A review of the new book, Between War and Peace, a collection of essays edited by Matthew Moten, resonated with a great book I am now completing–The Shield of Achilles, by Philip Bobbitt. This is a sweeping, 800+ page history of war and peace over five centuries, highlighting the impact of war, its preparation, and its aftermath on the structure and strategy of the state. Both the review and Bobbitt’s book emphasize the fact that, in essence, there is no substitute for victory. Bobbitt says that strategic success in war certifies the constitutional form adopted by the winning state and spreads to the constitution of the society of states as a whole, thus while violence and war initiate change in the constitutional order, peace and law ratify the results. In other words, without victory there is no peace, and the world moves on to the next phase of the war. I have long maintained that real victory in this context is possible only with unconditional surrender. Think about it: Every conflict in which America has been engaged that had an unconditional victor resulted in the resolution of the underlying issues; those that didn’t left the issues unresolved, many of them to this day.
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