For the last two decades we have been fighting wars all over the place and I have asked to what end? What are the goals intended so that we can look for the exit and bring our troops home?
A good question to ask is…what are we fighting for?
In war there is nothing more important than understanding the political objective or objectives of the combatants involved. This is the why of the war; the reasons the warring states and insurrectionist groups such as Islamic State spill blood and spend treasure. Sometimes the objective is masked by religious or ideological terms, but there is always some underlying political concern. States go war to get something they want or to preserve what they have. Carl von Clausewitz provides the keystone for analysis of all wars by reminding us that “war can be of two kinds, in the sense that either the objective is to overthrow the enemy [an unlimited aim]—to render him politically helpless or militarily impotent, thus forcing him to sign whatever peace we please; or merely to occupy some of his frontier-districts [a limited aim] so that we can annex them or use them for bargaining at the peace negotiations.” The political aim provides the basis for understanding the nature of the war being fought, something Clausewitz insists is the job of both the military and political leaders, and to which he provides a related admonition: “No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses should do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.” The last part of the passage demonstrates a key reason why understanding the political objective is so important. Everything else flows from this: “The political object—the original motive for the war—will thus determine both the military objective to be reached and the amount of effort it requires.”
Sadly our wars today have no rhyme or reason….Sadly our wars these days seem to have NO exit strategy…they began and we fight them endlessly at a waste of time, money and people.
How did it come to this with the US and war?
For the past 20 years, U.S. foreign policy has been marked by constant lies and unjustified killings, from the 1999 bombing of Serbia and the 2003 invasion of Iraq to Libyan regime change in 2011 and our role in the bloody Syrian war since 2012. What explains this unbroken record of deadly folly?
According to Ted Carpenter, author of the new book Gullible Superpower, Washington policymakers have been deceived by foreign con men who claim to adore freedom and democracy. Carpenter has a far more sagacious foreign policy record over the past 30 years than either the White House or the Washington Post editorial page. His latest work captures, in his own words, “the lengthy, depressing record of U.S. support for bogus freedom fighters and democratic activists.”
Idiocy or Perfidy? How We Get Hooked on Foreign Democracy Crusades
When will we exit these wars…and why is it so damn haed to end them?
Ending a military intervention is hard. It’s certainly harder than starting one. Every modern American president has learned this lesson, with President Donald Trump being only the most recent, with his attempted departure from Syria and scrapped exit from Afghanistan. After announcing that he wanted U.S. forces to make way for a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, bipartisan outraged ensued. A common critique was that — setting aside the wisdom of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria — the shift in policy was impulsive. In other words, there was no clear strategy.
That exit strategies are necessary before committing troops abroad has become an accepted truism among many people who think and write about strategy. It seems only logical to think troops should not be sent to fight wars before knowing how, when, and under what conditions they will be withdrawn. If there is no viable exit strategy in place, the United States could easily repeat the same mistake again, finding itself mired in yet another seemingly endless war with no way out.
When Are Exit Strategies Viable?
An opposing view of the above article …..
The best way to ensure a speedy exit from a war is to have never intervened in the first place. The second-best option is to have an exit strategy. If you have decided to roll the dice in the most complex, destructive, and uncertain activity humans can engage in, one would think having a plan to successfully end that conflict would be more than an afterthought. The past 70 years, in particular, have provided tragically few examples — Vietnam, Afghanistan, and now Syria — of exit strategies actually being contemplated before the war begins.
I disagree. While Kampf makes some good points — he laudably emphasizes the importance of defining political objectives before developing a military strategy to achieve them — his article ultimately contains several fatal mistakes. First, it misunderstands the strategic process. Strategy is vital for every phase of conflict, despite vast uncertainty that limits our ability to know what the future battlefield will look like. Next, after arguing that leaders should wait for the right conditions to emerge before planning withdrawals, Kampf doesn’t define those conditions. What are those conditions, exactly, and is it reasonable to expect them to emerge?
The Lost Art of Exiting a War
To me a clear plan of objectives and when they are met we pull our troops and declare it a success…..declaring a victory these days is not a good idea….war has changed so much since WW2 and Korea…..a success is the best we will be able to achieve.
The time to find the exit is now….the sooner the better…..
I Read, I Wrote, You Know
“Lego Ergo Scribo”