We Are No Longer A Serious Nation

As a reader of the history of WWII, the term Rules of Engagement are something new, and may a product of minute to minute news, and 24 hour newscast.
I WWII, we killed mercilessly, not just indiscriminate bombing with dumb bombs, but on the battlefield we did things that we now categorize as War Crimes — like shooting surrendered soldiers, without trying the culprits.

It’s called “War.”

Along came Korea, where I won three Battle Stars at 17 years of age. That seems to be the transitional war. It was no longer “kill at any cost” but a United Nations approved war. Most of the fighting was so fierce that some activities were more like WWII, particularly by Turkish soldiers, but it became political when General McCarthur demanded the use of the Atomic Bomb, and pursuing the North Korean/Chinese Army to the Chinese border.

President Truman made an example of the General by publicly LBJ firing the hero of WWII and Korea, and I remember it well. General McCarthur was a potential Republican candidate, and Truman intended to not just scotch the concept of total victory in Korea, but killing the potential Republican candidate.

That was the war in which politics entered the battlefield. In WWII, there was a lot of politics between FDR, Churchill and Stalin; and politics between Eisenhower, Patton, and Montgomery, but once again it never got to the battlefield.

By Vietnam, it got to the battlefield — LBJ was picking targets from the the White House bedroom, and we didn’t want to actually win the war, we wanted to simply stop North Vietnam, so we didn’t do what needed to be done — destroy the dikes of North Vietnam, which we could have done with a single bombing raid. This would have flooded the country and won the war.

Let me tell yo a few personal experiences that show what was going on — I had one of two dredges that kept Haiphong Harbor silt-free in the crosshairs of my submarine, and I was not permitted to sink it!

A Classmate at Annapolis, who had two jets shot out after him and had been selected for the Blue Angels, resigned from the Navy. He told me that Ho Chi Minh had SAM Millie sites on his palace grounds shooting at my Classmate, and my Classmate was not permitted to shoot back. As my Classmate said, ” I had to go out and drop ordinance on some pajama-wearing farmer in a field!”

We see it now in the Middle East. Don’t think we could not defeat ISIL in a week? Of course we could — we are risk averse. We decide we want to do it with no deaths.

Can’t be done! Wining wars sometimes requires efforts — in WWII, we put 5,000 bombers over Berlin! Today, we run 20 bombing runs a day. Our Aircraft Carriers can complete that before breakfast!

We are no longer a serious nation!

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