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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Right rhetoric

Consider a few of the following reactions to Martin van Creveld's article entitled "Pussycats" yesterday:
  • Mr. Van Creveld vastly misstates the issue. In none of the conflicts he lists have the soldiers on the ground suffered anything but the most glancing and isolated defeats. I've been there, I've seen what it looks like when western soldiers fight third-world tribesmen. It's not pretty. And it is precisely the level of training which overrides the natural impulse to protect oneself that makes us so effective. When ambushed, you walk straight into it. Sounds daft until you see it in action. Face in, plates in front, front sight post up, and you walk in shooting. They can't match our discipline, our equipment nor our skills. In every skirmish I was ever in, the iraqis or the afghans would hang their AKs out over the wall, empty the mag blind, and then run for the hills or curl up in a ball.Van Creveld mistakes or misstates the fact that it is the political leadership (officer corps included) which "loses" these wars after the soldiers win every objective. Or else the retards back home set ridiculous non-military objectives.
  • I call bullshit. If Western Forces have been unable to win since Clinton was in office because our troops have been personally unwilling to fight, our enemies would have trumpeted our mutinies, routs, desertions and cowardice in battle. Extravagent assertions for which the proponents admit there is no empirical evidence inspire no credibility.
  • There is no other reasonable interpretation of van c's words and he's dead fucking wrong. If it is a language barrier or translation problem, he should fix it or find a competent interpreter. Otherwise, perhaps the strategist should stick to writing about strategy.
  • The most charitable explanation for van c's hissy fit that I can see is either Vox's interpretation that he's really talking about the lack of political will to prosecute the war in a manner calculated to win along with a corresponding lack of will among the flag ranks (and possibly field grades) to take risks or he's simply projecting an end game level of morale onto the troops. Yet words have meaning and I cannot fully reconcile van c's words with either of those interpretations. Nor am I willing to accept a, shall we say calvinistic, position of "that's what he said, but what he really meant was..."
What I found amusing about reading these attempted criticisms is that they are all examples of the right behaving in a rhetorical manner similar to that of the left's customary form of response. They might appear to be based on dialectic, but they're not. They are primarily emotional responses written in instinctive reaction to trigger words. It's easy to identify when someone who is normally capable of dialectic descends to rhetoric out of emotional distress because they suddenly become dishonest; van Creveld may be wrong, but there is absolutely no way the article can reasonably be described as a "hissy fit". Or for nonsensical claims, such as the idea that assertions the proponents have not made have anything to do with the credibility of the author or the article.

As for the appeal to personal experience, that's not invalid, it's just irrelevant. As strategists have noted going back to Maurice at the very least, one cannot judge Eastern military performances by Western standards. Shoot-and-scoot is their conventional tactic and it's no more indicative of individual cowardice than the West's convention of everyone dutifully lining up and bashing into each other is indicative of individual stupidity.

Furthermore, there is considerable evidence that the Western militaries are psychologically weaker and less willing to fight than they once were that don't rely upon what is going to be dismissed as enemy propaganda anyhow. Look at pregnancy and suicide rates, for example:
  • A study published in February in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that about 11 percent of active-duty women ages 18 to 44, from all branches of the military, said they had had an unplanned pregnancy within the past year.... according to a 2010 survey, two of every three enlisted female sailors became pregnant during their tenure in the Navy.
  • Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and other elite troops from the military’s secretive Special Operations community are also killing themselves at record rates. Our all-volunteer military reflects the society in which its soldiers were raised, and any problem that affects the country also affects those troops. Suicide is one of those problems. Indeed, troops who take their own lives have often been heavy drinkers or suffered from mental health issues such as bipolar disorder — the same factors linked to suicide in the civilian world. Although the military suicide rate recently eclipsed the rate among civilians of similar age and background, the civilian rate has also soared.
As to some of the other suggested metrics, there is good reason to doubt that the US military is entirely reliable when it comes to reporting anything that might be considered to reflect badly upon it.
  • Thousands of U.S. service members are believed to have deserted their units during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Bergdahl’s case is uncommon because he allegedly did so while on the battlefield. Some have escaped while in the United States and remain beyond the reach of the military in Canada, parts of Europe and other locations.... Many of those in his unit have been waiting years to see the Army acknowledge potential wrongdoing by Bergdahl, said Nathan B. Bethea, 30, a former Army captain in New York who was deployed with Bergdahl’s battalion when he went missing. “I think they’re pleased because this comes as a surprise,” Bethea said of the overall reaction. “I think that, given how long this has taken, it comes as a shock. The Army never made a statement on what happened. There was always just obfuscation and smoke and mirrors.”
However, there is an important difference between the left's emotional rhetoric and the right's. And that is the right's ability to return to the dialectical level after the initial emotional reaction dies down. One of the above-quoted authors subsequently commented:
  • "I retract my criticism of van c. The "man for man" comments most likely translate poorly given the fact that he correctly diagnoses the problem and places blame squarely where it belongs for failures of western militaries. I engaged in a knee jerk reaction even though I know better. Mea culpa."
I can only applaud the gentleman's ability to re-read, rethink and recant. This is the hallmark of one capable of surmounting the rhetoric; Aristotle would observe that he has a mind capable of being changed by information. I suggest that in the future, it will be useful for him, and others, to understand that this kneejerk instinct to react emotionally  and descend into the rhetorical when the bravery or efficacy of the American soldier is called into question exists.

Now, the thing to keep in mind that we all have triggers that will cause us to respond rhetorically rather than in a dialectical manner. And while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with rhetorical responses, they are inappropriate responses to dialectic, especially when they are presented as dialectic. Here are some clues that your emotions have been sufficiently triggered to cause your response to be pseudo-dialectical rhetoric.
  1. You use passive-aggressive language or launch passive-aggressive attacks.
  2. You incorrectly characterize what you are criticizing.
  3. You use loaded words or unnecessary vulgarities.
  4. You utilize dismissive language or strike a dismissive pose without providing any justification for it.
  5. You ignore any and all evidence of alternative explanations.
  6. You rely upon a pedantic exegesis of a very small part of the text.
  7. You offer justifications that are nonsensical.
  8. You attack the character or competence of the author.
If you find yourself doing any of those things, that is a sign that you need to step back, re-read, and reconsider. You may well be right, but I suggest the chances are that you're not.

Labels:

159 Comments:

Blogger W.LindsayWheeler April 01, 2015 5:51 AM  

I was with 1/8 Marines on a Med float that did training with Saudi's in three landings on Saudi's coast after the Persian Gulf War.

I was in radio and we are responsible for setting up 292 antennas. It is a three man job, but it also if need be done by two. Regs state that it had to be up in 15 min. We could do that all day, everyday.

I watched the Saudi's put up their's. It took 15 men, three hours. Actually, it wasn't Saudi's. "Being Army" in Saudi Arabia is beneath the Saudi. The Ground troops in Saudi Arabia were Bedouin. I thought then and I still do today, that these people couldn't fight themselves out of wet toilet paper.

I haven't read Van Crevald's work so I will not comment on this controversy but from what I remember from the Vietnam War, is that the American Soldier acquitted himself well in the War. The Vietnam War WAS won. We lost the war due to Walter Cronkite and the leftist backstabbers in America.

We, us Soldiers, have won all the wars on the ground. We have been betrayed at every war by our political and cultural elite. White Americans are mostly Germanic. Germans have always been great fighters.

Anonymous Bohm April 01, 2015 6:05 AM  

So long as western troops keep invading far-away countries for obviously spurious reasons they will encounter adversaries more motivated than themselves. It stands to reason.

If the US itself faced invasion, I dare say US troops would achieve supreme effectiveness. Soldiers fighting for their homes and families are highly motivated, obviously, and I dare say far less prone to all that depression, suicide, alcoholism etc.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 6:12 AM  

Sometimes there's no substitute for time. I write something today that makes calm, clear sense, but I look at it the next day and think: "I was too angry when I wrote that!"

Anonymous Giuseppe April 01, 2015 6:23 AM  

Very succint and educational post on rhethoric and dialectic discourse. It is this type of post that originally got me to read and appreciate this blog. Thanks Vox

Anonymous Luke April 01, 2015 6:25 AM  

"As strategists have noted going back to Maurice at the very least, one cannot judge Eastern military performances by Western standards. Shoot-and-scoot is their conventional tactic and it's no more indicative of cowardice than the West's convention of everyone dutifully lining up and bashing into each other is indicative of stupidity."

Minor nit to pick here. My understanding is that, unlike in the days of Philip of Macedon, Alexander, the battle of Platea, etc., that European infantry lines in the 1700s to the U.S. Civil war rarely actually collided as intact lines. Rather, the men in either the attacking or defending line decided as a group that the opposing line wasn't going to back off or fall apart first, and so they did.

Anonymous fish April 01, 2015 6:47 AM  

OT: Denninger punches out!

http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=229974

Blogger Mr.MantraMan April 01, 2015 7:02 AM  

Rhetoric is all they have because propaganda is all they have read. Dime a dozen posts by conservatives who absolutely refuse to leave the year 1945.

Anonymous NateM April 01, 2015 7:03 AM  

The mistake the critics make is forgetting that Not Losing =! Winning. Sure these ambush attacks don't result in resounding Wins for the insurgents, but they don't lose anything either, since they weren't holding the territory to begin with, and they have the same territory to maneuver in after. If anything they have MORE room to maneuver because attacks on these OP's, FOBs etc cause the US forces to turtle up more and be hesitant to go out except in force in a planned operation, and because of the scale of those operations, it's critically easy for the insurgents to see it coming and either 1) steer clear or 2) ambush on a greater scale. So if the US Forces stay more immobile, the insurgents gain more territory to move in, if we get annoyed and commit more forces, they get to do more damage.

As for the insurgents shooting and running or 'curling up', that's no doubt because they know in the US Rules of Engagement, if they come out shooting, then drop their weapons and run or give up, they can't be shot. I'm sure they get no end of amusement from that, given their experience in Intra-arab fighting.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2015 April 01, 2015 7:05 AM  

All rhetoric, dialectic, logic spins on axioms. Shoot the weak axiom down in flames, wins the argument.
All these words, but what is the objective? What ground are you trying to hold? The USA, Europe, West, is unrecognizable now to anyone stepping into it from the 19 century and the shock is not the technology.. In 120 years has anything been successfully defended? I mean anything? What hasn't decayed, morphed, approximately disintegrated?

Blogger bob k. mando April 01, 2015 7:19 AM  

A study published in February in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that about 11 percent of active-duty women ages 18 to 44, from all branches of the military, said they had had an unplanned pregnancy within the past year


to be fair, mixing women into the general combat force fairly necessitates that the overall moral and 'courage' of the that force will drop.

simply due to women being significantly more risk averse ( to physical danger, they do love those sexy, sexy dangerous men ) than men are.

this will manifest in a whole host of behaviors and actions ( oops, pregnant again! ), many not so obvious or easily classifiable.

Blogger bob k. mando April 01, 2015 7:20 AM  

"morale"

Anonymous Sensei April 01, 2015 7:24 AM  

In 120 years has anything been successfully defended? I mean anything? What hasn't decayed, morphed, approximately disintegrated?

Tragically, this is a valid point. What the troops protect is in a far worse state than the troops themselves.

On the other hand, “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (Rom 11:4, referencing 1 Kings 19) There's always a remnant worth fighting to preserve.

Which won't stay preserved if your fighters can't win.

Anonymous Stingray April 01, 2015 7:29 AM  

Just to help me understand, points 1-8 above, when intentionally using rhetoric to face rhetoric, these are useful tools? I gave an intentional rhetorical argument a try last week at Alpha Game and I felt . . . wrong. It's not as easy to pull off as I hoped it would be.

Anonymous Barnabas April 01, 2015 7:34 AM  

No, those aren't all emotional bullshit. Example 1 in particular is a perfectly rational argument with a lot of support in data from troop engagements. Blowing it off instead of engaging is weak.

Anonymous Barnabas April 01, 2015 7:40 AM  

As the crusaders found out, maintaining garrison states in the midst of a hostile populace is very costly. The quality of the troops has nothing to do with that. I'm not saying that most of the US military isn't a huge welfare regime but there is a lot of ruin in the actual fighting units.

Anonymous Old Man in a Villa April 01, 2015 7:43 AM  

I'm a veteran of an elite (by current standards) military unit that has been through several deployments. I have been out for a while but retain ties to those still serving and have younger family members in equally elite units and when we get together we discuss the state of the military in detail. What I offer is anecdotal based on that qualification, but I think it holds water for the purpose of this discussion.

Tactics are not the same thing as a strategy. Tactically I would put our best troops, i.e. Airborne Infantry, Rangers, Force Recon on par with any military unit in history. They are predominantly White, 100% male, overwhelmingly alpha, right hand side of the bell curve and eqipped and trained to such a degree that most of their actions are automatic. The screening procedure for getting rid of dead weight is pretty damn effective and the training for NCO's is superb. Support systems are filled with the same, artillery, spotters, 11-C, close air support, medevacs, etc.

The problem, ala Restrepo, is that politically we are not waging wars, we are engaged in open ended occupations and police actions that the above mentioned troop units are not designed for. Can they do it? Absolutely. Should they have to? Of course not. I'm sure that most EMT's woukd be able to pitch in at fire fighting, but they aren't designed for that and we don't expect them to.

Van Creveld despite his Dutch surname is an Israeli military historian and a damn fine one, but like most Israeli's sees the world through a specific lens. The smaller your perimeter, the more your tactics becomes your strategy and most Israelis suffer from this kind of myopia.

American forces are hamstrung by the disconnect between the stated mission and the reality of the actual deployment. When people hear the President say, for example, that we've left Iraq, they assume that we no longer occupy that country in military terms, maybe we have an embassy or something and that's the reality. The fact is that Iraq is never going to be returned to Iraqis, their military will nebver be able to resume it's function as intended and just because we call people "contractors" doesn't mean they're over there building additions on Shiite homes.

We don't lose engagements on the ground in this era because we have overwhelming superiority of forces and logistics as well as the ability to "nuke 'em from orbit" should it ever go the wrong way. We are losing the empire however for a wide variety of reasons that aren't applicable to this discussion and I think the guy who takes on Van C is right, if rhetorically over the top.

We aren't losing because of our military and this isn't Viet Nam. We do behave like the British Army during the War of Independence in that we get bent out of shape when the other side goes all assymetrical on our asses and that's where the commenter got caught in his stirrups. I don't believe Van C was bashing the grunts or blaming them and I don't think that the enemies of empire want to face a battalion of Rangers in a one on one gun battle.

Both of them are a little bit wrong, but both are mostly spot on in their analysis.

my 2 cents

OpenID cailcorishev April 01, 2015 7:44 AM  

The mistake the critics make is forgetting that Not Losing =! Winning.

Right. Sure, individual soldiers and units may still be superior to the enemy (despite the feminization and dumbing-down) and able to accomplish whatever military objective you give them. That just has very little to do with whether they can achieve "victory" in faraway lands that are more of a psychological threat than physical.

It's as if someone says, "I need to lose weight, so I'm eating nothing but diet food and exercising three hours a day. Congratulate me!" Well, that's great, but if you're not actually losing the pounds, it's irrelevant. We aren't sending troops to these places to take hills and hold territory; we're sending them there to make friends (or at least grateful allies) for us. They can't do that, so they can't "win."

OpenID simplytimothy April 01, 2015 8:02 AM  

A right-thinking man will (more likely) be triggered into a rhetorical response by [X]
An SJW man will (more likely) be triggered into a rhetorical response by [Y]

From this post, X appears to be an attack on honor or competence.
I have a head-cold, so pondering Y is beyond me at the moment.

I mention this, because it could be a useful tool in taking the measure of somebodies character.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 8:02 AM  

I agree with the overall point regarding rhetoric vs dialectic, I don't agree that example one is rhetoric. Anecodtal, but not rhotorical.

Haven't read Van Creveld, so I won't comment in detail on his thesis except to say that these wars have been lost on the political / moral level rather than the military level. I say this as someone frustrated that, once the decisions have been made and the switch has been flipped, that we do NOT secure victory upon a mountain of skulls if need be. We seldom lose battles but often lose wars for that reason.

For all of the faults of the U.S. military it remains at or near the top of the heap in terms of potential and real effectiveness, though I am a firm believer in the old saw: It's not because they are so much better than everyone else, its is because everyone else is so much MORE screwed up than they are.

Anonymous Barnabas April 01, 2015 8:04 AM  

Van Creveld's thesis appears to be that the weakness in objectives in the overall conflict has enervated the men to the point that they are beaten in particular engagements by 3rd worlders. He really doesn't give any evidence to support that and I think that he doesn't understand the motivations of men in combat or else he's letting his political ax grinding get the best of him. His piece is mid-level blog quality and I can't see committing to read his book if this indicates his level of talent.

Anonymous Dirtnapninja April 01, 2015 8:05 AM  

A society in which the demographic is older, the culture feminised and families are small isn't going to be willing to take the risks needed to pursue imperial ventures. For that you need lots of testosterone and a young population with lots of young men.

Blogger Student in Blue April 01, 2015 8:06 AM  

If you find yourself doing any of those things, that is a sign that you need to step back, re-read, and reconsider.

It's a guilty pleasure of mine to pull out these methods of attack when I'm either A) just joking around or B) believe I'm conversing with someone who only operates on that level.

It's been my belief that using their own warped logic and method of argument against them (essentially black knighting) is possibly the best way to get them in a tizzy and possibly start regretting ever using such shoddy logic.

Is this still an acceptable use of such, or should it never be used?

Anonymous Tom April 01, 2015 8:08 AM  

I used to have a terrible temper as a little kid and still do in certain situations. Even though I've trained myself out of acting on that anger in most situations, there are still certain people (usually the most dear to me of course) who can get me to the rhetorical stage as VD puts it almost instantly.

The weirdest thing about it is that I'm very aware that I'm going there, that I don't really want to go there, but still, some sort of rage demon is fed by that rising fire and I will go rushing head long into the name calling and ridiculous verbal fisticuffs.

That place was of great benefit when I played football, sometimes when I lift weights, and no place else in civilized life. Sigh.

Blogger CM April 01, 2015 8:09 AM  

Two subjects that always engender a knee jerk, emotional reaction from me:

- Feminism
- Abortion rights

My emotional response and inability to reason on these subjects is what brought me here. There are other subjects as well, but not like these.

What's ironic is that reason is on my side. I just see red and can't do it!

Blogger CM April 01, 2015 8:12 AM  

Ok... so equality posts are my negative reaction.

Equality of value vs equality of ability gets me the most annoyed. I've blown up at SSM several times over it.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 8:16 AM  

I hated the essay... first and foremost for the use of the term western militaries.

If you're talking about the US... say you're talking about the US. If you're talking about NATO... say you're talking about NATO.

Psychologically the US military is tired. But even tired the average 2015 US soldier is more willing to actually fight than the average 1970 US soldier was. Back then it was shown that barely 1 in 10 troops would actually fight. Most would just fire wildly... others would be almost totally paralyzed by fear.

That's the real reason they killed the draft. They found most of those fighters... killers... were volunteers. So they went to an all volunteer army. And the percentage of soldiers who would actually fight is much greater.

Air Power did not conquer Iraq twice. Air Power did not conquer Afghanistan.

Blogger 4thPointOfContact April 01, 2015 8:17 AM  

Soldiers aren't killing themselves because they can't handle war, it's because they can't handle the peace.

The garrison army sucks, especially with all the drawdowns and changes in regulations that make those soldiers who fought bravely persona non grata

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2015 April 01, 2015 8:19 AM  

Here, I'll put this as bluntly as a base ball bat.
In 120 years Israel has come into existence but Judaism isn't doing so well
In 120 years Christendom has nearly ceased to exist.
If a country has got not got the arrogance and conviction to teach people to be like them, they shouldn't be overseas. Full stop.
van Creveld seems to be struggling with saying these very things
Fault me or quote me, cheers

Blogger Josh April 01, 2015 8:21 AM  

One would think that, aware of the problem, the politicians and societies that so light-heartedly sent the troops to fight under these circumstances would do everything in their power to compensate them in other ways. For example, by allowing them some license to enjoy life before a bomb went off, blowing them to pieces; making sure that those put in harm’s way would be given a free hand to do what they had to do; allowing them to take pride in their handiwork; celebrating them on their return; and giving them all kinds of privileges. Was it not Plato who suggested that those who excelled in war on behalf of the republic be given first right to kiss and be kissed? After all, in every field of human activity from football to accounting it has always been those who enjoy what they do who do it best. Conversely, in every field those who excel are those who enjoy what they are doing. Is there any reason why, in waging war and fighting, things should be any different?

Instead, far from honoring their troops or even showing them respect, Western societies have done the opposite. During training and in garrison, they are surrounded by a thousand regulations that prevent them from doing things every civilian can do as a matter of course. That includes, if they are American and not yet 21 years old, buying a can of beer and drinking its contents. On campaign they are bound by rules of engagement that often make their enemies laugh at them, prevent them from defending themselves, lead to unnecessary casualties, and result in punishment if they are violated. Anybody who openly says that he took pride in his deadly work—as, for example, the legendary, now retired, four-star U.S Marine Corps General Jim Mattis at one point did—will be counseled to shut up if he is lucky and disciplined if he is not.

Blogger CM April 01, 2015 8:28 AM  

I hated the essay... first and foremost for the use of the term western militaries.

I'm not a military scholar and i don't have a lot of intellect invested in military subjects.

So... i probably missed something in that essay...

But my take away from it was the political arm that wields the strongest, best trained hammer in the world. You could have the finest weapon and it be rendered useless by the one that uses it.

And i don't think that incompetence at the political level is limited to the US.

Anonymous Salt April 01, 2015 8:35 AM  

That's funny Fish. I got banned there about 2 years ago for saying "the answer to "is it worth it" is No."

It's unfortunate he's closing. He thought he could change things. The answer he could not handle was no. But he has been excellent at documenting, even explaining, the events unfolding. That itself has been worth it.

I wish him Godspeed. He's also still wrong about gold.

Blogger Josh April 01, 2015 8:37 AM  

How many reports have we seen about lowering recruitment standards?

During 2006-07, the military steadily increased the number of bad behavior waivers as the services — particularly the Army and Marine Corps — struggled to meet deployment demands in Iraq and Afghanistan. The services let in more recruits with criminal records, including some with felony convictions, in order to meet recruiting quotas.

And in some cases, the services relaxed age restrictions, allowing older people to enlist or rejoin the military.

But as the wars dragged on and suicides, sexual assaults and other bad behavior by service members spiked, military leaders began to question whether there was a link to the relaxed enlistment standards.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 8:42 AM  

And I would also point out that the use of the title "Pussy Cats" is inflammatory in itself. And thus... there is a justification for calling his essay a hissy fit.

Now I didn't use the term myself... and I don't consider it a hissy fit. But if you start off by throwing insults... you're likely going to get an emotional response back.

Anonymous ZhukovG April 01, 2015 8:46 AM  

From my own years of military service, I recall that for every good man there was at least one who could best serve his country and protect his comrades by shooting himself in the head before any battle began.

The American Fighting Man apologists don't seem to realize that comparing the situation for American soldiers to third world resistance fighters is comparing apples to a song about oranges.

American units have superior communications and logistics. If they get in a tight spot they can call air support. The wounded can be evacuated to field hospitals where they receive excellent care.

The third world partisan has none of this and must therefore adjust their tactics accordingly.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 8:52 AM  

And I would also point out that the use of the title "Pussy Cats" is inflammatory in itself. And thus... there is a justification for calling his essay a hissy fit.

That doesn't follow in the slightest. The fact that something is inflammatory doesn't indicate that it is itself emotion-based. Especially coming from an academic like that, one should assume quite the opposite.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 8:54 AM  

It's been my belief that using their own warped logic and method of argument against them (essentially black knighting) is possibly the best way to get them in a tizzy and possibly start regretting ever using such shoddy logic.

Your belief is entirely wrong. Read Aristotle's RHETORIC to understand why.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 8:55 AM  

"From my own years of military service, I recall that for every good man there was at least one who could best serve his country and protect his comrades by shooting himself in the head before any battle began."

I don't doubt that at all. But by your own testimony then the ratio of "Killers" to "just guys" is now near 1 to 1. Back in Viet Nam and World War II it was closer to 1 to 10 the wrong way.

Anonymous Daniel April 01, 2015 8:57 AM  

There are many problems with misplaced rhetoric. In this case, the failure of these critiques to even address the more important thesis is a big problem: whether or not these were a) luxury wars and b) failures and c) whether it is the nuclear deterrent that is the or at least a major contributor to both a) and b).

Misplaced rhetoric is a derailment of ideas. Doesn't matter whether it was intentional or accidental.

Blogger Student in Blue April 01, 2015 9:05 AM  

Your belief is entirely wrong. Read Aristotle's RHETORIC to understand why.

Hmm. Is the translation by W. Rhys Roberts good in your opinion?

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 9:08 AM  

Haven't read Van Creveld, so I won't comment in detail on his thesis except to say that these wars have been lost on the political / moral level rather than the military level.

How many times is it necessary to point this out? The political and moral levels ARE military levels. This is a level of ignorance that doesn't even reach 1831. If you're going to try to speak the language, at least use the correct terms. You're quite clearly talking about the PHYSICAL level.

Clausewitz (trinitarian) = tactical - operational - strategic
Lind (non-trinitarian) = physical - mental - moral

The higher level reliably trumps the latter. You win on tactics but lose on operations, you lose. You win on physical but lose on moral, you lose. There are always rare exceptions, but that's predictably how it goes. What I keep hearing you guys say is the equivalent of "Durr, we's winnin' on da physical, we's only losin' on dat udder stuff dat don' matter". Meanwhile, what these gentlemen have been pointing out for THREE DECADES is that if you win on the physical, but lose on the higher levels, you will lose the war. Which, you will note, is exactly what keeps happening again and again.

In fairness, I don't think the terminology is optimal. I would have preferred the term "morale" for "moral", but it does sound strange and moralities do come into it, so it's not a bad term, merely a confusing one that implies a nonexistent judgment.

Van Creveld's thesis appears to be....

And there we go. It really does work amazingly well as a predictor.

His piece is mid-level blog quality and I can't see committing to read his book if this indicates his level of talent.

Bingo. Yes, based on your level of reading comprehension, I would certainly recommend that you not read his work.

Blogger Josh April 01, 2015 9:09 AM  

I hated the essay... first and foremost for the use of the term western militaries.

If you're talking about the US... say you're talking about the US. If you're talking about NATO... say you're talking about NATO.


As an another example of western military prowess, how has Israel fared in its post 1973 wars?

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:20 AM  

" You win on tactics but lose on operations, you lose. You win on physical but lose on moral, you lose. "

Vox...

True of False:

Militaries are historically good at defeating large scale insurgency over time.

Blogger Bodichi April 01, 2015 9:24 AM  

How do we win on the Moral level? Our society is bankrupt on that level amongst the leadership caste.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:24 AM  

"In fairness, I don't think the terminology is optimal. I would have preferred the term "morale" for "moral", but it does sound strange and moralities do come into it, so it's not a bad term, merely a confusing one that implies a nonexistent judgment."

This is a huge barrier for most people when it comes to understanding. Mentally I replace the word "moral" with "morale" every time I see it in these discussions but most don't. They think you're saying you have to be the good guys to win. Which has nothing to do with it.

Its about the willingness of your soldiers to kill people and break things.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:25 AM  

"How do we win on the Moral level? Our society is bankrupt on that level amongst the leadership caste."

We stop making so many rules for the soldiers to follow. We don't throw them in jail for being to good at killing bad guys. We make sure they have booze and good food and whores.

Thats how.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 9:26 AM  

I don't speak Ancient Greek, so I couldn't say. But that's the one I have.

Blogger Bodichi April 01, 2015 9:27 AM  

@Nate

At the tactical level, at least in the units I have served with, a " the willingness of your soldiers to kill people and break things."

How do we get the leadership and the rest of the population to have that willingness, because that is what is holding us back.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 9:27 AM  

Its about the willingness of your soldiers to kill people and break things.

More than that. It's the ability of your society and your military to believe in the rightness of your cause. Think of a woman defending her baby versus a woman defending an ugly man who hit on her. Who will win?

Blogger Bodichi April 01, 2015 9:29 AM  

@ VOX

"More than that. It's the ability of your society and your military to believe in the rightness of your cause. Think of a woman defending her baby versus a woman defending an ugly man who hit on her. Who will win?"

In our society in the USA, 15 cops would line up to shoot that ugly man in the face, and pat each other on the back, before a special on the evening news about how heroic they were.

Anonymous ZhukovG April 01, 2015 9:32 AM  

Nate,

An excellent observation. Is it not interesting that we clearly won WWII and it could be argued won Viet Nam as well.

With WWII much credit can go to the Soviets, though we fought well in the Pacific.

In Viet Nam, we pulled out having successfully defended South Viet Nam. The NVA was no longer directly attacking them and what remained of the Viet Cong was easily manageable. We left them with one of the largest and best equipped militaries on earth.

The problem with South Viet Nam is that they were never worth defending to begin with. Kennedy realized it, but that probably helped get him killed.

As for killers, thankfully, my unit was never tested in this regard. I don't know if I was one of the true killers, though my nickname in the unit was 'Sneaky Bastard'. I was somewhat adept at infiltration.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:32 AM  

" It's the ability of your society and your military to believe in the rightness of your cause. "

meh.

now we've just made a giant circle.

Look... historically... militaries suck at defeating large scale insurgency over time. All of them. That's why we have military coups. When the population is so pissed that the military can no longer quell it... the military creates the change that the top the public wants.

That doesn't make the military weak.

Its simply disengenuous to say western militaries are weak because they suck at doing something no army has ever been good at doing.

Anonymous zen0 April 01, 2015 9:34 AM  

> As an another example of western military prowess, how has Israel fared in its post 1973 wars?

Co--incidentally, they have been affected by the same conditions that Van Creveld mentions in the essay. Feminism and other politically correct interference.

Blogger Jourdan April 01, 2015 9:43 AM  

To paraphraise Juan Rico, nothing named the Department of Defense has won a war or will ever win a war.

And that was written in 1958.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 9:45 AM  

"To paraphraise Juan Rico, nothing named the Department of Defense has won a war or will ever win a war."

So Saddam didn't surrender in 1991?

Blogger Joshua Dyal April 01, 2015 9:47 AM  

They think you're saying you have to be the good guys to win. Which has nothing to do with it.

Its about the willingness of your soldiers to kill people and break things.


For most people raised under the aegis of Western civilization there's a strong correlation to those two, though. They don't have high morale unless they believe that they also have the high moral ground.

Blogger Jourdan April 01, 2015 9:48 AM  

When a society's definition of war is changed to "operations so that foreign locals will agree with Americans that the change America seeks to effect by the operations is both universal among mankind and in the manifest interest of the locals to adopt," no victorious outcome is possible.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but our situation with regard to war has become more or less a local commander asking prominent locals every morning "are you with us yet?" and then declaring his resolve to re-double his efforts when the locals simply say "no".

My first inclination is to simply say that this is not war, thus we don't actually know that Western armies have failed. However, given the valid points made about how strategy and higher echelon ideals *are* part of the war, I must concede the point.

Not only have we lost every war since the Japanese surrendered, I'm not remotely confident we could win another without radical social/govt change in the U.S. and the wider West.

Blogger Jourdan April 01, 2015 9:49 AM  

Nate, no Saddam didn't surrender. He signed a cease-fire, which he frequently and aggressively violated, and which required the stationing, in theatre, of thousands of troops, including combat-level patrols, on both ground and air. That is not victory.

Anonymous ZhukovG April 01, 2015 9:55 AM  

I would argue that the Iraq War in 1991 was a clear and decisive victory for the United States.

Blogger Jourdan April 01, 2015 10:00 AM  

ZhukovG, I agree that of all the engagements fought by the Defense Department since the end of WWII, the Gulf War is the closest to outright victory we have come to. And let us agree that we lost Korea (which is on-going and have never been concluded), Vietnam (a clear loss), Afghanistan (we are negotiating with the Taliban more than 14 years after the attacks) and Iraq (no credible new Iraqi state has been established).

However, given the fact that we both had to remain in theatre in force to conduct combat operations and patrols, and that we had to re-engage, I don't believe it merits the label victory.

Reasonable people can certainly disagree on point though, I admit it. After all, we did chase them out of Kuwait, which was the main goal.

Anonymous Salt April 01, 2015 10:02 AM  

"To paraphraise Juan Rico, nothing named the Department of Defense has won a war or will ever win a war."

So Saddam didn't surrender in 1991?


Tongue in cheek, Nate. Sheesh, get a grip.

The Dept. of Defense wasn't in Iraq, the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force were.

Blogger Noah B April 01, 2015 10:07 AM  

The moral/morale failure is rooted in society at large and can't be pinned solely, or even mostly, on the military. A society that fails to support its military -- or even worse, presents its soldiers with challenges and immediately proceeds to undermine them -- should not be surprised when its objectives are not reached.

To put it another way, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 10:09 AM  

I would argue that the Iraq War in 1991 was a clear and decisive victory for the United States.

It was a victory. It was obviously not decisive.

Anonymous Athor Pel April 01, 2015 10:10 AM  

After reading the whole article I saw that the anger over the implied impugning of the US military was misplaced.

What I got out of the full article was this. If the west treated its military with the pride commensurate with the risk then that military would be much better than it is. I didn't really see Creveld say the west's military was shitty. I saw him say it could be better than it is and he was laying blame on the system and people controlling that military.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 10:13 AM  

"Tongue in cheek, Nate. Sheesh, get a grip. "

If it was tongue in cheek... why did he write this:

"Nate, no Saddam didn't surrender. He signed a cease-fire, which he frequently and aggressively violated, and which required the stationing, in theatre, of thousands of troops, including combat-level patrols, on both ground and air. "



Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 10:13 AM  

The moral/morale failure is rooted in society at large and can't be pinned solely, or even mostly, on the military.

Agreed. But the lesson is that you can't use a military without public support. Hence my point about Fabius Maximus. The first thing he did in taking charge was go back to Rome and shore up public support for the war against Hannibal. Only then did he change Roman strategy. And there we see the interaction of the different levels of war.

1. Moral.
2. Strategic.
3. Operational.
4. Tactical.
5. Physical.

Because Fabius Maximus took care of Moral first, he was able to adopt a better Strategy. Because of that better strategy affecting the Operational level, he put himself in a superior Tactical position as Hannibal's supplies and reinforcements dried up. By the end, Rome was in a position to win on the very Physical level that Hannibal had previously slaughtered them on.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 10:14 AM  

"It was a victory. It was obviously not decisive."

Yep.

Should've killed him in 1991.

Note that the highway of death was the primary reason for the end of that campaign... damage and carnage that the US was inflicting... not the sustaining.

morale indeed.

Blogger Bodichi April 01, 2015 10:14 AM  

@Vox

"It was a victory. It was obviously not decisive."

Correct, and the decisiveness was not the fault of the military but of those in government. Some people speculate that the reason Schwarzkopf didn't accept his 5th star was due to the president denying him when he suggested toppling Baghdad.

Blogger Jourdan April 01, 2015 10:16 AM  

As I noted above, reasonable people can view the Gulf War as either a victory or something quite less. Since the enemies will to fight and will to achieve their war-fighting goals was not overcome, I don't view it as a victory. However, when measured against the immediate war aims of the U.S., it may be considered a victory.

Regardless, I still think the general rule holds: our war-fighting record since 1945 has been one of near constant failure. I don't think the significance of this is properly recognized.

Blogger Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 10:17 AM  

"The political and moral levels ARE military levels. "

Agreed, and yes, you are right: I shouldn't be conflating "military" with physical / tactical as terms in this discussion.

That being said, while losses at the higher level of abstraction can/will lead to a loss of the war, they do not follow that deficits at those levels result in a deficit at the physical/tactical level, as Mr. Van Creveld states in the selection that you quote in attributing those causes to the result of Western troops not being able to hang "man-to-man" against 3rd World fighters.

I disagree with his assesment in that regard. The Western troops are superior man-to-man, that's not chest-thumping, home-team posturing, it is fact. The "won all the battles, but lost the War" trope exists for a reason, and we are in violent agreement on that. Their effectiveness at the physical/tactictal levels has not been erased by the abject failure at the higher levels, but "victory" in the war certainly has.

Anonymous ZhukovG April 01, 2015 10:18 AM  

@ Jourdan

Victory is the achievement of the Nation State's political goals by means of military force.or the credible threat thereof.

Korea was a victory because we successfully defended the Republic of Korea. MacArthur's opinion did not matter, Truman's did.

Viet Nam, is a bit more ploblematic but we left them in a reasonable position. I would argue that South Viet Nam lost the war not the United States. For our part we had successfully defended them.

We defeated Grenada and Panama.

We absolutely defeated Iraq in 1991.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 10:19 AM  

" But the lesson is that you can't use a military without public support."

Yes.

And this is why no military has ever been good at quelling large scale insurgency... and why criticizing western militaries for not being good at it is silly.

The will of the american public isn't even what matters. The fact is this would fail even if the american public was 100% behind it.

Because it always fails.

Blogger Josh April 01, 2015 10:21 AM  

Should've killed him in 1991

"It was a victory. It was obviously not decisive."

Correct, and the decisiveness was not the fault of the military but of those in government. Some people speculate that the reason Schwarzkopf didn't accept his 5th star was due to the president denying him when he suggested toppling Baghdad.


BRINKLEY: One other question — it keeps coming up. Why didn’t we go to Baghdad and clean it all up while we were there?

Sec. CHENEY: Well, just as it’s important, I think, for a president to know when to commit U.S. forces to combat, it’s also important to know when not to commit U.S. forces to combat. I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire.
Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government would we have? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shi’a government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Ba’ath Party?
Would it be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all.

Blogger Mike Wallens April 01, 2015 10:31 AM  

It's interesting that we are still discussing the first Gulf War. A reminder that our American Ambassador April Glasbie told Saddam that we had no interest or side in his dispute with Kuwait. We essentially green lighted the invasion. Later, during the propaganda campaign the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador told testified that she had watched Iraqi soldiers toss babies out of incubators.

The Iraqis were preparing to withdraw when Desert Shield began in August of 1990.

Basically, we were lied into that war also. It was a corrupt endeavor but in no way could it match the sheer pointlessness of the second Gulf War. Saddam was a secular Arab who treated Christians and women far , far better than anything that has or will replace him.

People that fought in Iraq thinking they were doing God's work were the ultimate suckers.

Blogger Noah B April 01, 2015 10:45 AM  

Completely agreed, Vox. The problem the US faces today is that it is no longer a cohesive entity capable of providing the kind of overwhelming public support that is necessary to win wars. Instead, we have bitterly divided political factions that eagerly exploit any perceived missteps by their adversaries. Case in point is the Democrats' strong support of the Iraq invasion in 2003, only to disavow the war and pretend to have been misled once unforeseen difficulties were encountered. The complete reversal of their position took about 9 months, IIRC.

Gathering support for war is absolutely necessary when this is possible, but sometimes a realistic assessment of a nation should lead us to conclude that it is morally/politically incapable of sustaining a major conflict. I'd argue that the US has been in such a weakened and divided state for most of the time since the mid-60's. Strategic planners need to first address the rot within rather than pretending it doesn't exist. This is an enormous and lengthy task best thought of as a multi-generational challenge, not something to be casually addressed a few weeks prior to the commitment of ground troops.

Blogger Krul April 01, 2015 10:46 AM  

What's interesting about "Pussycats", in context of this discussion, is that most of it is right in line with the neocon perspective. If you removed the first three paragraphs and changed the title, a neocon's kneejerk reaction would be to agree wholeheartedly rather than to disagree.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 10:46 AM  

And this is why no military has ever been good at quelling large scale insurgency... and why criticizing western militaries for not being good at it is silly.

The Romans were rather good at it. And it's not silly to criticize Western militaries for not being good at things they are being repeatedly used for. There are no military leaders telling the politicians "we cannot do this, it is not going to work."

How can you blame the politicians for the military not even telling them what they can and cannot do? If you say "oorah, good to go" about something you know you cannot do, that is YOUR fault. There are plenty of things for which the politicians are to blame, but that isn't one of them.

For crying out loud, the Air Force is constantly claiming that it can do things it manifestly cannot do. Again, whose fault is that?

Anonymous Salt April 01, 2015 10:49 AM  

If it was tongue in cheek... why did he write this:

"Nate, no Saddam didn't surrender. He signed a cease-fire, which he frequently and aggressively violated, and which required the stationing, in theatre, of thousands of troops, including combat-level patrols, on both ground and air. "


Lordy, Nate.

"To paraphraise Juan Rico, nothing named the Department of Defense has won a war or will ever win a war."

That's the tongue in cheek. Does it need to be picked apart for you? Your response to it cannot even be shoe-horned into its meaning. But he answered your response anyway, to his credit.

Blogger Josh April 01, 2015 10:54 AM  

For crying out loud, the Air Force is constantly claiming that it can do things it manifestly cannot do. Again, whose fault is that?

I think the rhetorical response to that is "Yeah but the CHAIR FORCE shouldn't be considered military!"

Anonymous Stilicho April 01, 2015 10:55 AM  

Moral level of war = emotional level

Emotional commitment is required to sustain effort and sacrifice.

Blogger Noah B April 01, 2015 10:56 AM  

"For crying out loud, the Air Force is constantly claiming that it can do things it manifestly cannot do. Again, whose fault is that?"

There's plenty of blame to go around, and I don't mean to suggest that the guy saying "oorah good to go" is blameless. But politicians do bear a great deal of blame for creating a culture in which the "yes-men" are the ones who get promoted instead of thoughtful realists.

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 01, 2015 11:04 AM  


"How do we win on the Moral level? Our society is bankrupt on that level amongst the leadership caste."

We stop making so many rules for the soldiers to follow. We don't throw them in jail for being to good at killing bad guys. We make sure they have booze and good food and whores.

Thats how.


The way to win is by sticking to what are supposed to be the founding principles of the [defunct] republic. Heck, I am a huge proponent of just staying close to the letter of what is, allegedly, the "law of the land."

It does not matter how our military performs. The war making is political, almost boutique these days, and does nothing to preserve our freedoms. In fact, these "wars" are losing our freedoms. Even when winning, trust is lost because of the capriciousness of the engagements.

In terms of world opinion, we are also losing it. These uSA are simply a bully. Giving candy with the left hand, and punching with the right. Walking around, not softly anymore, with a big stick and breaking things accidentally and deliberately. At some point, even a friendly store owner will tell us to stop coming into the glass store.

So, have we won? It depends by what is your definition of winning. Isn't this what Mr. Creveld attempting to do?

We are losing and losing horribly.

Blogger Jourdan April 01, 2015 11:05 AM  

I agree on yes-men. In fact, I recently got myself into a bit of trouble at work when I asked a Marine general why it was that of all the Marines charged with crimes in connection with alleged violations of the rules of engagement were all enlisted men and if Marines were not led by officers, responsible for the conduct of their units in the field.

His reaction was more or less the same one would expect had he been an AIG executive and I had asked him what he thought he was doing socializing losses by looting the Treasury while keeping profits private.

It's illuminating of the condition of the current officer corps, flag rank and below as well, that not one officer has resigned his commission due to principled opposition to using his troops under rules of engagement that are sure to result in such criminal prosecutions of the troops led. That is a remarkable dereliction of duty.

Anonymous Salt April 01, 2015 11:09 AM  

"the Air Force is constantly claiming that it can do things it manifestly cannot do"

The value of the military to the Industrial Complex, having (imo) throughly infiltrated the military proper, is one of use it. Its proper use I do not see as being of terribly great concern.


Blogger Krul April 01, 2015 11:09 AM  

Martin van Creveld - Wasn’t it Frederick the Great who said that the one thing that can drive men into the muzzles of the cannon trained on them is pride? Nor do things end at this point. Far from celebrating the troops’ courage and sacrifice, society very often treats them as damaged goods. Indeed things have come to the point where it expects them to be damaged.

MvC identifies a real and pervasive problem here. I think the root of it is in our culture's confused love/hate relationship with violence. Just look at Hollywood, an extremely leftist establishment that holds icons of nonviolence (e.g. Gandhi) as moral paragons while it produces film after film glorifying guns and violence.

The current cultural attitude toward violence, if put into words, would be a compromise between pacifist idealism, practical necessity, and (unadmitted) visceral enjoyment: "Violence is a necessary evil." I speculate that this attitude leads to the poor treatment of servicemen and consequently their low morale. They are treated as a necessary evil, broken, damaged, the ones who do the dirty work. They are recognized and openly respected but also, humiliatingly, pitied.

The answer is to accept that violence in defense of one's country is not a necessary evil, but a positive good that should be celebrated openly and proudly.

Anonymous Barnabas April 01, 2015 11:09 AM  

Decisive defeat coupled with successful long term colonization appears to only be possible with European and Asian foes.

Blogger Josh April 01, 2015 11:18 AM  

The answer is to accept that violence in defense of one's country is not a necessary evil, but a positive good that should be celebrated openly and proudly.

This is complicated by the reality that much of what our military has been doing the past fifty years hasn't been in defense of our country.

Blogger Jmac April 01, 2015 11:25 AM  

@Zhukov


"Korea was a victory because we successfully defended the Republic of Korea. MacArthur's opinion did not matter, Truman's did."

No, because the threat was never completely eradicated, and the two Koreas are still technically in a state of war.

"Viet Nam, is a bit more ploblematic but we left them in a reasonable position. I would argue that South Viet Nam lost the war not the United States. For our part we had successfully defended them."

Left them in a reasonable position? From the outset the US never understood the Vietnam conflict, so it is difficult to say the US didn't lose.


"We defeated Grenada and Panama."

Yawn.


"We absolutely defeated Iraq in 1991"

Nope, because US troops went back and are still there. The political goals from the first Gulf War were never met. Yes, Iraq was removed by force from Kuwait but another goal was to keep the Persian Gulf region secure and stable, which still hasn't happened.

As Andrew Bacevich once wrote the only military victories the US has had since Hiroshima have been against enemies who are less than ten feet tall: "Three times in the last 60 years, U.S. forces have achieved an approximation of unambiguous victory—operational success translating more or less directly into political success." http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/no-exit/ (The three times being the aforementioned Grenada, Panama, and Dominican Republic).

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 11:29 AM  

"But he answered your response anyway, to his credit. "

That's called doubling down.

He clearly does not believe that war was won.

Which makes him an idiot.

Blogger Krul April 01, 2015 11:30 AM  

Josh - This is complicated by the reality that much of what our military has been doing the past fifty years hasn't been in defense of our country.

Well, I reckon one possible approach would be to praise violence on behalf of one's country as a positive good. Perhaps on the assumption that advancing your country's political interests is good for everyone.

We couldn't stop fighting non-defensive wars, of course. That would be crazy.

Anonymous Barnabas April 01, 2015 11:42 AM  

I, for one, am very glad that the US didn't go all out to "win" the proxy wars with China in Viet Nam and Korea. I hope we don't try to "win" in the Ukraine. I'll happily take a draw or a loss on that one.

OpenID simplytimothy April 01, 2015 11:45 AM  


Level---------------| Successful men----------- | Failures
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Moral. Churchill Reagan | Bush, Bush
2. Strategic.
3. Operational.
4. Tactical.
5. Physical.


Thanks for the framework, Vox. I will be buying the Crevald's book when it comes out in paperback.


Anonymous Quartermaster April 01, 2015 12:22 PM  

I'm guessing the critic was not fully involved while reading "Pussycats." There may be a few small details I might quibble with, but the article is pretty much spot on, and I read it rather quickly.

Anonymous Quartermaster April 01, 2015 12:31 PM  

"'Viet Nam, is a bit more ploblematic but we left them in a reasonable position. I would argue that South Viet Nam lost the war not the United States. For our part we had successfully defended them.'

"Left them in a reasonable position? From the outset the US never understood the Vietnam conflict, so it is difficult to say the US didn't lose."

The leftists position is that we did not understand the Vietnam conflict, but we understood it quite well. One can argue that the war was prosecuted poorly, but it's really impossible, on the facts, to say that we "lost" the war in the way we understand the word lose as it applies to military conflict.

It was lost on the political level as Congress unilaterally abrogated the treaty ending our full involvement in the war. ARVN lost in the field for lack of resources that would have been supplied had we upheld the treaty. The result is likely to have been the same as that for the Easter Offensive of 1972 when half of the NVA invading force made it back home. That battle was fought on the ground entirely by ARVN with back up from our aviation assets.

had Nixon simply told the Senate that the treaty, which they ratified, allowed him to support ARVN, they most likely would have won again in the field. Their primary enemies, however, were named Kennedy, Mansfield and McGovern and not Giap.

Blogger Tarrou April 01, 2015 12:32 PM  

The base problem is that Vox and others are reasoning backward here and relying on equivocation to get them through.

If the "feminization" and "psychological weakness" of the soldiery on the ground is the issue, there just isn't any evidence, as I posted in the last thread. In actual combat, there isn't a problem. You can try to spin getting slaughtered as a victory for assymetric warfare if you like, I doubt the Iraqis agree. If the soldiers have a problem, it is that we are so effective we are held to insane standards of conduct.

But the deflection has been that what we're actually talking about is the political and societal problems, which those of us with experience have also been dunning as the culprit, but that these count as "military" problems. Well, pick one. Either the military is feminized and crazy and can't fight, or the civilian oversight can't give a solid objective. There is evidence for the latter but not the former. And if it is the latter, why engage in this bizarre antagonism of the troops? Why play this motte-and-bailey equivocation game of criticizing the military and then falling back on "well everything is military"? All this psuedo-racial discussion of ethnic solidarity, and you are off bashing the whitest, most rural, and last sexually segregated part of the country? Forgive me my skepticism.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 12:43 PM  

The base problem is that Vox and others are reasoning backward here and relying on equivocation to get them through.

No, we're not, you stupid fuck.

If the "feminization" and "psychological weakness" of the soldiery on the ground is the issue, there just isn't any evidence, as I posted in the last thread.

Yes, there is, you stupid fuck. Concerning feminism, there are more literal females in the military. There are more homosexuals in the military. Women are now permitted to serve in combat arms. Concerning psychological weakness, suicide and PTSD rates are both reported as being on the high side.

If the soldiers have a problem, it is that we are so effective we are held to insane standards of conduct.

They're so effective they have to hide behind fortified bases and don't dare wander around the territory they supposedly occupy.

But the deflection has been that what we're actually talking about is the political and societal problems, which those of us with experience have also been dunning as the culprit, but that these count as "military" problems. Well, pick one.

Read Clausewitz, you stupid fuck. Good lord, you're not merely stupid, you're pig-ignorant. How do the brave, invicible, rural white soldiers you obviously dream about fellating at night address the weaknesses of US grand strategy?

Your problem is that you are in ten feet over your head and you don't even know it. Now shut the fuck up and go read Clausewitz. Then review what you've said, and then maybe, just maybe, you might be ready to read one of van Creveld's many books. There is a reason that Jerry Pournelle called him "a necessary supplement to Clausewitz".

But you wouldn't understand that, because your grasp of military theory is literally medieval.

Anonymous DavidKathome April 01, 2015 12:48 PM  

Reading that post by Martin van Creveld, it reminded me of something a psychiatrist(or psychologist?) said on a libertarian website about a decade ago. Fighting to survive doesn't mean cowardice and it doesn't mean retreat. But it doesn't mean fighting to win either. The psych guy compared it to a football team that never tries to score a touchdown, but plans its strategy around making sure the opposing team never scores a touchdown. The football players are giving their all and fighting tooth and nail, but in the end they are very likely to lose the game and at best they will achieve a tie.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 12:48 PM  

One can argue that the war was prosecuted poorly, but it's really impossible, on the facts, to say that we "lost" the war in the way we understand the word lose as it applies to military conflict.

Good lord, you people are moronic. What the fuck do you think is meant by "War is a mere continuation of politics by other means"?

If you give you, you lose. Period. You don't get to say, "well, we won militarily but we lost politically". No, you lost. The enemy controls the territory you used to hold.

Listen idiots. The physical is THE LOWEST LEVEL OF WAR. IF YOU WIN AT THE PHYSICAL AND LOSE AT ANY HIGHER LEVEL, YOU LOSE THE WAR.

This is not rocket science. In WWII, Germany won reliably at the Tactical and the Strategic. They lost at the Grand Strategic. It didn't make a damn bit of difference that, man for man, division for division, they could outfight anyone.

Anonymous Alexander April 01, 2015 12:53 PM  

You don't get to say you won because you hit the most triples.

Blogger Josh April 01, 2015 12:54 PM  

This comment thread and the previous ones sound exactly like football fans complaining about losing a game "EVEN THOUGH WE BEAT THE ABSOLUTE DOG SHIT OUT OF THEM BOYS ON EVERY SINGLE PLAY!"

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 01, 2015 12:59 PM  

It can be said that we won Gulf War 1, and, yet, here we are. Moving goal posts is one way to redefine winning. The other is to make sure the cutoff, the end marker, is placed in the right place.

Anonymous Barnabas April 01, 2015 1:00 PM  

Vox is just hysterical at this point.

Anonymous Barnabas April 01, 2015 1:08 PM  

He does OK if he works things out in his head correctly before typing but once its out there his fragile ego will allow no backtracking, time for appeal to authority, motte and bailey and name calling.

Blogger Josh April 01, 2015 1:09 PM  

Vox is just hysterical at this point.

You use loaded words or unnecessary vulgarities.
You utilize dismissive language or strike a dismissive pose without providing any justification for it.
You attack the character or competence of the author.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 1:16 PM  

He does OK if he works things out in his head correctly before typing but once its out there his fragile ego will allow no backtracking, time for appeal to authority, motte and bailey and name calling.

And that's how we know Barnabas didn't date cheerleaders in high school. Anyhow, it's useful to know he's one of the readers who is incapable of dialectic. I'm under no illusions that everyone who comments here, let alone reads here, is capable of surmounting the rhetorical level.

Hence the rhetorical response. If I respond in that manner to you, it doesn't mean I'm upset, it means I am speaking to you in the only language you are capable of understanding.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 01, 2015 1:28 PM  

You are all merely arguing over semantics. The other side says we're winning the wars because the enemy is actually defeated. The Taliban retreated to Pakistan and is waiting for us to leave because they know we won't stay forever.
The problem is we're not fighting a war at all. A war has a stated goal, a known enemy, and an expectation for victory. No one can explain the timetable or mission for US Military troops in the Middle East. Who exactly is the enemy? Do you even know? I can't even see who they're really fighting.
ISIS was armed and trained by US Military advisors and CIA. Are they our friend or enemy? Do you know? Are you sure? Who knows for sure what the Government is doing anymore?
This is a Forever War against Eurasia. This might never end. As long as those calling the shots have no skin in this game, they never have to stop doing this do they?

Anonymous Grinder April 01, 2015 1:29 PM  

Now that Nate and others have cleared things up I now see that Napoleon won the war against Russia with his capture of Moscow. The occupation was an entirely different matter with the French voluntarily departing since it was mission accomplished already.

Anonymous Salt April 01, 2015 1:32 PM  

That's snarkily funny, Grinder.

Anonymous Grinder April 01, 2015 1:34 PM  

Curse those wretched slavs who are too dumb to know when they have been conquered. They spoil too many wars that way.

Blogger Vox April 01, 2015 1:35 PM  

I now see that Napoleon won the war against Russia with his capture of Moscow.

That's actually another very good way of clarifying the difference between winning all the battles and winning the war. I personally prefer Fabius Maximus because he barely even fought any battles and still drove Hannibal back to Africa.

But in both the case of Fabius Maximus and Kutuzov, their victories at the higher levels of war were much more important than mere battlefield results.

Anonymous Androsynth April 01, 2015 1:37 PM  

Mr. Van Creveld states in the selection that you quote in attributing those causes to the result of Western troops not being able to hang "man-to-man" against 3rd World fighters.

No he doesn't, and nearly every single one of the critics seems to be hung up on this one portion of one sentence that is neither being read nor parsed correctly.

For one, it's "man against man".

For another, it's an emphatic clause, there simply to emphasize what precedes it, but otherwise irrelevant to the point of the sentence. For those of you with this particular issue in reading comprehension, you would do well to read the full sentence again, ignoring the "man against man" clause. Here, I'll even do it for you:

"In both cases, when it came to engaging in ground combat, the West, with the U.S at its head, simply did not have what it takes."

Reading and parsing a single sentence correctly should not be rocket science in what is, presumably, the native language of most of the commenters here.

Anonymous clk April 01, 2015 1:45 PM  

"Reading and parsing a single sentence correctly should not be rocket science in what is, presumably, the native language of most of the commenters here"

See.. thats why you should always delete the last sentence in any post...

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 01, 2015 1:47 PM  

Actually this war could be won, if they said they were going to stay and rule it as a Colonial Power. The enemy would then be forced to fight or declare defeat. However, they will never say that because colonialism is now a badthought. Therefore there is no way to win at all.

Blogger Bodichi April 01, 2015 1:52 PM  

@Joshua

"Actually this war could be won, if they said they were going to stay and rule it as a Colonial Power. The enemy would then be forced to fight or declare defeat. However, they will never say that because colonialism is now a badthought. Therefore there is no way to win at all."

Exactly. Imagine if Iraq was the 51st state in truth and we shipped all of the unemployed over there, their only job to keep the oil flowing.

That cannot happen though because our leaders and certain members of our population are unable to ever believe that winning a war can ever be just.

Anonymous Curtis April 01, 2015 1:56 PM  

In Viet Nam, we pulled out having successfully defended South Viet Nam.

No we didn't. Continuous warfare, er, engagement, is not successfully defending anything. When they stop coming, then you have successfully defended. Seriously? We kept winning, and winning, and winning the same piece of ground, until we pulled out. If we hadn't pulled out, we would have kept winning, and winning, and winning, the same piece of ground!

Blogger Noah B April 01, 2015 2:01 PM  

One thing that's becoming clear is that we have no obvious and consistent way to define victory. Every victory is temporary, just as all glory is fleeting.

Anonymous Alexander April 01, 2015 2:02 PM  

Saying we won because we pulled out after successfully defending South Vietnam is like saying WWII ended in June, 1940: the British pulling out after successfully defending Dunkirk.

Anonymous Androsynth April 01, 2015 2:03 PM  

See.. thats why you should always delete the last sentence in any post...

I trust the point is still clear despite my sloppy grammar. Or, if the snark is what you're objecting to, then I admit to letting it intrude on my post after reading a number of people continuing to defend their egregious misreading of Creveld's sentence.

OpenID cailcorishev April 01, 2015 2:04 PM  

I think part of the problem is that, thanks to the aftermath of WWII and the way it's been taught in the schools, Americans now think that if you do war "right," you leave your defeated opponent better off than before and ultimately a friendly ally. There's a general belief that we sort of did Germany and Japan a favor by destroying entire cities and industries and helping them rebuild as peaceful nations.

That's why the bar is set so high now. It's not enough to destroy their armies, kill or drive out a portion of the population, repopulate the area with your own people, and install a tame puppet governor. I'm pretty sure our military could do that in Iraq, if that's what we considered "winning." But that's not us; that's what those nasty imperialists in the past do! We're just there to help, to switch to playing policeman and camp counselor as soon as the shooting stops, which completely ignores these other levels of strategy.

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 01, 2015 2:07 PM  

I, for one, will do all I can to make sure that Iraq does not get to be the 51st star, nor Israel. Taking parts of northern Mexico and making them States in these USA make more sense. But, then again, I would work against that too.

I all for flying the Lone Star once again.

Y'all can go to hack, I going to Texas. Oh, wait. I am already gone to Texas.

Oh, I'm a good old rebel, / Now that's just what I am, / And for this yankee nation ...

Come on Nate, you can join in.

Blogger Bodichi April 01, 2015 2:09 PM  

@Jamie

Do you think England was wrong for sending their criminals and unwanted to Australia? What would you think if Iraq was made into a protectorate?

Blogger CM April 01, 2015 2:14 PM  

More than that. It's the ability of your society and your military to believe in the rightness of your cause. Think of a woman defending her baby versus a woman defending an ugly man who hit on her. Who will win?

David Eddings in The Belgariad had a people painted as cannibals that just so happened to inhabit the richest, gold-infested lands. They weren't cannibals... but the common man won't fight to line others' pockets with gold.

Hence propaganda.

It gives a moral reason for the common man to keep his morale high So he's willing to die.

There's more to morale than just that (such as motivation and respect for command), but the morals play into it.

Also, social support at home contributes to morale.

Blogger Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 2:24 PM  

@Vox

I now see that Napoleon won the war against Russia with his capture of Moscow.

That's actually another very good way of clarifying the difference between winning all the battles and winning the war.”

Actually that just reminds me of something I remember from when I was still in the military.

The logistics criteria for sizing of forces was set around the expectation of the following victory condition:

Being able to take and hold the enemy capital city. Even at that time (1990s) this stood out to me as being anachronistic and naïve.

OpenID bernardbrandt April 01, 2015 2:28 PM  

I would like to thank VD for introducing me to the works of both Profs. Lind and van Creveld. They have been most informative; at least, those writings that I have been able to find through Vox, on teh webz, or in the library. I fear, however, that I will be unable to read the Castalia House texts, as I have no disposable income to speak of. This is because my wife is ill, and the co-pay on the (new) drug she has to take on a monthly basis costs more than our joint monthly income. You don’t even want to know what it would cost if she were not on disability. So far, we have found means of covering the difference, but I do not know how long that will last.

That said, I would agree with van Crevald’s thesis in his essay, “Pussycats”: that the U.S. military have largely been emasculated as a result of i) not being in an existential threat to our existence for the last seventy years, and ii) institutional factors which discourage any strengthening of the soldiers’ moral outlook. The good professor was too polite to say so, but I fear that the weakening of the US population by broken marriages, poor personal choices, bad diet and little exercise, have also had their effect. In short, with the exception of those in the military who have sharpened themselves or who have been sharpened by discipline and experience in war, Dr. Creveld’s thesis would have been rhetorically stronger and more dialectically accurate if in his title, he had removed the letters C-A-T from the title and his thesis.

I would also agree with Vox that those who can’t handle Dr. van Creveld’s thesis should start with dialectic, and then with rhetoric. But that is simply what the wise, from Plato and Aristotle on, have said.

I am surprised, however, with the lack of understanding about the relationship of the physical with the moral. It’s been more than two centuries since Napoleon said, “The moral is to the physical as three is to one.” Don’t you guys read military history?

Blogger Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 2:28 PM  

@Androsynth

“Reading and parsing a single sentence correctly should not be rocket science in what is, presumably, the native language of most of the commenters here”

Having since gone back and read the essay on Mr. Van Crevald’s website, I see nothing to change my opinion. I am in violent agreement with him (and Vox) on the reality that winning at the physical/tactical level, while losing at the higher levels results in Loss of the War. Period

That being said, the plain reading of Van Crevald’s essay makes the additional case that not only does losing the higher levels of warfare results in loss of the War, it results in losing at the physical/tactical level…or at least greatly diminishes the effectiveness of a military at that level.

These sentences are not in disagreement with one another, which should be obvious:

“Mr. Van Crevald states in the selection that you quote in attributing those causes to the result of Western troops not being able to hang "man-to-man" against 3rd World fighters.”

And

“In both cases, when it came to engaging in ground combat, the West, with the U.S at its head, simply did not have what it takes”

Mr. Crevald is mistaken. The Western militaries, the U.S. in particular, while down from their peak of 20 years ago, certainly do “have what it takes” in ground combat read: physical/tactical level. Even factoring in things such as Air Support and the Eastern “shoot and scoot” style of warfare, 3rd world combatants are the ones that don’t have what it takes. My understanding is that Western / US troops generally exchange at multiple heads for head in ground combat, though considering training cost and investment that still probably isn’t a good trade for us.

Regardless, losing at the higher levels while winning the physical means losing the war. At the same time losing at the higher levels does not mean you also must lose the physical level as well. Were that true the trope of “Winning the Battles, but losing the War” would not exist.


n.b. fixed Crevald spelling

Anonymous Sam the Man April 01, 2015 2:37 PM  

Very enjoyable two threads.

I would put this out, as no one has mentioned this, but it was something I mused over in the early 1980s. If you look at the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975, you are looking at something very close to a real world (cultural removed) comparison of Soviet and US doctrine. The North and South Vietnamese were basically the same people. The difference in that war from February to April of 1975 was the equipment, doctrine and morale. As we have seen since, communism and sustenance of human needs do not do well over time, so you could consider the brief war sort of a comparison of the effectiveness of 1970 era weaponry, tactics and operational doctrine between the US and the Soviet Union.

Now viewed from that angle, our doctrine, as the South Vietnamese army was trained and equipped to fight like the US, failed pretty miserably. I read one good book written by a CIA guy on the conflict and the argument that we pulled back on supplies leading to the collapse does not cut the mustard. The fact was South Vietnam was full of weapons, munitions and supplies. They simply collapsed against a firm attack by the NVA, in no small part because of the very poor officer corp., which was a copy of the US corp. of officers. The fact is the NVA did not expect to win in 1975, they too were amazed at the complete collapse, (other than small units of airborne and ranger SVA units) of the SVA. I can say if you compare the methods the Soviets were planning to use against NATO in 1980, there might have been a similar collapse by NATO prior to the Regan era reforms.

In a similar light compare the soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 with our occupation of Grenada in October of 1983. It took the soviets less than 56 hours to occupy the entire nation, where it took us, using our elite rangers and Airborne, seals and marines about a week to occupy a small island. I hate to say this but he 75ths Rangers had their butts spanked by Cuban construction troops. Of course in that case it was really due to higher command issues and a misuse of elite forces. Again the comparison of US vs Soviet tactics/doctrine did not show the US in a good light.

Now I recall in that era there were a lot of US scholars and officers such as Gen Dupuy and Van Crefeld writing books on what made armies fight (like Fighting Power) and some of these books were rather brutal to the US Army, in particular in comparison with the Germans. But the US made changes, such as the cohort program in the late 1980s and better weapons (M1 tank, etc) and doctrine (air-land 2000 combined arms doctrine)

In any case by 1991, ~10 years later the US military showed in Desert storm that many of the defects in doctrine had been fixed when we pretty much ripped the Iraqi army, which was more or less trained along Russian tactics. Since then it seems the US army has shown pretty good fighting power, at least on the tactical and operational level.

Blogger Noah B April 01, 2015 2:37 PM  

"Mr. Creveld is mistaken."

I don't think he is. The failure of the US to engage effectively in ground combat could result from a number of causes, as just one example, the imposition of overly restrictive ROE. This does not imply that the physical abilities of US soldiers are inadequate. If one instead phrased this concept as, "Being hamstrung by command can result in a lack of combat effectiveness," I doubt that many would object.

Anonymous Sam the Man April 01, 2015 2:38 PM  

But the US army is set up to fight a Kursk like major conflict, not the small war type conflict we used to be pretty good at (we won the Philippine insurrection in 1899-1907, and the Nicaragua insurrection in the 1920s).

Which takes us to our last point, the west and these small level wars: it seems the British and US used to be pretty good at winning these conflicts. The brits won all of the many India small wars, (save the one failure in 1839 in Afghanistan). They won in Abyssinia in 1868, Egypt in 1882, Sudan in 1898, South Africa in 1902, Malaysia in 1948 to 1960 and Kenya in 1956 to 1960. Similar record for the US from 1899 to the last successful insurrection put down in the Philippines around 1960.

Since that period the west has pretty much lost most every conflict on a low level, be it Aden (1967),Vietnam (1955 to 1975) Laos (1965 to 1970), Cambodia (1968 to 1975), Iran 1979, Libya (2011~2012), Iraq 2003~ to now).

Maybe this is less about the effectiveness of the military man for man effectiveness/tactics/ doctrine/operations/strategy/ and something more about the entire western world view? The Western men have gone from a society confident in the rightness of their civilization to one that lacks any confidence in their right to dictate even basic moral codes to anyone, or even a clear idea of what a basic agreed upon moral code of their civilization is.

Which might be the underlying point of Van Crefeld’s article. All the argument about these other issues misses that point.

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 01, 2015 2:38 PM  

Do you think England was wrong for sending their criminals and unwanted to Australia?

Yes.

What would you think if Iraq was made into a protectorate?

No. Where is the Constitutional authorization to establish protectorates/territories or bases around the world?

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 01, 2015 2:45 PM  

Sam: People fighting an occupying force is not insurrection. The Philippine occupation lost us so much credibility in that part of the world (as if the Gunboat "diplomacy" in Japan did us any favors) that it took the Japanese occupation to bring the Filipino and these uSA together. In the end, these uSA got kicked out of the Philippines. Took a long time for sure. How much blood would we have been willing to spill to have retained the Philippines?

Blogger Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 2:50 PM  

@Noah B

""Being hamstrung by command can result in a lack of combat effectiveness," I doubt that many would object."

I agree with you, and certainly with not object to that.

"The failure of the US to engage effectively in ground combat "

I'm not sure that is actually the case though. How much ground combat did they actually lose? I don't think they lost much at all, but I am not sure.

They certaintly have lost at levels above that though.

Blogger Noah B April 01, 2015 2:54 PM  

The US' ineffectiveness has had more to do with not engaging when necessary than with losing battles. Someone earlier gave the example of the US allowing the Taliban to flee into Pakistan to basically wait until we leave. We did the same thing in Vietnam.

Blogger Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 3:13 PM  

@Noah B

“The US' ineffectiveness has had more to do with not engaging when necessary than with losing battles. Someone earlier gave the example of the US allowing the Taliban to flee into Pakistan to basically wait until we leave. We did the same thing in Vietnam.”

I agree, though that kind of decision-making is somewhat above the tactical. As I read the Crevald essay, my takeaway was that he was referring to the physical/tactical level, which to me sounds crazy. To my knowledge (I could quite easily be wrong), when the US decided to actually engage a target, there were no successful defenses. Second Battle of Fallujah come to mind as an example. Just ask the Jihadis that defended Fallujah against the 1st Marine regiment and suffered on the order of 12 to 1 kill ratio. In general that just sounds like a ludicrous point to make.

Given that Crevald is an expert Strategist, I think that particular error is unlikely on his part, and he probably is intending the “above tactical level” as you mention.

In addition I could also be unaware of a raft of ground-level defeats, but I don’t think I am.

Blogger Noah B April 01, 2015 3:32 PM  

"I agree, though that kind of decision-making is somewhat above the tactical."

Good point. The lives lost in the search for Bergdahl is a better example of a lower level failure that occurred because of moral failure of higher-level leadership. I can only guess that higher-ups were frightened of Bergdahl being used as a propaganda asset, so this fear drove them to conduct an excessive search despite the evidence that he had deserted.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 01, 2015 3:39 PM  

I really can't blame the American troops for this. This is a problem at the Government level with the President Congress and the Pentagon, or is it pentagram?
The Military can defeat military targets, it can destroy things and occupy territory. It cannot change people's minds or culture. Do we even have a culture anymore?
They keep rambling on about Western Freedom and human rights, but basically what is this shit? Homosexuals getting in your face and making out in front of you? Strangers telling your kids there is no God and believing in Religion is hate? Wanting to get women to kill their unborn children but spitting in a veteran's face and calling him a babykiller for fighting for your country?
I may not like Iran, but I see why they call the USA the Great Satan. That guy is really popular and has a lot of followers around here. Too bad he's not on Facebook, though. I'd like to know just how many assholes are following this guy.

Blogger SirHamster April 01, 2015 3:48 PM  

One thing that's becoming clear is that we have no obvious and consistent way to define victory. Every victory is temporary, just as all glory is fleeting.

Agreed on the latter point, but not sure on the first one.

Take an NFL team: they lose games, they win games; they lose seasons, they win seasons; they lose big games, they win big games.

Does the existence of multiple types of victory and criteria make each victory subjective or inconsistent? Doesn't seem so to me - there's an obvious binning of victories into periods of time and types.

Now that's for the artificial competition of sports, but I think the military connections should be obvious. When the US is dropping atomic weapons on an enemy without effective opposition, I don't think one can call that a strategic loss; rather, it is a strategic victory that may not help claim the moral victory.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 01, 2015 4:08 PM  

How can you call anything a victory anymore? What is a victory? Don't they say the West is evil? Why are we trying to modernize them if the West is evil?
Religion is supposedly a Dark Age, but almost all of the Greatest Scientists are believers. Doesn't have to make sense. You can't discriminate. Unless they're White racists because of the color of their skin. Or, maybe prejudiced Christians who dislike evil.
Victory is one of those things that look good in Black and White like a Western. In Technicolor, it helps to have black hats and white hats. In fifty shades of grey its either The Story of O or just another boring softcore porn.

Anonymous Ain April 01, 2015 4:12 PM  

Nate: "I hated the essay... first and foremost for the use of the term western militaries.

If you're talking about the US... say you're talking about the US. If you're talking about NATO... say you're talking about NATO."


It appears to be a foundation stone of military thought to divide them into eastern and western because their war strategies developed so differently from each other. By saying western militaries, he probably means all of them.

OpenID cailcorishev April 01, 2015 4:42 PM  

there just isn't any evidence, as I posted in the last thread.

So if you see me throwing a silver dollar into a well every day for years, and someone suggests climbing down there at night and gathering them up, you would say, "I need to see a picture of the money first. I've seen no evidence that there's money at the bottom of that well."

If today's US military men aren't more feminized and soft than their grandfathers, then the services have wasted a lot of money and energy, because we've sure watched them trying to produce that outcome. What happened to their ability to break people down via boot camp and build them back up with new habits and attitudes? Isn't that what they're known to be good at?

Blogger Student in Blue April 01, 2015 5:02 PM  

What happened to their ability to break people down via boot camp and build them back up with new habits and attitudes? Isn't that what they're known to be good at?

Per my drill sergeants, they blamed social media for the "wussification" of 'boot camp'.

Their reasoning behind was, early on when the screws are in and things suck hard (the breaking down process as it is) is when soldiers complain the loudest, and giving soldiers back their cell phones during this time just makes them complain about how awful it is and how mean everyone is... when not even 7 weeks later it wouldn't be nearly as big a deal to them. Thing is, everyone outside takes those complaints and then makes a movement to help those poor soldiers out...! 'How dare you hurt my little boy like that Command Sergeant Major!' was how the story went.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper April 01, 2015 5:32 PM  

A military can win every single engagement and still lose a war. Heck this basic truism of war has been the entire US pattern of warfare since I dunno 1950 or maybe the Vietnam War if our objective was only to secure South Korea.

Its Military Science 101. not Vector Calculus.

Politics, Economics, Tactics. Logistics and a bunch of other things are all part of war and too many failures at any point means you lose. And by any measure we lose any large war we fight. We do great logistics and have good soldiers but its too costly and the politics aren't there,

I'd in fact argue we've bungled this so badly, I am surprised the guys haven't gone Starship Troopers and simply replaced the existing government.

Anonymous Androsynth April 01, 2015 5:43 PM  

I'm not sure that is actually the case though. How much ground combat did they actually lose? I don't think they lost much at all, but I am not sure.

"Ground combat," in this instance, is referring to a military adventure that isn't exclusively an air campaign. It doesn't mean just tactical engagements, it means the entire conflict.

Blogger Nate April 01, 2015 5:55 PM  

'Now that Nate and others have cleared things up I now see that Napoleon won the war against Russia with his capture of Moscow. The occupation was an entirely different matter with the French voluntarily departing since it was mission accomplished already."

Hey... remember that time Russia surrendered to Napolean?

Saddam is dead. His government is gone.

The US military killed him and destroyed his government and replaced it.

The fact that it didn't turn a bunch of tribal ragheads into jeffersonian democrats is not a reflection on the military... anymore than a failure to turn dark matter into onion rings is a failure of physicists.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper April 01, 2015 6:00 PM  

Sorry for the rapid second post

In order to win a war you need either to drive off an enemy, make an ally secure or to take enough land/loot/whatever to make the war profitable.

On those grounds we've failed at all three since WW2 .

#1 The only enemy invading us is allowed and even encouraged by our own internal corruption, its clear we won't be driving anyone off till ACW2 kicks off if it does,

#2 Every ally we touched is dying from the same internal rot and as such, we haven't aided anyone. Germany and Japan were healthy before we came, able to replace their population and culture, Now? No.

#3 We haven't secured oil or resources for ourselves in any case . We don't have the Iraqi oil reserves, Afghan minerals and .beyond the moral issues we haven't been allowed to pillage, take slaves or do any of the things that offset the cost of war. We don't even allow our troops to bring home Iraqi AK's for trophy's In that case the war is only only an expense and a big one,

Its around 5 trillion as of 2013 for basically nothing http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/study-iraq-afghan-war-costs-to-top-4-trillion/2013/03/28/b82a5dce-97ed-11e2-814b-063623d80a60_story.html

If our economy was working well, the country actually secure, the infrastructure working well (its D rated http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/) and families had enough income that they could soak the 37,500 or so annual cost for 3 kids without having to cut way back on quality of life (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/18/cost-of-raising-a-child_n_5688179.html) it would just be stupid and wasteful.

As is with all the costs and the boomer retirement, its crippling and comes down to the Nomenklatura strip mining the remaining wealth till it or something like it, bankrupts to the degree we can't fight. Same 3rd world play we see everywhere,

All things considered the world will probably be better off without Mordor on the Potomac since ,everything we touch turns to garbage anyway

Europe, Israel , Japan and the others will have to stand on their own which will be good for their people anyway. Or they'll die which should put a stake into the idea of Whig history and a Star Trek future for a while

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 6:28 PM  

@Androsynth

""Ground combat," in this instance, is referring to a military adventure that isn't exclusively an air campaign. It doesn't mean just tactical engagements, it means the entire conflict"

Not sure that is correct at all, given the thrust of the piece and discussion covering the relationship between the levels of conflict and their relationships.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 01, 2015 6:30 PM  

...to the greater outcome of the war.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 01, 2015 6:39 PM  

A.B. Prosper seems a little naive. Its true the American people as in the taxpayer who pays for this shit didn't get anything, but there was money made. Big money. Billions and Billions of Dollars.
Afghanistan is famous for a cash crop: Opium. It has some of the best poppy in the World. You know who else does? Vietnam. The Golden Triangle is where China White the best Heroin in the World comes from. The next best comes from Afghanistan the center of the British Opium Empire that funded the Entire British Empire during Colonialism.

Anonymous Anubis April 01, 2015 7:09 PM  

"Yep.Should've killed him in 1991."

Killing Saddam would have just put muslims in power faster. If he was still alive I am pretty sure we would have given his nation back to him with an apology." We are sorry we thought you were too mean to the muslims here have some nerve gas to use on them."

"best Heroin in the World comes from"

Sometimes I feel like my personal life could use more excitement, but I think I would rather read books than be a connoisseur of heroin.

I have seen enough black and brown military failures that I would not make any grand statements of our military capacity.

Blogger Tarrou April 01, 2015 7:16 PM  

I do find it amusing that Vox posts a list of things that might make people want to rethink their arguments, then proceeds to do every single thing on the list the moment he's challenged. Hilarious. Do carry on, and keep shouting "Clausewitz!". I read that when I was ten. Interesting, and in some areas definitive. But I don't think he says what you think he says. In any case, I can see this isn't about providing evidence, but I'll give a short rebuttal before quitting this argument.

"Concerning feminism, there are more literal females in the military."

But not in combat arms, and especially not in the infantry. You won't find many less feminist places in the country than an infantry platoon.

"There are more homosexuals in the military."

Says who? The end of DADT might mean you can count more, I doubt if you can show the real number has increased.

"Women are now permitted to serve in combat arms."

Nope. Not yet at any rate. They are conducting pilot programs to try to put them through combat arms training, none have passed the actual schools yet, and none have been assigned as combat arms yet.

"Concerning psychological weakness, suicide and PTSD rates are both reported as being on the high side."

Two points. First, this doesn't necessarily affect combat effectiveness, most of this happens post. Second, the definitions of mental illness have expanded mightily in the past twenty years. FFS, shopping is a mental illness now. A full third of all adults are estimated to have something in the latest DSM. There's a lot of reporting of mental problems, but this doesn't mean that it is abnormal compared to similar populations. Don't forget, you can get benefits for having PTSD, so vets have a good reason to get a diagnosis. This could inflate numbers as well.

In short, you have not shown any of the evidence you claim proves your point. This is where you call me a stupid fuck.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper April 01, 2015 7:42 PM  

Joshua Sinistar, not argument from me you are correct in that the elite have been getting huge benefits from this. The rest of us have not.

I kind of assumed that was obvious.

As an aside and kind of topic drifting , part of the problem American face is that they can't even understand the concept of social class, I apologize for the Marxist claptrap but American's in particular do lack a collective consciousness of "Us vs. Them" and are so terrified of becoming Commies by accident or something they metaphorically soil themselves at the idea of cooperation for a collective goal.
Until they can see it really is "Elite and Low Class non Whites vs Whites and a smattering of everyone else" they will have already lost.

To win you have to have power, apply it sometimes without mercy , sometimes collectively and to the terror of your foes till society itself bends to your will. Take 2-4 decades sometimes more before you can let go (c.f South Korea) No one has the stomach or patience for it especially among the would be Right wing revolutionaries in the US who one and all be Cincinnatus against an ideology whose basic ideas undermine civilization itself.

Its not that different than war, if we had enough surplus manpower to actually win in Iraq we'd have to be Saddam ourselves and we can't do that,

Its why I always laugh at all the worry over the 3% guys, they are great Americans, love their country., love the Constitution but will fail since they can't rule. Heck I'd argue to defeat them all the government has to do is liberalize gun laws a bit and curtail a tiny bit of the security state.. They''' rumble, grumble and slink on home to be demographically replaced .

I suppose folks like Fred Reed and maybe a lot of us are hoping the center cannot hold http://fredoneverything.net/Secession.shtml and ruin will take it down to a manageable scale but as Adam Smith once famously told his son "there is a lot of ruin in the nation"

Now if that changes and some ideology pops up, than they'd worry but if I was the Cathedral I wouldn't sweat a thing . Of course they will being mostly rabbits but they are in no danger from anyone for decades

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 01, 2015 8:27 PM  

Had these uSA gone into Bahgdad, 1st or 2nd time, all the casualties that took several years to occur would have happened in a shorter amount of time.
Then, after Saddam was gone and thd sh-t started to hit the fan again I heard people wanting our military to do things that, the same sort of things Saddam did to keep Iraq in order. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Won the war lost the moral high ground, and slowly the win giving way to the new moral valley. We lost, it's our brain that has yet gotten the message.

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 01, 2015 8:38 PM  

The slaughter in the so-called highway of death is nothing to brag about. The Iraqis were retreating. IIRC, the Russians had negotiated the retreat.

OpenID cailcorishev April 01, 2015 10:45 PM  

I do find it amusing

Is claiming to be amused by unamusing things on the Big List Of Gamma Tells? If it's not, it should be.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 01, 2015 11:30 PM  

Bodichi: "How do we win on the Moral level? Our society is bankrupt on that level amongst the leadership caste."

Reorient. That leadership is part of the enemy. It must be defeated and displaced.

War is an extention of politics with an admixture of other means.

What is the fundamental political question? Who is the enemy?

Answer that question wrongly and you're done. If what you have mistaken for "our leadership" is in fact the enemy, and what you have mistaken for the enemy (e.g. racists who must be put down by force) is in fact your own people, the more you are willing to inflict harm and keep on inflicting it, the worse off you are.

Anonymous Discard April 02, 2015 1:24 AM  

The U.S. military is a therapeutic community. Most decisions are made for you, when to rise, what to wear, what to eat, what job to do. Lots of young men from broken homes looking for a way out of the boxes they're in. You can make good infantry out of some of them, but you have to recognize that they're not the WW2 generation and train them accordingly.

Anonymous Discard April 02, 2015 1:30 AM  

Quartermaster: Nixon was no longer President in 1975. He'd resigned, and Jerry Ford was not going to stand up to a Democrat, anti-war Congress and get impeached himself.

Anonymous VD April 02, 2015 4:22 AM  

Is claiming to be amused by unamusing things on the Big List Of Gamma Tells? If it's not, it should be.

It's not that specifically, but the Gamma imitating the Alpha that gives it away. As our resident expert noted, they see a tactic working, but they don't understand why. So they imitate it, but incompetently.

There was a second Gamma tell in that comment as well, but I'll wait to point out what it was. The significance of identifying a Gamma isn't just rhetorical, because it tells you they will not only be unconvinced no matter what information you provide them with, they will remember that you embarrassed them for literally years and be looking for the chance to "get revenge".

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 02, 2015 5:34 AM  

Generally I don't like to pile-on, but in this case...

Sometimes you have to be nit-picky; that's just the way the argument is.

Sometimes you get nit-picky for laughs. This happens a lot if you are blessed with the company of a Jew who has raised pilpul to an art form, and who is pleased to see a gentile going at it, much as an expert ballet dancer might be to see a dog dancing. That's sweet, if you can compete without any ego about who's better.

Sometimes people get nit-picky without need or humor.

Tarrou April 01, 2015 7:16 PM has a fair amount of that.

"There are more homosexuals in the military."

Tarrou: "Says who? The end of DADT might mean you can count more, I doubt if you can show the real number has increased."

The American military is specifically aiming to recruit homosexuals now.

Although Marines pride themselves on being the most testosterone-fueled of the services, they also ferociously promote their view of themselves as the best. With the law now changed, the Marines appear determined to prove that they will be better than the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in recruiting gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.

The recruiters stressed to the local homosexuals that the Marines are “family,” and that the bad old days, when homosexuals had to keep their mouths shut, are over.


Success has been uninspiring:

Happily, for the Marines who think President Obama is out of his mind in pushing to permit the homosexualization of the military, it doesn’t appear as if homosexuals are flocking to the Corps in droves. “... [J]udging by the traffic at the gay rights center on Tuesday,” the Times reported, “there will not be an immediate flood of gay and lesbian Marine applicants.”

But generally when a military force sets out to recruit a certain type of personnel, whether it's tall men for a royal guard, short men for tanks or anything else, the reasonable assumption is that over time it will recruit more of those people than if it had not been trying.

Saying the equivalent of "yeah but I betcha can't prove it" isn't a good way to argue.

Re: the integration of women:

"Concerning feminism, there are more literal females in the military."

Tarrou: "But not in combat arms, and especially not in the infantry. You won't find many less feminist places in the country than an infantry platoon."

Again, you can play word games, but we know where things are going and what's happening in consequence:

The end of the ban on homosexuals openly serving the military has been coming for some time, and likely began with the integration of women into forward ground units near combat and the placement of women in combat jets and on ships.

Former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, who ran the service during the Reagan administration, pondered whether “Naval aviation culture is dead” for the latest issue of Proceedings, the journal of the U.S. Naval Institute. Lehman said the beginning of the end was the infamous “Tailhook” scandal in 1991, when naval aviators walked the plank for their rowdy and unbecoming behavior during the group's annual convention with some women officers who egged them on.


If you have to impugn a lot of people, the way Holocaust revisionists and 9/11 Truthers have to, so be it.

But where there's no objection to accepting the word of well-informed people and proceeding on the basis of reasonable assumptions, I think it's better to do that than to play word games and say "but can you prove it?"

(I'm not even going to get into shifting the ground from "the military" to "infantry platoons" -- I'm just filing that under "word games".)

This isn't a statement about Alpha, Gamma or anything like that; it's just a comment on how best to argue.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 02, 2015 5:34 PM  

@ AB Prosper This is not about class its about race. Its not lower class Whites, its Whites period. Just because they haven't removed them all yet doesn't mean they won't. The NBA is diverse. Its nearly all-black but its diverse. Diversity is no Whites. Anything but White is the plan. Social class and economics is just a diversion and a weapon.
Its all about race. Always has been, always will be.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper April 03, 2015 4:40 AM  

Joshua Sinistar, The working class is functional as are much of the working poor but our poor and dysgenic while they are ours, are screwed up badly, addicted, dysfunctional, low impulse control . Not much better than they other races . They are however still our people and as such. sometimes worth a salvage operation.
The White Leftists and our Elite are quislings at best. Outright traitors at worse Heck even Bill Whittle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysQl4aW7tME who is pretty darned establishment understand that to a degree. They are the problem not the Methed Out Hillbillies and White Trash Ghetto rats.

Also White populations started bricking back in the 1970's and 80's when the current immigration wave was still small and the anti-White agit-prop was slight. and no "we should try to get along with Blacks" while perhaps foolish is not anti-White nor was Silent Spring Soylent Green or the other dystopias that caused the family size concerns. The concerns were wrong but it wasn't about anti-White at least to anyone's mind. Africa, Brazil and Asia were in everyone's mind then.
The Hard Left was the exception here , a fraction, not all have always had that bent but they were always here, working the mole their way in as they always do. In the end the Anti_Whites won and we have the Left we have today. After a while things changed , the institutions were subverted and yes there was a strong anti White element from the around the 90's onward. However mostly it was about money as most things are, the Democrats want reliable voters as clients The Republican want cheap labor and the Churches converts. As such they all work to the same end. More immigrants, more money and power.

Also there are several reasons Middle Class Whites have smaller families , some of them are undoubtedly Cultural Marxism but a lot of them are money based.. Incomes have roughly gone down by half for most workers since 1970's The ethos of our middle is about "getting a better life" and as that grows more difficult they put more resources into fewer kids, They have to because of the immigration, the culture and the failure of public schools other things but simply its also harder to make a living And yes I know that people had it much tougher in the 1930's (also very low birth rates too_) poverty also has a relative competent, people in highly unequal societies perceive themselves to be poorer.It is essential that incomes increase as we are not going to get more free social pressure to reproduce. Its not going to happen so long as civilization works and if it stops, the population will plummet anyway.

This civilization wise desire to "muzzle the ox that treadeth the corn" is very frustrating and at best these people who arbitrage wages down are slitting their own throats..Every time someone starts gloating when people who want a little more income get replaced with a machine "Hurr, Durr, see what happens when you ask for more money." feel like making an Archer meme "Do you want Socialism , because that is how you get Socialism. Churches with the Prosperity Gospel around here are tainted by that and is full of "God hates the poor." memes and its sickening.

Anyway speaking frankly we don't need to live to reproduce, people with non double digit IQ's have other things to do. with incomes half what they should be there are more opportunity costs to each extra child. Still on the whole US Whites want pretty large families , it been hovering near replacement and while its dropped recently, our rate has gone up a lot since the 1980's when it was at European level . We US Whites are pretty natal on the whole and as such can reverse our decline wit work on various elements but if the economy isn't among them, it won't happen. It doesn't have to grow, it can even shrink but a working man better be able to make a good living and the people at the top can't own 90% of everything or we'll not get a recovery

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