Skip to comments.Never Fight a Land War in Asia
Posted on 09/01/2011 5:43:07 PM PDT by AfricanChristian
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at West Point, said last week that Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined. In saying this, Gates was repeating a dictum laid down by Douglas MacArthur after the Korean War, who urged the United States to avoid land wars in Asia. Given that the United States has fought four major land wars in Asia since World War II Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq none of which had ideal outcomes, it is useful to ask three questions: First, why is fighting a land war in Asia a bad idea? Second, why does the United States seem compelled to fight these wars? And third, what is the alternative that protects U.S. interests in Asia without large-scale military land wars?
The Hindrances of Overseas Wars
Lets begin with the first question, the answer to which is rooted in demographics and space. The population of Iraq is currently about 32 million. Afghanistan has a population of less than 30 million. The U.S. military, all told, consists of about 1.5 million active-duty personnel (plus 980,000 in the reserves), of whom more than 550,000 belong to the Army and about 200,000 are part of the Marine Corps. Given this, it is important to note that the United States strains to deploy about 200,000 troops at any one time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that many of these troops are in support rather than combat roles. The same was true in Vietnam, where the United States was challenged to field a maximum of about 550,000 troops (in a country much more populous than Iraq or Afghanistan) despite conscription and a larger standing army.
(Excerpt) Read more at stratfor.com ...
Since when was Iraq in Asia? Maybe in Britain’s “Asia,” but not U.S. Asia.
Technically it is on the asian continent.
You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never to get involved in a land war in Asia. And only slightly less well known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!
Correction, any future def. sec. who advises the president to engage in a land war should make sure the house of reps is not made up of spineless libtards..
They're the ones who lost Vietnam, not our military.........and they're the ones who tried to undermine Bush and cause another defeat in Iraq.
How about no oversea wars, simply due to the fact we constrain our military to fight in a “politically correct” fashion.
Nothing like restricting the greatest military in the world.
We can’t even use them to guard our own border.
Good grief, my head hurts.
Iraq has always been in Asia.
So has Afghanistan.
Same with Pakistan in that undeclared war we’re fighting there.
Next thing you know we’ll be going up against Sicilians when death is on the line.
It is doubtful that the Germans would have capitulated to the Americans alone.
So we can’t win a Western land war either. Canada may need to start sweating.
Because American culture and Asian cultures consider warfare differently. Derived from European sensibilities, we play warfare like a game. Asians have a much longer history of warfare than we do, and generally, a much more savage one. We're simply not willing to play as savagely as they are, so when we arrive at 'victory', our 'victims' generally don't recognize it. Hiroshima and Nagasaki being the only notable variation, and one that Asians culturally understood right away.
It sounds trite, but it's not. Lives are much cheaper and expendable in Asian warfare, and always have been. Political power is not really recognized until some level of potential savagery has been established. It doesn't have to be followed through on, but they have to know that you're willing and able to go all the way to win.
Second, why does the United States seem compelled to fight these wars?
These nations are often ruled by people who value life cheaply, and see violence as a valid means of expanding political and economic influence. (This was true before Communism as it was after). Being civilized quote unquote, we are naturally going to come in conflict with these elements.
And third, what is the alternative that protects U.S. interests in Asia without large-scale military land wars?
The only thing that causes the warlord mentality to stay his hand it a consequence that makes his actions not worth the risk. That consequence has to be personal to the leader, credible, and practically unavoidable.
Since we generally force ourselves to fight wars against nations and not men, we encourage warlords to fight us. A policy of assassination, either in the classic sense, or in blitzkrieg-type regime changes followed by putting a new faction in power and leaving right away, would de-incentivize enemies to fight us.
If a tough, troublemaking leader knows that if he starts trouble with us, we'll either kill him, or put his family and tribe under the rule of his hated enemies and then leave (leaving them defenseless against retribution), then it makes causing us trouble not worth the effort.
In short, the biggest threat America faces to fighting wars is our own moral vanity.
Actually, I knew about not fighting land wars in Asia, a long time ago, before Vietnam. I think I heard it from General Eisenhower?
Why not have our military do something useful, and more important, like guarding our border with Mexico?
How would we even know we won in Afghanistan? We will never turn Afghanistan into a Switzerland type country. The Afghans don’t like us, and never will like us.
Ah yes, The Princess Bride, a film that will likely remain a long-time classic.
Who is that?
Well, originally, conditions of winning was killing bin Laden and the other AQ head honchos, I am not so sure about that being it nowadays though.
First we would have to have a definition of what “winning in Afghanistan” means.
nearly 10 years in I still haven’t heard one.
I thought Bin Laden was in Pakistan? Everybody knew for years and years Bin Laden was in Pakistan. Why would you fight in Afghanistan to kill Bin Laden when he is in Pakistan? Are the street lights better in Afghanistan?
American character actor and writer Wallace Shawn
You should be glad Americans don’t fight like the Waffen SS or the Red Army (with the NKVD behind their backs to make sure that ‘deserters’ are shot).
What distinguishes America from all other great powers is the respect for human rights. It does not diminish you, it makes you stronger.
Now, even if you fought like the Red Army there is no way you could subdue 1.3 billion Chinese on their home turf, if they decided to go asymmetrical. Appreciate that fact and live with it.
You still have dominance on air and sea, enjoy it while it lasts.
Seems like if an Asian country declares war on us there are only two options: surrender or nuke the bastards.
And quess what, folks?
The Iraqis are... Asians!
As are Israelis.
As are the Russians east of the Ural mountains.
And you thought politically correctly that it was Chinamen and other Orientals who were ‘Asian’!
You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” - but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...
[Vizzini stops suddenly, his smile frozen on his face and falls to the ground dead]
Live with it, be glad, and enjoy it while it lasts?...
I’ll do that thank you.
Good article but six months old. Gates speech discussed here.
Where is it? Africa? Europe? I think Churchill referred to it as West Asia.
Fighting a lad war is not the problem. Fighting against a group using guerrilla warfare tactics and not being prepared to chase them wherever they hide and kill them is the problem.
Winning is changing the political order on the ground.
Americans have won all the wars they have fought since ww2.
The magic bar of winning= disneylands forever in foreign lands is ridiculous and we would do well to ignore it.
If the Taliban or other adverse groups come back— its no because they defeated the miltiary. Its certainly because we have withdrawn. The same is true of Vietnam.
An interesting article and worth reading, whether you agree with it or not. I could write paragraphs about my own thoughts; some would agree and others disagree. Some highlights:
1. Don’t start a war until you know how you will end it. (This obviously does not apply if you are attacked).
2. There is no such thing as a ‘limited’ war. The lesson we did not learn in Korea.
3. Know who you are fighting, and what their motivation is. Lesson we should have learned from Viet Nam.
I could go on, but it is late and I am tired.
Never fight a land war in Asia, while so many foreign interests are making policies in the USA. If our forefathers had temporarily closed our borders between 1850 and 1920, we wouldn’t be having such problems.
Here’s something that Stratfor and other global business interest groups should learn more about. Quotes from the words of George Washington:
“Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?”
“Nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded...The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”
And one for foreign interests that crept into our government at all levels before completely becoming real Americans.
Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.
“Never fight a land war in Asia” was a bit wrong, considering that history has quite a few land wars in Asia!
That's "asians" as in Tungushic or Chinese peoples -- the peoples of East and South-East Asia and Central Asia
The Persians had a more "noble" way of fighting as did the various Vedic and pre-Islamic era Hindus in South Asia.
The Mongolic-Turks were just mean, mean -- they massacred much of the Persians -- what is now Central Asia was at one time the Persian satraps of Bactria, Sogdiana and Khwarezm
I'm not sure I believe that. Being able to field larger armies does not mean your history is longer or more savage.
Even in the Middle East, Iran wouldn't do it, but maybe some mad Arab state might. Pakistan might
Against the Islamics only nooks are the only way.
most Americans wouldn't be there -- I'm sure most of us have Irish or Italian or Polish or Russian or Eastern European Jewish or Dutch or German roots.
In the era 4000 BC to 2000 BC, the big states were Egypt, Sumeria, Akkadia, Mohenjo-daro and the Sung kingdom. The first 4 were in constant contact with each other and had trade with each other
2000 BC to 600 BC, you have the rise of stronger states and Empires like the Egyptian, Hittite and finally neo-Assyrian.
600 BC to 100 AD you have the rise of successive Empires that give birth to each other somewhat: the Persian, Macedonian, Diodeci, Roman, Carthaginian and the Magadhan, Guptan etc.
His mistake is assuming the ‘call to fight’ in these areas, or any area for that matter does not include the option to nuke the b!tches till they need 50,000 sun block.
I’d like to keep the Polish and Jewish folks here, too. The rest may go. ;-)
oh, I’m not Polish, but the wife is :)
Then you are blessed. I foolishly let a Polish-American one go (intimidated by her father being an instructor at the university) and married one of southern Italian descent instead. After a year or two, it was like being in the middle of The Spectacle for a time. I worked as much as possible and volunteered for extra National Guard duties, until she finally flew away in the night. ;-)
yes, I am blessed — we met in Church too :)