April 23, 2004

The Arab way of War

Wretchard at the Belmot Club has a wonderful essay looking at warfare and the differences and the relative effectiveness of Western and Arab ways... He starts off talking about France's stunning defeat in 1954 in in the Vietnamese Central Highlands, progresses to France's war with Islamists in Algeria and from then on to Vietnam and to present. Here are some brief excerpts: bq. The French had been understandably evicted from Indochina by being militarily beaten by the Vietnamese. But the French had been ousted from Algeria -- part of Metropolitan France -- despite beating the FLN; that was the lesson and legacy of Algeria. bq. Taken in this context Osama Bin Laden can be forgiven for believing that the defensive phase of Islam's war against the West has long ended. He considered it to be in its final offensive stages, so far advanced that a strike against New York City, the Pentagon and White House was perhaps overdue. And more: bq. For the first time in 600 years, Western Europe stands before an Oriental enemy it cannot defeat on the battlefield. The commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, Lt. General John Vines contrasted the GWOT to Vietnam. This, he says, is a "national war for our survival as a nation". Europe knows this too but are subconsciously already beaten. And one more: bq. The sole obstacles to the wave of darkness are the Anglosphere -- and ironically for the Europeans -- Israel. The strongest proof against the irresistibility of terrorism is Israel, which is often dented, but never seriously hurt by Arab Way of warfare. Indeed, at each clash the terrorists whine at being unfairly worsted because the Israelis have shown themselves capable of dealing out punishment an order of magnitude greater than they suffer. Israel is particularly irksome because it diminishes the psychological aura the Islamists work so hard to achieve. How can terrorism plausibly defeat America if it cannot beat a handful of Jews? And America too, is a deadly enemy. Already militarily invincible and capable of immense adaptation, it has already solved the military problems the French faced in Vietnam. Never again can a regimental force be marshaled against an American unit, like NVA Regiment 803. Now America is facing the challenge of a modern Algeria, the prototypical terrorist war. Waging a covert war across the globe, America is likely to succeed, like the French, in destroying the terrorist leadership cadres. Terrorism remains confident that America will be politically defeated though even here doubt grows, because America is also groping for a model of political warfare to use against its enemies. But maybe Osama is right. The Democratic Party continues to conflate one challenge with the other; to see in Iraq another Vietnam; and to offer up in Kerry not a John Kennedy but another Charles de Gaulle. Excellent insight and writing. Check it out... Posted by DaveH at April 23, 2004 10:49 AM