Thursday, May 15, 2008 76 Comments

OL5: the shortest way to world peace

After four loping and windy installments, I thought this week I'd vary the formula. Instead of an open letter to open-minded progressives at large, this is an open letter to just one: Charles Stross, the science-fiction writer.

My first excuse for this audacity is that I know Charlie - sort of. At least, we hung out on the same Usenet group in the early '90s, when he was an aspiring novelist and I was an annoying teenager. Frankly, anyone who could tolerate me even slightly in my Rimbaud period is too supine to protest at any atrocity I could possibly perpetrate now.

My second excuse is that last year on his Christmas wish list, Charlie included a goodie which I know a lot of you open-minded progressives have been wishing for as well - world peace.

Well, it just so happens I have a plan for world peace. Only one problem - it's not a progressive plan. Do ya wanna hear it? C'mon, I know you do.

My proposal is the most obvious one imaginable. Perhaps this is why I've never heard anyone propose it. It can be expressed in one sentence. Are you ready? Here we go. The US should recognize the independence and sovereignty of every government on earth, and respect it according to the principles of classical international law.

Perhaps this proposal sounds progressive to you. (It's meant to sound progressive.) As we'll see, it's about as progressive as William the Conqueror.

Perhaps you doubt its power to produce that fantastic desideratum, world peace. Reader, I will simply have to rely on your patience. All will be uncovered. But not immediately.

Why can't I just explain my peace plan directly? Why do you have to churn through another few thousand words? Because you are a progressive and I am a reactionary, and terms like independence, sovereignty, and international law don't mean the same things to us.

As Wittgenstein said: if a lion could talk, we would not understand him. As citizens of the progressive 20th century, we grew up with the progressive theory of government and history. All, or almost all, intelligent people today believe this theory. And if we accept it as reality, the concept of a reactionary plan for world peace makes no more sense than a talking lion.

There are two explanations of why everyone today (including "conservatives," whose deviations from Whiggery are negligible by historical standards) is a progressive. The first is that progressive values are universal, and progressive analysis is irrefutable. The second is that the progressive worldview has some property, other than truth and righteousness, which has enabled it to consistently defeat its enemies.

I say "defeat" because I mean "defeat." Imagine, for example, that the Axis had won the war. There are many easy ways to construct this counterfactual, but perhaps the easiest is to imagine that Heisenberg had done a better job with the Nazi bomb. If the Nazis have nukes in, say, 1943, the road to a Nazi 2008 is pretty straight.

The question is: in our Nazi 2008, what would Wikipedia look like? Let's assume there is a Nazi Wikipedia. Let's assume it has exactly the same NPOV policy it has today:
All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.
Of course, in the Nazi 2008, all "significant views" are Nazi views. All "reliable sources" are Nazi sources. All the Wikipedia editors, all the contributors, are - you get it. Of course, there will be diversity of opinion - there will be radical Nazis, conservative Nazis, and moderate Nazis. Nazipedia must reflect all the major currents of the great river of Nazi thought.

(If you really want to break your brain, imagine if the Nazi 2008 found a way to send a film crew into the real 2008, and made a propaganda documentary showing the world as it would be if the Jewish Bolshevik plutocrats had not been vanquished. The camera eye is, of course, selective. But what would it select? Hm.)

But in the real 2008, Nazipedia does not exist. Why? Because there are not enough Nazis to write it. There are actually no Nazis at all in 2008. There are neo-Nazis, but they are lowlife scum. Neo-Nazism attracts only weirdos and losers, because (a) it is idiotic, and (b) it has no chance of success. National Socialism proper, while no less idiotic, was successful. Even among the intellectual classes, not exactly its political base, it found supporters galore. There was never any shortage of talented and ambitious Nazis. Why would there be?

So there is no Nazi Wikipedia, but there could be. There is no Confederate Wikipedia, but there could be. And there is no Jacobite Wikipedia, but there could be. If you can imagine the first, can you imagine the second? I can't even imagine the third - and I'm a Jacobite myself.

On certain subjects, I'm sure Nazipedia would be quite reliable. Medicine, for example. Or physics - Nazi nukes would have spelled finis for Deutsche Physik. It's not at all improbable that in many technical areas, the Axis scientists and engineers of 2008 would have outperformed our own. It'd certainly be cool to see what, say, a Nazi CPU looks like.

But on the subjects of Jews, Judaism, Judaeology, etc, etc, do we care what Nazipedia has to say? We don't. We know that it is nonsense. Or to be more exact, some combination of truth and misinterpretation. Perhaps there will even be some factual errors. But why should there be? As Goebbels always said, the truth is the best propaganda. If the page for Jew links you to all the sinister deeds that have ever been performed by anyone who happened to be Jewish, it will certainly suffice. (Kevin McDonald is a modern master of this game.)

So here is my claim about government: as a progressive, your theory of government - its history, its principles, even its present-day structure and operation - is nonsense.

Just as a misunderstanding of Jews is a fundamental element of the Nazi synopsis, a misunderstanding of government is a fundamental element of the Whig synopsis. It is simply beyond repair. If you are a progressive and you want to understand government, past and present, your best strategy is to forget everything you know and start from scratch. "Zen mind, beginner's mind."

A fun way to demonstrate this, I find, is the method of mysteries. Using my reactionary Jedi mind tricks, painstakingly sifted from the ashcan of history, I ask a question you can't answer. Then I answer it. And you are enlightened - whether or not you want to be.

Here is a question: what is the most successful Protestant denomination in the US today?

Given that North America was colonized largely by Protestant refugees, you'd think the answer would be pretty obvious. I think it's extremely obvious. It's almost a trick question. Is it obvious to you? If not, let's see if we can find some enlightenment.

Suppose you're poking through old books one day, and you find a strange little essay that was written 300 years ago. The author is certainly one of the ten most important writers in the history of your language. Perhaps even one of the top five.

The essay was originally printed as a pamphlet. It is a polemical pamphlet, written with great wit and sharpness, and its politics are extremely, well, extreme. It advocates policies that perhaps would have been approved by some figures of the time, but never publicly endorsed. Nothing like them was applied. In fact, the political winds shifted in the opposite direction.

Yet what's strange is that the arguments seem quite cogent. Not just from the perspective of 300 years ago - but from the perspective of now. Not that the extreme policies of 300 years ago are now mainstream - at least not these extreme policies. But the pamphlet warns that, if X is not done, Y will happen. X was not done. And Y happened.

What's even stranger is that the pamphlet was printed anonymously, as a sort of provocation or black propaganda. It was not a Swiftian satire. It was believable. Its readers took it quite seriously. But its actual author was quite opposed to X, and when his identity was disclosed the authorities were not amused.

The author was Daniel Defoe. The pamphlet was The Shortest-Way With The Dissenters. I recommend reading The Shortest-Way in its entirety. It is, of course, short, and quite fun.

What's neat about The Shortest-Way is that it gives us a more or less complete Tory history of England in the 17th century, without any mealy-mouthed pandering or Whig double-talk. From the viewpoint of the narrator, who of course is an uber-high Tory, the history of 17th-century England is the history of a nation beset by a kind of mental virus.

The virus is called Dissent. Its slavering zombies, who somehow manage to be both religious fanatics and Communist conspirators, are the Dissenters. The fruit of this tree is clear: war, poverty, revolution and tyranny. The only way to deal with the contagion is to root it out with a rod of iron. "Now, LET US CRUCIFY THE THIEVES!" If the 2008 election gets your blood flowing, woo baby. Politics in 1704 was certainly a contact sport.

And yet no historian would dispute the essential claim of the piece: that the Anglicans, when in power, were far more tolerant of the Dissenters than vice versa. (In case you're wondering, a Dissenter is more or less the same thing as a Puritan.)

And what's really fascinating is the arch-Tory prediction of what will happen if, despite all reason, these wretches are allowed to continue with their conspiring:
How just will such reflections be, when our posterity shall fall under the merciless clutches of this uncharitable Generation! when our Church shall be swallowed up in Schism, Faction, Enthusiasm, and Confusion! when our Government shall be devolved upon Foreigners, and our Monarchy dwindled into a Republic!
Rowan Williams, anyone? Brussels, anyone? Granted, England retains its symbolic monarchy, but I'd hate to imagine what any writer who could describe William of Orange as a Mock King would make of the present royals, who are as machtlos as they are feckless.

Of course, to today's Whig, our modern progressive, all these changes are good. The English monarchy has not dwindled into a republic. It has grown into a republic. Its government has not devolved upon foreigners. It has joined with them in a great act of principled unity. Etc.

Yet I see no reason to think that even Defoe himself, let alone an old high Tory, would have seen it this way. "Republic" in 1704 meant Praisegod Barebones. A republican in Queen Anne's England was about as hard to find as a Nazi in modern Germany. Okay, I exaggerate. Slightly.

But here is the conundrum: we have here a 300-year-old document whose proposals, even by the standards of 1704, were so right-wing that no one could utter them seriously. The only thing to the right is - literally - the Spanish Inquisition. And yet its analysis and its predictions are spot on. Don't you find that a little weird?

Does this answer the Protestant question? Is it the key to world peace? Neither. It is just a little clue - that's all.

You go back to poking through old books. And you find another one.

This one is a history book. It is only 100 years old - a spring chicken, really. I had never heard of the author and I can't find any biographical information on him. He is simply a historian. A rather good one, too, as far as I can tell, and quite reputable in his day.

But the book is a little stick of dynamite. It is a critical reevaluation of the foundation myth of the most important government on earth. It is deeply subversive.

According to the official story, the founders were prudent and principled men whose rights had been violated once too often by a tyrannical occupation regime, whose love of freedom finally overcame their love of peace, and who prevailed by their courage and force of arms after a desperate struggle. According to the historian, however...

But why spoil it? The book is Sydney George Fisher's True History of the American Revolution. (Here is the original New York Times review.) I believe Fisher was an American himself, which is remarkable considering his results. As he puts it in his first paragraph:
The purpose of this history of the Revolution is to use the original authorities rather more frankly than has been the practice with our historians. They appear to have thought it advisable to omit from their narratives a great deal which, to me, seems essential to a true picture.
To a revision junkie like me, a paragraph like this produces an almost physical excitement. Imagine you're a crackhead, just walking down the street looking for car windows to smash, when suddenly on the sidewalk you see an enormous rock the size of a softball. Whose is it? Who left it there? Will it fit in your pipe? Who cares? You're on it like a wolf on a baby.

What (if we are to believe Mr. Fisher) did the historians omit? Let's resort again to the method of mysteries. Here are some questions about the American Revolution for which you may find you have no good answer:

One: why do the American loyalists share a nickname with a British political party? Is this just a coincidence, or does it imply some kind of weird alliance? And what is on the other side of said alliance? If the loyalists are called Tories, why does no one call the Patriots Whigs?

Two: what on earth is the British strategy? Why do the redcoats seem to be spending so much time just hanging around in New York or Philadelphia? Valley Forge is literally twenty miles from Philly. Okay, I realize, it's winter. But come on, it's twenty miles. General Washington is starving in the snow out there. His troops are deserting by the score. And Lord Howe can't send a couple of guys with muskets to go bring him in? Heck, it sounds like a well-phrased dinner invitation would probably have done the trick.

Three: if the Stamp Act was such an intolerable abuse, how did the British Empire have all these other colonies - Canada, Australia, yadda yadda - where everyone was so meek? Surely we can understand the idea that taxation without representation was the first step toward tyranny. So where is the tyranny? Where are Her Majesty's concentration camps? Okay, there was the Boer War, I guess. But more generally, why is the history of America so different from that of the other colonies?

Four: why does no one outside America seem to resent these unfortunate events at all? I mean, the Revolution was a war. People got pretty violent on both sides. In some parts of the world, when people lose a war, they don't feel that it was just God's will. They feel that God would be much more satisfied if there was some payback. And they tend to transmit this belief to their offspring. In the American unpleasantness, a lot of people - loyalists - got kicked out of their homes. They had to leave with only a small travel bag. When this sort of thing happens in the Middle East, it's remembered for the life of the known universe.

There is actually a slight clue to two of these questions in the text we just left - the Shortest-Way. Defoe, or rather his hyper-Tory alter-ego, writes:
The first execution of the Laws against Dissenters in England, was in the days of King James I; and what did it amount to? Truly, the worst they suffered was, at their own request, to let them go to New England, and erect a new colony; and give them great privileges, grants, and suitable powers; keep them under protection, and defend them against all invaders; and receive no taxes or revenue from them!
This was the cruelty of the Church of England! Fatal lenity! It was the ruin of that excellent Prince, King Charles I. Had King James sent all the Puritans in England away to the West Indies; we had been a national unmixed Church! the Church of England had been kept undivided and entire!
(I think we can take it for granted that the difference between sending the Puritans to Massachusetts or Jamaica is not, at least in the narrator's mind, a matter of climate. Oh, no.)

We learn three things from this passage. One, the issues of the Revolution were already in play 70 years earlier. Two, since Whiggery is the political projection of Puritanism (elsewhere our narrator refers to Fanatical Whiggish Statesmen), this is indeed a conflict of Whig and Tory. And three, at least from the Tory perspective, New England - far from being subjected to unprecedented despotism - has enjoyed a unique set of privileges.

Indeed. As Fisher puts it:
The British government, only too glad to be rid of rebellious Puritans, Quakers, and Roman Catholics, willingly gave them liberal charters. This explains that freedom in many of the old charters which has surprised so many students of our colonial history. Some of these liberal instruments were granted by the Stuart kings, with the approval of their officials and courtiers, all of whom showed by almost every other act of their lives that they were the determined enemies of free parliaments and free representation of the people.
Connecticut, for example, obtained in 1662 from Charles II a charter which made the colony almost independent; and to-day there is no colony of the British empire that has so much freedom as Connecticut and Rhode Island always had, or as Massachusetts had down to 1685. Connecticut and Rhode Island elected their own legislatures and governors, and did not even have to send their laws to England for approval. No modern British colony elects its own governor; and, if it has a legislature elected by its people, the acts of that legislature can be vetoed by the home government. A community electing its own governor and enacting whatever laws it pleases is not a colony in the modern English meaning of the word. Connecticut and Rhode Island could not make treaties with foreign nations, but in other respects they were, as we would now say, semi-independent commonwealths under the protectorate or suzerainty of England.
One of the many neat things about Fisher's history is that it was written when the British Empire was actually a going concern, not a shadowy boogeyman from the past. From the British perspective, the condition of the "semi-independent commonwealths" was irregular at best, and corrupt at worst. Generally the latter. This space is too short to contain the vast tapestry of corruption and venality that Fisher presents - read the book.

Basically, both England and America were happy not to force the issue while there was a third party on the scene - France. But in 1763, this changed:
Canada being conquered and England in possession of it, the colonies and England suddenly found themselves glaring at each other. Each began to pursue her real purpose more directly. England undertook to establish her sovereignty, abolish abuses, or, as she expressed it at that time, to remodel the colonies. The patriotic party among the colonists resisted the remodelling, sought to retain all their old privileges, and even to acquire new ones.
Again, I don't have the space to copy Fisher's encyclopedic evisceration of the bizarre jailhouse-lawyer barratry that the Americans, newly safe from Frenchification, put forth in their attempts to wriggle out of Britain's embrace. Read the book. And along with the barratry, there was another and more ominous development - mob violence:
During that summer of 1765, while the assemblies of the different colonies were passing resolutions of protest, the mobs of the patriot party were protesting in another way. It certainly amazed Englishmen to read that the mob in Boston, not content with hanging in effigy the proposed stamp distributors, levelled the office of one of them to the ground and smashed the windows and furniture of his private house; that they destroyed the papers and records of the court of admiralty, sacked the house of the comptroller of customs, and drank themselves drunk with his wines; and, finally, actually proceeded to the house of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchison, who was compelled to flee to save his life. They completely gutted his house, stamped upon the chairs and mahogany tables until they were wrecked, smashed the large, gilt-framed pictures, and tore up all the fruit-trees in his garden. Governor Hutchinson was a native of the province, was its historian, and with his library perished many invaluable historical manuscripts which he had been thirty years collecting. The mob cut open the beds and let the feathers out, which they scattered with his clothes, linen, smashed furniture, and pictures in the street.

That this outrage had been incited the day before by the preaching of the Rev. Dr. Mayhew, a Puritan divine, did not lessen its atrocity in the eyes of Englishmen. He had held forth on the text, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you;" and the mob came very near obeying his instructions literally. A great many respectable citizens were shocked, or appeared to be shocked, at this violence and excess. They held town meetings of abhorrence, a guard was organized to prevent such outrages in the future, and rewards were offered for rioters. But it is quite significant that, although the rioters were well known, as the historians assure us, no one was punished. Two or three were arrested, but were rescued by their friends, and it was found impossible to proceed against them.
I love that "appeared to be shocked." Does it not capture the essence of Dr. Johnson's hypothesis? As a more recent thinker put it: "Guilty as sin, free as a bird, it's a great country."

But we now reach the heart of the problem, which is that not all Americans are Whigs, and not all Englishmen are Tories.

The history of the Whig-Tory conflict is best told as a series of three civil wars: one east of the pond in the 17th century, one across the pond in the 18th, and one west of the pond in the 19th. So the American Revolution: a civil war with an ocean in the middle. As Fisher describes:
The whole question of the taxation of the colonies was raised again; witnesses, experts on trade, all sorts of persons familiar with the colonies, including Franklin, were called to the bar of the House, examined, and cross-examined. The agents of the different colonies were constantly in attendance in the lobbies. No source of information was left unexplored. The ablest men of the country were pitted against each other in continual debates, and colonial taxation was the leading topic of conversation among all classes. There were two main questions: Was the Stamp Act constitutional? and, If constitutional, was it expedient? It was the innings of a radical section of the Whigs, and, being favorable to liberalism and the colonies, they decided that the Stamp Act was not expedient. They accordingly repealed it within a year after its passage. But they felt quite sure, as did also the vast majority of Englishmen, that Parliament had a constitutional right to tax the colonies as it pleased, and so they passed what became known as the Declaratory Act, asserting the constitutional right of Parliament to bind the colonies "in all cases whatsoever;" and this is still the law of England.

The rejoicing over the repeal of the Stamp Act was displayed, we are told, in a most extraordinary manner, even in England. The ships in the Thames hoisted their colors and houses were illuminated. The colonists had apparently been able to hit a hard blow by the stoppage of trade. The rejoicing, however, as subsequent events showed, was not universal. It was the rejoicing of Whigs or of the particular ship-owners, merchants, and workingmen who expected relief from the restoration of the American trade. It was noisy and conspicuous. There must have been some exaggeration in the account of the sufferings from loss of trade. It is not improbable that Parliament had been stampeded by a worked-up excitement in its lobbies; for very soon it appeared that the great mass of Englishmen were unchanged in their opinion of proper colonial policy; and, as was discovered in later years, the stoppage of the American trade did not seriously injure the business or commercial interests of England.

But in America the rejoicing was, of course, universal. There were letters and addresses, thanksgivings in churches, the boycotting associations were instantly dissolved, trade resumed, homespun given to the poor, and the people felt proud of themselves and more independent than ever because they could compel England to repeal laws.

The colonists were certainly lucky in having chanced upon a Whig administration for their great appeal against taxation. It has often been said that both the Declaratory Act and the repeal of the Stamp Act were a combination of sound constitutional law and sound policy, and that if this same Whig line of conduct had been afterwards consistently followed, England would not have lost her American colonies. No doubt if such a Whig policy had been continued the colonies would have been retained in nominal dependence a few years longer. But such a policy would have left the colonies in their semi-independent condition without further remodelling or reform, with British sovereignty unestablished in them, and with a powerful party of the colonists elated by their victory over England. They would have gone on demanding more independence until they snapped the last string.

In fact, the Whig repeal of the Stamp Act advanced the colonies far on their road to independence. They had learned their power, learned what they could do by united action, and had beaten the British government in its chosen game. It was an impressive lesson. Consciously or unconsciously the rebel party among them was moved a step forward in that feeling for a distinct nationality which a naturally separated people can scarcely avoid.

Such a repeal, such a going backward and yielding to the rioting, threats, and compulsion of the colonists, was certainly not that "firm and consistent policy" which both then and now has been recommended as the true course in dealing with dependencies. The Tories condemned the repeal on this account, and in the course of the next ten or fifteen years ascribed to it the increasing coil of colonial entanglement.
This is the very nub of the issue. What's fascinating here is that we have two practical theories of how to deal with dependencies. One says that the most effective way to retain a dependency is to redress its grievances, tolerate its errors, and understand its complaints. The other says that the "true course" is a "firm and consistent policy."

This is not a moral disagreement. This is a case of "is," not of "ought." Both parties in England agree - or, at least, appear to agree - on the goal: American colonies that acknowledge the authority of Parliament. The Whigs think the most effective means to this end is to persuade America that England is really their friend, by making concessions when concessions are demanded. The Tories think the most effective means to this end is to use firm and consistent force, to show the Americans that they have no alternative.

After the war, the Whig theory became generally accepted in Britain. This answers question four: why the British have no hard feelings. They have no hard feelings because they believe the war resulted from a British mistake. The other week we read the first paragraph in Macaulay's History of England, that famous archetype of Whig history. From the second:
It will be seen how, in two important dependencies of the crown, wrong was followed by just retribution; how imprudence and obstinacy broke the ties which bound the North American colonies to the parent state; how Ireland, cursed by the domination of race over race, and of religion over religion, remained indeed a member of the empire, but a withered and distorted member, adding no strength to the body politic, and reproachfully pointed at by all who feared or envied the greatness of England.
Later, of course, England followed Macaulay's advice and made concessions in Ireland. As a result, the Irish have enjoyed many years of peace and have rewarded the British Empire with their eternal devotion and love. Not.

History is not science. Nor is government. Neither the American experiment nor the Irish is a general case with all variables controlled. They are more like parenting - every kid is different. Nonetheless, you'll find that most parenting experts - a few progressives excepted - indeed endorse the "firm and consistent" approach. And most parents consider it obvious.

From a purely intellectual standpoint, the Whig theory of government is attractive because it is not obvious. In fact, it's counterintuitive. If you want to keep your colonies, set them free. It's almost a Sting song. And there is a place in this theory for the intellectual. It demands explanation. Whereas the "firm and consistent policy" is, again, obvious. And who ever made a living by explaining the obvious?

On the other hand, the Whig theory has another attraction, of a more practical sort.

Suppose the Whig theory is right and the Tory theory is wrong. In that case, the Tories are working against their own interests. Unusual, certainly. But not unheard of.

Suppose the Whig theory is wrong and the Tory theory is right. In that case, the Tories are advancing their own interests. And the Whigs are...

See, here's the funny thing. There's a natural alliance between the American patriot party and the British Whigs. They are both, after all, Whigs. You'd expect some solidarity. Why don't the British Whigs just endorse the American rebels?

Because it's not 2008, is why. In the 21st century, encouraging an enemy in arms against your own government is normal politics. The word treason is almost funny. In the 18th, it was a different matter:
The doctrine, exclusively American in its origin, that rebels were merely men in arms fighting for an idea, mistaken or otherwise, who, when once subdued, were to be allowed to go their way like paroled prisoners of war, had not yet gained ground. Rebellion was at that time a more serious thing than it has since become under the American doctrine of the right of revolution. Most of the colonists could remember the slaughter and beheading inflicted in England on the rebels under the Pretender of 1745. The frightful hanging, torturing, and transportation of men, women, and even children, for such rebellions as that of Monmouth, were by no means yet forgotten. There was not a colonist who had not heard descriptions of London after a rebellion, with the bloody arms and hindquarters of rebels hung about like butchers' meat, the ghastly heads rotting and stinking for months on the poles at Temple Bar and on London Bridge, with the hair gradually falling off the grinning skulls, as the people passed them day by day.
If the Whigs in Parliament had openly sided with the rebels, dreams of the Shortest-Way would have danced in the eyes of the Tories. The pro-American stance taken by the likes of Burke (who later redeemed himself with the Reflections, but was always a Whig) was in fact the most effective way for a British politician to support the rebels: not on the grounds that they deserve independence, but on the grounds that conciliation is the most effective way to prevent it, as military coercion cannot possibly work. (Does this sound at all familiar?)

We see here also why the American patriots never described themselves as Whigs, and nor did their friends in Britain. If we think of the revolutionaries as Whigs, we are tempted to ask who is in the driver's seat - the ragtag armies and mobs in America, or the British intellectuals who encouraged their rebellion. We are tempted to see the revolution as a continuation of British politics by other means - much as our Republicans and Democrats of today might find themselves backing opposing armies in some insignificant country halfway around the world. (Obviously, this could never happen, but it would be very disturbing.)

You'll note that the Whig theory of the American revolution cannot in any way be regarded as directly proven. America was not conciliated into a return to the fold. In the Whig mind, this of course is because Whig conciliation was not really tried. Or at least not tried enough. A higher dose, no doubt, would have cured the patient.

However, the Tory theory is disproved indirectly, because the Tories tried to fight a war and failed. One of the two must be right, so the Whig theory is proven - indirectly. A very typical piece of Whig logic.

There is only one problem. Suppose I am a civil engineer and I send a letter to Caltrans, warning them that serious design flaws in the new Bay Bridge will cause it to collapse. If they hire me, I will fix it for them. They ignore my letter. The bridge collapses. This makes me a prophet, or at least a "whistleblower."

On the other hand, suppose an acetylene torch with my fingerprints on it is found around the base of the bridge. This puts the matter in a different light, n'est ce pas?

And so, for the failure of the Tories to suppress the American Revolution to be regarded as evidence for the Whig theory of conciliation, it sure would be nice to know that the reason that the Tories failed isn't that the Whigs prevented them from succeeding.

I am neither a specialist in the period, nor a historian at all. So I will simply point out one undisputed fact in the matter, which is that two of the leading British generals, Howe and Cornwallis, were Whigs - in fact, Whig MPs. For the rest, I will leave you in Fisher's hands. Perhaps he is right, and perhaps he isn't.

What's really interesting is that no one seems to care. After all, we live in a world which is more or less ruled by the US government - whether through its military power, or its "moral leadership." Washington is not without critics. And you'd think that anti-Americans everywhere would leap at an interpretation of history that presented the American project as more or less fraudulent from day one.

And perhaps they will. Perhaps Sydney George Fisher will "go viral." Perhaps by next week Ayman al-Zawahiri will have a printout in his cave. (Unfortunately, the True History has a lot of bad page scans, but you can also try his Struggle for American Independence, a later two-volume expansion: I, II. I'm afraid no Arabic translation is available.)

But I doubt it. Because the True History, as a loyalist or Tory history, is a reactionary history. It would afford rich amusement to any reactionary anti-Americans that might bump into it. However, since there are only about fifteen reactionary anti-Americans left in the world, none of whom is under the age of 60, I think Google can put off that server upgrade for a while.

What is reactionary anti-Americanism, anyway? Charles Francis Adams expresses it well in his essay A National Change of Heart (1902):
I recalled my first experiences in England far back in the "sixties," — in the dark and trying days of our Civil War; and again, more recently, during the commercial depression, and contest over the free coinage of silver, in 1896. Then, especially in the earlier period, nothing was too opprobrious — nothing too bitter and stinging — for English lips to utter of America, and men and things American. We were, as the Times, echoing the utterances of the governing class, never wearied of telling us, a "dishonest" and a "degenerate" race, — our only worship was of the Almighty Dollar. A hearty dislike was openly expressed, in terms of contempt which a pretence of civility hardly feigned to veil. They openly exulted in our reverses; our civilization was, they declared, a thin veneer; democracy, a bursted bubble.
In the 1960s, too, nothing was too opprobrious for English lips to utter of America. But were we a degenerate race of barbarians, ruled by the mob? Au contraire. Now, America was not democratic enough. We had become reactionary fascist capitalist pigs. And in between, as Adams describes, there was a honeymoon:
And now what a change! — and so very sudden! Nothing was too good or too complimentary to say of America. Our representatives were cheered to the echo. In the language of Lord Rosebery, at the King Alfred millenary celebration at Winchester, on the day following the McKinley [funeral], the branches of the great Anglo-Saxon stock were clasping hands across the centuries and across the sea; and the audience applauded him loudly as he spoke.
Ah, the "great Anglo-Saxon stock." As Hunter S. Thompson put it, we've certainly learned a lot about race relations since then.

So in the course of a century, we see Britain passing from anti-Americanism, through pro-Americanism, back to anti-Americanism. Is this a reversal? Did the pendulum swing, then swing back? But when we look at the actual political motifs in the two kinds of anti-Americanism, we see very little in common - besides of course hatred of America.

Clearly it's this word anti-American that's confusing us. If we split it in half we can see the trend clearly. To be counter-American is to resist American political theory. To be ultra-American is to accept American political theory so completely that you become more American than America itself, and you feel America is not living up to her own principles.

Thus we have a monotonic trend: increasing acceptance of American political theory. Adams has an interesting explanation:
The first was the outcome of our gigantic, prolonged Civil War. At one stage of that struggle, America — loyal America, I mean — touched its lowest estate in, the estimation of those called, and in Great Britain considered, the ruling class, — the aristocracy, the men of business and finance, the army and navy, the members of the learned professions. None the less, they then saw us accomplish what they had in every conceivable form of speech pronounced "impossible." We put down the Rebellion with a strong hand; and then, peacefully disbanding our victorious army, made good our every promise to pay. We accomplished our results in a way they could not understand, — a way for which experience yielded no precedent. None the less, the dislike, not unalloyed by contempt, was too deep-rooted to disappear at once, much more to be immediately transmuted into admiration and cordiality. They waited. Then several striking events occurred in rapid succession, — all within ten years.

I am no admirer of President Cleveland's Venezuela diplomacy. I do not like brutality in public any more than in private dealings. Good manners and courtesy can always be observed, even when firmness of bearing is desirable. None the less, bad for us as the precedent then established was, and yet will prove, there can be no question that, so far as Great Britain was concerned, the tone and attitude on that occasion adopted were productive of results at once profound and, in some ways, beneficial. The average Englishman from the very bottom of his heart respects a man who asserts himself, — provided always he has the will, as well as the power, to make the self-assertion good.

This, as a result of our Civil War, they felt we had. We had done what they had most confidently proclaimed we could not do, and what they, in their hearts, feel they have failed to do. Throughout our Rebellion they had insisted that, even if the conquest of the Confederacy was possible, — which they declared it manifestly was not, — the pacification of the Confederates was out of the question. They thought, also, they knew what they were talking about. Had they not for centuries had Ireland on their hands? Was it not there now? Were they not perpetually floundering in a bottomless bog of Hibernian discontent? Would not our experience be the same, except on a larger scale and in more aggravated form? The result worked out by us wholly belied their predictions. Not only was the rebellion suppressed, but the Confederates were quickly conciliated. The British could not understand it; in the case of the Transvaal they do not understand it now. They merely see that we actually did what they had been unable to do, and are still trying to do. The Spanish war showed that our work of domestic conciliation was as complete as had been that of conquest.
In other words, they love us because we're bad-asses. Quite a contrast to the present-day theory of anti-Americanism! But hardly refuted by it - quite a bit of bad-assery has flowed under the bridge since the Venezuela arbitration. Supposedly Eisenhower used barnyard language on the phone to Anthony Eden in the Suez crisis. Eden was not an uncultured man, he was surely familiar with the old counter-American tradition, and I suspect he muttered once or twice to himself that if Palmerston and Russell had just bit the bullet and recognized the freakin' Confederacy, none of this would be happening.

Adams' point boils down to the truism that a rational actor, if forced to take sides in a conflict, should choose the side more likely to win. (Recently, another prominent statesman expressed the same point in more equestrian terms.)

Thus we understand ultra-Americanism: in a world where all the real shots are called in Washington, ultra-Americanism is the most effective way to influence said calls.

First, you ally yourself with the ultra-Americans in America proper, of which there has never been any shortage. (What is Howard Zinn? An Eskimo?) By definition, power in America is moving in the direction of these actors, so you are on the winning team. Second, you add your weight to the winning team, thus entitling yourself to some kind of payback, by expressing the following sentiment ad nauseam: America, we hate you, and if you don't start living up to American principles, we will continue to hate you.

Of course, none of this is a conscious strategy - it just happens to work. You might be surprised how many Americans ascribe their support for ultra-American politics to this phenomenon, which enables the likes of a Barack Obama to talk about "America's moral leadership." As a counter-American might put it, if America is a moral leader, you really have to wonder who the moral followers are. Has the planet really sunk so low? Yes, I'm afraid it has.

If you hate America but you're tired of being an ultra-American, especially now that everyone else is one, why not consider a switch to the counter-American persuasion? I have just the perfect book for you. It's called Memoirs of Service Afloat, and it is the Great Confederate Novel, or would be if it was fiction. If you have ever felt yourself tempted to use the phrase "Universal Yankee Nation" in a disparaging sort of way, run, do not walk, to Admiral Semmes. Bear in mind, however, that many of your other opinions will need to change.

But we note something else in Adams' presentation - it is quite inconsistent with the Whig theory of the American Revolution. No wonder the British are impressed! Macaulay has just been telling them that Americans cannot be conquered and pacified by mere military force. Along comes the Universal Yankee Nation, and does just that. Perhaps it's just Yankees proper who are invulnerable, like the Lord's Resistance Army, to bullets.

And we are reminded, once again, of the Shortest-Way:
Sir Roger L'Estrange tells us a story in his collection of Fables, of the Cock and the Horses. The Cock was gotten to roost in the stable among the horses; and there being no racks or other conveniences for him, it seems, he was forced to roost upon the ground. The horses jostling about for room, and putting the Cock in danger of his life, he gives them this grave advice, "Pray, Gentlefolks! let us stand still! for fear we should tread upon one another!"

There are some people in the World, who, now they are unperched, and reduced to an equality with other people, and under strong and very just apprehensions of being further treated as they deserve, begin, with Aesop's Cock, to preach up Peace and Union and the Christian duty of Moderation; forgetting that, when they had the Power in their hands, those Graces were strangers in their gates!
So we see that when Whigs rebel against Tories, Tories should "stand still! for fear we should tread upon each other." When the shoe is on the other foot, however, "those Graces were strangers in their gates."

This is not a matter of the merits of the rebel causes in the American Revolution and the Civil War. As a progressive, of course, you believe (not very strongly) that the first rebellion was just, and you believe (very strongly) that the second was unjust. These are matters of morality, over which we cannot argue.

The question is the physical efficacy of coercive suppression in both cases. Your theory of history, which of course you did not invent but have received, assures you that coercion could not have worked in the first case. No theory is required to know that it worked in the second. If you were truly a believer in the Calvinist Providence, like your Whig forebears of old, the problem would be solved: God, whose ways are mysterious but whose arms are invincible, is on the side of the just. Therefore it is futile to attempt to overcome a just cause, whereas an unjust one must be resisted with all our might - God helps those who help themselves.

You have long since given up this belief. But its corollary persists - out of sheer habit, I must assume. I can find no other explanation. And since the belief, true or false, is clearly central to any strategy for world peace - most of today's wars being insurgencies of one sort or another - we have to resolve it.

In our pursuit of the Whig theory of war, we have advanced from the early 17th century to the late 19th. Let's pull just a little way into the 20th, and pick an episode which everyone will recognize, but hopefully few have strong attachments to.

Joseph Tumulty, a New Jersey politician, was one of Woodrow Wilson's advisers - think Colonel House, minus 20 IQ points. In 1921 he published an adoring political memoir, a genre somewhat new to history, called Woodrow Wilson As I Know Him.

It includes the following passage, which I'd like to think at this point is self-explanatory. If you get bored, you can skim, but don't be discouraged - there is a punchline.
No one standing on the side-lines in the capital of the nation and witnessing the play of the ardent passions of the people of the Irish race, demanding that some affirmative action be taken by our government to bring about the realization of the right of self-determination for Ireland, it seemed as if the American President, Woodrow Wilson, who first gave utterance to the ideal of self-determination for all the oppressed peoples of the world, was woefully unmindful of the age-long struggle that Irishmen had been making to free their own beloved land from British domination. But to those, like myself, who were on the inside of affairs, it was evident that in every proper and legitimate way the American President was cautiously searching for efficient means to advance the cause of self-government in Ireland and to bring about a definite and satisfactory solution of this complicated problem.
[...]
Long before the European war the President and I had often discussed the Irish cause and how to make his influence felt in a way that would bring results without becoming involved in diplomatic snarls with Great Britain. He was of the opinion that the Irish problem could not be settled by force, for the spirit of Ireland, which for centuries had been demanding justice, was unconquerable. He pointed out to me on many occasions when we discussed this delicate matter, that the policy of force and reprisal which the English Government had for centuries practised in had but strengthened the tenacious purpose of the Irish people and had only succeeded in keeping under the surface the seething dissatisfaction of that indomitable race. I recall that at the conclusion of one of our talks after a Cabinet meeting, shaking his head as if he despaired of a settlement, the President said: "European statesmen can never learn that humanity can be welded together only by love, by sympathy, and by justice, and not by jealousy and hatred." He was certain that the failure of England to find an adjustment was intensifying feeling not only in our own country, but throughout the world, and that the agitation for a settlement would spread like a contagion and would inevitably result in a great national crisis.
[...]
In discussing the matter with me, he said: "The whole policy of Great Britain in its treatment of the Irish question has unfortunately been based upon a policy of fear and not a policy of trusting the Irish people. How magnificently the policy of trust and faith worked out in the case of the Boers. Unfortunately, the people of Ireland now believe that the basis of England's policy toward them is revenge, malice, and destruction. You remember, Tumulty, how the haters of the South in the days of reconstruction sought to poison Lincoln's mind by instilling into it everything that might lead him in his treatment of the South toward a policy of reprisal, but he contemptuously turned away from every suggestion as a base and ignoble thing. Faith on the part of Great Britain in the deep humanity and inherent generosity of the Irish people is the only force that will ever lead to a settlement of this question. English statesmen must realize that in the last analysis force never permanently settles anything. It only produces hatreds and resentments that make a solution of any question difficult and almost impossible. I have tried to impress upon the Englishmen with whom I have discussed this matter that there never can be a real comradeship between America and England until this issue is definitely settled and out of the way." Many times in informal discussions with British representatives that came to the White House the President sought to impress upon them the necessity for a solution, pointing out to them how their failure was embarrassing our relations with Great Britain at every point. I am sure that if he could with propriety have done so, Woodrow Wilson would long ago have directly suggested to Great Britain a settlement of the Irish question, but, unfortunately, serious diplomatic obstacles lay in the way of an open espousal of the Irish cause. He was sadly aware that under international law no nation has the right to interest itself in anything that directly concerns the affairs of another friendly nation, for by the traditions of diplomacy such "interference" puts in jeopardy the cordial relations of the nations involved in such controversy.

Long before he became president, Woodrow Wilson had eloquently declared his attitude with reference to self- government for Ireland and had openly espoused the cause of Irish freedom. In a speech delivered at New Brunswick, New Jersey, on October 26, 1910, he said:
Have you read the papers recently attentively enough to notice the rumours that are coming across the waters? What are the rumours? The rumours are that the English programme includes, not only self-government for Ireland, but self-government for Scotland, and the drawing together in London or somewhere else of a parliament which will represent the British Empire in a great confederated state upon the model, no doubt, of the United States of America, and having its power to the end of the world. What is at the bottom of that programme? At the bottom of it is the idea that no little group of men like the English people have the right to govern men in all parts of the world without drawing them into real substantial partnership, where their voice will count with equal weight with the voice of other parts of the country. This voice that has been crying in Ireland, this voice for home rule, is a voice which is now supported by the opinion of the world; this impulse is a spirit which ought to be respected and recognized in the British Constitution. It means not mere vague talk of men's rights, men's emotions, and men's inveterate and traditional principles, but it means the embodiment of these things in something that is going to be done, that will look with hope to the programme that may come out of these conferences. If those who conduct the Government of Great Britain are not careful the restlessness will spread with rapid agitation until the whole' country is aflame, and then there will be revolution and a change of government.
In this speech he plainly indicated that his plan for the settlement of the Irish question was the establishment of some forum to which the cause of Ireland might be brought, where the full force of the public opinion of the world, including the United States, could be brought to play in a vigorous and whole-hearted insistence upon a solution of this world-disturbing question. As we read the daily papers, containing accounts of the disturbances in Ireland, what a prophetic vision underlay the declaration contained in the speech of Woodrow Wilson in 1910!
If those who conduct the Government of Great Britain are not careful the restlessness will spread with rapid agitation until the whole country is aflame, and then there will be revolution and a change of government.
I recall his passionate resentment of the attitude and threats of Sir Edward Carson, leader of the Unionist forces in the British Parliament, when he read the following statement of Carson carried in the American Press, after the passage of Home Rule through the House of Lords: "In the event of this proposed parliament being thrust upon us, we solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves not to recognize its authority. I do not care two pence whether this is treason or not." Discussing Carson's utterance the President said: "I would like to be in Mr. Asquith's place. I would show this rebel whether he would recognize the authority of the Government or flaunt it. He ought to be hanged for treason. If Asquith does not call this gentleman's bluff, the contagion of unrest and rebellion in Ireland will spread until only a major operation will save the Empire. Dallying with gentlemen of this kind who openly advocate revolution will only add to the difficulties. If those in authority in England will only act firmly now, their difficulties will be lessened. A little of the firmness and courage of Andrew Jackson would force a settlement of the Irish question right now."
I swear to God, I have elided nothing except where indicated. Tumulty segues directly from the unconquerable spirit of the Irish to the "firmness and courage of Andrew Jackson." There is not even a segue. It's just bam, bam. Check it for yourself - page 397.

Did you catch, also, that bit about "how magnificently the policy of trust and faith worked out with the Boers?" Yeah - trust, faith, and concentration camps. What Wilson means, as in his reference to the South, is that after the Boer war Britain devolved a large amount of local responsibility on the South African government. After, of course, delivering a thorough and comprehensive ass-whooping, with "the firmness and courage of Andrew Jackson."

Mr. Tumulty, of course, was an Irish ward-boss political hack. He was not writing for 2008. But he made the wonderful gaffe of emitting the Whig theory of revolution and the Whig theory of rebellion in a single breath, where we can see how oddly they fit together. The Whig theory of rebellion turns out to just be the Tory theory of revolution. They can coexist, but only with a distinction between (justified) revolution and (unjustified) rebellion that is implausible to say the least.

And yet, as a progressive, you believe them both, and you will never confuse the two. Imagine, for example, that some confused conservative intellectual had responded to the crimes of Timothy McVeigh, or Eric Rudolph, or Byron de la Beckwith, with Wilsonian rhetoric about deep-seated grievances, or age-old struggles, or what-not. These men were not revolutionaries. They were rebels. That is, they were right-wing political criminals, rather than left-wing ones. They deserved to be crushed. And somehow this did not prove hard at all. Nor did right-wing intellectuals experience any difficulty in choosing not to excuse their acts.

Here's a fact that may have escaped your attention. There has never been a successful right-wing insurgency. That is, there has never been any successful movement employing the tactics of guerrilla or "urban guerrilla" (or "terrorist") war, in which the guerrilla forces were to the political right of the government forces. To some extent you can classify Franco in Spain as a successful right-wing rebel, but his forces were more organized and disciplined than the government's - Franquismo was a coup that turned into a rebellion, and it succeeded in the end only because, for unusual reasons, England and the US declined to intervene against it.

For example, if oppression and injustice really are the cause of insurgent movements, why was there never anything even close to an insurgency in any of the Soviet-bloc states? Excepting, of course, Afghanistan - a rather suspicious exception. You may be a progressive, but you can't be such a progressive that you believe there was no such thing as Communist oppression. Yet it never spawned any kind of violent reaction. What up with that, dog?

The obvious answer is just Defoe's. "When they had the Power in their hands, those Graces were strangers in their gates." The cause of revolutionary violence is not oppression. The cause of revolutionary violence is weak government. If people avoid revolting against strong governments, it is because they are not stupid, and they know they will lose. There is one and only one way to defeat an insurgency, which is the same way to defeat any movement - make it clear that it has no chance of winning, and no one involved in it will gain by continuing to fight.

I mean, think about it. You hear that in country X, the government is fighting against an insurgency. You know nothing else. Which side would you bet on? The government, of course. Because it is stronger by definition - it has more men and more guns. If it didn't, it wouldn't be the government.

So insurgency in the modern age is not what it appears to be. It is an illusion constructed for a political audience. If Fisher is right, it was not the Continental Army that prevailed in 1783, but the alliance of the Continental Army and the British Whigs. Together they produced a new Whig republic to replace the old one that had collapsed with Cromwell's death. Neither could conceivably have achieved this mission alone.

Insurgency, including what we now call "terrorism," is thus a kind of theater. Guerrilla theater, you might say. It exists as an adjunct to democratic politics, and could not exist without it. (I exclude partisan campaigns of the Peninsular War type, in which the guerrillas are an adjunct to a war proper.)

The goal of an insurgency is simply to demonstrate that the violence will continue until the political demands of its supporters are met. The military arm produces the violence. The political arm explains, generally while deploring the violence, that the violence can be stopped by meeting the demands - and only by meeting the demands.

What's so beautiful about this design, at least from the Devil's perspective, is that it requires no coordination at all. It is completely distributed. There is no "command and control." It often arouses suspicion when politicians and terrorists are good friends. With the insurgency design, both can benefit from each others' actions, without any incriminating connections. They do not even need to think of the effort as a cooperation.

Insurgents and politicians need not even share a value system. There is no reason at all, for example, to think that Ayman al-Zawahiri shares any values with American progressives. I have a fair idea of the kind of government that Sheikh al-Zawahiri would create if he had his druthers. I can certainly say the same for progressives. They have nothing at all to do with each other - regardless of anyone's middle name.

Yet when Sheikh al-Zawahiri attributed the Democratic victory in the 2006 elections to the mujahedeen, he was objectively right. The Democrats won because their prediction that Iraq would become a quagmire for the US military (which everyone and his dog knows is a Republican outfit) turned out to be true. Without the mujahedeen, who would have turned Iraq into a quagmire? Space aliens?

To make a proper feedback loop, the efforts of the politicians must assist the insurgents, and the efforts of the insurgents must assist the politicians. The al-Zawahiri effect - which is not exactly a unique case - is a good example of the latter. The former is provided by a tendency in Whig politics that we can call antimilitarism.

Antimilitarism assists the "armed struggle" in the most obvious way: by opposing its opponents. All things being equal, any professional military force will defeat its nonprofessional opponent, just as an NBA team will defeat the women's junior varsity. The effect of antimilitarism is to adjust the political and military playing field until the insurgents have an equal, or even greater, chance of victory.

Wars in which antimilitarism plays an important role are often described as "asymmetric." The term is a misnomer. A real "asymmetric" war would be a conflict in which one side was much stronger than the other. For obvious reasons, this is a rara avis. A modern asymmetric war is one in which one side's strength is primarily military, and the other's is primarily political. Of course this does not work unless the political and military sides are at least nominally parts of the same government, which means that all asymmetric wars are civil - although they may be fought by foreign soldiers on foreign territory.

How does antimilitarism do its thing? As always in war, in any way it can. In the case of Lord Howe we see what looks very much like deliberate military incompetence. Military mismanagement may occur at the level of military leadership, as in the case of Lord Howe, or in civil-military relations, as with McNamara. The military may win the war and its civilian masters may then simply surrender, as in the case of French Algeria.

The most popular approach today, however, is to alter the rules of war. War is brutal. If you were a space alien, you might expect a person opposed to this brutality to ameliorate it, or at least attempt to, by: (a) deciding to support whichever side is the least brutal; (b) promoting rules of war which minimize the incentive for brutal conduct; and (c) encouraging the war to end as quickly as possible with a decisive and final result.

Modern progressivism does not resemble any of these actions. In fact, it resembles their polar opposite. It is certainly motivated by opposition to brutality, but the actions are not calculated to achieve the effects. In a word, it is antimilitarism.

For example, the modern US military has by far the highest lawyer-to-soldier ratio in any military force in history. It requests legal opinions as a routine aspect of even minor attacks. It is by no means averse to trying its own soldiers for judgment calls made in the heat of battle, a practice that would strike Lord Howe as completely insane. (Here is a personal narrative of the consequences.) Meanwhile, its enemies relish the most barbaric tortures. And which side does the progressive prefer? Or rather, which side do his objective actions favor?

Adjusting the rules of war in this way is an excellent strategy for the 21st-century antimilitarist. He does not have to actually express support for the insurgents, as his crude predecessors of the 1960s did. (As Tom Hayden put it, "We are all Viet Cong now.") Today anyone who can click a mouse can learn that the NLF was the NVA and the NVA were cold-blooded killers, but this knowledge was controversial and hard-to-obtain at the time. The people who knew it were not, in general, the smart ones. "We are all al-Qaeda now" simply does not compute, and you don't hear it. But nor do you need to.

An arbitrary level of antimilitarism can be achieved simply by converging military tactics with judicial and police procedure. Suppose, for example, Britain was invaded by the Bolivian army, in a stunning seaborne coup. Who would win? Probably not the Bolivians, which is why they don't try it.

But suppose that the Bolivian soldiers have the full protection of British law. The only way to detain them is to arrest them, and they must be charged with an actual crime on reasonable suspicion of having committed it. Being a Bolivian in Britain is not a crime. You cannot, of course, shoot them, at least not without a trial and a full appeal process. Any sort of indiscriminate massacre, as via artillery, airstrikes, etc, is of course out of the question. Etc.

So Britain becomes a province of Bolivia. War is always uncertain, but the Bolivians certainly ought to give it a shot. What do they have to lose? A few soldiers, who might have to spend a little time in a British jail. Not exactly the Black Hole of Calcutta. So why not?

And this is how antimilitarism produces war. War is horrible, and no one is willing to fight in it unless they have a chance of winning. Antimilitarism gives the insurgents that chance. And this is the other half of the feedback loop.

Now we're ready to answer the question that you've probably forgotten about: what is the most successful Protestant denomination in the United States?

"Successful" is a tricky word. Should we count it statistically, by mere numbers? But I am a reactionary - headcount and warm bodies mean nothing to me. Better to count it by influence and importance. Whose counsels are heard in the corridors of power? To what sect do the rich, famous and fashionable belong? Who controls the prestigious institutions?

But an even trickier word is "denomination." The problem is that denominations don't always seem to mean that much. In many cases, they seem to be meaningless labels inherited from the past. To define people as members of separate sects, you'd expect them to disagree about something important. When was the last time you saw, say, a Congregationalist having it out with an Episcopalian? Do Unitarians and Methodists castigate each other in furious theological catfights?

Um, no. I suspect the major reason for this is the ecumenical movement. It's unsurprising that this would result in a convergence of opinion. In practice today, in the US, there are two kinds of Protestant: mainline (ie, ecumenical), and evangelical. (Confusingly, the people described as "evangelical" in the 19th century are the ancestors of today's mainliners - I prefer to say "traditionalist.") As one would expect from the history of the great Christian faith, these two sects hate each other like cats and dogs. Mystery resolved.

And as the name suggests, mainliners are more socially prestigious and far more likely to be found in positions of influence or authority. Does this answer our question? Not quite.

The thing about mainline Protestant beliefs is that they are not only shared by Protestants. You can find Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and quite a few atheists who hold essentially the same worldview as the mainline Protestants. What is a "moderate Muslim?" A Protestant Muslim, more or less.

For the last century and a half, one of the most influential American sects has been the Unitarians. The beliefs held by Unitarians have changed over time, but modern Unitarians (or Unitarian Universalists) believe that you can be a Unitarian while being any religion, or no religion at all. Of course, if you are a Muslim or a Catholic, you need to discard almost all the traditional beliefs of these sects, often retaining just the name. But since Unitarians have done more or less the same to their own beliefs, it's no sweat, man.

The neat thing about primary sources is that often, it takes only one to prove your point. If you find the theory of relativity mentioned in ancient Greek documents, and you know the documents are authentic, you know that the ancient Greeks discovered relativity. How? Why? It doesn't matter. Your understanding of ancient Greece needs to include Greek relativity.

One of the discoveries that impelled me to start this blog was an ancient document. Well, not that ancient, actually. It's from 1942. It is of unquestionable authenticity. In fact, it is still hosted by the same organization that wrote it. If you're an old UR reader you have seen this before. If you're an open-minded progressive, you may be surprised. The document is here.

The program of the Federal Council is immediately recognizable as the modern progressive agenda. But that adjective is not used (except in its dictionary sense). Nor is the other adjective that is generally associated with the same program, liberal. (I really hate using this word - it makes me sound like Rush Limbaugh.)

Instead, what is the adjective our reporter uses to describe this program? Super-Protestant. In other words, we have a candidate for the most successful Protestant denomination in the US today. That denomination is progressivism itself.

Progressives, at least the majority of progressives, do not think of themselves as a religious movement. In fact, presumably for adaptive reasons, they have discarded almost every trace of theology, though there is still some lingering fondness for the Prince of Peace. But the line of descent from the English Dissenters to Bill Moyers is as clear as that from chimp to man.

After some failed experiments I coined the name Universalism, for progressivism understood as a Protestant sect, and have been using it here for a while. I am still not sure about this word, though it is appropriate for several reasons theological and mundane. It seems inoffensive, and progressives will often describe themselves as small-u universalists. But progressive is what its adherents call themselves, and it seems polite to respect this. I may just go back and forth.

Whatever you call it, progressivism is not just a religious movement. It is not just a matter of spiritual opinion. Like classical Islam, it is a complete way of life. And it comes with a political arm - Whiggery. Whether you believe the Dissenter-Whig complex is good or evil, you cannot avoid admitting that it is the most successful religious and political movement in the history of the known universe.

So that's one answer to our question. There is an even more disturbing answer, though.

Another way to measure success is by fidelity of transmission. While Universalism is most certainly descended from the 17th-century American Puritans (read this book if you don't believe me), your average Puritan would be absolutely horrified by progressive beliefs. As would just about anyone in the 17th century. But who is the closest?

Actually, there is a 17th-century of extremist Dissenters whose beliefs closely track modern progressivism. They are not identical - that would be too much to expect - but you will have to work hard to find any point on which the two conflict, at least to the point where someone might get into an argument. Many superficial rituals and traditions have been discarded, but modern members of this sect are certainly progressives. And the sect, though young by Dissenter standards, has been quite influential ever since the writing of the Shortest-Way.

I refer, of course, to the Quakers. If the Time reporter had described the program of the Federal Council as super-Quaker, he might well have confused his audience, but his theology would have been if anything more accurate. The history of mainline Protestantism in America is more or less the history of its Quakerization. Basically, we are all Quakers now. Even I find Quaker writings remarkably sympathetic, and I'm a reactionary Jacobite.

There is a reason, though, that they were expelled from England. Here, in this fascinating 1917 discussion of Quakers and World War I (which in the great Quaker style, both innocent and shameless, is hosted by... the Quaker Heritage Press), is an example of what creeps some people out about the Quakers:
It should be noted, in the first place, that in practice the Quaker attitude upon this issue [the war] is no more than that of Socialists, of whom some are ardent nationalists and some inveterate pacifists. The Friends have their patriotic and military heroes. Betsy Ross, who made our first flag, was a member of the society. Thomas Mifflin, a major general and Washington's first aide-de-camp, was a Quaker; so was Major General Nathaniel Greene; so was Jacob Brown, a Bucks county schoolmaster who rose to be commander-in-chief of the United States army. Robert Morris financed the Revolution largely by means of Quaker loans. John Bright, one of the foremost of English Quakers, justified the American war to exterminate slavery. Whittier's abolition poems were militant to the last degree. Even William Penn proposed an international "league to enforce peace," requiring compulsion by arms if necessary. The doctrine of pacifism, nevertheless, always has been vital in the principles of Quakerism, and one of the curious chapters in American history deals with the strange expedients which members of the society employed to make their genuine love of country harmonize with their beliefs by supporting necessary projects of defense which they could not officially countenance. Franklin gives an illuminating account of "the embarrassment given them (in the Pennsylvania assembly) whenever application was made to grant aids for military purposes." Unwilling to offend the government, and averse to violating their principles, he says, they used "a variety of evasions," the commonest one being to grant money "for the king's use" and avoid all inquiry as to the disbursement. But once, when New England asked Pennsylvania for a grant to buy powder, this ingenious device would not serve:
They could not grant money to buy powder, for that was an ingredient of war; but they voted an aid of 3000 Pounds, and appropriated it for the purchasing of bread, flour, wheat "and other grain." Some of the council, desirous of giving the House still further embarrassment, advised the governor not to accept the provision, as not being the thing he had demanded; but he reply'd, "I shall take the money, for I understand very well their meaning -- other grain is gunpowder." Which he accordingly bought, and they never objected to it.
If this makes no sense to you, black powder of the time came in "corns", ie, grains. The story of "other grain," which I would be prepared to accept as apocryphal (Franklin is hardly a trustworthy source), is rather famous among Quaker-haters. Note also William Penn's "league to enforce peace," of which I was entirely unaware until five minutes ago. Ya learn something new every day.

Even I find it hard to restructure my brain to think of progressivism as a religious movement. Frankly, the proposition that our society, far from advancing into a bright future of rationality and truth, is slipping inexorably into the iron grip of an ancient religious sect, is one I find almost impossible to contemplate. One thought-experiment for this purpose, however, is to imagine that - perhaps through the action of evil aliens - every progressive (whether or not he or she self-identifies as a "Christian") was converted automatically into a traditionalist, and vice versa. Except, of course, for you.

You'd suddenly realize that you lived in a world in which all the levers of power, prestige, and influence were held by dangerous religious maniacs. At least, people you consider dangerous religious maniacs. Being a progressive and all.

Well, exactly. I am not a progressive. But I am also not a traditionalist. I am not a Christian at all. I believe it is worth some effort to try to wake up from all this historical baggage.

We are now prepared to consider the subject we started with, world peace.

From a semiotic perspective (I didn't go to Brown for nothing, kids), the fascinating thing about world peace is that, while these two little words are remarkably precise and their compound is hardly less exact, the phrase is not without its Empsonian edge. It reminds us of two concepts which are not logically connected: a goal in which Planet Three is free from the state of human interaction known as war, and a strategy for achieving that goal.

This strategy is generally known as pacifism. In 19th-century and 20th-century history, pacifism is associated with a movement - ie, a group of people acting collectively, if not within any fixed organizational structure - which might be called the internationalist movement. While this inevitably fuzzy category embraces an enormous set of individuals and projects across the last two hundred years, I think it's a fair summary to say that an internationalist believes that the best way to achieve world peace is to build global institutions which act in the interest of humanity as a whole. Tennyson's Locksley Hall is the classic expression:
Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flags were furled
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
Here the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law.
On an issue as important as world peace, there is certainly no point in confusing ourselves. So I object to the word pacifism. This sign, by joining two signifieds in one signifier - the goal of a world without war, and the strategy of Locksley Hall internationalism - sneaks in three assumptions which, while they may very well be true, strike me as quite nonobvious.

One: internationalism is the only strategy which can achieve the goal. Two: internationalism is an effective strategy with which to achieve the goal. Three: internationalism is not the principal obstacle to the achievement of the goal.

If you have actually read this far in the post, without skimming even a little, I'd like to think that you know Whiggery and Quakerism when you see it. So let me suggest an alternative to the Locksley Hall strategy for world peace: a return to classical international law.

Of course, our internationalists talk of nothing but international law. But what they mean is modern international law. They believe, good Whigs that they are, that the changes they have made in the last century are improvements. Quakerization is always an improvement, and international law has certainly been quite thoroughly Quakerized.

By "classical," I mean anything before World War I. But a century is a nice dividing line. Let's take as our text, therefore, Elements of International Law, 3rd edition, 1908, by George B. Davis. I know nothing about this book or its author, but it is obviously a standard text. There are little bits of proto-Universalism to be found in it, but they are easily identified and discarded. For the most part it contains all the wisdom on statecraft of the classical European world, and it is very good at citing its sources. It is certainly not a mere collection of the personal opinions of George B. Davis, whoever he was.

Here, for example, is classical international law on guerrilla warfare:
Guerillas. The term guerilla is applied to persons who, acting singly or joined in bands, carry on operations in the vicinity of an army in the field in violation of the laws of war. They wear no uniform, they act without the orders of their government, and their operations consist chiefly in the killing of picket guards and sentinels, in the assassination of isolated individuals or detachments, and in robbery and other predatory acts. As they are not controlled in their undertakings by the laws of war, they are not entitled to their protection. If captured, they are treated with great severity, the punishment in any case being proportioned to the offence committed. Their operations have no effect upon the general issue of the war, and only tend to aggravate its severity. Life taken by them is uselessly sacrificed, and with no corresponding advantage.
Quelle difference! Here, on the rightfulness of war:
Rightfulness of War. With the inherent rightfulness of war international law has nothing to do. War exists as a fact of international relations, and, as such, it is accepted and discussed. In defining the law of war, at any time, the attempt is made to formulate its rules and practices, and to secure the general consent of nations to such modifications of its usages as will tend towards greater humanity, or will shorten its duration, restrict its operations, and hasten the return of peace and the restoration of the belligerent states to their normal relations.
Friends, this is the sweet music of reason, scanned, de-Quakerized and presented for your perusal by the good progressives behind Google Books - who do much better than they know.

I cannot quote this entire book. If you care about the subject - and who doesn't? - it is simply worth reading. You can skip the chapters on diplomatic protocol, treaties, etc. War and sovereignty are your main concerns.

Classical international law, while never perfect, was simply a beautiful piece of engineering. It solved, not perfectly but quite effectively, a problem that today strikes us as unsolvable: enforcing good behavior among sovereign nations, without a central enforcer. You might call it a peer-to-peer architecture for world peace.

I'm afraid what we have now is more a client-server approach. It works, sort of. It does not strike me as stable or scalable. International law was designed for a world of equals. It broke down when one nation - first Great Britain, and later the United States - took it upon itself, for motives that were superficially charitable and fundamentally Whiggish, to act as a global enforcer. At that point, it ceased to be an instrument of peace and independence, and became one of domination and war. "Other grain."

If the entire tradition of classical international law were condensed down to two words, they might well be the Latin words uti possidetis. If there is a single phrase that is the key to world peace, it is this one. Amazingly enough, it even has a Wikipedia page, although the classical concept is confused with the modern, and quite oxymoronic, one of uti possidetis juris.

The idea of uti possidetis is the principle that every government is legitimate and sovereign. All governments are de facto. Their borders are defined by the power of their military forces. If two states disagree on their borders, it is up to them to settle the dispute. Their settlement should be respected by all. As Davis puts it:
Treaties of peace resemble ordinary treaties in form, in the detailed method of preparation, and in binding force. They differ from ordinary treaties, and from private contracts, in respect to the position of the contracting parties, who, from the necessities of the case, do not enter them upon equal terms. This in no respect detracts from their obligatory character, which cannot be too strongly insisted upon. "Agreements entered into by an individual while under duress are void, because it is for the welfare of society that they should be so. If they were binding, the timid would be constantly forced by threats or violence into a surrender of their rights, and even into secrecy as to the oppression under which they were suffering. The [knowledge] that such engagements are void makes the attempt to extort them one of the rarest of human crimes. On the other hand, the welfare of society requires that the engagements entered into by a nation under duress should be binding; for, if they were not so, wars would terminate only by the utter subjugation and ruin of the weaker party.'"
In other words, exactly as they terminated in the 20th century. If they terminated.
When either belligerent believes the object of the war to have been attained, or is convinced that it is impossible of attainment; or when the military operations of either power have been so successful as to determine the fortune of war decisively in its favor, a general truce is agreed upon, and negotiations are entered into with a view to the restoration of peace.
You see the flavor of these rules. They are designed for a world of genuinely independent states - as opposed to British or American protectorates. Under the rule of uti possidetis, statehood is an objective description. No one asks: should Hamas have a state? One asks: is Gaza a state? Under classical international law, the answer is clearly "yes."

Let's take a brief look at how this plan would create peace in the Middle East. First, the borders between Israel and its neighbors are permanently fixed. They are simply the present lines of demarcation, as set at the end of the 1967 war. In the West Bank there is an area of fuzzy jurisdiction - Israel maintains what might be called an imperfect occupation. Gaza is its own state. I suspect Israel would find it prudent to evacuate most of the West Bank and put it in the same status as Gaza. Call it Ramallah.

The US is completely neutral in these disputes. It gives Israel no aid. It gives the Palestinians no aid. It gives no one any aid. It does not need protectorates, "friends," etc. It has the H-bomb and Angelina Jolie. Others can love it for the latter or fear it for the former. Or possibly the reverse. It's up to them.

The Middle East, and specifically the area around Israel, is actually an area of great natural stability. The area is stable because the state which does not want war, Israel, is much stronger than its aggressive, irredentist and revanchist neighbors, Gaza and Ramallah. Therefore, there are two possibilities.

One, Gaza and Ramallah recognize that they live next to the 800-pound gorilla. They watch their steps. They do not shoot rockets over the border, and they prevent their citizens from doing so. And there is no war.

Two, Gaza and Ramallah persist in attacking Israel. Under classical international law, Israel exercises its right of redress and does whatever it takes to stop the attacks. If "whatever it takes" means that Israel has to convert the human population of Gaza into biofuel, so be it. The basic principle of classical international law is that every citizen of an enemy state is an enemy.

Of course, the law of war is intended to make combat humane, and the basic principle of humanitarian war is that
No forcible measures against an enemy which involve the loss of human life are justifiable which do not bear directly upon the object of which the war is undertaken, and which do not materially contribute to bring it to an end.
In other words, if Gazans are really so crazed with lust for Jewish blood that they will never stop blowing themselves up in cafes until the last Gazan is processed into a tankful of biodiesel, biodiesel it is. Otherwise, of course, these actions would be quite unjustifiable.

Of course, Gazans are not really this crazy. They are normal people. They would take option 1 in a heartbeat, and the only reason they haven't already is that they are just doing their jobs. Hating Israel is the national industry of Palestine. That is, via American and European aid, it generates more or less the entire Palestinian GDP. If Palestinians stop attacking Israel, if they just settle down and live their lives like the normal people they are, there will be no reason for anyone to give them money. And the money will stop.

Ah, you cry, but justice! The Palestinians cry for justice! Well, perhaps it is just for Israel to give the Palestinians money, or land, or cheezburgers, or something. I would like to think that this money should come from Israel, not from Washington. But if the Palestinians want money, or land, or cheezburgers, they will have to find some way of extracting these goods from Israel, or whoever else, on their own. Because the world of classical international law is not the world that is ruled by Uncle Sam, dispenser of justice to all.

This is the genius of classical international law. It is based on the concept of actual sovereignty. When you establish your Quaker "league for enforcing peace," or even your British "balance of power," you establish an international super-sovereign. Which is a world government. Which is not, in the hands of the Quakers, a workable design. It might be a workable design in the hands of the Nazis - but would you want it to be?

The Palestinian problem is the reductio ad absurdum of Quakerism. Quakers believe that peace can be created by redressing grievances. When this principle is pointed toward the left, it becomes no justice, no peace. When it is pointed toward the right, it becomes appeasement. For example, this New Zealand activist, who has Quaker written all over him, has produced a brilliant reinvention of Lebensraum:
An artificial state for four million displaced Palestinians to govern themselves over several disconnected pieces of poor quality land not wanted by Israel is not viable in any meaningful sense of the word.
Even if all the initial grievances are absolutely just by some objective standard, the cycle of grievance and reward will quickly attract gangsters and create a mafia grievance factory.

The tragedy is that Mr. Minto and his ilk are so close to seeing the true principle of peace: peace is learning to live with the world as it is, not as you want it to be. You'd think a Quaker would be able to see this in a flash. But I'm afraid power has corrupted them.

Do the Palestinians find themselves with "poor quality land"? Then agriculture is probably not their metier. Dubai has some pretty crappy land, as well. Its residents spend far less time brooding over the subject of Jews. Perhaps a simple solution would be for Dubai to annex Gaza - contiguous borders, while preferable, are hardly essential in the 21st century. Forget about the past. Live in the future.

It is almost impossible to overestimate how politically dependent the world's nations are on the US. I suspect that if we embraced the principles of classical international law overnight, next week would see military coups in almost every country in the world. In the present world, a military government in, say, Brazil, would be ostracized and isolated into oblivion with remarkable speed. In the world of classical international law, the US does not care what form of government is practiced in Brazil. It only cares that Brazil does not invade it, harass its shipping, welsh on its debts, etc. There is a lot of order to restore in Brazil, and a lot of prestige to be won by restoring it. At least in Brazil. And why should it matter what Washington thinks of Brazil? Answer: it shouldn't.

The world of 2008 has one major sovereign state, the US. There are two smaller ones, Russia and China, which have passed through Communism to a system of government that might almost be described as neoreactionary. By avoiding dependency on American aid, the oil kingdoms of the Gulf also retained a certain level of sovereignty. Iran and its satellites are trying to achieve stable sovereignty by building nuclear weapons, and being insanely aggressive toward America. Hopefully their aggression will stop after they succeed, but who knows.

The salient financial feature of the present world is the gigantic trade deficit between the democratic world and the neoreactionary world - in favor of the latter. This is not a coincidence. The Gulf states are neoreactionary because they have oil, which has enabled them to preserve something vaguely like their traditional forms of government, rather than becoming just more Third World protectorates of the State Department. Russia too has oil, which after Communism had the same effect. And China has that real rara avis, a healthy capitalist industrial base, a consequence of its bold resistance to democracy.

This financial imbalance is oddly reminiscent of the situation between the Communist and Western worlds before the collapse of the former. Of course, it could just be a coincidence. Don't get your hopes up. This one will take a while.

There was a funny article the other day in the Times. It seems Kuwaitis have noticed that they have democracy, that Dubai doesn't, and that the latter seems to be rather better off for it. (Don't miss the pictures of Kuwait's "financial district" - sidesplitting.) Not that Kuwait has much democracy. It's a constitutional monarchy. But Dubai is an absolute monarchy, and the difference is, um, remarkable. Especially since Kuwait has way more oil than Dubai.

The great wave of Whiggery has washed to the end of the world and the top of the beach. Its source is not moral righteousness, but mere power. That power is waning. It still looks like the future, but not as much as it used to. Patches of sand are starting to show through the water. Will another wave come? Or will the water just wash back? And if so, will it wash back slowly, or will it all just disappear one day, the way Communism did?

But this is already too long. Continue to part 6.

76 Comments:

Blogger gokart-mozart said...

Wow, mm, you are one smart mofo.

Do you suppose the viciousness of the wars against Germany and Japan had something to do with the fact that both nations were rebels against the emerging Whig-Quaker world order, upscaled to nation-state size?

May 15, 2008 at 5:54 AM  
Blogger Barry Cotter said...

That's beautiful. I hope Charlie responds.

The links to the NYT archives don't work and perhaps you could switch the link to the Shortest Way With The Dissenters to
http://www.bartleby.com/27/12.html

May 15, 2008 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger gokart-mozart said...

Visualize Whirled Peas = Look Out, Baby, We Takin' OVER!

May 15, 2008 at 6:13 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Williams said...

In the above article, the learned MM argues that the world is ruled by Apollo the Moralizer, Whig Version 6.0. This modern Whig view of morality, he asserts, rules supreme in universities, in the press, in the EU, and in international organizations. These organizations rule the world.

I object that this interpretation ignores the influence of Pluto 1.0, who advances himself using of bribes and business connections. A well-documented case for Pluto’s influence, entitled “Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy,” written by Murray Rothbard, is here.

Be aware that Rothbard’s monograph is potentially NSFW. To express such views as these can get you exiled to Alabama. (I have read that in Switzerland there is a special category of law called “Crimes against a Bank.” In this monograph Rothbard commits thought-crimes against banks.) I would also note that the wise public intellectual, the great shaper of enlightened public opinion, Walter Lippman, makes an appearance here—as a stooge for the House of Morgan.

Constant major version changes lead one to suspect that the supposed Apollo we are discussing here is not really Apollo the Moralizer at all, but Mercury the Manipulator. That would explain the continual drift of enlightened opinion. Where an honest moralizer would make a moral case and stick with it, trying to improve upon it and advance it, Mercury simply mouths the moral case that is likeliest to advance his own ambitions. Mercury has no problem in changing his arguments; a modern politician can contradict himself in the same paragraph without even attracting attention, much less censure. To the extent that pseudo-intellectuals mouth pious claptrap in return for cash, they are only manipulators and should be viewed and discussed as such.

If any commenters have criticisms of Rothbard’s facts and analysis in “Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy,” I would enjoy reading them. I myself find this Rothbard alternative history entirely persuasive.

May 15, 2008 at 6:16 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

I hope you'll do a piece specifically on Quakerism soon.

First because the idea that Quakers are politically relevant is quite new to me.

Second, although a quick look through the "Friends" wiki page seems to define me as a Quaker, a look at their actions, ('grains' and 'leagues of peace') clearly identify me as strictly anti-Quaker.

May 15, 2008 at 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

The Whigs think the most effective means to this end is to persuade America that England is really their friend, by making concessions when concessions are demanded.

This is exactly the formula the Cathedral applied to the USSR during the Cold War, and to China today - persuade them that we are really our friend, by making concessions when concessions are demanded.

There was not a colonist who had not heard descriptions of London after a rebellion, with the bloody arms and hindquarters of rebels hung about like butchers' meat, the ghastly heads rotting and stinking for months on the poles at Temple Bar and on London Bridge, with the hair gradually falling off the grinning skulls, as the people passed them day by day.

This is precisely how to win in Iraq (or how we could have won in Vietnam) - put heads on poles. Too bad it ain't gonna happen.

English statesmen must realize that in the last analysis force never permanently settles anything.

Heh, that wasn't the approach to the Indian Mutiny. The Devil's Wind, indeed.

There has never been a successful right-wing insurgency.

Sure there has. Bavaria didn't stay Red, did it?

why was there never anything even close to an insurgency in any of the Soviet-bloc states? ... Yet it never spawned any kind of violent reaction.

There was, but the insurgents didn't get any meaningful help from outside, and the Soviets suppressed them. See this and this and this and this and this and this and this.

Somewhat special cases, of course - they never would have happened without the Russian Civil War or the German invasion of the USSR. But every insurgency is a "special case" in one sense or another.

International law was designed for a world of equals. It broke down when one nation - first Great Britain, and later the United States - took it upon itself, for motives that were superficially charitable and fundamentally Whiggish, to act as a global enforcer. At that point, it ceased to be an instrument of peace and independence, and became one of domination and war.

I am trying to think of the happy "reactionary period" when "classical international law" applied, and war did not occur. When was the time, after the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia, when there was no war? When states generally recognized uti possidetis, and all was peaceful? You say the old system of "classical international law" broke down because the Brits (and later the Americans) changed international law in order to pursue a role of global enforcer for selfish ends. Does that not suggest that "classical international law" was an unstable system, and thus a return to it is at best futile? If we do reinstall classical international law, what is to stop some future aspiring global hegemon from seeking the role of enforcer?

And China has that real rara avis, a healthy capitalist industrial base, a consequence of its bold resistance to democracy.

You really need to read Eamonn Fingleton.

May 15, 2008 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Classical international law isn't necessary inherently unstable. Hominids being what they are, they can destabilize pretty much anything.

Second, the point wasn't to prevent war, but to incentivize short, limited and decisive wars.

May 15, 2008 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Plutonism is merely the financial wing of Apollonist Dionysianism. Parse that out, spend some time in Greek texts and see the simplicity of the statement.

On to Quakerism. Menc -- there's an absolute wealth of quasi/proto-Quakerist writings in our 2nd greatest architect of Christian soteriology. Start here, I suppose, and read at least this also for a start. Really the major works are worth digesting, but for those of you who think Mencius is long winded you must prepare full and well for good old Johnny. I recommend Lycidas to cut your teeth on syntax and thought processes. Milton, of course, was of the "first wave" Whigs that didn't exactly come out on top (though they did shave a lot of heads) but his line of thought proceeds pretty damn well through to today (especially read Areopagitica in light of p2p and the creative commons movement).

Blog like a mofo,
Miguel

May 15, 2008 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Your cure is much worse than the disease. Take your Gaza example. In the current state of affairs, thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis are killed per decade. Using your suggestions, vastly more Palestinians would be killed and almost certainly more Israelis as well. How is that more "peace?"

Then take Iraq (or Vietnam.) Obviously, we could win by being brutal with the insurgents, sticking their heads on pikes, etc. But then what have we got? A brutalized and very pissed off, albeit defeated colony. If we then leave, we are exactly as well off as if we left today, except that we have made brutalization a more acceptable technique for western nations.

I think you learn the wrong lesson here. Yes, insurgencies can be defeated by ultra-violence and probably cannot be under our current rules of war. You think we should abandon the rules of war, but it makes a lot more sense to just quit trying to defeat foreign insurgencies. That would be more peaceful.

May 15, 2008 at 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

The Whigs think the most effective means to this end is to persuade America that England is really their friend, by making concessions when concessions are demanded.

This is exactly the formula the Cathedral applied to the USSR during the Cold War, and to China today - persuade them that we are really our friend, by making concessions when concessions are demanded.


Oh yeah, one thing I forgot to mention about this. The Whigs during the Cold War were generally the northeastern Brahmins (think FDR, Kissinger, Vance, Shultz) and their hangers-on (like Carter). They never met a concession to the USSR they didn't like, and when those didn't seem to work, or the USSR demanded more concessions, more concessions were indeed forthcoming. There was, however, a Tory group during the Cold War, generally southern and western Cowboy types (think Nixon, LBJ, Reagan). They advocated containment of the USSR, or "firm and consistent force" to force the Soviets to acknowledge American authority. Ultimately, of course, the Whigs triumphed and the Tories were completely eclipsed.

Today, one can certainly see Whiggery in action vis-a-vis American policy towards China, but no politically significant Tories (not even enough to keep the Whigs honest).

the point wasn't to prevent war, but to incentivize short, limited and decisive wars.

"Limited" and "decisive" stand in contradiction. A limited war is not decisive. A decisive war is not limited.

But anyway, MM's claim is that that respecting uti possidetis is the key to world peace. If we're going to return to the age of short, limited wars a la 17th and 18th century Europe, that would be a curious definition of "world peace" (and certainly this would not be consistent with the wiki definition, "freedom, peace, and happiness among and within all nations").

May 15, 2008 at 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm impressed you can write this well on a regular schedule while caring for your daughter. Best of luck.

May 15, 2008 at 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Then take Iraq (or Vietnam.) Obviously, we could win by being brutal with the insurgents, sticking their heads on pikes, etc. But then what have we got? A brutalized and very pissed off, albeit defeated colony.

No, what you get is a South Vietnam (or Iraq) governed by a pro-American proxy government, not a "colony" (which we would have to govern directly). In essence this would be South Korea. South Korea fought a significant Communist insurgency in the 1950s after the Korean War officially "ended", and they didn't fight it with kid glove methods. They were a military dictatorship, and they used brutal police state methods. End result, they crushed the insurgents, and became a reliable American satellite (or puppet, or minor ally, whatever you want to call them). That is what South Vietnam would have been if the war had been fought properly. That is what Iraq will be if this war is concluded successfully (which, of course, it won't be).

May 15, 2008 at 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Williams said...

G.M. Palmer said...

Plutonism is merely the financial wing of Apollonist Dionysianism...

I am sorry to say that I don't get it. To me Apollonism is the superego and Dionysianism is the id. I view them as being opposed to each other. I am unable to define “Apollonist Dionysianism.”

May 15, 2008 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Jeff-

Apollo and Dionysius were the two halves of Greco-Roman salvation -- Apollo the "son of god" and Dionysius the "resurrected savior."

May 15, 2008 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

The great wave of Whiggery has washed to the end of the world and the top of the beach. Its source is not moral righteousness, but mere power. That power is waning.

That the power is waning I'll agree to, mostly because of democracy and its natural decay, but in part due to ... (ba-boom) moral righteousness. You know, the fact that we are now squeamish about genocide and consider it unrighteous, if not downright rude. We even decry the genocides of the left, albeit without fervor.

But you have not made the case that Universalism is not morally righteous. Merely that it is powerful. An ideology may become powerful because it is righteous; you have not examined this possibility. I realize that oughts don't much interest you, but you cannot understand the success of progressivism otherwise. You're left flapping your hands, as in "W-force".

May 15, 2008 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

As for your proposal for world peace, well, I'm in agreement with lugo. Perhaps you ought to write a bit more on the peaceful millenium that preceded progressivism. Presumably, the idea that monarchist history is full of wars is progressive propoganda? And ditto for human prehistory?

May 15, 2008 at 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Lugo, of course there was never a happy reactionary period when classical international law applied and war did not occur. However, from the treaty of Westphalia until the onset of World War I, war (at least in Europe) was a very different sort of activity than it is today. It was fought between professional armies, and for civilians who did not get in the way, life went on remarkably ordinarily.

The Napoleonic wars were the closest Europe came to total warfare during that period. Yet it is illustrative to consider, as an example of civilian life at the time, that of Sir Humphry Davy, who kept up his scientific contacts in France during these hostilities, went to Paris to collect a medal awarded him for his scientific achievements by Bonaparte in 1812, and continued on through Rome and Naples, not returning to England until 1815. It is inconceivable that any civilian, whatever may have been his social or intellectual prominence, could have conducted himself in comparable fashion during the 1914-18 war or during almost any subsequent war. This reflects the increasing encroachment of the state upon civil society, from which it was once much more distinctly separated.

May 15, 2008 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger John S. Bolton said...

There might be some exceptions to the rule that rightist terror never proceeds to establish a government. Duarte in El Salavador was favored by the anti-militarist populations, but D'Aubuisson came to power after extended rightist death squad activity, unless we were just given propaganda to that effect. Germany might be an example if Hitler did have reactionary support in terms of street violence and terror offensives. The Weimar republic was founded, foreclosing a leftist revolutionary power-grab at the same time, amid a rightist terror offensive by groups called Freikorps. The partition of India might be another case on the Pakistani side. Finland might be another, at the time of the breakaway from Russia. Saudis from Turkey, and Iranian mullahs from the Pahlavis, could be other examples. More liberal colonial regimes were replaced by native miltarists, often within a year of the handover to some liberal favorite. Those are just coups, but weren't they rightwing terror in some sense,if they used those methods and crushed the pretenses of liberal government? None of this denies the general tendency for leftward moves using terror methods to predominate though.

May 15, 2008 at 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

from the treaty of Westphalia until the onset of World War I, war (at least in Europe) was a very different sort of activity than it is today. It was fought between professional armies, and for civilians who did not get in the way, life went on remarkably ordinarily.

Uh, no. Armies at that time were predatory beasts. No country had sufficient logistical capability to supply its armies, and therefore every army was expected to live off the land to a significant extent. Armies drew fodder, food, and funds from populations within their reach, sending out thousands of men to systematically harvest food and fodder (thus denying it to the peasants), and moving on when a given area was denuded. Peasant labor was conscripted on a large scale to build fortifications and siege lines and to bring up supplies. When villages and towns refused to cough up monetary "contributions", they were burned to the ground. Such policies often generated guerrilla resistance on the part of the peasants, with the usual cycle of atrocity and reprisal.

Knowing that enemy armies depended on local resources, "friendly" forces would strip the countryside of everything useful in order to deny it to the enemy. For example, Louis XIV devastated huge areas on the French frontier in 1688, and turned them into wastelands incapable of supplying enemy armies. Much of Germany was devastated during the Seven Years War and again during the Napoleonic Wars. Spain was extensively devastated from 1807 to 1812. Russian scorched earth tactics in 1812 are also well known. The idea that civilians blithely continued their "ordinary lives" while all this happened is hardly credible.

Wars between 1648 and 1914 had a large effect on the populations of the countries involved. The lack of "decisive battles" during much of this period, and the ability of certain privileged individuals to travel to enemy capitals, should not obscure this fact.

May 15, 2008 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

Michael S, it's true enough that the wars between monarchies were smaller affairs than between same-era proggie states (much less modern ones empowered with vast wealth coming from the industrial revolution). I think MM is out of his mind calling that "peace", though. Certainly the effect on many civvies was not as bad as losing a modern total war, unless they were in the path of an army, in which case it could be pretty similar. But I think that more reflects the relative poverty of the time, than any inherent niceness to their warmaking. And in any case, MM is pretty explicit in demanding nastiness from his imagined armies. Presumably, a professional army willing to carry out genocide on the orders of its corporate masters would not be particularly likely to show respect for civvies. Rather I expect such an army would (and would have to) hold civilians in contempt. This would offer them the psychological distance necessary to kill and torture innocent people.

Also, I think the levee en masse should give pause to someone like MM, who supposedly prides himself on being all about is and not ought. Revolutionary France took on pretty much everyone else in Europe -- and beat them (excepting England behind her moat). At least within our received proggie history/propaganda, the reason for this was that the various European peoples were willing to fight for a proggie regime in a way they simply would not for a King. The merc armies the monarchs were using could not compete against motivated green troops.

Thus, we see a potential failure mode of MMs 'neocameralism': if the people have any significant power, relative to a professional soldier, in his imagined future, then there's an opening for progressivism to rally them into an army and conquer.

May 15, 2008 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

I'd still like to know what MM thinks of The Baroque Cycle.

May 15, 2008 at 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Aaron Davies:


The Baroque Cycle? I guarantee you MM would find it progressive and Whiggish to the core! It's good fun though, especially if you just skim the parts that don't feature Jack.

May 15, 2008 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Faré said...

For those who may have missed an episode, when did we stop mooning saxon bitches?

May 16, 2008 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

Let me see if I understand. Graham and Nixon misunderstood jewish control of the media. When they said:

"This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain," the nation's best-known preacher declared as he agreed with a stream of bigoted Nixon comments about Jews and their perceived influence in American life.

"You believe that?" says Nixon after the "stranglehold" comment.

"Yes, sir," says Graham.

"Oh, boy," replies Nixon. "So do I. I can't ever say that but I believe it."

"No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something," replies Graham.

Later, Graham mentions that he has friends in the media who are Jewish, saying they "swarm around me and are friendly to me." But, he confides to Nixon, "They don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country."


They were just paranoid. Or playing a practical joke. That's it. They knew those tapes would get played some day and all the Super-Protestants who really dominate the media would get a big laugh. Because after all, it's really guys like them, these Super-Protestants, who were in control in the 1970s. Right? And the misunderstanding/paranoia/joke dates back at least to the 1950s, when Nixon was mistakenly/sadistically/just-for-gags needlessly persecuting all those not-real-commies, not-real-jews, not-real-spies. Right? And these Super-Protestants, they're still in control? Right? That was them again, in 2002, keeping the joke running by pretending to be all upset about what Nixon and Graham said. Real comedians.

"This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain"

Seems to me X was not done. And Y happened. But then I'm probably just misunderstanding the implications of 30-odd million surly alien invaders, the $10T in debt the Super-Protestant financial wizards at the Fed hold over US taxpayers, and the who-knows-how-big-the-hole-is bailout of the Super-Protestant financial wizards who dominate Wall Street. I'm sure that's all just a big joke too. But those two wars we're fighting to protect tiny, defenseless Super-Protestantland, over there in the Middle East. That's no joke. That really is a waste of our patriotic jewish soldiers' lives.

Your idol, Paul Graham, has some insight into what you can't say:

What scares me is that there are moral fashions too. They're just as arbitrary, and just as invisible to most people. But they're much more dangerous. Fashion is mistaken for good design; moral fashion is mistaken for good. Dressing oddly gets you laughed at. Violating moral fashions can get you fired, ostracized, imprisoned, or even killed.

. . .

No one gets in trouble for saying that 2 + 2 is 5, or that people in Pittsburgh are ten feet tall. Such obviously false statements might be treated as jokes, or at worst as evidence of insanity, but they are not likely to make anyone mad. The statements that make people mad are the ones they worry might be believed. I suspect the statements that make people maddest are those they worry might be true.


You better watch out for those Super-Protestants. They have hate laws and very aggressive lawyers who will make you pay for your baseless defamation of Christians.

Let us know when you get fired, ostracized, imprisoned, or even killed.

May 16, 2008 at 4:17 AM  
Anonymous zanon said...

You say that there has never been a successful right wing (reactionary) revolution.

What about the Iranian revolution? Yes, they deposed a Shah, but the new theocratic regime was certainly more reactionary than the older one.

May 16, 2008 at 5:07 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Zanon, he did not say that there has never been a successful right wing revolution, meaning that the right seized control of the government. That would mean there had never been a right-wing military coup, and such coups have obviously happened many times in many countries.

What he said was that there has never been a successful right-wing insurgency (one that employs guerrilla tactics against the government). The Iranians did not employ guerrilla tactics against the Shah. They didn't have to - the Shah's government basically quit.

Basically he is right. Go to wiki and look at the list of revolutions / rebellions. The vast majority of them are Leftist in nature, and certainly the successful ones are. Efforts to start and maintain right-wing insurgencies in Leftist countries have resulted in comical failures, not least because Leftist security services are cruel, ruthless, and effective.

May 16, 2008 at 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Lugo, I do not deny that war led to disruptions of civilian life in the period 1648-1914. They were simply not much different from the disruptions of civilian life that took place during times of peace. Of course peasants were conscripted to build fortifications, etc., during time of war; they were regularly conscripted under the corvée during time of peace to build roads. Ordinary life as a peasant was hard whether in war or in peace.

Leonard, you are right about the wars being smaller in this period. This was probably its greatest virtue. A view of history leads to the conclusion that war, rather than peace, is the usual and normal condition of human society. Could it be that rather than striving for an unstable condition that most people really don't want (peace), the realistic objective ought therefore to be to minimize the adverse consequences of the normal condition (war)?

May 16, 2008 at 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

War and Peace are methods, not goals.

May 16, 2008 at 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

War and peace may be methods, but they are also conditions or states of affairs. What is a method to the ruler is ordinarily a condition to his subject.

May 16, 2008 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

war, rather than peace, is the usual and normal condition of human society.

Whoa there! Although war has been frequent, nonetheless most people, most of their lives, have lived in peace.

Take for example the present. World peace? No. But still 90% of the world population does not live in the USA, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. And when you consider that essentially all Americans are at peace, not war, by any connection except tax payment to the sovereign, the world population percentage actually in a war is much less.

May 16, 2008 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Before all the nitpicking, I figure I'll point out a few links. At Jim Henley's site I push some of the same thinking that MM does here. They respond with "Yeah, well duh". Justin Raimondo shows I didn't know how write I was about internal conflict between factions in militarist Japan here. Some of the same points MM makes in this post he earlier stated in the Moldbug Transcripts 2. I know I already linked to them last time, but I figured I'd do it again.

this is an open letter to just one: Charles Stross
Have you alerted him to the existence of this letter? Also, this post seems no more specifically intended for him than any others. On the other hand, I don't know a damned thing about the guy.

The US should recognize the independence and sovereignty of every government on earth, and respect it according to the principles of classical international law
Only the most idiotic progressives believe the only obstacle in the way of world peace is the U.S. There wasn't world peace during the era of classical international law either.

As we'll see, it's about as progressive as William the Conqueror.
Too progressive for my tastes! We'll have none of that Scandinavian-French nonsense interfering with our Anglo-Saxon traditions.

Imagine, for example, that the Axis had won the war
I allege that would not have been such a big deal.

Of course, there will be diversity of opinion - there will be radical Nazis, conservative Nazis, and moderate Nazis. Nazipedia must reflect all the major currents of the great river of Nazi thought
Oddly enough, I somewhat recently found via Robert Lindsay a National Bolshevik who attempts to explain all those currents. He decided Hitler was part of the "racist" faction by the clever method of examining who did not get purged.

National Socialism proper, while no less idiotic, was successful
Yeah, how about that 1000 year reich?

It's not at all improbable that in many technical areas, the Axis scientists and engineers of 2008 would have outperformed our own
The fact that Deutsche Physik ever got big in the first place indicates to me something was rotten in Germany.

You might want to check out Ziopedia.

what is the most successful Protestant denomination in the US today?
How about this dastardly bunch?

But the pamphlet warns that, if X is not done, Y will happen. X was not done. And Y happened
If I recall correctly, there was never another civil war and commonwealth, nor another glorious revolution. There were some Jacobite rebellions though.

its actual author was quite opposed to X
What did he actually favor? And do you favor X, perhaps adding jews to the dissenting religious groups? Earlier you said you favored the Orange King. What has caused you to change your mind? Also, isn't he just a mistaken conservative justifying disobedience to the Pope while castigating disobedience to the Episcopal Church, a sort of unprincipled exception?

If the 2008 election gets your blood flowing, woo baby. Politics in 1704 was certainly a contact sport.
Then why do you keep recommending that we go back to the past?

In case you're wondering, a Dissenter is more or less the same thing as a Puritan
What persecution did the Anglicans face?

In case you're wondering, a Dissenter is more or less the same thing as a Puritan
Puritans are a kind of dissenter. Quakers are another quite different kind.

Rowan Williams
Is he guilty of Schism, Faction or Entusiasm? Perhaps Confusion.

Brussels
Last I heard the U.K is still on the pound and not part of the EU.

The English monarchy has not dwindled into a republic. It has grown into a republic.
Do you think Rome grew or shrank from a republic to empire?

A republican in Queen Anne's England was about as hard to find as a Nazi in modern Germany.
There had been enough of them to create a Republic at one time, and they weren't violently suppressed. What happened?

But the book is a little stick of dynamite. It is a critical reevaluation of the foundation myth of the most important government on earth. It is deeply subversive.
I believe Charles Beard engaged in similar subversion around that time. Howard Zinn also gives a revisionist history of the American Revolution.

occupation regime
Has anyone ever really referred to it as such? Perhaps we were occuppying the land of the native americans, but it would be odd indeed for the British to be occuppying themselves.

To a revision junkie like me, a paragraph like this produces an almost physical excitement
Maybe that's not a good sign and you should put down the pipe. Although admitting you have a problem is of course the first step to recovery. I think. I never bothered to go to AA so I can't know for sure.

You're on it like a wolf on a baby
That's a great line.

One: why do the American loyalists share a nickname with a British political party
I believe the term Tory originally referred to a group of bandits (as did Whig). The label was given to the political party by their opponents.

If the loyalists are called Tories, why does no one call the Patriots Whigs?
That would be confusing, because there was an American Whig party that preceded the Republican one. The political divisions in America after independence (or was it "independence"?) were between anti-Federalists, Federalists, Democratic Republicans and later Jacksonian Democrats.

Two: what on earth is the British strategy?
I can't remember reading a history that doesn't discuss that question.

Why do the redcoats seem to be spending so much time just hanging around in New York or Philadelphia
Weren't both cities national capitals at some point in time? I imagine they were important places.

But come on, it's twenty miles.
Apparently Washington deliberately chose a spot close enough that he would know what they were up to, which is why he decamped when the British left Philadelphia for New York.

how did the British Empire have all these other colonies - Canada, Australia, yadda yadda - where everyone was so meek?
Patriotic American answer: other countries are just pussies compared to us.

But more generally, why is the history of America so different from that of the other colonies?
The others did get their independence later.

Okay, there was the Boer War
What's your opinion on that one? Is it just a rerun of the American Civil War?

Four: why does no one outside America seem to resent these unfortunate events at all?
According to Mises, most people didn't care about war back then. Also, there was a lot of bad blood between Americans and Brits after the war. The pro-French Jeffersonians wound up in the 1812 war, and their pro-Brit Federalist opponents engaged in Quasi War with France.

In some parts of the world
Parts with a lower average IQ and less experience with the nation state. There are southern americans, Germans and Japanese upset about their defeat in war, but they don't really matter and their numbers steadily decrease over time.

they don't feel that it was just God's will
So they aren't formalists?

New England - far from being subjected to unprecedented despotism - has enjoyed a unique set of privileges
Even compared to the Midatlantic and Southern colonies?

The history of the Whig-Tory conflict is best told as a series of three civil wars: one east of the pond in the 17th century, one across the pond in the 18th, and one west of the pond in the 19th
Wouldn't it have been simpler not to go to the trouble of going across the water and simply fighting at home? Why didn't they just do that again?

It was the innings of a radical section of the Whigs, and, being favorable to liberalism and the colonies, they decided that the Stamp Act was not expedient
In a certain sense they were right, as it costed more to enforce than was collected, but it did succeed as protectionist legislation.

But such a policy would have left the colonies in their semi-independent condition without further remodelling or reform, with British sovereignty unestablished in them
I thought it was supposed to be the stupid progressives that thought the status quo sans reform was a terrible thing.

Both parties in England agree - or, at least, appear to agree - on the goal: American colonies that acknowledge the authority of Parliament
I thought Burke favored independence and was explicit in distinguishing between the American and French revolutions so as to justify supporting the former and condemning the latter.

After the war, the Whig theory became generally accepted in Britain
What happened to the Tories? I skipped to the end of Fisher's book and he claims there that Britain took the opposite, Tory lesson and became "tyrannical and cruel".

As a result, the Irish have enjoyed many years of peace and have rewarded the British Empire with their eternal devotion and love. Not
The Celtic Tiger has, as of late, made some impressive strides, but the place was pretty screwed up for a while. Also, in both cases the British tried the opposite tack of sending in the troops. It doesn't seem clear whether you can blame the Whigs or Tories in either case.

Nonetheless, you'll find that most parenting experts - a few progressives excepted - indeed endorse the "firm and consistent" approach
I'll accept the consistent part, but I think firmness has gone out of style among experts. That "Don't Think of an Elephant" guy even used the supposed proven superiority of non-authoritarian child-rearing techniques as evidence that liberal views of the world are more accurate. According to Judith Miller, it doesn't matter what you do since their genes, peers and "uncontrolled environment" (differences experienced by identical twins reared together) account for everything.

If you want to keep your colonies, set them free.
The U.S and U.K have supported each other in pretty much every war since 1812, so there's some sense to it.

their own interests
What exactly are they?

They are both, after all, Whigs
From Patrick Henry to Alexander Hamilton?

Why don't the British Whigs just endorse the American rebels?
Wikipedia makes it sound like Burke did just that.

In the 21st century, encouraging an enemy in arms against your own government is normal politics
What politicians have explicitly done that recently?

The doctrine, exclusively American in its origin, that rebels were merely men in arms fighting for an idea, mistaken or otherwise, who, when once subdued, were to be allowed to go their way like paroled prisoners of war, had not yet gained ground
I thought it was rather typical in the feudal era for vassals to revolt, be subdued and then go back to being a loyal subject.

We see here also why the American patriots never described themselves as Whigs
What about decades or generations before the revolution?

On the other hand, suppose an acetylene torch with my fingerprints on it is found around the base of the bridge
I don't think you've shown that to be the case.

two of the leading British generals, Howe and Cornwallis, were Whigs - in fact, Whig MPs
If you can't trust the military officers of an 18th century monarchy/empire who can you trust? Rather than politicians stabbing generals in the back you've got generals stabbing politicians in the back! A bit like the Carnation Revolution or even the earlier First Portugese Republic and its disastrous involvement in the First World War.

After all, we live in a world which is more or less ruled by the US government
China and Russia seem like pretty damn big exceptions.

or its "moral leadership."
Which exists only in the imagination of Obama-types.

And you'd think that anti-Americans everywhere would leap at an interpretation of history that presented the American project as more or less fraudulent from day one
As mentioned, there are already the Beard and Zinn revisionist histories (even Tom Paine was saying similar stuff in his later years). Ultimately anti-Americans don't care much about American legitimacy though. They couldn't care less whether we're independent or a colony.

Perhaps by next week Ayman al-Zawahiri will have a printout in his cave
He doesn't accept the legitimacy of the nation-state, so the constitutional rights of englishmen is like gibberish to him. On the other hand, I've never actually read the al Qaeda reader (though I have read Harmony and Disharmony, which is no longer available at its original site).

However, since there are only about fifteen reactionary anti-Americans left in the world
Why don't Islamists count? I'm pretty sure there are more than 15 of them world-wide.

Now, America was not democratic enough
Who wasn't allowed to vote then? And according to Wikipedia the Labour Prime Minister of England (bookended by conservatives) supported the U.S diplomatically over Vietnam. I'd like to see some poll numbers of British opinion of America in the 60s rather than relying on your unsupported assertions. Lastly, this should of course exclude Islamists and other third-world types that simply reject democracy.

To be ultra-American is to accept American political theory so completely that you become more American than America itself, and you feel America is not living up to her own principles.
What, no link to your anti-Americanism post?

but the Confederates were quickly conciliated
That requires some correction. We all know the Ku Klux Klan sprang up and resisted the Reconstruction government to the point where its own founder decided it had better be disbanded. That wasn't a victory for Reconstruction (just ask any of the libertarian centralists at the Volokh Conspiracy), as the Republicans eventually gave up with the Corrupt Bargain. That conciliation actually did result in the South becoming quite loyal and eager to serve in whatever wars their rejoined mother country decided to embark on (it may have helped that the Union veterans quite explicitly tried to patch things up with their Confederate counterparts). What would have happened if the Radical Republicans ever seized the Presidency? I guess we'll never know.

In other words, they love us because we're bad-asses. Quite a contrast to the present-day theory of anti-Americanism!
There is a big difference in the "they" here. In that case it's another world power (perhaps analogous to China or Russia) rather than some dinky third world place (Venezuela or the Spanish island colonies perhaps).

if Palmerston and Russell had just bit the bullet and recognized the freakin' Confederacy
I don't think recognition really matters much.

another prominent statesman
He doesn't hold any office and is persona non-grata in every state I can think of, so he's not in any sense a statesman. The fact that he gave that explanation might be an indication that he's a reactionary rather than a Whig though.

What is Howard Zinn? An Eskimo?
I don't think he has any power and I don't think any al Qaeda member has ever name-checked him.

America, we hate you, and if you don't start living up to American principles, we will continue to hate you
Again, I don't think any al Qaeda members have endorsed "American principles". I don't think the communists or 70s nationalists did either.

As a counter-American might put it, if America is a moral leader, you really have to wonder who the moral followers are. Has the planet really sunk so low? Yes, I'm afraid it has
Name some foreigners that actually look to America as a moral leader.

Perhaps it's just Yankees proper who are invulnerable, like the Lord's Resistance Army, to bullets
I think a more important factor was the absence of a large body of water and the presence of railroads.

So we see that when Whigs rebel against Tories, Tories should "stand still! for fear we should tread upon each other." When the shoe is on the other foot, however, "those Graces were strangers in their gates."
In both cases the seceding territory was invaded. In one case the commanding general of the secessionist forces was militarily defeated and surrendered, in the first case it was the other way around. The Northern Democrats formed an opposition that pressed for peace, and their candidate for President had once held Grant's position. Lastly, after the war Lincoln did indeed advise treading gently against the desires of the Radical Republicans that impeached his succesor but failed to remove him.

Your theory of history, which of course you did not invent but have received, assures you that coercion could not have worked in the first case.
I don't know of any self-styled progressive today that would agree to that. It's a pretty absolute statement. The question would be how much force and whether that would be worth it. The "Turko-Mongolian strategy" is associated with just those two groups for a reason. Though it has a perfect track record of success, not even Nazi Germany was willing to fully imitate it.

And since the belief, true or false, is clearly central to any strategy for world peace
Including yours?

You remember, Tumulty, how the haters of the South in the days of reconstruction sought to poison Lincoln's mind by instilling into it everything that might lead him in his treatment of the South toward a policy of reprisal, but he contemptuously turned away from every suggestion as a base and ignoble thing
There is a metric ton of bullshit in Tumulty's bleatings, but as I mentioned above, that's actually correct. Similarly, Bismarck insisted that after Prussia's quick victory over Austria it go easy to ensure alliances in the future. Bismarck was proved right by history. Then he advised the same after the Franco-Prussian war, but his advice was ignored. Again, he was proved right by history. The optimal strategy in the iterated Prisoner's Dilemna is to punish any defection, then immediately go back to being a dove.

These men were not revolutionaries. They were rebels. That is, they were right-wing political criminals, rather than left-wing ones. They deserved to be crushed. And somehow this did not prove hard at all
Notice that you are giving the names of single individuals. A "leaderless resistance" in Louis Beam's phrase. Not an army with a movement that could outlive one defeat. The Ku Klux Klan or Ulster Unionists are better comparisons.

That is, there has never been any successful movement employing the tactics of guerrilla or "urban guerrilla" (or "terrorist") war, in which the guerrilla forces were to the political right of the government forces
Most guerrilla movements have not been succesful and guerrillas themselves have tended to be left-wing (or the governments they oppose tend to be right-wing, if it makes a difference) while coups tend to be right-wing. I don't know whether a guerrilla movement is more or less likely to succeed given it's right or left leanings. However, I might be able to come up with some partial exceptions. The Contras (though I admit some were former Sandanistas and not really right-wing) failed militarily they did depose the Sandanistas in an election Jimmy Carter & co declared to be fair. UNITAS (again with the caveat that it may have been Maoist though it is usually considered right-wing) won concessions of elections from the Angolan government. However, they lost the election and then much of it deserted, with Savimbi being killed fairly recently by a former comrade then in the Angolan military. Finally, another Reagan-supported group was the Afghan mujahideen, who were succesful in driving out the Soviets. Those guys (or at least a lot of them) were the real deal reactionaries. They still won't shut up about communism, even accusing the Saudi Royal Family of being red-lovers. The record of leftist "urban guerrillas" is quite terrible. The Baader-Meinhof gang, Japanese Red Army, Red Brigade, Angry Brigade, Weathermen and so on were all failures. Che recommended (contra Mao's rural focus) urban war for his "focos", but they were defeated throughout South America, with Che himself getting killed in an unsuccesful attempt to export the revolution.

it succeeded in the end only because, for unusual reasons, England and the US declined to intervene against it.
Weren't there a whole bunch of American and English "progressives" that went over there to assist the Republicans? I think there's a better case for Anglo-American assistance to the Republicans than Whig assistance to Patriots.

For example, if oppression and injustice really are the cause of insurgent movements, why was there never anything even close to an insurgency in any of the Soviet-bloc states
Of course there were. There was street-fighting in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Solidarity (I admit not violent, but they succeeded) and I believe the dictator of Romania was overthrown and killed by mob violence.

Yet it never spawned any kind of violent reaction
Come on, every stalin-sympathizer knows a whole bunch of conquered people sided with the Germans during the Great Patriotic War for the Motherland.

There is one and only one way to defeat an insurgency, which is the same way to defeat any movement - make it clear that it has no chance of winning, and no one involved in it will gain by continuing to fight.
Aside from the aforementioned Afghanistan, you've also got the Chinese being defeated by the Vietnamese. Maybe it wasn't a fluke that Ho Chi Minh also beat France and the U.S.

Also, doesn't your advice to righties in the OLP series to FIGHT flatly contradict your "why conservatives miss the boat" post and others where you advised them all to give up?

Insurgency, including what we now call "terrorism," is thus a kind of theater. Guerrilla theater, you might say. It exists as an adjunct to democratic politics, and could not exist without it
Cuba is not a democracy, there there are terrorist acts committed against it. The same goes for Iran.

I exclude partisan campaigns of the Peninsular War type, in which the guerrillas are an adjunct to a war proper.
The Viet Cong were really an adjunct to the war between the NVA and ARVN.

The political arm explains, generally while deploring the violence, that the violence can be stopped by meeting the demands - and only by meeting the demands
I think the political arm often celebrates rather than deplores the violence. Also, there is often a considerable degree of independence so that no matter what anyone else says some dudes will still go around calling themselves the "Real IRA" (and I'm not even talking about the guys that shouted "No free speech for traitors!" as they barged in Blueshirt meetings). Ethan (not Bruce!) Bueno de Mesquita has an interesting analysis of "extremists" and "moderates" versus governments in terms of game theory I pointed out here.

It often arouses suspicion when politicians and terrorists are good friends
Obama was not an active politician (he couldn't even get into PG-13 movies) when Ayers was a terrorist and Ayers wasn't a terrorist when Obama met him or went into politics. Ayers never even killed anybody, which makes him a pretty damn pathetic terrorist. The Unabomber was more impressive (we see again it is the long-wolf aspect rather than the political leaning that was important).

Without the mujahedeen, who would have turned Iraq into a quagmire?
Zawahiri didn't do shit to Iraq. Zarqawi was already in Iraq as part of a group called Jihad and Monotheism, which changed its name to al Qaeda in Iraq and pledged fealty to al Qaeda proper. However, they ignored all the instruction Zawahiri sent them, which I suppose was fortunate for the Coalition forces since the Egyptian was a lot smarter than the Jordanian. AQII now makes up less than a plurality of the Islamic State of Iraq, which isn't even the major Sunni terrorist organization.

Wars in which antimilitarism plays an important role are often described as "asymmetric."
That really just characterizes any situation where the forces have different compositions in some sense. When Chad didn't have an airforce and so had to defeat Libya's while it was on the ground in their technicals, that can be considered assymetric. I remember in the 90s "asymmetric" was almost synonymous with "cyber-war", which turned out to be a non-issue.

Military mismanagement may occur at the level of military leadership
I imagine MM as one of those movie villians that continually executes his underlings as they fail to implement his master plan.

The most popular approach today, however, is to alter the rules of war
We've gone over this before. Give me an example of ONE ACTION the U.S Congress has taken during the Iraq war that hampered the military. The Geneva Conventions were signed a very long time ago. Quite a long time before the Iraq war. Blaming politicians today for our problems in Iraq is like running into someone and saying "Hey, watch where I'm going!". The neo-cons have impaled themselves on a spike that was already in place and visible before they made their move. Also, explain what rules hampered the Soviets and Chinese in their failed endeavors. I will give you LBJ changing the rules of engagement partway through the Vietnam war, but he was the one who sent in combat troops in the first place. Maybe he was waging a civil war with himself.

deciding to support whichever side is the least brutal
In terms of body-counts, that would make the U.S (and Israel) the loser in many situations.

encouraging the war to end as quickly as possible with a decisive and final result
There are a considerable number of progressives that have advocated the immediate withdrawal of troops and end of fighting in Iraq and Vietnam before it.

For example, the modern US military has by far the highest lawyer-to-soldier ratio in any military force in history
It has the highest [inser-rear echelon position] to soldier ratio because it's a huge bloated beast.

It requests legal opinions as a routine aspect of even minor attacks
I think you'll have to provide support for that kind of statement of pervasiveness.

It is by no means averse to trying its own soldiers for judgment calls made in the heat of battle, a practice that would strike Lord Howe as completely insane.
The soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre were tried. It was a regular event for looting soldiers to be executed in the past.

And which side does the progressive prefer? Or rather, which side do his objective actions favor?
I've heard of a number of military personnel from WW2 who say they're appalled by our current methods. They said they never behaved that way to Germans (the Japanese got the shit end of the stick). Were they objectively pro-Nazi?

Being a Bolivian in Britain is not a crime.
I think their immigration laws would require your presence to be authorized though.

You cannot, of course, shoot them, at least not without a trial and a full appeal process
That's for Brazilians.

Any sort of indiscriminate massacre, as via artillery, airstrikes, etc, is of course out of the question
Something like Fallujah or the recent intra-Shi'ite (with U.S support) fighting? The U.S seems to engage in all the behavior you claim they're restricted from.

So Britain becomes a province of Bolivia
Has there ever been a case where a first-world nation became a province in that manner?

Should we count it statistically, by mere numbers?
That would at least be falsifiable and prevent someone from just BSing. So, of course, you'd hate it.

Better to count it by influence and importance
Provide some units to measure it in, or I will laugh at you.

When was the last time you saw, say, a Congregationalist having it out with an Episcopalian? Do Unitarians and Methodists castigate each other in furious theological catfights?
You should be careful with just using broad denomination names: to quote Wikipedia "Some denominations with similar names, and historical ties to mainline groups are not considered mainline. For example, while the American Baptist Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) are mainline, the Southern Baptist Convention, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and the Presbyterian Church in America are Evangelical." The United Methodist Church contains both mainline and evangelical elements. George Bush is a born-again, and also a Methodist. My family left our old Methodist church for a Baptist one when the former got invaded by non-denominational charismatic evangelicals (my parents were raised in the Catholic church of attending late and unenthusiastically and were bothered by the demands they get more of the black/gospel type spirit and sing louder).

Confusingly, the people described as "evangelical" in the 19th century are the ancestors of today's mainliners
Not the Episcopalians. On this issue (despite our other disputes) I agree that n/a that you've glossed over some important facts.

As one would expect from the history of the great Christian faith, these two sects hate each other like cats and dogs. Mystery resolved
Fred Phelps (who I'm sort of still sympatico with as an atheist ultra-calvinist) hates them, I don't think they hate each other (and most think Hagee's hatred of Catholics is just weird).

If you're an open-minded progressive, you may be surprised
Have you actually picked up any proggle readers since then?

Like classical Islam, it is a complete way of life
That may have been a myth.

I refer, of course, to the Quakers
Tricky Dick and Smedley Butler, I knew you were up to no good!

Basically, we are all Quakers now
I think Albion's Seed concluded with the same thesis. I wouldn't think that especially bad, nothing scary about the Quakers.

There is a reason, though, that they were expelled from England
I think "expelled" is often the wrong word. The Dissenters were able to cause a civil war after the colonies were founded because they weren't expelled. There was just a group of them that voluntarily left. There remained Quakers in England and there was even a transatlantic split between the Gurneyites and Wilburites. This is all easy to find from Wikipedia, I don't know why you write so sloppily.

this fascinating 1917 discussion
Your source claims that the Quakers opposed all the revolts in England and supported whoever help power, which makes them sound like formalists. It also mentions that many Patriots thought they were on the other side. So they don't seem to have been quite the Whigs you paint them as.

So I object to the word pacifism
The LeFevreians seem to be the most extreme exponents of it, and I don't think they're internationalists. Nor are the Amish.

Of course, our internationalists talk of nothing but international law.
Oddly enough, Stephan Kinsella, who has been a vocal opponent of "libertarian centralism" is also a big fan of international law and doesn't understand libertarian opposition to it. He claims to like it precisely because it has not changed!

War exists as a fact of international relations, and, as such, it is accepted and discussed
Now that's not even trying to achieve world peace. You've sold us a false bill of goods, MM.

de-Quakerized
It would be quite funny if George B. Davis turned out to be a Quaker.

and who doesn't
Me. How does international law affect me?

If two states disagree on their borders, it is up to them to settle the dispute. Their settlement should be respected by all
What if multiple states disagree? That surely wasn't unprecedented in the classical era.

In other words, exactly as they terminated in the 20th century
Not the war between Ethiopia and Eretria. Both sides came out winners, oddly enough!

One asks: is Gaza a state? Under classical international law, the answer is clearly "yes."
You freaking anti-Israeli pinko, recognizing the de facto rulers rather than the Fatah nimrods we like to pretend are in charge.

First, the borders between Israel and its neighbors are permanently fixed
Nothing is permanent as long as war is possible.

In the West Bank there is an area of fuzzy jurisdiction - Israel maintains what might be called an imperfect occupation
Formalism allows no fuzziness!

rockets
Exactly how many Israelis have those killed now?

No forcible measures against an enemy which involve the loss of human life are justifiable which do not bear directly upon the object of which the war is undertaken, and which do not materially contribute to bring it to an end
I think that would exclude things like the bombing of Dresden.

Otherwise, of course, these actions would be quite unjustifiable.
C'mon, we're atheists here and not pseudo-atheists either. Let's drop this "justifiable" talk.

They are normal people
That sounds like Blank Slate thinking.

That is, via American and European aid, it generates more or less the entire Palestinian GDP
I would think America was considerably less supportive than Europe. Also according to the CIA world fact book the Gaza Strip and West Bank's GDP is a bit over $5 billion and they get $1.4 billion in aid. So most of its GDP actually comes from Israel, it's main trading partner. Israel's is over $100 billion and they receive $240 million in aid.

If Palestinians stop attacking Israel, if they just settle down and live their lives like the normal people they are, there will be no reason for anyone to give them money
A hell of a lot of third world countries seem to get money just for being poor. Egypt receives money for the U.S precisely because it has stopped attacking Israel. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita advised making the Palestinians and Israelis reliant on tourism, which terrorism would discourage.

I would like to think that this money should come from Israel, not from Washington
There is good reason to believe that, in fact, it does.

In the present world, a military government in, say, Brazil, would be ostracized and isolated into oblivion with remarkable speed
We've tried isolating Cuba, but Castro didn't go anywhere. Similarly for Iran. I don't think isolating Burma would have any effect on the military regime there. South America has had a number of military governments that seemed to persist just fine. Chile still retains much of Pinochet's policies.

In the world of classical international law, the US does not care what form of government is practiced in Brazil
It also does not care about drugs in Brazil, yes?

insanely aggressive toward America
I'm going to ask you the same question I asked of testing99/EvilNeocon: give me the name of ONE American killed during Bush's administration by an Iranian. Just ONE. Don't give me some Filipino Monkey bullshit.


Jeff Williams and friends, let's not get into Apollo/Pluto/Mercury nonsense. Let's speak English without Greek myths. Put down the bong, everybody.


Lugo:
This is exactly the formula the Cathedral applied to the USSR during the Cold War, and to China today - persuade them that we are really our friend, by making concessions when concessions are demanded.
Since we won the Cold War and China is our biggest trading partner now, the strategy would seem vindicated.

Nice links on overlooked insurgencies. Also good points on classical international law.

You really need to read Eamonn Fingleton
There doesn't seem to be good reason to. He rails against economic dogma but apparently has very little understanding of economics. He predicted that Japan would overtake the U.S by the year 2000, which of course turned out to be quite wrong.

Kissinger
He was a German (hence the accent) and he worked for Nixon, who you place on the opposite side.

They advocated containment of the USSR
Oh come on, it was Truman who advocated containment and Reagan who broke with that by advocating rollback. This is basic stuff that anyone discussing the issue should know.

Ultimately, of course, the Whigs triumphed and the Tories were completely eclipsed.
Didn't the Soviet Union collapse and Reagan was hailed as defeating the Evil Empire? Of course in reality it was Gorbachev and Yeltsin that were responsible.

Today, one can certainly see Whiggery in action vis-a-vis American policy towards China, but no politically significant Tories (not even enough to keep the Whigs honest).
The neo-cons used to rail against the Panda-huggers in the 90s, and the issue became salient when we had that crashed plane early in Bush's first term, but after 9/11 they completely changed their focus. Now it is generally lefties who whine about Tibet and China's indirect responsibility for Darfur or Burma.

"Limited" and "decisive" stand in contradiction. A limited war is not decisive. A decisive war is not limited.
What about Kosovo? It was just airpower and it didn't take long for a decisive outcome. I still opposed it anyway.

May 16, 2008 at 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Randy said...

Michael S,

I'd say that the condition or state of affairs is prosperity or lack of the same. For example, the US is now at war, but would we say that our condition is that of war? No, we remain quite prosperous - and that is our condition - perhaps in spite of or even because of the war. Prosperity is also the objective of the methods of war/peace. If peace does not produce prosperity, then there will be war.

May 16, 2008 at 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP, New England did enjoy unique privileges even compared to the mid-Atlantic and southern colonies.

Massachusetts and Connecticut had their own church establishments according to Puritan principles. They paid taxes to support their own religious institutions. On the other hand, New York, Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia were Anglican, and the bishop of London was their ordinary. No bishops were consecrated for North America, because this would have meant the dioscese of London would have had to give up its ecclesiastical revenues from the colonies. These arrangements were a source of considerable distress, both to Anglicans who were not adequately served by their church, and to non-Anglicans who were compelled to pay for a religious establishment abroad with which they had no sympathy. Methodism originated because the Wesleys, who had begun as Anglican priests, were frustrated by the bishop of London's failure to ordain sufficient clergy for North America. The reason why Jefferson's statute of religious liberty was so promptly passed in Virginia after independence had mostly to do with the status of the church of England there. Connectitut, on the other hand, retained its local church establishment until 1817, and Massachusetts its until the 1830s. They enjoyed popular support and fell apart because of internal disagreement rather than because they were regarded as foreign impositions.

The New England colonies also enjoyed a degree of civil self-government that the other colonies did not. They were royally chartered companies that had authority under their charters to elect officers and make laws for themselves.

Most of the other colonies were either proprietary or royal. Among Benjamin Franklin's greatest frustrations when representing Pennsylvania in England was in his dealing with Thomas Penn, who retained the proprietary interest in the colony that had been granted to his father by Charles II. The proprietors of Carolina sold their interest back to the Crown in 1729, putting it back under direct royal control. Neither the proprietary nor the royal colonies enjoyed the independence that New England did.

May 16, 2008 at 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

I do not deny that war led to disruptions of civilian life in the period 1648-1914. They were simply not much different from the disruptions of civilian life that took place during times of peace.

Sorry, that's simply wrong. Pick any peaceful decade in that time period, and you will not see hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, nor entire regions devastated, nor towns and cities flattened on a large scale, as they were during the decades that had major wars in them (e.g. 1756-63 or 1793-1815).

TGGP, your logorrhea is impressive in quantity if not in quality.

Imagine, for example, that the Axis had won the war
I allege that would not have been such a big deal.


Absurd, and not even true for the inhabitants of the western hemisphere.

Rowan Williams
Is he guilty of Schism, Faction or Entusiasm? Perhaps Confusion.


Apostasy, and probably also heresy. Whatever "faith" he subscribes to, it's not Anglicanism.

if Palmerston and Russell had just bit the bullet and recognized the freakin' Confederacy
I don't think recognition really matters much.


Hoo, boy. Haven't read many books on the Civil War, have we? Any book that discusses Civil War diplomacy at all notes the paramount importance the North attached to ensuring the British did not recognize the South, and the urgent efforts of the South to secure that recognition. (Seems they thought it mattered at the time.) British recognition would have dealt the North a devastating moral blow; given the South a tremendous morale boost; encouraged other nations to follow suit and recognize the South; encourage foreign investment in the South; assure foreign (and worst of all, British) challenges to the Union blockade; and raise the prospect of a foreign military alliance with the South. But hey, other than that it wouldn't have mattered much.

every stalin-sympathizer knows a whole bunch of conquered people sided with the Germans during the Great Patriotic War for the Motherland.

His point is to contrast the fact that Lefty guerrilla groups "spontaneously" arise (due to oppression and injustice) in Right-wing states and colonies, but Righty guerrilla groups do not generally spontaneously arise in Left-wing states, despite plenty o' oppression and injustice, and when they do they don't succeed. It is clearly true that Lefty guerrillas arise far more often than Righty guerrillas. The rabble that sided with the Germans, even though some of them fought on after the Germans withdrew, were not really a "spontaneous" response to Stalinist oppression and injustice - they would never have arisen without the artificial stimulus of a German invasion.

you've also got the Chinese being defeated by the Vietnamese.

China did not attempt to occupy Vietnam, and the Vietnamese did not fight as guerrillas. This was a standard state-on-state clash.

The Viet Cong were really an adjunct to the war between the NVA and ARVN.

Not for quite a while into the conflict, and the NVA as such really only openly invaded well after the VC had been destroyed in the Tet offensive.

Give me an example of ONE ACTION the U.S Congress has taken during the Iraq war that hampered the military.

You mistakenly assume that the source of the problem is in Congress, and only in Congress. It's not. Progressive efforts to hamper the war emanate from the media and from within the Executive Branch - chiefly the entrenched Civil Service - much more than from Congress.

I think you'll have to provide support for that kind of statement of pervasiveness.

It's true.

They said they never behaved that way to Germans (the Japanese got the shit end of the stick).

Baloney. Our guys in Europe beat and shot prisoners all the time. And that's even leaving aside the contrast between the bombing methods of today and the bombing methods used against Germany.

How does international law affect me?

Ask that question again after our next President signs on to some sort of international environmental regime. You're going to feel a slight sting when you fill up at the pump. Also, international law, one way or another, affects the price of pretty much everything you buy.

I think that would exclude things like the bombing of Dresden.

Nope.

give me the name of ONE American killed during Bush's administration by an Iranian.

Pick someone killed in Iraq by Iranian weapons or munitions, or killed by someone trained in Iran. It's happening. That counts as aggression.

Since we won the Cold War and China is our biggest trading partner now, the strategy would seem vindicated.

Yeah, who can argue with the obvious success of a strategy that pours wealth into a country that's arming itself to the teeth with weapons that it plans and trains to use against us, that organized - in concert with our other supposed detente partner - an anti-American military alliance from the Baltic to the Pacific, and that is feverishly proliferating nuclear and missile technology to other countries that hate us. You go, detente!

He predicted that Japan would overtake the U.S by the year 2000, which of course turned out to be quite wrong.

Um, had a look at those trade figures from 1990 through today? Japan's export economy and current account surplus has surged triumphantly, while our trade and current account deficit are catastrophic. His basic thesis is correct.

Kissinger
He was a German (hence the accent) and he worked for Nixon, who you place on the opposite side.


You are making the elementary error of assuming that every administration was uniformly Whig or Tory. Just the opposite, every administration was a coalition of Whigs and Tories. Usually a Whig President was paired with a Tory VP (e.g. JFK and LBJ) and a Tory President was paired with a Whig VP (e.g. Reagan and Bush). The main exceptions to this were Ford and Rockefeller and Carter and Mondale, who of course were all Whigs. Whatever the complexion of President and VP, the cabinet slots were always distributed amongst the Whigs and Tories, with State always going to a Whig and Defense usually going to a Tory. So yes, Kissinger, a Whig, worked for Nixon, a Tory, just as Haig and Shultz, both Whigs, worked for Reagan, a Tory.

They advocated containment of the USSR
Oh come on, it was Truman who advocated containment and Reagan who broke with that by advocating rollback. This is basic stuff that anyone discussing the issue should know.


Reagan did not advocate rollback (not in the way it was understood in the late '40s / early 50s). He advocated a reinvigoration of the containment structure. 1940s rollback was never anything other than rhetorical, anyway, and the Reagan Doctrine did not even go that far. If anything, the Reagan doctrine was "payback", not rollback - it increased the cost of empire to the USSR and repaid them for their aid to Hanoi. You will note, however, that it never affected core Soviet interests, just worthless Soviet proxies in the Third World... some "rollback" that is.

As for Truman, you are apparently unaware that before the US moved to containment, the Truman administration bent over backwards trying to sustain the wartime detente with the USSR. They only moved to containment when it was clear the Soviets wouldn't play ball.

Ultimately, of course, the Whigs triumphed and the Tories were completely eclipsed.
Didn't the Soviet Union collapse and Reagan was hailed as defeating the Evil Empire?


1980s detente was a Whig triumph, not a Tory triumph. And in point of fact, the Whigs did not want the USSR to collapse, they wanted the USSR to remain in being as our "strategic partner".

The neo-cons used to rail against the Panda-huggers in the 90s, and the issue became salient when we had that crashed plane early in Bush's first term, but after 9/11 they completely changed their focus.

The neo-cons were correct to decry the excessive influence of the panda huggers (an influence that has only increased under Bush, by the way). And China has not changed its focus while we're busy pissing away our blood and treasure in Iraq.

What about Kosovo? It was just airpower and it didn't take long for a decisive outcome.

Pshaw, what a charade. The war supposedly stopped something that was never happening in the first place, woohoo. And what did they kill in 78 days, 14 tanks? Color me unimpressed with that as a decisive military outcome.

I still opposed it anyway.

On ground of jejune isolationism, no doubt.

May 16, 2008 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger AMcGuinn said...

TGGP: Last I heard the U.K is still on the pound and not part of the EU.

Normally I would just let this sort of idiocy go by, but TGGP is normally intelligent. How has he not heard anything from the U.K. since 1973? How widespread is this view among Americans that Britain is still an independent country, with power to organise its own postal service and so on?

May 17, 2008 at 4:10 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Williams said...

Allow me to revise and extend my remarks.

M. Moldbug argues that the modern world is ruled by a system of morality that originated with the Whigs and that has evolved over time.

I say that you must first understand that there is a large trading area in the world, consisting of North and South America, Europe, East Asia, Australia, India, the Middle East oilfields. This area is called the Functioning Core in the writings of Thomas P.M. Barnett . Money-center banks and multinational corporations earn huge profits each year through their operations in this global trading area.

To protect revenues and profits, violence must be contained. The USA bears a disproportionate share of the cost of containing violence in this trading area, but other nations play a role.

As this global trading area has grown, ruling elites in the USA, Europe, and East Asia have adopted an ideology that supports the goal of violence prevention. This ideology abhors violence, often asserting that violence never solves anything. The same ideology also prescribes obsequious, excessively polite behavior towards ethnic groups capable of violent behavior. The ideology encourages the use of tax money to pay bribes of various kinds to such groups in order to keep them pacified.

Because violence is often caused by conflict between religious groups, this ideology also disparages any kind of fervently-held religious belief, with some adherents going so far as to deny the existence of God. Adherents view armed religious conflict as primitive and absurd. If religion is necessary, an ideal religion, in the view of this ideology, might be of the Unitarian-Universalist kind that welcomes members of any belief system.

This ideology also supports free trade in goods and services and the free flow of cheap labor across national boundaries, viewing free trade as essential to prosperity. It is left unstated that free trade adds greatly to bank and corporate profits.

This ideology also disparages the gold standard, characterizing gold-backed currency as primitive and backward. Left unstated is that fiat money and huge government debt both add to profits of money-center banks.

The two American political parties compete to sell services to corporate titans. Democrats say, “We are great at diplomacy. As long as people are talking, they’re not fighting. Of course, when we say ‘diplomacy,’ we really mean ‘spreading bribe money around.’ But it really works. To get the bribe money, we’ll tax the middle class all you want.”

Republicans say, “Everybody knows that the only way to prevent violence is with a strong military. If you spend the taxpayers’ money on a strong military, you can’t go wrong. We’re also great at maintaining a good business climate. Rule of law and low taxes are what you really want.”

At the end of the day, however, the corporate titans will continue to buy services from both parties, just as they have done for many years. Depending on geopolitical conditions, however, the relative market shares of the two competing vendors may increase or decrease over time.

I’ll add two observations: One is that it is natural for the elites in countries lacking militaries, such as EU countries and Canada, to basically parrot the Democrats by saying, “We EU-types are really great at diplomacy. Diplomacy is our middle name. For violence prevention, International Law is where it’s at. Military power is so overrated.”

Another is that AIPAC and other groups inject money into the USA’s political system on behalf of Israel. Similar money is not injected into EU politics. That is why politicians in the USA compete to be the best defenders of Israel, while EU politicians call Israel “a dirty little country.”

May 17, 2008 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I have been informed via email that the UK, despite not using the Euro, has long been a member of the EU and that some estimate most of the legislation passed by their Parliament is based on EU directives.
While we're arguing foreign policy I figure I'd link to the Agitator for a lighter note. While not presented as humorously, I found Greenwald on Tom Friedman to be funny as well.

Lugo:
TGGP, your logorrhea is impressive in quantity if not in quality
Why, thank you. I figure as long as our host goes to the trouble of writing these massive posts, I ought to thoroughly examine them.

Absurd, and not even true for the inhabitants of the western hemisphere
I cite Mein Kampf as evidence of what Hitler's goals were. Hitler's actual behavior seems to indicate it was an accurate presentation of them. Furthermore, the English Channel proved too formidable of an obstacle for him. Even if he had designs on the Western Hemisphere (and I don't know of any evidence that he did) he wouldn't have been capable of doing much about it. The idea that "We'd all be speaking Nazi now" is indeed less laughable than fears of worldwide Prussianism, but still not to be taken seriously. If you've got contrary evidence, provide it.

Apostasy, and probably also heresy. Whatever "faith" he subscribes to, it's not Anglicanism.
That sounds like the sort of accusations Puritan Dissenters aimed at the Anglican Church.

Any book that discusses Civil War diplomacy at all notes the paramount importance the North attached to ensuring the British did not recognize the South, and the urgent efforts of the South to secure that recognition. (Seems they thought it mattered at the time.)
Considering my opinion of politicians, that doesn't say much to me.

a devastating moral blow
Ooh, a moral blow. As distinguished from an actual blow. That, you know, has tangible effects.

given the South a tremendous morale boost
I thought we dropped that elan vital nonsense after WW1.

encouraged other nations to follow suit and recognize the South
Which begs the question of recongition mattering.

assure foreign (and worst of all, British) challenges to the Union blockade; and raise the prospect of a foreign military alliance with the South
Now those sound significant actual events, rather than simple recognition.

His point is to contrast the fact that Lefty guerrilla groups "spontaneously" arise
The Russian revolution was a direct result of the first world war. Most of the communist movements in east asia were the direct results of the second. That was pretty much the high-point for marxism, with third world nationalism becoming more important later.

Righty guerrilla groups do not generally spontaneously arise in Left-wing states
The Contras did. UNITA was a pre-existing armed group that shifted to the right after other lefty guerrillas came to power. Then of course there is Afghanistan.

China did not attempt to occupy Vietnam, and the Vietnamese did not fight as guerrillas. This was a standard state-on-state clash
That's true enough. The guerrillas went through Mao's stage of attaining conventional capacity fighting the French and the NVA took over the entire country when we left. The important point is that a brutal communist power with a much larger population and military capacity got bitch-slapped when it took them on. China wasn't full of military incompetents, as it won a small war with India. Nor was India full of incompetents, as it repeatedly defeated Pakistan (as well as Sikh terrorists later).

Not for quite a while into the conflict
Certainly not in the minds of U.S commanders. They were focused on the VC the whole time, not that they mattered (especially after Tet). The NVA was the important force, as they actually took over the South.

You mistakenly assume that the source of the problem is in Congress, and only in Congress
They are a rule-making body.

Progressive efforts to hamper the war emanate from the media
What can the media do? Reveal classified information? That doesn't really compare to having a commanding general purposely lose.

and from within the Executive Branch - chiefly the entrenched Civil Service - much more than from Congress
Then give me one example of an act taken by the Executive Branch that went against the President's will and hampered the military.

It's true.
Ha ha, I'll take that to mean "I can't provide any support".

Baloney. Our guys in Europe beat and shot prisoners all the time.
I provided a link to support my statement. If you disagree, provide some evidence yourself.

And that's even leaving aside the contrast between the bombing methods of today and the bombing methods used against Germany.
Shock and awe was quite effective. Then we captured Baghdad. We kept dropping bombs after that, but not after Berlin fell.

Ask that question again after our next President signs on to some sort of international environmental regime. You're going to feel a slight sting when you fill up at the pump
Funny enough, the U.S did a better job of living up to Kyoto than most of the countries that signed it! That's what happens when a goal rather than a step to achieve the goal (like a carbon tax) is specified. MM seemed to be referring to international relations rather than environmental legislation, which is more effectively enacted domestically.

Nope
Explain how that helped end the war. I think the evaluation done after the war concluded that all the strategic bombing just wasted pilots that could have been used tactically.

Pick someone killed in Iraq by Iranian weapons or munitions, or killed by someone trained in Iran. It's happening. That counts as aggression.
Have any idea how prevalent U.S made weapons are in the hands of insurgents or how many military and police officers we train shoot at us later? And you haven't even given me the single name I asked for. You asked me to pick one, so I pick whichever you pick. Provide it.

Yeah, who can argue with the obvious success of a strategy that pours wealth
They poured wealth (stuff we want) into our country. We gave them bits of paper, worth less and less by the second. Sounds like the Chinese got the raw end of the deal there. Even the dollars they receive are poured back into America.

a country that's arming itself to the teeth
Compare their military spending to ours. It's laughable.

it plans and trains to use against us
Have you got evidence for that? I'd think an invasion of Siberia, or Taiwan or some islands held by Japan or even Vietnam again would be more likely.

that organized - in concert with our other supposed detente partner - an anti-American military alliance from the Baltic to the Pacific
They were in an alliance with the Soviet Union, then came the Sino-Soviet split (with help from Nixon). That's why China invaded Vietnam and fought Soviet-aligned India, Vietnam invaded Cambodia, UNITA switched sides and sang "God bless America".

that is feverishly proliferating nuclear and missile technology to other countries
I think the U.S and Israel are the most feverish producers of arms (though France gives a good showing). With regard to nukes, blame Pakistan (or in addition Turkey and Israel) for exporting that everywhere. I don't really blame them because I thought M.A.D was great. I'm thoroughly pro-nuke and want to see both power plants and warheads everywhere. Take that, hippies!

countries that hate us
You know, it seems odd to me that the major attack on the United States in recent times was carried out by Saudis and Egyptians. Why haven't we invaded them? And why do people keep trying to distract us with other countries that didn't attack us?

Um, had a look at those trade figures from 1990 through today? Japan's export economy and current account surplus has surged triumphantly, while our trade and current account deficit are catastrophic.
Anyone can be a dirt-poor autarky and have a current account surplus. Japan had a "lost decade" and they're so behind us the worries of the '80s have become laughable as attention shifts to China. He made a prediction that turned out to be wrong because his thesis was economically faulty.

Usually a Whig President was paired with a Tory VP (e.g. JFK and LBJ) and a Tory President was paired with a Whig VP (e.g. Reagan and Bush)
Everyone knows Vice Presidents don't have any power and are chosen for the political reason of appealing to voters the President is worried about (with the exception of Cheney, who picked himself). Kissinger was a member of cabinet, chosen by the President after he was already elected. Nixon himself was a Quaker fond of realpolitik, not much of a Tory cowboy.

The main exceptions to this were Ford and Rockefeller and Carter and Mondale, who of course were all Whigs
If being a Midwestern Republican doesn't stop Ford from being a Tory, what does? And if being a "moderate" Republican who created the E.P.A and pushed through affirmative action along with price controls doesn't make Nixon a Whig, what does?

Reagan did not advocate rollback (not in the way it was understood in the late '40s / early 50s). He advocated a reinvigoration of the containment structure. 1940s rollback was never anything other than rhetorical, anyway, and the Reagan Doctrine did not even go that far
He supported armed resistance movements to communist governments: the contras, UNITA, the mujahedin and probably others I'm forgetting. In contrast, Truman supported the existing Greek and Turkish governments against communist rebels. He also invaded Grenada after one communist groups overthrew another. Truman's intervention in Korea maintained the status quo.

If anything, the Reagan doctrine was "payback", not rollback
What's the difference?

You will note, however, that it never affected core Soviet interests, just worthless Soviet proxies in the Third World... some "rollback" that is.
It rolled back proxies, what is so hard to understand about that?

As for Truman, you are apparently unaware that before the US moved to containment, the Truman administration bent over backwards trying to sustain the wartime detente with the USSR
On what basis do you make that assumption? I come from a long line of righties that damn F.D.R for selling out to Stalin, I was taught that before I even heard of Hitler. The fact that that Truman continued those policies initially does not change the fact that the containment doctrine originated with him.

in point of fact, the Whigs did not want the USSR to collapse, they wanted the USSR to remain in being as our "strategic partner".
Then doesn't the fact that it actually collapsed indicate a Tory triumph and Whig defeat?

And China has not changed its focus
And what focus is that?

The war supposedly stopped something that was never happening in the first place, woohoo
Sort of like the invasion of Iraq! The fact that we engaged in it for idiotic reasons does not change its decisiveness.

And what did they kill in 78 days, 14 tanks? Color me unimpressed with that as a decisive military outcome.
Attrition is the hallmark of INdecisive war. It was decisive because we won the war and made the area a province of NATO. We seem to have very different concepts of military decisiveness.

On ground of jejune isolationism, no doubt.
Also because I hated Clinton and thought he was starting wars to distract us from his other unpopular activites (like Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, Wag the Dog was predictive rather than descriptive). Also, we were helping Muslims, and I've never thought well of them. It turned out that al Qaeda had also sent some people to help out the same people we did, which should not have been surprising given the already well-known nature of the KLA. I think "jejune isolationsim" had the right idea during desert storm as well. Screw Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the ungrateful bastards. The first Gulf War led to the birth of al Qaeda and the long struggle for yada yada yada (I hope that's an uncontroversial statement, but you never know here). Also, it seems like a waste to have supported Iraq under Saddam during their war against Iran, only to crush their military a few years later.


AMcGuinn, thanks for the correction. We Americans are a provincial lot generally unaware of what goes on elsewhere and I thank God for that.

its own postal service
I had heard during recent elections Conservative pols were campaigning on reversing recent changes to the postal system. Would they be unable to do so?


Jeff Williams:
Thomas P.M. Barnett
I remember when I used to read his blog regularly. I think I plowed through PNM in one sitting at a bookstore without paying for it. He's way too heavy on buzzwords, and I find John Robb better on the subject.

The USA bears a disproportionate share of the cost of containing violence
We seem quite apt to create rather than contain violence. Perhaps because the U.S government is not synonymous with the corporations that collect those revenues and profits (who perhaps should finance that violence-control themselves).

Because violence is often caused by conflict between religious groups, this ideology also disparages any kind of fervently-held religious belief
That reminds me of what Ed Glaeser has written on how different urban areas are politically from urban ones. Glaeser's writings on what caused the rise of the welfare and regulatory state are interesting reads to contrast with MM's explanations and can be found via his papers page. I pointed him out before here, assuming he was most likely on the "Other Side", but I have since learned that he considers himself a righty.

with some adherents going so far as to deny the existence of God
Good heavens, no! The audacity!

Adherents view armed religious conflict as primitive and absurd
Bryan Caplan seems to view all armed conflict as primitive and absurd. That post shouldn't have been a surprise given his pacifist syllogism.

I was under the impression that most of the gold standard supporters were big advocates of free trade.

The two American political parties compete to sell services to corporate titans.
Bill Gates is or at least was the richest man in the world. Why the hell did the Justice Department go after him?

To get the bribe money, we’ll tax the middle class all you want
Most Americans are net tax consumers. Most Americans are middle class. It is the rich that pay most of the taxes.

May 17, 2008 at 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I think the answer as to why the Justice Department went after Bill Gates is fairly clear. For a long time before it happened, he paid very little attention to politics or politicians. You can't have that kind of money and not pay them off, any more than you could have been a shopkeeper in Capone's Chicago without paying 'protection money.' Had Gates been more attentive to making suitable contributions to politicians, life would have been easier for him. He appears to have learnt his lesson.

May 17, 2008 at 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Williams said...

TGGP:

We [the USA] seem quite apt to create rather than contain violence.

What are some examples of US government creating violence in the Functional Core? Afghanistan and Iraq are in what Barnett calls "the Gap." My thesis here is that the US military is protecting the Core on behalf of wealthy interests. Violent acts outside the Core which have the purpose of protecting the Core are consistent with my thesis. Defensive violence within the Core would also be consistent with the thesis.

I was under the impression that most of the gold standard supporters were big advocates of free trade.

Rolling out the welcome mat to mercantilist exporters is not the same as free trade. Many markets, especially in Asia, are effectively closed to products from US factories. Partly because of warped, propagandized notions of free trade, the US is now in a crisis where we will be hard pressed to come up with export earnings to pay for oil. We are likely on the verge of a sudden, panicky drop in the value of the dollar. Then the price of a gallon of gas will be $10 or more. Who is to blame for this state of affairs? Not us small-government, gold standard conservatives. How about the bloated, bribe-taking, lobbyist-dominated federal government?

Most Americans are net tax consumers. Most Americans are middle class. It is the rich that pay most of the taxes.

I mean taxes broadly defined. You cited the income tax only. What about the payroll tax, with Social Security at 12.9% and Medicare at 2.9%? What about state and local taxes? All these fall on the middle class.

Taxes due to inflation should also be considered. For example: Suppose I bought a rental property for $100,000 and sold it ten years later for $200,000 when I moved to a different state. Federal, state and local governments would take a total of 35% or $35,000 of my "profit." But due to inflation, a similar, replacement rental property now will cost me $200,000. Of course I can't buy such a property because I now only have $165,0000. Taxes on artificial, inflation-induced profits are a big source of government revenues. Government would not get this tax money if the gold standard were restored. Inflation by itself is also a tax on any savings denominated in dollars.

Put all these taxes together, and you have high tax rates on the middle class. It is interesting that Charlie Rangel, a Democrat, last fall proposed cutting the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 30.5%. It is also interesting that Obama does so well in raising money from corporate executives. I believe I understand what's going on here. It's that the interests of wealthy corporations are being served, as opposed to the interests of middle-class Americans. If more money is needed to pay tribute to terrorists and insurrectionists, I have my guess as to where it will come from.

May 17, 2008 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger master_of_americans said...

MM, please explain next week how the principle of uti possidetis could possibly be expected to create a comparatively stable world order. "Their borders are defined by the power of their military forces." But the balance of military power changes constantly, so they would need to fight intermittently to redraw the borders. What is limited or decisive about that?

Also, Davis says that treaties signed under duress should be considered binding. But what does "binding" even mean in this context? We have already stipulated that borders are determined by military power. So, if I sign an agreement that gives you Alsace-Lorraine when I am weak, is that agreement supposed to be binding on me later when I am stronger? I will simply force you to sign another "binding" treaty saying the opposite of the first.

Lastly, I'd like to comment on your argument that "The cause of revolutionary violence is weak government. If people avoid revolting against strong governments, it is because they are not stupid, and they know they will lose." I don't wish to come across as saying that this false, but I don't think it can stand unqualified. As you are no doubt aware, most people certainly are stupid. However, I will agree that there are a few areas of life where people tend to have a certain level of competency, and one of them is not getting killed. That said, people's behaviour is clearly a long way away from a rational cost-benefit analysis of their chances of being killed vs. expected rewards. Various factors – the ones that spring to mind are anger/revenge and religion – can skew that decision-making process a lot.

May 17, 2008 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous The Shouldster said...

Okay, it's true there were wars during the reactionary / traditional international law period, but didn't that period lack a single world superpower? Not just nukes, but conventional Tomahawks and B-52s and subs and all that?

I mean, cut off all aid to insurgents, and there are no civil wars. I remember an argument in the 1980s between people who thought the US should aid the Contras in overthrowing the Nicaraguan government and those who thought we should aid the FMLN in overthrowing the Salvadoran government. I came up with a novel proposal: not trying to overthrow anybody. That's what passes for "isolationism" in the era of "Invade? Of course! But on which side?"

The other kind of wars wouldn't be prevented by reactionary / classical int'l law. Good point. But those are fairly rare nowadays. If the only wars that happened were ones like Iraq vs. Kuwait, I would say it's not too big a stretch to call that world peace (though of course the media wouldn't have to agree - all it takes is a headline to turn the Soccer War into the Lights are Going Out All Over Central America).

Iraq vs. Kuwait: a decisive war? Seemed like it to me. Limited? Well, I don't know if Saddam was exactly merciful, but he could have poisoned all the wells in Kuwait, couldn't he? He could have killed all the Kuwaitis and he didn't. Limited warfare seems like the rule rather than the exception. I'll look it up, but right now I'm guessing that chlorine, mustard gas, etc. could have been deployed against rear cities by aircraft in WWI, and they weren't.

"Total war" and "limited war" sounds like the head-scratching dichotomy between "shooting to kill" and "shooting to wound". Cops shoot to stop, nations fight to win and to rule. Whether they refrained from gassing neighborhoods in two world wars as an act of cold-hearted strategy or warm-hearted mercy is a question for those who try to read the minds of the dead.

I am still skeptical of the role of international law in limiting war damage. Hard to say. The great 20th Century wars lasted longer than most 19th Century wars. Would you compare a month of casualties from one war to a month of another war? This wouldn't take into account different levels of mobilization, or different fractions of the population engaged in food production vs. other fields. How about population density? A merciless razing of a 16th century town kills fewer people than the Dresden raid, because of the size of the town.

But even talking about average lengths of wars is perilous. I'd be worried people would start drawing semantic boundaries in strange places. The Guiness Book includes a war that lasted less than a day.

I still agree with Moldy's recommendation, though - stop overthrowing governments, even by proxy. Stop judging internal decisions in other countries by our own standards. To me it's common sense, and it's the tiny middle ground that should be a huge middle ground, between the types of people who question Israel's right to exist and the kind of people who want to subsidize their government. (Or the types of people who look at the Communist and Taliban governments of Afganistan and try to puzzle out which ones were TRULY democratic.)

May 17, 2008 at 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ack, that prolly sounded like some twisted defense of Saddam Hussein. No, not from me. He was a bastard, only he preferred to enslave most people and murder a few rather than murder all of them. My point is just that it wasn't a technical problem to kill all of them, it was a choice SH made, and I think most every ruler would make if they were seeking decisive victory.

- The Shouldster

May 17, 2008 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

...if oppression and injustice really are the cause of insurgent movements, why was there never anything even close to an insurgency in any of the Soviet-bloc states? ... There is one and only one way to defeat an insurgency, which is the same way to defeat any movement - make it clear that it has no chance of winning, and no one involved in it will gain by continuing to fight.
And how did that work out in the end for the all-powerful Soviet state?

You can't crush dissent without crushing creativity and productivity, which has negative consequences in the modern world. Admittedly, the Chinese are doing their best to have it both ways. We'll see how that goes.

It occurs to me that by citing Defoe's satirical essay you may be dropping a hint that your own work may be meant to not be taken entirely seriously. If this is all an elaborate hoax, well, I congratulate you on your energy and devotion.

May 17, 2008 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger AMcGuinn said...

TGGP: Conservative pols were campaigning on reversing recent changes to the postal system. Would they be unable to do so?

Yes they were, and yes they would be unable to. But that's the one thing Labour couldn't say, since in politics, being irrelevant is worse than being wrong.

On a perhaps more relevant note, I do think it's a confusing mistake to see the pro- and anti-war politicians in the US as divided by principle. Invading somewhere in 2003 was good politics, even if bad policy, just like opposing EU Directive 2002/39/EC is good politics for the opposition, and it would have happened whoever was in office.

May 17, 2008 at 10:43 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

Why Charles Stross? Your stated reasons are weak - you've probably talked with lots of people on the internet over the years and lots of OMPs want world peace.

As an paleo/nativist kind of guy, Stross's book Accelerando surprised me because it had a take on the singularity similar to mine rather than the techno-optimism I expected.

(*SPOILER*)

The AIs end up tearing up every planet in the solar system and converting them into solar-powered computers, and the remaining humans are forced to go live by some godforsaken dwarf star.

That's more reminiscent of a right-wing worldview, with different irreconcilably opposed to each other over limited resources (matter and energy), than a progressive worldview, which assumes we can all get along, if we can all just be tolerant and open-minded.

The progressive view requires completely ignoring or denying limits to growth, and not coincidentally it only flourished during a time when limits were seemingly abolished by the opening of North America, technological advances, and falling birthrates (and liberalism will probably die if limits to growth ever stare us in the face again, which may be happening now).

If resources are limited, we are playing a zero sum game, and you have to think about who is getting these limited resources, which leads to my-tribe-vs-your-tribe thinking ("we need Lebensraum for our people"). Policies that would appear spiteful to progressives (like limiting immigration) suddenly make sense.

I don't exactly have a phD in Stross studies, but it appears that he doesn't take the next logical step from realizing that resources are limited - probably because the next logical step is pretty awful from an OMP point of view.

May 18, 2008 at 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

MTraven:

Whoa, fantastic catch on the "Shortest Way," compadre! I'm obviously not very informed on 17th Century pamphleteering: it sure looked serious to me, but apparently it is a joke.

This tells the tale. Here's the relevent bit, (a large part of a short piece, by the way):

Defoe soon found out that he had broken the cardinal rule for satire: He hadn't gone far enough. Many radical Anglicans, assuming that one of them had written the pamphlet, thought it a pretty good argument, and spoke out in favor of execution. [...]

When everyone realized they had been duped, and by Defoe, he was thrown into Newgate for "seditious libel" and eventually sentenced to three days in the pillory. As a hostile crowd had savagely stoned another pamphleteer a few weeks earlier, this was no bargain. Out of defiance or strategy, Defoe hurriedly composed "Hymn To The Pillory," a vicious satire of those who had sent him there. It was smuggled out of Newgate and printed in time to be hawked to the crowd during his three-day ordeal. The London mob so enjoyed the poem, and so admired the man who had dared to cheek the high and mighty, that they drank Defoe's health, and decked his pillory with flowers.



MM, you've got some 'splaining to do. Is MT right? Is UR an elaborate satire that's been too subtle for anyone to get until now?

May 18, 2008 at 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Dagnabit, I even previewed it and it looked OK, I swear.

May 18, 2008 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger AMcGuinn said...

I don't think MM can be pulling quite the same stunt as Defoe was, since there's really nobody significant holding any views that MM's could be a satire of. Nor was he hiding the status of The Shortest Way - he just didn't explain it very clearly (the "provocation or black propoganda" bit)

May 19, 2008 at 2:22 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

AMcGuinn:

I don't know, it's possible he's been pulling our leg. Looked at through the right lens, UR could be a biting, three-pronged satire of reactionaries, libertarians, and "race realists" all at once, couldn't it? No, they're not exactly influential political positions, but they definitely punch outside their weight class on the web.

Also,
From the viewpoint of the narrator, who of course is an uber-high Tory,
doesn't sound like he was just being unclear to me at all - clearly he was either mistaken about Defoe or actively misleading.

May 19, 2008 at 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Whoops, scratch that last comment, reading more carefully, you're right AMcGuinn, and I'm definitely wrong.

May 19, 2008 at 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't crush dissent without crushing creativity and productivity, which has negative consequences in the modern world. Admittedly, the Chinese are doing their best to have it both ways. We'll see how that goes.

Not a lot of "dissent" - as progressive Americans would define it - in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, or Singapore, either, and creativity and productivity there have been doing fine.

May 19, 2008 at 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

I figure as long as our host goes to the trouble of writing these massive posts, I ought to thoroughly examine them.

And demoralize your opponents with sheer volume of fire? The quantity of examination may be prodigious, but the quality is far less impressive.

I cite Mein Kampf as evidence of what Hitler's goals were. Hitler's actual behavior seems to indicate it was an accurate presentation of them. Furthermore, the English Channel proved too formidable of an obstacle for him. Even if he had designs on the Western Hemisphere (and I don't know of any evidence that he did) he wouldn't have been capable of doing much about it. The idea that "We'd all be speaking Nazi now" is indeed less laughable than fears of worldwide Prussianism, but still not to be taken seriously. If you've got contrary evidence, provide it.

Wow, Hitler said he wasn't going to attack America. There's a basis for a sound US foreign policy - what Hitler said in his tendentious political diatribe that he wrote in prison. One can just imagine the speeches:

President Roosevelt, May 26, 1940: "There are many among us who closed their eyes, from lack of interest or lack of knowledge; honestly and sincerely thinking that the many hundreds of miles of salt water made the American Hemisphere so remote that the people of North and Central and South America could go on living in the midst of their vast resources without reference to, or danger from, other Continents of the world. There are some among us who were persuaded by minority groups that we could maintain our physical safety by retiring within our continental boundaries -- the Atlantic on the east, the Pacific on the west, Canada on the north and Mexico on the south. I illustrated the futility -- the impossibility -- of that idea in my Message to the Congress last week. Obviously, a defense policy based on that is merely to invite future attack."

President TGGP, May 26, 1940: "Hey everyone, I know you're all excited about France falling and all that, but Hitler said he wasn't going to attack America. Everyone go back to bed!"

Mein Kampf can't be taken too seriously, if for no other reason than he LIES A LOT in it, and not everything he says in MK foreshadows future action. For example, in MK he does not say his goal was to slaughter the Jews en masse. In MK, he argues that Germany, Britain and Italy should gang up to crush France and her Eastern European allies. Hmmmm, that didn't happen. Guess we can't take Mein Kampf as an infallible roadmap of the 'Dolf's future actions after all.

But, if we accept the word of Hitler, one must also consider the evidence in Hitler's so-called "Second Book", written in the 1920s after MK, which argues that Germany's long-term enemy was the United States, and that Germany's final struggle for global domination, after the USSR had been crushed, would be against the USA.

To argue that Germany could not get across the Channel in 1940 and therefore the USA had nothing to fear from a triumphant Germany is simply risible. Quite obviously, the resources at Germany's disposal in 1940 were in no way comparable to the resources Germany would have had at her disposal if she had crushed the USSR and then forced the Brits to sue for peace.

(Seems they thought it mattered at the time.)
Considering my opinion of politicians, that doesn't say much to me.


What a compelling argument! Everyone should of course consider your dismissive hand-wave to be more convincing than the fact that the men who ran the Union and the Confederacy strongly believed that British recognition (or denying recognition) was important, and acted on those beliefs.

Ooh, a moral blow. As distinguished from an actual blow. That, you know, has tangible effects.

You're certainly not increasing my respect for your historical acumen with such nonsense. There may be wars in history in which neither side cared about the morality of its cause, but the US Civil War was certainly not one of them. Each side went to great lengths to convince its followers that its cause was morally just, and the other side morally unjust. Read anything about Union or Confederate troops, and you will see that belief in the morality of their cause was a critical reason why they fought, suffered, and died. It follows that anything that undermined the morality of the Union cause - such as Britain recognizing the Confederacy - would have struck a tremendous blow to the morale of Union troops, and had a significant tangible effect, namely, people in the Union would have become less likely to join the Army and to fight effectively once in it. Come on, this is very basic stuff here.

given the South a tremendous morale boost
I thought we dropped that elan vital nonsense after WW1.


You are kidding me, right? Anyone who does not understand the importance of morale in war really shouldn't even venture an opinion about military history. You should go read Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, or Napoleon, to start with, if you wish to avoid further embarrassment.

encouraged other nations to follow suit and recognize the South
Which begs the question of recongition mattering.


Britain, by virtue of its dominant Navy, could veto effective intervention by any other power. Thus the other powers watched to see what Britain did. If Britain recognized the South, other nations would pile on, but if Britain did not, then other nations would hold back. Ergo, British recognition mattered, and mattered more than recognition by any other nation.

Now those sound significant actual events, rather than simple recognition.

I suppose in your extremely simplistic worldview, the Emancipation Proclamation was not an "actual event" that had "tangible effects" and thus "mattered", but was merely the irrelevant prattle of a mere politician?

Righty guerrilla groups do not generally spontaneously arise in Left-wing states
The Contras did. UNITA was a pre-existing armed group that shifted to the right after other lefty guerrillas came to power. Then of course there is Afghanistan.


I used the word "generally" to indicate that one can imagine certain exceptions. I am skeptical of Savimbi as a "rightist" guerrilla, incidentally (but hey, I can't name a single person who UNITA killed, so I am not even sure that war really happened). Taking aid from your "class enemies" does not make you a rightist - just ask Stalin and Mao.

The important point is that a brutal communist power with a much larger population and military capacity got bitch-slapped when it took them on.

Since MM does not argue that communist powers cannot lose in traditional military clashes with other nations, this point does not seem "important" at all. Even on its own terms, it is a weak point, since China did not seek the all-out conquest of Vietnam and thus did not bring its much larger population and military capacity to bear.

Certainly not in the minds of U.S commanders. They were focused on the VC the whole time, not that they mattered (especially after Tet). The NVA was the important force, as they actually took over the South.

Nope. They knew who they were fighting - they knew the PAVN were the real problem - and they knew the VC were beaten after Tet.

You mistakenly assume that the source of the problem is in Congress, and only in Congress
They are a rule-making body.
Progressive efforts to hamper the war emanate from the media
What can the media do? Reveal classified information? That doesn't really compare to having a commanding general purposely lose.


Hoo boy. Your thought processes continue to amaze me. But then, I should not be amazed that someone who doesn't know that morale is critical in war does not understand that the media plays a critical role in either sustaining - or undermining - national morale and the will to continue a conflict. Why do you think that every single country that fought in WW1 and WW2 had government control of its media? You do know that, right? Do you think it is a coincidence that we did not have censorship in Vietnam, and we lost? The media can do so much more than just "reveal classified information". What it reports, and how it reports it, determines what the average American knows about the war, and thus directly affects national will. Our enemies know this. A successful, non-treacherous general can win a hundred battles, but if the press ignores them, or misreports them as defeats, those victories simply don't matter.

give me one example of an act taken by the Executive Branch that went against the President's will and hampered the military.

Pretty much everything emanating from Langley about Iraq qualifies.

It's true.
Ha ha, I'll take that to mean "I can't provide any support".


Nah, it means I can't be bothered to spoon feed you if you're too slothful to seek out the info for yourself. Based on what I've seen from your posts, educating you would be a large and thankless task indeed.

Anyway, see this: The CIA's lawyers play a central role in deciding when a strike is justified, current and former U.S. officials said. The lawyers analyze the credibility of the evidence, how many bystanders might be killed, and whether the target is enough of a threat to warrant the strike. Other agencies, including the Justice Department, are sometimes consulted, Strickland said. "The legal input is broad and extensive," he said."

And here it says that standard Air Force procedure is to have Judge Advocate staff (i.e. lawyers) review ALL proposed targets... determine whether the target makes an effective contribution to the enemy's military capability and whether its capture, destruction, or neutralization will result in a definite military advantage under the totality of the circumstances at the time of the attack... make sure each weapon doesn't do too much collateral damage... blah blah blah. A lawyer can intervene at any point in the bomb-dropping process and say stop. Sure ain't the way they did it back in General LeMay's day. That lawyer would have been strapped to the first napalm canister dropped on Tokyo.

I provided a link to support my statement. If you disagree, provide some evidence yourself.

Meh, again, not my job to educate you. They couldn't pay me enough. Go read Giles MacDonough's After the Reich on US treatment of German POWs. A lot of Ambrose's books talk about US troops shooting German POWs, or just not taking prisoners in the first place.

Shock and awe was quite effective. Then we captured Baghdad. We kept dropping bombs after that, but not after Berlin fell.

"Shock and awe" is not what you think it is. Before Baghdad fell, we dropped bombs in the very limited, precise, lawyer-supervised way I alluded to above. We did not flatten Iraqi cities with total disregard for civilian casualties the way we flattened German cities. And so what if we kept dropping bombs after Baghdad fell? We quit bombing Germany because they quit fighting. We are still bombing Iraq because they are still fighting.

Explain how [bombing] helped end the war. I think the evaluation done after the war concluded that all the strategic bombing just wasted pilots that could have been used tactically.

Nope. Go read Alfred C. Mierzejewski's The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945, or Alan Levine's The Strategic Bombing of Germany.

Have any idea how prevalent U.S made weapons are in the hands of insurgents or how many military and police officers we train shoot at us later? And you haven't even given me the single name I asked for. You asked me to pick one, so I pick whichever you pick. Provide it.

Yes, insurgents get weapons from US and non-Iranian sources, but this hardly demonstrates that these are the only sources or that Iran does not arm or train any insurgents.

And no, I'm not going to "provide a name" because that is a stupid demand, and if I do not do so it does not prove your case.

Go read "Under siege - Attacks on coalition bases in Iraq" (Jane's Intelligence Review, November 2007) or "Deadly developments - Explosively formed projectiles in Iraq" (Jane's Intelligence Review, March 2007).

They poured wealth (stuff we want) into our country. We gave them bits of paper, worth less and less by the second. Sounds like the Chinese got the raw end of the deal there. Even the dollars they receive are poured back into America.

I guess you snoozed through Econ 101 when they explained that money is a medium of exchange. Do you howl with outrage every time your employer gives you "worthless bits of paper" at the end of the week, or do you exchange those bits of paper for something you want? The Chinese have exchanged the trillion-some bucks we have poured into China for things that increase their productive capacity. This is called "investment." In exchange we have bought consumer goods. This is called "consumption." Such goods do not produce anything, and do not constitute wealth in any real sense. In a few years they'll all be on the trash heap. In short, you have it exactly backwards; they are getting the wealth (and the means to produce more wealth), and we are getting the worthless junk. If you think that's a good deal for us then your understanding of economics is as faulty as your understanding of history.

a country that's arming itself to the teeth
Compare their military spending to ours. It's laughable.


They don't need to spend the same as us, since they aren't trying to do the same things as us (not right away, anyway). They are not trying to maintain a global power projection capability, and aren't pissing away their resources on a conflict in Iraq, and don't have to pay their people nearly as much as we do. But that is beside the point. The point is, what is the meaning of "detente"? Why are we pouring wealth into a country on the assumption that we'll get some kind of "cooperation", when as I said it is arming specifically against us, and doing a lot of other things that if you listed them without reference to China, and just said "Country X is doing this, this, and this, are they a friend or an enemy?", then any objective observer would conclude they were clearly an enemy? When was the last time a "friend" to the United States threatened to nuke Los Angeles, as China did?

it plans and trains to use against us
Have you got evidence for that? I'd think an invasion of Siberia, or Taiwan or some islands held by Japan or even Vietnam again would be more likely.


Whatever they want to do, they know the only thing that can stop them is the US military. Hence they plan and train and procure the capabilities needed to sink US ships, especially carriers, and to destroy US bases in the region. This RAND report is a good outline of Chinese strategy. You should also look at the annual DOD reports on Chinese military power.

They were in an alliance with the Soviet Union, then came the Sino-Soviet split (with help from Nixon). That's why China invaded Vietnam and fought Soviet-aligned India, Vietnam invaded Cambodia, UNITA switched sides and sang "God bless America".

Not going to waste any time on this babble, but I'll note that the Sino-Soviet split occurred 10 years before Nixon became President.

I think the U.S and Israel are the most feverish producers of arms (though France gives a good showing). With regard to nukes, blame Pakistan

Pakistan, eh? Where do you think it got its nuclear technology, hmmmm? That's right, China.

it seems odd to me that the major attack on the United States in recent times was carried out by Saudis and Egyptians. Why haven't we invaded them? And why do people keep trying to distract us with other countries that didn't attack us?

It's just bizarre to assert that we should only focus on any one country - whether it's Afghanistan, or Iraq, or if you prefer, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Other countries and other problems have not gone away just because we're flailing around in the Middle East. You might as well argue that Britain should not have been "distracted" by German naval construction while she was involved in the Boer War. ("Hey, Germany hasn't attacked us, why should we care about those little old Fleet Acts?")

Anyone can be a dirt-poor autarky and have a current account surplus. Japan had a "lost decade" and they're so behind us the worries of the '80s have become laughable as attention shifts to China. He made a prediction that turned out to be wrong because his thesis was economically faulty.

So your argument now is that Japan is "dirt poor"? Ha, we should be that poor. And are we rich because of our deficits? Oh wait, I forgot, according to you, yes we are! Rich in plasma TVs, rich in cheap clothing, rich in foods and medicines that only sometimes turn out to be poisonous...

In point of fact, Japan's "lost decade" is a myth.

Moreover, I was not pointing MM to Fingleton's work on Japan, but his more recent work on China.

Everyone knows Vice Presidents don't have any power and are chosen for the political reason of appealing to voters the President is worried about (with the exception of Cheney, who picked himself). Kissinger was a member of cabinet, chosen by the President after he was already elected. Nixon himself was a Quaker fond of realpolitik, not much of a Tory cowboy.

It is droll that you demand references from everyone else, but then the basis for your assertions is "what everyone knows" (gee, guess that settles it). What everyone knows is neither infallibly correct nor necessarily the whole story. Nor is there a necessary inconsistency beween choosing VPs to "strengthen" the President among voters the President is worried about and choosing VPs from among representatives of the other Cold War faction (Whig or Tory) than the President. After all, part of the reason a Whig President needed a Tory VP was that the Whig's appeal was weak among voters who favored a hard line with the USSR. Part of the reason a Tory President needed a Whig VP was the Tory's appeal was weak with voters who wanted "dialogue" with the USSR.

As for cabinet members, I think the evidence is pretty clear, based on the actual choices, that Presidents did not (and still do not) pick them with absolute freedom. But hey, stick with the Civics 101 version if you're comfy with it!

As for Nixon, he was a Tory / Cowboy as I defined it - representative of the pro-containment faction whose power base was in the South and West. Go read Kirkpatrick Sale's Power Shift or Thornton's Nixon-Kissinger Years if you want to know more.

If being a Midwestern Republican doesn't stop Ford from being a Tory, what does? And if being a "moderate" Republican who created the E.P.A and pushed through affirmative action along with price controls doesn't make Nixon a Whig, what does?

Geography was not destiny. Carter was obviously a Whig. Ford was also a Whig. For that matter, Clinton was a Whig. None of them would have been President if he'd stayed "loyal" to his region and been a snarling anti-Communist.

Domestic policy didn't make the Whig, either. Remember, LBJ, the arch-Tory, was also Mr. Great Society. Both LBJ and Nixon were, among other things, trying to buy off Whig dissent. Remember, every US administration was a coalition government. Every member of the coalition needs to get something out of it or they defect from the coalition.

Reagan supported armed resistance movements to communist governments: the contras, UNITA, the mujahedin and probably others I'm forgetting. In contrast, Truman supported the existing Greek and Turkish governments against communist rebels. He also invaded Grenada after one communist groups overthrew another. Truman's intervention in Korea maintained the status quo.

If you can't see the difference between trying to roll back Soviet power in Eastern Europe and supporting a few anti-Communist rebels in some crappy African country, I can't help you. If you think Grenada was the actual realization of the late 40s / early 50s idea of rollback - which was never realized as anything but rhetoric at a time when US power relative to the USSR was incomparably greater than it was in the 1980s - that's nothing short of hilarious.

Reagan's basic goal was to reinvigorate containment. That's where most of the money went - rebuilding strategic forces, rebuilding conventional defenses in Europe, building up the Navy. The amount of money spent on "rollback" in the 1980s was insignificant, as was the amount of actual US military action associated with it.

If anything, the Reagan doctrine was "payback", not rollback
What's the difference?


The former is a cost-imposing strategy in areas that are of no great importance to the Soviets. The latter is a direct assault on Soviet core interests in Eastern Europe. If you do the former, you make them spend money. If you do the latter, tanks roll and missiles fly.

It rolled back proxies, what is so hard to understand about that?

Except it didn't roll them back. It wasn't supposed to. If you roll them back, the Soviets stop spending money on them. We wanted the bleeding to continue as long as possible - ergo, "payback".

As for Truman, you are apparently unaware that before the US moved to containment, the Truman administration bent over backwards trying to sustain the wartime detente with the USSR
On what basis do you make that assumption?


It's not an assumption, it is a historical fact. One is hard-pressed to explain US policy towards the USSR and in China in late 1945 / early 1946 except as an effort to sustain wartime detente - unless you want to stick with your daddy's "Reds in the US government sold us out" theory, which I do not find compelling.

The fact that that Truman continued those policies initially does not change the fact that the containment doctrine originated with him.

I'm not even sure how you're trying to disagree with me, if you are. Truman was not a "pure Tory" administration, as you seem to think, but a bridge between the ultra-Whig FDR administration and the more Tory Eisenhower administration. There were both Whigs and Tories in Truman's administration - as there were in every Cold War administration.

in point of fact, the Whigs did not want the USSR to collapse, they wanted the USSR to remain in being as our "strategic partner".
Then doesn't the fact that it actually collapsed indicate a Tory triumph and Whig defeat?


No, it indicates that not everything is under the control of contending American political factions. When the USSR collapsed, the Tories were out of the picture and the Whigs were standing there wondering what to do. For a while they decided to pretend it didn't change anything. Then they decided to switch from Russia to China as a "strategic partner".

And China has not changed its focus
And what focus is that?


Ultimately, overthrowing the world order that serves US interests, and installing a world order that serves theirs. Who knows, MM might like it. You might, too. That is, if the Chinese stick with their currently professed belief that nations should not meddle in each other's internal affairs or impose "democracy" on others.

The war supposedly stopped something that was never happening in the first place, woohoo
Sort of like the invasion of Iraq! The fact that we engaged in it for idiotic reasons does not change its decisiveness.
And what did they kill in 78 days, 14 tanks? Color me unimpressed with that as a decisive military outcome.
Attrition is the hallmark of INdecisive war. It was decisive because we won the war and made the area a province of NATO. We seem to have very different concepts of military decisiveness.


Dude, there WAS no attrition. The Serb army withdrew in good order with most of its stuff. "It was decisive because we won the war" - so every victory is decisive? Only defeat is indecisive? And neither Kosovo nor Serbia is a "province of NATO."

We seem to have very different concepts of military decisiveness.

I don't see how you can describe a war as decisive when the military action was neither necessary nor sufficient to achieve the desired political outcome, and didn't achieve much in the way of military results even on its own terms. Merely jumping up and down and shouting "We won, we won!" does not make a war decisive - just ask Bush Senior. In order to be deemed decisive, in my view, a war to "stop all military action" should stop it sooner than 78 days (especially considering the relative power of the combatants - geez, this war basically matched the entire western world against a trailer park on the Danube); a war to "end violence and repression" should, you know, end it quickly and finally instead of replacing Serb violence with continuing Albanian violence; and a war to ensure the "unconditional and safe return of all refugees and displaced persons" should not, in the first place, create 800,000 refugees, and should not, afterwards, essentially replace 100,000 Kosovar refugees (the purported casus belli) with 250,000 Serbian refugees. They didn't say "all ethnically Albanian refugees", they said "all refugees", and the supposedly decisive war to "help" refugees return home actually created more of them!

I don't even want to think about how much time I spent on this post. Good thing there's nothing going on at work...

May 19, 2008 at 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

It would be a mistake to credit Defoe with anything so straightforward as a consistent set of political principles. He was certainly in the pay of the Tory ministry of the earl of Oxford, as also was Swift. Unlike Swift, Defoe later is thought to have worked for the Whig ministry of Sir Robert Walpole.

The admirable historian Eric Towers writes: "What divided Whig from Tory... was not principle or policy but the distribution of the fruits of office, the titles, salaries, perquisites, the opportunities of making a fortune in the service of the nation..." In other words, things were not very different from the standpoint of the garden-variety politician then than they are today.

May 20, 2008 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Jeff Williams:
What are some examples of US government creating violence in the Functional Core
I didn't specify that it was in the Core. The Core can for the most part take care of itself. The U.S did meddle in Europe in world wars 1 and 2, but hasn't done so much since. Invading Iraq was definitely a case of creating violence.

My thesis here is that the US military is protecting the Core on behalf of wealthy interests
How does invading Iraq protect the Core? Iraq was only a problem for its neighbors, and to a much smaller extent after the first Gulf War.

Rolling out the welcome mat to mercantilist exporters is not the same as free trade
Rolling out the welcome mats to anyone is considered free trade. If they want to mess with their currency to make their exports cheaper, than thanks a lot for subsidizing our people at the expense of yours.

Partly because of warped, propagandized notions of free trade, the US is now in a crisis where we will be hard pressed to come up with export earnings to pay for oil
You sound like a mercantilist yourself. It is not the "US" that purchases oil. Is it people within the US. I don't have to export anything abroad to buy oil.

We are likely on the verge of a sudden, panicky drop in the value of the dollar
That will actually make our exports more affordable to the rest of the world. I'm not crazy about exports, so I don't view that as a very good thing.

Who is to blame for this state of affairs? Not us small-government, gold standard conservatives
If you voted for Bush, then in the aggregate you are.

How about the bloated, bribe-taking, lobbyist-dominated federal government?
It isn't the lobbyists that determine all that. It's the voters.

What about the payroll tax, with Social Security at 12.9% and Medicare at 2.9%
As long as a tax depends on percentage of income (even a "flat" tax) the rich will pay more, because they have much higher incomes.

What about state and local taxes
Some states have income taxes and the same thing will apply. Some have other taxes, like property taxes. The people who pay most of those will have the most valuable property, i.e the rich.

Taxes due to inflation should also be considered
That's actually a good point. It will hit those who have the most liquid assets. Widows and pensioners are usually given as examples.

It is interesting that Charlie Rangel, a Democrat, last fall proposed cutting the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 30.5%
A good number of lefties favor abolishing it as it as it is often used for corporate welfare purposes and tends to fall on consumers anyway.

It is also interesting that Obama does so well in raising money from corporate executives
Obama is likely to win and corporate executives are an easy political target to squeeze. They are paying him Dane-geld.

. I believe I understand what's going on here.
I believe you overrate the extent to which you do and should study some economics.

It's that the interests of wealthy corporations are being served, as opposed to the interests of middle-class Americans
Except that middle class Americans favor just about every status quo policy we have. I don't think corporate America rallied for SarbOx for McCain-Feingold, which most economists regard as idiotic but sounded good to the public.

If more money is needed to pay tribute to terrorists and insurrectionists, I have my guess as to where it will come from.
You cite Medicare, Social Security, state and local taxes but those pay for Medicare, Social Security and state and local services! Foreign aid is about 1% of the budget. The largest recipient of our foreign aid is Israel, hardly a terrorist or insurrectionary. The next largest are our allies in the War on Terror who have made peace with Israel and thereby become "moderate". It is your and MM's harping on this that makes me suspect economic ignorance.


The Shouldster:
I mean, cut off all aid to insurgents, and there are no civil wars
That sounds silly to me. Most civil wars are along ethnic/religious lines and as long as there are countries divided along those lines I would expect civil wars. Nobody else seems to give a damn about the Tamils in Sri Lanka, but they're still the most active suicide-bombers. Civil wars existed before there were countries with foreign policies of supporting insurgencies and they will continue to exist if it stops.

I still agree with Moldy's recommendation, though - stop overthrowing governments, even by proxy
It seems odd to me that he so often bemoans cutting off aid to reactionary governments though. He also says he expects coups to occur all over the world once we stop sending aid, which certainly sounds to me like he's judging internal decisions in other countries by the standards of orderly government.


mtraven:
And how did that work out in the end for the all-powerful Soviet state?
They stopped crushing dissent under Gorbachev. They fell because the elites stopped believing.

You can't crush dissent without crushing creativity and productivity, which has negative consequences in the modern world. Admittedly, the Chinese are doing their best to have it both ways. We'll see how that goes.
They've been doing it for a considerable number of years.


c23:
As an paleo/nativist kind of guy, Stross's book Accelerando surprised me because it had a take on the singularity similar to mine rather than the techno-optimism I expected.
Robin Hanson argues against Stross' futurism here.

The progressive view requires completely ignoring or denying limits to growth
The only people I EVER hear use the phrase "limits to growth" are progressive environmentalists.

liberalism will probably die if limits to growth ever stare us in the face again, which may be happening now
Liberalism will die with the return of patriarchy, which I linked to before.

If resources are limited, we are playing a zero sum game
No, we aren't. If resources are limited I can destroy resources for no good reason. That is negative sum. On the other hand I can try to prevent the waste of resources perhaps by finding more efficient methods of doing something. That is positive sum.


Anonymous, please use a handle:
Not a lot of "dissent" - as progressive Americans would define it - in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, or Singapore, either, and creativity and productivity there have been doing fine.
South Koreans absolutely love, love, love to riot. Japan's rioting anti-Vietnam students were inspirational to the global left. Japanese students are now going into finance and the arts rather than science and engineering.


Lugo:
And demoralize your opponents with sheer volume of fire?
MM is not one to be demoralized, and if I considered him an opponent I probably wouldn't hang out here. My volume is less than his. I simply find portions of his output worth commenting on and comment. I suppose when I give kudos it's not really of much worth, but there are some I feel I simply cannot pass up.

The quantity of examination may be prodigious, but the quality is far less impressive
Oh my, I've been criticized over the internet, whatever shall I do.

Wow, Hitler said he wasn't going to attack America
I don't think he actually said he wasn't going to. He never said he wasn't going to invade Togo either. In accordance with circumscription there simply is no reason to believe he was going to invade either country and plenty of reason to believe he was going to invade others.

One can just imagine the speeches
One would hope that UR readers would know pretty much everything FDR said was bullshit. Especially about war.

what Hitler said in his tendentious political diatribe that he wrote in prison
Hitler said he was going to attack France and Russia. And he did. He said he'd ally with the Anglo-Saxons against the Judeo-Bolshevik hordes, and that is what he attempted. Even when he was rebuffed and at war with the British and Americans, most of the war took place on the eastern front with Russia. To reduce WW2 to simply a conflict between Germany and the USSR would not be terribly inaccurate.

if for no other reason than he LIES A LOT in it
Which part would be most misleading about the future?

For example, in MK he does not say his goal was to slaughter the Jews en masse
According to functionalists, that wasn't his goal at the time. He did say that Jews were locked in struggle with Aryans, they should be stripped of their citizenship, and the enemy of Germany was a Judeo-Bolshevik regime run by Zionists. He also mentions gassing up to 15000 Jews.

In MK, he argues that Germany, Britain and Italy should gang up to crush France and her Eastern European allies
Germany did indeed ally with Italy, attack France and Eastern Europe. As mentioned, he attempted an alliance with England but the English refused. It was they who declared war on him when he invaded Poland, sent troops against his in France and bombed Germany before the Germans bombed England. Pat Buchanan discusses that here. They could have had peace with Germany if they wished it, but they did not.

Guess we can't take Mein Kampf as an infallible roadmap of the 'Dolf's future actions after all
We certainly can't take it as a roadmap of the actions of other countries. Then we would be shocked at his defeat!

But, if we accept the word of Hitler, one must also consider the evidence in Hitler's so-called "Second Book", written in the 1920s after MK, which argues that Germany's long-term enemy was the United States, and that Germany's final struggle for global domination, after the USSR had been crushed, would be against the USA.
I discussed that in my Lindbergh post. He predicts that the combined forces of Germany and the British Empire will come into conflict with the U.S around 1980. By then he would have probably been dead. Trying to make political predictions (and since he presumably would not be implementing them, they are predictions rather than plans) that far into the future is simply laughable. The USSR never got crushed at any rate, so until then the US would have little reason to fear.

What a compelling argument! Everyone should of course consider your dismissive hand-wave to be more convincing than the fact that the men who ran the Union and the Confederacy strongly believed that British recognition (or denying recognition) was important, and acted on those beliefs.
The U.S gets really dinky countries to vote their way in the U.N on Israel or to call themselves part of the "coalition of the willing". Doesn't mean it matters, but I suppose it makes some people feel good. And people back then were all sorts of insane.

You're certainly not increasing my respect for your historical acumen with such nonsense
If I was the sort of person who cared about respect I might have thought recognition was important!

It follows that anything that undermined the morality of the Union cause - such as Britain recognizing the Confederacy - would have struck a tremendous blow to the morale of Union troops, and had a significant tangible effect, namely, people in the Union would have become less likely to join the Army and to fight effectively once in it
The Union had a draft and a huge population. You haven't even established that their moral fervor for defeating the South was contingent on Britain's recognition (did Southerners give up because Britain didn't recognize them? They kept fighting long after they had a chance of victory). I remember in the run-up to the Iraq war when France came out against it, Americans gleefully mocked the surrender monkeys. When the Guardian tried to send letters to Ohio asking people to vote for John Kerry, people disliked Kerry all the more.

Anyone who does not understand the importance of morale in war really shouldn't even venture an opinion about military history
I think morale can help a unit be more effective, but it rarely makes the difference between defeat and victory. It is one of the most consistently overrated factors because everyone loves to trumpet how loyal to the group they are and how insufficiently enthusiastic others are as they jockey for position within the group. Doesn't much this "morale" talk strike you as Whiggish? It's the sort of thing a Dilbertized-office would focus on (along with teamwork, diversity and so on) rather than doing a good job of providing a product or service.

You should go read Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, or Napoleon, to start with, if you wish to avoid further embarrassment.
I admit I haven't read Napoleon, but I have to say Sun Tzu is overrated. Perhaps it's because I'm such an extreme Occidentalist (especially when it comes to war) and he was writing about an eastern kind of warfare that seems alien to me.

Britain, by virtue of its dominant Navy, could veto effective intervention by any other power
Didn't the French navy intervene against the British in the American War of Independence? And here once again you're switching betwee recognition and intervention.

If Britain recognized the South, other nations would pile on
What is their motivation to pile on?

the Emancipation Proclamation was not an "actual event" that had "tangible effects" and thus "mattered", but was merely the irrelevant prattle of a mere politician
It was mostly that, but it had some tangible effects. It declared free the slaves of the Confederacy, which of course were not then in the hands of the Union, but they would be in the future so in that sense it is a directive later to be carried out.

I am skeptical of Savimbi as a "rightist" guerrilla
They officially declared themselves to be, but people who deserted the organization claimed that he secretly remained a Maoist.

but hey, I can't name a single person who UNITA killed, so I am not even sure that war really happened
I was the one who brought up UNITA, not you, so it shouldn't be expected for you to be able to name anyone. I can find names and numbers, so you have reason to believe it's real even if there is some innaccuracy in various sources.

Since MM does not argue that communist powers cannot lose in traditional military clashes with other nations
Even much smaller nations? Was Israel's recent war in Lebanon "traditional"?

Even on its own terms, it is a weak point, since China did not seek the all-out conquest of Vietnam
Nor did the U.S! I would also say that the Chinese have attempted to save face by lowering the bar for their goals post-facto after getting their nose bloodied.

Nope. They knew who they were fighting - they knew the PAVN were the real problem
Q. Who said "I am convinced that U.S. troops with their energy, mobility, and firepower can successfully take the fight to the NLF [aka Viet Cong]"? A. William Westmoreland. They persisted in searching villages for guerrillas throughout the war. They measured their success through bodycounts, mostly of non-uniformed Vietnamese rather than NVA. They never invaded the North with ground troops to remove the Hanoi government.

national morale
The "nation" doesn't even exist in a certain sense (ask Thatcher). Most within it are not soldiers and have no involvement with the war, so they do not have "morale" in any meaningful way in the traditional sense. Perhaps they will vote for politicians that do certain things, but then you'd have a problem in Congress which you just dismissed.

Why do you think that every single country that fought in WW1 and WW2 had government control of its media?
According to Wikipedia "All movie scripts had to be pre-approved, but there was no direct censorship of radio, newspapers or magazines". Albert Jay Nock, John T. Flynn and Harry Elmer Barnes were all criticizing our involvement, but none of them were ever arrested. The government of course selectively reports back information from the war-zone (today's embedded journalists in military units are examples of that) and even today they still use the media for propaganda. Oddly enough today anti-war lefties seem the most upset about media freedom.

Do you think it is a coincidence that we did not have censorship in Vietnam, and we lost?
I think we bungled around aimlessly in Vietnam (as mentioned, we never toppled Hanoi) supporting a completely dysfunctional government that couldn't save itself and that's why we lost. We still had the government feeding us nonsense which was accepted for a pretty long time.

What it reports, and how it reports it, determines what the average American knows about the war
So if the government wants to make a public announcement, can the media prevent people from hearing it? If soldiers are reporting to their families back home one thing, can the media convince them otherwise?

national will
aka the Green Lantern's Ring of Power or Care Bear Stare.

A successful, non-treacherous general can win a hundred battles, but if the press ignores them, or misreports them as defeats, those victories simply don't matter
That's mighty damn solipsistic. No matter how you report something like Yorktown or the Fall of Saigon, the military facts on the ground determine the situation. There are such things as decisive battles, but as mentioned before we appear to have extremely different conceptions of the concept.

Pretty much everything emanating from Langley about Iraq qualifies.
I asked for one example. You didn't give it.

Nah, it means I can't be bothered to spoon feed you if you're too slothful to seek out the info for yourself. Based on what I've seen from your posts, educating you would be a large and thankless task indeed.
That's forty words. In much fewer you could have provided some info.

Anyway, see this
The article discusses an assassination program CARRIED OUT BY THE CIA. So the CIA may hamper ITSELF (and occasionally the Justice Department may hamper the CIA, which if you hate the CIA may be good), but that is a different thing from hampering the military.

And here it says that standard Air Force procedure is to have Judge Advocate staff (i.e. lawyers)
So not the entrenched civil service, the State Department, the Justice Department or the CIA but the military? Even looking over the page it says the primary goal is to prevent fratricide. They have no problem bombing civilians to get terrorists in their midst. Some stats on airpower in Afghanistan and Iraq here.

A lawyer can intervene at any point in the bomb-dropping process and say stop
"NOTHING IN THE ROE SHOULD LIMIT THE COMMANDER'S INHERENT AUTHORITY AND OBLIGATION TO USE ALL NECESSARY MEANS AVAILABLE AND TO TAKE ALL APPROPRIATE ACTION IN SELF-DEFENSE OF THE COMMANDER'S UNIT AND OTHER U.S. FORCES IN THE VICINITY!"
[bold, caps, exclamation in the original]
It sounds to me like the commander has the right to act and in such a situation a judge advocate could not prevent them from doing so.

Sure ain't the way they did it back in General LeMay's day
We were at war with a nation-state back in LeMay's day. A lot fewer bombs fell in Germany a after the fall of Berlin than in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. The military did operate under rules specifying what was a legitimate target dating back to the Hague Convention of 1907, in the 1949 Geneva Convention those were changed. The strategic bombing of World War 2 is a pretty good example of the idiotic focus on "morale", as neither British nor German civilians were cowed enough to reduce production. Having the Russians close in was enough to get Hitler to off himself though. You brought up Vietnam as a contrast, when we actually dropped more bombs than in WW2. The difference was that we never seized Hanoi.

A lot of Ambrose's books talk about US troops shooting German POWs, or just not taking prisoners in the first place.
Do they discuss torture? That's what my link was about.

"Shock and awe" is not what you think it is
You like to make assumptions about what I think. Most cities were bypassed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, with the goal being to make rapid progress and avoid getting bogged down, though they were certainly happy to quickly destroy any enemy units along the way. A sensible plan if the goal was remove the threat posed by the regime.

We did not flatten Iraqi cities with total disregard for civilian casualties the way we flattened German cities
The Second Battle of Fallujah had plenty of pancaking, but that was after the fall of Baghdad. It wasn't on the scale of Dresden, but most German cities didn't get the Dresden treatment either.

We quit bombing Germany because they quit fighting. We are still bombing Iraq because they are still fighting
Did bombing cause Germans to cease fighting? Not before their occupation by ground forces. The fact that the same has not occurred in Iraq should be an indicator that it's a different sort of war.

Go read "Under siege - Attacks on coalition bases in Iraq" (Jane's Intelligence Review, November 2007) or "Deadly developments - Explosively formed projectiles in Iraq" (Jane's Intelligence Review, March 2007)
Googling I found this where it is asserted "There is strong prima facie and circumstantial evidence to believe that Iranian-based support included the facilitation of collaboration between Hizbullah bomb makers and Iraqi Shia militants". What the evidence is it did not say. I'm not a subscriber, so perhaps you could enlighten us on what smoking guns have been found. What I do know is that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (who as the largest party in the Iraqi Council of Representatives are the major force behind the Iraqi government we set up and support though it rolls out the red carpet for Ahmadenijad) and their paramilitary wing, the Badr Brigades (created by Iran in the Iran-Iraq war), spent a lot of time in exile in Iran waiting for Saddam to lose power. Sadr stuck it out in out in Iraq even after Saddam killed his dad, while as he likes to point out his main clerical rival the "pro-American" "moderate" Sistani is an Iranian. I also know that the U.S military is arming Sunnis that admit they were helping al Qaeda attack us only a short time ago. We can only conclude then that the U.S military is "insanely aggressive" against itself.

Do you howl with outrage every time your employer gives you "worthless bits of paper" at the end of the week, or do you exchange those bits of paper for something you want?
Do you howl with outrage when a supermarket takes your money in exchange for stuff you want? Or would you be upset if it shut down? Do you demand that the supermarket purchase your services if you are going to purchase from it?

Such goods do not produce anything, and do not constitute wealth in any real sense
Every economist I've ever heard of would say they do. The Chinese are the major reason the "increase in inequality" of recent times turned out largely to be non-existent.

we are getting the worthless junk
To the degree that it is worthless we would not have to pay for it. In fact it has quite a lot of worth because people were willing to pay much more these things before China provided them. The difference between the old price and the new is known as "consumer surplus" (a good thing). The money we would have spent on those higher priced items is available for other things. Many people are unaware that we manufacture more than before, we merely have fewer workers there because higher productivity makes them unnecessary (again, a good thing). See We Don't Make Anything Anymore. I guess that economist slept through Econ 101!

They are not trying to maintain a global power projection capability
So instead local or regional power, which would mean not aimed at us?

Why are we pouring wealth into a country
It is not "we" collectively that are pouring wealth into there. It is individuals giving money in return for things they want. The Chinese pour their wealth into here. Current-Account Deficit = Capital Account Surplus.

it is arming specifically against us
What makes you say "specifically against us"? If it is aiming for local or regional power, wouldn't it be against its neighbors? Provide some evidence that they are in fact aimed specifically against us.

When was the last time a "friend" to the United States threatened to nuke Los Angeles, as China did?
I wasn't aware they had done that. If they had actually nuked Los Angeles, I think I would have been aware of that. They haven't actually attacked, so I don't care.

Whatever they want to do, they know the only thing that can stop them is the US military
Is there any reason I should even want them to be stopped?

You should also look at the annual DOD reports on Chinese military power.
According to even the highest estimates their expenditures are less than a fifth of ours.

Not going to waste any time on this babble, but I'll note that the Sino-Soviet split occurred 10 years before Nixon became President
Yes, there were some shots fired across the Mongolian border, but before Nixon it wasn't to the same degree. China supported Hanoi before but invaded later.

Pakistan, eh? Where do you think it got its nuclear technology, hmmmm? That's right, China.
Pakistan was our ally at the time. That's why their Karachi nuclear power plant was created mostly with materials from western nations.

It's just bizarre to assert that we should only focus on any one country
Oh, we get attacked by Saudis and Egyptians and it's just BIZARRE that I focus on them? Imagine if I walked up to you and kicked you in the nads. As you pound my face against the pavement I exclaim in short bursts "It's just bizarre of you to focus on me for kicking you in the balls when there are many other people who could potentially do so!"

Other countries and other problems have not gone away just because we're flailing around in the Middle East
Other countries and their problems tend to stay far away. Saddam Hussein generally screwed with his neighbors. His military certainly did not have the capability of mounting an invasion of the U.S any time soon, and the last time he pissed us off we crushed him.

You might as well argue that Britain should not have been "distracted" by German naval construction while she was involved in the Boer War. ("Hey, Germany hasn't attacked us, why should we care about those little old Fleet Acts?")
Germany in fact did not attack Britain until Britain attacked Germany (as mentioned above) so ignoring them would have been sensible. If Britain had responded to the Boers by having photo-ops in South Africa while mounting an invasion of Germany, I would certainly find that bizarre.

So your argument now is that Japan is "dirt poor"?
I never claimed anything like that. I don't see how any close reading of what I wrote would take away that message. Japan is not an autarky, but autarkies tend to be poor. We've known since Ricardo that comparative advantage means trade makes you richer.

In point of fact, Japan's "lost decade" is a myth.
Oh, the post-autistics. A bunch of French progressive types that don't like economics because they think it's cold and uncaring. Your link even refers to Japan as the "second richest nation", so saying "We should be so poor" would then translate to "We should be poorer than we are now".

It is droll that you demand references from everyone else, but then the basis for your assertions is "what everyone knows"
Apologies, the Constitution gives the Vice President the power to break ties in the Senate and succeed the President should he become unfit for office before his term is up.

Part of the reason a Tory President needed a Whig VP was the Tory's appeal was weak with voters who wanted "dialogue" with the USSR
If a President does engage in dialogue, does that make them a Whig? Have we then ever had a Tory President? What makes one a Tory rather than Whig? Is it military service? Then Reagan is excluded while Kennedy, McGovern, Carter, Mondale Bush Sr and Kerry are all included.

As for cabinet members, I think the evidence is pretty clear, based on the actual choices, that Presidents did not (and still do not) pick them with absolute freedom
Did I say absolute? Cabinet members implement policy, and when they displease the President they are dismissed. They are chosen after elections are already done with so the political demands (which are pretty much the totality for choosing a Vice President) are much less significant.

As for Nixon, he was a Tory / Cowboy as I defined it
I don't recall you defining it. MM introduced the Tory/Whig angle and Ogelsby introduced the Yankees and Cowboys.

For that matter, Clinton was a Whig. None of them would have been President if he'd stayed "loyal" to his region and been a snarling anti-Communist.
Clinton became President after the collapse of communism. It wasn't really an issue any more.

Domestic policy didn't make the Whig, either. Remember, LBJ, the arch-Tory, was also Mr. Great Society.
That's why I don't accept him as an arch-Tory. He was also possibly the most important politician behind Civil Rights. Even in Vietnam he was trying to Whiggify the country.

Remember, every US administration was a coalition government
The term "coalition government" is usually used when multiple parties in a parliament must combine to form a majority. This makes the term meaningful because then when one party has the majority it is not a coalition government. We generally try to avoid unfalsifiable statements.

Every member of the coalition needs to get something out of it or they defect from the coalition.
That would be a great problem in a parliamentary system and could cause a change in governments. In the U.S an administration may continue until the end of its term even theoretically if it had no members of its party in Congress, and continue to wield executive powers. That's why has little has changed (especially with regard to foreign policy) since the 2006 midterms when the Dems gained a majority in both houses.

If you can't see the difference between trying to roll back Soviet power in Eastern Europe
Did we ever invade Eastern Europe?

and supporting a few anti-Communist rebels in some crappy African country
The term "rollback" doesn't have a geographic qualifier. The Soviets thought such crappy countries were important enough to support communists in, so apparently did we (the Domino Effect!). I personally don't think they were, which is why I think we should have stayed the hell out of Korea, Vietnam and the rest.

If you think Grenada was the actual realization of the late 40s / early 50s idea of rollback
I think it was an instance of rollback.

If you do the latter, tanks roll and missiles fly.
That sounds like World War 3, or nuclear war. Reagan was anti-nuke from way back, I don't think he wanted that.

Except it didn't roll them back
The Soviets were kicked out of Afghanistan. The Contras eventually took power in Nicaragua.

It's not an assumption, it is a historical fact
The assumption was about my awareness, not history!

which I do not find compelling
The Venona transcripts revealed there were Soviet agents very high up in the government at that time.

I'm not even sure how you're trying to disagree with me, if you are
Then go back and read what I wrote and what I was responding to. The idea of "containing" the USSR by supporting existing anti-communist regimes was introduced under Truman, which is why it is known as the "Truman doctrine". Many on the right explicitly disagreed with that doctrine and instead advocated "rollback". Supporting anti-communist guerrillas against an existing communist regime is an example of rollback (changing the status quo) rather than containment (maintaining the status quo).

No, it indicates that not everything is under the control of contending American political factions
I'm glad to see someone agrees with me on that, let's gang up on MM!

For a while they decided to pretend it didn't change anything
I though Bush Sr said it ushered in a New World Order.

Then they decided to switch from Russia to China as a "strategic partner".
I thought we were partners with China well before the USSR collapsed (due to the aforementioned Sino-Soviet split). We stayed "partners" (some people say "looters", but they're ornery) under Yeltsin. It wasn't until Putin that people got really scared about Russia. Before him it was rather pathetic.

Ultimately, overthrowing the world order that serves US interests, and installing a world order that serves theirs
Who have they overthrown and installed?

Dude, there WAS no attrition
(Resisting the urge to take you literally) Because it was not indecisive!

so every victory is decisive?
What kind of victory are we talking about? All those battles we won in Vietnam were not decisive, because they did not make the decision. A defeat may also be decisive (in any decisive battle there should be both a loser and winner). That which causes victory is decisive.

Only defeat is indecisive?
A stalemate is indesivie. Trench-war and guerrilla war are among the most indecisive forms of war, because they can go on and on with lots of casualties without much changing strategically.

And neither Kosovo nor Serbia is a "province of NATO."
Figuratively speaking of Kosovo in the paleo manner.

I don't see how you can describe a war as decisive when the military action was neither necessary nor sufficient to achieve the desired political outcome
We ended the Ba'athist regime. That's decisive.

and didn't achieve much in the way of military results even on its own terms
We don't seek military results for their own sake. If possible you avoid the enemy. You attack him because he obstructs your goal. The innovation of the German storm-troopers in WW1 was to use infiltration tactics and penetrate the line avoiding strong-points. It was no failing of the Germans in the next war that they avoided the Maginot Line.

Merely jumping up and down and shouting "We won, we won!" does not make a war decisive - just ask Bush Senior
What about Bush Senior?

In order to be deemed decisive, in my view, a war to "stop all military action" should stop it sooner than 78 days
I would consider decisive to be a relative term. In the days of old-timey ships that moved quite slowly I would consider an action decisive that took longer than one I considered indecisive in a more fast-paced war.

a war to "end violence and repression"
If you're engaged in that I can hardly believe you're aiming for decisiveness. As they say, fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

end it quickly and finally instead of replacing Serb violence with continuing Albanian violence
That is pretty damn decisive if your goal is to assist the Albanians against the Serbs.

May 20, 2008 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

a war to "end violence and repression"

If you're engaged in that I can hardly believe you're aiming for decisiveness. As they say, fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

How else are you going to get new virgins?

May 21, 2008 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Lugo (and I suppose TGGP):

"There may be wars in history in which neither side cared about the morality of its cause,"

I wouldn't imagine you could show me one. Getting men to pick up an axe or a sword or a gun and kill each other always involves first convincing them of the rightness of their actions (after you train them that's a different story, though).

"but the US Civil War was certainly not one of them. Each side went to great lengths to convince its followers that its cause was morally just, and the other side morally unjust."

I fear you may be thinking of the wrong sort of morality here. While there are a few Union soldiers who fought for slavery, the vast majority of Union and Confederate soldiers who fought did so to either (Union) preserve the Union or (Confederate) defend their state. Read the journals. There are thousands to choose from.

"Read anything about Union or Confederate troops, and you will see that belief in the morality of their cause was a critical reason why they fought, suffered, and died. It follows that anything that undermined the morality of the Union cause - such as Britain recognizing the Confederacy - would have struck a tremendous blow to the morale of Union troops, and had a significant tangible effect,"

Hardly. The reason the Confederacy wanted official British recognition (the Brits were throwing money at the CSA) was for 1) more money 2) a negotiating table and (most importantly) 3) more supplies and ammunition.

The Union worried about this enough that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation -- thereby making the war titularly "about slavery" and forcing the Brits to back off (when they banned slavery in the 1830s they were awfully zealous in enforcing said ban -- they couldn't support/recognize a nation that was fighting to keep slavery [as opposed to one that was fighting to throw off bonds of tyranny]). But they were much more concerned with trying to figure out how to secure victory and look good (which the EP did).

"Namely, people in the Union would have become less likely to join the Army and to fight effectively once in it."

Bah. They would have viewed such interference as interference and the New Englanders who had wanted war with England forever would have gotten it.

Bah.

May 21, 2008 at 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Wow, Hitler said he wasn't going to attack America
I don't think he actually said he wasn't going to. He never said he wasn't going to invade Togo either. In accordance with circumscription there simply is no reason to believe he was going to invade either country and plenty of reason to believe he was going to invade others.


What circumspection? Hitler's circumspection? Hitler has been called a lot of things, but I've never heard him called circumspect before.

"Hitler didn't say he was going to attack America" is not any more reassuring than "Hitler did say he wasn't going to attack America." You have asserted that MK is a reliable guide to his future intentions. Since he attacked quite a few countries he never even mentioned in MK - Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece, the Netherlands - it is simply fatuous to argue that there was no threat to America from a Nazi victory in Europe because he did not express any directly aggressive intent towards America in MK.

In fact, if you read MK closely, you will see that he portrays America as a creature of "world Jewry", and one of the instruments (the other being the USSR) by which they hope to create a "Jewish world-empire". To me, such talk does not present a lot of hope for peace between the USA and a victorious Third Reich.

One would hope that UR readers would know pretty much everything FDR said was bullshit. Especially about war.

So far everything you've said about war is bullshit, too.

Hitler said he was going to attack France and Russia. And he did. He said he'd ally with the Anglo-Saxons against the Judeo-Bolshevik hordes, and that is what he attempted. Even when he was rebuffed and at war with the British and Americans, most of the war took place on the eastern front with Russia. To reduce WW2 to simply a conflict between Germany and the USSR would not be terribly inaccurate.

Oh, so we see that Hitler can change his mind when things don't work out the way he originally intended. What happens when Hitler is victorious in Europe, and America remains the only obstacle to his openly stated goal of becoming a "world power"? Gee, you think he might change his mind about not having any aggressive intentions towards the Western Hemisphere, then, too? Was it smarter to keep him in check before he had that option, or should we have let him run wild in Eurasia and then say, oh gee, guess we better do something about Hitler now? "Not letting a single power dominate Eurasia" is Geopolitics 101.

The Eastern Front was of great importance, but no, I don't agree WW2 can be reduced to that.

Which part would be most misleading about the future?

So hard to say, since so much of it is obvious claptrap. One might note that he says an alliance with Russia would be senseless and unthinkable, while an alliance with Britain would be highly desirable. Yet he did form an alliance with Russia, and wound up attacking Britain. It's all very well to say the alliance with Russia was a temporary expedient and he "attempted" to form an alliance with Britain. The undeniable fact is that he deviated from the intentions stated in MK when it suited him to do so, and thus one can draw no comfort from the fact that he didn't express directly aggressive intent towards the USA when he wrote MK.

According to functionalists, that wasn't his goal at the time. He did say that Jews were locked in struggle with Aryans, they should be stripped of their citizenship, and the enemy of Germany was a Judeo-Bolshevik regime run by Zionists. He also mentions gassing up to 15000 Jews.

OK, so how does this support your claim that MK is a reliable guide to his intentions? His goals towards the Jews changed from 1925, when he wrote MK, to 1942, when he started annihilating the Jews. Would his goals with respect to the USA not have changed over time? Why would his attitude to America have been fixed and immutable when he deviated from so many other things he said in MK?

In MK, he argues that Germany, Britain and Italy should gang up to crush France and her Eastern European allies Germany did indeed ally with Italy, attack France and Eastern Europe. As mentioned, he attempted an alliance with England but the English refused. It was they who declared war on him when he invaded Poland, sent troops against his in France and bombed Germany before the Germans bombed England. Pat Buchanan discusses that here. They could have had peace with Germany if they wished it, but they did not.

Again, how does this support your claim that MK is a reliable guide to his intentions? As you say here, he deviated quite markedly from what he said in MK. How does it follow that even though he wanted an alliance with Britain, and attacked them when he didn't get it, that he would not have attacked the Western Hemisphere after he was triumphant in Europe? Why would his intentions towards America not have changed when circumstances changed? Why would any responsible American policymaker have adopted a "wait and see" attitude towards the Nazis?

Pat Buchanan is an idiot, and so is anyone else who thinks the British should have made peace with Germany in 1940. Yes, that was what Hitler wanted. But duuuh, that doesn't mean it would have been good for Britain. Allying with America and losing their empire was "bad" in a narrow sense, but it was the "least worst" outcome.

Guess we can't take Mein Kampf as an infallible roadmap of the 'Dolf's future actions after all
We certainly can't take it as a roadmap of the actions of other countries. Then we would be shocked at his defeat!


So it is the "fault" of other countries that they didn't let Hitler carry out his plan? Shame on them. How does this support your claim about Hitler and America, anyway?

I discussed that in my Lindbergh post. He predicts that the combined forces of Germany and the British Empire will come into conflict with the U.S around 1980. By then he would have probably been dead. Trying to make political predictions (and since he presumably would not be implementing them, they are predictions rather than plans) that far into the future is simply laughable. The USSR never got crushed at any rate, so until then the US would have little reason to fear.

Making extravagant political predictions far into the future is exactly what you are doing when you say America would have little to fear over the long term from a Nazi triumph, and such a prediction is equally laughable.

Let's say we did nothing until the USSR fell, and then suddenly realized we had something to fear. At that point, it would be a little bloody late to do anything, wouldn't it? Is it really your idea of intelligent international politics not to confront an aggressor until he has crushed your most important potential ally, and has vastly increased his own power while you did nothing? (Subsequently I see yes, this is indeed your idea of intelligent international politics. I am unconvinced to say the least.)

The U.S gets really dinky countries to vote their way in the U.N on Israel or to call themselves part of the "coalition of the willing". Doesn't mean it matters, but I suppose it makes some people feel good. And people back then were all sorts of insane.

Let's just say that British recognition of the Confederacy would have been a little more important than what we get "dinky countries" to do today. Was Britain a dinky country then? No, it was the greatest power on Earth, and the only power with the capability to break the Union blockade and send meaningful - even decisive - aid to the South.

Whether or not you agree with the views of people in the 1860s is totally irrelevant. If they thought British recognition of the South mattered - and they did - and acted on that belief - and they did - then it did matter.

If I was the sort of person who cared about respect I might have thought recognition was important!

You don't need to care what others think in order to think recognition mattered. You only need to examine the evidence.

The Union had a draft and a huge population. You haven't even established that their moral fervor for defeating the South was contingent on Britain's recognition (did Southerners give up because Britain didn't recognize them? They kept fighting long after they had a chance of victory).

All that needs to be established is that Union and Confederate leaders thought that British recognition would have significantly diminished Union morale and augmented Confederate morale. This fact can readily be found in any history of international relations during the Civil War. Example: Howard Jones, Union in Peril.

I think morale can help a unit be more effective, but it rarely makes the difference between defeat and victory.

It always is the difference between defeat and victory! War is an act of violence to compel the enemy to do what you want. He won't do what you want until his morale - his belief in himself and his cause - is broken. Shooting people and breaking things is not a goal in itself, it is the means to an end, namely, breaking the enemy's morale. Sometimes defeating the enemy army and occupying his country is enough to break his morale and get him to do what you want, but sometimes it isn't.

Doesn't much this "morale" talk strike you as Whiggish? It's the sort of thing a Dilbertized-office would focus on (along with teamwork, diversity and so on) rather than doing a good job of providing a product or service.

I think it is absurd to focus on how nations fight while ignoring and belittling why nations fight. The US military does an outstanding job of providing a product or service (e.g. killing Vietnamese and Iraqis and Somalis and Afghans), but did this produce victory? No, because in each of those cases our morale was weak and the enemy's was strong.

Sun Tzu is overrated. Perhaps it's because I'm such an extreme Occidentalist (especially when it comes to war) and he was writing about an eastern kind of warfare that seems alien to me.

Read it more carefully. It applies just as much to western warfare as eastern.

Britain, by virtue of its dominant Navy, could veto effective intervention by any other power
Didn't the French navy intervene against the British in the American War of Independence? And here once again you're switching betwee recognition and intervention.


Duuuuh, the balance between the French and British navies in 1861 was not the same as the balance in 1778.

Obviously, one of the reasons recognition matters is that it leads to intervention. European powers were not going to intervene unless and until they recognized the South.

What is their motivation to pile on?

If Britain recognized the South, other nations would follow suit because they would think that southern independence was going to be an established fact, and they would want to have relations with the Confederacy just as they did with other independent nations. Do you find it mysterious that other nations were motivated to recognize Greece after the Brits and French ensured its independence?

Was Israel's recent war in Lebanon "traditional"?

No.

I would also say that the Chinese have attempted to save face by lowering the bar for their goals post-facto after getting their nose bloodied.

Show me where they said, before the conflict, that their goal was the all-out conquest of Vietnam.

Q. Who said "I am convinced that U.S. troops with their energy, mobility, and firepower can successfully take the fight to the NLF [aka Viet Cong]"? A. William Westmoreland.

Q. When did he say that? A. Early 1965, when the NLF was the problem, and there was no significant PAVN presence in South Vietnam. When PAVN units began infiltrating the RVN on a large scale, in response to the introduction of US combat troops, US commanders knew they would do this, and moved to counter them within the limitations imposed by Washington.

If you think Westmoreland thought he was only fighting the NLF from 1965 to 1968, you're simply wrong.

They persisted in searching villages for guerrillas throughout the war.

For the good reason that there were guerrillas in the South throughout the war. Guerrillas were not the only problem - in fact they were a decreasing problem as pacification progressed - but they never entirely went away.

They measured their success through bodycounts, mostly of non-uniformed Vietnamese rather than NVA.

If you read any of the intelligence estimates produced at the time, you can see they understood there was a difference between VC and NVA, and counted them differently. See page 9 of this pdf -- they say that Communist military forces are divided into NVA, local forces, and guerrilla/militia, and they give numbers for each.

They never invaded the North with ground troops to remove the Hanoi government.

Why are you blaming US commanders for this? This was a political decision in Washington.

The "nation" doesn't even exist in a certain sense (ask Thatcher). Most within it are not soldiers and have no involvement with the war, so they do not have "morale" in any meaningful way in the traditional sense. Perhaps they will vote for politicians that do certain things, but then you'd have a problem in Congress which you just dismissed.

The vast majority of the people in ANY country - even Nazi Germany and the USSR - are not soldiers. Nevertheless the public in any nation at war has morale in a meaningful sense, especially in democracies. Even the Nazis and the Soviets paid close attention to national morale during WW2, and they could shoot people who got out of line! If you don't believe the morale of the American people was important in Vietnam and in Iraq - and not just during election time - and that this morale was undermined via the media - and that the enemy understood this and tried to exploit it - then I can't help you.

According to Wikipedia "All movie scripts had to be pre-approved, but there was no direct censorship of radio, newspapers or magazines".

The Office of Censorship was an emergency wartime agency set up on December 19, 1941 to aid in the censorship of all communications coming into and going out of the United States. "The Director of Censorship shall cause to be censored, in his absolute discretion, communications by mail, cable, radio, or other means of transmission passing between the United States and any foreign country or which may be carried by any vessel or other means of transportation touching at any port, place, or Territory of the United States and bound to or from any foreign country, in accordance with such rules and regulations as the President shall from time to time prescribe." Yes, it was voluntary - "the Government has called upon a patriotic press and radio to abstain voluntarily from the dissemination of detailed information of certain kinds, such as reports of the movements of vessels and troops" - but it was censorship and it worked. Doubt the government could count on such patriotic restraint these days.

Albert Jay Nock, John T. Flynn and Harry Elmer Barnes were all criticizing our involvement, but none of them were ever arrested.

So you think the fact that we did not shoot or imprison every single critic of the war means that the government did not care about national morale and sustaining the will to fight?

I think we bungled around aimlessly in Vietnam (as mentioned, we never toppled Hanoi) supporting a completely dysfunctional government that couldn't save itself and that's why we lost. We still had the government feeding us nonsense which was accepted for a pretty long time.

We didn't need to invade North Vietnam to win. We weren't bungling aimlessly, either. But I'm not going to try and talk you out of this view.

So if the government wants to make a public announcement, can the media prevent people from hearing it? If soldiers are reporting to their families back home one thing, can the media convince them otherwise?

The media can - and does - cause the people to believe that government pronouncements are lies or irrelevant, or buries the "good news" in a pile of trivia, or ignores government pronouncements so people forget about them. The answer to the second question is YES, and it's happening right now!

A successful, non-treacherous general can win a hundred battles, but if the press ignores them, or misreports them as defeats, those victories simply don't matter
That's mighty damn solipsistic. No matter how you report something like Yorktown or the Fall of Saigon, the military facts on the ground determine the situation. There are such things as decisive battles, but as mentioned before we appear to have extremely different conceptions of the concept.


Yes, there are "decisive" battles, but your list of them and mine would certainly disagree, and we would no doubt also disagree about WHY the battle was decisive. In point of fact, a lot of battles were not decisive because of the military damage inflicted (men killed, etc.) but because of the damage the defeat inflicted on the loser's morale. Yorktown is a fine example of this! The British force that surrendered at Yorktown was a small fraction of the British Army in North America, and an even smaller fraction of the total British Army, and an even smaller fraction of the army the British nation was capable of raising. The actual "military facts on the ground" - the overall balance of forces - did not change appreciably as a result of Yorktown. The Brits could have reinforced and fought on, but what changed was the morale of the British leadership - its will to fight - and the balance of power in the British cabinet.

I asked for one example. You didn't give it.

It is left as an exercise for the student.

The article discusses an assassination program CARRIED OUT BY THE CIA. So the CIA may hamper ITSELF (and occasionally the Justice Department may hamper the CIA, which if you hate the CIA may be good), but that is a different thing from hampering the military.

So what? When the military uses Predators to put a hit on someone, the process is the same: "The view of Air Force officials is that Franks frequently was swayed by the excessive doubts of his subordinate intelligence officers and his legal adviser, Air Force officials said. The Central Command's top lawyer -- in military parlance, the judge advocate general, or JAG -- repeatedly refused to permit strikes even when the targets were unambiguously military in nature, an Air Force officer said."

Not to mention that in a war like the ones were in, the distincion you are trying to make is meaningless. Hampering the CIA hampers the military. Hampering the military hampers the CIA. If they don't cooperate closely, we will miss important targets and the overall effort suffers.

So not the entrenched civil service, the State Department, the Justice Department or the CIA but the military?

You assumed that the problem was Congress. I told you the problem was the Executive Branch, including not just State but also the CIA and the military, and provided examples. Not much more to be said.

Even looking over the page it says the primary goal is to prevent fratricide.

No it doesn't! Did you really read it? Section 9-1 says the purpose of the lawyers is to ensure all targeting and weaponeering is "proper (complies with protected targets (Law Of Armed Conflict), Rules Of Engagement, and limited target (no strike) list)", to avoid violations of the ROE and LOAC, and to report LOAC violations. Basically that means the military is tying itself in knots to comply with international law as the JAG understands it. One of the goals of the ROE is to prevent fratricide, it is true, but I can assure you that the other major purpose of the ROE is to stop our guys from dropping bombs on stuff that might make us "look bad" (mosques, whatever) regardless of how much this hampers the military effort. All this is about as far as the LeMay school of warfare as one could possibly imagine.

Look, bottom line is that MM said "the modern US military has by far the highest lawyer-to-soldier ratio in any military force in history. It requests legal opinions as a routine aspect of even minor attacks." He is clearly right, and this and countless other examples support him. It is pointless for you to quibble.

It sounds to me like the commander has the right to act and in such a situation a judge advocate could not prevent them from doing so.

Read that Washington Post article I cited. In practice it doesn't work out that way. Commanders would rather not shoot anyone than defy the lawyer and get in the poo.

We were at war with a nation-state back in LeMay's day.

Hey, I thought you said "the "nation" doesn't even exist"! But so what? We fought guerrillas under the "classical" rules and won many times ("As they are not controlled in their undertakings by the laws of war, they are not entitled to their protection. If captured, they are treated with great severity, the punishment in any case being proportioned to the offence committed."). We have fought them under the new rules many times, and lost. It's almost like the new rules are designed so that we can't possibly win...

The strategic bombing of World War 2 is a pretty good example of the idiotic focus on "morale", as neither British nor German civilians were cowed enough to reduce production.

The fact that we were unable to destroy enemy morale with bombing in WW2 does not prove that national morale does not exist or is unbreakable or cannot be attacked effectively.

You brought up Vietnam as a contrast, when we actually dropped more bombs than in WW2. The difference was that we never seized Hanoi.

The idea that invading North Vietnam would solve the problem and end the war is ridiculous. The French had ALL OF INDOCHINA from 1945 to 1954, and they still lost. Invading the North wouldn't even eliminate their production centers, since those were in China and the USSR, not North Vietnam.

Do they discuss torture?

Dunno, don't care enough to look.

You like to make assumptions about what I think.

Just going by what you say!

Most cities were bypassed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, with the goal being to make rapid progress and avoid getting bogged down, though they were certainly happy to quickly destroy any enemy units along the way. A sensible plan if the goal was remove the threat posed by the regime.

How is this relevant to the methods used? OIF is still an example of the insane over-lawyered approach that MM described.

The Second Battle of Fallujah had plenty of pancaking, but that was after the fall of Baghdad. It wasn't on the scale of Dresden, but most German cities didn't get the Dresden treatment either.

There is simply no comparison between the approaches in Iraq in 2003- and in Germany 1941-45. None. Most German cities were bombed without regard for civilian casualties or collateral damage (which indeed was considered a plus as far as the RAF was concerned). No Irai city was bombed without extreme concern for civilian casualties and collateral damage.

Did bombing cause Germans to cease fighting? Not before their occupation by ground forces.

Bombing enabled the ground forces to occupy Germany more quickly. And so what, anyway? I didn't claim bombing by itself caused Germany to cease fighting.

The fact that the same has not occurred in Iraq should be an indicator that it's a different sort of war.

You have to wonder if the Iraqis would have ceased fighting if we'd fought them under the WW2 rules!

We can only conclude then that the U.S military is "insanely aggressive" against itself.

Or that there might be a faction in the US government that doesn't want us to win. Gee, who could that be?

Do you howl with outrage when a supermarket takes your money in exchange for stuff you want? Or would you be upset if it shut down? Do you demand that the supermarket purchase your services if you are going to purchase from it?

I don't contend, as you do, that I'm getting the "wealth" while the supermarket is getting "worthless bits of paper". I realize they are getting wealth that I give them in order to consume things. If it shut down I would shop elsewhere. I would not shop there if it openly stated that it was prepared to attack my house under certain circumstances, and was acquiring the ability to do so. I would deal with the supermarket on the basis of exact reciprocity - the same rules apply to me when I sell to them as when they sell to me, rather than they can produce and sell to me under a more favorable set of rules than when I produce and sell to them.

Such goods do not produce anything, and do not constitute wealth in any real sense
Every economist I've ever heard of would say they do.


Cite an economist who says consumer goods are "wealth" (investment) and not consumption.

To the degree that it is worthless we would not have to pay for it.

You still don't understand the difference between investment and consumption. Go look it up.

The money we would have spent on those higher priced items is available for other things.

The "other things" we buy with the extra money are ALSO CONSUMPTION! Not investment! If you have more money to spend on worthless crap, you end up with more worthless crap, not more wealth.

See We Don't Make Anything Anymore. I guess that economist slept through Econ 101!

He did. He's an idiot.

So instead local or regional power, which would mean not aimed at us?

Of course it's aimed at us. Who is the hegemonic power in the Western Pacific? Us!

It is not "we" collectively that are pouring wealth into there. It is individuals giving money in return for things they want. The Chinese pour their wealth into here. Current-Account Deficit = Capital Account Surplus.

The Chinese are not pouring wealth into us, they are investing it in greater productive capacity in China.

What makes you say "specifically against us"? If it is aiming for local or regional power, wouldn't it be against its neighbors? Provide some evidence that they are in fact aimed specifically against us.

Who are its neighbors? Japan and Taiwan and South Korea, all of whom have defense alliances with us. They cannot achieve regional power without defeating us. I have already provided the evidence, you just didn't read it.

I wasn't aware they had done that. If they had actually nuked Los Angeles, I think I would have been aware of that. They haven't actually attacked, so I don't care.

A more absurdly short-sighted approach to defense policy cannot be imagined, but then, I expect no less from the guy who would let Hitler eat every other country before he did anything against Hitler.

I never thought to encounter someone who will affirm that he who prepares to invest a city is still at peace until the walls be actually assaulted!

Yes, there were some shots fired across the Mongolian border, but before Nixon it wasn't to the same degree.

The Sino-Soviet split was much more than the border clashes in 1969. It began in the late 1950s.

That's why their Karachi nuclear power plant was created mostly with materials from western nations.

China provided critical aid to the Paki "civil" nuclear program and their nuclear weapons program and their ballistic missile programs (both directly and via North Korea).

Oh, we get attacked by Saudis and Egyptians and it's just BIZARRE that I focus on them? Imagine if I walked up to you and kicked you in the nads. As you pound my face against the pavement I exclaim in short bursts "It's just bizarre of you to focus on me for kicking you in the balls when there are many other people who could potentially do so!"

Meanwhile as we are scuffling, some guy across the street is loading his machine gun so he can shoot me. If I fend you off, are my problems solved?

Other countries and their problems tend to stay far away.

Didn't you just say we got kicked in the nuts? You have to get pretty close to someone to kick them in the nuts.

It is simply preposterous to contend that we should ignore foreign problems until they're not far away.

Germany in fact did not attack Britain until Britain attacked Germany (as mentioned above) so ignoring them would have been sensible. If Britain had responded to the Boers by having photo-ops in South Africa while mounting an invasion of Germany, I would certainly find that bizarre.

Germany spent 14 years building battleships that could have no other purpose than combat with the Royal Navy, and according to you the "sensible" British response to this German action would have been to ignore it, because Germany had not actually attacked them yet. Man, it is really, really hard to find polite words to describe what I think of this, so I will just say I find your idea here the very opposite of "sensible".

I never claimed anything like that. I don't see how any close reading of what I wrote would take away that message.

You said, in response to the observation that Japan has had a massively favorable balance of trade, that "Anyone can be a dirt-poor autarky and have a current account surplus." Either you spoke in reference to Japan, in which case your remark was wrong, or you spoke in reference to some other country, in which case your remark was irrelevant.

We've known since Ricardo that comparative advantage means trade makes you richer.

The assumptions under which this theory is valid do not hold true for trade with Japan and China. Even Ricardo recognized that the principle of comparative advantage does not hold if all factors of production are internationally mobile.

Oh, the post-autistics. A bunch of French progressive types that don't like economics because they think it's cold and uncaring. Your link even refers to Japan as the "second richest nation", so saying "We should be so poor" would then translate to "We should be poorer than we are now".

What a feeble rebuttal. When you can't attack the facts, attack the French. Do you have a substantive response to the argument that Japan’s net exports for the decade of the 1990s, when she was supposedly in decline, were 240% of those in the decade of the 1980s, when everyone admits she was booming; that the standard of living in Japan rose significantly during the supposedly stagnant 1990s; that Japan's foreign assets nearly quadrupled in the 11 years to 2000; that a declining Japanese economy would imply a declining yen, but the reverse has been the case; that Japan is the world’s largest exporter of capital? If not, where's the "lost decade"?

What makes one a Tory rather than Whig?

I already defined this for you. The Whigs during the Cold War favored detente (cooperation / concessions to the USSR). The Tories advocated containment of the USSR, or "firm and consistent force" to force the Soviets to acknowledge American authority.

Did I say absolute? Cabinet members implement policy, and when they displease the President they are dismissed. They are chosen after elections are already done with so the political demands (which are pretty much the totality for choosing a Vice President) are much less significant.

No. Cabinet members are the payoff for the support of factions without which it is impossible to become President. The President knows he will need the support of these factions while in office, and to get reelected, so he's not going to cross them just because the election is over (and if he did, his nominee would never get confirmed). Cabinet members are not chosen "freely" but from among members of the faction that needs paying off.

I don't recall you defining it.

You weren't paying attention! I did so in this post: May 15, 2008 9:06 AM.

Clinton became President after the collapse of communism. It wasn't really an issue any more.

Of course it was! (I love people who say "communism has collapsed" when there are over a billion ChiComs, by the way.) Clinton's political allegiance was defined before the USSR collapsed, and the Whig policy towards the USSR was pursued after 1991 towards Russia, and then also towards China. A staunch anti-communist would never have been chosen to pursue the policies we have towards Russia and China from 1992 to now.

That's why I don't accept him as an arch-Tory. He was also possibly the most important politician behind Civil Rights. Even in Vietnam he was trying to Whiggify the country.

You seem to be equating Tory with "traditional social conservative". They're not the same.

The term "coalition government" is usually used when multiple parties in a parliament must combine to form a majority. This makes the term meaningful because then when one party has the majority it is not a coalition government. We generally try to avoid unfalsifiable statements.

If you believe "Republican" and "Democrat" are the only factions in American politics, then we have not had any "coalition" governments. But I think that premise is obviously untrue.

Did we ever invade Eastern Europe?

No, and that's the point. "Rollback" in the 1940s/50s was always rhetorical. The approach to containment of Truman and Reagan was, in practical terms, precisely the same. The major difference was that under Reagan, China was included as an anti-Soviet ally in the containment structure.

The term "rollback" doesn't have a geographic qualifier.

It does if you are comparing what they were talking about in the late 40s and what they were talking about in the 1980s.

I think [Grenada] was an instance of rollback.

Grenada was not East Germany, or Hungary, or Czechoslovakia, which is what "rollback" meant in the 1940s/50s.

That sounds like World War 3, or nuclear war. Reagan was anti-nuke from way back, I don't think he wanted that.

Yes, that is exactly why Reagan did not try 1950s-style rollback - and neither did the 1950s Republicans, when push came to shove.

The Soviets were kicked out of Afghanistan. The Contras eventually took power in Nicaragua.

Pardon me for not being impressed with "rollback" in Nicaragua, since it left the Communists in charge of the army and most of the private property and businesses that had been confiscated and nationalized under their rule, and ultimately (in 2006) the Communists returned to power. Pardon me for not being impressed with "rollback" in Afghanistan, since it only paved the way for a proxy war between the Russians and the Chinese, and Soviet-era generals are still in charge of the Afghan military. Talk about a kabuki play...

The Venona transcripts revealed there were Soviet agents very high up in the government at that time.

This is to confuse cause and effect. We did not pursue a pro-Soviet policy because there were Soviet agents in the government; there were Soviet agents in the government because we were pursuing a pro-Soviet policy.

Then go back and read what I wrote and what I was responding to. The idea of "containing" the USSR by supporting existing anti-communist regimes was introduced under Truman, which is why it is known as the "Truman doctrine". Many on the right explicitly disagreed with that doctrine and instead advocated "rollback". Supporting anti-communist guerrillas against an existing communist regime is an example of rollback (changing the status quo) rather than containment (maintaining the status quo).

If one accepts this, then the de facto policy of Truman and Eisenhower was containment.

I though Bush Sr said it ushered in a New World Order.

Gotta pay attention to what he meant by the NWO. It was detente in a new guise. The US and Russia cooperate to ensure geopolitical stability, yaaay!

I thought we were partners with China well before the USSR collapsed (due to the aforementioned Sino-Soviet split).

The nature of the partnership was fundamentally different in both intent and implementation.

Who have they overthrown and installed?

They're not ready to move yet. I know, I know, we should "sensibly ignore" them until they actually attack us.

Dude, there WAS no attrition
(Resisting the urge to take you literally) Because it was not indecisive!


How can there be a decisive victory if you don't even kill the enemy? I thought you were the one who insisted on real, tangible action?

What kind of victory are we talking about?

I'm asking you! You said the Kosovo war was decisive because we won. Since the war did not achieve the political goals we stated before the war began, and those goals were based on a false premise anyway, I'm not sure what "victory" means here.

All those battles we won in Vietnam were not decisive, because they did not make the decision. A defeat may also be decisive (in any decisive battle there should be both a loser and winner). That which causes victory is decisive.

Great, something is decisive if it decides something. But this leaves open the definition of victory and defeat.

A stalemate is indesivie. Trench-war and guerrilla war are among the most indecisive forms of war, because they can go on and on with lots of casualties without much changing strategically.

World War One decided a lot of things. Guerrilla warfare has decided the outcome of many, many wars since 1945! Look at Africa and Southeast Asia in 1945 and again in 1975 and tell me again that "not much changed strategically". In contrast, "traditional" state-on-state wars have decided practically nothing since 1945, the major exception being Israel's victory in 1948.

I don't see how you can describe a war as decisive when the military action was neither necessary nor sufficient to achieve the desired political outcome
We ended the Ba'athist regime. That's decisive.


In point of fact my reference here was to Operation Allied Force. But on the subject of OIF, it is hardly convincing to take the Bush administration apologist approach and define the goal of the war so narrowly that you can wring some sort of "decisive victory" out of the result. Yeah, it has been decided that Saddam will not rule Iraq. Hooray, hooray, that was worth a gazillion dollars and thousands of lives. But one can cite a number of other goals that were not achieved. In a macro sense, the goal was to transform Iraq into an American client state. That objective remains undecided.

We don't seek military results for their own sake. If possible you avoid the enemy. You attack him because he obstructs your goal. The innovation of the German storm-troopers in WW1 was to use infiltration tactics and penetrate the line avoiding strong-points. It was no failing of the Germans in the next war that they avoided the Maginot Line.

And how is this relevant to the bombing of Kosovo?

What about Bush Senior?

I don't see how you can claim Desert Storm was a decisive victory. If it had been, we wouldn't have spent 12 years trying to contain Saddam and then invading him when we decided it was impossible. Yeah, it decided he wouldn't control Kuwait, but it didn't solve the larger cause of the problem.

In order to be deemed decisive, in my view, a war to "stop all military action" should stop it sooner than 78 days
I would consider decisive to be a relative term. In the days of old-timey ships that moved quite slowly I would consider an action decisive that took longer than one I considered indecisive in a more fast-paced war.


Well, we weren't fighting with old-time sailing ships, we were fighting with supersonic aircraft.

I note that above you say guerrilla wars are not decisive because they take a long time, yet here you say a war can be decisive even if it unfolds slowly. Make up your mind!

a war to "end violence and repression"
If you're engaged in that I can hardly believe you're aiming for decisiveness. As they say, fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.


That creates an obvious problem for your claim that Operation Allied Force was decisive, since "to end violence and repression" was one of the explicitly stated political goals of the operation.

end it quickly and finally instead of replacing Serb violence with continuing Albanian violence
That is pretty damn decisive if your goal is to assist the Albanians against the Serbs.


That was not the stated goal, and I don't think for a minute that was a "secret goal" of the Clinton administration.

I mean, cut off all aid to insurgents, and there are no civil wars
That sounds silly to me. Most civil wars are along ethnic/religious lines and as long as there are countries divided along those lines I would expect civil wars. Nobody else seems to give a damn about the Tamils in Sri Lanka, but they're still the most active suicide-bombers. Civil wars existed before there were countries with foreign policies of supporting insurgencies and they will continue to exist if it stops.


External support clearly plays a major role in the duration and outcome of civil wars. They last longer, and the rebels are more likely to win, if they have external support. When they don't, government forces can wipe them up much more quickly. Even the Tamils have external support.

May 21, 2008 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

"Obviously, one of the reasons recognition matters is that it leads to intervention. European powers were not going to intervene unless and until they recognized the South."

Obviously, by intervene you mean "send troops" and not "provide material support" which is generally viewed as an act of war.

Non-Recognition prevented Britain from sending troops, not from giving aid.

May 21, 2008 at 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

I wouldn't imagine you could show me one.

I couldn't think of one, either, but wasn't willing to exclude the possibility.

I fear you may be thinking of the wrong sort of morality here. While there are a few Union soldiers who fought for slavery, the vast majority of Union and Confederate soldiers who fought did so to either (Union) preserve the Union or (Confederate) defend their state. Read the journals. There are thousands to choose from.

I most definitely was not thinking of slavery! I was thinking of what you cite here - to preserve the Union or to defend the Confederacy - both of which were regarded as moral causes.

Hardly. The reason the Confederacy wanted official British recognition (the Brits were throwing money at the CSA) was for 1) more money 2) a negotiating table and (most importantly) 3) more supplies and ammunition.

Those were the tangible reasons, to be sure, but don't discount the intangible.

Obviously, by intervene you mean "send troops" and not "provide material support" which is generally viewed as an act of war.

Yes.

May 21, 2008 at 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Just be glad we don't operate under the German Rules of Engagement. They're not even allowed to kill bad guys: "A top Taliban commander linked to the deaths of British soldiers has escaped German special forces because they were not allowed to kill him under their rules of engagement."

And these are the supposedly elite German special forces! Heaven forbid they should actually kill anyone!

It's actually really droll to read what today's historians think of the "classical" rules for counter-insurgency. This person, for example, thinks that General Sherman was a war criminal comparable to Eichmann. He believed in shooting the enemy, you see, until they got tired of fighting. I have yet to see a historian compare the notably effective counter-guerrilla techniques of the past to the notably ineffective ones of today...

May 21, 2008 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

What circumspection?
What circumsPEction indeed. I made circumscription a link.

Oh, so we see that Hitler can change his mind when things don't work out the way he originally intended.
What was it that happened that changed his mind? Britain declared war on him. They sent troops against him in France. They bombed Germany. He responded by bombing them but lost the Battle of Britain, and then shifted his attention to Russia. It would be odd indeed if he ignored their declaration of war and bombing of his country. The British refused any attempt to make peace because they didn't want it in the first place.

What happens when Hitler is victorious in Europe
Do we know Hitler would have been victorious in Europe? I think Stalin would have been a match for him without the US or even UK. The smartest thing to do though would have been to let the two exhaust each other, and then if you were really worried finish off the biggest threat. The Soviet's made a neutrality pact with the Japanese, then intervened against them when they were weak. They were in more danger from Japan than we were from Germany (they were defeated in the Russo-Japanese war but Zhukov had just defeated a Japanese army force).

Gee, you think he might change his mind about not having any aggressive intentions towards the Western Hemisphere, then, too?
As long as there was easier pickings in the Eastern Hemisphere, no.

Was it smarter to keep him in check before he had that option, or should we have let him run wild in Eurasia and then say, oh gee, guess we better do something about Hitler now?
As mentioned, I think later would have been better. It would have given Stalin a tougher time and permitted the U.S to build up its forces in the mean time.

"Not letting a single power dominate Eurasia" is Geopolitics 101.
We went over that before. I don't see why the U.S would have a problem with something like the Roman Empire (China and Persia often got along with it just fine).

One might note that he says an alliance with Russia would be senseless and unthinkable, while an alliance with Britain would be highly desirable. Yet he did form an alliance with Russia,
Imagine its back then and I've predicted that Hitler must attack Stalin because he wrote so in MK. You then point to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and say "Ha!". I plug my ears and go "Lalalala, I can't hear you!". As silly as that sounds, that position was vindicated. Stalin had cooperated and believed everything Hitler told him. There wasn't any comparable power to challenge him in Europe. He was still at war with Britain, but called off bombing operations. What does he do? Open a second front and pour most of his efforts there!

and wound up attacking Britain
Not declaring war on Germany and bombing them would be a pretty simple way for both the UK and US to avoid that. Switzerland and Sweden stayed neutral, so they didn't get attacked. Norway did, because the Allies were going to use it to stage attacks. If either the UK or US could avoid being used as a base of attacks, that would also help avoid war.

OK, so how does this support your claim that MK is a reliable guide to his intentions?
According to the intentionalists (the opponents of the functionalists) MK does indicate he was going to massacre them. There was enough in there to let Jews know they should flee. The most important part though is that Jews lived in Germany and its neighbors. The U.S was a long way off.

Would his goals with respect to the USA not have changed over time?
I don't what what his goals with regard to the U.S would have been if the war had been more of a Germany vs Russia conflict. I know I'd need some clear threat from Germany to make war seem like a good idea. There's no other country in the world we can be sure won't ever attack us at some point in time (though some are much less likely to than others). To have such a loose standard of evidence would have us invade all of them.

How does it follow that even though he wanted an alliance with Britain, and attacked them when he didn't get it
He attacked England because they attacked him! I explained it in the previous post, it's not a difficult thing to understand.

Pat Buchanan is an idiot, and so is anyone else who thinks the British should have made peace with Germany in 1940.
Do you have much reason to believe that Germany would have attacked Britain had the latter not declared war on it and bombed it? Was Britain and the U.S idiotic for not attacking Stalin?


So it is the "fault" of other countries that they didn't let Hitler carry out his plan? Shame on them.
When you attack another country, you should not be surprised that they will attack you back. Stalin invaded Germany because Germany attacked Russia. Not surprising. Hitler had good reason to believe Britain would declare war on him as they had promised to do so if he invaded Poland. Perhaps he thought he could make a deal later, which may not have been idiotic but still turned out to be wrong.

How does this support your claim about Hitler and America, anyway?
I'm retroactively advocating the position of not entering the war and instead staying neutral. There is good reason to believe Hitler would have been content with a neutral Britain, and even though they did declare war on him and attack him it appeared he was content to ignore them after he lost the Battle of Britain. If you want to argue against my counter-factual you should give reasons to believe Hitler would have attacked GIVEN neutrality. As there wasn't neutrality, it is silly to use Hitler's attack on Britain to argue against it.

Making extravagant political predictions far into the future is exactly what you are doing when you say America would have little to fear over the long term from a Nazi triumph, and such a prediction is equally laughable.
You are predicting that over that long period of time Hitler would have attacked. As we appear to agree, such a prediction cannot be made with any confidence over that time interval. We do not act on meteorological projections over a year from now. We wait until later when we have better information and can have more confidence in our predictions before we decide to cancel and outdoor event in case of rain and reschedule it for better weather. Similarly I think the smartest thing to do would have been to wait. Not declaring war at point A does not preclude war later on, but declaring war at A may preclude neutrality at point B. The hidden cost of limited options is discussed with regard to health care here.

Is it really your idea of intelligent international politics not to confront an aggressor until he has crushed your most important potential ally, and has vastly increased his own power while you did nothing?
Why is Stalin the potential ally rather than Hitler? My policy is not to attack a country unless I have good reason to believe it is necessary. Stalin actually did have that. Not only did Mein Kampf say so, but his agents kept telling him it was going to happen (he ignored them) and the Germans were massing troops near the border. I'm fine with Israel's pre-emptive Six Day War, because they had reason to believe they were about to be attacked. The pre-emptive Iraq war is a completely different case because Iraq did not represent that kind of threat at all (being located very far away has a lot to do with that).

Was Britain a dinky country then? No, it was the greatest power on Earth, and the only power with the capability to break the Union blockade and send meaningful - even decisive - aid to the South.
I don't doubt Britain could have interfered with the blockade. I think that would have had real effects. Recognition can't break a blockade, but ships can.

You only need to examine the evidence.
What is the evidence that recognition as opposed to physical intervention mattered to a significant degree? If the evidence is that people cared about it, then I DO need to care what others think if I consider that good evidence.

It always is the difference between defeat and victory!
All the morale in the world can't stand up to machine-guns, as was shown in WW1. Nukes are even worse.

The US military does an outstanding job of providing a product or service (e.g. killing Vietnamese and Iraqis and Somalis and Afghans), but did this produce victory?
The U.S could do an outstanding job of building trenches in Iraq, but it wouldn't necessarily be much of a decisive product or service. I bet they could blow up rocks real good too, and it wouldn't accomplish much. All the morale increases in the world wouldn't make those result in victory.

Obviously, one of the reasons recognition matters is that it leads to intervention. European powers were not going to intervene unless and until they recognized the South.
That doesn't establish that they weren't going to recognize unless they intervened.

Do you find it mysterious that other nations were motivated to recognize Greece after the Brits and French ensured its independence?
I interpreted "pile on" to mean intervention rather than recognition. I'm interested in their motive to intervene.

Show me where they said, before the conflict, that their goal was the all-out conquest of Vietnam.
I'm not even confident that was their goal. I don't think it was their goal to briefly go in, get smacked and then go back out. Their stated motivation was Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia (they had deposed the China-aligned Khmer Rouge). The invasion didn't change that at all.

When did he say that? A. Early 1965, when the NLF was the problem
Do you think they could have taken over the country? In my view it was always the NVA that posed that threat.

If you think Westmoreland thought he was only fighting the NLF from 1965 to 1968, you're simply wrong.
He didn't. He thought he was fighting the NLF and the PAVN. I think that the former distracted him from the latter. If they were serious about defeating the NVA they shouldn't have let it keep its base of operations in North Vietnam and toppled the Hanoi government. MacArthur penetrated into North Korea rather than sticking in the South. It worked until the Chinese came in, and even then the end result was better than in Vietnam.

For the good reason that there were guerrillas in the South throughout the war. Guerrillas were not the only problem - in fact they were a decreasing problem as pacification progressed - but they never entirely went away.
They didn't represent an existential threat, while the NVA did. Even though the NLF never recovered from Tet we still had the highest casualty rates after it, and those were all a waste.

If you read any of the intelligence estimates produced at the time, you can see they understood there was a difference between VC and NVA, and counted them differently
I'm not denying that. I'm saying they focused too little on NVA (and even then a focus on the bodycount means you are going for attrition, a bad strategy for us).

Why are you blaming US commanders for this? This was a political decision in Washington.
Who says I am not blaming Washington? Those "ultra-Tories" LBJ and Nixon were chasing their tails.

If you don't believe the morale of the American people was important in Vietnam and in Iraq - and not just during election time - and that this morale was undermined via the media - and that the enemy understood this and tried to exploit it - then I can't help you.
Explain to me the mechanism by which low morale on the homefront led to defeat in Vietnam BEYOND their voting power.

The Office of Censorship was an emergency wartime agency set up on December 19, 1941 to aid in the censorship of all communications coming into and going out of the United States.
Into and out of, not within. I would consider the latter necessary for control of the media.

detailed information of certain kinds, such as reports of the movements of vessels and troops
That's what I was getting at with "reveal classified information". Loose lips sink ships and all that.

So you think the fact that we did not shoot or imprison every single critic of the war means that the government did not care about national morale and sustaining the will to fight?
Oh, I'm sure they cared as if it would cause a Care Bear Stare. The fact that they allowed critics to publish means they did not have control of the media.

We didn't need to invade North Vietnam to win
What did we need to do?

We weren't bungling aimlessly, either
Were we ensuring that the NVA would not be able to invade and take over the South after we left?

The media can - and does - cause the people to believe that government pronouncements are lies or irrelevant
That sounds different from controlling what information people have access to. The government could convice people what the media is lying or irrelevant. One media outlet can't even prevent another outlet (say, Fox News or talk radio) from taking the niche position in support of the government.

The answer to the second question is YES, and it's happening right now!
Have you heard of any families that think their relative in Iraq is lying to them because the media convinced them it was the case?

Yes, there are "decisive" battles, but your list of them and mine would certainly disagree
My list from one day to the next would disagree. What is necessary is that we agree some battles are decisive themselves rather than merely through the media.

In point of fact, a lot of battles were not decisive because of the military damage inflicted (men killed, etc.)
Certainly. If you kill not a single man, but get them all to surrender and go back home perhaps to fight another day, that can still be a decisive battle.

The actual "military facts on the ground" - the overall balance of forces - did not change appreciably as a result of Yorktown.
The two are not synonyms. When the patriots placed cannons on Dorchester Heights and caused the British to retreat from Boston, that did not change the overall balance of forces but it did change the "facts on the ground". The British strategy in New England fizzled and they moved on to the MidAtlantic as a more opportune theater. That theater was not as decisive (Saratoga was a decisive battle, but still left a major force in New York), but King George still thought the idea of recovering Pennsylvania was a "joke". Perhaps you can argue he was really a Whig or brainwashed by the media. Media spin could not have given the British control of New England or Pennsylvania.

It is left as an exercise for the student.
There is an absolute, airtight logical proof that I'm right about everything I choose to discuss, even if I say contradictory things. I'm not going to provide it. It is left as an exercise for you. If you can't do it, there's the proof that you're an imbecile. No how stupid does that sound? If you have a dispute with someone, provide support for your arguments.

So what?
So, MM has been talking about a Civil War between State (with the CIA) and DoD. If the CIA is not actually restricting the military, then I don't see how they can be said to be at war. If they are firing missiles without telling the military (and not just JAG officers, but Franks himself who seems complicit as he is persuaded rather than blocked by his advisors), you'd have to argue that the result is worse than the CIA firing no missiles for that to constitute hampering. If it is military officers hampering the military, the civil war would then be internal to the military. The article you linked to points to disagreements with U.S Central Command (along with Rumsfeld and other bigwigs in the Pentagon) as a major problem, and I doubt anyone would consider it a stronghold of Blue Government. It also blames Bush himself for insisting on low collateral damage. I am quite happy to blame Bush, and I think if he abdicated in favor of Genghis Khan (hey, Gerald Ford wasn't elected either!) we'd be more succesful. But that's not the argument I've been having with MM. He views Bush and the military as Red Government who are being sabotaged by Blue Government. I think they sabotage themselves.

Not to mention that in a war like the ones were in, the distincion you are trying to make is meaningless. Hampering the CIA hampers the military. Hampering the military hampers the CIA.
My point of view is much closer to yours but MM insists on viewing it as a civil war between agencies rather than within them (and I would even say characterizing it as the latter is overdramatizing).

If they don't cooperate closely, we will miss important targets and the overall effort suffers.
Agreed. The CIA does engage in cooperation with the military, so I view them as assisting. They are not cooperating to the degree that they could, and hence not as big a help as they might otherwise be. That's quite another thing from hampering.

You assumed that the problem was Congress. I told you the problem was the Executive Branch, including not just State but also the CIA and the military, and provided examples.
Okay, I think that is a much more credible argument than MM's. It just doesn't fit with the Tory/Whig civil war conception.

No it doesn't!
"It" is the rules of engagement. I should have been clearer.

One of the goals of the ROE is to prevent fratricide, it is true
It says primary goal.

Read that Washington Post article I cited. In practice it doesn't work out that way.
"Such a situation" is one of self-defense, which I don't recall being specifically discussed in that article. And even there they were blaming Franks, Rumsfeld and (to a lesser degree since he's more detached) Bush. The example JAG officer is said to play Devil's Advocate and ask "Are you sure?". It did not sound to me like she had or was using the power to compel Franks.

Hey, I thought you said "the "nation" doesn't even exist"!
It doesn't, but the State does. A nation-state is a kind of State.

We fought guerrillas under the "classical" rules and won many times
Do you mean following the Spanish-American war? Or are you using an expansive definition of "we"?

We have fought them under the new rules many times, and lost.
Do you mean starting in 1949? It was mighty prescient of the Whigs back then to predict it would be Tories fighting all the wars in the future!

The fact that we were unable to destroy enemy morale with bombing in WW2 does not prove that national morale does not exist or is unbreakable or cannot be attacked effectively.
Glad we can agree on at least something. How is morale effectively attacked?

The idea that invading North Vietnam would solve the problem and end the war is ridiculous
I don't think it would have necessarily ended the war. It would have smashed the threat to South Vietnam. The Gulf War stopped the threat to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, even if we left him in power. There's still fighting going on in Iraq now, but it isn't a threat to those countries.

Just going by what you say!
Well your assumption was incorrect. As Karl Popper noted, "it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood".

How is this relevant to the methods used? OIF is still an example of the insane over-lawyered approach that MM described.
You view that aspect of OIF as being the result of lawyers, I see it as part of a desire to very quickly capture Baghdad. It is also sort of in accord with the Powell doctrine of using overwhelming force or nothing at all.

Bombing enabled the ground forces to occupy Germany more quickly
Not bothering with most Iraqi cities in OIF enabled them to occupy Baghdad quickly.

I didn't claim bombing by itself caused Germany to cease fighting.
What do you claim caused it to cease fighting? I say it was the Russians reversing their offensive and seizing Berlin.

You have to wonder if the Iraqis would have ceased fighting if we'd fought them under the WW2 rules!
I am not sure. Stories of "werewolves" to the contrary, it was thoroughly conventional.

Or that there might be a faction in the US government that doesn't want us to win. Gee, who could that be?
So, do you agree with me that giving arms to the "Awakening" is a bad idea rather than a great victory we forced out of them through the Surge? If so, then we are on the same side against MM.

I don't contend, as you do, that I'm getting the "wealth" while the supermarket is getting "worthless bits of paper"
I assert you are getting wealth from the supermarket, and the paper is not worthless but steadily decreasing in value.

I would not shop there if it openly stated that it was prepared to attack my house under certain circumstances, and was acquiring the ability to do so
Don't shop at Target, they have their own detective agency. Also avoid convenience stores, a lot of them carry guns. Most people shop there without having any problem, just as our dealings with China don't result in violence. But don't pretend they'd bend over and take it under any circumstances.

would deal with the supermarket on the basis of exact reciprocity - the same rules apply to me when I sell to them as when they sell to me, rather than they can produce and sell to me under a more favorable set of rules than when I produce and sell to them
I've never come across a supermarket that I could sell anything to. It's a one-way street: they take your money and give you merchandise, not the other way around.

Cite an economist who says consumer goods are "wealth" (investment) and not consumption.
Both economists at CafeHayek. They don't see consumer goods represent investment instead of consumption, but I never claimed that.

You still don't understand the difference between investment and consumption.
You seem to think consumption is of zero worth, which is absurd. The purpose of wealth is consumption.

The "other things" we buy with the extra money are ALSO CONSUMPTION! Not investment!
I don't recall anyone having to sign an agreement with China saying "You may not use the money you save to buy stocks or bonds. You must spend X amount of dollars on other goods made by China", a la certain foreign aid deals.

He did. He's an idiot.
He's a PhD economist. Mercantilism, which appears to be what you're pushing, is regarded as something like creationism or flat-earth theory in economics. And he pointed out that our manufacturing output has INCREASED. At the same time we've shifted our laborforce into more profitable sectors.

Of course it's aimed at us. Who is the hegemonic power in the Western Pacific? Us!
I don't live in the Pacific. Do you think they're going to attack Hawaii? I think an attack on their neighbors is much more likely.

The Chinese are not pouring wealth into us, they are investing it in greater productive capacity in China.
Go reread the linked article.

Who are its neighbors? Japan and Taiwan and South Korea
In other words, not us.

They cannot achieve regional power without defeating us.
I don't recall the British Navy suffering many defeats as it lost its hegemonic power.

I never thought to encounter someone who will affirm that he who prepares to invest a city is still at peace until the walls be actually assaulted!
How soon do you expect the walls will be assaulted? If it is beyond the point of reasonable speculation, I consider that peace and will update my assesment as data comes in.

The Sino-Soviet split was much more than the border clashes in 1969
Did I claim the border clashes were in 1969?

Meanwhile as we are scuffling, some guy across the street is loading his machine gun so he can shoot me. If I fend you off, are my problems solved?
Could Saddam have had the capability of blasting us with that machine gun before we toppled the Saudis and Egyptians? To extend the analogy, he didn't have a machine gun but merely Diveroli telling him there was a machine gun that would be right up if he paid some advance fees.

Didn't you just say we got kicked in the nuts? You have to get pretty close to someone to kick them in the nuts.
We let them in. At that point it didn't matter what WMDs were being cooked up where, they handled it with box-cutters.

It is simply preposterous to contend that we should ignore foreign problems until they're not far away.
Unless you believe in instantaneously pre-empting everybody, you have to decide some criterion of "not far away".

Germany spent 14 years building battleships that could have no other purpose than combat with the Royal Navy, and according to you the "sensible" British response to this German action would have been to ignore it, because Germany had not actually attacked them yet
Russia spent the Cold War building nukes aimed at us. War with Russia was still stupid.

or you spoke in reference to some other country, in which case your remark was irrelevant
I was mostly thinking of a hypothetical complete autarky, but there have been enough dirt-poor countries we can consider autarkies for the point to apply. It is not irrelevant because it highlights the distinction between trade deficits and wealth.

The assumptions under which this theory is valid do not hold true for trade with Japan and China. Even Ricardo recognized that the principle of comparative advantage does not hold if all factors of production are internationally mobile.
Not all factors are mobile. If they were the cheaper Chinese production facilities would simply transfer to the U.S. So which assumptions don't hold?

If you want an economist to explain why mercantilists are wrong and Japan had a lost decade, you can e-mail Don Boudreaux at dboudrea@gmu.edu and Russ Roberts at roberts@gmu.edu. I e-mailed Roberts a little while back suggesting that he have Kevin Carson (who is admittedly heterodox enough that he believes in the labor theory of value) on EconTalk. He responded fairly promptly, so perhaps he will for you to. They often have posts responding to commenters that push a protectionist line at their blog, so perhaps your question could be featured as well.

Of course it was! (I love people who say "communism has collapsed" when there are over a billion ChiComs, by the way.)
China is pretty damn capitalist these days.

Clinton's political allegiance was defined before the USSR collapsed
But if the USSR collapses, our position towards it is no longer a defining feature of American politicians.

and the Whig policy towards the USSR was pursued after 1991 towards Russia
Did the previous Whig policy involve tanks being sent against communists in the Russian Parliament?

If you believe "Republican" and "Democrat" are the only factions in American politics, then we have not had any "coalition" governments
Factions are too nebulous. With parties we can say "This was a coalition government, this was not". You cannot say that with a comparable degree of precision with factions. Parliamentary coalition governments are also vulnerable to dissolution, whereas our own may continue on until their term is over.

The approach to containment of Truman and Reagan was, in practical terms, precisely the same. The major difference was that under Reagan, China was included as an anti-Soviet ally in the containment structure.
China was still nominally run by Kai-Shek's nationalists in the beginning of Truman's term, so it was also consider part of containment until he lost it. That led the anti-communist right to denounce Truman as soft on communism, and they later threatened to "Unleash Chang", as an effort at rollback.


It does if you are comparing what they were talking about in the late 40s and what they were talking about in the 1980s.
Russia grabbed huge chunks of territory during WW2. "Containment" would then mean something very different if we were comparing the 20s and 40s. There is no ideal or privileged vantage point by which we can say some territory allocation is rollback and another is containment. It depends on the status quo.

Grenada was not East Germany, or Hungary, or Czechoslovakia, which is what "rollback" meant in the 1940s/50s.
Grenada was not run by communists in the 40s. Rollback came to include China in the 50s, but in the 40s it was containment.

Yes, that is exactly why Reagan did not try 1950s-style rollback
1950s style rollback would have included Chang invading mainland China, which did not yet have nukes. It would have been analogous to Reagan's invasion of Grenada, but on a much larger scale. In the Korean War, Douglas MacArthur wanted to roll back the communists while Truman wanted to contain them. That was also well outside eastern europe.

Pardon me for not being impressed with "rollback"
Rollback is rollback whether it impresses you or not. These words had meaning before communism, and those meanings depended on the status quo not your subjective evaluation.

This is to confuse cause and effect. We did not pursue a pro-Soviet policy because there were Soviet agents in the government; there were Soviet agents in the government because we were pursuing a pro-Soviet policy.
I would say both.

If one accepts this, then the de facto policy of Truman and Eisenhower was containment.
Exactly!

Gotta pay attention to what he meant
Meaning is not directly observable, I pay attention to what he said and the context in which he said it. From that I infer meaning.

It was detente in a new guise
Did we have a polic of detente with germany after WW2?

The US and Russia cooperate to ensure geopolitical stability
What war was analogous to the Gulf War in detente, where the U.S and U.S.S.R were not at loggerheads?

The nature of the partnership was fundamentally different in both intent and implementation.
Elaborate.

They're not ready to move yet. I know, I know, we should "sensibly ignore" them until they actually attack us.
We've got how many decades and what do you have to show for it? You talk about how they have not changed their focus when you haven't established that focus in the first place.

How can there be a decisive victory if you don't even kill the enemy? I thought you were the one who insisted on real, tangible action?
As I mention above in this comment, if you can get an enemy to surrender without killing any of them and they all go home to fight another day, that is decisive because they have been removed from the field and your forces there can operate with impunity.

You said the Kosovo war was decisive because we won. Since the war did not achieve the political goals we stated before the war began, and those goals were based on a false premise anyway, I'm not sure what "victory" means here.
There was already fighting going on for a long time between Serbs and Muslims. The Serbs are happy with Muslims being killed and upset by Serbs being killed. Vice versa for the Muslims. From the perspective of the primary combatants (and I'm using the term primary as Huntington did in Clash of Civilizations) the result was certainly decisive. After the war the U.S didn't really care what happened to the Serbs, which isn't that surprising as our reason going in was to protect the Muslims and we never attacked them. Similarly, while WW2 supposedly started because of the invasion of Poland, after the war Stalin (our ally that we never declared war on) had conquered it.

Great, something is decisive if it decides something
That's why they share the same root.

World War One decided a lot of things. Guerrilla warfare has decided the outcome of many, many wars since 1945!
I am not saying trench wars and guerilla wars are not decisive. I am saying trench and guerrilla warfare aren't. These are different levels we are talking about. Blitzkrieg tactics (we are not at that top-level now) are more decisive than trench warfare. Germany conquered France in a very short amount of time with tanks when it took years barely moving inches in trench warfare.

Bush administration apologist
It's been a long time since I was accused of that!

define the goal of the war so narrowly that you can wring some sort of "decisive victory" out of the result
I am using the goal from that time. We were supposed to get rid of Saddam's regime and end the threat of WMDs. Many expected we would install Chalabi or some other strongman and then be gone. Ricardo Sanchez' book just came out a little while ago, and it discusses how our forces were leaving because they thought the job was done.

Hooray, hooray, that was worth a gazillion dollars and thousands of lives
Just because something is decisive does not mean I think it worth anything. As you might have expected, I opposed the invasion of Iraq.

In a macro sense, the goal was to transform Iraq into an American client state
That became the goal later on. But it was not what the war was sold on and not what got people to support it.

And how is this relevant to the bombing of Kosovo?
I was referring to OIF, but what's relevance is the distinction between attrition and decisive battle.

I don't see how you can claim Desert Storm was a decisive victory
I don't know of anyone who thinks of it otherwise. I guess you're the first.

Yeah, it decided he wouldn't control Kuwait
I rest my case.

but it didn't solve the larger cause of the problem
Which was?

I note that above you say guerrilla wars are not decisive because they take a long time, yet here you say a war can be decisive even if it unfolds slowly. Make up your mind!
An action may take a long time, and there may be long periods of calm before action, but those actions are still decisive. In trench and guerrilla warfare there is rarely a decisive maneuver.

That creates an obvious problem for your claim that Operation Allied Force was decisive, since "to end violence and repression" was one of the explicitly stated political goals of the operation.
I repeat my comment about Poland in WW2.

That was not the stated goal, and I don't think for a minute that was a "secret goal" of the Clinton administration.
It was the goal of Albanians, and I don't think they gave a shit about the Serbs.

Even the Tamils have external support.
But not, I believe, from us. That's what MM was talking about and why I thought he was loopy. If you want to cut off all external support to any civil war from anywhere in the globe, then you have quite a challenge cut out for you.

May 22, 2008 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

What was it that happened that changed his mind? Britain declared war on him. They sent troops against him in France. They bombed Germany. He responded by bombing them but lost the Battle of Britain, and then shifted his attention to Russia. It would be odd indeed if he ignored their declaration of war and bombing of his country. The British refused any attempt to make peace because they didn't want it in the first place.

Hello, WHY did Britain declare war? Because Hitler gratuitously attacked an Anglo-French ally (Poland) that was absolutely no threat to Germany. Hitler could have had peace with Britain FOREVER if he did not attack Poland. It is preposterous to argue that the British did not want peace, they wanted it desperately, but (rightly) not at the price of throwing Poland under the bus. In attacking Poland, Hitler unequivocally revealed his aggressive intentions, and the British were absolutely right to declare war on him. The reason to guarantee Poland in the first place was to establish a litmus test for whether or not peace was truly possible with Hitler, and Hitler provided a definite answer.

This presentation of a poor, peace-loving, alliance-seeking Hitler forced to go to war against his will versus a hostile Britain is nothing short of ludicrous.

Do we know Hitler would have been victorious in Europe?

That is certainly what they thought at the time! And it would have been dumb not to assist countries he attacked on the theory that he might not win.

I think Stalin would have been a match for him without the US or even UK.

Nobody in America thought that at the time (1941-42) when they made the decision to assist the USSR.

The smartest thing to do though would have been to let the two exhaust each other, and then if you were really worried finish off the biggest threat.

That only seems smart to you in retrospect, but it's really not.

The Soviet's made a neutrality pact with the Japanese, then intervened against them when they were weak. They were in more danger from Japan than we were from Germany (they were defeated in the Russo-Japanese war but Zhukov had just defeated a Japanese army force).

So your theory is we should have made a neutrality pact with Hitler and then attacked him when he was weak? Yeah, that sounds like a viable policy for 1940s America, fully in keeping with our traditions.

As long as there was easier pickings in the Eastern Hemisphere, no.

And when he's done with those?

Was it smarter to keep him in check before he had that option, or should we have let him run wild in Eurasia and then say, oh gee, guess we better do something about Hitler now?
As mentioned, I think later would have been better. It would have given Stalin a tougher time and permitted the U.S to build up its forces in the mean time.


Manifestly not better in my view.

We went over that before. I don't see why the U.S would have a problem with something like the Roman Empire (China and Persia often got along with it just fine).

Let's just say more sophisticated thinkers than you - as well as practical men responsible for real-world national security decisions - disagreed with this. And they were right.

Imagine its back then and I've predicted that Hitler must attack Stalin because he wrote so in MK. You then point to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and say "Ha!". I plug my ears and go "Lalalala, I can't hear you!". As silly as that sounds, that position was vindicated. Stalin had cooperated and believed everything Hitler told him. There wasn't any comparable power to challenge him in Europe. He was still at war with Britain, but called off bombing operations. What does he do? Open a second front and pour most of his efforts there!

None of this alters the fact that he deviated from the "program" laid out in MK, and thus it is dumb to place any reliance on it. Come on, this is a man who is fundamentally untrustworthy! He broke just about every alliance and violated every arms control agreement he made, and yet you want to base American security on his crazy political tract he wrote in the 1920s.

Not declaring war on Germany and bombing them would be a pretty simple way for both the UK and US to avoid that. Switzerland and Sweden stayed neutral, so they didn't get attacked. Norway did, because the Allies were going to use it to stage attacks. If either the UK or US could avoid being used as a base of attacks, that would also help avoid war.

Britain declared war on Germany because Germany attacked their ally. This was a correct action! America did not declare war on Germany, Germany declared war on America. Germany began planning the invasion of Norway before they had ANY evidence of Allied intent to move into Norway. As for "avoiding being used as a base of attacks", Britain by its very existence constituted a potential base for attacks against Germany. It could never remain neutral, and have the capability to defend its neutrality, without being a threat to Germany by virtue of the fact that it had that capability. And this leaves aside the fact that you seem to think Britain should have remained neutral while Germany crushed not only Poland but also France, which would have been simply stupid. There is every reason to think from reading MK that Hitler would attack France, and it would have been DUMB for Britain to stand aside while Germany did this.

OK, so how does this support your claim that MK is a reliable guide to his intentions?
According to the intentionalists (the opponents of the functionalists) MK does indicate he was going to massacre them. There was enough in there to let Jews know they should flee. The most important part though is that Jews lived in Germany and its neighbors. The U.S was a long way off.


Well, also according to the intentionalists, Hitler planned to conquer the world, including the USA. You can't have it both ways. If you want an intentionalist reading of MK vis a vis the Jews you have to read it that way vis a vis his plans for global domination. Frankly I don't see how either reading of MK gives the US sufficient grounds to "ignore" Nazi conquests as posing no threat to American security.

I don't what what his goals with regard to the U.S would have been

Yes, you don't know. You're dealing with a guy who has launched unprovoked attacks on many different countries, but you want to sit back and do nothing, not even help any of the people he is attacking, until he actually attacks you. This is insane!

if the war had been more of a Germany vs Russia conflict.

It was not such a conflict, so this is a moot point. American leaders had to deal with the situation as it was not as they wanted it to be.

I know I'd need some clear threat from Germany to make war seem like a good idea. There's no other country in the world we can be sure won't ever attack us at some point in time (though some are much less likely to than others). To have such a loose standard of evidence would have us invade all of them.

Nazi Germany was not "any country" either in capability or intention. Nazi Germany demanded US counteraction, and it was correct to provide that counteraction.

He attacked England because they attacked him! I explained it in the previous post, it's not a difficult thing to understand.

Good God, what should not be difficult to understand is that HITLER ATTACKED POLAND. An Anglo-French ally that he did not need to attack! All Hitler needed to do to have peace with Britain is NOT ATTACK POLAND.

Do you have much reason to believe that Germany would have attacked Britain had the latter not declared war on it and bombed it?

If for some reason the British had not declared war when Germany attacked Poland, Germany certainly would have attacked France and the Low Countries, which would also have constituted an attack on Britain.

When you attack another country, you should not be surprised that they will attack you back.

This constant repetition of the refrain that "Britain attacked Germany" is really lame. The aggressive intent and the aggressive actions in 1939 were SOLELY on the German side. The Anglo-French alliance with Poland was SOLELY defensive in nature. When Germany attacked Poland, that constituted an attack on Britain and France, and Hitler knew this perfectly well.

Hitler had good reason to believe Britain would declare war on him as they had promised to do so if he invaded Poland.

So you DO know about this! And yet you still portray the events of 1939 as a British attack on Germany! Amazing.

I'm retroactively advocating the position of not entering the war and instead staying neutral. There is good reason to believe Hitler would have been content with a neutral Britain, and even though they did declare war on him and attack him it appeared he was content to ignore them after he lost the Battle of Britain. If you want to argue against my counter-factual you should give reasons to believe Hitler would have attacked GIVEN neutrality. As there wasn't neutrality, it is silly to use Hitler's attack on Britain to argue against it.

Of course Hitler wanted Britain to remain neutral! That was so he could attack his enemies one at a time! He wanted Stalin to remain neutral, too, until he had crushed his enemies in the West and could deal with Stalin essentially unopposed. If we know nothing else from the historical record, we know that neutrality was a very, very weak defense against Nazi aggression!

For Britain to remain neutral, they also have to do nothing when Hitler crushed France, which he was obviously going to do to secure his rear before attacking the USSR. It is absurd to posit that such neutrality would either be politically possible or militarily desirable for Britain. But let's say they did it anyway. Now Hitler would attack the USSR, which he was also obviously going to do. If he wins, there is now a Nazi superpower from the Atlantic to the Urals. How would this be good for Britain? Britain would then either have to give up all political independence, and be a Nazi satellite state, or go to war against Germany all by itself. Either choice sucks compared to declaring war on Germany in 1939.

You are predicting that over that long period of time Hitler would have attacked. As we appear to agree, such a prediction cannot be made with any confidence over that time interval. We do not act on meteorological projections over a year from now. We wait until later when we have better information and can have more confidence in our predictions before we decide to cancel and outdoor event in case of rain and reschedule it for better weather. Similarly I think the smartest thing to do would have been to wait. Not declaring war at point A does not preclude war later on, but declaring war at A may preclude neutrality at point B. The hidden cost of limited options is discussed with regard to health care here.

We did not have "no information" about Hitler as time progressed. We had PLENTY of information about Hitler. He was attacking country after country, and there was every reason to be confident that he wasn't going to stop. Not responding would be stupid. Not declaring war at any given point just means you will have fewer allies later when you do have to declare war! The "hidden cost" (not so hidden really) of neutrality is the total loss of the power of all the nations who WOULD have been your allies if you hadn't been sitting on your ass "waiting for better information" while they got squashed.

Why is Stalin the potential ally rather than Hitler? My policy is not to attack a country unless I have good reason to believe it is necessary. Stalin actually did have that. Not only did Mein Kampf say so, but his agents kept telling him it was going to happen (he ignored them) and the Germans were massing troops near the border. I'm fine with Israel's pre-emptive Six Day War, because they had reason to believe they were about to be attacked. The pre-emptive Iraq war is a completely different case because Iraq did not represent that kind of threat at all (being located very far away has a lot to do with that).

For one thing, Hitler was the one with clearly evident aggressive intentions and actions at the time when the US was making decisions! Why exactly would we consider Hitler a potential ally when he was the one attacking people and kicking their butts? Even if you take the scurvy nature of the Nazi regime off the table, helping the Brits and the Russians from 1939-41 was exactly the right thing to do.

What is the evidence that recognition as opposed to physical intervention mattered to a significant degree? If the evidence is that people cared about it, then I DO need to care what others think if I consider that good evidence.

I already told you! Union and Confederate leaders thought that recognition mattered a lot, and spent a lot of their very valuable time either trying to make it happen or to stop it. If they cared, it mattered.

All the morale in the world can't stand up to machine-guns, as was shown in WW1. Nukes are even worse.

WW1 showed that machine guns could break the will of some countries (Russia) but not others (Britain and France).

How do you explain the resistance to the US in Vietnam, and in Iraq, if morale is unimportant? The enemy in both those conflicts has NO CHANCE against our machine guns, tanks, aircraft, etc etc. What were (are) these conflicts about if national will means nothing?

The U.S could do an outstanding job of building trenches in Iraq, but it wouldn't necessarily be much of a decisive product or service. I bet they could blow up rocks real good too, and it wouldn't accomplish much. All the morale increases in the world wouldn't make those result in victory.

The national will of America is PRECISELY what is being contested in Iraq. Our military capability is not being tested, because the enemy has NO CHANCE to beat us militarily. Their only hope of victory is to break our national morale and force us to withdraw, as we did in Vietnam. Why is this so hard to grasp?

I interpreted "pile on" to mean intervention rather than recognition. I'm interested in their motive to intervene.

I meant recognition.

Do you think they could have taken over the country? In my view it was always the NVA that posed that threat.

The US government certainly thought so at the time. I don't think it would have been impossible.

He didn't. He thought he was fighting the NLF and the PAVN.

OK, so now you have withdrawn your claim that US commanders "were focused on the VC the whole time, not that they mattered (especially after Tet)."

If they were serious about defeating the NVA they shouldn't have let it keep its base of operations in North Vietnam and toppled the Hanoi government. MacArthur penetrated into North Korea rather than sticking in the South. It worked until the Chinese came in, and even then the end result was better than in Vietnam.

Firstly, I don't understand why you continue to blame US military commanders for not invading North Vietnam, since that wasn't up to them. Secondly, Vietnam and Korea are not comparable, since North Korea directly invaded South Korea with a traditional army, whereas North Vietnam did not invade South Vietnam in the same way until 1972, at which point a US invasion of North Vietnam was off the table militarily and politically.

They didn't represent an existential threat, while the NVA did.

Evidence? And even if true, this does not mean the guerrillas could be ignored.

Even though the NLF never recovered from Tet we still had the highest casualty rates after it, and those were all a waste.

Most of those casualties were incurred fighting the PAVN!

I'm not denying that. I'm saying they focused too little on NVA (and even then a focus on the bodycount means you are going for attrition, a bad strategy for us).

You were denying it.

Who says I am not blaming Washington?

This was not clear from your previous posts, which referred to military commanders like Westmoreland.

Explain to me the mechanism by which low morale on the homefront led to defeat in Vietnam BEYOND their voting power.

Do you think US domestic resistance to the Vietnam War was ONLY important to the extent that it meant people would vote against the war?

I would consider the latter necessary for control of the media.

Voluntary control of the media - the media deciding what NOT to publish - was effective in sustaining national morale.

The fact that they allowed critics to publish means they did not have control of the media.

The isolated blathering of a few critics did not render the massive self-censorship of the media ineffective. Most people got their news from the newspapers and radio, they weren't out buying Harry Elmer Barnes latest screed.

We didn't need to invade North Vietnam to win
What did we need to do?


Pacify South Vietnam and create a viable South Vietnamese state capable of autonomously ensuring its internal security and defending itself from external attack with US assistance. This was not impossible. We did it in Korea.

Were we ensuring that the NVA would not be able to invade and take over the South after we left?

That was the goal, yes. That it was not achieved does not mean the efforts to do so were bungled.

What is necessary is that we agree some battles are decisive themselves rather than merely through the media.

One can certainly cite battles that were not intrinsically "militarily decisive" until the media made them so.

Certainly. If you kill not a single man, but get them all to surrender and go back home perhaps to fight another day, that can still be a decisive battle.

Well gee, how would that happen except by breaking their morale, which you think is an unimportant factor in military affairs?

The two are not synonyms. When the patriots placed cannons on Dorchester Heights and caused the British to retreat from Boston, that did not change the overall balance of forces but it did change the "facts on the ground". The British strategy in New England fizzled and they moved on to the MidAtlantic as a more opportune theater. That theater was not as decisive (Saratoga was a decisive battle, but still left a major force in New York), but King George still thought the idea of recovering Pennsylvania was a "joke". Perhaps you can argue he was really a Whig or brainwashed by the media. Media spin could not have given the British control of New England or Pennsylvania.

So now what King George thinks is a "military fact on the ground"? Interesting.

If you have a dispute with someone, provide support for your arguments.

I gave you enough. If you can't connect the dots that's your problem.

So, MM has been talking about a Civil War between State (with the CIA) and DoD. If the CIA is not actually restricting the military, then I don't see how they can be said to be at war. If they are firing missiles without telling the military (and not just JAG officers, but Franks himself who seems complicit as he is persuaded rather than blocked by his advisors), you'd have to argue that the result is worse than the CIA firing no missiles for that to constitute hampering. If it is military officers hampering the military, the civil war would then be internal to the military. The article you linked to points to disagreements with U.S Central Command (along with Rumsfeld and other bigwigs in the Pentagon) as a major problem, and I doubt anyone would consider it a stronghold of Blue Government. It also blames Bush himself for insisting on low collateral damage. I am quite happy to blame Bush, and I think if he abdicated in favor of Genghis Khan (hey, Gerald Ford wasn't elected either!) we'd be more succesful. But that's not the argument I've been having with MM. He views Bush and the military as Red Government who are being sabotaged by Blue Government. I think they sabotage themselves.

Oh for pete's sake, you must not have read that article if you don't think the CIA is hampering the military.

My own view is that State, CIA, and DOD are not uniformly Blue, Blue, Red. There are some Red elements within State and CIA, and some Blue elements within DOD.

My point of view is much closer to yours but MM insists on viewing it as a civil war between agencies rather than within them (and I would even say characterizing it as the latter is overdramatizing).

It is both within and between.

Okay, I think that is a much more credible argument than MM's. It just doesn't fit with the Tory/Whig civil war conception.

Sure it does. It's just each organization has some enemies within its walls, just like there were Unionists in the South and Copperheads in the North from 1861-65.

One of the goals of the ROE is to prevent fratricide, it is true
It says primary goal.


It says there are TWO primary goals, ONE of which is to prevent fratricide. Where it says the PURPOSE of ROEs are to "impose political, practical, and legal limitations upon commanders", you can hardly think that they are referring only to fratricide. Quite clearly, "political and legal limitations" mean "don't do bad things" (e.g. blow up mosques) like I said.

It did not sound to me like she had or was using the power to compel Franks.

If you don't get it, you don't get it.

Do you mean following the Spanish-American war? Or are you using an expansive definition of "we"?

Yes! Both the US and other countries have done so more than once.

Do you mean starting in 1949? It was mighty prescient of the Whigs back then to predict it would be Tories fighting all the wars in the future!

Whigs and Tories were both around at that time.

Glad we can agree on at least something. How is morale effectively attacked?

Obviously there is no uniform way or every nation would always do it. It varies from nation to nation and time to time.

I don't think it would have necessarily ended the war. It would have smashed the threat to South Vietnam.

No it wouldn't. The Frenchies owned the North and it didn't smash the threat. Hanoi would carry on. And now we need twice as many troops to counter the guerrillas because we have occupied twice as much territory, and in the North the population totally hates us instead of being sometimes sympathetic like in the South so we need an even greater troop-to-population ratio up North than down South. Hmmm, that's a lot of troops you need, there, chief.

The Gulf War stopped the threat to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, even if we left him in power.

It obviously didn't or we wouldn't have kept so much airpower there for 12 years, and we wouldn't have had to practice rushing troops to Kuwait to stop Saddam invading again, as we frequently did.

Well your assumption was incorrect. As Karl Popper noted, "it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood".

Your inability to express yourself clearly is part of the problem, too.

You view that aspect of OIF as being the result of lawyers, I see it as part of a desire to very quickly capture Baghdad.

How exactly did the precise use of over-lawyered limited airpower facilitate the rapid capture of Baghdad?

Not bothering with most Iraqi cities in OIF enabled them to occupy Baghdad quickly.

And that sure solved the problem, didn't it?

What do you claim caused it to cease fighting? I say it was the Russians reversing their offensive and seizing Berlin.

Bombing the crap out of them and then occupying their entire country (not just Berlin, and not just with Russians). Killing lots of people, including civilians, and making it plain that we were going to keep killing them if they kept fighting.

I am not sure. Stories of "werewolves" to the contrary, it was thoroughly conventional.

BECAUSE we smashed them flat conventionally they didn't have the stomach for unconventional war afterwards.

I assert you are getting wealth from the supermarket, and the paper is not worthless but steadily decreasing in value.

True wealth holds its value over time or allows you to generate more wealth. Nothing you buy from the supermarket does that. That is why cars, clothes, electronics, and all other consumer goods are consumption, not investment.

I've never come across a supermarket that I could sell anything to.

Um, that was a metaphor for US trade with China.

Both economists at CafeHayek.

They are wrong.

You seem to think consumption is of zero worth, which is absurd. The purpose of wealth is consumption.

Consumer goods do not hold their value or allow you to generate future returns, so consumer goods do not represent wealth.

The latter statement pretty much captures a lot of what is wrong with American personal - and for that matter, national - finance today. All grasshopper, no ant.

I don't recall anyone having to sign an agreement with China saying "You may not use the money you save to buy stocks or bonds. You must spend X amount of dollars on other goods made by China", a la certain foreign aid deals.

So? They are being smart voluntarily, and we are being stupid voluntarily. We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

He's a PhD economist. Mercantilism, which appears to be what you're pushing, is regarded as something like creationism or flat-earth theory in economics.

A lot of PhD economists are idiots. Japan, China, Taiwan, and others have profited mightily from their delusions, and also from our arrogant belief that their strategy = creationism or flat-earth theory.

I don't live in the Pacific.

Wow, I didn't think your attitude towards national defense could get any more blinkered, but I was wrong. Now the Chinese actually have to come kick down the door to your house before you care about them as a military threat. Sheesh.

In other words, not us.

What I just said, over again.

I don't recall the British Navy suffering many defeats as it lost its hegemonic power.

What happened to Britain in Asia from December 1941 to June 1942 was a victory in your world?

If it is beyond the point of reasonable speculation, I consider that peace and will update my assesment as data comes in.

We already know that General Tso will have to be in your living room before you wake up.

Did I claim the border clashes were in 1969?

That is the only time "there were some shots fired across the Mongolian border."

Could Saddam have had the capability of blasting us with that machine gun before we toppled the Saudis and Egyptians? To extend the analogy, he didn't have a machine gun but merely Diveroli telling him there was a machine gun that would be right up if he paid some advance fees.

Saddam wasn't the guy with the machine gun, the Chinese are.

Unless you believe in instantaneously pre-empting everybody, you have to decide some criterion of "not far away".

Way further away than you think, that's for sure. And in the world of ICBMs, is anybody really "far away"?

Russia spent the Cold War building nukes aimed at us. War with Russia was still stupid.

Um, what? How is this a relevant response? War between Britain and Germany in 1914 was stupid, too, but that doesn't mean the British shouldn't have prepared for it.

Not all factors are mobile. If they were the cheaper Chinese production facilities would simply transfer to the U.S. So which assumptions don't hold?

"Free capital mobility totally undercuts Ricardo's comparative advantage argument for free trade in goods, because that argument is explicitly and essentially premised on capital (and other factors) being immobile between nations. Under the new globalization regime, capital tends simply to flow to wherever costs are lowest--that is, to pursue absolute advantage." -- Herman Daly

China is pretty damn capitalist these days.

That is the assiduously propagated Whig fantasy, anyway.

But if the USSR collapses, our position towards it is no longer a defining feature of American politicians.

Sure it is. A lifetime of thoughts and habits cannot be discarded lightly, and Clinton certainly didn't cast aside his Whiggery just because the immediate object of his Whiggery has gone away.

Every politician who was a Whig during the Cold War remains a Whig now.

Factions are too nebulous. With parties we can say "This was a coalition government, this was not". You cannot say that with a comparable degree of precision with factions. Parliamentary coalition governments are also vulnerable to dissolution, whereas our own may continue on until their term is over.

In short, it is too hard for you to think about, so it must not be true and can be dismissed.

There is no ideal or privileged vantage point by which we can say some territory allocation is rollback and another is containment. It depends on the status quo.

Yes there is. We can look at what the Republicans actually talked about in the 1940s / 50s and what they actually talked about in the 1980s, and the difference is clear to anyone with the wit to see it.

Grenada was not run by communists in the 40s. Rollback came to include China in the 50s, but in the 40s it was containment.

Hoo boy. The difference between attacking Grenada in the 1980s and overthrowing East Germany, or Hungary, or Czechoslovakia is qualitative, not just a matter of what decade it occurred in.

Rollback is rollback whether it impresses you or not. These words had meaning before communism, and those meanings depended on the status quo not your subjective evaluation.

I guarantee you that when Dulles said "rollback" he did not mean "we're going to leave the commies in charge of the army and the security services and eventually allow them to return to power." His words had a meaning entirely different from what occurred in Nicaragua and Afghanistan.

It was detente in a new guise
Did we have a polic of detente with germany after WW2?


Detente is what you have with enemies, not with client states.

You talk about how they have not changed their focus when you haven't established that focus in the first place.

The focus is sufficiently clear to anyone who has any knowledge of China, i.e. not you.

if you can get an enemy to surrender without killing any of them and they all go home to fight another day, that is decisive because they have been removed from the field and your forces there can operate with impunity.

If they fight another day, how was that decisive? You have only deferred a decision, not made one.

There was already fighting going on for a long time between Serbs and Muslims. The Serbs are happy with Muslims being killed and upset by Serbs being killed. Vice versa for the Muslims. From the perspective of the primary combatants (and I'm using the term primary as Huntington did in Clash of Civilizations) the result was certainly decisive.

No it isn't! Neither Serb nor Muslim thinks their conflict is over for good. What was "decided" was a temporary ceasefire at most.

Similarly, while WW2 supposedly started because of the invasion of Poland, after the war Stalin (our ally that we never declared war on) had conquered it.

Pah, only dunderheads think WW2 was about "protecting Poland". WW2 was about stopping the German bid for global domination.

I am not saying trench wars and guerilla wars are not decisive. I am saying trench and guerrilla warfare aren't. These are different levels we are talking about. Blitzkrieg tactics (we are not at that top-level now) are more decisive than trench warfare. Germany conquered France in a very short amount of time with tanks when it took years barely moving inches in trench warfare.

Mechanized warfare did not prove "decisive" in the East. Mechanized warfare in Russia lasted as long in WW2 (1941-45) as trench warfare in Russia lasted in WW1 (1914-17). So talking about a decisive "type" of warfare is meaningless.

I am using the goal from that time. We were supposed to get rid of Saddam's regime and end the threat of WMDs. Many expected we would install Chalabi or some other strongman and then be gone. Ricardo Sanchez' book just came out a little while ago, and it discusses how our forces were leaving because they thought the job was done.

That was not even the only goal elaborated at that time! There was a lot of huffing and puffing about creating a vibrant democracy and free-market economy in Iraq. How's that coming? We have a decisive result on that yet?

Just because something is decisive does not mean I think it worth anything.

A "decisive victory" that is worthless doesn't seem like it's decisive or a victory to me.

That became the goal later on. But it was not what the war was sold on and not what got people to support it.

Of course it was the goal up front! And of course they did not sell it that way in public! Even the Bush administration is not stupid enough to say, in public, "we're going in to make Iraq into our obedient lackey and regional catspaw", but that's exactly what they intended.

I was referring to OIF, but what's relevance is the distinction between attrition and decisive battle.

The distinction is meaningless. You can have decisive victory with attrition, and fail to achieve decisive victory without an attrition-based approach.

I don't know of anyone who thinks of it otherwise. I guess you're the first.

Nah. I am very far from the first to observe this.

Yeah, it decided he wouldn't control Kuwait
I rest my case.


I should have said, "it decided he shouldn't control Kuwait in 1991", because just a few years later he was able to threaten Kuwait again. That would have been impossible after a credible "decisive victory."

but it didn't solve the larger cause of the problem
Which was?


Saddam's ability to threaten Kuwait.

An action may take a long time, and there may be long periods of calm before action, but those actions are still decisive. In trench and guerrilla warfare there is rarely a decisive maneuver.

Attrition can be just as "decisive" as maneuver. Even more so!

I repeat my comment about Poland in WW2.

The analogy is not germane.

It was the goal of Albanians, and I don't think they gave a shit about the Serbs.

The Albanians control NATO now? The Albanians dictated the political goals to the Clinton administration? Pshaw.

Incidentally, I think now that MM has made another post, I won't make any more detailed responses here. Forward into the future...

May 22, 2008 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

One reason the "Left" apparently always wins is that victorious right-wing movements are frequently reclassified as Left.

You can see this most clearly in the case of the aftermath of the American Civil War. The losing side engaged in a "long march through the institutions" which first caused a Yankee withdrawal from the occupation of Dixie. It was followed by the growing respectability of eugenics and it then culminated in the capture of the Presidency in 1912.

Come to think of it, the standard left-wing rhetoric about indigenous movements might have been injected into liberalism by Wilson, who might have been looking for an excuse for Confederate independence.

May 25, 2008 at 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

give me the name of ONE American killed during Bush's administration by an Iranian.

How about five? Jacob Fritz, Brian Freeman, Shawn Falter, Jonathan Chism, and Jonathon Millican.

May 28, 2008 at 8:29 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

One minor factual error: England didn't get Jamaica until Cromwell's time. When rebels and the like were sent to the West Indies before that, they were generally to Barbados. Cromwell sent a lot there himself.

June 1, 2008 at 6:46 PM  
Anonymous paradoctor said...

In addition to being prolix, Mencius is also naive, incoherent, unimaginative and inconsistent; partly because his model is one-dimensional.

He wisely notes that one cannot put music or art on a left-right scale; then he asks, why can we do so to politics? Answer; because you can't put politics on a single scale either, and Mencius is a victim of conventional delusion.

An intelligent - as opposed to ideological - analysis of politics must, I think, use at least two scales, and probably more. The two dimensions that I notice, quite independent of each other, are:

* pro-underdog vs. pro-overdog (the usual understanding of Left vs. Right)

and

* conservative vs. radical. By 'conservative' mean the dictionary definition; prefering to conserve; as opposed to the Orwellian meaning now dominant.

So there are 2*2 = 4 options:
Conservative Right = Tories;
Conservative Left = Whig;
Radical Right = Fascist;
Radical Left = Marxist.

(Note; these labels are approximate.)

The Whig position is to favor the underdog, in order to stabilize society. The logic of this is impeccable; in cybernetics it's called negative feedback. Overdogs tend to resent the expense of Whig policy; but stability is a social good, and there is no free lunch.

The true reverse of the Whig position is not Tory but Fascist. Indeed, Fascists have long understood themselves as destroyers; their method is by making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

June 6, 2008 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Dr Taylor teaches us how to attain deep inner peace - easily, simply, without drugs, anytime we want it. Forgive me for doing everything I can to be sure everyone reads this book and sees this video, but I think all of us benefit and in the larger sense, if everyone reads this, our world will benefit in a very large way.

June 18, 2008 at 12:19 AM  
Anonymous Svigor said...

If the page for Jew links you to all the sinister deeds that have ever been performed by anyone who happened to be Jewish, it will certainly suffice. (Kevin McDonald is a modern master of this game.)

Gee, that's funny - I thought he was only really interested in Jewish movements. (How'd he fit all the Jew crooks into three little books?)

If MacDonald is playing fast and loose with reality, as you imply, maybe you should show us how. Maybe you have - you'd be the first.

You lard your posts with these "gentile"-baitings, but they're juvenile, and not up to snuff with the rest of your writing. Should I find that suggestive?

Well, I do. Jews are usually quite clever, right up until it comes time to discuss their tender Jewish parts, then they turn into sophomores. Why?

June 18, 2008 at 3:42 PM  
Anonymous boqueronman said...

Mr. tggp needs to discuss this unsupported conclusion with Marshall Zhukov: "What happens when Hitler is victorious in Europe
Do we know Hitler would have been victorious in Europe? I think Stalin would have been a match for him without the US or even UK." In 1963, Marshall Zhukov - who may even know something more about WWII on the Russian front than tggp - admitted that without U.S. and UK aid, Russia could not have continued the war. As one would expect this confession was not made public until 1993. Sorry, after that whopper, the rest of the magnum opus comment was left unread.

June 20, 2008 at 11:03 AM  
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February 12, 2009 at 1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 2, 2009 at 10:15 PM  

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