Friday, January 22, 2016

From the First Gulf War to Islamic State: How America Was Seduced by the “Easy War”

“Air power is an unusually seductive form of military strength, in part because, like modern courtship, it appears to offer gratification without commitment.” Nearly two decades and multiple military interventions later, the United States still desperately clings to airpower as a panacea to armed conflict.


Chiu ChunLing said...

"Kosovo provided “a refutation of the common wisdom that airpower alone could never make a despot back down.”"

Milošević was a socialist politician with plenty of blood on his hands, but he was far from being a despot. The difference being that a politician can lose public support and be forced from office.

Of course, we aren't really talking about the difference between politicians and despots, but between leaders of any kind an the entire population of a nation. It wasn't the idea of "easy war" that resulted in the spectacular failures giving rise to the Islamic State, but the idea that the leadership of the Middle East was the only problem and that the Islamic character of the national populations couldn't be an issue as long as we removed bad leaders. I recently reviewed a relevant quote.

"While it is always dangerous to make generalizations about complex cultural epochs and traditions, it is even more dangerous not to."

In war, you seek to gain advantage by inflicting more damage than the enemy can sustain at a cost which won't cripple your own nation. The best strategy is to fight on terms where it is impossible for the enemy to even seriously contest the outcome. Every war should be "easy" as possible, especially if that means winning through actions that don't rise to the level of direct armed conflict.

It is going to war in ignorance of the nature of your enemy, and especially of your own strengths and vulnerabilities, which raises the danger or certainty of defeat. And that is precisely what we've been doing for the last couple of decades.

Nowhere is this profound misunderstanding more clearly demonstrated than the myth that we breed terrorists by killing them, and the corollary idea that we betray our national values by defending them. The depth of misunderstanding of the history of Islam and America these myths requires cannot be easily expressed in meaningful terms.

But the most relevant point we can draw from them is that we must fight the rot of treason which has weakened us from within before we can hope to have the national strength to fight and win wars abroad, no matter how "easy" they are. America's Constitution and values must be defended at home before they can guide other nations.

Anonymous said...

"There are a dozen different ways of delivering destruction in impersonal wholesale, via ships or missiles of one sort or another, catastrophes so widespread, so unselective that the war is over because that nation or planet has ceased to exist. What we do is entirely different. We make war as personal as a punch in the nose. We can be selective, applying precisely the required amount of pressure at the specified point at a designated time. We've never been told to go down and kill or capture all left-handed redheads in a particular area, but if they tell us to, we can. We will.
We are the boys who will go to a particular place, at H-hour, occupy a designated terrain, stand on it, dig the enemy out of their holes, force them then and there to surrender or die. We're the bloody infantry, the doughboy, the duckfoot, the foot soldier who goes where the enemy is and takes them on in person. We've been doing it, with changes in weapons but very little change in our trade, at least since the time five thousand years ago when the foot sloggers of Sargon the Great forced the Sumerians to cry "Uncle!" " -- Robert A. Heinlein in 'Starship Troopers'

Air power alone is a powerful tool. But it can never be more than a part of any military effort. One need only look at the strategic bombardment campaign in Europe in WWII. In spite of all the allies' attention to interdiction of U-boat production, the output of Germany's hardened shipyards held steady or increased every year prior to 1944. Production peaked in the year 1943 and only fell off slightly in 1944 as the lands where some of those yards were located began to be occupied by allied infantry.

The next war won by air power alone will be the first such victory in all of human history.


Note: no left-handed redheads were harmed during the production of this post.

Richard Evey said...

It was all started by the first Bush, rammed up by the second Bush, both republicans and lies, then carried on by Berry, what he is is in question. The Sheeple fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Now everyone is blaming Berry for the refugee problem and all the Muslim problems and all the borrowed money to pay for everything. The Sheeple are becoming stupider every day.

Anonymous said...

Air power attacks on anyone is done because of the "bravery of being out of range" factor and being able to lay waste to huge stretches of property and lives, little fear of losing air assets and it makes the military commanders and politicians seem bold and brave when in reality it just allows them the safe distance of conscience and personal safety to exercise their cowardice without any physical danger. The most effective dictators always hide behind the largest distance of safety from those they oppress and victimize. Being personally responsible for their actions is the furthest thing in their minds because it allows them to be a finger waving narcissistic egomaniacal murderous asswipes without fear. It is also why the American POS POTUS and the chickenshit Congress have had us in "wars" for the past 45 years. Insulated from immediate repercussions and danger our govt is the worst examplre of tyranny mankind has ever experienced, all the exceptional propaganda about the "Greatest Nation", aside, we have been the single most homicidsl aggressor nation humanity has ever been endangered by.

Sign me Neal Jensen

Anonymous said...

Air power allows for administration of remote controlled terror. A patriot must learn to operate where they cannot use it, that is in quarters close enough the enemy dare not employ it for fear of damaging themselves. Being a patriot means you must fight in the most extreme closeness to your enemy, an intensely personal space, but where the enemy is weakest. Your friend is not the gun but the knofe and icepick. Your enemies greatest fear is the suicide bomber and IED because its is in "THEIR PERSONAL" space where they are loathe to fight, that is why they keep the people at a distance from themselves. They are bold beyond reach but the cowardly fools where the fight involves their own flesh. You can win the revolution, you must first close the battlefield to always be in their left pocket, its the only way you can win.this is why they leverage technology and advanced weaponry, to give themselves maximum stand off safety range. Its why i advocate ropes and lampposts rather than guns and bombs.

Sign me Neal Jensen

Anonymous said...

Communists and collectivists rule from afar so they will never be at risk to the persoal harm their oppressed masses may inflict. Thats why they hide behind death squads armies and technology. Sign me, Neal Jensen

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, contrary to the views stated in the article at hand, General Slap on the Wrist Patraeus..aka .. General Thinking with his Dick fail fame, momentarily crawls out of his cesspool into the propaganda limelight to spout his usual tunnel vision view of how to waste another 100k civilians via "unleashing" US airpower to bomb ISIS and the Taliban in into submission, while forgetting 25 yrs of British occupation fail, 10yrs of Soviet invasion fail and 14yrs of US stupidity have only proved the superiority of Afghanistan stone age forces by virtue of sheer persistence.

He redefines the word moron. Meanwhile, America asks..ummm, exactly what has our Trillion dollars and 150k lives lost investment won?

Anonymous said...

Read up on The First Afghan War where in 1842 an entire British army, some 16,000 strong, was massacred while attempting to retreat from Kabul with only a single survivor.

Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread and so forth and so on.