Next weekend I report to The Basic School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico for the Reserve Warrant Officer Basic Course. RWOBC is three months of regular Marine training crammed for reservists into two weeks. In order to make this happen new Marine reserve warrant officers are instructed to do a mountain of professional reading ahead of time. So, here I sit, inside on a lovely Saturday afternoon with my left-brain engaged and immersed in Warfighting.
What has prompted me to write today is on page 86 of Chapter 4 of Warfighting, The Conduct of War. For me, the quote to follow captures the essential difference between the Bush administration and its detractors during the War on Terrorism. The essence of this division lies with one word, "perfectionism". Here's the passage:
"Finally, since all decisions must be made in the face of uncertainty, and since every situation is unique, there is no perfect solution to any battle-field problem. Therefore, we should not agonize over one. The essence of the problem is to select a promising course of action with an acceptable degree of risk and do it more quickly than our foe. In this respect, a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."
Criticisms of the Bush warfighting policy are drenched in the language of perfectionism. Were it left to the armchair quarterbacking second guessing everything in hindsight is 20/20 vision crowd on the Left (who's plan for fighting Terrorism and Islamofascism is still more secret than NSA wiretapping and the screening of overseas money transfers) we'd still be waiting on a response to the attacks on 9/11.
Perfectionism paralyzes action, which in crucial ways makes it the passive/aggressive bedfellow of Terrorism, and the convenient intellectual retreat of belly button fixated spineless elites. I've previously spoken on Terrorism's primary strategic reliance on instilling fear. Fear paralyzes action, and perfectionism is fear all dressed up in the chiffon of hindsight and the taffeta of cowardice. It is the immoral high ground of those unwilling to courageously take timely action in the face of making mistakes and ruffling feathers. There are many situations in life where we are dammed if we do and dammed if we don't.
The Democratic Party, in my opinion, is making a fatal miscalculation believing that the American electorate prefers it's cautionary ostrichian naysaying and inaction over Republican rashness, missteps and errors. In trying to cast Bush, et al. as decievers with heads full of rocks, they've equally succeeded in highlighing their own lack of backbone and ideas. The floodlight the Libs have cast on the Bush administration's sometimes questionable yet decisive damm the torpedoes strategy has also illuminated their chronic lack of resolve and heads bursting with fuzzy idealistic mush.
I believe we Americans viscerally understand that this nation was built and nurtured more by pragmatic risk takers than perfectionists infatuated with ideas. Decisions have to be made, and I've thrown my lot in with the dammed-if-we-doers, and not the dammed-if-we-don't boohooers.
In a previous post I talked about how the politically correct and self-serving feel good sentimentality of "I support the troops, but not the war" drips with vain pity, lacks any genuine honoring and mourning of the sacrifice of the military, and transforms our service and deaths into strategic victories for the enemy. Pity is a white flag raised in the heart and mind of another American. I add perfectionism to the list of white flag raisings. Remember, the War on Terror is being fought inside each of us, in our collective will, more so than "out there" on the battlefield. Everyday it becomes clearer where in our body politic that will is weakening, and where it stays strong, admittedly imperfect and yet perfectly resolute.
I will leave you with a second quote. This one is from Leading Marines, another of this weekend's reading assignments.
"For leaders to hold units together under adverse conditions,
they must first fight—and win—the battle within themselves."