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Have We Forgotten How to Fight Wars?

In the most recent episode of The Levy & Counsell Show (which has so far been fascinating) I was struck by Judith Levy’s account  of the failure of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to sell abroad. Other buyers said, in effect, “We don’t need it. If anyone shot missiles at us, we would cross the border and kill them all.” That makes a lot of sense. A nation that can…

  1. Foxman

    I have long said that we should not send our troops anywhere as “Peace Keepers”.  The purpose of our military is to rain hellfire on our enemies.  If the world knows this it will do more to keep the peace than all the “Peace Keeping” troops in the world.

  2. DocJay

    Hi Doc, we haven’t forgotten but have lost the stomach for it lately.   Curtis LeMay and Patton would pimp slap the Patraeus’  of this Army and make them wear pink uniforms regarding their rules of engagement.   

  3. Despair Troll

    How about sending your army when missiles are fired at you and not when your people are killed?

    Doctor Bean

    In the most recent episode of The Levy & Counsell Show (which has so far been fascinating) I was struck by Judith’s account of Iron Dome’s failure to sell abroad. Other buyers said, in effect, “We don’t need it. If anyone shot missiles at us, we would cross the border and kill them all.” That makes a lot of sense. A nation that can afford Iron Dome can certainly afford lower-tech tanks, artillery, and infantry.

  4. Schrodinger

    We can be sure that neither Iran nor China has forgotten how to crush an  enemy.

    “The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” Theodore Roosevelt

     

  5. Doctor Bean

    Hi DocJay! Is that all it is? We just can’t bring ourselves emotionally to do it? I’d love to hear that from someone who studies the military.

  6. Joseph Paquette

    Intentionally, making war on civilians is immoral.  USA needs to take the high ground.  However, that doesn’t mean binding our troops with unreasonable restrictions on use of force. 

  7. Doctor Bean

    Mr. Paquette: Including what we did in WWII, and what the North did in the South in the Civil War?

  8. Yeah...ok.

    To paraphrase: We can’t handle the truth.

  9. Schrodinger

    What has been lacking is a clear military definition of victory.

    In the Civil War and WWII, it was clear what victory meant – unconditional surrender of the enemy. Even in the first Gulf War, victory was defined in military terms (evict Iraq from Kuwait) and achieved. Massive force was used in all three wars and victory was achieved.

    In Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan the definition of victory was more political than military.  The goal was to prop up or install friendly regimes. But, there was no definition of victory in military terms. In all three wars, we did achieve a military victory. But, that was lost in the political battlefield. Also, limited forces and restrictive operations handicapped our military efforts. Hence, the protracted conflicts with no victory.

    It was a politician  - Georges Clemenceau – who said, “War is much too important a matter to be left to the generals.” But in reality, it is the politicians that lose the wars.

    (I do not have a military background, but military history has long been a study of mine.)

  10. Devereaux

    Liberalism has redefined the whole concept of war. Now we are not to actually fight wars, but rather perform “police actions”. Note we changed the War Dept. to Dept of Defense. Haven’t won a war since.

    Israel has fought 5 wars – with basically no consequences to the opposition. Wars should have consequences. It is the only way to make the sacrifice worthy. Yet today all we seem to see is plans for “perpetual peace”. But all those plans basically insure perpetual war. Only we lose. Despite outfighting the enemy.

    To win a war, not only do you have to have outstanding fighting ability and defeat the enemy on the battle field but you must ALSO have a political system that supports and augments that fighting ability. We don’t have that.

  11. Doctor Bean

    Zafar: Another good point I hadn’t thought of. (WOT has caused much less fatalities on our side than a total war would have.) Thanks.

  12. Misthiocracy

    Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nakasaki get the headlines, but people sometimes forget that the Allies also bombed French cities back to the stone age because the Nazis built bomb-proof fortifications nearby, or in the centre of town. Without the ability to destroy the Nazi installation, the only other option was to destroy the surrounding town to deprive the Nazis of supplies.

    Which is “worse”, firebombing an enemy’s city or flattening an ally’s city?  

    My only point bringing this up:  I’m glad I didn’t have to approve those missions.  Could you imagine that sort of mission being approved today?!  

  13. wilber forge

    The purpose of war is to not only to defeat the enemy, but to crush and demoralize. Therefore eliminating future thoughts of agression.

    True war is a brutal, ugly and bloody undertaking.

    There is no way to conduct a P.C war. Such thoughts only lead to perpetual conflict. The current efforts have become a Fools Errand.

  14. Brian Skinn
    Doctor Bean  That might get civilians to be more resistant to terrorists in their midst, it might give anti-Western protesters less to hand-wring about (a single dead girl is a great CNN story, hundreds killed day after day is boring), and it might actually serve the strategic purpose of demoralizing the enemy. · 3 minutes ago

    Or, it will at least starkly highlight whether the civilians among whom terrorists hide are or are not ultimately supportive of said terrorists. 

  15. Devereaux
    Misthiocracy: Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nakasaki get the headlines, but people sometimes forget that the Allies also bombed French cities back to the stone age because the Nazis built bomb-proof fortifications nearby, or in the centre of town. Without the ability to destroy the Nazi installation, the only other option was to destroy the surrounding town to deprive the Nazis of supplies.

    Which is “worse”, firebombing an enemy’s city or flattening anally’scity?  

    My only point bringing this up:  I’m glad I didn’t have to approve those missions.  Could you imagine that sort of mission being approved today?!   · 13 minutes ago

    ?Have you been to war. At the sharp end, such decisions are much clearer and easier to make. Survival is a great motivator. Our problem today is that we have REMF’s making the war-fighting decisions.

  16. Gus Marvinson

    I think it is perfectly adequate to warn citizens that we are going to roast them. Then roast them.

  17. Frustrated iPad User

    As a former army officer, I can tell you that you don’t need any special knowledge to discuss this issue. It’s mostly political. There are a few very high level officers and retirees who have extensive knowledge of this issue, but they don’t all agree either. Similarly to many here, my theory is that we no longer go to war against countries. It’s a flawed idealism that we believe its unfair to blame citizens of non democratic countries for their dictators. Well, it may be tough, but we need to raise the bar. Certainly, a few countries are truly oppressed, but we need to change the math when it comes to countries like Iran. We need to make it clear that if we need to go to war with Iran, we are going to war with the people of Iran. We plan to conquer them and treat them accordingly. We are likely the nicest conquerors in history but we need to lower expectations for the good of people like those in Iran that need to grab a big stick and take back their country.

  18. Roberto
    wilber forge: The purpose of war is to not only to defeat the enemy, but to crush and demoralize. Therefore eliminating future thoughts of agression.

    True war is a brutal, ugly and bloody undertaking.

    There is no way to conduct a P.C war. Such thoughts only lead to perpetual conflict. The current efforts have become a Fools Errand. 

    The citizenry appears to have no understanding of war at all. 

    War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will

    Current is an adolescent view of war, a game people choose to engage in. It is not about seizing territory or destroying armies, war is compelling the enemy to submit to your will.

    If you cannot accomplish this then the war is lost or the war never ends. 

    You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace.

    -William Tecumseh Sherman

  19. No Caesar

    Many think I’m callous when I say the best thing for peace is a short, hard war every 10-15 years or so.  I am not being cold-hearted or a war-monger when I make this contention.  Nothing better removes the thought that the Great Satan is a paper tiger, than having the Great Satan’s claws slash you deep.

    This frequency reminds bad guys that we are capable and tough, and makes other means of conflict resolution more likely.  The frequency also keeps our military up by doing the real thing, without the burnout of prolonged use.  This combination of a clear demonstration of capability and a record of willingness to use it makes a major war less likely and therefore saves lives. 

    Short, sharp retributive wars, without hand-wringing over rebuilding are the key.  The only time nation-building has worked (versus imperial absorbtion) is with Japan and Germany post-WWII.  I support the nation-building in IraqAfghanistan, but realize that it created a perverse set of incentives that go against our long-term interests, given the realities of the modern Western public and media.  Therefore, a Fort Apache future is best option now.

  20. DocJay

    Devereaux, Eric Warren, loved the responses. This is very much a political rather than a military question since its politicians and their pet REMF’s that do the deciding. Meanwhile two SEALS blow up while desperately marking a mortar for the decimation that never came. May the politicians and their chickenfeces hearts burn for that someday.

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