Ancient Laws, Modern Wars

Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of some ancient learning, and helps us apply it to the present day.

After eight years of withdrawal, what rules should the U.S. follow to effectively reassert itself in world affairs? The most dangerous moments in foreign affairs often come after a major power seeks to reassert its lost deterrence. The United States may be entering just such a perilous transitional period.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446471/military-deterrence-trumps-leadership-abroad-principles-foreign-policy […]

1. Avoid making verbal threats that are not serious and backed up by force. After eight years of pseudo-red lines, step-over lines, deadlines, and “game changers,” American ultimatums without consequences have no currency and will only invite further aggression.
2. The unlikely is not impossible. Weaker powers can and do start wars. Japan in December 1941 attacked the world’s two largest navies based on the false impression that great powers which sought to avoid war did so because they were weak. That current American military power is overwhelming does not mean delusional nations will always agree that it is so — or that it will be used.
3. Big wars can start from small beginnings. No one thought an obscure Austrian archduke’s assassination in 1914 would lead to some 18 million dead by 1918. Consider any possible military engagement a precursor to far more. Have a backup plan — and another backup plan for the backup plan.
4. Do not confuse tactics with strategy. Successfully shooting down a rogue airplane, blowing up an incoming speedboat, or taking an ISIS-held Syrian city is not the same as finding a way to win and end a war. Strategic victory is time-consuming and usually involves drawing on economic, political, and cultural superiority as well as military success to ensure that a defeated opponent stays defeated — and agrees that further aggression is counterproductive.

via Military Deterrence & Trump’s Leadership Abroad: Principles for Foreign Policy | National Review Read the whole thing.™

There’s more there and they are all true, useful, and important. One that we Americans are very prone to is number four above. It’s always a problem, where is the dividing line. There is a murky area in there as well that some theorists coming after Clausewitz refer to as the ‘operational’. While I see their point, which is valid, these theories are already too complex, so it is best to do our best to maintain a sharp clear line.

If they are doing their job, the TLAM strike in Syria in Syria was strategic. It may or may not deter Hasan, although that is certainly desirable, but it depends on his calculus of survival. If he thinks he is more likely to survive by doing such things, he will. He is, after all, a man of weak morals, caught in a corner. He will do his best to survive, just as Saddam did.

But the point of that strike, which occurred while the President was having dinner with the Chinese Premier, was not Syria. It was Iran and North Korea, and it was notice to their sponsor states, Russia and China, that we were quite unhappy, and that the eagle just might scream in other parts of the world.

It’s important to realize that the United States, while it may be possible to destroy it, it can only be destroyed by what is essentially a nation level suicide-bombing, and only Russia (and maybe China) can do it. America’s only real enemies are internal. And that too has precedent, especially with Rome. Are we there? I don’t think so, but there are troubling signs.

My reading is that the first signs of decline are corruption, venality, and a deterioration of will. I do see these signs in abundance, and we would be wise to check our course. Or maybe we did, and that why we have Trump.

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About NEO
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9 Responses to Ancient Laws, Modern Wars

  1. Amen, about the reading of the “signs” of decline… “corruption, venality, and a deterioration of will.” And sadly many of the moral signs like Rome are clearly visible, once again we should question, who and what is “Mystery Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Of The Abominations Of The Earth”? (Revelation 17) And I don’t know myself, fully, but it does seem to start with the apostate church? See, Revelation chapters 2 & 3: The Seven Churches first seen in seven specific cities throughout the Roman province of Asia. These cites were important trade and communication centres, which were connected by major roads in New Testament times. Notice that John addressed the churches in exactly the order shown, from Ephesus north to Pergamos, then south all the way to Laodicea. Perhaps with this Revelation was a circular letter that would have been read first by the Ephesian church, then passed on to the next church on the route? And now of course almost 2,000 years down to us, at the End of the Age?

    *Yes, I am one of those that sees the Book of Revelation as foremost futuristic, with too some form of history and certainly theology! – Rev. 1: 1-3 ; verses 4-16, and especially verses 17-18-19 & 20! This is actually right in our wheelhouse now in the West!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Not very knowledgeable about Revelation, and so unable to argue or really agree with you. You make a point though, I think, that it may well have been a circular letter. If I recall, he was quickly approaching the end of his life, well, here anyway.

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      • Indeed the Book of Revelation has been used in almost every kind of way, but the “Biblical” way is of course best! And the Seven Letters to the Churches/Assemblies of Rev. 2 and 3 are surely central and prophetic in themselves! And it surely does appear (to my wee mind anyway) that we are seeing the Church at Laodicea, with perhaps signs too of Thyatira, Sardis and Philadelphia, as we close this age?

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Could be.

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        • Note, the Church at Thyatira is The Corrupt Church, (Rev. 2: 20), and Laodicea is also self-deceived in her lukewarm condition, as Christ stands “outside” the door and knocks, (3: 20).

          Liked by 1 person

        • And surely the historical Christian West comes to my mind anyway!

          Liked by 1 person

        • But there is also great application to our Eastern Christian brethren and friends also, who are and have seen great trial and even death! (The Church at Smyrna, Rev. 2: 8-11!)

          Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    When all is said and done after learned ancient laws are adhered to in some modern war we bear, may our trounced enemies react as Ethan Allen said an Englishman would upon seeing George Washington. From Wiki quotes about George Washington…”There is nothing that will make an Englishman shit so quick as the sight of General Washington. Retort attributed to Ethan Allen, commenting after a picture of Washington was hung in a British outhouse.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Do believe I might have heard that one.

      At the end of the Revolution George III asked John Adams (who was the Minister to England at the time) what Washington would do. Adams replied, “He will retire to his farm”. The king then answered, “Then he will be the greatest man in the world”.

      Liked by 1 person

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