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Friday, November 23, 2012

Why I Am Now Against the War(s)

Because we don’t win them.

That’s where I’d stop if I wanted to be gnomic and glib. But it is a sort of important matter. We don’t win wars anymore because we don’t have the will. We don’t have the stomach. Like fools, like teenagers, we get all upset over something and go in to kick some ass. But it’s not about kicking ass, it’s about making changes that result in our benefit. War, as Bismarck said, or was it Clausewitz, is politics by other means. Clausewitz -- Bismarck said politics is the art of the possible. Politics is the opposite of dictatorship -- not the imposition of will, but the outworking of compromise. If we cobble all this into a syllogism, the conclusion is that war excludes compromise; corollary, that war is best prosecuted by a dictator. That’s it then: we don’t win our wars because we are a democracy. Odd, how television did that.

Something wrong there in the logic of course. Democracies can win wars. War here however does not mean damaging foreign infrastructure and killing enemies and displacing leaders. War here must mean increasing our own safety comfort welfare prosperity, whatever the cost to the enemy. We don’t do that anymore. We have confused, conflated, war with politics. Cuz you see we’re nice guys. Remember just now when I intimated that we were a democracy? More to the point, we are an incipient, hemi-empire, with the duties but not the privileges, and which fact is wholly incompatible with our American ethos of fairplay and generosity and liberty. We have lost our way. We should have propped up, were it possible, the British Empire, let them be the figurehead and world police. Not in the card or the stars, sadly, and our success is the poison pill of our downfall.

Don’t get married unless you’re going to be faithful. Don’t have kids unless you’re going to be responsible. Don’t start wars unless you’re going to win. Democratic America in living memory finishes long wars according to variants on one pattern only: airlifting personnel off an embassy rooftop.

Democracy and empire are, surely, incompatibilities. We need either a dictator -- I nominate Obama -- or we need to get our own house in order. Ah. I’ve just figured out the solution to the tribulation heading our way. We need to empire, no, Empire our way out of this mess. Since we have so clearly demonstrated a total inability to govern ourselves in a prudent manner, we need to more completely exploit the rest of the world. We have so far been not an empire, but a patron. Supporting the freedom of Europe for lo these many decades. Propping up dysfunctional Third World pathocracies (I just made up that word -- accent on the second syllable). Sixteen trillion is chump change, if we take it out of the mineral wealth of Africa and America South. It’s about time Mexico started to earn its keep. Europe is too arrogant and, frankly, warlike. But maybe Russia will get Europe. Asia has those Chinese, who will be the cathode to our anode -- we’ll squabble over Africa. Australia gets a pass, just cuz. It will be the new Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

We will of course have to abandon our former American character. Oh, wait. Done. So now we need to enter truly into the next, misplaced, phase of the Roman pattern. Usually it’s empire first, then decline. We’re already decadent. Now let’s expand. I think this could buy us another hundred years.

Purely by coincidence -- or perhaps it was my subconscious at work, formulating the ideas that now scintillate before your dazzled eyes -- I was walking through Trader Joes today thinking how odd, the convention to wear pants. Left over from horse-riding days. Do we ride horses? Then I pictured myself striding the aisles garbed in a toga. Animal House echoes aside, I think there’s an argument to be made here. I’ll give it some thought and let you know what I decide.

So that’s why I’m against, now, the former and lost war in Iraq -- wherein my own son, blood of my blood, imperiled his life -- as well as the current and lost war in Afghanistan. I don’t mind the war. I hate the losing. I hate the comfort such lost wars give to the enemies of America, foreign and domestic. I hate the damage to the soul and psyche that lost wars do to those Americans who still remain. War is ugly and a failure of humanity. But humanity is ugly and a failure, and sometimes execution is just, even on a mass, albeit monstrous and impersonal, scale. The liberal wants a live free from hardship and failure, and opportunity and success. The conservative wants poverty and unhappiness, and wealth and inequality of outcome, as the result of freedom, logic, and unavoidable reality. What is unavoidable is inevitable. War.

Also tonight, 49 years out from the killing of JFK, I was thinking that America is always worse after the assassination of a president. We never get over it. Like Rome never got over the assassination of Julius Caesar. You may be drawing the unfounded inference that just as Caesar’s murder ushered in an imperial age of "Caesars", so an American empire might be brought about by, god forbid, such a death -- a dynasty of, god forbid, "Obamas" or "Bidens" or "Hillaries" -- and here I’ve been going on about how an American empire is next up. But you’d be missing the point I just affirmed, about what makes America, always, worse.

Hopefully the end of our Constitution will be brought about along the electoral, fascist model, of Hitler and Mussolini. Since the past several generations of Americans, at least, are incapable of learning from history, it must be hoped that this time a happier outcome may accrue, despite the lessons of the past. As Montaigne said, we know only what we know now -- we do not know what we have forgotten, and we do not know what we have not yet learned. And what we know now is demonstrated in the outcome of the most recent election. Study this paragraph deeply, for the key to wisdom herein may be found.

So, in conclusion, I’m against wars because under our current leadership we lose them, and I’m against assassination because America always becomes more leftist after them, and I’m expecting a literal or figurative tribulation, and in either case I’m expecting an Empire.


J

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