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"Why the US Loses Wars" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2023 8:06 p.m. PST

"The United States has the most powerful military in the world. Yet it just keeps losing wars. Why?


The United States, we are told, is the most powerful nation in world history, the sole superpower, winner of the Cold War, the "indispensable nation,"


a "hyperpower" that has achieved "full spectrum dominance" and "command of the commons" over all other military forces on Earth. Yet the US failed to achieve its objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, was defeated outright in Vietnam, and since World War II won unambiguous victories only in the first Gulf War of 1991, a war with the strictly limited objective of expelling Iraq from Kuwait, and in various "police actions" against pathetically small and weak opponents…"


Main page


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Armand

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2023 8:47 p.m. PST

Since the end of WWII the US population and politicians have decided that our values are not important enough to force on other people. And are barely enough to defend. So Korea is still an on-going conflict, we lost Vietnam, we bungled Iraq, and we lost Afghanistan. We are not willing to do the massive attacks that are necessary to close with and destroy the enemy.

We want to be proportional. We want to be nice. We don't want to hurt anyone, if it can be avoided. That leads to wars that like Afghanistan, and Vietnam, and Iraq that were never quite lost and never quite won. They simply continued because we let the other side have the initiative. As long at the enemy survived he knew he would win because eventually we would quit.

Don't give Ukraine 50 Bradleys and 14 Challengers. Give them 500 Bradleys and 500 Abrams. That might be enough to win the war. Dribs and drabs only prolong the war.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek.

Zephyr119 Jan 2023 9:56 p.m. PST

" politicians"

…with no exit strategy.

Mr Elmo20 Jan 2023 4:25 a.m. PST

We lost the will to fight total war.

More rubble, less trouble!

Midlander6520 Jan 2023 4:26 a.m. PST

What actual state-on-state war, where the enemy wears a uniform and isn't indistinguishable from the general population has the US lost since 1812?

smithsco20 Jan 2023 4:33 a.m. PST

@Bunkermeister I agree on the numbers but think Biden is doing this as strategy. Enough to keep Ukraine in it but not win it. Winning it leads to Russia using nuclear weapons and frankly I think NATO is willing to bleed Russia white using Ukrainians to do it.

Nine pound round20 Jan 2023 5:06 a.m. PST

Because the existence of a large and highly capable standing military has become an irresistible temptation to politicians with problems. Leaders of both parties have seen how successful the military is at winning wars against sovereign states like Germany or Iraq, and so they turn over all kinds of problems to it, for lack of a better idea.

And that's even before we get to dicier phenomena, like "hmmm, my poll numbers are dropping," or "you know, my legacy isn't real clear right now."

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2023 6:38 a.m. PST

Mike,I don't think we care so much about being nice as some of us do about making money. If we do not get a handle on our procurement non-system, it could be our downfall in the future.
We do not get the geopolitical aspects of insurgences and intervention. It seems like we create heroes and martyrs in local populations, take control of local resources, stiffen resistance. Forcing our values on other people, other cultures is not a military objective. Controlling their resources is. Money trumps supporting self-determination. For some reason, other countries may not like this.

The nuclear era changed the geopolitical objectives. You cannot go in and soundly destroy and defeat other countries with conventional weapons without considering the nuclear response possibilities from somewhere.

Raynman Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2023 6:51 a.m. PST

Once lawyers and politicians get involved, we lose. Once it has gotten to the war part, lawyers and politicians need to butt out and stay quiet until the conflict is completed.

Andy ONeill20 Jan 2023 7:21 a.m. PST

Lack of clear direction and planning.

No will to carry through.

Committing to these invasions should have had a bigger threshold.

Plans should have been thought through and commitments made.

Invading Iraq was done on false premises. Due diligence was not done.

I think the assumption western values could be exported to Iraq might well have been one of the problems.

In any case. There were no WMD and as it turned out the demon leader of Iraq was actually the one exterminating extremists.

The invasion was won in Iraq.

The peace was thrown away because of lack of commitment.

Politicians did not understand they should pay the soldiers who had formed the losing army.

Without their $20 USD each they were forced to work for people those same US politicians REALLY would not have liked them to work for.

A number of these were experts at building bombs.

One of the reasons for more recent losses was IEDs.

The whole trip to Afghanistan was a mistake.

Obvious lessons were not learnt from the Soviet occupation.

Osama's AIM was to try and get america tar pitted in afghanistan.

But if america really wanted to.

Then the politicians should have committed to doing anything necessary to ruin the Taliban.

Stopping the money should have been high priority.

Imagination and commitment would have been necessary.

It should have been possible to foresee that. OK. maybe not the details of how the Taliban were going to be such a nuisance. It is no secret how money is made in Afghanistan. There were plenty of studies into how poppies could be replaced by other crops.

Just buying the entire output would have been way cheaper than what happened.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2023 7:27 a.m. PST

We win the initial conflict, as in driving the Taliban out of cities and into the hills, Defeating Saddam, etc., then the politicians get involved and decide we have to nation build and try to install democracies/republics in areas where there is not enough education, interest, will and with too many religious and cultural differences to ever make it work.

That is a waste of time, resources, money and lives and it is all on the shoulders of our politicians.

Just for example in Afghanistan. Once we drove the Taliban out and inflicted casualties and they fled into the mountains. What if we had packed up and left? Would the Taliban come back from the mountains? Probably. But once settled in again into the cities, how much easier to defeat them and drive them out again? Maybe you have to do it 4 or 5 times. But eventually they are going to suffer enough casualties to make them see the futility of it and stay in the Mountains. Defeating them in the cities is much faster, cheaper casualty wise, money and equipment wise, than the prolonged multi decade occupations, support and conflict we get into with "nation building". It's Not perfect, but really, what is?

Striker20 Jan 2023 10:42 a.m. PST

I thought the last "War" we were in was WWII? The rest are just "something not war but a lot of people die". Hate to have to take a vote and declare a war when you can just half-step things.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2023 10:58 a.m. PST

Not sure I would agree that the US continues to lose wars. Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf, Iraq War, destruction of ISIS were all victories. However, we then do tend to fail in the aftermath of the conflicts.

Royston Papworth20 Jan 2023 11:10 a.m. PST

If Ukraine achieves its objectives and the war is over, what next?

Do people think Ukraine will demob or will they become the new kid on the block?

And what about Russia, will they quietly rebuild ready for next time or implode?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2023 2:51 p.m. PST

Thanks.

Armand

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2023 3:11 p.m. PST

I'm pretty sure we can still kick the $#!^ outta Trinidad & Tobago if we need to!

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse20 Jan 2023 5:07 p.m. PST

Grattan54 + 1 … We have to remember that we fought unconventional wars in Vietnam, A'stan, and even later stages in Iraq. With Guerilla Warfare in many cases we can't use all our firepower on all the targets we need to. E.g. the WH would not let us bomb Hanoi until later in the war.

In both A'stan & Iraq[even in Vietnam] we were very concerned about collateral damage. So again, it limited our use of firepower. Plus, in all those locations … it was their backyard. Sooner or later the "invaders" will get tired of taking losses and spending $ and go home.

The insurgents knew that … they were not going anywhere regardless of their loses. Even if some of our targets were off limits, IIRC we dropped more tonnage of bombs on Vietnam/SE Asia that in WWII ? Someone correct me if I am wrong. So again, they didn't care how many they lost. They weren't going anywhere. They out lasted the French … they would out last the USA/SEATO.

The same in A'stan, they out lasted the USSR. Before that the UK. Then they would out last the USA. Iraq the same, they are not going anywhere. They, like in A'stan left to their own devices, they went back to old habits of killing each other off. Because of old religious, tribal, ethnic, mullah, warlord, etc. affiliations.

There was no way we were going change those [failed or failing]nations as long as they are wedded to old bad habits, hatreds, etc.

We couldn't win … We found that out too late ?

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2023 7:53 p.m. PST

Lost what war? Raytheon stock went from $21 USD per share in September 2001 to $86 USD per share in September 2021. General Dynamics: $48 USD to over $200. USD Etc.

The IRA won those wars.

soledad21 Jan 2023 4:14 a.m. PST

I am not American but I'm very grateful to America. USA saved Western Europe during WWII, no question. USA stopped communism expansion in Korea. USA stopped communism expansion in Vietnam. USA stopped communism expansion in Latin America.

You guaranteed a free and vibrant Western Europe during the Cold War. USA liberated Kuwait during the -90s.

Without the US western Europe would look very very different. USA has guaranteed that many small countries now are free and not under Russian control, countries such as Latvia, Lithuaina and Estonia.

The wars in A-stan and Iraq were in the end unsuccessful but not because of not trying. The main problem there was, in my mind, that they are not like us and had no interest of being like us.

They are different, have different cultures and beliefs. Different outlook on life. They want their way of life not "ours".

that kind of war cannot be won by force. But I truly pity the fool who wants to test US armed forces on the battlefield. A place where US can bring their whole war machine to bear.

Would the US suffer casualties? Yes, without a doubt. US would lose men and machines in droves but the enemy would be utterly crushed.

I truly believe no country could stand up to the US war machine in a "Ukraine style war".

It is our good fortune that USA is a good friendly neighbor that actually cares alot for other people without asking for much in return.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 6:09 a.m. PST

Thank you Soledad. A perspective not often mentioned.

For the last few years Americans have been so busy with internal smackdowns that we have become our least objective opponents. At no other time in our history have we so consistently failed to see the forest for the trees. Not since the Civil War have we opposed ourselves with such vitriolic obsession.

Lincoln was right. The most dangerous threat to the United States is from within.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 10:33 a.m. PST

+1 Tortorella. Sad but true. Also, a lot of self-hate going around.

Andy ONeill21 Jan 2023 10:34 a.m. PST

Fwiw I find some of the rhetoric about US civil war just bemusing.

It's "what the Bleeped text". Are you having a lafff? Bonkers.

America is the"new" western super power and took the baton from GB at the end of ww2. Britain used to try to set the world to right ( with a bit of self interest leaking through of course )

Now USA is the country does this.

You guys should focus on your country's positives. And yes. I think that includes your present administration.

A stable world economy is of course in America's interests as well.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse21 Jan 2023 11:06 a.m. PST

Lost what war? Raytheon stock went from $21 USD USD per share in September 2001 to $86 USD USD per share in September 2021. General Dynamics: $48 USD USD to over $200. USD USD Etc.
Yes, and many cashed in on that. Won't say who. But IIRC that is called insider trading.

Soledad +1 Seems we don't hear that too often today.

I truly believe no country could stand up to the US war machine in a "Ukraine style war".
I do believe that is a safe bet. If the Russians military is as poor as it is. They would be crushed. E.g. if we took them on in the Ukraine, etc. However, as I have mentioned before I think the US Military is wasting too much time on wokeness, pronouns, etc., etc.
That is not real training for combat. As a Rifle Plt Ldr and later Mech Co. Cdr. I have a "pretty good working knowledge" of prepping for combat. We spent most of our time doing that.

There are contractors in the Pentagon that are there to insure wokeness, CRT, 1619 Project, pronouns, transgenderism, etc., etc., is being taught to our Military. That has now place in training for going to war. It divides instead of brings together cohesive combat units. Sometimes my Vet comrades & I question the readiness of, e.g. the Army. We hope we are wrong.

Regardless … An invasion of "mother" Russia and drive on Moscow, etc. would be an major error. Even if no WMDs are used. But as we know, Russian Tactical doctrine called for the use of Tac Nukes. Don't want to go down that road …

The most dangerous threat to the United States is from within.
Very much so … and we see that more so today than ever before. 'nuff said …

You guys should focus on your country's positives.
We are under a very woke, etc., very vocal minority that is running the show. The tail wagging the dog.

And yes. I think that includes your present administration.
I'm not going to go there, I will surely be DH'd. As the old saying goes "Spend some time in my shoes" … 'nuff said …

Cerdic22 Jan 2023 3:27 a.m. PST

From an outside perspective, the US doesn't "lose wars".

What it loses is ‘police actions' against insurgents. Hardly surprising. Nobody is going to win that kind of caper. Why do you think Britain and France etc walked away from their empires after WW2…

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa22 Jan 2023 3:52 a.m. PST

Well we were kind of pushed in some circumstances … no names, no pack drill, otherwise +1 Cerdic

My personal opinion is the whole different culture-thing is an excuse from both sides of the spectrum. The fundamental problem is political will, sometimes lack of foresight, preparedness for the long game and sticking power – though that I will admit is a thorny one since ultimately it can come down to public opinion and the US is a democracy. And for the record the US and others were loosing these kind of conflicts since well before 'woke' was a thing…

Striker22 Jan 2023 8:16 a.m. PST

I would say it's not so much political will as political intelligence. A'stan as an example: about the most obvious example in history that some countries will resist an outside force to the hilt, yet the US said "nah, that doesn't apply to us we're special". Same results as the others. For the amount of "the best and the brightest" the US employs it likes to walk itself into situations that are just a big yard of dog poo, yet blindfold on and confidence high here we go walking barefoot. The phrase "stay in your lane" seems to apply pretty well to the US, and that lane is stand-up force on force fighting ala Gulf 1.

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2023 1:03 p.m. PST

Nobody is going to win that kind of caper.

Malaya, Singapore, Burma, Borneo, Malaysia, Kenya.

Some do win that kind of caper, even if it takes 41 years (Malaya-Malaysia). But it requires a mindset that doesn't start and stop at "Firepower" and a coherent strategy- including setting up a viable, non-puppet government- to be in place.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse22 Jan 2023 2:32 p.m. PST

The US had no choice but to go to A'stan after 9/11. We could not let that attack go without reacting.

ultimately it can come down to public opinion and the US is a democracy.
Yes but in both Iraq & A'stan there was not real exit strategy, etc.

Obama said he'd pull our troops out of Iraq when running for POTUS. Left the Iraqi leadership to its own devices. The Shia majority wanted payback, etc. Then we saw the rise of ISIS. Then the US had to go back. We still have troops there as well as Syria.

The withdrawal from A'stan was poorly thought out, etc. It was more about optics, etc., IMO. I don't believe any Military or Intel Advisors would have recommended that plan. It was another election promise. Some senior US officers believed we should have kept Bagram. With 2500 troops in country. Along with the 7000-8000 NATO troops. I agree with this. But again, boxes had to be checked by elected & appointed officials. And is now a living Hell for everyone but the Taliban/AQ.

including setting up a viable, non-puppet government- to be in place.
That was part of the failure in Vietnam, A'stan & Iraq.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2023 6:24 p.m. PST

Signing a deal with the Taliban, especially after they kept attacking us during the negotiations, was not a good idea either. Terrorists.

Druzhina22 Jan 2023 8:03 p.m. PST

Signing a unilateral deal with the Taliban left the Afghan Government in the lurch. What kind of an ally signs a separate peace? After this the Afghan Government had no leverage to negotiate with the Taliban. The US predicted the Afghan Army could fight for 6 months. The Afghan Army knew this prediction, so why fight if your going to lose anyway – may as well change sides to be on the winning side.


Druzhina
Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse23 Jan 2023 4:17 p.m. PST

Signing a deal with the Taliban, especially after they kept attacking us during the negotiations, was not a good idea either. Terrorists.
They had not attacked the US/NATO for 18 months while an attempt was made at some sort of "coalition" gov't. They also knew as long as the US held Bagram, with all the strike assets there they would not be able to do much without getting attacked. The leadership in the US gov't at that time, had basically said, "We know where your village is". The Taliban like the VC/NVA knew eventually the US, etc. would leave.

Signing a unilateral deal with the Taliban left the Afghan Government in the lurch. What kind of an ally signs a separate peace? After this the Afghan Government had no leverage to negotiate with the Taliban.
That is one reason that the former US leadership pretty much limited talks with the Taliban. They were not following what were the conditions of the talks. The US, and in turn NATO would remain until something could be worked out. Which I believe the US knew would never come about.

You are dealing with religious fundamentalists/terrorists/jihadis living in the past. And just like in Vietnam, the side we supported were not up to the task to take on their enemies on their own.

As I said we may have been better off to take some of our GENs had advised. Leave 2500+ US forces in country holding Bagram. Plus the other NATO forces there, about 7000-8000 would be there too. As well as the ANA/ANP would fight[somewhat] if the US/NATO were still supporting them.

But once the Taliban saw the new US leadership was not like the one before. And was pushing leaving A'stan as an election promise, etc. When the Taliban started to take provinces and the US leadership did nothing. They saw that as a "Greenlight". And in turn they saw some of the glaring errors the new leadership was doing to leave A'stan. They continued to capture provinces.

As I have said before, abandoning Bagram and not telling the ANA or NATO. So there went our air support. Plus, the new leadership pulled out our troops before "evacing" our civilians. Then we had to go back and try to run an evac from the smaller airport next to Kabul. We saw how well that turned out. The evac was based on optics, etc. not sound military decisions.

And like in Vietnam the leadership of A'stan was nowhere near up the task of taking on the Taliban alone. As South Vietnam was with taking on the NVA/VC.

Thresher0123 Jan 2023 10:24 p.m. PST

Incompetent political leadership and political meddling in military affairs.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2023 7:53 a.m. PST

It was an election promise made by both candidates, Legion. The prior POTUS promised to end it and cut a deal with the Taliban. Liz Cheney led the charge to tell him it was a mistake, would not work because you cannot trust terrorists. The Taliban had no intentions we could trust and they took advantage of a political move that undermined the Afghan government and opened the door.

I agree the current POTUS owns the evac mess, but the table was set before. I just don't think the Taliban, AQ, etc. care who the US President is anyway. As far as they are concerned, it's their country to take back to the Middle Ages.

Thresher +1. Legion's Bagram plan, +1 (But forget the Afghan army)

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse24 Jan 2023 9:56 a.m. PST

Incompetent political leadership and political meddling in military affairs.
Bingo !

It was an election promise made by both candidates, Legion.
I know, but the previous POTUS told the Taliban if they don't follow the restrictions of the agreements, etc. we won't leave. And the Taliban didn't seem to care. They were leaving the US/NATO pretty much alone. For at least 18 months. But they knew the US wanted to leave. Sooner or later. We leave on our own accord. Not another Saigon. Guess many of our senior leaders at the top don't study history ? Or care …

That member of Congress you mentioned holds no sway with me … 'nuff said

But the next POTUS made no such caveats to the Taliban/AQ, AFAIK.

The hurried A'stan evac debacle was more about optics, politics, etc. Being able to say the war was ended by 9/11, etc. In a combat situation, from what I can tell "optics/politics" from top leadership will get someone killed. E.g. 13 US troops at Kabul. Plus, there are still some WIAs from that jihadis/terrorist attack, in hospital. Don't know how many may have been maimed from losing limbs, etc.? I bet those at the very top don't know either …

but the table was set before.
The table was reset based on optics, etc.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2023 11:10 a.m. PST

I agree that the evac was driven by politics, but that doesn't excuse the poor execution. Somebody made a decision not to hold Bagram, and it was the wrong one. The buck stops at the top in any case.

There was no appearance of decisive leadership either during the evac. At least we had the public posturing down in the last admin. We acted tough, but people forgot that we should never negotiate with these guys, especially while undermining the government we had supported for years. At least the Taliban were uninvited from Camp David. Once the Afghan government appeared sidelined, some Afghans knew it was time to change sides.

The Taliban made plenty of trouble during the negotiations, which they had little interest in honoring, if that is possible for terrorists. Once the deal was signed and we reduced air cover for the Afghan army as part of the deal, the Taliban increased their attacks dramatically. The beginning of the end.

But really, the big question now is – what did we learn and how will we apply it in the future.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2023 2:44 p.m. PST

Good question….

Armand

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse24 Jan 2023 6:24 p.m. PST

The Taliban made plenty of trouble during the negotiations, which they had little interest in honoring, if that is possible for terrorists. Once the deal was signed and we reduced air cover for the Afghan army as part of the deal, the Taliban increased their attacks dramatically. The beginning of the end.
All true … we knew they couldn't be trusted. But we had to try. They had not attacked the US/NATO in 18 months. While these talks were going on. And in the end IMO and others of much higher rank than I, holding Bagram, etc. as I have outlined would have been "the best of a bad situation". Even NATO didn't want to leave. They wanted to keep the terrorist troglodytes there … killing each other, etc. As they have been for Centuries.

The USA demonstrated very poor leadership and just like in Vietnam & Iraq, their leaders were very poor too. That is why exceptional leaders are praised, remembered in history, etc. We have not seen those types of leaders for a very long time. However, IMO the US had some very good military leaders/GENs during the Gulf Wars and GWOT.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2023 3:47 p.m. PST

@Legion 4:

Yes, and many cashed in on that. Won't say who. But IIRC that is called insider trading.

The writing on the wall is not material, non-public, information.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse30 Jan 2023 8:39 a.m. PST

Well, I better check if my broker has some Raytheon in my portfolio.

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