Rather like the query about the Drunken Sailor, there are a number of potential answers, including, apparently, putting them in charge of a nuclear weapon. As is the case with our sailor, none of the solutions seem wholly satisfactory.
You can follow this link to a Washington Times article that asserts the U.S. military has been "decimated" under Obama. Decimated originally meant reduced by 10% and now is a synonym for being wiped out. I'm not sure which applies in this case since the defense contract lobby probably has a different view than the rest of us. U.S. military policy since World War II has been aimed at sustaining the capacity to fight a two-front war or two major wars simultaneously. The article quotes some experts as saying that we cannot fight a war on the Korean peninsula while at the same time fighting the Russians in Ukraine.
My question is, why we would want to do either? South Korea is more populous and wealthier than North Korea. China is not likely to back a Nork attack. Why are there American troops on the DMZ more than sixty years after the Korean "police action" -- Truman-speak for "kinetic military action" -- ended? Germany, France, and the UK are military powers. They have nuclear weapons. Surely they could dissuade the Russians from advancing too far past Crimea without our help.
The U.S. can't play world cop any more. It's not because we don't have the resources, couldn't put together the forces, couldn't efficiently build new and better weapons or re-industrialize for a large-scale conflict, it's because our leadership and most of our people lack the will.
My friends and I used to box for fun. I was never very good at it. My main technique was to get punched in the face repeatedly while trying to move in enough to land a right. Most of the time no one "won" because we weren't fighting to win. I could have beaten some of the guys I fought; some I couldn't because they were too quick or too strong. Will wasn't much of a factor. We were concerned with technique. On the other hand, the one or two occasions where I found myself in a genuinely bad situation, technique and form went out the window, and will was mostly what got me out in one piece. Whether or not my dignity was intact is debatable, but rather beside the point as I thought at the time.
A nation without the will to win a war should never get involved in a war. America hasn't had the will to win even our bogus, made-up "wars". We don't have the will to win the "war on poverty" because if we did, we'd stop subsidizing the primary cause of poverty, i.e., single motherhood. We don't have the will to win the "war on drugs" because if we did, we'd stop making an industry out of the police and prisons and letting illegal drugs finance gangs here and in Mexico and South America.
We don't have the will to win the "war on terror" because, if we did, instead of starting up Homeland Security, we would have established an FBI unit to profile, pursue and track Muslim radicals. We'd have taken the money we have wasted on the TSA and equipped local law enforcement to do more active surveillance and community policing in Muslim neighborhoods. We would have sealed the borders and screened visitors and made it more difficult for Islamic troublemakers to enter this country. We would have wiped out the Taliban in Afghanistan even if it meant pushing into Pakistan. Fallujah would be Lake Fallujah.
We spent enough money and got enough good men killed to have done exactly what was necessary to make Iraq and other parts of the Middle East stable and hostile to terrorists. If we had been serious, we would have built a native surveillance infrastructure and struck circumspectly the minute something like ISIS reared its head. To combat an uprising it is best to, in the immortal words of Barney Fife, "Nip it in the bud."
But we didn't have the will for that. We thought we could make friends with those who hate us. We thought it would be fine to depose Mubarak and Gaddafi and Assad, even after we saw what happened in Iraq without Saddam. Go ahead and blame Bush for Iraq. Who is to blame for Libya and Tunisia and Syria, and thus for ISIS? If it hadn't been for the good sense of the Egyptian military, the situation would be even more desperate than it is because we allowed ourselves the luxury of putting the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review in charge of our foreign policy. We would have been better off with the senior class president from Ridgemont High.
So, if you don't have the will to fight, the answer is don't fight. Brendan makes a good case for "containment and quarantine". I agree with him.
Of course, this suits the regime quite well. They want us to disengage. My suggestion to the GOP is to out-disengage the disengagers. Become fortress America. We can eat. We can produce our own oil -- albeit a little more expensively. We can build cheap, safe, clean, low-waste nuclear power plants using thorium. We can mine our own rare-earth minerals. Seal the borders, put up a tariff wall, and put unskilled Americans back to work. Tell Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that they free to work it out amongst themselves. We are busy. We have to wash our hair.