Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Hooray for small-town patriotism and the sincere men who have served, meaning to lay down their lives for their families and friends.

What strikes me, having lived in England, is how easily we got off; British Remembrance Day (our Veterans Day) is much bigger and more solemn because proportionally they lost so many more men. Many English towns have a World War I monument for that reason.

A lot of my libertarian sources make the mistake of hating all authority including our military, much like the modern left when it’s out of power, which has long not been true. The scum who at home tried to fight for the North Vietnamese, trying to kill our own soldiers at home, are now respected law professors. The enemy’s won in our country. (That Obama commencement speech this year: shut up and obey the government.)

It’s weird hearing the left get nostalgic about our wars, especially about the war, but it makes sense. First, the old establishment liberals weren’t bad guys. They believed in individual rights and, like the church, still believed in objective truth and fighting for it. They really thought foreign military adventures were noble causes, fighting tyranny including Communism (Vietnam was their project).

Because conservatism’s seen as law-and-order, and has a basis in authority, many Americans don’t know or have forgotten that the authentic, old right was for peace, against the left’s crusades for ‘progress’. (The Southern Baptist Convention was officially anti-war as recently as 1936; liberal mainliners were warmongers.) They didn’t want us in the world wars; America First, slandered today as Nazis, were 100% right. The John Birch Society, God love them, were even divided on Vietnam.

So I’m far from the left’s and libertarians’ anti-authority kick; it’s childish. (But I’m a true believer in libertarianism’s cornerstone: no one has the right to initiate force against another.)

That said, because of the objective evil of war, the damage it does to all involved, it’s only fair to question the state’s self-serving narrative (loving my country doesn’t mean being a slave to the government; the American Revolution was supposed to end that) and ask why the hell we were fighting.

A quick rundown (by the way, in Catholic teaching, very few wars are just):
  • The American Revolution: jury’s out; I love the old republic (so I say the flag pledge and mean it) but the many Loyalists, now slandered like George III, had a point.
  • The War of 1812: unnecessary. As I understand it, it was about the new US trying to grab the remaining British colonies in North America, what’s now Canada, and getting their asses kicked by the redcoats. We’re taught it was Part Two of the War of Independence.
  • The Mexican War and the Spanish-American War. Wars of aggression and conquest. Wrong.
  • The Civil War: we’re taught it was the noble war to free the slaves, so any cost was justified. Great seeing the black US Army re-enactors in my town’s parade, but the true story is more complicated. The South had every right to do what it did, according to the Constitution (a former president, John Tyler, was elected a Confederate congressman), Lee, not hostile to blacks, was a hero, Lincoln a monstrous dictator and Sherman a war criminal.
  • World War I: the world would have been better off if the Central Powers (Catholic Austria) had won. Palestine would have remained a sleepy outpost of the weak Ottoman Empire where all faiths were welcome.
  • THE war: I love the Greatest Generation and the war effort but we should have stayed out of it. America First (not pacifist, by the way). Let the Soviets and the Nazis kill each other, and, just like Nixon with China, make and keep the peace with imperial Japan; not our fight. The war arguably made us a superpower but the means were wrong and left the world worse off. The truth about the war: we were chumps for the real bad guys; the Soviets won, and we helped them. (Because that SOB Roosevelt’s government was riddled with Soviet agents. Yalta. Joe McCarthy was right.) Hiroshima and Nagasaki were war crimes.
  • Korea: justifiable because, once we’d betrayed Europe and Asia by handing them to the Coms, we had to contain them.
  • Vietnam: ditto but I appreciate the intelligent case against it. (Not the jerk kids waving the enemy’s flag, literally; I’m not Fonda Hanoi Jane.) I read The Quiet American when I was 18. Just a civil war; not a threat? Nixon’s Realpolitik with China seems to say so. (Smart, well-meaning guy, often wrong according to us conservatives, but wrongly demonized. He wasn’t handsome so he couldn’t get away with election cheating like Kennedy did.) The dominoes fell; he did what the people wanted and pulled us out (I remember), but we were fine. God bless and keep the good kids who didn’t get college deferments or run away to Canada (to hell with Haight-Ashbury, etc.) and tried to do what they were told. RIP.
  • Grenada and Iran/contra in Nicaragua: ditto.
  • Iraq I, Iraq II, Afghanistan and the rest of the perpetual ‘War on Terror’, or 9/11 Changed Everything™: NO! If we’d done right from the beginning, not propping up Israel (the Christians are now the chosen people; we don’t owe the people of the Old Testament anything, least of all weapons to do to the Arabs what the Nazis did to them) and not stationing our soldiers on their holy ground, the big revenge attack never would have happened. We’re paying twice as much for gas because of this idiot war.

The ugly truth about WWII.

Our troops have been horribly misused and thus abused through the years but I support them. Anti-war, pro-military. Thanks and RIP.


  1. Regards the Revolution, I share your reservations. But then again I am a legitimist.

    The War of 1812 was about much more than Canada (though you are correct that it was an anterior motive). The British Navy had for over a decade been brazenly stopping American ships on the high seas then kidnapping US merchant seamen and impressing then into the perpetually shorthanded Royal Navy. By 1812 the numbers of abducted American sailors was in the thousands. That is without doubt a causus belli.

    The Wars with Spain and Mexico were aggressive and immoral.

    I am deeply conflicted on the Civil War. But it's a done deal and the end result is a better world.

    World War I was exactly as you say. As for the wars that followed only two meet my criteria for justified military action. Those being World War II and Afghanistan. Both of which had the one essential condition to my mind. They were in direct response to a foreign attack committed against this country on our soil.

    However in the case of Afghanistan it has been dragged on far beyond the point of justification.

    None of the others were any of our business.

  2. Korea--I have mixed feelings about the war (police action is a bull sh*t term). A natural and inevitable consequence of communism seemingly ascendant; downside is it led the way to un-declared wars. Just like relaxing the rubrics to the RC mass wherein priests inevitably can't be trusted not to "star in the performance," Presidents almost inelectably are prone to play with the military toys and people that the Congress funds, equips, and authorized. What we need is a strong Congress (House & Senate) that asserts its rights as did the English Parliament of the 17th Century minus some of the Calvinistic excesses of course! LOL

    Vietnam--(1) No real Domino Effect resulted from the communist victory, (2) great irony--recently the U.S. and Vn navies held joint maneuvers. I read this as thumbing our noses at the Chinese, and (3) In most of the Vn refugees, the U.S. gained a hard working, family-oriented, intelligent people who love freedom. I can't tell you how many times I have heard a Vn former refugee in Albuquerque say in Vietnamese English semi-patois, "I free! I free!" This I hope at least counts for something, e.g., some great Vn restaurants at least! LOL Send us more if they are like the first batch or two of refugees! LOL

    I have met quite a few Vn-Americans in gov't service and in the private world with engineering, law, and business degrees. They are a results-oriented people; we need more of them, not fewer! LOL

  3. Thanks for reminding me about legitimism. The trouble with World War II was Roosevelt, egged on by British and Soviet agents either in our government or controlled by them (the British had agents seducing key Americans to get them to support the war), was trying to get the country into the war (he was already violating the Neutrality Act in the Atlantic) so he set up the Pacific Fleet to be attacked at Pearl Harbor, even leaving Admiral Kimmel out of the loop, then blaming him afterwards (the well-connected General MacArthur's forces were destroyed in a similar attack on Manila but nobody blamed or fired him), and then provoked the Japanese (embargo and asset-freezing). All Japan wanted was an Asian empire. No threat to the US. Is there any proof the Taliban caused 9/11? Most of the hijackers were Saudis, and you don't have to be a leftist to listen to the other side's grievances and realize the attacks and war were preventable without compromising our integrity or safety.

  4. Yes, to attacking Afghanistan and destroying the Taliban (killing, not torturing!) in an act of marquee & reprisal (your term, John). No to building a nation that is not a nation--has never really been much of a Kingdom--out of a people that has no national identity whatsoever, except for what passes for clan and tribal unity under Islam when foreigners are in the area in sufficient numbers to make a critical mass.
    Comments Part I:

    WWII--as I have said before--was made inevitable by WWI, Roosevelt's machinations notwithstanding except perhaps (I am not yet totally on board re: this) for the supposedly avoidable Pacific War. The two nukes--inevitable because we had the weapons and Okinawa was just a prelude for the slaughter on the Japanese mainland. I vigorously disagree with Caesar's (MacArthur) opinion that U.S. forces could conquer the mainland with much fewer casualties than current estimates at the time. MacArthur was a complex man and war leader, but also a magalomania-ridden glory hound.

    No, we would not just have taken our toys and gone home or blockaded Japan (we effectively already did this) which would have starved to death 30 million Japanese by the end of 1946. That's my number, but I opine that it is reasonable and conservative. In the Spring of 1946, Japan was at the brink of starvation until the American farmer fed them. Again, avoiding the war in the Pacific is what should have happened, but didn't.

    War of 1812--I neglected originally in my FB post to mention the impressment issue. But so did the French and we did not go to war against them, even if their impressment numbers were less than those of Great Britain. Of course the causus belli per Ad Oritentem is correct, but it wasn't the case of a virgin fighting to uphold her virtue in the face of a rapist, but a whore fighting a John who wanted a booty call for nothing! Canada was a tangential nice-to-have war trophy, but I was referring to the British occupied Western frontier and military forts that the U.S. was after. Liebensraum a/k/a manifest destiny (before the phrase was actually used)! IOW, the Ameican POV re: 1812 was comprised of mixed motives, honorable & dishonorable (imperialistic).

  5. Comments Part II:

    Yes, the Civil War is a done deal. "Better off?" Sure--no more slavery, but we still have the "Black issue" with us even in the face of so much positive social developments, especially since the 1960s. Then again we have a powerful Federal gov't with a Judiciary that makes its own erstwhile law (so does the President--Executive Orders) if only because the States failed to protect and sustain their own citizens (e.g., the African Americans), so the Feds stepped in. It's like the State raising your children because you, the parents, are falling down on the job. Result is basically a social disaster. During the Civil War, I would probably have been an Irish refugee (immigrant) fresh off the boat into that Irish regiment of the Union Army that got slaughtered at Fredericksburg facing geographically a Confederate regiment ironically comprised of Irishmen--I forget what the two regiments were, but both regimental flags were replete with the icons of Erie (or is it Eirie?).

    Vietnam's ultimate cause--IMHO it was residual McCarthyism [OK not originally coming from me!]. The Dems, specifically LBJ, were afraid of being accused by the Reps of being soft on Communism. Yes, this means that the Reps were also to blame for the Vietnam War, not just the Dems. I also opine that had Nixon been elected in place of JFK, there would have been no Vietnam War. Nixon was a lot smarter than JFK the Overrated and LBJ. He knew how to deal with those sons of bitchin' Commies. Nixon may have been a son of a bitch himself and he needed to be to do business with the other side, but at least he was our son of a bitch. Good to have one available on your side when dealing with the same sort on the other side! :-)

    Interestingly, Ho Chi Minh wanted U.S. recognition, support, and cooperation to keep the Chinese at bay when he formed a gov't before France returned to Vietnam after WWII. IOW, Ho could have been a son of a bitch on our side! Another foreign policy failure of a neophyte British Empire II.

  6. BTW, John, great pictures you have posted! Thanks.

  7. "[T]he many Loyalists, now slandered like George III, had a point."

    Ever read Thomas Hutchinson's "Strictures upon the Declaration of Independence"? Thomas Jefferson was a lawyer by trade, and in typical courtroom fashion, he grossly overstated the strength of his client's case by including lots of "intolerable abuses" that turn out to be minor and totally legal inconveniences upon closer examination.

    The best argument for Independence was simply that the Colonies had been de facto independent for over a century by 1776, governing themselves with very little input from Parliament and defending themselves from the Indians mostly without much help from the Crown, as in King Philip's War (That said, the British did most of the heavy lifting in the French and Indian War; it wasn't unjust of them to ask the colonies to help pay for it). Unfortunately, Independence wasn't going to get much traction just as a form of administrative simplification- not when weighed against the long-established doctrines of Royal and Parliamentary supremacy. So the rebels had to drag out some half-baked Enlightenment theories about sovereignty coming from "The People", in order to justify disobeying the King. Fortunately, most of the founders were sensible, relatively conservative men who distrusted "Democracy" as we know it today, and the nation they established was basically a quasi-Aristocratic decentralized Republic. Future generations of Americans made the mistake of drinking the Enlightenment Kool-Aid, though, and got us into our current mess.

    I wasn't around then and nobody would have cared what I thought anyway, but I would have asked the King George to send some minor member of the Royal family to come live in the colonies as Viceroy, then set him up as King in his own right when the time was ripe. This would be a loose Articles of Confederation-type arrangement, with the King as a weak head of state responsible for basic federal-level functions like leading armies in wartime and adjudicating interstate trade disputes. Anyway, the founders didn't do too badly- 237 years of semi-functional government is hardly the worst showing by a state.


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