James Fallows on “The Tragedy of the American Military”:
“During and after even successful American wars, and certainly after the standoff in Korea and the defeat in Vietnam, the professional military’s leadership and judgment were considered fair game for criticism. Grant saved the Union; McClellan seemed almost to sabotage it—and he was only one of the Union generals Lincoln had to move out of the way. Something similar was true in wars through Vietnam. Some leaders were good; others were bad. Now, for purposes of public discussion, they’re all heroes. In our past decade’s wars, as Thomas Ricks wrote in this magazine in 2012, ‘hundreds of Army generals were deployed to the field, and the available evidence indicates that not one was relieved by the military brass for combat ineffectiveness.’ This, he said, was not only a radical break from American tradition but also ‘an important factor in the failure’ of our recent wars.”
People who serve in combat are worthy of our respect as a nation, but Fallows gets to the heart of the matter — America has been defeated, soundly, in Iraq and Afghanistan, by people with far less money, training, and skill. Why have generals not been held accountable for their incompetence?
Ultimately, what “respect” do we show to soldiers when we allow them to be led into unwinnable, 12 year wars under incompetent leadership?
Patting them on the back at a single football game isn’t “supporting the troops,” it’s patronizing them, possibly to the death.
Also, this stands out:
“Those technological breakthroughs that do make their way to the battlefield may prove to be strategic liabilities in the long run. During the years in which the United States has enjoyed a near-monopoly on weaponized drones, for example, they have killed individuals or small groups at the price of antagonizing whole societies. When the monopoly ends, which is inevitable, the very openness of the United States will make it uniquely vulnerable to the cheap, swarming weapons others will deploy.”
Sooner rather than later, the drones will come home to roost.