‘Till It’s Over Over There…

Neo – Neocon has started a series of posts on propaganda in wartime; her latest is focused on the famous “Four Freedoms” paintings Norman Rockwell did during WWII.

By odd synchronicity, we’d just watched James Cagney’s WWII film “Yankee Doodle Dandy” – it turns out that Littlest Guy shares our affection for musicals, so we’re bringing him from Sondheim to Singin’ In The Rain to Yankee Doodle Dandy as a quick tour d’horizon.

And about fifteen minutes into YDD, I picked up the Netflix sleeve to see when it had been made – and noted, as I’d expected, that it had been made during WWII.

The naked patriotism – bleeding over to jingoism – of the film can be captured in two quotes and an image.

The image is the poster for the film (lifted from Tim Dirks site “The Greatest Films” – http://www.filmsite.org/ as are the cites) seen here:

yank.gifOne quote from the start of the film:

George: (smiling to himself) I was a pretty cocky kid in those days – a pretty cocky kid. A regular Yankee Doodle Dandy, always carrying a flag in a parade or following one.

President: I hope you haven’t outgrown the habit.

George: Not a chance.

President: Well that’s one thing I’ve always admired about you Irish-Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. It’s a great quality.

George: I inherited that – I got that from my father. He ran away to the Civil War when he was thirteen – the proudest kid in the whole state of Massachusetts.

President: So you’ve spent your life telling the other forty-seven states what a great country it is.

One from the end:

President: Why, I wanted to hear the story of your life. It has a direct bearing on my sending for you. Do you know what this is?

George: The Congressional Medal of Honor.

President: Let’s see what the inscription says: ‘To George M. Cohan, for his contribution to the American spirit. Over There and Grand Old Flag Presented by Act of Congress.’ I congratulate you, Mr. Cohan. (He hands the medal to George) I understand you’re the first person of your profession to receive this honor. You should be very proud.

George: Oh, I am proud. In fact, I’m flabbergasted. First time in my life, I’m speechless. Are you sure there isn’t some mistake?

President: Quite sure.

George: (modestly) But this medal is for people who’ve given their lives to their country or done something big. I’m just a song and dance man. Everybody knows that.

President: A man may give his life to his country in many different ways, Mr. Cohan. And quite often he isn’t the best judge of how much he has given. Your songs were a symbol of the American spirit. Over There was just as powerful a weapon as any cannon, as any battleship we had in the First World War. Today, we’re all soldiers, we’re all on the front. We need more songs to express America. I know you and your comrades will give them to us.

George: Mr. President, I’ve just begun to earn this medal. It’s quite a thing.

[emphasis added]

Add the lyrics to one of his songs:

Johnnie, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run
Hear them calling you and me, Ev’ry son of liberty.
Hurry right away, No delay, Go today,
Make your daddy glad to have had such a lad,
Tell your sweetheart not to pine, To be proud her boy’s in line.
Over there, Over there,
Send the word, Send the word, Over there
That the Yanks are coming, The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming ev’rywhere.
So prepare, Say a prayer,
Send the word, Send the word, To beware
We’ll be over, We’re coming over,
And we won’t come back till it’s over, Over There.

You’ll have a funny set of reactions to the film if you watch it today – first, you’ll be gobsmacked by the fact that Jimmy Cagney is a hoofer! …and quite a good one.

Then you’ll get a sense of the true datedness of the film from the inferences on race and gender…”… about you Irish-Americans.

But a part of it is that I can’t imagine a film today that wore our flag so nakedly on its sleeve.

And I wonder whether and how we can fight or win a war without doing so.

52 thoughts on “‘Till It’s Over Over There…”

  1. The naked patriotism – bleeding over to jingoism…

    Hm. Naked patriotism I see aplenty. But jingoism? Did you forget a quote? Or by ‘bleeding over to’ did you mean ‘approaching but not quite reaching’?

    Or perhaps my understanding of what constitutes ‘jingoism’ is off.

    Perhaps you meant the song lyrics, which seem to express ‘Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy‘ or ‘chauvinistic patriotism,’ given the references to guns and the fact that ‘the Yanks are coming.’

    However to me, and given the context of the earlier portions of our involvelment in WWII in which the lyrics were written, I don’t think of them as jingoistic.

    Semantics, I suppose.

    But a part of it is that I can’t imagine a film today that wore our flag so nakedly on its sleeve.

    And I wonder whether and how we can fight or win a war without doing so.

    I’m with you there. I suppose our saving grace is the fact that it’s less of an outright conflict than, say, WWII.

  2. “But a part of it is that I can’t imagine a film today that wore our flag so nakedly on its sleeve.

    And I wonder whether and how we can fight or win a war without doing so.”

    You don’t need blind loyalty to your country to win a war. You need to believe that you are fighting for a just and worthy cause.

    At any rate, which “war” are you talking about here? Neither Iraq nor the “war on terrorism” deserves blind patriotism. The former because we were led there by lies, the latter because it is not a true “war” but rather a tactic.

    On top of that, the people that are leading us into these conflicts (virtual ones, in the case of the war on “terrorism”) are too willing to wrap themselves in the flag for their unilateral and highly partisan goals. People are beginning to realize, with evident horror, what is going on. Many soldiers clearly feel that their patriotism has been used against them, and have come home to run as Democrats against the Republicans and Neocons who sent them into Iraq.

    The true patriots are the ones fighting AGAINST this adminstration’s (and their supporters, such as you) efforts to corrupt America for their own political gain.

    When you wake up and realize that, you’ll see the healthy glow of patriotism everywhere you look.

    The American Spirit is not nearly as fragile as you think.

  3. I think Wizener is making the case for you: those days are over.

    As one other guy put it, the 101st keyboarders will sit back in their comfy chairs and pontificate. If it’s the other party or the sacrafice is too much (or anything) then we’ll find a million reasons to tell ourselves the bridge is too far.

    Either America cannot fight a world war anymore or we have forgotten how. I know some older Dems who fully expected a draft after 9-11. We didn’t need the troops, but perhaps the social/political changes incurred by a draft would have given us more staying power.

  4. My guess, A.L. is that this is going to be one of those cases where we find out that we’ve been looking through the wrong end of the telescope. An example to illustrate the point: In the heyday of the Soviet Union, most physicians were women. You might look at a relevant statistic on this and say, wow, they were forward-looking in some sense, more than we were at the time. But, in fact, the reason that most physicians were women was that being a physician was not a well-paid, high-status job, it was anything but. So the moral of the story is the opposite of what it at first seemed.

    Something similar will turn out to be the case here, I think: if Hollywood won’t honor the soldiers then Hollywood’s ideas about what is honorable will cease to be of interest to anyone outside the industry. Hollywood isn’t important unless it gets on board. Would it be nice to have patriotic films – the kind that get shown all the time on Turner Classic Movie Channel? Sure. It would be nice to have big stars like Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Montgomery, and David Niven, who would join up for real and see action. But nice is all it would be. If Hollywood honored the soldiers and got behind the war on terror that would do very little other than to make Hollywood look better. Hollywood is losing influence precisely because their judgment is so obviously at variance with our judgment, the judgment of the people who support the war on terror and the soldiers who wage it.

  5. Movies!!!!

    Not only do conservatives refuse to make any sacrifice in support of the war on Iraq, but now you want Hollywood to produce feel good war movies about it so you can sit on your fat asses and be entertained.

    You guys are really really sick.

  6. I’m looking for a word that is similar to “imponderable” — “incalculable” isn’t right either. Oh well.

    In the spirit of “Poynter’s pointers”:http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/fifty-50-tools-which-can-help-you-in-writing.html I’ll try to say it plain.

    We’ve yet to see, and it’s not clearly predictable, how the “Fourth Turning”:http://www.fourthturning.com/ cohort will deal with things as they come to be. Apocalypse? Glory? Should either of those words be embedded in scare-quotes? “Too soon to tell.” From an old post of mine (“#46 in this thread”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/006781.php):

    bq. There’s a joke about an American historian in China, circa 1947. He discusses various things with two Chinese historians, and one of them politely asks what his area of interest is. He says “The American Revolution…” and then, hoping to open up a rich new topic, “…and what do you folks think of the American Revolution?”

    bq. The two Chinese historians look at each other for a moment. Then the elder says, with gravitas, “Too soon to tell.”

    My blog’s called “gumptionology”. I expect to post more stuff there soon.

  7. Ken:

    Drive-by posts are frowned upon hereabouts.

    I’ll only bite on this part: some persons you label in a particular way: “conservatives” followed by “you”, a classic “enthymeme”:http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Figures/E/enthymeme.htm, “refuse to make sacrifices”? Can you substantiate that, or was it just semantic noise you made with your keyboard? I’d wager on it being the latter. Feel free to prove me wrong.

  8. Hollywood isn’t making those movies for the same reason George Bush isn’t raising the tax rate to 91 percent. This isn’t a existential war, with everyone in it together. This is a misbegotten adventure for the benefit of Rumsfeld’s military tactics, Cheney’s contempt for the rule of law, Wolfowitz’s harebrained Mideast realignment program, and Bush’s problems with his father.

  9. Drive-by posts are frowned upon?

    Well, let me ask this, then. Mr. “Armed Liberal” posts some nostalgic stuff about World War II. Then he asks if we as a nation are capable of such a sustained collective effort again.

    Um, we raised taxes in that war. We had a draft in 1940. We had a clear and defined enemy, and a clear and defined standard by which to define victory. Harry Truman made his national name investigating war profiteering and procurement corruption. He criscrossed the country in his own car, showing up unannounced at factories and demanding to see the books! FDR – Democratic President with huge majorities in both Houses – invited Republicans into his planning in the interests of bipartisanship and national unity.

    In 2006 we have a renewed call for tax cuts. Tax cuts? In a time of war? The President hasn’t even tried to increase recruitment for the volunteer military, and he’s not proposed a draft yet either.

    There is no comparison — none — between the political leadership this Republic enjoyed in 1941-45 and the corrupt, mendacious incompetents who pretend to govern us today.

  10. Nortius, no, you prove me wrong.

    Name the conservatives who have called for a tax to pay for the war, who have called for a draft to fight it, or alternatively, who have engaged in recruiting drives to encourage people to enlist.

    When conservatives get serious about fighting a war then I will take you guys seriously. Otherwise you are all just a joke.

    Calling for Hollywood to make feel good war movies instead of of calling on your conservative politicians to raise a war tax pretty much proves my point.

  11. Ken:

    Thanks for the prompt and reasonably courteous response. I wanted you to say something slightly more substantive. You did. Thanks for that.

    I think you’re slightly misreading what AL was saying, but you might be right. I can see why you make him out that way. But please also notice that he mentions the Cohan movie sentiment bleeding over into jingoism. Does that sound like someone who’s blind to the matter of going too far? Do you think he thinks jingoism is good? I don’t get that impression.

    A suggestion:

    If you drop the “you conservatives” tarbrush, you might get farther in conversation with people. Or you’re free to hold that any regular here fits in the “you conservatives” bin because they wouldn’t be here if they didn’t. But you’re missing a bet if you do.

    As far as I can tell, I’m not one of the “you conservatives” you’re talking about. The sacrifices I’ve made are my own, and not something I care to bruit about. But I didn’t need any public figure to tell me to make them, either.

    Here are some things I think:

    I share some of the sentiment expressed by you, and “stickler” above, as does my friend “Marcus Cicero” who posts here from time to time. I agree that the figureheads popularly labeled “conservative” haven’t been calling for sacrifice. “Shop as usual” seemed to be the order of the day until Bush’s recent tacit acknowledgement of Peak Oil. That is, I think, sort of a step in the direction of asking for sacrifice.

    Certainly, the case has not been made that the crisis is existential. I think it might be, in the long run; but I think it’ll have to get a lot worse before that’s recognizable.

    I think it’s still impossible to tell what happened to any of Hussein’s putative WMDs, and I think I was one of the first to mention the now popular idea that he was being fed a line by his scared subordinates and thought he had stuff he didn’t. But the decision to “call” was not completely crazy. Neither is trying to make some good out of what has come to be in Iraq.

    Random concluding musings:

    “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” — that’s from Thomas Pynchon, and the really funny thing about it is that “they” can be treated as “x”: x can be “the conservatives” or “the fat cats” or “the liberals” or “the Mafia” or “the schoolteachers’ union”… or anyone, really.

    “Why is this person telling me this?” When I remember to ask, it almost always leads me to conclude I don’t know the whole story.

    But certainty feels so good.

    This is why I’m not a politician. Or a liberal. Or a conservative.

  12. stickler – can you read? I mean as opposed to projecting what you expect to see and reacting to it (you must be a frightening driver…).

    There’s an interetsing question about the role of propoganda in our society; in looking at a film that – given that it’s listed as one of the great musicals – wasn’t on my radar as a ‘political’ film, I was shocked to see that it was political values-laden to the extent of being propoganda.

    Now I’m not massively nostalglic for things that I explicitly termed “bleeding into jingoism” but I am interested in the impact of media on politics.

    So the next time you accuse me – or anyone else – for nostalgisa for “the good old days” of World War II, why don;t you wait until we write something that is, in fact, nostalgic for the good old days of World War II.

    Ah, sorry, that wouldn’t fit your frame very well, would it…

    A.L.

  13. ken –

    Well, first off, I’m not a conservative, and as NM has pointed out, the breathless “you conservatives” in your comment has the effect of diverting attention from the real questions you ask.

    I’ve posted and reposted and posted some more on the issues of Bush’s failure to make the necessary case for the war, to ‘socialize’ the sacrific of the war, to do things that would be good for us as a society (energy conservation, a dispersed energy grid) as tools in dealing with the risks of the war. Does that count?

    I’m stuck with Bush, because my party, the Democrats, keeps putting up feckless foreign policy soundbites and expecting them to suddenly have the power of real thought. I genuinely wish I wasn’t. I wish I had a choice in the last election; I wish Bush was doing a better job. To quote Sondheim:

    [NARRATOR]
    Once upon a time
    [CINDERELLA]
    I wish…
    [NARRATOR]
    in a far-off kingdom
    [CINDERELLA]
    More than anything…
    [NARRATOR]
    lived a fair maiden,
    [CINDERELLA]
    More than jewels…
    [NARRATOR]
    a sad young lad

    [JACK]
    I wish…
    [NARRATOR]
    and a childless baker
    [JACK]
    More than life…

    [CINDERELLA & BAKER]
    I wish…
    [NARRATOR]
    with his wife.
    [JACK]
    More than anything…

    [CINDERELLA, BAKER & JACK]
    More than the moon…

    [BAKER’S WIFE]
    I wish…

    …but I’m stuck with what I’ve got.

    A.L.

  14. Some economists believe that lowering taxes if they are above 20% will increase government income.

    Now tell me which politicians have lowered taxes in order to better pay for the war? G. Bush & the Rep. Congress.

    Is it working? The economy is booming and government revenues are up.

  15. BTW a strong economy is part of winning wars.

    We should do every thing we can to strengthen it.

    The idea that sacrificing our economy through higher taxes will help in winning the war is nuts. (Yet we keep hearing this kind of stuff from the left).

    As for a draft. Unwilling soldiers need a lot more supervision. They are harder to train. They die quicker on the battlefield.

    Latest reports are that recruitment is not a problem and re-enlistment rates are way up. If numbers and quality are adequate why do a draft?

    You want to sacrifice for the war? Keep your tires inflated. Keep your car tuned up. Buy a more fuel efficient vehicle if it is in your budget.

  16. bq. You want to sacrifice for the war? Keep your tires inflated. Keep your car tuned up. Buy a more fuel efficient vehicle if it is in your budget.

    Bingo. Also: Telecommute. Move closer to work. Carpool. Bike and walk when you can. And keep thinking, not just re-arranging your prejudices.

    That last is the hardest thing.

  17. So I think conservatives have promoted policies that help pay for the war (lower taxes) and help fight it (a volunteer military).

    Why call for policies that do not work well just so you can say every one has a share (is this an M&M enterprises offshoot?) in the war? And of course these ideas are promoted by folks who think that the war in general and Iraq for sure are the wrong policy choices in any case.

    The economics of higher taxes is pretty clear. Above a certain point (20%) they throttle economies.

    It would be nice to see more patriotism. Unfortunately we are unlikely to get that from the “higher taxes and institute a draft” folks. Their patriotism is on a par with their understanding of economics. (A.L. excepted – his patriotism is not in doubt – were that his economic understanding ws as sound.)

  18. Apropos some of the recent compartmentalization seen on this thread, I just ran across an excerpt from Neo-neocon, which I posted on my blog and will cc here since my domain and hers are both of the WoC-deprecated b l o g s p o t variety. She’s going out of her way to conciliate, and not speak boldly:

    bq. I always find it curious when people act as though, by dint of supporting some of Bush’s foreign policies (which I most definitely do), a person is therefore responsible for, and needs to account for and differentiate him/herself from, every utterance made by every person on the entire spectrum of the right.

    bq. …. Your feeling that I need to do this might be an indication, I believe, that you feel that each movement is a monolithic whole, and that anyone who espouses some sort of agreement with someone on a certain “side” is therefore responsible for what everyone who supports that person has said, as though we all march in lockstep.

    It’s a general tendency to watch out for, folks.

  19. Stickler, Andrew, and the other liberals:

    We should fight the war the best way we know how. In 1942 that was with massive, mechanized armies. You know, like the one Saddam had in 1991. Now the way to decisively win a war against a conventional enemy is not with draftees who are in for four years or more, win to go home, but a volunteer military that often takes years of dedicated training to master highly complex systems that in combination prove deadly to our enemies.

    Not having a draft is proof of nothing more than ultra-professional volunteer soldiers with the latest technology are lethal on the battlefield. More lethal than draftee masses.

    Pardon me, your collectivism is showing.

    While I agree that tax cuts are shameful and our military should be greatly enhanced, I see no will whatsoever in the Democratic Party to countenance any more force than Clinton’s impotent missile strikes and air war over Serbia. Even then rioting Haitians forced the US Navy to sail away from Port Au Prince. Democrats in the years 1993-2001 were unable to muster any political will for any sustained ground combat. OBL and Aidid chased away the US from Somalia with 18 deaths. Since then no Democrat has made substantive criticisms of Bush on the order of: a. invade Pakistan and get OBL and his supporters; b. pre-emptively strike Iran NOW before they nuke us; c. invade Saudi and topple the regime, pump the nation dry to defund the main money supply for Jihad. I certainly desire an alternative to GWB but I see none on offer from the Democrats other than a re-run of Clintonism described above which already failed.

    Instead the rhetoric of “illegal war” and “Bush Lied, People Died,” or other nakedly pacifistic rhetoric when Ahmadinejad openly threatens to nuke America shows a base level of unreality among Democrats. The only openly pro-War Dem has had an anti-War challenger put forward (Lieberman).

    As for the crisis, it certainly IS existential. Anyone with a mind to look objectively at the events 1972-2006 can see nuclear proliferation (the technology is old and well understood for even failed states with the money), Islamic hostility towards the West based on the culture of Islam disappearing under modernization, and the loss of Cold War leashes on client states (as predicted in 1989). Far better an endless muddle in Iraq than a strategic level of nuclear response to the loss of one or more of our US cities.

  20. we’d just watched James Cagney’s WWII film “Yankee Doodle Dandy” …

    Did you ever see the WWII propaganda movie Mrs. Miniver? Whew. That Greer Garson was really hot.

    What were we talking about again?

  21. Ken and stickler make the same points, albeit at various levels of detail. AL also mentioned “socialising the war”

    It seems evident that no matter what the military realities of fighting a particular country, or the economic realities of running the state, that some perceived sacrifice must be demanded from the citizenry as part of a war effort. Driving less and telecommuting ain’t it.

    Note that I’m not talking about physical reality, I’m talking the politics of waging war in a modern democracy. Yes, I understand that many Dems called for things like a draft just so they could complain about it later, but all-in-all, it might have been better to have one. It is also disturbing that the current mindset in the Pentagon is to always have a volunteer force. One wonders what it would take for them to change their mind. I hope we don’t find out.

  22. I find calls for greater sacrifice from the Doves to be very disengenious. I don’t really think that they want the country to sacrifice more. I think that they want something more to protest against. I think that they want something more tangible to hate.

    There are any number of Hawks that have called for the President to encourage the country to make greater sacrifices. But I don’t think any of them actually called for reinstating the draft. No one with the slightest understanding of modern warfare, to say nothing of the realities of the current world economy, is actually calling for a draft. The age of the conscript rifleman is either over or else coming to a close. This is the natural result of the development of technologies like effective body armor, night vision equipment, man portable UAV’s, battlefield IT, GPS, and even things as a simple as the Claymore mine.

    And in any event, noone seriously believes that we are going to shoot our way out of this war. More troops would be nice in some cases, but more barely trained conscript riflemen would be worse than useless. They’d just be political and military disasters waiting to happen, especially given the hostility of the press to US military action.

  23. So conservatives do not want a draft. OK.

    But where are the conservatives who are engaged in a war recruiting campaign? Where are the legions of young republicans lining up at the recruiting office, saying goodby to tearfull girlfriends and proud parents as they elist in the war they so fearcely believe in?

    So conservatives do not want a war tax. OK

    But where are the conservatives concerned enough about our countries finances to get off their fat asses and and take even the small step off encouraging saving bond purchases by thier fellow citizens, instead of relying of Communist China to fund the war.

    Where, in short, are conservatives willing to do anything other than complain about the media reporting on the facts about the war?

    Supporters of the illegal, immoral and unjust war on Iraq are just patheticly unserious, lazy and stupid.

  24. “But where are the conservatives who are engaged in a war recruiting campaign? Where are the legions of young republicans lining up at the recruiting office, saying goodby to tearfull girlfriends and proud parents as they elist in the war they so fearcely believe in?”

    I support the fire department. Does that mean that I have to buy a funny hat and ride around on the fire engine? I support the police vice squad. Should I be buying an Uzi and learning small unit assault techniques?

    This looks like a silly line of reasoning. My grandma supports the war in Iraq, but I don’t see her jumping out of airplanes over hostile territory.

    This draft discussion gets off the rails quickly. Celebrim first attacked the integrity of some asking for a draft and then made some circular argument against more troops — “more troops are not needed, therefore we don’t need more troops” Ken is beating the chickenhawk drum.

    This is like a symphony where everybody is playing their own song without listening to the others.

    Is it possible that a significant commitment of people to a war effort is part and parcel of getting universal buy-in? I’m an independent and a former marine. I understand the nature of combat has changed. But the nature of people? Conscription has more purposes than simply to put boots on the ground in the theater, imo. To AL’s point, making supportive movies of the war has a great societal impact as well. Nobody is blameless here. The aqe of the conscript rifleman may be over and it may be total BS that we’ve kidded ourselves about. In either case, the democracy still works the same way. WWII had a real impact on millions of voters and their families. The Hollywood movies had an impact as well. This, in turn, had an impact on the political situation here at home. It’s a lesson we should be learning from.

  25. Daniel, Your response is a good demonstration of just how trivial the conservative line of thinking becomes when trying to defend doing nothing, nothing at all, to actually support the war they supposedly ‘support’.

    If your neighborhood were on fire and the fire department were shorthanded I would not expect you to go out and buy a funny red fire hat, I would expect you to pitch in with a garden hose.

    If the fire department were perennialy understaffed, to the point that some were losing their lives when fighting fires, I would not expect you to buy a funny red fire hat, I would expect you to support a tax increase to hire more firefighters.

    You, on the other hand, believing that the only way you can ‘support’ the fire department is by wearing a funny red hat, would chose to do nothing.

    This is another perfect example of why conservates are such a sad joke.

  26. Supporters of the illegal, immoral and unjust war on Iraq are just patheticly unserious, lazy and stupid.

    LoL. Well, I guess that’s it, then. The end of the debate. Your last name isn’t “livingstone” by any chance, is it? Lol. I guess I’ll just have to assuage the reality of my laziness and and obvious lack of intellectual acumen with persistent election victories.

    I see some people are still having difficulty with the concept of “losing”.

    A.L.- I have often wondered the same thing. Jimmy Stewart reached the rank of Brigadier General, I believe, and flew 81 bombing missions over Japan before coming back and continuing his career. Its hard to imagine any popular Hollywood stars doing something comparable these days. No, they’re content to fly off to the Riviera and Malta, and badmouth the war, the leadership, and the country.

    But I would view the question more broadly: how can we ever win a war when we have such a short, divisive political cycle where the only goal is soundbites and jockeying for power?

  27. Polling data show that the core values of Americans haven’t changed very much since we started polling in the 1930s. The “identity” that binds Americans together into a coherent nation revolve around three primary values: 1. Individualism/Anti-statism; 2. Equality (of opportunity, not outcome); and 3. Religious (originally Protestant but now extended) sectarianism.

    We are also slightly fanatical about those values, when they become seriously theatened or when the “identity” is awakened by events.

    I submit that George W. Bush’s primary failing as a President is, rather ironically, his failure as a cheerleader. He doesn’t quite comprehend the basic values-commitment of the country, so doesn’t trust us to carry through on it. Thus, all the manipulation and the inability to mobilize the nation to respond to a fundamental threat to our core values. This isn’t rocket surgery. It’s Politics 101, directly from the mouths and pens of people like Toqueville and Lipset.

  28. I’m not a conservative Ken, so you are a little off-base there. But I’m game — you seem like you can at least put three words together coherently and I’m bored right now.

    In a democracy, I primarily support or not support activities by voting. It is physically impossible for me to particpate in all of the activities which I support or not.

    Yes. If the house next door was on fire I would gladly help. But the fire chief don’t want my stinking help, so there you go. Likewise, the local police are highly trained and spend a lot of time feeling special. They don’t want my help either.

    In the end, yes, each citizen has ultimate responsibility for all of the necessary functions the state provides. But in the end we’re all dead anyway. Arguing at extremes does not illuminate the issue. Voting is not “doing nothing.” Debating national policy is not “doing nothing.” These are, in fact, extremely important activities. I notice you had no problem with my grandma parachuting into occupied territory. She’s pretty sparky for 94, so I’ll take that as a compliment.

    Ken is actually making my argument in a slightly different manner. If there is not large participation in some fashion by members of the society, the whiners will always ask “Sure it’s okay for the other guy, but what about you?” Not that it is a fair question, or even germane, but politically it might be important to have some national sacrifice to put the argument to rest.

    The counter to that is, “how much?” Do you draft 5 million kids that you’re not going to use? Do you cripple the economy for a war that is pretty small in the grand scheme of things? Do you institute gas rationing so people can feel part of a national effort? Perhaps there is no winning with some folks, I’ll grant you that. But I think it is an idea worth considering. Some supportive movies certainly couldn’t hurt.

  29. I submit that George W. Bush’s primary failing as a President is, rather ironically, his failure as a cheerleader

    I agree entirely. Although his articulation and execution is poor, I think in general, people respond well to him, or any President, when they feel that they have the president’s confidence. I think his biggest mistake, which he seems to have marginally corrected in his second term, is not being more aggressive in answering his critics. Sometimes the argument comes down to whose voice is loudest.

  30. So conservatives do not want a draft. OK. But where are the conservatives who are engaged in a war recruiting campaign?

    Isn’t that what they’re doing every time they try to get the “good news” out about Iraq? Or every time they stand up and applaud the troops back at home? Perhaps you miss the point of a volunteer military: the recruits need to want to join on their own, because it’s a comittment to the military life, not a specific military policy by the party currently in power. Joining up because you believe in the Bush Doctrine could backfire on you if you’re still enlisted when President Hillary Clinton embarks on whatever crazy scheme Howard Dean talks her into.

    Where are the legions of young republicans lining up at the recruiting office, saying goodby to tearfull girlfriends and proud parents as they elist in the war they so fearcely believe in?

    Well, judging by how the military tends to vote, I’d say they’re already signed up and fighting. Just because every young Republican you know personally isn’t already toting an M16, doesn’t mean that others refused to join up already. And in any case, as other posters have already mentioned, support for a war does not mandate immediately signing up for it; something like 90% of Americans supported going into Afghanistan immediately after 9/11–how come you aren’t heckling the American populace as a whole for not signing up to take out the Taliban?

  31. Well, judging from the comments from all of the borrow and sqaunder conservatives who infest this site their ‘support’ for the war on Iraq comes down to this:

    1) Demand a tax cut.

    2) Rent a feel good war propoganda movie

    3) Complain about how the facts of the war on Iraq are being reported to Americans.

    Daniel, no wonder you don’t want to be identified as a conservative.

  32. Ken. I’m not a conservative because I think most of the labels today are worthless. Libertarian works best for me, but even that fails. I’m a registered independent, and I’m hoping I can go back to the Dems sometime soon in a national election — if they could run a good sot.

    I believe you’re making a moral argument — you republicans/conservatives/etc are bad hombres because they are all lazy and no-good. Well, even lazy and no-good people can be right sometimes, so that argument really falls apart. Somebody may be the worst citizen in the country and still be right or wrong about a war — the two do not correlate. In fact, making moral arguments of this sort is usually called argument by ad-homimem. That is, I don’t have to argue your points because I can prove you are a bad person. I don’t think you’ll find it gets much traction around here.

    You also left out another chestnut:war for oil. I always liked that one, because one day soon I could picture the UPS truck pulling up with my free case of Penzoil 10W-40 from GW. I could really use some grease for the jeep, so I hope Karl Rove is thinking about that.

    And I think you take too lightly the affect war propaganda has on folks — even folks that understand it is propaganda. The point isn’t to lie to ourselves, but to stay motivated, as another poster pointed out. The only way this country will ever be beaten is if we quit. Some folks, I believe, are desperate to quit in Iraq because of their political feelings. I can’t say how much I think that hurts the troops and the rest of us. GW, most pubs and conservatives may be awful pieces of dog doo in your mind, but once we commit the troops to fight we should try to look at the bigger picture.

  33. “Celebrim first attacked the integrity of some asking for a draft…”

    Integrity? Let’s not get the cart before the horse. I questioned the motives of some asking for a draft, in so much as virtually everyone calling for the reinstatement of the draft is by thier own admission passionately opposed to the war in Iraq. It’s not at all spurious reasoning to suggest that people who are by thier own admission passionately opposed to the war, believe it to be immoral, believe it to be based in lies, and so forth are not particularly concerned with winning that war compared to simply ending it under any terms. It’s not at all spurious reasoning to suggest that people who are more committed to ending the war than winning it, will make suggestions more likely to end the war than win it.

    I don’t see how that constitutes a distraction from the argument. Nor do I consider it an ad hominem attack of any sort, since most of the people in question openly admit to these feelings.

    “and then made some circular argument against more troops” — “more troops are not needed, therefore we don’t need more troops””

    Excuse me, but no, that is nothing like what I said. I said that more troops would be nice to have, but that they would have to be troops of a certain kind. The average soldier in Iraq is older (23-28), more experienced (4 or more years of service), and more motivated than soldiers in a conscript army would be. Young, inexperienced soldiers who don’t want to be there be released into Iraq in large numbers would only make a mess, do an increased number of things which are politically counterproductive, and get themselves killed. Then they would come home and it would be 1969 all over again. This is I would argue exactly what the pro-draft lobby yearns for. They aren’t being motivated by a desire to obtain victory.

    (I would be helpful to read Norman Schwarzkopf’s autobiography, ‘It Doesn’t Take a Hero’. What I’m outlining here could realisticly be called the ‘Schwarzkopf’ doctrine, as he holds a similar perspective on how conscription contributed to the US failure in Vietnam.)

    You can call this argument a ‘circular argument’ all you want, but its an argument well grounded in the writings of the US Army war college. I’m not merely saying that conscription wouldn’t be useful because its unuseful, I’ve given some indication why I think that it would be unuseful. How else am I supposed to argue that something is unuseful? I’m not the only one that thinks that we don’t need conscripts because conscripts aren’t useful in a war that is as much about politics and perception as battlefield success, in an age were even the enlisted man needs a high degree of education to perform his job, in a war were policy making decision authority is being distributed all the way down to (in one case I’m aware) the level of Corporals, and in an age were the realities of modern weaponry increasingly favor the well-trained (armored) professional over the militia riflemen.

    I can site examples if you want. I can note that the enlisted crew of a warship now makes decisions about how to respond to an attack (like steering, fire control, use of electronic countermeasures) that formerly would have been the sole domain of the Captain, and that the modern technology of war not only allows this but requires it if any effective responce is to be made in time. Of what use is an 18 year old conscript who doesn’t want to be there, who isn’t committed to the task, and who is intellectually and physically unsuited to service be in such a case? I could note this war will be won or lost not by decisions of high ranking commanders, but of platoon leaders on the ground – and that anyone familiar with Omaha Beach could have predicted wars would transform in this manner.

    “I submit that George W. Bush’s primary failing as a President is, rather ironically, his failure as a cheerleader.”

    I would agree. Noone, even his most ardent supporters, would claim that GWB is a masterful statesman. He may be personally charismatic, but he’s a horrible and unconfident public speaker, and he lacks any real degree of magnetism necessary to motivate people to get behind him. For the past two elections, both parties have defined themselves largely by who they are not voting for.

    As for the chickenhawk argument, to the best of my knowledge the short fall in recruiting is not occurring in places were the majority of people supported the war. The information I’m getting from recruiters, is that the shortfall in recruiting is largely confined to the NE Atlantic coast, and the extreme NW where public opposition to the war is high and public officials are actively discouraging recruiting efforts (for example in Seattle). There is no shortfall in recruiting in either the South or the West. It would be nice if the South, West, and other ‘Red State’ areas would step up and cover the shortfall coming from the ‘Blue States’ but one would hardly expect that they would be able to do so.

  34. Ken: “But where are the conservatives who are engaged in a war recruiting campaign? Where are the legions of young republicans lining up at the recruiting office, saying goodby to tearfull girlfriends and proud parents as they elist in the war they so fearcely believe in?”

    Ken’s comment reminded of that Pauline Kael quote from 1972: “I don’t know how Nixon won. No one I know voted for him.”

    Ummm, those of military age who are so inclined are in fact saying goodbye to tearful girlfriends and proud parents, which is why the military is meeting recruitment and reenlistment goals. D’uh. The basis of your reality is showing, Ken.

    I was of that age back in 1982; at the time I believed what Time magazine said about the military, and what all the books and movies said about Vietnam and points foreward.

    Now I’m not so sure I wasn’t a fool, but hey. Everyone gets one chance to be young, and nearly everyone screws it up in (at least) one way or another.

    Unbeliever, my guess is Ken doesn’t actually know anyone willing to admit to leaning Conservative, on any of the major issues of the day. (I have more than a few friends with whom I simply can’t talk politics; they think I’m a pretty good guy most of the time, but they get embarrased for/by me when I posit that maybe the current regime isn’t the Fourth Reich). Among those who inhabit or aspire to Chattering Status, being known as a Conservative has about as much inherent sex appeal as confessing a taste for corn dogs and Jugs magazine. (I’m talking about YOU, Jonah Goldberg!)

    Meanwhile, in County Fair Land, a fair number of bright, socially responsible young men and women find these things to be a-OK. (Well, maybe not Jugs for the girls, but there’s probably some amoral equivalent….) These are the same young people who probably aren’t embarrased by a love of country or the thought of military service. (They’re also the reason why, if the Ivys keep up their policy of suppressing ROTC, etc., we can within the next hundred years expect the Big 10 to overtake Harvard + Yale + Princeton in the production of Presidents.)

    The heartland kids who aren’t ashamed of where they come from are also the young people most likely to be put off permanently by elitist, condescending crap coming from those who would engineer a Just Social Society. So to those who are really interested in shifting the social agenda to the Left, alienating this demographic ain’t gonna work to your benefit, dig? (I’m talking about YOU, Kos!)

    Sorry for the length of the rant. Now, back to my useless, pathetic, wealth-producing life….

  35. Celebrim:

    “I questioned the motives..” [not the integrity]

    Ok. My bad. You said these people had nefarious motives for a draft during wartime in which people are getting killed. Obviously their integrity is top notch, but they have bad motives. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Since I don’t understand you, I will apologize.

    “You can call this argument a ‘circular argument’ all you want, but its an argument well grounded in the writings of the US Army war college…” [relating to the need for more troops]

    Yes. It is a circular argument. The premises are different. My premise is that perhaps (just maybe) the Pentagon has forgotten how the hell to fight a war. They’ve been blinged with trinkets and computers, and they’d rather have one college-educated guy pushing a button to launch a missile than 100 guys in the mud. Hey I’d like to live in that world too. Your premise is “why don’t we listen to the experts, anyway? Look at old Norman and his opinion, why doncha?”

    I’ll gladly admit defeat yet again here. Obviously these folks have spent a lot of time in the service and know more than me. At first, I made the argument that you are making. Over time, however, I am beginning to see that issues of national sacrifice are not limited to lethal force equations in the war room. There’s a bigger picture. Lincoln, as I recall, had to fire a whole lot of generals who had lost touch. The same thing happend in WWII, I believe. In Vietnam the AF thought machine guns were things of antiquity because missiles would be the only thing used. Over and over again, DoD keeps gravitating towards “clean” warfare. We sit back and push buttons while other people die. Hey — I’m perfectly happy with that if it works out. History, however, tends to view warfare on a little more personal terms.

    In short, I’m more open-minded to the generals being wrong. Call me a cynic.

  36. Yeah, if FDR had lowered taxes after Pearl Harbor, why Hitler and Tojo would have surrendered right away! Maybe even wet their pants, too.

    There’s something very weird about being told that we didn’t need a draft, etc., because it wasn’t going to be necessary for this war. Well, maybe we didn’t need rousing movies either. The odd thing, though—how we thought we were going to win this war hasn’t worked out! Why so keen on defending a failed policy?

  37. Because Afghanistan isn’t New Haven, we have a failed policy? (Oh, wait….)

    But seriously Andrew, isn’t that a rather black-and-white way of looking at things? I’d say if the big policy goal were summarized as “no more terrorist attacks on American soil” then so far (and I’ve knocked on wood and will do so after posting) Bush’s policy, as a whole, has been a success.

    If the policy was to remove the most beligerant declared enemy of the United States, it was definitely a success.

    If the policy was to initiate Democratic reform in the mid-east, it’s been a success. (Seems it took the United States a while to get to the point where women could vote, not to mention to the point where one man couldn’t legally own another, so maybe we should give Iraq some time before they’re producing shows like “Queer eye for the straight mullah”.)

    If the policy was to curb WMD proliferation, eh, Libya came clean, Iran’s not been deterred, NoKo is still run by someone less sane than the puppet that played him in Team America, we have our troops guarding Pakistan’s stockpiles, and Iraq’s WMDs turned out not to be (at least, not in Iraq). Final analysis: mixed.

    If the policy was to keep America in cheap oil, definitely not a win.

    If the policy was to send the message “do not MESS with us mother-f***er”, well, that was good for a while, but you, dude are personally not helping with that one. Still, I think your efforts to quell fear and trepidation in our enemies is ofset by Bush’s reputation as a loose canon. (Go loose canon!)

    So Andrew, there’s arguing from evidence, and then there’s arguing from assertion. Around here, I don’t think you’re preaching to the choir, so methinks you’re not going to change many minds, current-tactic-wise.

  38. “Ok. My bad. You said these people had nefarious motives for a draft during wartime in which people are getting killed.”

    Nefarious? You keep dragging words into this that I didn’t use.

    Heck, I didn’t even say that they had ‘bad’ motives. Perhaps they are legitimately moved by an idealistic love of peace and a desire to minimize the number of young Americans that will die. I wouldn’t call these ‘bad motives’. I’m merely pointing out that calls for a draft do not equate with calls to obtain victory, and that in many cases those calling for a draft are by thier own admission not doing so in order to further the mission.

    Do you have a problem with me pointing that out? If so, what?

    “Obviously their integrity is top notch, but they have bad motives. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Since I don’t understand you, I will apologize.”

    I didn’t ask you to apologize. I certainly will not accept an apology grounded in ignorance. If you do not know what you did wrong, don’t apologize. If, as is more likely, you don’t believe you did anything wrong, don’t insult me by being patronizing. If, after you reach a level of understanding, you find you have something to apologize for, then apologize, but what I want is not your apology but your understanding.

    “Yes. It is a circular argument.”

    If you want to persist in claiming that it is a circular argument, why do you provide absolutely no support for such a claim in any of the statements that follow this.

    “The premises are different. My premise is that perhaps (just maybe) the Pentagon has forgotten how the hell to fight a war.”

    True or not, what the heck does that do with it being a circular argument?

    “They’ve been blinged with trinkets and computers, and they’d rather have one college-educated guy pushing a button to launch a missile than 100 guys in the mud.”

    True or not, what the heck does that do with it being a circular argument?

    “Your premise is “why don’t we listen to the experts, anyway? Look at old Norman and his opinion, why doncha?””

    Even if I were guilty of an naked appeal to authority, that would not be evidence that the argument is circular. As long as we are talking about logical falacies, how about the non sequitor?

    And I suppose you wish me to try on for size this whopper of a straw man argument:

    “In Vietnam the AF thought machine guns were things of antiquity because missiles would be the only thing used. Over and over again, DoD keeps gravitating towards “clean” warfare. We sit back and push buttons while other people die. Hey — I’m perfectly happy with that if it works out. History, however, tends to view warfare on a little more personal terms.”

    Not only does this completely wrongly characterize my position, I’m not sure what the heck it has to do with the real world.

    The Iraq War has been an infantryman’s war. There has been nothing ‘clean’ about it. It’s been individual riflemen going house to house and engaging the enemy at close range. And its precisely this sort of work which I believe conscript forces are completely ill-suited. Sending conscripts into Iraq would have been a recipe for a half-dozen Grozny’s. It would be a recipe for putting a much larger boot on the backs of ordinary Iraqi’s than we have to now, and a recipe for enangering the occupied population by our presence even more than we otherwise have too. That is what I’m talking about. I don’t know what the heck you are talking about, but I’m beginning to think it has nothing to do with Iraq.

    Maybe you would be happier if we sent a bunch of kids over thier armed with 6 weeks of basic infantry and an M-1 garand, but such sentimentality for the good old days of militia warfare has nothing to do with winning this one. And for the record, a repeat of WWII is impossible. The economics which made such a moblization possible do not exist. The entire developed world is not fully moblized. Half the need of things like war bonds no longer exists, because the public sector is no longer a tiny portion of the whole. There is not a huge relatively untapped pool of labor which can be brought into the economy, as thier was in the case of WWII. Heck, for that matter, the generals in WWII and the Civil War which had (as you put it) ‘lost touch’, had lost touch precisely because they were wedded to the weapons and tactics of the previous war instead of the one that they were in. The armchair generals of the conscription model, are yesterday’s battleship admirals longing for the classic manuevers and clash of arms of Nelson’s day.

    And as far as Vietnam air warfare goes, you’ll be happy to know I’m of the F-16 school of thought myself, but the harsh facts are that there probably has never been a gun kill of a hostile aircraft by an F-16 and never likely will be. To focus on the lack of the gun as the problem with the F-4 is to miss the point. Longing for a gun on a fighter is like waxing nostalgic for the bayonet charge.

    But, while all that may be well and good, it doesn’t have a thing to do with showing that my argument is circular.

  39. SMALL UPDATE: For the courious, I looked it up and the F-16 has never produced any gun kills for the US. But in the Bekaa Valley Turkey shoot, the Israeli F-16’s did get 6 cannon kills (out of 80) on inferior Syrian targets.

    I’d be interested to no how many of those were fixed wing, since the only gun kills of aircraft for the US since the F-16’s introduction have been of helicopters.

    Also note that in 1982, the F-16 did not have BVR capability.

  40. Okay Celebrim. Let’s do this the long way.

    Your original statement was “I find calls for greater sacrifice from the Doves to be very disengenious. I don’t really think that they want the country to sacrifice more. I think that they want something more to protest against. I think that they want something more tangible to hate.”

    To me, calling someone disengenious in a tactic who is opposing a war impunes their character. I pointed this out.

    Your response was “Heck, I didn’t even say that they had ‘bad’ motives. Perhaps they are legitimately moved by an idealistic love of peace and a desire to minimize the number of young Americans that will die.”

    Okay. So they are disengeniously legitimately motivated. Your words, not mine.

    I find these words impossible to reconcile. I read your post a couple more times. I am apologizing because I do not understand you. I have no desire to patronize you. Heck, I don’t even know you. You were trying to tell me something and I ain’t getting it. My bad.

    “I’m merely pointing out that calls for a draft do not equate with calls to obtain victory, and that in many cases those calling for a draft are by thier own admission not doing so in order to further the mission. ”

    Are you saying that people would call for citizens to be forcibly conscripted to die in a foreign war — a war they didn’t support? Hey. I understand this. Some people are lying two-faced fools. But this is an ad-hominem attack, is it not? By claiming the other person is lying and wants ill will — the other person, in your words is acting disengeniously — that’s saying they are a liar. Do not believe their arguments. Sounds like ad hominem to me, still. You’re welcome to keep wiggling, or perhaps I don’t get it. I’m willing to acknowledge ignorance if I’m missing something. Are you willing to acknowldge an ad hominem attack if you’re making it?

    “Even if I were guilty of an naked appeal to authority, that would not be evidence that the argument is circular.” — your argument is premised on the condition that the pentagon defines what is needed and what is not. I fault your premise.

    “its precisely this sort of work which I believe conscript forces are completely ill-suited” — my statement was that a draft serves other purposes in a democracy than deploying boots into the theater. Your argument is a non-sequiter, not mine.

    “Longing for a gun on a fighter is like waxing nostalgic for the bayonet charge…clash of arms of Nelson’s day…” — somehow, during your post, I’ve found myself transported from my humble home to a smoke-filled room, drinking brandy, smoking fat cigars, and longing for the good old days of bayonet charges. Yuck.

    None of the “realities of modern warfare” argument you are making is to the point of what I’m talking about. I am talking about the social and political consequences of various force deployments in wartime. Generals fight wars, they do not win elections. There is a larger picture here, pointed out by the participation of Hollywood in the war effort and the sacrifices (or not) of the population.

    I am also trying to humbly submit to you that every clown (not you, the professional ones) that’s stood up, wrote a book, made a speech about how warfare has changed — these guys do not have a good track record. I remember reading just this morning of how the Europeans were saying before WWI that machine-gun warfare had made war obsolete. No European would use such a monstrous device on his fellow man.

    I could go on for a long time with such examples, as I’m sure you know. The points you make about the nature of mobilization are valid, as are the ones about the efficiency of volunteer forces in the thick of it. But still, you miss the point entirely.

  41. Re: Machine guns. The M-61, 20mm gatling gun is a sorry P O S. When I flew F-4’s (C’s & D’s) with this blivit on, it jammed more than half the time. We carried only 600 rounds or 6 seconds worth of continuous burst, but were limited to 1 second bursts because the barrels overheated. From what I’ve googled, the current version carried on F-14’s, -15’s, -16’s & -22’s is the same old P O S.

  42. “…that every clown (not you, the professional ones)…”

    I did not mean that you were a clown. I am sorry if it looked that way. I meant that professional commentators on military matters are often wrong.

    I also apologize if you are an actual professional clown. No disrespect to clowns was intended. Clowns are a fine profession. I love clowns.

    (No clowns were harmed during the creation of this post)

  43. The economics of higher taxes is pretty clear. Above a certain point (20%) they throttle economies.

    The idea that sacrificing our economy through higher taxes will help in winning the war is nuts. (Yet we keep hearing this kind of stuff from the left).

    Is it working? The economy is booming and government revenues are up.

    This is ludicrous. The federal debt stood at $7.9 trillion as of September 2005. 2005’s federal deficit will likely exceed $427 billion. This is by any rational measure absolutely unsustainable.

    It is hardly radical to insist that if a war is important enough to be fought, it is also important enough to be funded.

  44. “Okay. So they are disengeniously legitimately motivated. Your words, not mine.”

    I would say rather that whatever thier motivations are, legitimate or illegitimate, they are motivated to make arguments that are not fully candid, and motivated to conceal the actual goal of thier actions. Thus, whether the argument is being made for nefarious reasons or noble ones, it remains true that the argument is disingenuous. The goal it proposes to achieve is actually a fraud that conceals what it is actually trying to achieve. I leave it entirely up to you whether you find such a tactic always morally reprehensible, or whether you think concealing ones motives might occassionally be justifiable.

    “Are you saying that people would call for citizens to be forcibly conscripted to die in a foreign war — a war they didn’t support?”

    Yes, they would, and indeed have. Democrats in opposition to the war drafted a conscription proposal in the hopes that if conscription was brought onto the table, public support of the war would quickly diminish. I’m not sure whether it ever occured to them that if they were successful that it might mean more deaths, because I doubt that they thought they would be successful. And we don’t have to speculate about this, because it would be easy to go back to the time and see that the argument of the bill’s supporters was basicly the ‘chicken-hawk’ argument being made by people like Ken – only (sometimes) dressed in nicer language.

    “Some people are lying two-faced fools. But this is an ad-hominem attack, is it not?”

    Only if I’m trying to distract you from the substance of the debate. If I’m actually bringing up evidence of dissembling behavior as evidence in the debate, it’s not an ad hominem attack. A person’s motivations can be considered evidence. If the suspect has a plausible motive, or lacks a plausible motive, you can point this out in court and not get it stricken as irrelevant.

    “By claiming the other person is lying and wants ill will — the other person, in your words is acting disengeniously — that’s saying they are a liar.”

    Again, I don’t care whether you think it is lying of them to do so or not, and I certainly did not claim that I knew that they wanted ill. I believe that they justify thier actions with the claim that the war in Iraq is unwinnable, and indeed already lost, and therefore continuing to pursue it out of pride, stubbornness, or in the vain hope of victory is the real immoral action. I’m merely pointing out that the vast majority of people who want to see a draft oppose the war, and publically state that they morally oppose the war. Surely this fact is admissable as evidence, or does the mere fact that such a fact casts my opponents actions in what you deem to be a bad light render the fact unmentionable?

    “Are you willing to acknowldge an ad hominem attack if you’re making it?”

    Are you willing to look up the definition of ad hominem attack? I don’t believe that I’ve at any point tried to distract anyone from the evidence, nor have I tried to use an attack on anyone’s character as a substitute for an argument. Quite the contrary, I’ve rather deliberately used less emotionally charged words to avoid getting sidetracked by such questions. You are the one that insists on spicing the language up with such emotionally frieghted words as ‘two-faced’, ‘nefarious’, ‘fool’, and ‘liar’.

    “None of the “realities of modern warfare” argument you are making is to the point of what I’m talking about. I am talking about the social and political consequences of various force deployments in wartime.”

    I know what you are talking about, I just don’t see any evidence that if there was some non-voluntary national effort that it would sway the Doves into the camp of the Hawks. Quite the contrary, I think that such compulsary programs would almost certainly splinter the country into two increasingly hostile camps and it would be 1969 all over again. I’ve already stated what my opinion of the political and social effects of such a program would be.

    Now, almost assuredly the President could have offered a varity of voluntary programs in the wake of 9/11 that encourage people to do useful things. He could have, maybe should have, promoted energy conservation in the wake of 9/11 as a useful thing in its own right. The thing is, given the realities of the economy, pretty soon someone would realize that all the voluntary programs didn’t ammount to much and by now such programs would be as much things of scorn as say the DHS’s color coded threat levels. I just don’t think that there is an easy way to get the opposition on board.

    There is this myth that at some point the US was united in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. That was not my experience of the situation. For example, the reaction of one of my academic colleagues was essentially to dance for joy and go around talking about how much we had deserved it. One doesn’t have to think long to think of famous people with similar reactions. Amongst the media class, the reaction seemed to be mostly horror that the GOP might politically benefit from the event, and they bemoaned that the event didn’t happen on Clinton’s watch. Amongst the Democrats on Capital Hill, within days of 9/11 I saw the Democrats go into what can only be described as a crisis recovery mode, and the crisis they were concerned about wasn’t the nation’s one, but the fact that the needed to save thier phony-baloney jobs. I watched people like Ted Kennedy not only begin immediately attack US policy and undermine the war effort (in Afghanistan, this was well before Iraq) but watched the Senate stymie virtually everything GWB put in front of them. Anyone remember the fight over economic recovery package? Anyone remember all the talk of a ‘double dip recession’ in 2002?

    You see, in the wake of 9/11, my experience is that the country became unified in the abstraction in the same sort of way that Gullianni is in abstraction popular amongst conservatives because of his statesmenship after 9/11. So long as the country was just singing pretty songs and mourning, everyone was in agreement. So long as Gullianni is the face of 9/11 and conservatives know nothing about his views thus are capable of projecting thier own hopes, beliefs, and ideas on to him, he’ll be universially popular amongst the GOP. Once Gullianni has to stand up and say what he believes, his popularity is going to sag. The minute someone had a proposal for what to do after 9/11, America’s so called unity evaporated like the illusion it was. Hollywood made noises about producing pro-American movies, but in fact put into production the sort of movies we’ve been seeing in the past two years. So long as noone had actually said what should be done, everyone agreed on it. But noone actually agreed on anything, and once the song ended, people went back to doing what they had been doing before hand.

    I would love if thier was something we could easily do about that, but we can’t. Bush has made alot of mistakes, but Bush never squandered the nation’s unity, because it was never there to begin with.

    “I am also trying to humbly submit to you that every clown (not you, the professional ones) that’s stood up, wrote a book, made a speech about how warfare has changed — these guys do not have a good track record.”

    Well, there is a point on which I don’t think anyone will disagree. Professional prognostication is notoriously bad. However, amateur prognostication is no better. Believe me, I’ve surfed for laughs enough well-intentioned mil-buff sites where armchair procurement agents advocated on pet project or the other. One of my all time favorites was the guy that wanted to equip jet fighters with a rear firing turret. It just seemed so logical to him.

  45. “This is ludicrous. The federal debt stood at $7.9 trillion as of September 2005. 2005’s federal deficit will likely exceed $427 billion. This is by any rational measure absolutely unsustainable. ”

    Why? First of all, your numbers are off- $427b was the beginning of the year forcast, we clocked in at 331 billion by the end of the fiscal year. Thats 2.6% of the GDP, less than most of Europe.

    Yes, we have an 8 trillion dollar debt… in a 12.4 trillion dollar economy. The fact is our debt and deficit level as percentages of the GDP are no different than they have been for years, particularly in the Reagan years and early Clinton years. The sky didnt fall then either. You cant look at national economics like household financing. The US Government isnt trying to pay off a house and retire to Boca Raton.

  46. LOL.

    Ok C. “If the suspect has a plausible motive, or lacks a plausible motive, you can point this out in court and not get it stricken as irrelevant.” — We’re not going to court. You’re telling me the motives matter, I’m telling you the facts matter. You can argue motives and personality all you want. Personally I find such arguments useless.

    “Surely this fact is admissable as evidence, or does the mere fact that such a fact casts my opponents actions in what you deem to be a bad light render the fact unmentionable?” — good grief! Yes. Some folks oppose the war and you can stretch your argument to be talking about only those folks. But the larger question was whether the call for a draft might have utility regardless of the person making the call. I’m not saying it is — heck, I was just floating the idea, saying that I am leaning towards more perceived sacrifice as part of war. If you want to launch into a long journey describing the personality and motivations of certain people that make such calls, have fun. It’s not germane in my opinion.

    “I know what you are talking about, I just don’t see any evidence that if there was some non-voluntary national effort that it would sway the Doves into the camp of the Hawks…” — fair enough. Could our entire conversation be reduced to that statement? (grin)

    “However, amateur prognostication is no better. Believe me, I’ve surfed for laughs enough well-intentioned mil-buff sites where armchair procurement agents advocated on pet project or the other. One of my all time favorites was the guy that wanted to equip jet fighters with a rear firing turret. It just seemed so logical to him…” — funny story. But let’s not take it too far. The goal of war is to make your folks keep fighting and make the other guy stop fighting. Thinking outside the box is always required. Shoot down the bad ideas and keep the good ones.

    Most all of the old WWII vets I know support some kind of national service. The argument they make is that kids take less of an ownership in their society if they’ve never had to sacrifice for it. They also point out that having to follow orders for a couple of years is a good experience for everybody. I find no fault with this argument, although it has absolutely zip/zilch to do with fighting a war or Iraq. Perhaps some kind of combination service might be in the works. Personally I think that DoD has way too many missions anyway, and I would support a seprate branch just for military police, humanitarian, and peacekeeping activities.

  47. Absent a major change in attitude expressed in the popular culture and the media, if we went to a conscript force I’d expect an increase in fragging and abuse -f power / atrocities. Just what we don’t need. The level of “buyer remorse” in the volunteer armed forces seems to be at a level we can stand.

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