In the Winning there is no Victory
Wiser heads than ours have debated this question. What is “winning? When do we “win? What does “victory” look like? Do there have to be heads on pikes?
Sports gives us some examples. Baseball is a series of battles. Each with a provisional winner. A pitcher challenging a batter. Winning the inning. Finishing the game ahead by one or more runs. Winning a series, the season, a dynasty. And always a tomorrow.
And then, best left to philosophers, there are moral battles. Ethical standards “marching as to war.”
I shouldn’t leave out personal and group illusions. “I am number one.” USA USA! We are the children of destiny.
It makes one ask: is there really such a thing as “winning?” In our minds, yes, as we bask in the spotlights and take the trophy from the presenters. But what of wars?
Wars can be subject to autopsies. Perhaps the analyst’s knife will provide an answer. Such we expect from historians. But to answer this question in the midst of war is more difficult. And if we are winning, shouldn’t we leave the table. “Know when to walk away.”
Which brings us to today. Is a compromise settlement, the withdrawal of forces and the rebuilding of Ukraine a “victory?” Does a return to essentially the reality prior to the invasion, defacto Russian control over Crimea and special status for eastern parts of Ukraine mean a “loss” for Russia, less gain than cost, a cost that continues to effect economic loss and political isolation? Has the “alliance” managed to demonstrate to the world that no sovereign state will gain by attacking another? And has Ukraine itself paid enough in death and suffering?
Of course, it wouldn’t be “over.” Yet, only stories have endings, because authors decide to end them. But in present time, it means that the killing stops, the rebuilding begins and the children are allowed to hope.
I confess I don’t know how to describe or understand “total victory.” As far as I can see the “alliance” has already won, at great cost to the people of Ukraine, and some inconvenience to the people and markets of those nations that have enforced sanctions. Will not the “cost” of any further “gain” look more like defeat than victory?
Peace may be a pause between wars, but it is PEACE.
“Let us let us strive on … to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. - Lincoln
Thanks for reading John Bing’s Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.