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IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!

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IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« on: January 02, 2006, 01:16:29 PM »
dearest dwindling shortsighted liberals:
dearest blinded conservatives:

In 1861 Abraham Lincoln led what was left of his country to war to restore "the Union as it was," to use the popular phrase of the time. Free navigation of the Mississippi River, the right to collect customs duties in Southern ports, the status of a pair of coastal forts in South Carolina and Florida--these were the issues over which young American men got down to the business of killing one another that sad summer.

It was all a pipe dream. "The Union as it was" was gone, forever. Events proved William Tecumseh Sherman--the prophet of that war--right, and everyone else wrong: An ocean of blood would be required to reunite the United States, and once that blood was spilled, the country over which James Buchanan had presided was as dead as the soldiers whose corpses littered the battlefields of Shiloh and Gettysburg, Antietam and Cold Harbor.

But there was a much bigger, much better, and above all much nobler dream waiting in the wings: "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" (to use Lincoln's own words)--that the chains of four million slaves might be shattered forever, that freedom and democracy might prevail against tyranny and aristocracy in a world still full of tyrants and aristocrats.

 
 
The loss of hundreds of thousands of American men--a lost generation comparable to the generation of young French, German, and British men lost in Flanders fields a half-century later--for the sake of a few Southern forts and ports would have been a tragedy as great as the senseless killing at the Somme and Passchendaele. World War I was senseless, both because it was fought over territory and because it settled nothing. The Civil War that Lincoln and Jefferson Davis set out to fight would have been no different. If control of America's rivers had remained the war's object, then whoever won the day in the early 1860s would have had to defend that object again a generation later, just as World War II saw a generation of British and American men fight for the same territory their fathers won a generation after their fathers won it.

Freedom and democracy, justice and the equality of all men before God and before the law--those causes were very different. Shedding an ocean of blood for them was terribly sad but not tragic: The essence of tragedy is waste, and the blood shed on the Civil War's battlefields was not wasted. Horrible as its killing fields were, those young men accomplished something profoundly good: Their deaths ensured that (to use Lincoln's words again) "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." That is why the Civil War has gone down in history not as America's own World War I, but as the war of America's true "greatest generation," the generation that preserved freedom and democracy for us and for the rest of humankind.

In 1861 neither Lincoln nor Davis could have won a fair vote for the war they wound up fighting. Lincoln nearly lost his office, and hence the war, over his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1861 the North could not imagine the suffering of the next four years--and had Northern voters done so, they would have bid the South go in peace and left slavery's chains intact. Thankfully, no one guessed the future (well, almost no one--Sherman came close), and the future was better because of it.

What does this history teach us? Three things: First, that Victor Davis Hanson is right--wars often change purposes after they begin. Second, that sometimes the new purpose is vastly better than the one it replaces. Few nations choose up front to sacrifice their sons for the sake of others' freedom. When such sacrifices are made, they usually flow not from design but from accident and error--just as the North's military blunders prolonged the Civil War, and thereby made it a struggle to bring that new birth of freedom to the war-torn land over which the soldiers fought.

The third lesson is the most important. Brief wars rarely produce permanent results, but long wars often do. Had McClellan's army taken Richmond and ended the war early in 1862, slavery and secessionism would have survived, and "the South shall rise again" would have been a prediction rather than a slogan. Hitler conquered most of Western Europe--Denmark, Norway, the Low Countries, and France--in a two-month campaign in the spring and early summer of 1940. It took five years to undo the conquest. But the long, hard slog to Berlin worked: The Thousand-Year Reich was ended centuries before its self-proclaimed expiration date. Napoleon's marshals occupied Spain in a few months in 1808. It took Wellington and Spanish guerrillas six years to dislodge the French. But the dislodging lasted: In the 19 decades since, no French government has ruled an acre of the Iberian Peninsula.

CONTINUED



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Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2006, 01:18:05 PM »
CONTINUED

What would have happened had the second Iraq war turned out like the first, as the White House apparently expected? Saddam would have been toppled, the Iraqi people would have celebrated, order would have been restored quickly, followed by a speedy exit for British and American troops. Then what? Maybe the rule of Iran-style Shia mullahs, perhaps another brutal Sunni autocrat to take the place of the last one, possibly an endless civil war between the two. Today, there is a real chance of a vastly better result--precisely because the insurgency survived, because it wasn't quickly defeated. Sunni intransigence needed to be crushed slowly; a quick in-and-out war was not enough to kill the dream of forever tyrannizing Iraqi Kurds and Shia. More important, thousands of senseless murders over the past 32 months have taught Iraqis--Sunni, Shia, and Kurd alike--just how vicious Zarqawi and his allies are. That lesson will have very useful consequences for the long-term health of the region.

Today's fighting in Iraq bears little resemblance to Pickett's charge or the Union assault on Marye's Heights in Fredericksburg. For one thing, the Civil War was infinitely bloodier: Its worst battles killed more American soldiers in a day than have died in two-and-a-half years of fighting in Iraq. And the purpose for which our current war was begun--capturing Saddam Hussein's supposed stash of WMDs--seems nobler than the fight over who held Fort Sumter. Still, some key parallels remain. Toppling Saddam and seizing his chemical and biological weapons probably wasn't worth the sacrifice of 2,000-plus American lives (as long as nuclear weapons weren't in the picture). Similarly, control over the Mississippi wasn't worth the bloodletting across the length of the Confederacy's border that took place in Lincoln's first term.

Thankfully, Lincoln saw to it that the war's purpose changed. George W. Bush has changed the purpose of his war too, though the change seems more the product of our enemies' choices than of Bush's design. By prolonging the war, Zarqawi and his Baathist allies have drawn thousands of terrorist wannabes into the fight--against both our soldiers and Muslim civilians. When terrorists fight American civilians, as on September 11, they can leverage their own deaths to kill a great many of us. But when terrorists fight American soldiers, the odds tilt towards our side. Equally important, by bringing the fight to a Muslim land, by making that land the central front of the war on Islamic terrorism, the United States has effectively forced Muslim terrorists to kill Muslim civilians. That is why the so-called Arab street is rising--not against us but against the terrorists, as we saw in Jordan after Zarqawi's disastrous hotel bombing. The population of the Islamic world is choosing sides not between jihadists and Westerners, but between jihadists and people just like themselves. We are, slowly but surely, converting bin Laden's war into a civil war--and that is a war bin Laden and his followers cannot hope to win.

We see the fruits of that dynamic across the Middle East. Democracy is rising, fitfully to be sure, but still rising: in Lebanon, in Palestine, in Egypt, in Iran, even in Saudi Arabia--not just because it is also rising in Iraq, but because its enemies are the same as our enemies. That is a war very much worth fighting.

Today our forces and Iraqis are fighting together and, slowly, winning a good and noble war that holds the hope of bringing to millions a measure of freedom they never knew before. And yet today, America seems ready, even eager, to concede defeat and withdraw: a sad twist on the famous George Aiken formula for extricating American soldiers from Vietnam. It sounds bizarre--why would anyone want to throw away the chance of such a great victory, when victory seems within reach? But it isn't bizarre. On the contrary, it has happened before.

Again, consider the politics of the Civil War. In 1863 the Northern street--the term didn't exist then, but the concept did--rose, and New York saw the worst rioting in our nation's history. The rioters' cause was ending the draft on which Lincoln's war depended. A year later Lincoln seemed headed for electoral defeat, even as Grant's and Sherman's armies seemed headed for decisive military victories. Victory often seems most elusive to civilians when it is most nearly within soldiers' grasp. And noble causes often do not sound noble to the nation whose sons must fight for them. (Those who do the fighting understand: Lincoln had the overwhelming support of soldiers in the field, and I would bet my next paycheck that today's soldiers overwhelmingly support fighting through to victory in Iraq.) In many American towns and cities, then as now, the cause of freedom for others did not seem a cause worth fighting and dying for.

But it is, partly because--as Lincoln saw better than anyone--others' freedom helps to guarantee our own. A world where Southern planters ruled their slaves with the lash was a world where Northerners' rights could never be secure; if birth and privilege and caste reigned supreme in the South, those things would more easily reign elsewhere, closer to Northern homes. Lincoln had it right: Either democracy and freedom would go on to new heights or they might well "perish from the earth." So too today. A world full of Islamic autocrats is a world full of little bin Ladens eager to give their lives to kill Americans. A world full of Islamic democracies gives young Muslim men different outlets for their passions. That obviously means better lives for them. But it also means better and safer lives for us.

None of this excuses the bungling and bad management that have plagued the Iraq war. The administration has made some terrible mistakes that have cost precious lives, both among our soldiers and among Iraqi civilians. But bungling and bad management were far more evident in Lincoln's war than they have been in Bush's. Most wars are bungled; battle plans routinely go awry. Sometimes, error gives rise to larger truths; nations can stumble unawares onto great opportunities. So it was in the 1860s. So it is today in the Middle East.

Two-and-a-half years ago, our armed forces set out to fight a small war with a small objective. Today we find ourselves in a larger war with a larger and vastly better purpose. It would be one of history's sadder ironies were we to turn away because that better purpose is not the one we set out to achieve. Either we fight the fight our enemies have chosen until they are defeated or (better still) dead, or millions of Muslim men and women may lose their "last, best hope"--and we may face a mushroom cloud over Manhattan, the work of one of the many Mohammed Attas that Middle Eastern autocracies have bred over the last generation. The choice belongs not to the president alone, but to all of us. Here's hoping we choose as wisely as Lincoln's generation did.

William J. Stuntz is a professor at Harvard Law School.




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Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2006, 01:25:32 PM »
any responses are welcome...but only naive responses are expected...

good luck though. ;)

As an Indigo...Aye stand!


Julie Fern

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Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2006, 02:52:25 PM »
bush 0 not worthy to wipe lincoln's ass.

lp4law

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Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2006, 05:13:01 PM »
Good find blue.  That definitely represents a fresh perspective around these parts.

Julie Fern

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Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2006, 05:15:27 PM »
lincoln would've given anything for shorter war.  he not interested in murder in order to pursue grandiose ideas.

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Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2006, 08:37:31 PM »
Good find blue.  That definitely represents a fresh perspective around these parts.

thankyou.  glad you understand.  some do not.

Julie Fern

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Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2006, 03:29:58 AM »
warmongers have special bond, eh?

Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2006, 08:31:28 AM »
More than 140 years ago, Lincoln sought to reassure a gathered group of faithful that he would not take them to war to end the scourge of slavery in declaring that there would be "no bloodshed unless it be forced upon the Government, and then it will be compelled to act in self-defense. "Shortly thereafter, he would nonetheless, lead the country into war to, as he proclaimed, ". . . to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of the National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs (of slavery) already long enough endured."
    In his inaugural, President Bush wasted no time, after a quick nod to the "noble" surrender of his rival Gore, to declare that in his view America was, ". . . one of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer."
    In two years however, he would abandon all restraint and warning to zealously persuade an insecure nation to engage in a war with Iraq; admonishing Americans that the "peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people" now depended on them.
    He sought to reassure a skeptical opposition and world community in his declaration that he had no ambition to possess Iraq. He proclaimed: "We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people."
    So dubious was the threat posed by Iraq, so tenuous was the distinction between the enemy and those "oppressed" who were to be liberated, that President Bush was compelled to profess respect "for Iraq's citizens, for their "great civilization" and for the "religious faiths they practice," and at the same time, scorn them as enemies who had "no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality."
    Lincoln's justification for war did not require any rhetorical hedge. He insisted that in his opposition to slavery, an adherence to the principles of liberty and individual rights which are embodied in the Declaration of Independence, would more than provide for the preservation of the Union.
    "In my hands," he spoke, "is the task of restoring peace to the present distracted condition of the country. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the motherland," he said, "but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time."     
   "It was that," Lincoln continued, "which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all     men."
    But, our current president's war was not waged in defense of any lofty ideals of democracy or liberty.
     This war with Iraq was the invention of a banished ruling class - enriched by the selling of the influence of their positions in government - who had nursed their broken ambitions in exile, and had instinctively constructed their sympathetic webs of wealth to obstruct the remedies of the reformers and hatch the next generation of world capitalists who would inherit the patronage of the next conservative presidency.
    The invasion of Iraq was a clumsy attempt by President Bush to usurp the power from a vanquished nation of innocents; a suffering class of people who were already devastated by the bombing of the first war, and by the economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. at the insistence of the U.S., which served to enrich Saddam Hussein and steadily impoverish and starve everyone else.
    This administration pulled the nation into war to compensate for, and to draw attention from, their failure to apprehend the ringleader of the attack on the World Trade Center. President Bush made the appeal to the nation in a manner which exploited our deepest fears as he warned the nation about the potential for a future Iraqi assault on our country, or on our allies, of a magnitude that would far exceed the devastation of the horrendous suicide attack in New York.
        Lincoln once remarked: "A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"
        Also, Lincoln spoke to the notion of divinity's mandate to vigilance when he remarked on the violence of the abolitionist, John Brown in his Cooper Union address. He said, "An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by heaven to liberate them."
        Lincoln believed that adherence to the principles of democracy would distinguish any victory in a manner that would provide for the durability of the Union and foster a national affirmation of the rights of the individual. "It was that," he said, "which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men."
        And, finally, at Edwardsville, Illinois, on September 11, 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, "What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoast, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not the reliance against the resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle."
    "Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is the preservation of the spirit, which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere." Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your down doors."
         "Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage," Lincoln warned, and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."

    This government and this administration have become accustomed to trampling, and bondage. And we have allowed them to skirt accountability for their sly justifications for their attacks on our civil liberties; demagogic appeals to patriotism and to our nationalism; the deliberate inflaming, and careful stoking of the sparks of fear that flashed from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center; and the mortgaging of ours and our children's future toil and tribute to the subsidizing of both of the Bush president's bloody and costly wars of opportunity.
    We are not any safer for our invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. In our occupation, we contradict the most basic of our nation's values of freedom, liberty, and democracy.
    With our theft of the industry and resources of Iraq, our country has joined the long line of oppressors and brutal opportunists who have sought to dominate that region for greed and power. History will wonder at our arrogance, and at our inability to restrain our military and its agents from pursuing ambitions far outside of the mandate of our constitution or conscience.

This reply contains exerpts from my book 'Power of Mischief'

Julie Fern

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Re: IRAQ: STEADY! HOLDFAST! NOBLE!
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2006, 10:20:08 AM »
lincoln made clear that his objective to preserve union, whether with or without slavery.  eventually, he believed ending slavery would provide fundamental solution to problems that led to war.