Why can't America win wars? Why does the United States struggle in wars without resolving conflicts?
The era that we live in today appears to be a period of never-ending conflicts. Wars start one after another, but none of these wars bring victory. Everything a modern war can do is to make a conflict an endless one.
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The price of military triumph was often immense. In the Civil War alone, there were around 750,000 American fatalities-more than the deaths in every other U.S. war combined. But if the costs of conflict were staggering, so were the benefits. The Civil War saved the Union and emancipated the slaves. World War II ensured the survival of liberal democracy in Western Europe. For Americans, golden-age conflicts became the model of what war ought to look like.
And then, all of a sudden, the United States stopped winning major wars. The golden age faded into the past, and a new dark age of U.S. warfare emerged. Since 1945, Americans have experienced little except military frustration, stalemate, and loss.
The martial dusk began with the Korean War, which deteriorated into a grim stalemate at a cost of nearly 37,000 American lives. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, the United States faced outright military defeat for the first time in its history-and, most shockingly, against North Vietnam, a "raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country," as Lyndon Johnson put it.
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