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September 7, 2006

America’s Victories

(Why the U.S. wins wars and will win the war on terror)
Larry Schweikart – ISBN - 978-1595230218

Co-author of A Patriot’s History of the United States, Schweikart now explains his premise included in the title: historic review of activities and attitudes of the U.S. military thruout it’s 230 years. He, like many on the right, strongly favors the war in Iraq. His attitude might bother some, but it is not a reason to avoid this historically significant and interesting book, written for the average reader.

He begins by reviewing not only the attitudes of our military, but their origins, and further emphasizes that our armies have always reflected our population, as do its casualties. This is contrary to popular mythology and altogether unlike the rest of the world’s armies, past or present. Even Northeast sent its best to war until the 20th century, and Hollywood sent its best until Viet Nam.

Our military’s views are shaped by our Judeo-Christian heritage. Life, charity and human worth are represented differently than in most. We never trade the lives of our military for positive press. We do our best to avoid “collateral damage.” We never leave casualties behind on the battlefield. We rescue our POW’s when possible. Did you know (I didn’t!) that we invaded the Philippines solely free the Philippine and American prisoners--as a matter of honor? The Philippines were insignificant militarily.

He reviews the Vietnam and Iraq wars quite differently than you will read most places, and opines that we could, and should have won in Viet Nam. Even with our departure the South Vietnamese could have prevailed had congress not defunded them. That’s now worth remembering. That and what happened in Viet Nam and Cambodia after we abandoned them.

The despised and mistrusted “Military-Industrial Complex” is explored as he demonstrates the major role of the private sector in providing the physical means by which we win wars: R&D, high technology, with more and better weapons. The book is full of vignettes of battle which explain the value of our sophisticated weaponry as well as the training, skill and independence (private enterprise) of the men who use them.

He is harsh on the anti-war demonstrators, noting that their violence is hardly pacific, and observes that this carping drives our military to be even more cautious, more lethal, and more protective of ourselves and innocent life on the other side; precisely the opposite of the intention.

As for the “brutality” of the American troops, he compares ladies underpants on the head of a terrorist to videotaped beheadings. Of course there is some cruelty. It is, after all, war, and every war includes some. The difference is that we prosecute those who violate our rules while our adversaries don’t. In fact, they have no rules to break and are held to no visible standard. Barbarism is accepted. In the “shame and honor” culture of our current opponents, even simple supervision by a female is humiliating. Still, if you were a prisoner would you rather be beheaded, or held on a leash by a female Non-Com? Ironically it is apparent that they prefer beheading. Death before dishonor has a peculiar, non-Western ring amongst Muslims.

His critique of the opposition to the “Star Wars” missile defense is withering. He demolishes the Left by documenting that the Soviets feared it above all else. They were confident that we would succeed, and since the best weapon is the one you never have to use, Star Wars reigns supreme in that it was a technology which hadn’t even been deployed!

Determinate attitudes of Americans which prohibit losing wars are explicated. We abhor war, want it to be over quickly, value all human life, and are prepared to do what we must to win . . . as quickly as possible. Ernie Pyle wrote that “[most] of us wanted terribly, [if] only academically, for the war to be over. The front line soldier wanted it to be terminated by the physical process of his destroying enough Germans to end it. He was truly at war.”

“It took a warrior ethos of courage and decisiveness to invade Iraq . . . [and] it will take even greater heroism to defeat Iran and Syria and crush Islamofascist fundamentalism once and for all.” That comment will mystify some and anger others, but the military is ready and willing . . . and more than able! Are we?

Eisenhower once commented that Hitler should be wary of an enraged democracy. We did not muster a response to the bombings in Beirut, the Trade Center in 1993, the African embassies or the attack on the USS Cole. It took 9/11 to get our attention. Now we seem to have forgotten. He feels it will require another attack far more deadly than 9/11 to unleash our willingness and alloy it to our ability.

But, we will do it, and we will win, once we have decided we’ve had enough.

I sincerely hope that he is correct. I am not confident that the West has the will to validate itself, thus to prevail. The collective we is insufficiently vocal about the value of our culture, and increasingly irresolute recently. That has to change before we can rise to our defense.

Posted by respeto at September 7, 2006 9:00 AM