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Douglas Macgregor

When The Lies Come Home

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Diogenes, one of the ancient world’s illustrious philosophers, believed that lies were the currency of politics, and those lies were the ones he sought to expose and debase. To make his point, Diogenes occasionally carried a lit lantern through the streets of Athens in the daylight. If asked why, Diogenes would say he was searching for an honest man.
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30 Years With No Strategy Brought Us the War in Ukraine

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Washington DC has not excelled in grand strategy; the art and science of cost-effectively employing the diplomatic, economic, and informational powers of the United States in combination with its armed forces to secure its national goals and interests. Most of the strategic decisions to use American military power that were made over the last 30 years resulted in one of two strategic outcomes: abject failure (Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Iraq) or a new regional status quo that is untenable without a permanent US military presence far from America’s borders (the Balkans).

The reasons for the discouraging outcomes of the last 30 years can be traced to Washington’s failure to clearly define realistic, attainable goals for US military power. That requires an acknowledgement that American resources and the electorate’s patience are not limitless, and a thorough understanding of the opponent’s interests and capabilities. It seems that regardless of party affiliation Washington approaches national strategy the way the British approach sex, “romantically remote from the distressing biological crudities.”

This inability to recognize that conditions once conducive to Washington’s control of world events are weakening is why the war in Ukraine will end at Russia’s convenience, not ours.
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Soldiers of France



Pessimistic observers of western nation-states express the doubt that in the post-COVID world, a reversal of fortune is possible—a return to historic national strength and greatness in the United States and Europe. The Chinese are certainly convinced that the combination of damaging economic shutdowns and fear mongering from America’s governing elites about an elusive virus that is no more harmful than the flu has only accelerated the decay.
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The Ukraine Crisis Can Be An Opportunity

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The trouble with leading a great power is that, from time to time, the president is obliged to act like the leader of a great power. If ever there was a time for sound presidential leadership, it’s now. With no appreciation for the endlessly renewable force of national self-preservation that animates Moscow’s maneuvers in Ukraine, President Biden’s insulting remarks and hostile sanctions have plunged the United States into a deeper, more dangerous confrontation with Russia in Ukraine, a region of limited strategic interest to the United States.

Putin’s directive to return most of his troops to garrison while leaving their weapon systems and equipment in place along the Ukrainian border should be viewed in Washington as an opportunity to create a measure of stability in U.S.-Russian relations that’s been missing for years. It’s not enough to hurl insults and simply restate what the Biden administration is against. It’s time to explore what kind of alternative to the fragile and dangerous status quo in Ukraine that Washington and Moscow can both support.

Washington did a deplorable job of formulating strategic aims in the Middle East and Afghanistan that justified the sacrifice of American blood and treasure. The president cannot seize the strategic initiative now if Washington continues to react impetuously and emotionally to real or imaginary threats to U.S. and allied interests.

Winston Churchill insisted that most strategic problems can be solved “if they are related to some central design.” Central design implies the guiding influence of strategy. Strategy is not an ideological wish list. Strategy involves an understanding of strategic interests; in this case, grasping the divergence of American and Russian interests. Consider five points.
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Facing The Facts Of War With Russia

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Conflict with Russia may be inevitable. Kiev’s strident threats to resolve the crisis in Eastern Ukraine with force of arms, combined with Washington’s refusal to acknowledge that Moscow actually has legitimate national security interests in Eastern Ukraine, makes it so. Equally troubling, the president sees no particular reason why he should explain to the American people why Washington’s readiness to support Kiev’s use of force against Russia makes strategic sense for America. 

In 1937, when the Imperial Japanese government expressed sincere regret for attacking and sinking the USS. Panay, an American gunboat that had been patrolling China’s Yangtze River, US Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew was not satisfied. He warned the Japanese Foreign Ministry that “Facts mean more than Statements.”

Grew was right. A Biden-Harris guarantee of support for the Ukrainian government’s plan to reconquer its lost territories, including Luhansk, Donetsk, or Crimea, is about as meaningless as the British government’s 1939 guarantee of assistance to the Poles in the event of a German attack on Poland. 

In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided not to retaliate against the Japanese. FDR knew there was no public support in the United States for a war with Japan or any other great power. FDR also resisted pressure from the US Navy’s admirals to retaliate because he knew America’s armed forces were not ready for a full-scale war. As for our British friends, they were not ready to weaken their fleet in the Atlantic to join a fight against Japan when the threat of war with Germany was growing.
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Why Do We Fight? How Do We Fight?

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Today’s political and military leaders have no choice but to project technology and strategic conditions into the future while they develop their forces today. However, before such multi-billion dollar investments are made, critical questions should be answered.

What is the real mission set? In other words, whom do we fight? Where do we fight? How do we fight? And how do we get there? On Memorial Day, we must take a step back to properly address these questions because right now it’s not so clear. What we do have is a military spending strategy that is out of whack with reality and setting us up for failure when real threats arise.

The United States is primarily a global maritime and aerospace power, not a global land power. Washington is known for exaggerating threats, but is the notion of spending to fight a near-simultaneous war with Russia and China in 2030 a realistic goal? Wars with continental powers like Russia, China, or even Turkey or Iran, demand the persistent employment of large and powerful ground forces projected over thousands of miles. U.S. military advantages at sea and in the air are relegated to supporting roles as seen in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
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Make Donald Trump Great Again

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Candidate Donald Trump won the presidency because he talked tough in ways no presidential candidate has done in recent memory, maybe ever. Trump left no sacred cow unscathed with searing attacks on the Iraq War, bad trade deals, Sen. John McCain, and the most sacred cow of them all—illegal immigration. Trump’s words resonated, and millions of Americans delivered victory for Trump at the polls.

As president, Trump’s words remain tough, his actions less so. Trump often praises American military heroes like Gen. George Patton; a man who subscribed to the philosophy of relentless attack. But unlike Patton’s bold and decisive battlefield leadership, Trump's tough talk produces few tangible results. His meandering speeches inspire, but they do not translate into coherent, sustainable policy.

Trump came to office with an instinctive grasp of what mattered most to his countrymen—building the Mexican Border wall, reinvigorating the US economy, securing better trade deals for US industries and improving relations with Beijing and Moscow. To his enduring credit, Trump always understood that the nation’s twenty-plus trillion-dollar sovereign debt combined with the American electorate’s growing resistance to endless wars overseas made the withdrawal of US Forces from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq imperative.
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NATO Is Not Dying. It’s a Zombie.

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How do you know when a person is positively dead? Well, check for a pulse.

Walter Russell Mead checked the pulse of the Atlantic Alliance in a recent op-ed and concluded that NATO is dying. But Mead is wrong. NATO is simply a zombie periodically reanimated through various methods, usually voodoo magic.

Yet, reanimation has its limits. Even Zombies eventually die. With Georgia, a small state in the Caucasus Mountains that is wedged in between Russia, Turkey and Iran, lobbying hard to become NATO’s newest member, it’s useful to understand why.

When the life ran out of NATO with the demise of the Soviet threat, Sen. Richard Lugar was among the first to conclude in 1993 that NATO must go “out of area or out of business.” This proved to be a powerful infusion of voodoo magic that eventually took the form of a US-led NATO military intervention into the Balkans, which is where NATO sought to extend democracy at gunpoint to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo between 1994 and 1999.

Reanimation received a big boost with NATO’s 1994 “partnership for peace program.” Predictably, the Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and virtually everyone in Eastern Europe compelled to live under Soviet occupation after World War II lined up to become NATO partners. Why not? What East European State would not want a direct line to Washington, DC that promised military assistance against the Russian menace that all believed would inevitably return?
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