Why The US Lost The Vietnam War

When one gets into a conversation about the Vietnam War there is always an armchair general that knows all there is as to why the US lost that war.

Ken Burns new documentary on the Vietnam War has given rise to more analysis of this conflict.

This is a good opportunity to discuss the War….a discussion that should have been had 40 years ago.

The U.S was not simply outfought. It was out-thought. .. For all of the self-satisfied voyeurism surrounding the Vietnam War, it’s hard to find a concrete idea about why the U.S. lost.  For more than a decade, the U.S. had declared that it would not let Vietnam fall to the communists.  Yet, Vietnam fell to the communists.  Why?The absence of a clear explanation is not an accident.  None of the institutions that led the U.S. into the War or prosecuted the War want to be tarred with having lost the War.   They would rather its loss be left ambiguous, murky.  Or worse, blamed on others.

Source: Why the US Lost the Vietnam War | By | Common Dreams

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Why War Does Not Matter

I spend most of my time trying to get people to pay attention to all the wars that we are engaged in today and the ones waiting for their number to come up…..so far I have been wasting my time (or so it seems)…..

American arr blaise towards war….they appear to not care that their neighbors kids are fighting and dying…….and for what?

After studying war for decades I have found a  list of possible reasons……

Americans don’t attend all that much to ongoing American wars because:

1. U.S. casualty rates are low. By using proxies and contractors, and relying heavily on airpower, America’s war managers have been able to keep a tight lid on the number of U.S. troops being killed and wounded.  In all of 2017, for example, a grand total of 11 American soldiers have been lost in Afghanistan — about equal to the number of shooting deaths in Chicago over the course of a typical week. True, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries where the U.S. is engaged in hostilities, whether directly or indirectly, plenty of people who are not Americans are being killed and maimed.  (The estimated number of Iraqi civilians killed this year alone exceeds 12,000.) But those casualties have next to no political salience as far as the United States is concerned.  As long as they don’t impede U.S. military operations, they literally don’t count (and generally aren’t counted).

2. The true costs of Washington’s wars go untabulated.  In a famous speech, dating from early in his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower said that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”  Dollars spent on weaponry, Ike insisted, translated directly into schools, hospitals, homes, highways, and power plants that would go unbuilt.  “This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense,” he continued.  “[I]t is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” More than six decades later, Americans have long since accommodated themselves to that cross of iron.  Many actually see it as a boon, a source of corporate profits, jobs, and, of course, campaign contributions.  As such, they avert their eyes from the opportunity costs of our never-ending wars.  The dollars expended pursuant to our post-9/11 conflicts will ultimately number in the multi-trillions.  Imagine the benefits of investing such sumsin upgrading the nation’s aging infrastructure.  Yet don’t count on Congressional leaders, other politicians, or just about anyone else to pursue that connection.

3. On matters related to war, American citizens have opted out.  Others have made the point so frequently that it’s the equivalent of hearing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at Christmastime.  Even so, it bears repeating: the American people have defined their obligation to “support the troops” in the narrowest imaginable terms, ensuring above all that such support requires absolutely no sacrifice on their part.  Members of Congress abet this civic apathy, while also taking steps to insulate themselves from responsibility.  In effect, citizens and their elected representatives in Washington agree: supporting the troops means deferring to the commander in chief, without inquiring about whether what he has the troops doing makes the slightest sense.  Yes, we set down our beers long enough to applaud those in uniform and boo those who decline to participate in mandatory rituals of patriotism.  What we don’t do is demand anything remotely approximating actual accountability.

4. Terrorism gets hyped and hyped and hyped some more. While international terrorism isn’t a trivial problem (and wasn’t for decades before 9/11), it comes nowhere close to posing an existential threat to the United States.  Indeed, other threats, notably the impact of climate change, constitute a far greater danger to the well being of Americans.  Worried about the safety of your children or grandchildren?  The opioid epidemic constitutes an infinitely greater danger than “Islamic radicalism.”  Yet having been sold a bill of goods about a “war on terror” that is essential for “keeping America safe,” mere citizens are easily persuaded that scattering U.S. troops throughout the Islamic world while dropping bombs on designated evildoers is helping win the former while guaranteeing the latter.  To question that proposition becomes tantamount to suggesting that God might not have given Moses two stone tablets after all.

5. Blather crowds out substance. When it comes to foreign policy, American public discourse is — not to put too fine a point on it — vacuous, insipid, and mindlessly repetitive.  William Safire of the New York Times once characterized American political rhetoric as BOMFOG, with those running for high office relentlessly touting the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.  Ask a politician, Republican or Democrat, to expound on this country’s role in the world, and then brace yourself for some variant of WOSFAD, as the speaker insists that it is incumbent upon the World’s Only Superpower to spread Freedom and Democracy.  Terms like leadership and indispensable are introduced, along with warnings about the dangers of isolationism and appeasement, embellished with ominous references to Munich.  Such grandiose posturing makes it unnecessary to probe too deeply into the actual origins and purposes of American wars, past or present, or assess the likelihood of ongoing wars ending in some approximation of actual success. Cheerleading displaces serious thought.

6. Besides, we’re too busy.  Think of this as a corollary to point five.  Even if the present-day American political scene included figures like Senators Robert La Follette or J. William Fulbright, who long ago warned against the dangers of militarizing U.S. policy, Americans may not retain a capacity to attend to such critiques.  Responding to the demands of the Information Age is not, it turns out, conducive to deep reflection.  We live in an era (so we are told) when frantic multitasking has become a sort of duty and when being overscheduled is almost obligatory.  Our attention span shrinks and with it our time horizon.  The matters we attend to are those that happened just hours or minutes ago.  Yet like the great solar eclipse of 2017 — hugely significant and instantly forgotten — those matters will, within another few minutes or hours, be superseded by some other development that briefly captures our attention.  As a result, a dwindling number of Americans — those not compulsively checking Facebook pages and Twitter accounts — have the time or inclination to ponder questions like: When will the Afghanistan War end?  Why has it lasted almost 16 years?  Why doesn’t the finest fighting force in history actually win?  Can’t package an answer in 140 characters or a 30-second made-for-TV sound bite?  Well, then, slowpoke, don’t expect anyone to attend to what you have to say.

7. Anyway, the next president will save us.  At regular intervals, Americans indulge in the fantasy that, if we just install the right person in the White House, all will be well.  Ambitious politicians are quick to exploit this expectation.  Presidential candidates struggle to differentiate themselves from their competitors, but all of them promise in one way or another to wipe the slate clean and Make America Great Again.  Ignoring the historical record of promises broken or unfulfilled, and presidents who turn out not to be deities but flawed human beings, Americans — members of the media above all — pretend to take all this seriously.  Campaigns become longer, more expensive, more circus-like, and ever less substantial.  One might think that the election of Donald Trump would prompt a downward revision in the exalted expectations of presidents putting things right.  Instead, especially in the anti-Trump camp, getting rid of Trump himself (Collusion!  Corruption!  Obstruction!  Impeachment!) has become the overriding imperative, with little attention given to restoring the balance intended by the framers of the Constitution.  The irony of Trump perpetuating wars that he once roundly criticized and then handing the conduct of those wars to generals devoid of ideas for ending them almost entirely escapes notice.

8. Our culturally progressive military has largely immunized itself from criticism.  As recently as the 1990s, the U.S. military establishment aligned itself with the retrograde side of the culture wars.  Who can forget the gays-in-the-military controversy that rocked Bill Clinton’s administration during his first weeks in office, as senior military leaders publicly denounced their commander-in-chief?  Those days are long gone.  Culturally, the armed forces have moved left.  Today, the services go out of their way to project an image of tolerance and a commitment to equality on all matters related to race, gender, and sexuality.  So when President Trump announced his opposition to transgendered persons serving in the armed forces, tweeting that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” senior officers politely but firmly disagreed and pushed back.  Given the ascendency of cultural issues near the top of the U.S. political agenda, the military’s embrace of diversity helps to insulate it from criticism and from being called to account for a less than sterling performance in waging wars.  Put simply, critics who in an earlier day might have blasted military leaders for their inability to bring wars to a successful conclusion hold their fire.  Having women graduate from Ranger School or command Marines in combat more than compensates for not winning.

(commondreams.org)

A collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.  But don’t expect your neighbors down the street or the editors of the New York Times to lose any sleep over that fact.  Even to notice it would require them — and us — to care.

World War I Still Haunts America

We are in the middle of remembering World War One…..the war that created the world as we know it today.

The US was Johnny Come Lately to the War, the war began in 1914 and we entered in 1917….

This is an interesting article from the Future of Freedom Foundation, a bit of a Libertarian lean to it…….

This year is the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s pulling America into World War I. Many people celebrate this centenary of America’s emergence as a world power. But at a time when the Trump administration is bombing or rattling sabers at half a dozen nations and many Democrats are clamoring to bloody Russia, it is worth reviewing how World War I turned out so much worse than the experts and politicians promised.

Wilson was narrowly reelected in 1916 on the basis of a campaign slogan, “He kept us out of war.” But Wilson had massively violated neutrality by providing armaments and money to the Allied powers that had been fighting Germany since 1914. At the same time, he had no quarrel with the British blockade that was slowly starving the German people. In his April 1917 speech to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany, he hailed the U.S. government as “one of the champions of the rights of mankind” and proclaimed that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”

Source: How World War I Still Haunts America – The Future of Freedom Foundation

The study of war is vital these days….the understanding of conflict is a necessity if we are to avoid the carnage of the world wars.

Americans are not as interested in World War One as they are World War Two…..but they should be because it was the harbinger of things to come…..and still is…….

Only A Matter Of Time

There has been so much macho banter between Trump and Kim these days that it could get damn right boring.

Between “fury and fire” to Kim’s latest, “US should be tamed with fire”….that is is only a matter of time before one of these jabs hits a nerve and some moron unleashes that which most NEVER be unleashed.

Right now the US and South Korea are having their military exercises off the Coast of the Korean Peninsula……in a show of strength and intimation toward North Korea has gotten Li’l kim’s dander up….

North Korea is once again threatening to launch missiles toward Guam, the New York Times reports. The US territory is in the crosshairs this time over a joint naval exercise being held by the US and South Korea and scheduled to start Monday in the waters around South Korea. “We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defense, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam,” says Kim Kwang-Hak, a researcher at the Institute for American Studies at the North Korea Foreign Ministry. “The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire and lets us take our hand closer to the ‘trigger.'” While the US maintains the exercise, like previous ones, is defensive, North Korea sees it as practice for an invasion.

Asked about North Korea on Friday, President Trump said, “We’re totally prepared for numerous things,” the Los Angeles Times reports. He added: “We’re going to see what happens.” A day earlier, John Kelly said North Korea’s potential ability to hit the US with missiles should concern Americans, according to CNN. “Let’s hope that diplomacy works,” the chief of staff said. Despite earlier comments, Trump also said Friday that he’s “open” to negotiation. “But if it’s going to be something other than negotiation, believe me, we are ready—moreso than we have ever been,” the president added.

People like me keep trying to bring attention to the problems that all this bluster could produce…..and the GOP seems determined that something be done…..weapons wise…..and they are gaining in support for the use of these weapons….

Even as Bob Corker, one of the most prominent members of the Republican caucus in the Senate, continues to sound the alarm about President Trump’s rhetoric about North Korea, a new poll says nearly half of his party’s voters support a preemptive strike against the country. In a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, 46% of Republican voters say they support attacking North Korea, while 41% are opposed to a preemptive strike, the Washington Post reports. Those numbers come after months of amped-up rhetoric between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Pyongyang’s nuclear testing. During a speech at the United Nations last month, Trump said the US would have no choice but to “totally destroy” North Korea “if it is forced to defend itself or its allies.”

In general, American voters oppose a preemptive strike 62% to 26%. In addition, a large majority of the country doesn’t trust Trump to handle the situation with North Korea at all, Newsweek reports. Rather, voters say, by a margin of 65% to 28%, that they have confidence in “top national security and diplomatic officials” to handle the situation. “Voters don’t have confidence in President Donald Trump to handle North Korea, but they’re hoping other members of the Trump team will step up,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, says.

Then the SecState weighs in on the situation…..

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has continued with his same public narrative on North Korea over the weekend, insisting that the US is committed to trying to solve the situation diplomatically, and will remain committed “until the first bomb drops.”

Forgive me but I was under the impression that the SecState’s job was to see that the bombs Do Not drop…..none of this rhetoric is doing anything to calm the situation (maybe that is the plan all along)….

None of this is very promising for a peaceful conclusion to all this verbal hostility…..thank goodness there are still a few that have a clear mind and are not swayed by diatribes.

We can only pray that these sane individuals will prevail.

The Problem of Collective Indifference

The US is still involved in a war they started 16+ years ago.  And since those days since we have engaged in more and more conflicts and not all are the ones we started…..it is as if if there is a war someplace then the US needs to be there.

In all this time few Americans seem to care that our people are being sent and dying….but yet they are the most “patriotic” population in the world….but in reality is the truth is they do NOT care about our countrymen are having to deal with this situation….the deadly situation.

Can anyone explain this “collective indifference” of the American people……

Consider, if you will, these two indisputable facts.  First, the United States is today more or less permanently engaged in hostilities in not one faraway place, but at least seven.  Second, the vast majority of the American people could not care less.

Nor can it be said that we don’t care because we don’t know. True, government authorities withhold certain aspects of ongoing military operations or release only details that they find convenient. Yet information describing what U.S. forces are doing (and where) is readily available, even if buried in recent months by barrages of presidential tweets.

Source: The Problem of Collective Indifference: Wars Go On and On | Alternet

What will it take for the American people to show some concern over all the war we have taken on?

Look at today……North Korea…..a month ago is all everybody could talk about….today it is the media that all talk….a year ago it was ISIS…..today we are lucky to hear the name mentioned….the American people become indifferent to the prevailing news……especially when it comes to war.

North Korea Remains Forefront Of The “War” Talk…..

I wish we could go one day without someone stepping out of the shadows and thumping their chest about the possibility of war.

The rhetoric is not going in a good direction…..even the word coming from the dark shadows of the White House are not encouraging….

A White House aide says there’s no misunderstanding what President Donald Trump means when he says “only one thing will work” to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, AP reports. Budget director Mick Mulvaney tells NBC that Trump’s “clearly telegraphing, and this should not be news to anybody,” that “military options are on the table. … They absolutely are.” Trump says years of talking to the North and providing aid haven’t worked.

But Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy wants Trump to “stop doing hurtful things to the country’s national security, like telling the North Koreans that there is no diplomatic path for them to give up nuclear weapons.” GOP Sen. Ron Johnson says “there is no viable military option. It would be horrific.” The senators were on CNN.

Of course this could be just a response to something NK has issued…..who knows for sure….it is almost impossible to keep up with the back and forth between the two regimes.

Here is where I add what the war would look like ……I just cannot let all the stupidity go on without pointing out the possible results of this insanity…..

At various times over the past few weeks, US President Donald Trump and other members of his administration have threatened to use military force to prevent North Korea from conducting additional nuclear or ballistic missile tests. The US carrying out any military option raises a significant risk of military escalation by the North, including the use of nuclear weapons against South Korea and Japan. According to the calculations presented below, if the “unthinkable” happened, nuclear detonations over Seoul and Tokyo with North Korea’s current estimated weapon yields could result in as many as 2.1 million fatalities and 7.7 million injuries.

Source: A Hypothetical Nuclear Attack on Seoul and Tokyo | RealClearDefense

No matter how “patriotic” you think you may be….it is still necessary to look at all aspects of the actions that are being considered……it involves a lot more than the firing of a couple of missiles.

Think about this…..NK is not the only nuke ordinance in the region.  Of course ther4 is Iran….but there is another that could be thrust to the forefront of the nuke situation…..Pakistan.

Could North Korea’s example form the template of future actions by Iran and Pakistan? Both states are now under renewed pressure by the United States, and may thus deem it in their interests to acquire a deterrent against the United States. There is indication that U.S. President Donald J. Trump has been looking for a way to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal for a while, a deal he has repeatedly denounced as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

Source: Could North Korea’s Example Inspire Iran and Pakistan? | The Diplomat

While NK is the focus of the situation….there are others in the shadows that could be inspired in one way or the other…..to look at this situation with blinders is just short of insanity.

Oops! Got That One Wrong!

The Pentagon has a wealth of data at their finger tips and they use it in many ways….one is to predict the outcome of any military action that the US may engage in.

These days analyst play a role as they did back in the day….but today they rely on computers for their extended predictions.  All the algorithms and such give the leaders a look at what to expect and they can plan thus.

Even as far back as 50 years ago a computer was used to predict the outcome if the Vietnam War…….

At just about the halfway point of Lynn Novick and Ken Burns’s monumental documentary on the Vietnam War, an army advisor tells an anecdote that seems to sum up the relationship between the military and computers during the mid-1960s.

“There’s the old apocryphal story that in 1967, they went to the basement of the Pentagon, when the mainframe computers took up the whole basement, and they put on the old punch cards everything you could quantify. Numbers of ships, numbers of tanks, numbers of helicopters, artillery, machine gun, ammo—everything you could quantify,” says James Willbanks, the chair of military history at U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. “They put it in the hopper and said, ‘When will we win in Vietnam?’ They went away on Friday and the thing ground away all weekend. [They] came back on Monday and there was one card in the output tray. And it said, ‘You won in 1965.’”

Source: The Computer That Predicted U.S. Would Win the Vietnam War – The Atlantic

This illustrates that no matter the amount of info that one has at their disposal…..certainty of a victory in war is a guess….at best.