Why fight?

One of my favorite of the many conservative slogans printed on products sold at Protest Warrior is the one that says “Except for Ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, War Has Never Solved Anything.” To me, it’s always been self-evident that there are good wars, just as there are bad and pointless wars. And as the Protest Warriors’ slogan makes clear, good wars are those that use arms to destroy poisonous ideologies. In this regard, it’s important to note that these ideologies are themselves life destroying. That is, they’re not bad things that make people kind of sad. If that were the case, it would be difficult to justify blood shed as a means to destroy a merely depressing ideology. Instead, each of these horrible political systems has resulted in the deaths of millions or hundreds of millions of people. Even more significantly, the dead are not just those in the “enemy” nations countries in thrall to these ideologies attack to keep their citizens from focusing on their own misery. Instead, countries that have taken these dark paths routinely destroy their own citizens in huge numbers.

Given this reality (see, I’m a realist), I’ve never been able to understand the liberal mindset that says all wars are bad, without any exceptions. Historical evidence tells me that fatuous statement is just not true. Reading Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, however, has finally offered an explanation for this amazing world view, one American liberals clearly copy from their European mentors.

The lead-up to the following quoted material is a conversation Bawer had with two Dutchmen who sneered at America, including American involvement in WWII. As one Dutchman said, “The idea that America entered the war to defend the cause of freedom is a fiction.” To these Marxist infused Dutchman, America’s motive could only have been the spread of economic imperialism. Here’s Bawer’s conclusion on this subject (p. 93):

And yes, maybe that’s what being an American does come down to — a sentimentalism, about liberty among other things, that many Western Europeans just can’t fathom. If they’re so quick to ascribe purely economic motives to America’s involvement in World War II, perhaps it’s because those are the only reasons they can imagine their own country — itself once a major colonial power — ever having for involvement in a far-away war, or any war.

Sitting there with Niek and Tom, I realized that they were genuinely unable to comprehend a land whose people take liberty seriously enough to die for it. Indeed, for these two men who had been born only a decade or so after the Nazi occupation, worlds like “freedom” and “tyranny” hardly appear to have any real meaning at all. To talk of freedom, in their view, was simply to spout emotionally charged rhetoric that — either naively or with cynical calculation — sugarcoated the evil reality of capitalism.

Having looked at the way in which Europeans fail to understand the American approach to war, since they can only project their cynical values, erasing American idealism, Bawer, using Kosovo as a springboard, contemplates the practical implications of this outlook — and they are serious realities indeed, with profound consequences for American interests at home and abroad (p. 95):

In America, we feel obliged to do something about the Milosevics of this world. In a way, this need to set things right is, again, a kind of romanticism. What else (aside from a desire to avenge Pearl Harbor) can explain the alacrity with which we renounced the safety of isolationism in 1941 and committed ourselves to the fight against fascism in places far from home?

Western Europeans are different. For the, the Milosevics of the world, however monstrous, are also, quite simply, a fact of life. Nothing will ever end that. Get rid of one, and another will come along soon enough to take his place. They think of themselves as realists — but this isn’t realism; it’s fatalism. And (as I have since come to recognize, but didn’t then) it can shade into a strange, disturbing respect for dictators, a respect rooted in Europe’s own history tyranny.

Bawer’s understanding of European cynicism and passivity certainly explains a lot. I don’t have anything to add to it. Do you? (I do have some useful images, though.)


(Above) Image from Buchenwald, which the Americans liberated


(Above) Senator Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky, a member of a congressional committee investigating Nazi atrocities, views the evidence at first hand at Buchenwald concentration camp. Weimar, Germany. (These are the ones the Americans didn’t rescue in time.)


Slavery in America, ended by the Civil War. Slavery is still a chronic problem across the Muslim World (see this, for example).

16 Responses

  1. Europe is an exhausted civilization; it is unwilling and unable to defend itself or its principles. America is still vital, still self-consciously holds to its self-given raison d’etre, and remains optimistic despite the best intentions and machinations of our domestic left, which is in league with the European left.

    There are reasons the history of liberty and the history of England coincide, and that the patrimony of liberty has been passed to Americans. We are heirs to the common law tradition of England, a very great boon to us; the birth of our nation occurred in the early glow of the Enlightenment, the excesses of which we tempered by keeping hold of Christian belief; we are separated geographically from Europe, like England; our national character and mettle was tested and formed on a harsh frontier; no wonder in general we are ruggeed individualists with little patience for the weak milk of Euro-socialism. We love our freedom, and will not give up as easily as the Europeans have. At least I will not.

  2. Most people don’t know that Britain’s civilization came mostly from the Roman Legions stationed there. When Rome left, all kinds of problems developed for the Britons. Not least of all the Anglo-Saxons in the south and the Picts in the North.

    America’s traditions come in a line, mostly unbroken, through thousands of years of history.

  3. Europe’s freedoms are being eroded daily, a process to which most Europeans are oblivious. Europeans long ago became disenfranchised from their putative leaders and figured that they could get along their lives just as well be ignoring what “they”, the politicians, were doing to them. If things got out of hand…well, they could just take to the streets. This is in part what Bawer meant by “While Europe Slept”. I know because I lived through that. Hopefully, Americans still have enough of a sense of community and civic responsibility that we would never let ourselves get sold out by our politicians with a Gallic shrug. Looking at the Democrat/Left, I know that they would do unto us as the Eurabians have done to Europe. For me, America is the last refuge, there’s no where left to run and the only solution that remains is to fight for the liberty that we still remains to us through civic discourse, one person at a time.

  4. Aye, conservatives (those who enthusiastically promoted slavery, fascism, nazism and authoritarianism in general) only respond to force. They are evil, our blogmistress included.

  5. Roger Simon was telling me that labels are dangerous. He was right. In the wrong hands, Greg, they can be used to pervert meaning. Don’t do that. It makes you look silly.

  6. It makes g look like a target to me. In my hands…

    I mean seriously, even after all the abuse Book has taken from g over the many months, she is still trying to help him. If that’s evil, sign me up, cause that is something to claw through hell for.

  7. “conservatives (those who enthusiastically promoted slavery, fascism, nazism and authoritarianism in general) only respond to force. They are evil, our blogmistress included.”

    Greg, slavery was fought for by Democrats (Lincoln was a Republican), Nazism was creed of the German National Socialist Party, and authoritarian and fascist regimes have been comprised most notably of Socialists and Communists. Just which conservatives do you think are evil exactly?

  8. Hmmm…Greg: Conservatives represent individual liberty (and responsibility), localized power and small government. Fascists, Nazis (National Socialists) and Communists support strong, centralized government,government control over the economy and social engineering to achieve a “moral” human being. The Democrat/Left supports…

  9. In Book’s article, the attitudes of the young leftists Niek and Tom:
    ” To talk of freedom, in their view, was simply to spout emotionally charged rhetoric that — either naively or with cynical calculation — sugarcoated the evil reality of capitalism.”

    I identify with these two young men. Before 9-11, my main concern was with the existing social order, and how resistant it was to change. I was more of a populist and individual-rights guy than a socialist, but the evils were of those in the power structure. Then came the wake up call of 9-11.

    I realized: “There are people out there who want to kill me! Who want to kill tens of millions like me!” I had thought the world was civilized except for a few dark alleys; now I thought the world was still mostly savagery, and civilization is fragile, always in danger of being swamped by tides of savagery throughout this world that remains mostly uncivilized.

    These two young men rejected the lesson of 9-11. (As has ‘G’.) That’s their right.

    For them the true enemy is still the internal power structure, “The Man”. And since the enemy of my enemy is my friend, they embrace what the radical jihadists offer: a severe shaking of the enemy power structure. They are blind to the threat of the Islamic jihadists and they will minimize that threat constantly. They are blind to the fact that the Islamic jihadists stand for EVERYTHING that leftists oppose.

    The leftists should see, in the radical Islamist jihadists, the personification of every evil that has ever existed in leftist philosophy. EVERY evil! But they cannot see it. Because the jihadists are the enemy of the “true enemy”, and therefore the jihadists are their friends.

  10. That was perhaps too pointed to be fair. The jihadists are the leftists “temporarily useful allies”, not friends, but that’s the main point of the saying, really.

    “The War On Terror Is Just a Bumper Sticker.” Sound familiar? The real enemy is the creator of those bumper stickers, the evil power structure within America itself. Is it any wonder that we on the right view the leftists as deeply unAmerican, and hateful of America?

    To be fair: How many of us on the right view the left as a worse threat to America than the Islamic jihadists? Mother Sheehan, the NY Times, the NBC media conglomerate, Hollywood liberals, the vast cadre of leftists professors in the universities… I hope a huge majority of us on the right view the jihadists as the worst enemy by far; but I’m not certain that that is true of us.

    I view our left vs right struggles as internal squabbling, and I don’t understand how we cannot compromise, how we cannot vote every so often and accept the resultant American meandering of vision, confident that in the end we will eventually get it right, together. And then return to our endless internal squabbling.

  11. There is a domestic insurgency and there is a foreign insurgency, Mike. Both are important and both affect the other.

    It is not a question of which is more dangerous or which is more powerful. There have been numerous times in our past that the strong fortification that could not be breached by the besieging barbarian army outside, had a traitor inside that was weaker than both yet still opened the gates for the barbarians. Weakness and strength are not the ultimate deciding factors for victory or defeat.

  12. People here or everywhere else often complain about how Iraqis place sectarian strife and loyalty above loyalty to country. This is exactly the same thing that the Left and their allies place top loyalty on.

    So why do people bicker and so forth? Because that is how humans are. Civilization is no cure for it. Neither is wealth, power, or knowledge.

  13. […] you to read it. It also, right off the bat, highlighted something I touched upon in my early “Why Fight?” post — which is a question about what we’re defending when we fight. I pointed […]

  14. […] you to read it. It also, right off the bat, highlighted something I touched upon in my early “Why Fight?” post — which is a question about what we’re defending when we fight. I pointed out in that […]

  15. Courtesy of Phileosophos


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