Why america loses every war it starts – fabius maximus website

Summary: What is more pitiful than a great state with a belligerent foreign policy, spending many times more on the military than all its foes combined, picking fights around the world (often with no rational reason for involvement) — yet losing to all but the least competent foes? That’s our America! After several generations of expensive failures, even our leaders have noticed. This new book begins to grapple with this problem, one of America’s most important. See the end of the post for other perspectives on it. I’ll post a review after we’ve moved into our new home. Available at Amazon.

Second, few Americans even ask why, given what we believe is the greatest military in the world, our record in war and military interventions is so failure prone.


Third, we ourselves must ask: What can be done, in light of general public indifference, to ensure success whenever the nation employs military force in major conflicts or interventions?

This book examines the more significant American uses of force over the past six decades to understand why we lose wars (and fail in interventions) that we start. It also argues the absolute need to adopt a valid framework for making decisions – what I have termed a “brains-based approach to strategic thinking.” While some may regard this term as arrogant, the fact is that too often we have failed to exercise fully the grey matter between our ears, with disastrous results.

To succeed, sound strategic thinking must transcend or minimize the vagaries of politics, ideologies, simplistic campaign slogans, wishful ideas, and the inexperience that have (as the forthcoming chapters will argue) handicapped the nation’s last three commanders in chief and almost certainly will affect the current one. From these analyses, the book derives means for how to win, how to succeed in applying force.

To make this argument more vivid, vignettes about major events are interspersed throughout the text. To some, they will be controversial. To others, these vignettes will underscore on a personal level the larger reasons for failure and the damning impact of the absence of sound strategic thinking. Each vignette is an accurate summary of actual events, to the best of my recollection. A few circumstances have been altered to protect sensitive information or sources.

Glowing endorsements from US policy leaders usually signal a book that either justifies their folly or offers chaff as recommendations (i.e., innocuous or specious). This is an exception. The failures of US military expeditions since WWII has become too obvious and dangerous. Even people who run the system have become alarmed and open to discussing new ideas. Who knows? Perhaps some day they will become open to trying new ideas.

“Ullman’s rigorous intellectual process is a meaningful contribution to the national dialogue. Every question he asks is one that should be asked and answered, however imperfectly, before our country jumps in or backs in to another military intervention, especially in an increasingly complex world of non-state actors, shifting alliances, and emerging power centers.”

Harlan K. Ullman is Chairman of the Killowen Group, CNIGuard Ltd, and CNIGuard Inc. He is a Senior Advisor of the Atlantic Council. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1963 and has a MA, MALD, and Ph.D. from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. He commanded destroyers and Swift Boats in Vietnam. He now serves as Distinguished Senior Fellow and Visiting Professor at the US Naval War College.