• BigThink,  History

    Garrison States

    I was listening to this diavlog recently and one of the participants (Daniel Deudney) remarked that the Wilsonian “Make the world safe for democracy” mantra of World War I was not so much referring to bringing democracy to monarchic parts of the world so much as making the world non-threatening enough so that America could maintain it’s non-militaristic way of life and avoid becoming a “Garrison State”.

    I haven’t thought about it for a while, but several years ago I thought that was the strongest argument for the Iraq war. Not sufficient on it’s own, but a good reason. The threat in WWI was European militarism; now it’s “The Gap” but the example still holds. The term “Garrison State” is a useful one to describe a militarized police state.

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  • Communism,  History,  Logic,  Reagan

    Reagan and the Cold War

    One of the many annoying things I often hear is “Reagan won the Cold War”. It’s the wrong question. While the Cold Warn certainly wasn’t won by Jimmy Carter, it wasn’t Reagan either. Here is the analogy I use.

    Imagine two men in a bar. They’ve just finished fighting other people together. After that fight is done, they start to squabble amongst themselves. Both men pull guns and a tense standoff ensues.

    Neither side has a clear edge as both guns are comparable and effective. The standoff continues for quite some time. Both parties upgrade their weaponry periodically. One of the people spends all of his non-weapon money on health food, while the other spends all of his non-weapon money on crystal meth and salty snacks. After a while the first health food person buys a pricey new SA80 rifle. The meth/salt guy complains about a new arms race, then has a heart attack and dies.

    That’s the end of the Cold War. The canard “We outspent them” ignores the fact that Communism is not capable of utilizing resources efficiently, and if the Soviets hadn’t been using their resources on weapons they would be wasting the resources some other way. While Reagan did see the evil nature of communism accurately, he wasn’t responsible for the heart attack. Happily, communism is self-limiting that way.

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  • Adages,  Funny,  History,  Quotes

    The quotable Dwight Eisenhower

    While perusing WikiQuote while waiting for some files to upload I came across these nuggets of wisdom

    if a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.

    An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.

    If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom.

    In his case, there seems to be no final answer to the question, “How stupid can you get?”

    The runner up

    The United States never lost a soldier or a foot of ground in my administration. We kept the peace. People asked how it happened — by God, it didn’t just happen, I’ll tell you that.

    Any my favorite

    Oh, goddammit, we forgot the silent prayer.

  • America,  Funny,  History,  Mencken

    A belated Fourth of July post

    The Declaration of Independence
    translated out of 18th century English and into 20th century American
    by H.L.Mencken
    from The Baltimore Evening Sun 7 November 1921

    WHEN THINGS get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody.

    All we got to say on this proposition is this: first, me and you is as good as anybody else, and maybe a damn sight better; second, nobody ain’t got no right to take away none of our rights; third, every man has got a right to live, to come and go as he pleases, and to have a good time whichever way he likes, so long as he don’t interfere with nobody else. That any government that don’t give a man them rights ain’t worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of government they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter. That whenever any government don’t do this, then the people have got a right to give it the bum’s rush and put in one that will take care of their interests. Of course, that don’t mean having a revolution every day like them South American yellow-bellies, or every time some jobholder goes to work and does something he ain’t got no business to do. It is better to stand a little graft, etc., than to have revolutions all the time, like them coons, and any man that wasn’t a anarchist or one of them I.W.W.’s would say the same. But when things get so bad that a man ain’t hardly got no rights at all no more, but you might almost call him a slave, then everybody ought to get together and throw the grafters out, and put in new ones who won’t carry on so high and steal so much, and then watch them. This is the proposition the people of these Colonies is up against, and they have got tired of it, and won’t stand it no more. The administration of the present King, George III, has been rotten from the start, and when anybody kicked about it he always tried to get away with it by strong-arm work. Here is some of the rough stuff he has pulled:

    Read the whole thing.

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  • History,  Photography

    Happy Birthday!

    231 years old, and you don’t look a day over 190. 143 years without a civil war too!

    One the whole I think we’re doing much better than can be expected.

    I celebrated by driving around West Atlanta and attempting some HDR photography which didn’t turn out too well.

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  • History,  Terrorism,  Weirdness

    History rhymes in funny ways

    While perusing coverage of the latest British terror plots, I came across the words “Doctor’s” and “plot” in the same sentence. Being morbidly interested in Russian History, I thought of Stalin’s final purge, happily stopped by his death, the Doctors’ Plot, which is thought to be his pretext for getting rid of Russia’s Jews.. I was looking over the Wikepedia entry on the subject and came across this little tidbit

    In the course of his career, Stalin became increasingly suspicious towards physicians. In his later years, he refused to be treated by doctors, and would only consult with veterinarians about his health.


  • Funny,  History

    Funny thing I heard on the History Channel

    I’m slowly working my way through the History Channel documentary on the Spanish American war. The black cavalry soldiers, known commonly as “Buffalo Soldiers” were known by the Spanish as “Smoked Yankees”.

    It’s interesting to be reminded that America had a low-level conflict with the Indians for years up to that point.

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  • Europe,  History,  Islam

    Recommended reading for Tuesday

    • Londonistan Calling – Hitchens goes back to London. Choice quote:

      He was a conspicuous figure because, having lost the use of an eye and both hands in an exchange of views in Afghanistan, he sported an opaque eye plus a hook to theatrical effect. Not as nice as he looked..

    • The Crime Against Kansas – Why isn’t this sort of thing in more history classes? You might hear about John Brown’s raid, but never about any clashes
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