Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 16

worldly pleasures, rewards, and adventure in addition to spiritual salvation through Jihad. We must also recognize that IS members do not see their activities as immoral or repulsive. Quite the contrary, they feel morally justified in their actions based on the belief system that underpins their actions. As a result, we must be careful not to underestimate our enemies’ intellectual capabilities in pursuing the goals they seek. They are clearly not the junior varsity or second-string team some have characterized them as being, either intellectually or in their ability to shrewdly wage psychological as well as physical war with the limited resources they have. Though IS adherents subscribe to a return to a seventh-century set of values that condones slavery; brutalization of captives; exotic punishments for reputed crimes; domination, exploitation, and rape of women and children; and forced subjection of nonbelievers of their brand of the Islamic faith, they are not stupid. Quite the opposite, they are true believers who have shown both fanatical zeal and commitment, as well as great skill and acumen in manipulating world opinion and outmaneuvering their enemies. Moreover, many IS adherents have shown a willing—sometimes eager—inclination to die as martyrs for their global mission. To highlight a sobering comparison, few Westerners are persuaded enough in the defense of their own ideology and culture to willingly volunteer as suicide bombers for their cause. In contrast, many IS followers appear to be more than willing to do so. As evidence of serious intent to cleanse the world of non-Islamic power and influence, IS is systematically destroying vitally needed property and infrastructure that the fragile nation-states they are attacking need to survive, including in many cases the cultural history of peaceful, non-Islamic peoples living in those states. Consequently, the ideological foundations of many nations striving to achieve stability through tolerance of ethnic and religious diversity are being undermined as IS schemes against them to compel their subjugation to the IS caliphate. Taking all this into consideration, we must also acknowledge and take seriously the fanatical commitment of IS jihadists and their serious and malevolent long-term intentions toward us. Let’s face it: they want to win and believe they are. Finally, we also have to recognize and counter the intentions of the state and nonstate supporters who are enabling growing violence against us. Defeating IS will entail not only engaging IS directly—both through 14 decisive force of arms and overwhelming information operations attacking their values system—but also taking dramatic steps to cut off the support they receive from a host of players, including unfortunately, many of whom are among those we nominally consider allies but who are covertly supplying and supporting IS for their own national or personal purposes. Taking such steps will require not only diplomatic dexterity and sophisticated cultural acumen, but also great courage and toughness in the face of an entrenched bureaucratic mindset that prefers at present to rely on wishful thinking as a strategy. War Only Ends in Victory—One Way or the Other In sum, we must face the fact that we are at war. It is not something that can be ignored or wished away. And, in war, winning is the only thing. The current war is no different. It is not a little kid’s soccer game where everyone gets a trophy. As you read these words, people are being killed and maimed on the multiple sides of this war. The misery and suffering are intense, the injustices—already staggering in number—continue to mount. It is consequently in our best interests, and the interests of those who we may yet be able to preclude from becoming innocent victims, that the war be brought to an end as soon as possible, which means we must decide to seriously wage war. We must also face the fact that a long war works to the advantage of IS. For the members of IS, the suffering of people being enslaved, raped, tortured, or in a host of other ways ruined, is irrelevant. The victims have no human rights because human rights outside of IS doctrine do not exist. IS only has one aim: to conquer and compel all people to accept their conception of a fundamentalist and much radicalized Islamic lifestyle, or die. Thus, time has no meaning for IS. Unless directly confronted, attacked, and decisively defeated, left to their own timeline, it matters not when the caliphate comes or how long it takes to get there, only that it does. When we win against IS, it will be our right and prerogative to argue philosophically all day long about the how and the why of the war, mistakes made by military leaders and politicians, and, hopefully, lessons learned leading to successes. But, if we lose—which we must prudently recognize as a real possibility if we don’t take decisive action before an IS becomes an established reality—we will lose both the right and ability to argue. I say let’s stop participating in this never-ending conflict and instead, let’s win! March-April 2016  MILITARY REVIEW