Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Sgt. James Crowley Could Learn From "Atlas Shrugged's" Hank Rearden, by Erika Holzer

When the firestorm over Sgt. James Crowley’s arrest of Louis Gates first broke and I heard the arresting officer being interviewed on Fox News, I wanted to cheer.

Crowley was every honest person’s personification of a righteous man.

When Gates went public with ugly racist and “rogue cop” accusations about Crowley’s actions, he didn’t count on the fact that Crowley’s by-the-book conduct had been backed up—not only by eyewitness accounts from his partner (who happened to be black) as well as from a passer-by—but by a tape recording that contradicted Gates’ slanted version of what had transpired.

Crowley was exonerated by hard evidence. Not to mention by his sterling professional reputation and his unimpeachable 5-year record of training fellow policemen in the matter of racial profiling. (He’d been singled out by a black police lieutenant for the job.)

Nonetheless he was defamed by Gate’s buddy, President Barack Obama, who—admitting he didn’t have all the facts—berated Crowley for acting “stupidly.”

Obama then went on to use the Crowley-Gates incident as a platform for, in columnist David Limbaugh’s words “. . . a mini-diatribe about the ‘long history’ of racial profiling by American cops.” (“A Teachable Moment Indeed,” Town Hall, July 28, 2009)

Buoyed by this shoot-from-the-hip presidential support, Gates threatened to sue. He demanded an apology.

But Crowley wasn’t about to cave to pressure from on high. No apology would be forthcoming, I heard him tell a reporter, and Crowley went on to explain why. The reporter, at first politely curious, sounded increasingly sympathetic as he tuned into Crowley’s calm, resolute sense of injustice.

It wasn’t until the police union rightly complained about the potential damage done to law enforcement nationwide, until the Cambridge P.D who knew and worked with Crowley rose as one to his defense, and until thousands of supportive and outraged cops from around the country weighed into the brouhaha that Obama and his advisors decided he had better hold a press conference to defuse a situation that was sticking to him like flypaper,

Time to apologize to the innocent policeman he had defamed? To lay the blame at the feet of the guilty party, Louis Gates? To admit that the President of the United States had no business interjecting himself into local matters about which he lacks the necessary expertise, let alone the facts?

Not possible, on all counts. Barack Obama cannot step out of character.

As David Limbaugh wrote:

“[Obama] held a news conference, not to apologize, but to justify himself.
* * * [He used] pure weasel words when a simple, heartfelt apology would have sufficed * * * Next he offered his patronizing assessment that both men probably overreacted and that cooler heads should have prevailed. * * * [W]hy would [Obama] continue . . . to comment on the facts? Obviously because he wanted to exploit this incident as a ‘teachable moment’ on race relations, whether or not the facts fit the template.”

Obama’s gambit didn’t end with the press conference. Either the President phoned Crowley—according to an AP report today out of Washington—and “invited both men over for a beer, to be served at a picnic table near the Oval Office” (weather permitting), or Crowley invited himself to the White House for a beer-fest (yesterday’s AP version about who initiated what).

Either way, as of this writing, it looks as if James Crowley clinked beer glasses with the President and his crony, Louis Gates, with the only disagreement at the picnic table being the merits of Blue Moon over Red Stripe or Bud Lite.

So what does this Washington adventure tell us about Sgt. James Crowley, the wronged party who never received an apology? The righteous victim in this charade who traveled from Cambridge to Washington for a beer with his two nemeses?

It tells us that either Sgt. Crowley never read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, or, if he did, that he never understood the meaning of a cardinal moral/political principle that Rand superbly dramatized through one of her major characters.

That principle is called “the sanction of the victim.”

“There comes a point in the defeat of any man of virtue,” Rand wrote through the voice of the novel’s protagonist hero, John Galt, “when his own consent is needed for evil to win—and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent.”

Rand’s heroic character who, for much of the novel, struggles with the weight of self-accepted victimhood, Hank Rearden, is liberated only when he identifies that principle and acts on it—as James Crowley should have, by boycotting Obama’s little getogether.

Pick up Atlas Shrugged, Sgt. Crowley. It will not only enlighten. It will liberate you.

_________________
Lawyer-turned-novelist Erika Holzer is the author of Double Crossing and Eye for an Eye (a Paramount motion picture starring Kiefer Sutherland and Sally Field). Her most recent book is Ayn Rand: My Fiction-Writing Teacher and she co-authored with her husband, Henry Mark Holzer, the non-fiction books "Aid and Comfort": Jane Fonda in North Vietnam and Fake Warriors. Her website is www.erikaholzer.com and she blogs at www.erikaholzer.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Israel Should Ask South Korea About Hillary's "Defense Umbrella"

United States Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton has just told Israel, in effect, not to worry about Iranian nuclear weapons because America will provide the Jewish state with a "defense umbrella."

As readers of this blog know, I am researching and writing a book about General Douglas MacArthur. Recently, I wrote the following:

Just as [a National Security Council document], Truman, the Joint Chiefs and MacArthur had all stated previously, [then Secretary of State Dean] Acheson precisely defined the Asian perimeter which the United States would defend. He pointedly omitted South Korea and Formosa (now Taiwan). “Those omitted [countries] would have to rely upon their own resources until the U.N. could mobilize against an aggressor”—- if it would. [MacArthur biographer] William Manchester elaborates on Acheson’s Press Club remarks:

America’s line of defense, [Acheson] said, “runs along the Aleutians to Japan and then goes to the Ryukyus [chiefly Okinawa]. We hold important defense positions in the Ryukyu Islands, and these we will continue to hold . . . The defense perimeter runs from the Ryukyus to the Philippine Islands.” He continued: ‘So far as the Military Security of the United States is concerned”—-and here he obviously had Formosa and South Korea in mind-—“it must be clear that no person can guarantee these areas against military attack. Should such an attack occur . . . the initial reliance must be on the people attacked.” If they proved to be resolute fighters, he vaguely concluded, they were entitled to an appeal under the charter of the UN. To the end of his life Acheson would vigorously deny that this had given the green light for aggression in South Korea by excluding it from the perimeter, but when he told the press club that the United States was waiting ‘for the dust to settle’ in China after declaring that America’s line of resistance lay south of the Korean peninsula, the Communists could only conclude, as they did, that the United States was leaving [South Korean President] Rhee to fend for himself.

There is much more to the story of why and how North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950, but it is incontrovertible that the Truman Administration speaking through Acheson and other officials defined South Korea out of United States' defense interests in Asia.

Although those interests would soon change, it would be too late to prevent the onslaught of North Korean troops into South Korea and the ensuing war.

An American "defense umbrella" is not a political or military policy. It is a worthless slogan, because under Obama and Clinton the "umbrella" will remain closed--while nuclear lightening and atomic waste rain on Israel.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Must Read Article By Ralph Peters

There is much to commend this lengthy essay by noted commentator Ralph Peters, which is why I have taken the liberty of reproducing it here. Putting aside for another day the why of what happened to the courage, patriotism and intelligence of many members of recent generations--those who had not lived through the Depression and its breadlines, not fought on the beachheads of Normandy and in the swamps of Guadalcanal, not fought their way out of the Pusan Perimeter and taken the brunt of Chinese intervention at the Chosin Reservoir, and not decimated the Vietcong during Tet and survived the Hanoi Hilton--Mr. Peters' discussion of our "increasingly effete view of warfare" should be required reading throughout this country. However, despite the strength of his identifications, I fear that most of the younger members of the American Idol audience will never stand up and do what needs to be done to protect our nation. I fear that the requisite patriotism has been "bred" and "educated" and scared out of them.

A schoolyard bloody nose is not a bad thing!

Mr. Peters' essay appears at: http://www.securityaffairs.org/issues/2009/16/peters.php


"Wishful Thinking and Indecisive Wars "

by Ralph Peters

The most troubling aspect of international security for the United States is not the killing power of our immediate enemies, which remains modest in historical terms, but our increasingly effete view of warfare. The greatest advantage our opponents enjoy is an uncompromising strength of will, their readiness to “pay any price and bear any burden” to hurt and humble us. As our enemies’ view of what is permissible in war expands apocalyptically, our self-limiting definitions of allowable targets and acceptable casualties—hostile, civilian and our own—continue to narrow fatefully. Our enemies cannot defeat us in direct confrontations, but we appear determined to defeat ourselves.

Much has been made over the past two decades of the emergence of “asymmetric warfare,” in which the ill-equipped confront the superbly armed by changing the rules of the battlefield. Yet, such irregular warfare is not new—it is warfare’s oldest form, the stone against the bronze-tipped spear—and the crucial asymmetry does not lie in weaponry, but in moral courage. While our most resolute current enemies—Islamist extremists—may violate our conceptions of morality and ethics, they also are willing to sacrifice more, suffer more and kill more (even among their own kind) than we are. We become mired in the details of minor missteps, while fanatical holy warriors consecrate their lives to their ultimate vision. They live their cause, but we do not live ours. We have forgotten what warfare means and what it takes to win.

There are multiple reasons for this American amnesia about the cost of victory.

First, we, the people, have lived in unprecedented safety for so long (despite the now-faded shock of September 11, 2001) that we simply do not feel endangered; rather, we sense that what nastiness there may be in the world will always occur elsewhere and need not disturb our lifestyles. We like the frisson of feeling a little guilt, but resent all calls to action that require sacrifice.

Second, collective memory has effectively erased the European-sponsored horrors of the last century; yesteryear’s “unthinkable” events have become, well, unthinkable. As someone born only seven years after the ovens of Auschwitz stopped smoking, I am stunned by the common notion, which prevails despite ample evidence to the contrary, that such horrors are impossible today.

Third, ending the draft resulted in a superb military, but an unknowing, detached population. The higher you go in our social caste system, the less grasp you find of the military’s complexity and the greater the expectation that, when employed, our armed forces should be able to fix things promptly and politely.

Fourth, an unholy alliance between the defense industry and academic theorists seduced decision-makers with a false-messiah catechism of bloodless war. In pursuit of billions in profits, defense contractors made promises impossible to fulfill, while think tank scholars sought acclaim by designing warfare models that excited political leaders anxious to get off cheaply, but which left out factors such as the enemy, human psychology, and 5,000 years of precedents.
Fifth, we have become largely a white-collar, suburban society in which a child�s bloody nose is no longer a routine part of growing up, but grounds for a lawsuit; the privileged among us have lost the sense of grit in daily life. We grow up believing that safety from harm is a right that others are bound to respect as we do. Our rising generation of political leaders assumes that, if anyone wishes to do us harm, it must be the result of a misunderstanding that can be resolved by that lethal narcotic of the chattering classes, dialogue.

Last, but not least, history is no longer taught as a serious subject in America’s schools. As a result, politicians lack perspective; journalists lack meaningful touchstones; and the average person’s sense of warfare has been redefined by media entertainments in which misery, if introduced, is brief.

By 1965, we had already forgotten what it took to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and the degeneration of our historical sense has continued to accelerate since then. More Americans died in one afternoon at Cold Harbor during our Civil War than died in six years in Iraq. Three times as many American troops fell during the morning of June 6, 1944, as have been lost in combat in over seven years in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, prize-hunting reporters insist that our losses in Iraq have been catastrophic, while those in Afghanistan are unreasonably high.

We have cheapened the idea of war. We have had wars on poverty, wars on drugs, wars on crime, economic warfare, ratings wars, campaign war chests, bride wars, and price wars in the retail sector. The problem, of course, is that none of these “wars” has anything to do with warfare as soldiers know it. Careless of language and anxious to dramatize our lives and careers, we have elevated policy initiatives, commercial spats and social rivalries to the level of humanity’s most complex, decisive and vital endeavor.

One of the many disheartening results of our willful ignorance has been well-intentioned, inane claims to the effect that “war doesn’t change anything” and that “war isn’t the answer,” that we all need to “give peace a chance.” Who among us would not love to live in such a splendid world?

Unfortunately, the world in which we do live remains one in which war is the primary means of resolving humanity’s grandest disagreements, as well as supplying the answer to plenty of questions. As for giving peace a chance, the sentiment is nice, but it does not work when your self-appointed enemy wants to kill you. Gandhi’s campaign of non-violence (often quite violent in its reality) only worked because his opponent was willing to play along. Gandhi would not have survived very long in Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s (or today’s) China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Effective non-violence is contractual. Where the contract does not exist, Gandhi dies.

Furthermore, our expectations of war’s results have become absurd. Even the best wars do not yield perfect aftermaths. World War II changed the planet for the better, yet left the eastern half of Europe under Stalin’s yoke and opened the door for the Maoist takeover in China. Should we then declare it a failure and not worth fighting? Our Civil War preserved the Union and abolished slavery—worthy results, surely. Still, it took over a century for equality of opportunity for minorities to gain a firm footing. Should Lincoln have let the Confederacy go with slavery untouched, rather than choosing to fight? Expecting Iraq, Afghanistan or the conflict of tomorrow to end quickly, cleanly and neatly belongs to the realm of childhood fantasy, not human reality. Even the most successful war yields imperfect results. An insistence on prompt, ideal outcomes as the measure of victory guarantees the perception of defeat.

Consider the current bemoaning of a perceived “lack of progress” and “setbacks” in Afghanistan. A largely pre-medieval, ferociously xenophobic country that never enjoyed good government or a central power able to control all of its territory had become the hostage of a monstrous regime and a haven for terrorists. Today, Afghanistan has an elected government, feeble though it may be; for the first time in the region”s history, some of the local people welcome, and most tolerate, the presence of foreign troops; women are no longer stoned to death in sports stadiums for the edification of the masses; and the most inventive terrorists of our time have been driven into remote compounds and caves. We agonize (at least in the media) over the persistence of the Taliban, unwilling to recognize that the Taliban or a similar organization will always find a constituency in remote tribal valleys and among fanatics. If we set ourselves the goal of wiping out the Taliban, we will fail. Given a realistic mission of thrusting the Islamists to the extreme margins of society over decades, however, we can effect meaningful change (much as the Ku Klux Klan, whose following once numbered in the millions across our nation, has been reduced to a tiny club of grumps). Even now, we have already won in terms of the crucial question: Is Afghanistan a better place today for most Afghans, for the world and for us than it was on September 10, 2001? Why must we talk ourselves into defeat?

We have the power to win any war. Victory remains possible in every conflict we face today or that looms on the horizon. But, for now, we are unwilling to accept that war not only is, but must be, hell. Sadly, our enemies do not share our scruples.

The present foe

The willful ignorance within the American intelligentsia and in Washington, D.C., does not stop with the mechanics and costs of warfare, but extends to a denial of the essential qualities of our most-determined enemies. While narco-guerrillas, tribal rebels or pirates may vex us, Islamist terrorists are opponents of a far more frightening quality. These fanatics do not yet pose an existential threat to the United States, but we must recognize the profound difference between secular groups fighting for power or wealth and men whose galvanizing dream is to destroy the West. When forced to assess the latter, we take the easy way out and focus on their current capabilities, although the key to understanding them is to study their ultimate goals—no matter how absurd and unrealistic their ambitions may seem to us.

The problem is religion. Our Islamist enemies are inspired by it, while we are terrified even to talk about it. We are in the unique position of denying that our enemies know what they themselves are up to. They insist, publicly, that their goal is our destruction (or, in their mildest moods, our conversion) in their god’s name. We contort ourselves to insist that their religious rhetoric is all a sham, that they are merely cynics exploiting the superstitions of the masses. Setting aside the point that a devout believer can behave cynically in his mundane actions, our phony, one-dimensional analysis of al-Qaeda and its ilk has precious little to do with the nature of our enemies—which we are desperate to deny—and everything to do with us.

We have so oversold ourselves on the notion of respect for all religions (except, of course, Christianity and Judaism) that we insist that faith cannot be a cause of atrocious violence. The notion of killing to please a deity and further his perceived agenda is so unpleasant to us that we simply pretend it away. U.S. intelligence agencies and government departments go to absurd lengths, even in classified analyses, to avoid such basic terms as “Islamist terrorist.” Well, if your enemy is a terrorist and he professes to be an Islamist, it may be wise to take him at his word.
A paralyzing problem –inside the Beltway— is that our ruling class has been educated out of religious fervor. Even officials and bureaucrats who attend a church or synagogue each week no longer comprehend the life-shaking power of revelation, the transformative ecstasy of glimpsing the divine, or the exonerating communalism of living faith. Emotional displays of belief make the functional agnostic or social atheist nervous; he or she reacts with elitist disdain. Thus we insist, for our own comfort, that our enemies do not really mean what they profess, that they are as devoid of a transcendental sense of the universe as we are.

History parades no end of killers-for-god in front of us. The procession has lasted at least five thousand years. At various times, each major faith—especially our inherently violent monotheist faiths—has engaged in religious warfare and religious terrorism. When a struggling faith finds itself under the assault of a more powerful foreign belief system, it fights: Jews against Romans, Christians against Muslims, Muslims against Christians and Jews. When faiths feel threatened, externally or internally, they fight as long as they retain critical mass. Today the Judeo-Christian/post-belief world occupies the dominant strategic position, as it has, increasingly, for the last five centuries, its rise coinciding with Islam’s long descent into cultural darkness and civilizational impotence. Behind all its entertaining bravado, Islam is fighting for its life, for validation.

Islam, in other words, is on the ropes, despite no end of nonsense heralding “Eurabia” or other Muslim demographic conquests. If demography were all there was to it, China and India long since would have divided the world between them. Islam today is composed of over a billion essentially powerless human beings, many of them humiliated and furiously jealous. So Islam fights and will fight, within its meager-but-pesky capabilities. Operationally, it matters little that the failures of the Middle Eastern Islamic world are self-wrought, the disastrous results of the deterioration of a once-triumphant faith into a web of static cultures obsessed with behavior at the expense of achievement. The core world of Islam, stretching from Casablanca to the Hindu Kush, is not competitive in a single significant sphere of human endeavor (not even terrorism since, at present, we are terrorizing the terrorists). We are confronted with a historical anomaly, the public collapse of a once-great, still-proud civilization that, in the age of super-computers, cannot build a reliable automobile: enormous wealth has been squandered; human capital goes wasted; economies are dysfunctional; and the quality of life is barbaric. Those who once cowered at Islam’s greatness now rule the world. The roughly one-fifth of humanity that makes up the Muslim world lacks a single world-class university of its own. The resultant rage is immeasurable; jealousy may be the greatest unacknowledged strategic factor in the world today.
Embattled cultures dependably experience religious revivals: What does not work in this life will work in the next. All the deity in question asks is submission, sacrifice—and action to validate faith. Unlike the terrorists of yesteryear, who sought to change the world and hoped to live to see it changed, today’s terrorists focus on god’s kingdom and regard death as a promotion. We struggle to explain suicide bombers in sociological terms, deciding that they are malleable and unhappy young people, psychologically vulnerable. But plenty of individuals in our own society are malleable, unhappy and unstable. Where are the Western atheist suicide bombers?
To make enduring progress against Islamist terrorists, we must begin by accepting that the terrorists are Islamists. And the use of the term “Islamist,” rather than “Islamic,” is vital—not for reasons of political correctness, but because it connotes a severe deviation from what remains, for now, mainstream Islam. We face enemies who celebrate death and who revel in bloodshed. Islamist terrorists have a closer kinship with the blood cults of the pre-Islamic Middle East—or even with the Aztec—than they do with the ghazis who exploded out of the Arabian desert, ablaze with a new faith. At a time when we should be asking painful questions about why the belief persists that gods want human blood, we insist on downplaying religion’s power and insisting that our new enemies are much the same as the old ones. It is as if we sought to analyze Hitler’s Germany without mentioning Nazis.

We will not even accept that the struggle between Islam and the West never ceased. Even after Islam’s superpower status collapsed, the European imperial era was bloodied by countless Muslim insurrections, and even the Cold War was punctuated with Islamist revivals and calls for jihad. The difference down the centuries was that, until recently, the West understood that this was a survival struggle and did what had to be done (the myth that insurgents of any kind usually win has no historical basis). Unfortunately for our delicate sensibilities, the age-old lesson of religion-fueled rebellions is that they must be put down with unsparing bloodshed—the fanatic’s god is not interested in compromise solutions. The leading rebels or terrorists must be killed. We, on the contrary, want to make them our friends.

The paradox is that our humane approach to warfare results in unnecessary bloodshed. Had we been ruthless in the use of our overwhelming power in the early days of conflict in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the ultimate human toll—on all sides—would have been far lower. In warfare of every kind, there is an immutable law: If you are unwilling to pay the butcher’s bill up front, you will pay it with compound interest in the end. Iraq was not hard; we made it so. Likewise, had we not tried to do Afghanistan on the cheap, Osama bin Laden would be dead and al-Qaeda even weaker than it is today.

When the United States is forced to go to war—or decides to go to war—it must intend to win. That means that rather than setting civilian apparatchiks to calculate minimum force levels, we need to bring every possible resource to bear from the outset—an approach that saves blood and treasure in the long run. And we must stop obsessing about our minor sins. Warfare will never be clean, soldiers will always make mistakes, and rounds will always go astray, despite our conscientious safeguards and best intentions. Instead of agonizing over a fatal mistake made by a young Marine at a roadblock, we must return to the fundamental recognition that the greatest “war crime” the United States can commit is to lose.

Other threats, new dimensions

Within the defense community, another danger looms: the risk of preparing to re-fight the last war, or, in other words, assuming that our present struggles are the prototypes of our future ones. As someone who spent much of the 1990s arguing that the U.S. armed forces needed to prepare for irregular warfare and urban combat, I now find myself required to remind my former peers in the military that we must remain reasonably prepared for traditional threats from states.

Yet another counter-historical assumption is that states have matured beyond fighting wars with each other, that everyone would have too much to lose, that the inter-connected nature of trade makes full-scale conventional wars impossible. That is precisely the view that educated Europeans held in the first decade of the twentieth century. Even the youngish Winston Churchill, a veteran of multiple colonial conflicts, believed that general war between civilized states had become unthinkable. It had not.

Bearing in mind that, while neither party desires war, we could find ourselves tumbling, a la 1914, into a conflict with China, we need to remember that the apparent threat of the moment is not necessarily the deadly menace of tomorrow. It may not be China that challenges us, after all, but the unexpected rise of a dormant power. The precedent is there: in 1929, Germany had a playground military limited to 100,000 men. Ten years later, a re-armed Germany had embarked on the most destructive campaign of aggression in history, its killing power and savagery exceeding that of the Mongols. Without militarizing our economy (or indulging our unscrupulous defense industry), we must carry out rational modernization efforts within our conventional forces—even as we march through a series of special-operations-intensive fights for which there is no end in sight. We do not need to bankrupt ourselves to do so, but must accept an era of hard choices, asking ourselves not which weapons we would like to have, but which are truly necessary.

Still, even should we make perfect acquisition decisions (an unlikely prospect, given the power of lobbyists and public relations firms serving the defense industry), that would not guarantee us victory or even a solid initial performance in a future conventional war. As with the struggle to drive terrorists into remote corners, we are limited less by our military capabilities than by our determination to pretend that war can be made innocently.

Whether faced with conventional or unconventional threats, the same deadly impulse is at work in our government and among the think tank astrologers who serve as its courtiers: An insistence on constantly narrowing the parameters of what is permissible in warfare. We are attempting to impose ever sterner restrictions on the conduct of war even as our enemies, immediate and potential, are exploring every possible means of expanding their conduct of conflicts into new realms of total war.

What is stunning about the United States is the fragility of our system. To strategically immobilize our military, you have only to successfully attack one link in the chain, our satellites. Our homeland’s complex infrastructure offers ever-increasing opportunities for disruption to enemies well aware that they cannot defeat our military head-on, but who hope to wage total war asymmetrically, leapfrogging over our ships and armored divisions to make daily life so miserable for Americans that we would quit the fight. No matter that even the gravest attacks upon our homeland might, instead, re-arouse the killer spirit among Americans�our enemies view the home front as our weak flank.

From what we know of emerging Chinese and Russian war-fighting doctrine, both from their writings and their actions against third parties, their concept of the future battlefield is all-inclusive, even as we, for our part, long to isolate combatants in a post-modern version of a medieval joust. As just a few minor examples, consider Russia’s and China’s use of cyber-attacks to punish and even paralyze other states. We are afraid to post dummy websites for information-warfare purposes, since we have talked ourselves into warfare-by-lawyers. Meanwhile, the Chinese routinely seek to infiltrate or attack Pentagon computer networks, while Russia paralyzed Estonia through a massive cyber-blitzkrieg just a couple of years ago. Our potential enemies believe that anything that might lead to victory is permissible. We are afraid that we might get sued.

Yet, even the Chinese and Russians do not have an apocalyptic vision of warfare. They want to survive and they would be willing to let us survive, if only on their terms. But religion-driven terrorists care not for this world and its glories. If the right Islamist terrorists acquired a usable nuclear weapon, they would not hesitate to employ it (the most bewildering security analysts are those who minimize the danger should Iran acquire nuclear weapons). The most impassioned extremists among our enemies not only have no qualms about the mass extermination of unbelievers, but would be delighted to offer their god rivers of the blood of less-devout Muslims. Our fiercest enemies are in love with death.
For our part, we truly think that our enemies are kidding, that we can negotiate with them, after all, if only we could figure out which toys they really want. They pray to their god for help in cutting our throats, and we want to chat.

The killers without guns

While the essence of warfare never changes—it will always be about killing the enemy until he acquiesces in our desires or is exterminated—its topical manifestations evolve and its dimensions expand. Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight, but one which we not only refrain from attacking but are hesitant to annoy: the media.

While this brief essay cannot undertake to analyze the psychological dysfunctions that lead many among the most privileged Westerners to attack their own civilization and those who defend it, we can acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that, to most media practitioners, our troops are always guilty (even if proven innocent), while our barbaric enemies are innocent (even if proven guilty). The phenomenon of Western and world journalists championing the “rights” and causes of blood-drenched butchers who, given the opportunity, would torture and slaughter them, disproves the notion—were any additional proof required—that human beings are rational creatures. Indeed, the passionate belief of so much of the intelligentsia that our civilization is evil and only the savage is noble looks rather like an anemic version of the self-delusions of the terrorists themselves. And, of course, there is a penalty for the intellectual’s dismissal of religion: humans need to believe in something greater than themselves, even if they have a degree from Harvard. Rejecting the god of their fathers, the neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists’ bloody altar.

Of course, the media have shaped the outcome of conflicts for centuries, from the European wars of religion through Vietnam. More recently, though, the media have determined the outcomes of conflicts. While journalists and editors ultimately failed to defeat the U.S. government in Iraq, video cameras and biased reporting guaranteed that Hezbollah would survive the 2006 war with Israel and, as of this writing, they appear to have saved Hamas from destruction in Gaza.
Pretending to be impartial, the self-segregating personalities drawn to media careers overwhelmingly take a side, and that side is rarely ours. Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.

The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity’s interests, while our failures nourish monsters.

In closing, we must dispose of one last mantra that has been too broadly and uncritically accepted: the nonsense that, if we win by fighting as fiercely as our enemies, we will “become just like them.” To convince Imperial Japan of its defeat, we not only had to fire-bomb Japanese cities, but drop two atomic bombs. Did we then become like the Japanese of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere? Did we subsequently invade other lands with the goal of permanent conquest, enslaving their populations? Did our destruction of German cities—also necessary for victory—turn us into Nazis? Of course, you can find a few campus leftists who think so, but they have yet to reveal the location of our death camps.

We may wish reality to be otherwise, but we must deal with it as we find it. And the reality of warfare is that it is the organized endeavor at which human beings excel. Only our ability to develop and maintain cities approaches warfare in its complexity. There is simply nothing that human collectives do better (or with more enthusiasm) than fight each other. Whether we seek explanations for human bloodlust in Darwin, in our religious texts (do start with the Book of Joshua), or among the sociologists who have done irreparable damage to the poor, we finally must accept empirical reality: at least a small minority of humanity longs to harm others. The violent, like the poor, will always be with us, and we must be willing to kill those who would kill others. At present, the American view of warfare has degenerated from science to a superstition in which we try to propitiate the gods with chants and dances. We need to regain a sense of the world’s reality.

Of all the enemies we face today and may face tomorrow, the most dangerous is our own wishful thinking.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moonstruck: Why Ayn Rand Would Have Mourned The Death Of Space Exploration



By: Erika Holzer

This coming week marks the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon.

Ayn Rand was on hand to celebrate that history-making achievement. On July 16, l969, after having concluded a tour of Cape Kennedy’s Space Center the day before, Ms. Rand—an honored guest of NASA—witnessed the launching of Apollo 11. Two months later, in a fifteen-page article (“Apollo 11,” The Objectivist, September 1969), Rand described in some detail to her readers (as well as to a rapt audience of her personal friends at my apartment in Manhattan) just how meaningful were those breathtaking seven minutes from countdown to liftoff.

I have always thought of her description of that launch—written and oral—as “beyond eloquence”:“[T]his spectacle was not the product of inanimate nature . . . ” she wrote. “[N]or of chance, nor of luck . . . . [I]t was unmistakably human—with ‘human,’ for once, meaning grandeur . . . . For once, if only for seven minutes, the worst among those who saw it had to feel—not ‘How small is man by the side of the Grand Canyon!’—but ‘How great is man and how safe is nature when he conquers it!’ ” (Emphasis Rand’s.)

Ayn Rand would have welcomed columnist Charles Krauthammer as a spokesman—a spiritual comrade-in-arms, one might say—on the matter of space exploration. In his recent July 17 column, “The Moon We Forgot,” Krauthammer bemoans what he describes as America’s retreat from space:“After countless millennia of gazing and dreaming, we finally got off the ground at Kitty Hawk in 1903. Within 65 years, a nanosecond in human history, we’d landed on the moon. Then five more landings, 10 more moonwalkers, and, in the decades since, nothing . . . . America’s manned space program is in shambles. Fourteen months from today, for the first time since 1962, the U.S. will be incapable not just of sending a man to the moon but of sending anyone into Earth orbit. We’ll be totally grounded.”

And Ayn Rand would have relished Krauthammer’s telling rhetorical question:“So what, you say? Don’t we have problems here on Earth? Oh please. Poverty and disease and social ills will always be with us. If we’d waited for them to be rectified before venturing out, we’d still be living in caves.”

Not surprisingly, Ayn Rand had anticipated such negative fallout would follow in the wake of the Apollo launch. She wrote derisively about the sort of people who can always be counted upon to lobby for a “better” use for our money—such as fighting a war on poverty. She knew better. So does Charles Krauthammer. Raising the question of why a manned space program is important, he says emphatically, “It’s not for practicality. We didn’t go to the moon to spin off cooling suits and freeze-dried fruit. Any technological return is a bonus, not a reason. We go for the wonder and glory of it. Or, to put it less grandly, for its immense possibilities.”

When Rand expressed hope that the flight of Apollo 11 would be “ . . . the first achievement of a new age . . . not a glorious last,” she got her wish—for a time, that is: those five more landings and ten more moonwalkers. And while she knew all too well the pitfalls of this country’s “mixed economy,” she wrote—with, arguably, a touch of defiance—that “ . . . [I]f the United States is to commit suicide . . . let some of its life blood go to the support of achievement and the progress of science . . . .” (“Apollo 11,” The Objectivist, September 1969).

Sadly, this was not to be.

Krauthammer aptly describes what has been stripped from our lives:“We are now deep into that hyper-terrestrial phase, the age of iPod and Facebook, of social networking and eco-consciousness . . . . But look up from your Blackberry one night. That is the moon. On it are exactly 12 sets of human footprints—untouched, unchanged, abandoned. For the first time in history,” he notes, “the moon is not just a mystery and a muse but a nightly rebuke. We came, we saw, we retreated.”

And when he wonders aloud, “How could we?” Charles Krauthammer speaks not only for those of us who never lost our sense of adventure and magic, our sense of wonder.

He speaks for Ayn Rand.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Moment Of Silence

This was sent to me by a reliable source, who received it from the author. Because it is "signed," I believe it to be real. But even if it is not, no matter. The point is made!

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June 30, 2009

Everyone,

I wanted to share something that just happened tonight.

I was sitting at the gate in the Washington-Baltimore airport waiting on my flight to Charlotte.

The plane was at the gate.

While we were waiting for the attendant to announce the boarding for our flight, I saw about a dozen Transportation Security Agency uniformed personnel head to the departure ramp. I was concerned there was a problem, meaning a delay. Just what I needed!

Several of us moved to the observation window to see if we could see anything going on outside.

That is when I saw a lone uniformed Marine standing at the bottom of the ramp leading from the cargo hold of the aircraft to the ground. I thought to myself how this small delay for me was nothing compared to the sacrifice a Marine and his family made for our nation.

There were more and more people gathering to see what we were looking at down on the tarmac. The people were quiet, but not silent. I looked down the concourse and saw other small groups gathered close to the other observation windows looking down at the conveyor and the small detail of Marines that had appeared. They were part of the funeral detail or an Honor Guard. In the distance there was a hearse, another vehicle, and a police car. As they drove to the bottom of the ramp, I knew the remains of a Marine, in a flag draped casket, were about to be moved from the aircraft and into the hearse. It is customary for uniformed members of the armed services to salute any American flag as it passes...especially when it is covering the remains of one of our fallen warriors.

The people standing around me were mostly civilians, but I could tell they wanted to be respectful, they just did not know how. I had no idea if that Marine's family was down below in one of the vehicles. I couldn't have the family, or those Marines, look up and see a bunch of people standing from above...staring.

When I saw the pall bearers (Marines) move to the bottom of the ramp, I had to do something.

It has been four years since I retired from the Army, but duty called.

I turned and faced everyone in the terminal, and in my loudest command voice, I told everyone the remains of a Marine were about to be unloaded from the aircraft, and it is customary for everyone to stand and be silent as the body is moved. Believe it or not, everybody, as far as I could see, stood up and the entire terminal became quiet. I then said as loudly as I could, that all current and former service members, in or out of uniform, were authorized to render the hand salute, and all civilians were to place their hand over their hearts. As soon as the tip of the flag draped coffin appeared, I bellowed out "Pre-sent...ARMS" and you could hear a pin drop except for the multitude of arms going over their hearts. The entire terminal was silent...no talking, no announcements over the PA, silence...only silence.

The casket traveled down the ramp. All the US Air employees servicing the aircraft and unloading baggage stopped and stood silently with their hands over their hearts. The police officer was saluting. The Marines picked upthe casket and placed it gently into the hearse, then closed the rear door. Inside the terminal, I gave the command to "Or-Der Arms". When I turned around, there were literally hundreds and hundreds of people standing silently...all over the terminal...at all the gates on our side of the concourse, as well as all the gates on the opposite side. I noticed every woman, of child bearing age either had tears in her eyes, or running down their cheeks...and a lot of fathers did too.

I was taken back. People still care.

During the next 10 minutes, a lot of former service members, fathers of soldiers, and a few moms came and thanked me for letting them know what to do. I didn't do anything compared to that Marine.

People want to be led to do what is right...America still cares. America still has gratitude. The American spirit is not dead. We don't need to apologize to anyone for who we are. I don't know who that Marine was, where he served, or how he died. All I know is that he raised his right arm, took the oath, put on that uniform, and did his duty. That's good enough for me. I don't know how he died, or where he was going. All I know is that his dreams for a better life are over. Somewhere tonight there is a grieving wife, or mother, or father...and their pain has just begun. I began this evening concerned that I might be inconvenienced. Tonight I am safe, my family is safe, the worst thing that might happen to me is a little inconvenience. I am safe because of the sacrifices that Marine made. I am safe due to the sacrifices that all our brothers in arms have made since 1776.

His duty is over. Our duty is not. It is not our duty to simply stand and pay respect as a fallen soldier passes. Our duty is to remain steadfast that our Armed Forces not be committed to harm's way recklessly, that theybe properly housed, trained, and led. We need to do our duty to provide our young men and women with the best equipment, not simply with weapons and armor that is "good enough". I wish I knew the family of that Marine to say thanks. I wish I could let them know that for a few minutes, in an airport terminal of one of the busiest airports in the United States of America, a group of Americans rendered an honor to their son. I doubt it could take the edge off their loss, but I think it wouldn't hurt. It made me think. It made us all reflect for a few minutes.

Gratitude.

Thank you brave Marine for one last gift...

Hooah...

Semper Fi.

Ken Robertson, LTC, USAR, Retired Reserve

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thoughts For Independence Day: Douglas MacArthur At West Point, May 12, 1962

I am writing a book about General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur. Just today, I turned to the speech he delivered in his waning days to the Corps of Cadets at West Point. MacArthur's words some four decades ago provide needed inspiration for us today. They should be shared widely. The full, corrected text appears below. Happy Independence Day, from one who believes more strongly than ever in the ideals that are the bedrock principles upon which our Republic rests.

HMH

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No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute as this, coming from a profession I have served so long and a people I have loved so well. It fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But this [Thayer] award is not intended primarily to honor a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code — the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent. That is the animation of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal, arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which will be with me always.

“Duty, Honor, Country” — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.

The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.

They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future, yet never neglect the past; to be serious, yet never take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, an appetite for adventure over love of ease.

They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.
And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory?

Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then, as I regard him now, as one of the world's noblest figures; not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless.

His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast.

But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements.

In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage.

As I listened to those songs, in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-pocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory.

Always for them: Duty, Honor, Country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth. And twenty years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of dirty foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts, those broiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms, the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails, the bitterness of long separation of those they loved and cherished, the deadly pestilence of tropical disease, the horror of stricken areas of war.
Their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory — always victory, always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men, reverently following your password of Duty, Honor, Country.

The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral law and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promoted for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong. The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training: sacrifice. In battle and in the face of danger and death, he disposes those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in His own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the divine help which alone can sustain him. However hard the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.

You now face a new world, a world of change. The thrust into outer space of the satellite spheres and missiles mark a beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind. In the five or more billions of years the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the human race, there has never been a more abrupt or staggering evolution. We deal now, not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe. We are reaching out for a new and boundless frontier. We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy; of making winds and tides work for us; of creating unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; to purify sea water for our drink; of mining the ocean floors for new fields of wealth and food; of disease preventatives to expand life into the hundreds of years; of controlling the weather for a more equitable distribution of heat and cold, of rain and shine; of spaceships to the Moon; of the primary target in war, no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy; of such dreams and fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all time.

And through all this welter of change and development your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win our wars. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment; but you are the ones who are trained to fight. Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be Duty, Honor, Country.

Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men's minds. But serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation's war guardians, as its lifeguards from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiators in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice. Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government: whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as firm and complete as they should be; these great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a tenfold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the Nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds.

The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.

This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished — tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen then, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.

Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.

I bid you farewell.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rush Is Half Right

A report is circulating that Rush Limbaugh has been speculating about whether our unesteemed president is angling for a third term by having surrogates lay the groundwork for a repeal of the Twenty-Second Amendment.

That's an unlikely scenario.

The 22d Amendment (the numbers and italics are mine) provides that: "The Congress, [1] whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, [2] on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, [3]when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,or [4] by Conventions in three fourths thereof [5] as the one or other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress. * * *

Note the substantial hurdles a repeal effort would face.

So in discussing the Twenty-Second Amendment Rush is mistaken.

But he's absolutely correct that Barack Obama will try to extend his reign, though not via repeal of the Twenty-Second Amendment.

He will try to pull this off through his wife, Michelle Obama: Princeton graduate, Harvard lawyer, hospital executive, and First Lady--who has just shaken up her staff and told anyone who'll listen, that she insists on more of a "substantive" role in affairs of state.

You heard it here!

Watch as Michelle Obama's visibility increases radically (no pun intended), and as she assumes a "substantive" role in her husband's administration.

It would not be the first time a wife succeeded her husband in elective office.

Though not for the presidency, which would be a first.

Why not? Her husband was one.