When is it Over?

Heads up – my views are perhaps a little more extreme than most and they don’t scale too well with some morality definitions.

For a change of pace, let’s not talk about United States politics. Mostly because Sanders is likely toast. Though it’d be hilarious if Clinton got indicted and Sanders would’ve won all along. Anyway, let’s talk about the ways competitions end.

Team sports like basketball have a time limit. When the time expires, the team with more points wins. Easy peasy. What if the teams are tied? Well there are some special rules for that but ultimately it’s a timed game. You have one hour to get as many BUCKETS as possible.

Board games usually end when particular criterion are met. Snakes and Ladders ends when a person gets to the other side of the board. That person wins. In card games, say… Magic, you win if you reduce your opponent’s life to zero. If your opponent has no remaining cards to draw (a result of milling decks) then they also lose. There are also some variations for sports. I think there are some mercy rules in sports in which if a team wins too hard too fast the game ends before the other team can embarrass themselves in trying to overcome such a disadvantage.

There’s also the option of surrender and winning by default which is where this post is going to focus. You can lose games (like card games – fucking Hearthstone) by surrendering. And you can lose by simply not being there to compete. You can’t win if you’re not there to play the game, so you lose by default. Now let’s make the (gruesome) extension to war. Wars are not subject to absolute timescales, like basketball. There aren’t any rules (strictly speaking) in war. I mean, sure, we have Geneva Convention. We, as nations, have agreed to follow these rules. But there’s no requirement that the rules be followed. And to be honest, this is why I believe the GOP is in favor of torturing ISIS. ISIS isn’t playing by our rules. They never agreed to the rules. Why should you play by the rules if your opponent won’t? Personal integrity, I suppose. Is that personal integrity worth it? Is it worth the lives of citizens, is it worth the lives of enemies? I’ll leave that question to the reader.

So how do wars end? Surrender, I suppose. Default would be an when there is no one to oppose you but that can get dangerous really fast. But there’s an important thing to note about surrender. That is, the would be victor must accept the surrender. There’s a GREAT scene in Game of Thrones which emphasizes this point (I’d say spoiler alert, but let’s be real here, you’ve seen it). For those of you unwilling to watch the clip, it’s of Ramsay Bolton. He comes across an injured knight from ‘the other side’ on the ground. Ramsay steps forward to deal a killing blow. The knight cries out, ‘Surrender! I surrender!’ What is Ramsay’s response? He says, “I accept your surrender,” and deals a killing blow. The thing about surrender is that the victor sets the terms. This effectively caused World War II, or at least it acted as a contributing factor.

So in that sense, since the victor must accept the terms of surrender, the entity surrendering doesn’t really have much of a say in the matter. The victor decides when the war is over, not the loser. The victor decides that the fighting ends and then the victor decides what is to be done with the loser. Sun Tzu said it best in The Art of War when they said be gracious to the defeated. Because if you don’t, and you let them live, as the allies did in World War I, you get Nazi Germany.

Before I go further, I would highly recommend reading The Art of War; I’ve linked it above. It has a lot of conventional wisdom which can be applied to more aspects of life than war. I want to note that Sun Tzu advises war as a last resort, when no peaceful resolution can be met.

Okay, so it’s amazing what economic depression can do to people. It’s amazing how the people will rally around… “hope”? It’s amazing how treatment after defeat in a war can be used as a rallying cry. People want to blame someone, they want a scapegoat. It’s great, and the Dark Knight explores this theme in the boat experiment. Maybe not primarily, but I’d say it’s there! It would seem many people do not want another World War II. Some people (like Germany) would like to forget it ever happened. Don’t mention it, no swastikas allowed, history must be buried so the world can remember we brought them dirndles instead  and Oktoberfest. I don’t blame them and I feel some of the fault does lie with the allies. But see, here’s the problem: the allies forgot the only real rule in war. Win by total annihilation.

Sun Tzu makes a great point to treat the defeated fairly. Why? You do not want an embittered, defeated opponent to fester in times of peace. To gather allies, to gather power, and eventually strike again. Does such treatment truly prevent another war? Of this, I’m skeptical. People don’t easily forget the family members that they had to bury or could not bury. People don’t forget the burned buildings, the destroyed cities, the hunger, and they don’t forget the flag of the person that did it. But sure, it’s more humanitarian, probably.

I’m going to be the one to propose the alternative solution to war: total destruction of the enemy. The soldiers, the family, the children, everybody dies. No one can rise against you if there’s no one to rise. It conveniently gets rid of the future uprising issue. The alternative is a militia state but that can also cause an uprising. Just can’t win eh? In an ideal world, there are no wars, and I’m not suggesting that nations go out of their way to destroy other nations. My philosophy is that if you are attacked by an unprovoked nation, leave nothing behind. Leave no one to grieve for the fallen. Person A attacks Person B on the street? Person A should kill Person B with their first strike, or Person B will respond with lethal force. Because leaving a survivor will make you a target for future attacks. Person A? They have friends. They could come back with friends. At least in the case of dead Person A, that’s one less person to worry about if the friends decide to enact vengeance. Leaving people to grieve only fosters resentment, and future attacks.

The question one needs to ask themselves when they employ such tactics is whether or not they can live with themselves having done so. I don’t think this is an easy question. I also think that my position is radical in today’s world. If the United States decided to nuke the Middle East, retaliatory action from the United Nations (which would likely just be ‘pressure’, not force) would follow. Is this the opening Russia wants? Mutually assured destruction might suggest not. So now I wonder, is it all a farce? Is our ‘peace’ just a better alternative to the deaths of many more, possibly all people? What size of an attack on a superpower is necessary to ‘wake the beast’? Will such an attack ever happen? Have we seen the last World War? These are all thoughtful questions.

Artemis Hunt

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When is it Over?

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