No, not the modern efficient pacifists, but the martial tribe who felt that military might was the way to run foreign policy.
A few days ago my wife and I were watching a PBS show about a bombing raid against London on December 29th 1940. It was one of the largest if not the largest. There wasn’t anything I was completely unfamiliar with. I’ve read British novels about the WWII in which the firefighters are described as modern novelists (in this real story there are 2 firefighters tackling a bad fire together, one is a novelist and one an artist). I’ve seen descriptions of ordinary nightlife going on while the bombs were dropping (in the fictional world it is at a club, here it is at the Savoy hotel). What I had never done was consider these events as if they were happening in real time to real people. In a comic novel these scenes are funny, especially to an American reader who has never seen a real war. Here most of a family is killed in shelter by a single bomb. There a troop of men keep St. Paul’s safe. In another place two foreign correspondents are trying to cross London and get back to their hotels. London should have been destroyed by the second wave, but a change in weather prevented that and allowed the firefighters to win the battle.
The US wars haven’t done anything quite as dramatic as the blitz. In 1940 the Germans were purposely trying to kill civilians. The US claims it civilian deaths are all collateral damage, but damage is only collateral if it isn’t your family and friends.
Does anyone today remember that the German strategy was ineffective? They killed upwards of 40,000 people but they didn’t destroy the country or cause the British to sue for peace.
Since the first Gulf War the US had had a policy of projecting power as part of its foreign policy. Has it been successful at all? Well, we did get Bin Laden, but did we need to run a decade long war in Afghanistan to get him and now that BL is toast, why are we still there? In Iraq we made Iraq safe for Iranians, that was hardly our goal.
We have forgotten why WWII was successful. It had a simple goal, to move the German military out of Western Europe. It was different in the East. There wasn’t clear Eastern strategy when the war started because when it started in Poland, Germany and USSR were still allies. The desire to minimize US casualties meant that the Soviets were the ones who made war on Germany in the East and that gave them a lot of power at the end of the war (it was Russian soldiers who died taking Berlin, not Americans) So, the Eastern portion of Europe was under Soviet domination. There was no way for the US and its allies to stop it. Luckily for us, it only took 45 years for the Soviet Union to collapse and for Eastern Europe to get self-government back. The Reaganites always claim that the rise in US military expenses caused the collapse of the Soviet Union, but they never discuss the steep drop in oil prices as being a large part of it.
With WWII the US went to war reluctantly. While not a purely defensive war, it was mostly a defensive one for us. Our current wars are different. We aren’t going to war reluctantly. With Iraq a case was created through fraud and lies. Afghanistan was different. It wasn’t fraud but it was foolishness. More foolish once one realizes that our ally Pakistan was hosting Bin Laden for all those years (does anyone believe the intelligence services didn’t know where Bin Laden was all that time?). What was the point of putting troops in Afghanistan, what was the goal then and what is the goal now?
We now have an open-ended war with shifting targets. Yemeni jihadis are now being targeted. Nobody would deny their hatred for the US, but in what universe are they a real threat? Would they even exist as a threat to American if we weren’t sending in drones?
How is this policy of never ending war any different from Germany in the 1940’s? We also share the same arrogant belief that we are better than our enemies. The Germans thought the English were weak and would surrender quickly, they also thought Americans wouldn’t fight.
Our enemies will fight. They have no choice since we are attacking them at home. What did we expect the results of our actions to be? There is no way to ever bring peace back without an acknowledgment of how our own policies have created a permanent war.
The only way to bring peace is to stop projecting power.