Re: [unrev-II] Open letter to America

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Wed Sep 26 2001 - 14:40:04 PDT

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    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
    comment on...

    > From: Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
    > 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
    and women
    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
    our defense.

    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
    military organization.

    Had I taken that oath I, too, would have been honor-bound to accept the
    dictates of
    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
    opportunities that
    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
    evenly split.
    But no one does, or should, attack another for voting their conscience.
    Vietnam was
    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
    > people,
    > (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
    politicians, and
    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
    > something!"

    Actually, there are two things we can do. People who attack citizens of
    are terrorists themselves -- people who attack others because they
    *look* like
    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
    are ready
    to do so effectively, if and when (hopefully never) that the need
    becomes apparent.

    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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