We just aren't going about this thing the right way. First, Our Leaders refuse even to name the enemy. It isn't a "war on terror" any more than the European theater of WWII was a "war on the blitzkrieg" or the recent Hezbollah-Israeli debacle was a "war on incoming missiles."
The war is against Islamic totalitarianism. The enemy has an identity, a name, a face; he is real, and while he is currently winning, it isn't because he is more capable; the reason he is so successful is because we have hobbled ourselves with a misguided view of how to conduct war. We act more as though it's a table game than a fight for survival, and the enemy takes full advantage of this fact.
The polls show that support for our effort in Iraq, initially very high, has slipped significantly. When we overthrew Saddam after just a few weeks, Bush's popularity was at an all-time high.
Now, though, "They" say we are losing our will to fight.
That just isn't true; we are very willing to fight. But something is obviously affecting us, because the polls are right; we are not nearly as supportive of the effort in Iraq as we were the day we helped pull down the statue of Saddam in the square.
We haven't all suddenly turned into wimps. What has happened is that we have lost all confidence that Our Leaders have any intention of winning - really winning.
In a famous experiment many years ago, rats were put in a large container of water from which there was no escape. They swam and swam, but eventually, they lost any hope that they would be able to get out, and one by one, they gave up and drowned. In identical container, other rats were treated differently; from time to time, each rat was lifted out of the water momentarily, and then put back.
These rats, the ones who had some hope of success, swam many hours longer than did the rats who had lost all hope, although they also became hopeless and eventually drowned.
The same thing is happening to us as happened to those poor little rats; we no longer have any hope of success in Iraq, and we doubt the resolve in the overall "war on terror." The failure has been so complete that there are even rumors floating around now that we will soon install some sort of "alternative government" there - an alternative to the ill-conceived "democracy" with its constitution based on sharia law.
We are tired of pouring our effort into a process that is getting us nowhere, and which we now deem doomed to failure. We are not tired of fighting per se, but we are getting very, very tired of losing without even trying to win. It is the lack of integrity of our leadership that is getting us down, not the fight itself. Our Leaders just don't seem to "get it," right down to their concept of "success."
We have been fighting a war that was designed to lose. We have sacrificed the precious blood of our young, our hard-earned money, and our sense that something of value would come of our effort - and when I say "sacrifice," I mean it in the true sense of the word, "to give up something of greater value for something of lesser value."
As we are increasingly realizing, the lives of our young, our money, and our good will have all been sacrificed on the altar of Political Correctness, and the current "war" will never bring us anything of value.
We are only too well aware of the damage being done to us by Political Correctness in our activities of daily life here at home. We see it everywhere, from the erosion of our Constitution to the dumbing down of our children.
Political Correctness is having its way with us in Iraq, too, with the same self-destructive effect; the "Just War" theory (which is anything but "just") is being taught at West Point, our other war colleges and our universities; it has seized the minds of our leadership, including the Oval Office, the State Department, the Pentagon, and much of the Congress. It has become a tool and plaything of the media and of the academics, and while few in the general population have ever heard of it, it has strongly influenced their attitudes as well.
The "Just War" theory has cost us victory in every conflict we've had since WWII, with the loss of thousands of American lives, and unless we can rid ourselves of it quickly and return to reality, it will cost us our very existence.
Is there any reason for us to feel hope? Yes; if you liked the outcome of WWII better than the outcome of every undeclared "war" since then, there is an alternative to the absurd and immoral "Just War" theory.
If you'd like to know how a war can be fought with integrity, and how the war against Islamic totalitarianism must be fought if we are to survive, read the 25 instructions below.
When you have finished, tell me whether you would be more willing to fight (or send your loved ones to fight) under the direction of 1) the author, or under 2) George W. Bush and/or Ehud Olmert.
These "how-to" instructions come from the very well-grounded mind of Lt.Col. Ralph Peters, USA (Ret.), in "When Devils Walk the Earth."
1) Be feared.
2) Identify the type of terrorists you face, and know your enemy as well as you possibly can. Although tactics may be similar, strategies for dealing with "practical" vs. "apocalyptic" terrorists can differ greatly. "Practical" terrorists may have legitimate grievances that deserve consideration, but their methods cannot be tolerated. "Apocalyptic" terrorists, no matter their rhetoric, seek your destruction and must be killed to the last man. The apt metaphor is "cancer"; you cannot hope for success if you only cut out part of the tumor. For the apocalyptic terrorists, evading your efforts can easily be turned into a public triumph. Our bloodiest successes will create far fewer terrorists and sympathizers than our failures.
3) Do not be afraid to be powerful. Cold war era gambits of "proportionate" response and "dialog" may have some utility in dealing with practical terrorists, but they are counter-productive in dealing with apocalyptic terrorists. Our great strengths are wealth and raw power. When we fail to bring those strengths to bear, we contribute to our own defeat. For a superpower to "think small," which has been our habit in the last decade (at least), is self-defeating folly. Our responses to terrorist acts shoud make the world gasp!
4) Speak bluntly. Euphemisms are interpreted as weakness by our enemies, and mislead the American people. Speak of killing terrorists and destroying their organizations. Timid speech leads to timid actions. Explain when necessary, but do not apologize. Expressions of regret are never seen as a mark of decency by terrorists or their supporters, but only as a sign that our will is faltering. Blame the terrorists as the root cause whenever operations have unintended negtive consequences. Never go on the rhetorical defensive.
5) Concentrate on winning the propaganda war where it is winnable. Focus on keeping or enhancing the support from allies and well-disposed clients, but to not waste an inordinate amount of effort trying to win unwinnable hearts and minds. Convince hostile populations through victory.
6) Do not be drawn into a public dialog with terrorists, especially not with apocalyptic terrorists. You cannot win. You legitimize the terrorists by addressing them even through a third medium, and their extravagant claims will resound more successfully on their own home ground than anything you can say. Ignore absurd accusations, and never let the enemy's claims slow or sidetrack you. The terrorist wants you to react, and your best means of unbalancing him and his plan is to ignore his accusations.
7) Avoid "planning creep." Within our vast bureaucratic system, too many voices compete for attention, and innumerable agendas often intrude on any attempt to act decisively. Focus on the basic mission: the destruction of the terrorists with all the moral, intellectual, and practical rigor you can bring to bear. All other issues, from future nation-building to alliance consensus to humanitarian concerns are secondary.
8) Maintain resolve. Especially in the Middle East and Central Asia, experts and diplomats will always present you with a multitude of good reasons for doing nothing, for doing too little, or for doing exactly the wrong thing. Fight as hard as you can within the system to prevent diplomats from gaining influence over the stragegic campaign. Although their intentions are often good, our diplomats and their obsolete stragegic views are the terrorist's unwitting allies, and diplomats are extremely jealous of military success and military authority in their region (where their expertise is never as deep or subtle as they believe it to be). Beyond the problem with our diplomats, the broader forces of bureaucratic entropy are an internal threat. The counter-terrorist campaign must be not only resolute, but constantly self-rejuvenating in ideas, techniques, military and inter-agency combinations, and sheer energy. Old hands must be stimulated constantly by new ideas.
9) When in doubt, hit harder than you think necessary. Success will be forgiven. Even the best-intentioned failure will not. When military force is against terrorist networks, it should be used with such power that it stuns even our allies. While small-scale raids and other "knife-point" operations are useful against individual targets, broader operations should be overwhelming. Of course, targeting limitations may inhibit some efforts, but whenever possible, maximum force should be used in simultaneous operations at the very beginning of a campaign. Do not hesitate to supplement initial target lists with extensive bombing attacks on nothing if they can increase the initial psychological impact. Demonstrate power wherever you can. Show, don't tell!
10) Whenever leagal conditions permit, kill terrorists on the spot (do not give them a chance to surrender, if you can help it). Contrary to academic wisdom, the surest way to make a martyr of a terrorist is to capture, convict and imprison him, leading to endless efforts by sympathizers to stage kidnappings, hijacking and other events intended to liberate them. This is war, not law enforcement.
11) Never listen to those who warn that ferocity on our part "reduces us to the level of the terrorists." That is the argument of the campus, not of the battlefield, and it insults America's service members and the American people. Historically, we have proven, time after time, that we can do a tough, dirty job for our country without any damage to our nation's moral fabric (Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not interfere with American democracy, values or behavior).
12) Spare and protect innocent civilians whenever possible BUT: Do NOT let the prospect of civilian casualties interfere with the ultimate mission accomplishment! This is a fight to protect the American people, and we must do so whatever the cost, or the price in American lives may be devastating. In a choice between them and us, the choice is always us.
13) Do not allow the terrorists to hide behind religion. Apocalyptic terrorists cite religion as a justification for attacking us; in turn, we cannot let them hide behind religious holidays, taboos, scriptures, or even sacred terrain. We must establish a consistent reputation for relentless pursuit and destruction of those who kill our citizens. Until we do this, our hesitation will continue to strengthen our enemy's ranks and his resolve.
14) Do not allow third parties to broker a peace, a truce, or any pause in operations. One of the most difficult challenges in fighting terrorism on a global scale is the drag produced by nervous allies. We must be single-minded. The best thing we can do for our allies in the long-term is to be so resolute and so strong that they value their alliance with us all the more. We must recognize the innate strength of our position and stop allowing regional leaders with counterproductive local agendas to subdue or dilute our efforts.
15) Don't flinch. If an operations goes awry and friendly casualties are unexpectedly high, immediately bolster morale and the military's iumage by stricking back swiftly in a manner that inflicts the maximum possible number of casualties on the enemy and his supporters. Hit back as graphically as possible, to impress upon the local and regional players that you weren't badly hurt or deterred in the least.
16) Do not worry about alienating already hostile populations.
17) Whenever possible, humiliate your enemy in the eyes of his own people. Do not try to use reasonable arguments against him. Shame him publicly, in any way you can. Create doubt where you cannot excite support. Most apocalyptic terrorists, especially, come from cultures of male vanity. Disgrace them at every opportunity. Done successfully, this both degrades them in the eyes of their followers and supporters, and provokes the terrorist to respond, increasing his vulnerability.
18) If the terrorists hide, strike what they hold dear, using clandestine means whenever possible, and foreign agents to provoke them to break cover and react. Do not be squeamish; your enemy is not. Subtlety is not superpower strength, but the raw power to do that which is necessary, is our great advantage. We forget that while the world may happily chide or accuse us - or complain of our "inhumanity" - no one can stop us if we maintain our strength of will. Much of the world will complain no matter what we do. "Hatred of America" is the default position of failed individuals and failing states around the world, in every civilization, and there is nothing we can do to change their minds. We refuse to understand how much of humanity will find excuses for evil, so long as the evil strikes those who are more successful than the apologists themselves. This is as true of American academics, whose eagerness to declare our military efforts a failure is unflagging, or European clerics, who still cannot forgive America's magnanimity at the end f World War II, as it is of unemployed Egyptians or Pakistanis. The psychologically marginalized are at least as dangerous as the physically deprived.
19) Do not allow the terrorists sanctuary in any country, at any time, under any circumstances. Counter-terrorist operations must, above all, be relentless. This does not necessarily mean that military operations will be constantly underway; sometimes it will be surveillance efforts, deception plans, or operations by other agencies. But the overall effort must never pause for breath. We must be faster, more resolute, more resourceful and, ultimately, even more uncompromising than our enemies.
20) Never declare victory. Announce successes and milestones, but never give the terrorists a chance to embarrass you after a public pronouncement that the war is over.
21) Impress upon the minds of terrorists and potential terrorists everywhere, and upon the populations and governments inclined to support them, that American retaliation will be powerful and uncompromising. You will never deter fanatics, but you can frighten those who might support, harbor, or attempt to to use terrorists for their own ends. Our basic task in the world today is to restore a sense of American power, capabilities and resolve. We must be hard, or we will be struck wherever we are soft. It is folly for charity to precede victory. First win, then unclench your fist.
22) Do everything possible to make terrorists and their active supporters live in terror themselves. Turn the tide psychologically and practically. While this will not deter hard-core apocalyptic terrorists, it will dissipate their energies as they try to defend themselves, and fear will deter many less committed supporters of terror. Do not be distracted by the baggage of the term "assassination." This is a war. The enemy, whether a hijacker or a financier, violates the laws of war by his refusal to wear a uniform and by purposely targeting civilians. He is, by definition, a war criminal. On our soil, he is either a spy or a saboteur, and not entitled to the protections of the U.S. Constitution. Those who abet terrorists must grow afraid to turn out the lights and go to sleep.
23) Never accept the consensus of the Washington intelligentsia, which looks backward to past failures, not forward to future successes.
24) In dealing with Islamic apocalyptic terrorists, remember that their most cherished symbols are fewer and far more vulnerable than are the West's. Ultimately, no potential target can be regarded as off-limits when the United States is threatened with mass casualties. Worry less about "offending" foreign snesibilities and more about protecting Americans.
25) Do not look for answers in recent history, which is still unclear and subject to personal emotion. Begin with the study of the classical world, specifically Rome, which is the nearest model to the present-day United States. Mild with subject peoples, to whom they brought the rule of ethical law, the Romans in their rise and at their apogee were implacable with their enemies. The utter destruction of Carthage brought centuries of local peace, while the later empire's attempt to appease barbarians consistently failed!