Following the footsteps of Clausewitz, Mao and a few others who wrote "on war", we begin our series of discussions with this piece:
America, Iraq and The Question of Total War
I'll start with the end:
Perhaps the message to Mr. Bush, Congress, and the American people should be: If this fight is worth doing, if America truly has an unquestionable moral imperative to win, then wage it with everything you've got. Otherwise, why is America there?
I have a question for Mr. Dillin: Where and who should we start carpet bombing first?
Should we lay waste to Baghdad at such a late date, having instituted the government, spent billions in "reconstruction" and other programs?
Having insisted that we are "liberating" the Iraqi people from a totalitarian, murderous government, are we to become the murderers?
As much as our Liberal, Democratic Congress people and like minded citizens have wailed about our standing in the world having been damaged, what would the world opinion be then?
Is Mr. Dillin suggesting that we should ignore this when the very idea of combatting "global" guerilla terrorism means that everything we do in Iraq reflects on the greater global strategy?
While Republicans of all stripes have decreed world opinion as a fickle b-tch, not worthy of our consideration, they have blatantly ignored the fact that "limited war" was directly planned and executed, not just because Donald Rumsfeld wanted to make war "on the cheap" (as both Democrats and Republicans have insisted), but because the war plans DID take into consideration "global opinion". Anyone who thinks otherwise is out of touch with such things as "flyover rights", "national waters" and the sheer nervous twitching that takes place whenever massive forces are within striking distance of any nation that could be directly or indirectly affected by that war.
I've had a long discussion (several times) with my friend the Armorer regarding whether we should have done "total war" on Iraq at the invasion. While the author of this piece goes back to Sherman's march to the sea for his earliest "total war" reference, total war has in fact been practiced for centuries. Ask the Saxon's in 1066 and shortly thereafter as the Norman's rolled up lingering existence, particularly in York, where they laid such total waste to the population and surrounding countryside, it took over 60 years for the area to recover economically and in population. In Medieval times, that's at least 4 to 5 generations.
Or, think Carthage and sowing the fields with salt. That is not a short term, immediate military objective. It is a method to insure that the nation you are at war with does not have the material or economic means to wage war. In fact, by its very nature, depriving the citizens of basic sustenance, it would be the ancient method of making war on the civilians, to insure they no longer had the means or will to committ war.
Looking around in Baghdad via images, emails and news coverage, one could be forgiven for wondering what exactly should we have laid waste to? The people have little or no income. Their homes are largely mud brick and hay. There is a large swath of society who are and were already well below the conditions of "subsistance". Thus, beyond the final concept of simply destroying millions of human lives, what would we have waged war on and destroyed so completely it would have made a difference and NOT destroy us politically?
Read the whole thing to understand the questions.
Since the author is giving historical references, from my perspective, he is not really asking for a "Dresden" type bombing campaign against a nation and a people that has declared war, but his asking to consider bombing Paris into obliteration because the Nazis were "there".