American’s were born out of a War. We don’t shy away from fighting them. In fact America has a long and storied military history.
Sometimes, like when the Brits oppressed us or the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, its pretty righteous.
Then there’s the Wars of Choice that we never needed to get involved in. Some were more justified than others. They were all fought for the wrong reasons; or arguably, for no reason. In spite of that we ‘won’ two of them.
So here’s my countdown from 3 to 1 of the Most Useless Wars in American History
Tale of the Tape-
We fought hard for a bunch of dicks running a corrupt democracy with no love for or from their own people. The Vietnamese government was a mess and had been at least since the French reoccupied after World War 2. Had South Vietnam not been corrupt and had inspired patriotism they just might still be around. As it was, not too many of their citizens were willing to die for that government. This seems especially true for those who filtered through its ineffective army over the long conflict.
We had no true reason to go.
The Vietnamese never aspired to attack America. Ho Chi Minh ground out victory in much the same way that George Washington had. By refusing to surrender, even through years of punishing attrition. By keeping the war “real” way back in the USA through a steady stream of dead young Americans to erode popular support. Also; just holding on to enough of their country to not NOT get knocked out of the war for good. You can credit US policy for this. We just weren’t willing to risk the likely consequences of invading the North. Not least among these was fear the Chinese or even more likely the Russians would jump in with both feet and we’d all bumble our way into World War 3!
The price of the war was incalculable but lets try for some perspective. Lots of American’s end up fighting in some capacity in a war that got more and more brutal and intense. The United States lost about 50,000 Americans killed over about 8 years. It was enough to destroy public opinion by the end of 1968. A few years earlier expectation of victory had been high.
And we unleashed unmitigated HELL upon the people of Vietnam. So while America surely paid an unacceptable price in Vietnam; the resolve of the Vietnamese leaders and people in the face of overwhelming military force and concentrated industrial level violence was nothing short of incredible. They wanted it more.
Vietnam lost no less that 200 thousand soldiers and civilian casualty estimates are about one million. And thats without addressing all the wounded of any kind, let alone things that affected people from both sides like PTSD or a dose of Agent Orange.
In fact its the American War for Independence in reverse with the ‘Oppressive far away Imperialist power’ role played by America. Astonishing, but true.
Almost 20 years of War Weariness that kept World War 3 from going down. Don’t underestimate this. As proof all I can say is nothing as bad as the Cuban Missile Crisis has really happened since. The Bloom was off the Rose, the US COULD Lose.
There’s several Great War Movies; Full Metal Jacket being the best
The two nations now enjoy a close relationship.
Currently the only all out total loss for America. And it was a big loss. No two ways about it. Despite tactical success there were only Pyrrhic Victories in Vietnam for the US. In American Military History Vietnam stands alone and is sort of synonymous with failure and, even sadder, futility.
Best Soundtrack of any American War. Songs like Paint It Black by the Stones start a musical movement and at the end even Black Sabbath was around, a band thats partly a reaction to the war. There’s too many great songs to count. Creedence Clearwater Revival alone has like 3 iconic songs that people relate to the war.
Widespread Distrust of the Government and popularization of recreational drugs are also considered to be related to the War.
Black Prisoner of War Flags that seem to have began in this era have endured in the town squares of America flying under the American Flag.
America takes an ass kicking from a bunch of stone age commies with AK-47’s; the political career of John McCain was a mixed bag at best; a generation of Domestic Terrorists; a generation of neglected homeless Vets making up the majority of Homeless Populations in every major city becomes National Disgrace for 2 decades; The ME Generation.
The Biggest Negative has to be when the War was revealed to be a years long Racist Atrocity Party where we basically attacked the shit out of the civilians. Too many bad, maudlin movies try in vain to present the war as having a cause and being Just. This just isn’t true. There was no real Cause, it was never really Just.
Non Stop Bad Images
Negative Coverage assured that in future American wars the first casualty will continue to be The Truth as the media is kept further away from whats going on. The American media really hasn’t had the same sort of freedom to cover war they had during Vietnam since.
#2- Desert Storm
Tale of the Tape-
One despot invades the land of another. The United States decides to split hairs and make a global power play for oil by calling one worse than the other.
Its just about that simple.
Ad Hoc nation Iraq, a hangover from World War 1, was never the greatest idea. Saddam Hussein was an aspiring low level Hitler with about as much military capacity. With his World War Two-like army he fought Iran in a disturbing re-run in some ways of the FIRST World War. With American help he had more or less won that one. Huge casualties and chemical weapons use by both sides.
And Saddam at this point likely really does have some more pretty bad WMD’s, courtesy of America.
He had the capacity to slap a chemical weapon to a SCUD, essentially a World War Two V-2 buzzbomb (or a huge bottle rocket) and hit the Israeli’s. This would have had everyone at war.
At first glance the chance a lot of Americans get killed looked pretty high going in.
But it didn’t go down that way.
At first, before Gulf War Syndrome is known, it seems a walkover victory for the United States.
The ‘easy win’ is intoxicating and sets a dangerous precedent.
Saddam WAS a horrible tyrant who was trying to be just like Hitler; but his regime survives the war and keeps acting horribly.
Dubbed “The Nintendo War”; very few combat losses; scared the fuck out the rest of the world for a decade with terrifying Gun Camera pics presented by Norman Schwartzkopf; CNN becomes major provider of news with newly enhanced reputation; Will probably eventually be called Gulf War One.
A New Found American Arrogance would lead to future conflicts by creating stupid fiction that we could fight anyone painlessly, by remote control whenever we felt like it.
A new Generation of Domestic Terrorists (Timothy McVeigh)
Then there’s Gulf War Syndrome.
The Government didn’t react to Gulf War Syndrome right. It kicked the can cynically waiting for as few litigants to be alive when the case ended as possible. They had taken a similar approach to the Vietnam vet’s they poisoned with Agent Orange, but seeing it coming didn’t make it any less wrong.
It seems Gulf War Syndrome had at least 2 causes. Some cases were due to the poisoning of American soldiers through exposure (by proximity) to massive amounts of radioactive ordinance. Then Saddam blew up as many oil wells as he could to cover his retreat. This ended up subjecting many to a chemical Hell in Kuwait and Southern Iraq as they dealt with an environmental attack. About 100,000 Gulf War Veterans seem to have been effected.
The government still has a lot to do about Gulf War Syndrome before they can even pretend they tried to ‘make it right.”
Not to be forgotten- Motivating one Usama binLaden to attack the United States with unprecedented Success on 9-11. He had his eyes on the Saudi’s up to then.
A final negative, if it’s really any kind of negative- Maybe the worst musical soundtrack of any war. There was just no really good song associated with this war if there’s any song that really represents it at all. In other words – there’s no “Paint it Black” or “The End” to symbolize this war. There were some forgettable songs by country artists and a protest song of sorts from the Stones, but this was the era of ‘Hammer Time’ and Motley Crue going on musically. Not a lot there.
So if there is a song; maybe something by Faith No More?
#1 Operation Iraqi Freedom
Tale of the Tape–
In a speech that scared the fuck out of the world and the US Congress George W Bush probably lied when he made the case of a defensive war against Iraq. None the less we kick off another round of hostilities with Iraq starting in 2003 and ‘ending’ in 2011.
It didn’t hurt that Bill Clinton had continued George H Bush’s policy toward Sadaam. Bubba punished Iraq with sanctions and air power for his entire presidency.
In fact Iraq’s actual “Army” was just an inconvenience at this point (at least until they take off their uniforms and come back as terrorists). Sadaam was basically a gangster whose thugs were nominally military, endlessly fighting (now smaller) World War Two type engagements against a rebellious region of his nation or Iran.
This time going in we had a perception we might just get off easy.
It didn’t go down like that.
All for Nothing: No WMD’s: Lots of casualties.
Americans turned on and started hating George W Bush and the bad influence that was vice president Cheney.
We ended up with a new generation of Neglected Fucked Up Vets who will need a lot of help; A Tarnishing of Americas World Reputation. There was Mass Brutalization of American Troops in this war. In other words a lot of people saw a lot of horrible things.
It degeberated to a pointless attempt to unify what WILL be THREE COUNTRIES sooner or later – Kurdistan, Iraq and Western Iran. Pouring Billions of Dollars into a black hole of non accountability.
Currently under Re-Branding by Bush Apologists remaking it as a war to free the Iraqi People from a Tyrant. Ironically most of their lives are probably worse. The Office of President of the United States again tarnished by yet another Bush having yet another pointless war against Iraq.
Recent developments cast doubt on George W Bush being the worst ever president. Its now remembered as a time of calm and order in America despite a bad foreign policy. (This is probably only good news for George W Bush)
Cheney remains despised.
America never really buys in to the war. Iraq was stage management and opinion manipulation at its worst and most obvious.
Sadaam was, still, a horrible tyrant who wanted to be just like Hitler. He was also a fairly effective World War Two level army leader and would have kept on causing problems and committing atrocities. It’s still up in the air whether or not its a better world without him. Its possible there never would have been an ISIS had he just been left alone.
Shockingly, the most Obscure War since 1898 due to active ambivalence by the public and deception by the government. “Embedding” journalists with Military Units ensures complete vacuum of information In fact we’re still waiting to see more than 15 minutes worth of footage from this war. What war video there was was thanks mostly to Chelsea Manning releasing videos like the infamous video of a BBC crew being accidentally blown away by a US Attack Helicopter complete with “we kill people all day” commentary from the crew and ground control.
Maybe the best movie for this war would be Green Zone or Hurt Locker.
People seem to care more about Afghanistan.
well there’s this for starters-
The “Mission Accomplished” fiasco that preceded 90% of the casualties. The fact that it ultimately failed and was mocked was an unintended positive. It was a disgrace though. Trying to sell war as easy and already won prematurely really backfired on Bush. People didn’t really trust him anymore. Also; lasting distrust of the Government so extreme that it has spawned the Conspiracy Industry (like Truthing and Info Wars).
All it proved was that Life can be better and safer under a brutal dictator than after a US “Liberation”
America was revealed as the Worlds Angry Warrior Cop; beating confessions out of our captured enemies while stalking armored.
There was a new generation of Domestic Terrorists (like the scumbag Tsarnaev Boys). And sadly, a new generation of completely fucked up Vets who will need help for decades.
Widespread unhappiness that this war had even happened took hold and was a leading issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. Many blamed it for ISIS. Hilary Clinton could count her voting in favor of military action among her many problems in her losing bid to be president. Trump seems to have somewhat benefited from presenting himself as opposed to the war.
Also, a wildly toxic can of deep Islamophobia gets opened up and begins creeping at the edges of America. It’s now becoming a recurring talking point in politics.
Disturbingly, it’s probably turning 9-11 into something of a success if you consider the attacks were ultimately aimed at making us more intolerant and religious. Well done, bin Laden you dick.
Military Contractor Blackwater (provider of Mercenaries), run by brother of Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos comes to prominence. They do some pretty awful things in Iraq and the locals despised them more than even the US military. Currently their owner is under suspicion of being something of a Russian Spy. This was a hangover no one saw coming. So throw in “rise of private miltaries and illegal intelligence services”. This is still getting worse as I update.
We’re STILL suffering the after effects of this war. We may still be too close to really appreciate just how much it’s stressed and changed America.
What do you think our most pointless war was? The polls are open and comments are enabled!
For the post on how Trump’s deep misunderstanding of George S Patton is shaping current military and domestic policy click here
[Authors note-This post about the times we should have thought twice and NOT gone to war. It’s not my goal to diminish those who fought on either side. Even the worst military misadventure features heroes and acts of valor. That’s for a different post.]