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“Force, he believed, was the last resort of incompetence; he had said so frequently enough since this operation had begun. Of course, he was absolutely right, though not in the way he meant. Only the incompetent wait until the last extremity to use force, and by then, it is usually too late to use anything, even prayer.” – H. Beam Piper, A Slave Is a Slave
H. B. Piper* was a science-fiction writer of the 1940s through 1960s. He wrote these words in 1960, for a story first published in 1961. It was his response to Asimov’s more famous “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” explaining why this is so.
As usual, Piper proves prescient. As demonstrated over the last few months in Afghanistan the incompetent fail to use force when it can be applied in measured, small responses and be effective. Instead, they let the situation spiral out of control, waiting until it is too late to use anything, except (here I disagree slightly with Piper) prayer.
This summer has laid bare the incompetence of the current administration and the top leadership of the American military. God help us all, because no one in charge will.