By COLONEL DONALD J. MYERS USMC (Ret)
The waging of war is a terrible thing and it should not be entered into without serious thought. Of course there are times when that serious thought is of little value because of an attack such as we suffered at Pearl Harbor in 1941. The American people supported the president as he requested a declaration of war from congress. For almost four more years our military fought all over the world while the civilian population supported the effort with buying war bonds, building the materials to fight the war, and undergoing all types of rationing on the home front. That was what has been described as the “Greatest Generation.” That was the last time that we officially declared war, but it is not the last time that we have been in combat. Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, and Bosnia are places where we have fought. Why and what happened is not the point of this short article, but just a reference that we have used our military when it seemed necessary. We are in the thirteenth year of fighting in Afghanistan and it is not that long ago that we left Iraq.
Afghanistan fighting started as a result of the terrorist attack on the United States on 9 September, 2001 when 3000 of our people were killed in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. President Bush went on TV and stated that this attack would not go unpunished. He also let it be known that countries would either be with us or against us. Countries that protected or housed terrorists would be considered as unfriendly. That seemed to be quite clear, even though very broad. Radical Islamists were identified as the major focus led by Osama Bin Laden under al-Qaeda.
For the last six years, radical Islamists have seemed to be given a pardon because we no longer even speak their name. “Work place violence” is the term used rather than terrorism when Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire on unarmed soldiers while killing 13 and wounding 30 others. The Boston marathon bombers detonated two bombs near the finish line in 2012 and injured countless individuals. The attack in Benghazi that resulted in four Americans being killed to include the ambassador was not reported as terrorism but rather a demonstration that got out of hand. On Wednesday, Islamist terrorist killed 13 people in Paris because of their using satire to describe Allah. They were immediately called terrorist, but it took a while before we did the same.
Sun Tzu said it best when he said in his book the book The Art of War … if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle. It is obvious that we do not know the enemy, and in far too many cases we also do not know ourselves. We are at war, but the government refuses to acknowledge that fact and hopes that by acting meek, our enemies will reciprocate. That never works.
There are those who state that our enemies are not from a specific country and as a result war cannot be declared. I disagree. Radical Islam is the enemy and it should be attacked with a vengeance rather than pin pricks as is the current case when dealing with ISIS. The latest attack in Paris merely illustrates that any target is capable of being attacked by terrorists. It is time to go on the offensive and let it be known that we will not stand by with our hands in our pockets.
Donald Myers is a retired Marine Colonel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org