Monday, December 7, 2009

Hanfstaengel, the prophet?

Victor Davis Hanson, an excellent historian who specializes in warfare, has a piece on National Review Online about the problem of dealing with Afghanistan.
He sums it up this way, "To put this in contemporary terms, what we are asking today is for a young man with a $250,000 education from West Point to climb into an Apache helicopter—after emailing back and forth with his wife and kids about what went on at a PTA meeting back in Bethesda, Maryland—and fly over Anbar province or up to the Hindu Kush and risk being shot down by a young man from a family of 15, none of whom will ever live nearly as well as the poorest citizens of the United States, using a weapon whose design he doesn't even understand. In a moral sense, the lives of these two young men are of equal value. But in reality, our society values the lives of our young men much more than Afghan societies value the lives of theirs. And it is very difficult to sustain a protracted war with asymmetrical losses under those conditions.
"My point here is that all of the usual checks on the tradition of Western warfare are magnified in our time. And I will end with this disturbing thought: We who created the Western way of war are very reluctant to resort to it due to post-modern cynicism, while those who didn't create it are very eager to apply it due to pre-modern zealotry. And that's a very lethal combination."
He likens it to the complacency of ancient Rome before its downfall.
Someone else once said, “Democracy has no convictions for which people would be willing to stake their lives.”
It was said by Ernst Hanfstaengel, college roommate of Franklin D. Roosevelt and an early supporter and close confidante of Hitler, who fled Germany when Hitler decided to murder him and went to work for Roosevelt.
Let's hope that Hanfstaengel, who was wrong then, is not proven right some 70 years later by the left wing in America.

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