USAs militære teknologi er uten sidestykke og overlegen enhver motstander. Men en krig vinnes ikke av teknologi, men av mennesker og her er situasjonen en helt annen.

USA har kapasiteten, men ikke viljen, hevder Richard M. Salsman. Han intervjuer historikeren John David Lewis, som har skrevet boken: Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History.
. Men det er en dyp motvilje blant vestlig elite mot å gå inn i kulturelle og religiøse konflikter. Det gjør at man nekter å se det fulle omfanget av den krigen som islamister erklærte mot modernitet og Vesten i mellomkrigsårene, ved eksempelvis stiftelsen av Det muslimske brorskap i 1928.

Men uten at man er villig til å gå inn i de kulturelle-religiøse aspektene vil man aldri vinne.

Donald Rumsfeld var gjest hos Fareed Zakaria på tiårsdagen for 9/11. Zakaria trodde Rumsfeld skulle være full av selvkritikk og anger. Rumsfeld viste ikke slike takter. Han sa: hvordan kan du utkjempe en krig hvis du er redd for å nevne fiendens navn?

Han sa president Bush var livred for å nevne ordet islamisme offentlig, og administrasjonen ble preget av denne politiske korrektheten.

Barack Obama forsøker å vri seg utenom ved å satse på målrettet kontraterror: ved å øke innsatsen av droner og spesialgrupper som tar ut målene.

Men også denne strategien har omkostninger: den vekker vrede i den muslimske verden, og har ikke noe svar på hva man stiller opp mot den ikke-militære jihadismen, salafismen og islamismen. Fienden har mange ansikter og hvis man ikke våger å identifisere dem vil man til slutt ikke være i stand til å gjøre motstand.

Why Washington resists victory in a post 9/11-world

Instead of immersing themselves in a maudlin stew of sadness, nostalgia, and fear, Americans might better commemorate the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 with a sober, realistic assessment of their government’s disastrous foreign policy. Tragically, it’s been a policy of appeasement. Since 9/11, despite some successes (the recent killing of Osama Bin laden) Washington’s strategy has been almost deliberately self-restrained and self-defeating. Mr. Obama’s world-wide “apology tour” in 2009 was only the most egregious example, but President Bush adopted a similar stance, by frequently calling Islam a “good and peaceful religion.”
The absence of any national defense on 9/11 and Washington’s subsequent refusal to inflict full revenge on state sponsors of jihad constitute perhaps the biggest government failures in U.S. history, yet most of our politicians and citizens responded by endorsing still-bigger and less-competent government. While 9/11 also exhibited the evils of religion, most U.S. politicians and citizens responded by becoming still more religious. Most people also extol the alleged “self-sacrifice” of “first responders,” not realizing how that dishonors the responders’ love of life and liberty – and implies that the suicidal jihadist-hijackers also were morally noble.

U.S. foreign policymakers and commanders-in-chief alike have been reluctant even to name the real enemy – Islamic jihad and its state sponsors – with the result that America remains embroiled in never-ending, half-hearted wars against inferior enemies, which, together with our bunker-like “security” schemes, erode our privacy, our personal dignity, our civil liberties and our fiscal integrity. America’s “leaders” have changed the American Way of Life, for the worse, being so eager to erect a pseudo-police-state. Bin Laden may be dead, but the disastrous military-economic policies of Republicans and Democrats honor his memory by pushing his long-term goal of ruining America. In 2004 CNN reported how Bin Laden told Al-Jazeera that “we are continuing this policy of bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy, God willing, and nothing is too great for God. We also bled Russia for ten years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.”

Bin Laden seemed to sense that U.S. leaders were cowards, eager to have our military pull its punches, and reluctant to obliterate Islamic jihadists or their sponsors. For years we’ve all heard foreign policy “experts” arguing against the pursuit of an all-out victory in this war, because it would spawn new hatreds, create more enemies, and ensure more destructive conflicts in the future. So instead of seeking revenge (justice) for 9/11 we were to grant forgiveness (mercy), learn “why the enemy hates us,” and change our own way of life.

We weren’t supposed to kill our enemy but instead turn our other cheek and accommodate him. Foreign policy “experts” aside, haven’t Americans heard such views preached constantly in their churches and synagogues? When in 2003 the critics derided Mr. Bush for declaring, on a U.S. carrier deck, “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, it wasn’t really because his declaration was a bit premature, but because he had declared victory at all. After all, for many years Americans have been told not to ever expect a “definitive end to the conflict.”

Victory that’s total, definitive, unconditional, and swiftly-achieved is the only truly rational aim in war, and while American leaders no longer seem to believe that principle, it’s been no better elucidated than by John David Lewis, a visiting associate professor at Duke University and author of Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton, 2010). In his superb book Dr. Lewis examines six major wars, from antiquity to the U.S. Civil War to World War II, and explains how “military commanders have achieved victory and lasting peace by identifying the core of the enemy’s ideological, political and social support for a war, fiercely striking at this objective, and demanding that the enemy acknowledge his defeat.”

The goal of war, Lewis contends, is to “defeat the enemy’s will to fight.” Only an aggressive, strategic military offensive can achieve victory in war and thereafter secure a sustainable peace, while defensiveness, indecision, and apologetic nation-building only prolong the carnage and end in precarious stalemates. For Lewis “both war and peace are consequences of ideas, especially moral ideas.” It is evil to initiate assaults, by any motive, against innocents, destroying their life, liberty or property. Self-defense is moral because the individual self is itself moral. The enemy must be de-moralized, its immorality and evil explicitly identified and repudiated.

I spoke with Dr. Lewis last week to learn his thoughts on this 10th anniversary of 9/11, and to ask where America now stands and what he thinks of U.S. foreign policy, given the lessons he discerns from history. I also asked whether American policy has been a success and whether we’re safer today. He told me:

“If by ‘success’ is meant that we’ve weakened the ability of a group like Al Qaeda to attack American soil today, the answer is ‘yes,’ we’re safer – for the moment. But if we ask if the jihad movement has been defeated in the long-term, and if we’ll be safer looking out into the future, the answer is clearly ‘no,’ and American policy is failing. Americans have lost sight of a basic truth: war is not launched by technology, whether by spears or inter-continental missiles, but by human beings who make a decision to fight or not. It is the will to fight that is the basic motor behind every act of aggression, and it is the will to defend one’s self that drives every forthright response to aggression. The will to fight, combined with the capacity to fight, makes a war inevitable. The capacity of the U.S. to prevail in battle is unmatched today. No nation or group can stand up to the America army in a pitched battle. The Middle Eastern nations are particularly weak. The regimes of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein each fell within weeks of an American assault. Despite such routs, the jihadists today continue to bellow

endless promises of war, and their suicidal insurgencies persist. We remain there, bogged down, because their will to fight is unabated, and unabated because their ideology – Islamic Totalitarianism – is intact. Until and unless American leaders confront and defeat that ideology, we can be certain the jihadists will develop a capacity to bring mass death to American shores. Given their will to fight, they will use it.”

So it seems America has a greater capacity than a will to fight jihadists, while the jihadists have the reverse – a greater will to fight than a capacity, and yet they are bolstering the latter, as is obvious in Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry. Dr. Lewis puts it this way:

“The Americans and the jihadists stand in diametrical contrast. The jihadists are physically weak, unable to withstand any American attack. This is why they resort to suicidal terrorism. But, intellectually, the Americans have not really grasped that they are in a war, and that only their will to fight can end it. The weakness of the Americans is in their insufficient moral commitment to winning the war. So it was for America in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong won the war because their will to fight never wavered.”

Dr. Lewis recounts how, after that war, a U.S. negotiator reminded his Vietnamese counterpart the U.S. was undefeated in battle; the Vietnamese officer replied “That is irrelevant.” Yet surely we learned from our failure in Viet Nam? Not so, according to Dr. Lewis:

“We have not learned this lesson. Attacked on our own soil and across the globe, we’ve refused to accept that the cause of the slaughter is the avowed commitment of clerics, pundits, and political leaders to a barbaric ideology of religious warfare (jihad). Our approach places technological superiority in service to apologetic self-abnegation. We apologize for every dead civilian, even though caused by jihadists using them as shields, and strenuously proclaim we’re only benefiting others, not ourselves. Such statements betray moral weakness to our enemies, and tells our friends we’re not trustworthy. While schools in Pakistan train Taliban jihadists to kill Americans, we negotiate with so-called ‘moderates’ among them. Academics scream about American sins, excuse bloody tyrannies as ‘liberation movements,’ and label Israel as ‘occupied territory.’ Analysts predict the rise and spread of political Islam, while Iran’s maniacal theocracy makes the prophecy real. To explain this litany of anti-U.S. aggression we search doggedly for evidence of our own malfeasance. We atone for our alleged sins by showering foreign dictatorships with money and the sanction of diplomatic discussions.”

This characterization of America’s global stance as “apologetic self-abnegation” seems at odds with its more usual reputation as the arrogant, imperialistic, jingoistic, unilateralist “cowboy,” unjustly imposing his will on the world’s afflicted and down-trodden. But the evidence of the past decade, at minimum, corroborates Lewis’s view. Our tepid response to the assaults of 9/11 seem nothing like our proud and resolute response to the assaults suffered at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Despite America’s overwhelming physical-military prowess, she’s humble and on her knees, with insufficient spirit or motive to proudly and righteously condemn militant Islam, to vanquish jihadist regimes, or to fully rebuild Ground Zero. Perhaps this also explains our economic languor. What has brought us to this sorry state of affairs? For Dr. Lewis,

“The answer is both simple and enormously complex: the ideas that have saturated our cultural life. What do we hear all around us? What moral guidance are we offered? Don’t throw the first stone against another culture, we’re told – your own has much to answer for. Don’t call on history – your victims want restitution for colonial crimes committed by your ancestors. Don’t cite economics – your capitalist system is oppressive, and foreign peoples want to escape. Don’t think you’re right – there is no right. Don’t uphold your own values – you’re satanic, and self-esteem is a mere cover for decades of evil. The new path to American atonement is apologetic self-abnegation. We merely pretend to fight in war and excuse our feeble acts as done for the good of others, not ourselves. It was ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom,’ not ‘Operation American Defense,’ that brought us to Iraq, and in Afghanistan it was ‘Operation Provide Comfort.’ Our ‘reward’ for liberating Iraqis is a self-imposed, decades-long, multibillion-dollar duty to provide food, clothing, and toilets to Iraqis – plus the rise of Iran into a regional, and soon nuclear, power. We’ve sacrificed our soldiers to self-abnegating rules of engagement. At home we’ve turned on ourselves, created the infrastructure of a police state, especially at airports, where we suffer invasive body-searches so as not to be seen as ‘profiling.’ Like self-flagellating monks crushed by guilt, we scourge our own skins rather than the skins of those who launch the jihad.”

It sounds as though America, having been unjustly assaulted by savages wielding a medieval, barbaric religion (and our non-medieval, scientific aircraft), responded in a similarly-medievalist manner, which is to say selflessly, but instead of being aggressive about it, it’s been passive, and instead of a rising to the occasion, it has shrunk before the task at hand. What explains why we haven’t acted forthrightly to defend ourselves, as we did in World War II? Dr. Lewis concluded our chat with this trenchant insight:

“The central ‘evil’ we seek to avoid is to fight for our own self-interest – a motive which is not, in fact, an evil one. We’re ignorant of the morality of rational self-interest, and to maintain what we think is the moral “high ground,” we base every action on the good to be gained for someone, anyone, other than us. Until and unless we recognize that we’re truly fighting for good, and that we ourselves are good, well-worth defending for our own sakes, we’ll continue to hamstring our troops and undercut our own efforts with the apologetics of self-abnegation. Every passing day will bring our enemies closer to the moment when they’ll have the capacity to wreak even greater havoc on us. War is a terrible thing, but is it not far more terrible for an entire generation to grow up watching the slow bleed of a war that we selflessly refuse to win? And isn’t it worse that they see the bloodletting caused solely by the inability of their elders to recognize their own right to defend themselves – and their values – for their own sake?”

Richard Salsman is president and chief market strategist of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc., a research and forecasting firm that quantifies market-price signals to guide the asset allocation and trading strategies of pensions, banks, investment managers, and hedge funds. Mr. Salsman has authored two books and six chapters on money, banking, economics and public policy. His work has appeared in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Investor’s Business Daily, Barron’s and the New York Times. He has worked previously for the Bank of New York, Citicorp and H.C. Wainwright Economics.

The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

September 22, 2011

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