Amidst my annoyance about Sen. Dean and his comments about whether or not Iraq could be won, my interest became piqued by a comment left by a reader that stated "It (iraq) can't be won....not in the traditional sense anyways."
Hmm, is Iraq a traditional war? Or is this War on Terror traditional? Furthermore, what would classify a conflict as traditional? To even scratch the surface of the first two questions, we must delve into the third question and try to answer what a traditional war is.
Looking back through world history, not just U.S. history, war has evolved and its face has changed many times, right along with the evolution of man. The Romans, who fought with swords and archery traveled the globe conquering their foes and adding to their vast empire. Their reasons were simple, money and extended trade routes. In that era of human existence these conflicts were traditional in a sense. From Rome to China and throughout Africa. War was all about money and trade routes. Empires would rise and fall in the quickness of man's last breath.
Then along came the musket, the birth of firearms. No longer did it matter how heavy or sharp a sword was, how far the arrow sliced through the air, the musket would beat that. A new face for war evolved with the technology of mankind. But the traditions of searching for more gold and trade routes were still the main reason for conflict. Their were also many empires that stretched all around the globe. It seemed even at this point in time the same economic reasons for conflict were used. For example, England's empire stretched across many different islands (trade routes), countries in Africa (gold/diamonds) and even as far as India (trade routes). But something started to change, a new face was being born...Ideology. In the latter years of the original 13 colonies, an idea of being independent of a theocratic or monarchist system began to arise. And in that, ideology bore a new face of war. The American Revolution happened and during the conflict we were fighting not for gold or trade routes but rather something stronger.....a conviction. And with that conviction we created newer tactics to beat our enemy and achieve success. Sure, we still lined up on opposite sides of the field and fired volley after volley at each other, but we also used primitive guerrila warfare tactics. Ambushes, espionage, the whole nine yards. We began to rewrite the book on war. The colonists used any means necessary to achieve victory. Of course in the end the colonists won their independence but that started a change to what traditional war was.
As the time moved closer to the 20th Centure, the traditional war, that reigned for centuries was fading fast. Colonies all over the world began to fight for liberation. Empires began to crumble, the last being the Ottoman Empire. No longer were trade routes and precious metals the sole purposes for conflict. Man began starting conflicts because of an idea. War would begin to phase into this sort of conflicts in the 20th Century. Here are some examples of wars based on ideologies: World War II and Nazism, Cold War and the fight against Communism although a war was never actually fought against the Russians it spawned both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Israel and Palenstine's troubles are all based on the idea of who owns the land. The Balkan War in the early 90's was also based on the idea that Muslims did not deserve to live in Bosnia and the worst war crimes to occur since the Holocaust took place. But once the smoke settled on all but the Israeli-Palenstine conflict, a true victor emerged.
We now come to the 21st Century and western civilization is getting a real taste for what ideology can spawn. Iraq and Afghanistan shed a whole new light on this new evil face of war. The western world has toppled 2 totalatarian governments and freed their people from injustice and given them a voice. A voice that can shape their future and futures of generations to come. Unfortunately, not all want these freedoms, they want to control their people and will not just stop terrorizing and comply because a new democratic type government is in place.
Ultimately, the War on Terrorism is by no means a traditional war and I am afraid that what the world is facing now will be the "new tradition". True victory will no longer be measured as it was 100 years ago. True victory will be when these sibling governments can stand on their own two feet and deal with their problems internally like many nations before have. But beware, the War on Terror will not end with Iraq and Afghanistan. It will end when the the world as a united force
, stand up to terrorist organizations and governments and rid them from the world. That my friend, will be true victory.........
Remember to have a moment of silence for all the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have paid the ultimate price for freedom........