Saturday, May 16, 2009

What about the Taliban?

My friend Culturist John has some ideas about the Taliban.
The problem with his stance is that he leaves himself open to accusations not only of discrimination but of racial discrimination.

This uncontrollable spread of the Taliban influence in Afghanistan should be a lesson to us.

You cannot control the spread of an ideology with guns no matter how big or sophisticated your weapons might be. In the guns vs ideology battle, the ideology will always win.

We should take the lesson of Vietnam as an example. A bowl of rice and an ideology were enough to sustain the forces Viet Cong for 30 years. Even the world's most powerful and wealthy nation could not make headway against the ideology.

The war on ideas has a terrible history and none serves as a better example than the Catholic Church's Inquisition. Nobody wants to go down that path.

But hold on a moment.

Let's consider the idea of Free Speech.
We pride our culture on the fact that we have a certain degree of freedom of speech. It is of course only to a degree because we cannot say anything offensive or venture into the area of hate speech by selectively identifying specific groups.

So we are in fact caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

We rightly fear the ideologies that threaten our civilization but would like to defend the right of people to expound those and other offensive ideas.

What can we do?
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Anonymous said...

I'm very surprised to hear that the Taliban is NOT using guns to spread their ideology. All this time, I thought it was their particular form of violent Islam that was the problem. I must have been mistaken. Sorry.

Lexcen said...

Things aren't that simple FJ.
Certainly the Taliban use violence to increase their power but if it was simply a case of only brute force being necessary to crush them then why is it that America has failed?
Radical Islam isn't spreading throughout the world because of guns, it is an ideology that first recruits the disciples. Violence is the expression of their ideology. Nobody has converted to radical Islam because they've been persuaded by the acts of butchery against innocent civilians.

Anonymous said...

but if it was simply a case of only brute force being necessary to crush them then why is it that America has failed? It failed because America is unwilling to APPLY it harshly and with impunity. The Taliban is NOT.

The Viet Cong didn't win by converting the population with their ideology. They won by ruthlessly killing all their opponents.

Lexcen said...

FJ, I'm inclined to agree with you up to a certain point.
The lesson from Vietnam is that high tech weapons don't always guarantee victory. That was a failure in strategy not a failure of determination.
If you apply absolute brute force you don't just defeat your enemy, you obliterate them. I'd be afraid to let YOU control the button on the nuclear bomb.
The failure in Afghanistan by the Russians to subdue the Afghans should have been a lesson to the U.S. The rise of the Taliban was a response to the corruption in the system as an aftermath of the Russians.
Our disagreement is that I believe it is an ideology that is the enemy you believe it's just a ragged group of bearded tribesmen in baggy pants.

Anonymous said...

The lesson from Vietnam is that high tech weapons don't always guarantee victory. That was a failure in strategy not a failure of determination.How can you say that? We quit. If quitting isn't a failure in determination, what is?

Anonymous said...

The "point" is that their "ideology" allows them to be "more determined" than us. We lack the "will" to kill them unless they adopt our ideology. They suffer from no such reciprocal limitation.

Vietnam was a failure of strategy AND determination. Our ideology demands that we "seduce" the other side to our perspective, and not force it upon them. Their strategy is to FORCE us to stop attempting to seduce them by provoke a forceful reaction. And yes, sometime a "forceful reaction" is necessary. Like when they start killing and terrorizing innocents with impunity. Catch-22.

Anonymous said...

Our "primary strategy" is seduction. We don't believe in using force. THAT is why we "lack the determination" needed to USE FORCE.

But none of that doesn't mean we should NEVER use force. And none of that means that we can't stand opposed to those (like the radical Islamicists) who demand conversion by the sword or obliteration.

Lexcen said...

FJ, now you raise interesting point(s). Strategy = force?

Determination = win at any cost?

Ever heard of the term Pyrrhic Victory?

Anonymous said...

Strategy- means selected to achieve desire ends.. in the west it's resolve issues by talking/ diplomacy. Athena (the West) is a WOMAN dressed in armour.

Determination = will to achieve ends. Clauswitz - "On War"...

1. Introduction.

WE propose to consider first the single elements of our subject (war), then each branch or part, and, last of all, the whole, in all its relations—therefore to advance from the simple to the complex. But it is necessary for us to commence with a glance at the nature of the whole, because it is particularly necessary that in the consideration of any of the parts the whole should be kept constantly in view.

2. Definition.

We shall not enter into any of the abstruse definitions of war used by publicists. We shall keep to the element of the thing itself, to a duel. War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance.

War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfil our will. Violence arms itself with the inventions of Art and Science in order to contend against violence. Self-imposed restrictions, almost imperceptible and hardly worth mentioning, termed usages of International Law, accompany it without essentially impairing its power. Violence, that is to say physical force (for there is no moral force without the conception of states and law), is therefore the means; the compulsory submission of the enemy to our will is the ultimate object. In order to attain this object fully, the enemy must be disarmed; and this is, correctly speaking, the real aim of hostilities in theory. It takes the place of the final object, and puts it aside in a manner as something not properly belonging to war.
And yes, I know what a pyrrhic victory is.

Ends and Means in War (Clauswitz)

HAVING in the foregoing chapter ascertained the complicated and variable nature of war, we shall now occupy ourselves in examining into the influence which this nature has upon the end and means in war.
If we ask first of all for the aim upon which the whole war is to be directed, in order that it may be the right means for the attainment of the political object, we shall find that it is just as variable as are the political object and the particular circumstances of the war.

If, in the next place, we keep once more to the pure conception of war, then we must say that its political object properly lies out of its province, for if war is an act of violence to compel the enemy to fulfil our will, then in every case all depends on our overthrowing the enemy, that is, disarming him, and on that alone. This object, developed from abstract conceptions, but which is also the one aimed at in a great many cases in reality, we shall, in the first place, examine in this reality.

In connection with the plan of a campaign we shall hereafter examine more closely into the meaning of disarming a nation, but here we must at once draw a distinction between three things, which as three general objects comprise everything else within them. They are the military power, the country, and the will of the enemy.

The military power must be destroyed, that is, reduced to such a state as not to be able to prosecute the war. This is the sense in which we wish to be understood hereafter, whenever we use the expression "destruction of the enemy's military power."

The country must be conquered, for out of the country a new military force may be formed.

But if even both these things are done, still the war, that is, the hostile feeling and action of hostile agencies, cannot be considered as at an end as long as the will of the enemy is not subdued also; that is, its Government and its allies forced into signing a peace, or the people into submission; for whilst we are in full occupation of the country the war may break out afresh, either in the interior or through assistance given by allies. No doubt this may also take place after a peace, but that shows nothing more than that every war does not carry in itself the elements for a complete decision and final settlement.

But even if this is the case, still with the conclusion of peace a number of sparks are always extinguished, which would have smouldered on quietly, and the excitement of the passions abates, because all those whose minds are disposed to peace, of which in all nations and under all circumstances, there is always a great number, turn themselves away completely from the road to resistance. Whatever may take place subsequently, we must always look upon the object as attained, and the business of war as ended, by a peace.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

I have no idea how my little sister went from a pro-American, military family with a Southern Baptist upbringing to being "seduced" into converting to Islam, abandoning her husband and kids, and moving to Egypt to teach English to elementary school kids between posting jihadi videos on her MySpace page.

It isn't like she's an idiot. She taught herself how to functionally speak, read, and write the Arabic squiggle language in under a year.

And it isn't like she approached Islam from a point of ignorance - the home we were raised in would put most local public libraries to shame.

I even grabbed her English / Arabic copy of Muhammad's terror manual and pointed out key red flag passages like Surah 4:34 that instructs husbands to beat their wifes - and she came back with some crap about it meaning being beat with a toothpick (who knew Muhammad had toothpicks back then?) and despite the same squiggle blurb that translates as a "beating" meaning a full scale ass-whoopin' in other verses.

I don't know how Islam grabs people of above average intelligence.

But it does.

And it doesn't let go.

Anonymous said...

How does one acquire any bad habit, beamish? This particular one gets "reinforced" five times a day.

My sister was her high school class salutatorian. She went to UC Santa Cruz for a year, then dropped out and followed her "guru" around for a couple of years before my brother-in-law converted her back to Christianity. She's still as naive as they come.

They want to make a difference to society. Therin lies the problem.

Anonymous said...

"There are three kinds of people in the world as those that come to the Olympic games. Those that come to participate, those that come to watch, and those that come for gain. Of which those that come to watch are the wisest" --Aristotle

Lexcen said...

FJ, Clauswitz had no concept of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Beamish, your story is tragic. No doubt you understand the danger of evil ideology and how it can spread.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Well, to be honest, I'm still on the "Islam is a dangerous, evil meme" identifying title of the book.

I'll never understand how my sister fell for it.

Beyond me is why she had to run off to Egypt. She could have stayed here in America and worshipped rocks just the same.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

My own theological religious dabbling took me from white bread Christian upbringing to New Age (rhymes with sewage) to vague neo-paganism to Septentrionalist / Norse studies and eastward to Taoism and Zen Buddhism to up down and sideways on the theological spectrum between atheism and panentheism.

I studied it all from all paths (I'm fiercely interested in comparative theology and ancient mythologies) before getting back to a rather non-flag waving Christianity.

But I never "fell" for Islam. It was ugly to me from jump.

I just couldn't make my sister see that.

I don't think she ever will.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

cut off their heads (lightly with a toothpick)

Anonymous said...

Clauswitz had no concept of Mutually Assured Destruction.Sure he does. After all, Pyrrhus fought in the Third century BCE.

Lexcen said...

OOps. Sorry Dr Strangelove.

Lexcen said...

Or should I say touché?

Anonymous said...

You want to know why the Taliban succeeds when "nuclear" America fails? Because we don't go in on the ground with the intention of staying and winning. When the Taliban move into a village, one of the radical imam's sons immediately takes the village elder's daughter as one of his four wives (hostage). The village elder then either cooperates, or she gets the sh*t kicked out of her every night. It's a technique that's been effective ever since Aeneas and his Trojan exiles moved to the seven hills area of Rome and RAPED the Sabine Women. It's exactly what the Islamic Janjaweed do in Southern Sudan/Darfur. Kill the men, kill their children, rape their women, and take war brides. It's what the Roman's did, take a conquered leader's children and ship them off to Rome, so as to ensure "loyal" allies.

Now America doesn't "nuke" it's enemies, because it operates upon the vain premise that only the GUILTY should ever be punished, otherwise we're no better than terrorists. It's why our "smart" munitions are getting ever and forever more "precise" in their employment. Yet qualms remain, as our experience is killing villagers w/Predator drone missiles in Afghanistan and Pakistan has shown.

The question isn't simply one of "force" and who's bombs have the highest kiloton yields. You have to be prepared to use them and risk killing innocents. And why won't America use them? Because killing innocents diminishes America's will to continue to fight.

If America wanted to win, they could employ the Taliban's tactics. Instead, we encourage the local chieftans to resist. And that is what eventually happened in Iraq, when the Americans started backing the Sunni chieftans who's daughters AQI was brutalizing. Only this isn't working anymore. Why? Because anyone w/half a brain knows that the cut-and-run Democrats will pull the plug on the Afghanistan venture at the next hint of a 'Tet, just like they did when they left those 3 million S. Vietnamese to be slaughtered after the fall of Saigon.

Anonymous said...

Now, it isn't the "Ideology" of Islam that is spreading via the Taliban. It's the "force" behind it that allows it to spread.

People don't normally convert to Islam "peaceably". They're victims of cultural attrition, especially when you overlay the conquered with a "dhimmi tax".

Lexcen said...

I've always thought the U.S. fought war with one hand tied behind the back.
As for the Taliban, they use the classic tactics first shown by Mohamed.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Russia destroyed Grozny rather than seeking to divide Chechen terrorist from the Chechen innocent they hid among there.

And it worked. Now Chechen terrorists hide in the forests and mountains, and die of starvation there.

And the Chechen innocents that lost their homes in Grozny because of terrorists among them?

They can make homes with the terrorists, or find a new home and rethink the strategy of hiding terrorists among them.