Tag: War on Terror

Member Post


… recent history shows us it’s going to take more than just a hashtag to defeat Islamic terrorism. Last year, the Nigerian Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped, raped and sold into slavery an entire school of 12-15 year old girls, due in large part to their Christian faith. Preview Open

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

The Strategic Lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan


shutterstock_54994132The rise of the isolationist right in the last decade has been motivated by the protracted counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their overwrought reaction – that the country must retreat into Fortress America — nonetheless merits an evaluation of the strategic lessons that can be learned from those two military misadventures.

The first and most important lesson is that advanced militaries do much better in conventional engagements against third-world powers than they do in counterinsurgency operations. Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were rolled up quickly, despite the fact that conventional war is usually much more intense and bloody than guerilla war. The difference is that the West’s enormous qualitative advantage over the third-world means that almost all the bloodshed occurs on the other side, all but ensuring quick and successful campaigns. The same cannot be said of a potential conflict with either Russia or China, whose second-rate armies are vastly more deadly than the fourth-rate ones the United States and its allies have fought in recent years. As a result, the qualitative edge between us and them is not lopsided enough to prevent a conventional clash from being bloody and costly to our side.

As a result, our grand strategy should be to avoid conflict with major adversaries while ensuring that any conflict we enter with a third-world adversary be conventional in nature. Guerilla wars should be avoided, and — if they can’t — we should use local proxies as much as possible for the low-tech, in-your-face grunt work.

I’m Not Sorry, Either


Khalid_Shaikh_Mohammed_after_captureJust up on the website of the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens’s latest column.  An excerpt:

I am not sorry Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational mastermind of 9/11, was waterboarded 183 times. KSM also murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl in 2002. He boasted about it: “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew,” he said after his capture.

I am sorry KSM remains alive nearly 12 years after his capture. He has been let off far too lightly. As for his waterboarding, it never would have happened if he had been truthful with his captors. It stopped as soon as he became cooperative. As far as I’m concerned, he waterboarded himself.

Moral Niceties and the CIA


It’s only natural for a leftist to quip “we are better than that.” That pretty much sums up the moral orientation of the liberal. The critique is little more than a wish for pleasant things that work. The self-righteous preener rarely has an answer to the question “what would you suggest to make us better than that?”

Comedian Evan Sayet has a test for identifying the liberal in the room: he’ll be the one who chooses evil over good. The test is extraordinarily accurate. On abortion a lefty will choose death over life. On economics he’ll see the maker as a greedy money grubber, and the taker as the victim who is denied social justice. He’ll defend the terrorists, who he sees as the oppressed, and who only behead because the imperialists have a foot on their necks.

Airport Security vs. Being Admitted into Prison: A Comparison


Passing through airport security seems more and more like being admitted into prison. First they confiscate two things: anything remotely sharp and… your belt. Then you’re standing in line with a bunch of barefoot people holding up their pants up with one hand and their sole possessions in the other. The travelers who passed through security hours earlier are looking on and chanting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish!”

Upon reflection, that last part doesn’t sound plausible enough to deem reliable memory. But you get the idea.

Islam Relevant to Obama Administration … But Only When it Comes to Real Threats, Like Global Warming


President Obama on Wednesday night — the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — said Islamic religious instruction is wholly irrelevant to the cause of ISIS … which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS, I suspect, would disagree.

But that is not to say that there aren’t elements of foreign policy in which the Obama administration thinks religion — even Islam — is a key component. Secretary of State John Kerry stated on Sept. 3 that “religion matters,” and he’s made it “a mantra” in his State Department and his foreign policy stance.

Member Post


ISIS boldly parades and brutally executes hog-tied U.S. journalists online and it’s back to the Vineyard for our duly elected commander-in-chief. I’ve long been disappointed by the relentlessly shrinking stature of the United States thanks to our disinterested president. While much scorn can be directed at the current chief executive, the collective American public deserves […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Sherman at 150


WAR AND CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  CIVIL WAR/LEADERSOne hundred and fifty years ago this September 2, William Tecumseh Sherman took Atlanta after a brilliant campaign through the woods of northern Georgia. While Grant slogged it out against Lee in northern Virginia all through the late spring and summer of 1864—the names of those battles still send chills up our collective spine: Spotsylvania, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor — Lincoln’s reelection chances were declared doomed.  All summer, General George McClellan reminded Americans that he had once gotten closer to Richmond than had Grant and at far less cost — and promised that, under his presidency, the war would end with either the South free to create its own nation or to rejoin the Union with slavery intact … but that in either case the terrible internecine bloodletting would end. Then Sherman suddenly took Atlanta (“Atlanta is ours and fairly won.”); McClellan was doomed and the shrinking Confederacy was bisected once again.

What was to be next?  Southerners grew confident that the besieger Sherman would become the besieged in Atlanta after the election, as his long supply lines back to Tennessee would be cut and a number of Confederate forces might converge to keep him locked up behind Confederate lines.

Instead, Sherman cut loose on November 15, 1864 — despite Grant’s worries and Lincoln’s bewilderment — and headed to the Atlantic Coast in what would soon be known as “The March to the Sea,” itself a prelude to an even more daring winter march through the Carolinas to arrive at the rear of Robert E. Lee’s army, trapped in Virginia at war’s end.

Actions Have Their Consequences in the Middle East


shutterstock_169881086About a decade ago, most of my time was occupied with editing literature and teaching aspiring writers how to craft essays that didn’t put readers to sleep. For a short time, I had two students that were of Middle Eastern descent. I was working with one of them and asked why she didn’t associate with the other student from the same region. Her reply was simple and to the point: “My family hasn’t associated with anyone from that family in generations.”

I’m guessing that she chose the word “family” because she had been in America long enough to pick up the local vernacular. If we had been somewhere else in the world, maybe she would have used the term “tribe” or “clan.” The point remains the same, and it is an issue that makes dealing with political issues in the Middle East so difficult for Westerners. The arguments, battles, and wars in that region often have histories that stretch back hundreds of years.

The current situation in Iraq is not just about what has happened in that region in the past 20 years, just like the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein dated back to when a map was arbitrarily drawn by the British. Beyond the history that is driving the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), there are current religious and political issues in play that are intertwined throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The lines on the map are near meaningless to anyone except Westerners.