CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) has become the cancer underlying American policy toward terrorism and Islam. When the chief of NASA said that his main mission was to improve Muslim self-esteem that was CVE being put front and center.
CVE is the likely reason why the Benghazi mission didn’t get the security it needed. CVE is all about winning the War on Terror by getting Muslims to like us thereby “isolating the extremists”. What it translates to in practice is appeasement.
Now the Special Forces appear to be going full CVE under Obama.
I expected to learn about Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and their air force and marine counterparts. I thought I would hear about the exploits of this 67,000-strong command operating in 84 countries, maybe even about the taking down of Osama bin Laden. But that was not to be. Instead, he and the other officers talked at length about their new mission, starting with the command’s motto, “You can’t surge trust.”
It took some time for it to sink in because of their turgid language, but here’s a key paragraph from the Operating Concept for special operations forces (SOF) that was handed out to the CFR group:
The Special Operations Forces Operating Concept captures the essence of the SOF heritage as it could be – as it should be in the year 2020 and beyond. The concept moves beyond the first decade of the 21st Century, when SOF primarily supported large-scale contingency operations by conducting counterterrorism operations to find, capture, or kill our adversaries. Although of great value to the Nation, these operations were never intended to be decisive. Operating through the Global SOF Network in support of our Geographic Combatant Commanders and Chiefs of Mission, SOF now have the opportunity to achieve strategic outcomes by working with and through interagency and foreign partners to understand and influence relevant populations.
Translated into English, this says:
Special Operations Forces used to be about capturing or killing America’s adversaries; its new mission is to shape public opinion.
Or, it the words of a bullet point in the Operating Concept, the goal is “Elevating SOF non-lethal skills to the same level of expertise as lethal skills.”
The non-lethal skills of Special Forces personnel were sharpened in pursuit of ultimately lethal goals. Winning the trust of some of the natives might make it easier to operate, etc… but this is a shift beyond that. It treats them as rough and ready diplomats who can show up at a moment’s notice in an Afghan village to sip tea with the elders and convince them that America can help them.
In the process they can learn all about the enemy from enemy sympathizers who will urge them to help pursue enemy goals in order to… defeat the enemy.
This is Hillaryism at its worst. It puts diplomacy first, which is problematic enough when it’s done at the policy level, but a good deal worse when military personnel are told that they can only win the war by winning over a population that can’t be over. This isn’t how wars are won, it’s how wars are lost.
Forget counterterrorism. The ideal now is inter-agency interaction and three cups of tea. You don’t need operators for that. You just need bureaucrats and political appointees.