Yet since WWII we have been engaged in conflict after conflict which does NOT reach your threshold criteria for victory.
Instead they resulted in permanent standoffs, with great costs.
What was Eisenhower warning about regarding the "Military Industrial Complex?"
Nearly 70 years after WWII, Europe's economy equals our own, in dollar terms. Their population equals our own. Why do we have so many troops there?
Korea. Vietnam. Iraq I, Iraq II and Afghanistan. Not one of those examples resulted in a decisive permanent military victory.
Why wipe out the enemy when you can have an entire career on the golf courses of the continents?
I completely agree with what you said.
For the past 70 years, Europe has, by and large, spent approximately 1% of GDP toward their own defense, "allowing" Uncle Sugar to take up their slack. That is exactly why we have so many of our troops there.
I have no problem at all in scaling back our presence in Europe and letting them take up that slack.
As to the fact that we have not finished the deal since WWll, I can only point to the fact that our country has no taste for sealing the deal, evidently. We need to be more judicious in our thinking about where and when we will become involved in foreign disputes.
At the same time, I believe that we need to secure our borders and significantly cut back on our foreign aid largess.
Just remember this: In Vietnam, we never lost a single battle. Vietnam (and every one of our troops who served and/or died there) was betrayed by the US Media and by Congress. Pretty much the same thing with Iraq and Afghanistan.