Once War is Let off its Leash, it Cannot be Controlled

In 560 B.C., King Croesus of Lydia, alarmed by the rising power of Persia, asked the Oracles at Delphi and Thebes if he should go to war. Both told him the same thing: If he went to war, he would destroy a great empire. Emboldened, he attacked. In the end, Croesus destroyed a great empire – his own. The story was made famous by Herodotus.

Croesus Oracle of Delphi

In 9 A.D., the Roman governor Varus and his superiors in Rome were confident that the new territory of Germania had been secured, and in the superiority of the legions over the “barbarian” Germanic tribes. Varus was thus easily led into a trap, and three whole legions vanished in the wild forests of the Teutoburg Wald. It was the worst military disaster in Roman history.

In 1429, the English were confident of total victory over France. Only Orleans prevented their sweep southward and the complete subjugation of the country. The French even offered to surrender the city to the Burgundians, who were English allies but still culturally French. The English refused, believing the city would fall soon. A teenage girl would then show up and change everything.

In 1861, General Winfield Scott was laughed at for proposing his “Anaconda Plan.” The “experts” in the North believed the war would be won in months. The same was true of their counterparts in the South. It took four years and hundreds of thousands dead. General Scott was right.

In August, 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm II told his troops they’d “be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees.” Instead, the “carefully planned” German offensive to the west failed and the world got four years of fire that burned the hopes of mankind. Like Croesus, Wilhelm lost his empire.

In June, 1941, Hitler thought he would overrun Russia and surge past Moscow by the winter. The German offensive achieved great success at first, but then stalled. Hitler’s arrogance, blunders, and miscalculation aided in this. The Germans would be destroyed at Stalingrad in the next year, and in three more, Hitler, would commit suicide, trapped in his bunker like a rat as the Red Army reduced his capital to rubble.

The time, the place, and the technology don’t matter. Once the beast of war is let off its leash, it can’t be easily reattached. Its direction is unpredictable and it can easily trample the ones who unleashed it in the first place.

“On each side, swords, on each side, corpses.” Hannibal reputedly said to Scipio Africanus on the eve of the Battle of Zama. That’s about all we can know for certain.

Throughout the ages, we see that war is just as much a game of luck as it is of skill. The most carefully laid plans always go awry. Somehow, the most painstaking and “precise” calculations always miss something. Fortune always has its say. This is why it’s always a dangerous gamble. If you wish to unleash the beast and play the game, and tempt fortune in such a way, you should only do so after careful examination of the following questions…

  1. Is this a necessary defense of a vital strategic interest?
  2. Have all other avenues of defending that interest been exhausted?
  3. What is the worst case scenario and are you prepared to pay that price?

These are questions that our “leadership” class never asks. In this respect, they aren’t any different from many of their predecessors. They are consumed by arrogance and believe that American military might is limitless, despite being proven wrong on every occasion over the last 20 years.

For example, consider the hubris involved in the notion that the recent attack on that Iranian “general” was “just a surgical strike.” They say it as if it will stay that way! They say it as if there were no risk for escalation or some unforeseen consequence that draws American forces in deeper.

They say they might not want an invasion, but their wants are irrelevant. America may eventually be compelled into it. The risk is high, especially given that the foreign policy “experts” in Washington have salivated over regime change in Iran for decades. It’s always been their ultimate goal in the region. It makes them as hard as a teenage boy seeing a pussy for the first time. Trump is surrounded by them – and it’s his own fault, too.

Again, once you unleash the beast, you don’t know where it will go. One thing you can be sure of, though, is that it always wants to feed. It always wants to get bigger.

I don’t have all of the information the president does, but there’s no reason to trust the people pushing for this, and when it comes to the first question, the answer is obviously no.

Iran is not a threat to America’s core interests. It is a threat to actors in the Middle East, but it is not a threat to become a peer competitor or even a regional hegemon. Furthermore, the region has never been less relevant than it is now. Trump has fulfilled a major campaign promise and the United States is now energy independent.

Indeed, it’s China that depends on the region more, and it’s China that’s the real threat. Trump understands this like none of his recent predecessors have. No one would like to see another American quagmire in the Middle East more than China, especially when it’s losing the “trade war.” China would benefit, America wouldn’t.

Domestically, the only ones that can benefit from this are the woke mob. Despite all the screeching hysteria that led to an “impeachment,” Trump’s chances of re-election are high. His opposition is awful and no incumbent president in a good economy has lost a re-election bid since at least World War II. Just by normal politics, incumbent presidents tend to get re-elected unless circumstances are dire.

But if this strike escalates into another Middle Eastern war without end (or even serious hostilities which fall short of a land invasion), Trump will not be re-elected. Count on it. Aside from a major campaign promise broken, it would be an uncharacteristic failure to know the electoral market. America is rightfully war weary, something the president seized on in 2016. Further hostilities would also increase support for “impeachment,” giving the Democrats a gift they failed to attain on their own. It would start to look more like a real scandal than a fake one, as war weariness grows even worse. It would be a toxic cocktail.

The risks of all of that are much higher now. The guy killed was a bad guy, but this simplistic worldview is one of the reasons why our foreign policy “experts” are so incompetent. Morality is a matter of personal virtue and character. It cannot be the decisive element of international relations. Power politics don’t work like that. I’m not mourning his death, but I am elevating my perspective.

Was the risk worth it – over Iran?

I think not.

But people still play the game when they shouldn’t and no one ever learns. To find out how deep this goes in history, bookmark my upcoming Patreon page. Once it’s up, I’m going to be releasing my initial drafts of a book that ranks the 100 most important battles of the world. It’s going to be a great resource for military history and the often foolish decisions that shape it. It will be especially useful for research purposes, particularly if you’re a student.

German soldiers battle of the Marne
The halt of the German offensive at the Marne in 1914 will be one of the 15 battles covered on initial release.

At the very least, when you sign up and read it, none of these things will take you by surprise, and you’ll be wiser than our “elite.”

This is also a major theme in The Red War, to be released later this year. See my plans for 2020.

Until then, read Stumped to see how badly this could potentially harm Trump if you’re interested in election implications.

And contact me if you want me to write a post like this for you (see the “hire me” page for more information).