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Just a thought — throwing it out here. It may be that we have gotten so bad at going to war (the full diplomatic, political, social, military, economic set of things, not just the military warfighting) because we have missed a key point about war due to our experience.
We fought a series of wars under the Cold War which were not proper wars, despite lots of proper fighting, suffering, sacrifice, and killing. These were proxy wars. These wars did not need to be won; they just needed to be fought. They were but points within a larger effort, and there was therefore a way to transition even from a well-fought stalemate to a better position if it meant that the USSR’s aims had been stymied. Exit conditions? Victory? Consequences? None of these things mattered the way they did in say WWI or WWII. Proxy wars were important more as signals than as wars. Truly politics by other means, but not truly war despite most elements of war flying in loose formation.
Just a thought. The last thirty years saw us involved in several large efforts which look like wars, but which may have been undertaken with a flawed set of foundations even deeper than the obvious. Our entire government has trained itself to operate in the context of proxy wars, with a focus on messaging at the expense of mission. I suspect that this drives some of the “new” fifth-generation this that and the other, which may just amount to post hoc attempts to account for the presence of a lot of non-war goals competing with war goals, which have not changed in all of history.
Offered for your consideration.Published in