Military confrontations are typically broken down into three levels
- Tactical relates to a specific battle. Napoleon’s tactical brilliance allowed him to win the Battle of the Three Emperors, tactical despair is when the front lines break, etc.
- Campaign or Operational relates to a series of battles and the operations that support them. The Allied invasion of Northern Africa (Operation Torch) and the German invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa) were real life campaigns. Like battles, campaigns can be war-gamed and imagined, like Operation Olympic (the 1946 invasion of Japan) or Operation Return (the Cold War American defense of Europe). When the Germans at Stalingrad surrendered, Germans faced campaign despair.
- Strategic relates to the entire war. The America’s strategy in the Cold War was to buy-off Germany and Japan and wait out Russia. General Lee faced strategic despair when he felt the Civil War was unwinnable, and so surrendered to General Grant.
Politically, a tactical confrontation would be a specific battle (say, social security or judges), strategic confronations are what the tactics are for (creating a solid majority to enact the entire agenda), and the campaigns are the support actions for the tactical battles — actual campaign. Then what to make of this:
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid raised a few eyebrows yesterday on the Senate floor when he said it would take a “miracle” for Democrats to win enough races next year to take back the Senate.
“I would like to think a miracle would happen and we would pick up five seats this time,” he said during a floor debate over the filibusters of President Bush’s judicial nominees. “I guess miracles never cease.”
Republicans were delighted by what they called an “admission” from the highest-ranking elected Democrat in the country.
Campaign despair for the top Democrat Senator! That would be like Admiral Yamamoto admitting that the campaign in the Pacific was unwinnable for Japan.
Oh wait, he did.
You know what happened next.
The nuclear option.