'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Monday, November 24, 2014

Whatever happened to Afghanistan? You know--Obama's GOOD War?

It's remarkable to not see, hear, or read anything about the conflict in Afghanistan.  I mean from 2004-2009 all the media did was provide a steady drumbeat of casualties, death, dying and blundering on the war in Iraq.  Since January 20, 2009...not so much from Afghanistan.

This was the war, if course that the highly qualified  and deep foreign policy experienced Senator from Illinois declared the good war and the war the U.S. should have been fighting and had to win.

However, in his new book, Bing West, former grunt, DoD official, and author has some interesting insights in this longest of American wars.

First of all, I have read several of Mr. West's books and found them to be pretty good, if somewhat overly kind to his fellow Marines.  What I mean is, in his book The March Up, covering the initial Marine invasion of Iraq in 2003, he glossed over the relief of one of the Marine Regiment commanders by General "Mad Dog" Mattis by stating he was "reassigned" to a flying command post.  Well that's not what happened, but I think in the general afterglow of the fall of Baghdad he wanted to spare a fellow Marine.  Kind, but not really honest writing.

However, that doesn't take away from his next two books on Iraq, one covering the Fallujah campaign of 2004 and the other a general look at the war from 2004-2009, which I thought were both very good.

Now he turns his attention to Afghanistan by examining the tactical level action in the two most lethal places in the country...the eastern border of Pakistan, specifically Nuristan Province, and the cradle of the Pashtun dominated Taliban, Helmand Province. 

He narrative is well-written and shows the challenges that small, often isolated groups of American riflemen faced dealing with a highly corrupt government in Kabul, indifferent and lax Afghan police and soldiers, and overly hostile villagers.  Like many authors providing a critical look at America's decade in this sheep infested hell-hole, West pulls no punches in stating that attempting to nation-build in this country was an impossible task.  From reading his book, I think LTG Dan Bolger would agree. 

What's surprising and shocking is that often the Americans were tactically and operationally out-maneuvered by the Taliban, who not only understood how to cynically exploit the American aversion to casualties and collateral damage by hiding behind women and children, but had a good understanding of using terrain and patience to wear down American platoons and companies in isolated mountain valleys.  Because there were never enough troops to truly pacify an area, or the will to root out Taliban cells regardless of collateral damage, a strange "live and let live" mentality took hold where all the Taliban had to do was not lose...to win...because the Obama Administration from the get-go stated we were leaving Afghanistan no matter what...by 2014. 

NOW of course, we find out that  Obummer lied about that too...seriously is there anything honest this Administration can do?

In a Shift, Obama Extends U.S. Role in Afghan Combat

Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions.

SO, I wonder when CodePink/MoveOn.Org and the Democratic Underground will start marching on Washington chanting -"Obama lied, kids died!"  Yea, don't hold your breath...anti-war movements are only for Republican Presidents, not the coolest, most awesome college professor President EVAH.

But, I digress............West pulls no punches and shows the impossibility of EVER winning in Afghanistan as long as the Taliban could slip across the border into Pakistan and regroup.  One would think that the U.S. would have learned from Vietnam the folly of giving their enemies a safe haven, and we sure as hell should never have trusted those duplicitous bastards in Pakistan that hid Osama for 10 years...but both the Bush and Obama Administrations tried to work with those back-stabbing sons-of-bitches.... practically ensuring that Afghanistan will fall back into warlordism and chaos.

But the American soldier and Marine certainly comes shining through in this book.  Patiently trying to conduct the principles of COIN in an impossible situation, the troops did their best and certainly killed a lot of bad guys...but...in the end...they couldn't overcome centuries of poverty, ignorance, and an ingrained hatred of anyone and everyone who comes from outside their tribal boundaries.

One can almost hear the ghosts of Geronimo and Sitting Bull as the U.S. troops fight a tribal war against the home team...only this time one that is supported by another country.

West also shows the chaos and anarchy at the top as a steady parade of U.S. commanders each fight their own version of COIN, nation-building, whatever, while dealing with an increasingly useless ally in Hamid Karzai, who is so corrupt he probably makes the old Diem regime in South Vietnam look saintly.  The inability to set clear goals and a coherent strategy made the grunt's life harder and ultimately contributed to the loss of support....as people asked.."What the hell are we doing there?" without a good answer.

West's book is pretty good, a quick read, and a harsh analysis of why the war in Afghanistan is going to hell in a handbasket.  While the media yawns, Obama goes into his last two years of lame duckness, and the Taliban sharpen their knives and wait.

Wonder what 'bamy will do when the Taliban ally with ISIS and starting turning their envious eyes toward Pakistan and it nuclear weapons?  Hmmmmmmmmmmm....probably say "FORE!"

Good book, pick it up...West has written a sequel of sorts focusing on a Marine battalion in the so-called Afghan Surge...it's in the queue

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Clausewitz, like eating bacon...never becomes common for me....

One of my favorite websites is The Diplomat.  A wonderful and often controversial collection of short, pithy posts about politics and diplomacy in the Far East, Pacific, and South Asia regions, it is a really excellent source of news and commentary.

And occasionally...military history.  While surfing the site the other day I came upon this little nugget

Now, normally I would be all over this like white on rice---because even more than revisionist history and turkey bacon, I despise know-it-all "strategic analysts" that take it upon themselves to trash my man Karl (or Carl, whatever) and I have lobbed plenty of typeface at them on this blog.

Just Can't Get Away from Clausewitz

Foucault, Clausewitz, Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, my!

 Of course I calmed down a little when I saw it was written by Dr.  James Holmes, a naval analyst that I do admire and appreciate.

SO, I read the article with an open mind and...was....intrigued. Not by what he said, but because I felt he could have said sooooo much more....Clausewitz is like my favorite buffet at Harrah's in New Orleans...there's always more to digest.

Here is Dr. Holmes basic thesis:

Clausewitz’s masterwork On War proclaims — uniformly — that war is a mere continuation of policy “with other means” (mit anderen Mitteln), or sometimes “with the addition of other means” (mit Einmischung anderer Mitteln). Nowhere in On War or his prefatory notes does the Prussian write “by” other means.

Yet this false quotation refuses to die. “By,” “with,” who cares? Well, any student or practitioner of warfare should. Substituting a two-letter for a four-letter word makes a big difference in how Westerners conceive of war. And as Clausewitz teaches, grasping the nature of war in general — and of the particular war we’re contemplating — constitutes the first, most fundamental, most crucial act of statecraft. Get the basics wrong and grim consequences follow.

Okay, so what?  Is the whole "by" or "with" a big deal....MAYBE....it depends

Dr. Holmes concludes with a pretty good dissertation about Clausewitz' theories on war, statecraft, and diplomacy, but doesn't really drive anything home for me...one of the challenges of a short web article I guess.

Pursuing political objectives “with” other means connotes adding a new implement — namely armed force — to a mix of diplomatic, economic, and informational implements rather than dropping them to pick up the sword. War operates under a distinctive martial grammar, in other words, but the logic of policy remains in charge even after combat is joined. In this Clausewitzian view, strategic competition falls somewhere along a continuum from peacetime diplomacy to high-end armed conflict. The divide between war and peace can get blurry.  
  Okay, I am certainly down with this concept. For Clausewitz, as with all late 18th and early 19th century military men, politics and war were inexorably linked.  Military men and politicians alike considered the PRIMARY duty of the monarch/government  was the conduct of war, diplomacy,  and peace, as it were. Wars were fought with regularity, usual for limited objectives, and were often preceded and followed by intense discussions about this province or that territory forfeited by the loser to the winner. 

This, of course, was one of the reasons that Clausewitz and his contemporaries were totally flummoxed by Napoleon---ol' Nappy went for the jugular and aimed for the total whup ass of his opponent....The last time the French really got the better of the Germans.

To be clear, Dr. Holmes is correct in his assertion that Clausewitz spent most of his magnum opus expounding on the differences between theoretical and realistic war, including his famous "Trinity of chance, reason, and violence"  and his axiom-"Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult."  

This was part of Enlightenment thinking I guess...discuss the theoretical, then describe the limits of its application in the real world. The trick to reading Clausewitz, besides reading it at least 4 or 5 times (sigh) is to be able to carefully discern his points separating the theoretical limits of war with the actual application to the human factor...which Clausewitz, being a man ahead of his time, was quick to recognize..unlike his contemporary Jomini who wanted to make everything in war about science and mathematics...use the right formula with the right inputs and WHAMOO victory is assured...only not so much.  

My man Clausewitz well understood the psychological factors in war and was the first to clearly state in his own book that no formula or certainty exists in war.  HOWEVER, he was wise enough to say a good general reads and studies military history....

So, hopefully he will continue this discussion...the theology of Clausewitz, to misuse a term, bears much discussion, thoughtful consideration and constant questioning of assumptions--anything that sparks more discussion of Clausewitz is fine by me.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

The best trilogy of WWII in Europe...period.

I just finished what is...in my opinion, the finest history of World War II in Europe from 1942-1945...period.

Rick Atkinson, former reporter for the Washington Post and 2-time Pulitzer Prize winner (one of them for the first volume in this series) has written what I consider the magnum opus of military history on America's involvement in the liberation of Europe.

This trilogy will become to World War II what Shelby Foote's masterpiece on the Civil War is to the history of that conflict--the definitive must-read account of the greatest and most costly conflict ever waged by the United States.

Ok, enough gushing right? Well, I can't say enough. These books are magnificent on every level: the depth of research, the prose and narrative, the outstanding maps (never to be under estimated, I love maps and hound any history book, especially military history that has poor or nonexistent maps), and the willingness of Mr. Atkinson to address heretofore unspoken aspects of popular or official histories of the war. 

Some of these are expected, even if not previously expanded upon in official histories--the constant bickering and clash of personalities within the Allied high command (British Field Marshall Montgomery comes off as "that British sumbitch" as my father used to call him...and that's being charitable), and Atkinson pulls no punches in describing the often petty arguments that threatened Allied unity.

Other unsavory topics are also honestly discussed, including the often rampant drinking, screwing, and looting of GIs across Europe. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the "Greatest Generation" was not above a bit of seamy behavior...which certainly doesn't diminish their heroism and in fact, makes what they did even more remarkable because they were not mythical supermen, but ordinary men who were both cowards and heroes, and sometimes just wanted a hot meal, bottle of hooch, and to get laid after intense and deadly combat.

To put things in proper perspective, the sheer scale of the combat that many of these men endured is remarkable. Many of these men served for three years overseas and saw combat in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France, often serving for months in continuous combat. Mr. Atkinson does an excellent job of weaving individual stories of personalities into the narrative, relating the march of participants across many campaigns and theaters of war, where often the only relief from combat was serious injury or death.

Even though each volume runs to over 700 pages with notes and bibliography, Mr. Atkinson's magnificent prose makes these truly a joy to read. I know I have written individual reviews of two of these volumes before:

Day of Battle

Guns of Last Light

But I had to take the opportunity to read all three of them together...and wow, that is so much better...you can really get a sense of the progression of the American war machine from the bumbling amateurs of Kasserine Pass to the awesome killing machine of the Battle of the Bulge.

So, if you enjoy well written World War II history, this trilogy should be on your bookshelf.


'Nuff said.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What do Abraham Lincoln and Buddy the Elf have in common?....

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Abraham Lincoln

Clearly this is not a favorite saying of Barrack Obama or the Democratic Party these days....
Or as my not so favorite elf says.

Yup, not that you would know it from the sycophants of the modern liberal media, but the entire Obama Administration has been built on lies and half-truths...and now...SIX years later, their curtain of deceit is finally falling away.

Sadly, it's too late, as the Golfer-in-Chief still has two years to try and rule by executive edict and race-baiting, but at least maybe....just maybe, Americans will be more skeptical of the media election by acclamation of Hillary "kill all Bill's bimbos and let God sort them out" Clinton.

Of course, none of this comes as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention and who doesn't consider John Stewart, Stephen Colbert or ABCBSMSNBCNN a viable news source.

For those of us paying attention, we always knew that the entire Democratic establishment lied, lied, and lied some more to pass Obamacare, and they still had to use dubious parliamentary maneuvering to pass it in the dead of night.

Now of course, the truth really does come out in the form of TV interviews of a prime Obamacare architect saying..to paraphrase Nancy "Where's my Botox" Pelosi--"We had to lie about the bill to pass the bill to see what we lied about putting in it."

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," he said during a panel discussion at the University of Pennsylvania in October, 2013. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the 'stupidity of the American voter' or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.....In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed," he said. "You can't do it politically, you just literally cannot do it. It's not only transparent financing but also transparent spending."
Of course, the usual lefty crowd have no problem with these lies...

It's true that the average Joe didn't know anything about this, but not because the average Joe is stupid. It's because most people simply don't pay attention to this stuff even slightly. The fraction of the electorate that cares about the minutiae of policymaking could be stored in a pickle jar. That's just life.
So America, since we're too stupid and don't pay attention enough to be brilliant policy wonks like liberals...well we got a fast one pulled on us, huh?

Not that we are paying attention, because most of us just found out our health insurance is not less expensive, has higher deductibles, and less access to doctors and hospitals---Let's pick our favorite Obamacare lie, shall we?

1) Obamacare won't pay for abortions or force anyone to pay for abortions

2) If you like your doctor or health insurance plan, you can keep it

3) It will reduce your premium by $2500

4) It will cost LESS THAN $1T over 10 years.

5) All of the above

I pick 5....yup they were all lies.

How about another excellent Obama lie---Benghazi was all about a video...OSAMA IS DEAD AND GM IS ALIVE!

Yea, that was one of my favorites too...just a stupid enough bumper sticker phrase that even "Lunch bucket" Joe Biden could remember it.

Now of course, the ugly truth comes out...ISIS was forming, Syria was falling apart and Iraq was descending into chaos...OH, yea and Libya, that awesome "lead from behind" unconstitutional war that Obama started, as opposed to that warmongering George W Bush, yea Libya's coming apart at the seams too.

So now we read that "Commando" Barry Obama is going to send troops back to Anbar Province Iraq...you know that awful, awful, bad place that no patriotic left-leaning American wanted anything to do with to.......fight ISIS and those pesky Islamic "extremists"  (oh, liberals wonder, why do they hate us so?)   The same ISIS murdering thugs that had the temerity to interfere with Obama's tee time by beheading an American journalist....at least as long as it took Barry "Par Five" Obama to change from his business suit to his golf pants.  

ANNNDDD, just because Barry and his socialist, collectivist minions want to take over and censor the Internet...yup...cuz dissent cannot be tolerated in the Worker's Paradise...can't have anyone not worshipping the Anointed Affirmative Action One...we have an announcement by Barry "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" Obama to...wait for it...regulate the Internet as a "common carrier" service.

Now, not that I have anything against Net Neutrality as a concept...I am just skeptical of three-lettered government agencies...IRS, EPA, NSA, FEC, FCC trying to decide what is or isn't in the public good.

Yup the nexus of the FCC declaring the Internet a "common carrier" combined with the DEMOCRATIC member of the FEC wanting to regulate political speech on blogs (oops, think they mean me?) is just a little unsettling, given this Administration's record of persecution of dissent and desire to impose North Korean-level political correctness on average Americans like yours truly.

So. let's stop kidding ourselves. Liberals lie because they think the rest of us are stupid...and racist...and xenophobic, and misogynist...and well, because they are just smarter and better than us so we need to just sit down, shut up, and let them tell us what to do, what to think, what to say and who to hate....

NOPE, don't think so...the wool fell from this Grouchy Historian's eyes a long time ago. I don't trust any Democrat these days;

Joke---How can you tell when a Democrat is lying....THEIR LIPS ARE MOVING

Oldie but goodie...about the only fun thing about watching liberals lie is when they lie to cover up the lies they told in the first place...which can lead to some pretty interesting mangling of the English language...remember the old joke about the man caught in bed with another woman by his wife---"WHO are are going to believe...me or your eyes?"

Well, I for one, have my eyes wide open and can only hope that enough decent Americans will put  fear into the rest of the Democratic Party that Obama is about to Thelma and Louise them right over the cliff and stop his executive order dictatorship...nahhhhhhhhhhhhh, who am I kidding....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Well written history...not so much of an analysis

In my never ending quest for good history of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars I came across this book, written by that modern rarity--a serving military officer that can write decent military history.

Although LTG Bolger is now retired after a very busy 35 year career, he has taken a crack at analyzing the Global War on Terror.
The best part about reading this book is that I received a review copy courtesy of my book loving colleagues at the New York Journal of Books...and my official review is posted there.

HOWEVER,  as Paul Harvey says, now for the rest of the story.

I didn't include these little snippets as they are my own snarky observations and not really part of a formal book review.

A)  I think LTG Bolger is FAR too nice to the bumbling keystone kops of the Obama Administration.  No matter what liberal talking head says to defend the collapse of American Middle East foreign policy on his watch..the U.S. won in Iraq.  It was ugly and messy but in 2011 when Obama retreated from the most critical country in the Middle East for no strategic reason, merely to satisfy his rabid MoveOn/Code Pink base, Iraq was functional.  Yes, it was a mistake to leave Maliki in office, and I think Bolger tries not too subtly to say we should have backed Allawi in the 2009 election, but overall Iraq could have been a stable bulwark except for Obama's rabid, insatiable desire to brand the war a failure and retreat.  Imagine how differently the whole Syria/ISIS debacle might have been in US forces had been able to stop Iranian resupply of Assad and perhaps bring the Syrian crisis to a close quickly in 2011.  Hmmmm....

B)  Although he tries to hide it...a little, ol Dan Bolger takes more than a few swipes at his fellow generals.  He uses a lot of left-handed compliments to be sure, but it appears to this  Grouchy Historian that he is no fan of David Petraeus (yes the man had more than a little hubris and a loose zipper), thinks Stan McChrystal got a raw deal from the media (yes he did...that little turd from Rolling Stone wrote a real hit piece), yet he doesn't really talk about himself at all.  NOW, this might be a good sign of humility...YET, in the introduction to this book he offers a huge mea culpa as one of the generals that lost these wars....but he doesn't offer any real confession. 

C) As I mentioned in my formal review...our retired LTG is NO FAN at all of COIN, nation-building, or armed democracy building.  In retrospect, I kind of agree with him...trying to drag a bunch of sheep herding, pot smoking fanatics who cling to their religion and guns into the 20th century..or shoot even out of the 7th century is a losing cause.  AND NO, for any liberals reading this, I am not talking about West Virginia, but Afghanistan.  I kinda endorse his roundabout way of saying the U.S. needs to relearn the joys of the punitive expedition, to wit: 
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state.
Basically, the U.S. should whistle up some B-2s, B-52s, and B-1s....bomb the crap out of anyone who looks like a terrorist--rinse, repeat.  Or if you like your death more discriminating...use drones.  DON'T use 10,000 Marines to chase a bunch of morons with AK-47s and RPGs down the alleyways of the souk. I can certainly get behind this.  Islamic knuckleheads will never give us their hearts and minds...so we can just blow them to tiny smithereens when needed and keep GI Joe at home.  Sounds like a plan.

As a history book, it was pretty decent...our LTG does not shy away from telling messy tales of GIs breaking under pressure and occasionally doing bad things or dealing with bad situations with grace and courage.  Certainly on a tactical level the LTs, CAPTs, and SGTs did their jobs...they were just asked to do too much with too little for too long to achieve impossible goals.

As a strategic analysis...eh, not so much...I wanted at least a laundry list of what our culpable LTG thought went right and wrong...what to fix and do or not do in the future...after all, I thought that's what the title promised.  I didn't get that and the book just kinda of petered out for me....I may not have agreed with his conclusions, but I at least wanted to read some.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just when I thought liberals had hit rock bottom.....

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

George Orwell
Ok, so as you read the rest of this post...keep referring to that quote.
I was doing my usual scan of news headlines, political punditry and Grumpy Cat photos when I came upon what is without a doubt the biggest piece of garbage ever written by Salon.com---a website that has become almost a self-parody of liberal thought and a nest of idiotic poltroonery. 

 I almost hate to include a link since I wonder if this moron is just waving the red flag to veterans to try and generate some buzz for this useless website and his clearly left-wing bias and stupidity.  However, since it's out there in the 'verse, I figured I had to weigh in.
So let's start with his introduction:

"Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.” "

 So already this "journalist" has girded his loins with the usual race-baiting of the liberal left and not only denigrated the military, but cops....read on and you know why:

"It has become impossible to go a week without reading a story about police brutality, abuse of power and misuse of authority. Michael Brown’s murder represents the tip of a body pile, and in just the past month, several videos have emerged of police assaulting people, including pregnant women, for reasons justifiable only to the insane."

Ah, yes, the Gentle Giant of a Pot Smoking 300 pound crazy man of Ferguson...can't wait to see what he says if the grand jury decides the cop shot him in self defense....maybe he'll go loot a 7-11 with all his hommies.

BUT, it goes on...like a bad case of gonorrhea....

"An understandable reason for calling all troops heroes, even on the left, is to honor the sacrifice they make after they die or endure a life-altering injury in one of America’s foolish acts of aggression. A more helpful and productive act of citizenship, and sign of solidarity with the military, is the enlistment in an antiwar movement that would prevent the government from using its volunteer Army as a plaything for the financial advancement and political cover of the state-corporate nexus and the military-industrial complex of Dwight Eishenhower’s [sic]nightmares."

First of all, it might improve his idiotic rant if he could spell correctly...clearly a product of the modern American public education system...it's Eisenhower...moron.

And yes, let's talk about that anti-war movement...it seems to have pretty much disappeared after January 20, 2009, no?  I don't recall seeing thousands of people protesting Obama's illegal war in Libya, his weak-kneed and useless "surge" in Afghanistan, or his reintroduction of American troops to Iraq?  Where is the MoveOn.Org/Code Pink/ Hippie anti-war left....why no chats of "Hey, Hey, Barry O, how many troops did you kill today, Yo?"
That's because the anti-war movement is just another faction of the modern Democratic Party and has nothing to do with being anti-war, just anti-George W Bush.  Obama got more GIs killed in Afghanistan than Bush and has certainly kept the U.S. in a Middle East quagmire...to use a favorite lefty term...so where's Cindy Sheehan?  Nowhere to be found... because the anti-war movement is another lefty fraud.

 And, of course, no lefty screed would be complete without the required moral equivalency of being a veteran to being...........yes, a community organizer.

"The assignment of heroism, exactly like the literary construct, might have more to do with the assignment of villainy than the actual honoring of “heroes.” Every hero needs a villain. If the only heroes are armed men fighting the country’s wars on drugs and wars in the Middle East, America’s only villains are criminals and terrorists. If servants of the poor, sick and oppressed are the heroes, then the villains are those who oppress, profit from inequality and poverty, and neglect the sick. If that is the real battle of heroism versus villainy, everyone is implicated, and everyone has a far greater role than repeating slogans, tying ribbons and placing stickers on bumpers."

 So, let's hear it for community organizers, social workers and Occupy Wall Street protesters!!! They are heroes too!

Really?  So clearly everyone gets a trophy again, huh?  Keep their self-esteem up, huh?  I wonder if this moron has everyone been a part of anything bigger than himself...ever sacrificed for anything beyond his no-whip, soy, half calf latte or whatever.  Or is he just another whiny self-indulgent Millennial who bought into the hope and change crap.

HERE's a better idea this Veteran's Day...go thank a World War II vet while you can, they are almost all gone...or a Korea Vet or a Vietnam Vet or a Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan vet...tell them how much you appreciate their sacrifice, even if dipshits like David Masciotra don't think their wars were righteous enough. 

While you're at it, thank anyone who served during the Cold War...maybe we never had to fight the Commies, but we sure whipped 'em....and allowed ignorant but college educated idiots like this guy to make a living writing drivel for Salon...I mean seriously, his resume reads:  David Masciotra is the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (forthcoming, University Press of Kentucky). He writes regularly for the Daily Beast and Splice Today. 
WOW, he writes biographies of singers!!!!   Bring on the Pulitzer Prize!  Oh, wait, he probably will win a Pulitzer Prize...in a box of CrackerJacks...like Obama's Nobel Peace prize.
Since we can't actually send this idiot and the editorial staff of Salon.com to Anbar Province alone for a few weeks with only their iPads and liberal moral superiority to see how much they need those white men with uniforms and guns to rescue their whiney selves from evil men wishing to separate their empty heads from their tattooed and flabby selves, let's just sum up with one of my favorite movies lines from one of Jack Nicholson's greatest characters...Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men.    I know this drives liberals nuts...but that's okay...I am one of those EVIL conservatives that keeps Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders awake at night:

And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
Happy Veteran's day to all who served...and thank you for your service.