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  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Americans today have been told to expect years of military action overseas. Yet they are also being told that they should not expect victory; that a “definitive end to the conflict” is not possible; and that success will mean a level of violence that “does not define our daily lives.” (p. 1) John David Lewis holds that this defeatist attitude is completely at odds with the lessons of history. In Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History, Lewis shows how nations in the past that faced far greater threats and more formidable foes than America does now went on to defeat their enemies and win lasting peace. Lewis examines six major wars, devoting one chapter each to the Greco-Persian wars, the Theban wars, the Second Punic War, the campaigns of the Roman emperor Aurelian, the American Civil War, and two chapters to World War II. He shows how the Greeks defeated the mighty Persian empire, how the Thebans shattered the mirage of Spartan invulnerability, how the Romans swiftly ended a long war by attacking the enemy's home front, how Aurelian battled enemies on many fronts to reunite Rome, how William Tecumseh Sherman marched through the American South and destroyed the Confederate will to fight, and how America achieved a permanent victory over Japan. While recounting the key events of each conflict, Lewis draws several important, universally applicable lessons. . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Japan, America, Persia
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Americans today have been told to expect years of military action overseas. Yet they are also being told that they should not expect victory; that a “definitive end to the conflict” is not possible; and that success will mean a level of violence that “does not define our daily lives.” John David Lewis holds that this defeatist attitude is completely at odds with the lessons of history. In Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History, Lewis shows how nations in the past that faced far greater threats and more formidable foes than America does now went on to defeat their enemies and win lasting peace. Lewis examines six major wars, devoting one chapter each to the Greco-Persian wars, the Theban wars, the Second Punic War, the campaigns of the Roman emperor Aurelian, the American Civil War, and two chapters to World War II. He shows how the Greeks defeated the mighty Persian empire, how the Thebans shattered the mirage of Spartan invulnerability, how the Romans swiftly ended a long war by attacking the enemy's home front, how Aurelian battled enemies on many fronts to reunite Rome, how William Tecumseh Sherman marched through the American South and destroyed the Confederate will to fight, and how America achieved a permanent victory over Japan. While recounting the key events of each conflict, Lewis draws several important, universally applicable lessons.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: America, Romania
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Alex Epstein, Yaron Brook
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Islam, War
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Elan Journo
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Author's note: The following is the introduction to Winning the Unwinnable War: America's Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism. The book is being published by Lexington Books and is scheduled for release this November. "I don't think you can win it. . . . I don't have any . . . definite end [for the war]"-President George W. Bush1 The warriors came in search of an elusive Taliban leader. Operating in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the team of Navy SEALs was on difficult terrain in an area rife with Islamist fighters. The four men set off after their quarry. But sometime around noon that day, the men were boxed into an impossible situation. Three Afghan men, along with about one hundred goats, happened upon the team's position. What should the SEALs do? Their mission potentially compromised, they interrogated the Afghan herders. But they got nothing. Nothing they could count on. "How could we know," recalls one of the SEALs, "if they were affiliated with a Taliban militia group or sworn by some tribal blood pact to inform the Taliban leaders of anything suspicious-looking they found in the mountains?" It was impossible to know for sure. This was war, and the "strictly correct military decision would still be to kill them without further discussion, because we could not know their intentions." Working behind enemy lines, the team was sent there "by our senior commanders. We have a right to do everything we can to save our own lives. The military decision is obvious. To turn them loose would be wrong." But the men of SEAL Team 10 knew one more thing. They knew that doing the right thing for their mission-and their own lives-could very well mean spending the rest of their days behind bars at Leavenworth. The men were subject to military rules of engagement that placed a mandate on all warriors to avoid civilian casualties at all costs. They were expected to bend over backward to protect Afghans, even if that meant forfeiting an opportunity to kill Islamist fighters and their commanders, and even if that meant imperiling their own lives. The SEALs were in a bind. Should they do what Washington and the military establishment deemed moral-release the herders and assume a higher risk of death-or protect themselves and carry out their mission-but suffer for it back home? The men-Lt. Michael Murphy; Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew Axelson; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz; and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell-took a vote. They let the herders go. Later that afternoon, a contingent of about 100-140 Taliban fighters swarmed upon the team. The four Americans were hugely outnumbered. The battle was fierce. Dietz fought on after taking five bullets, but succumbed to a sixth, in the head. Murphy and Axelson were killed not long after. When the air support that the SEALs had called for finally arrived, all sixteen members of the rescuing team were killed by the Islamists. Luttrell was the lone survivor, and only just.2 The scene of carnage on that mountainside in Afghanistan captures something essential about American policy. What made the deadly ambush all the more tragic is that in reaching their decision, those brave SEALs complied with the policies handed down to them from higher-ups in the military and endorsed by the nation's commander-in-chief. Their decision to place the moral injunction to selflessness ahead of their mission and their very lives encapsulates the defining theme of Washington's policy response to 9/11. Across all fronts U.S. soldiers are made to fight under the same, if not even more stringent, battlefield rules. Prior to the start of the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War, for instance, the military's legal advisors combed through the Pentagon's list of potential targets, and expansive "no-strike" lists were drawn up.3 Included on the no-strike lists were cultural sites, electrical plants, broadcast facilities-a host of legitimate strategic targets ruled untouchable, for fear of affronting or harming civilians. To tighten the ropes binding the hands of the military, some artillery batteries "were programmed with a list of sites that could not be fired on without a manual override," which would require an OK from the top brass.4 From top to bottom, the Bush administration consciously put the moral imperative of shielding civilians and bringing them elections above the goal of eliminating real threats to our security. . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The proper purpose of government, wrote Thomas Jefferson, is to "guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." The government "shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." In accordance with this view of the purpose of government, the founders established a republic in which the government was constitutionally limited to the protection of individual rights-the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. In this new republic, men were free to think, to produce, and to trade in accordance with their own best judgment; thus, they were free to thrive in accordance with their intelligence, their ability, their initiative. The result was astounding. Nineteenth-century America was a land of unparalleled innovation and prosperity-and further political achievement. In addition to countless inventions that sprang up-including the steamboat, the cotton gin, vulcanized rubber, the telephone, the incandescent light, the electric power plant, the skyscraper, and the safety elevator-and in addition to the vital industries that arose or were revolutionized-such as the railroad, oil, and steel industries-19th-century America witnessed the end of slavery, which was recognized as a violation of the basic principle of the land. Between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century, America came as close to being a fully rights-respecting society as any country has ever come. Men were essentially free to live their own lives, by their own judgment, for their own sake. Unfortunately, although the Land of Liberty was a great success, it would not and could not last. The founders established America on the principle of individual rights, but neither they nor the thinkers who followed them identified the deeper philosophic foundation on which this principle depends, namely, the morality of egoism-the idea that being moral consists in pursuing the values on which one's life and happiness depend. In the absence of this foundation, Americans have embraced philosophical ideas that are contrary to individual rights. Over the past century, Americans have increasingly accepted the morality of altruism-the notion that being moral consists in self-sacrificially serving others-and they have increasingly applied this morality to the realm of politics. Consequently, our government is no longer committed to "restrain men from injuring one another [and] leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement." Rather, our government regularly-and increasingly-"take[s] from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned" and redistributes that bread to those who have not earned it. Consider just a few of the countless altruistically motivated, wealth-redistributing laws and institutions that have been enacted or established over the past hundred years: The Federal Reserve violates the rights of Americans by (among other things) printing fiat money-thus debasing citizens' savings-in order to finance welfare programs, bail out failed banks, "rescue" bankrupt car companies, and the like. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) violates the rights of taxpayers by forcing them to insure the bank deposits of strangers. Social Security violates the rights of younger Americans by forcing them to fund the retirements of older Americans. The National Labor Relations Act (aka the Wagner Act) violates the rights of automakers (and other businessmen) by forcing them to "contract" with labor unions on terms that are detrimental to their businesses. Medicare and Medicaid violate the rights of taxpaying Americans by forcing them to fund the health care of the aged and the (allegedly) destitute. The Community Reinvestment Act violates the rights of bankers by forcing them to provide loans to people whom they regard as too risky for business. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) violates the rights of taxpayers by forcing them to purchase bad debt from failing financial institutions. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) violates the rights of Americans by expanding the extent to which they are forced to fund welfare programs, unemployment benefits, government-run education, and the health care of others. Of course, federal, state, and municipal governments violate Americans' rights in thousands of other ways as well, but the foregoing indicates the enormity of the problem. The explicit "justification" for all such rights-violating laws and institutions-the principle behind all of them-is altruism: the notion that we have a moral duty to serve others, whether "the poor" or "the public interest" or "society" or "the common good." As Theodore Roosevelt put it, the government must "regulate the use of wealth in the public interest" and "regulate the terms and conditions of labor, which is the chief element of wealth, directly in the interest of the common good"; or as Franklin D. Roosevelt put it, the government must seek "the greater good of the greater number of Americans"; or as John F. Kennedy put it, the individual must "weigh his rights and comforts against his obligations to the common good"; or as Bill Clinton put it, the individual must "give something back" on behalf of "the common good"; or as George W. Bush put it, we must "seek a common good beyond our comfort"; or as Barack Obama puts it, we must heed the "call to sacrifice" and uphold our "core ethical and moral obligation" to "look out for one another" and to "be unified in service to a greater good." A government animated by this principle will increasingly force citizens to serve the so-called "common good"-and with each political success, the government will get bolder and more aggressive in its enforcement of this principle. This is why the U.S. government has graduated over decades from the mere redistribution of wealth via taxation and inflation . . . to the establishment of wealth-redistributing institutions and hubs such as Social Security, Medicare, and TARP . . . to the outright nationalization of businesses, such as American International Group (AIG), General Motors (GM), and Citigroup . . . and to the nullification of private contracts that stand in its way (e.g., employment contracts in the case of AIG bonuses, investment contracts in the case of Chrysler's senior-secured creditors). Under such expanding government control, explains an article in the New York Times: Businesses and private property . . . become not an instrument of private "egoism" but "functions of the people." They remain private wherever and so long as they fulfill their "functions." Wherever and whenever they fall down, the State steps in and either forces them to fulfill the functions or takes them over entirely. That description of what we have witnessed recently, however, was not written recently; it was written in 1938. Nor was the author describing conditions in the United States; he was describing conditions in Germany under the then-burgeoning National Socialist Party.
  • Topic: Oil, War
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Doug Altner
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Over the past few years, Somali pirates have attacked numerous ships, hijacking more than forty in 2008, holding more than six hundred seafarers for ransom that same year,1 and extorting more than $150 million in ransom payments from December 2007 to November 2008.2 More troubling is that, as of September, reported pirate attacks for 2009 have already surpassed the total number reported in 2008-a strong indication that the problem of piracy is only worsening.3 Because of these attacks, shipping companies must choose between navigating dangerous waters and taking costly alternate routes in order to protect their crews and goods. In November 2008, Maersk, one of the world's largest container shipping companies, announced that, until there are more convoys to protect its ships from attacks, some of its fleet will avoid taking the most direct sea route to the East through the Suez Canal, which leads to pirate-infested waters.4 By taking the next best route from Europe to the East-around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope-shipping companies such as Maersk will add an average of 5.7 days and three thousand miles to each trip. The average annual cost of this route change to such a shipping company will range in millions of dollars for each of its ships that uses the alternate route,5 not to mention short- and long-term expenses from additional wear on its vessels. And, of course, given the integrated nature of the economy and the amount of goods shipped to and from the East, such route changes negatively affect all industries, directly or indirectly. Although the piracy threat has been well known to those in the shipping industry for a few years, it became manifest to most Americans in April 2009 when Somali pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama and captured twenty U.S. sailors. Although the sailors soon regained control of the ship,6 four pirates took Captain Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat. The three-day standoff that ensued ended when a team of navy SEAL snipers rescued the captain.7 Fortunately, neither the captain nor any sailors were seriously harmed during this attack-but it is disconcerting that a small gang of third-world pirates dared to attack an American ship and abduct its captain. Why were the pirates not afraid of a standoff with the most powerful navy on earth? To determine what is motivating these pirates and how the U.S. Navy should best combat their attacks, many policy analysts, historians, and defense experts are looking to the Barbary Wars-two wars the United States fought in the early 19th century to end North African piracy-for guidance. These experts are wise to look here, for the situation surrounding the Barbary pirates of the revolutionary era is similar in important respects to the situation surrounding the Somali pirates of today. Like the Somali pirates, the Barbary pirates attacked trade ships, stole goods, took prisoners, and demanded ransom from wealthy nations with strong militaries. And like the Somali pirates, the Barbary pirates got away with their thievery for some time. But unlike the Somali pirates, who continue their predations, after the Second Barbary War the Barbary pirates stopped assaulting U.S. ships-permanently. Toward establishing a policy that can bring about this same effect with regard to the Somali pirates, it is instructive to examine those aspects of late-18th- and early-19th-century U.S. foreign policy that were effective against Barbary piracy and those that were not. In particular, it is instructive to identify why the First Barbary War failed to end the pirate attacks but the second succeeded. Let us consider the key events surrounding these two wars. . . . To read the rest of this article, select one of the following options:Subscriber Login | Subscribe | Renew | Purchase a PDF of this article
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, South Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Elan Journo
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The measure of success in the Iraq war has undergone a curious progression. Early on, the Bush administration held up the vision of a peaceful, prosperous, pro-Western Iraq as its benchmark. But the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein were replaced by the horrors of a sadistic sectarian war and a fierce insurgency that consumed thousands of American lives. And the post-invasion Iraqi regime, it turns out, is led by Islamist parties allied with religious militias and intimately tied to the belligerent Iranian regime. The benchmark, if we can call it that, then shrank to the somewhat lesser vision of an Iraqi government that can stand up on its own, so that America can stand down. But that did not materialize, either. So we heard that if only the fractious Sunni and Shiite factions in the Iraqi government could have breathing space to reconcile their differences, and if only we could do more to blunt the force of the insurgency, that would be progress. To that end, in early 2007, the administration ordered a "surge" of tens of thousands more American forces to rein in the chaos in Iraq. Today, we hear John McCain and legions of conservatives braying that we are, in fact, winning (some go so far as to say we have already won). Why? Because the "surge" has reduced the number of attacks on U.S. troops to the levels seen a few years ago (when the insurgency was raging wildly) and the number of Iraqis slaughtering their fellow countrymen has taken a momentary dip. Victory, apparently, requires only clearing out insurgents (for a while) from their perches in some neighborhoods, even though Teheran's influence in the country grows and Islamists carve out Taliban-like fiefdoms in Iraq. The goals in Iraq "have visibly been getting smaller," observes John Agresto, a once keen but now disillusioned supporter of the campaign (p. 172). Iraq, he argues contra his fellow conservatives, has been a fiasco. "If we call it 'success,' it's only because we've lowered the benchmark to near zero" (p. 191). . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America
  • Author: John David Lewis
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: During World War II, the prime source of information for Americans about the war overseas was the dispatches of foreign correspondents-men who put their lives on the line in war zones to report the truth. George Weller was a giant among such men. Captured by the Nazis and traded for a German journalist, Weller watched the Belgian Congolese Army attack Italians in Ethiopia, saw the invasion of Crete, interviewed Charles de Gaulle in South Africa following an escape through Lisbon, and overcame malaria to report on the war in the Pacific. He was the first foreign correspondent trained as a paratrooper, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his report of an appendectomy on a submarine. He wrote the book Singapore is Silent in 1942 after seeing the city fall to the Japanese, and he advocated a global system of United States bases in his 1943 book Bases Overseas. After witnessing Japan's surrender on September 2, 1945, he broke General Douglas MacArthur's order against travel to Nagasaki by impersonating an American colonel and taking a train to the bombed-out city. In a period of six weeks, he sent typewritten dispatches totaling some fifty thousand words back to American newspapers through official channels of the military occupation. Under MacArthur's directives, they were censored and never made it into print. Weller died in 2002 thinking his dispatches had been lost. Months later his son, Anthony Weller, found a crate of moldy papers with the only surviving carbon copies. Anthony Weller edited the dispatches and included his own essay about his father, resulting in this priceless addition to our information about World War II in the Pacific, and the birth of the atomic age. The importance of the dispatches, however, extends far beyond the value of the information from Nagasaki. George Weller is a voice from a past generation, and the publication of his censored dispatches raises a series of deeply important issues and, in the process, reveals an immense cultural divide between his world and ours today. On September 8, 1945, two days after he arrived in Nagasaki, Weller wrote his third dispatch concerning Nagasaki itself. He described wounded Japanese in two of Nagasaki's undestroyed hospitals, and recorded the question posed by his official guide: Showing them to you, as the first American outsider to reach Nagasaki since the surrender, your propaganda-conscious official guide looks meaningfully in your face and wants to know: "What do you think?" What this question means is: Do you intend writing that America did something inhuman in loosing this weapon against Japan? That is what we want you to write (p. 37). What would many reporters today write if asked this question by bombed enemy civilians? . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Japan, America, Germany, Nagasaki
  • Author: Gus Van Horn
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In August 1919, three white men brutally beat John R. Shillady in broad daylight outside his hotel. Shillady, also white, had come to Austin, Texas, as executive secretary of the NAACP to persuade state officials not to suppress its local branch. One of his attackers, a county judge, claimed that "it was my duty to stop him" because Shillady was there to "sow discontent among the Negroes" (pp. 105-106). In 1920, Shillady would resign from the NAACP, expressing despair for his cause: "I am less confident than heretofore . . . of the probability of overcoming, within a reasonable period, the forces opposed to Negro equality" (p. 109). And yet, not even a century later, the United States has elected its first black president-in an election in which race was hardly an issue. How did racial equality in America progress so far in so short a time? This is the remarkable story that Adam Fairclough relates in Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000. Fairclough succeeds in making his introduction to the struggle for black equality accessible to the general reader in two ways. First, he concentrates on events in the South, wherein particularly harsh forms of racial domination made it the logical focus of black efforts to achieve equality. Second, he follows the lead of fellow historian John W. Cell and classifies the approaches taken by various figures in his narrative as either "militant confrontation" (defiantly opposing racial oppression), "separatism" (working toward the creation of an all-black society here or abroad), or "accommodation" (gradually securing improvements from within the system of white supremacy) (pp. xi-xii). It is from this perspective that the book's chapters examine prominent individuals, organizations, events, and periods of the civil rights movement. Fairclough begins his narrative at a time when blacks were "more powerless than at any other time since the death of slavery" and had been "purged from the voting rolls" of the former Confederacy (pp. 15-17). He proceeds to examine the many different ways in which blacks fought against discrimination and oppression: from the intransigent, confrontational approach of Ida B. Wells, who campaigned against lynching in the 1890s; to the accommodation of Booker T. Washington, whose emphasis on black self-improvement over confrontation is characterized by Fairclough as "a tactical retreat in order to prepare the way for a strategic advance" (p. 63); to the separatism of Marcus Garvey, who proposed that blacks fight for an independent, united Africa (p. 126). Fairclough continues this kind of analysis throughout subsequent chapters, where we learn, among other things, about the involvement of the labor movement and the Communist party in the civil rights movement during the 1930s, the evolution of the NAACP's strategy to include legal challenges to discrimination in education after World War II and then mass civil disobedience after 1955, and the rise and fall of the "Black Power" movement. . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, America