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"All we are saying ..."
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm not sure what to call it, but the neo-peace movement seems appropriate.

Bruce Bawer, in an LA Times piece today, talks about the growing peace movement which seems to think that the time is right for eschewing the lessons of history.

This isn't some pot-fueled movement of latter-day hippies making this attempt, but instead a "a movement of savvy, ambitious professionals that is already comfortably ensconced at the United Nations, in the European Union and in many nongovernmental organizations" says Bawer. He calls it the "peace racket". I would consider it another variation of terminally naive utopian thinking akin to those who preached unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Look, as Bawer says, any sane and rational person wants peace over war and nonviolence instead of violence, but, we also "prefer freedom to tyranny". The problem with the peace movement is it apparently doesn't have that latter preference as part of its goals. Instead, it sees appeasement as a legitimate tool for seeking peace.

Per Bawer, it begins at our universities:
The people running today's peace studies programs at American universities give a good sense of the movement's illiberal inclinations. Brandeis University's peace studies chairman has justified suicide bombings as "ways of inflicting revenge on an enemy that seems unable or unwilling to respond to rational pleas for discussion and justice." The director of Purdue University's program is the author of the book "International Relations in a World of Imperialism and Class Struggle." And the University of Maine's program director believes that "humans have been out of balance for centuries" and that "a unique opportunity of this new century is to engage in the creation of balance and harmony between yin and yang, masculine and feminine energies."
As an aside, given our experience with another U of Maine professor, the quackery espoused by this denizen of that marvelous institution of higher learning isn't particularly surprising.

However, there's nothing above which should surprise anyone who has watched the generation of the '60s move into academia over the decades. They live in a closed and protected society in which their only product is their theories, and, of course, they don't have to live with the results of their implementation (well at least not immediately). So utopian nonsense isn't at all something which is rare. Unfortunately, those who buy into those sorts of theories tend to eventually move on and actually go out in the world and attempt things.

And they do so "armed" with this sort of thinking:
Many professors emphasize that the world's great evil is capitalism — because it leads to imperialism, which in turn leads to war. And many students acquire a zero-sum picture of the world economy: If some countries and people are poor, it's because others are rich. They're taught that American wealth derives from exploitation and that Americans, accordingly, are responsible for world poverty.
I can't tell you over the years (and I've been a "cyber warrior" for well over 20 - 300 baud and BBS's) how many people I've run into on line who seem to believe in Bawer's point about capitalism and the economy being a 'zero-sum' game. They are absolutely sure that if someone is 'rich' it is because they have taken someone else's "fair share" (in fact, much of radical egalitarianism is based in that belief). So they naturally are easily convinced that rich America is rich only because it has exploited the poor of the world.

Seems to me that anyone that clueless about how capitalism and economics works would be fairly easily convinced then that this "peace racket" as Bawer calls it, is both legitimate and worth pursuing.

So, you ask, what is the basis of the movement and its goals. Well let's take terrorism for an example:
As for America's response to terrorism, David Barash and Charles Webel tidily sum up the view of many peace studies professors in "Peace and Conflict Studies," their widely used 2002 textbook: "A peace-oriented perspective condemns not only terrorist attacks but also any violent response to them." How, then, are democracies supposed to respond to aggression? Should we open an instant dialogue? Should we make endless concessions? Should we apologize? Neville Chamberlain's 1938 capitulation to Hitler at Munich taught — or should have taught — that appeasement just puts off a final reckoning, giving an enemy time to gain strength. But the foundation of the peace racket's success lies in forgetting this lesson. What its adherents learn is the opposite: If you want to ensure peace, appease tyranny — and there will be no more war.
A couple of points here. You've heard these arguments before. They're usually prefaced with "we should examine ourselves (our "imperialism", our intrusive culture, our foreign policy, etc.) for the answer to the problem. If we would just change _________ there would be no reason for violence or war".

It is alway up to 'us' to change our behavior, because, as is implied, they are only reacting to what we've apparently done.

Now I have no problem with self-examination in any conflict to determine what we might have done differently with the hope of avoiding such mistakes in the future. And I see nothing wrong with implementing changes if we actually determine we were at fault. But in the case of this particular movement, it is always "our" problem. Rarely, if ever, is it suggested that the other side might actually be the reason for the confrontation, violence or war.

With that implicit assumption at work, which side then does the onus to change fall on? And if the goal is "peace", what is the preordained response to the inquiry about change? Yes, that it is the job of the US to make changes to accommodate the side it supposedly wronged and fix the perceived problem it caused.

That's a dangerous formula that leads to a self-defeating cycle of appeasement.

That is, however, a fair description of at least what I see as the most prominent arm of the neo-peace movement. Their intent? Well according to Bawer, it seems it is to do their level best to implement and institutionalize their movement's goals within the structure of government:
What's more, this movement is also waging an aggressive, under-the-media-radar campaign for a Cabinet-level "Peace Department" in the United States. Sponsored by Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (along with more than 60 co-sponsors), HR 808 would authorize a secretary of Peace to "establish a Peace Academy," to "develop a peace education curriculum" for elementary and secondary schools, and to provide "grants for peace studies departments" at campuses around the country. If passed, the measure would catapult the peace studies movement into a position of extraordinary national, even international, influence.
Now I'm certainly sure we won't see a "Department of Peace" at cabinet level in any time in the near future. But peace academies? Curriculums for elementary and secondary schools? Absolutely and positively possible. Stranger things have been passed into existence by our legislators, that's for sure. And it is those institutions which would prepare the way for the "DoP". If you don't believe me, consider the groundwork now being laid in our schools concerning AGW and where that may possibly lead.

It's easy to argue that all of this hasn't a chance in the world and ignore it. Heck, no one really takes Dennis Kucinich seriously and everyone knows that to maintain peace you have to be willing to go to war.

Do they?

When you look up at the paragraph above and realize that 60 other legislators think the Kucinich idea is a good one, suddenly that argument doesn't quite have the surety it had a minute or two ago. At least 60 other supposedly sane and rational people have bought into the argument.

Bottom line: Just as you can't unilaterally disarm and expect others to do so just because you have, you can't eschew all possibility of violence and commit yourself to appeasement in the name of peace and expect to keep your freedom or peace. If you unilaterally disarm you are going to see those with the strength to do so take advantage of the situation. Same with seeking peace by eshewing any possibility of violence. Your only route to that end, then, is appeasement and your enemies will take every advantage of that approach they can. There's no downside in it for them and thus no incentive to act any other way.

The pernicious lie this new peace movement attempts to sell is that peace is not only possible without strength and the willingness to use it, but indeed probable. Yet, ironically, it can't point to single instance in history which supports that contention.

(HT:Tom Scott)
 
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I’ve said for a while that it’s about rejecting the doctrine of original sin.

Without original sin people only behave in bad ways because of things external to themselves. The way to peace is to remove all those external causes for strife.

Which would work fine in a world without people in it.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Well, I read that column and it seems to me that what little of the "Peace Movement" Bawer cites to he misconstrued, and threw in some very general contentions that can hardly be proven. Fair enough. Then you ran with it. Fair enough; after all, it’s your blog so you can misinterpret (or borrow someone’s misinterpretation) as much as you like. That being said...


"Just as you can’t unilaterally disarm and expect others to do so just because you have, you can’t eschew all possibility of violence and commit yourself to appeasement in the name of peace and expect to keep your freedom or peace. If you unilaterally disarm you are going to see those with the strength to do so take advantage of the situation. Same with seeking peace by eshewing any possibility of violence. Your only route to that end, then, is appeasement and your enemies will take every advantage of that approach they can. There’s no downside in it for them and thus no incentive to act any other way."


That’s a not very controversial statement. However, I don’t think there are a whole hell of a lot of people who by that. I think the point of some of the people in the peace movement is that it isn’t really necessary to be 50X as powerful military as the next most powerful country in the world, and it isn’t necessary to respond to every minor threat with overwhelming force. Those appear to be more controversial propositions these days however.
 
Written By: Xanthippas
URL: http://threewisemen.blogspot.com
I would consider it another variation of terminally naive utopian thinking akin to those who preached unilateral nuclear disarmament.
Speaking of Kerry, I wonder if he is one of the 60 legislators behind Kucinich’s crackpot Department of Appeasement Peace?
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
In the eye of the beholder, Xanth. Is radical Islam a minor threat?

What else have we responded to with overwhelming force? And can it even be said that we did respond with overwhelming force? And take 6 years of dicking around?

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
They want to push this idiocy in the schools?

Looks like my kids will be home-schooled...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Bruce:

Why is the choice between (seemingly) perpetual war and appeasement? I say "perpetual" because this is looking to me more and more like the war on drugs (or any other sort of unwinnable war), the difference being, of course, that terrorism isn’t victimless and I agree that’s an important distinction. In some sense, fighting "terrorism" is akin to fighting other social problems. It’s certainly unlike fighting a nation state.

The other thing this is looking more and more like is the Precautionary Principle, only rather than the left’s war on human progress, we’ve got the right’s war on terrorism and a competing ideology.

So back to my original question, I don’t so how we have to appease anyone to get out of Iraq. Is that really an unavoidable aspect of saying, "look: this isn’t working as we’d predicted; you all are going to have to work it out, and we suggest you don’t make us have to come back in here?"

 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
Here is Bawer’s full article; the LA article is a much shortened version that doesn’t have quite the substantiation (Xanthippas, here’s a heads up) as the CJ article.
http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_3_peace_racket.html


As always, denial is not a river in Egypt.
 
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
Sharpshooter, thanks for the URL for the longer version. It was even better the second time.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Why is the choice between (seemingly) perpetual war and appeasement?
Negotiation from a position of strength. Obviously you don’t want perpetual war. Just as obviously, at least you would think, is you don’t disarm yourself before trying to negotiate (appeasement).

There has to be an incentive to negotiated and then keep the bargain. And throughout history, that’s only been accomplished in one way.
So back to my original question, I don’t so how we have to appease anyone to get out of Iraq.
Hey Rich ... not everything is about Iraq.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ
Negotiation from a position of strength.
With whom?
not everything is about Iraq.
Certainly that’s true, but that was nonetheless the focus of my question.


 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
With whom?
With whomever there is with which to negotiate. This isn’t a "one-size-fits-every-situation" post.
Certainly that’s true, but that was nonetheless the focus of my question.
Then you’re question is irrelevant as it pertains to this post.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I read the article and the first thing I wanted to say... that Norwegian guy? Please don’t judge all Norwegians by him. Many Scandinavians viewed Russia as a serious threat, including Norwegians (they actually have a border in common, way up North). The Fins heroically held off the Russian Army who soon learned that you didn’t need to see a Fin to die.

For the rest of it. *sigh*

I just keep on thinking... they can *try* but they’ve got to overcome the military and History education contained in video games.

And I don’t think they can.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Sure they can...

Just ban those games.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Bruce:
With whomever there is with which to negotiate. This isn’t a one-size-fits-every-situation" post.
Ok, so this isn’t just about Iraq. I’m simply trying to find some application to all this peace vs. appeasement vs. war theory in your post. It is worthwhile to imagine applications, would you not agree?

So, we’re in the region in general. We stand generally on the side of Israel and against terrorism and states that support it (is this broad enough?). So correct me if I’m wrong, but excluding perhaps Syria and Iran, we pretty much have the cooperation of every state — where we’re not already calling the shots, right?

Do I need to go on? Who is it that has something we can’t already just take and further inflame the whole region against us? Who has any real negotiating power against us?

It’s always helpful in a comment thread, I think, to go back and read the original post again, which I did. Here’s what struck me the most:
You’ve heard these arguments before. They’re usually prefaced with "we should examine ourselves (our "imperialism", our intrusive culture, our foreign policy, etc.) for the answer to the problem. If we would just change _________ there would be no reason for violence or war".
Well I’ll tell you what, man: given 9/11 and everything that’s happened since, including the current Iraq cluster f*uck, I’ve no doubt any politician who took a real serious moment to think about it wouldn’t go back if he could and completely change our post-gulf-war-1 policy from ’91 on. Ya think? And if so, that’s telling.

I think we thought they’d just sit back for our perpetual military presence and power projection, and I think we thought wrong (which we might have thought a bit harder about considering the Soviet experience in Afghanistan).

And what’s going on today is very little more, in my opinion, that our insistence to be "right" even if it kills us and everyone else — rather than just admitting we effed up and calling it a day.

This is couched in terms of protecting honor, so that the troops didn’t die for nothing.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
You know, McQ, you shouldn’t push away people who have more in common with you than you think. You list me (I assume I’m the U Maine prof) as involved in the quackery when I’m really far more libertarian than leftist, am a supporter of markets, and distrust governmental power. My opposition to the war in Iraq reflects libertarian non-interventionist ideals, and recently I’ve agreed with you, other war hawks, and even Charles Krauthammer about the need to leave in a manner that doesn’t cause a blood bath and recognizes our moral obligations.

Perhaps you need to learn to let go of ancient grudges, and not personalize things so much that you ignore what is being written and debated. Being unable to hold grudges myself (10 minutes at the longest), I am genuinely flabbergasted by the ability you and a few others have to ignore what I write in order to hold on to some kind of grudge based on something written on an internet debate long ago. Focus on ideas, not personalities. Focus on the argument, not the person making it. It’s easy to fall into an ’argumentum ad hominem’ mindset. But that’s not logical.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The beginning of this somewhat old joke fits the “peace at all costs” thinking folks:

You’re walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges at you. You are carrying a Kimber 1911 cal. 45 ACP, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?

Well, that’s not enough information to answer the question!
Does the man look poor or oppressed?
Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
Could we run away?
What does my wife think?
What about the kids?
Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?
What does the law say about this situation?
Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it?
Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?
Is it possible he’d be happy with just killing me?
Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?
If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?
Should I call 9-1-1?
Why is this street so deserted?
We need to raise taxes, have paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior.
This is all so confusing! I need to debate this with some friends for few days and try to come to a consensus.
 
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
AMR:
You’re walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children...
Fair enough, in the limited context presented. You blow the guy’s head off. No questions, and not only that, you feel good about it. I Gotcha.

But suppose you were aware that on that street, perhaps neighborhood, crazies abound. All you need to do is steer you and your precious family clear.

Is that peace at all cost?
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
And what’s going on today is very little more, in my opinion, that our insistence to be "right" even if it kills us and everyone else — rather than just admitting we effed up and calling it a day.
You claim to have reread the post, and seem to have found the one portion which fit your desire to continue to apply this to Iraq (or the region, or whatever), but somehow seem to have missed this:
Now I have no problem with self-examination in any conflict to determine what we might have done differently with the hope of avoiding such mistakes in the future. And I see nothing wrong with implementing changes if we actually determine we were at fault. But in the case of this particular movement, it is always "our" problem. Rarely, if ever, is it suggested that the other side might actually be the reason for the confrontation, violence or war.
So, there’s the point about "just admitting we effed up". But the point of the post, is below that. It is about a movement and it’s ideas concerning conflict resolution and it’s apparent belief that appeasement presents the best choice.

Not who we negotiate with, not a region, not any of the things you continue to attempt to do with this. It’s about that movement and that’s movement’s ideas.

That’s it. That’s all.

Round hole to your continued square peg.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"All you need to do is steer you and your precious family clear."

Leaving the predators to prey on those who actually live there and aren’t just walking through.

The predators gain power and boldness as they are never faced with anyone who will fight back. They start to range beyond their neighborhood. Smart people simply avoid them. More people see that it is better to be predator than prey and the ranks of the predators, and their territory, increases. It’s harder to avoid them now, but those with lots of money can still do so.

And they can be happy to know that they are taking the non-violent and more moral course.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Credit where credit was due, this post was a lot more realistic and lacking in malice and agenda than the post where it came from, which seems to think the neo-peace movement is run by neo-stalinists looking forward to the occupation of America by foreign forces.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Synova:
Leaving the predators to prey on those who actually live there and aren’t just walking through.
Oh, I’m sorry. I thought I read he was on a stroll with his wife and kid. I must have misread that.
The predators gain power and boldness as they are never faced with anyone who will fight back.
We’re fighting predators going on five years and they appear to be gaining power and getting bolder.

And there’s a lot of American wives & kids paying the price for that.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
Bruce:
Now I have no problem with self-examination in any conflict to determine what we might have done differently with the hope of avoiding such mistakes in the future.
Let me be clear: this is not a military eff up by any means and in fact their performance has been phenomenal — effing amazing — throughout. This is a policy eff up, and I think it goes back to post Gulf WI.

America simply failed to take fully into account the ramifications of maintaining a continuous military presence in the region and it came home to roost. Or maybe they did take it into account and then discounted it.

Yes, mistakes must be identified and lessons learned, but mistakes that perpetuate still should be corrected now. I see no alternative to perpetual war here until America begins to remove itself militarily from the region.

I believe this war is "winnable" by only one group, and that’s Muslim women. If they could be convinced to rise up in massive numbers, in civil disobedience, we’d never need to worry about those guys again.


 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
The pernicious lie this new peace movement attempts to sell is that peace is not only possible without strength and the willingness to use it, but indeed probable. Yet, ironically, it can’t point to single instance in history which supports that contention.
Sure it can, all through history most states have lived in peace with each other.

The lie is that being strong enough to defend oneself requires the kind of imperial power the US — half the world’s military budget, massive overseas deployments, and invasions of foreign states on the other side of the world. The lie is to call our policy defensive when we are an offensive, neo-imperial power. That is what the peace movement — and in fact true libertarians who distrust governmental power — need to fight. Invading Iraq, attacking Serbia, and other external adventures does nothing to defend freedom, and causes destruction, death, and anger. It will be our undoing if citizens don’t stand up and demand that we stop such needlessly aggressive and offensive foreign policies.

That said, we do need to be able to defend ourselves from attack. But if we, like Rome, start defining defense in a way that rationalizes offensive adventures world wide, then our policy lacks morality. It’s Orwellian to label "offense" as "defense," or to rationalize by some glib "the world is different" rational. Defensive strength, yes. Neo-imperialism and offensive strength, no.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb pulled out of his ass: "Sure it can, all through history most states have lived in peace with each other."

On what other planet did that take place?
 
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
Sharpshooter, you are engaged in the cognitive bias called "ignorance of the non-occurrence." Only 2% of the population find themselves engaged in active war in their lifetime, most states exist peacefully. Wars are noticed, the numerous disagreements and conflicts solved peacefully — which vastly outnumber incidents of war — get ignored. That gives peace studies a lot of data — why is it that some small number of cases turn to war, and what can be done to avoid that situation arising. Peace studies is very advanced in Germany, where it is wedded to both institutes and political parties to some extent. I think the future will be to get peace studies in the mainstream as an approach that says "rather than study war, let’s study peace, the conditions which make peace, the situations which allow the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and be clear on the human cost of war — and how when a generation learn violence, it’s more likely to repeat it. War is mass murder in the name of government. It is sometimes necessary, but it is by no means unavoidable (again, most states and people avoid it in most circumstances).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Richard,
We’re fighting predators going on five years and they appear to be gaining power and getting bolder.
First of all whether or not they are "gaining power" is highly debatable. Secondly, so what’s your point? We should just give up?
Let me be clear: this is not a military eff up by any means and in fact their performance has been phenomenal — effing amazing — throughout.
No, there is plenty of blame to go around. Let’s not pretend that the military is somehow above criticism. The military did not plan effectively to fight an insurgency. It prefers force on force engagements and it took too long to adapt to the circumstances in Iraq. Yes the political leadership went into this war with unrealistic assumptions and bears a large share of the blame for the poorly handled occupation. But that doesn’t absolve the professional military leadership of its share of mistakes.
Yes, mistakes must be identified and lessons learned, but mistakes that perpetuate still should be corrected now.
Some have been. Our strategy in Iraq appears to have changed for the better. Yes it took too long. But better late than never.
I see no alternative to perpetual war here until America begins to remove itself militarily from the region.
So according to you, the U.S. should allow itself to suffer a crushing humiliating defeat rather than sustain a low-level conflict of indefinite duration? Sorry, my view of what is in the best interests of the U.S. is apparently far different than yours.
I believe this war is "winnable" by only one group, and that’s Muslim women. If they could be convinced to rise up in massive numbers, in civil disobedience, we’d never need to worry about those guys again.
Well that’s just great. So all we need to do is withdraw from the region in defeat and wait for Muslim women to do something. Are you serious?
 
Written By: DavidC
URL: http://
David, you’re wrong in seeing this as a war. Iraq is a big government social engineering experiment gone awry. The idea was to overthrow their government and install one friendly to us. That kind of neo-imperialism is morally questionable, and practically unlikely to work. So now we’re stuck. I think we have a moral obligation to leave in a way that doesn’t allow chaos and all out civil war (at least do as much as we can in that regard), but to keep going because you are afraid of "humiliation" is irrational. You do what is in the national interest.

The reason is not because of bad military tactics or a bad strategy. The reason for the problems is because we overestimated the ability of governmental power (in this case military) to shape a culture, and underestimated the resentment it would create when an outside power comes and tries to control another country’s politics. It’s the same kind of reason why the ’war on poverty’ failed — over estimating the ability of government to understand and then solve a problem. In one case it was social welfare programs that didn’t do what it was dreamed they would, in another case it was military power. The fundamental type of error made is the same.

That said, we do need an effective counter-terrorism strategy, and most experts I read on terror see Iraq as a mistake. Better not to continue with a mistake just because you’re afraid it will be called defeat.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Dr. Erb,
The lie is that being strong enough to defend oneself requires the kind of imperial power the US — half the world’s military budget, massive overseas deployments, and invasions of foreign states on the other side of the world.
That’s interesting, because in my opinion the U.S. military needs to be larger in order to adequately protect our interests. Unfortunately foreign states on the other side of the world can pose a threat to the U.S. in the 21st century. Sometimes they might need to be invaded or otherwise crippled by military force.
The lie is to call our policy defensive when we are an offensive, neo-imperial power.
No, what is incorrect is stating your opinion as if it were fact, and using meaningless jargon like "neo-imperial." In my view the U.S. has been extremely restrained in its projection of power. It used minimal force in Afghanistan, and it was restrained even when dealing with an open enemy like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It has not extended the war to Syria or Iran, despite repeated provocations, particularly by Iran. It has in no way, in my opinion, behaved in any fashion that can reasonably be described as "imperial." Had the U.S. installed one of Saddam’s colonels as the new dictator of Iraq, negotiated some 99 year lease rights to bases, and extorted all sorts of favorable oil deals with Iraq, you might have reason to call its behavior imperial. Since it has done none of those things, and instead has spent huge amounts of money trying to rebuild Iraq, has allowed the election of a goverment not all that favorable to the U.S. on many issues, and is spending the lives of its soldiers in what may be a futile effort to build a state, I find accusations of imperialism to be groundless.
I think the future will be to get peace studies in the mainstream as an approach that says "rather than study war, let’s study peace, the conditions which make peace, the situations which allow the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and be clear on the human cost of war
I agree that there is no reason why people shouldn’t study ways that peaceful resolution of conflict can be achieved. But, in my opinion and experience, such things are already studied as part of history. There is no need to create a new field such as "peace studies," which in my opinion tend to attract reflexively anti-war utopian idealists, pacifists, and other unrealistic thinkers.
an approach that says "rather than study war, let’s study peace, the conditions which make peace, the situations which allow the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and be clear on the human cost of war — and how when a generation learn violence, it’s more likely to repeat it
Here is where the problem lies. Why not study both? Pretending that studying war somehow creates violence, or that just studying peace is somehow going to make everything better is exactly the type of unrealistic utopianism that infects so-called peace studies.
 
Written By: DavidC
URL: http://
They’ve been around forever:
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
Rudyard Kipling

Of course, these people are never as non-violent as they pretend:
Brandeis University’s peace studies chairman has justified suicide bombings as "ways of inflicting revenge on an enemy that seems unable or unwilling to respond to rational pleas for discussion and justice."
Note that this was Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams at the International Women’s Peace Conference:
"Right now, I could kill George Bush," she said. "No, I don’t mean that. How could you nonviolently kill somebody? I would love to be able to do that." As she made her point, she chuckled and some members of the audience laughed.
Translation: Do it our way or we’re perfectly justified in killing you. Gee, where else have I heard that from? Oh, yeah, the Quran 9:29:
YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
Three different translations, BTW.

This is why I will not compromise with either the Leftist Fifth Column, or its’ Muslim allies, no matter how much my language offends Bryan Pick, or Jon Henke, or Scott Erb.
This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
Patrick Henry

 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Dr. Erb,
David, you’re wrong in seeing this as a war. Iraq is a big government social engineering experiment gone awry.
I mostly agree with this. I think the objective of setting up a democratic allied state in Iraq was overly ambitious and certainly not well planned out.
That kind of neo-imperialism is morally questionable
We didn’t just pick out a peaceful inoffensive country to try an experiment on. There was nothing imperialistic about it. Iraq was our enemy. Obviously when you decide to remove an enemy government you need to put another government in its place.
I think we have a moral obligation to leave in a way that doesn’t allow chaos and all out civil war (at least do as much as we can in that regard), but to keep going because you are afraid of "humiliation" is irrational. You do what is in the national interest.
You are misinterpreting what I said. I’m not afraid of humiliation. I just pointed out that giving up and leaving would be a humiliating defeat for the U.S., which in turn would be a great victory for Al Qaeda. I don’t believe we have a moral obligation to leave at all — until the government of Iraq requests that we leave.
The reason is not because of bad military tactics or a bad strategy. The reason for the problems is because we overestimated the ability of governmental power (in this case military) to shape a culture, and underestimated the resentment it would create when an outside power comes and tries to control another country’s politics. It’s the same kind of reason why the ’war on poverty’ failed — over estimating the ability of government to understand and then solve a problem. In one case it was social welfare programs that didn’t do what it was dreamed they would, in another case it was military power. The fundamental type of error made is the same.
I agree with some of what you say here, but the reason for the situation in Iraq is based on a combination of factors, some of which involve military planning, strategy and tactics. That’s what I was pointing out in my other
response.
Better not to continue with a mistake just because you’re afraid it will be called defeat.
It’s not that it will be called defeat, it will be a defeat. An actual defeat. An enemy that has no power to eject us from Iraq will be granted a victory because we simply don’t have the will to continue. People against the Iraq war like to refer to it as a "war of choice." Well, if we simply give up on Iraq and bail out, we will in my opinion, be inflicting a defeat of choice on ourselves.

It doesn’t matter whether or not the war was a mistake. We need to look at the current situation, not the past. I have yet to hear any convincing argument about how a preciptious withdrawal from Iraq can be anything other than a defeat for the U.S. It will be a great victory for the Islamists and will confirm what they already think about the U.S. — that despite its wealth and power, the U.S. is too weak-willed to sustain even a low level conflict for very long.
 
Written By: DavidC
URL: http://
Scott, if you’re going to use a term such as "neo-imperial", you ought to tell us what you think it means. I did a quick Google and couldn’t find a definition. I did find that it is used mostly in far-left tracts.

I can’t say anything about your assertion that our foreign policy is "neo-imperial" or not unless I know what it means. I do know that an imperial foreign policy would have meant to march in and take the oil fields, dare anyone there to do anything about it, and then shoot anyone who tried. We would have expected to basically run the place for decades. That’s what empires do, right? At least that’s what I learned in history about the Romans, the Persians, the British, the Japanese...

Since we didn’t do that, and instead we are in the process of attempting to help the Iraqis and Afghanis create a reasonably free and democratic system for themselves, we clearly don’t have an imperial foreign policy. So exactly what is a neo-imperial foreign policy and why do we have one?
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Richard Nikoley said,
America simply failed to take fully into account the ramifications of maintaining a continuous military presence in the region and it came home to roost. Or maybe they did take it into account and then discounted it.
The reason the US troops were in the region and stationed in saudi arabia was because of saddam hussein’s unfortunate habit of invading neighbors at random. First there was Iran, then there was Kuwait. Nobody wanted saddam to have a third bite of that particular apple, particularly if it was aimed at saudi arabia.

You fail to fully take into account
1. Why the troops were there
2. The ramifications of not having continuous US military presence in the area.

Richard also said
This is a policy eff up, and I think it goes back to post Gulf WI.
The policy mistakes in that region go back to the early 20th century. Furthermore, the biggest mistake was during Gulf War 1 when the foreign policy realists within the bush 1 administration decided to leave saddam in power to act as a counterbalance to Iran.

Of course removing him could have caused a different sequence of unanticipated results that leaving him in power did with even worse consequences for the region and the US.

Such is the nature of trying to make decisions based on limited data in an environment where the conditions in the ground are rapidly changing.
 
Written By: TJIT
URL: http://
Gotta run, I’ll reply to David’s thoughtful and interesting reply later. But quickly: neo-imperial simply means exercising control and influence without having to actually take over other states and run them. I’m using the term to distinguish this form of imperialism from Soviet imperialism in the East bloc or traditional European imperialism. Now the most cost effective way to exercise imperial power is to have local sovereign states act in in the interests of the power. (I could go on to compare this with the concept of hegemony, but I need to head out!)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
DavidC:
First of all whether or not they are "gaining power" is highly debatable. Secondly, so what’s your point? We should just give up?
I really can’t do better than Scott’s answer, "Better not to continue with a mistake just because you’re afraid it will be called defeat."

What I see now is that virtually everyone, top to bottom, knows in their "heart of hearts" this was a mistake of gigantic proportions (I fell for it, too). Everyone differs in how, why, and when it became a mistake (Me? I waffle, but in the broadest sense, GWI, when we didn’t finish the job of smashing an invader.), but what I see now is increasingly an effort to save face. I really can’t get past that essential. Sure, everyone wants it to turn out OK, but it all just comes back to me as wanting to ensure (by spending more money, lives, time, and global goodwill) that everyone concludes it was worth it.

We’re dealing with power on such a massive scale that we might be able to pull it off, but what does that say about us, once we know in our hearts that we erred and that we’re willing to kill more people (ours and there’s) so it can eventually be declared "worth it?"
Let’s not pretend that the military is somehow above criticism.
No sir. I was a Navy officer for eight years and I’m well aware of that. But the military is a blunt and destructive instrument, by design. What I mean to imply is that they have exceeded my expectations in the performance of what they’ve been asked to do. Also, I don’t think a military, such as they are commonly understood, are at all designed to fight insurgencies. It was poor policy to task them to fight that way and I think they have done better than we should have expected.
So according to you, the U.S. should allow itself to suffer a crushing humiliating defeat rather than sustain a low-level conflict of indefinite duration? Sorry, my view of what is in the best interests of the U.S. is apparently far different than yours.
I’m really trying to think of what’s in the best interest of everyone, while realizing you’re never going to satisfy everyone. This is of legitimate global interest with global repercussions and so it’s only smart — not to mention civilized — to consider the impact of our actions around the world.

Crushing defeat? Well, we ousted the regime and installed a new government. Now we’re asking fighting and killing men (by purpose and design) to tiptoe around performing police duties and "oh, would you not mind taking care of the impossible?"

There is no shame in recognizing reality and acting accordingly, while I think there is great shame in evading reality and pressing on trying to change it with brute force and persistence that ends up killing a lot of people. Again, just like we do with the drug war. Completely impossible short of totalitarian lock down, and yet we persist and destroy lives, just so we don’t have to admit defeat.

But it’s not defeat. That charge is going to fly around no matter what we do. We’ve got to be man enough to deal with it, and the troops need to understand that they were simply called on to do too much: the impossible (or highly improbable).

"Alright troops: today your mission is to go out and win the lottery. Got it? Ok; dismissed!"
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
DavidC:
In my view the U.S. has been extremely restrained in its projection of power.
Indeed, and that’s part of the problem. This is not how wars ought to be fought. They ought to be fought, as in WWII, very reluctantly and over clear and present threat. And then when they are, the reasons for the reluctance become clear because you go in and conduct utter devastation. Conversely, if we’re not fighting a war, we have no business "projecting power." Humbly show the flag; show the sleeping giant, yes. Not project power. This just pisses everyone off and leads to perpetual "restrained" conflict.

That’s the way it ought to be done and that’s why it’s the same goddammed story since WWII ended.

And yes, I understand this is largely a consequence of the presence of nuclear weapons. Everyone seems to think it’s best to play at limited war in perpetuity, often via puppets, so as to avoid escalation to nuclear.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
DavidC:
I have yet to hear any convincing argument about how a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq can be anything other than a defeat for the U.S. It will be a great victory for the Islamists and will confirm what they already think about the U.S. — that despite its wealth and power, the U.S. is too weak-willed to sustain even a low level conflict for very long.
By this standard, I really have a difficult time understanding how we could ever leave. If, as they have stated in some of their more "rational" moments, that they just want us off "their" soil and out of "their" region, then they’ll be declaring victory whenever we leave. So you can never leave.

I say the way to get the most out of it we can is actually to leave completely and in a hurry, saying, in essence: "We’ve done all we can do here. We ousted the old regime, installed a new one, and provided you a path to enter the 21st Century. What you do with it is up to you, but mind your own business and don’t make us come back here and press the reset button yet again."

And we just leave and see what happens. I think this approach gives both sides some face saving and sets the tone such that any further Islamist aggression (esp. on US soil) is clearly seen for what it is.

Consider for a second you were calling the shots for AQ. What might be a smart move? I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d tone down activity gradually and monitor the media for signs the US believes it’s "winning." I’d gradually take it down to nothing; I’d be patient. As soon as the US declares victory and leaves or begins to leave, I’d simultaneously blow up 10 or 20 "martyrs" in shopping malls around the US. Now how devastating would that be? And they could probably carry that out rather easily, any time they want.

Again, actually preventing this from ever happening would require complete global totalitarianism or nuking the whole region. We must recognize that. It’s the same argument for why the drug war is completely futile.

We need to leave druggies to themselves, and we need to leave fanatics willing to blow themselves up to themselves and stop giving them good (in their minds) reasons to attack.

Is that so hard to fathom? They are addicted, for now, to their crazy ideology and they’re going to have to fix that on their own.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
"It [war] is sometimes necessary, but it is by no means unavoidable..."

If it is avoidable it is *never* necessary.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
"They ought to be fought, as in WWII, very reluctantly and over clear and present threat."

Oh, for the love of... why do people absolutely persist in the belief that Germany or Japan were anything like a clear and present threat to the United States? They could hurt us but take us over? Did they ever land occupying troops on our shores? People *say* things like we’d be speaking German, but how could the German army conceivably *EVER* have the numbers necessary to take and hold any part of the United States? How could a tiny island like Japan EVER have the troops necessary to take and hold any part of the United States? (And Hawaii wasn’t part of the United States at the time.)

WE WERE NOT IN DANGER from Japan or from Germany. There was a large "peace" contingent at the time who argued against the war.

Why the heck is WW2 held up as something clearly different from *this* "War of Choice?"
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
TJIT:
The reason the US troops were in the region and stationed in saudi arabia was because of saddam hussein’s unfortunate habit of invading neighbors at random. First there was Iran, then there was Kuwait. Nobody wanted saddam to have a third bite of that particular apple, particularly if it was aimed at saudi arabia.
I understand our reasoning, and I was there myself in the lead-up to GWI.
The policy mistakes in that region go back to the early 20th century.
Fair enough. I haven’t thought about it going much further back than GWI, though I was once part of a Navy presence there even prior to the USS Stark.
Furthermore, the biggest mistake was during Gulf War 1 when the foreign policy realists within the bush 1 administration decided to leave saddam in power to act as a counterbalance to Iran.
Yep. He was a proven and present invader, and we had global moral support for going the distance and we squandered it. It happens; all the time.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
Synova:
...but how could the German army conceivably *EVER* have the numbers necessary to take and hold any part of the United States?
From German-speaking Poland, Belgium, France, ultimately Great Britain, Russia, and a host of other European countries.

The danger and opportunity was that neither were presently capable of overcoming what we could bring to bear.

Clearly, given their expanding empires we could not let it get to a point were we couldn’t be sure of being able to defeat them.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
"Sure it can, all through history most states have lived in peace with each other."

The question is not whether states live in peace, but why they do so. I believe that is also the point of this post.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Dr. Erb,
But quickly: neo-imperial simply means exercising control and influence without having to actually take over other states and run them.
Back when I was in grad school (history), we referred to that as "informal empire," - such as Britian’s dominant position in post-Suez canal 19th century Egypt, France’s dominance in Morocco prior to taking formal control of that state. or even (arguably) U.S. economic control of areas of Latin America during part of the 20th Century. But maybe the term has changed, or neo-imperialism is the Political Science equivalent. But in any event, I think you would agree that it does not involve a large scale invasion, a forcible change of government, and an occupying army. In my opinion, the term is not applicable to the U.S. situation in Iraq.
 
Written By: DavidC
URL: http://
I mostly agree with this. I think the objective of setting up a democratic allied state in Iraq was overly ambitious and certainly not well planned out.
Yes — it was an assumption that as rational humans they would want to choose a system like ours. That underestimated the impact of culture and history in shaping both their and our preferences. Hopefully we’ll keep that lesson in mind in the future.
We didn’t just pick out a peaceful inoffensive country to try an experiment on. There was nothing imperialistic about it. Iraq was our enemy. Obviously when you decide to remove an enemy government you need to put another government in its place.
Iraq was an enemy? Desert Storm was over. Saddam was defanged, his military a shadow of what it had been. We had surveillance, no fly zones, and weapons inspectors on the ground — with even France hinting that maybe in six months if the inspectors really found nothing they’d even support a military threat. I can’t say Iraq was so much an enemy in a war sense than a state we distrusted.

I think we have a moral obligation to leave in a way that doesn’t allow chaos and all out civil war (at least do as much as we can in that regard), but to keep going because you are afraid of "humiliation" is irrational. You do what is in the national interest.

You are misinterpreting what I said. I’m not afraid of humiliation. I just pointed out that giving up and leaving would be a humiliating defeat for the U.S., which in turn would be a great victory for Al Qaeda. I don’t believe we have a moral obligation to leave at all — until the government of Iraq requests that we leave.
OK, I guess I disagree with your claim that this would be a great victory for al qaeda. That would only be the case if somehow al qaeda took over in Iraq, which I think is next to impossible. They’ll try to claim victory, but I’d see it more as a tactical retreat — we did the wrong thing, it was playing into the enemy’s hands, so let’s not continue down that path. They may make propaganda hay out of it, but they’d also lose the emotional appeal of having a foreign invader to point to, and alleged (whether true or not) atrocities to show on the Arab satellite networks.
The reason is not because of bad military tactics or a bad strategy. The reason for the problems is because we overestimated the ability of governmental power (in this case military) to shape a culture, and underestimated the resentment it would create when an outside power comes and tries to control another country’s politics. It’s the same kind of reason why the ’war on poverty’ failed — over estimating the ability of government to understand and then solve a problem. In one case it was social welfare programs that didn’t do what it was dreamed they would, in another case it was military power. The fundamental type of error made is the same.

I agree with some of what you say here, but the reason for the situation in Iraq is based on a combination of factors, some of which involve military planning, strategy and tactics. That’s what I was pointing out in my other
response.
Better not to continue with a mistake just because you’re afraid it will be called defeat.

It’s not that it will be called defeat, it will be a defeat. An actual defeat. An enemy that has no power to eject us from Iraq will be granted a victory because we simply don’t have the will to continue. People against the Iraq war like to refer to it as a "war of choice." Well, if we simply give up on Iraq and bail out, we will in my opinion, be inflicting a defeat of choice on ourselves.
So what is your benchmark, if not for victory, for at least avoiding defeat?
It doesn’t matter whether or not the war was a mistake. We need to look at the current situation, not the past. I have yet to hear any convincing argument about how a preciptious withdrawal from Iraq can be anything other than a defeat for the U.S. It will be a great victory for the Islamists and will confirm what they already think about the U.S. — that despite its wealth and power, the U.S. is too weak-willed to sustain even a low level conflict for very long.
I agree we should leave in a manner that doesn’t simply ignore the need to try to leave Iraq stable, and any withdrawal will probably take at least a year and a half. And, as I’ve pointed out, if we go the partition route (even Charles Krauthammer is arguing for that now), we could keep troops in Kurdistan in relatively peaceful conditions. (Being a non-interventionist I’d prefer not even to do that, but given the conditions created by our involvement it may be the best option).

So I’ll leave you with one question: what if you’re wrong about Iraq? What if it really does weaken us, keep us from having a more effective counter-terrorism strategy, and help al qaeda bleed us at little cost to themselves, creating regional instability? What if the best option is for us to find the most expediant way out — recognizing our moral obligation to try to leave it as stable as we can? And, to be far, I’ll contemplate as well what if I’m wrong.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Synova, sometimes it is only avoidable if you act at the right time to prevent the path to war. Better policies towards Germany after WWI and in the 20s, or even early during the depression, likely would have allowed for a peaceful resolution of the differences and avoided Hitler’s rise to power. But after 1936, there might not have been any choice for Europe but war. War is avoidable, but avoidable like a heart attack due to obesity is avoidable. You can’t wait until just before it hits to do what is necessary to avoid it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Richard, when you explain why we were right to go to war with Germany, you explain why we are right to take military action in this war as well.

Scott, hindsight is fabulous, but until we become gods I think that it’s best to stick with the lessons clear in History. Obesity doesn’t cause heart attacks and avoiding obesity doesn’t promise a person will never have one. I agree that the stupidity leading up to WW1 is only eclipsed by the stupidity directly after it which gives us WW2 which aftermath of crayon wielding map drawers may well have contributed to this present conflict.

I think we can learn from History. We *should* have learned that being smart and building up our enemies after a war brings economically powerful friends and allies in the future. Germany, Japan and South Korea as examples. Yet we decided that war is always bad and it was better to abandon South Vietnam. Looking to History we see the horrific loss of life that followed and boat people and incredible nastiness. But learn that lesson? Hell, no. Best to just do it again.

We *should* have learned that policies which favor stability rather than freedom are one of those things that brings future conflict. All those "non-war" interventions, those years of self-righteousness as we mucked around in governments and conflicts and thought our hands clean of the blood that was spilled just because it wasn’t Americans killing people, choosing the tyrant who we felt could be induced to favor us... did it *ever* work? But it’s practically doctrine that throwing around sanctions is always moral, always right.

We *should* have learned that interfering in other countries in those dishonest ways caused as much human suffering as any honest war ever did without *ever* EVER resulting in something stable and good and resembling freedom and representation for the people.

If I thought for a moment that the Peace folks were looking at History as it actually exists I’d probably hop right on board.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
"Iraq was an enemy? Desert Storm was over. Saddam was defanged, his military a shadow of what it had been. We had surveillance, no fly zones, and weapons inspectors on the ground — with even France hinting that maybe in six months if the inspectors really found nothing they’d even support a military threat. I can’t say Iraq was so much an enemy in a war sense than a state we distrusted."


I thought France was one of those slipping funds to Saddam and undermining the imposed sanctions. No?

Curious thing... we get told how world opinion is against us because of this war but it was just as against us because of the sanctions. Iraqi people were being killed and stuffed into mass graves. We were told that thousands of Iraqi children died every month because of our actions. Our *allies* were undermining and subverting the UN approved sanctions. Saddam was building palaces and prisons for children in the Kurdish North while his sons acted like the children of Duke Harkonnen, knowing that they could do *nothing* that would be stopped or punished.

But because sanctions are *always* right and moral it didn’t matter how many Iraqis died, how many palaces Saddam built, if the Marsh Arabs ceased from the face of the Earth, and nothing *ever* improved, how the dead Iraqi children were used as a rally cry to radical Islam, or how the cess pit of the entire region played into a real and physical threat to the United States from radical Islam.

Sanctions don’t work except by misery and even then they don’t work in a non-democratic system. EVER. They do not act as a solution to problems, EVER.

All our "containment" of Saddam accomplished was hatred toward America and human misery for the people of Iraq.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Bottom line: Just as you can’t unilaterally disarm and expect others to do so just because you have, you can’t eschew all possibility of violence and commit yourself to appeasement in the name of peace and expect to keep your freedom or peace. If you unilaterally disarm you are going to see those with the strength to do so take advantage of the situation. Same with seeking peace by eshewing any possibility of violence. Your only route to that end, then, is appeasement and your enemies will take every advantage of that approach they can. There’s no downside in it for them and thus no incentive to act any other way.
Agreed.

Bush is selling $billions in arms to Saudi and refuses to censure any of that regimes actions. Saudi is a tyranny, but is classified as strategically friendly. Is this policy greatly different in effect from the policy advocated by Kucinich and will it have the same effects?
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
"The lie is that being strong enough to defend oneself requires the kind of imperial power the US — half the world’s military budget, massive overseas deployments, and invasions of foreign states on the other side of the world. The lie is to call our policy defensive when we are an offensive, neo-imperial power."

Of course, as a political science professor you understand that if we did not police the sea lanes with our overly large navy, and did not occupy various countries (Germany, Korea, Japan) and instead had a smaller defensive force, most likely the rest of the world would simply spend far more on defense since they could not rely on our global projection of power. Not to mention that other countries might be less deterred from going to war with each other.

And should we have had such a small military during the Cold War? I mean, North Korea invaded South Korea because they thought the south was not under our protection. Imagine if in 1946 we had pulled all of our "neo-imperial" troops out of Europe and Asia and only kept a few infantry divisions and coastal patrol vessels around? You think we’d have a more peaceful world?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Iraq was an enemy? Desert Storm was over. Saddam was defanged, his military a shadow of what it had been.
Hate to tell you this, Scott, but that’s a non-sequitur. Whether someone is an enemy has nothing to do with their capabilities. (It may affect one’s response to them. One may safely ignore certain enemies, but that’s doesn’t mean they’re not enemies.)

Saddam was clearly an enemy. Anything he could do against us, he would do. We had just arranged so what he could do was limited.

But for how long? And what might we have missed? At the time (on every side of the political aisle and boths sides of the Atlantic) most thought there was a good probability that he had some sort of WMD in his possession and ambitions for more. You can’t go back and say "Oh, but he had no capabilities, so we shouldn’t have done anything." That’s 20-20 hindsight.

And, as we have so often discussed, there was one other main reason: to establish a beachhead for positive change in the Middle East. Again, you may think that an unwise strategy, but if it is the chosen strategy, then Iraq was the obvious choice to try it. Saddam was already an enemy, and Iraq sits in the perfect position to project power and influence against the three worst offenders in promoting Islamism.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Being old enough to be close to the events and having actually studied history in public school, I remember that the US had an official hands off and isolationist policy prior to WWII; what did that get us. The Japanese, as did the senior al Qaeda members in 2001, assumed that if the US was attacked our union would disintegrate and/or we would sue for peace. Also Hitler declared war on the US after dismissing our capabilities. But Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto feared awaking the sleeping giant, since he had studied and lived in the US. Perceptions are everything, it is said.

The anti-war, isolationist, peace at any price, retreat or withdraw rhetoric given prominent exposure in the Western media now is similar to that of the 1930’s. When a country or person projects weakness, it may inadvertently provoke aggressive behavior from those who harbor criminal intend and/or aggressive behavior; but appear strong and enemies are more careful of their actions. Those who actually live outside of an academic or sheltered environment do not need a study to know this from observed interactions in everyday life, but studies of criminals (and from history tyrants) show that they seem to have an innate ability to determine who will be easy prey and criminals usually seek the weak, or those they perceive as weak.

There is a void in the world now when it comes to countries in the West able to project strength. The Canadian military, which used to be the UN peace keeper force with strong disciplined forces, has been a hollow shell in years past and is now doing its best under the present more conservative government to recover from that situation. Great Britain will be severely reducing its navy and combat forces in the next year or so if plans made public are followed. The French and German forces are not in a proactive combat stance in Afghanistan and neither have the logistics to send their troops into battle from far. The EU has been slowly reducing their military spending as social welfare costs spiral. Therefore, unfortunately, the US has to fill that void or other forces hostile to us and our Western friends will. My gut says withdraw from the world, but I know from my military service and civilian career on the ground in international construction that oceans and distance no longer offer protection from evil intent. Unless one is blinded by BDS, 9-11 should have demonstrated that concept.

Imagine a world without a reluctant US military patrolling the world beat. Even now piracy, some with and some without al Qaeda support, is on the rise in the Horn of Africa and off of Malaysia and the Philippines, a major oil tanker route. US naval forces with support from a allies are tracking and fighting it.

I say reluctantly because in this modern post WWI Philippine insurrection time period we have not taken territory from other countries as an old fashioned imperial power would. We don’t even receive the respect a beat cop does for our efforts. Our economic imperialism is also vastly reduced as globalization of markets increase, regardless of what people believe about Halliburton, although our cultural one is rising as the French have reluctantly observed. As I told an anti-US Australian couple in my old stomping ground of San Francisco on the Powell Street cable car (such symbolism) who said we were in Iraq for their oil; if we wanted oil we would have kept Kuwait as our Middle East territory.

I have yet to meet a bully who believes that compromise is not just appeasement by another name and a sign of weakness unless there is a concurrent projection of strength and the belief by the bully that one possesses the willingness to use it. So those who believe in peace at any price please place a “gun free zone” sign in your yard and see what happens. I choose not to do so just yet nor do I propose that our country do so.
 
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
Excellent comment, AMR. To expand upon a point you made:
The anti-war, isolationist, peace at any price, retreat or withdraw rhetoric given prominent exposure in the Western media now is similar to that of the 1930’s.
The "peace-at-any-price" movement of the 1930s came about because of the recent memory of the "Great War" and the fear that the world would return or devolve into a state of perpetual war and not return. Orwell’s 1984 was written with that vey idea as a backdrop to the main story. As a result, the appeasement by the West was seen as a necessary evil. Necessary in order to avoid a far greater peril - the return of the trenches of the Great War. They could not foresee a greater evil than that - one called the holocaust.

We are now 60+ years removed from that kind of violence (WWII) and with minor exceptions the world has been free of major military strife for that entire period. (I do not downplay the effects of Korea, Viet Nam, the Isreali or Gulf Wars - they just do not approah the same intensity). Memory is short and the comfort of our lives in the west is such that appeasement is now seen as acceptable - not becasue of the recent memory of the horrors of war but the 60+ years removed from the results of similar paths of appeasment.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
This is a link to the longer version of Bawer’s article at City Journal.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Boris writes:
You list me (I assume I’m the U Maine prof) as involved in the quackery when I’m really far more libertarian than leftist, am a supporter of markets, and distrust governmental power.
Love that "I’m really far more libertarian than leftist."

Recall the long period during which Boris posed himself as a "left libertarian" and assured everyone that it was all the rage in Europe.

I came up with a definition for "Left Libertarianism": Staying up all night at the government subsidized espresso bar drinking free espresso and complaining about the government.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
One general comment: comparing today’s need for counter-terrorism to WWII simply doesn’t hold water. The two major advanced industrial powers of the era, Germany and Japan, were on imperialist expansions. Here we’re dealing with a rag tag team of terrorists who control little territory and do not hold the hearts and minds of most people in "their" population. Iraq was a shell of a country when attacked. It is utter fantasy to promote such a weak opponent to the likes of Japan and Germany, and perhaps have romantic visions of some kind of great war. That’s not reality!

Also, I think a few of you are really overestimating American military power, and underestimating our "overstretch." We can’t "patrol the world beat," we do not have the capacity to be the world cop. Look at the problems we have in Iraq, a country whose military had already been decimated, whose economy was in shambles, whose leadership held a tenuous grip (and didn’t control chunks of the territory) and whose secrets we knew. We can’t even handle that, let alone be a world cop! We have to coldly confront the reality we have, not wishful thinking.

Look, this is how great powers fall. They start defining their interests globally, they rationalize interventions and offensive actions by finding a way to declare them defensive (or to "help" those we are attacking), and then lose allies, lose moral standing, overstretch and weaken themselves, and ultimately divide themselves internally. America was founded with the greatest of ideals and values, and I am convinced our policies now are in denial of some of these core values. Instead of the shining city on a hill, we are trying to enforce a pax americana.

And, while people may grasp at some tactical successes of the surge, or optimism that maybe Iraq will go better, it’s hard to ignore the internal divisions in the military, in the political elite (not just the left, obviously), the problems the military face, our weakened status on the world stage, and our dependence on foreign capital and foreign oil. I have children, I want this country to provide them all the opportunities I have, I want them to live in security, prosperity and liberty. I believe our current policy endangers that, and that is why I’m so persistent in begging you ’hawks’ out there to at least consider the alternatives and question your assumptions. I promise to do likewise.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It is utter fantasy to promote such a weak opponent to the likes of Japan and Germany, and perhaps have romantic visions of some kind of great war. That’s not reality!
And nobody is dong that, Erb, except yourself. My comments refer to an attitude of appeasement that permeated the western world in the 1930s and, although different for many reasons, is being replicated today. That is reality. Just look around at the normal conventions of our day to day world that is being forced to submit for the sake of diversity and culture because of fear. Forced to submit to a culture that refuses to admit to the reality of a world enterring the 21st Century. A culture that refuses to advance from their own stagnated 7th Century attitudes. World war on the scale of facing Germany or Japan? No. But a cultural war that has the potential to create as much if not more devastation and horror than the previous 2 world wars combined.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Synova:
Richard, when you explain why we were right to go to war with Germany, you explain why we are right to take military action in this war as well.
Well, this thread is getting a bit long in the tooth and so I’ll be moving on. I began hammering out something last night, tired of it, and hot the rack instead.

This morning, I see Scott pretty much covered it:
One general comment: comparing today’s need for counter-terrorism to WWII simply doesn’t hold water. The two major advanced industrial powers of the era, Germany and Japan, were on imperialist expansions. Here we’re dealing with a rag tag team of terrorists who control little territory and do not hold the hearts and minds of most people in "their" population. Iraq was a shell of a country when attacked. It is utter fantasy to promote such a weak opponent to the likes of Japan and Germany, and perhaps have romantic visions of some kind of great war. That’s not reality!
Now I understand why I just couldn’t bring myself to get a reply out. It was just oo far off from my view of things.

What Germany and Japan were impressively (in practical warmaking terms) up to, the industrialization and capitalization required just does not compare with what we’re fighting now. It’s like comparing GM to a 7/11. And that’s really the essence of the problem. It’s too damn easy for them to just keep opening new 7/11s, and the employees don’t require much training either.
Also, I think a few of you are really overestimating American military power, and underestimating our "overstretch." We can’t "patrol the world beat," we do not have the capacity to be the world cop.
Right. In the classical notion of warfare, you obliterate things and that particular problem ends forever and you move onto the next one. Eventually, you stretch and then overcome their ability to produce more and more warmaking hardware, then you overcome their ability to keep up with their losses, and then it’s just a matter of time.

For the crazies, their only real capital is human — and a human capital that seems perfectly willing to be the chief instrument and not just an operator. Explosives seem easy enough for them to get "off the shelf," and in the basest sense they don’t even need a network or organization. They can conduct "grassroots" terrorism.

I note that, unless I’ve missed it, nobody has yet challenged my assertion that this whole thing smells a lot like the war on drugs and is just as easily futile and unwinnable.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
Hmm, and here I thought it was deterrence and prosperity which has kept most of the world relatively unbloodied in the last 50 years, and not because, we all get along.

The real battle is in changing the conditions on the ground in these countries so that the people live better lives, meaning, secure, free, and prosperous.

There is a path somewhere between appeasement, and all out war. And it is being implemented now, around the Horn of Africa, and other places. It is not solely military, and it is not solely diplomacy.

Where ot fails is that the efforts ought to be more international, and co-ordinated. We (the West) don’t have the international backing for all the projects that need to occur. The biggest problem occurs when the regime of a particular nation doesn’t operate in it’s peoples own best interests, and cling to ways that have no chance of working.

Some interesting poll numbers that Michael Barone has dug up.
Will the United States be safer from terrorism if it confronts the countries and groups that promote terrorism or if it stays out of other countries’ affairs? Some 48 percent prefer confrontation, 44 percent staying out of other countries’ affairs. Fully 79 percent of Republicans are for confrontation, while 67 percent of Democrats are for staying out of other countries’ affairs.

But you don’t see such a partisan division when the question is whether the next generation of Americans will be less safe from foreign threats than we are now. Americans agree by a 57 percent to 39 percent margin — the margin of agreement is statistically identical among Republicans (17 percent), independents (19 percent) and Democrats (18 percent).

Will the threat from Islamic fundamentalism be significantly reduced once George Bush is no longer president? By a 58 percent to 35 percent margin, Americans say no. Will that threat be significantly reduced once U.S. troops leave Iraq? By a 58 percent to 37 percent margin, they say no.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Boris writes, IN THE SAME POST:
Here we’re dealing with a rag tag team of terrorists who control little territory and do not hold the hearts and minds of most people in "their" population. Iraq was a shell of a country when attacked. It is utter fantasy to promote such a weak opponent to the likes of Japan and Germany,
AND
Also, I think a few of you are really overestimating American military power, and underestimating our "overstretch." We can’t "patrol the world beat," we do not have the capacity to be the world cop. Look at the problems we have in Iraq, a country whose military had already been decimated, whose economy was in shambles, whose leadership held a tenuous grip (and didn’t control chunks of the territory) and whose secrets we knew. We can’t even handle that, let alone be a world cop!
In other words, we’re facing a very weak opponent and can’t defeat him anyway. There’s no real challenge, but we can’t meet it.

Sounds like Bruce Bawer sat in the back of Boris Erb’s classroom in disguise before writing his article.

And recall that Boris has many times complained about the size of the American military with lines that go roughly: "We have more military power than all the rest of the nations in the world put together, etc. etc."

And he says that knowing that we cut our division strength roughly in half during the ’90s as part of the "peace dividend."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
And that’s really the essence of the problem. It’s too damn easy for them to just keep opening new 7/11s, and the employees don’t require much training either. — Nikoley
And that’s what makes the GWOT too damned hard and too damned difficult and demanding? The irksomeness of standing between a bunch of ragtag counter clerks and any skyscrapers full of innocent people they may wish to collapse in the future?

I believe there was a bit of training and capital investment behind the Islamist attacks we endured six years ago tomorrow. And it seems that Osama et al. are finding that sort of backing a bit harder to come by and to utilize nowadays. Not to say that every move the US has made has been needed, on the one hand, or fully sufficient, on the other. Anything can happen still. Who knows but what one day AQ or a kindred crew might actually attack civilians on the US mainland and kill 3000 or so — something that I don’t believe either Germany or Japan managed to accomplish.
. . . nobody has yet challenged my assertion that this whole thing smells a lot like the war on drugs and is just as easily futile and unwinnable.
Druggies bungle their own lives and make life miserable for their immediate families. On occasion they might break into your house and, if you don’t blow their addled heads off, swipe something portable they can fence for a bit of cash.

Islamic terrorists murder people randomly and wholesale, expressly for the purpose of cowing whole cultures and countries into submission to their demands. Their foremost demand is that you either do what they say Allah tells you to do or run for your infidel life.

The war on drugs is some muddled mucking about with a silly name. The war against Islamic terrorists — today or tomorrow, here or over there — is war.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
"But, in my opinion and experience, such things are already studied as part of history. There is no need to create a new field such as "peace studies," which in my opinion tend to attract reflexively anti-war utopian idealists, pacifists, and other unrealistic thinkers."

But if you study actual, real history, you might find some inconvenient truths. It is much better to study only an extract, a select sample. That way there is much less confusion.


" But quickly: neo-imperial simply means exercising control and influence without having to actually take over other states and run them"

Balderdash. A distinction without a difference. Excercising control IS running them. Unless you mean not directly administering other states, by using a native police force and bureaucracy perhaps, in which case the ’neo’ is superfluous.


" I’m using the term to distinguish this form of imperialism from Soviet imperialism in the East bloc or traditional European imperialism."

Why just European imperialism?

******************************
"The danger and opportunity was that neither were presently capable of overcoming what we could bring to bear."

What does that mean?

"Clearly, given their expanding empires we could not let it get to a point were we couldn’t be sure of being able to defeat them."

For instance, if they were to acquire nuclear weapons?

***********************

"I remember that the US had an official hands off and isolationist policy prior to WWII; what did that get us...?

Well, that is not totally correct. While there was strong isolationist sentiment, there was also official and unofficial intervention. We were taking China’s side in the Sino-Japanese conflict, exerting strong diplomatic and economic pressure on Japan. After Japan occupied French Indochina we froze Japanese assets and cut off oil and other exports to them. We also had ground and naval forces in China until 1941, I think. In the Atlantic, we had the famous lend-lease program giving aid to Great Britain, and we also had a rather annoying, to the Germans, policy of helping the British sink German U-boats and kill German sailors and airmen. I could go on.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I look forward to the first "Neville Chamberlain School of Peace Studies."
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Well, okay fine then. If pointing out that neither Japan nor Germany could have threatened occupation of North America isn’t relevant, how about this instead...

The North American Indians could not resist the relentless Western movement of unorganized individuals moving into their territory. The West was not "won" by any organization, not by the Army, but by a movement of people. The rag tag militants of radical Islam are supported by an expanding Muslim world that observably does spread geographically and impose Muslim culture over greater area. It observably is encroaching into Africa and Asia and Europe. The North American Indians couldn’t resist, but today the West can.

If it is willing to do so.

Non-State occupation is not Historically unheard of.

(Oh, and NOW the islamic terrorists are a marginal "rag tag team" but yesterday Bin Laden was such a terrible threat that it was wrong to make mocking fun of him. Got it.)
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
The North American Indians could not resist the relentless Western movement of unorganized individuals moving into their territory. The West was not "won" by any organization, not by the Army, but by a movement of people. The rag tag militants of radical Islam are supported by an expanding Muslim world that observably does spread geographically and impose Muslim culture over greater area. It observably is encroaching into Africa and Asia and Europe. The North American Indians couldn’t resist, but today the West can.
Where, exactly, are the Muslims spreading through conquest?

What is the threat from "Islam"? And, by doing things like attacking Iraq and giving the extremists the benefit of arousing the emotion of youth against a ’foreign foe,’ might we not simply be helping the extremists who are in reality battling for the soul of the Islamic world. The extremists are a minority. Islam itself is not a threat, only an extremist/fascistic faction claiming to be Islamic. As noted by a couple people in this thread, that faction is not powerful, its only hope is to maneuver the "West" into actions that will be self-defeating and self-weakening. In my estimation, the Iraq war has been such an action, and represents a success on the part of al qaeda and the extremists to sucker the US into a response that does the West more harm than good. That said, it’s not too late to change track.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The current holder of the Chair of Vast Historical Ignorance at the University of Maine, Farmington asks:
Where, exactly, are the Muslims spreading through conquest?

What is the threat from "Islam"?
There are not enough hours in the day to respond again and again to such a moron, but fortunately the greatest student of Islam in our time is still alive and kicking:
Was Osama Right?
Islamists always believed the U.S. was weak. Recent political trends won’t change their view.
by Bernard Lewis
Then there is this longer treatment:
The 2007 Irving Kristol Lecture by Bernard Lewis
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Linda:
And that’s what makes the GWOT too damned hard and too damned difficult and demanding?
More like practically impossible. Living human lives implies limitations.
I believe there was a bit of training and capital investment behind the Islamist attacks we endured six years ago tomorrow.
Sure. They wanted to go all out and impress us — or fool us. I think they achieved both.
And it seems that Osama et al. are finding that sort of backing a bit harder to come by and to utilize nowadays.
Please be serious. If you don’t think they could accomplish finding a few to blow themselves up in a crowded American shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon just about any time they want, you’re not dealing in reality. Any they can do this the day after victory is declared in Iraq and everyone high-fives about how it was all worth it.

There is another alternative. Just leave them the f*uck alone. Period. Completely. Ignore them. See how it works. We may be surprised, and trying such a thing forecloses nothing we can do in the future. It’s not like we’re leaving them to go build an even bigger "military industrial complex."
Who knows but what one day AQ or a kindred crew might actually attack civilians on the US mainland and kill 3000 or so — something that I don’t believe either Germany or Japan managed to accomplish.
Linda, you’re welcome to be as fooled as you want to be. That’s all I can really say to that.
The war on drugs is some muddled mucking about with a silly name. The war against Islamic terrorists — today or tomorrow, here or over there — is war.
They are both sold as war, neither are like real war is or ought to be, and this is the underlying manipulation and dishonesty designed to get people fooled into supporting it as they would a no-sh*t threat like Germany, Japan, or the USSR.

Both are expensive on many levels; both target "producers" (or drugs and terror) that can easily go elsewhere; neither require that much networking or organization (less so for terrorists); both possess the attribute of "kill one and another takes his place;" and fighting both produce tons of collateral damage in terms of innocent deaths and ruined lives. I could go on.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
Scott, my point was that the "West" was not "won" through organized conquest. My point was that the lack of organized conquering armies doesn’t always matter. The charge that, unlike Japan or Germany, there is not an organized State occupational force, isn’t a conclusive argument... or even a particularly relevant one.

As for an expanding Islam... Africa and Asia, primarily, and a case can be made for Europe.


And Richard can explain how ignoring the problem will make it go away. While he’s at it he can explain how ignoring works in relation to global communications, commerce, and ease of travel. How does ignoring work when geography is irrelevant?

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Still contemplating the idea of war as it *ought* to be.

Like war follows rules or something.

Like it *cares*.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Synova writes:
Still contemplating the idea of war as it *ought* to be.
That’s always going to be the last war, which is always the wrong war to be fighting.

Right now we’re in a war against an enemy who expects to be able to step out of the shadows and blow up a city and then move back into the shadows and forward videotapes explaining the greatness of the triumphs.

The role that the more concentrated conflict in Iraq plays in that is vital. It has drawn a commitment from the jihadists and has become a test case for their strategy of finishing the demoralization of the West.

I note that the academic world and the Democratic leaders in Congress have taken up their cause, which tells the jihadis that they’re the eventual winners.

But not so fast: the battlefield is starting to take on real definition, as opposed to being defined by defeatists and enemy sympathizers.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
First, you’re very vague, Synova, in where Islam is "expanding," or even why one should consider "Islam" a threat. It seems to me that the extremists are the threat, and they are weak and under surveillance by governments around the world.
Scott, my point was that the "West" was not "won" through organized conquest. My point was that the lack of organized conquering armies doesn’t always matter. The charge that, unlike Japan or Germany, there is not an organized State occupational force, isn’t a conclusive argument... or even a particularly relevant one.
I think your analogy is weak. And, to be sure, the existence of armies and a strong state was fundamental to the expansion of the US westward. It was in many ways a low tech holocaust, as many tribes and languages were wiped out. With quotes by people like Teddy Roosevelt that it would be no great tragedy if the red race were to die out to make way for the great white race, well...

It seems that you’re trying to find vague analogies in order to avoid confronting the facts of this case: our opponent is weak, as I said before: its only hope is to maneuver the "West" into actions that will be self-defeating and self-weakening.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb writes:
First, you’re very vague, Synova, in where Islam is "expanding," or even why one should consider "Islam" a threat.
Then why don’t you take a moment and look into it yourself, Boris.

It never hurts for someone pretending to "teach this stuff" to actually look into the matter before running his cakehole about it.

Never heard of Nigeria? Sudan? The Philippines? Chechnya? Kashmir? How about China?

Or Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, or the U.K.?

You’re not one of those folks who can’t find the United States on a map of the United States, are you Boris?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Boris Erb writes:
And, to be sure, the existence of armies and a strong state was fundamental to the expansion of the US westward. It was in many ways a low tech holocaust, as many tribes and languages were wiped out.
Actually not you lying (because this has been explained to you before) swine.

The indian tribes of North America were decimated by disease (principally smallpox), not by warfare, and most of that occurred before the end of the 18th Century, before serious westward expansion began, which is not to excuse any bad treatment that the tribes received. But there was no "low-tech holocaust."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
More Boris Erb:
It seems that you’re trying to find vague analogies in order to avoid confronting the facts of this case: our opponent is weak, as I said before: its only hope is to maneuver the "West" into actions that will be self-defeating and self-weakening.
Yes, of course, Boris, pursuing the enemy relentlessly and giving him no rest has long been known as the path to defeat.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
The indian tribes of North America were decimated by disease (principally smallpox), not by warfare, and most of that occurred before the end of the 18th Century, before serious westward expansion began, which is not to excuse any bad treatment that the tribes received. But there was no "low-tech holocaust."
When the English landed in the early 1600’s, disease had already decimated the indians on the East coast.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I think your analogy is weak. And, to be sure, the existence of armies and a strong state was fundamental to the expansion of the US westward. It was in many ways a low tech holocaust, as many tribes and languages were wiped out.


In fact, the West was won by settlers. The army did indeed help, although we only had a 27,000 man standing army when we went to war with Spain in the laste 1890s.

Tribes and languages were basically wiped out by civilization and a dominate culture. Warfare was only a minor part of that.

The underlying fact was that the indian cultures were not compatable with English/American culture, and that in a contest the ultimate winner was never in doubt, except in the first several years after the English arrived.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Other Europeans were similarly brutal world wide. The West was built on violence, conquest, and expansion. Funny how so many people rationalize it away while wanting to see other cultures as uniquely violent.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"The West was built on violence, conquest, and expansion"

Yep, among other things. So was the East, North, and South, but the West was better at it.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The current holder of the Chair of Vast Historical Ignorance at the University of Maine, Farmington writes:
The West was built on violence, conquest, and expansion. Funny how so many people rationalize it away while wanting to see other cultures as uniquely violent.
The West begins, after the fall of Rome, fighting off Muslims surging into what is now France from the Iberian peninsula and out of North Africa and fighting off invaders of various stripe from the north and east.

The West learned early and often that the neighbors were not friendly, especially the Muslims who laid siege to Vienna as late as the late 17th Century.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"The West was built on violence, conquest, and expansion"

Yep, among other things. So was the East, North, and South, but the West was better at it.


That’s true...conquering most of the planet, decimating the political cultures of Africa, destroying native peoples in the Americas, and then turning the violence on themselves in an orgy of death and destruction in the early 20th century — the holocaust, world wars, nuclear weapons, and positively horrific ideologies like Stalinist communism that caused the death of tens of millions, and was experted to places outside the West.

Yeah, we got that violence and destruction thing down pretty well.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Yeah, we got that violence and destruction thing down pretty well."

Yeah, I think I already said that. is there some other point there, other than your evident dislike of Western civilization?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://


Yeah, I think I already said that. is there some other point there, other than your evident dislike of Western civilization?
Here is something you should learn Tim: accepting and acknowledging reality is important. It does not mean one doesn’t like western civilization if one acknowledges the reality of its history. Truth is important, and acknowledging truth is the means whereby we improve our civilization. That’s why the US went from having slavery and women not voting and other things we’d find today as completely unacceptable to what we have now.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb, the holder of the Chair of Vast Historical Ignorance at the University of Maine, Farmington, writes about Western Civilization:
That’s true...conquering most of the planet, decimating the political cultures of Africa, destroying native peoples in the Americas, and then turning the violence on themselves in an orgy of death and destruction in the early 20th century — the holocaust, world wars, nuclear weapons, and positively horrific ideologies like Stalinist communism that caused the death of tens of millions, and was experted to places outside the West.

Yeah, we got that violence and destruction thing down pretty well.
"Conquering most of the planet?" That’s an interesting question. What really happened, for instance, in China and India with those cultures. Of course, when Napoleon tried to actually conquer Russia, a culture with at least one leg in the modern world, he got beaten.

"Decimating the political cultures of Africa?" Nonsense.

"Destroying native peoples in the Americas." You were corrected on that just a day or so ago, again. That means you’re either a liar or stupid, and I don’t think there’s any need to choose one. But I repeat myself.

As for your "orgy of death and destruction" of the 20th Century try a sober analysis, like that of Michael Burleigh in Sacred Causes. You’ll find your own proclivities central to the orgy you say you detest.

You, Boris, are a direct and immediate heir to the pathologies of the 20th Century, and you have at your core even more ignorance and lies than those pathologies required to stoke their furnaces.

I would cite, just as a for instance with a particularly nasty edge to it, your instant embrace of the thinly disguised antisemitism of Mearsheimer and Walt.

Then there has always been your ready excuse-making for virtually every totalitarian communist regime extant.

Top that off with your recitation of the typical KGB version of history, where all context is stripped from World history save the Marxist perspective on Western success, and all these years after the Soviet demise, and you’re one silly goose.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
" accepting and acknowledging reality is important. It does not mean one doesn’t like western civilization if one acknowledges the reality of its history"

Nobody here that I have read here has ever denied that the West has been violent, etc., yet you continually act as though we do. Jeez, consider the point made and move on. Stop wasting everyone’s time with this mawkish and neverending recitation of the faults of Western civilization. We get it. What you don’t seem to get is that sin and nastiness is not found excluisively in European civilization. Those little brown and yellow and black people can be, and have been, just as nasty as white folks. Losing does not make the loser more virtuous than the winner, it just makes them the loser, just as winning does not make the winner more virtuous than the loser.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Nobody here that I have read here has ever denied that the West has been violent, etc., yet you continually act as though we do.

Where do I say you’ve denied that the West has been violent?

Jeez, consider the point made and move on.

Methinks thou doth protest too much.
Stop wasting everyone’s time with this mawkish and neverending recitation of the faults of Western civilization. We get it.

You choose what you want to read or respond to, you are responsible if you waste your time, not I. And, I’m not sure why you think I’m giving an ’neverending recitation,’ it was just a couple of posts. You seem very bothered by them though.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb writes:
You choose what you want to read or respond to, you are responsible if you waste your time, not I.
He’s just pointing out to you, Boris, exactly what everyone who has ever dealt with you has pointed out to you: what an incredible liar you are. That’s what he means when he suggests that you stop wasting the time of others.

Maybe he doesn’t know yet that you’ll never stop.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
" That’s what he means when he suggests that you stop wasting the time of others."

Actually, no, that is not what I mean. If and when I wish to call someone a liar, I will do so clearly.

**************

"Where do I say you’ve denied that the West has been violent?"

Perhaps you need glasses; I shall repeat, in caps.

"YET YOU CONTINUALLY ACT AS THOUGH WE DO."

In case it is just a comprehension problem, I said you ACT AS THOUGH WE DO, not that you SAID that we do. Act is not a synomymn for said. Compris?

"it was just a couple of posts."

Actually, it is more than a couple. You do tend to be repetitious.

"Methinks thou doth protest too much."

Gee, is that an ad hominem? Tut, tut.




 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Methinks thou doth protest is clearly not argumentum ad hominem. It’s an observation and opinion.

As for how I "act" — you gotta be more clear. All you have are words on a screen. How is that "acting?"
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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