Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


We Who Are ABout To Bug Out Salute You
May 7, 2012 12:53 AM   Subscribe

We Who Are About to Bug Out Salute You
Rutherford B. Hayes.... brought the troops home and ended Reconstruction, with the almost unanimous support of the nation’s liberal establishment. They too fought politically against slavery before the Civil War, risked their lives to emancipate its victims, and, too soon, couldn’t wait to bug out of the South.
posted by Joe in Australia (73 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Considering the history of the Southern United States for the last 135 years, we obviously gave up way too soon. Of course the cuddly little racists at the Weekly Standard would disagree. But the Carpetbaggers definitely taught corruption to the native Southerners, who have been engaging in the practice with gusto ever since.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:06 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


After taking office in March 1877, President Hayes abandoned Michelle Obama’s South Carolina ancestors to the will of their former masters.

Hayes-zy.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:08 AM on May 7, 2012


Yeah. Weekly Standard. If it was the McCain administration it would either be about the noble art of cutting your losses or how we finally brought a backwards nation out of darkness into the clear light of self determination. Or both.
posted by clarknova at 1:15 AM on May 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


The take away for me: Sherman's march to the sea either wasn't expansive enough or wasn't repeated to the required extent to make a serious enough impression in the minds of the people of the south as opposed to their rulers.

There's no easy, guilt free way of forcing people off their cultural track and onto another one.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:19 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Um. Does this publication have a history I'm unaware of? Because it looked like an interesting article to me.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:20 AM on May 7, 2012


The take away for me: Sherman's march to the sea either wasn't expansive enough or wasn't repeated to the required extent to make a serious enough impression in the minds of the people of the south as opposed to their rulers.

There's no easy, guilt free way of forcing people off their cultural track and onto another one.


Sherman's March was a military act, not a political one. I'm positive Sherman was not interested in changing the South's minds about anything but surrender.
posted by Snyder at 1:24 AM on May 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Um. Does this publication have a history I'm unaware of? Because it looked like an interesting article to me.
It's a hardcore rightwing/neo-con rag
posted by delmoi at 1:57 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's Bill Kristol's baby.

And Bill Kristol is always right about everything.
posted by bardic at 2:01 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering the history of the Southern United States for the last 135 years, we obviously gave up way too soon.

It depends on which version of the American Civil War you read. If it was the heroic struggle to emancipate the black man, then yes, considering that it was not until 1964 most blacks were afforded voting rights in the Southern United States, you can say we gave up way too soon. If, on the other hand, one considers the American Civil War was fought to crush Southern military power and forcibly re-unite the country, then it ended with the surrender of Lee's army.

Sherman's march to the sea either wasn't expansive enough or wasn't repeated to the required extent to make a serious enough impression in the minds of the people of the south as opposed to their rulers.

I lived for ten years in Atlanta, Georgia. The impression Sherman left on the minds of native Atlantans exists to this day. There can be little doubt that Sherman was utterly ruthless in his pursuit of his Southern enemies. His scorched-earth, "march to the sea" wasn't intended to teach any lesson other than demonstrating to the South the bitterness of military defeat. It wasn't supposed to make white people and black people political equals. That was a for job of post-war reconstruction and it is here the North failed miserably, because that was never the goal of the North.

Lincoln's admirers like to portray his assassination as having changed the course of reconstruction, but considering how he ruthlessly pursued his Southern enemies during the war, and how anxious he was for re-conciliation of the Union, I don't think he would have done anything different than his successors. Post war tolerance of Jim Crow was a strategy of re-unification that the North used to end its expensive military occupation of the South and I think Lincoln would have been just fine tolerating Jim Crow as so long as any talk of rebellion was silenced. In fact, 100 years of American Presidents were just fine with that.

I don't see how any lessons from the American Civil war translate to Afghanistan. Vietnam is the more recent and more relevant comparison and there Nixon, following Ailken's advice to "declare victory and go home" did the only thing he could have done.

Like going to China, a Democrat could never have done it and I do not expect the current Democrat to offer any bold change in this history.
posted by three blind mice at 2:02 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bill Kristol is the editor in chief of the paper, he was litterally the co-founder of Project for a New American Century - he isn't just a neo-con, he's one of the defining archetypes.

Anyway, the difference is that people in Afghanistan don't want us there. So why are we there? In the south, it would only be true if you didn't consider African Americans as actual people, which is I'm sure an oversight the Weekly Standard would make.
posted by delmoi at 2:03 AM on May 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Like going to China, a Democrat could never have done it and I do not expect the current Democrat to offer any bold change in this history.
Do you, like, watch the news? Obama is using Bin Laden's killing as an excuse to GTFO. And really, without him in the picture, why are we there? There's really no reason. To liberate the women of Afghanistan by killing their husbands and fathers and brothers and sons?
posted by delmoi at 2:06 AM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


> Does this publication have a history I'm unaware of? Because it looked like an interesting article to me.

Wikipedia covers it:
The Weekly Standard is an American neoconservative opinion magazine .... Its founding publisher, News Corporation, Currently edited by founder William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Standard has been described as a "redoubt of neoconservatism" and as "the neo-con bible". Since it was founded in 1995, the Weekly Standard has never been profitable, and has remained in business through subsidies from wealthy conservative benefactors such as former owner Rupert Murdoch. Many of the magazine's articles are written by members of conservative think tanks located in Washington, D.C.
William Kristol:
Kristol was key to the defeat of the Clinton health care plan in 1993. .... Kristol was a leading proponent of the Iraq War. In 1998, he and other prominent foreign policy experts sent a letter to President Clinton urging a stronger posture against Iraq. Kristol argued that Saddam Hussein posed a grave threat to the United States and its allies ... Kristol was an ardent promoter of Sarah Palin, advocating for her selection as the running mate of John McCain in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election months before McCain chose her ... In June 2006, at the height of the Lebanon War, he suggested that, "We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait?"
Another one of their writers is John Yoo, the man who wrote the legal opinion allowing America to torture. He is not a judge, but worked as a Bush administration lawyer. There's a weird way where Presidents get their lawyers to write memos that extend their powers. I don't fully understand how it works.

Anyways, I regard many of these people as bad for my country, and damn near evil. While evil people can give valid historical analyses, America is already pretty deep into election mode, and will be for the next six months. So the odds that this article is trying to come up with ammo to lob at the Obama administration, no matter how deceptive, are pretty high.

Oh, and the author, Sam Schulman. Here's some quotes I've found: I know we should discuss the content, and not the author, but I figure it's good to know the history of the people I'm listening to.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:08 AM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Maybe I've been in Europe too long, where "liberal" in English means what it did before the PR campaign of the American Right (many of whom, ironically if there is such a thing anymore, really used to be liberals in the classical sense, before the Southern Strategy devolved into a general program of macht-über-alles) turned it into a dirty word.

But using this same word in the subhead to describe the people involved in the horse-trade that ended Reconstruction and the... I don't even know who you'd apply it to in the case of the draw-down in Afghanistan, Obama and Panetta, perhaps? ... evinces a depth of misunderstanding both of history and semantics which boggles the mind, even now.
posted by Vetinari at 2:23 AM on May 7, 2012


FYI the OP link goes directly to the 3rd page of the article... I gather most people haven't read the first 2/3rds of this article.
posted by j03 at 2:25 AM on May 7, 2012


Sherman's march to the sea either wasn't expansive enough or wasn't repeated to the required extent to make a serious enough impression in the minds of the people of the south as opposed to their rulers.

Wow. It's rare to find someone defend in such unambiguous terms a scorched earth policy. You understand that the outcome of the Civil War was not to nominate the North as the "rulers" of the South? And that by burning crops and destroying the rail lines and all industry, they hurt the poorest of the civilians? And that freed slaves who made their way to the North did not find equality and true opportunity there?

What do you think would have happened if the North continued over years to destroy half the United States every time it tried to recover? Economically, morally, how does that work well for a country trying to unite after a civil war?
posted by Houstonian at 2:29 AM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


If I'm not mistaken, "bugging out," per the title, is a Vietnam throwback. Which is to say, here's a piece that wants to goose the Boomers' culture war by giving it a fresh infusion of trumped-up relevance. Which is to say, I think we're being trolled.
posted by bicyclefish at 2:33 AM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


This article is poorly written... that is to say, perfectly tuned for it's intended audience.

What with all the sanctimonious wink wink nudge nudge preaching and back slapping about what sanctimonious hypocrites liberals are... because it's obvious once you link all these totally unrelated misrepresentations and historical fictions together!
posted by j03 at 2:38 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


"You understand that the outcome of the Civil War was not to nominate the North as the "rulers" of the South? And that by burning crops and destroying the rail lines and all industry, they hurt the poorest of the civilians? And that freed slaves who made their way to the North did not find equality and true opportunity there?"

Actually, that's exactly what needed to happen. The Confederacy was the definition of a rogue nation and it needed to be brought in line. There were plenty of hold-outs (unlike Lee) who were willing to keep fighting.

No doubt civilians suffered, but similar to the use of the first A-bomb in Japan it was necessary to a) cripple the South's ability to wage war (destroy the rail-lines) and b) send a message that resistance was futile.

As for freed slaves who went north no, it wasn't a bed of roses but it was a hell of a lot better than the virtual continuation of slavery that endured in the south.
posted by bardic at 3:02 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the author's comparison of Reconstruction with the occupation of Afghanistan is useful and interesting. In each case you have an generally unwelcome occupation which seems to have gone on too long and become too expensive. The author acknowledges that there are good reasons for the USA to get out of Afghanistan, but he points out that by doing so the USA is cynically abandoning the people it held up as a justification for its presence. The same process seems to have taken place with Reconstruction: it was as if the interests of Blacks in the South, which had formerly justified a massive upheaval and suppression of civil life, had suddenly become irrelevant. I suppose the reference to Vietnam is apposite too: life wasn't very good for the allies the USA left behind.

The lesson I would take from this is that the people who applaud occupations with a putatively moral purpose should be more cautious: reforming a society is a lengthy and expensive process, and liberal support may do nothing other than support the short-term goals of war profiteers.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:06 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"the USA is cynically abandoning the people it held up as a justification for its presence"

I disagree. When the US first went in to Afghanistan the mission was simply to kill ObL and destroy those who had cooked up 9/11. When Bush II fucked that all up and let ObL escape (to Pakistan, natch) he changed to mission to nation-building (which, shamelessly, is exactly what they went after Clinton for doing in Somalia and Yugoslavia).

So I feel bad for civilians and especially women but it's no skin off of Obama for wanting to end a failed occupation. And it's also a myth to think that most Afghans want US soldiers there -- they absolutely don't, and they'd probably be happy not to have flying death robots bombing their villages and farms.

Obama should have pulled out on day one of his administration but hey, we get the center-right president that most of us including me voted for.

"I suppose the reference to Vietnam is apposite too: life wasn't very good for the allies the USA left behind."

Oh dear god. Funny how most Vietnamese would totally disagree with you. Certainly there were reprisals, but not having the ever-loving shit blown out of your cities and villages by US artillery and carpet bombing? Agent Orange? The occasional My Lai massacre? Yeah, I'm sure your average Vietnamese person was more than happy to see the Americans leave.

"people who applaud occupations with a putatively moral purpose should be more cautious"

What me white-man? Again, the occupation of Afghanistan came about due to a failure to grab and/or kill ObL. Bush turned it into an occupation to appease his neocon masters (of which Kristol is one of the most prominent).

"reforming a society is a lengthy and expensive process"

Yeah, ask the Russians and the British before them about that. They'd agree with you of course. They'd also tell you you'd have to be bugfuck insane to repeat the mistakes of the past.

So yeah, thanks for linking to The Weekly Standard. You've made Metafilter stupider for today.
posted by bardic at 3:21 AM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


The lesson I would take from this is that the people who applaud occupations with a putatively moral purpose should be more cautious: reforming a society is a lengthy and expensive process, and liberal support may do nothing other than support the short-term goals of war profiteers.

I think this statement really elides the heterogeneous nature of informed opposition to Afghanistan occupation and it kind of positions "support" in a moral vacuum that prefaces conditions on the ground (the short term goals of war profiteers in this case), but actually I think it's a much more, ummm, interactive process than that - these positions are realities are informing each other, all the time.

Finally, and most critically, that comment ignores the fact there was an obvious, largely successful, template that the US chose not to follow: Peacekeeping.

Now, certainly peace-keeping may not have worked in Afghanistan at that time, but in that case it's critical to ask why the most successful model for this kind of nation-building - that has had results in many different countries and cultures - wouldn't work, and why a model that has basically never worked would.

I think a lot of people - right and left - asked and answered this question, and concluded that war was a bad idea. The idea that, once committed, genuine liberals should stay the course to make the best of a bad situation is... well kind of specious to say the least I think.
posted by smoke at 3:32 AM on May 7, 2012


On abortion: What science and Roe v. Wade made possible has become virtually mandatory among our self-anointed elites.

Then why is he worrying about abortion? If it's "virtually mandatory" among the people he despises, then surely they will die out pretty quickly. Or would that be too much like evolution?
posted by Grangousier at 4:00 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Buggin' Out (also, Buggin' Out).
posted by box at 4:25 AM on May 7, 2012


How has a war started by the Bush administration and bungled in the pursuit of neo-conservative nation-building in Iraq become the fault of liberal hubris?
posted by TheProudAardvark at 4:35 AM on May 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


> How has a war started by the Bush administration and bungled in the pursuit of neo-conservative nation-building in Iraq become the fault of liberal hubris?

Stabbed in the back? Democrats are weak on national defense? Politicians wouldn't let the Army do it's job? Anything other than blundering on blindly and throwing endless resources at a war makes America weak, or look weak, because America is never really weak?

None of them make sense to me, but I promise you you will hear some version of each of them trotted out over the next six months, and hardly any members of the media will point out how they fail to describe the situation.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:43 AM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


This screed--and I use that recently overused term deliberately--is a prime example of the historian's worst sin: "presentism." The author overlays his twenty-first century ideological grid over the events of the nineteenth century, and declares that "liberals" "lost" the South by insufficient moral fortitude, just like "they" are "losing" the "Graveyard of Empires" today.

A tendentious try at using selected factoids from the past to buttress present rhetorical defecation on those universal rightist bugbears, "the liberal elites."
posted by rdone at 4:52 AM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


>I think the author's comparison of Reconstruction with the occupation of Afghanistan is useful and interesting.

No it's really not. In actuality it's the worst kind of white man's burden bullshit that I've read in quite a while.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:34 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any attempt to blame Afghanistan on the Republicans is pure Democratic partisanship.

Democrats were on board when the war started. Democrats were on board when it was escalated.
posted by Trurl at 5:36 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


OTOH all the people blaming republican neocons for the wars should also probably review the voting record concerning the sanctions and funding of the war efforts. Hint: both republicans and democrats are responsible for these wars of aggression. Republicans maybe a bit more, but not because of any voting, but because of the pure joy and orgasmic fury neocons and evangelicals get from righteously murdering the enemies of our nation.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:38 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


or what Trurl said.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:38 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does this publication have a history I'm unaware of? Because it looked like an interesting article to me.

The subtitle is "The liberal habit of sanctimonious betrayal, from Reconstruction to Afghanistan." That should, maybe, give you a little hint about said publication's history?

Which, you gotta admit, is a pretty great subtitle, bettered only by, say, "The liberal habit of sanctimonious betrayal, from The Tower of Babel to Afghanistan."

How does one even perform the act of reading without some awareness of (or without seeking some awareness of) what one is reading, the context of what one is reading, and/or some awareness of where what one is reading fits into some broader conversation? That seems like such an anemic way of reading. Aussie schools aren't that poor, surely?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:47 AM on May 7, 2012


OTOH all the people blaming republican neocons for the wars should also probably review the voting record concerning the sanctions and funding of the war efforts

(While I am, personally, more than ready for the US to leave Afghanistan, I will remark on the absurdity of people who champion the art of not voting saying anything at all about voting records.)
posted by octobersurprise at 5:50 AM on May 7, 2012


(While I am, personally, more than ready for the US to leave Afghanistan, I will remark on the absurdity of people who champion the art of not voting saying anything at all about voting records.)

To respond I have in the past suggested that I have become disillusioned with the prospects for the coming elections and may sit this one out. I don't see how that is championing anything as I have never suggested that anyone else do the same. I have also suggested that voting for either of the two dominant parties is an exercise in futility if the goal of voting is to enact any meaningful change in the matters of social justice and war and peace. It may be the case that I have "championed" not voting, but I'm not going to troll through my own comments trying to find out because I just don't remember it that way. Feel free to do so if you must. Either way I don't see how any of that, even if your spurious assertion were true, would preclude me from analyzing and critiquing the voting records of the U.S. Congress. Now can we let that drop please and keep it focused on the topic not me or any other commenter.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:22 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


[October Surprise, this is a bit of an odd post, but it seems like people wanted to discuss it and was going okay 'til you dropped in with a couple of boom-boom personal attacks, one after the other... so going forward, it would be helpful do as the note suggests and focus comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.]
posted by taz at 6:30 AM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The lesson I would take from this is that the people who applaud occupations with a putatively moral purpose should be more cautious

the lesson i take from it is that if something conservatives propose doesn't work out, they'll do everything they can to blame liberals for it, just like they did with the budget deficits that were caused by bush

(although i certainly agree that there's plenty of blame on both sides for the afghanistan war)

one thing i didn't read in the article was how we're supposed to pay for a continuation of this war and what would constitute victory

my impression - it's a thought provoking analogy that's been made dishonestly as possible by people who don't really want african-americans or afghans to have the kind of power we were supposed to fight for, don't want to own up to their role in the mistakes that were made and don't want to tell people that we're going to pay for a continuation of the war by breaking our social programs
posted by pyramid termite at 6:43 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


This article makes a nuanced, pointed argument based on false premises. It will therefore read as "insightful" to that particular genre of suggestible person who's in the habit of reading, comprehending, and accepting arguments, recognizing their premises, and not thinking to check them. This is really very common in my experience, and not indicative of stupidity or bad faith, only of laziness, or perhaps just excess agreeability. So if you'd like to attack this article, it'd be most effective to do so in the form of a lesson. It's also nicer to do it that way, but that's not the point.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:51 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I'm not mistaken, "bugging out," per the title, is a Vietnam throwback.

FWIW, "bug out," in this context, dates back to the Korean War. "The Great Bug-Out" was the panicked retreat by the U.S. Eighth Army south from the Yalu River after the arrival of the Chinese army in late 1950.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:52 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lincoln's admirers like to portray his assassination as having changed the course of reconstruction, but considering how he ruthlessly pursued his Southern enemies during the war, and how anxious he was for re-conciliation of the Union, I don't think he would have done anything different than his successors.

Lincoln's assassination did change the course of reconstruction. He was more moderate than Congress, which was dominated by the Radical Republicans who wanted to punish the South. Lincoln backed a plan that let Confederate states rejoin the Union if they abolished slavery and 10% of the state's electorate took a loyalty oath. He ended his Second Inaugural Address with a call for compassionate reconciliation:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
He was assassinated six weeks later. His successor Andrew Johnson was less compassionate towards African Americans (vetoing the Freedmen's Bureau Bill in 1866 and the Civil Rights Bill in 1867). Johnson got ridden over by the Radical Republicans, who instituted harsher policies and put 10 of the former Confederate states under military occupation.

I believe Lincoln's compassion and moral authority from winning the war would've led to a smoother, less punitive Reconstruction, and I believe resentment over a harsh Reconstruction was a significant factor in the ongoing racial tensions in the South.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:54 AM on May 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


If Ulysses S. Grant had had the technological capability to bomb the Confederacy into a glass parking lot, should he have done so? Why or why not? Support your answer with examples.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:09 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rutherford B. Hayes.... brought the troops home and ended Reconstruction, with the almost unanimous support of the nation’s liberal establishment. They too fought politically against slavery before the Civil War, risked their lives to emancipate its victims, and, too soon, couldn’t wait to bug out of the South.

Critical Race Theory strikes again.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:24 AM on May 7, 2012


Faint of Butt

Yes.

Witness Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park, dedicated in 1929 to a Confederate Civil War hero who went on to become one of the founding members of the fucking Ku Klux Klan.

While I assume your "glass parking lot" option is hyperbole, I submit that if a person like Nathan Bedford Forrest qualified as a hero in the former confederate states a full seventy years after the Civil War, they could perhaps have used some additional correction.
posted by The Confessor at 7:27 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sherman's march to the sea either wasn't expansive enough or wasn't repeated to the required extent to make a serious enough impression in the minds of the people of the south as opposed to their rulers.

Wow. It's rare to find someone defend in such unambiguous terms a scorched earth policy. You understand that the outcome of the Civil War was not to nominate the North as the "rulers" of the South? And that by burning crops and destroying the rail lines and all industry, they hurt the poorest of the civilians? And that freed slaves who made their way to the North did not find equality and true opportunity there?


It is war. What did you expect? Kid gloves? If you are going to go so far as to organize human beings to create a desired political situation by force, then you better do it to win.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:31 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Ulysses S. Grant had had the technological capability to bomb the Confederacy into a glass parking lot, should he have done so? Why or why not? Support your answer with examples.

No. The goal was to bring the Confederacy back in to the Union, not to make it an uninhabitable glass desert.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:33 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another one of their writers is John Yoo, the man who wrote the legal opinion allowing America to torture. He is not a judge, but worked as a Bush administration lawyer. There's a weird way where Presidents get their lawyers to write memos that extend their powers. I don't fully understand how it works.

Actually, he just provides the President with advice as to what his powers actually are. He was wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:34 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It isn't "bugging out." We "bugged out" of the near and middle east centuries ago. And by "we" I mean the entire global North and West. And by "bug out" we mean "business as usual." We've also bugged out of:

- The Balkans
- Indo-China
- Central and South America
- etc.

We create a dialogue of hopelessness and inevitability, paint ourselves with the "we really tried this time" ashes, and continue to meddle in a transparently selfish manner that we know is guaranteed to create crises after crises.

This is globalism at work, plain and simple. There is no conspiracy here. It's pretty fucking transparent.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:39 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Witness Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park, dedicated in 1929 to a Confederate Civil War hero...

In fairness, communities that were part of the Confederacy who lost lots of soldiers and want to honor heroes aren't going to be erecting statues honoring General Sherman or naming state parks after great Union cavalry leaders and military tacticians.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:41 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


[it would be helpful do as the note suggests and focus comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

I didn't attack anyone. I was asking questions. But if my questions aren't suited to a serious and respectful discussion of a Weekly Standard opinion piece, then by all means, delete them.
]

Rutherford B. Hayes.... brought the troops home and ended Reconstruction ... Critical Race Theory strikes again.

Are you surprised? After the liberals bugged out of the South and ended Reconstruction, Jacques Derrida was named Secretary of Linguistics, and the era of deconstruction began, which continues to this day.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:44 AM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


James McPherson's This Mighty Scourge contains an excellent essay on Sherman and Atlanta- The Hard Hand of War.
By 1864 Union military leaders, especially Sherman, concentrated on the destruction of Southern railroads, factories, farms, and anything else that sustained the Confederate war effort. The emancipation of slaves was part of this "total war" against Southern resources, for the slaves made up most of the South's labor force and their liberation would cripple the Confederate economy. Sherman's recognition that the civilian population can be as important in war as armies themselves is regarded as a harbinger of the future. "We are not only fighting hostile armies," he said, "but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war.""
The full essay covers Mark Grimsley's book The Hard Hand of War, the Savannah Campaign as compared to other contemporary conflicts, the evolution of Union strategy, Sherman in Southern myth and reality, and the possibility that Lee's success as a general "produced the destruction of everything he fought for."
posted by zamboni at 7:54 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


During the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator Barack Obama made aggressive war in Afghanistan item number one to demonstrate his foreign policy toughness.

Obama greatly increased the number of troops in Afghanistan, exactly as he promised (in fact he increased troops much more than he promised).

He also promised “I will finally finish the fight against bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. I will never hesitate to defend this nation."

Well, he finished off bin Laden too. Always implied in the 'finish the fight' (at least the way I see it) was the end of troops in Afghanistan. There was never a goal of keeping troops there forever, which this article seems to be asking for.
posted by eye of newt at 8:24 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This article ignores the narrative for imperial expansion that America has borrowed almost entirely from England. Vested interests (typically in the mideast or Asia) raise alarm bells about an expansionist power that, if it doesn't threaten the U.S. now, will sometime in the near future. Political sentiment is gradually turned to support intervention and occupation. Several years on voters grow tired of the sustained loss of blood and money, and see no discernible payoffs from occupation. They elect someone from the opposite party who pledges to withdraw troops and go for a calculated detente.

Unfortunately for the Weekly Standard, they are on the wrong side of the latest wave of popular sentiment, which is probably why the article strikes a tone of bemused resignation instead of gleeful jingoism. It still manages to make reference to "threatening neighbors" like Pakistan, Russia (RUSSIA!), and China, as if to suggest that the most "realist" foreign policy standpoint still sees the world as an essentially undecided game of Risk and that failing to keep at least three armies in Afghanistan will result in a Mongolian invasion of the entirety of South Asia.
posted by anewnadir at 8:32 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This article ignores the narrative for imperial expansion that America has borrowed almost entirely from England. Vested interests (typically in the mideast or Asia) raise alarm bells about an expansionist power that, if it doesn't threaten the U.S. now, will sometime in the near future. Political sentiment is gradually turned to support intervention and occupation. Several years on voters grow tired of the sustained loss of blood and money, and see no discernible payoffs from occupation. They elect someone from the opposite party who pledges to withdraw troops and go for a calculated detente.

Uh, what? Iraq, I can see this, sort of. Afghanistan? Nope. In fact it was an afterthought for Bush simply because it did not fit this narrative--the "brown people" as he so lovingly called them, actually attacked the USA and the specific group responsible had been state-sponsored by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Mind you, this isn't Jenkins Ear.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:03 AM on May 7, 2012


Ironmouth: I'm not saying every example fits the narrative, but the article itself basically makes two emotional appeals. The first is to our sympathy for the Afghan women and Children who will surely be made the first examples of what Taliban ascendancy actually means.

But the second is to a sense of uneasiness that many feel about a withdrawal: weren't we in Afghanistan to combat terrorism? And isn't terrorism still a threat? Then why are we leaving Afghanistan? This sentiment is the mirror image of what I was talking about above: Both implicate uninformed, vague and generally instinctual notions of what the best thing to do in Afghanistan is (Often plucked from the pages of the Weekly Standard!)rather than any genuine desire to make the most informed decision possible under the circumstances.
posted by anewnadir at 9:11 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Houstonian: And that by burning crops and destroying the rail lines and all industry, they hurt the poorest of the civilians?

It's rather difficult to fight a war in a manner that is sensitive to the economic hardships of the lowest classes.

And that freed slaves who made their way to the North did not find equality and true opportunity there?

You said some meaningful things, but this bizarre quasi-justification of slavery... Wow.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:40 AM on May 7, 2012


Like going to China, a Democrat could never have done it and I do not expect the current Democrat to offer any bold change in this history.

three blind mice, name a Republican who's offered any bold changes in civil rights in the last hundred years. Caveat: positive changes!

Also, the actual quote you're referencing is not about Democrats, but about Nixon vs everyone else: no other Republican could have done it, either. Likewise, "Only Truman could have ended WWII!" and "Only Kennedy could have gotten us to space!" (Untestable hypotheses about history mean nothing.)
posted by IAmBroom at 9:45 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Only Reagan could raise taxes"?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:37 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Only GWBush could declare victory ten minutes into the war.
posted by axiom at 10:46 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


name a Republican who's offered any bold changes in civil rights in the last hundred years.

Warren Harding pushed for federal anti-lynching legislation.

Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act, written by fellow Republican Homer Snyder.

Dwight Eisenhower pushed the military to enact Truman's desegregation, federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent in the 101st Airborne Division to integrate Little Rock Central High School and pushed for the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 (the one that Strom Thurmond filibustered for 24 hours) and 1960 (which sealed many of the loopholes that Lyndon Johnson and his Southern allies put in the '57 version).
posted by Etrigan at 11:45 AM on May 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Ironmouth: I'm not saying every example fits the narrative, but the article itself basically makes two emotional appeals. The first is to our sympathy for the Afghan women and Children who will surely be made the first examples of what Taliban ascendancy actually means.

But the second is to a sense of uneasiness that many feel about a withdrawal: weren't we in Afghanistan to combat terrorism? And isn't terrorism still a threat? Then why are we leaving Afghanistan? This sentiment is the mirror image of what I was talking about above: Both implicate uninformed, vague and generally instinctual notions of what the best thing to do in Afghanistan is (Often plucked from the pages of the Weekly Standard!)rather than any genuine desire to make the most informed decision possible under the circumstances.


I believe the reasoning is that last time they were in there, they state-sponsored a terrorist organization which committed the 9/11 attacks, the Cole bombing, the East Africa embassy bombings and also the first World Trade Center bombing. So denying them the power of running a country again might be a good idea.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:52 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Ulysses S. Grant had had the technological capability to bomb the Confederacy into a glass parking lot, should he have done so? Why or why not? Support your answer with examples.
After WWII we changed German culture to be incredibly anti-fascist, and we changed Japanese culture to venerate pacifism as a point of national pride. Obviously these changes were possible. We obviously had far greater resources, as well as an extra century of philosophical understanding. But it doesn't seem like it would have been impossible.

Of course, after WWII the US and allied occupying forces really did believe in anti-fascism, and of course they really did believe in Japan being a pacifist country.
posted by delmoi at 12:05 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: "I believe the reasoning is that last time they were in there, they state-sponsored a terrorist organization which committed the 9/11 attacks, the Cole bombing, the East Africa embassy bombings and also the first World Trade Center bombing. So denying them the power of running a country again might be a good idea."

So, why are we blaming our failure to do so on Liberals? If assassinating Al Qaeda with drones is the goal then why is the Weekly Standard harping on Obama letting down Afghan women? If Nation-building is the goal, why are we bombing civilians and engaging in a protracted military occupation?
posted by anewnadir at 1:45 PM on May 7, 2012


From what I've read, Hayes is a national hero in Paraguay. There are statues of him all over the country.
posted by reenum at 2:41 PM on May 7, 2012


After WWII we changed German culture to be incredibly anti-fascist, and we changed Japanese culture to venerate pacifism as a point of national pride

I suspect that German culture changing to be anti-fascist had less to do with direct intervention from the United States and more to do with the experience of having a fascist government and realizing that the Holocaust happened? That is, we could have won WWII and deposed the Nazi party, but if the German populace wasn't profoundly ready to not have fascists in power, I don't know how much the US could have done.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:50 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth wrote: the "brown people" as he so lovingly called them, actually attacked the USA and the specific group responsible had been state-sponsored by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And before that, by the USA in its inchoate support of "Mujahideen" against the USSR.

It's arguable that arming the Mujahideen was strategically correct in the context of the Cold War, but the subsequent struggle between Mujahideen leaders opened the doors to anyone who could provide stability. The USA failed to provide an alternative to the warlords and the Taliban filled the gap. They were genuinely welcomed, at least initially, but their ideology was fundamentally a refined version of Islamist liberation theology. The USA couldn't have designed a better incubator for jihad if it had set out to create one: the local defeat of the USSR showed that foreign oppressors could be driven out by plucky guerrillas; and the success of the Taliban showed that an Islamic civil society was strong enough to defeat indigenous warlords. All that Osama bin Laden did was turn his followers' ideological focus from a national to an international level. The whole thing has been a classic tragedy - each actor is convinced that they're doing the right thing under the circumstances, and everyone dies horribly at the end.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:46 PM on May 7, 2012


A meta comment, but: Joe, thanks for posting this. I don't have much love for The Weekly Standard, but it's good for the community to engage with its arguments, rather than just being a clearinghouse for links from Alternet. Anyone who tells you that you're making the blue stupider should be ignored as a lazy thinker.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:11 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The whole thing has been a classic tragedy - each actor is convinced that they're doing the right thing under the circumstances, and everyone dies horribly at the end."

So instead of prolonging the agony, the US should stop the bleeding, declare victory, and bring its soldiers home immediately.

There's nothing moral about a prolonged occupation involving drone assasinations, boys being murdered from helicopters, or multiple wedding parties being annihilated. The moral thing to do is to stop fucking killing innocent people.

"it's good for the community to engage with its arguments"

Oh please. This wasn't an argument, this was a screed trying to misdirect blame for Bush and the Neocons' disatrous foreign policy blunders over in the years since 9/11 onto Democrats, with a truly bizarre layer of "libruls are the ones who actually hate black and brown people."

Then again, I'm glad this post wasn't deleted. It's good for people to know the source of bullshit being pimped. Racist, revisionist crap doesn't usually belong on the front page but hey, let's chalk this up as a learning moment.
posted by bardic at 11:45 PM on May 7, 2012


I don't see why you think it's racist, and the author explicitly says that the USA should get out of Afghanistan. His criticism is directed at the hypocrisy of people who dropped their concern for the women of Afghanistan as soon as it became expedient to do so.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:00 AM on May 8, 2012


And this is a strawman, because people who want out of Afghanistan don't hate the women there, they hate the stupid, wreckless Neoncon policies that led to the deaths of thousands of people and wrecked the American economy, not to mention its moral standing due to well-documented incidences of torture and the use of flying death robots.

Frankly, it's cowardly of you to try and smear anyone who's opposed to this ongoing occupation as somehow secretly hating women.

You know what I hate? Bullshit, lies, Republican propaganda, and the deaths of people who we had no business molesting in the first place.

And the racism attack is quite clear -- oh those silly liberals, claiming they love black slaves/Afghan females, but deep down they really hate them.

Sorry, but if you can't see through the thinly veiled attempt at shift-the-blame jujitsu in this article, I honestly pity you.
posted by bardic at 2:52 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


His criticism is directed at the hypocrisy of people who dropped their concern for the women of Afghanistan as soon as it became expedient to do so.

What about the hypocrisy of people who never had any concern for the women of Afghanistan until it became expedient to do so?

I realize you can't answer this question, Joe, having never heard of the Weekly Standard before this, nor, presumably, Bill Kristol, nor the US neo-cons, maybe not even the war in Afghanistan, but I'd like to address it to someone if the question of hypocrisy is being raised.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:11 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Frankly, it's cowardly of you to try and smear anyone who's opposed to this ongoing occupation as somehow secretly hating women.

Er, Joe in Australia never said anything about "hating" the women of Afghanistan. Heck, even the Standard didn't. They said abandonment. Hate was the conclusion you lept to---I'll refrain from psychological speculation why you respond to "Have you failed to honor your stated commitment to improving people's lives?" with "How dare you accuse me of hating women?"

His point it that liberals have a long history of expressing "concern" about the conditions people are living under, urging that "something" be done, then getting weak-kneed when the "something" is actually a something, rather than just another expression of concern. The Standard is not accusing liberals of hate, they're accusing them of indifference, of noisily caring when it has no impact and not caring when it has costs.

I'd reply to the Standard by saying that most liberals knew well that invasion was a lousy way to improve the status of Afghan's oppressed. The way the war was conducted (torture, drones, poorly-sustained rules of engagement) didn't help; maybe things would have worked out better if the war was conducted by an administration with some honor and morality. But mostly, it was just too foreign an environment for a U.S. military action to negotiate, with an enemy too undefined. It would be interesting to hear someone who knows Afghanistan better explain why the culture of Kabul in the '70s was so unrecoverable, but that's really a question about the internal politics of Afghanistan, not the military strategy of the U.S.

Comparing it to the Civil War is foolish, as that was, well, a civil war---the South is not like the North, but the people speak the same language, have the same religion, and can mostly be understood. And even there, it took a hundred years for the poison to start to be drained (perhaps it would have been better if Reconstruction had been more aggressive; that would be an interesting discussion to have with someone who knows the subject better than the author of this article seems to).

To think we could change a civilization that we knew nothing of by sending in troops seems terribly naive. Even more naive than all those forwards that used to go around college about "help the women of Afghanistan", which is a high fucking bar.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2012


"The Standard is not accusing liberals of hate, they're accusing them of indifference, of noisily caring when it has no impact and not caring when it has costs."

Not wanting to murder bomb and torture the people of Afghanistan is not the same as indifference.

Discuss.

"To think we could change a civilization that we knew nothing of by sending in troops seems terribly naive."

I'd call it criminal.
posted by bardic at 10:43 PM on May 8, 2012


"The Standard is not accusing liberals of hate, they're accusing them of indifference, of noisily caring when it has no impact and not caring when it has costs."

Not wanting to murder bomb and torture the people of Afghanistan is not the same as indifference.

Discuss.


The response would be: Does it bother you that you're preferred methods of change do not achieve change? If not, then "indifference" seems the proper word. All the leftie writers of the Weimar republic could not dislodge the fascist regime in Spain. Earnest demands that Burma stop oppressing its people were meaningless; only severe economic sanctions (which inflicted a great deal of pain on the ordinary people of Burma) had an effect (and that only very, very slowly).

You may care very much about the people of Afghanistan, but caring plus a dollar will buy a cup of coffee. The question is what action you think is worth taking to improve their lot. If you think it is wrong for non-Afghanis to take that action, very well, that's a defensible position. But understand you are saying that outsiders to a culture do not have a right to change that culture's pattern of oppression, and be prepared to explain why the Southern states do not meet that criteria. (Hint: There's an answer, and I said it above)

"To think we could change a civilization that we knew nothing of by sending in troops seems terribly naive."

I'd call it criminal.


Then you're a fool. "Criminal" is a word with little meaning in this context, used only by those who like to pretend that injustices will be righted if they cry to teacher.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:54 PM on May 9, 2012


"The question is what action you think is worth taking to improve their lot."

Not murdering, bombing, and torturing them, maybe?

Seriously, it's as if you've driven a tank into a village of farmers and run most of them over. A few are crying and screaming, so you machine gun them. For good measure, you call in a drone strike.

Then, with the straightest of faces, you scratch your chin and ask out loud "How, oh how, can we help these godforsaken peasants? WE MUST DO SOMETHING! WE CAN'T JUST LEAVE!"
posted by bardic at 2:17 AM on May 10, 2012


Yes. That's exactly what's happened basically anywhere in Afghanistan. Thank you for providing a calm, level-headed, sober voice of reason in the discussion.
posted by Etrigan at 4:42 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older Blowdry hairstyles! Sequins! Self-effacing humor...  |  NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal re... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments