Desert wars are traditionally short, but desert occupations are long

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 63dot, Aug 4, 2016.

  1. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #1
    I remember hearing an Army officer talk at a family gathering, and he said when the USA brings in tanks or bombers, especially today's refurbished B-52s, wars in desert regions tend to be very short. You can hide in a jungle or forest easily, but in a desert you are an easy target.

    Trump talks about bombing the hell out of ISIS and yes, we could do this with the massive amount of B-52s the president has ordered, but then what?

    So we go in big, take out ISIS and then they blend into the citenzenry and war is over.

    But who will replace them? Will we be in a traditional situation where a conquered desert foe will be virtually impossible to occupy? How long do we occupy this time? Will we add Syria to the list of places we have to hunker down in for many years? Is there another answer to yet another round of a war in Iraq?
     
  2. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #2
    It depends on the reason why the war was fought.

    If you start a war with a purely military goal in mind, - such as defeat of the enemy's army - it is usually very easy to win that war, especially if you are the world's most politically and militarily powerful state. However, if you confuse military means and political goals, then things can become a lot more worrisome, in the long run.

    This is because effecting regime change - while easily achievable militarily - presents problems that no war can solve, and that peace will only throw into sharp relief. Indeed, unless considerable political thought - and planning - has taken place in advance - winning the "peace" will prove an awful lot more challenging than winning the war ever did.

    But military goals rarely lead to desired political outcomes, especially if no thought or planning has been put into achieving these desired outcomes in advance.

    In the absence of many of the necessary and sufficient conditions for democracy in a society, the overthrow of a dictator will not lead to a democratic society. It will merely lead to the replacement of the dictator, and, very often - as the dictator may well have been holding the whole edifice together - the collapse of a society.

    All of this means that if you want a stable peace, you fight a limited war. Limited in aims, and in time. However, when you have overwhelming military superiority, it can be very tempting to demonstrate this fact with an overwhelming victory and an utter annihilation of your opponent.

    Effecting regime change, in the absence of a political mandate, is always a tricky challenge.

    Democracies manage it through elections, which bestow a mandate on the victors and an acceptable means of exit from the political stage for the defeated.

    Dictatorships, well, they tend to manage it by death (in your bed - relatively rare), or death by another way: Such as, murder, coup d'etat, insurrection, revolution, often resulting in death (after having been overthrown, invariably, violently), or occasionally, more benignly, there may be an overthrow resulting in permanent exile.

    And that sometimes means being prepared to fight a war - which despite the inevitability of an overwhelming military victory - that doesn't lead (tempting though it is) to regime change and societal transformation.

    The best possible example that comes to mind of someone who knew when to start - how to win, - and when to stop - wars, is that offered to us by Otto von Bismarck.

    Chancellor von Bismarck fought three wars, and won all three. Only once (the final war, against France in 1870-71) was there a regime change, regime collapse, and societal collapse, and that was not Bismarck's wish - it came about as a result of internal instability in France.

    Leaving aside moral arguments (which serve to influence motivation, sometimes unthinkingly), each of Bismarck's three wars (with Denmark, with the Austrian Habsburgs, and with France) served to leave Prussia (subsequently a united Germany) in a better position, but it did not do so at the cost of destroying, or obliterating opponents.
     
  3. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #3
    That's true for conventional armies but not irregular forces like ISIS.
     
  4. DrewDaHilp1 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    [​IMG]
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    World leaders lack the resolve to do what is necessary.
     
  5. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #5


    ISIL doesn't hang out in the desert. They don't dig handy trenches and bunkers in the sand and scrub to make it easier for US and coalition recon missions to find them. They usually confine their operations and living accommodations to towns. Alongside innocent civilians who are, if anything, their victims more than their supporters.

    Carpet-bombing doesn't work on any level against ISIL.
     
  6. DrewDaHilp1 macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    It worked against the Germans and Japanese. We've tried half measures since the end of WW2, let's give WW2's Total War a try.

    ETA: And I am not even talking Nuclear. More people were killed by firebombing Dresden than Hiroshimo and Nagasaki.
     
  7. NT1440 macrumors G4

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    #7
    Sure, let's solidify to the world that the USA is willing to commit massive ware crimes regardless of consequence. That should work out great....
     
  8. DrewDaHilp1 macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    The Japanese and the Germans are our Allies now. If it worked against the two most fanatical societies during the 20th century, why not give it a shot. Just imagine all the weird porn in 40 years that would give Japan a run for their money.
     
  9. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #9
    You understand that we aren't at war with with Middle East right?

    Also, you're advocating for de facto genocide given the yield of our weapons now.
     
  10. DrewDaHilp1 macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    I editted the post explicitly stating not using the Nuclear option. You do realize that they are wishing Genocide upon us. One side is going to lose this and right now it's looking like they have the better game plan, while the West wants to pretend we are not at war. LINK
     
  11. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #11
    By 1951 we had completely leveled every single city in North Korea, yet the war continued for another two years and ended in a draw.

    Germany didn't surrender until Berlin was occupied and Japan didn't surrender until we nuked their ass and Russia invaded Manchuria.
     
  12. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #12
    You apparently aren't capable of assessing risk.

    Call me when ISIS has any type of force projection capabilities.

    Hint: existential threats don't mean a few dozen at a time.

    Edit: Total War in the 21st century would not exclude Nukes, but seeing as you've explicitly removed them at this point we'll continue the discussion with them off the table.
     
  13. DrewDaHilp1 macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    The West can't even call the "hint" attacks what they are. Ft. Hood work place violence, Orlando was a frustrated gay. France poorly integrated due to xenophobic populace. Germany mental illness.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 4, 2016 ---
    "Best" Korea didn't surrender because they were receiving material and manpower support from the Chinese.
     
  14. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #14
    Please explain to me how our bombs (which are dropping at levels not seen since Vietnam by measure of explosive tonnage) are going to magically become more effective if we use a different label?

    I also don't understand why you can't understand that associating terrorism with Islam is exactly what ISIS has explicitly stated they want us to do. You think it's a good idea to play into the explicitly stated goals of our enemies?
     
  15. DrewDaHilp1 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    They are asking for total war give them total war. Slaughter them wholesale. Make it so atrocious that they lose their will to fight, or enough that neighboring countries finally stand up and handle it on their own.
     
  16. skunk macrumors G4

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    #16
    What does "bombing ISIL" actually mean? You want to flatten Raqqa and Mosul? You want to kill a million civilians to get ten thousand ISIL members living among them? How about the ones in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Nigeria, Afghanistan? Same treatment?
     
  17. pdqgp, Aug 4, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2016

    pdqgp macrumors 68020

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    #17
    Tactical decisions in war today are made too often by people who have never fought first-hand what do you expect. There are two choices and it's quite simple. We either go in to win or we accept the fact that they will continue to come at us with cowardly tactics like terror attacks.

    The US isn't in this to win it, our Administration today is all about trying to fight a politically correct war which is a LOL moment for anyone in the know.

    IMO those in control and many of our own society opt for the politcally correct war and news stories of terrorist attacks. The rest of us who know better may as well just stand by and simply wait to protect our own families when needed while the rest either live by chance or hope that they will never be hurt or wait until someone with a brass pair comes into play to make the hard decisions a reality.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 4, 2016 ---
    you roll in like we did in the early 90's. light 'em up with 80,000 tons of bombs and rockets to pave the way for a ground battle and knock it out in a matter of days and win. or you could jerk around for 15yrs with a few back and forth wins and still not accomplish much. all depends on your objective. it's war, innocent people will know in advance we're coming and make a choice to run or roll the dice meeting their maker. anyone shocked by this has likely never seen real battle.

    I'm not sure what people who are sensitive to this think the enemy is going to do to them when they meet them face to face but if anyone who is so against what we've done in recent years and know to be the recipe for success is should take some time to meet with people who have escaped the hells of war so they can explain to people the reality of the situation.

    these people don't like us, don't like our way of life and don't want us there/period. even the good ones really would be fine with us just leaving them alone. we get it. I get it, but that's not he situation we face nor a reality of the world. we are either there to win or we're not. clearly we're not and I say that having spent plenty of time there.

    we saw plenty of civilians running past us to get out. so long as they weren't armed and coming at us with a weapon, they weren't killed. those that stayed and dug in and housed the enemy met the same fate as the bad guys. believe me, people learn real quick to make that choice and they don't wait around for the bad guys to try and convince them to stay. they run.
     
  18. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #18
    Brought to you by Toyota.
     
  19. DrewDaHilp1 macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    I want a Helux. :( The EPA would treat me even worse than the .gov does ISIS if I some how managed to get one in the US.
     
  20. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #20


    Where do you do this? Which cities and towns do you target? How do you deal with the fact that much of ISIL's activity is located in Syria, a sovereign nation with a government of its own. One that would hardly look kindly on an invasion from tens of thousands of US troops. Do we do the same thing in Libya, another area where ISIL is active? How about Yemen? Tunisia? Do we go back to Iraq and fight, in large numbers, besides the Iraqi government forces as they attempt to retake Mosul?

    None of which is likely to eliminate or reduce the threat that ISIL actually poses to Americans on a day to day basis: That the perverted message put out by ISIL radicalizes lone-wold lunatics to commit random and pointless acts of violence in the streets of San Bernardino or Paris. In reality, a massive military operation against ISIL in Syria or Libya is likely to increase the chance that ISIL's message finds a receptive ear among the handful of disaffected Muslims in Europe and the US.

    Carpet bombing ISIL will make us less safe.
     
  21. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #21
    And all those places you "rolled into" and "lit up" in the 90s, in multiple breaches of the Geneva Conventions, are they all peaceful beacons of democracy now? Mission accomplished?
     
  22. thermodynamic Suspended

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    #22
    Nukes. Or economics. It depends on how green we want the future to be. :p
     
  23. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #23
    I think some like Senator McCain and enough of the generals convinced Obama to take out the WWII type weapons like the indiscriminate B-52. It's not a precise weapon and it's meant to bomb the hell out of an opponent.

    There's so much attention to how clever ISIS is or that we have smarter weapons but there isn't much of a different strategy that when we did shock and awe not too long ago which was essentially WWII tactics. I don't think bombing the hell out of ISIS will make them our friends just because Germany and Japan became our allies pretty quickly after the war, and that we happened to carpet bomb them.

    The joining with Germany and Japan had to do more with communist Russia and China than it had with our bombs making Germans and Japanese finally see our point of view. We didn't bomb them into being our friends. You can't form a new democratic way of thinking by dropping 500 pound bombs on them. It takes other measures.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 4, 2016 ---
    It's not this that we have to worry about. This can be destroyed. It's the thinking and motivation of the enemy. How easy will it be for them to throw up a white flag, wait for us to leave, and then regroup under a new name.
     
  24. DrewDaHilp1 macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    I don't care if they wont be our friends. I'd be happy with them stop attacking the West.
     
  25. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #25


    I'm not sure there is much evidence to suggest Barack Obama was much of a proponent of B-52 strikes. And even less that he needed to be talked out of them.

    One thing I do believe: Over the course of his Presidency Obama has changed in the way he looks at the US military. Not that he was opposed to it, or dismissive of it before. But it is almost inevitable that a President, any President, is going to have a different view of the capabilities, the skills, and the personalities of military people when you deal with them on a daily basis.

    There was a documentary about Air Force One released not long after Obama took office. There is a scene where Obama meets the Air Force Colonel who is going to be the command pilot on most of his flights. And Obama looks at this man and says words to the effect of "You look like exactly the sort of person I want to be flying this airplane."

    I think Obama had a lot of moments like that during his Presidency. Meeting and talking to wounded troops. Writing letters and meeting with the families of those killed in action. Sitting in top secret briefings when his Generals and Admirals laid out the options and risks for various operations. Watching live, in real-time, the highly risky operation that took out bin-Laden.

    IMHO the bin-Laden raid tells us a lot about Obama as a leader, as a President, and as a human being. There were apparently different opinions before the raid about the size of the forces deployed, and the responses should the SEAL team end up engaged in combat with Pakistani military forces. Obama apparently weighed in: He told the mission planners that, if things went wrong, he wanted the team to have the firepower to fight their way out of Pakistan.

    I'm not sure Senator Barack Obama would have made that call in 2007. President Obama did in 2011.
     

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