As Clauswitz, the classical German military theorist stated, “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” All wars are, ultimately, political. Certainly our global war on terrorism is political. Military victories, however, starkly affect how the greater political conflict is proceeding. Modern history is filled with examples of freedom loving and peace loving people (N.B. Leftists, that would be us) have turned from military desperation to military victory and from that to inevitable political victory.
The curious thing is that we never know when that will happen. When Washington crossed the Delaware River, the situation of the American Revolution could scarcely have been more hopeless. The last thing in the world any sane, but godless, military leader could have proposed would have been a “surge.” Yet on that very bitter winter night the whole course of American history changed. It had hardly been a Merry Christmas for the all volunteer army of American patriots. In spite of all the reasons why this “surge” should not have worked, it did. The Hessian troops were routed at Trenton and later the British troops at Princeton. Although the military impact was significant, the political impact was enormous.
Fifty-five years ago the battered American fleet knew where the Japanese fleet would strike – at Midway. The Americans had two fleet carriers plus Yorktown, which was put together with bailing wire and chewing gum just in time to join the American “fleet.” Our warplanes were inferior, our carriers were fewer in number, we had no battleships, and our only “victory” so far had been the tactical loss at Coral Sea. Yet we began our naval “surge” against the Japanese: we attacked to win. Almost all our torpedo planes and their crews were killed. Most of our dive bombers were savaged. One pilot, whose fuel tanks would not carry him home anyway, decide to go over one bank of clouds, and his squadron followed him. There, in an instant, he saw the Japanese fleet carriers in the process of yet again re-arming. In five minutes the entire course of the Pacific War changed permanently. Four Japanese carriers would be sunk and the limping Yorktown, too, would have to be sunk. The victory of the surge was absolute and the political flow of the war was afterwards inalterable.
Both these victories were military victories, but more importantly both were enormous political victories which were the result of American forces going on the offensive when most ordinary people thought that a “surge” was the last thing we needed. What happened in these battles has happened at Sidi Barani in 1940, when a tiny British Army in North Africa “surged” and ended up with one of the most decisive land victories of one modern power over another in history. The British advanced 500 miles in a matter of days and captured 130,000 Axis soldiers at the cost of a bit over 500 British causalities.
Is war today like war in 1776 or 1942 or 1940? In one sense, of course not: we are not fighting a war with set piece formations and fixed lines. But in another sense, of course war today is like it was in 1776 or 1942 or 1940. War (N.B. Leftists, we are in a war for survival) is a process in which the political will of our enemies is broken. If the surge does a remarkably good job, then it should do a remarkably good job of demoralizing the political will of our enemies. Let no one fool you that we cannot win because we are fighting religious fanatics who will fight to the death: that is precisely the enemy we fought in the Pacific Theater. Japanese, not Moslems, invented the homicide bomber.
The similarity is even more pronounced because, just as in the Second World War, our goal was not the extermination of the Japanese people but the liberation of the Japanese people. If we wished to murder as many Iraqis or Iranians or Syrians as we could – which is just what so many terrorists want to do to Americans – we could do so with ease and from afar using conventional weapons (does anyone still recall the utter devastation of Iraq in 1991 during Desert Storm?)
But our goal is to do good, not evil. It is to liberate, not enslave. It is to bring democracy, not oppression. It is to bring real peace, not constant war. There have been times in modern history when good men trusting in a living and benevolent God, who knew their purposes, seems to have acted with invisible hands to deliver us – all of us – from evil. Is this one of those times? I have no idea. I only know that it has happened before, in times just like this.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a regular contributor to WebCommentary, Conservative Truth, American Daily, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, NewsByUs and Men’s News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.