Hamilton: Our mismanaged, modern military (column)
February 21, 2017
Winning: Can the new régime get us back on track? During the 20th Century, we Americans can claim to have won many wars. But from the end of World War II to today, not so much. The Korean War, due to restricted, but wise, geographic restraints, was a draw. Our military, although handicapped by LBJ's and McNamara's micromanaged Rules of Engagement, performed miraculously in Vietnam and took every hill but one: Capitol Hill. Count Vietnam as a tactical victory and a strategic loss. Despite our Cold War military ups, downs, and diplomatic mistakes, we managed to hold off militarily the advance of Soviet Communism until 1991 when Communism's flawed economic model and disregard of basic human needs and aspirations brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Via operations in Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989) our post-VN military learned some valuable lessons about joint operations and, by 1990, was ready to chase Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Post-9/11, our military performed brilliantly in the anti-Al-Qaeda operations in Afghanistan in 2001-2002, and during the quick defeat of Saddam's Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, in 2003. But, with the exception of the Surge in Iraq (2007), it has been pretty much downhill ever since; mostly, due to failures of intelligence gathering and analysis, failures of political will, failures of statesmanship, and, most of all, lack of a clear vision of our national interests and those of other nations, both allied and hostile.
Like President Trump or not, the election of 2016 revealed a rejection of the way the Eastern Establishment elites who inhabit Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, Langley, and the Ivy League universities have managed our foreign and military affairs since the end of World War II. Under their management, we have lost hundreds of thousands of young men and women and spent trillions of dollars to attain a number of Pyrrhic victories, mixed with a few Waterloo-like defeats.
So, now what? We must make our vital national interests crystal-clear to all and enforce our vital interests with a restored military based on combat readiness and not on experiments in social engineering. Where possible, we should accommodate the vital interests of other nations. But those nations who think it is the duty of the American taxpayers to defend their vital interests must realize that Uncle Sam is back and Uncle Sugar is gone. That said, we should continue to embrace collective-security arrangements that serve our vital national interests.
But, most of all, we must recognize our friends and foes for what they are. Just as proper medical diagnosis is half the cure, proper identification of those whose would threaten our existence is essential to our national survival. For example: Radical Islam is a political/military movement wrapped in the clothing of a religion. Radical Islam is not a religion deserving of our 1st Amendment protections. Moreover, our closest neighbors: Mexico and Canada bear careful observation. Canadian Premier Trudeau's open-border policy provides radical Islam easy access to our interior, even to Alaska. Mexico's officials, not the Mexican people, are hostile to our national interests. That said, we cannot shrink back into a Fortress America. What we can do is sweep away Washington's too-often-failed Ancien Régime and pray the new régime will do better job.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.