Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Thomas Sowell explains how liberal pacifism causes wars

Thomas Sowell

I just finished reading Thomas Sowell’s “Intellectuals and Society” and I really recommend it. This post is about what I read in chapter 7 “Intellectuals and War” and chapter 8 “Intellectuals and War: Repeating History”. I found a couple of articles that contain the same arguments as in the book.

Here’s an article from Townhall.

Excerpt:

On the international scene, trying to assuage aggressors’ feelings and look at the world from their point of view has had an even more catastrophic track record. A typical sample of this kind of thinking can be found in a speech to the British Parliament by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938: “It has always seemed to me that in dealing with foreign countries we do not give ourselves a chance of success unless we try to understand their mentality, which is not always the same as our own, and it really is astonishing to contemplate how the identically same facts are regarded from two different angles.”

Like our former ambassador from the Carter era, Chamberlain sought to “remove the causes of strife or war.” He wanted “a general settlement of the grievances of the world without war.” In other words, the British prime minister approached Hitler with the attitude of someone negotiating a labor contract, where each side gives a little and everything gets worked out in the end. What Chamberlain did not understand was that all his concessions simply led to new demands from Hitler — and contempt for him by Hitler.

What Winston Churchill understood at the time, and Chamberlain did not, was that Hitler was driven by what Churchill called “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.” That was also what drove the men who drove the planes into the World Trade Center.

Pacifists of the 20th century had a lot of blood on their hands for weakening the Western democracies in the face of rising belligerence and military might in aggressor nations like Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In Britain during the 1930s, Labor Party members of Parliament voted repeatedly against military spending, while Hitler built up the most powerful military machine in Europe. Students at leading British universities signed pledges to refuse to fight in the event of war.

All of this encouraged the Nazis and the Japanese toward war against countries that they knew had greater military potential than their own. Military potential only counts when there is the will to develop it and use it, and the fortitude to continue with a bloody war when it comes. This is what they did not believe the West had. And it was Western pacifists who led them to that belief.

Then as now, pacifism was a “statement” about one’s ideals that paid little attention to actual consequences. At a Labor Party rally where Britain was being urged to disarm “as an example to others,” economist Roy Harrod asked one of the pacifists: “You think our example will cause Hitler and Mussolini to disarm?”

The reply was: “Oh, Roy, have you lost all your idealism?” In other words, the issue was about making a “statement” — that is, posturing on the edge of a volcano, with World War II threatening to erupt at any time. When disarmament advocate George Bernard Shaw was asked what Britons should do if the Nazis crossed the channel into Britain, the playwright replied, “Welcome them as tourists.”

That was explained even more in the book with more examples from history.

Most people think that Thomas Sowell is a libertarian, but he isn’t a full libertarian. He just reports the evidence. If the evidence is pro-war, then he’s pro-war. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher called this view “peace through strength”. There is only one reason why evil people do not attack – because they think that good people have the firepower tomake them pay dearly for their aggression, and – and this is very important – the will to use it. In the book, Sowell explains how the the left responded to the horror of world war one by undermining the will of the people to fight. They minimized patriotism and heroism, and emphasized charges of “imperialism”, moral equivalence, and lots of sob stories about victims.

Here’s an article that explains it more.

Excerpt:

In France, after the First World War, the teachers’ unions launched a systematic purge of textbooks, in order to promote internationalism and pacifism.

Books that depicted the courage and self-sacrifice of soldiers who had defended France against the German invaders were called “bellicose” books to be banished from the schools.

Textbook publishers caved in to the power of the teachers’ unions, rather than lose a large market for their books. History books were sharply revised to conform to internationalism and pacifism.

The once epic story of the French soldiers’ heroic defense against the German invaders at Verdun, despite the massive casualties suffered by the French, was now transformed into a story of horrible suffering by all soldiers at Verdun— French and German alike.

In short, soldiers once depicted as national heroes were now depicted as victims— and just like victims in other nations’ armies.

[...]France, where pacifism and internationalism were strongest, became a classic example of how much it can matter.

During the First World War, France fought on against the German invaders for four long years, despite having more of its soldiers killed than all the American soldiers killed in all the wars in the history of the United States, put together.

But during the Second World War, France collapsed after just six weeks of fighting and surrendered to Nazi Germany.

At the bitter moment of defeat the head of the French teachers’ union was told, “You are partially responsible for the defeat.”

Charles de Gaulle, Francois Mauriac, and other Frenchmen blamed a lack of national will or general moral decay, for the sudden and humiliating collapse of France in 1940.

At the outset of the invasion, both German and French generals assessed French military forces as more likely to gain victory, and virtually no one expected France to collapse like a house of cards — except Adolf Hitler, who had studied French society instead of French military forces.

Did patriotism matter? It mattered more than superior French tanks and planes.

Everybody wants peace. Everyone – on both sides of the issue. The problem is that one side – the leftists – call their opponents names like “imperialist” and talk “disarmament” and “dialog” as if they have have the answer to peace. That doesn’t work and it has never worked. Pacifism only “works” in the classroom, where naive children are forced to parrot the opinions of their secular leftist teachers who have no expertise in war or history. What has actually worked in history is peace through strength. Strength deters wars, strength deters violence. Strength – and the will to use that strength to restrain evil.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mainstream media silent as Muslim Brotherhood targets Christians in Egypt

Investors Business Daily reports.

Excerpt:

Christians in Egypt are again the target of Islamist Muslim Brotherhood supporters using the new violence as a cover for ongoing persecution. If Christians were burning mosques, the world would be outraged.

Amid the raging violence in Egypt, a less-publicized war is being waged against Egypt’s long-persecuted Coptic Christians, this time using the excuse that they were somehow involved in the military’s ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi from power.

Coptic Christians comprise up to 10% of Egypt’s 84 million people.

Ishaq Ibrahim from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights group has documented as many as 39 incidents of violence against churches, monasteries, Coptic schools and shops in different parts of the country within the past few days. They include Thursday’s torching of the Prince Tadros Church in the province of Fayoum, where three similar attacks occurred on other churches the day before.

Islamists firebombed the Mar Gergiss Church in Sohag, a city with a large community of Coptic Christians, burning it to the ground. Islamists previously raised an al-Qaida flag over the church.

Another two places of worship, the Churches of Abraham and the Virgin Mary, were attacked in El-Menia province, leaving them partially damaged by fire. St. Theresa Church in Assiut in Upper Egypt was also burned.

[...]In a terrorist attack one minute after midnight on Jan. 1, 2011, 21 Christians attending a New Year’s mass were killed, and 97 people, mostly Christians, were injured as worshipers were leaving a New Year’s mass at the Saints Church in Alexandria.

On April 7, two Copts were killed and 84 injured by a mob using guns, wielding machetes, throwing stones and possibly hurling Molotov cocktails at mourners exiting St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. The worshippers were mourning the deaths of four Copts in an April 4 attack in Khossus in which a nursery and church were burned.

An investigation into the October 2011 attack on Coptic Christians in Cairo’s Maspero district, leaving 30 dead and more than 500 wounded, was shut down by the Morsi regime. In the Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood, Christian lives mean little.

As the administration quibbles over the definition of a “coup” regarding Egypt’s military aid, we are reminded the U.S. and NATO went to war over the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in Bosnia. What will be our response to the ethnic cleansing of 10% of Egypt’s population?

One of the troubling things that I’ve noticed with younger evangelicals and libertarians is that they don’t understand that wars start when bad people believe that they can behave aggressively and no one will stop them. Being nice doesn’t work on bad people, it just makes them act that more more aggressively.

Here’s an article from Townhall by famous economist Thomas Sowell, in which he explains how tyrants respond to weak foreign policy.

Excerpt:

On the international scene, trying to assuage aggressors’ feelings and look at the world from their point of view has had an even more catastrophic track record. A typical sample of this kind of thinking can be found in a speech to the British Parliament by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938: “It has always seemed to me that in dealing with foreign countries we do not give ourselves a chance of success unless we try to understand their mentality, which is not always the same as our own, and it really is astonishing to contemplate how the identically same facts are regarded from two different angles.”

Like our former ambassador from the Carter era, Chamberlain sought to “remove the causes of strife or war.” He wanted “a general settlement of the grievances of the world without war.” In other words, the British prime minister approached Hitler with the attitude of someone negotiating a labor contract, where each side gives a little and everything gets worked out in the end. What Chamberlain did not understand was that all his concessions simply led to new demands from Hitler — and contempt for him by Hitler.

What Winston Churchill understood at the time, and Chamberlain did not, was that Hitler was driven by what Churchill called “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.” That was also what drove the men who drove the planes into the World Trade Center.

Pacifists of the 20th century had a lot of blood on their hands for weakening the Western democracies in the face of rising belligerence and military might in aggressor nations like Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In Britain during the 1930s, Labor Party members of Parliament voted repeatedly against military spending, while Hitler built up the most powerful military machine in Europe. Students at leading British universities signed pledges to refuse to fight in the event of war.

All of this encouraged the Nazis and the Japanese toward war against countries that they knew had greater military potential than their own. Military potential only counts when there is the will to develop it and use it, and the fortitude to continue with a bloody war when it comes. This is what they did not believe the West had. And it was Western pacifists who led them to that belief.

Then as now, pacifism was a “statement” about one’s ideals that paid little attention to actual consequences. At a Labor Party rally where Britain was being urged to disarm “as an example to others,” economist Roy Harrod asked one of the pacifists: “You think our example will cause Hitler and Mussolini to disarm?”

The reply was: “Oh, Roy, have you lost all your idealism?” In other words, the issue was about making a “statement” — that is, posturing on the edge of a volcano, with World War II threatening to erupt at any time. When disarmament advocate George Bernard Shaw was asked what Britons should do if the Nazis crossed the channel into Britain, the playwright replied, “Welcome them as tourists.”

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher called this view “peace through strength”. There is only one reason why evil people do not attack – because they think that good people have the firepower tomake them pay dearly for their aggression, and – and this is very important – the will to use it.

The important thing to realize is that without a powerful military, there is nothing that we can do when the Muslim Brotherhood goes after Coptic Christians in Egypt. Happy talk isn’t going to solve anything. To deter aggression, you need to have a credible threat of military force deployed in the region. Even if you don’t go to war, the other guy has to believe that you can and that you will. That’s what stops bad people from being aggressive. What Benghzi showed the Islamists is that they could do anything they wanted, and no one is going to stop them. That’s why Christians are dying by the bushel in Egypt today.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Democrat diplomacy: John Kerry pleads with Iraq to interdict Iranian arms shipments

Map of the Middle East

Map of the Middle East

The Wall Street Journal explains how well Democrat diplomacy worked in the Middle East. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Excerpt:

The strategic cost of President Obama’s election-driven total withdrawal from Iraq is now becoming clearer. On Sunday Secretary of State John Kerry was reduced to pleading with Iraqi officials to search Iranian flights that fly over Iraq on their way to arming Bashar Assad’s Syrian government.

With private entreaties doing no good, Mr. Kerry took his complaints public on Sunday on a visit to Baghdad, telling reporters that Iraq’s failure even to search Iran’s overflights leaves the American people “wondering how it is a partner.” Too bad Mr. Obama didn’t think about that in 2011 when he could have struck a deal to station 10,000 or so U.S. troops in Iraq for the long haul, which would have sealed the kind of partnership Mr. Kerry now wants.

Mr. Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, thought she had secured a Baghdad pledge last year to search Iran’s flights, but U.S. officials say Iraq has searched only two of what have become almost daily trips to Damascus. Mr. Kerry implies that this is an Iraq betrayal, but with the U.S. seen as wanting to withdraw from the region and Iran able to stir up plenty of political trouble inside Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has little incentive to take a risk for U.S. interests.

Mr. Obama is also discovering that there are strategic costs to doing so little in two years to topple Iran’s proxy government in Syria. Refugees are flooding into Jordan, threatening the stability of that U.S. ally, and no one seems sure who has control over Syria’s chemical weapons. Mr. Obama claims “the tide of war is receding,” but the main result of his abdications is that the U.S. has less influence to stop war from spreading.

We withdrew our forces from the key area of the Middle East, Iraq, which is located between Iran and its puppet state, Syria. Without a military force in the area, we have no influence and nothing to bargain with. We can’t even support covert operations. We have lost all credibility in the Middle East by appearing weak. That’s what happens when you put Democrats in control of foreign policy. They think that people will listen to them because they are so nice – redistributing wealth and silencing those mean moral people. They have such compassion. But in the real world, countries understand that pacifists are weak. Iraq knows that they have more to fear from Iran than the United States, so they side with Iran. Our weakness has caused our allies in Afghanistan and Iraq to side with the stronger force in the Middle East, our enemy Iran.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama foreign policy: Muslim Brotherhood imposing anti-US dictatorship in Egypt

North Africa and Middle East Political Map

North Africa and Middle East Political Map

The Heritage Foundation explains what Obama enabled by using American military force to remove Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

Excerpt:

Egypt was wracked by protests today, the day after President Mohamed Morsi purged key judicial officials and issued a decree that granted himself sweeping new powers. In Cairo, protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt’s stalled revolution, to denounce Morsi’s power grab and chant: “Morsi is Mubarak.” There were reports of heavy rioting in three Suez Canal cities, Suez, Port Said, and Ismaila, with angry crowds burning the offices of Morsi’s political party, the Freedom and Justice Party.

Opposition political leaders accused Morsi of “monopolizing all three branches of government.” Mohamed El Baradei tweeted that Morsi had “appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh.”

And more from a different Heritage Foundation article:

Egypt has been rocked once again by a political crisis triggered by President Mohamed Morsi’s relentless efforts to secure dictatorial power. Hundreds of protesters from liberal and secular opposition groups demonstrated in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the birthplace of Egypt’s stunted “Arab Spring” revolt. One barometer of the coming test of strength between Morsi and the weak and splintered opposition will be whether the disappointed democrats can retain control over Tahrir Square in the face of police and Muslim Brotherhood countermoves.

Egypt’s judiciary also has pushed back against Morsi’s power grab. The Supreme Council of the Judiciary denounced Morsi’s unilateral assertion of power over the judiciary as “an unprecedented attack on judicial independence.” The Judges Club, an association of judges made up of many appointees by the Mubarak regime, called for a strike by courts across Egypt.

But the judges alone will not be enough to reverse Morsi’s power grab. The key vote will be wielded by the armed forces. Morsi appears confident that he can count on support from key military leaders, whom he hand-picked after purging the top ranks of Mubarak loyalists in August.

While the army’s ultimate verdict on Morsi’s power grab is not yet apparent, Egypt’s investors voted with their wallets and withdrew their money from Egypt’s stock market, which plunged almost 10 percent on Sunday. Even if Morsi does secure the backing of the army, his assertion of dictatorial powers will further undermine what little confidence remains in Egypt’s deteriorating economy.

Guess what? It’s not always a good idea to use American power abroad. We have to ask what is in it for us. And in Egypt and Libya, there was nothing in it for us. We should have intervened appropriately in Syria and Iran, which are much more threatening to us.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Report: Iran shipping arms and personnel to Syria through Iraq

From left-leaning Reuters.

Excerpt:

Iran has been using civilian aircraft to fly military personnel and large quantities of weapons across Iraqi airspace to Syria to aid President Bashar al-Assad in his attempt to crush an 18-month uprising against his government, according to a Western intelligence report seen by Reuters.

Earlier this month, U.S. officials said they were questioning Iraq about Iranian flights in Iraqi airspace suspected of ferrying arms to Assad, a staunch Iranian ally. On Wednesday, U.S. Senator John Kerry threatened to review U.S. aid to Baghdad if it does not halt such overflights.

Iraq says it does not allow the passage of any weapons through its airspace. But the intelligence report obtained by Reuters says Iranian weapons have been flowing into Syria via Iraq in large quantities. Such transfers, the report says, are organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“This is part of a revised Iranian modus operandi that U.S. officials have only recently addressed publicly, following previous statements to the contrary,” said the report, a copy of which was provided by a U.N. diplomatic source.

“It also flies in the face of declarations by Iraqi officials,” it said. “Planes are flying from Iran to Syria via Iraq on an almost daily basis, carrying IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) personnel and tens of tons of weapons to arm the Syrian security forces and militias fighting against the rebels.”

It added that Iran was also “continuing to assist the regime in Damascus by sending trucks overland via Iraq” to Syria.

I was recently having a conversation with someone who was all in favor of regime change in the Middle East, but thought that the best way to achieve that was by abandoning our military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. I didn’t say anything to him about it, but I do think it’s important to understand that any kind of intelligence gathering, covert operations, interdiction, espionage, etc. depends on having military bases nearby to support such operations. In particular, covert operations often require military support. You can’t wish the Middle East well, and then pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq. We need to be there to stabilize the region, just like we did in Japan, South Korea, etc. after other wars.

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