“That Shall Never Call Retreat…”

Bush/Blair made it clear at their newsie today that we are engaged in a global struggle not to restore the "old-think" of the post Westphalia search for stability in the world, but rather to conquer the world for "good," for better and more worthy ideas.  The acknowledgment was made that the enemy is also motivated by ideas but their ideas are "bad."  At the end of the 30 Years War, a war fought largely over religious belief and allegiance, the treaty system that merged created the modern state system, and established the principle that stability in the principle of state sovereignty was needed to limit the scope and extent of future wars.  This set of principles worked well when it was not corrupted by ideological madmen like Hitler.

We did this once before in this country.  We fought it out over the ideas of nationalism, state sovereignty and eventually the abolition of slavery.  There were a million casualties, and the best men of a generation died.  Once it started and the grip of ideas took over, then there was no way to stop the war short of total victory or defeat.  All, all was sacrificed to that goal.  Habeas Corpus? A triviality suspended by Lincoln until he could suspend it no more.

Antietambodies51204_1 These are Confederate dead at Sharpsburg, Maryland.  Somehow the bodies in the photographs are always Confederate except for that poor Black man in Alexandria, Virgina with his back cut to ribbons.

Now we are committed to a new war of ideology which may soon become a war of all against all.  Will it last more than 30 years this time?

I thought the British had more sense.

Pat Lang


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64 Responses to “That Shall Never Call Retreat…”

  1. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I am not as pessimistic as you since I believe there is no way to finance these wars.

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    We financed all of WW2 with fiat money and debt. pl

  3. hk says:

    I’ve always found comparisons (of one war or another) to the Civil War (or, to a lesser extent, the wars of the French Revolution.) particularly disturbing: very few people today will say that we shouldn’t have fought the Civil War, that the slaves shouldn’t have been freed (even though, as most of us here know, I expect, freeing slaves was incidental rather than fundamenal to the Civil War.). I suppose, had the Habsburgs somehow “won,” no doubt there’d be people who might say the 30 years’ war was somehow “worth it,” that “Lutherian heresy” should have been put deown at any cost. Does this mean that we (the Americans, that is) are still a bit too naive, too unaccustomed to the bloodiness of costliness of wars to realize how dangerous this business is?

  4. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Thanks for the freshman history lesson.
    It does mean that naive and idealistic fools are not up to living with the decisions that are being made with regard to future history.
    Gonna join up when the bugle blows? pl

  5. Freeman says:

    I thought that humanity had more sense. But perhaps not.
    Unfortunately, Hizbulla did not sign up to the Treaty of Westphalia. So what to do? Grow a beard, put our women in black sacks and convert to Islam? No thanks.

  6. confusedponderer says:

    In the 30 year war the German people paid the price for the amtitions of the neighbours, and religious zeal generally. If such a war is going to emerge, the Arabs will take that role, and pay a tremendous price.
    New bit in this is that this time it is not cheap war on foreign soil for the external actors. Retribution for foreign meddlers is delivered to their homeland by groups like Al Quaeda. The West will share the suffering.
    The Madrid and London bombings give an idea of what to expect then.

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I presume that yours was not a serious response.
    How about acting like this is a problem with a few thousand fanatics who need to be exterminated and states who have to be dealt with as states rather than the “dark side of the force.” pl

  8. Matthew says:

    The British are caught: You have a PM who values visits to the WH more than his own popularity at home. What is the intoxicating quality of the Oval Office? (Never been there, so can’t say!) To me this struggle is so 19th Century. B & B apparently believe the natives in the ME have no right to develop without “our” permission. Notice how they never ask the Arabs what they want? Am I speaking heresy? There is no sense–nor historical appreciation–for where we are heading. We are on the wrong side of history. Colonialism is dead, dead, dead…The war will end like our last colonial war with people cheering over our failure. How sad.

  9. Steve Kimbrough says:

    Am very sympathetic with the original post. I wonder about this, however: Wouldn’t the prudent thing for a state be to stay out of it? If the US and the Brits want to take on all of Islam, and even more, just let them. It’s a form of arbitrage, and a wise one if it can be implemented. Basically, I’m thinking of an agressive form of neutrality: stay out, look for economic opportunities (on offense or defense) and pressure all belligerents economically. After all, Europe and Brazil are not the weaklings that Melos was. What could the US do about it?

  10. Freeman says:

    Col: Sorry to be contrary, but mine was a serious response — as is the forceful Israeli action.
    As I see matters, there is not a unitary state (Lebanon)with which we can effectively negotiate.
    Hezbullah may comprise only a few thousand fighters, but they swim in a sea of supporters, part supporters and coerced supporters, all of which blend into each other and are difficult to identify individually.
    Their core position is one of no compromise: you cannot argue with the Koran.
    Given this tragic set-up it would seem that conflict is inevitable until the weakest goes to the wall.
    Any cease-fire granted is just an interlude to gather strength and resupply.
    The consequencies hardly bear thinking about.

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Absolute rubbish.
    The Jihadi threat is in no way an existential threat to the USA.
    Which country are you worried about?

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    WWII was a make or break war for US. This is not.
    I would hope that US & EU states, and Japan recognize that they cannot maintain social welfare for their citizens, maintain a dominant military, and compete in the global economy at the same time.
    They have to give up one of the three.

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Steve Kimbrough:
    Prudence would be a useful virtue for a hyper-power; she has the most to use.
    In fact, a hyper-power ought to be conservative.

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I disagree: without the slaves there would not have been a Civil War.

  15. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Babak, Babak
    You are missing the point. Look at the amount of fantastical crap that is being written in comment for this item.
    Did you know that Islamic zealots are going to conquer us and force our “gringo” women to wear the hijab. Did you know that?
    Propaganda induced war fever rules the land encouraged by the head of state.
    In the long ago ideological war that these folks feel so good about, the great threat was the menace of the “slave power” which was said to wish to rule the North.
    What crap! And so is this. pl

  16. John Howley says:

    Another supply-line problem has arisen north of the border (Scotland). Apparently, folk in Glasgow aren’t amused that bombs intended for Beirut are being transshipped through Prestwick ariport.
    See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/5223444.stm.
    Many Labour MPs are from Scotland, including top ministers like Gordon Brown.
    Sounds like the “poodle” is still on Bush’s leash, though.
    Remember that UK troops are nose-to-nose with Shiite militiamen in Basra.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I am aware of the “crap” from both sides of this; that’s why I pointed out to the religious aspect of this in an earlier posting.
    I wanted to say that war has to be financed and the chances of it happening is small.
    About Purdah/Hijab/Chador: you must admit that it would be great for ugly women.

  18. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You have learned your lesson well about the Great War!!
    And without the murders of Hussein and Hassan there would never have been shiism.

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Your point is well taken about the ugly ones.
    Some of the Europeans whom I see running around naked on Jerba in Tunisia would be better off in chador. pl

  20. lina says:

    And may I just say I’m offended and outraged by our team of experts (Condi, et. al.) and their cheerleaders who dismiss a cease fire as just some temporary band aid. I’d like to see every single person who disdains a cease fire dropped into the war zone – today.

  21. CJ says:

    Babak –
    I don’t know about Europe or Japan, but I’d guess social welfare is going to get (got) the heave ho in the US…..

  22. BadTux says:

    We financed WW2 by converting the U.S. economy into a centrally-managed Communist system for the duration of the war, where fiat money and debt were issued but the basis of the military machine became forced conversion of civilian property to military use (e.g. Packard’s tooling being shoved out of the Packard factory and replaced with equipment to make Merlin engines, which basically ruined the Packard Corporation), elimination of all “luxury” items such as civilian automobiles from production, and severe rationing and price controls upon all “staple” items in order to disguise the fact that the fiat money was worthless. The quality of life and standard of living for the average American during WWII was even worse than during the Great Depression. The only reason the American people tolerated it was because national survival was at stake.
    The Bushevik neocons are trying their darndest to convince the American people that terrorists threaten the very survival of America, but it would be a hard sale if the American people had to suffer actual privation. This is why mobilizing the entire resources of America to fight the Vietnam war was never considered — arguing that the Viet Cong were going to wade ashore in San Diego and conquer America just didn’t pass the laugh-and-giggle test. Similarly, the notion that Osama bin Laden’s bunch is going to wade ashore on Miami Beach and conquer America… again, doesn’t pass the laugh-and-giggle test. Japan and Germany, on the other hand, had clear expansionist goals and large war machines already out there conquering other countries. There was no laughing and giggling about the notion that America was on their target list. But mobilizing America like that to fight “terrorism”? Not happening. Simply politically impossible. Even the fat and intellectually lazy American people aren’t that stupid.
    What’s going to happen is similar to Vietnam — issuing of large amounts of government debt, increasing stress upon the economy as resources that could be put into productive use are instead put into military use (which does not add anything to the supply of goods and services available within the economy), until eventually the government is forced to devalue the dollar by printing money in order to default on the debt the only way that modern nation-states seem to be able (i.e., by devaluing their currency to make the debt worthless) and, as in the 1970’s, we end up with massive stagflation.
    But note that this strategy has a limited shelf life. Within eight years of adopting that strategy in 1965, the U.S. was out of Vietnam, because the currency was well on its way to being worthless, the economy turned into a shambles by 15% GDP war spending, the Army a shambles, and the citizenry upset. You can follow the Vietnam Strategy for financing a war in the absense of a threat to national survival for only so long before you end up out of money and out of power.

  23. ckrantz says:

    The basic assumption is that all people want to live in a liberal free-trade western style democracy and if the bad guys are pushed back significantly the people will rise up and overthrough there oppressors like they did in the eastern europe. Or am I missing something.
    The administration ME policy in short. I found the Bush answer instructive.

  24. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    The war against Japan was also a religious war.

  25. Hedley Lamar says:

    Was the Thirty Years’ War really about religion?
    The first half of it was partly about religion–crushing Protestantism in Bohemia, Ferdinand II’s Edict of Restitution. But by the mid-1630s the war had turned into a straightforward struggle for dynastic power. Westphalia simply established in international law a situation which already existed in most of Europe: sovereign territorial states with absolute legal authority within their own boundaries.
    As a history teacher I always tend to get antsy over analogies. But if the neocons resemble any party to the 30YW, it’s the Austrian Hapsburgs trying to impose a supranational and hegemonic order on dynastic states.
    I’d really rather not push things any further than that…dinnertime approaches.

  26. john says:

    “BUSH: It’s an interesting period because, instead of having foreign policies based upon trying to create a sense of stability, we have a foreign policy that addresses the root causes of violence and instability.
    For a while, American foreign policy was just, ‘Let’s hope everything is calm’ — kind of, managed calm. But beneath the surface brewed a lot of resentment and anger that was manifested on September the 11th.
    And so we’ve taken a foreign policy that says: On the one hand, we will protect ourselves from further attack in the short run by being aggressive in chasing down the killers and bringing them to justice.
    And make no mistake: They’re still out there, and they would like to harm our respective peoples because of what we stand for.
    In the long term, to defeat this ideology — and they’re bound by an ideology — you defeat it with a more hopeful ideology called freedom.” (WAPO http://www.washingtonpost.com/
    Based on what Mr. Bush said in his news conference today thirty years will not be sufficient. Ernst Junger in “Total Mobilization” writes: “Shirking the war [WWI] was all the less possible in proportion to the degree of their [the public’s] conviction—hence in proportion to the purity with which the resounding words moving them to action had a progressive content” (129-130). Or as Mussolini puts it “I believe that if a people wish to live they should develop a will to power, otherwise they vegetate, live miserably and become prey to a stronger people, in whom this will to power is developed to a higher degree” (Speech to the Senate, May 28, 1926).
    Absent a true existential threat, “[p]ropaganda induced war fever rules the land encouraged by the head[s] of state” (pl).
    The big question is can Messrs Bush and Blair turn Islamic terrorism into an all-engrossing existential threat to Western civilization? Or, might we be better off waiting for the much-anticipated China threat?

  27. ptcruiser says:

    Freeing the slaves may have been incidental to why so many northerners fought in the Civil War but the institution of slavery and the threat its proponents and supporters posed to the Republic should certainly be considered as a, if not the, substantive cause of the war. Southern slavers and politicians dreamed of creating a slave empire that would have extended as far west as the Pacific Ocean and as far south as Central America.
    Given the fact that the Founders, many of whom were slave owners, had incorporated slavery into the nation’s constitution by, among other things, granting slave owners the right to count slaves as three-fifths of a vote virtually ensured that the south would control or significantly influence critical aspects of the national government for perpetuity. Southern states and their citizens would have continued to receive a highly disproportionate representation in Congress and influence in presidential elections.

  28. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Thanks for making my point. You are a perfect example of the kind of emotionalism that drives wars of hatred to the ultimate and that is where we are going. pl

  29. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Japan? How do you get to that argument? pl

  30. W. Patrick Lang says:

    There isn’t an iota of evidence about what you claim to have been the ambitions of the “slave power.” What are you going to quote, the ravings of some abolitionist journal or some equally mad agronomist in the South?
    3/5ths representation in the House for slaves? The North wanted them to be represented not at all. You know that.
    You are unhappy with “popular sovereignty” for forming states in the jointly owned national territories? You make my point about bigotry yet again. This is your idea of justice?
    No matter.
    The important thing is that so many people still hate or despise so much after so long.
    New Orleans – Katrina. A great outcry arose that the evil in the hearts of Southern white people was responsible for the suffering of fellow Louisianians and Mississippians.
    No basis, just hatred but it led to proposals to set aside state sovereignty in favor of federal (read Northern) supervision.
    And what do you think is going to happen to the Muslims? pl

  31. ikonoklast says:

    Steve K –
    Even if the fighters in the south are dangerous extremists there’s no getting around the fact that Hizballah is – was? -represented in the Lebanese government, elected to seats there.
    If democracy is supposed to reflect the will of the people, and it’s a fair election, you get what you get, for better or worse. Too bad the current crop of fantasists, who apparently expected a mythical middle America clone, won’t accept this and work with it. But of course you can’t sell much military hardware by negotiating cease-fires, and denial seems to have become the mainstay of US foreign policy anyway. The President’s Chief of Staff from Meet the Press:
    MR. RUSSERT: But you have free elections in Iraq, and the head of the parliament calls us butchers. You have free elections in Palestine, and Hamas wins. You have elections in Lebanon, and Hezbollah wins 10–12 seats in the parliament and two Cabinet seats. Free elections are no guarantee of democracy.
    MR. BOLTEN: Free elections are a necessary ingredient to democracy, but—democracy in a free society—but you’re right, they are no guarantee, but they are an essential part. And I believe that although the path is, is a difficult one, it’s the right path for the United States and the world to be on.
    Or, as W.T. Sherman observed, “Vox populi – vox humbug!”

  32. Question says:

    Col, Thanks for your post and the educational comments. There is tremedous sadness to see what seems to be a big shift toward a nightmarish century. Do you think there will be a conflict in or around Kirkuk? There seems to be an inexorable movement toward conflict that will benefit no one. But to point that out is seen as partisan, rather than common sense. Historical comparisons are limited, but what else is there. Is there a way out? A while ago Gen. Odom spoke about the logic of withdrawl from Iraq and he seemed to make sense and he warned of the consequences of ‘staying the course.’ Unfortunately, people in power have not been able to stop doing what their doing. They are convinced- and it is worrisome.

  33. pbrownlee says:

    Let’s hear it for “managed calm” — and keep abstaining from Kool-Aid.
    As for the “we can’t afford it” argument, was there ever a conflict that ended because of an urgent audit and a call from the accountants?

  34. Carroll says:

    Well I am not a genius but my lying eyes tell me this whole Islamic radical boggie man hysteria as a threat to US proper has been worked and hyped to the nth degree.
    It just seems like pile of shit to me with no pony in there….just a lot of whacko agendas and bills and i.o.u’s….and dead people.

  35. b says:

    pl – You are a perfect example of the kind of emotionalism that drives wars of hatred to the ultimate and that is where we are going. pl
    This thread is the first where I sense you believe the crazies are winning.
    Something in the last 24h has changed your mind to that.
    I really would like to learn what that item has been. The preparation orders to the 82nd?

  36. Hedley Lamar says:

    The quality of life and standard of living for the average American during WWII was even worse than during the Great Depression. The only reason the American people tolerated it was because national survival was at stake.
    There was another big reason why Americans tolerated it.
    Full employment. Factories working three shifts a day.
    More jobs available than Americans had seen since 1929. And with union contracts to boot.
    Combine regular take-home pay with rationing and wartime restrictions on durable goods manufacturing and the result was massive savings. A big reason why the US economy took off after the war.
    So from a strictly economic standpoint WW2 was nothing but good news for this country.
    Particularly since thanks partly because of wartime devastation in Europe and Asia more than half the manufactured goods on the planet were Made in the USA.
    You could argue that for the past 60 years the US has been pissing away all the relative advantages it gained during WW2.

  37. Frank Durkee says:

    What is the present and potential impact of the IDF’s relatively slow ability to run the terrorists out of the disputed territory?

  38. Hedley Lamar says:

    3/5ths representation in the House for slaves? The North wanted them to be represented not at all. You know that.
    You are unhappy with “popular sovereignty” for forming states in the jointly owned national territories

    Historical reality check here. The reason why Northerners at the Phila. Convention didn’t want slaves to count was that they weren’t citizens and couldn’t vote. So, the reasoning went, why should they be counted as citizens and voters for the purposes of Congressional apportionment? Southerners, who had always regarded slaves as mere chattel, suddenly became very insistent that they be considered equivalent to citizens for the purposes of apportionment–because that would naturally inflate the Southern share of Congressional seats.
    BTW, it was a Northerner–Stephen Douglas–who championed the popular sovereignty notion about slavery in the territories. Southerners only went along with the idea when they thought they could rig territorial elections–as they tried repeatedly to do in Kansas Territory in the 1850s. The real Southern position–first set forth by Calhoun–was that the Fifth Amendment protected slavery in every territory regardless of how the majority of the settlers voted. Which is why there was such great Southern rejoicing when the Taney Court substantially endorsed Calhoun’s view in the Dred Scott case.

  39. W. Patrick Lang says:

    American history was not my point on this. what I am pointing out is that the “inner demons,” when released are hard to restrain.
    Righteousness is seldom the property of one side in these things. we should remember that. pl

  40. LG says:

    Actually slaves weren’t represented at all. Three-fifths of them were used to increase the representation of their masters. When ex-slaves finally got representation, after “The Late Unpleasantness” it gave rise to the Ku Klux Klan, South Carolina Red Shirts and other terrorist organizations determined to disenfranchise them once more. I think that the reaction to Katrina was more the absolute incompetence of the Bush administration than hatred of blacks, but there was certainly an effort made to disenfranchise them both in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. As for the ambitions of the “slave power”, the whole point of the Dredd Scott decision and the Fugitive Slave Law was that neither slaves nor ex-slaves were safe anywhere, because slavery could could be enforced anywhere – even in the “Free States.” Anyway, that’s my take on the subject.

  41. LG says:

    I see Hedley Lamar beat me to it – and spelled Dred Scott correctly to boot.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    About the war against Japan:
    My ideas are based on here-say from people who were there.
    But, there is also this:
    An issue of the Time magazine from the period where a young American woman contemplates a Japanese skull sent back to her on the front cover. The practice of boiling the Japanese heads and sending the skulls back to US seems to have been frequent.

  43. jang says:

    “Propaganda induced war fever rules the land encouraged by the head of state.” Thank you Col. Lang.

  44. pbrownlee says:

    There is also that quaint gambler’s prejudice that having run many risks with conspicuous lack of success we must keep going or all our losses are gone forever – “Our sacrifices will not be in vain”.
    When you hear that, you know there’s trouble.

  45. zanzibar says:

    “Righteousness is seldom the property of one side in these things. we should remember that.” pl
    So well said!!
    PL, your analysis and view points through the months of visiting your blog have been so on the money! Your nuanced insight is much appreciated in this sea of emotional rhetoric where base instincts prevail and where there are no shades of grey and tolerance of other view points than the “orthodoxy” is heresy.
    My American layman’s 2 cents.
    The jihadists are a small minority in Muslim majority states, although by their loud voices and violent actions seem larger. Conflating the jihadists with the thinking of the muslim majority and the countries they inhabit is an error. And extreme fundamentalists and fanatics exist in all religions. One could argue that in the early formation of the state of Israel, the zionists successfully used terrorist tactics.
    These radical fanatics like the jihadists mostly thrive in environments of chaos such as failed states where the social fabric has broken down. The conditions for the marginalization of these fanatics is just the opposite. An environment where the majority have a stake in stability and the pursuit of their life goals and an opportunity to vent frustration and a sense of shaping their destiny. In such an environment the jihadists would be flushed out and the more benign fundamentalists would remain as a fringe.
    IMO, the rise of contemporary jihadism has roots in the inability to achieve a compromise in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the feeling of humiliation and subjugation on the part of the Palestinians and I would argue the majority in the Arab and Persian lands. And then the use of Islamic fundamentalists as a guerilla force by the US to defeat the Soviet expansionism in Afghanistan.
    The problem that we have now is that we did not administer any antidote to the jihadists once they were unleashed. With no military balance and a superpower with overwhelming firepower and an administration bent on using this firepower to achieve their nebulous political goals the “new world order” is shaking the world of its moorings. The US over the past 5 years has been taken over by the Cheney led neocon crowd who have overwhelmed Bush with his inexperience and “messiah” impulse and are now using the “ideology” of good vs bad, IMO, as a smoke-screen in a new neo-colonial enterprise that benefits elites and that weakens the social fabric in muslim majority countries and exacerbates their social tensions. With no restraints at home through an ideologically driven congressional majority, a weak opposition party and an intense propaganda machinery that has coopted the corporate media they have been able to experiment with their delusional theories in the use of secrecy, unchecked executive authority and force as the basis for social change. As a result we are throwing out the window the notion that the US can and should be a force for moderation and stability in the world, bringing people together and respecting diversity of experience, custom and thought in the true heritage of our constitutional democracy.
    The biggest concern I have is the hijacking of our constitutional framework such an ideological polarization could engender. Unless balance can be achieved here at home it is highly unlikely we can be a force for balance in the rest of the world.
    “Now we are committed to a new war of ideology which may soon become a war of all against all.” -PL
    I hope and pray for the sake of our children that the American people will come to their senses and this will not come to pass.

  46. The Agonist says:

    Status Quo Versus Revolutionary Power

    So very, very exceptional, as in American exceptionalism:
    One thing is for certain, until these conflicts are solved once and for all, they’ll continue to flare up like the current fighting in Lebanon. More evidence of the dangers of peace and the usel

  47. hk says:

    I second the colonel’s last comment: a common reaction by many (often including myself) when challenged on the propriety of my value system is to start rationalizing, “correctly” or not, as to why my value system is somehow “right.” We believe them to be “true” and “just”–as a matter of faith–and we hate to be challenged. Historically, we’ve seen this among the colonialists of the 19th century, many of whom believed sincerely imperialism was a good thing and anyone who thought otherwise was an apologist for backwardness; we’ve seen this on the part of victimologists on the other hand who thought every problem that the global South had was due to imperialism by the (global) North and anyone who said otherwise was an apologist for imperialism. Some form of “fanaticism” is a difficult habit to break, and what’s worse, they tend to make themselves a perverse moral obligation for the believers to undertake–and the temptation for “action” becomes greater when you have the actual means to undertake. Compromise, whether with the reality, or worse, with the supposed source of “evil,” as prudence and restraint prescribe, becomes immoral, betrayal of one’s principles…and, gosh, one can’t have that, right? There is something inherently likeable, I think, about Talleyrands of the world, someone absolutely devoid of principles and always willing to name his price–but only for rental and not for purchase. You can deal with these guys. On the other hand, I feel disgusted with moral absolutists, the Gandhis of the world. Thank God that too many of them got actual power to do anything beyond talk.

  48. confusedponderer says:

    the point that Westfalia simply wrote dowen the principal power situation in a legal document is the very point. Westfalia is very pragmatic. Today we have in south Lebanon a de facto Hezbollah state. The sensible approach would be to accept this reality.
    The Bush administration cannot get themselves through to that because this simpletons reward the nice guys (or what they see that way) and ignore the bad guys (everyone they consider evil). All this moral clarity nonsense (it only moves the moral problem elsewhere) …. Result is that they have lost any leverage whatsoever with the bad guys.
    I mean, huh, atm they cannot offer Iran anything but not to bomb them. That’s as self-imposed (in the sense of: unnessesary, avoidable) as it is disingenious. It reminds me of Baldrick in Black Adder: ‘I have a cunning plan …!’ Putin gave Bush a good taste of how such clownery is received – with ridicule at best. I, too, enjoyed Putin’s riposte.
    Besides, PL, those fanatics that are to be eradicated could include a good number of Israeli zealots, too. I find it outright brazen for neo-cons to demand Lebanon to have their civil war with hezbollah, right now please, so Israel can live in peace and has the back free to merrily pummel Gaza. Maybe, for a sustainable political solution, Israel needs top have their civil war, too, to reduce their number of crackpot zealots.
    But then, I am carfeful calling for something like that because the consequences are unpredictable, see Hezbollah’s surprising emergence. Those who count on ‘creative destruction’ as a solution to an inconvenient status quo should heed that lesson.
    By letting loose the war in hope to solve an annoying problem, they act no less dumb like the European powers of 1914 who hoped that the force of arms would purify the political landscape. They were mistaken.

  49. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The war in the Pacific was waged with a ferocity born of racial animosity, anger at what American saw as unprovoked attack and a revulsion at Japanese behavior at places like Nanking in china. The character of the Japanese military code of Bushido also insured that the actual combats would be fought out at close quarters, often hand to hand.
    I do not see religion in this on the US side. pl

  50. J says:

    something that always seems to rumble in the background in any war, wheither uts 5, 10, 30, or 1400 years long — who gains financially (power), and who is paying financially to gain financially? who are its bankers/power brokers?

  51. b says:

    Speaking of retreat:
    IDF leaves Bint Jbail; 6 soldiers hurt in clashes with Hezbollah
    Israel Defense Forces troops pulled out of the southern Lebanon town of Bint Jbail on Saturday afternoon, after clashes with Hezbollah left six soldiers wounded and some 26 guerillas dead.

    During the day’s fighting, a joint force of Paratroopers and soldiers from the Golani Brigade seized Hezbollah equipment including five anti-tank missiles, 30 hand grenades, 41 clips and 10 bullet proof vests./endquote/
    Bint Jbail is very symbolic. In 2000 Nassrallah did hold a speech there when the last Israeli occupation soldier was withdrawn from Lebanon.
    The IDF had been fighting over the town for a week and has lost like 10 men in the battle. At one point the IDF had claimed to own the town.
    To have to retreat now with nothing but a few captured handgranates to prove they were there must be a deep shock for the sould of the IDF.
    I am afraid this shock will turn into a scream for revange and more slaughter of Lebanese civilians.

  52. avedis says:

    BadTux; “…. arguing that the Viet Cong were going to wade ashore in San Diego and conquer America just didn’t pass the laugh-and-giggle test…”
    PL; “American history was not my point on this. what I am pointing out is that the “inner demons,” when released are hard to restrain.”
    I would say that another “demon” that has been raised from the collective underworld is fear itself. For many Americans the laugh and giggle test is passed with regards to AQ and, perhaps, other terrorists groups. Many Americans do see an existential threat posed through the possibility of large scale WMD attacks.
    Also, on another point, while I don’t see any administration asking – let alone demanding – blood, sweat and tears (or cash) from Americans (outside of professional military volunteers), in order to finance what may come, I do see the fiat methodology being implemented. Slimy politicians are concerned with votes today, the debt will be someone else’s problem in some future generation.

  53. avedis says:

    PL, Quick note on the Pacific theater in WW2….in addition to what you wrote there was also the Bushido code of fighting to the death. Surrender was a humiliation, a disgrace that few could bear.
    This morality ensured that islands campaigns could only be won with the complete extermination of the Japanese forces. There was no quarter asked and no quarter given.
    The attitude of many line company Marines was that if the Japanese didn’t care about their own lives, then why should Marines. If the Japanese goal was to die “gloriously” for the emperor, then Marines would be happy to oblige them; all the sooner to end the campaign and get out alive and in one piece.
    Finally, the Japanese were extremely treacherous e.g. feigning surrender only to have a grenade drop out of a loin cloth or from behind the back when close enough to kill or wound Americans.

  54. John says:

    “was there ever a conflict that ended because of an urgent audit and a call from the accountants?”
    Good question. Worth looking at rotated 180 degrees and applying managed calm.
    As the Soviet Union consolidated satellites immediately after WWII, Eisenhower asked of Churchill, what do we do. Churchill replied, we wait. Ike asked, how long. Churchill said, 50 years. In 50 years time the Soviet Union had been dead for more than 10. The implosion had many causes, chief among them was economic hypocrisy.
    Bravo for managed calm.

  55. McGee says:

    Your comment is spot on – always follow the money. If you think US policy is crafted by a “military-industrial complex”, check out Israel. In the immortal words of the Bachmann Turner Overdrive “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet”!

  56. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I concede your point.

  57. Freeman says:

    Col: Thanks for your robust response.
    You say that there is not an existential threat to the USA (agreed), and ask which country I am worried about.
    Answer: Iran.

  58. ali says:

    The Israelis are fighting what in the long term is a genuine existential struggle; their neighbors don’t wish them well. They are an invasive belligerent presence that has good reason to lash out fearfully. For many in the region it is an old race war of Jew against Arab. Like the more culturally adaptive Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem Israel is unlikely to survive in the long term.
    DC currently encourages the delusion that America is under similar threat from the radical fringes of the Umma and this is eagerly accepted by too many. Even considering the shock of 9-11 it is reminiscent of the irrational racial fears the Nazis built their war machine on. It is contemptible for any grown man to swallow this hogwash.
    Mark Kleiman via http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/2006/07/morality_and_the_warfighting.html
    “Our civilization is not at risk. To think so reflects cowardice. To persuade others that we are at risk is to spread cowardice. Podhoretz’s tough-guy persona hides either a man too terrified to think like a civilized human being or a man who hopes to terrify his fellow-citizens into supporting policies he favors for other reasons. He’d make a good teller of scary stories around a Boy Scout campfire. As a strategic thinker, he’d have to improve a lot to be contemptible.”

  59. wtofd says:

    PL, late to the debate but grateful for it nonetheless:
    “Freeman I presume that yours was not a serious response.
    How about acting like this is a problem with a few thousand fanatics who need to be exterminated and states who have to be dealt with as states rather than the “dark side of the force.” pl
    Isn’t this the crux of the America’s inability to understand the Middle East? The people/administration confuse jihadis with governments and nations and lump them all under the misleading, umbrella term of “Arabs?”

  60. wtofd says:

    PL, late to the debate but grateful for it nonetheless:
    “Freeman I presume that yours was not a serious response.
    How about acting like this is a problem with a few thousand fanatics who need to be exterminated and states who have to be dealt with as states rather than the “dark side of the force.” pl
    Isn’t this the crux of the America’s inability to understand the Middle East? The people/administration confuse jihadis with governments and nations and lump them all under the misleading, umbrella term of “Arabs?”

  61. canuck says:

    Ali, Great article.
    The way to defeat terrorism is through international policing and intelligence agencies, not by invading other countries, replacing their leadership, then leaving occupation forces to attempt to mop up restoring order. Wars that repeat the genocide of WWII have no place in a civilized world. Terrorists are murderers and need to be brought to justice. Adopting their tactics or using wars to annihilate populations have no claim to morality. The Geneva Conventions, the Hague, and the UN have come far as a means of settling disputes and helping to prevent wars. Life is far too precious to keep squandering it on wars that are dependent on the victimization of the civilian population. Israel is at the turning point; hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands have become refugees—to win she would need to commit genocide. Her tanks are massing at the border. If Israel proceeds, she will be condemned, just as the Nazi’s were. Negotiated settlements don’t achieve total victory for either combatant, and aren’t very glamorous, but peace agreements do lend moral clarity to disputes which often don’t equate to justice. Martin Luther King once wrote: “ Law doesn’t change the heart nor restrain the heartless.” Morality is lost on unwilling societies. Constitutions and laws do provide frameworks for people to decide whether to act or to refrain, based on principles of equality and an inherent right to life for all.

  62. jonst says:

    more to bolster PL’s theory/fear.

  63. Freeman says:

    canuk: I support much of your theory and your sentiment. What Israel is doing now is like a biblical wrath, and it may rebound.
    For some statistical perspective, recall that last month in Iraq the Moslim brothers killed approx 3,100 of each other, compared with the current Israeli kill rate in Lebanon of about 500 per month.
    Nevertheless, a tragedy on all fronts.

  64. Arun says:

    …this is a problem with a few thousand fanatics who need to be exterminated and states who have to be dealt with as states rather than the “dark side of the force.” pl
    What is your take on Pakistan?

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