Thursday, November 30, 2006

Higgs' Four Stages of Modern U.S. Wars

Robert Higgs published an outstanding essay on war recently called "War Weariness." He asserts that "major U.S. neo-imperialist wars" -- Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq -- move through four stages:
I, upper-echelon plotting; II, outbreak and early combat; III, sustained combat and strategic stalemate; and IV, cessation of combat and workable resolution.
Moreover, he notes that
Once the U.S. government goes to war, the public is simply stuck with it, because the public will not actually rebel against the government, and nothing short of rebellion can ensure an affirmative government response to the public’s wishes.
Does the recent turnover in Congress give us hope for a better future? Not according to Higgs:
So, in the wake of the recent elections, in which one faction of the War Party has displaced the other in control of Congress, we have scant grounds for expecting a great change of course in the conduct of the Iraq war. The Democrats have announced grand plans to fleece and bully the public in the greater service of the leading special-interest groups that helped to elect them, and the Republicans, eminently pleased to serve as the loyal not-so-opposed opposition, look forward to bipartisan cooperation in logrolling those splendid 1,500-page statutes in which every species of outrage and robbery is declared to be the law of the land. The war will certainly continue, at least for another two years and perhaps for another five or ten. And why not? Only the people at large―those beyond the precincts of the ruling figures and their major supporters―stand to lose, and who really gives a damn about them?
Higgs' most recent book is Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy.

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