September 23, 2004

"Are we there yet?...Are we there yet?"

Thomas Sowell writes:

...Has the war in Iraq gone according to plan? No! But name any war that did...

....Mistakes in war are not new. What is new is a widespread lack of realism about war, especially among people who have never been in the military, who are like the proverbial little kid on a trip who keeps asking: "Are we there yet?"...

If you delve under the surface layers of history, you will discover that all wars resemble blundering about in the dark. And almost always the enemy looks more formidable than he is, because we don't know about his problems...

A good battle to contemplate now is Guadalcanal. If this were September 1942, the sort of people who support Senator Kerry would be pointing out that the Guadalcanal Campaign is utter folly and disaster, and we should cut our losses and retreat. It would look that way. Our Marines are penned-up in a few square miles, on the defensive, ill-supplied, hungry, glad to dine on captured Japanese rice. Our naval forces are being defeated repeatedly in savage night-battles, giving us the immortal name, "Ironbottom Sound." Japanese warships can bombard our forces with impunity. At night.

Someone might say it was the wrong battle at the wrong place and time. And he would be totally wrong. The Japanese rule at night, but during the daytime the situation is reversed. We hold little Henderson Field, the only airstrip in the area. An unsinkable aircraft carrier. We are sometimes reduced to an handful of battered planes flown by exhausted pilots, but as long as they are there, we dominate the whole area by day. Japanese ships have to retreat before sunrise.

And most importantly, Japanese bombers and fighters have to fly from Rabaul or Kavieng, hundreds of miles away. They are operating at extreme range, where even slight damage probably means that a plane and crew will be lost. But our planes can be shot-up repeatedly with planes and pilots surviving to fight again. The Japs are at this time superior to us in the air, but we have forced them to fight at an extreme disadvantage, in a campaign that is steadily whittling away their air forces.

(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at September 23, 2004 9:19 AM
Weblog by John Weidner