Babatim at Free Range International has a new update from the ground in Afghanistan. One quote struck me; either for the truth it holds or its stunning audacity (probably a little of both):
Less experience[d] cadres will do one of three things; stay in place because they are too freaked out to move, break contact and run because they are too freaked out to stay, or quickly surrender because they are too freaked out to fight. Afghans do not have a cultural history of standing firm in battle and slugging it out toe to toe with heavy infantry. Only men of the west fight using that style of warfare which is why western armies have dominated those of other lands since the battle of Plataea in 479 B.C. I am not saying the Afghan Taliban does not have brave fighters….they do but brave individual fighters do not a cohesive combat unit make. The shock of rapid violent assault by multiple platoons from multiple angles is something only a well trained, well equipped, well supported western army can handle. [emphasis mine]
This, of course, is the same thesis of Victor Davis Hanson’s Culture and Carnage (later retitled more directly as Why the West Has Won) – that the west has a superior, innate ability to win the kinds of battles that shape the entire world. There are two sides to this – execution and will – and while the west has proved itself quite adept at winning (even so, not always), its will to fight in the first place seems diminished and continues to shrink.
The metaphors and parallels you could draw are all contradictory and point in very different directions: the U.S. as Rome to Britain’s Greece, the Greek bankruptcy, 300, a rousing speech from Aragorn, John Ford/John Wayne movies… Perhaps that’s just my train of thought leaving the station at full steam.
But what if the west starts abdicating its position, and what if it continues to cringe in the face of particular struggles? Western society is so risk-averse now that the slightest risk of harm – to regular, professional soldiers – now leads to accusations of “authoritarian” leadership. For heading into danger in the military! Thankfully the Dutch example is not pervasive throughout NATO (nor the Netherlands themselves, for that matter).
The Dutch have the 7th highest per capita rate of any nation in Afghanistan, Steve Coll calculated. But 21 dead is now enough to call off an entire deployment of a wealthy, western NATO member. Europe is certainly in decline. America too, albeit at a slower pace. But that’s just when the Netherlands needs to reassert itself as a full and willing member of the west. As does the rest of Europe. All need to be willing to defend themselves and their interests, with force if necessary.
Stand, men of the west!