Tuesday, September 18, 2007


"It is not given to the cleverest and most calculating of mortals to know with certainty what is their interest. Yet it is given to quite a lot of simple folk to know every day what is their duty." So said Churchill, quoted by David Gelernter in his superb No More Vietnams. Gelernter goes on to say, “Damned right this is Vietnam all over again. Only this time we will not get scared and walk out in the middle. This time we will stand fast, and repair a piece of the American psyche that has been damaged and hurting ever since we ran from Vietnam in disgrace way back in April 1975.”

Damn right.

“Not many nations get a second chance to show the world and themselves that they are serious after all, that their friends can trust them and their enemies ought to fear them. …we can make clear that 'No More Vietnams' is a Republican slogan. It means that we will never again go back on our word and betray our friends, our soldiers, and ourselves. ... The left had better get this straight: Vietnam was an aberration. There will be no more Vietnams.”

I have a new hero.

Of the Vietnam Memorial wall in Washington, Gelernter points out that "it stands in a scraped-out hole in the ground; a symbolic open grave. Some day we will tear down that wall and fill up the open grave, and rebuild the wall above ground and re-engrave every name, and add two more words at the end. Two words the designer did not see fit to include. Thank you."


What is passion for, if not to hold steadfastly to right and set our hearts firmly against evil? What is faithfulness, if there is no risk of pain? What is friendship if it bears no cost? What is valor, that looks only to its own comfort? Why have we been blessed, if not to stand up and step forward and raise the strength of our arms in defense of the oppressed? Let us be fierce, to protect those who are weak. Because there is nobody else who will stand firm. Only us, if we will. Only we have the strength, now, at this point in history, to bring to bear against a mounting anarchy sufficient force to impose order. Is America great? Then let us do great things.

How, um, patriotic. How idealistic. And how easy, to say. But I have a son, born into my hands a life of blood and paste, and when he came to me I vowed by every ancient righteousness never to fail his need. He’s grown to tall and broad manhood now, and he’s everything a father could want in a son. How could it be otherwise. On his own initiative he joined in time of war the US military, and stands now alongside his comrades in harm’s way. I could not survive his loss. Weak, I know, but that’s just one of my many flaws. My loving is a visceral streaming across the hemispheres, connected and distant, painful and dear, but how could I have it any other way?

All of these sentiments have a cost, if we live by them. Our love of honor. The lives of our sons. We would not sacrifice either. To lose one would be to lose our own worth. To lose the other would be to lose everything that has meaning.

God made us capable of loving justice, so that we might fight for what is right. God made us to love our sons that we might better understand God.

In the face of such conflict, we must hope and pray and cling to courage. Without it, we must fail.



Anonymous said...

There is a difference in this theater of operations that no one seems to want to address which adds a dimension that we should have considered long before we undertook the task of spending our blood and treasure there:

Islam and the soil it has produced is incompatible with our objectives there. No Western power has ever succeeded in taming that inhospitable environment and never will.

For all our worthy goals, intentions and aspirations, I am afraid Mr. Bush has sent us on a fool's errand and there is now no simple or honorable or successful way out.

Jack H said...

No prophets here, to know the future. But the past may give us a clue. First, Japan -- imperial and authoritarian. No history of democracy whatsoever. Now our close ally. The Japanese are renowned as highly adaptable, of course -- witness the Meiji Era. Their utter defeat and the intelligent rebuilding transformed that nation. Second, Islam prior to its quite literal nazificaiton by SS propagandists. Islam is insane, now, because it really has been perverted by hatred. Is there no hope to reclaim sanity? Well, Saudi Arabia seems finally to be revising its textbooks away from Jew-hatred. Baby steps, but it's a step toward sanity.

Let's see. Ah, here:

I am no friend to Islam. But it in itself isn't insane.

Is Islam incompatible with our objectives? Our aim is to achieve a reasonably non-toxic government that is reasonably not-anti-American. Can't Moslems achieve that? Lebanon wasn't really Moslem, but it was a solid functioning state until the PLO invaded. The Shah ran a tight ship, but until the Ayatollah and his ilk started agitating, it was friendly to the West. Countries like Tunisia and Libya are backwards and odd by our standards, under repressive governments, but they are calm. Tunisia actively protects its Jews. Bahrain is almost enlightened. Morocco is shaping up into something not at all bad, and a few Jews actually have a role in its government, and Jewish schools and synagogues receive government funds. Hmm.

You're not talking about Islam. You're talking about islamism. And certainly, that infection can kill. But it can be killed, too. Looking at the examples above, we can see that it's all about government. That's sort of what we've been trying to do in Iraq. It is by no means a fool's errand. It just may not work out okay. But if it were to -- and we know that Moslems can have okay governments -- well, that's what we call hope.

I'm not looking for a way out. I want a way in.


Anonymous said...

Yes, we all want to believe there will be peace in our time, don't we?

Jack H said...

You foolish man, show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

There are those who would make their anthem, He kept us out of war! Yeah. That really worked out well. There are stupid wars. Then there are necessary wars. We seem to differ as to which is which. If you're the same A. For my part, I believe there will never be peace in our time. There will never be peace. That almost sounds like the implication of your gnomic statement. But it can't be, or you'd be arguing for war, as I am.

Well, yes, there can too be peace. After victory. Oh, well after defeat, too. Liberty has a cost. Sometimes that might mean leaving the nominal security of our own shores. This cannot be a new teaching.

Either there is an enemy or there isn't. Either he can be fought or he can't. If he can be fought, he must be turned into a friend, or neutralized, or killed. What option to you leave open? They can't be converted, and they can't be killed. Ignore them? Blood enemies can't be ignored. If there is a solution, reality suggests that it is through government, as I pointed out. Um -- regime change.



Anonymous said...

Well, I may be misinterpreting your meaning. I just re-read the original article and read the line:

"Only we have the strength, now, at this point in history, to bring to bear against a mounting anarchy sufficient force to impose order."

Just don't call that mounting anarchy "friend". It is nothing of the sort and never can be. It knows it. Do we?

Jack H said...

So we cool then?

As you may know, I'm not all blood and guts, and I'm not all conciliation. I expect one can find all sorts of go git 'em stuff from me. But there's this:

I try to be consistent. But balance is a complicated thing.