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Total War-Lite

In case you ever wondered what really made the world go round but were afraid to ask.

Victory gardens are thing of the past, as are other efforts the government used to use to help bolster support for war efforts. Back in the day you needed that kind of commitment when waging total war. Today, the economy is up, black-out shades are out of fashion, and we can wage war without dragging people kicking and screaming into the ranks. It is no surprise then that we are asking almost nothing of the general populace. To be honest with you I think that has to change. If we are not fighting total war, then we are phoning it in. Some thoughts . . .

When raising money for the war effort in the 40s, war bond drives featured uniformed entertainers (often already popular entertainers who went into uniform) and recently returned or temporarily seconded veterans of note. I don’t advocate pitching the populace for their spare change, but I don’t see the harm in arranging for the public appearance of willing returning vets to local audiences. Let them speak (that they’ll be frank is a given) about what is really going on – the positive without Pentagon spin, and the negative without MSM hype – to those whose hearts and minds we’ve largely forgotten about winning: those at home.

If we are indeed in a war, we ought to spend like it. This is particularly true of our elected “leadership.” It is easy to bring home the pork when you attach it into an andouille-filled defense spending bill. If you want to quell the screams from the electorate try this tack: Explain to your constituents that they’re not getting their annual serving of bacon because you are buying more armor for HMMWVs or body armor for the local Guard unit. You’re not going to let them starve; you’re just not going to give them heart disease. Better yet: Repeal the 17th Amendment.

Propaganda is a neutral term that often is given negative connotations. We’re supposed to be able to rely on broadcast and cable news to do the informing but by and large they’ve defaulted to communicating a certain message. It says something that both my local cable provider and every satellite TV company offers up the NASA Channel (all gantries, all the time) but I can’t get the Pentagon Channel (even though AFRTS offers it up to any carrier that wants it). Granted, AFRTS programming isn’t the most compelling TV around, however it does provide the GI-side of things (since they don’t run news reels anymore).

Enough with rotations already. You go home when you win or you are too badly wounded or you are dead. No matter how much Iraqi sand I’ve had in my cracks and creases there are those who will yell, “Easy for you to say, REMF.” Fine, but remember that grandpa left home and hearth – and the War Department sent him off – knowing that fighting till victory was the only option. When you know when you can go home, and when planners/leadership know they can spread the pain around, it reduces the incentive to go all the way.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.