Sober Follow-Up: Winning the War on Terror

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Thanks to all who commented on my last post. Good points being brought up.

Our friendly dissenter, Stay Puff Marshmellow Man, asked me how I would use the strategy of attrition in the current situation with the War on Terror.

I replied: "I wouldn't use attrition, I would use annihilation." I then promised to continue that conversation.

You see, the enemy we fight is fanatical and at the current pace they can replace their terrorists and supplies as fast as we can kill them. We are spending too much effort trying to win over public support and too little effort trying to kill bad people.

The ironic thing is, the longer we stay, the more support we lose. A long, foreign occupation would go unsupported in any country.

Some will say the "hearts and minds" game is the only way, but it's not. We've fought an enemy worse than this in the past, and left 100% successful.

I'm speaking of the Japanese, and I can't help but compare the war on terror to fighting them in WWII.

The Japanese in WWII may have been the fiercest enemy America has ever faced. The well funded, well organized, and well equipped Japanese military forces were much worse, in my opinion, than anything we ever faced before or have faced since. But it weren't those factors that made them so was their fanaticism.

What would make a man fly a Kamikaze plane loaded with explosives, to his death, into an enemy ship? How about those Kaiten torpedoes? Why was it Japanese ground troops would fight to their death, with only a handful out of thousands willing to surrender when an entire island had already been taken?

The Japanese religion is Shintoism, which is also a religion that is unique to Japan. Those who practice the faith believe in the divinity of the Japanese emperor. See, in that religion, the emperor isn't god-appointed or god-inspired or a "chosen one", the emperor IS god. The suicide bombers of the Japanese military did it for their god. (The word "kamikaze" itself translates to "god wind" or "divine wind".)

You may see where I am going with this, but Muslim terrorists share religious motivation as a common denominator with the Japanese, if nothing else. I see Japan during that time as a much more formidable enemy because of their military capability. The terrorists we fight today have nowhere near the capability the Japanese did 2/3 of a century ago. We defeated Japan, but I'm afraid the historical lessons we learned from it may have been lost.

Before we nuked the Japanese, our strategy had shifted from attrition to annihilation. We sent a clear message: "Cease and desist or we will kill every last one of you if we have to!" They heard us, and quit.

Now, I am in no way advocating nuking the Middle East, because I don't think it is necessary. I believe nuclear weapons should only be used as a last resort. It was necessary in Japan. It isn't needed in the Middle East, YET.

But we are not sending the extremists we fight the same message we sent the Japanese. They think we can win because we feed and clothe their families almost as soon as we have busted in their doors. As long as they believe this, they will have no problem recruiting new terrorists and keeping the support of the communities that shelter them.

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General Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

What about the fact that Japan had a centralized sort of leadership... they had a guy who could sign a document on a battle ship and end the war. Who in Iraq has that sort of control over the insurgency?

There's also a different psyche, I think. I'm no expert, and this is a giant generalization, but there seems to be this tradition in the Arab world of honor and revenge. Often when you hear Palestinian militants talk about attacks on Israel, they say something like, "We blow up buses to let the Israelis have a taste of what we experience all the time when our family members are killed by Israeli soldiers." They don't say that though terrorizing the Israelis they expect to win some sort of tactical victory, it's just old fashioned revenge, "you hit me I'll hit you back."

so hypothetically (because you brought it up): Do you think that we could 'win' in Iraq if we dropped a few nukes? I'd imagine the whole middle east would go completely insane, and the rest of the world'd be pretty pissed, too.

Also, just how much "annihilation" can we justify? If we were to attack a country with nukes, would they be justified in using those nukes against us? I imagine you'd say yes, because it's a matter of their survival. But we can't ever prove that this war is a matter of our survival. We can argue that if we don't win, this and that and the other thing will happen, but we don't know that for a fact, it's just speculation and hypothesis.

It's like that quote in the sidebar:

"We are in Iraq for security reasons. Period."

'security,' not 'survival'

So we can imagine how losing in Iraq would have bad consequences for us, but we can't really say with any certainty that winning in Iraq is a matter of our country's survival the same way we could if, say, Russia had invaded us during the cold war. Given this uncertainty, how much annihilation can we justify?

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

just to clarify:

when I said, "If we were to attack a country with nukes, would they be justified in using those nukes against us?"

I meant, "what if we were to attack a country that possessed nukes, like China or North Korea,"

NOT "what if we used nukes to attack a country..."

Had Enough said:

Now that we all know there was no true basis for this war and there are over 3,100 (surpassed 9/11 dead) dead US soldiers and well over 100,000 dead Iraq citizens it makes us all think hard.

I think that as bad as Saddam was he was the only one that could keep control in Iraq. Sometimes parents must resort to "tough love." and other harsh means of control or rehab.

In Iraq we are dealing with ancient cultures and religious extemists that have been at war for centuries and I don't think we (the US) are going to bring these people onto the 21st century.

At the same time we forced ourselves into their country to bring down the only person who controlled them with a iron fist. Now 4 yrs later most still do not have water, electric, money, jobs, doctors, etc.and they are being blown up daily.

It is amazing to me that bush went to such extremes to please his daddy.

It is equally disturbing that Communist China is financing this war. Clinton should have been impeached when he first got chummy with them.

China is becoming much to involved in this country. They are working 24/7 to lead the world in business, military, maufacturing, trade, construction, etc. and they own our debt.

No matter how you look at it, it is disturbing.

Where is bin laden? Maybe golfing with OJ! If he was no one would ever notice because this administration has gone to great lengths
to take the focus off him.

I'm also sick of jorge referring to the US as a democracy. If he knew his history, he would know that the fore-fathers formed a republic because they said a democracy doesn't work.

If we had to go there, then every available soldier should have gone and immediately started bringing order instead of letting the people go crazy and start destroying and fighting each other from the beginning. This dis-order was an invitation to every delinquent and terrorist in the East

Those months when the decent law abiding citizens were begging for police and some kind of law enforcement and order were crucial.

jacob said:

The lack of central leadership is a good question. The leadership is to be found at the point where the checks are written. Unfortunatley the answer to that problem really only takes us further down the annilation path.

This is a grim discussion. I have no desire to see us engage in Total War as we did during WWII. The problem is I see us as in the end having little choice. We have two paths.

Either we become ruthless now, and proceed to a WWII style campaign against those who fund the Iraqi insurrection (Syria and Iran). With a total destruction of the infrastructure of these countries followed with a invasion and conquest. The trouble in this route is we probably do not have the troops to do this. A draft will be needed because we will need 5 to 10 more conventional divisions.

The Russians under the Czar's and then Stalin pacified the Kazakh, Uzbeck and other central Asian peoples using annilation methods. It was not until they ran into the Afghani's who received help from the US that their methods did not succeed. So if the invader is ruthless enough the problem is solvable, hideously so.

Or, we become even more ruthless later. With NO toe hold in the ME we will have no choice but to use nukes when the holocoust denier in Iran puts one into NY, L.A. or DC via suitcase or cargo crate, with total plausible deniability. At this point the entire Islamic world must become the target.

Two choices, win now or win at greater cost later.

The origens of this conflict are coincidental with the founding of Fatah. A KGB brain child. and Wahibism a spawn of Saudi Arabia. Hindsight shows we (the world) were going in this direction for a long time. I am afraid we will have to wait a little longer for the end of history.

Annhilation, maybe; or a dictator friendly to the U.S. Maybe a little of both. If the whole point is U.S. security this "democracy" shindig was a misconceived notion.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


"So if the invader is ruthless enough the problem is solvable, hideously so."

if that's the case, then like HE said, why did we oust Saddam in the first place? He was already doing a fine job solving Iraq's problems through hideous ruthlessness. You really think it's worth the cost in gold and souls to replace Saddams ruthlessness with our own?

Saddam was always concerned first and foremost with his own political survival. We could have endorsed his ruthlessness, buddies up to him, put him in our pocket. Said, "We'll buy all our oil from you, Saddamy ol' pal. Now, who's your favorite western superpower?" And now you want to control Iraq through ruthlessness?? If you want to play that game, you've already lost.

And if you want a WWII-style campaign to take over the middle east, than you'd have to be casting us in the role of the nazis, sad but true.

At some point you've got to say that it isn't worth it. Like I said, we can't ever prove that this war was a matter of our survival. We just used our imaginations and assumed the worse. But if you can imaging a doomesday scenario if we loose in Iraq, than you sure as hell ought to be able to envision one resulting from the sort of psychotic expansion of the GWOT that you're endorsing.

Let's assume, as you said, that we have two choices: win in Iraq by expanding the war into syria and iran or loose in Iraq.

If we expand the war, at some point popular sentiment will be so strong against us in the ME that our tentative friends (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) will have to turn against us. At some point India would be all, "WTF?" and China'd be all "Whaaa?!" and the EU would get pressure from their constituents to pass a non-aggression pact,
and the next thing you know we're at war with the world, only this wouldn't a romantic, lost generation james dean movie kind of at war with the world, but a serious "holy fuc#ing sh*t we're at war with the whole goddamned world" kind of deal, which could potentially be a worse case than if we just loose in Iraq, and would definitely be more costly.

If what you say is true, and we do only have two options, than we are fast approaching the point where the likely outcome of winning = the likely outcome of loosing. It's possible we've already reached that point. It's possible that, because of what winning would require, our best bet for survival would be not winning...

but you'd probably rather go out in a blaze of glory. Just like in the movies, eh Sundance?

No Relation said:

Thanks for your comments. You've all had valid points, except for Had Enough, who somehow managed to turn our talk on strategy into a defense of a fascist Muslim dictator.

The central leadership issue I think is the most valid point here. True, that's one one thing the Japanese had that the terrorists we're fighting now do not. However, the surrender of the Japanese was not the result of the ws the result of the leadership following the collective broken will of the people.

The enemy we're fighting now does not fear us. I'll say it again, we're working too hard to win the hearts and minds and not hard enough to kill the ones who want to kill us. You've heard the bin Laden "paper tiger" quote. Maybe that quote hasn't been verified, but IT IS what they think of us.

I've been there, I know. I'm tired of holding back. We can win this, we just don't want to.

jacob said:

The argument had two prongs. I mixed the two a bit. So let me try again. As an aside, IF we were to start doing the burning the villages to the ground thing, along with shooting down the civilians we would at that point be a lot like the Russians or Nazis. Now back to the main points.

1. Iran and Syria are providing men, expertise, and MONEY to fuel the mess in Iraq. If we make it expensive for them to do so, then then the Iraqi's might stand a chance of seeing more peaceful streets. It does not cost them currently to make things hard for the Iraqi's and us.

Terrorism, like all other forms of war takes LOTS of money. The sure fire way to divert the Iranians and Syrians attention are tanks on THEIR roads. I am pointing out the most effective form of ATTENTION gathering, not a policy change. I pointed out above we do not have the troops for this.

1.a The next best ATTENTION getter is air strikes. This is actually feasible.

2. In the past, the Russians, Germans, Japanese, the Mongols and others have demonstrated the manner in which one can subdue a populace. It is hideous and brutal. This is not what I am recommending either.

1.a might be the only road ahead that may avert Nukes. And it is no garantee.

With that I conclude my rehasing of my two points above.

As for the world going WTF. I have been reading the British, FRench and German papers for the past 4 years. 'WTF?!!' was here 4 years ago. Interestingly enough I agree with you regarding China, but not for the reasons you imply. As for India, you are dead wrong. The only reason Pakistan is not the new western frontier of India is because of the US. Mushariff knows this, which is why he behaves as he does. Russia is our enemy already.

As for leaving Saddam in power there is a big difference. Since I am not advocating the annihilation of the Iraqi's your point is moot. But I will say this, Saddam did:
1. posture himself to appear to have WMD
2. train terrorists, he had facilities and actual terrorists in country
3. Sent money to the families of terrorists
4. sent money to the UN and succeeded in totally corrupting the place

Reasons 1 and 2 alone were enough. 3 and 4 are just insult atop the injury. The fact that he is reponsible for the deliberate deaths of over a Million Iraqi's is another issue.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


Let me just say that, if we were to use nukes in this war, we would be forfeiting any moral high ground we still hold.

nukes can only be a last resort when your country is under attack and your way of life is facing extinction. since any claims that winning this war is vital to our nation's survival are speculative at best, we cannot justify the use of nukes. We have to ask how much expansion of this war can we justify.

A wall of tanks, soldiers, and spy drones along the iran and syrian borders seems reasonable, but once you start bombing and rolling tanks across the borders of other sovereign nations the story changes

So maybe we have three options:

1. cut and run
2. stay in Iraq for the next 20 years
3. expand the war to new countries

as far as national security goes, expanding the war sounds like a, "here goes nothin'" kind of strategy. If we were engaged in wars that we started with four countries in the ME at the same time, I think we as a nation would be less safe then we are right now.

"As for the world going WTF. I have been reading the British, FRench and German papers for the past 4 years. 'WTF?!!' was here 4 years ago."

...this goes to show that even the western world is on edge with regards to our current ME policy. A radical expansion into two more countries, a US vs. the ME showdown, could very likely be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I think at some point the world would say, "ya know what, the US has gone too far with this thing."

If the only way to win is to start world war 3 and hope we come out on top in the end, that sounds like a much bigger gamble than if we had simply done nothing at all in response to 9/11.

So maybe the best thing security wise is to just stay in Iraq forever. Or at least a few generations. We'd be bankrupt in the end, and the world would be poised for a shift of the power balance to Europe and East Asia, but at least we'd still have our health, and our dignity.

Kevin said:

Could somebody please explain the long-term purpose for going into Iraq as part of the larger strategic plan for the US and why now was the chosen strategic opportunity?

I got lost somewhere along the line between 1992 and now.

I don't get any sense that it had anything to do with the "war on terror". Yes, terrible things were(are) going on there, ok. Same in Sudan, Darfur, Congo, et al.

Certainly there is something noble implied by removing a brutal dictator, don't get me wrong. But it's never been a good enough reason to attempt it without it serving a dual (or tri-fold) purpose.

It's never been any mystery that we take what we want a. because we can b. for a push in a broader direction and because c. whoever is king of the hill is king of the hill, nuff said.

Is it agreed upon here or not that we were at least secretly hoping we'd get a chance to go in during the tenure of Bush, et al? Haven't they always agreed that there needed to be a new world order? That the US needed beefing up in the minds of the world, that the Pres needed to be given more power, that the UN needed to be cast aside for it's lack of bite and susceptibility to corruption, etc. etc.?

Haste makes waste.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


here's a letter that PNAC (neo-cons dun dun dun) wrote to Clinton in 1998. It says it all, in a way...

also, note the signatures!

No Relation said:

C' I am trying to talk about why and how we can win the War on Terror, and here are you people still saying there's no way we can win and bitching the same old arguments that we never should have gone in the first place.

We're there. Do you want us to win, or do you people just want to use it as another excuse to hate America. What's wrong with you all?

Kevin said:

NR, I don't think you're being completely accurate. Firstly, I don't hate the US. Maybe the definition of "win" is causing the problem.

Secondly, I'm thinking about the solution, too, I'm just trying to get my bearings on the long-term goals.

Great letter, by the way SPMM.

jacob said:

OK. If Iran arranges to nuke us. We then just say "okey dokey, please don't do that again?" I am not advocating first use, but retaliation has to stay on the table, otherwise we will get hit for sure. Imaheadjob is eying the great Satan as we type. Convential force cannot defeat nukes, that arrow must be available.

One bit of good news for our side, the Iraqi's have closed their borders with Iran and Syria. Finally. Duh.

As for your three options. Option one is NOT an option, it is defeat. It will not end our troubles with Islam, it will only embolden the Jihadists/Islamists what ever you want to call the murdering bastards.

Expanding the war is hardly a "here goes nothing action." Cutting off ones foe from his source of men/material/gold is how wars have been one from the dawn of time.

In guerrila warfare there have only been three successful options historically. I went over the first, which is what I will call the Russian model, this was explained previiously, and is not something I want us to engage in. The second is the Burmese model which is fight em' where you find em' and wait them out approach (our current strategy). The last is the Greek model which adds in the twist of economic "cut em off from their supplies" route to the Burmese model, hopefully where we are going.

It took 20+ years for Burma to wait out the guerrilas, it took 5 for the Greeks. Don't know how long it will go on in Iraq, I just hope the moonbat wing of the Democrat party (note the capital 'D') does not get its way and we cut off funding to the troops. This will require the help of 8 gutless Republican Senators, which given the performance of both parties the last 8 years is hardly a stretch.

We have NO happy choices, but though it is unpopular the Neo-Con (dun dun dun) idea of changing the ME is in the end the only long term solution. It won't bankrupt us Marshmallow, the economy is doing real well. Our GDP growth and unemployment rates are as good or better than they were under Clinton. The chief difference is that MSM refuses to acknowlede this.

Hopefully closing the border with Iran and Syria will mean a wall of troops and tanks on the border. A nice image for our borders as well come to think of it.

jacob said:

As for WTF, let em complain. Look at France. They are loosing control of their own country. They are not in our corner anyway, and they have been doing everything possible to spite the us past 15 years anyhow. So what if they do not support us, they already are against us.

Germany is dealing harshly with it Islamic nut jobs, so if anything, it will be a wash. Britain is at this point a shackey partner, going wobbly. I do not know what will happen there.

The Spanish are out, but so what? Italy is another shakey partner. It is on its way out anyhow, they might leave sooner, please explain the impact of loosing the Italians SP.

Considering that we are dealing with containing a nuclear armed Islam, I am willing to lose the popularity contest. The stakes are toooooo high to look at polls.

jacob said:

Please note Marshmallows Blase' attiude toward option one, "cut and run". Loosing is no big deal. People do not get the implications of loosing. They think we either:
a. deserve to loose
b. its just a political head ache for the Republicans
c. will end the war and bring peace
d. have not bothered to think it through at all

I consider the ramifications to be HUGE. Unfortunately the west is dying, in its own vomit. Mark Steyn is addressing this continuously. Unfortunately no one is really listening.

jacob said:

"Secretely wish for a new world order". Wow. I was not hoping for a new world anything. The world came crashing through our front door, and killed 3000 civilians.
a. Because they could.
b. Envy
c. Some nut job Iman (Spell that Islamic Bigot) told them to
d. the tenents of the Islamic religion encourage conquest

Your statement was is akin to FDR wanting to defeat Germany and Japan so we could establish an American hegemony throughout the world. Does that hold water?

We are right now, as you pointed out, at the top of the heap. We are there not by design, but by circumstance. We, as a people would prefer to be left alone. But, human nature will not let us be, and the world has become to small by far for us to hide behind our oceans.

No Relation said:

Well put, Jacob. That's the type of discussion I hope for with posts like this. Somehow the people who have already given up manage to fall back to Cindy Sheehan talking points every time.

Let me get back on topic and clarify something. Strategic annihilation is not the equivalent of war crimes. It doesn't consist of nuking civilian populations or rape and pillage.

jacob said:

The west does not realise that its back is to the wall. For there is nowhere else to go. Either we remember our heritage proudly, warts and all, or go quielty into that good night.

stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


I feel like you're beginning to misunderstand my main point: that winning at any cost could potentially be more costly than "losing."

I'll reply to the rest of what you said later. for now, let me just say that when I said "3 options" I meant options in a literal sense. I did not say, "three good options," see?

when I said, "here goes nothin'" I meant, we don't know where expanding the war would lead us (WWIII?) We'd be jumping down the rabbit hole (spider hole?)

I don't think I'm being blase about "cutting and running," while it is, literally, an option, I do not think it is an appropriate choice. On the other hand, you are underestimating the impact of a world turned against us.

stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


First, I have not 'given up,' and I don't particularly care for cindy sheehan.

on "If Iran arranges to nuke us..."

yes, retaliation is an important part of the nuclear equation. I guess I was talking about the first strike.

About europe, I don't care about the opinions of the french, or the germans, or the spanish. What we need to look out for is the EU. Some folks in the EU just don't like America, some thing we've gone too far with this GWOT, and some would like to see europe return to it's former position as the cultural/economic heart and soul of the west. All of this adds up to a continent that's indifferent (at best) about whether the US stays at the 'top of the heap'

at the same time there's China on the rise, and, in a more passive way (for the time being) India. So here's a "winning at any cost could potentially be more costly than "losing."" scenario:

China and Europe would both like to be the next king of the hill, and they both sense that their chance is near. If we were to expand this war into a region-wide deal, we should expect the EU or China to make a move by saying something like, "This aggression will not stand! The world must come together [under our leadership!] to stand up to the belligerent policies of the US, which have already destabilized an entire region of the world, and if gone unchecked will lead us to a world war!"

it wouldn't have to be True, it's just rhetoric designed to catapult them into center stage as global superpower. And before you know it, our tentative allies would get the idea that there's no future in being our friend and realign themselves with the country that they perceived to be the next superpower.

We see this "Follow me as I stand up to the evil US" game being played by Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinajad. But these guys are only seeking to be the BMOC in their corners of the world. The EU and China have more global ambitions, they're ready to seize what they feel is their rightful place as king of the hill, and (like our own invasion of Iraq) they only need an excuse.

This all sounds crazy. So does, the "emboldened terrorists destroy America one sky scraper at a time" scenario. So does the "we just leave and everything will be fine" scenario.

All of our 'options' lead to unwanted eventualities. But it seems like so far we've done absolutely nothing to second-guess the guys we're fighting. We've never thought ahead more than the next move, (one could even argue that we've played into their hands) and this is where it's landed us. So before we go on saying, "let's expand the war to a few more countries; it worked for the greeks!" let's make sure we consider the potential consequences of our actions.

No Relation said:

Poofy...Perhaps my biggest complaint about President Bush is his inability to "sell" his policy to those who oppose him, both at home and abroad. Of course, with people like Kerry and Hillary who throw their support for people and ideas around based on ever changing public opinion, it's almost impossible to get political support at home.

And you can consider the potential consequences of our actions all you want. Just don't forget to consider the possible consequences of inaction.

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