Thursday, November 07, 2013

On war

I write under the above heading with apologies to Clausewitz, Sun Tzu and many others. What inspires me to write on this occasion is that a relative sent me a rather heartfelt rendition of a famous Australian antiwar song.  It is here.  It uses a lot of Australian English so is unlikely to be fully understood by non-Australians  -- but you will undoubtedly get the gist of it.

The thing that characterizes all antiwar songs that I know is that they take a very superficial view of war. They see the suffering and waste and make no effort to see WHY the suffering and waste took place.  They think it is sufficiently profound to deplore war rather than attempt to understand it.

And a lot of people in general do that.  They speak of the "folly" of war, which is in fact a confession that they do not understand it. And I imagine that anyone reading here has been confronted by such sentiments at some time or other.  I thought therefore that it might be useful to set out in a simple way how war is to be explained.  Some people seem to need such an explanation.

The first thing to note is that conquered people are often treated very badly by victor nations.  It can be literally a matter of life and death.  There are therefore very good reasons to fight a defensive war.  You may avoid oppression that way.  And that is the basic argument for war.  There may also be reasons for an offensive war but I doubt that any of those are good reassons.

The second thing we need to understand is that most people prefer prevention to cure.  It is all very well to defend yourself if attacked but it is surely best to prevent war breaking out in the first place.  The best known of such strategies is "Si vis pacem, para bellum", a Latin adage translated as, "If you want peace, prepare for war".  And there are some good examples of that as a successful strategy  -- 20th century Switzerland and Sweden, for instance.

There is however a very important second strategy, one that tends to slip below the public consciousness:  Treaties and alliances.  To most people such things seem to be old men talking to one another with no relevance to everyday life.  In fact, however, they are a major deterrent to war and should therefore be highly valued by any reasonable person.  And politicians at least do usually value them highly.

What treaties do is to make a group of nations to big or too strong to attack. They say to potential aggressors:  "If you attack any one of us, all of us will strike back at you."  Unity is strength, in other words.  And there is no doubt that treaties do prevent wars.  At a time when the Soviet Union was in an  aggressively expansionist phase, Western Europe would not have retained its independence but for its treaty with the United States (NATO).

So treaties are very important.  And you must honour them.  If you fail to come to the defence of a country that you have a treaty with, ALL treaties will tend to be undermined and an important deterrent to war will have been lost.

Which brings us to WWI, the subject of the antiwar song I mentioned above.  Even to me, WWI seems a foolish war.  Why did civilized countries line up their young men in opposing ranks in order for the other side to machine-gun them down?   Why did Australian soldiers end up trying to invade Turkey?  And for those who take a more informed view of the matter, why did the assassination of an Austrian Archduke in Serbia by a nonentity known as Gavrilo Princip lead to the fine young men of Britain making war on fine young men from Germany in the fields of Belgium?

It makes no sense unless you understand the importance of treaties for war prevention. In 1914, Germany had a treaty with Austria, Britain had a treaty with France and France had a treaty with Russia.  And those treaties had to be honoured if endless war was not to be ushered in.

So when Serb activist Princip shot the Archduke, Austria cracked down on the generally hostile Serbs, with which Austria had a border. (A similarity between Osama bin Laden attacking the twin towers and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan may be noted.)  But the Tsar of Russia saw the Serbs as fellow Slavs, brothers to Russia. The Tsar remonstrated with the Austrians but the Austrians replied that the matter was none of the Tsar's businmess.

So the Tsar declared war on Austria.  It was a meddlesone Russian ruler who set the ball rolling on WWI.  Because then the treaties came into effect: Germany declared war on Russia in defence of Austria;   France declared war on Austria and Germany because of their treaty with Russia; and Britain declared war on Germany in defence of France.  The logic was dismal but logic it was.

So it is not a common way to look at it but WWI was fought in defence of the integrity of treaties.  If the various treaties had been betrayed at that time, treaties might not have kept Western Europe safe from the dismal grip of Soviet Russia in the post-WWII era.  Russia might have been tempted to roll in the belief that the USA would not honour its treaty with Europe.  So some good did come from WWI.  It was a war that had to be fought.

So what about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars waged by the USA?  They were clearly defensive wars waged to discourage any repetition of the 9/11 attacks.  You would think that knocking out two of the three regimes most hospitable to the Jihadis would show them that the USA was not a paper tiger and discourage the Jihadis  for good but the fact that the Iranians have got off scot-free probably gives them encouragement.

Dropping a big one on their holy city with a promise of more to come would be a low-cost way of causing the Iranians to rethink their hostility towards just about everyone -- and with a bit of luck the Israelis might do just that in the not-too distant future -- to the  benefit of us all. The Iranians have installed substantial military facilities in the Qom area so they are asking for it. Losing their holy city would also make them the laughing stock of the Sunni world -- and ridicule can be even more grievous than defeat.  The Ayatollahs would be completely discredited.  -- JR



I have made many similar observations to the ones below.  I would however add that the liberal feels not only morally superior but superior in wisdom and understanding too  -- JR

I’m always searching for a unified field theory of liberalism that reconciles its craziness, destructiveness and sanctimony. I thought the “liberalism is a mental disorder” meme came close, but in the end was too easy. It’s like having a madman as a villain in a story–you don’t have to explain, motivate or justify his behavior. It’s the difference between “Friday the 13th” and “Crime and Punishment.”

A recent sad experience with a friend undergoing rehab has left me with another analogue. I now think liberalism is an addiction and displays all the behaviors commonly associated with addictive behavior.

Well, not “liberalism” per se. That policy-agenda is really an elaborate metaphorical delusion built to camouflage the true drug these poor souls crave so desperately: moral superiority.

It’s as powerful as heroin or cocaine. It supplies a terrific high: all sense of personal failure, betrayal, guilt, ineffectiveness, irrelevance, of being nothing and nobody, disappears in a flash. Instead our hero feels extraordinarily good about himself. He is helping. He is compassionate. He is without sin. He is sensitive, caring, part of the solution and not the problem. He feels handsome, daring and heroic. He thinks it will get him laid. How could he not love this?

He cannot see the harm he is doing, either at the micro level or at the cataclysmic macro level; he cannot see how his “generosity” with other people’s money, for example, has devastated the black community, turned it bitter, hopeless, impulsive, violent and addicted itself to free stuff from the gub’mint as well as the crutch of “racism” to justify everything.

But you have seen this most explicitly in the last few weeks, as Obamacare, a hopelessly idiotic delusional program meant to redistribute wealth (in the form of medical care) to the unfortunates who’ve never paid a tax in their lives, has crashed and burned. As anybody who knows anything about the addictive state knows, when the addict is threatened with the cut-off of his supply, he becomes a monster.

I saw this with my friend, who it turned out had been lying to me for years about his addictions. He loved me; I kept him alive. But he could not help himself from using me and feeding me a tapestry of lies to keep the money coming. I thought I was “helping,” just as liberals think they are helping. But I learned, finally, that I was just enabling. This is a lesson liberals will never learn.

As the collapse of Obamacare reveals, they go into reflexive monster mode. Like any addict, they will lie, cheat, steal, even become violent when their supply is threatened. They have no moral qualms about betraying their closest friends because the moral part of them is dead. They see only the end of their high and that becomes the defining issue of their life. They will do anything to protect it. That is why they are such wily opponents and such aggressive defenders of what the whole of the rational world now realizes was fabrication, delusion and ultimately fantasy.

So if we look to liberate them from the agony they don’t even know they suffer from, we must look to the known cures of addiction. Terrible, hard work, draining and demoralizing, but I think we are up to it.



Obamacare Is Obama Unmasked

Everyone is focusing on Obamacare because it is such an obvious disaster, but in fact, it is but a microcosm of Barack Obama's entire presidency. Obamacare is Obama unmasked.

Aren't some of you tired of making lame excuses for him that only serve to make things worse? He has made a mess of nearly everything his policies have touched, and he's mostly avoided the blame; but he owns Obamacare, and he has nowhere to hide.

When someone with the influence Obama enjoyed upon first taking office sets out to fundamentally transform the nation -- and he has the unqualified support of the entire liberal media apparatus, the Democratic Party in lock step, millions of people purchased with government money and/or indoctrinated in liberal universities, and the cudgels of racial shaming and white guilt -- the possibilities are endless.

Constitutionalists have observed for years that America has been on a downward spiral as its ruling class has discarded its founding principles -- the very ideas that led to this nation's uniqueness, power, prosperity and benevolence. We've known that we could not forever piggyback, with impunity, on America's system of limited government and its free market economy. Eventually, statist encroachments on both would destroy our prosperity, liberty and power.

But we were thinking in terms of decades into the future, not a matter of a few years. Who would have ever thought the United States would embark on such an accelerated path of national suicide?

At the beginning, people could argue that Obama would usher in a period of prosperity and bipartisanship and that things would get better in America. But after five years of unconscionably reckless federal spending, a wholesale assault on our domestic energy industries, endless abuses of executive authority and other lawless incursions on the Constitution, unprecedented divisiveness and polarization across economic, racial and gender lines, America's declining power and prestige in the world, an explosion of the welfare state, and the worst economic recovery in 60 years, how can anyone who cares about this nation's future and the well-being of our children and grandchildren keep supporting this man's policies?

Even those of you who seem to have an endless capacity for buying into the administration's childish scapegoating of the Bush administration or the current GOP opposition for every Obama policy failure surely are beginning to have doubts as you watch the inglorious unfolding of Obamacare.

At first, you may have been hanging on to the fantasy that this was just a technical problem with the website -- perhaps marginally understandable given the immense scope of the "transition" into government-run health care. But unless you have been asleep the past few weeks, you understand that the problems with the website were so colossal that only an incompetent and arrogant administration could have presided over them.

But you also know that as horrendous as the website problems are, they pale in comparison with the substantive problems with Obamacare and Obama's abject lies to pass the bill in the first place and his continuing pattern of deceit concerning this boondoggle.

You may choose, like New York Times editors, to become part of the lie and euphemize Obama's Obamacare lies as "misstatements." But that's an insult to anyone in possession of the left side of his brain. Actually, it's an insult to right-siders, too, because you'd have to be bereft of intuitive powers not to sense the enormity of the presidential deception.

It is inconceivable that Obama merely misspoke when he promised that Americans could keep their private plans and doctors if they liked them and when he said the premiums for an average family of four would decrease by $2,500. Those were cold, calculated lies designed to defraud the American people and their representatives into supporting Obama's "signature" legislative dream, which was never about increasing access, reducing costs, increasing quality and preserving choices. Rather, Obamacare has always been nothing less than the linchpin in Obama's bigger dream to fundamentally change America into a nation he could like instead of resent -- a socialist utopia rather than the land of the free, of the brave and of equal opportunity.

Those on the left who stubbornly insist on continuing to support Obama and his destruction of America need to re-evaluate him. Is your appetite for denial unbounded?

Those on the right who insist on continuing to pull their punches instead of calling it like it is will also eventually have America's blood on their hands.

We all had better wake up. There's only so much bitterness and covetousness a nation's leaders can arouse in its people before they reduce it to permanent mediocrity.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On War...great post except Serbia was not part of the Hapsburg Empire but might have been considered within her sphere of influence...much deeper ties to the Balkan Wars of 10-12 and the influence of certain Russian inhabited areas wanting extraction from the Orthodox mess.This is one of the most convoluted war/treaty scenarios at a time when Germany really did not need war, it was winning the battles of economies vs. Britain and France!