Politics, popular culture and Reagan conservatism spewed maybe once a week...or less
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Are the Taliban our toughest foes ever?
If you consider the entire duration of the American participation in World War II starting Dec 7th, 1941, it took the U.S. and its allies a mere 3 ½ years to secure unconditional surrender from the sole remaining Axis power, the Empire of Japan, which occurred on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri on August 15th, 1945. The war in Afghanistan against a rag tag bunch of Muslim fanatics who call themselves The Taliban is now solidly into its 9th year of fighting. How do we compare the war making abilities of the Axis in World War II with those of these fanatics in Afghanistan?
The Axis: 100,000 battle tanks, give or take 10,000, a few hundred thousand artillery pieces, thousands of naval vessels and millions upon millions of boots on the ground.
The Taliban: a few thousand guys in togas and sandals (or as Mullah Omar would say, ‘sandals on the ground’), each with an AK-47. Throw in a few crew served weapons and a shoulder fired rocket propelled grenade launcher (RPG) or two, that’s about it.
So begs the question of the day: how is it possible that these guys in togas and sandals fighting with small arms have fought the U.S. to a standstill (and arguably are gaining strength) over a period of nine years, when we dispatched an enormous Axis force in 3 and ½ years?
The answer is simple: the introduction into modern warfare of what is now popularly called the ‘surgical strike,’ in which a relatively small team of weapons experts or highly technical combat weapon such as a smart bomb or ground attack aircraft can attack and destroy known enemy positions and combatants with precision and simultaneously minimize civilian (or what we now call ‘collateral’) casualties. The use of surgical strikes on our enemies in addition to the ability of the media using modern communications technology to instantly broadcast world wide all of the horrors of war now have most U.S. citizens erroneously believing that we can win wars just by killing the bad guys without the loss of civilians in the process.
Once the liberal press picked up on these tactics, they selectively picked and chose which battles they broadcast: as many as possible when Republicans are in power, and as few as possible when Democrats hold the White House.
And it is not just the press that recognizes the combination here: the bad guys also know that they can hide behind women, children, grandmothers, grandfathers and in mosques, churches and synagogues without fear of U.S. fire. They completely understand that should U.S. forces blow up a mosque and take out some innocents in the process, the news coverage world wide would be of tremendous value in their propaganda and recruiting efforts. By the length of time we have been fighting these guys, you would think they are the toughest adversaries we have ever faced. In reality, they are the biggest cowards.
Accordingly, the Taliban is growing stronger and we allow them to mingle with the populations that support them in their war against the West. In days gone by, prior to the advent of the surgical strike, we would bomb, attack, and otherwise remove known areas of enemy strongholds, and simply accept the fact that there will be collateral casualties. In WWII, I don’t remember wringing our hands at the number of German civilians who died during the massive Allied bombings of German industrial areas. I don’t think there was an inordinate amount of grief paid to the 100,000 Japanese casualties after the A-bombs were dropped. Remember, these populations were not entirely innocent: they supported their country’s war effort, and many worked at the factories, turning out munitions and armaments that were the primary bombing targets. And the Taliban hide among the tribal populations, who harbor them and are accordingly aiding the Taliban effort against our troops.
We need to go back to the days when winning meant killing lots of people, and worrying about innocent deaths was not paramount to the point that losing the war became a reality.