How Did America Win 1801 Barbary War In 5 Years. And Lose 2001 Afghanistan War in 20?

Military Historian Thomas E. Ricks wrote The Generals in 2012 about the decline of performance and accountability in the U.S. military since 1945.  Ricks also gave a lecture entitled “Why The U.S. Military Was More Successful In World War II Than In Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq/Afghanistan” in the 2011 Nimitz Lecture Series at University of California-Berkeley.  In that lecture, Ricks argues that since World War II, the U.S. Military has been crippled by a “culture of mediocrity”.  Click below for YouTube link to 57 minute lecture.

Why our Generals Were More Successful in World War II – YouTube

During Five Years of 1801 Barbary War:

  1. America’s leaders understood our enemy.  Our President Thomas Jefferson read their Koran.
  2. Americans appointed and promoted officers who achieved, won the respect of their men, freely gave their honest opinions to superiors, took risks, and won battles.   Richard Somers promoted to command the Nautilus, a warship with 108 men, at age 24.  Promoted again to Master Commandant in command of a squadron of warships at age 25.
  3. Commanders like Richard Somers were expected and permitted to use their close-up, first-hand knowledge of a situation to attack and defeat enemy at first opportunity.
  4. There were no “rules of engagement” when enemy disregarded them by faking surrender, shooting from mosques, etc.
  5. Alliances were made with Greek Christians & rivals of our enemy who hated our enemy more than we did.

During 20 years of 2001 Afghanistan War:

  1. America’s leaders never identified, understood or challenged the beliefs of our enemy.  They simply said we were fighting a war against “terror”.
  2. We appointed and promoted commanders based on diversity, political correctness, and seniority.  We chose bureaucrats who advanced their careers by not disagreeing with superiors or colleagues, who avoided conflict and battles whenever possible, and waited for their turn to be promoted.
  3. When minutes counted, battlefield commanders often needed approval from superiors thousands of miles away, which often took hours or days.
  4. American and allied soldiers forced to comply with “rules of engagement” that protected the enemy and caused many American and allied soldiers to be needlessly killed and maimed. Many American soldiers who acted reasonably to protect themselves and others were  arrested and charged with “war crimes”.
  5. America shared information and resources with “moderate” allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the same nations that inspired, created, organized, led, and funded the Taliban in 1980’s! The word Taliban means “students”. Their teachers were in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan!

Will America collapse as quickly and ‘unexpectedly’ as Afghanistan?

For 20 years, Americans trained Afghan soldiers to depend on Americans.  We taught them to depend on our high tech air strikes and drone strikes.  We taught them to depend on our high-tech surveillance and intelligence.  We taught them to depend on getting paid by us.  We told them not to say or do anything to offend Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or the “international community”  We basically told them not to depend on their own leadership, resources and common sense.  We told them they would be safe because they could dial 911 if they ran into trouble.  Then, we suddenly left and did not answer the phone when they called.

President Biden said the sudden collapse of the Afghan army was “unexpected”.  Is it possible that not a single member of America’s military or intelligent community saw these problems.  If they did, why didn’t a single officer or employee become a “whistleblower”?  hen President Trump was in office, weren’t we told of many “courageous” government employees willing to risk their careers to give Congress or the public warning of incompetence or corruption that was putting our country in danger?

We are a group of roughly 200 citizens who mostly live near Atlantic City, New Jersey.  We volunteer our time and money to maintain this website. We do our best to post accurate information. However, we admit we make mistakes from time to time.  If you see any mistakes or inaccurate, misleading, outdated, or incomplete information in this or any of our posts, please let us know. We will do our best to correct the problem as soon as possible. 

Also, because Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms falsely claim our posts violate their “community standards”, they greatly restrict, “throttle back” or “shadow ban” our posts.  Please help us overcome that by sharing our posts wherever you can, as often as you can.  Please click the social share links below.  Also copy and paste the link to the “comments” section of your favorite sites like or and email them to your friends. Thanks.

Seth Grossman, Executive Director

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top