Never fight a land war in Asia

Retired Major General Robert H. Scales:

A war the Pentagon doesn’t want

The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria. It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war. As Secretary of State John Kerry’s thundering voice and arm-waving redounded in rage against Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities, Dempsey was largely (and respectfully) silent.

Dempsey’s unspoken words reflect the opinions of most serving military leaders. By no means do I profess to speak on behalf of all of our men and women in uniform. But I can justifiably share the sentiments of those inside the Pentagon and elsewhere who write the plans and develop strategies for fighting our wars. After personal exchanges with dozens of active and retired soldiers in recent days, I feel confident that what follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.

They are repelled by the hypocrisy of a media blitz that warns against the return of Hitlerism but privately acknowledges that the motive for risking American lives is our “responsibility to protect” the world’s innocents. Prospective U.S. action in Syria is not about threats to American security. The U.S. military’s civilian masters privately are proud that they are motivated by guilt over slaughters in Rwanda, Sudan and Kosovo and not by any systemic threat to our country.


They are tired of wannabe soldiers who remain enamored of the lure of bloodless machine warfare. “Look,” one told me, “if you want to end this decisively, send in the troops and let them defeat the Syrian army. If the nation doesn’t think Syria is worth serious commitment, then leave them alone.” But they also warn that Syria is not Libya or Serbia. Perhaps the United States has become too used to fighting third-rate armies. As the Israelis learned in 1973, the Syrians are tough and mean-spirited killers with nothing to lose.

Our military members understand and take seriously their oath to defend the constitutional authority of their civilian masters. They understand that the United States is the only liberal democracy that has never been ruled by its military. But today’s soldiers know war and resent civilian policymakers who want the military to fight a war that neither they nor their loved ones will experience firsthand.

(General Scales is the former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.)

There is a popular Hollywood stereotype of military leaders as bloodthirsty warmongers. The truth is that the guys that actually have to fight wars are usually the most reluctant to start one.

Back when Democrats were generally opposed to war they liked to point out that many Republicans were “chickenhawks”, meaning that they and their children avoided military service (or combat) but they were eager to send other people’s kids to fight a war in Iraq.

I never served in combat, but I still remember how it felt when my unit went on alert because the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. I was 19 and stationed not far from the East German border. It was a scary moment.

I have great respect for the men and women who serve in our armed forces. I think we owe it to them to make sure they are not lightly put into harm’s way.



Pentagon Press Secretary George Little rejected the article’s premise.

“I have no idea where these broad characterizations of anonymous opinion originated. We don’t take opinion polls of our military personnel on policy debates,” Little said in an email to BuzzFeed. “The fact of the matter is that our military planners continue to do what they do incredibly well: professionally develop military options on Syria. Our cadre of planners is the finest in the world, and they are demonstrating great resolve.”

That’s a non-denial denial.

“You can do many things with a bayonet except sit on it.” – Tallyrand

“Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie.” – Simonides

Never fight a land war in Asia.” – General Douglas MacArthur

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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124 Responses to Never fight a land war in Asia

  1. The Klown says:


    There is already a casualty of Barack Obama’s anticipated strike against Syria: repeated warnings about the dangers of intervention voiced by his most senior military adviser.

    General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and former top army officer, has highlighted the risks of US involvement in Syria’s bloody civil war for over two years.

    Dempsey, a multi-tour command veteran of the Iraq war, has never openly opposed a strike on Syria, something that would risk undermining civilian control of the military. But when asked for his views, in press conferences and testimony, Dempsey has tended to focus on the risks and costs of intervention.

    In April, Dempsey said that the US military could force down Syria’s warplanes and disrupt its air defenses, but not without significant peril to US pilots, all for a negligible impact on dictator Bashar al-Assad.

    • Lulu says:

      I am amazed at how he has come undone, unraveled, based on the same traits and actions he has had since he started running for Prezzie. It just reached a tipping point and fell apart. He has no one going along with this except for a few ninnies and crazy people. The majority pretended that everything was just dandy until the British Parliament said “uh, we think he has had an accident in his pants so please leave us out of this”. That is all it took and it fell apart. The elites listen to other elites but not to us. We were right you assholes and you better remember who pays the bills.

      • swanspirit says:

        I hope , and expect, that it will become even more apparent to the general public, just how crazy Obama really is .Now we have Axelrod spouting off on Morning Joke , about how LONELY it is at the top for poor Prezzy and how serious some of the issues are he has to deal with , and he isn’t certain he did Obama any favor “putting him in office” WTF did he think he was doing ? Getting a prom queen elected ? These arrogant sobs need to fall from their ivory towers , and hit concrete hard!

        • Lulu says:

          All I can think they considered of were the perks and kowtowing that they would get and none of the responsibility. If anyone examined his prior record (which I did at length) would have known he would fold like a cheap suit if he ever was required to do any work or got any serious push-back from people he could not cheat or pull dirty tricks upon. If the humiliation is nasty and total maybe he will resign because we aren’t good enough for him.

        • leslie says:

          Didn’t do Obama any favors??!!?? What about the nation?? What about the entire world community?? Axelrod just can’t say “I effed up” can he, when everyone with 2 brain cells know what he “did” in selling the legendary god to the people, is the biggest mistake ever.

          Wait, I have to scrape my own brain cells off the wall…

        • Constance says:

          “These arrogant sobs need to fall from their ivory towers , and hit concrete hard!”

          Amen to that! I just wish I could help that along!

        • wmcb says:

          HONK to the arrogant ivory tower assholes blithely tinkering with our country hitting some hard concrete.

        • t says:

          His crazy 24% supporters think this is a good idea….because Kerry is CERTAIN of his secret intel.

      • Constance says:

        “The elites listen to other elites but not to us. We were right you assholes and you better remember who pays the bills.”

        The elitists and their families also don’t fight in the wars they start.

    • Lulu says:

      But Obama promised to “fix” everything that Shrub screwed up. It doesn’t matter who flubbed what, The One promised and he obviously lied. He has had almost five full years and made it worse. That is why the rats are deserting him.

    • leslie says:

      Of course it is Bush’s fault. Because if it were a reflection on bronco, the NYT and WaPo and every other extension of the MSM would have to retract whatever support they have for this charlatan and they might lose access to TehOne. Oh dear, that would never do.

      Asshats all.

      • DeniseVB says:

        Never could undertand this access thing, probably the parties and exclusive (scripted propaganda) interviews ? They should all be ashamed. It certainly hasn’t hurt Fox News’ ratings, they continually beat the others’ numbers …. combined.

  2. The Klown says:

    Check out the update above.

  3. votermom says:

    I had forgotten

    • DeniseVB says:

      Yeah, they did portray Romney as an evil warmonger who wanted to control the world because he’s a RICH EVIL RICHIE RICH. Idiot low info voters 😉

  4. leslie says:

    Rant and very OT: while the media is criticizing the attempt by Kenneth Cole to sell sandals, pumps, shoes usiing the phrase “boots on the ground”, calling him shameful and having no respect for the value of human lives, they fail to recognize their own failings. They have pushed war upon war with minimal regard for the lives that have been lost and the lives to be lost in every warring endeavor. Will the children that were “gassed by Assad” return to life once this redline crossing is avenged? and will the lives lost to the “shot across the bow” miraculously become whole again once we leave the region?
    They all make me ill. I had refused to sign petitions, or send emails or do anything while this oaf was in the White House. But this was my own personal red line and obama has crossed it with no possible redemption. I have now signed every online petition and sent every electronic pre-written letter to everyone of my persons in Congress that has appeared in my mailbox. I am raging against this machine like never before. They are shameful and unrelenting in their quest for power over everyone. Last night – or this morning – I heard someone on one of the “news” stations saying that “Assad disregarded or disrespected Obama” and he must pay the price”. I mean – the nerve of a leader of another nation to disrespect/disregard the wishes of Obama!!!!! FFS.

  5. The Klown says:
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  8. votermom says:

    Syrian American slaps McShame around

    • DeniseVB says:

      It’s a must watch and listen. She makes a very powerful case to stay out of her country. Go girl !

    • wmcb says:

      Wow. Posted on facebook. She’s entirely right.

    • Karma says:

      Last night on CNN, Chris Cuomo and a talking head did something similar in blowing off a Syrian couple who had an opposing opinion.

      Here is the transcript.

      The Syrian couple were at the end of program (Tom and Unidentified Female). Cuomo and the talking head’s tone was dismissive in response.

      As usual, it was hard to watch CNN basically spoon feed Obama’s position so I only peeked in from time to time. But from what I saw, other than the Syrian couple, Gingrich was the voice of reason…lol.

      • wmcb says:

        Gingrich is a smart guy, and often his voice is reasonable. It’s his actions when he has power that are the problem. I prefer him as a debater and advocate. Just keep him far far away from the One Ring.

  9. DandyTIger says:

    You know how Obama said it was the US’ reputation on the line, not his. I thought of a great way for the US to both not go to war in Syria, and to regain its reputation. Impeach Obama.

    You’re welcome.

  10. The Klown says:
    • t says:

      Uh, botulism is considered a WMD, so I think we’d be in violation of the WMD treaty if we sent all that botox.

  11. votermom says:

  12. votermom says:

    LOL. Obama’s losing it – reduced to a “periodically” type of snipe at Putin

  13. wmcb says:

    Based on the admittedly unscientific indicator of servicemen/women and their families on facebook and in blog comments, the military is PISSED over this Syria thing and thinks the leadership has lost their damn minds.

    I’m seeing them all over the place saying NO, we don’t want to do this.

  14. DeniseVB says:

    McCain flip-flopping ? Thought he was all in for Obama, even saying Obama wasn’t planning to do enough damage? Now…..

    • Karma says:

      I saw Judge Napolitano on FoxNews state that Congress can’t ‘wage’ war but only give the authorization. So McCain might be talking out of his ass, yet again, since a boots on the ground restriction is deciding how the war will be fought. Which is Obama’s duty as Commander in Chief.

      And Judge Napolitano also made the point that it would take a 2/3rds vote to negate the authorization.

  15. helenk3 says:

    how big will backtrack lose on Syria resolution in the house.

    for five years backtrack has treated congress like they were worth nothing, why should they fall on their knees for him now. They better remember just who they are suppose to represent

    • r u reddy says:

      If Obama starts the war right after the Senate votes “yes” so as to deprive the House of a chance to vote “no”, will anyone in the House try to start Impeachment?

    • Constance says:

      The multinational corporations right?

    • wmcb says:

      Interesting. Depsite the media brainwashing about “warmonger R’s”, the truth is that 7 out of 10 of the highest defense contractor money recipients are Democrats.

      Follow the money. It amazes me that the press has convinced the people that it’s the R’s who are always in bed with the big banks, insurance companies, and defense contractors, when it’s the DEMS who usually get more money from them.

      Not that there aren’t quite a few R’s piggied up to those troughs as well. There are. But the usual assumption is that the R’s get the vast majority, while the Dems are mostly innocent and principled and shit. Which is a flat out lie pushed by our corrupt media.

      • DeniseVB says:

        Poor things 😉 I hear people are overwhelmingly burning up their reps’ phone lines saying No to Syria … a real test of their loyalties, the voters or their bank accounts ?

        • leslie says:

          Can’t even leave a message in Schakkowsky’s mail boxes. None of her offices (multiple local ones or the one in DC) had room yesterday.

  16. helenk3 says:

    backtrack “I don’t need no stinkin UN”

    well now we know where samatha powers got her talking points on the UN

  17. votermom says:

    Obama on Syria: ‘I’m not drawing an analogy to WW II’; Immediately draws analogy to WW II [video]

  18. wmcb says:

    God, I hate this arrogant narcissistic fucker! Again with the “MY military”. No, Obama, the United States military is not your personal playtoy and enforcement arm for your gargantuan ego.

  19. wmcb says:

  20. wmcb says:

  21. wmcb says:

  22. wmcb says:

    The “good guys” that Obama wants to support with air power in toppling Assad? You know, the ones who are eating hearts and torturing prisoners and burning churches? They are posting pictures showing a Jihadi assault on Washington, with our Capitol burning in the background.

    This is who Obama thinks we should be sending arms to and putting our pilots in harms way for. Brilliant, huh?

  23. helenk3 says:

    Syrian rebels post picture of them blowing up US congress.

    I guess that is one way to get the American people on your side

  24. helenk3 says:

    stolen from a commenter at No Quarter House of Representatives.pdf

    Letter to John Boehner from Syrian Parliment.

    a must read

  25. wmcb says:

  26. wmcb says:

    The People are not amused:

  27. The Klown says:

    Has Obama lost MSNBC?

  28. helenk3 says:

    dem strategist praises backtrack’s push for war in Syria, it takes public’s focus of obamacare.

    did you ever think that it would come to this in this country. it is just sick

  29. The Klown says:
  30. votermom says:

    Media matters is reduced to accusing the right of having a crush on Putin

  31. votermom says:

  32. wmcb says:

  33. wmcb says:

    Ace is dead-on about McCain and the “Bombs away” Repubs. Many of us here have been saying this for years. The rank and file of the Republican electorate has undergone a sea change. Anyone who has been paying the slightest attention knows this. The GOP leadership and consultant class continues to try to operate as if this were 1992, or 2004. It isn’t. So they continue to be feckless and puzzled and clueless when what is supposed to work to get the electorate back in line isn’t working anymore.

    The Democrats are facing the same problem with their tired old Big Government Statist solutions that have not actually worked anywhere. There is a huge chunk of the electorate that is so far beyond the same old blue pill/red pill crap that it isn’t even funny.

    * I think McCain like many other Republicans offers reflexive “Let’s Get After Them with Bombs” type statements because they are — or rather were — generally popular with Republican audiences.

    I’ve been saying this for months: I happen to know, because I engage with conservative opinion on this every single day, that such statements are no longer popular with the caucus.

    Not to say there aren’t those who don’t agree, but the days when a “Let’s bomb someone” statement would get automatic applause and guaranteed “Attaboys!” have long since passed.

    It is a serious indictment of the Republican political class that they don’t know this.

  34. westcoaster says:

    cartoon- not too many takers for Obama’s war:

  35. helenk3 says:

    It was not that long ago when a president was not considered a god. Our elected officials were supposed to represent the American people or at least give the impression they did. not provide cover for a bad president. Those were the Good Old Days. Very sad to see them gone

    • DeniseVB says:

      My first memory of a President was Eisenhower. I was in elementary school and I think it was studying about the Presidents I noticed he and I shared a birth date and I sent him a birthday card to tell him that. I GOT ONE BACK !!! We did that for a few years, then lost his retirement address when JFK came into office. Oh yeah, I know it was auto-penned, but as a kid I remember thinking the White House knows where I live ! I felt special.

      • The Klown says:

        I got a letter and an autographed picture from LBJ. Don’t know what ever happened to them.

        • DeniseVB says:

          I may have sent it 😛 My first “big girl” job was for a freshman GOP congressman under LBJ. We sent out a lot of signed photos of everybody 🙂 It’s when I realized my childhood fantasy was crushed—Eisenhower wasn’t really that into me. To this day, I think it’s the only job our reps actually still do. Sigh.

      • leslie says:

        guess what, Denise – – – > now the NSA does, too.

  36. helenk3 says:

    here is diane feinstein telling the world my opinion does not count on Syria

  37. 1539days says:

    I saw Cavuto today and I have to say that I agree with him about McCain playing poker on his iPhone. If a guy who spent 6 years in a POW camp wants to play a game with his remaining dexterity after brutal beatings to alleviate boredom in a dog and pony show of a hearing, I’m not sure I can be outraged. I’m not sure how outraged people would be if he was AGAINST military involvement and was found playing a game.

    That being said, my objection to McCain rests solely on his inability to accept that the US military can achieve a goal without boots on the ground. Even the 1991 Gulf War had about a week of ground forces. This conflict has been going on for months, and there is no clear reason to go in now, now now without thinking.

    • DeniseVB says:

      I have nothing but the utmost respect for McCain and his history, but I’m starting to believe the right and left *snickers* over the past decades that our Senate is where old white guys go to die. These seats shouldn’t be Pope-like For Life. We have the same problem in the House too.

      Johnny Mac was a pilot, it’s the elitest of the elite in the military. My husband was too in Vietnam til he saw the death and POW tolls, so he said F**k this Sh*t and served his second tour as a grunt. His reward for surviving that tour, being a CACO/Recruiter for Southern Calfornia in the early-mid 70’s. But hey, he was a New England surfer dude and grabbed that spot. It was Annette and Tommy on the beach, til….

      I remember, as a young mom by then, him being awoken in the middle of the night to notify families in his area, that their son was NOT on the list of the POW’s being released the next day. Nixon wouldn’t release the list until every MIA was accounted for and families notified. While we celebrated the lucky guys, we were also comforting the those who weren’t, with their families.

      I hate that our nation’s kids and government are forgetting history. What triggered this rant ? My niece, who’s a freshman in college now, was bragging on FB about her professor assigning a “stupid” where were you on 9-11 essay. “how the f**k should I know, I was in first grade. Really? Pearl Harbor happened 5 years before I was even born, and I respect that date.

  38. votermom says:

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