Wednesday, 26 May 2010

"War is politics prosecuted by other means..."

"I'm tired of hearing how the US really won the war in Vietnam. There's more to war than shiny aluminum and bigger guns - General Giap knew that, the US has still not learned this lesson. The former USSR did not learn it well, either.

War is politics prosecuted by other means. America (and many other Western nations) has somehow decided that war consists only of performance at arms, and all we hear is about how well our men and our arms did in this-or-that engagement. This is why we keep hearing how we flattened those NVA tanks in the spring of '72, or we kicked their asses at Ia Drang, or we smoked 'em out at ToraBora, or whatever the latest successful feat of arms may happen to be. All true, and every honour to those that fought there - and yet, the wars always seem to be lost, even as the battles are won.

Wars are fought and won by nations, not by armies. If social and political forces in the US caused the Vietnam war to be lost - you don't get to put a star in the scorebook and say 'well, we would have won if only X, Y and Z.' The end result is, what it is. Your enemy outfought you on the battlefield of nations - the fact that you might have sometimes beaten him in combat doesn't change that.

The same will be true in any military conflict in Korea. If you concentrate on the relatively-trivial issues of how the combat might play out - always the US approach, lately - you are almost-certain to lose in the conflict of nations. There's far more to this conflict than whether or not you can suppress artillery fire on day 1 or day 2."
- Commenter Llamas on this Samizdata thread on recent events in Korea. I - mostly - agree and feel the point deserves all the emphasis it can get.

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