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Korean military ‘assistance’? No thanks

By caving into the demands by the Taliban to get their troops out of Afghanistan in return for the return of South Korean hostages, the Korean government simply entourages more of the same tactic. Clearly the US seriously erred accepting military ‘assistance’ from Korea given that the South Korean government are not just utterly craven, they seem to have no concept of cause and effect. The only way to demotivate hostage taking is to respond in the opposite manner to what is being demanded.

If I was the US government I would be making a simultaneous complete withdrawal of US forces from South Korea, timed to coincide with the departure of Koreans forces from Afghanistan. Quite why a wealthy nation like South Korea requires US forces to keep its psychopathic neighbour at bay is unclear anyway. Perhaps this incident will shake loose any residual attachment to the value of subsidising South Korea’s defences in the minds of US taxpayers and politicians. There are parts of the world that it may well suit the US to defend but surely South Korea is more that wealthy enough to look after itself given how primitive North Korea is.

54 comments to Korean military ‘assistance’? No thanks

  • Nolan

    As someone who spent a fair amount of time in South Korea as a US Armed Forces member I can tell you that we aren’t there keeping the North Koreans from coming south, we are there to keep the South Koreans from going north. They (South Korean Command) want to cross the DMZ so bad that it is all they talk about, unfortunately, China has made it clear that if they do cross they will back the North Koreans. We (US military) are simply over there holding onto the South Korean leash.

  • And if there are no US troops in South Korea when that happens, it is hard to see what China’s political justification would be for intervening in a Korean ‘domestic’… so pulling out is a win-win strategy,

  • Midwesterner

    China’s political justification

    They worry about that sort of thing? I thought that was just a western thing. :-)

    Besides, nothing would happen until after the Olympics anyway. And when it did, it would blow China’s cover as ‘trustworthy’. That alone would be worth something.

    I think whenever and wherever it suits us (US), we should demand a local referendum on our continued presence. If the population says leave, then let’s leave. And let’s make sure they understand that doesn’t mean “until you need us again”.

  • NOTICE: I had to delete a comment (which might have been two comments) as there seems to be a glitch causing one comment to run into another. I think it is fixed but apologies if any comments have been lost.

  • Mid: why a ‘Korean’ referendum? You really want to ask Koreans if they want someone else to pay for their defence? They are not Iraq or Afghanistan and have the money and technology to defend themselves (it is hard to see how they would not ream the North in any war).

    Also, although I am not sure I accept what Nolan claims is indeed the case, if it is then the sooner the US gets out the better. If the US presence is actually preventing the overthrow of the most brutal regime in the world (by a big margin), then the US presence is truly monstrous.

  • Midwesterner

    I think a lot of nations in the world are happily bashing the US while ‘knowing’ we won’t let them down. I am a bluff caller of long standing. And if they unexpectedly asked us to stay, I do not mind (and see some distinct advantages to) the US exchanging defense services for equal value. Such a referendum would be a start toward reassessing what we are getting in return.

    To perhaps my personal shortcoming, I am not real strong on the idea we must rescue the populations of places like NK. I think that we may, but not that we must. I think the real factor in the US’s calculations in Asia must remain China for the foreseeable future.

  • To perhaps my personal shortcoming, I am not real strong on the idea we must rescue the populations of places like NK.

    Actually I was arguing that if Nolan is correct, the US is preventing the rescue of the population of NK, which is monstrous.

  • Steevo

    It is well documented South Korea’s billions in aid to the North and we all know who control’s that.

    They were intending to take their aid workers out ofAfghanistan anyway and I can imagine there’s a heck of a lot of domestic pressure on the government to agree to the Talaban’s demands. I wonder if the Christians would be for this and not chose the sacrifice as they must have considered that possibility in the name of their God.

    There’s no question this will be viewed as a victory for hostage-taking and radical Islamists. For all intent South Korea has gone the way of Spain.

    I think the real factor in the US’s calculations in Asia must remain China for the foreseeable future. I agree.

    It wasn’t until well into 2006 South Korean citizens regularly burned US flags and wanted us out. Only after Kim Jong-Il continued nuclear tests was his madman rhetoric finally taken serious. There is growing awareness in the US that time has come to bring our personnel home. I would think this would make a solid campaign issue for our aspiring presidential candidates.

    A side note: Taliban forces ambushed American and Afghan troops in Kandahar province today. They killed one Afghan soldier and wounded three others, but lost over 100 men.

  • Midwesterner

    Not having much faith in the assumption that China will stay out if the US does, I put a pretty deep discount on any plan that relies on them to. If they in fact would, then our presence is ‘monstrous’, I just can’t stretch my mind far enough to believe China will ever hesitate to expand empire. If it could be believably assured …

  • Midwesterner

    “I wonder if the Christians would be for this and not chose the sacrifice as they must have considered that possibility in the name of their God.”

    Certainly that is true of the Christian missionaries I know. (Which is quite a few.)

  • Hank Scorpio

    I’ve spent a year in Korea, and never have I encountered a more irrational, headstrong, ingrateful people.

    I agree with Perry; pull the hell out. Most Koreans deeply resent America, even though their current way of life was made entirely possible because of our blood. The current situation we’re in is like letting your 35 year old son still sponge off of you, at a certain point you have the cut the cord.

  • Laura

    Amen, Hank Scorpio! I’ve been teaching English as a Second language at a university here in Chicago for 9 years, and the majority of my students have always been South Korean, so I’ve gotten to know many of them very well.

    The older generation (forties and up) are reasonably pro-US and marginally realistic, but I’ve found anyone younger than that to be the worst kind of pacificsts– unwilling to have their country fight with any other, no matter how matter how cruel, oppressive, totalitarian, or threatening. They steadfastly believe that no good could ever result of war, even a war defending themselves, and believe the US is foolishly aggressive to be so militaristic and interfering with other nations.

    This crap makes my blood boil. If ever there were a perfect example of a good result of war, it’s their own goddamn nation. I ache to tell my students, “You know those people a few miles away being starved, imprisoned, brainwashed, and tortured by the millions? Those people who aren’t allowed to travel to other countries, own cell phones and computers, choose what job they want, vote, go to church, use the Internet, and speak freely– the way you do? That would be you, if it hadn’t been for the militaristic, interfering U.S.”

    One time I had a conversation with a youngish student, trying to politely point some of this out to her. She agreed that life is is terrible in the North, and she would like to see the North free and reunited with the South. When I told her that the North will never let that happen, that it would take soldiers and fighting to do it, she shook her head and said, “Oh, we South Koreans hate war, so we think America should do the fighting for that.”

    I knew, of course, that nearly every younger South Korean thought this way, but I was aghast that one would think it acceptable to actually say it out loud, to an American. Shameless. Like all pacifists, they see their cowardice as righteously refraining from nasty violence, and believe it’s their right to have others die to defend them.

    And why shouldn’t they? That’s exactly the mindset we’ve fostered and indulged in them for fifty-odd years.

    We should get out. Now. I don’t even care anymore if it actually does result in the North and/or China moving in. I can’t stand the idea of our spending another dime to protect a people who can’t be bothered to protect themselves. And who think we’re barbarians for doing so.

  • South Korean troops in Vietnam had to be held back. They were very good, very rough and very efficient. I woul not want to take them on… The Taliban shoud be glad they were already leaving before they took the hostages.

    I do not underestimate either the S.Koreans when it comes to unconventional warfare. If the S. Koreans sent a few tigers to have a chat with the Taliban it would probably be a good thing. Might even save a few lives.

  • Aside from the issues with N/S Korea, there might be some advantages to having military bases a couple of hundred miles from China, and right on the Yellow Sea.

  • Alice

    Interesting discussion, which may prefigure a larger debate in the interminable US Presidential campaign. If Mrs. Rodham-Clinton and her ilk think that US forces should be pulled out of Iraq, what is the argument for keeping US forces in Korea? The US certainly does not want to get involved in another civil war!

    Time for the rest of the world to start thinking through how they will adjust to a world without a US foreign military presence. Because it is probably coming.

    Then it is only time before some left-wing intellectual in the US comes up with the idea of Unilateral Assured Destruction. Basically, in the event of a terrorist attack on US soil with a weapon of mass destruction, all governments which

    might

    have contributed will be turned into Trinitite — are you listening, Iran, Pakistan, etc? Since no American servicemen would die in the process, it would presumably be a very attractive option for a future Saint Hillary administration.

  • tranio

    when the Koreans were kidnapped, Korea should have put in 10,000 fighting troops as well as the 200 non fighters they have there now.

  • Mr Tran

    @AndyJ- you are completely right about ROK soldiers. I was trained in Tae Kwon Do program from South Korean soldiers in Vietnam during the war. As a teenager I remember their disciplined soldiers fondly. If you embraced what they told you do and didn’t care about the hardship(or Injury, we were young we could take it), you became pretty good in general ass kicking. They were very harsh and disciplined people even by East Asian standards. Also keep in mind that the ROK really only sent it best units in Vietnam. That may partially explain their success.

    After escaping to America after the war as a refugee, i am rather disillusioned and angry at the current generation of South Korean for their cheap anti Americanism and overall pussyness. I don’t know if this generation could produce the same crop of soldiers like ROK in Vietnam in any decent numbers. I guess generations of military welfare, breakneck prosperity and US dependence gives way to foulmouthed, useless children.

  • Julian Taylor

    Aside from the issues with N/S Korea, there might be some advantages to having military bases a couple of hundred miles from China, and right on the Yellow Sea.

    Like … Taiwan perhaps?

    If, heavens forbid, the talks between North and South Korea should break down one wonders where South Korea would stand. Having demonstrated that they will cave in to external threats and extortions, could they expect more from their less charming Northern neighbour? I’m sure Kim wouldn’t have a problem with abduction and hostage-taking – after all it worked just fine for his father.

  • Nick M

    Julian,
    Bang-on. The only real substantive action the NORKS have taken against ROK (& allies) is kidnap which is exactly what ROK has caved-in over in the ‘stan.

    Of course, the ROK can defend itself. I’ve seen NORK military propaganda and it’s all MiG-17s and T-62s and generalized iron-mongery from the depths of the Cold War. And how long do you reckon before the first NORK battalion decides the game is not worth the candle and defects en masse?

    Laura, I’m not surprised you’re pissed with ‘em. I once had to teach a bunch of Russians and they were dissing the USA at every opportunity (they were making opportunities – I was teaching maths for GMAT). They even had a go over the US/UK Afghan adventure saying (and I kid you not) that Russia would never carry out such an illegal war! The Chinese were almost worse. They never said they didn’t understand something. Frequently they didn’t but you would never get them to admit it. Maybe they thought I had the power to stick ‘em in a gulag for not being able to factor a quadratic or something.

    I say the Chinese were “almost” worse. The absolute worst was a Russian. He was completely pig-ignorant of maths and seemed to revel in it. He was utterly unteachable. When he got something wrong (which was most of the time) he would claim that he was using “Russian mathematical logic” which was different to “Your English logic” and superior. Throw him out of the class? I almost defenestrated the smug bastard. I didn’t because (a) I would get ten years (b) “English logic” would get it’s revenge because there was more chance of me dancing the lead at the Bolshoi in Swan Lake than him getting into (his avowed goal) University of Chicago Business School for an MBA.

  • Roger Clague

    The Chinese were almost worse. They never said they didn’t understand something. Frequently they didn’t but you would never get them to admit it. Maybe they thought I had the power to stick ‘em in a gulag for not being able to factor a quadratic or something.

    I have taught Chinese students and they would never admit to not knowing something because of the fear of appearing to losing ‘face’, especially to a non-Chinese person.

  • Lets get out. Maybe the north will attack the south. Maybe the south will attack the north. Maybe neither. None of these problems are American problems. Let them solve their problems, we have problems of our own.

    As Cartman says “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

  • Praxis

    Lets get out. Maybe the north will attack the south. Maybe the south will attack the north. Maybe neither. None of these problems are American problems. Let them solve their problems, we have problems of our own.

    Sure, the US government’s army and airforce should get out, no argument there.

    But as someone who also lives in America and so gets called “an American”, I am not sure what “American” problems are. I know what my problems are. Personally I care about as much what Rich Paul’s problems are as he does about the problems of people in Korea. Why should the fact we both get taxed by the same bastards make his problems, or anyone else’s problems, of any more interest to me just because he is American? I’m happy to defend my little corner of Utah and that’s it. Just askin’

  • Midwesterner

    China will do what ever serves their ends. If we get out, we need to factor that into our plans. If it is okay for American security to allow that to happen, then fine. But let’s not pretend that China is into reciprocity.

    I’m sure China has a Monroe Doctrine of their own.

  • No Kimchee Please

    Mid, South Korea is not Tibet and personally I don’t rate the Chinese army and their airforce is a bad joke. More importantly however China would pay a huge and lasting political price and cause all Asia to start arming themselves to the teeth if they attacked South Korea. Also they have never actually threatened South Korea’s territory so the notion they would just roll in if the US pulled out is a bit fanciful.

    If the South attacked the North, things might change but I think Nolan is completely wrong to think there’s much support for that in the South (I’m Canadian and lived in Seoul for a couple years. Although I am married to a Korean, I can’t say I much care for Korea myself).

  • Sunfish

    Let’s say, hypothetically, that No Kimchee Please is wrong and that China actually will pose a threat to the ROK.

    What is the threat to a vital US interest? If our cheap appliances and cars have to be Japanese brands made in Malaysia, rather than Hyundai/Daewoo/Samsung, how badly will that hurt?

    I don’t see how defending the ROK (or Germany, for that matter) is a vital US interest anymore. It may have been at one point, but now we’re wasting a lot of money defending people who may or may not need it and who resent the hell out of us. As an individual in that position, dealing with resentful individuals, it’s frustrating. On the scale of nation-states is downright maddening.

  • J

    “It may have been at one point, but now we’re wasting a lot of money defending people who may or may not need it and who resent the hell out of us.”

    Oh, I don’t think you’re wasting it. Withdraw from Europe completely, and who knows, those European countries might get serious about defence. They might start building armies and getting willing to use them. And last I checked, Europe and the US don’t see eye to eye about foreign affairs. Why would you want to encourage such people to have bigger armed forces?

    Or, to put it another way, people who rely on you entirely for defense and dislike you, are a lot less of a problem that people who don’t rely on you at all for defense, have big modern armies, and dislike you.

  • Midwesterner

    Sunfish has my priorities pegged.

    Something that NoKimPlease as well as others should keep in mind is that yesterday is not today.

    Example: China’s military budget only includes 1/3 of the categories of expenditure that are in the US budget. And yet it is 10% the size of the US military budget. China defense contractors do not pay union scale, do not meet OSHA regs, do not etc etc etc. It is easy to imagine that China gets 3 times as much on the money as the Pentagon does. Those two things taken together equals 3 x 3 for what they are acquiring in real terms. Now add to that they are not carrying on wars in two separate nations and maintaining a huge and (comparatively) highly paid standing presence all over the world.

    It is not difficult to make a reasonable case that China could be making a bigger investment in military than the USA.

  • Nolan

    “If the South attacked the North, things might change but I think Nolan is completely wrong to think there’s much support for that in the South (I’m Canadian and lived in Seoul for a couple years. Although I am married to a Korean, I can’t say I much care for Korea myself).”

    Sorry, I should’ve clarified what I said earlier. I don’t think (and I didn’t see a lot of support for it from the civilian population) that everyone in South Korea wants to go North. But the idea of “going North” has a lot of support in the ROK military upper echelons. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that their military hardware is light years ahead of anything in North Korea and they are itching to use it.

  • RAB

    A very good point Mid.
    China is indeed getting much more bangs for its bucks than the USA.
    Plus they have the economic card to play.
    How many trillions of US dollars do they hold, that if push came to shove they could unload and destabalise?
    Some folk are playing a long game and others short.
    Guess which we are?

  • Paul Marks

    This is all part of the internal political struggle in the Republic of Korea.

    The leftist government is (as always) trying to find a way to use antiAmericanism against the Grand National Party.

    The United States should NOT do or say anything that plays into the hands of the left before the upcomming elections – if the left wins the elections fair enough (the Republic of Korea is lost), but I do not think we should write the country off just yet.

    The power of the left (with its death-to-America pro United Nations, etc, ideology) comes partly from the unions and partly from their massive inflence in the education system (as normal when a system depends on government finance and is run by various committees the left tends to gain control).

    Levels of brainwashing vary.

    At the extreme many young students (especially “good students” i.e. hard working ones who tend to take what they are taught to its “logical conclusion”) do not believe that the North Korean regime is a “threat” at all.

    After all it was the evil “Yankees” who were responsible for all bad things done to Koreans in the war and after. And North Korea is based on opposing “capitalist fat cat greed”.

    Most of the ordinary leftist voters are not as bad as this – but they are influenced (to some extent) by their years in school and university (and by the media).

    “But surely older people could tell young voters the truth”.

    The left has thought of that. Not only is there the normal support for the young to “liberate” themselves from the “out of date” people, there is also a Korean twist.

    In the last election there was a lot of talk that certain people should “go up the mountain”.

    This was pointing to an old Korean tradition – in times of hardship, older people (who could no longer work and were a burden on their children and grandchildren) would walk up into the mountains to die (basically “doing a Captain Oates”).

    The old (who might contradict what the “education system” and the media taught) should just go away (do away with themselves) and stop getting in the way of the young as they build the new society of “social justice”.

    It would not astonish me to learn that the government in the Republic of Korea only sent troops to Afghanistan in the hope that a chance to withdraw them, and thus cause a row with the Americans and at home, would occur.

  • Paul Marks

    Laura “I ache to tell my students……”

    But you do not. Because it is not relevant to the subject (or whatever)

    Do you think that leftist teachers hesitate for a second before spreading their world view? Slip it in everywhere (in all sorts of subtle ways) – that is why they win and we lose. Ditto with the media.

    Rich Paul.

    “the South may attack the North” treated as just as likely as “the North may attack the South”.

    And Korea never American problem – or Japan, or France and Italy in the late 1940’s (the C.I.A. operations against the Communists there).

    Indeed the entire world could have fallen to the totalitiarians (either the Communists or the Nazis) and America would have just carried on on as island of (semi) liberty in a sea of tyranny.

    You are wrong.

    What happens in the rest of the world does pose “a problem” for the United States.

    “You are only saying that because you are British”.

    Actually, Rich Paul, most British people believe what they have been taught – i.e. that they did not require American support to survive various conflicts (World War II, the Cold War and so on).

    Supposedly the Americans “came late” (and were not important) in both World Wars, there was no Communist threat, the Falkland Islands were recovered in 1982 without American supplies (the Falklands example is a small one – I put it in to show that most people here have no idea of even recent history).

    Most British people are utterly mistaken as well. About just about everything.

  • Alice


    Most British people are utterly mistaken as well. About just about everything.

    Did not Oliver Cromwell make much the same point, to a group of fellow Brits (the Scottish Parliament) — something like, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider the possibility that you may be wrong”?

    Maybe anthropogenic global warming is the real model for much of what goes on in today’s intellectual circles: the “facts” are much less settled than assumed; the theories have gaping inconsistencies; any individual who dares to depart from the Politicially Correct line is demonized; and any actions taken to correct the “problem” are inevitably going to have unintended consequences.

    Don’t underestimate the possibility that the Beautiful People’s rush to get the US out of Iraq is going to end up not just with South Korea out of Afghanistan but also with the US out of everywhere. As to what that world might look like — consider Darfur. Even the best-intended liberal acts are not exempt from the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  • It amazes me that you are all so convinced that totalitarianism works better than freedom. It does not. Totalitarianism means poverty, squalor, misery, starvation … not powerful military forces that take over the world with their technical sophistication, high morale, and superior industrial plants. Doesn’t happen. Can’t happen.

    The world is not a game of Risk. You do not get more armies for occupying more nations. Quite the opposite. Every nation you occupy costs you more than you gain from it. Freedom works. Conquest does not.

    As we impoverish ourselves in Iraq, Korea, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the world, we should keep an eye on that. Maybe when America is bankrupt, if we manage to hold off the nations that are not now, but will then be, a threat, we can work it into our foreign policy.

    I understand why the rest of the world wants us to waste our wealth defending them. I do not understand why Americans do not tell them to defend themselves or go hang, at their option.

  • Jan Adamczyk

    Freedom works. Conquest does not.

    Spot a man who did not grow up under communism. And neither did his parents. Such fatuous remark only makes sense to someone who never lived in a place conquered by Germans and then Russian a couple generations ago.

    Sure, communism collapsed. All that was needed was DECADES of confronting it with NATO.

  • Paul Marks

    Rich Paul what do you mean “work better”.

    Do you mean “produce goods and services that people want” – if that is what you mean I am with you 100%.

    But not if you mean “better at force and fear”.

    Sorry but the S.S. were better at that than Google is (in spite of Google’s deals with Red China).

    How good would Bill Gates be at getting people to die for him in battle?

    Robert McNamara used to say that he wanted to run the armed forces like he ran the Ford Motor Company. Even if he had been any good at running Ford (he was crap), this missed the point that making cars and killing or being killed are totally different. No one is going to fight to the death for a production bonus.

    “But technology”.

    So what?

    The Inca Empire was run by collectivist nutjobs. They have got a good press from everyone from the first Spanish priests (who forgot that the “well fed” people they met were a tiny fraction of the population that had once existed in this area – plague and civil war having reduced the population to a level that even Inca production methods could support) to modern Latin American progressives.

    They tried to control every aspect of Civil Society (i.e. destroy Civil Society).

    The civilizations they destroyed had used metal tools and the wheel and writing – the Inca had none of these things.

    But they were good at warfare.

    Force and fear are arts Rich Paul, they are dark arts certainly – but still arts.

    Besides collectivists can use the technology that free market folk create.

    For example, the T34 used the Christie suspension system.

    Any tool can be copied, indeed in the short run collectivists produce HIGHER military output (because they sacrifice everything to it and work machines, and people, till they fall apart).

    The French revolutionaries (the so called “capitalist” revolution) nationalized every factory in France – they were able to equip and put into the field armies of millions.

    Something that the ancient regime monarchies of Europe thought was impossible (till they were hit by them).

    Of course in the long run such madness can not be sustained – but “in the long run we are all dead” (not that I am fond of quoting Keynes). First the Directory then Napoleon (for all his lust for power) was actually a force for moderation (private factories came back, fiat money was replaced by gold again and …..), but the regimes of the 20th century went back to the humanity as savage pack idea.

    Whether one calls it “primitive communism” or “the noble savage” or “being in tune with nature” or “turn on, tune in and drop out” or “social justice in the distribution of the social product” it is always there in human beings.

    The instincts that evolution over millions of years in hunter gatherer packs produced – terrible instincts.

    Civilization is not strong, it is weak – it can be smashed in a day. Or gradually fall apart as cultural traditions are undermined by appeals to “follow your feelings”.

    Of course if civilization is defeated the vastly greater population it has produced mostly (eventually) starve – but that does not help prevent the defeat in the first place.

    “But you can not use the methods of evil to fight evil”.

    If you mean that such methods are corrupting you are quite correct.

    But being nice and civilized did not save the nations of Western and Central Europe from the Nazis (even though their combined population was greater than that of Germany).

    Who do you want facing the S.S. – the Screaming Eagles of the 101st or the Salvation Army? Or (if choosing the Salvation Army is unfair) a private security firm?

    Of course the Sword of State is evil – I have never said it is not. But those who do not live by the sword can still die by it.

    In fact it is less difficult to kill people who will not use it – or do not know how.

    I will try (as everything else has failed) an example from the silly (and it is silly in many ways) science fiction show “Star Trek”.

    In one episode of this show one of the main characters (“Captain Kirk”) has his good and evil natures divided (into two identical bodies).

    The good side is both intelligent and brave.

    The evil side is savage and a coward (a bit of a cheat as evil people are often very brave – but let us let that go). A shameless liar who operates on his instincts and uses his mind simply to trick other people (not seeing thought and study as good things in themselves).

    But the good “Captain Kirk” can not command. He can not bare causing suffering to innocent people (or exposing them to the risk of it, although he is prepared to risk his own life, and he will endure great pain and hardship) – which is what a lot of military command is about.

    Even in a one-on-one fight the evil “Kirk” defeats the good “Kirk” without difficulty (even though their bodies are identical), as the good Kirk does not enjoy inflicting damage, indeed cares about his enemy.

    The sadistic beast is no better than a rabid dog – on its own best shot like one. But the good man without this part of himself is of no use in a military situation.

    Of course the very reasons why this part of a human being (the abilty to use force and fear) are useful in violent conflict are the same reasons that they are harmful in everything else.

    People who favour “state intervention” (or “public help” or whatever) in such things as education, health, the arts (or whatever) have no idea of the nature of the thing they are dealing with.

    The ability to destroy is not the same thing as the ability to create (to create good things – to help people), it is the opposite.

  • Paul Marks

    For those who hate long comments:

    Denying American support to the allies during World War II (first so called “Lend Lease” which was hardly a business deal as there was no real payment, and then direct fighting) would have made defeat certain. Just as defeat for the West in the Cold War would have been certain if the United States had not helped.

    Having a superior system of production (private ownership of capital and so on) is of no use in conflict – if it is not used.

  • tranio

    I’ve just heard on the BBC World news that Korea paid a $20 million ransom demand.

  • Jacob

    Alice,

    “But surely older people could tell young voters the truth”

    “Maybe anthropogenic global warming is the real model for much of what goes on in today’s intellectual circles: the “facts” are much less settled than assumed; the theories have gaping inconsistencies; any individual who dares to depart from the Politicially Correct line is demonized; and any actions taken to correct the “problem” are inevitably going to have unintended consequences.”

    Here are two themes combined:

    Here is 82 years old physicist Freeman Dyson conveying a sensible message about GW.

    Those younger “scientists” of GW, crunching numbers on their computers and producing useless models, unrelated to the real world, are telling such people as Freeman Dyson: “go up the mountain”.

  • Snide

    Paul, that is one of the best comments I have ever seen. You are essential reading.

  • Paul Marks

    Alice

    I have problems with Oliver Cromwell.

    There is a little Royalist banner above my head as I type this – and there are two awards (sadly only Second Class) on the wall behind me, that I got in 1978 for making speeches against Cromwell (Kettering Eisteddfod “the English do not have Eisteddfods” well we have pretend ones, and the Oundle Festival).

    Whenever I visit a town or city it seems Cromwell’s men did some smashing there (apart from York where Fairfax would not allow it, and Warwick (the local Earl was a strong Parliament man – the church there is full of masonic signs, but no doubt that is a coincidence).

    However, I suspect my childhood Royalism was at least in part motivated by a deep desire to annoy “modern” people.

    Cromwell (for all his faults) was a great soldier (and self taught – not bad for a farmer from Ely who was close to a mental breakdown till he inherited that farm). There are signs of genius about some of his campaigns.

    Of course he also let the Jews back into England (there were some here unofficially – but Cromwell was a great lover of the Old Testament) and as a man with the family name of “Marks” (unlike “John Stewart” I am not in the habit of trying to hide my origins) I must be greatful for that.

    And the great quotation you cite (begging people to consider that they might be mistaken) is part of a wider part of his character.

    It was Cromwell who appointed Hales as Chief Justice in part BECAUSE Hales said that Cromwell’s rule was unlawful (thus showing he was a man of sound understanding of the law and strong moral character – exactly what Cromwell was looking for).

    Cromwell had no time for people who praised him – or painted him without his warts.

    He was also an Independent – and thus opposed to the Scottish Presbyterians.

    Cromwell might be certain that Roman Catholics and Anglicans were evil (although this was as much on political grounds as theological ones, being an Anglican meant you supported the King, and being a Roman Catholic meant, to Cromwell, that you supported a hostile alien ruler – the Pope) – but he was not sure what form of worship might be “correct” and suspected that there were many ways to God. Thus he defended local communities (and individuals) worshipping God in their own way.

    Which would have made him a foe of the Taliban (I did not forget the thread).

    Tranio.

    Yes the Taliban are boasting that the government of the Republic of Korea has given them 20 million Dollars – which they intend to use to murder people.

    I hope this is not true, even I doubt that the government of Republic of Korea would do such a thing.

  • Paul Marks

    Thank you Snide.

  • KP1

    It’s all about American hegemony in the far east. If the US loses influence in East Asia, then China will be more than happy to fill the void, which means more prestige and power in the region for them – good for the Chinese, bad for the US. What’s interesting is that the American media never acknowleged the fact that the South Korean hostages were Christian missionaries who left on their own accord to help the people in need. Koreans know the perils of war better than most. That’s why they left to help and that’s the reason why they the Korean government did their best to save their own.

  • Gabriel

    Rich Paul is terminably dishonest.
    1) “Screw the world I’m American macho man, I don’t care how many people die. I’ll just sit in my log cabin minding my own beeswax”
    2) “The poor arabs, you’re killing the poor arabs, you meany murderers. I feel their rage.”.

    Randomly shifting between these two lines of argument won’t wash and really shouldn’t be excused except in schizophrenics.

  • Gabriel: I hate to be the devil’s advocate here, as I fundamentally disagree with Rich, both morally and pragmatically. However, I don’t see any logical inconsistency. The guy basically wants to be left alone, and is willing to take action only when shit starts hitting the fan in his own living room. I can certainly understand that.

  • Paul Marks

    KP1 – Fox mentioned this.

    F.N.C. – it has all sorts of faults, till one watches any other news station.

  • Gabriel: I hate to be the devil’s advocate here, as I fundamentally disagree with Rich, both morally and pragmatically. However, I don’t see any logical inconsistency.

    Well I do. Either you care about what happens to people in Iraq or you really do not give a shit, you cannot do both.

    Now if he was saying “I care about people in Iraq, I just do not want to pay to help them”, that is also a fair position, but that is not the position he has advanced (in fact it seems he only cares if Americans are killing people in Iraq, not if Al Qaeda is killing people in Iraq. So clearly people dying in Iraq does not matter per se, only who is doing the killing)… he had said he only cares about fighting people who threaten America (and another commenter followed that line of reasoning by replied that he did not care about defending people in America such as Rich Paul, only about defending his part of Utah (or wherever), which is also logically consistent).

  • Perry, but isn’t it possible to condemn killing for reasons other than caring about the victims?

  • Rich, Cynic et al have laid out their reasons numerous times ad nauseam, the major one being that Iraq did not pose a threat to the US. You and I and many others happen to disagree, which means that we can argue that their position is based on a false premise, but it is not the same as being logically inconsistent.

  • Gabriel

    Alisa, Rich has repeatedly expressed a vast deal of concern about arab hurt feelings and then, when it is pointed out where western intervention has helped, shifts seamlessly to the “I don ‘t give a shit” argument. These are quite patently not the same.
    Strictly speaking, since he has never expressed the slightest concern for Koreans, so you could argue he is not inconsistent on this point, he just loves Arabs for some reason and doesn’t care about Koreans, but seeing as he uses the “I don’t give a shit” argument whenever it is brown on brown killing in the Middle east being discussed, that won’t wash either.

    Rich’s highly emotional remarks about hurt arab pride, of course, did take place a couple of months ago mostly, so perhaps he has just changed his mind, though not his conclusions. This suggests to me that his conclusions have nothing to do with his stated justifications.
    Cynic, you are correct is not a hypocrite, just wrong.

  • Gabriel: you may be correct to make the distinction between Rich and Cynic – I don’t know, and frankly, don’t give a shit either. I was trying to make a larger point. I see the logic behind American isolationism, although I am 100% convinced that it is based on a false premise.

  • Gabriel

    I don’t know, and frankly, don’t give a shit either. I was trying to make a larger point.

    Well I was trying to make a point about Rich. I didn’t start an argument with you.
    In any case I’ve decided I was wrong about cynic. Like all isolationists he’s prepared to slip into spurious moral arguments about the *rights* of this and that government etc. when it suits him.
    Isolationists believe what they believe for the same reason most people do, because that’s what the people around them (if only on the internet)* believe. It’s a group dynamic thing. They’ll take up and abandon arguments as it suits them to maintain the position they’ve decided upon.

    *Ironically the more oure ones political persuasions, the more rigidly conformist one is likely to be. It’s the same phenomenon as *rebelllious* goths and emos who look indistinguishable from each other.

  • Cynic

    ‘They’ll take up and abandon arguments as it suits them to maintain the position they’ve decided upon.’

    Oh please. Talk about glass houses. Interventionists are forever coming up with brand new excuses to bomb country A or democratise country B or impose sanctions on country C or rig the elections of country D. Just think of how many reasons Bush and the neocon wizards have used to excuse their current crusade in Iraq, and how new ones are regularly being created to continue justifying it in order to terrify and/or stir up the idealism of the booboisie.

  • Gabriel, my argument is not for or against any particular person, you, Rich or whoever. It’s just that I have seen this “logical inconsistency” point made over and over again when debating isolationists, and it keeps bothering me, because I really don’t see the point (it could be just me, of course). As to group dynamic, that is beside the point, as it can and does occur in any ideological camp – just part of human nature.