Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's An American Foreign Legion:
The mindset that inspired the organization of the first Foreign Legion is the same mindset that gave birth to most of the world's political and cultural conflicts whose consequences we are confronting today.
A Legion of expendables would be, as it has been in the past, a temptation to cynical adventurism and opportunism, as well as a political risk in its own right, as the Legion proved to be in its mutiny in Algeria.
As it stands foreigners who intend to immigrate are accepted into the U.S. military; they should be accepted on the same basis as natural-born soldiers, and not as dispensable cannon-fodder.
-- Daniel McEnroe
I read "An American Foreign Legion" carefully, twice -- and I have a couple of comments.
First, this is not a new idea -- I recall it popping up from time to time during the Vietnam War. It never went anywhere then, and I doubt that it will do better now. While America may be a de facto Empire, we do not view ourselves that way at all -- and the American people will not support anything as reminiscent of the old Colonial powers as a "Foreign Legion."
Second, having said that we will not support it, I will note that we do, in fact, have a great many foreign-born soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. The ranks of the Army's Special Forces were well-populated with foreign-born soldiers, even a few from France! (I served on an A-Team with a former Legionnaire from Corsica, in fact). This continues to the present day.
And, finally, aside from the practicality of forming a separate corps of the foreign-born, I noted a very strong tendency in your piece to regard these men as cannon-fodder, suitable for filling body bags that would otherwise be occupied by real Americans. I think this is an unworthy -- and in fact shameful -- attitude. I hope that I have completely misunderstood you on this point.
-- Jack Gold
Of all the proposals that I have heard to improve American military preparedness, your suggestion of an American foreign legion has to be the most reprehensible by far. What makes your proposal so repulsive is the implicit suggestion that our government sanction, in its name, violent military action that would be carried out, for the most part, by the "flotsam and jetsam of the world" and not our own citizens. Your main justification for this idea appears to be that our young men may be increasingly unwilling to tear themselves away from their beer to go off and fight against the harbingers of some possible potential threat in some remote corner of the world. News Flash, they should be!!!
When our own citizens are unwilling to do their own fighting we should not ask others to do it for us. In such a situation the issue is obviously not of value to us as a nation. If our political leaders are unable to make the case for citizen involvement in a military venture the venture should not be made. Consider citizen support as a type of civic check on the promiscuous use of military power. Winston Churchill once said, "The statesman who yields to the war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy." The last thing this country needs to do is remove a barrier, or increase the temptation, for our statesmen to yield to the war fever.
-- Captain T. Leggett, USMC
Depot Law Center
Marine Corps Recruit Depot
Parris Island, SC
Defense by foreign barbarians. What a good idea.
WHO'S PATRONIZING WHOM?
Re: Ben Stein's Spiders With Tenure:
I read Ben's piece on professordom in both the magazine and on your website yesterday. Loved it. As a veteran of 41 years as a college professor, almost all at state universities, I can add a few things to his observations. One is that the liberalism of most academics is rooted to some extent in the fact that they most of them are wards of the state. In the old days when intellectuals depended upon rich patrons for support, they were a lot more conservative. Imagine that. Also, a lot of academics are rather immature people who, like children, love to bite the hand that feeds them. Then the fact that their clientele includes many young people who like to rebel against social conventions tempts them to ingratiate themselves by catering to those rebellious tendencies.
-- John S. Evans
CHEEK TO CHEEK (I)
Re: Enemy Central's The Swing of Things:
How can I be "tongue in cheek" about this?
I, like open wheel racing fans world wide, was dismayed that you chose to use "Lil' Al" as a pet name for the unbalanced Al Franken. "Lil' Al" is the unofficial nick-name of 2 time Indianapolis 500 mile race winner and CART series champion Al Unser Jr. Calling Al Franken "Lil' Al" is as big of an insult to an open wheel race fan as calling him John Wesley would be to a Methodist.
You should be ashamed.
Tongue in cheek enough?
-- Clark Hodgson
CHEEK TO CHEEK (II)
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s A Dark Cloud Over Dr. Dean:
Very funny! Did you have to have your tongue surgically removed from your check after writing this?
Your servant by His grace,
-- William A. Tomlinson
Re: Larry Parker and Larry Kaufmann's letters in Reader Mail's Back to School With Ben:
In reply to Mr. Larry Parker, We are in Iraqi for one simple reason -- Antietam. The military and the leadership during the Civil War (or War Between the States for those of us south of Mason-Dixon) learned a very valuable lesson: Better to fight elsewhere and spoil their nest than wait and fight at home, for war is truly a messy business.
Politically we have not forgotten this fact. Short of the brief attack by the Japanese and recently by the Wahabbists, this country has had the dictum of anywhere but here for some 140 years. It may not have the strategic brilliance of a Clauswitz Ardennes offensive but fundamentally it has worked well.
-- John McGinnis
Mr. Kaufmann (Madison, WI) raises a powerful point and a very important question parallel to the current leanings of academia. But an even stronger -- and in my opinion even more important -- question is how and why anti-Americanism has become the mood of the press (especially, as in Mr. Kaufmann's example, post-Vietnam)? Where the Hollywood mob can have limited influence, the celebrity bigmouth is still taken with a grain of salt by the general public because he remains detached from the real world and the people know this. I feel the true danger is that the communist underground of the press has become its overwhelming voice, shouting hatred and anti-Americanisms. Have editors and publishers found some way to rise to the top without every glancing out the window at the real world? Perhaps Mr. Stein could answer both of these questions at the same time, given their two parallels: both situations show sudden change post-Vietnam, and much like the celebrity's ability to emote without concrete objects, the press seem to be trained to probe and cry foul -- but with no consideration to whether their muckraking is solving problems, or simply fabricating them (or worse yet, aggravating them).
-- Erik Litvinchuk
A NEW WORLD RISING
Re: Francis X. Rocca's Constitutionally Unchristian:
In 1492, two items of major significance occurred:
(1) Discovery of an unsuspected "new world" on a voyage financed and outfitted to find a sea route westward to India; (2) Spanish termination of the Islamic drive to conquer Europe by forcing the last of the Muslim combatants off the Iberian Peninsula across the straits at Gibraltar and into Africa.
From a European perspective, the second item may have had greater importance.
If so, how very interesting that 511 years later, it seems Christianity may be faltering on the European continent as noted by Francis X. Rocca in his article you published 8/29/2003. One wonders if this will presage a renewed attempt -- after half a millennium of dormant repose -- by religious fanatics to sweep Europe into the Islamic fold thereby extinguishing both Judaism and Christianity on the continent.
My personal view? I agree with Mr. Rocca: don't bet against John Paul II. This Polish survivor of Nazi tyranny is a scrapper. His health may be failing, but his fighting spirit is intact.
The attack on innocent U.S. civilians in Lower Manhattan, Arlington, and aboard four commercial passenger aircraft two years ago may have been nothing but a preliminary warm up bout before the main event. If so, we have made a hell of a down payment for our ticket at ringside ... with a considerable balance left to pay.
For those whiners -- especially those of the pampered, preachy, pretentious and utterly gutless Cry Baby Boom elite -- who are just now throwing another of their famed tantrums, this time about why it is "taking so long" for our brave young servicemen and women to achieve our political objectives reconstituting Iraq, one word of advice echoing down the corridor of time from the late Al Jolson: "Baby, you ain't seen NOTHIN yet!"
The war declared on us (and on Europe, though many Europeans would prefer not to acknowledge it just yet) as part of a worldwide jihad is just barely into its opening salvoes. Russia has been fighting this war in a Chechnyan theater of operations for quite some time. We have been fighting this war -- for almost 23 months -- in two theaters of combat operations, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Anyone who believes the battles in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq are the only battles that will be fought in this war has badly underestimated the determination of the enemy and the scope of his political objective. This is a war that now involves our children on active duty. It is a war that will very likely involve our grandchildren's grandchildren. It is my surmise that we now have both the forces and the military logistic infrastructure in place in Iraq -- and are being provided ample reason given the daily drip-by-drip increase in U.S. casualties due to terrorist RPG/landmine attacks -- to expand our existing theater of combat operations into both Syria and Iran either serially or simultaneously. The decision to do so is necessarily a policy decision, the timing of which will be critical.
I base the surmise on a growing need to expand combat operations on a belief that we will find it needlessly difficult to help the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure and establish their own democratic form of representative government if these efforts are being constantly nibbled at by jihadists leaking through porous borders with Syria and Iran. The reigning despots in both Syria and Iran have nothing to gain -- and indeed much to lose -- by seeing the Iraqis succeed in establishing a democracy at their doorsteps. Clearly we are not going to jawbone them into curtailing movement of their homegrown terrorists into Iraq.
Unlike the situation into which JFK heedlessly plunged us in Indochina forty years ago, neither Syria nor Iran has superpower backing. Neither will be able to afford a political/militarily untouchable sanctuary of the kind the forces of the Vietminh, NVA, Khmer Rouge et al enjoyed in Laos and Cambodia to refresh and re-arm themselves in preparation for the inevitable next offensive. And, unlike both JFK and LBJ, we have in George Bush a leader who is not too timid to lead in a time of adversity.
Thank goodness the Grim Reaper will soon thin our ranks of the pusillanimous, trivial weenies of the Cry Baby Boom elite and allow those with a stomach for defending Freedom get on with the job. It is not a task for a generation that burned draft cards and Old Glory, hid out in academia and Canada, even cursed and spat upon servicemen of their own generation, for heaven sake, when the call to arms was sounded for that spoiled brat generation of pitiful losers.
A pampered cohort of aging infants terminally fascinated with self is about to give way to younger generations of patriots, the adults. The words of FDR almost seventy years ago ring as true for these younger, more courageous Americans as it did for the "greatest" WWII generation of heroes that saved America on the homefront and in both ETO and Pacific combat arenas: "This generation has a rendezvous with destiny."
Current difficulties notwithstanding, there is much reason for optimism. The courage of the WWII generation -- that, for the most part, skipped over their post WWII children -- has landed squarely on generations that include their grandchildren and, in some cases, their great grandchildren. We cannot know whether the war declared against us will end in triumph or defeat. It is enough to know that it will be fought with vigor and determination.
What promises to be a long running war will be fought by young, patriotic Americans who will not strike their colors and slither away to some imagined safe haven to suck their thumbs and complain about how "unfair" the world is. It will be fought by traditional American patriots who appreciate what it takes to "ask for a fast ship, for I mean to go in harm's way." The remains of J. P. Jones may repose in a crypt beneath the U. S. Naval Academy chapel at Annapolis, but his undaunted spirit lives on in these brave young American servicemen and women. It is a legacy of Freedom.
-- Thomas E. Stuart
ENTITLED TO HIS OPINION
Stupid or just a jackass is the question I submit. I am writing about the author of Hit and Run Liberals, George Neumayr, who justly points an accusing finger at the Phoenix bishop involved in the hit and run accident. But just how stupid is the title of his article. It is soooooooooo stupid that I do not believe I have even seen one that could top it in the stupid category.
-- Robert Atanasio