16 June 2007

The elephant in the living room.

Reflecting on Col. Snodgrass's illuminating thoughts about "limited war," we thought of "the elephant in the living room" that psychological counselors discover none of their patients or their family members wants to talk about. It's a well used but still useful concept that we would do well to import into the realm of political analysis.

More than four years into the current Iraq war, the United States has still not made one strike on Iran or Syria. Instead we dance to the tune of the insurgents in Iraq as though there's simply no other option than to wait for the voters at some point to call a halt to the daily game of "sitting duck" where our forces drive or fly around waiting for yet another Iranian or Syrian weapon to be used against them.
As long as there is an enemy center of gravity -- that is, a nation-state sponsoring the surrogate insurgency such as North Vietnam, or in present circumstances in Iraq such as Iran and Syria -- US high technology conventional war can end the insurgency. But putting steel on the target means having the national will to use the steel on the right target to end the conflict on our terms. The idea that we must combat insurgency only by engaging in counterinsurgency warfare on their turf and on their terms where the enemy retains the asymmetrical advantage of nullifying the US firepower through small unit hit and run attacks that are staged from the middle of civilian population areas is ludicrous.

* * * *

. . . [There] is an existential shortcoming or mindset [on the part of "politicians and the American society they represent"] that refuses to identify the enemy as such because that would require wholesale discrimination between “US” and “them”.

A conscious refusal to discriminate between us and our enemies boils down to a political and societal cowardice. . . .

. . . [T]he cure to our military problems in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in combating and defeating Islamic Jihad must at the very least include the recognition of the enemy and the actual territory from which he wages his war. If we ever hope to save ourselves from the Islamic Jihadists who have made our destruction their life’s ambition, we must steel ourselves with the same resolve as our implacable enemies and unleash US high technology conventional war capability in what General William T. Sherman called “total war.”
"This is no way to win a war!" By Colonel Thomas Snodgrass, Society of Americans for National Existence, 5/21/07 (emphasis added).

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