Buried Victories

A war's end has its necessary rituals. The defeated must bow their heads and acknowledge failure. The victors must have their triumph, plus the privilege of dictating the terms of peace as they see fit. If this process does not occur, then there is no closing, no climacteric. The war remains unended on the symbolic and psychological level, which means, for all practical purposes, that it hasn't ended at all.Victory goes a long way toward shaping a war. A mishandled victory often leads to a failed peace. Consider WW I: the brutal provisions of the 1919 Versailles Treaty, which humiliated Germany, made it impossible for the Germans to recover in good order and set the stage for the rise of Hitler. It also  did nothing to redeem the anguish and misery of the four years of the trenches, much less the 16 million-plus dead. Then turn to our own Civil War. During the last months, there was talk among Rebel forces of refusing to surrender, of taking to the hills to really make the...(Read Full Article)

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