Monday, June 04, 2007

What Did You Do In The War, Mommy?

If you want to read what I was responding to, here it is (I'm reprinting it in full to avoid the usual 2-week expiration date on Tribune links, and will happily delete whatever's necessary if I am not within the proper boundaries of fair use):

We must muster the backbone to ensure victory, which is vital to our future

By Linda Turley-Hansen, East Valley Tribune, May 27, 2007

This weekend we honor those who didn’t run away. Across this country and on foreign shores are the remains of beloved Americans who pay, long after their deaths, the mortgage on our freedom. There are no expiration dates on their sacrifices; they are perpetual gifts. We must remember.

I’m a regular citizen, a desert dweller without political credentials, but still I get one vote. We’ve watched for months and years as sidewalk generals debate the Iraq war like drunken Super Bowl fans, while American enemies and agenda-driven media recycle the prattle into destructive influence. It’s time to be counted.

I’ve made my decision. I will stand with those who tell us that we cannot back away. No matter how flawed the decision to go to war, or how disappointing the Bush administration, we cannot flee. To retreat will unleash incomprehensible consequences.

A few have tried to explain: Author and Cambridge medical researcher Mac Johnson ( lays out one of the best overviews using Arab mentality: "Shame is feared more than death. Honor is loved more than life. Our enemies would be energized -- sending shockwaves of confident jihadis throughout the world." They will "flock overnight to those that offer such honor."

He adds the psychology of war: "Defeat encourages attack. Withdrawal encourages chase -- and then our troops will be sent back out again, all over the world, without their aura of competence and power to help protect them."

He’s right, you know, but the few brave voices in Washington trying to warn us are drowned by those prepared to sacrifice a nation for the next election. I often turn to Will and Ariel Durant, who wrote "The Story of Civilization." As a wise after-thought, the two summarized 10 volumes to create "The Lessons of History." Fools ignore their insight: "The immense past was only the weary rehearsal of the mistakes that the future is destined to make on a larger stage and scale." And, then: "A world order will come not by a gentleman’s agreement, but through so decisive a victory by one of the great powers that it will be able to dictate and enforce international law."

When did we turn stupid? Was it when our thriving economy served up a comfy life? Was it when we deferred to those who would undermine God? Was it when we appeased the multi-cultural agenda, allowing factual history to be marginalized, or when we allowed our borders to be invaded?

Of course there are those who want America eviscerated. They don’t see the blessing of a nation built on human rights, standing strong in military might and influence. Actually, they are embarrassed by American strength. They reason through ignorance, refusing to learn from the history so well laid out by the Durants.

In The Wall Street Journal last week, Princeton professor emeritus Bernard Lewis reminisced: "Islamists always believed the U.S. was weak." Osama bin Laden and his motley crew watched in the 1990s as America flicked off one attack after the other as if they were nothing more than an irritating flea on the fat backside of a water buffalo.

Is that really who we are? The Durants nailed it in 1968 -- decades before errorists gained footing: "Caught in the relaxing intervals between one moral code and the next, an unmoored generation surrenders itself to luxury, corruption, and a restless disorder of family and morals." Few souls feel any longer that "it is beautiful and honorable to die for one’s country."

And, then the prediction: "The end of the process -- a decisive defeat in war -- may bring a final blow or barbarian invasion from without, combined with barbarism welling up from within, to bring the civilization to a close."

We will pay dearly if we retreat from Iraq. Left to sort it out would be what most assuredly is the most corrupt elected leadership in history. No wonder we can’t sleep at night.

Where to begin? I start with simple steps: What is this victory she desires, what will it look like? Never mind how we get there; if you don't know where you're going, I suppose any road is just as good as another. And is she really so frightened that she thinks a bunch of insurgents in Iraq can force the US to surrender? To whom?

But what really frosts me is that she calls skeptics of the Bush administration and its competence "stupid" and "ignorant," and claims that we desire to see America "evicerated," but somehow I'm the one being negative? Sheesh.

East Valley Tribune, June 3, 2007

Last Sunday, Linda Turley-Hansen wrote that we must fight and win in Iraq, that "retreat will unleash incomprehensible consequences."

Because war is basically psychological, and the Arab mindset, which they all share, fears shame more than death, loves honor more than life. Defeat encourages attack, and the enemy then will strike everywhere. Leaving Iraq will "sacrifice [our] nation."

Bunk. Nonsense. Turley-Hansen claims she’s making a stand, but her support of the war effort is limited solely to attacking those who presciently warned that the decision to go to war was flawed and that the Bush administration never fails to perform below expectations.

Will she sell her cars, to avoid purchasing gasoline and thereby enriching those corrupt Arab states? Will she pay anything for the war effort, by donating more to Veterans Affairs or the USO? Or to Halliburton? Will she go to Iraq, to work with Iraqi reporters and TV crews, giving them the benefit of her experience as a television personality in a desert climate?

I don’t think so. For people who claim that we’re in an existential battle for survival, with Western civilization itself hanging in the balance, and in which any little thing -- wearing a headscarf in Syria, an article by some crackpot in Colorado -- could mean America’s downfall, there’s surprisingly little that they’ll actually do for this war. No driving less, no Victory Gardens, no savings bonds. Pay higher taxes? Dream on. Enlist? Not in this lifetime.

Then there’s Turley-Hansen’s prescription for victory, which I apparently missed. But regardless, what exactly does "winning" in Iraq mean? A multi-ethnic democracy? A stable dictatorship? A partitioned country with separate Shi’a, Sunni, and Kurds enclaves? How do you fight to victory, if nobody knows what victory is?

In her loud enlistment in this war "effort" Turley-Hansen means to do one thing, and one thing only: Silence those who disagree with her, and blame them for the failure of her policies.

This isn’t history, or strategy. It’s bad science fiction, that if you think hard enough, good results must follow. Bloggers call this obsession with "willpower" the "Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics."

In the comic, Green Lantern’s ring was limited only by the wearer’s will. (It also could create only green stuff, but he would work around that.) The ring could do anything -- if Green Lantern only had enough willpower. And Turley-Hansen’s lesson for us is that Arabs understand only willpower, and if we don’t have enough, then the ring (or our military) won’t prevail and we won't survive.

Maybe you didn’t read Green Lantern comics, but you’ve heard of Oprah. She devoted two shows to a self-help book called The Secret, which claims that our thoughts can control the world, that visualizing best-case scenarios makes them happen.

That’s the Bush administration’s strategy, which Turley-Hansen just endorsed. Think positive thoughts! We’ll be greeted as liberators, and the reconstruction will pay for itself with oil revenues! If bad things happen, it’s because we used "the Law of Attraction" to "manifest" bad results! Everything depends on what you think, deep down -- and just imagining bad outcomes only ensures their occurrence.

Oprah even backed away from her endorsement of The Secret when a viewer wrote to say that she was stopping her breast-cancer treatments to cure herself with her mind instead. And Turley-Hansen’s demand that we fight! And win! And decide later what winning means! makes just as much sense as relying on willpower and foregoing medicine in fighting cancer.

If it’s really true that the terrorists are emboldened by dissent, wouldn’t that be true of any criticism of President Bush and his policies? How closely do those terrorists read the newspaper, anyway? By attacking the immigration bill, aren’t GOP critics also showing Arabs that we’re divided, weak, and lacking in the ol’ willpower department?

If criticism is disloyalty, tell immigration bill opponents J.D. Hayworth and Randy Pullen to shut up first. Then maybe I’ll listen.

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