The biggest mistake in a war between two different cultures is lack of understanding of the enemy and a consequent supremacist attitude towards the enemy. One manifestation of this comes in “if we do this, what is the difference between them & us“? The smart victorious side doesn’t waste energy in these self-defeating self-recriminations. It is enough for them to be the “good guys“; they don’t have to be the “perfect guys”. Witness the carpet bombing of Dresden, Germany and the destruction of Hiroshima, Nagasaki in World War II. Unfortunately, that consistent determination has been sorely lacking the war against ISIS. Until now.
It might be instructive to read what was written on November 21, 2015 in the article War Against ISIS – Strategy, Tactics & Reality. Section 3 of that article was titled – What Drives ISIS & Their Recruits?
- “Every Sunni Arab man knows that he is the descendant of conquerors. Under Prophet Muhammad and after him, they exploded with the force of the desert whirlwind to conquer the Persian Sassanid empire, Africa and parts of Europe. They defeated the Crusaders and their kin in Central Asia attacked the Indian Subcontinent, Indonesia & Malaysia. There is an intense yearning deep in the hearts of Sunnis to recapture their lost glory as they live in relative poverty under the norms imposed by the west.”
- “Conquest is a young man’s game and spoils of war for young men are the same today as they have been since the birth of our species. And nothing appeals to disillusioned angry young men like Islam’s call to conquer. The promise of heaven after death and riches & women with victory on earth is a heady brew indeed.”
This image of Muslims as conquerors is essential for proselytization of young men into a campaign for regaining glory via violence. And the proselytizers have “invented” conquering Muslim heroes to fulfill their needs. Go to the Indian Subcontinent & you will find Muslims firmly believing that Alexander of Macedonia was in reality an Iranian Muslim named Sikandar. You cannot shake them out of this falsehood with evidence & facts. Same with Genghis Khan – the man who slaughtered more Muslims than any other man in history. But he is regarded as a Muslim conqueror and people point to conversion to Islam by his descendants as proof of Islam’s conquests.
Notice the history of famous Muslim conquerors. They have hardly been gentle in victory. Instead their history has been to kill the men, enslave the women and force a complete mental surrender from their victims with humiliating brutality.
- “The point is you can’t stop recruitment of young men into ISIS unless you inflict horrific defeats on ISIS. That is also a historical reality of Muslim conquering armies. Young men motivated by glory & spoils of war don’t hang around when glory is extinguished & spoils become scarce.”
The real point is you cannot simply defeat an ISIS type enemy by accepting their surrender & imprisoning them. The only successful strategy has been to annihilate them & subject the survivors to intense humiliation that will destroy their myth of invincibility.
Now finally we have a clear understanding of this in an American Administration. You see & hear this in the words of the man who has been entrusted with this responsibility – Secretary of Defense General James Mattis, the Warrior Monk. His 30-minute presentation to John Dickerson of CBS is an absolute must watch in our opinion. Kudos to CBS News for posting the entire transcript online.
- “We have already shifted from attrition tactics where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them. Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”
- “You see that right now, for example, in western Mosul that is surrounded and the Iraqi– security forces are moving against them. Tal Afar is now surrounded. We have got efforts underway right now to surround their self-declared caliphate capital of Raqqa. That surrounding operation is going on. And once surrounded, then we’ll go in and clean them out.”
- “Probably the most important thing we’re doing now is we’re accelerating this fight. We’re accelerating the tempo of it. We are going to squash the enemy’s ability to give some indication that they’re– that they have invulnerability, that they can exist, that they can send people off to Istanbul, to Belgium, to Great Britain and kill people with impunity. We’re going to shatter their sense of invincibility there in the physical caliphate.”
- “I’m from the American West. We have forest fires out there. And some of the worst forest fires in our history, the most damage were caused when we pulled the fire crews off the line too early. And so we’re going to have to continue to keep the pressure on the enemy. There’s no room for complacency on this.”
That is the “annihilation” phase. What about “humiliation”?
- “I think as we look at this problem of ISIS, it’s more than just an army. It’s also a fight about ideas. And we have got to dry up their recruiting. We have got to dry up their fundraising. The way we intend to do it is to humiliate them, to divorce them from any nation giving them protection, and humiliating their message of hatred, of violence. Anyone who kills women and children is not devout. They have– they cannot dress themselves up in false religious garb and say that somehow this message has dignity.
We’re going to strip them of any kind of legitimacy. And that is why you see the international community acting in concert.”
The dedication to this comes directly & clearly from President Trump & that was his message to the international community last week:
It isn’t enough to merely humiliate terrorists like ISIS; it is equally important to humiliate nations that encourage & support the terrorists. President Trump did that to Iran explicitly with words of condemnation & warning at the summit. He also did to the other supporter of terrorism, NaPakistan, by non-verbal actions. And that was a disaster for NaPak as an article in the Diplomat described:
- “The Donald Trump-led Arab Islamic American summit, held in Riyadh this weekend, was supposed to be Pakistan’s moment to cash its first check on the diplomatic investment it has made in the Saudi-led Islamic military coalition – With this in mind, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spent the entire duration of his flight to Riyadh rehearsing his address to the summit, which included leaders of 55 Muslim-majority states. Yet Nawaz Sharif wasn’t invited to address the summit. Neither was Raheel Sharif.“
- “Not only did the U.S. president identify India as a victim of terror, he failed to acknowledge Pakistan as one. Trump also snubbed a request for a meeting with Nawaz Sharif, whom he only met with on the sidelines of the summit, while having well publicized talks with many other leaders.”
Getting back to General Mattis, he was clear how long & hard this war is going to be:
- “This is going to be a long fight. The problems that we confront are going to lead to an era of frequent skirmishing. We will do it by, with, and through other nations. We will do it through developing their capabilities, to do a lot of the fighting, we’ll help them with intelligence. Certainly, we can help train them for what they face. And you see our forces engaged in that from Africa to Asia. But at the same time, this is going to be a long fight and I don’t put timelines on fights.
And as a warrior & a commander of warriors, Secretary Mattis understands what his forces are and are not:
- “We are the good guys. We’re not the perfect guys, but we are the good guys. And so we’re doing what we can.”
As a monk, a warrior monk, we should expect serenity from Secretary Mattis, right?
JOHN DICKERSON of CBS News: What keeps you awake at night?
SECRETARY JAMES MATTIS: Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.
This interview by Secretary Mattis, his close working relationship with Secretary of State Tillerson, and the trust in them by a totally committed strong President Trump certainly lets us sleep soundly. Never before have we felt so reassured about the war against Islamic terrorism.
Send your feedback to [email protected] Or @MacroViewpoints on Twitter