Moderation in war is imbecility

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

It would be not just stupid, Paul Fussell argues, but would betray a lamentable want of human experience to expect soldiers to be very sensitive humanitarians:

The Glenn Grays of this world need to have their attention directed to the testimony of those who know, like, say, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher, who said, “Moderation in war is imbecility,” or Sir Arthur Harris, director of the admittedly wicked aerial-bombing campaign designed, as Churchill put it, to “de-house” the German civilian population, who observed that “War is immoral,” or our own General W. T. Sherman: “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.” Lord Louis Mountbatten, trying to say something sensible about the dropping of the A-bomb, came up only with “War is crazy.” Or rather, it requires choices among crazinesses. “It would seem even more crazy,” he went on, “if we were to have more casualties on our side to save the Japanese.” One of the unpleasant facts for anyone in the ground armies during the war was that you had to become pro tern a subordinate of the very uncivilian George S. Patton and respond somehow to his unremitting insistence that you embrace his view of things. But in one of his effusions he was right, and his observation tends to suggest the experimental dubiousness of the concept of “just wars.” “War is not a contest with gloves,” he perceived. “It is resorted to only when laws, which are rules, have failed.” Soldiers being like that, only the barest decencies should be expected of them. They did not start the war, except in the terrible sense hinted at in Frederic Manning’s observation based on his front-line experience in the Great War: “War is waged by men; not by beasts, or by gods. It is a peculiarly human activity. To call it a crime against mankind is to miss at least half its significance; it is also the punishment of a crime.” Knowing that unflattering truth by experience, soldiers have every motive for wanting a war stopped, by any means.


  1. Neovictorian says:

    What a magnificent essay. Should be required reading in every high school — in America and Japan and especially, California.

  2. T. Greer says:

    I assigned this essay last year in my war literature class, pairing it along with Hershey’s Hiroshima, the anime Grave of the Fireflies and several 1st person accounts of what it was like to be a Japanese civilian at Saipan and during the Tokyo firebombing. It is a very good essay.

    I don’t think it is quite fair to Grey though. I read his book a few years ago and immensely enjoyed it. Pulled at least 20 separate quotes for my commonplace book.

  3. Wan Wei Lin says:

    If you must go to war then the offensive should be sudden, overwhelming and brutal. This is the formula for a short war otherwise you have a long indecisive conflict with higher casualties on all sides.

  4. Kirk says:

    The thing that I think would surprise most civilians (and, even a lot of low-level military members…) is just how thoroughly pacifistic most of the senior-ranking career military types actually are. It’s mostly down to actually knowing what the risks are, and how many of your carefully trained and nurtured troops are going to die carrying out the will of your political masters.

    The military requires a leadership that is at once paternalistic in the finest sense, and simultaneously sociopathic in the sense that you know the kids you’re carefully conditioning to obey your will through the wiles of caring for their needs and wants in garrison are the same ones you’re going to be issuing orders that many of them will die carrying out. If you’re going to lead, effectively, you have to be bonded to them, and that bond flows in both directions. Yet, as a leader, you’re going to have to use that bond to serve as a Judas goat, leading those men you bonded with to their deaths.

    One of the most profound cases of PTSD I ever observed didn’t even stem from combat. Another senior NCO I knew completely lost his shit after most of his squad had been killed or maimed in a traffic accident during the aftermath of Desert Storm. He’d sent them off in a HMMWV to make use of a phone center so they could call their families back in the States, and while they were on the road going to the camp where the center was located, their truck got run over by a semi-truck that didn’t see the HMMWV in a dust storm. Of the nine guys in that vehicle, only two ever returned to the unit, and that was after months in medical facilities and rehab. He blamed himself, because he felt like he wouldn’t have made the decisions that put them in the middle of that dust cloud. The PTSD didn’t really develop until he was in Iraq after 2003, and the whole thing came back to him. He started having nightmares about being in a dust storm, stopping to figure out what was going on, getting out of the truck to see, and then having the truck get hit by the semi. Which was more-or-less what had happened, without him being there and getting out of it… It got so bad that he finally couldn’t take it any more, and wound up retiring earlier than planned because the stress was killing him.

    If you’re going to lead troops in combat, you have to bond with them closely enough that you can pull them along with you into deadly danger–And, once you’ve done that, those bonds pull back at you. Sometimes, they’re strong enough to pull you into the grave with your lost dead, too…

    Unless, of course, you’re a sociopathic bastard.

  5. CVLR says:

    I disagree very strongly. Total war is an abomination to be avoided. If there is to be war it should be as limited as possible to the extent that gentlemanly conduct can be organically sustained by the contenders.

    The greatest victory is to win without firing a shot.

  6. Kirk says:

    CVLR, what you describe is purest fantasy, and is fundamentally immoral. You want war to be some kind of game, a mentality that is both immature and unlikely to actually produce the outcome you think you want. War as “game” does not settle anything; all it does is encourage more war, because the opposing sides are not going to stop fighting until and unless they become convinced that the matter is either settled, or it is not worth the sacrifice.

    And, make no mistake about it: That’s what war is, human sacrifice writ large and informal. Even if you never fire a weapon, people die doing warlike things and in support of it all. Traffic accidents, falls, equipment failures–It all happens, and every one of those “trivial” deaths means someone’s son, brother, or father ain’t coming back home to mamma and the kids.

    War is what happens when “gentlemanly conduct” is impossible, or else the reason for going to war is childishly trivial. War is not some heightened level of game, with guns in place of baseball bats and hockey sticks. It is a deadly, serious thing, which costs men their lives. You only engage in it when you have no other choices left.

    If you consider it to be some “gentlemanly” sort of affair, then the whole conflict really could and should have been avoided entirely, because you actually weren’t that serious about your causes for going to war in the first damn place. I repeat: It is not a game; it is for survival.

    The attitude you espouse is sheerest folly; that’s how we got WWII out of WWI, thinking that the “War to End all War” was some sort of half-ass contest, a slightly more serious game of football, where we’d contend for a few years on an isolated battlefield, and then that outcome would decide things. It quite obviously did not, because the Germans left that war thinking that they had not been defeated, but swindled. Why? Because the Allies behaved as half-ass “gentlemen”, and tried to win in negotiations what they were unwilling to hazard in battle.

    Both the Germans and the Allies were fundamentally confused in the negotiations to end that war, because the Germans thought they were taking part in a “gentlemanly war”, where having lost, they’d take their little toy soldiers and put them away in the boxes they came in, and go back to the status quo ante bellum. The French, on the other hand, were determined to inflict an unearned total defeat at the negotiating table, where they had not actually inflicted enough of a victory on the Germans so as to create and sustain a German mindset of “Well, we utterly lost that one, let’s quit with the war-making…”.

    Both sides were rooted in that whole “war as game” thing you’re alluding to as an ideal. It does not work, in our world–Back when war really was hereditary aristos competing in their little games of territorial one-upsmanship, games that had no real consequence, and where the average person still did not need to have a passport to travel between supposedly warring nations, such things as a “gentlemanly war” were possible–Although, with the attendant death for the soldiery, they were entirely immoral.

    If the argument can be settled within a rules-based framework like your “gentlemanly warfare” construct, then it has not reached a point where it’s worth killing or dying over. And, if you’re going to get a bunch of soldiers killed, sweetheart, you’d best be certain it’s worth what their lives cost–Or, we’re going to come back and have a little chat with your childish ass for sending us to war when it wasn’t a matter of necessity.

    Your “gentlemanly war” construct trivializes the lives of soldiers, whether you have the maturity to recognize it or not. This is not the 18th Century, and we do not have a bunch of childish aristos settling trivial disputes with their neighbors by way of taking their prettily dressed toys out of their boxes and hurling them at each other. That’s not war; that’s simply bloodsport. And, it is not something you’d be wise to espouse for professional soldiers to undertake, because, unlike you, we value our lives and those of the men whose lives we have been entrusted with. If the conflict is such that it could be settled within the bounds of “gentlemanly conduct”, then you have no business, none at all, asking me to sacrifice my life or the lives of my men for your little “issue”.

    Total war, or no war. Period. If you lot can’t settle your differences over trivial issues of territory, trde, or power, figure something else out–That doesn’t cost human lives. If you’re going to ask me to take lives in your name, or die for you, then you’d better make damn sure that it’s worth it–And, that means taking war to the hilt, and then doing everything you can to achieve victory. Making some grand “limited” gesture isn’t worth spilling blood over, and if you want me to go kill some little brown 19 year-olds in order to make some point for your politics…? Cordially, go fuck yourself. The recruiting station is over there–Go get your murder on for your own self. Trust me, it’s a lot more satisfying when the blade goes in and the blood comes out in person, not at a remove like it is on cable news.

    War is a place you only go when there is no other option, and you only do it when it’s worth the human lives you’re going to expend. As such, it exists only in an arena where “gentlemanly conduct” is entirely irrelevant, and attempting to establish or stay within any such “rules” is sheerest stupidity–You make war hard, fast, and utterly destructive until the enemy stops and surrenders entirely. That’s the mistake the Allies made in WWI, and that mistake rendered every single life lost in that war an utter waste.

    That whole “gentleman” thing is a crock of shit, in the first damn place. Most “gentlemen” are scum aristos, who make and enforce rules for their benefit alone, scamming the rest of the world into thinking they have some moral ascendancy because “restraint” and the pretty-pretty clothes they wear. Bullshit. They make rules because they want to win and maintain their places in the world, and if you stop to look at most of those rules, that’s all they’re in support of–Getting, keeping, and maintaining power plus position in society. War and conflict are only games to children; for adults, they are deadly serious matters of survival, and you don’t go to that level when it isn’t necessary. And, once you have, necessity means you take it to the hilt, and then shove the broken blade up someone’s ass, if that’s what it takes to persuade them to stop what they are doing.

  7. CVLR says:

    Kirk, you fundamentally misunderstand my position.

    For one thing, limited war can remain limited only to the extent that both sides agree and self-regulate to the same ruleset. When neither side is animated by geopolitical reasons escalating to the complete destruction of the other, this is at least possible.

    For another, the nature of war changes dramatically from one technological moment to the next. WWI could never happen again, mostly because of the development of airplanes. WWII could never happen again for a number of technological reasons.

    The whole police-rules-of-engagement thing in the Middle East is because it isn’t a real war. You can never “win” a “war” in the Middle East because there is no geopolitical entity to defeat, only resources to extract, like the produce of the poppy fields in Afghanistan. That whole problem can be solved by taking over the reservoir in Venezuela and booting AIPAC out of Washington.

    I’d rather have the militaries or the world directed by intelligent Clausewitzes, who knew and why he was doing things, than dumb brute Pattons, who didn’t realize what he was doing until after he had done it, and was incapable of keeping himself alive in order to mitigate the damage.

    You may not have noticed, but we’ve had proxy (limited) wars for the last 70 years, a natural consequence of neither side wanting to escalate all the way thanks to M.A.D. (see above). Maybe, in the future, laser arrays will be able to reliably shoot down ballistic missiles, but for now, your rabid desire for total war will still reliably get us all killed.

  8. Kirk says:

    CVLR, I misunderstand nothing about your position. You see war as being some sort of heightened game state, like most of the dolts we have running things around the world. It is manifestly not.

    Limited war is idiocy and folly; if you have a conflict where you are willing to impose limits and then actually hold to them, then that conflict isn’t actually worth a single life to resolve. If you’re unwilling to finish the war, or cavil at taking some lives rather than others, then you are cheerleading for casual murder.

    Your conception of “limited, civilized war” is what got us the entire idiocy of the current conflict. Had the first Bush administration not called back the divisions that were destroying the Iraqi Army, there would have been no need to go into Iraq in 2003, because there would have been no Saddam Hussein regime left to have to deal with. That administration basically sold American troops to the Saudi Arabian government to use as mercenaries in their war with their other recalcitrant hireling, Saddam. Had he similarly followed through with his “limited war” against the Soviets in Afghanistan, rather than abandoning the Afghanis to the tender mercies of the Pakistani ISI, there never would have been a terrorist safe haven for al Qaeda to operate in.

    Having expended the lives that they did, it was immoral for that administration to cease operations before the implied goal was reached–Which was the removal of the Hussein regime and the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But, like good little hirelings, the Bush assholes stopped when they had the Iraqis on the ropes, mainly because the Saudis wanted a fierce dog in between them and the Iranians–Also why they refused to support the invasion in 2003 beyond mere gestures. As well, having suborned the Afghanis like Amad Shah Massoud into fighting our proxy war with the Soviets, we abandoned them and left Afghanistan a vacuum of authority for the Taliban to grow up in.

    Your attitude and ideas are why we consistently have failed at making war since 1945, and why we failed to put an emphatic end to WWI.

    You’re not done with a war until you’ve utterly crushed the enemy, killed most of their military-age men, and destroyed the majority of their infrastructure. If you’re unwilling to do that, find another solution that doesn’t include asking men to kill and die for you.

    Sherman had the right of it. You emphatically do not–Limited war is an abomination, because it achieves nothing. You want to “argue with emphasis”, and what you miss is that once you resort to armed force, it’s either to the hilt, or nothing. Casual violence is what barbarians and criminals resort to, when interacting with that which they don’t understand. As a civilized man, I grasp the inherently irrational nature of war, and realize that it is not a tool for casual use. Instead, it should only be deployed when no other options are available, and the interests it is deployed for are important enough.

    In ’91, Saddam violated Kuwait’s territorial integrity, and tried to essentially settle his debts by conquering his debtors. As an interest of the United States, that created an imperative for us to act. Where that failed was because the half-hard hollow-chested men of the Bush Administration caviled at the bloodshed and decided to let Saddam avoid his just deserts. Like you, they decided to create some rules, some limitations–After seeing what the Highway of Death looked like, they blinked. What did that create? The need for another war in a little less than a decade. And, yet again, another Bush chose to wage that war on the moral cheap, pulling punches and failing to destroy the ambitions of the Iraqi regime supporters. Which created the entire spectacle of the post-2003 “insurgency”, because we merely imprisoned the criminals conducting that insurgency. Had we had the courage of our convictions, there would have been the tribunals and drum-head courts martial authorized for such situations by the Geneva and Hague conventions, and the resultant effect of that would have been no ISIL/ISIS crisis in the 2010s. There are reasons that such things were always a part of the customs of war, and why failing to enforce them is sheerest fecklessness personified.

    All those lives, all that misery? That’s the real legacy of your oh-so-civilized approach to this shit. Every one of the assholes running ISIL/ISIS were men we once had in custody and then saw the Obama Administration tell the Iraqis to release. And, we’ve spent millions hunting them down with JDAMs and multi-million aircraft; problem would have been solved had my solution of executing the motherfuckers when we took them into custody been followed.

    My solution? One 9mm bullet to the back of the head, after a fair trial. Yours? Oh, do lets be humane and give them a sporting chance, after they’ve committed a host of war crimes. Then, we’ll JDAM them from 15,000 feet, or use a drone. So nice, so impersonal… So expensive!

    Especially to the Yazidi and any other people of good will in Northern Iraq.

    Had they been given fair trials, and then shot? No ISIS/ISIL, and no slave markets filled with little Yazidi girls.

    One suspects that the outcomes where there are such slave markets are the sorts of things your ilk would rather see. Because, that’s precisely where all your oh-so-civilized “restraint” gets you.

    My position as a professional soldier has always been “Don’t ask me to do things you don’t really want done, and then ask me to hold my hand back from finishing what your insincere instructions started.”.

    In a just world, people like you would be the ones to suffer the consequences of your feckless stupidity. Instead, people like the Yazidi, the Hmong, and anyone else that ever took our soldier’s words at face value, speaking for your ilk? They pay the blood price when you change your childish little minds about what you want done, or how hard you want things to go.

    War is the exclusive province of madness; only invoke it when there are no other options remaining to you. You do not justify the loss of life when you set out to do something via armed violence, and then cavil at actually doing because you’re disturbed by witnessing what was always implied in your desires and instructions to the soldiers.

    Limitations and rules? In war? I spit in your face. You don’t even begin to comprehend the realities of it.

    What cracks me up about your sort of jackass? You don’t even begin grasp the implications of what you so fervently espouse.

    Examples abound–The prohibition against the so-called “expanding dum-dum bullet”. Where that “humanitarian initiative” falls down, in reality? That ban was invented and negotiated for back in the pre-antibiotic era, when poking holes in men wearing dirty uniforms in the mud meant condemning 90% of them to a prolonged death by gas gangrene or other infection, instead of quickly killing them via blood loss or shock. That’s what your vaunted “rules” actually meant, back when those rules were imposed–Arrant, actual cruelty on a level I can’t even comprehend. Instead of a quick and actually humane death on the battlefield, you lovely, lovely “humanitarians” proposed and negotiated a “solution” that meant men dying horribly in dark, dirty hospital rooms filled with their suffering fellows.

    The level of sheer diabolical hatred of their fellow human beings that that “humanitarian” gesture (for that’s all it really was, a gesture) demonstrates makes it very easy to understand how the primary movers behind that bit of inhumanity, the Imperial Germans, so easily came to using chemical and unrestricted submarine warfare. Both of which attest to the reasons why your line of “thot” is so vaguely incoherent and stupid–So long as there are rules to lawyer with, it becomes all too easy to violate them. And, then where are you? Exactly where the fuck I’d have started from, in the first goddamn place.

    Had the Germans known that they’d be unleashing hell entire, they’d have been a little more careful about starting their goddamn wars in the first fucking place, but that point is completely lost on you dipshit humanitarians. Just like that whole “ban inhumane expanding hollow-point bullets” thing actually seems like such a great deal to your ilk–Far better, in your moronic minds, to have to shoot someone a dozen times to stop them, rather than use one round that puts an actual end to the fight. Never mind that what you’re actually asking us soldiers to do is torture the hell out of another human being, for the satisfaction of your oh-so-very-refined sensibilities.

    Seriously–Go expound on something you’ve got some actual personal knowledge of, and leave the fucking theorizing about war to people who have to enact the things you think you know better about. You don’t.

  9. Lu An Li says:

    1. Ants too wage war.

    2. “War is too important to be left to the generals.” War is politics by other means. Goals and rules of engagement as defined by political authority and obeyed by the military. Clausewitz speaks of “timidity” of those waging war.

    3. Even the Mongol did not seek the total obliteration of the adversary. Just your bowing and pay tribute to the Great Khan. 10 % of everything per year.

  10. Wan Wei Lin says:

    Kirk, You should write a book on war. Incredible insight. A short brutal war costs less lives than a gentlemanly war fought by rear echelon mother fuckers.

  11. Kirk says:

    I don’t know that I’m particularly insightful, and I wouldn’t be arrogant enough to say that I’m absolutely right, but…

    There are a several axes along which my thinking runs, with regards to this. One, which is that war-as-game is inherently immoral, because, well… You’re killing people for no other reason than that they’re on the other side. You can’t get around that, so to speak of artificial limitations is nuts–You’re setting a values judgment such that some lives are OK to take under some situations while others are not. The whole situation you’ve created by going to war is insane, on the face of it. If you’re going to do that, then don’t hold back, particularly in things that will only prolong the agony.

    And, there’s the whole “rules lawyer” thing that takes effect. Codify things, and pretty soon people start looking for ways around the codes. “Oh, there’s no rule against this, so we can do it…”. Far better to leave that crap to be worked out on the battlefield between the combatants, informally. It’s like that Dutch experiment with removing traffic signs–Their absence made drivers more careful and more observant, because the artificial rules weren’t actually effective in making them either observant or cautious. Not only that, but the artificial rules also tend to make it very easy for opposing sides to work out what the other side has–”Oh, they’ve negotiated to outlaw nerve agents… They must not have any, so we might be safe in using them for a temporary advantage…”. Leave it ambivalent, and then the calculus is going to be “Don’t know what they can do; not taking the risk…”.

    The other thing about all this? In war, the damn rules get thrown out the window all the time, anyway, so why the hell bother trying to set any? Look at the way we’re dealing with illegal combatants like ISIS, today: There are over a thousand of those baby-raping slave-takers in US custody today. Were we to do what we should, and give them fair trials and execute them on the spot, no further problems from that quarter. And, oh-by-the-way, that’s in full accordance with the customs and rules of war as codified in the Hague and Geneva Conventions. We’re not going to do that, because… Humanitarian impulses, which are actually quite inimical to actual humanitarian issues like those Yezidi sex slaves. On the face, it’s insane–You want to dissuade people from conducting war outside the customs and rules, yet you refuse to use or enforce those customs and rules to actually, y’know… Dissuade? WTF? And, these are the same set of idiots like CVLR who whinge on and on about setting rules. If you’re not going to follow them, why set them? Right now, the Hague and Geneva complex of rules are things only we follow, and things that only we get beat up for violating.

    Justify their existence, on that count, alone: The criminal don’t follow them, don’t get punished, but if we violate even minor ones accidentally, then we have our guys hauled off in front of the ICC. This is not going to be of benefit to anyone, long-term.

    Frankly, I don’t know what the hell our guys over there were thinking, even taking prisoners. They should have all been shot while being made prisoners, because the same damn thing that happened with all the ones at Camp Bucca or Guantanamo Bay will happen again in the future–Another pusillanimous administration will simply release them to go kill and rape some more. I’d be curious to know how many of those guys are people we’ve captured more than once, to be quite honest.

    You say you want an end to war, and then you take steps to make more of them, and have them last longer? That’s the hypocrisy of it all that angers me. If war were made the way I think it should be, and resorted to only in extreme exigency, then we’d probably see fewer of them, and lower overall casualties over the long haul.

    The “restraint” demonstrated by the leadership in WWI got us WWII. Had they done what should have been done, and taken defeat to Germany’s homes, destroying her armies and cities the way the Germans destroyed Belgium’s, then Germany would have been rather unlikely to have started WWII. For one thing, the Versailles treaty that didn’t get enforced wouldn’t have been a thing, because that idiotic treaty wouldn’t have been there in the first place. You want to defeat someone who is an evil jackass, you don’t stop with bloodying their face a little–You put that bastard on the ground, and kick the shit out of him until he twitches in fear every time he sees you. Even better, kill the son-of-a-bitch so you don’t have to worry about him stabbing you in the back, some night. If you’re not willing to do that, don’t bother with fighting in the first damn place–Because, whatever issues you were fighting over weren’t all that important, to begin with.

    This is the problem with the way the Israelis have been dealing with the “Arab problem” from day one–The Israelis picked up some really bad habits during their sojourn outside the Middle East: They think there are rules, and that when they behave magnanimously towards their enemies in victory, that that will somehow translate into moral ascendancy, and that will end things.

    Nope–They’re f**king up because what they’re actually doing is failing to communicate across the cultural divide that they’ve won, and that they aren’t to be messed with. Why is it failing? Because, my Israeli friends, you’re winning on the battlefield, and then promptly turning around and behaving as though you lost at the negotiating table. You don’t offer tribute, in the Arab mindset, unless you lost. So, to the Arabs, they see that they’ve had their asses kicked good and hard, but that the Israelis are turning around and offering up aid in rebuilding things, humanitarian concessions, and that the Israelis aren’t coming in and raping/killing the women and kids. This creates profound cognitive dissonance in the Arab mind, because they’re thinking that if they’d really, y’know, lost, then the Israelis would have done all those things. Because, to them, that’s what victory means–Utter destruction, no aid, rape, pillage, slaughter, and hauling the good-looking survivors off to the slave market.

    Hell, the Arabs even find it insulting that the Israelis won’t rape their women after combat, seeing that as the Israelis refusing to see them as other human beings. See, if they won’t rape our women after they win, then they must see us as sub-human… That’s the way the thinking goes.

    And, the Israelis keep right on being “humanitarians”, not realizing that what they’re really doing is encouraging more of the insanity from the Arabs. Like as not, had the so-called Palestinians been treated as they really expected (and, how they would have treated the Jews of Palestine, had the Arabs won…), then they’d have said “Oh, OK… We lost; not gonna try that shit again…”, and then settled down.

    From one perspective, the Israelis are like cruel cats, playing with the mice they’ve caught. The mouse thinks it can escape because the cat didn’t kill it out of hand, but the reality is…?

    Restraint in war is madness, for this and so many other reasons. If you’ve got to do it, do it hard, brutally, and as fast as you can. That’s the only way to end the conflict and remove its source. Anything else is just going to mean more drawn-out killing as the tit-for-tat syndrome takes place.

    I’m not advocating for completely unrestrained war, either–Just leave the informal rules alone, and let the battlefield enforce those. The minute you codify the damn things, that’s the moment they start to be used against you. Not to mention, the idiots who do the codification are usually lawyers with no real idea about the realities of things, so that they aren’t either sensible or enforceable. Better to go with “No codifications, just customs and usages…”. That sort of thing is probably more of a deterrent, because then you wouldn’t know what your enemy might do in retaliation… When it’s “Oh, we’ll try you for war crimes at Nuremberg, and then let you out after you serve a few years of your sentence…”, the way we did with most of the Nazis, well… The calculus becomes pretty easy: “Well, if we lose, the most I’ll have to worry about is a few years in a warm jail cell…”.

    Leave it unspoken, and then the calculus is “Wow… Shoot commando prisoners? Last time someone did that, they lined up everyone involved, including their pet dogs, sodomized them all, and then shot them out of hand… I think we’ll be ignoring that particular Feuhrerbefehl, won’t we…?”.

    War is unrestrained insanity. Trying to impose sanity, rules, and limitations on it? A fool’s quest, and one that will only prolong the agony of it all. Witness the current idiocy–If we’d have done things the way Ghengis Khan did them, it would be over with by now, and the odds are that we’d be very unlikely to see any cities lost to WMD, which is going to be the most lasting legacy of the Bush Administration, that they set the conditions for that to happen.

    If he’d had the moral rectitude to demand the Saudis and Pakistanis turn over the figures in their governments that conspired to enable 9/11, the way he should have, and then burned both countries to the ground when/if they didn’t? Well, we’d be very unlikely to see anyone willing to try using WMD on cities via proxy cut-outs like al Qaeda, and the Westphalian conventions would have been strengthened, not weakened. George Bush’s humanitarian impulses and weakness as a leader have led directly to that happening in the future, and that’s what I think historians will be saying about his administration generations from now.

    Kindness and compassion in war is actually and demonstrably cruelty, over the long haul. Kindness and compassion, once the enemy surrenders? By all means, do whatever you like to make yourself feel better about what you did–It is generally a good idea, with the right enemies, but during the conflict phase, it’s a huge mistake.

  12. CVLR says:

    Kirk, as I said before, you falsely attribute to me a large number of positions which I do not hold.

    I lean much more towards isolationism than interventionism. I am much more a pragmatist than I am a humanitarian. And I would really, really prefer not to die in a tsunami of nuclear fire.

    I appreciate your personal efforts to shore up the competence of the military. I have never even pretended to know much of anything about that institution. But there are certain things that you, being educated first by the accredited school system and second by the indoc organs of the military, were not permitted to know.

    One of the more important is the fact that ideology, though an excellent cattle prod for the dumb goyish masses, is far less predictive of observed behavior than that of interests. A minuscule fraction of things done by the United States in the Middle East, for instance, have been done for any reason to do with “democracy”, “human rights”, or any other such nonsense. If the Middle East had neither oil nor Israel, it would be like Africa, and no one is threatening to intervene in Africa.

    You mentioned ISIS (R.I.P.), so I’ll ask you a question pair: which major power was running air cover for ISIS? and why did the Russians and the Chinamen think that it was the Americans?

    Before you rejoin, pause and reflect: did you notice the second black cat?

  13. Sam J. says:

    I can agree with CVLR that in some cases all out war is not necessary.

    I also, even though it’s contradictory, agree with Kirk’s position, but if you operate with Kirk’s position you need to make damn sure you win.

    “Moderation in war is imbecility.”

    I understand this too, but if every time the US did some sort of “police action” we razed the country to the ground and slaughtered most of the people, it would soon create a counter force against us, terrified, kind of of like now, and dedicated to our complete destruction. I can’t say that there are not times we shouldn’t throw some little country up against the wall, but we need to limit this as much as possible. It should only be when our security is threatened, or when people take our stuff. We should also limit war when people take our stuff. It should only be if strategic interest are at stake.

    Our latest wars have not been in our interest. We’ve really fucked up. Vietnam was a crystal clear strategic war compared to the ones we’re in now.

  14. CVLR says:

    “but if you operate with Kirk’s position you need to make damn sure you win”

    That’s a really excellent point.

    “Our latest wars have not been in our interest.”

    Do you include the World Wars in that description?

  15. Sam J. says:

    “…Do you include the World Wars in that description?…”

    That’s a tricky question. WWI, not our interest. We could have done without fighting in WWI. WWII…tough, it certainly made us rich as the only one left standing. If Hitler had won would Germany have eventually had the power and felt the necessity to take us on????? It would be a decent assumption that they would have had nukes. There’s a case to be made, certainly considering the Globohomo POZZ of the US and Europe, that we’d have been better off if Hitler won and we stayed out of the war all together in Europe. Hitlers economic system worked vastly better than the US during the depression. They OWNED their Central Bank. We did not. While farmers in the US were hanging themselves in their barns Germans were going on company paid vacations.

  16. CVLR says:

    Sam, you’re very difficult to argue with indeed.

  17. Sam J. says:

    “…Sam, you’re very difficult to argue with indeed…”

    I’m not sure if that a compliment or derision.

    I’ll look at it on the bright side and consider it a compliment, to the great derision of some.

  18. Graham says:

    Some Americans in positions of influence certainly thought WW1 was in their interests as well as values. The quick and dirty way to sum that up is that they were aiming to achieve the eventual verdict of 1945 a generation early.

    And then they lost the domestic battle for a generation.

    But consider the sheer weight the US had in the post-WW1 international system compared to pre-1914. It was already dictating the terms of arms races, dominating the financial system, dictating the terms of German reparations, refinancing the German economy, shoving AMerican corporations into Europe and the Middle East everywhere. Not for nothing there was briefly an [insane, to my mind] notion of creating a free Armenia as an American protectorate.

    There’s plenty to be said about whether all that was really American interests, but it’s the same argument as 1945- Americans in aggregate may have gained little, America the state and some Americans gained quite a bit, and they almost managed to create an international legal and economic order as oriented around the US as in 1945.

  19. CVLR says:

    Sam, it’s absolutely a compliment.

    I personally think that a German Eurasia would have been a big problem, so crushing the Germans was probably the right move.

    Trouble is, in retrospect, the Germans were right about a lot, and subsequent domestic social policy have done absolutely nothing to prove them wrong,

    And now we get to witness twilight in the West.


  20. Sam J. says:

    “…I personally think that a German Eurasia would have been a big problem, so crushing the Germans was probably the right move…”

    Twenty years ago I would have 100% agreed that this was the right thing to do. Every day I become less and less sure that this is true.

    There is no evidence, that I know of, that Hitler ever wanted anything but crop land, minerals and security for the Germans. Now you may get a mass of Jews saying different but…well they run the media so you can trust them as much as you trust the media.

    If we had a contest between Germany and the US worldwide…what “exactly” would be the big difference between that and the cost of the cold war with the Soviet Union???? The USSR was MUCH more aggressive and a bigger threat to us than the Germans would have ever been because the systems of government were diametrically opposed. One had lose for the other to win. The Germans were just interested in Germans and security for Germans. There was never any Nazi global plan. It’s retarded to even say there was as the whole system was for Germans. A much easier task to balance the needs of Germany than the global aspirations of the USSR, (with apologies to the Russian people which I don’t have any beef with). On a wild whim you could say Germany could decide to commit genocide against us to be secure but that’s very, very doubtful as we had the bomb and they did not have it, at least publicly(there’s some evidence that they did but the evidence is spotty).

    (An aside because it interest me so much, did you know there’s a great deal of evidence the Japanese had the bomb and even tested one successfully? The author of this book talked to scientist who actually worked on the program and told him they built one and exploded one off the coast of what is now N. Korea. Interestingly enough this area the Japanese supposedly built their bomb is the exact same place that the N. Koreans are supposedly building bombs.)

    Now you’re saying to yourself, Sam J., you’ve completely lost it. Too many conspiracies have hollowed out your brain. Oh really then what was THIS for.

    Now Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto thought these up. Global range submarines that carry “only” three planes, to attack the USA. I tell you these super expensive subs have zero military value, unless, they carried nukes and then they would be incalculably valuable. The Japanese had the same information about splitting of the atom that the US and the Germans had. They also had very capable scientist. It puts the whole Pacific war in a different perspective if you see the Japanese attacking our bases in the Pacific to drive us off until…they have the bomb. They didn’t make it in time though, so they lost.

    “…And now we get to witness twilight in the West…”

    It’s not over yet. No one believes the big blaring media horn anymore. People are looking for answers. You will find them if you look and the answers they will find are 100% opposed to what we have been told for decades. It’s all a massive lie and always was. I’m talking about fundamentals of how things are run. The narrative we are taught is a lie and not the truth.

    The end result of this will be conflict of one sort or another.

  21. CVLR says:

    Sam, that’s some very interesting stuff on the Japanese. I’d never heard of that one before. I’d heard of Roosevelt’s oil embargo, maybe Roosevelt deliberately precipitated WWII because with nukes on both horizons it was going to be “now or never”? That might also have been the justification for total war pursued in the interest of unconditional surrender:—something like, you can’t leave your opponent breathing if next time around he’ll just come at you with a superweapon.

    Who knows, really. I look forward to reading the judgments of academia freed of IC mind control.

    I’m skeptical of really having to deal with a greater German kingdom, and not for the cartoonish reasons you find in Hollywood movies: fake showers, shiny jackboots, or hilariously failed attempts to make 1950’s suburbia look dystopian. From an Anglocentric perspective, and assuming that we could have successfully kept hold of our own system, Europe (and the world) would’ve been far better off under us than under the Germans, much less the Russians. I acknowledge that authoritarianism may be necessary in some circumstances, a liberal social order (in the true sense of the term) being vulnerable to certain unmentionable plagues, but it’s inferior in all the others: morally, intellectually, economically.

    I think you’re right about us being at the big turning point of… something. I can feel it hanging in the air. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, something’s happening here, but I don’t know what it is.

  22. CVLR says:


    “Some Americans in positions of influence certainly thought WW1 was in their interests as well as values.”

    I would note that the extent to which this is true depends heavily on your definition of that funny little word, “American”.

    “It was already…dictating the terms of German reparations”

    …Is that an oblique reference to Schiff?

  23. Graham says:

    Well, I suppose I was getting at:

    1. The US as a state/nation/entity ended up in a position of even greater political and economic dominance than it looked fair to have in 1914, and substantially foreshadowing the one it got in 1945.

    2. In the 1920s the US government and American businessmen held the debt of most of Europe in a way not true in 1914, and controlled the debt repayments to the US of Britain and France and in part through that controlled the scale and schedule of German reparations to them and other countries, and effectively determined how the German economy would be refloated and propped up so the cash kept flowing in all those directions. Iw as thinking mainly of things like the Dawes and Young plans.

    3. American banking and manufacturing significantly expanded its presence in Europe.

    The economic penetration and position were far ahead of the political and diplomatic of course. The US had stepped back a bit by making a separate non-Versaille peace with Germany and not joining the League. And Europe wasn’t destroyed nearly enough to cede all its leadership position and independence anyway. They needed a second round.

    So, the US became the # 1 great power. SOme could see that coming by 1914 but it wasn’t as obvious or inevitable yet. In the 1920s the US was a tad more aloof but by then it could still stop anything it didn’t like too much if it wanted.

    All the naval arms treaties served US interests quite nicely. THe US could have afforded to outbuild, but didn’t want to. THe UK could not have afforded a race, so they were benefitting too, but they had to scrap job lots of older ships that wouldn’t have been totally useless to meet tonnage limits, and suddenly the US Navy was the most powerful in the world for the first time. It has yet to yield the position.

    GRanted, not everybody thinks in terms of geopolitics and state power, but that’s the kind of interests I was getting at.

    AS far as the elites of the US then, well I’ll leave it to Americans in the end to define an American, and like all elites they had class and personal, ideological and business interests not always in alignment with the needs or wishes of common people. But it’s hard not to see the Daweses, Youngs, Roosevelts, Hoovers, Rockefellers, Fords, duPonts and so on as not American. Whatever I might think of the beliefs of any of them. They were at least as ‘national’ as any elite ever was. More than many.

  24. Graham says:

    Unless of course you were meaning that America’s upper classes of that time had already embraced a post-national order a little too much.

    Yes, sometimes I think the rot had set in in the US, Britain, and my own little Canada a little too much already then.

    And contrary to some common sentiments, a fairly large number seem to have been members of a variety of what now might be called mainline Protestant denominations.

    The thing that always strikes me is that I probably wouldn’t have minded the postnational order envisioned by the Round Table types- an Anglo-American empire would be a nice end of history, and there’d probably have been as much social and economic freedom and mobility in my day as in our history. So excellent. But that agenda seemed to glide into the League of Nations and the modern internationalist mindset with an ease that beggars the imagination. Perhaps they had always seen those as the same thing. For me it is a moment of cognitive dissonance.

    FWIW. It’s late in Ottawa. And moderately cold still. -16C, rumour has it. And I haven’t been outside in 12 hours.

  25. Kirk says:

    I’ve always found the “accepted truth” about the German and Japanese nuclear weapons programs to be a little… Off. And, suspicious. I don’t think we know as much as we think we do, and I’m convinced that there was enough going on that both the Japanese and German leadership thought they had something…

    The hints are in the things that we’ve explained away as “irrational Nazi behavior”. I look at the completely nutso Nazi V-program weapons, and the only thing that makes any sense to me is that they really thought they had something coming along that would have to be capable of one-shotting a good chunk of city, if not destroying it entirely. The V-2 program, in particular–For the expense, which was a significantly greater part of the German wartime economy than the US B-29 program (which some calculations have at 3 billion dollars vs. 2 billion for Manhattan…), the sheer illogic of building a disposable delivery system for close to a ton of high explosives…? Surely, there was someone sitting in a briefing, somewhere, who raised his hand and said “Hey… Uh… How does the math work on this, again…?”.

    There was too much else like that in the system, for the Germans to have been actually planning on just using conventional explosives for those weapons. Which argues that they had something, somewhere, that would have been as effective as what we dropped on Hiroshima. There are similar clues in Japan, particularly when you look at the I-400 subs.

    It would have been in the interest of the Allies, after the war, to have done all they could to cover up the existence of these programs, in the name of suppressing the technology. As well, it’s also possible that they missed a bunch of stuff out of sheer arrogance, particularly with the Japanese. There are intriguing hints of things from Japanese physicists who were sidelined and ignored after the war, mostly because nobody wanted to admit that they were just as smart as we were. Also, a lot of the work was done in North Korea, behind the Iron Curtain, so the sites were never investigated properly.

    Were there German and Japanese bomb programs? No idea, but from what I can see, the leadership in both countries behaved as though there were.

  26. CVLR says:


    #1 is absolutely true of course. But there’s a tiny little fly in this ointment. I don’t see how I, personally have benefited from the immiseration of the Old World and of Christendom more generally, nor do I see how America the civilization, America the culture, America the bloodline have benefited therefrom. And all this, to say nothing of the ultimate outcome we can today see growing rapidly in Malmö, Paris, London, or all the little English hamlets.

    #2: There were a lot of plans. I don’t know the specifics, really. But I do have the superpower of a century of hindsight.

    #3: Fine by me, if we could have kept it.

    &c: To be sure, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Wilhelm III, for example, can go hang, and there are many others similarly gullible, negligent, or naïve, to let our present timeline befall us. Nelson Aldrich, the archetypal progressive, is one worthy of special mention, may he have his eyes daily pecked out by an eagle whilst chained to a stripper pole in a fiery pit until the end of time.

    I myself subscribed to the Puritan Hypothesis for quite a while, but for me it began to crumble when I did some reading on the history of college admissions of the 20th century.

    Sometime thereafter I read some of the things the so-called “WASPs” actually wrote. I didn’t find the self-flagellatory angst promised by Yarvin. Instead I found, in the main, a race of men of will-full temperament, concerned with much the same things as the Germans were concerned about.

    Take, for instance, the case of Cornell graduate, president of Indiana University, and Stanford’s founding president, David Starr Jordan. To quote Wikipedia, as a professor of zoology, he taught:

    …his version of eugenics, which “sought to prevent the decay of the Anglo-Saxon/Nordic race by limiting racial mixing and by preventing the reproduction of those…unfit”.

    He also produced gems such as this:

    …”all [25 billion of the war debt in Europe] owed to the unseen vampire, and which the nations will never pay and which taxes poor people 95 million dollars a year.”

    “The unseen vampire.”

    Jordan was president of the World Peace Foundation from 1910 to 1914 and president of the World Peace Conference in 1915, and opposed U.S. involvement in World War I.

    And he was hardly alone.

    As an aside, if you’re thinking that in my use of the phrase “certain unmentionable plagues”, I’m implicitly scapegoating an entire race, let me disabuse you of that false and perfidious notion. I’m thinking mostly of international finance. I in no way endorse crimethink, and if you’re experiencing a bit of crimestop reflex as a result of those two concepts in close proximity… not my problem. =)

    As to whether the early-20th-century bankers throwing their weight around the Old World were American… certainly these things are open to interpretation.

    Paul Moritz Warburg (August 10, 1868 – January 24, 1932) was an American investment banker born in Germany, and an early advocate of the U.S. Federal Reserve System.

    Thanks, Central Europe.

    On October 1, 1895, Warburg was married in New York City to Nina J. Loeb, daughter of Solomon Loeb, founder of the New York investment firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Co.The Warburgs were the parents of a son, James Paul Warburg, and a daughter, Bettina Warburg Grimson.


    James Paul Warburg (August 18, 1896 – June 3, 1969) was a German-born Bavarian-American banker. He was well known for being the financial adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt. His father was banker Paul Warburg, member of the Warburg family and “father” of the Federal Reserve system. After World War II, Warburg helped organize the Society for the Prevention of World War III in support of the Morgenthau Plan.

    Warburg left government in 1934, having come to oppose certain policies of the New Deal.

    His career’s nadir was mild and brief.

    He was opposed to political non-interventionism, however, and re-entered government service in 1941 as Special Assistant to the Coordinator of Information, William Joseph Donovan. In 1942, when propaganda responsibilities were transferred to the Office of War Information, he became its Overseas Branch Deputy Director.

    The Office of the Coordinator of Information and the Office of War Information, naturally, were both predecessor institutions of the State Department and CIA.

    Returning to the father:

    Although a major factor in German finance, after frequent business trips to New York Warburg settled there in 1902 as a partner in Kuhn, Loeb & Co., where the influential Jacob Schiff, his brother’s (Felix Warburg) father-in-law, was senior partner. Warburg remained a partner in the family firm in Hamburg, but he became a naturalized American citizen in 1911. He was a member of Temple Emanu-El in New York City.

    I can acknowledge that according to a certain viewpoint, despite his naturalization at 43 years of age, he was more American than many Americans.

    Kuhn, Loeb & Co., interestingly enough, was itself founded just two years after the Civil War.

    Abraham Kuhn:

    Abraham Kuhn (June 20, 1819 – May 30, 1892) was an American merchant and banker of German-Bavarian origins, a founding partner of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. of New York City, one of the great US investment banking firms of the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Solomon Loeb:

    Solomon Loeb (June 29, 1828 – December 12, 1903) was a German-born American banker and businessman. He was a merchant in textiles and later a banker with Kuhn, Loeb & Co.

    Poke a stick in the Wikipedian anthill and swirl it around. If I were to try to make it all up for a novel, I wouldn’t be able to match what are just the plain facts.

    Here’s another:

    Solomon Loeb, married Fanny Kuhn, sister of Abraham Kuhn, and later Betty Gallenberg[, producing (among other issue),] Therese Loeb (1854–1933), married Jacob Schiff (1847–1920), banker

    Jacob Schiff, of course:

    Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Schiff migrated to the United States after the American Civil War and joined the firm Kuhn, Loeb & Co.

    helped finance the expansion of American railroads and the Japanese [defeat of] Russia in the Russo-Japanese War

    His father, Moses Schiff, was a broker for the Rothschilds.

    Schiff was educated in the schools of Frankfurt and was first employed in the banking and brokerage business as an apprentice in 1861.

    He was elected a director of Wells Fargo in September 1914 to succeed his brother-in-law, Paul Warburg, who had resigned to accept appointment to the original Federal Reserve Board.

    [he personally gave 500 million inflation-adjusted dollars to vault the Bolsheviks to power]

    It just goes on and on.

    All in all, it seems to me that this particular clique came across the sea during the latter half of the 19th century, and had by the early 20th century developed enough influence to sponsor the execution of the Caesar in Imperial Russia and hypnotize political naïfs like Woodrow Wilson into both establishing a central bank on their behalf and obliterating the seat of Christendom.

    You know, maybe I’m just speaking for myself here, but if there’s one thing worthy of respect, it’s raw chutzpah∞.

    P.S. Here’s a little fun for the whole family:

    Notice in particular that Louis “first diverse member of the Supreme Court” Brandeis’s solution to the problem of too much economic centralization was, wait for it… the ultimate economic centralization.

  27. CVLR says:


    You make a lot of very good points. In particular: “Which argues that they had something, somewhere, that would have been as effective as what we dropped on Hiroshima.”

    I find that plausible, but there’s a hidden point in there. Are you suggesting that there may be something else, equally effective?

    Also, and paraphrasing: “V-2s, B-29s, I-400s”. Three very different delivery methods for possibly the very same thing. What would have been the relative power of each, do you think?

  28. Kirk says:

    CVLR, I really have no idea what they thought they had, or what they really did. But, from the bare outlines of what happened, I think that they were certainly operating under the idea that they had something that could have been delivered by the systems you list.

    Otherwise, the whole idea of something like the V-2 becomes an exercise in credulity. Seriously–A one-time use weapon, capable of delivering a little less than an ton of high explosives–At a cost per shot fired that was arguably at least the equivalent of a B-17 that could deliver more explosives multiple times…? Are we to believe that nobody in the Nazi hierarchy was getting briefed on these (then) science-fictional systems and then doing some minute-of-napkin math to go “Uhhhmmmm… Guys? Guys…? This doesn’t make any damn sense, at all…”.

    The Nazis were nuts. I’ll grant that. Were they really that nuts? Seriously–If you think I’m exaggerating things, go do some quick research on what the V-2 program cost the Germans, in terms of foodstuffs alone for the alcohol they used. It’s ‘effing mind-boggling. So mind-boggling that the outside premise of the system makes no damn sense, whatsoever.

    Which is why I am more than slightly open to the idea that they at least thought they had a war-winning city-buster to put on top of the damn things. The idea that they’d somehow merely rely on conventional explosives, and be able to lob enough of those damn things into London and other targets to do more than annoy the locals…? Flatly ludicrous. I’ll buy “insanity”, when we talk about the Nazis, but… That’s a level of “bugf**k nuts” that I just can’t wrap my head around.

    Of course, when you factor in all the things like the Maus tank, the insistence on running trains to keep the Holocaust going while the Allies were bombing the Fatherland flat, and… Well, yeah; maybe. But, it’s still really insane.

Leave a Reply