Update: Veryretired notes today’s “Reflections on Blowback” by Lee Harris (at TCS Daily). Harris’s argument is clear and, characteristically, based on human nature.
A&L links to an essay by Robert Kaplan, in The American Interest, which discusses the role of faith and patriotism in defining why and how a nation fights; here, he uses the wise “congruent reality” of Conrad to demonstrate his points. He also describes what he sees as a widening gulf between those who fight and those at home, distinctions often rooted in the geographic and familial. But, then, he reminds us that was also true of the armed forces in 1939. He concludes with his conversation with a combat pilot,
“Decadence” is the essential condition of “a society which believes it has evolved to the point where it will never have to go to war.” By eliminating war as a possibility, “it has nothing left to fight and sacrifice for, and thus no longer wants to make a difference.”
Then, Kaplan generalizes:
It is in precisely such a situation that historical memory becomes lost, and forgetfulness obscures the obvious. When pleasure and convenience become values in and of themselves, false ends displace necessary means. It is as Sun-Tzu and Clausewitz said: While a good society should certainly never want to go to war, it must always be prepared to do so. But a society will not fight for what it believes, if all it believes is that it should never have to fight.