The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

08-Jul-2008

War Models

Filed under: EthicsForeign PolicyUS & Global Policy — eidelberg @ 6:45 am Edit This

Nazi Germany never attacked, killed or wounded a single American on the American continent. Yet the U.S. declared war on Germany, bombed its industrial and civilian centers, invaded its territory, but not before invading and liberating France—at the necessary cost of killing civilians. America’s war policy? “Unconditional surrender.” The outcome? Germany surrendered, unconditionally.

North Korea, a Soviet proxy, never attacked, killed or maimed a single American on the American mainland. Yet the U.S., under United Nations auspices, waged war against North Korea (some 10,000 kilometers away), bombed and invaded its territory, killing many thousands of civilians in the process, until driven out by the Chinese. America’s war policy? Restoration of the status quo ante. The outcome was precisely that: Korea remained divided. The U.S. did not win the war and did not lose—except tens of thousands of American soldiers.

North Vietnam, another Soviet client, never attacked, killed or wounded a single American on American soil. Yet the U.S. waged an undeclared war against that distant nation, bombed it by air and by sea, but, most significantly, refrained from sending ground forces into North Vietnam. America’s war policy? Withdrawal of Communist forces from South Vietnam and restoration of the status quo ante. The outcome? A “political solution” leaving Communists in the south. After a “decent interval,” the Soviet client conquered America’s ally.

Now a brief commentary on these wars examined in reverse order.

Both as a private citizen and presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan regarded the Vietnam War as “immoral.” Why? Because it was based on what he and others called a “no win” policy (precisely the policy of Israeli governments). Informed by expert military opinion, Mr. Reagan took the position that if two U.S. divisions had been sent into North Vietnam in 1965—and there was then no sound reason to fear Chinese intervention—the war would have soon been over.

More than 50,000 Americans would not have lost their lives. North and South Vietnam would not have suffered a million civilian casualties. South Vietnam would not now be living under a Communist tyranny.

And the world, so conscience-stricken about civilian casualties resulting from Israel’s retaliations against Arab terrorists, would not have witnessed—without evincing a breath of moral outrage—the genocidal murder of an estimated three million Cambodian women, men, and children.

Returning to the Korean War, most of the American casualties occurred during the protracted negotiations with the Communists at Panmunjom. It’s not easy—indeed, it may be inane—to negotiate with Communists, or with any group ideologically committed to your ultimate demise.

With that as their long-range objective, such enemies are infinitely more patient than democratic politicians. Besides, they don’t have to worry about the next election, about public opinion or about sensation-seeking journalists who can count trees without seeing the forest.

Nor do they have to concern themselves about pacifists, leftists, multinational corporations, and, sad to say, opportunists in rival parties animated by partisan and personal interests.

It’s not easy to negotiate with Communists who scorn the bourgeois prejudice that all conflicts can be solved by peaceful means. And so the Communists dragged out the negotiations at Panmunjom, waiting for divisive elements in the U.S. to do their work for them.

The only thing Communists (and their Arab counterparts) respect is force. In dealing with such people, nothing is more cruel than kindness—or what democrats like to call “self-restraint” or “moderation,” qualities despised as weakness by these enemies of democracy.

If any conflict refutes the bandied-about notion that wars solve no problems, it is World War II. That war resulted in the destruction of what was then the most dangerous tyranny on earth, Nazi Germany.

Now, if Israel were looking for a war-making model against the successors of the Nazis—not only Hamas but also the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority adored by Condoleezza Rice—surely one would not recommend the Vietnam model devised by Henry Kissinger, for which he received a Nobel Peace Prize. The Vietnam Accords left 140,000 Communist troops in South Vietnam. Nor would one recommend the Korean model in which interminable negotiations resulted in the mere restoration of the status quo ante.

If any model is appropriate in dealing with Israel’s implacable enemies, it is the model used by the United States against Nazi Germany.