Why can’t the United States win wars any more?

If you are attempting the impossible you will fail.
         ==One of the Ten Truths of Management

If a problem cannot be solved, it may not be a problem, but a fact.
         ==One of Donald Rumsfeld’s Rules

The United States of America has the world’s largest military and spends many times more on our military than any other nation.  Yet our military interventions mostly fail.  As the old expression goes, we can’t win for losing.  Why is that?

The industrial might of the United States provided the superior firepower that brought victory in the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Indians wars, the Spanish-American War, World War One and World War Two.

I don’t question the valor of American troops, but fighters on the other sides were brave, too.  It was firepower that provided the margin of victory.

militarytechnologyAmerican firepower and industrial might enabled the United States to defend the independence of South Korea as well.   I remember that Americans in that era were angry that the Korean Conflict did not end more decisively than it did.  But if we had succeeded in preserving South Vietnam as an independent country as we did South Korea, we would have counted it as victory.

Air power and firepower give U.S. forces the power to reduce any nation to anarchy and rubble, as was done most recently to Libya.

But I don’t think destruction was not the goal.   The goal was to install a government that would serve U.S. interests.  What the United States is doing today is like British and French trying to preserve their empires in the 1950s and 1960s.   The U.S. government is equally unsuccessful and for the same reasons.

The editor of a blog called Sic Semper Tyrannis argued, in an article to which I link below, pointed out that no army will fight well for a foreign puppet, and this is precisely what Washington expects the Iraqi army to do.   It is possible to tip the balance in a civil conflict by aiding one side, but if that side is truly independent, it will not necessarily do what Washington wants.

Meanwhile the United States is gradually losing the industrial and technological edge which is the basis of U.S. power to project military strength.  This will not end well.


Why we lose so many wars and how we can win by the editor of Sic Semper Tyrannis for Martin van Creveld’s web log.

Why Has America Stopped Winning Wars? by Dominic Tierney for The Atlantic.

My Reaction to Tierney’s Article in The Atlantic by the editor of Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Delusionary Thinking in Washington by Michael T. Klare for the Unz Review.

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2 Responses to “Why can’t the United States win wars any more?”

  1. Jay Says:

    It depends. The Korean War worked, after a fashion. Partly that was because the North Korean leadership is very controlling, and just couldn’t fight an insurgency. Partly that was because the Chinese tend to fight enough to make their point, then go home (see also the Chinese wars with India and Vietnam). But partly it was because the South Koreans apparently preferred our regime to the regime in the North. The fact that Korea had recently been harshly colonized by Japan and semi-liberated by us probably had much to do with it.


  2. tiffany267 Says:

    This is assuming that the U.S. actually wants to “win” its wars… to “win” its wars though would mean that it would be time to restore civil liberties, stop funding the Pentagon and intelligence agencies so strongly and providing them ways to spy on and abuse citizens of the U.S. and other countries… not to mention disappointment from the private contractors collaborating with the military.

    I just don’t think the government cares about “winning” any traditional wars right now. Perpetual war = perpetual excuses for demanding more power.


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