Curtis Dahlgren
A new era? Causes of war, causes of defeat
By Curtis Dahlgren
February 21, 2022

"O that you would have hearkened unto My Commandments! Your peace would have been like a river and your godliness as the waves of the sea." – the God of Israel

FROM WHENCE COME WARS AND FIGHTING AMONG YOU? "From the lusts that war within you... You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that friendship with the world is enmity with God?" – James

Someone said that only a nation on its knees is able to stand up to its enemies. As for defeats, the U.S. has had plenty of them since World War II. This week I'm taking the liberty of borrowing some words written for Memorial Day two years ago by a guy who went to Canada in the 1960s, Jim Wagner at

"While in Canada, I quickly learned that nearly all the other draft dodgers were leftists who hated America.... I had refused to serve not because of any sympathy with the Communists, but because our government had a history of betraying both our own military and our allies.... First, after sacrificing hundreds of thousands to stop Hitler, we handed most of Europe over to Stalin.... Then we betrayed Nationalist China to Mao...."

He says that led to disaster in Korea: "We fought a phony show war.... Then we allowed Castro to take over Cuba [despite the Monroe Doctrine] without raising a hand to stop him, and when Cuban patriots attempted to retake their island, we betrayed them at the Bay of Pigs."

"It was against this backdrop, with those prior betrayals in mind, that I concluded our adventure half way around the world made no sense...."

VP Humphrey actually called it a "great adventure." Wagner says:

"Did you ever wonder why we fought that entire war in South Vietnam instead of in the North?... Between rules of engagement and 'Demilitarized zones' it was clear we were not fighting to win. Nearly all the collateral damage was inflicted upon our allies, the civilians in the South."

The iconic photo from that "adventure" was of a girl burned by napalm. In the continuing saga of endless foreign adventures, the iconic photo from Afghanistan ought to be that of Afghan citizens clinging to departing American airplanes, falling to their deaths. The exit from Nam was similar, and why did we fight that war in the South? Because the President didn't want to "upset" China, the same reason Truman fired MacArthur.

Another aspect to our crises and dismal results is that new Presidents tend to get tested. Russia tested JFK's relative youth in 1962 with the Cuban missile crisis. He got out of it, but only after promising to leave Castro alone. We got absolutely nothing out of the "Half-Af Exit." The Taliban and friends in China and Iran reaped the harvest of military hardware conveniently left behind for them, not to mention the Americans left behind. As an indirect result of that fiasco, Russia is further testing Biden's incompetence.

CONCLUSION? It's time to go back to square one:

"O that you would have hearkened unto My Commandments! Your peace would have been like a river and your godliness as the waves of the sea." – the God of Israel

P.S. Jim Wagner's column can be read at

PPS: For further reading, go to ["THIS is what happens when wars end?"] It is adapted from "The Strange Saga of the South Dakota Civil War" which was published in the UW Badger Herald in 1972 ["What is past is prologue." – Shakespeare (engraved on the National Archives building).]

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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