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"Why Can’t the World’s Best Military Win Its Wars?" Topic

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933 hits since 4 May 2018
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 9:52 p.m. PST

""This time, they think they have it right."

So declared an Associated Press story reporting an upbeat assessment by this country's top military officer at the end of a five-day visit to Afghanistan earlier this spring. Marine general Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was heading home from the war zone, the A.P. reporter wrote, "with a palpable sense of optimism" about the U.S.-supported war against Taliban and Islamic State fighters there.

Light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps?

The story didn't say whether any of the reporters listening to Dunford asked why it had taken more than 16 years for the world's leading military power to come up with the "fundamentally different approach" that the general believes has put U.S. and Afghan forces on the path to success…."
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USAFpilot04 May 2018 10:31 p.m. PST

Just reading the title of this post, I'd answer that the United States has not been "at war" since 1945. Since the end of WWII, the US has been involved in many conflicts around the world but none on a scale to match WWII. If we really went to "war", we would either win or the United States would cease to exist.

Lion in the Stars05 May 2018 3:38 a.m. PST

Why can't the US win a war?


Either they don't define victory conditions, or they make it impossible to achieve the victory conditions they do define.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 5:43 a.m. PST

The various administrations that have dragged us into wars have never bothered to ask Congress for formal constitutionally required declarations of war.
A wimpy "authorization to use force" doesn't count. Look at how many signatories pretended they never voted that way. (Naming no names to get past the 10-year "no politics" rule.)
Korea was an undeclared "Police Action". Vietnam was founded on a lie, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. In all of the various Gulf Wars, congressional approval was grudgingly sought, if at all. Bombing Serbia, ditto.

The sneaky genius of the Founding Fathers is shown here. The President is Commander in Chief. But only Congress can declare war. This ensures that Congress has its head on the block. Blaming the lack of support on "politicians" is besides the point. A politician has to seek popular support to get re-elected. Thus a formal declaration of war is supposed to represent popular support. If a war cannot get a declaration, meaning that the president is too chicken Bleeped text to ask for one, then it should not be fought.
Imagine how different the history of the United States would have been, had the Executive bothered to seek Congressional, that is popular, support for its various beyond the border adventures.
Just one example, how would the attitude of the citizens of the various sovereign nations in Central America and the Caribbean be towards us if a formal declaration of war was sought before sending in the Marines?

Blaming the "politicians" means that you don't think a war requires popular support.
Here is a list of the 11 formal declarations of war passed by Congress.
Notice how many were successful. Notice how many Wars are not there.
How successful were they?

My point is that you have to get the people behind you. Acting like you resent having to get Congressional, i. e. popular support only undermines your ability to wage war.

I'm talking about American involvement here, since that seems to be the point if the OP. "Hitler never bothered to get formal popular support!" That worked out well for him, didn't it? grin

14Bore05 May 2018 6:52 a.m. PST

Politicians control wars.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 7:45 a.m. PST

Like almost everyone who has commented, or will comment in this thread, I didn't read the article in the link before I posted. I just did, and suggest that anyone wishing to add their two cents do so.
It's enlightening.

Not that I want to go back and change what I wrote above. grin
Quod scripsi scripsi.
It just seems more appropriate for a different thread.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 11:27 a.m. PST

Agree with you John…


28mm Fanatik05 May 2018 2:14 p.m. PST

Because the stakes were higher for the other side than they were for us. In Vietnam, the enemy wanted to shake off the yoke of western imperialism more than we wanted to spread democracy around the world. In the ME, our objectives are simply to defeat terrorism but the enemies are fighting for their very survival.

In a long term contest of who wants to win more and who blinks first, we lost. We have a limit or threshold as to how much blood and treasure we're willing to spend to achieve political objectives.

paulgenna Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 2:23 p.m. PST

No military wins a war against rebels/insurgents without wiping them all out. We will not allow our military to do that level of destruction.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 6:53 p.m. PST

Good article.

"The politicians didn't let us win" argument falls flat when you look at the numbers of US personnel deployed, tons of ordnance expended, etc.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 8:57 p.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my friend!. (smile).


SouthernPhantom05 May 2018 10:11 p.m. PST

paulgenna, the US completely annihilated the VC/NLF as an effective fighting force during Tet. It is doable.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 4:18 a.m. PST

No political and history analysis for aims and peace settlement BEFORE fighting.
Dumb ROE, pc frightened of casualties politics…
Fighting the results, skipping the causes and certainly never going after those behind the ideas that create this particular ennemy, nor those who pay for them.

I'd be curious how the Chinese, next supermower, because of the unavoidable needs for supplies and secure coasts etc. will do. Pretty much ruthless I bet.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 5:03 a.m. PST

Has anyone bothered to actually read the link, or are you just responding to the title of the thread?
"Kill them all. Let God sort out the just."

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 8:20 a.m. PST

Has anyone bothered to actually read the link

Yes, interesting article although nothing particularly surprising in there, perhaps.

Some of the comments here do indicate there is still an uphill struggle though.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2018 3:45 a.m. PST

From a politician's point of view back then the whole Vietnam affair was a mess.

1) The ally they were trying to "save" turned out to be a viciously corrupt regime and even if the US had done the smart thing and invaded Hanoi and ousted the communists they didn't have a "Southern Vietnamese Adenhauer" to create a stable post-war state and it would be inevitable that the Chinese and Russia would keep on funding an insurgency for Crom knows how long.

2) They were spending a fortune sending a third world country back to the stone age and couldn't tell if all that bomb tonnage was actually making any difference.

If you go to war you have to assess the odds, what you need to do to stop the enemy from fighting. If like Vietnam they are funded by an outside source you can't stop, you're already losing the battle.

The first Gulf War was done by the book. They had a clear plan (evict Saddam from Kuwait), give him a bloody nose in the process and don't be so greedy as to oust him or leave him without the means to remain in power as his absence would create a power vacuum with unforeseen results.

This ticked off some people, who told Dubya that next time he should go for the throat no matter what and that everything would turn out fine, they would put people in power so that in no time democracy would bloom, kids would play whatever passes for baseball in Iraq while whatever passes for an apple pie is cooling on the window sill.

Wars are lost because you may be the strongest and win all the time (cf Hannibal and Napoleon), but he who has the winning end strategy wins (Scipio, Stalin etc)

Napoleon could never force a permanent people or win a decisive war. Same with Hannibal who could beat Romans in the field with one hand over his remaining eye, but didn't understand that he had to go to Rome and murder every man, woman and child before they would surrender. Scipio took Carthage and when they did try to rise again, the city was put to the sword.

Another good example is Japan, the only reason it all ended with two atom bombs instead of a long campaign to subdue the country is that the central authority turned off the switch and everything shut down. Had there been no such authority and the power was in the hands of many, Japan would have been a very ugly affair.

The main problem is that the US is like the OGRE cybertank on the hill, it's is immensely powerful, but can be roused into action by hitting it with a slingshot and despite all its might it's not always able to fight a problem in the correct manner.

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