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War, Morality, & Religion
& a new Military Field Manual
 

[COMMENT:  How do we combine the imperatives of the Gospel with civil government, which is charged wielding coercive force, with protecting the people, even at the cost of killing one's enemies, or of dying oneself? 

The principles are not that hard to discern.  It is putting them to work that hurts. 

God sends people to hell, mostly because they have already in effect sent themselves there by isolating themselves from Him.  But the issue of people dying because of their sins is not one foreign to Biblical faith. Nor is the idea of killing people who openly defy all norms of common decency. 

But putting that to work in the concrete requires a soul very close to God.  Our politicians, those who make the decisions about going to war, and the military, should be among the most spiritually mature of all.

In any event, if we are not to be pacifists (and I think we are not -- even though the witness of some, such as the Amish, is powerful and righteous), we must as Christians be ready to exercise coercion, even deadly coercion.  (See articles on Paul Hill.)   E. Fox] 
 

Ralph Peters writes about the new Army Field Manual 3-24,

Counterinsurgency" (MCWP 3-33.5 for the Marine Corps):

 

>> It doesn't have all the answers. No doctrine does. But it provides our battlefield leaders with a genuinely useful tool to help them understand insurgencies.

 

Yes, there's still a little too much "peace, love and understanding" silliness, but it's counterbalanced with blunt honesty that acknowledges that not all of our enemies can be persuaded to adore us. While non-lethal

techniques and non-military means certainly have roles to play, the manual now states clearly that there are some foes - primarily religious or ethnic fanatics - who need to be killed. <<

 

A response

 

This blunt restatement of what's in the Manual is chilling. Few persons who call themselves "Christians" want to read that there are human beings "who need to be killed."

 

Yet YHWH told Joshua there were men, women and children in Canaan who needed to be killed; and when Joshua protested it, he was told: "Do it, or you and your men will be killed." (my paraphrase) Why did YHWH issue this instruction? Because he didn't want the Israelites whoring after false gods.

 

The scribes who put the Koran together included large chunks of Hebrew scripture, including passages such as this one. It is the Islamists who now need to be killed. The Popes and kings who sent the Crusaders to restore Constantinople, seat of Eastern Christianity, knew who needed to be killed; but the victorious allies, after WWI, thought the Islamic hordes were gone for good, when the Ottoman Empire lost in that war. Great Britain and France even set up puppet monarchies in areas (some of which had artificial national boundaries) on the theory that the monarchies would hold there Muslim subjects in check. One after another of these monarchies fell (the Saudis haven't), and when the Shah was deposed, we were staring a resurgent Islam again. Now Iran is close to having nuclear weapons; and we're hoping Israel nukes them first.

 

The Islamic true believers in Iraq are killing each other and Coalition troops at a greater rate that the al-Qadea true believers are.

 

If we are going to put an end to this killing, we have to kill them first.

 

 

Subject: Getting Counterinsurgency Right

 

New York Post

December 20, 2006

 

Getting Counterinsurgency Right

 

By Ralph Peters

 

If a prize were awarded for the most-improved government publication of the

decade, we could choose the winner now: "Army Field Manual 3-24,

Counterinsurgency" (MCWP 3-33.5 for the Marine Corps). Rising above abysmal

earlier drafts, the Army and Marines have come through with doctrine that

will truly help our troops.

 

Doctrine matters. It doesn't provide leaders with a detailed blueprint, but

offers a common foundation on which to build strategies and refine tactics.

Start with a weak foundation, and the wartime house can easily collapse.

 

This new field manual is a solid base. Earlier drafts were dominated by

theorists locked into 20th-century thinking - approaches that failed us so

dismally in Iraq. But the final document offers a far greater sense of an

insurgency's reality.

 

It doesn't have all the answers. No doctrine does. But it provides our

battlefield leaders with a genuinely useful tool to help them understand

insurgencies.

 

Yes, there's still a little too much "peace, love and understanding"

silliness, but it's counterbalanced with blunt honesty that acknowledges

that not all of our enemies can be persuaded to adore us. While non-lethal

techniques and non-military means certainly have roles to play, the manual

now states clearly that there are some foes - primarily religious or ethnic

fanatics - who need to be killed.

 

This is a huge step forward for the Army, whose senior leadership has

suffered from a Clinton-era hangover in the political-correctness department

(many of the manual's tough-minded changes were made to satisfy the Marines

- the Corps never lost its grip on warfare's fundamentals).

 

This embrace of unpleasant realities is a step that the rest of our

government needs to take. Our politicians need to read "Counterinsurgency."

 

Earlier drafts cautiously ignored faith-fueled insurgencies and even the

phenomenon of the suicide bomber; now both topics get intelligent treatment.

The academic theorists continue to fight a rear-guard action (there's still

too much emphasis on Maoist models), but the acceptance that there's more to

many insurgencies than political ideology was a great leap forward (if not a

cultural revolution).

 

The absolutes of the draft versions are tempered in the final product,

leaving room for the complexity of conflict. There's a genuine acceptance

that counterinsurgency warfare has no silver bullets - such conflicts are

just plain tough and attempts to simplify them lead to failure.

 

We owe a debt of thanks to the officers (most of them Iraq or Afghanistan

veterans) involved in the revision of this manual - which involved a lot of

long hours, exasperation and soul-searching.

 

Coming up fast from behind (as one hopes we'll be able to do in Iraq), the

doctrine writers shook off much of the spell of the last century's bogus

theorizing and began to come to grips with the real enemies we face today

and will continue to face in various guises for decades to come.

 

I wrote "began" because, while this document reflects valuable progress in

our thinking about the dominant form of conflict in our time, it's

nonetheless an interim manual for a military in transition between the

failed "wisdom" of the past and the tactics and techniques demanded by a new

century. As "Counterinsurgency" is revised based on our experience of

conflict, the next set of drafters will need to face critical issues neither

the Army nor the Marines have gotten to yet.

 

In the spirit of constructive criticism, here are a few of the gaps

remaining:

 

While the sometimes-you-just-have-to-fight realists are in the ascendant at

last, the military's academic side still has too much influence. You see it

plainly in the illustrative vignettes chosen to accompany the text: They

emphasize soft power (doesn't work - sorry) over the need to kill implacable

murderers to provide security for the innocent.

 

The bias in the case-study selection still favors the hand-holding efforts

that helped create the current mess in Iraq (military academics, like all

academics, won't give up on their theses just because mere facts contradict

them). The drafters cite the anomalous example of Malaya (while downplaying

that campaign's violence), but ignore the same-decade example of the Mau-Mau

revolt, in which the British won a complete victory - thanks to

concentration camps, hanging courts and aggressive military operations.

 

The vignettes concentrate on ideological insurgencies (the easy stuff),

neglecting 3,000 years of ferocious religious and ethnic revolts.

 

On the first page of the introduction, we get the solemn statement that "The

tactics used to successfully defeat [insurgencies] are likewise similar in

most cases." That's true, but not in the way the drafters intended. They

were referring to the hearts-and-minds efforts that defused a minuscule

number of insurgencies over the past six decades - while the "similar

tactics" that historically worked with remarkable consistency were

uncompromising military responses.

 

A huge gap remaining in the doctrine is that, except for a few careful

mentions, it ignores the role of the media. Generals have told me frankly

that it was just too loaded an issue - any suggestion that the media are

complicit in shaping outcomes excites punitive media outrage.

 

To be fair, the generals are right. Had the manual described the media's

irresponsible, partisan and too-often-destructive roles, it would have

ignited a firestorm. Yet, in an age when media lies and partisan spin can

overturn the verdict of the battlefield, embolden our enemies and decide the

outcome of an entire war, pretending the media aren't active participants in

a conflict cripples any efforts that we make.

 

The media are now combatants - even if we're not allowed to shoot back. Our

enemies are explicit in describing the importance of winning through the

media. Without factoring in media effects, any counterinsurgency plan will

go forward at a limp.

 

Finally, the new manual fails to ask a question that no one in our military

or government has yet had the common sense to ask about insurgencies: What

if they just don't want what we want? That, indeed, has become the crucial

question in Iraq.

 

Despite these criticisms, our latest cut at shaping a counterinsurgency

doctrine looks like a noteworthy success. It's overwhelmingly honest,

honorable and useful.

 

Now we need to put that doctrine to use.

 

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit The Fight."

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