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VD Hanson Loves Howard Dean

[ 0 ] October 10, 2006 |

Or at least I must assume that he does. In another part of the post that Dave refers to below, Hanson declares:

My rule of thumb is that almost every current, know-it-all critic, whether a Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chris Matthews (“we are all neo-cons now”), Francis Fukuyama, etc., at one time or another voiced support for removing Saddam and bringing war to Iraq.

One constant in their various escape hatches is that a particular lapse, a certain mistake alone explains their abandonment of earlier zeal—too few troops, disbanding the Iraqi army, not trisecting the country, the tenure of Donald Rumsfeld, etc.

In contrast, the simple truth is too bitter to confess: their support follows the pulse of the battlefield. When the statue fell and approval for the war hovered near 80%, few wanted to be on the wrong side of history. But fast forward three years plus: after well over 2,000 battle deaths, and chaos in Iraq, most not only don’t wish to be associated with the stasis, but contort to assure that they never supported the war in the beginning (hard to do with footprints on the internet), or were supposedly betrayed by the incompetence of others.


My own views remain the same. While I didn’t support removing Saddam prior to September 11, I am glad we did afterwards.

So it seems to me that Hanson must have been writing checks to Howard Dean for President fund for some time now. Dean, of course, has had the good fortune and good sense to be right about the war from the beginning. He never supported the war, predicted that the occupation would be a disaster, predicted that it would weaken our position in Afghanistan, and noted that it would strengthen the hand of Iran and North Korea. He also correctly pointed out that the capture of Saddam Hussein wouldn’t change the course of the war, a statement for which he was roundly denounced at the time.

So VD Hanson must be a big Dean fan, right? He does like consistency, doesn’t he? Well, maybe not…

Dean seems to evoke Vietnam without any inkling how close the United States was, after a decade of ordeal, to achieving many of the goals originally envisioned — something like a viable South Korean government that, unlike its Communist counterpart, might have a chance to evolve into a truly consensual society. Much less does he cite the millions who perished, were incarcerated, or sent into exile following the establishment of a cruel Stalinist regime, or the effect of that defeat on the security of the U.S. and its allies, as later demonstrated in Cambodia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Central America.

Forget that Hanson has only the most tenuous grasp on the reality of the Vietnam conflict, and instead savor the love of Dean. More love here:

When I turn on the TV and see some wild-eyed crazy-like public figure ranting, it is not a John Bircher frothing about pure drinking water and statesmen of dual loyalties, but prominent Democratic politicians like an Al Gore or Howard Dean screaming to the point of exhaustion, alluding to the end of America as we have known it, and citing a “betrayal” of the United States.

Ooh, and here too:

Lincoln was often cartooned as an ungainly ape. During the hysterics over the Korean War, George Marshall — who earlier oversaw the U.S. military victory of World War II and aid to a postwar starving Europe — was called a “front man for traitors” and “a living lie” by Indiana Sen. William Jenner.

In this context, Howard Dean’s assertion that the present war is unwinnable or John Kerry’s claim that our troops are engaging in terrorizing Iraqis is hardly novel.

So I’m left confused; VD Hanson claims that he’s particularly incensed by people who favored the war at one point but oppose it now. His record (and I assure you that this was quite representative) seems to indicate that he doesn’t have much regard for Howard Dean, who’s been quite consistent in his position on the war. I don’t know what I should think; if I were the more cynical type, I might think that VD Hanson was a liar, and that he really just loathes everyone who opposed the war at any time. The more optimistic take, I suppose, is that he’s just intellectually confused.

And while I’m on the subject, Hanson ends his post with this:

A final note. At some point all these retired generals need to simply quiet down and think. In World War II, Nimitz or Eisenhower never blamed the Secretary of War or FDR for the mistakes on Iwo Jima or the Kasserine Pass. Instead, they called in their top brass, drew up a plan, followed it, and then presented a successful fait accompli to their civilian overseers. In other words, our four-stars need to summon their colonels and majors in the field, draw up a military strategy that ensures our political aims of seeing a stable consensual Iraq, and then win. Blaming Bush, or faulting Rumsfeld is a waste of time; figuring out as military officers how to achieve victory over a canny enemy is all that matters.

Right. So these men that each have, literally, infinitely more military experience than Hanson get some time in the corner to think about what they’ve done. I’d suggest a relatively simple answer, Vic; the difference is that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a competent executive in a well conceived and winnable war, characteristics that George W. Bush and the current conflict lack.


What, Henry Kissinger is a Republican?

[ 0 ] October 10, 2006 |

Summarized Hitch:

I’m shocked, schocked that the people who planned my beloved war would have anything to do with Henry Kissinger. Why, I thought that they shared all of my views on foreign policy, and that the necons were somehow hermetically sealed off from Kissinger’s influence. Also, in spite of the fact that Kissinger has been explicitly arguing against a withdrawal from Iraq, it will clearly be his fault if we withdraw and something bad happens.

Read the whole thing. Hitch’s position is based on a couple faulty premises that, to their credit, many other liberal hawks have come to grips with. The first and most important is that the war that they wanted was not the war that they were going to get, and that this was obvious from day one. No matter how powerful in the abstract the case to liberate Iraq might have been, the actual execution of its liberation would inevitably fall into the hands of men and women who were both incompetent and utterly uninterested in the goals that the Euston Manifestors pursued.

The second and related point is that, despite Hitchens’ fantasies, the foreign policy wing of the Republican Party has never been neatly divided between realists and neocons. There have been disputes within the foreign policy community, but the core of the establishment has remained the same since Nixon’s second term. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Scowcroft, and others have been around for a long time. The direction is dependent on the man at the top; under the experience George H.W. Bush, a competent and reasonably moderate foreign policy was possible, while under his son it has not. It’s absurd to declare Henry Kissinger a war criminal then to explicitly support the foreign policy efforts of a Republican administration; only an idiot or an ideologue could convince himself that Kissinger would have no influence.

A Blessing and a Curse

[ 0 ] October 10, 2006 |

Two Fridays ago the Kentucky Canadian Roundtable treated myself and about forty other scholars and students to a day long seminar on Canadian foreign policy. In attendance were Liberal Party MP Dr. Keith Martin and Dennis Moore, Public Affairs Officer from the Detroit Consulate.

The program was put together by the Canadian Consulate in Detroit, and is apparently intended to serve as a reminder of Canada’s importance to the economy and social life of Kentucky. Did you know that Canada represents 34% of Kentucky’s exports, or that Kentucky has a $.6 billion trade surplus with Canada? Apparently, 280000 Canadians visited Kentucky last year, while only 70000 Kentuckans visited Canada; odd, that. Also, no fewer than two Canadian horses have won the Kentucky Derby. Anyway, it occurred to me while in attendance that programs like this are an important component of modern foreign policy; direct appeals to the population of the target country, bypassing government-to-government interaction. I suppose that the whole thing would have felt more sinister if the country sponsoring the event were Israel, France, China, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela.

One of the breakout sessions concerned Canada’s status as a second tier power. A consideration of Canada’s position has to include, I think, not just the observation that Canada is a second tier military and economic power, but also that Canada stands in an almost unique position even among second tier states. For most of its existence, the problem of territorial integrity has largely been off the table, the responsibility of a much more powerful patron. This is not to say that Canada has somehow escaped the dangers of the international system, just that the critical questions of Canadian national survival have been answered in London and Washington rather than in Ottawa. Since Canada historically has broadly shared the values of its two imperial patrons, its position as world actor has essentially been as adjunct to empire. This is not to minimize Canada’s ability to affect the world, as having influence over Washington and London gives Ottawa a non-trivial capability to pursue its foreign policy values. Indeed, when one of the members of our roundtable asked “What is Canada’s greatest foreign policy resource?”, the answer seemed to me clearly to be its ability to influence United States foreign policy, even if that capacity sometimes seems limited.

Listening to Martin, who is the official Foreign Affairs Opposition Critic, I got the sense that the question of Canada’s relationship with the United States is more one of tactics than strategy. Liberals agree that maintaining a close relationship is critical, but differ with Harper regarding what this means for the relationship with the Bush administration and with the United Nations. Cleaving close to the United States does not mean going down with the sinking ship that is the Bush administration. From an outside point of view, it’s difficult to imagine a situation in which Canada will break more cleanly from the direction of US foreign policy than it already has. I’d be very surprised, for example, if Canada scaled back its presence in Afghanistan, even in response to heavy casualties.

In any case, it was a useful workshop.

SOB of the Day

[ 0 ] October 9, 2006 |

Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter (which, I’ll allow, is a cool name).

On the TeeVee

[ 0 ] October 9, 2006 |

Today, thanks to Kim Jong Il, I got to be on the TV. I talked about North Korea on the 12:30pm (27 Newsfirst), and on the 5:30pm (36 Action News). Each station interviewed me for about two minutes, asking similar but not identical questions. The situation had developed across the day (in particular in reference to the possible failure of the test), so the answers were a bit different, too.

The experience, certainly, was kind of cool. Of course, that North Korean bastard decided to blow up a bomb on the day that I wasn’t exactly dressed for success, so I had to run home, unrumple my jacket, and put on a tie. Both station crews had the kind of casual professionalism that I really like, regardless of the profession. It’s weird; I was of course paranoid about saying or doing something stupid (picking my noise or launching into an obscenity laden tirade against Mickey Kaus, for example), yet they do this every single day, and don’t seem to worry about it at all. In one of the newsrooms, a discussion of Anchorman broke out during the station break. It was fascinating just watching how the newsroom operated; how the weatherman, for example, wandered across the room chatting while the satellite photo was up. The funniest parts of both interviews were the segment segues; in the first, they went from discussing a rogue state with nukes to “Why can’t men and women just get along when it comes to watching football?”, while the second followed up with a bit on the house from A Christmas Story. Nevertheless, both interviews were enjoyable.

In between I talked for about half and hour on the radio, a discussion which was obviously a lot more detailed and, to me, interesting. Talk radio catches a lot of flak, but done correctly it can convey quite a bit of information. Of course, fewer people listen than watch, fewer still read the newspaper, and very few indeed read the relevant books and blogs, so we have to start somewhere.


[ 0 ] October 9, 2006 |

I suppose I should make some substantive comment…

I don’t think that the North Korean test is significant in military terms. We knew (or suspected so strongly that we had to plan as if we knew) that the North Koreans had built atomic bombs. That they would test one is completely rational, given that they probably weren’t quite sure that the device would work. The detonation of the bomb changes nothing, absolutely nothing, about the current deterrent relationship between the United States and North Korea. If the US were going to attack NK over its nuclear program, we would have started bombing four years ago, or ten years ago. Moreover, if North Korea wanted to commit national suicide by launching an attack against South Korea or Japan or the United States, it could have done so last with with nukes and at any other point in its history with conventional forces.

Diplomatically things are a little bit more interesting. The North Korean test will substantially strengthen the hand of Shinzo Abe and others who have argued for a more assertive Japanese foreign policy. Even if we don’t see Article 9 go away, it will certainly be reinterpreted such that it could allow offensive military action against North Korea. There’s also going to be some pressure on South Korea to develop its own weapon, and I don’t really have a sense of how that’s going to play out. As long as South Korea is under the US deterrent umbrella, nukes don’t really do it that much good, although they might reinforce the deterrent relationship, just as French and British nukes did in the 1960s. The situation that could become really problematic is that between Taiwan and the PRC; if Taiwan decided that this was the time to try to go nuclear (and there’s no evidence that they’re thinking along those lines), then things could get ugly really quick.

Any diplomatic effort to get North Korea to give up its nukes depends almost entirely on the stances of South Korea, Russia, and China. None of the three, as Matt has pointed out, have much interest in seeing North Korea collapse. I’m skeptical that they’ll be willing to put much effort into a diplomatic effort when the military situation hasn’t substantially changed, especially given that a collapse of North Korea is probably the most dangerous turn that this situation could take in the short term. We will see more careful monitoring of North Korean land and maritime trade, in an effort to ensure that nuclear material and technology don’t leave the hermit kingdom.

In other news, Wretchard of Belmont Club is an idiot. He writes:

Now all the folks who wanted 400,000 troops in Iraq and thought the transformational initiative which emphasized technology and precision weapons were a crock may grudgingly conclude that maybe Donald Rumsfeld did have a point. The US requires a full-spectrum fighting force able to engage the AQ and North Korea. A world power like America needs to think of more than one theater of operations, always. Also critics may now remember how, unremarked, the administration pulled US troops back from the DMZ, which if they were still there would make them sitting ducks. As it is, they far enough back to give them a chance. Also, the unnoticed development of facilities at Guam have given the US a capability it now needs. Not everything, but something. That plus BMD defense. Maybe I’m looking for silver linings where none are to be found. But just maybe not everyone was asleep.

There’s so much wrong here that it would take WAY too long to deal with it all, but briefly I’ll note a) that few people argued against the transformational initiative, while a lot of people argued that trying to occupy a country like Iraq while simultaeneously making that transformation was a really, really terrible idea, b) that “thinking about more than one theater of operations” significantly predates Rumsfeld’s tenure, and c) that the discussion of US troop disposition in North Korea is a non-sequitur; I can recall no one arguing that moving the troops was a bad idea (it was certainly publicized at the time), and it won’t have the slightest effect on the crisis unless the US decides to start bombing, an eventuality that I find extremely unlikely for the reasons outlined above.

Keep searching for the silver lining, Wretchard; I’ll allow that it’s no easy task.


[ 0 ] October 8, 2006 |

It looks as if the test has been conducted.

As far as I can tell, the world hasn’t ended. North Korea has one fewer nuke than it had yesterday.

You Say Terrorist, I Say… Friendly Terrorist

[ 0 ] October 8, 2006 |

Be sure to read the tale of Luis Posada Carriles, the one terrorist suspect that the Bush administration refuses to send to Cuba. The reason? Posada murdered 73 Cubans by blowing them up with a toothpaste tube full of plastic explosives, and has close and long standing ties with the CIA. Terrorists and freedom fighters, indeed.

Hussein…er, Steinbrenner Reacts to Defeat by Shooting his Generals

[ 0 ] October 8, 2006 |

Watching (briefly) the Ducks getting the stuffing stomped out of them led me to seek refuge in thoughts of 1994, when Oregon went to its first Rose Bowl in thirty years. Success wasn’t confined to the field; “Fullback into the line” Rich Brooks, longtime Oregon coach, abandoned Eugene for failure in the NFL, followed by failure in Lexington, Kentucky. This was a glorious thing, as it ushered in the Age of Bellotti, and the longest period of sustained success that the Ducks have ever experienced.

I am experiencing a similar joy today, as, in the wake of what must be regarded as a timeless victory by the Detroit Tigers (how often is Detroit on the side of Good?) , the Yankees have reportedly decided to fire Torre and hire “Sweet” Lou Piniella, who has a long history of leading teams with multiple Hall of Fame caliber players to 86 win seasons. Oh glorious day…

If the Yankees dump A-Rod they’ll need to pay a significant chunk of his salary, and some team somewhere is going to find themselves with a Hall of Fame shortstop for less cash than the Yanks are paying Jeter.

Tall Stacks

[ 0 ] October 8, 2006 |

I’ve been at Tall Stacks, a semi-annual music and steamboat festival in Cincinnati, for two of the last three days. Saw Peter Rowan, Junior Brown, Del McCoury, Rhett Miller and the Believers, and Wilco. Good times.

Sunday Battleship Blogging: Admiral Scheer

[ 0 ] October 8, 2006 |

The Treaty of Versailles limited the German navy to vessels of 10000 tons or less. The intention was to prevent Germany from constructing any ships larger than coastal defense vessels, although the letter of the Treaty allowed Germany to build ships as large as Washington Treaty heavy cruisers. Using the most advanced construction techniques possible, the Germans decided to circumvent the Treaty by building capital ships within the legal limits.

Germany had used surface commerce raiders to good effect in World War I, and decided that purpose-built ships might do an even better job. Given the Treaty limitations, Germany could not hope to equal the Royal Navy in any case, so commerce raiding was a natural option. Admiral Scheer, the second Panzerschiff, displaced about 12000 tons while carrying 6 11″ guns in two triple turrets, and could make 28.5 knots. Scheer used diesel engines to provide for greater range. The Germans saved weight through the use of welding and a relatively light armor scheme. The German hope was that Admiral Scheer and his (Admiral Scheer is one of a very few ships referred to in the masculine) sisters could outrun any foe that they could not outgun. It’s unclear whether Scheer could have been expected to defeat a standard Washington Treaty cruiser, as such cruiser had more guns that fired more rapidly, and the armor scheme of Panzerschiff was not sufficient to protect from 8″ shells. In any case, Scheer was clearly outclassed by the three British battlecruisers. The construction of Dunkerque and Strasbourg by France cemented the obsolescence of the Panzerschiff type, and the last two ships were cancelled.

Obsolescence has never stood in the way of employment during war. Admiral Scheer was used by the Nazis to aid the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War, firing on Republican positions and escorting Nationalist convoys. He underwent an overhaul and refit at the beginning of the war, and did not participate in the invasion of Norway. In October 1940 Scheer set out on a raiding cruise that lasted nearly eight months and took him into the Indian Ocean. On the cruise Scheer managed to sink sixteen ships with a total displacement of over 100000 tons. Although the raid was a success, it didn’t compare all that favorably in cost-effectiveness to U-boats or even to converted merchant cruiser raiders. In August 1942 Admiral Scheer sortied against Arctic convoy PQ-17, which was scattered in response with extremely heavy loss to submarines and Luftwaffe aircraft. In August he sortied again, shelling a Soviet weather station and sinking a Soviet icebreaker. Hitler became disillusioned with the surface fleet after 1942, and Scheer rarely left port for the next two years.

In late 1944 the German situation in the Baltic began to rapidly deteriorate. Scheer escorted escaping ships and supplied artillery support for retreating German forces. He returned to Kiel in April, 1945 and was sunk by an RAF attack. The wreck was partially broken up after the war, and the area in which the hull lay filled in with rubble and covered to serve as a parking lot.

Trivia: What Royal Navy dreadnought did not participate in either World War I or World War II?

UPDATE: In comments, Martin asks why Scheer was known as a “he”. Discussion here; all other examples of masculine ships are Kriegsmarine vessels named after men, which tells me that it has something to do with the Nazi construction of masculinity. The captain of Bismarck, apparently, ordered his crew to use the masculine because of Bismarck’s great power.

While researching the question, I found that the crewmen of Yamato commonly referred to her as “more beautiful than any woman,” which is kind of sweet.

That’s Gotta be Tough, Dude

[ 0 ] October 7, 2006 |

Brian Bennett, gay Republican political consultant, on why he stays with the Party:

When asked why he remains in the party, Mr. Bennett gave an answer common to gay Republicans: he said he remained fundamentally in sync with the small government principles of the party and was committed to changing what he considers its antigay attitudes.

Heh. It’s funny because it’s sad…

Regarding gay Republicans, it’s tough for me to have a lot of sympathy for people who are willing to let gay activists fight the most important battles for civil rights while themselves remaining within the comfortable embrace of a Party whose membership finds them loathsome and which has fought tooth and nail against virtually every effort to improve life for gay Americans over the past forty years. Certainly there’s no contradiction between being gay and supporting small government or a strong defense (although one might observe that there’s a significant contradiction between being a Republican and supporting those things), but gay Republicans seem happy to enjoy the benefits that gay activists have struggled for without being bothered to life a finger in support of those efforts.

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