Yesterday, Lee Presser made a great point in this guest post, The Only Rule of Engagement Will Be Victory. As one commenter noted:
This is the best analysis of the war on terror that I have read. If we do not fight to win, we shouldn’t be in the fight. Winning the war on terror starts with 1) admitting there is a war on terror, 2) being willing to confront the enemy with force, 3) fighting to win the war rather than appease the enemy, and 4) do whatever it takes to protect Americans and their homeland.
Lee is a former Navy officer, so he knows a bit about rules of engagement and warfare. Judging by news out of Washington, Lee knows far more about warfare than the people running our anti-ISIS operations at the Pentagon and White House.
You may have heard that we’ve blown up a couple hundred ISIS oil tanker-trucks recently. You probably didn’t hear that we give ISIS a 45-minute warning before we blow up the trucks. The warning is to allow the drivers to get out of the way so they don’t get hurt.
I shit you not. Straight from the colonel’s mouth:
In Al-Bukamal, we destroyed 116 tanker trucks, which we believe will reduce ISIL’s ability to transport its stolen oil products.
This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike. We did a show of force, by – we had aircraft essentially buzz the trucks at low altitude.
So, I do have copy of the leaflet, and I have got some videos, so why don’t you pull the leaflet up. Let me take a look at it so I can talk about it.
As you can see, it’s a fairly simple leaflet, it says, “Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them.” A very simple message.
And then, also, “Warning: airstrikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life.”
And so, these are the leaflets that we dropped – about 45 minutes before the airstrikes actually began.** Again, we combine these leaflet drops with very low altitude passes of some of our attack aviation, which sends a very powerful message**.
Apparently we’re worried that the people driving trucks for ISIS are just local good-ol’-boys never meanin’ no harm, as opposed to card-carrying ISIS members. We wouldn’t want to accidentally kill a Teamster-in-Syria who’s simply trying to earn a living wage.
So instead of killing the enemy, we send “a very powerful message.” A stern talking-to. “Why, if ISIS doesn’t stop slaughtering civilians by the scores, I’m going to give them a piece of my mind!”
As General Patton told the men of the 3rd Army:
We’re not holding anything! Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding on to anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold on to him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the ass; we’re going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we’re going to go through him like crap through a goose
Which brings me to my long-ago analysis of the second Iraq war. From 2004:
While we may have fought until there was no “official” Iraqi government to surrender, we did not fight until the enemy was broken. Obviously. Instead, we paused to allow him to regroup, rearm, rebuild communications infrastructure, and kill Americans by the score.
In modern warfare, we get a small window in which to destroy the enemy. Not just the enemy’s war-making capacity, but his will to fight. That window on ISIS open right now, but it won’t be open for long.
To be judged successful by future generations, the victor in war must implant a mortal fear of war in the vanquished–a fear of war that spans generations. For four generations, Japan and Germany avoided anything that looked like war. They also respected the Allies who vanquished them in World War II.
In Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria, the US and its allies stopped short of winning. We settled for breaking stuff and pissing people off, and that strategy is like making an appointment to fight again.
If you want to beat the fight out of an enemy, you don’t warn him 45 minutes in advance of your attack.
Our leaders are the problem.