Friday, December 11, 2009

Karl's Weekend Reading

Our work schedule has kept us from posting our Weekend Reading posts in recent weeks. It'll still be off-n-on for a while. Please excuse the inconsistency.

We HAVE to start this post with WSJ's Bret Stephens' piece, The Totalities of Copenhagen. He uses the term "totalitarian impulse" much like we use the term "communist-inspirations" when describing the liberals progressives communists that are now running our country. He wears a tie to work where we're typing away in our jammies, but the message is the same. The impulses/inspirations he outlines include: "Revolutionary fervor, Utopianism, Anti-humanism, Intolerance, Monocasalism, Indifference to evidence and Grandiosity. He concludes:

Today, of course, the very idea of totalitarianism is considered passé. Yet the course of the 20th century was defined by totalitarian regimes, and it would be dangerous to assume that the habits of mind that sustained them have vanished into the mists. In Copenhagen, they are once again at play—and that, comrades, is no accident.

The more enlightened among us would say Bret's unspoken connection to communism suggests he has a screw loose. But Charles Krauthammer makes a call to action for Congress in today's Townhall, The New Socialism. That makes 2! Pretty soon right wingers are going to be launching blogs with hammers and sickles in the title bar - unless we put a stop to this nonsense!

Socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts, managers and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is not abolishing oppression and inequality but saving the planet.
Congress should not just resist this executive overreaching, but trump it: Amend existing clean air laws and restore their original intent by excluding CO2 from EPA control and reserving that power for Congress and future legislation.

Do it now. Do it soon. Because Big Brother isn't lurking in CIA cloak. He's knocking on your door, smiling under an EPA cap.

More comments on our Ditherer in DC. Charles Krauthammer reviews the West Point speech in his Townhall article from last week, Uncertain Trumpet. " ambivalent, so tentative, so defensive".

Words matter because will matters. Success in war depends on three things: a brave and highly skilled soldiery, such as the U.S. military 2009, the finest counterinsurgency force in history; brilliant, battle-tested commanders such as Gens. David Petraeus and McChrystal, fresh from the success of the surge in Iraq; and the will to prevail as personified by the commander in chief.

There's the rub. And that is why at such crucial moments, presidents don't issue a policy paper. They give a speech. It gives tone and texture. It allows their policy to be imbued with purpose and feeling. This one was festooned with hedges, caveats and one giant exit ramp.

No one expected Obama to do a Henry V or a Churchill. But Obama could not even manage a George W. Bush, who, at an infinitely lower ebb in power and popularity, opposed by the political and foreign policy establishments and dealing with a war effort in far more dire straits, announced his surge -- Iraq 2007 -- with outright rejection of withdrawal or retreat. His implacability was widely decried at home as stubbornness, but heard loudly in Iraq by those fighting for and against us as unflinching -- and salutary -- determination.
Remarkable. Go and fight, he tells his cadets -- some of whom may not return alive -- but I may have to cut your mission short because my real priorities are domestic.

Has there ever been a call to arms more dispiriting, a trumpet more uncertain?

Victor Davis Hanson chimes in at NRO, Has War Really Changed?

If our leaders today could consult great generals like the Roman Scipio Africanus or William Tecumseh Sherman — who won what were once near-hopeless wars — they might receive the following advice:

Prepare the public to shoulder human and financial costs.

Be candid about why enduring the horrors of war now is preferable to risking even costlier violence later.

Talk always of winning, never leaving or quitting a war.

Have no apologies for crushing the enemy. The quicker the enemy loses, the fewer get killed on both sides.

Inform the public of the other side’s losses just as you do your own.

And be magnanimous to the defeated — after the war, not during the fighting.
President Obama talked of many things in his recent Afghanistan speech. But he never once mentioned the words “victory” and “win.” All that may seem like an out-of-date idea to postmodern Americans. But it is still a very real one to the premodern Taliban, who seem to understand the ageless nature of war far better than we do.

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