Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Morality of War - Part 3


This brings us to about two generations ago. The introduction of Nuclear weapons brought a term into use, which we are now well-familiar with: Weapons of Mass Destruction. Chemical Weapons appalled the world in World War I, leading to a number of conventions banning them, even in all-out war. The threat of Nuclear Winter leads many people to demand their outright ban. And the threat of Biological Weapons also moved nations to agree to their ban. The reasoning is easily understood; these weapons had little practical value in warfare, and all were the sort of weapon that killed thousands, even millions of innocents. The problem was, nations held these weapons for essentially two reasons - because they feared their enemies had them, and held WMD as a protection against their enemies’ use of those weapons. Or, they wanted these weapons out of a belief that it gave them an advantage with their neighbors. The United States and the Soviet Union, the world’s leading hegemonies for most of the 20th Century, had good reason to want to prevent the proliferation of these weapons, and on occasion would even cooperate unoffically, as the Osirak raid demonstrates. The world began to separate into classes of nations; "Superpowers", meaning the United States, the Soviet Union, and possibly Communist China; "First World" nations like England, Japan, and Canada, "Second World" nations like Iran (under the Shah), Argentina, or Pakistan; and "Third World" nations like Cuba, Somalia, or Vietnam. The lines were not always clear, but there was a distinct sense of envy in many nations which suffered lower standards of living, and who often tried to compel the richer nations to agree to wealth redistribution. Against this situation, the United States found itself in an untenable moral position: In Korea, the U.S. could not simply invade North Korea, as they would normally do in a war, because the Chinese had sent more than three hundred thousand men to North Korea, and in so doing continued to support North Korea’s threat to invade South Korea again. The threat of escalation to nuclear exchanges prevented any substantial resolution of the conflict by either side. In Vietnam, the politization of the war made military victory all but impossible, and that small remaining possibility was removed by the treasonous decision by Walter Cronkite and other leading media elites, to side with the Communists and declare the American effort lost. Sound familiar?

"Vietnam Syndrome" is a phrase used in many contexts, but in this case, I mean the loss of confidence by the American military, the loss of trust in the military by the American citizen, the loss of trust in the American government by most of the world (which was not helped by Nixon’s intransigence in the Watergate scandal), and the emergence of Terrorism as a tactic by the Soviets to disrupt governments and incite revolution. By 1975, there were more than a few supposed ‘experts’ suggesting that the USA needed to find an arrangement with the USSR while we were still relevant. Enter Ronald Reagan.

In 1979, the United States bungled the decaying situation in Iran, managing to anger both the forces of the Shah, and the revolutionary Islamists under the Ayatollah Khomeini. Carter’s reward for trying to mediate a peaceful transition for the new regime, was angry protests and the takeover of the American Embassy in Teheran. To make matters worse, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, a move for which Carter held no response. The American military was underpaid, understaffed, underequipped, and demoralized. For a President to take a strategic offensive seemed sheer madness, and when President Reagan proposed his improvements to American readiness, more than a few of the media elite quickly suggested he was not in posession of his faculties. Or that he did not understand the new realities of Realpolitik, as so many high-brow critics dictated.

But if Ronald Reagan was anything, he was a man who understood the fundamentals, of both American Identity and the history of the United States. Reagan chose his battles, using diplomats and Marines where each would be most effective. He energized our military, rebuilt our alliances, and spoke decisively in every action. Reagan was also careful to keep close contacts with the Soviets, avoiding the feeling of confrontation or deliberate slight. The USA which faced the end of its relevancy in 1979, was by 1989 confident of its leadership in the world.
George H.W. Bush, whatever his faults, understood this worldview, and in 1990 stepped up to the task in the first Gulf War. Historians and veterans will debate whether the first President Bush should have stopped short of overthrowing Saddam’s regime, but a clear message was sent, nonetheless. Sources within the Kremlin reported that Mikhail Gorbachev, referencing the impressive power and accuracy of American military might, told the Politburo flatly "we have nothing to fight that kind of power". The Cold War was over, and the United States won.
I won’t waste time discussing the "Peace Dividend", because there never was one. An intelligent foreign policy during the 1990s, would have understood that as the sole remaining Superpower, America was a very big target, especially considering that all those terrorist groups born and bred by the Soviets, were now on their own, hungry, angry, and aggressive. A canny President would have realized that the media remained leftist, unwilling to provide more than token support for our military, and prejudiced against the success of American policy. A leader with a good education in History, would have realized that our success made other nations jealous and envious. An honest leader would have noted, that the "Peace Dividend" was an artificial construct, based on equally fallacious beliefs that the USA would spend less after the Cold War, and would somehow produce more money. And a concientious leader would have noted the rise of a new and serious threat to the safety and welfare of American citizens, the Nation’s interests, and our security.

(To be Continued in Part 4)

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Morality of War - Part 2


This brings us to a reasonable picture of the 20th Century; Wars and rumors of wars, to quote the Lord Jesus Christ. And humans all familiar with their leaders hip deep in warfare. This is true of America, as anywhere else. Who was our best President? Common nominees would be Washington, who fought the Revolutionary War against England as a General, or Lincoln, who was President during the American Civil War, or Franklin Roosevelt, who led our nation as President in World War 2. The American School of War was, for the longest time, a simple one: We will win. We always win. And because we win, we are right.

It is commonly thought that the U.S. had never lost a war before Vietnam. That is simply not true. The U.S. lost a war against Chief Red Cloud of the Lakota Tribe (1866-1868), and settled on the Lakota's terms. The U.S. then simply ignored the inconvenient treaty, and eventually forced the Lakota to accept a smaller reservation in present-day South Dakota. I bring this up, because it shows an unfortunate absence of chivalry and honor in American Strategic thinking of the time, and this contributed to creating a weakness of excessive hubris in the American psyche, which was shown a number of times before it finally cost us a war. We jumped to conclusions when the Maine was sunk in Cuba, because we were ready for a war against Spain (the media of that day had a bit to do with the provocation as well). We proclaimed ourselves neutral in World War I, then proceeded to sell arms to nations we favored. That does not, of course, justify the sinking of the Lusitania, but the Germans may, perhaps, be forgiven for thinking us a bit duplicitous. Then again, the Zimmerman Telegram was just stupid; Germany must have known that they were standing in a pool of gasoline, so striking a match by that act was amazingly fooolish. And of course, there was Pearl Harbor, the most announced surprise attack in history. General Billy Mitchell warned it would happen - in 1924. Naval officers from allied nations warned that the harbor waterways were too narrow. Japanese observers were known to be studying the Taranto raid in 1940. And with the 'Purple' intercepts, America knew Japan was preparing to attack the United States. And yet, we never believed they would dare to strike at our fleet... until they did just that.

The United States always brought their leaders up, to believe that American might would always be used for noble causes, and in the main, they were. The Monroe Doctrine banished European nations from the Caribbean. The U.S., working with England, rid the world of open sea piracy in the 19th Century. Our Navy opened the ports of Japan by threat of force. But for the first 165 years of our history, we were always a rising power, with our rivals almost always static or in decline. By the end of World War 2, there was no nation which could hope to face us in War and win. But the rules changed, when the Soviet Union stole the secrets to our Atomic bomb.

The morality of War changed again. What had been the necessity of defending home and family from potential invaders, had become the crusade of spreading Democracy, and then had become the advance of American power and influence against any opponent. Suddenly, then, we were back to survival . Never mind that the use of every nuclear weapon in 1950, would have been insufficient to destroy either the USA or the USSR, never mind that every military thinker believed the weapons to be monstrous, unacceptable as a battle tool (consider a weapon which would not only kill innocents as an unfortunate effect of its use, but which was impossible to use without killing innocents, and match that against the warrior's code of honor), the fact that they existed required all the strategy and tactics to be reconsidered. And that discovery made the possession of such weapons all the more desirable. China, India, England, France, Pakistan and Israel all joined the 'Nuclear Club', and it seemed the madness of Nuclear Proliferation ws going to sweep the word, then - it stopped. The door, by consent of the members inside (I suspect) was closed and barred, and anyone interested in joining was made to understand they were opposed. Perhaps the clearest example of this strange new cooperation between blood enemies, was the Osirak raid in 1981. Iraq was building a bomb, and planned to use Plutonium from the Osirak nuclear power plant. It wasn't disguised very well; the plant was supposed to be producing electricity, but in fact did not have any transmission lines going out to the rest of the country. So, Israel bombed the place. Simple enough, except for nagging stories about the US supplying satellite imagery, and the USSR warning neighboring countries not to interfere with the Israeli rading group. For a time, 'Mutual Assured Destruction' and 'Detente' actually seemed to be working. But good things never last.

(to be continued)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Morality of War - Part 1

It should be clear to many people, that this election has come down to essentially two basic issues, Money and War. Money is acknowledged to be largely out of the President's control, as far as guaranteeing jobs and a certain level of wages and working conditions is concerned, so that returns the focus this year to War. And certainly there are abundant reminders to consider War.

9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein, Vietnam, Swift Boats, Air National Guard, and other stories and debates remind us daily that War is an essential element in deciding the White House for the next four years. There is a clear and important difference between the style of National Security presented by President George W. Bush, and the type offered by Senator John Kerry. Leaving aside the tactics of the campaign, and the standings in the polls at this time, it seems meet to me, that the morality of War should be considered, as each man would practice it.

No sane being is happy with warfare. By definition, War means deliberate killing, much destruction, and no matter how precise the technology, innocents die and suffer. However, War is also a fact of History, and there is no question, that there are occasions where not to fight is to choose to bring death and suffering to innocents, where War, however horrible, may be less unjust. It is an accepted assumption that humans have fought since before the first record in history. Small wonder, given that control of water and arable land meant the difference between living and dying for early tribes and nations. It is believed that the first wars were for vital foods and water and territory, with the losers being driven away. In some situations, however, there was nowhere left to go, and so in those situations, war was to the death.

Long before Clausewitz coined the term, 'total war' was a fact of the world. This was because tribes feared letting the loser survive, as he would have motive to come back for revenge. But there were three problems with total war. First, killing all of an enemy meant your own army would be more tired and exhausted than was wise to allow, which would provide an opportunity for an enemy canny enough to wait for you to weaken. Next, killing all of your enemies would make your new neighbors mistrustful of you, and might drive them to form alliances with each other against you, to destroy you lest you kill him. And third, warriors trained for battle, and there was a sense that it was not correct to kill people who did not fight. I don't doubt that even in primitive tribes, it would have become distasteful to kill women and children, no matter what reasons were presented.

Ironically, Slavery began as an option of mercy. To our sensibilities it sounds cruel, but it provided armies with three advantages. First, it was a way to remove enemies from the land the victors took, with little chance they could come back later and take it back. Second, it was a means by which the victors could make peace through commerce with their new neighbors; a cunning leader would know who his defeated slaves' enemies were in nearby lands, and could sell or give them to that nation to gain good relations. And third, it meant money, a way to pay the army, which was always important to a king.

Fast forward to the empires of ancient Egypt, China, and Rome. Without going too deep into their histories, it becomes obvious that a warrior class emerges, and the king/pharoah/emporer was expected to lead the armies, often by example. The Bible notes that many kings rode into the thick of battle, trusting their armor and superior chariots to win. The Chinese are less clear about what a king was expected to do, but they certainly expected their kings to be good generals ( a la Sun Tzu), and to be able to fight. So, the culture of warrior leaders is a long one, running all the way through at least the 19th Century. Check the portraits of the European kings, for example, and they all are shown with uniforms and swords, even the ones who never once mounted a horse. Even American Presidents are known for their military service, and it is considered an important attribute in leadership, a lens for their measure as men.

All this history is presented here to make two points: War is a fact of history through civilization, and the leaders of nations are judged by their martial abilities. It now makes sense to address the different schools of thought in War.

In many nations of the past, there was a warrior class. Japan comes to mind as the most obvious example, but it also applies to pretty much every nation which came to a degree of power, whether they were merely secure in their borders, or enjoyed a level of regional hegemony. The military academies of many countries not only bred their cadets to be leaders in the field, but to be social and civic leaders, as well. This required a code of honor, flexible enough to meet any situation, yet rigid enough to set a high standard. As a note, this first became obvious in the Meritocracies of Babylon and the Song Dynasty in China.

(to be continued in Part 2)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Groundhog Day for Senator Kerry

As things go from bad to worse in the Kerry "Wannabe" Presidential campaign, it struck me that there is a small ray of sunshine off on his distance, but one he may reach only by slogging through the storms.

The Kerry campaign had a lead back in mid-July, as he prepared for the Democratic National Convention. From there, however, the fall has been steady and depressing. First, John Kerry's own acceptance speech on Thursday at the DNC, was singularly dull and stilted. John promised America would get to know him, and the real John Kerry showed up on nomination night. He now knows this was a bad idea.

Then, the Swift Boat Vets got started. Three ads so far, along with their book, and Kerry has not even begun to respond effectively. Apparently, Kerry does a much better job or pretending to be a war hero, than facing them on the facts. Before the GOP Convention even got started, Kerry's lead was gone.

Kerry hoped for a dull, arrogant GOP Convention in New York, but what happened was anything but that. Kerry's own pal John McCain spoke to support the President, and Arnold rocked the house. When Zell Miller, from Kerry's own party, explained to the crowds how he could not support the Democrats who shared nothing but the name with their illustrious forbears, Kerry must have winced. Presuming the Botox let him do that.

Bush left New York with a healthy lead, and Kerry hoped for his allies to open fire for him. But now, three straight misfires from the Vapid Old Media Conspiracy have left the S.S. PurpleHearts dead in the water.

Of course, it could be worse, and sure enough, Dan Rather seems determined to prove that maxim true. As the scandal widens, more and more people are becoming aware that somebody was trying to influence a Presidential Election with forged documents. The obvious culprit, the campaign staff of John Kerry, have been deer-in-the-headlights frozen, just like Dan Rather. This could have been a minor bump, handled with a quick assurance that they were shocked to have to consider that they might have been tricked, and there will be a full investigation right away, etc. But they did not. Instead, Dan Rather played a take on the foolish side of "The Emporer's New Clothes", and refused to admit even the possibility that the documents were not genuine. The resulting well-earned derision, as evidence pours in to prove the documents false, is showing Rather and the CBS Network for the arrogant fools they are. And somewhere, the leading Democrats are looking at the flaming wreckage of Kerry's campaign, well aware that derision for Rather will certainly be extended to their man, as well.

So, what now? For the foreseeable future, Rather seems determined to embarrass his network and allies even more, and Kerry must bear the weight of his lowly position in the polls. In about two weeks, the first of three debates between Senator Kerry and President Bush will be held. Unfortunately for John, since he has been ducking Swift Boat questions, and now forgery questions also, he can't be looking forward to open inquisition in front of a national audience. Bush will, no doubt, have to practice keeping a straight face. If the debates go as I expect they will, we will enter mid-October with a strong lead for the President.

It is here, however, where Kerry's golden hope remains available. There will be two or three weeks where John Kerry can remain to passive mode, campaigning yet not answering questions, which has always been his most effective tactic. Whatever momentum Kerry can build, it looks like that is where he will find it.

So, the man who once revived a hamster is copying the strategy of Pauxatauny Phil. Although Kerry hopes to pop up out of his hole in November, not waiting for February. Although, with all the other miscues his campaign has had, I could see John forgetting, and starting his last-lap campaign in late January 2005. It would be in line with the success he's had in everything else the past month.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The War Against Exasperation

Over on another site which discusses religion, morality, and politics, I have been a member for more than four years, and have enjoyed the debates with many people. The difference in cultures and religion has not hindered the development of many great conversations and discussions. Even when the dialogue can become intense, it is usually possible for people of goodwill to reach common ground, even when sharply divided in personal faith. That is, however, not so in the case of politics.

Beliefnet is a great site for discussing religion and faith issues, but the visitor should be warned, the majority of people there are well Left of center, politically. This can be an interesting journey into the mind of the Liberal voter, but it bears warning, that to support the President is to invite attack on your person, and ridicule for your beliefs. As an example, today I was discussing the latest round of attacks on the President by the Left. There was a member in attendance, who is known for a gentle way of addressing concerns members have, but when I explained the problems in the Democrat's claims, she blew up:

"I used to think you were a devout Christian who realized that no human being is without error or mistake and that no human being should ever be elevated to the status of an idol to worship. But now I see that you have changed the spelling of GOD to GWB, and he has become your deity in a vile religion of hatred that brooks no opposition."

That is, by the way, a clear violation of the Rules of Conduct posted by Beliefnet, but when Conservatives are attacked, it is seldom enforced. Much like DU, to be Conservative is to be judged guilty and wrong, ab initio. It strikes me, from this exchange and others like it, that there is a tone of desperation and bitterness present in these voices. Rather than face the Reality of 21st-Century America, these Liberals scream all the louder, hoping to drown it out.

It is becoming increasingly clear, that President George W. Bush will be re-elected to a second term. There is reason to believe, as well, that the GOP will gain in both the House and Senate. Ironically, the shrill hatred from the Left is feeding this trend, as more and more Americans believe the only reasonable response to their rhetoric of hate, is to make sure Republicans are elected. As much as I am pleased by the wave of support for the President and the GOP, I am concerned, for three reasons:

First, there is a serious hatred by the Left, of the core values held by most Americans. I expect that the canyon between Liberal and Majority opinions will become even more pronounced, and there is no telling what form the reaction to the knowledge that the Conservatives are winning,will take in Liberal circles.

Second, the GOP is far from perfect. The deficit needs to be addressed, the borders must be secured, and we need to address a great many issues, better than we have so far. Also, there is the warning from history, that the party which enjoys dominance is in greater peril of corruption.

Third, there can be no question that we need a valid 2-party system in the USA. That implies that the Democratic Party must either reform, or we will see the rise of something to replace it. We must do everything possible, to make sure that the new party to stand opposite the GOP is as committed to the Constitution and the American role, as the parties before it were. Right now, the Democratic Party is not strong enough to really present a fit candidate for President, and offers no vision compatible with the Constitution or our nation's history.

So, I and other Conservative voices, will just have to put up with being the targets of angry Liberals. I have already seen the results of hacker visits, the anonymous threatening e-mails from people who think threatening violence constitutes valid political discourse. And of course, in some places, I can expect to be shouted down, simply for defending the President. In the end, the world will change, and in many ways we cannot see from here and now. But the vitriolic hatred from the Left, at least confirms we are on the Right road.

Monday, September 13, 2004

This Hamster is DEAD

In an interview with TIME magazine recently, Senator Kerry pretended not to be aware that President Bush had gained a healthy bounce from his convention.

"I don't know what you're talking about in terms of the Bush bounce. This is a very close race, and I'm not somebody that runs around worried about polls" insisted the Man Who Once Revived The Family Hamster, to assure the MainStream Media that he remains relevant to the race.

But the good Senator mentioned polls, and to that I always take interest. John Kerry may or may not care what the polls say, but I note them all, whether I agree or not, especially the ones diligent enough to show the internal demographics, because therein lies a deeper tale. Over on Polipundit, I have reviewed the bounce and overall poll status.

Over recent years of politicking, there has come to be a useful phenomenon called Exit Polling. Basically, people who have voted are asked to tell how they voted. Assuming their responses are correct, they not only show the final comparison between poll predictions and actual election results, but also the nuts and bolts of how the election played out.

I am particularly interested in the question of turnout, but I will save that part for another day, since it involves, at this time, a great deal of speculation, albeit rational and indicated by established trends. For here, I will simply address the key demographics which have affected elections, and show how the two major candidates stand in those aspects.

There are a number of demographic indicators of interest, but the information is not always critical to election, and in some cases, relevant information is not readily available. For this review, I took demographic data from Democracy Corps, TIME, Fox News, ABC News/Washington Post, CNN/Gallup/USA Today, CBS News, and Newsweek.

The largest group of note are Male voters. Since 1936, a Democrat can win with as little as 41% of the Male vote (Clinton, 1992), and a Republican can win with as little as 43% of the Male vote (Nixon, 1968). No Democrat has ever lost, who took at least 48% of the Male vote, and no Republican has ever lost, who took at least 46% of the Male vote. At this time, President Bush polls 53.0% of the Male vote, to 42.0% for Kerry.

Another important group, of course, Female voters. A Democrat can win with as little as 46% of the Female vote (Clinton, 1992), and a Republican can win with as little as 43% of the Female vote (Nixon, 1968). No Democrat has ever lost, who took at least 54% of the Female vote, and no Republican has ever lost, who took at least 52% of the Female vote. At this time, President Bush polls 48.0% of the Female vote, to 46.5% for Kerry.

The next group to examine is the Minority vote. Exit polls do not always break down by race, but all include a "non-White" sub-total or column. A Democrat can win with as little as 77% of the Non-White vote (Clinton, 1992), while a Republican can win with as little as 10% of the Non-White Vote (Reagan, 1980). No Democrat has ever lost, who took at least 88% of the Non-White Vote, and no Republican has ever lost, who took at least 16% of the Non-White vote. At this time, John Kerry polls 62.5% of the Non-White vote, to 29.5% for President Bush, so again, this key stands for the President.

The remaining groups of note here, are the political parties and their loyalty to their own nominee.

A Democrat can win with as little as 5% of the Republican vote (Kennedy, 1960), and a Republican can win with as little as 86% of the Republican vote (Reagan, 1980, and Nixon, 1968). No Democrat has ever lost, who took at least 10% of the Republican vote, and no Republican has ever lost, who took at least 96% of the Republican vote. At this time, President Bush polls 91.4% of the Republican vote, to 5.4% for John Kerry.

A Democrat can win with as little as 82% of the Democrat vote (Clinton, 1992, and Carter, 1976), and a Republican can win with as little as 10% of the Democrat vote (Bush, 2000). No Democrat has ever lost, who took at least 90% of the Democrat vote, and no Republican has ever lost, who took at least 19% of the Democrat vote. At this time, John Kerry polls 82.6% of the Democrat vote, to 10.0% for President Bush.

A Democrat can win with as little as 38% of the Independent vote (Carter, 1976), and a Republican can win with as little as 44% of the Independent vote (Nixon, 1968). No Democrat has ever lost, who took at least 45% of the Independent vote, and no Republican has ever lost, who took at least 58% of the Independent vote. At this time, President Bush is polling 44.6% of the Independent vote, to 42.0% for John Kerry.

It's well worth noting, that while Kerry leads in Non-White voter support and Democrat support, he does not enjoy the kind of numbers he needs to overcome the deficits in the other areas. Across the board, George Bush enjoys the kind of improvements that indicate a true groundswell of support and excitement.

It remains possible, at least mathematically, for John Kerry to come back and win the election. But to do so, he must address his losses in all categories, and frankly, bringing things back from the dead, whether they are family pets or political hopes, are difficult and exhausting, and require more than a good story and the assistance of a major network.

Maybe Dan Rather can write the hamster's obituary.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Just a Thought

Maybe someone from the Left can explain this:

If our War in Iraq is doing nothing but breed terrorists, then why is it, that since the murderous atrocity of September 11, there has not been another successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil?

Also, if it is so important to make our enemies happy, then why did al Qaeda terrorists assist in murdering hundreds of Russian children, even though President Putin opposed the invasion of Iraq? Why did terrorists seize those French journalists as hostages, even though France opposed the removal of Saddam Hussein and his thuggish regime?

Terrorists hate President Bush. To me, that's a good thing. A very good thing. Because I think it really means they fear him. And us.