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Anatomy of Failure: Why America loses every war it starts, by Harlan Ullman

来源:FT中文网    2018-03-06 07:09

        How long does it take for the US military to admit defeat? The answer is forever, according to Harlan Ullman. Today there are US soldiers deployed in Afghanistan who were one year-olds when the war began. Yet the Taliban is no closer to being banished than it was in 2001. Indeed, it occupies considerably more of the country today than it did two years ago. In the meantime, the US presence has fluctuated from a few thousand troops to more than 100,000 and back again. Each president thinks he has found the key to winning the conflict. Every time, the key breaks. Yet the Pentagon refrain continues: “Give me the tools and I will finish the job.        美国军方要承认失败需要多长时间?哈伦•乌尔曼(Harlan Ullman)说,答案是永不。当今部署到阿富汗的美军士兵里,有人在阿富汗战争开始时还只是1岁的孩子。然而,比起2001年时,美国并没有更接近自身的目标——捣毁塔利班(Taliban)。事实上,如今塔利班的地盘显著大于2年前。与此同时,驻阿富汗美军的兵力上上下下,从几千人增加到逾10万人,后来又回落。每一任总统都认为他找到了赢得这场冲突的钥匙。每一次,钥匙都崩断了。然而五角大楼依然继续高唱:“给我工具,我就能完成任务。”
        If there was a president who might have resisted the “deep state” it was Donald Trump. He campaigned against America’s endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. He won the mandate to say “no” to the Pentagon. Yet, in power, Mr Trump has given the Pentagon everything it has requested — and more. For the first time in modern US history, military commanders have discretion to make large battlefield decisions without civilian approval.        如果说有一位总统可能抵制“深层国家势力”的话,那就是唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)了。他在竞选期间反对美国在伊拉克、阿富汗和其它地方无休止的战争。他赢得了对五角大楼说“不”的民意授权。然而,在真正上任后,特朗普向五角大楼提供了其所要求的一切——甚至更多。在美国现代史上,军事指挥官首次具有较大的自由裁量权,可以在不经文职官员批准的情况下做出重大战场决定。
        Last year, the Pentagon took advantage of its new latitude to drop the “mother of all bombs” — the largest non-nuclear weapon in history — on an Isis-occupied warren of caves in eastern Afghanistan. “We have the greatest military in the world,” said Mr Trump. “We have given them total authorisation and that is what they are doing.” Alas, Isis is still there.        去年,五角大楼利用新的行动自由,向阿富汗东部一处“伊拉克与黎凡特伊斯兰国”(ISIS)地道设施投下“炸弹之母”(mother of all bombs),这是有史以来威力最大的非核武器。“我们拥有世界上最强大的军队。”特朗普说,“我们给予他们完全的授权,这就是他们正在做的事情。”唉,可ISIS还在那里。
        Ullman’s subtitle is a pardonable exaggeration. Occasionally the US wins wars it did not start — such as its 1991 liberation of Kuwait. For the most part, though, he is right. From the deadly stalemate in Korea in 1950 that holds to this day, to the Vietnam war, the second Iraq war, and Afghanistan, the world’s greatest military has a poor record. Individual battles are no problem. There is not an army in the world that could stand up to the Americans in a fair fight. But winning wars is a different matter.        乌尔曼的著作的副标题(“为何每一场美国发起的战争都以失败告终”)有夸张成分,但无伤大雅。美国偶尔打赢不由美国发起的战争——比如1991年解放科威特的战争。然而,在很大程度上,乌尔曼是对的。从1950年在朝鲜半岛陷入僵局(这个僵局一直持续到今天)到越南战争、从第二次伊拉克战争以及阿富汗战争,世界上最强大军队的记录很糟糕。具体的战斗不是问题。世界上没有哪支军队能够在公平战斗中抗衡美军。但赢得战争是另一回事。
        What is the problem? Ullman is a good person to answer the question. Having fought in Vietnam as a Swift Boat captain, he is a veteran of the US’s most costly defeat. He is also a respected military strategist on the Washington scene. As an instructor at the Naval War College in the 1990s, he coined the strategy of “shock and awe” that was put to devastating use in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. As a friend and sometime adviser to figures including Robert McNamara, the former secretary of defence, and Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, Ullman understands their weak spots.        问题出在哪儿?乌尔曼是回答这个问题的合适人选。作为越战期间的快艇船长,他是经历过美国代价最惨重的战败的老兵。他还是华盛顿受尊敬的军事战略家。乌尔曼在上世纪90年代担任美国海军战争学院(US Naval War College)讲师期间,提出了“震慑”战略(shock and awe),这一战略被应用于2003年美国牵头的入侵伊拉克行动,造成了毁灭性打击。乌尔曼是前国防部长罗伯特•麦克纳马拉(Robert McNamara)和前国务卿科林•鲍威尔(Colin Powell)等人物的朋友,有时还担当他们的顾问,因而了解他们的弱点。
        He has three explanations. First, the US keeps electing poorly qualified presidents. Second, they keep making strategic mistakes. As Mr Trump is showing, the less experienced the president, the more likely they are to take advice from the military. But the Pentagon should not be entrusted with strategic decisions. That is the job of the civilian who is elected to be their commander-in-chief.        乌尔曼提供了3个解释。首先,美国一直选出不够格的总统。第二,他们总是在犯战略性错误。就如特朗普表现出来的那样,越是缺乏经验的总统,就越有可能听从军方的建议。但制定战略决策的任务不应该交给五角大楼,而应该是经选举产生、担任美军总司令的文职官员的工作。
        Just as often, presidents invent their own blunders. John F Kennedy’s presidency was almost upended when he took the Central Intelligence Agency’s advice to launch a botched invasion of Cuba. George W Bush thought that Iraq’s defeat would deflate tyrants everywhere. Barack Obama believed the Taliban would fall for his “Hello, I must be going” temporary surge in Afghanistan. Two exceptions were Dwight Eisenhower, who had been commander of US forces in Europe, and George H W Bush, who had been head of the CIA. Bush Senior wisely stopped the 1991 invasion of Iraq long before it reached Baghdad. Bush Junior was clearly not paying attention.        同样经常的是,总统自己也会搞砸决策。约翰•肯尼迪(John F Kennedy)听取中央情报局(CIA)建议而对古巴发起拙劣的入侵行动,几乎葬送了他的总统任期。小布什(George W Bush)以为,打败伊拉克会让任何地方的暴君闻风丧胆。巴拉克•奥巴马(Barack Obama)以为,他向阿富汗暂时增兵所传达的“哈喽,我得按时撤出”的讯息会让塔利班配合。仅有的两个例外是曾担任欧洲战区美军司令的德怀特•艾森豪威尔(Dwight Eisenhower)以及曾担任中情局局长的老布什(George H W Bush)。1991年,老布什在美军在距离巴格达还很远的时候就决定收手。小布什显然没有领悟这其中的智慧。
        Ullman’s third explanation — that American forces lack cultural knowledge of the enemy — is where he is most scathing. “Ignorance of the local situation is . . . embedded in our decision-making DNA,” he writes. “Too often, American leaders have believed that the enemy is always thinking as we do.” Perhaps the best example of this was seen in Vietnam. Washington thought it would be the next communist domino to fall. People who knew the country understood this was a war of self-determination.        乌尔曼的第三个解释——美军缺乏对敌人文化的了解——这是他笔锋最尖锐的地方。“对当地情况的无知……植根于我们的决策DNA中。”他写道,“美国领导人往往以为,敌人会像我们一样思考。”越战或许就是最好的例子。华盛顿认为这是下一张落入共产党手中的多米诺骨牌。而了解越南的人都知道,那是一场民族自决战争。
        Ullman’s thesis can be boiled down to one phrase: too much muscle; not enough thinking. He recommends a “brains-based” approach. That would be a good place to start. Intelligent volunteers should begin by reading his book.        乌尔曼的论点可以归结为一句话:肌肉太多,思考不足。他推荐采用“用脑子的”策略。那将是一个很好的开端。聪明的志愿者应该以阅读本书作为开始。
        The writer is the FT’s Washington columnist and commentator        本文作者是英国《金融时报》华盛顿专栏作家和评论员

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