Misinterpreting History to Sell Eternal Mobilization.
by reader Ilsm
Misinterpreting History to Sell Eternal Mobilization
Washington Post, July 30, 2010, Pg. 19
A Defense Budget Lesson We Never Learn, Max Boot
Max Boot, Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick seat at Council on Foreign Relations, describes a litany of tragedies rooted in alleged demobilizations including post American Revolution and the War Between the States. Each example is a false conclusion designed to justify the US borrowing trillions to avoid such daunting fantasies.
I am a student of Korean conflict and the geo politics of the era. Boot ignores Douglas Mac Arthur warning that a land war on the Asian land mass is suicide, and that Mac Arthur demanded nuclear weapons to avoid such a bankrupting situation. At the time the US was not demobilized, it was planning for war in Europe against the Red Army’s WW II formations. That strategy sadly is being continued today. The father of the Task Force Smith retreat was Stalin hitting at the weakness. A few more percent of GDP to defend everywhere in the late 1940’s would have lost the Cold War to the Soviets.
The other error is Vietnam. Vietnam was lost for two reasons. The US fought in the wrong way, sending the WW II forces into a guerilla war which Mac Arthur had seen and warned against. And it was fought with allies who were as alien to the Vietnamese people as the US. A few more percent of GDP to mobilize to win in Vietnam and everywhere else would have bankrupted the US and the Soviets would have won in 1968.
Bringing in the Reconstruction “failures” after 1866 presents Mr. Boot contempt of the US constitution implying US military force should have occupied Georgia to make it better somehow. Should have been as successful as Afghanistan today.
Mr. Boot would not be happy until the war machine has bankrupted the US. He should consider the aim of national strategy, Santayana’s second famous quote: “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” What good is it to avoid another Task Force Smith if the country is bankrupt?“
As a balance to Boot read Andrew Bacevich: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-bacevich/the-end-of-military-histo_b_663548.html
Israel and the US are the only nations who continue to rely on the irrelevant tactic of eternal mobilization.
Broken link. Here’s the column:
It appears we can’t get anything done without a huge military. Size makes a difference.
I’m especially amused at how we managed to field a raw, green army five years after WWII. Apparently not enough veterans could be persuaded out the 16 million that served. An alternative explanation of the Korean debacle might tarnish the inspirational figureheads we so dearly need. No need to worry, they’ll do our thinking for us, just keep the dollars fowing.
Expect many more of the same…
Ilsm–The US government did the smart thing during Reconstruction in Georgia. It bought the the people who controlled the state government–cheap. Within a few years of the end of the Civil War, Governor Brown of the Confederate State of GA had become a Republican and was installed as US Senator. Once that was done, it was merely a matter of time before he set up the right contracts to make Northern capitalists comfortable in investing here. Which they did in short order to the tune of millions of dollars made in and exported from the state.
Thus, the notion that occupying Georgia was ever possible or necessary is odd, to say the least. This leads me to think that the author’s perspective may be flawed in other ways. Thank you for your review of this book. Nancy Ortiz
I’d hate to think our eventual “loss” in Korea had anything to do with the way the generals managed the war after Inchon, but Bill Sloan (“The Darkest Summer”) seems to think so.
And of course the war in Vietnam was not lost by “the way we fought it” or “who we fought it for,” but by Jane Fonda. Free fire zones and My Lai had nothig to do with the “hearts and minds” of the world.
Probably Boot gets his ideas about spending lots and lotsa for the next war from Maginot who showed the French how to prevent the Kaiser’s armies from ever getting anywhere near Paris.
Try to keep sight of the fact that Max Boot’s name appears in the list of “contributing editors” of the Weekly Standard. On that basis alone nothing he has to say should carry any weight as being other than propagandist BS.
Thanks HP….link fixed.
I would also say that both Russia and China are also constantly mobilized. China too is also expanding its Navy and will surpass the USN in number of ships within ten years.
Looks like the military is eating up the empire it is supposed to protect. The military is fighting wars thousands of miles away while the nation at home deteriorates. Happened to the Roman Empire too. But Max Boot can’t see that, he thinks the USA is different, no limits for the US.
We are spending as much on the military as the sum of all the other countries in the world, we are fighting against arguably the two poorest countries in the world, and we are getting beaten. We are withdrawing from Iraq starting the end of next month, and we will probably withdraw from Afganistan before another 18 months are past. Does anyone really think this is anything but a graceful retirement in defeat?
How expensive does an army have to be that loses all its wars? How is the US army any different from the Burmese army? (By army, I mean all the services, of course.)
Pull out of Afghanistan immediately! If religous zealots regroup and develop plans to attack the United States or New York City again…..we should just except that!
The people of New York are not worth all the money being waisted. The attacks that happend over seas can easily be hidden by the media…we need that money.
If Pakistan gives away one of it’s Nukes, or falls and loses all of it’s nukes…..let India handle it…they are Pakistan’s true enemy….Israel isn’t worth protecting, and if they smuggle one over here….it will only be those that live in a big city that get whacked….so it doesn’t matter….the money is more important…we are bankrupt!
You do understand that we won in Iraq? Or did you miss the memo? Obama, you know the Dem President, just mentioned (again) that after our drawdown in Iraq we will still have 50,000 troops there. Typically losers don’t leave two divisions worth of troops on the victors territory. For example of this see how there are no US troops in either South Vietnam or North Korea (just the victorious tyrannies). As an example of what winning would look like see Germany, Japan, and South Korea. All are now free democracies, which I assume you prefer to the tyrranies where we lost.
Do you have any understanding that the Obama directed surge, Commanded by his hand-picked General Betrayous oops Petreous, in Afghanistan is planned to stabilize the area and lets us drawdown (but not leave) there also? Or are you just that clueless?
Please keep up with current events before posting such inanity. This is a reality based blog.
Islam will change
Maybe if our army were not over there they might not be over here.
The accupation of the South is widely looked at as a failure becuase the Union troops didn’t stay long enough to ensure that Black/ex-slaves were fairly and completely integrated into society. Shortly after the Union troops left the segregation of the south and the loss of Black rights (especially their right to bear arms and vote) went into overdrive. In no time at all blacks had been once again enslaved/segregated by permanent debt and laws and the integrated legislatures of the southern states turned lily white. It took the civil rights movement to start us back down the path that the North (admittedly war-weary and tired of the taxes needed) abandoned way back then.
The rest of ilsm’s revisionist history, though amusing, is not worth commenting on.
Islam will change
If you served a set amount of months in WW II you were automatically deferred from being drawn back into the military for Korea – unless you volunteered. My father-in-law was exempted from being recalled becuase of that. That why we had a green army 5 years later and the fact we had huge man-power reserves to call upon. Plus, if I remember correctly, the average age of the troops in WW II was 26. They were now 31, married raising kids. We had demobilized to a huge extent and only had a minimal sized forces left (big compared to today but just a fraction of the size of the WW II force).
Unfortuanately for the people trapped in North Korea when the ‘draw’ was finally called we only were able to save half the country from the evil of communist tyrranny that still stands today. The lucky ones live in free, democratic South Korea. The unlucky still live in one of the worst hell-holes on the planet.
But we could have easily cut & run at Pusan and saved a lot of lives, US, Korean, and Chinese. Luckily the Democratic President Truman showed the fortitude to not throw away the freedom of a few slant-eyed people and managed over the next two bloody years to free half the country.
According to our politically challenged Wiki losses were:
North Korean Army: 500,000
South Korean Army – around 300,000
Korean Civians; 2 million
Considering that it took roungly 6-7 weeks to trap the US in the Pusan pocket I would estimate less than 10% of the total deaths had happened so far. We could have easily cut & run and saved probably close to 2.7-2.9 million lives.
Of course that would have left all of Korea under the one of the most evil tyranny on the planet. Ask the South Koreans if they ‘won’…
The defense of tyranny on the left at times is just amazing. I’m glad the looney left wasn’t around for Korea or WW II or WW I. But I will note all teh Presidents of those three were Democrats. Pretty blood-thirsty bunch, thank God.
Islam will change
We won in the sense that we have been able to bring enough violence to bear against the Iraqis to be able to stay in the country. We haven’t won in the sense that we’ve brought any stability to the country. If you can look at Iraq and think it’s a stable, functioning democracy, I wonder who needs clues.
Maybe & Might?….Your confidence is overwhelming!
My uncle, a WWII veteran, was re-activated for Korea and not as a volunteer. So I suspect there’s more to it.
But my real objection is blaming the troops. I’m not an expert on that war, but my understanding was that it was the hubris and blindness of the US high command, ie MacArthur, that led to the disaster, not the greeness of the troops. But that doesn’t jibe with the pantheon of heroes necessary to a permanent defense establishment.
If you uncle is still around ask him for details. My FiL got recalled but pressed is exenption and they let him go. He was a rifleman. Your uncle may have had some special skills that were in short supply.
And I made no comment about how the Generals ran the war. Lots of issues their, and McArthur had a HUGE ego no doubt about it. But the troops WERE green. And the 24th Division didn’t have much chance after the South Korean Army collapsed and they were outnumbered 10-1 and couldn’t even hurt the NK tanks. Basically are troops were not ready or trained & were not properly equiped, and that lays at the feet of the Generals – McArthur especially. We were very lucky not to have been driven into the sea.
Islam will change
South Korea in 1955 was far from a stable functioning democracy. But like Iraq today SK was stable and rebuilding. Heck Japan was still governeed by fiat by US Generals. Call me in 10 years and we can compare 1963 SK with Iraq.
To make a slight change to your first statement:
“We won in the sense that we have been able to bring enough violence to bear against the Japanese to be able to stay in the country.”
And its true in Iraq also.
Islam will change
Operation Iraqi Freedom:
Mission Objectives of the invasion (original unrevised 2003 objectives) are:
1.) End the Hussein regime;
2.) Eliminate whatever weapons of mass destruction that can be found;
3.) Eliminate whatever Islamist Militants that can be found;
4.) Obtain intelligence on militant networks.
5.) Distribute Humnaitarian Aid;
6.) Secure Iraq’s Petroleum Infrastructure;
7.) Assist in creating a representative but compliant government as a model for other Middle East Nations.
This is the mission statement that the government voted for going to Iraq. Each year new and revised objectives were added. Have we met these objectives? If so…it is a victory….if not….we have failed!
Here is a report from the Congressional Research Service which lays out where we were at when Obama took Office. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL34387.pdf
Buff–Based on what the Union did versus what they said, it’s hard to argue that they had any real intention of supporting the efforts of the Freedmen in the South or anywhere else. There were a few Republicans in GA who managed to stay alive in some towns in South GA. However, many were forced to leave or killed and suffrage and emancipation largely failed in short order. Meanwhile, every Northern investor who had some change in this pocket was exploiting all the transportable resources of the South. Take only timber as an example.
Millions of acres of loggable timber were cut in the South and used in the industrial and Western expansion after the Civil War. Millions more were exported to European markets where American yellow pine was highly regarded for construction. There was minable copper, gold, iron and of course coal.
Freedmen and poor whites ended up working in logging, naval stores, saw mills, rail roads and every other enterprise started by Northern investors. The typical patter of company towns and script instead of cash wages prevailed. I think that if anyone had had any serious interest in staying and helping break down the old system in the South, they sure went out of their way to conceal it. So, it’s was always unlikely that the high-minded principles of the Abolitionists would take hold here. And, not a lot of evidence that anybody put any serious money into the effort. Nancy Ortiz
Jimi, the US was over there before the WTC. The CIA removed Mossadegh in Iran and supported Saddam against the Iranians, then fought against Saddam, supports Israel against Arabs no matter what, invaded the Phillipines, Cuba, Granada, Panama, Mexico. Lots of military history. Non of these nations was ready or even able to invade the US.
America did not fight and invade these countries for altruistic reasons. Wars are always fought for material reasons, nothing else. And civilians get killed and there is no difference between getting killed by an unmanned drone, a person in or out of uniform, a child or you or anyone else is equally dead. I see no moral distinction between the weapons, a cluster bomb is one of the most brutal weapons. Who invented them? When one goes out to kill, there is a chance to get killed too.
What materialistic things that we have do Islamic Radicals want?
Exactly, even the civil war was for material reasons, the question of slavery was secondary and mainly how it affected business.
The Islamic Radicals want their country back, they want the US to just get lost and get out of their country.
what do you mean #7″ creating a representqtive but compliant government as a model” ?
What has priority, representing the people or be compliant to the US?
I don’t think destroying a nation the way Iraq has been destroyed can be called ” OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM” Can it get more cynical? If the US is in control of the oil, the US won the war. That was the goal no freedom for anybody, get real.
IIRC we wanted to create the ideal free market society in Iraq.
It’s a defeat, no doubt about it.
It’s classic to declare victory, and of course it’s not over yet, there may be some rays of sunshine to come, but most people see it for what is it.
He was a bomber pilot.
Boot didn’t mention the generals either. He should have.
I’m just glad the Whiskey Rebellion didn’t do us in…
There are some historians who say that. But you ought to read Richard Streiner “Father Abraham” before you decide. If it was an economic question, the question was would the save economy out compete the free farmer economy by getting the supreme court to declare state laws against slavery unconstitutional.
What country do Islamic Radicals claim?
Your mis-interpreting the term compliant. Not compliant to us, but compliant to the region. The idea is to prevent a dictactorship from arising out of the ashes. Arabs across the Middle East were upset with us, because they felt that the Stop-Block against Iranian Shias was eliminated, and that would lead to Iran controling the entire Middle East.
It was important to help foster a government that could not allow total Sunni, Shia or Kurd rule over the masses…..in other words…..keep the F’n religous aspects of the region out of government function at all cost.
Of course, the United States wanted a new Free Market ally, and one that would protect the oil interest of the civilized world, but nowhere is there evidence that we mandated this type of legislation within the newly formed government, and our strategy began to switch to winning hearts and minds after Falluja was freed to help foster that buisness relationship.
“We wanted to create the ideal free market society in Iraq. It’s a defeat, no doubt about it.”
Yes we did want them to be Capitalists, but it is clear that our government understood that they would do it differetnly than we do it, and that never seemed to be a problem with us, and the idea of an “Ideal” free-market system in the Middle East wasn’t a pre-requisite, at least not in any of the research I have found.
As far as, “It’s a defeat, no doubt about it?”
Well, I find that a little wierd since your next sentence says “It’s not over yet.”
I’d say for the amount of money we spent, and the amount of blood we spilled we couldn’t have asked for a much better outcome at this point, of course that is from a military strategic perspective, if I viewed the world through the eyes of the left, I don’t see how anything positive could come from this war….to each his own.
Beat spears into plough shares.
Jusr commenting on Boot’s misinterpretation.
What doe sthe constitution say about federal troops in states?
As to Korea, I was raised by WW II men whose younger brothers and nephews were through Korea.
Task Force Smith was thrown together with occupation troops from both Japan and the south of Korea. That Stalin and Mao pulled off a thrust int an unprotected area with troops well equipped woth US arty from WW II and T-34 tanks made a big difference. The T-34 was more than a match for anything US had in the area.
But go ahead watch Boot justify the war machine bankrupting America……………..
It is not national security it is empire security.
ilsm was bussy all day, so.
ilsm will not change.
Neither spends 5% of US war machine spending. Where did you getthe idea either were mobilized?
China with 1.5 billion people has more soldiers than the US and they mostly help with harvest and natural disasters.
Sometime tomorrow explain what you mean by win in Iraq.
Malik is a Shiite with links to Iran and the place is a festering pit with factions ready to tear eachother apart with US supplies and training once the US leaves.
What exactly is winning and is it worth bankrupting the US?
I seem to agree with you.
Afghanistan is run from the country, Karzia is mayor of Kabul.
He is the same as Diem to Vietnam in 1963.
Let’s get the boys and gorls home soon.
Max Boot describes bumps in the US’ militarist road to empire.
The US has an empire with no contestants other than the terrorists who have no war machine.
Why continue to trash the US because Boot and ilk describe the harm done to building the empire by demobilizing and not occupying large parts of the world.
Eternal mobilization has only benefitted the a few in the empire at great cost to ordinary people in the US.
No prince benefits from long war. Sun Tzu 500 BCE
ilsm will not change
According to historians Lincoln himself said the Union is his prioprity, it was a power struggle between the industrial north and the agrarien south and slavery. The south was destroyed and provided cheap labor and investment opportunities to the victor. And after all the time, generations later , the people have not forgotten. At the very bottom it was economical, it was the foundation of the empire, I think. The scorged earth military policy was not to free the slaves it was the fight for power.
The Islamic Radicals do claim the countries they come from, mostly Arab countries. The Taliban never left Afghanistan, Saddam was used by the US to fight the Iranians. Iran has not invaded another countryin the region for more than a century, they did not come to America, we went over there.
We would reject our government if it were compliant to Mexico or Canada or any other nation. Why would the Iraqis like it any better? One thing is for sure, we will leave one hell of a mess behind.
This whole “It wasnt about slavery it was about economics/power” argument regarding the civil war misses an important point…….. SLAVERY was about economics/power. The north may not have declared war to free the slaves primarily but the south was DEFINITELY fighting to preserve slavery as an economic institution. Both sides werent fighting over the same thing but that “thing” was central to one sides existence and they were willing to die to defend its continuation.
>Well, I find that a little wierd since your next sentence says “It’s not over yet.”
Perspective has a way of changing things. I’m allowing for the possiblity that something good may yet come out of it. But if we’re making the call now, it’s a defeat. And a good thing, too. Bombs should be a last resort, not a policy tool.
How many deaths are acceptable to make an ideal world?
>I’d say for the amount of money we spent, and the amount of blood we spilled we couldn’t have asked for a much better outcome at this point, of course that is from a military strategic perspective, if I viewed the world through the eyes of the left, I don’t see how anything positive could come from this war….to each his own.
It was an inspiration to the downtrodden everywhere that the strongest country in the world could not force submission, could not impose it’s will. Declare victory all you like, the world is not fooled.
let me say again. don’t come to a conclusion basedon what some historians say. there are a lot of dumb historians with an axe to grind. Slavery was THE issue. and it wasn’t the po’ agrarian south versus the big bad capitalist north. If anything it was the threat by a militant slave owning aristocracy to impose their system on the north and certainly the west by using the Supreme Court to declare anti slaverly laws in the states unconstitutional. of course this is only another reading of “history.” But I recommend Richard Striners’s book “Father Abraham” to give you at least a second perspective.
I have seen a number of articles by Boot. He is an idiot.
“the world is not fooled.”
Who Cares? If it mattered what the rest of the world thought, the United States would not exist, and the population of the world would be slaves to tyrannical dictators.
No you don’t…..the comment was complete snark….and really exposes the way many here think….It is very depressing!
You have your head in th esand to call Iraq a defeat. By any measure you care to name we won.
And we plan to stay – ask Obama – 50K for as long as we want them there. Just like Germany and Japan….
You need a grip on reality. Losing means helicopters off the embassy ala Saigon.
Islam will change
1) We are not leaving, as I predicted, and as confirmed by Obama
2) Go look at the history of South Korea after 1953. Not pretty, but it made it into the democracy it is today. Becuase we stayed.
3) Look at Jimi’s list, seems like we hit all our objectives, and now are sitting on the country while it grows up. Just like Germany and Japan. Then look at a map and understand its sitting on the 3rd largest oil supply in the world – the lifeblood of modern society.
We won. Why is that so hard to admit?
Bankrupting the US? That’s a joke. Or did you miss Obama’s spending plans? Or the fact that many here at AB basically agree with Cheney (now that he is no longer VP) and tell me the deficits doesn’t matter. Did you miss the memo? So does debt matter or not?
Islam will change
The Japanese and Germans seem to have tolerated it without much problem. The Iraqi’s seem to be settling down also. I can easily see the Iraqi’s being one of the most prosperous & free countries in the ME in 10 years. It has a chance to get there, unlike Syria or Iran or the Midevil Saudi Arabia…
But its nice to see that your on the side of tyranny. How does it feel to wish 60+ million people in Iraq and Afghanistan to go back under the yoke of tyranny?
And I don’t see us invading Iran, or did I miss the memo?
Islam will change
You do know that you just made Boot’s argument for him, right? Task Force Smith and the 24th Div. are perfect examples of what happens when you expect green troops with obsolete equipment to stand off attackers outnumbering them 10 to 1. The 24th Division got mauled and suffered over 10% of the entire US losses in the entire conflict.
Should we have been in Korea or continued to fight their after we were bottled up in Pusan is seperate from the fact that our troops were woefully not prepared.
So what is your point?
Islam will change
I agree with Greg, true, slavery was the issue, but not from a moral point of view, it was economically relevant to the leadership of both parties North and South and it was people outside the economical and political power elite who fought for moral reasons against slavery.
Coberly, historians do have their own prejudices too IMO. And it is the victor who writes the history. I have my prejudices too, I just believe that no nation ever went to war for any other than material and power reasons. That is how empires are born.
It’s pretty incredible to find someone who thinks Iraq was a big success for the USA.
Let’s just review the facts:
1. The Bush administration lied us into war there
2. We deposed the dictator that we had previously installed
3. As a result the country went into violent civil war
4. We spent trillions trying to contain it
5. The Shiite sector got the upper hand, and developed much warmer relations with Iran, an aspiring nuclear power
6. The only thing that unites all Iraqis is the idea that we get out
7. We didn’t even get to steal the oil
8. There’s no return on the trillions invested, the thousands of our soldiers killed, and the lasting enimnity created. Iran is much more of a regional power than before.
So please, tell me what we gained from this gigantic policy failure. I’d love to know how we came out ahead on the investment.