Friday, July 21, 2006

Lincoln and Iran 


Donald Sensing at Winds of Change quotes Lincoln: "One war at a time." , quoted in agreement with George Will's rebuke of Bill Kristol's call for confronting Iran.

George Won't:

"So, the Weekly Standard says:

"We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions -- and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

"Why wait?" Perhaps because the U.S. military has enough on its plate in the deteriorating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which both border Iran. And perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq. And if Bashar Assad's regime does not fall after the Weekly Standard's hoped-for third war, with Iran, does the magazine hope for a fourth?" ..............

Lincoln was right to reject calls for war with England, even though they were helping the Confederacy. You don't fight the Other while fighting your brother, illustrated by Teddy Roosevelt's experience; his father was an advisor to Lincoln, while his maternal uncles served on the British-built Alabama. A civil war and a foreign war would be too much for almost any nation.

One could argue that this is what happened during Viet Nam and it was the foreign war that gave way--another reason why the Left is so eager to replicate the Viet Nam model.

I disagree with Will that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are deteriorating. But I also disagree on a larger point; "wars". Plural.

First, we are already engaged in conflict with Iran, who are supplying the funds, training, manpower , IEDs and the IEDology used against our troops in Iraq. One can debate the wisdom of entering a larger conflict with Iran--but when and if we do, it will not be a "third or fourth war"; it will be another campaign in the same war, the war that Newt Gingrich just recently and correctly called "World War III".

We do not refer to FDR's various campaigns as "The Libyan War", "The Italian War", "The Phillipines War", etc.; we call them "World War II". Will is unconsciously aping liberals who like to portray Afghanistan as "the Good War" and Iraq "the Bad War" in hopes of political advantage.

Not to mention the liberals on the Court, who just ruled in 'Hamden' that our Global War on Global Terrorists is not "an international conflict". No longer content just to stand the Constitution on its head, they've now taken to turning the Geneva Conventions on their heads as well.

Evidently, when foreign terrorists fly planes into a Manhattan skyscraper, it is a municipal zoning dispute.

Every summer, the Justices go on their regularly-scheduled Tuscany vacations in which they conspire with Euro-jurists to turn us all into compliant little cows, "veal prosecutto". One hopes they have the courage of their reversals and park their cars in the airport's "Domestic Only" parking lot. Then, upon their return, they can confront the real enemy: Big Towing.

I think a different Lincoln quote is more apt here:

"It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world."

The eternal struggle. One struggle.

And One War.

UPDATE: The Battle of the George F.s--Dinocrat cites the author of containment policy Kenan to rebut Mr. Will's containment theory.

The Novanglus Speaks 


"In spite of Bolingbroke and Voltaire, I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize man than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that chance had ordered the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist to the other sect, who believed or pretended to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance has ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization. They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a bauble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more, and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern."

--John Adams in a letter to F.A. Van der Kemp, 1808

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Iran, he ran, you ran, we ran 


Mark Steyn's latest:

"It's easy to fly in a guy in a suit to hold a meeting. Half the fellows inside the Beltway have Middle East "peace plans" named after them. Bush flew in himself a year or two back to announce his "road map." Before that it was Cheney, who flew in with the Cheney plan, which was a plan to open up a road map back to the last plan, which would get us back to "Tenet," which would get us back to "Mitchell," which would get us back to "Wye River," which would get us back to "Oslo," which would get us back to Kansas." [...]

"Israel withdrew from Gaza and, instead of getting on with a prototypical Palestinian state, Hamas turned the territory into an Islamist camp. Israel withdrew from Lebanon entirely in 2000, yet Hezbollah is now lobbing rockets at Haifa.

Why? Because in both cases these territories are now in effect Iran's land borders with the Zionist Entity. They're "occupied territories" but it's not the Jews doing the occupying. So you've got a choice between talking with proxies or going to the source: Tehran."

Read it all.

And you might want to read (or re-read) this Steyn article at City Journal:

"Four years into the “war on terror,” the Bush administration has begun promoting a new formulation: “the long war.” Not a reassuring name. In a short war, put your money on tanks and bombs—our strengths. In a long war, the better bet is will and manpower—their strengths, and our great weakness. Even a loser can win when he’s up against a defeatist. A big chunk of Western civilization, consciously or otherwise, has given the impression that it’s dying to surrender to somebody, anybody. Reasonably enough, Islam figures: Hey, why not us? If you add to the advantages of will and manpower a nuclear capability, the odds shift dramatically.

What, after all, is the issue underpinning every little goofy incident in the news, from those Danish cartoons of Mohammed to recommendations for polygamy by official commissions in Canada to the banning of the English flag in English prisons because it’s an insensitive “crusader” emblem to the introduction of gender-segregated swimming sessions in municipal pools in Puget Sound? In a word, sovereignty. There is no god but Allah, and thus there is no jurisdiction but Allah’s. Ayatollah Khomeini saw himself not as the leader of a geographical polity but as a leader of a communal one: Islam. Once those urbane socialist émigrés were either dead or on the plane back to Paris, Iran’s nominally “temporal” government took the same view, too: its role is not merely to run national highway departments and education ministries but to advance the cause of Islam worldwide."

Persia Delende Est

Saturday, July 15, 2006

My Funny Investment Banker 

P.J. O'Rourke:

"With money comes power over the world. Men are freed from drudgery, women from exploitation. Businesses can be started, homes built, communities formed, religions practiced, educations pursued. But liberals aren't very interested in such real and material freedoms. They have a more innocent - not to say toddlerlike - idea of freedom. Liberals want the freedom to put anything into their mouths, to say bad words and to expose their private parts in art museums. That liberals aren't enamored of real freedom may have something to do with responsibility - that cumbersome backpack which all free men have to lug on life's aerobic nature hike. The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors - psychology, sociology, women's studies - to prove that nothing is anybody's fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers." ....................

"If we want the whole world to be rich, we need to start loving wealth. In the difference between poverty and plenty, the problem is the poverty, not the difference. Wealth is good. You know this about your own wealth. If you got rich, it would be a great thing. You'd improve your life. You'd improve your family's life. You'd purchase education, travel, knowledge about the world. You'd invest in worthwhile things. You'd give money to noble causes. You'd help your friends and neighbors. Your life would be better if you got rich. The lives of the people around you would be better. Your wealth is good. So why isn't everyone else's wealth good?" .................

And from "Smith's Law--The companion to 'The Wealth of Nations' by P.J. O'Rourke":

"It's a mistake to read The Wealth of Nations as a justification of amoral greed. Wealth was Smith's further attempt to make life better. In Moral Sentiments he wrote, "To love our neighbor as we love ourselves is the great law of Christianity." But note the simile that Christ used and Smith cited. The Theory of Moral Sentiments was about the neighbor. The Wealth of Nations was about the other half of the equation: us.

It is assumed, apparently at the highest level of moral arbitration, that we should care about ourselves. And logically we need to. In Moral Sentiments Smith insisted, paraphrasing Zeno, that each of us "is first and principally recommended to his own care." A broke, naked, starving self is of no use to anyone in the neighborhood. In Wealth Smith insisted that in order to take care of ourselves we must be free to do so. The Theory of Moral Sentiments showed us how the imagination can make us care about other people. The Wealth of Nations showed us how the imagination can make us dinner and a pair of pants.

If we don't perform the difficult tasks that imagination requires, we put ourselves into what Smith called "the vilest and most abject of all states, a complete insensibility to honour and infamy, to vice and virtue." It is a state that Smith might also have described as "running for political office.""

Sunday, July 09, 2006



James Lileks, whom I hope to emulate when I grow up, goes to the movies (and believe me, you'll want to stay for the credits):

"Outrage of the summer: The new "Superman" movie edited out "The American Way" from the Krypton immigrant's rally cry. The Daily Planet editor says Supe's now all about "Truth, Justice and all that stuff."" [...]

"As it turns out, however, the omission was intentional. "The American Way" sounds Krypto-fascist. The movie's authors are the usual moderns, serenely above rude jingo pride: "We were always hesitant to include the term 'American way' because the meaning of that today is somewhat uncertain," said co-writer Michael Dougherty. "I think when people say 'American way,' they're actually talking about what the 'American way' meant back in the '40s and '50s, which was something more noble and idealistic."" [...]

"It's also odd to see the '50s held in high esteem. The '60s will be ever bathed in the holy glow of boomer self-regard, a mystical era of great causes and cheap weed; the '70s have become the decade equivalent of a sitcom running in eternal repeats."

"The 50s, however, have long stood for stifling conformity, the Mandatory Gray Flannel Suit Act, duck-and-cover nuclear paranoia, and of course the communist witch hunts, which, history recalls, turned up no communist witches. It all ended when Saint Elvis performed the miraculous Swiveling of the Hips, loosening mores that had been cinched tight since Ike banned premarital soul-kissing." ................

First, it's kinda' funny when People for the American Way-types endorse the abandonment of the phrase "the American Way". I wonder what Norman Lear thinks. I mean, I would wonder--if I cared.

But I have another question: what the hell is wrong with Boomers?

A Superman movie is by defintion meant to attract lots of kids. In this movie, Lois Lane is raising Superman's love-child while shacking-up with another guy (oh, yeah; Spoiler Alert!). Is that really necessary in a movie aimed largely at kids? Haven't we already foisted enough adult crap on kids?

When I Was a Kid(tm), we'd ride around stretched out on the roomy shelf above the back seat of our spacious American Dino-sedans. Today, any parent who allowed such a thing would be summarily executed and then sterilized, just to be sure. No, today we insist that children be strapped into car seats right up until their 21st birthdays, while wearing safety helmets and full body armor.

But while we want to pad all the corners to protect them from physical harm, we seem more and more blase about the dangers of exposing younger and younger children to questionable adult ideas and practices. Why the hurry to make children into little adults? Robbing them of the innocent childhoods we largely enjoyed will not bring back our own childhoods, my fellow Boomers.

This is not to say that the movie is without its merits. But it strikes me as odd that in the era of "Do it...For the Children!", we'll do just about anything for them--anything except just letting kids be kids while they are kids.

We shouldn't make them grow up too fast because we want to grow up too slowly--or not at all.

Now get down off that roof before you hurt yourself and let's go see 'Superman'. And put your Mom's towel back in the closet. Fer cryin' out loud, man--you're 45 years-old!

Okay, okay...you can ride in the back window.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cowboy, Take Her Away--Please! 


While overseas promoting their new single "Not Ready to Make Nice", The Dixie Chicks are peeping again--and it's not pretty. Evidently, they're not ready to make sense, either.

Lead singer Natalie Maines:

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism. Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

One hesitates to engage the political philosophy of the Chicks. For one thing, these gals are too self-important by half--maybe one and a half. And their thoughts carry all the intellectual heft of a Teletubbies episode. Still, bad ideas in the public sphere must be confronted. Yet I find myself strangely rooting for "Earl".

Let's get this straight: this is the gal who said (and then apologized and de-apologized) that she was ashamed to be from Texas like Pres. Bush. But if she feels no particular loyalty to Texas, why then be ashamed? Where there is no pride, there can be no shame.

She calls herself a "Dixie Chick"--even though it seems she has no affinity for Dixie.

She sings "country" music--even though love of country is a matter of indifference to her.

Even Maine has no claim on Maines!

There has for years been a conscious effort to breed patriotism out of us. Ironically, many of the same people who told us to "Question all Patriotism!" now exclaim "Don't question my patriotism!" They seem to have suceeded in Miss Maines' case, making her both a victim and now a proponent of these bad ideas. Congratulations, Natalie; instead of being a free and deep thinker as you fancy yourself, you've become a Stepford Liberal. You have been assimilated.

When Lincoln spoke of "the mystic chords of memory", Natalie must have thought he meant A minor 7th, D major and Kenny G..

Maybe patriotism is like music--you either get it or you don't. Indeed, instead of asking "Why patriotism?", couldn't we just as well ask "Why music?"

After all, couldn't we say songs are just auditory vibrations and a collection of random syllables signifying nothing greater in the human spirit than providing so-called "artists" the funds to buy their next vacation home? We could say that--I mean, if we had no soul.

Let's consult Mr. G. Washington, Citizen, a man who knows why the "Travelin' Soldier" travels:

"Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has the right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations."

Or of the decidedly non-local appellation, "Citizen of the World".

Teddy Roosevelt:

"Let me say at once that I am no advocate of a foolish cosmopolitanism. I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be, and as the only possible way of being, a good citizen of the world. Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country, because he is the citizen of the world, is in fact usually and exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world he happens at the moment to be in. In the dim future all moral needs and moral standards may change; but at present, if a man can view his own country and all others countries from the same level with tepid indifference, it is wise to distrust him, just as it is wise to distrust the man who can take the same dispassionate view of his wife and mother."

If you have "Wide Open Spaces" and room to make the big mistake, Natalie, it is only because your country and countrymen have given these things to you, along with so much more. That is something worthy of our loyalty, our affection, and our gratitude. In short, of our patriotism.

And that, at last, is something worth singing about.

"Free Earl!"

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

General Orders 

George Washington, July 2nd, 1776:

"Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions — The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."

"Absolute Independency" 

--James McHenry

From David McCullough's "1776":

"Asked what they were fighting for, most of the army -- officers and men in the ranks -- would until now have said it was in defense of their country and of their rightful liberties as freeborn Englishmen. It was to "defend our common rights" that he went to war, Nathanael Greene had told his wife. The British regulars, the hated redcoats, were the "invaders" and must be repelled. "We are soldiers who devote ourselves to arms not for the invasion of other countries but for the defense of our own, not for the gratification of our own private interest, but for the public security," Greene had written in another letter to Samuel Ward. Writing to General Thomas, Washington had said the object was "neither glory nor extent of territory, but a defense of all that is dear and valuable in life."

Independence was not mentioned. Nor had independence been on the minds of those who fought at Bunker Hill or in Washington's thoughts when he took command of the army. En route to Cambridge from Philadelphia, he had been quite specific in assuring the New York Provincial Congress that "every exertion of my worthy colleagues and myself will be equally extended to the reestablishment of peace and harmony between the mother country and the colonies."

But more and more of late there was talk of independence. The Reverend Belknap, from his visits to the camps, concluded that independence had "become a favorite point in the army."

A "declaration of independence" was heartily wished for, wrote Nathanael Greene, who was one of the first to say it in writing.

"We had as good to begin in earnest first as last." [...]

"On New Year's Day, Monday, January 1, 1776, the first copies of the speech delivered by King George III at the opening of Parliament back in October were sent across the lines from Boston. They had arrived with the ships from London.

The reaction among the army was rage and indignation. The speech was burned in public by the soldiers and had stunning effect everywhere, as word of its contents rapidly spread. Its charges of traitorous rebellion, its ominous reference to "foreign assistance," assuredly ended any hope of reconciliation or a short war. It marked a turning point as clear as the advent of the new year.

"We have consulted our wishes rather than our reason in the indulgence of an idea of accommodation," Nathanael Greene wrote in another fervent letter to Samuel Ward in Philadelphia. "Heaven hath decreed that tottering empire Britain to irretrievable ruin and thanks to God, since Providence hath so determined, America must raise an empire of permanent duration, supported upon the grand pillars of Truth, Freedom, and Religion, encouraged by the smiles of Justice and defended by her own patriotic sons....Permit me then to recommend from the sincerity of my heart, ready at all times to bleed in my country's cause, a Declaration of Independence, and call upon the world and the great God who governs it to witness the necessity, propriety and rectitude thereof."

The effect of the King's speech on Washington was profound. If nothing else could "satisfy a tyrant and his diabolical ministry," he wrote to Joseph Reed, "we were determined to shake off all connections with a state so unjust and unnatural. This I would tell them, not under covert, but in words as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness."" ...........

Happy Independence Day!

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