Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How Long the War on Terror?

It will be a very long one.

Defeating the enemy can constitute a victory, but only if military success is translated into political success. After all, wars are not fought for their own sake but to achieve a favorable peace. The reason defeating the enemy is not sufficient in itself for victory was articulated by Clausewitz: “In war, the result is never final…The defeated state often considers the outcome merely as a transitory evil, for which a remedy may still be found in political conditions at some later date.”

The successful translation of an enemy’s defeat into true victory is rare in history. World War II is one example. But even surrender does not necessarily lead to victory. Although Confederate armies surrendered at Appomattox and Durham Station, much of the social system of the militarily-defeated south was successfully reestablished in the years following the Civil War. The war is over when the loser, not the winner, says it is.

--M.T. Owens, Naval War College

HT: Betsy


Billiam said...

Very true. To the Islamist, there is only a lull in the long war started by Muhammed. WE, the west, never seem to understand that. Isn't Clausewitz a little heavy for 0700? :-)

Headless Blogger said...

Stated slightly differently, the loser of a war is the side that first says the war is over.