Tag Archives: william lind

William Lind: a voice from the past explains our broken army

Summary: We applaud the heroism and sacrifices of our troops, but remain blind to the incapacity of our army. Here William Lind explains our military’s core problem and how to fix it. Only our intervention will make this possible (excerpt through crushing defeat, as happened to Prussia).

“The spirit of the army is the spirit of its officers.”
— Attributed to Prussian General Ernst von Rüchel (1754-1823).

Samuel Pepys by John Hayls (1666).

Samuel Pepys by John Hayls (1666). The National Gallery.

 

A Voice From the Past

By William S. Lind

From traditionalRIGHT
25 August 2015

Here with their generous permission

 

Last year, friends gave me a splendid Christmas present in the form of all ten volumes of The Diary of Samuel Pepys covering the years 1660-1670. (As if that were insufficient, they accompanied it with a richly decorated chamber pot for the Imperial Library). Pepys, a civilian, was primarily responsible for developing the first modern naval administration, which turned a collection of ships into the Royal Navy.

The diary’s entry for July 4, 1663, touches on a broader matter. After visiting a general muster of the King’s Guards, Pepys wrote,

Where a goodly sight to see so many fine horse and officers, and the King, Duke (of York) and others come by a-horseback . . . (I) did stand to see the horse and foot march by and discharge their guns, to show a French Marquesse (for whom this muster was caused) the goodness of our firemen; which endeed was very good . . . yet methought all these gay men are not soldiers that must do the King’s business, it being such as these that lost the old King (Charles I) all he had and were beat by the most ordinary fellows that could be.

Pepys’ theme, the defeat of parade-ground armies by “most ordinary fellows”, is an old one. It appears to be unknown to our own military, or, more likely, they know it but cannot conceive it applies to them.

But it does. With all their vastly expensive equipment, they can put on a wonderful show, shows such as Gulf War I and the initial phase of Gulf War II. But once they no longer face another king’s Royal Guards and come up against those ordinary fellows, they lose. The U.S. Marines, who put on a show all the time, and a very convincing one, are now 0-4 against guys in bathrobes and flip-flops armed with rusty AKs. Pepys’ age-old theme repeats itself.

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William Lind describes 2 visions of America’s future

Summary:  What will America look like in in 2025, after another decade of our long war? In the second of this series William Lind describes two scenarios, failed and successful responses to risks regarded as likely among paleoconservatives. Seeing visions of the future like this can help you decide how to vote in November 2016. Perhaps the fears of each group are what most clearly distinguishes Left and Right in America.

Coin Toss

 

Our future as two sides of the coin
By William S. Lind

 

The first toss of the coin: a dark vision

America’s “long war” continues to prove Sun Tzu correct: no nation ever benefits from a long war. From Afghanistan through Iraq to war with Iran (following Congress’s rejection of President Obama’s deal with Iran, which led to Iran building an atomic bomb, which led to an American attack), in Syria, and now in Saudi Arabia, America has failed to attain closure while spending itself into ruin. As I write in this year of 2025, the Federal debt is six times the GNP, revenues cover only 23% of federal expenditures, and it takes 25,000 dollars to buy one yuan {currency of China, now worth $0.16}. Almost half of the federal budget goes to paying interest on the debt. It is rumored the Estates General will soon be called, in the form of a Constitutional Convention.

In Washington, since the explosion of a suitcase nuke in Seattle on 25 December 2024, both political parties agree we must continue to fight. Although al Qaeda claimed credit for the Seattle bombing, American intelligence traced the origin of the plot to Saudi Arabia. This was no surprise; everyone had known for decades that most Sunni extremism had its roots in Saudi money. Previously, the United States had to pretend otherwise because of its dependence on Saudi oil. Now, with imported oil unaffordable, that was irrelevant.

Coin Toss: heads

The Saudi war is following the usual course. The initial American invasion, with three divisions, quickly captured Riyadh and destroyed the Saudi state. Fourth Generation war goes on in all the populated parts of Saudi Arabia — even the Shiites are fighting us, at the same time they fight the Sunnis — and jihadi volunteers pour in to defend Mecca and Medina, both of which U.S. troops occupied at the demand of our military commanders, who said they were being used as safe havens.

American air, drone and missile strikes hit daily throughout the Islamic Middle East and Southwest Asia. None of what we do appears to make any difference. Washington’s policy remains one of serial failure: when what we do fails in one venue, we go on to do the same thing somewhere else. Only complete financial ruin, which is rapidly approaching, appears likely to change anything.

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William Lind looks at our generals, sees “rank incompetence”.

Summary: Concluding this series about our senior military leaders we have a typically brilliant and brutal analysis by William Lind. This would have been shocking news in 2000; a decade of failed wars show it to be the simple truth. We can do better, but the Pentagon will not reform without pressure from us.  Rightly so; it’s a professional military — but it’s our responsibility.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

“Chabrias said that the best commanders were those who understood their enemies. … He also said that an army of stags led by a lion was more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag.”

— From “The Sayings of Kings and Great Commanders” by Plutarch (46-120). Chabrias was a great Athenian general (d 357 BC). It need not be either of these choices; we can have lions led by lions — and even a few generals who understand our foes.

Lions led by donkeys

Rank Incompetence

By William S. Lind
The American Conservative, January/February 2013
Posted with the generous permission of the author and the TAC.“

It was tragic that the career of General David Petraeus was brought down by a mere affair. It should have ended several years earlier as a consequence of his failure as our commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus, like every other theater commander in that war except Stanley McChrystal, could have been replaced by a concrete block and nothing would have changed. They all kept doing the same things while expecting a different result.

Thomas Ricks’s recent book The Generals has reintroduced into the defense debate a vital factor the press and politicians collude in ignoring: military incompetence. It was a major theme of the Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and ’80s. During those years, a friend of mine who was an aide to a Marine Corps commandant asked his boss how many Marine generals, of whom there were then 60-some, could competently fight a battle. The commandant came up with six. And the Marine Corps is the best of our services.

Military incompetence does not begin at the rank of brigadier general. An old French proverb says that the problem with the generals is that we select them from among the colonels. Nonetheless, military competence — the ability to see quickly what to do in a military situation and make it happen — is more rare at the general officer level. A curious aspect of our promotion system is that the higher the rank, the smaller the percentage of our competent officers.

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