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03 June 2015

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Abu Sinan

We just dont have the experts and the scholars out there who seem to have the first clue as to what is going on. In the recent discourse around Yemen, it seems many of the academics and scholars out there are clearly taking political lines, more often than not in support of GCC countries.

What few real experts and academics we do have, are being ignored. If you look at the article below, it is a case I have been making since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, and I am no expert or scholar. Why is the academic/scholarly community failing on these issues? Why are the few with real knowledge, expertise and the mind craft to come up with meaningful analysis ignored?

Why the below wasnt clear to all and sundry years ago is beyond me.

"While it is difficult to gauge in quantitative or otherwise precise terms, observers should more carefully weigh the possibility that it is the Ba’athist regime’s support base within the Sunni majority, however narrow and limited it may be relative to the wider community, that has ensured its survival until now."

https://www.ctc.usma.edu/?p=35407

Babak Makkinejad

Iran became a Mediterranean power thanks to Israelis; when they invaded Lebanon in 1982 and began killing Palestinians and Shia Muslims indiscriminately.

LeaNder

Fits perfectly, at least from my so far limited glimpse of Dominic Tierney. Wikipedia still seems quite ignorant of this expert on the future of "dark age" wars, not even a sub note somewhere, at least as far as Wiki search is concerned that may not register all.

But considering how well his book seems to be advertised that may change soon:

http://www.swarthmore.edu/sites/default/files/assets/documents/user_profiles/dtierne1/CV_2015.pdf

His resume.

Patrick Bahzad

PL,

UNSC resolution 82 didn't actually set any military goals to UN-troops, as there was no UN contingent or operation set up at that time. Res. 82 merely called upon the belligerents, in particular the agressor (North Korea) to cease hostilities and retreat beyond the 38th paralel, which was the internationally recognized border between North and South.

UN action was trigered by UNSC res. 83 and 84, none of which specifically designates any military goal other than "assisting the Republic of Korea in defending itself against armed attack" and "restoring international peace and security in the area".
That mandate was drafted in such a way it left the UN/US high command enough leeway to conduct operations as it saw fit, meaning as Gen. McArthur saw fit.

If restoration of 38th parallel had been the sole objective and if it had been strictly observed, there would have been no UN military landings in Iwon and Wonsan in October 1950, and offensive military operations against the North could have stopped as early as October 7th 1950, when UN troops reached the 38th parallel in pursuit of a disintegrating North Korean Army.

McArthur saw things differently and it took two more years to get back to where the frontline was in October 1950. Political boundaries may not have affected the way troops saw their action, but it affected the outcome of the war, as the Chinese got involved when they saw their junior partner cornered in the Northern mountains.

Regardless, the outcome was still a stalemate, in so far as a lot of territory won between September and October 1950 was lost again to the Communists in the Chinese counter-attack. Had it not been for the bravery of the 1st Marines Division in particular, that Chinese counter-offensive might well have ended in disaster for the UN-troops.

Patrick Bahzad

Fred,

In that case we mostly agree then.

Regarding Korea, the Puritan dream of a worldly new "Jerusalem" may be one explanation of the attitude. The other cultural background this is rooted in though, is the cultural notion of victory as being only possible through two ways: total destruction of the enemy or unconditional surrender.

Korea, in a way, also illustrates both these cultural features.

Patrick Bahzad

Babak,

"Iran became a Mediterranean power thanks to Israelis" ? You said this before, and repeating it doesn't make it any more true.

The fact Iran has a proxy-organisation in Hezbollah which controls a limited area in South and East Lebanon, doesn't make Iran a mediterranean power.

I might as well say that ISIS or AQ is a mediteranean power, considering the number of cells and the support they have in Tripoli, which is far more important as large city on the coast than anything hezbollah controls.

In terms of seapower, the only asset Hezbollah constitutes is as Iranian aircraft carrier in relation to Israel.

turcopolier

Patrick Bahzad

I confess to not being a great MacArthur admirer. In the old army you were either a Pershing/Marshall/FoxConnor man or a Macarthur man. MacArthur's ego is something I find appalling. He waged a very skilled war in the SW Pacific but the issue of whether or not a lot of that was really necessary is still cogent. Was the 1944/45 Philippines Campaign really necessary? Japan was ultimately defeated by destruction of its navy and the strategic bombing of its cities. Would it not have been better for bypassed Japanese armies to surrender under imperial edict as so many did across Asia rather than to kill them on a retail basis as we did in the Philippines? In Korea MacArthur decided that he was going to eliminate North Korea. So far as I know that was solely his decision. Where did he think he was going to stop his forward movement? Was it at the Yalu river? Was it somewhere in Manchuria? If he had decided to halt and dig in at the narrow waist of N. Korea north of Pyongyang that would have made some sense to me, but he did not. It also made no sense to create a separate army corps in order to give Ned Almond a command. this created a division in authority that was unnecessary. IMO Marshall was right when he told Truman that MacArthur should have been fired much earlier. pl

turcopolier

Patrick Bahzad

The unconditional surrender mentality has it roots in the Puritan belief that all those who disagree with you are evil and must be destroyed. pl

Patrick Bahzad

Pl,

Oh right, I see the relation now ... Makes sense indeed. Not an expert on Puritanism I admit ! Need to have another lok at your explanations, with this in mind. thx for clarification !

turcopolier

Patrick Bahzad
As David Habakkuk has observed here, the USA is the only place in the world where the ideas of 17th Century English Puritanism triumphed and still dominate. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I was clarifying that US did not make Iran a Mediterranean power; Israel did that.

In regards to ISIS in Libya; are they receiving their orders from Raqqa?

Do you know?

Patrick Bahzad

PL,

Agree regarding McArthur ... He may have suffered from infallibility and imperial syndrome when he was put in charge of operations in Korea.
I respect his attitude a lot in the Pacific, especially his resilience and mental toughness as a leader, but as early as 1944 I suppose he crossed a mental "Rubicon" IMO.
Korea gave him an opportunity to try and be the sole master on board, and had it not been for Marshall and Truman, I'm afraid this war would have gone nuclear.
Maybe the fact Truman had still second-thoughts about his authorizing Hiroshima and Nagasaki also strengthened his will to stand-up to the commander in chief and fire him in the end.

Babak Makkinejad

NATO states did that to a lesser country - called Iran.

Now Russians are shocked, just shocked....

Patrick Bahzad

BM,

Regarding ISIS in Libya, I don't think they take orders from Raqqa directly. They pledged allegiance to the so-called Caliph, which is enough to earn them recognition by the organisation. In return, they can hope for support (of various nature) and increased visibility and publicity in the Jihadi scene.

The Libyan affiliates are small groups basically and the connection to ISIS in Raqqa is either through certain individuals with along past in Jihadi scene, or through online Twitter type messages.

Very decentralized overall. That is not the case of course of ISIS groups in Iraq and Syria, which are under the central command of the "Caliphate".

William R. Cumming

And if WAR is now and forever after not a function of NATION-STATES but instead sub-state actors how should US military be redesigned and employed?

FB Ali

Fred,

You say: The US won the war but lost the peace in Iraq.

I would suggest that the whole problem is this bifurcation of the two. Waging war cannot be isolated from the peace to follow. If that is not better than the state of affairs before you commenced hostilities, you, in fact, lost the war.

That is the trouble with much of what the US is attempting to do in the ME today.

Stephanie

Steve,

Farmer Don does have a point with regard to the more forward position of the British in the matter of the enslaved. If the colonies had stuck with the mother country in some form, perhaps the Civil War might not have happened.

Stephanie

The South might have followed a different path.There’s a story about George Mason, slaveowner and father of the Bill of Rights. Long after he was dead, some of his writings against the slave trade, the expansion of slavery to states where it was not already present, and his general distaste for the institution drew public attention and someone, either his son or grandson, apologized for what were by then heretical and dangerous views in the South. Mason had been exposed to unhealthy liberal ideas, or something, and hadn’t really meant it. One wonders if things might have been different if Mason’s heirs had taken his views to heart, and even taken them further than Mason did himself. (Mason, unsuprisingly, was no abolitionist.)

Mason, 1773: [Slavery is] that slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the Minds & Morals of our People. Every Gentleman here is born a petty Tyrant. Practiced in Acts of Despotism & Cruelty, we become callous to the Dictates of Humanity, & all the finer feelings of the Soul. Taught to regard a part of our own Species in the most abject & contemptible Degree below us, we lose that Idea of the Dignity of Man, which the Hand of Nature had implanted in us, for great & useful purposes....


turcopolier

Stephanie

"If the colonies had stuck with the mother country..." Yes, we could all be Canadians. pl

turcopolier

Stephanie

"The South might have followed a different path" Yes, and the North could have followed a different path by not invading the South and fighting an un-constitutional war of conquest. pl

David Habakkuk

Patrick Bahzad,

My surname – that of a Hebrew prophet – betokens Welsh 'dissenter' ancestry on my father's side, so some of the ways in which the dreams of the original Puritan settlers continue to shape contemporary American culture leap out at me, in a way they might be less likely to do to a Frenchman.

Also, quite late on in life I came across the short 'Autobiography' which the British philosopher/archeologist/historian R.G. Collingwood published in 1939. What the book set out to make clear was that a central concern of its author's thinking had been how to avoid wars. And here, his response to contemporary events was quite complex.

Working in Admiralty Intelligence in the First World War, he had been involved in the preparations for the peace – and thought that the Versailles Treaty had been a disaster. But he was also an impassioned opponent of 'appeasement'.

A central concern of the book was with what one might call the art and science of politics. And – putting matters rather crudely – his argument was that the art of politics consisted of handling specific situations, and that to handle these effectively required an understanding of the ways in which the past was still alive in the present.

Earlier, when trying to make sense of the changes in the Soviet Union introduced by Gorbachev, I had closely followed the work of the American scholar Stephen F. Cohen – who I later discovered had grown up in Kentucky, his grandfather having been a Jewish immigrant from Lithuania.

At the start of his 1985 study 'Rethinking the Soviet Experience', Cohen put two quotes. One was the celebrated line from Faulkner: 'The past is never dead. It's not even past.' Another was from one of the best of officially published Soviet novelists, Yuri Trifonov: 'History is not simply something that was. History is with us and in us.'

A central point that Collingwood made, when he wrote about the ways in which the past is 'incapsulated' in the present, as he put it, is that this presence is commonly ambiguous and conflicted. This is, quite patently, the case with Faulkner.

His Civil War novel 'Absalom, Absalom' ends an exchange at Harvard between Shreve – who I think is Canadian – and Quentin Compson, who narrates the story of his Mississippi family. In this, Shreve asks Quentin – who eventually commits suicide – 'Why do you hate the South?' and Quentin responds 'I don't hate it': although he does not seem quite certain on the point.

In relation to Russian history, another service which Cohen did for his readers was to ask them to look seriously at the complex and conflicted relations between old Russian traditions and 'modern' Western ideas. And he recommended to them the 1937 study 'The Origin of Russian Communism' by the emigré religious philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev.

This brought out how millenarian elements in Russian orthodoxy had been secularised and come together with Marxism, itself a secularisation of Christian eschatological ideas, and also of how the regime that resulted had been transmuted into something with strong affinities to European 'national socialist' regimes.

As someone to whom Puritanism is part of a past which is 'not simply something that was', elements of Marxism-Leninism always had a kind of sickening familiarity and fascination.

Given that the 'elect' – aka 'vanguard' – are possessed of 'consciousness', any opposition to their plans for the redemption for humanity can only be explained either by ignorance or evil will. Accordingly, the appropriate modes of action are that of the primary school teacher educating the ignorant, or that of the righteous warrior inflicting a just destruction upon the forces of evil. An understanding of how history shapes the behaviour of humanity is, of course, unnecessary, as the past is to be transcended.

If there was one lesson to be learnt from Soviet history, it seemed to me, it was that millenarian fantasies of all kinds are to be eschewed. However, this was not the lesson that was drawn. Instead, we had Francis Fukuyama following the reading of Hegel by the Stalinist-turned-EEC bureaucrat Alexander Kojève, according to which history had really ended in 1806 with Napoleon's defeat of the Prussians at Jena. Apparently, at this point the 'vanguard' had attained 'consciousness.'

In 1989, when Fukuyama wrote his preposterous essay, Americans could have looked at Tocqueville's analysis of why the same ideals that had been able to produce a stable polity after the American Revolution had produced terror and tyranny in France. His answers may be dated, but the questions – what are the preconditions for a successful 'liberal' society, and how should one act if they are absent - seemed to me of critical and immediate relevance, both in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere.

Instead, some of the dottier European traditions, came together with the Puritan background to produce a kind of 'children's crusade' attempting to realise Fukuyama's vision of a world finding its destiny in a replication of American culture and institutions. The result, as we know, has been one absymal fiasco after another.

Moreover, the virus of utter sanctimonious is catching. In Britain, an old cynical Tory tradition, whose representatives were inclined to suspect Puritans of a propensity to pious humbug, and did not expect others to have any great faith in the purity of their own intentions, is largely dead.

An interesting commentator on recent events in Ukraine and elsewhere is the British academic Richard Sakwa – the son of Polish émigre parents. In a recent essay entitled 'The New Atlanticism', he brings out well the ways in which Puritan sanctimoniousness has largely taken over the thinking of the West as a whole, and some of the dangers this involves:

'In keeping with its hermetic and comprehensive character, the new Atlanticism has effectively made security an exclusive public good. If in the past security emerged out of a balance of power or some sort of arrangement where different states engage in diplomacy to manage difference, the new power system guarantees security for its own members and allies (although of course to a different degree for the latter), but increasingly lacks a mechanism to engage in genuine equilateral security relations with others. This is a stance of one-sided geopolitical nihilism, where the very principle of other states having geopolitical interests that do not coincide with those of the Atlantic community is considered an aberration that not only delegitimizes those who assert different interests, but easily leads to the demonization of the leaders and elites who oppose the atlanticist hegemony. Sanctions, media campaigns, and covert operations are all part of the comprehensive attack on outsiders and antagonists.'

(See http://valdaiclub.com/publication/77682.html .)

Those creepy people whom many of us thought we were well rid of when the 'Mayflower' sailed back in 1620 won out after all.


Johnny Reims

Stephanie, et al.

A couple of recent history books convincingly support Col. Lang’s thesis re: WBS.

Interestingly, the authors -- both of whom are well known --represent different, even contradictory, perspectives.

Neither author would consider himself a “Southern apologist”, so, relax, both authors criticize the South. But they both argue persuasively, as does Col. Lang, that the war was entirely unnecessary.

These authors both highlight the extreme danger of the “city of the hill” mentality, particularly its role in giving us the WBS.

Some arguably could call this New Jerusalem mentality a sin, I reckon. For further examination, see, perhaps, St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, on the sin of Presumption, as US foreign policy, of late, seems rather “presumptuous” and it seems a reflection of the same 19th century mindset.

Amazon carries both books, of course, and the reviews are worth reading. I recommend the Huffington Post's review of Fleming's book. The NYT went into a bit of frenzy, if I recall, when reviewing Goldfield's book because it was so well researched.

1. America Aflame by David Goldfield. He identifies himself as “anti-war” (some would call him a “lefty” academician).

2. Disease of the Mind by Thomas Fleming. Fleming is extremely well known (and some would call him an “establishment” historian.)

Didn’t France get caught up with its own unique Napoleonic and enlightened version of the city of the secular hill mentality during the 19th century that, ultimately, led to the disaster of the Franco Prussian War? And didn’t that disaster lead to a reexamination of France nationalism, at least by some, that in turn, led to the construction of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur as a kindly reminder to act “prudently”?

turcopolier

David Habakkuk

"Those creepy people whom many of us thought we were well rid of when the 'Mayflower' sailed back in 1620 won out after all." LOL. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I think if one attends any Ashoura mourning ceremony anywhere in the world, one would immediately grasp the Persistence of the Past
In fact, one then does not need Trifonov to learn of that.

That in UK or US or EU one has to appeal to writings of novelists to remind one's audience of some of persistent features of human Life and History is a testament to how Lost those "Children" are.

But if Millenarian Fantasies are to be eschewed, then the cult of that great god called Progress will crumble, leaving no secular Teleology for the Lost Children.

They would then either have to revert back to a form of Paganism that predates the common gods - circa 10,000 years ago - or accept that Man is in the State of Fall and perhaps they ought to resume attending Sunday Service more regularly.

I suggest both are considered unpalatable choices....

About "...educating the ignorant, or that of the righteous warrior inflicting a just destruction upon the forces of evil.." - that is what Zoroaster was doing in his Holy War against the Evil Turanians - who martyred him thousands of years ago.

Babak Makkinejad

The North could have arranged with New York Bankers to buy each and every slave for 5 times the nominal price and free them; sort of like Land Reform in many countries after World War II.

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