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November 3, 2006 [ More archived home pages here ]

Staying The Course

Today's song is For What It's Worth by the Buffalo Springfield, released in 1966.

I include several links to the Cato Institute for this message. While I don't agree with all their assessments, they do offer support for their findings and conclusions.

In recounting the number of wars (some police actions) my country has been involved in since I was born, most Presidents proclaim that we must stay the course to win, while in battle. I don't see any difference in tactics between the way we fought in Vietnam and the way we fight our current war.

Both wars involve troops on the ground that follow old rules. Those rules aren't followed by the enemy. We incur casualties at high rates because we fight the way wars were fought when nation armies battled each other. Now wars are started by proxies using insurgents and terrorists to fight us. We lose a lot of people by following the old rules.

The U.S. Isn't Good at Winning or Supporting Irregular Warfare

"America's strategic culture is hostile to politically messy small wars. Counterinsurgency demands forbearance, personnel continuity, foreign language skills, cross-cultural understanding, historical knowledge, judicious force employment and civil-military integration. None of these are virtues of the American approach to war. Americans view war as a suspension of politics and think the politics will somehow sort themselves out once victory has been achieved.

All of this raises the question: Why should the United States continue to enter wars it is not very good at winning (and for which sustaining domestic political support is inherently problematic)? A more realistic policy would be to abstain from small wars of choice, and place the protection of concrete interests ahead of moral crusades to export American political values to lands that are alien to them. Such a policy would have spared the United States the agonies of Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia and Iraq, all places where it lacked strategic interests justifying intervention."

In each war America has fought, some generals tell us that bombing alone can't win victory, that troops need to be put on the ground to win. I know we put way too many of them in the ground when that result could have been avoided by using weapons to effectively defeat and/or eliminate the enemy.

As long as America fights wars by the old rules, our troops will always suffer high casualties. There will always be wars in the world, especially when one side will follow rules and the other side ignores them. What risk does the enemy incur by not following the rules? Bad publicity is about all that happens to them, if that.

Almost every day our troops are killed by snipers or IED's. At any time a terrorist can kill hundreds with a bomb or thousands with a jet. As long as we follow the old rules of war, all future battles will be fought like this by our enemies. They have every advantage to fighting like this.

We pay hundreds of billions of dollars each for the best military technology and hardly use it against our enemies. We are a superpower, but that doesn't seem to faze the current enemies we face. Those enemies have found a way to defeat us even if it takes them decades to do it. They fight without rules and it's very effective. We stay the course on following the rules. Those rules were never made for wars like the ones we face now or will face. No enemy will fight us by following the rules, they have no need.

No matter if Republicans or Democrats are in majority of the legislature or one serves as President in the future, I figure they will stay the course. In every war this country faces in the future they will fight the same way we have and are now fighting. That's the worst way of staying the course. Many military personnel will be killed going down a street in a far-away land by a sniper or an IED by following the old rules of war.

Sniper Attacks Adding to Peril of U.S. Troops

"As part of their counterinsurgency operations, the marines working in Anbar are under orders to show restraint, a policy rooted in hopes of winning the trust of the civilian population.

Iraqi snipers seem to know these rules and use them for their own protection. They often fire from among civilians, the marines say, having observed that unless the marines have a clear target, they will not shoot. In two sniper shootings witnessed by two journalists for The New York Times, on Oct. 30 and 31, the snipers fired from among civilians. The marines did not fire back."

We in America can try our best to avoid wars, but it won't work. Our enemies will attack us indirectly until they have reason to fear attacking us or until they have won. The enemy already understands that perspective and executes it well against us. We help the enemy weaken us by sending in our troops on the ground with orders to follow the old rules of war. I can't think of a worse way to lose a war. I've already witnessed that several times in my life. I am witnessing it again now.

In the meantime, we bury brave Americans by the thousands and tell ourselves we are better than the enemy because we fight by the old rules. All who believe in that strategy are staying the course. For those that don't believe that way, don't expect any changes soon. Maybe one day America will figure out it can win with new rules and without troops on the ground. Then those Americans that would otherwise be in the ground, will be above ground living out their lives in peace.

---

Back in August, I wrote a message about my views as a Centrist. Then I recently read an article from the Wall Street Journal about how some Democrats are moving towards the right because they know where the real political power is, in the center. Below is a quote from that article:

"The Democrats as a whole have begun to understand and recognize, as I did, that we have the extreme left and the extreme right, and 80 percent of America is in the middle," Mr. Shuler said on a campaign stop last week at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. "People need to start working together."

Sounds like good advice to me. Centrists from both Republicans and Democrats should work together to negate the extremist views in both parties that tend to pull us apart. It isn't any more complicated than that.

Don


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