting that 2+2=4 when you're doing calculus. Forget the building blocks that enable you to compute the correct answer, and the problem falls apart, disastrously.

The single most important lesson of this work, the earliest basic text on which all military science is based, is the lesson of effective warfare. In the original work, if you're not careful you will read past this very short passage without noticing that it is even important, much less how important it is. "Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

This has been expanded greatly in the 2500 years since. Judging by the entire long, sorry history of warfare, the one sentence that I can come up with that best distills this point is that "A war or a battle is lost when the will to fight it is broken." Not until. No matter how hopeless it looks, so long as the will to fight is there, there is hope.

Lose it, and your cause is dead.

It may flop around for a while, doing a huge amount of damage, spewing blood everywhere, and generally leaving wreckage in its wake, all to no good purpose because it's already dead.

The corollary is that so long as you have the will to fight, there is hope. A lot of hope, if you look at the history of such figures as the Dutch struggle for independence, the Swiss struggle for independence, and our own Revolution. Each of them was greatly outnumbered, out-equipped, and even out-generaled in most instances. They won when the opposition lost the will to contest the issue. So long as you have one person willing to continue the fight, you are "in the game."

History is replete with superior armies, winning armies, defeated because they lost the will to continue. From battles at Cannae and Hastings to entire wars, the struggle is lost when the will to fight is lost.

On historical battlefields, and in historical wars, after this point is where the real carnage begins. However bad it gets, however horrible the casualties before the losers collapse, they usually become an order of magnitude worse afterwards. Roman casualties before the troops panicked at Cannae weren't large. If they had instead of panicking managed to hold cohesion they could have aborted the majority of the Second Punic War right there by breaking Hannibal instead of him breaking them. The well-documented barbarities of the combatants upon the populace in Thirty Years War in Germany, the whole history of the Russian front in World War II, and countless other conflicts are more historical norm than anomaly, and had far longer casualty lists that the battles themselves.

The struggle we are fighting now is no different. Our opponent is not constrained by, indeed, makes no pretense that they are constrained by any consideration of "civilized warfare." They have told us repeatedly, by their actions, that they do not consider civilian targets to be "off limits," indeed, their attacks on civilians, and the number of civilian casualties, greatly outnumber their attacks upon our military and our military casualties.

Furthermore, they have told us repeatedly exactly what their strategic goals are: nothing short of the annihilation of our society and way of life as it exists. This is understandable, as our civilization's great memes are in direct conflict with theirs. Evolving wisdom as opposed to revealed historical wisdom. Individual freedom of religion as opposed to enforced submission to the rule of one particular religion. However recently and imperfectly we may have come to it, respect for women and minorities of all sorts, and participation in our ruling bodies, versus subjugation of women to men, subjugation of others to the dominant religion, heavy ongoing penalties for those outside the favored class of the ruling religion.

That western civilization has wronged islamic civilization is true, and yet so utterly misses the point as to be non-germane to the struggle. Both the chinese and russian empires (for that is what they are) have oppressed and wronged the islamic civilizations far worse than we; the islamics have not declared jihad towards them. Nor have all of the wrongs been unidirectional, indeed the far greater weight of wrong lies in what islamic civilization has done to western. They did not spring up as a major world religion in less than a century, dominating the world from the Pyrenees south through Africa and into Central Asia, from the Carpathians to Indonesia, by peaceful conversion. The Byzantine Empire did not fall to, and Eastern and Central Europe did not quiver under fear of Turkish missionaries for four centuries. Lepanto, and Cyprus, and Malta were not battles fought by ravening Christian hordes against randomly wandering peaceful preachers bound to spread the word of the love of Allah. All of these territories were won by islamic "missionaries" at the point of a sword. All of these battles were waged, at islamic insistence, with sword and gunpowder rather than sweet reason and exhortation, and had western civilization not fought them and won, the world would be a much poorer place than it is today. The very notion of "I disagree with everything you say, but will defend your right to say it," is not only completely alien, but anathema to them. The notion that observable reality trumps interpretation of scripture, however difficult it was to wring from the Catholic Church (among others), is now well established in Christian doctrine, Judaic doctrine, and every other world religion. The official position of Islam remains that if Mohammed said it, it must be true, and any representation with implications to the contrary must be heresy and therefore punished.

I do not fool myself that I can live with allowing the islamic civilization to win this war. They would demand our society make changes that I could not live with. I have two daughters and a wife I love; what the requirements of the society the islamicists would impose upon them I will die before I allow them to take place.

Nonetheless, there are those in our society who cannot abide or agree with any of the reasons that mandate this war, which has been going on since at least 1978 and possibly as far back as the 1930s. That we in the United States did not widely recognize it as a war until our faces were rubbed in it on September 11, 2001 in no alters the fact that this conflict is far older than that. But whether these people cannot believe any war is necessary, whether they would rather lose than fight any war, that they cannot believe this war is necessary, or if they simply wish to remove the political opposition from power and opposing this war is one obvious way to do that, they name themselves as allied to the enemy.

Lest I be misinterpreted, I am not claiming treason in general and I am not naming them traitors in aggregate, although there are certainly those in this country who have crossed that line into treason. But they are nonetheless useful to our enemies, and therefore, allies of our enemies in this war. There are even those who would rather be thought of as allied to the enemy than supportive of our own efforts in this war, and I do not call them traitor. You see, they are protected by our societal meme of political free speech, and where every other nation in the history of the world would name them traitor and expel them or more likely execute them, here they are protected, and rightly so, by this meme.

This does not mean that they are not exploiting this meme against us, the very civilization of which they are, theoretically and legally if not factually or emotionally, members.

Some day, we may have a perfect world of love and peace and rationality, but I really doubt it. We definitely are not there yet. Responses and actions that, no matter how noble their motives, do not consider real world constraints are foolish at best, contemptible at worse. Gandhi's methods of resistance to the British freed India because the British saw themselves as civilized people with a deeply engrained sense of limits upon the power and ability of the state to use force. Had India been a German possession, he would have been hanged or given a bullet to the back of the head before anything noteworthy happened, and gone down in history as a figure of derision such as Peter The Hermit (Additional article here). Had India been still in Mogul hands at the time, not only Mohandas K and his followers would have been executed, but likely their families and a large number of innocent bystanders to make certain of the lesson. Lest you have any doubts, our enemies in the War on Terror are, if anything, less civilized and constrained by their conscience than the Germans; perhaps less so than the Moguls. That they have failed to kill every Jew in the Middle East is more a measure of Israeli competence and determination than any moral constraint that our mutual enemies place themselves under.

Despite all of this, there are those who, for whatever reason, would rather the United States lost the current struggle. This is partly a measure of how long it has been since we really lost a war or had it fought on our own territory; not since the Civil War has any large swath of the country seen military action or the consequences of losing a war. They are immense, and if you're not familiar with them, I suggest you do some research. Within the last century, France during and after both World Wars, Russia and Poland and Japan and Italy and most especially Germany have all been devastated. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire are defunct because of the First World War. This one would likely be worse than either of those; this is a religious war, at least from the opposition viewpoint. They see themselves as Holy Warriors, sacred in the eyes of God because they are working towards the advancement of their religion. The christian conquistadores and other colonizers of the rest of the globe labored under greater constraints than these.

Despite our impressive military success and work towards democracy in Iraq, we are under daily assault from those working on behalf of our enemies. These assaults have the intent of breaking our will to fight, and not all of them use bullets or explosives. By far the worst, and most effective of them, are undertaken by people who are theoretically and legally members of our own civilization that would have us lose this war.

Thus far, I have observed three categories of those opposing the Iraq War.

The first is those who are opposed to any war, any violence, ever. They can be told by the things such as candlelight vigils before the war, and lines such as "All we are saying is give peace a chance." Well, you are entitled to your opinion and your viewpoint is worthy of a certain respect, but peace was given at least fifty chances over the twelve years between Gulf War I and Gulf War II. At some point, those of us who live in the real world where there are real Wolves circling about the edges of civilization looking for the chance to swoop in and gather some sheep for the slaughter are going to simply ignore you because your assertions do not match observable reality. I admire Gandhi and Martin Luther King greatly, without Dr. King in particular it is my opinion that we would have had a second civil war. Nonetheless their famous mode of response will not serve where the opponents are not themselves civilized.

The second is those who have always been opposed to this war in particular, as opposed to any war. They think it is possible, even likely that some war is justified, but not this one. They may even point to one specific example, so long as it is sufficiently far in the past. World War II is their usual example. They have always been against the war in Iraq, on the eve of it they were doing the same sorts of things as those in first category. They claim Iraq was not threatening us, unfortunately for their point of view neither was Germany at the point we went to war with them. In fact, Hitler was trying to do everything he reasonably could to keep the United States out of the war, ignoring many American actions that would have constituted a valid causus belli, and he quite likely regretted his alliance with Japan from the moment he got the news of Pearl Harbor onwards for the rest of his life. Churchill summed it up perfectly when, upon hearing word of Pearl Harbor, he exclaimed, "The War is Won!" Our role against Germany in World War II was entirely offensive, they staged not one single attack against the laws of war prior to the declaration of war; unlike Iraq, they did not even provide assistance or bases or training or money for such. They staged precisely zero attacks upon United States territory or possessions for the duration of the war. The only thing that war against Germany had going for it that war against Iraq does not is the Germans underlying almost frightening level of competence, driven by the Prussian war machine with its tradition and evolving doctrine that went back at least to Frederick the Great. Not for nothing was Von Clausewitz Prussian. After the Prussians had their metaphorical butts kicked all over europe by a Corsican Colenel for twenty years, as soon as they had a spare moment they sat down and analyzed what had gone wrong and figured out how to fix it. The Iraqi machine, by contrast, rose on its best days to the level of bumbling bozo. The men were brave enough and reasonably well equipped, but most of those leading them and ordering them were worse than a waste of space. Also, given the anti-western intellectual climate in many places, it doesn't hurt the publicity angle that the Germans were considered members of western civilization while the Iraqis are not. Note that this makes essentially no difference factually, it is a difference in perception only. The mental label you apply to gravity makes no difference to the fact that it remains within a fraction of a percent of 9.81 meters per second squared everywhere upon the surface of earth.

The third categry I observe is those that have either forgotten or choose to ignore the extensive case that was made against the war. These people are recognized by their adherence to and repetition of the "Bush lied!" meme. These people are worthy of no respect. The vote to authorize force was bipartisan and a majority of democrats joined in no matter their subsequent revisionism. It listed sixteen separate reasons for the war and the truth of fifteen have been established beyond dispute. The final claim, of "Weapons of Mass Destruction," is subject to significant dispute, but that does not invalidate or in any way lessen the truth of the other fifteen. You cannot fight fifteen sixteenths of a war. You're either in for the whole thing, or you are better off not fighting at all. Furthermore, there is significant evidence that Iraq was working on WMDs, as well as more evidence that they might have gotten some such devices well enough hidden not to be found or even over the border into Syria and the custody of their fellow Ba'athists. We gave them the better part of a year to hide them. Given that long for them to hide the damned things, the amazing thing thing would have been if we actually found any. The strongest claim that may stand up under scrutiny is that the Iraqi Ba'athists were not as far along as we thought they were.

The fact is, our president did not lie. Members of both political parties here in the United States had been making the same claim based upon the same intelligence for the better part of a decade. Every major foreign intelligence body in the world believed that the president's assertion about Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction to be fact. The president's claim was based upon this intelligence, which predated 9/11/01 by several years, and it is a matter of undisputed fact that Iraq had, in point of fact, deployed chemical weapons upon their own citizens. The pre-existing intelligence of Iraqi weaponry was not based upon this later claim. Public reports of the intelligence go back further than George W. Bush even declaring that he was running for President, and the left's sainted Clinton duo both made repeated claims on precisely this point, a fact that Bill Clinton has decided to conveniently and politically forget. To be quite frank, those in this category are political opponents of the president hoping to capitalize upon collective amnesia and encouraged by the fact that through long dedication their adherents hold control of our largest aggregators of collective memory, the legacy media. They are, at best, fairweather friends who were trying then to take advantage of public sentiment for increased personal popularity. At worst, they are scum, lying for purposes of political opportunism. They are trading in the well being of us all in exchange for the hope of capturing power, much as the Ducases of Byzantium and with much the same results should they succeed (There are eerie parallels between the Ducases and the Kennedys, IMHO).

Nonetheless, the fact that we have nearly fallen prey to these people for the second time in living memory, when most registered voters still remember (whether they are happy with such memories or not) the consequences of following their siren song of surrender and defeat has caused me to stop and consider: Have we the capacity to wage any war of the future to its full conclusion?

Wars are not, in general, quick affairs of a few months and then over. If they are, then they are most likely part of a larger series of conflicts such as the British (and Portuguese, and French, and Dutch) saw in India from the time of their first involvement right up to independence, North-West Frontier Province was never pacified for five years in a row, and anti-european agitators were never entirely absent from even the major cities. If those major cities were nonetheless safer than cities in Iraqi's Sunni Triangle today, it is because the weapons the Indian insurgents had access to were much less powerful and the British - the civilized British who allowed Gandhi to win India's independence rather than lose their opinions of themselves as civilized human beings - had far fewer qualms and constraints upon their actions than we do today.

The War in Vietnam from lasted from at least 1952 to 1975. World War II in europe lasted, at minimum, from September 1939 to May 1945, over five and one-half years, and had Germany not been so exhausted at the end and in denial until Spring 1945 about whether they were losing the war, the Werewolf resistance would have been much longer and more effective than it was. We never signed an actual treaty ending the war in Korea, merely an armistice. The revolutionary war lasted from April 1775 to September 1783, almost eight and one half years.

In all recent wars of the United States, there have been those who are against the United States fighting, continuing to fight, or prosecuting the war to its proper extent. They begin as soon as any prospect of violence is in the public forum, they continue with unabated criticism, justified or not, until we either collectively admit that they were correct in their viewpoint by quitting the war, or the point becomes moot, as during Gulf War I. By their actions, they are consistently attempting nothing less than the undermining of our collective will to resist, making them, by clear application of Sun Tzu's work, enemies of the United States and traitors de facto although not, because of the incredibly wonderful nature of our society which explicitly defines this heinous crime more narrowly than any other nation in the history of the world, traitors de jure.

But the reason that the point becomes moot, as in Gulf War I, was that our leader at the time caused us to quit and walk away on his own hook, having been too much exposed himself to the Doubting Thomases of antiwar hysteria. And so, having made the investment in lives, treasure, material and alliances necessary towards solving the problem, he deliberately allowed it to remain a problem for another person, another day, another investment of lives and treasure and alliances more dearly bought because he betrayed many of the ones we had on that day. War is not, in general, over within 100 hours or even 100 days, not unless it's a war of a sort such as to utterly destroy the enemy with nuclear weapons or similar arsenal. I do not want our defense policy limited to "Nukes or nothing!", and if those who have opposed every war in the last fifty years thought about it, I'm certain most of them would agree. Nonetheless, this is the de facto goal they are driving our defense policy towards.

Perhaps they would have us fight only defensive wars. This ignores everything history has taught us. First, no purely defensive strategy has ever won a war. Not once. At most, it has played for time while other things happened in the background with the eventual hope of taking the war to the enemy and giving them a reason to stop the war. Purely defensive strategy is a 100 percent pure, guaranteed loser. Second, from a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, if a war must happen, far better it be fought elsewhere. If our country is largely undamaged, we can far more afford to rebuild the enemy, as we did in Germany, Japan, and Italy, than if the war is fought here. If it's fought here, it's certainly a possible indicator that we have already lost. If we lose and our opponent is victorious, evidence is strong that they will not help us rebuild, indeed "reparations" are the historical norm, and (to our eternal credit) we are the only country to have ever

not only forgone reparations but actually given our former enemies the means with which to rebuild stronger than ever. I believe the reparations this particular foe would demand would be heavy indeed. Certainly the evidence of their stated goals points in that direction.

If we must fight only purely defensive wars, better not to bother. No such war has ever been won. Better to honestly decide not to fight. That way we suffer no devastation beyond what our enemies would require be inflicted upon us as a condition of our defeat. That way, at least, we will not squander our treasure upon a military we have no intention of allowing to win any fight. At least this will allow our warriors to choose to join other countries who could profit from their efforts, and perhaps we could even acquire some geld with which to pay our modern day danes by selling off our miltary capabilities. Not that it will make any long term difference. But the more danegeld we start with, the longer before the collapse, translating to more time and opportunity to enable those of us not too far gone in denial to evacuate the country elsewhere before its inevitable conquest.

The alternative? Not really that different from today in fact, but a world of difference in tone. We must respond (in the aggregate) more definitely, more immediately, and more activly to those who would have us bare our civilization's throat to the barbarian knife. Luckily, while the defeatist controlled mainstream legacy media still has all of the advantages in the fight, there now exist not only those outside of the media, but even those media who are not controlled by the defeatists (Ironically enough, the most obvious of these, the media outlet most maligned and yet most loyal to the interests of our country, is currently foreign owned!). There is a whole Community of Milblogs, many of whom are eyewitness reporting from the front lines on what is actually going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the news is much different, not only in tone but in content, from what is seen in the legacy media, which is neither unbiased nor even competent in the main to report this story. I certainly cannot name an editor or reporter for any major legacy media with relevant combat or military experience. There are many websites, of which I particularly recommend Mudville Gazette, Austin Bay, Indepundit, Michael Yon, fellow Raging RINO Argghhh!, Blackfive, Froggy Ruminations, and ROFASix (who is retired). From these you can certainly find others who speak to something you understand.

But if you really love this country, appreciate everything she has done for this world (a long laundry list in her short history), and want it to continue to help the world be its best, informing yourself is not enough. You must also refuse to allow those who ally themselves with our country's enemies to control the discussion. Do not allow them to spread their lies, misinformation, and propaganda. They are counting upon the average citizen's unwillingness to confront them, the meme of tolerance that they have twisted to mean the silence of their opposition while they spout their poison - while they regularly turn around and censor the same opposition who allowed them to speak, heaping abuse and allegations of "insensitivity" and "offensive speech" and just plain sarcasm, but rarely debating the actual issues. They can talk, but we, their opposition, have the same right to decry the nudity of their ruling ideas as they do of ours. Indeed, that their emperors are more naked than ours ever thought about being is the root of their "insensitivity" and "offensive speech" memes. Once they allow their ideas, memes, and assumptions to come in for critical analysis based upon observable facts, their emperor is indisputably naked. It is not cruel to do this despite the fact that their feelings may be as hurt of those of a small child. Small children do not grow to being responsible adults without learning the intellectual tools of defending an idea based upon fact, not because they "really really want to believe in it." They certainly do not become adults without the capability of abandoning a closely held precious idea because it does not conform to observable reality.

This work is never done, never over, but it is necessary. It may not be at the soldier's level of "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance," but it is certainly a lesser part of the same equation. If you're not willing to pay it, then get the hell out of the way of those who are.

Gods of the Copybook Headings

The concluding stanzas:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

Rudyard Kipling, 1919.

(HT to Volokh Conspiracy for reminding me of the Kipling)

UPDATE: Minor editing correction by inserting words "do not" into paragraph beginning "The struggle we are fighting" where they had been accidentally deleted.

UPDATE II (12/6/2005): I've been reminded by artki that there was a group of eight German saboteurs that were landed upon our shores via U-Boat in 1942. This invalidates the line about "zero attacks upon our territory or possessions during the war" as there was at least this one, albeit after war was declared on both sides and combat was joined. I do not believe it makes material difference to the argument, but it must be acknowledged.


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» Carnival of the Vanities from Don Surber

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» Have We Lost Our Will To fight? from Just Some Poor Schmuck

Dan Melson at Searchlight Crusade has a wonderful post wondering if we have lost the capability of waging any war at all. Searchlight Crusade Recent US Political and Military History and the War on Terror The single most important lesson... Read More

» Will to Fight from JamulBlog

One of the best pro-war summaries I've seen yet... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on November 20, 2005 5:41 PM.

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