" /> I write: September 2006
Curmudgeonalia
I see I taste I write Links What?
September 7, 2006

America’s Victories

(Why the U.S. wins wars and will win the war on terror)
Larry Schweikart – ISBN - 978-1595230218

Co-author of A Patriot’s History of the United States, Schweikart now explains his premise included in the title: historic review of activities and attitudes of the U.S. military thruout it’s 230 years. He, like many on the right, strongly favors the war in Iraq. His attitude might bother some, but it is not a reason to avoid this historically significant and interesting book, written for the average reader.

He begins by reviewing not only the attitudes of our military, but their origins, and further emphasizes that our armies have always reflected our population, as do its casualties. This is contrary to popular mythology and altogether unlike the rest of the world’s armies, past or present. Even Northeast sent its best to war until the 20th century, and Hollywood sent its best until Viet Nam.

Our military’s views are shaped by our Judeo-Christian heritage. Life, charity and human worth are represented differently than in most. We never trade the lives of our military for positive press. We do our best to avoid “collateral damage.” We never leave casualties behind on the battlefield. We rescue our POW’s when possible. Did you know (I didn’t!) that we invaded the Philippines solely free the Philippine and American prisoners--as a matter of honor? The Philippines were insignificant militarily.

He reviews the Vietnam and Iraq wars quite differently than you will read most places, and opines that we could, and should have won in Viet Nam. Even with our departure the South Vietnamese could have prevailed had congress not defunded them. That’s now worth remembering. That and what happened in Viet Nam and Cambodia after we abandoned them.

The despised and mistrusted “Military-Industrial Complex” is explored as he demonstrates the major role of the private sector in providing the physical means by which we win wars: R&D, high technology, with more and better weapons. The book is full of vignettes of battle which explain the value of our sophisticated weaponry as well as the training, skill and independence (private enterprise) of the men who use them.

He is harsh on the anti-war demonstrators, noting that their violence is hardly pacific, and observes that this carping drives our military to be even more cautious, more lethal, and more protective of ourselves and innocent life on the other side; precisely the opposite of the intention.

As for the “brutality” of the American troops, he compares ladies underpants on the head of a terrorist to videotaped beheadings. Of course there is some cruelty. It is, after all, war, and every war includes some. The difference is that we prosecute those who violate our rules while our adversaries don’t. In fact, they have no rules to break and are held to no visible standard. Barbarism is accepted. In the “shame and honor” culture of our current opponents, even simple supervision by a female is humiliating. Still, if you were a prisoner would you rather be beheaded, or held on a leash by a female Non-Com? Ironically it is apparent that they prefer beheading. Death before dishonor has a peculiar, non-Western ring amongst Muslims.

His critique of the opposition to the “Star Wars” missile defense is withering. He demolishes the Left by documenting that the Soviets feared it above all else. They were confident that we would succeed, and since the best weapon is the one you never have to use, Star Wars reigns supreme in that it was a technology which hadn’t even been deployed!

Determinate attitudes of Americans which prohibit losing wars are explicated. We abhor war, want it to be over quickly, value all human life, and are prepared to do what we must to win . . . as quickly as possible. Ernie Pyle wrote that “[most] of us wanted terribly, [if] only academically, for the war to be over. The front line soldier wanted it to be terminated by the physical process of his destroying enough Germans to end it. He was truly at war.”

“It took a warrior ethos of courage and decisiveness to invade Iraq . . . [and] it will take even greater heroism to defeat Iran and Syria and crush Islamofascist fundamentalism once and for all.” That comment will mystify some and anger others, but the military is ready and willing . . . and more than able! Are we?

Eisenhower once commented that Hitler should be wary of an enraged democracy. We did not muster a response to the bombings in Beirut, the Trade Center in 1993, the African embassies or the attack on the USS Cole. It took 9/11 to get our attention. Now we seem to have forgotten. He feels it will require another attack far more deadly than 9/11 to unleash our willingness and alloy it to our ability.

But, we will do it, and we will win, once we have decided we’ve had enough.

I sincerely hope that he is correct. I am not confident that the West has the will to validate itself, thus to prevail. The collective we is insufficiently vocal about the value of our culture, and increasingly irresolute recently. That has to change before we can rise to our defense.

Posted by respeto at 9:00 AM

September 2, 2006

To Hell with All That

(Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife)
Caitlin Flanagan – ISBN-13 – 978-0316756879

Everybody ought to read this little treasure. Flanagan’s insights and interpretations of the modern conundrum are fascinating—and “right on.” She explores sexless marriages, housework (loathsome?), nannies/maids (a nuisance as well as a lifesaver?), what pretends to be modern family life, the anti-clutter movement, child raising, gardening, cooking and the misapplication of time.

Amongst her observations, which will certainly be challenged by some feminists, is that we are desperate to recapture the 50’s home life without recognizing what is needed or even questioning what is wrong.

We have regimented our lives to the business model, spend hours scheduling and being present at kids activities, attending often useless meetings, etc. We seldom eat together, have little family time, used to leave work at the office, but with “go to my PC” we now can’t. For myriad couples child-care is sole purpose of marriage. They labor over sharing the great burden of child rearing, which we have elevated to a dauntingly complex enterprise. Only the best of everything, from nursery school on. We labor for a lifetime for uncertain goals, and are more exhausted than pleased. Humorously, she reminds that a nymphomaniac is a person who has more sex than you, as an overscheduled child is one enrolled in more classes than yours.

Our mentors hold, preposterously, that the wholesome effects of a family dinner can be crammed into a once-a-week event; a family life of dramatically lowered expectations. For life to mimic the postwar ideal, she reminds, would require that we revive the cultural traditions which created it: the one income family, the middle class tendency toward frugality and an understanding that the children’s future likely won’t include elite colleges and stratospheric professional success.

She briefly discusses, and pans, books such as I Don’t Know How She Does it, The Bitch in the House, etc. and notes that Real Simple, ostensibly oriented to de-cluttering your life, advocates getting rid of junk in order to buy more. In reality, it’s a magazine about shopping.

As for Hollywood, it’s current “double obsession” is thorny, what with lionizing the servicemen of the Greatest Generation while demonizing the fifties husbands. The same people! She also notes that "Rosie the Riveter" was actually happy to return home after the war. Most women's goal was to be a homemaker. That's not what were taught nowadays!

She adores Irma Bombeck whose successes were wrought by discussing real problems in a humorous way. She has a particularly interesting take on Martha Stewart’s success, noting that her magazines simply remind women of how it could be. Perplexed journalists have spent 25 years missing Stewart’s incredible style; that, and what feminists missed when demonizing housework: the fact that women have a deep emotional connection to housekeeping.

In the 50’s and 60’s girls took home economics while boys took shop. All were better prepared for married life. For yucks, watch yuppie homemakers squirm when anything goes wrong, as they lavish a fortune on getting it fixed . . . or see them labor to find something like a “designer closet organizer” to improve things (to store more stuff!) They can’t find what they’re looking for because they don’t know what they’ve lost.

Her exposition on nannies is particularly good, using Mary Poppins as a prototype. Disney introduced America to the traditional English nanny while simultaneously warning us never to get one. American mothers heeded the advice for thirty years. Then they forgot.

“Perhaps only those of us old enough to have grown up in houses in which the old ways were observed . . . know what is missing.” What’s missing is the one thing which can’t be bought: the presence of someone who cares deeply and principally about the home and the people who live in it; one willing to spend a considerable portion of each day thinking about it. After all, a home is a tiny state, and mom used to be its sovereign. While either Mom or Dad could do this, experience teaches that women are more connected than men to the requirements.

Posted by respeto at 3:14 PM