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Monthly Archives: November 2012

We’re Doomed! Again!

November 19th, 2012 - 3:59 pm

The Europeans — and the American intellectuals who yearn to be European — have long believed that America was doomed. It goes way back.  There was already a significant literature on the inferiority of Americans during the colonial period, replete with scientific proof: those who lived in North America were held to be shorter, weaker, and stupider than those who stayed put under the old regimes. In the view of the transatlantic intellectual elite, we never really had a chance.

Even though the American Revolution is the only durable success among the Big 3 — ours, the French, and the Russian — the intellectual elites on both sides of the Atlantic rarely admit that America is the only truly revolutionary country in the world, and they routinely reserve the term for Russians, Cubans, Iranians, and even Chinese. No matter that they are all failures, and that the only good news from those unfortunate countries is the result of the occasional leader — the great bridge player Deng Xiaoping, for example — who emulates American revolutionary principles.

So the belief that America is a failure has been with us for centuries, and it’s snugly wrapped in the currently fashionable quiltie of multiculturalism/political correctness, according to whose poisonous doctrine all cultures are morally equivalent.  Except some — ours and the Israelis’ — are less equal than the others’.  And some other cultures — nowadays notably the jihadis’ — are more equal than the rest.

These doctrines are dominant among our intellectual elites, and have been for at least a generation.  It should not surprise us to see their consequences applied by men and women who were taught them throughout their schooling. The president’s world view can be found in most any dormitory bull session at our top “educational” institutions.  And it is no small source of alarm to me that our best and brightest military officers are routinely sent for reeducation to such places.

SIDEBAR:  True confession.  I told our children that I wouldn’t pay for tuition at an Ivy League college.  The boys went to school in Texas, served as Marine officers, and, along with an impressive number of friends, are combating these doctrines and their political/cultural consequences.  Just to show that it can be done, our daughter went to school in Massachusetts, got a graduate degree in Italy, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan,  and keeps me intellectually alert.

BACK TO TEXT:  Inevitably, the “America is doomed” sermon is preached in many places, both by prophets who welcome it, and by those who dread it.  Lots of true believers in the American Revolution are currently whining that all is lost, that the counterrevolutionaries have won an irreversible victory, and that we should either trim our sails and adopt the multiculti doctrines, or emulate the heroes of Red Dawn and take to the hills, fully armed, and fight back a la Davy Crockett.

Maybe it comes from the failure to study history (we historians love to blame current error on the lack of historical knowledge).  Somebody should tell the garment-renderers and sackcloth-and-ashes crowd that we’ve been through a lot worse than this, and recovered well enough to save the world.  We fought, amongst ourselves, the bloodiest war of the 19th century.  We’ve been through recessions and depressions.  You think we now have it worse than our parents and grandparents, who survived the Great Depression and World War II?

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Thinking About Petraeus

November 17th, 2012 - 11:47 am

I don’t know him personally, and there have always been elements of his personality and his performance that did not enthuse me. In the early days of Iraq, I believe that he overstated the success of his mission to train local police forces in Mosul. And as Angleton mentions in our recent conversation, General Petraeus always paid a great deal of attention to his public image. I was always told that he went around with several public affairs officers who could explain to inquiring journalists what was “really” going on.

In this, as in so many other ways, I’m hopelessly oldmannish. I want my generals to spend their time defeating our enemies and protecting our guys, not polishing their images, and decidedly not spending many hours on email.

I take a dim view of adultery, too, in case you were wondering. Yes, I know it’s very popular, I know it’s in our DNA. I’ve read the Old Testament. And yes, I know “man is more inclined to do evil than to do good,” Machiavelli’s terse summary of the human condition. But I also know that virtue is possible, and I want my leaders to be virtuous. I think that winning is the most important thing, and if you win you don’t need to brainwash the observers. The victory speaks for itself.

Which brings us to the whole discussion of the “surge.” I have always said that the surge was not a strategic breakthrough, but rather the application of tried-and-true principles regarding “revolutionary wars.” According to those principles, the outcome of such wars is determined by the people, that is to say, the local population. They provide both the information and the critical mass to one side or the other, thereby determining who wins and who loses. Their dilemma is that they do not wish to be involved in the conflict at all. Preferring to remain neutral, they abstain as long as possible and only throw their weight at the very last possible moment to what they believe to be the winning side. In Iraq, that moment came first in Anbar Province, where the locals became convinced that the Marines could not be defeated and that the Marines were not going away.

And no, contrary to what some are saying, Anbar was not won by bribes. It was bullets. The money came afterwards.

Notice, by the way, that just a year before the Marines won in Anbar, the head of Marine Intelligence in the province glumly assessed that they had lost, and that they could not win. Which reinforces another of my core beliefs: you never know, life is full of surprises, and the only thing to do is keep fighting.

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The Petraeus Espionage File

November 10th, 2012 - 4:48 pm

I may have awakened him.  The late James Jesus Angleton, once the chief of CIA counterintelligence, sounded kinda groggy to me after I got him–loud and clear!–on my famously untrustworthy ouija board.  Of course I have no idea whether he gets to sleep at all.  I don’t quite know exactly “where” he is, after all, and he doesn’t answer direct questions on the subject.  Anyway, there he was, and I started right in.

ML:  So what am I supposed to think about Petraeus?

JJA:  That you’re living in a country where espionage is rampant.

ML:  Huh?

JJA:  Have you read those stories about the “software breakdowns” in the Romney get-out-the-vote program “Orca”?

ML:  Sure, it didn’t work, passwords didn’t work, it was a gigantic snafu.

JJA:  Uh huh.  And has anyone raised the possibility that the Romney organization was penetrated in order to introduce “fatal errors” in their computers?

ML:  Actually I don’t believe I’ve seen that in print, although I’m sure somebody must have thought of it.

JJA:  I mean, the Obama people know all about Stuxnet, right?

ML:  Yes, the killer worm that was fed into the computers that run the centrifuges in the Iranian nuclear program.

JJA:  So if politics is war by other means, why shouldn’t they use similar methods in the election?

ML:  Haven’t you inverted that?  Didn’t Clausewitz say that “war is the continuation of politics by different means”?  You’re the literary expert, but still…

JJA:  I expected you’d like the inversion.  Anyway, “Orca” is a good case for espionage, don’t you think?

ML:  Ok, I’ll buy that.  But what does it have to do with the Petraeus story?

JJA:  Everything.  Both are potential espionage stories.  On Petraeus, for starters, we’re told that the FBI was investigating some “broader” thing, and they just happened to come across emails between him and her.  As if the bureau weren’t running an investigation into Petraeus all along.

ML:  Why would they do that?

JJA:  Jeez, nobody knows anything any more!  (coughing again, he’d probably lit up a Camel).  It’s routine.  The FBI always monitors the top levels of CIA, especially the director, any time there is reason for them to worry about a national security counterintelligence matter.  Everybody in the business knows that.  And all they need to open one of those investigations is a complaint, or a tip, from anybody.  You can’t imagine how many hours are devoted to checking out anonymous leads.  I can give you lots of recent stories about promotions and nominations being held up because some fabulist sent a little whisper across the transom of an inspector general’s office…

ML:  And the CIA guys know that?  Petraeus knew that?

JJA:  Of course.  And he also knew what any moderate geek knows, namely that gmail is an open book.  Any skilled nerd can read most anybody’s emails.  We don’t ever use email here.

ML:  You’ve got computers?

JJA:  Indeed.  What do you think that “cloud” thing is all about anyway?  We control it.

ML:  I should have known!  So Petraeus knew that people were reading, or at least could read, all his passionate emails to his lover.

JJA:  Yes.  And he knew enough about such matters to realize that when the counterintel people became aware of the affair, the bureau would instantly worry that he could be blackmailed.  So they would go back through all his emails, and all hers as well, to everyone.

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Will the MSM Lose Yet Again?

November 4th, 2012 - 7:07 pm

Some years ago, back in 1984, Ronald Reagan won reelection over Walter Mondale, carrying 49 states.  Afterwards, the most prestigious columnist at the most prestigious newspaper–James Reston of the New York Times–permitted himself a confession:

Among the losers in this Presidential election campaign you will have to include the nosy scribblers of the press. Not since the days of H. L. Mencken have so many reporters written so much or so well about the shortcomings of the President and influenced so few voters. Mr. Reagan beat the newspapers by ignoring them. From his nomination in Dallas to election weekend he has not held a single national news conference. He gave one or two interviews to sympathetic writers and allowed a few small-time high school and college audiences to toss him some questions, but he dismissed the White House press corps with a wave and a smile.

In other words, the MSM went all-in to defeat Reagan, and were decimated by the voters.  You can almost hear Reston gnashing his teeth when you read the headline: “Reagan Beats the Press.”

This little flashback set me wondering who’s today’s James Reston, and who, if anyone, would be man enough to make such a confession, if Romney wins on Tuesday. David Brooks? Nah, he’s had dozens of chances to out himself but never gets there.  Matthews?  Not a chance.

There’s a better chance of True Confessions from some of the pollsters. Just remember that Reagan-Carter in 1980 was “too close to call” for the pollsters, including Gallup. And if either candidate wins big in this election, there will be a target-rich environment for poll skeptics.

Reviewing the bidding:  the media don’t have nearly the power that they, and many of us, think they have.  And the pollsters, who get to talk to one out of every eleven people they (or their robots) call, are very afraid that they’re going to have to come up with some sort of scientific-sounding explanation for what happened.

Maybe they should take a poll on which explanation sounds most convincing, huh?

Also read: Election Predictions from PJ Media Columnists

More: Romney Wins Newspaper Endorsement Switchers by a Landslide

Letter to My European Friends

November 1st, 2012 - 8:02 pm

To my European friends:

I see from various polls that very nearly all of you support President Obama’s reelection.  The numbers are remarkable, indeed incredible.  More than ninety percent of you would vote Obama (94% of Italians, for example, and the numbers for Great Britain, France, Spain, and Germany are even higher).  Other numbers show that nearly half of you think you should somehow be able to vote in our elections, since American policies have such an enormous effect on you.

All of which reinforces my belief—speaking as the grandson of Russian immigrants who arrived in Harlem and western Massachusetts early in the last century–that the American Revolution was a great thing, and that Americans were right to abandon authoritarian Europe for the possibility of creating a free country across the ocean.  Anyone who truly values liberty has to see that Obama is a threat.  He wants to turn the United States into a version of Europe:  big, meddlesome government, constantly higher levels of taxation, and intrusive regulation of almost everything, combined with a deliberate and systematic weakening of military power and a foreign policy that shrinks from decisive action against freedom’s enemies.

That’s you, sadly.  So it’s understandable that you’d favor Obama (although the numbers—reminiscent of plebiscites rather than normal elections—are ridiculous).  It’s yet another sign of the decadence of Europe.

When I started my studies in Europe back in the mid-sixties, I was enthralled.  European literature, music, fashion, philosophy, scholarship, cuisine, movies, and theater were manifestly better than most of what America had to offer a young intellectual.  Conversations were more cultured, and in many ways I was more comfortable, more stimulated, more alive in Europe than in the United States.

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