Let us stop pretending that the Iraq War was the Worst Thing Ever.

Map of major operations and battles of the Ira...

Map of major operations and battles of the Iraq War as of 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This! From Moe Lane.

(Via Instapundit) This is a pet peeve of mine, and it got triggered by this otherwise not-as-bad-as-it-could-have been article on Obama’s Syria debacle (the NYT prefers the term ‘nightmare’):

American interventionism can have terrible consequences, as the Iraq war has demonstrated. But American non-interventionism can be equally devastating, as Syria illustrates.

Stop. Freeze-frame. Rewind.  Look at those two sentences. Also look at that word ‘equally,’ which means that the author of this piece wants his readers to conclude that there aretwo separate military situations here, each one of which was, well, equally disastrous.

But that’s not even remotely true. We have one situation here. To wit: from 2001 to 2003 the United States did some long overdue corrective actions in the Middle East.  First, we went into Afghanistan and broke the neck of the regime that hosted the group that attacked us on 9/11. Then we went into Iraq and broke the neck of the regime that had been an active danger to the entire region for the previous two, three decades – and that we had unfinished business with, too. Kind of important, that. After all of that we had an insurgency develop – which is something that happens when you occupy nation-states – and then we proceeded to beat that insurgency without resorting to the usual rule of slaughtering the population*.

Source: Moe Lane » Let us stop pretending that the Iraq War was the Worst Thing Ever.

The Common Defense

English: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

English: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s start with some basics, way back when, we instituted local government amongst ourselves to protect our group (family, clan, hunting party, whatever) known as us, from everybody else, known as them. Later on, we combined our group with others who thought more or less like we did and combined our power. this is where state (State, federal, whatever) power comes from.

So you see, the first and overriding job of government is to protect us from them. In theory, it’s pretty simple, not always so in practice, but it has worked as a mission since before there was history and still does, where practiced mostly honestly. Here how James Madison put it.

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

But that is true for all legitimate government, even the farce of democracy that is the EU. In this sudden refugee crises, I think they (and we) would be wise to make sure we are not being exploited. Because something just doesn;t smell right here.  Bret Stephens wrote in The Wall Street Journal the other day ( link, permeable paywall.)

In 2003 the political theorist Robert Kagan wrote a thoughtful book, “Of Paradise and Power,” in which he took stock of the philosophical divide between Americans and Europeans. Americans, he wrote, inhabited the world of Thomas Hobbes, in which “true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might.”

Europeans, by contrast, lived in the world of Immanuel Kant, in which “perpetual peace” was guaranteed by a set of cultural conventions, consensually agreed rules and a belief in the virtues of social solidarity overseen by a redistributive state.

Sadly, our President (and a lot of our ‘elites’) thinks like the Europeans, and the result is the catastrophe enveloping the world. The next decade may make the 1940s look like the good old days.

In any case, about those ‘refugees’. I can accept that they have no paperwork, I can accept that conditions are bad where they are from. I can accept many things, and feel much sympathy for them, just as the Europeans do. But there is this nagging little voice in the back of my ear, that wonders why refugees would be so insistent that only Sweden, Germany, or maybe the UK, are good enough for them. Is it a coincidence that these three have some of the highest welfare rates and payments in Europe? If I was a citizen of one of those countries, I’d be doing some thinking. And there is this, from Great Satan’s Girlfriend.

According to the United Nations, 49 per cent are non-Syrian. As to whether they’re refugees, well, usually, refugees flees as families. Yet here, from those UN statistics, is he breakdown of those “refugees”:

13 per cent children
12 per cent women

75 per cent men

That’s not the demographic distribution of fleeing refugees, but of an invading army.


23,226 Days

"I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else - I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations" Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas broadcast 1957

“I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else – I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations”
Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas broadcast 1957

The New Elizabethan Age

That’s a pretty long time, a bit over 63 years in fact. And that is how long Elizabeth has been Queen, at 11:30 CDT, it will be longer than any British monarch, ever. I’d say she’s been one of the best.

I think she’s likely had a good bit to do with keeping Great Britain together through some pretty stressful times. Of course, her ancestors know a certain amount about that, she is, after all, a direct descendant of King Alfred the Great of Wessex, and so of the oldest ruling line in Europe, ruling (well, presiding over) the oldest nation state in the world.

It’s hard to believe that she was an ambulance driver in the Second World War, seems like several lifetimes ago, even to those of us, who know many of those who survived, including some rather famous people. Most of whom justifiably got that way, during the war.

article-1382331-0BD9943C00000578-288_634x421She will take that longevity record from her great-great-grandmother, Victoria. It was her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, wife of King George VI, who started the tradition, of Brtish royal brides bouquets be placed on the tomb of The Unknown Warrior, a lovely gesture, a remembrance of her brother Fergus, an officer of the Black Watch, killed at Loos, in 1915. It sometimes seems so long ago, but it really wasn’t. And we can easily say that it is likely that without The Queen Mother, and the Queen, and their very strong sense of duty, it is unlikely that the monarchy itself would have survived, and we would all be the poorer for it.

And so, the queen will mark the day by reopening a railroad closed by the infamous Beeching report’s consequences, it will reopen with a steam drawn train, as is appropriate for the largest railway opening in Britain since Victoria was queen, and one that closing hurt Scotland badly.

But perhaps the highest tribute to the Queen is the fact that she oversaw the transformation of the Empire – her Mother was the last Empress of India – into the Commonwealth. Which is, in fact, a tribute to what the Britsh and the Empire accomplished, not least because it is voluntary. As an American, I think it safe to say, it also contains the best friends, this group of former colonials could ever hope to have.

Lead, Follow, or get the Hell out of the Way


via ABC News, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler

Is, of course, a very old American maxim. Back when the world was young and I had just met Jess, I used it in connection with a British academic who was irritating her. Jess, being a sensible girl, who loves America nearly as much as I love Britain, proceeded to mutter it at an academic function she attended, about some footless thing that nobody could decide, choice of wine or something like that. Needless to say, it raised a few eyebrows, leading the gentlemen with her to comment about the company she was keeping. Me.

4159So I’m going to do this story backward. On that train in France the other day, there was a 62-year-old British IT guy, an expat living in the south of France. Now, I don’t know about you but that is not where I’d first look for a hero – but that’s where we found one.  His name is Chris Norman He said he thought this:

“I saw someone running down the aisle to the front of the train. I stood up to see what was happening and saw a man with what I think was an AK-47,” he said.

“My first reaction was to sit down and hide. Then I heard an American say, ‘Go get him’. I decided it was really the only chance, to act as a team and try to take down the assailant.

“My thought was, I’m probably going to die anyway, so let’s go. I’d rather die being active, trying to get him down, than simply sit in the corner and be shot.”

“Either you sit down and you die, or you get up and you die. It was really nothing more then that,” he said.

Well, Kipling once wrote that:  “A brave heart and a courteous tongue. They shall carry thee far through the jungle, manling.” I hope Mr. Norman will forgive me if I call BS on that. I bet his thought process ran more like this, a toast by American general John Stark of New Hampshire. It goes, “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” because Chris Norman is by any standard a hero. He saw a chance to fix something and he took that chance, he didn’t lead, but he followed effectively, not many men would have, especially since we have all seen how docile the Brits have become. The same is true for that off-duty French train conductor. Damned good men, both of them.

But the Americans! Well, I happened to be listening to the BBC when the story broke, arriving with the information that the were marines. Without disrespect to anyone, I thought, of course, later the story changed that it was two soldiers and an American civilian. OK, if you look at the pictures they’re wearing their hair pretty high and tight, so it’s a more or less natural mistake, and besides no leatherneck could have done it any better. Think about that for a minute, a junior Air Force medic, an Oregon National Guardsman, in Britspeak, a territorial, and a civilian friend of theirs, running to the sound of the guns. Are they heroes? You’re damned right they are! It was nearly a perfect anti-terrorist operation. What flight 93 could have been with some more luck.

And that Air Force medic, Spencer Stone, who nearly had his thumb cut off by this thug, still had the guts and presence of mind to provide basic aid to a Frenchman who had either been either shot or knifed in the neck, I’ve read both, don’t know which is true, doesn’t really matter at the moment.

It was once written that:

“The truly amazing thing about me is that, as a product of this amazing country, I am utterly ordinary. However, once I leave the borders of these United States, I start to grow in power and influence until I become someone who can do anything; feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, protect the weak and clothe the shabby”.

And that pretty much applies here, utterly ordinary Americans, until some fool on a French train opened up with an AK, and then, well the adults in the train took over, three young American guys. And from what I read, he’s a lucky terrorist, he didn’t maintain his weapon, and it jammed, so they merely subdued him, instead of letting him tell Allah all about it, and his failure.

Kipling also wrote: “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack”. And that my friends is why terrorism doesn’t work on free men, it does not account for the sheepdogs, not all of whom wear uniforms.

And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks that fought with us.

A few years ago, in one of the documentaries about the war in Europe, they interviewed a Dutch woman about the day that the Americans liberated her town.

She stated she knew they were Americans because ‘they walked like free men’.

We still do.


Peace is Our Profession


Stategic Air Command

Strategic Air Command; via Wikipedia

In still another demonstration of the consequences of decline of American leadership, as the seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approach, we are once again forced to confront the horrific moral problems of the use of nuclear weapons.

As is, or should be, well-known, Truman and American leadership had no doubt at all about the morality of the use of atomic weapons in the case of Imperial Japan. As stated here:

It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam.  Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of  ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.

And the real justification is this:

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuked 70 years ago. 34 years ago Paul Fussell wrote this important essay, ‘Thank God for the Atom Bomb’.

21 year old 2nd Lt. Fussell commanded infantry in WWII France. Later, he had to sit around waiting to invade Japan and die. That was the general expectation of the vets of the European theater – they didn’t think they’d survive Japan.

Then Aug 6th happened.

When the atom bombs were dropped and news began to circulate that “Operation Olympic” would not, after all, be necessary, when we learned to our astonishment that we would not be obliged in a few months to rush up the beaches near Tokyo assault-firing while being machine-gunned, mortared, and shelled, for all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy. We were going to live. We were going to grow to adulthood after all.

Do read that essay linked above, and the link here and think about that last line. One Million American soldiers and most of the population of Japan thought that in August of 1945.

The essay ends this way:

Harry Truman was not a fascist but a democrat. He was as close to a genuine egalitarian as anyone we’ve seen in high office for a long time. He is the only President in my lifetime who ever had experience in a small unit of ground troops whose mission it was to kill people. That sort of experience of actual war seems useful to presidents especially, helping to inform them about life in general and restraining them from making fools of themselves needlessly – the way Ronald Reagan did in 1985 when he visited the German military cemetery at Bitburg containing the SS graves. […]

Truman was a different piece of goods entirely. He knew war, and he knew better than some of his critics then and now what he was doing and why he was doing it. “Having found the bomb,” he said, “we have used it. . . . We have used it to shorten the agony of young Americans.” The past, which as always did not know the future, acted in ways that ask to be imagined before they are condemned. Or even simplified.

Paul David Miller writing in The Federalist did a pretty good summarization of the case for the moral use of nuclear weapons.

Because nuclear weapons are so big, they are hard to use in a discriminating way. Drop one bomb and you are almost guaranteed to kill far more people than is militarily necessary.

It would be easier to argue for the immorality of all weapons under the guise of pacifism—all weapons, all war, and all violence are always wrong—but that is neither what the president argued nor what most Christians or most citizens instinctively believe. According to the just war tradition, Biblical passages like Genesis 9 and Romans 13 permit—even obligate—states to wage war in pursuit of a just cause. As part of the covenant God established with Noah and his descendants after the flood, God mandated that we pursue violent offenders with the sword: “From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man” (Genesis 9:5). God specifically did not reserve for himself the duty to strike down violent aggressors, but chose to delegate the task to us. This is the foundation of the state’s legitimate coercive authority and the reason most Christians have not been pacifists. “Rulers do not bear the sword for no reason,” Paul wrote (Romans 13:4), “They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” The “sword” is a violent, coercive tool: states exist under God’s mandate to uphold order in this fallen world.

States can, therefore, wield weapons. Why not nuclear weapons? The best moral argument against nuclear weapons, as opposed to other kinds of weapons, is that they violate the just war principles of discrimination and proportionality. The principle of discrimination says that in fighting a war justly, we are obligated to discriminate between enemy combatants and civilians and avoid harming the latter as much as possible. This is a simple extension of our obligation to love our enemies and our neighbors: we should strive to kill as few of them as necessary. Because nuclear weapons are so big, they are hard to use in a discriminating way. Drop one bomb and you are almost guaranteed to kill far more people than is militarily necessary. Hiroshima was the headquarters of Japan’s Second General Army and Nagasaki was a major industrial center for war materiel, both legitimate wartime targets—but the nuclear bombing of those cities killed up to 250,000 people, almost all civilians.

Continue reading: In Defense Of (Some) Nuclear Weapons.

He does a good job here and I think you should read the whole thing. One place where I think he falls down a bit, is in making a clear delineation between tactical and strategic. What he says was true, in the early 60s and perhaps through part of the 70s, but with the deployment of Minuteman III, Peacekeeper, and Trident, American strategic warheads returned to around 120-800 or so kiloton range with a circular error probable (CEP) of approximately eighty to one hundred and twenty meters. They are the ultimate smart bombs, specifically designed to destroy Soviet missile silos, and thus actually fall under counterforce rules. The countervalue weapons are all gone from the American inventory.

Remember the heady days in the early 90s when history had ended, and we had a ‘peace dividend’ to waste on corrupt programs? Those days are gone, Father Time has restarted the clock, and the most horrendous part of recent American foreign policy is that now, seventy years after the first use of atomic weapons, we again must contemplate the moral way use them again.

Experience is indeed the best teacher, and we threw away ours in a dream of eternal peace, one hopes that relearning the lesson is not as expensive as it could be.

Justin Welby: ‘The abolition of the global – learning to live in the world in one city’

This is pretty good, albeit long. Note that Archbishop Welby starts at about the 18:00 mark.

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