Do We Want to Win?

Larry Kudlow has a piece up called If We Want to Destroy ISIS, We Can Destroy ISIS. This raises the question: Are we willing to destroy ISIS? Do we want to win?

Here’s what winning a war looks like:Atlanta 1864That’s a picture of Atlanta in 1864. Here’s what Berlin and Hiroshima looked like in 1945.1945

In the wars we’ve won, the United States crushed our enemies. We killed them and laid waste to their countries until we destroyed their will to continue fighting. Even if we knew how to go about doing that in the present circumstance with ISIS, I’m not sure we are willing to do the hard work of inflicting sufficient pain of our enemy to win.

17 thoughts on “Do We Want to Win?

  1. That depends entirely on your definition of “winning,” I suppose.

    To my knowledge, no American policymaker or pundit has suggested committed even the minimal troop resources that the United States did in Afghanistan (120,000) or the last Iraq war (160,000 at the peak of the surge.) And the current war involves a great deal more real estate.

    One of the problems of a low force commitment is that you cannot employ a “clear, hold, build” strategy, and effective counterinsurgency is almost impossible. Then you wind up having to “liberate” the same chunks of land four or five rimes, which goes a long way in eroding American political support.

    But let’s say it works. Stranger things have happened. ISIS controls mostly Sunni tribal territory. Who do you turn it over to when you “win?” The Alawites in Damascus? The Shia in Baghdad? If you kill this set of violent retards to only do that, it’s obvious that you’l have to go back and fight another set of violent retards, probably in less than two years.

    Unlike the Confederates, the Sunni Arabs aren’t going to stand in formation in the middle of a field and fight because they’d be nuts to. And unlike the examples of Germany and Japan, I don’t see an appetite to kill everyone of fighting age, so that an insurgency can be avoided. .

    The last time there was an American president who had any idea how anything worked, half a million troops were deployed for the relatively simple goal of evacuating Iraq from Kuwait. To conquer a much larger piece of territory and hold it until it can be divided along sectarian lines to achieve a permanent political solution, I figure that you’d need even more troops than that.

    From what I’ve seen out of most Western politicians and media types, their definition of “winning” isn’t radically different than Charlie Sheen’s: It feels good for a time, but it’s hugely expensive and doesn’t do much for your long-term health.

    Maybe I should restrict myself to commenting about Schmalfeldt …..

  2. Not so much. We would only need to put troops on the ground if there is something on the ground we needed to protect. In the case of Kuwait, there were Kuwaitis. We have also assumed most Iraqis and Afghans to be innocent civilians deserving of protection.

    We chose not to treat the civilians of Nagasaki and Hiroshima that way.

    • No, but you did choose to occupy them for several years afterward, which is troop-intensive, even when everybody capable of resisting is already dead. And it seems to me that there were plans afoot to invade the home islands before President Truman decided to go nuclear.

      This is why I don’t particularly like World War II analogies. They only fit in the broadest possible way. The Second World War required mobilization of some sixteen million service men. If I’m not mistaken, the United States can’t currently even deploy even a million without the entire structure crumbling within months.

      If you look at ISIS in isolation, it’s pretty easy, even though it carries the potential of Vietnam or the last Iraq War. Looking at the broader problem of Islamic extremism, you get something else entirely. That gives you a geographical area that stretches from the western Mediterranean, across the Middle East, up through the Hindu Kush mountains before finally stopping in former Soviet Central Asia, lets say Mongolia’s western border. That’s the map you get from rhetorical mission statements about “destroying violent extremism.”

      Can you play whack-a-mole with these idiots? Sure, but know that you’ll be doing it until the end of time.

      Another thing I’ve observed is that, of the current candidates for president, the most aggressive is Lindsay Graham, and his deployment projections seem to cap off at about 10,000. And that’s ridiculous. It suggests that you can pacify a larger area larger than Afghanistan or Iraq with slightly more than a twentieth of the force.

      In my reading of history, Americans generally don’t do well in wars that last over four years or wind up with strategic over-reach. After four years, domestic political support rapidly evaporates, although it can happen much more quickly if you decide to race to the Yalu River.

      The military necessity is dictated mostly by the political rhetoric, and Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that the two are rather far apart. Something has to give somewhere.

      From 9/11 onward, I haven’t seen a strategy. I’ve seem a bunch of bumper-sticker slogans and campaign commercials, but not a strategy that matches the rhetoric.

      • None of which is wrong, but misses my point. ISIS isn’t a country, nor is it capable of rebuilding the infrastructure in the territory under its control. We don’t need to control that territory, we just need to level every bit of that infrastructure, and destroy every vehicle in that territory, which is entirely within our capability, if we choose not to consider the civilians in that territory. If they move forces, we drop bombs wherever they go, until they are either dead or undetectable.

  3. Getting rid of ISIS would be great, but the real enemy is Islam. An ISIS replacement would soon make its appearance. There is no easy solution, but stopping all Islamic immigration into the west would be an intelligent first step for our own protection. Containment of Islam might be the best strategy. Keep them out of the West, and keep ourselves out of the Middle East.

    • A reminder, France has nuclear weapons. They could easily glass over Raqqah if they really wanted to. But they will expect someone else to do the heavy work instead.

    • From what I’ve seen, the United States (meaning Republicans AND Democrats) want other people to their war for them, but haven’t really considered all the moving parts.

      This “regional boots on the ground” strategy (if it can even be called that) ignores that the Turks, Kurds, Iranians and Saudis are all working at cross-purposes with one another because they all have different national interests.

      The domestic legitimacy of the House of Saud relies exclusively on the Whabbis of the northern kingdom, which is the ideological birthplace of ISIS and al Qaeda. The Kurds would very much like a national homeland, while the Turks prefer they didn’t because that would include about third of their territory. All of the above want to stop Shiite hegemony, while Tehran would very much like not to be overrun and murdered by Wahabite Sunni psychotics.

      The United States expects a united fighting force to come from that?

  4. We don’t want to win.

    Our political and media classes aren’t willing to inflict pain on anyone without an R or Tea Party after their name, much less crush actual enemies. So you can forget about the hard work part. For that matter, we won’t even name our enemies, much less call them enemies.

    Far too many people have it in their heads that wars can be won now without killing people and breaking things, plus a whole lot of collateral damage. All the talk of surgical strikes and precision weapons have convinced a lot of people that wars aren’t messy anymore. Plus most people’s idea of war comes from movies and TV. Sorry cupcake, reality doesn’t work that way. ‘Collateral damage’ is a vital part of breaking an enemy’s will to fight. It’s not enough to kill a boatload of combatants, you also have to destroy those who carry the dream and transmit it to the next generation. That’s ugly, messy and horrible – in other words, war. Societies that won’t do that guarantee endless fighting because the enemy is never defeated, merely beaten in the current round.

    I don’t know how to get around this problem in a democratic society. I do know the special snowflakes and safe spaces crowd aren’t up to the task.

    • How much suffering are you willing to have the government inflict on you to win?

      It seems to me that accomplishing something as vague as “defeating violent extremism” over a geographic territory that encompasses seven or eight time zones by military means is impossible absent a draft and perhaps a full wartime economy.

      Other American policies are designed to discourage the Iranians, Russians and Chinese from acting outside their borders, so they can’t be much help. And the other regional powers distrust each other more than they do Washington, which is really saying something.

      How about personal freedoms at home, which foreign wars rarely do much to advance? A big part of official Washington believes that it’s okay for folks on the no-fly list to buy automatic weapons, presumably because they think that the U.S government sucks are homeland security. It logically follows that it shouldn’t then be given access to all of your communications data, but I’ve largely given up trying to talk to Americans about that.

      I’m a big admirer of the United States. But in my studies of it, it’s clear that they only accomplish great things when they’re unified. I’m not aware of a single major war that they’ve won by using the enemy to be each other over the head.

  5. Before we can hope to win against Isis (Islam), we will probably have to win against the Enemy Within (the media, academia, mentally-disordered liberals). And I don’t think even this war can be won without Real Americans being willing to break things (thick traitorous skulls).

  6. The hardest part for most is the wholesale destruction that is required. Military leaders/planners look to utterly destroy all military targets (units, equipment, lines-of-communications, etc) while also destroying the populations will to support and fight. You continue to take the fight to them and never let up until they completely surrender.

    Look at the Arc Light and Rolling Thunder air campaigns during the Vietnam War. They were highly effective bombing campaigns, and in the Rolling Thunder strikes forced North Vietnam back to the Paris peace talks. The only problem is we stopped after a few weeks and really didn’t go fully after their infrastructure. Certain targets were taken off the table, including legitimate targets in Hanoi and shipping vessels in the local harbors unloading military supplies.

    I’m not saying that air will win the war as you always need boots on the ground to actually own it. But there are areas cities) that can be totally removed from the face of the earth and people will remember what happened there. After the first Gulf War, most of us vets knew we would be back in about 10 years. Gen Powell’s decision to suspend operations after seeing the “road of death” on the news was wrong. Take television from the battlefield and limit the exposure. Not because we’re trying to deceive the public, but we are there to defeat the enemy’s capability to continue to conduct war. It’s messy, it’s bloody and people will die. We just try to make sure it’s the other guy that’s dying for their cause.

    If and when you “unleash the dogs of war” it should come with an understanding that we are going to fight until the end and they no longer have the capability to conduct war . Don’t place limitations on the operations. That includes the so-called hospitals and schools that also house militants and equipment. We try to limit civilian casualties but sometimes it is not possible. If idiots like the U.N. allow their local staff to harbor them, they should not be surprised if its destroyed.

    As for the the Muslims in America. If they believe in Sharia Law, please move to a country that supports that system. Until then, we have the Constitution, embrace it. Damn, I could say the same for liberal – move to mother Russia or China, we don’t need you. Though I think North Korea would be a better fit. I would say Cuba, but that’s too close.

    Sorry about the long rant.

  7. Close the borders. Withdraw. Enough guards on the borders to stop everyone from entering illegally. I don’t care if that requires a watch tower every mile.

    Refugees? Here’s an idea. Man the eff up and fight. Fight for your land, your women, your children, your ‘religion’ with its Telephone Game interpretations.

    None of this will happen. The inmates run the asylum. “Bruce, I mean Caitlyn, needs to use the girl’s room at school because even though he has a penis he’s a girl.” “Animals should have the same rights as humans.” “Police departments should be armed like National Guard units.” “A police dog died so lets have a $30,000 funeral for it.” “I flip burgers to support myself and my three kids. Give me $15 an hour.” “There is no way that guy who is from an area being overrun by extremists could possibly have fake documents.”

    I know. I’m a bigot. I hate the poor. I perpetuate traditional gender roles. I hate the mentally ill. Animals? Don’t even get me started on how much I loathe those things.

    Islamic terrorists want to kill us or convert us but I am the enemy this country has chosen to fight. I’m a white, heterosexual, formerly middle class male and I ‘m getting damned tired of having every single thing I say or do questioned.

    We. Are. So. Screwed.

    Close the borders? Just launch the nukes. It’ll be faster and end the same way. Maybe the cockroaches can do better.

  8. The world has entered the era of Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW). The U.S. Is using 2nd and 3rd generation tactics.
    [Click here to order from Amazon—wjjh]

  9. In the event of a victory by the west, we should worry about who will eventually take over control of the region now called The Islamic State. Should the west, and the saner people of the world lose, we should also worry about who will control the region currently called Europe.

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