Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Pen vs The Sword or, the Willing vs the Unwilling

In the ongoing discussion about the validity of the use of COIN doctrine in an ideologically monolithic society, there is no end to the number of people willing to join the conversation. In general, I have no problem with that as long as they are equally ready to place their collective butts where their collective theses 'meet the sand'. Enter one Nadia Schadlow. While I certainly hold no specific disdain for academics I have no use for those who try to sway the kind of public policy that will; I repeat WILL have a detrimental effect on the very lives of our Warriors. I have even less use for those who are so willing to steep the odds against our Warriors while they insulate themselves from the cost of their arrogant presumptions.

Ms Schadlow wrote a piece in the Armed Forces Journal entitled 'The False Dichotomy' about the ongoing discussion about the effectiveness of counterinsurgency doctrine in Afghanistan. Her main point is that the discussion is not based on the reality that small wars of this kind are the likely venue for the future. Her argument then states and supports the idea that the most logical answer is the 'holisitc' approach employed by COIN. Of course her entire essay lacks any discussion of the enemy, the people or the insidious nature of the ideology that binds them all together. It also lacks any recognition of the fact that the government and the people are tied to the 'insurgency' (spelled Taliban) by blood, shared history and shared ideology all at the expense of the Warriors who are forced to perform within the COIN paradigm. Her entire essay is generic in nature and assumes a flat playing field - all things being otherwise equal. This is exactly the kind of simplistic logic that has us in the position we now find ourselves in.

Herschel Smith just wrote a piece in which he highlights the efforts of a contractor in Afghanistan using his passion for the rodeo to help mend fences and deflate stresses among both American and Afghan Warriors. The contractor tells a story of conditions that have become less stable and more dangerous; hardly a glowing review for the much touted COIN. In addition Stratfor released an assessment by Maj. Gen. Afzal Imam, the Afghan army's operations chief, who listed the areas still under militant (again, spelled Taliban) control; the areas are as follows: Kamdesh district, Nuristan province; Nika district, Paktika province; Nawa district, Ghazni province; Khak-e-Afghan district, Zabol province; Ghorak and Mianshin districts, Kandahar province; and Baghran Washer and Desho districts, Helmand province. Not the most glowing review for a doctrine the good Doctor, the President and upper echelon military claim to be the holy grail in such an environment - especially considering the amount of blood and treasure we have spent trying to secure some of these regions utilizing COIN.

At some point, someone, will decide that a legitimate review of this enemy, the government in Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan, their combined history, their 1400 year old religious ideology, the Russian experience, the British experience, the literature of Kipling, the after action reports of the current engagements, the testimony of troops returning from the sand box et al, will probably make sense. The problem is that by the time they decide that, the politically expedient decision will already have been made and the brush spreading the paint of deceit will already have drawn a picture of 'success' for the American voter to consider when they go to the polling booths in 2012. And no one will be held responsible for such a sloppy assessment of the enemy, the people, the history, the ideology or the family ties that bind the entirety of that land together against us. In the end, someone will finally determine what we have known right along, that the original Commanders Intent was the only legitimate mission and the only legitimate strategy, was the one that would have killed as many of the enemy as possible.

In the end, leaving that country could have been many years back. The plight of the Afghan people, will continue to be the responsibility of those who have the most to gain or lose; the people of Afghanistan. Freedom isn't free; the Afghan people need to learn that lesson. Those seeking office in the American system of government need to learn that their knee-jerk reactions to failing strategies eventually cost lives.

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Monday, September 13, 2010

To Burn, or Not to Burn...

I have never had much patience for anyone who acts out of frustration and then in a way that is 'unprofitable'. Back in the 60's and 70's Hippies burned American Flags, spit on returning Warriors, and generally acted like spoiled brats without the ability to reason. As the years have passed, some of these practices have done little but incite disgust, deliver personal insult and otherwise alienate the very people they were intended to influence. I know I take it as a personal insult when someone desecrates the flag. I am somewhat less insulted by the burning of the Bible largely because it is an act of disobedience against the omniscient, omnipotent God who is fully capable of retribution. It is his word that is being abused by the unrepentant - and at their eternal peril.

So it was curious to me that so much fury could be raised by the mere suggestion that a small group of individuals might burn a few Korans. Here is my point by point take on the subject:

1. Mat 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Based on this command it strikes me that doing something that you know will insult someone and thereby remove the possibility of speaking to them, places you in violation of the command. After all; even Islamists are to be reached out to with the Gospel. This Pastor and his congregation certainly have the right to do this (a right the President seems conflicted about), but as Believers should have refrained.

2. General Petraeus, President Obama and the entire administration have bent over backwards to accommodate the Afghan people, government and apparently, 'repentant Taliban' and all at the expense of American Warriors. The level of 'restraint' shown during engagements, while seemingly admirable, is doing little to bring about victory - a victory our Warriors should be able to expect for their efforts and sacrifices. There is evidence that tax payer dollars are being funneled into that country to rebuild/build Mosques. And this knowing that Islamists have never been 'tolerant' of any ideology or system of governance inconsistent with the Koran or Sharia. It has also been apparent for some time that the Strategy has become the goal and the security of the United States a forgotten concern.

3. Anyone who truly believes that Islam is 'a religion of peace' is smoking some very strong dope. Anyone who believes that burning a few Korans can transform otherwise rational and peaceful people into a murderous horde isn't giving those 'rational and peaceful people' much credit for the ability to reason. Anyone who truly thinks the 'true soldiers of Allah' aren't capable of using an otherwise mundane act as an excuse to incite violence and propaganda is a prisoner of his own inept mental faculty. Anyone who thinks violence in the streets is a perfectly normal and expected reaction to this kind of protest and doesn't allow Christians or Jews the same latitude, is a bigot.

I find it appalling that the same government officials and media that pressured this Pastor and his congregation to abandon their plans to protest the atrocities of 9/11 caused by the true soldiers of Allah by burning a few copies of the Koran are eternally silent when the Bible, Jesus or other Christian elements are so disgraced. I find it disgraceful that any sitting President would so defile his own country's history by denying the spiritual underpinnings of his nation's history in a speech to a people who already revile us and then show undue deference to those same people that he would deny his own.

In the end, the Islamists never needed a reason to be violent. Their violent expressions of displeasure for the act of burning Korans - that never happened only serves to reveal the true heart of the religion and it's adherents. This is not and has never been a peaceful religion and it's followers have never been a peaceful or loving people. The tolerance so demanded of our people by our elected representatives is not expected or demanded of others by those same representatives and this disparity only serves to embolden an enemy that has proven it's patience and it's intent to fulfill what it believes is it's mandate; to subjugate the world.

The acts of retribution feared by General Petraeus against American Warriors for the threat of burning the Koran are on any other day, acts of hatred for American Warriors that he should have been dealing with right along. They are the same acts of hatred that propelled the true soldiers of Allah to fly planes into the Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon 9 years ago and which caused us to seek justice by invading the very country where those acts were planned. It is the same hatred that has followed this religion throughout it's 1400 year history and that has never truly been confronted. It is, in fact, the same hatred and lack of the almighty 'tolerance' that will be there long after our politically motivated withdrawal from the plains of Afghanistan.

While the very act of considering the burning of the Koran would for most of us seem an anemic act of protest and fuel for an already hate filled people, the fact is, the seeds of hatred for all things not in submission to Allah were planted centuries ago. It would, then, be a far better use of time, the spoken word and study to determine the truly best way to confront what is proving to be greatest challenge to Western and American civilization.

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard