How (And How Not ) To Wage War: The ‘Puter Principle

Amidst the continuing fallout from the natural consequences of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton’s feckless, apologetic Middle East policy, we would do well to consider war. No, ‘Puter’s not calling on anyone to start yet another war.  Rather, ‘Puter’s thinking it may be time for Americans to take a refresher course on what war is and when and how it should be waged.

Ask any Democrat anywhere any question on any political subject and you are certain to hear somehere in his addlepated response some version of “if only we weren’t fighting BUSHITLERBURTON’s!!!1!one!! two wars, we’d have plenty of money to do [x].”  “X” usually equals a pet Democrat program, like Planned Parenthood abortions on demand for low IQ puppies or ObamaCare.

But we’re not fighting any wars at the moment, not really.  By historical standards, what we’re doing now is nothing more than occupation and crowd control.*  Sure, we’re spending scads of money babysitting a schizophrenic and America-hating government in Kabul run by a dishonest bazaar merchant clad in an aborted goat fetus hat.  We’re also spending scads of money babysitting a schizophrenic, but less America-hating government in Baghdad, run by soulless sectarians out for their own ends, America be damned.

Again, we’re not fighting a war.  At least, we’re not fighting a war in any sense history would recognize as a war.  Sure, we’re killing people and getting our troops killed.  But deaths on two sides don’t make for a war. Unless of course, it’s the evil RETHUGLICAN WUR ON TEH WIMMINZ!!1!one!! because that really and for true a war.  Really.  It is.  BECAUSE OBAMA SAID SO, THAT’S WHY!  Stop laughing. No, really.  Stop laughing.  AAAUGH!!!

Anyhoo, as Carl von Clausewitz wrote on the subject:

[W]ar is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means. What remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means. — Carl von Clausewitz, Vom Kriege (1842).

Von Clausewitz’ statement is dead-on accurate. All wars are fought to advance policy, be the policy good, bad or indifferent.  But we cannot truly understand von Clausewitz without understanding his warning as well.  The good general said:

Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat the enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: war is such a dangerous business that the mistakes which come from kindness are the very worst. — Carl von Clausewitz, Vom Kriege (1842).

This statement is as true today as it was 170 years ago when the Prussian soldier first set it in writing.  Not only is the statement still true, but President Obama’s foreign policy exists as a living example of von Clausewitz’ accuracy. 

If we put both statements together, we see Obama’s foreign policy writ large.  Simply put, Obama’s foreign policy is as follows:

1.  Decide on a favorite liberal policy, such as: “We must defend the helpless, rag-tag resistance fighters in Libya (or Egypt, Syria, Serbia, ad infinitum), lest they be overrun by Moammar Qadafi (or whatever other ruthless leader may apply), with whom we did business gladly until only recently.”

2.  Ignore the cold, hard facts as they are, instead relying on the State Department’s pipe dream assessments of the way things ought to be in the foreign country.  For example, fail to understand that a maniacal dictator is not going to willingly give up power.

3.  Make a completely unreasonable and irrational demand of the applicable foreign government, based on your foolish misread of the situation.

4.  Become enraged when the applicable foreign government tells Obama, freshly returned from a five nation Middle East apology tour, to take his irrational demand and put it where the sun don’t shine.

5.  Determine the only acceptable action for America to save face when the obvious rebuff comes (really, for his reelection campaign) is to militarily intervene.

6.  Insist that the most important military objective (other than giving Obama cover for massively screwing up the lead up to intervention) is to respect the dignity and mores of the unique and valuable women raping, soldier killing, adulterer stoning culture our military will encounter in its mission.

7.  Tie the military’s hands with rules of engagement that require our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to be sitting ducks.  For example, ordering American military afield not to fire on insurgents clearly identified as such until the insurgents fire on our military.

8.  Bemoan the military’s failure to achieve Obama’s policy objective, but leave the military afield indefinitely as targets of opportunity for terrorists.  Blame BUSHITLERBURTON!!!1!!eleventy!!1! for getting Obama into the mess in the first instance.

Indeed, Obama correctly applies the first part of von Clausewitz’ postulate: war is merely policy by different means.  Obama has a policy (“Don’t look weak on foreign policy so I can get reelected, then really put the screws to America.”).  And Obama has chosen to advance that policy through war, both through continuing Bush’s preexisting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite his heartfelt pinkie-swear to bring the troops home, and in starting adventures of his own in Libya and Syria.

Where Obama and many past presidents (specifically including Republicans) err is in application of von Clausewitz’ sine qua non. to be successful in advancing one’s chosen policy, war must be absolutely brutal and overwhelming to one’s foes.  No quarter can be given to then enemy, nor can civilians be spared where the enemies’ deaths are collateral to the death and defeat of one’s enemy. 

America now fights very expensive and long running conflicts in far-flung lands, chasing the pipe dream of a Utopian outcome where enemies will when confronted with American troops quickly throw down their arms, see the error of their ways and agree to live in peace and harmony according to America’s fondest foreign policy wishes.

‘Puter’s had it with America’s current horseshit, unrealistic, expensive and ineffective notion of war. 

America should go to war when, and only when, the president, the Congress and supermajority of the citizenry are absolutely committed to a foreign policy goal, willing to visit disproportionate and horrible destruction on an enemy to advance that goal and willing to sacrifice everything America has to achieve that goal.

Don’t put our troops in harms’s way unless their standing order is: “Our objective is ‘x.’  You are authorized to use any amount of force to achieve said objective.  Don’t come back until you’ve achieved the objective.”

Don’t put our troops in harms’ way unless Americans on the homefront are willing to sacrifice their cash (e.g., buying war bonds), their comfort (e.g., food and fuel rationing) and their sons and daughters (e.g., a military car carrying an officer and your pastor pulls up to your front door to deliver horrible news).

War as fought by America should be brutal.  War as fought by Americans should take no option off the table.  War as fought by Americans should accept no less than the absolute and unconditional surrender of its enemy.

War may require America to fly wave after wave of bombers wingtip to wingtip over legitimate targets located deep in the middle of civilian neighborhoods to eradicate a threat even though doing so damns hundreds or thousands of innocents to death.

War may require America to use nuclear, biological or chemical weapons to negate a threat it is impossible to negate in any other fashion, even though doing so will not only kill thousands, but render the exposed territory uninhabitable for years.

None of this is a call to wage war.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Despite what many believe about ‘Puter, he is not a warmonger.  ‘Puter believes that if America adopted a scorched earth war policy, we would see fewer so-called “wars” based on questionable foreign policy objectives.

Think of it this way.  Would you want America to go to war for a casus belli short of a direct attack on American territory if you knew America would kill thousands of enemy civilians and further that there was a very real chance it could cost you everything?  Most Americans would not take such a gamble, except under the most sever circumstances.

Here’s ‘Puter’s Principle** reduced to a checklist so simple even a State Department lifer could use it:

Question 1. What is America’s foreign policy to be advanced by the planned war?  If you cannot articulate the policy in one or two sentences written at an eight grade reading level, you may not launch a war.  If you can provide a concise, coherent policy statement, proceed to Question 2.

Question 2. Are more than two thirds of Americans strongly in favor of defending your stated foreign policy?  If not, you may not launch a war.  If yes, proceed to Question 3.

Question 3. Is more than two thirds of Congress strongly in favor of defending your stated foreign policy? If not, you may not launch a war. If yes, proceed to Question 4.

Question 4.  Is the president strongly in favor of defending your stated foreign policy? If not, you may not launch a war. Also, if you have not asked the president’s permission before commencing this checklist, fling your worthless, stupid ass off the top of your office building.  If yes, proceed to Question 5.

Question 5.  Are any of the following groups or individuals unwilling to wage a scorched earth war to advance the stated policy, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons?  If not, you may not launch a war. If yes, proceed to Question 6.

Question 6.  Are any of the following groups or individuals unwilling to lose everything to advance to the stated policy, including but not limited to their wealth, their belongings, their jobs, their houses, their children and their lives? If not, you may not launch a war. If yes, you may launch a war.

If Obama (and Bush) had followed the ‘Puter Principle, America wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in right now, mired in at least two conflicts and itching to fight several more.

The ‘Puter Principle is so simple, and so biased against war, that even the most liberal Democrat may find himself falling in love with it, despite his better judgment.***   Problem solved.    You’re welcome, America.
*’Puter fully understands that members of our armed forces have died, and continue to die, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  ‘Puter further understands that members of America’s elite special operations units are likely currently fighting and dying in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other God-forsaken hellholes to keep him safe.  ‘Puter in no manner means to denigrate these brave men’s sacrifice, but the fact remains.  America’s current overseas adventures are not wars.

**Nothing in the ‘Puter Principle should be taken to limit any president’s duty to utilize special forces to achieve desired outcomes short of outright warfare. See, e.g., Israel (allegedly) killing numerous Iranian nuclear scientists wherever found.

***Cue George Michael’s Careless Whisper, playing softly in the background.  “Should’ve known better than to trust ‘Puter! Toothless gums, they tell no truths now!”

About 'Puter

Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this. ’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies. The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig. His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred. He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently. Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet. 'Puter suggests the Czar suck it.