The other day I came across this sentence in The Enchantress of Florence, and it pretty much sums up the U.S.’s entire predicament in the world:
Then a strange moment came, a moment of the kind that determines the fate of nations, because when a crowd loses its fear of an army, the world changes.
That’s the death of victory. No threats, posturing, no preventative or preemptive war seems to deter anyone anymore. That’s what Israel proved in Lebanon, what the U.S. is proving in Iraq, and the end result has been the great death of military victory.
Yes, guerrilla warfare was what Alexander Hamilton preached in 1776 and the Minutemen practiced to defeat the British or how the Spanish defended themselves against the French in 1808. Military might, whether in Somalia or Vietnam, has always had trouble when fighting someone else’s map.
Nonetheless, this feels even greater today. With the globalization of information, we are even more aware of the fact: the crowd’s lack of fear in the face of an infinitely superior army foretells not the end of war, but the end of victory.