Why the U.S. Loses ‘Small Wars’





Mr. Kahaner is the author of AK-47: The Weapon that Changed the Face of War, Wiley & Sons, November, 2006. Click here for his website.

If history is any gauge, the US will lose the current conflict in Iraq. Since the end of World War II, major US use of force against substantially weaker enemies – Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, for example – have ended poorly. The last remaining superpower is not alone in this phenomenon of strong armies losing to lesser foes: the American colonists beat the British, the Vietnamese forced France to leave Indochina and Afghanistan’s Mujahadeen drove  the Soviets from their country.

Why do powerful armies lose against decidedly weaker enemies, and what does it say about the US involvement in Iraq?

The answer lies in the study  of “small wars.” At its simplest, a small war is one in which the relationship between the combatants is decidedly unbalanced.  One side is not only militarily superior in size but its weapons are state of the art. Some call this Asymmetric Warfare or Fourth Generation Warfare, or the more familiar guerrilla warfare, from the Spanish for ‘small war.’

While the larger force relies on high-tech weaponry and sophisticated air power, contemporary small forces use simple, durable and easy-to-use and obtain weapons,  mainly the venerable AK-47 rifle backed up by Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Despite reports of dramatic explosions, the ubiquitous and cheap AK-47 still kills more people in Iraq than any other weapon.

While trying to understand how to win in Iraq, US military scholars are turning to the classics, and one of the hottest books making the rounds is, surprisingly, over a century old.  Small Wars was written in 1896 by C.E. Callwell, a colonel in the British army,  for British officers posted to Africa and India. It  draws on his own experience in the Second Afghan and Boer Wars and claims that a powerful force can easily lose, if it doesn’t fully understand the enemy, fails to describe clear objectives or, worst of all, pursues military objectives that do not contribute to the conflict's political goal.

He  notes that the primary object in a small war is to force insurgents to fight on the regular force’s terms by drawing them into conflicts in which their superior firepower and discipline could prevail. Unfortunately, the history of small wars has shown that insurgents play hit and run – striking boldy and then retreating quickly, and rarely engaging the larger force head on.

The other, and much bigger obstacle to winning small wars, brings a moral dilemma.  According to Callwell, to win small wars, mere victory isn’t enough, the enemy must be thoroughly and utterly destroyed to the last man, woman, and child – which means enormous civilian casualties. For citizens of most modern democracies,  this is an unacceptable stance. The level of violence and barbarism it would take to beat an insurgent force -- torture, wholesale executions, leveling of towns -- is a place where most democracies refuse to go.  This keeps victory out of reach.

Small wars are also lost because of  the larger army’s lack of national commitment which ends in inadequate or misspent  funds and deployment of too few troops. For insurgents fighting for their own soil, the commitment is 100 percent. If they lose the war they lose everything. Without ‘skin in the game’ national commitment by the larger force’s country usually wanes.

If Callwell got military scholars to think more clearly about small wars, a group of Marine Corps officers in the 1930s took it to the next level with production of the Small Wars Manual based on US experiences in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. While building on Callwell’s work, this landmark book published in 1940, points to what some say is one of the most important aspects of winning small wars  - understanding the role of indigenous religion, ideology and tribal relationships. The manual not only talks about the military aspects of winning small wars – and yes, they can be brutal - but of more importance is a deep understanding of a society’s language, culture, religion, history, economic structures and mores. The manual is a hot seller from a much-clicked website, The Small Wars Center of Excellence, run by the Marine Corps, which advocates the use of simpler weapons and more complex soldiers in small wars – the opposite of current conventional wisdom. This is not the only take-away message from the manual, but it is a vital one.

Unfortunately the Department of Defense’s upper echelon are heading in the wrong direction. The proposed $200 billion Future Combat Systems is a mélange of expensive and complex high tech weapons that will be less effective in winning future small wars than thousands more soldiers with language skills, armed with durable rifles, who understand history, foreign culture, religion local customs and guerilla warfare.

The soldiers in Iraq understand this. Now it’s time for Pentagon planners to read and heed the classics. It’s not too late to win the ‘small war’ in Iraq, but the lessons of history must not be ignored.


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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

In the simplest of terms "small wars" pit the super strong to the, relaively ,weak as both defined and derermined by conventional and hence economic/political armament/power.
A review of all recent, and older than recent, "small wars" will show the all too obvious facts of the matter that :
A:
-The big party is Allways the party that starts the war with an offensive effort.
-The small party never starts a "small war" .It could start an insurection against the big party, or its allies and representatives, but that would not be a "war" but a "revolution".The small party war effort would invariably be , in the srategic sense, a DEFENSIVE effort.

B:
-The small party was NOT a threat to the big party.
-The big party actually constituted a threat to the small pary.

C:
-The big party , by engaging in a small war, WAS NOT in a state of self defense or of warding off a potential threat that could present a serious threat to its national security or fundamental interests.
- The small party actually WAS in a state of self defense or of warding off a grave threat to its national security and/or fundamental interests.

D:
-The big party's army, usually a professional army, fought on its behalf with luke warm, or no , public support for the war.
-The small party's whole nation/ community,represented by a voluntary army,fought directly and indirectly, with enthusiasm and conviction the big party.

E:
-The war ended for the big party without a clear military victory but without any serious long term disruption to its basic constituents ie its infrastructure, industrial base etc or grave human losses.
-The war ended for the small party with a clear ,definite, military victory but with very serious damage to its basic constituents and very grave human losses.

F:
-The war ended with the big party DEPARTING and giving up on its real, declared and undeclared,objectives in launching the war in the first place.
-The war ended with the small pary REMAINING where it was at the outset of the war and by frustrating the objectives of the Big party.

Are these not the major traits of an attempted imperialist conquest by the big party and of its repulsion by the native, indigrnous, resistance of the small party??


John Edward Philips - 5/12/2007

Wow.

1. What makes us the good guys if we act like the bad guys?

2. It's not just morally reprehensible it's bad policy "for when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest winner."


John Edward Philips - 5/12/2007

is neither the crime itself nor the coverup, but the exposure. I'm stunned.


Chuck Andrew Vanasse - 1/14/2007

I agree with the article. The new commander in Iraq, General David Patreaus, believes in the "small wars" thesis, too. He's just written a brilliant manual on how to fight a counterinsurgencey. My views are evolving. I read an article in the Wallstreet Journal from last week. I found the fact that we are fighting all sides and yet have allies on all sides - except among Al Qaeda - that the situation can be flipped to our advantage and I think there may be an effective way to fight this war.

Here it is in a nutshell...

1. Permit the civil war - Like the Iran-Iraq war of the 80s - let the Shiites and Sunnis fight their civil war - Let America even "facilitate it" (in an American way) - Help each side really hurt the other side's more monstrous incarnation.

2. Political Judo - Help the civil war happen in a positive way. The U.S. should act as a referee as America merely fights "contextually" on and for both sides by minimizing, as best we can, both sides ability to ethnically cleanse before the demographics can vacate their homes. Keep the Turks, Jordanians, and Syrians out...Vis. Help the Shiites destroy the Sunni nationalists, Baathists and Wahhabi/Al Qaeda Sunni terrorists. Help the Suunis go after the Iranian sponsored Shiites - Sadr and Iraqi political-religious fascists. Civilians will naturally suffer; encourage both sides that when they have had enough we would be happy to help them but only when their hatred has been notably exhausted.

3. Energy as primary deliverable - Manage the flow of oil through the gulf - priority on keeping oil lanes open. Use troops to protect oil assets in Iraq. Let the Iraqis generate cash to fund their civil war and America will charge for being the referee. Let their oil fund our presence and value add to the siutation.

4. Neutralize Iran - Look for the next excuse for going after Iran and when that act of war (IEDs with Iranian fingerprints) is next identified start hitting Iran's military infrastructure - use the U.S. Navy and Airforce...leading eventually to the destruction of their nuclear capabilities.

5. Leader - As soon as a despot arises in Iraq that will commit to (1) staying away from WMD (trust but verify - or rather just verify) and (2) not interfer in America's energy interests (no Kuwait invasion or Kurdish land grab) - We support the thug...I mean, we support that leader.

Chuck - That Kansas Guy.


Howard C Berkowitz - 12/8/2006

I would agree that rational argument will not work with present Jihadists. My point in identifying alternative within Islam is to work strategically in strengthening ideas that may reduce the future supply of those causing problems.

There are times and targets that can only be solved with superior firepower. There are others that are a longer-term prospect. I hope it isn't too tangential, but the long-term problem does include such things as better language and area studies instruction in the US. While it's something of a tempest in a teapot when it comes to having JROTC in high schools, I'd far rather see the same budget go to "hard" language instruction.


N. Friedman - 12/5/2006

Howard,

I certainly agree that there are Muslims who have no interest in fighting anyone. And, I have no problem being supportive of people who reject Jihad or want to treat the Prophet's injunction to make the entire world into the House of Islam as being something postponed into a millennial project.

My view, nonetheless, differs radically from yours. My contention is that religion is among history's most significant forces - usually an irrational force as seen by those not party to the faith.

I have no expectation - although obviously I would prefer if it could be achieved - of convincing people who adopt a religious cause to change that cause and I have no expectation of convincing other members of the faith to do it for me, especially when the position taken by the objectionable group is legitimate in that religion's tradition - something that you would have to concede if you say that it is an accepted strain of Islamic thought.

As I see it, whether or not there may or may not be peaceful strains of Islam is largely irrelevant. What matters is that the strain that advocates war is perceived to be legitimate, which it is, and has a large number of followers - with those taking the opposite point of view considered the enemy based on the takfir argument that traces its origins at least to the Kharajites.

You will note that thus far, there has been basically an absence of Muslim theological opposition in the Muslim regions to the effect that Jihad is illegitimate or that the spread of Islam ought be postponed to some distant date - akin to "Next year in Jerusalem," as Jews used to say in a non-political manner. [Note: this is not to suggest that no one objects to the tactics of the Jihadists but, rather that opposition to the Jihadists' basic goals is hard to find and is certainly not sustain or substantial.]

I would contrast my point with the position adopted by many Sunni theological scholars with respect to the coming of a Mahdi. While numerous Sunnis have claimed to be the Mahdi (or have been proclaimed the Mahdi by followers), there has pretty much always been sharp theological attacks by Sunnis against the notion of any Mahdi. Which is to say, there is a substantial counterargument that might be raised by any Muslim who opposes anyone claiming to be a Mahdi. That, unfortunately, cannot be said about a Muslim who advocates Jihad as a war of conquest.

For example, when there was an alleged Mahdi in Saudi Arabia (i.e. in connection with the capture, back in 1979, of the Grand Mosque), sharp theological arguments opposed to Mahdism were presented by clerics and in newspapers. See the discussion on this point in Timothy Furnish's book Holiest Wars.

By contrast, no sustained theological argument has been raised in opposition to the Jihadists. The reason why, frankly, is that the position taken by the Jihadists is entirely legitimate in the Islamic tradition while the view that Jihad for conquest has no place has no strong tradition. As a result, it is rather difficult to argue against someone who accepts Jihadism. In fact, it is a fruitless endeavor well worth trying but almost surely destined to fail.

Again: we are dealing with religion. Those who might prefer tolerance towards others, if they challenge the Jihadists, become enemies and targets of the Jihadists. They are, in Western parlance, excommunicated and in essence apostates who deserve to be killed, by the reckoning of the Jihadists. And, the argument favoring Jihad is sufficiently strong that I do not imagine Jihadists succumbing to rational argument - although, I favor anything that works so if you can make it work, go for it.


Howard C Berkowitz - 12/5/2006

May I propose refocus from an area where we, at best, can agree to disagree? I suggest that if one postulates that the majority of Muslims are threats, rigid containment is perhaps the most ethical of bad alternatives.

If, however, there are more tolerant subgroups, and these, as I contend, are not an insignificant number (especially outside the Middle East), there is a potential benefit to engaging and encouraging them. From my direct experience, that does characterize a fair number of Muslims from subsaharan Africa, an area where decisions are still being made.


Yehudi Amitz - 12/3/2006

Muslims should be under the same interrogation and detention rules as used in the USA if they agree with the rules and sanction them officially and in the Muslim world that means mainly fatwas. Otherwise they should be under the rules used in their own countries, because no matter what we do they'll follow the local rules anyway.
USA has the highest prison population rate in the world (not in the Western world). For an American being misinformed is quite normal, but you say you live in Europe. The article in the London Times, I mentioned, was about 10 years old. Today the UK prison population is about 80000 and the US prison population about doubled (since 1995), so if we do the population related adjustment the US prison population would be 400000 but it is about 2.2 million. I guess China may have a higher absolute number of people in prison but USA has the highest prison population related to its population.
I consider gulag any imprisonment for ideological reasons and "tough on crime", "the drug laws", "three times and you are out" (there are more) are pure ideological reasons to put someone in prison. The 1.8 million difference is the result of ideology, communist ideology in the Soviet Union being replaced by populist ideology in the USA and we see that both didn't/don't work.
I am not ready to relinquish my right to read or not read anything I want, to view or not view any caricature I want, to listen or not listen any speech I want or generally speaking to use or not use any communication channel available to me.
About the Native Americans in my understanding a lot of them died of small pox and other diseases.
For me the "American empire" is USA itself, at least beginning in the 1840s with the "manifest destiny".
If you have time to watch the link I posted below, where judge/law professor Richard Posner, you will see that FBI and criminal prosecution isn't the best way to fight terrorism.
As a general idea I am not for "an eye for an eye" policy but for "keep always your eyes open and punch the enemy in the eyes if necessary"
The Golden Rule of Mosses used by Joshua of Nazareth in the sermon on the mount is a very fine principle but if the other side doesn't follow it I may not be alive to convince him about how nice it is.


N. Friedman - 12/3/2006

CORRECTION:
remove the question mark from the sentence that reads: "The pertinent logic expression applicable to your argument is exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis"


N. Friedman - 12/3/2006

Howard,

You write: "Depends what you mean by voting. Ironically, the PA elections probably were more fair than those in Egypt, if for no other reason than no PA faction was able to control the elections. Modern Egypt has not yet had free and fair elections, compared with those Maghreb states that have been independently judged to have open multiparty elections."

I do not take any of these elections to be free by Western standards. And, I include the PA elections. Elections in that part of the world fit the pattern of consensus coercion events, which, in turn, is a product of a society defined primarily by religious conceptions.

You write: "Revivalism that has swept "the Muslim regions?" Indonesia is not Islamist, although it has the largest Muslim population of any state. I've mentioned Maghreb voting. Turkey is a special case, in that the Army acts as a guarantor of secularism."

Fair enough with respect to Indonesia. And, it does have a large Muslim population, as you say. I had in mind places like Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc., etc.

You write: "Is Lebanon a "Muslim region"? Kuwait has an increasingly open political process; why, then, are women taking an increasing role?"

Lebanon's modern origins relate to protecting the Maronite Christians. However, its Muslim population has grown dramatically. At this point, it is unclear whether it can be called a Muslim land although, no doubt, factions within the Muslim population would prefer it to be part of the House of Islam.

You write: Not necessarily. I have not noted the governments of Syria, Egypt or Saudi Arabia being terribly concerned with the wishes of the street. I don't agree there has been a "clear trend" to Islamicize, but I don't necessarily understand what you mean by "the region". Arab? Middle Eastern including what -- Persian, Turkic, Maronite, Druze? Central Asian? Maghreb?

In Egypt, Islam has been made, as of late, the sole basis on which legislation may be made. In Saudi Arabia, that has always been the case. In Iran, that is now the case. In Pakistan, such is also the case. That will certainly be the case in whatever government arises in Iraq - at least in the Shi'a and Sunni portions. Etc., etc. Syria remains somewhat more secular although that most likely is a product of the waning Ba'athist movement and the fact that the ruler is neither Shi'a nor Sunni and thus protects his rule by suppressing such movements.

You write: I'm willing to go with one of many. Since disproof can be no more than one example, I suggest that such evidence lies in the rejection of some of the more extreme forms of the lesser jihad, such as Qutbism, or the substitution of lesser jihad for the Haj in al-Turabi's version of Mahdist thought.

Your view appears to be that because some Islamic scholars reject the mainstream view, such fact shows that such aberrant positions were or are part of the mainstream view. I propose two points in response. ONE: your position is not logical if the intent is to show that such exceptional views are part of the mainstream; and TWO your argument proves my point.

Consider this analogy to understand my first point. There were Jewish scholars pre-20th Century who rejected aspects of legalism (e.g. the Hasidim) but, beyond all doubt, the mainstream view at that time was legalism, not the Hasidic view. I trust you know this to be the case. Which is to say, the fact that there are exceptions does not disprove the existence of a mainstream view. I might also add: the Hasidim were and are a much, much larger movement than the few exceptions you assert yet they were certainly not the mainstream.

The pertinent logic expression applicable to your argument is exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis? That is, more or less, the exception proves the rule. I am referring to the mainstream, not an unanimous view. So, the expression is exactly applicable.

I was referring to communal activity to spread the faith and, if necessary, by violence. Such is the mainstream view in the Muslim regions and always has been. That is true whether or not one treats Jihad as a substitute for the Hajj. That is true whatever the view taken by Qutb.

Again, the mainstream is not any less a mainstream due to the existence of exceptions. That is a matter of simple logic. And, by extension, if there is a position held by a small group, then such position is not part of the mainstream.


Howard C Berkowitz - 12/3/2006

You observe, "On the other hand, the polling is rather consistent with how people in that part of the world actually vote. Such is clearly the case in Egypt as well as in the PA."

Depends what you mean by voting. Ironically, the PA elections probably were more fair than those in Egypt, if for no other reason than no PA faction was able to control the elections. Modern Egypt has not yet had free and fair elections, compared with those Maghreb states that have been independently judged to have open multiparty elections.

"And, it is certainly consistent with religious revivalism which has swept the Muslim regions. If people vote for Islamist parties, would they not also favor the program espoused by such parties?"

Revivalism that has swept "the Muslim regions?" Indonesia is not Islamist, although it has the largest Muslim population of any state. I've mentioned Maghreb voting. Turkey is a special case, in that the Army acts as a guarantor of secularism.

Is Lebanon a "Muslim region"? Kuwait has an increasingly open political process; why, then, are women taking an increasing role?

"And, is it not the case that the understanding the rulers of the various Muslim countries have taken from the "street" is that people want Islamic law?"

Not necessarily. I have not noted the governments of Syria, Egypt or Saudi Arabia being terribly concerned with the wishes of the street. I don't agree there has been a "clear trend" to Islamicize, but I don't necessarily understand what you mean by "the region". Arab? Middle Eastern including what -- Persian, Turkic, Maronite, Druze? Central Asian? Maghreb?

"I am thus ask that you provide evidence showing that Khaldun, Ignaz Goldhizer, Avicenna, al-Ghazali and Bernard Lewis' understand of the mainstream view is wrong such that the pro-Jihad strain of thought is one among many mainstream views held by the bulk of Muslim scholars." I'm willing to go with one of many. Since disproof can be no more than one example, I suggest that such evidence lies in the rejection of some of the more extreme forms of the lesser jihad, such as Qutbism, or the substitution of lesser jihad for the Haj in al-Turabi's version of Mahdist thought.


john crocker - 12/3/2006

"No innocent man/woman should be adversely interrogated by the police or punished in any way "
I am glad to see this from you, but it does not fit well with your statement regarding Daniel Perl. Would you care to disavow the former statement?

"...the most crowded in the world prison system..."
Ammend this to the most crowded in the Western world and I would agree.

"...(the American gulag)..."
With all of its faults, the American prison system is not near the level of the gulags. This is more than a little bit of hyperbole, unless you have a different and broader definition of gulag, as you seem to for genocide.

"...is full of innocent people with quite a few of them six feet under."
I am unsure of what fraction are innocent of the crime that they are doing time for, but quite a few are imprisoned for laws that should not be on the books.
"The way Muslims relate to moral or ethics is not guided by international treaties but by religion and fatwas. When I'll see enough fatwas calling for humane treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim custody I'll be able to answer your question."
The issue here is our behavior over which we have control, not theirs over which we do not.

"Yes, we have moral/ethical obligations but the most important of them is preserving the freedoms and liberties of all the people who adhere to our moral/ethic codes."
How does inhumane treatment of prisoners preserve our freedoms or liberties?

"As 'seed for thought' I'll give you some other brainwashing sentences floating around in the USA: 'the best health care in the world' (very true if one has the money),"
Agreed. I am currently paying about 1/4 the rate for the same level of care I received in the US.

"no genocides"
other than the Native Americans.

"no American empire"
carefull or Friedman will label you an anti-Imperialist.

"'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' is a very nice principle but only if the 'others' follow it."
It is a fine principle regardless of who follows it.

BTW All moral outrage is selective, yours, mine, everybody's.


Yehudi Amitz - 12/3/2006

No innocent man/woman should be adversely interrogated by the police or punished in any way but under the brainwashing sentence "the system works" the most crowded in the world prison system (the American gulag) is full of innocent people with quite a few of them six feet under. A few years ago I've read in the London Times an article saying that here are too many inmates in the UK prison system. The number was about 60000 (sixty thousands). Considering the populations of USA and UK about 300000 (three hundred thousands) inmates in the USA would be too many but as we all know there are more 2.2 million prison inmates in the USA. The system doesn't work so let begin at home why bother about Muslims?!
The Muslim world is mainly a patriarchal society where between religion and law, religion prevails. The way Muslims relate to moral or ethics is not guided by international treaties but by religion and fatwas. When I'll see enough fatwas calling for humane treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim custody I'll be able to answer your question.
Yes, we have moral/ethical obligations but the most important of them is preserving the freedoms and liberties of all the people who adhere to our moral/ethic codes.
As "seed for thought" I'll give you some other brainwashing sentences floating around in the USA: "the best health care in the world" (very true if one has the money), "no genocides", "no American empire" and more... Sit on them and , maybe, your ethical code will not be guided by selective "moral outrage". "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a very nice principle but only if the "others" follow it.


Yehudi Amitz - 12/3/2006

No innocent man/woman should be adversely interrogated by the police or punished in any way but under the brainwashing sentence "the system works" the most crowded in the world prison system (the American gulag) is full of innocent people with quite a few of them six feet under. A few years ago I've read in the London Times an article saying that here are too many inmates in the UK prison system. The number was about 60000 (sixty thousands). Considering the populations of USA and UK about 300000 (three hundred thousands) inmates in the USA would be too many but as we all know there are more 2.2 million prison inmates in the USA. The system doesn't work so let begin at home why bother about Muslims?!
The Muslim world is mainly a patriarchal society where between religion and law, religion prevails. The way Muslims relate to moral or ethics is not guided by international treaties but by religion and fatwas. When I'll see enough fatwas calling for humane treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim custody I'll be able to answer your question.
Yes, we have moral/ethical obligations but the most important of them is preserving the freedoms and liberties of all the people who adhere to our moral/ethic codes.
As "seed for thought" I'll give you some other brainwashing sentences floating around in the USA: "the best health care in the world" (very true if one has the money), "no genocides", "no American empire" and more... Sit on them and , maybe, your ethical code will not be guided by selective "moral outrage". "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a very nice principle but only if the "others" follow it.


john crocker - 12/3/2006

What of the people we have in custody that are not guilty?

Should all Muslims be tortured because some Muslims torture others?

Do you really think that we have no moral or ethical obligations beyond those adhered to by the least moral/ethical of our enemies as your statement about Daniel Pearl would indicate?


Stephen Dintino - 12/3/2006

Hi Arnold. Thank you for your excellent reply.

Relative to the freedom and choice issue, because of the Islamic religious political state of control manifested in most Islamic countries, it is difficult to determine if any good act is freely or consciously performed.

I don't judge any person, including terrorists. But people who subscribe to and conduct terrorist acts are stopped only through physical intervention. Because they believe that they are doing something good by indiscriminately killing non-muslims, and because they have the desire and the means (horrific terrorist acts) to control the world through Islam, other political options will not stop the acts of terrorism.

I strongly agree with what you wrote in your last sentence.

Again, thank you for your response.



Respectfully,

Steve


Yehudi Amitz - 12/2/2006

Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the erasing of Japanese cities through conventional bombing (mostly wood structures) was justifiable genocide. It saved hundreds of thousands of American lives that could have been lost in landing and conquering cities. The same about erasing German cities for no military reasons. The ultimate benefit was transforming Germany and Japan from irrational and violent dictatorships into civilized democratic societies.
Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden were deliberate destruction of a racial and/or cultural group.
You didn't say anything about the ethnic cleansing of Germans and Jews in the post WWII Europe?!


john crocker - 12/2/2006

I admit I did engage in a couple of ad hominem attacks in response to being attacked by you. In the comment I am now responding to you limited yourself to two ad hominem attacks, the same number I delivered in the previous comment. That is a bit of progress towards a more rational debate. Let us see if we can eliminate them altogether in future interactions.

"And of course another of your ad hominem, mixing me with holocaust deniers for calling the beast by its real name."
Sorry if this strikes you as ad hominem, but they are the only other people on this site I have seen make this argument. For the record I don't think you have much else in common with them other than this particular argument.
In order for what the allies did to the Japanese and Germans to be categorized as genocide it must be a "deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group." Do you think that the allies were attempting to deliberately and systematically destroy the Germans and/or the Japanese?

"On the other hand, I believe that killing populations supportive of criminal regimes who perform genocide is justifiable."
Do you believe that genocide of these populations is justifiable?

I agree that what Stalin did was the deliberate and systematic destruction of a political group and so should be categorized as a genocide.

"As I see it, intentionally killing great numbers of unarmed people is genocide and the action is sometime justifiable from a military point of view. When the action is done only for ideological reasons it can't be justified."
Your definition of genocide differs substantially from Webster's and Oxford's.
Military actions are inextricably tied to the ideological reasons for being engaged in war so all genocide is tied to ideology. The distinction you seem to make is that if it is purely ideological, ie there is no military benefit, then it is not justified. How much military benefit must there be for genocide to be justified?


Yehudi Amitz - 12/2/2006

Sean,
I understood very well Crocker's question and a gave him my answer and also a longer analysis about what, I think, genocide is.
Who is talking about exterminating Muslims the the last man, woman and child? In the same time there is no reason to shed crocodile tears for bombing Fallujah or as many cities that support terrorism.
I don't really care about the real intentions of the prophet Muhammad, though he used violence, but when Muslims kill each other and non-Muslims for caricatures published in Denmark or because of a talk given by the Pope I can only qualify them as irrational and violent.
Crocker's ilk are bigots exercising selective "moral outrage". The position of these bigots towards Jews and Israel is the main ideological umbilical cord between the extreme right and extreme left, in our days (see the love story between David Duke and Cindy Sheehan).


Yehudi Amitz - 12/2/2006

That's another classic accuse while doing the same, but everyone does it, so be my guest, do your whining!
The allies, during WWII, did exactly what had to be done but in more than a few places killed civilians for no real military reason other than putting civilian population in a state of fear (of course the living ones). The burning of Japanese cities with incendiary bombs had no military purpose other than inducing fear. The same about erasing Dresden. And of course another of your ad hominem, mixing me with holocaust deniers for calling the beast by its real name.
WWI was an extended and bloody war, with very little intended targeting of civilians, the civilians died during the first world war mostly of disease and hunger. During the second world war most of the disease and hunger was in concentration camps. Bombing industry and infrastructure is more than justified militarily but extensively bombing private homes without the intention to conquer the bombed cities is a genocidal endeavor. If not genocide how would you call it? On the other hand, I believe that killing populations supportive of criminal regimes who perform genocide is justifiable. By the way what Stalin did in Ukraine in the 1930s (letting peasants to die of hunger) and the millions of deaths in the gulag was also genocide.
As I see it, intentionally killing great numbers of unarmed people is genocide and the action is sometime justifiable from a military point of view. When the action is done only for ideological reasons it can't be justified.
Even if you get angry, your selective moral outrage is bigotry.


john crocker - 12/2/2006

The body of your comment consists of little other than an extended ad hominem attack. I have previously discussed this tactic with you and you ended up looking like a paranoid loon. Is that really where you want this to go?

If you really want to accuse the allies of genocide against the Germans and Japanese during WWII you will find no allies in that, other than the few holocaust deniers that also comment here.
What definition of genocide are you using?
How does your definition distinguish between genocide and any extended and bloody war?
Was the American Civil War attempted genocide? By which side? Both?
How about WWI?
What about Vietnam?
Do you disapprove of the allied actions against the Germans and Japanese that you believe to be attempted genocide?
If not, what do you think they should have done?
If so, under what circumstances do you approve of genocide?

Please exclude the paranoid everyone who disagrees with me is a Jew hating bigot rant from your response.


Yehudi Amitz - 12/2/2006

I don't cry for the Germans and Japanese killed during WWII but why don't call the crime by its real name?
What's the problem, your ilk of bigots can only selectively count? Maybe that's the reality, your kind of bigots counted to 30 in Jenin and begun to shout "genocide" or pretended not to see fresh cadavers brought by a mortician in Qana (Lebanon). Show me one place where left wing, Jew hating, bigots protested the disappearance of Israeli prisoners in Arab hands?! At least 5 million Germans were ethnically cleansed in the post WWII Europe but you and your bigots forgetting the ethnic cleansing of the Jews by Europeans only remember Palestinian rights. Your kind of bigots have a very selective kind of morality.


N. Friedman - 12/1/2006

Howard,

As for polling, note that I said "if we believe the polling" - and, if you read my other comments, you will see that I have been rather critical of polling in the Muslim regions, most recently polling that showed FATAH winning a substantial victory (which, as you know, did not occur) and polling showing that a reformer might win the Iranian election (which also did not materialize) but also, more generally, polling in societies where public consensus tends to stifle critical debate -. So, I think you are on to something.

On the other hand, the polling is rather consistent with how people in that part of the world actually vote. Such is clearly the case in Egypt as well as in the PA. And, it is certainly consistent with religious revivalism which has swept the Muslim regions. If people vote for Islamist parties, would they not also favor the program espoused by such parties? And, is it not the case that the understanding the rulers of the various Muslim countries have taken from the "street" is that people want Islamic law? In this regard, I note that there has been a clear trend across that region to make Islam a basis and, as of late, "the" basis for any laws. How is the current situation any different - except by degree and the fact that, unlike in the past, there had been, for some time, an absence of Shari'a - from the idea behind customary law that existed in the Ottoman Empire which, in effect, developed a common law from the Shari'a?

As for having a discussion, I certainly take your ideas seriously. On the other hand, the view that the dominant view over the ages among Muslims has not been consistent with the general formula noted by Ibn Khaldun is difficult to argue factually. I certainly agree that there have been different views but even more or less apologetic writers such as Reza Aslan concede the classical, mainstream view involves Jihad to extend Islam's rule. I am thus ask that you provide evidence showing that Khaldun, Ignaz Goldhizer, Avicenna, al-Ghazali and Bernard Lewis' understand of the mainstream view is wrong such that the pro-Jihad strain of thought is one among many mainstream views held by the bulk of Muslim scholars. My contention is that the pro-Jihad view is the mainstream view (e.g. the view taught at al-Azhar University to this day) although there have been, as in all religions, those who reject the mainstream position.


Sean M. Samis - 12/1/2006

Yehudi;

I believe Crocker's question was "should we have attempted Genocide of the Germans or Japanese" I think the claim that a genocide was attempted will not survive close scrutiny; but even if so, SHOULD it have been done?

I believe the point of the original blog was that extreme violence and force just don't work in "small" wars. I believe your moral outrage is real and sincere; but those facts don't transform ineffective methods into effective methods.

Unless we are actually prepared to EXTERMINATE Muslims to the last man, woman and child, we have to live with them. Unless we are prepared to go all the way to the end of genocide, extreme measures will inevitably fail.

I do not accept the various characterizations of Muslims on this thread, presenting them as irredeemably violent or irrational. I am not Muslim, so I cannot speak for them, but neither can I speak against them. Islam is not what the Prophet wanted it to be, it is what living Muslims want it to be; they may justify their choices by reference to the Quran, but scriptural writings are always fluid enough to support whatever a person wants to find support for; that is the experience of every surviving religion; no exceptions I am aware of.

I am not sure who qualifies to be in Crocker's "ilk"; but I'm guessing that you cannot establish their indifference to the welfare of Israelis. Perhaps you have not seen expressions of their outrage, but unless you claim omniscience, I'm going to say that much transpires in the world you are not aware of. Better you should have asked how Crocker et al. feels about the problem; presuming you actually care to risk upsetting your prejudices.

sean s.


Miriam E. Mendelson - 12/1/2006

Hey, thanks alot -MM

Here's my email, if you come across anything else of interest. I'm in FP research (counterterrorism policy specifically). Cyclgrrl@aol.com


Arnold Shcherban - 12/1/2006

Stephen,

I would never start with lecturing you
that "there are good and bad people" among any nation; I'm sorry to say, but pointing out such a deep insight into the nature of Americans cannot be qualified otherwise than an insult to the intelligence of the opponent on HNN boards. Who do you think you debate against here, complete dopes?

But let's get to the more legitimate
content of your objections to my comments.
I do indict the US, not when it does good (though, I admit that lately
I'm able to find less and less good things it does), but when it does bad
or wrong.
Then you say that this country does good deliberately, because it has "the freedom to choose good".
Firstly, you forgot to follow up with
the logical case when the America does bad, don't you? (Unless you axiomatize that this country never does bad or wrong).
Secondly, the remark I'm commenting on now has an awful smell of the statement that other nations or governments don't do good or bad things 'cause they choose to do so.
But this is just a contradiction in terms, not mentioning - to facts.

Then you say that indoctrination that occurs in "Islamic world is not based
on freedom or choice."
You don't even notice and, therefore, realize that the above statement of yours actually legally defend the same extremist and terrorists you apparently hate so much.

And finally, your question about the reconciliation of the terrorism is sent to the wrong adress and on the wrong premise, since I'm atheist, an American, has nothing to do with Mid-East, and as Peter Kropotkin once mentioned: "Personally, I hate these explosions, but I cannot stand as a judge to condemn those who are driven to despair." (with the significant correction that I do condemn the killings of innocent unarmed civilians even by the folks driven to despair).


Howard C Berkowitz - 12/1/2006

"And, I was not being condescending. I sensed substantial ignorance on your part." Oh? How is this not condescending, given that you have no idea of my background? The only data you have is that some of my ideas differ from yours. That would seem to suggest that you consider your views on Islam, to use a delightfully mixed metaphor, are ex cathedra and infallible; any with the temerity to disagree are ignorant and wrong.

As to polling, without extensive methodological data, I do not consider it likely that standard opinion polling is statistically valid in a society that does not assume freedom of expression. Going back 30 years or so, I did software support of "opinion polls" of villagers in Vietnam, and saw the principal investigator produce ludicrous results. So, as a general statement, I do not give any credibility to polls of Muslims in nondemocratic societies.

To take your example of "Egypt, the PA and Jordan", even if the respondents answered honestly to well-designed questions, which indeed might be the case in Jordan, I'd have to see the statistical methodology by which the results from these three significantly different populations were combined.

I am perfectly willing and eager to have a substantive discussion, but one of the prerequisites to such is that the participants respect one another sufficiently to believe that each may bring something to the table.


mark safranski - 12/1/2006

Yes, I believe there is a draft version being circulated right now but I don't have a url handy.

Contact Dave Dilegge, the editor of The Small Wars Journal, and he can probably connect you with it.

http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/site/contact.htm

These would also be of interest to you, I think.

http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/swjmag/v6/kopets.pdf

http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/swjmag/v6/sullivan%20w%20bib.pdf


john crocker - 12/1/2006

I am outraged by the abuse of any prisoner by anyone. It concerns me particularly when it is perpetrated by my government as I bear some of the responsibility for the actions of my government.

You did not address the issue of the innocent victims in Abu Ghraib. Not everyone and indeed by many accounts not even the majority of those who were held were guilty of any crime.

Do you really think that we have no moral or ethical obligations beyond those adhered to by the least moral/ethical of our enemies as your statement about Daniel Pearl would indicate?

If you define genocide as loosely as you must to claim that the Americans engaged in genocide against the Germans and/or Japanese then you have robbed the term of all real meaning.

"Your kind of "morality" and "moral outrage" in the same sentence is against basic grammar in any human language."
What do you mean by this?

What happened at Abu Ghraib was worse than your characterization. Real beatings, a few to the point of death were done by US troops and contractors and sexual assaults were committed by these people as well.

Must an outrage be the worst on earth for it to be an outrage? Does no injustice matters as long as you percieve some other injustice to be greater?


Stephen Dintino - 12/1/2006

You indict the US. The truth is,there are good and bad people in the US. But, when an American does something good, it is because the American chooses to do good. The American has the freedom to choose good.

Serious violent and hateful indoctrinization occurs in the radical Islamic world, which is not based on freedom or choice.

How do you reconcile the terrorists' violent and indiscriminate acts of blowing themselves up, along with the civilians (children, women, old people) around them?


Yehudi Amitz - 12/1/2006

Cut and paste


Yehudi Amitz - 12/1/2006

I guess you'll be able to open this link

rtsp://video.c-span.org/project/ter/ter112706_sais.rm

directly in your Real Player "File" "Open" menu


Yehudi Amitz - 12/1/2006

"Federal Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner discusses the role of intelligence in counterter-
rorism operations. He speaks at a forum at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC." (11/27/2006)

rtsp://video.c-span.org/project/ter/ter112706_sais.rm


Yehudi Amitz - 12/1/2006

It was a genocide against German and Japanese civilian population, hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) were killed through heavy bombing (and the nuke). Also very heavy ethnic cleansing was perpetrated against the Germans in Czechoslovakia and East Prussia. Your selective memory is playing fairy tales on a history site. The US army forced millions of Russian prisoners of war back into Stalin's gulag but couldn't find room in Europe for the Jews stranded in transit camps.
Your kind of "morality" and "moral outrage" in the same sentence is against basic grammar in any human language.
There is nothing close to "an eye for an eye" there was some discomfort like loud music, sleep deprivation, some sexual innuendo and some real beating for some hardened terrorist criminals done by their own security services.
I am sick and tired by yours and your ilk selective "moral outrage"!


Miriam E. Mendelson - 12/1/2006

Hey, thanks for that. I did visit that website. I am actually trying to figure out what is the latest version of the 'small wars manual' out there, cause i want to get it. I saw the 1940 version online in pdf, but I think i heard there is something more current. ya know?

MM


N. Friedman - 12/1/2006

Howard,

You are free to read what you like.

I asked you what you meant because your words were insufficiently clear. Now, you reply, "What I stated is that there is a broad Muslim desire to bring non-Muslims into that religion. The desire for Sha'ria is not a given, although that certainly is the position of a great many Muslims," which is perfectly clear.

I think you are correct about the above, for what it is worth. However, the desire to have other people join the faith is, after all, part and parcel of Islamic evangelicalism aka Jihad and dawa.

I am certainly not forcing you to speak. And, I was not being condescending. I sensed substantial ignorance on your part.

As for desire for Shari'a, in Egypt, the PA and Jordan, the group desiring Shari'a law is, if we believe the polling, 65%. That figure comes via Martin Kramer. That suggests that quite a large group has rather traditional Islamic views. Do you not think so?


john crocker - 12/1/2006

What of the people we have in custody that are not guilty?

Should all Muslims be tortured because some Muslims torture others?

Your position seems to be that we should work on the same moral and ethical level of our enemies in a conflict.
In WWII should the allies have attempted genocide of the Germans?
Should we not only have imprisoned the Japanese but forced them to work without food until dead?


Howard C Berkowitz - 12/1/2006

I will turn the tables and ask that you read what I actually wrote,

"I do not disagree that the idea of inclusion of all within the dar il Islam is theologically desirable"

"What do you mean? Are you saying that you would like to live as a non-Muslim in a Muslim country under Islamic rule? I really do not follow what you have in mind."

That is correct. You do not follow what I have in mind. I spoke of something theologically desirable through Muslim beliefs. I am not a Muslim, so where do you get the idea that I want to live under Islamic rule?

What I stated is that there is a broad Muslim desire to bring non-Muslims into that religion. The desire for Sha'ria is not a given, although that certainly is the position of a great many Muslims.

Given that you have not offered any particular credentials, but continue to condescend about things such as my "naivete", no thank you as far as your book recommendations. I hear you as in belief that you are universally right and no one who does not agree with you could possibly have anything to contribute. Since I look at this forum as a place for a courteous exchange of views among historians, goodbye.


N. Friedman - 11/30/2006

Howard,

You write: "In point of fact, no, I do not accept Goldhizer as definitive. His particular interpretation of jihad is consistent with Mahdist or Qutbist views, among others, but is by no means universal."

Well, Goldhizer died in 1921 long before Qutb wrote his rants. Goldhizer's view has exactly nothing to do with Qutb - if you have actually read Goldhizer. You might consider examining Goldhizer's well known book Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law. As William Montgomery Watt, also considered, until his recent death, rather enamored of Islam, notes in his book Islamic Philosophy and Theology: An Extended Survey, that the breadth of Goldhizer's scholarship is boundless.

Moreover, Goldhizer considered himself a champion of Islam, having been the first non-Muslim ever to have permitted to study at Al-Azhar. More than that, he was known to pray with Muslims, notwithstanding the fact that he never converted.

As for Mahdism and Goldhizer, you are mistaken. Consider that the famed historian and sociologist Ibn Khaldun wrote tracts in opposition to Mahdism (See Timothy Furnish's recent book Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden) - and, in fact, Khaldun's arguments are still asserted today by Sunnis who oppose Mahdism - yet, at the same time, he had this to say about spreading Islam:

In the Muslim community, holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united (in Islam), so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them (religion and politics) at the same time.

Khaldun, a non-Mahdist of great brilliance and fame - to say the least -, evidently agrees more with Goldhizer than with you. Bernard Lewis, in his masterful work The Muslim Discovery of Europe, also agrees with the more apologetic Goldhizer. Explaining the basic Islamic conception, Lewis writes:

"In the Muslim world view the basic division of mankind is into the House of Islam (Dār al-Islām) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb). The one consists of all those countries where the law of Islam prevails, that is to say, broadly, the Muslim Empire; the latter is the rest of the world. Just as there is only one God in heaven, so there can be only one sovereign and one law on earth. Ideally, the House of Islam is conceived as a single community, governed by a single state, headed by a single sovereign. This state must tolerate and protect those unbelievers who are brought by conquest under its rule, provided, of course, that they are not polytheists but followers of one of the permitted religions. The logic of Islamic law, however, does not recognized the permanent existence of any other polity outside Islam. In time, in the Muslim view, all mankind will accept Islam or submit to Islamic rule. In the meantime, it is a religious duty of Muslims to struggle until this end is accomplished.

The name given by the Muslim jurists to this struggle is jihād, an Arabic word meaning effort or striving. One who performs this duty is called mujāhid. The word occurs several times in the Qur'ān in the sense of making war against the unbelievers. In the early centuries of Islamic expansion, this was its normal meaning. Between the House of Islam and the House of War there was, according to the sharī‘a, the Holy Law as formulated by the classical jurists, a state of war religiously and legally obligatory, which could end only with the conversion or subjugation of all mankind. A treaty of peace between the Muslim state and a non-Muslim state was thus in theory juridically impossible. The war, which would end only with the universal triumph of Islam, could not be terminated; it could only be interrupted for reasons of necessity or of expediency by a truce. Such a truce, according to the jurists, could only be provisional. It should not exceed ten years and could, at any time, be repudiated unilaterally by the Muslims who, however, were obliged by Muslim law to give the other side due notice before resuming hostilities."

Lewis goes on to indicate that the Shari'a law's requirements (and its attendant theology) did not always match the reality of what occurred and that other arrangements, supplementing the House of War and House of Islam, such as the House of Covenant, eventually arose.

As for Jihad, Lewis notes that the classical conception came to be seen, for a while, as a more millennial view (perhaps akin to one-time classical Jewish tradition, pre-Israel, of next year in Jerusalem - with next year being some distant future time). Such view was prevalent during the latter time of the Abbassid dynasty, when Muslims were under threat from all sides so that the notion of spreading the faith was rather unrealistic. However, the millennial view did not persist long, especially but not only with the rise of the Gazis - known more to history as the Ottoman Turks - who rekindled Jihad to conquer, most specifically, Europe.

In any event, the view regarding the basic theological and legal requirement to spread Islamic rule is still taught in places like al-Azhar. So, I cannot imagine the basis for your opinion.

You will note, further, that Goldhizer does not quite speak about forced conversions of Jews and Christians - only of people who lacked a revealed prophesy. Interestingly, historian Patricia Crone notes that, notwithstanding the commonly asserted view that Muslims did not force Jews and Christians to convert, the record shows rather plainly that such did sometimes occur.

You may say - which is correct - that Islam has no Pope or the like who states what is and is not Islam but some elements of Islam are rather well established and beyond much question. In this regard, you might consider that classical Judaism does not have a Pope or the like but during the classical period it would be rather foolish to claim that there Kashrut laws are not part of it.

And, notwithstanding your protest to the contrary, Islam is about as evangelical a faith as has ever existed. And, its teachings are rather blunt regarding the justification to use force in order to spread Muslim rule from the black to the red.

Note also that Goldhizer did not say that everyone must convert, as your comment suggests. Nor did he indicate that Jihad has only one meaning. He was writing about the religious command to spread Muslim rule. That, frankly, is the Jihad which, to non-Muslims, matters.

You write: "I do not disagree that the idea of inclusion of all within the dar il Islam is theologically desirable"

What do you mean? Are you saying that you would like to live as a non-Muslim in a Muslim country under Islamic rule? I really do not follow what you have in mind.

So far as understanding Jihad fi sabil Allah (i.e. Jihad war or, literally, Jihad in the path of Allah), I would recommend two books that might cure your naivety. The first is David Cook's brilliant Understanding Jihad. It is a masterful survey of the origins and development of the Jihad war and its ongoing significance. The second, which is not good history but which, within the book, includes a section that consists of translations of tracts by dozens of famed Islamic scholars on the issue of Jihad - from writers such Avicenna to al-Ghazali to, while probably not as great a thinker, the Ayatollah Khomeini -. It is called The Legacy of Jihad and it is by a professor of Medicine named Andrew Bostom. Some of the tracts included in the book have there own surveys of the views of their predecessors.

Now, you are correct that not all Muslims favor war to spread the faith. But, such is clearly the dominant view over the course of the religion's history. I might add, Islam is certainly not alone in holding itself the one true faith that is the property of mankind. That is also basically the classical Christian view. Where Christianity differs from Islam, I think, is that the view opposing the use of force to spread Christianity has strong support in the religious writings and in actual practice - most especially after the Crusade period - while, in Islam, the view to spread Muslim rule by force, as David Cook notes, takes up around 20% of all ahaditha - an astounding amount of religious writing on war - while the Koran itself is rather emphatic of the command to use force generally speaking (and not merely in connection with a specific circumstance) and, most especially, during the latter - and, hence, more important, so far as Islamic theology is concerned - period of the Prophet's life. And, in practice, the view opposing Jihad as war has not had great significance over the course of Islam's history.


Arnold Shcherban - 11/30/2006

One more US-US-uber-alles credoist.


Howard C Berkowitz - 11/30/2006

It might help my being more responsive if you were to speak not so much from your own knowledge of my reading -- of which you have none -- but from your own experience and interpretation. Do not assume that I necessarily will agree with you, or believe you paid attention to what I said. Nevertheless, paying respect is an excellent starting point for discussion.

In point of fact, I have read quite a bit of Muslim theology about both the lesser and greater jihad. You yourself cite razzia as actions not approved by Sunni leadership. In point of fact, no, I do not accept Goldhizer as definitive. His particular interpretation of jihad is consistent with Mahdist or Qutbist views, among others, but is by no means universal. I do not disagree that the idea of inclusion of all within the dar il Islam is theologically desirable; I do disagree that it is mainstream Islam, even within Sunni'a, that the conversion must be forced. You yourself cite raids as opposed to actions of a civilization (i.e., war).

My comment about religion was that Islam is not unique in having branches that support violent conversion.

Under the Caliphate, how is something mainstream that was disapproved? Is this your form of ijtihad?


Howard C Berkowitz - 11/30/2006

It might help my being more responsive if you were to speak not so much from your own knowledge of my reading -- of which you have none -- but from your own experience and interpretation. Do not assume that I necessarily will agree with you, or believe you paid attention to what I said. Nevertheless, paying respect is an excellent starting point for discussion.

In point of fact, I have read quite a bit of Muslim theology about both the lesser and greater jihad. You yourself cite razzia as actions not approved by Sunni leadership. In point of fact, no, I do not accept Goldhizer as definitive. His particular interpretation of jihad is consistent with Mahdist or Qutbist views, among others, but is by no means universal. I do not disagree that the idea of inclusion of all within the dar il Islam is theologically desirable; I do disagree that it is mainstream Islam, even within Sunni'a, that the conversion must be forced. You yourself cite raids as opposed to actions of a civilization (i.e., war).

My comment about religion was that Islam is not unique in having branches that support violent conversion.

Under the Caliphate, how is something mainstream that was disapproved? Is this your form of ijtihad?


Sean M. Samis - 11/30/2006

James, I don't know where you live, but here in the States, there have been some peace demonstrations; there hasn't been as many as in past wars because more effective means of mass mobilization and protest are available now. After all, this is the 21st century now.

Leftists here have not been quiet at all. They may not be as noisy as some would like--or in the WAY some would like, but much of the noisy efforts in past crises were counter-productive. The recent elections here show that the Peace-Movement's efforts are working better now.

The Press Muzzled? One need only browse right-wing sources to hear how the press is beating the drum-beat of bad-news. The press is doing it's job, reporting on events. They must be doing a good job: EVERYONE is pissed at them.

Perhaps anti-war elements are not conducting their campaign the way you want them to, but they are active and increasingly effective.

HOWEVER, whether they are effective or not has little to do with the war's success; I sincerely doubt that the Iraqi insurgents look to the American left for motivation. It also is not for sure that the war is lost; gone badly yes, but lost? Not yet. But with Bush et al. in charge, the odds of defeat are good ...

sean s.


James M Goodfellow - 11/30/2006

Small wars are sold to the ruling elites (then to the masses) as cheap with a definable profit. Iraq-cheap war was sold as a cheap war, paid for by oil and then with cheap oil as the profit.

When those wars end up costly with no forseeable profit, then the masses get nasty and the elites scramble for excuses.

The interesting aspect of the Iraq War, is that peace demostrations have been non existant, the leftists quiet for the most part, and the press muzzled. Yet the war was lost.


Yehudi Amitz - 11/30/2006

Salman Rushdie published his book in UK and he didn't force any Iranian to read it. The cartoons in the Danish newspaper were for the eyes of the danish readers of this newspaper and no Muslim was forced to buy it. The western world can't renounce its freedoms and liberties because some backward people feel offended. The only rule that applies to media channels of any type, in the free world, is "use it only if you like it". The main and most violent attack against our freedom of expression comes in our days from the Islamic world and Muslims living here have the obligation to clearly take sides and condemn the vicious attacks.


Arnold Shcherban - 11/30/2006

is the fact that the US doesn't loose
the wars (the military campaigns) - it looses peace - cultural, ideological and socio-political transformations in the countries that become the victims of the US agression. It happens on one major reason that the US mainstream ideologues can never admit, but which is painstakingly clear to the majority in the world: the US does not care and does not support real democracy (it actually torpedoes it everywhere around the world), but just the democracy for the economic minority -the rich and collaborators of US Big Business.
That's exactly what has been happening all over South-East Asia, Central and Latin America, Africa, and Mid-East. That's exactly why this country sponsors and support, exclusively, right dictatorial regimes, right ideological and religious fanatics and terrorism.
The real democracy, i.e. the power of majority for the majority is the scariest monster for the US plutocracy, slightly covered with the fig leaf of religious pseudo-fanaticism. That's why the enemies are perpetually needed and created by
this country's real owners: corporate
business.


N. Friedman - 11/29/2006

Howard,

It might help if you read more carefully the position I asserted. The notion that Islam is properly the property of all of mankind that ought be spread, as a communal - and I used the word communal intentionally - activity, is not a recent view. It is the mainstream view and has been for more than a millennium.

What follows is the formulation as set forth by, among others, famed Islamicist Ignaz Goldhizer(d. 1921):

In addition to the religious duties imposed upon each individual professing Islam, the collective duty of the "jihad" (= "fighting against infidels") is imposed on the community, as represented by the commander of the faithful. Mohammed claimed for his religion that it was to be the common property of all mankind, just as he himself, who at first appeared as a prophet of the Arabs, ended by proclaiming himself the prophet of a universal religion, the messenger of God to all humanity, or, as tradition has it, "ila al-aḥmar wal-aswad" (to the red and the black). For this reason unbelief must be fought with the force of weapons, in order that "God's word may be raised to the highest place." Through the refusal to accept Islam, idolaters have forfeited their lives. Those "who possess Scriptures" ("ahl al-kitab"), in which category are included Jews, Christians, Magians, and Sabians, may be tolerated on their paying tribute ("jizyah") and recognizing the political supremacy of Islam (sura ix. 29). The state law of Islam has accordingly divided the world into two categories: the territory of Islam ("dar al-Islam") and the territory of war. ("dar al-ḥarb"), i.e., territory against which it is the duty of the commander of the faithful ("amir al-mu'minin") to lead the community in the jihad.

Are you really saying that Goldhizer is wrong? Note, that he is as close to being an apologist for Islam while being honest as anyone who ever lived. And, he is surely one of the greatest scholars of Islam who ever lived.

Maybe, you do not believe him. I, for one, do, having studied Islam's theology and having found it fascinating. I might recommend that you pick up a book of the writings of Muslim theologians on Jihad. If you did, you would not write what you wrote.

As for your comment that bringing religion into this is pointless, my view is that careful description of phenomena is important. In this case, understanding that we are dealing with people drunk on religion is not just a fact, it is likely the most important fact about the dispute.

Addressing the point you mistakenly associated with my analysis - i.e. Qutbism -, while the view that individual Jihad is contrary to Islam has a theological basis, history tells a very, very different story. In this regard, you might read Patricia Crone's book Gods Rule: Government and Islam. She notes Jihadis living on the border of Islamic territory and conducting regular raids into non-Muslim - most especially Christian ruled - territory. Such was not limited to a few years but went on over the course of centuries at a time.

Such razzia, in fact, often occurred against the wishes of the Caliph. Other writers have noted such razzia including, rather regularly, from Andalusia into France.

In my view, the non-Muslim regions, in fact, face people employing tactics rather similar to razzia. And, the razzia traces all the way back to the time of the Prophet.


Howard C Berkowitz - 11/29/2006

"My point here is to note that this talk of non-monolithic faith serves to avoid facing the elements of Islam that are rather dogmatic and, in fact, pretty monolithic."

Any arguments suggesting "the Muslims should" fall flat when faced with the very wide range of political opinions and actions belonging to them. Most discussions of exported terror tend to focus around Qutbist extremists of Wahabbist or Salafi origin; the "true Salafi" position is frequently argued among believers.

The most effective politicomilitary actions are precisely targeted, in theories from Sun Tzu to John Boyd. Taking on a religion seems a bit dubious. Failure to do what the US Army calls psychological preparation of the battlespace, before providing what can be politicized as enemies of the Caliphate and threats to the Holy Places, is, to put it mildly, unwise.

Hand me a sniper rifle and I wouldn't be unwilling to take down, precisely, a leader of a Qutbist movement to impose Shar'ia on unwilling people, put People of the Book into dhimmitude, and kill pagans. Actually, I'd prefer something a little more subtle and deniable than a Barrett M82. Taking on an entire religion is rather like trying to teach a pig to sing: it accomplishes nothing but annoying the pig.


Howard C Berkowitz - 11/29/2006

Correct. There was no real protest against the fatwa against Rushdie. There was no real protest against Eric Rudolph or Baruch Goldstein. Given your position that American Muslims should protest anything done by Muslims anywhere, should this not be the case for Christians and Jews?

Is this merely limited to religion? Should all second-generation US citizens of origin in country X continue to protest against actions by the government of X?

So far, I hear you assuming that Muslims must act differently than virtually any set of actors in the American political scene. Further, I suggest that your idea that there should be marches on Washington is an increasingly archaic idea for any group. Martin Luther King did not have access to the communications techniques of today.

Those American Muslims that I know well aren't all that faithful to religious doctrine; one makes the best glazed ham I've ever had. Where I do see faith is in hard work, education, and family -- the classic American road to success. When they "conspire", it's for microinvestment, as probably best demonstrated by Korean-Americans.


N. Friedman - 11/29/2006

Howard,

You write: "Muslims are no more monolithic than Buddhists"

Is your statement offered as an important observation? Is there anything on which Muslims are monolithic? Are there any features that distinguish Muslims from non-Muslims? Are there any beliefs that are universal to those claiming to be Muslim?

Here is my suggestion. While it may be true that Muslims are not monolithic, it is not, as I see it, an important or pertinent observation to the topic at hand.

By analogy: Christians are not monolithic but there are distinguishing beliefs that distinguish Christians from, say, Buddhists. Hence, there are times when noting that Christians are not monolithic is pertinent and/or important but there are times when the observation is not.

In the case of Muslims, we should presumably limit ourselves to believers, not secret and quasi-secret non-believers or heretics, etc. Of those believing/devout Muslims, what percentage believes that Islam is the one true religion? Of those believing Muslims, what percentage believes it a communal duty to spread Islam to the red and black (i.e. the Islamic formula meaning, to the entire world)? Of those believers who actually have sufficient education to understand normative Islam, what percentage believes in the above - which is the view taken by the vast majority of Muslim theologians since that view generally crystallized into a dogma during the religion's first 150 or so years -?

My point here is to note that this talk of non-monolithic faith serves to avoid facing the elements of Islam that are rather dogmatic and, in fact, pretty monolithic.


mark safranski - 11/29/2006

Hi Miriam,

COIN doctrine is about emphasizing the other 80% and connecting with the local population, not blowing things up.

General Abizaid is a smart man, the best choice for command in Iraq but he did not oversee a COIN campaign in Iraq but a conventional one directed at insurgents. Perhaps that was decided over his head. Perhaps not but in any case, I hope the Army takes that statement of his to heart.

If you are researching this area you might want to stop by The Small Wars Journal online reference library:

http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/reference.htm


Yehudi Amitz - 11/29/2006

Islam tries to limit western freedom of expression through:
- killing a TV director
- widespread violence because of caricatures published in a newspaper
- killing people and acting in a violent way because the Pope tried to engage a discussion about Islamic violence
I can continue the list but I limit it to the events closer in time.
No real protest against the above events came from important Islamic personalities in the west. If the American Muslims are real American citizens they have to be very clear about what they think about the First Amendment! There was no protest coming from American Muslims when the life of Salman Rushdie was in danger because he wrote a book.


Howard C Berkowitz - 11/29/2006

Why do Muslims not march on Washington? Perhaps because over the years, the role of any demonstration in Washington has become far less important than direct media coverage, legislation and lobbying.

Perhaps you have missed that American Muslims are first and foremost American citizens, and do not take a great deal of responsibility for actions of their coreligionists elsewhere. This is not unique to Islam.

Given the history, for example, of Sunni-Shia violence, varied opinions that Mahdists and Qutbists are heretics, and the Muslim-on-Muslim fighting in Darfur, I find the idea of a monolithic Islam rather difficult to justify. Anecdote is not the singular of data, but I have enough close Muslim colleagues and friends to see a lack of common political belief. Of course, given that most are West African, politics in that region are more important than the Middle East.

Blaming all Middle Eastern violence on Islam acting out against all else also is a bit naive, when the discussion ignores Arab, Persian, and Turkic nationalism, as well as politics of former Western colonies.


Miriam E. Mendelson - 11/29/2006

Before all you dudes go off to fight your imaginary battles, clutching make-believe weapons in your hands and salivating at the mouth (gonna do it right this time, of course)... sit back on the couch and put down the remote control (the thing you were trying to fire...).
Quote from General John Abizaid in his recent address to the Kennedy School of Gov't at Harvard (it was kickass - find the video on the Kennedy School website 11/17/06 date).
"The military comprises 20% of the actual solution in a situation like Iraq". Yeh - that's a 4-star (and head of Centcom for the region) speaking.
Definitely sounds like that small wars manual is on the same track.
I'm gettin a copy for my policy research.
(Good quote for all those with big notions - "A good idea is only as good as its execution")


Louis N Proyect - 11/29/2006

What a chillingly cynical amoral article.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 11/28/2006

And of course as Mr. Thomas mentioned, the French had problems of their own to contend with, although there was considerable effort on their part to gain control over Haiti and squash the revolution.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 11/28/2006

The Haitian Revolution is indeed fascinating, but there are quite a few reasons the Haitian slaves successfully kicked the Europeans out and forged the first ex-slave nation. Surely, the reasons listed above played a part, but as Laurent Dubois has painstakingly acknowledged in his book Avengers of the New World, the success of the Haitian Revolution can be attributed to several factors.

The Haitian slaves were faced up against the powerful countries of Britain, Spain, and France, yet they prevailed and eventually gained their freedom (although almost immediately proto-dictatorships were established by the Haitian leaders themselves). Some of the reasons why a “weak” nation defeated a “strong” nation in the Haitian Revolution are as follows:

1) Most of the Africans originally brought over to Saint-Domingue (Haiti) originated in the regions of Dahomey, Kongo, and Angola. Because they originated from areas that were somewhat homogeneous, the Haitian slaves had a similar language, culture, and religion upon their arrival to the French colony of Saint-Domingue. As a result, Haitian slaves were united on many fronts and Europeans could not adequately wedge them apart and make them fight against each other (for the most part). Divide and conquer is a great tactic that has worked for the Romans and British, but the Haitians would have no part in it.

2) Haitians had a long tradition of resistance, so they were accustomed to fighting Europeans. Although most resistance in Haiti typically was not violent per se, some in fact were. Makandel, a runaway slave, for example, poisoned white slave owners in Haiti in an attempt to abolish slavery and came to be a sort of national hero for Haitians. In addition, maroon communities were regularly in open, armed conflict with plantation society. The hardships and brutality of conflict seasoned Haitians long before the revolution erupted.

3) Many Haitian slaves had prior military experience before the revolution, so the Haitians that fought against the French, Spanish, and British were by no means militarily unproven. Several Africans who fought in the civil wars in the Kongo were brought over to Haiti, and these “African veterans” knew how to use weaponry effectively, were knowledgeable of war strategy, and tactics. Additionally, many slaves in the revolution fought for the French Colonial Militia, or mareehaussee, and had military experience as well. Related to this aspect, Haitian slaves who were former overseers, drivers, and on the police force were ideal in leadership and organizational roles. And slaves themselves were ideal soldiers because they were well disciplined and conditioned to follow orders (just think of what the 300 disciplined Spartans accomplished on Thermopylae).

4) Disease largely contributed to the success of the Haitian Revolution, particularly yellow fever. When French commander Charles Leclerc, for example, sent two regiments of Polish troops to Tiburon over half died from disease alone. In the first month in his campaign, Leclerc lost 1200 to fever, and in the second month lost 1800; Leclerc himself later died of disease. Hence, unlike the Haitians, Europeans were highly susceptible to catching diseases in the hot climate of Haiti and were utterly ignorant of the knowledge on how to prevent it.

5) Toussaint L’Ouverture, as already mentioned by the Mr. Matthewson, was the key to Haitian success because of his leadership and foresight. As a former driver and spiritual man he wielded experience and respect as a leader. L’Overture was able to communicate with all types of people in society, and he could be brutal when he had to be (brutality was a prerequisite for success in this war; he even had his own nephew Moise executed for encouraging revolts). Through strict labor decrees he rebuilt Haitian economy because he knew Europeans would invade, thus he maintained a strong, capable army. Moreover, the tactics he employed nicely fitted the conflict he was engaged in.

6) The Haitians greatly outnumbered the whites 500,000 to 20,000, so they had a large pool of people to recruit from. The principles they fought for aided them as well: the Haitians fought for liberty and quoted from the Rights of Man, whereas European soldiers fought to enslave a people who were basically fighting for what they purported to represent. In fact, this eventually dismayed many European soldiers, particularly the Polish mercenaries who only joined Bonaparte’s army in the first place to gain their independence. Consequently, several Polish soldiers defected and fought on the Haitian side. The enslaved Haitians fought for clear political and social objectives and their principles upheld morale. The Europeans, however, were there to satisfy a dictator’s sweet tooth. One Polish officer cynically wrote that they were there to “fight the negroes for their sugar.”

7) The horrible atrocities committed by the French, ironically, assisted the Haitians as well by alienating the population. Rochambeau’s brutality in particular (live burnings, drowning in sacks, crucifixions , and asphyxiating captured civilian and military Haitian with sulphur fumes en masse in ship holds) disaffected and disgusted steadfast French supporters. Accordingly, many people of color originally against Toussaint switched sides and joined in the revolution.


Best regards,
Mike


Yehudi Amitz - 11/28/2006

Muslims are very monolithic in condoning violence. They may be afraid to protest as individuals because they may be killed but why not group marches on Washington DC, if there are really moderate Muslim voices?


Howard C Berkowitz - 11/28/2006

What book did you have in mind, with what goal? So far, you haven't described anything except a desire for revenge, as opposed to influencing the behavior of anyone. Muslims are no more monolithic than Buddhists; punishing a Theravada isn't likely to change the behavior of Mahayanas not in your hands.

While there is a limited provision for reprisals in the Fourth Geneva Convention, could you point to evidence, in your book, that reprisals have any positive value in a guerilla situation? I assume you believe the Germans won in Yugoslavia and the Japanese in Manchuria?


Sean M. Samis - 11/28/2006

Yehudi writes: "To be very clear I believe that Muslim prisoners deserve treatment as humane and civilized as Daniel Perl got"

how sad. This is how small wars are lost.

sean s.


Yehudi Amitz - 11/28/2006

If you can, try to watch on CSPAN a speech made by judge/law professor Richard Posner at SAIS center in Maryland. He is a very smart guy and raises a lot of interesting questions about the war on terrorism.


Frederick Thomas - 11/28/2006


Thanks for recounting a good example, but guerrilla tactics were nothing new at the time of the Haitian conflict. Arminius used ambush tactics to annihilate superior Roman forces (2 legions, I believe) at Teutoberger Heide, two millenea ago, which have been much studied since. Sun Tsu has whole chapters dedicated to tactics to employ when a given side is smaller and weaker than another.

I believe that the larger reason for Haiti's success is that France was completely absorbed by two much bigger problems, the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. These same distractions are why Napoleon sold Louisiana to us so very cheaply.

Today, by contrast, we lose such small wars for a simpler reason: outright sabotage of the effort by our lefties, following their initial support.


Stephen Dintino - 11/28/2006

The US has the ability to win any war, large or small. But, the people of the US must have the courage, stamina and commitment to support war.

Terrorism is evil. Do not underestimate your terrorist opponent, with their desire to commit evil, horrific, violent acts against you.

The US must have the support to wage war against the terrorists and to successfully beat the terrorists for the future security of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Thank God for the selfless, brave and courageous US military troops for confronting the terrorists.

Independently research the information about radical Islam,and the hateful information aired on state run Iranian, Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian television. Check out the hateful information taught to their children in their elementary schools, and written in their school books.

It is necessary that the US wins this war, and it is necessary for all of us to sacrifice and weather the effects of war for our future generations.


Peter Kovachev - 11/28/2006

Thanks for the overview. Years ago I mused on a forum about the Jordan option, but everyone then...on all sides of the issue...essentially told me that I'm nuts. Maybe so, maybe not totally. It's hard to imagine Jordan wanting that hornet's nest of psychotics in their lap, but having them run around unsupervised in a mockery of a nation-state might be an even less attractive option.

As for last night's lecture with its surprise ending which didn't match the hour-long analysis, I thought either that I misunderstood Ya'ari, or that he was making an odd joke which didn't translate well into English. So, I called my friend Rick Kardone of the Canadian Jewish Tribune, whom I spotted in the front row last night, and he too was blown away by Ya'ari's "prescription." He tried to get a clarification, but Ya'ari refused questions and interviews, which is unusual for these kind of events. In any case, Rick's article will be appearing a fortnight from now, although it might be a while before they post the issue in the archives(http://www.bnaibrith.ca/tribune/tribune.htm).

Back to the Kadima, someone remarked that the Yesha folks don't appear to be too concerned about Olmert's "convergence" plans, and probably for a good reason. Any attempt to realize them will blow-up in Olmert's face and see him turfed-out along with his union rep for a defense minister in matter of months. My guess is that even he doesn't mean it, but hopes to mollify Condoleeza and Bush with their quixotic "nation-building" project.


Yehudi Amitz - 11/28/2006

In my book the old American principle "there is no free lunch" applies here too.


Yehudi Amitz - 11/28/2006

Ya'ari is an expert in Arab affairs, a fluent Arabic speaker and I believe that what he said will be a part of any deal with the Palestinians, if any.
I don't know if the situation of Kadima is clear when reading Jerusalem Post. From the Hebrew newspapers, I read, the situation is that Kadima doesn't have any grass roots organization, there are no Kadima local organizations at all in Israel. The small success they had in the last elections was on what remained from the merits of Ariel Sharon. If this government doesn't get a real deal with the Palestinians in up to a year and the Palestinians continue to attack Israel, I believe that early elections will have to be organized in Israel. Probably Netanyahu will be the next PM and Ehud Barak the next Defense Minister. Could be the other way around but less likely.
On the Palestinian side the state isn't the only solution, the old Jordanian option is still possible. I've read in a Hebrew newspaper that Jordan has already a plan to include Palestinian representatives in the Jordanian parliament.


john crocker - 11/28/2006

Are you saying that the behavior of the guards and interogators, other than allowing the evidence of it to escape, was acceptable?


Guy Montag - 11/28/2006

I thought that Sun Tzu's "Art of War" and Machiavelli's "The Prince" were still required reading in the military.

Between those two books, they lay a lot of these problems out in a very detailed, explicit and concise manner. Along with how to overcome them, heh.

I've always assumed our military had some sort of education in what to do when it came to conducting warfare - we still have West Point, do we not?


Peter Kovachev - 11/28/2006

Thank you, Mr. Amitz, I regret that you're out of a buck...not that Mr. Crump could benefit much from your clarifications, seeing how he reduced himself to stealing one of my cheesier lines to our mutual friend, Omar. If we ever meet, I'll cover Mr. Crump with one of our dollar coins, the Loonie, as we call it.

Judging by your name, I guess this might interest you, as it concerns a probable countryman of yours. I just came back from a lecture, here in Toronto, by Ehud Ya'ari of Israel's Channel 2 and The Jerusalem Report. Brilliant man, an incisive analyst. He covered the current political "lay of the land" in the region as few can, took a few mild digs at Mr. Olmert, and all went rather well until literally the last minute of his presentation. After describing the utter mess among the so-called Palestinians and the replacement of nationalists among them by the Islamist Hamas, he concluded by saying that the train of the bi-national solution is about to leave the station, and Israel must hurry to evacuate the hilltop settlements, move out of the West Bank, hammer out provisional borders and give the Arabs a state before it's too late. The prescription didn't match his diagnosis and I had to double-check with my equally surprised neighbour that this is in fact what he said. The largely Reform crowd gave the chap a standing ovation, of course, since all.

So, what's going on? The OU just received Olmert like a long-lost brother, and the big shots here in the Canadian Jewish community are sponsoring talks by Kadima reps, consuls and embassadors. They couldn't really be planning another bargain basement land give-away for pieces of paper again, could they? I mean, not with those flying garbage cans landing in Sderot and the Katyushas in the North right after Gaza. Someone better tell Caroline Glick to run for prime minister, before it's Israel's train that leaves the station.


Yehudi Amitz - 11/28/2006

I don't work for less than $150/hour so keep your buck and do something with it (I can't say what I have in mind because of the rules).
Germany and Japan after WWII became democracies only after brutal destruction (atomic destruction in Japan) of many cities and mass killing of the popular support for the dictatorships in both countries.
The 1938 Munich pact for the appeasement of Germany was an example of temporary truce hailed as "eternal peace" and gave Germany time to became more powerful and harder to defeat. The Ribbentrop Molotov pact was the other side of the same coin.
On the other hand if given the opportunity, the terrorists of today (and the supporting states) will not wait for one moment before they begin to destroy the democracies of the western civilization.


Lloyd Crump - 11/27/2006

I have a buck for anyone who can read Kovachev's gobledeygook from beginning to end and come up with a comprehensible summary.


Peter Kovachev - 11/27/2006

I have a buck for anyone who can read Omar's gobledeygook from beginning to end and come up with a comprehensible summary.


Peter Kovachev - 11/27/2006

...part of the puzzle why soft, kindly and liberal systems are so historically rare and short-lived. The best systems and clever tactics in the world are duds without a measure of brutality and the will to badly maul or even destroy an enemy.

The most significant indicator of this slide to a chani of defeats and historical oblivion is reliance on tribute payments (today under the cover of "international aid") and temporary truces, (hailed by our brave leaders as monumental and eternal "peace agreements"). These work for a while, until the pay-offs and retreats become insupportable. Does this sound familiar, anyone?


Sean M. Samis - 11/27/2006

Military Intelligence answers the questions that the Leadership asks. If they ask the wrong questions, or omit the correct questions (if that's not redundant) then Military Intelligence will not provide the information required. I believe Mr. Kahaner's point is that our Leaders have not been asking the right questions.

That, of course, is an occupational hazard for those who were Chosen By God to bring Democracy to the World. When you think your orders come from God, asking questions is not encouraged.

sean s.


Yehudi Amitz - 11/27/2006

sorry fot the mistake!


Yehudi Amitz - 11/27/2006

It is very clear that Abu Ghraib was endorsed at the highest political and military levels but a redneck and a dyslexic girl paid the price.
The real worry here is the low quality of the military intelligence people at Abu Ghraib who didn't understand that taking pictures and sending emails about what happened there is a no-no. I believe that intelligence people should be ivy league educated but in a volunteer army we can't get very smart and educated people in the military intelligence. Too bad!
During the WWII the letters home were censored for military secrets but today the "intelligence" isn't intelligent enough to understand that for some secret operations shouldn't be a paper (electronic, in our days) trail about.


mark safranski - 11/27/2006

I commend Mr. Kahaner for his article. An important topic which he presented well.

The U.S. military is currently wrestling with re-learning COIN as an institution and debating how theories like Fourth Generation Warfare, Network-centric Warfare, Effects Based Operations, Strategic Corporals and other paradigms should influence military doctrine, budgets and operations in places like Iraq.

htp://zenpundit.blogspot.com


John Edward Philips - 11/26/2006

"of more importance is a deep understanding of a society’s language, culture, religion, history, economic structures and mores"

Shouldn't this be obvious to everyone? Whatever happened to the concept of military intelligence, or to the use of anthropologists as advisers? Was it all subsumed into the scandalous behavior we saw at Abu Ghraib? Will anyone ever bring it back?


Tim Matthewson - 11/26/2006

Another example of a "small war" where the indigenous population defeated a metropolitan power is the example of the Haitian Revolution, 1791-1804. The 13 year war saw the local population of African and Creole populations defeat French, Spanish and English armies sent against the black revolution. It too was a local insurgency that not only achieved independence under the leadership of the black population, but also destroyed slavery in the island of Hispaniola. Its leaders, Toussaint Louverture and JJ Desalines, deserve their reputation as freedom fighters, and as major opponents of slavery in the wester world. Their tactics avoided major direct confrontations against the European troops sent against them and instead resorted to hit and run and ambush, a fact that led to their victory over the European whites. Their struggle for freedom deserves to be remembered with the other small wars that helped shape the world and continue to shape the world in the 21st century.