How to Lose a War: A Primer

Most of you know, from reading here my respect for the American (and UK and Commonwealth) military. Best people in the world.

But, that respect does not extend, much anyway, to Fort Fumble, and not at all to the political people in Washington (uniformed or not). As we all know the Republican party is able in many cases to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But our political leadership (of both parties) are the past masters of it.

Most of what zenpundit says here, many of us have said but, he says it amazingly well. To be honest, I don’t think our lords and masters are smart enough to figure this all out but, it must be mixed in their formula or something.

Read through this and learn how to waste the best of America on fields of battle around the world while losing everybody’s respect. There’s only ten points, and if you read this you’ll understand American foreign policy since 1990 much better.

Since Pakistan is now attempting to get it’s victory over the United States in Afghanistan formally ratified, now seemed to be a good time to reflect on the performance of American statesmen, politicians and senior generals.

It has occurred to me that we have many books and papers outlining how to win wars. Certainly the great classics ofThe Art of War, The History of the Peloponnesian War and On War are the foremost examples, but there are also other useful classics in the strategic canon, whole libraries of military histories, memoirs of great commanders and an infinite number of PDFs and powerpoint briefs from think tanks and consultants. Strangely, none of these have helped us much. Perhaps it is because before running this war so few of this generation’s “deciders” read them en route to their law degrees and MBAs

We should engage in some counterintuitive thinking:  for our next war, instead of trying to win, let’s try to openly seek defeat. At a minimum, we will be no worse off with that policy than we are now and if we happen to fail, we will actually be moving closer to victory.


While one of these principles may not be sufficient cause for losing an armed conflict, following all of them is the surest road to defeat.

1. War is the Continuation of Domestic Politics:

The point of politics is to acquire, hold and enjoy using power. When we lose sight of this fact due to romantic notions of “national interest” or “duty” and spend too much attention prosecuting a war against foreign armies then our real enemies – the political opposition – can take advantage. What good is overseeing a global victory over an epochal tyranny if the result is you get immediately voted out of office like some hapless loser? While on the surface, it might seem wise during a war to staff a government with able statesmen, experienced generals, capable diplomats and other experts, the truth is that if you do so you will have very few plum jobs left with which to reward the cronies,ideologuescampaign consultants, activists, wealthy grafters and partisan hacks who got you into power in the first place. Without their continued support, you will not be long for political office.


Remember, there are no guarantees in war. No matter how badly you screw up, the enemy might still be more poorly led and less adaptive than are you. That said, if you practice these ten principles you can become a master of the art of defeat.

Continue reading » Blog Archive » How to Lose a War: A Primer.

Now think about the wars of America until 1945 (maybe 1953). How did they differ?

Excuse me while I go retch.

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

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