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The 5 Biggest Insults to American Manhood by the Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan

Bing West and Vince Flynn make the case against the castration of our military.

by
David Forsmark

Bio

February 15, 2013 - 2:20 pm

4. It Doesn’t Inflict Justice on the Guilty

In The Wrong War, West uses a history of modern guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency to point out that the United States is trying to do something that has never been done before anywhere in how it is trying to bring civilization to Afghanistan, rather than merely punishing the enemy:

Following the First World War, Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for the colonies, approved of summary executions of Irish insurgents in retaliation for the deaths of British soldiers occupying southern Ireland. The foremost scholar on counterinsurgency, David Galula, described his experience as a French officer in the Algerian War in the 1950s in these terms: “We searched the suspect’s house thoroughly and found the missing shotgun. I phoned my battalion commander and asked him if he agreed that the man should be shot on the spot. He did. The harkis executed him.” On another occasion, Galula threatened to bake a man in an oven. The man co-operated.

During the Second World War — the “good war”— the esteemed journalist Eric Sevareid stood by as U.S. soldiers shot German troops and Italian civilians. “As the weeks went by and this experience was repeated many times,” Sevareid wrote, “I ceased even to be surprised.” In his book Citizen Soldiers, the historian Stephen Ambrose devoted a chapter to prisoners of war, citing numerous instances when American soldiers shot prisoners. The press never reported one instance.

In The Village, a chronicle of my Combined Action Platoon in Vietnam, I wrote, “The Marines watched as Thanh beat his prisoners. When one woman refused to talk, he rubbed a wet cloth with lye soap and pressed it against her face. The woman struggled to breathe and sucked into her throat the stinging lye.”

Such stories had no effect at the time they were written; in 2011, they would all be sensations to the press. Today, the U.S. Congress would not tolerate deportation, sanction a $500-million bribe, approve of retaliatory executions, or ration food. Galula would be portrayed as a war criminal. Sevareid, the face of CBS, would be excoriated for not reporting the killings of prisoners, as would I for complicity in waterboarding.

Afghanistan was singularly different from any prior insurgency. Far from employing sticks of coercion of any sort, the Western coalition offered only aid and sympathy to hostile villagers. The United States possessed precision firepower, with sensors that tracked any individual out of doors. Yet in 2010, less than 5% of aircraft sorties dropped a single bomb, despite over 100 reports of troops in contact daily. This forbearance was without historical precedent. The coalition imposed upon itself the strictest rules in the history of insurgent warfare.

Forget the hoary clichés about the British and the Russians failing to rule Afghanistan. Afghanis (whatever they are) have never ruled the region named Afghanistan — basically a border drawn around the leftovers as the British Empire contracted.

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All Comments   (9)
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This is an eminently wrongheaded article. It is not surprising that much of the supporting documentation comes from novels. You can't boilerplate any strategy but current counter insurgency methods have to available in the range of capabilities that we deploy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...kill them whenever and wherever we can find them and let the Afghan government build its own society..."

If properly done, it would also reduce the size of the Afghan government to a core of less-corrupt individuals who have gotten the message and could build that society that could rule a country that has never been ruled before at anything larger than a tribal level.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
US Military strategy and tactics has been White House approved since 1950, per the 1948 law which formed the Air Force. Generals doing dumb things are doing dumb White House things.

The US, a contractual nation, does not understand that trader nations are different and involve routine presentation and use of deadly force to sort out the pecking order in power relationships and to do deals.

The US has tried to use military intervention in the Musim religious activity in various nations. The US has not come up with anything which works, other than compliance and pretending it is not compliance. When US intervention fails, the only fallback position which is not a self-inflicting wound would be to separate from the Muslim nation in question, limiting dealings with them to be similar to what we have with North Korea. We should respect Islam. Their foreign students should not study subjects in the US which would be frowned upon by the Koran, such as nuclear physics. They should be offered more suitable and non-offending subjects like literature, religion, and ethnic studies. Refugees from such places who are not Dhimmi can be directed to Europe or other places, but not to the US.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In my view, this all started with the creation of the U.N. WWII was the last war we actually fought to win. As in win the war, let the hearts and minds take care of themselves.

One could make the argument that we fought the first gulf war to win, and accomplished what we set out to do, kick Iraq out of Kuwait, but to win, we would have gone up to Baghdad and Saddam then. Saving us the trouble of going back later. But that would have been viewed as aggression. Well duhhh.

We fought WWII in Europe and the Pacific by massive destruction and killing of the enemy and the civilian populations that supported him. Then we helped patch up what was left after we destroyed the desire to keep fighting on the other side. Created two solid allies and two of the strongest capitalist economies in history.

since then, it's been all about containment and winning hearts and minds. Muslims aren't interested in capitalism or democracy. Let them live in the 7th century and if they attack us, respond with such ferocity they won't want to try it again for many generations.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

One of my favorite counter-insurgency stories comes from T.R. Fehrenbach's "Commanches: The History of a People". Back in the mid-1800s, the Texicans were having some difficulties with their aforementioned neighbors. Those neighbors had a kind of "good cop, bad cop" theory of intertribal relations in which a certain amount of gifting might preclude a certain amount of raiding.

Understanding the inexactness of thes proclivities, the Texicans invited the Comanches to a meeting (pow wow ???) at the courthouse in old San Antone to hash out some specifics. When the Amerindians arrived, the Texicans locked the courthouse and began shooting them. Those Indians crafty enough to escape the building set upon and were, in turn, set upon by local citizenry.

The author, based on his years of study, concluded that the Texicans' trap resulted in the killing of many Comanche leaders and its long term effects contributed significantly to the Comanches demise.

Americans used to know how to do these things.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And those in charge are wondering at the jump in suicides in the military....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is Deja Vu all over again: Keith Laumer witnessed the S.E. Asian
version of this and wrote it into his stories of an...unconventional
officer of the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jame_Retief
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The stuffed shirts in business suits who infest Washington & work for the government don't care,they have their careers to think about. Troops get killed or maimed every day because of idiotic rules dictated by these careerists.They can always get more troops from the underclass,why question their policies & jeopardize their careers for the benefit of the troops!
PS: I recall reading something many years back about classified/secret documents in Washington.A majority of these classified documents had little or nothing to do with national security.They were classified to protect the reputations of government hot-shots who had been responsible for bad policies.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The cruels of engagement are an insult to mentalhood.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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