Friday, October 27, 2006


GatewayPundit examines the Democrats' anti-war presidential campaign of 1864, and concludes that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Of course, the Donks also waged an anti-war campaign in 1900, this time opposing our war in the Philippines. That election was particularly instructive, because the Filipino insurgency timed its attacks to influence the outcome in the United States, hoping to deliver a victory to the Democratic candidate, Christian fundamentalist creationist William Jennings Bryan.*

All of this reminds me of a smart point recently made to me by a professor of military history. She observed that virtually all American wars become deeply unpopular as they are being fought, the sole exception being World War II. The unpopularity of the current war in Iraq is not therefore anamolous or necessarily a symptom of Vietnam-syndrome run amok in the chattering classes. Nor is the unpopularity of the counterinsurgency in Iraq in and of itself evidence that it is not worth fighting, or that history will regard it as an error.

*I kill me.


By Blogger Final Historian, at Fri Oct 27, 07:16:00 PM:

Actually, I think that Bryan wasn't a creationist at that point. The disregard for evolution that many fundamentalist Christian's acquired was a result of the social darwinist influence seen in the First World War.

I may be wrong about Bryan, but I do know that not all early fundamentalist Christians opposed evolutionary thought. In fact, biblical literalism wasn't a necessary part of their credo yet.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sat Oct 28, 01:57:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sat Oct 28, 02:19:00 AM:

Members of my family fought in every American war, including the current one in Iraq. Seven of my ancestors marched with Washington during the Revolutionary War. One of my ancestors stood next to Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie. Another one of my ancestors was in the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, fighting at Gettysburg and in 16 other battles during the Civil War. My father was on the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. I served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

From the start, before the movement of any troops, I considered the invasion of Iraq a serious tactical mistake in the fight against radical Islam. The war in Iraq would not be worth it. The price would be too high. I expressed my opinion (and I still do).

Does that make me a Copperhead, too, TigerHawk?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Oct 28, 04:40:00 AM:

This war is over. It was over back when "Mission Accomplished" was declared. It's as over as the war was in 1865. But federal troops occupied the South well into the 1870s, same as we occupy Iraq today. Reconstruction was hard. And it's the reconstruction phase of the Iraqi war that is problematic for us today. In the 1870s, the harsh reconstrucion policies led to the establishment of the KKK, whose tactics of terrorizing part of the population would be familiar to the Mahdi Militia. Eventually after trying to put freed slaves into political offices througout the south, and not being very successful, the North just gave up and let Southerners run the place. Quite possibly, after trying to put Shi'ia into political offices in Baghdad, we too may give up and just revert to letting the Sunnis run the place like they did under Saddam. There are a lot of parallels.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Oct 28, 08:38:00 AM:

Parallels? You mean like how the uppity Negroes are keeping all us white folks in a state of fear down here in Alabammy....

And didn't we all read how the "Democrats" way back then in the fearful American past were pretty much believers in the same things that define the Republicans today? Hmmm, now that I mention it, yes. All y'all Republicans became Republicans because you didn't like what those awful Democrats stood for: hard work, good wages, equal rights and so forth.  

By Blogger Reagan's Ranger, at Sat Oct 28, 10:09:00 AM:

The main difference is the ubiquitous media.  

By Anonymous Phrizz11, at Sat Oct 28, 12:08:00 PM:

I'm with you DEC. Why is it that criticism of an ill-advised war is unpatriotic? One shouldn't have to wave the bloody shirt to prove one's patriotism. I don't think it would be good to live in a place where all a politician had to do to quiet down the electorate is start a war. Perhaps one good thing to come from Iraq is that that particular tactic will be discouraged.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Oct 28, 12:39:00 PM:

Yep, DC, it sure does. Just like Gen McClellan's victories in West Virginia and command of the Army of the Potomac didn't mean that he wasn't wrong to accept the Copperhead nomination and platform. Just like the heroism of Benedict Arnold didn't count when he became a traitor because his FEELINGS were hurt and he didn't get the props he felt he was owed.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sat Oct 28, 02:31:00 PM:

Perhaps some of us have forgotten than in the US, you don't wear the laurels of your ancestors.

Unless, of course, you're a Bush or a Kennedy, that is.  

By Blogger Tom, at Sat Oct 28, 03:09:00 PM:

LOL! Well, TigerHawk, this post seems to have hurt a few feelings!

Notice how DEC and Phrizz11 make the straw man argument of "how dare you question my patrotism!" when TigerHawk did nothing of the kind.

Now go back and read the post. What you'll find is that the anti-war Dems of today are being compared to the anti-War Dems of the Civil War era and 1900. It's a valid comparison.

That you don't like the comparison and think that it means you're being called unpatriotic is, well, revealing.  

By Anonymous davod, at Sat Oct 28, 05:18:00 PM:

Don't forget the recent revelations about Teddy Kennedy offering to work working with the Russians against Reagan and Carter the same.  

By Anonymous Davod, at Sat Oct 28, 05:20:00 PM:


I forgot the more blatent Kerry.  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Sat Oct 28, 05:20:00 PM:

Rush's Lancers, DEC? Fine unit.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sat Oct 28, 05:26:00 PM:

Yes, GreenmanTim. Rush's Lancers. First Sgt. Company K.  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Sat Oct 28, 08:35:00 PM:

One of ours was with the other Rush (Hawkins) and served 2 years with the 9th NY in the baggy pants and fez. He survived a wound at Roanoke and the charge at Antietam but the war ruined his health.

To Dawnfire82's comments - In a meritocracy, it should not matter who your forebears were, though we do well to remember what they did. Anyone believe that this is also true of politics? Right, and not just for Bush and Kennedy.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sat Oct 28, 09:17:00 PM:

Interesting, GreenmanTim. I always liked the baggy pants and fez. After almost three years of combat, my ancestor in Rush's Lancers had his thumb shot off in August 1864, when he rode with Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley.  

By Anonymous Pasquin, at Sat Oct 28, 11:48:00 PM:

If this were a game of poker, I would call DEC’s forbears with own my dead ancestors who fought under Washington, et seq., and raise him my still living Marine son, currently serving in Anbar. But to paraphrase Dawnfire, neither the laurels of our ancestors, nor those of our children, validate our arguments. Our arguments stand or fall on their own merits.

The fact remains that the current administration’s political peril has many precedents throughout history, including that of Lincoln, who was resigned to defeat in 1864 until Sherman took Atlanta shortly before the election. There is nothing disrespectful to today’s Copperheads in pointing out that their dissent harms the war effort. But Tom does make a cogent point. DEC doth protest too much.

If Democrats, movie stars, and network news anchors feel compelled to criticize our country’s position in this war, so be it. Unlike the rest of the planet, this country protects free speech. But they cannot legitimately stomp their little feet in indignation when others point out the simple fact, as true today as it was in the time of Pericles, that public criticism of one’s country in time of war diminishes support for the war effort, emboldens the enemy, damages troop morale, lessens our prospects for success in combat, and endangers the lives of those who are in service to our country.

But I am not calling DEC and his fellow travelers unpatriotic. They do a good enough job of that themselves.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sun Oct 29, 10:21:00 AM:

Amazing. I never said I opposed an aggressive fight against radical Islam. I simply criticized one of the decisions of the Bush administration. My exact words were: "...I considered the invasion of Iraq a serious tactical mistake in the fight against radical Islam." But this was too much for some people. Apparently we are all supposed to click our heels in blind obedience.

Even the most stern Chinese Communists believe in "constructive criticism."

A number of my nonpolitical friends believe that the U.S. political right is more of a danger to America than the U.S. political far left. I always thought that opinion was ridiculous. Now as I read some of responses here, I am not so sure.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Sun Oct 29, 07:32:00 PM:

Oh jeeze, this got ugly in a hurry.

A couple of thoughts:

First, I have a hard time understanding how lineage results in improved insight. What do DEC's ancestors have to do with his current abilities? Am I to conclude that because of significant prior service DEC's position is unassailable?

Dawnfire has Phrizz in this sight picture. Being against the war is just dandy, offering aid and comfort to the enemy is something else.

Phrizz's enjoys the freedom to speech his mind because others are willing to risk their lives to preserve his rights and his bodunkas. The troops are committed Phrizz, they are following orders. You are hurting them. Period.

Those stern chinese communists were wrong DEC. Constructive criticism is STILL criticism. The time for all this hogwash is AFTER the troops are removed from harm's way. Not now.

What the opposition in this situation has forgotten is LOYALTY. It is clear to me that the Democrats aren't interested in anything but power. If I believed that Phrizz actually wanted to win the war against radical islam I'd give heed to his words. If I believed that Kennedy, Kerry, Conyers et al cared about anything but themselves I'd listen to them.

But it is clear to me that the Democrats aren't interested in being a loyal opposition.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Sun Oct 29, 08:17:00 PM:

DEC raises a valid question. I would answer it with another. At what point does one's disagreement with tactics - which 99% of us will forever be amateurs in discussing - become an undermining of the war effort?

What if I had believed that the invasion of North Africa and Italy were seriously beside the point in WWII? Or that an alliance with Russia was reprehensible enough to keep us out of the war? Both of those positions are serious, and even in hindsight have some merit. I can't answer what DEC should have done and said in 1942. But I know it's the same answer for both wars.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sun Oct 29, 08:25:00 PM:

Skipsailing, we are the product of our heritage and our experiences. The point of my mentioning my heritage as well as my military service was to establish that I was not an idealistic "peacenik" by blood, background, inclination, or experience.

You said: "The time for all this hogwash is after the troops are removed from harm's way."

That point has validity in the case of a very short war. This will be a very long war (unless the Democrats take over). Do you expect no American to criticize U.S. foreign policy for 5, 10, 20 years? That's not possible in a dictatorship, let alone in a democracy.

Why does the criticism bother you? What are you concerned about--troop morale? The members of the U.S. military aren't that fragile. When I was in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, many of my fellow soldiers and I used to go (in civilian clothes) to big peace rallies because girls on the political left were easier than girls on the political right to get into bed.

You wrote: "But it is clear to me that the Democrats aren't interested in being a loyal opposition."

I agree--Lieberman and some others being exceptions.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sun Oct 29, 09:05:00 PM:

Assistant Village Idiot, I would follow Davy Crockett's motto (according to Disney): "Be sure you're right, then go ahead."

I have been doing business regularly in Muslim countries for 30 years.

Many of the top people in the U.S. government--President Bush, Senator Kerry, etc.--went to school at Harvard and/or Yale. One of the problem with many of my friends who have a similar education is that they often come up with complicated two-step solutions rather than simple one-step solutions to many problems.

I prefer the one-step approach: For example, if you in danger from a criminal, shoot the guy. But my friends with a degree from Yale or Harvard probably would come up with a two-step solution. "What you need to do," they might say, "is to shoot a bird in the sky. Then the bird would fall on the criminal's head and knock him out. That is a better approach because no human being would die."

President Bush has a two-step solution in the Middle East. First, create a democracy in Iraq. Second, watch that democracy spread throughout the rest of the region. The chances of this happening are about the same as the chances one of my friends could get a dead bird to fall on a criminal's head.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Oct 29, 09:40:00 PM:

"President Bush has a two-step solution in the Middle East. First, create a democracy in Iraq. Second, watch that democracy spread throughout the rest of the region. The chances of this happening are about the same as the chances one of my friends could get a dead bird to fall on a criminal's head."

While I understand your point (keep it simple, and all that) tossing out false analogies will only hurt your credibility.

The fact is, there have already been limited democratic reforms and reform movements since 2003 at least partly inspired by Iraq. (Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait) I'd count Iran, but I can't state with authority that any of the armed dissident groups there are 1) honestly democratic in nature or 2) influenced by the Iraqi venture.

People like not being arrested for their opinions, and people like to have a hand in choosing their nation's leadership. It stands to reason that if Iraq proves to be a success, more changes may yet be forthcoming.

And since it just flashed to mind, I recall about 4 months ago asking a Jordanian what he thought about King Abdullah, as a ruler. (here, in the US) He actually looked over his shoulder before he answered, and then looked kind of embarrassed, having forgotten that he wasn't in Jordan.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sun Oct 29, 10:24:00 PM:

Hurt my credibility, Dawnfire82? In the case of Jordan, I knew King Hussein (not to mention his brother Prince Hassan and his wife). In Iran, one of my best friend's married into the Diba family (the family of the Shah's wife) in the late 1960s.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Oct 30, 07:14:00 AM:

No, the criticism, IMHO gives hope to our enemy DEC.

This war, like all wars, is about political will. If our enemy, who watches us closely, determines that our will is faltering they will press harder.

The tactic they are employing is simple. They will put on a show of barbarity that us oh so modern folks cannot accept and use that to create doubt in our minds about the possibility of sucess.

Once the seeds of doubt and dissention are sown, the enemy only has to hang on until we bicker our way right out of the conflict.  

By Blogger DEC, at Mon Oct 30, 10:16:00 AM:

Yes, Skipsailing. And the current Bush administration should have thought about that before the invasion of Iraq.

Many in the Bush One crowd (such as Scowcroft) knew the dangers. That was one of the reasons they had no eagerness to topple Saddam during the first Gulf War.  

By Blogger DEC, at Mon Oct 30, 10:48:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

By Blogger DEC, at Mon Oct 30, 11:05:00 AM:

Dawnfire82 said: "While I understand your point (keep it simple, and all that)..."

Actually, I don't think you do. My point wasn't KISS (Keep it simple, stupid). Bush's plan sounded simple, too. My point was about the dangers of two-step strategies in management planning. When two things have to happen rather than one thing to achieve a goal, you double your chance of failure.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Mon Oct 30, 09:35:00 PM:

FYI, the credentials you cite don't make you correct DEC, though they might be an explanation of why you are correct if you could be shown to be so. That you cite familiarilty and connections warns me against you rather than for you.

That said, I doubt our disagreement is entire, or even majority.

As to the criticism and morale issues, I am less worried about discouraging our troops than I am about encouraging our enemies. Not all criticism is undermining, let alone treasonous, of course. But some is, and critics should be especially cautious.  

By Blogger DEC, at Mon Oct 30, 10:33:00 PM:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

By Blogger DEC, at Mon Oct 30, 10:36:00 PM:

Perhaps you would believe Gen. Brent Scowcroft, U.S. National Security Advisor to President George H. W. Bush. Here is what Scrowcroft wrote for the Wall Street Journal (Opinion Journal, Aug. 15, 2002):

Headline: "Don't Attack Saddam--It would undermine our antiterror efforts."

A relevant Scowcroft quote from the opinion piece: "Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were seen to be turning our backs on that bitter conflict--which the region, rightly or wrongly, perceives to be clearly within our power to resolve--in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us. We would be seen as ignoring a key interest of the Muslim world in order to satisfy what is seen to be a narrow American interest."

Even former Secretary of State Jim Baker said on Fox recently: "Democracy is nice. Stability is nice, too."

Your enemy already knows the lessons from the Vietnam War. They always planned to use those tactics.

Meanwhile, the idea that peace protesters ended the Vietnam War is a myth perpetuated by the political left. The Kent State shootings took a lot of the wind out of the sails of the grassroots peace movement during the Vietnam era. I was a young journalist, fresh out of the army, in 1970 and I had a lot fewer protests to cover after the Kent State tragedy.

Parenthetically, I will note that I watched the youthful participants carefully at numerous Vietnam protests in the U.S. Most of the students were there to meet members of the opposite sex.

In reality, ordinary working families brought about the end of the Vietnam War through quiet pressure because they no longer would accept the deaths of their children in a long, optional foreign war.

President Kennedy said in his 1961 inaugural address: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

That was the thinking of Americans at the start of the Vietnam War. As the war progressed, most Americans decided differently. They decided that they would not "pay any price" to assure the success of liberty for strangers in a distant land.

(Personal note: Since the 1973 I have worked as a businessman, not as a journalist.)

Mon Oct 30, 10:33:05 PM  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Oct 30, 11:09:00 PM:

And keeping things to one step rather than two would be keeping it simple... wouldn't it? Cause, effect.

"Hurt my credibility, Dawnfire82? In the case of Jordan, I knew King Hussein (not to mention his brother Prince Hassan and his wife). In Iran, one of my best friend's married into the Diba family (the family of the Shah's wife) in the late 1960s."

I don't care if you're on a first name basis with God. Making false analogies makes me (and I'm sure others as well) less inclined to believe what you say because it demonstrates faulty reasoning.

Prove your credibility with thoughts and actions, not rolling a list of dead ancestors or famous families whom one of your friends married into 40 years ago.  

By Blogger DEC, at Tue Oct 31, 12:13:00 AM:

Thanks for taking the time to write, Dawnfire82.  

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