Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Blooper Tuesday

We live in historic times, and very few examples from history can fail to resonate in some way with current events. I found retracing of the Battle of Yorktown with Steve especially relevant.

On October 19, 1781, Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered his forces to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, marking the end of America's struggle for independence. Britain's defeat in this battle was partly the result of a lengthy campaign that involved skilled application of guerillas tactics by the Americans and a brilliant joint and combined force operation conducted by American and French land and maritime forces. It also came about because of the pitiable foreign policies of King George of England and the arrogance and incompetence of his titled general officers.

Whatever line may have once demarked American foreign policies from domestic ones has vanished, probably forever. We cannot possibly address our internal woes effectively without some sort of workable solution to the overseas fiasco our Unitary George has created, but I'm somewhat pessimistic that the majority of our leading presidential hopefuls can provide that solution.

John McCain gives the promise of more war, even though war has devolved over the Bush decade into a degenerative tool of foreign policy. All Mitt Romney seems offer is a chance bribe the rest of the world into cooperating with us from his personal fortune, but even his pockets aren't deep enough to pull off a stunt like that. As best I can tell, the crux of Mike Huckabee's foreign policy plan involves having Chuck Norris beat up anybody who doesn't do what we tell them to, and I fear Hillary Clinton will still be explaining how she didn't really vote for the war in Iraq she voted for even as she explains how she didn’t really promise to get us out of it.

That leaves one viable candidate who might have a chance of hauling us out of the sand trap we've hooked our way into. So far, Barack Obama's taste in foreign policy advisers (like Zbigniew Brzezinski) seems impeccable. Let's just hope we never hear of him hunkering down with the likes of Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan.


Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) will be available April 1, 2008.


  1. Anonymous9:57 AM


    That John McCain is being advised by Henry Kissinger --- scares the living h*** out of a lot of folks, including me.

    Howard Dean, obviously, was right. The Democrats were competitive in all 50 states in the Super Tuesday Primary.

    It is amazing to see Republicans behaving like Democrats used to behave -- with all the "infighting", and it is somewhat gratifying to see Democrats seemingly united.

    Should be an interesting election season.

  2. I went for Obama, for the very reasons you outlined. As someone pointed out elsewhere, Obama could really help himself in a lot of ways if he would sound out Jim Webb for a potential VP. Cart before the horse, yes, but think about Webb's background and broad appeal.

    Oh, slightly off-topic:

    Right on cue (at Google News), obscured or obliterated by Super Tuesday coverage:

    Al Qaeda seen planning attack on US
    Washington Times - 2 hours ago
    By Sara A. Carter CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told the Senate intelligence panel yesterday that his agency had resorted to waterboarding while interrogating three high-level al Qaeda members.
    Three were waterboarded, CIA chief confirms Los Angeles Times
    Pakistan Is Threatened, Intelligence Chief Says Washington Post
    all 586 news articles...

    The timing of these news revelations, and the related fear-mongering, is, of course, purely coincidental.

  3. Yep,Anon McCain and Kissinger--the Nuclear Sunshine Boys. Man. Scary, huh kids?


    Yeah, I caught that this morning. I wonder how that jibes with YMB's claim that "al Qaeda is on the run."


    I know you had no dark intentions with that last remark, but it didn't read well, so I had to take it down.



  4. Anonymous7:34 PM

    With all due respect -which is considerable and freely given- I believe you are selling Clinton short.

    Regardless of her vote on Iraq, I read her as a very sharp, serious thinker who understands the complex situation that Iraq is for the US, both domestically and abroad.

    Its a tough spot for anybody to be in. Nobody in all of foreign policy pundit land is sure of the answers.

    I suspect the Pentagon will have a huge say in all of it and well, they don't exactly go around gossiping. The next Prez, regardless of their personal feelings going in, will be faced with new hard realities in the form of National Security and Pentagon briefs. Perhaps more than any one of the other contendah's I believe Hillary will consider them with sincerity and earnestness.

    Her vote on Iraq will mean little in that context. YMMV.

  5. Fred,

    Thanks for the link.


    Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing them.


  6. I am sure that either Obama or Clinton will do well on foreign policy.

    I am much more concerned on how they would dig us out of the hole that Bush has put us in domestically. My grandchildren and yours will be paying for our tax cuts and for Bush's war for the net 50 years. The Saudis and Chinese are going to own us lock, stock and barrel.

  7. PS -

    JH - I am sure that as an old sea dog you have sailed past Cape Henry many times. But I hope on your tour of Yorktown that you sailed out five miles past the Cape or at least contemplated that site of Admiral de Grasse's victory over the British fleet that was trying to support Cornwallis.

    They say English ships were faster and they had the advantage of wind and tide. But their Admiral frittered their advantage away with indecision, bad signalling, and bickering with his subordinate admirals.

    Admiral de Grasse graciously gave the credit for the French victory to one of his squadron commanders, Commodore Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who was also a renowned explorer. Bougainville's ship, the Auguste, took 54 hits in the hull and seventy in the rigging but stayed in the middle of the action.


  8. wkmaier6:52 AM


    Sorry about that, I can't recall what I posted, so no harm no foul?

  9. WK,

    LOL, like I said, I know you didn't mean anything negative by it.


    Funny you should bring up the Battle of the Chesapeake. I live about two miles from Cape Henry, which is also the site of the first landing of English settlers (the Jamestown expedtion). The site is on Fort Story, and one of the first things I took Steve to see was the small memorial they have there, which includes a statue of Comte de Grasse. Like I said, the Yorktown victory was the result of a remarkably sophisticated joint/combined force campaign, and, as you point out, laziness and incompetence on the part of British generals and admirals.


  10. Anonymous7:06 AM

    Your quote, the header across the top of your website - regarding no nation benefitting from "prolonged war." May I suggest - pick up a copy of the non-fiction book, "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klien? You don't even have to start at the beginning - (if you know the theory and the economics of Milton Friedman. You can begin your reading at Chapter 14. You may also get some additional insight into why a lot of bright young men and women are resigning their commissions from our military academies.

    Some in my family were Navy in WWII. My Uncle retired as a Lt. Commander, USN - Air Force. He also was awarded the DFC. (We found out at his service at Arlinton.) NONE of my family who have served, and all of whom are now gone -- would serve in the present day military.

    Obviously there is HUGE PROFIT in endless war. Not to those who fight and sacrifice, but to the corporations to whom billions are awarded annually, to "support our troops."

  11. First time commenter.

    I am an Obama supporter, but have been concerned with his foreign policy credentials.

    I am fairly sure I know that of McCains and Hillary, and the types of individuals they will surround themselves with.

    But here is a question that you can help me with.

    IMHO Obama would unleash a message of Hope around the world. This is a very powerful message - stronger than a Carrier Group; stronger than the 'bomb.' It is a quintesseciatal American message, that transcends borders.

    Do you see a World less stable with an Obama Presidency; albeit it with the advancement of human Liberty, than a status quo foreign policy?

    I say this because a message of Hope has that enormous power, and America is already struggling with Islamic Terror, and an expensive error in Iraq.

    Are we in a position to come to the aid, of grass root civil uprisings, as we have seen in Myanmar?


  12. It is indeed very hopeful that Obama is interested in the measured thinking of a man like Brzezinski. It is time to abandon the "Holy Crusade" foreign policy of the present and return to a foreign policy based on real national interest and rationally calculated means to obtain and sustain those interests.

    Obama went big here in Washington primarily because of a well-organized push by his campaign to turn out college students and similarly situated individuals to attend the caucuses. Paul also had a similar strategy (on a smaller scale) and nailed more than 1/5 of the delegates on the Republican side.

    I just hope Obama is ready for the Republican smear machine (and ready to be out-spent on media 3 to 1). One matter that has always made be a little uncomfortable about Obama is that he has no readily apparent skeletons. I hope that remains so.

    Meanwhile, Huckabee is looking to be the Republican vice-presidential nominee. There's been a noticeable toning down of the rhetoric with respect to McCain and Huckabee. Usually, such courtship has a purpose.

    We shall see ...

  13. We'll see indeed, John. I'll have more on the presidential race tomorrow.


  14. John:

    Rezko and Wright are the potential smear links for Obama. Not sure what else is there but he is a darn good fundraiser. That will raise questions.

    Mark Sanford or Bob Riley will be McCain's running mate, not Huckabee.

  15. Jim,

    Reporter grilled Riley on a walk-and-talk when McCain came to visit here; Riley didn't want to talk about it. I expect we'll hear his name come up again soon, if only as speculation.

    I don't think the state party wants to give him up here -- they'd be conceding the Gov. to a Dem, Jim Folsom Jr., in the interim. And they're working double-OT right now to make the state Senate (the real power branch here) R-dominated.

    Check out Danny's page here for the betting line here in AL!

    But, Riley can't run again next time by law.

  16. Ive dropped Ron Paul and am now backing Sen. Obama.

    Whenever somebody dogs France I love bringing up the fact that the French had more ground forces at Yorktown than the Rebels. And without the Sea blocked, well you know....

    I really need to visit the Battlefield someday. I live near Antietam and have studied that Battle extensively.

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