“Virtuous motives, trammeled by inertia and timidity, are no match for armed and resolute wickedness. A sincere love of peace is no excuse for muddling hundreds of millions of humble folk into total war. The cheers of the weak, well-meaning assemblies soon cease to count. Doom marches on.”
~ Winston Churchill
The first chapter of Churchill’s “Gathering Storm” is so packed with wisdom – and warnings – it is difficult to grab a pull quote out of it. Every paragraph contains something worthwhile but while this particular quote was about the lead up to WWII, I found it fits well when applied to our current struggles with Islamic terrorism, the Global War on Terror that, for America, began in earnest with the downing of the Twin Towers.
Let’s face it – a symmetrical world is not capable of dealing with asymmetrical threats. If our enemies don’t play by our established legal rules, we have no mechanism to deal with them. I don’t think it is beyond the realm of possibility that if all terroristic activities were concentrated into one nation-state, there is little doubt that America and her allies would likely declare war against that state and its allies and end the threat the way the Allied ended the Axis threats in WWII – but for lack of an actual administrative state with political and recognized geographic boundaries, war can’t (or won’t) be “legally” declared.
During the 18th century, wars were fought per specific, rigid and mutually respected “gentleman’s” rules. Everybody lined up on either side of the battlefield and like gentlemen, shot at each other until one side killed enough of the other side for it to retire. It was like a group duel until one side asked for quarter. Here in America, we have historical evidence of how asymmetrical changes to symmetric rules effect an outcome but when the Colonists started using the techniques learned in the various Indian wars, hiding behind trees and fences, sneak attacks and un-gentlemanly hours, ambushing and conducting hit and run attacks, the stiff upper lip Brits couldn’t hang. If it were not for these guerilla tactics, the outgunned, under trained, poorly supplied and otherwise rag-tag Continental Army and the various militias it was made up of would have likely lost and we would still be serving High Tea at 4 pm.
In a war of and on terrorism, there are no rules. General George S. Patton is reported to have said to his men that they must forget all the high-minded rules of war that were written in the parlors and salons of moralizing politicians. He said that the enemy doesn’t care about our rules and he will fight according to his own rules (or absence of them) and the only way to win was to fight according to the enemy’s rules – or even dirtier. In our own minds, we know this to be true. On the battlefield, holding true to any rule that renders you defenseless or restricts your ability to mount an offensive will get you killed.
Somehow I doubt that an ISIS jihadi will praise you for your adherence to high moral standards after he cuts your head off.
Patton was right. War is about victory on the battlefield.
The key to defeating terrorism seems to be the ability for an alliance of nations to concentrate the enemy, describe their territory and vanquish them. It is possible that ISIS has done America and her allies a favor in taking over a defined territory in Syria and Iraq. The UN could do this but it won’t. It is beyond NATO’s charter, so there needs to be a new coalition of nations put together with American leadership with the sole purpose of concentration of the enemy and ending them. Call it the Global Terrorism Force Organization (GTFO for short – works on a couple of levels).
This can be done if this coalition 1) demands that any state with known physical concentrations of terrorists (i.e. training camps, substantial attacks) root out the terrorists or allows the GTFO to operate inside their borders, 2) if the state refuses, it would be considered an enemy combatant through giving aid and comfort to the terrorists, and 3) the GTFO coalition countries are willing to do what needs to be done to end terrorism once and for all.
These steps would not compromise the individual or religious freedoms or compromise the sovereignty of any cooperating state, the goal is to squeeze those states like a pimple and concentrate the pus into ISIS controlled territory to be surrounded by GTFO countries – then the terror-cowards can decide if they want to live inside those boundaries or to have a nuke dropped on them. Terrorism kicks up again outside these boundaries, the nuke gets dropped.
Perhaps that would create the necessary focus within the radicals on good behavior.