Monday morning round-up and Open Thread
Because the anniversaries of the Battle of Midway and D-Day happen on top of each other, their proximity somehow spurred me into reading two WWII books: Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal and Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II. As I read them, the thought that keeps popping into my mind is Isaiah 2:4 —
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
One of the amazing things about our military since America’s inception is the fact that the bulk of our troops have always started out with plowshares and pruning hooks, beaten them into swords and spears, and then returned them to their original state. They are citizen warriors. They’ll fight to defend their country, but they yearn for peace.
In this regard, they differ strikingly from the Islamists fighting in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. These jihadis aren’t reluctant farmers, torn from cultivating life in the soil and yearning to return to that existence. They are, instead, stone cold killers who glory in the feel of warm human blood pulsing over their hands as they sever someone’s head and who have the true sadist’s delight in the terror they inspire in others. They are death incarnate. And when they leave the battlefield, they bring that death with them wherever they go.
That’s why those countries unlucky enough to be subject to Islamist conquest are such dismal failures even after the battle finally ends. The swords and spears are never put away in favor of more pastoral pursuits. Those enforcing Islam glory too much in blood and terror. In their countries, life is reduced to survival, with citizens living at a level only slightly above that of a dumb beast. The divine spark that should be in every human — the light that leads them to strive, create, invent, innovate — is assiduously and violently blotted out.
The Bible is such a wise book. A society thrives when the swords become plowshares and the spears pruning hooks. A society survives, in Zombie mode, when its soldiers and leaders fail to understand this lesson.
Jonathan Spyer argues that, as Iraq goes down in flames, we should stay out of it. Yes, we started it, both with the first invasion and with Obama’s decision to leave before we consolidated our gains, but now that a civil war is a done deal each side is equally vile:
This war is just beginning. Any attempts to portray either of the warring sides as “anti-terrorist” or “pro-western” should be stubbornly resisted. Acceptance of such definitions is the entry hall to new policy failures and wasted lives. ISIL and the Quds Force differ in organizational structure, but are similarly anti-western — and similarly vile. They should be left to bleed one another white.
Picking a side in this fight — any side — means we’re complicit in evil. If we want to save the real innocents — the children and victimized women — in Syria and Iraq, the only way to do so would be to destroy utterly both sides in the fight, and even the once mighty American can’t do that.
Jonah Goldberg notes what others have also seen, which is that Obama sees foreign policy, not as a way to advance America’s interests, but as a way to advance his own. In this context, Goldberg says something interesting. Even if starting the wars wasn’t a good idea, the fact remains that, at any time, America’s Afghanistan and Iraq wars could have been viewed as possible wins and approached accordingly.
That wasn’t Obama’s way, though. Instead, he operate on the “We lost because I said we lost” principle:
Barack Obama, on the other hand, believed the Iraq war was a mistake from day one and that conviction informed every foreign-policy decision he has made since. He has said, insinuated, implied, hinted, and shouted as much almost every day of his presidency. So invested in the Iraq war being a mistake — and so invested in received opinion celebrating his foresight — he has not merely acted on the reasonable view it was a mistake, he appears to have done everything he can to make sure it is remembered as a mistake for all time. The Left wanted the Iraq war to be Vietnam, and Barack Obama has given them what they wanted. All that’s missing now are the images of Americans clinging to helicopters.
Incidentally, the above is why Obama’s conduct at all times has been infinitely worse than any decisions George Bush made. Bush acted in good faith, believing he could make the world a safer place for Americans; Obama just acted to make American politics a safer place for himself.
The Israeli army put women in combat units a long time ago. One Israeli researcher claims that the experiment has been a disaster, and that the army is covering up how great a failure it’s been. Women haven’t actually been to battle, but training reveals all: Even with all the cheats the military arranges for them, the women are getting terribly injured and doing so in such great numbers that their units are sometimes stopped in their tracks. The researcher who broke this story identified the root of the problem:
“The idea that there is no difference between men and women in the army is a ridiculous one that has been disproved in all of the world’s militaries,” [Col. Raza] Sagi [Ret.] insisted. “One cannot defeat evolution. In days in which a meaningful reduction of the defense budget is required – there is no doubt that the matter of placing women in combat roles requires reassessment.”
I like what James Lewis has to say about the flood of children Obama has encouraged to cross our Southern border. Yes, Obama’s flagrant violation of his executive duties to protect our borders is another reasonable ground for impeachment, but our problems with this human flood are much more imminent than the procedural machinations that will never succeed in pushing out our first black-white president. Indeed, Thomas Lifson wonders whether Obama isn’t daring the GOP to impeach him because Obama thinks it would not only be a failed effort, but might enhance his political standing, as it did Clinton’s.
George Will pointed out that the DemProgs are grossly exaggerating the number of sexual abuse cases at colleges, thereby trivializing a desperately serious subject, and that they are denying the accused due process by handing these faked cases to campus kangaroo courts. Four DemProg Senators responded with a sloppy, emotion-laden, fact-free letter accusing him of all sorts of horrible anti-women things. (Believe it or not, it took them six days to compose this meaningless bit of drivel.) Will’s reply is a joy: pithy, elegant, and devastating.
Thomas Sowell on the amnesty debate:
Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed almost entirely in terms of what can be done to help those who have broken the law. Some want to help a little and some want to help a lot. But amnesty lite is still amnesty.
Some people seem to think that amnesty is not amnesty if you throw in requirements for citizenship. Amnesty is not some esoteric concept. It means that you are not going to be punished for breaking the law — and that simply brings laws into contempt. Denying citizenship is not a punishment, because crossing the border illegally does not entitle you to citizenship. Providing a legal status short of citizenship is not punishment either.
Exactly. Sowell is the master of stating complex issues in simple terms without losing anything along the way.
I like the Wall Street Journal’s take on those “lost” Lois Lerner emails. I also like the questions Sharyl Attkisson says someone, anyone, ought to pose to the IRS about those emails. That’s especially true given that an IRS commissioner already testified that (as the law requires) all IRS emails are archived.
Spoliation is a species of fraud that’s especially disfavored because its purpose is to destroy the integrity of a judicial or investigative process. I hope someone, anyone, has the backbone to come down hard on the IRS for this one. As I argued last year, the IRS scandal must be understood as the worst scandal ever in American history because it’s not just politics as usual. It is, instead, an exceptionally powerful rogue administrative agency directly attacking the First Amendment, the American people, and our entire democratic process.
Something interesting is going on in the Bill and Melinda Gates household. It began when Melinda Gates said their foundation is going to stop funding abortions. And now Bill wants to put the brakes on Common Core. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during their dinner-table discussions leading to these policy changes.
If fusion can be tamed, it could open the way to cheap, abundant electrical power, produced more cleanly than nuclear fission from ingredients found in sea water.
Should you have a little time to read this summer, Mike McDaniel has a couple of recommendations. I’m planning on getting the first book in the series and seeing what I think of it.