The three causes of war

512px-Thucydides_pushkin02The great Athenian historian Thucydides said that there are three causes of war:  (1) honor  (2) fear  (3)  national interest.

Jonah Goldberg discusses those factors and cites modern historian Donald Kagan, who says that honor comes first as the reason why a nation goes to war.  That motive is far more common, he says, than national interest.

World War I was surely caused by many nations’ sense of honor.  World War II was caused by Germany and Japan’s radical sense of national pride and the honor (and territory) to which they felt entitled.  Other countries fought them out of the rational fear that leads to self-defense.  The Cold War conflicts were sparked by ideology–should that modern concept be added to Thucydides’ causes?–but our national honor, if not our national interests, were at stake in Vietnam.

More recently, the Iraq War had as its official reason our fear of weapons of mass destruction, but we were also humiliated and outraged at the 9/11 attacks and our sense of honor required us to strike back at somebody.  It is said that Muslims have felt humiliated by the West for centuries, and this is a major motive for Islamic terrorism.

Goldberg applies Thucydides to the Mexicans and the wall.  He says that having a wall on the border may well be a good idea.  But if it is worth building, we should pay for it.  There is no need, he says, to humiliate Mexico by somehow forcing them to pay for it.   Not that Mexico would start a war, but that foreign policy should avoid needless insults to the honor of a country.

Donald Trump is building up American honor in the course of “making America great again.”  Does that mean that an America conscious of its greatness would be more likely to start a war if another country insults us?  But Trump is saying that the driving force of his government will be the national interest.  Ironically, attention to the national interest is the least likely cause of war, and it can keep us out of conflicts based merely on honor or fear. [Read more…]

China pushing Communism to replace failing Democracy

3205545010_28e80765c7_zChina says Western democracy has reached its limits and has started to deteriorate (alluding to Donald Trump’s victory without saying so).  Global Communism will take its place, with China supplying new universal values.

When I have referred to “still-Communist China,” some readers have said, in effect, are you kidding?  China has become capitalist, what with all of their entrepreneurs and wealth-building.  But orthodox Marxism teaches that societies must go through a capitalist phase in order for socialism to emerge.  The problem with the Soviet Union and Mao’s China is that they attempted to go from a feudal economy straight to socialism, which can’t really work.  Capitalism and with it Western democracy will eventually fall from their internal contradictions.

China has come up with a style of Communism that is working, pragmatically.  It is centered on economic growth, but state ownership and, what is just as effective, state control of the means of production continues.

What’s new here is China’s plan to export not just its goods but its ideology around the world.  The Communists still think they will bury us. [Read more…]

Susan B. Anthony and the other early feminists were pro-life

Susan_B._Anthony_G.E._PerineFeminists today hail the pioneers of women’s rights, the suffragettes and 19th century activists who crusaded for women’s right to vote and equality before the law.  But they also crusaded against abortion.

Yes, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Sarah F. Norton would not have been allowed to participate in the “Women’s March on Washington” because they were pro-life.

Marjorie Dannenfelser gives the details after the jump.

UPDATE:  See also this, which discusses the Saturday Night Live skit and has a beautiful pro-life quote from Anthony.

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Live-blogging the Inauguration

Trump_Inaugural_Logo.svgBeing unable to resist significant moments in history, I’ll be watching the Inauguration ceremonies today and making comments here.

Things get started at 9:30 a.m. ET, with the actual inauguration ceremony starting at about 11:30 a.m. ET.  The swearing in will be at noon, whereupon Donald Trump will give his inaugural address.  I’ll be devoting most of my live-blogging to the speech.  Please join me with comments of your own.

On Saturday from 10:00-11:00 a.m. will be the Interfaith Prayer Service at the National Pantheon, I mean, the National Cathedral.  I can’t bear to watch that, but if you do, feel free to report on it by making a comment to this post.

After the jump, a schedule of the day’s activities.

UPDATE:  Here is a transcript of the speech.

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Letter from a Birmingham Jail 

512px-Recreation_of_Martin_Luther_King's_Cell_in_Birmingham_Jail_-_National_Civil_Rights_Museum_-_Downtown_Memphis_-_Tennessee_-_USATo observe Martin Luther King Day, read his classic “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”  It was written to fellow pastors who were concerned that a man of the cloth would engage in protests that would get him arrested.

The letter is interesting in itself for the case that it makes for civil disobedience, under certain very restrictive conditions.  Some of what he says will resonate with pro-lifers and religious freedom advocates.

The letter also shows how it was possible back then in 1963 to continually quote and allude to Scripture and to appeal to moral absolutes.  I don’t know if a person could do that today.  I don’t know if the Civil Rights Movement, with its moral appeal to the nation, could happen today.

Read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” after the jump. [Read more…]

Luther’s influence on German culture

Luther-Catechism-1560-LeipzigThe Economist has a fascinating article on “How Martin Luther has shaped Germany for half a millennium.”

I’m not sure how accurate it is.  (Luther’s moralism?  For the person who insisted that salvation is by grace through faith, rather than good works?  Well, maybe so.  Maybe this is evidence that an emphasis on faith really does bear fruit in good works.  But “dour,” for the most uproarious of theologians?  “Lutheran socialism,” finding the origin of the northern European welfare state in Luther’s neighbor-centered view of vocation?)

But that Luther influenced Germany’s love of music, emphasis on education, love of books, work ethic, etc., rings true.

UPDATE:  Note the critique of this article by German journalist and confessional Lutheran Uwe Siemon-Netto in a recorded interview on Issues, Etc. (HT:  Jeremiah Oehlerlich & Carl Vehse)

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