War for Civilians: An Introduction

In America the people are sovereign (the source of political power), and therefore We the People are responsible for the wars waged by our Government.  Countless families are destroyed or saved, by our vote or even by our words, of approval or disapproval.  In order to live up to this grave responsibility, We the People must understand some fundamental principles of war so that we can hold our public servants accountable as our Founders intended.  Although these fundamental principles are simple, our servants no longer know them.  Somebody needs to take responsibility!  The following article is an attempt to inspire some interest in this vital subject.  This subject which all citizens of the world should understand… So we can solve it!

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The Forgotten Factor

About 2400 years ago in China, a legendary General won a spectacular series of victories, wrote a short book explaining the principles he used to win, and then disappeared.  One legend says he retired from war disillusioned with fighting for undeserving kings.  His name was Sun Tzu, the book is The Art of War, and today it is considered a bible of military strategy.  One can analyze any war, of any century, and explain victory or defeat in terms of the use or neglect of his basic principles.  2400 years of history confirms Sun Tzu’s declaration that if Generals use his strategy they will win, if not, they will lose.

Page one of the book states that before going to war, a General must evaluate five fundamental factors.  The first of these factors translates as the Philosophy, or Moral Influence, of the rulers.

This factor considers the overall situation as created by the rulers themselves.  It includes many interdependent things such as the virtue of the ruler, the people’s willingness to sacrifice and die for him, and the justness of the cause.  A General must evaluate both sides of the conflict and determine if going to war would be in harmony with the Tao (Natural Law, or The Right Path, or The Way of Humanity and Justice).

To demonstrate the importance of Sun Tzu’s first factor, let us examine a modern example.

In WWII the Italian military developed a strange reputation for avoiding battle, to the humiliation of Mussolini and the frustration of his ally Hitler.  What happened to the descendants of the courageous Romans?  Consider the first factor:  their “leader” was despised by the Italian people, and they had no interest in his, or Hitler’s, foreign “interests”.  Sun Tzu warned not to expect a soldier to leave his family to fight in a foreign land merely because he is ordered to, with no higher purpose.  The first factor was out of harmony, defeat was predictable, Italy should not have gone to war in that situation.

The performance of the Italian military in WWII does not reflect on the Italian warrior, he did his best by ignoring and resisting, under threat of execution, a “leader” with no Moral Influence.  The primary responsibility rests with Mussolini and the Generals who obeyed him, those Generals who forgot the first fundamental factor of war.

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