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  • How the Left Gets It All Wrong

    Posted by Shannon Love on March 5th, 2007 (All posts by )

    Some long-time readers may have noticed that I am often more interested in intellectual methodology, i.e., the means by which people arrive at certain conclusions, than I am in the conclusions themselves. Methodology trumps conclusion in my view because only by understanding the quality of the methodology can we hope to understand the quality of the conclusions. We evaluate the quality of a methodology by the accuracy of the predictions the methodology produces. Science works this way, and that same concept applies to all other fields of endeavor (albeit with far less precision.)

    Working from this perspective, what do 30 years of hindsight about the Vietnam war tell about leftist methodology? In turn, what does that tell us about the quality of leftist policy recommendations in Iraq?

    It tells us that following leftist recommendations in Iraq will most likely result in a humanitarian disaster for the people of Iraq, a crippling blow for U.S national security, worldwide destabilization and a vast increase in the prestige and power of organizations that employ the tactic of terrorism.

    In my previous post, I explained how the hammer and nail effect caused leftists to systematically place the primary blame for all conflicts between liberal democracies and autocracies on the liberal democracies. This built in error wrecks leftist methodology. Leftists simply lose the ability to accurately analyze the causes of conflicts or to predict the outcomes of different policy choices.

    We can see this flawed methodology quite clearly in the Left’s model of the conflict in Indochina. The Left held out the following model of the conflict:

    (1) The primary driver for the conflict was the desire of the people of Indochina to be free of colonial oppression. The “imperialistic” actions of the liberal democracies of France and the United States were therefore the ultimate cause of the conflict.

    (2) Following from (1), anti-Western leaders such as Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot were first and foremost nationalist and only secondly communist, if they were true doctrinaire communists at all. They had little interest in allying themselves with communist superpowers. Only the actions of the liberal democracies forced them into a temporary alliance with the communist superpowers.

    (3) Therefore, the war in Indochina was not in fact a proxy war against communist superpowers but rather a post-WWII version of the wars of colonialization.

    Based on this model, the leftists of western liberal democracies thought it obvious that if the liberal democracies removed themselves from the conflict, then the war-torn region would rapidly evolve into stable, inclusive, peaceful, and neutral nations with great developmental potential. (For example, John Kerry famously said that we might have to evacuate, “at most” 3,000 former South Vietnamese officials and their families to protect them from the wrath of the victors.)

    Due to many factors internal to the liberal democracies themselves, the Left won overwhelming political power in the mid-’70s and immediately implemented the policies that their model of the conflict mandated. However, nothing their model predicted came to pass. The actual outcome was almost to horrible to believe.

    Instead of governments swept into power by popular acclaim, the communists bludgeoned their way to absolute power using overwhelming firepower supplied to them by their superpower patrons. They implemented mass executions, racial pogroms, gulags and the entire panoply of the totalitarian state. Their economies collapsed and the victors soon fell to fighting among themselves. The entire region knew nothing but war, democide, oppression and poverty for the next 20 years. Most telling, while the region generated few refugees in the time of the Western intervention, after the communist victory it generated millions in only a couple of years.

    The immediate consequences for the free world were equally dire. The power and prestige of the communist powers increased enormously, resulting in numerous wars and the establishment of new totalitarian regimes.

    The negative consequences for American national security reverberate to this day. Our contemporary adversaries still point to Indochina as proof that a small but patient power can defeat the world’s sole hyperpower.

    After the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of the Soviet archives it became clear to all that the leftist model of the conflict got things very nearly completely backwards:

    (1) Stalin originated the war in 1944 when he ordered a Soviet trained revolutionary cadre headed by Ho Chi Min to then-Japanese occupied Vietnam to lay in wait to exploit the Japanese defeat. (Similar cadres, also recruited from expatiates in Europe, went to nearby countries.) Stalin and his successors directed and supported the resulting conflict from beginning to end. The liberal democracies were fighting a proxy war against the communist superpowers just as they claimed.

    (2) Leaders such as Ho Chi Min and Pol Pot were in fact doctrinaire communists. They believed in the communist concept of historical inevitability and sought to force-evolve their native cultures into industrial socialist states. No action by western liberal democracies could have shaken their alliance with the communist superpowers.

    (3) The communists exploited the people’s nationalism for their own ends. They used and murdered any non-communist nationalist in the range of their power. Ultimately, communist intervention drove the conflict. Without that intervention, the decolonialization would most likely have proceeded in a peaceful manner. The war arose when liberal democracies resisted the communist attack. When the Left forced the liberal democracies to abandon the region, the inherent destructive nature of communist doctrines created the horrific outcome.

    The Left got the war entirely wrong solely due to their emotional need to place the genesis of the conflict within the liberal democracies in the West, where the articulate intellectuals of the Left could claim to affect a solution. The same flawed methodology underlies the Left’s model of the war in Iraq, and of the wider war against Islamists and others who employ the tactic of terrorism.

    Considering just Iraq, if one believes axiomatically that the current conditions in the country result solely from the actions of the U.S.-led coalition, then, logically, removing coalition forces and abandoning the region, just as in Indochina, will improve conditions there. However, the Left’s model of Iraq (and the broader conflicts of the Middle East) is just as broken as their model of the conflict in Indochina, and for the same reasons. Just as in Indochina, they simply cannot understand that other actors in the world have their own ideologies, cultures, histories and conditions that impel them to act independently of any actions of western liberal democracies. Without the counterbalancing force provided by western liberal democracies, those independent impellers will drive the region to bloodshed just as the independent impellers of communism drove the bloodshed of Indochina.

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it. The Left has learned nothing in the last 30 years from their failure to understand and predict the course of events in Indochina. They still use the same broken methodology for the same egotistical reasons. We can safely conclude that following their policy recommendations generated by that flawed methodology will results in a similar horrific outcome.

    Until they grow up and become more self-aware and less ego-driven, the rest of us must struggle to keep leftists from the positions of power from which they can implement policy. Millions of lives depend on it.

     

    36 Responses to “How the Left Gets It All Wrong”

    1. morgan Says:

      A great, cogent piece. Unfortunately, we seem to be doomed to repeat the disasterous history that flowed from Vietnam. As Martin Van Creveld has pointed out, today’s totalitarian has access to smaller, cheaper and more advanced weaponry, thus the bloodshed will probably exceed that caused by Vietnam

    2. Wes Turner Says:

      Has U.S. military intervention in nonindustrialized countries EVER worked? Even once? Arguably, the Korean intervention is the least failed, though, we’re apparently still fighting it.

      Afghanistan? Another very mixed outcome there, and, again, looks like we’re still fighting that one as well.

      Cambodia? After all the bombing and slaughter, the U.S. ended up ALLIED with the Khmer Rouge.

      Iran, nope. Guatemala, hardly. Chile, no. Nicaragua, all that U.S. sponsored terrorism and the place is still a mess with, who, oh, right, Daniel Ortega, the devil’s evil twin, according to the Reagan administration, back in the saddle.

      Sure, you can argue that things might have been worse without these military interventions. Hypotheticals are great that way. But why not a single clear victory? Not one case where things went swimmingly, and so many where disaster ensued?

      For the purpose of discussion, let’s set aside the issue of whether Shannon’s outrageously convenient selection of events reflects reality.

      We’re still left with the question of why right wing militarism has a nearly perfect record of failure in America. I think we’ll agree that America is one of the most free, wealthiest and most poltiically dynamic countries on the planet. Yet, according to Shannon, the left dominates politically, always foiling the salutary policies of right-wing militarists. Why?

      Is there something about American ideals that results in the rejection of right-wing militarism again and again, in conflict after conflict?

      Why, after all these years, is there not one single example of victory for major military intervention in third world countries?

    3. david foster Says:

      Wes…was Harry Truman a “right wing militarist?” (Korea)

      or Kennedy/Johnson? (re Vietnam, which is oddly missing from your list)

    4. John Says:

      “Methodology trumps conclusion in my view because only by understanding the quality of the methodology can we hope to understand the quality of the conclusions.”

      Amen. I think that you and I have a recurring theme in our posts that the evolutionary scientific method should be applied to all mental activity.

      Failure to understand why science works so well is what irritates me about people who point to the “wisdom” of primitive societies. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Sure, the ancient Greeks came up with an “atomic” concept, but it was based on a philosophical method not much more sophisticated than that which college sophomores regularly engage in while three sheets to the wind. There was no empirical “we observe this and this fact, and therefore conclude that atoms exist”. Completely different from the modern process going from Rutheford’s experiments to Eisnstein’s Brownian Motion paper that put the modern concept on a sound empirical footing.

    5. Wes Turner Says:

      “Wes…was Harry Truman a “right wing militarist?” (Korea)”

      No, he wasn’t. McArthur was, however, and we all know how Truman handled that particular part of the conflict.

      or Kennedy/Johnson? (re Vietnam, which is oddly missing from your list);

      Kennedy and Johnson were not, in the main, right wing, though they were militarists, the record shows. Their motives in invading Vietnam were mostly political and domestic, i.e. they were trying to neutralize political attacks by their right-wing militarist opponents.

    6. Wes Turner Says:

      More to the point:
      All post WWII American presidents have incorporated right-wing militarism as part of their foreign policy. It’s crucial to draw distinctions between some, like Reagan and Bush II, that made it a theme and others, like Clinton, relied on it sparingly.

      Another way to look at it: It’s meaningless to call Bush II a left-wing socialist, just because he supported and signed the biggest increase in government health care entitlement in American history: the prescription drug benefit. Bush II, like all American presidents, incorporate left-wing socialism in his policies as part of his overall approach; that doesn’t make him a left-wing socialist.

      There is nothing wrong with right-wing militarism in theory. It has its role in all nations and deserves to be heard, at least, as a policy option. It isn’t a kind of madness or necessarily the product of emotionalized nationalism, corruption and political failure, even though in America’s history, it has almost always commingled with those in practice.

    7. Shannon Love Says:

      Wes Turner,

      Has U.S. military intervention in nonindustrialized countries EVER worked? Even once?

      America succeeded when it put boots on the ground and kept them there.

      Even Vietnam had succeeded in that South Vietnam could have survived on its own with only indirect support from the US to offset Communist superpower support of North Vietnam. Taiwan, Korea, Lebanon(1957), Kuwait and a few other examples shows that when the US puts boots on the ground, events turn out for the better. (Most of the conflicts you point to are in fact indirect interventions

      The ugly truth that Leftist simply do not wish to acknowledge is that violent conflicts are very ugly and messy and the best one can hope for is to trade a major problem for a smaller one. Leftist can always point to the outcome of any intervention, direct or indirect and claim that intervention “failed” by comparing to a fantasy outcome they dreamed up.

      More importantly, however, I take it that your attempt to change the subject means that you agree with my major premise i.e. that the Left systematically creates flawed models of conflicts and that policies based on those flawed models usually fail tragically? You can argue the difficulty of direct military intervention all you wish but that is irrelevant to the point of this post. Unless you can show that the Left did have a good predictive model the conflict in Indochina your comments don’t amount to much on this thread.

      Yet, according to Shannon, the left dominates politically, always foiling the salutary policies of right-wing militarists.

      No, the Left gained control of American military policy only in a relatively brief era roughly 1972-1980 due to their monopoly control over media and education and the personal corruption of Nixon. The Left threw away a war that had been won by all practical standards because their flawed model told them to.

      Whether the rightwing succeeds in its attempts to intervene or not, I think that history shows conclusively that the Right does create far more accurate models of conflicts than does the Left. In short, the Right has at least has a chance of improving situations whereas the Left has no hope.

    8. James R. Rummel Says:

      Has U.S. military intervention in nonindustrialized countries EVER worked? Even once?

      Let me add to the list of successes by mentioning Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989).

      There have been a fair number of other military interventions by foreign right-wing governments that have turned out as well as could be expected. British action to retake the Falkland Islands, for one example.

      James

    9. sol vason Says:

      Wes Turner asks:
      “Why, after all these years, is there not one single example of victory for major military intervention in third world countries?”

      Actually there are many military victories where the anti-communist armed forces rebuilt their nations.
      1. Guadeloupe – the island is safe from communism and prosperous thanks to Reagan
      2. Kuwait and Panama safe and prosperous thanks to Bush
      3. Chile – rich and prosperous thanks to the University of Chicago
      and the execution of Allende and a soccer stadium full of communists by Pinochet.
      4. Liberia – the only prosperous and safe African nation guided by sound Republican principles until Clinton screwed up the country.
      5. Iran, free and prosperous, beginning with Eisenhower, turned over to tyrants by Jimmy Carter.
      6. Rhodesia, free and prosperous beginning with Eisenhower, turned over to tyrants by Jimmy Carter.

      You Liberals gave us a nuclear USSR and a nuclear Iran, Liberals created the entire Korean mess by saying in 1948 that Korea was not under US protection; and by providing North Korea with nuclear reactors under Clinton.

      Liberal heroes/role models include Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Allende, Castro, Guevera, Khomeini, Nassar, a bunch of blood thirsty africans including Idi Amin the cannibal, Chavez, Tito, and Pot Pol. Why do Liberals have such a great admiration of anti-democratic mass murderers? Why do they proclaim these men
      as great leaders? Is it because Liberalism is fundamentally incompatible with democracy?

    10. Wes Turner Says:

      Shannon: All I’m asking is that you base your analysis on actual results, not on hypothetical results. The historical record is long and we can compare the success of U.S. military intervention in third world countries with its failures.

      Why was Poland the first country to shake off the communist yoke, while the countries where right-wing militarism was given its longest, best-funded, deadliest chances are STILL communist today?

      Look at China. Nixon took what you would describe as a left-wing approach and guess what, China wasn’t “emboldened” to take over the world. Sure, it’s still a one-party state, but living standards are climbing fast and they’re hardly the threat to their neighbors they could have, and probably would have, become had the U.S. insisted on a military response.

      More broadly, I recommend that you try to drastically narrow down your premises. Some would liken your task of blaming the left for every evil under the sun to that of Sisyphus, but to me, you look a lot more like Prometheus.

    11. Wes Turner Says:

      Sol Vason writes: “Actually there are many military victories where the anti-communist armed forces rebuilt their nations.”

      “1. Guadeloupe – the island is safe from communism and prosperous thanks to Reagan
      Grenada? The counterrevolution of Guadelupe must have been one of Reagan’s B-movies, Sol. Wake up, dude. Have the self-respect to hit wikipedia, or something, before you go making stuff like this up.

      2. Kuwait and Panama safe and prosperous thanks to Bush

      The war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation certainly included elements of right-wing militarism, but was an alloy. The U.N. and a global-straddling coalition of countries, including countries like Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, backed the effort. Even then, that war left things a bit unsettled in Iraq. As in Korea, we’re still fighting this one. The excuses are different, but it’s the same old war, don’t kid yourself.
      Panama was left no freer, no more prosperous by the removal of Manuel Noriega. The country remains one of the poorest in the hemisphere. That you would cite this two-week war against a single man and a handful of his entourage is a very good measure of how desperate are you delusions.

      3. Chile – rich and prosperous thanks to the University of Chicago and the execution of Allende and a soccer stadium full of communists by Pinochet.

      Indeed, Chile has fared better than some of its neighbors, worse than others, but “rich and prosperous” is not only redundant, it’s a wild exaggeration.

      4. Liberia – the only prosperous and safe African nation guided by sound Republican principles until Clinton screwed up the country.

      You’ll have to explain the link to right-wing militarism here. I don’t see how that made Liberia “prosperous and safe.”

      5. Iran, free and prosperous, beginning with Eisenhower, turned over to tyrants by Jimmy Carter.

      Free? Prosperous? You’ve got to be kidding. The U.S. installed a dictator in 1954, after helping assassinate a democratically elected leader. You call that free?

      6. Rhodesia, free and prosperous beginning with Eisenhower, turned over to tyrants by Jimmy Carter.

      Wow Sol, that’s the topper. You may recall that Rhodesia was founded by Cecil Rhodes, one of history’s most dastardly practitioners of genocide and chemical warfare. It was an apartheid state. But don’t let me fill you in. It’s wikipedia.org, Sol. Check it out. Or better yet, hit a library. You might be surprised to find out how much of your political view is based on sheer fantasy.

    12. Mark Moore Says:

      Heretical Thoughts:

      Thirty years out the lessons from Vietnam are:
      (1) We won the peace, even if our pride was bruised by losing the war.
      (2) The people there turned out not to be so evil that we can’t do business with them.
      (3) Things get ugly, but we can face them with hope.
      Victory is Vietnam connecting to the world economy and taking their place at the globalization banquet table. It took longer than the left hoped, but it’s moving along. The left can’t take any credit for it; the people of Vietnam and global-minded businessmen can.

      In Iraq we’ve won the war (deposing the tyrant and destroying his state), but we’re having a bit of a problem with the peace and all that system-administration stuff. If victory in Iraq is composed of providing enough jobs for people to participate meaningfully in their political economy, then the continued application of state-destroying force may be counterproductive.

      If we reframe our hopes for the Middle East into a multi-generational view, then we can see that many of the tyrannical regimes are imploding demographically. They’ll fall of their own weight, although we can speed the process along by encouraging connectivity, commerce, and interdependence, and especially by supporting female literacy.

      You give the left way too much credit if you say they lost Vietnam. Don’t confuse their hot air with actual influence. Look at the environmentalists and see that for all their sound and fury they haven’t accomplished a single thing that we haven’t been able to roll back or undermine. Unfortunately, it was the American street that decided enough was enough. Eventually the politicians followed suit. Unfortunately, the same thing may be happening now. But if we don’t let pride get in our way, we can use this opportunity to learn lessons about winning the peace, lessons about the value of dialog.

    13. Shannon Love Says:

      Wes,

      If you want to run a thread debating the effectiveness of this or that intervention I suggest you do it on your own blog. Nothing you have said addresses my central point at all. Just to repeat myself:

      I take it that your attempt to change the subject means that you agree with my major premise i.e. that the Left systematically creates flawed models of conflicts and that policies based on those flawed models usually fail tragically? You can argue the difficulty of direct military intervention all you wish but that is irrelevant to the point of this post. Unless you can show that the Left did have a good predictive model the conflict in Indochina your comments don’t amount to much on this thread.

      Speaking broadly, the Right has since WWII at the very least understood who the real enemy was. The Left by contrast has been completely clueless. We can safely assume that, therefore, that their analysis of the present conflict is just as fanciful and the policies based on that analysis will fail just a catastrophically.

      However, since I seem to have decisive won my actual main point, I will entertain your little hypothesis that direct or indirect military intervention NEVER works.

      Firstly,

      All I’m asking is that you base your analysis on actual results, not on hypothetical results. The historical record is long and we can compare the success of U.S. military intervention in third world countries with its failures.

      An excellent suggestion! By what standards do you define an intervention as a success or a failure? Does the country have to instantly evolve into a liberal democracy that makes Sweden look like a Gulag and stay that way forever for you to judge the intervention a success? Unfortunately, experience has taught me that Leftist will define military interventions as failures simply by fiat without any kind of predefined objective standard. I suspect I will not be able to debate the point in any meaningful manner because you will repeatedly move the goal post by pointing out how the results of any particular intervention fell short of an imaginary ideal.

      For example, using common Leftist definitions we can easily call WWII a failure. After all, the war ended up with Stalin in control of half of Europe and he would before his death put nearly a 1/3 of the worlds population under his thumb. Moreover, WWII lead to the dangerous nuclear standoff that more than once almost lead to an extinction level cataclysm. Talk about blowback! Clearly, we should have let that German fella polish off Stalin for us in order to avoid all the bad things that happened over the next 50 years! A Leftist could easily argue that the world would have been a better place if we let Hitler have a free hand in Europe. After all, how can you prove such an assertion wrong?

      If you give me some kind of real world standard by which to judge the success or failure of an intervention I will debate you. Otherwise, its just a complete waste of time.

    14. Shannon Love Says:

      Mark Moore,

      You give the left way too much credit if you say they lost Vietnam.

      Unfortunately no. While there was plenty of blame to go around, the freakishly empowered American Left delivered the death blow. The military fumbled the first four years of the war and Nixon’s infamous “secret plan” to end the war telegraphed war weariness.

      Yet the military completely altered its strategy following the destruction of the Viet Cong during the Tet offensive and by 1972 South Vietnam had a proficient military and a growing militia which prevented the North Vietnamese from re-establishing control over any significant areas. In late 1972, South Vietnam fended off a major invasion on the ground while the US provided only air support.

      In the end North Vietnam invaded and crushed South Vietnam because following Nixon’s disgrace, the American Left basically ran the country. Senator Edward Kennedy and Congressman Tom Harkin, sponsored a series of resolutions (I used to have a list of the bill numbers) that progressively cut off not only all direct military support but also military supplies, fuel subsidies, agricultural development, foreign loans and even visas. At the same time the Soviet Union and China poured support into North Vietnam. When the North invaded with more tanks than Hitler used to crush France, SV units fought until they ran out of supplies and until it came clear that the promised air support that they had built their defense plans around wasn’t actually coming. It became clear that South Vietnam stood alone against the combined might of the Soviet Union and China. They had no hope of winning.

      If Nixon hadn’t been corrupt then the far left would not have gained its highly unusual degree of unopposed power. I think the American public would have supported South Vietnam with military supplies, some air support and economic aid until the end of the Cold War. Had we done so, South Vietnam would look more like South Korea or Taiwan today. (A similar level of support could have prevented the victory of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.)

      The great mythology that the Left created during the war and has maintained ever since is that the war was impossible to “win” They claim we never had a hope of creating stable, non-communist states. Following the end of the Cold War this concept has been proven completely false. The Soviet archives and memoirs of North Vietnamese leaders clearly show that they believed that the conquest of South Vietnam was impossible following the crushing of the Tet Offensive. The war could have ended in 1968 had American leaders and the public been able to make a credible commitment to staying the course. By 1973, we had “won” to the extent that South Vietnam was self-sustaining as long as we counterbalanced Communist superpower support for North Vietnam. (Ultimate victory, just as in say Germany, would have to wait until the end of the Cold War itself.)

      The problem we face today is that those who would have been on the far Left in the 1970’s are now considered mainstream democrats. Most grew up with the anti-war movement in the 60’s and they still regard it as a positive movement. They have not re-evaluated anything about their stances then based on the information that became available following the end of the Cold War. The thought that these people are using the same flawed model to create policy in Iraq and the broader war on terror should fill any reasonable person with dread.

    15. Mark Moore Says:

      The greatest mythology is that we lost in Vietnam. We won-a generation and a half after we left.

    16. Wes Turner Says:

      That’s a lot of ifs, Shannon. Your analysis is based almost exclusively on assumptions about what would have happened, rather than what did. You even go so far as to say you can’t debate me, because if you do, I will “move the goalposts.” But your analysis requires no goal posts in the first place; it merely assumes this or that outcome.

      The U.S. goal in World War II was to defend itself against aggression. As you point out, such a defense required an alliance with Stalin–a fact that I’d have thought would make YOU call it a failure. Based on that criteria, the war was a total success because the U.S. was not attacked again.

      The Cold War was very different. The criteria became political as it was presented to the American voter as a battle between communism and democracy. The goal was to support democracy and destroy communism. Based on that criteria, the interventions in Korea was as much a failure as a success and the one in Indochina was a total failure.

      Yet China, the biggest, baddest Communist, managed to pull itself out of totalitarianism without the benefit of the “right-wing” model of American military aggression to replace its leadership.

      Which “methodology” as you like to call it, worked better, the diplomatic approach the U.S. relied on in China, or the military aggression in Vietnam?

      Criteria: Deaths, treasure
      The aggression in Vietnam cost 3 million Vietnamese and 58,000 plus American lives and that doesn’t count the dead from U.S. bombings in Laos and Cambodia. I don’t have a ready calculation of the U.S. treasure expended on this failure, but I’m sure you’ll agree its a significant amount and that we’re still paying for it.

      What did the diplomatic approach taken with China cost the U.S.? I know Kissinger flies first-class with huge entourage and insisted on monopolizing brokerage of future business dealings between U.S. companies and the Chinese government, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the financial costs of the diplomatic effort are insignificant. The death toll? Try ZERO.

    17. James R. Rummel Says:

      Wes, you keep going on and on about how China somehow pulled itself up by it’s bootstraps and rescinded oppression and tyranny without the US taking any active military steps against it. You couldn’t be more wrong.

      Beijing has never been shy about pointing out that the very first step in any of their foreign policy plans is to conquer Taiwan. “All Chinese under one government” is a slogan I think they used at one time. Considering the cultural and political pressures that exist inside China, it is a profoundly embarrassing fact that they have never even been close to that goal.

      And why not? Because the US Navy would oppose any invasion force that tried to make their way across the Taiwan Strait.

      A single US carrier battle group has done more to bottle up Chinese aggression than any diplomatic initiative, no matter how much you might inflate the utility of such efforts. Even today, those of us interested in military affairs can easily see that China is constantly struggling to find ways to defeat our forces in the area and make the invasion happen.

      I don’t agree with your assertion that the Chinese have turned their back on totalitarianism since I think the word pretty much accurately portrays Chinese political reality. But your statement that the US relied on a diplomatic approach with China is obviously disingenuous. We might not have directly invaded the mainland, but we certainly have relied on a military counter to Chinese aggression.

      And the very same approach is still necessary, and it still works.

      James

    18. Miki Ellis Says:

      Wes,

      I have two words for you. Tiananmen Square. Tell me again how China isn’t toatalitarian.

      Miki

    19. Wes Turner Says:

      James: I’m not saying the U.S. took a pacifist approach toward China, nor that China became a model democracy as a result.

      You are missing the point that this is a comparison of the approach there with the approach in Vietnam, using clearly defined criteria based on outcomes, not hypotheticals.

      You assume that the only way China could re-incorporate Taiwan is via invasion. Are you forgetting or denying that Hong Kong was re-incorporated with a shot being fired. Again, diplomacy worked. Are the Hong Kong people better off–not in my view, but that’s a separate question.

      I support Taiwanese independence but if you propose invading China to prevent them from threatening to takeover China, I’d have to refer you to the historical examples showing why that approach almost never works.

    20. Wes Turner Says:

      Miki: the massacre at Tiananmen was clearly a turn toward totalitarianism, where China’s leadership chose to step off the decades long path to openness and move toward greater repression.

      By the way, how did the U.S. respond to Tiananmen? Ah yes, the “left-wing methodology” again, to use Shannon’s grandiloquent terminology. And the result? Have you been to Shanghai lately? The place is booming. Granted, it’s not represented of the whole country and there are massive problems out in Tibet and other hinterlands, but, overall, the country’s improving fast.

      Do you really think a right-wing militarist response to Tiananmen would have worked? And if you can’t apply the rightist model against such brazen totalitarianism, where can you apply it?

    21. veryretired Says:

      The original post was very interesting. I’m sorry to see that this thread has once again been coopted by someone disinterested in discussing the points of the original post, but instead interested only in mouthing leftist talking points.

      Please let me know when the Chicagoboyz once again have some editorial control over the site, and I can read a thread without wasting most of my time searching through student union debating drivel for something relevant to the topic.

    22. ligneus Says:

      “You assume that the only way China could re-incorporate Taiwan is via invasion. Are you forgetting or denying that Hong Kong was re-incorporated with a shot being fired. Again, diplomacy worked. Are the Hong Kong people better off–not in my view, but that’s a separate question.”

      Wes, you do love comparing chalk and cheese. Hong Kong was leased to Britain, when the lease was up Britain transferred it to China. Taiwan, except for a short period, was never part of mainland Chinese jurisdiction.
      Military defense of Hong Kong was not a practical proposition whereas it is of Taiwan.

      As for China not being a totalitarian country, why don’t you tell the Tibetans, I’m sure it would make them very happy to know that.

    23. Jo Esperanto Says:

      Shannon: All I’m asking is that you base your analysis on actual results, not on hypothetical results.

      OK, let us look at the items on your list compared to actual results:

      Iran: Compare results to Azerbaijan under the Soviets, Iran was better off. Compare results to Iran under the Mullahs, Iran was better off.

      Guatemala: Compare results to Guatemala under Arbenz, Guatemala was better off.

      Chile: Compare results to Cuba under Castro, Chile was better off.

      Nicaragua: Compare results to Cuba under Castro, Nicaragua was better off.

      Compare Yugoslavia to Italy. Compare Vietnam to the Philippines. Compare North Korea to South Korea. And so on and so forth. In terms of blood and treasure, looks like “right-wing militarist” have been batting a 1000.

    24. James R. Rummel Says:

      James: I’m not saying the U.S. took a pacifist approach toward China, nor that China became a model democracy as a result.

      No, but you did clearly claim that China is no longer a totalitarian regime, and that it was US diplomacy that enabled this miraculous transformation. I disagree with your statements, and I think it is obvious that you are wrong.

      You assume that the only way China could re-incorporate Taiwan is via invasion.

      No, I recognize that Beijing makes no bones about their ambitions to invade Taiwan. They talk about it openly, and they have done so for close to 60 years.

      I even said this in my last comment, but you seem to have missed that for some reason.

      I support Taiwanese independence but if you propose invading China to prevent them from threatening to takeover China, I’d have to refer you to the historical examples showing why that approach almost never works.

      Please point out where I proposed an invasion of China.

      The biggest problem with debating someone with a Leftist political outlook is that they cannot do so honestly. This is a prime example.

      James

    25. James A Pacella Says:

      The main thing I took from reading “Atlas Shrugged” was not to allow your enemy to use your virtues against you.

      Without that tactic the Left would crumble to dust.

    26. Jonathan Says:

      Looking more closely at “Wes” I see that he strongly resembles our old friend Bunkerbuster, who I banned from this blog because he was destroying comment threads with his relentless chomskyite mush. Back to your hole, son.

    27. sol vason Says:

      Shannon,
      Helen in “The Big Lie or Many Small Lies” describes the seminal works of Willie Munzenberg and how he created the parameters which constrain all Western Liberal thought on foreign policy (12 feb 07).
      Liberal foreign policy is anti-USA and pro-Comintern because Munzenberg made it so – which is why Helen says he was a brilliant PR man. Her article bears rereading with your article in mind.

      The liberal arguments in this thread show the continuing Munzenberg influence especially where they cite Wickipedia as reliable source for 20th century history.

      Indeed your own article “The Left and Evolution” discusses the tendency the left has for irrational dogmatism (2/24/05).

    28. sol vason Says:

      Leftist foreign policy prefers socialist dictators. It is against Democracy except where the elections can be rigged to provide legitimacy for socialist programs. It is aimed at eliminating land owners and the bourgeoisie. It is typically anti-US because the US is bourgeois. So every Leftist act you deplore is actually a Leftist victory because once the world is a giant socialist Mir and all the people who commit Greed, Sloth, Gluttony, Avarice, Anger, Pride and Extravagance are eliminated, and when man once again lives in harmony with the land, then the state will whither away and the People’s Paradise will be achieved.

      Socialist intellectual methodology has its roots in the medieval monastery. One of history’s great paradoxes was how, time and time again, monks would seek out the most remote, most inhospitable location for a monastery, take vows of poverty, and then by using their daily work as prayer, become enormously wealthy. From the monks socialists adopted two principles:
      1) From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
      2) Personal possessions are wrong because they lead only to self aggrandizement

      Socialists have replaced the monastery with the medieval village or (in Russia) THE MIR. This word refers to a village or community with the idea that all members of a community must work together cooperatively to assure mutual survival (thus the sharing of work, food and in the cold winter months warmth). The Mir survives if the two principles are followed. The Mir is populated by Peasants. They farm land owned the local lord and are regularly cheated by merchants (the bourgeoisie) in the towns and cities. The bourgeoisie are despicable because they reject the 2 principles and, together with the nobility and the Church, are the source of Greed, Sloth, Gluttony, Avarice, Anger, Pride, and Extravagance.

      Bluntly put, socialists want to turn the world into a giant Mir. Everyone becomes a peasant living in harmony with the land. There are no land owners, no nobles, no church, and no bourgeoisie. Early on the question was debated can socialism exist in one country while the rest of the word is unchanged. Early socialists agreed that the state could not whither away until the entire world was socialist because the nobility and the bourgeoisie are the enemies of socialism. Indeed, socialists believe their economies are constantly being sabotaged by the bourgeoisie.

      Cambodia, after the American Army and Navy were chased out of South East Asia, was an experiment in rapid socialization. The cities were emptied so that the people could be brought back to the soil. The bourgeoisie and nobility were hunted down and slaughtered so that they could not stop the revolution. The proletariat was carefully inspected for counter-revolutionary thoughts and were re-educated if possible; otherwise they were killed. Sadly, the proletariat and even the peasantry were so badly polluted by bourgeois thoughts that only the children under 14 could be trusted to safeguard the revolution.

      Democracy is not an ideology. It is a Process for determining what to do next. Socialists know what to do next – they don’t need democracy except as a source of legitimacy. Socialists prefer socialist dictators over democratic legislatures.

    29. Mark Moore Says:

      Hammer and Nail Meme Infection:

      On February 27, Amy Goodman interviewed General Wesley Clark. Clark said this:
      About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

    30. James A Pacella Says:

      So like he said that thing about the guy at the place about the thing that she like you know said that he goes well you know, you know?

    31. Elliot Says:

      Too many Leftists can’t leave school behind. When they leave school they are aghast that they are not afforded the same respect they received for their outstanding academic work. They learn that transcripts have no meaning out of school. Even worse, they have to compete with the lumpen who don’t even have a graduate degree. The worst disgrace is the lumpen beat them badly in the marketplace. And the lumpen are obviously not as intelligent as the Leftist because they don’t have as many graduate degrees. Any environment in which the more intelligent Leftist loses must be flawed. (Some even measure intelligence by the number of degrees one has earned.)

      So, the Leftist wants to bring everything back to the school environment. They like teach-ins, committees, dialogues, lectures, seminars, books, and articles. Those are the tools they are familiar with, and those are the tools they want to use to solve problems. Those tools don’t work very well against the crass lumpen in the marketplace, so they concentrate their attention on government and non-profits where they can avoid competition. Or, better yet, they beat a path back to the safety of school and broadcast a carrier wave of social criticism.

    32. josh Says:

      Verytired:

      “The original post was very interesting. I’m sorry to see that this thread has once again been coopted by someone disinterested in discussing the points of the original post, but instead interested only in mouthing leftist talking points.

      Please let me know when the Chicagoboyz once again have some editorial control over the site, and I can read a thread without wasting most of my time searching through student union debating drivel for something relevant to the topic.”

      Shannon Love:

      “If you give me some kind of real world standard by which to judge the success or failure of an intervention I will debate you. Otherwise, its just a complete waste of time.”

      James Rummel:

      “The biggest problem with debating someone with a Leftist political outlook is that they cannot do so honestly. This is a prime example.”

      Jonathon:

      “Looking more closely at “Wes” I see that he strongly resembles our old friend Bunkerbuster, who I banned from this blog because he was destroying comment threads with his relentless chomskyite mush. Back to your hole, son.”

      +++++++++++
      Obviously, the animus toward “the Left” on this site is palpable, but it becomes even more distressing to see the ad hominem approach toward anyone who disagrees. Certainly, Jonathon’s comments about banning someone from this site should be considered. The desire to create solely an echo chamber here, rather than any cogent discussion about any issue of the day, seems to far outweigh any notion of a marketplace of ideas. (Cass Sunstein was right on years ago with “Republic.com”)

      Look, Wes read Shannon’s post and made some comments that most here seem to disagree with. Fine. So disagree. Or make this a password-entry site. Otherwise, can’t you just attack the argument, and not the man? Obviously, that’s too much to ask when the opponent is the “Left”, but it’d be a start.

    33. Jonathan Says:

      If you don’t like the blog, don’t read it. You are yourself doing that which you accuse others here of, namely, making unwarranted generalizations. Your remark about me in particular is wrong. The commenter I told to leave has a history of trolling under multiple aliases. You are welcome to invite him to monopolize conversations on your blog. If you weren’t so eager to cast blame you might also notice that this thread contains comments from a number of individuals who strongly disagree with the bloggers here. Yet these comments have not been deleted, because the people who posted them were civil and didn’t keep trying to change the subject.

    34. Shannon Love Says:

      Veryretired,

      Look, Wes read Shannon’s post and made some comments that most here seem to disagree with. Fine. So disagree…

      The problem as I see it is that Wes’s arguments are very stereotyped and nothing that I have not argued about ad nausea before. I have seen this pattern over and over again. I will argue that this or that intervention succeeded and then Wes will define it a failure by fiat. I suppose I could keep a bank of such arguments on hand so I could just cut and paste but what is the point?

      I wanted to nail Wes down and see if he actually had any concept of what a real world successful military intervention would look like. It appears to me that he defines the results of any intervention as a failure virtually by definition. If this is so, why bother arguing with him? No evidence I can provide will convince him that direct military interventions can succeed, even in principle.

      Don’t make the mistake of thinking we are arguing over the facts of particular historical events. Instead, we are actually arguing over the differing world models. Wes clearly argues from the perspective of the articulate intellectual in which only the tools and methods of the articulate ever produce a net positive outcome. His entire world view is wrapped around that one concept. Since military intervention isn’t a tool of the articulate, he believes it must fail axiomatically.

      I was struggling to try and shake him out of his conceptual rut and perhaps learn something new by forcing him to lay out some type of objective measure of the success or failure of military interventions. He refused just as I expected him to. From experience, I infer that he actually has very little knowledge about such intervention and is instead merely interested in using their axiomatically defined failure as a political rhetorical tool.

      Since he was forced to concede my main point that Leftist models of the conflict in Indochina turned out to be massively flawed, he tried to turn the debate to an area he imagined he would have complete rhetorical control over. However, I refused to fall for his gambit.

      You are correct in that I should have bumped his first comment to the forum.

    35. James R. Rummel Says:

      Obviously, the animus toward “the Left” on this site is palpable, but it becomes even more distressing to see the ad hominem approach toward anyone who disagrees.

      The problem that I had with Wes was that he would constantly try to construct straw men. Most often it was pretty blatant, and he would even go so far as to say that I had taken a position the opposite of what I had actually typed.

      This is not an acceptable tactic in a reasoned debate. Disagreement is welcome, even treasured if the opposing view brings something of value.

      James

    36. SS13 Says:

      //

      Since military intervention isn’t a tool of the articulate, he believes it must fail axiomatically.
      //

      No he shows a long list of failed interventions. From that he concludes they fail