Self-destruct mode

I was just flicking through channels after catching the weather and I stopped on a movie with a little asian girl in it… there were soldiers walking by and then I knew I’d seen this it was “Windtalkers” documenting the use of the Navajo language in our military during WWII? … it got me thinking again-

Because for quite some time I’ve thought alot about what line it is a disadvantaged (or not) country will cross in means to be victorious.

Quite often a warring or losing country will resort to destroying themselves to achieve what they consider a victory, not just the people, but the land those people live on … long after they are killed, it is quite typical that this area may take some sort of a “cooling off period” before it is inhabitable again…

What am I getting at? Just bear with me… it all fits and I’m thinking “outloud”

The question I center all this around was some examples of America demonstrating the same behavior (we’re not better than them, we just think we are)… Do we send out mother’s with children disguising explosives? Do we kill residents and enemy alike too and chalk it up to “collateral damage”? Or is it we have not had to resort to these tactics…yet? One’s country covers their eyes most effectively; the rest happens within the person.

That said, what have I not been seeing about America? Suicide tactics are not anything new or revolutionary and still in many ways appear a very powerful form on many levels of achieving one’s goal.

So again, to keep on track- “In what ways has America used their own in the means of taking land, winning a specific battle against another country or what have you?” I’m not counting the civil war obviously… perhaps to resort to such tactics the wars must be fought on our own soil?

Anyway, any history buffs or military knowledgeable I welcome to respond-
Thinktank signing-off

First of all, you are confusing separate things.

  1. This is at the least a GQ and probably GD, since you are essentially demanding that people give you examples of America being evil.

  2. Total War is a situation where you aim to destroy not only the enemies army and/or occupy his territory, but crush his economic resources. This usually does not actually involve slaughtering his civilians (though it theoretically can) for both moral and practical reasons. Mass murder/genocide breaks down military discipline, strengthens the enemies’ will to fight,

  3. Scorched Earth is when the defender opts to anihhilate his own resources in order to deny the enemy any victory. This involves destroying everything from military and industrial hardware all the way up to burning the food supplies of whole provinces. In this way, the enemy benfits little from advancing.
    Both were used at various times and places in the civil war. America currently wishes to use neither, because they don’t work very well with the way we fight. American’s armed forces prefer pinpoint attacks with overwhelming firepower. The aforementioned strategems require massive amounts of labor and armies focused on doing things other than fighting. The latter can only be used by the defender anway (though on a strategic scale defense and offense can teeter back and forth).

America does cause “collateral damage”. It’s esentially unavoidable in war. Heck, it’s unavoidable when you’re not in war. We’ve gone a long way to try and minimize it, for instance by not using massive bombing campaigns. It certainly does happen. The current aim of our armed forces is to win speedily as well as overwhelmingly. Certainly we do not intentially kill civvies, with certain exceptions.

Now, you’re thinking, “Ah ha! Exceptions! Now what could those slimy American pig-dogs be doing with that open-ended statement?” Well, in the first Gulf War, Saddam did a few things like herding civvies in and around radar sites, placing military depos in hospitals, etc. This is violation of the Geneva convention and exempted us from protecting those sites and people from our attacks. We killed people thise way - but the alternative was to allow our enemy to dictate where we could and could not attack, which is flatly unacceptable.

In short, we do harm the people inadvertantly, but we do not delibertaely target them for death.

Not militarily. Suicide tactics are primarily a political and media tool (similar to assassination in concept, if not details), not a military one. They can’t be used en masse and the supply of people useful for the task who would not be more useful elsewhere is happily limited.

On the subject of suicide attacks, one of the great American generals (Patton?) once said that a soldier’s job is not to give his life for his country: His job is to make the other guy give his life for his country.

Quite an emotional topic- I considered GQ previous to this, but figured that the intentional question and the eventual answer would be be diluted due to a bit of personal interpretation… So “heavenly moderator” if you’re up there and what you see displeases you- be my guest and throw this one into the appropriate forum (really it should only help diversify the response).

Btw, great reply S.bandit, now I just need more… lol

I’m hearing “we don’t do that sort of thing” I"m not backing anyone into a corner, I’m simply stating what I what message I absorbed from reading your response Bandit.

I think my last thought on who’s soil is involved might hold some water… the few wartime examples I can think of always seemed to center around this fact. You said yourself that civil war involves some example of this…then in Asia and in Iraq of course… mind you, I have a very limited knowledge of war and history- which is why I risk even posing this question to anyone else… but what’s a forum full of knowledgeable people if you can’t bring some more understanding out of the confusion right?..

Only because I’m living through it, i have more details from Iraq and I do know that we don’t train many of those that are sent overseas… I’m not saying this training would do them a hell of a lot of good since even the ones that are good enough or lucky enough to come back are just as conditioned as any “reintroduced” and severely institutionalized prisoner… I’m just saying, that the “details” to one seemed to never really be that important in the grand scheme… but that’s another can of worms… funny how it’s so difficult to separate issues when comes to war eh? :rolleyes: …I guess what I was getting at if you want to be picky… that it’s a form of suicide to send little to un-trained troops over there to possibly catch a few hot rounds for possibly someone more experienced… (team-work?)
yeah, yeah… I know… not much is fair especailly when it comes to war…

Well, this certainly isn’t about arts and entertainment, even if a movie sparked the thought. Hence, I’m booting it out of Cafe Society, over to Great Debates.

  1. Please think about what, specifically, you want to say. I can barely understand what you’re asking about.

  2. If you’re saying that America doesn’t train its soldiers, you’re completely and utterly wrong. We don’t grab people and shove them into uniforms and let them off the plane. American soldiers recieve training that is, overall, probably unequalled outside of Britain in the modern world. While support units don’t have all the combat skills and equipment of a front-line oufit, they should be mroe than capable of handling themselves. Training is the entire basis for American military success, not (as some prefer to believe) technology. AFAIK, there’s no other nation anywhere that uses as advanced, regular, and varied training as the US, though a few are a little bit better in a specific terrain. The British Navy, for example, is just a tad more efficient than we are, and the Swiss probably still have a ridiculously nasty sniper program.

Wait, are you trying to say that deploying to Iraq is essentially a suicide mission? Here’s a quick exercise for you. How many US military personnel have been deployed to Iraq since the start of combat operations. Divide the number of US personnel killed in combat in Iraq. That gives you the % chance you’ll be killed if you deploy to Iraq. Is that number really high? Yes, it is a dangerous job to be a US soldier in Iraq, people are shooting at you. But it isn’t a suicide mission.

Of course, US soldiers in WWII really were sent on what were effectively suicide missions. The pilots who attacked the Japanese carriers at Midway knew that they almost certainly wouldn’t make it back. The marines who first stormed the beaches at Okinawa were almost all killed. The first guys to hit the beaches at Normandy were almost all killed.

Suicide tactics are only used when one side doesn’t have the advantages of a multi-million-dollar industrial war complex on their side.

I think I need to post-edit some of what I said …I am not as logical as some of you here, so forgive the surges of …hmm well “stuff” …

I would think it would be in the best interest of of the US to have a well-trained army… i didn’t mean to say they weren’t trained… iI was only thinking of an interview with one of the lower ranked commanders sometime back where he was saying he was not ready to lead soldiers in and that his soldiers were not completely trained and neither was he… the view switched back over to his family… I know they were sad, I don’t know is this guy was killed or not… I also understand that these people in most cases willingly go into this kinda of thing (crazy SOBs, but God Bless 'em)… this was a minor part of the whole I was bringing up and I admit rather picky point.

I’m really only after the darker parts of the US militaries past… where even having a big budget didn’t stop us from resorting to rather under-handed tactics of fighting … For instance “securing the perimeter” is a really big deal for miltary in general … would we harm our own to achieve this" It is not just this one question I ask but any question that it resembles… got me now?

It’s actually a bit more complicated than that. Political groups use guerrilla tactics when they’re simply outgunned, whether by vastly superior industrial power, advanced technology, or even simple manpower. Those tactics have, in various methods, been used against the Chinese since time immemorial by northern horsemen. They were used against US cavalrymen in the west. Similar tactics were used by the Vietnamese against Chinese, French, and US forces at various times and places. And of course, there are many more examples.

The method of guerrilla engagement is to present no effective target for your enemy to strike. This means that his power cannot effectively target your forces. Additionally, he now has a choice: if he grows wrathful and reprises heavily by wiping out villages (etc), he risks sending more recruits and money to you. If you does nothing, he risks looking weak. It’s stilla weak strategy, however, and depends on a powerful enemy being either politicall or militarily incompetant. A guerrilla campaign also requires considerable cash, despite its relatively low-cost strategy. This means the guerrillas either need safe havens where the enemy can’t go or backing from other nations.

A terror campaign aims to, essentially, terrify - but not really. These get used when a political faction can’t organize a guerrila campaign. The actual purpose of this is to reate conditions where a guerrilla campaign may coalesce, not to actually do mch to the enemy directly. Terror is a tool, not and end. If the enemy’s nerve fails, he looks weak and emboldens potential allies of yours. If you reprises harshly, he may retain immediate power but enhance your long term prospects.

In the modern world, harsh reprisals may cause a lack of support on the part of the repriser’s allies. Iif the controlling power tightens his grip without crushing, he’ll probably win. The Roman empire was particularly good at this. In addition to a general permissiveness to the local non-royal elite, they invested conquered areas with top-notch garrisons and smashed any revolt. They showed considerable grace in dealing with subject peoples and invested in their economic future.

In a similar vein, if the Chechens pull off a few more stunts like their nasty little dust up in the Russian schools a few months ago, they’re likely to provoke a genocide campaign. It’s sort of like a union. If a union makes demands too high and refuses to deal, the company always has a last resort: move away or shut down. In the Chechen case, Russia has a last resort option. If world opinion turns to far against Chechnya, Russia can simply take them over, put everyone in camps (no populace, no guerrillas), and wipe out the rest. I’m not saying this is a good thing or not, but it’s their option and it’s happened before.

Suicide attacks (not merely bombing) are a tool of terror campaigns, but find a seperate and specific use. They are supposed to numb or instill fear in the population at large (or at least in a influential segment). In early China, suicide assassins were used by Important People to kill each other and destroy political opposition - without wiping out an entire faction by military force.

Despite the generally spectactular nature of these attacks (take a look at the descriptions of suicide assassins in early China sometime; it’s practically a gruesome public spectacle) they don’t actually seem to work that much. Despite decades of use in Israel, the Palestinians have neither improved their political nor economic situation. In fact, it seems that the bombing campaigns have simply reenforced a brutal factional system, while substituting flashy murder for economic progress. As the Romans would say, “Bread and Circuses”.

The greatest success of such campaigns was the WTC bombing - which was a spectacular failure from a political point of view. The economic damage was severe but has not caused the country’s economc collapse, not by a long shot. There’s fair argument that it was, in fact, motivated by a fantasy ideology compelled by the radical Islamist beliefs. After all, “the US can’t win”. “The US is the Great Satan. He will surely go down in defeat if the faithful fight.” But it weren’t so.

If you mean “would we risk soldier’s lives to secure a perimeter”, then yes. Soldiers risk their lives to serve their nation, and that includes protecting each other; soldiers will and do go on rescue missions that make no sense from a numerical perspective. And that means they guard each other as well. How, exactly, would we “harm our own”? This isn’t a video game; we can’t move equipment from one soldier to another to make a few super-units, leaving the rest to go hang.

No, really I was referring to the “non-soldiers” when I wrote the question. But now that you’ve made me think about it more I guess it’s another “collateral damage” reference and this would include soldiers as well as “innocents”.

I was getting at the thinking involved, not specifically the question I posed.
A soldier has a pretty clear job cut out for them and risking one’s life is quite typical for such a position. It’s the use of the individual lives in a unnecessary way that relates to my original topic… ya know… it’s hard to ask a question when you really don’t know enough to ask with… haha… I suppose this will have to be my last post for this topic unless some miracle strikes my subconscious tonight… You’ve responded masterfully though Bandit… and I thank you for every mind numbing drop of it… was time for me to open my eyes anyway on such matters.

I’m happy to explain anything you need. I don’t pretend my explanations are completely bias-free or perfectly accurate, but I don’t think I’m being completely partial, either. Military theory interests me greatly; it has implications in every aspect of life. I’ve gone through Sun Tzu’s the Art of War (complete, not abridged) in English, as well as Musashi’s Go Rin no Sho (The Five Rings). I’ve been lax in examining Clausewitz and Tirpowitz, but I have the essentials of each.

 Essentially, a major point that each of these thinkers noted was that war is always a political act. Sometimes that is due to economic concerns and/or has moral implications. The goal of war is *never* to kill/defeat the enemy, but to acheive your political objectives. This sometimes involves defeating the enemy wholesale, conquering their territory, and ending their independant existance. More often, this involves the capture of strategic locations or resources, or simply creates a favorable political climate.