To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. - Sun Tzu

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Why we're still there

Gary Brecher, the War Nerd columnist for the Moscow webzine The Exile, just wrote a frickin' brilliant article about a Fresno, CA, professor who's still in favor of occupying Iraq.

The gist is this: The professor, Victor Hanson, refuses to admit he was wrong supporting the invasion, so he's misrepresenting, and outright lying, about the reality of the situation. While Brecher's article focuses on Hanson, it could easily be applied to anyone who's pro-occupation. Brecher's clincher sentence, which he's said in one form or another in just about every article he's written on Iraq, is

"...what Hanson and morons like him won't admit is that short of genocide, there is no military solution to urban guerrilla warfare."

which, historically, is exactly true. Even when they cite some example of a guerilla army being defeated, it involves the wanton slaughter of a large number of civilians. Since we're (rightly) unwilling to kill millions of innocent Iraqis, Iraq will not have peace while our army occupies it. (although there have been small-scale attempts to wipe out populations, most notably in Fallujah, but none have been large enough to noticably reduce the size of the insurgency)

Even though Brecher and I (and probably just about anyone who reads this) likely disagree on just about every social and economic issue, I respect his logical, unbiased, analytical opinion on military subjects. And being able to agree on some things despite disagreeing on others is the way it's supposed to be.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Rise of the Empire

Julius Caesar was a Roman general whose victories in Gaul (France) gave him widespread popular support which he used to acquire dictatorial powers, although there was opposition to his rule (as shown by the Last Republican Civil War). The at-least-somewhat democratic Roman Republic was replaced with the Imperial dictatorship. Destruction, civil anarchy, and oppression was the result. So, several Senators assassinated Caesar. But, rather than at last recognize the dead (and thus powerless) man's evil, Marc Antony remained loyal and turned public opinion against the Senators. In the civil war that followed, any hope of the Senate regaining its rightful power was utterly lost.

A tyrant must have popular support, or else he's just a crazy person raving on a street corner. Thus he must be a good liar and charlatan, because the people would never support him if they understood his true intention.

Because politics is far too confusing for the average citizen to pay attention, they only understand one thing about politics: There are two sides, and I must choose one. Further obfusication works in the tyrant's favor by ensuring that this choice is the only choice. When both sides seem equally appealing and equally distasteful (though for different reasons), they might as well flip a coin. So the tyrant immediately has half the population in his pocket. As long as the tyrant is able to offer some reason- no matter how ridiculous- for his actions, he will have half of the population. Being on the side of rightness and justice did not help Brutus and Cassius.