Archive for the ‘Lessons learned from History’ Category
As the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, we’re only hearing one side of an argument that frankly has two sides, and curiously it would appear that the side presented, the popular politically correct side if you will, is contradicted itself on two hot stories that circulated the airwaves and print media this morning.
Watching NBC’s Today Show earlier today we first heard about how terrible it was for pastor Terry Jones to be organizing an “International Burn the Koran Day”. John Stewart and all the regular media pundits had jumped on the angle the previous evening, and now NBC was attempting to finish it off the next morning by presenting the argument most heard from leaders across the land; the proposed act by Jones was horrible. It was un-American. It was unacceptable. How dare Jones incite Islam by burning their sacred book! And yet later in the afternoon we watched a group of young men in Afghanistan burn the American flag to make their point with “Death to Christians” chants.
The very next story on NBC this morning, was how “Islam will be aroused if we don’t let them build their Mosque near Ground Zero.” It would make for a recruiting tool, just like Jones and his book burn proposal would. Our troops would be in danger if we forced them to move the Mosque in New York, so we’d best be tolerant and let them have their way. Exactly the opposite position argued only moments ago on the very same network, for the alleged same purpose of “protecting our troops.” We are to tolerate religious expression to “protect the troops,” yet only moments before the same network argued to stifle Jones and his religious expression to “protect the troops.” Nobody was willing to say “from religiously intolerant Muslims in religiously intolerant nations.”
There are two Jesus’s in the Bible. There is the meek & mild Jesus holding the children on his lap with whispers of niceties. But there’s another Jesus which we seem to not know how to take: The Jesus that stormed into the temple and overturned tables while causing quite a ruckus. Of the two, I wondered, why are we only tolerating the peaceful nice Jesus in this nation, while we sort of sweep the violent Jesus under the same overturned table? We’re not comfortable with the violent Jesus; the one willing to fight for a principal. In 2010, we tend to see that Jesus as unacceptable because he was violent and angry.
The message from today is unmistakable: Fear this enemy, react in retreat instead of strength, and do everything they want us to do because if we don’t, they might attack our troops. They might hurt us again. We very nicely asked the Iman to show sensitivity with this Mosque, and the Iman refused. Donald Trump offered to buy it for 125% of it’s value, but he was rebuffed. And yet when it comes to Christians showing sensitivity to Islam then the expectations reverse. And perhaps they should reverse, since we Christians would like to think we do things differently than do Muslims? But is it fair?
Isn’t this fear thing exactly what the Islamic goal was in attacking New York nine years ago in the first place? To make us fear them? To make us cower in corners? To make us feel unsafe within our own borders? Wasn’t that the point of their attack? Have they not won? Clearly that is what we are doing!
Think of it in historical terms. Is this the way the USA reacted towards the Japanese following Pearl Harbor in 1941? Is this how we reacted to Nazism & Fascism and other secular regimes that our fathers and grandfathers fought against and died for? Or did America have a different way of handling things in 1915 & 1939? Didn’t our fathers & grandfathers deploy a more (dare I say?) Machiavellian approach to issues of this nature? Were our fathers & grandfathers right by how they reacted, or were they wrong? Were the acts of Dresden & Hiroshima …… Machiavellian in nature, or were they actually Biblically driven? Were they actions that a Jesus who stormed the temple might take, or were they evil and uncalled for?
To take the cynical viewpoint, perhaps we should dress our soldiers patrolling the streets in Afghanistan and Iraq, in little pink skirts and replace their guns with flowers and loveliness? Would that appease the Taliban and Al Qaeda to not attack the same soldiers? Or would it incite them to attack with even more determination and vengeance? Especially if they were showing bare legs!
In both historical examples prior to our involvement, 1915 & 1939, we first tried the appeasement / pacifist approach, and in both cases the experiments failed miserably. So what some propose today is exactly the same failed experiment of appeasement and pacifism that has been long-since proven to NOT work! Tell me what historical precedent this appeasement approach demanded today, in both New York and Florida, is based on? Specific historical examples please, of this approach working? I just gave you two where it failed miserably, what are the two where it worked?
And more importantly, considering that there actually are two moods of Jesus in the New Testament, is it more Godly to hide in corners and shadows and cave in to injustice and terror, like some German citizens did when death camps were built in their neighborhoods? Or is it more Godly to stand up to intimidation with force and strong acts? And couldn’t you argue that by Jones backing off this afternoon, that he did in-fact, cave to pressure to appease the enemy rather than taking a strong stand against them? Yes it was a stand that we all seem uncomfortable with, but was it the wrong stand?
The New Testament, after all, does state very plainly in Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” In today’s America, we label that as “intolerant” or perhaps as our own religious arrogance. But those are the words of Jesus, and they are not the appeasement words that we all seem to yearn for, that welcomes all religions to the Kingdom of Heaven regardless of how those in the religions behave. Those Words do the opposite. They demand one single narrow gate to Heaven.
So was Reverend Jones wrong? Is it possible that Jones was right and all of us urging appeasement are wrong? How certain are we, which is more Godly?
On one of the SeattlePI’s threads today, we’re having a raging debate about a key component of foreign policy. I’ve long argued that World War One happened because of a situation which is disturbingly similar to what we find ourselves getting into today with Obama. A leader with a reputation of softness. One who will be very reluctant to act when problems arise internationally. So let’s join this debate with some actual study of history:
From the book Henry Cabot Lodge and the Search for an American Foreign Policy by William C Widenor:
Middle of page 140: This, in the opinion of partisans, was the cornerstone of the Rooseveltian solution. They felt he conducted foreign relations of the United States in such a matter that “the governments of other countries came to understand that he meant what he said” thus he created and impression of resolution and purpose which “raised the prestige of the United States to a height it had enver before attained.” Reputation and good faith were more important than any particular issue.
The nation should adopt for the preservation of its peace was the maintenance of a complete defense against armed aggression. In their strategy he saw a new urgency. “for today great wars are fought in a few months, while it takes years to build modern ships and case rifled guns.” But the wisdom of preparation was scarcely new to either Roosevelt or to Lodge. To understand the emotional and intellectual capital they invested in this issue, one must view the matter in it’s historical context.
As Harold and Margaret Sprout have demonstrated, the political alignments which grew out of the Jefferson-Hamilton split “foreshadowed the future politics of American naval development in general.” Roosevelt first went into print to instruct his generation in the lessons of the War of 1812, and Lodge devoted a large portion of his writing to the same purpose. They were convinced from their reading of American history was but the story of how the Jeffersonians’ gossamer theories had been “crushed in the iron grasp of facts.” The wisdom of preparation was as old as the difficulty of getting it accepted. Even in 1921 Lodge chose a Federalist example to make the point that to disarm in the midst of an armed world was, as Hamilton said in his report on Manufacturers, as idle talk about free trade in a protective world. the problem was perennial and particularly American, and the Roosevelt who, as President, wrote to Elihu Root exclaiming “Oh, if only our people would learn the need of preparedness, and of shaping things so that the decision and action can alike be instantaneous” differed little from Roosevelt the imperialist of from Roosevelt the militant World War 1 interventionist.” They never expected the problem to go away, but as long as Roosevelt was in command they could feel that some progress was being made, that the nation was slowly being led to believe in self-reliance and preparedness.
Lodge gave recognition to Roosevelt’s talents in this area whenhe secured Roosevelt’s appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and when, in 1899, he confessed that he thought the Secretaryship of War the post best suited to Roosevelt. The object of their endeavors in this, to them, absolutely crucial area of preparation was, and by force of circumstances had to be, twofold: they had to fit the defense needs of the United States to the changing international situation, but, and this was the greater task, they also had to find a means of impressing those needs upon the American people.
Now here’s the key point to this policy/theory (we’re at the bottom of page 142):
….The dual nature of this operation comes through clearly in Roosevelt’s confession in his Autobiography
Jump up to bottom of page 143:
Preparedness was also a means of effecting the nation’s other foreign policy goals. The navy, in Lodge’s view, was an important instrument of diplomacy. The nave had kept the Germans out of Venezuela and given the United States a say in the fate of China; the fleet in its voyage around the world did “more to promote peace that anything that has been done” and demonstrated the truth of Lord Nelson’s adage that his “seventy-fours” wer the best negotiators in Europe. Not even the objects of peace societies could be promoted from weakness. Roosevelt felt that he “would have been powerless to speak for peace” if it were thought that he wished peace “because the nation I represented was either unable or unwilling to fight if the need arose” Similarily Lodge was convinced that the United States could not promote disarmament from weakness and even believed large armaments were conincident with peace. Only with its own peace assured could the United States labor successfully for the peace of the world. Preparedness became in their view the sine qua non of having any American foreign policy at all. Roosevelt told his last Congress:
“No friendliness with other nations, no good will for them or by them, can take the place of national self-reliance. Fit to hold our own against the strong nations of the earth, our voice for peace will carry to the ends of the earth. Unprepared, and therefore unfit, we must sit dumb and helpless to defend ourselves, protect others, or preserve peace.”
Lodge, reviewing Roosevelt’s conduct of foreign policy, had this to answer for those who had been alarmed by his combativeness and apparent militarism. The Roosevelt solution had worked.
“There never has been an administration……when we were more perfectly at peace with all the world, nor wer our foreign relations ever in danger of producing hostilities. But this was not due in the lest to the adoption of a timid or yielding foreign policy; on the contrary, it was owing to the firmness of the President of all foreign questions …… Thus it came about that this President, dreaded at the beginning on acount of his combative spirit, received the Nobel prize in 1906 as the person who had contributed most ot the peace of the world in the preceding years, and his contribution was the result of strength and knowledge and not weakness.”
Bottom of page 165:
Such idealism, however qualified, had to operate from a base of power. This is where they parted company from so many of their countrymen. Idealism in international relations was not a self-fulfilling proposition. Little could be accomlished from a position of weakness. Roosevelt tended to view the role of the United States in world affairs in much the same manner as he regared his own domestic leadership. As he told Lodge:
“I believe in the perpeturity of the American Republic, partly because we as a people give our heartest admiration and respect, not to the mere strong man, regardless of whether he is good or bad, nor yet to the weakling of good purposes, but to the strong man who uses his strength deisinterestedly for the public good; and our greatest national asset is that of this type, the Timoleon and Hampden type, we have produced the greatest examples that the world has ever seen in Washington and Lincoln.”
Transfer the arena to international relations and you have the belief that “our cheif usefulness to humanity rests on our combining power with high purpose” The lesson of the American historical experience (the Revolution and the Civil War being the major cases in point) was the agreeable belief that moral force and physical force were complementary. Applying the same wisdom to international relations resulted in the conviction that influence came most readily to the “just man armed” and that only from that position could one really work for world peace. It was a neat little package; only by effecting a combination of the interests of the American national state with those arising from the idealism of her citizens could American foreign policy be successfully conducted and only then could world peace be ensure. A peace, it just so happened, which was also in the interest of the United States.
Top of page 180: To compound matters Wilson thereby established a pattern which plagued him in so many of his diplomatic dealings; his first notes were strong and ominous, but the subsequent ones dribbled off into futility. He threatened and then when his wishes were not met he took no action. Huerta came as a result to believe that Wilson was bluffing”
The following are excerpts from an on-going debate I was involved with in the Seattle PI about the 1911 thru 1920 arguments between Senator Henry Cabot-Lodge, a conservative scholar who felt a weak military put the nation at greater risk, vs President Woodrow Wilson, also a historical scholar, who argued the opposite and ultimately devised the League of Nations concept following the war, which ironically the United Stated declined to join due to the lobbying efforts of Senator Lodge & others.
Arguments from previous posters or other web sites are in italics. The far superior arguments made by the wise and knowing HugoC (my pi alias).
Posted in the Seattle PI on 7/13/2010 8:03 a.m.
Lets take a look at a general assessment of what caused WW1. There’s a terrific site that describes the causes & reasons at:
But let’s take a couple of key paragraphs from the situation:
Britain’s Splendid Isolation
Bismarck did not initially fear an alliance between France and Britain, for the latter was at that time in the midst of a self-declared 1870s policy of “splendid isolation”, choosing to stay above continental European politics.
If not Britain then, how about Russia and, conceivably, beaten foe Austria-Hungary?
HugoC – So right there you have Chancellor Bismarck gambling that since gathering the northern German states took a mere seven weeks to accomplish, he could do the same with the southern states. Part of that gamble was based on the below, so let’s clip this section:
One Thing Led to Another
So then, we have the following remarkable sequence of events that led inexorably to the ‘Great War’ – a name that had been touted even before the coming of the conflict.
* Austria-Hungary, unsatisfied with Serbia’s response to her ultimatum (which in the event was almost entirely placatory: however her jibbing over a couple of minor clauses gave Austria-Hungary her sought-after cue) declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914.
* Russia, bound by treaty to Serbia, announced mobilisation of its vast army in her defence, a slow process that would take around six weeks to complete.
* Germany, allied to Austria-Hungary by treaty, viewed the Russian mobilisation as an act of war against Austria-Hungary, and after scant warning declared war on Russia on 1 August.
* France, bound by treaty to Russia, found itself at war against Germany and, by extension, on Austria-Hungary following a German declaration on 3 August. Germany was swift in invading neutral Belgium so as to reach Paris by the shortest possible route.
* Britain, allied to France by a more loosely worded treaty which placed a “moral obligation” upon her to defend France, declared war against Germany on 4 August. Her reason for entering the conflict lay in another direction: she was obligated to defend neutral Belgium by the terms of a 75-year old treaty. With Germany’s invasion of Belgium on 4 August, and the Belgian King’s appeal to Britain for assistance, Britain committed herself to Belgium’s defence later that day. Like France, she was by extension also at war with Austria-Hungary. With Britain’s entry into the war, her colonies and dominions abroad variously offered military and financial assistance, and included Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.
* Unites States President Woodrow Wilson declared a US policy of absolute neutrality, an official stance that would last until 1917 when Germany’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare – which seriously threatened America’s commercial shipping (which was in any event almost entirely directed towards the Allies led by Britian and France) – forced the U.S. to finally enter the war on 6 April 1917
* Japan, honouring a military agreement with Britain, declared war on Germany on 23 August 1914. Two days later Austria-Hungary responded by declaring war on Japan.
* Italy, although allied to both Germany and Austria-Hungary, was able to avoid entering the fray by citing a clause enabling it to evade its obligations to both. In short, Italy was committed to defend Germany and Austria-Hungary only in the event of a ‘defensive’ war; arguing that their actions were ‘offensive’ she declared instead a policy of neutrality. The following year, in May 1915, she finally joined the conflict by siding with the Allies against her two former allies.
HugoC – The USA was aligned with Britain in loose form, while Britain had vowed to defend France. France held the territories that Bismarck had eyes on, thus my argument is that attacking France, if wasn’t over quickly, ultimately would bring the USA into the conflict.
Due to the Woodrow Wilson agenda, the USA’s military was wholly unprepared to respond, hence the “balance of power” was skewed towards the Axis Powers even if the USA was not involved. If the USA did become involved, then the balance of power would obviously be tipped towards the Allies since the USA was a sleeping force at that time that would dwarf any of these other powers if they ever decided to tool up.
So my argument (which I learned from professors Bridgeman & Findlay at the University of Washington) is that the USA was actually the key player in Bismarck’s decision to attack. Had the USA been tooled up and ready to go, which they were not and what TR & HCL argued, there is no possible way that Bismarck would have made the gamble to go after France. The gamble was made because the USA had yet to make he decision to be a player in the world scene and had not adequately increased the strength of their military.
Ultimately Wilson was forced into the war, and ultimately that made the USA the major power of the time. Which was not the case before the war. Hence the argument, the one that TR & HCL made time and again, is that military strength decreases the chance of war based on the “balance of power” concept. That states considering war ALWAYS make/made those judgements based on the balance of power. A strong USA would tilt the balance of power towards the Allies, thus Bismarck would have never made the decision to go after the French states had the USA been strong and tooled up. He would, and ultimately did, make the decision specifically because the USA was not tooled up in 1914.
Wilson’s decision to de-emphasize the military thus, became directly responsible for the millions upon millions killed in two World Wars that followed. Had Wilson gone with the alternative of a strong military, chances are Bismarck would have made a different decision, the decision to not go forward with imperialistic plans southward.
Followed by this post in the SeattlePI, on 7/13/2010 at 8:14 a.m.
HugoC – We saw a similar situation play out again during WW2 when Neville Chamberlain was doing his Carter/Obama routine (ie: running around the planet cutting deals & negotiating with key enemy powers/leaders who we knew we could not trust). And again, per the TR/HCL doctrine, we saw enemy military powers attacking others due to a reluctant USA that was not prepared to act.
Skip forward 57 years. George W Bush (the hated and despised “stupid” president) calculated, correctly in my opinion, that we could not repeat the mistakes of the past. Saddam had too many similarities to Bismarck & Hitler in terms of military ambition, we learned the hard way what happens when you either ignore or attempt to “contain” theses types of leaders, thus the way to deal with the situation was to enforce resolutions that Saddam was ignoring from the UN. 17 separate times.
Wilson’s entire “League of Nation” concept (later survived by today’s United Nations) was dependent on an organization that would enforce edicts. The United States ultimately failed to go along with Wilson’s concept due to the arguments of Henry Cabot Lodge, that the lessons of WW1 taught us that treaties obligating otherwise neutral member states put the world at greater risk, not less risk. TR & HCL argued the only true and proven deterrent was a member state with a very strong military, vowing for peace yet willing to use the military if threatened by competing states with no such convictions. In 2002, Bush, acting on the painful lessons of history that taught us that isolation was the WORST policy, acted accordingly.
Liberals & conservatives both, have been arguing about it ever since. And yet Bush was did what he knew he had to, knowing he was likely sacrificing his legacy, because he was familiar with the history and these arguments of Henry Cabot Lodge, far better than his critics.