The Allure of War — Explained

If you’re looking for something to read, take a look at Sea Stories by retired admiral William McRaven:

Everyone likes a good story and this book contains several. Great lawyers are good story tellers. It’s how you win in court, telling a good story.

Great warriors accumulate great stories. They are playing in a little different arena. It’s not carefully crafted words and sentences by which they win or lose.

We might think it’s bullets and bombs that count for winning or losing, but there seems to be a lot more to it. Strategy and tactics, and experience are just as important. Sometimes battles are won without firing a shot. Then, it’s all strategy, tactics and experience.

Trail lawyers start their mission with a story. Warriors end it with a story.

This book contains several sea stories of hard fought battles. If you’re into that sort of thing (who isn’t) this book might for you. It was for me even though I’m no warrior. I was in the Navy, but never saw combat. I was involved with quite a lot of training for combat but never saw the real thing.

I must have owned some sort of allure for war and combat because I’ve always been interested in well-written heroic accounts of ordinary men who rose to the need when it presented itself.

Is there an allure for war? There must be. Otherwise why would human history be so full of wars and battles? It was war fighting that made Alexander the Great, great. It was war that made Alvin York, Audie Murphy, George Patton, Nathan Hale, Ulysses Grant, and countless others beloved American heroes.

At page 125 of his book, Admiral William H. McRaven, a Navy SEAL for 37 years, explains the allure of war:

As terrible as it may sound, every SEAL longs for a worthy fight, a battle of convictions and an honorable war. War challenges your manhood. It reaffirms your courage. It sets you apart from the timid souls and the bench sitters. It builds unbreakable bonds among your fellow warriors. It gives your life meaning. Over time. I would get more than my share of war. Men would be lost. Innocents would be killed. Families would be forever changed. But somehow, inexplicably, war would never lose its allure. To the warrior, peace has no memories, no milestones, no adventures, no heroic deaths, no gut-wrenching sorrow, no jubilation, no repentance, no salvation. Peace was meant for some people, but probably not for me.

That pretty much tells you what this book is about. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

P.S. McRaven’s explanation for the allure of war might be offensive to some people. I don’t think he presented it as something to be desired, he is simply describing the reality of war and the mindset of warriors. Certainly, it’s always nice to avoid a war when that is possible. Getting involved in other peoples’ wars that are far away and of questionable threat to our own security is always a fool’s errand. America has been led into foolish wars a few times and we’ve paid a price for it. Thankfully, we have a president in Donald Trump who understands this and has shown that he is reluctant to go to war and will do so only as a last resort when all else has failed.


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