Will the Afghan War Ever End?

Will the Afghan War Ever End?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

From the mid-14th century until the middle of the 15th century, British and French forces fought what has always been termed the “Hundred Years War.” That struggle actually lasted 116 years. Which means that the U.S.-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan must continue fighting for one hundred more years to exceed the duration of the famous British-French encounter. It almost seems like the two sides are trying.

U.S. 10th Mountain Division soldiers in Afghanistan. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Already the scene of over 2,400 American dead, the on-going war in Afghanistan began shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks carried out by four hijacked airplanes. Initially, the goal sought to take on Al Qaeda for its role in the enormous 9/11 murder and destruction. This meant breaking up the Taliban, the militant Islamic forces that had seized control of portions of the country and were suspected of sheltering Al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden. But the Taliban proved to be a tougher foe than expected and defeating it has been unachievable to date. Instead, this supposedly weaker brand of Islamic militancy has grown stronger. And finding bin Laden turned out to be impossible. (He was later discovered in Pakistan where daring American raiders killed him.)

Taliban forces have been using weapons given to them to oppose Russian invaders who stormed into their country in 1979. After ten years, the Russians gave up and went home. The guns and ammunition still in Taliban hands have then been employed to fight Americans.

Military leaders soon adopted a new and completely different strategy involving an effort to rebuild the war-torn country. Other nearby nations – Russia, Pakistan, India, even Iran – had their own designs which were not always similar to what the U.S. forces were told was their mission. When those conflicting goals were added to ethnic domestic combativeness, the turf-protecting warlords, and the ineffectiveness of the nation’s political leaders, the effort began to appear unsolvable. And that was only a few years after the first U.S. forces arrived in the land-locked nation.

U.S. forces then found themselves assigned to destroy the country’s lucrative opium production along with training local forces, all the while combating crooks and incompetents posing as Afghan leaders. Many of the trainees turned out to be enemies within their ranks. An American soldier would spend days, maybe weeks, teaching an Afghani how to be a good soldier only to have the newly trained individual turn his gun on the man who taught him how to use it.

Along the way, NATO assumed supreme command of the operation. Without doubt, many of the coalition forces have no idea that NATO, a UN subsidiary led by a European politician, is calling the shots. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has recently aired a new strategy that will take aim at Taliban sanctuaries. Doesn’t this mean that Taliban bases were previously untouchable? Is that any way to wage a war? A retired Marine Corps general, Mattis also seems to be violating a cardinal principle of warfare: Don’t let an enemy know your plans. Doing so destroys the element of surprise, always a key feature of warfare. But no more will the U.S. forces fight Taliban only after being attacked. And more forces will be added to those already in Afghanistan.

Will this new strategy lead to victory? Or will more years be added to the agonizingly victoryless campaign of the past 16 years? A hundred year war isn’t likely, but with the UN ultimately in charge and knowing that limited war serves the overall drive to create a world government, we should hardly be surprised if – new strategy or not – this war will continue for many more years.

Be a part of the driving force to Get US Out! of the United Nations! Learn more at The John Birch Society’s Get US Out! of the UN action project page.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Yes, the Troops Going to Syria Will Be Wearing Boots

Yes, the Troops Going to Syria Will Be Wearing Boots
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

For many years, prominent leaders in the U.S. government have worked to get our country into wars. They seem to know that war always means more government, and they likely also realize that war speeds moral decline which paves the way for assumption of even more power.

The USS Carl Vinson and support ships deployed for combat operations in Syria and Iraq in 2014 (image from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet Flickr account, U.S. Navy Photo/Released, some rights reserved).

Early in his presidency, Barack Obama promised to end America’s involvement in Middle Eastern wars, even to reduce America’s military presence in the region. Those promises didn’t last long.

The U.S. Constitution is very clear about the need for a congressional declaration of war to send U.S. forces into any conflict. That requirement has been in the dustbin of history ever since it was last employed in 1941 immediately after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Significantly, the struggle known as World War II is the last conflict America won.

Congressional inability or unwillingness to demand adherence to the Constitution war-making clause led to congressional passage of the War Powers Act in 1973. It said that a president must ask Congress to approve his use of our nation’s forces when he wants to or when he already has sent them into any conflict. It was a weak attempt to address government’s misuse of military might, and it clearly amounts to congressional willingness to ignore what the Constitution states. But even it has been ignored as recent presidents have obtained authorization for war from the United Nations.

Over the past five years, Mr. Obama has sent military trainers to aid rebel forces in Syria and he has approved air strikes against ISIS and its control of a portion of that embattled nation. But he has repeatedly stated that he would not put “American boots on the ground in Syria.”

In September 2014, Obama said he would continue the airstrikes and expand the battle against ISIS. Air strikes are clearly a tactic of war. But he firmly maintained, “We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” After the terrorist attacks in Europe and America, he announced sending an additional 250 U.S. troops to Syria. “They’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground,” he insisted. “But they will be essential in providing training and assisting local forces.”

Somehow, those 250 additional members of the U.S. military are not to be considered combatants participating in a war zone. What should they do if the forces of ISIS attack them? Or if one of the rebel groups seeking to overthrow Syria’s government attacks them? Can they fight back? Shouldn’t they expect to be targeted? What will be America’s response be if some are killed or wounded? Might the presence of U.S. military forces in this area encourage more terrorist attacks against our nation and others?

“No boots on the ground in Syria,” said Mr. Obama numerous times. Yet, the 250 who are joining other “trainers” in Syria will surely be wearing boots. And the potential for more Americans to be sent into this region grows almost daily. This piecemeal approach is how the Vietnam War started and grew so greatly before being lost.

Our nation seems to be heading into another conflict with no constitutional declaration of war. If combatting the military forces of ISIS with U.S. troops is deemed necessary, the only way to proceed is to declare war and then win it. Don’t seek authorization from the UN. Don’t play semantic games with the lives of those who serve in our nation’s military.

Wars should be won, not dragged out with half-measures, political jargon, and a clear unwillingness to rely on the U.S. Constitution. If military action is called for, only a clear intention to declare war with an intention to win is acceptable. The only other course would be to cease having the U.S. be the policeman of the world, bring the troops home from the more than 100 nations where they currently are, start minding only America’s business, and Get US OUT! of the United Nations.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Combat Is No Place For Women

Combat Is No Place For Women
by JBS President John F. McManus

Capt. Kristen Griest, Class of 2011, West Point. (By U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez/ Released [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons).

Recently, news reports flooded the nation about two women soldiers who had passed all requirements and were now Rangers, the Army’s elite group of warriors. All Americans were supposed to cheer their accomplishment. But one of the two, both of whom graduated from West Point, stated in an interview that she certainly couldn’t lift the amount of weight her male counterparts could.

No one in the large gathering of media representatives pressed this new Ranger even though she should have been asked whether she can manage to carry one end of a stretcher bearing a wounded comrade on the way to a medical station. Then, she should have been asked if her natural female cycle that brings to most women such consequences as depression, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, self-abuse, and more that men don’t experience. Did she know that when acceptance of women at the nation’s service academies began, physical standards were lowered? Had she read former infantry officer Brian Mitchell’s 1989 book “Weak Link: The Feminization of the American Military” where he noted that when women recruits couldn’t complete a required run in boots while carrying a rifle, the new standard allowed both women and men to perform the task in sneakers? Many more questions that should have been asked can be cited but none were offered.

1st. Lt. Shaye Haver, Class of 2012, West Point. (By U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ron Burgundy/ Released [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons).

Having served three years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps gives this writer an excellent perch from which to answer the question, “Should women be placed in combat roles in the military?” And the answer is “No!” Serving in our nation’s armed forces should never be looked upon as a right possessed by everyone. Instead, it’s a privilege, and it should be awarded only to those who qualify – mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Retired Army Brigadier General Andrew Gatsis expressed outrage when the matter of women being given equal status with men became an issue in the 1980s. He stated:

No woman should have the right to go into combat simply because she desires to do so. It’s a matter of jeopardizing the lives of soldiers who depend on all members of the team to do their full share, and of the right of every American citizen to have the strongest national defense possible to protect his and her freedom.

A highly decorated Vietnam veteran, Gatsis had already witnessed situations where female soldiers even in non-combat situations couldn’t lift heavy equipment, drive a truck through rough terrain, erect bulky tents, dig latrines, or construct ammunition bunkers. He insisted that the violence always present during combat “calls for force, and force requires physical strength” that women don’t possess. Current presidential candidate James Webb, a Vietnam veteran, spoke out about this issue in his 1989 article entitled “Women Can’t Fight,” published in Washingtonian magazine.

There are many more reasons why females should not be assigned combat duty. Plenty of opportunities to serve in uniform exist in a variety of non-combat assignments. The current policy that leads to opening every position in the military should be reversed. A likely enemy would send only men while our men in battle would invariably be forced to carry not only their assigned load but also a portion of whatever is expected of a woman. Unit morale, the fundamentally important motivator of all troops in battle, would surely suffer. We conclude: Women can serve in the military but placing them in combat is not only foolish, it endangers all participants.

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Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Women Don’t Belong in Combat

Women Don’t Belong in Combat
by JBS President John F. McManus

Two years ago, the Obama administration announced plans to force the nation’s military to place women in direct combat units beginning in January 2016. This would mean that women would be assigned to the Army’s Rangers, the Navy Seals, elite units of the Marine Corps, and even physically demanding assignments in the Air Force. Opponents of the plan believe that lowering physical standards in such units would unfavorably impact them. Lowered standards (push-ups, pull-ups, endurance runs, etc.) have already shown that women can’t do what a man can routinely perform.

The push for women in the military scored one of its first victories in 1976 when the service academies were forced to admit women in 1976. Forgotten was the very purpose of having military academies at West Point, Annapolis, and Colorado Springs. That purpose involved training leaders to meet the enemy on the field of battle – which is no place for women. As the various moves to overturn the 200-year-old practice of barring women from a military man’s job continued, Retired Brigadier General Andrew Gatsis stated in 1987:

No woman, even as a volunteer, should have the right to go into combat simply because she desires to do so. It is not a question of what she wants or is her right. It is a matter of jeopardizing the soldiers who depend on all members of the team to do their full share, and the right of every American citizen to have the strongest national defense posture to protect his and her freedom.

As far back as 25 years ago, columnist Phyllis Schlafly agreed with many opponents of the near-suicidal policy of opening up all segments of the military to women. In 1989, she wrote: “Dying for your country isn’t the purpose of the armed forces. Their mission is to make enemy troops die for their country. Men are demonstrably better at that task than women.”

As has been their custom, high-level Obama administration personnel are blocking access to already compiled reports of female performance in simulated combat situations. What is already known must evidently be shielded from scrutiny to keep the announced plan from being implemented.

The Obama team has refused to produce copies of its plans even after receiving formal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Thus, lawyers with the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center have sued appropriate federal agencies to obtain such information. Among other documents, they are seeking results already known about the physical deficiencies of women in general. Military leaders already know the results of strength tests conducted on approximately 400 men and women Marines. These show 80 percent of males successfully lifted 115 pounds while only 8.7 percent of women succeeded. Other tests demonstrated that a significantly high proportion of females cannot load a tank, carry a comrade on a stretcher for a reasonable distance, and perform several other tasks expected of combat-ready warriors.

There’s a lot at stake here. The well-being of females who might be sent into combat would be placed in jeopardy. And because we know how male prisoners have been treated by some adversaries, no woman should ever be made vulnerable to capture. The safety of males who would be forced to rely on physically deficient female comrades has to be considered. And, lastly, our nation itself would become more vulnerable if some who are sent to defend it are physically unable to do the job. Wearing a military uniform of our nation isn’t a right; it’s a privilege that should be made available only to those can be expected to perform at the highest level.

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A former Marine officer, Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.