Don’t Walk Away from War — It’s Not the American Way

| 6/16/2014 8:15:00 AM

American soldiers

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch.

The United States has been at war—major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, air strikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts, and covert actions—nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began. That’s more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions.

Given the historical record, those conclusions should be staring us in the face. They are, however, the words that can’t be said in a country committed to a military-first approach to the world, a continual build-up of its forces, an emphasis on pioneering work in the development and deployment of the latest destructive technology, and a repetitious cycling through styles of war from full-scale invasions and occupations to counterinsurgency, proxy wars, and back again.

So here are five straightforward lessons—none acceptable in what passes for discussion and debate in this country—that can be drawn from that last half century of every kind of American warfare:

1. No matter how you define American-style war or its goals, it doesn’t work. Ever.

10/26/2015 4:15:23 PM

The simple facts of history show this post to be borderline delusional. The US at war has saved the world from Naziism and Imperial Japan. Imagine what the world would be like if those wars had been lost.

7/11/2014 6:57:35 PM

Clinton's bombing of Serbia stands as a conflict that was fought for humanitarian reasons and resolved ie won. Although it's certainly debatable, one could argue that the mere projection of military force has prevented war, say between China and her neighbors or between Russia and Ukraine. I agree wholeheartedly that intervention in the Islamic world has been a complete disaster.

7/11/2014 12:41:53 PM

The argument for point 5 is insufficient. If an organization is not the finest X, for any value of X, then there is a finer. Identify it.