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28 July 2006


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Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I am not as pessimistic as you since I believe there is no way to finance these wars.

W. Patrick Lang


We financed all of WW2 with fiat money and debt. pl


I've always found comparisons (of one war or another) to the Civil War (or, to a lesser extent, the wars of the French Revolution.) particularly disturbing: very few people today will say that we shouldn't have fought the Civil War, that the slaves shouldn't have been freed (even though, as most of us here know, I expect, freeing slaves was incidental rather than fundamenal to the Civil War.). I suppose, had the Habsburgs somehow "won," no doubt there'd be people who might say the 30 years' war was somehow "worth it," that "Lutherian heresy" should have been put deown at any cost. Does this mean that we (the Americans, that is) are still a bit too naive, too unaccustomed to the bloodiness of costliness of wars to realize how dangerous this business is?

W. Patrick Lang


Thanks for the freshman history lesson.

It does mean that naive and idealistic fools are not up to living with the decisions that are being made with regard to future history.

Gonna join up when the bugle blows? pl


I thought that humanity had more sense. But perhaps not.
Unfortunately, Hizbulla did not sign up to the Treaty of Westphalia. So what to do? Grow a beard, put our women in black sacks and convert to Islam? No thanks.


In the 30 year war the German people paid the price for the amtitions of the neighbours, and religious zeal generally. If such a war is going to emerge, the Arabs will take that role, and pay a tremendous price.

New bit in this is that this time it is not cheap war on foreign soil for the external actors. Retribution for foreign meddlers is delivered to their homeland by groups like Al Quaeda. The West will share the suffering.

The Madrid and London bombings give an idea of what to expect then.

W. Patrick Lang


I presume that yours was not a serious response.

How about acting like this is a problem with a few thousand fanatics who need to be exterminated and states who have to be dealt with as states rather than the "dark side of the force." pl


The British are caught: You have a PM who values visits to the WH more than his own popularity at home. What is the intoxicating quality of the Oval Office? (Never been there, so can't say!) To me this struggle is so 19th Century. B & B apparently believe the natives in the ME have no right to develop without "our" permission. Notice how they never ask the Arabs what they want? Am I speaking heresy? There is no sense--nor historical appreciation--for where we are heading. We are on the wrong side of history. Colonialism is dead, dead, dead...The war will end like our last colonial war with people cheering over our failure. How sad.

Steve Kimbrough

Am very sympathetic with the original post. I wonder about this, however: Wouldn't the prudent thing for a state be to stay out of it? If the US and the Brits want to take on all of Islam, and even more, just let them. It's a form of arbitrage, and a wise one if it can be implemented. Basically, I'm thinking of an agressive form of neutrality: stay out, look for economic opportunities (on offense or defense) and pressure all belligerents economically. After all, Europe and Brazil are not the weaklings that Melos was. What could the US do about it?


Col: Sorry to be contrary, but mine was a serious response -- as is the forceful Israeli action.
As I see matters, there is not a unitary state (Lebanon)with which we can effectively negotiate.
Hezbullah may comprise only a few thousand fighters, but they swim in a sea of supporters, part supporters and coerced supporters, all of which blend into each other and are difficult to identify individually.
Their core position is one of no compromise: you cannot argue with the Koran.
Given this tragic set-up it would seem that conflict is inevitable until the weakest goes to the wall.
Any cease-fire granted is just an interlude to gather strength and resupply.
The consequencies hardly bear thinking about.

W. Patrick Lang


Absolute rubbish.

The Jihadi threat is in no way an existential threat to the USA.

Which country are you worried about?


Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

WWII was a make or break war for US. This is not.

I would hope that US & EU states, and Japan recognize that they cannot maintain social welfare for their citizens, maintain a dominant military, and compete in the global economy at the same time.

They have to give up one of the three.

Babak Makkinejad

Steve Kimbrough:

Prudence would be a useful virtue for a hyper-power; she has the most to use.

In fact, a hyper-power ought to be conservative.

Babak Makkinejad


I disagree: without the slaves there would not have been a Civil War.

W. Patrick Lang

Babak, Babak

You are missing the point. Look at the amount of fantastical crap that is being written in comment for this item.

Did you know that Islamic zealots are going to conquer us and force our "gringo" women to wear the hijab. Did you know that?

Propaganda induced war fever rules the land encouraged by the head of state.

In the long ago ideological war that these folks feel so good about, the great threat was the menace of the "slave power" which was said to wish to rule the North.

What crap! And so is this. pl

John Howley

Another supply-line problem has arisen north of the border (Scotland). Apparently, folk in Glasgow aren't amused that bombs intended for Beirut are being transshipped through Prestwick ariport.
See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/5223444.stm.

Many Labour MPs are from Scotland, including top ministers like Gordon Brown.

Sounds like the "poodle" is still on Bush's leash, though.

Remember that UK troops are nose-to-nose with Shiite militiamen in Basra.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I am aware of the "crap" from both sides of this; that's why I pointed out to the religious aspect of this in an earlier posting.

I wanted to say that war has to be financed and the chances of it happening is small.

About Purdah/Hijab/Chador: you must admit that it would be great for ugly women.

W. Patrick Lang


You have learned your lesson well about the Great War!!

And without the murders of Hussein and Hassan there would never have been shiism.


W. Patrick Lang


Your point is well taken about the ugly ones.

Some of the Europeans whom I see running around naked on Jerba in Tunisia would be better off in chador. pl


And may I just say I'm offended and outraged by our team of experts (Condi, et. al.) and their cheerleaders who dismiss a cease fire as just some temporary band aid. I'd like to see every single person who disdains a cease fire dropped into the war zone - today.


Babak -

I don't know about Europe or Japan, but I'd guess social welfare is going to get (got) the heave ho in the US.....



We financed WW2 by converting the U.S. economy into a centrally-managed Communist system for the duration of the war, where fiat money and debt were issued but the basis of the military machine became forced conversion of civilian property to military use (e.g. Packard's tooling being shoved out of the Packard factory and replaced with equipment to make Merlin engines, which basically ruined the Packard Corporation), elimination of all "luxury" items such as civilian automobiles from production, and severe rationing and price controls upon all "staple" items in order to disguise the fact that the fiat money was worthless. The quality of life and standard of living for the average American during WWII was even worse than during the Great Depression. The only reason the American people tolerated it was because national survival was at stake.

The Bushevik neocons are trying their darndest to convince the American people that terrorists threaten the very survival of America, but it would be a hard sale if the American people had to suffer actual privation. This is why mobilizing the entire resources of America to fight the Vietnam war was never considered -- arguing that the Viet Cong were going to wade ashore in San Diego and conquer America just didn't pass the laugh-and-giggle test. Similarly, the notion that Osama bin Laden's bunch is going to wade ashore on Miami Beach and conquer America... again, doesn't pass the laugh-and-giggle test. Japan and Germany, on the other hand, had clear expansionist goals and large war machines already out there conquering other countries. There was no laughing and giggling about the notion that America was on their target list. But mobilizing America like that to fight "terrorism"? Not happening. Simply politically impossible. Even the fat and intellectually lazy American people aren't that stupid.

What's going to happen is similar to Vietnam -- issuing of large amounts of government debt, increasing stress upon the economy as resources that could be put into productive use are instead put into military use (which does not add anything to the supply of goods and services available within the economy), until eventually the government is forced to devalue the dollar by printing money in order to default on the debt the only way that modern nation-states seem to be able (i.e., by devaluing their currency to make the debt worthless) and, as in the 1970's, we end up with massive stagflation.

But note that this strategy has a limited shelf life. Within eight years of adopting that strategy in 1965, the U.S. was out of Vietnam, because the currency was well on its way to being worthless, the economy turned into a shambles by 15% GDP war spending, the Army a shambles, and the citizenry upset. You can follow the Vietnam Strategy for financing a war in the absense of a threat to national survival for only so long before you end up out of money and out of power.


The basic assumption is that all people want to live in a liberal free-trade western style democracy and if the bad guys are pushed back significantly the people will rise up and overthrough there oppressors like they did in the eastern europe. Or am I missing something.

The administration ME policy in short. I found the Bush answer instructive.


Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

The war against Japan was also a religious war.

Hedley Lamar

Was the Thirty Years' War really about religion?
The first half of it was partly about religion--crushing Protestantism in Bohemia, Ferdinand II's Edict of Restitution. But by the mid-1630s the war had turned into a straightforward struggle for dynastic power. Westphalia simply established in international law a situation which already existed in most of Europe: sovereign territorial states with absolute legal authority within their own boundaries.
As a history teacher I always tend to get antsy over analogies. But if the neocons resemble any party to the 30YW, it's the Austrian Hapsburgs trying to impose a supranational and hegemonic order on dynastic states.
I'd really rather not push things any further than that...dinnertime approaches.

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