Politicians and Generals
More than a thousand years ago, Sun-Tzu, the brilliant Chinese general and military theorist, in his book “The Art of War,” wrote that, although wars are of vital importance to the State, the political authorities should not interfere with generals in the battlefield. To do so would result in utter disaster and after all war is, above all, a matter of life and death. An example of the disaster that this political meddling can bring forth was made evident in the manner in which, Adolf Hitler, Der Führer, exerted his continuous control over the Wehrmacht and effectively lost the war, bringing about the end of Das dritte Reich.
However, lessons from history are lamentably lost upon modern civilian political leaders in many countries throughout the world. The desire for control, for absolute power, is too great a temptation and the Army is, after all, an entity of the State with tremendous power…having control of the Armed Forces means that the possibility of a military coup is dethroned even before it can mature in the minds of the generals…and the generals are a source of anxiety for paranoid political leaders in many regions throughout the globe…
But the fact that the wise man always learns from the mistakes of the past is not easily overcome, though it is easily overlooked…in Turkey, the imprisonment of the Paşası has effectively left the Army vulnerable and lamentably, vulnerability in an army means that casualties will abound. Proper training, strategy, effective tactics, are not elements that are developed overnight. The armed forces work as a unit, depending on each other’s abilities and expertise to be able to overtly confront the nations’s enemies and crush them. To be able to do this, military leaders, i. e. the generals, have their ways and means in place and these, in the form of Directives, Standard Operating Procedures or Memorandums, are passed down, through the Chain of Command, to the lowly soldier guarding a hill somewhere…and, if the army’s Chain of Command is intact and free of political interference, that lowly soldier will guard that hill well, for the benefit of the nation and he will live to fight another day…
Sadly, though, today in the region of Foça, just north of Izmir, Turkey, PKK guerrillas of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, attacked an army post by detonating a land mine as a bus carrying soldiers was passing by and in the ensuing gunfight that followed, killed one soldier and critically injured six others. The perpetrators got away as Turkish Commandos arrived via helicopter and initiated a search of the area. The PKK is considered a terrorist organization, not only by Turkey, but by the US and the EU.
Modern Foça stands where once stood Phōcaea, an ancient Greek settlement that grew to a maritime power in the 7th Century B.C., and which was destroyed by the Persians in 540 B.C.. The Phocaeans, the first Greeks to sail west to Spain, abandoned the city and relocated to Italy. The settlement never regained it’s former glory.
This murderous attack as well as another attack earlier in the week in the eastern portion of Turkey, which cost the lives of multiple soldiers, is the result of renewed and aggravated attacks by Kurdish terrorists as well as perhaps others. And it can be argued, solely in a polemical manner, that the PKK has come to think of the Turkish Armed Forces as weak, perhaps ineffective. Perhaps because so many Pashas are imprisoned the army has lost its direction, its sense of destiny.
As Sun-Tzu knew well, your enemies will strike where you are most vulnerable and when you are at your weakest. Armies engaged in battles are opportunistic and always try to take advantage of the weaknesses of the enemy. Terrorists are trained in the same manner…they will strike where you least expect, where you have the least defenses, where you have become lax and where you are perceived as weak. Furthermore, if your army cannot strategize, for lack of professional leadership, it cannot develop tactics and an army sans strategy and tactics is like a chicken with its head cut off!
Generals! To the front lines! Politicians! To the parliamentary chambers! To each his own and to the victor the spoils…let us hope the good guys always remain the Victors!
Politicians and Generals