100 years ago the West created and faced the First World War. Four years later it was concluded by Wilson’s 14 Points rather than through unconditional surrender, defeat, occupation and a new German government.
Basically, half measures triumphed over traditional Western warfare. (See: The Western Way of War, Hanson.)
What did half-measures in 1918 get us in a generation? World War 2 and 50,000,000 dead.
Having learned the insufficiency of half- measures, FDR and Churchill rejected them in WW2. Total war was fought to the total defeat of our enemies, followed by occupation, a new Constitution for the defeated Powers – and generations of peace, economic & political stability, and political, military and economic alliances with the conquering Powers.
The citizens of the defeated countries are freer and more prosperous than ever before in their histories.
Since 1945, however, the West has pursued only half-measures, and left only destruction in its wake.
What caused us to hate the North Koreans so much that we left them to the Kim family tyranny? We didn’t leave the Germans to Hitler, nor the Japanese to Tojo.
Why did we hate the Vietnamese so much as to leave them to the communists?
Why do we hate Iraqis so much that we are leaving them to ISIS, or the Afghans so much we are leaving them to al Qaeda? Or the Syrians so much we leave them to Assad and ISIS?
We pursue half-measures out of an ignorance of history, including our own.
Had we pursued half-measures in our own Civil War (as northern copperheads -Democrats – wanted done), slavery would have been retained; total war freed millions.
Half measures are why Israel is still taking rocket fire; and why Palestinian refugees remain in the camps they have occupied since 1948. Why Hamas exists at all.
Half measures are why IEDs are still blowing up Americans in Afghanistan. (Half measures are why gangs run loose in American cities.)
But worse, Western half measures are why the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza remain in illiterate poverty, intellectual and moral squalor, and despotism.
From Rome to 1945, with the exception of 1918, the West vanquished its foes utterly and then made of them free and prosperous allies.
Where Western powers fought and completely defeated their opponents, living standards improved, literacy gained ground, and freedom & liberty grew.
Since 1945 we have decided that short-term empathy triumphs long-term liberty and human rights., and have adopted half-measures.
It is a poor trade-off.
Defeating the enemy in Western – total – war always has better results for the defeated. And because the defeated ARE defeated, the results have been better for us, too. Will our trade with Vietnam ever approach that with Japan? Will Vietnamese (or North Korean or Iraqi or Afghan) living standards be raised through American trade?
It is unfortunate our leaders remain in their self-imposed ignorance. Bad for our warriors who die for nothing. Bad for the economic costs of not defeating our enemies: TSA, DHS, NSA, militarized police forces and the continuing erosion of our hard-won liberties.
It is tragic that American decision makers and voters put empathy for today’s enemies over the freedom and prosperity of all future generations of those we oppose today.
Today’s free and prosperous Germans and Japanese owe their freedom and prosperity to their total defeat.
Today’s geostrategic problems are the result of Western half-measures.
If the West ACTUALLY cared about the freedom, liberty, prosperity and futures of societies we oppose on the battlefield, we would follow Churchill and FDR. We would utterly defeat them.
That we choose not to do so proves only that how we feel about ourselves is more important to us than the freedom of tens of millions of our fellow man. If you can think of something – anything – more selfish please let me know.
Choosing half-measures is bad for us, but far worse for those living under despotic governments we choose not to destroy in the name of – misplaced – humanitarianism.
Peace and prosperity require destroying despots. Negotiating with them and accepting their existence delivers hundreds of millions to squalor, misery, illiteracy, starvation and death.
All to make ignorant Westerners feel good about themselves.