Something seems to be emerging as the common theme in the web logs ("blogs") I have seen that seems to waver back and forth between this being a war of liberation and this being a war of disarmament.
This is actually neither. This is a battle in a larger war. This is the second step in the world-wide War on Terrorism. (The first was in Afghanistan, and while it may not be front-page material, military patrols, bombing raids, and assaults are still occurring, including a strike by about a thousand soldiers of the 82nd Airborne in northern Afghanistan just moments after the strikes in Baghdad.)
Steven den Beste reminded me that our first action after Pearl Harbor was the declaration of War against Japan, followed by a similar declaration against the Third Reich. But we didn't immediately start bombing Berlin. We invaded Morocco.
We did that as the first step in an overall campaign, even though Morocco had nothing to do with any military attacks against us at Pearl Harbor. It was a necessary step because we managed to crush the German forces between our boys and the British cavalry, to use North Africa as a base to launch assaults against Sicily, and from there to Italy, and... well, you get the point.
But I got to thinking... Why would we need to hazard a single one of our troops when we can completely eliminate the ability for the Iraqis to fight back even if they wanted to
using just air power?
Well, I was reading one of my favorite books (I've worn out three copies), Starship Troopers
by Robert Heinlein, and he has one recruit involved in a conversation with his sergeant-instructor, when it turns into the purpose of war in general. Highly instructive reading (and it has very little to do with the sci-fi movie
, by the way), especially when Heinlein writes the question, "What's the point with a whole lot of men risking their lives with obsolete weapons when one professor type can do so much more just by pushing a button?" (Sound familiar? Look at my question a moment ago.)
He responds (through the character of the sergeant), "If you wanted to teach a baby a lesson, would you cut its head off?... Of course not. You'd paddle it. There can be circumstances when it's just as foolish to hit an enemy city with an H-bomb as it would be to spank a baby with an ax. War is not
violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled
violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government's decision by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him... but to make him do what you want him to do. Not killing... but controlled and purposeful violence. But it's not your business or mine to decide the purpose of the control. It's never a soldier's business to decide when or where or how - or why
- he fights; that belongs to the statesmen and generals. The statesmen decide why and how much; the generals take it from there and tell us when and where and how. We
supply the violence; other people - 'older and wiser heads', as they say - supply the control. Which is as it should be."