Of War and Duty

The Colossus of Freedom

The Colossus of Freedom

And so, we come to it, don’t we, ISIS/ISIL/IS has decided they are at war with the United States, which isn’t much surprise. I’m confident that like the other enemies that have found us, such as Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, assorted Barbary Pirates, and a few others, their Hubris will eventually meet Nemesis. I was very angry this week when James Foley was murdered by this thuggish group of so-called terrorists.

I will further admit that my anger deepened as I learned that of all of what we call western civilization, only the United States and the United Kingdom do not pay ransom to these thugs for their captives. In fact, that is one of the major sources of their funding. We don’t because we know better.

But it is very important to make such decision not in anger but coldly and with calculation, and with recourse to prayer, and to our conscience. And so let us reflect on our duty to God, and to man.

The first foreign war of the United States was The First Barbary War which was fought because the Bashaw of Tripoli kept demanding tribute to leave our merchantmen alone. That was in 1801.

The Uk has even older experience, summed up this way

As always, Kipling nails it.

We have an incident from the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, in which an American, named Ion Perdicaris was kidnapped by a tribal leader known as the Raisuli who demanded ransom from the Bey of Algiers, by the time it was resolved the entire Atlantic Flotilla was in Algiers harbor, ready to do what, no one knows (or knew then, for that matter) but the point was made. Do not screw with Americans. I’m fairly certain that there are equivalent British incidents somewhere in the Levant. It’s a lesson that needs to be taught periodically, it seems.

Be that as it may, wise men usually believe people who tell them that their bands of thugs are at war with them. That’s true even if our State department teenage spokeschick doesn’t understand.

I hope (forlornly, most likely) that the government is as embarrassed at her nonsense as I am.

But in any case, these thugs, who claim to be a ‘State’ also claim to be at war with the United States of America. Incidentally, the blowhard who said he was going to fly the IS flag from the White House won’t be, he’s worm food now, courtesy of the United States.

But much more importantly can we, of the west, legitimately claim this is a war, and more, a just war? Well the source for that is St. Thomas Aquinas, in The Summa Theologica; Part II, Question 40. St. Thomas says this, in part:

I answer that, In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rm. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.”

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (Questions. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine's works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

Seems pretty clear cut to me, as long as we are protecting (or attempting to, the victims of ISIS, we are fine, and I fail to see anything these folks have that we want enough to fight a war over.

I’ll readily grant that opinions over the second gulf war are divided, although I recognize that the way it worked out it would have been better not to fight it.

But that’s a reason not to attempt nation-building, not an excuse to shirk our duty to protect the weak. We have learned, or at least we should have, that we cannot, in a reasonable time, teach people how to build a western country. We accomplished it in the Philippines, Britain almost accomplished it in India (that might yet work out). But in all cases it is a very long drawn out process, requiring scores of years to centuries.

And in truth, it took us centuries to make the “rule of law’ work in our home countries, and we are again wondering if we shall have to fight a civil war for it.

The sad part is, that given our leadership in America, and maybe Britain as well (although Cameron sounds much better lately than Obama) we will likely have to wait until we have new leadership. That will have costs to our countries, and may have catastrophic cost to those who are neighbors of or conquered by IS. But our countries have never yet been ready for war when it came, and it has always cost us, and it has always cost innocent people but, it is the mark of peaceful people, I think.

Some Thoughts on Ferguson; and the Police

923 (1)No, I’m not going to tell you who is right or wrong here, I don’t know, and you don’t either. Even the prosecutor doesn’t really have a handle on it yet. I can make any argument you want on it – but it all bulls**t until the facts have been found.

Still like many of you, I have become concerned with the increasing militarization of American police. In my lifetime we have gone from, if not quite Andy Griffith, Adam 12 was a fair portrait of what we expected of our police. Firm when necessary, fair, spending more time helping people than anything else, and always respectful of their boss, the taxpayer.

That started to change after the riots in 1968, when the police found themselves with several handicaps, not least being under armed, with .38 caliber revolvers and shotguns. To carry on the TV comparison, the next hit show was SWAT, and that showed us a squad of police who had special training to handle the tough chores, snipers, barricaded suspects and stuff like that. Almost universally they were part of big city police departments, and were in actuality used rarely. And that was fine with us, we understood why sometimes the patrol officer with his pistol and shotgun wasn’t enough. (In some rural areas, the shotguns were replaced by rifles, just as in the thirty’s Thompson submachine guns, while rare, did show up occasionally.)

On TV the SWAT guys showed up in a step van, which was kind of intimidating, with its dark paint and all, but it was just a truck, many of us have driven similar.

But what we’re seeing in Ferguson is so different as to defy description. These guys don’t look, or act, like American cops at all. They look, talk, and act like the armored infantry in Fallujah, and to be honest, Ferguson likely has its problems, most cities do (some local friends say the locals are actually pretty good and most of the troublemakers are from elsewhere. I have little problem believing that) but it is by no stretch of anybody’s imagination comparable to Fallujah circa 2005.

Mark Steyn wrote on this the other day and his thinking is valuable, as usual. One thing that he reminds us is that ‘the police’ is a modern idea. The Metropolitan (London) Police were the first modern force, put together by Sir Robert Peel (Thus both Bobbies in England and Peelers in Ireland), during the Duke of Wellington’s Prime Ministership. Few men have had more fear of the mob taking over. Some of my English friends have told me that this fear of the mob is why our American emphasis on the individual nonpulses them. At which point I remind them that no less than John Adams also warned about the Mobocracy.

As they got started, establishing the force Sir Robert and his people established Nine Principles of Policing. Here they are

  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

It would be very well for many, many in police leadership to review these carefully and to understand that number 7 is literally true. We the people have delegated our rights and authority to them. They do not have any more power de jure than any other citizen, we just pay them to do it, so that we may pursue other things.

Note that here we are talking about the police, local and state. The Sheriff and his deputy goes far back in our history to the Shire Reeve who was responsible to the king for maintaining the King’s law in the counties of old England. Remember the Sheriff of Nottingham that chased Robin Hood (who was not the wonderful guy you’ve heard of, he was an early redistributionist, taking people’s private property to give to others who had not earned it). Marshals, I suspect, could trace their lineage back to the marshals of England, which was a military office, probably also the progenitor of Field Marshals.

Most police wear blue uniforms, leading to the phrase “The thin blue line” and that also goes back to Sir Robert. Law enforcement had traditionally been done (at least in the last resort) by the military, usually after reading the Riot Act, (see also: The Boston Massacre in 1770) and Peel wanted to differentiate his police from soldiers. British soldiers wore red uniforms of course, leading to such terms as Redcoats, and the not quite so nice Lobsterback, so Peel gave his people blue uniforms.

When we imported the idea, I suspect, in our usual method, we just brought it over lock, stock, and barrel. Maybe we made a mistake there though, While British troops traditionally wear red, American troops traditionally wear blue. maybe American police should wear red uniforms, of course then they’d look like the Mounties, and that wouldn’t be bad thing, either.

The thing is when I was young we were taught that we would act as we dressed, and just importantly, that was also how people would treat us. We would behave more like ladies and gentlemen if we dressed like it. Our sports teams were required to wear a jacket and tie (until you had an award sweater or jacket, and you still wore the tie). Basically we dressed like civilized (sort of, anyway) human beings. We almost always wore a shirt, not a t-shirt advertising something and so forth. It did no harm, and I think it instilled a sense of self-worth in us. What does that have to do with this? If you are wearing a police uniform, likely you’ll act like a police officer. Yes, I do dislike the newer uniforms with their stuffed pockets, drab gear, and ball caps. I think they reduce respect for the wearer.

But if you dress like an infantryman, you’ll likely act like one too, and that is a lot of what I see around St. Louis right now. I’m not saying those police think they are in combat, or anything else derogatory about them, I just think they would get better results looking like police officers, and not soldiers. And incidentally, my recollection is that the British down around Basra in 2004 and or so, got much better results when they took off their version of the Robocop helmets and wore there berets, on patrol. Apparently the locals found them much more approachable.

So maybe this whole militarization thing is not only wrong, for a civilian agency, but counterproductive, as well.

[Update 14:48] I take nothing I said here back but, if your would like to know what is really going on in Ferguson, go here for a local perspective. CL is one of the best bloggers I know, and never wrong on her home town. (At least as far as I know.)

Of Letters and Bombs

Taken hostage: Hayam has bravely spoken from her captivity to tell of the grim conditions - and her fears of what she may face

Taken hostage: Hayam has bravely spoken from her captivity to tell of the grim conditions – and her fears of what she may face

The Anglican Bishop of Leeds had sent a letter to the Prime Minister, my understanding is with the full knowledge and approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This is it.

Dear Prime Minister,

Iraq and IS

I am conscious of the speed at which events are moving in Iraq and Syria, and write recognising the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges faced by the international community in responding to the crises in Syria and Iraq.

However, in common with many bishops and other correspondents here in the UK, I remain very concerned about the Government’s response to several issues. I write with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury to put these questions to you.

1. It appears that, in common with the United States and other partners, the UK is responding to events in a reactive way, and it is difficult to discern the strategic intentions behind this approach. Please can you tell me what is the overall strategy that holds together the UK Government’s response to both the humanitarian situation and what IS is actually doing in Syria and Iraq? Behind this question is the serious concern that we do not seem to have a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamist extremism as it is developing across the globe. Islamic State, Boko Haram and other groups represent particular manifestations of a global phenomenon, and it is not clear what our broader global strategy is – particularly insofar as the military, political, economic and humanitarian demands interconnect. The Church internationally must be a primary partner in addressing this complexity.

2. The focus by both politicians and media on the plight of the Yezidis has been notable and admirable. However, there has been increasing silence about the plight of tens of thousands of Christians who have been displaced, driven from cities and homelands, and who face a bleak future. Despite appalling persecution, they seem to have fallen from consciousness, and I wonder why. Does your Government have a coherent response to the plight of these huge numbers of Christians whose plight appears to be less regarded than that of others? Or are we simply reacting to the loudest media voice at any particular time?

3. As yet, there appears to have been no response to pleas for asylum provision to be made for those Christians (and other minorities) needing sanctuary from Iraq in the UK. I recognise that we do not wish to encourage Christians or other displaced and suffering people to leave their homeland – the consequences for those cultures and nations would be extremely detrimental at every level – but for some of them this will be the only recourse. The French and German governments have already made provision, but there has so far been only silence from the UK Government. Therefore, I ask for a response to the question of whether there is any intention to offer asylum to Iraqi migrants (as part of a holistic strategy to addressing the challenges of Iraq)?

4. Following on from this, I note that the Bishop of Coventry tabled a series of questions to HM Government in the House of Lords on Monday 28 July. All but two were answered on Monday 11 August. The outstanding questions included the following: “The Lord Bishop of Coventry to ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to resettling here in the UK a fair proportion of those displaced from ISIS controlled areas of Northern Iraq.” I would be grateful to know why this question has not so far been answered – something that causes me and colleagues some concern.

5. Underlying these concerns is the need for reassurance that a commitment to religious freedom will remain a priority for the Government, given the departure of ministers who championed this. Will the Foreign Secretary’s Human Rights Advisory Panel continue under the new Foreign Secretary? Is this not the time to appoint an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom – which would demonstrate the Government’s serious commitment to developing an overarching strategy (backed by expertise) against Islamist extremism and violence?.

I look forward to your considered response to these pressing questions.

Yours sincerely,

The Rt Revd Nicholas Baines (The Bishop of Leeds)

Personally, I think a cc. to President Obama would have been in order, because it’s all true here as well.

You know it’s getting very bad out there when you start seeing stories like this from the £ Daily Mail

The call came in the early hours, the voice muffled, furtive and shaking with fear. ‘If they see me talking to someone they will kill me for sure, maybe kill all of us.’

This was Nisreen, a 17-year-old seized by the vicious Islamic State forces who have swept through Iraq and Syria spreading fear and panic.

She told how she was one of 96 Yazidi girls kidnapped when their towns and villages fell to the fanatics.

Now these teenagers wait in terror to be sold into slavery or forced into marriage with militant Islamists.

‘I know this exact number because I hear them talking,’ said Nisreen. ‘We are sure they have sold us. We do not fear for our lives but for our dignity as women.’

It was a brave phone call from a desperate woman.

The world has heard the hideous stories of refugees fleeing the jihadists but here, for the first time, was a voice from the other side: from a kidnap victim trapped in IS’s newly-won territory.

The husband of another teenage woman, heavily pregnant, held  captive by the IS told me how she would rather the US bombed her prison – with her inside – than be handed out like a piece of property to an extremist fighter.

She said: ‘Let those jets come to bomb us and save us from this situation by killing all of us.’ She added death would be a better fate than to ‘be forced off with a strange man.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2726894/Please-let-American-jets-bomb-prison-death-better-forced-strange-man-8-months-pregnant-captured-Islamic-thugs-waging-Sexual-Holy-War-one-woman-issues-heartrending-plea.html#ixzz3AfQbgswl

In fact the last time I can recall such stories they came from

Auschwitz, in 1944

Crossposted from The Conservative Citizen

A New Site

cropped-desert_monast-sm-682400381We wrote yesterday about Jessica having to take her site All Along the Watchtower private due to some bigots applying pressure. Simply shameful. But what’s done is done. And so the Watchtower with its treasure of information on Christianity is no longer open access, although it still exists. A sad thing, really.

Those of you who have been here long enough know that I used to write a certain amount on Christianity, but when AATW got going, I mostly quit. There’s more than enough in the political, energy, history field for me to feel overwhelmed without it, and Jess covered it superlatively, and in fact I am one of her contributors there. That doesn’t change the fact that Christianity is the core of my belief system, as it always has been.

But Christianity is all about reaching out to others, we call it evangelization, and helping them to find the answers, so talking to each other is, while valuable, not exactly the mission.

So most of us today have gotten together and started another site, it’s called All Around the Western Frontwe hope it will be much like the old Watchtower, and you will find almost all of us there.

So come on over y’all

But the thing is, we are all getting stretched pretty thin. So, if you think you have something to contribute, do say so. It will be a Christian and honorable place, without political correctness, and also without ad hominem attacks. Essentially, it will be like what you would expect when good friends gather to discuss, without rancor, Christianity from their personal viewpoints

It will be quite erudite, if the past is any indication but, we all like to have fun as well. The rules are those of polite society, nothing more, and certainly nothing less, if I haven’t told you off here, you’ll be fine.

Given our contributors, it’s a fair bet that we will occasionally stray into politics (both US and UK) some. But since we are in the west, that too is part of our world.

So come on by, sit a spell, and get into an interesting discussion.

There’ll be some


And some shiny new ones as well. See ya there! :-)

Perfidious Albion the Anti-Semite

Courtesy of Eccles is saved

Courtesy of Eccles is saved

I dearly love my British friends, as you all know, but it takes a special kind of waffling to make Obama look like a stand-up guy. Apparently Cameron is up to that as he is few useful things. He has managed to get “a few” C-130s to fly in to help the relief effort in Iraq, but the Tornados to protect them aren’t there yet, and the Chinook helicopters haven’t even started the journey. Hope the refugees can hang on for another week or so without water and food, if they were depending on the Brits.

Not that we’re doing all that great but at least we’re doing a bit more than that. The Brits are mounting an effort that would be a credit to, oh say, Lichtenstein. But, hey, Britain thinks it’s a world power, permanent seat on the Security Council, nuclear weapons and all. Maybe Cameron is too busy down in Portugal on his holiday worshipping dead fish or something. You can find out more about that here.

This is from a Prime Minister who a few weeks back told us that Great Britain is a Christian country. Seems to me that he lends a lot of weight to GK Chesterton’s comment that, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

Of course, I’ll have to admit that he got a lot of blowback for saying it, guess he was wrong.

But what really set me off yesterday, was the news that Britain has decided that if the Gaza war starts up again, they will suspend arm shipments to Israel. That’s rich, nothing like giving Hamas control of Israeli arm purchases. Johnathon S. Tobin over at Commentary magazine has the best write-up of this that I have seen, here’s some of it. Of course nothing will be done to curtail the funding of Hamas (or the Russians for that matter)

The rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe has been harder to ignore in the last month. The war in Gaza has given a green light for Jew haters to take to the streets of the continent’s cities to vent their spleen at Israel’s efforts to defend itself against Islamists intent on genocide. But the decision of Britain’s government to threaten the Jewish state with a ban on arms sales shows just how far the discussion about the Middle East conflict has been perverted by prejudice.

The announcement that the UK would suspend arms exports to Israel if the fighting in Gaza were to resume is a victory for the Liberal Democratic members of Britain’s coalition government over its Conservative majority. Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has not always been the most stalwart friend of Israel during his term of office but he has stood up for Israel’s right of self-defense after Hamas launched a new war in which it rained down thousands of rockets on Israeli cities and used terror tunnels to breach the border. But his allies in Westminster are hardened foes of Israel and, aided by the pressure generated by massive anti-Israel demonstrations, have worn down Cameron.

The advocates of this semi-embargo claim it is nothing more than an assertion of British neutrality in the conflict. The fact that they have not included the sale of components of the Iron Dome missile defense system purchased in Britain is also seen as a gesture indicating their good will toward Israel even as they push for a cessation of hostilities.

Later he hit on exactly what I thought of, as the perfect comparison

How would the Brits have treated a decision on the part of the United States in 1940 to approve the sale of anti-aircraft guns to the one nation standing alone against the Nazis, but not other armaments designed to take the fight to Germany? The fact that it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone in the British government that such an analogy is spot on speaks volumes about the level of prejudice against Israel.

Via  UK Arms and the War on the Jews

And yes, it looks exactly the same to me.

I’m one of the last hold-outs that the British are still a member of the group of people who believe in freedom; that wrote the book on human rights. Because that book was written by the United Kingdom and the United States. By the time we willingly spent 600,000 lives of our citizens to end slavery here, Britain had spent several hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling as prize money to the Royal Navy to capture slave ships. This was how human rights became enshrined, Britain and America forced the issue.

If Britain can no longer tell the difference between freedom loving people and terrorists, then they have become more useless than the French, who are at least willing to give shelter to the Iraqi Christians and Yezidis.

America’s friends, as opposed to her interests, have always been friends of freedom, that’s why Great Britain has been foremost amongst them. It seems that has changed, and the British are no more than an European colony anymore. That’s OK, I suppose, we can always hang out with Israel, where they know the cost of freedom, because they learned it in the same way as we did, with blood.

And in case no one told you, the casualty figures that the UN pushes are straight from Hamas’ hindquarters and any resemblance to reality is accidental.

Rue, Britannia! Britannia, now the knaves!
Britons ever, ever, ever shall be slaves.

The Rhymes of History: OODA Edition

156635-ISIS-largeThis is pretty interesting, and we would be well to file it in the “Rhymes of history” file. Whatever happens-it has before, probably often. Here’s Thomas Fleming bringing advice from George Washington to our present problems.

Another way to phrase this, that I use, it was developed by an Air force officer, is the OODA Loop. It’s a good guide to gaining and maintaining the initiative. I wrote some about it here. The problem here is mostly with the ‘Observe’ part. our NCA seems to be totally oblivious to anything except fundraising, and when he does do something it is too little-too late, and often the wrong thing anyway.

Channeling George: Regaining the Initiative

“By the spring of 1972, President Nixon’s decision to ‘Vietnamize’ the war was in full swing. He had withdrawn almost all our combat troops. Only a few hundred advisors remained behind, working with various South Vietnamese divisions. The overconfident North Vietnamese launched an offensive aimed at ending the war. It was a disaster for them. They were defeated everywhere. Their worst humiliation came in the town of An Loc, where a South Viet force, outnumbered five to one, held out while American airpower pulverized the attackers. Suddenly we saw a way to seize and keep the initiative without recommitting large numbers of American infantry.”[...]

“Like President Truman in Korea, President George W. Bush found a commander who knew how to deal with the situation. General David Petraeus saw that the real problem was our inability to retain control of towns and cities where we had defeated the enemy. As we moved on to other embattled sites, the enemy, in standard guerilla fashion, infiltrated men and weapons into the supposedly pacified territory, and resumed their destructive tactics, with the help of the intimidated local population. Petraeus’s answer to this was “The Surge.” With forty thousand reinforcements, he was able to keep the places we pacified under our control, and the peace-hungry majority soon turned pro-American. That is how we regained the initiative in Iraq and won the war.”

“But it hasn’t stayed won, alas.”

“That’s because President Obama, pressured by the left wing of the Democratic Party, withdrew too many troops too soon, and there were enough guerrillas still in the game to take advantage of it. When a President listens to domestic politicians instead of to his generals, we have a veritable formula for losing the initiative.

- See more at: http://hnn.us/article/156635#sthash.cTIYFW28.dpuf

via History News Network | Channeling George: Regaining the Initiative.

He’s indisputably right, of course. What he doesn’t talk about is the parallels with Carter as well. Especially the utter inability to see that not everybody in the world is like them, some are far more ruthless, and likely motivated by things that we do not even start to understand.

To me, our biggest problem here, though is that we have utterly lost the initiative to a bunch of rabid barbarians, and the Iraqi minorities are paying a horrendous price for out cluelessness. Obama can blame the intelligence agencies all he desires, it’s an utterly transparent lie. It has been obvious for months, if not years, even in the middle of the country. The only reason for not seeing it, is an unwillingness to face reality.

Unless, and until, we regain the initiative, it is going to get worse, maybe much worse. This is not the mostly rational Soviet Union we are (sort-of) fighting here.

Cavafy comes to mind again.

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution

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