COMMENTARY--It can take a long time to realize that war is in the air. Is that a sword being unsheathed or merely a saber being rattled? A field exercise or the first stage of mobilization? Are those defensive forces digging in at the border, or shock troops readying a surprise onslaught?
These issues consumed military planners during the Cold War, but they all boil down to one simple question: what is in the mind of the opposition? Until the first shot is fired, there is always an element of ambiguity in even the most offensive posturing--and you can be sure that an aggressive foe will use that ambiguity to the full.