I learned a lesson a long time ago that unless you were determined to win, don't pick a fight. I also learned that a lot of people are willing to start a fight based on a lot of false assumptions, but if they suspect you're meaner and nastier than you are, the chance of them picking a fight with you are next to nil. I've managed to keep out of a lot of fights by giving the impression (backed up on occasion by example, as some people ignore impressions) of being the meanest, nastiest person in the neighborhood.
The United States used to have that same reputation: don't mess with the US unless you're willing to accept a nasty defeat. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost that reputation in the last few dozen years (gradually eroded since Korea), and more and more clowns are willing to pick a fight with the US. When we do get into those fights, we try to "fight nice" - hard enough to win, barely. We're paying the price for that attitude today in Afghanistan, where more and more of our soldiers are being shot in the back by our supposed "allies".
There is no substitute for winning. We knew that in World War II. We forgot it in Korea. We won the war in Vietnam, but allowed a cowardly Congress to lose the peace for us. We did just enough to get Iraq out of Kuwait, but not enough to eliminate the cause of the problem. Our civilian leadership wasn't willing to retaliate in Somalia, and that hellhole continues to cause the entire world problems. We've won the war in Iraq, but managed to lose the peace through "progressive" leadership.
Afghanistan is a disaster, robbing us of blood and treasure every day. Our feckless "leaders" are afraid to stand up to insanity and demand it stop, so it will continue. So will the continued erosion of our reputation for strength in the world. As a result, the likelihood of a much greater, much more costly war becomes more likely, and soon.
For 50 years, the world feared the might of the United States would be used against them if they attacked us. That fear has all but vanished. We had 50 years of more peace than war. We've been fighting a war against a heartless, ruthless enemy for the last ten years. That enemy, and many others of our enemies, are emboldened by our constant show of weakness. As a result, we will have more wars, more frequently, and more deadly, until we once again learn that it's much better to be feared than to be viewed with contempt.
Labels: fear, might, peace, war