Yes, because what you call it affects how you think about it.
Here’s just one example, from a recent article in The American Conservative:
During wartime who dares question almost any Pentagon cost “to defend America?”
From “12 Reasons America Doesn’t Win Its Wars,” by John Basil Utley.
Sun Tzu suggested, in the opening lines of The Art of War, that
War is a matter of vital importance to the state, the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin.
Griffith trans., p. 63.
It follows, then, that if what you’re looking at isn’t a matter of survival of the state, it isn’t war. Can you, with a straight face, claim that the United States is engaged with an existential enemy outside of its own boarders?
So if it isn’t war, how should we deal with it? Well, let’s look at what one of our opponents is doing (one can have “opponents” in many fields other than war). The title of this article from today’s New York Times (registration required) pretty much tells the story: “Offering Services, ISIS Ensconces Itself in Seized Territories.”
The group is offering reliable, if harsh, security; providing jobs in decimated economies; and projecting a rare sense of order in a region overwhelmed by conflict … “It is not our life, all the violence and fighting and death,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, like others from areas run by the Islamic State, so as not to anger the jihadists. “But they got rid of the tyranny of the Arab rulers.”
The result is that increasing numbers of inhabitants — probably too early to call most of them “citizens” — of the Islamic State have come to identify with it and and become willing to fight for it, or at least fight to prevent the return of conditions that caused it to exist in the first place. If this seems incomprehensible, recall that the Russian people, few of whom were dedicated communists — fought heroically and successfully to defend their homeland from Nazi invasion.
Boyd noted that the best way to ingrain oneself in the emotions of the population is to immerse your movement in the matrix of the population:
- Guerrillas must establish implicit connections or bonds with people and countryside. In other words
- Guerrillas must be able to blend into the emotional-cultural-intellectual environment of people until they become one with the people. In this sense
- People feelings and thoughts must be guerrilla feeling and thoughts while guerrilla feelings and thoughts become people feelings and thoughts; people aspirations must be guerrilla aspirations while guerrilla aspirations become people aspirations; people goals must be guerrilla goals while guerrilla goals become people goals. Result
- Guerrillas become indistinguishable from people while government is isolated from people.
Patterns 95. While the IS may still be a long way from this, they seem to have an appreciation for its importance. I would argue that their success at this exercise in nation building will determine whether they will be able to withstand the counterattacks that are coming. Schwerpunkt.
While we proclaim “war on terror,” and lob missiles at them from the comfort and safety of drone control centers, the terrorists are on the ground, with the people, providing services and security.
“Now there is more security and freedom, no arrests, no harassment, no concrete barriers and no checkpoints where we used to spend hours to get into the city,” said Mohamed Al-Dulaimi of the jihadist-controlled city of Falluja.
“What will happen if the militias enter Falluja?” he said. “We will take our guns and fight them, not because we are ISIS, but because the militias will kill us all.”