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12 Reasons America Doesn’t Win Its Wars

America doesn’t “win” its wars, because winning a war is secondary to other goals in our war making. Winning or losing has little immediate consequence for the United States, because the wars we start, Wars of Choice, [1] are not of vital national interest; losing doesn’t mean getting invaded or our cities being destroyed. The following are some of the interests Washington has in not winning, reasons for our unending wars.

1) War sustains the (very) profitable log-rolling contracts for supplies in key congressional districts, grants for university faculties to study strategy, new funding for new weapons. During wartime who dares question almost any Pentagon cost “to defend America?”

2) Continued conflict postpones hard decisions about cutting defense spending such as closing surplus bases [2], cutting duplicate systems, and focusing on waste. See 16 Ways to Cut Defense. [3]Shakespeare put it well, advising a king to have lots of foreign wars in order to have tranquility at home.

3) Starting wars is the historic way for kings (and presidents) to gain popularity and avoid doing tough domestic reforms for problems that cry out for solutions. War lets them be postponed. Think of George W. Bush winning election on promises to balance the budget, have health care reform, reform our bankrupt social security commitments, tackle the EPA, take on the teachers’ unions, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and such. Instead, with war, all those issues were swept aside. He won his re-election by having even bigger deficit warfare/welfare spending and increasing the national debt by trillions.


4) Private “contractors” profit from continuing crises. They don’t get paid in peacetime like ordinary soldiers, rather profiting from war, or at least from America having more enemies to guard against. In Iraq and Afghanistan we had hundreds of thousands of them, very well paid (often former military) and now largely in lesser-paid jobs.

5) Washington’s community prospers. Think tank intellectuals get lots of TV exposure and lectures, new funding produces new jobs and government grants and trips to the excitement of battlefields, or at least to comfy headquarters, to study the “enemy.” Congressmen get more TV time; critics can be condemned for hurting the war effort or even aiding the enemy. Everyone feels important. Heritage Foundation interns were recruited to help administer Iraq, and while not every war produces jobs even for interns, money flows everywhere.

6) Cable TV gets more viewers (e.g. more advertising revenue). Instead of interminable, boring coverage of the same old event, think of CNN’s repeated coverage of the disappeared Malaysian airliner for weeks, wars are exciting and gain 24-hour coverage and viewers.

7) Military careers. Our Army and Navy are designed for past wars where soldiers and sailors were mostly identically trained to be able to fill identical slots for fallen comrades or sunken ships. Officer careers were based upon well-rounded experience and commands. Third world wars are different. In nations without a rule of law everything is based upon personal relationships with tribal and military leaders. The British and Roman empires sent out staffers to spend a lifetime gaining confidences and studying different tribes, religions, and local issues. For America, every officer has dozens behind him wanting to get some “war” experience on their resumes. So officers rarely stay longer than a year on any battlefield posting, barely enough time to learn the area and gain the confidence of local leaders, much less learn their languages. Long, interminable wars allow for many more officers to get “their tickets punched,” as the saying goes.

8) We can’t absorb many casualties, so to minimize them we bomb and obliterate whole villages and towns (think Fallujah [4]), creating a constant supply of new enemies. If winning was really important we would have to absorb many more casualties and station many more troops for many more years to occupy and pacify the conquered (liberated) nations. Instead we just fight on for years without end.

9) Few Americans want to spend lifetimes studying tribes, religions, and customs in obscure, boring, and uncomfortable regions of the world. The British Empire was heavily staffed by poor Scots and Irish who could find few jobs at home. America does not have that problem facing the skilled, educated elites capable of administering far-flung possessions.

10) Our Congress is more concerned with appearances than winning. Political grandstanding, appearing tough, and pandering to local constituencies are the main objectives for most of them. Think of Iran, where no peace agreement acceptable to Iran and our European allies is likely to gain Congressional approval. Another unending war is more likely and could easily expand to blowing up oil and gas resources all over the Persian Gulf.

11) Our internal security establishment, costing hundreds of billions, needs threats. Think of how often the FBI provides fake bombs and weapons to wannabe terrorist young macho males dreaming of acting out their fantasies. Unending wars fulfill this need. If America actually “won,” many of their (well paid) jobs would be superfluous.

12) We are very vulnerable to false flag [5] operations and paid foreign propaganda. Various foreign nations or rebel interests want us to bomb and/or invade their local enemies. Our recent attack on Libya was based on false information [6], spread by our allies. Saudi Arabia wants us to destroy Iran, Turkey wanted us to attack Assad in Syria, Israeli (and neocon) hawks wanted us to “rip apart” Iraq [7]. Kuwait’s sheiks [8] paid millions for a PR campaign for America to attack Iraq the first time, and so on.

We could “win” if we followed Sun Tzu and learned from history and from the advice of our founding fathers. But, as stated above, we don’t really want to win; too many Americans benefit from unending wars.

We are not the first empire to confront this problem. However, in the past such unending wars were limited by their costs. But America can always, so far, borrow the money from foreigners. Think though how the Chinese, who have loaned us much of the money, benefit from America eventually weakening itself from continually bashing our heads against religious fanatics, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents and making enemies of much of the Muslim world. As Rand Paul commented, it was American war hawks who created ISIS and much of the chaos in the Middle East. Yet we don’t really lose wars either. As retired Marine four-star General Mattis says, America doesn’t lose wars, it just loses interest [9] and withdraws from fighting them.

Ideas to limit Washington’s profligacy of interventions are beginning to break through into the media, though. Fareed Zakaria [10]supported Rand Paul, writing that he was “forcing Republicans and many Democrats to defend what has become a lazy, smug consensus in favor of an ever-expanding national security state.” The very respected Peggy Noonan now writes [11] that “we spend too much on the military which not only adds to our debt, but guarantees that our weapons will be used.” She quotes policy expert Ian Bremmer [12]—“Policy makers will find uses for them to justify their expense which will implicate us in crises that are none of our business.”

Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative.

49 Comments (Open | Close)

49 Comments To "12 Reasons America Doesn’t Win Its Wars"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 12, 2015 @ 2:47 am

This is a breakthrough analysis, J.B.

Outsourced, corporatised contractor warfare is always winning, as long as it is being waged, because that is only when it produces its real purpose: expanding income streams and pumping stock. A battle won, is really a defeat if it leads to the end of hostilities and the end of profits. That is why the end of our undeclared wars looks so much like defeat, because the beneficiaries for whom they are really being fought lose as soon as they end. Declared wars by their nature have a defined objective, if successful, victory that leads to peace and the cessation of hostilities. That is not the modern definition for our undeclared wars, which have undefined objectives with no definite end point where victory could be measured. To the American people, this looks like ill-defined stupidity and poor planning. But it’s not; in the parlance of software engineering it’s a feature, not a bug. It is intentionally open-ended in the manner of any corporate endeavor designed to produce profits and not designed to go out of business, but rather produce permanent income streams.

As our peaceful industrial base was offshored, the importance of war industries has only been magnified. Once the nation becomes dependent on warfare for its economic survival, as Utley points out it becomes ever more difficult to tolerate the dislocations that ending perpetual war would levy. And the amount of money available for donorism to distort politics in its interests of fomenting more conflict grows phenomenally as nothing is more lucrative to those benefited as windfall war profiteering.

The picture of Dwight Eisenhower at the top of the article, that rarest of military geniuses with a wisdom on the order of a Washington, who also counseled as a President who was most successful of Generals, extreme reticence and reluctance in the matter of wars, is prescient.

Eisenhower warned us that the emergence of a major party of influence for war, the military-industrial-congressional complex, was the greatest threat to our democracy and liberty, dwarfing all outside threats. Because wars necessarily involve curtailing constitutional liberties and impose secrecy, they are dangerous to democratic accountability even when brief, and will be fatal to it when they are perpetual. And so Eisenhower’s prophecy has come true.

#2 Comment By Johann On June 12, 2015 @ 8:25 am

And then there is hubris. We feel so superior, that we really don’t care how many people die in some dark corner of the world. It could never come back to our country. In a documentary some time ago they were interviewing German WWII soldiers, and asking them why they did what they did. One soldier said that there was a sense of certainty that they would win, that they were invincible, that they were so superior, they had no fear whatsoever of losing the war. Then, one day, while laying under a dark sky amid the ruins of Stalingrad, thinking of the Christmas celebrations that must be going on in Germany, it suddenly hit this particular soldier, that all of this is destruction and killing will be coming to Germany.

We are of course nothing like Nazi Germany, but I think we do have the view that non-American lives are hugely less valuable than ours. And we are also alienating much of the rest of the world. No matter how powerful we think we are, if we manage to make enemies of most of the rest of the world, it may not end well for us.

#3 Comment By John On June 12, 2015 @ 8:50 am

The only way to win is to convince Americans that a dollar spent on guns will be a dollar that won’t be spent on butter as promised (e.g., Social Security). Once you convince Americans that even casual interventions threaten their benefit payouts, the worm will turn.

#4 Comment By philadelphialawyer On June 12, 2015 @ 8:55 am

A lot of the factors listed above go more to the maintenance of the MIC than they do to the failure to win wars. Others go more to the constant starting of wars, rather than their lack of successful conclusion. Others still, for example, politics, would seem to be inapposite. Successful politicians, one would think, would be ones who lead the country into successful wars, not endless quagmires. At a minimum, once a war is started, political benefit accrues to those who successfully end it, as with Eisenhower, pictured here. His political success was built on winning wars…as a general, he won WWII in Europe, and, as President, he successfully concluded the Korean War.

The main reason the US military does not actually “win” its wars is that the wars it is sent to fight are hard to win. The US military is more than good enough to smash Third World States, destroy their militaries, and invade and occupy their territories. But it is not good enough, and for militaries ever are, to permanently impose unpopular regimes on unwilling populations.

It was pointed out, decades ago, by Chomsky, and others, that the real problem is that the US is weak politically in the Third World, so it seeks to compensate for that weakness with military force.

But that is difficult to do in the long run. In the short run, the US military can even achieve some success in its counter insurgency fighting, but, because there is little to no political support for the regime that the US wants to impose on the nation it is operating in, that short term success does not generally lead to any sort of clear cut victory.

#5 Comment By Kevin On June 12, 2015 @ 10:09 am

This post is tremendous, and should be required reading for every single American.

#6 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 12, 2015 @ 11:11 am

I am not sure I buy all of the analysis that says we are constantly seeking wars to fuel the economy, careers, military educational and experience or egos.

I do believe that after 9/11 the country should have some down time. I am by no mans a “peace kik”. And since Afghanistan and Iraq — we definitely needed some time for a national period of reflection, before launching into anoter series of conflicts, all, unneccessary in my view.

This morning my chain and gears completely jammed. Like it or not I had to stop riding. Regardless of how embarrassing, or short my usual goal. I will am forced to repair the bike, buy a new one or both.

I think 9/11 and the messiness of the the resulting engagements were key signs the country needed to stop and assess. And neither those invasions and the subsequent mess make the country and less exceptional anymore than my bianchi road bike is any less an excpetional bike because I am forced to reconsider making the required repairs of replacing her with something new.

We are overdue for an overhaul.

#7 Comment By The Wet One On June 12, 2015 @ 11:12 am

I approve of this article very heartily.

It would be a wonderful thing if everyone on the North American continent read this, thought about it for 10 minutes and read it again.

It would have a tremendous salutary effect on the world.

I can dream can’t I?

#8 Comment By balconesfault On June 12, 2015 @ 11:15 am

I’ve suggested here before – the US news and political punditry system has been rigged to promote military force as the primary solution to most geopolitical conflicts.

While I’m far from suggesting that this is true, I’ve been thinking lately that it would not shock me in the future to find a consortium of Navistar, Textron, ATK, Honeywell, Oshkosh, and General Dynamics – the companies who profit most when military hardware is purchased by our government to put into the hands of foreign forces – had to create a group like ISIS in order to keep demand for their products high.

#9 Comment By seydlitz89 On June 12, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

Interesting. In terms of strategic theory (Clausewitz, not Sun Tzu), I would add that we quickly lose wars at the strategic level but have the ability to remain engaged indefinitely at the operational level. That is because our wars are strategically incoherent, based essentially on notions of American exceptionalism mixed with the emphasis on violence as the primary means. Remaking both Afghan and Iraqi political identities were simply beyond the range of US military power to achieve and would have required a full spectrum of national commitment, which we were unwilling to give.

The single US policy goal since the mid 1990s has been to remain the global hegemon, which is also strategically incoherent since you cannot simply plan for nor react effectively against any eventual competitive move . . .

Expanding on Nr 10 I would add, that any voice raised commenting on this strategic incoherence is automatically labeled as “anti-American” and then blamed for the following “defeat”, which has become all to obvious . . .

#10 Comment By AJ On June 12, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

I feel like we are all standing on an embankment, watching a train wreck in slow motion, while the Chinese and Russians just bide their time waiting for the US to self-destruct.

#11 Comment By John Blade Wiederspan On June 12, 2015 @ 2:54 pm

I continually recommend The American Conservative web site and magazine to my non-conservative friends to show them the so-called celebrity “conservatives” and the GOP(Defending American Values)do not truly represent conservatism. This article is one more in a long line of must read pieces. Come Home America.

#12 Comment By collin On June 12, 2015 @ 3:04 pm

How about we don’t win wars because we are using military options for political problems. The troops easily got to Bagdad but they are not the right people to fix their broken political system.

#13 Comment By Michael N Moore On June 12, 2015 @ 3:37 pm

By the time President Eisenhower warned about the Military-Industrial Complex in 1961 it was already in power. Eisenhower originally wanted to call it the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex to indicate its political embedment. C. Wright Mills began noting this 10-years earlier.

Today US military spending provides one of the few hedges against the economic disaster of off-shored jobs and cut-throat economics. At the same time, it has become one of the biggest threats to World peace as manifested by the growing conflagration in the Middle East and the resurrection of the Cold War.

Much of US “foreign aid” is actually a subsidy for US defense contractors. Witness the report in the NY Times of March 24, 2012, in which Hillary Clinton is unable to delay aid to the, then unknown, Egyptian government: “A delay or a cut in $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt risked breaking existing contracts with the American arms manufacturer that could have shut down production lines in the middle of President Obama’s re-election campaign…”

For the weapons industry our US taxpayer weapons subsidy to Israel is worth every penny, as Israel has been reduced to being our military hardware show room in the region. Witness our recent $11 billion arms deal with Qatar, an ally of Hamas or the arms sales to the Gulf States who fund ISIS.

#14 Comment By Steve K On June 12, 2015 @ 6:07 pm

What AJ says ‘might’ come to be… Will ‘probably’ come to be if we ALL (both right and left) don’t start working together.

AJ mentions a ‘train wreck’ well, the train is already off the track and it was derailed not for love of country or to make America better it was done to increase the bottom line of corporations whose only concern is profit… The bottom line.

#15 Comment By Emilio On June 12, 2015 @ 7:05 pm

Great article. As someone who supported Obama on Libya, I have had a lot to think about these last few years. TAC has been quite helpful in setting good guideposts.

#16 Comment By Tony D. On June 12, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

Well, this post just about sums it up. Senator Goldwater’s old question, “Why Not Victory?” is answered: Not enough money in it.

#17 Comment By Junior On June 12, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

The real 12 reasons that America doesn’t win its wars are the 12 “Federal” Reserve Banks and their owners who profit from perpetual war.

#18 Comment By Rossbach On June 12, 2015 @ 11:02 pm

If the American electorate accept this state of affairs and do nothing, they will deserve the bitter consequences.

#19 Comment By Noah On June 13, 2015 @ 1:35 am

We’ve optimized our state for military power that in turn fuels our economy. With this being the case, the course we’re on drives us towards an eventual global monopoly on military power. As the planet gets smaller and smaller, the end game is nearly here as we must press our advantage to the maximum before our position is outflanked.

What we are seeing with states like China is their ability to combat our military by threatening our economic supply lines that make our preeminence possible. In a sense they are trying to outflank our military position by developing an economic one with equal influence which at some point could be leveraged to subjugate our military or provide the ground work to replace ours. The New Silk Road, limited military projection into their near seas, and the failure of the TPP bill suggests they are determined in their effort to undermine our position or force confrontation. Furthermore, when they act militarily in conjunction with states like Russia, it is clear how they can stretch our focus and capability to its limits. A position that becomes precarious for us when coupled with economic warfare.

If the US continues the course we’re on, the solution will necessarily unfold in three steps. First we have to conclude the revolution in military affairs and deploy a technologically superior force that no other country can confront directly, either unilaterally or with allies. Second, we have to prove our ability to optimize our position and demonstrate our efficacy in policing and protecting sovereignty; a shift from the first step’s aggressive display. Finally, having defeated our foes head on and consolidating our position, we will need to induce either a golden age due to the protection our military provides.

As our country is well suited for the task at hand, the best course seems to be the maximization of our core competence, power projection. As this is completed and fortified, the final victory has to be through other means such as cultural, economic, scientific, or exploratory accolades. Proving we have secured Earth can be accomplished by establishing new colonies or research outposts in near outer-space.

#20 Comment By Neal On June 13, 2015 @ 8:13 am

The good news is that these wars are essentially cost free to people like me. Oh sure, I suppose my taxes are a bit higher than otherwise and I suppose the money we spend on these wars might be put to better use elsewhere, but these are just fiscal policy preferences.

As for the human cost… there seems to be an never ending supply of young american men and women willing to do this work so I guess we should let them. Fortunately, no one I know is interested.

#21 Comment By Ken T On June 13, 2015 @ 8:41 am

This article presents the most succinct and comprehensive analysis of the situation that I think I have ever read. Ike warned us 60 years ago what was coming; we now see it playing out exactly as he predicted.

If we look at all past empires in history, we see that in almost every case the empire fell because it was devoting its resources to supporting its military expansionism, rather than taking care of business at home. There is no reason to think the U.S. will be any different.

#22 Comment By Mark Thomason On June 13, 2015 @ 9:13 am

I knew all those things, but it was impressive to see them in one list, with conclusion drawn. Absolutely correct.

#23 Comment By 3 O’Clock Road Block On June 13, 2015 @ 11:20 am

This article is a 21st century update to Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket.” Great stuff. Unfortunately, those who need to understand these concepts the most, will not. As they say, it is difficult to make someone understand something when their paycheck depends on them not understanding it.

#24 Comment By Hopeful and Patient On June 13, 2015 @ 12:47 pm

Those who worked to drag us into these Middle Eastern disasters did incalculable damage to the country. We must never forget what they did, and I hope and pray that in the fullness of time they will be made to pay.

#25 Comment By Charles C. Burgess On June 13, 2015 @ 2:32 pm

Brilliant analysis. Spot on. And the posturing fools in Washington and the Pentagon want to take on Russia and China. Look out below!

#26 Comment By gregorylent On June 13, 2015 @ 3:18 pm

never saw a country suicide before .. makes me want to get out of the way, let it happen, because saving it from itself means changing an entire collective consciousness .. impossible

#27 Comment By Minnesota Mary On June 13, 2015 @ 7:35 pm

Peggy Noonan had better watch out, or she will be dropped from her perch at the Wall Street Journal.

#28 Comment By John Pence On June 14, 2015 @ 8:17 am

I agree 100% with AJ. We are playing with fire.

#29 Comment By Dixie_Pixie On June 14, 2015 @ 11:49 pm

Reason 13—Profit Motive
The Laws of Economics apply to DOD just like it does to any other organization.
Warfare causes a rush of money to flood into DOD to fund the War, costs be damned.
More War = More money…its a very simple equation even a US Army General can figure out.

Reason 14….Simple Stupidity
The “US War of War” is caught in a simple trap.
The civilian control by US politicians has resulted in personal that has no knowledge or experience in waging a War running DOD.
Incompetent Leadership is the Rule not exception since WW2

Add the fact that most are trained Lawyers not soldiers results in Washington legal issues dominating War Planing and Operations not military Reality.
Thus while Washington Lawyers fight imaginary legal Hobgoblins, the “enemy” has a maximum incentive to concentrate on the military tasks at hand.
Even a barely competent military organization with limited military resources runs rings around DOD.

For example: only Washington is so stupid to send the US Army to “fight” Ebola (a virus).
Soldiers are simply the wrong tool for a medical problem and thus are certain to “Lose”.
Yet Washington did so.

#30 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 15, 2015 @ 3:15 am

“The good news is that these wars are essentially cost free to people like me.”

Shop until you drop.

Economist Herb Stein famously predicted, “If things just can’t go on like this, they won’t.”

America inherited the British empire after the original proprietors went bankrupt from the excess expenditures of two world wars closely spaced. The overhead just became too much to bear, but fortunately there was a younger still wealthy family member to take over. But the costs are beyond belief to rule the world economically by means of military threat, and much as the American economy is now wholly dependent upon the vast garrisoning of the planet – “Baseworld” in the parlance of late ex-CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson – at the same time, it is temporally unsustainable. Thus the dangerous drive to more intensive war, with its risk of a final conflagration, but with the gambler’s chance for world conquest never greater than before unfavorable economics and the rise of rivals conspire to place the objective out of reach.

The current unwinnable wars are simply the continuous skirmishes necessary to maintain global hegemony, the macro equivalent of it being that it is enough for Israel to keep mowing their Palestinian lawn to remain dominant, forever.

But the reality is that the efforts will prove too costly to sustain, once even more of the population realizes by personal experience of declining living standards that the wars for empire are neither cost-free to them economically, nor do they make them safe, but the opposite.

#31 Comment By Greg Bacon On June 15, 2015 @ 4:14 am

“The only way to win is to convince Americans that a dollar spent on guns will be a dollar that won’t be spent on butter as promised…

America is falling apart, due to lack of money to fund infrastructure projects, like our broken highway and bridges, yet the ‘Wars for Wall Street and Israel’ continue, so the idea that Americans would demand the never-ending wars stop because of lack of butter doesn’t fly.

#32 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 15, 2015 @ 8:01 am

I was ok with your comments until this one.

“For example: only Washington is so stupid to send the US Army to “fight” Ebola (a virus). Soldiers are simply the wrong tool for a medical problem and thus are certain to “Lose”.”

The armed services medical community has been employed to the good in places around world to the good. Many for political reasons are secret humanitarian missions, particularly in South Amrica.

Maybe civilians would be better. But a military impression might be helfpful is suggesting that would be rebels or disparate groups might be less likely to confiscate supplies of personnell for their own ends.

#33 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 15, 2015 @ 8:09 am

As for the specifics about whether or not we win wars, I would advance several wars that we have won and why they are wins, but I currently, just don’t have the time to respond to all of te subsequent ninsense that would follow from people, especially from the those who supported Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, or the Ukranian revolution all of which makes less sense than our choice in 1965 when framed for the space and time environments in which they occurred.

#34 Comment By heartright On June 15, 2015 @ 10:06 am

There is less optionality than you may think.

The whole article is worth a read, but I certainly wish to highlight the conclusion,

If our ties with House of Saud unravel, due to our lack of foresight or inaction, there will be a major shift in world power and most likely, a period of unprecedented chaos.

A recently retired military officer with many years of service in the region, who asked that his name not be mentioned, put it this way: “The US relationship with the House of Saud is akin to ‘dancing with the devil.’ We need them and they need us—and that balance maintains the current world order. The day the Saudis don’t need us or are deposed by the likes of ISIS will be a very bad day indeed. Not only will the oil not flow but the devil will open the gates of hell and his minions will devote their lives to our destruction, but now funded by Saudi oil.”

#35 Comment By Junior On June 15, 2015 @ 3:45 pm


“As for the human cost… there seems to be an never ending supply of young american men and women willing to do this work so I guess we should let them. Fortunately, no one I know is interested.”

Even if it was meant to be sarcastic… not funny. Those are American lives that you’re talking about. Your post is reason #13 in the list of why we’re in the mess that we’re in today: Apathy.

#36 Comment By Tony D. On June 15, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

Neal’s comment was perfectly serious. We have an all-volunteer military. If people stopped signing up Washington would have to seriously re-tool (or more likely just start hiring a lot more “private security” firms). That’s not sarcasm, it’s reality.

#37 Comment By KENNETH VINEY On June 16, 2015 @ 11:20 am

Good read but do not take the cop off the beat. The US will continue to be the police of the world and good thing too. Even reduced policing in NY results in more murder and crime. The world is no different. Rand Paul seems to have some balance here. We will see.

#38 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 16, 2015 @ 11:53 am

There is no reason to be believe that ISIS/ISIL are real threats to the Saudis. Not once one notes the numerous references to the composition of the organization. I don’t thik these are outsiders from the region. I am unconvinced that they are a major threat to the US.

In my view, and I do have a perspective that varies a good deal on most foreign policy issues they are the former Sunni members of the Bathe Party, that have no intention of lting down to Shia, scorch and burn policy in Iraq that has been a constant since we invaded and failed to ensure the democracy we promised.

#39 Comment By Junior On June 16, 2015 @ 3:55 pm


“…they are the former Sunni members of the Bathe Party, that have no intention of lting down to Shia”

I agree 100%. We can thank THE epitome of “The Ugly American”, Paul Bremer, for that when he disbanded the Iraqi Army. Mere words can not describe the contempt I have for Bremer with his action that has costed untold numbers of Americans lives because I believe he knew EXACTLY what was going to happen when he did it. The War Racketeers needed an enemy to stay in perpetual war with and so Bremer gave them one. He is one of the “Finger Men” that General Smedley
Butler discusses in the quote below.

“I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.”
-General Smedley Butler


#40 Comment By Junior On June 16, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

@Tony D.

“Neal’s comment was perfectly serious. We have an all-volunteer military. If people stopped signing up Washington would have to seriously re-tool (or more likely just start hiring a lot more “private security” firms). That’s not sarcasm, it’s reality.”

Yes, but these are YOUNG kids that are signing up with NO real understanding of the Racket that our politicians have turned War into. They believe that they are fighting and DYING to make America a safer and better place, so how about WE fight to make things safer and better for THEM.

The solution is to educate them about what is going on BEFORE signing up and to try to make sure the ones that are ALREADY serving are not sent unnecessarily to war by speaking up and making sure that our politicians do NOT send them into those needless wars.

The answer is NOT, “Meh, oh well the world is going to hell in a handbasket but it doesn’t affect me so who cares.” The opposite of Good is not Evil, the opposite of Good is Apathy.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything” ― Albert Einstein

#41 Comment By Nil On June 17, 2015 @ 1:54 am


There’s more than a little bit of irony, perhaps unintentional, in your post because earlier you felt the need to qualify lives with “American.”

#42 Comment By Junior On June 17, 2015 @ 4:33 pm


You’re absolutely right, and it was unintentional. It seems to take an unintentional Interventionist slant at the end if not fully clarified.

I believe that America should lead by EXAMPLE, and NOT by sending OUR Soldiers to die all over the globe spreading “Freedom”. Our role in the fight against Global Apathy should be that of Inspiration. When we try to force OUR Freedom on THEM, we lose everything that America is supposed to stand for. Or as in a speech by John Quincy Adams that FAR better expresses it, which was recently posted on a different piece in TAC,

“She[America] will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force….”

-John Quincy Adams (July 4, 1821)

And what I SHOULD have said in my post to better express AMERICAN’S Apathy was, “Meh, oh well America is going to hell in a handbasket…”

And instead of using Einstein’s quote, from which my feelings may be misconstrued if not clarified, a more succinct and apropos quote to describe my feelings on Apathy would be,

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” – Plato

#43 Comment By Pete On June 18, 2015 @ 1:11 am

Look at the picture at the top of the page. Didn’t Ike say the same thing after WWII? “Beware the military-industrial complex!”

#44 Comment By Robert Tartell On June 18, 2015 @ 5:57 pm

Butler, who at one time was in line to be Commandant of the Marine Corps, and who was an enthusiastic warrior en route to not just one, but two Medals of Honor, wrote War is a Racket after experiences which led him to the conclusion that the Corps was being abused for the benefit of big corporations such as United Fruit (who had his men load bananas) and Standard Oil, who used them to fight horrific fires, and showed their gratitude by only giving them a new set of fatigues. His book is a succinct but highly detailed condemnation of what only later morphed into a huger Hollywood-Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned against, but like Washington with his slaves did nothing in his lifetime to stem. In fact the highly provocative U-2 flights over Russia- an act of war- showed that U.S. intelligence had vastly overestimated Soviet military capacity, and the the beast was allowed to grow unchecked

#45 Comment By Bernard On June 18, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

wow, a conservative voice questioning our permanent war footing. too late, but worth noting. those who live by the sword.

#46 Comment By Tony D. On June 18, 2015 @ 10:14 pm

Bernard, where’ve you been? TAC has been a consistent voice for the anti-war right since 2002.

#47 Comment By Andrew W On October 26, 2015 @ 12:01 am

“Neal’s comment was perfectly serious. We have an all-volunteer military. If people stopped signing up Washington would have to seriously re-tool (or more likely just start hiring a lot more “private security” firms). That’s not sarcasm, it’s reality.”

They’d just reinstate the draft. They’d call it national service or something and send the smart/wealthy kids off to Americorps or something, but they’d find the bodies.

#48 Comment By Colorado Jack On October 26, 2015 @ 6:01 pm

The premise is incorrect. We do in fact win some wars. Bill Clinton won the war with Serbia. George H.W. Bush won the Gulf War and the war with Panama. Like any aggressor, a President doesn’t start a war unless he is certain he can win it, and, moreover, win it quickly. George W. Bush thought Iraq would be a pushover. He thought in early 2002 that we had whipped the Taliban. He turned out to be wrong. Long wars are not good for a President’s popularity, which is why the article is simplistic. The factors it points to are real, but there are other factors that come into play as well.

#49 Comment By Ted On July 16, 2017 @ 9:44 am

The reason America doesn’t win wars anymore is momostly because politicians won’t use its military to win the war. Elites try and fight a ‘careful’ war–a non-offensive war. Fat Man and Little Boy ended the war with Japan in 3 days. You want to win a war? Fight to win.