War is said to be the continuation of diplomacy by other means. Those means are primarily the destruction of life and property until one side loses its will to continue. War is hell for its participants but it has been necessary for human political relationships since the species began to organize. It serves to fill the position of humanity’s so far missing top predator.
America’s Civil War was the planet’s model conflict for the early industrial revolution, widely studied everywhere. The first industrial war, so to speak. It has enlightened generals and set standards ever since.
WWI was a continuation of industrial war; the Battle of Verdun extinguished some 700,00 in casualties. WWII added wheels and mass bombing to end with an estimated 80 million dead..
Parenthetically, Nazi extinction of an estimated 6 million Jews was considered atrocious (and it was) while nightly carpet bombing of cities was just routine on both sides. There has been one salient condition of all this: After the Civil War, all the major conflicts were outside the United States. While others starved and died, Americans only read about it, unless they were sent overseas in the military. That has apparently contributed to a change in American mindset about war. It’s now something that only happens to others.
In the Middle East today, it’s notable that U.S. airstrikes on ISIS have been much less effective than the recent Russian ones. That is a direct result of restrictions put on America’s military from Washington; restrictions intended to limit civilian casualties. Such casualties have been expertly exploited by the terrorists via the internet and propaganda to create civilian pressure at home upon the politicians.
The Russians in Syria, unconcerned over such things, bomb the hell out of the enemy and do much more damage. The news media pays much less attention to civilian deaths caused by Russians.
Comparing the way America fought the last battle of WWII and then ended that war with nukes to the present handcuffing of military action imposed by the newly visible battlefield raises the question: Is the United States prepared to defend itself? It is no longer out of reach to others and its people have no concept of real war. Never mind that there is no money to pay for war.
Today’s Americans seem to think, and the politicians to impose, the idea that war is only something done to other people elsewhere while protecting civilians. That illusion is regularly amplified by the mass media as the hordes of refugees are pitied while what is driving them is downplayed, the piles of dead are unmentioned and the real cause ignored.
A hundred fifty years ago,, Americans understood war. And for most of the following one hundred years. Now though, it must be wondered whether Americans realize what they are playing at and the risks they thereby create. It seems doubtful.