Yes, we win wars

QC

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http://www.captainsimonmann.com/

A repost from Simon Manns blog, the author makes some great points.

Given that the United States fields the costliest, most sophisticated, and most lethal military in the history of civilization, that should be a silly question. We have enough conventional and nuclear power to crush any of our enemies many times over. Why then did we seem to bog down in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan? The question is important since recently we do not seem able to translate tactical victories into long-term strategic resolutions. Why is that? What follows are some possible answers.
No—We Really Do Win Wars
Perhaps this is a poorly framed question: the United States does win its wars—if the public understands our implicit, limited strategic goals. In 1950 we wanted to push the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel and succeeded; problems arose when Gen. MacArthur and others redefined the mission as on to the Yalu in order to unite the entire Korean peninsula, a sort of Roman effort to go beyond the Rhine or Danube. Once we redefined our mission in 1951 as one more limited, we clearly won in Korea by preserving the South.
 

Marauder06

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Some good points raised in the article.

Why don't win "win" wars like we used to? Mainly because we don't fight them the way we used to. The physical and emotion cost of modern conflicts are borne by so small a portion of our society, that it's not "real" to most of America. "There's a war on? Oh well, it doesn't affect me," so there is no real push for change. Also, the wars we won previously were against nation-states, our current enemy is (supposedly) nation-less. Additionally, the "you break it, you bought it" attitude of the West when it comes to warfare is a very, very dangerous thing. Nationbuilding isn't always the answer; sometimes it just makes good sense to kick a country's ass and head on back home. We also have this ridiculous, "no assassinations" policy. So, it's OK to target everyone below the guy who's causing the issues, but not the guy himself? Crazy.

Moreover, in every major war we have fought since WWII, we have allowed our enemies sanctuary in another country, where we lacked the political (but not the military) ability to get after them. In Korea it was China, in Viet Nam it was places like Cambodia and Laos, in Iraq II it was Iraq and Syria, and in Afghanistan it is, of course, Pakistan. With largely-untouchable sanctuaries and either tacit or outright support from another state, even relatively small-sized enemies can keep the war going for virtually ever. Actually, that's not true, they'll just keep it going until we decide to go back home, which is what we normally decide to do. Concurrent with that is the West's current obsession with risk aversion. Why weren't there massive insurgencies in Germany and Japan after they were defeated? Well, in part because they were completely crushed by things like carpet bombing and very liberal rules of engagement. Most of the people who had the will to resist were ultimately killed, captured, or had the fight ground out of them by the tempo and intensity of the conflict. Meanwhile, these days we're worried about things like "night raids" and drone strikes because they might piss off the nice little terrorists who are trying to kill us.

Also, the reason we can't seem to win wars these days is because "victory" keeps changing. Why are we in Afghanistan again? 1) to defeat the Taliban- check. 2) to kill Osama bin Laden- yep did that too. 3) defeat AQ... does anyone really think that AQ in Afghanistan is a threat to anyone anymore? If we want to get serious about defeating Islamic extremism in the region, we need to push a little further east. As in, the next country east of Afghanistan. So yeah, I'm marking "defeat AQ in Afghanistan" done too. In Iraq it was "WMD," which turned out not to exist. Then it was "get Saddam," well we did that, and we got his two sons too. So why did we stick around longer?

And then we have our leaders coming up with plans for "responsible transition" instead of "victory." No one wants to talk about victory anymore, because no one knows what it looks like.

And finally, we have all of this "responsibility to protect" business. We're letting that overshadow everything else that might come after. I go where I'm directed by the President and the officers appointed over me, but if I had a choice, I would NOT go to places like Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria and help set the conditions for governments to take over who are only going to hate us even more than the guys currently in power.
 

QC

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True point that last, as the author pointed out, do nothing and be blamed for doing nothing, try to sort it out and be blamed for being an Imperialist power.
 

Spider6

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Yet another reason why I'm thankful for this cite!

In your opinion why do we keep doing such a terrible job on the strategic level? I just started ILE where I was taught to develop and brief a strategic estimate. during which we were making recommendations, indirectly, to the State Dept. I'm still struggling with this one.


Some good points raised in the article.

Why don't win "win" wars like we used to? Mainly because we don't fight them the way we used to. The physical and emotion cost of modern conflicts are borne by so small a portion of our society, that it's not "real" to most of America. "There's a war on? Oh well, it doesn't affect me," so there is no real push for change. Also, the wars we won previously were against nation-states, our current enemy is (supposedly) nation-less. Additionally, the "you break it, you bought it" attitude of the West when it comes to warfare is a very, very dangerous thing. Nationbuilding isn't always the answer; sometimes it just makes good sense to kick a country's ass and head on back home. We also have this ridiculous, "no assassinations" policy. So, it's OK to target everyone below the guy who's causing the issues, but not the guy himself? Crazy.

Moreover, in every major war we have fought since WWII, we have allowed our enemies sanctuary in another country, where we lacked the political (but not the military) ability to get after them. In Korea it was China, in Viet Nam it was places like Cambodia and Laos, in Iraq II it was Iraq and Syria, and in Afghanistan it is, of course, Pakistan. With largely-untouchable sanctuaries and either tacit or outright support from another state, even relatively small-sized enemies can keep the war going for virtually ever. Actually, that's not true, they'll just keep it going until we decide to go back home, which is what we normally decide to do. Concurrent with that is the West's current obsession with risk aversion. Why weren't there massive insurgencies in Germany and Japan after they were defeated? Well, in part because they were completely crushed by things like carpet bombing and very liberal rules of engagement. Most of the people who had the will to resist were ultimately killed, captured, or had the fight ground out of them by the tempo and intensity of the conflict. Meanwhile, these days we're worried about things like "night raids" and drone strikes because they might piss off the nice little terrorists who are trying to kill us.

Also, the reason we can't seem to win wars these days is because "victory" keeps changing. Why are we in Afghanistan again? 1) to defeat the Taliban- check. 2) to kill Osama bin Laden- yep did that too. 3) defeat AQ... does anyone really think that AQ in Afghanistan is a threat to anyone anymore? If we want to get serious about defeating Islamic extremism in the region, we need to push a little further east. As in, the next country east of Afghanistan. So yeah, I'm marking "defeat AQ in Afghanistan" done too. In Iraq it was "WMD," which turned out not to exist. Then it was "get Saddam," well we did that, and we got his two sons too. So why did we stick around longer?

And then we have our leaders coming up with plans for "responsible transition" instead of "victory." No one wants to talk about victory anymore, because no one knows what it looks like.

And finally, we have all of this "responsibility to protect" business. We're letting that overshadow everything else that might come after. I go where I'm directed by the President and the officers appointed over me, but if I had a choice, I would NOT go to places like Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria and help set the conditions for governments to take over who are only going to hate us even more than the guys currently in power.

I agree completely sir. In your opinion would it be more viable to go in and defeat our enemies then pull out once the job is done? then if necessary do it again later on if they get out of hand again. IMHO fewer American lives would be lost.
 
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