On Seizing a State

"Nice people?" Well, yes. Up to a point.

Quite a lot of the fuel for our thrusts in the first year and a half after Black Tuesday was a national desire to kick ass and take names. We'd been given ample reason. Had we the sort of committed leadership we had in World War II, we'd be doing it still. But our leadership committed a critical strategic error: It halted a moving force for no good reason.

Actually, it did so twice: once in Iraq, and once here at home.

Our forces in Iraq could have cleaned the country out thoroughly and gone on to Iran and Syria by now, but the swiftness and low cost of the "major combat operations" seems to have persuaded the Administration that the rest of our efforts there could be conducted on the Nice. Or perhaps on the Cheap; the two often resemble one another. The result was that our forces lost their momentum and focus, and soon found their hands tied by absurd Rules of Engagement against an enemy that knows no law or moral constraint.

Here at home, the rage that had powered Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom was still strong. But President Bush refused to name the enemy -- militant Islam wherever it exists -- and acceded to bad political advice in the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad. Had he remained a war president of an Administration on a war footing, unwilling to stop short of total victory over all the Axis of Evil nations, permanent (Iran, North Korea, Iraq) and probationary (Syria, the West Bank, Venezuela), we'd have remained mobilized domestically. Instead, our engine sputtered and died. It might take another terrorist strike on American soil to restart it.

We're not really all that nice. In point of fact, we're pretty nasty. When we're persuaded that the occasion demands it, we destroy whole cities and kill civilians by the tens of thousands. We just have to be triggered. It takes a slap in the face and a good cause. We had both, but we squandered the energy from them.

Posted by Francis W. Porretto at January 14, 2007 12:39 PM

"Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be, better than before
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone"

Posted by Gerard Van der Leun at January 14, 2007 12:51 PM

I believe we can turn to General William Tecumseh Sherman for some historical validation of Gerard's thoughts. The first of these quotes is dedicated to our Commander in Chief, and the last to those decaf drinkers over at the New York Times:

“If the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity seeking”

“War is cruelty. There's no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”

“Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster."

“If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast.”

Posted by askmom at January 14, 2007 5:15 PM

I wonder how much influence the State Dept has in making us play 'nice'?

Once we rid ourselves of the State Dept we will no longer be under the rule of the United Nations.

Reagan never actually went to war, oh he fought and helped to win the Cold War without having to fire a single shot however, when it came to confronting the Middle East he like all the President's before and after him, until George W. Bush came along, turned tail and ran away. My guess is Reagan knew the State Dept would never allow him to seriously confront Islamic Jihad.

We are fortunate that George Bush took this war as far as he did, considering America's foreign policy had been controlled by the UN for sometime now and the UN controls the US State Dept.

Now we know why Clinton never sought out UN approval before Kosovo and fought that war from the air.

I admire Bush for having remain strong when so many hideous forces have been against him.

Posted by syn at January 15, 2007 4:16 AM

I've gotten into real intense discussions of this a couple of times and pretty much made the same point. Once you start a war the only objective 'niceness' you can afford to be concerned with is to prosecuting it in such a way that it ends decisively, in your favor, and as quickly as possible. I came up with a little motto: "Not only do the ends justify the ends, the only real question is the morality of the ends and the efficiency of the means."

Of course, that usually gets me called an "evil neocon" but I'm good with that.

Posted by junyo at January 15, 2007 9:22 AM

I might agree with some of this, if we had a clear sense of who our enemy is in Iraq. At the moment we are supporting a government in Iraq which is bound to become a close ally of Iran. We're not just in the middle of a civil war -- we're taking sides, and the side we're taking is that of the Shi'ites. Can we really hope to combat both the opposing Sunni and Shi'ite militias?

Things are perhaps clearer in the west, where we're up against al-Qaeda. But our problem is not that we're not fighting mean; it's that we're not fighting smart. Neither our forces nor the Iraqi Army forces, primarily drawn from outside the region, know the area or the local politics, and we're not making enough effort to court the local sheiks, who are the traditional authorities in the area. (Newt Gingrich recommended a stick-figure animated video, by a US captain who was sadly killed recently, which made this point -- http://youtube.com/watch?v=sNlTmFOeoyU.)

In fact, throughout Iraq we've alienated potential allies with our ignorant and callous tactics. Neither our forces nor their commanders have the proper training, either for this region or for this type of mission.

Posted by Peter Gaffney at February 3, 2007 2:42 PM

Means and Ends: Perhaps we ought not to debate justification or niceness, but rather necessity.

"... to seek victory by any means necessary" as stated by Gerard.
What is necessary? Clearly to demolish the supply of weapons, money,& manpower maintaining the terrorists of all stripes. A 48 hour warning to the civilian population in Iran and Syria ought to be time enough before we demolish every government structure above and below-ground that we know of.
Next, demand of Saudi Arabia, under severe penalty for noncompliance, all of the $billions to compensate the wounded and families of the dead, American and others, for the Wahhabist/Salafist/Jihadist funding that Saudi Arabia has supplied for the past 30+ years.

Of course, this would necessitate the American populace being, at least, on a SERIOUS mental war-footing. Less attention to the mall and more attention to the necessary maul.

Our enemy is whomever is in murderous opposition to our life and liberty (response to Peter).

Posted by FamouslyUnknown at December 24, 2007 8:42 PM