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Home Afghanistan recent War on Terror Why America Can't Win Wars

Why America Can't Win Wars

"Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans." 

General George S. Patton 

"It's our belief that one day mujahideen will have victory, and Islamic law will come not to just Afghanistan, but all over the world. We are not in a hurry. We believe it will come one day. Jihad will not end until the last day."

Taliban commander to CNN

Why can't America win wars? 

You've gotta fight a war to win a war. And we don't fight wars. In my upcoming article on the disaster in Afghanistan, I warn that we've lost the ability to define what a war is and why we fight them.

"If we can’t go to war for ourselves, not for
democracy, human rights, or so that Afghan girls can go to school, then we will lose soldiers, lose wars, and lose our nation," I write. 

The average American spent the last decade wondering what the hell we were doing in Afghanistan.

It's a good question with all the usual bad answers. We were propping up a government that wouldn't exist without us. We were exporting our ideals. We were trying to win hearts and minds. We were trying to stabilize an inherently unstable part of the world. What we weren't doing was fighting and winning.

Wars, like stories, are simple things if you define a goal that can be achieved by military means.

Few of our goals could be achieved by military means and certainly not by the ones we were using. 

The Taliban know what they're fighting for. Not only don't we know what we're fighting for, but we couldn't define victory except in terms of Afghanistan turning into San Francisco with coffee shops, courses on feminism, and LGBT parades. The Taliban are fighting a culture war by military means. Our elites tried to do the same thing in Afghanistan without being able to define an enemy or victory.

The same establishment that excels at fighting culture wars against Americans keeps discovering that its toolbox of activism, media bias, and victimhood fails miserably outside the western world.

You can't win a culture war if you don't understand a culture.

The Russian and Chinese Communists understood that they were out to suppress Islam. The Chinese Communists are still doing it. Compare their tactics of forcing Uighur men to shave their beards and drink alcohol to America funding feminism and democracy in Afghanistan. Undermining traditional culture worked in America, they assumed that it would work in Afghanistan. They assumed that they could co-opt Islam the way they have elements of Christianity and Judaism into their woke project.

Their repeat failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Europe should be a wake-up call to their bright future in Little Mogadishu and all the Islamic enclaves that they've created in America. 

But it won't be.

Up until the very last moment, the State Department believed that it could co-opt the Taliban into the political system they had set up in Afghanistan. Elements of it still seem to believe that they can even as the Jihadists advance into Kabul. Victory, such as it was, had come to be defined as the Taliban seeing reason and deciding to stop being Jihadists. Three administrations bought into this dumb fantasy.

Jihadists who believe that "Islamic law will come not to just Afghanistan, but all over the world" are not interested in playing Let's Make a Deal except as Taqiyya to keep the infidels off-balance.

The Taliban play to win. We don't.

That's the simple answer to why we haven't won wars in a long time and aren't about to start. 

American soldiers are the best. They win battles all the time. When faced against an enemy that will stand and fight, our men roll over them. We aren't losing those kinds of battles: we keep losing wars in which the leaders can't define what a war is or what victory looks like in military terms.

Let's get back to Patton for a moment. "Sure, we all want to go home. We want to get this war over with. But you can't win a war lying down. The quickest way to get it over with is to get the bastards who started it" and "I don't want any messages saying 'I'm holding my position.' We're not holding a goddamned thing. We're advancing constantly."

What were we doing in Afghanistan for 15 years? Were we getting anything over it? Were we getting anyone? Were we winning a war so we could go home or were we holding our positions? 

Wars can be won when you're out to defeat the enemy. 

When you're not out to defeat the enemy, you never win the war and you never go home until you get tired of holding your position and waiting for the culture to change. 

The inability to define war or victory isn't a military problem: it's a cultural problem.

We can't win wars because while Patton's "Americans play to win all the time. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war" may still ring true in parts of the country, it's as alien to the elites who run the country as the Taliban are. It's a strange species of exotica for people who drink organic seltzer, hand out participation trophies, and spend all their time worrying about victimhood.

They view the military as a means to a non-military end. That's how we ended up in Afghanistan.

Stability, cultural transformation, and all the rest of it are non-military ends. If you want to use the military to achieve a non-military end, you have to engage in conquest and then use force to transform a region or a society. That's what the Taliban did and that's what they'll be doing again.

After successfully using the military for a military end, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, defeating our named enemies, our elites embarked on an impotent program of cultural change in which they couldn't tell themselves the truth about what they were doing or even explain why the military was there.

They assumed that they were liberating the innate forces of progress and civilization which would thrive if we just had some soldiers there to protect them. No wonder the non-European parts of the world were laughing at us. What the hell were we doing in Afghanistan? That's what we were doing in Afghanistan.

And so many places before it. We were trying to protect client states that couldn't stand on their own. We were practicing imperialism without the empire and it was always bound to fall apart on us.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Sun Tzu

Americans don't know the enemy. And increasingly our elites don't know ourselves. 

They can't define what a war is or how to win it. And they sure as hell can't define the enemy, let alone know the enemy. 

They've lost the cultural skills to understand what war is and what victory looks like.

And they're the ones calling the shots.


  1. The simple truth is that in the west we're too soft, we're too squeamish about what must be done.

    When you go to war, you go to war with the idea that you are going to genocide your enemy. Period.

    If its not worth killing every man, woman and child in your enemy's country you don't go to war. The fact that we set the bar so low (this stupid idea that "its not a war, its a police action" means we will always enter these conflicts where we spend a lot of blood and treasure for zero gain (ultimately turning much of the world against us and showing the world that we are not loyal friends to anyone as the "collaborators" in the target country are always left to be put against the wall when we eventually tire of the expense and leave).

    1. well said. William Tecumsah Sherman agreed with you. go to wikiquote

  2. “I’ll tell you what war is all about. It’s about killing people. If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting. There are no innocent civilians. It is their government and you are fighting a people, you are not trying to fight an armed force anymore. So it doesn’t bother me so much to be killing the so-called innocent bystanders.

    "I think there are many times when it would be most efficient to use nuclear weapons. However, the public opinion in this country and throughout the world throw up their hands in horror when you mention nuclear weapons, just because of the propaganda that’s been fed to them.

    "A weapon is a weapon and it really doesn’t make much difference how you kill a man. If you have to kill him, well, that’s the evil to start with and how you do it becomes pretty secondary. I think your choice should be which weapon is the most efficient and most likely to get the whole mess over with as early as possible."

    -- General Curtis LeMay, America’s longest serving 4-Star in history; father of Strategic Area Bombing, and later the Commander of USAF Strategic Air Command. He’s the one American credited with the deaths of more enemy than any other; over 350,000 enemy soldiers and civilians at a minimum

  3. "The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naïve theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.

    "The aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive…should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.

    "… the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories."

    -- Sir Arthur Harris, Commander of RAF Bomber Command during WWII

  4. “You have to do horrible things if you want the war to end.”

    -- General Ulysses S. Grant

    “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”

    -- General William T. Sherman

  5. Anonymous15/8/21

    Islam is assimilating the West. France, Germany, Detroit. That is nation building. It takes people who are committed to the cause and time measured over several generations. Conquest without war and on the cheap.

  6. Anonymous15/8/21

    Maybe, they are doing it on purpose, lol. Culture is everything. The US has lost its identity and whatever the culture it has. An average tenure for an empire is 250 years; the US is at 245. Move along. Learn how to speak 5-7 Chinese dialects.

  7. Look at the bright side guys and gals - were out. Most Americans have wanted this for a long time. I just hope our covert war in Africa trying to protect Christians and the Soudi's doesn't go south.

  8. Anonymous16/8/21

    Daniel, you’ve stated the issue we either confront,
    or die in suicidal dithering. Our intellectuals
    have betrayed us with their nonsense. Understanding
    enemies and war is common sense Americans must
    reclaim. In possession of our confidence and logic,
    we are indomitable. Let’s wake up.


  9. From a retired 30-year stint in the US Armed Forces, and retired after another career as a cop, with experience up the kazoo, now older than dirt, there is only one dictum that matters in life, and in any conflict, large or small, localized or international. Are you ready for this? WIN DECISIVELY OR LOSE INEVITABLY!" That is the #1 rule in any conflict, and by doing just that, for the bleeding hearts among us, ultimately you minimize casualties on both sides, and particularly of those you might refer to as the innocent. Now you know (the single reason) why the United States of America has lost every military engagement since WWII. Stated differently for those who would argue, if you're not in it to win it, why even start your bellicose behavior and attitude, or get embroiled in a conflict - for any reason?! Never get into a fight, let alone start a fight, unless you're willing to win decisively, brutally if necessary. Failing that, you will always lose!

  10. To win a war you need to kill people. Lots of them. Until you won.

    1. Anonymous19/8/21

      The US Defense Department had planned the death of US contractors in Afghanistan because it perceived them (the mostly white US citizens) as the only group unspoiled by Critical Race Theory and capable to stand up to BLM and Antifa. The US Army is being inculcated into the "forever white guilt" and will not stand up to its brass! The Afghan defeat broke up the USSR. Will it brake up the US into blue and red entities, both eventually occupied by China?


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