Why is it impossible for the war to be decisive?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Simply put, if the war is decided, then there is no longer a foreign enemy towards whom all government and public enmity can be directed.  The worst thing for the Party and for Big Brother would be for the war to be over.  This would mean that attention could turn towards the repressive policies of the government and how they take away from individual rights.  In the end, the government needs the war in order to focus attention on the "enemies" of Oceania and to consolidate its own power.  When the historian Howard Zinn writes that "War is the health of the state," there is a great deal of connection to the government described in Orwell's work.  While the need for war is to supposedly protect the people, in actuality, the government is protected for its interests are served when the public's attention is diverted from domestic concerns and issues regarding their own government's conduct and onto "the enemy" and their prospective defeat.  We can see this in several instances.  When a victory against the Eurasians is announced, it is followed by the edict of a chocoloate ration.  The latter is only able to be fully implemented because of the diversion of the former.

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