December 03, 2009


Diana West asks an interesting question (via Amritas):

[W]hat if WWII had been fought as a "counterinsurgency"?

What if, instead of firebombing every important German city and killing tens of thousands of civilians from Hamburg to Dresden, and instead of firebombing Tokyo and nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki and tens of  thousands of Japanese in the all-out effort to defeat the Axis powers and End All Fighting, the Allies had sought instead to win hearts and minds?

What if Gen. Eisenhower, like Gen. McChrystal today in Afghanistan, wandered through German towns, asking das volk, "What do you need?

Posted by: Sarah at 02:02 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 We'd be leaving by June, 2011, of  course.

Posted by: Chuck Z at December 03, 2009 03:47 PM (bMH2g)

2 Thanks, Sarah.

I want to make it clear that neither Diana West nor I think that genocide is the answer. The point is that she and I fear the military

will continue to be tightly leashed, hands behind its back, bound by criminally perilous rules of engagement and limited strategies that actually cause US casualties, all in a criminally misguided effort to put over a hearts-and-mind ivory tower thesis to "protect the Afghan people from everything that can hurt them," which is how Gen. McChrystal memorably and shamefully put it.

Today, the Las Vegas Review-Journal asked,

Our military forces are more than able. Will they truly now be set loose to do the job and win? Or do they have to fear being hauled up before a court-martial if they give some terrorist a bloody lip?

I agree with John T. Reed:

The U.S. should not use more force than necessary to terminate a particular threat, but the rule should be to use the necessary force to end it right now, not to pussy foot around trying to avoid injuring any civilians, including those who deliberately allow themselves to be used as human shields.

All of the above assumes we are targeting a threat. The title of West's article asked, "How Important Is Marjeh?"

If Marjeh is so important to this war it should be bombed into surrender or smithereens, whichever comes first.

Andrew Bacevich (via the article you linked to yesterday) went further:

What is it about Afghanistan, possessing next to nothing that the United States requires, that justifies such lavish attention?


As long as we maintain adequate defenses, Al Qaeda operatives, hunkered down in their caves, pose no more than a modest threat. As for the Taliban, unless they manage to establish enclaves in places like New Jersey or Miami, the danger they pose to the United States falls several notches below the threat posed by Cuba, which is no threat at all.

"Adequate defenses" include locking our doors so that al-Qaeda and the Taliban can't come here. If they are already here, deport them.

Suppose Afghanistan collapses and al-Qaeda take over. Can't we just bomb them?

I am not a pacifist. I advocate selective aggression.

We have to ask ourselves, what are the greatest threats to the US? All this focus on Afghanistan has made us forget about the remaining two-thirds of the Axis of Evil.

All the furor over Iran's elections has died down, but the Iranian threat remains:

Iran’s apparent full-speed charge to nuclear weapons is the equivalent [of the Cuban missile crisis], if not worse. The Soviet Union was run by grown-ups who probably would not have used those Cuban nukes. Iran is not run by grown-ups. We cannot chance Iran having nuclear weapons and giving them to terrorists.

If and when such a nuke goes off in the U.S., the U.S. will not do what Hillary said during the campaign—swift retaliation—because we will not know for sure who did it. But we do know now, for sure, who is building nuclear factories as fast as they can.

And we know who already has nukes:

North Korea probably has fissile material for up to 9 nuclear weapons, and has the capability to deploy nuclear warheads on intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

I wouldn't consider Kim Jong Il to be grown up either.

I am not advocating war against Iran and North Korea tomorrow. I don't know what to do about them. I am simply trying to keep Afghanistan in perspective.

America has many enemies. It can try to keep them out. It can attack those who can harm us from afar. But it can't defeat them all.

Posted by: Amritas at December 03, 2009 04:19 PM (+nV09)

3 Chuck Z,

Did you mean June 1943?

Imagine where we'd be 66 years later if Diana West's scenario were real.

Posted by: Amritas at December 03, 2009 04:32 PM (+nV09)

4 Remember, well at least I am old enough to, the Marshall Plan?  We made sure we won and then we sent the money.
Seems like a good way to do it to me. 

Posted by: Ruth H at December 03, 2009 07:58 PM (JFseb)

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