Conventional Warfare – A Misnomer

This week, in their defense of Dick Cheney’s naked parade, his minions have defended the use of “enhanced interrogation methods” by saying they were a response to the unconventional warfare posed by Islamic terrorists. (well, they don’t say Islamic terrorists, because that is no longer PC – but that’s who they are referring to).

Our short-memoried society considers “conventional warfare” battles in which all sides wear uniforms designating their loyalty, avoid injuring civilians as much as possible, behave gentlemanly during negotiations, have clear delineations between good and evil, and are only fought because one baddie decided to invade one goodie.

I’m simplifying, I realize, but only in an effort to illustrate the naiveté of isolated Americans regarding warfare. Our idea of military combat is as far from the norm – bastardized by erroneous and fantastical historical tales, the refusal of the government to provide honest details of war to keep the public’s distaste to a minimum, and the perpetuation of the myth that the U.S. government always makes good decisions for the benefit of the American public. The blatant lack of honesty of everyone from storytellers and revisionist historians to the executive administrations past and present have whitewashed Americans’ view of war. To the detriment of all involved.

How Americans Think of War

What We Americans Consider Conventional Warfare

War is ugly and gruesome and what we consider unconventional is actually much more typical combat.

The vast majority of war over the last 40,000 years has included various levels of torture, rape, the killing of women and children, the enslavement of the losing side by the victors, and no uniforms of which to speak.

During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers found it quite difficult to tell which “gook” was with us and which was against. That we would find warfare any different in Afghanistan or Iraq is appallingly uninformed.

Most warfare has been fought by any means necessary, yet the utilization of suicide bombers or twin engine jets surprises Americans. These tactics are much more along the norms of warfare than our Disney notions of WWI and WWII. The claiming of the U.S. territory by whites from Native Americans included genocide, rape and arbitrary killing. In “conventional war,” crops, land, and homes are put to flame and waterways poisoned. Horses and livestock are slaughtered. And on, and on, and on.

The desire to increase power is the largest motivator of war. Throughout history, chiefs and leaders of state wanted to expand their territory, causing them to take what isn’t theirs. However, to be content with what is yours and nothing else is to lay in wait for the greedy eyes of an enemy.

Now that the statehood of most territory on Earth, save for Antarctica, has been decided, war is largely launched because of irrational actors and thirst for power and results in the subjugation of weak people or a brazen offensive against a perceived enemy. Al Qaeda wants a theocratic, Muslim world and how better to achieve this result than attacking the most powerful defender of the free world? George W. Bush saw what he perceived as his father’s failings at the end of the first Iraq War, as well as the opportunity to spread democracy in the Middle East, and launched an offensive he was not prepared for and did not fully understand. In Sierre Leone, during battles for the control of diamond minds, thousands upon thousands of women and children had their arms cut off at the elbow and boys high on cocaine killed their familes and raped women with the ends of their guns.

Realities of Conventional War

Realities of Conventional War

WWI and WWII were horrific in their own right, but were as unconventional as warfare gets. During WWI, occurrences of opposing sides playing soccer games between trenches  are well-documented. WWII had a clear, easily identifiable leader with atrocious strategies and ambitions. The fact that we consider these two events “normal” clearly reveals our lack of understanding of military history. Perhaps if we grow up and can realign our perceptions closer to reality, we can have a more substantial and successful discussion of what we consider acceptable behaviors in wartime.

If Americans understood the realities of war, if they could see into the future the results of the invasion of Iraq, they would never have permitted these men – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, men who have never been battle-tested (a few draft-dodgers in there), never known what it felt like to kill another person or see the enemy face-to-face – to launch us into this misquided and ill-considered war.

I understand the outcry against torture, and support much of it. But the fact that the American people can be so outraged over actions against a few and then remain silent while our bombardments in Af-Pak result in the deaths of scores of civilians – mothers, babies, schoolchildren – is media-driven and reprehensible.

2 Responses to “Conventional Warfare – A Misnomer”

  1. 1 essenceofamerica
    May 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    You say so much but know so little. War is what it is. People fight in it and they die in it. You should thank God, I mean the universe or the tree in your backyard or the moon or whatever, that we had and have a military. You should want we still be under British rule? You silly little liberal.

    I have to credit you, though, for contributing to this typical liberal propaganda. You’re wrong on damned near everything, but you’re consistent, which is more than I can say for most of your kind.

    Have you forgetten that Bill Clinton bombed Iraq as well, leaving Hussein in power and those stupid no-fly zones in effect? Have you forgotten the Iran-Iraq war? People and nations had problems with Hussein’s Iraq long before the U.S. did. Throw aside whatever you learned in your liberal university classes, for a moment, and find reality.

    Some U.S. president was going to have to deal with Hussein at some point, Democrat or Republican. To argue the invasion was a mistake because people died is dumb. If you want to argue the invasion was ill-timed or was authorized (by both parties) based on bad intelligence, then fine. I can understand that. But you can’t argue against removing Hussein. What? You wish he were still in power so we’d still have those meaningless UN resolutions and weapons inspectors and no-fly zones and shit? And the Middle East was already unstable. Iraq contributed nothing to stability in the area. That’s a common liberal lie.

    In war, people die, and that includes the innocent. Post all the propaganda photos you want. It won’t change the necessity for war. Like I said, you should be thankful (to whomever it is you thank) for America’s history on the battlefield. Better yet, go talk to a few Marines – those who were born long before you and who have fought these wars you question – and others who can provide a REAL perspective on the issue.

    Because what you’re talking about is just f—king nonsense. I mean, I can barely stand to read this garbage. Your world perspective, particularly that of America, borders on the delusional.

    My goodness.

  2. May 26, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Wow. You completely missed the point of blog. Not surprising, since you are so bent on reading everything I write with a pre-determined slant.

    I was discussing the fact that war is completely different than the way the media and the right wing paint it. It is bloody and awful and horrific. And it is not so black and white as good versus evil.

    And we can debate the Iraq War all want. But it was an unjustifiable invasion – if only proven so by the fact that the Bush administration had to LIE to garner the necessary public support. Hell yes, I’m glad Saddam is gone. But wanting to rid the world of despots who want to do us harm is no justification for launching military action. If this were the case, North Korea would have been attacked or Libya before they dropped their nuclear ambitions or many more other countries. We invaded Iraq because your Bush man has unresolved daddy issues. Are you happy that our invasion of Iraq has given Iran far more power they have had in centuries?

    You have to be smart on military matters, not just bigger. Waving your penis around to show how much bigger it is than anyone else’s is not good military strategy. Dumb and aggressive is the worse military strategy there is. That’s how so many unnecessary deaths occur. As we have seen in the recent past. So, thank you for contributing to the proliferation of an ideology that results in rampant unintended consequences. Oooops, we sure fucked it up in Iraq – but at least Saddam is gone! As if that’s a serious defense for the invasion! jeezuschrist that argument is tired.

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