Killing is our business.

I have been reading Donald Sensing on and off since he was blogging at One Hand Clapping. I've already marked his recent article, Why Can't Israel Live in Peace? in my Google Reader shared items, but his next post is excellent--and has significance beyond the current phase of conflict.

In Intentional Lethality, Sensing writes:

Israel's attacks are intended to do four main things:
1. Kill as many high-level Hamas figures as possible.
2. Reduce the ranks of Hamas rank and file by causing casualties among them.
3. Provide disincentives for Gazans' support of Hamas' control of their political future and hence,
4. Delegitimize Hamas' authority.

I have found that the first objective, killing the enemy, is a concept that repels a lot of people of the Western comfortable classes. Yet war is the wielding of intentional lethality; as Clausewitz wrote, "Killing is the sine qua non of war."

I have recounted before a story of an evening I spent at a dinner party in the fall of 2001. Another guest commented that it “wasn’t fair” for US pilots to fly with impunity above Taliban positions, dropping bombs. I bit my tongue. Later, another guest said that the bombing “wouldn’t intimidate” the Taliban.

I dived in. “We’re not trying to intimidate them,” I said.

“Then why are we bombing them?” came the question.

“To kill them,” I answered. There was a long silence at the table. The concept seemed not to have occurred to them. With only a couple of exceptions, the others were university graduate-school students.

The intentional lethality of combat is something that non-military people often have a hard time understanding. They often tend to think of military operations in symbolic terms, such as “intimidation,” or believe that combat offensives are designed simply to drive the enemy away or take him prisoner.

The primary mission of the military is and should be to kill people and break stuff. Specifically, we're killing the bad guys and we're breaking their stuff. The intent is to compel the enemy to cease to be a threat by removing either their will and/or ability to be a threat, usually after less forceful measures have failed to achieve the necessary result.

Read the whole thing. That part jumped out at me, but it's a very good piece, as usual. It provides context for a lot of what's going on right now, context that is habitually lacking in the regular news coverage.

Sig