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    Friday, January 14, 2005

    A Way to Wage War.

    Earlier I had a post about Weigley's theory on the American Way to Wage War. Interestingly, he and other American Military Historians confine the definition to the USA. It seems that the definition is applied today, and the debate begins as to whether it evolved into this theory or just became. Weigley argues that it developed gradually. Grant's success at forcing unconditional surrender caused Americans to fight for that goal ever afterwards (annihilation). The moral black and whites (versus grays) in the three major battles that defined the US--Revolutionary War, Civil War, WW2--allowed citizens to think of American democracy as the moral high ground.

    My point was that the commonalities are just that--too common to make it the American way to wage war. However, in support of Weigley, the Romans fought for conquest and expansion. They didn't care if the indigenous people became slaves or were extinct. Their moral high ground differed from American morality because man did not have inalienable rights, and therefore they didn't fight to protect them. Also, citizenship was guaranteed to non-Romans only after cooperation with mercenary units made that a necessary payment. Before that, it was very rare indeed.

    One last point, in relation, John Shy argues in "The American Military Experience:History and Learning," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 1. no. 2 (Winter 1971):205, 210-218 that the colonist mindset (which Weigley uses to base his argument) actually started in the 1600s. A series of wars with the Indians, then the French-Indian war, and finally the Revolutionary war caused a general feeling of survival only by exterminating the opposition (otherwise they would exterminate you).

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