(Or, how to discourage barbarism)
Psychological warfare is a term that denotes actions designed to evoke a specific reaction in other people. There are various techniques, of course, but all of these are aimed at influencing a target’s value system, their belief system, emotions, motives, reasoning, and their behavior. It works. And it seems to me that if, by employing such methods against a common enemy we actually save the lives of the innocents, then we ought to employ psychological warfare at every opportunity. I suspect that we don’t do this because our minds have been affected by a brain cancer called political correctness.
The other day, my good friend “Z” reported another one of President Trumps tweets wherein he suggested, in response to the attack in Barcelona, that we ought to do as General Pershing once did in the Philippines, which was to dip bullets in pig blood before shooting Moslem extremists. Apparently, swine is anathema to the Moslem faith. In any case, Z was reporting on a story published in the Washington Examiner; the headline was Trump Resurrects Tall Tale About General Pershing and Muslims After Barcelona Terror Attack.
Well, except that the story doesn’t fit the headline; it may not have been a “tall tale” after all. In the same article, author Caitlin Yilek explains that pigs were used by Pershing’s troops in their war against Moslems.
“… there are historical accounts of U.S. soldiers burying pigs alongside dead Muslim fighters in the Philippines’ Moro Province.
“The tactic was supposedly used to scare Islamic insurgents known as “juramentados” into halting their attacks. To Muslims, pigs are unholy and the insurgents feared that if they died, Pershing’s practice would deny them entry into heaven.
“… A 2009 biography of Pershing by Jim Lacey, a military analyst for the Institute for Defense Analyses, claimed to confirm that Pershing did use the tactic. ‘Until now the historical verdict was that this was only a vicious rumor and, while it may have happened on occasion, Pershing neither knew about it, nor, given his humane outlook, would have condoned such an action. That verdict is wrong as Pershing’s own unpublished autobiography states.’
“The book then cites an unpublished letter by Pershing, stating: ‘These juramentado attacks were materially reduced in number by a practice the Army had already adopted, one that the Mohammedans held in abhorrence: Their bodies were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig. It was not pleasant to have to take such measures but the prospect of going to hell instead of heaven sometimes deterred the would-be assassins.’”
Significantly, this tactic worked and more than likely saved a number of lives —both those of the American soldiers and among Moslems themselves. War is not all about killing an enemy; it is about winning a war. Killing other human beings is secondary. If a nation can win a war without shedding any blood at all, then that is what nations ought to be doing. So far in human history, I have not heard of winning a war without shedding blood … but I do admit it is a lofty goal. Even if not entirely possible, we should avoid killing if we can and this takes us back to psychological warfare.
The goal of psychological warfare is to demoralize one’s enemy. We want him to quit the battlefield. We want the enemy to decide that there are means other than violence in resolving human differences, and this is especially true when the enemy targets unarmed, innocent civilians who are guilty of nothing worse than going to a mall to do some shopping. If we hope to demoralize Moslem extremists, then in my judgment there is no better way of doing that than by tossing a bloody pork chop into the grave of a dead Moslem.
If doing such a thing has the effect of discouraging extremism (generally), or saving the life of innocent men, women, and children (specifically) … then that is exactly what we ought to be doing. I will go one step further: if we do not employ such tactics in our war opposing barbarism, then WE are no better than the Moslem swine who murder our loved ones in cold blood —because we have at our disposal the means of preventing the death of innocents, but elect not to employ those means.
If we want to discourage barbarism, if we want to save the lives of innocents, then western nations need to grow a set of balls and use ALL the tools of war at our disposal.