Winning Hearts and Minds Doesn't Do It
I was in favor of toppling President Saddam Hussein long before President George W, Bush was. Indeed I have advocated Saddam's removal ever since the following verbal exchange took place in Tokyo between me and the Iraqi ambassador to Japan, two weeks after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990:
Q. 'Your Excellency, did your country use poison gas, which by common definition and under international law is a weapon of mass destruction, during the recent Iran—Iraq war?'
A. 'Of course we did, and Iraq will use it again whenever it has to. The poison gas made the Iranians sue for peace immediately, didn't it?'
So while I have no quarrel with Mr. Bush's decision to go to war, and to stay in the war, I disagree with the way he has chosen to fight it. By confronting the Iraqi terrorists and insurrectionists primarily with a winning—hearts—and—minds approach, he and his advisors have got it exactly backwards.
Whether it was the conquest of Babylonia, or of Persia, or of Greece, or of Rome, or of the Byzantines, or of the Turks, history teaches us that before we can win an enemy's heart and mind, we must first overwhelm him with so much military might that he accepts in his brain and in his bowels that it is time to give up. Only when he surrenders and is completely disarmed and pacified, can a victor even begin to reach his heart and mind. The same was true for Hitler's Germans and Hirohito's Japanese, The Germans and the Japanese surrendered only after they had been ground down by superior Allied force applied over a number of very bloody back—and—forth years.
Muslims, above all others, know this. They know that it was swords, not sermons or psychological warfare, that swept Islam quickly from the bottom of Arabia to the rest of the Middle East, to much of Africa, to southern Europe, and to large portions of India and the Far East. And they know that it was Infidel swords, not Infidel sermons, that stopped the Muslims at the gates of Vienna.
There is also the forgotten, but instructive, example of Canada. Thirty—five years ago, French Canadian separatists kidnapped the British trade commissioner in Canada and Quebec's minister of labor. They murdered the latter. In response, the Canadian Parliament suspended civil liberties and the Canadian Prime Minister ordered troops and mounties to search Quebec street by street and house by house. They arrested 500 people. And that was the last time that the separatists ever expressed their political views through terrorism.
Not being a Bush confidant or a fly on an Oval Office wall, I don't know what prevents the President from using our military forces more steadily and more effectively. I don't know, for example, why he doesn't seal off Syria and Iran by mining their borders with Iraq. Nor do I know whether he is more concerned with unavoidable civilian casualties generated by American military action than avoidable civilian casualties generated by the terrorists' barbarism.
But I do know that once America goes to war, and regardless of criticism at home or abroad, it is legitimate for us to sacrifice one civilian or soldier in order to save ten, ten to save a hundred, a hundred to save a thousand, a thousand to save ten thousand, and ten thousand to save a million.
I know, as well, that our Ba'athists and Jihadist enemies do not respect opponents whom they believe do not have the will to persevere and win. Someday they will stop fighting the Great Satan, but not because we have won their hearts and their minds. They will stop fighting us only if, when, and because they see that we have finally shed our Vietnam Syndrome and our damned impatience, and they thus fear our might and our resolve.
Edward Bernard Glick is a professor emeritus of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia and a fellow of the Inter—University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society