Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fred Reed's Fulminations

Here is a delightful rebuttal (click on article #380) to my previous post. Fred Reed has written an article that attacks Ralph Peters' pieties about war. This is the first time I've seen anything by Fred Reed. He reminds me of a comedian, George Carlin or Lenny Bruce or even Mark Twain. He's not a happy camper and he's absolutely right about the world and how it works.
Ralph of course speaks of the sacrifices our boys are making. They aren’t making sacrifices. They are being sacrificed. Sacrifices are voluntary, but if the troops decline to fight, they go to jail. The mechanics go this way: Having an all-volunteer army minimizes objections to the war since no one of any influence has to go; if a lot of high-school grads from Tennessee are getting killed, well, it’s not a good thing of course, but who really cares? This facilitates hobbyist wars. A voluntary army is a small army, so you have to send the same troops for tour after tour until they are half-mad and their families wrecked. Who cares? They are just rednecks anyway—not our sort of people, nobody a general would let his daughter date.
He is absolutely right about the disgraceful behavior and general stupidity of our leaders, and, in particular, our way of staffing the military, the whole national chickenhawk movement. What he is wrong about, however, is fundamental. Our governance is in fact superior to most other places. Whatever our faults and moral failings, the US is up against other forces which are even more reprehensible. You only have to look at the deteriorization of Iran and the once productive Southern Rhodesia, for example, to realize that unseating the evildoers is insufficient to bring about a happy outcome. You can't walk away from these things just because you know that your own motives aren't pure. The vacuum will be filled. And the place from which the vacuum is filled is far worse that we are, far worse perhaps than you can imagine. Let's take Pakistan as our recent example on that.

We owe it to ourselves to listen to and internalize the message that Fred Reed is sending, but I believe Ralph Peters is wiser and closer to the proper policy perspective. If you can read only one, go for Ralph.

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At Thursday, January 03, 2008 2:09:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Here's another attack on the pro-war faction and its pieties. Christopher Hitchens is the victim this time. Needless to say, I disagree, but it's worth reading.

At Thursday, January 03, 2008 2:20:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

David Brooks, however, has a different view of Hitchens and his recent essay.

At Friday, January 11, 2008 9:49:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

> Killing a few hundred violent
> actors like Moqtada al-Sadr in
> 2003 would have prevented
> thousands of subsequent American
> deaths and tens of thousands of
> Iraqi deaths.

Maybe, but I think he's overly self-assured in his opinion.

Remember those enormous Shiite demonstrations a few years ago? Hundreds of thousands of people making such disciplined and thunderous noise impressed me greatly. Images on the TV of such crowds, taken from behind armed US soldiers present to, what, try to control the crowd?, gave me shivers.

Peters writes:
> But imagine how many more
> recruits there might have been
> and the damage they might have
> inflicted on our homeland had we
> not responded militarily in
> Afghanistan and then carried
> the fight to Iraq.

Seems to me that Peters is wrong here. He's conflating Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq was supposedly about weapons of mass destruction, not support for Islamic terrorists. Saddam's regime was secular.

What might have resulted in fewer terrorists would have been keeping eyes on the ball in Afghanistan.

My two cents anyway. Happy weekend!

At Tuesday, January 15, 2008 11:32:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Fred Reed apparently doesn't index his articles. Click on number 380 to see what he is saying about Ralph Peters.

At Friday, January 18, 2008 1:29:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

I go back and forth on the al-Sadr issue. I believe that al-Sadr is a very evil man who killed his own father. He is interested only in power and he's a very stupid, closed-minded individual -- stuck in the 7th century I suppose. But, since he is willing to do anything to maintain some semblance of power, maybe he's willing to hold his adherents together within the Iraqi democracy rather than lose them all to the US military by fighting against the democracy we are imposing on them. I'm glad it wasn't my decision whether to shoot him or not.

On the WMD point: That was the major sales pitch, but it wasn't the only reason and it wasn't the only reason listed either. I believe that Bush was quite sincere in believing that Iraq was a WMD threat. More importantly, he was worried about keeping the Straits of Hormuz open in the long run, as he still is. We were never there to steal the oil. That is the stupidest calumny that has ever come out of some idiot's 50 calibre mouth -- and people repeat it so often. The most important thing is to protect our economy by keeping the oil flowing. Yes we should be independent of the Middle East, but we aren't. The lack of leadership has been appalling. High prices are one thing, but an actual oil cutoff would cause great human misery in America and Europe.


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