I once had a boss tell me I was not an intellectual. He also accused me of being unable to do strategic thinking. He said I was suited to be the sargent that led the troops up the hill, a good tactician, but a poor strategist. He meant to insult me, but I was honored. Maybe he was right. But WTF, it is my blog and I will do all the strategering I want. This is going to be a long one, so go to the bathroom now.
Clausewitz said that war was an extension of politics. I have read all of the Baron von Clausewitz' work, and I can tell you he was a pompous windbag. In this case however, he was right. In no way do I think the American fighting man has lost his abilities. We have the best-trained, most powerful armed forces in history. It is our politicians, and by extension, our citizens, who have lost the will to fight.
We cannot claim a victory since World War II. You will tell me we won in Panama, in Grenada, but I liken those actions to destroying a nest of hornets on the porch. The destruction of the nest is painful, but not really all that difficult. Disagree if you wish, but my main point remains germane. Let us look at some proof:
In Korea, we did not finish the job. Under a Democrat President we were forced into a war for which we were not prepared. Most people do not know that under Truman massive amounts of war materiel were thrown overboard or abandoned after WWII. The Democrat-led Congress and the newly-named Department of Defense downsized the military, cut training funds and left us with a military unprepared for war. Truman called up the inactive reserves which consisted mostly of WWII vets to fight in Korea instead of the National Guard, as he reasoned we needed men who knew how to fight. After initial defeats and retreats, The UN forces led overwhelmingly by the US Army, Marines and supported by the Air Force and Navy pushed the North Koreans to the brink of annihilation. The Communists were only saved by the intervention of the Chinese. The resulting casualties, especially the retreat from the Chosin dampened the fervor at home. The stalemate summer and winter along the 38th parallel caused the public to sicken of the huge casualties with nothing to show. We sought a peace, and sort of went home with our tail between our legs. We still have troops in Korea keeping an uneasy peace today, more than one half century later. North Korea is still a thorn in our side, spoiling to finish the fight she could not then. History tells us we inflicted huge casualties on the Chinese / NOK troops. We won nearly every battle, and if not for the interference of the Politicians at home, the commanders might have won. Truman et al, were afraid an American victory would bring the Soviets into the fray. What lesson was learned? For the Communists, we sent the message we would fight for our cause, but only up to a point.
Next up are what I will call the little wars; Greece, Cuba, the Congo, Berlin, Eastern Europe. These were the hot spots in the cold war. We did enough to ensure we did not lose to the Communists, but we were unwilling to exert the effort to win. The idea of another global war was unthinkable. We left our allies hanging out to dry in Hungary and at the Bay of Pigs. The military was willing, the politicians were not. A theme is beginning to develop. Hungary we can blame on Eisenhower (and his left leaning Department of State,)the Bay of pigs fiasco was under the auspices of another Democrat President. The lesson here? Same as above, but also that we would abandon our friends if the potential cost was too high.
Next we come to Vietnam. The war the military won and the politicians and American people lost. The armed forces of the United States won every single battle in South East Asia. Contrary to what the liar Walter Cronkite told us, Tet was a huge disaster for the North Vietnamese. The Vietcong infrastructure was destroyed and the NVA took huge losses. If we had pressed our attack at that point the war would have been over. Somehow the reverse has entered into popular culture. NVA Commander Giap reported that the NVA High Command was stunned by the US press reports of the TET Offensive, He thought he was done for until he heard the reporting and he said at that moment he knew they would eventually win. One could make the argument we should have never gone to Vietnam. We did, and the military (again) did its job. The civilian leaders at the Pentagon, and in Congress did not do theirs. Once again we found the cost of war was too high, and we abandoned our allies. The American people under a Democrat Congress did not have the stomach to finish the job. The pogroms, killings and mass murder by the North Vietnamese Communists and the Khmer Rouge of MILLIONS can be laid at our feet. What did the world learn? We will quit when the price becomes too high. You will tell me that 58,000 deaths were to many for that shithole and I would agree. Were 12,000 casualties in twenty minutes too many at Mary's Heights, or 28,000 at Antietam in one day, or 53,000 in three days at Gettysburg worth the end result? How about the 9,000 at Omaha Beach? What happened to the willingness to sacrifice for the American ideal our forefathers demonstrated a hundred years prior? What happened to the children of the WWII generation?
We end the essay with a discussion of the Middle East. The theme is repetitive, and I hope you get the point. Reagan pulled out after the Marine Barracks in Lebanon was bombed. He should have wiped the Islamic assholes responsible from the face of the earth. Kyber Towers, the USS COLE, the cut run of Somalia, the lack of a political will to finish the job in Iraq the first time. These actions all sent the message to our enemies we did not have the will to fight, that when it became too hard the American people would back down, quit, hide.
The movie Red Dawn was hugely popular in the eighties because it demonstrated the part of us all Americans like to believe exists -- the fighter that will never quit. It stirred the John Paul Jones in all of us -- " I have not yet begun to fight!" Unfortunately, our actions speak louder than the speakers at the movie theater.
I read today where Tony Blair and the Brits are talking compromise with the Iranians. Why wouldn't they? When have we shown any evidence we will support the actions when it gets too hard? After the bombing in Spain that country was derided for the political decision to no longer send troops to Iraq. What is any different in the Spanish activities than those proposed by Murtha, Kerry and others? It has been oft repeated the quotation that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Will we make the same mistakes as we have made since the end of World War II? Will America lack the stomach to finish the job? Will we leave our friends hanging? Why do we condemn the Iraqi President for making overtures to Iran? He knows we are about to screw him over, and he is looking to preserve what he can from the neighborhood bully.
Bin Laden said he knows he will win because we are weak. He knows we will submit before the cost is too high. He believes Islam will triumph over the American way because we would rather switch than fight. A look at history over the last 60 years indicates he might be right. Remember this, those of you with the old Red Dawn/ Wolverine spirit, if we do not fight tyranny and hate and extremism OVER there, we will be forced to do it here. Do we have the guts for that?