Monday, February 28, 2011

About That Old Conventional Wisdom

Remember how anti-war types would say that use of force against terrorists is counter-productive because it just produces more terrorists? Yeah, I remember it, too. I've always argued that only ineffective use of force encourages terrorists. Retaliate by launching cruise missiles at some goats and tents and you're darned straight it will encourage terrorists.

But hunt them down and kill or arrest them over a long period of time? Well, that gets discouraging for the terrorists. We've already seen that we can in fact discourage terrorists in Iraq by kicking their asses. Now it is the Taliban's turn:

The Taliban are increasingly desperate to decrease the pressure on them from U.S. and NATO troops. In particular, the campaign against the Taliban leadership (the guys who command a few hundred men in part of a province or city), is causing major morale problems. Not just among the field commanders, but also among the rank-and-file Taliban. These guys are increasingly disillusioned with Taliban tactics that often stress killing terror tactics against civilians. The Taliban gunmen are often believers in the Taliban idea of a religious dictatorship eliminating corruption and bringing peace and prosperity to the countryside. But this is not what the Taliban is actually doing, even in areas where they have a lot of control. As a result, recruiting is more difficult (even with the offer of higher pay), and desertions are increasing.

Of course, the big shots in Pakistan still want to give it the good ol' jihadi try, so once again, we expect a Taliban "spring offensive." Mind you, these don't seem to pan out--except if you count our own offensives in the spring. But jihadi hope spring eternal:

This year the spring offensive by the Taliban and other insurgent groups has a new and terrifying face: the insurgents are using suicide bombers who create high casualties to sow terror and are planning an assassination campaign as well, Afghan and American military analysts say.

In the past, sowing terror amongst civilians rather than taking on security forces has proven to be an example of ineffective force that just angers civilians and strengthens their resolve to work with us. It is one thing to terrorize civilians and police who have no hope of fighting back. It is another altogether when the targets of terror have US and coalition forces and even increasingly capable Afghan forces nearby capable of dishing out a world of hurt on the would-be terrorizers.

But the terrorists have few options. Terrorism will work this time for sure, right? But we are adjusting to face them once again:

The U.S. military will start carrying out more counterterrorism missions against insurgents in eastern Afghanistan and work more closely with Pakistani forces in operations against insurgents along the porous and rugged frontier, the U.S. general commanding the region said.

The east isn't yet our main effort while we work on the southern Taliban strongholds, but progress in the south means that a shift to the east is in sight. Adjusting in the east to prepare that battle space has already begun and we are continuing to prepare for an influx of troops shifted there.

Remember, war is organized violence. Force is ineffective when it has no real strategy behind it. That is just violence and better described as a spasm of violence rather than a use of force. Lately, our enemies have been far more guilty of pointless violence. As long as we respond by continuing to wage a war, we'll beat these SOBs.

UPDATE: Thanks to The Unreligious Right for the link.