Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What it takes to win the Iraq war according to Sherman

By Aussiegirl

Absolutely essential reading from Herb Meyer, as usual. Yes, unfortunately we have tried to wage a "kinder, gentler" war, and have suffered a persistent insurgency as a result. Perhaps it is no longer possible for an open democracy to wage the kind of massive, brutal war that is required to achieve overpowering and unquestioned victory in this age of embedded journalists and moralizing second-guessers parsing every action. We should have gone in with real shock and awe, not allowed those troops to go home, and occupied the country with tough martial law. Instead we tried to do it with kind half-measures -- and now we are still coping with the aftereffects. Hopefully it is not too late to win this thing once and for all. Sherman never said "War is heck" after all.

The American Thinker

Like every other business, the business of war has changed.

Centuries ago, a war ended when one army defeated another on the battlefield. But in the modern world of total war , a war isn’t over when one army defeats the other. A war is over when the population of the country whose army has lost abandons all hope; when the people have been crushed so thoroughly – when the daily business of staying alive is so god-awful – that they wish only to clean up the mess and re-start their lives.

This is why no Nazi official was able to stand in the rubble of Dresden or Berlin in April 1945, and urge his fellow Germans to “stay the course.” And it’s why not even the most fanatical Japanese warlord journeyed from Tokyo to Hiroshima or Nagasaki in August of that year to tell survivors that “despite the recent setbacks,” Japan’s chances for victory remained good. It was over, and in both these countries everyone who wasn’t clinically insane knew it. And the business of daily living had become so miserable that what the people wanted more than anything else was for the fighting to stop. However terrifying the post-war future might prove to be, it couldn’t possibly be worse than the present. They would continue to honor their troops, but no longer would support them.

We haven’t won the war in Iraq because too many Sunnis still think they can win, and because the conditions of their daily lives are improving rather than deteriorating. They think they can win because, with the help of al Qaeda, Iran and Syria they are still able to launch attacks throughout Iraq. And because each day they see growing evidence that the United States is tiring of the war and talking more and more about pulling out its troops. And because Saddam Hussein is still alive in Baghdad. And because – thanks to the generosity of the U.S. and a government in Baghdad that is doing everything it can to win over the Sunnis before the upcoming elections – each day the availability grows of food, electric power, clean drinking water, gasoline and heating fuel.

[...]You needn’t take my word for this. One of history’s greatest generals, William Tecumseh Sherman, put it this way:

“We are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and must make young and old, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war…. I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptom of tiring till the South begs for mercy.”

This is precisely what Sherman was talking about when he famously said that “War is hell.” He was a decent, honorable man and he hated doing what he knew must be done to end the war and stop the killing. Here’s one Sherman quote about waging war you won’t see in a New York Times editorial: “The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” In other words, to end a war you must crush not only the opposing army but also the population in whose name it fights; that sometimes you must act inhumanely to save humanity


At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Pindar said...

Thanks for finding this brilliant article for us. Herb's reasoning seems right on target to me. It's like you write, Aussiegirl, Sherman never said "War is heck, darn it!" Michael Savage also has similar ideas about waging a more hellish war, including withdrawing all the embedded journalists...which suggestion Sherman would probably have agreed with, given that he also said this: If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast.


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