There is an argument about Eisenhower’s Broad Front Strategy in World War 2 that is very salient today. One of the schools of thought about the Broad Front was that it was a huge moral failure of the West not to drive straight to Berlin and cut off the head of the NAZI enemy. Doing so, the theory goes, would have enabled the surrender of hundreds of thousands of German soldiers and prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict.
Looked at in the present light, however, perhaps this school of thought is far wrong, and Eisenhower right.
Had we slugged our way slowly up the Euphrates Valley, giving time to every Tom, Dick and Mohammed to show up and be killed by a heavy Army, USMC and fully-involved USAF, and then moved forward in a long, front-line assault completely surrounding Baghdad, squeezing it until it popped and killing hundreds of thousands of the bastards who shot at us, we surely would have a different situation – and very arguably a far better one – than we have now.
So perhaps Eisenhower was lots smarter than others give him credit for, and that a heavy army is the right one, and that battlefield doctrine needs to be: Slug it out and kill as many as you can while staying on the battlefield as long as you possibly can make an excuse to do so. Once the enemy has melted away to hide among the civilian population he will keep killing you but it will be far harder to kill him.
For that is how one wins wars. “Hearts and minds” has never worked and never will. General Curtis LeMay, the architect of the bombings of Japan in WW2, understood this:
“I’ll tell you what war is about. You’ve got to kill people and when you’ve killed enough they stop fighting.”
That is a historical fact, like it or not.
There is little question that had we carpet-bombed the major cities of Iraq we’d be farther toward – or already have achieved – our goal and Iraq would be farther toward, or already achieved the goal of a democratic, free, peaceful state. Like Germany and Japan within 5 years of bombing their cities were – and have remained.