How will the Long War affect America? Will it make us stronger or weaker? Crazy? Unleash our dark side?
This is the first in a series discussing (speculating) how our Long War will affect America. On 9-11-2009 we will have been at war for 8 years. With increasing intensity: spending more money, more men and women fighting, expanding the size of our armies, expanding the area of combat. How has that affected us?
It seems an important question, although it’s received almost no attention. I have only a vague idea where to go with this. Please post any relevant references or thoughts in the comments!
- Warnings from Sun Tzu
- Warning from Alexis De Tocqueville
(1) Warnings from Sun Tzu
The Art of War has a few useful insights about waging war. First, a warning.
“There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”
Second, here are two lines that mirror our situation.
“Poverty of the State treasury causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance.”
Much as our wars are financed by loans from China and OPEC.
“Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.”
Yep. The pro-war folks almost never compare these wars’ benefits to their costs. Reading their reports suggests that they believe money grows on trees.
But Sun Tzu lived in a monarchy. Its dynamics were unlike those of a Republic. What is the effect on our culture of a long war? Will it make us stronger — or weaker? Increase our social cohesion, or fracture it? Strengthen our will, or unleash passions from our dark side?
(2) A warning from Alexis De Tocqueville
Update — from comment #7by Grimgrin.
An excerpt from Democracy in America, Chapter 22 — Why Democratic Nations Naturally Desire Peace, and Democratic Armies War:
No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. Not indeed that after every victory it is to be apprehended that the victorious generals will possess themselves by force of the supreme power, after the manner of Sulla and Caesar; the danger is of another kind.
War does not always give over democratic communities to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the science
For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp relevance are: