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Randy D
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Discussion » Questions » Military » If we are the most powerful country in the world? How come we haven't won a WAR since the 1940's? Anyone but me notice that?

If we are the most powerful country in the world? How come we haven't won a WAR since the 1940's? Anyone but me notice that?

Posted - October 8, 2019


  • 8470
    Try playing bingo instead and you might win a turkey. What can you do with a war?
      October 8, 2019 1:24 PM MDT

  • 46240
    You misunderstand.  We have BEEN in wars, we haven't won any.  I don't want the war.  I want the truth and the truth is that we are not powerful at all.  Not when it counts.  
      October 8, 2019 9:23 PM MDT

  • 1698
    Because we have gone for political solutions instead.  To really win a war is just bad PR for the politicians. 

    Truman chickened out of Korea.  MacArthur really did not help matters with the Winter disaster. 

    Johnson screwed the pooch in Vietnam.  He kept sending signals that he was willing to talk, military engagements and bombings.  Restrictive ROE's (rules of engagement) etc etc  Westmoreland did not help
    Nixon since the Pr was so bad tucked his tail and ran in Vietnam

    War on Terror Bush thru Trump.  No clear strategy, restrictive ROE's, no clear tactics except to avoid casualties which are causing more.  Whack a mole without knowing or understanding the politics, tribes and local scene.  F'd up Georgetown Grads at State generating papers which are useless and are again screwing the pooch.

    From age 17 thru age 44 I was involved in the process.  I saw the power of the liberal press limit our options on how to clean up the mess. I left to further pursue my civilian career because I was disgusted.  What could have been was precluded by the press and the Civilian Populations lack of a long term focus
      October 8, 2019 1:36 PM MDT

  • 46240
    Everything you said was great until that last paragraph.  What do you mean by LIBERAL PRESS?


    That last paragraph is YOUR opinion and not fact.  I don't buy how ANY liberal news media thwarted your idea of how to operate and deal with terrorism.  That is like blaming Trump for it.  There is no proof whatsoever except your prejudice against anything that is not ARCH CONSERVATIVE.    
      October 8, 2019 9:28 PM MDT

  • 1698
    I have seen the press manipulate public opnion since I was 17, and it worse today than it was then.  I can no longer read the NY Times or the Washington Post for the stands they take.

    BTW, I am not a conservative in the political sense.  I am a realist who has lived in the world, my favorite papers are Le Monde, Die Presse and the Guardian.  These are not conservative rags.  I also read Al Jazzera in Arabic, the English version is sanitized to clean up vile rhetoric.

      October 9, 2019 5:16 AM MDT

  • 4309
    We won the First Gulf War.
    Of course, our devastation of Iraq's military is what enabled Iran and radical Islam to gain strength in the region.

    I'd say we won the Cold War.
    The Soviet Union collapsed.

    Don't forget the "war on poverty" and "war on drugs", in the list of wars we lost (or are losing).
      October 8, 2019 3:26 PM MDT

  • 46240
    We had NOTHING to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union.  You gotta be kidding.  I'm just talking about WAR.  Shooting and killing war. Not cyber, not even chemical, just two countries dukeing it out.  

    We are not so big and hard as we try and advertise.  
      October 8, 2019 9:30 PM MDT

  • 1698
    We had everything to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union.  We put them on a path to outspend us Militarily in the Reagan years.  Reagan of course was lying about what we were spending.  We also put our SOG Units and Intelligence teams on a full scale effort to shut down the KGB Bureaus 2 & 3.  We did a very effective job.

    Yes a cold war is a war, there is shooting, killing and intrigue.  You need to expand your views beyond your self imposed box
      October 9, 2019 5:20 AM MDT

  • 9670
    Nope. The Soviet Union collapsed due to the inherent flaws in communism, it was inevitable. The military overspend was a side issue - it may have accelerated it, didn't cause it. Gorbachev delayed that collapse by opening up the USSR, but it was already on the skids.
      October 12, 2019 4:45 AM MDT

  • 4309
    The Cold War was only "cold" because there was no DIRECT and official fighting between the USSR and USA.
    However, there was plenty of "shooting and killing" between our designated pawns.

    You remember the Soviets in Afghanistan?
    We backed the Taliban, then.
    Plenty of "shooting and killing" there.

    Or how about all the civil wars in South America?
    Those had the USSR-backed vs USA-backed military forces "shooting and killing" each other.

    Regardless, your premise is flawed.
    A "superpower" doesn't have to WIN wars ... it only has to have the ability to FIGHT the wars.
    The strongest kid in school may never get in a fight - but that doesn't mean he can't lift more weight than everyone else.
    In fact, the fact that we haven't won those conflicts has more to do with the power of our citizens (and media) limiting our government, than whether we have the strongest military in the world.
      October 9, 2019 7:48 AM MDT

  • 5493
    I second Walt’s answer.
    We won the Gulf War, officially “Operation Desert Storm”, quite decisively. 

      October 8, 2019 3:46 PM MDT

  • 46240
    That whole thing was an abomination.  I remember I have never been as scared of anything as I was of that War.  It freaked me out.   I did not trust Bush and I still don't know why we were even there.  But you are right.  We "won".
      October 8, 2019 9:32 PM MDT

  • 5493
    All war is an abomination, Sharonna.  There is nothing glorious about men chopped up, dying in their own feces, govts collapsing and innocent children orphaned, mutilated or killed as collateral damage. 
      October 9, 2019 6:39 AM MDT

  • 1698
    Don the was not a war, it was a massive lopsided engagement.  That said we did acquit ourselves admirably
      October 9, 2019 5:22 AM MDT

  • 5493
    It WAS one-sided. But it certainly had all of the qualities of a war, did it not? That’s what we called it when I was there.  
    Maybe better called the Gulf Spanking. 

    Vietnam was officially only a “conflict“.  But tell the folks who shed blood there that verbiage makes a difference. 
      October 9, 2019 6:36 AM MDT

  • 1698
    Another member of the Sandbox#2 gang, Iraq.  I was in both Sandbox #1 & #2 as well as some other hot, and hot and humid deployments.  As a Battalion commander it was not a war IMO.  Wars are longer, protracted and a whole lot messier IMO. Now talk to some Army commanders they will say it was.  For the most part these guys were Perfumed Princes looking to punch there ticket for the next promotion.

    Sandbox #1 Afghanistan was a mess in 1980 and even worse in the 90's as devolved into todays farce.  I would digress, however I will end my rant.

    Vietnam was a war, no doubt about it.  Asymmetrical however, albeit a war.

    Sandbox spanking yes Gulf no.  That is coming with Iran and ensuing mess if we do pull out of Syria and abandon the Kurds.  Syria, turkey and Iran are just waiting for the opportunity.  Quds and the Russian mercenaries are looking to even a few scores as well
      October 9, 2019 8:51 AM MDT

  • 5493
    Well said. 
      October 9, 2019 11:53 AM MDT

  • 4309
    I disagree that a war has to be protracted.
    The German conquest of Denmark in WW2 only took 6 hours.
    Their conquest of Poland only took 18 days.

    Compare those with 2 days for Iraq to invade Kuwait ... and shortly less than a month of active hostilities for the allied forces to kick them out.

    Just because a war is lop-sided, doesn't mean it's not a war.
    In fact, I think there's probably a correlation between the level of technology and duration of war.
    EG: If we had "Rods from God" (space-born railguns) we could destroy an entire enemy nation in minutes.
      October 9, 2019 12:47 PM MDT

  • 1698
    Walt Denmark was a Battle in WW2
    Poland was a Battle
    Both were part of a larger war IMO
      October 9, 2019 8:25 PM MDT

  • 4309
    Point of view.
    To those nations ... they were at war with Germany.
      October 10, 2019 7:12 AM MDT

  • 3994
    I think that the definition of win might be in question.
    Sadam and his regime were toppled, so the US succeeded in its superficial goal.
    But its deeper intentions were to prevent the stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction - and its intelligence had turned out to be flawed or deliberately lying. The weapons never existed. The premise for the invasion was false. So can that really be called winning?
    Further, the entire country's political system was destabilised, creating the ideal conditions for IS to flourish and propagate its violence.
    Can that be called winning?
    There was an idea that toppling Hussein from his unjust dictatorship would usher in democracy and a fairer and more moderate political system, But there was a total lack of research into the subtle and complex political and religious forces at work below the surfaces of the culture. It was an incredibly paternalistic, arrogant and ignorant decision. The result is a regime of constant instability and vulnerability. Can that be called winning?

      October 12, 2019 4:40 AM MDT

  • 5493

    All of what you mention is true, but peripheral to the conditions and results of battle. It is from a soldiers POV that I commented. We won the battles. The fighting itself, if one could call thousands of scared Iraqis surrendering to ANYONE “fighting”, was one sided and never in doubt. But the politics surrounding war seldom provide clarity or closure. Vietnam was an even starker example. As I mentioned in the later post, no one really wins in war. Think of the financial costs alone; untold trillions wasted that may have benefitted the taxpayers in more direct ways. 

    We could say many of the same things about literally any large scale conflict. Though the Allies won, Britain and France suffered enormous destruction in WWI and WWII, a look at the aftermath in both countries would indicate a Pyrrhic victory at best. And the continent was reshaped culturally in ways that still prevail today. 

      October 12, 2019 6:34 AM MDT

  • They have all been about nation.building. There's no winning a war based on and waged in the name if nation building. It's a repeatedly demonstrated failing endeavour .  The best outcome is a pyrric victory and even then the odds are unlikely.
      October 9, 2019 12:22 PM MDT

  • 5493
    In the end, no one really wins a war, there are just those left with less loss than the others. To claim what they will and author the historical record. 
    Consider the costs, the enormous waste, the suffering and sacrifice, and the long aftermath. Wars always teach us new and more efficient ways to kill each other, and spur on retribution in future conflict. 
    All of humanity loses, the planet loses and the consequences are always paid by future generations.
      October 9, 2019 1:49 PM MDT