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Thread: How to Lose a War: A Primer

  1. #1
    Council Member
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    Oct 2005

    Default How to Lose a War: A Primer

    I much appreciate a friend sending the link to this most interesting read on zenpundit's blog. In addition to providing some provocative insights on why we failed in Iraq and Afghanistan (most in my opinion are hard to argue with), it reminds me that I need to start visited this blog again. I used to visit regularly and it is clear Zen still maintains his high standards.

    Since Pakistan is now attempting to get its victory over the United States in Afghanistan formally ratified, now seemed to be a good time to reflect on the performance of American statesmen, politicians and senior generals.

    It has occurred to me that we have many books and papers outlining how to win wars. Certainly the great classics of The Art of War, The History of the Peloponnesian War and On War are the foremost examples, but there are also other useful classics in the strategic canon, whole libraries of military histories, memoirs of great commanders and an infinite number of PDFs and powerpoint briefs from think tanks and consultants. Strangely, none of these have helped us much. Perhaps it is because before running this war so few of this generation’s “deciders” read them en route to their law degrees and MBAs
    A small sample from the post:

    Keeping in mind #1, the point of war policy is to generate a set of politically compelling slogans that remain ill-defined enough to serve as an umbrella under which many contradictory and competing agendas can cohabit until some of them can be opportunistically realized. These agendas may not be realistic – in fact, it is easier to put them forward as attractive fantasies for the public if your administration is unburdened with officials with genuine expertise in warfare, economics, foreign cultures, history and other inconvenient information that the media and the political opposition will only be too happy to seize upon. The more abstractly and arcanely expressed the policy the harder it is for critics to demolish and the better it is for losing wars.

  2. #2
    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Portland, OR


    My initial reaction to the article is that we (politicians, diplomats, governments, militaries) over think everything and that is why we fail. I'm coming to the conclusion that most of our failures are not due to not thinking things through, but over thinking. But, that's my initial reaction so I need to finish reading it, probably read it again and then comment. So, why comment? Because, that's what I do. It's the Scot in me

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