Friday, January 16, 2004

Before We Grow Too Ugly

Reader JW asks, in connection with The March Toward Total War, "how do you think we could have achieved a relatively quick victory before we grow to resemble our enemies?" And the short answer is: by finding the key pressure point. One would have thought that during World War 2, the key vulnerabilities of militaristic Japan and Nazi Germany would have been obvious. But it wasn't. In the first two years of the Pacific War, the USN used all its submarines to chase fleet units of the Imperial Japanese Navy, with poor results. It was not until about mid-1943 that the Admirals figured out that that submarines were better employed attacking Japanese commerce -- that is, the ships which brought fuel, nitrates, food and mineral ores to Japan. The results were dramatic. By late 1944, the IJN could hardly sortie, nor its pilots train from lack of fuel. By 1945, Japan was starving. The carrier task forces were the media stars of the Pacific War, but it was the commerce raiding submarines that won it.

In Europe, the USAAF at first concentrated its bombardment on targets like railway junctions, ball bearings plants, aircraft manufacturing. But Nazi industrial production was hardly affected. It just went up and up. Until one day, some USAAF planner figured out that hitting oil production was the key to stopping the Nazi war machine. In due course, the Nazi armies were immobilized.

What, one might ask, does such ancient history have to do with the Global War on Terror? Everything. To date, we've used our military assets to hit out at Al Qaeda terrorists, safe houses, training camps, etc. just like the USN submarines used to chase Japanese destroyers, carriers and cruisers. One day we will realize that it is the infrastructure of terror we must hit: the madrassas, the Saudi funding, the jihadi websites. The Japanese knew World War 2 was as good as lost when they didn't have enough fuel to train their pilots. Someday, the Islamists will know that the jig is up when they can't pay the rent for their factories of hate, the ones they style religious schools, and can't offer any money for impoverished suicide moms to trade their lives for a few thousand dollars.

One day. But that day isn't here yet. Until then, we will trade eye-gouges, half-nelsons, drop kicks and the wholy panoply of dirty wrassling tactics with Islamists, until, in a moment of clarity, we say what the hell, draw our pistols and shoot them in the nuts. Saudi Arabia delenda est.