Tag: War

A Return to Coercion


With Iraq collapsing, Russia attacking, and China rising, the Obama administration is only now taking the first steps toward forceful action. It will have at its disposal a broad spectrum of options, thanks to new military technologies such as cyber-weapons, unmanned drones, precision munitions, and robotics. But it has yet to free itself from outmoded ways of thinking of war.

In an article just posted, co-written with Jeremy Rabkin of George Mason University, I argue that the United States should use these new weapons in the way it has used economic sanctions and blockades (as means to coerce other nations to pressure their leaders to change policies, rather than consider them kinetic weapons like artillery or armor.


My Father, My Son, And The Israel-Gaza War


My son Ari went to the Gaza border with his Israeli army unit a few weeks ago, as rocket attacks on Israel intensified.  The army took away their cellphones, so when the casualty reports began, we didn’t know where he was.  The one consolation — such as it is — is that families are notified before casualties are mentioned publicly.  We cry for the families of the casualties, but our thoughts are on the next casualty report.

My son’s battalion, Golani 13, lost seven men in the early fighting.  The Golani commander, who is Druze, inspired the nation by sustaining an eye injury and insisting to return to combat to lead his soldiers.

Sherman at 150


WAR AND CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  CIVIL WAR/LEADERSOne hundred and fifty years ago this September 2, William Tecumseh Sherman took Atlanta after a brilliant campaign through the woods of northern Georgia. While Grant slogged it out against Lee in northern Virginia all through the late spring and summer of 1864—the names of those battles still send chills up our collective spine: Spotsylvania, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor — Lincoln’s reelection chances were declared doomed.  All summer, General George McClellan reminded Americans that he had once gotten closer to Richmond than had Grant and at far less cost — and promised that, under his presidency, the war would end with either the South free to create its own nation or to rejoin the Union with slavery intact … but that in either case the terrible internecine bloodletting would end. Then Sherman suddenly took Atlanta (“Atlanta is ours and fairly won.”); McClellan was doomed and the shrinking Confederacy was bisected once again.

What was to be next?  Southerners grew confident that the besieger Sherman would become the besieged in Atlanta after the election, as his long supply lines back to Tennessee would be cut and a number of Confederate forces might converge to keep him locked up behind Confederate lines.

Instead, Sherman cut loose on November 15, 1864 — despite Grant’s worries and Lincoln’s bewilderment — and headed to the Atlantic Coast in what would soon be known as “The March to the Sea,” itself a prelude to an even more daring winter march through the Carolinas to arrive at the rear of Robert E. Lee’s army, trapped in Virginia at war’s end.

The Lesson(s) of Iraq


Iraq-Mp2 Though the situation is still very fluid, there’s a real chance that our efforts at nation building in Iraq will soon come to naught. Given our investment of time, treasure, and blood in the country — to say nothing of the prospect of a wicked and hostile Islamic state taking its place — this is deeply depressing. It’s bad enough for those of us who are simply patriots. I can only imagine how those who fought there must feel.

On the assumption that things don’t turn around, it’s important that we figure out what led to this. As I see it, our failure is likely attributable to one of three causes: 1) That we left too early because we were insufficiently committed; 2) That our humanitarian scruples prevented us from fighting with sufficient violence; or 3) That Iraqis never had it in them to transition to a modern, small-l liberal state.

The first possibility has merit, especially in light of President Obama’s promise to leave as soon as soon as possible. At the very least, it made things worse. That said, this narrative is remarkably convenient for those of us who supported the war. Self-serving claims always warrant scrutiny, especially when they point blame at one’s political enemies. It might be true — or part of the truth — but it shouldn’t be accepted without considering other options.

Not a Good Week for Hillary Clinton


HillFirst, there was this. Then, there was the fact that Diane Sawyer of all people laid into Clinton over Benghazi (which, lest you forget, is not a scandal, so don’t worry your pretty little heads about it, darlings). And then, there is the fact that her book . . . well . . . isn’t so good:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s new memoir “Hard Choices” officially launches Tuesday morning, but it’s already being savaged by critics for being overly cautious and, as a result, uninteresting.

“TRUTH BOMB 1: ‘Hard Choices’ is a newsless snore,” Politico’s Mike Allen wrote in his Monday-morning newsletter. He went on to describe the book “written so carefully not to offend that it will fuel the notion that politics infuses every part of her life.”

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Fighting Oppression vs. Fighting for Home


In his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg touches on the widespread sympathy for fascism and communism in the United States in the years leading to World War II. Many others have written on the subject.

It only now occurred to me that many of “the Greatest Generation” who were sent to fight the Nazis, Mussolini’s fascists and the Soviets might have been supporters of those regimes before the war. Is there any history of this?