Stupidity, it’s contagious…
On January 5th, the current Secretary of State, John “Lurch” Kerry said that, recalling his four years as Secretary of State, attempted to explain one of the most contentious moments in American diplomacy during his tenure: President Barack Hussein Obama’s failure to enforce his “red line” warning to Syria about using chemical weapons. In a news conference meant to promote his achievements, Kerry said that Obama didn’t backtrack in 2013 on his ultimatum to Syrian President Bashar Assad not to attack rebels or civilians with his chemical weapons arsenal. Kerry said this “unfair perception” nevertheless hurt U.S. credibility. Some U.S. officials have grumbled that Obama signaled that he wasn’t prepared to use force in Syria or the Middle East, and could buckle under pressure and instead chose to lead from behind. In my book, leading from behind means following:
As a result of that no-follow-up to his red line statement, both Obama and the United States have been viewed as pretty much a paper tiger. In the so-called war against ISIS the United States has been following the lead of other nations and doing as little as it could get away with doing, under Hussein’s following-ship. Time and time again, it was noted that US Aircraft were doing “surgical strikes”, taking out a truck here and there and, when forced to, destroy a building. About the only thing that our government hasn’t done, and I’m sure they wanted to, was to warn the enemy when and where we were going to bomb. Certainly it might have come to this if we’d had a different outcome in the recent elections.
By telling the enemy when you are going to end a war and pull the troops out, you give them a big advantage. By taking this or that option off the table you give the enemy another big advantage. Kerry acknowledged that people far and wide saw the sequence of events as Obama backing down. And he said that view damaged America’s effectiveness…and it hurt the United States a lot.
War, by definition, is “a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; warfare, as by land, sea, or air.” In war, especially when it comes to modern warfare, the weapons are so destructive (as they are meant to be) that it becomes nearly impossible not to have innocent people maimed or killed. This is not to say that the adversaries shouldn’t try everything within their power to avoid that…but sometimes it is simply not avoidable.
A good example is over in Israel, where Hamas sometimes fired their rockets from the safety of a school…knowing that the Israelis wouldn’t fire back. I believe I read where ISIS does nearly the same thing, and also uses hospitals as headquarters, knowing that the United States wouldn’t bomb a hospital. To some of our enemies, the humanity of it means nothing. One can point to many examples of horrible crimes committed by our enemies and having them cloak their atrocities in the blanket of their culture…and in some cultures the most heinous of crimes against innocent people is condoned.
Now, off on a different tack. The word “uniform” as it applies to military garb, is defined as “identical or consistent, without variations in detail.” If you’re a military commander and you look down a row of troopers, you expect to see, as an example, all blue uniforms…and then, in the middle of the row you see a trooper in bright red. Not by any stretch of the imagination is this “uniform”, but wait…the word is being redefined in our armed forces. Women, once barred from serving at all, are now in just about every career field. When they started, their uniforms were different from the men, and that was to be expected because women ARE different from men. Now, to the untrained eye the uniforms seem to be …well… uniform. Personally, I have no argument about women in the armed services…but not in combat zones. As I pointed out, men are different…almost always men are physically stronger and there are, and always will be, situations where strength will determine if you live or die.
At one point in my Navy career it was alright to wear a neatly-trimmed beard, and I did. Somewhere along the way some higher-echelon person decided that it didn’t look “uniform” and so beards disappeared. Now we have beards, turbans, hijabs and who-knows-what-else. The explanation given is that their culture (there’s that word again) demands that they wear this or that, in direct contradiction to the word and meaning of “uniform”. Until, and unless, we have a national draft again, we are still an all-volunteer military, right? When you volunteer for military service you don’t tell the military what you will and will not do…they tell you. If you don’t like the conditions, do not join up…but don’t try to change all the rest of it just because your culture says you have to look like, or wear, this or that. Suppose someone showed up and said that they were a cowboy and they HAD to wear a cowboy hat…would that be alright? Maybe a lady could wear a burqa, and of course it would be a nice, bright one, so she’d stand out in formation.
Parting shot: Can we not get some logic back into military thinking? It just might work wonders!
photo credit: U.S. Department of State Secretary Kerry Delivers a Speech in Sokoto, Nigeria on Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Good Governance via photopin (license)