Postmodern classic?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cindy Sheehan makes me mad

There is plenty of discussion in the blogosphere over that woman. Her activism is a feat that has echoes of Jane Fonda...

There is a lot out there, but I'm only picking 4- Tim Blair, Lashawn Barber (comment #82 is especially succinct) and this column by Michael Graham. Most importantly is Blackfive, who really gets at what I would like to say about the warrior ethic.

I wish I could feel sorry for this woman, as someone who shares the fear for soldiers abroad. We could disagree over the war but appreciate the sacrifice of those who paid the price, such as her son. But I simply can't, she has crossed to the other side. Her activism portrays the actions her son took and any other military person in war as a victim. I could deconstruct this and show how the military ethos is directly against this socialistic model of victimization, but I don't want to spend any more time on her than I already have.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Just another day

Listening to Bush try to justify his spending bill, not much sympathy here. Pork. Makes the Democrats look like free marketeers! Are the Republicans going to learn how to be a majority party? It doesn't look like it, because if they were they would have some principles (not too many, it still is politics), but they'd also challenge the filibuster and a few other things. I blame alot of this on Frist as a weak leader who was promoted before his time, but there's enough blame to spread around.

As bad as that is, I highly suggest reading this Hitchens article on the opposition to the Iraq War. The crux of his argument is that many are unaware of the consequences-

How can so many people watch this as if they were spectators, handicapping
and rating the successes and failures from some imagined position of
neutrality? Do they suppose that a defeat in Iraq would be a defeat only for
the Bush administration?

I think that's a good question. How else can you explain the overwhelming negative coverage of Iraq except as an excuse to bash Bush? I don't care about Bush, I am not invested in the Republican party, but if this is all the Democrats or any opposition have to offer, then I will support him. Least of two evils and all that.

It's a good antidote before opening the pages of the Wapo this morning. Where to start... a concern piece on a wounded Iraq vet who's 'bitter' and 'disillusioned'. A feminist activist- former stripper bisexual selling clothes.

What else is going on in the world- oh, Iran withdrawing from NPT and starting more uranium enrichment, a good analysis of the 6-party talks on North Korea. Then there's the UN, and I don't feel like getting into that right now (you mean they're inefficient and corrupt? duh..).

Is there anywhere to go for real news? Yes and yes.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Democratic warriors- angels or devils? Or maybe 'kids'...

There is an ambivalence in this country, the U.S., on how to treat the military. Much ink has been spilt in documenting the ins and outs of 'civil-military relations'. It's been important to me, not only as a former military professional, but also as a political science aficionado. Resolving the differing perspectives of warmakers to their political leaders has always been a critical factor in the process of history.

But as in most things, it has been documented and expounded upon many times before- millennia ago during the Greek and Roman era. Which is why our Founders designed the U.S. military in the current fashion with civilian control. But all institutions are as fragile as the societies they represent- so I believe there is some merit to these criticisms.

Part of what I believe is that, due to Marxist-inspired radical politics, a not large but significant portion of our country has turned away from our martial traditions. This is evident when you read the pages of our esteemed editorial pages of the national papers. And they think they are helping.

Take this column by Phil Hendrie (a radio satirist- but not rightwing, does that make him credible? Don't get thrown off by the George Bush stuff.), on how certain people demean the 'Other'. However in this case, the 'Other' in the Edward Said sense of the word is not Orientals or Arabs, but the 'Other' as our Men and Women in the Armed Forces. (via Tim Blair)

"To call the great professional men and women who serve in our armed forces "kids" is a semantical tactic employed by my Poseur Leftist friends. They know that by tossing this little hand grenade into the mix any hope one has for a debate on fact, as opposed to hysterical rumor, flies right out the window. Who can not, at a moment like that, blow their head, and ponder ever so deeply, the meaning of children dying in a war.

Ladies and Gentlemen, calling these great people, part of the best trained and best equipped military in the history of the world, "kids" is an obscene insult.

And it's intended as one.

It implies that these volunteer men and women are unable to decide for themselves their choice of career or understand the mission they're on. It also sets up the "baby-killer" and "torturer" posit, should my phony-left, anti-war friends choose to use it. Finally, it allows my Posing Left pals to pretend solicitude and sympathy for the poor, unfortunate, thoroughly manipulated-by-George Bush soldier "kids". Then they combine the word "kid" with a tireless search of the Internet for pictures of dead Iraqi babies, put the two together and, for the brain dead, successfully infer that our men and women in uniform are war criminals. And they do it all without having to think, reason or research. That is what is called propaganda, a sort of slap-dash Fahrenheit 9-11."

And that's the crux of the matter- these 'progressives', do they think they are working for the benefit of another victim group by working to stop them from doing what they want? We care for the troops- send them home? Poor victims of the Bush junta....

I have a hard time rationally discussing this with non-military folks. They don't seem to get the fact that soldiers and military people don't want special consideration, we're not a minority victim group powerless to do anything. In fact, we want people to stop 'talking for us'. We swore to uphold the constitution, and let our Chain of Command represent us. And in a volunteer military we can show whether or not we support the ongoing conflict by reenlisting or leaving; but we are professional enough to do our duty and fulfill our commitments until we reach that point.

The opposite is equally unsavory- exaltation and ungained respect. There are many examples of unethical and unprofessional people and their consequences in the military, just like the rest of the world. To be put on a pedestal as superhuman displays another fundamental lack of comprehension (one being the simple fact of the different military occupations, but I won't get into that). A democratic military is a part of society, not outside of it. While nitpicking undermines warfighting, the opposite would be equally frightening. The converse of the 'chickenhawk' argument is that just military people would dictate defense policy, which while most likely profitable in a short term would be fatal to democratic society.

A person interested in the health of our democratic society would profit by not bringing the military into politics as a tactic. It worked too well in the 60's and 70's, but we're slowly recovering from that. Things will never be perfect, this is true, but let's try to have some perspective.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Confessions of a Hawk

There is a vigorous debate in the pages of the Belmont Club over ongoing actions in the Middle East and our strategic outlook that are worth a close look. Also included are more reports that Iran is shipping explosives into the theatre as a neighbor would do to increase stability.

Why, exactly, have we not laid some major scunion on Iran and Syria? What are we waiting for, them to all of a sudden respect the sovereignty of their friendly neighbor?

Oh wait, maybe we are the only ones hanging onto that elusive ideal. I say pitch it in the trash like all that other crap- 'multilateralism', multiculturalism', 'religion of peace', etc. Don't invade, but a ruthless and audacious decapitation strike in concert with their dissident movement would be lethal and a death blow to their theocracy. Sit back and see the vipers destroy themselves.

Is that feasible? Could we pull it off? I think not now, but we're getting there- the EU's upcoming negotiation failure will be one of the preconditions, of course. When will we hear the 21st century equivalent of 'the die is cast'?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fear and Treason in the Republic

Reading one of todays Belmont Club posts, I was struck by how perception of strength has played a critical force in war- not just in the 20th century against the Communists, but of course throughout history. We should not let our media pull us into the deception our enemies would lead us to.

Weak and otherwise poorly led tribes, federations or generals have sometimes gotten away with their bluffs. Except when they were called on it- and I point to the notable Roman defeats at Cannae and Tarentum by Hannibal and Pyrrhus. There was a great speech in Plutarch describing a certain Appius Claudius (not Clodius of Caesar's time), an old, blind but greatly respected Roman noble come to address the Senate while they deliberated on how to deal with Pyrrhus's victory. Many were seriously discussing surrendering the city and accepting his terms.

But 'his sons and son and sons-in-law took him in up in their arms, and, walking close round about him, brought him into the senate. Out of reverence for so worthy a man, the whole assembly was respectfully silent.

And a little after raising up himself: "I bore," said he, "until this time, the misfortune of my eyes with some impatience, but now while I hear of these dishonourable motions and resolves of yours, destructive to the glory of Rome, it is my affliction, that being already blind, I am not deaf too. Where is now that discourse of yours that became famous in all the world, that if he, the great Alexander, had come into Italy, and dared to attack us when we were young men, and our fathers, who were then in their prime, he had not now been celebrated as invincible, but either flying hence, or falling here, had left Rome more glorious? You demonstrate now that all that was but foolish arrogance and vanity, by fearing Molossians and Chaonians, ever the Macedonian's prey, and by trembling at Pyrrhus who was himself but a humble servant to one of Alexander's life-guard, and comes here, not so much to assist the Greeks that inhabit among us, as to escape from his enemies at home, a wanderer about Italy, and yet dares to promise you the conquest of it all by that army which has not been able to preserve for him a little part of Macedon. Do not persuade yourselves that making him your friend is the way to send him back, it is the way rather to bring over other invaders form thence, contemning you as easy to be reduced, if Pyrrhus goes off without punishment for his outrages on you, but, on the contrary, with the reward of having enabled the Tarentines and Samnites to laugh at the Romans."

And of course, like at Cannae, the Romans raised an Army twice as big as the previous and set about to put the Macedonian pretender to flight.

So, our fear of the Other, in the fashion of Edward Said, fogs our ability to make strategic decisions. A media that exalts our enemy is dangerous, appealing to our natural fears. Bring back treason charges, I say- that is a good way to deal with journalists along with Islamic fifth-columnists who claim that their preaching is just 'First Amendment' practice. We can read that kind of commentary on the pages of our enemies papers as the state-run propaganda it is.

Chances are, our journalists will be savvy enough to elude this- but situations like Jane Fonda in Vietnam, or the Human Shields in Iraq, or the martyr Rachel Corrie in Israel; sedition such as that proposed by these notable 'celebrities' should be shown and exposed for the treason that they are. Let people burn the flag, let us talk freely, but we should all have the strength of our nation as the compact between us.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Simplicity versus Analysis

Man, I guess I've been in a creative mood recently- or perhaps I'm just getting into a better blog rhythm where I can be more prolific. But as we all know, quantity is not quality....

Professor Norm Geras of Normblog has been an amazingly articulate writer, and coming to prominence most recently in the aftermath of London's 7/7. His recent series started with an article in the Guardian (based on this post) and focuses on the logical reasoning of apologia, part 1 and part 2.

It's funny how you read these logical formulas, how so-called 'progressives' seem more comfortable blaming Bush and Blair for the Muslim anger. Professor Geras breaks it down simply as 'root causes are important', but no excuse for targeting innocents. His most striking point to my mind was when he discusses the excuses we make for these bombers-

"Second, most of those who opposed the Afghan and/or Iraq wars, though some amongst them did let us know how very angry they were, have not resorted to the bomb and the wrecking of other lives. The vast majority of them, in truth, haven't even engaged in civil disobedience over it. They have remained within the framework of standard democratic procedure: of protest, argument, use of their votes, and so on. Since these people do not invoke anger on their own behalf towards explaining why they might (one day) violate the usual democratic norms as well as other human beings, why are they so ready to indulge others with this type of understanding? If anger is not a sufficient cause in the way they themselves react, how do they judge it such a mammoth cause of what the bombers do?"

This is intriguing and important for trying to analyze the political climate we are living in. Yet this alone is not the reason of my interest in his semantic investigation.

For me, I wonder how we came to this point where you have to get into sophisticated (or perhaps not so) reasoning models to understand why people do awful things. Yet there are assumptions inherent to this, looking more like 'subtextual, psychological' justifications lurking below the surface. Radical politics, to me, seems a most amazing method to mask our tribal belonging and will to dominate seething under the veneer of our civilization. I remember reading 'Adbusters' and thinking 'Yeah! Those F***ing corporations, man!' Then 9/11 happened and these people started saying some whacky stuff that I couldn't stomach- I remember subscribing to The Nation when they offered 6 free issues, but after the 2nd one I canceled. I can get into that more another day.

Analysis is important to uncover these assumptions. One must constantly assess, evaluate and reorganize. But action is simple- going forth without reserve, entirely responsible for your actions along with your failures. Which is why I'm so attracted to Stoic, silent tradition- also present in Zen and certain Asian warrior philosophies that certainly helped me during difficult times.

I'm conflicted- thankful that I'm ending this introverted academic process to return to a world of action, although grateful for the tools and resources I've become acquainted with. In the 'Academy' it's safe to live a sterile and isolated 'life of the mind', and easy to criticize those who are making solutions and problems. It becomes aggravating as they try to suck you in, leading you to conclude that all people are like that. But they're not. So if I reject analysis for passion, I'm rejecting the work of people like Nietzsche coutering Hegel, or Friedman countering Marx. It's not so easy to leave a simple life.

Just as the Greeks and Romans did many years before, I believe Americans are rediscovering the value of the individual. Have we been in a soporific haze under the utopian visions of Marx and his followers this past 100 years, or has it always been this way? A general conflict between those who want the state to absolve them of their moral obligation, or those who bristle under the restrictions of the state? Certainly, one does become immune to this rhetoric after a while. And then are we to inevitably forget and rediscover? I suppose this is the historians dilemma.

It seems that is life: you can't live without either the insight of analysis or the simplistic power of action, but must wrestle with it always.

Sex Map, humor

This is hilarious- a study of sex in a high school, how they are all connected. The 'video analysis' really makes it worth while. The picture alone says it all, some people 'sharing the love' more than others. I think I will definitely use this one when I have to give the birds and the bees talk (not soon, not anytime soon).

Another humorous episode is some soldiers reacting (also via new favorite site Peenie Wallie) to Fonda's new plan to protest the war. They have her seat ready for her.

And check out this amazing site on color perception, how our eyes are influenced by surrounding colors.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Personal responsibility

After a while you just tune it out- sometimes it's just headlines, other times it's the unwritten assumption that 'Chemicals kill people' like this morning in the Wapo by Joe Biden, or the ongoing gun hysteria. When will people get it that- it takes a person to use these tools/implements. Yes, the involvement of a person or people is critical to the negative effect of these things.

The horrors in the world are done by people, not inanimate objects or faceless economic forces.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The conceit of modernity

Stuff like this just pisses me off- anytime you hear someone say 'I thought we've moved beyond that...', whatever else they say is just trash. Meaningless, inconsistent and conceited trash- I won't even call it BS because that would give it too much credit by assigning value to it. Trash should just be disposed of.

Neo-neocon was having a little discussion on her sensitivity to ethnicities in her blog when someone criticized her for this lapse. I could use this as an opportunity to float the common joke about the definition of racist (or bigot) is someone who has won an argument with a liberal. But that would be so reactionary and crude.

But this conception of modernity is a central principle of the 'progressive'. Because in the new world we have already overcome these base things, why, we're just a few people short of achieving utopia. If only those goddamn (insert here: Republicans, conservatives, red staters, class traitors, etc...) people wouldn't resist, everything would be perfect.

It's not so fruitful to remind people of the most dominant 20th century example of this being Marxist philosophy as articulated by Communist propaganda. That would offend some people who are more principled, because 'dissent is the highest form of patriotism'. The fact that those subscribing to this utopian vision argue national security issues from the identified platform of our opponents is not convenient to mention.

This kind of willful ignorance is breathtaking. This is what leads to people having no conception of what our military is or what it's for- but living under it's protection, they assume it's no good. Another editorial in the Wapo this morning talked about that. Oozing with that progressive contempt and condescension, the cultured Uwe Reinhardt makes these telling statements:

"When our son, then a recent Princeton graduate, decided to join the Marine Corps in 2001, I advised him thus: "Do what you must, but be advised that flourishing rhetoric notwithstanding, this nation will never truly honor your service, and it will condemn you to the bottom of the economic scrap heap should you ever get seriously wounded." The intervening years have not changed my views; they have reaffirmed them."

WTF. Where do you start with all the assumptions implied in this short paragraph? Starting with the fundamental idea that military service is bad for you... Maybe in their progressive little enclave no one respects the military, but not where I've lived and in my family. It just astonishes me people can say this, like the NYT post on the 'mercenary U.S. Army' that was discussed a few days ago- amazing. These people have no conception of how our country keeps us safe. However one should be encouraged that, I assume, her son stuck to his principles and stayed the course to serve.

But I'm digressing like I always do. This is willful ignorance of reality in favor of a feverish utopia, where the military and its supporters (and other crude reminders of our savage beginnings) are not welcome. Just leave them alone, please! They probably won't bother us.

And yet, they do. They keep coming back, just like those nasty people who fight them.