24 I CHRONICLESnescape their parochial view. The current position of thenU. S. in the world is different from what it has been for mostnof American history. Only by learning from the experiencesnof other world powers through history can Americans comento terms with what is necessary and expected of them. AsnA.T. Olmstead argued in his History of the Persian Empire:nIn reading this story, we naturally identify ourselvesnwith the Greeks. . . . We quite forget that wenourselves long passed through the town-meetingnstage when we governed ourselves much like thenAthenians, and have now become a mighty worldnempire whose problems are those of thenPersians. . . . We [must] re-read the delightful talesnof Herodotus with eyes wide open to present-daynAmerican difhculties.nAccepting the possibility of defeat and even destruction is annecessary step towards concentrating the mind and gettingndown to work. Vietnam should have done this, but thenliberals continue to outmaneuver the right on the interpretationnof that war. The failure of the right to deal effectivelynwith the Vietnam challenge, both during and since the war,nis most disquieting. President Ford’s statement, made asnHanoi’s tanks rolled into Saigon, that there should be nonrecriminations or investigations as to why the U.S. lost, wasnthe worst possible reaction. It means that it will require anneven larger disaster to provoke serious thought on the naturenof war. This thought must be based on experience—that is,non military history.nBy military history is meant the general history ofnorganized international conflict, for more than purelynmilitary operations on the battlefield are included undernthis heading. Military history is concerned with hownnations prepare for war, how they wage and terminate wars,nand how preparing for and fighting wars influences society.nOn this last point, it is often said that since armies reflectnsociety, there is nothing the U.S. can do to improve on itsndefense under the circumstances of its open and materialisticndemocratic culture. This fatalistic assessment overlooksnthe many examples of history where societies, faced withnexternal dangers, did act to correct internal weaknesses.nSocieties are not static; they evolve over time, and securitynconcerns have been a major factor promoting reform andnrenewal.nDuring much of history, only a few decisive bafflesn(sometimes only one) were needed to determine victory innwar. But the hope of repeating Arbela or Hastings ornWaterloo or of “being home by Christmas” has often been andelusion. Industrialization is often said to have madendecisive warfare obsolete, replacing it with wars of attrition.nThe American Civil War and the two world wars are thenobvious examples. Yet, Hannibal tried for 19 years tonsubdue Rome only to fail in the end. And Israel in thenMiddle East and the U.S. in Grenada have shown thatndecisive campaigns are still possible. And even apparentiyndecisive battles or campaigns have only marked a part of anlarger struggle. The Punic Wars, the Thirty Years War, thencentury of colonial wars between England and France, andnthe quarter-century of Napoleonic warfare all exhibitedntheir share of lopsided battiefield victories that broughtnparticular “wars” or phases to a conclusion, but whichnnncontributed to the final victory only in a cumulativenfashion.nThus even before industrialization, a country’s “stayingnpower,” based on available resources and morale, was ancrucial strategic factor. Industry, by increasing the resourcenbase of nations, contributed to this situation but did notncreate it. As Gen. Douglas MacArthur stated in his 1935nreport as Army Chief of Staff, modern war is characterizednby “a nation at war, rather than a nation in arms.” It is innindustry that “the great proportion of the employablenpopulation will find its war duty.” Yet, in contemporarynAmerican strategic planning, little attention is paid toneconomics.nCase in point: For at least 300 years, war finance has beenna critical limiting factor. It was England’s great advantage tonbe able to draw on accumulated foreign assets, a favorablentrade balance, and the capital of its prosperous businessmennin time of crisis. But as Milton Friedman pointed out andecade ago, the U.S., with its high peacetime taxes andndeficit budgets, is already using emergency measures tonfinance its everyday activities. What is left in reserve? Andnin the decade since, the strains have grown worse as thenU.S. has become a net international debtor and seen itsnindustrial expansion halted by foreign competition.nHistory also shows what basic unit of social organizationnis best fitted for combining resources and leadership. Thatnunit is the nation-state. As long-cycle theorist GeorgenModelski has concluded:nThe nation-state proved to be the only organizationncapable of spearheading and then sustaining largenoperations at long distances and on a global scale.nPapal coordination was tried but generally foundnwanting in the organization of the Crusades;ncity-states alone, like Venice; powerful continentalnempires, such as those of the Hapsburgs, the Mingndynasty or the Mughals, did not or could not makenit. The nation-state mobilized the resources andnalso supplied the coherence, motivation, andnstrength of purpose required for extraordinarynambitious and far-flung enterprises. . . .nNation-states have proved the most effective unitsnfor fighting global war; other competingnorganizations have been selected out. The basicnunit of world order has become the one best fittednto survive a world conflict.nThose who are looking for a new basis for world order, benit the United Nations, the international solidarity of thenworking class, or some network of transnational corporations,nare searching in vain. Even such “universal” creedsnas Christianity, Islam, and Communism have failed tonprovide unity even among those who profess them. Thosenon the right who, like George Gilder in National Review,nhave denounced “nationalistic fetishes” in favor of a “globalneconomy,” are making a strategic blunder of the mostnprofound kind. The world is in the disintegration phase ofnits current cycle. Communications and transportation technologiesnmay be making global commercial (and military)noperations easier, but the factors that count—the numbernof competing sovereign political units, the level of violence.n