If we have an experience that we find distasteful do we know to avoid it in future? Do we know what started our action and what among those variables are key? For example do you know you can eat any mushroom you find, but some of them only once?
Learning form mistakes and ideally the mistakes of others moves us forward.
Most military activity is based on a strong reason to do it. That reason is seldom thought through to its time and resource extent. In business you impose time and resource commitments to help avoid “mission creep.” It is like renovating a house. How many have heard the idea, “This extra is cheaper now than it will ever be in the future. Might as well do it while we’re here.”
It is the same with an invasion to take out the Taliban. Done. Then it turns into democracy building, training an army, creating government structures, building schools and hospitals, and a dozen more. The extras are where the problems lie.
Avoidance of pitfalls and poisons has been a key element in our development. We like to believe some positive action works best for evolving society, but it turns out that making fewer mistakes is easier to implement than some “brilliant” new idea.
A Thomas Sowell thought, “Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”
“Sounds good” provides a weak tactical structure. We might begin by avoiding that.
It seems impossible to miss the point that the Afghan mission was doomed to fail once it had been successful in its limited opering effort. The fact was known within months of its beginning. The better choice was to eliminate the Taliban, declare victory and go home. No one ever, has had a successful campaign in Afghanistan. Without tight limits on purpose, any new invasion fell under the heading “Strategic Narcissism.”
It is reasonable to assume that our leaders believe all the others in any conflict will do as they expect. History suggests that is not likely. Why do they continue to believe it?
The “others” have different personal values, cultural imperatives, and time frames than we do. They will act for their own reasons not our reasons.
The result in Afghanistan is now like the lessons from Iraq, Viet Nam, and Korea. The Mitch McConnell thought, “There is no learning in the second kick from a mule.” The fifth is no more instructive.
War doesn’t work unless you are prepared to do whatever it takes to win. So long as a “war of containment” (essentially a war that doesn’t offend anyone) is the strategy, you will lose. People do not respond well to impositions.
George Hegel, “We learn form history that we do not learn from history.”
How reality works.
A military type once told me that there needs to be a conflict every 15 years or so. If not, some of the generals won’t get to play with the toys. I hope that thought was intentionally hyperbolic.
Nonetheless, I wonder where and when the next useless intrusion will occur?
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