Wednesday, September 20, 2006

War on Terror Missing Piece: UNITY

By John E. Carey
October 13, 2006

There are nine “Principles of War” taught to U.S. military officer in War Colleges and other academic environments. But these do not just reflect theoretical schoolhouse drivel. The “Principles of War” are more akin to the bible chapters for fighting and winning wars – lessons learned by spilling blood.

One of the “Principles of War” is “Unity of Effort.”

“Unity of Effort” may be defined as: “Attack every objective with a unified, synchronized orchestration of all available assets.”

The U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker told reporters on October 11 that the United States lacks “Unity of Effort” in the war against terror: including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.“Ultimately, victory requires a national strategic consensus … in words and actions,” said General Schoomaker. “Another 9/11 should not have to occur to shake us into action.”

General Schoomaker also said that national support for the war on terror has been “tepid,” noting that just 4 percent of the United States’ gross national product is committed to defense. This compares to 38 percent during World War II.

Sound like “Unity of Effort” to you?

Then there is our divided American political landscape. While two parties and dissenting opinions are key to our democracy, in times of war there is a tricky balance that needs to be struck in order to assure a national “Unity of Effort.”

The President of the United States seeks “Unity of Effort.” In more than one of his September 11, 2006 speeches he said, "Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country. So we must put aside our differences, and work together to meet the task history has given us."

James T. Patterson, professor at Brown University and author of Congressional Conservatism and the New Deal, wrote of President Franklin Roosevelt, “His foreign policies … were shrewd enough to sustain domestic unity and the allied coalition in World War II.”

Many other historians agree with Professor Patterson’s assessment: FDR unified the nation and held it together. Moreover, he unified an international coalition and held that together too.

But the president does not bear sole responsibility for unity. The opposition party and many disparate groups and voices need to be cooperative and helpful even while they exercise their right to be heard.

But currently the opposition party has been just that: opposing, maybe even obstructing.

And our American media, so eager to ferret out the “truth” and to hold sanctified their American right to free speech and freedom of the press have reported every nuance and innuendo of our American disagreement: going so far as to repeatedly print classified information.

“Read the liberal press. Increasingly it reads like the press of what during the Cold War was called a “‘nonaligned nation,’” wrote R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. on April 13, 2006.

“On Palm Sunday of 1942 a blizzard dumped more than two feet of snow on the east coast,” wrote Mr. Tyrrell. “Neither the New York Times nor any of the Washington newspapers reported the mess that had blanketed their cities. You would not want the Nazis to know.”

That kind of self censorship allowed the allies to surprise the enemy on June 6, 1944 at Normandy, not the Pas de Calais. It allowed for everything from the development of the nuclear bomb to the rationing of critical supplies – without alerting the enemy to our plans, our vulnerabilities, our industrial capacities, our critical needs and our research efforts.

Yes, in time of war, there is a difficult balance to be reached and abuses can occur. During World War II the United States wrongly detained or imprisoned 110,000
Japanese and Japanese Americans in internment camps. Sixty two percent of that number were American citizens.

During World War II the Republican Party was the opposition party. Prior to the war, the Republicans had been isolationists. But after the devastating national disaster at Pearl Harbor, the Republicans got behind the war and stayed there to get the job done despite the heavy toll in casualties.

We all know the current state of disagreement in America. The rhetoric is shrill, the sides divided by an abyss.

Cal Thomas wrote on November 26, 2002, “Taking potshots …. may make liberal Democrats feel better, but it is no substitute for policies and a vision.”

As we near our mid-term elections, Americans have a lot to evaluate and judge. Rewarding those that insist upon the use of words the way an arsonist uses an inflammatory, would seem to some to be contrary to the “Principles of War” and “Unity of Effort.”

But pardon my naivety: I am a mere career military officer and know nothing of politics.


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