Sunday, December 11, 2011


In 1989, Paul Smith, the Principal of Layton High, asked me if I would put on a Patriotic Assembly for the student body. As a Boy Scout camp staffer and camp director, I had participated in hundreds of patriotic assemblies, so I agreed, on condition that Mr. Smith ask the entire faculty to attend and disperse themselves throughout the auditorium. They would be there. The assembly would start, as all our assemblies do, with a flag ceremony. I had noticed that the students were not quiet or respectful during the presentation of the colors or the pledge. I had and idea of how to fix that. My son Bryon was a Cub Scout, and I arranged for his den to come to the high school to present the colors. I warned him that the students would be talking while he was trying to preset the colors, and told him to stop, lean into the microphone and say, “Would you please be quiet and show respect to the flag of our country.” I was just as I predicted, the student body was all achatter, Bryon paused, leaned over to bring his lips close to the mike, and clearly and forcefully deliver the rebuke. Believe me, nothing shuts up sixteen year olds like getting scolded by an eight year old; you could have heard a pin drop for the rest of the ceremony. As Debate Coach, I enlisted the help of my team. I wrote a little skit though which our Team President, Trent Warner, was able to relate Rulion Skinner’s story of about seeing the flag upside down out of his high school window in the early days of WWII. Telling how within a year all three of the teachers who set it right had died fighting for our freedom. I had three veterans, from the Layton High faculty and staff, talk about their service. Our Agriculture Teacher put together a slide show which flashed pictures of America as the music played “I’m Proud to Be an America”. I had printed out the words to “God Bless America” and the first verse of the National Anthem. Every one got a hand out, and when it was time to sing they all had the words. After the slide show, we sang the national anthem. Then the Captain of the Football Team, Chris Trijieo, stood to tell his class mates how he felt about his country. As he spoke, his voice broke with emotion. Someone in the crowd jeered. “Shut up,” Chris demanded; once again – absolute silence. At the end of the assembly, we all stood to sing God Bless America. There were many tears and the room was filled with a beautiful emotion, joy and pride in our country.

I walked back to my room feeling quite the success. In the hall across from my classroom I was accosted by a colleague. She flatly stated that what I had done reminded her of Hitler. I had manipulated the emotions of the students; she went on to remind me of the murder of the Indians and the evils of Vietnam, then marched off to her class room. There were other complaints, and it would be after 9/11 before we had another patriotic assembly.

It is my belief that Western greatness go back to Achilles, and to every Western man’s desire to be Achilles. Achilles chose a life of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom, he choose to voyage home to his grandchildren, yet unborn. But when Justice demanded it, he stayed and died fighting for the truly good.

I have long contemplated the “fall of Rome” and long ago came to the conclusion that Rome fell because the Romans were no longer willing to fight for it, that they valued other things more than Roman. I have just finished a book by Bruce S. Thornton called The Wages of Appeasement. Of the many themes he presents, the one that most struck me reinforces this opinion. Thornton’s three chapters, together with his introduction and conclusion, map the fate of those who fail to do their duty. Thornton begins with a discussion of the accession to power over the Greek States of accomplished by Philip of Macedon, he then reviews the disaster of Britain’s attempt to appease Hitler, and ends with an examination of the danger the United States faces from Islamic Terrorism.

As Americans, as the latest incarnation of Rome, as the heirs to Achilles, we value Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom, but we are making two mistakes. First, that Americans are entitled to and can always have these treasures without sacrifice. Second, that all other peoples want these things as well, and can be appeased, bribed out of their goals, by promising them what we have. I wonder if we will survive our errors.

I wish you, who ever you are, would read Thornton’s book, but I know time is short, so I have reduced his 283 pages into something less than twenty.

The Temptation of Hector (Introduction)

In May of 2008, President Bush ignited a political firestorm when in a speech to the Israeli parliament he compared some Democratic politicians to England’s Neville Chamberlain and his disastrous policy of appeasing Hitler: “Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is—the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” (pg xi)

. . . the Roman historian Livy defined as history’s important function: to offer from the past models of “base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.” (pg xiii)

The fear of death and violence inherent in human nature is a constant across time and space, as Homer shows us. Hector’s fear, however, is justified, as he knows he can never defeat Achilles in battle and that his own death means the destruction of Troy. (pg xiv)

Hector’s decision to await Achilles, his refusal to give in to the temptation of appeasement, and his last valiant charge at Achilles even as he know he is doomed are all fueled by honor and its corollary, shame at dishonor. (pg xvii)

Athens and Philip II (Chapter One)

Demosthenes calls on the Athenians to throw aside their “disinclination to do our duty” and instead to act, rather than indulging their “insolence,” “indifference and carelessness,” and “outrageous and incurable slothfulness.” He exhorts them to stop taking thought first for private “pleasure” and allowing self-serving politicians to weaken their civic courage by exploiting their apathy: “The politicians hold the purse-strings and manage everything, while you, the people, robbed of nerve and sinew, stripped of wealth and allies, have sunk to the level of lackeys and hangers-on, content if the politicians gratify you with a dole from the Theoric Fund or a [religious] procession.” (56)

We must make provision for defense, I mean with war-galleys,, funds, and men; for even if all other states succumb to slavery, we surely must fight the battle of liberty.” (58)

Demosthenes repeatedly emphasizes throughout this period that the Athenians are more concerned with their domestic entitlements and pleasures then with protecting their interests and freedom through the provision of funds for defense and through personal service. In his first speech addressing the threat of Philip, the first Phillippic of 351, he scolded the Athenians for efficiently organizing and funding their festivals, with enthusiastic participation of all the citizens, while their military expeditions are mismanaged and starved of resources. These misplaced priorities reflect the decay of political virtue that hamstrung Athens in its confrontation with an aggressive autocrat. (59)

Finally, the decay of political virtue is the most important factor in the loss of Greek freedom. That is, the failure of an important ideal – rather than the attempt to implement some utopian program, such as pacifism in the 1920’s destroyed the foundations of virtue and character upon which political freedom rests and left the Greeks venerable to the aggressor. Citizens who see the state as a source of largess rather than as their own “common thing” in whose defense they must sacrifice their lives and treasure, will be loath to take up the duties and make the scarifies required to protect freedom against those who would destroy it. (pgs 62-63)

England and Germany (Chapter Two)

Once again, throughout this period economic self-interest and political constraints were an important factor in England’s behavior. At the time of the Washington Naval Conference in 1921 and 1922, England’s economy was ailing, suffering from foreign competition and high unemployment. In addition, interest payment on the national debt, which by 1927 was 172 percent of gross domestic product, reached 40 percent of government spending by the late Twenties. At the same time, demands for increasing spending on social welfare programs were increasing. Many politicians agreed with Prime Minister Lloyd George, who “defended spending on social programs both as part of his program to make England ‘a land fit for heroes,’ and as part of a more urgent plan to placate a restless and increasingly unhappy populace. He was, therefore, much less likely to accept cuts in government programs in housing, for instance, than to cut the military.” (pg 86)

This utopian ideal, abetted by a growing pacifism and faith in collective security . . . was enshrined in Article 8 of the Versailles Treaty, regarding the functions of the League of Nations: “The Members of the League recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations. . . . The Members of the League agree that the manufacture by private enterprise of munitions and implements of war is open to grave objections. The Council shall advise how the evil effects attendant upon such manufacture can be prevented. . . . And of course, as we today continue to experience in international attempts to disarm a nuclear North Korea or prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, international agreements or monitors, absent the threat of force, will not deter states eager to possess weapons. (pg 87)

Hitler correctly calculated that he could now blatantly rearm and so no longer needed negotiation and multinational treaties to achieve his goals and camouflage his activities. The failure of the Disarmament Conference illustrates once again that a reliance on diplomatic talk is vitaited (polluted) by the simple fact that any sovereign nation can just stop talking when talk no longer serves its interest. (88)

When Hitler came to power in January 1933, then, the ground for German expansion had already been prepared by over a decade of appeasement fueled by fear, shortsighted national interests, and delusional idealism. (90)

. . . Japan resigned from the League in protest. Any shrewd aggressor could see that the League was nothing but a mechanism for dressing inaction in the rhetorical robes of utopian internationalism, and became even more obvious during the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939), when Italy and Germany blatantly provided men and arms to the Nationalists while the League remained neutral. (92)

Here is an important danger of failing to resist hostile actions: any act of appeasement empowers not just one, but any number of other aggressors who may be watching from the sidelines and calculating chances. (pg 98)
. . . “ Mussolini,” Churchill wrote, “like Hitler, regarded Britannia as a frightened, flabby old woman, who at the worst would only bluster, and was anyhow incapable of making war.” (98)
The left was particularly pusillanimous, one newspaper writing, “Hitler has torn up a treaty, he has broken all his promises, but at the same time he speaks of peace and Geneva [i.e., disarmament]. We must take him at his word.” (101)
However, as Churchill later wrote, “Virtuous montages, trammeled by inertia and timidity, are no match for armed and resolute wickedness. A sincere love of peace is no excuse for muddling hundreds of millions of humble folk into total war.” (101)
“Only a few hours away by air there dwells a nation of nearly seventy millions of the most educated, industrious, scientific, disciplined people in the world, who are being taught from childhood to think of war and conquest as a glorious exercise, and death in battle as the noblest fate of man. There is a nation which abandoned all its liberties in order to augment its collective might. There is a nation which, with all its strength and virtues, is in the grip of a group of ruthless men preaching a gospel of intolerance and racial pride, unrestrained by law, by Parliament or by public opinion. . . Now they are rearming with the utmost speed and ready to their hands is this new lamentable weapon of the air, against which our Navy is no defense, before which women and children, the weak and the frail, the pacifist and the jingo, the warrior and the civilian, the front line trench and the cottage home, lie in equal and impartial peril.” Churchill ( pgs 108-109)
Chamberlain was horrified by the possibility of war, however, and still deluded about the ability of diplomatic negotiation to defuse a crisis, as well a nursing a vain faith in the power of his personality and negotiating skills. . . . Chamberlain’s delusional assumption that Hitler was a man like himself, interested in peace and amenable to reasoned negotiation, coupled to his personal vanity and the culture-wide fear of war, all found in diplomatic discussion and convenient excuse for avoiding hard facts and making hard decisions. (pgs 114-115)
Fear, misguided idealism, and shortsighted national interests had paved the way for the most destructive war in history, one whose victory ultimately rested as much with luck and Hitler’s mistakes as with the heroic efforts and sacrifices of the Allies. Hard upon this struggle, moreover, came the Cold War and the confrontation with an expansionary, nuclear-armed Soviet Union that the war had turned into a superpower, a conflict that risked human civilization itself. Political freedom was indeed saved from fascism, but at the cost of horrors the effects of which still shape our world today. (pg 119)
The Pacifist Delusion
Also important were organization such as the London Peace Society, which like Tolstoy, whom it called “the foremost and most uncompromising Peace advocate in the world,” believed in societal transformation to abolish not just war but social ills such as alcoholism, slavery, prostitution, and brutal imprisonment. Significantly for the interwar period we are examining, these organizations focused on establishing international organizations and laws that used arbitration codified in treaties to diffuse conflict, at the same time that they agitated for disarmament. Finally equally important for the social and political mood that facilitated policies of appeasement in the Thirties were the socialist and labor movements . . . these movements saw war between states as a violation of their universalistic ideal of human brotherhood and an expression of capitalism’s inherent corruption. “Only when countries adopt a Socialist form of government,” said British Labour [sic.] Party leader George Lansbury in1937, “will the world be finally secure for peace.” . . . George Orwell commented on the pacifism and antimilitarism pervasive in the postwar (WWI) period, particularly among those who were too young to have fought: “Ours was the one-eyed pacifism that is peculiar to sheltered countries with strong navies. For years after the war, to have any knowledge of or interest in military matters, even to know which end of a gun the bullet comes out of, was suspect in ‘enlightened’. 1914 – 1918 was written off as meaningless slaughter, and even the men who had been slaughtered were held to be in some way to blame.” . . . [and there was] famed physicist Albert Einstein, who in 1928 advised people not to participate in any war, for any reason.” (pgs 128-130)
Here we see concentrated all the false knowledge and received wisdom of the previous decades, also evident in the ideas of Nevile Chamberlain and other appeasers: the demonization of the Versailles Treaty as an act of irrational revenge against Germany; faith in unilateral disarmament as the way to create peace; and the delusional view of human nature—even for dictators clear about their aggressive aims—as essentially rational, peace-loving, and fair-minded, and thus amenable to the negotiated settlement of conflict and appeasement of grievances. (pg 131)
Winston Churchill made the connection between pacifism and this malaise in 1936: “We view with the strongest reprehension activities like those of [Labor Party leader] Mr. Lansbury and Canon [Dick] Sheppad, who are ceaselessly trying to dissuade the youth of this country from joining its defensive forces, and seek to impede and discourage the military preparations which the state of the world forces upon us.” (pg 131)
They assumed that people universally were reasonable and capable ration all of determining their true interests, these being a peace and prosperity generated by global free trade. Norman Anbgell, in his influential The Great Illusion (1910), argued that in a world united by trade, finance, and industry, nationalism and the pursuit of national interests through war were irrational because they were unprofitable. This argument took for granted, however, that all people were able to cultivate their reason and recognize their true interests, which turned out to be those of liberal-democratic Europeans. . . . Yet the whole history of mankind demonstrated that war was not a distortion of a pacific, rational human nature, and anomaly reflecting the temporary ascendancy of their rational or a cabal of evil rulers, but rather an instrument by which states pursued their various perceived interests, whether these be rational or irrational, interests moreover shard by a critical mass of people who did the fighting and dying. In short, history demonstrates that, as Plato’s Cleinias put it in the Laws, peace is “only a name; in reality every city is in a natural state of war with every other.” (pgs 134-135)
International idealism, in short, fails because the primary objective of a sovereign nation is to pursue its interests, not to adhere to some abstract, universal ideal of right or justice. As George Washington said, “It is a maxim founded on the universal experience of mankind, that no nation can be trusted farther than it is bounded by its interests.” (pg 137)
The climate was the increasing estrangement, if not active dislike, that many in England, particularly among the political and cultural elite, felt toward their own country and its institutions, a loss of faith in the goodness of their own way of life that made it more difficult for many to find the will to fight, kill, and die for those beliefs until it was nearly too late. . . (pg140)
The rise of communism and socialism, which opposed the democratic liberalism and free-market capitalism defining England by the late nineteenth century, attracted many and perforce turned them to some degree against their own country and its institutions. Socialism, moreover, was an internationalist, antinationalist creed, and so reinforced the internationalist idealism. . . H. G. Wells, for example, protested against “the teaching of patriotic histories that sustain and carry on the poisonous war-making tradition of the past and novelist J. B. Priestly considered patriotism “as a might force, chiefly used for evil.” (pg 141)
. . . George Orwell noted in The Lion and the Unicorn (1941): “England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality, In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution.” (pg 143)
Winston Churchill had said. . . “Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come form the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians. But what have they to offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible Utopias?” . . . “Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told. If, while on all sides foreign nation are every day asserting a more aggressive and militant nationalism by arms and trade, we remain paralyzed by our own theoretical doctrines or plunged into the stupor of after-war exhaustion, then indeed all that the croakers predict will come true, and our ruin will be swift and final.” (pg 144)
And when a civilization that has lost its faith in its country as something worth killing and dying for, is confronted with one that has a powerful belief in the righteousness and superiority of its way of life, then no amount of material power, whether economic or military, can compensate for that loss. (pg 145)

America and Jihad (Chapter Three)
The spirit of Munich has by no means retreated into the past; it was not a brief episode. I even venture to say that the spirit of Munich is dominant in the twentieth century. The intimidated civilized world has found nothing to oppose the onslaught of a suddenly resurgent fan-baring barbarism, except concessions and smiles. The spirit of Munich is a disease of the will of prosperous people; it is the daily state of those who have given themselves over to a craving for prosperity in every way, to material well-being as the chief goal of life on earth. Such people—and there are many of them in the world today—choose passivity and retreat, anything if only the life to which they are accustomed might go on, anything so as not to have to cross over to rough terrain today, because tomorrow, see, everything will be all right. (But it never will! The reckoning for cowardice will only be more cruel. Courage and the power to overcome will be ours only when we dare to make sacrifices.) Alexander Solzhenitsyn (pg 147)
Vietnam Syndrome
It should be remembered that the debacle in Southeast Asia was not a consequence of military defeat, but of a political failure of nerve. (pg 149)
. . . South Vietnamese were in a position to hold their own as long as they continued to have American air support and military resources. When in August 1973 the Democratic-controlled Congress cut off that support and drastically reduced military aid, a North Vietnam armed and backed by the Soviet Union and China overran the South. The cost of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory was of course most grievous for the South Vietnamese: In addition to the 750,000 killed during the war, a million “boat people” fled their so-called liberators, 65,000 political enemies were executed, and another 250,000 died in “reeducation” camps. (pg 150)
“Vietnam syndrome”— doubt about America’s goodness and power, and fear of casualties and foreign “quagmires”— that made the U.S. hesitant to act abroad in support of its national interests and international commitments, just as memories of the Great War’s carnage had had a “paralyzing effect on British generals in the decades before World War II. (pg 151)
The election of Jimmy Carter as President in 1976 put into the White House this new vision of America’s place in the world as less reliant on military power and clandestine activities in order to protect the national interest. And more committed to open diplomacy, negotiating, and a moralizing posture in international affairs. . . Carter believed in the power of principled example to affect the behavior of other nations, even those bent on our destruction and utterly contemptuous of our political principles. Thus defending and promoting human rights, acting abroad in accord with the principles of the U. S. Constitution, and disarmament became the foundations of his foreign policy, all predicated on an acceptance of American limitations and guilt seemingly validated by the fiasco of Vietnam and the depredations of the CIA, both at home and abroad. (pg 154)
These were the ideas Carter laid out in his inaugural address, where he acknowledged the nation’s “recent mistakes,” counseled Americans not to “dwell on remembered glory,” and reminded his fellow citizens that “even our great nation has it recognized limits” and can only “simply do its best.” . . . a few years later in the infamous “crisis of confidence” or “malaise” speech—Carter stressed that “our commitment to human rights must be absolute,” promised that “we will not behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards here at home,” and pledged “perseverance and wisdom in our efforts to limit the world’s armaments to those necessary for each nation’s own domestic safety.” . . . Left unexplained was how these lofty goals and the acceptance of America’s limits could be squared with international disarmament or advancing human rights, ideals that required some level of interference in the business of other nations; or with keeping America safe in a world were a nuclear-armed aggressive enemy pursued its aims with none of America’s inhibitions and with complete indifference to the persuasive power of what we saw as our superior “moral principles.” (pgs 154-155)
Regimes now were to be supported not because they served American interests in countering Soviet aggression, but rather on the basis of their “progressive” posture and anti-colonialist, liberationist rhetoric. The international face of this policy was Carter’s United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, “whose frequent ideological sorties on behalf of radical Third World regimes were sometimes indistinguishable form the pronouncements of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.”. . . More dangerously, he (Carter) pursued arms control treaties with the Soviet Union at the same time he ordered unilateral cutbacks in American weapons development in hopes the Soviets would reciprocate. . . Carter’s delays and cancellations of weapons such as the B1 bomber were met with a Soviet military buildup rather than reciprocal reductions. (pg 156)
Finally, Carter’s focus on human rights created the perception that the United States had abandoned the policy of containment regarding the Soviet Union, and so smaller countries faced with communist aggression could no longer depend on American support unless they conformed to American moral standards no matter how dangerous or inappropriate those might be for any particular country’s security—or for America’s own security and interests. (pg 157)
Thus the Shah was presented as another such oppressor, whose depredations had awakened a justified attempt at liberation and nationalist self-determination, a bit of leftist received wisdom that Teddy Kennedy exploited in his brief run against Carter in 1980 presidential primaries. “The shah ran one of the most violent regimes in the history of mankind,” the historically challenged Senator said at a press conference, decrying the “umpteen billion dollars stolen from Iran” and calling for an “open debate” to examine America’s support of the Shah’s regime. (pg 160)
. . . Carter’s advisers continued to underestimate the impact of religious fervor on events. . . Evident in this assessment are the priority given to material, secular interests, such as running a government and delivering material boons and personal freedom to the people, and the naïve belief that because the Islamists were “religious,” they shared the same moral values as the West and the same view of “social justice, “and that this would provide the foundation for mutually beneficial dialogue. . .” (pg 162)
. . . Khomeini heaped scorn on Western notions of freedom, a “freedom that will corrupt our youth, freedom that will pave the way to the oppressor, freedom that will drag our nation to the bottom. This is the freedom you [secular intellectuals] want; and this is a dictate for abroad that you have imposed. You do not believe in any limits to freedom. You deem license to be freedom.” . . . Khomeini particularly condemned the trappings of this corrupt freedom introduced by the Shah’s liberalizing programs: mixed-sex education and recreation, bars, discos, television, movies, popular music, Western fashion, divorce for women, secular law and government—all were symptoms of “Westoxification.” (pg 165)
Even more troubling than the U. S. dismissal of the religious origins of the revolution was the failure to understand the role of violent jihad in Kohmeini’s program to battle the forces of Western idolatry and materialism and restore the global greatness of Islam. In 1942, Khomeini had written, “Those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. All the countries conquered by Islam or to be conquered in the future will be marked for everlasting salvation.” Khomeini explicitly identifies this process as a violent one: “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam councils against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you! . . . Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to paradise, which can be opened only for holy warriors!” After he took power, Khomeini reiterated his jihadist program: “The great prophet of Islam carried in one hand the Koran and in the other a sword; the sword for crushing the traitors and the Koran for guidance. . . . Islam is a religion of blood for the infidels but a religion of guidance for other people.” The goal of this jihad, moreover, was the global triumph of Islam: “We shall export our revolution,” Khomeini promised, “to the whole world. Until the cry ‘There is no God but God’ resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle.” (pg 166)
Carter’s belief that rational negotiations and compromise could establish peaceful relations with the infant Islamic Republic was as delusional as Chamberlain’s notion that Hitler’s grand aims for the German empire based on racial purity would be satisfied by the negotiated sacrifice of Czechoslovakia. (pg 167)
Comes Clinton
. . . under President Clinton, restrictions on the CIA were tightened. . . . Equally harmful to our ability to uncover terrorist plots was Attorney General Janet Reno’s 1995 interpretation of the FISA Act, which led to regulations creating an artificial divide between national security and criminal investigations out of the fear that criminal prosecutions would be contaminated by the illegal use of intelligence gathered by the CIA. This interpretation created difficulties for those investigating terrorist who have committed crimes and thus are of interest both to national security agencies and criminal prosecutors. (pgs 176-177)
Moreover, bin Laden perceived that since the abandonment of Vietnam, the United States was spiritually impoverished and hence vulnerable to terrorist intimidation. “The Americans did not get out of Vietnam,” bin Laden preached, “until after they suffered great losses. Over sixty thousand [sic] American soldiers were killed until there were demonstrations by the American people. The Americans won’t stop their support of Jews in Palestine until be give them a lot of blows. They won’t stop until we do jihad against them.” . . . Whenever soldiers start coming home in body bags,” Wright summarizes bin Laden’s theme, “Americans panic and retreat. Such a country needs only to be confronted with two or three sharp blows, then it will flee in panic, as it always has. For all its wealth and resources, America lacks conviction. It cannot stand against warriors of faith who do not fear death.” In bin Laden’s view, American fear, bred of spiritual poverty, would in turn produce American appeasement. (pgs 184-185)
The Bush Doctrine
After the destruction of the World Trade Center towers and the murder of 2,973 Americans on 9/11, the United States under President George Bush seemingly had cast off the appeasing delusions of the previous 30 years. The President’s address to Congress on September 20 was a vigorous repudiation of the appeasing policies that had allowed al Qaeda and bin Laden to confirm their estimation of American weakness and fear: “Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” The President also put on notice the nations, most obviously Afghanistan, that had harbored the terrorists: “And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” In this same speech, Bush put the ultimatum to the Taliban that Clinton should have after the Cole bombing. And when the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden, in October the war began. By December, the Taliban and al Qaeda were routed, through not definitively destroyed. (pgs 198-199)
. . . attacks on the efforts to end the 20-year-long failures and dysfunction that led to 9/11 were nothing compared to the firestorm of criticism that met President Bush’s war against Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. The wisdom of heeding Demosthenes’s advice to the Athenians not to wait for blows like a bad boxer but to anticipate and preempt them became all too clear in the aftermath of 9/11 and the failure of those entrusted with our safety to connect the dots” and take action against the terrorists. In the case of Iraq, there were many “dots” to connect: Hussein’s past record of aggression against his neighbors and brutal oppression of his own people, as many as 300,000 of whom were executed and buried in mass graves; his violation of 16 U. N. resolutions and the terms of the ceasefire ending the first Gulf War; his continuing evasion of his responsibility to reveal his weapons of mass destruction programs, culminating in the ejection of U. N. weapons inspectors form Iraq in 1998; his past record of using chemical weapons against the Iranians and Kurds; the public relations nightmare of the U. N. sanctions, which even bin Laden mentioned as evidence of American hostility to Muslims, claiming “one million innocent children have been killed”; the corruption of the U. N. food-for-oil program, which provided billions for Hussein to finance the reconstitution of his weapons programs; the weakening resolve of U. N. Security Council members France and Russia for maintaining the sanctions; the cost and dangers to U. S Air Force personnel of enforcing the northern and southern “no fly” zones created to protect the Kurds and Shiites, Hussein’s political enemies and victims; and Hussein’s record of giving aid and succor to numerous terrorists, including the vicious Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal and future bin Laden Lieutenant abu Musab al-Zarquwi. (pg 201)
For all these reasons, removing Hussein had been official U. S. foreign policy since 1998, when Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Law, which stated “that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.” (pgs 201-202)
However, to a left mired in its ancient narratives of American global oppression, the war was like Vietnam, just another episode in a fascist power’s imperialist adventurism in the service of capitalist profits and exploitation of Third World resources. Even before the war started, the left had added the coming conflict in Iraq to its roster of anti-globalization and anti-Israel protest. In October 2002, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators had appeared at rallies across the country. At them, David Horowitz writes, “Spokesmen denounced America as a ‘rogue state’ and a ‘terrorist state,’ likened the president to Adolf Hitler, equated the CIA with al Qaeda, described America’s purpose as ‘blood for oil’ and called for “revolution.’” . . . The rallies and protests displayed the reflexive anti-Americanism of the international left, with its Marxist clichés about “imperialism” and “colonialism” and the evils of capitalism. Worse yet were the expressions of support for the enemy and disregard for the lives of the protesters’ fellow citizens who would soon be fighting in Iraq. At a teach-in at Columbia University in March, an anthropology professor hoped for America’s defeat and “a million Mogadishus,” evoking the 1993 killing of 18 American Servicemen in Somalia. Bin Laden could not have said it better. (pg 203)
The Democrats Politicize the War
. . . in June of 2003 Dean announced his candidacy for the nomination with another repudiation of the Iraq War: “But there is a fundamental difference between the defense of our nation and the doctrine of preemptive war espoused by this administration. The President’s group of narrow-minded ideological advisors are undermining our nations greatness in the world. They have embraced a form of unilateralism that is even more dangerous than isolationism. . . . Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, both of whom had voted for the war and soon were decrying the very conflict they had publicly supported. . . Democrats justified this politically convenient shift usually by indulging the magical thinking that “diplomacy,” no matter how often it had failed in the past, could have definitively neutralized the threat from Hussein: “I’m saddened,” senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle had said days before the war began, “saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we’re now forced to war.” The Democratic candidates, in the words of the New York Times, now “offered a near-unified assault . . . on President Bush’s credibility in his handling of the Iraq war.” Alleging “unsubstantiated evidence” in the President’s argument for going to war, lamenting the casualties in Iraq, and predictably complaining about his “failure to enlist the help of the United Nations in conducting the war,” even though Bush had spent several months attempting to get the U. N. to lend a hand in restoring its own tarnished credibility as a force for global order. (pg 204)
This was the beginning, Horowitz writes, of “a Democratic offensive against the war’s commander in chief, which would be pursued relentlessly and without letup for the next year, becoming the focus of the presidential campaign.” The media colluded in this assault, emphasizing casualties, civilian dead, military mistakes, and all the other unfortunately typical by products of modern warfare. When the war started, CNN reporter Pet Arnett let the media bias cat out of the bag when he was caught telling Iraqi television that “our reports of civilian casualties here are going back to the United States. It helps those who oppose the war.” Perhaps the most conspicuous example of the Democrats’ relapse into the pre-9/11 posture of American self-loathing and retreat was the enthusiastic presence of Democratic leaders such as Al Gore, Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, and Tom Daschle at the premier of Michael Moore’s anti-American cinematic libel Fahrenheit 9-11 in June 2004. Moore’s myopic, far-left ideology is obvious in a comment he made that same month about the terrorists who were murdering Americans and their fellow Iraqis: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.” Such rooting for the enemy killing American soldiers did not hinder former President Jimmy Carter, who along with former Vice-President Al Gore was leading the partisan attack on Bush, from inviting Moore to sit next to him at the Democratic National convention in 2004. Factional political interest abetted by the liberal media thus facilitated a return to the Vietnam-era Democratic Party’s aversion to military force and hostility to its own country, along with its naïve faith, evidenced by Democrats’ complaints about Bush’s “unilateralism” and “failed diplomacy,” in the same diplomatic agreements and transnational organizations that had failed to contain Saddam Hussein for 12 years, let alone keep American safe from terrorists. (pg 205)
Senator Barack Obama called the surge “a mistake” and a “reckless escalation,” and introduced legislation to remove all U. S. combat forces from Iraq by March 31, 2008. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Bush calling the surge “a serious mistake,” while Democrats in both houses introduced non-binding resolutions rejecting the surge. Worst of all was Senator Reid’s announcements in April 2007 that “this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything.” A few months later Joseph Biden concurred: “We need to stop the surge and start to get our troops out.” (pg 208)
Obama Nation
In short, Obama’s foreign policy represented a return to the Carter philosophy that had helped put in power as Islamist regime in Iran and ignited the Soviet global expansion in Afghanistan, Latin America, and central Africa. As Arthur Herman wrote in January 2009, Obama came into office “trailing clouds of Carterite rhetoric and Carteresque ideas about the inutility of military force, the sovereign worth of ‘aggressive diplomacy’ (an incoherent and meaningless phrase), and the need to accommodate ourselves to a world in which we are no longer even an economic superpower, let alone an example to mankind. . . In September 2009, Obama said . . . “In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group or people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.” Obama is unclear, however, about what to do when a people or nation does elevate itself over others and tries to dominate them through force. . . Obama has indeed attempted to engage repressive regimes that do not share our “interests” and do not “respect” us. He has shaken hands with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, backed Chavez’s disciple in Honduras against that country’s legal removal of him from power, hounded Israel over the construction of apartment buildings in East Jerusalem in order to curry favor with the Palestinians, canceled the missile defense agreement with Poland and Czech republic as part of his attempt to push the “reset button” with Russia, made several overtures to Cuba, and sent diplomatic officials on six trips to Syria, a country that hosts, supports, and arms terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, assassinated Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, and facilitates the transit of insurgents into Iraq—during one period, over 90% of jihadists traveling to Iraq, according to the U. S. military. Syrian autocrat Bashar al Assad has reciprocated Obama’s outreach by hosting a confab in February 2010 with Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrllah and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And, of course, Obama has, as he himself put it, “bent over backwards” in his attempts to reach out to Iran. (pg 216 -217)
Obama’s “renewal of diplomacy” has been another much touted and praised dimension of his presidency so far, meeting with approval from our European allies and a Nobel Peace Prize bestowed not for the President’s deeds but for his rhetoric. Europeans and American liberals are pleased with this shift from Bush’s alleged unilateral arrogance back to Jimmy Carter’s multilateral humility, just as Obama had pledged to do when he accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination: “But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease.” In Obama’s inaugural address, this outreach was specifically directed at Muslim nations, many of which provided the foot soldiers of jihad: “to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” and he pledged that “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Obama has delivered on this promise, predicating his outreach, as did Jimmy Carter, on the recognition of our own “culpabilities and shortcomings” (pg 220)
Sometime in May 2009, Obama sent a personal letter to Khamenei calling for “co-operation in regional and bilateral relations,” a missive no more successful than Jimmy Carter’s letter to Khomeini during the hostage crisis. In response, the regime initiated a brutal crackdown on the protests against the rigged June 12 presidential election, protests Khamenei attributed to American “agents” and their provocations. Not even Obama’s delay in speaking out against the attacks on protesters mollified the ayatollah. Indeed, during the height of the mullahs’ crack down on the protesters, the State Department welcomed Iranian diplomats to Fourth of July celebration in honor of the freedoms the Iranians were denying to their people. (pg 224)
Given the solicitous timidity of Obama’s appeasing responses to Iran’s serial hostile behavior—arming and training the killers of American troops, pursuing weapons of mass destruction, nurturing terrorist organizations, threatening to destroy our ally Israel, and imprisoning three U. S. citizens on the pretext they are “spies”—it is no wonder that the two deadlines (in September and December 2009) Obama set for Iran to come clean on its nuclear program, and the accompanying empty threats that have attended these deadlines, have been contemptuously ignored. (pg 224)
The Power of Terrorism
. . . as bin Laden puts it, “two separate camps—one of faith, where there is no hypocrisy, and one of infidelity. . . The infidels are full a of doubt, fear, and self-loathing, and so are unwilling not just to die and kill for their beliefs, but even to discomfort the enemy or endure the mendacious , self-interested calumny of other nations. In this fight, the material and economic superiority of the infidel is great, but the spiritual power of the believer is greater: “Do not let your strength and modern arms fool you,” bin Laden has warned Americans, “For they but win a few battles yet lose the war. Patience and steadfastness are greater, and the end result is the most important thing.” Whether this Islamist estimation of America is accurate or a fatal misjudgment—as it briefly appeared to be in the aftermath of 9/11—will become clear in the coming years. (pg 227)
Modern terror attacks derive their power precisely from being unexpected and seemingly random, occurring not during war but in peace—in the case of 9/11, literally coming out of the clear blue sky. Such attacks intrude into our daily lives and the spaces in which we travel and work, puncturing the cocoon of security from violence that we think our wealth and technology and progress have provided. Hence terrorist violence creates a chronic anxiety that, unlike attacks during war, has no imaginable end brought by the victory or surrender that ends conventional wars, and so is even more demoralizing and conducive to appeasing policies. (pg 232)
. . . violence or the threat of violence has been frequently directed against those in the West who “insult” Allah, Islam, or the Prophet . . . The 2004 brutal murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on the streets of Amsterdam by a second-generation Moroccan immigrant angered over the film Submission, which criticizes Islam’s subordination of women; the riots, death threats, and at least 139 dead following a Danish newspaper’s publication in 2005 of innocuous cartoons that used depictions of Mohammed not to insult Islam but to defend free speech. The violence that followed Pope Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg address, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor criticizing Mohammed for theologizing violence, an estimation confirmed by the subsequent riots, vandalizing of Christian churches, murder of a nun in Somalia, and kidnapping and beheading of a priest in Iraq—these are the more famous recent instances of Muslim violence striking directly at the heart of Western freedom. (pg 234)
In America, Yale University Press in 2009 decided not to reprint the cartoons and other images of Mohammed in a book about the controversy, citing “an appreciable chance of violence occurring if either the cartoons or other depictions of the Prophet Muhammad were printed . . . a few months later the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art pulled from public view its artworks depicting Mohammed. After the Pope’s Regensburg speech, the New York Times opined, “It is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain,” and advised the Pope “to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating the words can also heal.” Whether what the Pope quoted was true or no not didn’t matter to the Times. Rather than defend a central right of Western political freedom against those who would use force to limit it, many in the West instead capitulate to Muslim violence, masking their fear with the therapeutic “sensitivity” and “respect” seldom granted to any other faith. (pg 236)
Supping with the Jihadist Devils
This jihadist indictment of America . . . has helped to forge what David Horowitz calls the “unholy alliance,” despite the homophobia, misogyny, intolerance, and religious obscurantism that should make the jihadists the mortal enemies of liberal and leftists. This alliance, first created inteh1960s by the left’s tactical embrace of the terrorist PLO, quickly manifested itself in the aftermath of 9/11, when leftist commentators engaged in irrational, unfounded, ignorant, irrelevant, and at times bizarre criticism of the United States that in effect rationalize and confirmed al Qaeda’s own justifications for murder. The dean of the prestigious Woodrow Wilson School advised us to “think about our own history, what we did in World War II to Japanese citizens by interning them”. . . A journalist at the University of North Carolina teach-in wanted the President to apologize to “all the millions of victims of American imperialism” . . . Another professor . . . opined that the “ultimate cause [of 9/11] is the fascism of U.S. foreign policy over the past many decades”. . . The premier practitioner of this species of fantastic complaint is MIT professor Noam Chomsky, who when the war in Afghanistan started accused the U.S. of intentionally starving three to four million Afghans in a “silent genocide”; like Hamas, interpreted the 9/11 attacks as justified payback for American “depredations” against the Third World and American Indians; and while on tour in Islamabad, echoed the Islamist charge that the U.S. is the “world’s biggest terrorist state” and the war in Afghanistan the “worse kind of terrorism.” (pgs 249-250)
Statements such as these reflect the post-Vietnam narrative of American evil and culpability, a self-loathing brew of historical ignorance, juvenile utopianism, specious moral equivalence, and reflexive anti-American condemnation that for over three decades has constituted the received wisdom of liberal intellectuals in the universities and the media. As such, it has been a powerful political and cultural force for appeasement by eroding our will to fight and by undermining our confidence that the fight is just and so worth the cost in blood and treasure. And it confirmed the jihadists’ estimation that we are weak and corrupt, our civilization resting on “foundations of straw.” As bin Laden said . . . “every Westerner is presumed guilty until proven innocent,” as French social critic Pascal Bruckner puts it. As a result, Bruckner continues, “We Europeans have been raised to detest ourselves, certain that within our world, there is a certain essential evil that must be relentlessly atoned for. This evil is known by two terms—colonialism and imperialism.” (pg 251)
If bin Laden and the Islamists have “hijacked” and “distorted” Islam, where is the mainstream Muslim protest against such a desecration of their faith? “Nowhere in [the Islamic world],” Robert Spencer writes, “is there a significant anti-jihad, anti-al Qaeda, or anti-bin Laden movement; while Muslims worldwide rioted over cartoons in a Danish newspaper and remarks by Pope Benedict XVI, they have never rioted over Osama bin Laden’s supposed hijacking of their faith.” (pg 260)
Sniggering at Patriotism
. . . American appeasement reflects the decline of Patriotism, the loyalty to and affection for one’s country and its beliefs, and the willingness to fight, kill, and die to protect the homeland that has made us what we are. Yet for many American who no longer believe in their country’s goodness, such “patriotic pride is morally dangerous,” as philosopher Martha Nussbaum claims, for we should give allegiance to “the moral community made up of all human beings.” Believing in this non-existent “world community,” such people are quick to attribute all the world’s ills to the freest and most benign global power in all of history. Thus, ever since the Vietnam War we have witnessed American Citizens who benefit from the freedom and prosperity of their homeland actively supporting and encouraging an enemy who is killing their fellow citizens, an enemy who despises all the freedoms and human rights America’s critic enjoy and claim to cherish. Such corrosive attitudes are dangerous . . . Indeed, this disdain of patriotism which Orwell in the 1940s thought was limited to many English intellectuals, has become received wisdom in the United States and is considered a sign of cosmopolitan sophistication even by many outside the intellectual class. (pgs 266-267)
Volunteer Dhimmi
All these appeasing behaviors—born of fear, self-flagellating guilt over presumed historical crimes, multicultural fantasies about non-Western “other,” deprecation of religion and spiritual motives, disdain for America, and delusional ideals about some international “harmony of interests” and the transnational institutions that through diplomatic negotiation can resolve disputes better than force—such behaviors conform to the traditional Islamic notion of the dhimmi, the “subjugated, non-Muslim individuals or people that accept there restrictive and humiliating subordination to the ascendant Islamic power to avoid enslavement or death,”. . . [These submissions], to many traditional Muslims, are signs of fear born of spiritual weakness and a lack of confidence in our beliefs as something worth killing and dying for. Rather than signs of our superiority, they are instead interpreted as acknowledgments of Islam’s; superiority. . . (pg 269)
The appeasement of jihad, then, ultimately reflects failure of imagination akin to that of many English writers and leaders in the 1930s, who could not imagine a leader possessing the murderous fanaticism of an Adolf Hitler. This strange sort of ethnocentrism assumes that the whole world believes as we do and desires the same goods and ends. (pg 269)
“So whoever has realized,” bin Laden told Al Jazeera, “that the rewards of this world are few and that the next world is better and more permanent, he is the one who responds to the commands of God almighty” to wage jihad, thereby “showing that this life, this world, is an illusory pleasure.” (pg 269)
In short, as bin Laden and other Islamists continually remind us, because they have this conviction, they love death more than we love life, echoing the words of Khalid ibn al-Walid in 636 [AD] before the battle of Qadisiyya against the Persians: “I have come to you with an army of men that love death, as you love life.” For men such as these, negotiation, compromise, tolerance, protestations of respect, promises of democratic freedom, and materialist bribes will have little effect. Only a demonstrated, relentless willingness to take them at their word and give them what they love will end their aggression. (pg 270)
The Hamlet of Nations (Conclusion)
We cannot allow ourselves to become the Hamlet of Nations, worrying endlessly over whether and how to respond. A great nation with global responsibilities cannot afford tobe hamstrung by confusion and indecisiveness. George P. Shultz (pg 271)
For all their strengths, democracies are plagued by the pressure of factional or other self-interests on the political decisions made in response to a threat. . . by allowing broad participation in government, gives greater scope to the people’s shortsighted passions and interests at the expense of long-term calculation, and allows impatience with sacrifice and suffering to affect policy. . . The people are more apt to feel than to reason; and if their present sufferings are great, it is to be feared that the still greater sufferings attendant upon defeat will be forgotten.” (pgs 271-272)
More broadly, this failure of imagination lies behind an ideal peculiar to modernity, the “moralizing internationalism” predicted on an imagined “harmony of interests,” such that, as John Stuart Mill wrote, “The good of no country can be obtained by any means but such as tend to that of all countries, nor ought to be sought otherwise, even if obtainable.” This view is based on the assumption that all men are for the most part rational and that global civilization is progressing away from violence and irrational aims toward the goods Westerners prize and desire. . . These assumptions lay behind the creation for first the League of Nations and then the United Nations, still the premier global exemplar of these views, despite its serial failures over the last 60 years. And it still informs much of our own foreign policy, which assumes that all peoples are “just like us”, and so they desire the political freedom and material prosperity we prize, and prefer peace to war, deliberation to violence, material goods to spiritual, and getting along with other states to dominating them. (pgs 274-275)
The United nations has become what Churchill feared, a “cockpit in the Tower of Babel,” in which those states without the courage of their convictions substitute talk for action and those pursuing their own malignant aims, like the jihadist regime in Iran and its supporters, find the procedural camouflage and global respectability that further their designs. (pg 276)
These weaknesses of democracy, however, are an acceptable trade-off for the many benefits of democratic government. For all its risks of selfish or shortsighted policies, the political freedom that extends participation in government to all the citizens makes the state their “common thing,” as the Greeks put it, their own possession, hence giving them a powerful interest in the state’s flourishing and survival. Moreover, from the plains of Marathon and the waters of Salamis, to the beaches of Normandy and the alleys of Falllujah, this sense of ownership in turn has made the citizen-soldiers of democracies lethal fighters once they have been roused to “a sudden effort of remarkable vigor.” This vital strength of democracy, however, is in turn dependent upon the continuing commitment of the people to the way of life, political ideas, and shared beliefs that bind them into a nation. (pg 276)
Perhaps Pericles, leader of the world’s first democracy, put it best in his funeral oration: Any one can discourse to you forever about the advantages of a brave defense, which you know already. But instead of listening to him I would have you day by day fix your eyes up the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it, who in the hour of conflict had the fear of dishonor always present to them, and who, if ever they failed in an enterprise, would not all their virtues to be lost to their country, but freely gave their live to her as the fairest offering which they could present at her feast. (pg 277)
. . . when that passionate attachment to the state as the citizens’ own possession and expression of their identity is eroded, when the political virtues expressing that attachment—courage, self-sacrifice, duty—are weakened, when the sate is viewed as a mere dispenser of entitlements and the umpire of conflicting centrifugal interests, democracies are vulnerable to the temptations of appeasement and its sacrifice of long-term security for short-term comfort. (pg 277)
Only the West Can Save the World
In 1947, T. S. Eliot recognized the dangers of modernity’s mistaken assumption about religion’s irrelevance: “The Liberal still thinks in terms of political differences which can be settled by negotiation, and of religious differences which have ceased to matter; he assumes further that the cultural conflict is one which can, like political conflict, be adjusted by compromise, or, like religious conflict, be resolved by tolerance. But the culture conflict is a religious conflict on its deepest level: it is one whole pattern of life against another.” (pg 280)
George Weigel writes, “A West that sees in its past nothing but pathology—racism, colonialism, religious wars and persecutions, sexism, and all the rest—is a West that cannot, and almost certainly will not defend its present.” For the United States, the stakes of failure are high not just for us but for the whole world. Like it of not, intended or not, America has assumed the mantle of keeper of global order once possessed by the British [Roman] empire. If prosperity, freedom, and peace are to have a chance of becoming a possibility for the rest of the world rather than remaining the increasingly beleaguered privilege of the West, then the world needs what Niall Ferguson calls a “liberal empire,” for there are “parts of the world were legal and political institutions are in a condition of such collapse or corruption that their inhabitants are effectively cut off from any hope of prosperity. And there are states that, though weakness or malice, encourage terrorists organizations committed to wrecking a liberal world order.” (pg 281)
The United States is the only country that can perform the task of maintaining global order, if only because it is the only state with the military power and reach to do so. But it won’t if America’s traditional fear of “entangling alliances” and what Ferguson calls “imperial denial” are worsened by a collapse in the confidents that the U.S. is indeed worthy of that role and is better than any alternative. (pg 281)
Both the Roman and British empires declined for many reasons, but one they both share is the loss of pride and faith in what it meant to be a Roman or a Briton, and the breakdown in the passionate belief in their own unique national excellence, inspiring them with the confidence that they deserved their empires and justifying the sacrifices of blood and treasure necessary to defend them. (pg 282)


Dan said...

First, to get it out of the way, I haven't read the book, just your synopsis. So all my comments are based upon this presentation.

There are many great examples of the danger of appeasement given here. Some wonderful history, etc.. I'm afraid there is also some incredibly partisanship, and one-sidedness that detracts from the work to a point that I question this authors motives all together.

To start off, I think Achilles is a horrible example of what people should strive for. While Achilles has many traits that may have been virtues back when The Illiad was conceived, I've rarely read a bigger tragedy than Achilles defeating Hector, a man who seems to actually be worth admiring. That is a bit of a tangent, but I've never liked Achilles, he seems like the guy teenage boys should think is cool because he's strong and good looking and popular, but has no real good qualities.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. The stuff about WWII and Vietnam was pretty much spot on. I would like to point out one more level of appeasement. When the allies appeased France but refusing to uphold promises made to Vietnam i.e. independence after WWII, that led directly to the Vietnam conflict.

Dan said...

Had to break this up into multiple posts.

The stuff about Carter was mostly great, however, I have a problem with the author trying to make this sound bad. "Thus defending and promoting human rights, acting abroad in accord with the principles of the U. S. Constitution, and disarmament became the foundations of his foreign policy." I don't see any problem with that as a foreign policy beginning. The problem wasn't that this is were foreign policy started, or that it was the basis, but that there was no second level.

Secondly, with Carter, the idea that we hold countries to higher standards of human rights was made out to be a failing, I disagree wholeheartedly. The fact that Khomeni was worse than the Shah doesn't mean that we needed to blindly support the Shah. Demanding that those countries that get our backing and support live up to a higher standard i.e. freedoms and human rights is not a failing.

Neither of those points defends Carter, I am more specifically pointing to a seeming trend by the author to be hyper partisan trying to make every facet of any democrat bad, and equate it with appeasers.

Where this author seems to go off the rails on partisanship, however, is when it comes to the sections on Obama. Listing quickly some of the ones I had problems with: hounding Israel over Apt construction, six diplomatic envoys to Syria, overtures to Cuba, bending over backward with Iran.

First off, Israel is almost never held to account by the U.S. as an entity, and they should be. To ignore wrongdoing by Israel because Hezbollah, or Hamas does worse is the laziest kind of foreign policy.

Second, unless this authors position is we should have attacked Syria by now, how can sending diplomatic envoys be seen as wrong. Especially to compare it to appeasement in WWII and Vietnam. Ridiculous.

Reaching out to Cuba. For the love of everything holy I wish someone would. Cuba is the most childish foreign policy stance we could possibly have. The first party to ignore the electoral votes of Florida and do away with the ridiculous, useless, waste of time, money, and human life that is the embargo will be heroic in my opinion.

Iran is the same as Syria, unless the author believes we should be at war, or should have conducted military strikes by now, that leaves diplomacy. And to equate the U.S. policy with Iran currently to appeasement in WWII or Vietnam is an insult to history. And as far as pointing out that the White House had the Iranian delegation over during the crackdown, what better time to do it, to try to assert some pressure, to try to have some talks. Again, unless you plan to send in troops or bomb the place, talks are what you have left.

These four points specifically are so blatantly partisan, in an attempt to attack and discredit the current administration as to call into question the authors entire premise.

I'll say the same thing about Obama that I did about W. He has done enough things that are real, and actual mistakes to complain or point to, that trying to make up ones that don't exist or vilify him for things that aren't actually wrong demeans the whole position.

Dan said...

There was, however, one final thing I wanted to take exception with in this authors position. And that was about Islam itself.

In talking about the violence of Islam and specifically about the violence surrounding the publishing of comics depicting Mohammed he says,

"innocuous cartoons that used depictions of Mohammed not to insult Islam but to defend free speech."

This is crap. Of course there is, at least in the U.S., a right to publish such things, and many publications have taken the liberty. But to pretend that it is some championing of freedom that causes the publishing, or to try to make another publishers choice to not publish it somehow wrong is absurd. I don't hold the depiction of Mohammed sacred, neither do you, but many, many people in the world do. Just because something can be done (the flaunting of something others hold sacred), doesn't mean it should be done, or that it is right to do so.

And it would have made me proud had more editors said, no I won't print it, not because of the threat of violence, but because it wasn't right to do so.

But, perhaps most troubling, is the assertion made that main stream Muslims aren't, in fact, opposed to the Jihadist, fundamentalist faction of the religion. The author questions were are the massive protests, where are the Muslims decrying this hijacking of their faith.

For the author to claim that the moderate portion of the Islamic community has been silent on this issue, he is either purposefully blinded himself to the truth, or he is lying to promote an agenda, either is despicable.

Lysis said...


First, thank you for reading and commenting, it is a great encouragement to my efforts, and I appreciate it.

I would like to address your critiques in turn.

1. First, on Achilles. The comment: “It is my belief that Western greatness goes back to Achilles, and to every Western man’s desire to be Achilles. Achilles chose a life of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom, he choose to voyage home to his grandchildren, yet unborn. But when Justice demanded it, he stayed and died fighting for the truly good.” is not Thornton’s but my own.

Thornton actually champions Hector’s willingness to fight Achilles rather than to attempt appeasement. Claiming: “Hector’s decision to await Achilles, his refusal to give in to the temptation of appeasement, and his last valiant charge at Achilles even as he know he is doomed are all fueled by honor and its corollary, shame at dishonor.”

I too honor Hector, as did Homer, as did, in the end, Achilles; but you are incorrect in your tirade against the son of Thetis. First, understand that for all his goodness Hector was a murderer. He had committed the ultimate battlefield sin, he had killed a defenseless foe that had surrendered to him and was begging for his life, and not just for mercy for himself. Patroclus actually reminded Hector that he would destroy himself if he committed this injustice; in anger, Hector did it anyway. Achilles had already determined to go home, to leave the unjust Agamemnon to his own devices before the walls of Troy. However, even as our heroes today cannot over look atrocities and “war crimes” no matter who commits them, Achilles could not abandon Justice for his own personal comfort.

I wonder, Dan, if you have ever actually read the Iliad? In The Wages of Appeasement, Thornton often references to, “the received wisdom of liberal intellectuals in the universities and the media.” The Achilles you describe as, “someone teenage boys should think is cool because he’s strong and good looking and popular, but has no real good qualities.” is the one taught in High School literature classes by English teachers who have never read the book, to students who have no intention of ever reading it. These teachers in turn are regurgitating the lectures they were fed in college by professors who had never read the book themselves, but were reciting the received wisdom of their instructors. If you read the Iliad you will find Achilles a hero who leaves his home, reluctantly, to do his duty to his country and fulfill the oaths of his father, the king of Phthia. Who does his duty on the battle field and serves his comrades; he defends their lives again and again. Achilles follows the law, he obeys Athena, even when it is not in his interest, and he stands up to the Agamemnon when that tyrants’ injustice ends the legitimacy of his government. Given the choice between wealth, power, and eternal fame or an obscure life as husband, father, and grandfather, Achilles chooses to go home to his children. Then, when he sacrifices everything he truly wants in his righteous wrath and brings justice to Hector, Achilles is able to set aside his own anger, and return the body of the Trojan hero to his father. It is Achilles generosity of sprit that redeems Hector from damnation.

Sine the Iliad is a tragedy, perhaps even a history; it can have heroes on both sides of the conflict.

I cannot go into detail on all these point right now, but ask you to look into the truth by actually reading Homer, and see why Achilles, not Hector, is the archetype of a true hero, the type of heroes we will need to save our peace, freedom, and prosperity from those who would unjustly destroy them. The ancients understood this – they had been spared the “received wisdom” of indoctrinated literature teachers and agenda driven movie producers.

Lysis said...

Supporting France in Vietanm was a mistake – but at the time, keeping a friend in a volatile, and perhaps communist leaning Europe, may have been advisable. The key thing to remember here is that Ho was not interested in freedom and justice for the people of Vietnam, and they got from Communism exactly what the U.S. fought to save them from, it was far worse than France, and that disaster was a result of appeasement.

As for Carter’s determination to hold countries to a higher standard, his error was that he compared the conditions of life, liberty, and prosperity in these struggling new countries against the level to which these things have been advanced in the U.S. and not against the monsters these governments had kept at bay. The monsters his short sightedness release on the peoples of Iran, Latin America, Africa, Afghanistan, and on and on. Chemotherapy is by all accounts terrible, but it beats the alternative.

Lysis said...

Concerning your four points: I would counter with these considerations.

As to Israel: I agree that the past wrongdoing of Israel is striking – Sharon’s march on the Temple Mount was a blatant attack on the negotiation of peace, and along with the assassination of Rabin, shows, if anything, that there are those who value religions tenants over reason and the peace, prosperity, and freedom it brings on both sides. However, there is wisdom in contrasting Israel’s consistent, measured, and legal responses to terrorist attacks with the violence continually generated by Palestinians, their consistent insistence that Israel be destroyed, and their alliance with world wide terror mongers in Iran and Syria, and such murdering tyrants like Saddam.

As for attacking Syria today: there are many ways to engineer the overthrow of terror state – if Obama is engaged in clandestine operations against Assad, I congratulate him. But turning a deaf ear, or our backs, on the struggles for freedom these people are engaged in, is reminiscent of Munich, Saigon, and Tiananmen Square and may well have even more terrible results.

As for reaching out to Cuba: your political spin is indeed “received wisdom.” Look how well reaching out to Venezuela has gone. The delusion that providing economic opportunity to dictators brings freedom and peace to the people of such monster states his belied by repressive regimes from Saddam’s Iraq to Mainland China.

As to the current policy toward Iran: What is it if not Munich like appeasement? Obama offers the open hand of friendship to the mullahs as they massacre their own citizens demonstration for freedom or engaged in the exercise of their basic human rights, supply al Qaeda and the Taliban, shoot down our drowns – and sell our technology to our enemies, kidnap and imprison our citizens, attack the embassies of our allies, finance world wide terror, deny the holocaust and call for the inhalation of a sovereign state in Israel, and poor the confiscated wealth of their citizens into the creation of nuclear weapons which have no other purpose than to intimidate the West and supply fanatics with “god like” power. This is indeed a reasonable parallel to Germany before WWII or the sinister aggressions of Communism in Vietnam and else where. To claim otherwise is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the ignorance and fear generated by decades of miss education and manipulation of truth.

Thornton’s position on these four points needs a more complete reading to fully comprehend. I ask you to remember that I was only following one thread; the American must fight if it is to preserve our way of life idea. The positions you fault in Thornton’s text are better dealt with by a complete reading.

Lysis said...

As to your final point on “Islam itself”: It is not crap to condemn the murder of innocent people, people who had nothing to do with printing pictures in far off countries, people who were for the most part Muslims. Freedom of the press and free speech are exactly the thing you are condemning. If people only published what others like to read, we may well be under the thumb of British monarchs to this day. A mountain of crap, which offends me, is publish, displayed on T.V., and spewed on the radio everyday. I would never be justified in killing those who offend me, nor in murdering weak and defenseless people who are most likely not even aware of my bruised beliefs. As I note above, the people murdered by these fanatics are for the most part not even the ones who offended. The slaughtered nun, and beheaded Iraqi priest, had no way of restraining the Pope’s comment, even had they felt the desire to do so. What kind of crazy logic condones their murder in the name of P.C. sensibilities?

If publishers refrain from publishing anti Islamic material out of respect, more power to them, but it seem far fetched to believe they are demonstrating such decorum when they insult Christians, Jews, Mormons, Catholics, and every other belief system as often as they can. Fear is their motivation, and this is exactly why we need Achilles to defend us.

As for your claim that “moderate Muslims” are not silent, give me a decent example otherwise. While I would be the first to claim that those who have born the heaviest cost from the evils of fanatic Islam are Muslims, I would be grateful to receive an example of Islamic religious leaders condemning the bin Ladens and Khomeinis. I find, instead, overwhelming silence. Without some collaborating evidence to your claim, it would seem to me that you are the one promoting the received wisdom of the agenda driven. I would never accuse you of lying.

Dan said...

This took me all of googling 'muslim leaders denounce terrorism'. So, I would assume all of this info was available to the author.

thats a cursory start.

Dan said...

I have, in fact, read the Illiad, you are correct though, it was in High School, the teacher was one Mr. Conner.

Dan said...

Let me just speak to a couple of your responses.

1. As to holding countries we support to high standards. Chemotherapy is not, I believe, an apt example. Harsh and brutal dictatorship is not the only way to prevent communism. To pretend that those are the only two options is a great way to win an argument, but it ignores reality. That is what this author does.

My point with pointing out that Ho came to the West for support first was not that he was a good man, but that it is wrong to claim history gave us two choices, war with vietnam and capitulation to communism. There was a third choice, and because we chose to appease, we were forced into the later choice.

2. Israel. Straw man. I didn't compare the two, and my point was exactly that. Wrong can be condemned on both sides, and to lay out a claim that Obama chastising Israel is proof he is an appeaser is flawed logic in the extreme. One can, and should, decry wrong on both sides, it doesn't matter if the wrong is uneven. Consistency conquers appeasement.

3. Syria. Again, this is exactly why I believe it points to partisan politics. We do not, nor should we, know what is being done in Syria on a clandestine level. We do know that diplomacy is ongoing, as it should be even if we were at war. To point to diplomatic missions to Syria as proof of appeasement is again flawed logic, and smells of the author having partisan aims.

4. There are several key differences between Cuba, Iraq, and China. The most telling are the shared culture and proximity to the United States. You can claim (in theory) that ending the embargo to Cuba wouldn't work. I can prove with 50 years of evidence that having an embargo doesn't work. And it causes provable, visible problems including bad immigration policy, horrendous conditions to the average citizen of Cuba, and skewed politics in the U.S. to pander to the Cuban vote in electoral heavy Florida. The embargo only hurts the poorest in Cuba, and gains us nothing.

5. Iran. The difference between Munich appeasement and Iran is first, Iran is not signatory to a treaty specifically stating they cannot do the things they are doing.

Yes, I think Iran is a brutal repressive regime, but I'm usually alone in believing that the U.S. should be willing to militarily intervene in such. Why should our diplomacy change with a country because their leader denies the holocaust? What should our reaction be...embargo? If our spy plane was in Iranian airspace, they were 100% justified in shooting it down. Am I glad it went down and may be in their hands, absolutely not, but to claim that a country is immoral if they protect their airspace from spyplanes is a bit far fetched. Its also not kidnapping if you are in their country.

Germany was appeased as they built up their military against treaty, annexed land against treaty, and invaded sovereign nations. To compare the two situations is ludicrous.

Dan said...

Finally, on Islam.

"It is not crap to condemn the murder of innocent people, people who had nothing to do with printing pictures in far off countries, people who were for the most part Muslims."

This is a fabulous straw man. However, I never said it was crap to condemn murder.

I said this statement was crap.

"innocuous cartoons that used depictions of Mohammed not to insult Islam but to defend free speech."

To claim its purpose is to defend free speech is the same as saying the artist whose art consisted of putting feces on pictures of Christ and the Virgin Mary was merely defending free speech. That is not true. The right to do it is covered by free speech, but that is not the same as the purpose being to defend it. Also, I think its crap to call the cartoon innocuous. Is the cartoon protected, absolutely, should it be protected, absolutely. Neither of those points means it should be done.

Your point seems to say that it is necessary to defame what others hold sacred in order for the press to do its job. I disagree. Is it necessary and good journalism for newspapers or magazines or news shows to do in depth pieces about the Church if Romney were the GOP nominee, or even just running? Sure, people have a right to that information. Is it necessary or good journalism for ABC to run 'Temple of the Godmakers' in primetime? No. Is it protected? Sure. In the U.S. we are allowed to profane that which others consider holy. But lets not pretend that we have to in order for there to be free speech or free press.

"What kind of crazy logic condones their murder in the name of P.C. sensibilities? "

I don't know. You'd have to ask someone who subscribes to that logic.

And, in case the first list of Muslims denouncing terrorism wasn't enough, if you still think there is silence. Here's a few more.

Dan said...

Appeasement is an incredible danger. And, we should be vigilant to decry it in our government. To be clear, I do not believe this administration is free of appeasement. I do not believe the last administration was free of appeasement. The genocide in the Sudan is proof of that for both. My problem is the way in which this author based on the quotes you used is trying to blanket appeasement over things that are not. And it seems that his reasoning for his faulty logic and conclusions is partisanship.

As I said before, there are enough real things to attack this administration about, to make up fake ones delegitimizes the whole position.

Lysis said...

Dear Dan,

Thank you for your studied response. I checked out your googling, and I accept that there are denunciations of violence from within the Muslim community. But . . .

Before I get to my view of the “statements” against terrorism you googled, I would like to deal with your accusation that Thornton is motivated by partisan politics. Partisanship is not necessarily a bad thing. The fact that one agrees with other people on some position does not make that a bad position. If Mr. Thornton is motivated to tell the truth about Obama by his partisanship – it doesn’t matter – as long as he is telling the truth. I advise you, if you wish to discredit his stance,to find something untrue in his presentation and demonstrate that.

Now to Kuizman’s “statements”: first, I’d like to note that he presents 64 denunciations of violence. Of these, 41 were issued in 2001, with 7 more issued in early 2002, all in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. There are two “denunciations” in 03and two in 04. There are nine in 05, relating to the London bombing, were four terrorists simultaneously attacked the subways, killing 52 and injuring 700. There is one denunciation from 07, one from 08, NONE from 09, and only two from 2010. One of the 2010 quotes is somewhat muddy in its position. It says, “[T]he killing of Muslims and the perpetration of terrorism are not only unlawful and forbidden in Islam but also represent the rejection of faith.” One is left to wonder why only Muslims are protected by the ban on murder,and if so what is the definition of terrorism?

I suggest that 64 calls for nonviolence from a community of over a billion are not overwhelming comforting. I further suggest that googling “Islamic calls for violence” might prove instructive.

Why we must google at all. Why aren’t, not just statements of position, but actual condemnations of violence shouted from the headlines of the world media? I remember huge mobs celebrating in the streets on 9/11. Where was the fatwa against bin Laden, or al Qaeda? Where were the celebrations by offended Islam when, as President Bush promised, justice was brought to bin Laden? In front of the White House.

All this is off my point. The point of my post was to consider the need for a West to be willing to defend itself from determined and fanatical enemies. Can you deny the millions that would celebrate and the multitudes that plot, pray, and pay for our destruction? These are the forces we should be preparing to deal with. We should be grateful for any support we receive from our allies in the Muslim world, but that does not deny the truth of the dangers we face, nor our need to find the will to face then by coming to value what we have as much as our enemies value taking it from us.

Lysis said...

As to your study of the Iliad: Mr. Conner admits that his understanding of Achilles has deepened since he had you as a student. He has escaped the clutches of “received wisdom” on the subject, and suggests you do the same. He requests you consider the examples of Achilles’ honorable conduct, sighted above, as you develop a more studied and honest opinion.

As to Vietnam: Of course the West rejected Ho’s overtures for support in his planed enslavement of the Vietnamese people. Accusing the U.S. of instigating war in Southeast Asia is like blaming Roosevelt for Pear Harbor.

As for Israel: Obama coddles terrorists in Palestine (Hamas!) by his cold and calculated shunning of Israel, even suggesting they return to the indefensible borders of 1967, while at the same time he offers appeasement to Iran, as they plot Israel’s destruction and build the bombs to do it. We need not be consistent in our relations with a legitimate and amazingly restrained state of Israel, fighting for its existence, and the murders of innocents. Your call for such a "consistency" would have a policeman arriving on the seen of an assault, stand back while a criminal murders his victim because the innocent citizen had the audacity to fight back.

On your comments on Syria: if 90% of the terrorists attacking our soldiers in Afghanistan, as Thornton claims, come through Syria, then I don’t care if Thornton’s is a partisan. I join the party that condemns inaction. If Obama is involved in clandestine attacks on Syria, it is his job to take partisan hits for doing the right thing, even as G.W. Bush did, and let history revel the truth. I will apologize when I am proven wrong. Something Obama has never done, even as he takes credit for the death of bin Laden by using the forces Bush built, and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq on the timetable Bush established and made possible with the surge Obama fought and condemned.

On Cuba: The difference you claim between Cuba and China, based on proximity is spurious. The world is small enough and evil is evil where ever it destroys freedom, peace, and prosperity. Blaming the enslavement of the people of Cuba, their complete lack of civil liberties and human rights, and their abject poverty on the U.S. rather than on Communism is just wrong. It is the Cuban government that takes away the rights, fills the prisons, and kills those who protest. Next you will be blaming the U.S. for conditions in North Korea. Kim does, not a party I’d care to join.

On your claim that there is a difference between the appeasement of Germany and that of Iran based on treaty violations: Are you actually maintaining that, had there been no Treaty of Versailles, Hitler would have been justified in gobbling up Czechoslovakia, conquering Poland, France, Greece, Norway ect., invading Russia and North Africa, occupying Italy, bombing Britain, declaring war on the U.S. and murdering 12 million noncombatants in a social engineering experiment in the name of the pseudo-science of eugenics? I think you are, and that is LUDICROUS!!!!

As for the “spy plane”: the fact that Obama did not use one of his vaunted drone attacks to take it out is pretty convincing proof of appeasement. I wonder what Hitler would have done with such a weapon? We’ll probably see soon enough.

Lysis said...


If you do not condone murder in the name of P. C. sensibilities, then what is your “beef” with Thornton? He commends such atrocities and calls on the West to have the courage and honor to stand up to such terrorism. Do you?

I don’t like Virgin Mary statues made of elephant dung, I do not approve of Piss Christs, but I would hardily condemn anyone who committed murder because the National Endowment of the Arts paid for them and put them on display.

As for in-depth examinations into Mormonism, let them come. What has the truth to fear from such scrutiny? What has Islam to fear from the disrespect of infidels? Thank goodness I live in a country where the enemies of my beliefs are free to lie and I am free to say the truth.

We must allow disrespect in order to defend free speech. Who was it that said, “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”? It wasn’t Achilles, but I bet he wanted to be.

Dan said...

Lysis, you continue to argue points I do not make, and pretend I have taken stances I did not take. It makes for a great powerful narrative on your part, but it is hardly constructive. I will make a list of things you refute I did not ever argue, and things you clearly misconstrue or infer.

1. "Accusing the U.S. of instigating war in Southeast Asia"

2. "Blaming the enslavement of the people of Cuba, their complete lack of civil liberties and human rights, and their abject poverty on the U.S. rather than on Communism is just wrong."

3. "Your call for such a "consistency" would have a policeman arriving on the seen of an assault, stand back while a criminal murders his victim because the innocent citizen had the audacity to fight back."

4. "Are you actually maintaining that, had there been no Treaty of Versailles, Hitler would have been justified in gobbling up Czechoslovakia, conquering Poland,.. ."

5. "I think you are, and that is LUDICROUS!!!! "

6. "If you do not condone murder in the name of P. C. sensibilities, then what is your “beef” with Thornton?"

7. "As for in-depth examinations into Mormonism, let them come. What has the truth to fear from such scrutiny?"

Okay. Lets go over them again.

1. Never happened. Never. Please read again (I'm actually pretty sure you read it right the first time, but maybe you should check it out, so you don't mischaracterize my point).

2. Also, never did it. I can see how you misunderstood, I did say the embargo over 50 years has caused horrible conditions. It is not the only cause, but it is a cause. I also said it only hurts the poorest people in Cuba, which I maintain. The embargo doesn't hurt Fidel, or any of his cronies. In my opinion, that horrific despotic government would have been gone for decades now, without the embargo. But, I never claimed the U.S. was to blame for their enslavement, lack of liberties, or rights.

Dan said...


3. Here you completely shoot language in the face with your absurd definition of consistency. I said we should be consistent and hold everyone to the same standard, you say that means innocents must allow themselves to be murdered, and if they don't we condemn them. WHAT? When Israel breaks agreements they make, or targets civilians, or does anything else we would condemn palestinians, or anyone else for, we should be consistent in our condemnation. How you change that to consistency meaning we condemn both good and bad, I cannot fathom.

4-5. Here's were you become ultra dramatic for effect. First, you know that's not what I'm arguing, and second, you know I don't think that. I specifically pointed to Germany building military and annexing land against treaty. Iran is under no agreement not to build up their military, and they have never agreed to not build up their nuclear program.

Now, to head off you spinning that argument, I 100% do not want Iran building up their nuclear program. However, they are a sovereign country, and just because we don't want them to (rightly) doesn't mean it is appeasement to not bomb and invade them.

It was appeasement to ignore Germany rebuilding its military in direct contradiction to treaties signed. Using diplomacy to try to head it off in Iran is not the same in any way.

Note, I never referred to treaty in reference to taking over other countries, and should Iran do that, obviously it would be appeasement to let them. You pretending that my argument would allow Germany to do such without treaty is so overly dramatic as to be hilarious.

I stand by my actual position, to compare allowing Germany to build up its military and annex land (both against treaty), and also to let them take over other countries; with attempting diplomacy to try to stem the nuclear program of a country under no obligation to the U.S. to not have one, or not destroying a downed drone (a horrible decision to be sure), is just really, really bad argumentation. It relies on hyperbole and hysteria. They are not the same.

6. So, if I don't agree with all of Thornton's points, I must condone murder? I know you know logic, you taught it to me, so I would ask that you leave drama behind and return to the discussion at hand. I have very thoroughly laid out my 'beef' with Thornton, and condemning murder was not one of them.

7. Where did I say I didn't want an in depth look at Mormonism? My point was there is a difference between in depth reporting, and broadcasting 'The Godmakers' on prime time. You continue to ignore my point of there being a difference between what can be done, and what should be done. I don't believe we have to profane that which others hold sacred to either uphold the freedoms of speech and press, or to convey truth. I believe that both can be done without resorting to debasing others and their beliefs.

Dan said...

On the overarching Islam discussion. Yes, there were only 64 statements, on that one website, in the very first search.

You and Thornton both made the argument that there was silence. You were both wrong. You now change the target and say there aren't enough. I posit that you don't see them, not that they don't exist. I see them everywhere, constantly. And furthermore, I don't think a Muslim is responsible to apologize, or denounce specifically everytime a nutjob who claims to share a religion with him does something evil. I believe that large portions of Islam have made their stance perfectly clear. Now, it is also true that large portions have made their stance perfectly clear in support of violence and terrorism. But to claim that there is not a vocal, and well known counter to that evil within the Muslim community is disingenuous.

And I think again, we can both agree the argument that the moderate muslims are silent is just flat out wrong, Thornton's assertion could not have been more flawed. And one has to question, why did he make the assertion, when he clearly knew, or should have known, it was a lie? Could it have been to advance a narrative?

Dan said...

On partisanship. Partisanship is not wrong when it means I stand for these things. Partisanship is wrong when it means being dishonest, misconstruing facts, lying, and any other contemptible act to harm those positions and those people you disagree with, or to promote those causes you champion. I believe Thornton is clearly doing that.

Lysis said...

ON #1 – Accusing the U.S, of instigating war in Southeast Asia, you said:

“. . . but that it is wrong to claim history gave us two choices, war with vietnam and capitulation to communism. There was a third choice, and because we chose to appease, we were forced into the later choice.”

First, what was the third choice? Since “we” choose to appease, and forced war, it seems reasonable for me to assume you were claiming that Ho wanted peace and the U.S. choose war. This is an obvious accusation against the U.S.

On #2 – Blaming the Embargo for conditions in Cuba, you said:

“I can prove with 50 years of evidence that having an embargo doesn't work. And it causes provable, visible problems including bad immigration policy, horrendous conditions to the average citizen of Cuba, and skewed politics in the U.S. to pander to the Cuban vote in electoral heavy Florida. The embargo only hurts the poorest in Cuba, and gains us nothing.”

You say causes. Your claim the embargo provably causes the horrendous conditions of the AVERAGE citizen of Cuba, as well as the poorest – and I am justified in concluding that those horrendous, (and incidentally, unspecified, conditions) include, “their complete lack of civil liberties, and human rights”, as well as the poverty of all the Cuban people. You are blaming the embargo, and ignoring the real cause of all these ills, including the poverty – a Communist dictatorship.

On #3 – Your call for consistency, you say:

“Wrong can be condemned on both sides, and to lay out a claim that Obama chastising Israel is proof he is an appeaser is flawed logic in the extreme. One can, and should, decry wrong on both sides, it doesn't matter if the wrong is uneven. Consistency conquers appeasement.”

First you bear some burden to provide an example of Obama’s chastising Israel for doing something WRONG. I know he condemned the building of apartments, a completely legal action for a sovereign state, within its own territory, and not in violation of any agreement that hadn’t expired! I know he suggested appeasing terrorists by a possible return to the 67 boundaries in the face of all logic and reason – suggesting that it is time for Israel to commit suicide. But please give me an example of an incident where Israel broke an agreement, targeting civilians, or did anything else “we would [should] condemn Palestinians for.” The Palestinians have ignored every agreement back to Camp David, and are targeting civilians on an almost daily basis, holding hostages, and praising suicide bombers, while calling for the inhalation of an Israel which is granting them enormous concessions, rights, and privileges, and only asks that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist as THE condition for negotiating a Palestinian State. Obama doesn’t need to worry about consistency, he needs to condemn evil and stop appeasing Iranian puppets in Palestine.

On #4 & #5 - The comparison between appeasing Germany and appeasing Iran, you say:

“Germany was appeased as they built up their military against treaty, annexed land against treaty, and invaded sovereign nations. To compare the two situations is ludicrous.”

The only difference you claim between the abominable behavior of Germany and the abominable behavior of Iran is that Germany did it in violation of a treaty; my point is that your distinction is LUDICROUS. Iran supplies terrorists, funnels weapons and support to the Taliban, supports suicide bombers in Israel, props up the dictator in Syria, facilitated the assassination of a former Prim Minister of Lebanon, holds American’s hostage, plots to commit assassinations on U.S. soil, and is developing a nuclear capability that even Obama insists they should not obtain. Obama’s failure to do anything, including destroying our “spy plane” is appeasement. That Iran has not signed a treaty to say it should not do these things does not make it any less appeasement to allow them to do so.

Lysis said...

These are your words:

"The difference between Munich appeasement and Iran is first, Iran is not signatory to a treaty specifically stating they cannot do the things they are doing."

By the way, I am not calling for an invasion of Iran. Perhaps you or President Obama could suggest some way to prevent the disaster the present course of appeasement will bring. Diplomacy with no consequences is an excellent definition of appeasement – there is a name for that, Munich. This is serious, not hilarious, though sadly, Obama’s actions to date are being laughed at, in Tehran.

Lysis said...

On #6 – Thornton’s claim that free speech is violated by a ban on cartoon:

Here is hyperbole and hysteria. Since there is no just reason to preclude such publications, terrorists kill people, when these pictures are printed. It is the terrorists who are choosing to murder, it is their only alternative to freedom of speech and a free press, and they are all too willing to carry it out. To cave into the fear they thus engender is the definition of appeasement. Where is Achilles when we need him?

** On the discussion of silence: You are the one using questionable debate tactics here. A “word search” of the quotes I posted from Thornton’s book reveled NO use of the word “silence”. My only uses of that word were to the “silence” that followed a cub scout’s chastening of a room full of high school students and two rebuttals to your invention that Thornton was claiming silence on anyone’s part. I made a legitimate comparison between the screams of Khomeini and bin Laden, amplified by blasts of gun fire, the roar of bombs, and the detination of crashing passenger planes as they ripping through buildings filled with innocents, and your googled quotes. Add to that the cheers and chants of marching mobs and I think the calls for peace in that quarter are awfully muted.

To invent a statement and accredit it to your opponent and then attack it to bolster your position is no substitute for providing reasoned arguments.

** Equally un-reasonable is redefining a term after it has been discredited. Before you can legitimately redefine Thornton’s partisanship as, “being dishonest, misconstruing facts, lying, and any other contemptible act to harm those positions and those people you disagree with or to promote his causes”, you need to provide some examples, dare I say evidence, that he has done any of these things.

Dan said...

"I would be grateful to receive an example of Islamic religious leaders condemning the bin Ladens and Khomeinis. I find, instead, overwhelming silence."

Unless someone else logged on under your pen name, and posted it, then I would appreciate you admitting I did not invent a position and attribute it to you.

You said there was silence. That claim is untrue.

I have already provided a large list of examples of things I believe thornton to be misconstruing or flat out misleading on. Relisting it won't be productive to the debate, you disagree with me.

You have consistently refused to address my argument via the comics. You do vehemently debate a position, but it has never been mine. My point has consistently been that the freedoms that we enjoy, and we should have, allow for such publication or speech. My further point is that we shouldn't profane what others hold sacred. I don't know how more specific I can be. We can, it is protected, it should be protected, that doesn't make it right. And, we don't have to do it, or pretend that it is good when others do it, to champion that right.

On Vietnam, if you don't know what the third option was, you didn't read what I wrote. We had choices before us when Ho came to the West looking for us to follow through on promises of French Indochina becoming free from French colonial rule. We (collectively) went back on those agreements. That then provided the backdrop for the U.S. only having two choices, fight the Vietnam War, or appease communism. Appeasement to the French made it so we had to fight Vietnam. Did we start Vietnam, no, was Vietnam our fault, no. But the West's indifference to French Indochina left a land ripe for communist expansion, that gave the U.S. no choice but to intervene.

We clearly stand on opposite sides of the chasm on Iran. I'll leave it to others to form their own opinion. I will continue to believe it is an awful, awful comparison, seeing as Germany invaded more than a few sovereign countries while others sat and watched. To compare Iran to the most egregious example of appeasement in the History of the world, in my opinion, is done for political purposes to try to draw in peoples minds a similarity between the Obama administration and those that let Hitler ravage the world. That is partisanship that, in my opinion, damages the whole system, and cheapens the debate.

I'll let my positions stand. I think anyone who reads your blog and actually takes the time to read our competing treatises can decide for themselves if I, as you claim, condone murder for P.C. sensibilities (by the way, you're the only one in my lifetime who has ever accused me of being P.C.), or whether I believe (again as you claim) Hitler would have been justified in taking over Europe without the treaty of Versailles.

Lysis said...

Once again, I appreciate your response, and I have enjoyed the discussion.

I admit, as I did above, (“My only uses of that word [silence] were to the “silence” that followed a cub scout’s chastening of a room full of high school students and two rebuttals to your invention that Thornton was claiming silence on anyone’s part. I made a legitimate comparison. . .”) that I did use the word “silence”. I also remind you that I asked for decent examples, (“As for your claim that “moderate Muslims” are not silent, give me a decent example otherwise.”) What I maintain is that the call for restraint on the part of moderates, while not absolute silence, is pitifully weak. If there comparative “silence” is motivated by belief, it is troubling, if by fear, it is appeasement. I also point out that it was you – not Thornton – that made the claims about silence, so your critique of the quotes posted from his book is not accurate.

Even as my claim that there was silence was “technically” untrue – the more important fact, that the world of Islam does not adequately challenge the actions of terrorists remains unchallenged either by their actions or by any of your arguments. Can you now present some evidence to the contrary?

I have carefully reviewed your posts, and I cannot find a single substantiated example of Thornton’s misconstruing, or misleading (lying) anywhere in the quotes. Whenever you gave your opinion challenging his position, evidence and argument have proven you wrong.

We agree then, that basic human rights, valued by the West – despised by radicals, allow for the publication of offensive, even profane materials. We also agree that it is regrettable when anyone intentionally hurts another’s feelings. Nevertheless, when the media continually hurts the feelings of every other group but refrains from hurting the feelings of terrorists because of fear, it is appeasement. On this too, reason requires that we must agree.

We must disagree on Vietnam. To hand the people of Southeast Asia over to Ho and the Soviet Empire, (Ho was a Soviet stooge, interested in exploiting Communism for his own power in the model of Lenin, Stalin, Kim and Mao) in the name of anti-colonialism would have been folly, and it would have been appeasement. The disaster, which is Vietnam today, the millions slaughtered by Communists, and the slavery and complete lack of liberty and human rights that is Vietnam’s lot today, is ample proof that it was not pandering to France that led to war in Vietnam. It was a legitimate manifestation of the policy of containment and a valiant attempt to protect not only the Vietnamese but also America and the world. Our withdrawal from Vietnam, and the subsequent abandonment, by the Democrat led Congress, of the South Vietnamese to the abomination of North Vietnamese domination is an excellent example of appeasement – a disaster that, but for Ronald Reagan and the complete collapse of Soviet Communism his courage facilitated, might have had horrific consequences on our lives.

Lysis said...

Now to Iran and Germany: neither Thornton nor I claim that Iran has, to this point, committed atrocities on the level of Nazi Germany. However, that was the case for Germany during the time of Chamberlin’s appeasement. Allowing a malignant force, which, like Hitler in his writings, has called for unbelievable atrocities, is foolish. These plans, well document, and carried to fulfillment whenever opportunity has allowed, are not confined to the destruction of the Jews – but go on, as Khomeini has, to call for the annihilation of the West and the establishment of world dominance in the name of the religion he claims to represent. It is just as foolhardy to ignore these threats, as it was to ignore Nazi designs on genocide, the colonization of Russia, and German domination of the world. Chamberlin’s appeasement enabled Hitler’s atrocities. We should carefully consider the Wages of Appeasement as we contemplate “the long retreat” in the face of determined, emergent, evil force that present U.S. policies promotes. We are just as foolish as was France digging in behind the Maginot line, or Britain counting on a piece of paper to guarantee world peace. Every time we acquiesce to fear or embrace irrational leftist policies based on the faulty view that all people want what we do, we are enabling the monster that plots our destruction.

I am also willing to leave judgment of our positions to those who read.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Curtis said,

Dan and Lysis,

I’ve been reading your posts. Thought I’d weigh in. Although the comment was long ago, speaking to the reason the press does not publish anti-Islamic material, Lysis wrote, “Fear is their motivation, and this is exactly why we need Achilles to defend us.”

The only fear that motivates the press is the fear of being held to the same moral standard to which it holds selective candidates and politicians. That won’t happen – it’s a phantom fear. I offer that the real reason the media doesn’t publish anti-Islamic material is rooted in its fascination with supporting organizations that operate in opposition to institutions that promote traditional values.

Talking about the media often leads to a discussion on partisanship. Dan, your position on partisanship is interesting. You say the author’s book smacks of partisanship right after you write, “One can, and should, decry wrong on both sides, it doesn't matter if the wrong is uneven.” I’m with you. Wrong is wrong. As for me, rather than bringing up an argument about someone being partisan I prefer to seek the truth by looking at each point on its face. If the score, if the truth, is weighted to one side, does that make the author’s opinion partisan?

It’s about the truth, even if the weight of truth tips the scales unevenly.

I’m interested in the author’s book. I’d like to read it. Based on what I’ve read here, however, I think the author has missed what is most important. Maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist. I think appeasement is only a symptom. Is their motivation for the appeasement?

What say you, Lysis?

Lysis said...

I agree with you that the media might not always be motivated by fear, although the murder of a movie producer, attacks on newspapers, and killing of innocents because of the media’s portrayal of Islam, might have intimidated some in the media. However, this does not matter. Weather from fear, or from their P.C. bias in “opposition to institutions that promote traditional values,” it is still appeasement.
I hope you will read the book. It is not fair for either you or Dan to judge Thornton by my excerpts from his far more definitive work.
I feel that out discussion here has pulled our thoughts from the more important point I was trying to make. This is that the West must have heroes who are willing to fight, kill, and even die to preserve what we value. At this time, we are blessed with “legions” of such, but there is a danger that, without the knowledge of the truth, future generations may not be willing to stand. As our soldiers come home from the liberation of Iraq, the negative spin that many choose to spew, may make too many into disciples of Ron Paul, and our nation incapable of defending itself the next time around. That our enemies have those willing to kill and die for their beliefs is demonstrated almost daily both in word and by deed.

John Dewitt said...

Lysis, you seem to support Bush with generous acknowledgments and undeserved respect. From an open perspective this man used a very oportunistic(not to mention suspicious) event in 9-11 to dramatically increases the power of the central government. No foreign enemy is dangerous enough to warrant us abdicating our liberties. The enemies that will eventually destroy this nation are domestic, not foreign. All you have to do is look at the laws being passed around you and recognize the bondage being laid on you in the name of patriotism. The two parties are no different except in their means to enslave you. Neither one recognizes the idealogy of our first great fathers, and will both go to considerable lengths to destroy it, one through jingoism and war, another through progessivism. Don't love your country Lysis, love the principles it was founded on.

Anonymous said...

The stupidest drivel I have wasted my time on since I sat in your class and took up space for a passing grade Mr. Conner. Of course, to such an "Always Right" intellect as your own this must somehow be a compliment. I don't think it's actually possible to make you feel bad about yourself and your neo-nazi opinions.

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