, 2007




over 2 million served
Julia Gorin


Media Appearances

Burt Prelutsky

Tuesday 5/30/07
9-11am E/P
Bloom & Politan
Open Court

with Lisa Bloom and Vinnie Politan

Wednesday 5/31/07
The Dennis Miller Show
Go to website to
find station and time
in your area
or listen to stream


Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco
by Burt Prelutsky

America Alone
by Mark Steyn

The CRO Store




Rewriting the Rules of War

by J. F. Kelly, Jr. [writer] 5/16/07

Before the United States ever decides to go to war again, our leaders need first to achieve some consensus on what we mean to accomplish by it and how far we are willing to go to win it. Otherwise, we will again be subjecting our troops to unnecessary confusion, stress and personal risk, as we did in Vietnam and are doing now in the war on terrorism.

First, let’s try to be clear on the meaning of war. It is deadly business, both for the troops who fight it and for the civilians who are inevitably caught up in its violence. It is ugly and cruel, not exciting and glamorous as it was so often was portrayed by Hollywood until “Saving Private Ryan” brought some measure of its horror to the screen.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Wars are actually fought primarily by young men barely out of high school who are still maturing and whose values are still in the formative stage. They don’t have the luxury of analyzing and weighing the morality of their actions from safe and comfortable living rooms and TV studios. They are required to make split second decisions on whether or not to use lethal force in situations where their own lives and those of their comrades, with whom they have formed a close bond, may hang in the balance.

Police, it may be argued, are often in the same position. But there is a substantial difference between law enforcement and war fighting. Law enforcement personnel are trained to keep the peace. Law enforcement remains largely reactive in spite of emphasis on community policing. Working exclusively among civilians, they must always exercise restraint. Soldiers, on the other hand, are trained to defeat an enemy, who may or may not wear a uniform, by whatever it takes. They are proactive in that they, ideally, take the fight to the enemy rather than waiting to be attacked or for a crime to be committed. Political correctness may have caused the War Department to change its name to the more passive sounding Department of Defense, but that didn’t change the fundamental fact that soldiers are primarily warriors, not peacekeepers. They are effective at winning wars; less so at peacekeeping, policing and winning hearts and minds.

So the results of a recent Defense Department survey of U.S. troops in combat in Iraq, while probably causing some hand-wringing among critics of the war (but, of course, supporters of the troops), produced few surprises among those who really understand war and what’s at stake in this one. Almost half of those surveyed supported the use of torture, especially if lives were at stake and one in ten reported having personally abused Iraqi civilians. Only about a third of Marines and less than half of the soldiers in the group surveyed said that they would report a fellow warrior who mistreated a non-combatant or who violated the rules of engagement. Substantially less than half believed that enemy non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect.

Before expressing dismay or shock, consider that approximately two-thirds of the respondents said that they knew someone killed or seriously injured and that many of them were serving in their second or third combat tour. Before you judge them, try walking in their boots or talking to some of the gravely wounded veterans.

“War is hell,” it has been often said. Most civilians, though, have little concept of it, so they should avoid applying the term metaphorically as in the war on drugs or poverty or other social causes that have nothing remotely in common with real war. Doing so tends to trivialize and soften the term and it becomes tempting for them to apply civilian concepts of humaneness and ethics to what is in reality a very savage business, not altogether fit for family viewing. It has no civilian equivalent as a base for comparisons. In war, unlike sports or business, it matters less how you play the game than whether or not you win; sort of like contemporary American politics. Maintaining the moral high ground may be a popular theme for editorial writers, but it means very little if you lose. To put it starkly, winning is everything, if survival is at stake.

The last war that we actually won unconditionally was WW II. That was before political correctness had been invented and before soldiers were subject to the equivalent of civilian police review boards. We killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in fire bombings and often took no prisoners in battle if it was inconvenient or tactically unwise to do so. Interrogation of prisoners could be rigorous indeed and maintaining their dignity and respect was not a high priority. Members of the opposition party back home wouldn’t dream of referring to such actions as torture. Then too, there were few embedded media members and they were kept rather busy reporting real news, mostly involving the heroic actions of our troops. After all, there was a war on and we did what we had to do to win.

Today, opponents of this war are attempting to infuse political correctness and civilian ethical standards into our troops who do the fighting for them. If they go too far in this effort, they may end up destroying the military warrior culture altogether. That’s something that should worry Americans greatly because the jihadists are under no such moral constraints and they think that God is on their side. CRO

copyright 2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



American Express
Apple iTunes
Apple iTunes
Simply Audiobooks, Inc.
Brigade Quartermasters, Ltd.
Overstock.com, Inc.
Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005 theOneRepublic.com