This NYT review of Robert Kaplans Imperial Grunts is a pastiche of wisecracks, complaints about Kaplans style, and half-made arguments against his worldview. What it isnt is a helpful portrayal of the substance of the book. We know that its Kaplan, we learn that the reviewer doesnt much like Kaplan, and that the book is about the U.S. militarys role all over the world. But thats all.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the best that our soldiers can accomplish when largely left to their own devices should read the book.
Michael E. Ruane, writing in the Washington Post: "Although the shattering psychological impact of war is well known, experts have become increasingly interested in those who emerge from combat feeling enhanced. Some psychiatrists and psychologists believe that those soldiers have experienced a phenomenon known as post-traumatic growth, or adversarial growth." This recent discovery that men are not made out of porcelain is another indication that we are not in another "Vietnam era."
I SING what was lost and dread what was won,
I walk in a battle fought over again,
My king a lost king, and lost soldiers my men;
Feet to the Rising and Setting may run,
They always beat on the same small stone.
There’s a lot of interest in the subject on the Left. An entire issue of Mother Jones is devoted to examining various aspects of conservative religion. (I’ll comment on some of the articles in the coming days.) Then there are these two websites.
Finally, John Judis has an article in Dissent focusing on religion and U.S. foreign policy. One of the interesting elements in the article is the shift from blaming U.S. foreign policy on (Jewish) neoconservatives to attributing it to Christian millenialism. Turns out that Paul Wolfowitz has drunk deeply from the same well that has refreshed Protestant millenialists through the ages. The conclusion also is interesting:
Americans who want to influence our foreign policy have to recognize the existence of a guiding framework inherited from Protestant millennialism. And that certainly includes critics of George W. Bush. Bush’s belief that America has a “mission” or a “calling” from the “Maker of Heaven” to spread freedom around the world puts him in a mainstream of American foreign policy. Yet the critics who point to the influence of the role of religion in Bush’s foreign policy still have a point. What sets this president off from some of his more illustrious predecessors is that in making foreign policy—a task that requires an empirical assessment of means and ends—he has been guided both by the objectives of Protestant millennialism and by the mentality it has spawned. That has made for some stirring oratory, but it has detracted from a clear understanding of the challenges facing the United States. Indeed, it has laid the basis for the greatest American foreign policy disaster since the war in Vietnam.
Earlier, Judis compares and contrasts American millenial foreign policy with earlier European counterparts, who were chastened by failure and subsequently became realistic in a way that he approves of. Does he wish for similar failures on our part? Indeed, whatever the merits of his historical analysis, it’s very clear that his account of the present situation is marked by a kind of death wish for American policy. Everything is bleak; nothing good has happened. This strikes me as at least as unrealistic as the position he attributes to his adversaries.
Real Clear Politics.
The turkey is in the oven (and will soon be away from the computer), the first guests (grandparents from South Carolina) have arrived, with others expected within an hour or so, and the house is tolerably clean, so its time for us all to have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Joe Knippenberg is elegant in reminding us that Thanksgiving is a bit of a complicated holiday, at once civil and religious. While it celebrates human accomplishments, it rightly insists that they are in some way dependent on Gods will. We are called upon to be humble, penitent, and generous. Lovely reminder. Thanks, Joe.
Who issued this one?
Two hundred years ago the frontier colonies of America braced for a long and determined conflict with the strongest military power in the world. The petition of our Founding Fathers for redress of their grievances had been rejected by King and Parliament, and the people of America began the struggle from which emerged this great Nation.
Our Nation is the oldest continuously surviving republic in the world. For 200 years our freedoms have been questioned, challenged, tested and reinforced. These freedoms have shaped our destiny and served as a beacon to other peoples. Our Nation draws its strength from people of every creed, of every color, of every race - native Americans and people from every nation in the world who for two centuries have come to share in the rewards and responsibilities of our American Republic.
On the eve of our 200th year, Thanksgiving Day should be a day of special reflection upon the qualities of heart, mind and character of the men and women who founded and built our great Nation. Let us join in giving thanks for our cultural pluralism. Let us celebrate our diversity and the great strengths that have come from sharing our traditions, our ideas, our resources, our hopes and our dreams. Let us be grateful that for 200 years our people have been dedicated to fulfilling the democratic ideal - dedicated to securing "liberty and justice for all."
Let each of us, in his own way, join in expressing personal gratitude for the blessings of liberty and peace we enjoy today. In so doing, let us reaffirm our belief in a dynamic spirit that will continue to nurture and guide us as we prepare to meet the challenge of our third century.
I call upon all Americans on this day to gather with family and friends in homes and places of worship and join in offering gratitude for this Nation’s countless blessings. I ask that we share with our senior citizens and with those less fortunate than ourselves this special day that brings us all closer together.
Put your answers or guesses in the comments. I’ll let you know once someone has gotten it right.
Hillary Clinton rejects an immediate pullout from Iraq. This reminds me of a joke:
A busload of politicians were driving down a country road when, all of a sudden, the bus ran off the road, and crashed into a tree in an old farmers field.
The old farmer, after seeing what had happened, went over to investigate.
He then proceeded to dig a hole to bury the politicians.
A few days later the local sheriff came out, saw the crashed bus, and asked the old farmer where all the politicians had gone.
The old farmer said he had buried them.
The sheriff asked the old farmer, "Were they all dead?"
The old farmer replied, "Well, some of them said they werent, but you know how them politicians lie."
Mark Steyns latest is both true and amusing. He notes the huge demonstrations against Zarqawi in Jordan (lets listen to the Arab streets, shall we, and why isnt the BBC covering this?), even though the Bad Guy apologized for having killed Muslims; he also said that King Abdullah should be decapitated. Oh, well, almost a nice guy, this Zarqawi. Steyns also mentions Murtha, Vietnam, and Europe. A good reading for the early morning.
John von Heyking is concerned about Iran, and not only because of their nuclear ambitions. He thinks that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s words and actions are very much worth watching, especially regarding the return of the Twelfth Imam, which is very important to Shiites.
While the issue is complicated, von Heyking’s piece is very clear (also good links). His last paragraph:
"Western observers need to be able to understand the ideological and religious overtones of the current situation in Iran. Ahmadinejad’s peculiar references to the Twelfth Imam are no mere eccentricity to be taken lightly. Nor do they seem to be the rhetorical ploy of a politician manipulating the excitable masses (as some have interpreted Saddam Hussein’s embrace of Islamism in the later part of his rule). Minimally, Ahmadinejad’s speeches and actions portend a constitutional crisis for the Iranian regime. Maximally, there are times when one should take bombastic statements not as double-talk, but for what they are."
This is ABC News account of Bushs stop in Mongolia. This is the BBCs version. All the jokes about Mongolia (fierce warriors, statute of Ghengis Khan, etc) aside, I think it is significant that Bush would be the first U.S. president to visit the country.
Its location makes it important to us. Here is the CIA Factbook on Mongolia.
These are some opinions on the usefulness of the small arms used in Iraq (M16, M240, etc). Sounds legit.