Re: Vetting the Language

1

I always found that the pervasive use of "warfighter" in military-industrial complex circles as being a little weird-sounding.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:55 AM
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"Warfighter" sounds an awful lot like something the grade Z equivalent of Gary Gygax would dream up for a character class where the dudes are fuckin' super built and carry, like, five swords at once.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:58 AM
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Can we all agree that talking about current military personnel as "warriors" sounds simply ridiculous?

I would make an exception for current military personnel with bad haircuts, leather waistcoats and a home base on Coney Island.
But, yes, "warriors" is silly. As is the US Army's official style guide, which says that "soldiers" has to be written with a capital S when referring to US soldiers.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:01 AM
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There's an issue here with professional terms of art that may sound odd to people outside the profession. "Warrior", admittedly, sounds like a guy in a bearskin squaring off against the snake-worshipping priests of the Nameless God, as he attempts to steal the sacred emerald that forms the one eye of the forbidden idol. Or something like that. So if I were intending to identify something and didn't want those connotations, I probably wouldn't have used the word "warrior". OTOH, people in the armed forces do seem to use the word as a term of art, although I'm not quite sure what it means other than a synonym for 'member of the armed forces', and it probably doesn't have that broadswords and bearskins connotation for them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:06 AM
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More specifically, what they deserve is world-class health and mental care,

Also, not to be deployed to bases in 63 countries overseas to maintain an empire that benefits a privileged few.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:12 AM
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It's a recent thing - the US army started referring to their soldiers as warriors in about 2003 or so. They produced the (frantically embarrassing) Warrior's Creed as part of the change. (Seriously, read it. I can't imagine getting through the whole thing out loud without laughing.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Soldier%27s_Creed


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:13 AM
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In the timeline linked in the OP, there are some great names of operations. Nothing will ever surpass Operation Just 'Cause, but Operations El Dorado Canyon (in Libya), Nimble Archer (Iranian oil platforms), and Nickel Grass (airlift to Israel during the 1973 war) all have their charms.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:14 AM
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re: 6

Man, that is fucking cringeworthy. I'd bet there's some British politician looking at that right now and drafting his own version.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:16 AM
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6: Wow, the comparison with the pre-2003 Soldier's Creed is depressing. The pre-2003 version isn't particularly embarrassing, but the later version, is, as you say, kind of wacky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:18 AM
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I can't even say the word "warrior" without, in fact, saying "waaawreeeeeeuhsssss." (I don't know any service folks who'd ever use the term, and are generally mortified by any pedestal-putting moves.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:18 AM
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That was some wacky anacolouthon there. Um, something like "and the folks I do know are generally mortified . . .".


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:19 AM
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8: Did you notice that they recite it, out loud, en masse? Regularly. On parade. And at the end, some of them shout "hooah!"

I cannot even begin to imagine a British Army version of that thing.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:20 AM
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Operation Just 'Cause
Hah!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:20 AM
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It's doubly strange that the US Army should have gone chips all in on the "warrior" self-image, because it's actually in denial of their own genuinely glorious history.

The question of whether there was any particular military advantage to be gained by quasi-mystical bullshit ought to have been settled by the Battle for the Pacific, when the flower of an imperial warrior culture ran up into the greatest middle-class army in the history of the world and came off second best. If the "Warrior's Creed" had anything to it at all, the Japanese would have fought harder and more heroically than the Americans and they didn't.

The entire military tradition of the USA from the Minutemen onward is that when they organise themselves as armed ordinary citizens with the intention of doing a job, they're undefeatable, and when they do this "warrior, honor, etc" thing they get gubbed.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:21 AM
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I suppose I should take the opportunity to honor the fallen gloat that both M/tch & I have the day off.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:21 AM
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My mom and I have an ongoing debate about whether or not soldiers who signed up for Iraq deserve our respect, or merely our empathy and support. I'm perfectly happy to say that I have a great deal of compassion and empathy and support for what they're undergoing, and I respect the fact that they may believe in their job, but I don't actually respect their job. Mom is much more charitable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:22 AM
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14: Mmm. You have to wonder what Willie and Joe would have thought of it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:22 AM
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Fortunately we'll probably be spared referring to ourselves as "warriors", as the British Army's warriors are nine feet tall, faster than Usain Bolt, covered in armour, weigh 25 tons and can tear buildings apart.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrior_tracked_armoured_vehicle


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:22 AM
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6 doesn't strike me as a big deal at all. It's standard Get Pumped Up/ Get Your Head In The Game/ Take This Seriously wordiness, no?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:24 AM
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19: Huh. That kind of stuff sounds dopey to me when it's sports, and even dopier when it's something you're supposed to take seriously. I mean, it's an esthetic reaction more than anything else, but anything where I had to take myself that seriously would make me cringe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:26 AM
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14 makes a very good point. An appropriate sort of creed would be

Let me speak proudly: tell the constable
We are but warriors for the working-day;
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch'd
With rainy marching in the painful field;
There's not a piece of feather in our host--
Good argument, I hope, we will not fly--
And time hath worn us into slovenry:
But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim;
And my poor soldiers tell me, yet ere night
They'll be in fresher robes, or they will pluck
The gay new coats o'er the French soldiers' heads
And turn them out of service.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:27 AM
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I spend an hour every Armistice Day with Wilfred Owen

Smile, Smile, Smile

User Rating:

7.8 /10
(4 votes)


Head to limp head, the sunk-eyed wounded scanned
Yesterday's Mail; the casualties (typed small)
And (large) Vast Booty from our Latest Haul.
Also, they read of Cheap Homes, not yet planned;
For, said the paper, "When this war is done
The men's first instinct will be making homes.
Meanwhile their foremost need is aerodromes,
It being certain war has just begun.
Peace would do wrong to our undying dead, --
The sons we offered might regret they died
If we got nothing lasting in their stead.
We must be solidly indemnified.
Though all be worthy Victory which all bought,
We rulers sitting in this ancient spot
Would wrong our very selves if we forgot
The greatest glory will be theirs who fought,
Who kept this nation in integrity."
Nation? -- The half-limbed readers did not chafe
But smiled at one another curiously
Like secret men who know their secret safe.
This is the thing they know and never speak,
That England one by one had fled to France
(Not many elsewhere now save under France).
Pictures of these broad smiles appear each week,
And people in whose voice real feeling rings
Say: How they smile! They're happy now, poor things.

23rd September 1918.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:27 AM
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My experience is somewhat dated, but while at The Basic School there were actual classes on The Profession of Arms, and we were specifically taught that we were soldiers, not warriors. Dsquared covered the ground nicely. A separate military caste is not a net benefit to society. ROTC at Harvard won't change anything overnight, but there are plenty of reminders that at one time the best and the brightest were the first to sign up.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:33 AM
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This also struck me, from "Strange Meeting"

"For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something has been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled."

We have nothing left to give but the spoils of war.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:40 AM
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ROTC at Harvard won't change anything overnight.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:40 AM
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If the "Warrior's Creed" had anything to it at all, the Japanese would have fought harder and more heroically than the Americans and they didn't.

Did the intensity of fighting spirit and individual bravery have anything to do with the outcome? I know absolutely nothing about the Pacific Theater, but everything I've read on the European one suggests that on a man for man basis the Wehrmacht was clearly more effective than anyone else. All that did though was allow them to fight longer while pushing up the total butcher's bill for the Soviets and themselves. In a long total war between two sides that are at more or less evenly matched in technology it all comes down to number of bodies and how much you can get out of your industrial economy if you focus all possible resources on it.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:56 AM
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A separate military caste is not a net benefit to society.

I'm still not quite sure why this should be the case. Lots of very successful societies had separate military castes, in the sense of having some classes or even some ethnic or regional groups among whom military service was common, and others among whom it was unthinkable. The "Every Man A Fighter" idea is more typical of the sort of societies that got beaten by societies with separate military castes. Machiavelli loved the idea of a republican militia, but when Florence tried it they got beaten badly by the professional mercenaries of the other states.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:56 AM
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I get confused with the recent decision by the American media to refer to the National Guard as "citizen soldiers". So what are the regulars, Hessian mercenaries?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:59 AM
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6, 19: It's standard Get Pumped Up/ Get Your Head In The Game/ Take This Seriously wordiness, no?

I don't think so. No one joining the US Armed Forces in this day and age can miss the allusions to the sort of he-man invading army images that have been prevalent in so many movies in the last decade or more: that language is tapping into an image and narrative that's been provided by Hollywood. It doesn't involve a lot of humility, thoughtfulness, or perspective.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:00 AM
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I think they're trying to draw a professionals/part-timers distinction without sounding like they're putting down the National Guard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:01 AM
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30 to 28


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:01 AM
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What they deserve is pity, but no one wants r that shit


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:02 AM
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professionals/part-timers distinction

Aren't at least some of those erstwhile "part-timers" actually getting tapped for months-long tours overseas, rather than the once-a-month gig they thought they were signing up for? Could be related to that change, too.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:04 AM
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31, 33. Yes I get that bit. But the effect is they actually sound like they're insulting the professionals. Not citizen soldiers, expendable trash.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:07 AM
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A separate military caste is not a net benefit to society.

Andrew Bacevich agrees, and has a lot to say about this, advocating integration of officer training schools with local universities and a variety of other things. I'd have to poke around to find just which of his books lays this out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:07 AM
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regional groups among whom military service was common, and others among whom it was unthinkable

We almost have that now. Most of the armed forces come from the south.

The other part of the everyone is a "Warrior" is that there is no front line of combat and no rear area that is relatively safe. So all the fobbits have to think of themselves are warriors also, not just the grunts.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:08 AM
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Oh, and I meant to highlight LB's this:

"Warrior", admittedly, sounds like a guy in a bearskin squaring off against the snake-worshipping priests of the Nameless God, as he attempts to steal the sacred emerald that forms the one eye of the forbidden idol.

As exactly what I was getting at. And it's hilariously written.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:17 AM
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Due to the acquisition of satellite radio in the car, I recently listened to the Diane Rehm show for the first time. She sounds like she is on her deathbed. It is literally painful to listen to.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:18 AM
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You can maintain both a military caste and an 'every man a fighter' in the same military. See Prussia for an example of that. In any case I see the US effort in WWII as descended from Revolutionary France, not the Founding Fathers militia ideals.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:20 AM
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38: She has spasmodic dysphonia -- and, apparently, for the past week or so, a cold.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:21 AM
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38: She suffers from spasmodic dysphonia. I've come to the conclusion that it works to her advantage, slowing down the pace of her guests trying to spin the conversation this way or that.

Er. Pwned. But value added?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:22 AM
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Yep, it's all those people who think Robert E. Lee was TOTALLYFUCKINGCAWESOME.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:32 AM
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Lots of very successful societies had separate military castes, in the sense of having some classes or even some ethnic or regional groups among whom military service was common, and others among whom it was unthinkable.

technological progress innit - lots of successful societies had separate castes for doing all sorts of things back in the days when the handling of various types of capital equipment was a specialised job requiring serious amounts of training. It's just that those days had passed quite a while before the USA became a globally relevant military power.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:34 AM
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She and Garrison Keillor have the two voices I cannot stand above all others. I feel bad for her, but... Eugh. Nails across the chalkboard of my mind, accompanied by dusty brakepads squealing and other bad sounds.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:34 AM
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The VA is mostly closed today so BR has the day off. She could have gone in at double pay today, but she decided to support the troops but to have a day off and not get double pay.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:34 AM
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The other part of the everyone is a "Warrior" is that there is no front line of combat and no rear area that is relatively safe.

as a description of how the US military goes about its business these days, this doesn't strike me as all that true. Do you think that one day the people controlling drones over the internet will also be Warriors?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:36 AM
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Yep, it's all those people who think Robert E. Lee was TOTALLYFUCKINGCAWESOME.

(REL = kinfolk to me as our Unfogged ancestor-fetishist prob knows)

People LOVE Robert E. Lee here. Yes, the guy who chose his state over his country. Very patriotic of him.



Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:37 AM
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Do you think that one day the people controlling drones over the internet will also be Warriors?

You guys don't have to get all formal with us front-page posters. Really. I insist.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:39 AM
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Do you think that one day the people controlling drones over the internet will also be Warriors?

Especially those guys. There is a big culture gap right now among drone "pilots", with the Army going for enlisted, but the Air Force insisting on officers.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:46 AM
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47: Remind me, will: do they count Pocahontas' clan among the FFVs?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:47 AM
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38 etc.: Diane Rehm is an acquired taste, because yeah, it's difficult to listen to her when she seems clearly to be struggling to speak. However! As Stanley says, she slows down the pace of dialogue, which is a very good thing for radio in general, and particularly when she's hosting discussion of potentially incendiary matters.

She takes people down from time to time (I'm recalling a show several months ago in which she told, um, Newt Gingrich maybe, that he was being unacceptably insulting of Democrats, and she would ask him to cease that, and when he did it again, she called him out, saying flatly that she had already once asked him not to use that language, and don't mess with her now).

She's really a very good interviewer. You just have to slow your pace down.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:47 AM
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the guy who chose his state over his country his warrior ethic over the lives of his men, and countless civilians in Virginia and elsewhere, fighting on when neither victory nor even mitigation of defeat was possible.

But, you know, he had clean gloves, while Grant had muddy boots at Appomattox.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:49 AM
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An Irish Airman Forsees His Death - W.B. Yeats

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:49 AM
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No one joining the US Armed Forces in this day and age can miss the allusions to the sort of he-man invading army images that have been prevalent in so many movies in the last decade or more: that language is tapping into an image and narrative that's been provided by Hollywood. It doesn't involve a lot of humility, thoughtfulness, or perspective.

Yeah, but why is this weird?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:50 AM
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47 I occasionally think some mostly black southern town should build a big monument to 'Americans who fought for what they believed', featuring Lee, John Walker Lindh, and some prominent ideologically motivated Soviet agent from the Stalinist/McCarthy era. Next to it a series of flags honoring the national traditions of certain US national groups: Stars and Bars, Swastika, Hammer and Sickle.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:51 AM
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Be the black southern town you want to see in the world, teraz.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:53 AM
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do they count Pocahontas' clan among the FFVs?

I answer my own question: Sort of! More so with the descendants; not so much with the forebears.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:55 AM
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fighting on when neither victory nor even mitigation of defeat was possible

Was this his decision? I mean, sure, he could have resigned his post, but aside from that--it's not really the place of a general to decide whether or not to continue "fighting on". The general's job is to continue fighting on as best he (or she) can, until told to stop.

I suppose he could have surrendered his army earlier than he did, but doing so prematurely would basically be treason.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:55 AM
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Yes, the guy who chose his state over his country.

This is fairly tendentious phrasing. he chose what he viewed as his country, Virginia, over an abstract union of states to which he felt less loyalty. If France and the EU went to war, would it be un-"patriotic" of a French general to fight for France, instead of Europe?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:00 PM
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56 Back in my second year of grad school the head of the university's Polish student org suggested we adopt the Polish fascist symbol as ours. He wasn't too happy when I sent a reply to everyone saying that we should also include our fraternal brothers by adding little swastikas, fasces, and an arrow cross.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:03 PM
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55, 56 - Memoirs of the Secretaries of State:

Present at the Creation - Acheson

Turmoil and Triumph - Shultz

Extraordinary, Ordinary People -Rice

It Takes a Mostly Black Southern Town - Clinton


Posted by: John Quincy Adams | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:12 PM
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Yes, at the time, people viewed their state with more prominence. However, my phrasing is still accurate. The United States was still his country, though people in that era did not have as much loyalty to that unified concept.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:14 PM
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The US in 1860 was quite a bit more of a nation than the EU is today. But what really matters is that given a divided identity, he chose the side that was fighting for slavery. If the EU had had a single army for several generations, and France decided to secede in the name of a horrific ideology, I would have absolutely zero sympathy for its top general.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:15 PM
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If France and the EU went to war, would it be un-"patriotic" of a French general to fight for France, instead of Europe?

Of course, Lee was a serving career officer in the U.S. Army at the start of the war. The United States was not an abstract concept to him - it was employing him.

Demi-pwned on preview



Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:20 PM
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Lee was also committed, as a matter of military tactics and strategy, to forcing his men to endure extremely high casualty rates, and he urged the Confederacy to keep fighting through 1864-65 when he, personally, could have easily ended the war and spared a large number of lives.

I think DSquared and others are reading way, way too much into the "Warriors Creed" which is just harmless (and "warriors" these days I think just means "soldier," not "warrior caste).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:23 PM
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given a divided identity, he chose the side that was fighting for slavery

This, in contrast, is a perfectly valid point.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:23 PM
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Lee was also committed, as a matter of military tactics and strategy, to forcing his men to endure extremely high casualty rates

You know, I'm not a military historian (even on an amateur level), and I'd had this same thought in the past ("how can you possibly hope to win a war when you start with a significant numerical disadvantage and conduct your engagements in a tactical and strategic style that chews through your soldiers like a buzzsaw? Wouldn't something more akin to guerilla-style tactics have been far better?"), but it seems like everyone I'd read or talked to who is a military historian thinks Lee did about everything he could have* to give the Confederacy the best chance to win the war (which was always an extraordinarily remote chance). Compare his results to those of other Confederate general (with the exception of Jackson?), and that certainly seems to have been the case.

* Not perfectly, of course, and he made some very significant mistakes.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:33 PM
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Man, just yesterday bob tried to turn the Catfood Commission discussion into a thing about the War of Northern Aggression and nobody bit. Here's your chance, bob! Come back from walking your dogs!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:36 PM
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urple, you may know this, but if not, it's probably worth considering that Lincoln and Scott offered Lee command of what would be the Army of the Potomac. And he chose, instead, to fight with the Confederacy. So yes, it's true that his loyalty to his state was the key issue in his mind. But it's also true that he chose to fight with his state rather than with his nation. He was, after all, an officer in the United States Army before the war, not just the Virginia militia.

It's also possible that I'm entirely missing your point.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:36 PM
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67: I think Robert's point was limited to the period very late in the war: when Confederate defeat was as close to inevitable as things get in history. And yet, for reasons that pass understanding, Lee chose in that period not merely to fight on, but to fight on in the bloodiest way imaginable.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:38 PM
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To be clearer, I see the period after the fall of Atlanta and Lincoln's reelection as the moment when the Confederacy's loss was all but assured. There were no more moments of contingency that could have swung the war the other way. Though, I suppose in fairness to Lee, it was possible that Britain was just about to sell the South predator drones. That would have done the trick, I expect.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:39 PM
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69: I did know this. I'm not sure how it addresses my point, though.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:39 PM
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when Confederate defeat was as close to inevitable as things get in history. And yet, for reasons that pass understanding, Lee chose in that period not merely to fight on, but to fight on in the bloodiest way imaginable.

I'm not seeing much difference between this and Japan's defense of Iwo Jima or Okinawa in WWII.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:42 PM
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If the Civil War happened today but with the same people, Lee would have retired from the US Army and started a private security and logistics firm to supply both sides with bottled water at a mark-up. Fact.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:43 PM
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65: I think DSquared and others are reading way, way too much into the "Warriors Creed" which is just harmless (and "warriors" these days I think just means "soldier," not "warrior caste).

No, I don't think so. Read the Wikipedia article linked at 6 again. Why that change in language from the pre-2003 to post-2003 Creed? I'll go out on a limb and suggest that we have more military personnel struggling with reintegration into civil society post-deployment now because of a difference in the way their roles were cast.

That's a bit of a limb; I haven't closely followed any comparisons there may be between Vietnam vets and Iraq/Afghanistan vets in incidence of PTSD (including suicides, which appear to be pretty high). It may be that the non-traditional warfare experienced in both situations just plain messes a person up, whether s/he conceived of herself as a warrior or a soldier.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:46 PM
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People LOVE Robert E. Lee here. Yes, the guy who chose his state over his country. Very patriotic of him.

I hate the idea of dying for a cause, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country. Such a choice may scandalize the modern reader, and he may stretch out his patriotic hand to the telephone at once and ring up the police. It would not have shocked Dante, though. Dante places Brutus and Cassius in the lowest circle of Hell because they had chosen to betray their friend Julius Caesar rather than their country Rome. Probably one won't be asked to make such an agonizing choice. Still there lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer, and there is even a terror and hardness in this creed of personal relationships, urbane and mild though it sounds. Love and loyalty to an individual can run counter to the claims of the state. When they do -- down with the state, say I, which means that the state will down me.


Posted by: E. M. Forster | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:50 PM
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72: Then, like I said, I don't understand your point. That "the nation" was more ephemeral than the "Virginia" for Lee? Sure, but so what? How does that undercut, rather than just adding nuance, to what will said above. And also, plenty of Southerners chose to fight for the Union. Lee did not. Which is to say, the nation was substantial enough that it swayed some people to the Northern side. But not Lee, who was, not to put too fine a point on it, a traitor.

73: And? Again, what does this have to do with the original point: what Robert said above?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:50 PM
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77 was me. And now I'm off to ride my bike. Don't secede while I'm gone.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:53 PM
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The Pentagon pays an average of $400 to put a gallon of fuel into a combat vehicle or aircraft in Afghanistan.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 12:55 PM
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It would not have shocked Dante, though. Dante places Brutus and Cassius in the lowest circle of Hell because they had chosen to betray their friend Julius Caesar rather than their country Rome.

Forster didn't know much about Dante, did he? Or is he being facetious?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:02 PM
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I will add that the most fervent Robert E. Lee fetishists are also the same ones who acted as if you were a traitor if you didnt blindly follow George Bush to war or if you dared criticise the Commander in Chief.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:02 PM
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criticise

Get him! He's a royalist!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:03 PM
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But not Lee, who was, not to put too fine a point on it, a traitor.

Would he not have been a traitor to Virginia otherwise?

I don't think its reasonable to cast aspersions on other people's choices of which geographic unit they give their foremost loyalest to. If I consider myself a citizen of the world before a I am citizen of the United States, does that make me just as bad as Lee?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:09 PM
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68:The comment in question

"I swear, living thru this age makes James Buchanan look better every day. At my most charitable, I might say that Obama believes he has to compromise with bat-shit crazy murderous thugs ( and/or cannibalistic bankers, CEO's, & creditors) to save the country. Buchanan was also wrong, in the same optimistic direction. Lincoln chose to kill."

The point is that sometimes circumstances limit choices to those that are destructive, even immoral. I wonder so many are offended at calling it a "War of Northern Aggression," as if Fort Sumter justified the death of possibly a million people. By Golly, the South started it?

Anyway, thinking about Owen & Olmsted & Riverbend today, always connected in my mind.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:22 PM
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Senior White House adviser David Axelrod said Thursday that President Obama has not caved to Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts, disputing the Huffington Post's account of an interview with him. Axelrod told HuffPost: "The administration is ready to accept an across-the-board continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers." But he later clarified that Obama is willing to discuss the best way forward, but believes the tax cuts should only be extended for the middle class. The administration, Axelrod said, does not "believe we can afford a permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthy."

This just came in to my e-mail. Everybody needs to take back all those horrible things they said about Obama. You'll need them in a few weeks or day when he officially does cave on this.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:36 PM
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does that make me just as bad as Lee?
Posted by: Spike

"Spike Lee" does have a ring to it.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:38 PM
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I should put up a post -- shouldn't everyone be calling their congresspeople telling them to Just Say No: no extension of the Bush tax cuts other than those for the lower end of the income spectrum? Democrats can't pass what they want, but they can keep anything they like from passing. The administration can cave all it likes, but unless Democrats in Congress actually vote for the stupid cuts, they don't pass.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:39 PM
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It's ridiculous to compare Lee's obligations to Virginia to those to the country of which he was a senior military officer, and had been a military officer his entire adult life. England had a stronger claim to Benedict Arnold's loyalty in 1780.

I'm not seeing much difference between this and Japan's defense of Iwo Jima or Okinawa in WWII.

Exactly right. Don't ask me to call them heroes. Except not exactly right: the men in foxholes on those islands didn't have near the authority within their society that Lee had in his. You can say that senior commanders just follow orders, and sometimes it's even true. A whole lot more often, though, they have a significant hand in crafting those orders.

Having brought him up, I'll clarify a bit. I don't approve of a single day of Lee's CSA career, but it's only after Lincoln's re-election the all justification for adhering to his supposedly superior warrior code vanishes, and you have to start talking about personal responsibility for the lives of thousands.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:42 PM
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Democrats ... can keep anything they like from passing.

Somehow, it really does seem like they have a knack for this, right?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:43 PM
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Except not exactly right: the men in foxholes on those islands didn't have near the authority within their society that Lee had in his.

I wasn't comparing Lee to the men in the foxholes, I was comparing him to whoever ordered those men to be there, fighting like hell. They weren't there on their own initiative.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:46 PM
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Just Say No: no extension of the Bush tax cuts other than those for the lower end of the income spectrum?

I think its better to say just say no, even for those at the lower end. No wiggle room, even for sympathetic constituencies. Given license to negotiate, Democrats will give up the farm.

Better to let them all expire this year, its the only way to kill the beast. Then, first thing in the new session, they can start talking about a payroll tax holiday.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:49 PM
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To my mind, the real problem with the new "Soldier's Creed" is the way that it eliminates this bit of the older version:

"No matter what the situation I am in, I will never do anything, for pleasure, profit, or personal safety, which will disgrace my uniform, my unit, or my country.
I will use every means I have, even beyond the line of duty, to restrain my Army comrades from actions disgraceful to themselves and to the uniform."

These seem rather important commitments.

Of course, I doubt the creed itself has all that much independent causal force, but there are certainly grounds to worry that this is a reflection of a larger shift in values.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:50 PM
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91: I'd actually be happier with letting them all expire, but I can't see Democrats in Congress turning down a bill with a clean, no-strings attached, extension of the lower-end tax cuts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:52 PM
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89: Exactly. Frame it in terms of failure, and they might do the right thing. Then again, they might outdo themselves, and fail to fail.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:54 PM
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it's only after Lincoln's re-election the all justification for adhering to his supposedly superior warrior code vanishes, and you have to start talking about personal responsibility for the lives of thousands.

But that's just not the way military leaders typically think. (Which is why I mentioned WWII. There are plenty of other examples (and very few counterexamples?).) And sure, maybe all losing generals are personally guilty for the losses of the lives of thousands. But what's clear in retrospect ("no more moments of contingency that could have swung the war the other way"), and maybe even clear to dispassionate observers at the time, is, I'm going to suggest, often somewhat less clear to central actors at the time. And occasionally, they manage to overcome what seemed like insurmountable odds and actually turn things around.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:54 PM
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but it's only after Lincoln's re-election the all justification for adhering to his supposedly superior warrior code vanishes, and you have to start talking about personal responsibility for the lives of thousands.

In fairness to Lee, he was doing a decent job of holding the line at Petersburg at the time; I think its reasonable from his perspective to have at least finished the battle, which indeed took many months to conclude.

After that, he basically tried to skedaddle to the blue ridge mountains to get some breathing room to figure out what to do next. Its hard to fault him for that, either.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:54 PM
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92: Well, right. The older 'creed' is a list of statements about the responsibilities the speaker has as a member of an organization they're proud of, while the newer one is more focused on how fucking awesome the speaker is. If it reflects any real change in thinking, it's a bad one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:55 PM
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And also 96.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:56 PM
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I can't see Democrats in Congress turning down a bill with a clean, no-strings attached, extension of the lower-end tax cuts.

I can't see that either, but I also can't see Republicans giving that to them.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:58 PM
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91 is such an obviously good idea that I assume there's no possibility of the Democrats running with it. Also.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:59 PM
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Wouldn't something more akin to guerilla-style tactics have been far better?"
You're in luck, they were used extensively!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 1:59 PM
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Hooray!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:00 PM
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90 -- Fine. How do you think Gen. Tojo enjoyed 1949?

87 -- Email sent to Baucus. Tester next. My House member is as lost a cause as restoring Lee's honor.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:02 PM
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"Warrior", admittedly, sounds like a guy in a bearskin squaring off against the snake-worshipping priests of the Nameless God, as he attempts to steal the sacred emerald that forms the one eye of the forbidden idol.

Apropos, given the death of Dino di Laurentiis:

"Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:05 PM
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I find it baffling, and more than a bit repellant, to talk abstractly of role obligations (as a general or solider; to a state or to a nation) without focusing on how these roles are likely to be played.

Having loyalty to a wicked state is not a virtue. We might be quite sympathetic to why someone growing up with privilege in a thoroughly wicked society would fail to properly acknowledge the evil of slavery, and would sign on to a set of values that would esteem such an odd sort of 'honor', but that doesn't mean it was right to have done so.

Not that being patriotic to 'the Union' was a particularly wonderful character trait, either, given how it would likely express itself vis-a-vis Mexicans, Native Americans, etc.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:06 PM
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Robert E Lee was a flawed person who lived in complicated times.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:10 PM
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Lee, despite his reputation in some circles, was always notoriously cavalier with the lives of his men. He also won battles through much of the war, so there's an interesting argument about whether that cavalierness was justified, but at all stages of the war Lee was far more willing than most generals on either side to incur large numbers of casualties from his own troops, and was one of the bloodier-minded generals of the war.

I think it is a significant error to distinguish Lee from the governmental officials ordering him around. Certainly after the fall of Atlanta, but to a considerable extent earlier as well, Lee in essence was the Confederacy (which is why Appomattox was the decisive end of the war) and a word from Lee suggesting, "hey, as a strategic matter, we can't win this thing," would have ended the conflict.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:11 PM
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106: And so am I! And everybody else I know! And every historical figure I've ever read about!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:13 PM
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German WWII generals fighting to the bitter end isn't a particularly good example, since Hitler would imprison, murder, or replace folks who didn't believe that immolation was preferable to surrender, and the Japanese had a similar mentality. But just as we can condemn Hitler for not, say, allowing Paulus to surrender much earlier, I think we can condemn Lee for fighting far too long at far too high a cost.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:15 PM
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108: Ahem.


Posted by: Jesus H. Christ (" 'H' is for Hella") | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:16 PM
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Lee was far more willing than most generals on either side to incur large numbers of casualties from his own troops, and was one of the bloodier-minded generals of the war.

Perhaps, but the one guy who was more willing was Grant.

Grant was a bit smarter about it, mind you, but it seems to me that being willing to incur a massive number of casualties was pretty much the only way anybody was going to win that war.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:17 PM
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110: I knew you would bring up your pal, the Big J.
Not going to argue about Him, but if I had a point it still stands.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:19 PM
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the one guy who was more willing was Grant.

This is a common perception but it is not actualy true.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:19 PM
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always notoriously cavalier with the lives of his men

As has already been acknowledged several times, although your phrasing is ghoulish. There's no question his tactics was costly (in terms of casualties). It's worth noting that his men were loyal to and supportive of him to an uncommon extent, so the he must have given them the impression that he was something other than cavalier with their lives.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:19 PM
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For a tentative peek at the thoughts of a recognizably modern, educated, European "warrior" mind, Ernst J√ľnger's Storm of Steel is pretty good, and commensurately shocking in passages.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:22 PM
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he must have given them the impression that he was something other than cavalier with their lives

Sure. He fooled them. That's not unusual.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:23 PM
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a word from Lee suggesting, "hey, as a strategic matter, we can't win this thing," would have ended the conflict.

I'm getting into an area where I'd need to refresh my history a bit, but didn't he more or less say exactly that at the start? I thought he was fairly pessimistic about the South's chances, which (i) is part of why he felt so many high-risk engagements were worthwhile, since without some sort of major breakthrough the Confederacy would surely eventually be defeated, and (ii) is part of why his decision was considered such an "honorable" one, since out of personal loyalty he was joining what he expected to be the losing team (and then he gave it his all nonetheless).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:24 PM
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This is a common perception but it is not actualy true.

I think it was Lincoln's perception of him. "He fights."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:25 PM
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is men were loyal to and supportive of him to an uncommon extent

Once again, the parallel to Japan suggests itself.

Robert E Lee was a flawed person who lived in complicated times.

I'm not saying that his corpse should be dug up, hung, drawn and quartered. I'm saying that worshiping this man is inconsistent with the values of a decent society.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:25 PM
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I'll be readier to buy the nobility of pursuing a lost cause when there's some sort of underlying moral imperative -- totally missing here -- and he's talking about his own life, not those of thousands of others.

That said, he may have thought the war very difficult to outright win militarily, but I think his strikes into Maryland and Pennsylvania show that he was playing for a political settlement. Once Lincoln was reelected, that was gone too. Or rather, his leverage wasn't increasing, and wasn't going to increase.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:29 PM
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I'm saying that worshiping this man is inconsistent with the values of a decent society.

Commity!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:32 PM
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some sort of underlying moral imperative -- totally missing here

Personal loyalty?

and he's talking about his own life, not those of thousands of others.

It was his own life. He was deciding which side of the war to support. You're faulting him for being a general, rather than a foot soldier? I'm confused.

That said, I can sign on to 121.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:37 PM
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He was deciding which army to lead. The one to which he had sworn an oath, and served a lifetime, or the one that was defending a slaveholding aristocracy. I don't find the fact that he was unlikely to be successful at the latter ennobling.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:43 PM
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Look, Lee's entire strategy was to pursue offensive battles in as grand a manner as possible, which is not the obviously correct strategy for a nation with a much smaller army and fewer resources fighting a defensive war. At the tactical level, Lee was generally more willing to throw his troops unnecessarily into harms' way than was Grant (who was certainly willing to fight, but who whose entire strategy didn't depend on pursuing offensive battles largely for the sake of drawing maximum bloodshed) .

It's not the comparison that proves everything, but for the entire war, Grant's soldiers incurred about 154,000 casualties (killed, wounded, missing, captured) while imposing about 191,000 casualties on their foes. In all their battles, Lee's troops incurred about 209,000 casualties while imposing about 240,000 casualties on their opponents.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:43 PM
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124 was me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:44 PM
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R.E. Lee is just one of the recipients of the halo bestowed upon those who fight for the Romantic Lost Cause. Bonnie Prince Charlie, Joan of Arc, Hannibal are previous examples.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:47 PM
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124: How do Lee's numbers look for the duration of Grant's participation in the war?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:49 PM
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124 -- Just to lob in a little friendly fire, I'm not sure that Lee's strategy of trying to diminish northern willingness to fight -- either with Antietam before the midterms, or Gettysburg in the run-up to the Presidential election, were necessarily the wrong strategy. These battles could have come out differently, and the political consequences just might have been significant enough that a deal was possible.

Perhaps he was trying for a Saratoga Brings in the French kind of victory. Not crazy in 1862, or even 1863.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:51 PM
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Bonnie Prince Charlie, Joan of Arc, Hannibal are previous examples

I'm pretty sure Joan of Arc doesn't fit here.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:55 PM
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From all accounts Lee and Jackson really really really liked war. As did Grant and Sheridan. If there are any "warriors" in U.S. history, they would fit the bill.

Sherman was more complex -- "never won a battle or lost a campaign." Laid waste to the South and then agreed to surrender terms that were too soft, at least for Stanton.

Grant is often thought of as a "butcher" but captured two Southern armies - at Donelson and Vicksburg- largely through maneuver. Lee is usually thought of as a brilliant tactician but accepted high casualties and mounted some terrible frontal assaults - e.g., Malvern Hill and Gettysburg. When Grant and Lee finally confronted each other in 1864-65, the results were huge casualties, complex maneuvers and a long siege. In short, hell on earth between Fredericksburg and Petersburg, Virginia. Plus a burnt-out Shenandoah Valley and guerilla warfare in central VA. Lee did his home state no favors when he chose it over the Union.

***
Anyhow, ms bill's mom (my mother-in-law) died earlier today at age 85. She was a westerner, from Pendleton, OR. She raised five children and was a warm presence, for me and for her neighbors. Please think good thoughts for her.
A Veteran's Day story - As a teenager in World War II she worked in the Seattle shipyards as a "Rosie the Riveter," which was appropriate because her first name was Rose. They had her work in the narrowest parts of the ships because she was small.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:55 PM
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127: Yeah, we need to calculate his Casualties Above Replacement General - Historical Era Adjusted.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:55 PM
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Sorry for your loss. Good thoughts thunk.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 2:57 PM
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124: I think looking at the whole war is misleading, because Grant was fighting smaller battles in the West for much of it. A better comparison would be the Wilderness Campaign of 1864, when Lee and Grant fought a series of massive battles against each other. In each one, Grant lost significantly more men then Lee, but, overall, Lee lost a higher percentage of his army. And I think that was explicitly Grants strategy - because he knew his soldiers could be replaced, and Lee's could not.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:01 PM
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My grandfather's grandfather was a casualty at Malvern Hill. Say what you will about Lee's strategy there, it finally stopped McClellan's advance and saved Richmond.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:01 PM
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Veteran's Day used to be Armistice Day because of The War To End All Wars. The US already had a day to commemorate the war dead, known as Memorial Day. From the Civil War. (Or War of Northern Aggression, for the RE Lee fans).


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:07 PM
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Condolences, bill.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:07 PM
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I'm don't think he was a deity, but I'm appalled by the comments suggesting he was a bad or immoral sort of person. His values weren't all modern ones, granted, but those sort of historical comparisons can be tricky.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:08 PM
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(Which he survived. After a year convalescing, he joined up again, just in time for Wildreness, getting shot again at Spottsylvania. 'Replaceable' takes on a different look when you think about the life of an ordinary sergeant.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:08 PM
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133 -- Well, but Grant's war of attrition would have been impossible without Lee's belief -- shown at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and elsewhere -- that he needed to inflict maximum bloodshed on the Union, regardless of the cost to his own men, in order to acheive a breakthrough. Grant would have been happy to outmanouevre Lee without fighting a war of attrition, just as (as Bill says) he did at Vicksburg and Donelson, and repeatedly tried and failed to do so in 1864. It's true that the result of those battles looked a lot like war of attrition, with some tactical victories but strategic defeats for Lee -- but that just goes to the broader point about Lee's willingness to be unusually casual with the lives of his men and unnecessarily willing to fight until the bitter end.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:10 PM
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And, condolences Bill.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:11 PM
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but I'm appalled by the comments suggesting he was a bad or immoral sort of person.

Appalled seems like an overstatement. There's at least a reasonable argument that for someone with two arguably socially acceptable courses of action (fighting for the Union, fighting for the Confederacy), going for the one that supports slavery makes you a bad or immoral person. I could see disagreeing with this (it was the nineteenth century, he was a man of his time, you can't blame him for accepting slavery) but being appalled by it is overstated, isn't it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:11 PM
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There's at least a reasonable argument that for someone with two arguably socially acceptable courses of action (fighting for the Union, fighting for the Confederacy), going for the one that supports slavery makes you a bad or immoral person.

This. Especially since there were many southern officers of the US Army who chose not to commit treason. See e.g. The Rock of Chickamauga and Winfield Scott (America's greatest general).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:14 PM
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And I think that was explicitly Grants strategy - because he knew his soldiers could be replaced, and Lee's could not.

Christ, war is bad.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:14 PM
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Leave Britney Robert E. Lee alone!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:15 PM
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||

So Un-PC ...therefore laugh out loud

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:16 PM
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141 only makes sense if you accept that slavery is bad or immoral.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:23 PM
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Not sure if 146 is a joke or not, but, even giving a huge helping of historical-contextual charity, there were plenty of folks in 1860 who could see as clear as day that slavery was bad and immoral, and R.E. Lee was not one of them, so I don't really see how contextualizing gets him off the hook.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:26 PM
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Or, more precisely, bad or immoral enough to outweigh competing values, like personal loyalty.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:27 PM
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Or War of Northern Aggression, for the RE Lee fans

I woulda hanged the guy.

It was a just war. Why are we so afraid of taking responsibility for it?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:29 PM
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there were plenty of folks in 1860 who could see as clear as day that slavery was bad and immoral, and R.E. Lee was not one of them, so I don't really see how contextualizing gets him off the hook.

Okay, but there are plenty of folks today who can see that eating animals is bad and immoral. Even if 150 years from now everyone has decided that's a horrible thing to do, I don't think that makes the people who don't see thigs that way today bad or immoral, and I think it would be a mistake for those people looking back to evaluate personalities through that lens.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:31 PM
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An appalling mistake.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:33 PM
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148: Which, in Lee's case, should have cut both ways -- he had loyalties to the Union (for an honorable man of his time, swearing to uphold and protect the Constitution should have meant something significant as well as to Virginia, and was a traitor either way he jumped. Which left him, essentially, picking the side he found more appealing. At which point I can happily hold him responsible for being a supporter of slavery. (Again, I'm not saying that you have to be persuaded by this argument, but do you honestly find it appalling?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:34 PM
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150: I'm not trying to overstate your position, just trying to get it clear: you don't think it's appropriate to morally condemn people of Lee's generation for supporting slavery at all?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:35 PM
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At which point I can happily hold him responsible for being a supporter of slavery. (Again, I'm not saying that you have to be persuaded by this argument, but do you honestly find it appalling?)

I guess it depends on what you mean by 'hold him responsible'. If you mean hold him responsible as someone whose actions were geared towards the perpetuation of slavery, which you consider to be a bad thing, then no, I wouldn't object to that. If you mean hold him responsible as a bad moral agent for believing there were higher values than the abolition of slavery, and for being loyal to those values, then yes, I think that's sort of appalling.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:39 PM
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150 gets it right.

I don't remember learning anything about the personalities involved in the Civil War. Were there any generals from the South who became leaders of the US Army instead of the Confederates?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:39 PM
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155: Yes, lots of them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:41 PM
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No, the question at the time, although not codified until the Post CV Amendments, was about secession. We should not have difficulty understanding this. There were a multitude of Southern residents who did not want to secede. The principal and problem was about depriving US citizens of their Constitutional Rights and Privileges. The secession itself, under a Unionist interpretation, was a just cause of war. (That interpretation, or the exact forms of federalism, is still not completely settled)

1) Regardless, it was still Lincoln and the North who would not negotiate and guaranteed hostilities. Just, but still aggression.

2) Since it was about union, not slavery, Lee is treasonous scum who should have been executed. It was Lee's precise reasons that he fought for the South that demanded his punishment.

3) The failure to draconically enforce the idea and consequences of Union caused us great damage for more than a century after the war, and continue to be problems to this day. Fuck the states. Fuck the South.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:42 PM
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153: I guess it depends on what you mean by 'morally condemn'. See 154.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:42 PM
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Or Gen. Sheridan for the idea that 'nits make lice' and therefore that killing Native children was perfectly acceptable? Hey, plenty of people agreed with him.

They may have been washed, but Lee's gloves at Appo were not clean.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:42 PM
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155 -- Yes, many. Notably, as I mentioned above, George H. Thomas (one of the greatest Union generals of the war) and Winifield Scott, who was not only a Virginian but was also R.E. Lee's personal mentor and the senior figure in the army.

It is preposterous to say that a Union Army officer of R.E. Lee's time wasn't exposed to plenty of influences sufficient to demonstrate that (a) slavery was immoral and (b) sticking with the Union was appropriate. To say otherwise is really no different than saying, for example, Sarah Palin isn't a moral agent whose decisions we can condemn because, you know, she's just part of a particular time and place.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:44 PM
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If you mean hold him responsible as a bad moral agent for believing there were higher values than the abolition of slavery, and for being loyal to those values, then yes, I think that's sort of appalling.

What's the higher moral value? You can't really appeal to loyalty as a higher moral, rather than emotional value, because he was disloyally betraying someone whichever side he picked. That's the point of calling him a traitor -- he didn't have any choice but to be a traitor (either to the Union and the Constitution he'd sworn to uphold, or to his home state) but you also don't get to award him the moral high ground for being loyal to something. He would have been loyal to something if he'd fought for the Union.

So he fought for the Confederacy because it was the side he thought was preferable. At which point, he picked upholding slavery.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:46 PM
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159: Not actually a quote from Sheridan. Not that his actions toward Native Americans weren't genocidal, but that line's not him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:47 PM
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In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.


Posted by: Lt. Gen R. E. Lee | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 3:51 PM
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The problem with your analysis is that it turns everyone into a bad moral agent. (Which, you know, original sin, the fall, etc., but I don't think that's your line of thinking.) Some supported slavery, while others could see clearly that it was evil. Many of those people were horrible racists, though, even though there were other people who could see that racism was wrong. Of course, a lot of those people had no problem with genocide of the natives. Then there were other people who were quite happy to free the slaves but thought that women should be property (for all practical purposes). And then there were probably a few people who got the right answer to every one of those questions, but still savagely beat their kids. Or their donkeys.

It's appalling to think that someone from a historical period was a bad moral agent because they weren't among the most enlightened members of society on each particular moral issue of their time.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:00 PM
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In light of 163, I'm willing to revisit the question of exhumation, hanging, drawing and quartering. Couldn't hurt.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:00 PM
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How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered

by the troops who beat your side, R.E. Lee, actually.

(Not that subjugation ended with Union victory, obviously, but still.)


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:00 PM
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It is truly remarkable how analagous every example chosen in 164 is to a war in which serving officers in the US Army were asked to consciously choose sides.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:03 PM
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Were there any generals from the South who became leaders of the US Army instead of the Confederates?

As noted above, it was clearly the better career move. Which, again, is part of why Lee's decision to go the other way is regarded by some as honorable.



Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:05 PM
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It's appalling to think that someone from a historical period was a bad moral agent because they weren't among the most enlightened members of society on each particular moral issue of their time.

But that's not what I'm doing. I'll cut people of prior eras all sorts of slack for going with the flow on gender issues -- as you say, if I didn't, I'd pretty much hate everyone equally.

But slavery wasn't a particularly difficult question: it involved imprisoning and torturing millions of people. And it was teed up as a moral issue under consideration at the time: while slaveholding in the revolutionary generation is still disgusting, I can think of it differently because it was a less salient moral issue at the end of the eighteenth than at the middle of the nineteenth century.

Lee was in a position where he had divided loyalties between two parties, each clearly taking opposite sides of a well-defined moral issue. And he chose the side of murder and torture. Making the other choice wouldn't have required him to be uncommonly enlightened, and I'm perfectly happy to condemn him for it as a bad moral actor.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:06 PM
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Lee's decision to go the other way is regarded by some as honorable.

And now I'm pretty sure we're into conscious trolling land, and I'm out of here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:06 PM
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But [urple] trolls (or, I'm not sure it's trolling, but whatever you call this sort of argument he gets into) so well. I keep on thinking it's all going to make sense soon.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:10 PM
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But slavery wasn't a particularly difficult question: it involved imprisoning and torturing millions of people.

If I'm reading 169 correctly, your entire analysis is based on a believe that, to a white southern male in 1860, it was/should have been significantly more obviously true that slavery was evil than that genocide was evil, that women should have any rights (including the right to be free from domestic abuse, etc.), etc.? Because, if that's correct, then I understand your argument better, although I don't really think you're right about the facts.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:12 PM
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170: Sure, if you interpret "some" as "me".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:14 PM
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Who is [urple]?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:14 PM
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173: Sure, interpret "some" as "me". It strikes me as a recognizably honorable decision, given a very different set of moral values than I have.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:16 PM
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172: If you replace "genocide" with "white American actions toward Native Americans" and you replace "that women should have any rights" with "the rights they had in the nineteenth century US were acceptable" then yes, it should have been more obvious that slavery was evil.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:18 PM
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I find that the blank check that is 175(b) -- which can be applied perfectly well to bin Laden etc -- convinces me that 170 is correct. Later, y'all.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:20 PM
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given a very different set of moral values than I have.

Seriously, describe the moral values that you think compelled Lee to fight for the Confederacy, including an explanation of how they permitted him to break his oath to uphold the Constitution?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:22 PM
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176: why?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:29 PM
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I asked first.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:30 PM
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Slavery is a subset of "secession" or "states rights" the same way torture is subsumed under habeas. Without habeas, anything becomes possible, and without some kind of incorporation everything becomes possible.

It is crucial to remember that no secessionist state was a internal monolith, either on slavery nor on secession.

And with several decades of discourse (Kansas, Missouri, etc) almost everyone who went to war knew why they went to war. This was a matter of "comtroversy" but Lincoln went postal so fast because it was mostly a phony controversy. Unlike slavery.

Garry Wills went over this in his book on the Gettysburg address. The point is whether a local majority can abrogate or alienate a person's US Constitutional Rights. In some ways the nation was redefined, but no one would have said that a state could deny all its residents the right to vote in national elections. They all understood that much.

It is majoritarianism vs minority rights, and the Civil War should have settled the question. It did not, partly because Lee survived it with an intact reputation.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:36 PM
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180: you mean 178? I've already said personal loyalty. I guess I should rephrase it as "loyalty to one's homeland" (which he would have called Virginia). "A willingness to sacrifice one's self-interest in the name of a greater cause" is another, and is at the root of the "honorable" characterization.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:36 PM
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Did my cement get eaten? GD BB.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:38 PM
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"A willingness to sacrifice one's self-interest in the name of a greater cause" is another, and is at the root of the "honorable" characterization.

That's a justification for fighting for any cause, but it can't possibly be a justification for choosing a side -- it's not a rule that distinguishes between sides. So leave that out.

I guess I should rephrase it as "loyalty to one's homeland" (which he would have called Virginia).

The fact that he elevated that loyalty over his freely sworn loyalty to the Union is one of the things I find (and many people of his time would have found) morally exceptionable. A moral code that values loyalty to one's homeland highly, and loyalty to one's oath not at all, wasn't particularly usual even by nineteenth century standards.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:45 PM
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I guess I should rephrase it as "loyalty to one's homeland" (which he would have called Virginia). "A willingness to sacrifice one's self-interest in the name of a greater cause" is another, and is at the root of the "honorable" characterization.

I KNOW we're not supposed to do this, but it really seems appropriate here. Exactly what of these criteria would not lead you to grant an equal dollop of charity to Heinrich Himmler? Anyhow, I shouldn't get sucked into this. And, to 179, the answer is that they were fighting a war over it, dumbass.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:47 PM
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179: The condition of women was such that most women at the time accepted it as not problematic. In retrospect, I think they were mistaken to do so, obviously, but when the oppressed class hasn't yet, mostly, figured out that they're oppressed, I'm willing to cut the oppressors slack for not having made the same determination. The same can't be said of the condition of slaves in the antebellum south.

For white American treatment of Native Americans; I think it was fairly easy for most white Americans not to think about it at all, because they weren't personally engaged in interacting with Native Americans, and when they thought about it to believe that white attacks on Native Americans were responsive to Native American aggression. This was culpably self-deluded, sure, but more understandably so than a belief that slavery was anything other than the imprisonment and torture of unwilling people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:51 PM
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185: That too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:51 PM
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And how are you still talking about women's suffrage and Native Americans when 167 so thoroughly demolishes that analogy?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 4:58 PM
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lots of people still today think tha Adolf Hitler was a racist but really, let's be sophisticated here, this would only be true if by "racist" you really mean "person with a maniacal and all consuming hatred of other races"


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:06 PM
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Which is, you have to admit, a moral code.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:08 PM
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Even aside from 167, and the bad analogy, I'd say that the average 19th century complicated flawed person was "of their time", but a historical figure like Lee can't avoid being judged relative to his historical legacy. "A willingness to sacrifice one's self-interest in the name of a greater cause" doesn't escape from the cause in question being morally reprehensible by our present understanding. Most people may have gone along with practices we'd say were unsavory by present standards, but if you're remembered historically for fighting to uphold them, you've really dedicated your life and legacy in service to them, and I'm not really going to feel so conflicted about judging that.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:21 PM
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I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.


Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:29 PM
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186 seems to me to be reading things with too much benefit of historical perspective. I'm not convinced it was so clear at the time. It was clear to some people, but not to others. Again, this is common. It was clear to some people in 1860 that women should have similar rights as men. It was clear to some people in 1860 that genocide was wrong. It it clear to some people today that keeping animals in inhumane conditions before killing and eating them is wrong.

Exactly what of these criteria would not lead you to grant an equal dollop of charity to Heinrich Himmler?

In what sense did he choose duty over self-interest?


Posted by: urlpe | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:47 PM
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As I recall, this exact same argument, more or less, with urple playing the same role, has come up before.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:51 PM
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In what sense did Lee? He decided to fight for the side that controlled all of his considerable property, some of it human. Going against his self interest would have meant walking away from his estate and his slaves.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:51 PM
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This time it'll be different, though, I bet.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:51 PM
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grant an equal dollop of charity to Heinrich Himmler

Not Himmler, but Rommel gets the same "great general fighting for an evil system" pass given to Lee.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:55 PM
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On a lighter note, I'm pretty sure that my oldest child is a stoner, and my youngest child is a future serial killer.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:56 PM
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Your kids are pretty dang adorable is what they are.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:59 PM
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197 - That analogy works perfectly if Robert E. Lee had ignored orders to kill captured blacks and eventually been executed for his role in a failed coup against Jeff Davis.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 5:59 PM
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195 seems like an uncharitable reading of his motivations. I think you're letting the slavery thing influence your judgments.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:00 PM
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Otherwise, the play was fine.


Posted by: Mary Todd Lincoln | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:03 PM
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Would Adolf Hitler have been considered particularly racist by the standards of Moses, Joshua and the Israelites? Let's discuss.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:04 PM
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201: All I'm saying there is that he was not in any obvious sense acting against his interests, unless you give him credit for being certain that the Confederacy would lose. At which point leading troops to their inevitable deaths to no end looks pretty bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:05 PM
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And your children are, indeed, adorable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:05 PM
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203: Even better: who was more racist, Hitler or Jesus?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:07 PM
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That picture is not adorable, folks. That picture is hilarious. Look at the anger!

Anyway, I've love to stay and chat more about General Lee, but my wife wants to fuck me, and I've decided to oblige.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:09 PM
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Stay golden, urple.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:10 PM
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Here's the photo of mine that cracks me up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:16 PM
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This has been some damn fine trolling by urple. I especially like this from 193: It it clear to some people today that keeping animals in inhumane conditions before killing and eating them is wrong.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:19 PM
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Just for the record, if we're going to get into a shooting war over meat consumption, I am willing to be the fucking Jefferson Davis of the Carnivore Confederacy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:24 PM
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Which cow or pig is prepared to be the Judah Benjamen?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:34 PM
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211

Sure, leave the Robert E. Lee of the Carnivores to someone else. Coward.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:35 PM
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Not Himmler, but Rommel gets the same "great general fighting for an evil system" pass given to Lee.

A lot of military historians are little better than fanboys of mass murder, but the Nazi regime did force Rommel to kill himself for his affiliation with the plot to assassinate Hitler.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:36 PM
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211: History will judge you a monster. Just so you know.

Violations of the analogy ban got way out of control in this thread, didn't they? And yet I understand 193; it's difficult not to. It's also not exactly uncommon territory. International development people deal with this all the time.

If Rob Helpy-Chalk were here he might say something about the issues involved in moral realism.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:37 PM
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200 He was executed for being asked to support the assassination of Hitler and refusing to do so, but also not reporting it. Plus for being close friends with some of the participants who had listed him as a top . If you look at his actual record, it's significantly better than that of the majority of senior Wehrmacht officers. However, I suspect that is in large part due to his not serving on the Eastern Front or in any counter-insurgency position. He was also a very ambitious careerist who happily sucked up to the senior Nazi officials for advancement.

But for the sake of trolling debate, I give you Julius Rosenberg. The man betrayed his country out of faith in an absolutely horrible political system and ideology. I'm not a big fan of the death penalty, and his trial wasn't exactly a model of fairness, but there is not much doubt at this point that he was guilty. Why the hell do many American leftists have a soft spot for him. Ethel I get, she was probably innocent. But Julius, fuck him. A hell of a lot more worthy left wing martyrs around, killed by those he betrayed his country for.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:43 PM
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Why the hell do many American leftists have a soft spot for him.

Crazification factor in all things.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:51 PM
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McCarthyism. In an era where people were getting unjustly and unreasonably prosecuted and harassed for being Communist spies, it got easy to overgeneralize about the presumed injustice of any prosecution in the same area.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 6:58 PM
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216 - But he supported the idea of a coup against Hitler, just not the assassination. (I believe he was in favor of having Hitler arrested and tried.) And I think it's a matter of historical record that he ignored direct orders to have Jewish POWs killed, although honestly at least half of what I know about him comes from The Desert Fox and other bad-ish war movies.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:00 PM
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219.1 is now making me imagine "Ernst Rommel: Procedural Liberal".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:02 PM
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That's "Ernst Rommel: The Desert Procedural Liberal".


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:11 PM
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Rommel was sympathetic to a coup, but only as a last ditch attempt to limit Germany's losses. As long as things were going well, he was fine with the Nazis. You want a conservative, albeit far lower level German resistance hero, I give you Berthold Beitz, the head of Krupp throughout most of the Bonner Republik. He spent the thirties as a very ambitious and talented ass kissing cynic who privately didn't care much for the Nazis. But in the early part of the war, posted as an administrative official in occupied Poland, he became horrified at what was going on. In the summer of 1941 he was appointed head of the Galician oil fields. In that role, he pulled every string he could to save Jews, ignoring orders to hand them over to the SS. Hundreds owe their lives to him. This much is well known. But not only did he intervene to save people's lives, he also established contacts with the Polish Resistance and passed on information to them. That he kept quiet after the war since even most anti-Nazi German conservatives would have seen that as straight out treason with no redeeming factors.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:30 PM
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I especially like this from 193: It it clear to some people today that keeping animals in inhumane conditions before killing and eating them is wrong.

Well, look, I'm not saying they're right, and I'm not saying they're wrong. I just picked it as an example. What I'm saying is that I'm sure there's something that's widespread today that people in 150 years will think is monstrous. And I'm sure that whatever it is, there are people today who are already condemning it.

What percentage of Southern white males in 1860 thought slavery was evil? We don't have polling records, but I'm betting it was pretty damn low--a fringe, at best. They were of course well aware that other people thought it was evil, but really, there was a cultural chasm between the slave and the free states in those days, and that's how non-southerners were regarded: as other people.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:36 PM
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Back already?!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:37 PM
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I was efficient.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:38 PM
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They were of course well aware that other people thought it was evil,

Other people, here, including their slaves. That is, those Southerners who owned or interacted with slaves, had first-hand knowledge of the fact that slaves objected to slavery. Now, for cultural reasons most of them didn't give a damn, but that's why I'm calling them bad people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:39 PM
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225 cracked me up completely. It would be so great if Mrs. Urple started commenting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:40 PM
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urple's adopting the neolib sexual model.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:42 PM
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urple's adopting the neolib sexual model.

I had no idea her parents had given up custody.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:43 PM
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So Urple faced a choice between post-coital cuddling and defending slavery (okay, technically, defending the armed defense of slavery). And here he is. Honorable?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:43 PM
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I don't think they generally gave the opinions of the slaves much weight, LB.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:44 PM
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230: Almost certainly placing duty above self-interest, anyway.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:45 PM
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Honorable isn't the question for a neolibsexual, it's what maximizes personal satisfaction.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:46 PM
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228: I've discovered a way to cut labor by 50%.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:46 PM
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231: but that's why I'm calling them bad people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:46 PM
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Anyway, I think you're being too morally demanding, but I think this has been beaten to death at this point. I think by 172 our respective views were completely clear (although the conversation up through then was helpful, because it took me that long to understand where you were coming from), and our views are unlikely to change at this point, and I've conceded that while I think you're wrong I no longer consider you appalling.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:51 PM
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I no longer consider you appalling.

Good to know. I continue to consider you both flummoxing and befuddling, but not in a bad way, mostly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 7:53 PM
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Where do things stand? Have we executed urple yet? If not, this place is slipping.


Posted by: marse ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:06 PM
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while I think you're wrong I no longer consider you appalling.

I love this. I will endeavor to incorporate it in every argument I have.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:06 PM
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238: I've stated my position: I'm flummoxed, and I expect that I will remain so indefinitely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:07 PM
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Flummox flummox flummox flummox flummox flummox flummox.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:09 PM
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Buffalo.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:09 PM
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240: I'm catching up, and I can't say I blame you.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:10 PM
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Okay, I'm up to speed, and I've decided to switch to urple's side. At least there's sex over there.


Posted by: marse ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:11 PM
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FLUMMOX


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:12 PM
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The flumm ox is an especially puzzling kind of ox.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:12 PM
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At least there's sex over there.

But no (or sadly abbreviated) post-coital cuddling.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:12 PM
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But no (or sadly abbreviated) post-coital cuddling.

Let's not leap to conclusions. We don't know how long the coitus took.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:15 PM
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You can't comment while cuddling?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:16 PM
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We don't know how long the coitus took.

You're saying he's not yet to the post-coital cuddling?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:17 PM
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ITALICS I continue to consider you both flummoxing and befuddling /ITALICS

Well, in that case maybe I was wrong about us both making our respective views completely clear. If you let me know what you're flummoxed about, I could try to explain further. Although I can't promise I'll be more clear than I have been so far.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:21 PM
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232 gets it right.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:25 PM
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226

Other people, here, including their slaves. That is, those Southerners who owned or interacted with slaves, had first-hand knowledge of the fact that slaves objected to slavery. Now, for cultural reasons most of them didn't give a damn, but that's why I'm calling them bad people.

How true is this? I thought slaves were expected to accept their lot and discouraged from speaking their mind. And how many slaves objected to the institution of slavery rather than just their position within it? There are plenty of examples of freed slaves who went on to acquire slaves themselves.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:26 PM
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And how many slaves objected to the institution of slavery rather than just their position within it?

This is an interesting point. There are plenty of people living in poverty who don't object to a system which creates impoverished conditions, but just want to be out of poverty themselves.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:29 PM
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No, it's not really an interesting point, I don't think. Not objecting to a (semi) free market system that impoverishes some people is quite different than not objecting to a race-based system of hereditary slavery. And insofar as former slaves went on record about the issue, James, they tended to be abolitionists.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:33 PM
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14

... If the "Warrior's Creed" had anything to it at all, the Japanese would have fought harder and more heroically than the Americans and they didn't.

I was under the impression that the Japanese did fight harder but also dumber (as warriors often do). And most importantly they were backed by an inferior industrial base.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:35 PM
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Slaves that were still held in bondage, for their part, apparently didn't often speak up about their views on the subject. It seems possible that they remained silent because they didn't want to be beaten, sold away from their loved ones, or raped. Or maybe they were just too busy singing and dancing in the fields to get around to calling for reform.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:36 PM
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There are plenty of examples of freed slaves who went on to acquire slaves themselves.

Just like George Soros confiscated Jewish property during the war.
</Glenn Beck>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:36 PM
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Did the planters have any success in inculcating the notion of racial hierarchy as a divinely prescribed order?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:36 PM
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Historically, have people in the lowest castes felt that the entire system was unjust, or could that be outside of the purview of discourse, and they just wished they were in a better position?

Also, I can find whatever I want interesting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:38 PM
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How true is this?

The fact that a federal law was necessary to compel Northerners to return fleeing slaves indicates that there was a general tendency, of which slaveowners were aware, of slaves to object to their condition. And the fact that a small number of free blacks owned slaves doesn't have anything to say to the question of whether slaves objected to slavery.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:38 PM
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I think its perfectly appropriate that neither Glenn Beck nor George Soros feel any guilt over their roles in assisting the Nazis during the Holocaust. (Note that this remarkably disgusting bit of right wing propaganda has also been propagated by both Commentary and Marty Peretz in the past)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:40 PM
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Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I'm being repressed!


Posted by: Dennis the Peasant | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:40 PM
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263 to 260.


Posted by: Dennis the Peasant | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:41 PM
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260: I don't think there's a better answer than some did, some didn't, more in some times and places than others.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:42 PM
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Sure. I just don't find it that crazy that if you were a slave and lived in a pocket with limited access to anyone who didn't take slavery for granted, you might object to your position within slavery but not the institution itself.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:45 PM
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Like, "Wouldn't it be great if the rolls were switched?" without questioning the idea that a plantation couldn't survive without slave labor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:47 PM
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261: Drapetomania is such a perplexing condition.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:48 PM
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266: In context, I kind of hate considering that an interesting point, because it really doesn't illuminate the question of whether knowledge that slaves, generally, objected to being enslaved, could be justly imputed to white slaveowners. To the extent that we're agreed on that, and have moved on to the question of what exactly the state of mind might be of a slave who took the system of slavery for granted might be, it's hard to know.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:48 PM
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I haven't really been following the thread. Clearly slave owners knew that slaves didn't like being enslaved. That's not exactly what the argument was about, was it?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:52 PM
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261

The fact that a federal law was necessary to compel Northerners to return fleeing slaves indicates that there was a general tendency, of which slaveowners were aware, of slaves to object to their condition. ...

Every society has police. I think many slaves were more or less content with their lot and the rest mostly found it expedient to pretend to be. Given that and the human tendency to avoid acknowledging unpleasant facts I think many Southerners could maintain an illusion that their system was mostly benign.

... And the fact that a small number of free blacks owned slaves doesn't have anything to say to the question of whether slaves objected to slavery.

I think if freed slaves often acquired slaves themselves it does say something about the general attitude about slavery as an institution.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:52 PM
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I think many slaves were more or less content with their lot and the rest mostly found it expedient to pretend to be.

You're basing this on...?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:53 PM
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Re; the OP:

People in the US Army referred to soldiers as warriors long before 2003--I remember sometimes hearing and using the term and I retired in 1994. Many here have read more into the term than is there. Does it surprise that an organization whose fundamental mission is to fight wars would call themselves warriors?

I'm staying out of the Lee debate, except to say that both Urple and LizardBreath are right. You can debate that. I'm going to sleep.

Completely off topic, tonight, it took us an hour and a half to drive in a taxi the ten miles from our client's offices to our hotel. Ah the glories of business travel.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:54 PM
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I think many slaves were more or less content with their lot...

This is where I stop reading.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:54 PM
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To 1: "Warfighter" is the term I learned from a friend who works for the DoD. I had never heard that before and I find it disturbing.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:57 PM
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269

In context, I kind of hate considering that an interesting point, because it really doesn't illuminate the question of whether knowledge that slaves, generally, objected to being enslaved, could be justly imputed to white slaveowners. ...

Prisoners generally object to being in prison but that by itself doesn't make prisons evil.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 8:58 PM
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I'm a warlover, laydeez.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:00 PM
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272

You're basing this on...?

Human nature. People tend to set their expectations by experience so if you have been a slave all your life you are apt to accept that as a baseline. Like (as was mentioned above) most women accepted their position at that time.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:05 PM
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Also, I can find whatever I want interesting.

I don't recall saying that you couldn't, heebie. I said that I disagreed and explained why.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:13 PM
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Really, I wasn't trying to be prescriptive. I just thought encouraging James was a mistake. Sorry if I offended you.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:18 PM
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258

For an example (albeit in Jamaica) of freed slaves acquiring slaves themselves see this :

I told Malcolm that we didn't know. Margaret Mullings is as far back along that line of his family as we could go. Her mother, most likely, was not a slave. But beyond that, it is unclear. Obviously, Malcolm descends from slaves at some point in his family tree: every black person in the New World, except for recent immigrants from Africa, did. But his ancestors did not stay slaves for very long. And as soon as they were free and could afford to do so, it appears that they began to buy slaves themselves.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:29 PM
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Worth noting that most of the interaction that aristocrats like Robert E Lee would have had with slaves would have been with house slaves, who were at the top of the slave pecking order, who may well have felt some satisfaction in that position.

The lower status slaves off in the field would have been more embittered, but also would have had little interaction with the master of the house, and hence, less opportunity to convey their dissatisfaction.

So the aristocrats would get the impression that slavery isn't so bad, but would have gained that impression largely though interactions with those slaves who were the most comfortable within that system.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:32 PM
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255

... And insofar as former slaves went on record about the issue, James, they tended to be abolitionists.

Since these memoirs were generally sponsored by abolitionists this is not too surprising.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:33 PM
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You know who really didn't care about slavery, and thought it was just fine? How about the hundreds of thousands of people who were fighting a fucking war over it in the 1860s. I mean, as the quote from RE Lee upthread shows, even many (most?) slaveowners thought it was a fundamentally evil institution, that would wither away over time (which is basically what everyone in the founding generation, like Thomas Jefferson, thought, although "eventually" was usually placed somewhere in the future). It's true that a good number of slaveholders had, by the 1850s and 1860s, convinced themselves that the institution was a positive good, not just a necessary evil, but they were in a minority. "Slavery is wrong" was a pretty damn mainstream view, even if there was debate over what to do about it. I mean, it would be nice I our historicizing moral relativists would learn some goddamn history instead of reasoning from first principles.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:35 PM
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And Southern slaveowners were constantly panicked about slave revolts, which suggests it's own kind of consciousness.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:37 PM
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Its. Note that the Confederacy had an exemption for conscription for plantation owners, in large part because of fear of slave revolts. But I guess they were just totally oblivious to reality and thought their field darkies were perfectly content. Oh, and Haiti doesn't exist.

Ari can speak to it better than I can, but I believe that what evidence we have of slave mentality suggests strongly that they were conscious of the evil of the institution, even as people tried pragmatically to make the best of what they could. As you might be, too, if your kids were getting sold out from under you and your wife being systematically raped on an ongoing basis. I mean, just to be clear on what Shearer and the Shearer-enablers are defending.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:53 PM
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Don't really want to push on this, since your previous comment is something I fully agree with and I doubt this really applies in this case, but fear of revolts does not necessarily indicate any sense that the system is wrong in a fundamental way. The aristocracies of Europe tended to genuinely believe in the principle of a hierarchical society with themselves at the top and, depending on the place and time, possibly an absolute monarch ruling by divine right. Even peasants, didn't truly reject it. The jacqueries could either be pure lashing out, millennial, a bad officials/good king type belief, false pretenders, or sectarian. Off the top of my head, the closest thing to a revolt based on a non-millenial belief in the injustice of the basic social order would be the Cossacks, but even there you had sectarian issues and a local lower aristocracy leading the peasantry against an outside upper aristocracy.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 9:53 PM
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Yes, I agree with 287, and you're definitely right to say that there is no absolute rule that fear of revolts does means a consciousness that the system as a whole is evil. But I think the case of southern US slaveholding in the 19th Century is quite different, in that there was both an overall consciousness, including among many slaveholders, that the institution was wrong -- a sense of wrongness that derived from both Protestant Christian and American/democratic principles -- and that the slaves could be up in arms at any minute, as evidenced by panicked, and mostly false, reports following the election of 1860. Again, while there were surely propagandists who had convinced themselves otherwise, it's striking -- and a noteworthy comparison to, say European aristocracies -- how even pro-slavery Americans reconciled a defense of their role as slaveholders with an overall belief in the wrongness of the institution.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:01 PM
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286 gets it right. There's no way that Lee didn't know that slaveholding involved widespread rape and torture, so it's hard to credit him with having a moral code when he writes that "The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:09 PM
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286

... your wife being systematically raped on an ongoing basis. ...

How common was this? Is it likely for example that Robert E. Lee systematically raped the wives of his slaves?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:43 PM
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It was as common as slaveholders wanted it to be, James. Slaves were property. Given that, do you have any insights into how the law might have defined consent between chattel and owner?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:45 PM
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Also, I'm nearly certain that slaves weren't allowed to marry in mid-nineteenth-century Virginia. I don't have my books with me, so I can't say for certain, but I'm nearly positive about that. Which is to say, I'm not sure what you mean by the wives of Robert E. Lee's slaves. Not to mention, those women were his slaves, too. If he wanted to have sex with them, he could.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:48 PM
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I thought that there was a fair amount of informal, if not legally-sanctioned, marriages amongst slaves. But IANAH.

Anyhow, again, IANAH, but the Annette Gordon-Reed book on Sally Hemmings is really good on the sexual world of slavery. Basically, if you want to know what R.E. Lee meant when he said that slavery was hurting white people, he meant, at least in part, that owners were constantly fucking their property. I think, without really knowing, there's good evidence that Lee's own personal morality was strict (fat lot of good that did his dead soldiers) but he certainly was aware of a world in which many of his friends were raping their slaves on an ongoing basis.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 10:57 PM
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Yes, that's right: slaves got married, just not in the eyes of the law. But James is usually a stickler for legal niceties, so I thought he'd want me to be clear. And yes, too, I don't think there's any evidence that Lee had sex with his slaves.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:01 PM
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291

It was as common as slaveholders wanted it to be, James. Slaves were property. Given that, do you have any insights into how the law might have defined consent between chattel and owner?

Horses were property too but that doesn't mean that it was legal to have sex with them. I don't actually know what the law was. Do you?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:26 PM
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I bet the Encyclopedia of Rape does.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:31 PM
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Horses were property too but that doesn't mean that it was legal to have sex with them.

Oh, bugger off.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-10 11:41 PM
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Do you?

Actually, it depended from state to state and from year to year. So, if you really want to know, you should totes sit in on my lecture next Tuesday. See you there!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 12:25 AM
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291-295, if analogies weren't banned, they could be better made to farm animals.


Posted by: OPINIONATED BUT NERVOUS SHEEP | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 12:25 AM
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Fucking historians. They're worse than carny barkers, or the guys who stand outside strip clubs in Tijuana trying to get you to come in.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 12:37 AM
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Off the top of my head, the closest thing to a revolt based on a non-millenial belief in the injustice of the basic social order would be the Cossacks

I resemble that remark.


Posted by: John Lilburne | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 12:50 AM
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An illuminating essay on the moral code of General Lee.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 1:42 AM
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But I think the case of southern US slaveholding in the 19th Century is quite different, in that there was both an overall consciousness, including among many slaveholders, that the institution was wrong -- a sense of wrongness that derived from both Protestant Christian and American/democratic principles

and which also presumably derived from the fact that by 1860, America was one of the last places in the world in which slavery hadn't been banned - I mean, I admit that people like Robert E Lee were Americans but they weren't totally illiterate and couldn't possibly have been completely unaware of the world around them; that's a much more modern phenomenon.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 1:44 AM
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Thinking about it, slavery wasn't even legal in the whole of America by 1860, some states had banned it if Wikipedia is taken to be a reliable source. Wasn't there some kind of war about this or something?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 1:46 AM
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America was one of the last places in the world Europe and the European empires and ex-empires in which slavery hadn't been banned

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: The Emir of Bokhara | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 1:48 AM
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in 1860, if you're not in America, Europe, a European empire or a European ex-empire then you're either Chinese, Japanese or a penguin.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 2:25 AM
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If you read Pat Lang's blog (and others: Andrew Exum has on occasion had at this, and Phil Carter was furious about it in real-time as it happened), all the stuff about "warriors" and "warfighters" was pretty much Donald Rumsfeld's invention with the help of (IIRC) Generals Schoonmaker & Casey.

"Warfighter" was IMHO particularly pernicious because it was deliberately invented as the opposite of "peacekeeper". This was the era when the VSP were talking about "America cooks and the Europeans wash up". Of course, if you don't wash up, eventually you get typhoid, and the actual implementation was more like "America comes home from the pub piss drunk, tries to cook chips, sets fire to the kitchen, and collapses in a pile of his own shit in the corridor while complaining that the Europeans aren't cleaning up quick enough".

There is something superbly stupid about a defence establishment that both finds the word "peacekeeper" ideologically anathema and also names a nuclear ballistic missile after it.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 2:26 AM
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Also, Phil Carter. What's he up to these days? I hope he's writing a book entitled The Ultimate Obama Experience.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 2:31 AM
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306. Um no. For a start you might well be in the Ottoman Empire. Also Russia didn't complete the annexation of central Asia for about another 20 years (Bokhara a Russian protectorate, 1873) and there was plenty of slaving going on there.

Plus most of sub-Saharan Africa wasn't in fact annexed by the Frech and British until the last quarter of the 19th century, and Arab slavers were doing good business in the Indian Ocean trade until that point.

And... slavery was abolished in Thailand (independent of both China and Japan) by a gradual process between 1870-something and 1911. And that's all I can do without a bit of research.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 2:46 AM
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I don't know enough about slavery within Africa to comment (does anybody know a spell to conjure up Timothy Burke?), but I'm damn sure there was still a lot of it in 1860.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 2:49 AM
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There is something superbly stupid about a defence establishment that both finds the word "peacekeeper" ideologically anathema and also names a nuclear ballistic missile after it.

the idelogical anathema yes, but "Peacekeeper" is rather sophisticated in that it does basically acknowledge that the purpose of the MX was to sit around in its silo providing the sharp end of a game theory seminar. It is, at least, a recognition that the best case outcome for military capital equipment is that it rusts away unused.

Ah, for the days of the Cold War, when the war really was too important to be left to generals (rather than being trivial enough to be left to the likes of Donald Rumsfeld).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 2:50 AM
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The B-36 was called the Peacemaker, and remains, I think, pretty much the only recent US combat aircraft never to have fired a shot or dropped a bomb in anger. It was also ridiculously huge - bigger than anything in service today.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 3:44 AM
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Plus most of sub-Saharan Africa wasn't in fact annexed by the Frech and British until the last quarter of the 19th century, and Arab slavers were doing good business in the Indian Ocean trade until that point

Actually, until well after that point. The Indian Ocean slave trade was running well into the 20th century. If you're ever in Muscat, have a look at the rock by the harbour entrance with all the ship names on it; a lot of the ones that start "HMS" were there on the anti-slaver patrol, the East African equivalent of what used to be called the Blackbird Station.
Slavery was only abolished in some of the Gulf states in the 1960s. It's still legal in a few places (Niger, I think).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 3:48 AM
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313. Yes, I believed that to be the case, but I didn't have any authority to hand so I was being conservative. I seem to remember reading that Niger had formally delegitimised slavery in the last few years, but I may be confusing it with somewhere else (Mali?)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 3:51 AM
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re: 313

I thought last time I looked that it wasn't technically legal anywhere?* But still widely practiced, despite the fig-leaf legal changes, in Niger, Mauritania, and a load of other places.

* checking wiki this does seem to be right, but it was only criminalized in Niger very recently.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 3:56 AM
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They used to have B36s at Upper Heyford and they would fly over my grandparents' house in Banbury at about 300 feet (at least it felt like that). They were insanely big. They also had a huge range for that date - there was a story of one taking off from somewhere in the eastern USA and flying to Germany, only to find its destination was fogbound, so it turned round and went back home.

They could carry a fighter slung under the fuselage to extend their range even further for reconnaissance (spying), which was what they were actually used for.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 3:56 AM
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Though I'm not sure they were actually bigger than C5s - longer and wider, probably, but not necessarily heavier. My BiL played frisbee in the belly of a C5 once when he was in the services.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 3:59 AM
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There's a (probably apocryphal) story about a fighter coming back to a B-36 base, and being told to orbit for a while, because there was a slight emergency - a B-36 on finals had lost an engine.
"Of course," says the (single-engine) fighter pilot, ever gracious. "Can't be easy handling the dreaded nine-engine landing."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 4:09 AM
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318. Love it. Though of course they generally only used the six props in cruising mode. The four jets were mainly to get them airborne before they reached Russia.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 4:16 AM
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Hmmm yes the Ottomans, good point.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 5:50 AM
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The B-36 is one of the reasons that the Air Force Museum at Wright-Pat near Dayton is worth a stop if you are ever in that area ... and are into that kind of thing... or have kids ... who are into that kind of thing. Also just read that there was a proposed commercial version and even an order placed, but the project was canceled (there was a military cargo version of which one (1) was built).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 6:25 AM
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321. This is quite fun.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 6:38 AM
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I don't recall saying that you couldn't, heebie. I said that I disagreed and explained why.... Sorry if I offended you.

Oh, I wasn't being serious. I just thought it was funny that you responded to "It's interesting that..." with "No it isn't."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 7:12 AM
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316: My grandparents lived a few miles from Wright-Patterson so you'd get all kinds of interesting flyover activity. What I recall most distinctly though was the "sonic boom era" (at some point the AF got stricter on supersonic flight rules).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 7:33 AM
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324. Do you remember B47s? Nobody seems to remember B47s.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 7:36 AM
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Vaguely--but I actually was mostly a WWII bomber fanboy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-12-10 7:42 AM
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