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Power Pointers

Victory at all costs. The Vietnam analogy. Losing centers. Divided government. Divided Korea. Carter Christianity. The South returns fire. And more.

2.6.07

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DEBATING THE POINT
Re: William Tucker's Power Pointing to Victory:

William Tucker falls into the trap of believing that stability is preferable to anarchy under all circumstances. But there are circumstances in which the anarchy of war is preferable to a stability that allows evil to fester in peace. It also does not follow that any such regional peace initiative as he desires would result in a peace favorable to us. The salient examples he uses, Nixon's outreach to China and Teddy Roosevelt's settlement of the Russo-Japanese War, do not support his principal assertions. In the case of Roosevelt's settlement of the Russo-Japanese War, it did temporarily bolster American prestige, and it won TR a Nobel Peace Prize, but it also planted the seed that sprouted at Pearl Harbor and the fruit harvested at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nixon's initiative towards China is even more problematic, since it was intended to isolate the USSR and cause it to divert resources that otherwise might be deployed against the U.S. and NATO. Yet it did nothing of the kind. There is no evidence that the Soviet Union's grand strategic posture was altered in any way by the rapprochement between the U.S. and China (today, of course, Russia and China are on the road to becoming strategic partners, so Nixon's strategic intent of driving a wedge between the two countries has failed).

Rather, this rapprochement allowed the modernization of the Chinese economy while leaving its Communist government in place. Now that government looks likely to emerge as the next "peer competitor" to U.S. hegemony, its power greatly enhanced by access to the wealth and technology of the West (including the U.S.). If there is war between the U.S. and China in the next generation, one can point to Nixon's trip to China as the moment when that war became inevitable. If there is going to be a cataclysmic war between Iran and the United States, a regional peace conference of the sort Tucker advocates will be the event that makes it inevitable.

Sometimes, Mr. Tucker needs to realize, the only acceptable "exit strategy" is called "Victory."
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

William Tucker sits in his warm suburban house somewhere on the east coast and watches TV. The relentless negative reporting on Iraq, the nightly talking heads spewing forth nonsense that closely matches opinion polls, the articles in our major papers that continually stress the negative even when describing success, all these things have worn Mr. Tucker down. Mr. Tucker just can't take it anymore. He decides if the U.S. will just quit and come home he can watch TV without the stress of war reporting. Mr. Tucker has accepted, and is effectively advocating, U.S. defeat in war because Mr. Tucker is uncomfortable.

Power Pointing to Victory?

Weak-kneed journalists pointing to defeat!

I choose victory. I support the surge. I support a long-term commitment to success in Iraq. I will not rationalize U.S. defeat in war because I am uncomfortable.

Wake up, America.
-- Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

It is heartening to see that a few in your stable of pundits, William Tucker in this instance, are finally coming to recognize the error of the Bush administration's ways in Iraq. In fairness to Frederick Kagan, despite the wrong-headedness of his ideas, it is probable that his presentation was customized to accommodate the cognitive abilities of his target audience. PowerPoint presentations can work well in many business environments, and a business school graduate who doesn't read books might understand them better than traditional paper documents. I once thought that a businesslike approach in the White House might make it more effective, but now I see that effectiveness has to be balanced against quality of thought, which has been practically nonexistent for six years, as far as I'm concerned.

I am appalled to see Diane Sawyer meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad when the Bush administration has refused to do the same -- in the face of almost universal agreement that all major parties in the region must be brought to the table. Nothing could be more obvious now than the need for open discussion rather than secret strategizing by an elite cadre of failed policymakers.
-- Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I was surprised it took so long to get to the Vietnam analogy.

Of course, as with most Vietnam analogies there is a failure to mention the end result of all the negotiating, peace making and withdrawal of American support.

The massive genocide that occurred in Vietnam and Cambodia is a horrific reminder of what happens
when you negotiate with liars and then turn a blind eye to their subsequent actions. I seem to remember a similar ploy used by Chamberlain before the outbreak of WWII and as I recall that didn't go so well either.

If Iraq is "filled" with "lunatics" of the kind you suggest we would have been chased out of Iraq long ago.

We have two problems. First, we haven't killed enough "lunatics," particularly those at the top such as Al Sadr. Secondly, we haven't taken out Syria and Iran.

We can fight now, while we have them surrounded and have the upper hand. Or, we can wait until they attack us on our soil again before we go back and re-fight the same war on the same battlefield.

These "lunatics" are serious about killing us. They say so everyday, even in this country. But, they are lunatics ruled by emotion. At the end of the day cold calculating reason defeats emotion every time.
-- RW

Mr. Tucker leaves out a most salient point in his argument: Victory through an attack on Tehran.

A massive air strike against the nuclear and military facilities in Iran will stop Iranian meddling in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza while emboldening those in Iran to topple the Mullah government. Persians aren't Arabs. They have a culture different from the Bedouin Sword, Pillage and Camel-breeding. Their culture and lifestyle has evolved far beyond tribalism. They are educated, pragmatic and Westernized.

Recalling Vietnam, as Mr. Tucker does, reminds me that preceding the "serious" talking in Paris a serious bombing campaign over the skies of Hanoi and Haiphong took place. Unfortunately, our president and his advisors have Pelosi-sized cojones.
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

THE CENTER CAN'T HOLD
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Lincoln and Reagan: Moving the Center;

Send this article to Fred Barnes. Remind him that Charles de Gaulle's conservative party was able to prevent a Communist takeover of France in 1947 by wiping out the middle-of-the-road party in a three-party election. At some point, the people occupying the "middle" must make a moral choice. And today, as then, the choice is between a lukewarm-capitalist, patriotic party and an increasingly extreme-leftist party with inclinations towards totalitarianism.
-- Michael G. Novak
Ellicott City, Maryland

Here's a bit of a curve ball for you, Mr. Lord. I know this probably doesn't appear to measure up to the great issues of Lincoln's and Reagan's time, though it is in a certain context, but should we ever have a President with the moral courage to stand for ending the income tax and replacing it with the Fair Tax, he would be remembered almost as fondly by some as Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, and Reagan, the Great Communicator. George W. Bush, the Great ?. I do wish someone was listening, Mr. Lord.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Re: Patrick Hynes's Keeping the Faith:

Patrick Hynes does a good job of analyzing the 2006 vote, but I believe he, and many others, ignore an important trend in voting: many of us are intentionally voting for gridlock. I never voted for a Democrat in my life, until November 2006. I did so then because I don't agree with the Republican vision of "big government conservatism." I'm now convinced that I can't trust either party to do the right thing for the nation. My only alternative is to keep them at each other's throats so they pass as little legislation as possible. From now on, I want one part to hold the Presidency and the other to hold Congress.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

KOREAN CONUNDRUM
Re: Doug Bandow's Repairing the Ravages of War:

When dealing with a regime like North Korea (and Cuba and Venezuela for that matter) one is faced with a government that really isn't. By that I mean a single and, in the case of Korea, mind is the government. A man controls the military and that is monolithic government.

In a democratic form of governance, almost nothing changes even when emergencies happen. Just look at Social Security and Medicare in the U.S. But in these neo Stalinist countries what is there and permitted today is gone and a death penalty offense tomorrow. Thus any "progress'' is likely to be ephemeral.

Only people not closely connected to reality will expect and vow meaningful progress. That's why such rants are heard primarily from politicians like Joe Biden, Jimmy Carter, and Hillary Clinton. God help us when we listen to them.

Or as the Democrats say, "Nonspecific and perhaps nonexistent deity-like spirit, perhaps in the sky, if you are there please if you have any power use it to benefit me personally in my quest for political power. I want to be like Chavez and Castro."
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

Our weakness and strength here are the same; our troop presence. We should pull out of South Korea as that mission of guarding the weak south has evaporated, and the north is far weaker than the south in all ways except they have no nukes (or so I'm told). This would remove the bogeyman the north relies on to justify its bluster and propaganda.
-- Patrick Harkins
Carson, California

THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch's Marauding Youth Chic:

It's obvious from this article that liberals can never admit to the failure of multiculturalism. Like American welfare, Social Security and the failing public schools, the failure and dangerousness of a liberal policy has never given liberals any reason to discount it. It's either someone else's fault that it's failing (usually a conservative, like Prime Minister Howard) or it really isn't failing, but rather it's the failing of the people due to something like racism (whether Australian, American or European).

As George Orwell said, "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." Until liberals in the media can look honestly at what is really tearing the fabric of the world's democracies -- multiculturalism -- our countries are in danger. I fear that it will only get worse before it gets better since political correctness and multiculturalism are force-fed to our children in their schools, and it continues to an extreme in college. Parents must revolt against it early and often for clearer heads to prevail or the Orwellian upside-down view of the world will be our downfall.

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever," Orwell said. Or imagine a world where it's okay to gang rape women because of the way they dress or because they go out at night. That's not a world I want for my daughter, so wake up Mr. Johnson of the International Herald Tribune. Is that a future you want?
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

GOOD NEWS
Re: Mark Tooley's Jimmy Carter Goes Episcopal:

This is just a note to let you know that Mark Tooley is one of the main reasons I read The American Spectator. Very few publications give religious and denominational issues the press they deserve, much less have a knowledgeable Christian comment on those issues from an overtly Christian perspective.
-- Greg F.
Delray Beach, Florida

As always, an excellent article by Mark Tooley. One thing, however, that I do not understand is that writers continually refer to Carter as, in the words of Tooley, "a devout, sincere, Christian." Maybe a Christian, but I have my doubts about devout, particularly when Carter flaunts the teaching of Scripture under a hermeneutical ruse on the subject of homosexuality. Is it that these writers, and I've read several who use this type of language to describe the former President and former Southern Baptist, are trying to be polite? But no need to be in the context of the article. Keep up the great work.
-- Raymond Coffey

FLYING THE COOP
Re: Bob Keiser's letter (under "Trade Away Snake Oil") Gloves Off:

In "Trade Away Snake Oil," Bob Keiser, the noted Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania augur, observes, "Our NAFTA chickens are coming home to roost and our skies are black with them."

Had the editors but warned me that NAFTA would lead to a hostile takeover of the late passenger pigeons ecological niche by battery hens, and an airborne anthrax invasion in lieu of Asian bird flu, I would have contributed more generously to the Presidential campaign of Frank Perdue.
-- Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

EXPRESSIONS OF CSANK'S
Re: James F. Csank's letter (under "Bayonet Charge") in Reader Mail's Gloves Off:

James F. Csank wrote:

"...Robert E. Lee...was a traitor. I base this on irrefutable facts: Lee and the others had sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution; Lee and the others then violated that oath."

Since when was it unconstitutional to secede from the Union? If your country secedes from the United States, how is it that you, a citizen of that seceded country, are still bound to the U.S. Constitution?

I'm sure that Mr. Csank, like most people, thinks in terms of "the United States," not "these United States," as in pre-Civil War days.

I'd ask Mr. Csank to consider a hypothetical U.S. President who secedes from the United Nations. Would the United States still be bound by the UN Charter? If the remaining members of the UN Security Council were able to effect a coup, or overthrow the United States government by war, would our hypothetical President be considered a traitor 140 years hence? I suppose so.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mr. Csank, what does "the South lost" have to do with your arguments? Might makes right above all else? The Russian and Chinese Communists won their rebellions too and the promised Utopia did not follow. Of course they lost. The South had no material means with which to win and virtually no chance of any kind of military or moral victory what so ever. Pretty much the same situation the Founders (aka Traitors) of this Republic had in 1775 by the way. I submit that there was more of a case that could be made against our Founders in this regard than the Confederates under the existing understanding of the Constitution in 1861. The Founders certainly understood the gravity of their actions as British "subjects" under existing English law. They also understood that a greater good was at stake vs. blind adherence to a King's dictates 3000 miles away whose primary focus was on fighting a perpetual war with France. Without the South's help during the Revolution there would be no United States as we know it. The events that took place at Concord and Lexington were probably seen in the same light by those in the South then as those in the North saw South Carolina's attack on Fort Sumter. What have these fools done now!

Never the less with overwhelming material, manpower, financial advantages, and an endless supply of Union Supreme military commanders to try out, no sane person (by today's standards) would have endured four years of what was essentially slaughter on a grand scale with nothing but hope to keep them going. Still the hopeless being ignorant of the fine points of law you seem to base your thinking on fought on and on and on against overwhelming forces and even today will do so in our current military under the flag their ancestors fought against with such passion. It is no secret that those you have so little regard for as a "group" are disproportionately represented in our military forces today and will bare the burdens and hardships many of your mindset will not. A very disproportionate amount of our military forces, particularly the ground forces are based in the South at bases named after Confederate Generals. Does not strike me that the United States military would do such a thing if they considered such people Traitors.

If our Founding Fathers were traitors by your standards then I submit we are all still traitors in the eyes of the British for all the reasons you have listed. Might be a tough road to base relations on if the British kept referring to our Founders as Traitors might it not? Even with the King of England at that time having the moral authority of God on his side and was so ordained by God I think the British people eventually recognized that the colonies had a right to self rule after all. They didn't call our Founders Traitors while begging for our help in WWI or WWII as I remember. Perhaps too fine a point for sure.

Since you passionately believe that force of arms settled the issue ("the South lost") would you take up arms to keep the South in the Union today if they simply voted to form their own Southern United States (-) with the same Constitution? We'll keep South Carolina in line this time. They get passionate every 100 years or so. The fine points of law may carry weight in an academic classroom or in a Court of Law but they carry no weight on the battlefield or in history most of the time. Given the level of death and destruction during the war, 99 percent of which occurred in the South, the judgment of those that did the fighting and suffering made the final judgment on this issue and ruled by inaction if nothing else that serving in the Confederacy was not an act of treason. The Constitution was and is clear on the punishment for such acts. The letter of the law is clear on that point. There is no legal standing for your claims because those with the power to act upon such made no such claim even after Lincoln was murdered. Your point is moot and an academic exercise without merit. We are all entitled to our opinions but the judgment of history was made by those that lived over 140 years ago. Opinions don't change history.

One last point, Mr. Csank: If the North voted to secede today, the South would not view that as treason or a violation of the Constitution in any sense of the word. We would help those that wanted to live in the New North pack. We don't feel like we own you or your property as so many of you in the North feel about us and ours. Why would we want to risk life and limb to keep the Northern States from going off and doing their own thing? I don't think the current size or structure of the United States is ordained by God or written in stone. The "several States" perform a function that a massive and overbearing Central government cannot and usually will not allow. If the North seceded Life would go on, commerce would continue to our mutual benefit. It might be real difficult in today's climate to convince the bulk of the North to take up arms against the South based on your sense of moral compass. As I remember, many from your longitudinal location, north and way west of that suggested seceding and joining Canada as a result of the 2004 Presidential election. I see no problems with that at all. I think people of like minds should form Unions of such. I was ready to help my Northern friends pack. They live here only because they can't find a job up North that will give them an affordable life style and got tired of the cold. The latter isn't supposed to be a problem any longer I hear. The former is a work in progress that has been going on for decades.

I promise you Mr. Csank if Ohio voted to secede tomorrow, no one in the South would care a wit. My relatives left Ohio three decades ago looking for work south of there.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

James F. Csank's incredibly long letter purports to prove beyond doubt that all Confederates were traitors. Oh, and all American revolutionaries were also traitors. I suppose the German generals who plotted to kill Hitler in 1944 were traitors, too. Since one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, why bother to make distinctions?

Csank has succeeded in trivializing the meaning of the words "traitor" and "treason." Nothing more.
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

NOT FEDERAL CREATURES
Re: Ahlsen-Girard's letter (under "North and South Rise Again") in Reader Mail's Gloves Off:

Regarding Mr. Ahlsen-Girard's question about Confederate states west of Georgia being creatures of the federal government, there is one lone exception. Texas had a political existence as a sovereign nation prior to becoming a state. Texas was annexed via a joint resolution of Congress in February 1845 and subsequently submitted a constitution for approval in December 1845.
-- Donald Parnell
London, United Kingdom

HONORABLE SERVICE
Re: Ben Stein's The Lynching of the President:

Mr. Stein is a breath of fresh air in the press room. There seems to be no end to the media attacks on the president. I really think that most of them want the U.S. to lose this war because they hate President Bush. I have a personal friend who fits this description. I love him dearly but I can't stand his political attacks on his own government. I hope we can get out of Iraq soon but not at the expense of allowing the terrorists to take over the country. I am 78 years old and will never serve my country in arms again but I have grandchildren who I have told there is no higher honor than to serve your country and fellow man.
-- R. H. Kriebel, MD

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