Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.
- Proverbs 13:20
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
- Proverbs 18:24
There has been a lot in the news and blogs about the debacle in Afghanistan. President Biden boldly boasted that the Taliban could never overthrow the government once we pull out. Then when we pulled out and the government was almost immediately overthrown, now allowing the Taliban to be armed with much of the weaponry left for the Afghan army, the president expresses shock as if he had never heard of what happened in Vietnam.
But although I do not study history so much, I study military history, or I have in the past. Pardon me if I have gotten a detail wrong, or at least a little off. I am quite rusty in this area.
The USA has not won a prolonged war since World War II, and those who fought in that war are quickly passing away, leaving the history books wide open for the falsehood writers to rewrite that history. The point being that we will have no living witnesses to an American victory other than the swift strikes here or there. People could say that the first Gulf War was an American (or an Allied) victory, but they got to a point and stopped. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf wanted to press the issue, but the president stopped the operation. The goal had been to free the people of Kuwait and cripple the Iraqi military to prevent a repeat of what had happened. The USA won the battle and then pulled out before they got entangled in political issues – and there is where the rub lies.
Why did the USA fight to a draw in Korea and then became relatively incapable of victory ever since? It started in Korea. General Douglas MacArthur, who had spent much of his life in the East, chased the North Korean army across the Yalu River into Communist China. Intelligence, which was in error, said that the Chinese had no presence in the area, but the USSR and the Chinese had signed an agreement that if one were attacked, the other would come to their aid. Congress put pressure on President Truman to pull back on the reins that he had allowed MacArthur to have. Truman stopped MacArthur and ordered a retreat, resulting in North Korea pushing past Seoul, South Korea. Congress was afraid that the Russia would invade Europe and western Europe was worried too. Politics trumped military strategy. In a written message, MacArthur disagreed with Truman about “Europe first.” MacArthur was sent home, and he could have faced court martial. That option was discussed. In the ensuing battles to retake land that the Allies had already retreated from, part of the army was trapped at the Chosin Reservoir as the Chinese army began to mysteriously appear. When the commander of those forces told his men to fall back, someone asked if they were retreating. The commander said, “Retreat, Hell! We’re just attacking in a different direction!” Indeed, the Chinese had them cut off on all sides with little means of resupply. They fought their way back to South Korea.
As for the Chinese army, they had a lot of people and a lot of soldiers. Those soldiers were not necessarily armed. Their tactics were to send their men running toward the enemy. If someone with a rifle fell, someone who did not have a rifle would pick up the rifle and keep running. As the first wave hit the protective barbed wire, they would get hung up on the wire and die. The next wave would run on top of them and die. Quickly, the barbed wire was buried beneath countless waves of enemy bodies, but the Chinese kept coming until the Allied forces ran out of ammunition. It was said that to accomplish this blind wave after wave of men running to their deaths, the Communists had used brainwashing, empty promises, and other motivational techniques, but the most effective method was when they turned their machine guns on the backs of their own soldiers, so that they either attacked and died or were shot for cowardice.
Various techniques have been used to create fear in the enemy and erase fear in your attacking forces. The Vikings had their berserkers, who were given hallucinogenic drugs and promised the best accommodations in Valhalla. The berserkers would crazily run ahead waving swords like a crazy man, and they might even live to tell the tale, once the drugs wore off and depending on whether they could remember what happened.
But back to the Korean conflict, politics and diplomacy became the controlling factors for the American military at that point, not one single commander in chief. True, wars like Vietnam and Afghanistan were wars that redefined how wars were fought, but the commanders were handcuffed by what they were allowed to do and what line they could not cross. In 1970, Nixon allowed the military to enter Cambodia to cut off the North Vietnamese supply lines. When protests over expanding the war to Cambodia got people shot at Kent State, the war became exceedingly unpopular, as if it was not unpopular already.
It is odd that the American people have no stomach for a prolonged war, but some experts say that there has only been 17 years of the USA’s 240+ years of existence when we were not at war for at least some of that year. In the accounting process, there were a couple of “wars” that should not have counted, but the USA has had a bloody history. For the last 70+ years, we may not have had many of those years of peace, but our years at war have not resulted in much victory.
I watched a news report that Rev. David Robertson did not include in his recent Quantum podcast, devoted to Afghanistan, but had a link added to the corresponding article on The Wee Flea. Andrew Neil, a Scottish reporter, who had supported working with the USA in past Allied operations, suggested that the United Kingdom never do so again. The USA withdraws when the fight gets tough. Then, you have all those parents of soldiers who want to know why their child died in vain. In fact, the USA had not lost a soldier in battle, according to the report, for over a year, and the war was at a stalemate, as long as there was air support supplied by the USA, something that the Taliban did not have.
I thought of writing this post for a couple weeks now, but I try to stay away from political type arguments. The Scriptures above kept calling.
The first verse from Proverbs speaks of harm coming when consorting with fools. The last three presidents, four out of five presidents, had not military experience. Yet, by the constitution of the USA, they became commander in chief of all military forces. Yet, who did they listen to? Three of those four presidents were from a party that has a track record of downsizing the military and ignoring military advice. Thus, it leads to listening to yes-men (and women) and fools.
Odd, when I was young, having a president who had never served in the military was unheard of.
But the second Scripture is worth repeating.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
- Proverbs 18:24
Unreliable friends could be considered “fools.” And “too many friends” of that nature is foolish company. They say that a camel is a horse designed by committee. A military commander that has more than one commander in chief cannot lead an Army to the toilet without unacceptable casualties. What additional commanders? The president, Congress, foreign diplomacy, and public opinion.
And they “play” politics, our soldiers die. If enough die, they become numbers – to everyone but those who served and the families of those who died.
My suggestion is that the USA adopt a new course of action and become a nation of peace. We have little experience in that arena and the only way we can get that course of action to work is to repent and return to the Prince of Peace.
Has that ship sailed? If so, there is no hope for the USA.
The Scripture suggests no course for us that avoids ruin unless we turn to the “friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.