For most of my life with a few hiatuses the United States has been at war. It might have been called a police action, an intervention, an invasion, or something else but it has been at war. It has lost many of those wars. Have you ever wondered why?
For insight I recommend you read John Waters’s interview of Clausewitz scholar Donald Stoker at RealClearDefense. In it Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are all considered and, to some extent, the outcomes explained. Here’s a snippet:
No one blames the troops for our failures in Korea, Vietnam, or Afghanistan. Rather, it is “the political leaders who have forgotten that victory matters,” historian and Clausewitz scholar Donald Stoker told me recently over the phone. And since the politicians do not believe that victory matters, our troops have found themselves trapped in endless wars that lead to defeat or stalemate, a doom loop of poor planning-leads-to-poor results, where the pursuit of war itself becomes more important than defeat or victory.
The failure to pursue victory can take many forms from the civilian leadership failing to communicate the political goals to the military leadership to the political goals having been impossible from the start.
My own view is that we should never go to war unless failure is not an option.
We are presently at war with Russia. I am sure that many will disagree with that assessment but when you buy the weapon, transport the weapon to the battle zone, sight the target, aim the weapon, and do everything but pull the trigger, I think you’re at war and arguing differently is sophistry.
What are our political goals? Ukraine’s? Are we able to achieve them? Are we willing to achieve them?