Our new military era

At the Pentagon last week President Obama announced the new defense budget, which will include some cuts and will also herald a new military strategy.  Briefly, the president declared that the last decade’s wars against Islamic radicals are over.  And we will be pulling troops out of Europe and re-positioning them to face China.   David Ignatius gives details:

It was easy to miss the impact of Obama’s words: He was declaring that the era that began on Sept. 11, 2001, is over. Al-Qaeda’s top leader is dead, and most of its cadres are on the run; secret peace talks are under way with the Taliban. And across the Arab world, the United States is talking with Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist organizations that a few years ago might have been on terror lists. It’s a process that’s similar to the way Britain ended its long war with Irish terrorists, by engaging in negotiations with the IRA’s “political” wing.

What else will the shift mean? The Pacific focus inescapably means fewer resources for the traditional Atlantic partnership, symbolized by NATO. U.S. troops will be coming home from Europe, probably in larger numbers than expected. And given its recent economic jitters, Europe may feel abandoned. Will the Germans respond by drawing closer to Russia? Watch that space.

Obama’s pivot turns U.S. power toward China, and Beijing is understandably nervous. U.S. officials keep repeating that this won’t mean a policy of “containment” and that the United States accepts a rising China as a 21st-century inevitability. An Obama emissary was in Beijing last week, delivering that message of reassurance. But the Chinese aren’t stupid; they know that America is moving forces their way.

A period of rivalry and tension is ahead in the Pacific. One early test is whether the United States can expand on its recent opening to Burma. Another will be the delicate leadership transition in North Korea, which should be an area for Sino-American cooperation but might be the opposite. A third area will involve trade relations: Obama is pushing a ­“Trans-Pacific Partnership” that would create NAFTA-style links across the Pacific. But how realistic is this for an America that already has trade jitters?

As the United States changes its defense priorities, the wild cards are Pakistan and Iran, two countries powered by a seemingly inexhaustible supply of anti-Americanism. Pakistan, after years of chafing against U.S. tutelage, seems serious about reevaluating its ties, with its top general making a symbolic “we don’t need you” visit last week to the other superpower, China. For once, the United States wasn’t chasing after the Pakistanis trying to lecture and plead our way back to the status quo. That’s good, but Washington still needs a cooperative relationship with Islamabad, especially in settling the Afghanistan conflict.

As for the Iranians, they seem for the first time in years to be genuinely nervous — not because of U.S. or Israeli saber-rattling but because economic sanctions are causing a run on their currency and the beginnings of a financial panic in Tehran. And more sanctions are on the way this year. At some point, the Iranian regime will actually be in jeopardy — and it will punch back. That’s the scenario the White House must think through carefully with its allies. If the current course continues, a collision with Iran is ahead.

via Obama closes the book on the 9/11 era – The Washington Post.

On what grounds, I wonder, are we making China the enemy du jour?  Is this wise, this show of belligerence against the country to which we owe the most money?  Does this whole plan seem wise?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • MichaelZ

    We need a common enemy for Obama to demonize in order to win his election. Bush used terrorists, but Obama has already declared that unpopular war done. He needs a new enemy even if it is just an economic rival.

  • MichaelZ

    We need a common enemy for Obama to demonize in order to win his election. Bush used terrorists, but Obama has already declared that unpopular war done. He needs a new enemy even if it is just an economic rival.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    As the nineties were drawing to a close China was occupying the attention of the pentegon. In fact we were building up for a possible confrontation with them.right up.to 9/11. Wee have merely delayed dealing with.this threat for a decade while we.pursued more urgent matters.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    As the nineties were drawing to a close China was occupying the attention of the pentegon. In fact we were building up for a possible confrontation with them.right up.to 9/11. Wee have merely delayed dealing with.this threat for a decade while we.pursued more urgent matters.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    This plan is not smart though, cutting the budget while positioning for confrontation with China? Only a democrat thinks they make the military stronger by starving it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    This plan is not smart though, cutting the budget while positioning for confrontation with China? Only a democrat thinks they make the military stronger by starving it.

  • Tom Hering

    1. Africa.
    2. Strategic metals.
    3. Strait of Hormuz.
    4. Oil.

  • Tom Hering

    1. Africa.
    2. Strategic metals.
    3. Strait of Hormuz.
    4. Oil.

  • Kirk

    @Bror

    And only a Republican would think that a larger defense budget equals a stronger military.

    I think this sort of plan is long over-due. The Cold War ended 20 years ago and it’s time that our military began to reflect that. A massive force geared towards fighting a land war in northern Europe is unnecessary, expensive and sluggish in dealing with the sorts of enemies that America has faced in the 21st century. It’s wise to start cutting back on fifth generation fighter programs and decreasing the size of our standing force. A tighter budget means that the Pentagon will need to cut back on wasteful, duplicate projects and won’t be able to throw money at every contractor with a flashy Powerpoint and a mastery of buzz words.

    And I wouldn’t call this new plan an ax murder. The military still gets hundreds of billions of dollars. Far more than the GDPs of the most countries on earth. I think the DoD will be ok.

  • Kirk

    @Bror

    And only a Republican would think that a larger defense budget equals a stronger military.

    I think this sort of plan is long over-due. The Cold War ended 20 years ago and it’s time that our military began to reflect that. A massive force geared towards fighting a land war in northern Europe is unnecessary, expensive and sluggish in dealing with the sorts of enemies that America has faced in the 21st century. It’s wise to start cutting back on fifth generation fighter programs and decreasing the size of our standing force. A tighter budget means that the Pentagon will need to cut back on wasteful, duplicate projects and won’t be able to throw money at every contractor with a flashy Powerpoint and a mastery of buzz words.

    And I wouldn’t call this new plan an ax murder. The military still gets hundreds of billions of dollars. Far more than the GDPs of the most countries on earth. I think the DoD will be ok.

  • EricM

    @Kirk

    The unfortunate truth is that nuclear weapons are cheap and conventional forces are expensive. In confronting the USSR, the specter of nuclear war in the background forced both sides to seriously consider their moves. Conventional forces in Europe were seen as necessary but if it came to all out war in Europe, the idea that it could remain conventional was pure fiction.

    In the world we live in now, nuclear weapons hold less influence. Sure they are still a major concern but will the US unleash its nuclear arsenal if a bomb goes off in the Middle East? Would the US launch if a bomb exploded in the US without clear evidence as to where it came from? I doubt it in both cases.

    If we cannot use our strategic deterent to hold our antagonists at risk, we must use conventional forces. While just increasing the Defense budget does not automatically create a stronger military (the money must be spent intelligently), cutting the budget and therefore reducing troop strength, ship numbers, aircraft numbers, training, and maintenance, will certainly weaken the military.

  • EricM

    @Kirk

    The unfortunate truth is that nuclear weapons are cheap and conventional forces are expensive. In confronting the USSR, the specter of nuclear war in the background forced both sides to seriously consider their moves. Conventional forces in Europe were seen as necessary but if it came to all out war in Europe, the idea that it could remain conventional was pure fiction.

    In the world we live in now, nuclear weapons hold less influence. Sure they are still a major concern but will the US unleash its nuclear arsenal if a bomb goes off in the Middle East? Would the US launch if a bomb exploded in the US without clear evidence as to where it came from? I doubt it in both cases.

    If we cannot use our strategic deterent to hold our antagonists at risk, we must use conventional forces. While just increasing the Defense budget does not automatically create a stronger military (the money must be spent intelligently), cutting the budget and therefore reducing troop strength, ship numbers, aircraft numbers, training, and maintenance, will certainly weaken the military.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk,
    We actually were not fighting near as much during the Cold War as we have been in the last twentie years since the cold war ended. And the military isn’t single mindedly preparing for a land war in N. Europe. It hasn’t been thinking along those lines for twenty years. Though it has not neglected the threat that still emanates from Russia. Just because the cold war has ended, does not mean the threat has gone away.
    That said, I still don’t see how you try to slash the military budget to deal with the threat of China. This does not make sense. If China is a threat, then China is a huge threat, with a huge army, and considerable resources.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk,
    We actually were not fighting near as much during the Cold War as we have been in the last twentie years since the cold war ended. And the military isn’t single mindedly preparing for a land war in N. Europe. It hasn’t been thinking along those lines for twenty years. Though it has not neglected the threat that still emanates from Russia. Just because the cold war has ended, does not mean the threat has gone away.
    That said, I still don’t see how you try to slash the military budget to deal with the threat of China. This does not make sense. If China is a threat, then China is a huge threat, with a huge army, and considerable resources.

  • Stone the Crows

    Shifting your nation’s military toward another nation who is paying for its military with the interest that your nation is paying on its debt owed to that same country. What could possibly go wrong? I think President Obama is going to borrow as much as he can and then come up with a reason to renege on those loans, seeing a military build up cheaper than repaying a debt. Just because Saddam Hussein tried it first doesn’t make it a bad idea, right?

  • Stone the Crows

    Shifting your nation’s military toward another nation who is paying for its military with the interest that your nation is paying on its debt owed to that same country. What could possibly go wrong? I think President Obama is going to borrow as much as he can and then come up with a reason to renege on those loans, seeing a military build up cheaper than repaying a debt. Just because Saddam Hussein tried it first doesn’t make it a bad idea, right?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    We tried the nineties…. Clinton tried it, and even Bush tried it. It was disastrous then, and I don’t think the results will be different twenty years later.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    We tried the nineties…. Clinton tried it, and even Bush tried it. It was disastrous then, and I don’t think the results will be different twenty years later.

  • Tom Hering

    EricM @ 6, but we’re keeping all our aircraft carriers, and preserving our naval and air forces generally. Plus, we’re upping our space and cyber capabilities. The cutback is primarily in ground forces (excluding rapid response and special forces) because we don’t expect to fight a major land war with China – or to win one if we did.

  • Tom Hering

    EricM @ 6, but we’re keeping all our aircraft carriers, and preserving our naval and air forces generally. Plus, we’re upping our space and cyber capabilities. The cutback is primarily in ground forces (excluding rapid response and special forces) because we don’t expect to fight a major land war with China – or to win one if we did.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    It is interesting that the only Republican candidate with any real Foreign Affairs experience, Huntsman, who also happened to get that experience as ambassador to China, of all the candidates, is closest to Paul in his foreign policy.

    Think about that, you sabre rattling maniacs. :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    It is interesting that the only Republican candidate with any real Foreign Affairs experience, Huntsman, who also happened to get that experience as ambassador to China, of all the candidates, is closest to Paul in his foreign policy.

    Think about that, you sabre rattling maniacs. :)

  • Kirk

    @Eric,

    This is true, but our expense isn’t only locked into maintaining a standing force, it’s in developing weapons that keep us competitive with a technologically equal power. It’s something our military still strives for even though no such power exists. The F-22 and F-35 programs are prime examples. The sort of technology in those planes puts us 35 years ahead of any other power in the face of the planet, including China. At the cost of nearly $100 Billion and nearly $500 Billion, respectively, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I’m all for maintaining our edge, but that needs to be balanced with the budget realities that beset our country. Hundreds of billions of dollars for jets that won’t have competitors until the middle of the century just doesn’t seem to meet that qualification.

    I’m not saying we don’t need a military. But I feel that a military who’s budget is larger than almost every other defense budget on earth combined is excessive

    @Bror

    When you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And I know there are asymmetric thinkers in the DoD, but they’re the exception. The vast majority of our military leadership came up during the Cold War and preparing for a major, global confrontation. It’s ingrained in their thinking, through and through. In working with the military on a daily basis and as the son of a career Air Force officer, I can speak to this. Thankfully, this is changing, but it’s slow and it hasn’t seeped up to the top yet.

    And you’re right, a major land war is always a possibility, but it becomes less and less likely as the world globalizes. Addressing the “threat” of China isn’t in preparing to invade that nation or preparing for an invasion from them. It comes in exerting our influence on the Asia-Pacific region so that we call the shots on what happens over there.

  • Kirk

    @Eric,

    This is true, but our expense isn’t only locked into maintaining a standing force, it’s in developing weapons that keep us competitive with a technologically equal power. It’s something our military still strives for even though no such power exists. The F-22 and F-35 programs are prime examples. The sort of technology in those planes puts us 35 years ahead of any other power in the face of the planet, including China. At the cost of nearly $100 Billion and nearly $500 Billion, respectively, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I’m all for maintaining our edge, but that needs to be balanced with the budget realities that beset our country. Hundreds of billions of dollars for jets that won’t have competitors until the middle of the century just doesn’t seem to meet that qualification.

    I’m not saying we don’t need a military. But I feel that a military who’s budget is larger than almost every other defense budget on earth combined is excessive

    @Bror

    When you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And I know there are asymmetric thinkers in the DoD, but they’re the exception. The vast majority of our military leadership came up during the Cold War and preparing for a major, global confrontation. It’s ingrained in their thinking, through and through. In working with the military on a daily basis and as the son of a career Air Force officer, I can speak to this. Thankfully, this is changing, but it’s slow and it hasn’t seeped up to the top yet.

    And you’re right, a major land war is always a possibility, but it becomes less and less likely as the world globalizes. Addressing the “threat” of China isn’t in preparing to invade that nation or preparing for an invasion from them. It comes in exerting our influence on the Asia-Pacific region so that we call the shots on what happens over there.

  • Dennis Peskey

    There is another viewpoint to consider; the shift in military power toward the Chinese may not be confrontational but done to assist China’s government in maintaining regional stability.

    The two nations representing the greatest threats in the coming decades were highlighted as Iran and Pakistan; I concur with this assessment. When North Korea is added to this mix, well, there goes the neighborhood. Economics loves stability and abhors chaos; China has done quite well as of late in dealing with the United States economically. This trade function helps pay the bills, ensure domestic tranquility and solidify power for the ruling parties.

    It is not our nation which stands to suffer the most from the instability of the unholy threesome mentioned above. The nation most affected shares a close border with all of these – that being China. Each of these nations either currently have or will possess nuclear capability in the near future. This threat does not extend to our borders but does possess a very real contingency to the Chinese military. Combine this with the inherent political instability of each of these nations and China needs a lot more excedrine.

    Or a foil; an alternative negotiating card which possesses credibility, viability and reality. Enter the U.S. military. If we (and the Chinese) hold to any realistic expectation of containing these clowns – the “good cop/bad cop” routine is the least expensive route to pursue (and the least costly). I do believe our two nations can deal effectively with the problems ahead by this type of carrot/stick approach, so long as we keep them in the dark as to which of us (US or China) is the good guy and which is the bad guy.

    The Nixonian days of Quemoy and Matsu are gone – the proof lies on your desktop. (Start picking up items, turn them over and find out where they originated.) China has problems, problems which we can help solve for a very reasonable price which will benefit both our countries (at least with Iran and Pakistan – NK is a crap shoot). In the end, this type of strategy will enhance our international posture without requiring significant military presence globally or forsaking our current allies in the pacific. Our European allies can sort though their own economic mess. All subsidies should come with an ending date and that date is upon us.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    There is another viewpoint to consider; the shift in military power toward the Chinese may not be confrontational but done to assist China’s government in maintaining regional stability.

    The two nations representing the greatest threats in the coming decades were highlighted as Iran and Pakistan; I concur with this assessment. When North Korea is added to this mix, well, there goes the neighborhood. Economics loves stability and abhors chaos; China has done quite well as of late in dealing with the United States economically. This trade function helps pay the bills, ensure domestic tranquility and solidify power for the ruling parties.

    It is not our nation which stands to suffer the most from the instability of the unholy threesome mentioned above. The nation most affected shares a close border with all of these – that being China. Each of these nations either currently have or will possess nuclear capability in the near future. This threat does not extend to our borders but does possess a very real contingency to the Chinese military. Combine this with the inherent political instability of each of these nations and China needs a lot more excedrine.

    Or a foil; an alternative negotiating card which possesses credibility, viability and reality. Enter the U.S. military. If we (and the Chinese) hold to any realistic expectation of containing these clowns – the “good cop/bad cop” routine is the least expensive route to pursue (and the least costly). I do believe our two nations can deal effectively with the problems ahead by this type of carrot/stick approach, so long as we keep them in the dark as to which of us (US or China) is the good guy and which is the bad guy.

    The Nixonian days of Quemoy and Matsu are gone – the proof lies on your desktop. (Start picking up items, turn them over and find out where they originated.) China has problems, problems which we can help solve for a very reasonable price which will benefit both our countries (at least with Iran and Pakistan – NK is a crap shoot). In the end, this type of strategy will enhance our international posture without requiring significant military presence globally or forsaking our current allies in the pacific. Our European allies can sort though their own economic mess. All subsidies should come with an ending date and that date is upon us.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Tom Hering

    “… the proof lies on your desktop. (Start picking up items, turn them over and find out where they originated.)” – Dennis @ 13.

    Better yet, take them apart and determine the origin of the rare but absolutely essential materials they’re made of. Then look at common things like car parts, drill bits, ball bearings, etc., etc., etc. Life as we know it is absolutely dependent on a region of the world that China has been focusing on. Non-militarily. So far.

  • Tom Hering

    “… the proof lies on your desktop. (Start picking up items, turn them over and find out where they originated.)” – Dennis @ 13.

    Better yet, take them apart and determine the origin of the rare but absolutely essential materials they’re made of. Then look at common things like car parts, drill bits, ball bearings, etc., etc., etc. Life as we know it is absolutely dependent on a region of the world that China has been focusing on. Non-militarily. So far.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I’m not saying we don’t need a military. But I feel that a military who’s budget is larger than almost every other defense budget on earth combined is excessive.”

    The hilarity is that we are allow our territory to be invaded all along the southern border. Worlds most expensive military can’t keep out the illiterate invaders!! We are pretty pathetic at identifying threats.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I’m not saying we don’t need a military. But I feel that a military who’s budget is larger than almost every other defense budget on earth combined is excessive.”

    The hilarity is that we are allow our territory to be invaded all along the southern border. Worlds most expensive military can’t keep out the illiterate invaders!! We are pretty pathetic at identifying threats.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Let me rephrase that.

    The country with the world’s most expensive military WON’T keep out the illiterate invaders!!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Let me rephrase that.

    The country with the world’s most expensive military WON’T keep out the illiterate invaders!!

  • Tom Hering

    I see your own literacy is improving from one comment to another, sg. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    I see your own literacy is improving from one comment to another, sg. :-D

  • EricM

    Tom @10

    If you will allow me to use a catch phrase briefly – aircraft can’t take and hold ground and neither can ships.

    The US did cut short the F-22 and may not buy as many F-35s as originally planned. Future aircraft carriers are constantly being discussed (see the US Naval Institute Proceedings magazine – just about any issue in the last year or so). The long lead times and long lives of these ships makes them difficult to dispose of or create in short periods of time.

    Ground forces will be needed in any conflict. Reducing the number of combat forces (as opposed to logistical and procurement) means that we have less ability to handle contingencies.

  • EricM

    Tom @10

    If you will allow me to use a catch phrase briefly – aircraft can’t take and hold ground and neither can ships.

    The US did cut short the F-22 and may not buy as many F-35s as originally planned. Future aircraft carriers are constantly being discussed (see the US Naval Institute Proceedings magazine – just about any issue in the last year or so). The long lead times and long lives of these ships makes them difficult to dispose of or create in short periods of time.

    Ground forces will be needed in any conflict. Reducing the number of combat forces (as opposed to logistical and procurement) means that we have less ability to handle contingencies.

  • EricM

    Kirk @12

    I share your concerns with the high cost of many defense programs. If you want a good read on this topic see “The Pentagon Paradox” which is about the creation of the F-18.

    That said, you cannot assume that what is built today is truly that far ahead of other countries. Examples abound in history of intelligence sources being incorrect in terms of the technology capability of other countries. So I do not put stock in estimates of a 35 year lead in technology. Keep in mind that other countries do not need to develop their own technology when they can steal it!

  • EricM

    Kirk @12

    I share your concerns with the high cost of many defense programs. If you want a good read on this topic see “The Pentagon Paradox” which is about the creation of the F-18.

    That said, you cannot assume that what is built today is truly that far ahead of other countries. Examples abound in history of intelligence sources being incorrect in terms of the technology capability of other countries. So I do not put stock in estimates of a 35 year lead in technology. Keep in mind that other countries do not need to develop their own technology when they can steal it!

  • Bob

    It’s Obama’s fault.

  • Bob

    It’s Obama’s fault.

  • Tom Hering

    Eric @ 18, yes, less ability to handle ALL contingencies. Like a major land war in the East. (Could we win one? Even if we fattened our forces instead of streamlining them?) Or two land wars, plus assorted other “actions,” all at once in the Middle East and Africa.

    Don’t worry, though. Once conservatives win the final victory at home, and we get rid of entitlement programs, we’ll have billions available to fund all sorts of adventures. Or so some seem to hope and believe. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Eric @ 18, yes, less ability to handle ALL contingencies. Like a major land war in the East. (Could we win one? Even if we fattened our forces instead of streamlining them?) Or two land wars, plus assorted other “actions,” all at once in the Middle East and Africa.

    Don’t worry, though. Once conservatives win the final victory at home, and we get rid of entitlement programs, we’ll have billions available to fund all sorts of adventures. Or so some seem to hope and believe. :-D

  • Joe

    I would just like to point out that this refocusing of the military is exactly what Rums field tried to do. This was the plan – no more two ground war focus, instead rely on technology, air power and ship based fire power.

    When we invaded Iraq we saw how this works. We kicked the snot out of Iraq really fast, toppled the gov’t and completely destroyed their infrastructure. Militarily it was amazing.

    It was also a disaster because we could not stabilize the country. We did not have enough boots on the ground to effectively control the territory we had just tossed into chaos. You would think we would learn form this. We might not need the ground troops to win the invasion but we sure as heck need them to secure the victory and win the war.

    This shift in focus is really a shift in objectives. This focus says our goal is simply to destroy our enemies without concern or care for what happens next. I am not a huge fan of nation building but it comes with the decision to destroy a nation.

  • Joe

    I would just like to point out that this refocusing of the military is exactly what Rums field tried to do. This was the plan – no more two ground war focus, instead rely on technology, air power and ship based fire power.

    When we invaded Iraq we saw how this works. We kicked the snot out of Iraq really fast, toppled the gov’t and completely destroyed their infrastructure. Militarily it was amazing.

    It was also a disaster because we could not stabilize the country. We did not have enough boots on the ground to effectively control the territory we had just tossed into chaos. You would think we would learn form this. We might not need the ground troops to win the invasion but we sure as heck need them to secure the victory and win the war.

    This shift in focus is really a shift in objectives. This focus says our goal is simply to destroy our enemies without concern or care for what happens next. I am not a huge fan of nation building but it comes with the decision to destroy a nation.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Ground forces will be needed in any conflict.”

    I admit I am no military genius, but I really don’t understand this.

    Bomb them until they fear extermination and beg for mercy. Then when they are in utter despair, sit down and talk reasonably with them. It worked against the Japanese, and they were a very confident and determined enemy. Why can’t it work now with virtually no casualties on our side? I mean the whole point is to win, right? I think we would get a lot more respect with this approach.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Ground forces will be needed in any conflict.”

    I admit I am no military genius, but I really don’t understand this.

    Bomb them until they fear extermination and beg for mercy. Then when they are in utter despair, sit down and talk reasonably with them. It worked against the Japanese, and they were a very confident and determined enemy. Why can’t it work now with virtually no casualties on our side? I mean the whole point is to win, right? I think we would get a lot more respect with this approach.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “This focus says our goal is simply to destroy our enemies without concern or care for what happens next. I am not a huge fan of nation building but it comes with the decision to destroy a nation.”

    Really? I don’t recall the Babylonians rebuilding Israel. They just hauled off the best ones as slaves and left the rest in the dust.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “This focus says our goal is simply to destroy our enemies without concern or care for what happens next. I am not a huge fan of nation building but it comes with the decision to destroy a nation.”

    Really? I don’t recall the Babylonians rebuilding Israel. They just hauled off the best ones as slaves and left the rest in the dust.

  • Norman Teigen

    Yesterday in this space was a discussion of conservative social thought. The author of the blog seemed to endorse as a valid source of thought “religious (particularly Catholic) social thought.”

    Does this ‘Catholic social thought’ have any bearing on the discussion on the military question raised today? Is the religious social thought of Catholicism and Evangelical Dobsonism limited to social questions?

    I am a conservative Lutheran.

  • Norman Teigen

    Yesterday in this space was a discussion of conservative social thought. The author of the blog seemed to endorse as a valid source of thought “religious (particularly Catholic) social thought.”

    Does this ‘Catholic social thought’ have any bearing on the discussion on the military question raised today? Is the religious social thought of Catholicism and Evangelical Dobsonism limited to social questions?

    I am a conservative Lutheran.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Keep in mind that other countries do not need to develop their own technology when they can steal it!”

    Right!

    And if it doesn’t exist, they can’t steal it!

    win, win, win

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Keep in mind that other countries do not need to develop their own technology when they can steal it!”

    Right!

    And if it doesn’t exist, they can’t steal it!

    win, win, win

  • Joe

    sg – unless we plan to start enslaving our enemies we have to have a plan for after we destroy their country.

  • Joe

    sg – unless we plan to start enslaving our enemies we have to have a plan for after we destroy their country.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Bror,

    You are spot on.

    Jimmy Carter-ism will only make us weaker.

    Tax and spend and cut the military. The calling cards of the Democratic Party.

    .

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Bror,

    You are spot on.

    Jimmy Carter-ism will only make us weaker.

    Tax and spend and cut the military. The calling cards of the Democratic Party.

    .

  • Tom Hering

    Actually, after Carter saw how the Soviet Union was increasing its influence and capabilities, he called for a significant increase in military spending for fiscal year 1979.

  • Tom Hering

    Actually, after Carter saw how the Soviet Union was increasing its influence and capabilities, he called for a significant increase in military spending for fiscal year 1979.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    That’s a new one on me, Tom. But I thank you for the info.

    But he got smart a little too late.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    That’s a new one on me, Tom. But I thank you for the info.

    But he got smart a little too late.

  • Kirk

    @sg

    Ah, the famous Babylonian foreign policy! One wonders why we haven’t modeled our own strategy after it all along! Oh, wait. Babylon was an immoral imperialist society. That’s why.

  • Kirk

    @sg

    Ah, the famous Babylonian foreign policy! One wonders why we haven’t modeled our own strategy after it all along! Oh, wait. Babylon was an immoral imperialist society. That’s why.

  • SKPeterson

    Norman @ 25 – If I had to come up with the “standard” Roman Catholic social thought position on foreign military adventurism, it would be the concept of “just war” theory outlined by Augustine and others. I would also argue that it is also a fairly well-understood concept in Lutheranism. For what it is worth, Pr. Todd Wilken in an Issues, Etc podcast dated 01/06 responded to a listener’s critique of him speaking with Roman Catholic social commentator Colleen Carol Campbell and he said he did so “because they (the Roman Catholics) make some of the best social commentary.” I don’t think you’ll find too many LCMS pastors more conservative, or rather traditional, than Pr. Wilken.

    Now, as to your larger question, how does refocusing our attention towards the Pacific follow lines of social thought? I’m not sure. But, I don’t think that going to war with the express aim of “destroying them completely” necessarily passes most of the tenets of just war theory. I also think there are significant problems with the “we have to rebuild it or we lose the war since we’ve destroyed the country” theory of warfare outlined by Joe. It implies that any war must always be total and that any enemy government must always be eliminated and a new one put in place. While we may not be carting off slaves to Washington, D.C., we’ve pretty much adopted the rest of the pagan military and foreign policy tactics used by the Babylonians, the Persians, the Macedonians, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Mongols and the Turks.

    For a few good modern examples, the Japanese were just putting troops on the ground to secure victory and bring peace to Nanking. The Russians simply did the same thing to Koenigsburg and the Karelia.

  • SKPeterson

    Norman @ 25 – If I had to come up with the “standard” Roman Catholic social thought position on foreign military adventurism, it would be the concept of “just war” theory outlined by Augustine and others. I would also argue that it is also a fairly well-understood concept in Lutheranism. For what it is worth, Pr. Todd Wilken in an Issues, Etc podcast dated 01/06 responded to a listener’s critique of him speaking with Roman Catholic social commentator Colleen Carol Campbell and he said he did so “because they (the Roman Catholics) make some of the best social commentary.” I don’t think you’ll find too many LCMS pastors more conservative, or rather traditional, than Pr. Wilken.

    Now, as to your larger question, how does refocusing our attention towards the Pacific follow lines of social thought? I’m not sure. But, I don’t think that going to war with the express aim of “destroying them completely” necessarily passes most of the tenets of just war theory. I also think there are significant problems with the “we have to rebuild it or we lose the war since we’ve destroyed the country” theory of warfare outlined by Joe. It implies that any war must always be total and that any enemy government must always be eliminated and a new one put in place. While we may not be carting off slaves to Washington, D.C., we’ve pretty much adopted the rest of the pagan military and foreign policy tactics used by the Babylonians, the Persians, the Macedonians, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Mongols and the Turks.

    For a few good modern examples, the Japanese were just putting troops on the ground to secure victory and bring peace to Nanking. The Russians simply did the same thing to Koenigsburg and the Karelia.

  • DonS

    For perspective, here is a chart showing U.S. defense spending, in constant 2005 dollars, since just prior to WWII:

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/06/~/media/Images/Reports/2010/b2418_chart1_1/b2418_chart1_2.ashx

    Here is a historical record of the size of the U.S. Navy:
    http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org9-4.htm#2000

    Looking at historical norms for spending, clearly we are still on the high side. One reason for this is the recent wars, obviously. Another is that it is expensive to field an all-volunteer, career military force of some 1.5 million. We talked about this before, in the context of showing how misleading it is to compare U.S. defense spending to that of countries like China, which pay a pitiful fraction per man in pay and benefits. But, clearly, once we are fully disengaged from all of our “hot” wars, there is room to cut defense spending, by shrinking the ground forces, primarily.

    As far as “moving on” China, don’t believe it. Our naval forces are shrinking — we will be down to 10 carrier task groups later this year, from a recent high of 15 twenty years ago. We have about 285 active ships today — down from almost 600 twenty years ago. The next generation of carriers — six of them, which will replace seven of our existing carriers in future years, are less than half the size of our current Nimitz class carriers. In short, there is no force to project against China. What Obama is saying is that we are not going to cut in the Pacific like he plans to do in the Atlantic.

  • DonS

    For perspective, here is a chart showing U.S. defense spending, in constant 2005 dollars, since just prior to WWII:

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/06/~/media/Images/Reports/2010/b2418_chart1_1/b2418_chart1_2.ashx

    Here is a historical record of the size of the U.S. Navy:
    http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org9-4.htm#2000

    Looking at historical norms for spending, clearly we are still on the high side. One reason for this is the recent wars, obviously. Another is that it is expensive to field an all-volunteer, career military force of some 1.5 million. We talked about this before, in the context of showing how misleading it is to compare U.S. defense spending to that of countries like China, which pay a pitiful fraction per man in pay and benefits. But, clearly, once we are fully disengaged from all of our “hot” wars, there is room to cut defense spending, by shrinking the ground forces, primarily.

    As far as “moving on” China, don’t believe it. Our naval forces are shrinking — we will be down to 10 carrier task groups later this year, from a recent high of 15 twenty years ago. We have about 285 active ships today — down from almost 600 twenty years ago. The next generation of carriers — six of them, which will replace seven of our existing carriers in future years, are less than half the size of our current Nimitz class carriers. In short, there is no force to project against China. What Obama is saying is that we are not going to cut in the Pacific like he plans to do in the Atlantic.

  • Tom Hering

    China and Pakistan can both play the tactical nuke card. So how much can conventional U.S. ground forces really do – or even dare to try – in their part of the world?

  • Tom Hering

    China and Pakistan can both play the tactical nuke card. So how much can conventional U.S. ground forces really do – or even dare to try – in their part of the world?

  • SKPeterson

    That is a very good question, Tom. Add India to your list. For almost every other nation in Asia, we would likely be fighting a defensive war. I should also add, that it is not clear if the Administration is focusing on Asia as a whole, or more on East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim.

    The implication is that this new strategic refocus is on China, but we don’t hear much about India or Russia (which is as much an Asian power as it is European) or Indonesia. I’m particularly interested in Japan and what role we see that nation playing in the region. There is also Australia. Interestingly, it appears that the refocus on the Pacific is still following the old WW2 playbook – Europe is a ground theater and the Pacific is a naval theater. Yet, we have an almost complete disregard for South America or Africa. Granted, South America is pretty placid and, despite Venezuela, not entirely inimical to those vague U.S. “interests.”

  • SKPeterson

    That is a very good question, Tom. Add India to your list. For almost every other nation in Asia, we would likely be fighting a defensive war. I should also add, that it is not clear if the Administration is focusing on Asia as a whole, or more on East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim.

    The implication is that this new strategic refocus is on China, but we don’t hear much about India or Russia (which is as much an Asian power as it is European) or Indonesia. I’m particularly interested in Japan and what role we see that nation playing in the region. There is also Australia. Interestingly, it appears that the refocus on the Pacific is still following the old WW2 playbook – Europe is a ground theater and the Pacific is a naval theater. Yet, we have an almost complete disregard for South America or Africa. Granted, South America is pretty placid and, despite Venezuela, not entirely inimical to those vague U.S. “interests.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk@31:

    While the United States is a moral imperialist society, huh?

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk@31:

    While the United States is a moral imperialist society, huh?

  • Cincinnatus

    Anyway, I don’t think sg was advocating a policy of mass destruction and enslavement.

    Rather, successful empires didn’t concern themselves with nation-building and ensuring that the peoples and regimes they destroyed were stable and happy after they left–as if that were even possible. Look at the comments in this very thread: our technological superiority allowed us to destroy Iraq’s infrastructure easily, bringing a quick end to the war; and yet these same comments are complaining that we didn’t have a good plan to rebuild the infrastructure. Am I missing something here? When are we going to relieve ourselves of the farcical notion that we can buy international friends by building stuff for them after systematically and indiscriminately destroying their entire physical (and, often, political and social) world? And the whole time, of course, we pretend we’re not imperialists at all. Just a friendly, peaceful democracy.

    Anyway, I’m in favor of Obama’s policy here, though it doesn’t go nearly far enough. And, while I was once a professed believer in the alleged threats posed by China, I’m no longer certain I see the value in an intentional posture of belligerence.

  • Cincinnatus

    Anyway, I don’t think sg was advocating a policy of mass destruction and enslavement.

    Rather, successful empires didn’t concern themselves with nation-building and ensuring that the peoples and regimes they destroyed were stable and happy after they left–as if that were even possible. Look at the comments in this very thread: our technological superiority allowed us to destroy Iraq’s infrastructure easily, bringing a quick end to the war; and yet these same comments are complaining that we didn’t have a good plan to rebuild the infrastructure. Am I missing something here? When are we going to relieve ourselves of the farcical notion that we can buy international friends by building stuff for them after systematically and indiscriminately destroying their entire physical (and, often, political and social) world? And the whole time, of course, we pretend we’re not imperialists at all. Just a friendly, peaceful democracy.

    Anyway, I’m in favor of Obama’s policy here, though it doesn’t go nearly far enough. And, while I was once a professed believer in the alleged threats posed by China, I’m no longer certain I see the value in an intentional posture of belligerence.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnatus @ 26 : Kirk was being sarcastic…..

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnatus @ 26 : Kirk was being sarcastic…..

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@38: Not in the way you’re thinking? Based on other comments I’ve seen by Kirk in the past, he maintains no quarrel with interventionist policies in general, and he might even deny the imperial status of the United States.

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@38: Not in the way you’re thinking? Based on other comments I’ve seen by Kirk in the past, he maintains no quarrel with interventionist policies in general, and he might even deny the imperial status of the United States.

  • Joe

    SKP – you raise a good point that there may be another way to wage war other than total destruction of the enemy. I don’t disagree but I do think that would work only in an actual defensive war – kicking an invading army out of our (or friend’s) country. But we don’t really fight those kinds of wars any more because no one invades us. Instead we seem to be invading them. My comments re: the need for troops to police the chaos our invasion creates was made in this context. It is what we do now (for better or worse) and (short of not invading in the first instance) the best course of action is to to have the necessary forces to secure the dominated territory after its destruction.

    Cincy – I don’t think it will necessarily make us any friends, instead it will make them subject to our control – which is better than having them shooting at us for a decade after the invasion.

  • Joe

    SKP – you raise a good point that there may be another way to wage war other than total destruction of the enemy. I don’t disagree but I do think that would work only in an actual defensive war – kicking an invading army out of our (or friend’s) country. But we don’t really fight those kinds of wars any more because no one invades us. Instead we seem to be invading them. My comments re: the need for troops to police the chaos our invasion creates was made in this context. It is what we do now (for better or worse) and (short of not invading in the first instance) the best course of action is to to have the necessary forces to secure the dominated territory after its destruction.

    Cincy – I don’t think it will necessarily make us any friends, instead it will make them subject to our control – which is better than having them shooting at us for a decade after the invasion.

  • Cincinnatus

    Joe@40: How are they going to shoot at us for a decade after the invasion if we just leave after the invasion? Iraq is a third world nation. SCUD missiles and AK-47s can’t cross the Atlantic.

    [Better yet, why invade them in the first place, etc.]

  • Cincinnatus

    Joe@40: How are they going to shoot at us for a decade after the invasion if we just leave after the invasion? Iraq is a third world nation. SCUD missiles and AK-47s can’t cross the Atlantic.

    [Better yet, why invade them in the first place, etc.]

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Oh, wait. Babylon was an immoral imperialist society. That’s why.”

    So we already have a lot in common!
    :D

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Oh, wait. Babylon was an immoral imperialist society. That’s why.”

    So we already have a lot in common!
    :D

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@41), so you’re suggesting that our war policy should intentionally create failed states where people hate us?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@41), so you’re suggesting that our war policy should intentionally create failed states where people hate us?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@43:

    No, I’m suggesting that our war policy shouldn’t involve invading countries that already hate us and then stay there for ten years attempting to build structures and governments to “make” them love us–and then leave with them still hating us in a failed state.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@43:

    No, I’m suggesting that our war policy shouldn’t involve invading countries that already hate us and then stay there for ten years attempting to build structures and governments to “make” them love us–and then leave with them still hating us in a failed state.

  • Cincinnatus

    And, tODD, I’m premising my last comment on the assumption that “nation-building” is effectively impossible. There is no such thing as a viable “plan” for rebuilding Iraq or any other nation we happen to invade. Japan was a special case that owed more to the Japanese themselves than to MacArthur’s efforts in writing their constitution.

    Thus, my earlier point was simply that critiquing the Iraq effort for lacking a coherent plan for rebuilding Iraq’s government and infrastructure is stupid. All such efforts are wastes of time, money, and blood. It would have been a failed state if we had left nine years ago, and it’s likely to be a failed state after we “leave” at the end of the year–$1 trillion deeper in debt.

    But if anyone had asked me, we wouldn’t have a “war policy” that includes preemptive strikes on “threatening” nations and endless intervention in the affairs of various tinpot states.

  • Cincinnatus

    And, tODD, I’m premising my last comment on the assumption that “nation-building” is effectively impossible. There is no such thing as a viable “plan” for rebuilding Iraq or any other nation we happen to invade. Japan was a special case that owed more to the Japanese themselves than to MacArthur’s efforts in writing their constitution.

    Thus, my earlier point was simply that critiquing the Iraq effort for lacking a coherent plan for rebuilding Iraq’s government and infrastructure is stupid. All such efforts are wastes of time, money, and blood. It would have been a failed state if we had left nine years ago, and it’s likely to be a failed state after we “leave” at the end of the year–$1 trillion deeper in debt.

    But if anyone had asked me, we wouldn’t have a “war policy” that includes preemptive strikes on “threatening” nations and endless intervention in the affairs of various tinpot states.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@44), I assume we can take it as a given that any country we invade will hate us, so that’s not the issue. The question is, given that we have invaded a country, what should we do with it?

    I suppose one could answer with “don’t invade countries, and the question becomes moot”. Perhaps that’s your response. Most of the time, it would be mine.

    But are you suggesting that “bomb, dismantle, exit” would have been the best course of action in Afghanistan and Iraq (assuming that action was going to be taken in those countries)? Are there historical examples of this “bomb ‘em all; let the survivors sort it out” strategy working to the benefit of the invading country?

    Because, much as I detest our current military ubiquity, I can at least concede the counter-arguments that Japan and Germany provide to your position here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@44), I assume we can take it as a given that any country we invade will hate us, so that’s not the issue. The question is, given that we have invaded a country, what should we do with it?

    I suppose one could answer with “don’t invade countries, and the question becomes moot”. Perhaps that’s your response. Most of the time, it would be mine.

    But are you suggesting that “bomb, dismantle, exit” would have been the best course of action in Afghanistan and Iraq (assuming that action was going to be taken in those countries)? Are there historical examples of this “bomb ‘em all; let the survivors sort it out” strategy working to the benefit of the invading country?

    Because, much as I detest our current military ubiquity, I can at least concede the counter-arguments that Japan and Germany provide to your position here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I didn’t see your post (@45) before I wrote my comment (@46), which is now largely rendered awkward.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I didn’t see your post (@45) before I wrote my comment (@46), which is now largely rendered awkward.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@46:

    re. “bomb, dismantle, exit” Why not? Given the actual “shock and awe,” invasion, and all the rest, how has our persistent presence been better? Really, the notion that all we lacked was the proper technique for nation-building, or that ten years and a few thousand more bodies was necessary, is totally unfalsifiable. If the goal was to eliminate Saddam, we achieved that. What harm can a bunch of tribal, impoverished thugs do if we just retreat back to where we came from 8,000 (or whatever) miles away? Of course, if the goal was to topple Saddam and then erect a modern, constitutional, democratic government in a deeply heterogeneous society with no interest in democracy or even in the idea of “Iraq” itself, then perhaps we need to reevaluate our goals. The only way, in my view, that nation-building could be successful in the long term is if the invader dispenses with the “nation” pretense and decides to “build” a colony. History contains examples of two scenarios: the invader wasting the enemy and salting the earth, which almost always works, and the invader conquering and “enslaving” the enemy (i.e., absorbing the territory as a colony, puppet regime, etc.). There is no in-between of salting the earth and then withdrawing, leaving behind a happy populace and a stable government well-disposed toward you.

    Japan and Germany do not present adequate counterexamples. At best, Japan is an outlier, the exception that proves the rule. To Japan, I could counterpose Cuba, the Philippines, much of Africa and Latin America, the Balkans, a good portion of the Middle East, etc.

    But we didn’t rebuild Germany. Germany rebuilt Germany. We threw a bunch of money and supplies their way, and we ensured that they adhered to various treaty obligations. But the Germans themselves, aside from being a “civilized” homogenous nation-state, had some experience with self-governance, constitution-making, democracy, and, in general, political life in the modern world. They also, as a rule, didn’t consider us to be the “Great Satan.”

    Anyway, this is a huge topic. Probably can’t be addressed in these comments. But let’s just put it this way: we shouldn’t have invaded, but since we did, we shouldn’t have stayed. And Afghanistan? That should have been a police action.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@46:

    re. “bomb, dismantle, exit” Why not? Given the actual “shock and awe,” invasion, and all the rest, how has our persistent presence been better? Really, the notion that all we lacked was the proper technique for nation-building, or that ten years and a few thousand more bodies was necessary, is totally unfalsifiable. If the goal was to eliminate Saddam, we achieved that. What harm can a bunch of tribal, impoverished thugs do if we just retreat back to where we came from 8,000 (or whatever) miles away? Of course, if the goal was to topple Saddam and then erect a modern, constitutional, democratic government in a deeply heterogeneous society with no interest in democracy or even in the idea of “Iraq” itself, then perhaps we need to reevaluate our goals. The only way, in my view, that nation-building could be successful in the long term is if the invader dispenses with the “nation” pretense and decides to “build” a colony. History contains examples of two scenarios: the invader wasting the enemy and salting the earth, which almost always works, and the invader conquering and “enslaving” the enemy (i.e., absorbing the territory as a colony, puppet regime, etc.). There is no in-between of salting the earth and then withdrawing, leaving behind a happy populace and a stable government well-disposed toward you.

    Japan and Germany do not present adequate counterexamples. At best, Japan is an outlier, the exception that proves the rule. To Japan, I could counterpose Cuba, the Philippines, much of Africa and Latin America, the Balkans, a good portion of the Middle East, etc.

    But we didn’t rebuild Germany. Germany rebuilt Germany. We threw a bunch of money and supplies their way, and we ensured that they adhered to various treaty obligations. But the Germans themselves, aside from being a “civilized” homogenous nation-state, had some experience with self-governance, constitution-making, democracy, and, in general, political life in the modern world. They also, as a rule, didn’t consider us to be the “Great Satan.”

    Anyway, this is a huge topic. Probably can’t be addressed in these comments. But let’s just put it this way: we shouldn’t have invaded, but since we did, we shouldn’t have stayed. And Afghanistan? That should have been a police action.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@48) asked:

    What harm can a bunch of tribal, impoverished thugs do if we just retreat back to where we came from 8,000 (or whatever) miles away?

    It’s not an answer I’m completely committed to, but, I don’t know, wasn’t a failed state of “tribal, impoverished thugs” something of a problem for us ca. 2001?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@48) asked:

    What harm can a bunch of tribal, impoverished thugs do if we just retreat back to where we came from 8,000 (or whatever) miles away?

    It’s not an answer I’m completely committed to, but, I don’t know, wasn’t a failed state of “tribal, impoverished thugs” something of a problem for us ca. 2001?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@49:

    Were they operating on behalf of a nation? No.

    And, whether they were or not, what sort of military action could have stopped them? Indeed, it was precisely decades of military action that had upset them in the first place. No “war policy” can stop terrorism.

    You know what would have stopped them? Locked and reinforced doors to the cockpit.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@49:

    Were they operating on behalf of a nation? No.

    And, whether they were or not, what sort of military action could have stopped them? Indeed, it was precisely decades of military action that had upset them in the first place. No “war policy” can stop terrorism.

    You know what would have stopped them? Locked and reinforced doors to the cockpit.

  • Cincinnatus

    To zoom out again, I’d like anyone critiquing the Administration’s proposed defense cuts to name even one current or likely threat to the United States that necessitates a massive standing army of conventional forces.

    I can’t think of one, but based on my general opinion on matters of defense, my vision could be obscured here. I’d like to know. Why should I be opposed to reducing the numeric size of our ground forces?

  • Cincinnatus

    To zoom out again, I’d like anyone critiquing the Administration’s proposed defense cuts to name even one current or likely threat to the United States that necessitates a massive standing army of conventional forces.

    I can’t think of one, but based on my general opinion on matters of defense, my vision could be obscured here. I’d like to know. Why should I be opposed to reducing the numeric size of our ground forces?

  • kerner

    sg @23, et seq.:

    The United States has a long history of aversion to terror bombing, going back to WWII. During the Air campaign against Germany, the British, who had been terror bombed themselves, were all for night bombing raids designed to terrorize the German population, while the USA Air Corps restricted itself to daylight bombing raids that attacked targets of military significance (which were a lot more dangerous, but allowed us to, by daylight, visually discern what we were aiming at). Only at the end of the war, when time and the prospect of extreme casualties were becoming a factor, did the US abandon this approach in favor of terror bombings such as the two A-bomb attacks, but also the firebombing of Dresden, and other German cities.

    If you want to know why we do this, I believe it is because Americans like to think we are morally better than other cultures. We can (and Cincinnatus undoubtedly will) argue all day long whether we are really morally superior, but I think it is undeniable that we want to believe we are.

    The whole concept of “war crimes” is basically a manifestation of this attitude. Deep down, Americans realize that terror bombing by the US at Hiroshima is fundamentally the same act as blowing up an Israeli pizza parlor full of teen agers: the killing of non-combatants by combatants for the purpose of terrorizing the non-combatants and getting them to “beg for mercy”, as you put it. When combatants intentionally (not collaterally, resulting from an attack on a military target) kill civilians, we consider that to be intrinsically morally wrong. That doesn’t mean we don’t rationalize it sometimes, but most of the time, we try to avoid it, even if it means we suffer casualties.

    As I say, many, including some here, would consider this attitude idealistic nonsense. But the ideal prevails, just the same.

  • kerner

    sg @23, et seq.:

    The United States has a long history of aversion to terror bombing, going back to WWII. During the Air campaign against Germany, the British, who had been terror bombed themselves, were all for night bombing raids designed to terrorize the German population, while the USA Air Corps restricted itself to daylight bombing raids that attacked targets of military significance (which were a lot more dangerous, but allowed us to, by daylight, visually discern what we were aiming at). Only at the end of the war, when time and the prospect of extreme casualties were becoming a factor, did the US abandon this approach in favor of terror bombings such as the two A-bomb attacks, but also the firebombing of Dresden, and other German cities.

    If you want to know why we do this, I believe it is because Americans like to think we are morally better than other cultures. We can (and Cincinnatus undoubtedly will) argue all day long whether we are really morally superior, but I think it is undeniable that we want to believe we are.

    The whole concept of “war crimes” is basically a manifestation of this attitude. Deep down, Americans realize that terror bombing by the US at Hiroshima is fundamentally the same act as blowing up an Israeli pizza parlor full of teen agers: the killing of non-combatants by combatants for the purpose of terrorizing the non-combatants and getting them to “beg for mercy”, as you put it. When combatants intentionally (not collaterally, resulting from an attack on a military target) kill civilians, we consider that to be intrinsically morally wrong. That doesn’t mean we don’t rationalize it sometimes, but most of the time, we try to avoid it, even if it means we suffer casualties.

    As I say, many, including some here, would consider this attitude idealistic nonsense. But the ideal prevails, just the same.

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus @48:

    The Philippines is probably the best example of US nation building in the last century, but I would suggest that it is a fairly successful example of it. The US spent about 10 years fighting a brutal guerilla war against various tribal/regional separatist or independence minded groups ( seem to remember that “waterboarding” was invented there), but almost immediately began organizing a democratic government for a country that consisted of over 100 islands populated by multiple ethnic groups practicing multiple religions, speaking multiple languages, and most of whom were primitive. It took us about 46 years to get them ready to operate on their own (it might have happened sooner but for WWII), but the democracy lapsed back into corrupt authoritarianism, only to return to a fairly democratic government (again with our help). But they do, generally speaking, like us in the Philippines.

    Another “W” for nation building is probably South Korea, which while ethnically homogenous, had little history of independence and none of democracy.

    You can credibly argue that “nation building”, or rebuilding after an invasion is way to costly or otherwise ill advised. And it is clearly true that most victorious nations don’t even bother to try. But it’s just not true to say that it can’t be done or that it has never happened.

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus @48:

    The Philippines is probably the best example of US nation building in the last century, but I would suggest that it is a fairly successful example of it. The US spent about 10 years fighting a brutal guerilla war against various tribal/regional separatist or independence minded groups ( seem to remember that “waterboarding” was invented there), but almost immediately began organizing a democratic government for a country that consisted of over 100 islands populated by multiple ethnic groups practicing multiple religions, speaking multiple languages, and most of whom were primitive. It took us about 46 years to get them ready to operate on their own (it might have happened sooner but for WWII), but the democracy lapsed back into corrupt authoritarianism, only to return to a fairly democratic government (again with our help). But they do, generally speaking, like us in the Philippines.

    Another “W” for nation building is probably South Korea, which while ethnically homogenous, had little history of independence and none of democracy.

    You can credibly argue that “nation building”, or rebuilding after an invasion is way to costly or otherwise ill advised. And it is clearly true that most victorious nations don’t even bother to try. But it’s just not true to say that it can’t be done or that it has never happened.

  • SKPeterson

    kerner @ 52 and 53

    We did use rather indiscriminate fire-bombing on Japanese cities once we were able to get airfields close enough for large scale B-29 operations. This was a conscious effort on our part to target population centers, demoralize the civilians and destabilize the Tojo government. Also, as Cincinnatus noted about Germany above, the Japanese largely rebuilt Japan.

    I’m not really sure we can use South Korea as a successful example of nation building. We didn’t really destroy it in order to rebuild it; again, the South Koreans did the heavy lifting themselves in the aftermath of a Japanese occupation and the eventual civil war. It should also be noted that South Korean democracy is a fairly young institution – we did not impose it upon them in order to promote regional stability in 1954.

    The classic counter-example of course is Viet Nam – a nation building project that didn’t go quite according to plan even though we did just about everything we could to destroy as much as possible. In fact, we are now enjoying some of the best economic, social and political relationships with Viet Nam in the history of that nation as an independent entity (or ies) despite having effectively done the destroy and leave routine. Now, we just need to start importing more of their women for our nation building project to be complete. ;)

    Another whole set of examples on the failures of nation building, failed states, and military occupation are the collapses of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Even long-term military occupation (in some cases pre-Soviet czarist occupation) and political repression could not overcome ethnic division in Bosnia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and all of the other little would-be micro-republics and enclaves from the Balkans to the Caspian. For our modern American situation, the implication would be that we could stay in Afghanistan for 100 years, or Iraq for 50, impose a repressive pair of regimes and, as soon as we left the shooting would start and civil war would be the outcome. If we wanted to have a better success rate in nation building we should have invaded two more stable societies like Cuba and, oh, let’s just pick say Argentina.

    The upshot, though, is that successful nation building is by far the historical exception and not the rule even into the modern age. Moreover, it is a highly questionable endeavor given the high costs combined with a high failure rate. Simple cost-benefit analysis militates against such foreign interventionism.

  • SKPeterson

    kerner @ 52 and 53

    We did use rather indiscriminate fire-bombing on Japanese cities once we were able to get airfields close enough for large scale B-29 operations. This was a conscious effort on our part to target population centers, demoralize the civilians and destabilize the Tojo government. Also, as Cincinnatus noted about Germany above, the Japanese largely rebuilt Japan.

    I’m not really sure we can use South Korea as a successful example of nation building. We didn’t really destroy it in order to rebuild it; again, the South Koreans did the heavy lifting themselves in the aftermath of a Japanese occupation and the eventual civil war. It should also be noted that South Korean democracy is a fairly young institution – we did not impose it upon them in order to promote regional stability in 1954.

    The classic counter-example of course is Viet Nam – a nation building project that didn’t go quite according to plan even though we did just about everything we could to destroy as much as possible. In fact, we are now enjoying some of the best economic, social and political relationships with Viet Nam in the history of that nation as an independent entity (or ies) despite having effectively done the destroy and leave routine. Now, we just need to start importing more of their women for our nation building project to be complete. ;)

    Another whole set of examples on the failures of nation building, failed states, and military occupation are the collapses of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Even long-term military occupation (in some cases pre-Soviet czarist occupation) and political repression could not overcome ethnic division in Bosnia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and all of the other little would-be micro-republics and enclaves from the Balkans to the Caspian. For our modern American situation, the implication would be that we could stay in Afghanistan for 100 years, or Iraq for 50, impose a repressive pair of regimes and, as soon as we left the shooting would start and civil war would be the outcome. If we wanted to have a better success rate in nation building we should have invaded two more stable societies like Cuba and, oh, let’s just pick say Argentina.

    The upshot, though, is that successful nation building is by far the historical exception and not the rule even into the modern age. Moreover, it is a highly questionable endeavor given the high costs combined with a high failure rate. Simple cost-benefit analysis militates against such foreign interventionism.

  • kerner

    SK: you said:

    “The upshot, though, is that successful nation building is by far the historical exception and not the rule even into the modern age.”

    Which is undeniable, and:

    “Moreover, it is a highly questionable endeavor given the high costs combined with a high failure rate. Simple cost-benefit analysis militates against such foreign interventionism.”

    Which I have to admit states a pretty good general principle, although I question whether the failure rate is as high as you think (I’m not saying it’s low, mind you; just a little less high).

    I disagree with you on South Korea, which was, prior to WWII, a vassal state of Japan. When we defeated Japan, we destroyed the government it previously had, which created a political vacuum. Then we did, indeed, invade it to prevent it from falling into unfriendly hands. The ensuing war destroyed the South Korean infrastructure as thoroughly or more than any war we fought anywhere else, displacing, injuring and killing large numbers of civilians in the process.

    While we were not so particular as to try to create a democracy quickly in South Korea (we were willing to tolerate a friendly authoritarian regime), you can hardly claim that democracy would have evolved by itself in South Korea (or that there would even have existed such a nation as South Korea) but for US “building” that nation, after first blowing it to smithereens.

    I want to say more of this, but something tODD said has gotten me thinking.

  • kerner

    SK: you said:

    “The upshot, though, is that successful nation building is by far the historical exception and not the rule even into the modern age.”

    Which is undeniable, and:

    “Moreover, it is a highly questionable endeavor given the high costs combined with a high failure rate. Simple cost-benefit analysis militates against such foreign interventionism.”

    Which I have to admit states a pretty good general principle, although I question whether the failure rate is as high as you think (I’m not saying it’s low, mind you; just a little less high).

    I disagree with you on South Korea, which was, prior to WWII, a vassal state of Japan. When we defeated Japan, we destroyed the government it previously had, which created a political vacuum. Then we did, indeed, invade it to prevent it from falling into unfriendly hands. The ensuing war destroyed the South Korean infrastructure as thoroughly or more than any war we fought anywhere else, displacing, injuring and killing large numbers of civilians in the process.

    While we were not so particular as to try to create a democracy quickly in South Korea (we were willing to tolerate a friendly authoritarian regime), you can hardly claim that democracy would have evolved by itself in South Korea (or that there would even have existed such a nation as South Korea) but for US “building” that nation, after first blowing it to smithereens.

    I want to say more of this, but something tODD said has gotten me thinking.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, kerner, are you suggesting that the United States eschews carpet-bombing of civilians, etc.?

    You yourself mention Dresden, as well as essentially the rest of Central Europe. And then, aside from our notable use of atomic bombs on civilian cities, we destroyed other cities in Japan with conventional weapons. And then there’s Vietnam, in which we fire-bombed entire forests and numerous native villages.

    Can we return to the atomic bomb thing? In discussions of combat ethics (if there is such a thing; I’m dubious), it is important to recall that the United States is the only nation on the planet that has ever deployed nuclear weapons–and we did it against civilians. I’m not interested in debating whether said bombing was strategically or ethically justified or not. But I don’t think you have a plank to stand on if you’re claiming that, in the twentieth century, the United States exemplified an “aversion” to terror bombing and similarly horrific tactics.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, kerner, are you suggesting that the United States eschews carpet-bombing of civilians, etc.?

    You yourself mention Dresden, as well as essentially the rest of Central Europe. And then, aside from our notable use of atomic bombs on civilian cities, we destroyed other cities in Japan with conventional weapons. And then there’s Vietnam, in which we fire-bombed entire forests and numerous native villages.

    Can we return to the atomic bomb thing? In discussions of combat ethics (if there is such a thing; I’m dubious), it is important to recall that the United States is the only nation on the planet that has ever deployed nuclear weapons–and we did it against civilians. I’m not interested in debating whether said bombing was strategically or ethically justified or not. But I don’t think you have a plank to stand on if you’re claiming that, in the twentieth century, the United States exemplified an “aversion” to terror bombing and similarly horrific tactics.

  • kerner

    tODD 246 you said:

    “I assume we can take it as a given that any country we invade will hate us…”

    If I may borrow a very tODDian practice and question your underlying assumptions, are you sure that is true? Should we consider all the countries we have actually invaded?

    We have invaded both Canada and Mexico, and while there is some anti-US attitude among some Canadians and Mexicans, I think it would be wrong to say that hatred for the USA is a strong and widespread feeling. Of course, we didn’t occupy any part of either of those places very long (unless you count those parts of the USA that were formerly Mexico that we continue to occupy).

    Around the turn of the last century, we began invading a number of Carribean nations. These include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Columbia/Panama, Grenada and Puerto Rico. We attempted some form of nation building in all of these. And I don’t know that the people of any of these places can be said to hate us. Even Cuba, whose government hates us, had a large part of its population move here rather than live under that government, which was basically a colony of the Soviet Union.

    The Dominicans could be said to have hated us after the first invasion (1916) but they were less hostile after the second (1963). We seem to get along very well with them now.

    Haiti is such a grotesquely failed state that the Haitians seem actually glad to see us whenever we show up.

    Puerto Rico is a commonwealth which we still “occupy”. Every so often, Puerto Ricans vote on whether to become a state, gain independence, or stay as is. Stay as is, has been the perennial winner. SO, you can’t say Puerto Ricans hate us.

    We pretty much created the nation of Panama from a former province of Columbia, mostly so we could build the canal. We later invaded Panama in 1989 to depose Manuel Noriega. Panama has a faily stable democracy by latin American standards, And I have been able to find any indication that hatred of the USA is wide spread there. s far as I know, Columbia doesn’t hold a grudge either.

    We invaded Grenada in 1983, and I couldn’t find anything indicating that Grenadans hate us.

    Turning to Asia, I have already discussed Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, all of which have populations generally friendly to the USA. I am not sure US military presence in China counts as an invasion, but our relationship with the Chinese has involved animosity, particularly during, or in response to, our presence there when it was a failed state. (I’ll concde China as a “hate” on balance. As SK says, the Vietnamese don’t seem to hate us now that we are gone. Even when we were there, I don’t think we were universally hated, but things certainly didn’t go well. ANd North Korea, which we did invade, has been a bitter enemy for 60 years.

    In Europe, we invaded Italy and toppled the indigenous Fascist government. If Hollywood rendition is any guage, the Italians loved us even when we were at war with them. I don’t really believe that, but they do seem to have been won over quickly. And of course, we invaded and occupied Germany and Austria, both of which seemed so glad that we weren’t the Russians that they loved us, if only by comparison.

    So, while it often generates a lot of animosity, it is also often that the people in the countries that we have actually invaded do not hate us, and didn’t even hate us while we invaded and occupioed those countries. And I believe that has a lot to do with the fact that we, as an invading force, are really not intertested in wasting nor enslaving the countries we invade. As such, a lot of times the people of those countries see our presence as an opportunity to improve their situation and act on it.

    (I realize that one could argue that addiction to our western consumerist culture could be considered a form of enslavement, but I mean enslave in a more literal sense)

  • kerner

    tODD 246 you said:

    “I assume we can take it as a given that any country we invade will hate us…”

    If I may borrow a very tODDian practice and question your underlying assumptions, are you sure that is true? Should we consider all the countries we have actually invaded?

    We have invaded both Canada and Mexico, and while there is some anti-US attitude among some Canadians and Mexicans, I think it would be wrong to say that hatred for the USA is a strong and widespread feeling. Of course, we didn’t occupy any part of either of those places very long (unless you count those parts of the USA that were formerly Mexico that we continue to occupy).

    Around the turn of the last century, we began invading a number of Carribean nations. These include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Columbia/Panama, Grenada and Puerto Rico. We attempted some form of nation building in all of these. And I don’t know that the people of any of these places can be said to hate us. Even Cuba, whose government hates us, had a large part of its population move here rather than live under that government, which was basically a colony of the Soviet Union.

    The Dominicans could be said to have hated us after the first invasion (1916) but they were less hostile after the second (1963). We seem to get along very well with them now.

    Haiti is such a grotesquely failed state that the Haitians seem actually glad to see us whenever we show up.

    Puerto Rico is a commonwealth which we still “occupy”. Every so often, Puerto Ricans vote on whether to become a state, gain independence, or stay as is. Stay as is, has been the perennial winner. SO, you can’t say Puerto Ricans hate us.

    We pretty much created the nation of Panama from a former province of Columbia, mostly so we could build the canal. We later invaded Panama in 1989 to depose Manuel Noriega. Panama has a faily stable democracy by latin American standards, And I have been able to find any indication that hatred of the USA is wide spread there. s far as I know, Columbia doesn’t hold a grudge either.

    We invaded Grenada in 1983, and I couldn’t find anything indicating that Grenadans hate us.

    Turning to Asia, I have already discussed Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, all of which have populations generally friendly to the USA. I am not sure US military presence in China counts as an invasion, but our relationship with the Chinese has involved animosity, particularly during, or in response to, our presence there when it was a failed state. (I’ll concde China as a “hate” on balance. As SK says, the Vietnamese don’t seem to hate us now that we are gone. Even when we were there, I don’t think we were universally hated, but things certainly didn’t go well. ANd North Korea, which we did invade, has been a bitter enemy for 60 years.

    In Europe, we invaded Italy and toppled the indigenous Fascist government. If Hollywood rendition is any guage, the Italians loved us even when we were at war with them. I don’t really believe that, but they do seem to have been won over quickly. And of course, we invaded and occupied Germany and Austria, both of which seemed so glad that we weren’t the Russians that they loved us, if only by comparison.

    So, while it often generates a lot of animosity, it is also often that the people in the countries that we have actually invaded do not hate us, and didn’t even hate us while we invaded and occupioed those countries. And I believe that has a lot to do with the fact that we, as an invading force, are really not intertested in wasting nor enslaving the countries we invade. As such, a lot of times the people of those countries see our presence as an opportunity to improve their situation and act on it.

    (I realize that one could argue that addiction to our western consumerist culture could be considered a form of enslavement, but I mean enslave in a more literal sense)

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    I do not claim that the United States never uses tactics that specifically target civillians. As you point out, I have mentioned some of the notable times when we HAVE done so. What I am saying is that Americans do have an “aversion” to doing it in the sense that we don’t really like it and feel guilty about it when we do it. I said that we like to think of ourselves as the good guys. That doesn’t mean we always ARE good guys. It only means that we try to be. We often fail to live up to our ideals. But we have them.

    Look, this is an example from fiction, but since we are talking about attitudes, not history, I think I can use it. When we watch a movie like “The Patriot” and we see the British set fire to a Church full of American civilians (many of whom were covertly supporting the revolutionaries), we don’t get angry simply because foreigners are killing our countrymen, we are outraged because we, deep down, don’t think that something like that should EVER be done. We think this, even as Mel Gibson confesses that he participated in a similar atrocity against Indians in the previous war, but we can forgive his character because he appears genuinely guilt ridden and repentent of having done it. What we DO NOT think (usually) is that soldiers burning a church full of civilians is an acceptable military tactic if it gets the enemy to beg for mercy so we can talk reasonably to them.

    Because of this, our leaders are often making decisions that expose our soldiers to danger, when killing lots of civilians in enemy territory from afar might acheive victory more quickly and with less loss of American life. sg asked why we do that. And this is my explanation. Americans are idealists when it comes to war. You may think that’s a bad thing, but I think it’s a fact.

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    I do not claim that the United States never uses tactics that specifically target civillians. As you point out, I have mentioned some of the notable times when we HAVE done so. What I am saying is that Americans do have an “aversion” to doing it in the sense that we don’t really like it and feel guilty about it when we do it. I said that we like to think of ourselves as the good guys. That doesn’t mean we always ARE good guys. It only means that we try to be. We often fail to live up to our ideals. But we have them.

    Look, this is an example from fiction, but since we are talking about attitudes, not history, I think I can use it. When we watch a movie like “The Patriot” and we see the British set fire to a Church full of American civilians (many of whom were covertly supporting the revolutionaries), we don’t get angry simply because foreigners are killing our countrymen, we are outraged because we, deep down, don’t think that something like that should EVER be done. We think this, even as Mel Gibson confesses that he participated in a similar atrocity against Indians in the previous war, but we can forgive his character because he appears genuinely guilt ridden and repentent of having done it. What we DO NOT think (usually) is that soldiers burning a church full of civilians is an acceptable military tactic if it gets the enemy to beg for mercy so we can talk reasonably to them.

    Because of this, our leaders are often making decisions that expose our soldiers to danger, when killing lots of civilians in enemy territory from afar might acheive victory more quickly and with less loss of American life. sg asked why we do that. And this is my explanation. Americans are idealists when it comes to war. You may think that’s a bad thing, but I think it’s a fact.

  • Joe

    Okay – let me jump in, after all I did introduce the phrase nation-building to this thread.

    I used nation building carelessly and now folks are making a distinction between Germany and Japan rebuilding themselves and our attempts to rebuild other nations. With regard to my point about needing enough boots on the ground to hold the territory this distinction is irrelevant. Neither Germany nor Japan rebuilt themselves in our absence. We were there – keeping the wolves at bay while those Germans and Japanese who we liked did the rebuilding. We can argue whether this is actually qualitatively different than what happened (or rather what we wanted to happen) in Iraq, but the point is had we not stayed and occupied those countries with enough troops to control them that rebuilding process would have probably looked very different.

    Now I would like to clarify that I am not a fan of nation building, but I think it becomes a necessary part of the war if you engage in the kinds of wars we run – total destruction of everything as quickly as possible. The other option seems to go back every decade or so and destroy everything again to prevent your enemies from getting back on their feet. We could take another path and attempt to seize a countries infrastructure without destroying it (a more colonial model). I would actually favor this over the current path. Of course less war would be an even better path.

  • Joe

    Okay – let me jump in, after all I did introduce the phrase nation-building to this thread.

    I used nation building carelessly and now folks are making a distinction between Germany and Japan rebuilding themselves and our attempts to rebuild other nations. With regard to my point about needing enough boots on the ground to hold the territory this distinction is irrelevant. Neither Germany nor Japan rebuilt themselves in our absence. We were there – keeping the wolves at bay while those Germans and Japanese who we liked did the rebuilding. We can argue whether this is actually qualitatively different than what happened (or rather what we wanted to happen) in Iraq, but the point is had we not stayed and occupied those countries with enough troops to control them that rebuilding process would have probably looked very different.

    Now I would like to clarify that I am not a fan of nation building, but I think it becomes a necessary part of the war if you engage in the kinds of wars we run – total destruction of everything as quickly as possible. The other option seems to go back every decade or so and destroy everything again to prevent your enemies from getting back on their feet. We could take another path and attempt to seize a countries infrastructure without destroying it (a more colonial model). I would actually favor this over the current path. Of course less war would be an even better path.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner @ 57: Of course, we invaded you back, and even burnt down what became the White House – and afterwards everybody agreed the War was a bad idea. So not exactly the best example. :) And since then, we have both thrived on selling each other stuff….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner @ 57: Of course, we invaded you back, and even burnt down what became the White House – and afterwards everybody agreed the War was a bad idea. So not exactly the best example. :) And since then, we have both thrived on selling each other stuff….

  • kerner

    Klasie:

    And I’ll grant you that Canadians probably hated us at the time we invaded. But you’re going to have to name me some Canadian military units that were in Washington, torches in hand, before I’ll buy this “we” burned the White House stuff flies with me. :D And are you even, technically, a Canadian yet? Talk about puffery.

  • kerner

    Klasie:

    And I’ll grant you that Canadians probably hated us at the time we invaded. But you’re going to have to name me some Canadian military units that were in Washington, torches in hand, before I’ll buy this “we” burned the White House stuff flies with me. :D And are you even, technically, a Canadian yet? Talk about puffery.

  • kerner

    Boy. Now there’s a sentence I didn’t proofread. Must be my injured American pride… ;)

  • kerner

    Boy. Now there’s a sentence I didn’t proofread. Must be my injured American pride… ;)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Well Kerner, as to the actual burning – yes strictly speaking, it was British troops, but since by defintion we were British back then, and not a country, not even self governing really, we’ll take the credit anyway…. :) As to why – remember it was in retaliation for what the Americans did to Toronto…..

    Anyway, all ancient history now, since we get on like a house on fire.. oops :) :)

    As to your second question, I’m currently studying for my citizenship exam, the date of which is not determined yet, but likely quite near.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Well Kerner, as to the actual burning – yes strictly speaking, it was British troops, but since by defintion we were British back then, and not a country, not even self governing really, we’ll take the credit anyway…. :) As to why – remember it was in retaliation for what the Americans did to Toronto…..

    Anyway, all ancient history now, since we get on like a house on fire.. oops :) :)

    As to your second question, I’m currently studying for my citizenship exam, the date of which is not determined yet, but likely quite near.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Canadians. Always turning the conversation to Canada.

    we were British back then, and not a country, not even self governing really

    Yeah, back then, the Queen controlled your country and was even on your currency.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Canadians. Always turning the conversation to Canada.

    we were British back then, and not a country, not even self governing really

    Yeah, back then, the Queen controlled your country and was even on your currency.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd – King, back then.

    Americans, always ignorant aboot their neighbours, eh?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd – King, back then.

    Americans, always ignorant aboot their neighbours, eh?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Americans, always ignorant aboot their neighbours, eh?

    What, is there a part of the citizenship test where you have to submit comments you posted to American blogs as evidence?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Americans, always ignorant aboot their neighbours, eh?

    What, is there a part of the citizenship test where you have to submit comments you posted to American blogs as evidence?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Some things are just obvious, Todd.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Some things are just obvious, Todd.

  • kerner

    Klasie:

    Sure, sure. Of course, using the logic that any country that was part of the British Empire at the time can claim the credit, I guess that Australians, Indians, citizens of Belize, etc., can all claim that “we” burned the White House, with about the same degree of credibility.

    Real Canadian militia helped capture Detroit and may have helped to burn Buffalo NY. Perhaps not as cool as burning the White House, but at least Canadians could claim credit for that with straight faces. :D

  • kerner

    Klasie:

    Sure, sure. Of course, using the logic that any country that was part of the British Empire at the time can claim the credit, I guess that Australians, Indians, citizens of Belize, etc., can all claim that “we” burned the White House, with about the same degree of credibility.

    Real Canadian militia helped capture Detroit and may have helped to burn Buffalo NY. Perhaps not as cool as burning the White House, but at least Canadians could claim credit for that with straight faces. :D

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Anyway, I don’t think sg was advocating a policy of mass destruction and enslavement.”

    We already have those as (unspoken) policies. Our wars cause mass destruction and we vicariously enslave people all over the world when businesses move factories offshore to use virtually slave labor. Also, illegal aliens are often treated much like slaves by employers. The government aka the people treat them better. But still.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Anyway, I don’t think sg was advocating a policy of mass destruction and enslavement.”

    We already have those as (unspoken) policies. Our wars cause mass destruction and we vicariously enslave people all over the world when businesses move factories offshore to use virtually slave labor. Also, illegal aliens are often treated much like slaves by employers. The government aka the people treat them better. But still.


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