Published November 12, 2010
Without the United States military there would simply be no United States of America. And without the United States in the world, there would be global chaos.
These are very profound words but history has clearly established that this is the truth. This goes all the way back to the time of the Spanish-American War in 1898, when the battleship Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor and Spain declared war on America. That act resulted in America’s initial global move towards stabilization.
A series of battles were also fought in the Caribbean and the Pacific resulting in temporary control of Cuba and ownership, until 1946, of the Philippines. To this day the United States has ownership over Puerto Rico, Guam and Wake Island. This initial action towards global stability continues for the benefit of world order.
America’s entry into World War I at a critical time for the Allies further signaled that we would join those nations that share similar interests and are committed to a stabilized world.
World War I was more of a “European-balance-of-power” war than the ideological war that later followed it. However, efforts by nations to establish the League of Nations, even though America did not ultimately join it -- to the disappointment of President Wilson -- was a noteworthy step. This was the first time in modern history that nations formed a global organization to try to solve issues using diplomacy. The League ultimately failed, primarily because America did not join and an onerous Versailles Treaty put such a heavy burden on Germany that it later enabled Hitler to introduce National Socialism (Nazism) to the country.
The world was now faced with an aggressive Germany and ideology that joined with the fascism of Italy and an expanding fascist Japan that was dominating the Western Pacific. These ideological driven dictatorships plus the Western allies’ appeasement activities were a danger to global peace and freedom. World War II started because of aggressive attacks by Germany, Italy and Japan in Europe and the Pacific culminating in Japan’s infamous attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 that brought America into the first truly global war in which over 60 million people died.
America now emerged as the only global power left standing with immense wealth and the economic and military power to lead the world out of chaos.
I remember it well. As I was a teenager, I was living in Germany in early 1949 where my father commanded the Mercedes and BMW factories which were used to rebuild destroyed American vehicles and create jobs during the chaotic period before the Marshall Plan kicked in and the Berlin Blockade ended.
However a new ideological threat emerged when the Russians put up an Iron Curtain across Eastern Europe and the North Koreans, aided by Communist Russia and China, invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950.
This time a new United Nations organization, one that America played a major role in creating, responded to the situation led by American forces and economic power.
The victory in the region created the huge economic miracle that still exists in South Korea today. America still has over 30,000 troops stationed there to ensure that stability thrives.
I spent 11 years in the Pacific as an Air Force Commander supporting this success. It is no accident that South Korea is free today due to America’s military, economic and diplomatic support.
In Europe we faced the same Communist threat.
I personally served five tours there culminating as the Vice Commander in Chief of US Air Forces in Europe with forces from Norway to Turkey that ensured these NATO countries flourished to be the economic powers they are today.
Only the American military held this Communist threat at bay using a Containment Strategy that enabled it to collapse under its own failed economic system and ideology. Unfortunately, few Europeans today realize why they are free!
Vietnam had a much different outcome due to weak and duplicitous American political leadership. America had fundamentally won the war there and we pulled most of our forces out. However, North Korea invaded the South and a Democratic Congress tired of the war that two Democratic presidents (Kennedy and Johnson) led us into denied American support and signaled our retreat. That further encouraged North Vietnam to continue its attack.
I served four tours in Vietnam and Thailand starting in 1963 and finishing in 1969. It was a tragedy that America appeased the North Vietnamese and did not use massive airpower when they invaded South Vietnam. We should have supported the South Vietnamese with fuel, ammunition and equipment to defeat this outright attack. Appeasement always fails.
An America that is not willing to use its forces decisively cannot win and the Gradualism Strategy of the Kennedy-Johnson Administrations only encouraged Communism’s advance.
Saddam Hussein’s brutal attack on Kuwait in 1990 was met with a determined American response assisted by our key allies and resulted in a very decisive 100-hour war against Iraq’s aggression but it did not finish the job.
The cowardly attack by Al Qaeda on America on September 11, 2001 brought the war against Radical Islam (RI) to the forefront of the world’s attention. America had been in denial to a series of attacks by Radical Islam since the first World Trade Center attack in 1991 plus the attacks on our embassies in Africa, the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and the attempted sinking of the USS Cole in Aden Harbor, Yemen.
The resulting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to this day with the jury still out on our success.
However it is apparent that the 9/11 attacks put us into the middle of a war between Radical Islam and moderate Islam. This is a war that we should ultimately get the moderate Islamic nations to resolve. -- Iraq appears to be moving in that direction but the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are getting support -- financially and morally -- from the Pakistan Intelligence Service (ISI). The Obama administration must resolve this incongruity or we will not be successful. It is time we get the Saudis, Turks, Jordanians, Egyptians and others to defeat and excise Radical Islam from their societies.
History has shown that when America’s military, economic and diplomatic leaders adopt the wrong strategies our enemies can prevail. When we are decisive the free world prevails! Once again, we are at a critical turning point in our history.
Thomas G. McInerney is a retired Air Force Lt. Gen who graduated from West Point in 1959 and retired as Assistant Vice Chief of the Air Force. He is a Fox News military analyst.