The Moral Dimension of Strategy
ARMY CHAPLAINS CENTER AND SCHOOL FORT MONMOUTH NJ
Pagination or Media Count:
The interaction of war and national values is a phenomenon to which military strategists of the western democracies must pay closer attention. Most of the public debate over national defense policy centers on weapons systems and budgets, and invites the unanswerable question, How much is enough Yet the power of value concerns is such that they can be, when mobilized either in support of or in opposition to military power, the decisive dimension of strategy. Our Vietnam experience, regardless of ones feelings or value judgments on its outcome, illustrates the way a populations value perceptions become a powerful influence on who wins and who loses. So far, Communist strategists appear to have learned better than we that the moral dimension of strategy is changing the nature of international conflict. That both the wars in Korea and Vietnam have been ambiguous in terms of American public acceptance of their political purposes is a somewhat mild description in view of the political turmoil they occasioned. One possible reason is the plain fact that neither conflict clearly represented a struggle for values that Americans hold deeply as their own cultural heritage. Granted that Asian cultural values are quite different from our own, both wars were defended by the American Government in power as struggles by an attacked country for the right of self-determination. Over the course of the fighting, however, public opinion shifted as the reporting of events made it clear that the dominant characteristics of the governments we were supporting were, if not repugnant, at least unattractive by American standards.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics