I’m sure that headline might upset some people, but if you will read on and let me tell you a story, you may see my point.

Once, when I was a young soldier, in a land far, far away, I was ordered to guard a prisoner until whatever spooks from headquarters were interested in him arrived to take him into custody. He looked to be only a couple of years older than me, and I have no idea what the fellow’s background was, but he was obviously important enough to warrant special attention.

I spent most of a day sitting in a hut with him, where he was handcuffed and shackled. I learned a lot that day, and it has stuck with me ever since. He spoke very good English, and after two or three hours, he said “You know your country will lose this war, yes?”

Now, I was an eighteen year old kid raised on John Wayne and the legacy of my World War II veteran father and uncles. In my world, America did not lose wars. So I told him to go to hell, we never lost.

“I have watched you today,” he said. “You are smarter than these other men. If you will listen to me for a few minutes, I will tell you why you are going to lose.”

Having nothing better to do with my time, I told him to go for it.

“Where were you a year ago?” he asked me. “What were you doing a year ago today?”

“I was in high school,” I told him.

“And if you survive your time here, where do you hope to be a year from now?”

“I don’t know. Back home, I guess,” I replied.

“Do you know where I was a year ago? I was in the jungle fighting. Do you know where I was five years ago? I was in the jungle fighting. Do you know where I was ten years ago? I was in the jungle fighting.”

I didn’t know what to say to that, but before I could reply, he went on; “Do you know where my father was fifteen years ago? He was in the jungle fighting the French. Do you know where he was 20 years ago? He was in the jungle fighting the French. Do you know where my grandfather was 30 years ago? He was in the jungle fighting! And his father before him, and his father before him. This is what we do! This is what we know best. And yet you think that you can come here and win in one year?”  

He shook his head and looked at me, then said “If you and one of your comrades gets into an argument and begin to fight, you hope you do not lose a tooth or he breaks your nose. For me, if I have to die for my cause, it is a good thing. What am I but one man in the large war? My death means nothing, if I can hurt my enemy at the same time. So tell me, American soldier, how can you win this war?”

And I realized that he was right. And we did lose that war. Not because the troops on the ground didn’t do their job, but because we were fighting an enemy who was never going to stop coming at us, and who played by an entirely different set of rules than we did. And because our decision makers would not allow us to do what it would take to win, because we were the “good guys.”

It’s the same way with the terrorists. How can we possibly win against an enemy who is willing to fly himself into the side of a building to kill innocent civilians, all for the glory of his cause? We want to think of ourselves as civilized and honorable, but there is no room for civilization or honor in a war. Especially not a war like we are embroiled in today.

Our enemies are zealots who think nothing of dying, or of killing women and children to get their point across. When they capture our people, they behead them on camera and broadcast it to the world. Meanwhile, it’s called torture if we don’t treat prisoners with kid gloves, or if we do anything to get information out of them that could save lives.

Our troops are required to follow a rigid set of rules so they don’t offend the sensibilities of the local people, while they dodge roadside bombs and ambushes set by many of these same locals.

We allow politicians to direct our wars. We let public opinion dictate policy. We are the good guys, in a war with animals. Their culture and history is one of war and brutality. This is what they know. This is what they do. It’s what they live for. How can we win?

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23 Comments on We’re Going To Lose The War On Terror

  1. […] I was busy building a website this weekend, Bad Nick wrote a new post for the Bad Nick Blog titled We’re Going To Lose The War On Terror. Check it out, it will give you something to think […]

  2. Robert Derivan says:

    Bad Nick, you are so right. Even some of our leading politicians who have themselves been victims of this same mentality and brutality still don’t get . What chance do we have? Someone once said “War is Hell” and until we treat it as such, we will never win.

  3. Jim Burnett says:

    Well, my friend, you had me right up to the last paragraph. The trip point for me was the “war with animals …”
    You know I respect your perceptions and perspectives, its just that I don’t believe in one-sided coins … that we might think of them as animals (or worse) is one side of the coin, the other side is that they see us in the same light …
    Can we win the war? We lost the war the day Osama and his kind got us to commit our lives and resources – as long as they can keep us engaged, they win.

  4. MichaelG says:

    We call what we did to them “torture”, because that’s the word we used when Vietnamese or Germans did the same to our people. Words have meanings, as I’m sure you know.

    If you want to say that torture is justified, go ahead. But call it what it is.

  5. Chris Guld says:

    Terrorism has been around as long as human beings. The only way to win is not to play. Has anyone read ‘Three Cups of Tea’ – he’s got the right idea. Setting up schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan … for girls. Talk about a hero!

  6. […] posted here:  We're Going To Lose The War On Terror « Bad Nick Tags: afghanistan, america, chiefs-money, clash, headline-might, point, the-country, upset-some, […]

  7. Rex says:

    Nick is right on the money. People, we are in a war and unless you want to lose, you do what has to be done. If you want to call it torture, fine; just do it. We teach our soldiers to kill with knives, guns, bombs, grenades and their bare hands and then we send them to a foreign land and tell them to kill and they kill and then we try them for murder. This is BULL#$%^. WE are in a war and if we are in a war than we should do what it takes to win or get out of it. The Geneva Convention is a bunch of dung. The paper it is written on would not even make good TP. If we are going to fight a war, do it like Sherman did during the Civil War; use a scorched earth policy and kill everyone of them, man, woman or child. There are no innocent civilians in a war. It is this way, if we don’t kill them they are going to kill us.

  8. Rex says:

    Evidently, my previous attempt to reply was rejected for being too radical, so I will put it this way. Nick is correct. When a nation goes to war, they should do everything in their power to win. Call it torture if you want, but do what you have to do to win. The bottom line is this, if we don’t, they will and they will win. I don’t like that idea. I want to live where I can be free.

    BTW, Nick, I thought this is where we could “let ‘er rip”.

  9. Illinois Snowbird says:

    Nick, I disgree with you because and you as the 18 year soldier is the reason why. No matter how discouraged we get about our democracy, democracy requires you to think. Our young men and women of every generation have been the best soldiers because they think, they know they are worth something. It not the generals or the politicians winning in Iraq, but the decent young men and women putting their lives on the line for Iraqis and us. For every act of torture or surposed torture, there are thousands of acts of kindness by these young men and women.

    It would be interesting if you could meet the same man today and if he though they won the war. Vietnam today is closer to what South was rather than the North. He is probably trying to sell you tennis shoes!

  10. Tom--Ohio says:

    Nick,

    Its usually easy to discover if someone has been in a “WAR”. Their views of how it should be run and what lines should not be crossed are pretty much the same. Had our fore fathers fought as the English did we wouldn’t be a free nation today.
    A tiger knows that for her cubs to live she must do all that is necessary including a brutal death to feed them..the key word being ” live”. I agree ..real life isn’t the movies…

  11. Wanderin' says:

    Doesn’t sound like your view was very popular by earlier comments. However, I believe you are right on. We go to battle with a different set of rules and those rules cost many of our soliders their lives. We can’t win unless we actually try to win. We all hate war but once in it, we need to try to win and then get out.

  12. Paul Stough says:

    Attacks on the USA by the likes of bin Laden will not be the undoing of our country. Israel has been the subject of terrorist attacks since it’s inception, and yet it still stands as a strong democracy.

    My fear is that there are too many people is the USA who are willing to give up our God given rights trying to stop the terrorists! Just look at how many people willingly supported the Patriot Act! It is this willingness to give up rights in hope of peace that scares me.

    Having served in the infantry in Viet-Nam, my observation of the reason that war ended the way it did was because too many Viet-Namese would rather live in tyranny that fight for democracy. I believe the same is true for Iraq and Afghanistan.

  13. Jim Burnett says we lost the war when Barrack Obama “and his kind” got us to commit our lives and resources. If I remember recent history, I believe it was George Bush. But it doesn’t matter which President got us there. We are there.

    I will agree that our enemies aren’t animals – they are human beings who happen to think and act like that tiger that Tom in Ohio talks about.

    I don’t have the solution, but the Illinois Snowbird says our men and women “over there” are doing what they can to be decent human beings while they have to defend themselves against the tigers. Maybe those men and women should be the next individuals recognized in the Today’s Hero blog.

  14. Phil says:

    I HAVE NEVER REALIZED OR KNOWN THE HISTORY OF THESE PEOPLE FIGHTING FOR SO MANY GENERATIONS. YOU SURE OPENED MY EYES AND NOW KNOW THAT WE WILL NOT WIN THESE KINDS OF WARS. OUR YOUNG MEN WILL CONTINUE TO DIE WITHOUT HAVING A PROPER REASON FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO POUR MONEY DOWN A RAT HOLE.

  15. Joy Waldrop says:

    Mr. Burnett writes “the day OSAMA and his kind” NOT … the day OBAMA and his kind … which changes the whole context of his comment. I read it the wrong way the first time as well!

    In the correct context I agree 100% and believe in my heart this is a NO WIN situation in Iraq. We need to butt out and get our people home ASAP!

  16. Jim says:

    We just spent a week with my brother-in-law who is a retired sargent-major and still works at Ft. Lewis. This base now has over 25,000 troops overseas. I found his comment about these wars interesting. “The United States is not at war the US military is at war”. Just a thought.

  17. Ann Geraghty says:

    Right on Nick! My husband was in Viet Nam and his survival was due to his ability to fight like the enemy. Good men with him who could not learn to think like the enemy died right and left, and they died for a political war, just like our current service men and women. If you are going to fight, fight to win and that means any means and with more determination and force. If any of our politicians had studied history and learned what the French and Russians learned we would not have entered into these conflicts unless we were willing to anniliate the enemy.

  18. carroll says:

    Politicans said:
    Slow down (stop-stop Gen. Patton) don’t get into Berlin before the Russians.
    Don’t cross the 38th parallel of Korea.
    Don’t bomb Hanoi (or beyond a certain river/trail, etc)…
    Don’t kill civilians (it doesn’t matter if Iraqi, Arab, Afghan…terrorists are are shooting behind the kids, from private Iraqi-Afghan homes, churches, etc). DUH?? Is it a war?
    Do you see a trend………?
    War is hell (yep, I was in the US Army -US54210xxx).
    Enter into a “war”; OR stay in USA. But quit putting military lives on the line for “a limited containment”. [i.e.-political purposes]
    PS I maybe too insignificant to see the big picture; but we (IMO) could have whipped the Russians, Chinese and/or any/all-others in the 40’s, 50’s, 60-70’s. I’m not sure in 1990’s-2000’s.

  19. Bigmurf says:

    Nick: If people don’t believe the Terrorists have won just take a trip on a airline.

  20. Cindy -- Wyoming says:

    Nick, you are 100% correct — we are NOT going to win against these zealots — not in an “on the ground” war. It will have to be done clandestinely, financially and, if torture is required to get information to protect our freedom and citizens — so be it.
    I take issue with the Illinois Snowbird. I agree that our young troops are the best and their good deeds do go a long way toward winning individual friends. However, they were sent there by politicians on false pretenses into a land that has had religious genocide and no democracy for thousands or years. Only in the movies can we successfully introduce democracy and freedom of religious choice in this area of the world. The minute all of our troops are pulled out the various religious factions will be killing each other again. Then there are the zealots who want the “Great Satan” (all non-Muslims) dead. HELLO! Acts of kindness aren’t going to win anything in the greater scheme of things. That Vietnamese soldier would tell Nick today — After YOU quit interfering in our country, we are living today the way we choose — maybe not all of us but, YOU did not determine what was right for us!
    It is time this country understands we CANNOT police the entire world nor is democracy the answer for everyone. Each country is different in their beliefs generated throughout centuries of history. What has worked for us for 200 years in a newly settled land where WE committed genocide on the natives (godless heathens) is not even a half blink in time for them. And, Democracy? As things stand now in our country, we have been losing our individual constitutional rights since the “War on Terrorism” started and is ongoing today. Not to mention printing funny money backed by countries that would like to overthrow us. So yes, individual good deeds are true blessings but count for diddly in this crazed world. We could learn a lot from Israel in this war on terror — each time you step on our toes we will crush yours!

  21. Jack says:

    I agree with Nick. Iraq is now going through “vietnamization”. This was tried once and I’m afraid the results will be the same only with even more dire aftereffects for the US.
    Oil, it floats our economy. Viet Nam had little economic after effect on the US.

  22. Connie Braidh says:

    “The War on Terrorism” is never going to be won. If they hate us and are willing to be committed to this, they will continue to try to destroy us. Our democracy by it’s very nature can not ever keep them all out. It is only a matter of time until they strike at us on our homeland again. Should we then give up? No, we need to be as vigilant as possible but also realistic. 9-11 or some other type of attack will happen again.
    The US for all it’s faults is still the BEST country to live in.
    This country has so far done it’s best no matter what President to make this world safer. Isolationism doesn’t work. You have only to look at WW1 and WW2 to understand that. You can’t take your marbles and go home because terrorism will come after you. They HATE us. Why is a big question to answer. I don’t think there are any easy answers. But sticking your head in the sand and thinking the problems will go away will not work.
    We do have to be the policemen of the world in some ways. If we don’t get involved and don’t care, you will be looking at WW3. Humans by their very nature seem to be warlike. Our history is a constant melody of wars and you have it and I want it actions. What if we don’t try to stop terrorism? What if we let some of them get some form of atomic bomb and the capacity to launch it? What if some small time dictator uses his nuclear capacity on his neighbor? What then? Will you who advocate isolationism point fingers at our government and say, “Why didn’t you stop this?”
    There are no correct answers here. But we as a people have to continue to do what we can to control this world to try to maintain some kind of peace in the world or there won’t be any more world for us to live on.

  23. Larry H50 says:

    How do you stop people who are willing to die to kill you?

    How many cockroaches do you ask the exterminator to leave behind when they’re done?

    NOT comparing cockroaches to people! War is terrible. It represents hatred and envy . . .remember Cain and Abel? If your survival depends on action, you’ll take the action.

    I agree with the comment: “the U.S. military is at war.” The rest of us are watching.

    Thank you,
    LarryH50

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