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« It's the Tax Cuts Stupid | WILLisms.com | Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 66 »

Fearful victory

Today marks the 61st anniversary of "V-J Day," the surrender of the Empire of Japan, that signaled the end of World War II.

"Victory." Such a simple word, yet so hard to define.

It's not an easy word to define. And I've found the best way to understand it is to grasp its antonym, "defeat."

In any conflict, if there is a victor, there must be one that is defeated.

Defeated, meaning "forced to acknowledge that one's goals are not achievable, and one is utterly at the mercy of one's enemy."

The key element in defeat is not physical, but psychological. It is the acceptance of defeat, the giving up of one's goals and aspirations, the sublimation of one's wishes to those of your conqueror.

In World War II, there were clear winners and losers. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were crushed, wiped out of existence, their leaders deposed and killed or imprisoned, nearly all traces of those governments eradicated, and the nations rebuilt in the image and to the wishes of the Allies.

Other wars weren't won so decisively.

World War I ended with an armistice, a humiliating treaty that the Central Powers signed to preserve their own existence, at great expense. The leaders who started the war were allowed to remain in power, but at the price of degrading and crippling concessions. It brought peace for almost two decades, but fed German resentment until Adolf Hitler rose to power -- his support largely fired by those feelings -- and helped bring about World War II.

In Korea, we fought the North Korea (and their sponsors, the Soviets and the Chinese) to a standstill, then signed a treaty suspending hostilities. That agreement has largely held for almost 50 years, but even to this day North Korea remains not only a regional threat, but with its nuclear ambitions more of a danger than ever before.

In Viet Nam, we again signed an agreement that ended the hostilities. That signature was barely dry before it was violated, and we were driven out -- a defeat that left long scars on our nation, and our international regard.

And in the first Gulf War, our defeat of Saddam Hussein might have been definitive, but the terms of his surrender -- and the inept and lackadaisical enforcement thereof -- led to cheating and corruption on a tremendous scale, and eventually led to the 2003 invasion that finally deposed Saddam and his thugocracy.

On the surface, it seems simple: war is bad, fighting is bad, and stopping it as quickly as possible, minimizing those killed and that damaged, is a good thing.

But like so many things, our instincts may be misleading us and the right answer could be counterintuitive. Cutting tax rates should not lead to increased tax revenues. Giving stimulants to hyperactive children should be a recipe for disaster. And ending a conflict quickly should be a good thing.

Some times, it is. But some times, it is not. It is the greater mercy to allow the fighting to conclude on its own, to allow the fighting parties to settle the matter once and for all, to bring a finality and sense of closure to the conflict.

In the Middle East, Israel has fought war after war after war for its right to existence. And each time the pattern has remained the same: when Israel's enemies are on the ropes, outside forces intervene to pressure the combatants to end the fighting.

Israel has a tenuous peace with some of her neighbors. Egypt and Jordan, having been beaten in war, have been relatively good neighbors to Israel. Syria, on the other hand, has been an unending source of trouble, both for Israel and the West in general. The major difference I can see is that Israel decisively beat both nations, while Syria has never been fully brought to account for her aggression.

There's an old saying: "he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day." It's advice often given to the one losing the struggle, to persuade them that retreat is not an unthinkable option, and losing a battle doesn't necessarily mean the war is lost. But it is also a good reminder to the other side; an opponent driven off, but not defeated, can (and very often will) return again, rested, re-armed, and ready to resume the fight -- perhaps to win this time.

The anti-war crowd is tragically short-sighted. To them, ongoing war is the greatest of evils. They cannot conceive of the notion that they are not averting tragedy, but merely postponing it -- and making the next round far bloodier than the carnage they averted today.

"Justice delayed is justice denied." And, sometimes, war averted today is war multiplied, magnified, maximized tomorrow.

Posted by Jay Tea · 15 August 2006 08:00 AM


I am in violent agreement.

Gandhi and ML King have become the models of the peace movement. Give peace a chance. But their approach only worked because they were facing a moral enemy, as opposed to a mortal enemy. Both Britain and the U.S. could be persuaded by non-violent means.

Hezbollah cannot be persuaded by peace, only destroyed by war.

Posted by: Big D at August 15, 2006 01:50 PM

Cease fires are not surrenders. And cease fires usually are temporary.

Israel does not need "cease fires". They need peace. Peace means security and cease fires do not offer security, only more anxiety of wondering when the cease fire will end and the other side will attack without warning.

At least during a war, you know you are at war. With a cease fire, you are still at war, but lulled into thinking that you are not.

Posted by: Justin B at August 15, 2006 02:34 PM

A cease fire is a distorted image of an end to war. The sad reality of this situation is, no amount of negotiation will change the minds of Muslims. Muslims will not be happy until their radical beliefs are extinct. OR, As far as I can tell unless the entire Jewish population is wiped out. Radical Muslims are not going to be satisfied even then. They have some real issues with self righteousness and hatred for anyone who is not like themselves...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at August 15, 2006 03:45 PM

I had similar thoughts today in a post I entitled:

War! Good God! What is it good for?

Absolutely something!

It's here:


Posted by: rightnumberone at August 15, 2006 04:07 PM

Defeated, meaning "forced to acknowledge that one's goals are not achievable, and one is utterly at the mercy of one's enemy." The problem is that many of the enemy are suicidal religious fanatics. They almost rejoice in a no win situation. And in defeating them, they achieve a certain martyrdom: waging continually more wars on the terorists/insurgents by trying to bomb their surrounding civilian bases, increases their popularity and numbers. Bombing them into submission hasn`t worked...What does? An incremental approach, influencing moderates, not enraging them, with preemptive wars.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore at August 15, 2006 04:54 PM

Big D- and yet, gandhi was against the formation of a jewish state in israel. But I suppose Bill kristol knows more about morality than he does.

Posted by: lester at August 15, 2006 05:15 PM

See, lots of people talk big about Martyrdom and if we are afraid of religious fanatics that will kill themselves to destroy us keeping the world unstable, we have two thoughts:

1. We created them and if we ignore them or work with people other than them, i.e. the Muslim Moderates, eventually these fanatics will go away.
2. Kill every single one of the MuthaF*ers

So let's think about it. What amount of security can you put in place that is going to prevent somebody from achieving martyrdom by killing innocent Jews or Americans by blowing themselves up? There isn't enough security. We live in open societies and it is impossible to secure ourselves completely from terror.

I like a strategy of creating magnets for martyrdom where all of the radicals can go to kill Americans and achieve their Jihad, only instead of attacking my wife and kids, they can attack our armed forces in foreign lands and we can kick their asses for them and send them to meet Allah and their virgins. We still have lost fewer troops in three years in Iraq than in 2 hours on 9-11. Our troops have killed far more jihadis than the 19 that it took to kill 3000 people in America.

So what is it that influences someone to become so religious that they want to die for Islam? Is it America being on Muslim land? The existence of Jews in Israel? Because these are pretty piss poor excuses for someone to kill themselves and civilians. Fact is that no matter what we do, those that are prone to become suicide martyrs and kill civilians are going to seek martyrdom over the temperature of their coffee not being 155 degrees and declare their jihad over that. Short of us no longer existing, they will not stop. And we are not "creating" more radicals by invading Iraq, but establishing a front line of our war against Radical Islam by spreading Western style democracy and introducing them to the ideals that we stand for.

Our soldiers signed up to take bullets to prevent their wives and mothers and children from being killed. That is what Armed Forces are for. And they believe that Iraq ultimately is making America safer and I agree. First it attracts martyrs and allows them to get their virgins and second it keeps them from coming to America or London to achieve their martyrdom.

There is again, only one solution... kill every f*ing one of them. Dead men do not have children. They do not preach radical Islam in the mosques. The die.

Posted by: Justin B at August 15, 2006 05:16 PM

It is pertinent that Big D points to Ghandi and King, both icons of the liberal, anti-war crowd. Many years ago, editor emeritus Vermont Royster pointed out that had either Ghandi or King lived in Mao's China or Stalin's Russia, he would never have been heard from and would be totally unknown today. As heroic as each was, the good conscience of the civilized society in which each preached his message of non-violence was at least as responsible for each man's success. Post-Victorian England and mid-sixties America were both moved by the message, moved to right a societal wrong.

Such is definitely not the case with the jihadis of Islamo-fascism. They are, by our Western standards, fanatical and unreasonable, unwavering in their commitment to the destruction of the "Zionist entity" and Western civilization, and enraptured with the idea of martyrdom for their cause. Meanwhile, the US, Israel, and the other Western democracies seem reluctant to fully engage our sworn enemy.

If we are unwilling to defeat them now (surely there is no question that we could...), whatever will we do when the Islamists finally have access to nuclear weaponry? If we have not the will now to face the ugliness of what must be done to survive, can we really face up to the horror that awaits us?

Posted by: Bat One at August 15, 2006 05:25 PM

Bat One...Beautifully put! Scary. BUT, beautifully put.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at August 15, 2006 06:52 PM

rightnumberone...Isn't that a song?

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at August 15, 2006 07:06 PM

Imagine Ghandi in a train car headed for Auschwitz. He could go on a hunger strike there or refuse to move. King could stage a march or a sit-in. Non-violence has its place, but let's not forget that many others had other ideas. What about the Black Panthers?

I do not believe that we should go kick everyone in the world's ass that does not agree with us. Simply that those that seek to prevent us from living in peace force us to defeat them so that all of us can live in peace.

Radical Islam disturbs our lifestyle and that sucks. But far worse is what it does to the nations where Muslim fanatics rule and control the country. Places where people are killed for using alcohol or for the other crimes against Shari'ah Law. The folks there cannot "protest" the rule of the Taliban or the Mullahs in Iraq or the PA in the Occupied Territories. They cannot question this war against the Jews or the radical beliefs of their leaders, or they will be put to death.

Our use of war and violence is because these countries seek to impose their will upon us and disturb our ability to live in peace. We did not invade Iraq or Afghanistan until after 9-11 and because we though Saddam was seeking WMD's. Regardless of the WMD question, Saddam still was funding Palestinian terror operations and paying off martyrs for killing Jews in Israel. How do we justify allowing folks that seek to destroy our way of life and Israel's way of life to continue to disrupt our free and open societies?

Posted by: Justin B at August 15, 2006 07:12 PM

Justin... Tell that to people like graeme.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at August 15, 2006 07:23 PM

Rhode Island is the only state left that celebrates V-J Day.

Posted by: Andy from Beaverton at August 16, 2006 09:26 AM

That is sad.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at August 16, 2006 10:33 AM

or if gandhi had attempted nonviolent resistence against israel. they would have given him the same treatment they gave the american citizan they bulldozed. and their supporters would have laughed about it.

Posted by: lester at August 17, 2006 02:26 PM