Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Consider the pathetic meaninglessness of our current military engagement over Libya.

Three of the world's mightiest military powers - countries with legitimate axes to grind against Moammar the Mad - instead quibbled and dithered for years - decades even - before the spectacle of a popular uprising being brutally crushed at last shamed us into doing something, anything . . . and even then we approach it half-heartedly.

It's not as if the self-proclaimed Modern-Day Hannibal hasn't given us enough reason already; the bombing of the LaBelle Disco and Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie were but his most visible crimes.

In December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 was strewn across fields near Lockerbie, Scotland, after a Libyan-supplied bomb exploded on board killing 270 people.

Gaddafi is a legitimate sponsor of international terrorism, and he's a total nutjob on top of it all. ODDYSEY DAWN could also be known as "Operation Long Over-Due".

Our President had to be coerced into committing by an openly mutinous Secretary of State, and on Day Three of combat operations objectives anything resembling a plan, stated objectives, or an exit strategy have yet to be described.

And yet this miniscule engagement over the Gulf of Sidra is enough to fascinate the world, and to pull the media off a truly significant event; an earthquake and tsunami of epic, biblical proportions, and a subsequent nuclear accident involving six reactors.

And it is miniscule; we're going to crush this guy and blow his forces to smithereens - more than likely within the space of a fortnight. And yet the so-called "experts" in the media dish up comparison after comparison to Iraq & Afghanistan; as if huge land engagements involving hundreds of thousands of forces against countries that harbored legitimate physical threats against the people of the Free World can be compared to this maritime adventure. I say adventure for this is hardly a war.

Of course, by historic standards, Iraq itself was a microscopic war.

Consider - in the first eight years of Iraq, we lost as many people as we lost in a single day at Normandy.

By the same standards, Vietnam was a low-intensity conflict. Over the course of ten years we lost just under fifty thousand; we lost that many in three years in Korea, and in three days at Gettysburg.

This is the illusion of body count math, of course - to the single soldier who is killed, wounded, maimed or taken captive, what he is involved in is very real, very legitimate war - even if it only lasts for fifteen minutes.

Nowadays the sheer lethality of modern weapons preclude the requirement for clashes between huge armies a la Waterloo or the Somme; an Infantryman with a shoulder-fired weapon negates a 55-ton tank.

A shoulder-fired, man-portable anti-aircraft defense (MANPAD) missiles allowed a bunch of religious zealots of a 13th century society - the Mujahadeen - to defeat one of the largest, most powerful militaries in the world - the Soviet Union. While at the same time the amplifying effect of the modern media allows tiny symbolic conflicts - such as we are witnessing now - to gain great meaning.

Endless war? Yes, of course. Meaningful significance of these wars? Less and less. Consider this Libya thing - he's a tin horn dictator sitting on top of a huge puddle of oil. Yet nobody even pretends its about the oil - because it really isn't. For more than a decade we chose not to buy our oil from Gaddafi, at cost and sacrifice to ourselves. Now, we can buy from him or we can go through this unpleasant business, expend huge amounts of treasure (which we haven't got), shed the precious blood of our best and our brightest (for what? for whom?) to buy it from the next crowd who take over. We don't even know if we LIKE them or not - for all we know, they're WORSE than the current management - if such a thing is imaginable.

Let it be shown for the record: since that September morning in Tokyo Harbor 67 years ago, on the deck of the USS Missouri . . .

. . . there hasn't been a single day on this Earth without a war going on somewhere, not a single day of total, complete peace anywhere on Earth . . . the shooting never stopped.


Today's Bird HERE



  1. Sean, you are wrong! You note; ". . . there hasn't been a single day on this Earth without a war going on somewhere, not a single day of total, complete peace anywhere on Earth . . . the shooting never stopped."

    While I was a Navy officer, I attended an classified briefing during the mid-80s; must have been when I was the executive officer of the Cubi Point ASWOC. The briefing emphasized that for once, for this ENTIRE WEEK, no nation was actively engaged in mililtary operations. Nobody was shooting at anyone. (He may have been ignoring insurgents and rebellions.)

    I'm not aware that it ever happened again, but I do know that it did happen ONCE.

  2. Ken -

    Yes of course I am including insurgencies and rebellions.

    I'd be interested to know what time frame you were at Cubi. For what it's worth, the title I gave this piece came from something I said to a colleague one time, in the Philippines; he said "I'd sure hate to die in a sh-thole like this,"

    to which I replied, "I don't know what sh-thole I'm going to die in, but I'd sure hate to die FOR a sh-thole like this."

    Thanks for your service,

  3. SL, that was a brilliant piece of literary work. People are so quick to criticize and so slow to think. Most of the "protestors" were probably not even born when a Boeing 747, Flight 103 was BLOWN out of the sky on Wednesday the 21st of December, 1988 by a nut-job, head of state, named Gadhafi. Our president even went over there to try to make nice with the moron. I don’t know who is the bigger moron!

  4. Whoa . . . gotta distinguish between casualties and combat deaths. U.S. combat deaths were about 47,000 in Vietnam, 34,000 in Korea, 2,500 on D-Day. Gettysburg combat deaths were on the order of 7,000 to 8,000 for both sides combined.

  5. Hi, Sean. 1986 thru 1989; I left the P.I. the week before Col. Honasan's coup attempt.

    I must have had the easiest military career ever. 21 years in the USN, and I spent a grand total of three nights aboard ship. Of course, you would not be the first to say that my nights aboard ship don't really count, because it was the R.M.S Queen Mary, which is welded to the pier in Long Beach, but I say that a ship is a ship! I flew in P-3 Orion aircraft, converted Lockheed Electra airliners really. They were too big to come aboard an aircraft carrier, so our "sea duty" was being based out of stray islands like Iceland, Midway, Diego Garcia, Guam the Philippines, and that TOUGH assignment, BERMUDA!

  6. You and I have crossed paths, then. I was in the P.I. during that time. 1989 was the Year of Living Dangerously for me.