A Chance

That’s what winning earns: a chance.

World War II, which still has such a powerful grip on the American imagination, was about as definitive a victory — on both fronts — as history has ever known or is ever likely to know.

Most aren’t nearly that decisive, and even that greatest of victories was ultimately a chance at a new beginning more than a final repudiation of evil.

The war years were difficult, no doubt. (And all the more so for the many countries that fought longer than the United States, or that were fought upon directly.) But consider the work that remained to be done, like re-writing the constitutions of Germany and Japan; re-ordering the transatlantic, transpacific, and international economic systems; and settling into a new confrontation with the Soviet Union that lasted more than 10 times longer than the United States was actively involved in World War II.

Signing the instrument of surrender is one thing. But it’s worth planning for the reconstruction, too.