Category Archive 'Defeatism'
03 Oct 2014

Andrew Sullivan’s Foreign Policy

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Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan (who has never been a US citizen, and who has escaped criminal conviction and consequent deportation only through blat), nonetheless, editorializes about Americans in the plural including himself (“We War-Loving Americans“), and makes a personal specialty of prescribing US Foreign Policy, often vigorously denouncing the decisions in that area made by mere elected presidents.

Despite Andrew’s long-demonstrated canine love for Barack Obama, Obama’s recent decision to bomb ISIS has seriously offended Andrew’s Neville-Chamberlain-esque principles, and the Chosen One is coming in for a stern scolding these days from his disappointed admirer.

One particularly penetrating observation leapt out at me. After airily asserting that defeating the Sunni Insurrection was beyond our powers, Andrew advised allowing the Middle Eastern atrocities to proceed. In his view, the successful erection of the new Caliphate would have no consequences affecting Europe or the United States, and would naturally simply diminish to the status of a “regional conflagration.” If (and when) Iran proceeded to intervene in the conflict, we should hope “both sides lose,” and perhaps “intervene from a distance” (which must mean: bomb). According to Andrew: “Our real interest is in bolstering the one stable power in the region, which is Iran.”

Now, there is foreign policy analysis at its finest. The same United States which defeated the German Army and the Japanese Navy cannot possibly defeat 10,000 sand monkey belligerents armed with AKs and driving new Toyotas. And our real interest (who knew?) lies in supporting the Shiite fanatics and long-time sponsors of terrorism in Iran who have made hatred of America and the West their regime’s very raison d’être since the time of Jimmy Carter.

How Andrew’s most admired regime maintains its stability.

27 Jan 2011

Rooting For American Decline

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Ezra Klein spoke for progressives throughout the land when he expressed a certain personal irritation with the “America No.1” cheerleading portions of Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

One of the first big applause lines of the speech came when Barack Obama said, “For all the hits we’ve taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world.” But as Matt Yglesias notes, soon, we won’t. China will. And that’s okay.

A decent future includes China’s GDP passing ours. They have many, many more people than we do. It’s bad for both us and them if the country stays poor. …

In the best global economy we can imagine, the countries with the largest GDP are the countries with the most people. That’s not America. And that’s okay.

Klein proceeds to assure us that his preferred vision of the future is not all that bad for America. We have not declined into a state of want or hardship or oblivion. We’re just going to be No. 2, and content with it, since prosperous and successful China will be innovating for us.

What’s wrong with decline and fall? Klein argues. Britain declined. Why not us?

A world in which China becomes rich enough to buy from us and educated enough to invent things that improve our lives is a better world than one in which they merely become competitive enough to take low-wage jobs from us — and that’s to say nothing of the welfare of the Chinese themselves.

But perhaps it’s better to think of it in terms of Britain rather than China. Was the economic rise of the United States, in the end, bad for Britain? Or France? I don’t think so. We’ve invented a host of products, medicines and technologies that have made their lives immeasurably better, not to mention measurably longer. We’re a huge and important trading partner for all of those countries. They’re no longer even arguably No. 1, it’s true. But they’re better off for it.

Of course, Ezra Klein’s sunny picture of a modest swoon to position 2, purely on the basis of comparative demographics, old boy, is a puerile, historically illiterate assessment of how things work.

Loss of stature and decline typically does not cease when you hit number 2. If we look at Britain’s decline, we see not only loss of economic preeminence. We see a fundamental loss of national self-confidence, the abandonment of Britain’s civilizing mission abroad, diminishing military strength leading to dependency on the United States, surrender of the country’s domestic economy to the domination of trade unions and socialism, industrial collapse, decades of economic decline, mass emigration of the ambitious and enterprizing, and ultimately even the calculated remodeling of the ethnic character of the nation through Third World emigration policies covertly imposed by Labour leaders. Britain did not just sink to Number 2. Britain lost just about everything, including its national character.

Matt Yglesias echoes Klein, without bothering to sugarcoat the message.

[S]omething I thought was really striking about Barack Obama’s speech last night was how utterly unprepared American political culture is for the idea of a world in which we’re not Top Nation. And yet the reality is that while we’re the world’s largest economy today, and will continue to be so tomorrow, we really just won’t be forever. The Economist predicts that China will pass us in 2019. Maybe it’ll be 2018 or maybe it’ll be 2022.

But it will happen. And fairly soon. And it’ll happen whether or not we reform education or invest in high speed rail or whatever. And the country doesn’t seem prepared to deal with it.

We had a similar discussion, a few months ago, on my Yale class’s email list. Some liberal classmates had condemned the US Constitution and argued that, since it allowed slavery, Constitutional Originalism was obviously undesirable. The US Constitution had always been defective.

They went on to cite demographic prediction of larger Hispanic birth-rates, and gleefully predicted that in a few more decades, the United States would be a nation in which current minorities would be a majority.

I pointed out that the ongoing line of argument demonstrated only too clearly that the perspective of the left was, in fact, hostile to the political system of the United States as founded, and to the Constitution. That the same perspective, moreover, also did not like the majority of European-descended Americans, and took pleasure in imagining this country’s people and culture swept away and replaced by a different people.

Why, I wondered epistolarily, should anyone who actually supports the Constitution, loves America, or feels affirmative ties to the America people even think of listening to leftists?

As we see, in the cases of Messrs. Yglesias and Klein, in their heart of hearts, they are not on our side. They are our adversaries and opponents.

09 Apr 2008

Losing Wars is Always Bad

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Frederick W. Kagan explains why defeat is not really the most desirable option.

Losing wars is always bad. One of the major reasons for America’s current global predominance economically and politically is that America doesn’t lose wars very often. It seems likely, however, that the American people are about to be told that they have to decide to lose the Iraq war, that accepting defeat is better than trying to win, and that the consequences of defeat will be less than the costs of continuing to fight. For some, the demand to “end this war” is a reprise of the great triumph of their generation: forcing the U.S. to lose the Vietnam War and feel good about it. But even some supporters are being seduced by their own weariness of the struggle, and are being tempted to believe the unfounded defeatism — combined with the unfounded optimism about the consequences of defeat — that hyper-sophisticates have offered during every major conflict. Americans have a right to be weary of this conflict and to desire to bring it to an end. But before we choose the easier and more comfortable wrong over the harder and more distasteful right, we should examine more closely the two core assumptions that underlie the current antiwar arguments: that we must lose this war because we cannot win it at any acceptable cost, and that it will be better to lose than to continue trying to win.

The hyper-sophisticates of the American foreign-policy and intellectual establishment direct their invective at the whole notion of winning or losing. What’s the definition of winning? If we choose to withdraw from an ill-conceived and badly executed war, that’s not really losing, is it? We can and should find ways to use diplomacy rather than military power to handle the consequences of any so-called defeat. Less-sophisticated antiwar leaders on both sides will ask simply why the U.S. should continue to spend its blood and treasure to fight in “a far-off land of which we know little,” as Neville Chamberlain famously said in defense of his abandonment of Czechoslovakia to the Nazis. We have, after all, more pressing problems at home to which the Iraq war is only contributing. As is often the case, there is a level between over-thinking and under-thinking a problem that is actually thinking. Yes, in the world as it is, whatever line we sell ourselves, there really is victory and there really is defeat, the two are different, and their effects on the future diverge profoundly. And yes, the reason we must continue to spend money and the lives of the very best Americans in that far-off land is that the interests of every American are actually at stake.

We will consider below just how much of a diversion of resources away from more desirable domestic priorities the Iraq war actually is, but the more important point is simply this: Unless the advocates of defeat can show, as they have not yet done, that the consequences of losing are very likely to be small not simply the day after the last American leaves Iraq, but over the next five, ten, and 50 years, then what they are really selling is short-term relief in exchange for long-term pain. As drug addicts can attest, this kind of instant-gratification temptation is very seductive — it’s what keeps drug dealers in business despite the terrible damage their products do to their customers. “Just end the pain now and deal with the future when it gets here” is as bad a strategy for a great nation as it is for a teenager.

25 Nov 2007

“The Stab That Failed”

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Noemie Emery, in the Weekly Standard, gives Congressional democrats their due.

As they took control of Congress at the start of 2007, the Democrats vowed this would be a year of historic importance, and it seems they were prescient: Seldom before in the annals of governance have so many politicians fought so long and so hard to completely screw up a winning strategy being waged on their country’s behalf. Some cruelly define this as treacherous conduct, but this is imprecise and unkind. They tried, it is true, to do serious damage, but were compromised in the event by their chronic incompetence, as well as by being too above-board and open to try to do things on the sly. A stab in the back as a concept was wholly beyond their capacities. This was not a stab in the back that works via guile and subterfuge. It was 41 different stabs in the front, that always fell far short of serious damage, unless you count the damage they did to their own reputations (the approval ratings for Congress are now in the twenties). It was the Stab in the Front, the Surge-against-the-Surge, the Pickett’s Charge of the Great War on Terror. It was a year to remember, that will live in the annals of fecklessness. It was historical. It was hysterical. It was the Stab that Failed.

19 Nov 2007

“What Are We Supposed to Do?”

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Even as American efforts in Iraq seem increasingly successful, democrats remain determined to devote their legislative agenda to snatching at defeat, reports the New York Times. After all, their constituency demands it.

Democrats in Congress failed once again Friday to shift President Bush’s war strategy in Iraq, but insisted that they would not let up. Their explanation for their latest foiled effort seemed to boil down to a simple question: “What else are we supposed to do?”

Frustrated by the lack of political progress in Iraq, under pressure by antiwar groups and mindful of polls showing that most Americans want the war to end, the Democrats last week put forward a $50 billion war spending bill with strings attached knowing it would fail.

Like so many of the war-related measures that Democrats have proposed this year, the spending bill sought to set a timeline for redeploying American troops, and to narrow the mission to focus on counterterrorism and on the training of Iraq’s security forces.

And, like so many of the war-related measures that Democrats proposed this year, it was approved in the House only to wither and die in the Senate, where on Friday it fell 7 votes short of the 60 needed to prevent a Republican filibuster — with 45 senators voting to block the measure.

All signs indicate that Democrats will continue proposing such measures as long as Mr. Bush remains in office and troops remain in Iraq. “We are going to keep plugging away,” said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Democratic lawmakers and strategists on Capitol Hill said their hope was that even if Republican support for Mr. Bush’s strategy held firm, voters would reward Democrats for their efforts at the polls next November, and that there was no risk to failing again and again.

To believe that, you have to believe that a majority of Americans are yearning for American defeat and think that a new Caliphate in Baghdad is just what the doctor ordered. Our delusional coastal elites are so self-mesmerized with their theologies of pacifist sanctimony and cultural self-criticism that they are capable of reaching any anti-Bush, anti-American conclusion, however preposterous, but outside of Berkeley and Brookline and Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it is not going to be easy to find a majority which is going to agree that undermining the US military in the field is Congress’s first duty.

16 Oct 2007

Buried Victories

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J.R. Dunn explains how the denial of recognition of military success is essential to the process of destruction of national morale and will by the pacifist, defeatist media.

Victory is hated by antiwar types, no matter what their ideology and motivation. (This is not even to mention the agendas of the hard left and the Democrats, which we don’t have space to get into.) They don’t want war redeemed. Anything that lessens its loathsome aspects makes it easier to view war as a possibility. Victory is one of the failings of war that must be gotten rid of. But of course, in any conflict (excepting wars of exhaustion, which we don’t often see) there will be winner and a loser. Victory can’t be denied to that extent. But the rituals, the salutes, the expressions of respect and magnanimity, can be undermined. And so we get buried victories.

A buried victory is one that has been downgraded and ignored, one that has been hedged with so many qualifications and second thoughts that it is scarcely a victory at all any longer. A buried victory is one from which all the human aspects have been drained, and replaced — if that’s the word — with bureaucratic procedure.

We’ve seen this for fifty years or more. U.S. forces had effectively secured most of South Vietnam by 1972. The Viet Cong had been a nullity since being effectively wiped out during the Tet Offensive, and the People’s Army of North Vietnam had to a large extent been chased across the borders into Cambodia and Laos. South Vietnam was a stable political entity, and with adequate support could have remained that way.

But the American left, for purely political reasons, portrayed the situation as a defeat, and in a series of Congressional actions through 1973 and 1974, cut off support for the Saigon government until it was hanging by a string. It fell at last on April 30, 1975, after a heroic final defense at the gates of the city.

In the years that followed, close to 3 million were murdered in Southeast Asia. …

Today we see a similar process occurring in Iraq. None of the achievements of the Coalition or the Iraqis has gained more than momentary recognition. The purple revolution, the elections, the reconstruction — all have been dismissed or ignored. What has replaced them is an endless chronicle of suffering and destruction – of war without victory.

A must read.

09 Sep 2007

Great Minds Think Alike

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Gateway Pundit links a 5:48 video of John Gibson from Fox News comparing Osama’s recent speech to some statements by Keith Olbermann. “There’s an echo in the room.” Hilarious.

25 Aug 2007

“Brutus a Good Friend to Caesar?”

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At the end of last month, William Kristol, in the Weekly Standard, expressed editorial indignation at the publication by the Nation and the New Republic of accounts of alleged brutal and callous behavior by US troops, evidencing the traditional defeatist meme of the emotionally and morally debilitating effect upon American forces of, as The Nation puts it,

a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars of occupation.

This sort of thing is par for the course for the (traditionally-Stalinist) Nation, of course. But Kristol is appalled that the Neoliberal New Republic has been playing the same “demonizing US forces” game, publishing an account, titled Shock Troops by a currently serving soldier in Iraq who pseudononymously and

colorfully describes three sets of alleged misdeeds he and his buddies committed in Baghdad: They humiliate a woman in a military dining hall who has been disfigured in an IED explosion (the woman “wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn’t really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor”); they discover human remains and one private spends a day and night playing around with a child’s skull (“which even had chunks of hair”), amusing his fellow soldiers; and one private routinely drives a Bradley Fighting Vehicle recklessly and uses the vehicle to kill stray dogs.

Kristol makes the obvious point that, despite all their protestations to the contrary, the anti-war left, including its representatives in the elite branches of the MSM, is doing the precise opposite of supporting the troops.

Having turned against a war that some of them supported, the left is now turning against the troops they claim still to support. They sense that history is progressing away from them–that these soldiers, fighting courageously in a just cause, could still win the war, that they are proud of their service, and that they will be future leaders of this country. They are not “Shock Troops.” They are our best and bravest, fighting for all of us against a brutal enemy in a difficult and frustrating war. They are the 9/11 generation. The left slanders them. We support them. More than that, we admire them.

Stung by Kristol’s criticism, Jonathan Chait, at New Republic, has the unmitigated chutzah to try to explain why publishing (what were subsequently established to be false) contemptible, and ultimately trivial, accusations dishonoring US troops was not treason or defeatism at all. Those slanderous and false accusations were published to serve no political agenda, Chait assures us (and his own morally debilitated conscience), but “merely for the edification of readers.”

There is more than one way to support the troops, Chair explains:

the way you support the troops is contingent upon your analysis of the war. If you think the war is succeeding, then supporting the war is a way of supporting the troops. If you think the war is doomed to failure, though, proposing that more troops die in vain is not a way of supporting them.

I am reminded of the scene late in Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco (1998), in which Jimmy Steinway argues to Des McGrath that one could betray someone (motivated by other worthy considerations), and still be a good friend to him, the way Brutus was a good friend to Caesar. “You call Brutus stabbing Caesar in the back the act of a good friend?” Des explodes indignantly.

But Chait has the decisive last word: Watch out what you say, Kristol. We (the Washington Establishment) can ostracize you.

Kristol’s good standing in the Washington establishment depends on the wink-and-nod awareness that he’s too smart to believe his own agitprop. Perhaps so. But, in the end, a fake thug is not much better than the real thing.

25 Aug 2007

Al Qaeda Begins Counteroffensive in Iraq

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Bill Roggio reports, in the Weekly Standard, that Al Qaeda has begun a major effort to supply the headlines needed by its allies in the MSM to achieve the decisive demoralization of US public opinion required to give Congressional democrats a safe opportunity to defund US military operations in Iraq and compel withdrawal.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has ramped up its attacks against Iraqi civilians and Iraqi and U.S. security forces over the past 48 hours. The effort demonstrates that al Qaeda in Iraq still possesses the capacity to launch a counteroffensive to the ongoing U.S. and Iraqi operations and is seeking to influence the upcoming debate in the U.S. Al Qaeda in Iraq has launched its version of the Tet Offensive.

Over the past several days, al Qaeda in Iraq conducted five high-profile attacks against Iraqi and U.S. targets. Four out of five of the attacks occurred outside of Baghdad–two in Diyala province, two in Salahadin province. Three of the attacks were conducted with suicide bombers, the other two attacks were conducted as infantry-type assaults. …

U.S. generals have warned that violence is very likely to rise as al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist groups attempt to sabotage General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker’s presentation on the state of progress in Iraq. Al Qaeda will attempt more spectacular attacks in an attempt to grab headlines and break the will of the American public and political elites.

The next several weeks will display both al Qaeda’s capacity for terror strikes as well as the short-term results of the counterinsurgency plan instituted just eight months ago. As the past few days show, al Qaeda can still pull off spectacular attacks. But it should be noted that only one of these five strikes occurred inside Baghdad, and two were retaliatory strikes for local Iraqis turning against al Qaeda. A failure by al Qaeda to maintain a sustained offensive would speak volumes about the terror group’s current abilities.

Al Qaeda’s attempts to ramp up the violence in the short term and affect the debate in the U.S. may very well be unsuccessful, if recent statements from U.S. Democratic Congressmen are any indication. And these brutal assaults are only serving to turn the population against al Qaeda in the long term. Al Qaeda conducted similar suicide and infantry attacks in Anbar province in the spring of this year, only to see that province, which was once the most violent in Iraq, turn on the terror group.

The Pentagon is predicting further headline-grabbing attacks. IOL:

A senior US general warned on Thursday of “sensational” attacks during the upcoming Ramadan period in Iraq directed at swaying perceptions of a key upcoming US report on progress in the war there.

Brigadier General Richard Sherlock, deputy director for operational planning for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that insurgents are likely to attempt to make use of the coincident sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the onset of Ramadan, and the much-awaited US progress report to accelerate attacks in Iraq.

24 Aug 2007

Left Outraged Over Bush’s Vietnam War Reference

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Victims’ skulls on display at the Cheoung Ek “Killing Fields” memorial on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

John Podhoretz, in the New York Post, comments on the remarkable effusion of indignation resulting from George W. Bush treading on a sensitive spot in the collective conscience of the leftwing Establishment.

And so the world of conventional wisdom is even now rearing in horror at the mere thought of President Bush daring to compare the war in Iraq to the war in Vietnam – or, rather, describing the consequences of losing the war in Iraq by discussing the consequences of our loss in Vietnam and asking the American people if they want to see that disastrous past repeated as our inglorious future.

You could almost feel the outrage rising like steam heat from the left side of the blogosphere: Why, doesn’t that evil moron know that Vietnam is our analogy?

Doesn’t he know no one should be permitted to mention Vietnam in any context other than the one we use – as an example of an immoral, pointless and stupid war, a quagmire from which the nation was saved not by heroes on the battlefield abroad but by political opposition at home?

Read the whole thing.

24 Aug 2007

The Cowardice of the Intelligentsia

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Dr. Stephen Rittenberg think the roots of our liberal punditocracy’s pacificism can be found in childhood.

In that freewheeling world of the schoolyard, the good little girls and physically timid boys who craved teacher’s praise were at a disadvantage. The schoolroom was their utopia, where physical aggression was banned and all problems had a verbal solution. Girls are usually more verbally adept in the early childhood years and gain surplus praise from teachers. In addition, such children, including boys who crave teacher’s approval, receive moral approbation for being “good” while aggression is, “bad”. Hence the future wordsmith intellectual grows up feeling smarter, morally superior, a caring idealist.

These self-flattering views carry over to adulthood, and shape the future wordsmith intellectuals’ political views. If words can resolve all conflicts, then wordsmiths are exceedingly important. If conflicts within and between human beings can be “resolved” with words, then who better to play the role of savior than the wordsmith intellectual?

One of the central features of utopian politics, explaining their appeal to intellectuals, is the promise that conflict can be abolished and human nature fundamentally changed. Whether Communism, Nazism or Islamism, the aim is a unified, submissive, happy mankind led by an elite in possession of the truth, just like Miss Murphy when she taught 6th grade. Aggression will then vanish when egalitarian paradise prevails.

Read the whole thing.

07 Aug 2007

Good News For America, Bad News For Democrats

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Wesley Pruden admires the consternation of the democrats at the turning of the tide in Iraq.

It’s not easy to pimp surrender, but some of our congressional and media worthies are giving it their best shot.

It won’t be easy. Nobody but the loons think quitters, fakers, surrender monkeys and pessimists of various stripes are good custodians of the national interests, and the men and women who read the newspapers and magazines and watch the television newscasts are smarter than the men and women who write and preen for them. Americans are fed up with the Iraq war not because they think resisting jihad is wrong, but because they think the leaders at the top may not necessarily be serious about winning without apology. Anthony McAuliffe, who answered the German demand for surrender at Bastogne with “nuts” (if not something a little saltier), is the kind of general Americans admire most.

The risks for Democratic doom-criers are becoming evident. The accumulating evidence of progress, little by little, is changing public opinion. Media opinion will follow, slowly as always, and the sluggard notabilities of press and screen will be tugged — “kicking and screaming,” as the liberals once said of conservatives — into reality. The Democrats in Congress, like the embittered losers on the left, will be left behind on the other side of the famous bridge to the 21st century.

Cautious optimism is reflected in curious places. “The new U.S. military strategy in Iraq, unveiled six months ago to little acclaim, is working,” the Associated Press — no particular friend of George W. Bush — reports. The usual caveats follow: “It’s a phase with fresh promise yet the same old worry: Iraq may be too fractured to make whole.” And this: the U.S. military “cannot guarantee victory.” And this: “… it is far from certain that [the Iraqis] are capable of putting this shattered country together again.” American commanders are “clinging to a hope.” And “there is no magic formula for success.” Duh.

Nevertheless and grudging or not, things are reported to be better than they used to be, and seem to be getting a little better every day. It’s enough to make a partisan Democrat weep. Some are. Nancy Boyda of Kansas, a freshman in the House, was so unnerved by good news from the front that she stalked out of a committee hearing when a retired general described developments in Iraq as encouraging. Good news like that, she said, only “further divides the country.” Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democratic majority House whip, was even more revealing: If things improve in Iraq, that would be “a real problem for us.”

Fear began to creep into the Democratic consciousness a fortnight or so ago, replacing the happy confidence that America was taking the licking that would doom Republicans next year.

Read the whole thing.

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