From the New York Times, 12/28/2014:
Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, commander of American Special Operations forces in the Middle East, sought help this summer in solving an urgent problem for the American military: What makes the Islamic State so dangerous?
Trying to decipher this complex enemy — a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army — is such a conundrum that General Nagata assembled an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration. Business professors, for example, are examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies.
“We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it,” he said, according to the confidential minutes of a conference call he held with the experts. “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”
Stacy McCain has a better idea. It’s not the business of generals to understand what motivates the enemy unless it’s necessary to defeat him, which it seldom is. The only thing generals need to know is that the enemy wants to kill as many of us as possible, and the only way to prevent that is to kill more of them.
The side of the North in the American Civil War initially suffered several defeats because General George McClellan never missed an opportunity to avoid a confrontation with the Southern Rebels. This so frustrated Lincoln that he said, “If General McClellan is not going to use the Army of the Potomac, I’d like to borrow it.” Later when Lincoln finally got Ulysses Grant, a general who understood what was necessary to win a war, Lincoln was informed that Grant was a drunkard. Lincoln’s response was that we should find out what he is drinking and give lots of it to the other generals. No matter Grant’s personal foibles, Lincoln’s reply to every entreaty to get rid of him was, “I can’t. I need him. He fights.”
The way to defeat ISIS is straightforward. General Nagata is the modern equivalent of George McClellan. He’s in a dither trying to “understand the idea” behind ISIS. As Stacy McCain says, we must instead make ISIS understand our idea by killing the sons of bitches until there aren’t any left to kill.
He’s right. Kill them first, then when enough of them have gone to meet those 72 virgins in the sky, you can indulge yourself in trying to understand them over a few beers.
Unfortunately, we need not only to replace General Michael Nagata with generals like Ulysses Grant, W.T., Sherman, George Patton, or the South’s Stonewall Jackson. We need to replace his commander in chief as well.