Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Best Defense . . .

. . . is a good offense. That's the lesson of World War I, when the entry of the United States into the war enabled the allies to go on the offensive. That's the lesson of World War II, when the United States mobilized so massively that

  • we put Japan on the defensive by winning the Battle of Midway in June 1942, only six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • we sealed Germany's doom in the spring of 1943 by turning the tide in the Second Battle of the Atlantic, thus ensuring that U.S. forces could mass for an invasion of Europe.

The lesson for World War IV (counting the Cold War as World War III) -- which I led up to but did not spell out in "Reaching the Limit?" -- is the same: The best defense is a good offense. But we have been mainly on the defensive since 9/11. We need not be on the defensive; we should not be on the defensive. Our ability to prosecute the war on terror should not be judged by what is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even though there are not enough boots on the ground in those theatres of operation, we nevertheless possess massive amounts of military power -- and potential military power -- which, if brought into play, would turn the tide of the war abroad and lead to renewed support for it at home and amongst most of our allies.

Yes, there would be vocal opposition to massive, decisive, military action, but the president has the authority for such action in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force of September 18, 2001. And the sooner he exerts that authority, the sooner the silent majority of Americans can rally behind the war effort, the sooner Congress can vote the necessary increases in defense spending, and the sooner the war can be prosecuted as it should be prosecuted.

The war on terror should be guided by three strategic objectives: searching out and destroying or capturing terrorists until they are truly a "law enforcement" problem, neutralizing the state sponsors of terrorism, and securing the oil reserves of the Middle East against terrorism and economic extortion. I believe that those objectives can be met within five to ten years by:

  • mobilizing on a scale at least equal to that of World War II (That level of mobilization would require a doubling of our present level of defense spending, which would consume GDP at a rate only one-sixth that of our defense spending in World War II. See the second figure, here.)
  • vigorous, uninhibited surveillance of electronic communications overseas, between the U.S. and foreign countries, and within the U.S. (Intercepts of the last type of communication should follow guidelines approved by Congress, but those guidelines must not restrict warrantless surveillance to a period following a terrorist attack.)
  • clandestine operations ranging from the infiltration of terrorist cells to close monitoring of financial transactions to small-scale search and destroy (or capture) missions (without geographic limit)
  • military operations against terrorists, their bases, and their sources of supply (Such operations may be encounters of opportunity or sustained campaigns, as circumstances warrant. A corollary is the abandonment of nation-building exercises that tie down significant numbers of military forces.)
  • aggressive interrogation of captured terrorists and enemy combatants, under rules that require approval from higher authority (Approval would be required only to ensure that a particular course of interrogation is commensurate with the information being sought and that the person being interrogated likely has that information.)
  • military retaliation and/or economic sanctions against regimes that overtly or covertly interfere with our surveillance, clandestine operations, and military operations
  • the swift and uncompromising prosecution of persons and organizations that divulge and publish information about war plans and covert programs or operations.

The alternative -- if we continue to allow the enemy to take the initiative -- is an endless and ultimately futile two-front war. On one front, of course, are terrorists and those who sponsor and support them. On the other front are those of the Left and Right whose counsel, if heeded, would enable terrorists and their state sponsors to slowly grind down our resolve and (even more likely) the resolve of other Western nations. Eventually, we would be held hostage within our own borders -- isolated, poorer, and living lives of anxiety.

World opinion might (and probably would) turn strongly against us initially. But as our resolve is met with success, we will capture the hearts and minds of those whose hearts and minds we ought to care about.

We cannot go on as we are. Perhaps the best time of our life as a nation was when we basked in the glow of total victory following World War II. We can bask in that same glow again, if we put our resolve and our resources to it.

Related links:
A Top-Ten List on Jihad That's Way Too Long and Quite Possibly Too Dour
Who's Going to Win?
World War IV As Fourth-Generation Warfare
An Antidote to the Western Way of War?
The New Juristocracy
You Have the Right to Remain Silent . . .
Americans Should Not Die for Article 3, Geneva Conventions
The Fallacy of Reciprocity
How the Geneva Convention Protects Western Troops
"For McCain It's Personal" (in Best of the Web)
Suicidal Hand-Wringing
The Religion of Peace Firebombs & Fatwas
Ahmadinejad's Apologists
Our Covert Enemies
Know Your Enemy
The Pope and Kissinger Warn the World

Related posts:
9/11 and Pearl Harbor
A Colloquy on War and Terrorism
Vietnam and Iraq as Metaphors
Getting It Wrong: Civil Libertarians and the War on Terror (A Case Study)
Libertarianism and Preemptive War: Part I
Why Sovereignty?
Shall We All Hang Separately?
Foxhole Rats
Treasonous Speech?
Foxhole Rats, Redux
Know Thine Enemy
The Faces of Appeasement
Libertarianism and Preemptive War: Part II
Torture and Morality
Whose Liberties Are We Fighting For?
The Constitution and Warrantless "Eavesdropping"
NSA "Eavesdropping": The Last Word (from Me)
Privacy, Security, and Electronic Surveillance
Privacy: Variations on the Theme of Liberty
Words for the Unwise
Recommended Reading about NSA's Surveillance Program
Riots, Culture, and the Final Showdown
A Rant about Torture
More Foxhole Rats
Moussaoui and "White Guilt"
The New York Times: A Hot-Bed of Post-Americanism
Post-Americans and Their Progeny
American Royalty
"Peace for Our Time"
Anti-Bush or Pro-Treason?
Com-Patriotism and Anti-Patriotic Acts
Parsing Peace
The Problem of Good vs. Evil
A Message to Our Domestic Enemies
Taking on Torture
Conspiracy Theorists' Cousins
Not Enough Boots
Defense as the Ultimate Social Service
I Have an Idea
The Price of Liberty
September 11: Five Years On
How to View Defense Spending
Losing Sight of the Objective
Reaching the Limit?