BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – This weekend, we hosted a wedding for our daughter. What a production!
Your editor gave the customary “Father of the Bride” speech.
Here’s a photo of the set-up.
The ceremony set-up
You’re probably eager to hear the details. But that will have to wait…
Money Doesn’t Guarantee Victory
Today, we’re following up from Friday. We were looking at war… and armies… and how they become corrupt and incompetent.
And we follow up by looking back to the ancient world. The Achaemenid Empire of Persia was the world’s hegemon – the USA of the 4th century B.C.
Imagine what it must have been like for the handful of soldiers at Thermopylae. They had been sent to defend the pass into Greece. They looked out and saw thousands of gleaming helmets… swords… bright-colored tunics… and wicker shields.
Ancient Greek historian Herodotus puts the number of Persians assembled by Xerxes, King of the Achaemenid Empire, at 2.5 million. The real number was surely much, much lower.
Still, the Greeks were outnumbered by at least 20 to 1… including by the legendary Persian “immortals” (roughly equivalent to America’s Delta Force).
The Greeks were wiped out at Thermopylae… but they won the war.
The naval Battle of Salamis destroyed the Persian fleet. Then, fearing having his vast forces cut off, Xerxes retreated. Almost all of his soldiers died from starvation and disease as they struggled to get back across the Hellespont.
Money does not guarantee victory in war… or in anything else. Often, it gets in the way.
And of all the parasitic, degenerate, incompetent elite groups of the U.S. empire, the military/industrial complex is the biggest… and the most adept at separating the public from its money.
Despite spending many times more than any enemy – real or imagined – the Pentagon has a record of failure at least equal to the feds’ other major boondoggles.
The War on Poverty… the War on Drugs… or the War on COVID-19 – none can match the military, neither in squandering money… nor in pernicious consequences.
Wait… You may think… “Ok, it’s such a big organization; it’s inevitable that some money will be badly spent. But it’s better to spend too much on defense than too little.”
That’s not the way it works. You get what you pay for. Pay top dollar for a military; you get an army that’s good at getting paid.
But soldiers are best when they are lean… not when they are fat. And the officers are best when they are promoted and rewarded for winning wars, not for losing them.
The 20-year debacle in Afghanistan, for example, was a huge defeat for the U.S. But it provided career-long enrichment opportunities for the Pentagon.
The brass rotated through the Hindu Kush, punched up their resumes, got their medals and their “combat” pay… boosting their retirement compensation.
Meanwhile, they were spending trillions of dollars. So it was not exactly a surprise that when their careers in the military were over, they went to work in cushy sinecures with defense contractors.
In other words, the skills the officers learned had nothing to do with winning a war. Instead, they got to be very good at lobbying Congress and keeping the money headed in their own direction. Which is how they managed to get a $24 billion increase – even after conducting a fiasco war for two decades.
And now, always seeking more money, the whole officer corps is super sensitive to political fashions. It no longer even tries to win wars.
Instead, it stretches them so as to squeeze out more money… while promising to fight like a lion against racism, global warming, inequality, and other bugaboos!
Our question for today: What will happen when these people face a real war?
We may already know.
Last October, the Pentagon conducted a major wargame… apparently trying to model what might happen if the U.S. went head-to-head with China in Asia.
In July, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, reported the results. Speaking at a conference sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association, he revealed that the U.S. got its tail whupped.
The Afghanistan adventure not only corrupted America’s armed elite, it also provided a 20-year opportunity for enemies to study U.S. equipment, tactics, and strategy. Hyten reports:
An aggressive red team that had been studying the United States for the last 20 years just ran rings around us… They knew exactly what we’re going to do before we did it.
In short, he added, the Pentagon “failed miserably.”
Our friend, Byron King, former aide to the United States Chief of Naval Operations, elaborates:
Opposing forces wrecked the entire complex of U.S. logistics. Rear bases came under fire, while aircraft and ships at sea were targeted by long-range missiles. There’s just no hiding anymore from people with sufficient technology to find you.
Even worse, most U.S. weapons were outranged by new systems recently deployed by China, much of it based on advanced Russian designs. It’s a long-term U.S. failure in research, development and procurement.
When the balloon went up, most U.S. forces near-immediately lost the ability to coordinate attacks and/or return fire. Much of the targeting data was worthless in any event, while systems used for aiming and guiding munitions also failed.
To the extent that communications worked at all, much of the data were corrupted or hacked.
It’s not overstating to say that, in this one wargame, far from home, the U.S. lost vast numbers of people and equipment. In real world terms, think of casualty numbers in the tens of thousands. Of entire bases obliterated. Of hundreds of airplanes lost. Of dozens of ships sunk. And that’s just in the first few days.
The wargame ended with American forces defeated and devastated. U.S. allies were similarly shredded. And U.S. interests in the Western Pacific and Asia were annihilated.
It was, of course, only a “game.”
Real life will come later.
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