Roundup. The Patton of Iraq; Doubt as a weapon of war
After the Read More! The Patton of the counterinsurgency. If I die before you wake... will anything be worth remembering?
Frederic and Kimberley Kagan describe how General Raymond Odierno turned strategy into operations in Iraq. Kagan's article reminds of the adage "amateurs talk strategy, professionals discuss logistics."
A flash presentation asks an existential question: is what a soldier does for his country worth anything? Its a question everybody asks himself and people do more soul-searching than usual on the battlefield. But it occurred to me while watching it that the whole presentation was part of an ongoing national dialogue with what has been called the "antiwar movement". The real strategic objective of the antiwar protest movement has been entirely mental from its modern inception forty years ago. The amount of physical disruption it has inflicted is trivial: a few traffic jams and a lot of littering. All seemingly harmless and over after the streets were swept. But its real aim has always been deeper; to cumulatively to turn faith into doubt and pride into shame. To invert the myths of society. If it works well enough society accepts the process of inversion and finally even betrayal wears the mask of patriotism. In time many will believe that "if I die before you wake" you will have simply missed the sex and the socialist paradise and at any rate no one will care if you die because nothing you did was ever worthwhile.
In contrast to its weak physical effects the mental damage a weapon like this can cause is enormous. Physical weapons can destroy individuals. But only ideas can destroy civilizations. In the next two weeks a conference in Rome entitled "Can European Civilization Survive" will indirectly confirm the power of accumulated self-doubt. A Europe that has economically and technologically never been better fears the first stirrings of a something stirring in the hollowness within.
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