Can we get past this idiocy?
A Great Power doesn’t go to war to change minds, garner hearts and make nice.
A Great Power goes to war to change behavior.
Why people decide to change their behavior is immaterial during and immediately post-war; That people change their minds is the issue.
War is about killing enough of the enemy to change their behavior. Whether the sought-for change is to stop genocide or cease gobbling up countries to form some kind of trading sphere, changing behavior is what war is all about.
Behavior first is sought to be changed diplomatically – and sometimes this works. When it doesn’t, pressure can be ratcheted-up through quarantines, blockades, proxy wars and finally war.
Once a Great power has gone to war, Hearts and Minds aren’t the goal – or shouldn’t be. Winning is the goal.
The last war won by any Western Power – that’d be WW2 – was won not by worrying about Hearts and Minds. It was won by killing the enemy in numbers large enough, and destroying cities, infrastructure and civilians in quantities large enough, that finally the political goal – behavioral change – was reached, mostly because no one who behaved badly was left alive.
That is not a problem – it is a solution.
Once the war was over, new governments were put in place and economies resurrected and Hearts and Minds followed along. But it took years in both Germany and Japan to overcome – often through old-age – the Hearts-and Minds of the conquered.
When we have worried about Hearts and Minds – an immature, adolescent worry akin to “does he like me?” – we have lost.
Exhibit #1 is Vietnam. Iraq is becoming Exhibit #2.
War isn’t about changing the minds of the enemy; it’s about killing the enemy until those left alive decide to change their behavior.
Political or military policy that fails to recognize this will fail.
And the brave Americans who died for that policy will be sacrificed – for nothing.