This war is an abject and utter failure. What everyone thought would be a quick, decisive victory has turned into an embarrassing series of reversals. The enemy, – a ragtag, badly-fed collection of hotheads and fanatics – has failed to be shocked and awed by the most magnificent military machine ever fielded. Their dogged resistance has shown us the futility of the idea that a nation of millions could ever be subjugated and administered, no matter what obscene price we are willing to pay in blood and money.
The President of the United States is a buffoon, an idiot, a man barely able to speak the English language. His vice president is a little-seen, widely despised enigma and his chief military advisor a wild-eyed warmonger. Only his Secretary of State offers any hope of redemption, for he at least is a reasonable, well-educated man, a man most thought would have made a far, far better choice for Chief Executive.
So spoke the American press. The time was the summer of 1864.
There is a passage in Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers where a student tells a professor of Military History “War never settled anything.” Heinlein’s character does an eloquent job of refuting this comment. This paragraph reminded me of that discussion.
War settled whether the Mediterranean Sea would be a Carthaginian Lake or a Roman one. War settled whether Jerusalem would be Christian or Muslim. War determined whether a surrender document would be signed aboard the Missouri in Tokyo Bay or on the Yamato just off Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. War determined whether France would be living through four years, or a millennia of darkness under Nazi supermen, and a weird, ghostly war determined whether or not there would be Englishmen and Scots and Americans living and dying in gulags in Siberia.