As mentioned last week, military leaders learn about the principles of war, the fundamental truths governing the prosecution of war. These principles include the objective, simplicity, unity of command, the offensive, maneuver, mass, economy of force, surprise, and security. The application of these principles to the planning for and direction of war is called strategy; their application on the battlefield is called tactics.
The Uncivil War of 2021 is revealing word created strategies and tactics either 1) to win votes to improve and preserve democracy; or 2) to suppress votes, deconstruct democracy, and install autocracy. Historic strategies of the white have been to employ tactics to retain privilege: enact laws to control people and claim territories, divide a country, deliberately fan the fires of racism, sow fear, and suppress voting rights of minorities through the tactic of voter suppression. Other intentional tactics are lying and spinning, working problems, blocking improvements, creating chaos, deconstructing, dismantling, bickering, sowing hate, dividing, et al.
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” (Y. Berg) And a person who controls the message of words has tremendous power over others.
In This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism, Don Lemon contends anger, solidarity, compassion, and vision make change happen; and he offers,
For a long time now, we have needed the sort of intervention that places an addict on the road to recovery. There is potential for that rock-bottom moment in the pandemic of 2020, and it might be a long time before such a moment comes around again. Will we take the first step-admit we have a problem-and begin the hard work of our national salvation, or will we return to the comfort of the status quo like a junkie to the needle? We can release the burden of racism. We are capable of dialogue that fosters intersectional alliances. We can educate future generations with self-honesty and shared humanity. We are capable of intelligent, organized activism that pushes toward a common goal. We can be simultaneously fearless about our future and truthful about our past. We can be equally conscious of our country’s failings and proud of our country’s progress. The very essence of progress is to build a bridge that takes us from here to there…We can get there-we can-if we are willing to do the work…If every one of us is willing to be ‘one of the ones,’ we have it in us to meet this moment together, feel its mighty sway, and emerge from the chaos to craft a more just and loving world. (194-195)
As 2021 unfolds, political leadership choices will be revealed. More than likely choices will be driven by words pontificating past results and popular actions. A spectrum of positive words that create the stories…freedom, prosperity, security, facts, unity, truth, order, respect, harmony, poise, receptivity, positiveness, team effort, teamwork, childcare, guardians, self-mastery, integral life practice, health, non-partisan, wellness and well-being, mindfulness, awareness, self-restraint, values, equality, fairness, globally respected, quality, guiding principles, ethics, peace, clean air, allies, non-partisan, value in diversity, safe schools, no debt, sincerity, trustworthy, believable, passionate, disciplined, generosity, wise, direct, open, nice, 100% responsibility, apology, loving-kindness, patient, tolerant, compassionate, humanness, beautiful, smiling, et al.
An array of negative words that create the stories…lies, lynching, deception, casts, spins, obstruction, abuse, conspiracy, human scum, traitors, chaos, entertainment, dynasty, autocracy, racism, above the law, divisiveness, partisan, war, bombs and bullets, street shootings, smoke and mirrors, impeachment, corruption, fear, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, cult-like, tribal, business failings, pay-offs, porn stars, partisan vulgarity, broken promises, scandals, low character, bad judgement, failed policies, cover-ups, low intellect, disruption, conflict, deconstruction, selfish, narcissist, demagogue, cruel, fraud, short-sighted, et al.
Words are powerful and the paradox of choice is clear: an America for Americans that is inspiring and visionary for generations to come—freedom, love, hope, happiness, peace-of-mind, and purpose and connections created on a foundation of compassion; or an America for Americans that is evil and dictatorial for generations to come—pay-back, fear, hate, vindictive, intimidation, economic insecurity, casts, racism, decay, and global disrespect. Christian D. Larson offers, “So long as we continue to resist or deny evil, we will think about evil, and so long as we think about evil, evil will be impressed upon the subconscious, that the subconscious will reproduce and bring forth into personal life.” James Heiser suggests, “When there is only one power which decides who is right and who is wrong, and who should be punished and who not, we have a form of…dictatorship. Preserve freedom, evolve, transcend, and include, and improve democracy for “We the people…,” a rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering—recognition of equality and commonality developed from a sense of affinity and closeness with others, simply, genuine compassion.
What principles of war are being used? All of them: the objective, simplicity, unity of command, the offensive, maneuver, mass, economy of force, surprise, and security. War is not fun! “When our own vulnerability and the suffering of the world meet, we can develop resilient compassion and can help others and the world.” (Dr. Judith Simmer-Brown and Dr. Gaylon Ferguson, “The Soft Spot,” https://naropablog.com, 4-2-21, page 2.)
 Notes for the Course in the History of the Military Art, Department of Military Art and Engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, 1957, 1-3.