Monday, March 27, 2006

Reasons for War and Perseverence

Since posting “The Marines Will Eat the Lions” I have been engaged in a debate with my good friend Tom. Here is a synopsis of Tom’s argument, in his own words.

Interesting, Holiday is 40. It seems we can use the older people for something, certainly for driving trucks over bombs. I hope our military are NOT "Spartans." After all, Sparta was a dictatorship, unlike Athens.

I am not anti-military. I had an Uncle on the Yalu in Korea and both my wife and I have had other family members in various wars. My point is not to be a malcontent but to suggest that the burden of warfare should fall on everyone, in particular its most enthusiastic supporters. No doubt you or I would not qualify for special operations. But driving fuel trucks is different. Every serious war we had in the past included a draft. Sure I respect other views, but can't mine be offered and discussed as well (at least for so little much longer as we remain a democracy and unless and until I am declared an enemy combatant)?

In the past this nation has debated its involvement abroad. I guess if you want to you can label anyone opposed to a military mission as anti- military. What's the mission in Iraq? Saddam al Tikriti (aka Hussein) is gone. It seems the current mission is to intervene in a civil war but not on any particular side. Seems we are fixing to repeat Thermopolae. Who and what are our soldiers dying for? And why is it anti-military to ask this question?

Tom’s initial thrust was that old guys should sign up to drive fuel trucks over bombs. He segued into the moral imperative of a military draft so that the wealthy and children of political leaders serve as well. Then Tom questioned the mission and what our soldiers are dying for. Finally he asked why it is “anti-military” to ask these questions.

Disposing first of the silliness, I noted that “Holiday is Special Forces; that means he is special, not like you or me. You are not too old to try to join up. Here's betting they won't take you. ”

The question of a military draft is easily answered. There are warriors and there are the rest of us. In the Revolutionary War, the Scots-Irish were the warriors. In the World Wars we did not have enough warriors so we needed a draft. The Greatest Generation did us proud in WWII. My Dad and most of my uncles served in Germany and Lee’s Dad died in the Pacific.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the military enfeeblement of Western Europe, the United States is the world's only superpower. With overwhelming military superiority, we no longer need a huge number of combat soldiers. The military is now entirely voluntary and is the most effective and enthusiastic in our history. And the canard about only the poor enlisting is not borne out by the facts. The volunteer military is more educated than the population at large, and many children of famous people are serving. Doctor Laura opens her daily radio program with “I am the proud mom of an American soldier. Hoooaah!”

Now let’s address the serious question: What's the mission in Iraq? This was debated endlessly before the invasion, in the Congress, in the press and on the world stage. The simple reason was to make America safer by taking the fight to the enemy. Congress approved overwhelmingly and has consistently authorized military appropriations for the last four years. Thus approved, the US military went to war. That is when Americans stop debating the causes and throw their entire support behind the troops.

Yet the main-stream media, some politicians and the lefties don’t want military success. They seek the Vietnam conclusion, US embarrassment, and are willing to sell out the Iraqis (again) like we did the South Vietnamese.

Christopher Hitchens (“The End of Fukuyama,” Slate, 3/1/06) asks the three questions that anyone developing second thoughts about the Iraq conflict must answer: “Was the George H.W. Bush administration right to confirm Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait in 1991? Is it right to say that we had acquired a responsibility for Iraq, given past mistaken interventions and given the great moral question raised by the imposition of sanctions? And is it the case that another confrontation with Saddam was inevitable; those answering "yes" thus being implicitly right in saying that we, not he, should choose the timing of it?”

Last week Hitchens spoke of the ideal war. (“My Ideal War” Slate 3/20/06) “So, now I come at last to my ideal war. Let us start with President Bush's speech to the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002, which I recommend that you
read. Contrary to innumerable sneers, he did not speak only about WMD and terrorism, important though those considerations were. He presented an argument for regime change and democracy in Iraq and said, in effect, that the international community had tolerated Saddam's deadly system for far too long. Who could disagree with that?”

But like all liberal arguments, once you have answered points 1, 2 , 3, … N, the next point, N+1, is: “It seems the current mission is to intervene in a civil war but not on any particular side.”

Here I will borrow from Mark Steyn (“Down With Stability” The Jerusalem Post, 3/22/06): “I see the western press has pretty much given up on calling the Ba'athist dead-enders and foreign terrorists "insurgents" presumably because they were insurging so ineffectually. So now it's a "civil war." Remember what a civil war looks like? Generally, they have certain features: large-scale population movements, mutinous units in the armed forces, rival governments springing up, rebels seizing the radio station. None of these are present in Iraq. The slavering western media keep declaring a civil war every 48 hours but those layabout Iraqis persist in not showing up for it.”

“True, there's a political stalemate in Baghdad at the moment, but that's not a catastrophe: if you read the very federal Iraqi constitution carefully, the ingenious thing about it is that it's not just a constitution but also a pre-nup. If the Sunni hold-outs are determined to wreck the deal, 85% of the Iraqi population will go their respective ways creating a northern Kurdistan that would be free and pro-western and a southern Shiastan that would still be the most democratic state in the Arab world. That outcome would also be in America's long-term interest.”

In closing, I’ll direct Tom and any other doubters to Katelyn Sills, our youngest Western Alliance blogger, who has it figured out, at age 15.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well done. I will formulate a response when I can.


10:28 AM  

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