Two of my three kids were born in the mid-1990s. America – the country that defeated the two most modern and powerful military forces in history, across the entire planet, on land, sea and air, in 3-1/2 years – has been in ground combat with illiterate, unorganized, untrained, ill-equipped savages for nearly their entire lives. They have no recollection of an America not at war.
This is shameful.
My dad was born in 1912, raised a Quaker, and fought in the Pacific Theater of WW2. Why? He was an American. My mom was born in 1930, orphaned at 5, raised in a first-rate private institutionalized “Home” in Colorado Springs, remembers kneading yellow glop into white “margarine,” and began asking in 2002 where, if we were “at war,” were the sacrifices asked of the American population?
I was born in 1954, appointed to USAFA in the Spring of 1972 as my high school classmates were walking out of class to mail postcards to Nixon to end the war, and left the Academy in the summer of 1973 after we quit that war, sacrificed 58,000 American lives for nothing, killed 2M Vietnamese – and refused to defeat our enemy.
I long have held that, had the 200,000+ Americans, mostly Middle Class, who went underground, or to Canada or to Europe, instead stood up and said, “No!” even to the point of being jailed for the courage of their convictions, America would have ended that war years – and tens of thousands of American lives – sooner rather than have imprisoned two hundred thousand of sons of the Middle Class, and who knows how many of their parents.
When called, the Baby Boomers were cowards who allowed others to die for their cowardice – AND who allowed the war to continue, enabling the killing of millions… for no reason at all. Now that Boomers run Congress, they continue doing more of the same.
The last people from whom I want to hear on the national holiday dedicated to honoring those Americans who had their lives taken from them by enemies of freedom (they didn’t “give” their lives; their lives were taken by practitioners of anti-liberty ideologies) are the presidents who send our kids to fight wars we refuse to win, the Congressional leaders who start and fund those wars, the General Officers who send armies and air forces to battles they know will be meaningless, and the Field and Company Officers who send our children into battles or out on patrol to kill and to die for a cause in which America does not believe enough to defeat the enemy utterly.
Only victory is reason enough to wage war.
The leaders of WW2 remembered the conditional surrender of the enemy in WW1 and rejected it, requiring unconditional surrender in 1945. Neither Germany nor Japan ever again militarized to become a threat to their neighbors. Both nations now are economic, political and military allies, and their populaces have become more prosperous, freer, and better-educated than ever before in their history.
Because we annihilated the ideologies that militarized them.
We didn’t destroy Germany. We destroyed the NAZI ideology and millions enabling it – and then outlawed the NAZI ideology.
We didn’t destroy Japan. We destroyed the Imperial-Shinto ideology and millions enabling it – and then outlawed the Shinto religion.
We defeated the ideologies and their enablers, utterly. We destroyed cities, dams, canals, waterworks, transportation and electrical grids, farms, foodstuffs, everything those enablers needed to live, to wage war, to attack the liberty of others. We made the vanquished utterly dependent on the victors for the stuff of life itself. And then outlawed their ideologies.
In short: We were serious about killing and dying. It was war.
Americans steeped in liberty laid waste to populations and infrastructure that allowed the growth of totalitarian ideologies, who attacked their neighbors to annihilate their freedom and bend them to the will of those anti-liberty ideologies.
This is how and why wars are fought.
Were civilians killed? You bet. It was those civilians who stood by – and sent sons to participate in – the attacks on the liberties of others. Who watched the smoke rise from the camps as the smell of burnt flesh permeated their towns and their homes. Who worked in the armaments factories that created the death their nations rained on others. Who loaded the boats and trains with soldiers and food and gasoline and munitions to kill free people. Who worked the farms that fed the men killing others for reasons of ideologies of hate and power. Innocent civilians may be bystanders in combat, but there are no innocent civilians in war.
President Eisenhower was the last president who had been a war leader. He won the largest land battle in the history of the world. He knew war as no one today can or ever will again.
Eisenhower did not “rebuild America’s military” after Korea and World War 2. He spent his entire eight years in office fighting against a Pentagon demanding huge conventional forces. Ike rejected building or fighting a large conventional force. He knew the carnage of the battlefield for both victors and vanquished as few others in history. And rejected it. He asked “How many schools did that bomber cost?” when bombers did not cost $2,000,000,000 each.
The defense policy of President Eisenhower was simple: Massive Retaliation. In the event of an attack on American forces or our allies, we would “go all-in” with tactical (battlefield) nuclear weapons. How many wars did we fight under Eisenhower? Zero. He was a warrior. The enemy knew him, measured him and found him deadly serious. And did not test him.
Diplomacy is about talking. Wars are about killing people. Lots of people. Productivity counts more than in any other human endeavor. The more of your enemy you kill at the lowest cost of your own dead, the faster you win and the better your future. The faster you kill enough of the enemy to destroy their will and ability to continue the fight, the faster the killing stops and the fewer enemy dead – and the better their future.
The ideal weapon – as in the most productive, as in fewest of your own killed while destroying the will and capability of the enemy to fight and kill your kids – is the nuclear weapon. Because so many are killed so quickly, because the assault on the will to fight is so overwhelming, paradoxically these save lives.
My dad fought the Japanese. They fought to the last man every single time. Why did we use the atomic bombs? Because Okinawa was so bad; because the fighting on Okinawa told us what an invasion would bring. Because we needed to end the war. Because war planners estimated we’d be fighting until 1949. Because it was estimated that an invasion of Japan would kill 1,000,000 Americans and between 6,000,000 and 9,000,000 Japanese.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved at least 7,000,000 lives.
We killed 2,000,000 Koreans and 2,000,000 Vietnamese. Had we nuked Pyongyang and Hanoi, we’d not have killed 4,000,000 of our enemy – or 100,000 of our own. Had we nuked Pyongyang, we might not have had to fight Vietnam at all.
(Remember – Mao asked Stalin if it was OK to attack South Korea. Stalin wanted to find out how serious America was, so said go for it. Had Truman responded by nuking Pyongyang, Stalin and Mao might have said, “Oh!” and the rest of the century been far less bloody, and the Cold War far less expensive. (Stalin most certainly would not have responded to an attack on North Korea with nuclear weapons screaming toward the United States; read some history. Stalin didn’t even like Mao.)
Nuclear weapons work. They are weapons not of combat, but of war. The use or credible threat of use of nuclear weapons end or prevent wars. The lack of them starts and continues wars. Want to know why Putin invaded Ukraine? Simple: Ukraine gave up her nuclear arsenal.
We have killed 1,000,000 S. Asians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Had we nuked Tora Bora, this fight might have ended in 2001 – over a million taken human lives ago.
America is the only nation in history to reject its most productive weapons, instead choosing to sacrifice our future – our kids. And the kids of our enemies – the kids who will be needed to rebuild in peace.
This, too, is shameful.
How many Faulkners, Hemingways, Mamets, Williams, Fords; how many Coplands and Bernsteins; how many Pollocks and Bentons and Warhols; how many Edisons and Paulings never will be born to their never-to-be parents lying dead on some sand dune, killed by an illiterate savage with no knowledge of art, music, literature or science?
How can this make sense to any American?
Since 1950 our “wars” have accomplished one thing – and it is the one thing against which Eisenhower warned. We have enriched, incredibly enriched, a Military-Industrial-Congressional complex by spending trillions of hard-earned tax dollars – today’s tax dollars and tax dollars of generations yet unborn – on weapons, delivery systems, transport, uniforms… and wars … that are used only to buy more weapons, delivery systems, uniforms and wars.
And we have squandered the lives and futures of tens of thousands of our children.
We have not used those lives and that money to do what military forces are organized, trained and equipped to do: Defeat our enemies.
Americans have two choices: We can continue the insanity of starting, fighting, sending our kids to kill and die in, and spending trillions of dollars on, wars we refuse to win. We can continue to pretend to value the lives of warriors we send to be maimed in combat we don’t even try to win. Or we can demand that, if we must destroy an attacking ideology, we “go all-in,” saving all of those American lives, nearly all of the lives of our enemy, and nearly all of those dollars. We can get to peace sooner with more people left to rebuild cities and economies.
If we are not going to defeat an opponent, we must not send our kids – kids who trust their government with their lives and their futures – to kill and to die for no reason at all. If we believe in our future and our children, we must not sacrifice their lives needlessly.
As in WW2, our enemy is an ideology. Warriors and terrorists are only tools of that ideology. We must defeat this anti-human ideology and its enablers as quickly, as totally, as inexpensively in their lives and ours, as technology allows.
We know where the ideology is based. We know that this ideology has spawned every global conflict in the last 25 years. We know this ideology is responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of human beings, for imprisoning hundreds of millions more, and for reducing the liberty and freedom of all human beings.
If that is not worth destroying… what is?
Want to end these wars? Annihilate the ideology.
Want to end war?
Make it, once again, so “terrible” that we should not “grow too fond of it” as we so obviously have.