File 911: Strategy & Tactics
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Victor Davis Hanson, "Pseudo-Military History" (9/24/01). Does "history" prove that military action against terrorism is doomed to fail?
William R. Hawkins, "The Art of Decisive War" (10/9/01). Does the U.S. have the military doctrine needed to win the war against terror?
John O'Sullivan, "Osama Outdated" (10/16/01). Does "asymmetrical warfare" give terrorists the edge over the West?
Michael Kelly, "Myths of the Month" (10/31/01). "The beginnings of wars are often tentative and often disastrous. They are not conclusive; the ends of wars are conclusive. This war will end, and in a conclusive victory."
Andrew Apostolou, "Friends With Limitations" (11/8/01). "In the end, this war will have to be fought with our own bullets and bayonets, not through fragile newfound friends."
Jonah Goldberg, "War and Patience" (11/9/01). America's chattering classes and armchair Napoleons need to take General Kutuzov's advice.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., "Put Osama on TV" (11/18/01). Have the media been too reticent in telling us about our scary but buffoonish foe?
Stanley Kurtz, "Push Button Warriors" (11/29/01). "The danger in all this is that we might in fact get to used to our cashmere slippers when an old-boots moment finally arrives."
Martin Kramer, "From Afghanistan to Araby" (12/10/01). If the U.S. stops in Afghanistan, 9/11 will be just another episode in the history of the Middle East rather than a watershed.
Charles Krauthammer, "Unilateral? Yes, Indeed" (12/14/01). The aftermath of September 11th demonstrates that multilateralism isn't the right way to safeguard America's - or the world's - interests.
William R. Hawkins, "Decisive Warfare" (12/19/01). Afghanistan is not a model for all future military conflicts.
Charles Krauthammer, "Redefining the War" (2/1/02). ". . . the war, the real war, is not about the last Sept. 11. It is about preventing the next Sept. 11."
Jed Babbin, "One Hostage's Life" (2/4/02). The kidnapping of reporter Danny Pearl underlines the need for better preparation to counter politically motivated hostage taking.
Margaret, Lady Thatcher, "Advice to a Superpower" (2/11/02). "The events of Sept. 11 are a terrible reminder that freedom demands eternal vigilance. And for too long we have not been vigilant."
Victor Davis Hanson, "Things Forgotten" (2/19/02). Anti-war arguments are staler than ever, but they pop up again during the post-Afghanistan lull.
Fred Barnes, "What If. . . " (3/6/02). Suppose that Al Gore had gotten his hanging chads. Would the war on terrorism look any different?
Mark Steyn, "In War, Grownups Can't Play Silly Games" (3/10/02). "Churchill didn't have an 'exit strategy' for World War II. Exit strategies are for optional foreign adventures, when. . . . you've no vital interest at stake. You don't have exit strategies when your national territory's been attacked; you have a responsibility to see the war through to the end."
William R. Hawkins, "Can We Ever Be Too Strong?" (3/13/02). Afghanistan is no more than a "little war". We need to rebuild our military so that we can also prevail in bigger ones.
Robert Kagan & William Kristol, "The Detour" (3/29/02). The failed American effort to buy time in the Middle East by appeasing the Saudi royal family and other pseudo-moderates shows that moral clarity is the only winning strategy.
Michael Ledeen, "Gulled" (4/3/02). Letting Yasser Arafat distract us from the objectives of the war is a dangerous mistake. "So let's roll, already. Faster, please."
Mackubin Thomas Owens, "How Much Is Enough?" (4/4/02). The Administration should thank, not belittle, those who point out the weaknesses of our military.
Mark Helprin, "Phony War" (4/15/02), "Coup de Boutoir" (4/16/02). Contrary to comfortable assumptions, the U.S. defense budget, even adding President Bush's proposed increases, is woefully short of what is needed to ensure victory in the current war.
Joshua Muravchik, "Hearts, Minds, and the War Against Terror" (5/2/02). "We need an effective capability for disseminating information and influence, but if its message is one of 'anxious propitiation' (in the phrase of the eminent Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis), it will not only fail on its own terms but it will undercut and compromise the very different and necessary message being sent by our awesome military forces. On this front, not only do we have much work to do, we have not even begun."
Richard Hart Sinnreich, "A Hard Look at Jenin" (5/7/02). "When, like the Israelis, we are compelled to become choosers of the slain in an urban fight, how will we balance dead American soldiers against dead enemy civilians?"
R. James Woolsey, "Foiling the Next Attack" (5/21/02). A former CIA director warns against relying too heavily on "stealing secrets". We need to learn to utilize information from a variety of sources and "think like the enemy".
William R. Hawkins, "What Not to Learn from Afghanistan" (5/22/02). The Afghan campaign proves once again the truth of a German general's dictum, "There are no longer principal [military] arms. Each arm has its use, all are necessary.”
Adam G. Mersereau, "Why Is Our Military Not Being Rebuilt?" (5/24/02). "The superior tactics and technology of our small force will no doubt yield impressive battlefield results in the current war and in future conflicts, but in the long run our small-force philosophy will create the vacuum that several freedom-hating cultures have been waiting for."
Robert L. Bartley, "At Dawn in a New Diplomatic Era" (6/17/02). President Bush's West Point declaration that the U.S. will preempt terrorism and the formal termination of the ABM Treaty mark a new approach to coping with the challenges of the post-Cold War world.
Stanley Kurtz, "New World Realities" (6/20/02). The war on terrorism has stretched our military forces dangerously thin, making it irresponsible not to consider the need for conscription.
Lee Harris, "Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology" (8/13/02). Osama bin Laden is better understood as a theatrical impresario than as a serious political actor. "9-11 was the enactment of a fantasy--not an artistic fantasy, to be sure, but a fantasy nonetheless." The author argues that the fight against fantasy-driven ideologues is less like a traditional war than the eradication of an epidemic.
Victor Davis Hanson, "So Far, So Good?" (8/16/02). A military historian evaluates President Bush's performance as a war leader.
Nic Robertson, "Tapes Shed New Light on bin Laden's Network"; Judith Miller, "Qaeda Videos Seem to Show Chemical Tests" (8/19/02). A first look at al-Qaeda "instructional" videotapes found in Afghanistan. It is mildly appalling, though not even mildly surprising, that CNN, which obtained the tapes, doesn't intend to let U.S. intelligence agencies have copies until after it has a chance to broadcast them for the titillation of its audience.
Max Boot, "Who Says We Never Strike First?" (10/4/02). "The president's pre-emption doctrine - and its first application, in Iraq - is firmly rooted in centuries of tradition. Although England , Prussia  and Israel  all technically struck the first blow, the consensus is that they were smart to do so. Contrariwise, who today thinks it was wise of Britain and France to stay their hands in the 1930's when they could have thwarted Hitler's ambitions early on?"
Fareed Zakaria, "Our Way" (10/7/02). An interesting analysis of the prospects and problems of global hegemony, though the author's touching faith in "diplomacy" as a cure-all for the problems seems a trifle naive.
Saul Singer, "Of Pirates and Terrorists" (10/10/02). "Though it may sound mundane, the first step to beating terrorism is to refuse to live with it. Acting defensively, while necessary, can also be dangerous, because it signals that a society is planning to be under attack for the indefinite future. In this sense, the growing edifice of 'homeland security' in the US and the move to build a security fence are both double-edged swords. They are similar to paying ransom to pirates."
Melik Kaylan, "Make Them Read Longfellow" (10/13/02). American culture (Longfellow, not Madonna) has a vital and underrecognized role to play in the war against terrorism.
Max Boot, "Doctrine of the 'Big Enchilada'" (10/14/02). America's future safety requires willingness to spend enough on defense to end the "procurement holiday" that began in the 1990's.
Mark Steyn, "They Want to Kill Us All" (10/17/02). Indonesia tried to appease the Islamofascist crocodile, in hopes of being eaten last. It got eaten first instead. "It's not a clash between civilisations but within them - in the Muslim world, between what's left of moderate traditional Islam and an extreme strain of that faith that even many of their co-religionists have difficulty living with; and in the West between those who think this culture is worth defending and those who'd rather sleepwalk to national suicide while mumbling bromides about whether Western hedonism is to blame for 'lack of services for locals' in Bali."
Reuel Marc Gerecht, "Democracy for Muslims -- Sort Of" (12/26/02). A pointed, though rather overwrought, warning about how easy it is to lose sight of our ideals in the course of fighting a war. "Now a consensus is growing within the administration that there are causal links between Middle Eastern authoritarianism and the rise of lethal anti-American Islamic extremism. But is this actually changing the way Foggy Bottom, Langley, and the Pentagon deal with their Middle Eastern counterparts? American rhetoric always has some effect in Cairo, Riyadh, or Amman, but the daily actions of diplomats, spooks, and soldiers are more convincing indicators of American intentions. And if we use that standard, there is little reason to believe the status quo has changed."
Jeff Jacoby, "After Iraq: Killing All the Terror Regimes" (1/30/03). ". . . this is about more than Iraq. We are in a war against terrorism - more accurately, against radical Islamist terrorists and their state sponsors. Saddam's regime is one of those sponsors, and its downfall will mark an important milestone on the road to victory. But there are other sponsors, and they, too, must be replaced."
Peter Layton, "The New Arab Way of War" (3/16/03). "The October 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Indonesia's popular resort island of Bali, which killed more than 190 people – mostly tourists and many Westerners – is a grim example of the new Arab way of war. Planning and educating the agents in bomb making and holy-war doctrine took place over months in several locations. The planners of this bombing and others have been linked to the Jemaah Islamiya Southeast Asia terror network as well as Al Qaeda."
Lawrence F. Kaplan, "Democrats Against Democracy" (3/19/03). "A chorus of leading Democrats and liberal foreign policy types – that is, voices that once could be counted on to support the promotion of democracy abroad – has emerged to lampoon the president for his 'Wilsonian' idealism. Far from being the result of doubts about President Bush's sincerity, their critique questions the broader wisdom of exporting democracy and even the desirability of democracy itself."
William R. Hawkins, "Curing the Vietnam Syndrome" (3/19/03). The United States is at last taking the strategic offensive, which is the only way to avoid quagmires.
John Keegan, "Will Trying to Avoid Civilian Casualties Cause More Deaths?" (3/27/03). "Is the effort to minimise civilian mortality counter-productive? Do slow and careful operational procedures actually increase the number of civilian deaths and the amount of suffering, when a less precautionary and more peremptory approach might achieve the same, or even a better effect, by hastening the end?" The author's answer is ambivalent.
Jed Babbin, "Babes at Arms" (4/29/03). The tribulations of PFC Jessica Lynch have been weirdly put forward as an argument for removing restrictions on women's role in combat. "Liberals debate the women in combat issue on 'gender equity' and other sociological grounds. As if the only thing that mattered were promotion opportunities that combat vets gain before others. Conservatives argue against women in combat on moral grounds. Should America let its mothers change from nurturers to soldiers? Should women be exposed to the horrors of war? Neither side is talking about the only aspect of the issue that really matters: the effect of introducing women on combat effectiveness."