When Will We Ever Learn

When Will We Ever Remember


If we must fight we will fight, you may kill ten of use for one of you, but in the end it is you who will tire”

Ho Chi Minh

By Christopher C.L. Custer, M.D.

So now we have placed an additional brigade formation of soldiers in the Middle East. Ostensibly, to show Iran we mean business and to protect our assets (financial investments) in the region.Granted this is a highly trained brigade and a big force multiplier, possibly a significant addition to the already 50,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, and airmen in the Middle East. I see two things with President Trump’s action. First this President Trump’s modus operandi, a publicity stunt-putting american soldiers lives on the line- to show america he’s a tough guy against Iran. He touts his "peace" treaty for the Middle East. The Iranians weren’t even invited to the meeting. A somewhat similar situation of how the czech question was approached before WW2 the Czech government was not part of the conference to determine the fate of the Czech state- only the british, french, and germans attended, with the Italians mediating.

The situation of our recent military actions against Iran is eerily similar to our involvement in Vietnam. There, initially we sent a Marine battalion to defend De Nang air force base. 6 years later we had half a million soldiers including support staff, doing offensive "search and destroy" missions. Somewhere a paradigm shift took place, from defense to offensive operations. The problem is we might have won every battle, but we lost the War. Similar thing are happening now in Afganistan. I do believe we would overwelmingly defeat Iran- in a conventional war, but how would we fare in an asymmetric war?So how do we fight asymmetric tactics used by terrorism? While we are willing to die for our country, the terrorists WANT to die for their country. Excuse me-cause not country. Granted, the U.S. is making huge advances in intelligence gathering capability and training our troops in asymmetric warfare tactics. We faced this problem before, in Vietnam where we fought a war of attrition which american society found unacceptable. Ho Chi Minh’s prediction was amazingly accurate. In WW2, using an unconventional tactic in a conventional war- were Japanese suicide Kamikaze tactics. However we didn’t stop every single one of them. So how do we stop every suicide bomber? Just one successful bombing and the American people will consider our military and government having failed to protect us. Most Americans will not tolerate our military’s explaination, of " acceptable casualties" or," acceptable collateral casualties" applying to OUR civilians. To most citizens, this may mean their son or daughter, their brother or sister or husband or wife not coming home. At the least, administrations and their parties would be voted out of office, at worse a strongman- full of empty promises and self importance, promising better security will be voted in. Hmmm kinda’ sounds like President Trump, doesn’t it. Okay the worst might would be four more years.

I’m sorry, but in my opinion is there is no such thing a "good" war. Perhaps General Sherman put it best when he said, "war is Hell". Yet, ironically, despite my pacifist views, I am fascinatined by military history. Maybe it’s me trying to take to heart George Santayana’s words when he said," If we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it". Will our leaders ever learn this lesson?