I don't play little wars, but I found this a fun read all the same. Every now and then, I read something that is so well put that it stays with me. Chapter VI qualifies, especially in light of our recent struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is short enough that I present it here in its entirety. Enjoy.
CHAPTER VI - ENDING WITH A SORT OF CHALLENGE
I COULD GO ON NOW and tell of battles, copiously. In the memory of the one skirmish I have given I do but taste blood. I would like to go on, to a large, thick book. It would be an agreeable task. Since I am the chief inventor and practiser (so far) of Little Wars, there has fallen to me a dispropor- tionate share of victories. But let me not boast. For the present, I have done all that I meant to do in this matter. It is for you, dear reader, now to get a floor, a friend, some soldiers and some guns, and show by a grovelling devotion your appre- ciation of this noble and beautiful gift of a limitless game that I have given you.
And if I might for a moment trumpet! How much better is this amiable miniature than the Real Thing! Here is a ho- meopathic remedy for the imaginative strategist. Here is the premeditation, the thrill, the strain of accumulating victory or disaster—and no smashed nor sanguinary bodies, no shat- tered fine buildings nor devastated country sides, no pettycruelties, none of that awful universal boredom and embit- terment, that tiresome delay or stoppage or embarrassment of every gracious, bold, sweet, and charming thing, that we who are old enough to remember a real modern war know to be the reality of belligerence. This world is for ample liv- ing; we want security and freedom; all of us in every coun- try, except a few dull-witted, energetic bores, want to see the manhood of the world at something better than apeing the little lead toys our children buy in boxes. We want fine things made for mankind—splendid cities, open ways, more knowl- edge and power, and more and more and more—and so I offer my game, for a particular as well as a general end; and let us put this prancing monarch and that silly scare-mon- ger, and these excitable “patriots,” and those adventurers, and all the practitioners of Welt Politik, into one vast Temple of War, with cork carpets everywhere, and plenty of little trees and little houses to knock down, and cities and fortresses, and unlimited soldiers—tons, cellars-full—and let them lead their own lives there away from us.
My game is just as good as their game, and saner by reason of its size. Here is War, done down to rational proportions,and yet out of the way of mankind, even as our fathers turned human sacrifices into the eating of little images and sym- bolic mouthfuls. For my own part, I am prepared. I have nearly five hundred men, more than a score of guns, and I twirl my moustache and hurl defiance eastward from my home in Essex across the narrow seas. Not only eastward. I would conclude this little discourse with one other discon- certing and exasperating sentence for the admirers and practi- tioners of Big War. I have never yet met in little battle any military gentleman, any captain, major, colonel, general, or eminent commander, who did not presently get into difficul- ties and confusions among even the elementary rules of the Battle. You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realise just what a blundering thing Great War must be.
Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but—the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realisation conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.