In my last column I did my best to summarize a very disagreeable book. Today, I will be looking at another rather short book, which has an interesting and important central theme. That theme is that “warfare against civilians must never be answered in kind”1 – further, that such warfare is everywhere and always “self-defeating” … Continue reading “ONE LESSON IS BETTER THAN NONE”

Third World Kaplan and the Empire of Gloom

March 2, 2002 Third World Kaplan and the Empire of Gloom A TRACT FOR OUR TIMES Robert D. Kaplan has made a name for himself writing politically tinged travelogues from various Third World pest-holes and global hot spots for the Atlantic Monthly. Now, in his new book, Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos … Continue reading “Third World Kaplan and the Empire of Gloom”

The Debate We Never Have

Critics of US wars and US aspirations for empire have had their work cut out for them for over 100 years. This does not mean that there has existed a single, continuous antiwar or anti-imperialist movement of any real public visibility. Certainly, there have been underground currents, so to speak. John T. Flynn, who opposed … Continue reading “The Debate We Never Have”

Fast Times at National Review

Happy days are here again at National Review. For forty some years, the editors and writers of that august journal have wanted wars and were happiest when they had one. If one ended, they promptly demanded another one. Of course the Cold War was a glorious time for them, partly because of its seeming permanence; … Continue reading “Fast Times at National Review

Conserving Nothing

To address this question, there is little need to tackle the present “war.” The whole thing is a bit of a muddle anyway. War hasn’t exactly been “declared” constitutionally, yet the whole thing can be said to rest on a broad-beamed class of 20th-century precedents, from at least 1940 forward. Combined with ad hoc international … Continue reading “Conserving Nothing”

Who Let the Dogs Out?

‘MODERN’ BUT NOT LIBERAL The dogs referred to above are, of course, the dogs of war. More to the point, they are the dogs of unlimited state "sovereignty," a topic on which we lately touched from the standpoint of John Taylor of Caroline. Without the notion of sovereignty, as understood in Europe anyway, it might … Continue reading “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

Is There a Constitution?

I now proceed to answer my own question: If the events of the last few weeks are any guide, then of course there is no Constitution. This should hardly come as a surprise to those high-minded liberals who have been hawking the virtues of a flexible, plastic, evolving Constitution for many decades. Yet, some of … Continue reading “Is There a Constitution?”

Chimes of Wilson Flashing

PEACE STUDIES AREN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE Twenty years ago, someone might have opened up a journal of “peace studies” with some hope of finding useful analysis or information. At worst, he might confront some well-meaning Norwegian or Swede going on about imperialism, oppression, inequalities in the international state system, and the like. Even … Continue reading “Chimes of Wilson Flashing”

Not Exactly World War II,

REACTION BY FORMULA By now only a complete hermit could remain unaware of the events of September 11, 2001. A criminal attack by terrorists killed 5,000-6,000 Americans on American soil. No American likes that sort of thing, but there was bound to be some dispute over what to do about it.The government immediately credited the … Continue reading “Not Exactly World War II,”

Big Government, Having Never Gone Away, Is Now Said To Be ‘Back’

A POSSIBLE USE FOR HISTORY This column is called The Old Cause because I think of it as a place to sketch out certain continuities between past and present. William Appleman Williams once wrote that history is "a way of learning." From our excursions into the past, "we return with a broader awareness of the … Continue reading “Big Government, Having Never Gone Away, Is Now Said To Be ‘Back’”