The US needs to stay out of wars except for those that benefit America

War is one of the most consequential actions our government can take.  The question is whether, looking back at America's conflicts in the past hundred-plus years, we can discern lessons that should guide us going forward.  David T. Pyne, a former U.S. Army combat arms and HQ staff officer with an M.A. in national security, has used his Substack account to write a concise essay analyzing which wars America should have avoided entirely and which were justified wars, whether conducted wisely or not.  Trump understood much of this intuitively; Biden does not.

The post, entitled "How Modern Wars Have Harmed U.S. National Security," begins with "Wars the U.S. Should Never Have Fought."  The first of those is the Spanish-American War in 1898.  The justifications for entering that war were false (e.g., Spain did not sink the USS Maine), it turned America into a colonial imperialist, and it led to about 220,000 Filipino deaths in a war the U.S. eventually fought, not against the Spanish, but against the Filipinos themselves.  What Pyne doesn't mention is that the media, especially the Hearst media empire, banged the drums, pushing America into the war.

I see echoes of the Spanish-American War in the disastrous decision to go into Iraq (false intelligence, a quagmire, and tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead) and in the media's current drum-banging for America to engage in a hot war in Ukraine against Russia.

Another disastrous, unnecessary war was America's involvement in WWI.  Without America riding to the rescue, the war would have had a different outcome that might have avoided most of the ills of the 20th century, including the successful Russian Revolution, Nazi Germany, and even Communist China.  It was not America's war, and she had no business being there.

Pyne also strongly chastises American involvement in Vietnam (not a vital U.S. interest), the Gulf War in 1991 (ditto), the NATO-Yugoslav War in 1999 (which saw the newly non-communist Russia under Putin start to view the U.S. as an enemy again), the Iraq War beginning in 2003 (a disastrous effort to turn a Muslim tyranny into a liberal, Western-style democracy), the Syrian civil war beginning in 2011 (a bloody internecine battle in which we had no business), and the First Libyan Civil War (a bloody, ineffective disaster from start to finish and another warning to Putin that America and, by extension, NATO are dangerous aggressors).

As for the wars that Pyne considers valid instances of U.S. involvement, Pyne nevertheless believes that we conducted them so badly that we vastly extended the damage to ourselves, our allies, and even our enemies.  For example, although he doesn't see a way out of World War II once the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he believes that Roosevelt provoked that bombing through the joint U.S.-U.K.-Dutch oil embargo, which directly threatened Japan.  Of course, after the Japanese attack, Hitler declared war on America, and America had to fight whether she wanted to or not.


Image: American Marines on Tarawa, November 1943, where 1,009 were killed and 2,101 were wounded.  On the Japanese side, 4,690 Japanese died.  USMC Archives.  CC BY 2.0.

The Democrat president also shouldn't have funded the Soviet war effort, says Pyne.  Roosevelt knew well what the Soviets were and would have done better to enter into a non-aggression pact, some subtle military support, and a race for control over central and eastern Europe.

Most significantly, Pyne asserts, America shouldn't have demanded Germany's and Japan's unconditional surrender.  A German resistance leader offered to overthrow the Nazis by 1943, but both FDR and Churchill said no.  Accepting that offer would have stopped the Holocaust early and, possibly, have returned the Soviet Union to its August 1939 borders, saving Estonia; Latvia; Lithuania; and large parts of Finland, Poland, and Romania from Soviet control.  Pyne has other alternative historic endings for Europe if FDR and Churchill had worked with the resistance.

Additionally, he claims that, if FDR had accepted a January 1945 peace offer from the Japanese, that would have stopped the Chinese communists, saving China, Korea, and Vietnam.  It would also have saved the lives of the troops who died between January and August 1945 and those who died in Korea and Vietnam.

Pyne also has harsh criticism for U.S. decisions in the Korean and Afghan Wars.

For anyone who likes alternative histories or military histories, the article makes for interesting reading.  But even more importantly, it offers intelligent lessons for U.S. leadership today.

Trump seems to have understood those lessons intuitively, for he was the only president in decades not to embroil America in foreign wars.  Bush certainly did not understand the lessons, as evidenced by his mistaken belief (based on erroneous intelligence) that he could reshape the Arab world to make it more friendly to America.

Meanwhile, modern Democrat presidents (Clinton, Obama, and now Biden), seem to believe that America must scourge herself for the sins of her existence by engaging in painful wars that confer no benefit whatsoever on America or her citizens.  We can only hope someone talks sense into Biden before it's too late.

Hat tip: Mark Wauck.

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