For the past few days most American news organizations have made a point of noting that the war in Iraq has now lasted longer than our involvement in World War II. So what?
The implication here, as it was during Vietnam, is if we could defeat the Nazis and the Japanese in a slightly more than three year period beginning on Dec. 7, 1941, and ending for the Nazis on May 7, 1945 and for Japan on Sept. 2, 1945, why can't we do the same in Iraq (Vietnam)?
Well for starters, it is a false comparison. World War II actually started several years before the United States got into it - some say it was actually in 1921 when Adolph Hitler first was elected leader of the National Socialist Party (Nazis) in Germany, others say various dates in the early to mid-30s when Hitler opened the first concentration camp, and assassinated the Austrian Chancellor.
Regardless of the time line, the fact is that defeating Germany and Japan involved a more concentrated effort because in addition to the differing ideologies at play - they wanted to rule the world, we said 'No,' - they also existed in highly definable geographic locations where we could concentrate our forces against theirs.
The similarities now are that the Islamo-facists want to rule the world and we again are saying 'No!' But the enemy this time is nearly completely ideology based, not geography based, and though defeating their armed forces is certainly within our means, stamping out their extremist ideology is far more complicated and will take much more time. I have written in the past that I believe we are in a three-generation war and nothing has changed about that.
We first need to defeat their armies, which, due to the fanaticism of their fighters and the diverse locations that spawn them will probably take us more than another decade, twenty years in all. Why? Because we have to show that we not only can kill their fighters, but that we have the willpower and determination to keep killing their fighters for as long as it takes.
I don't like to forecast how many casualties it will cost the US, but I repeat that whatever number of fighters we lose, as sad and deplorable as that is to me, is a mere fraction of the number of American civilians who will be butchered if we just give up.
Eventually, and I believe it is when the current generation of Islamo-facists has seen nothing but constant loss and death and have become nothing more than extremist splinter organizations, the countries where they are allowed to recruit and train new fighters will start cracking down on them, and that will be the beginning of the end of the military phase.
But we still will have to show people who are alive now that it is useless to work against us under the radar, and that secretly training a new generation of terrorists will bring only the same results. That will take another 20 years, until a time when today's extremist leaders are relegated to a position not as elder statesmen, but as sad relics of a bygone time and disproven philosophy who are viewed with contempt not respect.
Then we'll still have to work with the countries where the terrorists originally operated with impunity, to educate the unborn generation to take a different view of the world and achieving their goals. Three generations. Sixty years. We may as well get used to it because it is not going away.
Still, the American Terrorist Media, (ATM) the regional subsidiary of the World Terrorist Media (WTM) has this fascination with bygone timelines and anniversaries, showing an unwillingness or inability to change their view even as the world around them changes. Sad isn't it?
Meanwhile, the terrorists either grow stronger on our vacillations, or give the appearance that they have done so, with the complicity of the WTM. Take the Hezbollah demonstrations in Lebanon this past week. Nearly a million people, a quarter of the Lebanese population, take to the streets.
Again, so what? That means that three-quarters of the Lebanese populace did not take to the streets. Regardless of the interpretations offered by the ATM and WTM you can bet that a significant percentage of the people at the demonstrations were there because they were told to turn out, not because they wanted to turn out.
Some did it out of belief, of course. And there may be a lot of them. Hezbollah, like centuries of well-organized terrorists before them, is a well-armed brutal organization. But they also have instituted some social programs that the Lebanese government has not be able to accomplish, in all likelihood because of obstructions from groups like Hezbollah that gain prestige if the central government is seen as ineffective.
But that does not mean they are right. It simply means they have figured out a sophisticated method for getting their point across that uses both weapons, and politics, both abetted by their Public Relations agents, the WTM and ATM.
Face it, North Korea's wacko leader Kim Jung Ill can get a million people out to highly orchestrated, highly controlled demonstration in a heartbeat if he wants. How many want to sign up to live under that nut job in a country where the population is decreasing daily due to famine and police state brutality?
Dictators have always been able to muster shows of support. Look at Castro, or Khrushchev, or Mao, or Mussolini or Hitler. But that didn't make their governments and ideologies viable. It just showed they were ruthless.
"Everyone show up at the demo today. Die if you don't." Works every time.
We have some serious issues to face on the international scene. Iraq is not going well for us, and it's going one hell of a lot worse for the citizens of Baghdad. We need to change things and we need to start doing it yesterday.
The NY Times published another leaked memo today, this one written by Donald Rumsfeld just before he was canned as Secretary of Defense. He recommended some bold changes in strategy, some I agree with, others I don't.
But historically I will note that after the Tet Offensive in February, 1968, President Johnson fired Defense Secretary Robert McNamara who had made a mess of the military effort in Vietnam, even though the United States won that offensive with such a lopsided victory that if the communists hadn't been abetted by Walter Cronkite and most of the rest of the American media they probably would have surrendered. While McNamara's successor eventually came to agree with many of the same political positions held by his predecessor, and was in my opinion horribly wrong in approving a cessation of bombing in North Vietnam while we were fighting in the south, the fact was that for the following year the US armed forces accomplished exactly what we had set out to do.
I have a personal stake in this period in history because I was there during the year plus after Tet, and benefited from the change in leadership. Under the new structure the ill-conceived and ill-fated McNamara Line between north and south Vietnam was demolished, the Marine infantry regiments took the field to fight in the manner in which they are trained and both the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army suffered horrendous losses, most of which was not reported on in depth back in the states.
Marine Major General Raymond Davis, who had started his career before World War II, took over command of Marines in northern I Corps, and took the fight to the communists with stunning results. General Davis had been in some of the most vicious fighting in World War II, had been wounded but refused evacuation in Pelilu, was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading the Marine breakout when surrounded by communist Chinese at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, and saw to it that Marines in Vietnam did their job the way it is supposed to be done.
At the end of his tour he would take media personnel to the hilltops where a year earlier the incoming artillery had been nearly non-stop, and declare that they were safer there than on the streets of most large cities in America. This was all but ignored by the press and American politicians, but it happened nonetheless.
So I don't see change as bad, but I do see that making apples to oranges comparisons to bygone eras is meaningless in the real world. However, it can become meaningful if such comparisons are allowed to stand without being challenged and explained.
Since we now are in a time of change, I say, bring on the street fighters. Bring on the generals and colonels who have fought in the streets and alleyways, as well as in the textbook battles of training sessions and war games. We are battling street fighters who have no rules, and adhere to no philosophy other than winning at any cost.
It is time we take them on right where they live and defeat them at their own games. We have the people, the training and the equipment. We need the leaders who are fearless and understand multiple fighting disciplines.
Russia is now expanding its assassination activities to other countries, reaching out to kill its critics in England as well as at home, using advanced nuclear poisoning that can likely be expanded to hit entire populations, not just one target.
Although one person died in England and another is sick from Polonium poisoning, more than 30,000 may have come in contact with it. Think of what might have happened if there were 30,000 targets instead of a few.
As columnist and commentator Charles Krauthammer put it on Fox News Sunday today, "There is no mystery," as to what happened or who did it. Evidence may not lead directly to Russia's leader Vladimir Rasputin, but that despot isn't even trying to cover up his involvement. He is telling the rest of the world 'So What?' And the rest of the world is buying it.
It is time we as a people, our government, and our media start applying a little of the 'So What?' philosophy to our actions and our impressions of those actions. The war in Iraq has gone on longer than WWII. So did the Hundred Years War, but the real goal here is for our great-great grandchildren to live in a free society, and tell their grandchildren that they are descended from people of strength and vision who knew when to fight, and how to differentiate those things that mattered from those that don't.
Sunday, December 03, 2006