Why has the United States lost the last three major wars?
Why has the United States lost the last three major wars?
Anonim

The author reflects on an article written in the National Review by his colleague, a participant in the major wars of the United States of the 20th century. Why was the United States, a militarily powerful country, expelled from Iraq and losing ground in Afghanistan? The author blames the politicians and gives the reasons for their defeats. It turns out that the last four presidents of the United States were simply "cut off" from service and war. Bill Clinton is stuck in the Army Reserve Officer Training Service. George W. Bush managed to get into the National Guard Air Force through a pull when it was announced that such reservists would not go to Vietnam. Young Trump was diagnosed by a family doctor with a bone spur (Trump himself does not remember which leg hurt). And Joe Biden claimed that he did not get into the army because of asthma, although he brags about his athletic success as a student …

In a National Review article entitled "Three Wars, No Victories - Why?" my former colleague at the Pentagon and Naval College Bing West convincingly shows why the United States, the world's most powerful country, has lost three major wars over the past half century: Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Bing attributes the defeat to three reasons: the actions of the military, the actions of politicians, and the mood in society. He correctly notes that the main blame for the defeats lies with politicians.

I am a little familiar with each of these conflicts, because I served in Vietnam, three times in Iraq and one time in Afghanistan. But all this is incomparable with the experience of Bing, whom I consider one of the bravest people I know. However, it seems to me that he paints an at times incomplete and misleading picture of the reasons for our defeats in three wars.

For example, analyzing the Vietnam catastrophe, he ignores the fact that we fought this war on a far-fetched occasion. President Johnson received congressional permission in 1964 to launch a massive military escalation in Vietnam in response to an alleged North Vietnamese attack on an American ship in the Gulf of Tonkin.

But even before the congressional investigation, it was crystal clear to any seasoned naval officer that the administration's allegations were lies. I remember the words of my commander who flew combat missions during World War II and the Korean War. He told us that there were no attacks in the form in which they were talked about. This was also confirmed by Vice Admiral James Stockdale, who was our boss at the military college with Byng and received the Medal of Honor for bravery during the Vietnam War, where he was taken prisoner.

He was at that time just in the area of ​​the Gulf of Tonkin. The same was said by a naval officer who convinced Oregon Democratic Senator Wayne Morris to vote against the Tonkin Resolution (there were only two such senators, and both lost in the next election). When the lie became known, anti-war sentiment increased in American society.

Another reason for our failure in Vietnam is that it was impossible to win this war at all. Bing argues that we were doomed to defeat in that war by a weak military strategy from 1965 to 1968, and incorrect political decisions and public attitudes. Yes, these factors played a role, but in truth, they only reinforced the already existing reality.

And everything became clear to me in 1966, when my comrades and I got lost, returning from a meeting with officers of the crews of patrol boats in the northern part of Cameron Bay in South Vietnam. While wandering in search of a road to the base, we came across a Catholic monastery.

The priest came out, showed us the way and fed us.But when we were leaving, one of the monks asked me in French (I learned this language at school) why we hope that in Vietnam we will do better than the French. President Eisenhower understood the situation when he refused to bail out the French in Dien Bien Phu in 1954, although most of his national security advisers, including then Vice President Nixon and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Redford, encouraged him to do so.

However, the chief of staff of the ground forces, General Matthew Ridgway, who prevented us from being defeated in Korea, convinced Eisenhower not to interfere, since he, like the monk who spoke to me, believed that it was impossible to defeat the Vietnamese.

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Likewise, most Americans were opposed to the Vietnam War, not only because of the call Bing rightly points out, but because the privileged people were able to avoid the call, and the lower class bore the main burden of the war. For example, the last four presidents who could have served in Vietnam dodged that war and conscription in dubious ways.

Bill Clinton pretended to join the Army Reserve Officer Training Service. George W. Bush took advantage of his political connections to get into the National Guard Air Force when President Johnson announced that the reserve forces would not participate in the fighting. Donald Trump's family doctor, of course, diagnosed osteophyte (bone spur) (Trump himself does not remember which leg hurt). And Joe Biden argued that the asthma he received while studying at the university prevented him from serving in the army, although he bragged about his athletic achievements as a student.

In analyzing the reasons why we failed to win in Iraq, Byng ignores the fact that the Bush administration has gotten involved in the war, falsely claiming that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, in criticizing the Obama administration for withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2011, Bing ignores the fact that Obama had no choice. He did this because in 2008 the Iraqi government, which he helped bring to power, made it clear that it would not sign an agreement on the status of the troops unless we agree to their complete withdrawal by the end of 2011.

I saw this firsthand when I worked at Obama's campaign headquarters and in the summer of 2008 met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. When I asked him about the withdrawal agreement, he said that this requirement was not negotiable. When I told this to Denis McDonough, who worked at Obama's headquarters, and then headed his apparatus, he was surprised and asked if I was sure of what I had heard.

During my visit to Iraq in 2009, I raised this issue in conversations with some leaders from parliament and the executive branch, and received the same answer. In December 2011, when Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki came to Washington to close the deal, I, Obama's first national security adviser David Jones and future Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with him. … I asked him directly if President Obama could do something to keep the troops in Iraq. He basically said that Bush had made an agreement and the US should stick to it. At that meeting, Jones said that Obama wants to keep 10,000 troops.

Bing also ignores the fact that the Bush administration has never publicly or privately thanked Iran for its help in Afghanistan, but has openly criticized Iran. I've seen it personally. On September 11, I worked in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations. After the terrorist attacks, the Iranian UN representative invited me to dinner and asked me to convey to the US government that Iran is disgusted with the Taliban (members of a terrorist organization banned in Russia - ed.), And therefore is ready to help us in Afghanistan.

I passed this on to the Bush administration. The Bush spokesman for the Bonn Conference (December 2001), where the Karzai government was created, told me that the Bush administration would not have succeeded without the Iranians. And what did Iran receive as a reward? In early 2002, Bush included this country in the axis of evil. Since then, Iran has not played any positive role in the region, and this is still poorly said.

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Finally, analyzing the events in Afghanistan, Byng correctly points out that our military could not in any way transform this country. However, he mistakenly claims that we should have stayed there indefinitely to avoid harm to our reputation. Many participants in this 20-year war believe that irreparable damage has already been done to our reputation, and they want us to get out of there before this damage grows even worse. The logic of sunk costs does not apply here.

How bad will it be if we leave on May 1 in accordance with Trump's agreement, and the Taliban come to power (members of a terrorist organization banned in Russia - ed.)? In particular, how bad would it be for Afghan women? When I arrived in Afghanistan in 2011, I asked one of the representatives of the Taliban (an organization banned in Russia - ed.) How they would treat women if or when they came to power. He told me not to worry - they would treat them as well as our allies, the Saudis.

Byng's article should be read by those who believe that the United States can develop and maintain democracies through the use of military force. But they need to keep in mind that there are other factors that could influence such a decision.

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