According to usually reliable sources, the war has moved from Phase One to Phase Two.
Those rooting for the good guys must hope Phase Two will be more successful. I think there is evidence the war is losing the momentum of patriotic fervor and, as well, is beginning to be questioned by thoughtful people both in the United States and abroad.
In an attempt to bolster morale and stop the bleeding of faint hearts, the military has stepped up the bombing, continued its promise of a long war and renewed its commitment to make more war on more nations suspected of harboring, sponsoring or training terrorists.
This is not an inspiring future for the vast majority of this world who would truly prefer to live in peace.
As emotions subside and the war takes on the appearance of stalemate and futility, more will begin to wonder, as they are now beginning to do, whether the objectives of this war, as defined in their entirety by the American administration, are either possible of achievement or cost-efficient, in human terms, even if they prove to be.
True enough, this is still a young war and it is a characteristic in our tradition that we begin our wars badly, accompanied by much public frustration and disappointment with the course of the war. It was fashionable to say of the British at war that they always lost every battle except the last one, a fallacy often quoted during World War II until the battle of El Alamein, a battle won by the Eighth Army, that marked the turning of the tide, as Churchill said. But it is hard to imagine where the tide may turn in this one.
We not only begin our wars badly but we are invariably unprepared for them, either emotionally or psychologically.
The Americans were, of course, overwhelmed by grief and rage by the attack on them and Canadians also grieved. But I think Canada's commitment to war was less passionate, more restrained and reluctant. We do not, in any war scenario, have much to fight a war with since the politicians who have got into this one had spent two decades, at least, impoverishing the military and belittling its role. Now, the military has been handed a token role, the worst part of which may be a tragic sacrificial one.
In 1999, it took the NATO alliance 78 days of bombing to drive the Serbians' armor out of Kosovo. The designated villain in that conflict is now on trial as a war criminal.
Those with memory will recall the pessimism and second-guessing of the Republican Congress that was passionately concerned about the lack of an "exit strategy."
To the degree this is important to the proper conduct of war, how is it that the present administration in Washington has no exit strategy, or is it, perhaps, too unsatisfactory or conjectural for general distribution?
This would instruct us to remain patient or, at least, accepting. On the Kosovo model, there are some 50 more days of bombing to go before one might expect the enemy Ñ or that part of the enemy currently in the field Ñ to give up the fight.
But in 50 days, the battlefield will be buried in snow along with much of the enemy.
Meanwhile, we shall all be profoundly distracted by the plight of the refugees, deprived of food, shelter or medical care Ñ a looming human disaster and a creation of this war.
Some time last week, there were reports from the war rooms of Washington of dissatisfaction with the communications strategy. To say the least, it wasn't working.
The numbers of those both at home and abroad in favor of the war are falling and the voices of opposition are rising. In this climate of fret and rising distemper, the confidence that all will come well with this war in the end seems less assuring to many who can see a victory of sorts, but a world the worse for it.
It is worth keeping in mind that not every member of the anti-terrorist alliance wants America to win the war and would be happy to settle for less.
What we seem to have got ourselves into is a war our side cannot lose, in any traditional sense, but cannot win either. Then, it also seems likely that the losses will prove more enduring and provocative in future than will be our satisfactions in victory. These are the sort of reflections that have eliminated much of the bellicosity amongst the editorial warriors and that may yet inspire more truth and vision in our leadership.
Dalton Camp is a political commentator. His column appears on Wednesday and Sunday in The Star.
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