How to Win a War
AUGUST 01, 1960 by ED LIPSCOMB
Mr. Lipscomb is Director of Public Relations and Sales Promotion of the National Cotton Council of America.
If all the words which have been written and spoken about the Cold War with Russia could be placed end to end, they probably would match the length of an average satellite’s orbit.
Every newspaper you read, every newscast you hear, gives the Cold War day-to-day attention. Authors write books about it; politicians issue statements about it; and men on public platforms bring it into every presentation.
The reason is simple. Here is an international conflict which everyone agrees will determine the nature of civilization and the conditions of human life for generations to come. From the standpoint of the United States, we must either win this war or witness the death of our nation.
I wish I could tell you how we are doing with it. Intelligent appraisal, however, is extremely difficult. Consider the matter of Russia‘s actual strength. I know, of course, that the Communists have been making imposing claims, but I also know that with Communists it is a matter of fundamental principle to lie. They have emphasized in their party literature since the days of Karl Marx that "truth" is anything which promotes the cause of communism. Evasion or denial of unwanted facts and the invention of plausible replacements for them are considered to be proof of patriotism rather than of perfidy.
I know that the Soviets have launched some satellites, and that strategically their progress here has been impressive; but I also have read that their moon shot was so arranged that no reputable tracking station could confirm or deny they even tried one; and I find that a responsible professional says their moon photographs are entirely a hoax. I know that their missiles are a fearful menace, and am confident they fired a big one into the Pacific, but again their claims of power and accuracy must be accepted or rejected on communist word alone.
Surely they have large jets, since such a plane brought Khrushchev here; yet I understand that no airline in the world has ordered one for its own use, which suggests that a major aviation official was correct when he said that these planes are too inefficient and uneconomical for serious consideration.
They beat their chests and boast that they are going to overtake us in industrial production, with all the military capability this suggests; but even their own figures show that despite claims of mechanization, it still takes one farmer to feed himself and one other man, whereas an American farmer feeds himself and twenty-two.
How Strong Are We?
It is almost as difficult to feel reasonably intelligent concerning our own military strength. Judged on the basis of speeches by Senators and Congressmen trying to make political capital out of the defense issue—or statements from military officials seeking larger appropriations and greater control—one would have to conclude that we are years behind in missiles, that our strategic air force is archaic, that our warships are sitting ducks, and that in general our position is dangerous and deplorable.
Yet I have heard the Chief of Naval Operations assure a group of officers that we are capable of destroying 70 per cent of the total population of Russia within 24 hours; and I have heard another admiral say that he was criticized by a congressional committee for insisting that we already have all the submarines we could possibly use for the destruction of enemy shipping.
Adding to the difficulty of intelligent appraisal by folks like you and me is the soap opera atmosphere of over dramatization which has become standard procedure with most of our editorial fraternity. The newscaster must get controversy into his program, even to his tone of voice; and daily headlines must stir the emotions whether anything of importance has happened or not.
When I add up the speeches and statements, the reports in print and on the air, a limited amount of actual knowledge, and considerable thought and study, I still must admit my earlier statement that I simply cannot give you a very intelligent appraisal of our current status in this fateful conflict with communism that means national survival or servitude for us all.
On the Home Front
I can, however, tell you positively how we can win it—the only way we can win it—and it is not merely by appropriating more billions for defense, or even by insisting that we get as much defense as we already are paying for.
We can win it only by winning a second war—a decisive war—that is going on inside our own boundaries. It is a war between forces which would keep us powerful by maintaining the initiative, the independence, and the self-respect of our individual citizens, and forces which through exaltation of the godhood of the group would assure the economic cataclysm and accompanying ideological collapse on which our foreign enemy depends to leave us and our allies incapable of successful resistance.
Amazingly, we tend to underemphasize the relationship between the intercontinental Cold War and the conflict within our own country. We have become so conscious of comparisons in military strength and international influence that we fail to follow the signs and significance of our victories and defeats on a far more important front. We tend to become so afraid of Moscow that we are not sufficiently afraid of Washington.
This is the war which every major communist leader has predicted we would lose, and in losing it insure our national destruction. Marx, Lenin, Stalin—even Khrushchev as late as his visit last year—all have declared again and again that this would be the pattern of our disappearance as a world power.
I said I could not tell you much about how we are doing in the military race with Russia. I find no such problem in connection with the war here at home. We are losing it. Let me call your attention to just three areas of evidence.
We March Toward Insolvency
First is our over-all trend. All of us know that it is definitely and rapidly in the exact direction our communist opponents have so often insisted would bring our total defeat.
The trend, for example, is toward national insolvency. We take counterfeit comfort in the fact that we are staying within a so-called "temporary" debt limit of $295 billion—a limit that recently was raised three times in one year. There is irony, almost cynicism, however, in the fact that this is merely the acknowledged debt. Our real federal debt—in the form of fixed obligations already definitely established—amounts to $750 billion.
Even if we accept the acknowledged figure, then add the debts of state and local governments, and finally private debts, we come out with a total equivalent to approximately twice the current market value of every single tangible asset in the United States—the land, the mines, factories, machinery, office buildings, residences, livestock… everything.
You would think that such a financial situation—plus the warning inherent in the loss of half the purchasing power of our money—plus the fact that foreign countries are now holding 17 billion liquid dollars, half of them subject to demand in gold—plus the fact that the federal budget contains built-in increases exceeding $2 billion for the year ahead—would lead to some sort of serious concern for economy.
On the contrary, in the last session of Congress, there were twenty major bills introduced which alone would have added between $50 and $60 billion a year to the present total of federal spending.
Our slide toward insolvency is being given further impetus by the flight of some of our industries to foreign lands, and the weakening of others by steep increases in imports from abroad.
You know the story—in sewing machines, in electronic equipment, in office machines. You know that half the barbed wire and half the plywood used by the entire American market now come from overseas. You know that imports of cotton textiles have increased 216 per cent in five years, and that foreign steel is coming into Cleveland at $55.00 a ton less than the price of steel produced right there in the same city.
You would think that the leadership of American labor would be alarmed. Yet the recent bitter steel strike was settled on the basis of a wage increase which, if applied to all employed persons in the country, would raise the total cost of domestically produced goods and services more than $45 billion a year.
Decay of Personal Incentive
The trend also is toward destruction of incentive.
A man of exceptional competence and ability finds that the more hours he works the less he earns per hour of effort, until he reaches the point where he can keep less than one-tenth of each additional dollar.
The investor in corporate equities finds that half his profits are absorbed before he sees them and that a further major portion must be surrendered after that.
The factory worker finds that if he exceeds the approved rate of production, he is disciplined by his union or frowned upon by his fellows, and that his progress depends on the passage of time rather than on his energy, his intelligence, or the merit of his performance.
The man who works intermittently qualifies for public compensation between jobs. If his earnings are small enough, he qualifies for admission into a communal housing unit. If he stops work at 65, regardless of health and ability, he qualifies for Social Security payments.
From the mental anesthesia of the television screen to the use of ever-greater leisure for the modern equivalents of stick-whittling and cracker-barrel-sitting, we see around us a glorification of mediocrity and deification of the unproductive which reflect loss of intellectual ambition, decline of crusading spirit, and decay of personal incentive.
The trend also is toward perpetual programs of private life by public plan.
Again and again we have seen the whole sorry story of political paternalism paraded before us—the design for the nursemaid state—the plan for government by fairy godmother—the promise of heaven-on-earth through ballots cast on Capitol Hill. We are familiar with the philosophy that the answer to every difficulty is more legislation or larger figures in appropriations bills—that all we need to do is turn over our problems, our pay checks, and our independence to political agents, and everything we should have will be provided.
Under such a philosophy, we have seen federal outlays for civilian programs increase 83 per cent in six years of a so-called conservative Administration; and we already have reached the point where 40 million people—who with their families account for roughly half our total population—now receive checks from the national treasury.
A Vested Interest in Conflict
The trend, then—the trend toward national insolvency, toward destruction of personal incentive, toward accomplished but unadmitted socialization and regimentation—this is a major reason for serious, even desperate, concern over our home-front war for survival.
A second reason is one we do not hear much about. It is the extent of our vested interest in a high level of international tension, and in the waste and extravagance that accompany it. The connection between our posture of prosperity and a continuation of Russian sword-rattling is so obvious that I have wondered at times why the coyotes of the Kremlin do not seriously array themselves in sheep’s clothing, agree to drastic disarmament, abandonment of any form of aggression, and establishment of an international atmosphere of peace and serenity. Certainly I can think of no quicker or surer way in which they could throw us into the financial tizzy and tail spin they so greatly desire.
Think about these vested interests for a moment. The most powerful, perhaps, is the interest of our bureaucracy—the hundreds of thousands of officials and clerks required to give away billions of dollars, prepare multitudinous programs, and operate all manner of red tape in the much-maligned name of defense. In a wholly relaxed atmosphere, what would happen to military aid for our allies, the bulging State Department, the Office of Civil Defense, and the most extensive peacetime fighting establishment we have ever sought to maintain? Half the federal budget, more than half our federal employees, and arguments for everything from subsidized bomb shelters to subsidized training for scientists would no longer be justified.
Think of industry—the contracts for airplanes, missile parts, guns, and equipment—the contracts for military construction, housing units, and a multibillion-dollar highway system promoted in the name of defense mobility—the contracts for building ships and submarines, and even for sirens in every city.
Think of labor—the political demands of the unemployed—the quick absorption or bankruptcy of public compensation funds—wage scales no longer buttressed by high-priced military buying.
If the economic impact of peace did not bring promptly the full financial cataclysm Mr. Khrushchev predicts, he would need only to wait a little longer while we adopted emergency boondoggling measures, arranged for displaced civil servants and industrial casualties to be put on public or subsidized payrolls, and brought our national budget back near its present level. Here would be the moment in history for him and his friends to throw off their sheep’s attire and revert to wolfhood, so that we in turn would undertake to pile another major defense program on top of our newly-achieved socialistic utopia, with an outcome he could readily depend upon.
The point here, however, is not to speculate on possibilities, but to express the conviction that the tremendous vested interest of influential and important American groups in the maintenance of international tension—and the part which that interest plays in giving our economy a hue of rosiness—is a second reason for concern on the domestic front.
Matching Our Words with Deeds
A third and tremendously significant reason why I say we are losing the home war is that practically nobody is fighting wholly, sincerely, and unreservedly on the side of the forces that would keep us strong. Our defense is dependent largely on men and groups who either fight on one side one day and the other the next, or who fight with one hand while accepting bribes from the opposition with the other. Since such divided loyalty invites defeat, I want to explain exactly what I mean.
If you will ask around, you will find that practically everybody is opposed to national insolvency, to destruction of incentive, and to political domination of private and economic life. You will find that he is opposed to pre-emptive statism, and to the fiscal irresponsibility that can bring it upon us. At least he will say he is, and the chances are he really is—except the part that applies to his owncommunity or puts a few temporary extra dollars into his personal pocket.
I can cite you illustration after illustration, and you can add more from your own experience, of the howls that go up when a man faces the specific application, to his own pocketbook, of the very principles of national strength to which he claims allegiance.
Try to close a military installation because of the economies which can be made by consolidating it with one in another area—try to cut a subsidy of any kind—try to eliminate the expense of federal involvement in real estate mortgages, or pork-barrel projects, or loans at less than cost—try even to merge two offices in the same city if the merger reduces payrolls… and you will hear screams from sources that range from corporation heads and bank presidents to the lowliest tenants of public apartments, depending entirely on who is personally touched.
I would like to make a statement here which I want you to correct, if I am wrong. I do not know of a single businessmen’s organization, of any kind, which customarily passes resolutions on public policies, whose record will not reveal support for programs or projects which are part of our trend toward defeat.
Here, then, are three reasons for solid conviction that as of this moment we are losing, and losing at a fearsome pace, the second war—the domestic war—on which the outcome of the Cold War depends: (1) the trend toward exactly the conditions which our mortal enemies have predicted would bring our defeat; (2) the vested interest of large and influential groups in the perpetuation of international tension; (3) the absence of sincere, honest, wholehearted support for the simple principles and practical policies that would keep us strong.
The War Inside Each of Us
The most vital question which confronts us, however, is not that of losses already sustained in this second war, or even the question of our current status, but the all-decisive question, "Can we win it?"
If we can, and if we do—if we are truly victorious here—we will defeat foreign Communists and international gangsters on any front they choose, be it military, economic, diplomatic, ideological, or what you please. We will confound the hopes and contradict the prophecies of our enemies, and earn the respect and admiration of our friends.
How, then, can we win this second war? We can win it, and win it only, if you and I and others like us can win still another war—a third war. It is the war which each one of us must fight inside himself.
We may not have thought about it much—we may balk at even admitting it—but inside each of us, way down where we really live, there is going on a personal miniature of the domestic war I have just described. It is a war to determine which side we are really on—not which side we say we are on, but the side we really support.
Here is a war where it is impossible for you or me to be spectators or bystanders. It is impossible even to be neutral, for we ourselves are the battleground. Our decisions, and ours only, will determine the outcome.
Arrayed on one front in this personal war is a tremendous force of animal inclinations and natural desires—the appeal of immediate benefits, business advantages, or personal profits from political programs. Here also is the power of inertia. Here is reluctance to get involved. Here is temptation to kid ourselves into believing that just one man doesn’t make any difference—or that because we don’t get a direct dole or handout every month we are not a part of the problem—or even that we and our fellow-Americans are somehow immune to the age-old and unchangeable law of cause and effect.
On the other side are our conscience, our judgment, and our knowledge that throughout all history no nation has ever survived which continued much farther than we already have come down the road we are traveling.
Neither I nor any other man can tell you how you are coming along with your own personal war. I can, however, tell you how you can win it, and in winning it achieve personal invincibility which no amount of legislation can bring, and no amount of persecution by either fellow-citizens or outsiders can overthrow.
Practice What We Believe
First, you can practice what you profess to believe. You can apply in private and business life the principles you publicly espouse. Three out of every four average Americans, when asked about the principles they support, will give the answers which you and I know to be right. Among businessmen, the figure is more likely to be 4 out of 4.
Hence, I say that the first battle you and I must win is to practice what we profess to believe. To do otherwise means not only to lose our personal war, but through our hypocrisy to influence others to lose theirs also. Just as the ternperance lecturer who gets drunk is a greater liability to his cause than is the admitted barfly, so the businessman who preaches free enterprise while he participates in programs of political intervention is a greater liability than the admitted socialist.
You can join the WCTU, vote for prohibition, circulate resolutions to close liquor stores, and wear a tall black hat and swallow-tailed coat complete with cane, but your neighbor still will not think you believe in temperance if he sees you staggering around your yard or patio at cocktail time. You cannot convince him that you are opposed to statism if you support resolutions calling for federal funds for local projects, or make him think you believe in individual freedom and independence if you expect Washington to underwrite, directly or indirectly, your personal or business risks.
Unless you and I are willing to fight and win this very first battle, all three of the wars I have mentioned are already lost as far as we personally are concerned.
We Can Help Those Around Us
The second thing you can do is to initiate, in your own particular area of influence and knowledge—be it large or small—a conscious effort to help those about you to win their personal wars also.
You and I may not be able to do a thing about the personal wars of people in distant places. We may not be able to help everyone in our own state, or even our home town. But there is not one of us who cannot be effective, both by example and by precept, among the people we see and talk to every day.
How much good will you be able to do individually? I do not know, but I know that neither you nor I nor any other man on earth can do anything except individually. I further know that we cannot wash out our responsibility with a signature on a bank check, when our brains and talents and personalities are more important than our money. And I know still further that if you will work among those about you with the aggressive, intelligent, result-getting leadership which is you at your best—if you will work with the same crusading spirit, the fire and the zeal, the loyalty and drive which you know to be typical of a dedicated Communist—you will be amazed at what you can do, and you will be amazed at how overwhelming will be your own inner victory.
How many of us will have to win our personal wars—in order to win the bigger war on the national front, and in turn the Cold War itself?
The answer to that depends onthe completeness of our personal victories and the amount of enthusiasm with which that conquest inspires us. Not many are needed if we are sufficiently on fire. Karl Marx, one man, was a misanthropic ne’er-do-well. Saint Paul was a puny epileptic or otherwise physically handicapped man. Hitler was a psychopathic paper hanger in Austria. Certainly no reader of these words would consider himself inferior to any of them—or to any of the twelve whom Christ himself assembled before these became dedicated men. Perhaps we cannot match them in dedication, but the degree to which we succeed will determine the number who are needed.
Personal Victories Needed
Here, then, is our war—a war that is going to decide the nature of civilization, and the conditions of human life for generations to come. I have broken it into three parts, but for you and me it is not in reality three wars. It is one war. The outcome of it is wholly dependent on whether or not you and I and others like us are victorious on the battlefront that lies inside ourselves.
I won’t win, no matter how the domestic front and the international front come out, if I don’t win my personal war and contribute my utmost to similar victories for those around me. And I cannot be beaten, no matter how other fronts come out, if I know that I have applied to my daily life the principles in which I believe, and have given my utter best to those within my reach.
For my own part, I can give you my answer. I am going to win my war, and I am going to try so hard to help others to win theirs that I am going to know, down inside, that if everyone who reads this did the same, along with others across this land who feel and profess exactly what we do, there is no question as to the outcome of both our domestic and our Cold War campaigns.
May I urge that you join me in the prayer and determination that we, each through his own victory and the effort which that victory inspires, may achieve the invincibility of soul which makes personal defeat impossible—that together we shall make a vital and conceivably decisive contribution to our cause and to our country—and that with others of like purpose and spirit we may demonstrate to all the world that an individual man must be respected, when he earns the right to respect himself.
This is the war we are in. This is the way to win it.
Ideas on Liberty
In these days of fear and confusion let us remember that the endless repetition of a lie or the multiplication of an empty promise does not make a truth. Truth is something more than the greatest common denominator of mass ignorance and greed. It is never determined or demonstrated by majorities or pluralities of popular error and appetite. Ultimately, with God’s aid, it always emerges and finally prevails, supreme in its power over the destiny of mankind, and terrible in its retribution for those who deny, defy, or betray it.