Saturday, October 28, 2006
Let me begin by first saying there are no absolutes in human behavior. Which when applied to warfare means tolerable behavior is gray, not black and white. However, the society you live in puts constraints on the ROE of the troops. That is the correct lesson of history. What the Romans could do and what medieval knights could do were two extremes.
Who determines the society-imposed mores? Your society, today. Even if you could become the "warlord for a day", your troops come already pre programmed by the society that raised them. And after the bullets fly society will judge you. Let's not even count the pope pronouncing to Catholics among your troops whether the war is just.
This becomes an extreme hardship when a more "moral" society ends up in a fight with a far less "moral" society. Re today's Iraq. We are arresting troops for almost anything, and our opponents are beheading civilians. These behaviors are imposed by starkly different societies.
There are two phases to most warfare between societies. The battle phase and the occupation phase. The ROEs imposed by society are quite different for each phase. Let me work backwards. In the occupation phase if the winner wants to have the losing society to remain and be viable, then more rules apply. This was true even for the Japanese, who wanted the Chinese and Philippines to survive and be essentially a slave labor force. Germans did the same thing. But even they, with their very limited societal imposed mores imposed their own limits because their leaders wanted a viable slave force. So both Japan and Germany had to put up with guerrillas. Terrorism skips the battle phase and begins with the occupation ROEs. What is the lesson here? Occupation is a bitch and should be minimized or eliminated so your warriors can remain warriors and not be harassed by essentially peacetime laws.
The current US is in a unique position with regard to occupation. We don't want anyone else's land or societies. So we have the choice to never "occupy". We can conduct the battle phase and immediately leave. There has never been a time in history when this would work until now and only with the current US military.
First, as a society we just want to be left alone to pursue our dreams. Second we have a military that can win anywhere with an unprecedented low number of good guy casualties. In Iraq and Afghanistan 5% of the casualties occurred in the battle phase. We don't need to occupy anything. If the bad guys rise up again, we hit them even harder. Use warriors only as warriors. If the Soviets or Chinese tried that against us today they would go home with 99% casualties. We are the only nation who can do this.
Foreign policy lesson: If attacked, even a trade center type attack, the American people want somebody punished. The president identifies the enemy and we go stomp them. Acceptance? After the battle phase of Afghanistan, Bush and the military were heroes. Bush I’s popularity after the Kuwait liberation was 90%. There was a victory parade. But what would his popularity have been if he chose to occupy Iraq with troops on the ground? He would be in the same mess as his son is now.
America is the only nation in history that can guarantee an overwhelming battle phase victory. How brutal can that battle phase be? With the right education and motivation of the American people, it can be whatever is necessary. Remember images of the world trade center falling would motivate the American people to accept significant damage on the enemy, even total destruction. The key lesson: use the battle phase to accomplish your objectives; do not enter an occupation phase.
What if the enemy refuses to initiate a battle phase, such as less than "obvious state" sponsored terrorism. This is the worst-case scenario for any society, especially a more "moral" society. The key to the answer is open foreign policy. Terrorist live somewhere, if here, they came from somewhere. Terrorists require complicit societies in order to function. The need arms, training and money. To combat these guys you cannot kill the foot soldiers, there is an unlimited supply of them. You have to kill their sources of arms, training and money. How do you do this? Hold those societies that arm, train and finance terror accountable.
The best scenario is to be able to publicly say to any society if you don't solve your terrorism problem we will destroy you. We need them to be so convinced that we will wipe them off the map that they will do anything to stop the terrorists. Notice I did not use the word nation. Holding national leaders accountable is useless. In the case of Arab or Persian Muslim terrorism, the whole society of Arab and Persian Muslims should be held accountable. The people, all the people, need to be scared to death when we threaten destruction.
If the president had made this threat after the world trade center disasters, the American people would have bought it and the Islamics would have been somewhat impressed. Regrettably, our threats are not taken seriously, because our track record is one of weakness. Our own foreign policy of the last 30 years is the reason we are being attacked. Ronald Reagan was the first modern president who started this chain of weakness. Paradoxically, he also applied the first use of brutal retaliation. His doing nothing in response to the Beirut Marine bombing began the slide to weakness. His bombing of Libya and killing Qadaffi's daughter got Libya's attention.
Nonetheless, a threat today would not be believed. Therefore, after the world trade center The American people (after the right education by the president) needed to teach the Islamic societies a hard lesson. Wipe the society most responsible for the attack off the map. This would be either Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia or both. I would have chosen both. Nobody in the Middle East cares whether the people of Afghanistan exist.
With Saudi Arabia reduced to rubble and 90%+ of the people dead. We could creditably threaten the rest of the Middle East with their destruction. "You have 12 months to get rid of all terrorists or we will destroy one or more of your societies." If they hit us again, and they will, we need to follow through. Don't threaten leaders or nations. Don't even mention them. Directly threaten societies.
However, to gain American acceptance of this policy today, the president needs to spend the next 6 months preparing the American people so that when one of our cities is attacked with WMD, or terrorist cells begin destroying bridges, oil refineries and power plants the president will have the moral authority of the American people to wipe a society or societies off the map.
Specifically, when Bush addressed the nation after 9-11 he doomed us to a war of proportional response. "Islam is a peaceful religion". "This is the work of a few hot heads including Al-Qaeda". His speech should have been to highlight all the evils of Islamic Middle Easterners and hold the whole of Middle Eastern Islam accountable. This speech would have been accepted and given him the authority to wipe any Islamic society or societies off the map. He or the next president will get a second chance. We will be attacked again.
Liberty or Death