For the most part, I think that talking politics is a waste of time and effort. This topic will barely skirt the edges of politics by its nature alone, but I think it’s a philosophical point at its core. I’m all about things at their core.
In a light continuation of yesterday’s topic of living life in the afternoon versus as we did in the morning; I cited the first two World Wars as excellent examples of this idea in action, but I didn’t get to what I think is the most teachable US war history example.
In a PBS interview, I believe Colonel David H. Hackworth cites this problem as a key reason for why the US could not win the Vietnam War.
“We used three times the amount of bombs in the Vietnam War as we did in all of World War II, both the Allies and the Axis. We put enough steel on that California-sized target to sink it, and it did not cause the opponent to give in. Firepower was not the answer. The answer was to win the hearts and minds of the people.”
-Colonel David H. Hackworth
The allies won World War 2 with bombs and airpower, and the US tried to win that same way in Vietnam, despite the dramatic differences in the battle dynamics and the social environments. “Bomb them back to the stone age” was an insufficient strategy to defeat an enemy whose main arsenal laid in radicalizing its people, whom the powers making the big decisions State-Side decided not to make concessions for. Hackworth said it, not me.
In the grand scheme of the whole thing, I think it’s a great lesson for those who think they’ve got a perfect working system. I say to them, before assuming your hitherto undefeated methods are undefeatable, make sure the landscape that they’re about to operate in is the same as the last time they put it into action. If it isn’t, maybe turn a few screws on it.
You can read the late Colonel Hackworth’s interview here; I strongly recommend it.