Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Saturday, November 01, 2003
Balance and Dignity

For a long while now, the specter of total war as seen in WWI and WWII has defined the intellectual and emotional understanding of warfare in western culture. The total war horror of WWI and atrocity of WWII were certainly more documented and made a more graphic impression on our culture than any prior war did. Coming of age and living as an intellectual has for quite some time meant embracing the belief that acceptance of war meant inviting a repetition of those past horrors and atrocities.

What Roger, Michael, and many others have been forced to confront since the end of the Cold War is the difference between total war and limited war. We are now engaged in a very broad limited war, but not a total war, despite the efforts of various Islamists to make it so.

Roger and Michael are certainly not advocating or in any way calling for a return to the imprecise and contagious total war with its attendant demonization and hypocrisy. They are well aware of the dangers involved with such a course and are now finding their way through what for them is unfamiliar ground, the advocacy of limited violence to accomplish a specified goal. The difficulty of their task is also compounded by the complexity of what they are attempting to accomplish. Any idiot can ask with fervor for unrestrained violence, and many do. It is much harder to strongly support a limited goal that combines humanity, ruthlessness, and diplomacy all at once.

Roger and Michael are doing pretty well, considering the degree of difficulty and the paucity of supporting material from their prior reading. I think they would do well to read a biography of Chesty Puller, a great human who understood these things.
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