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A Few Thoughts on War

~ War is an extension of politics and the result of failed statesmanshipmeaning

statesmanship must come first. If statesmanship fails, war may then be the course of
action necessary to preserve, protect and defend vital national concerns.

~ War should only result when a countrys vital interests are at stake and statesmanship
does fail. What are vital interests? Survival: economic, way of life or existence. Example:
Mid East oil, for better or worse, is vital to our way of life. A threat to cut off the supply
would cause our highly industrialized nation great harm thus seriously jeopardizing our
way of life. Taiwan does not meet that standard.

~ War is serious businessa foreign policy alternative that should not be determined by
feel good, altruistic and idealistic whims of those who will never have to fight them.

~ Foreign political alliances are dangerous. Such alliances have been the cause of many
wars in the past and were viewed as sufficiently precarious by the founders as to warrant
stern, yet sage, warnings. Such entangling alliances, as Jefferson and Washington called
them, made by politicians embarking on Don Quixotic type adventures has weakened us
over the years and obligated us in areas of the world in which we have no business or
national interest whatsoever.

~ The best time to prepare for war is during times of peace. This has been known for
generations but oft times forgottenparticularly right after the last war when politicians
are most apt to spend the "peace dividend" on dependency programs. Preparing for war
after a crisis is upon us is far too late. Constant preparation keeps us militarily strong and
potential enemies at bay without a shot being fired in anger.

~ Pick your fights carefully.

~ When committed, be totally committed. Overwhelming force is a necessity in war. If a

division is needed, send a corps. Theres no such thing as a cheap war. War on the cheap
leads to quagmires because you never have enough to finish the job. By following a
strategy of restraint, all you can ever do is sustain an on-going effort with never enough
capability to bring it to conclusion. Smashing a butterfly with a sledgehammer is a good
technique in warone that saves lives in the end.

~ Get in, get it done and get out. While getting in is often a slippery slope, the getting out
part has been a serious weakness for America. We always hang around and get ourselves
further entrenched in local problems and bail out countries that just months before we
bombed into oblivionEurope after WWI, WWII and Korea being prime examples.

~ Clearly identify and scope the strategic objectives before going in. This way you know
what success looks like and when you have achieved it. Shared and clear expectations
should be well known and realized beforehand. Crystallizing the objectives also tells you
when that job is done and when its time to leave.

~ Let those who can do it, do it. Once the political decision has been made to go to war,
turn the fight over to those trained to fight and let them fight it. Politicians are not
military strategists or tacticians. All the untrained can do is seriously hinder the effort.
Contrast Viet Nam with Desert Storm. President Johnson was picking individual and
specific bombing targets from the oval office during Viet Nam. In Desert Storm, the Bush
administration had the good sense to let General Schwarzkopf run the military operation.
What a difference in operations!

~ Support at home is paramount. This point just cannot be overemphasized. Again, I point
to the Viet Nam Vs Desert Strom experiencea most important difference as anyone
who lived through both eras can attest.

I believe these few points should always be thought out thoroughly and long-term
consequences examined before resorting to armed intervention. Our first reaction should
never be one of sending in the troops. Our soldiers should come into the picture only after
our statesmen have failed. They then should only be used judiciously to fight Americas
warsnot further entangle us worldwide, pick up garbage in some third world sewer or
divert attention from scandals at home.