Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kerry's True Lies

John Kerry insulted American troops when he told a group of California college students that they'd better continue their education or end up "stuck in Iraq." In this, Kerry betrayed a liberal bias I've heard MANY times from my own lefty pals around Berkeley -- that the military is predatory in luring poor, uneducated kids, especially blacks, into deadly jobs in combat units.

According to the conventional liberal worldview, no intelligent, civilized person would freely choose to serve in the armed forces. As such, the thinking goes, social and economic inequalities force some people into service that others can avoid thanks to their greater opportunities. Rich kids' parents send them off to college, which opens doors to more lucrative careers that do not involve carrying an M-16 into a Third World desert, jungle or village. The thing is, there is more truth to this logic than anyone wants to admit. It is human nature to avoid danger, and military service involves risk to one's life and limbs. True, many people who have other options still choose military service thanks to patriotism and a taste for adventure. And the fact is, the armed forces are overwhelmingly populated by people from the middle class, especially white suburbanites.

Still, there are disproportionate numbers of blacks in the military, and many openly admit they chose military careers because doing so gave them better prospects than they would have had otherwise. I myself, though always loving my country and yearning for adventure, signed up for the Air Force while still in high school because I thought college was out of reach, and I wanted more out of life than what my high school diploma was likely to provide. I've said many times that if anyone had taken an interest in my academic performance in high school, I'd have gone straight to college.

So there is plenty of truth to the idea that getting an education and moving up the economic ladder really does provide alternatives to military service. What is so insulting about Kerry's comments and liberal views of military service, however, is the condescending attitude about our troops' intelligence. Kerry and so many lefties are proud of their pointy heads packed with trivia, and they are confident of their superiority to the poor dolts on whose behalf they claim to impose their Nanny State controls and regulations. To them, we’re all too stupid to make rational choices for ourselves, so we need them to do all the hard thinking for us. Never mind that military service actually is a rational choice for a great many who are empowered to lift themselves up thanks to the career opportunities, training and college tuition assistance provided by the military. Forget about the G.I. Bill and veterans home loan programs that have enabled literally millions of Americans to advance socially and economically. Patriotism? That’s for suckers. At least that’s what liberals believe. That attitude makes the underlying truth of their premise utterly repellent.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hey Blair, Fire General Dannatt

Britain’s top general, Sir Richard Dannatt, should be unceremoniously fired for his recent calls for the British troop evacuation from Iraq. While he has every right to his own opinion on the matter, and that opinion may even be proven correct over time (although I doubt it), as a military officer sworn to obey the commands of his civilian superiors, he must not be allowed to undermine the civilian government. At the end of that path lies tyranny and military dictatorship, which democracies have sought to prevent by strict prohibitions on political activity or speech by uniformed officers.

President Harry Truman was right to fire the great Douglas MacArthur when the general publicly opposed the president’s policies in Korea. Blair should take a page from Truman’s book and fire Dannatt now. Such a move will be widely criticized, just as it was when the unpopular Truman fired the wildly popular MacArthur. But democracies cannot allow military officers engage in political discourse. Even if a civilian government chooses to send its troops into a certain bloodbath in which huge numbers will die, such as the Allied amphibious landings at Normandy in 1944, generals cannot then second guess the decision in the press and expect to continue wearing their uniforms.

Mr. Dannatt (to Hell with noble titles like “Sir) is guilty of insubordination. Blair, already on his way out of government, should make sure the general leaves his official post as well. There is no place in a democracy for politicking military officers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

China Will Not Help

Is anyone really surprised that the People’s Republic of China today stymied the free world’s effort to levy UN sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Some in the media, of course, have been wildly speculating that China had finally had enough of its troublesome client’s bluster and brinkmanship. Since North Korea set off what it claims was an atomic bomb test Monday, the press has fallen all over itself to minimize the power of the explosion, and talking up the idea that China would now be more willing to cooperate with the United States and Japan to resolve the nuclear crisis.

Wishful thinking.

Instead, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao indicated that his country would not support sanctions. He relayed China’s position that the world should “express clearly to North Korea that ... the international community is opposed to this nuclear test,” as if Kim Jong Il’s confrontational regime had not previously been aware of such opposition. In fact, this is just the same old Chinese passive aggressive subversion of freedom that we should have come to recognize by now. Sure, the People’s Republic couches its language in the terminology of diplomacy, but the practical result of its unceasing support of the DPRK has been to sustain a murderous regime, menace South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, tie up American military assets, and prolong the crisis for as long as possible. This serves China’s strategic interests while it allows them to appear to the Third World as a non-interfering power that offers the best guarantee against Western bullying thanks to its Security Council veto. After all, as long as China sits on the Council, no two-bit tyrant need worry about the world body taking any serious action against him – assuming he has something to offer the Chinese, say oil, or in the case of North Korea, a well armed buffer against a liberal democracy.

Some people, particularly on the left, seem unaware that China and North Korea have been the very closest of allies for more than 50 years. China sent its own soldiers to fight and die on Korean soil when the UN forces threatened to wipe out the communist regime in 1950 and 1951. While the DPRK’s on-again-off –again intimacy with the Russians sometimes antagonized China, never has the People’s Republic cut off its Korean client. Too strong are the ties of blood shed together, not to mention lock-step political loyalty.

China will NEVER get tough on North Korea as long as its interests lie in preserving Kim’s regime. Only when the Chinese see that the rest of the world, particularly the United States, will no longer trade with China, and will prepare for war with China itself, will the Chinese even consider changing tactics. Until then, we are deluding ourselves if we believe they are partners in trying to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.