Category Archives: War Commentary

Seventy-Seven Years

I just noticed the date; it is one that, in Roosevelt’s words, “will live in infamy.” Seventy-seven years ago we abruptly entered the second world war when the Japanese attacked our fleet at Pearl Harbor. The passing of George H. W. Bush a week ago is a reminder that that event, along with the war itself, is passing from living memory.

Brokaw called them “The Greatest Generation.” I don’t know about that, but mine has not covered itself in glory. However I remain simultaneously hopeful for and fearful of the future. We do, for now, live in the best of times in human history.

But if you’re pessimistic, I guess you can take the Trump approach. After all, as Marx* once said, “What has posterity ever done for me?”

* Not that Marx. This one.

The War Within Jewry

Troubled observations from David Bernstein:

Mainstream Jews of moderate liberal to moderate political proclivities, a majority of American Jews, are going to have to choose between the modern-day Hellenizers whose actual religion is a pastiche of left-wing cliches, and those who are loyal to something akin to traditional Judaism. I don’t doubt the traditionalists will win in the end, if only because they are producing far more Jewish progeny per capita than are left-wing secularists. Unfortunately, in the meantime the leftists are proceeding to destroy formerly mainstream American Jewish institutions. The small denomination known as Reconstructionism, once the most intellectual branch of American Judaism, has devolved into a theological joke, much larger Reform Judaism is on the brink, and the once-respected (albeit liberal-leaning) Anti-Defamation League has become a center of partisan progressive hackery. I’ve been sounding apocalyptic about this lately, but let me repeat: a Neo-Nazi murdered eleven Jews, and the immediate and continuing reaction of a very vocal segment of American Jewry has been to use the occasion to attack fellow Jews.

They are Jewish in ancestry only.

One Century On

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Flanders Fields

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a hundred years since the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 that saw an end to the Great War. Sadly, too few are taught the impact that it had on our history because, due to the abysmal state of both lower and higher education, few are taught any meaningful history, other than how America invented slavery and what a terrible country it is. But it set the stage for the continued bloodshed and genocide in the twentieth century, and its affect on nations and borders continues to reverberate, particularly in the Middle East.

[Late-afternoon update]

The guns of November:

In sum, the war to end all war itself has not yet ended, and perhaps never will. That it was the wrong war to fight, and fought at the wrong time, is in retrospect clear. A strong Europe consisting of loosely allied but independent nation-states — the original, professed ideal of the European Union, but since drastically perverted — would have been vastly preferable to the destruction and chaos that followed. Instead, it fell to America to tilt the balance of power in 1918, then refight the war in 1941, and finally administer the nearest thing to a global peace the Western world had seen since the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.

How long that peace will last is anybody’s guess. For the sad truth of human history is that peace is the aberration and war the natural state of mankind.

Sadly, yes. The biggest flaw of the leftist philosophy is its denial of human nature and the crooked timber from which humanity is hewn. Like liberty, peace requires eternal vigilance. And the notion that we will be able to prevent war off the planet is also hopelessly naive.

[Monday-morning update]

How WW I created big government in America:

…the most profound transformation wrought in America by the Great War was in the nature of government itself. Woodrow Wilson came to the presidency in 1913 as the prince of the Progressives, and he at once began to assemble the scaffolding of a new administrative state through the Federal Reserve Act. His efforts were aided by constitutional amendments to secure the levy of a national income tax, to institute the popular election of U.S. senators, and to impose a national prohibition on alcohol. Entrance into the Great War widened the scope of administrative control, justifying the creation of a Fuel Administration, a Food Administration, a War Labor Policies Board, a War Industries Board, and a Shipping Board, which created an Emergency Fleet Corporation to build dry docks and piers, commandeer privately owned vessels, and even seize enemy ships. That control reached even into the schools: In Philadelphia, the School Mobilization Committee organized 1,300 public and parochial schoolboys as farm workers. The war, complained Randolph Bourne, licensed the Progressive state to become “what in peacetime it has vainly struggled to become — the inexorable arbiter and determinant of men’s businesses and attitudes and opinions.”

The armistice and the debacle of the League of Nations stemmed the onrush of Wilsonian Progressivism but only until a new crisis loomed in the Great Depression, when the Wilsonian banner was taken up again by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR had served in Wilson’s cabinet during the Great War, and his response to the crisis of the Depression was to treat “the task as we would treat the emergency of war.” The administrative state has marched to that beat ever since.

Woodrow Wilson was one of the worst presidents we had — a racist tyrant who hated the Constitution. And emblematic of his political historically terrible party, which continues to be terrible.

[Update a while later]

Lileks reviews an old movie:

The good news: he reduces unemployment, lifts the country out of the Depression, battles gangsters and Congress, and brings about world peace. The bad news: he’s Mussolini.

Unsurprising, given that Mussolini was held in quite high regard by the American Left (including Roosevelt) in the thirties.

[Late-morning update on the official, but not actual Veterans’ Day]

Occasional commenter, and editor and designer of my book Bill Simon reminds me that the photo of the poppies is one that he took over a decade ago. Which means that it’s not the red poppies in Europe described by the poem, but California golden poppies.

The South China Sea

China is getting more aggressive. This is a dangerous game. One wonders, of course, how much more aggressive they’d be if Hillary had won. Of course, she’d have give Xi Jinping a misspelled “Reset” button.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Three quarters of a century after they were hitting the beaches against each other, in a joint exercise, Japanese amphibious troops establish a beachhead alongside U.S. Marines from the Seventh Fleet.