Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The crucial Moral wars versus unimportant Morale & Military wars

We are all so used to wars fought between nations, where it is expected that every citizen in each nation at war will not work to defeat their country's war effort, that we forget about the situation in other forms of armed conflict.

For example civil wars and violent revolutions.

These are fought inside individual nations and we fully expect that these same national populations to be sharply divided among various ideological positions - indeed that is partly how we define civil wars and violent revolutions, as opposed to say widespread incidents of armed banditry.

Similarly, during elections inside individual nations, we fully expect the national populations to again to be sharply divided along various ideological lines .

And again, this is partly how we can define non-violent elections as differing from other non-violent contests like volleyball games.

It is a fact of life that if a family of only three people can hold four wildly different opinions on questions of ideology, it is hopeless to expect any nation of three or thirty or three hundred million people to ever have all its population holding the same ideological position on any question.

So when historians say (and most do say) that WWII did not become an ideological war between nations, they are both right (for it did not happen that way) and incredibly wrong (for it could not have happened that way).

Which is not to say that WWII was not our most ideological war ever - just that the ideological battle didn't take place between national governments but rather took place across all national populations and inside all individual minds and consciences.

Morale Wars

Governments at war always employ immense resources towards winning the Morale War and if that means at times appearing to be moral, all right, but if improving morale means lying or even worst crimes, they are up for that too.

It was the same for entire private institutions as it was for entire nations--- they could never expect to achieve such perfect internal harmony as to be able to speak with one united "moral" voice on any pointed ideological question.

For example, one can doubt that everybody inside the Canadian Communist Party, filled as it was with Finnish-Canadians, was really truly and privately united around the leadership's official position on the Russian-Finnish War as they appeared to be in public situations.

Moral Wars

No, WWII's crucial Moral War, as opposed to its much better known but much less important Morale War, was fought out among individuals and most importantly, inside individual consciences.

Wave of the Future, circa September 1940

Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Fall 1940 book, Wave of the Future, was correct in claiming that it was the new ideologies of the anti-democracies (various local flavours of Fascism, Nazism, Communism) that were currently the far more fashionable ones around the educated world.

Far more fashionable among the various elites than were the old ideologies and old religions that promoted small "d" democratic solutions, reached at by involving all in decisions that affected all.

What made this ideological battle "moral", by anyone's definition, was that often the anti-democrats' proposed solutions to societal or economic issues often involved ensuring that various unwanted groups of people died by deliberate neglect or by being killed outright.

I don't think many military planners would disagree with me that if a nation has already lost its internal (and external) moral and morale wars, its military war is probably also doomed.

History records even nations with large armies and high tech weaponry but with severe moral cum morale problems can lose wars (or at least, 'not win them cheaply'), if up against fired up opponents, even if they only have a small population equipped with only low tech weapons.

Axis's moral certainty high in Fall of '40, Allied was low

The crucial issue about the Germans and Japanese in the Fall of 1940 was that not only was their morale high, but so was their belief that their cause was moral.

Most of their population felt their government was in the right, was being up to date scientific and since science since equalled morality, that they both acting morally and were part of the winning wave of the future.

By contrast, many of the western elites semi-secretly agreed with many of the viewpoints of the Nazis and Fascists against trade unionists, Jews, coloreds and uppitty women.

They had to publicly mouth the Christian-originated pieties of the West, all about charity and empathy to the weak and the poor and the small, but they didn't really believe them anymore.

Much the same mood dominated the educated populations in all the Neutral nations (and remember that in the Fall of 1940 and for most of the war, most independent nations remained Neutral in whole or in part).

Dawson's quixotic pilot project

On the face of it, Dawson's claim - in the darkest month of the entire war, as the world waited for the invading of Britain - that the very best way to win the military war against the Axis was to very publicly sweat to save the lives of a mere handful of militarily useless SBE youths, the very 4Fs of the 4Fs, was totally absurd.

But he was of course right, and late in the war the Allied tacitly agreed .

They very publicly began diverting heavy bombers away from their usual rounds of dropping of 8000 pounds of high explosives and incendiary bombs to burn and kill little children, to flying half way around the world to deliver 8 grams of Dawson's primitive penicillin, to save little children.

What cause would you rather die for ?

(A) a cause that used projectiles to kill kids or (B) a cause that used penicillin to save kids.....

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