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The Fruits of McChrystal’s PC War: Our Enemies are Laughing at Us

Posted on July 1 2010 9:00 am
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General McChrystal’s Rules of Engagement (ROE) for fighting the war in Afghanistan are predicated on the notion that collateral damage resulting in the deaths of civilians creates more insurgents.  McCrystal thought that protecting civilians was actually more effective than large combat operations.  He wrote:

Destroying a home or property jeopardizes the livelihood of an entire family — and creates more insurgents.  We sow the seeds of our own demise.

In other words, poverty breeds terror.  This is a myth, perpetuated by the well-intentioned and ill-informed.  But it is a very seductive myth, reducing the unfathomably complex fabric of human existence to mere economics.  This is the essence of communism; namely, that the source of all human misery can be traced to a maldistribution of wealth.  Thus, poverty causes crimeteen pregnancy, high school dropout rates, drug abuse, child abuse, and so on.

But General McChrystal is not a communist.  He is a liberal.

Even more about McChrystal: now it can be told. The story about him voting for Obama is not contrived. He is a political liberal. He is a social liberal. He banned Fox News from the television sets in his headquarters. Yes, really.

To a military liberal like McChrystal, restrictive ROE constitute the politically correct way to run a war.  If you believe that collateral damage creates more insurgents, then the logical thing to do is create as little collateral damage as possible.  In other words, drop fewer bombs.  According to USA Today, NATO fixed-wing aircraft dropped 1,211 bombs and other munitions last summer compared with 2,366 during the same period the previous year.

These ROE are good for civilians, but also serve to protect the insurgents who hide among them.  This is not so good for our troops, who wind up being targeted:

Returning from a mission, [a noncommissioned officer’s] unit took casualties from an improvised explosive device that the unit knew had been placed no more than an hour earlier. “There were villagers laughing at the U.S. casualties” and “two suspicious individuals were seen fleeing the scene and entering a home.” U.S. forces “are no longer allowed to search homes without Afghan National Security Forces personnel present.” But when his unit asked Afghan police to search the house, the police refused on the grounds that the people in the house “are good people.”

Restrictive ROE make it much more difficult to get permission to drop a smart bomb when there might be civilians nearby.  Inevitably, our soldiers suffer and die as a result, victims of a politically correct ethos based, at least in part, on the myth that poverty breeds terror.  No wonder they’re laughing at us.

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