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Author Topic: Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are Long wars...Bush and Lincoln...unpopular prez  (Read 4800 times)

! B L U E WAR R I O R..!

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BRIEF WARS RARELY PRODUCE LASTING RESULTS. LONG WARS OFTEN DO.

by William J. Stuntz  

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.

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.

If you prick us, do we not bleed?  
  if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison  
  us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not  
  revenge? m.of v. w.shaka                                             speare

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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 the Henry J. Friendly Professor at Harvard Law School.

If you prick us, do we not bleed?  
  if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison  
  us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not  
  revenge? m.of v. w.shaka                                             speare

! B L U E WAR R I O R..!

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usa is now and will be in the middle east...like it or not.
If you prick us, do we not bleed?  
  if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison  
  us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not  
  revenge? m.of v. w.shaka                                             speare

Julie Fern

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lincoln's war never should been fought, but at least lincoln won his war.  gump has not and will not.  to mention two in same breath ridiculous.

try again, warmonger.

prodigy

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please stop breathing.

! B L U E WAR R I O R..!

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lincoln's war never should been fought, but at least lincoln won his war.  gump has not and will not.  to mention two in same breath ridiculous.

try again, warmonger.



this is your problem...

lincoln's war was fought and nation remained whole...NOBODY WON.

bush's war is in the present...and three things are in check because of us security forces.

1. no "crescenting islamist" has harmed one hair of an american on american soil...

2. a totalitarian genocidal regime with future even more brutal and dangerous heirs was destroyed...


oddly enough many "crescenting islamist guerrillas" have gone to iraq instead of coming to the usa.

NOBODY has WON...unless you count the kurdish people.


your problem is that just because you do not want to fight back and protect yourself and those who are allies does not mean that the rest of us have to subscribe to your weakness...life and liberty on my side...


think about this and get back to me, bucky.

aye'll critique your post later. ;)
If you prick us, do we not bleed?  
  if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison  
  us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not  
  revenge? m.of v. w.shaka                                             speare

Julie Fern

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this is your problem...

lincoln's war was fought and nation remained whole...NOBODY WON.


not you heard:  north won, asswipe.  it in all papers.

no wonder your kind being shown door, you bloodthirsty coward.

Julie Fern

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bush's war is in the present...and three things are in check because of us security forces.

1. no "crescenting islamist" has harmed one hair of an american on american soil...


terrorists not able check their weapons through airport security. 

Julie Fern

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2. a totalitarian genocidal regime with future even more brutal and dangerous heirs was destroyed...


yes, you and your ilk well-known for reaching out to oppressed peoples.

you just want u.s. slaughter some more arabs for you.

Julie Fern

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oddly enough many "crescenting islamist guerrillas" have gone to iraq instead of coming to the usa.


oh, sure, we just had lebanese and saudis all lined up come here who changed their plans.

reality is that it still make every bit as much sense, as tactic, come here.

julie sure that if and when such strike comes (even gump & co. ay it inevitable), your story not change.

you need new talking points.