Obama's Take No Prisoners War-Fighting
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
when we had a republican administration in Washington, DC, and the
leftist media were all atwitter about treatment of prisoners taken in
the war on terror. Remember all the yammering about torture, including
water boarding and such. The media strutted around in their hair shirts
while their hand-wringing, and brow-beating, and shedding of "woe is
me" crocodile tears went on and on and on. It was pathetic.
In a piece I wrote at the time, with my tongue fastened securely in my cheek, I suggested that the way to end ill-treatment of prisoners was to -- take none.
Well! That was received with all sorts of flak from the left! But -- it
now seems that Mr. Obama took it to heart and implemented it as his
war- fighting policy. I assume he figured that you can't place
prisoners you don't have in those cells at Gitmo. So, don't take any prisoners. Just kill them on the spot.
Ever since then, bodies have been piling up like cord wood.
Since Vietnam, it has been considered bad form to publicly announce the
body count of American enemies. Everyone assumed the figures released
during the Vietnam imbroglio were elevated in the US's favor, anyway.
Frankly, I don't care -- one way or the other. Although, it is, I would
think, a useful tool in psychological warfare to, you know, play games
with the mind of the enemy. Keeps him off balance.
Somehow, I doubt Obama has read Sun Tsu's "The Art of War." I
recommend it for both military persons and businessmen. Sun Tsu's
suggestions apply to both -- and -- as much as I hate to admit it, to
politics, as well.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that America's
use of drones to hunt down and kill terrorists worldwide is a form of
terrorism itself. (Reverse terrorism??)
Now, don't misunderstand, I want to kill terrorists just as much as the next guy. I am just saying that we ARE employing a bit of tit for tat against the enemy. But hey! Its gotta terrorize them, too. As
long as they are trying to think of ways to stay on the sunny side of
the sand dunes, they are not thinking about ways to kill us. That's good.
But -- here it comes -- Obama's wholesale use of drones just seems (to this old-timer) a bit less than sporting. And, too, there is the troublesome fact that you cannot interrogate dead terrorists!
Again, in my opinion, Obama is attempting to do two things: kill the terrorists, and two: take no prisoners. I'm all for the former -- but have reservations about the latter.
When the drones first hit the battlefields there was worry, back in the
ivy covered walls of academia, that a Commander-in-Chief might find that
using the drones was an easy and relatively inexpensive way to wage
war. And that a Commander-in-Chief that was, shall we say, somewhat
averse to "mano-a-mano" conflicts might just find that a wholesale use
of drones could deliver the results he wanted while keeping his "public
hands" relatively clean. And yes, it IS hypocrisy of the purest kind -- as is something we call "plausible deniability."
Few recall when the US military refused to train soldiers as snipers. Killing the enemy, especially an officer of the enemy, at a distance -- while concealed -- was, well, considered un-gentlemanly, un-sporting, and worse, it came a tad too close to out and out murder for comfort. Those men chosen for such duty were often shunned by their fellow soldiers.
It requires a special kind of man to be able to look another man in the eye and shoot him dead -- even at hundreds or thousands of yards. It says something about us as human beings, I think, that sniping no longer pricks our national conscious. One has to wonder at the post action mental horrors with which he must wrestle the remainder of his life.
In a way, the use of drones is similar to sniping. A young man or woman
sitting thousands of miles away watching a TV monitor as he/she shoots
Hellfire missiles down on unsuspecting human targets -- not to mention the totally innocent by-standers -- and wipes them out, kills them, blows them to smithereens -- then goes home, at 1700 hours, for dinner with the family and a night's sleep.
As I said -- it takes a special person to do that.
While President Bush ordered fifty-two (52) drone strikes, President
Obama has made it an art form by ordering, at last count, two-hundred
and eighty-two (282) drone strikes.
I want to be clear: I want the terrorists DEAD! Having said that, I
AM uncomfortable with the way we are going about it. The American
culture, in which I grew up, would find this sort of war-fighting
questionable at the very least.
Sniping is acceptable because a sniper delivers a surgical kill. One shot -- one kill. With a drone's missile, one shot -- multiple kills (including anyone near the explosion, innocent -- or not.)
am very concerned that we are becoming risk-averse in our war-fighting
strategy. That tends to happen when a nation reduces the size of its
military. That may well explain why we don't win wars anymore.
I think we are going to be forced to have a national conversation about this in the near future -- whether we want it or not. Expect to see the cultural divide in older and younger Americans surface once that conversation begins.
J. D. Longstreet