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Parade of Defeat: Trump Prefers Spectacle Over Strategy

Remember when military parades actually celebrated victories? Those were the days, or, better yet, the day—June 8, 1991 actually. A few months after the U.S. military’s 100-hour lightning ground war ejected Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait, some 8,800 soldiers marched down Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. President George H.W. Bush and General Norman Schwarzkopf presided. The White House called it the National Victory Celebration.

The world seemed simpler then. Sure, some openly questioned Bush’s motives [1] (no blood for oil!), the Senate authorization vote was uncomfortably close, and matters got messy when the Kurds and Shia rose up in postwar Iraq. Still, America had won a “victory” of sorts. At the cost of fewer than 200 dead (experts had predicted thousands), a highly professional U.S. Army and its coalition allies had liberated Kuwait and devastated the Iraqi military. Its objectives clearly set and now achieved, the army mostly returned home. Bush wisely ignored hawkish calls to seize and occupy Baghdad. Saddam, after all, was “in his box [2]” and could be contained. It was time for the parades.

So as we awaken to news [3] that President Trump ordered the Pentagon to plan for a massive military parade, one cannot help but wonder what it is we’re celebrating. Nearly 17 years of indecisive quagmire [4]? Hardly. Make no mistake, this is not about the soldiers or the vets. Trump, following the lead of his predecessors, has turned the petty political appropriation [5] of the troops into an art form. Soldiers are a pawn in the game, a very old game, in which the hawkish interventionists inspire the base and depict the opposition as dovish traitors. This is distraction, meant to disguise what amounts to paltry policy in foreign affairs; it’s spectacle not strategy. In truth, our soldiers languish in indecisive operations across the Middle East and North Africa—a human “sunk cost [6] dilemma.

Still, were we to pretend that this parade is meant to celebrate military accomplishment, it’s worth asking: how are our wars doing? The short answer: not so well. But wait, someone will inevitably protest, hasn’t the U.S. military “beaten” the Islamic State?  Yes and no, actually. ISIS ideology remains strong and what now amounts to an indefinite U.S. presence in Syria just might kick off a new insurgency. What’s more, America’s ostensible ally, Turkey, is attacking U.S.-partnered Kurdish militias. There’s no exit strategy, folks, once again. That’s the Syria trap [7]. Scarier still, the fight with ISIS is actually the good news.

Against his better “instincts [8],” Trump let Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster nudge him into a new mini-surge into Afghanistan. That means more troops, more treasure, and more dead in an unwinnable—and now America’s longest—war. For all the talk of new strategies, “turning corners [9]” and “breaking stalemates [10],” the truth is that Afghanistan is a failing resource sinkhole. These days, despite America’s best efforts and more than 2,000 dead servicemembers, a record [11] number of Afghan provinces and districts are under the control of, or contested by, the Taliban. Any limited, short-duration successes were never sustainable. Afghanistan’s economy still cannot support itself. In any given year, foreign aid accounts [12] for about 95 percent of total GDP. Worse still, as events over the last few weeks have shown, no area of the country is immune to terror bombing [13], not even downtown Kabul.

U.S. Special Forces continue to fight “terror” all around the globe. In 2016, these advisors and trainers deployed to 70 percent [14] of the world’s countries. Special operators died this year in Niger, Somalia, Yemen, and, of course, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They’re not winning, though, not in any real sense. In Africa, a new hot spot for the U.S. military, the number of Islamist threat groups has only risen [15] in response to the American presence. And, as I recently wrote at TAC [16], the high operational tempo might just be “breaking” America’s cherished army. As for those ever-strained, overstretched Special Operations forces, well, relentless deployments are breaking [16] them down, too. Reports [17] indicate that mental distress and suicide are again on the rise in America’s special ops community.

U.S. military operations in Iraq and Yemen aren’t exactly dazzling success stories either. Iraqi forces have, after three years, finally snuffed out most ISIS conventional forces from their so-called caliphate, sure. Nevertheless, they only did so by relying [18] on popular mobilization forces (militias often backed by Iran) to augment the demoralized regular army. And, of course, a a Shia-dominated, Iran-friendly government still presides in Baghdad. It’s unclear whether it will magnanimously reintegrate [19] the still-alienated Iraqi Sunnis. If they don’t, the country is ripe for the rise of ISIS 2.0.

Yemen is starving, literally. Saudi terror bombing, enabled [20] by U.S. munitions and in-flight refueling, is killing a Yemeni child every 10 minutes [21] or so, and the blockade and resultant famine have kicked off the worst cholera epidemic in human history [22]. None of this has dislodged the Houthi rebels from north and west Yemen, and has only strengthened [23] the real threat to America, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has found sanctuary amid the chaos. Chalk up Yemen as another likely defeat for the US.

change_me

Still, if it’s a parade Trump wants, it is a parade he shall get. He is, after all, the commander-in-chief, and, closed-door Pentagon groaning aside, the military will get it done. The cost will be profligate, of course. The logistics, like getting armored brigades from Fort Stewart, Georgia, or Fort Hood, Texas, to Washington D.C., will be daunting as ever. The can-do military professionals will perform obediently, just as they have for 17 bloody, indecisive years. And what a display it will be—one, you can be sure, that will rival the best Kim Jong-un has to offer in Pyongyang. Our button, as our president said, is bigger than his.

When the time comes, maybe a slew of winless generals should lead Trump’s parade—from Tommy Franks (who kicked things off with no plan for occupying the countries we conquered), to David Petraeus (who tried and failed to “surge” us to victory in Iraq), to Stanley McChrystal (the Rolling Stone bad boy [24] who thought he could apply the Iraq surge to Afghanistan), to, well, whoever’s been trudging along since. It’s taken a baker’s dozen of otherwise talented commanding generals to lose a war that couldn’t be won, so let’s give them a prominent place in the coming cavalcade. Americans will continue to pour on the effortless adulation, at least until their iPhones ding.

Hail the generals-who-tried! Hail the young soldiers who died for naught but their mates! Hail the forever war and…the new American militarism!

Major Danny Sjursen, a regular TAC contributor, is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge [25]. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet [26] and check out his new podcast “Fortress on a Hill,” [27] co-hosted with fellow vet Chris “Henri” Henrikson.

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

45 Comments (Open | Close)

45 Comments To "Parade of Defeat: Trump Prefers Spectacle Over Strategy"

#1 Comment By Realist (the first one) On February 8, 2018 @ 11:05 pm

You left out the most salient point of all: it was the boneheaded Iraq War of 2003 that directly led to the chaos from which ISIS was born. If we had just left Saddam Hussein alone in Baghdad, Iraq would in all likelihood have remained a stable bulwark against both radical Sunni Islam and Iranian influence.

#2 Comment By Youknowho On February 8, 2018 @ 11:35 pm

I take that Trump as a child did not get to play with soldiers as much as he wanted to.

So now, he has armies to play with..

#3 Comment By steve mckinney On February 9, 2018 @ 12:04 am

Oh Danny boy… “And strike a blow though, weak the blow may be.” I long for dispassionate journalism, but in your prose I hear the shrillness of bagpipes. Failure is as much a part of the Samaritan’s journey as success. Failure in the world’s eyes may just be success in our God’s. We need to pull back, come home, and listen to the still voices of circumspection. There will be time for more failure, and if our Lord wishes it so, a success here and there. A military parade, marching to shine inward and glare outward, is an appropriate counterpoint to you, and your band of pharisees, that are lost to the innate goodness and hope of the American Samaritan. Danny, chuck your bagpipes in the Potomac and come lift up your countrymen, roar with good will and good wishes of safekeeping. Come be glad for them and for your blessings. Oh Danny Boy, “the pipes the pipes are calling, from glen to glen, and down the mountain side.”

#4 Comment By a spencer On February 9, 2018 @ 1:16 am

Wild guess that most vets would rather see that money spent on the VA.

#5 Comment By Realist On February 9, 2018 @ 3:46 am

“Hail the young soldiers who died for naught but their mates! Hail the forever war and…the new American militarism!”

The list of useless wars goes back at least to the Korean war.

#6 Comment By Mike Garrett On February 9, 2018 @ 4:21 am

This American militarism is new? How quickly they forget. Must be Yankees.

#7 Comment By mark gray On February 9, 2018 @ 6:36 am

Thanks it’s good to hear honest truth.

#8 Comment By upstater On February 9, 2018 @ 7:00 am

Trump was reportedly inspired by the military parade given in his honor by Macron in France. One chicken hawk trying to impress another. One fallen empire trying to impress a falling empire. Bring on the bread and circuses!

#9 Comment By grumpy realist On February 9, 2018 @ 7:23 am

Someone suggested–considering Trump’s comments about what he actually did during the Vietnam War and his “fight” to not get any STDs–that any tanks-on-parade be replaced by huge inflated condoms.

#10 Comment By Gordan T. On February 9, 2018 @ 7:33 am

Major Sjursen,

Over the decades I have acquired the view that, for Americans, wars are a spectacle no different than spectator sports. Sadly, they care not a whit for the troops except, perhaps, the way that a dogfighter may care about a prize dog: purely as a means to obtain victory, which is defined not as any kind of tangible benefit but as the prestige of defeating and dominating some other.

They will tie a yellow ribbon and thank veterans for their service but precious few will fight for veterans’ benefits or to prevent the habitual “making of a new deal” Vader-style by shifting the blame on the spent cannon-fodder for injuries and dysfunction acquired in combat. (The cost is still borne by the society, one way or another, but the image of War is protected from excessive tarnish.) Precious fewer, still, will fight for the most important of all veterans’ benefits: not sacrificing them in senseless and ceaseless engagements.

I fear that your exculpation of generals at the expense of civilian leadership is wholly undeserved. Those generals have had a lot to do with perpetuating our perpetual state of war. Even the rank-and-file troops are not blameless in perpetuating this enormous war machine which, having been born, now has to justify its continued existence and growth, just as most human enterprises tend to do.

If I were a political cartoonist, I might try my hand at a couple of images that come to mind: a little girl with pigtails applying a yellow ribbon as a tourniquet on a half-blown-off soldier’s limb; or, less grisly but ultimately more ominous, the Statue of Liberty having a yellow ribbon tied over her eyes… or around her neck.

#11 Comment By FJR On February 9, 2018 @ 7:34 am

Thanks for this article. I agreed with everything except the disclaimer at the end.

#12 Comment By Gordan T. On February 9, 2018 @ 7:42 am

I waxed poetic and forgot my main point: perhaps it would not be the worst thing in the world if we were, in fact, to take a page out of some of those dictatorial regimes’ books when it comes to military spectacle: if we must have military spectacles, let’s have more of them here, at home, in the form of parades, and broadcast our military might by TV, rather than through physical presence.

Thank you for your service to the country in writing this article.

#13 Comment By Michael On February 9, 2018 @ 10:20 am

I would say that the parade is to honor the men and women of our military. There is no place on the globe where our military is found and no conflict anywhere in which our military is involved that did not have civilians ordering the military to go there and do it. It is time that America show our appreciation in a big way. Trump understands that instinctively. The parade will be fabulous.

#14 Comment By Liam On February 9, 2018 @ 10:34 am

You may expect the something like following quote from Trump at the time of the parade:

“Grigory Potemkin is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.”

#15 Comment By Don Walker On February 9, 2018 @ 10:35 am

Spot on!

#16 Comment By David_Walkabout On February 9, 2018 @ 10:40 am

Actually, the Russians beat ISIS — just like they made victory in WWII possible. But G_d forbid we disrupt the exceptionalism narrative with the cold, hard TRUTH, even here on AC.

#17 Comment By Misthiocracy On February 9, 2018 @ 11:34 am

Countless? Really?

#18 Comment By G On February 9, 2018 @ 12:17 pm

Danny,

Those parades after the first Gulf War were a joke. Those of us that were first to arrive in country didn’t parade down main-street. We went, did our job, and came home not wanting any fan fair. I personally felt as if the victory was incomplete. Time has proven me correct. While some were parading the Shia rebellion in southern Iraq was being put down by Saddam and the Kurds were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. So, the parades were for the folks back home, not us. They waved flags and felt good about themselves for a day and then went back to work. Some of our guys paraded around in clean uniforms and ignorantly declared victory. Meanwhile the rest of us went back to work to a very messy world and found ourselves back over in the box or in Somalia, Haiti or Bosnia.
Regarding the current wars why is everyone so hard on Trump when they were so quiet on Obama? That is the question we really need answered. Is the American public complacent or just uneducated about what is going on outside the bubble? Maybe they are just used to the new norm. If we take a broader view one could argue that the war never really ended. We had Southern and Northern Watch plus a few cruise missile strikes during Clinton. If they want a parade let them have it. It will give the perfumed princes something to do while the rest of us slog on. And maybe, just maybe it will get the American people to realize the war is still ongoing.

#19 Comment By David Smith On February 9, 2018 @ 12:25 pm

Imperial dementia. We can’t win and we can’t leave.

#20 Comment By David Nash On February 9, 2018 @ 12:27 pm

From the platform on top of Lincoln’s Tomb, Admiral General Trumpo, standing next to his Best Guy Vlad the Impaler, along with the rest of the Republican Politburo, will review *his* loyal troops. (Waddaya mean, Lincoln’s Tomb isn’t right on Pennsylvania Avenue? Move it! I’m the President. I won. I’m the Boss! It’s MY country now!”)

A previous Republican President, one erased from the current Congressional Republican canon, was Teddy Roosevelt, who famously proclaimed, “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”

Our Man Donald seems to think that meant, “Rave incoherently and wave your little ****.”

And we will make the world safe for democracy.

#21 Comment By SteveM On February 9, 2018 @ 12:50 pm

The three fundamental factors that Major Sjursen leaves out of the discussion space are:

1) An all-volunteer military
2) Free will
2) The military job description

The United States has an all-volunteer military. Nobody is forced to sign up. The fundamental job description of the military is to kill and destroy.

When someone signs up for the military they do so voluntarily. If they intend on making the military a career they should expect to kill and destroy for the duration of their career. If they don’t like the job description, they should not enlist. If they have enlisted and realize that they made a mistake, they should get out.

If Major Sjursen was serious about his complaints, (and I myself believe that they are all valid) he should resign his commission. Rather than just complain about the pathological foreign policies hatched by the nitwit elites in Washington, a former Major Sjursen should be encouraging young Americans not to sign up and encourage uniformed military personnel to get out ASAP and get real jobs in the real economy that provide real value to their fellow citizens.

As a taxpayer, I’d then thank him for his service.

#22 Comment By PAX On February 9, 2018 @ 12:50 pm

What we have to be proud of is the courage and valor of these brave men and women. What we do not have to be proud of are our manipulated politicians who continue to put them in harm’s way because of the urgings of armchair warriors AKA neocons (the war party) and to the delight of the military-industrial complex. Time for Congress to muster up the same courage and declare peace.

#23 Comment By Dr TJ Martin On February 9, 2018 @ 12:50 pm

What do we have to celebrate when it comes to the US Military ‘s actions since WWII ?

Other than one failed war ( or police action ) after another .. our young men and women dying in vain ( both on the battlefield and when returning home ) .. 70 years of misguided political and financial agendas fueling these endless and meaningless wars .. 60%+ of the tax payers dollar going towards an over bloated ineffective military and these multiple exercises in futility ?

Sadly … with absolutely no insult intended , inferred or implied towards those brave souls who serve and the boots on the ground ….

Absolutely Nothing

#24 Comment By Stephen J. On February 9, 2018 @ 1:27 pm

I believe this is a type of parade we need.
———————————————
The Parade We Really Need

The parade we really need should have past and present world “leaders”
They should be dressed in orange prison issue jumpsuits because war criminal trials are needed
They should be shackled hands and feet, no more expensive dresses or suits for them
I am sure all of their victims still alive, would say to that: “Amen”

The parade should also include the bloody profiteers of death and destruction
The bankers, financiers, the corporate cannibals too, that profit from all the hellish productions
The drone operators should also be included they have killed children as well
These nine to five armchair operators that obey their satanic orders from hell

The torturers and spy chiefs should also have their “pride of place”
They are willing participants on what happens to the human race
There also must be a place for all the “honourable” politicians
Then as they walk the line, the watchers can shout their derision

There should be giant screens showing all the refugee camps
The “work” of the parade participants now in metal clamps
The victims still alive of all the illegal wars, hopefully should get some satisfaction
As they see the marching villains, ridiculed and heckled for all their diabolical actions

The brainwashed that carry out orders, should be ordered to take part
Without them obeying their instructions, many wars would not start
Countries would still be whole, and not reduced to smoking rubble
If only the willing participants had refused to create all this hellish trouble

If I have failed to mention, some that should be there
Hopefully they will be rounded up to show that we all “care”
This parade should be one of remembrance for all of those that died and bleed
So in my opinion here and now this is a parade we really need…
[more info at link below]
[28]

#25 Comment By One Guy On February 9, 2018 @ 1:42 pm

What are we celebrating? Why Trump is celebrating Trump, of course. He’s done nothing else for the past year, from bragging about the biggest election victory in history to the biggest inaugural crowd in history to the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake in history. Everything Trump does and says is to brag about how fantastic and wonderful Trump is.

#26 Comment By LouisM On February 9, 2018 @ 2:23 pm

I don’t think its stupid or a celebration if its done on a military holiday like veterans day where we honor our military (past and present).

Its shows our patriotism, our unity as a nation and our strength to our doubters and enemies.

If its a celebration of our 30 years of perpetual war then that is something I would oppose. We have nothing to celebrate in all the years of our foreign wars except our dead and wounded…and the GOP is starting to sound like it will spend this nation into trillions of dollars of foreign war debt while it lets medicare and social security go insolvent and face forced cuts. The democrats are already saying it. The republicans are already endorsing it. Once the that stark choice is made before the American people, the GOP supporters will wither. Its one thing to starve the leftists in education and to promote work and restricting immigration to bring social welfare program spending under tighter budgetary control. Right now people are supporting work and immigration restriction. Wait until we have a military parade and shortly thereafter a GOP politician says there will be medicare / Medicaid / disability and social security cuts.

#27 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On February 9, 2018 @ 2:51 pm

Here’s a thought: Insofar as neocon military and foreign policy depends on pulling the wool over people’s eyes, then military parades might actually make that harder to do, psychologically and sociologically, at least (not so much in terms of military doctrine, which is the implicit thrust of this article’s complaint).

#28 Comment By Chris Thomas On February 9, 2018 @ 4:43 pm

Hey Danny,
You sound like an enemy of America. WE ( America) didn’t choose to be in “countless undecisive wars” as you put it. And you’re exaggerating. We are NOT in “countless” wars. The wars are undecided because of the likes of Obama and the jokers that were POTUS before Obama.

Pres. Trump did not get us into these wars. Pres. Trump is celebrating American military pride and attempting to build moral in our military ranks. Attempting to build pride and moral in patriotic Americans. And I LOUDLY APPLAUD him for that..

You, on the other hand, write as a left-wing nut.

#29 Comment By Louis Becker On February 9, 2018 @ 4:51 pm

If there is to be a parade, Trump should ask that it be paid for by the companies of the defense industry that make millions supplying the weaponry for all these wars.

#30 Comment By Joe from PA On February 9, 2018 @ 8:21 pm

I think parades to honor America and those serving in the armed forces are great — particularly on special days like Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day — or if it’s a massive victory -like after World War II.

However, the intent and motive here by Trump seems to be more out of vanity and satiating his authoritarian streak and possibly remorse for his own draft dodging. Needs to be Mr. Tough Guy.

Instead of parades for his own vanity, he ought to rethink the disastrous strategy we’ve taken over the past 17 years at home and abroad. Let’s reform FISA; let’s make for more accountability for defense spending; let’s protect the American people’s civil liberties. Finally, let’s get the fiscal house in order and refrain from excesses and prestige goods – like tank parades!

Honoring America and our military and veterans and those who gave it all is one thing. Honoring the vanity of one man is another.

#31 Comment By Tom Laney On February 10, 2018 @ 6:16 am

Kinda surprised Danny, that you didn’t mention Kuwait had drilled diagonally into Iraq’s oil and that Saddam was cleared by the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq for his invasion.

#32 Comment By EliteCommInc. On February 10, 2018 @ 11:35 am

i am not going to disparage troops getting a pat on the back or some encouragement from the public, regardless of any political motivations. I suspect they have been taking a beating over Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria Yemen and whatever is to come. Because the US public likes a conflict be as clear as day if possible clearer. And the last 20 years of conflict have been anything but.

Now contrary to his campaign agenda, instead of untangling the current military operations, this executive is pressing a case for more and he has the support of congress regardless of party — and few in congress have the courage to challenge the use of force regardless of how wise such challenge may be. Certainly minus public support.

So a show of public support is probably not a bad idea. Not for the political establishment ploy of using them as cover for agendas, already proven all but high hurdles to justify. But because they are going to need something to hand onto, if the future of conflict is as tough and murky as the past.

I think the disconnect between the military and the public is a chasm since the end of the draft and buffers challenges to foreign policy that engages military force. So a parade in such regard — might serve well — might.

While i would that the military provide wise counsel against the needless use of force, I cannot dismiss that we train a military to be the dogs of war – their sole purpose to defeat any foe at any time. The fact that they want to fight, is part and parcel to our foreign policy. In many respects that they want to go “kick . . .” and take names is healthy. but they are held to heel by my the civilians. That is how our system is structured. That the military caesar’s subject to the civilians citizen’s authority. I find it a peculiar call to scream at the men bred to fight because they want to fight and shrug a shoulder to those whose wisdom is so bereft as to allow them to run around unleashed.

It is the civilians authority that is responsible to ensure the dogs:

1. have cause to fight
2. fight the real threats
3. fight at the right time
4. cease fighting when it’s time to cease fight
it’s time to cease fighting when the civilian
authority says it is and right or wrong– if it
requires a shortening of the leash – so be it

The political class is ultimately responsible and they should be held to account – parade or no parade.

#33 Comment By John Achterhof On February 10, 2018 @ 3:30 pm

As the history of ancient Rome well illustrates, the sort of culture that promotes the vitality of a republic, with its charge of providing the conditions for flourishing of its citizens in health, economics, civics and arts, differs from the sort of culture that pairs to the aggressive character of the imperial state, born into the accumulated wealth and power of the old republic.

I’m surprised, now that I think about it, that America doesn’t already put on a grand annual military parade.

#34 Comment By Rossbach On February 10, 2018 @ 7:44 pm

Since 1945, the US has suffered 100,000 killed and many times that number wounded, all for wars of choice that contributed nothing to our national security. How about we have a funeral parade for all those guys, accompanied by a promise that there will be no more wars of choice for us.

#35 Comment By Ken T On February 10, 2018 @ 8:25 pm

Those who are talking about “honoring the military” are completely missing the point. This has nothing to do with honoring the military. This is all about the Generalissimo ordering the military to parade past his reviewing stand to salute and honor him.

#36 Comment By Furbo On February 11, 2018 @ 6:07 am

Reading this, and other pieces by the author, I’m not surprised that West Point has graduated a card carrying Communist (2LT Spencer Rapone).

The military is actually pretty good at what it’s supposed to do….kill people and break things in support of US policy goals. The 82nd took down the government of Panama in a few days. The Cold War Army whipped the Iraqi’s in a week in ’91. Some well supported SF, Rangers and indigenous forces took out the Taliban in the ‘Stan in a few months. Again, conventional military defeated the Iraqi forces and ousted Saddam Hussein in about 3 months in 03. Kill people and break things – we got that.

What the Military struggles, and often fails to do is build liberal democratic societies on the debris of medieval tribal ones. This is made more difficult by moronic policy decisions such as that of Mr. Brenner in Iraq and Sec Rumsfeld in general. In the ‘Stan this was a fools errand – saw that my first time there in 05.

If Pres. Trump wantsa parade…fine. No objections, there’s enough to celebrate. But would prefer a frank discussion on future use of the Military as an ‘Easy Button’ for the worlds ills.

#37 Comment By Dan Green On February 11, 2018 @ 3:13 pm

I have nothing but the highest admiration for our men and women in uniform. Post WW 2, always sent off to ill conceived wars with no intent to win.

#38 Comment By Dan Green On February 11, 2018 @ 3:41 pm

Enough history of post WW 2 has passed, that brings us to our super power, Paper Tiger circumstance. W should instead go with Brando’s comments in Godfather one, when he rejected a partnership with a drug lord. ” I must say no to your offer, I wish you well in your new venture, I don’t care what a man does to make a living, as long as your interest don’t conflict with mine.”

#39 Comment By out. just out. On February 11, 2018 @ 9:58 pm

If the parade consists of all the US soldiers currently fighting in the Middle East, and they will not ever be sent back there, then I am in favor of it.

I think Rand Paul said something to that effect, and if so I hope he stays on message about this kind of thing this time. Trump must be made to pay for betraying those who voted for him thinking he was going to get us the hell out of there.

#40 Comment By david On February 12, 2018 @ 5:59 am

The story is that president Trump wants to celebrate America’s participation/victory in WWI the first major neoconservative exercise of the last century. The Lusitania was Wilson’s excuse for participating but in fact the ship was carrying munitions and was a legitimate target. If we had stayed out the war would have ended in a draw, no Versailles treaty one of the worse in history, no Hitler, no Holocaust, no Iraq maybe. Celebrate this “victory”?

Mattis is easy to understand. He served in Afghanistan and does not want to see the men who died under him die for nothing. He’s basically doing his version of Vietnam looking for some version of victory he can sell to the family members of those who died and those who suffered horrendous injuries. It can not be done, there is no victory and every American who dies there now, who suffers one of those ghastly rest of their lives injuries does it for nothing. The smart move would be to just leave and leave now, but not with this administration.

#41 Comment By Wizard On February 12, 2018 @ 9:18 am

Yes, Chris Thomas “we” did choose to be in these wars. Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Niger, Somalia, any other countries where we may currently be fighting, please tell me how any of those countries credibly threatened the US, never mind attacked us.

Your contention that these wars haven’t been won because previous leadership just didn’t send enough soldiers or drop enough bombs is ludicrous. No one even seems to have a good definition for what “winning” would mean, much less any idea how to get there. Personally, I doubt they can be “won” in any meaningful sense. The best we can do is wind down our involvement and at least stop making things worse.

You’re correct that Trump didn’t get us into these wars. But, what is he doing to get us out of them? Absolutely nothing that I can see. Aside from throwing a temper tantrum (with cruise missiles) in Syria (with zero legal authority, unless I was asleep when Congress declared war on Syria) and sending more people (though not nearly enough to do any good) into harm’s way in Afghanistan…

Trump isn’t building up morale, he’s stroking his own ego. If you really want to improve morale among American service people, how about we try to stop throwing away their lives in pointless wars that do nothing to make America safer?

#42 Comment By Leslie Jacobs On February 12, 2018 @ 10:24 am

For the second time I am working my way back through all the episodes of NCIS. It is always a let-down when they thwart the plot, but the attempts come so close that it always gives hope that next time the Americans will get what they deserve.

#43 Comment By One Guy On February 12, 2018 @ 1:44 pm

“…what is he (Trump) doing to get us out of them?”

Why, he’s making promises-empty promises that his followers point to as gospel truth, until it’s obvious he doesn’t intend to keep them, at which point his followers try to change the subject to Obama or Hillary.

#44 Comment By Andrew On February 23, 2018 @ 12:47 am

If you look at the motive surrounding this tweet, it was a typical Trump dig at the Left and their constant disrespect for the military and the ever-struggling veterans. But one thing’s for sure. Whether we like it or not (I know you and me at the very least displease it) this is how an empire crumbles and the mother country falls into utter chaos, maybe not in terms of a civil war but things like moral decay, rising deficits, the continuous climb of our debt, etc. Again though, look at what he does than what he tweets. Maybe there’s an odd amount of truth in it.

#45 Comment By Richard Graham On March 27, 2018 @ 5:09 pm

Nazis nearly defeated Britain with a submarine blockade. Britain had a world-spanning commercial empire, a huge merchant shipping fleet, a first class economy and university system, their Navy, the Canadian Navy, a big part of the US Navy, and the entire North Atlantic in which to hide the ships. 
Germany went through tremendous pain with the Allied blockade. They had nearly the entire European continent, a first class industrial economy, a university system that produced Einstein and world-class chemists, and a highly trained, supremely well equipped military with the best general officer staff of the war.
Afghanistan will never have these necessary assets.They don’t have a unified political and military leadership. Their politicians are corrupt, religious bigots. They have no public allies, no economy outside of drugs and corruption. They can’t produce anything more complex than a fertilizer bomb, and only if the ingredients are supplied by the West.

After 911 NATO’s warriors had the most advanced weaponry ever seen, total air supremacy, and the whole world to call on for supplies and troops.

So if the NATO didn’t defeat the Taliban it isn’t for the lack of every political and military advantage.

It’s because NATO’s leadership is stupid.

So stupid they forgot to demand the unconditional surrender of the enemy with all weapons. So stupid that when the Taliban offered surrender, NATO decided to ignore the offer.

The soldiers sent to Afghanistan didn’t fight to avenge 911, or to bring human rights and the light of western civilization to the Afghans, or to make the world safe from terrorism. Our soldiers are ill with PTSD because they had to confront these lies in the eyes of the Afghans whose lives were destroyed.

NATO accomplished nothing lasting because NATO’s soldiers fought and destroyed, killed and died, for stupid.