Monday, January 09, 2006

Essay on Winning

Major Mike

Something happened in the late sixties and early seventies.

It is hard to put an exact date to it, but it happened, and it has shaped our culture ever since.

During this time, the soccer moms, and T-Ball dads, and track meet hosts for juveniles, began to diminish the importance of winning. For certain, this was driven by the parents of millions of long-faced thirteen year olds, who couldn’t bear to witness the celebrations of the teams who had just vanquished their sons or daughters in the sport of the season, or couldn’t bear to see that there was no ribbon for last place finishers.

The diminishing of victory snuck upon us via booster clubs and misguided moms, who began awarding trophies to every child on every team, so that “everyone was a winner” and “there are no losers.” Youth track meets, dance competitions, swim meets, and county fairs issue myriad of ribbon colors that would make a jumbo Crayola box green with envy.

Somewhere the importance of winning was supplanted by the quality of the effort, the sportsmanship exhibited by team members, or by merely showing up.

This has ingrained an apathy toward winning that now allows us to indulge losing as a acceptable alternative to victory. This may work for the mini-van crowd and yesterday’s elite soccer team finals, but it is unacceptable when it comes to matters of national importance.

The timing of this revolution against “winning” and “winners” occurred, coincidentally, about the time this nation decided to accept its first defeat in war. This was a conscious decision. We lost our stomach for the war, and subsequently turned our backs on millions of Vietnamese, many of whom were killed, many who were tortured, and many who were detained for years.

Make no mistake…this was a choice. Our forces never suffered a significant tactical defeat in the war, but we were shown the path to defeat via slanted media presentations, gutless politiking, and the lack of will at home. We saddled a generation of soldiers with orange, green, and yellow ribbons, and created a near disdain for winning in any endeavor. Our sympathies are to be with the participants of both sides, regardless of performance, regardless of their cause.

Again, this may work for the Saturday soccer crowd, but it doesn’t work in war.

Victor Davis Hansen has an excellent piece entitled “Reflection on 1862: War critics offer nothing new in 2006.” In it, he chronicles some of Lincoln's problems in dealing with the Civil War.
Specifically, VDH points out how Lincoln does not back away from knowing that complete victory MUST be the outcome to hold our nation together. Lincoln is poignant, but razor sharp on this….when victory is called for, victory it must be. (VDH on Lincoln)

"“The true remedy,” he wrote, “does not lie in rounding the rough angles of the war, but in removing the necessity of war.” That some suffer, perhaps even unjustly, during the conduct of a war is no argument for not fighting: “Would you drop the war where it is?” he asked rhetorically. “Or would you prosecute it in future with elder-stalk squirts charged with rose-water? Would you deal lighter blows rather than heavier ones? Would you give up the contest, leaving any available means unapplied?” He concluded in terms that would horrify our modern tender sensibilities: “ I shall do no more than I can, and I shall do all I can.”"

We need to understand that we are in a struggle for our values, for our culture, and for many…for our very lives. This is no time for half measures, and the expectation that the Islamafascists will give us our green ribbon for our effort and let us be on our way, is a false hope that will lead to the tragic ruin of our country. They intend to defeat us, so we, in turn, must be prepared to defeat them…whatever it takes.

It is time to vanquish our opponent, win the trophy, and celebrate appropriately, for we are securing our future, not protecting the feelings of thirteen year old boys.

VDH agrees, as he finishes with,

“This is the difference between 1862 and 2006 that offers little comfort, for we are facing a jihadist enemy fanatical in his devotion to his cause and counting precisely on our failure of nerve to compensate for his military weakness. He knows very well that our therapeutic sensibilities hinder us from doing all we can to win, and from reckoning with the “terrible arithmetic” the cost of achieving our aims. Fortunately, our military is made up of a very different breed, and their skill and devotion still give us a good chance for victory. Time will tell whether or not they are enough.”

The military IS good enough...are our citizens?

© Michael McBride 2006

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