8 Tactical and Strategic War

Chapter 8

Tactical And Strategic (Hot And Cold) Wars.


The risks of war never end so, I a real sense, the wars never end.  We learn about the violent phase in schools.  We learn the dates of the first shots and the treaties that end the violence.  But the pressures for war simmer all the time.  The people who run the countries are always pressing each other, trying to gain some advantage.  Most of the time, one side backs down before shots are fired.  But the fact that no actual violence is happening at a certain time doesn’t mean that there is no war.

Since the nuclear age began, we have learned this is true.  During several periods, tensions have increased to the point where the risks of nuclear conflict became so great that people actually instructed children in how to act if they should see the flash which was the first sign that a war had broken out, and would be followed within seconds by a blast of heat and pressure that would break all windows in their school and set everything on fire.  (I went through these drills. Duck under the desk and cover my head with my jacket to avoid being cut to pieces by the flying glass.  Then, when the debris had settled, walk calmly in a single file—holding the hand of the students in front and back of you to avoid getting lost in the smoke—to the designated fallout shelter.) 

Getting through 50 years doesn’t just mean preventing a ‘conventional’ war that might escalate to a nuclear war.  We have to understand the tensions and the reasons they exist.  This is one aspect of war reduction people have studied. We have tools that can help. These tools include disarmament treaties and testing treaties with verification, international agreements brokered by Global Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations like the International Red Cross and Geneva convention, and global ‘world courts’ that can settle disputes non-militarily. 

We have seen that these tools can’t work by themselves to end war permanently.  But if we are on a path toward societies that don’t have the stresses that push toward war, and all we need to do is give us time to get the a safe place in this voyage, these tools will be important. We need to explore what has had some effect in the past and figure out how to use knowledge of both successes and failures to move us forward.

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