The military has an agenda which is not the same as the nation’s, yet since Kuwait, in some psychological quest to put Vietnam behind us, we Boomers are turning too far toward it.
The entire Right and half the Center is good with maximizing the presence of 4-stars in a civilian administration. Why? They have hammers – every single problem is going to be a nail. Not a Marshall among them. Not an Eisenhower. Not a Pershing. Just a buncha wannabe Bradleys who want to fight until it gets too hard and then back off. And we’ve fired all our George Pattons and Stonewall Jacksons. And Dwight Eisenhowers.
America can’t measure its place in the world by the number of tiny, backwards countries in which our military can go wage combat – and not win.
We CAN measure our place by decisively winning wars of necessity – and saving combat and its toll in blood and treasure… for war.
The biggest problem we’ve had since Kuwait, when we pretended combat was war, is that we now pretend war is combat.
The country got all rah-rah when we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. We were winning for the first time since we came home with our tail between our legs from Vietnam and treated our warfighters atrociously.
But we are winning at combat; we still suck at war.
Or we wouldn’t take 16+ years to not defeat a bunch of illiterate, untrained savages with small arms and homemade bombs.
Now all the Baby Boomers who ran away from Vietnam get to say “I wish I’d gone!” and “It’s about time we treated our military as we should!” and put banners along the roads of Hometown Hero parades – while sending, you guessed it, non-Boomers off to kill and to die in some foreign land while the Boomers now running the place reject victory.
We’ve seen this movie before.
This is what happens when a powerful society stops taking seriously killing and dying – they do it for reasons other than necessity, mostly to feel “good” about themselves. (And if you think America takes killing and dying seriously, please explain Chicago.)
Patriotism cannot be borne on the backs of illiterates being killed for causes we don’t believe in enough to win.
Kuwait – at best – was a punitive expedition against no serious opponent. The invasion of Iraq was hardly more. All the flag ranks want to get some combat going on – careers, bragging rights, bigger budgets, more toys, larger organizations, etc. The generals and Admirals sit in their corners of the Pentagon building their teams. They’re the D1-Varsity, and if they can’t fight the varsity they’ve trained their entire careers to fight, well they’ll fight the regional middle school champs, thank you very much.
But the Colonels and Majors and Captains sending kids in companies and platoons out to get shot & blown apart & killed and not be able to return fire? To kill and die for… what?
If we’re going to alter the ROE significantly enough to allow us to (gulp) win, then skip the entire nonsense & win with Ike. But sending our kids out to kill an enemy when we don’t believe in the cause enough to wage war – making all that killing for nothing and so grossly immoral – and sending our kids out to die fighting an enemy when we don’t believe in the cause enough to wage war – making all those kids dying for nothing and so grossly immoral… is stupid.
Can we kick a 4th-rate army’s ass? Sure – but why? Can we win any time we want? Sure – but we’ve chosen not to win since 1945. Why would this be different? The military wants to put men into Syria. Why? To not win? (If Trump wants to oust Assad – send a sniper. Drop a JDAM. His replacement will be worse – they always are.)
If we are going to wage war, then wage war. If whatever we are going to call it is not war then why are we spending so much money and spending (and taking) so many lives?
Wars aren’t won by killing the guys pointing guns at you – that’s how combat is won. Wars are won by killing nations and ideologies. If we aren’t going to kill radical islam, which we will never do via combat-without-war, then come home, arm up and get ready to fight the guys with guns in our own streets… and to allow radical islam to continue its virulent spread across modernity.
Radical islam will never be defeated with small arms or conventional weaponry wielded by Western nations of low fertility. Fact. No matter how many generals tell you, “Just another 150,000 men will do the trick.”
In 1966, we put another 150,000 men into Vietnam.
How’d that work out?