The most foolish war in more than 2000 years

by Volker Weber

A few interesting quotes:

What had to come, has come. The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon — and at what cost.

...today's armed forces are the products of a technology-driven revolution in military affairs. Whether that revolution has contributed to anything besides America's national debt is open to debate.

Therefore, simply abandoning equipment or handing it over to the Iraqis, as was done in Vietnam, is simply not an option. ... For all intents and purposes, Washington might just as well hand over its weapons directly to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Clearly, then, the thing to do is to forget about face-saving and conduct a classic withdrawal.

Who said this? A "liberal"? Hardly.

Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University, is author of "Transformation of War" (Free Press, 1991). He is the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers.

Go read the whole story.

Comments

Oh come on now.... I'm sure we generally agree on a lot of things regarding this topic, but that assessment is just over the top. War is always foolish to some degree but the last century has lots of even worse examples. That guy needs to get a grip.

Arthur Fontaine, 2005-11-30

So, Arthur, what exit strategy would you propose?
Abandon all hardware, evacuate and nuke the place?

Karsten W. Rohrbach, 2005-11-30

@Arthur: What part of the assessment did you think is over the top? It seemed quite logical to me and the guy is an expert in his field...

John Keys, 2005-11-30

The assessment that it was the most foolish war in over 2000 years.... Parse that statement. There are people who like to pretend the US invented war. Look, I agree with the error of this war. I just think folks have REALLY short memories, especially in Europe. I actually had a Norwegian guy in Stockholm tell me a couple years ago that the US deserved people flying jetliners into office buildings. That kind of talk just isn't helpful -- or credible.

Arthur Fontaine, 2005-12-01

The assessment that it was the most foolish war in over 2000 years.... Parse that statement.

Seems to be easily parsable. :-) Let's parse yours.

There are people who like to pretend the US invented war.

I actually don't see this in his assessment and also not in his background.

Look, I agree with the error of this war. I just think folks have REALLY short memories, especially in Europe.

Does not seem to apply here. Or do you seriously want to accuse a historian scholar of short memory?

I actually had a Norwegian guy in Stockholm tell me a couple years ago that the US deserved people flying jetliners into office buildings.

This incident also seems to be unrelated to the assessment.

That kind of talk just isn't helpful -- or credible.

Right.

Volker Weber, 2005-12-01

I don’t understand how this kind of assessment can be interpreted as “US-bashing”. I guess some Americans are somewhat sensitive given how much bashing does go on, and that’s understandable. But there is really nothing controversial in van Creveld’s piece, nor is it taking shots at America per se, just her iffy administration.

Ben Poole, 2005-12-01

Even "an expert in his field" should hesitate to make so many predictions stated so firmly ... according to this article, ESPECIALLY an expert.

Steve Chrysostom, 2005-12-02

His statement:

"Whether that revolution (technology/expense) has contributed to anything besides America's national debt is open to debate."

makes me wonder what equipment he's talking about, or it's usefulness. If you had told people 40 years ago that we'd have only lost 2,200 troops in a war like this (to this point) they'd think you were the one being foolish, and it is due (a large part) to technology that fewer soliders are killed on the battlefield. Relative to that, I don't think anyone could state that the expense wasn't worth it. What's a soldier's live worth? A lot more than it was in earler wars, when taken with regards to how the soldiers were used.

You could also state that equipment in Vietnam was left behind because it was cheaper to leave behind than take. Anything of value (security or monetary) was most likely removed from Vietnam.

"For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them...."

I can't think of a more foolish war than WWI when millions of men died on the battlefieds in Europe. Trench warfare and the willingness of the leaders at that time to use men as if they were weapons themselves, leaving Europe devastated, France so drained of men that they were unable to fight Germany in WWII, chemical warfare, running men in direct charges against water-cooled machine gun fire - what was more foolish than that?

. Worse than that was the fact that the "peace" that came out of WWI lead directly to WWII, another devastation.

How can WWI not be considered anything but folly? His statement is hyperbole when taken relative to WWI. Could probably come up with more examples, but that one sticks out as the most horrific.

Jon Johnston, 2005-12-03

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