Regarding wars, according to Lao Tzu, those who delight in victories delight in slaughter.
Bacevic notes that “during protracted wars, traditional standards for measuring generalship lose their salience.” This is also because protracted wars by definition have no fixed dates for their beginnings or endings, or even what should be regarded as “war”. Another element of modern protracted wars is that they’re often people’s wars, which means they could continue even when their leader(s) are killed. To “win” such wars often mean to kill an entire people, and this becomes problematical in countries or regions where the resistance number in tens or hundreds of millions. In the Middle East, what unites those people is religion, so it's necessary to divide them into Shites and Sunnis. Even then, each of those sects number in the millions and, moreover, many of them have wised up to the tricks of their oppressors (e.g., unlike their political leaders, many in the Syrian army are actually Sunnis).
Thousands of years ago, Sun Tzu - and many other philosophers from Confucius to the anti-war Mo Tzu - noted that the best way to “win” wars is through the hearts and minds (benevolence is the key). Quite different from the braggarts we have today who flaunt weapons and their ability to inflict “shock and awe.” But, of course, those behind them are not concerned with winning at all, for to “win” is to end the war, which means no more war spending, and that’s a chilling thought to the 1%.