This week, the madness of the counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN), which drives the war in Afghanistan, reached new heights -- or depths -- as revealed by two news stories.
In Great Britain, a former Royal Marine told the Sun newspaper after the inquest into the 2010 death of Sgt. Peter Rayner that soldiers were prevented from opening fire at Taliban fighters in the act of laying IEDs (crude, handmade bombs), so as not to disturb the local population.
So as not to disturb?
In Iowa, a community mourns the death of National Guard soldier Terry L. Pasker, who, along with contractor Paul Protzenko, was killed last week in yet another attack by an Afghan army soldier. DesMoinesRegister.com reports: "The U.S. military considered the area so safe that soldiers didn't wear body armor, so as not to offend the friendly locals."
So as not to offend?
Fear of offending has long been a salient feature of our culture. It's become an expression of a self-deprecating, if not self-loathing, society where the "dead white males" who brought us "Hamlet," the Constitution and the light bulb have become embarrassments for non-Western religion, the very lack of which is deemed offensive.
Since 9/11, however, this psychosis has had a new application -- the ultimate point of my book "The Death of the Grown-Up" (St. Martin's Press, 2007). In today's war zone, fear of giving offense is fatal, as noted above. But it also applies as the foundational precept of "dhimmitude," the twisted state of non-Muslims in thrall to Islam, a condition long observed and documented by the visionary historian Bat Ye'or.
The fear of giving Muslims offense is the most profound acquiescence to Islamic cultural pressures because it is driven, at base, by a conviction that self-preservation as a non-Muslim is itself offensive in a Muslim society. The fact is, Muslim societies across time and continents have forced non-Muslims to pay a tax, the jizya, to remain non-Muslims and have inflicted all manner of humiliations, physical and mental, upon them as a matter of Islamic law, or Shariah, for doing so. Where Islamic law is not officially in effect, Bat Ye'or explains, the de facto state of dhimmitude may still arise and flourish in the habitual appeasement of Islamic sensibilities to forestall the occasional violent eruption or attempt -- the odd 9/11, 7/7 or thwarted Times Square bombing. The net effect of all this appeasement, this dhimmitude, is the creeping -- galloping -- incursions of Islamic law into non-Islamic institutions and societies.
In Afghanistan, the same triggers are in place. We have an infidel army walking on eggs to placate, cajole and bribe an Islamic society into supporting what are, any way you cut them, infidel values and interests against those of the indigenous Islamic jihadist groups. To this end, Western military authorities now specifically ordain that the Quran must be revered (or else violence might ensue). They, in effect, require that Islamic customs on polygamy, on the sexual abuse of children, be tolerated (or else violence might ensue). The Danish cartoons, the Rev. Terry Jones, freedom of speech must be denounced by the highest Western military officials (or else violence might ensue). These capitulations on bedrock Western traditions of speech, conscience and human rights could occur only under a debased leadership, military and civilian.
When the fear of giving offense to the local Islamic community (by shooting Taliban or wearing body armor) trumps self-preservation (by shooting Taliban or wearing body armor), we know the military's dhimmitude is complete.
What I am describing, of course, is the execution of COIN doctrine to win Afghan "trust," also known as "hearts and minds." As Brig. Gen. Steven Kwast put it in 2009: "Victory in this conflict is about winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people and engendering their trust. When the Afghan people trust us and believe us when we tell them what we're going to do, we will win this overnight."
Tell it to the Easter Bunny. Meanwhile, our troops pay the price and our military is dhimmified. Taking off troops' body armor so as not to offend friendly Afghans?
Are they kidding?