The War that we are Fighting
Reader comment on item: How the West Could Lose
Submitted by Major Dave (United States), May 23, 2007 at 17:38
THE WAR WE ARE FIGHTING
I am very disheartened listening to many of my fellow Americans talk about immigration issues, "closing our borders," "securing our homeland," "fighting them over there instead of over here" and the like. I have even heard otherwise logical Americans say that the "greatest threat to us as a nation is multiculturalism."
I believe that many Americans finally understand that we are engaged in an ideological war that happens to take on physical aspects; but I also sincerely believe that they fail to understand who our enemy is, what his intent and objectives are, and the nature of the current war that we are fighting, Therefore, I feel that now is the time for me to speak up.
The Enemy: I define our enemy as ultra-radical jihadis that have sworn to die in an attempt to kill Americans. I know them well. I have fought them in short-range firefights in Afghanistan; I have cleaned up the goo that they left when they blew themselves up in Iraq (not killing any Americans or destroying any American equipment under my watch, by the way). Had they spent more time in marksmanship and exercised better fire discipline, I would not be writing this today.
Similarly, I have seen and touched them, but not alive. Since my men and I did practice marksmanship and exercised fire discipline, we shot them first. I ask you to estimate how many enemy personnel are we facing? How many meet the criteria of swearing to sacrifice their lives to kill Americans? 3000? 30,000? I would give it a high estimate (it is hard to calculate accurately) and assume that there are 120,000 people in the world that are our declared and devout enemy. This is high, because if it were truly this number then we would have an almost one-to-one enemy to friendly ratio in Iraq and they would be much more effective. Or they would greatly outnumber us in Afghanistan if they concentrated their forces. Now, realize that 120,000 people is less than one one-hundredth of one percent of the world-wide Muslim population. Less than one one-hundredth of one percent.
The Enemy's Strategic Objectives: We usually think of objectives in warfare as being either terrain-centric or enemy-centric. Strategic objectives in the past were terrain-centric as in Operation Desert Storm: expel the Iraqis out of Kuwait, or enemy-centric as in Operation Iraqi Freedom-1: Chase the Republican Guard and the Ba'ath party wherever they may be. So I ask, is the objective of Usama bin'Ladin terrain-centric or enemy centric? Well, we assume that he wishes to re-create the Caliphate, so therefore his objectives may be terrain-centric; however, he has not conducted any operations focused on taking and holding terrain. He attacked us on 9-11 (and at the U.S.S. Cole, and at Kenya and Tanzinia, and other forgotten acts pre-9-11, as well as daily current attacks in Iraq) so we assume that he is waging an enemy-centric campaign.
But has he really focused any attacks that will topple the government of the United States or even offer any effective strike to destroy even one battalion or forward operating base? No. His objective is population-centric. He is fighting to gain the support of the worldwide Muslim population—the 99.99% that does not support currently support him—the 1.2Billion Muslims in the world that are not our enemy. This is his goal, at least for now. If he can gain their support, then he could effectively wage a terrain-centric war and re-create a Caliphate. If he rules a Caliphate that extends from Morrocco to Indonesia, then he could effectively wage an enemy-centric war and attempt to actually destroy the Western Civilization; but for now, he is waging a population-centric war and his objective is the support of the worldwide Muslim population.
The Enemy's Strategy: The enemy's strategy is simple: create a large rift between the Western Civilization and the worldwide Muslim population. The larger the rift created, the more likely it is that part or all of the worldwide Muslim population will support him. He creates this rift through a very carefully planned and waged information operations campaign. Realize that every action taken by al'Qaeda is taken to influence a target audience. IED's are not emplaced in an attempt to attrit the U.S. forces to the point of being ineffective; they are emplaced to influence a target audience—whether American voters, or local Muslims, or those deciding whether or not to choose his side. Even the attacks on 9-11 were waged not to topple our government or our financial institutions, they were waged to influence the world-wide Muslim population—to sway them to support him by showing his strength and audacity; and to help to widen the rift by causing strong anti-Muslim reaction.
An Effective Counter-Strategy: One would logically assume that if the Enemy's strategy is to gain the support of the worldwide Muslim population by creating an irreparable rift between Western Civilization and the worldwide Muslim population; then an effective counterstrategy would also be to gain the support of the worldwide Muslim population, erase any rift between Western Civilization and the worldwide Muslim population, and create a rift between the world-wide Muslim population and radical jihaddis. For many, however, logic seems to be thrown out along with strategy, policy, and tactics.
Aiding and abetting: In my view, any policy that helps create the rift between the West and the worldwide Muslim population helps the enemy to achieve his goals. Any statement made by any Western spokesman—uniformed, civilian, elected, corporate, media, NGO, etc.—that helps to create the rift between the Western Civilization and the worldwide Muslim population is tangibly lending assistance to terrorists by aiding his information operations campaign and is therefore treasonous. If you feel that there is something wrong with Islam and that Muslim people are not to be trusted—then you have already surrendered to the enemy; surrendered as much as if you were a coward on a battlefield. If you make Muslims in this country feel frightened or uncomfortable, then you are a terrorist—you are not only invoking terror in innocent people, but you are actually physically assisting the al'Qaeda to achieve its goals. The last thing that I will say is that in an Ideological War with physical aspects, if you give up your ideals in order to win a physical battle—then you have lost the ideological war.
The beauty of the United States of America—what causes me to swear to support and defend it at risk or even sacrifice of my own life—is that it is founded on a few solid ideals. Belief in these ideals is the only thing that it takes to be a true red-blooded American. These ideals include 10-each Amendments in the Bill of Rights including and especially Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, Democracy and peaceful transition of government, justice for all regardless of race, culture, or religion, social mobility, capitalism, equality of opportunity for all, separation of powers, the ability to change the laws or even to amend the constitution, based upon the will of the people, and most importantly, a multi-cultural society where all can find a home in our great melting-pot. A man can never be a true "Frenchman", "German", "Italian", "Spaniard", "Russian", "Japanese", "Chinese", "Thai", "Korean", "Nigerian", "Ugandan", "Saudi", "Kuwaiti", etc. no matter how long ago their ancestors immigrated to one of those countries because of those countries' racial and cultural homogeny.
However, belief in the above listed ideals and a pledge of allegiance to the Flag and the Republic makes you a true, red-blooded American right from the get-go. Notice, that none of my listed ideals—the ones that I have sworn to fight and die for—include the "English Language" or the "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Suburban Culture" (note that I am white, and Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant, and suburban and am not using this in any derogatory fashion), or some "Judeo-Christian" heritage.
Good Tactics-Good Strategy
In 2003 I was considered to be a very successful company commander in Afghanistan because my company killed more al'Qaeda than anyone else in the theater. The truth of the matter was that I was a successful company commander because I convinced the Tribal Elders, the Regional Governor, and our Pakistani allies in the formerly lawless Bermel Valley to support us in the fight against al'Qaeda. I did this by showing respect for them, their culture, and their country. The tangible benefit that stemmed from this was our being able to successfully kill al'Qaeda without any loss of American life.
The most successful IED sensor that I found was an Afghani Tribal Elder that chose my side in the fight—knocking on my firebase door and volunteering to have one of his sons show me where the al'Qaeda had emplaced their IED. The greatest feeling in the world is sneaking up on the al'Qaeda hidden in an ambush position, killing some and chasing the others back into Pakistan (where my allies could catch them) and then finding where they had dug in and hidden their IED. This was only possible because I knew my enemy and his objective—and I denied that objective to him by showing respect and understanding for the population. The same strategy can and should be applied at a macro level. Believe me, it works. If the worldwide Muslim population is on our side; the al'Qaeda and other radical movements will be easy to destroy. We have to take the measures to get them on our side—they don't choose it automatically, and we cannot accuse the Muslim population of being enemy simply because we have failed in our objectives to earn their trust and respect.
What the Future Holds
I thank God that our President has not made the mistake of declaring war on the Muslim people or culture. The 120,000 or less enemy forces that we face are difficult enough to deal with. I cannot imagine facing 1.2 Billion enemy personnel—especially if we created them ourselves needlessly. Muslim culture is different from Western culture, but it is no worse. Nothing in Muslim culture differs from American ideals (10-each Amendments in the Bill of Rights, Democracy and peaceful transition of government, justice for all regardless of race, culture, or religion, social mobility, capitalism, equality of opportunity for all, separation of powers). Usama bin'Ladin is nothing but a rich spoiled-rotten criminal to whom money was not enough—he needed power to feed his insatiable greed, so he feeds it daily with the blood of devout young Muslims and innocent Muslims—including women and children. It should not be hard to drive a rift between this man with those ideals and the 1.2 Billion worldwide Muslims—especially when we come from a society that offers prosperity, justice, and freedom of (and respect for) religion and religious practices.
As I said earlier, if you are forced to compromise your ideals in order to win physical conflicts, then you are losing the ideological war. This goes for the enemy as well. Usama bin'Ladin has already compromised his ideals when his people used children in the back of cars to convince people in Shia neighborhoods to allow them to park—only to blow up the VBIEDs with the children inside. My only fear for the future is that our policy makers, strategists, and the average American citizen will fail to recognize type of war that we are fighting, and will therefore take action to help the enemy rather than hurt him. Only by recognizing the type of war that we are fighting can we effectively counter the enemy's strategic objectives before it is too late.
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