Summary: America celebrates today the killing of a foe. Our joy and pride at this show our degradation and (far worse) our inability to learn from experience. This is what losing looks like.
Something very big has just happened!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2019
In year 18 of our bizarrely named “War on Terror”, Americans again rejoice at the assassination of a foe: ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The history of the WOT suggests that the exciting accounts fed us about this event are probably false to a large degree – and that the benefits of this death will prove as small as with all the previous hits. That we do not see this is evidence of our inability to learn from experience, a weakness that can offset the strength of even the greatest power. If the reports are correct (a large assumption) that he killed himself before we could kill him (as we did bin Laden, see here and here), that’s a plus for their side. Brave martyrs are an asset. For more about this, see “Attacking the Leader, Missing the Mark” by Jenna Jordan in International Security, Spring 2014 – “Why Terrorist Groups Survive Decapitation Strikes.”
“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”
— Not said by Einstein. Said by Alcoholics Anonymous, people who know everything about dysfunctionality.
The amazing aspect of this history is that our foes have the good sense not to adopt our mad tactics and assassinate US leaders. We would certainly consider that the act of evil-doers. Just as we condemn “double taps” by our foes – attacking civilians, waiting, then attacking the rescuers – and forget that we also do it. But our aggressive, even belligerent, tactics against others will eventually produce an equivalent response. Eventually, someone will strike back at us, probably with something that makes 9/11 look like a cakewalk.
Now for the bad news: American history of the past century is one of tactics used against overseas foes becomes used against domestic foes, then becomes normalized – routinely used against us. The US seized the money of foreign foes. Then seized the money of organized crime networks. Now police routinely seize the money of people they arrest and release (or even don’t arrest). If that happens with killings, it will not be irony. It will be blowback, aka our just desserts.
We have been killing our foes’ leaders, foreign and domestic, since WWII. It hasn’t helped.
I and others have thoroughly documented this pitiful history. Here are some of the most useful posts in this long series. These posts overflow with warnings by our greatest experts that killing our foes’ leaders does not work, and probably helps our foes. Too bad we do not listen to them.
- Summary of the history, legality, and effectiveness of killing leaders: James Bond is the model for our mad geopolitical strategy.
- Why if fails: Darwin explains the futility of killing insurgents. It makes them more effective.
- Stratfor asks Why al Qaeda survives the assassination of its leaders?
- 14 years of assassinations: Stratfor describes the result.
Other posts about the futility of “decapitation tactics.”
- Don’t listen to the calls for more killing in the WOT.
- Obama + assassination + drones = a dark future for America — by Mark Mazzetti.
- Assassination as Policy in Washington: How It Failed Then and Fails Now — by Andrew Cockburn.
- Should we use our special operations troops as assassins? Is it right, or even smart?
- Another assassination of a jihadist leader. Here’s what comes next.
- Obama’s last gift to America: a global assassination program.
It didn’t work in Vietnam
Kill Anything That Moves:
The Real American War in Vietnam.
By Nick Turse.
These things are more easily and clearly seen in the past than today. Scholars will write similar books about our wars. From the publisher …
“Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by just a few “bad apples.” But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of official orders to “kill anything that moves.”
“Drawing on more than a decade of research into secret Pentagon archives and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time the workings of a military machine that resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded-what one soldier called ‘a My Lai a month.’ Devastating and definitive, Kill Anything That Moves finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts America to this day.”
16 thoughts on “We celebrate the death of a foe. It shows our weakness.”
It is disappointing to see how impervious the US leadership remains to any lessons of experience.
In WW2, the US bombed Japan into near oblivion. I remember seeing a Strategic Bombing Survey done by the USAAF after WW2 which showed that Japanese cities down to the equivalent level of Boise, ID, were destroyed to 70% or better.
In Korea, as well as in Viet Nam, the same held true, only more so. People lived in caves where they could or in fear if they could not. It did not make them love us and eventually we did not achieve our aims.
Why anyone would believe that this obviously defective policy should be continued is a mystery.
Larry, pure, unadulterated BS. This is my last communication as authors like this guy exaggerate and tell out right lies. I guess for 30 years I was deaf, dumb and blind and missed it all. So long.
How nice that you share your feelings. Unfortunately your comment gives readers no idea to what you are objecting. Saying that there are “lies” but not listing them is, to put it mildly, odd.
“I guess for 30 years I was deaf, dumb and blind and missed it all.”
Yes, from your comment that seems likely.
Bummer article on this day, after last nights happenings. Perhaps the end is in sight, 18 years of this and counting. I doubt we will ever be out fully, but we’re heading in the right direction.
Question; Who gets the $25M for the biggest fish?
“we’re heading in the right direction.”
Perhaps. But the fires we set are still burning brightly, with no sides of dying down.
One has to play the hand dealt to them or fold. Lindsey Graham explains our direction while eating crow; https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=XHfMxUiKm9A&fbclid=IwAR1o6nXg0LKyg_Xp6UY146QyRGVco5CaxfL4Cq8cpgDD9_LXoOeNL2ZLknk
Life is too short to watch a video of Lindsey Graham.
Got it. Never Trumpers are hard to reach, if not impossible.
Another thought. Even RINO Mitt had to admit Trump played a good hand. That Schiff and other leakers had no idea what was going on makes it that much better.
I think I get where Douglas is coming from and it has a long tradition. In the 30’s you would have been labeled isolationist. In the 50’s you would have been labeled fellow-traveler, commie, pinko and you wouldn’t be able to get a job unless you signed a loyalty to all wars oath. In the 60’s they would have added long-haired-hippy-fag. In the 70’s –McGovern-nik radical. In the 80’s you would have been accused of wishing for the Sandinistas to invade Texas. In the 90’s — a Pat Buchananite anti-semite. In the 2000’s, a cheese-eating surrender-monkey. Today it’s Agent of Putin.
In days of yore, when I was predicting that our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan would end badly, there were thousands of posts by people like Douglas sputtering in rage that anyone would doubt the certain victory of our forces. No matter how much data was given, no matter the logic – they reacted with mindless indignation.
And here we are in 2018. Kicked out of Iraq (those billion-dollar “enduring bases” windswept ruins), with the nation still wracked with disruption. Afghanistan the 18th year of a civil war, whose destruction more than offsets any likely benefit of our invasion and occupation.
The only thing remaining constant is that the Douglas-types are still here, still wrong and confident, living in their imaginary world.
I fared about the same when I stated to friends that it would be nice if we protested the invasion based on the unlikely probability of actual WMD’s. Thought what I said was treasonous.
Today on NPR, ME expert from CNN stated on the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that we should not be too hopeful his death made a difference because “You can a kill person but not an idea” by assination.
“Thought what I said was treasonous.”
I too got a lot of that. Both Left and Right consider disagreement with them to be – not legitimate, or even wrong – but evil.
“ME expert from CNN stated on the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that we should not be too hopeful his death made a differenc”
Experts have been saying that for 18 years, as I document in the posts listed above. Not too many are listening – or learning from the repeated failure of our decapitation strikes.
Hoo-Ah!!! Another American victory for the sake of Israeli interests. Hoo-Ah!!!!
Wake me when Canada invades. Mexico is invading now and we’re doing F^Ck all about it. Hoo-Ah!!!
“That, my friends, is the sound of FREEDOM!!!” (for Israel)
Plus oil and the WMD’s that were never found.
Well said, FM. The Milpub (composed of very smart ex-US military people from all services) agrees with your assessment. Some even go further.