It’s not smart for the Army to call its own troops stupid — but nobody seems smart in Obama’s America

The rule of war used to be that you hated your enemy. That made it easy to fight your enemy. Then, starting with the first Gulf War, the new rule was that you felt sorry for your enemy. By the Iraq War, the rule had become, you’ve got to like and respect your enemy.

These new rules baffled my father, a WWII vet, who kept saying “You can’t kill an enemy unless you hate him.”  I’m glad that Daddy’s not alive today to see the proposed Army Handbook coming out of the politically correct Obama Pentagon.  The proposed new rule is that, if you serve in America’s military, you must hate yourself because you’re incompetent and ill-informed (the link is behind a paywall; I’ve limited the quotation below to fair use):

The proposed Army handbook suggests that Western ignorance of Afghan culture, not Taliban infiltration, has helped drive the recent spike in deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces.

“Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member,” according to the draft handbook prepared by Army researchers.

There you have it: if you get killed in Afghanistan, it’s all your fault.

With that rule in mind, why don’t we just surrender now and save everyone a lot of time and money? I’m sure that the short-term benefits, in the form of national politically-correct self-respect, will more than offset the increase in targeted American killings at home and abroad.

Incidentally, there’s absolutely nothing wrong for an occupying force to deal intelligently with both the active enemy and the more neutral local people. It’s smart to mandate that troops behave in ways that will maximize gaining the local population’s good-will, while minimizing accidentally giving cultural offense.  A sidebar to the WSJ article that quotes the handbook’s specific rules, shows that the Army can be that smart:

Green-on-blue incidents provoke a crisis of confidence and trust among [coalition forces] working with [Afghan troops]. As a means of illuminating this insider threat, those [coalition] personnel working on Security Force Assistance Teams during 2012 that live alongside and mentor [Afghan security forces] have about 200 times the risk of being murdered by an [Afghan security force] member than a U.S. police officer has of being murdered in the line of duty by a perpetrator.

* * *

Preventive tools:

  • Understand that they may have poor conflict resolution skills and that insults cause irrational escalation of force.
  • Do not discuss religion

* * *

Cultural Awareness:

Flashpoints/Grievances Some U.S. Troops Have Reported Regarding Afghanistan National Security Forces:

To better prepare [coalition forces] for the psychologically challenging conditions in Afghanistan, familiarize yourself with the following stressors some U.S. troops have reported concerning [Afghan security forces] behavior during previous deployments. Bear in mind that not all [coalition] troops have reported such experiences or beliefs.

  • Some ANSF are profoundly dishonest and have no personal integrity
  • ANSF do not buy-into war effort; far too many are gutless in combat
  • Incompetent, ignorant and basically stupid

Bottom line: Troops may experience social-cultural shock and/or discomfort when interacting with [Afghan security forces]. Better situational awareness/understanding of Afghan culture will help better prepare [coalition forces] to more effectively partner and to avoid cultural conflict that can lead towards green-on-blue violence.

* * *

Etiquette Violations Best Avoided by [coalition forces] Taboo conversation topics include:

  • Anything related to Islam
  • Mention of any other religion and/or spirituality
  • Debating the war
  • Making derogatory comments about the Taliban
  • Advocating women’s rights and equality
  • Directing any criticism towards Afghans
  • Mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct

Bottom line: Try to avoid highly charged and emotional issues.

What’s dumb is a handbook that, at least in its first draft, appears in its introduction (which sets the tone for the rest of the handbook) to blame American troops for problems with Afghanis.  Sad to say, that’s what the introduction to the handbook (if I understand the WSJ article correctly) appears to do:

“Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member,” according to the draft handbook prepared by Army researchers.

There’s only one way to read that: “You Americans soldiers are crude, rude, vulgar, uninformed ugly Americans. Shape up or die.”

Every parent knows that it’s one thing to demand good, smart behavior from your child because your child is a good and smart person.  It’s another thing entirely to tell your child that he’s a stupid, incompetent failure whose every negative interaction with third parties is his own fault (whether or not that’s true).  The first approach creates responsible people who set high moral and practical standards for themselves.  The second approach creates embittered, insecure people who refuse to examine and improve their own behavior because it’s too painful to do so.  One would think that the high muckety-mucks in the Army would be savvy enough to understand this elemental human psychology.

As BlackFive says, writing from the perspective of someone who knows what it means to be on the front lines:

Cultural sensitivity is one thing.  But.  How any American soldier can avoid criticism (especially witnessing that behavior) of how they treat women and children is beyond me.  This is almost a parallel to how we began fighting communism in central America in the 70s/80s.  Look the other way.  Don’t get involved.  Don’t fight, just advise (and if they don’t listen, no big deal).  It was when we were allowed to make moral and ethical decisions/actions that we succeeded there.  It was when we stopped the avoidance nonsense that changes began to happen.


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  • JohnC

    Like Daniel Greenfield (Sultan Knish) wrote recently America no longer fights wars to win. Crushing the enemy is so 1945. Instead our leaders fight wars intending to lose gracefully in the hope that the opposing force will come to see our point of view and thank us for not killing them too much. It’s more important for our enemies to like us than fear us. We probably gave them a reason to hate us anyway. We need to work on that.

  • JohnC

    Incompetent, ignorant and basically stupid
    That’s what happens after a 1400 years of 1st cousin marrying.
    The connection between Muslim inbreeding and terrorism by Nicolai Sennels

  • Caped Crusader

    Then world turned upside down — on purpose — nobody is that stupid !

  • Cheesestick

    You’re right Caped Crusader.  And it sounds to me like this may have been written by the enemy within….

  • Danny Lemieux

    I recall a Kuwait friend back in my university days telling me about the problems the Saudis (“barbarians”, in her words) had with inbreeding, especially in the royal family. 

  • USMaleSF

    My own take on foreign policy: Muslims may be fought against, but never fought for.

    Attacking them to conquer them may be necessary, but attempting to really ally with them is a hopeless waste of American blood and treasure. 

  • Caped Crusader

    Confucius could not have said it better, or in fewer words.

  • 11B40

    I first came across the “hating your enemy” concept in Rick Atkinson’s “An Army at Dawn” wherein he saw beginning to hate the Nazi enemy as part of the American/Allies turnaround in North Africa.  It didn’t really square with my personal experience of the joys of infantry, but I’m certain that there where times and people for whom it was an important source of personal motivation. Mostly, my memory was of not wanting to fail in my duties, to wit, killing as many bad guys as possible and keeping as many of my guys alive as possible.  
    In terms of our military of today, I see it as undergoing “The Great Hollowing Out”.  This got its start back in the ’70s with the cancellation of the military draft for males.  When a society sends its menfolk a loud and clear message that they don’t have an individual responsibility to defend their country and its interests, the process has stepped off with a giant step. That this country was able to stand by and endure the dark days of the manpower shortages in the early days in Iraq without clamoring for a mobilization pretty much convinced that the draft was long gone, like a turkey through the corn.  The inclusion of approximately 15% females, with the Navy looking to impress by going for 20%, and all the adjustments and additional costs that entailed, was another significant accomplishment in that misbegotten regard.  And, of course, our more evolved President Obama has removed his portions by insisting that our military become not in the least distainful of all things homosexual.  Ahhh, the miracle of the “all-volunteer” military is upon a grateful nation. 
    On a more tactical level, we have the a number a modern auxiliaries. Perhaps most obvious is the ever present of  “The Rules of [ridiculous] Engagement”, which seem to be aimed at creating amore Hippocratic (First, do no harm) military.  And what would rules be without that stalwarts of the Judge Advocate General Corps to approve of them.  And, what would be better that some “tele-supervision”?  What infantry commander wouldn’t want or couldn’t find time for his (perhaps soon her???) boss to provide input especially if there was a JAG officer nearby. I’ll admit to a personal bias in this regard but I’m sure that with the proper re-education I could be swayed. And, what about the environment?  Should our military members be proper stewards of the environment?  And if “green fuel” costs only four or five times as much as regular fuel should our Navy be glad to endure such a contribution?  Why, of course it should.
    The facts as I see them is that there is an unspoken and almost well hidden agenda of unilateral disarmament going on and I would bet that it will continue unabated unless bad guys start showing up en masse on our shores.  Back on Pearl Harbor Day, I thought about all the young men who wanted to know where the recruiting office was, and when Bin Leaden went home to the Allah-dude, our young men wanted to know where the party was.  Bread and Circuses, we got ’em and guess what, you’re all entitled.  


    Cheesestick, you were saying…
    “Perhaps Communists had wormed their way so deeply into our government on both the working and planning levels that they were able to exercise an inordinate degree of power in shaping the course of America in the dangerous postwar era.
    I could not help wondering and worrying whether we were faced with open enemies across the conference table and hidden enemies who sat with us in our most secret councils.” – General Mark Clark (1896-1984) American general during World War II and the Korean War

  • Cheesestick

    Yep, that’s pretty much what I was saying.  Very scary.

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