U.S. general officers seem clearly unacquainted with truth and reality

Last Wednesday (28 October 2015), FOX’s Neil Cavuto interviewed a Congresswoman who argued that the United States had to stop trying to destroy Bashir al-Assad’s regime in Syria and concentrate on decisively defeating the Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, etc. How can that be done, Mr. Cavuto asked? The Congresswoman — who is a U.S. military veteran — responded that the use of Special Forces and air power can turn the trick. Always the gracious gentleman, Mr. Cavuto behaved as if the Congresswoman was making sense, providing insight, and pointing the way to victory. In truth, she was simply parroting the long-discredited line of the U.S. bipartisan governing elite.

This Congresswoman, let it be noted, is not the only military and former-military person who continues to advocate this formula long after it has proven an utter, costly, and bloody failure. This odd passion for championing unrelenting failure seems especially common among U.S. general officers. On FOX, for example, every former U.S. military general the network employs as a “FOX News Consultant” advocates this nonsense and, in general, has been wrong about every single aspect of the U.S. war against the Islamists before and since 9/11, most prominently in arguing that the now-disgraced General Petraeus’s “surge” delivered victory in Iraq when it did nothing but ensure the mujahideen escaped and lived to fight another day. (NB: I chose FOX’s generals to comment on here because I usually listen to FOX on SiriusXM Radio in the car. My hunch is that almost all of the panoply of former U.S. general officers who pontificate across the airwaves are equally as deceitful and as often wrong as those retired generals who appear on FOX.)

The sole soldierly source of sanity and commonsense on this issue on FOX is Colonel Ralph Peters, a man who speaks bluntly, honestly, and incisively when he states that Americans are fooling themselves if they believe the Obama administration’s deceitful assertions that its policies toward IS are leading to the group’s defeat and the United States to victory. Americans would greatly benefit from paying very close attention to Colonel Peters’ words, as well as from reading his splendid books on war and U.S. foreign affairs and his equally admirable and instructive novels about our Civil War.

The sum of all of this is that nearly 20 years after Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda declared war on the United States (August, 1996), Republican and Democratic presidents, their parties, most U.S. general officers, and virtually all of the media have somehow missed America’s magnificent, undeniable, and, indeed, overwhelming success in proving what cannot, has not, and will not defeat what is now the bin Laden-birthed, worldwide Islamic insurgency.

Special Forces: If you want to rescue a captive, kill one foe or a small group of the enemy, or direct airstrikes, these courageous and superbly trained men and women are who you call. They cannot win a war, however, because almost all of what they do — as in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Iraq — leaves the strategic situation in each place and worldwide unchanged and still in Islamists’ favor. Each Special Forces victory is worth having and merits applause, but add them up and you find the strategic advantage lies firmly with IS and that the Special Forces have produced the chump change of war.

Air Power: That any American still raises the use of air power as an effective means of eradicating IS and AQ underscores how few mature and intelligent adults can be found in the United States. The air forces of the United States, NATO, and multiple, sort-of-allied Arab countries have been attacking the Islamist enemy for years, along, more recently, with those of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Russia, but the Islamist movement today is larger, better armed and more geographically dispersed than ever before. And this enemy, remember, has no reliable air cover of its own whatsoever. The multiple air forces that are bombing and strafing an enemy who cannot hurt them have not only not won, but have seen the strategic situation grow much worse. The air forces, in fact, have not produced as much chump change as the Special Forces.

Drones: Like Special Forces, drones are good for killing one foe, or several, and their supporters at a crack. All to the good, but so what? Again, drone attacks have increased with each passing year but have made no dent in the Islamists’ manpower growth or strategic advantage. Build more drones, kill a few more enemies, Islamist forces keep growing, and America still loses. Drones produce a widow’s mite of chump change.

Limited Numbers of Military Units: Mr. Rumsfeld’s “small footprint” blueprint was madness in 2001 and it is even madder today. Mr. Obama sends 250 troops to Niger, 300 to Cameroon, a half-a-hundred to Iraq and Syria, and the result is that American parents see their military children marooned in hostile foreign territory, like the U.S. cavalry in John Ford’s brilliant film trilogy. The use of a “small footprint” by a Great Power does nothing to terminate the enemy’s growth; indeed, a defeated Great Power — a title won by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq — is a powerful recruitment tool for the Islamists, second only to the motivation provided by a half-century of U.S.-Western intervention in the Muslim world. The repeated and always losing use of the small-footprint formula also gives the foe tremendous confidence that the United States is led by feckless, moral cowards who are dangerous to no one but themselves and their nation. No chump change here, this approach is all loss.

Training Foreigners: Those advancing this idea are merchants of idiocy, cowardice, and America’s defeat. The U.S. military has proven beyond doubt’s fabled shadow that they cannot train Muslims who have no desire — indeed, they have an aversion — to fighting and dying for either Washington’s fundamentally pagan foreign-policy goals or, in the case of Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis, to regain the pleasure of being ruled by murderous Shia regimes. Yemenis, Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis, and Kurds, all have been trained thoroughly and expensively by U.S. forces and none of them have fought worth a lick. At their best, the U.S.-trained foreigners have proven to be a completely reliable and speedy medium for transferring massive quantities of modern U.S. arms and ordnance to the mujahideen. Overall, the U.S. military’s training of Muslim foreigners has increased the Islamists’ strategic advantage through their defection to AQ and IS as already trained fighters, by depleting the U.S. military budget, and by necessitating the reintroduction or retention of U.S. forces — as today in Iraq/Syria and Afghanistan — to prevent the collapse of U.S. trained-and-armed militaries and their governments. The training tack does not produce any chump change at all, it is all loss.

Covert Action: The U.S. intelligence services — like Special Forces, drones, small military footprints, and training foreign Muslims — cannot win wars and never claimed to be able to do so until the era of the Bill Clinton, G.W. Bush, and Barack Obama. In wartime, the CIA and its sister U.S. intelligence services were and are meant to gather and provide pertinent intelligence to the U.S. military, which it, in turn, uses it to annihilate the enemy, his supporters, and their infrastructure. CIA and the other services can also be used successfully but sparingly to kill an individual foe or small groups of the enemy, capture and then harshly interrogate prisoners, and destroy infrastructure targets, but such actions are nothing more than complements to main military force. Intelligence in wartime is useless if the U.S. military is not authorized to kill whatever number of the enemy and its supporters is necessary to make them quit, even if that number turns out to be all of each category. Intelligence accompanied by overwhelming and relatively indiscriminate military power is always a terrific money maker and leads to victory — ask the Confederate armies, American Indian tribes, the Wehrmacht, and Imperial Japan — but so far it has yielded only another widow’s mite.

Today, Americans can look back over a 20-year trail of smoldering wreckage formed by wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars, tens of thousands of dead, wounded, and maimed U.S. military personnel, and a national government seemingly enslaved to the same interventionist and minimalist war-making policies that have brought repeated defeat to the United States. Americans must begin to understand that the Islamist enemy is far more powerful, numerous, religious, worldwide, popular, better-armed, and wealthier than it was in 1996, although much of the U.S. and European media neither report nor comment on this reality and so Americans would need to check with foreign media outlets such as Al-Jazirah, and RT.

There are occasions when disaster simplifies decision making, and so badly is America being beaten by the Islamists that it really has only three possible decisions left to make:

  • The first is to decide whether or not the growing Islamist movement is a threat the United States must definitively defeat to ensure its national security, or whether the cauldron of blood now viciously boiling in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and parts of Africa — a violent pot that, incidentally, has claimed very few American lives since 2011 — can be left to boil itself out as it uses up the blood of most of the republic’s enemies.
  • If that decision holds that the Islamists must be defeated by the U.S. military, we are already armed with the only decision that will suffice to attain that goal. Because Special Forces, air forces, drones, training foreigners, and covert action have together failed to do more than slow and annoy the Islamists, only a formal declaration of war by U.S. Congress and its re-institution of conscription to dramatically enlarge U.S. Marine Corps and Army can begin to provide even a slim chance of defeating the Islamists. These measures must be accompanied by presidential authorization of rules of engagement that will allow U.S. service personnel to be enthusiastic and wide-ranging killers, not the human targets they are today. The measures also must be supported by Americans recognizing and accepting that (a) an enormous and probably prolonged increase in taxes will be necessary to pay for the war, that (b) far greater numbers of their soldier-children will become casualties than the totals reached in the last two decades, that (c) civil liberties will be steadily curtailed; and that (d) there is no guarantee of victory.
  • If, on the other hand, the decision is that the Islamists do not require decisive defeat by U.S. forces, we are, again, already armed with the only decision that will suffice to attain and secure genuine U.S. national-security interests. That decision is five-fold: (a) to stop intervening in the Muslim world, (b) to close and then control U.S. borders and evict all illegal aliens, (c) to declare and perpetually maintain neutrality as the core principle of the republic’s foreign policy, (d) to steadily rebuild U.S. military strength to ensure all other nations know that U.S. neutrality is not U.S. pacifism and that to attack genuine U.S. national interests is to incur swift and complete annihilation; and (e) to elect no one president in 2016 who has been connected to the foreign policy catastrophe America has endured since 1996, meaning only Mr. Trump, Ms. Fiorina, Dr. Carson, and Senator Paul ought to be viewed as acceptable candidates.

If Americans dismiss the clear lies of politicians and generals and are ready to decide what kind of commonsense foreign policy best defends the United States, the decision they need to make is certainly obvious and easy. It also is squarely in the America First tradition of the republic’s Founders.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and he helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.