Sober Thoughts on the War
In a big sense this falls out from No Relation's articles Sober Follow-Up: Winning the War on Terror and Rantings of a Drunken Vet: Winning the War on Terror I credit comments from SPMM a.k.a. Marshmallow a.k.a. Puffy who asks some telling questions was the final goad, and I give him credit for giving these positions a local voice.
SPMM: I feel like you're beginning to misunderstand my main point: that winning at any cost could potentially be more costly than "losing."
In the last World War we lost over 350,000 all told. We currently are not at 1% of this number. We spent over 2.0 Trillion current dollars for WWII, we have not yet hit 400B in Iraq. We put over 16 million men into uniform, mostly through a draft. Our current armed forces consist of 1.4 million volunteers. We fought WWII with 130 million people. We now have 300 million. We are now far richer on a per capita basis. Our economy has not even geared up for war yet, and it is doing better than any other in the West. Now, you are asking if we are even close to a Pyrrhic Victory? With all respect, have you really this through to the end? We are ridiculously far from such a loss. When our losses surpass those of WWII, which we won, then such a question begins to look like something other than overwrought hysteria. The really crazy part is you are not alone; it is a mass hysteria running rampant in the nation. 3000 dead on the battle field was a single day of hard fighting in several of our wars. Did not the founders write that the tree of liberty requires the blood of sacrifice?
Furthermore, to show how defeatist we have become, in WWII the casualties we took in many places were kept secret, Tarawa, and the Bulge are two such instances. Today each casualty is reported individually. We hear about it at the time of death, when he is flown home and sometimes when he is buried. The death toll is reported each and every day. This is a drumbeat whose only effect is to destroy morale on the home front. The memebers of the MSM know this and their behavior can be charitably called defeatist; the proper word is treasonous. FDR censored the press, today the press tells the enemy what our top-secret programs are and does what it can to reduce the effectiveness of those programs.
SPMM: when I said, "here goes nothin'" I meant, we don't know where expanding the war would lead us (WWIII?) We'd be jumping down the rabbit hole (spider hole?)I have a little news for you Marshmallow, we already are in WWIII. Were we expanding the war back in WWII we invaded Germany from France?
SPMM: I don't think I'm being blase about "cutting and running," while it is, literally, an option, I do not think it is an appropriate choice. On the other hand, you are underestimating the impact of a world turned against us.In light of your allusion to the victory's not being worth the cost, especially when compared to what we paid for victory in the past, "blase" is actually an accurate description. Putting it into a historical context, you are way too casual about the price of defeat, and way to sensitive to the price we are paying to win. Nothing is free. Victory has a price; defeat is costly as well much more so than victory.
While I applaud your opinion that it is not an 'appropriate option,' calling such a decision â€˜inappropriateâ€™ is akin to calling a gang rape 'deviant behavior.'
Your assertion that I am "underestimating the impact of the world turned against us" is something I will politely disagree with, but I can see your concern, and it is a valid concern. I will endeavor to address this concern as I answer your other points.
SPMM: About europe, I don't care about the opinions of the french, or the germans, or the spanish. What we need to look out for is the EU. Some folks in the EU just don't like America, some thing we've gone too far with this GWOT, and some would like to see europe return to it's former position as the cultural/economic heart and soul of the west. All of this adds up to a continent that's indifferent (at best) about whether the US stays at the 'top of the heap'If not for Germany Spain and France what is the EU? What is the EU without these three countries? Are we to fear reprisal from the Luxemburg Navy, the Belgian Air Force? The EU itself has NO army. Frankly none of the members of the EU has an army of any size. The British sent a division, and real small one at that, to Iraq. Why not two? Because the British do not have enough troops for that two fielded divisions. The Bundeswehr is an under-funded shadow of its former self. Militarily Europe is a joke. A single Aegis cruiser can sink the entire modern British surface fleet; which is very sad when one recalls that at one time Britannia ruled the waves. European navies have some excellent submarines. The Brits and the Swedes come to mind in this regard. The rest of the European surface fleet vessels are mostly what in the US would pass off as Coast Guard cutters. Go look at www.janes.com to see the state of the various militaries in the world.
Economically, Europe is a possible problem. Your point regarding the EU as a threat is valid in this arena. An embargo would hurt, but remember, it is a blade that cuts both ways. Frankly, European economies are far more fragile at this point in time. I am not saying it would be a push over, but, should it cause us to not to take the fight to the enemy?
Finally we must ask about Europe: Do they have the stomach for open hostility with the US? Would they start a shooting war with us? Would they engage in actual economic embargo? All would be costly. Does Europe have the will to go after us for invading Iran and Syria? They are not willing to defend themselves. Granted they do not like our being at the top of the heap. But how far are they willing to go for envy?
SPMM: at the same time there's China on the rise, and, in a more passive way (for the time being) India. So here's a "winning at any cost could potentially be more costly than "losing."" scenario: China and Europe would both like to be the next king of the hill, and they both sense that their chance is near. If we were to expand this war into a region-wide deal, we should expect the EU or China to make a move by saying something like, "This aggression will not stand! The world must come together [under our leadership!] to stand up to the belligerent policies of the US, which have already destabilized an entire region of the world, and if gone unchecked will lead us to a world war!"
it wouldn't have to be True, it's just rhetoric designed to catapult them into center stage as global superpower. And before you know it, our tentative allies would get the idea that there's no future in being our friend and realign themselves with the country that they perceived to be the next superpower.
My, how dramatic is that last sentence of the first paragraph. The sad part is that it is actually going to be a headline someday; probably in the NYT. Your first sentence above is precisely half-right. China is on the rise and is planning to become the rooster atop the heap as soon as it can knock us off the heap. The Chinese are smart, too. They support the N. Koreans and point the Korean nukes at us by proxy. The Chinese had the same deal going with Pakistan, and were pointing Pakistani nukes at the Indians. Do you think they are dumb enough to go to war with us in the ME when they still have not gotten us out of the far east? We have bases in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. We have influence in other nations in that part of the world. The Chinese already are helping Iran via the security council, and with technology under the table. But direct conflict? First, they must defang us in Japan and elsewhere closer to home.
Now for the completely wrong part of the sentence, since 9/11 our relations with the Indians have improved. Actually our relations with the Indians have not been this good since the Indians threw the British out. The Indians hate the Muslims. Yes, there is a sizable Muslim population in India, and they are not loved by the Hindu, Buddist, and Sikh super-majority. Go read about the murder and genocide perpetuated by the religion-of-peace in the subcontinent some day. The Indians are looking to cooperate with the Chinese economically, but they also know where the Pakistanis got their nukes.
As for our allies' turning on us, you are probably correct in the case of some, but probably not others. For Europe is still not one big happy family, some will break one way because others have gone the other way. In the end, Britain will either stand with us, or sit it out. France will oppose us. Germany leans in opposition to us; Denmark and Poland very likely are in our camp. Italy is on the fence. But I repeat my point from above, "Do you really think the Europeans have the stomach for this?"
SPMM: We see this "Follow me as I stand up to the evil US" game being played by Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinajad. But these guys are only seeking to be the BMOC in their corners of the world. The EU and China have more global ambitions, they're ready to seize what they feel is their rightful place as king of the hill, and (like our own invasion of Iraq) they only need an excuse. This all sounds crazy. So does, the "emboldened terrorists destroy America one sky scraper at a time" scenario. So does the "we just leave and everything will be fine" scenario.I agree with you, again, with respect to China. Again, the EU is a place of dying countries. You should read Mark Steyn's "America Alone" someday. The Europeans have this huge problem, it is called several million Muslims living inside their borders and those Muslims despise the Europe they have moved to. As for Chavez and Imaheadjob, they are following in the footsteps of Castro, Kadafi, and Amin. They rail against the U.S. because it makes them bigger than they really are. The trouble is that Imaheadjob is getting nukes for his birthday.
I am glad to see we agree on the "leaving-equals-all-good" fallacy. The trouble is that for most of the kooks at the Kos and elsewhere in the nut-roots universe that is the mantra. The sad part is the Democrat party is repeating this mantra.
SPMM: All of our 'options' lead to unwanted eventualities. But it seems like so far we've done absolutely nothing to second-guess the guys we're fighting. We've never thought ahead more than the next move, (one could even argue that we've played into their hands) and this is where it's landed us. So before we go on saying, "let's expand the war to a few more countries; it worked for the Greeks!" let's make sure we consider the potential consequences of our actions.In real life, and, in war especially, there are unforeseen eventualities. Kamikazes, the Bulge, the heavy casualties we took at Tarawa and Anzio, the defeats at Kaserine and Schonberg. All of these did not work out as planned, or completely caught us flat footed. FDR was not an idiot -- our foes were just trying their best to win. The same is true in this war.
Now, as for your characterization that, "we never appear to look more than one step ahead," I will politely disagree. There has been move and counter move all along. How the convoys move, the armament on the vehicles, how to deal with and detect the IADs, are constantly in flux. The enemy is also constantly adapting, because he wants to win as well. The real trouble with guerrilla warfare is that getting the initiative is very hard, which is why these conflicts last as long as they do.
Lastly I never said that the Greek solution involved invasion of a bordering country. It actually involved closing the border with Yugoslavia Albania, and Bulgaria to the North. This occurred back around 1947. Being glib and not paying attention to what is written in the same sentence you are demanding deep thoughts is pathetic.
I wrote in response to another one of No Relation's postings a comment...
JA: Former presidents and current Senators are going overseas and saying things that would have gotten them charged with treason 100 years ago.Why are these people not charged today? We do not take the threat seriously. That is why. In our national psychosis we are so invincible that we can treat the war as a political game, a club to beat the other party with; which mocks the sacrifice of those who are doing the fighting and the dieing. Their sacrifice is not important because winning or losing is not seen as important. This is playing with our nation's long term viability.
In the end, your initial, "Is the victory going to outweigh the price of defeat?" question is the most telling. It is typical. For we as a nation have become so arrogant that we think losing will not affect us. This in turn allows us to become quick to give up. If the consequences of losing where stark and terrible in the nation's eyes we would be more resolute. For those who are so eager to leave, a more sober view of the consequences of defeat would give them pause before they ask if it is time to go.
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