The Victorians Offer Context

I’ve often put up glass half full links; today I’ll note half empty ones. Some news is not good. Instapundit links to two. Op-For’s conclusion begins with Michael Yon, who possesses a

focused pessimissm. When he writes that the ground sit in Iraq or Afghanistan is taking a dive, it’s out of a true, apolitical desire to win the war. He understands that selling blood, toil, tears, and sweat didn’t go out of style in the mid-40s. People, Americans especially, respond to challenges. This war is a challenge, and it’s time we start responding to it.

He concludes with what we all, finally, learn: “Half of any fight is how you pull yourself up after you’ve taken one on the chin. If we can’t stand back up, then we stay on the mat. And we lose the war.” (The conclusion fits a site with Tennyson’s “Ulysses” as motto – To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.)

Roggio reports on Waziristan:

On June 25, I sounded the alarm that a truce would be in the offing in North Waziristan. The Pakistan Army was taking a pounding, and President Musharraf lacked the will to fight in the region became apparent. All along, Musharraf and the Pakistani elite attempted to draw distinctions between the Taliban and “miscreants” and “foreigners” – which is merely code for al-Qaeda. The failure to realize the Taliban and al-Qaeda worked towards the same end, and have integrated political and command structures, led the Pakistani government to cut deals with the ‘local Taliban’ and the eventual establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are by no means finished with their goals of carving out safe havens along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

His timeline of posts begins on January 10 and continues.

Roggio is the source for Belmont Club’s analysis. The latter blog is another site with strong sympathy for Victorian definitions of duty & valor. These may be eternal, but he, too, is quite aware Victoria is no longer queen. We have moved into a transitional world where the old rules are not always effective – a contunuing theme, here discussing Pakistan in Book ‘Em Danno.

The calculations are complex and probably only partially rational. The factors affecting these – the emotions aroused by the Inmans, the sense that America is likely to be less bellicose in the future predicted by our polls, the choices of a leaner American army, the tension between tribal loyalties & a broader Iraqi nationalism, the pure desire for power – are complicated & their weights hard to calibrate. Some hearts that need to be won over see the act of “winning” differently. How else could they find offense in the Pope’s remarks? How else could they not consider this an important discussion? Like Browning’s fictional Pope in The Ring and the Book, Benedict XVI offers a perspective that clarifies. (Instapundit has assembled a large group of both interesting & thoughtful links to the reactions to the Pope.)

We began here with a description of how we are doing, but the reaction to the Pope’s speech tells us why. The externality or internality of one’s conversion is key – though for some of us it is more a question of the externality or internality of virtue. The second paragraph demonstrates how thankful we should be for changes in our way of thinking that have been wrought by much thinking (and bloodshed) over a long history. The movement from a belief in the validity of forced conversion to one that finds such a conversion worthless indicates why we didn’t choose this battle, it chose us. We are either easy or uneasy about our deeds, thoughts, beliefs in ways that have no relation to what anyone anywhere on this earth believes. That vision – I would call it maturity – is one we should protect with all we have because that perception, that take on the real world, is one of the most important gifts we can give the next generations. Indeed, without such internalization of belief as well as of values & at least the spirit of our laws, any ideas or material goods we leave our children will be worthless.

2 thoughts on “The Victorians Offer Context”

  1. So, I go to my e-mail and find Scotus has sent ab essay by by Samir Khalil Samir, sj. He introduces it with his usual enthusiasm:

    The Pope brilliantly shows that, in diametrically opposed ways, the postmodern West and radical Islam have exactly the same catastrophic problems — a truncated understanding of the nature of reason and a totally wrong-headed understanding of its relationship to faith.Also, the Pope quotes from a DIALOGUE between a Christian and a Muslim, and it is precisely dialogue between the West and Islam that he is trying to encourage. The dialogue between the Christian emperor and the Persian Muslim seems to have been no holds barred. It is only this sort of dialogue that has any hope of producing worthwhile fruit.

    Not for the first time he & Lex have evoked appreciation for their religion.

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