Monday, October 22, 2012

War is Hell

General of the Army of the United States
William Tecumseh Sherman
1820 - 1891
"War is cruelty. There's no use trying to reform it, the crueler it is the sooner it will be over.
"War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want."
- William Tecumseh Sherman
The good general knew what he was talking about. These two quotes attributed to him summarize my personal beliefs concerning war. If you're going to get into one, don't screw around. Otherwise just surrender and accept the consequences. Don't waste the blood of your people if you're not in it to win.

Having a well-trained, well-equipped and well-supported military is an absolute necessity for any nation. In the first place to deter any potential enemy from attacking and in the second place to punish an enemy if they decide to attack anyway.

However, even if a nation has a well-trained, well-equipped and well-supported military, it is of no use whatsoever if the political will to properly use that military is absent.

Rational nations do not go to war. Those days are over. It is the irrational we must deal with, people so barbaric or utterly removed from humankind that they do not recognize reason. They understand one thing and one thing only. Force.

An armed force, once committed to war, is good at only two things: blowing things up and killing people. It cannot perform "nation building". It is most emphatically not a police force.

The idea is to inflict such punishment upon the enemy that they will either sue for peace or risk being utterly destroyed. It also sends a message to other potential enemies. Pour encourager les autres, as the French would say. Mess with us and die. That, to me at any rate, is the idea.

"Global Force for Good" - really? I do think we want to give our global neighbors the idea that we're the good guys. If you don't mess with us, we won't mess with you. If you're in trouble and need help, we'll do our best to help you out. In the latter case I'm thinking help on scene, bringing in relief supplies, evacuating the injured and generally being a good neighbor in the event of a disaster.

The whole point of the military is for deterrence in peace time and to blast the enemy to Hell in war time. That's it, in total, nothing else.

Before entering into a war, have an objective. Is it the destruction of the enemy's forces to compel him to quit the fight? (And not start it up again down the road.) Is it the retaking of a piece of real estate that rightfully belongs either to you or to an ally? What is the point of committing your armed forces to combat?

If the objective is hazy or unrealistic, do not go to war. Period. Full stop.

If you don't have the forces to commit, if the people do not support the effort. Do not go to war.

Do not go to war to give somebody the right to vote in some foreign land. If those folks want the right to vote, LET THEM FIGHT FOR IT!

Do not go to war to bring democracy to some foreign land. In many places in the world democracy is an alien concept. People are not the same no matter where they live. Different cultures and customs make people different. Sometimes those customs and cultures are similar to ours. Most times, they're not.

There are exceptions. Genocide is perhaps the worst crime one group of people can inflict on another group of people. That is worth going to war over. Go after the bastards committing that crime, slaughter them, cut them to pieces. Attack them and pound them until they either cease and desist, or simply cease to exist. Make any would-be dictator think twice before going on a rampage.

Do it because it's right, not because there's oil or other resources to be had. And once it's done, turn over the reins of power to the locals. Perhaps give them some aid to get their act together, but once they've got a handle on things, get out. It's their country, you've eradicated a threat now move on, go home.

If attacked, we go after the people who directed or ordered that attack. Kill them without mercy, track them down and kill them where they stand. Do not negotiate with them, do not bargain with them. If you leave the bastards in charge after launching a few cruise missiles, they will not be deterred. You want to make it hurt, you want to make it hurt so bad they would never, ever think of attacking you again. And if, for whatever reason, they do attack you again, punish them even worse the second time, leave not one brick standing upon another. Hit them and keep hitting them until there is nothing left to hit. Make them realize that attacking you is the stupidest thing they ever did.

And for pity's sake don't go after them in order to arrest them and bring them to trial. That's what police do. If you don't have the will to go after them, file a complaint with Interpol, and move on, no doubt with your tail between your legs!

War is horror. War is death and destruction. Those who would attack us must be made to understand that they will pay. And will pay dearly.

Go to war to WIN. Or learn to live with the consequences of doing not enough or doing nothing at all. There is no middle ground.

Any way, that's how I see it.

Rant complete.


  1. And anyone directly involved in war would agree. Lex well knew the words of Carl von Clausewitz who stated "War is an act of violence which in its application knows no bounds." However, since he also said "War Is Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means." Some of our politicians must think this means that you can continue to politick after you've shifted to a policy of violence. Half-assed application of war just drags it out, kills more Americans, and risks losing it all.

  2. I agree with all of your points; no exceptions what so ever. I DO take issue with the person in your illustration (I shall be kind here)... as my great-grandmother was a resident of Atlanta (albeit a very young child) when Sherman passed through on his way to the sea. That great Southern Belle would nearly spit at the mention of his name and nearly anything/everything having to do with DamnYankees (all one word, thank ya) and the War of Northern Aggression.

    I was indoctrinated at an early age. ;-)

    1. When I chose Sherman for this post I was fully expecting some of my Southern friends to take umbrage. But, you have to admit, the man was the very embodiment of the cruelty and brutality of war. To inflict such devastation on the South typifies the way one should wage war. It is unfortunate and horrifying, to say the very least, that such harm was inflicted on fellow Americans.

      Internal wars always seem to be the most brutal, and the War Between the States was no exception. Just look at the brutality which occurred during the Revolution between the Loyalists and the "Rebels".

      As Bobby Lee said, "It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it."

    2. I agree with your point, but Sherman sucks bit time.

    3. Bag Blog, obviously you're no fan of Sherman. As to "Sherman sucks big time" - so does war. I knew I was gonna catch hell from the South, but I did it anyway, to strengthen the point I was making. Guess it worked.

  3. My parents both grew up in Maine, cold nasty winters...when it became necessary to use 'the facilities', it was off to the outhouse, in the barn or the shed, but, never a place to linger & read the newspaper or a book or check email etc etc the spring the black flies were waiting for you when you left the house and stayed with you the entire bathroom experience, in the summer, well, the smell, 'nuff said and fall and winter, it ain't no place to hang around , decididng what to do having said all that, my feeling about war is the same as visiting the outhouse ...Crap or get off the pot! what is needed to be done and get back to the house!

    1. Wasn't quite sure where you were going with this comment at first Greg. But your final point was well worth the journey. Well said.

  4. About as clear a statement as I have ever read. Thank you.

    1. Thank you. I see from your profile that you're a fan of George MacDonald Fraser and the Flashman series. So am I!

  5. I heard, today, that a Royal Marine Commando and a female trooper/medic from 3 Medical Regiment were shot dead in yet another `green on blue` (I say `murder`) in Af. Then I read this post, thought of Sherman, faced with a task, faced with Atlanta. Hell it is. We've pissed about that piss pot of a place for way too long (s`cuse the coarse language sarge, but its a bad day).

    1. That sucks! Every time I hear of the deaths of some of our fine young men and women, I bleed inside. (And I do mean OUR. American or British doesn't matter to me. We're fighting the same fight.) And HD, I dinna mind the "coarse" language, especially when I agree with you whole-heartedly! It's high time we stopped "pissing about!"


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