One hopes for statesmen chastened by defeat. In this world of our hopes, the authors of catastrophe would discuss their mistakes with the humility, introspection, and sense of disgrace these mistakes deserve. Decisions that led to death—death in its thousands and hundreds of thousands—would be examined with probing honesty. The decision makers behind them would be seized with a fierce guilt and urgency. They would quest to understand the nature of their errors. They would incessantly press upon us the lessons of experience, gripped with fear that the next generation might repeat their calamities.
One can imagine such a statesman, chastened by defeat. Douglas Feith is not he.
Twenty years ago a nation comfortable but aimless was thrust by violence into a new reality. “Does anybody but me feel upbeat, and guilty about it?,” asked one conservative columnist a few weeks later. “I feel upbeat because the country seems to be a better place than it was a month ago. I feel guilty about it because I should be feeling pain and horror and anger about the recent events.” But he was not the only one to feel this way.
Over the last month or so we have seen several reports out of Afghanistan registering the shock of the Americans, the Afghani government, and even the Taliban itself with the speed at which the Taliban forces have captured the Afghani countryside.
The closing days of the First World War gave birth to modern combat. Previous to these developments, advances in firepower made titans of the trenchworks. For four years the trenches were assaulted: for four years storms of steel mowed all offensives down. But as the war reached its end tactics were developed to storm through the gauntlet. Stephen Biddle has called these tactics, and what evolved out of them, “the modern system of battle.” The closing developments of the 1918 made offensives possible again—but the playing field remained tilted towards the defender.
We’re looking at that big bow wave and wondering how the heck we’re going to pay for it, and probably thanking our stars we won’t be here to have to answer the question. — Brian McKeon, Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy  The most dangerous concern is [the use] of military force against […]
Much of what I have written about Taiwan defense issues assumes that the primary challenge facing Taiwanese forces and their allies is defeating (and thus deterring) a proper amphibious invasion. Two recent reports argue—convincingly, I think—that this assumption is wrong. In his testimony to Congress a few weeks ago, former DIA analyst Lonnie Henley asks […]
Photo by Katelynn & Jordan Hewlett (15 August 2020). Source. It inevitably will be asked why advanced industrial America has so violent a history, but this is not, I think, either as difficult or as interesting as another question: How could America have combined such a substantial degree of popular domestic violence with such a high […]
Hat tip to Paul Huang for finding this comic. Two years back I wrote an article for Foreign Policy with the title “Taiwan Can Win a War With China.” In a recent interview with Jordan Schneider (for his podcast ChinaTalk) I stated that I can no longer endorse the declaration in that title. While I […]
Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War is aptly titled for a memoir that narrates the waves of death that washed over Iraq and Afghanistan in this new century. Readers today might be surprised to learn that the book was published in 2006. Filkins worked as a conflict journalist for the Los Angeles Times and the New […]