The US has been hamstrung by lawyers since the beginning of the Vietnam War. That war – albeit undeclared – unmoored the US from the historical insights and lessons-learned conveyed by the likes of Sun Tzu, Napoleon, Carl Von Clausewitz, and William T. Sherman. Stay with me on the latter, as all will be elucidated before the end of this article.
During the Vietnam War – a counter-insurgency campaign as opposed to a conventional war – the concept of “body count” became a key metric for measuring the success of the military campaign against the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong: the number of enemy soldiers killed during American operations was a sort of measuring stick.
Other concepts include attrition and exchange ratios. Attrition is the concept of “wearing down the enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and materiel.” Exchange ratios are a metric associated with attrition that correspond to the number of own forces versus enemy losses of a particular category of military capability.
All of these nuances are elements of the evolving concept of proportionality as applied to modern warfare. The principle of proportionality was focused on limiting the damage caused by military operations by requiring that the effects of the means and methods employed should not be disproportionate to the military advantage sought. Proportionality has been incorporated into military thinking partly because of the “horrors of war” that were directly observed by the civilian population for the first time during the Vietnam War. The result has been a reluctance to use all means available to defeat enemies on the battlefield due to “political considerations,” which limited the use of specific weapons and constrained rules of engagement, the latter allowing lawyers a place on the modern battlefield to adjudicate whether individual soldiers violated shifting rules of engagement.
The battlefield execution of Iranian Republican Guard Corps – Quds Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qassem Soleimani and Kata’ib Hezbollah founder and leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis via a drone strike on 3 January at the Baghdad International Airport finally broke the glass on the use of DISPROPORTIONATE means to defeat America’s enemies. And that is a great thing for the fathers and mothers of US military personnel because political considerations are going to be relegated to secondary or tertiary importance when their sons and daughters are on current and future battlefields. A return to disproportionate actions will restore deterrence, facilitate workable battlefield rules of engagement, expedite military actions resulting in clearly definable mission success criteria, and, ultimately, save American lives.
Intrepid independent researcher NameRedacted was suspended multiple times on Twitter for what amounts to hurting the feelings of leftists and challenging their blatant lies. In his last incarnation as “Harold Finch,” he was subsequently suspended and has since moved to Telegram where he runs a repository consisting of important factoids, links, and personal commentary. He can be found here.
In that capacity, he posts important threads from time to time that deserve a wider audience. In this instance, he provides us with a cogent view on the “death of proportionality” and the implications for responding to future Iranian-backed aggression. Here is what he has to say.
The great Prussian General and renowned military strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote in his classic treatise ‘On War’ that the country most likely to win in a conflict is the one that recognized the concept of Total War, and that “proportionate” responses only serve to PROLONG and DELAY the end of conflict because they fail to destroy the enemy’s willpower and capability to pursue and make war.
The concept of Total War requires a response to an attack that is so brutal, harsh, and overwhelming that the enemy either loses his will to continue, or that so much damage is inflicted on his ability to continue to make war that he cannot continue even if he has the will to keep fighting. Here is a direct link to some interesting reading on von Clausewitz on the concept of total war and use of military power. And here is a LOT more.
A classic example of Total War was President Harry Truman’s commitment in 1945 to using nuclear weapons against Japan until the Japanese unconditionally surrendered or could no longer fight. Another example of this was hunting Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda leadership to the ends of the earth, ongoing and forever. Yet another was the endless pursuit of Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Qurashi, the Iraqi-born leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), and Imad Fayez Mughniyeh (alias al-Hajj Radwan), the founding member of Lebanon’s Islamic Jihad Organization and the number two in Hezbollah’s leadership.
The Iranian regime has a blind spot to disproportionate response because they have enjoyed relative immunity from our wrath in spite of 40 years of unconventional war and thousands of American victims. The targeting and killing of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis signals the American government has revoked the de facto Iranian immunity.
Soleimani was the successor to the most murderous and brutal terrorist who ever lived, Hezbollah #2 Imad Fayez Mugniyeh. Mugniyeh met his end when a C-4 charge in the headrest of his Mercedes SUV exploded and decapitated him. Soleimani and his comrades believed that he was immune because he was an officer in the Iranian government paramilitary force, the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Force (IRGC-QF).
To turn this discussion around from an Iranian point of view, imagine if the US government had hired someone like Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi to kill Iranian civilians and soldiers. They would be justified in killing him as expeditiously as possible. But that’s not how the US responded to Soleimani’s perfidy over the years. The Iranians have watched for 4 decades starting with the takeover and seizure of 52 American hostages at the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. We never, ever responded, even proportionally, even though those hostages were held for 444 days. Thus began 40 years of watching America’s tepid response to repeated Iranian attacks, especially through proxy militia and special groups around the Middle East.
Then the game was changed decisively by President Trump. The most important figure in Iranian foreign policy and national security matters was executed with an anti-tank missile by the people he was trying to murder.
The United States has awakened after a long sleep. The Iranian regime went too far. The President of the United States warned the Iranian regime repeatedly for 3 years not to kill any more Americans or there would be extreme consequences. Then, as reported by Reuters:
In mid-October, Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani met with his Iraqi Shi’ite militia allies at a villa on the banks of the Tigris River, looking across at the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad.
The Revolutionary Guards commander instructed his top ally in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other powerful militia leaders to step up attacks on U.S. targets in the country using sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran, two militia commanders and two security sources briefed on the gathering told Reuters.
The strategy session, which has not been previously reported, came as mass protests against Iran’s growing influence in Iraq were gaining momentum, putting the Islamic Republic in an unwelcome spotlight. Soleimani’s plans to attack U.S. forces aimed to provoke a military response that would redirect that rising anger toward the United States, according to the sources briefed on the gathering, Iraqi Shi’ite politicians and government officials close to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Soleimani’s efforts ended up provoking the U.S. attack on Friday that killed him and Muhandis, marking a major escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran.
The 40 years of inaction and Iranian escalation convinced the Iranians that President Trump wasn’t serious. The execution of Qassem Soleimani shattered that belief.
While the Iranian leadership is doubtless shaken, it is highly probably that they will begin attempting to retaliate using proxies in the region and elsewhere. What they don’t understand is that the Total War philosophy now applies to directly to Iran. The 40 years of their immunity vanished the moment that Katyusha rocket killed a US contractor. That event set the planning in motion that led to the drone attack that killed Soleimani and al-Muhandis.
Here’s what to expect from the United States in terms of the next disproportionate response:
- 52 targets. The President spoke publicly, stating that 52 targets inside Iran are being considered if Iran responds with violence.
- Oil sites. The beating heart of the financial tool that pays for the IRGC and the terrorist operations worldwide and the internal repression forces. The regime ends if we turn off the oil, and those facilities are
- The Iranian leadership themselves. Up until now, Khameini, Soleimani and others have ordered and facilitated the murder of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the Middle East without fear of personal repercussions. That ended the day Soleimani died. If the regime leadership continues its reign of terror now, they will be risking their own lives.
Saddam Hussein. Osama Bin Laden. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Qassem Soleimani – one of their own. We found them, and we killed them after they attacked us. We are very good at finding people, and Khameini and everyone under him are now betting their own lives.
From Delta Force, to F-35s to B-2 Spirits to Navy SEALs – we can carry out the threat, and the artificial constraint of “proportionality” is now gone. The days of immunity from response are over. We will do whatever it takes to end the Iranian regimes reign of terror. Let this serve as a warning.
The Iranian regime is a theocratic dictatorship. Ayatollah Khameini is the top man who runs it all. If the United States destroys the pipelines Iran uses to bring oil to its tankers for export, the regime goes bankrupt overnight, and the IRGC, Basij (IRGC paramilitary security forces), and MOSI thugs that Khameini uses to murder his people and suppress uprisings lose everything. No more paychecks.
Does Khameini want to be a martyr? Unlikely. He wants to keep on living and continue being a dictator who is all powerful in his oppressed country. If the Iranian regime wants to kill more Americans, the regime will find itself in jeopardy – starting with the dictator himself. And THAT was the personal message delivered to Khameini with the execution of his top general, Qassem Soleimani. Welcome to Total War. You’ve been warned.