“Nobody Wins a War” – General Savage

“Nobody wins a war. Some just lose more than others.” B.Gen. Frank Savage, commander of the WWII 918th Bombardment Group in the tv series “12:00 High” made this statement in the episode “P.O.W: part 2”.

Savage provides a different view of victory in war from the one that assumes the country that controls the battle field after the war is the “winner”.

We usually consider WWII to be a war we won, but what did we actually win?

We didn’t gain any large territory. Instead, we gave the Philippines its independence.

We didn’t take money or other wealth from the losers. Instead, we helped rebuild them.
We had significant losses with over 400,000 deaths and a huge debt. Our enemies suffered much heavier losses with deaths in the millions and destruction of their cities.

What is important about WWII is not what we “won” but what we didn’t lose. Thanks to the efforts of men like my dad and my uncles we didn’t lose our freedom.

The countries we defeated had to accept rule by others with the victors determining their form of government. Germans had to accept division of their country for several decades after the war.

This form of evaluation can be applied to the current conflict in Afghanistan. We’re not trying to win control of Afghanistan or to take whatever mineral wealth it might have. American firms could purchase those minerals without a war.

We’re not in Afghanistan to “win” anything. We’re there to prevent losses like those that occurred on 9/11.

Success in Afghanistan will depend not upon how much we win, but on how much we don’t lose. Afghanistan is part of the War on Terror that may last as long as the Cold War.


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