Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Forgot Western Absolute Values Such as Victory

The headline for this article from the National Post is provocative: Afghanistan victory unlikely, says DND manual.
"It is unlikely that the conflict will be suddenly ended with a major military victory against the insurgents, who will rarely offer the opportunity for decisive military engagement and are typically organized into small clandestine cells," the document says.

The manual itself, used for as a guide for fighting the insurgency, is a symptom of how fuzzy headed this mission has become:
Though the manual urges troops to reject Western absolute values, uses postmodern words such as "meme" and "heuristic," and likens insurgencies to communicable diseases, such approaches are commonly advocated in defence circles, said Prof. Hoffman, a former advisor to U. S. Army Chief of Staff George Casey when he was commanding general in Iraq.


Like its U. S. counterpart, Counter-insurgency Operations takes issue with the conventional notions of the victors and the vanquished. "Military forces do not defeat insurgencies; instead they create the security conditions necessary for the political resolution of the conflict," it says.

Prof. Hoffman noted the manual's insistence on understanding the enemy's "narrative" might be its biggest accomplishment. Defined as a plausible story that illustrates real or perceived injustices and grievances, the narrative could also be described as an uprising's founding cause.

The reason why we have terms such as victory is because that is the ultimate measurement of success for the mission. Victory means you have aims, and you have fulfill them, even if through the ugly means of battle. You can't throw that out the window. They are saying, essentially: "Just hang out over there, get to know them, forget about this abstract concept of winning." They're trying to turn war into a touchy/feely kids t-ball league where parents think it will hurt the kids' self-esteem if they keep score.

Madness. Decadence. Muddleheadedness. Anti-rational thinking. They're taking postmodernism out of a post-grad poetry thesis and putting it on the battlefield.

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