Sunday, September 15, 2002

Also found on InstaPundit:

PAUL WRIGHT says that the antiwar movement is suffering from the generational imperialism of baby boomers mired in Vietnam-era thinking:

The old revolutionaries need to keep an image in mind before they put their hand up: Eisenhower. No-one could fault his ability at war, his patriotism or his intellect. So outflank him call him outdated, out of touch, a relic. But consider: his war was only 25 years out of date when JFK ordered the troops into Vietnam. Your war is older than that, and much more obsolete.

Actually, it was closer to 15 years -- but that only makes Wright's point stronger.

Pardon me. I was choking on my own rage. Obsolete? OBSOLETE? I'm sorry, is there some sort of half-life for history that somebody neglected to tell me? Are we supposed to simply ignore the experiences and wisdom of our predecessors if they happened to live before a certain arbitrary (and obviously constantly-changing) date? Are we supposed to discard one war in favour of another because the other one is more recent?

(Then again, that'd make perfect sense considering the number of bloggers who seem to think the only relevant part of history started in-or-around 1936, judging by all the dreadfully myopic WWII citations that pass for historical reference most of the time.)

Well damn; better throw out every piece of knowledge gained before the current generation (regardless of whether or not it's relevant to the current situation). Throw out Aristotle, Socrates, and Cicero. Throw out Herodotes, Thucydides, Hobbes, and Machiavelli. Throw out Franklin, Paine, Locke and Mill. Throw out all the painful lessons learned from the mistakes of colonialism, and the even more painful lessons learned from WWI. (Well, it's pretty obvious that that's already been done, but for the sake of argument...) Throw out pretty much everything. If it hasn't been done already.

Update: just read Wright's blog entry (which was unavailable when I first read this.) By and large it's simply identification of the ideals of the left with the worst of the beneficiaries of those ideals, despite the clear and obvious fact that nobody on the left actually liked the Taliban or Osama before the war began, and I doubt they're big fans of Saddam as well. They just know better than to believe self-serving justifications by those who wouldn't even pay lip service to the principles they use for justification were it not in their interest. They also understand that you can't discard principles that serve a universal purpose when it makes it more difficult to deal with those whom they dislike.

(He also pulls out that ridiculous "you won't accept any argument or justification" strawman, which is not only abundantly silly but neatly misses the point that there may be justifiable conflicts, just not this one.)

Apparently he also thinks that technology renders history obsolete, at least according to his point-by-point rundown of how warfare is ever-so-much more professional and technical now than it was back "in the old days", so the old complaints don't apply. I would suggest that Vietnam is the war that is most applicable to that assumption, not the least. This ain't the first time we've thought this way. Hopefully it won't bite us in the ass again, like it did before.

Elsewhere, he also demonstrates profound ignorance with this little bit:
A moment to consider the word "coalition". There is no lower limit to how many make up a coalition, provided it is more than one. It can be two, or two hundred. Currently, the US has the backing of Australia and the UK, as well as a few others. Now this is, by any definition, a coalition. Is there an accepted lower number before the glorious Peace Crusade accepts that there is "international support"? Is there an accepted number at which point the US can declare "we have a coalition"?

There is a body of little thought that maintains the UN owns the rights to the Seal of Good Warmaking. But which part of the UN? Keep in mind that the question of Iraq has never been put to the General Assembly, so there has not been the required two thirds majority vote. The extant Resolution was passed by the Security Council, which is 15 nations, and they all don't all have to vote. When it comes down to tin tacks, the five Permanent Members run the show. All they need is their own vote, and three others to get a vote up. Is this the lowest number required?

I'm not really sure, but it's unlikely the First Gulf War had anything like unanimous approval. It might just have been an oversight, not getting the green light from Malawi, or failing to acquire the proper approvals from Monaco. Is the 1991 coalition the benchmark for future wars? No-one gets to invade anyone without the approval of the USSR. Oops. Or the Security Council, except that many of the nations that were on the Council then have rotated off.

Quite the accomplishment: he showed that he hasn't the faintest clue what multilateralism is, what the point of it is, what the "coalition" term stands for in this context, what the U.N. charter says, what the U.N. does, what the role of the Security Council is, what the role of the General Assembly is, where the point of conflict is right now, what happened during the first Gulf War, or, well, anything.

Enough. Waste of time, really, as is this entire line of argument, whether it's coming from N.Z. Bear or Paul Wright. Yes, there are situations where it would be acceptable to invade Iraq. Yes, there are situations where the left would agree that it would be acceptable. Yes, the left wants the right to be bloody well honest about the whole thing, and not try to hijack left issues like women's rights, poverty relief, or democratization when it's been patently obvious that the right didn't give a damn about those issues before they had a war to justify. (Human rights is a justification, not a reason- stop trying to pretend otherwise, it doesn't wash). Yes, if these things happened and the right actually presented its case honestly then the left might actually agree that the case is valid.


No, there isn't enough evidence right now to convince anyone who wasn't convinced right off the bat sight-unseen. No, there isn't any reason why the left should buy the right's arguments. No, the U.N. shouldn't be rendered irrelevant, so that any conflict that the U.S. doesn't deign to get involved in turns into a brutal conflagration (like Rwanda.) No, national sovereignty isn't something that can be tossed aside by the U.S., because if they do so everybody else will, and that ain't a pretty situation. No, the left isn't going to only pay attention to the human rights abuses that the right is using to trumpet U.S. interventionalism when it's ignoring the human rights abuses that accompany that same policy, at least when the U.S. (and its most fervent supporters) are trying to portray itself as superior not only to loathesome little toads like Saddam but to the rest of the free world.

I don't know what's sadder; the weak-ass generalizations on the part of the left's "critics", or the fact that otherwise sensible people buy it.

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