Lessons NOT Learned (or actively taught today)…

Americans today do not understand war. This is the fault of the American Academy; our public schools, which do not emphasize in any manner, way, shape or form, history, whose overriding purpose is the reduction of untruth.

War is all consuming, not media sound bites. War is uncontrollable, not neat and tidy and casualty free. Blood is weighed by the tens of thousands killed and wounded, not individual soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines. Collateral damage is not a factor. It simply is not important, if you want to win. General Tecumseh Sherman recognized this reality early in the American Civil war [his side won-slavery and its southern confederacy were defeated].

 He wrote:

General Sherman, 1820-1891

General Sherman, 1820-1891

“In accepting war, it should be “pure and simple” as applied to the belligerents.  I would keep it so, till all traces of the war are effaced; till those who appealed to it are sick and tired of it, and come to the emblem of our nation, and sue for peace.  I would not coax them, or even meet them half-way, but make them so sick of war that generations would pass away before they would again appeal to it.” ― Sherman, Memoirs, by William Tecumseh Sherman, The Library of America, ©1990 by Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., New York, NY, Page 99.

In that century Americans knew war: they didn’t like it any more than we do today, but they faced it, dealt with it effectively, and understood that losing meant losing everything: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Rick Atkinson BooksAmerica, unfortunately because she wasn’t paying attention, came to know war again: “September 1, 1939, was the first day of a war that would claim an average 27,600 lives every day, or 1,150 an hour, or 19 a minute, or one death every 3 seconds.” ― An Army at Dawn, The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, Copyright © 2002 by Rick Atkinson. [All of this is a world with a population of 2.3 billion, not today’s 7.2 billion]

“Thirteen U.S. divisions in Europe suffered at least 100 percent casualties ─ 5 more exceeded 200 percent ─ yet American combat power remained largely undiminished to the end. The entire war had cost U.S. taxpayers $296 billion ─ roughly $4 trillion in 2012 dollars [a cost then borne by 140 million Americans, not today’s 326 million Americans]. To help underwrite a military budget that increased 8,000 percent, Roosevelt had expanded the number of those taxpayers from 4 million to 42 million. The armed forces had grown 3,500 percent while building 3,000 overseas bases and depots, and shipping 4.5 tons of material abroad for each soldier deployed, plus another ton each to sustain him. “I felt,” one Frenchman wrote in watching the Yanks make war, “as if the Americans were digging the Panama Canal right through the German army.””

“By the time Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945, the Second World War had lasted six years and one day, ensnaring almost sixty nations, plus sundry colonial and imperial territories. Sixty million had died in those six years, including nearly 10 million in Germany and Japan, and more than twice that number in the Soviet Union ─ roughly 26 million, one-third of them soldiers.” ─ The Guns at Last Light, The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945, Copyright © 2013 by Rick Atkinson.

George Santayana

George Santayana

Sadly, as George Santayana so wisely observed in the last century, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ― C’est la vie!   But then there are those who simply do not care about the past: the current presidential administration comprised of people who hate America, plain and simple, and want more than anything else to change it; bend it to their will; their ‘vision’: the middle class be damned; the people be damned; it’s our way or the highway.  Hope and Change, right?

About Michael

Retired military officer; retired Air Force civil servant; retired executive, DS Information Systems Corporation; writer; researcher; reader and avid yachtsman.
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