Victory is only for the moment. Almost immediately, both the victory and the victor are forgotten, and the world turns its back and goes on to other things. Not so the vanquished. Losing is forever. When the victor thinks back, he basks in the warm glow of knowing that whatever he did, good or bad, he did, after all, win. It's for the loser to chew on the bones of defeat and grind over it again and again. "What-if's," and "might-have-been's" are a sauce for his every table. If the defeat was indecisive, he may even entertain notions of resurgence, or in less drastic cases, of simply trying harder next time. If there is a next time.
Thus, it is wise for the victor to make sure that there never is a next time, to knock his enemy's heart out, so that he will never be able to look on his conquerer's face without shame and fear. That's what Sherman's march to the sea was all about. That's why we cut Germany in two, and threw half to the dogs of war. That's why we dropped not one, but a second atomic bomb on the Japanese. Always kick a man when he's down, and if he struggles to rise, with some fight still showing, kick him again.
(June 6, 1997)
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