I know the title sounds like an ad for a documentary on the end of World War II.
Fleets of thousands of bombers pummeling the Germans and Japanese into submission, dozens of aircraft carriers circling the Japanese islands like sharks coming in for the kill, Patton’s tanks grinding across the last of the Third Reich smoking and crumbling in ruins, the stuff of triumph and real military power.
Keep that mental picture in mind as you read what some pundits and commentators are saying today about the “greatest” or “mightiest” fighting machine in the world, or words to that effect, to describe the U. S. military.
The reality today is that while we may be a giant in some areas, we no longer have access to and/or control up a third of the worlds’ resources anymore as we did in the middle of the last century.
We are no longer a “sleeping giant” of possibilities that we were on the eve of World War Two. We are, in fact, living the illusion of inexhaustible and unbeatable military resources and power.
Let’s take a reality check.
When was the last time we won a war, or even “stabilized” a country, depending on the euphemism of the day?
Vietnam? Afghanistan? Iraq? ISIS? Syria? Declaring victory or leaving on the last helicopter ride from the roof of the American Embassy is not winning a war or stabilizing a country.
How about the Gulf War you may respond? Or, maybe a surgical operation like Granada? Or grabbing and executing Osama bin Laden?
There is a lot of room for debate, and I hope during the run up to the presidential election of 2016, these issues will be debated.
The question is: are we as strong as we think we are? True or False?
I’ve heard the talking heads on the news networks say that we have “immense power” and all we need to do is “let it loose.”
ISIS can be brought to their knees in a matter of days. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News says all we have to do is get all sixty members of the coalition (what coalition?) to put up 5000 troops each and presto we have an army of 300,000 boots on the ground.
Actually that would be 600,000 boots right? ISIS would be crushed, presumably by all those hot boots marching in a phalanx over the new Caliphate.
Not even at the height of World War II could allies muster more than twenty allies, and among those, only six or seven were major contributors.
We are, in today’s world, a coalition of one. We stand almost alone against radical Islam, the true threat to liberty, freedom, order, and our faith in the world.
Our old allies, like the English and French, struggle to preserve their language, their religion, and their culture in the face of massive Islamic immigration streams from Africa and Asia.
We might learn something on immigration from the Japanese. If you don’t like our country, leave. Australians send the same message also.
We should review our own immigration history. Lady Liberty welcomed the hungry, the weary and the oppressed, but they needed to be healthy, and anarchists were not welcome, no matter how weary and oppressed.
Ask your favorite—or least favorite for that matter—political candidates how they expect to win the next war, when the record from the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 to the losses in Syria and Iraq to ISIS do not point to an invincible military machine.
Like all wars, it is not simply about weapons, numbers, technology, and strategies. It is about ideas and ideals, sometimes about ideologies, sometimes about religions, sometimes a fusion of those and many other ingredients.
But don’t boast about having a magnificent fighting machine that could win any conflict today if just given free reign.
Wars are about hearts and minds, and unless we have leaders to bring us together and reflect core values in our nation, we can’t even quash an Islamic knat in the deserts of Africa and the Middle East.
And, when we do zap one or two with a drone, there are plenty of others to take their place and thumb their noses at evil Americans.
We deserve a more profound and deeper understanding of who we are from our leaders.
We need to rebuild our fences and defenses within the institutions–like freedom, liberty, and the rule of law–that are who we are, and not just point to a professional military with space age weaponry that can’t even bring a tribesman oriented society like Afghanistan to heel.
But don’t blame the soldiers. Blame the leaders and the country which sent them for lack of a vision. As the old Proverb (29:18) tells us: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Published in The Tuscaloosa News as “Military Power Without Leaders Proves Useless,” Sunday June 21, 2015.