(Video) Memorial Day and America’s “Forgotten War” in Korea

May 29, 2017

korean war

The Korean War (1950-53) is sometimes called America’s “Forgotten War,” the one that came between our crushing victory in World War II and the turmoil of our defeat in Vietnam.

It’s forgotten in part because its results were, at first glance, inconclusive: the North Korean regime survived, and the war was suspended in a ceasefire. In other words, a “draw.”

I’ve argued before that this is an incorrect way to view the war. True, we failed in our initial objective: to liberate all the Korean peninsula. But our later goal, the survival of the South Korean state, turned into a good few could have anticipated. Since the war, South Korea has become a prosperous democratic nation and a close ally of the United States. So, while we didn’t achieve all our war aims, it’s hard not to call this “victory.”

North Korea, on the other hand, gives new meaning to the phrase “Hell on Earth.”

For Prager University, historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) looks at the Korean War and offers not only the same reasons I adduce to call it a win, but also points out why it was an intensely moral fight on the part of the US and its allies:

The Korean War, and the men who fought it, should never be forgotten.

(Reposted in honor of Memorial Day)

Footnote:
(1) One of my intellectual heroes.

 


(Video) Memorial Day and America’s “Forgotten War” in Korea

May 30, 2016

korean war

The Korean War (1950-53) is sometimes called America’s “Forgotten War,” the one that came between our crushing victory in World War II and the turmoil of our defeat in Vietnam.

It’s forgotten in part because its results were, at first glance, inconclusive: the North Korean regime survived, and the war was suspended in a ceasefire. In other words, a “draw.”

I’ve argued before that this is an incorrect way to view the war. True, we failed in our initial objective: to liberate all the Korean peninsula. But our later goal, the survival of the South Korean state, turned into a good few could have anticipated. Since the war, South Korea has become a prosperous democratic nation and a close ally of the United States. So, while we didn’t achieve all our war aims, it’s hard not to call this “victory.”

North Korea, on the other hand, gives new meaning to the phrase “Hell on Earth.”

For Prager University, historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) looks at the Korean War and offers not only the same reasons I adduce to call it a win, but also points out why it was an intensely moral fight on the part of the US and its allies:

The Korean War, and the men who fought it, should never be forgotten.

Footnote:
(1) One of my intellectual heroes.

 


Warren Gamaliel Obama?

October 7, 2014
Liar.

Barack Harding?

There’s an interesting piece by Victor Davis Hanson (1) today in National Review Online comparing the scandals of the Obama administration to that of President Warren G. Harding, who’s widely, if a bit unfairly, considered one of the worst to hold the office. It’s comparison that’s unfavorable to President Obama. Hanson begins by summarizing the myriad scandals and political outrages of Team Obama. Here’s one example:

Eric Holder has politicized the Justice Department in a way not seen since the scandals of Nixon appointee John Mitchell. Holder’s prior ethical lapses – notably, as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, the disreputable eleventh-hour pardon for fugitive (and Democratic contributor) Marc Rich — were well known. But in less than six years, he has managed to trump them. Holder was held in contempt by Congress for withholding subpoenaed documents about the Fast and Furious scandal, and he editorialized on pending criminal cases, such as the Trayvon Martin and the Ferguson cases. He arbitrarily chose not to enforce existing laws, whether elements of Obamacare or immigration statutes. He was forced to pay back the government for using a Gulfstream to junket to the Belmont Stakes with family and friends. He sought to try terrorists in civilian courts, and he demonized the idea of Guantanamo, which earlier, when it was politically expedient, he had praised. He caricatured his critics and made race essential rather than incidental to his tenure (e.g., “my people,” “nation of cowards,” and the false charges of racism against critics of the administration) in a way that would have gotten anyone else fired. Had any other attorney general monitored reporters’ communications as Holder did those of AP reporters, and, even more so, James Rosen, he would also have been summarily dismissed. Even the media will not be able to prevent Holder’s legacy from being seen as one of the Justice Department’s no longer enforcing the law without prejudice, but instead choosing haphazard compliance in order to advance partisan ideas of social justice.

Why, yes. I did pick this example because of my particular loathing for Eric Holder. I admit it: I’m weak.

Anyway, as Hanson says, Obama’s multiple scandals and numerous incompetent appointments dwarf anything that went on under Harding, even the infamous Teapot Dome scandal.

One outcome VDH sees in all this is immense damage to the public’s faith in “big government,” a government that can and should insert itself into every facet of life, because it knows best how to do what’s fair to everyone. He concludes:

Obama has set the standard that the purpose of government is to facilitate his version of social change, regardless of protocols, laws, or traditions. And the result is a scandal-ridden administration that exceeds that of Warren G. Harding — one that has now convinced the public that their government agencies are not lawful, competent, or to be trusted.

The Obama administration was the moment progressives had dreamed up since FDR passed away. But, instead drawing people to the Great Liberal Cradle To Grave Paradise, it will more likely send them screaming in the other direction. At least, so we hope.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Footnote:
(1) Which can be said about pretty much anything VDH writes.

PS: An example of how Harding succeeded where Obama failed.


Why Obama’s polls will never tank with limousine liberals

May 27, 2014
"My will is enough!"

“Ruler of the New Versailles”

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes at PJ Media about Obama’s poll numbers and why they’re not likely to hit the dismal late-term numbers of, say, George W. Bush or Harry Truman, in spite of the man’s obvious incompetence. While he discusses Obama’s support among minorities and the cover given him by  a protective media, it’s what he wrote about a third group, wealthy liberals, that I want to share:

 3) The well-off are indifferent to the Obama record, interested only in its symbolic resonance. Doctrinaire liberalism resonates mostly with the very wealthy. We see that by the voting patterns of our bluest counties, or the contributions of the very affluent. In contrast, Republicanism is mostly embedded within the middle class and upper middle class, while liberalism is a coalition of the affluent and the poor.

The result is that the Kerrys, Gores, and Pelosis are dittoed by millions of the affluent in Malibu, Silicon Valley, the Upper West Side, the university towns, Chicago, academia, the arts, highest finance, corporate America, foundations, the media, etc. Their income and accumulated wealth exempt them from worries about economic slowdowns, too much regulation, higher taxes, or the price of gas, electricity, or food. That under Obama gasoline has gone from $1.80 a gallon to $4.10 is as irrelevant as it is relevant that he has so far not built the Keystone Pipeline. That the price of meat has skyrocketed or that power bills are way up means little if global warming is at last addressed by more government.

For the liberal grandee, there is a margin of safety to ensure that the California legislature takes up questions like prohibiting the sale of Confederate insignia or ensuring restrooms for the transgendered or shutting down irrigated acreage to please the delta smelt. In their view, Obama represents their utopian dreams where an anointed technocracy (1), exempt from the messy ramifications of its own ideology, directs from on high a socially just society — diverse, green, non-judgmental, neutral abroad, tribal at home — in which an equality of result is ensured, albeit with proper exemptions for the better educated and more sophisticated, whose perks are necessary to give them proper downtime for their exhausting work on our behalf.

In other words, unlike the rest of us, the liberal elite can actually afford the society they want to impose on us all. For our own good.

And of such times are populist revolts born.

Footnote:
(1) Seems like VDH and I were thinking along the same lines. As usual, though, he says it a lot better than I.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bill Whittle: Obama is making us a “turncoat nation”

May 27, 2011

Bill Whittle returns today with a video that absolutely savages the “Smart Diplomacy” of Barack Obama and his administration. Noting that it takes years and decades of efforts to build up trust between nations, Whittle shows with devastating clarity how, one by one, Obama is trashing those relationships and, in the process, harming our national security and turning us into a nation of turncoats:

Two things from the video I’ll point out: first, I had a feeling Bill was a big fan of Victor Davis Hanson. I am, too, and I can’t recommend his books highly enough, whether you’re interested in Military History, Ancient Greece, the decline of California, or current affairs in general. Hanson has a way of using the past to illuminate the present that few can match. Whittle points to one of his books, How The Obama Administration Threatens Our National Security, part of the Encounter Broadsides series. Not only do I second Bill’s recommendation of Hanson’s book, but I’m a fan of the entire series. They’re inexpensive, brief polemical works on important issues that will give you the arguments you need to deal with liberal co-workers and friends.

The other item Bill mentions is the stab-in-the-back betrayal of Poland and the Czech Republic in 2009 after they stuck their necks out for us by agreeing to host missile defense sites over strenuous Russian objections. At the time I was outraged and called it “appeasement and betrayal,” and my opinions haven’t changed. Barack Obama’s, amateurish, ham-handed, and ideologically driven foreign policy is wrecking America’s traditional alliances and gaining nothing —nothing— in return.

At this point, I don’t care if the Republican nominee in 2012 is Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, John Huntsman — or even Alf! We have got to vote him out of office.

RELATED: Two good articles you may want to look at. In the first, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy describes Obama’s Middle East policy as “ObamaCare for Israel.” It’s an apt analogy, and McCarthy uses it as an example of Obama’s Alinskyism as applied to foreign relations. After that, check out Stanley Kurtz’s article on Obama’s hard-Left leanings in foreign policy: “Pro-Palestinian-in-Chief.” Kurtz wrote the brilliant Radical in Chief, a political biography of Obama chronicling his lifelong attachment to Socialism. The book discussed the implications of Obama’s radical Leftist politics for domestic policy; “Pro-Palestinian” can be considered a companion piece for foreign affairs.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


How The One screwed up in Libya: let VDH count the ways

March 24, 2011

Like most people outside the moonbat Left and isolationist Right, I supported the idea of intervening in Libya’s civil war, even though that support was qualified. And now that we’re in battle, my opinion is that we don’t stop until Qaddafi is gone; he’s too dangerous to leave behind, angry and vengeful.

But, well, Obama and his underlings have gone about this in about the most feckless, dunderheaded, and incompetent way possible. From dithering over getting involved until it was almost (and may still be) too late to stating goals that not only change, but are mutually exclusive, to coming up with the lame-brained idea of placing US forces under the command of an international committee of bureaucrats, this administration has done about everything one can think of to make sure it loses support for this kinetic military action war.

At National Review, Victor Davis Hanson enumerates the ways Obama is screwing this up. As with anything from VDH, read the whole thing, but here’s one in particular that stuck with me:

7) Leadership: This is a Potemkin coalition, far smaller than the one that fought in either Afghanistan or Iraq, notwithstanding loud proclamations to the contrary. We are not even done with the first week of bombing, and yet no one seems in charge: What body/country/alliance determines targets, issues communiques, or coordinates diplomacy? The U.K. goes after Qaddafi, and we plead “They did it, not us”? Again, fairly or not, the impression is that Obama dressed up preponderant American intervention under a multicultural fig leaf, earning the downsides of both. A loud multilateral effort could be wise diplomacy, but not if it translates into a desire to subordinate American options and profile to European and international players that are not commensurately shouldering the burden — and not if all this is cynically used to advance a welcomed new unexceptional American profile.

When we talk of “European leadership,” we mean the U.K. and France, not Germany, Italy, or most of the EU. When we talk of the “Arab League,” we mean essentially zero military assets. And when we talk of the “U.N.,” we mean zero blue-helmeted troops. So, like it or not, there is a level of understandable cynicism that suspects Obama’s new paradigm of multilateral, international action is simply the same-old, same-old, albeit without the advantages that accrue when America is unapologetic about its leadership role, weathers the criticism, and insists on the options and prerogatives that a superpower must demand in war by virtue of its power and sacrifice.

And on this theme of leadership and American exceptionalism, let me point you to this article by Tony Katz at Pajamas Media. It goes to the heart of Obama’s Socialist “education” in New York and Chicago: that America is no better than any other nation, that the exercise of overwhelming American power is a problem — that, in the end, America herself is the problem:

[The report on human rights in the US to the UNHRC –pf.] was the “tell.” Obama does not believe in American exceptionalism. America is no better, and no worse, than any other nation. So, in his estimation, why shouldn’t America be subject to the same “ruler on the knuckles” punishment as every other nation that abuses its people … like Libya?

These are the values that Obama holds dear, and they guide his decisions on every front.  While pundits and politicos were cackling about his trip to Brazil and South America, Obama kept along with seeing the sights, dancing in Rio, and staying away from press conferences.

For what reason would the president not go on his scheduled vacation trip?  The job of the president of the United States, as he sees it, is to be a willing, bowing cog in the world machine. To be morally unambiguous would be a slight to the ruling world order, the one that only multiculturalism brings.

Obama does not see the presidency, and himself in it, as the leader of the free world. Based upon the historical perspective, it is an impediment to a better world where all are equal. The president believes that America is the impediment to a safer, better world, just as he believes that “settlements” are the impediment to a safer, better Israel.

Emphases added. We can take this as part of the foundation on which all the errors VDH* lists are based.

*It truly is an unjust world, wherein an idiot like Barbara Boxer, and not Dr. Hanson, represents California in the Senate.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The origins of Barack Obama’s petulance

September 9, 2010

First we get Chris Christie laying down the law to New Jersey’s teacher’s unions, and now we have Victor Davis Hanson mincing no words when it come to our thin-skinned President and his immature peevishness. Take it away, Professor:

Obama in just twenty months has developed a reputation for being petulant, unusually sensitive to the normal run-of-the-mill criticism. His latest pushback was his strangest so far: “And they’re not always happy with me. They talk about me like a dog. That’s not in my prepared remarks, it’s just — but it’s true.”

Given that Obama has previously called out talk radio critics by name — Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh — attacked everything from limb-lopping surgeons to vacationing at Las Vegas, and in condescending fashion tsk-tsked those who attend Glen Beck rallies, rural Pennsylvanians, and his own “typical white person” grandmother who raised him, his thin-skin touchiness seems inexplicable.

Surely the most powerful man in the world knows that when you elevate talk radio critics to near-equal adversaries, then one cannot complain that they press their now high-profile serial attacks even further.

Add that his team has indulged in invective like few recent administrations — whether Obama’s own slur against the stereotyping and stupidly acting police, Eric Holder’s collective denunciation of Americans as “cowards,” Van Jones’ various hysterics (e.g., polluting and mass-murdering whites, Bush in on 9/11, etc.), Anita Dunn’s attacks against Fox News, or the generic “Bush did it” chorus.

The wonder is not that Obama is angry at criticism, but why he is so surprised in a weird “how dare they?” fashion.

Various explanations come to mind. Like the early presidential years of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, Obama has experienced a radical drop in approval ratings. His preconceived notions about the world abroad have proven shockingly therapeutic. He must be disappointed that an Ahmadinejad or Putin is not swayed by his charisma and does what he pleases, which is mostly to oppose America and its interests whenever he can. Messianic disappointment with an unappreciative lesser world can explain a lot.

Keynesian economics did not pan out. Pundits without the responsibility of governance, who advised him to borrow trillions, now abandon him for not borrowing more trillions. He must be confused why he is both being attacked by friends and yet unable to borrow his way to recovery.

Yet Obama’s petulance, I think, more likely derives from a certain surprise — leading to anger — that originates from novel and sudden demands for accountability. Quite simply, no one has dared question Obama before — much less press him for deeds to match his mellifluous words.

Did he really think he could talk his way through four years of the American presidency?

Be sure to read the whole thing; this is a marvelous, spot-on analysis of our callow President.


President Hubris, meet Nemesis

June 25, 2010

Historian Victor Davis Hanson is at his best when he reaches back to our Classical past, the heritage of Greece and Rome, to draw analogies that illuminate our present. In an essay published yesterday on President Obama’s troubles, he does this in spades. Looking at all the times Obama slammed George Bush -over Katrina relief, the surge in Iraq, Republican corruption, and so forth- and allowed sycophantic politicians and the media to fawn over him, he sees tremendous ego and arrogant pride, and a man who is finally getting the predictable comeuppance: Obama’s Greek Tragedy.

Do you remember candidate Barack Obama offering his hope-and-change platitudes in front of the fake Greek columns during the Democratic convention? Or earlier pontificating at the Victory Monument in Berlin?

Why didn’t an old cigar-chomping Democratic pro take him aside and warn him about offending Nemesis? She is the dreaded goddess who brings divine retribution in ironic fashion to overweening arrogance.

Or maybe a friend could have whispered to Senator Obama to tone it down when he was merciless in damning the Bush administration for its supposedly slow response to Hurricane Katrina.

Obama railed that Bush showed “unconscionable ineptitude.” Obama further charged that Bush’s response was “achingly slow,” a result of “passive indifference,” and that his team was rife with “corruption and cronyism.”

Those adjectives now apply to Obama himself, as he seems lost amid his own disaster — eerily in about the same Gulf environs. Adding insult to injury, a recent poll revealed that Louisiana residents thought Bush had done a better job with Katrina than Obama has with BP.

Couldn’t one of Obama’s many handlers have warned him to ignore the media’s tingling-leg gaga worship, or their nonsense that Obama is “a god”?

Apparently they didn’t, and now Obama whines that people are opposing him.

And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: It’s a crying shame that we have people as venal as Chuck Schumer and brain-dead as Barbara Boxer in the US Senate, but not someone as wise as VDH.

Read the whole thing; it’s well worth it.


Victor Davis Hanson: War and History, Ancient and Modern

June 14, 2010

Michael Totten, a journalist I highly recommend who specializes in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, conducts a wide-ranging interview of historian Victor Davis Hanson. It’s long, but read the whole thing; you’ll learn quite a bit.

One item that jumped out at me came at the end, when VDH discusses an exchange he had with a European admiral just prior to Obama’s election. It’s revelatory on several levels of European attitudes toward and dependency on the United States, and their fear of us becoming like them:

I had an interesting conversation two years ago just before Obama’s election with some military people in Versailles. They were at a garden party, and everybody was for Obama. But an admiral said to me, “We are Obama. You can’t be Obama.”

Everybody looked at him. And I said, “What do you mean?”

He said, “There’s only room for one Obama.”

I said, “So we’re supposed to do what? Take out Iran while you trash us?”

And he said, “Right out of my mouth. I couldn’t have said it better. Bush understood our relationship. We have to make accommodations with our public, which is lunatic. You don’t really believe there’s going to be an EU strike force, do you? Nobody here believes that. If you become neutral, what are we supposed to do?

That’s what he said. I was surprised at his candor. And it’s worrisome. On the one hand I like it because they’re getting just what they asked for, but on the other hand, it’s tragic. And it’s dangerous. We shouldn’t be doing this.

Emphasis added.


Obama and the new civility

April 21, 2010

At NRO, Victor Davis Hanson celebrates the new civil tone in our public discourse brought about by the ascension inauguration of Barack Obama:

At last there is a return to civility. If we were confused in recent years as to whether “hate” was a permissible word in public discourse — as in the outburst of Democratic national chairman Howard Dean, “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for,” or the infamous essay by The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait that began, “I hate President George W. Bush” — we now accept that such extreme language in the public arena is not merely uncivil, but is an incitement to real violence. The use of the word “hate” at last has become “hate speech.”

With Rep. Joe Wilson’s improper outburst to President Obama — “You lie!” — we also have at last come to appreciate that those in Congress have a special responsibility not to use incendiary language to defame our government officials. That’s why we now lament Rep. Pete Stark’s slur of George W. Bush from the House floor as a “liar” — the same Rep. Pete Stark who said of our troops that they had gone “to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.”

But since 2009 Americans have finally learned that our soldiers are sacrosanct and must not be smeared — as in Sen. Richard Durbin’s characterization of American military personnel as synonymous with Nazis, Stalinists, or Pol Pot’s murderers; as in the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s comparison of American troops to Saddam’s lethal jailers; as in Sen. John Kerry’s smear of our soldiers as acting in terrorist fashion. Evocation of Nazi or Brownshirt imagery particularly coarsens the public discourse; it demonizes opponents rather than engage them in real debate. So we can all concur now that Sen. John Glenn, Sen. Robert Byrd, and former vice president Al Gore spoke quite improperly when they compared their president’s governance to that of the Third Reich.

Although a progressive, if put to the question* of how what was once patriotic dissent could now become sedition, might answer “But that was different.”

*(Note to certain readers: that is not a euphemism for the rack, in this case. Sorry. 😦 )


VDH on Obama’s foreign policy

April 13, 2010

When trying to comprehend the origins of President Obama’s foreign policy, in which the places of allies and enemies are reversed, historian Victor Davis Hanson offers four possibilities:

All of which raises the question: Why Obama’s shift in foreign policy? I offer four alternatives, uncertain of the answer myself.

a) Obama in 2007 and 2008 created a campaign narrative of Bush the cowboy, and then found himself trapped by his own “reset button” rhetoric, which meant he could hardly credit his maligned predecessor by building on the multilateral work that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had established from 2006 onward (cf. the similar quandary of libeling Bush as a war-mongering anti-constitutionalist and then using new, kinder, gentler anti-terrorism euphemisms to mask the adoption of embracing Predators, tribunals, renditions, wiretaps, intercepts, and continuance in Iraq and Afghanistan);

b) Obama sincerely believes that states that were pro-American under Bush are now somewhat dubious, while other states’ anti-American rhetoric during 2001–08 was understandable and so rightfully now earns them empathy and attention as a reward;

c) Obama genuinely believes that those abroad who are more statist and voice rhetoric that dovetails with his own equality-of-result efforts at home are sympathetic, inasmuch as they too define “freedom” in holistic terms of state entitlements rather than individual liberty, free markets, and free expression — so to the degree a leader casts himself as a “revolutionary,” he finds resonance with an equally progressive Obama; or

d) Obama has no idea of what he is doing, and wings his way from one embarrassment to another, from snubbing Gordon Brown to gratuitously insulting Benjamin Netanyahu to abruptly changing the terms of commitments with the Czechs and Poles to constructing nonexistent Islamic historical achievements to browbeating Karzai to courting Putin to bowing to the Saudis, etc., all as he sees fit at any given moment — with an inexperienced but impulsive Hillary Clinton and gaffe-prone Joe Biden as catalysts rather than arresters of Obama’s own haphazardness.

Myself, I largely see it as “D” with a dash of “C.” I also think he’s generally uninterested in foreign affairs, except as a stage to shine on; his major interest is in remaking the US domestically into a social-democratic welfare state. Regardless, the forecast for US foreign relations isn’t good. Read the rest for some depressing thoughts.


Was World War II worth it?

September 3, 2009

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the start of World War II, seventy years ago this last Tuesday, and asks if it was worth the terrible price:

Did any good come from such a monstrous bloodletting?

Perhaps. The Holocaust was finally stopped before every Jew in Europe was killed as Hitler had planned. Germany, Italy, and Japan were transformed from monstrous regimes into liberal states whose democracies have done much for humanity in the ensuing years. And Western civilization survived its own heretical cannibals — to foster in the ensuing decades the greatest growth in freedom and prosperity in the history of the planet.

Like all of VDH’s writings, it’s thoughtful and well-worth your time.

It’s a shame so little has been done to commemorate the moment.