Quote of the Day: Veterans Day 2022

J.E. Dyer:

Americans instinctively know that empires bring more wars, not fewer. Over the centuries, Europeans have had ample opportunity to learn the same lesson, and many still understand it. The surge of so-called “populism” in much of the world today, and not just the West, is largely about not being dragooned into empires, in which taxes and mandates on the people, and each generation’s fighting men, are devoted to the agendas of rulers at some level that can’t be held accountable.
 
[. . .]
 
We don’t fight for abstractions that may bring others unknown to us under the rule of emperors. We fight so that fighting will stop, and we will have homes to go home to when it does. We fight so that the vulnerable and beloved among us can live securely in peace. We fight so that empires cannot prey on us, whether attacking us in our cities and farms or denying us tradeways and travel and interaction with our fellow men. We fight so that self-organizing “tribes,” subject to ideological fits, cannot wage guerrilla war among us.

On the PBS News Hour today or yesterday two American think-tank people discussed the Biden administration’s new enthusiasm for promoting a negotiated settlement to the Ukraine war. (The Biden people now sound like Elon Musk, except that when Musk said it people who usually support Biden called Musk a Putin supporter. Perhaps Biden finds that he can be more flexible now that the elections are over.)

One of the think-tank people, agreeing with the Administration, said that an imperfect negotiated settlement in Ukraine is preferable to the risk of nuclear war. The other think tanker said that, on the contrary, the Ukrainians are winning, and since their cause is just we should help them to reclaim all of their land and win a complete victory. The obvious (unasked) question was, Why should we even consider taking such a risk? We may sympathize with Ukraine and supply them with weapons, but risk a major war? A possible perfect outcome isn’t worth additional fighting, death, unpredictability and geopolitical peril if a muddled-through deal that leaves everyone unhappy but puts a quick stop to the fighting is available.

The Biden people and too many members of Congress have been gratuitously bellicose towards Russia. And of course Biden pulled us out of Afghanistan in a way that could only have encouraged Putin to invade Ukraine. Our leaders have forgotten, or never knew, the first principles to which J.E. Dyer alludes.

Reprise Post; At the Tomb of Couperin – Thoughts on a Centenary

(For Veteran’s Day – a reprise post from 2018)

There is a lovely little classical piece by Maurice Ravel – Le Tombeau de Couperin, composed shortly after the end of the war, five of the six movements dedicated to the memory of an individual, and one for a pair of brothers, all close friends of the composer, every one of them fallen in a war of such ghastliness that it not only put paid to a century of optimistic progress, but barely twenty years later it birthed another and hardly less ghastly war. Maurice Ravel himself was over-age, under-tall and not in the most robust of health, but such was the sense of national emergency that he volunteered for the military anyway, eventually serving as a driver – frequently under fire and in danger. Not the usual place to find one of France’s contemporarily-famous composers, but they did things differently at the end of the 19th Century and heading all wide-eyed and optimistic into the 20th. Citizens of the intellectual and artistic ilk were not ashamed of their country, or feel obliged to apologize for a patriotic attachment, or make a show of sullen ingratitude for having been favored by the public in displaying their talents.

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Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, Et Cetera

“There are known knowns, things we know that we know;
and there are known unknowns, things that we know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns, things we do not know we don’t know.”
– Donald Rumsfeld

So last week’s post regarding the paucity of lefty anti-war protesters regarding the Ukrainian war is still going strong with comments, reminding me once again of the great sage, Donald Rumsfeld, regarding what we know, and what we know that we don’t know … and what we really don’t know that we don’t know.
What do I know for sure about the war? I know that both sides are … parsimonious with the truth about everything that is happening in the zone of conflict, to the point where a truckload of salt is necessary when reading the headlines, no matter if it’s the established print media, or blogs. What to believe? Practically nothing, save that yes, indeed, there is a war and a pretty hot one, too.
I am pretty certain that Ukraine served basically as the Biden family’s ATM. Corrupt government – yeah, that I do believe. But as corrupt than Russia itself, Nigeria, Pakistan, Belarus, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Venezuela, and other frequent fliers on ‘most corrupt evah!’ list?
I do believe that Putin’s Russia apparently went into the Ukraine believing that it would be a one-two punch and settled to the advantage of Russia within a fortnight. That the war has been going on without a resolution since February of this year argues that Putin and his generals did indeed bite off more than they could chew, seriously overestimating their own capabilities and the Ukrainian will to resist.
The modern Ukrainians are descended from the Cossacks, in culture if not in blood, who had for centuries a tradition of making war … enthusiastically. They also, if I read my history right, still hold a grudge for being subjected to the Holodomor, the mass starvation under Stalin’s harsh rule in the 1930s. And that has to cast a very long shadow, among survivors of that state-instituted horror and their descendants.

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone?*

It’s an ongoing mystery to me, in this year of 2022, with a hot war going on in the Ukraine and the Biden Administration (or the Kalorama Kominturn which apparently holds the puppet strings) apparently doing everything it can to provoke Russia into turning the war even hotter … that the usual peace activists, who have been out to protest US involvement in every conflict going since I was in the 6th grade are nowhere to be found. Seriously, where are they – the usual peace activists, with their signs and protests at the gates of military bases, at recruiting offices and at the Pentagon … where are they? Where are the activist priests and nuns, the 60’s retreads, the determined if slightly addled, who used to routinely break into the back reaches of certain air bases in the southwest, searching for munitions and aircraft that they could splash blood-red paint and slogans all over, much to the bafflement of the security police patrols who often found them wandering in the desert, armed with buckets of paint and towering self-righteousness … yes, I had acquaintances in the security police back then, who often regaled me with tales like this.
Every time that matters of a military nature with regard to the US were about to turn from a warm simmer to red hot – there they were, on the ground, fulminating in the groves of academy, or on the pages of such reliably progressive publications like Harper’s, of the NY Times, and in the streets of Washington D.C. – there were the peace activists protesting. It was like the birds flying south for the winter; regular and predictable, until now. So, where are the deeply and ostentatiously committed peaceniks now? Are they out protesting the very real possibility of a nuclear war with Russia over independence of the Ukraine? Where are the Ramsay Clarkes, Noam Chomskys, even the Cindy Sheehans of 2022, the impassioned student peace marchers?
There was always a suspicion – and depending on the year and the conflict – a well-founded suspicion that many organized peace and anti-nuclear protest groups were Soviet-funded – and if so, I do wonder if they still are. Are the Soviet checks bouncing, or are they not being sent at all, since … open war with the United States is what Putin and his allies in what remains of the Soviet Union really want? Could it be that the Biden Administration also wants an open war with Russia, as a distraction and a ready excuse to crack down on critics and political opposition? Place your bets, ladies, gentlemen and uncommitted beings. Your insights are appreciated.

* Classical reference, link here.

9/11 and the Attrition Mill

A few years after 9/11, I visited an old industrial facility which had been restored to operating condition. One of the machines there was an attrition mill. It consists of two steel discs, rotating at high speed in opposite direction and crushing the substance to be milled between them.

I immediately saw this machine as a political metaphor. Western civilization is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disc being the Islamofascist enemy and the other being certain tendencies within our own societies. The combination of these factors is much more dangerous than either by itself would be.

For example,already  in 2015 the student government at the University of Minnesota has rejected a resolution calling for annual commemorations of the 9/11 atrocity.  Why?  It was argued that such a resolution would make Muslim students feel “unsafe.” The “Students for Justice for Palestine” said that being reminded of 9/11 on its anniversary would lead to increased “Islamaphobia.”

It seems pretty clear that this sort of ridiculously deferential “sensitivity” does not make immigrants, or children and grandchildren of immigrants, more likely to assimilate.  Contrarily, it reinforces group identifies and intergroup hostilities.  And in doing so, it creates a social environment in which it is much more likely that actual terrorists–representing the upper disk of the Attrition Mill–will go unreported or even be actively supported in their ethnic/religious communities. And that, in turn, greatly increases the risks inherent in large-scale migration.

Hillary Clinton reacted to the Benghazi murders by blaming a video, going so far as to tell a grieving father that  he would have his revenge–not on the killers, oh, no, but rather we are going to have that filmmaker arrestedHere, we see the threat and actuality of Islamist violence being used as an excuse for interfering with the free-speech rights of Americans…and you can bet that if that precedent is successfully established, it will be applied with plenty of other justifications, too.

And, of course, Islamist murder threats–such as the fatwa against Salman Rushdie–have helped accustom people to keeping their mouths shut, for the sake of safety.

Related post in The American Mind:  The Woke-Islamist Axis Against Free Speech.