As the Prussian army drove into France during the 1870 war with France, Germany’s Chancellor Otto von Bismarck sought the advice of the American military observer, none other than Phil Sheridan, whose cavalry had burned out the farmers of the Shenandoah Valley in the last stages of the conflict. What should Bismarck do about French snipers and saboteurs from villages along the Prussian route of march? Sheridan told Bismarck to burn the villages, leaving the people “with nothing left but their eyes to weep with after the war.” That, and hang the snipers, Sheridan threw in.This leads Chicago Boy Trent Telenko to suggest taking off the gloves elsewhere. "Goldman suggests in his article that a General Sherman 'March Through Georgia' style of collective punishment of Muslim civilian populations in the West can work to end this random death in the Western civilization’s life support." Here's the basis of that suggestion.
Like Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who burned a great swath through Georgia and the Carolinas, Sheridan believed that war is won not just by killing soldiers but by denying them support from a broader civilian population.
When the war came Sherman came close to a nervous breakdown, trying in vain to convince his masters that they would have to kill 300,000 Southern soldiers and devastate the Confederacy to win the war. He then distinguished himself in combat at Shiloh in 1863 and went on to become the scourge of the Deep South.As I type this, there's ongoing coverage of franc-tireur warfare from Baton Rouge.
The Union always had more men and more resources; what it lacked was generals with the stomach for the job. That meant not only the grisly war of attrition waged by Grant, another middling commander with absolute resolve, but also retaliation against civilians: When snipers fired on Union soldiers from Tennessee or Kentucky villages, Sherman expelled residents, burned houses, and laid waste to crops. There are lessons here for what we used to call, quaintly, the Global War on Terror.
Destroying ISIS, al-Qaeda and other Muslim terror groups is not particularly difficult, far less difficult than Sherman or Sheridan’s task during the Civil War. It simply requires doing some disgusting things. Western intelligence doesn’t have to infiltrate terror groups, tap phones, mine social media postings and so forth (although these doubtless are worth doing). Muslim communities in the West will inform on the terrorists. They will tell police when someone has packed up and gone to Syria, and when he has returned. They will tell police who is talking about killing westerners, who has a suspicious amount of cash, who is listening to broadcasts from Salafist preachers.
They will tell western security services everything they need to know, provided that western security services ask in the right way. I mean in Phil Sheridan’s way.
The way to win the war is to frighten the larger community of Muslims who passively support terror by action or inaction–frighten them so badly that they will inform on family members. Frightening the larger Muslim population in the West does not require a great deal of effort: a few thousand deportations would do. Western intelligence services do not even have to deport the right people; the wrong people know who they are, and so do many of their neighbors. The ensuing conversation is an easy one to have. “I understand that your nephew is due for deportation, Hussein, and I believe you when you tell me that he has done nothing wrong. I might be able to help you. But you have to help me. Give me something I can use–and don’t waste my time by making things up, or I swear that I’ll deport you, too. If you don’t have any information, then find out who does.”Is that how a new civil war will begin in the USA?
This approach to quashing insurgency has worked numerous times in the past. It is not characteristic of peacetime life in western democracies, to be sure, but neither was Phil Sheridan’s ride through the Shenandoah. We prefer to think about winning hearts and minds. Winning the hearts and minds of a people, though, isn’t difficult once they fear you.