“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Guest Post - Harrison Looks at History

From over at the Possum Bistro, Harrison has looked at history to provide context for the inscrutable actions of today's Democrats and he has concluded that:

Alternate reality is a form of escapism.

Here we are today, attempting to grapple with the brutal realities of the Long War in the Middle East as our valiant troops in Iraq continue to pursue their missions and tasks in a still-hostile environment where locals are cautiously wary and the next insurgent ambush is down the road, next to innocuous palm fronds. Those among the populace who believe with all our heart and resolve that guaranteeing the safety of our soldiers is the closest thing we can do to showing our support for them without grabbing body armour, weapons and boots to fight by their side - and thus push for increased funding in order to provide them with sufficient armour, ammunition, logistics, gear, and above all, the material assistance that conveys the General Will of the people behind their Army - a united front against our Enemies.

That is the most powerful message to our troops - the levee en masse - an antediluvian concept, perhaps, that originated with the birth of the French Revolution and the man on horseback, Napoleon Bonaparte. Politicians might derive from a galvanisation of popular consensus vindication of their policies, or perhaps a general endearment of the people towards the style and charisma of that character.

But no other institution of the state benefits - or suffers - more from popular consensus than the military: it is a direct, unambiguous form of expression of the faith of the people in their fellow countrymen. In dire times like this, when back-stabbing defeatists in Congress have hijacked the legislature to sabotage the executive and play partisanship to the tune of "This Is The Song That Never Ends", the meme of popular consensus against the war that somehow justifies cutting funding has provided a form of expression that is creating deleterious impact on the morale of our troops.

The spectre of Vietnam has always hovered over the minds of those who were part of the anti-war movement back then. I confess that I do not particularly know a great deal about that time-period and its atmosphere of politics and intellectual discourse, but wretchard and a few seasoned posters at The Belmont Club have enlightened me about the paradigm of thought which has continued to be perpetuated and foisted upon young minds:

[...] one wonders at how useful it is to keep seeing the world through the prism of the Vietnam War. Clearly for many of the Democrats in Congress who have just supported a nonbinding resolution aimed at "bringing the boys home", 2007 is 1967. One wonders whether for certain people every year will be always be 1967. However that may be, as much time has elapsed from 1967 till today as between the time Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released and the end of the Silent Movie era. Rep. Sam Johnson. (R-Texas) responded to Murtha's "slow bleed" strategy with an argument taken from the same era but with this difference: Johnson understood the price of having his fate, as a young man, decided by old men living in their past. Now, astounded to find himself in Congress, Johnson wonders whether it isn't the job of the old to let the men in the field shape their world.

I suggest you take a look at the last five comments on that brilliant thread - tony, cutler and dan share intriguing insights:

Yeah, the music was obviously that good, and yeah, outdoor concerts were really a hell of a lot of fun - but we didn't all burn our draft cards. The oldheads in my neighborhood got drafted, went to Nam, and when they came home, we treated them like scary heroes. Lots of times they moved back home with their parents (they were still kids after all), and they hung out with the rest of us, coached our summer league teams, and eventually got jobs and blended into our society. Lots of them grew to look like hippies and screamed anti-war songs at the concerts with the rest of us.

See, in the Sixties, Vietnam really went very wrong. Did you ever hear the stories of Johnson and his boys in the War Room, standing around maps of Southeast Asia, and actually picking out missions and targets? Yep, it was that bad. Where do you think Murtha gets his ideas?

cutler provided a link to a James Webb article written back in 1997 that still resonates in the contemporary context (betrays how persistent this paradigm really is, in the space of 10 years); with regard to the meme that most veterans fit the above-mentioned stereotype, Webb quips:

Contrary to persistent mythology, two-thirds of those who served during Vietnam were volunteers rather than draftees, and 77 percent of those who died were volunteers. Of those who died, 86 percent were Caucasian, 12.5 percent were African-American, and 1.2 percent were from other races. The common claim that it was minorities and the poor who were left to do the dirty work of military service in Vietnam is false. The main imbalance in the war was simply that the privileged avoided their obligations, and have persisted since that time in demeaning the experience in order to protect themselves from the judgment of history.

Webb scribes a compelling, albeit disheartening, account of how the Democrats then sought every means necessary to cut funding to the South Vietnamese and Cambodians; back then, one would be thoroughly appalled at how vociferously and self-righteously these Democrats were willing to abandon our allies who had fought as valiantly as our very own troops on the ground, all for the sake of raw political expediency - fear of being encumbered by the psychological trauma of leading a nation to its slow demise, fear of being labelled as the party which "lost" the war.

Thus I find it ironic that the very political baggage that the Democrats hoped to avoid has doggedly tagged the left's paradigm of thought, both psychologically and emotionally. I do not think that most of the Vietnam veterans were concerned with "Communism" per se when they supported and fought in the War there; neither were they thinking in terms of gaining an advantage over the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Ideology plays a role in the greater scope of history, but on the battlefield, your enemy is just another person you have to kill if you want to survive. Humans are less privy to the bigger picture, as Hegel once remarked.

For those who had evaded the war and come of age believing our country was somehow evil, even as they romanticized the intentions of the Communists, these few weeks brought denials of their own responsibility in the debacle, armchair criticisms of the South Vietnamese military, or open celebrations.

Another piece of evidence which supports my positing that Democrats missed the entire ideological contextualisation of the period: note that South Vietnam was a democracy then. If the Democrats were truly concerned about the ideological war, would they have so blatantly undermined every effort to aid the South Vietnamese and ultimately send them into the deathly embrace of the authoritarian North Vietnamese communists?

As always, Democrats have sought to indulge in alternate realities, and with the help of the MSM have gone to great lengths to convince the nation to place their faith and beliefs in the fantastical. They failed to realise that Vietnam could have represented a greater loss in the context of the Cold War, but the Domino Effect stopped at the coast. They continue to fail to realise that Iraq will engender disastrous consequences if it is lost, because it is the confluence of all the fault lines of the Middle East, and the Domino Effect will resonate throughout the region.

They were willing to buy into the whole fallacy that our nation could be evil. That our troops were sacrificing themselves at the altar of ideology. The truth is that they were blind to the war writ large in the context of the Cold War, and the left exploited this to mean that the Vietnam War was meaningless and therefore should be abandoned even though our troops meant well to prevent our South Vietnamese allies from eventual slaughter. Such was the courageous and well-intentioned spirit of the struggle, yet the Democrats desecrated and humiliated their contributions. That was how the Democrats managed to divorce ideology from reality then, and they are at it again.

We are in an ideological war against the foreign enemies of Islamofascism and Transnational Progressivism - both formidable enough to have bought off the left at home and manipulated their psychological penchant for perceiving everything through that anti-ideological Vietnam paradigm: that they could "romanticise" the intentions of the Communists as they are doing now with Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Abandonment of history and the larger perspective - convenient amnesia - is a tactic of the Left that serves to counter any efforts to learn lessons from the past - and that lets our enemies - who happen to be authoritarian and can thus outlast several administrations - get away with atrocities without fear of accountability.

Our enemies' persistence in pursuing their ideological aims requires resolve on our part to stand up against, not a cut-and-run approach that serves to embolden them further to make claims on our sovereignty and influence at home and abroad.

During the Vietnam era, the Defeatocrats were willing to abandon the South Vietnamese. Come 2007, the same delusional cowards are suggesting we abandon our own countrymen. Just shows you how much they've progressed in terms of intellectual discourse, ethics and patriotism.


  1. The Victory Caucus has convened and the first order of business is to identify and target the White Flag Incumbents.

    The Victory Caucus' Board of Governors are: Dean Barnett, Austin Bay, Matthew Currier Burden, Frank Gaffney, Hugh Hewitt, Ed Morrissey
    "Publius", and "Joe Gish".

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. ppab:

    That was an excellent comment which I have deleted and will feature in a post later this evening. I will give full attribution to you.

    I hope you don't mind.


  5. Whit,

    I'm delighted to see someone is willing to dive deeper into it. It'd be something if it could be passed onto the JDs of the blogosphere (Instapundit, Barrister @ Maggies?). Is that "area" of law taken seriously outside of NGOs, academia and activist circles?

    I think one can speculate as to what American post 9/11 policies are being measured against: Nuremburg.

    Why, if you could only round up all the bad powerful apples and make a big public trial, you'd have internationally agreed-upon principles writ large on a moralizing script.

    Some people actually see that as THE model to pursue. This has gotta be a sub category of the "law enforcement" approach no?

    Anyways, looking forward to seeing what you do with the topic!

  6. Interesting perspective of the times, not the same one I have, though, having lived through it, but interesting none the less.

    It was fall of 1972 and High School graduation was on the horizon, out of sight was the 19th birthday, coming soon after the diploma.

    But for the Lottery.
    The birthday lottery.

    The lower the number, the more assured of being called up.

    Select names for the draft at random or by lottery. One of the year's 365 days would be picked from a fishbowl. Thus, if April 1 were the date drawn, all men age 19 who were born on that date would be draftable. If there were not enough to fill the quota, another date would be randomly chosen and the process repeated.
    Little single digit midget, me.

    Signing up at the local Community College offered a draft deferement, so College seemed the next step in life. Because on my Draft Card was printed 1-A, Lotto number lower than a whale's turd.

    Mr Nixon announced the End of the Draft and the formation of the All Volunteer Army, in early '73.
    Ending the Vietnam War, for me.

    One day I mentioned the Draft to my dear old dad, Korean War veteran, Sheriff Posse member, after the days of Involuntary Conscription were over.
    To the effect that my number had made me vunerable to being drafted.
    "You should have never worried", he said, "You had a job down in the Yucatan, with Eduardo".
    His old buddy from a previous life.

    "You weren't goin', unless you wanted to."

    Way out of character.

    So because of Mr Nixon, I missed the build out of Cancun.

    Then joined the Army in early '78, for a different set of adventures.

    You youngsters think there are people today with a deranged hatred of Mr Bush, well believe you me, you ain't seen nothin'.

    Tricky Dick Nixon, he holds trump on being hated.

  7. ...And Lieberman is uniquely positioned to influence the Bush Administration. In December 2004 the White House "sounded him out" for the job of U.N. ambassador, says a source close to Lieberman, and although he declined the offer, he remains in regular contact with the Executive Branch.

    Before Bush's State of the Union speech in January, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley brought in Lieberman for a private consultation with the President. Lieberman says he talks with or e-mails Hadley, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff and White House legislative-affairs head Candida Wolff every week or two.

    Lieberman's G.O.P. flirtation has its risks — and a time limit. By this time next year, the 2008 election cycle will overshadow anything that happens in the Senate.

    What Lieberman Wants

  8. Couldn't you have gone to Cancun, anyways?

  9. Yeah, but by then I was running a framing crew and there seemed an endless stream of slabs streched out to the McDowell Mountains. Near where the Mayo Hospital, in Scottsdale, is today.

    Life was already sweet, in AZ.
    Who knew then, what Cancun was to become. It was an empty flea & fly invested island with poor surf and little beach.
    Cozumel was where the scuba diving was primo and there were already hotels. Still is, there and Isle Mujeres. But not a place I wanted to spend my whole life, speakin' spanish, ignorance was bliss.

  10. That was the point I was trying to make, rufus, about Granpa Rat.

    I'd have NEVER thought he'd reccommend leaving the US to avoid being drafted, not in my wildest imaginings.

    A pinch yourself in the arm moment, to be sure.

  11. Nicolas Sarkozy entered politics early and rose quickly to the top. A lawyer by training (and not, like most others in France's political class, a graduate of the elitist ENA, the National School for Public Administration), he was elected mayor of Neuilly, the posh suburb of Paris, at the age of 28.

    He became a member of the National Assembly at 33, a member of the cabinet, as minister of budget, at 38, and finally, at 44, head of Jacques Chirac's Gaullist party. The key moment in his rise came in 2002, when he was appointed minister of the interior in Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's government, at the age of 47.

    Overnight, he became the proponent of something entirely new in French politics--a no-nonsense conservatism in the manner of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Rudolph Giuliani.

    French Elections in Spring

  12. The Weekly Standard
    makes this comparison:

    " ... a no-nonsense conservatism in the manner of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Rudolph Giuliani. ... "

    Sealed with a kiss, Rudy!!

  13. You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.

  14. ‘Namocrats love the best little war the Dems ever lost for us and keep trying to emulate its “success.” Expect bell-bottoms and paisley to make a comeback election year ’08. Gore will have long stringy hair to help sequester carbon, and hemp draperies will be hung in the WH. Peace will break out for a few weeks into the next administration until we’re attacked, again, and the 'Namocrats in office suddenly discover what war is good for.

  15. Unlike the invasion of Panama (1989), the Gulf war (1991), the Balkans war (1999) or even the Afghanistan conflict (2001-2007), Iraq has taken over 3,000 American lives. Had the reconstruction of Iraq gone as relatively smoothly as the three-week removal of Saddam, most Democratic candidates would now be heralding their past muscular support for democratic change in Iraq.

    So instead of self-serving attacks on the present administration, Democratic senators and candidates should simply confess that while most of the earlier reasons to remove Saddam remain valid, the largely unforeseen costs of stabilizing Iraq in their view have proved too high, and now outweigh the dangers of leaving.

    But they should remember one final consideration. The next time a Democratic administration makes a case for using America's overwhelming military force to preempt a Milosevic or a mass murderer in Darfur - and history suggests that one will - the Democrats' own present disingenuous anti-war rhetoric may come back to haunt them, ensuring that such future humanitarian calls will probably fall on ears as deaf as they are partisan.

    Anti-war Rhetoric

  16. Fascinating thread. I will give my opinion at the end. Well done Harrison.

  17. I love this lad!

    Great Britain's Prince Harry Is Deployed to Iraq

    G-d! To be young again and full of piss and vinegar.

  18. In a match between Hillary Clinton and Giuliani, both candidates would favor abortion rights and civil unions. With these issues a wash, Catholic voters may well make their decision based on other differences, like Sen. Clinton's call for universal health care.

    In 2004, the voters most concerned with "values" backed President Bush by a margin of 80 to 20 - and outnumbered voters principally concerned with terrorism, the war in Iraq, or the economy and jobs. Giuliani will run as a tested tough guy who can be trusted to handle the terrorist threat.

    But what's his pitch to "values" voters? The GOP should be concerned that nominating a thrice-married Catholic who supports abortion rights could move many Catholics back to their ancestral political home.

    Catholic Problem

  19. 110th U.S. Congress (2007-2008)
    H.R. 1022: To reauthorize the assault weapons ban, and for other purposes.

    Gun Ban

  20. Hey, Dr. Rice, while you’re working your little fingers to the bone, think about this and your Franco-American UNSCR 1701:

    Explosive situation in Lebanon will continue

    “At the same time, UNIFIL troops are playing low profile and downplaying these stories in order to avoid terror attacks against their troops by Hezbollah terrorists.”

    Oh yeah, I can’t wait to see how the UN handles policing the Golan.

  21. A fishing crew has caught a colossal squid that could weigh a half-ton and prove to be the biggest specimen ever landed, a fisheries official said Thursday.

    The squid, weighing an estimated 990 lbs and about 39 feet long, took two hours to land in Antarctic waters, New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said.

    The fishermen were catching Patagonian toothfish, sold under the name Chilean sea bass, south of New Zealand "and the squid was eating a hooked toothfish when it was hauled from the deep," Anderton said.

    Rare Squid

  22. allen said...Great Britain's Prince Harry Is Deployed to Iraq

    Now watch how hard the Queen leans on the P.M. to bring all the boys back home, including 'arry.

  23. For every problem there is a solution,
    simple, quick, efficient . . .
    and wrong.
    ___ H. L. Mencken

    “The United States offers democracy to the Muslim world, and is universally hated; Putin destroys an entire Muslim country, and is welcomed as a friend. The question begs itself: who better understands the Islamic world, Vladimir Putin or George W Bush?”


    “Yet Russia is a natural ally of the United States for the remainder of the 21st century, perhaps the only natural ally the US will have. Europe does not have the stomach to resist its gradual assimilation in the Islamic world. But Russia will resist, and it will do so ruthlessly.”

    Russia's hudna with the Muslim world

    The ever provocative Spengler at his best.

  24. In a February 21, 2007 communiqué, the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) responded to Blair's announcement regarding his plan to withdraw British troops from Iraq. The communiqué referred to this as Blair's "plan to flee Iraq" and as "the first step in the disintegration of the Crusader alliance," adding that Blair has chosen to "leave [his] friend [Bush] to sink in the Iraqi quagmire."

    The communiqué also mentioned Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi's plan for defeating the Coalition forces in Iraq, thus implicitly urging the mujahideen to implement it. The message explained that on the military level, this plan seeks to increase jihad operations in Baghdad and in other areas, "taking advantage of the... enemy's flagging fighting spirit," while on the political level it seeks to intensify the efforts to expand the ISI, which will "unite all the banners of jihad" in Iraq.

    Withdraw from Iraq

  25. teresita,

    The UK has announced its plans for withdrawal. To my knowledge, after all these years, the Queen has taken no public position.

  26. Allen's link will require another tum or two.

  27. Thank you for allowing my post to grace the EB. I'm very interested to see what could be discussed in the context of the Vietnam War mindset. There's a Marc Schulman post that I still need to go through before more insights can be gained.

  28. Allen quoted, Yet Russia is a natural ally of the United States for the remainder of the 21st century, perhaps the only natural ally the US will have. Europe does not have the stomach to resist its gradual assimilation in the Islamic world. But Russia will resist, and it will do so ruthlessly.

    The only time Russia was an ally of America was in the last European Civil War (1914-1945) when they came very close to being wiped off the map. The ruthlessness will pay off eventually. The moose limbs will get the idea that they can't get away with the victim crap in Russia like they can in EUtopia, and they will leave Russia more or less alone, like they leave China alone, and Russia will continue in their comfortable role as the antagonist of the US, which gives them the temporary delusion that they are a great power.

  29. Britain has also privately expressed concern over the handling of the US military briefing last week which alleged that the “highest levels” of the Iranian Government were behind the supply of weapons to Iraqi militias.

    - Mr Straw, the Leader of the Commons, did break ranks yesterday by declaring that the Government was committed to a full inquiry into mistakes made in the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.

    He said that he was ready “in due course” for a wider inquiry than those held to date. However a Downing Street spokesman said yesterday that there would come a time to “look at these issues”.

    Fears Grow Over Iran

  30. I cannot tell you how much I despise Microsoft products. I was just finishing my response to you Harrison and I am watching my un-backed up Word doc getting devoured by a spinning ball...

  31. Harrison,

    As a young man, I could not wait to join the military. My father and all four of my uncles served and my oldest cousin served and I never doubted or planned anything in my life without the military being served first.

    The Cold War was a constant part of my childhood. The near disaster of the Cuban Missile Crisis made every citizen of the United States aware of US vulnerabilities. It stood unique between Pearl Harbor and 911. Within that context Viet Nam started as part of the Cold War against the threat of spreading global communism.

    Viet Nam was preceded by vicious communists assaults against Eastern European nations under the threat and domination of the Soviets. Viet Nam was part of that context.

    Prior to 1964, US Special Forces conducted most US military support, in Viet Nam. At the time, US had mandatory military conscription as the law and practice. All males over 18, regardless of citizenship had an eight-year obligation, composed of active duty and a combination of active or inactive reserve duty. Inductees mostly went into the army, and that meant the navy, air force and marines were all-volunteer organizations, mostly staffed by those preferring not to serve in the army.

    1965 was a turning point and shortly thereafter, US forces were gradually increased in Viet Nam to a high point over 600,000. Domestic support was surprisingly high for most of the war, which continued to 1973. Other than the marines and navy and air force pilots, most of those that served in combat, in Viet Nam, were draftees in the army.

    Early opposition to the war came after 1967 when it became obvious to those in college that at the end of their college education, they would have to serve in the army, in combat. They were worried about being post-deferment. Their cause was to avoid service and they latched onto a movement that was more pragmatic than high-minded.

    The enduring myth, continued to this date, is that the sixties were dominated by protest. The media came of age in the sixties, first over civil rights, then Kennedy and then Viet Nam. Viet Nam became short hand for a left leaning, anti-establishment.

    WWII and the beginnings of the Cold War united America. The Civil Rights era and the Viet Nam protests themselves divided the country by culture. Viet Nam, itself had very little to do with it. The procedure of the protest has had a larger enduring affect than the conflict.

    This is especially true over civil rights which went on to become civil license, where justice evolved to entitlement, where opportunity expanded to franchise, and where freedom became abandonment of decency and moral standards.

    It also spread to foreign policy and to any use of the military anywhere, which now must come under the Viet Nam revue process, conducted by the democratic left, and it almost always has nothing to do with Viet Nam.

  32. deuce, thank you for addressing my query. Not being there during that particular moment in time, there is a lack of clarity on my part, but you have provided one of many accounts that I will gather and contemplate about.

    Hopefully, with the historical vantage point of the present can we draw valuable lessons to be learnt. Yet I doubt the left will be eager to embrace such lessons.

  33. Harrison, you are doing a fine job. Outstanding actually, keep it up.

  34. ResTskereedop [url=]Buy Codeine no prescription[/url] [url=]Buy Differin no prescription online[/url]

  35. Blizzard warnings were issued in place of parts of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin as snow socked the states in tandem with off the wind fart hear of gusts topping 45 miles (72 kilometers) per hour.
    The storm -- 10 days anterior to the onset of winter -- took its greatest levy in Minnesota, where as much as two feet (61 centimeters) of snow had fallen in some locations, according to the National Live through Service (NWS).
    The constitution's largest city Minneapolis was junior to a blanket of corpse-like 17 inches (43 cm) deep, the worst snowfall to charge the big apple in more than 19 years and the fifth-biggest on record.
    As an incriminate in of the rage's mercilessness, Minneapolis-St. Paul Global Airport -- a travel pivot with expertness in contending with venal weather -- was shut down in return the maiden point in years.

  36. Les jeux de machines a sous en ligne sont les jeux de casino les addition populaires dans un casino en ligne pour plusieurs raisons. Une des principales raisons est qu'il y a une grande variete de machines a sous.