But when you own a big chunk
of the bloody third world,
The babies just come with the scenery
--Middle of the Road, The Pretenders
Beware, my Lord!
Beware lest stern Heaven hate
you enough to hear your prayers!
My old dog Vietnam comrades often say that we did not win the war in the Republic of Vietnam because we were not allowed to win.
Ranger just viewed the excellent HBO series Generation Kill, and left with the only possible idea one could: In the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq the U.S. applied its full force of arms, yet we still did not win. The U.S. can pound little shit box nations into the ground, killing their people and destroying their armies and infrastructure, but we will still are not going to win.
The simple fact is, you cannot win the unwinnable. What would be gained if the U.S. did win? Something that most of would not want. We do not want to win aggressive wars -- our strength lies in the defensive nature of democracy. We fight to preserve our way of life, not to foist it off on others.
The old Clausewitzian adage that wars can only be won through offensive action may no longer be realistic. Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan show that defensive warfare is the new paradigm. Fighting defensively in unconventional warfare/guerrilla warfare [UW/GW] insurgent scenarios is the wave of the 21st century (having been proven in the 20th century).
The only thing worth fighting for in any war can only be achieved in a defensive campaign, and that thing is sovereignty. If there is any historical lesson which should be evident, it is that nation states lack the resources to stay on a permanent war footing, especially fighting aggressive and elective wars. The reality of the 20th century is that even when you win wars, you lose.
Why is U.S. policy to fight long wars with no endgame?