Rules of Engagement

From Fred On Everything

Fred: A True Son of Tzu
Guderian Was the Mother

January 23, 2007

Being a military thinker of the profoundest sort, I offer the following manual of martial affairs for nations yearning to copy the American way of war. Read it carefully. Great clarity will result. The steps limned below will facilitate disaster without imposing the burden of reinventing it. The Pentagon may print copies for distribution.

(1) Underestimate the enemy. Fortunately this is easy when a technologically advanced power prepares to attack an underdeveloped nation. Its enemy’s citizens will readily be seen as gadgetless, primitive, probably genetically stupid, and hardly worth the attention of a real military.

(2) Avoid learning anything about the enemy—his culture, religion, language, history, or response to past invasions. These things don’t matter since the enemy is gadgetless, primitive, and probably genetically stupid. Anyway, knowledge would only make the enlisted ranks restive, and confuse the officer corps.

Blank ignorance of the language is especially desirable (as well as virtually guaranteed). For one thing, it will allow your troops to be seen as brutal invaders having nothing in common with the population; this helps in winning hearts and minds. For another, it will allow English-speaking officials of the puppet government to vet such information about the country as they permit you to have.

(3) Explain the invasion to the American public in simple moral terms suitable for middle-school children at an evangelical summer camp: We are bombing cities to bring the gift of democracy and American values, or to defeat some vague but frightening evil, perhaps lurking under the bed, or to get rid of a bad dictator no longer of service to us, or to bring freedom and prosperity to any survivors. (This doesn’t work in Europe, which is honestly imperialistic.) The public can then feel a sense of unappreciated virtue when the primitives resist. Sententious moralism should always trump reason.

(4) A misunderstanding of military reality helps. Besides, comprehension would only lead to depression. As Napoleon said, or may have, in war the moral is to the material as three is to one, which implies that unpleasant facts should be played down in favor of cultivating a cheerful attitude. Most especially, it should not be noted that a few tens of thousands of determined, probably genetically-stupid primitives with small arms can tie down a cheerful force however gaudily armed.

Pay no attention to tactics, which are boring. It should never enter your mind that in this sort of war, if you don’t win, you lose; if the enemy doesn’t lose, he wins. Think about something else. Above all, do not understand that the enemy’s target is not you, but public opinion at home. You don’t need to remember this, as the enemy will remember it for you.

Read the rest here.

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