War is politics by other means.
Violence should be the last resort, and used only when all other means are exhausted. That statement alone is worth a few years of study.
‘War’ implies organized violence: men and arms implemented in certain order, using certain strategies in a coordinated manner. Our generation knew them as squads, platoons, regiments, divisions, army. There have been historical rules of engagement – not necessarily formal, but certainly recognized and taught in military schools.
All of this is blurred today. We still use people and arms, but the organization is different. We certainly are not as formal.
The politics prior to war – the conversations, the forums, the government actions, the collaboration mechanisms between nations – are also comprised of irrational dances involving myriad nation-states and cultures. That's nothing new, it can just happen faster today.
Compare the lead-in to Vietnam 40 years ago, to Afghanistan four years ago, and to Iraq two years ago. Different music, different collaborations, different dances, and different ‘war.’
We’ll spend some time evaluating. Send me your own recollections of the music before each of these engagements.
[And to my history professor at Lycoming, Dr. Larson: you can weigh in if you're listening! The title of this post was the very first test I took in college: a one-hour essay on that statement. Only, on that day, he wrote it backwards on the blackboard: Politics is war by other means.]