What ever happened to the good war?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by msr, Sep 27, 2006.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. msr

    msr LE

  2. RTFQ


    The article isn't the most erudite out there, but I don't think it should be dismissed because it represents an opinion that is becoming increasingly widespread: political decisions are hampering/compromising the likelihood of success in-theatre so therefore the war should not be fought.

    I believe this is a dangerous leap of logic.

    An analogy - I'm not a neocon so I'm not likening Islamic terrorism to Hitler or trying to be emotive here - can be made to the prelude and Battle of Frace in 1940. We prepped for war and deployed the BEF in 1939 amid mixed domestic and foreign opinion over the nature of the threat and some controversy over the validity (and strength) of our international alliances. The multinational (well, franco-British) forces fought a campaign that was fragmented and which sorely felt the intrusions of the politicians of the day. France fell and we nearly lost an army as a result.

    The failings in the way the campaign was conducted do not mean it was somehow 'wrong' to conduct it in the first place.

    When it comes to the Warn Terr, emotions, fear and machismo seem inevitably mixed into (or a substitute for) reasoned analysis. It is important - because we have blokes out there - that we distil our arguments about the nature and failings of our operations into pertinent and hard-hitting points. It seems impossible for people to debate the tangible operational environment in either Iraq or Afghanistan without making grand statements about Labour, GWB, Israel, Immigration, Surrender Monkeys, The Crusades, Anti semitism and a whole load of other nonsense. The stakes are so high, and personal for most, that it seems impossible for people to take a reasoned viewpoint on any operational issues without first aligning them to their other political beliefs.

    As a result, the operational success (or otherwise) in Helmand/Iraq become pawns to a wider game of internet and pub politics - not to mentions the games in Westminster et al.

    All of these considerations are frankly irrelevant to whether or not we should remain in those theatres. Whether or not we should have gone into Iraq is moot, whether the US ultimately want to put a pipeline through afghanistan is neither here nor there. We have created two failed states with concentrations of islamic terrorists that don't just want us to leave them be but who want to prosecute a war against us, our interests and our populations. Yes, we may have helped create them, but they are not going to down-tools when we bug out and leave their smoking, raped countries to the mercy of the nefarious little buggers on thier borders. They will come for us again, and again - not because they're righteous, or because we deserve it, but because they're not exactly right in the head. Terrorists generally aren't, they're narcisists with stunted moral development and mummy issues. Add moon worship and semtex and you have a threat that can only be countered with death, incarceration, popular isolation, containment or permanent dissolution of their mechanisms to organise and arm each other. And not all of those work everytime.

    If we don't put them down now, if we despair and get the troops to pull out to get one over on Bush or Blair (both of which will be history by the time of their next national elections), then we will bouy the militant muslims, provide 2 big havens for them to reorg in and allow Iran, Pakistan and Syria to really get their claws into their operations.

    If I need to explain how those things are bad, then you need to read more books and less newspapers.

    There are real problems with the way we're conducting crucial aspects of ops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Unless we can hone our arguments of what needs to be done/provided, whilst understanding that we can't just up sticks and go home, all we'll serve to do is distract our godawful, vote-hunting politicians from giving the guys what they need.
  3. RTFQ - you don't just write good sexy stuff!
    Agree with all the points made. Instead of looking to assign blame we need to explore solutions. How does one put the genie back in the bottle?
    I foresee that the Coalition will drag itself out when more sane minds are at the helm. They will have the bonus of being able to disassociate themselves from status quo. There will be long winded Agreements and money transferred to New Iraq and New Afghanistan. A model on a smaller scale is available from what happened in NI.
    Yes - terrorism will continue and we have a stronger hand here. Nations must draw up intelligence and surveillance programmes to detect when attackers come onto our territory. That is when they must be scooped up. By (police & govt) reports we are doing pretty well right now but the old IRA lesson that we have to win always and they only need to win once is very applicable. The aim of the terrorist is to terrorise and we must remove their ability to do this. There should be a death penalty for terrorist acts with laws written towards a positive result without involvement of bleeding heart barristers deploying the brains to get people off. Aim of courts needs to swing from 'can we prove he did it' to 'did he do it' Each country must become an island. Sure - there will be places that give terrorists an easy ride so long as they do not strike that country. If we have a universal suspicion of anyone who wants to come onto our island, we will not go far wrong.
    Yes - it requires abandonment of many of the freedoms we have fought for. It is those very same freedoms that are, in many cases, hampering our current efforts. We now propose discussing Anti-Terrorist operations with 'trusted' representatives of the Muslim faith. I seem to remember that the 7/7 bombers were all 'trusted'.
  4. RTFQ


    I fundamentally disagree with you ORC, and while I'd fight to the death for you right to express such views, I'd equally be willing to fight any move to make this country into a police state just to allay your fears.

    I am much more scared of what chinless, power hungry milquetoasts like Blair, Beckett, Cameron and Johnson can do to the values and aspirations of this country, once they've been handed unbridled power by a frightened/angry population, than I'll ever be of a few feckless and drugged-up Mohammedans. And please rest assured that I'm aware of the weapons available to them.

    With respect, I think you are stating what you see as valid points from the context of mid to late 20th century CRW, particularly your experiences in NI and, forgive me if I'm mistaken, no small experience of dirty little "Birth Pang" wars in the middle east. That analysis may be off the mark, but my point is that you are describing a terrorism model that is not entirely applicable to AQ and the wider Islamist conflict.

    The fact is, they're not Bader-Meinhof or the RAF, not even Black Sept, they're certainly not EOKA or PIRA. Bin laden is no Abu Nidal, Sept 11 wasn't a spectacular (don't laugh, I'll explain :D) and the four unhinged little men on the underground who were wound up and supplied by equally backward clerics were not the same as a mainland ASU of stern faced paddies.

    Confusion comes firstly because the way the Int and Sy services deal with them in detail is largely the same, the tactics and methods are well born out. But AQ is an idea, not a targettable organisation and that idea inspires millions. Further confusion comes because it seems to crave the same things - Brits Out! (and yanks obviously), air time, support and sympathy, but then its goals part company from the normal nationalistic/ideological model - it wants the utter humiliation and subjegation of the west, and apocalypse. The wider strategy has to accept that this is a step up, we don't stand to lose a province or a colony, they're going for our civilisation. Piecemeal politicised strategies aren't up to dealing with that.

    As I suggested, Sept 11 wasn't a spectacular, it was a serious attempt to behead America and bring about its collapse. Yes, PIRA mortared Downing street, but they wanted to do the cabinet to urge the successive government to cut away from Ulster, they weren't trying to bring about the collapse of a nation.
    I believe that distinction changes Sept 11 from an act of terrorism (as we understood the term on Sept 10) to an act of total war. When you fight terrorism you attempt to protect your population from attack until political settlement is reached, when you fight total war you attempt to keep your civilisation intact until annihilation of the enemy or the achievement of acceptable terms.

    Now I'm sure that none of that makes you want to do anything but ramp up the defences of this country and throw out nebulous freedoms until each and every one of the enemy is dead, regardless of the cost to 791 years of legislative, parliamentary and democratic development. What should we care, that development means nothing to us nowadays? All I want is to know there'll be chicken kievs for tea, my pension will be adequate and I won't get my legs blown off by some moon-worshipping darkie between now and my admission to Cedar Valley Home for the Forgotten.

    And fair do's. That's today's Maslow's heirachy of needs, who am I to question it? I just grew up thinking Britain was somewhere other than that place. My nan's barmy ramblings of the War don't include tales of derring do in the SOE, fending off crashed Heinkel crews with a pitchfork or commandering ambulances to drive to the Front. They do speak of a woman who quietly put up with hardship and loss - and millions of others who put up similarly - because, without being told, they considered Britains culture, way of life, and principles do be worth suffering for. If anything they went out of their way to ensure life went on as normally as possible, without bleating for more protection.

    Admittedly, things are drastically different now. The conflict isn't conventional for a start, it strikes at our softest points and at the heart of our principles of societal ethics. Arguably even more important is that Government and social support are crutches for the weak minded and lazy - it's there to make life comfortable, end of story. The PC revolution has removed all middle ground in debates of culture, ethnicity, citizenship and it has fundamentally warped discussion of freedoms. If you demand responsibility from citizens of any creed you're a racist, if you lose your unemployment benefits because you were working cash in hand, you start demanding the 'right' to be able to sue someone for infringing your 'freedom' to be a fat lazy cunt.

    As a result you can't ask the population to step up and endure in the name of something bigger than them. Instead the cry is "Protect us! Take what you want just keep the darkies from my door!"

    I find it pitiful. Wrong: despicable.

    The 'terrorists' want to destroy eveything that separates our open, free society from their backward, sh1t-wiping oligarchies. What separates us isn't "winning," its the very real, very sensible freedoms that others won for us. I believe we should surrender those freedoms VERY dearly, because history teaches us that we won't get them back easily.

    It may not be a strategy, but is is a principle, and in a war of civilisations, the first step is defining what you stand for so others can rally around it too.
  5. Nicely put RTFQ; Your eloquence is unbounded. Back to the original post: my belief is that the great unwashed British public is unable and unwilling to differentiate between our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that is what is causing the unpopularity of the latter. Because of the (IMHO justified) unpopularity of the war in Iraq, the (IMHO justified) war in Afghanistan is tarred with the same brush in the mind of the public. Don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware of the terrifying and possibly insuperable difficulties which will have to be overcome in order to win in Afghanistan, and I question the wisdom of putting our feet in this particular bear trap, BUT I do believe it is a just war, which we are right to fight... however, a few more troops and planes would be handy!

    Edited to try and make sense...
  6. Well said RTFQ, its just a pity politicians in BOTH houses won't be reading Your post.
  7. I'm very impressed with RTFQ's post. This is just the sort of justification I was fishing for in a recent thread here. This gives me anyway a lot to think about.
  8. RTFQ- Can we have it in brief mate please. Just bullet points. Can't be arsed reading all that...
  9. RTFQ


    Don't worry, it's not important. Ready Steady Cook is on soon...
  10. My concern about the way we have treated terrorism in the past arises from my perception that, in the long run, they mainly get what they demanded. Mau Mau, EOKA, Rhodesia, PIRA (not finished their campaign yet but doing OK at very little cost to themselves) plus all the little wars in Africa. I accept that my proposal is strong meat but it need not impinge upon those who have no axe to grind. The fanaticism of fundamentals is something we have not come across in modern times. They are prepared to die for their cause; we need to accept change for ours to survive. I used the phrase genie out of the bottle to signify that the whole ball game has changed. Just as the officer with a loud hailer, men in a square formation with banners and a clerk writing notes gave way in supporting civil powers so very suddenly after 1969 in Belfast.
    Relying on politicians and discussions is unsatisfactory where one side (or possibly both) has no intention of compliance or cooperates only with the parts that favour their agenda. If we look at Herrick and Telic, who is there that we can speak with anyway? Even when we find him, can he carry the country with him in his agreement?
  11. I'd respectfully disagree with RTFQ's assertion that the 9/11 attacks were an act of total war. Al Qaeda as an organisation simply didn't (and doesn't to this day) have the capacity to wage total war, both in terms of money, people and organisation. You're entirely right, al Qaeda is more an idea than a concrete entity. 9/11 was a spectacular event that sought to solicit a response from the US and the West- and looking at the long range picture one could easy say that the reaction that was chosen has played directly into their hands. Despite the Muslim world's near total revulsion at the initial attacks themselves, in the last five years the ideas of al Qaeda have spread farther and carried more credence than ever before. Why is that? Is it the compelling video and audio recordings of the bin Laden press machine, or is it 24/7 global news coverage of Uncle Sam and his "lil friens" trotting around the globe blowing up sh1t and breaking stuff like Tony Montana on a coke binge?

    We find ourselves in the very definition of a dilemma- a problem to which there is apparently no preferable solution. I have no doubt that you're right, that a withdrawal will signify weakness, but by accepting that, one also has to recognise that there is a limit to what military action can accomplish. Our various leaderships have had 5 years to think up a way in which "victory" can be achieved, but the last time I looked, nobody had even managed to agree on what the conditions under which we might declare victory actually look like. In other words we have no strategic objective. We simply don't know where we're going, let alone how we're going to get there. The logical position from this perspective leads us to the old adage "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging."

    However, there is another argument. The fact of the matter is that policy-makers, for whatever reason, decided that wars are easy- that they do not come with the attendant political risks that they once did. (No need for mass mobilization, an austere "war economy" or any other burden on the population as a whole etc.) The question they have to now ask themselves, which can be drawn to a degree from RTFQ's writings also, is "How badly do you want it and how far are you willing to go?" The trouble for the policy makers is that once you start involving the mass public, the question of what the National Interest is becomes a lot more democratic- people are going to start asking an awful lot of hard questions if it's going to cost them anything. Not least is the question "Is it really worth it?"
  12. Top notch post RTFQ.

    Al-Qaeda is an ideology not an organisation. You cannot defeat an ideology by kinetic means. Communism, an idology, was defeated by destroying the Soviet economy - not the ideal itself. Communism is alive and well today - it just doesn't have the teeth and the bite any longer.

    Many disparate groups often claim, or are accused of being 'linked' with al-Qaeda when the 'link' is often no more than the fact that some individuals happened to be Islamic. Al-Qaeda's pre-eminence in the PR world allows a handy moniker for the semi-ignorant to band around. Were the 7/7 bombers truely al-Qaeda operatives or simply waging an apparent west v Islam war - a myth created in equal part by al-Qaeda AND certain elements of 'western' political structures?

    The 'west' and al-Qaeda are not at 'war' as such; its a struggle for hearts and minds, followers and disciples!. We were at war with Iraq, but now we are stuck in between somebody else's civil war. We were at war in Afghanistan, now we're providing muscle to one side in a struggle for power.

    At this moment it's a struggle to determine whether semi-developed - as perceived by the 'west' - states follow a similar path of cultural development as experienced in Europe over the past 4-500 years, or whether those states are allowed to go where and when they want - as long as they follow an Islamic doctrine! The longer this struggle continues, the further it will spread and infect areas closer to home. Already, but slowly, it's becoming a struggle to determine which way of life we wish to follow. But it is reaching our shores based upon actions from within, not without.

    Every single step towards a 'police state', however small, is a victory for those wishing to destroy our lifestyle and society. In that sense, I firmly believe we (the west) are losing this struggle hands down. We're losing because of the methods that are being taken to combat the problem. To blatantly use and abuse crabtastic's 'hole' metaphor: we're in a hole, can't see it's a hole, so we continue to dig our way out!

    However, I do disagree on one point. Like crabtastic, I do not believe 11 September was an act of 'total' war. Although I am a little concerned that it may have been the initial catalyst towards such an event. For me, and assuming the 4th aircraft was heading for the White House or Capitol Hill, September 11th, 2001 was a symbolic strike against the US's military (Pentagon), political (WH or CH) and economic (WTC) dominence/hegemony. I simply do not see how, in any shape size or form, anybody could expect the total collapse of a nation, state, governance or culture with the relatively minor strikes involved - sorry, but in terms of damage to the very fabric of American life, this was nothing! Undoubtably it was an immense shock to the system, a shock magnified by the delusion that it would, could, never happen; nobody dare attack us! The only real change to US society was realisation that acts of political violence can work both ways.

    Having awoken, regretably, their response was the wrong one. The greatest success for al-Qaeda, and the greatest failure/mistake for the 'west' was not September 2001, but the invasion of Iraq. Everyday this failure/mistake is being compounded - sometimes in drips (Baghdad death toll and reports of torture et al.), sometimes in bounds (Israeli assault on Lebanon). We are bimbling, as if mesmerised, into a full on Christian v Muslim war. A war that cannot be 'won' by creating more body bags than you incur!

    Individual acts of terrorism, even on that scale will NEVER defeat western culture. Western culture can only be destroyed from within - and we're heading right down that path!!!!

    Like communism, we need to defang and muzzle the likes of al-Qaeda and Islamic nationalism. We cannot defeat it on the battlefield.

    I hope this is a lucid and readable as your post RTFQ. No apologies for lack of bullet points. I believe Jamie Oliver is on shortly. :)
  13. Top post RTFQ, Merkator, ORC and Crabby, I hope that I can add some value, i know i'm a Mong at english so sorry in advance...

    I appreciate on this thread that there are variations on what exactly the situation is in terms of our current Ops and what we are trying to achieve. To take the debate forward he is a question and answer thought process….

    Question 1. Are we at war?.

    I assess that this is the nub of the argument. In essence I believe that we are in 2nd Cold War. It is an ideological battle primarily with a few minor FEBAs stretching across the globe. It is obvious that the majority of peoples do not feel that they are at war, yes the Terrorist could strike anywhere at anytime, but there is no palpable fear of imminent death, in the West. As Crabby said we are not making sacrifices and as rule the War Chest is not draining our national resources.

    - We are not at war in physical sense.
    - We are fighting an ideological war.
    - We are engaged in a number of complex military operations.

    Question 2. Do we need to prepare for ‘the war’?

    I assess that we are still the beholders of our own destiny, we could end up fighting a real war but in all probability we will not, the ‘enemy’ is too divided. Worse we have a symbiotic relationship. (The same is true for the US and Iran where an excessive move by either would hurt both significantly). Needless to say it is not wise to be complacent. I believe that we should be focusing on preserving our wealth, so that we can pay for a war if it comes. More importantly we should be defining and affirming our own ideology and values system, this is challenging as the more pluralistic the state, the harder it is to agree on the values.

    Question 3. How do ensure a more success in the Ideological War?

    First we need to define and defend our values. GWB and TB are very good at stating what are values are but they are less effective at ensuring they survive and are reinforced. We need to strongly counter in a language that the enemy understands their propaganda. The strength of Muslim Empires have depended on wealth and the ability apply a pragmatic version of Islam across their Lands, to defend and maintain there borders and those people within their reach. It is clear with the world we have now wealth is determined by knowledge and the application of this to provide for the population. Therefore we need to counter there argument, by showing the gains that they could have by adapting their values. In addition in light of the situation we are in we need to adjust how we project ourselves militarily and philosophically. To do this we need re-assess the threat, the ideology is strongest where central government is weakest. The following countries pose a significant threat to us in the near term:

    - AFG
    - IZ
    - Somalia
    - Occupied territories
    - Pakistan
    - Saudi Arabia + gulf states.

    Question 4. What do we do in IZ and AFG?
    For starters we need to shore up public support for Ops in both countries. Initially we need to make sure that the general public understands the reasons for the invasions were different, and that our objectives are different. This requires clear direction from the very centre of government down to the lowest Pte on the ground. Determine, what is an acceptable end state is in each empower the military to determine which one is the ‘quick win’ and get it sorted. Then focus on the other.

    - I suggest that a 3 state IZ is the easiest and safest to achieve quickly. If anyone does not like the Kurds having a state, or the Shia become too powerful. E.g. Turkey and Saudi/Kuwait tell them to ‘fcuking ram it’. Point out that the option is that we will let it implode by unilaterally pulling out. By doing so, moderate Iraqi’s and the surrounding nations might understand the seriousness of the situation and get a working solution in place. It does have unpleasant risks: ethnic cleansing, enhanced power in Iran etc etc. It would, however, instantly free up 150,000 soldiers and save nickel or two.

    - Focus of AFG (and Pakistan). Flood the place with troops, to oversee rebuilding and provide security. Tell the Iranians and the Pakistani’s that we will work with the Afghans on the border and really ramp up security, whether they like it or not. Invest money in the country, in terms our providing infrastructure. This must be managed and built by the locals and not Bechtel otherwise the wealth will not trickle down. Tell the Pakistani’s that since the NW regions are autonomous we will pursue fighters, smugglers, at will to the boundaries of their central government control.

    - Recognize that the total wars of the past are not a parallel for now. Both IZ and AFG were defeated as states almost before we fired a shot. But we did not break the will of populace as we did in Germany. The populace were brought with promises, true and imagined. Until we recognize this, we are****ed, we have to be able to manage there expectations otherwise as we have seen we become trapped in a morass where either we withdraw and are seen as weak or fail to put the resources to achieve the aims and trap our militaries in a never ending nightmare. It is time to consolidate and do some serious blue skies thinking.

    - In essence it is time to move away from the notion counter insurgency or defeating terror. It is ideology, stupid.

    - We need to focus militarily on one challenge at a time in order of priority.
    Cut our loses to consolidate our position in one theatre.

    - Contain other countries. Risk manage the threats and our resources.

    - Fight by proxy if required e.g. Somalia. Risk Management.

    - Sort of Israel and Palestine fast. Tough on crime etc etc.

    - Plan for a Nuclear failed state of Pakistan. Risk management.

    - Plan for a Saudi Implosion and deal with the dearth of oil. Risk management.

    - Take one lesson from WWII in the Battle of Western Europe. Be humble warriors. Respect the population and manage there expectations.
  14. Jailorinummqasr!

    Ideological war? Who has said this stupid thing? Those lia... err respected politicians that lie... err.. presented unverified information before?

    If you regard mssrs. Bush and Blair and symbols of Western values then the war mentioned by you is unwinnable.

    I propose you more realistic view. Our American friends (more rights current powerkeepers) are trying to establish global American military and geopoliticl domination in the World (in vain of course). These helpless attempts are being supported by some political poodles that are being awarded by medals and pieces of cheese.

    These morons dream about ideological orgasm in expense of lives of American, British, Canadiand and so on soldiers.

    Solution for Iraq and Afghanistan - negotiations. For Israel/Palestine - an order to Israel.

    Somalia - leave it alone.

    Saudi Arabia, Gulf states - leave them alone.
  15. Sergey,
    This has the potential to be a very good thread. Please be a good boy and don't fcuk it up.