There’s something to be said of General Sherman’s “scorched earth” war policy, he left the ground as miserable as the people who waged war against the Union. President Lincoln approved of General US Grant as his commander of all Union forces during the latter years of the Civil War for a certain reason, and in turn, Grant approved of General Willian Tecumseh Sherman, as his commander of US forces that marched into the deep South, for the same reason as well, bringing home the war to the very people that started it, and supported it.
This has been a theme in many op-eds and articles on the subject of the Arabs’ conflict with Israel, the need for the Jewish state to bring home victory once and for all. It means for the Arabs to feel totally defeated, unwilling to hold out for yet even more punishment. Israel had it almost won after the 67′ war, but due to outside interference, the Jews have never been able to deal the crushing blow.
For you see, the Jewish state has even more enemies outside the boundries of the Middle East, it also has to deal with the antisemitic morons of Europe and an increasing number within the United States. I can see no greater example of the double standard, than how the world stood still and watched the Sri lanka military make hash of the remainder of the Tamil resistence on its northern shores, meaning men women and children, the old and the young.
Israel tries its hardest to avoid casualties in a war not of its choosing, and the UN fields a fact finding commission to the region the minute the hostilities end, with the predictable biased report waiting to be distributed to the world. Sri lanka however, is another story, there were no Jews involved in the fight so the UN could care less. Read what Barry Rubin has to say, and if you agree with him, fine, let the TT know in the comment box. If you don’t agree, fine, leave your comment as well. KGS
Defining “Victory” and “Peace”: How the U.S. and Israel Reject General Sherman’s Solution and Get Blamed Anyway
By Barry Rubin
“War,” said General William Tecumseh Sherman, “is Hell.” He knew what he was talking about. Sherman’s march through Georgia and into South Carolina at the end of the Civil War helped end the Civil War while destroying a lot of civilian homes, farms, and towns.
His strategy was to inflict such terrible punishment on the South that it would surrender faster, thus saving lives. His men did things shocking to Americans even after such a bloody conflict, burning plantations and destroying everything in their wake. Ironically, though, even Sherman’s deeds have been exaggerated.
But Sherman was no mere brute. He was so depressed by the prospect of the Civil War-being among the few who understood how long and bloody it would be-that he had a nervous breakdown at its onset and tried to escape the responsibility of service that he ultimately knew would be impossible for him to avoid. Like other Western generals of his time, and almost up to the present day–but no longer–he simply believed, in his words, “I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early [that is, complete and quick] success.”
After the war, Sherman became commander of the U.S. army and about 1870, regarding the Franco-Prussian War but it applies generally:
How are wars won? The preferred way is for one side to see that its own victory is impossible and that it will face much heavier costs by continuing than by surrendering or making peace. By making a deal sooner, the side that’s losing often reasons that it can get better terms.
What do you do, though, if the other side isn’t going to give up? Here’s what Sherman said about the French-German conflict but which also applies to America’s Civil War and many other conflicts as well:
“The proper strategy consists in inflicting as telling blows as possible on the enemy’s army, and then in using the inhabitants so much suffering that they must long for peace, and force the government to demand it. The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.”
That’s pretty terrible. Remember, though, that Sherman did say war was Hell. When it became clear that Japan was not going to surrender in World War Two, requiring a full-scale U.S. invasion of that country’s homeland that would have left millions dead, President Harry Truman dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. He was right to do so. The results were horrendous, heart-breaking. Yet if Truman had not taken that tough decision far more Japanese and Americans would be dead. The damage to Japan would have been so great that the country would not have recovered, if at all, until many decades passed.
Consider Sherman’s analysis in a contemporary context. Western democracies, including the United States and Israel, have no desire to pursue such a strategy. If the governments did, the democratic institutions and public opinion would never stand for it. This creates a paradox: if the other side doesn’t surrender, victory is impossible because that other side will not be crushed or so credibly threatened with destruction that its leaders will give in.
This is one side-the other is the nature and ideology of the enemies themselves-of asymmetric warfare. By refusing to surrender, by offering up their own civilians as casualties, by courting massive destruction, by keeping the battle going and inflicting casualties on the democratic combatants, the weaker side hopes to win. True, the radicals believe that their ideology and determination makes them stronger but there’s one more factor: they count on the squeamishness of their would-be victims as being too soft, in effect too democratic.
The radicals using asymmetric warfare are wrong in thinking they can win but they are right in thinking they can’t lose. The battle goes on as long as they choose, even if the democratic side doesn’t give up. And sometimes it does, or at least they can still hope that it will and use that hope to inspire more sacrifice from its own people.
Consider Israel in this context. The above explains why Israel can never “win” the conflict with the Palestinians or with the neighboring Arabs or Muslims for that matter. “Win” here means to gain such a triumph that the conflict will come to an end. But Israel can “win” by reducing the cost of the conflict to itself, going on with its national life, and reducing conflict to a minimum in terms of disruptions and casualties.
Equally, the radicals can gain international sympathy and criticisms of Israel but that will never bring them actual victory, only allow them to extend the conflict indefinitely. And so, there is no peace but Israel remains the closest thing to a winner, as long as it is willing to pay a certain price, while trying to reduce that price to the lowest possible level.
I am not advocating a Sherman-like policy. No one in any position of power in Israel is doing so or has ever really done so. Aside from the moral issue, the effect on Israel’s own society, and the impact on its international standing, such a step simply isn’t necessary.
Compare the Israeli view to that of the creator and commander of the German army, not in World War Two under the Nazis, not even in World War One, but in the 1870 Franco-Prussian war. The Germans had won but the French were waging war for a time through guerrilla forces.
General Moltke ordered all French guerrillas to be shot and anyone helping them be severely punished. “Experience has established that the most effective way of dealing with this situation is to destroy the premises concerned-or, where participation has been more general, the entire village….”