Flawed thinking resulting in yet another column that says we need to keep doing what has never worked because we’ve always done it.
First off – America’s goal in the region, whatever it is, has not and will not be achieved via our current or recent strategies – whatever they’ve been. We’ve been doing this for decades and nothing positive has accrued. We either need to colonize the region with all the human and economic costs of dragging its inhabitants, a generations-long quest, into the 21st Century and post-Enlightenment world, or leave it to Russia and China, both of whom are better-equipped to deal with the barbarism; we don’t need their oil any longer. Nothing there is worth the life of one more American.
Second. Putin is staying the hand of Obama, an American president at-odds with America’s less-than-strategic doctrine in the Middle East, and this is a good thing. It is past time to recognize that ending Great Power imperialism was done too-early; that none of these countries can live peaceably with their neighbors or themselves. The return of empires will result in greater peace, prosperity, rule of law. The Cold War is over; time to get out of that thoughtbox. The Caucuses, Iran, Chechnya, etc., are on his southern border; what he does on his border is probably done with more foresight that what we strategize 10,000 mi away from that border with little to no understanding of a culture local to Putin.
Third. To see Russia as an adversary when it is they supporting the only kind of strongman that can hold-down radical islam is absurd. Only strongmen have held down these people and their violence: Attaturk, the Shah, Mubarak, Ghaddafi, Saddam. Removing strongmen or enabling their ouster has created the mess we see today.
Fourth. The continuation of low-grade combat with conventional weapons is a continuation of trading the lives of educated Westerners, with the foundation of Western Liberal democracy and Western Human Rights – and low fertility, for the useless lives of illiterate savage barbarians with high fertility, on an essentially-level playing field of small arms. This is stupendously dumb.
Surely the columnist is familiar with “Gardens of Stone.” The single most important line in this Vietnam-era look at our military is when the young, inexperienced soldier tells the grizzled veteran sergeant that he’s heard the Vietcong enemy are using bows and arrows against Hueys, laughingly asking “how can they win?” to which the sgt responds – “how can you beat people willing to attack Hueys with arrows?”
These guys are killing us with gasoline, kitchen knives and cell phones. And they are winning. Vietnam redux.
We are – never – going to defeat illiterate barbarians other than by killing them. “Hearts and Minds” is a Western philosophy; projecting it onto non-Western cultures is ignorant and stupid and useless and imperialistic. Wars are won by killing the enemy. (LeMay, Curtis: “If you kill enough of them they stop fighting.”)
Only an inexperienced naif can think you “can’t kill your way out of war,” which, in fact, is the ONLY way to win wars. That this twit – there is no other word for her – is a senior member of our State Dept shows how un-serious both our government and our education have become.
Wars are ended in two – and only two – ways: One side wins or the other side quits. We won the Civil War and WW2. In ALL other wars, we or our opponents tired of the conflict and left the field of battle. Whenever we have left the field of battle, all our casualties instantly have become in vain. Korea. Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. Now Syria.
Supporting this nonsensical aggression, stupidly executed is existentially insane.
How many generations of Americans, how many scientists, inventors, authors and artists will never be born because their never-to-be-parents lie dead on some worthless sand dune our “leaders” sent them to kill and die for – but not to win?
Because the columnist is military, he certainly knows, or should, the reality of tactical nuclear weapons. If he doesn’t know he can look it up here, starting with the 5KT blast described below.
America is the only power in history to run FROM, rather than TO its most productive weapons. Sacrificing lives instead of weapons in a low-fertility culture is a cultural going-out-of-business strategy.
When the Yazidi were being massacred by ISIS they were encamped on a mountain 1.5KM above the surrounding plain on which ISIS was encamped, and displaced 2 KM horizontally. A 5KT tac nuke with a surface burst on the ISIS encampment would have annihilated thousands of ISIS fighters, saved the Yazidi, and the blast effects would not have harmed the Yazidi at their remove.
And the political statement made would be so significant the fighting may well have stopped right there – how many savages bent on the “strong horse” would show up to fight nukes with knives?
If not, we have lots of tac nukes, and they are already paid for. NOT doing this was stupid. Instead, during that massacre we launched nine (9) total strikes, killing 14 vehicles. They slaughtered hundreds of Yazidi a day. Stupid. Just as NOT nuking the Tora Bora cave complex was stupid.
People react with scorn to the idea, long overdue, of re-crossing the nuclear threshold – and for all the wrong reasons. Mostly, though, because they don’t understand them, believing absurdly that Hollywood presents an accurate depiction of these most-productive of weapons. And they somehow believe that we kill fewer civilians with conventional weapons (we don’t) or that nations not destroyed will be peaceful in the short-term (they aren’t). In the real world, the utterly-defeated Germany and Japan have been economic, military and political allies for over half-a-century, something that will never be able to be said about a united Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan….
In Vietnam and Korea alone, over 4M human beings were killed who did not have to be killed. We killed over 2M Vietnamese – and lost 58,000 Americans in doing so. And lost. A couple of small tac nukes on Hanoi in 1963 woulds have killed far fewer on BOTH sides – and likely ended the conflict. Instead, our government was busy lying to us about the Tonkin Gulf to get us into the wrong war for the wrong reasons in the wrong place at the wrong time. And then refusing to fight to win.
It is becoming increasingly difficult NOT to think that our wars are strategized to maximize profits of the Military-industrial complex against which Ike warned.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
How else can 70 YEARS of un-won wars by the most powerful, best-trained, best-equipped military force in history be explained? We aren’t – no one is – that stupid.
“The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power” has been realized. And we are sacrificing to it our sons and daughters.
Our conceit that not using our most powerful weapons somehow is more “humane” and “moral” than ending these wars quickly – and at far lower human and economic cost to BOTH sides – through one or two tactical strikes with smaller, nuclear weapons than those used on Japan cost those millions of people their lives. And caused untold misery and disruption for, literally, decades.
No one is eating grass in Japan. That they are in North Korea is due to the refusal by America to win that war.
It is immoral to send our men to die in wars we are not serious about winning. It is immoral to send men to die when we have alternatives. Nuclear weapons, even small ones, make the political statement: “We are done screwing around and will annihilate you if you don’t quit,” that no conventional weapon use can make.
Ike spent under a year getting us out of a conventional war Truman had refused to win. He did so with back-channel threats to China to nuke DPRK if they didn’t get their client to the table. They worked. He then kept us out of war for two terms – longer than any other postwar president. He did so with his doctrine of Massive Retaliation, announced by Dulles at CFR in Jan, 1954. He spent his entire time in office warring AGAINST a DoD who wanted more weapons, more toys, more men, more money. Just as are today’s MI-complex know-nothings running defense industry companies, or writing that we need to send more men into the abyss while refusing to win.
We don’t need a larger conventional military. Neither we nor the world need more American conventional wars.
American taxpayers and parents don’t need this huge Military-Industrial complex; we need to be rational about the wars we fight, fight only the ones that both need to be fought and that we are willing to win, and we need to fight them with our most productive weapons, rather than our most irreplaceable resources: Our young men & women.
— USAFA ’76