As far as I can tell, none of the aspirants to be Commander in Chief have shown much evidence of it, either in public statements or, for those who have or had it, in the exercise of authority. I don’t know how to run a war, but I do know a little about the history of war – how and why winners won and losers lost. There are lessons from the past we should be able to apply to the present.
History tells me that to win a war you need 1) to define the enemy, 2) a decisive objective, 3) a strategy to achieve the objective, and 4) the means to prosecute it. History also tells me that a free people will support a war only if believe it existentially or morally necessary. For us this adds three more rules; 5) never fight unless you have to, 6) never fight alone, and 7) never fight for long.
Yet none of the CinC wannabe’s have been at all clear on any of these. Ben Carson came closest when he said he would seek the advice of our military leaders on what to do then work to give them everything they needed (as Lincoln and Roosevelt did).
We are in a war we don’t want but can’t avoid, while most leaders and would be leaders act not only as if they were clueless, but worse, clueless and unaware of it. If we have termites in our house and don’t know how to deal with them, eventually our house will fall down. Just so, the weakness of the Islamists compared to our “finest military in the world” is irrelevant if we don’t know how to deal with them.
As terrorism spreads through the body of civilization like a metastasizing cancer, sentiments like “I’ll bomb ISIS back to the stone age with no boots on the ground” or “Our strategy is working” are not answers – but bluster.
What should we do? As voters, war is ultimately our responsibility. We should be aware of the seven rules and consistently ask our leaders and leader wannabes to address them.
My own thoughts on a strategy are here: A View on the “War on Terror”