The killing of Major General Harold Greene in Afghanistan is a tragic reminder of the type of warfare we are dealing with; warfare that we have not fully grasped.
It is sad that it takes the killing of an American general to focus on our strategy in this worldwide conflict. Our soldiers were dying in Afghanistan and elsewhere before General Greene was killed and sadly will continue to die after our latest, and highest ranking, fallen hero.
We are in a guerilla war with an enemy fueled by religion; an ideology which makes the most fanatical of soldiers. Germany in World War II was not led by their God but rather by anti-Semitic paganism that was designed primarily to conquer the world in order to get rid of the Jews. The Church was to be “taken care of” after the war and had no long term place in the Thousand Year Reich. Japan was a different story; they fought for their Emperor god which explains the tenacity of their soldiers.
President Bush in his speech to the Congress shortly after the September 11 attacks said that we would be dealing with a new type of warfare; seemingly new for the United States that is. President Bush said,
“Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success….
It is my hope that in the months and years ahead life will return almost to normal. We'll go back to our lives and routines and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass.”
This global war is a religious-guerilla war. Guerilla warfare has been a part of human history for a long time. Americans have seen their fair share of this warfare. We saw it in Vietnam and also in World War II when Germans went behind U.S. lines, wearing American uniforms, at the Battle of the Bulge. We also saw it in our Revolutionary War, when we practiced guerilla warfare against the British.
Guerilla war, combined with religious fever, is a deadly type of warfare in that the resolve of the enemy can seemingly be almost infinite. The practitioners of such warfare count on free, and more prosperous, societies losing heart or losing interest in their war. They count on the prosperity of the capitalist societies to distract the people while the horror of such war tugs at their hearts.
Guerilla war is not only deadly but ugly. It wears on the emotions to see severed heads of our soldiers. It wears on the emotions to see civilians killed, because the enemy hides behind them. Guerilla war presents the worst of dilemmas for those who are fighting it too.
Afghanistan is not ready for Western democracy, but it is one of the places where we publicly acknowledge the terrorists to be at. This is a war, because of its religious nature, that is fought by not only the armed forces but by every citizen in ever y nation, whether they know it or believe it. Everything from the overseas oil we consume, to the drugs that some buy that finance terrorism, the values our media portrays, and our religious beliefs are fronts in this war.
Defense Intelligence Agency Chief Michael Flynn, another distinguished American general, summed it up recently when discussing if there would be peace in the Middle East. “Not in my lifetime,” he said. This could also apply to other fronts of the continuing Global War on Terrorism.
Human instinct may be to run away from this type of warfare but we cannot run away. We also cannot leave the Afghan people as we left them in the 1980’s. If we leave Afghanistan, and the war, we will breathe easier but only for a short time. As was said in the film Charlie Wilson’s War, the “ball just keeps on bouncing.” We are committed to Afghanistan and the other fronts in this war. Even if we retreated from those commitments the enemy would still come after us, for the enemies of Judeo-Christian civilization will not stop no matter what we do.
We cannot run from the ideology against us but must face it head on with truth. We have to get it right and we cannot lose our resolve so that no service member, from the newest private to General Harold Greene, shall have died in vain.
*Views expressed in this article are those of the author and not any government agency.