Wednesday, July 29, 2009
"If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles." - Sun Tzu
Perhaps it is a byproduct of the distance between America and the old world - not only across the oceans but a vast, yawning gulf between two very different cultures - that contributes to such a misunderstanding and ignorance of the people we are squaring off against in Afghanistan and the Middle East. To us this is a justifiable conflict, a righteous cause; it is a war of self-defense - they attacked us first. Indeed, it is their charismatic leader's stated goal that if they could have their way, they would kill each and every one of us.
The Islamist enemy is determined and committed to Jihad. He is willing to give his life for the cause of martyrdom. How do we fight such an enemy? Or rather, how do we prevail against an enemy that no matter how hard we clobber him, will pop up again and again and again like Whack-A-Mole?
Short of committing ourselves to a Hundred Years War, let us stand back and try to look at the world from the mind of an Afghani or Pathan.
Your average tribesman of the Kybher region probably has about one year of classroom schooling. He is practically illiterate; if he can read he has read only one book in his life, and he continues to read it everyday. He lives in a mud hut or a tent. If he's lucky he will see the age of 45. A skilled tradesman - a carpenter, or an arc welder, makes about $15 a month (OK maybe the war economy has taken off: $25 a month).
To him, we are Crusaders. He listens to what the mullah tells him, and has no reason to disbelieve what he hears: the Crusaders have invaded his homeland with the intent of corrupting the purity of his women. His village has a satellite TV where he watches American string bikini girls on Spring Break in Cancun throwing hotdogs at each other. To him this is like watching a pornographic movie.
Every villager in those parts has a father, or a brother, or a cousin (or a MOTHER) who was killed by the Crusaders' sinister Predator-launched Hellfire missiles. Many of extended families have lost their homes; such is the cowardly way the dastardly Crusaders wage war. When you think about it, is it any wonder they are inspired to go the jihad way?
But IS there another way? Can we turn this thing around? Or are we committed to a Hundred Years war in the Graveyard of Empires?
There is talk of negotiations with the Taliban . . . at the surface this seems madness; how can one negotiate with a committed fanatic whose goal is to martyr himself and gain the 72 virgins in Paradise?
Think about it; we don't talk to the leadership. They are isolated, and half of them are dead. We continue to hunt them ruthlessly. We talk to the the mid-level troops, the rank and file who are sick of the Predator coming and laying a FGM-172 SRAW (Short-Range Assault Weapon) egg on their families; the guys have gotten their jihad on and survived, and now just want to get on in life.
It's the ultimate carrot & stick. We buy them out, offer them a leadership slot in the new hierarchy. The system's as old as the Roman Empire, and it worked for them . . . they called it the Pax Romana, and it lasted five hundred years . . .