Taranto wants "deranged," then let him take a look at Max
Boot's "This Victory May Haunt Us," which ran in the November
14  edition of the Wall Street Journal. Subtitled
still requires getting bloody," this paean to the virtues
of bloodletting makes the monstrous argument that America
suffered too few casualties in the Afghan war for our
is not a war being won with American blood and guts. It is
being won with the blood and guts of the Northern Alliance,
helped by copious quantities of American ordnance and a handful
of American advisers. After Sept. 11, President Bush promised
that this would not be another bloodless, push-button war,
but that is precisely what it has been."
MAX AND THE
to see "blood and guts" and won't be satisfied with anything
less. Now, one might expect to see this coming out
of some grizzled old General, a vet who's seen hand-to-hand
combat, in any case someone with military experience. So who
is Max Boot, anyway and why does he imagine that the lack
of casualties could or would ever "come back to haunt" anyone
but the Marquis de Sade?
WHO IS MAX
A one line
bio at the bottom of his bloodcurdling piece gives no details
regarding Boot's credentials except to note that he is "The
Wall Street Journal's editorial features editor." Thanks
to the miracle of Google, however, we learn that Boot
is a 32-year-old punk who was snapped up by the Wall Street
Journal to rule over their editorial page features at
the tender age of 28. In a lengthy 1998
interview Boot gave to Brian Lamb, for Booknotes,
we learn that Boot's profile is that of the perfect armchair
warrior: instead of boot camp, this guy went to Yale and Berkeley.
If he's so gung ho, why doesn't he volunteer? I'm sure
with a few hundred hours of training he could (barely) pass
the physical, and, in his case, we'll make an exception and
skip the psychological testing….
A NEW RULE
To top it
off, it turns out Boot isn't even a native-born American,
having emigrated here from Russia with his family in 1976.
Pardon my "xenophobia," but isn't it a little, uh, pushy
for immigrants to start wishing for more American casualties
in foreign wars? I don't mind them coming here I'm having
Second Thoughts about immigration but, once we let them
in, I think we should institute a rule: please, no warmongering.
Street Journal editor Robert Bartley and a few of his
editorial sidekicks showed up
on the Nightly Business Report the other day, bloviating
about the war, Stuart Varney read the above quote by Boot
on the sad lack of American deaths and said:
"Forgive me for saying this, and I know Max is a great
guy, but he seems to be saying it's not a real victory unless
we, America, shed some blood. And I'm shocked at that."
such a nice guy that he has no idea of the evil right in front
of his eyes. Bloodlust shocks him, as it does most Americans
(at least the native-born ones. Cruelty and lack of regard
for human life is not yet characteristic of American
life). But perhaps Varney was merely feigning innocence, and
his remarks were really meant to be ironical. Lew
Rockwell has dubbed Bartley and his crew the "War Street
Journal" and that about says it all. Is there a war, anywhere,
that they haven't supported, and, more, demanded that
we escalate? Is there a place, anywhere on earth, they consider
outside our rightful concern or jurisdiction? From Kuwait
to Kosovo to Kandahar, they agitated for war and, when it
came, they fanned its embers when the flames appeared to be
dying out, hoping, demanding, cajoling, and finally denouncing
the administration (any and all administrations) for losing
its nerve and failing to go "all the way" to Baghdad, to
Belgrade, to wherever the call of Empire takes us.
AND YOUR POINT
clearly embarrassed, could only manage to blurt out: "Yes,
well, [Boot] wants to make a point." Not that Bartley was
prepared to defend it, or even explain it. Paul Gigot ventured
that "He has a certain point, that maybe some of the world
thinks we're not serious," but distanced himself from the
rather more sinister overtones of Boot's ode to "blood and
guts" by averring that the world does take us seriously.
Obviously, Bartley agreed with Boot, but was too cowardly
to come out in public and say so.
perhaps it was Dorothy Rabinowitz, a WSJ columnist,
who reminded Varney of Boot's bloodlust. Earlier in the interview,
Varney had asked her,
are the Taliban fleeing with civilians. Should we bomb them?
Should we strafe them? Should we kill them? What are the politics
RABINOWITZ: "I would say, you know, we are in war
and I think we should be bombing and killing and strafing."
THE NEW SADISM
Is it something
in the water cooler over at the WSJ? Yes, I know how close
they were to Ground Zero and everyone in New York has been
traumatized, but is this really the voice of American business
that we are hearing or only the deranged rantings of people
driven mad by a combination of tragic circumstances and ideological
fixations? This unrestrained sadism is really very ugly, and,
yes, I know "everything has changed," but things haven't changed
that much or, they will over my dead body.
WHEN IN ROME
If the sheer
enjoyment of death has now become a public habit one indulged
not only by madmen, but also by the mighty editors of a great
metropolitan newspaper then I have to wonder about the
degraded state of our culture. America is often compared to
ancient Rome by conservatives, who point to the general decline
in morality and especially sexual mores among the Romans as
the reason for the decline and fall of their empire. But the
true decadence of Imperial Rome was the spectacle of what
they enjoyed: not mere sensuality, but sheer cruelty,
on display in the arena. This is what we are seeing in the
neo-imperialists, or the worst of them: like the decadent
Romans, they revel in bloodlust for its own sake. This is
arrogance mixed with hubris and the worship of power, a sadistic
perversion alien to all that is normal and, well, American;
certainly it is a perversion of conservatism.
MAX BOOT, MACHO
circles, the disappointment that the war is coming to a conclusion,
militarily, so swiftly is palpable, not the least in Boot's
furious imprecation hurled at his fellow adopted countrymen
for not being willing nay, eager to suffer. "The
war in Afghanistan," he complains, "will do nothing to dispel
the widespread impression that Americans are fat, indolent,
and unwilling to fight the barbarians on their own terms."
This is no ordinary call for vengeance, or even a call to
escalate the war in order to achieve some tangible objective:
we have something to prove to Bin Laden. Not to avenge
the victims of 9/11 but to assert... what? Our collective
manhood? or is that "personhood"?
we have left the daylit world of ideology and descended into
the darkest realms of psychopathology, where terms such as
sadism and dominance are more applicable than
the political categories of "right" and "left." Aside from
the fact that very few of these ultra-hawks have ever
served in the military, the leitmotif of our armchair generals
is that their private neuroses and anxieties are reenacted
on the stage of world politics. Given the sadistic theme of
Boot's little essay, it is not hard to see how this works
in his case, since the theme of cruelty is constant throughout,
if we do not show soon that American soldiers can wage sustained
ground combat that we can practice the cruel art of warfare
as relentlessly as our ancestors did we may pay a heavy
price later on."
By this sort of logic, then, US policy must
be to wage war with clocklike regularity, since we must
have a little bloodletting every so often, just to prove to
the rest of the world that American soldiers can wage sustained
ground combat. You know, like our ancestors did….
Whose ancestors is Boot talking about? Does he mean his ancestors
in Russia? If so, then he may have a point: cruelty and war
are the twin leitmotifs of that unfortunate nation's history.
Regard for human life has never been a characteristic of Oriental
despotism: it is, however, an important value in the West,
perhaps the top value which defines our civilization.
Which is why Boot's essay is a disgrace.
A NEW LOW
No, we didn't
need No-talent Taranto to tell us that the War Street Journal
is hardly a libertarian bastion. But this bewailing the lack
of body-bags on their way home to grieving families is a new
low, even for them, one that is eerily disturbing.
of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print
classic study of Old Right conservatives, Prophets on the
Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism.
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