One of the people who commented on my last post posits that we can’t win against our current enemy with today’s “values”. So you don’t have to scroll all the way to the end of the last post, Zach’s comment follows:

Can a military that relies heavily on reserve call-ups win this new kind of war?
Can we win "Eastern" wars with Western values?

Only if we can find the vaules that helped us win WWI and WWII. So, the answer is.. No... we cant win with todays "values."

Zach’s comment answers the second question that LTC (Ret) Ralph Peters raised, winning an “Eastern” war with Western values. I think “values” and political will are being confused.

Do you believe that we Westerners don’t have it in us to kill the enemy? Please read “Carnage and Culture” by Victor Davis Hanson, PhD where he states that:

"The Western way of war is so lethal precisely because it is so amoral shackled rarely by concerns of ritual, tradition, religion, or ethics, by anything other than military necessity."

I want to hone in on the word “amoral”. Much is said today about morals and values. Can we win with Western values? What values are we talking about anyway? Do I love my sons differently than how my Dad loved me and my brother when were children? Are we referring to cultural mores where, in my opinion, we Generation Xers were promiscuous but the next generation would make Caligula blush?

We need to divorce the concept of “values” and “mores” from “attributes”. What makes us Westerners are our institutions and ideals such as consensual government, free inquiry and innovative enterprise, rationalism, and the value placed on freedom and individualism. The vulgarity of our culture is a small price to pay for the wealth and freedoms we enjoy and besides, there are far more people who try to live by the Ten Commandments than people who are pursuing a “hedonistic” lifestyle.

Back to “amoral”. The Western attributes of free inquiry, innovative enterprise, and rationalism have given us an economy that is able to produce a frightening war making capability. Al Queda may have knocked down the World Trade Center but we were able to put boots on the ground that were supported by satellite guided munitions and communications. Al Queda killed close to three thousand people on 11SEP2001. We have killed far more of them. The thing is, we could have killed many more.

In my last post I alluded to my disgust with ISAF because they don’t get it. The primary reason they don’t get it is because they don’t understand that Regional Command South (RC-South) is totally different from RC-North and RC-West. The Taliban originated in RC-South and they are not going away quietly. There are newspaper articles out there proclaiming a new Taliban insurgency. Newsflash people, the Taliban never really left, we only just this year started to fight them seriously in RC-South! Another reason they don’t get it is because they are European staff officers who are not aggressive about getting on with it.

In my conversations with some of the people of Afghanistan, the more knowledgeable ones are wondering why we aren’t getting on with it. They know we can kill with impunity from the air and from the ground (the Taliban may be great warriors, but Westerners are better soldiers) but we are seen as not being aggressive enough.

This leads me to my number one complaint about my job as an Information Operations officer. I am not the “cute and cuddly”, “warm and fuzzy”, officer that only deals with “non-kinetic” operations. According to Army Field Manual 3-13, destruction is one of the effects I try to achieve in the physical and information battle spaces. Officers who don’t get it look at me and ask “what can Info Ops do?” I respond with “Killing them supports Info Ops theme number three so go ahead and kill them” and they look at me in shock!!

LTC (Ret) Ralph Peters alludes to my frustrations in an article published in the Summer 2004 edition of Parameters (published by the US Army War College) found here. I quote:

…we shall hear no end of fatuous arguments to the effect that we can’t kill our way out of the problem. Well, until a better methodology is discovered, killing every terrorist we can find is a good interim solution. The truth is that even if you can’t kill yourself out of the problem, you can make the problem a great deal smaller by effective targeting…

With hardcore terrorists, it’s not about PSYOP or jobs or deploying dental teams. It’s about killing them. Even regarding the general population, which benefits from our reconstruction and development efforts, the best thing we can do for them is to kill terrorists and insurgents. Until the people of Iraq are secure, they are not truly free. The terrorists know that. We pretend otherwise.

Substitute Iraq with Afghanistan or any other terrorist haven and we have a solution but we need the political will to make it happen.

That’s the whole point. Zach’s answer about not winning with today’s “values” should read we won’t win unless we make the political decision to do so. We have far too many senior officers who think we can Info Ops our way out of it when we should be using Info Ops to facilitate more killing. The Afghans want the Taliban dead and we should oblige them. The citizens of our coalition brethren plus our own people need to make a decision as to how we want to prosecute the war, fight to win or fight half assed.

We Westerners have everything we need to win. Values? We don’t need them, only the will to win.

CPT NightHawk


Anonymous Zach said...

Very well put, sir. I sent some trackbacks to this article and the "Will it hold" article. Hopefully you will receive them.

19 August, 2006 00:31  

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