Between War & Peace: Statecraft & Political Correctness

The single most decisive long term impact of foreign policy is the winning of war and the management of peace.  Most historians completely ignore the course of events (both domestic and international) leading to a given war’s conclusion and the consequences for the peace that follow.  Afghanistan is a perfect example.  One simply cannot ignore the supine posture that dominated the American left since Nixon, Watergate and the attendant drift that became of Western Asia after the fall of Marxism and the Soviet defeat.

The sad truth is hard to fathom, but DECISIVE MILITARY VICTORY HAS BECOME AN INCREASINGLY DISCREDITED AIM.  Victory has indeed lost some of its official appeal.

How does this happen?

The West has constructed a moral climate of relativism that ignores the realism that animates the relation between military victory and shaping a lasting peace.  Technological advances have obscured the relation between force and victory but American counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) has permanently re-established the absolute need to acknowledge the primacy of infantry.

The cultural vortex of dependency and political despondency throughout the Near East and the developing world permits most in the West to accept the false claim that victory creates new grievances which guarantee future conflict.

A willful misreading of the historical record, ideology of the left and complete ignorance of the relation between force and victory conspire to hinder any American executive from advancing American interests.

Let’s look at the historical record:  it was a series a military defeats that ratified the separation of the American colonies from Britain.  it severed Texas and California from Mexico.  Decisive military engagement and defeat prevented the dissolution of the American Union under Lincoln.  It ejected Spain and by implication other European Monarchies from the Western hemisphere under James Monroe.  It prevented the total submission of Europe from a monstrous tyranny that was Nazi Germany.  Defeat prevented the ruthless totalitarian imposition of Japanese hegemony over East Asia.  It determined that Vietnam would become a united nation facing West.

Although one may wish for a less expensive and more human way to settle such affairs, but settled they were: and in the interests on both American foreign policy and the self determining interests of such nations.

Perhaps the most understudied phenomenon of war-craft is how it creates political and cultural conditions that neither contestant anticipates.

Nevertheless, three authors recently grappled with such intractable concerns in Matthew Moten ‘Between War & Peace:  How America Ends Its Wars’,  John David Lewis’s ‘Nothing Less Than Victory:  Decisive Wars & The Lessons Of History’, ‘How Wars End:  Why We Always Fight The Last War’ by Gideon Rose.

About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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