12 Apr 2007

General Sherman Understood


John Dillin, in the Christian Science Monitor, points out that America wins when we undertake total war, while recent exercises in conditional war have had very uneven success.

– Omar Bradley, an American general in World War II, observed: “In war there is no second prize for the runner-up.” In a similar vein, the legendary Gen. Douglas MacArthur cautioned his fellow Americans: “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

Despite such warnings, America’s political leaders today – in both the White House and Congress – have waged the war in Iraq as if defeat were acceptable. One wonders why.

Although the United States has sustained more than 3,000 battle deaths and has spent billions of dollars in Iraq, the nation’s overall fight against Saddam Hussein and his successors has been marked by hesitation and half-steps.

That’s how wars are lost. …

Clearly the US could win the war in Iraq if it wished. It is, after all, a superpower. Perhaps a moral ambiguity about this war makes Washington hesitate. The leaders in Washington, for reasons only they fully understand, have chosen to fight a limited war with shifting goals.

History does not look kindly on such limited wars by the US.

Since WWII, the US has fought four large but conditional wars. Korea was a stalemate; Vietnam was a loss. The first Persian Gulf War was the only clear victory. Iraq II hangs in the balance. …

If this fight is worth doing, if America truly has an unquestionable moral imperative to win, then wage it with everything you’ve got. Otherwise, why is America there?

Read the whole thing.

One Feedback on "General Sherman Understood"


The war in Iraq ran over several cardinal rules of war: the principal of mass, the principal of feeding victory and starving defeat, and the principal that, although war is a political act, it must be waged by professionals — to name a few. It was a foolish thing from the start. Those arguing otherwise swim against the tides of history.


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