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'surfin the 'stans - the past and future of the region and america's interests

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In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 8:22:33 AM PDT
L. King says:
"But nine chances out of ten the "threat" of Iran will be resolved without war and to, at least, our partial satisfaction -- if we don't make any colossal blunders."

I do support the notion that the threat that Iran poses can be resolved without war, but one has to understand the nature of the threat that Iran poses. Let's listen to former CIA Director James Woosely:

"Second point is about capabilities. People tend to think that most change is linear, and so if you hear that it only takes 3 percent enriched uranium to power a nuclear plant and it takes 90 percent enriched uranium for a weapon, most of us tend to think that, well, you have to do 30 times more work on the enriched uranium and only then you will have enough for the bomb. Wrong. Those curves are not linear. Once you have 3 percent enriched uranium you have done about 60 percent of the work you need in order to have weapons grade nuclear material Once you have done enriched uranium to 20 percent, which we know Iran is doing now, you have done 80 to 85 percent of the work you need to get to weapons grade. And indeed with some types of bomb design, admittedly rather simple, not particularly effective, nothing that any bomb designer from Lawrence Livermore or any place that worked on these weapons would have been proud of, but something that would go boom and have a mushroom cloud and radioactivity. You can do that under some circumstances with the 20 percent enriched uranium that the Iranians are already producing. "

However I'm noticing the tendency to move away from my op to larger, more grandiose topics, and to some extent they are more interesting because they are dramatic. My original question was about the 'stans, their viability and the interests of the West. They used to be considered both uninteresting and, following the ideas of George F. Kennan, within the sphere of Soviet interests. With the fall of the Soviet Union their status on the world stage comes into play.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 8:56:00 AM PDT
John M. Lane says:
Horses don't have feathers, Smallchief and I believe you're minimizing Saddam's non-compliance with the truce.

Are you really defending Saddam? You should step away from the Kool-Aid while you still can. The US has a number of bases in the Middle East. We didn't need Iraq. One US carrier task force would provide a better base with less trouble.

By the way, that nuclear weapon the IDF bombed in the Syrian desert came from Saddam according to Georges Sada, his Air Force chief. And how many hundreds of tons of "yellow cake" were hauled out of Iraq?

I'm glad we got Saddam. Khaled Sheik Mohammad was an agent of Saddam's secret police as well as a chum of Osama's. There are plenty of reasons for taking Saddam out. He thought we wouldn't do it while we were engaging al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Like you, however, he was mistaken. That seems to happen a lot when you're rooted too firmly out there in left field.

Walk toward the light, Smallchief. There's still time!

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 9:17:44 AM PDT
Smallchief says:
The basic point, John, is that you only undertake a major war when there is a serious threat to U.S. national security. Saddam wasn't a serious threat. And he wasn't going to become a serious threat. He was contained by the embargo, by the UN sanctions, by the no-fly zone, by the fact that everybody in the region knew he was a loser. He was an irritant -- and that's all he was.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 9:22:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2012 11:52:22 AM PDT
"Cooler heads prevailed"

Were they? Or were they just so short sighted and wanting to end it that they did not care about Poland and the slav's (Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, etc.) and the certainly did not care about Germany. They had lied to the American people about what a nice guy ole' "Uncle Joe" was at the time so this played into the hold the horse decisions of the time. But was it the right one. They chose not to fight because they desired the help of the USSR in Asia (misplaced analysis) and they did not want to spend 1,000,000 lives liberating Eastern Europe from oppression they knew was coming. It was not a question of cooler heads prevailing, not at all. It was a question of a new, inexperienced, President thrown it the maelstrom of the biggest decision the US would make during the century. A more certain president may well have made a different decision. They had 12.5 million men under arms (and nearly double that if unactivated reserves are considered), they were well trained, battle-hardened, with no shortage of material, the best air force in the world, a Navy (let alone the most powerful navy in history). Russia exhausted, country devastated, 20 million (million dead) another 20 million casualties, industry non-functional without American support. Quite simply, they were incapable of fighting any kind of real war against the US. The economic and military pressure would have caused a collapse sooner or later as indeed the Germans (a vastly smaller army) had pushed them to the brink of on more than one occasion. That probably would have been the time.

"Patton, as I recall, wanted to march to Moscow in 1945."

There was bona fide wisdom in that opinion. Instead, we spent 20 trillion dollars (in modern dollars) on a Cold War that lasted some 40 years, led society to mass fear, went to the brink of a full out nuclear exchange on several occasions, enabled several dozen smaller proxy wars to occur across the globe, led to open conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, I am not at all sure it wouldn't have been better to be said and done with it at the time when we had a monopoly on nuclear weapons and a fully mobilized nation right in their face. And here is the big card ... no communist China becomes created. That would have been a prize of immense value. A billion people do not endure a police state that lasts until the present state. I can at least hold Truman blameless as he was thrown into a maelstrom of evens far outside of his capacity and immediate understanding. But you Small, you have the benefit of hindsight. Can you not look at the facts and add up the costs and reach the logical conclusion that full scale ending of the conflict once and for all in the 40's could well have put the world in far better shape (for all Americans and even all Think on it, because it sounds as if you have not. Preventative wars are of immense value. One little preventative war over Czechoslovakia in the middle of '39 probably saves 50 million lives. Think on it, because it sounds as if you have not.

"MacArthur wanted to bomb China in the early 50s."

It was too late by then. A failure at choice 1 made Korea (and the other pi$$ ant wars) inevitable. You know, an ounce of prevention ...

"I can't think of any "preventive" wars the US has ever engaged in until the murky, dishonest, mess that was Iraq."

Perhaps a closer look at the history of the country would be helpful. The US history is absolutely chocked full of dozens of such little brush fire wars. Butler even wrote a USMC manual on how to fight them.

"The advocates of preventive war thought it would be a cake walk"

It was a cake walk. What went wrong was the occupation.

"I'll ask the question again. If, in 2003, GWB had proposed to invade Iraq at a cost of a trillion dollars, 4,000 American dead, and 30,000 wounded, would anybody have supported the war? "

Of course not, but Americans are notoriously short sighted. They are just trying to pay the rent. The error of this way of thinking will play out in your lifetime in the ongoing power struggle between the US and the police state China. Enjoy your $10 shoes mate.

But, to return to the main point of the paragraph, "cost of a trillion dollars, 4,000 American dead, and 30,000 wounded". If the democracy in Iraq takes really takes hold. It will be pennies on the dollar, cheap at the price. If it becomes a democracy, not an American one, but an Arab one it will stabilize the entire region eventually topple Iran ... without a shot fired. Have you looked in a CIA fact book recently? Look at defense spending in all police states in the ME (Quatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and especially Syria and Saudi Arabia) look at its trend as the stability of the Arab democracy in Iraq becomes more assured. It is increasing ... drastically the last four years alone are amazing. Ya gotta ask, why? It can't be to defend against the US, that would be hopeless in virtually any event. They really don't have any enemy to speak of. ...except one. Their own people. The lure of democracy is seductive. In Iraq successful democracy is a statement to all Arab peoples. "We can do it, ourselves" We don't need tin pot dictators, we don't need police states and violence. This is playing out in Syria right now. Every one of those governments in the ME is scared. Not of us, but of what is happening in Iraq because of that little "preventive war". It may be the wisest defense spending in the country's history. In the end, it will kill Iran too, without firing a shot.

Small, have you ever read "The Prince", by Machiavelli? I'd recommend it to you. It's short, you could read it in a week. But it takes a lifetime to digest. You will understand, the purpose, value, and motivations behind short wars. They why of power and the uses to which it can be put. Marvelous work.

It is because of Machiavelli and Iraq, that we will never have to fire a shot in Iran.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 9:53:47 AM PDT
John M. Lane says:
I understand your contention, Smallchief. I do not, however, agree with it.

I think Saddam offered a more serious threat to the US than al Qaeda did. Indeed, there is evidence that Saddam connived with al Qaeda.

It is a debateable issue. An intelligent, nuanced intellectual like you doubtless sees both sides of it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 3:27:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2012 3:37:48 PM PDT
Smallchief says:
Surfin" :Small, have you ever read "The Prince", by Machiavelli?

Smallchief replies: I'm old enough to have sat at the knee of Niccolo. Old Mac, as we called him, would be very confused if he came back to visit us today. War, in 15th century Italy, was a struggle among princes, a game of thrones. In those days, it didn't make much difference which prince ruled and the mass of the people didn't really care. Nor did the soldiers -- if they got paid. War was a political and military minuet.

War today is usually a struggle among peoples, religions, ideologies. Military victory is just part of the game --sometimes a small part. Recall what Vietnamese General Giap said when an American Colonel told him that he never defeated the Americans on the battlefield. "It didn't matter, did it?"

Then, there's the simplistic video-game approach to war exemplified by MacNamara in Vietnam and Rumsfeld in Iraq. They believe that if you apply "X" amount of force it will surely have "Y" results. Actually, if you apply "X" amount of force you have no idea what the outcome will be. Given the uncertainties of war, the fact that most wars end inconclusively or badly for all parties, its a bad bet, even if you have no moral qualms, to advocate a full scale war for other than the most urgent reasons.

You're advocating preventive war. Was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor justified for that reason? How'd that turn out for them?

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 3:37:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2012 3:37:34 PM PDT
John M. Lane says:
Good point, Smallchief. Colonel Stanislav Lunev of the Red Army's elite GRU made the same point in his book, THROUGH THE EYES OF THE ENEMY. He noted that directing resources to the antiwar effort inside the US won the war for the Communists, much as your quotation from General Giap suggests.

Lunev wrote that the GRU placed such a high priority on supporting the antiwar movement in the US that they directed twice the support to it that they did military support to General Giap's Communist forces in Vietnam. And, it was successful.

Amercan soldiers never lost a battle and yet the Communists won the war.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 3:41:14 PM PDT
Smallchief says:Come on, man! Shall we enforce all UN resolutions by invading countries.
why do you act like the first war didn't happen and that Saddam wasn't operating under cease fire agreement?

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 3:44:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2012 11:23:17 PM PDT

The principals are the same, and they always will be. War still is a political minuet. War takes place more than on the battlefield. Iran is in the process of losing one right now. Not a shot fired.

But on balance, he would have understood it all too well. He may have had to refine his thoughts on how to deal with republics (his playbook on that account is a bit to limiting) but that's about it.

"Actually, if you apply "X" amount of force you have no idea what the outcome will be. "

One one level, never a truer word spoken. But on another, if you know what you are doing, you have a pretty good idea what will happen.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 4:19:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2012 5:46:44 PM PDT
Smallchief says:
John, It's fair to say that the propaganda of the communists was more effective at winning hearts and minds during the Vietnam War than ours. Perhaps its because they had a more compelling interest in winning the war?

What's silly is the oft-repeated and simplistic remark that "we won the war in Vietnam, but the home front betrayed the soldiers. " Duh. Propaganda, misinformation, civil affairs, winning hearts and minds, public opinion etc. are weapons of war just like guns and the soldiers carrying them. And winning the war of public opinion is just as important -- more important in the Vietnam War -- than winning on the battlefield. The communists won the PR battle. I And they won the war. Agreed.

I doubt however that communist propaganda had much influence with the anti-war movement in the U.S. Americans were smart enough to realize, at least after Tet, that they were being deceived by their government and fighting a war we weren't going to win. They didn't need the GRU to tell them that.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 5:55:05 PM PDT
John M. Lane says:
Hello Smallchief,

That's a good point. I really didn't need an officer from the GRU to tell me that they'd made a major effort to support the antiwar effort in the US. It was clear at the time who benefitted from much of the protest. General Giap said as much in some of his remarks.

The Communists were discouraged at the prospect of facing US troops in Vietnam. What encouraged them to persist, despite continuing defeats in the field, was the antiwar movement in the US. That's also the point Colonel Lunev makes in his book.

TET, for example, smashed the Viet Cong. They never recovered.

After US combat forces were pulled out and US military cut back dramatically in reaction to Watergate, Communist forces moved into South Vietnam in conventional armored columns. The Army of South Vietnam literally ran out of ammunition.

Our soldiers never lost a battle there, as General Giap himself conceded.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 7:35:54 PM PDT
John M. Lane says:Our soldiers never lost a battle there, as General Giap himself conceded.
i think you know my position about Vietnam and that I have put efforts toward helping Vietnam veterans. But, we shouldn't have been there in the first place. we can not defend the world and Vietnam tough us that... I hope. Saddam is a different issue. Oil is the world's blood. People disagree about blood for oil (as they drive cars, enjoy products made from oil including pharmaceuticals. I remember big no-war for oil rallies in Los Angeles. They were bused in by 30-40 of the biggest buses. The irony of it. They couldn't even have an anti-oil demonstration without oil)

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 9:02:05 PM PDT
\\And the thinking behind the Iraq War was right out of the 19th century. But we're in the 21st century now and colonialism is dead. \\

Taking out Iraq and surround Iran also serves to block the Chinese.

Unfortunately for humanity, our power-brokers are almost totally self-assured or cynical. The right-wings laughed at earlier climate-change observers and resource forecasting, yet things are only worse than predicted in the 70s and 80s.

Reagan signaled the end, as greed and drugs snared us.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 9:04:23 PM PDT
\\Indeed, there is evidence that Saddam connived with al Qaeda. \\

Exactly what evidence?

Posted on May 28, 2012 4:49:05 PM PDT
DarthRad says:
Saddam had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, nor with the 911 attacks. In fact, since Al Qaeda was not tightly under his control, he opposed them, as he opposed any outside group that he did not control, and so Saddam kept them out of Iraq. Once Saddam was deposed, that's when a local version of Al Qaeda entered Iraq and established a terror network inside Iraq. Ironic, that Saddam actually kept Iraq FREE from the terrorism of Al Qaeda, until the U.S. deposed him.

Saddam's connections to 911, to Al Qaeda, to the "War on Terror", were all lies perpetrated by the neo-cons of the Bush Jr. Administration.

I would note, by the way, that almost all of these neo-cons were purged from Bush Jr.'s administration, or fled like rats from a sinking ship, towards the end as their utter incompetence and clear ruination of American foreign policy became apparent to all. Even Dick Cheney lost influence towards the end, as more moderate voices like Condi Rice took over. Cheney was not able to get Bush Jr. to pardon his loyal henchman Scooter Libby, to his bitter disgust.

To say that there is evidence that Saddam connived with Al Qaeda is thus yet another of John M. Lane's infamous reality distortion field versions of history.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 5:06:44 PM PDT
DarthRad says:
To those who think that the U.S. should have taken on either the Soviets or Communist China, my god, you guys just have no clue.

Ever read anything about the conflict in the Eastern front? The Soviet Army at the end of WWII was massively bigger than the U.S. Army. Every problem that the Germans had invading the huge landmass of Mother Russia, the U.S. would have had.

Same thing with China. These are two seriously large countries. Japan was never able to occupy more than parts of coastal China, and this effort tied down the MAJOR portion of the Japanese army during WWII - nearly 4 million men.

The only way the U.S. could have won a war with either country was to atomic bomb them into submission, and after the atomic bombings in Japan, this was simply not a palatable option for most Americans.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 5:40:42 PM PDT
DarthRad says:and after the atomic bombings in Japan, this was simply not a palatable option for most Americans.
oh really?

Posted on May 28, 2012 6:02:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 28, 2012 6:02:45 PM PDT
DarthRad says:
Yes, really. Americans do not like long wars, and America has never done well in a long war. Four years is about as long of a war as Americans can take.

To have extended WWII by invading the Soviet Union, or atomic bombing it, or to have extended the Korean War by invading or atomic bombing China would have meant plunging the US into a long grinding war. And political defeat for any American president who went that route. It would have been a re-visit of all the issues of the Vietnam War, only on a much larger scale, and much earlier.

At the end of WWII, Americans were exhausted by the war, and sick of it, and eager to go on with their lives. The Japanese knew that, which is why the military held out for so long and refused to surrender even though their military industry was crippled and the Japanese civilians starving. They figured that extending the war and forcing a bloody invasion would make the U.S. buckle and negotiate a peace other than unconditional surrender. Who knows? I think there is a chance that the Japanese were right about this. And this is why Truman didn't even think twice about using the atomic bomb.

Getting into a fight with the Soviets, when there was no clear provocation, is another story however.

Eisenhower was smart to end the Korean War and leave things as is. He presided through two terms of global peace and prosperity at home. The alternative? Atomic bombing of China and a long, expensive, grinding war in China? Would you replace the peace and prosperity of the Eisenhower years with THAT?

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 6:45:01 PM PDT
not wanting more war. true.

using the atom bomb, not true.

Posted on May 28, 2012 7:00:44 PM PDT
DarthRad says:
After the atomic bombings of Japan, there were enough moral repercussions about whether the US should ever use atomic bombs again (and I believe the US was more than justified to use atomic weapons on Japan in WWII) that American political leaders more or less adopted a policy of not using nuclear weapons as a first strike. Unlike other options for war, nuclear weapons thus became a purely defensive weapon of last resort, as part of the Mutually Assured Destruction policy.

And so although there were always proponents for nuking this country or that (i.e., Gen. Curtiss LeMay, champion for nuking any and all countries that opposed the U.S.), American presidents, being more conscious of how they would be perceived in history, have always been reluctant to seriously consider the first use of nuclear weapons in any conflict.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 7:17:53 PM PDT
hell kitten says:
I never understood why we should have troops in the region at all. But pakistan? A randomly drawn up country on the [Islamic] faith we are supposed to hate.

Afghanistan involvement comes directly from Pakistan shenanigans. And alienates us from India. Kinda dumb. But who cares about economics when , uh, uh, democracy??? is at stake...

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 10:11:33 PM PDT
The Soviet Army was at the end of it's tether by April 1945. It was ill fed, ill supplied, very badly disciplined and prone to looting and rape. If it had to fight the Western Allies after the defeat of the Nazis, it wouldn't have had lend-lease supplies or food, or spares for the American trucks which resupplied it. The Western Allied armies were smaller, but tougher and in far better condition for continued battle. The Soviets would have been attacking into strange territory, that was well know to the allies, against hardened troops, with aerial supremacy, and unlimited supplies.
The Soviets wouldn't have gotten very far.

In an counter-offensive, the Wesern Allies wouldn't have made the same mistakes the Nazis did and alienated the Ukranians and other ethnic groups in the Soviet Union, I think we would have encouraged them to rebel and supported them. The Soviet Union would have fragmented pretty damn quickly.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 2:54:47 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 29, 2012 2:56:14 AM PDT
Smallchief says:
I agree with you. The notion that the U.S. should have marched to Moscow at the end of WW II is credible only in a video game.

Another reason why it wouldn't have happened is that the U.S. general who stood up in front of his troops and said, "And now let's march to Moscow, boys!" would have been shot at sunrise after a mutiny. And the politicians in Washington who favored such a thing would be, at a minimum, turned out of office.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 7:10:52 AM PDT
Before I am attacked, my post was in response to an attack by the Soviets, not an unprovoked invasion by the Western Allies. The Soviets pushed pretty hard as it was, actual combat isn't too far a stretch from what actually happened.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 7:46:30 AM PDT
Smallchief says:
I agree with you. The notion that the U.S. should have marched to Moscow at the end of WW II is credible only in a video game.
if Russia had the nukes instead of us. where do you think they would have stopped?
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Initial post:  Feb 8, 2012
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