May 11th, 2007

Defeat and defeatism

The word “defeat” has been thrown around lately in connection with the war in Iraq; here’s an example.

The title of the editorial is “Vietnam syndrome: the consequences of U.S. defeat in Iraq would be much greater than they were in Vietnam.” I agree with the basic premise; they would. But I disagree with the characterization of what’s going on there as “defeat.”

You may think I’m engaging in useless semantic nitpicking. But I don’t think so. I think what we experienced in Vietnam was closer to defeat than what’s going on in Iraq, but I think both basically come down to a different thing entirely: defeatism, and that it’s a troubling post-Vietnam development in our national psyche.

Remember that we had been disengaged from active fighting in the war in Vietnam for years when we abandoned that country in early 1975. I’ve written about that process so extensively that I’m not going to go into it again here (see this, this, this, and this). What’s important, though, is that we gave up when we were undergoing very little risk and when the cost of continuing was low. Even though we were merely subsidizing the fighting of others in a cause for which fifty thousand Americans had already given their lives, we had grown weary of what was perceived as an endless conflict, and it was that psychological defeatism that led to our pulling the plug on the still-fighting South Vietnamese themselves, who then—and only then—were in fact defeated.

We have lost relatively few casualties in Iraq, our economy is still thriving, and we’ve experienced no increase in terrorist attacks here. There has been no military defeat, just a psychological one, and it is self-generated.

In a way, though, my distinction between “defeat” and “defeatism” might be moot: in the end they both would have the same effect on the Iraqis. They would/will also have the same effect on the international perception of our ability to keep our word and to persevere in a struggle, an important part of deterrence of future conflicts.

They look different domestically, though; we have not experienced anywhere near the suffering and decimation involved in an actual defeat. Ask the elderly Germans or the Japanese what that is like.

In fact, the US has never suffered a defeat. The only part of the US that has is the South during the Civil War and its aftermath, the traumatic process of Reconstruction. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons the word “defeat” is now thrown around so readily; many of us don’t quite understand what it means.

65 Responses to “Defeat and defeatism”

  1. Synova Says:

    I don’t know how to do trackbacks.

    Good post, neo.

  2. The Unknown Blogger Says:

    Perhaps that’s one of the reasons the word “defeat” is now thrown around so readily; many of us don’t quite understand what it means.

    Or maybe it’s that they don’t know what “victory” means.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Well, it just so happens, UB, that I’ve done a bit of thinking on that score:

    http://neoneocon.com/2006/12/11/definition-of-success-in-war-part-i/
    http://neoneocon.com/2006/12/12/definition-of-success-in-war-part-ii/

  4. kungfu Says:

    Look at these definitions of “defeat.” I would emphasize #4.

    1. overwhelming defeat of all opposition.
    2. an instance of defeat; setback: He considered his defeat a personal affront.
    3. an overthrow or overturning; vanquishment: the defeat of a government.
    4. a bringing to naught; frustration: the defeat of all his hopes and dreams.
    5. the act or event of being bested; losing: Defeat is not something she abides easily.
    6. Archaic. undoing; destruction; ruin.

    Look at this definition of defeatism:

    the attitude, policy, or conduct of a person who admits, expects, or no longer resists defeat, as because of a conviction that further struggle or effort is futile; pessimistic resignation.

    I would emphasize “a conviction that further struggle or effort is futile.”

    This is what I think is occuring on the parts of the many Americans who acquiesced to the war earlier on but now want to see an end to it.

  5. gcotharn Says:

    “international perception of ability to keep our word and to persevere in a struggle”

    Perception of us will take a hit. It’s also good for U.S. citizens, such as myself, to get a clearer view of what we can and cannot accomplish, for reasons of our domestic political climate, as well as reasons of on the ground reality in the Mid East.

    I continue to shout, in all directions, that we have accomplished an important historic thing: we have introduced a vibrant democratic conversation into a region which NEVER BEFORE had seriously entertained such ideas. It is natural and proper that such a radical paradigm shift would be contentious.

    This is what I think: you can’t keep people down on the farm, once they have seen the big city. You can’t keep people in unthinking, unquestioning subservience, once they can smell democratic freedom. It will be a loooong transition, yet democracy will inevitable march forward. Regardless of the outcome in Iraq, OIF has been a historically huge step forward in that march.

  6. The Unknown Blogger Says:

    ***
    Yikes. Over 3,000 words and no clear conclusion, other than:

    “So we need a government that is not afraid to use the “s” word–success–and is willing to define it, and able to describe to the American people just what it will take to achieve it.”

    We may be in trouble.

  7. Lee Says:

    Wow, UB, you actually COUNTED the amount of words she used. Quite an obsessive trait, don’t you think?

  8. The Unknown Blogger Says:

    Wow, UB, you actually COUNTED the amount of words she used.

    Yes, every single one, and you could barely see my lips move as I did it… :)

  9. Eric Chen Says:

    The more immediately damaging part of perception is that defeatism on our part very much affects the pragmatic calculus in real-time of all involved, (former) friend and enemy alike. Defeatism becomes self-fulfilling.

  10. Eric Chen Says:

    On a related note, Neo, I’d love to get your take on this Chicago Boyz post comparing the political climate of 1930s France to that of our present-day US.

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/004953.html

  11. Danny Lemieux Says:

    With all due respect, neo-neo con, if the object of war is to break the will of your enemy, “we” will have suffered a defeat and “they” will have succeeded, making “them” the victors.

    As in Vietnam, where we never lost a battle, we were defeated by the North Vietnamese through a coordinated propaganda campaign that drew upon the resources of their many collaborators in America (including within the Democrat party). We may have “won” militarily but we “lost” politically. The Vietnamese, certainly, lost economically.

    The result of a similarly self-inflicted defeat in Iraq will be an emboldened global Al-Qaeda jihadi movement. They will rally new recruits to the fight, now that they have demonstrated again and again and again that we (Western Civilization) lack the will to resist. Should the Jihadi movement in Iraq and Iran be allowed to succeed, I suspect that very few peoples and countries in the Middle East and elsewhere will be motivated to cast their lot with us, should this come to pass.

    As OBL put it so eloquently, given the choice between a strong horse and a weak horse, people will select the strong horse. Our defeat in Iraq, should it occur through the defeatism of a majority of our population, will hardly mark the end of war, but rather, the beginning of a much, much bigger war from which we won’t be able to hide.

  12. Don Says:

    OK, out on a limb:

    Our weakened reputation will compel a retreat from global influence, thus enabling a much more dangerous world, but this is only temporary. The next generation will not be hampered by the Vietnam syndrome. Disgusted with 2008-era politics, they will come together in a sort of reversed Iraqi syndrome. This will coincide with global events far more damaging than we’ve had recently (e.g. an Iranian nuclear adventure), and a politically reunified U.S.A. will strike again, far more effectively, in a far more dangerous world. Look for it around 2020 more or less. Hopefully we’ll survive it.

  13. TBinSTL Says:

    Don-
    I wish I could take solace in your theory but I am, most of all, confident that the people that are now championing defeat will continue to dominate in media and academia, transfering their hateful ideologies to generations untold.

  14. Lee Says:

    But, UB, how many times did you have to “start over”?

  15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Says:

    we have introduced a vibrant democratic conversation into a region which NEVER BEFORE had seriously entertained such ideas

    What are you talking about?? Nasser was a democratically elected president of Egypt. We didn’t like him. so we plotted against him. Mossadegh was a democratically elected prime minister of Iran. We didn’t like him, so we made a coup against him and replaced him by the despotic Shah of Iran.

    Read history, Neo.

  16. TIm P Says:

    There has been no military defeat, just a psychological one, and it is self-generated.
    A good question here is self generated by who and why?

  17. Thinkaloud Says:

    I am curious to ask those on the left, what happens if we pull out and we end up with Iraqi body counts tripled and quadrupled, roving gangs (like Mogadishu), and a humanitarian crisis of Iraqis fleeing to the borders — probably, in the kind of numbers where Syria, Iran, and Jordan either will not be able to handle the numbers or more likely will flat out refuse entry creating mass refugee camps.

    Is that your plan?

  18. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Says:

    “I am curious to ask those on the left, what happens if we pull out and we end up with Iraqi body counts tripled and quadrupled, roving gangs (like Mogadishu), and a humanitarian crisis of Iraqis fleeing to the borders — probably, in the kind of numbers where Syria, Iran, and Jordan either will not be able to handle the numbers or more likely will flat out refuse entry creating mass refugee camps.”

    In such a situation, we are morally obliged to give asylum in our country to every Iraqi who wishes it. Remember the pottery barn rule: “You break it, you have to buy it.” We messed up Iraq by invading it and then not providing adequate security and creating the conditions for anarchy and chaos. It is our moral responsibility to Iraqis to accept them now into our country if they want to flee the chaos.

  19. Buck Smith Says:

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,

    Our actions agianst Moassadegh and Nasser should be viewed against the totality of the cold war. We were one the right side in the cold war and we won. Moassadegh, Stalin, Nasser, Castro are the losers.

    Mid-East problems like tendencies to despotism, religious and ethnic conflicts. the schism between Shia and sunni predate G W Bush, Reagan, Ike and the exisitence of the USA.

    Anyone who follows events in Iraq closely knows that we are fighting Al Quaeda there and we are winning.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    Yikes. Over 3,000 words and no clear conclusion, other than:

    What Unk basically means, Neo, is that victory takes too long to think about and it makes his head hurt. Go easy on him, neo!

  21. The Anchoress » Saturday Scan of the ‘Sphere Says:

    [...] checking out Milblogs for the real scoop on Iraq, and Neo-neocon details the difference between defeat and defeatism. Pajamas Media is also featuring imbed journalist Michael Totten and Austin Bay talking more [...]

  22. amr Says:

    Some seem to believe that we can survive another “defeat”. But what is the definition of survive. If we are defeated in any form in Iraq, AQ will follow us home. If there are major attacks on our soil, as we go into a defensive posture, the cry for security at all costs will, I’m afraid, prevail; security over freedom will be the cry. Lincoln infringed severely on the Bill of Rights with military trials, imprisonment and executions of civilians, suspension of habeas corpus, the income tax, the draft, military rule in the former Confederacy and other such infringements on the constitution. It probably was needed, but we restored those rights, but suffered for almost 100 years from the incomplete work and resentment of what was done to achieve a Union victory. We may end up in a no win situation in our time after this defeat. If we keep our freedoms after defeat in Iraq, the 5th columnists supporting terrorism will use our own constitution to defeat us. If we go the way that Lincoln went, I don’t see the politicians of today being able to give up the power they will have obtained. So being the pessimist, I would prefer to win in Iraq, AQ’s acknowledged major front, and set the stage for the defeat of the Islamicfascists rather than risk losing our freedoms or many of our citizen’s lives. The best defense is a good offense.

  23. Don Says:

    TBinSTL -
    Unfortunately I don’t mean to offer solace. History has its cycles, and we simply are not in one in which the U.S. can be clear on its goals and victorious. Things are going to get worse. The country will eventually clarify its mission, but only upon a confluence of nasty external events and the internal development of a generation willing to face crisis. The result will be war for national survival, as in the 1940s or 1860s. I think we’ll prevail. I hope a billion human beings don’t get killed in the process but given the ascending arc of Islamism and another generational shift in Chinese policy and who knows what else … I probably sound like a nut. Oh well.

  24. The Bunnies Says:

    Not entirely nutty, Don. To me, there’s no doubt we’ll win–the issue is whether we’ll loose thousands or millions of us in the process.

    Europe is absolutely clueless on how to stop its internal rot (see brusselsjournal.com), and about a third of us Americans are.

    911 shook us up, but now we think we’re at peace again. I really, really, really, don’t want another major attack on American soil, but I doubt most of us will take this seriously until it happens again.

    We could win now, in short order, but not when our leaders proclaim we’ve already lost. Today we’re studying focus groups, but until the focus groups all say we need to kick major butt, we’ll stall. Someday, the focus groups will all point in the same direction, but I think it will require genuine tragedy to make that happen.

  25. ted Says:

    Wow! Not defeat? As Thomas Jefferson once said “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.” You are an idiot. Wrong about everything from the launch of this war until the end. You are an idiot.

  26. Charlemagne Says:

    If we are defeated in any form in Iraq, AQ will follow us home.If we are defeated in any form in Iraq, AQ will follow us home.

    But AQ can attack us at home even if/while we are in Iraq. Our being in Iraq in no way guarantees that there will not be attacks domestically.

  27. Charlemagne Says:

    Wow! Not defeat? As Thomas Jefferson once said “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.” You are an idiot. Wrong about everything from the launch of this war until the end. You are an idiot.

    It is you who are an idiot. We have not been defeated in Iraq. We have won in Iraq. Our President says so. “Mission: Accomplished”, he said, three years ago.

  28. ted Says:

    Charlemagne

    When Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rice and Rove and tried for war crimes do you think it will look like defeat to Right then?

  29. ted Says:

    “We could win now, in short order,”

    How delusional does one have to be to write something like that. Its been more than four years of ever deteriorating conditions in Iraq. “short order”? Unbelievable.

  30. Lee Says:

    Apparently to the lefties, “defeat” would be Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rice and Rove retiring to a private life and making money publishing their memoirs.
    “Rice or Rovie? The San Francisco treat.

  31. alphie Says:

    Would the people of Vietnam really be better off today if our troops had been fighting the Commies there for the past 34 years?

  32. Lee Says:

    And Charl, by your definition, we lost World War II because we declared “mission accomplished” on Sept. 2, 1945, yet we still occupy Germany and Japan to this day. If ever there was a case for our troops not being needed to secure stable governance and our own security, it would be those, don’t you think? Yet, we are still there. Why? Aren’t they our “allies and friends” now? Haven’t they demonstrated(unlike the current situation in Iraq) they are no military threat to us by now? Or, would you assert that, in fact, we are actually losing WWII because our occupation of them clearly shows we are still fighting it?

  33. Lee Says:

    And the people of Vietnam would have been better off if we had defeated the Commies 34 years ago. As opposed to “cutting our losses and abandoning them” when people like you got too “tired” of war. When we told them if they fought for independence, we would be there to help them, then “cut and run” when the going got tough. Because the left “cared” for the people of Vietnam.

  34. ted Says:

    Lee

    You and your ilk are precisely the reason that the US continues to pick fights that it can’t win. When you have no recognition of the limits of US power you are doomed to keep creating new Iraq-like and Vietnam-like catastrophes. You need to grow up. Your daddy could not beat up all the other daddies.

  35. ted Says:

    “yet we still occupy Germany and Japan to this day.”

    Laughing my ass off.

  36. Lee Says:

    Then let me in on the “joke”, Teddy. The troops in Germany and Japan are there to maintain security and assert our continued influence on those nations defeated by us.
    As far as the “limits” of U.S. power, there was a time when Brewster Buffaloes and P-40 Warhawks were inferior to Zeros and ME-109′s and FW-190′s. Sherman tanks were inferior to MK-4′s, MK-5′s, and MK-6′s. Yet, we didn’t say “we’re clearly limited, therefore we can’t win”. We learned to adapt, improvise, and overcome, despite our “limits”. Why? Because we “had to” in order to achieve victory, despite our “limitations”. The Pacific Fleet at the bottom of Pearl Harbor was pretty “limiting”, too. By your standard, we should have thrown in the towel December 8th.
    And my daddy couldn’t beat up “all the other daddys”, but I’m sure as hell he could beat up yours, based on what a wuss of a son he raised.

  37. Lee Says:

    By the way, “Ted”, don’t you still owe Jon Caldara $1000 when you bet him “Heart Like a Wheel” was a John Lennon song?

  38. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    When Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rice and Rove and tried for war crimes do you think it will look like defeat to Right then?

    I doubt it. The right-wingers have a tremendous talent for playing the victim. In fact they don’t even play the victim, they actually believe themselves to be victims of the “unfair” mainstream media, “partial” academics, and so on ad infinitum.

    So, to answer your question, I doubt that it would look like defeat to them. I don’t think they are capable of taking a hard look at themselves. (Can’t blame them, as the reality and shame would be too awful for them to bear). So, I think they will carry on whining and complaining about how unfair the “libbural media” is being to them and how the media and academics “sabotaged” the great victory they could have won.

    The ancient Greeks had a great word for this type of mindset. The word is hubris.

    My guess is that the hard right has now lost the country for at least one generation, maybe two. Which is not to say, of course, that the Democrats are any better. The Democrats are the flip side of the same coin as the Republicans and are equally opportunist.

    Hopefully the two-party hold we have on our nation’s political system will start to crumble very soon. At least, I hope so.

  39. Lee Says:

    Oh, I see, Deshawn. It’s not because there’s no evidence against them, it’s because they will be indignant about the accusation.

  40. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    census.govreleasesAs far as the “limits” of U.S. power, there was a time when Brewster Buffaloes

    According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the poverty line in the USA is an income of $9800 per year for a family of one, and $20,000 per year for a family of four.

    According to the US Census Bureau, 35.9 million people currently live below this poverty line in the USA. (Of these, about 12 million are children).

    Claims about “unlimited American power” in the face of such alarming poverty statistics at home, are making us the laughing stock of the entire world.

    We are spending 100 billion dollars per year on the war in Iraq when millions of American kids live in poverty. To laugh or to cry?

    http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/002484.html

  41. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    guardian.co.ukWhen Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rice and Rove and tried for war crimes do you think it will look like defeat to Right then?

    Oh, I see, Deshawn. It’s not because there’s no evidence against them, it’s because they will be indignant about the accusation.

    Cheney ‘may be guilty of war crime’

    ·Vice-president accused of backing torture
    ·Claims on BBC by former insider add to Bush’s woes

    Julian Borger in Washington
    Wednesday November 30, 2005
    The Guardian

    Vice-president Dick Cheney’s burden on the Bush administration grew heavier yesterday after a former senior US state department official said he could be guilty of a war crime over the abuse of prisoners.

    Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, singled out Mr Cheney in a wide-ranging political assault on the BBC’s Today programme.

    Mr Wilkerson said that in an internal administration debate over whether to abide by the Geneva conventions in the treatment of detainees, Mr Cheney led the argument “that essentially wanted to do away with all restrictions”.

    Article continues
    Asked whether the vice-president was guilty of a war crime, Mr Wilkerson replied: “Well, that’s an interesting question – it was certainly a domestic crime to advocate terror and I would suspect that it is … an international crime as well.” In the context of other remarks it appeared he was using the word “terror” to apply to the systematic abuse of prisoners.

    The Washington Post last month called Mr Cheney the “vice-president for torture” for his demand that the CIA be exempted from a ban on “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment of detainees.

    Mr Wilkerson, a former army colonel, also said he had seen increasing evidence that the White House had manipulated pre-war intelligence on Iraq to make its case for the invasion. He said: “You begin to wonder was this intelligence spun? Was it politicised? Was it cherry-picked? Did, in fact, the American people get fooled? I am beginning to have my concerns.”

    Mr Cheney has been under fire for his role in assembling evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Mr Wilkerson told the Associated Press that the vice-president must have sincerely believed Iraq could be a spawning ground for terrorism because “otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard”.

    Such charges have kept the Bush administration on the defensive for several months.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1653936,00.html

  42. armchair pessimist Says:

    The humanitarian tragedy of all those Iraquis slaughtering one another would keep me awake at night as much as thinking about all those dead Greeks and Trojans has. But losing all that oil would upset me a lot, as it would you….you…..you…..you….you….you….and you……

  43. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    The humanitarian tragedy of all those Iraquis slaughtering one another would keep me awake at night as much as thinking about all those dead Greeks and Trojans has. But losing all that oil would upset me a lot

    Aha, the cat is out of the bag, I see.

  44. armchair pessimist Says:

    That particular cat has always been out in the open, except to people who believe oil comes from Lollypop Mountain.

  45. Vicenza Says:

    zmag.orghttp://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=74&ItemID=12803

    And you thought they hate us ’cause of our freedoms////

  46. Vicenza Says:

    zmag.orghttp://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=74&ItemID=12803

  47. peterboston Says:

    In proper historical context Iraq is small potatoes as a military adventure. The best any third worlder who takes Iraq as an indicator that they could sucessfully take on the US military one-on-one could hope for is a good morgue shot.

    Whether the US military stays in Iraq in force or not Al Qaeda will be pushed out of the Middle East into Africa. 14 out of 18 Anbar Sunni tribal leaders have already declared war on Al Qaeda squeezing it into smaller and smaller zones. Whether the Sunnis the Shia or the Marines finish them off is irrelevant. Saddam was a Class A enemy of the USA with the intent and the means to create problems for us in the future. Even a far less than perfect present day Iraq is far removed from Saddam’s capability to cause us ill.

    I also think that the fears of a US withdrawal leading to a regional war are overstated. The Sunni know they would be annihilated by the Shia majority if push came to shove. The US military is the shield that would prevent that from happening now although there is still no clear indication that the Shia majority even desire that outcome. If it became apparent that the US would not continue in that role the Sunni would quickly make an accomodation to deter even the possibility.

    And regardless of the immediate outcome the USA will take out of Iraq an experienced core of post-conflict administrators who will write the book and train a professional class for the next post-conflict situation. Iraq will not be the last mini war of the 21st century and the lessons learned, as hard as they may be, are the foundation of future successes.

    So, whether you want to look behind at Iraq or not, its on to Africa. The US military is untouched as the most efficent and most lethal instrument of war ever imagined. And following on will be a professional class of post-conflict administrators who speak economics instead of democracy. It’s a big world and a long war.

  48. Lee Says:

    “…singled out Mr. Cheney in a wide-ranging political assault on the BBC’s Today programme..”
    Well, Deshawn, when Mr. Cheney is singled out in a court of law, be sure to let me know, won’t you?

  49. Lee Says:

    And Deshawn, the cat is out of the bag and into your pants, apparently.
    Do you think the world is laughing because so many we classify as “poor” have two cars, multi-TV homes, cell-phones, $200 sneakers, and I-pods? I wonder….

  50. Lee Says:

    And if it’s that bad in this country, Deshawn, tell me exactly what you are doing about it, that is, besides bitching and whining, crying and groaning? Being one of those classified as “poor” myself, I manage to volunteer at a local church which provides food, clothing, and telephone access to the poor, to help out those who have helped me from time to time. Your substantial contribution is…?

  51. Don Says:

    peterboston-
    Nice writeup. Nice to seem someone else ignoring these chatterers who “debate” all sides so poorly. I can see Africa heating up, as it’s a more convenient staging ground than Afghanistan and a whole lot bigger. But I really don’t want to see American troops going there, ever. Talk about defeat and defeatism, geez.

  52. jainphx Says:

    Lee! I guess your done stinking up Wizbang,and found another blog to spew your particular brand of venom.The sign on the aircraft carrier had nothing to do with Bush and you know it.Victory (if we weren’t a merciful nation) could be minutes away.Your a fool that would rather be stupid than free.

  53. jainphx Says:

    Don’t even start with Viet Nam! I doubt your old enough to have lived through Viet Nam.I was there ,we NEVER lost one battle in country,only here at home.In that respect Iraq is like Nam and only in that respect.It was cowards like Kennedy that caused the lives of millions,and HE wants to do it again.

  54. amr Says:

    The more blog comments I read the more juvenile Americans who comment appear to be. I guess that is what happens when people are allowed to sign on anonymously, in some form, as I obviously have also done. While the less than civil discourse is present on the center and right of center blogs, the left ones are so atrocious even this old submarine veteran has a tough time stomaching them, so I don’t. This has some relationship to the subject at hand. Since civility is going down the toilet, we appear to our enemies and allies to be a house divided which polls seemingly support; and as the saying goes, it can not stand.

  55. Lee Says:

    Wizbang, moi? How “juvenile” of me to engage lefties on their own level. If you want civility, act civilized. Just karma, man. You get what you give.

  56. ted Says:

    The Right is imploding. The religious Right is dead as a political power. Poof! The second enlightment is here.

    How long will you give the GOP? One election cycle and that is it!

  57. ted Says:

    “In fact, the US has never suffered a defeat. … many of us don’t quite understand what it means.”

    Holy crap. You certainly don’t.

  58. Lee Says:

    I wonder what Ted will say when President-elect Guiliani is sworn in.

  59. ted Says:

    I would say “Hey look a snow ball in hell”.

  60. ted Says:

    I knew Neo’s juvenile “In fact, the US has never suffered a defeat” sounded familiar. An excerpt from Wikipedias account of the fight between the Black Knight and King Arthur in Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

    Another sword fight takes place between the Knight and Arthur, which is interrupted when Arthur chops off one of the Knight’s arms. The Knight denies the injury, protesting “’tis but a scratch!” Arthur points out that the Knight has just lost an arm, which the knight categorically denies again. When Arthur points out the Knight’s severed arm lying on the ground, the Knight contemplates it for a moment, then smoothly replies “I’ve had worse.”, then Arthur replies “You Liar!” and resumes the attack. The Knight eventually loses his other arm and his sword as well. Arthur kneels to pray, thanking God for his apparent victory, but the Knight begins kicking Arthur, yelling “Have at you!” Arthur (trying to make the Knight see sense) says “Look you stupid bastard, you’ve got no arms left”, and the Knight replies “Yes I have” Arthur says “look”, “It’s just a flesh wound” says the Knight and continues to kick and taunt Arthur. He loses one leg to Arthur’s sword, but insists on continuing the fight, hopping about on his remaining leg and crying “Right! I’ll do you for that! Come here!” Arthur, completely fed up by this point, sarcastically remarks, “What are you going to do, bleed on me?” to which the Knight screams “I’m invincible!” Arthur replies “You’re a loony!” The Knight is still intent on fighting Arthur, hopping up against him and madly proclaiming “The Black Knight always triumphs! Have at you!” Arthur finally hacks off the Knight’s remaining leg.

    After Arthur has hacked off all of his limbs, the knight looks down at what remains of his body, then looks up at Arthur who congenially declares “All right, we’ll call it a draw.” Arthur and Patsy resume their journey, while the Knight fumes impotently at them. “Running away, eh?! You yellow bastards, come back here and take what’s coming to you! I’ll bite your legs off!”

  61. Lee Says:

    After indulging himself in dungeons and dragons like fantasies, perhaps Ted could name the “actual” battle the U.S. military has lost tactically, operationally, or strategically. Obviously, Vietnam was a political loss, but the point Neo is making is that the U.S. has never lost recently on the “actual” field of battle. Well, Ted?

  62. Lee Says:

    Satan better own a jacket.

  63. Lee Says:

    Still no answer, Ted? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  64. Dean's World Says:

    “Defeat” vs. “Defeatism”…

    As per usual, Neo has a terrific essay….

  65. sergey Says:

    Recently I have read a brilliant essay of K.G. Chesterton “New Yerusalem”, his traveler’s notes about piligrimage to British Mandate Palestine. Among many surprisingly actual themes there was consideration on defeat of Crusaders in Palestine and its repercussions. He makes a strong case that this defeat precipitated a centuries long decline of Western civilization, “lost of heart” for very promissing development associated with rise of chivalry and restoring of old Roman Empire under Papacy. This was the end of Reconquista, that is, rebuilding of origional realm of Christendom including not only Europe, but also North Africa and Middle East. If Saracenes were then thrown back to Arabia and Asian part of Turkey, Greece would posess now Konstantinopole and Mediterranean coasts of Asia, Syria and Lebanon were Chistian, and prospects for the whole of the West much more bright than they are now. But it is still possible to return these terrories to their original masters after sound defeat of Islam!

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About Me

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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