During the Christmas season (no generic “holidays” here) it may be helpful to reflect upon this year’s events in Iraq and Syria, both part of Biblical geography.
This year the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, aka ISIL or just IS) made substantial territorial gains, continuing to attract thousands of foreign volunteers, and often drubbing the U.S. sponsored Iraqi army. That despite an unopposed Allied air campaign throughout the operating area.
Conventional airpower wisdom holds that the desert is Airpower Country because there's no place to hide. The RAF did rawther well with its little known 1920s-30s Air Control scheme in Iraq but that was mainly against tribal banditti rather than organized military forces. ISIS is very much an organized military force, and reminds me of the Waffen SS: ideologically fanatic AND professionally competent.
The reason that airpower has had so little effect is, in a word, targeting. Basically it’s a repeat of the largely failed (and likely illegal, not that it matters) Libya op. NATO (and eventually the U.S.) had total air supremacy but it made little difference on the ground, at least partly because of concern about civilian casualties. Today we're largely limited to plinking specific targets such as vehicles, bulldozers, and artillery tubes. It may help but it will not and cannot decide the issue.
For airpower to be truly effective, it needs an area target--a massed troop concentration. ISIS is far too smart for that, and seems to get along fine.
Frequent drone and fighter-bomber strikes have prompted U.S. government spokesmen—uniformed and otherwise—to assure us that ISIS’ ability to coordinate and control actions has been diminished. Not that it’s obvious, but that’s the claim. It comes from the same people who said “If you like your health plan, you can keep it.”
A bit of historic background:
This month marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. In December 1944 Germany was on the strategic ropes, reeling from six months of defeats on the Western Front while the Soviets steamrolled from the East. Some famous and semi-famous star wearers believed that Nazi Germany was on the verge of collapse.
Then on the morning of the 16th, Panzers clanked out of the mist in Belgium’s Ardennes Forest—the same “impassable” area where Panzers had clanked in the Blitzkrieg four and a half years before. The Allies were taken by surprise, having no indication of the massive attack from any intelligence sources.
The Germans avoided electronic communication. They planned, coordinated, and launched the biggest surprise of the European war by phone, teletype, and paper--all secure methods. Yet Hitler launched some 300,000 men and 600+ armored vehicles against the thinly-held American line. It took five weeks and more than 90,000 Allied casualties to stop the attack. It was the costliest battle that the U.S. fought in the Second World War, with nearly 20,000 known dead.
That was 1944-45. Does anybody seriously contend that ISIS is incapable of similar procedures today, on a far smaller scale?
Nor is that all.
For a chilling dose of reality, look up Dabiq, ISIS' online magazine. Slick, sophisticated, better written and edited than many American publications. We've never seen anything comparable--a nuanced, multi-tiered, fully integrated military/PR effort, and absolutely ruthless. Even when Dabiq runs a photoshopped pic of the black flag over the Vatican, the Church talks of "stopping" ISIS rather than destroying it.
And meanwhile, the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces assured us, "ISIS is not Islamic."
We the People naively (some say stupidly) bought into the political rhetoric after 9-11. Dubya Bush said, “They hate us for our freedom.” Batguano. Radical Islamists are not remotely interested in freedom. They hate us for existing, and they have a plan to correct that situation, starting with Israel.
At that time every politician within reach of a microphone bleated about “cowardly suicide bombers.” Good lord! I’ve probably interviewed a few hundred veterans of the Pacific Theater in WW II, including men whose ships were sunk or burned nearly to destruction by suicide air attack. None of them—not one—ever mentioned “cowardly kamikaze pilots.” The very notion removes anyone who utters the phrase from consideration as a serious commentator.
Like Imperial Japan’s kamikazes, ISIS—and every other militaristic Islamic force—cannot be convinced or dissuaded by logic or reason. Both are examples of committed, courageous, intelligent zealots, absolutely convinced of the rightness of their cause. They deserve our unstinting respect, because when we denigrate them with stock phrases, we open ourselves to greater peril.
The thing that Mainstreet USA needs to grasp is that despite all the PC hype about The Religion of Peace, there are millions of Muslims who oppose ISIS and al Qaeda. Muslims have killed vastly more Muslims than they have killed Christians, Jews, or others. And if the global Caliphate ever is achieved, that will merely be the penultimate step in the process, leading to The Final Battle between Suuni and Shia.
Until then, if Western Civilization wants a reality check, look at one of ISIS’ favored methods of execution. It’s familiar to anyone who ever stepped into a Christian church.
It’s called crucifixion.
What else does anyone need to know?