Army Colonel, and History PhD, Gian Gentile, gives us an OpEd, in the Jerusalem Post, based upon a phrase I had to learn as "Fourth Class Knowledge" at the Air Force Academy—General MacArthur's Message from the Far East:
From the Far East I send you one single thought, one sole idea—written in red on every beachhead from Australia to Tokyo—there is no substitute for victory.The title of the OpEd is "War: Sometimes there ‘is’ a substitute for victory"
Sometimes the way a military fights a war results in it reaching a point where it is no longer worth the amount of blood and treasure invested to fight it in that way.When you look at the war in Afghanistan, you see a conflict where it is worth asking if there is a substitute for victory.
The most dangerous statement by a military man in modern times was uttered by Gen. Douglas MacArthur when he lectured his political master President Harry Truman in 1951 that in war, “there is no substitute for victory.”
MacArthur had been in command of American and allied forces fighting the Chinese and remnants of the North Korean Army in Korea in early 1951 and he believed the only way to win in Korea was for Truman to allow him to fight the war in whatever way he deemed best.
If that meant taking the war directly to the Chinese, with the possibility of bringing about World War III, so be it, thought MacArthur. After all, a World War II hero who led Allied forces in the unconditional surrender of Japan, MacArthur believed that once war starts, military victory is the only goal and can have no substitute.
The problem, however, is that MacArthur was wrong: in some wars, there are substitutes for victory. Sometimes the way a military fights a war results in it reaching a point where it is no longer worth the amount of blood and treasure invested to fight it in that way.
This is an important question and one being argued by players outside and inside the Government at this time. Thus the reference to writer Max Boot. Do you have an opinion?
Regards — Cliff