Small Wars Journal

Why Victory in Mosul Is Overblown

Why Victory in Mosul Is Overblown by Daniel L. Davis - The National Interest

The battle for Mosul is all but completed, and any question about the strategic significance of its conclusion has yet to be answered by military leaders. That being so, it is time to start asking the difficult questions, such as why the current administration—which ran and won on the promise to change American foreign policy—continues to follow the path of its two previous predecessors in embarking on tactical combat missions that do not contribute to U.S. national security nor the accomplishment of strategic objectives?

The next tough question: Why does Washington continue expending the lives and limbs of its service members and hundreds of billions of dollars on lethal military operations that not only fail to enhance American security, but arguably diminish it? …

As should be painfully clear by now, there is no military solution to the scourge of ISIS. U.S. leaders seem to believe that America can kill its way out of this mess—if it bombs terror groups, deploys more ground forces and trains enough foreign troops, the thinking goes, America will eventually kill enough “bad guys” to quell the threat. Such calculus is out of step with the past sixteen years.

The conditions that allowed ISIS (and Al Qaeda before it) to flourish still persist today. Killing legitimate enemies of the United States is a valid course of action when necessary, but even that is not a substitute for a strategy. The complex regional problem at the root of Middle Eastern violence is not something the United States can solve. Trying to do so has proven to be both expensive and ineffective. That’s why America isn’t “winning.” It’s not because its tactics just aren’t right or because it has applied too little power to a given situation. America isn’t winning because it’s stubbornly using the wrong tactical instrument to solve the problem while avoiding sound strategy that might actually accomplish American objectives.

It is time to embark on a new course of action…

Read on.


From our article above:

BEGIN ANNOTATED (see my items in parenthesis) QUOTES:

The conditions (what conditions?) that allowed ISIS, and Al Qaeda before it, to flourish still persist today. ...

The complex regional problem (what complex regional problem?) at the root of Middle Eastern violence is not something the United States can solve. ...

That’s why America isn’t “winning” (what does "winning," for America, mean in the Greater Middle East today?) ...

America isn’t winning because it’s stubbornly using the wrong tactical instrument (what tactical instrument?) to solve the problem (what problem?) while avoiding sound strategy (what strategy?) that might actually accomplish American objectives (what are American objectives in the Greater Middle East today?) ...

America must seek to diplomatically and politically reduce the reasons (what reasons?) men join terror organizations in the first place ...


Now, let's use the following example to see if we can find an answer to each and every one of the questions I have posed above:


Example: The Jewish Zealots versus the Pagan Romans:


A member of a Jewish sect noted for its uncompromising opposition to pagan Rome and the polytheism it professed. The Zealots were an aggressive political party whose concern for the national and religious life of the Jewish people led them to despise even Jews who sought peace and conciliation with the Roman authorities. A census of Galilee ordered by Rome in AD 6 spurred the Zealots to rally the populace to noncompliance on the grounds that agreement was an implicit acknowledgment by Jews of the right of pagans to rule their nation.

Extremists among the Zealots turned to terrorism and assassination and became known as Sicarii (Greek sikarioi, “dagger men”). They frequented public places with hidden daggers to strike down persons friendly to Rome. In the first revolt against Rome (ad 66–70) the Zealots played a leading role, and at Masada in 73 they committed suicide rather than surrender the fortress, but they were still a force to be reckoned with in the first part of the following century. A few scholars see a possible relationship between the Zealots and the Jewish religious community mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls.


Bottom Line Question:

If the Jewish Zealots had, in these earlier days, been able to readily and easily visit and/or live in Rome, would we expect that they (the Jewish Zealots), then, might have likewise carried out their terrorists attacks there?

(If my example above has value, then [a] how might we answer my questions in parenthesis above and [b] what lessons might the U.S./the West today learn from ancient Rome?)