Friday, September 5, 2008

Leftist theories of peace in Europe

Clive Wrote,

Polly wrote, "Just think, you guys gave us America.'

Don't let Lawrence hear you say that, he's busy re-writing history. We also begat Australia. Enough said.

'We're wondering what a non-military war looks like? A war of words? A Matrix-style war, where one side thinks it's winning and the other side is losing?'

I was attempting to differentiate between the two world wars and 'modern' ones. Where WW1 was essentially a war about market supremacy and empires, and WW2 was about defeating fascism, modern wars are about regional domination. During the cold war they were fought between client states. Post cold war they are about racial disharmony, arms markets and, under the Bush doctrine, capital markets. But not freedom, democracy or the end of terror. Note that without terror, the US Empire cannot expand.

'I would imagine that not having a war in Europe in the 60 years following WWI and WWII would not be too surprising. It was a pretty traumatizing experience. It has to be for that reason that our administration is so gung ho on war, because they never experienced it first hand.'

This is something that Lawrence seems to forget with his sniping at Europe and France in particular. Millions of lives were lost in both world wars and he has to ask why France (and Germany though they never seem to get a mention) are somewhat down on going to war. Of course, the response is that the US was responsible for maintaining the peace during the cold war, but does that automatically mean that Europe is obliged to follow when they embark on Empire building. You're right, I think, that the Bush Administration discounts the experience of war on the ground. Yes, the body bags come back - though that isn't shown on TV - but to have homes and infrastructure destroyed, to become refugees, to die of starvation, in short to suffer the experience of war is absolutely alien.

'...there's no way Lawrence is going to see that only peace begets peace, that democracy can't be forced at gunpoint. I think it's time to pack it in on that quarter and watch Lawrence save the world by destroying it while feeling superior to everyone else for not joining him.'

Ah but I enjoy the challenge. And Lawrence enjoys it too I'm sure. I can sense him thrashing away at his keyboard even now, his fingers dropping bombs onto the list, each stroke a small explosion until that final full stop leads to the triumphant click of his index finger that sends the next war-winning note into the ether. (Just don't tell him that an Englishman invented html).



Lawrence responds,

Clive, you have stated that I have forgotten that Europe and France in particular has lost millions of lives. You aren’t counting, I suppose, all of those times the U.S. needed to rush across the Atlantic to your defense in your World Wars. You seem to be saying something different, namely that France & Germany have lost their nerve. All those horrifying deaths -- who wouldn’t lose their nerve? Is that what you’re saying? Did you catch my friends comment about why the British are having trouble in Basra? He says they are overly timid when it comes to dealing with potential hostiles. You wouldn’t think the Iraqis would prefer the no-nonsense approach of the Americans but according to a friend who spent considerable time in Iraq they do. You have a gun and you aren’t on our side, you get shot. And of course you wouldn’t use my expression, “loss of nerve.” I realize that of course. You would say something like, “Germany and the other European nations have learned the evils of war and have given up their evil ways and entered the realm of blessed timidity.”

If what you are saying is true then the Europeans have gone from one extreme to the other. They have gone from being the most violent people on the planet to being the most timid, and here I am talking primarily about Germany, but I’m also talking about the Vichy French and others that collaborated with the Germans, Austrians and Italians. Taking your implication, you probably believe reading the works I do, books by military historians, is dangerous – sort of like owning a gun. You own a gun and per force you must go out and shoot someone with it. Well, of course I think that nonsense – if that is what you are saying. Historically we have been a warlike species and while there are some theories about how we can change that condition, those theories haven’t been proved. In fact one of the most likely ones, that of Fukuyama, is criticized by the people who would most benefit from it, i.e., the Europeans. The promotion of Liberal Democracy would give the Europeans what they want, the elimination of the need to practice war. But they are hostile to Fukuyama’s theory as well. Perhaps Leftist Europeans are congenitally incapable of understanding Fukuyama.

Here I think of Robert Kagan and his much-loved by Europeans Of Paradise and Power, America and Europe in the New World Order. The norm in Europe according to Kagan is the condition of being protected by the U.S. Europe hasn’t needed to practice war during that period; so I suppose many of them ask why they should start now? America is Mars and Europe is Venus because American protected Europe during the Cold War and made it unnecessary for the Europeans to have competent armies. I think Kagan had continental Europe in mind but I’m sure many in Britain share the continental European viewpoint – you certainly seem to, Clive. You live “In Dartmoor (where people worry about their gardens, about the viability of the local pub, about the state of the cricket pitch, about the number of foxes, about a whole host of small things, but not about war war war).” That is because Uncle Sam is over here worried about war war war so you can tend to your whole host of small things.

You try to make things a matter of what people want. “Do you want Huntington to be right”? Someone asked that several times though I tried to ignore him. That is silly. What ought to be asked is “is Huntington right”? Why would I want someone to be right if he is wrong? Or why would my wanting him to be right matter if he is right? That is a silly question, but several of you like to ask questions like that. It must be a Leftist thing. I have kept the theses of both Fukuyama and Huntington in mind since reading them. The valid question is to ask which of them is right.

You have said rightly that “there is no way Lawrence is going to realize that peace begets peace.” Lawrence is never going to realize that because it is nonsense. It has no basis in reality. You experience peace in Europe because we, the Americans and the Russians, made you quit fighting. I rather prefer the America’s role in that but the effect is what I’m talking about now. You couldn’t get at each other as long as we were standing in your way. And now you remonstrate with Americans or perhaps only this American for not understanding that peace begets peace. That doesn’t make any sense.

And are you certain you want to keep on chiding us as you do? Aren’t you worried about your Russians? They don’t seem quite as warm and fuzzy as when they were joining France in an attempt to stop America from dealing with Saddam. How is your “peace begets peace” working in Georgia? How is it working in Iran? Don’t all your absurd Leftist theories sometimes overwhelm you? It’s good for you that stupidity isn’t terminal, but I wish it was.

Lawrence Helm

No comments: