How to fight to win
(I seriously need to create a shortcut key to paste in His Glorious Majesty's title. He's an effin' legend, easily the best President for over a hundred years - barring perhaps St. Reagan of the Right - but typing all of that out gets tiresome after a while.)
We were talking about this because both of us were highly amused at all of the wailing and chest-thumping about the poor Kurds and the impact of the war in Syria upon them and their children. And we then got to discussing what it would look like when a nation actually went to war to crush its enemies, not merely defeat them and establish a government in the wake of that victory.
This was, and is, germane because of the way that the United States of America in particular, and the Western powers in general, have fought wars since WWII.
The Western way of war, to borrow a phrase (and a book title) from that most excellent of military historians, Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, has come down to Americans and Europeans through the filters of the hoplite formations of the ancient Greeks, the awesome iron discipline of the Roman legions, the chivalric codes of the Christian European knights, and the crucibles of brutal wars fought on distant battlefields.
This has bred into the minds of Western military strategists and warfighters a deep-seated, and frankly misguided, belief that "war is something that happens 'out there', away from population centres and innocent people, and that's where it should be kept".
This is a humane, decent, chivalrous, and noble way to fight. This method of war keeps civilian casualties to a minimum. It is an admirable philosophy of war that Western civilisations and nations have tried, albeit with many glaring exceptions and failures, to adhere to, especially over the past 100 years.
It is also a great way to lose wars when fighting against cultures that don't play by the same rules.
All you have to do is to observe the record of the US military over the past 75 years, since the end of WWII. There is precisely one war in that timespan which the US military can justifiably claim to have won, and that is Gulf War I - and, of course, whenever one brings up that example, it must be remembered that by most measures the USA didn't actually finish that war, because Iraq's government never actually surrendered.
This is germane to the current hand-wringing and crocodile tears concerning the Kurds because it is worth remembering precisely how wars in that part of the world tend to be won.
If you actually look at the history of successful invading armies, what did they do?
One example that comes to mind very easily is that of the Mongols fighting the Khwarezmids. And the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan were so utterly barbaric, ruthless, savage, and horrifyingly lethal in combat that they left razed cities, smoking ruins, rivers of blood, and pyramids of skulls in their wake.
The Khwarezmid civilisation, heir to all of the ancient glories of well over 4,000 years of Persian accomplishments, was wiped out as if it had never existed.
This is important for Americans to understand. If you really want to bend a country to your will, if you really want to win a war outright in a foreign land where the people do not share anything like your culture or history, then this is what you have to do:
You have to invade with absolute, overwhelming force - you don't have to be numerically superior (the Mongols were often outnumbered, at least at the beginning of the great westward expansions of the horde), but you do need to have superior tactics and strategies and at least some superior technologies.
Your troops must be absolutely committed to the fight. There must be no deviation whatsoever from clearly established goals. The rules of engagement have to be as loose as possible and must favour your own troops in every possible situation - a good rule of thumb in this situation being, "If it moves, it dies".
Your goals must be clearly and absolutely stated. There can be no sympathy whatsoever for your enemy, no acknowledgement of his humanity, no desire to offer honourable terms of surrender.
You have to slaughter every enemy combatant where possible, down to the last man.
You have to brutalise the enemy's population, burn his cities, ransack his grain stores, destroy his farms, drink his rivers dry, confiscate his cattle, wipe out his infrastructure, and utterly destroy any possibility that your enemy has to wage war.
You have to utterly break your enemy's will to fight by killing so many of his people, in such crushing and public and humiliating fashion, that the rest of the people cry out to the heavens for mercy.
If your enemy worships different gods, you have to make his people bow down to you and convert to your faith at the point of a sword.
That is pitiless, merciless war. And I haven't even gone into the full horror of it yet. I wish I could find it, but back when EveryJoe.com was still a thing and LTC Tom Kratman was writing for it, he wrote up a response to whichever gormless doofus of a Frog was President of his cucked-out country at the time, in which said El Presidente said something about waging "pitiless war" on Islamists who attacked his country. In that article, LTC Kratman pointed out the true awfulness of such a war and made it clear that it would be so brutal, so horrific, that the French wouldn't have the stomach for it.
This does not mean that you entirely discard the Laws of War. Those laws have been derived from literally millennia of conflict and are designed to keep civilians at least somewhat safe from the ravages of war. But the Laws of War are not kind or nice. They are not particularly merciful beyond a certain point. They are designed to keep the most savage and barbaric instincts of men at bay, while still acknowledging that wars make beasts out of all sane men.
The USA has not fought these kinds of wars in its recent history. The last good example that you can find of American armies fighting like this would be General William Tecumseh Sherman's infamous March to the Sea.
Gen. Sherman was an interesting character. He was a loyal Unionist, but his views on slavery were remarkably sympathetic to the Southern position. And yet he believed that the Southerners who seceded from the Union were absolute traitors and deserved no mercy for their treason. He so brutalised the South, especially the state of Georgia, that to this day the Southern states have still not fully recovered from the horrors of the War Between the States - and yet, he didn't actually want to destroy civilian populations.
He did, however, want to break the Southern will to fight. And that is precisely what he did.
The US military has singularly failed to apply the lessons of Sherman's March to the Sea in its endless and incredibly stupid misadventures in the Sandbox and the Rockpile. America's political leaders never wanted to be seen as barbarians and conquerors. Both Presidents George W. Bush (the neoclown, not the elder statesman) and Barack Obama thought that they could become great humanitarians and peacemakers by bringing democracy and freedom and all other similar Good Things to a part of the world that has never really known them.
The sheer stupidity of these ideas was plainly obvious to anyone with any appreciation of history. That part of the world has not known anything approaching democracy in over EIGHT THOUSAND YEARS. What rule there has been in those vast deserts and plains was always delivered at the business end of a spear or a sword, and the ruler delivering that law did so with a fist clad in iron.
That is how life works in the Middle East, and in Afghanistan, and in most of the world if you think about it carefully enough. You will quickly realise that these quaint and charming notions of "democracy" and "freedom" are unique to the Western nations.
That these are genuinely wonderful and great concepts, ideas, and innovations is not up for debate. They certainly are. The Western way of war, and of life, is vastly preferable to any of the alternatives, which is why Dirt Worlders and camel-humping dune jockeys from the Arabian sands would dearly love to trade in their surroundings for Western ones if given a whisper of a chance.
But just because these are wonderful things, that does not mean that the USA has any business whatsoever attempting to export them by force of arms.
Look at the track record of American attempts to destabilise dictatorial regimes around the world and replace them with democratically elected governments.
In Egypt, the ailing dictator was deposed and replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood, and a nominal US ally was turned into a hostile foreign power.
In Libya, the despot was overthrown, captured, sodomised in the streets with an iron bar, and killed, and then his corpse was paraded around in the streets of the capital city - and then the American mission in Benghazi was attacked and very nearly overrun and four Americans paid with their lives because the President and the Secretary of State couldn't be arsed to rescue them, and now there are actual slave-markets flourishing in Tripoli.
In Iraq, the Ba'athist dictator was overthrown and eventually dragged out of a little spider-hole and put on trial, but the entire country went straight to Hell and gave rise to an actual Islamic Caliphate that the USA then had to spend years and billions fighting.
In Syria, attempts to overthrow the Ba'athist dictator resulted in a five-year-long intervention that ended with America's military power being shown for the paper tiger that it really is.
In Afghanistan, nineteen years of fighting have still not brought peace and democracy to a country with fractured tribal loyalties and an economy largely dependent on the production of one crop - poppies - that is used to create the very same opiates and opiods that are blighting the American heartland.
Wherever you go, the track record of the American empire remains exactly the same: dismal, repeated, awful failure, at truly horrendous cost to the American people in terms of blood and treasure.
If the USA were actually interested in winning the wars that it is fighting in the Middle East, it would immediately abandon this absurd pretence of nation-building and instead take a few pages out of the war strategy guides of far more savage and brutal races, such as the Mongols, the Huns, the Goths, or the Vandals, and simply straight-up murderise their enemies on the ground. Truly merciless, pitiless, ruthless war would be the order of the day - as would spreading Christianity at the point of a sword, as the conquistadores did in South America before a Papal Bull stopped them.
Now, let's be perfectly clear about one thing:
I do not advocate for these things.
I don't want to see America's moral character sullied by resorting to such horrible tactics. The Western way of war is enlightened and noble by any measure, especially when compared to the alternatives. And so it should stay that way, because one of the founding pillars of the West is Christian morality, and that same morality dictates to us as Christians that we must be merciful to our enemies and seek to convert them to our ways through reason and love, not wrath and hate.
I am not in favour of Americans and Westerners abandoning their civilised modes of warfare and their genuine, if naive, desire to spread peace and democracy to the rest of the world. While there is a sweetly charming stupidity about that attitude, it is still stupid - but at least Americans make it clear that they want others to share in the blessings of liberty. And those blessings are very real.
I do not want people to be slaughtered in their thousands and millions. I simply think that if America actually wants to fight wars, it should fight to win.
And in order to win, in certain parts of the world, it needs to be understood very firmly that "humane" methods of fighting simply don't work.
The God-Emperor was absolutely right to pull out of Syria. He is absolutely right to want to pull out of the Sandbox. And he is absolutely right to want to pull out of the Rockpile. The sooner that all of those troops are brought back to the USA and posted, preferably shoulder-to-shoulder, along the southern border with Mexico with orders to shoot to kill any asshole illegal invader that tries to get over the border into El Norte, the better.