‘ISIS Delenda Est’—What the Romans Knew About Winning a War

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Breitbart, by James P. Pinkerton, Nov. 21, 2015:

I. The Roman Way

In writing about the Paris massacre in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan was blunt:

These primitive, ferocious young men will not stop until we stop them.  The question is how.  That’s the only discussion.

Okay, let’s take up Noonan’s challenge: How do we stop ISIS? Once and for all?

Let’s stipulate that President Obama, who has been waging a phony war against ISIS for over a year, is not the man for the job.  And let’s stipulate, also, that Islam is not “peace,” as George W. Bush so famously suggested back in 2001.

Islam is something different. Not all Muslims are terrorists, not by a long shot, but in its current form, Islam provides safe harbor for way-y-y too many Salafi jihadists, aka, terrorists.  Here at Breitbart, Pamela Geller provides a handy itemization; her list of Islamic terrorist groups runs a full 27 lines.

As the late Samuel Huntington wrote in his landmark 1998 book, The Clash of Civilizationsa work approvingly cited by Sen. Marco Rubio earlier this month—Islam has “bloody borders.”

History tells us that no attitude is permanent.  Yet for now, extremist elements within Muslim societies make it impossible for many Muslim states to get along with their neighbors, either near, in Eurasia, or far, in America.

So what should we do in the face of a relentless, and remorseless, enemy?  The Roman Empire had a good answer.  Yes, 2,000 years before Ronald Reagan summed up his Cold War strategy as, “We win, they lose,” the Romans had the same idea.

Rome’s dogged determination to prevail is perhaps best exemplified by its long struggle against the rival empire of Carthage, in what’s now Tunisia.

The Rome-Carthage conflict—the so-called Punic Wars, of which there were three—raged all over the Mediterranean littoral and lasted, on land and sea, for over a century, from 264 BC to 146 BC.  Interestingly, the single best general on either side was the Carthaginian, Hannibal.  His smashing pincer-movement victory over the Romans atCannae in 216 BC is still studied at West Point and other military academies.

And yet the Romans were more organized and resourceful, as well as determined, and, over time, those qualities gave them the edge. For literally decades, the Roman senator Cato the Elder closed every speech to his colleagues with the ringing words, Carthago delenda est—“Carthage must be destroyed.”  And yet Cato, who died in 149 BC, didn’t actually live to see the final victory, which came three years later, when the Roman legionnaires besieged and and conquered the city of Carthage itself.

Appian of Alexandria described the final victory in his Historia Romana, written in the second century AD.  Here’s Appian describing Rome’s final military operations against Carthage; as we can see, under the leadership of General Scipio Africanus, the Roman legionarii were not nice:

Now Scipio hastened to the attack [on] the strongest part of the city, where the greater part of the inhabitants had taken refuge… All places were filled with groans, shrieks, shouts, and every kind of agony. Some were stabbed, others were hurled alive from the roofs to the pavement, some of them alighting on the heads of spears or other pointed weapons, or swords. . . . Then came new scenes of horror.  As the fire spread and carried everything down, the soldiers did not wait to destroy the buildings little by little, but all in a heap. So the crashing grew louder, and many corpses fell with the stones into the midst.  Others were seen still living, especially old men, women, and young children who had hidden in the inmost nooks of the houses, some of them wounded, some more or less burned, and uttering piteous cries.  Still others, thrust out and falling from such a height with the stones, timbers, and fire, were torn asunder in all shapes of horror, crushed and mangled.

You get the idea. Tough stuff, to be sure, but after Scipio’s triumph, Carthage was never again a problem for Rome.  In fact, the Romans not only razed the city but, for good measure, plowed the ground with salt to make sure that nothing would ever grow there.

The Roman historian Tacitus quoted a barbarian enemy to make an approving point about the Roman strategic approach: “And where they make a desert, they call it peace.”  Yes, when the Romans wanted to make a point—they made a point.  We might note that the Roman Empire endured for another 622 years after the fall of Carthage, all the way to 476 AD.

Of course, Americans would never do anything like obliterating Carthage, even if the few German survivors of the 1945 firebombing of Dresden, or the even fewer Japanese survivors of Hiroshima, later that same year, might beg to differ.  Still, we might pause to note that both Germany and Japan—two countries once both full of fight—haven’t so much as raised their fist at us even once in the last 70 years.

II. The Challenge in Our Time

Today, there’s an echo of the old Roman resolve in the voice of many Republicans.  As Sen. Ted Cruz, who frequently quotes Reagan’s we-win-they-lose maxim, declared the other day, “In a Cruz administration, we will say to militants, if you wage war against America, you are signing your death warrant.”

Needless to say, Cruz doesn’t speak for the intellectually fashionable, who preach a kind of defeatist sophistry.  Among the smart set, it is often said that we shouldn’t attack ISIS because that’s just what they want.   CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, for example, writing of possible US retaliation in the wake of the Paris raid, assures us that ISIS “wants all of this.”  And Sally Kohn, also of CNN, adds her voice: “Bombing terrorists feeds their ideology.”

And we have this dire headline from the lefties at Salon:

We’re already caving to ISIS: Bloodthirsty jingoism is precisely what the terrorists want: The chief goal of these terrorists is to launch a “cosmic war.” Bigotry and calls for invasion provide exactly that.

Well, maybe the leftists are correct: Maybe it would be a mistake for us if we defeated ISIS—but maybe not.  Indeed, it sure seems that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, is doing his best to survive.  To be sure, he says he’s ready for martyrdom, but he’s not seeking it out.  If he really wanted to be dead, he already would be.

Yes, there’s something to be said for winning, not losing—for living, not dying.  As Osama bin Laden himself observed, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” And of course, it’s no accident that Al Qaeda went into eclipse after bin Laden was killed by US forces in 2011, to be replaced, alas, by ISIS.

To put the matter starkly, being killed suggests that maybe God is not on your side.  It’s perhaps glorious to die for a winning cause, but not so glorious to die for a losing cause.

So let’s hereby resolve that we will be on the winning side.  And let’s get right down to it, and name—yes, name—the central challenge of our time: Defeating the Salafi terrorists once and for all.

Michael Vickers, a counter-terrorism subcabinet official in the Obama and Bush administrations—and an operative with a record going back to the CIA campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan—is flatly declarative about what must be done; we must defeat ISIS, or ISIL, by depriving it of its territory.  By any name, they—including the remnants of Al Qaeda—need to be defeated and their home-base destroyed:

ISIL, as its name implies, is a de facto state. It holds territory, controls population, and funds its operations from resources that it exploits on territory it controls. If there’s one thing the American military knows how to do it is defeating an opposing force trying to hold ground.

So yes, we must defeat ISIS.  ISIS delenda est.  But yet there are more variables to consider: Unless we plan to do to the Jihadi Zone exactly what the Romans did to the Carthaginians—that is, kill them all—we need a plan for not only pacifying the area, but also for keeping it pacified.

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Failing to Know Our Enemies

pic_giant_121913_SM_Failing-to-Know-Our-EnemeisBy Clifford D. May:

Less than a generation after World War II, in the midst of a cold war whose outcome was far from certain, John F. Kennedy famously proclaimed that Americans would “support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” More than half a century later, in an era fraught with conflict and tension, it may be time to ask: Is that still our credo?

In particular, are Americans still committed to liberty — a word that has come to sound old-fangled? Can our friends still rely upon our support — even when the going gets tough? Do foes still have reason to fear us — or have we become too war-weary to effectively oppose them? And those nations that profess friendship but seek to ingratiate themselves with our foes — what are we to do about them?

These questions, I suspect, will require a great deal more study, thought, and debate before they can be adequately answered. But 34 years after the Iranian Revolution, and twelve years after the attacks of 9/11, we at least should know our enemies. And we should have settled on a strategy aimed at defeating them. But we don’t. And we haven’t.

Many of us turn away from an uncomfortable truth: The ideologies most hostile to America and the West have arisen in what we have come to call the Muslim world. These ideologies are not just intolerant but supremacist — which is why, within the Muslim world, religious minorities face increasing oppression and, in many cases, “religious cleansing,” a trend Western governments, the U.N., and most of the media avoid discussing.

Most Muslims do not embrace these ideologies. But for a host of reasons — fear undoubtedly high among them — neither are most Muslims battling them or even denouncing them publicly and without equivocation.

There is this positive development: In the media, resistance to calling a spade a spade is, finally, breaking down. Take, for example, this recent New York Times headline: “Mali: French Troops Battle Islamists.” That’s accurate: The French have not intervened in Africa to battle “violent extremists.”

Read more at National Review

Video: The Legacy of FDR’s Normalization of Relations with the USSR

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With (left to right) Stanton Evans, Frank Gaffney, Diana West, Chris Farrell and (not pitcured) Stephen Coughlin

Eightieth Anniversary of Deal That Facilitated Penetration of U.S. Government, Society

Washington, DC — Eighty years ago this Saturday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed for the first time to recognize the Communist regime of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. He did so on the basis of formal undertakings by then-Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov that the Kremlin would not engage in subversive actions in America.
The rest, as they say, is history. And a sordid and still unfolding history it is.

“The 16th of November 1933 is a day that truly should live in infamy. This symposium will explore its significance both in terms of much of the most sordid history of the 20th Century — and as the predicate for similar forces at work in the 21st.”

The Center for Security Policy is pleased to convene a symposium to review that history — both that of the immediate post-normalization period, of World War II, of the Cold War and of today — from noon-2:00 p.m. at the headquarters of Judicial Watch in Washington, D.C.

  • Diana West, author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character;
  • M. Stanton Evans, author of Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government Relations;
  • Christopher Farrell, Chief Investigator, Judicial Watch; and
  • Stephen Coughlin, author of the forthcoming book, Catastrophic Failure.
  • Frank Gaffney, President, Center for Security Policy, moderator.

Diana West at 7:09, Stanton Evans at 24:15, Chris Farrell at 47:09, Stephen Coughlin at 57:57 followed by Q&A (which you do not want to miss)

“Robert Spencer’s Vital Role in Creating Conservatism 3.0”

book-1By Robert Spencer:

I am honored by this piece and hope David Swindle turns out to be correct — it will take a sea change in American politics, but that may be coming. “Robert Spencer’s Vital Role in Creating Conservatism 3.0,” by Dave Swindle in PJ Lifestyle, October 8:

I’ve grown quite fond of the model presented in America 3.0the previous book discussed in this ongoing series of my favorite authors, writers, activists, and troublemakers. James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus tell the story of a colonial/frontier America 1.0, its post-Civil War transition into the big government/corporate America 2.0 that would win World War II, the system’s gradual collapse over the previous decades into the mess we have today, and the solution of a decentralized/technological America 3.0 now propelled by Glenn Reynolds’s Army of Davids. In understanding what America 2.0 is and why it’s now failing we can adapt our movements and businesses to dominate in the coming individual-empowering America 3.0.The 1.0/2.0/3.0 Bennett-Lotus model is applicable beyond the broad scope of their book. As America itself goes through the shifts from one era to the next so too do the cultures and institutions within it. So I will apply it to one of my preoccupations, political ideology. How does this sound?

Conservatism 1.0 = The Old Right, those who fought against the expansion of the federal government and US entry into World War II, often referred to as isolationists. This ideology was soundly refuted by US victory over the Axis. It turns out that foreign policy ideologies that assume muskets and months to sail across the Atlantic have limited utility in post-Hiroshima worlds. The heirs of this tradition today are the so-called paleo-conservatives (Pat Buchanan) and paleo-libertarians (Ron Paul) and their stealth advocate who has duped Republicans and infiltrated the Tea Party, Rand Paul. (My ax-grinding against all three will continue for the foreseeable future. These people should have been cast out of polite society long ago to hang out so they’d have more time to spend with their Holocaust-denying buddies.)

Conservatism 2.0 = The New Right, built by William F. Buckley Jr. and Barry Goldwater and institutionalized at the presidential level by Ronald Reagan. While adapting the Old Right’s traditionalism and opposition to the New Deal, the big shift came in reacting to the new foreign policy reality threatening human freedom: Soviet imperialism. The battle against murderous Marxism was what really animated Buckley, Goldwater, and Reagan more than anything else. (It was in reading the extraordinary Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America that this started to become more apparent.)

So I’ve come to conclude that what we call “the conservative movement” was really just the political/cultural wing of what began as anti-communism. Thus, the reason for the degradation of Conservatism 2.0 is that with anti-communism as the primary base the ideological tent could widen to bring in people who do not actually believe in American values. Opposing the Soviets for one reason or another does not require one to be an advocate of America’s founding principles. Thus with the removal of the Soviet threat — only for a time really, of course… — the Reagan coalition has collapsed as each faction now squabbles for power and attention.

Conservatism 3.0 = As anti-communism created Conservatism 2.0, Robert Spencer’s counter-jihad movement will provide a foundational justification for the shift to Conservatism 3.0. As previous generations were fueled by reports of the horrors within Marxist slave states, today the truth about Shariah slave states will gradually bring together people across cultures, borders, and ideologies. And I say Robert Spencer’s counter-jihad movement because he has been a leader in this war for over a decade, documenting not just what is happening but explaining why.

His new Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam is a handbook for fighting back in the political and cultural battles for American hearts and minds. Robert goes down the line, explaining how Jihadists and Sharia-based states have substantial support in the Muslim world and a long tradition of Koranic interpretation to justify their brutality. It is not easy to always connect the dots when trying to explain this to people — how the Koran and the Bible articulate fundamentally different value systems which result in incompatible civilizations, one free and wealthy, the other oppressed and impoverished. Robert puts the pieces together here, showing how the Koran and the life of Mohammed resonate as the primary inspiration in today’s Jihad against the West.

Read it all.

Priorities: Obama’s Treasury considers “90 percent of the employees in its Office of Terrorist Financing and Intelligence (TFI)” non-essential

Via Center For Security Policy:

H/T to the brilliant David Reaboi, a colleague at the Center for Security Policy, who uncovered this fact in the midst of all the smoke surrounding the government shutdown.

To anyone who is paying close attention, the ongoing government “shutdown,” is less about fiscal issues and more about priorities. Some operations and personnel are considered “essential” and some are considered “non-essential.”

It is perhaps very instructive that to the Obama Treasury Department, the office that enforces sanctions against the world’s most active terrorist-sponsoring nation, is made up overwhelmingly of personnel considered to be “non-essential.”

The Treasury Department has furloughed approximately 90 percent of the employees in its Office of Terrorist Financing and Intelligence (TFI), which is responsible for the monitoring of illicit activities and enforcement of sanctions related to several countries, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea…

Here is what a Treasury Department spokesperson had to report about the situation:

“As a result, OFAC is unable to sustain its core functions of: issuing new sanctions designations against those enabling the governments of Iran and Syria as well as terrorist organizations, WMD proliferators, narcotics cartels, and transnational organized crime groups; investigating and penalizing sanctions violations; issuing licenses to authorize humanitarian and other important activities that might otherwise be barred by sanctions; and issuing new sanctions prohibitions and guidance,” the spokesman said. “This massively reduced staffing not only impairs OFAC’s ability to execute its mission, it also undermines TFI’s broader efforts to combat money laundering and illicit finance, protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system, and disrupt the financial underpinnings of our adversaries.”

Clearly the Obama administration has decided that cutting off the financial network that supports global jihad is a non-essential activity. Remember, this is the same administration that made the decision to assign “essential” personnel the task of erecting barricades (“barrycades) in a futile attempt to keep World War II veterans out of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.  And we might also add that the government shutdown didn’t delay the launch of Obamacare either.

So, clearly there are some functions and personnel who are considered “essential” and some that are not.

Right now, to Obama, those that are not essential are those who track and prevent jihadists from getting financial support. That pretty much tells us all we need to know about this administration’s commitment to defending America and fighting terrorism.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/02/government-shutdown-empties-offices-enforcing-sanctions-on-iran.html

An international commander in chief

3027813577CSP, By Adm. James “Ace” Lyons (Ret.)

President Obama’s remarks at the Group of 20 conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, that he was “elected to stop wars, not start them” certainly implies that he sees himself endowed with an expanded global mandate. While it’s far from clear that he understands the oath of office he took to be president of the United States — which is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic — he apparently has no trouble viewing himself as more of an “international president.” There is no mandate in that oath that charges him with the responsibility to intervene or stop international wars, unless it can be seen to be in our vital national interests.

The Syrian civil war, by any standard, is a humanitarian tragedy, but it does not qualify as a vital national issue. Further, there is nothing in the oath of office that stipulates that Mr. Obama has a unilateral mandate to support the controversial doctrine of “responsibility to protect.” Supporters of this doctrine are core members of the administration’s national security team — Susan E. Rice, Samantha Power and Denis McDonough — none of whom has any military experience. It should be remembered that this is the weakest and least credible national security team in recent history.

With Mr. Obama’s left-wing upbringing, he has been taught that our great nation is the root cause of many of the world’s problems. It is acknowledged that our superb military capability provides the key underpinning for our influence throughout the world. Therefore, in order to change the dynamics of that influence, the capability of our military forces must be changed. If this assessment is correct, then the appalling unilateral disarmament of our military forces makes sense. Granted, there are economic problems that must be addressed, including out-of-control domestic spending. While our military forces consume less than 20 percent of the federal budget, under sequestration, they have been forced to absorb 50 percent of the draconian budget cuts. It should be remembered that sequestration was an Obama administration initiative.

The impact of conducting two wars over the past decade has taken its toll, and Mr. Obama’s enthusiasm for involvement in a third one in Syria would raise the cost. Our military forces have been run hard and put away wet. As a result, our military readiness has been seriously compromised with delayed or canceled required maintenance and overhauls. Equipment, in many cases, is obsolete and needs to be replaced. Drastic cuts to our naval superiority by planning to decommission carrier strike groups, the key element in our ability to project power and a recognized symbol of U.S. power and influence anywhere in the world, make no sense.

The credibility of our military forces has also suffered by making our military, particularly ground forces, adhere to restricted rules of engagement in the failed hope of winning the hearts and minds of tribal Muslim societies. This policy has costs thousands of lives and many more permanent injuries. Further, it has given a distinct advantage to our enemies, who are well familiar with the rules to which our forces must adhere. These forces are our national treasure and cannot be wasted implementing some academic exercise.

Other factors have adversely affected our military forces’ credibility and fighting spirit:

  • Forcing our military to embrace Islam’s seventh-century culture, customs and legal system goes against everything our forces have been taught. For example, if an Afghan beats a woman or sodomizes a young boy, our forces are told not to interfere and look the other way. Is this what we are asking our national treasure to sacrifice their lives for? I don’t think so. We as a nation are better than that. Why are we forcing our military forces to compromise their values?
  • Militarytraining manuals (and trainers) have been purged of any material that links acts of terrorism with Islam.
  • Diversity has become the No. 1 priority for our military forces instead of the proven principle of “professionalism.” Why erode the moral fiber of the finest military forces in the world by making them embrace the homosexual agenda?
  • Restrictions have been removed on women serving in combat.

The bottom line is that none of these social-engineering changes have improved combat readiness or our military credibility and unit integrity. Unless changed, our overall effectiveness will be severely diminished. Is that the objective?

While every other nuclear power is modernizing its strategic nuclear forces, Mr. Obama is forcing further drastic cuts on our strategic and theater nuclear forces, thereby jeopardizing our national security.

The current direction of our military forces requires an immediate course correction. A similar situation occurred in 1949, when Harry Truman’s Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson was planning to eliminate the Navy’s carriers and the Marine Corps. There was a “Revolt of the Admirals” to preserve our Navy’s carrier strike forces. Their success paid large dividends during the Korean War.

Political correctness has silenced our military leadership up to now. However, today’s leaders are no less capable than those World War II-hardened veterans — who led the admirals’ revolt. We clearly need another one, but this time joined by generals, to restore our military’s effectiveness as the finest fighting force in the world. Military leaders are required to give their best professional opinion — even if it opposes administration policies. Nothing less is acceptable.

 

No One Would Listen

Elie Wiesel speaking at NYU, April 2011

Elie Wiesel speaking at NYU, April 2011

Citizen Warrior:

If you haven’t read the powerful book,Night, by Elie Wiesel, you really should. It is his account of what happened to him during WWII. He was a young teen living in a small village in Hungary when, in 1942, the Hungarian police arrived to announce that all foreign Jews had to leave. The police loaded them all into trains and took them away.

The people in the town were disturbed, of course. It was a sad day. But after a few months, the memory began to fade, and life eventually returned to normal. They felt they were far enough removed from the war that it would end before it ever came to their remote village.

Then one day, one of those foreign Jews found his way back to the village. His name was Moishe. He was an old man, but the young Elie Wiesel had known him fairly well. Moishe had an extraordinary story to tell. He said when the trainload of Jews crossed the border into Polish territory, the Gestapo loaded them into trucks and took all the Jews into a forest where they were forced to dig huge trenches, and then they were all shot! Moishe himself was shot in the leg and left for dead. But he escaped and had been struggling to get back to the little village so he could warn people of what happened. He was urging everyone to flee; to get away before the Germans came.

He went “from one Jewish house to the next,” wrote Elie Wiesel, “telling his story…” And he repeatedly and urgently told his story at the synagogue.

But nobody believed him.

They thought he must have lost his mind. Why would the Germans just kill Jews like that? Germany was a modern, industrialized, enlightened country. They wouldn’t simply murder people so heartlessly and for no reason. Moishe must have lost his mind.

Moishe was insistent. He begged people to listen to him. He cried. He pleaded. But not one person believed him. They didn’t want to believe him, and that’s a formidable barrier to communication.

Our message — that what is written in Islamic texts is dangerous to non-Muslims — is also something many people do not want to believe. The implications are too heavy. The people of Elie’s village didn’t want to contemplate what it would mean if Moishe’s story was true. It would mean tragedy and heartache and a loss of faith in humanity. It would mean a drastically different future for everyone. If they believed Moishe, the wise course of action would be to immediately pack up or sell everything they own and move somewhere they’d never been before. They’d have to start over. The journey would be fraught with uncertainty and danger. Most of them had lived their whole lives in that little village.

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