The phrasing is deliberate. Nations don't fight wars, people do. You do. We need to consider what war is, and rethink how readily we embrace it. Our whimsical wars of the last twenty years led to this current one – it was the disconnect between government and governed that led to an interventionist foreign policy. Welcome to "blowback."
Because we have tolerated a warlike foreign policy and tied ourselves up in military alliances rather than minding our own business, we have found ourselves in a very unsettling war, where a vicious enemy is clinging relentlessly to the initiative. We are taking casualties and the nature of the war remains ambiguous. We know instinctively that this can and probably will get much worse. There are no obvious alternatives to fighting back yet no clear objectives. We won't know that we have won, if we win, for a long time. How can we tell there that are no terrorists left, until a lengthy time without terrorist incidents has passed?
How is that we find ourselves in such a mess?
In the early nineteen sixties there was a period one might characterize as transitional. In many ways it was still the fifties; you could walk the streets and the rock and roll was much better than now. The Beatles were still singing love songs and the generations were not yet in conflict. Vietnam was just smoldering and hadn't captured our consciousness yet despite the fact that no boy my age would have guessed that conscription might ever be abolished. We just accepted the inevitable call up as one of those things.
We viewed war as a way of life – we had grown up with air raid drills and it was always just there. Our parents and family had fought World War II, Korea was recent as well as the Russian tanks in Hungary and brush fire wars all over the world. We believed ourselves to be embattled with a fearsome, godless enemy, and there was no mistaking the fact that the USSR was loaded for bear and clearly a wicked place. We assumed too much and trusted government too much – we still believed that government was us but had allowed it to quietly become a force of its own, a power unto itself. We had stopped trusting in God and our national cohesion was about to take a nose dive from which it has yet to recover.
So we were unable or unwilling to examine each new war on its own merits – Vietnam appeared to us, initially, as a part of the ongoing saga of protecting ourselves and others from a monolithic communist threat from Russia. That there was some merit to that line of thinking can be seen to this day in vacation spots like Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea.
So we almost casually slid into a major war without apprehending a specific threat to ourselves, merely an abstract one. We lived, and some died, regretting our inattention to that detail.
During the sixties, it was in retrospect; as if someone or some thing had cast a dark shadow over America, and the light has never been the same again. The road down hill has been a short one. It all started with that miserable war. We should have known better.
For it is a fact that war is so horrible that the Bible mentions it only in the contexts of calamity. War is a punishment upon the people who fight it – regardless of who wins a lot of families lose. It is to be avoided at all costs and must be the last resort, never the first.
War is only justified when the enemy is physically attacking you because there is that little precept rattling around in the backs of our heads, "You shall not murder…" Killing in any cause save self defense is murder, and that includes aggressive war such as the US waged in Kosovo. The ways of God are the right ways – all other paths lead to death. If he says "don't murder", He means it. It is for our own good and we suffer when we ignore His will. There is no changing that; some things are immutable. Despite the secularization of America, God still whispers that to us and restrains us.
Our history and fundamental beliefs impose a restraint upon us that may be part of our problem "In for a penny, in for a pound?" Not us. We are no longer a God fearing Republic but neither are we very effective as an empire. Any previous empire would simply have occupied the Middle East long ago and been done with it. Our form of empire benefits very few of us. It also means that we are a house divided against itself since we have not bothered to form a national consensus on empire, it just sort of happened. There is no mistaking that with the growth of empire, there has been a corresponding loss of individual freedom here at home.
Now we find ourselves in a nasty little war against people who wish to kill us in large numbers for reasons that are being described rather childishly as an "attack on freedom itself!" Whatever the reasons, it is necessary to stop these people by force of arms. The built in contradictions of two nations occupying the same geographical area have never been more apparent. The "red zone" and the "blue zone" are reacting differently as might be expected but this kind of nonsense cannot but hurt us in time of war.
There are loud outcries about our planes hitting civilian targets, by accident or design. If you believe CNN our forces are similar morally to those of Attila the Hun. But this is not so – I do believe that the US forces are making it a point to slaughter as few innocents in this war as possible. If the military were told to, they could level Kabul easily; that they have not done so says something. I also believe that in criticizing these civilian "hits" we are truly missing the message. This is war, this is what happens in war, it is horrific and we should have thought of that before getting ourselves into this mess.
Americans have come to believe that the use of force is justified in the national interest, much like our supposed cousins, the British. Conventional morality suggests that to be in error – that war is only justified in the national defense. There is a significant difference but we have too often missed that.
Our current war must be won, although I'm not sure how. I'm just glad I haven't been called upon to be in charge of target acquisition. This war probably needs to be revaluated because I fear we are dancing to the enemy's tune. I do know this, that if people keep sending us poison pills and pull off even one more World Trade Center like "stunt," that we are in for some serious social turmoil here. That too is part of war. We dare not say that we did not know nor believe that wars should be fought this way – not after Dresden and Tokyo.
The enemy will not enjoy what that will bring them either for while they are calling the shots now, a few more such "stunts" and the government will feel pressured to unload the whole tamale and that will be the end of Islam in this world. The terrorists too are forgetting history if they ignore this possibility. God only knows where that could lead.
For now, they have us fighting shadows. We are surprised and annoyed by their methods. We are alarmed that the enemy is fighting us in a new way – well hello….
With our missiles, smart bombs and jet planes it is pointless to fight America in conventional warfare. Desert Storm was in part, an act of "gunboat diplomacy" – we let the Fuzzy Wuzzies know just what we could do to all that second hand Russian rubbish that filled their armories. They had to cook up a plan that negated our superior firepower. It appears that they have.
It looks like it will get worse and there is no "before it gets better" to round off that statement. Perhaps there is one good thing coming out of this – political correctness has been shown to be a silly farce foisted upon us by people who are of no use to us now that reality has arrived. They are being mocked openly and shouted down when they start to pontificate. All but the very silly are aware that we cannot sit back and let people kill us, never mind the wonders of diversity and multiculturalism. Academe is revealed in all it's pathetic banality to those few who had missed what those leftist rascals have been up to. Despite the government and media prattling about Islam as a religion of peace, no one is buying it. Illegal aliens can forget amnesty too, at least for now. Even liberals are arming themselves with big nasty guns – forgetting for the interim that "violence only begets more violence". The people do have some power after all, and reality is like a bucket of cold water in the face.
The people sadly doe not have the power to turn back the clock and make this war go away. It is too late for that. We have to live through this if we can, and then if we are very smart and very determined, we have to find a better way to do our national business. We have seen in a very short time that war is far too terrible to embrace except as a last resort.
Here are some verities about war, in no particular order:
- We always forget how dreadful it is. There are the horrific moments of combat and bombing and shelling; there are the tedious hours and days of waiting. The civilian population gradually experiences shortages, often direct attack, and ultimately, their fortune is in the hands of the soldiers, and their leaders, the politicians. That statement should not give you any particular comfort. A few years of peace and we've swept it under the rug and off we go again.
- It is not good for the economy. How does it help the economy that a lot of tanks are built? Can I drive one around? They are only useful in war. I suppose it's good for the folks down at the Cruise Missile Plant but all in all, war is a negative draw on the economy. I concede that we may well need tanks and jets, but it is silly to pretend that having them benefits us economically. World War II saw some economic plus indicators but consider that one of them was the end of unemployment – easily accomplished by putting twelve million men in uniform at the expense of the taxpayers.
- War is hell on the gene pool. Have you considered that one? Who volunteers first to go save the country? Are you aware of the casualty tables for infantry and armor in high intensity war? Wartime censors cut the pictures of dead Marines floating in the tide at Tarawa but the men did not come home and it was no mystery what happened to them, our finest. Hitler's soldiers in 1939 where the best in the world, by 1945 he was fielding "special attack commandos" composed of kids on bicycles with anti tank rocket launchers (panzerfaust). Where had all the young men gone, eh?
- It will always be much worse than you imagined it would be. World War II started off with gallant Polish Cavalry breaking their lances on the armored hides of what were actually quite primitive German tanks. By the end of it Eastern Europe from the Oder to the Urals and on to Siberia was a place of concentration camps and weapons factories. Millions were dead, Europe was desolate and whole populations were starving. The atomic bomb had been used, missile bombardment of major cities had begun and it was only a question of time before the war planners put two and two together and we began the fifty-year stand off with nuclear tipped missiles.
- War almost never improves things. We won the Cold War and now it seems that we are being attacked with weapons grade Anthrax made by and for the Soviets – whose collapse was heralded rightly as a great victory for freedom. The Soviets themselves never attacked us with it. World War II ended with millions of Europeans under the iron heel of the Communists, including Poland for whom the English and French had gone to war in the first place. Vietnam ended in a victory for the Left, both in Vietnam and America. We are still enjoying the consequences of that little row.
- War has long term consequences. Consider the War Between the States as example. Slavery, now claimed as the ostensible reason for the war, was being abolished world wide so that abolition was only a question of time – we could have avoided all the civil rights nonsense and racial strife had men saw fit to let other men make their own choices. The war was also about tariffs and while high taxes are a pain in the neck – losing nearly half your young men to death or mutilation is a stone nightmare. That is exactly what happened to the South. The North lost more but to a larger population – yet still nearly quit from sheer exhaustion and horror. Who could have predicted what a tragedy it would become for both sides. The only recent war experience those folks had experienced was the Mexican War which was not exactly a harbinger of things to come. Both sides imagined they were fighting for freedom, and both sides have had very damn little of it since. To say that war accomplished any good requires an agenda I can't subscribe to, typically a statist one.
It is those folks we refer to as "statists" and their friends the neo-conservatives who imagine that war is merely another of several policy options. Like their purported opponents on the left, they tend to start a lot of wars and then somebody else has to finish them. They imagine war to be good because it increases their power over us rabble. They believe in the State as a means to an end, an end that is never clarified.
Many of us still labor under the illusion that there is some kind of dichotomy between the Democrats and Republicans when in fact there is not a dime's worth of difference. I'm not sure anymore what we should call those who represent the Republic and believe in freedom but I'm starting to feel dicey about calling myself a conservative. To many left wing camels poking their noses under that particular tent these days. I see too many conservatives embracing socialists, democrats and other creatures of the left, as some kind of "loyal opposition." Bipartisanship is touted as a good thing but where does that leave us? Who will speak against the empire? What about all of us who long for the old American dream of freedom and independence from all that foreign entanglement nonsense? So for now I believe I'll just call myself a Johnny Reb and see what happens. Neither political party likes us Rebels too much and that must count for something.
Maybe we should take the language back along with the country.
There are in America, many lazy people who refuse to acknowledge their duty as citizens of the Republic. The state controlled media and public school system have a lot to do with that but serfs will find their masters and freedom is actually a lot of work anyhow – "let the masters lead", they say. I suggest that the next time Americans choose masters for themselves; they select a better breed. This bunch has given us political correctness, a flawed foreign policy, mass migration beyond any hope of assimilation, and now war.
The alternative would be to not have masters, and to govern ourselves as the founders intended. But like I said, it's a lot of work. War is a lot of work too, and will ultimately consume us if we don't find a better way. An America with real men working hard to build a real republic, with plenty of weapons, high fences, and free trade is the only way I can see to avoid wars. It is much better to trade with people than to kill them. It is not our business what kind of government they have – ultimately, that is their affair and if we can show them a good example, so much the better. We can try that or we can go on as we are, blundering into whatever comes down the pike.
Let me state that now is the time to remember the words of our worst president, William Clinton, “When we got organized as a country … we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans…” He spoke the truth for once, but of course by accident and he was using the truth to propagate an evil agenda. He was complaining that we have too much freedom. We should remember his words as a stern warning of what the politicians really want and act accordingly, rather than passively. We must always remember those words – our birthright is a radical amount of individual freedom! Why on earth would we not cherish that?
October 20, 2001