Is Europe worth saving?

American troops parading through Paris WWIICommentary Magazine ran a post asking “Can American Save Europe Again?” It seems to me that the better question is should America save Europe again? Europe is certainly a repository of some of the world’s greatest art and architecture, not to mention some damn fine food, but I am not feeling the love for Europeans, who always seem to learn the wrong lessons from history.

The problem, as I see it, with continental Europe is that it has absolutely no tradition of individual liberty. It is statist to the bone. Whether Europeans are indulging in garden-variety-dictatorships, medieval/Renaissance theocracies, monarchies, aristocracies, oligarchies, socialist parties (communist or otherwise), or rule by bureaucrat (i.e., the EU), the European model is always directed at total state control. That’s why there is no conservative movement in Europe, as we in America understand conservatism.

To Americans, conservativism means small government, free markets, and maximum individual liberty, a belief in the common man’s energy, imagination, and initiative that paved the way for America’s dynamic emergence on the world stage in the 20th century. To Europeans, being “right wing” or “conservative” still means total government control — it just means total government control with varying degrees of nationalism, as opposed to all those other -isms, thrown in.  The European “right-winger” still wants his government checks and government regulations.  It’s just that he just doesn’t want the “other,” whomever that other happens to be (sometimes Muslims, sometimes Roma, sometimes Italians or Greeks, and always Jews) to live with him under that tight government control.

Europe’s obsession with citizen control, whether it comes through the socialist party, the communist party, the church, the bureaucracy, the aristocracy, or the monarchy, may go some way to explaining Europe’s endless hostility to the Jews — the Jews have never and will never yielded to state control. They can be confined to ghettos or forced into a narrow range of professions or even routinely slaughtered, but they still insist on being Jews. They refuse to bow down to anyone but their God.

How frustrating for control freak nations to have these stubborn people living among them. If they are that stubborn, they must be dangerous. And in a total control society, when something appears dangerous, you must destroy it.

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[VIDEO] A clear graphic representation of WWII’s staggering slaughter . . . and the fact that the world is doing better since then

Battle of StalingradThis video is an extraordinary visual representation of the demographic catastrophe that was WWII, as well as the staggering number of individual tragedies that WWII represents. It’s also an uplifting reminder that the world does actually seem to have made some progress.

Because of my obsession with governments that support or deny individual liberty, I also found the video a useful reminder that totalitarian governments view their own citizens as little more than cannon fodder and their enemies’ citizens as even less than that. (Around WWII, the major players amongst totalitarian governments were Germany, the Soviet Union, China, and Japan all of which suffered and imposed staggering military and civilian deaths.) While the Allies during WWII, were certainly less respectful of their enemies’ civilian population than Western armies are today, and they threw more soldiers into the battle than our armies do, when held up against the totalitarian nations’ way of waging war, the Allies still look good, even in retrospect.

Speaking of totalitarian disregard for human life, the video was made in May 2015, so it misses the Syrian civil war and the rise of ISIS. Otherwise seems accurate enough — and certainly jives with my more facile understanding of 20th and 21st century wars around the world.

At 18 minutes, the video is a bit longer than most videos that I usually have the time or the patience to watch, but I found it so mesmerizing, I couldn’t stop:

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.

You can learn more about the project here.

The Republican primary debate — open thread

Republican debateI watched about 30 minutes of the debate.  I missed the beginning because I was taking care of business, and I tuned out after 30 minutes because my feed broke down.  What little I did watch still left me with a few impressions about the field.

Before I begin, let me recommend to you an article from Breitbart that is really a predicate to deciding which of the Republican candidates you like best: “A Stark Choice: Ted Cruz’s Jacksonian Americanism vs. Marco Rubio’s Wilsonian Internationalism.

The article boils the foreign policy issue (which the Constitution gives to the president) down to two world views: The Wilson world view is that we have to intervene all over the world to make it a better place, and that it’s shameful to win wars; instead we have to make peace.  The Jackson view is that we shouldn’t fight a war that doesn’t directly benefit us, but when we fight, we fight to win. Wilsonians would say a safer world indirectly benefits us, making intervention wars worthwhile. Jacksonians would say that too many of our wars have not only failed to give us any benefit, they’ve been very bad for us, especially because — as Obama exemplifies — we shouldn’t win.

Given ISIS’s role in the world, it’s useful to get a handle on the candidates’ fundamental foreign policy orientation.

(The rest of what I’m going to say is un-researched stream-of-consciousness stuff, based solely on my own often faulty memory.  If I’ve made mistakes (and I’m sure I have), feel free to correct me.  I only ask that you be kind when you do.)

I tried to use this Jackson/Wilson divide as a filter by which to view 20th century wars and found it a little confusing, to say the least. America automatically sided with England against Germany because America had her roots in England. In fact, though, from the standpoint of America’s interests, there really was little to choose between England and Germany. If it weren’t for German perfidy, as revealed in the Zimmerman telegram, it’s entirely likely that Wilson really would have kept his pledge to keep America out of the continental war.

As it was, once Wilson got a taste of American military power, he began to believe that it was America’s manifest destiny to bring goodness and light to the whole world — without any actual benefit to America, something that would have been just too, too crass and self-interested. Ironically enough, given Wilson’s “world peace” vision, it was because America tilted the war in Britain’s favor that Germany not only lost, it ended up so destabilized that the anarchic 1920s created the perfect power vacuum for the rise of the Nazis.

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The Bookworm Beat 11-5-15 — Guy Fawkes edition, Part 2

Woman-writing-300x265I’ve still got a few more things I want to share with you tonight, so consider this Part 2 for the day (with Part 1 here).

The coming (and inevitable) Leftist implosion

Every time I read a Kevin Williamson article, I like his writing and thinking just a little bit more. In one of his latest outings, about the inevitable fissures on the Left (as exemplified by (1) the way Black Lives Matters activists are attacking old, white Bernie and Hillary, and (2) the way the black/Hispanic majority in very Leftist Houston nevertheless voted down men in women’s restrooms), Williams has the following wonderful lines:

The challenge for the Left is that while the Republican party is mainly a coalition of ideologies, the Democratic party is mainly a coalition of interest groups, and the current model of Democratic politics — poor and largely non-white people providing the muscle and rich white liberals calling the shots — is unsustainable. The social attitudes of non-white voters are pretty plainly not those of white liberals, and, at the same time — and probably more significant — the economic interests of white liberals are pulling away from those of the people in whose interest they purport to act. Hispanic immigrants and urban blacks make below-average wages; public-school administrators and other government employees make wages that are well above average. There aren’t a lot of people in Cleveland’s Glenville who give a fat furry rat’s patootie how much interest Caitlyn from Bryn Mawr is paying on the student loans that financed her women’s-studies degree. If you’re wondering why Democrats lean so deeply into the racial rhetoric — Joe Biden’s shameful “They want to put y’all back in chains!” etc. — that’s a big part of your answer.

Rich Lowry’s article nails why I don’t trust Rubio

Marco Rubio is bright, articulate, focused, conservative, and telegenic. I ought to like him . . . but I just don’t. I’ve been pfumphering around for a while trying to put my finger on my problem with him and I think it really does boil down to his support for amnesty:

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“Let’s remember Pearl Harbor!”

Burning ships at Pearl Harbor

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because of the 2,402 Americans killed there.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because it catapulted us into an incredibly bloody war for dominance over the Pacific.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because, within a few days, Hitler also declared war on America, so that America found herself a combatant in the biggest war in the world’s history.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America’s participation in the European theater was the main thing that beat back Hitler’s genocidal bid for world domination (Britain had done her best, but couldn’t do it alone).

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America’s participation in the Pacific theater was the  main thing that beat back Japan’s genocidal bid for domination over the Pacific.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America, after utterly destroying Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II, stuck around to build them up again as peaceful, economically successful republican democracies that have been our allies, not our enemies.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because, pretty much until Obama quit doing the job, it marked the beginning of America’s role as the world’s policeman, protecting as many people as possible from the “peaceful graveyard” that is communism as well has our efforts to protect as many people as possible from sharia’s murderous hands.

Friday’s “tame the inbox,” Part 2

I’m back with more.

Did you know that Afghanistan was declared a gun-free zone?  Well, if you didn’t, you’re right.  But this is a great satire anyway.

Have you heard of a site called Patriotic Voices?  (I do seem to be full of questions, don’t I?)  It’s a forum for conservatives.  It’s got very attractive formatting and interesting content.  If you look at the main page, there are new posts, although people don’t seem to be commenting. However, if you go to the forum page, it’s quite busy.  Check it out and, if you feel so inclined, come back here and let us know what you think.

Although blacks, sadly, suffer the greatest number of gun homicides, their voices are surprisingly quiet when it comes to the Second Amendment debate.  Digital Publius, however, did weigh in and I like what he had to say.

And now, below the fold, some wonderful WWII posters.  Looking at them is a reminder that part of why we were unable to come to a satisfying conclusion with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is the fact that our government never fought the war at home.  I’m certainly not saying it should have silenced the opposition, which would have made a travesty of what America is all about.  However, Bush’s government never advocated for the war either.  The Bush administration, which was afraid to speak the enemy’s name, never educated Americans about why we fought and never made Americans feels that they had a vested interest in see us win.

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When are we going to admit that there is a war going on between us and radical Islam?

I’m guessing that a majority of Americans (a slim majority, but still a majority) know that America entered WWII because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  What few stop to consider is why we ended up fighting, not only the Japanese who had just bombed us, but the Germans as well, since they, after all, had not yet done anything to us.  The answer to that unasked question is that, for reasons known only to a megalomaniac, a few days after the Pearl Harbor attack, Hitler declared war on the United States.  The United States took up the challenge with gusto.  Within months, America had become a war machine, cranking out ships, tanks, guns, airplanes, and trained troops.  If Hitler hadn’t acted, Germany might have won the war.  England, after all, was on the ropes by the time America came in to help out.

It’s a little chilling to think that, were we to replay December 1941 with Obama in the White House, America would simply have ignored Germany’s declaration of war.  We would have heard that we have no quarrel with the Germans, who are a peaceful people, except of course for a handful of madmen.  We would have been told that, if these madmen killed our citizens, we would bring the actual killers to justice, but that we had no quarrel with the nations or ideology that gave birth to those killers and that are hard at work to raise an army of madmen.

As our administration and media talked, Hitler would have tightened his grip on Europe; fought a single front war against the Soviet Union; killed all the Jews, Gypsies, mentally disabled, and homosexuals in Europe; and then enslaved all Slavs and Communists (never mind that Naziism was a variation of socialism itself).   At the end of the day, our government would have said that we’re scarcely in a position to criticize the Nazis, since America was once a slave country itself.  Congress would then have announced economic sanctions, but the Executive office would have failed to enforce them.

But we don’t need a hyp0thetical December 1941 to imagine what our current administration would do.  We can watch it in real-time today.  There is a saying that “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt” — and it’s funny that you should mention Egypt right now.  As if 9/11/01 and 9/11/02 weren’t strong enough declarations of war, Islamist clerics are actively calling all Egyptians to wage war against the west, starting with kidnapping:

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged Egyptians to restart their revolution to press for Islamic law and called on Muslims to kidnap Westerners, the SITE Intelligence Group said Friday.

In a video released on jihadist forums and translated by the US monitoring service, Zawahiri also lashed out at President Barack Obama, calling him a liar and demanding he admit defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan and North Africa.

Criticizing the new Egyptian government — led by a president drawn from the Muslim Brotherhood — as corrupt, he said a battle is being waged in Egypt between a secular minority and Muslims seeking implementation of Shariah law.

I’ll admit that this is a challenging war because we are fighting, not a single nation, but a geographically diffuse ideology, but it is still war.  After all, what do you call it when a vast and recognizable group of individuals announces that it intends to kill and enslave your people, and then uses arms to carry out that promise?

We should be addressing this war on all fronts:  militarily, economically, and ideologically.  Instead, we are pretending it’s not happening.  To give credit where it’s due, George W. Bush figured out the military part and, with Iran, the economic part.  His problem, though, was that, as leader of a pluralist country, but he couldn’t bring himself to break through political correctness to admit that we are at war with a huge ideological foe.  After all, many Americans who are good, decent people share the same label (i.e., “Muslim”) as that foe. We confuse linguistic nuances with substance.

A problem of nomenclature, though, should not be allowed to obscure the fact that we have an active, resolute, powerful, and devious enemy.  We therefore do not fight that foe by excusing it.  Instead, we fight it by using every breath of free speech to challenge it in every way possible — debate, media, leaflets dropped from airplanes, and whatever else could work.

Obama has been the ultimate Islamist apologist.  He has only half-heartedly imposed sanctions against Iran, given a blank check to the Palestinians (who are a front in this Islamist jihad), weakened Israel (which is an ally in this existential battle), demoralized troops and energized enemies in Afghanistan by setting a certain pull-out date, and undermined a nascent democracy in Iraq by pulling out all troops without leaving a provisional force.  As for what just happened in Benghazi, that’s a chapter in itself, one that includes institutional cowardice and politicizing, lying, cover-ups and, with the imprisonment of a video maker, the destruction of our First Amendment.

Not only is Obama not much of a leader, he’s totally unsuited to military leadership.  You have to love your country to lead your military.  Obama doesn’t.  You have to believe in your country’s values to lead your military.  Obama doesn’t.  You have to courage to lead your military.  Obama doesn’t.  At every level, in every way, Obama fails as a military leader.  Let’s fire him from the job before it’s too late and we find ourselves defeated in the war we continue to pretend doesn’t exist.

Let’s do the time warp again — Progressives keep urging those failed economic policies

The Huffington Post is one of the ugliest websites I’ve ever seen.  I’m not talking about content (although I’ll get to that), but about its layout.  The left-most column (and that turns out to be a very clever pun on my part) actually has some visual stability, insofar as it allows the hapless visitor to grasp what content the various blogs are offering.  The central column and right columns, however, are a disorganized amalgam of pictures and one- or two-word summaries of underlying stories.  Even I, an adept at reading the internet, find that these summaries range from cryptic to unintelligible.  Even worse, they keep resetting automatically, so it’s difficult to find a story that, one or two minutes before, might have caught my interest.

Having had occasion to read the substantive articles at HuffPo, I’m beginning to wonder whether this home page chaos is intentional, insofar as it’s meant to keep people away from content.  I mean, if I was the one publishing Robert Kuttner’s article about the American economy, I’d be so embarrassed as the publisher that I too would want to use subterfuge and prestidigitation to keep people away.

Kuttner, bless his little ol’ heart, is someone who seems to have missed the last 80 years.  More than that, he’s missed any sophisticated analysis of the last 80 years.  His economic understanding is rooted in post-New Deal 8th grade American history textbooks that assured credulous youngsters that even FDR’s best efforts at centralizing America’s economy failed, making WWII an economic necessity.  I kid you not:

Something similar [to today’s economic problems] happened in the late 1930s. Though economic growth returned, it wasn’t strong enough to repair the damage of the Great Depression or create enough jobs. Despite the New Deal, unemployment remained stuck at around 12 percent.

World War II solved the problem — it was the greatest accidental economic stimulus in economic history. It put people back to work, retrained the unemployed, and recapitalized industry. But today, there is nothing in the wings waiting to play the role of the Second World War.

During the war, federal deficits averaged more than 25 percent of GDP, nearly triple today’s deficits. But that’s what it took to blast out of the depression. After the war, high growth rates paid down the accumulated national debt.

Anyone who had read Amity Shlaes’ very accessible The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression knows that Kuttner’s view of the 1930s is based upon Progressive propaganda, rather than economic facts. Shlaes cut through this gauzy reminiscent haze about the glories of New Deal Democratic politics, and looked at the economic numbers in the 1930s.

With actual data, Shlae’s ably demonstrates that Hoover, like Roosevelt, tried to manage the post-crash economy, and with equally deleterious results. Fortunately, because he was essentially conservative, Hoover’s efforts were tentative, and therefore not deeply destructive.  Sadly, the 1932 election came along before the economy had a chance to right itself from Hoover’s tepid efforts at market management.

With FDR’s New Deal firmly in place, there was no hope. FDR sucked money out of the economy and into the government, paralyzing wealth creation.  Since this economic experiment was the first of its kind in America, however, and because people bought into FDR’s ebullience and optimism (something sadly lacking in the dour, accusatory man living in the White House today), people cheered the sizzle and ignored the fact that it was, in fact, a scratchy recording, unaccompanied by actual steak.

When World War II came along, it had the virtue of providing almost full employment for the American public. Significantly, although the government was writing the checks, this wasn’t make-work. The U.S. needed to build ships, tanks, planes, and weapons, and it needed bodies in the field. In other words, this was the rare occasion when a centralized command and control economy was geared towards efficiency, rather than simply producing low employment numbers.

Normally, the opposite is true — that is, output is irrelevant — in a government-run economy. Milton Friedman nailed the problem with a government’s make-work “economy” when he delivered his pithy challenge to the whole notion of “shovel-ready jobs”:

Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

Busy work does not create economic dynamism. It simply allows a government to boast about its low unemployment. Eventually, the government runs out of money, and then you have . . . Greece.

What Kuttner also fails to grasp with his erroneous Depression/WWII analysis is that part of the US’s enormous economic success in the post-war era was the fact that it was the only Western or Eastern country that hadn’t seen its infrastructure (and population) destroyed by the War. England and Germany, which had led the free world in manufacturing before the War, had seen virtually every one of their factories wiped out. Those few English factories that survived the war were firmly rooted in the 19th Century, and the stagnant socialist economy that followed the war meant that these factories stayed mired in the past.

WWII  also spelled the end of Empire.  England and other former imperialist powers didn’t have their previous unemployment safety valves, nor did they have ready access to the rare materials that had once powered their manufacturing.

Russia had lost perhaps 20,000,000 people, which was a heavy burden when added to the 20-30,000,000 that Stalin killed in the 30s. Add to this the inefficiencies of a Communist “economy,” and you can see that Russia wasn’t going to stand in America’s way.

In other words, it wasn’t just that America was so good after the war; it was also that everything else was so bad. Right now, under Obama, we have the worst of all possible worlds, which is that both America and the rest of the world are in dire straits. By copying the world’s disastrous economies, America is unable to rise above them.

In addition to misunderstanding the 30s, 40s, and 50s, Kuttner seems to have slept through the 80s and the aughts. I vividly remember Jimmy Carter’s malaise economy, consisting in equal parts of inflation and stagflation. I remember, too, the uproar when Reagan insisted on unleashing capitalism’s power. Sublimely locked into my juvenile Leftism, I absolutely refused to acknowledge that it was Reagan’s commitment to the marketplace that enabled me, a young lawyer, to step into a thriving economy, complete with an obscene salary. I’m glad to say that, in 2001, when Bush pushed through his tax cuts, I’d matured enough to realize that the best way to allow economic growth is to trust “We, the people” with the money, leaving to the government the job of creating a stable environment that doesn’t see wealth creators (individuals and businesses) constantly trying to hide their money from an avaricious, inefficient, frequently corrupt bureaucracy.

Working from a mountain of ignorance, amnesia, misconceptions, and misapprehensions, Kuttner assures HuffPo’s hapless readers that the only way to end Obama’s economy is to raise taxes on the producers and have the government provide jobs for the unemployed — unaware, apparently, that this is precisely what Roosevelt did in 1932, and what led to a 12 year long Depression:

What’s needed today is a massive investment program, to shift the economy to a clean energy path, modernize infrastructure, increase productivity — and along the way create millions of good jobs and restore consumer purchasing power. Then, the vicious circle could be reversed.

The problem is that neither party is proposing such a program. It is entirely outside mainstream debate.

President Obama is willing to have the federal government spend more money. But he has partly bought the story that deficit reduction has to come first. The Republicans would further gut the public sector.

Contrary to the conventional view that deficit reduction would somehow “restore confidence” and increase business investment, that’s not how economies work. Businesses invest when they see customers with open wallets. Though the Congressional Budget Office projects higher growth returning around 2014, it bases these projections on a “return to trend.” There is no plausible story about where the higher growth will come from.

Kuttner is certain that, if Obama can just get four more years, everyone in America will eventually get a spoon. Then the American people can start digging their little holes, and the government can boast about its Soviet-style full employment.

A couple more fallacies in Kuttner’s thinking:

First, Kuttner, who insists that WWII was the best economic engine possible, was against the War in Iraq. Why was that? He should have been celebrating the economic opportunities, and shilled it as WWIII.

Second, Kuttner, in common with all the Progressives, keeps nattering on about revitalizing America’s infrastructure with “green” energy products. He makes this argument even though (a) the government’s “green energy” bets have failed at a terrible cost to the American budget (Solyndra, anyone?); and (b) the strangulation of rules and regulations (especially environmental rules and regs) in the last 30 years means that it’s virtually impossible to complete a big infrastructure job, or even to begin one.

As to the malignant effect of hyper-regulation, here’s just one example proving that the Hoover Dam era is dead and gone: The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge partially collapsed in 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. That collapse proved conclusively that the original eastern half of the Bridge (built in 1936) was a seismic disaster.

In a pre-regulatory era, it’s very likely that the Bridge could have been rebuilt, both quickly and economically. In modern American, though, by the time the new structure is completed (maybe) in September 2013, it will have taken 24 years to rebuild just half the bridge, at a cost no less than $6.3 billion — a mere $6.1 billion dollars over the original estimate.

Kuttner’s post is the triumph of theory over fact. Kuttner was clearly the good little boy back in the 1970s, carefully studying his generic history textbook, and locking away in his brain forever all the Leftist fallacies about economic growth and the glory days of a government controlled economy. He is the poster child for the fact that, while the first Obama term has pushed us to the edge of the economic cliff, a second one will most assuredly push us over.

Remembering D-Day, 68 years later

Many people forget, or never knew, that the war in Europe was virtually non-existent before June 6, 1944.  Until that time, the Nazi’s had successfully repulsed Allied efforts to bring the war to European soil.  The Nazis owned the land in Europe.  Sure, there were aerial bombing raids, spies, in-country resistance movements, etc., but that didn’t stop Nazi dominance.  What stopped it was good, old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground warfare — and that warfare began with the first wave on D-Day.

I have never, never, never been able to imagine the feelings of the men in the first wave, seasick, cold, wet, rushing into sure death.  My brain just doesn’t take me there.  All I know is that the free world owes these men, and the waves of them who followed them to such places as Bastogne and Berlin, their undying gratitude.

To each of those men, I can only say, I salute you, sir!

[Photo deleted, because it was a film shot — I knew it was too well-framed to be true….]

Our very literate military

One of my favorite books ever is Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory. (Just as a “by the way,” another wonderful Fussell book is Thank God for the Atom Bomb.)  In The Great War and Modern Memory, Fussell examines how the literary British upper-class men who participated in the British war wrote about it, from the unadulterated patriotism of Rupert Brookes (who saw so little fighting and died of an infected mosquito bite at Gallipoli) to the tortured trauma of Siegfried Sassoon, who spent too many years on the Western Front.  Fussell gracefully weaves military history, literary history, and literary analysis into one seamless, tragic whole.  It is an epic work.

Helping to write a letter 1917

Fussell’s book also makes one aware that there are always two wars going on:  the war on the ground, and what I call “the war as perceived.”  Only the troops know the war on the ground but, if one has a literate military, everyone can experience the war second-hand.  Although not as excessively literary as the British, who were steeped in Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, etc., American troops did a fine job of bringing the war home, at least through the end of WWII.  They wrote home from the front during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and World War II.  Not just that, but during all those wars, a critical percentage of the American male population was engaged in the fight, meaning that, not only were troops writing, a critical percentage of the people at home were reading what the troops wrote.

Things changed after World War II.  We still fought wars and American troops still wrote home, but the audience was shrinking.  Fewer and fewer families had someone on the front.  Americans who did not have a friend or family member in the war lost sight of the “war as perceived.”  Into that vacuum stepped the Leftist propagandists.  They vigorously filled this informational void, most notably with John Kerry’s despicable Winter Soldier lies.  With Vietnam, on the home front, the “war as perceived” began to have a great deal to do with hostile sources — our home-grown communist fifth party — and nothing to do with the military’s own experience.

British chaplain helping WWI soldier write home.

The internet has changed all this.  In the ordinary course of things, between my environment (blue, blue Bay Area) and demographics (I’m too old to have friends who fight and my children are too young to be part of the fighting generation), “the war as perceived” would have passed me by.  Or, to the extent I did learn something about it, that knowledge would have come from the MSM filter, which is alternately maudlin or hostile when it comes to our fighting troops.

But with the internet  . . . well, that’s a different thing entirely.  We get front line reports, not from reporters, enemies, and propagandists, but from the troops themselves.  We also get “back line reports” (for want of a better phrase).  We don’t just learn from the troops about the blood and smoke.  We hear, first hand, about the camaraderie, the training, the boredom, the skill sets, the loss, and the foolish fun.

This first person war reporting is incredibly important.  It’s one of the reasons why, all efforts notwithstanding, the Lefties have been unable to turn Americans against the troops.  Because of the blogs, we know the troops, unfiltered.  They’re young men and young women who train, fight, play, dream, love and hate.  They are us.  We cannot pretend that they are some alien killer beings because the troops themselves won’t let that pretense exist.

The U.S. Army stays connected.

The other thing milblogging teaches us is that so many of those who serve in our military our excellent writers and thinkers.  They are well-informed, thoughtful, funny, intelligent and generally people with whom it’s nice to spend time.  When I read my favorite milblogs, I always think to myself “Gosh, I’d like to have lunch with that writer.”  (To my favorite milbloggers, that’s a hint.  If you’re going in be in town, drop me a line.)

I’d therefore like to introduce you to a few of my favorite milbloggers.  I’d also like it if you’d use the comments section to introduce me (and everyone else) to a few of your favorite milbloggers:

The Mellow Jihadi

Castra Praetoria

Neptunus Lex

CDR Salamander

Blackfive

And a newbie, a female Marine:  Tin and Phoenix

Why can’t we fight to the finish this time, so we’ll never have to do it again?

A friend sent me a link to an editorial bemoaning the fact that, by abruptly pulling out from Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan, the Obama administration is ensuring that we’re leaving a job undone — something that invariably means one has to do it again.  If history is going to keep repeating itself, why can’t we just repeat the good parts?

World War I ended with a definitive American victory, but a dangerous, un-managed peace, one that pretty much made World War II inevitable.  By 1942, my favorite songwriter, Irving Berlin, pretty much summed up the WWII mindset, which was “do it right this time.”

[Verse:]
‘Twas not so long ago we sailed to meet the foe
And thought our fighting days were done
We thought ’twas over then but now we’re in again
To win the war that wasn’t won

[Refrain:]
This time, we will all make certain
That this time is the last time

This time, we will not say “Curtain”
Till we ring it down in their own home town

For this time, we are out to finish
The job we started then

Clean it up for all time this time
So we won’t have to do it again

Dressed up to win
We’re dressed up to win
Dressed up for victory
We are just beginning
And we won’t stop winning
Till the world is free

[Coda:]
We’ll fight to the finish this time
And we’ll never have to do it again

Trust old Irving to hit the nail on the head. And, in fact, that’s what the Allies did.  First, they destroyed entirely the totalitarian states in Germany, Japan and Italy.  Then, in those regions over which they had control (as to those the Soviets held), the Americans carefully rebuilt the nations into democratic allies.  It was a tough, long-haul job, but it prevented post-war massacres and ensured that (so far) we haven’t had to “do it again” with Germany, Italy or Japan.

Clearly, we’re a whole lot dumber now than we were in the mid-20th century. In 1991 we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq (which is one of the reasons I’ve never liked Colin Powell, whom I’ve always blamed, fairly or not, for being the architect of that foolish retreat). Now, with Obama’s help, we’re doing it all over again, only worse. Does any nation get a third chance to remedy its chronic stupidity? I doubt we will, especially because Obama is also choosing to repeat the disarmament mistakes of the 20s and 30s. Ain’t those fancy Ivy League educations grand? They go in smart and come out stupid.

I’m an armchair warrior (aka a chicken hawk) and I’m disgusted and frustrated. I can only imagine how the troops — the ones who sweated and bled — feel as they watch their Commander in Chief dismantling all of their good work.