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"SPIEGEL: It seems that every US generation in recent history has had to go through the experience of losing a war."

I've got to change careers and become a journalist! Outside of being a writer or actor, what other job allows you just to make things up like that?

Annan: Yes, and it is a bit sad to put it that way. One has to learn from history. Quite frankly, it is almost impossible to have a sense of vision without a sense of history. If history is learned, then it doesn't have to repeat itself over generations."

Oh pleeaze! I surprised he didn't throw in "to thine own self be true" too. It's hard to figure who is more laughable here: Korrupt Kofi, spouting the Polonious sounding advice, or the German ignoramus who somehow has concluded that the US coalition was defeated in the first Gulf War, just after losing the Cold War. Unbelievable!

"It seems that every US generation in recent history has had to go through the experience of losing a war."

Okay, you want to talk about "generations"?
- 1918: US military deploys from the other side of the world and proceeds to kick butts of Corporal Adolph, and the rest of the German war machine.
- 1945: US military deploys from the other side of the world and proceeds to kick butts of Fuhrer Adolph, and the rest of the German war machine.
- 1950: US military delivers 50% of German people from Soviet tyranny.
- 1989: US military delivers the OTHER 50% of German people from Soviet tyranny.
- 2002: Germany backstabs US military while it is attempting to deliver another 50 million people in Iraq from tyranny.

Don't worry though, if EVER there is again a need for US intervention to protect Germany, I will do everything in my power to make damn sure it does not happen!

Yeah, we Americans know how it feels to lose - especially how to lose respect for those who are unworthy of our blood and trust.

I guess one could claim that the US lost a tactical war in Korea though eventually winning a larger strategic victory. Possibly Mr. Annan is also counting precipitous withdrawals from Lebanan and Somalia as losses or even the CSA losing the Civil War. But I agree that there appears to be scant evidence that every US generation has experienced losing a war. Maybe the number of Spanish speakers in the southwest has led the Secretary-General to conclude that the US lost the Mexican-American War and California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico still are part of Mexico del Norte.

Pat, Korea was a French and UN war, not an "American war". I would like to ask Kofi about the UN's record. What wars has the UN won? What wars has the UN prevented?

For the record, Vietnam was a victory. Communism DID NOT spread in southeast Asia other than South Vietnam. That was the intention of the Vietnam war, to contain Communism.

I'll concede we could have done a better job of learning the lesson of the League of Nations.

DaveR hits the nail on the head. Let's end the occupation of Germany, take off the training wheels, and see if Germany can grow up and take responsibility for its own security. (Best of luck with Russia. History isn't over.) Pooling resources (NATO) only makes sense when all of the countries involved bother to have sufficient resources to pool. Other then some excellent special forces and a few key pieces of real estate, all Germany has to offer right now is a guy sitting at a table in New York who may or may not reluctantly raise his hand at the appropriate moment, depending on how many concessions America offers.

Hey Spiegel: Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, Gulf War II? Somebody actually buys your product expecting accurate information?

France sent a battalion of volunteers to Korea and served with distinction under US command. The US provided the bulk of the troops, supplies and essentially determined tactical and strategic policy virtually independent of UN control. As to Viet Nam being a victory I guess I missed the victory celebrations in South Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos after 1975. Again a tactical loss can over a great period of time become a strategic victory.

Unfortunately you are correct about Cambodia and Laos. The main concern in the 50's when the decision to be active in Asia was is the spread of communism in to Japan and other growing powers. Vietnam also did show the expanding communist that the USA would not simply roll over and look the other way in response to their actions. (As Jimmy Carter did with Afghanistan.)
Yes, sad as Vietnam was, it was not a defeat. Mistakes? Of course. Victory? Not the parade in the street kind. But everyone involved in Vietnam should hold their heads high because they helped change the world for the better.

But what does this have to do with the Spiegel interview? Not much, but it does show that the depth of American politics and an understanding of American Power can not be expected by a journalist(?) and a UN King that wants to only expect the worse from the USA.

In response to the "what else can we do?" posting of last week, I've started to look for opportunities to present factual information to the German audience here that doesn't always get the straight story when it comes to American matters. So let's review all of the major military actionst that the U.S. has been involved in since WWII:

Korea: A UN-authorized "police action" in response to North Korea's aggression against South Korea. The Cold War politics of the time hold back the U.S. and coalition forces from an all-out attempt to take the North, for fear that the Soviet Union might escalate to nuclear war. So the strategy is basically to fight to a draw, which is pretty much what happened. South Korea remained free, and decades later, evolved into an economic powerhouse. North Korea, of course, is an absolute disaster today. Did we win? We succeeded in achieving the only goal that was beleived to be possible at the time, and we kept the South free. So yeah, I'd say we won.

Vietnam: Starts out with the same basic goal as in Korea: fight the Chinese- and Soviet-backed North Vietnamese to a draw. But the North succeeds with its asymmetrical-warfare strategy and propogandizes the U.S. into a withdrawal. The repression of Siagon and the killing fields of Cambodia follow. Did we win? No question we lost. The citizens of Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia lost too. What were the factors in our losing? Besides the North's successful propoganda efforts in the U.S., other factors were our outdated military (we were still fighting in 1973 with the same basic technology that we had at the end of WWII), and the fact that the South Vietnam government was pretty corrupt and was doing a Nero act rather than trying to defend their own country. However, years after the war, Vietnam incredibly turned away from the cliff that North Korea jumped off of, and although it's still nominally a Communist country today, economic liberalization is occurring and prosperity is increasing. So, ultimately, it looks like we might win that one after all.

Grenada: Starts as a rescue effort to evacuate Americans from this tiny island nation, but then evolves into an all-out war against rebels trying to overthrow the government. Did we win? Yes, without question. However, I don't have any idea what kind of shape Grenada is in today.

Panama: The goal is to remove the corrupt, drug-dealing dictator Noreiga and eliminate a potential threat to the security of the Panama Canal. Did we win? Yes, and Noreiga was eventually brought to trial and convicted from his crimes. Panama today is one of the better-off and more stable of the Central American nations.

Gulf War I: The objective is to reverse Iraqi aggression against its neighbor Kuwait. Iraq attempts to expand the war by firing missiles against Saudi Arabia and Israel, but a combination of diplomatic efforts and a prototype missile defense system succeed in containing these fronts. The coalitiion forces easily force Irsqi troops out of Kuwait and pursue them back into Iraq, but under diplomatic pressure, they stop short of the ultimate objective of taking the country. Did we win? Militarily, no question, yes we won. However, in the period after the war, our dipolmats and intel agencies are asleep at the switch, and Saddam succeeds in rebuilding his capabilities and becoming a threat again.

Haiti: Basically a humanitarian mission, to improve conditions by removing the thug dictator Aristide (or was it Baby Doc Duvalier?), which would hopefully lead to a more rational government in that nation. Did we win? Militarily, yes, we achieved our objectives. However, Haiti has far bigger cultural problems, that the removal of one dictator won't solve. The situation there today is pretty much the same as it has been for most of Haiti's history: brutal, oppressive government, starvation, and a nonexistent economy.

Serbia/The Balkans: Mission is to back European troops responding to Serbian aggression against its neighbors, and stop the genocide of Muslims in the region. Did we win? Yes, somewhat to our surprise. U.S. policy at the time was to limit our engagement to airial bombardment, and not commit ground troops. The dictator Milosovic is captured and taken out of power; he dies while awaiting trial.

Somolia: Mission is to... well, to be honest, I'm not really sure what the mission was. Somoli rebels succeed in applying asymmetric warfare tactics against us, and after taking a few losses, we withdraw. Did we win? We lost, big time. Why did we lose? Well, we didn't really know what the mission was, so we had no way of knowing if we had won. But we know we lost for one reason: we quit. Or rather, our leadership quit on us. A couple of years later, we fixed that problem.

Afghanistan: Objecttive is to rout Al-Queda and its handmaiden political party the Taliban from the country, and institute a democratic government. Did we win? Yes. All of the mission objectives were achieved. We are currently having to maintain a significant presence there, along with coalition troops whose contributions we much appreciate, because the country is not yet capable of defending itself and controlling its borders. But this is basically a mop-up action; the only way we can lose is if we quit.

Iraq: Objective is to eliminate Saddam Hussein from power, get a start on cleaning up WMD production and trafficking in the region, and start a democratic revolution that we hope will spread across the Mideast. The war is still in progress, so it's too soon to say if we won or not. I believe we are winning. Looking at the three objectives states above, we have completely accomplished the first one. We have partially accomplished the second one; unfortunately, Saddam managed to get most of his WMD efforts removed from Iraq shortly before the war began, and we still don't know what happened to most of them, although we have our suspicions (ahem, Syria...). However, the war did pursuade Libya to give up its previously-unsuspected nuclear program. We have done great damage to the trafficking in nuclear technology in Pakistan, and our intervention may have prevented a nuclear war between Pakistan and India. However, we have not succeeded in hindering Iran's efforts very much. The combined enemies are trying desparately to expand the war; first they carried out an insurgency inside Iraq, with cross-border help. That fight is still being fought, but the corner has been turned; our victory there is inevitable as long as we keep fighting. Then, the enemies tried launching a multi-front war against our ally Israel. Fortunately for us, the Israelis have handled that without needing much American backing. We're waiting for the next shoe to drop, but it appears now that some of the Mideast nations that were siding with the enemies a few years ago are now turning, or at least becoming neutrals. Our third objective is proving to be the most difficult: establishing democracy in the only region on Earth where monarchy is still considered an acceptable form of government. We have the Cedar Revolution in Lebannon as one success, and things may be opening up somewhat in Egypt. How will all this turn out? Hard to say right now, although I have a positive feeling that things in the region will at least be better than they were.

This is a little off subject....but according to Stern....Paris has homelessness....and the Parisians are kicking them off the street....because they lower property values!


Next thing you know....Stern will report that there is homelessness in Germany....or that junkies hang around the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin!

Cousin, I think that if you go back to the after action write up from tet you'll find out that the reason that we left was not because we were beaten back. I think you might find that congress was the enemy of the military and funding stopped. And then the boat people started.

@Mike: That's kind of what I was trying to get at, but didn't do a very good job of saying. Our military didn't let us down. What let us down was our leadership -- they failed to really define the mission, and then when things got a little hot at home, they quit on us. But I do also think the technology angle is underappreciated -- we hadn't done a lot of weapons development in the decade prior to JFK's initial committment to the war, and the enemy had technology that was equal to or a little better than ours until right near the end (1972 was when we deployed the first laser-guided bombs).

---"Every US generation in recent history..."---

What exactly is "recent history"? Does it mean the "last year" as in: Every US generation in the last year... Or does it mean the 'current generation" as in "Every US generation in the current generation... That phrase needs to be taken out and shot. If Bush said that, it would be a Bushism.

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