Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mines and Hearts

One sentence from Michael Fumento's assessment of the al-Zarqawi killing sums up the state of assymetrical warfare in the 21st century:

In Fallujah I spoke with an Iraqi general who frankly told me success on the battlefield meant nothing more than the impact it has on the populace.

Always there was an element of truth in that. McClellan's defense of his lines in the Seven Days battles in June 1862 amounted to a tactical and numerical victory. He lost 16,000 men but kept his army intact and inflicted 20,000 casualties on Lee. But because the Northern public was anticipating the fall of Richmond, and had mentally prepped for the end of the war, the battles registered as a terrible, defeatism-inducing reverse.

Yet now, in this war (and it's the kind of war we'll be fighting for at least as generation, wherever we go) public perception -- in the U.S., in the battlefield nation, and around the world -- entirely trumps battlefield realities. The jihadis have learned this lesson.