I am breaking my usual code of political silence this evening to quote a man I didn’t agree with concerning his historical advice during the Cuban Missile Crisis...Yet in WWII he was decisive and helped save thousands of American lives, along with backing of other leaders’ decisions among the civilian and military hierarchy near the end of the war with Japan.
The topic of “collateral damage” has been raised in many discussions about modern precision warfare the past few days. The argument is as a military force the U.S. and its allies should only kill combatants according to pundits. Yet 70 years ago and before, we held no such belief. Entire populations were combatants from Germany, Japan to Italy. I believe, unfortunately, if a nation goes to war the aim is to completely destroy the enemy on their territory before they destroy our nation.
Gen. Curtis Lemay stated, “I’ll tell you what war is about, you’ve got to kill people, and when you’ve killed enough they stop fighting.”
We have been taught in the modern world, war is a limited engagement where only combatants should be targets. Our enemies, however, have never followed that rule throughout history. (I remember the children flown into buildings on September 11, 2001 as an example or the thousands sent to their death in nations around the globe during all wars and conflicts - particularly by the Nazi regime in WWII.) Thus, as Americans we believe we hold a “moral” high ground among our allies and enemies.
There is no “morality” in war...our enemy kill us and we them, it is some sad dark corner of human nature, ancient and embedded in our evolution.
Therefore, if a building with ISIS houses a combatant, their family and others - no precision weapon will end the modern conflict we are engaged. Holding back on deploying weapons for fear of global consternation by destroying non-combatants, in my opinion, is an affront to those asked to fly drones, fighter/bomber aircraft or fight in the fields and upon the high seas.
Ask the survivors (or read about the lost) in places like Verdun, Warsaw, Stalingrad, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, etc. ...If CNN or Fox was there to view the carnage of fire bombings / nuclear strikes and human slaughter while real time “Tweeting” within seconds - what would be the result today? The instant “theatrical reports” sent by satellite images and reports for more ratings and advertisements beamed to New York or Atlanta news headquarters while thousands stormed the beaches of Normandy or Iwo Jima, would likely have ended the American will to fight. In essence, we would have lost the war in the court of public opinion.
Everyone loses in war – the sad yet critical question we must consider as a nation is - are we willing to stomach what needs to be done to truly destroy our enemy? Thus the ultimate moral question.... In war, men, women, children, elderly, and infants die. In our nation we have observed this since our birth. Are we willing to do what is needed, to kill and destroy an enemy that only desires to do the same to us without regard for human decency and moral principal, yet for a higher, albeit warped religious calling they fervently believe?
We either fully commit to place the entire nation on a war stance or go about our business until Ak-47 rifles fire bullets through Central Park, Washington’s Metro, Disney Land, Universal Theme Parks, or the grand malls and public spaces of America. Until explosive vests detonate outside our sports arenas - such as Daytona 500 for the South or Super Bowl for the entire country.... we will likely hesitate. Is that what it will take to ignite the nationalism needed during this time? Our war, indeed our children’s war, will be unlike few we have witnessed in history. Acting now with decisive blows to our foes on their territory is paramount or we will become known as the ostrich heads of history, buried in the sand upon the blood from some an archaic enemy philosophy.
Men, women and children are going to die in warfare and that is an absolute truth. We have tied the hands of our forces and removed them from victories too soon, evoking a devastating national price due to political promises and failed so called military - political solutions.
Winston Churchill stated, “Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.” These words, in my view, should not be ignored. History should not repeat itself once more due to our lessons learned over centuries of conflict.
We now stand at the precipice of survival, waiting for strikes to come like venomous snakes crawling among us in the dark, where digitally communicated plots are easily disguised, and an “army” is a mere 10 to 20 souls who can shut down a nation and create mass panic.
The ultimate goal of this tirade is to say – we must look back at the lessons of total war, perhaps now too late and impossible. Yet the moral high ground is the now a deadly, stagnant trench. We must find some balance to fight a new kind of total global war. We must fight with all our resources as uncomfortable as they may appear to the mass media, politicians and public opinion polls.
Leadership must ignore the constant news cycle and make very difficult decisions that may lead to the loss of non-combatants. Yet I ask, has our nation and allies just this month, not lost hundreds of non-combatants and combatants to the enemy? We must ask ourselves if we truly want to win this modern war – are we willing as a global coalition to do what is necessary, as vile and dark as it may seem – to inflict a final decisive blow to our enemy? Action, not words are needed now, before we sink into an abyss far greater than that of September 11, 2001.
We should fall back upon the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt spoken on December 8, 1941 in his request for a Declaration of War – “I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the un-bounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.”
Some thoughts in a world still full of chaos…