Sunday, May 01, 2011

Days not weeks

When the United States and its allies went to war in Libya five and a half weeks ago, it wasn't supposed to be much of a war at all. U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to intervene was based on the assumption that nearby states more directly impacted by the state of affairs in Libya, such as Britain and France, would lead the charge. The United States, according to Obama, would lead with "days, not weeks" of military action, thus "shaping the conditions for the international community to act together."

I see the Current Occupant [1] did not have this excellent book on his required reading list before he took took office:

Still clouded by obscurity and confused by myths, the process of warfare is misunderstood by most of us. The mass media helps create and perpetuate many myths. Often the appointed experts are equally ill-informed.

When a war breaks out, these myths gradually become apparent as distortions. Operating on these misunderstandings, leaders and citizens are much more likely to get involved in wars, or make the ones they have forced on them even more expensive. One of the constraints of history is that a nation rarely goes to war until it has convinced itself that victory is attainable and worth the cost. In reality, warfare is never worth the cost for those who start them. Instigators of wars invariably come to regret it. Real warfare is ugly, destructive, and remembered fondly only by those who survived it without getting too close.

'How to Make War: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Warfare in the Twenty-First Century' by James F. Dunnigan.

[1] I don't keep up: is Garrison Keillor still calling the President this?

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