Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Destroyer

You can kill a man,
but you can't detsroy an idea
--Medgar Evans

Load up on guns, bring your friends
It's fun to lose and to pretend 
--Smells Like Teen Spirit, 

Beneath this mask there is an idea,
Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof 
--V for Vendetta (2005)

 The Big Stick talk on the United States' Executive, State and Department of Defense street is about destroying Islamic State (IS) / ISIL / ISIS/ Daesh, forever and ever, amen. President Obama has stated this objective clearly on the White House web page ("We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL.")

But this idea should be examined in a realistic manner, devoid of the feminine dithering of our leaders.

Fact: the destruction of IS is not going to happen anytime soon. Following 12+ years of hostilities , Al Qaeda (the original Bad Boys on the block) has not been destroyed, so what makes us think IS can be destroyed? The best that we have achieved with Al Qaeda is to have killed numbers one through three in their hierarchy; wash - rinse - repeat.

However, these attempts to disorder the group did not destroy the organization. It seems they have the military idea of "slotting" down better than we could imagine. We can kill people with explosives, but we cannot destroy their ideas as handily.

The Islamic State is not the problem in the ME. IS did not destabilize the region. IS simply exploited the now existing power vacuums. IS is not an aberration but rather the apotheosis of a prevailing Middle Easernt mindset. This is why their iteration has been so successful.

Through our efforts at destabilization, we handed the thugs a present. The force that animates and populates IS was already there, simmering and roiling beneath the surface. We simply unleashed it.

To focus on the destruction of IS would simply be to remove a symptom, not to address the disease

News flash: The United States military forces have never destroyed an enemy army. We may have defeated them, but the vanquished forces may live to fight another day, or to morph into something new and try again.

Moreover, calling for the destruction of any entity is philosophically as barbaric as the destructive actions of IS. If destruction is the best the U.S. can conjure as a realistic course of action, then we have lost the finesse that makes democracy unique among governmental systems.

How does destroying an entire army (IS) express the values of a civilized Western  military tradition? Are we deserting our laws of land warfare and reverting to Old Testament standards of conduct?

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Blogger BadTux said...

You appear to forget the one time we (the United States) truly did utterly destroy an enemy army. You are to be forgiven for that, I suppose, because the entire dirty little war has been completely wiped out of the US history books from which our children are taught. I am, of course, talking about the Filipino-American War of 1899-1903. In that war our generals adopted Stalin's solution of "no people, no problem." Civilians were rounded up and forced into concentration camps, depriving soldiers of food and support even as the civilians died of starvation by the hundreds of thousands. In the end the Filipino army ran out of places to run and was largely exterminated either via starvation or slaughter. The few reporters who evaded the U.S. Army to report on the actual events on the ground reported entire villages of the dead where every man, woman and child was eviscerated with entrails laying on the dirt and the smell of death so strong they could not stay more than a couple of minutes before fleeing in horror. The U.S. counts roughly 20,000 official Filipino casualties, but the first U.S. census of the Philippines counted a million fewer Filipinos than the last Spanish census counted.

Of course the US had a few advantages there. The Filipinos lacked modern weapons and ammunition, two things which are not lacking in the Middle East which is awash with firearms. The Nazis had not yet rendered concentration camps politically unthinkable, meaning that the civilian population could be rounded up and placed in concentration camps to deprive the guerrillas of the support they needed to fight. The civilian population was much smaller than that of northwest Iraq and northern Syria, which rendered the logistics of rounding up the civilian population and exterminating any who were not rounded up much easier. And the US lacked moral qualms in those days that today's more squeamish American public possesses, Filipinos were not white Europeans thus were not viewed as fully human, in much the same way that Africans were viewed as little more than highly intelligent baboons. That kind of racism has fallen out of fashion and while Arabs are viewed by many Americans as being lesser humans not as good as Americans, they are, nevertheless, viewed as human. And finally, modern communications didn't exist back then. A few brave reporters managed to evade the American blockade of Luzon and report on what was actually happening, but they had to escape again and send their stories back by wire from someplace other than the Philippines, which added weeks to the process. Today you pick up your sat phone, ten seconds later are talking to your bureau chief in London or Washington D.C., and a few minutes later your story is screeching over satellite modem to be filed and put out on the news wires to the entire world.

So: Yes, the United States has destroyed an enemy army before. But no, that is not going to happen with ISIS. The methods needed to do so would be so horrific that even a population which has a sizable percent of the citizens who fantasize about killing dark-skinned people with projectile-firing penile substitutes would find it impossible to rationalize the atrocity. At that point the question becomes, now what? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that the current administration in Washington doesn't know that answer either.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 1:58:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

It's nice to hear from you.
This morning driving to town i was thinking about the Philippines, but in a US Army way.
Our Army there was pretty much destroyed by the Japanese war machine. When all the dust settled most of those captured did not make it to VJ day.
Now for the Filipino insurgents. I use this term for want of a better term.
I am well read on the topic and i'm aware that US troops raped and killed in a wanton manner,BUT this was not a Army like we define it today. We also did much the same to the US indig in the Indian wars.
In the Philippine war A MOH recipient Gen'l Funston was known to rape before killing folks.
But this did not destroy the opposition forces, and one could say that the problem is still unresolved to date.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 9:17:00 AM GMT-5  

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