General James Mattis. USMC is an avid reader and travels with a library of some 6,000 books. One of his recent comments is that “If you don’t read, then you are doomed to repeat the failures of history”. Simple statement, but clearly true. Look at the mess we have made of Iraq, and Afghanistan. Did none of our leaders read the writing of the Russian generals about their 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan? Did they not read any of the lessons learned over the centuries by the British when they pulled out of various locations leaving a leadership vacuum?
It seems the current theory of the Obama administration, forced on the military, is the old snake theory. Cut off the head and the snake dies. That certainly works for killing snakes, but it isn’t worth a twit in stamping out terrorist organizations. Take out their leadership and others fill the gap. Our leaders have totally ignored the history of the Muslim world if they ever read it. These groups are not a bunch of rebels that have been radicalized. They are the heart and core of Islamic doctrine. They are the visible part of the people that support them, feed them, arm them, finance them, and shelter them and have done so for thousands of years.
I don’t claim that all Muslims are radicals. Neither were all Christians involved in the ill-fated crusades. But, having said that, we can not ignore the fact that the current terrorism is simply a continuation of centuries of violent Muslim actions. Neither can we ignore the fact that our current plan to defeat terrorist organizations is a plan designed to fail.
Plans designed to fail are not unique in world politics, or in military actions. They are quite common in business too. I’ve read some business plans that rank up there with opening a buggy whip factory today. Lessons learned by trial and error experience are among the most expensive.
If a leader, military or business, were to read only one book in his/her career I would recommend “The Art of War”. Originally written by a Chinese general named Sun Tzu, circa 500 b.c. The wisdom therein is timeless and applies to all human situations of leadership, and often too personal relationships.
If our leaders had studied Sun Tzu we wouldn’t have lost in Vietnam or Korea. The Cuban crisis would never have happened. Perhaps WW I and WW II could have been avoided, or if not then they could have been brought to a more timely end saving hundreds of thousands of lives and untold suffering.
I have written that in my opinion, the majority of people live their lives in quiet desperation. They have no plan for their life, or it consists of lessons learned by trial and error. Plans designed to fail are no better than no plan at all. As a side note for the millennials: A plan to find a job that offers a good work/life balance is not a life plan. That is another plan designed to fail.