Monday, September 10, 2007


Look, can there really be any doubt about what nation is the most militarily powerful on earth?

It isn't the Russians, it isn't the Chinese, it isn't any possible combination of European or African nations, and it isn't close to being any nation in South America.

The most powerful military force on earth belongs to The United States of America, and anyone that doesn't believe that, is delusional.

OK. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's get to a few other facts.

Fact: Many Americans want The United States to achieve a military victory in Iraq.

Fact: Any conceivable combination of Iraqi militias/foreign fighters/insurgent groups couldn't hope to defeat an American infantry unit in combat... it just. isn't. possible.

Fact: American soldiers, and their officers are aware of their abilities to fight and win against just about anyone they come in contact with. This knowledge leads to confidence.

Fact: Confidence, poorly placed, can lead to rash military decision making.

Fact: The American armed forces are much smaller than they were during the second world war.

Fact: The American armed forces are not large enough to sustain large-scale combat operations indefinitely.

Fact: History can be a more terrible foe than an enemy army.

Fact: The evidence of history tells us that a military victory against the Iraqi insurgency is exceptionally unlikely, regardless of the combat power arrayed against it.

Whats my point?

My point is this: Two very capable military men from my Commonwealth of Virginia wrote the books on both winning and losing in an insurgency centuries ago. Sure, many people believe that Vo Nguyen Giap, or Ernesto "Che" Guevara, or even Mao Zedong were the masters of insurgency, but it isn't really so.

No, these two Virginians were George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

You heard me.

You see, George Washington wasn't the most able battlefield commander, but he was a really smart guy. He used the ragtag army that he was able to cobble together to defeat one of the most powerful armies on earth.

How was he able to do this?

Well in his case, as it is in the case of all militarily weaker armies, the key to victory was simply not to lose. Now, you are probably saying to yourself, "Sure, GF. Don't lose. What army wins by "not losing"?

By keeping his armies relatively intact, Washington was able to keep the British chasing him about the countryside. The British would occasionally force a battle, and when that happened, the American armies usually lost, but Washington was always able to keep the army in the field as a viable force. With Washington not defeated, General Sir Henry Clinton and other commanders, such as Major General Lord Cornwallis, were obliged to keep going after him, taking casualties and incurring great expense.

Eventually, the British Parliament and the British people, got tired of war, and after the disastrous ending of the southern campaign, in which Cornwallis was obliged to surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, the American Revolution came to a political conclusion.

Please note, that even after Cornwallis lost the battle of Yorktown, the combined French and American forces were still too weak to dislodge the British armies. So please, dispel all of your notions of angry American farmers throwing the British out. It didn't happen like that.

Washington's strategy proved to be totally effective.

Now, let's look at what happened to that other capable Virginian, Robert E. Lee.

Robert E. Lee commanded the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War... or "The War of Northern Aggression" for you unreconstructed rebels.

Lee's Army of Northern Virginia (which is the best part of the state, I might add) was probably the best army in the entire Confederate States Army, and was vital to the military viability of the so-called "Confederacy". The problem is that R.E. Lee, despite his ability as a battlefield commander, made two strategic blunders that doomed the Confederate rebellion. The first mistake was to invade the north the first time, leading to the bloody disaster at the Battle of Antietam. The second, and ultimately fatal mistake, was to invade the north a second time, leading to the even greater disaster at Gettysburg.

Despite the fact that Lee was able to escape the debacle at Gettysburg, his Army of Northern Virginia couldn't recover from it's losses, and the fate of the Confederacy was sealed.

These are two great examples of insurgent warfare... if you need more, you don't need to look too far... I give you the Chinese Communists, or the Viet Minh/Cong.

The United States armed forces don't have the time, and the American people don't have the inclination, to remain in Iraq forever.

Leave now or leave later, the results will be the same... except that more Americans will win up dying for little result that will benefit the people of the United States.

We, no doubt, will hear testimony from Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus later today that will suggest the we are making "progress" in Iraq, and that "the surge" is working. In my heart, I believe Petraeus to be an honorable officer, as a commander, I think he is top-notch. He has faith in the ability of his soldiers, as he should. Having said that, I believe that I believe that he is still a soldier, and as such, bound to be loyal to his political maters.

So the surge is working... uh huh. I'm sure that it is... to a certain extent, but ultimately, I think it is throwing good money (and lives) after bad.

Personally, I can't see the wrecking of our armed forces in Iraq, chasing car bombers, when we face other external threats.


dawn224 said...

I like you. I like that you write with an authority of history. You also write in a way that I can actually *understand* and don't start skimming with thoughts of other things in my head.

Gunfighter said...

Thanks, Dawn!

jessabean said...

I agree with you completely. Now we just need politicians with the balls to pull us out and be done with this mess. C'mon, already!

Gunfighter said...

One thig is certain, Jess: Go now or go later... this is a mess that won't be made right by our continued presence.

Linda said...

I came by via your winning post at "The Rising Blogger" and I must say that I am glad I did. What caught my eye is the fact that you write using history, some of my favorite history, as part of your post. I agree completely with you in regards to Washington and Lee, two very capable officers and commanders in my mind though they both had their own faults and foibles.

Unfortunately, people never seem to learn from history. They just ignore it and think that things are going to be different this time. I wish that weren't the case, many lives could be saved if people could learn from the ones that have already been lost.

Congratulations on your Rising Blogger Post of the Day, I hope you don't mind if I bookmark your page and come back by again, I'm sure you've got many more interesting posts that I will enjoy.

Oh, and I guess I should point out that I live in Connecticut but Virginia has always been one of my favorite States of all. I've taken several vacations down there to tour battlefields, etc. and I just adore the people and the land. Perhaps I was a Virginian in another life?!