America: Three wars, no victory.... Why?

A very interesting analysis of why we have not won a war against a real military since WII (Korea was a draw). I’m not sure about his analysis of Vietnam, unless he believes we could have ‘won’ by stationing large numbers of soldiers there indefinitely. But otherwise he’s made a good analysis.

Three Wars, No Victory – Why?
By Bing West February 18, 2021

America is the most powerful country in the history of the world, yet it has not won any of the three major wars it has fought over the past half century. This has not been due to a lack of effort and persistence. Our troops fought in Vietnam for nine years and in Iraq for a dozen. We’re still fighting after 20 years in Afghanistan, where our generals are asking the Taliban to stop attacking. That’s not a sign of success; the victor does not make such requests. The fact is that in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, America has failed in its mission to develop and sustain democracies.

What accounts for this trifecta of failure? Through luck and poor shooting by our enemies, in all three wars I was able to witness both the actual fighting on the ground and the creation of the high-level policies that shaped the wars. In this article, I lay out what I believe were the root causes of the failures. Oscar Wilde once remarked, “Two kinds of people are fascinating: people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.” I’m rendering one man’s opinion, while hoping to fall into neither category.

Broadly speaking, leadership in war comes from three hubs. The first consists of the military commanders who design strategy and decide how our troops will fight. The second hub is the policy-makers, including the president as commander in chief and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs as his military adviser, plus the theater commander, the CIA, the State Department, and the secretary of defense, who all give input. The third hub is the culture and popular mood of our country, as reflected by congressional votes and the slant of the mainstream press. The press does not report “just the facts”; rather, it presents a point of view by selecting which facts to focus upon. The popular mood is the ultimate fulcrum of political power, because the policy hub can’t fight a war without resources from Congress. …

The rest here:

We have not seen “victories” in all most all of the modern wars that we have fought because we have left the bad people and governments in place ehich were the reason we started the war.

When you think about it, we forced revolutions on Germany and Japan after World War II. We removed the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese from power completely. Doing that today would labeled as imperialist behavior on its face. Therefore, you see no “victories.”

I am not advocating that we remove such governments. I am simply stating the fact. In some nations, like Afghanistan, the cultural problems are so systematic that there probably is no fix. Radical Islam is firmly woven into the fabric of that society. The best one can do is keep it in check.

I think our problem was the same – not very good material to work with – in Vietnam. Kennedy had the President of South Vietnam murdered, in hopes of getting a better replacement. But I think that all the real Vietnamese nationalists – as opposed to people who just wanted to feather their own nests and found co operating with the white colonialists the best way to do it – had been killed off by the Vietminh during the Second World War, or absorbed by them – and so we didn’t have a viable replacement government that would have been genuinely nationalist and self-saicrficing, but not communist.

By ‘government’ I don’t just mean the top dozen or hundred, but cadres right down to the village level. Plus, we had a landlord problem, which in Taiwan and South Korea we dealt with by land reform.

Of course, you could have argued the same in South Korea and Taiwan. ‘Our’ South Koreans and Taiwanese were a rum lot for about thirty years – military dictatorships succeeded each other – but finally shaped up. So maybe it could have happened in Vietnam.

I think we could have converted both Mao and Ho into Asian Titos right after the Second World War – the Chinese didn’t trust the Russians and the Vietnamese didn’t trust the Chinese – and both of them expressed admiration for the Americans, who did not have the millstone of outright colonialism hanging around our necks. (We gave the Phllippines independence in 1945.) Okay, when that millstone proved too heavy for the French neck, and they offered it to us, we accepted.

We couldn’t have prevented them from ‘going Communist’, but they could have been ‘our Communists’, the way Tito in Yugoslavia was… and Yugoslavia lightened up pretty early, after some initial bloodletting.

But that’s all alternative history, and who knows?

I think Iraq is operationally like Afghanistan. A much higher cultural level, but divided into two hostile tribes, neither of which is going to govern in an honest way with respect to the other.

One of our leaders once suggested that we just partition the place at gunpoint into Sunni and Shia areas, and herd all the Shia’s one way over the line, and all the Sunni’s over the other way. A pretty brutal and hard-headed way of thinking, but the sort of unsentimental realism we probably need if we are going to be so foolish as to start kicking those tar-babies. It has certainly brought peace to Cyprus, another test of the ‘Diversity-is-strength’ slogan.

Now … .who was that guy who suggested that imperalist scheme? Oh yes, I remember: someone named ‘Joe Biden’ []

A side note. Whenever I encounter someone who is a genuine white supremacist, I think of how the white Jews and Christians who run America have been persuaded by the dusky Muslim Pakistanis to give the latter billions of dollars over the last couple of decades – for ‘education’ and ‘anti-terrorism’ work, ha ha. (Bin Laden’s rather prominent compound was a few hundred yards from a Pakistani military installation.) Who’re the smarter people in that transaction?

White supremacy? White gullible idiocy is more like it. (Rumors that the Pakistanis persuaded Uncle Sucker to send the moolah directly to Swiss bank accounts, since Pakistani banks were ‘insecure’, have not been confirmed.)

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Since I was an accounting major in undergraduate school so I didn’t take a lot of history courses. Most of what I know now, I’ve learned through self-study.

One of the two political science courses I took was from a teacher who was “the most radical professor on campus.” His contract had not been renewed for that reason, and this was his last semester at that school. It was hard to get seats in his class, but I guess he picked me because I was a business major, “who might be recused from a life a sin.” Actually, he was quite moderate by today’s standards.

One of concepts I learned from him was that many of cultural characteristics of a nation remain the same, even when the communists gain control of the government. The Russians were brutal dictators before the communists took over. They didn’t change a great deal after that.

Vietnam was something similar. What most Vietnamese wanted was to get the colonists out of their country, which was a most reasonable goal. That movement centered around Ho Chi Mein because he was the national leader that led the resistance. Ho was a communist, but that didn’t mean that he was going to become a client state of China. The Vietnamese never like or trusted the Chinese, and that has not changed since the communist takeover there. People need to recall that the two countries have had a couple of minor shooting wars over past four decades. They are not allies.

It’s too bad that the American politicians from the 1950s and ‘60s failed to realize that. It would have saved a lot of American lives. As @Doug1943 has pointed out, Ho could have been another Tito.

Instead we wasted lives and assets on a useless war that we lost. Far worse, the young radicals of my generation became infected with the communist disease which has now spread though out academia. Ironically, fighting the war that was supposed to contain communism has now brought it to our country.

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Nothing I can add to this, except to stick up for the poor Russians.
They had dictators – the Czars, none of them 1/10th as brutal as Stalin (who wasn’t even a Russian) – but they didn’t necessarily like them, and they didn’t have to end up with a continuation of them.

The peasantry, 90% of the population, were not educated liberal democrats, but neither were they slavish adherents of the church and the crown, as they proved in 1917. And every young person of any spirit in Russia was some sort of radical or revolutionary under the Czar.

That the Communists ended up in power was an accident of history – a weak, bumbling Provisional Government after the Czar was overthrown spontaneously, which would not get out of the war. It felt it had to keep its promises to the Allies. The Russian Army was primitive compared to the Germans and Austrians, and paid a terrible human price for it. The peasant-in-uniform did not want Communism and collective farms, he wanted out of the war, and also to go home and get his share of the landlord’s estates when they were divided up.

The Communists understood this and shaped their policy around it. (They already had substantial influence among urban workers, but these were a minority of Russian society, albeit influential because of their concentration in cities.)

And: in contrast to the popular image of the shambling, inefficient, Russians … Lenin constructed a magnificent machine, ideal for revolutions. A hard core of dedicated ‘professional’ revolutionaries, surrounded by a periphery of ‘mass organizations’, trade unions, women’s groups, even a journal devoted to ‘Problems of Insurance’ (social insurance).

The John Birch Society, founded by Robert Welch, was modelled on this. Unfortunately, Welch was a paranoid, and took the Birch Society into the political wilderness, where it remains today, with his observation that President Eisenhower was ‘a conscious agent of the communist conspiracy’. Ouch!

We need a conservative Lenin today, and we need the kind of organization he built.

We had that with Trump for a while, but his thin skin and ego turned him into a politician without coattails. His meltdown after the 2020 presidential election has pretty finished his national aspirations. He’s got a following, but it’s limited.

In the old days a guy like FDR could build a base like that. The last one who did it for a while was LBJ until he wondered off into the Vietnam quagmire.

Ah, I’m not making myself clear.

Trump was the exact opposite of Lenin. Lenin had no mass following, and was practically unknown to the Russian masses when the Bolsheviks took power. Nor was the Bolshevik Party a mass party – in fact, in What Is To Be Done, written at the beginning of the century, Lenin explicitly disavowed building a mass, and therefore politically broad, party. He wanted a tight organization of highly-committed ‘professional revolutionaries’. This party would exercise mass influence, but not aim for a mass membership at the expense of ideological cohesion and strong committment from its membership. Just the opposite of Trump and the Republican Party.

More important, Lenin was highly-educated, intelligent, and a good strategist. He had almost no personal ego or personal ambitions – he was totally dedicated to ‘the Revolution’. His
speeches and writings are dull, perhaps as a consequence of this. The perfect opposite to Trump.

I don’t think there are any candidates for a conservative Lenin, sadly. And life in the US is, and probably will be until some huge crash, too good, too rewarding, for people to want to be highly-dedicated politcal animals, going to four or five meetings a week, organizing demontrations, etc. You can find that sort of dedication on the Left, but it’s much rarer on the Right.

We’ve got lots of intelligent and well-educated people – and I don’t mean just our columnists and pundits and authors. I look at a lot of conservative sites, and other sites where conservatives post, and I’m always impressed with the number of ‘rank-and-file’ people, who have normal day jobs, but who are very well informed about politics and history and economics, and articulate. (Not to flatter anyone here, but this site is typical.)

And yet they will not be brought together into a dedicated, disciplined, committed organization. (I couldn’t even get a half-dozen qualified people together to do some on-line OSINT anti-Fa work.)

Never mind. Après nous, le déluge!

Lenin shared one thing with the current batch of Democrats in 2020. Every event fell his way. World War I let him get back into the country courtesy of the Germans who “exported” him into the country in a sealed railway care. The Russians were sick of the war, and that gave Lenin the chance to surrender a large, but unimportant part of Russia to get them out of the war. The war helped seal the country to that Lenin could enact his plans.

Biden and company have gotten every break and now have the perfect chance to make this a one party country. Really nothing can stop them, except themselves.

Yes. This is true. We don’t know what would have happened in Russia, had they stayed out of the war. Things were coming apart … an increasing level of strikes, etc. But the Czar might have wised up and listened to his advisers and liberalized things enough to be able to make the transition to a European-style Constitutional monarchy… but we’ll never know.

The thing is, the future is not predictable. We don’t know what the values of the variables we do know about will be, and as Mr Rumsfeld said,there are variables we don’t even know about at all.

But, in the nature of things, we will get some breaks too. Then the question will be,will our leadership … such as it is … be able to take advantage of them?

I can foresee the current administration having lots of problems, even if someone without poor Joe Biden’s fading mental capacities were in charge. Some of them are problems we would have had too --how to deal with a growing China, for instance, and an increasingly-unstable Mexico.

We need someone like another William Jenning Bryan! A much under-estimated man! ( See By the way, this blog is really worth reading from time to time. Always provoking, and the amazing thing is, its author is about 20 years old. And he studies aeronautical engineering, not history or politics.)

We did that in Iraq, we liquidated the Baathists, and installed a Shia-dominated Government.

It failed spectacularly, because it meant all of the expert soldiers and bureaucrats were now out of a job, and were promptly “hired” by militias and syndicates.

They were the only ones keeping a nationalist identity of Iraq together. With them pushed out as “the enemy” Iraq quickly succumbed to being in-fighting tribes.

You’re kidding right?

The clock behind Bryan reads “16 to 1.”

This is a rare piece, but it sums up Bryan quire well.

Yes, that’s what I have always thought, certainly since seeing Inherit the Wind sixty years ago. (One of my childhood or rather teenage-years heroes was Clarence Darrow, and still is.) But this young man’s essay changed my mind. Read it!

And also read my comment afterwards. because in it I have a link to a very good critique of Inherit the Wind. from First Things, which you should also click on and read.

I would be interested to know what you think.

I avoid clicks because of fears from viruses. I have been burned multiple times, and cost me over a thousand to get rid of them.

Here are some points about William Jennings Bryan.

  • People who knew him when he was politically active said that Bryan was a sweet, honest man.

  • Bryan knew nothing about monetary policy. He did not understand the how his free silver, 16 to 1 policy would work. He admitted that would have study the issue after the election.

  • The Democrats had a point about increasing the money supply in 1896. The gold shortage, which helped fuel the Panic of 1893, was part of the problem. The trouble was Brayan didn’t put any limits on how much silver he was going to turn into money. The result would have been massive inflation and a very unstable dollar at the very moment the U.S. was becoming a world power.

  • I imagine that your bogger is making a big deal about Bryan’s opposition to the U.S. entry into World War I. The U.S. entry did tip the scales in favor of a big Allied victory. Perhaps if the Allies had not won so big, the old fools who started World War I might not have imposed the hard peace in Germany which planted the seeds for World War II. It’s a speculative call, as all historical “what if’s” are.

  • As the rest of his career, Inherit the Wind was not that far off. Brayan always was a religious zealot, and as he go older, he became a fanatic.

  • He still had a lot of influence in the Democrat Party. He gave Woodrow Wilson’s campaign a big boost in 1912 which earned him the presidential nomination. That’s why Wilson appointed him to be Secretary of State. He still had enough influence in 1924 to get his brother, Charles, nominated for Vice President.

Okay, I understand about clicks, although I think Firefox plus a good virus scanner like Avast can protect you … it has me, so far.
I can send you a copy of this young man’s post. I can’t post the whole thing here because of legal restrictions. Get a burner email on Tutanota or Protonmail (the former is quicker) post it here, and I’ll send them to you. I had your attitude until I read the First Things article on ‘Inherit the Wind’, and then this young man’s blog post.
It’s astonishing/dismaying how much of what we believe has been shaped by the people who control the media.
For example, I’ll bet all the liberals who are cheering for Mr Navalny in Russia (as I am) don’t know that he has the same attitude towards Muslims as the people they call ‘Islamophobes’. I didn’t know it until a few days ago. It didn’t change my attitude to him, but I was a bit miffed that this information has been suppressed.

[ ] … whoops, I forgot you don’t do links. Here’s some quotes from that link (which is to a dissident communist group, by the way.)

At the very time Democrats in Congress were attempting to impeach Trump for the Jan. 6 fascist rampage, President Joe Biden expressed support for a Russian political leader allied with a gang comparable to the Proud Boys. In his first contact with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as U.S. president, Biden immediately pressed for the release of anti-Putin candidate Alexei Navalny.

Navalny’s notorious record is well-known in Russia. U.S. and German officials, who describe him as a dissident journalist, investigative blogger or anti-corruption activist, are being deceptive.

Why not Assange or Mumia?

There is an international campaign for the release of a far more prominent investigative journalist from Australia — Julian Assange. Assange exposed U.S. government corruption, surveillance and war crimes. Biden could have sent an encouraging human rights message by dropping U.S. demands for the extradition of Assange.

There is a 40-year campaign for the release of another investigative journalist, an acclaimed Black author who exposed racist police brutality in Philadelphia — Mumia Abu-Jamal. If Biden called for his release, it could send a message to the Black Lives Matter movement that the U.S. is addressing systemic racism. Instead, he has focused his “human rights” attention on a right-wing Russian national chauvinist!

The difference is that Assange and Abu-Jamal challenged the power of the U.S. ruling class. Navalny embraces it.

A well-known racist

Navalny is not a political unknown. For many years he has been in the limelight, in the media, on video and in the streets in fascist mobilizations that call for expelling all non-Russian peoples from Russia. Navalny was a driving force in the annual anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant “Russian March” in Moscow. Its central themes are “Take Back Russia,” “Russia for Russians” and “Stop Feeding the Caucasus” — the latter a demand to end federal subsidies to poorer, less-developed, largely Muslim regions of Russia.

The Russian March rallies were gatherings of Nazi elements, monarchists and religious Orthodox groups. On display were swastikas, confederate flags, religious insignia and calls for “white revenge.” These ultranationalist rallies were countered most years by left-wing demonstrations led by Russian Anti-Fascist Front, progressive street activists and young communists.

Navalny is the organizer of the “Movement Against Illegal Immigrants” and “Great Russia,” and he has called for the breakup of Russia. He has demanded the expulsion of all peoples from the Caucasus and Asia, whether they are citizens living in what is still part of the Russian Federation or are from surrounding Central Asian republics, which were severed after the Soviet Union collapsed. On video Navalny has whipped up sectarian violence by labeling people of the Caucasus “rotten teeth, to be extracted” and “cockroaches that must be exterminated.”

Navalny calls for aggressive privatization of more Russian industries, cuts in public spending, total freedom for businesses and a dramatic reversal of social guarantees that still remain from the Soviet Union. Navalny boasts that if he were president, there would be very friendly relations with the U.S. and the European Union.