February 19, 2007

Thank You Mr. Harris

As I have noted before on this blog, there are times when I am blown away by comments made by others. Such a comment was left on one of the forums I subscribe to in response to an essay by Professor Abraham Miller (Dr. Miller is emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati. He served three terms as chairman of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association and is a former Bradley Fellow at The Heritage Foundationl) in which Professor Miller asserts:

We should leave Iraq. No, not because we had ill intentions in going there, and certainly not because we didn’t find weapons of mass destruction. We should leave Iraq because as a society we no longer deserve the sacrifice of the young men and women we have sent into harm’s way to defend us.

We no longer have a moral claim on them, and if, anything, we are a failed society no longer worthy of sacrificing the best of us to protect the least of us.

If this were a client in my counseling practice I would state that the client is experiencing despair and despondency. Howver, that is not the case, this is a political position brought about by Professor Miller's viewing the war in Iraq, the Democratic Party's response to and position on that war, a plethora of bad news coming out of the middle east and other sundry bad news. The following are, according to Professor Miller, part of the reason:
A church just down the street from the Berkeley campus posted a banner that proclaims, “There is no such thing as a little torture.” Do you think they are talking about the beheading of Nick Berg, the charred bodies of American contractor swinging from a bridge, or all those souls that are discovered almost daily in shallow graves in Iraq whose bodies reveal the telltale signs of torture?

Obviously not. They are talking about Abu Ghraib, and they fail to understand the difference between putting a bag over someone’s head and beheading them.

Our media had an apoplectic fit over the false rumor that Korans were being flushed down the toilets at Guantanimo. But has the media ever asked what happens to those bibles confiscated by the Saudis?

Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, has issued a memo that eliminates the word “Muslim” from connection with the word "terrorists." Terror operations are officially undertaken by “extremists.” So, our nation is threatened by “extremists” of a generic variety, and our soldiers in Iraq are fighting “generic extremists.

You can’t fight the enemy if you are afraid to acknowledge what you are fighting. “Better dead than insensitive” is the new motto of American society. We can’t use common sense to profile probable terrorists, for that would be insensitive. It is far and away better to have another 09/11 than to have a complaint from the Council on American Islamic Relations or the American Civil Liberties Union.

I have a difficult time faulting his enumeration of the problems, but I have a difficult time saying that because of the problems, we have lost moral authority as a nation to prosecute a war against a hateful foe even if the hordes of hell stand against us. Fortunately for me, there are other wiser folk who have a solid answer for Professor Miller, one that I hope you appreciate as much as I do. The response comes from one Lawrence Harris, who posts on the same forum. Mr. Harris has graciously allowed me to post his reply in full, so while it is a long read, I'm hoping you will read every word and send me a comment about what you truly think. Mr. Harris will be reading the responses.

Yes, I suppose the media overload of socio-political division in the country is at such high levels that to end “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, and throwing up one’s hands in exasperation to “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”, is all that’s left. I can’t say I’ve seen other articles espousing such despair at the current state of affairs. Are we at the point that it is legitimate to call for America’s defeat since we have become so unworthy of victory? I am not sure though which is worse, losing in Iraq or saying we should lose because we don’t deserve to win. Now there’s a moral quandary if ever there was one. I must admit, however, I too am not altogether immune from the anesthesia brought on by this dilemma, but I’ll take a stab at self resuscitation. First let me state your position as I understand it.

Your argument seems to be that we should be defeated because we as a nation deserve to lose, or, do not deserve to win since we lack the “moral claim” on our soldier’s commitments and sacrifices. We lack this “moral claim”, as you suggest, because our politicians dither, hem and haw, and recant their initial support of the war. The spineless media implore us that global anti-Americanism is at such high levels that something should be done to get ourselves back in the world’s good graces again. College presidents blatantly display their anti US foreign policy views. Churches condemn torture by the US while ignoring the ghastly crimes of terrorists. Critics of foreign policy are unable to differentiate between prisoner abuses and beastly beheadings, are loathe to see the difference between faulty intelligence and lying, and are incapable of distinguishing between civil war and sectarian insurgency or between the meaning of a freedom fighter and a terrorist. The press embarks on a feeding frenzy and exhibits double standards at the alleged desecration of the Koran at Gitmo. The pervasive deleterious effects of multi-culturalism and political correctness stymie effective responses to addressing threats to national security. Thus, as you say, “we are a corrupt society, a society without honor” because there are those among us “who would cynically manipulate such sacrifices for the pursuit of power” – candidates jockeying for position in the lead-up to the primaries and the reprehensible non-binding resolution. Moreover, you say we will be defeated in Iraq just like we were defeated in Vietnam - on America’s streets, on it’s campuses, and in it’s Congress.

All this understandably leads to frustration, confusion, and anger, but what this can not lead to, what this should not lead to is hopelessness. However, the melancholy we may feel at the poor direction of our country has to be bolstered by the true basis of our patriotism, which is, as David Lloyd George said in a similar time of cataclysmic change, “Hope is the mainspring of patriotism.”

Though I share your assessment of contemporary American society, I do not share your despondency. The democratic impulse is by its very nature one of pluralism. The ferment we see in our society in this time of duress is reminiscent of the ferment in ancient Greek society, specifically Athens of the 5th century, during it’s Peloponnesian War. At that time Athens was engaged in a great struggle with Sparta and had endured some horrendous reversals of fortune. Yet in Athens at that time there were the comedic plays of Aristophanes lambasting the elites, vociferous debates in government forums attacking policy and person, and the dialogues of Socrates “undermining the youth.” It was, in fact, this very lifestyle that they were fighting for – democracy over oligarchy, freedom over regimentation. Thus the Athenians were living the full life of a democracy even while engaged in a war for their survival. Is not the tumult today in America expressive of our democracy? I dare say that it is, as it was for the Athenians.

* * * * *

Concerning contemporary events and the malaise that may accompany the recent displays of political hair splitting, media harping, and societal decay. Yes the non-binding resolution has been passed in Congress, but it wasn’t a landslide - there were 182 Congressmen against it. And in the Senate it is meeting with solid resistance. The point is still made though, that the troops need to be supported and that is some concession to a philosophical caveat. The norm in American foreign policy has usually been a kind of confusion and discord, a give and take, that merely reflects the dynamics of American society and politics. One has only to look at the record of US international relations in the first half of the Twentieth century. This ambivalence may have served America fairly well up to the present time, but may be less than desirable for confronting the exigencies of an impending future fraught with uncertainties.

Regarding the media, they haven’t totally caved in to defeatism. After all there is the rather large right-wing talk radio audience and several TV stations that are not capitulationist. There is also the WSJ, Washington Times, and others among the press that do not make a practice of airing America’s dirty laundry in public, nor imbibe the “blame America first” mantra.

On the other hand, the academic establishment has always been anti-authoritarian, to say the least -- it goes with the territory. But there are countervailing currents in Academia like the Euston Manifesto and the Henry Jackson Society, subscribed to by many intellectuals.

The religious establishment, however, runs the gamut. The majority of the evangelical crowd support the war as shown by the reliance given to it by the Republican Party. There are also many among the Protestant persuasion that support the President.

In short, one should not let individual experiences like a dean at a local college or a church down the street confuse us as to the realities that are evidenced in broader social and political trends.

We are not, as you say, a society without “moral claim” because of a few leftist, dissident academics, starry-eyed churches, dubious government policies, or biased and sensationalist media. There are still enough contrary voices against the “gloom and doom” in the media, and a healthy opposition in government. Should we pack it in because Chertoff is being politically correct or because TSA is working with CAIR? While these are disturbing, do not forget the Expedited Removal Program and ICE and their relentless arrests and deportations. Not to mention FIRE and Campus Watch and their watchful eye on academic irresponsibility and the abuse of “hate speech” codes. American common sense is still alive and well, though I admit under duress. But have we not been similarly challenged in our past? As Henry Clay said: “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.”

* * * * *

What then is the reality behind the news? What does it mean to be an American? Is it the current display of contemporary Americanism in the media? Is it the day-to-day maelstrom of images and events that overload our senses? The current cacophony can surely overwhelm, and though it can reveal us to ourselves, in a sense, it is not the essential self. That essential self, that core of Americanism is the time honored ideals and traditions that have come up through our history embodied in the founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. In these are given the words that resonate with the deeply felt desire for what it means to be fully human. In them, voice is given to the universal aspiration for equal rights to life, freedom, and the chance to pursue happiness.

Even if we lose in Iraq, Barack Obama is wrong. The 3000 have not wasted their lives. What gives meaning to their sacrifice is not that we succeed in Iraq. What gives meaning to their sacrifice is that they stood in harms way for what America stands for. That their “last full measure of devotion” was for freedom -- a worship-word among us Americans. There is no waste in that. There can never be a waste in that.

We do not honor the men of the Alamo because they delayed Santa Ana long enough for him to be eventually defeated. No, we honor them because they stood in harms way for their commitment to freedom and independence. We do not honor the men of Wake Island because theirs was the only occasion in all of World War II when an amphibious assault (by the Japanese) was repulsed by shore-based guns. No, we honor them because they fought, and with distinction. We do not honor the men of Bataan because they slowed down the Japanese. We do not honor them because they won their battles, they didn’t. We honor them because they fought and did us and themselves proud. There is the honor we seek. It is not for us to honor the soldiers who have fallen in Iraq. They have already honored themselves and us. We would do well to remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official.”

* * * * *

Perhaps in these days of national division we would to well to reflect on the opening words to the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

We celebrate these sentiments because they are indicative of what America stands for and can not, nor should not ever be underestimated, nor taken for granted. It has a universal appeal. Proof of this is the enfranchisement of millions of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, the creation of viable constitutions, and the establishment of the conditions of democracy in the Middle East.

Critics and commentators call into question what America is fighting for in its war against Islamic extremism. Are we protecting liberty, happiness, free will, materialism, capitalism, liberalism? I would answer all of these.

There is contained in the human mind aspirations that recognize notions of self-fulfillment and acting for the greater good. It is this recognition and the will to act on its behalf that achieves a kind of nobility for human endeavor. Yes, human behavior can plumb to the darkest recesses of depravity, but also to soar with the angels of its better nature. I see in the selfless sacrifice of US soldiers in Iraq, in the face of such indiscriminate violence and hate, a deep abiding desire to do good -- to bring democracy to a ravaged and unrepentant region. A higher good is there, make no mistake. That higher goal is to bring progress. It is that idea which is on the side of history; and the sacrifice of American soldiers and Iraqis working and dying with the Coalition will leave a legacy to which we will all solemnly marvel.

America and other liberal democracies should not shrink from the policy to advance the idea of progress. We will do this in concert with others and share the responsibility. Mistakes have been made. But make no mistake, much has already changed in the Middle East, and much remains to be changed. It is the grand project of our time. We may, however, need to become a little more cagey and think outside the box. Are we up to the task? Dare we walk with the angels of our better nature? Can we bequeath to our posterity the legacy of the ancient Greeks -- freedom?

Lawrence S. Harris
© February 2007

Thank you Mr. Harris, your eloquence is appreciated far more than you can ever know.

Posted by GM Roper at February 19, 2007 07:38 PM | TrackBack

Sorry, but I agree with Dr. Miller. Usually I like to amplify but in this case---- I just do.

He is NOT really talking about the US. He is talking about the West, and deep down in everyone's heart of hearts, don't we all have that little voice saying--- yeah, that about sums it up.

The West is NOT worthy of its defenders. It does not deserve them, or value them, and one day in the future, it might not have them.

Rose coloured glasses are pleasant but they do tend to obscure the reality of the landscape.

"But make no mistake, much has already changed in the Middle East, and much remains to be changed. It is the grand project of our time"

The 'Freedom Project' is now officially DOA. The US electorate has the attention span of a gnat, and will soon easily allow itself to be diverted by another shiny object. Do you expect a 'Democrat'(as they now exist) to commit treasure to such a long-range and problematic idea ? And the rest of the West--- surely you jest ?

Gutless, clueless, valueless, and essentially useless. Never a cause they could not appease nor an excuse they could not use for inaction. The exceptions prove the rule but it is the rule that is determinant. We are more and more simply 'Elois' and worse still --- we think that is a 'good' thing.

I fully expect if I live long enough, to see some BIG BOOMS. Followed by a great many more REALLY BIG BOOMS. That will end up being the 'great project of our time'.

Posted by dougf at February 20, 2007 12:39 AM

The West is NOT worthy of its defenders. It does not deserve them, or value them, and one day in the future, it might not have them.

A liberal who says such as this is a traitor. A conservative who says such is a _________. You fill in the blank.

Posted by e. nonee moose at February 20, 2007 12:05 PM

A liberal who says such as this is a traitor. A conservative who says such is a _________. You fill in the blank.--e.nooee moose

Oh please. Sticks and stones and all that stuff.

Spare me the high dungeon exhibited here. It ill fits the situation and is very much a reflexive rather than considered response. Perhaps you might think about addressing such concerns to the serving soldier in Iraq who said basically the same thing as I did, and was so quoted in just the last week or so. He was FED UP TO HERE with the 'support' on the home front, and minced no words saying so.

I am far too lazy to look up the exact quote or the exact time frame or the exact person involved, but say it he surely did. Probably in response to the notorious Arkin debacle in the WAPO. You have noted that Arkin is still employed, I assume. As a ' Military Analyst' no less. Need one say more ?

You think perhaps that the 'attitude' of the usual suspects somehow goes unnoticed by those on the walls ? That the calumny directed at them and what they do is like water off a ducks back ?

You wish.

"We hear that there are tumults and riots in Rome, and that voices are raised concerning the army and the quality of our soldiers. Make haste to reassure us that you love and support us as we love and support you, for if we find that we have left our bones to bleach in these sands in vain,then beware the fury of the legions. "

Not fury the next time around--- perhaps merely more people saying 'not MY job, man'. That will be more than sufficient.

A potential 'problem' does not cease to be a problem merely because it is 'inconvenient' or 'grating'. It has a life of its own independent of how you or I might feel about it. I think Houston may be having a problem.

Time will tell as it does in all things. In the meantime, let's go easy on the _______. It just leads to red-on-red situations. I know how to spell LOTS of ______.

Posted by dougf at February 20, 2007 01:09 PM

I'm not a red. And I do think the West is very much worth defending but I'm not so sure that this is what we are doing in Iraq. And if that's the case it is of no fault of the solider on the ground but rather the fault of his commander-in-chief. That's as 'considered' of a response as you are going to get from me.

Posted by e. nonee moose at February 20, 2007 01:57 PM

Both Dr Miller and Mr Harris make a strong case and I am not sure whether they are all that far apart except that Mr Harris sees the glass half full rather than half empty.

Mr Harris mentioned the Federalist Papers and I remember the nomination of 'factions' especially when they cannot distinguish their own agenda from the common good being very dangerous.

Everything seems to eventually split down the left/right line with a few voters from the shallow end of the gene pool determining the outcome of the democratic vote. This is as relevant here as it is for example in the Global Warming debate.

I am from Australia and we are having the same struggle but of course of sacrifice is minor compared to America.

Overall I share Mr Harris' optimism but understand Dr Miller’s frustration.

The struggle in Iraq is against the forces of genuine darkness and the liberals who do not see this must be blind and oblivious to the evidence before their eyes. Defeat to the Muslim extremists is beyond comprehension and if it happens where will the west draw the line?

Appeasement is superficially attractive but doomed to fail when dealing with an enemy such as being confronted at the moment. It was the hope of Saddam that the appeasers would win the day; hence his reluctance to obey or comply with the UN resolution. In the end it didn’t matter whether there were any weapons of mass destruction because he would have re-commenced the program if he was able to bluff us into backing down.

The Iraq war either happened when it did or some time later, it was inevitable that some form of confrontation would happen.

I for one am extremely grateful for the sacrifice being made for my family’s future safetly. Leaving now will ensure many more points of confrontation in the future.

Posted by Keegan at February 21, 2007 01:00 AM

As a person who has spent over 17 yrs defending this country, I recognize that the sacrafices that have been made by myself, and countless other Americans have not been in vain. They are justified. The simple fact that this subject is even open for debate is proof of that.

While I definately don't agree with pulling out of Iraq, I welcome the idea that there are some people in this country who do. That is what I have spent my adult life defending. The idea that we have the responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

Now, while we are on that subject, let us not forget the fact that the ENTIRE Congress voted UNANIMOUSLY to go into Iraq. The idea that we could topple a government and then just walk away without ensuring that the country is stable is not only irresponsible, it is inhuman.

My only wish would be that all the people who were members of Congress when we started the war in Iraq and have the good fortune of still being Members would remember the fact that they voted to support the President down this road.

If they disagree with him, then come up with a sound plan that would not leave Iraq open to a take over by the first tyrant that has the support to come in and put the Iraqi people right back into the same hell that they lived in under Sadaam.

In the mean time, support the troops, without question, who are doing the job that they sent them to do.

Posted by Just Me at February 21, 2007 08:11 AM

I share Harris's optimism and I believe that not far down the road many who are so opposed to this conflict, be it in Iraq or any other front in the larger scheme, will change their stripes when and only when they are personally affected by that evil we are facing; that slow and methodical erosion of liberty brought on by those who use our system against us from within and without.

Are we worthy? As individuals, that could be debated. *I* certainly deserve it. These young men and women have voluntarily put themselves in harm's way to protect not only our way of life and liberty, but to help others to achieve the same. It's the most noble of all endeavors. And I'll be damned if I give them anything less than my unwavering support of that mission and their sacrifice.

Posted by Oyster at February 21, 2007 12:47 PM

Oppose Harry Reid

Christians Against Leftist Heresy


I Stand With Piglet, How About You?

Reject The UN
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


101st Fighting Keyboardists

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!

Naked Bloggers

Improper Blogs

Milblogs I Read

The Texas Connection
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

American Conservative

The Wide Awakes


< TR>
AgainstTerrorism 1.jpg
[ Prev || Next || Prev 5 || Next 5]
[Rand || List || Stats || Join]

Open Tracback Providers

No PC Blogroll

Blogs For Bush

My Technorati Profile
Major Media Links

Grab A Button
If you would like to link to GM's Corner, feel free to grab one of the following buttons. (Remember to save the image to your own website).

Whimsical Creations by GM Roper
My Store

Technorati search

Fight Spam! Click Here!
YCOP Blogs

The Alliance
"GM's Corner is a Blogger's
Blog, and then some!"
-----Glenn Reynolds

Coalition Against Illegal Immigration

Southern Blog Federation

Kim Komando, America's Digital Goddess
Powered by:
Movable Type 2.64

Template by:

Design by:

Hosted by: