RANGER AGAINST WAR: Warriors Without Borders <

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Warriors Without Borders


The sacrifice of brave men
does not justify the pursuit of an unjust cause 
--Our Kind of Traitor, John LeCarre 

You must go on. 
I can't go on.
I'll go on 
--The Unnameable, Samuel Beckett 

You say "Yes", I say "No". 
(I say "Yes", but I may mean "No").
You say "Stop", I say "Go, go, go".
(I can stay still it's time to go) 
--Hello Goodbye, The Beatles

The trait characterized by all terrorism is that the violence -- though symbolic -- is ultimately nihilistic, and nihilism does not build great civilizations or institutions. Terrorism does not assist the progress of man.

Fights like Wanat, Waygul and Kamden are symbolic of so many others, but for our purposes let us assume they are representative of the entire war, a microcosm of the gestalt. This is not a heartening thought.

If the U.S. Army in 2009 with the compliance of NATO allies and the Afghan Army are needed to (barely) hold isolated Command Outposts, why should we assume the Afghan government will continue to do so after the U.S. leaves the country? They are as unable to do this as they were at the war's outset. Instructive is the example of Vietnam, the United States first counterinsurgency (COIN) war, the war which informed the late great General David Petraus to compose Field Manual 3-24, everyman's guide to fighting the COIN way.

The drawdown of U.S. assets led to the 1972 North Vietnamese offensive, and ultimately the April '75 fall of Saigon. The NVA achieved this military objective despite having been strategically bombed for at least seven years. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were as nihilistic from the U.S. side as are the acts of today's terrorists.

The NVN had a realistic and understandable military goal; in contrast, the U.S. goal was simply to kill the NVA and Vietcong into submission, a goal not achieved. As in Vietnam, fighting remains our raison d'etre, yet we marvel at the senseless nature of terrorism. We refuse to see that our response to terrorism is as senseless as the precipitating event.

Bombing Hanoi did not defeat the NVN venture, and drones will not thwart the will to fight of our current adversaries. Drone strikes will not defend America. In fact, they are an extralegal approach to a criminal problem (terrorism).

It is surreal to realize that we have fought and do fight wars without military objectives, we have tried to build nations that do not want to be re-built and we do all of this with money that we do not have to squander. Even the direness of the sequester is inadequate to shake our resolve to press the fight in which we have nothing to gain. It is Hamburger Hill, in perpetuity.

A simple question: If Chinese and Vietnamese Communism were bad and worth fighting the Korean and Vietnam Wars, why are both nations now major trade partners of the U.S.?

Perhaps to look into the gaping maw of that zed is too much to bear, so we press on, like Beckett's Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot. They do not realize their project is D.O.A., for Godot is not coming (Gott es Tod), or perhaps they do, and substitute an eternal march and cogitation in place of actually achieving something, like meeting their goal.

Much like the characters in Waiting for Godot, we are not even sure what we are waiting for, or what that might look like. Like them, our project has a foregone nullity for a conclusion.

The day that Saigon fells did not impact one iota upon the freedoms and liberties of U.S. citizens. If the Vietnamese, Afghans and Iraqis cannot achieve a national consensus without nasty civil wars, so be it. Ditto Libya, Syria and the whole shooting match. Let them fight it out, without us, as we alone did in the creation of our nation -- through the time-honored bloody slog that is how men decide who's top dog.

--Jim and Lisa

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Anonymous Blakenator said...

Brilliantly stated. Sadly, the loons have the upper hand these days.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 5:29:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I dunno, jim; kinda apples and oranges here.

In the late Fifties and early Sixties the consensus opinion was that Uncle Ho was doing the bidding of the Evil Stalin/Evil Mao/Evil Somebody. The whole point behind the whole Vietnam War was that we were supposed to be defeating the North. We couldn't do that short of invasion and we were too freaky about the possibility of the Chinese coming is as they had in Korea to do that. But we had the example of Korea in front of us, where we'd at least held off the commies and kept half the country "free" (we'll pass over the whole question of how fucked up the ROK government was in the Fifties and Sixties...)

And the bottom line is that - as fucked up as the South Viets were the Northerners were MORE fucked up. Had there been some way to keep them out the South Viets would be better off today in much the same way that South Korea is.

So IMO the real problem is that were fighting the Last War, like always, and couldn't see the differences between Korea and Vietnam than made Korea doable and Vietnam not.

Central Asia, OTOH, was and is a clusterfuck from the get-go. There never was anything there to start with, and there was no hope for any sort of ROK-like government to hold things in place while the people get educations and cell phones and daytimers and all the trappings of industrial civilization.

So I agree with your point about the current batch of wars. But I think you're being too harsh on your own war. With 20-20 hindsight we can see that it was never going to work. But looking at it from the perspective of Korea, it seemed like SSDD...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 6:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

The enemy is always poverty ,ignorance and greed.
We can't defeat that with a rifle.
I was unaware that there was a north and south viet nam. I always thought that there was french indochine and/or indochine.
The north /south thing was a creation of the Geneva accords. Was it not.?
Why would we fight them? In todays parlance why would we fight for Nato weinies like Croatia or Slovakia or the Czech Republic.?
We should mind our own business.
As for RVN i knew it was lost after 2 weeks in country. I was a dumb ass LT and i could see it , and feel it.
My war was as bullshit as all of them.
Why in the hell do i care if there's a South Korea? What am i missing here?

Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 9:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

in the 80's the gov't policy was that ALL terrorism was coordinated world wide by the KGB. this was as false as the basis of the VN and all the following wars. Who dreams these things up?
The VN/US war is a real comedy of errors. We allowed the French to trick us into believing that the VN were nasty people. Then they told us they could be defeated. WE all forgot about the 100 years of colonial domination and hatred accumulated.
In WW2 HCM's network was the only effective anti jap force in the area. Hell the French rolled over and went quisling as they did in Vichy. So as soon as the war was over we rewarded their duplicity by rearming the French and alienating the Viet Minh. A real smart move that.
We believe in self determination EXCEPT when we don't.So much for the Atlantic Charter.
How was the south democratic??? Were the people any freer than in the north? It boiled down to who you wanted to be screwed by.
that's my take.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 9:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger no one said...

"So as soon as the war was over we rewarded their duplicity by rearming the French and alienating the Viet Minh. A real smart move that."

I was watching a documentary on Cuba/Castro and it seems the US pulled a similar bone headed move in that situation. As soon as Castro took over the US began trying to figure out how to kill him. US determination to off him instead of work with him is what drove him - most reluctantly - over to the Soviets. Which in turn led to the Cuban missile crisis.

WTF kind of belligerent arrogant self defeating foreign policy is that and why do we keep doing it over and over and over again?

I'm picturing some fat, martini drinking,cigar smoking, used-to-always-getting-his-way captain of industry wildly gesturing and demanding his congressional lap dogs "do something" about those "damn peons" that are screwing up his business opportunities. "Send in the Marines if you have to, but I want this problem fixed and fixed yesterday!"

Which is pretty much what Smedley Butler said is driving the whole shebang.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 12:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

jim: No argument that neither the South Korean nor the South Viet governments were "good guys". My first platoon sergeant had been with 44th MED, and I still remember his comment; "Unless you saw them you have no idea how fucked up the south slopes were. Without us Charles would have bent them over inside a month."

But...the NORKs really ARE fucked up. You can argue about how good or bad the Park dictatorship in the South was but you never had poor fuckers starving to death. You're right about poverty, ignorance, and greed - but look at the two sides of the DMZ and tell me that anyone south of it would trade places with anyone north. As shitty a war as it was, the Korean War DID keep half of the people there out of the hands of the Kim lunacy and ensure that they didn't have to eat fucking grass while their masters pissed away cash on missiles...

We could take a lesson there ourselves, frankly, but, whatev...

So I "get" why people in 1955 or 1960 thought that they had the same deal in VN. I don't think they did; I don't think that Ho or the guys who followed him were crazy like the Kim kardashians. And I think we should have wised up to that before the first big troop units got sent in; by that time (as you said) even a butterbar could tell that nothing good was coming of fucking around with those people...

So VN was fucked up, but I don't agree that it was so really obviously fucked up from the jump that the US should have stayed out. We should have GOTTEN out by the late Fifties when Diem was recognizably a little Stalin his ownself and it was obvious that we were just replacing the French.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 1:10:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Anon: The U.S. did that over and over in the Fifties and Sixties all the way up until the Soviets dropped dead back in '91. We constantly confused the people who wanted their colonial masters and/or the sonsofbitches that had been forced on them or had grabbed power in their countries with "communist puppets". We made the same mistake in the RVN, too, picking Diem over Ho.

But, like I said, there really WERE places where the "other side" really WAS fucked, like the Koreas.

The problem was that we had and have a terrible record for picking these guys, and we picked wrong time and time again right after WW2 and all through the post-war period; the Greek colonels over the leftists, Batista over Castro, the Shah over Mossadegh.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 1:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger no one said...

Chief I take your point - both as you make it to me and as you make it to Jim.

Yes, some folks, like in NoKo got fucked by commies and other misguided miscreants. No doubt about it. It was for real.

However, I'm not sure I ultimately understand what you're getting at. Are you saying the US starts wars because it wants to save people from getting fucked like the NoKo's? I can't agree with that, if that's what you're saying because we, ourselves, have been, upon occasion, the misguided miscreants doing the fucking ( or at least supporting those who are) in too many cases;e.g. Latin America.

So which is it? We start wars to save people or to screw them? Or both - AS LONG AS OUR BUSINESS INTERESTS ARE BEING PROTECTED. In which case the causus belli is corporate interests, right?

Sometimes corporate interests result in the colonials being less screwed, sometimes more screwed.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 2:42:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Workingstiff said...

Lucidly stated, Ranger.

Bernard Fall is my favorite military writer. In the 1960's he saw clearly that technology could not defeat a determined ideology.

And yet here we are today, like the Empire in Star Wars, putting all our faith into our technology terrors to defeat the low tech rebels.

The Afghan Security forces, made up of diverse factions and tribes, do not have the heart to win it against their united radical counterparts.

All the weaponry we have given them will soon become part of the bad guys arsenal, just like how the Reds in Korea fought with US equipment they took from the Nationalists--Which was later handed down to the Viet-minh to fight the French. Or the Bouncing Bettys picked up the the VC when the ARVNs abandoned their base without a fight, and used against our troops.

The only way to defeat an enemy like that is to not fight them, but let them win, and then develop into a failed state like NK that will eventually implode by its own ideological hand.

Friday, June 14, 2013 at 10:18:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Correct -- let them have at it. Somehow we have lost the art of Realpolitik, which is the only realistic way to exist in a world not full of World Federalists.

Friday, June 14, 2013 at 11:53:00 AM GMT-5  

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