Warfare is about many things but first and foremost it is about will. It’s not about weapons or technology.
Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq should’ve taught us that.
Instead, warfare is about demonstrating to the enemy that you are willing to do anything, to endure anything, to go to any length in order to secure a desired outcome.
Put simply, warfare is a test of resolve.
This is something our leaders today would be wise to remember.
Following the disaster at Dunkirk in June of 1940, where Allied forces were driven into the sea and expelled from the continent of Europe, Winston Churchill took to the floor of House of Commons and gave a stirring oration. In a steady and unwavering voice he famously laid down the gauntlet by saying,
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Of course Churchill was rallying the British people following a staggering defeat. After all they needed it. The British Expeditionary Force had been smashed. Citizens across the empire were in shock. And Churchill delivered reassurance for them. He buoyed their spirit, gave them hope and instilled a solid resolve. But more importantly, Winston Churchill sent an unambiguous message to Nazi Germany. In essence he said, ‘We will go to any measure to secure our survival’.
Yesterday, in contrast, John Kerry likewise spoke upon the international stage. What Kerry said, was spoken with the typical parsing of an administration in the age of the internet and a near lethal dose of political correctness. Blithely Kerry spoke,
“…what we have to do is make clear to people that this is – we’re not talking about war. We’re not going to war. We will not have people at risk in that way. We will be able to hold Bashar Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we’re talking about doing – unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
Anyone see, hear or feel the difference?
About the only thing Kerry’s and Churchill’s comments shared was the fact that they were both given in London.
John Kerry, couriering the message of the administration, stood before the world and declared in no uncertain terms: We just want a mini war – that’s really not even a war! And whatever we do, we don’t want any responsibility. But don’t worry because whatever we do, it’s sure to be an “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
Our enemies across the globe must be laughing themselves silly.
Kerry’s splicing of incoherence reminds one of the sage advice that it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. Couple the nonsense of Kerry’s statement with the blatant stupidity of the rationale. As if firing missiles and dropping bombs are not acts of war.
But at least our acts will be proportional, they tell us. After all, God forbid we hurt anyone’s feelings.
It should come as no surprise that our credibility is severely damaged because first and foremost we telegraph to the enemy our seriousness or rather the lack thereof. We openly tell them of our intent. We trip over ourselves to lament, “We really don’t want to hurt you.”
Meanwhile our enemies would willingly rape or behead any one of us, and gleefully destroy our civilization using all available means.
Say what you will, but one thing isn’t in dispute. Our enemies understand a basic notion of all warfare. That will, as it relates to warfare, is not only about the will to suffer casualties, but more importantly the will to inflict them on the scale necessary to achieve a desired outcome.
Until the American people come to terms with this unpleasant fact and the greater truth of warfare, we should cease and desist from foreign conflict. To do otherwise is to invite a repetition of the last twelve years. And continue wars indefinitely.
We would be wise instead to remember that World War II only lasted three and a half years because leaders like Winston Churchill had the will to fully prosecute it.