The Campus Commandos

If we could put Ralph Peters in charge…

An excerpt from today’s column:

…The Army hasn’t fielded a four-star with the breadth of vision to wage war at the strategic level and the killer instinct to win on the battlefield since Gen. Barry McCaffrey retired a dozen years ago.

As the generals who led infantry platoons and companies in Vietnam fade from the ranks, we face an incongruous situation in which our lieutenants, captains and majors are combat veterans, while the generals above them never fought in a direct-fire engagement or led daily patrols through Indian country.

Junior officers now have a better grasp of what war means than Army generals do. Platoon leaders want to win. The generals want to make people happy.

For two generations, we’ve trained military leaders to be statesmen in uniform, downplaying pugnacity and guts. We sent promising officers for Ivy League doctorates (thereby cutting off at least one of their . . . um . . . eggs), stressed political assignments, and inducted them into the Washington-insider cult of Salvation Through Negotiations.

Now we have bobble-head generals who nod along with the diplomats who want to hold their Versailles Conference before winning the war.

It’s past time for our senior leaders to jettison the political correctness and fight to win. But they honestly don’t know how anymore. They’ve been so thoroughly drugged with failed academic theories about counterinsurgency-with-lollipops that they’re more concerned with avoiding embarrassments than with killing the enemy.

The bitter truth is that, in the type of conflicts we now face, we must be willing to fight as ruthlessly and savagely as our opponents. We have to play by their moral rules. Stay-at-homes who never served will howl in indignation, but the alternative is defeat.

And is it ever more virtuous to lose to fanatics with apocalyptic visions than to win?

The standard response from the campus commandos is that, if we descend to the level of our enemy’s behavior, we’ll become as bad as them. That’s crap. In World War II, we didn’t exactly coddle the residents of Hamburg and Dresden, Tokyo and Hiroshima.

American soldiers can do what must be done without losing their virtues as citizens (most critics don’t even know any soldiers personally).

The greater dangers may be that we’ve already sacrificed what hope there was for Iraq by waging war to please CNN and the pundits, and that we just don’t have the numbers to make the surge work now.

We should all pray that this last-ditch effort succeeds. But we’re paying for a decade-and-a-half of gutting our armed forces and sacrificing troop strength to pour money into the pockets of unscrupulous – and well-connected – defense contractors. Now soldiers die in sewage-flooded alleys while the billion-dollar bombers sit and rot.

And we’re paying for ending the draft – not because the military wants it (it doesn’t), but because we now have two generations of political leaders who don’t have a clue what it takes to win a war. Not only haven’t they served in uniform, they disdain those who enlist. (Think many soldiers get $400 haircuts like John Edwards?)

A related column by Diana West.

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