Morality of GWOT

Box

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Morality and Warfare make such good bedfellows for a conversation topic - I like the reference to a "moral compass" as a launch point for my metaphoric rant.

Everyone likes to think that "their" moral compass always points north. Well - what "north" are you talking about?? There are different types of North and a compass points to magnetic north not 'true' north. Different types of north just like their are different moral standards. Obviously - since we are discussing "morality" we simply MUST be talking about "TRUE" north.
For this metaphor to make any fucking sense in the first place. After all, Morality equals Truth - amiright?

HOT TIP - even a perfectly functioning compass doesn't point to 'TRUE" north if it hasn't been correctly adjusted - a person would be fucked if they strictly relied on their moral compass - even if their compass is reliable and PURE. Especially if your compass is "PURE"
Failing to apply the proper declination to your compass will lead you to the wrong destination EVERY TIME no matter how high the quality of your compass. In fact, if you are in Seattle or New York, your compass is going to be about 15 degrees out of tune with "TRUE" north the very first time you use it. So far off track just because of where you were born.
...I'm not suggesting that those in Seattle or New York have an uncorrected moral code - its just a coincidence.

Consider a few map reading 'facts' as they relate (metaphorically) to morality...
Whenever someone is handed a map - they normally "assume" that the top of the map is north. We assume the person handing us the map handed it to us in good faith because north is always the top of the page - well, sometimes it isn't. Morality is funny that way - your friend might be looking at the map correctly with the best of intentions - but from your perspective, the map "looks" upside down. More concerning is that sometimes the person handing you the map has nefarious intentions behind trying to mislead you to 'which way is North'
Friend or foe - no matter who hands you the map - you ALWAYS need to to orient the map to the terrain you are standing on to make sure that you AND the map are both in unison.

The military complicates the Map-Morality-Metaphor even more because they throw in "grid" north. The rank and file civilian already has problems figuring out which "moral-north" to follow if they haven't had time to declinate their compass; now the military comes along with a grid system that adds 'grid' north to your dilemma.
Oh geez-o-whiz which which moral-north is the most important?

Stick with me - I think I have a point to make...................

Maps need to be updated every so often - roads change, areas become built up, even entire hill tops are leveled to make room for new construction. Maybe the landscape is the same but the declination has changed (declination changes over time). That's right - you heard me - the difference between TRUE north and the moral-magnetic-north on your compass changes based on where you are as well as WHEN you are. Just like our own personal moral views evolve over time - a compass needle constantly searches for an ever changing destination.
If you adjusted your moral compass to point to true north while you were in New York and then YEARS later you move to New Orleans - your compass is going to seem all fucked up again.
...again, I'm not suggesting there is a moral irregularity with New Yorkers - its just a metaphor !!!

You have to have a current map for the terrain you are on - you have to make sure you orient the map - you have to working compass - then of course, you have to make sure the declination on your compass matches your map.
-You dont always NEED a compass if you are really good at reading a map but even the best maps have errors and landscape changes, so be careful
-You dont always NEED a map if you are really good at using your compass but even a cellphone could depolarize the needle and make it point south
-Events throughout your life might change YOUR needle and cause a conflict between your compass and TRUE north

Now - since the original question was ALSO in the context of the GWOT and the wars we have been involved in over the last 20 years you have to add yet ANOTHER variable into this entire "Moral Compass Metaphor"
...only Western Civilization considers "North" as the basic direction from which all others are measured.
Islam uses a different compass to guide their path - their moral compass points to the qibla - which by the way is NOT north. You might not want to use a qibla compass with an American map if you don't understand how to integrate opposing cultures while
Which method is correct?

To address a few other comments from the original poster - freedom of thought is NEVER limited in this profession - it is cultivated and praised. Freedom of action and freedom of speech may be limited but freedom of thought is not (at least not yet - the democrats still haven't overthrown the American people).

That documentary, "Why We Fight Now- The GWOT" only reflects the view point of the folks that produced it. Some may feel the same - some may not - some may be right smack in the middle. There are probably a lot of folks that were interviewed that got NO screen time because their comments didn't "fit the narrative" that the documentarian was trying to push. What is important to the documentarian is that YOU connected with their message.

It all boils down to "navigation" you cant define morality - you have to navigate morality.
You cant just blindly follow a compass or you'll walk off a cliff. Morality in warfare is something that MUST be navigated unless you want to end up in the nut house.
You MUST acknowledge that times and attitudes change and in order to navigate the modern world, you have to periodically update your map and do maintenance on your moral-compass.
If you're worried about getting "lost" or you are just plain uncomfortable being alone and unafraid with nothing more than your map and moral comapss then you should try and stay out of the woods.
 
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Daemon40

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We'll be fighting terrorism in some form forever because of exponential population growth, especially in poor areas. Crowded slums are a breeding ground. If it's not radical jihadists, it'll be somebody else.
Forever? Rome believed it could do the same forever as well, and it ended up draining it and being one of the reasons for its collapse. Theres a reason why Afghanistan and by extension the Middle East are known as the "Graveyard of Empires". Perhaps we are different, but that's what every empire likely thought of itself.
 

GOTWA

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If you're worried about getting "lost" or you are just plain uncomfortable being alone and unafraid with nothing more than your map and moral comapss then you should try and stay out of the woods.
I'll never forget what @lindy said and it means something for me as well; there will come a point in time when decisions need to be made and actions need to be taken, and sometimes, those decisions and actions are for keeps.
 

Gunz

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Forever? Rome believed it could do the same forever as well, and it ended up draining it and being one of the reasons for its collapse. Theres a reason why Afghanistan and by extension the Middle East are known as the "Graveyard of Empires". Perhaps we are different, but that's what every empire likely thought of itself.
Yeah. Forever. If not us, somebody else. As long as there are malcontented zealot fuckwads with a grudge there will be terrorism.

Why not? It's easy, cheap and gets the point across.
 
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Gunz

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I didn't write this, it popped up in my FB feed today. I think this sums it up nicely:

View attachment 29112

In other words, get down on their level of ruthlessness. After a while exposure to and contact with the enemy builds up a desensitizing callousness. I saw it with my fellow Marines, experienced it myself and with our counterparts--a number of whom had been fighting for years.

The moral compass, as Box says, is open to interpretation and improvisation. You want to kill the fucks and make them fear you by whatever means. Fair play has no place on the battlefield.
 
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Jaknight

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Didn’t The Emperor of Japan who they worshipped like a god tell them not to fight no more? Wouldn’t they need for Allah to tell them to stop fighting?
 

RackMaster

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Didn’t The Emperor of Japan who they worshipped like a god tell them not to fight no more? Wouldn’t they need for Allah to tell them to stop fighting?
It's not Allah telling them to fight, it's the Mullah's and warlords.

Something that has been said already but not gone into great detail is culture. Perhaps for those that don't have the experience or understanding of the enemy's we've fought for the past few decades; you need research their cultures. For the most part, the rest of the world still follows the basic "laws" of humanity.
At the same time they both fear and respect the man with the "bigger stick", typically an elder. If you reach an old age in a society ruled by violence, you need to be violent.

Our enemies know that Western society has become soft and will always use that against us.
 

Gunz

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It's not Allah telling them to fight, it's the Mullah's and warlords.

Something that has been said already but not gone into great detail is culture. Perhaps for those that don't have the experience or understanding of the enemy's we've fought for the past few decades; you need research their cultures. For the most part, the rest of the world still follows the basic "laws" of humanity.
At the same time they both fear and respect the man with the "bigger stick", typically an elder. If you reach an old age in a society ruled by violence, you need to be violent.

Our enemies know that Western society has become soft and will always use that against us.

Allah can...go to Allah.
 
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Daemon40

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Our enemies know that Western society has become soft and will always use that against us.
There is also the resentment of many young men today, the Air Force is right to be concerned over their potential radicalization.

I have a strong distaste for modern dating culture, and refuse to engage in it, but at the end of the day there will always be hoops to jump in whatever age you are born in. The ancient past had harsh, direct, survival tests of ones fitness, nowadays one is expected to maintain the same fitness despite not having a direct immediate survival need for it. We now interact with several hundred people per day, despite only being evolved to socialize in smaller groups, the bigger the groups get, the more isolated some become from the sensory and social overload.
 

Hunter4461

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There does seem to be a way in which we fight wars that has become a major problem going as far back as Korea. We go into places with all the right reasons but non-the-less get kicked back out or create a bigger mess. We can look at ISIS and say we did that though it wasn't the troops it was the people in Washington which we don't need to get into. Either way, we fight to protect and get people under a better way of life. Clearly we are the most prosperous nation on earth so people who don't even have running water not wanting us blows my mind. I guess thats the way of the world and the part that religion even plays in some nations.
 

Marauder06

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I believe we could definitely win with that approach. But for how long? Would carpet bombing the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan just fuel an extremist ideology? I think so. From my civilian perspective Islamic extremism creates a warrior that is not afraid to die. I think that to win we need to crush that soul by putting the fear of god into them. But how do we do that to a population that jumps at the chance to meet their god. Give them a reason to live ? Shit idk I’m just spitballing now.
The myth of the suicidal jihadist is greatly overblown. While some of the rank and file are willing to strap on a vest or something equally suicidal, most are not. Their senior leadership definitely isn't. We can knock down the footsoldiers all day long, but as long as the enemy retains the ability generate, train, equip, and provide sanctuary for them ad infinitum, the war is never going to end. Well, it won't end with anything that looks like a victory for us, at least.

Carpet bombing Afghanistan a la WWII isn't going to work as a tactic, but the underlying strategy is sound. The reason strategic bombing was useful against Germany and Japan was because it undermined the credibility of the ruling elite and diminished their country's strategic capacity. It attacked the enemy where they lived, where they worked, and where they generated the capability and intent to cause us harm.

That's what it's going to take in order to "win" in Afghanistan: getting after the strategic capabilities of our enemies (which isn't, by the way, just the Taliban) where they live. And that's not in Afghanistan, it's Pakistan.

The other thing to remember is that long-range attacks weren't successful on their own. I imagine if we would have had nukes early in the war, and maintained the will to use them, we could have nuked both Germany and Japan out of the war quickly. But we don't do that anymore. Plus, we're trying to prop up the governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, so nuking the crap out of people is a non-starter both tactically and strategically. Even if we were to institute some kind of large-scale bombing campaign, the moral opprobrium would probably be strategically counterproductive.

So, we need a modern solution to old-school strategic bombing. But what does that mean, and how do we do it? We can do drone strikes, SOF direct action, and strategic targeting all day long. But until and unless we get after their training sites, their leadership, their financing, and their state-level support, it will all be for naught. Our enemies have been at this game a lot longer than we have, and unlike us, they're committed to winning.

One last thought before this gets TL;DR: the war in Afghanistan is financed, equipped, trained, and directed through Pakistan. The Taliban's most effective arm, the Haqqani Network, is controlled by Pakistan's intelligence service. If we want to do something meaningful in Afghanistan, we have to do something meaningful about Pakistan.

I don't know what that looks like, and I'm glad I'm not the one who has to make those kinds of decisions.

#It'sComplicated
 
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