Fighting Not To Lose
Nations should fight wars for one reason and one reason only-TO WIN! Certainly the act of achieving a win is called "victory," and victory is sought for a number of reasons most of which are germane to one of the following: To gain territory, to secure more natural or human resources, to unite peoples theretofore dispersed and/or to simply control and dominate peoples for the sake of pure power. Only when war is waged for one of these purposes can the effort be focused and concerted and victory achievable. Deviate from these purposes and a nation will find itself in a quandary, marked by non-committal actions, unsteady leadership, poorly focused strategy and a disjointed domestic citizenry. Consider the examples of American history.
In the Revolutionary War, the American Founders committed themselves to one purpose upon signing the Declaration-a complete break with Great Britain. And though at the Warís onset, they were in the minority of public sentiment, the fervor, commitment and ideals for which they pursued their Cause drew many to their side as the conflict wore on. Everything they did politically, strategically and diplomatically from July 2, 1776 on, pursued that end of unhinging from the Crown. When Ben Franklin went to France to enlist the support of the French in defeating the English, he stuck to his mission, his womanizing notwithstanding. The American goals were so crystal clear that the French had no trouble understanding Yankee objectives and their intended means to achieve them.
In the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had one objective, to crush the South and reunite the Union. For four years, men like Chamberlain, Grant, and Sherman pursued that goal to its victorious outcome. Ancillary issues such as the abolition of slavery were not the goal of Lincoln, only victory. Had he allowed slavery and possible job competition for northern whites from newly emancipated blacks cloud his objective, the South might have delayed the War long enough until the British or another power perhaps wouldíve aided the Rebel cause. But it didnít happen. And in any event speculation into alternative outcomes is moot. The North won.
In the Spanish American War, conversely, William McKinley and then Theodore Roosevelt were unsure as to what objective they hoped to achieve by driving the Spanish from the Western Hemisphere. What ensued were several years of tomfoolery in the newly acquired Philippines, chasing Aguinaldo and other Filipino insurrectionists. No clear aims and nary a decisive decision from the White House got American soldiers killed and made our occupation of these islands one of the most glaring examples of what happens when a country ambiguously wages war to build nations.
In both World Wars, we had a clear goal and we defeated Axis Powers and Nazism, while in Korea we allowed an incompetent world body and ambiguous leadership at home deter us from the achievable goal of keeping communism north of the Yalu River. General MacArthur knew what it would take, but his President wasnít committed to the task.
Twelve years in Vietnam demonstrated the futility of bureaucrats running a war from a few thousand miles away. Signals were crossed, intentions not understood and consequently, 56,000 Americans lost their lives and Indochina went the way of godless communism.
The Gulf War victory was certainly commendable on all fronts. President Bush achieved the goal, the victory by pushing Iraq out of Kuwait. By that measure, victory was ours, to be sure.
Now what of this latest conflict in Afghanistan? Though not a "quagmire" as the New York Times stupidly insists (itís difficult to be in a quagmire when you havenít committed much of anything to begin with). But we are definitely going about this in such a way as to ensure we never see victory.
Instead of working first and foremost unilaterally to forcefully avenge the deaths of 6,000 dead Americans, we allow Secretary of State Colin Powell and other State Department utopians weave a tangled web of temporary alliances with nations hostile to American interests. Every day we hear and read of another king or prime minister voyaging to Foggy Bottom for a chat with Powell in the pursuit of a broader coalition and for what reason?
What invariably happens, especially with those countries historically opposed to us, is a whole lot of deal making to ensure their "hoped-so" cooperation. We give promises to get permission is what it amounts to. All the while we make it more difficult for our military to do its job because we must thereafter get the sanction of every frigginí country around the globe before we lift a finger!
Witness Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld globetrotting every time one of these "moderate" Arab countries has reservations about some facet of the campaign. The President sends Rumsfeld over to pacify our "friends," which delays action and gives the bad guys (those terrorists or have we already forgotten these cowards) plenty of time to steal away to the mountains or wherever it is Islamic supremacists like to hide.
Indeed, it seems the day has finally come when the great United States must be granted permission to defend its own people! Did Franklin Roosevelt ask permission from every candy corn republic before declaring and waging war against the Japanese after Pearl Harbor? No. Conventional wisdom used to portend that when a sovereign nation was attacked viciously and without provocation, the offended nation had every right to destroy the offender. But those days have come and gone.
Now we fight for what? It certainly isnít to avenge the deaths of a few thousand of our friends and neighbors. If that were our aim-to destroy the enemy whoever they are to avenge September 11th and to ensure this doesnít happen again-we certainly would have offered a bit more than the obligatory bombing run a few minutes everyday. Itís nice to see our awesome weaponry on display at every Pentagon news conference, but you know those true warriors in the DoD are embarrassed this is all they have to show for nearly two months of mobilization. In other words, the main means of achieving military victory, our Armed Forces (and not humanitarian food drops), are fighting this war with one hand tied behind its back. And word is getting out that bombs and special ops will not bow a proud enemy occupying a state the size of Texas (read my column on the proper military response).
Furthermore, whenever word of possible escalation from the United States reaches the press and the Muslim world, cries of "What about Ramadan" and "save the innocent children of Afghanistan" rise up. And being sensitive to those anti-American voices among us at the Washington Post, the New York Times, the State Department and the Democratic Party, President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld are forced to either forgo operations altogether or at the least amend strategy to ameliorate the boisterous critics.
Thatís why that as of November 6th, the Northern Alliance have done nothing of note; the Taliban still firmly controls every major city in Afghanistan; Mullah Omar, Usama bin Laden and most of their underlings are still alive; and unintended civilian casualties highlight nightly news reports instead of tales of American-induced Taliban blood-letting in the streets of Kabul and Kandahar. Moreover, the situation in Pakistan is fractured by all accounts and teetering like so many Central American regimes.
We hear all the time that us Joe Shmoes havenít a clue, that Monday morning quarterbacking is harmful and mistaken. "The government knows what itís doing and the rest of us civilians best zip it up," the enlightened classes contend. Certainly the rantings from the left about this being another Vietnam and their calls to de-escalate the war (I didnít ever know we escalated it) are ridiculous. That perspective is so misguided as to not warrant a response.
But the concerns of Patriots like myself are valid, for the very reason that we simply want to increase the intensity on the Taliban. Thatís the only way to win this war or at least take a giant step towards that end. We want our military to be unleashed so that it can do what it does best-destroy those that have attacked us, killing all who wish us harm. Contrary to leftist peaceniks, we donít castigate our President as a tyrannical jingoist who really wants to subject the peoples of Afghanistan so that a U.S. controlled oil pipeline can be constructed through Afghanistan and Pakistan (I read this somewhere in a British paper). We simply want the clueless diplomats, of which Colin Powell is one, to get out of the way and let the men wage a war as wars are to be rightly waged. And no, benefit concerts arenít sufficient enough to win a war. Men must be placed in harmís way and even die for their country, the enemy must be destroyed and civilians invariably perish. That is war. If itís nation building you want or if you want to feel better about everything, go talk to Billy Clinton.
The sad thing is, the goal is clear (destroy terrorists), the enemy is defined (Muslim supremacists and those Muslim states that harbor them), the aims are achievable (the Taliban or anyone else cannot stand up against our military) and we do have a great leader (President Bush). But somewhere along the way, all of these have been clouded by tertiary issues: Concerns about the children (thatís always the old stand by), a desire to win friends and influence others instead of simply winning a war, and placating terrorists in Palestine (that violates our moral commitment to Israel and emboldens these terrorists to commit more atrocities). In other words, we lack principle, we lack focus and we lack will. All of these combine to render the worldís strongest, mightiest military as ineffective as it has been these last several weeks.
The longer this carries on without some tangible victory to show, the more our collective attention will turn to other matters. Now while this could be a pleasant development in that it might allow our military more freedom to carry out its mission without the insane scrutiny of the press, the chances of this happening are slim. In this day and age, whatever the press finds important, the government is compelled to act on, lest they be painted as uncompassionate and mean. When this happens, the left will claim the President isnít concerned about domestic issues, and that he will not feel our pain. This snipping will inevitably mean the already struggling war effort will become more uncommitted, less focused and perceivably imperialistic to other nations.
So letís be forceful, Mr. President. Squash that Foggy Bottom bug whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Hack some people off and in the process win a place in the history books as a President who led this great people to noble military triumph against another evil empire, as opposed to just another executive who bought into the poison that is internationalism and utopian nonsense.
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