A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
"Speak softly and carry a big stick." Those words are attributed to US President Theodore Roosevelt. It was, as it turns out, a fairly effective policy for Teddy, and it would seem, for the US for many decades. Then we let our guard down and Pearl Harbor went up in flames with well over two thousand Americans killed in a Japanese sneak attack on a beautiful Sunday morning in December of 1941.
For six months after American took up arms to fight the Japanese, US forces lost battle after battle, conflict after conflict, piling up the bodies of dead patriotic Americans who, for the most part, voluntarily made the ultimate sacrifice.
America's big stick had been allowed to shrink because, as our national legislature came to believe, there were things far more important that national defense. They were wrong then, and as we shall see, they are wrong now.
Eventually, we won that war with both the Japanese and the Germans. But the price was far higher in lives of American soldiers than it should have been, and would have been -- had the United States been prepared.
You would have thought the US government would have learned it's lesson. You would have been wrong. As soon as the victory celebrations were spent, the trash swept away, the red, white, and blue bunting taken down and placed in storage, we immediately began cutting our military forces -- both in man power and in materiel for war-fighting.
In less than five years the US was at war again. This time in a place called Korea.
Again, American troops, many green, many Reservists and National Guardsmen. were chewed-up by the enemy because the US was not prepared. We didn't have the troops. Worse, the troops we DID have were not properly trained -- and -- we didn't have the war-fighting materiel necessary to go to war and expect victory.
We did not win the Korean War. At best, it ended in a tie. To this day, the US maintains some 30,000 to 40,000 combat troops on the border between North and South Korea to help insure the "ceasefire" holds. Technically, we are still at war on the Korean peninsula.
Before the decade of the 1950's was finished, I, myself, was in the US Army. Every so often we would hear of a place called Vietnam. Nobody, it seems, knew where the heck that place was. We heard rumors of "special" troops, Rangers mostly, being trained in the jungles of Central and South America to be sent to that "place" as advisors to the military forces of that country's dictator. In another five years the name Vietnam was on practically every Americans lips. The US lost some 58,000 young Americans in the steaming jungles of that place -- and we didn't win there either. We just threw up our hands and walked away in disgust. Combat troops came home telling stories about rules of engagement that would not allow them to win the war. In fact, America won every battle -- and still lost that war.
Besides the little "brush fire conflicts" we managed to stay out of a major war until our little incursion into Kuwait in the early 1990's to liberate that tiny desert country from the forces of a Middle Eastern nut case, Saddam Hussein. This time we HAD the highly trained manpower and the materiel and it took us about a week to win that conflict -- decisively. But, we stopped too soon.
In September of 2001, the US was attacked by Islamofascists and we were off to war in a place called Afghanistan, which, by the way, is next door to Iraq.
Instead of going in and cleaning out the terrorists in Afghanistan, then pulling out, our government decided to stay and build a new democratic nation in Afghanistan. DUMB mistake!
Then Hussein, next door in Iraq, began kicking up his heels and making hegemonic utterances again, so the US military was directed to invade and topple his government and liberate Iraq -- all while trying to root out terrorists in Afghanistan and build a new democratic country there.
America found itself fighting those two wars simultaneously. Turned out we could do that, just as we had claimed. It also became clear that we absolutely sucked at nation building.
The US government decided to use the military as ambassadors rather than soldiers in that program of "nation building." It was, for liberal's, equivalent to a paroxysm of ecstasy. Soon nation building was in full bloom in both Iraq and Afghanistan and -- nation building proved fatal to our war efforts in both countries.
Again, we simply walked out of Iraq, our nation building an abject failure and we are currently headed toward the same exit strategy in Afghanistan. Both countries will soon return to their former "hell hole" conditions. Of course, the official accounting of how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ended will not reflect the failure of nation building, nevertheless, the truth is right before our eyes.
Already, Iraq is slipping right back into the cesspool it was before we yanked their dictator out of a hole in the ground and hung him, and Afghanistan, well, let us just say that Afghanistan is showing so signs of conversion to anything approaching a democratic form of government. In all likelihood, the US will throw up it's hands, again, and walk out of Afghanistan in 2014 -- in failure. Even today the Taliban is reasserting itself and the government of that country, such as it is, will fall within hours of the exit of US forces.
The problem is as clear as day: Our government does not have the will to use the "big stick." That's problem one. Problem two is that program from hell -- nation building.
The military is for destroying nations -- not building nations. The conflict between the two is blindingly brilliant, and yet, our leaders, most of whom have never spent a day in uniform, can't see it.
We are sending our troops into meat grinders because the civilian government of the US will not allow them to do their jobs and destroy the enemy as quickly and efficiently as possible, declare victory, and leave the former enemy sitting on a pile of rubble that used to be his country. Fixing it should be HIS problem -- not ours!
There MUST be a price to pay for attacking the United States. There must be a price to pay for bringing the might of the US military down on your country. As it is, these days, war with the US is turning out to be a form of "urban renewal" with US troops and US taxpayers footing the bill.
While our troops are busy trying to prop-up the government of Afghanistan the US is nearing completion of a massive build-up of military forces just off shore of Iran. A Middle Eastern regional war is just a button push away. It could come at any moment.
Look. Fighting wars in the Middle East is akin to playing "catch" with a tar ball. Once you pick up the ball, you can never drop it again.
Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States said: “We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.” As it turned out, a celestial commission was not needed and America got the job by default.
There are times when the nation upon whose shoulders the burden of global sheriff has fallen, finds it must wield the "big stick." When those moments come, and they seem to be rolling around far more often than they have in the past, it is incumbent upon the US to have a formidably "large cudgel" to wield.
Today the US military is engaged, in one way or the other, in at least 100 countries around the globe. We have seen, within the past three and a half years, what happens when the US attempts to withdraw from it's role as global police. Large portions of the world go up in flames that threaten the entire globe.
Now. Let's talk insanity. With all this ongoing, our government is set to gut the US military to the tune of five hundred billion dollars over the next decade, or so. That figure will be added to cuts approved earlier.
With sequestration set to take effect beginning the first of the year (January 2nd, 2013) the US is looking at the expectation of a hollowed out military unlike anything this country has experienced since before World War Two. If this were medieval times we'd be lowering America's draw bridge, draining the moat, and throwing open the gates of the city. Yes, it's THAT bad.
Look. It is a simple equation: Pay for war in piles of money, or pay for war in piles of dead Americans. Stark -- but true.
For all the reasons above, and far more, Congress should de-trigger sequestration immediately.
J. D. Longstreet
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