These statements were given to the press on the Fourth of July. They were not intended as anything more than general reassurances of commitment to the American people back home. The two phrases that generated this essay were (1) "We are engaged in a contest of wills" and (2) "We are in this to win." My immediate thoughts were, If we're in a contest of wills, we are in for big trouble, and then, He's sending signals to the People, but wonder what 'winning' will mean, when this is over, IF it ever is over?"
We are engaged in a contest of wills.... [The enemy uses] unwitting children to carry out attacks.... In answer, we must demonstrate to the people and to the Taliban that Afghan and international forces are here to safeguard the Afghan people, and that we are in this to win... After years of war, we have arrived at a critical moment. We must demonstrate to the Afghan people, and to the world, that Al-Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan from which they can launch attacks on the Afghan people and on freedom-loving nations around the world.... Protecting those we are here to help, nonetheless, does require killing, capturing or turning the insurgents. We will not shrink from that...
I recognize these are sound bites. However, my reactions were more sardonic cynicism than real questions. Petraeus's words were well-received by most Americans on the Fourth of July. But most Americans actually are naive when it comes to foreign wars. For anyone knowing anything about the history of war, let alone America's Vietnam and other guerrilla wars, Petraeus's words were quite hollow for me. Now I am neither naive nor a veteran.
Learning a Little About Islam: 1975 to the Present
I began learning about Islam around 1975, in a general sort of way, by reading entries in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Hastings' Dictionary of Religion and Ethics, and the Encyclopedia of Islam. My main interests in reading about Islam were that religion's historic interactions with my own faith, Christianity, such as the Crusades, and also structural comparisons in dogmatic theology and theological ethics. Most of my PhD curriculum was devoted to studying the history of Christianity, with special attention to the history of Christian violence against heretics as well as persons of other faiths, or without faith.
On the day the World Trade Center was struck, I was at work in the offices of the Kentucky Commission for Human Rights, where I served as an enforcement officer. We went to the storage room and wheeled out the TV on the portable cart and watched in disbelief. In the day or two after September 11, 2001, as soon as I heard the name, "Osama bin Laden," I applied my seasoned research skills to learn about him and whatever he might have written or said prior to that horrible event.
I was excited to find his 1996 declaration of war against Americans and his 1998 declaration against the West and Israel. The news media continued to play and replay the scenes of the destruction, and to move from one "talking head" in Washington DC or the Pentagon to another. After reading just these two statements by Bin Laden, I was completely perplexed as to why no one wanted to cite or reproduce his grievances. There was no need to "speculate" about his motives, for he had revealed his point of view years before.
It seemed to me that both the news media, and its political management in Washington (the White House, CIA, NSA, and FBI), really wanted to "fire up the American people" rather than try to understand Bin Laden's positions--which raised questions about U.S. policies abroad. Three years later, I attempted my own effort at public education.
In 2004, I designed and chaired a symposium for the Association of Conflict Resolution, "Moses, Jesus, Muhammad: What Did the Prophets Teach Regarding Violence and War?" In designing this event, I sought to have at least three representatives respectively from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (in the chronological order of their historical appearance). Since each religion has great diversity within it, I originally hoped to include at least two or three representatives from each, with divergent theological interpretations of their own holy books. This proved too much to manage.
Most of the mujahidin on September 11, 2001, had been citizens from Saudi Arabia, our "historic ally and trading partner." THAT perplexed me, until I read that Bin Laden and others were greatly influenced by Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, from whom had emerged a "Wahabi" Muslim tradition. So I wrote to Prince Bandar, head of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington DC, seeking to have a representative at least present at the symposium. I met with one of his representatives in Embassy in Washington to that end. He gave me a mini-library of Islamic books, including the Qur'an, which I soon learned contained the "Saudi perspective" on Islam. From that point of view alone, these have been helpful.
Facts More Valuable Than Propaganda
America is in trouble in many respects; however, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution still enables much information to remain open in the public domain. There are men and women in various places in our country who would remove any information that contradicts their propaganda. Fortunately, our American democracy still functions well enough that political fascists (and both national parties have their own fascists who want to control the Public Mind) are unsuccessful.
As a historian and also as a man raised on a farm--where facts and hard truth are more valued than "spin"--skepticism at "first appearances" and the "opinion of the Crowd", followed by diligent and unremitting research into as much evidence as possible, I have found that "following the money" often is a very rewarding method to sift and sort out the real motives of most people.
Bin Laden and al-Qaeda struck at the financial heart of America because they HAD followed the money over many years of U.S. foreign policy. American politicians and transnational corporations had no real interest in Muslim peoples other than controlling and extracting their oil reserves. Bin Laden's list of complaints no one here in America seems interested in. It is as if, because he is a murderer, and an abuser of the Muslim doctrine of jihad, no one is interested in his reasons for murdering.
It seems reasonable to me for any democratic society, which historically has made claims to teach the world about human rights, to have the moral strength of character to listen to allegations of our enemies when there IS a "gap between our talk and our walk." Is is not true that sometimes we rise up in hate and revulsion when our worst critics speak the TRUTH, or include truth as a core part of their criticism?
Even an enemy can teach us something, besides providing us with a target for our laser-guided missiles. Why should Americans not use their democracy and freedom to discuss whatever weaknesses or failures we have as a people, as all other nations have, since none are perfect? Why should we not take the facts within the charges of our enemies--who seek to destroy us--and admit them?
To deny those facts, or say they are not facts, is to SUPPORT our enemies' contentions that we are moral and political hypocrites. If someone speaks the truth about some person, organization, or even a nation's policies--yet the person, organization, or nation is so arrogant, proud, self-righteousness, and DELUSIONAL, as to think that Denial Is Sufficient to overcome truth, this is a sign of moral cancer and turpitude.
Nevertheless, as one who has studied the history of my own beloved nation, and taught it on the undergraduate level, whatever our merits, and the freedoms enshrined within our U.S. Constitution, we have been as slow to admit our sins and wickedness as every other nation.
Propaganda always has been more important to politically-minded peoples, not only in America but in all nations, than a full and balanced statement of the facts. So while Gen. Petraeus's short comments on the Fourth of July surely had some element of sincerity within them, he and other veterans of foreign wars know things are far more complex and difficult. To that extent, his words were propaganda.
The following comments are posted after a number of revisions. I've tried to pare down my thoughts to the attention span of most readers. Any who want a fuller exposition can ask. JDW
Petraeus Is Correct:
There is a Such a Thing as "Will"
Gen. Petraeus said we are in a "contest of wills." For many years, I did not believe there was such as thing as a "will." It was too ethereal, too theological, too immune from scientific analysis. I held the "will" to be deeply committed ideas and values. I think many would agree with this today. Yet over the years, I have come to believe there is a will that is deeper than rationalism. Torture breaks down the resistance of reason. Many have their "wills broken" under waves of pain. This is understandable and acceptable to me. They have no criticism or condemnation.
Yet there are many examples of men and women, even youths, upon whom every physical torture or duress, even obliterating reason, do not break their wills. Perhaps military experts in psychological manipulation will deny this. Perhaps they are correct. But I know, or believe I know, based on my studies of historical narratives, some individuals have denied or broken the wills of their captors, whose torture could not break them.
So while I still continue to value the indoctrination of reason, and the habituation of behavior modification rendering near-autonomic responses, I will affirm there is a will to fight and win. I now turn to consider the differences between the American will to fight and win, and that of our Muslim enemies.
The U.S. Will is Contingent
Contingent means, dependent on certain outcomes. If certain strategic objectives are not attained at some indeterminate time in the future, there is a possibility the U.S. will withdraw from these combat operations. Based on what I know, as an outsider, it may be a very long time until we have a Vietnam-like cessation of operations. There are other pressing factors now that may, possibly, forestall unlimited combat. I will address the U.S. economy and other issues below, later.
Among American citizens, some have a non-contingent attitude about fighting and defeating our Muslim enemies. Some of these believe nuclear annihilation is an option to be exercised. They believe carpet-bombing the entire region would end the conflict by exterminating all living persons, the guilty along with the innocent. We do have precedent for the annihilation principle in U.S. military history, the genocides of some Native American nations. Nevertheless, nuclear annihilation is neither a political option, nor a pragmatic final solution. The last two words are not an allusion to the Nazi program with the same name.
The U.S. military strategic goals are dependent on achieving certain specific military and political objectives. Gen. Petraeus has said we are in this to win. What this means is the U.S. will not withdraw from either Afghanistan or Iraq, ever, until our objectives are attained. I will describe below why our contingent will to win cannot obtain our goals, ever, because of certain factors resident in our enemies' will to win and their definition of "winning," neither which are contingent.
Regarding U.S. soldiers on the ground, they are patriot-tools for our generals and strategists in the Pentagon. Their wills also are contingent. So long as they believe they are fighting for their homeland, so long as they believe their leaders are fighting to win, they will remain resolute. Since our soldiers are in the field and see first-hand the victories or set-backs they do, and since they also talk among themselves and hear reports from home, these factors have contingent effects of their fighting will.
The Muslim Will is Absolute
The Muslim will to win is absolute, not contingent. Even if carpet-bombing took out all living strategists and warriors in the region, other Muslims would arise from the international scene to replace them. If somehow all the international recruits could be killed, indeed, if all Muslims in the world could be killed, the cause of their will would remain: the Qur'an. And since the Qur'an cannot be annihilated and removed from human history, its teachings always will raise up new converts to obey nothing contingent, but everything, absolute.
I will take a few moments to describe generally the dynamics that create and sustain the Muslim will to fight.
The word, islam, means "submission" and in the heart and soul of Islam is the absolute demand, given throughout the Qur'an, on Allah's requirements for submission for every believer, of both genders, of all ages, of all tongues, and in all nations.
From the time a person becomes a Muslim by believing and confessing the Shahadah, the confession of faith--La ilaha illa-Allah, Muhummadur Rasuhullah ("there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet")--the life of islam is the daily struggle to submit all the believer is, and all the believer's deeds and effects in the world, to the will of Allah. There are no exceptions. There is no grace. This is the duty: to direct one's will, thoughts, emotions, speech, behaviors, and social relationships in and under the will of Allah. This is the Muslim way. There is no democracy here, only a theocracy.
The task of submission is not easy, and requires struggle. That word, struggle, in Arabic is called, jihad. Americans think this word, in their minds shaped by propaganda, means a hate-filled war against the U.S. and all things Western. This is incorrect. There are three main aspects in the Muslim struggle to submit and subordinate all to the will of Allah revealed by Muhammad.
Jihad had three spheres in which this struggle occurs: (1) personal jihad, the struggle to submit the self; (2) social jihad, the struggle to use all one's personal efforts, resources, and influence, to help other Muslim society in all its organizations submit to the will of Allah; and, (3) military jihad, the struggle--first and always only defensively, after an attack on fellow Muslims, or after Islam has been rejected and attacked--either to defeat the enemies, or, something either unknown, neglected, or rejected by U.S. and Western strategists, to negotiate a just end to hostilities.
The Muslim will, therefore, is completely conditioned by, daily familiar with, and committed to both submission to Allah and the struggle required even to be a Muslim in this multi-faceted concept a Muslim calls jihad. The first two spheres of jihad are positive in orientation with a positive goal: success in submission. In the third sphere, however, attack against Muslims and the House of Islam, this is a compounded negative struggle.
Enemies--wherever they exist--threaten the individual Muslim, one's family, one's extended family in the faith wherever they live in the world. Islam is one people united in their submission to and struggle for obedience Allah. Therefore, military jihad, irrespective of why or against whom the harm or offense has been done, is of international and universal Muslim concern.
Recruitment, therefore, is not based on innate or natural hatred of all things American or Western. Were there no aggression against Muslim people, lands, or natural resources, there could be no permissible basis on which to fight. Muhammad and the Qur'an do not allow it. The will of Muslims to engage in jihad is dissolved when conditions for military jihad are removed.
The danger for good Muslims, like good Americans, is based also in perceptions. Corrupt and evil imams or mujahidin leaders know the jihad principle is fundamental, elemental. And they, like American leaders interested in oil reserves, can and do manipulate other Muslims, who are not innately bellicose, to perceive, for example as an extreme case, "all Americans must die." These are precisely like Americans who want to carpet-bomb the region.
The problem we have, as I see it, is that there are factual bases bad Muslim leaders can use: (1) U.S. interests in Muslim oil; (2) U.S. alliances with corrupt regimes [i.e., shirk, or false Muslims selling out Muslim resources for their own greed and power]; and, (3) many examples where the U.S. have turned a blind moral eye to suffering Muslims [e.g., those persecuted by corrupt Muslim regimes, or passively, as in the case of the Palestinians, allowing others to harm them unjustly].
The following point is missed by nearly all Americans. On September 11, 2001, television news showed Muslims all over the world rejoicing in the streets. Many Americans and others in the West were completely benumbed and dumbfounded, asking, "Why would these people cheer such a horrible event?" The answer actually is simple. They did not hate the American people, or despise the dead.
Americans as a people have followed whatever propaganda dished out by our administrations. Though the Saudis, for example, are historic allies for profits with our petroleum industries, they are brutal in the suppression of reform groups. They have their own torture chambers. In scores of examples, American politicians and our corporations have called "friends" those who assist U.S. profits, but who oppress local populations. This has gone on for at least one hundred years, if we add in the British, then American, systematic legal disestablishment and physical displacement of Muslims in Jerusalem, then the West Bank. This is not an anti-Israeli statement, merely a factual one.
The cheers on 9-11-01 were based on a long-developing antagonism with U.S. collaboration in injustice against Muslims. The antipathy was against U.S. government policies historically disinterested in Muslim grievances against injustice, historically allied with corporate profits (and Israeli policies). While surely there were some in those crowds who hate "all Americans" (as some Americans hate "all Muslims" or even "all Jews"), most Muslims applauded that untouchable America had been touched, in a nerve center, and graphically for all the world to see.
For those who hate all Americans, I would surmise their basis is not innate vile hatred, but their disgust that the American people have for so long accepted passively the propaganda dispensed by their oligarchs, a consistent and long line of U.S. administrations allied with transnational corporations.
Bad Muslim leaders cherish the fact that American leaders and corporations have given them the objective conditions for jihad. This enables the worst of them to use genuine abuses as cover for their own egotistical manipulation. Just as there have been bad Christians and Jews, who abused their faiths for personal ambition and power, so also there are equally bad Muslims who harness the theological dynamic of jihad, for theirs. Having a holy book does not make a holy man, nor does a wicked man quoting a holy text know the God of that text.
The final steel in the backbones of Muslims' will to fight is well known. There is only one assured path to salvation, so far as I know, in Islam: martyrdom in military jihad. This motivation emboldens children, teens, women, and, of course, men (who have testosterone added), to volunteer for and remain in combat, with the prospect of dying in it, or to use military strategies involving various forms of suicide, to achieve assured paradise. In itself, this is layered upon the structural concept of jihad and is most useful for corrupt and manipulative imams or mujahidin generals for exploitation.
Brief Summary Comparison:
U.S. and Muslim Wills to Fight
There are individual U.S. military, strategists and soldiers on the ground, with wills to fight and win just as completely indomitable as any Muslims today. This always will be true. There are Americans who love freedom who possess in implacable will to fight and defend it. The great constitutive difference between the two armies, as classes, is the difference between democracy and theocracy.
The American will to fight is not engaged by holy books. Yes, our history of wars is full of mainly Christian preachers and priests quoting the Bible to justify the latest policy passed down from their favorite politicians. But today, the American will to fight is driven by sufficient contingent conditions commonly called "just war." This means, Americans go to war when there are factual events warranting war. We live in a democratic society, and our will to fight always has been based on defending our way of life. We must be persuaded that fighting is necessary for our safety, our families' safety, and to preserve our way of life. Americans live in a free society where we defend freedom not through dictatorial order, but the consensus of our people a "just cause" exists to go to war. Unfortunately, over the past several decades our Presidents and their psychological warfare advisers have trained us like seals to bark and gulp down every fish code-named "national security."
Therefore, the American will to fight is contingent on two fronts. Compelling factual and reasonable causes for war and, as Petraeus briefly outlined, specific military objectives to attain. These are our basic drivers to fight. When these drivers are either removed, through victory, or else eroded through discovery of data showing wars were initiated or fought contrary to the initiating drivers, the erosion of will follows. (I will discuss this point, used by bin Laden and all other Muslim strategists, under the next major section heading below.)
In the case of Islamic warriors, the will to struggle in military combat is the third sphere of the revealed, normal, theocratic life for all Muslims. Again, the Qur'an does not teach external warring in the world as the "normal" Islamic way, despite what the worst imams teach through their perverse doctrines. But Muhammad did command defensive war. When Muslims are harmed, Muslims must fight.
I will not go into details on Muhammad's several reasons for military jihad. Defense is one. Justice, primitive justice--the ancient "eye for an eye" principle found in Moses, but not Jesus--is another. Yet Muhammad forbids emotional revenge. Revenge must be restrained and controlled under Allah's principle of just retaliation. But again, Americans generally are uninterested in reading the Qur'an, and some clearly want their own revenge, e.g., carpet-bombing.
Therefore, the American will to fight is contingent, and the Muslim will to fight is absolute. One is based in the democratic process, the other is based in the theocratic process. Enough has been said on these points.
Muslim Military Strategy:
Eroding the American Will to Fight Through Contingency
Muslim strategists like Osama bin Laden, and many others besides him, understand the democratically-generated will to fight. I have discussed contingency above as attaining certain specific military objective. Our Muslim enemies understand that, since Americans do not possess a natural jihad-based view of life (again, I mean in the fullest sense of three spheres), other contingent factors can erode the will to fight that does exist. I will address this now.
In 2004, Osama bin Laden taunted "Bush II" with a radio address, but used this public format to try to erode the American will to fight.
All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make [American] generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits [i.e., profits] for their private companies. This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers. We, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.... So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.... That being said, ... one cannot say that al-Qaida is the sole factor in achieving those spectacular gains. Rather, the policy of the White House that demands the opening of war fronts to keep busy their various corporations, whether they work in the fields of arms, oil, or reconstruction, has helped al-Qaida to achieve these enormous results. [A]l-Qaida spent $500,000 on [one] event, while America, in the incident and its aftermath, lost, according to the lowest estimate, more than $500 billion. This means that every al-Qaida dollar defeated a million [American] dollars ... besides the loss of a huge number of jobs. As for the size of the [U.S.] economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars. And even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the mujahidin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan.This is a most important statement. Bin Laden's main content is focused on how Muslim military strategies, essentially guerrilla tactics using carefully devised hit-and-run tactics, are highly economical and demonstrably effective. Using the protracted Soviet war in Afghanistan as his historical example of success, he expresses a calm confidence in the "bleed-until-bankruptcy plan" for the current conflict. A few remarks are in order.
First, it is true that American allied support, engendered by the successful efforts of Texas U.S. Representative Charles Wilson, enabled the Muslim victory to occur as it did. Without that support, the mujahidin would have fought on for years, though they never would have quit. Soviet losses were accelerated and compounded by the use of U.S. advanced weapons, finally draining the Soviet will to continue. But the Soviet will also was eroded by economic collapse at home.
Before connecting bin Laden's "bleed-until-bankrupt plan" strategy--which is essentially the war of attrition using macroeconomics--to our current situations here in the U.S., I suggest that the attack on the World Trade Center was the first application of this.
Had bin Laden and his group been wishing to kill as many Americans as possible, he would have chosen something like biological warfare or, what many fear now, nuclear weapons. Destroying the World Trade Center was not a good target selection for killing large numbers. But it was highly effective in two ways: (1) as a physical symbol of American capitalism, based in New York, and (2) as a real nerve center for many U.S. financial and other corporations.
In his radio speech, bin Laden put the economic damage at $500,000,000 dollars. I have heard estimates it actually was $1,000,000,000,000. I propose that the destruction of the World Trade Center was the first strike in the "bleed-until-bankrupt plan."
Unwitting Allies With Bin Laden and Others
I have thought many times how our most intelligent Muslim enemies must laugh at what has happened here over the past several years. Again, I do not believe their laughter is because they hate the American people as a people. I simply do not believe that, not because I am pro-Muslim or naive to the worst leaders they have who sincerely hate all things American and Western. I am not pro-Muslim, and I do believe some Muslim leaders simply must be killed, not because they are our enemies, but because they are insane.
No, the laughter about which I speak is how our greediest American corporations have accelerated and compounded American bankruptcy in progress. Bin Laden, and all groups more extreme than his, have much about which to laugh.
If U.S. missiles against the Soviets can be compared with the U.S. commercial jetliners against the World Trade Center, just as the collapsing Soviet economy dissolved their will to fight on, so too the collapsing U.S. economy is an acid eating away our the U.S. will to fight on.
The Acid of Economics
If our nation were flush with cash, I have little doubt that even nine years of fighting would deter the majority of Americans from pouring more into our current wars. Yet we are unofficially bankrupt. Congress continues to strip and pare down domestic programs affecting millions of citizens. The Senate now has refused even to authorize benefits for the unemployed because they are "not paid for."
Sun Tzu, a Chinese military strategist centuries who lived centuries before the Roman Empire, is required reading for anyone waging war. Among his classic strategies in his famous book, The Art of War are these: "await the exhausted enemy at your ease" and "loot a burning house." Bin Laden surely has read Sun Tzu. So did Chairman Mao Zedong. So do his children and grandchildren, as the Communist People's Republic of China's strategic economy victory of the U.S. now is nearly complete.
Millions of Americans eagerly would slay simultaneously both the good and evil, just and unjust Muslims with carpet-bombing. Not many Americans even know the phrase, Fifth Column. Educate yourself. I would argue persuasively that the same corporate interests which (1) historically ignored legitimate harms against certain Muslim peoples, through corrupt alliances for profit and (2) willfully plundered and ruined the American economy are our Fifth Column today.
But again, Americans are more interested in propaganda. Nevertheless, now they are beginning to feel the acid of economic collapse, this factual cancer already having eaten the American Dream of millions--never to be restored. This acidic cancer was not caused by one Muslim military strike costing $1,000,000,000 and 3,000 lives. This was caused by domestic economic terrorists whose cluster bombs cost at least $14,000,000,000 and how many millions of American citizens, in the present and future long distant.
Our enemies can laugh in derision, not necessarily due to any real hate for people like me and you. The same American corporate interests that ignored Muslim injustices for greed, also perpetrated injustices against us for greed. Now we feel at home what our enemies felt abroad.
Still, Americans are like all other nations. We simply prefer propaganda. We want to believe, like Gottfried Leibniz, we are the "best of all possible nations," despite, like him, evidence to the contrary. We always have preferred scapegoats to historical honesty. Educate yourself. Read merely the history of U.S. laws, our factual codifications of who we were and what we were willing to enforce wtih police and armies.
Though we have domestic terrorists among us, guilty of many counts of the federal crime, misprision of treason, we forever will be what our democratic ancestors were: the pawns of propaganda. We willingly pour on the Altar of Freedom precious blood and treasure on pretexts by those who rule over us in contempt of us.
The Acid of War Come Home
There is an ancient Roman proverb, dulce bellum inexpertis: "war is sweet to the inexperienced." Mark Twain illustrated this truth in his posthumously-published little piece, The War Prayer.
Men and women who return from combat--physically whole and uninjured, or not--forever carry emotional and psychological scarring. Whether infantry or support, no one in battle or providing medical or other care for warriors can forget the memories of war.
Our U.S. Veterans Administration now has a section devoted to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have a close friend at a military hospital who treats combat veterans suffering from PTSD. All had symptoms of PTSD on the battlefield. Nearly all were examined and given clean bills of psychiatric help when their combat tours were over. Why? A discharge with a disability qualification means years of expensive treatments, which must be absorbed by the VA. So they were discharged healthy.
This friend comes from three generations of decorated Army officers, graduates of West Point. This friend has a cousin with several stars on his shoulders. My friend is no pacifist, but is bitterly against the oligarchs, who send men and women to war for profits, then install bean counters to keep brave soldiers, not from profits, but from treatment and healing. This friend has a cancer of cynicism and despair, placed within by what is seen every day.
Dick Cheney's heart condition is aggrieved by many, but it aggrieved millions while he was in office. His decision not to allow media coverage of veterans' coffins returned home, on the specious ground of "privacy and respect for families." Gullible supporters accepted that, but the real reason was he did not want the acidic reminder to Americans that Halliburton's venture was costing human lives. The Vietnam war effort suffered at home by media coverage, and the Bush White House wanted ideological control and command, even at the cost of seeing the our fallen patriots' remains back home.
"In This To Win":
Succinct Comparisons Between U.S. and Muslim Goals
The U.S. Definition of Winning:
Temporal and Contingent
The initial reason for bombing Afghanistan was revenge against the September 11, 2001, bombings and to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, his strategic planners, and those following them. We still do not know why at Tora Bora insufficient troops were on the ground, or why bin Laden was allowed to escape. We do not know why President Bush later said he no longer was concerned with bin Laden.
We do know the war in Iraq was based on lies regarding WMDs. We also know war plans against Iraq were begun soon after September 11, 2001, with detailed maps of oil fields. We know President Bush instructed Iraqis not to "destroy oil fields" prior to the bombing campaign or to defend a regime about to fall.
The U.S. definition of winning in the Iraq war is for control of its oil reserves. Now that minerals and metals have been discovered in Afghanistan (if not known before), perhaps our goals there also have changed. In any case, the U.S. definition of winning is tied to economic objectives which, if they ever are obtained, must be sustained by Muslim coalition governments willing to cooperate with U.S. economic goals. The U.S.'s "nation-building" goals are for pro-American indigenous governments, not democratically elected governments protecting their own natural resources.
The American government is using the precious blood of its patriots for temporal purposes, economic objectives, not the spread of freedom and democracy.
This is seen by the fall of Iraq. In April, 2003, Lt. Gen. Jay Garner was put in charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Garner believed in real democracy. He began to work for free elections within 90 days. He wanted to hand Iraq over to them through free elections to form their own government. After serving three months, he was removed and replaced by Paul Bremer, before he could finish. Washington had not had enough time to form coalitions favorable or controllable by the U.S. In December, 2004, Bremer was given the Medal of Freedom by President Bush. He had done his work.
This is seen by the installation of Hamid Karzai as President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in December, 2004. Whether or not Wayne Madsen's 2002 article, "Afghanistan, the Taliban, and the Bush Oil Team, can be verified in its many details, I do not know. He is so specific in his names, dates, and events, he has great courage if he is a liar. One thing I know. Karzai is targeted by our U.S. enemies, for he is completely subordinate to U.S. economic interests in his country and the region.
"Winning" the war in Afghanistan is, like Iraq, meeting and holding strategic political and economic control of natural resources. Since this is the case, so long as the U.S. can afford financially to fight (which will be discussed below), it is committed long-term and permanently to the "contest of wills" to which Petraeus referred. The U.S. will is engaged, therefore, in a contest over natural resources, control and command over them, in the U.S.'s economic interests. This contest is for temporal gain.
The Muslim Definition of Winning:
Absolute and Eternal, or Contingent and Temporal?
Nearly all Americans are ignorant of anything about Muslims or Islam, other than what they are told, and willingly believe, by (1) their national political party, (2) their favorite utterly vacuous radio talking-head, purchased by one party or another, or (3) trying to discern what might be true in federal propaganda. It behooves all true patriots, if they really love the men and women we send to fight a war, to know why our enemies are fighting U.S. troops, and what they hope to obtain, or win.
One would dream, but this is only a dream, that the American people would use the precious Bill of Rights to search far and wide for all the available answers to such questions. But then, it seems most Americans are more sheep than lions when it comes to searching for facts. Regarding September 11, 2001, I recently have been gratified by one lion in Vermont, John Heartson. What interesting work for an engineer and a musician. I encourage readers to go through his materials, and challenge his results.
Based on what I can determine, our Muslim enemies are divided among themselves as to what they hope to win in Afghanistan, Iraq, the West Bank, or any other region where U.S. interests, policies, and presence have created or allowed harm to Muslim populations. One thing is sure. Our enemies in the current wars are allied, at least temporarily, until certain strategic objectives are obtained.
Yet any American who believes that all Muslim enemies are solely dedicated to the destruction of America and all its innocent citizens are wrong. Simply and flatly wrong. In order to save time in this already overly-long essay, I have tried to summarize the main Muslim factions and what they seek.
If what follows below is any help to my fellow Americans interested in a more complex understanding than that offered by our worst media figures, and our worst U.S. Congresspersons, then I will have done some good. Our enemies are not one group, but several in alliance. I will try to separate their separate, different goals, starting with the immediate ones common to them all, and descending to broader ones.
- Withdrawal of U.S. Forces and Corporations From Muslim Lands
- This seems a common goal among all groups.
- This guarantees, since the U.S. will not allow this, interminable hostilities.
- Our Muslim enemies know this, and are prepared to fight forever.
- Their will to fight is not, again, natural bellicosity, the Qur'anic teaching; that is, no foreign aggression against the House of Islam can stand.
- Because the "bleed-until-bankrupt plan" has worked before, and because the U.S. has accelerated its own bankruptcy from within, our enemies are stirred and emboldened with rightly-placed confidence of some as yet unknown but certain progress towards this ultimate goal.
- Here is where sectarian, tribal, and ethnic differences assure hostilities among Muslims themselves, were the U.S. to withdraw.
- The Taliban, for instance, is not loved by all Muslims, nor even by all Afghanis, but the Taliban is committed to its version of what sharia requires. So the Muslims who find Taliban doctrines and arrogance insufferable will oppose it their own way.
- Saddam Hussein's despotic rule might have ended earlier, without U.S. support for so many years. Now that the U.S. is trying desperately to set up another indigenous coalition favorable to our economic interests, the absence of a dictator-gone-off-the-reservation promises unsatisfactory results. Iraq has its own thousand-years' history of sectarian and tribal hostilities in various regions. This in itself promises perpetual U.S. involvement, to control what Muslims have found uncontrollable without despotism.
- Not many Americans understand that some current Muslim enemies want the two military objectives above, but seek a negotiated peace with the U.S.
- Muhammad commanded negotiations with enemies under the following conditions:
- the enemies, who initiated the conflict, must initiate negotiations with Muslims as equals, not subordinates;
- the enemies must have their intentions verified as in good faith;
- Muslim negotiations must be in good faith, in no way setting aside or surrendering just Muslim claims for restitution
- Muslim negotiations must be honorable in the sight of Allah.
- Many Americans wrongly believe this is the sole military objective of all our Muslim enemies abroad or in this country. There are many now engaged in battle against us, who use this language; however, for some this is propaganda.
- They must use bold and threatening language to keep their troops in line, and from defecting to the ranks of those who truly have this goal.
- Upon changed conditions, these propagandists will abandon this language, if they believe their Muslim interests are advanced, and will show themselves in the third class above.
- The enemies truly in this class have multiplied since the invasion of Afghanistan and the Iraq war. Always committed to the first and second objectives, many of these also were amenable to the third objective. However, the evidence of the past nine years has moved them permanently away from that, to the fourth objective.
- The killing and maiming of civilian populations has hardened them against negotiation in the future.
- The evidence that the Iraq war was started on false grounds, with its added killing of innocent Iraqis, compounds the conviction that the American people--who did not rise up to remove the Bush administration--are in collusion with corporate interests.
A "Contest of Wills" and On "In This To Win"
The Contest of Wills:
Americans Against Its Energy Oligarchs?
The United States is committed, apparently forever, to its petroleum interests in the Middle East. Until the foreign policies of our nation are detached from petroleum derived from Muslim nations and territories, we forever will fight indigenous Muslims who are, to the degree they want self-determination to rule themselves in their own ways--after they have slain each other to see who the victors will be, among their own--they are merely "freedom fighters."
No, their freedom is not American freedom. No, the Taliban, the Saudis, the Iranians, and any other Muslims, who stone or cut off the heads of adulterers, who the Qur'an justifies in domestic violence, who indoctrinate little children through isolation in madrassas, who use the lash and every form of inhumane coercive punishment against those who disagree with them, all these have a twisted and perverse religion, in my view.
But the United States has had its own perversions in our history. And many of them were driven by profits. See the historical appendix when this section is done. We are not clean. We are not a consistently moral people, based on our own history. Even in our own day, the heirs of slaves still are treated with contempt by a percentage of our population. And no one cares about the heirs of Native Americans, or how we stole an entire continent from them. The Indians are a dead issue.
So I find it a complete historical hypocrisy to ridicule Muslim peoples abroad or at home. At least officially, they tolerate no pornography. They require prayer five times a day. They require zakat, the giving of alms to the poor. They do not allow, again, at least officially, any Muslim to loan money to another Muslim at interest, something no Christians or Jews have much trouble with. I do not know how well they do these things. But the burkah and beheading are not the sum total of Islam.
Therefore, if any American truly wants an end to most of our enemies' antipathies against American corporations, and an entire unbroken line of American Presidents who tow the line for them, then separation from the United States of any unjust alliances with puppet Muslim governments is the simplest and most direct route.
Another Contest of Wills:
Engaging Our Enemies on Their Ground
Now we all know our Muslim enemies train little children, teens, and women to strap on bomb-belts. This, they teach them, is jihad. As stated before, there are two other forms of jihad: personal and social.
I believe it is time for Americans to quit focusing so much on military jihad and start reading the Qur'an. I can just hear some readers now: "This idiot says I need to read the Qur'an? He's got to be one of those camel-jockeys! What they need is the Bible, and him too!" Hold your horses, and I'll hold my camels. Now the reason I say we need to start reading the Qur'an are obvious to me.
- If someone is out to kill you, based on a religious book, it behooves you to read the religious book. Otherwise, from a military point of view, you fail to gather intelligence. And, as Muhammad himself recognized, his commands were given aware that some unbelievers would try subterfuge for conquest.
- Nevertheless, Muhammad gave these as commands. They are obligations. And unless one is such a hater of innocent Muslim babies and children, who God gave life, or such a hater of Muslims who do not agree with imams dedicated to killing you, why would you not want to know a legitimate basis of appeal upon which to negotiate treaties for the sake of the innocent?
- Moreover, there are Muslims who hear nothing but the "kill the infidels" commands and who, just like Christians, whose right-wing pastors encourage them to kill "the infidel hordes of Muslims" or the "unbelieving Christ-killers, the Jews," does it not honor the good Muslim who wants to obey Allah, not even his or her ordinarily favorite but prejudiced imam?
- And, for those in the U.S. political or military establishment who are Christians in spirit and the letter, is it not in their interests to know each, every, and all bases for negotiated treaties and settlements, and in that way, to have the tools truly and honorably to love their enemies by respecting what they believe to be the Word of God?
I ask these mujahidin to engage in personal jihad and submit their own hatreds and vengeance to all Muhammad commands in Anfaal, and Taubaor Bar'aat:
Fear trial which affects not in particular only those of you who do wrong, and know that Allah is strict in punishment. Call to mind when you were a small band, deemed weak throughout all the land, and afraid that men might despoil and kidnap you. But He provided a safe asylum for you, strengthened you with His aid, and gave you good things for sustenance: that you might be grateful. O, you who believe! Betray not the trust of Allah and the Messenger, nor misappropriate knowingly things entrusted to you. (8:25-26)
Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better. They will never frustrate. Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the enemies, and others besides, who you may not know, but whom Allah does know. Whatever you shall spend in the cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly. (8:59-60)
But if the enemy inclines towards peace, you do also incline towards peace, and trust in Allah; for He is the One who hears and knows. Should they intend to deceive you, truly, Allah is enough for you. He is the One who has strengthened you with His aid and with the believers. (8:61-62)
An immunity from Allah and His Messenger, to those of the Pagans with whom you have contracted mutual alliances.... Obligations are not dissolved with those pagans with whom you have entered into alliances and who have not subsequently failed you in anything, nor aided anyone against you. So fulfill your engagements with them to the end of their term, for Allah loves the righteous. But when the forbidden months are past [i.e., treaties expire], then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem. But if they establish regular prayers and pay zakat, then open the way for them, for Allah is often forgiving, most merciful. If one among the pagans ask you for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah, and then escort him to where he can be secure. This is because they are men without knowledge. (9:1-6)
How can there be a covenant before Allah and His Messenger, with the pagans, except those with whom you made a treaty near the Sacred Mosque? As long as these stand true to you, you stand true to them, for Allah does love the righteous. (9:7)
But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your faith, you fight the Chiefs of unfaith, for their oaths are nothing to them, therefore, that they may be [self-?] restrained. (9:12)
O, you who believe! Do not take for protectors your fathers and your brothers, if they love infidelity above faith. If any among you do, they do wrong. Say, "If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kin, the wealth you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, or the dwellings in which you delight--are these dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause? Then wait until Allah brings about His decree, and Allah guides not the rebellious." (9:23-24)Some Direct Questions for Our Enemies:
On Why You Do What You Do
Muhammad commanded that Muslims could fight when people rejected Islam or when they attacked Muslims. He also said many things about Christians and Jews: that they were People of the Book, that they had Moses, Jesus, and the other prophets; that they were to be tolerated so long as they respected Muslims; and, that if they acted justly towards Muslims, they were to be treated with respect. Muhammad also commanded that women and children, strangers and noncombatants, were not to be slain but protected. He also commanded that Muslims were to use retaliation--an eye for an eye--as their basis for holy jihad, just as Allah, who so often is called Most Just and Most Merciful, is to Muslims.
Enemies abroad, you have declared military jihad on all Americans, Christians, Jews, and their allies. When you say "all," that includes little children. Allah was the One who gave those children life. They were born in the nations they were. They were born into the families they were. Perhaps those families had a religion, perhaps not. Some of those families all over the world include Christians and Jews. Perhaps some of the parents of those children taught them Islam was not their religion, or that it was an incorrect or bad religion. Tell me, when a child is a child, and when Allah gave life to that child in a family that child did not choose, and that child never has himself or herself ever actively--within their own minds and wills--learned enough to reject Islam, is that a just basis, according to Allah, to kill them?
Based on all I've read, enemies, what you have done is take commands to strike, attack, and kill-- all preconditioned by Muhammad's requirements for rejection, harm, and willful unbelieve--then made them absolute rules for all people in every class mentioned by Muhammad, whether they ever personally rejected or attacked Islam, you, your family, or your kin, or not. Do you not see my point?
When I read statements by Muhammad showing appreciation for the faith in God by the Jews and Christians; that he himself included in the Qur'an stories drawn from their faith traditions; and, that he commanded respect for them, their synagogues and churches, because those are holy places where prayers to Allah are lifted up--why, are you the enemies sworn to kill and exterminate American Christians like me? Or why do you want to kill my family? What have I or my four children ever done to harm you? Or do you know that I have defended your faith--not mine, yours--from false accusations? Or does that matter to you?
I am not a very good Christian at times. But let me tell you, I know some Christians and Jews, and members of other religions, who are far better than me. They have more faith. They believe, as you do, God is One and over all people in all nations, of all tongues and conditions, and that God's will must be done. These are not Muslims. Do you, my enemies, choose to disregard the elements of Muslim faith in them, simply because they are not part of your sect, your madrassah, or because they do not know you exist?
Last of all, I want to turn away from this subject of military jihad. I want to turn to the most elemental form of jihad, the most important and first one of all: within your own self.
I am no scholar of Islam. Unless you kill me first, it is my intention to study and learn more about your faith. I want to know, not for subversive reasons, or to trick you, as if I could. So you tell me.
Take any Muslim who has not successfully waged jihad within himself, or herself; one whose will, thinking, emotions, and behaviors still are more like a non-Muslim's than a Muslim; or one quite familiar with the faith, yet one who is over-sensitive, insecure but with over-compensatory pride; over-hasty and prone to error; or, perhaps, one who competes with or rejects a parent or a sibling, because of innate insecurity, CAN such Muslims be trusted to know either good social jihad, or just military jihad?Here is why I ask you this. I once was a Christian minister. There are many kinds among us, as you may know, or may not. Some say Jesus was God. All say Jesus was God's son, though not all agree on such things as the virgin birth, or things about him you Muslims teach. Regardless of these doctrinal matters, I personally know Christian ministers vary widely in their personal faith; their personal piety; their personal obedience; their degrees of humility or arrogance; their detachment or attachment to money and material things; their capacities to be solely devoted to God, or polluted with self-interest, or even, yes, those who follow them and their teaching.
I believe Muslim imams are like ministers in these things. Not all have mastered their personal jihad, their personal journey to submission in all things to Allah's will. Not all are capable of seeing their own society as imperfect and partial, which means they may be incapable of knowing and applying social jihad as Allah would will. And when it comes to identifying who are their enemies, as with both Christians and Jews, and other religious leaders, there are some who sight is clouded or darkened by their own personal experiences, affecting their capacities to wage military jihad. Is this not true?
Finally, I will close with a statement from Jesus, because I believe this illustrates what I earnestly am trying to say the best I can.
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so every good tree bears good fruit; but the rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit.... The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.Now this is not the Qur'an, I know. But my point is this, in regard to military jihad. To wage war against the enemies of Allah is a most serious thing. For to take the life of one given life by Allah, in the name of Allah and warranted by Allah's command given in the Holy Book, cannot be undone. The life once taken is gone and returned to Allah.
So if a Muslim warrior has not mastered himself, in regard to his or her personal jihad, nor has this warrior been able to apply social jihad as is proper, can anyone trust this warrior, on his or her own, to identify and kill the true enemy of Allah? And if so, then tell me how killing any child, or any woman, or any stranger, none who is known to have harmed any Muslim, or rejected Islam, or attacked the House of Islam, is approved by Allah? Or if you say these things ought not to be, then why, why, do not more Muslims openly rebuke, condemn, and execute false imams for inciting these things, against the Qur'an, against the honorable name of all Muslims, and against Allah?
A Few Historical Notes on U.S. Generals and Military Policies
America has had generals in the past whose will to fight and win were absolute. I will cite three examples from American military history: (1) President Andrew Jackson, on the Native Americans; (2) Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, on his orders to burn Atlanta; and, (3) Gen. Curtis LeMay, of Allied Air Command, his view of firebombing noncombatants in World War II. These are quoted here for several reasons.
- Each of the men quoted killed noncombatants, some in the millions, with a clear conscience.
- These are only a few examples from U.S. history.
- The U.S. "Rules of Engagement" change, depending on the goals for the military.
- From a strictly military point of view, the U.S. has used the same tactics as bin Laden on September 11, 2001: (a) surprise attack; (b) economically important target, e.g., attritional strategy [bin Laden's "bleed-until-bankrupt-plan"]; and, (c) noncombatant deaths and injuries [what we call "collateral damage"].
- Our U.S. Army has killed, when considered a tool of attrition, perhaps millions of noncombatants in our history of wars.
- These quotations are from "mainstream leaders" in U.S. military history, not wild renegades.
- Historical self-knowledge is important, if we are fairly to judge just "how brutal" current enemies are, to prevent false pride. In terms of sheer numbers, the U.S. is the only democratic nation to kill so many noncombatants. But Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong's communist nations killed many tens of millions more in their Communist wars and internal purges than the U.S. ever did.
The Will to Fight and Win Against the Indians
From Thomas Jefferson's confidential letter to Congress in 1803, to Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act twenty-seven years later, extermination, put in the polite terms of those days, was our federal option against the indigenous Indian nations opposing the taking of their lands, resources, and ways of life. I quote the words of President Jackson to Congress.
Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country; and philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising means to avert it. But its progress has never for a minute been arrested; and one by one have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race, and to tread on the graves of extinct nations, excites melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes, as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another. In the monuments and fortresses of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the West, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated, or has disappeared, to make room for the existing savage tribes. Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests, and ranged by a few thousand savages, to our extensive republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise, or industry execute; occupied by more than twelve millions of happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion!
The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change, by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated, or have melted away, to make room the for whites.... Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government towards the red man is not only liberal but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States, and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense at his removal and settlement. [p. x, col. A, pars. 2-3, and col. B, par. 2]Perhaps President Jackson, Indian Fighter, was correct. Without the mercies of the Trail of Tears, the tribes surviving the expatriation and forced march would have been exterminated, or his preferred term, annihilated.
The Will to Fight and Win Against the Confederacy
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman has been called a brutal U.S. general. From a military point of view, his conscience was guided solely by one goal: the swiftest, most complete, unconditional surrender of Confederate forces to restore the Union, and peace under one flag. His cruelty was motivated by no personal animus, as the following letter attests, before he burned Atlanta.
We have his Letter to the Mayor of Atlanta. He had ordered the evacuation of the city to save lives, but not property. The strategy was attrition, to break the enemy's capacity to wage war. The mayor and his delegation appealed that the city not be burned. Sherman would not change his strategy because of the reasons he gave. He was willing to allow people to withdraw, or be burned. Because Sherman has been maligned by the one quote, emboldened by me, I cite this to enable readers to see his entire position.
Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, In the field, Atlanta, Georgia, September 12, 1864.
James M. Calhoun, Mayor E. E. Rawson and S. C. Wells, representing City Council of Atlanta
Gentleman: I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from Atlanta. I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of distress that will be occasioned, and yet shall not revoke my orders, because they were not designed to meet the humanities of the cause, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta have a deep interest. We must have peace, not only at Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war, we must defeat the rebel armies which are arrayed against the laws and Constitution that all must respect and obey. To defeat those armies, we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses, provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose. Now, I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, that we may have many years of military operations from this quarter; and, therefore, deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time. The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes in inconsistent with its character as a home for families. There will be no manufacturers, commerce, or agriculture here, for the maintenance of families, and sooner or later want will compel the inhabitants to go. Why not go now, when all the arrangements are completed for the transfer, instead of waiting till the plunging shot of contending armies will renew the scenes of the past month? Of course, I do not apprehend any such things at this moment, but you do not suppose this army will be here until the war is over. I cannot discuss this subject with you fairly, because I cannot impart to you what we propose to do, but I assert that our military plans make it necessary for the inhabitants to go away, and I can only renew my offer of services to make their exodus in any direction as easy and comfortable as possible.
You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I believe that such is the national feeling. This feeling assumes various shapes, but always comes back to that of Union. Once admit the Union, once more acknowledge the authority of the national Government, and, instead of devoting your houses and streets and roads to the dread uses of war, I and this army become at once your protectors and supporters, shielding you from danger, let it come from what quarter it may. I know that a few individuals cannot resist a torrent of error and passion, such as swept the South into rebellion, but you can point out, so that we may know those who desire a government, and those who insist on war and its desolation.
You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.
We don't want your Negroes, or your horses, or your lands, or any thing you have, but we do want and will have a just obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have, and if it involved the destruction of your improvements, we cannot help it.
You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that live by falsehood and excitement; and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters, the better. I repeat then that, bu the original compact of government, the United States had certain rights in Georgia, which have never been relinquished and never will be; that the South began the war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed, and before the South had one jot or title of provocation. I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands and thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands, and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes to you, you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle. I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect an early success.
But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for any thing. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.
Now you must go, and take with you the old and feeble, feed and nurse them, and build for them, in more quiet places, proper habitations to shield them against the weather until the mad passions of men cool down, and allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes in Atlanta. Yours in haste,
W.T. Sherman, Major-General commanding [William Tecumseh Sherman, Memoirs of General William T. Sherman, vol. 2 (New York, 1875), pages 600-602.]
Lincoln approved Sherman's scorched earth policy; however, when victory was complete, the President famously said in his Second Inaugural Address:
Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained.Lincoln had dreaded war and, prior to the secession of Confederate States, sought legally to stop its spread in the Western territories. Sherman did not want war yet, when it came, used his scorched earth policy. Still, in the case of Atlanta, he offered an exit for noncombatant populations. Once war was nearly over, Lincoln did not play the swaggering victor. He was assassinated before he could engage his version of Reconstruction. What resulted was a second pillage of the South.
Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
The Will to Fight and Win Against the Japanese in WWII
Gen. Curtis LeMay had his own scorched earth policy, but less merciful than that of Gen. Sherman. Perhaps, had his enemies been other Americans and not Japanese, LeMay also would have exercised restrain. Nevertheless, his Allied Air Command dropped Hell's fire from the heavens on civilian populations in Japan. In 67 cities, the fire bombs killed 500,000 men, women, and children,and made 5,000,000 homeless. Speaking later of killing noncombatant Japanese:
Killing Japanese didn't bother me very much at that time... I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal.... Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good soldier.What is most important is that, after half a million Japanese were burned alive and another five million were driven into poverty, their Emperor, generals, and soldiers fought harder. This was one reason, among several, why the atomic bombs were selected as options as soon as they were available. The Japanese were seeking a negotiated, conditional surrender when the two atomic bombs were dropped.
Though President Truman's public statement to the American people indicated he thought the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, August 6, 1945, was a "military target," the city was of marginal military significance. Of the original population of around 350,000, extremely conservative American estimates of the bomb's effects held between 70-80,000 of the people were killed, with about the same number severely injured. Over 90% of the doctors and nurses were killed, so trained medical care was unavailable to casualties.
This first detonation did not lead to the U.S. objective, unconditional surrender and agreement to "thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender" noted on a Japanese language leaflet dropped over Japan. Many in the Japanese military staff did not believe such devastation was anything other than a natural disaster, so they remained resolute to fight, though with great misgivings and uncertainty.
Having been warned by leaflet this time (the first bomb was secret for many reasons, not cruelty), the second bomb was dropped August 9 on Nagasaki which was, indeed, of great military significance as a port and source of materiel. The immediate deaths, again conservatively estimated, were between 40-70,000 immediate dead, and 80,000 by the end of 1945.
Quite frankly, during the earlier drafts of this essay I proposed that the Emperor Hirohito, viewed as an incarnate god by his people, overruled his general military staff in a one-man (or one-god) intervention. Years later, he would claim this in his reflections on the decision, according to Herbert P. Bix, in his book, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan.
I thought by then that it was impossible to continue the war.... The main motive behind my decision at that time was that if we...did not act, the Japanese race would perish and I would be unable to protect my loyal subjects.(515)According to another report, Hirohito was also motivated by the Soviet Union's declaration of war against Japan. Given the Japanese concern to save face at any cost--and much face and hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in the closing days of the war--it was solely through the emperor-god's direct and absolute decision that Hirohito took his delegation on the U.S.S. Missouri and signed an unconditional surrender before Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Gen. LeMay's carpet fire-bombings, which led to the deaths of 500,000 and homelessness of 5,000,000 noncombatant Japanese, did not stop the war. The first atomic bomb did not stop the war. There is a very good possibility the second atomic bomb did not stop the war, since we do not know the complete effects of the Soviet declaration of war on the Emperor's psychological and decision-making condition.
If the emperor-god had not issued his absolute divine will for surrender, then more bombs would have dropped, of whatever type, until there was either no Emperor alive to command, or no generals either. If ever the U.S. faced a foe with an indomitable will before today, it was the Japanese. With their bushido code, and state Shinto religion, when the proud, racist Japanese declared war, it was nothing less than a declaration, to paraphrase Patrick Henry, "Give me victory or give me death!"
In his final 14 August speech of surrender to his still-adoring millions, Hirohito asked them to "imagine the unimaginable." It was unimaginable, even despite the widespread death, dismemberment, starvation, homelessness, and rampant fear throughout the land. Surrender was not in the Japanese mental furniture as something an honorable and true Japanese could do.
Yes, our Allied forces had some Japanese soldiers surrender. But when they did so, they were few in number. When they did surrender, they always were emaciated with hunger and overcome by their conditions to fight any more. They were absolutely devastated by what they had done, once they got American food in their bellies. They had descended and defected from their proud Japanese identity down into the sub-human, bestial condition of their enemies. For that was what the Japanese were taught and believed. Indeed, they were well-matched to fight with the Aryan Nazis.
Application to Our Muslim Enemies
From September 11, 2001, until today and, undoubtedly for as long as the U.S. is at war with Muslim mujahidin, I will compare Japan's indomitable will with what I know of Islam. Both armies have an absolute duty to fight and win, or die. Both the Japanese and our current Muslim enemies have an absolute theocratic principle. For the Japanese, it was their mythological history and their incarnate emperor-god among them. For the Muslims, it is their complete personal, social, and military duty to submit to the will of Allah through jihad, the struggle for submission and conformity.
I cannot adequately express, reader, my complete contempt for either white-collar or red-neck Americans who mock our enemies' will to fight and win. They call them crazy, towel-heads, camel jockeys, and sand niggers. But these armchair quarterbacks are here at home, while someone else's sons and daughters are blown to bits by simple, cheap armaments placed strategically in this guerrilla war, and by every other means.
When we turn to consider America's nine years of war against Muslim warriors engaged in a jihad, which parallels the experience of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, our American strategists now understand our Muslim enemies share a very similar Japanese commitment to victory or death. And though average Americans ridicule our enemies just as they did the Japanese kamikaze pilots who dove into U.S. targets to their deaths, and to an awaiting Japanese paradise, our generals may, or may not, understand precisely the indomitable wills we face, the One Will of the House of Islam.
If an American soldier falls on a grenade to save his unit and dies, he is a patriot. At his funeral, no one doubts but that God will reward him with heaven. But a Muslim soldier straps on a bomb-belt, he or she not only is defending fellow Muslims and his or her religion. The bomb is a one-way ticket to paradise. Yet the Muslim is ridiculed as a fanatic and enemy of democracy. Old Japanese soldiers understand absolute commitment, and they do not ridicule the Muslim mujahidin, for they truly are brothers with similar ideology.
Our living Vietnam veterans also do not mock the steely will of the opponents they faced. Without Chinese help, a military victory perhaps could have been achieved through sheer American firepower. Yet, even if the North Vietnamese had surrendered under such force, their spirit was indomitable. So long as one North Vietnamese freedom fighter (for that is how they saw themselves) lived, and so long as any foreign power was in the land, the Ho's regulars would fight when they next had the chance.
Many Americans still believe, and will believe even after this essay, that Osama bin Laden's military strike on September 11, 2001, was terrorism, and out of the blue in more ways than one.
Yet none of those have taken the time to read anything we have of his in translation. None of those have tallied all the Muslim dead he listed in his narrative of grievances in either of his fatwahs. None of those even know what a fatwah is. They have memorized the endless psycho-babble put forth by two Republican administrations as "God's honest truth."
But most Americans simply and really are not interested in the truth about this war, or any of our wars. They prefer to believe that blind following, despite virtually our nation's entire history of wars and their close correlations with profiteers, is patriotic and good. These sheep deserve to be sheared, their masters of war, cynically conclude. Yet I pour out all my contempt on those who know the truth, yet are silent, as if they themselves are not just as guilty as the Nazis at Nuremberg who bleated, "I was only following orders."
These are those who put on a veneer of patriotism to cover their corporate profiteers. We have them today among us, though throughout the two Bush administrations, anyone who questioned anything they did had their patriotism questions. And there were many Democrats who knew better, who knew the facts, but who went along to get along.
The Will to Fight And Win For Peace
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander of the European theater in World War II. He was there to see off our young boys before Operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion. This good man knew war and its costs in blood and treasure. Yet he was no hawk, eager to subjugate and humiliate his enemies. In this, he also was like Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who brilliantly engineered the post-surrender Constitution of Japan, treated the Japanese with respect, and earned even their love.
So to our long line of Presidents who have cow-towed to the whims of our Middle Eastern sources of petroleum--who surrendered American sovereignty, some for golden handcuffs, and others for less--I quote a man of war who famously warned of the alliances in his own nation, the military-industrial complex in his famous Farewell Speech to the American People. The emboldening is mine.
Good evening, my fellow Americans.
First, I should like to express my gratitude to the radio and television networks for the opportunities they have given me over the years to bring reports and messages to our nation. My special thanks go to them for the opportunity of addressing you this evening.
Three days from now, after half century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor. This evening, I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other -- Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation. My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and finally to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years. In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the nation good, rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling -- on my part -- of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts, America is today the strongest, the most influential, and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches, and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace, to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity, and integrity among peoples and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension, or readiness to sacrifice, would inflict upon us grievous hurt, both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily, the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs, balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages, balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual, balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress. Lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of threat and stress.
But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. Of these, I mention two only.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. Our military organization today bears little relation to that known of any of my predecessors in peacetime, or, indeed, by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.
Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
During the long lane of the history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many fast frustrations -- past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of disarmament -- of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent, I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war, as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years, I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
So, in this, my last good night to you as your President, I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and in peace. I trust in that -- in that -- in that service you find some things worthy. As for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I, my fellow citizens, need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nations' great goals.
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its few spiritual blessings. Those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibility; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; and that the sources -- scourges of poverty, disease, and ignorance will be made [to] disappear from the earth; and that in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.
Eisenhower, a humble yet great and honorable soldier and leader of men, died on March 29, 1969. While he should have gone to his eternal reward, I believe his spirit has been disturbed from his well-earned rest. I believe Eisenhower's ghost has walked solitary these many years, in both the White House and Pentagon, seeking patriots who loved their country more than self-interest, self-promotion, power, and greed.Now, on Friday noon, I am to become a private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it.Thank you, and good night.
If my belief is true, his spirit never can rest so long as the America he loved so well itself is asleep under the hypnotic spell of both the military-industrial complex and its energy-oligarchs who control their ever-swinging pendulum, their propaganda.
What Will Your Legacy Be?