For the most part, I applaud the content and tone of this missive.
There was one slight error, but it is one that I won't discuss in
public, or in writing, because doing so would alert the enemy to
the need for countermeasures.
However, there were a couple of points that I would like to
> From: Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
> ....it is generally acknowledged that America lacks the stomach for a
> long fight. We need only look as far back as Vietnam...
I believe that is unfair characterization. We fought there for 5 years.
The lesson for us, as it was for Russia in Afghanistan, is that you
cannot possibly defeat an enemy who is continually resupplied by an
equally large foreign power. You cannot overwhelm by
size, nor win by attrition, a war in which the sources of supply are
untouchable. And since you cannot remove the source of supply, you have
everything to lose and nothing to gain for your efforts.
> American soldiers who marched to war cheered on by flag waving
> Americans in 1965 were reviled and spat upon less than three years
> later when they returned.
This is, unfortunately, true. And it was a HUGE disservice to the men
of the armed forces -- people who were willing to put themselves in
harms way for a cause they believed in, and in what they thought to be
The fact of the matter that once a soldier takes their oath, they are
bound to honor
and defend the constitution, and to take orders from their civilian
leaders, even when
those leaders are micro-managing and putting political limits on
activities that prevent victory from ever being achievable.
I am enormously proud to observe that, even in the face of such
mismanagement, our armed forces obeyed their orders, without exception,
from first to last. It is astonishing to think of what reaction might
have been provoked in a less disciplined, less patriotic
Had I taken that oath I, too, would have been honor-bound to accept the
political authorities who defined goals without ever taking off the
handicaps that made them unachievable. As a citizen who had not yet
taken that oath, I felt duty-bound to
object to the situation, and to be prepared to go to jail for that
belief. I did, and I was.
I still feel it was the right decision at the time, though I lament the
the decision has cost me. There is more than one way to sacrifice your
life for your
country, and for your countrymen and women.
But to revile the troops who chose a different course of action -- that
was just plain
wrong. When we voted for Bush and for Gore, the decision was fairly
But no one does, or should, attack another for voting their conscience.
like that. There were patriots on both side of the fence.
> We can expect not only large doses of pain like the recent attacks,
> but! also less audacious "sand in the gears" tactics, ranging from
> livestock infestations to attacks at water supplies and power
> distribution facilities.
A good observation. But I dislike to see new possibilities discussed in
The first one, for example, is not one I have seen before. (On the other
maybe it is better to discuss them? I'm open to argument.)
> ...The Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, (the most often quoted
> and least read military theorist in history), says that there is a
> "remarkable trinity of war" that is composed of the (1) will of the
> (2) the political leadership of the government, and
> (3) the chance and probability that plays out on the field of battle,
> in that order.
Hmm. Personally, I would replace number 3 by the training and leadership
the military forces. The triumvirute would then be the people, the
the military. I suspect those are the actual 3 axes that success depends
> Everyone I've talked to In the past few days has shared a common
> frustration, saying in one form or another "I just wish I could do
Actually, there are two things we can do. People who attack citizens of
are terrorists themselves -- people who attack others because they
people they hate. We can go out of our way to be friendly towards, and
with, people who look like they may be targets. And we can stand ready
help and defend them, should the need arise. We can also take advantage
the fitness training and skills-training opporunities that abound, so we
to do so effectively, if and when (hopefully never) that the need
A fellow in San Francisco was recently stabbed when he came to the aid
his Indian friend. What's needed is more people willing to step in at
times, and more training for those who do. In other words, if you value
you *must* acquire the ability to prevent harm to the innocent -- and
peace within to do so without becoming embittered, to walk away whenever
possible, and to defuse tempers instead of igniting them.
> God Bless America
> Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
> Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy
Finally, despite the critical comments above, my thanks and admiration
to Dr. Tony Kern. Such open letters help, in my mind, to develop
understanding, commitment, and resolve.
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Wed Sep 26 2001 - 14:27:28 PDT