"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, March 23, 2024

A Weak Sister In The White House - Biden, Machiavelli, And The War To End All Wars

World War I was 'the war to end all wars' described not so much in the Machiavellian sense of geopolitical victory but as a hopeful lesson to mankind that such carnage, such inhumanity should never again occur. 


The war was fought over a hundred yards of open terrain, a bloody stalemate of gatling gun slaughter, phalanxes of soldiers mowed down like overgrown weeds, left to lie in the mud, frozen corpses, detritus to be trampled over by the next wave. 

Wars are for winning, explained Machiavelli, and undertaken only to achieve self-interested ends. There should be no adventurism, vain political ambition, or superficial, hopeful assessment of the enemy - only concerted, determined, absolute commitment to annihilation of the enemy to attain clear, well-defined goals. 

Given human nature - aggressive, territorial, ambitious, and violent - Machiavelli also knew that wars would be continual, for 'self-interest' is more often subjective and venal than rational and defensible; and only when military parity has been achieved or when victors' control over conquered territory is complete and absolute, will wars 'end'.  


Stalemate was one answer to violent territorialism. Empire was another.  Pax Romana, the only extended period of peace the world has ever known was thanks to the Roman Empire's brilliant combination of military strength, administration, infrastructure, and savvy mutually beneficial contracts with the ruled. 

After World War II with the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan, America was the only world power and sought to consolidate its position and authority; but it was not long before the Soviet Union exerted its own desire for hegemony and world presence.  The forty plus years of peace was the result of a stalemate, the nuclear standoff of the Cold War.  

Yet this particular Pax was short-lived.  Once the Soviet Union disintegrated, the world went back to war.  Conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East began again. Asymmetrical war was the new paradigm, but it was still brutal and bloody. 


The world's major powers - America, China, and Russia - are all hoping to re-establish world hegemony, to restore their former empires, and outwit and outmaneuver their adversaries.  Proxies are used from East to West in this ongoing struggle, and wars continue apace. 

However configured and however neatly conflicts may fit within the intellectual paradigms of Machiavelli and other global strategists, wars will continue one way or another.  Although the 21st century has not yet had the cataclysmic wars of all previous centuries, they are sure to come; and meanwhile minor conflicts persist. 

War is a permanent feature of human society, and always has been.  Hopes for a new, loving, compassionate, considerate, and verdant world are vain and illusory.  Not only that, but such fantastical idealism deflects countries from the real business of geopolitics - preparing for conflict, endorsing war as a way of promoting self-interest, never hesitating to engage in military battle, and insisting on winning at all costs. 

The United States lost its will for victory in Vietnam  Its concern for 'hearts and minds', avoidance of civilian casualties, and a policy of limiting American military casualties lost the war.  The Vietnamese were pure Machiavellian and had only one goal - total victory, defeat of the foreign aggressor, and complete control of a unified country.  The hearts and minds of the Viet Cong controlled villagers were assured through fear, intimidation, torture and murder.  There is no morality in a war for survival. 

Union General William Tecumseh Sherman understood this lesson well as he marched through Georgia and South Carolina in the last phases of the American Civil War.  He not only would defeat the South militarily but would lay waste to the Confederacy, spare no one from his absolute conviction that the South would never, ever rise again. 

Israel, too, has learned and applied the lesson in its recent war with Hamas.  This enemy, implacably determined to wipe the state of Israel off the map and to kill all Jews must be summarily, completely, resolutely and permanently destroyed. 

The United States under the Biden Administration has most definitely not learned this lesson.  It is prevaricating, dilating, and turning its back on the only unshakeable ally in the Middle East if not the world, Israel.  Without Israel the region would be all that ISIS has hoped - a fundamentalist Islamic caliphate with growing economic, political, and military power. 

In a misguided hearts and minds policy, the United States has once again gone wobbly, worried more about the civilian population of Gaza than Israeli victory over a genocidal, destabilizing, fanatical Islamic regime.  

'Ceasefire', Biden implores, while such a pause in fighting will only enable Hamas to regroup, rearm, and return fire. The American progressive Left has taken up the cause and rallied its supporters to condemn Israel, to lionize the 'victimized' Palestinians, and to assure continued war in the Middle East. Make peace with the mullahs, progressives suggest. Give negotiations a chance, show a kinder, gentler face. 

Of course nothing would better please America's most hostile enemy, Iran, a country which salivated over Obama's famous 'nuclear treaty' an agreement which made no mention of its proxy wars and allowed it to pursue its nuclear arms industry after a short ten year period, now over.  Iran wants to join the club of restored empires - Persia after all was the equal to Imperial Russia and China; and Turkey, mindful of its Ottoman past will find ways to regain its own geopolitical influence. 

Only the United States, it seems, is willing to sit back and let events take their course, hoping for peace and conflict resolution while its enemies prepare for war.  The ambitions of Russia, China, and Iran are obvious; and yet the United States hesitates.  Russian victory in Ukraine is a foregone conclusion and has been from the start. There is no way that the US will confront a nuclear armed Russia directly. 

Israel faces extermination without American support.  Iran simply watches, waits, and backs its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas; and China, never concerned about American saber-rattling will take over Taiwan and complete its hegemony over Tibet and the Uighurs in good time. 

Give peace a chance and give it time, say progressives; but everyone but the most deceived, garden book idealist knows that hell will freeze over first.

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