Thursday, April 27, 2006


Strategypage ("The News as History") military blogger Harold Hutchinson writes in TCS Daily:
Milblogger efforts have shown that the landscape has changed greatly from Vietnam. As Steve, who blogs at Threatswatch, pointed out, the Tet Offensive was a military defeat for the North Vietnamese, but the victory by American forces on the battlefield was taken away by misreporting from the media of that time. Today, such misreporting will not go unchallenged, as there is a check against the MSM.

The milbloggers largely agreed that this is the major difference between the War on Terror and the Vietnam War. This time, the people who know the facts and the good news stories have the ability to get them out without the filters of the major mainstream media outlets, changing the terrain of the information battlefield. This shift in the terrain has helped keep the United States from completely losing the war on the home front.
Helping to prevent such a Vietnamization of Iraq is only one of the milblogger contributions. And while most milbloggers (like Hutchinson, or Steve of Threatswatch or Blackfive) are generally positive about the War in Iraq, some--Chris Bray comes to mind--are not and have been allowed to express as much. Perhaps this is because the insight provided by men and women involved in the Iraq War or the GWOT--whether on the front lines or not--is worth having. In short, blogging has allowed soldiers to write modern day equivalents of To Hell and Back, With The Old Breed or even Catch-22 in "real-time." I think that the American public has been well served by the milbloggers and could benefit even more if the MSM did a better job of consistently bringing us such personal stories from Iraq.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Grumbling Generals in Preemptive Run for Cover?

James Pinkerton thinks that the generals calling for SecDef Rumsfeld's head may be trying a c.y.a. maneuver in case H.R. McMaster decides to write another book. Maybe, but given some of his past writings and his current involvement in Iraq, I'm not sure if Sec. Rumsfeld is the one he'd be going after.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Euston Manifesto

The Euston Manifesto calls for a new progressivism.
We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.
It even has something to say about History:
12) Historical truth.
In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.
But this is probably the important context that inspired the Manifesto:
The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted — rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention.

This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic life to the country. We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip service to these ends, while devoting most of one's energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi "insurgency". The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess.

Those Grumbling Retired Generals

So, it seems that some retired Generals are grumbling about SecDef Rumsfeld and his (which really means the President's) policies. Paul Merengoff notes:
Griping ex-generals are always with us. President Clinton certainly had his detractors among the military brass, and not just retired brass. If I recall correctly, the MSM tended to attirbute this phenomenon to the neanderthalism within the military. In any case, the existence of griping generals, without more, means little. The "more" is a close analysis of the substance of the griping. This seems largely lacking in the MSM accounts.
Wretchard, Victor Davis Hansen, Rich Lowry and Dafyyd ab Hugh have all attempted to provide some substance. Dafyyd chalks the grumbling up to two things: the generals are mostly men who earned their stars under President Clinton and--more likely to my mind--they have a fundamentally different conception of how to wage war. Wretchard also touches upon this latter point while current JCS Chairman Gen. Peter Pace disputes any sort of muzzling.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A New Nativist Movement?

Glenn Reynolds:
[T]hough labor unions have a lot of influence within the Democratic Party, they don't have the votes anymore. Just as Republicans are caught between their business-oriented constituencies (who want cheap labor that doesn't talk back) and their grassroots constituencies (who don't like illegal immigration), so too are the Democrats caught between two constituencies of their own [labor and immigrants (broadly defined)].

The more I think about it, the more this looks like fertile ground for a third party to emerge. Who will it hurt more? The Republicans, or the Democrats? I'm not sure. Perhaps it will shake things up in general.
Reynolds may be onto something, and I can't help but look at the past and wonder if a new nativist movement is afoot. I doubt very much any such movement will rely on the same sort of racist, anti-Catholic (for instance) rhetoric of the 19th century. I also expect that those pro-"any"immigrant groups will attempt to portray anti-illegal immigrant groups as the 21st century equivalent of the aforemntioned 19th century nativists (even more than they already have).

If Reynold's is correct, than any such party would by definition have a pretty narrow agenda that would probably only appeal to certain sections--both geographically and ideologically--of the population. I'm not knowledgeable enough to define what such a coalition would look like, but I think--and this is no profound insight--that the Southwest would provide a geographical center for any such movement. Given that, perhaps Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R) could be an attractive candidate to such a movement, though he'd probably run as a Republican.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Immigration Debate Euphemism

Walter Williams:
Being a relatively land-rich and labor-scarce nation, immigration has always been good for our country. Plus, for most of our history, there was a guarantee that immigrants would come here to work. The alternative was starvation.

With today's welfare state, there's no such guarantee. People can come here, not work and not starve because the welfare state guarantees that they can live off the rest of us.

At the heart of today's immigration problem is its illegality. According to several estimates, there are 11 million people who are in our country illegally, mostly from Mexico. Many people, including my libertarian friends and associates, advance an argument that differs little from saying that people anywhere in the world have a right to live in the United States irrespective of our laws or preferences.

According to that vision, American people do not have a right to set either the number of people who enter our country or the conditions upon which they enter. Some of the arguments and terms used in the immigration debate defy reason. First, there's the refusal to call these people "illegal aliens." The politically preferred term is "undocumented workers," which is nothing less than verbal sleight-of-hand. After all, I, too, am an undocumented worker.
Thomas Sowell
Immigration is yet another issue which we seem unable to discuss rationally -- in part because words have been twisted beyond recognition in political rhetoric.

We can't even call illegal immigrants "illegal immigrants." The politically correct evasion is "undocumented workers."

Do American citizens go around carrying documents with them when they work or apply for work? Most Americans are undocumented workers but they are not illegal immigrants. There is a difference.

The Bush administration is pushing a program to legalize "guest workers." But what is a guest? Someone you have invited. People who force their way into your home without your permission are called gate crashers.
Jay Ambrose:
Some years back, when we talked about foreigners sneaking into our land in contravention of the law and then setting up camp for years and years, we called them illegal aliens -- which, of course, is exactly what they were. . .

But some were unhappy with the word choice. They worried that the phrase was insulting, because, you see, another definition of alien is a "creature from outer space," and besides, the word as an adjective can also denote strangeness.

English, as we all know, is a language full of words with multiple meanings, and except in poetry and jokes, we mostly manage to understand that one meaning of a word does not somehow color another of its meanings. But politics was at work here, not lexicography, and those harping on the issue would not be appeased until most media outlets were calling illegal aliens "illegal immigrants," and later "undocumented workers," and finally -- in a surprising number of cases -- just "immigrants."

Then the word manipulators sprang their trap -- so to speak. When members of Congress proposed laws to regain control of who resides in America, foes acted as if they were betraying something fundamental in America's traditions. According to them, these lawmakers were picking on immigrants -- and aren't we a nation of immigrants? Didn't all of our ancestors or we ourselves come from other lands, and doesn't this fact mean we should embrace all these other immigrants?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Choosing Security over Freedom

Charles Krauthammer writes about "the strangest revolution the French have ever produced" (referring to the under 25 year-old strike in France) and notes that: is not just a long way from the ideals of 1789. It is the very antithesis. It represents an escape from freedom, a demand for an arbitrary powerful state in whose bosom you can settle for life.
Usually, the freedom vs. security dichotomy has been put forth by the left or right with regards to the War on Terror and the Patriot Act. This is the first time I've seen them used in such a way.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Medicinal Stoicism in the Middle Ages

Providence Journal columnist (and M.D.) Stanley M. Aronson writes about medical care in the Middle Ages:
Medicine in the 14th Century was a struggling secular enterprise, standing in opposition to both the widely held reliance upon religious healing and the stoic acceptance of the world as it is. Certainly the power of the saints to heal was commonly accepted, and many religious pilgrimages were motivated, at least in part, by the desire to cure illnesses that everyday medicine had not cured. Stoicism, in the centuries following the Dark Ages, offered an intelligent avoidance of those things that might harm one's body, while impassively affirming the inevitability of life's travails, ailments, declines and death. It was primitive preventive medicine, quite stoical, which, to this day, offers some merit.
Even back then, it was a good idea to stay away from the sick if you wanted to stay healthy. See, even in the "Dark Ages," a little common sense could save your life.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

History Carnival 28

Patahistory is hosting History Carnival 28 and my post "A Positive Historical Baseline" was both selected (thanks to Nathanael at Rhine River) and excerpted. It is grouped with a post by Ms. Cornelius: What does it mean if NCLB wants to leave history behind? So, while I'm worrying about the "type" of history being taught, Ms. Cornelius is worrying if history will even be taught! An excerpt:
History is not targeted by any high-stakes tests. Does that mean that history doesn't count? Should history class merely function as an outpost to teach language arts and math and science? These are things I cover incidentally in my classes, but by no means do I believe that my sole purpose is to help kids pass federally mandated tests outside my subject area, much less IN my subject area, were they to even exist. That kind of education is a poor excuse for an education.
Yes, it is. However, I *thought* that I had heard that History will eventually be included in NCLB testing, though it appears that different states require (such as North Carolina) standardized History testing as part of their Adequate Yearly Progress evaluation of High School students. (Thanks to Ms. Cornelius for pointing out the difference between state and NCLB!) Instead, it looks like the federal government continues to rely on the NAEP test for History.

My "Unusual Experience"

C.H.L. George writes that "Studying for a Ph.D is a bit like teaching English abroad, working on an oil rig or being in the merchant navy. It is an unusual experience that does change the way that people think and behave. " Hmm. Well, I've done a Master's Thesis (which I tried to treat like a dissertation) and was in the U.S. Merchant Marine for a few years. What does that say about the way I "think and behave"? (via PTDR)