Preconditions for War

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Preconditions for War

War is serious business.  We in America should probably know that by now, and most of us do.  The decision to go to war should not be taken lightly, and should not be taken without some base understanding.  Some base understanding of what it is we are getting in to, and why and how would or should we use violence.

John McCain says things like, “I will chase Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell – and I know how to do it!”  His fans roar their approval.  But John McCain is not running for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or even for Admiral of the Navy.  What are some reasonable preconditions a President might use before unleashing the John McCain’s on the purported enemy?  The ‘how’ of War should be left to the Generals – the ‘why’ and ‘when’ should remain in the domain of the Citizen Commander in Chief.

In the 1980’s Ronald Reagan was President.  His Secretary of Defense was Casper Weinberger.  This was a troubling time because the most recent American experience with Was was in Vietnam.  Anxious not to get into another Vietnam, Secretary Weinberger had a set of preconditions to be met before recommending putting American troops in harm’s way to the President.

Here are the essential ideas – which have come to known as The Weinberger Doctrine:

  1. Restrict the use of force to matters of vital national interest.
  2. Specify concrete and achievable objectives- both political and military.
  3. Secure assurances of popular and congressional support
  4. Fight to win.
  5. Use force only as a last resort.

Reagan was followed by George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  Both of these Presidents looked to the new military star of Colin Powell.  Powell added to the Weinberger Doctrine – giving us the Powell Doctrine.

  1. Restrict the use of force to matters of vital national interest.
  2. Specify concrete and achievable objectives- both political and military.
  3. Secure assurances of popular and congressional support
  4. Fight to win.
  5. Use force only as a last resort.
  6. Require an ‘exit strategy.’  The idea was to avoid open-ended commitments.
  7. Emphasis on ‘overwhelming force.’

These ideas did not come out of thin air.  People like McNamara, Weinberger, and Powell studied the history of war, they studied tactics, they studied combat, and they studied technology.  Historically war has been fought for some very meager purposes.  For love, for land, for commerce, for greed, for domination, for defense, for punishment, and for revenge.

With these notions in mind we Americans can reasonably ask why we are in Iraq, what was the strategy – was the use of force our last resort, was the fall of Saddam vital to our national interest, did we apply enough force, did we have concrete objectives, did we fight to win, and did we have an exit strategy?

What exactly was the Bush – Rumsfield – McCain Doctrine?

What is the Obama Doctrine?

This writer is studying the American military in the last Century – we are learning and we will report more as our ideas and thoughts coalesce.

There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. War is serious business, but a democratic congress helped it get started. I hardly applaud Bill Clinton. He turned a blind eye to terrorists attacks during his Presidency. As liberals and war protesters complain about the rising and outlandish price of the Iraq war and the use of private contractors, they should not forget that it was Bill Clinton who down sized the military bringing in contractors to perform duties the military had been doing for over 50 years and at a cheaper price. Saddam was a threat any way you look at it. G.H.W. Bush knew that and he probably coached his son in this war. I would like to have seen another President and his actions had an attack on US soil happened while they held office.

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