Why Limited Wars Don't Stay Limited

Stephen Budiansky debunks the myth "that limited war waged by the mighty will overawe the weak into political submission with comparatively little cost, involvement, or trouble":

The trouble is not just that the weak always have tactical recourses that can indefinitely delay total defeat and sap the resolve of the mightiest; the real trouble is the simple fact that limited war is predicated on an enemy's crying uncle at some point far short of annihilation (an end point that requires military commitment of an entirely different kind; see, for example, the Soviet offensive against Germany in World War II). It depends on transforming military means to political ends that the military force employed is almost inevitably ill-matched toward attaining.