In this passage, Colin Powell, the then Secretary of State for the United States, defends the use of military might as opposed to diplomacy against Saddam Hussein.
He says that the time for diplomacy and “soft power” comes after the battles are won, when we have the opportunity and responsibility to build the defeated nations back up and to restore peace to areas ravaged by war. He doesn’t say this explicitly, but I get from what he is saying is that the men of the United States do not fight because they are bellicose but rather because there is injustice which needs to be rectified, and as soon as the mission is complete, the need for force is gone and we just seeks to honor our dead for the lives they have given to the cause.
Sometimes great sacrifices must be made for the greater good. The only questions to ask are whether the cause is just, and if it is worth the incredible cost of even a single human life, much less many.
As Colin Powell puts it, “But there comes a time when … talking with evil will not work….” And that’s when we need to take action.