January 10, 2004
THE SLEEP OF THE JACKSONIANS (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)
Of all the articles that I have read on the web since 9/11, none has had the clarifying impact of The Jacksonian Tradition, by Walter Russell Mead – made available, then as now, by that other indispensable mind: Steven Den Beste at USS Clueless. If you haven’t read it yet, you are depriving yourself. Go read it right now – I’ll just wait right here.
The thing I personally have found so strange in the days since September 11th, 2001, is how compelling and seemingly random this Jacksonian response has been, both in my life and among many people who have become good friends during the course of this first year of Eject! Eject! Eject!
It’s been my pleasure to have met or spoken directly to Steve Den Beste, Glenn Reynolds, Charles Johnson, Kim and Connie Du Toit, Emperor Misha I, Rachel Lucas, Roger Simon, and many other webloggers – not to mention a sizable contingent of you kind readers. And what has amazed and delighted me most is just how varied and diverse a group it is, and yet, one driven by an identical passion to do or write or say what they can to help defend this country when it is under attack, both physical and ideological. So far, the only thing I have been able to find in common among us is a deep and abiding sense of gratitude for being lucky enough to live in this magnificent nation. Beyond that, we are as scattered and unlikely as that group that found itself at the base of Devil’s Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind – a smattering of like-minded strangers, each driven by their own internal visions to arrive at the same place at the same time.
Having read, and re-read, the Mead article mentioned above, I would have to define every one of us as Jacksonians, and our coalescing in the days after 9/11 as something very similar to an antibody response to the effects of that day. It takes a lot to activate this Jacksonian response; and, once mobilized, quite a lot for it to subside.
Safety and security are quite frankly what it takes, and we have done quite well in that regard in the intervening months. And as that threat appears to have waned (which many threats will do after having their asses handed to them), so too does much of the urgency and fire that pushes each of us in the height of that antibody response.
Looking around at my cohorts in this adventure, I see unmistakable signs that we Jacksonians are once again getting a little drowsy as terrorists and Idiotarians scatter and flee in disarray. If things continue to go well, it won’t be too much longer before we lie down in the cool clearing, the sound of bowling gnomes in our ears, only to awaken again, in true Rip Van Winkle fashion, when some new horror appears on our doorstep.
This scares the living hell out of me.
The essays that have made up my work so far have been attempts to capture and synthesize --for myself, at least -- some of the key issues at stake for a democracy in wartime. And yet, I see many of my friends either slowing down, or ceasing altogether their weblog adventure, and I too feel similar tugs in that same direction.
This is not because I am bored with this blog – far from it. Believe it or not, it is out of a sense of respect for you, the reader. The last thing I want to do is hash and rehash the same thoughts and sentiments into a series of progressively less interesting and moving essays. We see this sort of thing among many writers far more talented than I am. For many, there comes a point when they are just going through the motions and phoning it in.
There is a showbiz term that I deeply love, derived from an episode of Happy Days where Fonzi jumps over a shark tank on his motorcycle. That degree of desperation marks the end of a creative run. Some of my favorite programs have reached, and passed their zenith: The Simpson’s, for example, Jumped the Shark years ago.
Now if you think this is all leading up to a long and protracted farewell post, fear not! America keeps reinventing itself daily. If she doesn’t ever have to Jump the Shark, neither do I. But to stay relevant I must reinvent myself – a little.
I have long maintained that the threat from Islamist terrorism, while real and potent, presents no long-term threat to an awakened and determined America. We are fighting -- and winning – that battle as we speak. Far more pernicious is the battle for the very idea of what this country is and should be, a culture war that prior to 9/11, we were losing and losing badly – if for no other reason than the fact that we elected not to fight it at all.
It is this fight I feel I must now turn us toward – the battle for the soul of this civilization that has given so much to so many. Taking a cue from the brilliant military successes we have gained in Afghanistan and Iraq, it will require a different strategy and different tactics. Rather than a single blast of buckshot at a solitary, huge target, I feel that we’ll have to start plinking at smaller things with higher-powered ammo. It’s my hope that for the next several months, you will see these smaller and perhaps less soaring essays as part of a larger, more tightly themed book, for that is what they will be.
After some editing. After a lot of editing.
So this is our new ground: the fight for the soul of our country as a haven for individualism, reason, science, morality, strength and responsibility in a sea of ships wrecked on the shoals of socialism, tribalism and political correctness. And if, at its best, my previous work was a call to arms, then the work we set out on now, together, will be more in the way of a repair manual.
This is less glamorous work, to be sure. It is also more difficult. My goal is to create a handbook for the kind of American Citizen we all wish to be, and as so many times in the past, defining just who and what that person looks like is something we will work out, together, you and me.
First Section: THE WESTERN DISEASE, and How to Crush, Kill and Destroy It.
Chapter One: AIN’T IT COOL?
Let’s saddle up, folks. It’s good that we can ride together, because we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.
Posted by Proteus at January 10, 2004 12:58 PM
Good to see your first post of 2004. Look forward to many more.
To paraphrase Buchanan,
"Saddle up and ride to the sound of the gums!"
Lordy, I'm glad you're back, I'd almost given up.
Will go read directly.
Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war.
Some think it's not worth fighting for. The ideals or their representatives aren't pure enough, too quick to compromise.
I disagree. One step at a time, each inch closer to sanity being a great victory.
I'm not going to sleep any time soon.
It's always like a breath of fresh air when I drop by and find that you've posted.
I believe the main reasons that the Jacksonians ever choose to sleep is adherence to a concrete-bound view of our enemies. I.E., we destroyed those who attacked us, therefore we are safe. For the most part, Americans are unwilling to define their enemies idealogically, unwilling to declare that certain men are evil and others are good. So while we are usually more than ready to defend against our attackers, it is only physically that we fight. Rarely intellectually.
In fact, most of our countries so called "Intellectuals," spend their time declaring that there is no right and wrong, and that if such contrivances did exist, Man would be incapable of knowing the difference. So they preach to "Judge not, lest ye be judged."
In order to truly defeat our enemies and gain that ever-precious rest that follows true security, we must alter that slogan to show that we are willing to defend both our lives and our principles: "Judge, and prepare to be judged."
Always a pleasure, Bill.
Dangnabbit! I've been waitin' for this, Bill, and now I can't find my chaps. How long before we head out?
Bill, it's good to see you back again, and still on the right track. The Idiotarians among us, especially after seeing the Jacksonian response among the majority of Americans to the attacks of 9/11, and the continued support they give to our President, are becoming more and more desperate as they realize how much ground they've lost over the last couple of years. They haven't given up, though, and are becoming even more radical in their attacks on our nation.
I've believed, for quite some time, that we need the equivalent of another Thomas Paine for our generation, to spread the word and keep us thinking about what is going on. I've reached the conclusion that you have accepted that position, and are doing a fine job in filling those shoes.
Here's lookin' at you Bill. This family on both sides has been in this country for a couple of hundred years now, and for the most part were Jacksonians even before his birth.
This one doesn't sleep, watchful but not paranoid eyes always searching the horizon for taletail signs of the enemy. You keep up the good work, and we'll have your back sir.
As Queen Elizabeth II said when she addressed the world on Sept. 17:
"Got your back. Let's do it."
OK, she didn't say it quite that way, I'm paraphrasing.
Reading Walter Russell Mead's essay The Jacksonian Tradition evoked the same feeling as when I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time. The thrill is not for a new idea, but for ideas long known that are suddenly made clear. Simply spectacular. Thank you.
Mister Whittle, I just have three words to say:
I'm anticipating your next big piece as much as I anticipated The Return Of The King! Wild crack-smoking steroid-pumped Clydesdales whipped to a lathered frenzy couldn't keep me from poring over your fine writing!
Welcome back, Mr. Whittle. Your extended absence was noted.
I've had much the same worry, and even wrote about it myself. Since then, others have stopped writing, and that has concerned me too.
It's difficult to maintain an attitude of righteous anger. It drains you. Especially when you don't see much in the way of improvement. I've concluded that Robert Conquest's Second Law - that any organization not explicity rightwing drifts leftward over time - is due to the fact that only the left is pathologically angry.
I await your high-caliber precision marksmanship with eager anticipation. The line is hot. Fire at will.
Instapundit has linked to you on this latest essay. :)
Expect an increase in your traffic.
Bonnie Ramthun's books rule and she rules radio interviews when she gets 'em. Bill totally rules too.
Thank heavens! The loyal cadre of cell B992 was about to send out a search party. Good to see you back.
Welcome back, Bill. Let's continue to fight the good fight.
You have admirers north of the border too. Saddle up!
We're with you Bill.
might I suggest you use your talents to push people to get involved in their community?
I joined the Jaycee's. There's also the local chamber, school boards, Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions.
Your writing is effective. To win, it will require your readers and the other Jacksonians to truly get involved.
"AIN'T IT COOL?"
Glad to see your first of the year, and I look forward to the rest of the ride.
no worries bill, there are still some of us waiting for the next hit after iraq, and the next after that. i've been in war mode since 9/11, and don't feel any need to switch back to "peace" mode.
And not a moment too soon, sir.
Sadly, I'm almost at the point of wanting a true Culture War with the barking moonbat left.
With live ammo.
Doubtless, I'll find in your new writings not only the basis to fuel a righteous anger, but the means to wage that war in a more productive and constructive way.
But do make haste, sir. I'll eagerly await your posts.
Sloop New Dawn
gawd, I even sent Bill an e-mail today, asking about the big blank spot in the middle of his website; I thought it was some sort of technical problem! Glad to see that's not the case, and as always, I eagerly await the next installment!
Glad to read your latest! This comfortable langor is going to pass, just as soon as we get hit again, and make no mistake, we will be. America and by extension the West, is, to use a Vietnam analogy, in a "hot LZ" and Chuck has our range. Next time we will be galvanized into the truest Jacksonian Fury and it will be unconstrained by any UN or EU or pacifist queasiness. We just don't even believe it's going to come to this, not yet anyway. Channelled and disciplined Jacksonian Fury is unstoppable.
The world is about to change quite dramatically. This culture war must be fought at all costs and all the time. You and other bloggers are in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time to bring our beliefs through this new and frightful trial into a future which will respect Western Values even if it's no longer precicely Western Civilization afterwards.
You wrote: " – a smattering of like-minded strangers, each driven by their own internal visions to arrive at the same place at the same time."
That is probably a pretty good description of The Western Enlightenment, which produced our Constitution and the constitutions of many other democratic republics now struggling to win this war of ideas and fight the battles, both intellectual and physical which will be forced upon us all. The internet is both a battlefield and a weapon in this new freedom fight. The War of the Second Enlightenment has commenced. We will win it.
You are quite correct Bill. I have already seen signs of wavering resolve and I agree that the enemy without is not as scary or as dangerous to our way of life as the enemy within.
Let rip the dogs of war.
Good post. I am not ready to settle down yet, however. I want the threat completely gone first.
So screw you Evelyn Waugh. (How did a guy with a pansy name like "Evelyn" get away with calling Americans "cowards" anyway?)
"So what are we holding on to, Sam?"
"We're holding that some things in this world ARE good, and ARE worth fighting for, Mister Frodo..."
Lead on, Mister Whittle, and I shall follow in this fight!
In my 22 year career in the U. S. Army I often looked to someone who could express in wroting what I felt. I have found you. BRING IT ON!!!!
That should be writing. What good is a spell check that let that one by.???
It is not just about war and attacks any more.
It is about ending despotism and the truly liberal agenda of improving the human condition.
This is a project worth our lives and treasure for decades to come.
And before that crusade peters out there will be the Moon base and Mars.
Excellent, Mi Capitan. I believe it is time to drop the hammer!
Heck yes, let's go Westward. Let me get my shootin' iron afore I saddle up!
Just a little note. "Jump The Shark" may now be a show biz phrase, but it was started by a few college students (including Jon Hein, who runs the Jump The Shark website) at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s. By the way, Fonzie water skied over a shark--the motorcycle jump was a different episode.
as a haven for individualism, reason, science, morality, strength and responsibility
Setting up operations on the moon is affordable, as long as it is taken as a primary goal for the American space program and not larded onto all of the other things that NASA does," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), chairman of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics. As an example, he cited NASA's efforts to assess global warming, saying: "Over the years, we have spent tens of billions of dollars of NASA money proving global warming is occurring, which I think is suspect and debatable."
I fail to see how (R)'s have much anything meaningful to say about reason and science, (or morality for that matter).
This was a seagull visit, btw. Good day.
Bill......we haven't yet won the first fight. We are still fighting for our America, and may still lose it, IF we do not win the second fight. There are plenty of Semi-Sort of-If it don't hurt-Americans here....and they're doing their best to position the rest of us to be unable to fight the first fight. The two are inextricably connected. Vigilance isn't enough; devotion to our U.S. and implacable resistance is just where we start.
Welcome back, Bill! We were getting awfully hungry.
I agree that many people on both sides are becoming complacent, and that is a mistake. (And I'm not one of them.) I'm part of an emergency response team that will go if anything hits the central East Coast again. I have a bag packed and ready. My Dad, who was in WWII (stateside - he was Public Health Service), told me to keep it packed - I'll need it again. I hope he is wrong, but I suspect he is right, unfortunately.
And I'll make a prediction: If/when something bad terrorist-wise happens again on our soil, the Dems will misuse it to try to attain power.
Saddle up, Bill; we're with you and we've got your back.
My dear Mr. Whittle, we're not sleeping, we're simply resting, and replenishing the stores.
Even the front line troops require a little R&R before they can fight effectively on the front lines.
The hearts and minds are easily wooed by the expedient and comfortable, even though all the signs exist that show how dangerous this can be in the long term.
Individuals can become used to the constant rat-a-tat-tat of the battle--it eventually becomes white noise. Long periods of silence and sudden, shocking, and devastating bursts can reverse that trend.
As you've done so cleverly, the great mentors of history found techniques for dealing with each aspect of the human condition and each facet (love, hate, pride, ego, vanity, honor, valor, failure, etc.). The Greeks had the chorus to represent the masses and the muses to represent the arts. Other philosophers created their lists, the 7 Deadly Sins, the 12 Disciples, etc. All were techniques for creating episodic like adventures to enable folks to grasp a single concept--each stands alone, but understood from afar, after all had been digested, as a single-cohesive message—a pointillist approach, where the image is only clear when the viewer has distance from the work. Even the 12 disciples had their own take on the message—each known for their passion and compassion in a particular facet. You may see inaction or waning—stand further back.
Kim has made it possible for over 500 people to buy and start using their first gun. That number continues to grow, and you can’t see it. Misha has rallied support for our friends in Israel. Rachel has planted the seed that there are liars and scoundrels, not to be tolerated or understood but to be laughed at and chided for their simplicity, stupidity, and lies. Who can look at Michel Moore and not hear Rachel shouting, Asshat!? The seeds are planted in the Unbewusstsein. Once those take root, the job is to tend to them, but over-watering and feeding can be just as dangerous. Worse is to dig up the seed to check the health of the roots.
Bill. This here cowboy's done been saddled up for a good piece now.
We're all listening to you, man. And I know what kind of drain it is on a person to feel as if you need to say something more to a body. To keep on saying something to keep that body twitching. Don't worry. We can wait. We will wait. We are.
Welcome back. Your voice has been missed.
As a true "little old lady" I am old enough to remember Pearl Harbor, I was 5 when that happened. I was also smart enough to know what it meant. I had the same feelings on Sept 11th. The war is not over each time a battle is fought, we lost some big battles in WWII, we cannot afford to lose battles now, we have too many in our country who are afraid to fight. Singing peace songs just won't get it. Never has, never will. Where would we be if half our country had the attitude in 1941 that seems to be happening in 2004? Thank you for your inspiring work to keep the backbone of America straight, strong and going forward.
Be careful there, you can dislocate your shoulder patting yourself on the back like that.
'Bout time you got back. I was beginning to think you had given up on the good fight to go do "poetry slams" in left coast coffeehouses.
By all means, edit. But please be very careful not to water down the message, nor the raw brilliance of The Essays.
After the September 11, 2001, I went to my local state university and signed up as a full time student. I am middle aged and retired. Now I have nothing better to do but torture the Idiotarians in their citadel. After I get my B.A. in history, I am going to grad school.
The front line of the culture war is our P.C. polluted colleges. Any Jacksonian who is able needs to take the battle to the enemy's GHQ.
As a career worker in the entertainment industry, I see the belly of the beast from the inside. What comes out of these peoples' mouths is astonishing, just before they wheel off in their Lexus', Mercedes et. al. The cultural war is the home front.
Took your ball and ran another 10 yards or so with it, specifically this:
"So this is our new ground: the fight for the soul of our country as a haven for individualism, reason, science, morality, strength and responsibility"
See "The 6 R's" Here.
As always, great work. Lay on, MacDuff.
Recently, there was a purse-snatching in Florida. The perp was being pursued by half a dozen men. He happened to be running toward a fourteen-year-old girl who figured out what was happening and took him down. The pursuers arrived and held him for the cops.
The interesting thing about this particular, not unique, episode is that the chief of police said quite overtly that he thought this was a post-9-11 thing.
We are less willing to take crap and more willing to get involved.
Several posters keep records of bad guys shot by citizens during the commission of crimes.
"Let's roll" is not a cliche. One need not be awash in adrenalin to remember what it means and what it requires. That we are rarely in a situation requiring it doesn't mean we don't know our duty.
So, to address your concern, I don't see the problem.
We are quieter. Partly it's because what we would have the government do the government is doing. More noise is superfluous.
We are still in a post-9-11 mode. We are most definitely not in a post-post-9-11 mode.
Welcome back Bill,
Yeah, we've been settled in on the glide slope a little too long; feels kinda slow and vulnerable. Before you know it, we'll be behind the power curve and stroking full burner.
Good to read your first 2004 post. Welcome to the new year!
Awaiting the "fight for our souls" with anticipation.
I have to agree that we Jacksonians are just in a R & R phase and have not lain down our weapons and gone home just yet. It is true that there is not quite as much posted on the internet regarding the War on Terror. However, the quality of what is posted is still there, and for that I am grateful. People are still digging into the morass and pulling out nuggets of truth. The dots are being connected and true picture of what we are facing is crystallizing. If and when there is another flare up of Terrorism or another front opens up, the Jacksonians will be rested and ready to respond.
It is my hope that during the current lull, Jacksonians will strike at the root of all evil, that being Orwellian Newspeak that has become the new Transnational Progressive language of choice. Let us begin by pressuring our legislators into doing their Constitutional duty in filing Impeachment charges against any and all in the Judicial branch who deliberately ignore what is written in plain English in the Constitution. Cut off the fount of idiocy at its source and strike a blow for facts and truth in the media, NGOs, Hollywood, and most importantly the schools.
On a side note, Fonzi "jumped the shark" on water skis, but he did make a motorcycle jump in Arnold's parking lot to impress his girlfriend Pinkie Tuscadero. I mean, who wouldn't?
"a haven for individualism, reason, science, morality, strength and responsibility"
I look forward to reading your exploration of these issues. I'm curious to see if you find a role for religion (which I assume is different from moralilty). Reason and science so often conflict with the agenda of religion, and yet many argue that religion (Christianity) is foundational to America.
I also will be interested to see how your ideas translate to foreign policy. Aside from forcably converting threatening tyranies to democracy as part of the defense of the U.S., what are the elements of the American identity that tell us how to deal with other countries?
Your inclusion of "individualism" might suggest isolationism, but as that has proved no longer possible in this ever shrinking world, on what values should our policy be based? Should we just do whatever's best for the U.S. or should our standards be loftier than that?
Where will immigration fit into the grand scheme?
I look forward to see what you come up with.
My pastor said pretty much the sames things today... strongly. Perhaps he reads this blog, or the feeling is more pervasive than we realize.
Glad to see you re-evaluating and adjusting fire.
Just keep 'em coming, Bill -- we know what to do.
And to this I say, "Cry Havoc! Let slip the dogs of war!"
IT LIVES!!! YES!! IT LIVES!!!
Welcome back, was beginning to wonder...
A repair manual... yes. A guide to action: but before you can act, you must think. The science that deals with thinking is philosphy. The only fully integrated, rational and objective philosphy is Objectivism, developed by Ayn Rand. A philosophy for living on earth. 95% of what you have written could have been written by an Objectivist. If you have not already, I implore you, have a read. You'll love it.
Please include your thoughts on how the returning War on Terror GIs (grandchildren of the "Greatest Generation and victors in the 21st century religious war) will influence the social war for our values. In lighter moments my son (who enlisted in the army post 911 at the age of 26 and with a family) speaks of "truth justice and the American way" but I know he really means it, as do many of his peers.
Once again, ahead of the curve Bill. Exactly.
There's a deep well of resentment and loathing out there for the demands and claims of the left, but it needs focus and inspiration.
A lot of folks have been beaten down for so long by the incessant repetition of the leftist diatribe throughout the major media and by the braying of venal politicians that they have assumed that there is no way to fight back. That's one reason the Left has so hysterically opposed Bush and the WoT. He and the threat of terrorism have focused reality and validated patriotism for a great many formerly befuddled and apathetic Americans. We must not let this opportunity pass to crush socialism and PC idiotarianism utterly and for all time.
Head 'em up, move 'em out!
Not sleeping, Bill, just drawing breath for the next wave. I'm looking forward to your next installments.
Hate to add to your overburdened reading list, Bill, but have you read The Fourth Turning by William Straus and Neil Howe? Worth a look to anyone looking at the big picture.
I haven't finished it, but here's the theory in a nutshell. They've observed that there is a sweeping periodicity, a Great Year of history lasting about 80-90 years. The reason, at least in Anglo-American history, is that succeeding generations have distinct characters or characteristics, always coming in the same order, each of which can be described as an archetype: Hero, Nomad, Prophet, Artist. At any time each generation is present, but at a different phase of life: Childhood, Young Adulthood, Midlife, Elderhood. Therefore history itself comes in cycles of about 20 years per phase, depending on how the generations line up: High, a triumphal period of strong social institutions; Awakening, a religious or philosophical challenge to the old values regime; Unraveling, when the new values establish among greater individualism and weakening social institutions; and Crisis, when the society's survival itself is threatened and it must unite and form new social institutions to meet the challenge.
What makes this more than an intellectual game is that the authors demonstrate how this pattern, of generations and cycles, has held in Anglo-American history for at least five hundred years, since the establishment of the Tudor dynasty, with one exception. The Civil War was so destructive that it shortened the cycle, and the Hero generation was skipped, but then the pattern re-established. An important detail, as it shows this is not magic or predestiny, but just a pattern.
They classify recent generations like this: World War II generation (Hero), Silent Generation (Nomad), Baby Boomers (Prophet), 13th or Generation X (artist). Recent cycles: Post-war through mid 60s (High), Consciousness Revolution of the 60s and 70s (Awakening), Culture Wars of the 80s and 90s (Unraveling), and ultimately The Crisis, coming right at us, buddy.
The Crisis cycle has always been a time of massive upheaval when society reinvents itself. Doesn't that sound increasingly likely? The book was published in 1997, and anticipated full blown Crisis phase by 2005, although admitting that events could move up the timetable. If things go well, we'll come out of the next few decades stronger than ever. If they don't, well....
As I said, I haven't finished it, and I'm not totally persuaded. But it sure is interesting.
A well thought out decision Bill.
Go get em.
Battle has been joined. We must now "close with and destroy the enemy using fire, manuver and shock effect" (the mission statment of the Armor Branch.
There's a sequence of scenes in the Disney film "Atlantis" that comes to mind when I read this. I'll extract and post at my site.
Oh, T.W., the War College (Imperially endorsed by his Serene Highness, Darth Misha I) is dedicated to working on the religion angle, most specifically from a Protestant/Evangelical/Charismatic/Pentecostal viewpoint.
Bill, your post makes me realize I need to specifically target certain other aspects of the WOT that have to do with religion.
This means I'll be leading a smaller posse into the swamps to cover one of the flanks. We'll join up later.
Bill, you shamed me into getting off my butt and finishing an idea that had been kicking around for a couple weeks, "The Statist War and the Islamofascist War". Ironically, I would hold that the post applies to your re-purposing. Put in terms of the Two Wars, you're taking a break from the Islamofascist War and off to fight further in the Statist War.
Glad to see you back, sir.
There are few enough as it is, who can speak the mind of the majority, fewer still who are heard.
And far fewer who can spur an indolent mind to greater purpose and effect.
Don't forget your spurs!
Happy New Year! and thanks for the late Christmas present. I look forward to riding with you on this quest for what is best and how to keep it! Head 'em and move 'em out!
Just as a suggestion, Bill, are you ever planning on writing an essay on our plans to explore into space?
With the current controversy about Bush's plans to send men to Mars and back to the Moon, it could prove very interesting.
Just a thought. Keep writing Bill, you're among my top ten sites.
Outstanding, Bill. I can hardly wait to see what comes next.
Hooray! Whitler is back!
I got my guns; so who do we kill first, master.
>>>There are few enough as it is, who can speak the mind of the majority>>>
It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
In fact, in response to Daniel I am reminded of Jesse Jackson's words;
In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.
Good for you, for taking the time to say it right.
I seem to lack the patience. It comes out on my blog, but in the form of an irritated, satirical mess.
As the winter of 2002 approached, I was increasingly amazed at the success of the propaganda campaign being waged by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and neoconservative mouthpieces at the Washington Times and Wall Street Journal. I speculated about the necessity but unlikelihood of a Phillip K. Dick-style minority report on the grandiose Feith-Wolfowitz-Rumsfeld-Cheney vision of some future Middle East where peace, love, and democracy are brought about by pre-emptive war and military occupation,
In December, I requested an acceleration of my retirement after just over 20 years on duty and exactly the required three years of time-in-grade as a lieutenant colonel. I felt fortunate not to have being fired or court-martialed due to my politically incorrect ways in the previous two years as a real conservative in a neoconservative Office of Secretary of Defense. But in fact, my outspokenness was probably never noticed because civilian professionals and military officers were largely invisible. We were easily replaceable and dispensable, not part of the team brought in from the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, and the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs.
There were exceptions. When military officers conspicuously crossed the neoconservative party line, the results were predictable—get back in line or get out. One friend, an Army colonel who exemplified the qualities carved in stone at West Point, refused to maneuver into a small neoconservative box, and he was moved into another position, where truth-telling would be viewed as an asset instead of a handicap. Among the civilians, I observed the stereotypical perspective that this too would pass, with policy analysts apparently willing to wait out the neocon phase.
In early winter, an incident occurred that was seared into my memory. A coworker and I were suddenly directed to go down to the Mall entrance to pick up some Israeli generals. Post-9/11 rules required one escort for every three visitors, and there were six or seven of them waiting. The Navy lieutenant commander and I hustled down. Before we could apologize for the delay, the leader of the pack surged ahead, his colleagues in close formation, leaving us to double-time behind the group as they sped to Undersecretary Feith’s office on the fourth floor. Two thoughts crossed our minds: are we following close enough to get credit for escorting them, and do they really know where they are going? We did get credit, and they did know. Once in Feith’s waiting room, the leader continued at speed to Feith’s closed door. An alert secretary saw this coming and had leapt from her desk to block the door. “Mr. Feith has a visitor. It will only be a few more minutes.” The leader craned his neck to look around the secretary’s head as he demanded, “Who is in there with him?”
This minor crisis of curiosity past, I noticed the security sign-in roster. Our habit, up until a few weeks before this incident, was not to sign in senior visitors like ambassadors. But about once a year, the security inspectors send out a warning letter that they were coming to inspect records. As a result, sign-in rosters were laid out, visible and used. I knew this because in the previous two weeks I watched this explanation being awkwardly presented to several North African ambassadors as they signed in for the first time and wondered why and why now. Given all this and seeing the sign-in roster, I asked the secretary, “Do you want these guys to sign in?” She raised her hands, both palms toward me, and waved frantically as she shook her head. “No, no, no, it is not necessary, not at all.” Her body language told me I had committed a faux pas for even asking the question. My fellow escort and I chatted on the way back to our office about how the generals knew where they were going (most foreign visitors to the five-sided asylum don’t) and how the generals didn’t have to sign in. I felt a bit dirtied by the whole thing and couldn’t stop comparing that experience to the grace and gentility of the Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian ambassadors with whom I worked.
In my study of the neoconservatives, it was easy to find out whom in Washington they liked and whom they didn’t. They liked most of the Heritage Foundation and all of the American Enterprise Institute. They liked writers Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol. To find out whom they didn’t like, no research was required. All I had to do was walk the corridors and attend staff meetings. There were several shared prerequisites to get on the Neoconservative List of Major Despicable People, and in spite of the rhetoric hurled against these enemies of the state, most really weren’t Rodents of Unusual Size. Most, in fact, were retired from a branch of the military with a star or two or four on their shoulders. All could and did rationally argue the many illogical points in the neoconservative strategy of offensive democracy—guys like Brent Scowcroft, Barry McCaffrey, Anthony Zinni, and Colin Powell.
I was present at a staff meeting when Deputy Undersecretary Bill Luti called General Zinni a traitor. At another time, I discussed with a political appointee the service being rendered by Colin Powell in the early winter and was told the best service he could offer would be to quit. I heard in another staff meeting a derogatory story about a little Tommy Fargo who was acting up. Little Tommy was, of course, Commander, Pacific Forces, Admiral Fargo. This was shared with the rest of us as a Bill Luti lesson in civilian control of the military. It was certainly not civil or controlled, but the message was crystal.
When President Bush gave his State of the Union address, there was a small furor over the reference to the yellowcake in Niger that Saddam was supposedly seeking. After this speech, everyone was discussing this as either new intelligence saved up for just such a speech or, more cynically, just one more flamboyant fabrication that those watching the propaganda campaign had come to expect. I had not heard about yellowcake from Niger or seen it mentioned on the Office of Special Plans talking points. When I went over to my old shop, sub-Saharan Africa, to congratulate them for making it into the president’s speech, they said the information hadn’t come from them or through them. They were as surprised and embarrassed as everyone else that such a blatant falsehood would make it into a presidential speech.
When General Zinni was removed as Bush’s Middle East envoy and Elliot Abrams joined the National Security Council (NSC) to lead the Mideast division, whoops and high-fives had erupted from the neocon cubicles. By midwinter, echoes of those celebrations seemed to mutate into a kind of anxious anticipation, shared by most of the Pentagon. The military was anxiously waiting under the bed for the other shoe to drop amidst concerns over troop availability, readiness for an ill-defined mission, and lack of day-after clarity. The neocons were anxiously struggling to get that damn shoe off, gleefully anticipating the martinis to be drunk and the fun to be had. The other shoe fell with a thump on Feb. 5 as Colin Powell delivered his United Nations presentation.
It was a sad day for me and many others with whom I worked when we watched Powell’s public capitulation. The era when Powell had been considered a political general, back when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had in many ways been erased for those of us who greatly admired his coup of the Pentagon neocons when he persuaded the president to pursue UN support for his invasion of Iraq. Now it was as if Powell had again rolled military interests—and national interests as well.
Around that same time, our deputy director forwarded a State Department cable that had gone out to our embassy in Turkey. The cable contained answers to 51 questions that had been asked of our ambassador by the Turkish government. The questions addressed things like after-war security arrangements, refugees, border control, stability in the Kurdish north, and occupation plans. But every third answer was either “To be determined” or “We’re working on that” or “This scenario is unlikely.” At one point, an answer included the “fact” that the United States military would physically secure the geographic border of Iraq. Curious, I checked the length of the physical border of Iraq. Then I checked out the length of our own border with Mexico. Given our exceptional success in securing our own desert borders, I found this statement interesting.
Soon after, I was out-processed for retirement and couldn’t have been more relieved to be away from daily exposure to practices I had come to believe were unconstitutional. War is generally crafted and pursued for political reasons, but the reasons given to Congress and the American people for this one were so inaccurate and misleading as to be false. Certainly, the neoconservatives never bothered to sell the rest of the country on the real reasons for occupation of Iraq—more bases from which to flex U.S. muscle with Syria and Iran, better positioning for the inevitable fall of the regional sheikdoms, maintaining OPEC on a dollar track, and fulfilling a half-baked imperial vision. These more accurate reasons could have been argued on their merits, and the American people might indeed have supported the war. But we never got a chance to debate it.
My personal experience leaning precariously toward the neoconservative maw showed me that their philosophy remains remarkably untouched by respect for real liberty, justice, and American values. My years of military service taught me that values and ideas matter, but these most important aspects of our great nation cannot be defended adequately by those in uniform. This time, salvaging our honor will require a conscious, thoughtful, and stubborn commitment from each and every one of us, and though I no longer wear the uniform, I have not given up the fight.
Good to see you back, thanks for posting the link to article. Very interesting read. I've thought about it a little bit (as it certainly is thought provoking) and have a couple of observations.
First and foremost is that with regards to foreign policy, it is apparent that Jacksonian foreign policy influence is still widely felt, predominately because of the 'necessary' responses to 9/11 events. The reawakening of dormant patriotic sentiments, and the associated Jacksonian tennats of self-reliance, indvidualism, and courage are self-evident in the public, and our politics. I have no doubt that as events progress, we will by and large, be able to address these threats to our freedom at least on a military basis, to say nothing of cultural aspects, and political opinions of a liberal leaning EU, and other allies, real or percieved.
The danger as you rightfully point out is the implicit shift of the cultural fabric of our society, or specifically, our identity and moral compass as a nation. It has shifted noticebly away from those Jacksonian principles in the last 40 years, and I think the last president to (at least publically) embody most of those principles both on foreign policy as well as domestically may have been, ironically enough, a Democrat; JFK.
If you read the article recall that the four pillars of Jacksonian politics was self reliance, equality, individualism, financial espirit (entrepreneurial spirit), and courage. If you try to mentally superimpose those values onto the average American today ,I think you see a trend away from those values unfortunately. I see a dillution of will in a lot of areas. The unwillingness to take responsibility for ones actions, the willingness to sue for any perceived wrong, the reliance upon the Heroin needle of government entitlements, the decrease of religion as a moral guide to most familys, and the increasing pervasiveness of Federal intervention and legislation of personal decisions that should be ruled by common sense and consideration and not by rule of law. All these point to a wholesale cultural shift of a country that is too afraid to deal with itself, for fear of unleashing the fury of the terminally angry Liberal consituents (see the Bush 'immigration policy' as a case in point).
I fear for us, as I fear that we are in a cultural slide that will kill us all as sure as any terrorist act. If anything 9/11 was a wakeup call for Jacksonian principles as they pertain to dealing with outside threats and foreign policy. What then short of an internal cutlural 9/11 will alter the course we are on now. What hand can and will move the tiller of our ship? Piece by piece, slowly and over long periods of time the Jacksonian pillars are chipped at, so that we may take notice but ultimately do nothing. What one life altering event must finally occur before it forces a collective hue and cry by the Jacksonians such that it can not be ignored? Are there enough Jacksonians out there in slumber to make such an alarm a true civil dichotomy, such as divided our nation in 1863, or will it be simply a bleating of a statistically insignificant minority, in numbers small enough to be safely placated and brushed aside by those in power and beholden to the votes of a jaundiced, agreeable and soft majority.
Can you go home again?
Ahh if only you knew. Wait a second you can know.