Lessons of World War I | National Review Online

We are reverting to our posture of 1938–40, when the United States talked very loudly of what it might do and what the Axis should not do, but had no intention of backing up such sanctimoniousness with force and was more likely to cut than augment its defenses.

War is the messy arbiter of peacetime false perceptions about relative power. Peace returns when all the nations involved have learned, after great agony, what they really could and could not do. Or as Thucydides sighed, war is “a harsh schoolmaster.”

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Given that reality, the U.S. should start quieting down and stepping up, rather than stepping back while sounding off — before others come to believe that their own wild fantasies are reality, and the harsh schoolmaster of war intercedes to correct everyone’s shared false perceptions.

Lessons of World War I | National Review Online