How to End a War

Victor Davis Hanson has an essay over at NRO called Only Deterrence Can Prevent War. He makes the case from history that wars happen when one side thinks that it can beat the other. He makes the further point that wars end when one side becomes convinced that it has been beaten.

Not the League of Nations or the United Nations. Unfortunately, war is a sort of cruel laboratory experiment whose bloodletting determines which party, in fact, was the stronger all along. Once that fact is again recognized, peace usually follows.

Read the whole thing.

As a Viet Nam veteran, I note that the United States could have crushed North Vietnam at will, but that we lacked the will. Strength is more than superior firepower. It has a moral component.

5 thoughts on “How to End a War


  1. I would correct you only to say that we actually did crush North Vietnam, at least twice, but did not have the will to follow through.


  2. Thank you for your service Mr. Hoge.

    Even as a teenager reading accounts of the Vietnam War, I thought that the “Don’t make ’em mad” strategy we used was completely nuts. North Vietnam was trying to conquer the South by force but we can’t bomb Hanoi or otherwise destroy the enemy ability to make war, they might get mad at us. Well, so what? What were they going to do about it, invade the South? That already happened. And now I see the same “don’t make ’em mad” attitude in response to muzzie terrorism. News flash for the ruling class, the muzzies are already mad at us. We might as well respond effectively.

    I’ve never worn a uniform but even I know that war is not a game where the other side has to be given a sporting chance to win. If war is the right way to settle a conflict then fight to completely destroy the enemy as quickly as possible, using all available options. Otherwise, war is NOT needed and the dispute should be settled by other means. To borrow a phrase, “Go big or go home.”


  3. When you decide to attack, whether “you” defines a nation or an individual human being, the point must always be to end the fight then and there and forever. You must make your enemy fear oblivion. You must knock him to the ground. When he stands, you must knock him down again. When he begs for mercy, let him crawl or kneel. Every thing he has, he has because you allowed him to have them. The things that he loves exist because you allowed them to exist. He lives because you allow him to live. He can never forget that.

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