Author Topic: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?  (Read 9099 times)

KTG

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #50 on: April 10, 2018, 01:24:59 PM »
I understand what you are saying but also keep in mind how large the world was back in WWII. There were no satellites, refueling tankers, and great distances between Japan and the US. Japan never really moved passed Hawaii either, leaving our industrial base on the west coast untouched. And the Germans never really threatened the East Coast. The Chinese only have so much coastline, and its all exposed to countries we are allied with (Japan, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, and I think Singapore now too). So even in a war in the pacific and some threat to the Pacific coast of the US, there is still the Atlantic coast. And depending on who starts the war, you would probably have help from America's allies to watch what was going on in the Atlantic.

Dylan Lee Lehrke, PhD - Senior Analyst, IHS Jane's Military Capabilities Desk:

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The primary problem here is geography. Just as the vast Russian steppe swallows armies, so would the oceans that surround the US. No matter the manpower or armament, it must be delivered across the Pacific and Atlantic in order to be brought to bear. This is where US naval and air power would destroy any adversary, far before they sullied the US shore.

And this is where you meet the second primary problem, which is technology. There are not enough aircraft carriers and amphibious warfare ships in the combined navies of the world to force an entry past the US Navy. There are not enough attack fighters to gain air superiority against the US Air Force. This is how amazingly out of balance the military might of the world is today.

Mobility and information is what is going to win modern war, where things will probably develop and end very quickly. I don't think that once the shooting starts, there will be much time to build up additional forces for anyone, except for troops. And with a massive ocean between China and the US, essentially the war will be fought and won with what everyone has at the moment.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 01:27:11 PM by KTG »

ooeei

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #51 on: April 10, 2018, 02:20:28 PM »
All of this detailed talk about specific war tactics seems a bit silly. Conventional warfare is not something you do with someone you're reliant on. There's a reason almost all major conflicts recently have been guerilla type warfare with relatively small rebel type groups, rather than large developed nations.

What it comes down to is both countries need each other right now. At the moment, I think China needs the US more than the US needs China. There are a few rare earth metals there that we need, but in general we just go there because things are cheap and they're good at manufacturing.

If China vanished overnight the US would have a few price hikes and delays while they found new suppliers for things.

If the US vanished overnight China would be holding a shitload of worthless debt, and would have to greatly improve their development economy. Right now some cool stuff is designed/developed in China, but they rely on the US and other countries to do a lot of their research and development for them. I'm sure they could come up to speed at R&D if they had to, but it would take significantly more time/effort than it would for the US to find new manufacturers.

All of that is ignoring nuclear weapons, which make conventional large scale warfare damn near obsolete.

As far as the US doing so poorly in recent guerilla wars, you're right. The invader is nearly always at a disadvantage, especially when they don't want to just torch the whole country including civilians. If you think taking over Afghanistan and Iraq with the US army was difficult, I can't imagine how difficult it would be for China to take over the US mainland. Sure they might "officially" take over Washington or somewhere, but actually knocking out all of the rebel groups that would spring up would be impossible. The same goes for the US taking over China. That's why neither one will try to do such a crazy thing. They'll war through tariffs, trade embargos, and covert activities.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 02:30:01 PM by ooeei »

ooeei

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #52 on: April 10, 2018, 02:37:13 PM »
1) The self-assurance of the term "masters of conventional warfare" reminds me of the British redcoats who stood, in lines, wearing bright colors, and all fired/reloaded at once, getting cut to pieces by the hit and run tactics of US Revolutionary War guerilla Francis Marion. The British considered such tactics immoral and undignified. Soldiers were supposed to fight in fields, and in lines! It seems like after a century or so of dominance, it is natural for any nation's military to become so bureaucratic and entrenched in the tactics of yesteryear that they get left behind. The US has been defeated in 3 consecutive guerilla wars. Yet our tactics were last changed in World War 2.

While it might be true that the British's tactics didn't do them any favors, they wouldn't have been able to hold onto the US regardless of what tactics they used. They had to literally send letters back and forth on ships across an ocean to find out what anyone in their home country was saying. If the guys in England had video of their troops getting massacred they probably would have changed things up, but since information traveled so slowly, so did change. There's a reason none of the European colonies in the new world are currently ruled by their European base countries.

You can't control a country across an ocean for very long, although it is easier now than it has ever been due to relatively fast travel and very fast information sharing. Maybe it would work for a large country controlling a tiny one, but there is no possible chain of events in history that ends up with the US being under British rule in 2018.

I'm not in the military, but I'm fairly sure our tactics have vastly changed since WWII. The US's main disadvantage against guerilla warriors is we try not to blatantly kill civilians, and they use that against us. There's no tactic or strategy that gets around that, except killing civilians. If a rebel group uses a new type of IED, you can bet the rest of the forces will know about how to deal with it pretty damn fast. In revolutionary America there would be around a month to get any info back to England, another month to bring back instructions here, and then it's all outdated anyway. We don't have that problem anymore. We can save footage from body cams or bomb squad robot cams of the IED, analyze it in America, and broadcast information about it to all of the troops in probably less than 24 hours.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 02:41:33 PM by ooeei »

Gondolin

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #53 on: April 10, 2018, 04:12:54 PM »
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If you think taking over Afghanistan and Iraq with the US army was difficult, I can't imagine how difficult it would be for China to take over the US mainland. Sure they might "officially" take over Washington or somewhere, but actually knocking out all of the rebel groups that would spring up would be impossible. The same goes for the US taking over Chin a

No one's talking about this (except maybe KTG). The discussion has been around a potential air/naval conflict in the South China Sea.

Prairie Stash

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #54 on: April 11, 2018, 11:16:43 AM »
Weird turn of the thread; why would china and the US need to fight a war? How does being the flight to safety equate to having a really big army? I get that a lot of people like to compare the size of militaries, but why would China bother with fighting a war with the US?

American policy: build the biggest and best navy/army/air force
China Poliy: buy companies that support the domestic economy

Guess who is more likely to have the largest economy in 20 years? No worries though, the Americans will still have the best navy....Meanwhile I'll be invested in international stocks.

For the war mongers, please explain why China would bother fighting a war with the US? What's in it for China? from my vantage if they ignore America's military and keep on with growing their economy they will emerge as the worlds largest economy. If they waste time fighting a war, they get nothing for it.

ChpBstrd

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #55 on: April 11, 2018, 12:28:31 PM »
Well, the US was in this exact same position in 2002, and we invaded Iraq based on politically hyped intelligence reports and misattributed anger toward Muslims. Thousands of dead and trillions in debt later, with Iraq now an Iranian client state, that move seems less than rational.

What did imperial Japan get from invading China and Japan? Was it reasonable for Napoleon's men to conquer Europe and then walk away? What is the ROI for the Saudis in their arms race with Iran? Was Kashmir really worth all the wars and sacrifices made by India and Pakistan? Should the US have pulled out of Vietnam in 1970, when it knew it could not win? Look at how the Russian economy has done since Putin invaded Ukraine.

In general, expecting people to do the logical thing for their own long term benefit is a recipie for disappointment. If the Chinese had Spock-like rationality and emotional detatchment, they would deserve to rule the world. But I bet they are human beings.

Gondolin

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #56 on: April 11, 2018, 02:21:05 PM »
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For the war mongers, please explain why China would bother fighting a war with the US? What's in it for China

Yeah, there's really not much to fight about unless someone does something colossally dumb. It's just standard thread derailment. All the economic reasons why the dollar isn't going anywhere were articulated on page 1 so the thread drifted to other topics.

Hot take: More likely than a Sino-US war is a Chinese civil war, especially if Xi spends the next 15-20 years consolidating power and ruling as Emperor President and then kneels over without a clear successor.

GuitarStv

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #57 on: April 11, 2018, 02:53:19 PM »
Yeah, there's really not much to fight about unless someone does something colossally dumb.

*Checks if Trump is still the current US president*

Seems like a valid concern.  :P

theolympians

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #58 on: April 11, 2018, 06:05:45 PM »
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Using insurgencies or wars against guerrillas as a benchmark for how capable the US military is isn't a fair assessment. These wars have had to have been fought with one hand behind the back typically because of their close proximity to civilians

Have their been *any* wars since 1950, fought by any country, that do not share these charactestics? In the Long Peace of the atomic era, is a major ground war even possible?  Warfare has changed since 1948 and I would argue that how you do against guerrillas is one of the only valid benchmarks in the 21st century.

1973 war, Desert Storm first two off the top of my head.

theolympians

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #59 on: April 11, 2018, 06:16:39 PM »
I find this talk a little funny. I remember in the 70's and 80's there were the same doom and gloom camps that exist today. "China is going to take over!" is just fashionable now. Back then it was the Ruskies: "We may be doing ok now, but they think long term. In the end they will come out on top." The soviet block went bankrupt. China has a loooong way to go.

In the event of war with them, they could conceivably mobilize tens of millions, a vast landlocked "peasant army" once lauded by Mao. That in no way means they could threaten us existentially by that alone. They have nukes and are building a blue water navy but they are a long way away from challenging our navy (which, along with the new ruskie threat, I hope we build up massively).

There is something in our psyche that tells us the end is always near (see the success of zombie movies).

thunderball

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #60 on: April 11, 2018, 06:45:36 PM »
This thread has wandered into a fascinating discussion of military strategy.  One thing I haven't seen mentioned is cyber-warfare.

Though I agree China has little economic interest in vanquishing the US, and lacks the tangible resources to do so, is there an argument to be made that they don't need global-reaching military might to do so?

An EMP or crippling the internet for an extended period of time...  I shudder to think what would happen if that comes to pass.

ChpBstrd

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #61 on: April 11, 2018, 07:55:44 PM »
I suppose this thread has taken a strange turn. The U.S. could lose its "flight to safety" status and become just another world currency and market without any of the violent scenarios we've been strategizing about. It would happen due to the emergence of similarly credible alternatives such as the Euro or a newly floated Chinese currency. It would also happen due to a decline in the stability of the U.S. dollar, due to the national debt, poor leadership and mistakes, or a prolonged period of widespread economic malaise. The Japanese yen emerged from the stagflation of 1970s America to become a minor safe haven and to some degree remains so. Let USD inflation hit 10% for a few years in a row, and the talk at cocktail parties will shift to whether shifting some yen into Australian dollars is even worth the yield premium any more.

The cost to pay a laborer to dig a ditch all day in the U.S. might be about $150 if you can find someone desperate enough to take the job, but in much of the world people would line up to do the work for $2 a day. The difference is the perceived value of the USD to people not in the US. Where does that perception come from when most of what money can buy is made in China? How long until the laborers figure out they'd rather have a currency that buys goods?

An EMP or crippling the internet for an extended period of time...  I shudder to think what would happen if that comes to pass.

It would be awful. People would go out for walks and meet their neighbors. Thousands would be immediately put to work realigning supply chains, establishing analog communication lines, and creating new and profitable small businesses to replace the smoldering tech monopolies that mainly benefited now-ex-billionaires while they existed. Some folks would resort to reading books out of desperation. Tangible hobbies such as gardening and craftsmanship would make a comeback as the old internet hobbies like Facebook, Snapchat, and trolling became impossible. People walking on the sidewalk might look each other in the eye instead of looking at a cell phone, but not in NYC of course. We would get our news from paid journalists instead of bloggers. It would be hell.

JAYSLOL

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #62 on: April 11, 2018, 10:08:34 PM »
It would be awful. People would go out for walks and meet their neighbors. Thousands would be immediately put to work realigning supply chains, establishing analog communication lines, and creating new and profitable small businesses to replace the smoldering tech monopolies that mainly benefited now-ex-billionaires while they existed. Some folks would resort to reading books out of desperation. Tangible hobbies such as gardening and craftsmanship would make a comeback as the old internet hobbies like Facebook, Snapchat, and trolling became impossible. People walking on the sidewalk might look each other in the eye instead of looking at a cell phone, but not in NYC of course. We would get our news from paid journalists instead of bloggers. It would be hell.

LOL

thunderball

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #63 on: April 12, 2018, 04:23:29 AM »

It would be awful. People would go out for walks and meet their neighbors. Thousands would be immediately put to work realigning supply chains, establishing analog communication lines, and creating new and profitable small businesses to replace the smoldering tech monopolies that mainly benefited now-ex-billionaires while they existed. Some folks would resort to reading books out of desperation. Tangible hobbies such as gardening and craftsmanship would make a comeback as the old internet hobbies like Facebook, Snapchat, and trolling became impossible. People walking on the sidewalk might look each other in the eye instead of looking at a cell phone, but not in NYC of course. We would get our news from paid journalists instead of bloggers. It would be hell.


+1  too right!

ender

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #64 on: April 12, 2018, 06:25:45 AM »

It would be awful. People would go out for walks and meet their neighbors. Thousands would be immediately put to work realigning supply chains, establishing analog communication lines, and creating new and profitable small businesses to replace the smoldering tech monopolies that mainly benefited now-ex-billionaires while they existed. Some folks would resort to reading books out of desperation. Tangible hobbies such as gardening and craftsmanship would make a comeback as the old internet hobbies like Facebook, Snapchat, and trolling became impossible. People walking on the sidewalk might look each other in the eye instead of looking at a cell phone, but not in NYC of course. We would get our news from paid journalists instead of bloggers. It would be hell.


+1  too right!

I'm surprised so many people don't realize the massive number of people who would die in this sort of scenario.


maizeman

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #65 on: April 12, 2018, 06:42:56 AM »
Yeah. It can be funny to joke about how many people consider access to facebook/twitter a necessity of life.

But the reality would be very different. First the economy would grind to a halt because we just don't have enough physical cash anymore to grease the wheels of commerce in the absence of credit/debt cards and all the money everyone has stored in bank accounts. Cars and trucks would stop working and food would stop flowing into cities. Pharmaceutical manufacturing lines would fall silent, and stockpiled reserves would be stranded with no way to distribute them. If it happened in winter, many folks in the northern half of the country would die of hypothermia, in the summer many folks in the southern half of the country would die of heat stress (hypertermia).

Civilization can work in the absence of electronic technology. But our particular civilization isn't equipped to do so anymore, and the transition would be a lengthy process and entail substantial human suffering and death. And regardless of our ability to rebuild a non-electronic civilization, or reboot an electronic civilization after an EMP, lots of individual citizens of our civilization cannot survive for any significant length of time without access to a modern technological civilization (from type I diabetics to people with electronic pacemakers to the many elderly folks for whom access to air conditioning is a question of survival rather than comfort).

Books set in post-apocalyptic wastelands can be fun to read about, but I certainly wouldn't want to live in one.

ChpBstrd

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #66 on: April 12, 2018, 07:07:37 AM »
IDK, social media usage has been correlated with depression, and suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. From Wikipedia:

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"...the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014..."
"In 2016, there were 44,965 recorded suicides..."

I agree that thousands would die due to a lack of various life-critical support systems and economies, but if the suicide rate dropped back to 1999 levels, about 10,000 might not die. The lives saved from increased physical movement and social interaction might be closer to six figures per year. So it's hard to say whether the outcome would be a net positive or negative. E.g. What if the U.S. was on the verge of a social media induced civil war that would have killed hundreds of thousands, and the EMP weapon prevented that?

I suppose in this reality we are fortunate to be able to live as if an EMP attack happened, if we're wise enough to do so, enjoying all the benefits of that, and still also enjoy the automation, economic, and healthcare benefits of it not happening. Probably that's why MMM has cut back to one post per month.

maizeman

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #67 on: April 12, 2018, 07:37:35 AM »
I agree that thousands would die due to a lack of various life-critical support systems and economies, but if the suicide rate dropped back to 1999 levels, about 10,000 might not die. The lives saved from increased physical movement and social interaction might be closer to six figures per year. So it's hard to say whether the outcome would be a net positive or negative.

Well let's start with 3M type one diabetics in the USA alone. Add in ~20,000 newly diagnosed cases each year.

Add in ~300,000 people with transplanted drugs who are dependent on immunosuppressant drugs with ~30,000 new transplants performed each year.

And all of this is in addition to the deaths from mass starvation from the inability to transport food from where it is produced to where it is consumed (and potentially missing one or more years of food production without machines to plant and harvest the fields and without population centers in the right areas to replace the work of machines with back breaking manual labor from dawn to dusk).

I'd also suggest double checking if the numbers you are seeing for suicides are normalized by population or not. Because in 1994 the US population was 263 million and today it is 326 million, which is an increase of almost exactly 24%. It's quite possible they are already normalized, but it seems like at least a moderately odd coincidence.

I may not be able to convince you to agree with me, but for me it's not at all hard to conclude which scenario (plus or minus technology) results in far less death and human suffering.

I suppose in this reality we are fortunate to be able to live as if an EMP attack happened, if we're wise enough to do so, enjoying all the benefits of that, and still also enjoy the automation, economic, and healthcare benefits of it not happening.

On this point I'm in (mostly) complete agreement. For example, I do enjoy reading -- and sometimes posting -- on this forum, despite the fact this is only possible in a world without an EMP attack. But more physical movement and more in person social interaction are certainly good things and don't require an EMP for a person to pursue in their own life.

katsiki

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #68 on: April 12, 2018, 07:43:40 AM »
I wonder if we would continue to see 20,000 new diabetics each year in this new world.  Folks would have to eat what comes out of the ground and not artificial garbage.  This is probably a huge over-simplification but I wonder.

GuitarStv

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #69 on: April 12, 2018, 08:11:05 AM »
Books set in post-apocalyptic wastelands can be fun to read about, but I certainly wouldn't want to live in one.

The Road is probably the most realistic post-apocalyptic wasteland book I've read . . . and it wasn't fun to read about.  :P

maizeman

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #70 on: April 12, 2018, 08:21:27 AM »
I wonder if we would continue to see 20,000 new diabetics each year in this new world.  Folks would have to eat what comes out of the ground and not artificial garbage.  This is probably a huge over-simplification but I wonder.

Guessing someone might make that argument is why I specifically restricted my discussion to type I diabetes which is only 10% of total diabetes diagnoses. Type I diabetes isn't caused by excessive blood sugar producing resistance to insulin in the body, but is instead an autoimmune disease where your body attacks cells in your own pancreas so your body cannot produce insulin in the first place.

While we can argue back and forth about whether type II diabetes is a disease of affluence, type I has been with us for as long as historical records exist, and is the reason that in earlier centuries a willingness to taste your patients urine* was one of the requirements of being a physician (and presumably would be again in a post-EMP world, at least until we built back up to a technological civilization again). However, without access to replacement sources of insulin, the sufferers of type I diabetes generally died in childhood for the vast majority of our existence as a species.

*Sweet urine being a test for diabetes in the absence of modern technology.

maizeman

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #71 on: April 12, 2018, 08:30:40 AM »
Books set in post-apocalyptic wastelands can be fun to read about, but I certainly wouldn't want to live in one.

The Road is probably the most realistic post-apocalyptic wasteland book I've read . . . and it wasn't fun to read about.  :P

I've tried to read The Road as well as later to watch the move. In both cases I gave up less than 20% of the way through. It's amazing how brutal the complete absence of hope can be. On the Beach and Level 7 are also profoundly hopeless, but they build up to it. The Road hits you with the complete absence of any hope right from the beginning.

To make the post-apocalypse fun to read about you need to add some glimmer of hope for a better tomorrow for whoever survives. Earth Abides, The Postman (the book by David Brin more so than the movie although I actually liked the move) or One Second After (which specifically focuses on the effect of an EMP attack on the USA) all manage to be quite fun to read without making me at all cheerful at the prospect of losing our modern technological civilization.

KTG

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #72 on: April 12, 2018, 09:24:38 AM »
The US has been defeated in 3 consecutive guerilla wars. Yet our tactics were last changed in World War 2.

I missed this comment before, and while I am guessing one of the three is Vietnam, I am not sure what the others are. But that being said, I feel like there is a lot of misinformation about the wars the US has fought since WWII, especially when people say America lost. I know I am going so off topic here and I am sorry.

Korean War: The Korean War is a much overlooked, and fascinating war. I do not know why it doesn't get looked at more. I am guessing by now, that it was just too long ago. If there is any veteran of any war I could share my gratitude for service for, it's Korean War veterans. If you haven't read up on the war at all, I highly recommend This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenback (https://www.amazon.com/This-Kind-War-Fiftieth-Anniversary/dp/1574883348/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523542728&sr=1-1&keywords=This+Kind+of+war&dpID=51EkgWhar7L&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch), which was written not too long after the war and does an amazing job detailing the events of small units to the politics at the time. You get just about everything in one book.

The interesting thing about that war was how unprepared the US was for fighting it, how it got itself into a fight without a overall strategic plan, and then wanting out of it, asking young US soldiers "don't win too much, we don't want to escalate, but definitely do not lose" had to have been a terrible thing to hear when you had buddies dying. It is the start of limited engagements where the US tries to win without full commitment, yet ends up in a costly fight that costs more in the long run.

But to say the US lost that war is not correct. The goal of the US was to defend South Korea and remove the North Koreans from the south, which it did. After that, the US wanted to end things for good, and MacAuthur's arrogance caused the battles to be lost in the north. The Chinese initially just didn't want the US in the north, but after tasting victory, wanted to push the US out of Korea all together. They failed, and the war settled into a stalemate at the 38th because neither side wanted to commit more. So you could argue it was a tie, but the US military did want it was originally sent in to do.

Also, the US not being prepared also gave rise to the military industrial machine. If you want to know why we are where we are today, you'll see from reading this book.

Vietnam War: Vietnam is far more well known, and probably even less understood. While the government in the South were a bunch of a-holes, and probably shouldn't have even been defended, the US went in to prevent communist North Vietnam from taking over the south. Initially the war was more of an insurgent one, with the US battling the Viet Cong in the South. However, that all changed after the Tet Offensive, while a shocking surprise attack on US forces around the country, it pretty much wiped out the Viet Cong and from that point the US was fighting North Vietnam regular forces. However, Walter Cronkite, hiding in an alley having no idea what was happening around the city or the rest of the country, told the US public that the war was lost. Political pressure mounted and it was the beginning of the end. But the US military was forced to fight one-hand behind the back. Like Korea, it had to be difficult for US service members to know exactly where Ho Chi Min's troops, supply bases, and so on were in the North, and not be able to do anything about them, while their buddies were being killed.  Invading the north would have been messy, but probably would have ended the war pretty quickly. And whenever the US got serious about bombing the north, it brought the North to the negotiating table.

But the goal of the US being there: preventing the North from taking the South, was still met, and the North didn't take over the South until after US forces had long left the country. That's not on the US, that's on the South Vietnamese. Political loss, sure. But military one? I can't agree with that. The US military did what it was asked to do.

Desert Storm/Desert Shield: This is pretty easy, pretty much a straight up conventional war that devastated the 4th largest military at the time. However, like in previous wars, there was no political will to remove Saddam. Yes, there were arabs's who didn't want to see that happen, but had Saddam been removed in 1991, there would have been no 2003. In 1991 we had a massive, overwhelming military and allies on the ground to complete such a task too. Military victory yes, but I am not sure a politically strategic one.

Somalia: I mention this because while not a real war, I hear a lot that the US Special Forces were 'defeated' by the Somalian militia, which tell me each time someone says that, they have no idea what happened. The event in question is related to the capture of a couple of strongman Mohamed Farrah Aidid's aids. Unfortunately for the US Special Forces at the time, the political hacks in Washington didn't want to give requested equipment to the forces in country for fear of 'how it might make the humanitarian mission look'. If there is anyone who I would like to see strung up from poles in the city streets, its a-holes like them (do you see a trend here?)

But the mission of Delta and the Rangers was to go in, capture these guys, and return them to the airport. They did all of that. And that is a successful mission. For some reason people point to the casualties they took, and things like Black Hawks being shot down as reasons why the US lost, and I just can't see how that is. Did the US get into a hard battle that they were not prepared to fight? Yes. They practically took on a city. But they completed their mission. This would be like arguing that the US lost WWII because they lost a bunch of tanks and airplanes.

But US politics back then had a hard time with the US taking casualties, and Clinton decided to end the US presence in Somalia, which was a pretty big mistake. It basically taught the world that you could beat the US by causing a few casualties and they would go home. Things are very, very different today.

If you want to know more about that battle, and there is a lot more to it than what was shown in the movie, I recommend Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden. https://www.amazon.com/Black-Hawk-Down-Story-Modern/dp/080214473X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523542625&sr=8-1&keywords=Black+hawk+Down+Mark+Bowden

Afghanistan: If you want to see an example of the powers that be being completely ignorant of the ways of a country they are invading, look no further than Afghanistan. Relying on few Special Forces and hoping that bribing tribal leaders into doing the rest is what caused this to drag on for as long as it has. That war should have been wrapped up in 2003, but instead we diverted all of our resources to Iraq before the job was done. I know there was a greater Neo-Con plan for the region and it was naive and ignorant at the same time. The problem with Afghanistan is that the US has never had enough troops in country to make a difference. Especially early on, when it was the most important. Afghanistan is a tough place to fight, with a lot of places to hide, but with full US commitment, it could be done. But currently the US has 15,000 troops in the country and some how wonders how the Taliban are still around.

Make no mistake, in a straight up fight the US has overwhelming firepower and will win every fight. The US just doesn't seem interested in committing to that.

This is a straight up political failure.

Iraq 2003: This is going to piss some people off by saying this, but I honestly believe removing a dictator from power who gases his own people was a noble thing. Imagine if the world was united in doing that all of the time. I don't think for a second that Saddam had any chemical weapons, and didn't care the US was lying about it. I knew they had to lie about it, because the idea of overthrowing another leader is taboo. But Saddam was thumbing his nose at us, the UN, torturing his people, and so on. he deserved to get wacked.

However, I think we can all agree that almost right from the beginning, this was a disaster waiting to happen.

First, Bush wanting a 'cheap' war. What does that really mean? Not giving the US military all that it needs. Second, like Afghanistan, not understanding the people and culture. And third, Paul Brenner firing all the cops and military. I remember closing my eyes when I heard this at the time and thinking 'this has to be a dream'. Its no wonder that fool is sitting around painting pictures these days. It must be therapy. But regardless of all the mistakes the US made, the Iraqis have to accept a lot of the blame themselves. The Germans didnt start fighting each other after WWII, and neither did the Japanese. Everyone went about rebuilding the next society.

But the one thing I did realize that makes a difference between Germany and Japan versus Iraq: Germany and Japan were beaten into submission, while Iraq was not. Insurgents in Iraq were never really beaten down once the occupation started. Kind of hard to do, I understand that, but that's why things dragged on.

After Brenner eliminated the police and army, the US just didn't have enough troops to put on every street corner, nor could they ever. We just dont have WWII numbers anymore.

When the US did get serious, like in Fallujah or Ramadi, insurgent casualty rates greatly exceeded US by like 10-1.

Hard to say how history will look back at Iraq. If it turns into a peaceful, functional country, maybe historians will say it was worth it, I don't know. The price was high and could have been for far less though. The US military did the best it could despite the direction by a group of clowns. And the scary thought is what the Neo-Cons thought they could do in the middle east. Iraq may have saved Iran. Had Iraq not been the mess it was, the US could have very well turned East next.

There are other events, like Grenada, Panama, but I rarely hear about those. Those were small in scale but operational successes too.

In everything I have learned, the only way to win a war with a definitive conclusion is for it to be all out, well supported, with clear objectives. The failure of any of that turns into dragged out affairs - the very things politicians are trying to avoid. They just don't seem to get it. In the end, war is an extension of politics, so you could argue a political defeat is also a military one, but knowing what I know, I can't fault the US serviceman for the crap Washington orders them to do. In every war the US has fought, our enemy casualty rates are sickening even if/when ours seem high. We rarely lose actually battles, yet somehow lose control of the war. Its just there hasn't been a case since WWII when we really said to our military, "we are fully committed, giving everything you need, and are not stopping will these conditions are met" and that is why things have ended they way they have.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 08:53:23 AM by KTG »

ChpBstrd

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #73 on: April 12, 2018, 02:11:06 PM »
I think it is possible to both accept the argument that politics are to blame for the US's failures to defeat impoverished and illiterate guerillas in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and to also conclude that the US cannot currently win such wars or will lose the next one. After all, our political system is still in place and while that is so we will not have the flexibility of dictatorships to impose total war upon their own populations, with rationing, forced conscription, forced labor, and punishment of dissenters. Thus, when a president like G.W. Bush or JFK decides to start a cheap, limited war of choice, cashing in most of their political credibility in the process, an enemy knows they lack the ability to fully escalate. The steady erosion of the War Powers Act, and the refusal of Congress and the judiciary to accept their roles in stopping unconstitutional wars is much to blame here. Perhaps there is some envy for the nimble authoritarians we face.

I'll take it a step farther and argue that political processes are part of why US military strategies remain unable to defeat ragtag insurgents after decades of learning. Our fancy F-35 jets that cost $200k a minute to fly (wild guess, probably way low) are the wrong tool for fighting in Afghanistan, where Taliban traveling on trucks and animals control most of the country despite these "all out" expenditures that produce the occasional explosion video for civilian consumption. We use them anyway because Lockheed Martin makes campaign donations and the naive public thinks better gadgets will save the day.

In reflection, I think I'd rather be a soldier for a democracy that sometimes cuts its losses than be part of a futile human wave attack or suicide mission under a Stalin or a Hussein. But I also recognize that such political structures can wage total war with immediacy while the democracies are still sorting out their bribes.

ender

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #74 on: April 13, 2018, 07:05:52 AM »
Yeah. It can be funny to joke about how many people consider access to facebook/twitter a necessity of life.

But the reality would be very different. First the economy would grind to a halt because we just don't have enough physical cash anymore to grease the wheels of commerce in the absence of credit/debt cards and all the money everyone has stored in bank accounts. Cars and trucks would stop working and food would stop flowing into cities. Pharmaceutical manufacturing lines would fall silent, and stockpiled reserves would be stranded with no way to distribute them. If it happened in winter, many folks in the northern half of the country would die of hypothermia, in the summer many folks in the southern half of the country would die of heat stress (hypertermia).

Civilization can work in the absence of electronic technology. But our particular civilization isn't equipped to do so anymore, and the transition would be a lengthy process and entail substantial human suffering and death. And regardless of our ability to rebuild a non-electronic civilization, or reboot an electronic civilization after an EMP, lots of individual citizens of our civilization cannot survive for any significant length of time without access to a modern technological civilization (from type I diabetics to people with electronic pacemakers to the many elderly folks for whom access to air conditioning is a question of survival rather than comfort).

Books set in post-apocalyptic wastelands can be fun to read about, but I certainly wouldn't want to live in one.

And if you live in a major city in the USA, there are high odds you will be part of a massive number of people who starve to death if we get hit with a significant EMP attack.

dougules

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #75 on: April 17, 2018, 10:50:30 AM »
This thread has taken a weird turn.  I didn't read "flight to safety" in a literal apocalyptic sense.  I thought we were talking about the bland economic kind sort of like how the UK and France are terrible has-beens. 

And if we were talking about the flight to safety from the WWIII EMP Zombies, my bet would be on the Patagonian wilderness or some small distant island like Rarotongo or Tristan da Cunha.

maizeman

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #76 on: April 17, 2018, 11:00:30 AM »
This thread has taken a weird turn.  I didn't read "flight to safety" in a literal apocalyptic sense.  I thought we were talking about the bland economic kind sort of like how the UK and France are terrible has-beens. 

One could argue that world war I (and to a lesser extent II) were what converted the UK and France from global colonial empires to minor players on the international stage. There were lots of forces building up that were going to make it difficult for either country to maintain its colonial empires anyway, but historically the end stages of falls from major international power tend to be associated with major wars as new powers challenge fading old ones.

dougules

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #77 on: April 17, 2018, 11:08:50 AM »
This thread has taken a weird turn.  I didn't read "flight to safety" in a literal apocalyptic sense.  I thought we were talking about the bland economic kind sort of like how the UK and France are terrible has-beens. 

One could argue that world war I (and to a lesser extent II) were what converted the UK and France from global colonial empires to minor players on the international stage. There were lots of forces building up that were going to make it difficult for either country to maintain its colonial empires anyway, but historically the end stages of falls from major international power tend to be associated with major wars as new powers challenge fading old ones.

True, but the outcome wasn't that UK and France were obliterated permanently.  They rebuilt, and both countries are now perfectly nice places to live even if they aren't the preeminent world superpowers.  One point is that the carnage of the World Wars is sort of a tangential discussion to them having lost their status as the preferred economic power.  The other point is that they are still well-off places with a decent amount of political and economic power even if they are no longer #1. 

maizeman

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Re: what happens when the US is no longer the "flight to safety"?
« Reply #78 on: April 17, 2018, 11:32:51 AM »
They are nice places to live again today. And really have been for decades.

But during the transition from major world power to more average countries, (two world wars, plus a major recession in between) France and Great Britain really weren't pleasant places to live at all.