chapter 1. general “little phil” sheridan: “the only good indian is a dead indian.”
“little phil” sheridan knew the aim of war, and its full cost, serving as grant’s cavalry commander and then conducting the campaigns after the war which destroyed the indians of the great plains as a military and political force, and as societies. he was, as a matter of fact, simply doing to the indians no less than he had done to the confederate states of america and the societies which formed it, no less thoroughly and, no more. roundly excoriated for having said that the only good indian is a dead indian, rather than expressing a racist’s sentiment he may simply have been clearly expressing the soldier’s belief that the task of defeating an enemy in war devolves around the task of defeating that enemy so thoroughly that he does not fight you again, … , and again, … , and again. for sheridan, the task of war was to decisively put an end to conflict, not to promote it forever, by killing your enemy and destroying the means supporting his fight. sheridan did to the plains indians as he had done to the confederate bread basket of the shenandoah valley, destroying buffalo and granary alike.
no person is as contemptuous of the futility or empty gesture of fighting for no purpose as the professional soldier, or of fighting that engenders future conflict: and war is most certainly a futile exercise if not conducted in such a manner as reasonably calculated to foreclose additional fighting over the same issues or circumstances. the whole point of fighting and killing your enemy is to do it in such a manner that his ability to fight and his willingness to fight again is taken out of him. why fight at all, if you fight only in such a manner as to guarantee future inconclusive warfare?
to sheridan, to fight an enemy in such a manner and only upon his terms, so that he might rise and fight again when it seemed opportune, would have seemed, … , not wise to say the least of the matter, and ridiculous in the extreme..
which brings us to today’s topic, and that is, how will israel do in the upcoming war, and in the wars likely to follow close upon it. i speak, of course, of the conflict brought on by syria and hezbollah, once they have secured their political hold upon lebanon. it will be the war orchestrated by iran to divert israel’s attention from the nuclear project in isfahan, and to preoccupy israel so that she does not launch a pre-emptive strike to take the facility out..
the short answer is supplied, i think, in phil sheridan’s likely remarks after having watched an arab & israeli war, “how in the hell can you kill anyone in 10 days of fighting?”
the longer answer to the question posed, is that israel will do splendidly in the next war blowing up targets of one sort of another, and to the extent that the arabs display an almost uncanny ability to be in targets when struck by aerial attack or artillery bombardment, she will inflict a certain amount of incidental casualties. but, israel will not do what is necessary in war, and that is, she will not kill her enemies in droves, as “little phil” sheridan would rapidly recognize. she will allow them to live to fight israel another day, and another day after that. surely, somewhere, phil sheridan will be profoundly confused. he simply will not understand a nation that wars against an enemy who has sworn its annihilation, by calling that enemy on the phone to warn of a bombardment, in order to limit casualties: he would be seen and heard in a corner, muttering to himself, “don’t they understand, ‘the only good arab is a dead arab.’”
so, in some respect we will see a reprise of israeli success in previous wars.
and, in some respects, we shall see the birth of future conflict, because israel cannot bring herself to kill her enemies in righteous self defense, and it should be added, in sufficient numbers to forestall their future attacks. israel cannot get the notion straight that war is about killing in order to keep from being killed. déjà vu all over again.
we will see footage of israel smart air weapons destroying trucks, tanks, planes on the ground, and buildings, and after a few days even the arabs will wise up and leave them mostly vacant, or sleep detached from them.
but, israel will not kill her enemies. indeed, she will take extraordinary measures against doing so, and she shall be & will feel genuinely rebuked if she kills civilians by accident, although you may rest assured that phil sheridan would have a hard time understanding just what a “civilian” is in a populace that supports, aids and abets, and allows its children to be used as shields while upon the battlefield watching the adult.
the male arab populace called “boys” the rest of the world over, will be at the scene of the battle watching their fathers and uncles and brothers fight, and they will learn how to fight and take part in it. they are in essence in battle field training wherever they are near, and wherever there is a battlefield, but israel will not target them, so they wander brazenly throughout the battles, being “shields,” fetching weapons from the fallen, running errands and being communications couriers, knowing all the while that blind luck alone will kill some of their numbers, but purposeful israel conduct will not.
and, yes, phil sheridan will wonder at this.
so, israel will wage her defensive war aggressively, but in a very limited manner, and she will use the ordnance at her disposal to destroy hard and soft targets, and she will advance upon arab positions and knock them out.
and, then, she will come to a stop, and look to negotiate the continued existence of her enemy, because having destroyed all the materials and strategic objectives necessary to defend herself and remove the threat of arab aggressions against her cities and her towns, she will have nothing left to do but to kill her enemy, and that she will refuse to do.
israel will have destroyed the caches of small arms that she and the united states and the euro’s have supplied the arabs, and she will have destroyed the armored personnel carriers and anti aircraft weapons given to the arabs, and she will have destroyed the unite effectiveness of the “troops” trained by herself and the united states, in a former life known as hamas and abbas, … , again to the utter amazement of the ghost of little phil sheridan, … , and, then things will grind to a halt.
because she will reach a point where there is only to kill people. the enemy.
and, she doesn’t have the will to do it.
nor, the means.
the one follows the other, in a military sense, as we shall explore.
“little phil” sheridan lived in an age where the weapons of war were rudimentary: muskets that could not reliably hit targets much past 40 or 50 yards, rifles that were ineffective much past 150 yards, and cannons that were nothing more than random events at much over ½ mile in range. air power was hot air observation balloons, and communication on the battlefield was by battle flags, semaphores and trumpets, and mounted couriers who carried hand scribbled commands.
but phil sheridan understood warfare, and he and a very well trained cadre of west point graduates knew how to carry it on, as did his contemporaries and his enemies, and in the civil war they managed to kill over 700,000 combatants, and inflict an unknown number of civilian casualties. they did it just like it was done on the medieval battlefields, e.g., that is they got close to each other and fought savagely, so they could achieve the purpose at hand.
they did it with infantry engagement, and by bringing their soldiers into such proximity with the enemy that even with the technology available to them, which wasn’t much, they knew with assurance that they could kill their enemy.
these officers, proficient in the science and art of napoleonic maneuver, and well on their way to inventing the engineered entrenchment defenses of world war one, knew with fatalistic assurance that likewise, the enemy would kill their soldiers, and also would kill them, in great numbers. indeed, i know of no other conflict in u.s. history in which so many general officers died in battle, or in which so many participated in battle, often leading bitterly contested assaults against dug in and entrenched positions.
and, at precisely this point israel will cease doing a splendid job in the coming battles, because at this point israel refuses to join further battle. it is because israel has eschewed the key element of battle by which the attack upon an enemy is carried home, and that missing element of battle is the infantry engagement where the true killing takes place, whether by small arms fire or by artillery. israel has left the infantry engagement out of her battle doctrine, and simply neglected adequately training and preparing her troops for that part of battle, … , where the killing takes place.
nowhere is this neglect and lack of training shown more starkly or dramatically, paradoxically enough, than in the performance of israel’s elite commando forces, who are among the best in the world at what they do: unfortunately, what they do is not dedicated to killing, or, more precisely, what they do is not dedicated to killing in numbers. they arrive on scene, by stealth or subterfuge, they kill a few enemy very precisely and surgically, and they then extract the hostages or liberate a captured bus, and they leave.
they are not dedicated to prolonged engagement, which, as a matter of fact, runs true of all the elite forces in the world. there is a reason for this. it is because the training and expense involved in producing such men, makes their use in battle profligate, and no one will waste such troops.
and, this precisely reveals the secret about infantry. to have infantry die in battle is not expensive, it is not profligate, and it is not wasteful in the military and strategic analysis, in the professional military person’s way of looking at such things. that infantry die in battle in most militaries in an accepted truth of the matter, even by the infantry and those who command and those who comprise it. in order for you to kill your enemy in large numbers in protracted battle, you have to expose your own men, your fellow citizens, your sons and daughters, your nephews and nieces, … , yourself, … , to the risks of ordinary battle such as are deemed acceptable. it is understood that when you expose your infantry to close order battle, that even if they are as good as your training can make ordinary infantry, some of them will be killed. and, it is understood by each who fights in the infantry, that he or she may be killed.
and, this is accepted.
now, it is also true, that when you expose elite troops to close order battle, usually inadvertently when they are surprised (hey, it happens even to the best), some of them will be killed as well. this is not accepted, either in the israeli military, or in the united states military. navy seals, for example, are too valuable to be exposed to death at the hands of some illiterate and untrained rag head, who launches a bullet at random which by an unhappy fortuity strikes a superbly trained warrior..
take, by way of illustration, the marine assault upon fallujah, or the marines and allies rooting al sadr’s forces out of the various cemeteries adjacent to central mosques in iraq. these battles were pressed against the islamic jihadists with the finest infantry on the face of the earth, the most highly trained, the most motivated, the deadliest infantry on earth: even they, given superior fire power and training, given levels of marksmanship and fire discipline and accuracy only dreamt of by their foes, … , even they, the finest infantry in the world, took casualties, and sustained deaths in their fellows.
and, i might add, in this i would be supported by phil sheridan, … , they suffered casualties on a predictable basis, and at predictable rates: the military arts are also a science, after all, given to intense scrutiny and study for millennia. that they did not suffer more is testament to their fighting skill and resolve, their doctrine of swift movement and always pressing the attack, and their marksmanship skills, … , but even so, marines died.
our military command understands this, many having come up through the infantry and many having experienced infantry battle. our society accepts this, if only begrudgingly, … , but, the portion of our society who contributes the soldiers and marines who die in combat for love of country, and for duty and honor, … , understands this. it is an accepted reality.
it is not an accepted reality in israel.
her citizens do not accept that her sons and daughters and nieces and nephews die in infantry combat. the numbers are too high, the price too dear, to sustain.
as a result, israeli battle doctrine is neither geared toward nor accepting of combat infantry death. as a result of this, israeli infantry is not adequately trained in the doctrine or the experience of prolonged close order combat. not having trained intensely for it, not having a history of being particularly good at it, … , israeli soldiers are not very discipline or motivated or adept at infantry warfare. as a result, when israel is confronted with infantry battle, she declines it and does not wage it. i can guarantee you, that u.s. marines would have made short work of entrenched hezbollah in southern lebanon. and, i can guarantee you, they would have incurred casualties. but, such defenses would not have held up a marine combined assault, and not for days, as they did the israeli offensive.
phil sheridan would have a very hard time comprehending this statement, and even a harder time accepting it when he saw the reality of it, but, israel will stop fighting the next war when she has secured her population from attack, when she has destroyed the assets of her enemy capable of carrying on such attack, and when she begins to suffer combat infantry deaths in any sort of meaningful number. it is a price she is unwilling to pay. and, because she is unwilling to pay it, it means that she does not and will not again kill enough of her arab attackers to make it simply not worth the risk ever to attack her again. israel does not engage in this sort of infantry battle where she could kill vast numbers of her enemy, because she will not accept the level of her own combat dead in order to kill her enemy.
so, she fights the same war to the same point and the same lack of conclusion, over and over again.
in the later part of the civil war, in a battle called “cold harbor” with the confederacy defending the approaches to richmond, virginia the union army suffered as many as 6,000 killed (according to some authorities, fewer according to others) in a single day, attacking entrenched confederate soldiers who had the nearby strategic high ground. this death and carnage was not suffered at the infliction of machine gun fire or high rate of fire by modern field artillery, but by fire from single shot muzzle loading black power rifles firing round lead balls, and front loading blackpowder cannon firing no doubt grape shot and nails, and the like.
the u.s. army at normandy suffered about 2,500 killed in action on the 1st day of normandy, over an invasion front of nearly 40 miles. the united states marines did not suffer such death on the first day of the iwo jima invasion. it is generally accepted that no other bloodier single day of battle involving the american military has ever been fought.
such death on a battlefield occurs only when infantry joins battle, toe to toe, and is intent on serious killing.
this is the weakness of israel. she will not engender the risk to her troops, to put them in such killing proximity to their enemy, so that they may kill enough arabs to dissuade them from ever attacking israel again. this is the weakness of israel, and the thing that phil sheridan will never comprehend, this reluctance to kill in order to assure that war does not happen again, any time soon.
this explains why the arabs have attacked israel with such frequency even given the stinging defeats they have suffered, and it is because in terms of warfare, war & repeated wars have cost the arabs nothing. they are replenished the supplies and materials they squander by the russians and the euros and the americans, and by euro and american oil dollars. and, yes, even by israeli subsidy. the arabs really suffer very little meaningful loss of material and wealth in these wars, as israel does not destroy property the arabs have to buy, and does not attack arab cities or civilians, and does not attack arab infrastructure in any meaningful sense. and when it comes to the killing time, especially then, the arabs know that the israelis will not do the killing in the numbers that the arabs understand and appreciate. the palestinians, for instance, know that the jordanians will kill them in appreciable numbers, and hamas and abbas know they are capable of slaughtering each other, but they know that the israelis will not, and so the palestinians have no hesitancy to attack israel. they are not afraid of israeli reprisal, as it does not amount to much.
israel kills a few arab troops. and, this given the arab birth rate and demographics, is something that is in almost endless supply, in fact, demographically the arabs are simply awash in militarily eligible single males, … , and, is in the starkest terms possible, a resource that is remarkably cheap for the arabs.
in short, given the way the israelis fight, the wars mounted by the arabs are just about cost free. it literally costs an arab country nothing to go to war against israel. it is sad, but it is very true.
they have all the population in the world which they are ready to sacrifice; they are willing to suffer untold deaths, if only for the opportunity to destroy israel.
so, war will be constant and recurring, because the wars cost the arabs nothing, in comparative terms. they are for free, in a geopolitical sense. so, they will happen again and again, and very soon.
this is the weakness of the israel stance on battlefield death.
this is the greatness of the israeli stance on battlefield death. it confounds me: it is highly ethical, but it is a foolish existential posture, as it places israel’s very existence in continual peril. you cannot be an ethical voice in the world, if you do not exist. it confounds phil sheridan. he simply would not understand the reluctance of the israelis to kill their enemies, even though he witnessed the same thing from his countrymen years ago, even as they told him, fight our wars against the plains indians, just do not kill too many of them.
at some point, it seems to me, israel will have to kill enough arabs to persuade them to stop attacking her, and in order to do so, she is going to have to accept infantry deaths, and contend with that by making and training her infantry equal to the task at hand. israelis have to accept that many of her finest will have to die in order to secure the continued existence of israel.
it is that simple.
either that, or fight this war repeatedly, forever.
chapter 2. yassar arafat: war is free, we fight until we win.
it is my contention that war costs the arab states nothing to wage. they will wage war that costs them nothing until they finally win, … , it costs them nothing to do so.
it is israel’s destruction to follow this endless cycle of conflict.
if this is so, one might ask, why then do the arab states not wage war more often, on a continuous basis, as it were. there are, quite succinctly, two answers to that. the first answer is that they are, and they have. the arab states, the o.i.c., the muslim brotherhood, wage continuous war on israel through their proxies and have done so, since the inception of the state of israel. black september, the p.l.o., hamas, abbas, hezbollah and factions and groups to numerous to mention. the second answer is that while war costs islam and the pan-arabic community nothing, the loss of wars is quite costly to one group that tends to mind to its own interests very closely, and those are the persons who occupy the position of state craft and people the governments of arabia: the politicians. to lose war for them is unemployment, usually via the mechanism of death. the inertia of governments that wish to stay in governance is the one inhabitation of even more overt state aggression against israel.
the truth in these assertions is found in the state of iran, which is governed by a group of muslim clerics who really have no vested interested in seeing iran governed by a secular government, and, indeed, are hostile to the very nature of government as it rivals the role of islam. and, from them, we see that the inhibiting factor, which acts to prevent the more frequent occurrence of war in order to protect regimes, does not really function.
the leaders of iran are quite willing to go to war with israel, even if it means the destruction of the country of iran and the death of many its citizens, if by doing so israel can be destroyed to the profit of islam. recently a high cleric said that even if israel were to kill 15 million iranians in a nuclear retaliation for an iranian nuclear attack which destroyed israel, the price would be worth it to islam.
the mystery is why no one in the west takes such assertions seriously. the greater mystery is why no one in israel takes such assertions seriously.
there is no utility in peace for the arab states. they cannot destroy israel through the installation of a lasting peace, although, they can destroy israel through a protracted process of negotiating peace. there is no subtle irony or hidden meaning in that sentence, we watch the whole wretched process every day on the news, each israeli concession to the peace process met by a new and more outrageous arab negotiating posture.
there is no great risk posed by war for the arab states, save the occasional regime change associated with prosecuting unsuccessful war. for the arab states war represents no great loss of life, in any demographic sense, nor does it represent destruction of infrastructure, or loss of capital or productivity in the economy. it does represent a rather salutary minor diminution of a vast demographic bubble of perfectly useless boys and unattached, uneducated and illiterate single males, who are, at best, something of a management problem for the regimes that have them.
no great penalty awaits the arab state that fights israel and looses, because just when israel obtains the situation in which she could inflict major damage, she stops waging war.
she is reluctant to deliver the killing shot.
were “little phil” sheridan present, he would growl, “the only good arab is a dead arab.” and, he would mean it. if phil sheridan waged war upon them, he would kill them until they were beaten, and knew they were beaten, and he would kill them until they were not a threat to make war against israel ever again, and perhaps an extra dollop just past that. to be sure. simple as that.
as it stands right now, israel is faced with the prospect of internecine attack by the arab state proxies, and the very predictable intermittent flare up of major conflicts waged by the arab states.
she is also faced with the prospect of iran either obtaining the nuclear weapon, in which case iran will use it against israel, see “war and logic,” this blog, the link:
or, she is face with the prospect of destroying the nuclear weapon by conventional attack from time to time, in order to prevent iran from getting it.
i make a modest proposal. if israel is unwilling to kill sufficient arabs by use of conventional arms in conventional wars because she is unwilling to bear the price of very high losses of her own infantry, as discussed above, then the only way to deter islam and the arab states from fighting continuously is to use the nuclear option against them. if israel cannot bring herself to fight conventional war in such a manner as to kill sufficient numbers of arabs to deter them from these incessant wars, then she will either be destroyed by the arabs waging conventional war, or by the iranians using their own nuclear arsenal. if israel cannot break out of this strategic stranglehold that she is in, then she has only one option left to preserve her existence, and that is to use her nuclear weapons on the arab/islamic states.
history has precedent, to justify the use of nuclear weapons under such onslaught.--
even at the end of world war ii, and the losses of iwo jima and okinawa, japan occupied a formidable military presence. though her blue water navy was in ruins, she had a capable submarine force with blue water ocean operational capacity, she had nearly 1200 combat planes in deep revetments immune from air attack, and she had 6 million troops in the field and under arms in and around the islands, and dispersed throughout china and asia.
she had the interior lines of transport and communication to get those troops to the home islands, and she had the interior lines of defense by which to wage war against the united states.
and, she had the religious, cultural, and societal wherewithal by which to wage continuing war.
two bombs, “little boy” and “fat boy” dropped on hiroshama and nagasacki took the fight from japan. it did so by shaking to its very foundations japanese religious belief in the infallibility of the emperor. it did so by the removal of the religious and social and cultural elites whose fanaticism waged and promoted the war, this removal institutionalized by the american occupation of japan so wisely engineered by douglas macarthur.
and, the use of the nuclear weapon demonstrated convincingly to the japanese that the americans had the capability of killing them and the will to kill them in sufficient numbers and with sufficient dispatch on a continuing basis, if need be, to fatally hurt japan, and to prevent her from waging war. and, it convincingly demonstrated that the u.s. could inflict these horrendous damages upon japan no risks of further meaningful casualties to the allied forces.
japan has been deterred from aggressive warfare for 60 years, such were the lessons imparted upon her by those two bombs. the lives saved from the rigors of brutal war by the use of those two weapons are incalculable. if you doubt that assertion from me, ask the chinese, the viet namese, the thais and the american soldiers and marines who would have mounted the invasion of japan.
japan, warlike, bellicose and aggressive, embraced pacifism. (from which it now emerges, given the “genius” of barrack obama, but that is another story.)
i suggest that israel use her nuclear weapons upon islam and the arab states in a similar fashion, to deter the arabs forever from war, and to put an end to this cycle of interminable war which ultimately will enable iran to obtain nuclear weapons, which she will use on israel.
israel must pursue this course, or face oblivion. because, in the words of doctor john, the wonderful new orleans blues pianist, the arabs will simply do it wrong until they do it right, if they are not deterred.
as it stands right now, and given the posture of israel described above, there simply is no downside to the arab states’s and pan-arabic jihad’s continuing and unremitting attack on israel. they will attack her, and wage war upon her, until they win and destroy her, and send her to her oblivion.
phil sheridan did not fight war so that he could turn around and be faced with the prospect of fighting it again. he fought war, to conclude the fighting, one way or the other. and, the only way he knew was the soldier’s method, when diplomacy fails, and that was by killing one’s enemy until he had no fight left in him.
need anyone reading this essay be told, if you have gotten this far, what the current state of world diplomacy is?
if it comes to war, and it will, remember this as apropos, “the only good arab is a dead arab.”
it is, in the very starkness of its assertion, seemingly so cruel and callous and indifferent, in reality a noble and elevating sentiment. it is, afterall, the only sentiment that really secures peace through war.
john jay @ 05.13.2009
 in the recent foray into gaza israel began to call up infantry reserves, after she began moving tanks into some of the more urban areas of gaza, having run out of ready targets from the air. i read an interview conducted of several reservists who had just been called up, and who were justifiably quite worried about being thrust into a combat situation with very little preparation. but, they were very relieved, they told the interviewer, to find out that when they arrived at the combat zone, the israeli regulars, the “professionals,” were taking every precaution possible to keep them from harm’s way. the regulars, the “professionals,” were holding the infantry back from battle, back from direct contact with the hamas irregulars. i knew then that the battle was off: it is too expensive for anyone to kill opposing troops one at a time with tank rounds, and the israelis had already decided it was too expensive to kill infantry with infantry, even irregulars like hamas. the point is, infantry is not withheld from battle, infantry is to seek out and join battle. in every sense of the word, including the most forlorn, pathetic irony of the matter, infantry is expendable. it is the least expensive of all fighting, the most subject to “waste.”
 the confederate forces may have experienced as many as 1,500 battle deaths over the same period.