June 29th, 2005

Taking the perspective of history on this war

Austin Bay is back home, and he’s rallying the troops–and us. Excellent perspective on the whole bloody thing, in a concise nutshell that includes an analogy to our own Civil War and its aftermath.

18 Responses to “Taking the perspective of history on this war”

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  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    Dehumanizing a soldier in war is dangerous, for that person and for the society that has to take him back into the fold. What the military does is train soldiers, discipline them from a mob to a fighting force, not “dehumanization”.

    Removal of human traits, mercy and compassion, is a Leftist ideology and fantasy, where they come up with “super soldiers” that end up killing the creators.

    If you want to win a war, you must have Roman Virtues. Favor strength above beauty, favor steadiness over quick thinking, and favor honor over cowardice.

    Gravitas.

    These are the qualities of life to which every Citizen (and, ideally, everyone else) should aspire. They are the heart of the Via Romana — the Roman Way — and are thought to be those qualities which gave the Roman Republic the moral strength to conquer and civilize the world. Today, they are the rods against which we can measure our own behavior and character, and we can strive to better understand and practice them in our everyday lives.

    Auctoritas: “Spiritual Authority” The sense of one’s social standing, built up through experience, Pietas, and Industria.

    Comitas: “Humor” Ease of manner, courtesy, openness, and friendliness.

    Clementia: “Mercy” Mildness and gentleness.

    Dignitas: “Dignity” A sense of self-worth, personal pride.

    Firmitas: “Tenacity” Strength of mind, the ability to stick to one’s purpose.

    Frugalitas: “Frugalness” Economy and simplicity of style, without being miserly.

    Gravitas: “Gravity” A sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.

    Honestas: “Respectibility” The image that one presents as a respectable member of society.

    Humanitas: “Humanity” Refinement, civilization, learning, and being cultured.

    Industria: “Industriousness” Hard work.

    Pietas: “Dutifulness” More than religious piety; a respect for the natural order socially, politically, and religiously. Includes the ideas of patriotism and devotion to others.

    Prudentia: “Prudence” Foresight, wisdom, and personal discretion.

    Salubritas: “Wholesomeness” Health and cleanliness.

    Severitas: “Sternness” Gravity, self-control.

    Veritas: “Truthfulness” Honesty in dealing with others.

    If you want your nation to win, start with resurrecting patriotism, and elevating strong and brave men over fashion models and pop/movie stars.

    The rest will take care of itself.

  4. Michael B Says:

    “Can you let somebody take a long weekend over the 4th of July without pidgeonholing them into another of your “leftist islamofascist treasonous snipers/whiners/complainers” catgories?” Anon 353

    Ok, ok, first and foremost I sincerely apologize, hope you can be receptive to that. I only had a two day weekend, so maybe I was jealous. On the other hand the sniping that often occurs from the left, and often by anonymous posters, produces a little shell shock on occasion, friendly (or semi-friendly?) fire is something I am admittedly guilty of at times. So again, an apology is offered, hope you can accept it. However, you’re wrongly typifying posters here, everyone else here is smarter, nicer and better looking than I am. In fact, I’ll visit to read but very shortly am no longer going to post here, for reasons entirely unrelated to you, be assurred.

    To the issues, I believe the manner in which you typify the administration is also incorrect, would point to this, referencing a speech by John Lewis Gaddis, as one supportive example. I also disagree, very much so, that the jidadis don’t care who wins a presidential election here. They don’t care in the same sense we do, but they care for reasons of their own.

    In terms of addressing the negatives of Iraq, that isn’t what he set out to do (and to quibble, neither is he pretentious). Not all the negatives in a war can be predetermined, and obviously any war will involve substantial negatives of a variety of types and kinds, that’s inherent in the very nature of the beast. You’re not exactly terribly precise yourself, which was but one of the reasons I was cautious concerning your motives. We are, after all, discussing politics during the most divisive time since we defaulted vis-a-vis Vietnam, or at least since Reagan invoked rhetoric such as “the evil empire” during the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

    Concerning some type of long term committments. Yes, likely enough, as it variously has been with Japan, Western Europe, So. Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and elsewhere. No one has a crystal ball, but long term commitments of some stripe or kind are likely. Concerning our allies and world opinion, the short answer is they have done more to alienate us than visa versa. Variously, given Kosovo, Rwanda, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Iraq, the UN’s insolvency and ineffectiveness on any number of fronts, other examples, they don’t reduce to your formulation. There are ideas writ large across the landscape which are being debated on any number of fronts and as a result of any number of motives, but the notion it reduces to us alienating them is simplistic and unrealistic given the themes being discussed and the concerns being addressed around the globe. On the other hand, that also hardly means people are telling you to simply “fall in line.” Given the reductionist propaganda from the Michael Moores, the MoveOns, concerning both domestic and international issues, people on all sides react at times, so it seems to me you might be a bit more charitable in this vein.

    Concerning WMD per se. I see it, within Craddick’s overview, as essentially being addressed within the far ranging strategy. See here as well. If politically, socially, diplomatically, economically, even culturally, some basic things can be redressed and shaped as a result of that long term strategy, then that will serve to critically ameliorate the jihadist ideology as a fundamental societal level, creating, in the long run, more cooperation and amity than enmity, i.e., a systemic redressing that unfortunately cannot realistically be accomplished without at least some strategically significant military efforts. There remains a responsible place for force, thoughtfully and strategically applied, in the world.

    Finally, no one has convinced me that others are providing, in lieu of our initiative in Afghanistan and Iraq, a viable counter strategy. The notions I’ve encountered in this vein have been difficult to take very seriously at all given all that is at risk. It’s one thing to critique the present set of strategies, it’s another entirely to take responsibility for a substantial alternative plan. In that vein, I at least can acknowledge your admission concerning the patience of the salafists, for example as pertains to WTC ’93.

    And again, please do accept my sincere apology. Too, your judgement of others is, I believe, misplaced.

  5. Anon 353 Says:

    Michael B said…
    Anon, 3:53 pm,

    Unwilling to answer either yea or ney, hey? That may be telling in and of itself. An unwillingness to take a position, for example with WTC ’93, may reflect a desire to remain abstracted from the debate, a desire to be able to snipe or otherwise criticize from afar, from above the fray, while not committing so much as an opinion one’s self. This may not represent your own situation, but it’s a position that is very often encountered nonetheless.

    And many people who write stuff like you wrote above have red hair and freckles. It may not be so in your case, but believe me, it is not outside the realm of possibility that someone who would write that could have those attributes.

    I’m being ironic there, Michael, just in case you were wondering. Can you let somebody take a long weekend over the 4th of July without pidgeonholing them into another of your “leftist islamofascist treasonous snipers/whiners/complainers” catgories?

    It’s no wonder people with opposing viewpoints don’t hang around long in this echo chamber. Sure this place attracts alot of trolls, people who come in yelling rubbish and then disappear. But for the most part you guys love it, and are already too busy shaking your heads and chuckling to yourselves about Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, the trolls and other irrelevant liberal kooks, and then holding them up as some sort of “prime examples” of liberal thinking, as if they say anything at all about the many good, intelligent *American citizens* opposed to the war in Iraq to engage in a serious exchange of ideas and who deserve to have their legitimate concerns addressed much better than this administration has done with their smug dismissals of any dissent. Rather than address *their* (and once in awhile they do chime in around here) concerns, they are systematically ridiculed as cowardly dupes of the liberal MSM, aiding the enemy, etc, etc. There is so much sloganeering and mindless adherence to ideology, a 110% unwavering and uncritical commitment to the cause, it’s like trying to talk to a bunch of maoists during a cultural revolution book burning party.

    That said, I thank you for pointing me to Craddick’s site. The level of discourse there is generally on a much higher plane than here, and I will probably be hanging around there more and less here.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth, to the extent I understand your question correctly, I do agree that WTC 93 was a “prominent event” and of course I acknowledge the jihadi’s patience. But I would go further. 8.5 years is nothing to them. They are willing to wait 8.5 centuries if that’s what it takes. If anything, I think neocons underestimate that patience when they argue that all these terrorists that would be planning attacks on US soil are now flocking to blow themselves up in Iraq. Those are just the stooges. The real dangerous terrorists are out their taking their time. They don’t care who wins some presidential election here.

    As for Craddick’s apologia, I have to say that, while at times a bit pretentious, it makes a great case for Iraq as a tremendous problem for the US in light of the 9-11 attacks. It’s too bad Bush and company couldn’t come up with that on their own. They are too busy treaing us like the ten-year olds they take us for, I guess. Craddick is not too charitable towards the administration’s efforts to make the case for the war either.

    What his essay doesn’t do very well for me is tell us why invasion and occupation was the *best possible response* to the problem and address the possible negative consequences of the war. He lists two arguments which are basically the same about the lack of finding WMDs. What about the implications of the commitment of enormous military resources for years to come for this one aspect of the war? What about compromising our military’s ability to fight two major operations at the same time? What about our unfinished business in Afghanistan? What about alienating our major allies and world opinion, how will that help us in the war on terror? Maybe to you these are the concerns of a hand-wringing, panty-waisted sissy, but I think they are worth addressing, and I haven’t seen it done yet. I’ve basically been told to fall in line quick or be considered one of the enemy.

    And finally, Craddick’s essay doesn’t do one other thing, and that is specifically address my original question: How has the invasion done anything significant to keep WMD out of the hands of jihadis?

    yours,
    Anon 353

  6. Michael B Says:

    Anon, 3:53 pm,

    Unwilling to answer either yea or ney, hey? That may be telling in and of itself. An unwillingness to take a position, for example with WTC ’93, may reflect a desire to remain abstracted from the debate, a desire to be able to snipe or otherwise criticize from afar, from above the fray, while not committing so much as an opinion one’s self. This may not represent your own situation, but it’s a position that is very often encountered nonetheless.

    Thankfully, Paul Craddick at Fragmenta Philosophica has recently posted on this topic. Since his perspective virtually mirrors my own with regard to this matter, I’ll let his post stand in for a detailed response of my own. He articulates all the details better than I would have, so that’s an added bonus.

    Enjoy the holiday weekend..

  7. NeoPatton Says:

    I am all for defense of the country. I am a patriot.

    I am begining to believe invading Iraq was a deliberate blunder of gargantuan proportions, but I wholly supported Afghanistan (though I think that the prosecution of that effort was also a massive blunder).

    I am just saying that if I am wrong and Iraq really does play a vital role in the defense of this nation then we should absolutely have no hesitation whatsoever to call up the necessary resources, from additional tax dollars to personnel.

    That is what America does, always has done, in times of war and national emergency. And citizens have always risen to the occasion.

    Brie eating Euro trash can participate in compulsory service, but tough Americans cannot, interesting…….

    And yes, I do think that instituting the draft will separate the foreign policy wheat from the foreign policy chaff.

    Americans will fight when the country needs them, when the world needs them. But they will not fight long when they see no obvious necessity.

    When you are against the draft you are tacitly admitting that Iraq was not a national emergency, a serious threat, nor a necessity. You are admitting that you do not like the draft because, by involving the citizens, generally, in wars of choice based on the designs of the rich and well positioned and the theories of their cynical ivory tower hand-maidens that you might get have a rebellion.

    Folks, this is our country, not Bush’s. Invest the citizens and they’ll make the right choices.

  8. Michael B Says:

    Am more than willing to answer that question, but first a question and a request for you. To what degree, if any, do you acknowledge the significance of WTC ’93 as a prominent event within the jihadists’ strategic frameing, and similarly the patience, from their point of view, that eventually bore fruit on 9/11?

    The request is it would be nice, for the sake of continuity, if you posted under something other than an anonymous title (e.g., are you the same anonymous as the 10:44 and 5:27 Anon?). It would also help affirm you’re asking out of sincerity and not merely out of glibness or a less sincere interest.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Michael B:

    How has our invasion and occupation of Iraq done anything significant to hinder the jihadist’s ability to aquire WMD?

  10. Goesh Says:

    NeoPatton – I don’t think it is as simple as young people not wanting to enlist because they don’t think we should be in Iraq. I think our materialism is catching up to us as a nation. We are what we own, what we can purchase, what we earn,what we drive and what high-tech gear we have, we are fashion and fad victims, suckers for Hollywood glitz and instant gratification, fast lanes and fast food and lots of cell phones and being instantly in touch, but with what? None of this is to be had slogging it out in the sand in Iraq with terrorists, even though we all know jihadism has to be confronted when and where it is found. It is just too damn much work for little pay and no glitz and glamour and being disconnected from cyberspace and all the rest of the immediate gratification mind-set we are addicted to. What America has to have is a 5 day war where nobody on our side gets hurt and we come out the winner and evil is vanquished. The folks that behead humanitarian workers know this too. Time is on their side, not ours.

  11. NeoPatton Says:

    the President could devote considerable time and effort and political capital urging his supporters to enlist.
    close to sixty million Americans voted for George W. Bush…. the idea that Bush could not (or will not) go on a “60 stops in 60 days” recruitment tour in those areas that constitute his political base and come up with a couple of hundred thousand new recruits is rather alarming. Bush needs to tell his supporters that this war is not just important enough to send other people to fight and die in, he needs to tell them that its important enough for them to make sacrifices.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    the President could devote considerable time and effort and political capital urging his supporters to enlist.
    close to sixty million Americans voted for George W. Bush…. the idea that Bush could not (or will not) go on a “60 stops in 60 days” recruitment tour in those areas that constitute his political base and come up with a couple of hundred thousand new recruits is rather alarming. Bush needs to tell his supporters that this war is not just important enough to send other people to fight and die in, he needs to tell them that its important enough for them to make sacrifices.

  13. Goesh Says:

    I knew a couple of old marines from the pacific theatre that had taken gold teeth from dead japs – I saw the teeth – they said it was fairly common and I saw more than one string of ears on grunts in nam. When the 9th Marines moved up to the DMZ in 67′, 1/9 was issued hatchets for the purpose of mutilating the bodies of dead gooks. If we advocate war we need to be prepared to accept and deal with all of it including the dehumanizing it takes to kill the enemy. I have nothing but respect for authentic pacifists, but I loathe the left with their selective support of killing. For the record, the US should have sent a couple of battalions into R’wanda to at least have stopped some of the slaughter and we should have sent a couple of battalions into Darfur for the same reasons once we knew of the genocide.

    Though the civil war/Iraq analogy does have some holes in it, there is a common theme of liberation, but the carnage sure isn’t the same, is it Anonymous? Andersonville makes Abu Ghraib look like a day care center, eh? And talk about shock and awe, Gen. Sherman burnt a very, very wide swath on his way to Atlanta, sort of a dry run for war against the plains Indians, but that’s all old history.

  14. Richard Aubrey Says:

    The ’93 bombing could have been worse. The hope was that the building would collapse–that was why the explosive was set in the basement parking garage–but the cyanide gas was consumed in the explosion. Could have been bad.

    Point: We know what the terrorist want to do and we know they will do it with the most effective weapon they can find. What if they set off a couple of nukes in the US?

    I visited Shiloh battlefield. Toward evening, I was looking at a mass grave where rebel soldiers had been buried. A black man, taking a picture of the thing, commented, “Hardly seems worth it.” Perhaps he didn’t know it was a rebel grave. Perhaps he did, and at that point, didn’t think it was worth it.

    Other than fighter aces, who actually shot airplanes–which incidentally contained men–there was no celebrating of killing in WW II, although in the Pacific, once it was discovered what happened to Allied POWs in Japanese hands, there was some grim satisfaction, along with some ear-gathering.
    We won that one.

  15. Michael B Says:

    Bay mentions the WTC ’93 bombing. The prior president did not so much as visit the site in the wake of that bombing, the attempt by Islamicists to topple the towers. We don’t hear the media referencing this at all, yet another prominent elision consciously committed by the MSM. The incident could, in theory, be overly emphasized as well, no doubt, but we’re in no danger of that occurring with hands placed so firmly over the eyes and ears and mouth of our valient Left/MSM nexus of affable self-indulgence.

    Eight-and-a-half years between WTC ’93 and 9/11; from the Islamicists’ perspective, patience bearing fruit. How much patience, and time, between 9/11 and the jihadists’ ability to acquire WMD and place it within a Western city or effect a similarly strategically significant operation? Perhaps another eight-and-a-half years, more or less. Or perhaps a long-term, strategic, preemptive initiative will effectively subvert that occurance. Or, we could have let the UN, the ICJ, the ICC, the EU, the Left/Dems, etc. handle the salafists and Hussein & Sons, similar to the way the ICC is handling Darfur.

    Iraq was the right strategy and continues to be so.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I bet if we all tried real hard we could come up with at least a couple of holes in the Iraq War-Civil War analogy…

  17. karrde Says:

    From my own visit to Gettysburg, being a visitor doesn’t demand that I hold one side to be monsters and other side to be angels.

    However, I already knew that General Lee was not in favor of slavery, but he could not lead an army into his own homeland of Virginia. I also knew that the average Confederate soldier was a poor white man who never owned a slave.

    This knowledge didn’t mitigate the fact that one side was in the wrong, morally. But it did help me visit the battlefield without feeling a need to rejoice over each Johnny Reb who died.

    One thing that may help us understand whether we should be celebrating every terrorist death is this question: how did the American public treat German/Japanese defeats during WWII? What about Allied/Axis victories and defeats during WWI?

    We don’t have to celebrate the deaths of enemy combatants, but I think we can admit that it is a good thing that there are N fewer guys out there trying to kill American soldiers and Iraqi citizens.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind talking with a returning soldier (over beer, probably) and telling him I’m happy that he accounted for his share of the work over there–whether he killed any bad guys or not.

  18. Goesh Says:

    Human life is cheap depending on one’s moral persuasion over any given war. Bay mentions the Civil War and at the battle of Gettysburg for instance, in 3 day’s time, the heroes sustained 23,000 causalties, while the insurgent Rebs sustained 28,000. A website on Gettysburg mentions that about 2 million people visit each year. Why do they go? A tad over 5,000 very young men fell in one day on 6/6/44 at Normandy, which of course was a ‘good war’. I don’t know how many people visit Normanday each year, but I’m sure the number is large.

    I think we miss the message left by the visitors. The visits to these war sites are not festive events, there isn’t much loud talk or much rowdy behavior on the part of kids and adolescents. There isn’t much on-site food consumption that accomapanies these visits. Isn’t it all about the collective willingness to regard half the dead as villains, sort of a macabre silent acknowledgement that the bastards got what they deserved, at the expense of our men? If we own up to this, sort of fess up if you will, does it in any way impact the collective resolve to prosecute a war? Al jazeera seems to revel in showing beheadings and the good folks in Fallujah had quite a celebration when they hung the burned bodies of contractors from a bridge. I for one remember some palestinians dancing in the street after 9/11. But we don’t celebrate the deaths our enemies these days and because of this, I’m not just too sure we are really capable of winning any war that requires our men to kill and die on the ground. Am I advocating that our troops start wearing the ears of any enemy they kill? We do know however what would happen if a grunt did cut off an ear, dry it and wear it around his neck, don’t we? I’m not advocating this but I’m not so sure we are capable of really owning up to what we want in a war.

    This leads to another question I have been asking myself lately. Does our unwillingess to celebrate the death of an enemy in any way contribute to the PTSD of the returning troops? Can we wave a flag and tell a grunt, ” I’m glad you blew the heads of as many of the bastards as you could” at the same time? Are we the ones that put up a subtle barrier that contributes to a feeling of isolation on the part of returning Vets? When is the last time, despite our resolve, that we announced to anyone that X number of terrorists in Iraq were just killed? I don’t have many answers for my questions, but I do know in the final analysis it is all about the killing and dying.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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