When I was a young boy, I learned that today’s enemy was often tomorrow’s friend. The change of allegiances between boys on the schoolyard often came about for simple reasons. A new mutual friend, a teacher intervention, or even by discovering that they shared the same affinity for a sports team.
As I became more aware about the bigger world, the one that extended beyond the school yard, I discovered the same change in allegiances had often occurred after wars between countries were fought. In WWII our bitter enemies, Germany and Japan, later became two of our staunchest allies. This seemed puzzling. After seeing films about the blitz, the air war over London, and of course what we unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I wondered how these countries could so quickly become allies.
Over the years we have fought intense wars against England, France, Spain, and even Mexico. Conversely, we have fought on the same side as Russia, in an effort to defeat the Germans. Then, even before that conflict was decided, we secretly started to plot against them and they against us. The race between the US and Russia for German intelligence at the end of WWII was an all-out brawl that quickly led us into the cold war.
What about the flip side of that situation. Many of our current allies plot against us every day. Sometimes so overtly it’s scary. A classic example is Pakistan. They claim to honor our relationship and have no problem accepting billions our aid money, but then they were caught red-handed hiding the most wanted terrorist on earth in their bosom. Saudi Arabia makes great noises claiming to be America’s greatest partner in the Middle East, yet they continuously provide money and arms to many terrorist groups that oppose us.
So if our friends often end up as enemies, and our enemies often wind up being friends, what if anything can we deduce from this? Should the very possibility that our current enemies may someday become our ally be considered into the equation when deciding to go to war? If we do decide to stretch our Military might against another country, when should that fight be considered over?
Back in the schoolyard, fights were usually halted when one of the two combatants was too sore, or scared to continue. Often, that happened before the first punch was thrown. What was typically behind this change in heart by the young combatant to continue to fight? Often it was because the boy was convinced that the other boy was not going to stop swinging until the fight was well and truly won, and not after only the first bruise appeared. But that willingness to quit the fight by the first boy only comes about when the other boy has a history of not stopping every time the loser called UNCLE. The fight often never starts when one of the boys is known by all to fight to win.
So on the world stage, what would happen if the boy with the biggest punch(US) had a history of not stopping throwing punches until the antagonist was well and truly defeated, and the regime that took up the fight in the first place was annihilated (literally or figuratively) every time? Would our politicians be slower to start the fight if the fight was not minimalized? Would our enemies back down sooner and would future wars be prevented if the US was known to Fight Wars to Win?
What do you think?