How many necessary wars?
Radio talker Thom Hartmann
often asks the kind of basic question that Polistra appreciates.
A few days ago he asked: Was the 1776 Revolution really needed? I've never heard anyone else ask that question ... but when you look at the results, the answer is No.
Think of it as a sort of clinical trial. At the starting point in 1775, British Canada and the 13 Colonies were very similar. Canada took the placebo, stayed with the Crown. The 13 Colonies took the Rebellion pill. Now, after 225 years of separate political development, can you tell the difference between the two patients? Not enough to be worth the lives of the soldiers who died as "side-effects" of the rebellion. Both countries still have the same basic freedoms, some stronger in one place, some stronger in the other. Canada has a better health-care system and more provincial sovereignty.
Both countries are a long way from the original setup, but Canada is probably closer to our Constitutional intentions than we are.
So the 1776 Revolution was worse than unnecessary.
Since then we've fought many small and large wars. How many of them did we really need to fight?
The 1812 war was necessary, given that we had already taken the path of independence. England tried to take us back, and we had to fight.
Lincoln's war was absolutely unnecessary and wildly destructive. If the Great Exterminator had really wanted an America without slavery
, he could have simply let the South secede. After that, the remaining part of America would have been free of slavery. So that's obviously not what he wanted. Only a neurologist could figure out what his diseased brain was after. From the evidence, we could guess he wanted to see lots of blood and guts and dead bodies and burned buildings.
Between 1850 and 1916 we had several skirmishes with Mexico; we won them, and some of them were probably necessary, but not really countable as wars.
The Spanish-American war in the 1890's was unnecessary. We were the aggressor, trying to grab some of Spain's colonies. We won but it didn't do us much good. Except for Puerto Rico, those colonies didn't stick with us ... and Puerto Rico has given us more cost than benefit. (By contrast, we've benefitted tremendously from the territories we purchased
, such as Louisiana and Alaska.)
WW1 was basically two separate wars: Germany tried to take France and Britain tried to take pieces of the Ottoman Empire. It didn't affect us at all, and we didn't need to join it. We only got in because Wilson, a brain-damaged megalomaniac like Lincoln, needed to impose his personal tastes on Europe. We know the results of this: WW2.
WW2 was absolutely necessary for us. We won.
Korea and Vietnam: Unnecessary. We lost both.
The 1990 Kuwait war: Unnecessary. Kuwait is not American territory. We sort of won the immediate goal, but left Saddam in a superior macho position. He stood down the Great Satan and survived.
9/11/2001: A necessary war, but we didn't fight it.
The correct and proper response to Sheikh Osama would be to vaporize Mecca and Medina, depopulate the Arabian Peninsula and claim it as an American oilfield. Instead, we've been fighting unrelated, unneeded, undefined, unendable and unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm still not sure whether Sultan Bush was absolutely owned by Sheikh Osama or just fantastically stupid. The former conclusion has more facts on its side. One more fact: In 2003, Sultan Bush quietly got rid of all our neutron bombs,
to prevent his successors from fighting the correct and proper war in Arabia.
Summing up: Leaving aside the border skirmishes, serious wars were unquestionably necessary 3 times. 1812, 1941, 2001. Twice we fought and won. The third time we surrendered, gave the attacker exactly what he wanted.