Too Long; Didn't ReadThe ultimate aim of defensive war can never be an absolute negation, as we have before observed. Even for the weakest there must be some point in which the enemy may be made to feel, and which may be threatened.
Certainly we may say that this object is the exhaustion of the adversary, for as he has a positive object, every one of his blows which fails, if it has no other result than the loss of the force applied, still may be considered a retrograde step in reality, whilst the loss which the defensive suffers is not in vain, because his object was keeping possession, and that he has effected. This would be tantamount to saying that the defensive has his positive object in merely keeping possession. Such reasoning might be good if it was certain that the assailant after a certain number of fruitless attempts must be worn out, and desist from further efforts. But just this necessary consequence is wanting. If we look at the exhaustion of forces, the defender is under a disadvantage. The assailant becomes weaker, but only in the sense that it may reach a turning point; if we set aside that supposition, the weakening goes on certainly more rapidly on the defensive side than on that of the assailant: for in the first place, he is the weaker, and, therefore, if the losses on both sides are equal, he loses more actually than the other; in the next place, he is deprived generally of a portion of territory and of his resources. We have, therefore, here no ground on which to build the expectation that the offensive will cease, and nothing remains but the idea that if the assailant repeats his blows, while the defensive does nothing but wait to ward them off, then the defender has no counterpoise as a set off to the risk he runs of one of these attacks succeeding sooner or later.