The rhetoric of recent years about the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War has included the call for victory. But is that victory "at all costs"?...A term used at times when fighting battles to hold a position or to take an objective "at all costs". The term means no matter how many casualties, secure the objective; even if everyone dies.
Are we to consider the costs of our wars? Is there ever a time when the costs are too high to proceed? Can the costs be too high to continue after having initiated war? Do we have to finish all wars just because we engaged?
World War I started Aug. 2 1914 and in five months more than 800,000 Germans had become casualties. French and Austro-Hungarian casualties came to 1,000,000 each. Russian casualties amounted to 2,000,000. British 125,000. That's about 5 million casualties in 5 months. No one had achieved the advantage or "the victory" so desired. And what was some men's desire was the ultimate nightmare for millions of others. What they had achieved was stalemate and they spent the next 3 years in stalemate while these casualties dramatically increased. The winter offensive in early 1915 added 800,000 Austrian casualties and achieved nothing. Thousands froze to death when after exhaustion they would fall asleep to never awake. All for the call of victory. Those were the days when General's sons and King's sons were also offered up on the alter to achieve victory.
The leaders continued to believe that "victory lay just ahead and could be achieved with just one or two more effusions of sacrificial blood" as stated by G.J. Meyer in A WORLD UNDONE. There was no victory for the ones who died or for their families.
What price victory? Do our goals make any more sense than the goals for which literally millions died in WWI 1914-1918, only 4 years?