Bill Cosby once did a comedy routine wherein he described the “rules” of the American Revolution. Intoning, as would a referee, Cosby announced that the British had to fight in the open, wearing bright red uniforms, that they must march in straight lines and could fire their muskets only when the order was given. Meanwhile, the colonists could wear clothing that blended into the landscape, could hide behind rocks and trees and could fire at will.
Unfortunately, American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan find themselves in a decidedly unfunny situation that is eerily similar to the comedic description Cosby gave us all those years ago. They are expected to observe rules of engagement that do not apply to our enemy and are guaranteed to get Americans killed.
The recent airing of the ABC miniseries, “The Path to 9/11,” gave us all a brief glimpse into the timidity of today’s leaders in both political parties. Nearly three thousand people died that day because of our unwillingness to face the reality of Islamic extremism, a foe as evil as any that ever launched an assault against a peaceful people. Over the past two decades, golden opportunities were missed and loyal allies were abandoned in the name of political correctness and military expediency.
Sadly, ever since our self-inflicted defeat in Vietnam (or even, some would argue, since our stalemate in Korea a half-century ago) the unwillingness of our leaders to do whatever is necessary to win seems to be the norm rather than the exception. Apparently, we have accepted the idea that when our enemy hides in a mosque, we must not attack him. While they fly airplanes into buildings, we are expected to “understand” them, try to comprehend why they hate us and not strike back with a “disproportionate” response.
While our enemy kidnaps, tortures and beheads innocent civilians and military personnel alike, we court-martial our own troops and send them to prison for harassing a few prisoners in what amounts to college hazing incident.
While our enemy declares war on Christianity and Judaism, using every cruel, inhumane, cowardly tactic to win at all costs, our soldiers are expected to observe sensitivity toward Islam and never “overreact.”
Now we hear of a recent scenario in which American forces had the opportunity to kill nearly 200 known Taliban terrorists attending a funeral in Afghanistan and could not get the order from their superiors to take them out. These are people who will go on to kill our troops in the field. These are people committed to the twisted notion that a radical Islamic state is the only way to govern a nation. And these are people who will stop at nothing to take their jihad to the entire world. To them we are supposed to show respect because they are attending a service in a cemetery? Bury them all!
Can you imagine the response of our generals during World War II if they had a group of enemy combatants in their sights and were told by President Roosevelt’s war department they could not attack because it would be insensitive to do so during a funeral?
Our military forces mercilessly firebombed the city of Dresden, Germany, incinerating tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children. The newsreels ran the story in our theaters, America cheered and we won the war in Europe unconditionally. We dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more people than had ever died in a single attack in the history of the world. Japan surrendered, unconditionally, and as many as a million American servicemen were spared the bloodiest invasion in the history of the world.
Not since the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese have we fought an enemy who so clearly required death or an unconditional surrender. We have not demanded and achieved unconditional surrender from an enemy since the end of World War II, and we won’t unless and until we learn the lessons of 9/11.