Why America Keeps Losing Wars is a good subject but a pretty silly article. You may disagree; see what you think. Seems to me, America has lost every war it’s involved itself in since WWII.
The Korean war is still going on, technically speaking, no peace has ever been signed. And North Korea still sits there with nukes and troops poised at its border. Vietnam ended with people fighting to get onto U.S. helicopters retreating from North Vietnamese troops. Yean, we kicked Saddam out of Kuwait at enormous expense but had to turn around and return shortly afterward, with the result that Iraq is now supporting the Syrian dictator held up by Russia and China and buying its arms from Russia. And if anyone can find any gains from Afghanistan, please provide a list. The cost and dead people have already been listed.
Author Gladwell seems to think we lose because we fight underdogs all the time. He says underdogs have advantages America lacks and that’s why we lose when we tackle these smaller, allegedly weaker places. Right; that’s why every general since prehistory has always wanted to have more troops than his opponent. In boxing, they say that a so-so big guy doesn’t always beat a good little guy…but, that’s the way to bet. Mr. Gladwell needs to read some military history or visit a few wars, something his writing suggests hasn’t yet reached the top of his ‘to do’ list.
There is one very simple, very clear reason we lose all our wars these days and Gladwell hasn’t a clue: We aren’t trying to win them. That’s inarguable, really; we didn’t have to back off in Korea and hand the North to China. We certainly didn’t have to hand South Korea to the North after refraining from taking the fighting to those causing it. We simply didn’t care to win. In Iraq and Afghanistan, how does one even define ‘winning’?
With Korea, the U.S. has sent its military in to fight commanded by the politicians, with the generals hogtied by red tape and political oversight. In Vietnam, we didn’t dare bomb north of the Yalu river, which is where the enemy troops came from and were supported. In Afghanistan, we’ve not let our troops shoot back or defend themselves if any civilians are in danger; the Taliban like to do their shooting from among civilians as a result. Used to be, a politician couldn’t get to a general in the field and micromanage him so we won wars by killing people and blowing up stuff, which is what wars are about, historically. But cell phones, YouTube and the internet have put all that out in public and politicians flinch from it, leaving the advantage Mr. Gladwell hasn’t emphasized, to the enemy.
So America loses wars at great expense in lives and treasure but goes on pursuing them. Why? President Eisenhower’s farewell address contained some hints; he warned of the ‘military-industrial’ complex and its growing influence. Wars involve a lot of money, right? And the longer they last or the more of them there are, the more money. A lot of which goes to campaign contributions for both parties. No argument, that’s fact. How important it is to the subject, I leave to you.
But seems to me, if you’re going to war, you plan to do everything it takes to win your goal. If you’re not prepared for that, don’t go to war; it’s too costly, bad for morale and worst of all, clearly immoral. Remember morality? America used to make a lot of noise about it. Back when any time America went to war, the enemy knew we’d be fighting to win.
When you tell your troops in Afghanistan they can’t have bullets for their guns unless they’re on duty, you get of course, dead troops and bad attitudes. Pretty soon, you have a second rate military; it becomes as corrupt as the politicians who set standards for it. Ask a Roman centurion… if you speak archaic German.
We’ve been increasingly using our military for political gestures, prostituting it. Much more of that, and we may find some day that when a stand-up military is needed, all that’s left is whores.