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Why Are We Not Winning Wars Anymore?

Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2022
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Wars

As a young, commissioned officer in the United States Army back in 1983, we had a mandatory reading list. That included books like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Erwin Rommel’s Attacks. I chose to read other historical books myself such as the tactics of Hannibal of Carthage as well as those of Alexander the Great. If there is one thing about the profession of arms, fundamental strategies, and tactics, along with principles of armed battle, rarely change. The thing that does change are the manner of arms and leaders. Today, our young officers in the military are compelled to read works such by Ibram X. Kendi about anti-racism and cultural Marxism. We have offices of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our Department of Defense. We are focused on pronouns use, according to a disturbing ideological agenda. We are more concerned with individuals who are confused about their gender, a declared mental condition called gender dysphoria, than military readiness. And we have uniformed leaders asserting that they want to understand white rage.

And we wonder why we are not winning wars.

Another of the mandatory books that I had to read as a young Army Second Lieutenant was Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz’ book, On War. It was there we learned that “war is the imposition of one’s will upon the enemy.” As well, we, as future military professional officers and leaders, were instructed that “war is the continuation of policy by another means.” Therefore, armed conflagration is never the first tool a true leader should seek, but one should be prepared and offer a firm deterrent to those who would seek to engage in conflict.

John F. Kennedy once affirmed that “peace is not the absence of war” and for those of us who have read Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince know what that means.

There was once a time when America, even from its humble beginnings, understood that armed conflict meant winning, unconditional surrender. That began with the British surrender at Yorktown in October 1781 by Lord General Cornwallis, his sword as a symbol of capitulation. When the British refused to honor the terms of surrender and recognition of the United States we fought them again in the War of 1812…and they burned Washington DC as a means to bring about our surrender. In the Civil War the North unleashed William Tecumseh Sherman, who famously stated, “War is hell!”, against the South. Growing up in Georgia I learned about Sherman’s march to the sea through the Peach State, which included burning to the ground the city of my birth, Atlanta. The South surrendered, unconditionally, at Appomattox Court House.

World Wars I and II was about unconditional surrender by the enemy, and we introduced the use of a nuclear weapon to fulfill what Clausewitz said, “the imposition of our will.”

But something then changed, it started with the Korean War and the ramification to this day is the demilitarized zone (DMZ)…a place where I spent a year of my life in 1995. In Vietnam, where my older Brother served as a Marine infantryman, we allowed the enemy to impose its will upon us. We never lost a tactical engagement in Vietnam, but we were defeated strategically. Even in my first combat deployment, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, we fought a half-measured combat engagement. Yes, we drove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, but we left his capability intact…and we later returned. And we can talk about the debacle of Afghanistan all day long. We never won, matter of fact, we were embarrassed in what can only be classified as victory for the Taliban.

Ronald Reagan was once asked how he defined success in the Cold War. He responded as only Reagan could, “we win, they lose”. And indeed, the Soviet Union lost that ideological conflagration. But in these most recent years we have failed to properly identify the enemy, and unleash our strength against them. Case in point, the moniker “War on Terror” is insidious. Terror is a tactic, we did not engage in World War II against the “blitzkrieg” or “kamikaze.” No, we fought that war against Naziism (national socialism), fascism (Italy), and imperialism (Japan). We have failed to clearly focus on militant Islamic jihadism as a dangerous ideology and defeat it…instead we seek to dismiss, appease, and in terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, Iranian nuclear agreement) fund it with billions of dollars.

We have become embroiled in a regional conflict between Russia and Ukraine when all we need to do is leverage our energy independence and export those oil and gas resources. The Germans went into Romania in WW II because of the Ploesti oil fields. Japan was angered when we cut off oil shipments. Energy security is a policy tool that is effective in undermining our most threatening opposition, OPEC+.

We don’t win anymore because there are those who just have forgotten what winning means, and some do not want to win. We do not win wars anymore not because of the men and women in uniform, but rather those at the strategic/political decision-making level. Clausewitz advanced the theory of the paradoxical trinity – the government, the military, the people – as a combined strength of Nation. Sun Tzu said that “to know yourself, know your enemy, and know the battle environment” you will always be victorious in battle.

We are not winning wars because we are not reading the classical military strategists and applying their time-honored principles.

Lt. Col. Allen West (ret.) is the Executive Director of the American Constitutional Rights Union and ACRU Action Fund. He is a constitutional conservative, combat veteran, and former member of the U.S. Congress.

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PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Here’s your answer:

1) Poorly defined missions by the administrations putting our armed forces in harm’s way. We used to understand that war meant completely eliminating an immediate or near-term threat to the country by use of overwhelming force until the enemy no longer had the ability to pose a threat. There were clearly defined targets and objectives to be achieved to reach that goal.

2) Absurd rules of engagement used by the modern military. Anyone who has seen active duty or even read accounts of recent so-called wars will understand how the U.S. military goes into most battles with one or even sometimes two hands tied behind their backs.

3) No clearly defined endgame or goal. See Item 1. Basically, the armed forces are used as some sort of international cop / political big stick to be thrown into situations which may or may not even necessitate a military response. It’s just lazy or incompetent politicians looking to get a hot button off their plate and onto someone else’s. All while handicapping the military’s ability to achieve a decisive win.

I’m sure I left something out, but you get the general idea. War should be the last resort when all other options have been tried and failed. However, if you are sending American troops into battle you should give them the freedom to actually win.

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

YOU CANNOT WIN A WAR WITH ONE HAND TIED BEHIND YOUR BACK WHICH IS CUSTOMARY FOR THE u. s. ARMED FORCES

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

No true leadership and Zero Energy Independence is why we haven’t won.

Letts Brandon
Letts Brandon
1 year ago

This article would be true if we went to war with the goal of winning in the first place. Wars are now mostly ran by the UN with members of the CFR in leadership positions in our government directing our troops. The goal of both of these organizations along with many others who are also involved is a one world government, and generally, promoting communism. When our troops are sent in the goal is not to promote independence and freedom but to create chaos and dispare thereby leaving the country open to communist government rescue/control. Once we have destroyed hopes and dreams and the economy we pull out leaving only their wish for peace at any cost. Welcome to the USSA.

Gonzo
Gonzo
1 year ago

… the president of Ukraine is, a CIA asset. The CIA runs the Ukraine, which serves as a money laundering operation, for corrupt Washington DC politicians, and U.S. corporations. Ukraine also serves as a black site, for the manufacturing of illegal bio-weapons, for NATO. The only national interest America has in the Ukraine is, clandestine. Billions in U.S. taxpayer funds are dumped into the Ukraine, millions get kicked back, to American politicians, no one ever the wiser –

Michael J
Michael J
1 year ago

Col. West is a great patriot and the finest of America man. He is a great example of what are weak ass leaders should be.
God help this country.

Richard Shelton
Richard Shelton
1 year ago

Col. West should be our ‘Secretary of Defense’. The end.

Sharon Ormsby
Sharon Ormsby
1 year ago

Colonel West should be back in action.

Rik
Rik
1 year ago

It’s because there’s No Urgency Anymore! . . . Since it’s only the offspring of the Middle and Lower Classes and NOT THE WEALTHY, there’s Less Urgency to Win! The WEALTHY don’t care if their offspring aren’t at risk, after all, they make money selling to the military!

JamesP.
JamesP.
1 year ago

I WILL ALWAYS have trust and faith in the men and women in uniform who risk their lives in the places they are sent. The Command (at least those in Washington) need grow a pair and command again.. Our Enemies could give a flying ***k about feelings.

Casey C Matt
Casey C Matt
1 year ago

“We” haven’t won a war since the Spanish American War. “We” didn’t win WW1……”we” were only involved for 111 days in that conflict yet still managed to lose around 300,000 soldiers. “We” didn’t win WW2………..check out which country killed the most Germans and which country lost the most soldiers in winning that conflict. Rhymes with Krusha if ya dont happen to know. Now we are responsible for defeating the Japanese in a conflict with them that WE started (research “the McCullom Memorandum). So I guess there is that…….even though Japan is about the size of……..New Jersey with MUCH less oil.
“We” as a major nation have got to hold the record for being involved in the most losses of all nations. To be fair we have partnered with others in “winning” conflicts so at least we used to be good at picking sides.
Paper tiger comes to mind. But thats just me.

Hdrydr
Hdrydr
1 year ago

Our “military” is run by a bunch of limp wristed pantywaist sissies. They are the “brass”. The regular troops have no role models except a bunch of circus geeks with shiny ribbons and medals they won for taking a crap by themselves.

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

A large majority of the American public do not understand and not willing to tolerate what it takes to win a war – kill a lot of people and utterly destroy their resources for waging war in the future. The regressives believe we can talk to our enemies and they will be reasonable because after all – we all love one another – right? We need to utterly defeat enemies and so, so many people don’t understand what is involved in doing this.

Tom
Tom
1 year ago

Cia invilvement by there use of movable line in the sand. The military industrial complex in making money.

P2burner
P2burner
1 year ago

…”We are focused on pronouns use, according to a disturbing ideological agenda…”
Military pronouns should be “Sir”, and “Yes, Sir”. Anything else is just noise.

phoenix
phoenix
1 year ago

Winning wars is for suckers. Its much more profitable to just keep them going for as long as possible. Vietnam and the GWOT showed that clearly. Ukraine is the next example.

A fiat system of money REQUIRES ever more currency to be created. This system is coming to an end, and a new one is needed and a world war is going to help bring it in.

Thus endless war, the Federal bank bailouts,taking government taking over college loans ( soon to be free to all),and all banking deposits regardless being backed.

lol the FDIC has only a penny of all deposits in its (“insurance account”) only a few billion to cover TRILLIONS. Bank reserve requirements went to ZERO Years ago.

You retired folk better get wise and GET OUT OF THE DOLLAR. Or you will be eating cat food (if you can afford it)

dollars are as plentiful as sand on the beach (and just as valuable)

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

Excellent article Colonel West.
You hit the nail on the head.

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

SIMPLE.. THE U. S. FIGHTS WAR WITH ONE HAND TIED BEHIND THEIR BACK. TO MANY LIMITATIONS. BINGO. DEPORT ALL liberals, illegals AND THE ONCE HONORABLE, fbi, STAT, TO MAGA.

Jeanette
Jeanette
1 year ago

Thanks fir the article…just hoping that people will read and digest it. But many don’t care and are more worried about gender and climate issues. Education needs to concentrate on world history…Here we are with China taking over…China’s goal has always been to rule the world. Sad that most Americans live in their small world…too lazy to find out whats going on around them and do their part to protect our Republic.

Gloria
Gloria
1 year ago

Briefly, we no longer win wars: Firstly: The U.S. has killed over 6 million unborn babies and is continuing to kill more. There is no respect for life.It has transformed into grooming and mutilating children. Biden has been selling us out for over 40 years (Biden Crime Family) Biden/Obama/Soros took out the gas pipelines, and then set us up for bank failure (another intentional criminal act) /Obama and the other corrupt greedy elites put Chinese professors in our Universities to teach our children Marxists’ ways; Before all this Pelosi and crime friends rigged the 2020 election to install an unelected president. Fauci, Collins, Pfizer, Modena, etc. did a ‘gain of function’ on the coronavirus containing Spike Protein, mRNA gene manipulation, and other poisonous ingredients to “lower the population” a.k.a. murder, in agreement with Universities, health institutions, employment places and even the Vatican. They have tried and tried again to get rid of Trump, so they could ultimately get rid of us, but God has intervened because of our prayers and God was the one who chose Trump for such a time as this. They are still trying to eliminate more of the population with their bioweapon they like to call a “pandemic” and still trying to eliminate Trump via Soros – who has no business getting into our justice system. So, we keep praying. Asking God for mercy, as we are not all murderers. But ultimately, it is God we will need to stop all this cruelty, hatred and complete disrespect for God. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and there is no fear of the Lord. But only selfishness and greed.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago

Because we elect imbeciles!

CB
CB
1 year ago

Milley is too busy worrying about what color underwear he has to wear
Today. Lloyd is just filling another quota. And the senile in chief doesn’t know what day it is. And what can I say about cackles that hasn’t been already said. No wonder we can’t win a war.

John Vettel, LtCol, USAF(Ret)
John Vettel, LtCol, USAF(Ret)
1 year ago

I could not agree with LtCol West more! I flew over 100 combat missions in Vietnam. Got what!

That’s just all there is.
That’s just all there is.
1 year ago

You don’t win wars anymore because you were never a good soldier.

Creswell A Scott
Creswell A Scott
1 year ago

Great article by Col. West. He could teach soldiers how to be soldiers.

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Here’s your answer:

1) Poorly defined missions by the administrations putting our armed forces in harm’s way. We used to understand that war meant completely eliminating an immediate or near-term threat to the country by use of overwhelming force until the enemy no longer had the ability to pose a threat. There were clearly defined targets and objectives to be achieved to reach that goal.

2) Absurd rules of engagement used by the modern military. Anyone who has seen active duty or even read accounts of recent so-called wars will understand how the U.S. military goes into most battles with one or even sometimes two hands tied behind their backs.

3) No clearly defined endgame or goal. See Item 1. Basically, the armed forces are used as some sort of international cop / political big stick to be thrown into situations which may or may not even necessitate a military response. It’s just lazy or incompetent politicians looking to get a hot button off their plate and onto someone else’s. All while handicapping the military’s ability to achieve a decisive win.

I’m sure I left something out, but you get the general idea. War should be the last resort when all other options have been tried and failed. However, if you are sending American troops into battle you should give them the freedom to actually win.

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

YOU CANNOT WIN A WAR WITH ONE HAND TIED BEHIND YOUR BACK WHICH IS CUSTOMARY FOR THE u. s. ARMED FORCES

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

No true leadership and Zero Energy Independence is why we haven’t won.

Letts Brandon
Letts Brandon
1 year ago

This article would be true if we went to war with the goal of winning in the first place. Wars are now mostly ran by the UN with members of the CFR in leadership positions in our government directing our troops. The goal of both of these organizations along with many others who are also involved is a one world government, and generally, promoting communism. When our troops are sent in the goal is not to promote independence and freedom but to create chaos and dispare thereby leaving the country open to communist government rescue/control. Once we have destroyed hopes and dreams and the economy we pull out leaving only their wish for peace at any cost. Welcome to the USSA.

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