It never fails to amaze me how often people dismiss the intangibles in war. Even when they speak of morale, it’s as a secondary element to their military force’s combat capability.
I’ll posit that most people accept the following as true: You win a fight – or a war – when one side gives up. While true, it’s semantically weak, leading to some false conclusions. Try this one: You win when the other side no longer wants to oppose you.
Ponder that more fully. It means, for example, that if you persuade the other side that it benefits more by allying instead of opposing, you win. It means if you convince the other side to cease conflict – not ally, merely cease working against you – you win. It means that it’s not necessary to have a humiliation moment for victory. Humiliation moments are the insistence that the other side has to agree you’ve won in public fashion. The signing on the Missouri is, in many ways, a grown-up version of one side having to cry “Uncle”. There are, sometimes, good reasons for the humiliation moment, but it should never be considered mandatory.
Some foes will require persuasion instead of force – their history and beliefs will be such that force actually makes their opposition stronger. Anyone wishing to doubt this need merely examine, well, I suppose Israel under Roman rule is the better known example, but it’s far from unique. I suspect that our current adventure in the Middle East will turn out to be yet another example of this truth.