The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Shields - II

In what has to be the most comprehensive, factual coverage of the events leading up to the Israeli attack on the UN Outpost, The Belmont Club surmises (based on evidence over the past two weeks) that Hezballah has been using the UN outpost and other UN vehicles and fortifications as shields for its activities. Israel is attacking Hizballah, but the attacks have often been very close to UN personnel.

In the very first comment on this thread, I said:

Soflaauthor said...

It's obvious that Hezballah, along with virtually every terrorist group, uses architectural shields (schools, hospitals, mosques), civilian shields (women, children, other non-combatants), and quasi-governmental shields (in this case, the UN outpost) as it attacks its enemies. Current western military doctrine attempts to avoid attacking any one of these shield categories.

The question, therefore, is what to do when a legitimate target exists in the vicinity of a shield and the target is actively causing death and destruction by its presence?

If you attack and obliterate the target, you will probably destroy the shield as well. Bombed schools, mutilated civilians, and dead UN “peacekeepers” make great copy for the NYT and CNN, and allow the terrorists a propaganda victory.

I don’t know what to do about this. My questions to the group are:

(1) Is there a viable 21st century strategy for dealing with this (recognizing the realities of global media and the pressure that shield destruction put on a Western military force)?

(2) If there is no viable strategy, can a “war” against an entrenched terrorist organization ever be won?

Interested in your comments, if you choose.

4:43 PM

The author of the Belmont Club, Wretchard, responded to my post with the following comment. It is, I think, a reasonable summary of the problems we face when fighting what he calls the “new barbarism”

wretchard said...


The characteristic feature of all these shields is that they consist of civilization's values themselves. The brilliance of the new barbarism is that you cannot fight it without destroying your own value system into the bargain.

Traditionally the solution has been to consider wartime a discontinuity, when civilization's rules are suspended. It becomes possible, for example, to lay waste to the Monte Cassino Abbey. Berlin was bombed without regard for its buildings, churches or people.

The alternative is to create methods of fighting so discriminating that we can literally shoot between the raindrops. But that creates a different problem, for we will need an intelligence system so comprehensive that it will become intrusive.

Either way, the war cannot be won without cost. And the fundamental fraud foisted on the public is to claim we can have war without horror, conduct an intelligence war without dishonesty and cunning and obtain victory without sacrifice.

4:51 PM

Indeed. It seems that we want bloodless wars, even when fighting a bloodthirsty, barbaric enemy who wants to kill us. We want to find the enemy, but not allow the government to look (e.g., the NSA ‘scandal’). We want victory, but the vast majority of Westerners seem unwilling to sacrifice.

It’s hard not to be disheartened, but it’s even harder to see a future in which evil triumphs. We must stop the fraud and fight a war that needs to be fought in a way that disheartens the new barbarians. We can, but only after we recognize that this war will require a time “when civilization's rules are suspended.”