Saturday, July 26, 2008

George W's War

From Investor's Business Daily, sent to me by a friend:

George W.'s War

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, June 20, 2008 4:20 PM PT

No one likes war. War is a horrific affair, bloody and expensive. Sending our men and women into battle to perhaps die or be maimed is an unconscionable thought.

Yet some wars need to be waged, and someone needs to lead. The citizenry and Congress are often ambivalent or largely opposed to any given war. It's up to our leader to convince them. That's why we call the leader "Commander in Chief."

George W.'s war was no different. There was lots of resistance to it. Many in Congress were vehemently against the idea. The Commander in Chief had to lobby for legislative approval.

Along with supporters, George W. used the force of his convictions, the power of his title and every ounce of moral suasion he could muster to rally support. He had to assure Congress and the public that the war was morally justified, winnable and affordable. Congress eventually came around and voted overwhelmingly to wage war.

George W. then lobbied foreign governments for support. But in the end, only one European nation helped us. The rest of the world sat on its hands and watched.

After a few quick victories, things started to go bad. There were many dark days when all the news was discouraging. Casualties began to mount. It became obvious that our forces were too small. Congress began to drag its feet about funding the effort.

Many who had voted to support the war just a few years earlier were beginning to speak against it and accuse the Commander in Chief of misleading them. Many critics began to call him incompetent, an idiot and even a liar. Journalists joined the negative chorus with a vengeance.

As the war entered its fourth year, the public began to grow weary of the conflict and the casualties. George W.'s popularity plummeted. Yet through it all, he stood firm, supporting the troops and endorsing the struggle.

Without his unwavering support, the war would have surely ended, then and there, in overwhelming and total defeat.

At this darkest of times, he began to make some changes. More troops were added and trained. Some advisers were shuffled, and new generals installed.

Then, unexpectedly and gradually, things began to improve. Now it was the enemy that appeared to be growing weary of the lengthy conflict and losing support. Victories began to come, and hope returned.

Many critics in Congress and the press said the improvements were just George W.'s good luck. The progress, they said, would be temporary. He knew, however, that in warfare good fortune counts.

Then, in the unlikeliest of circumstances and perhaps the most historic example of military luck, the enemy blundered and was resoundingly defeated. After six long years of war, the Commander in Chief basked in a most hard-fought victory.

So on that historic day, Oct. 19, 1781, in a place called Yorktown, a satisfied George Washington sat upon his beautiful white horse and accepted the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, effectively ending the Revolutionary War.

Also of related interest, in the same spirit as the above, is this piece by Medved:
The handsome young Democratic nominee is the most spellbinding orator of his generation, promising dramatic change to correct economic injustice and bring an end to a bloody, unpopular war. Republicans deride him as a showboating demagogue with scant governmental experience and place their faith in a gruff, battle-tested veteran who asks for public patience to fight the war till victory. Meanwhile, halfway around the world, anti-American insurgents have recently lost thousands of fighters to desertion and improved U.S. tactics, but they believe they can exploit their enemy's war weariness. The guerrilla fighters, therefore, intensify their gruesome attacks as part of a conscious effort to influence the November election on behalf of the Democratic "peace" candidate.

Though contemporary Americans will assume the above description applies to Iraq and the 2008 campaign, it's also an accurate summary of the situation leading up to the fateful election of 1900 and the darkest days of our four-year war against insurrectionists in the Philippines. This nearly forgotten conflict deserves renewed attention today since the parallels with our present predicament count as both eerie and illuminating.

Labels: , , , ,


Anonymous yankeemom said...

I'm in the process of reading American Creation by Joseph I Ellis and it is apparent that politicians and war have not changed all that much in 200 plus years, sad to say. But at least back in the beginning of this country there were also men who were seriously thinking of what could be achieved and not just what they could profit from.
Not so many today...

Sunday, July 27, 2008 5:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

WOW! That really makes a good point, doesn't it?

Many people will say that George Bush will go down in history as our worst president. I disagree. He stood by his convictions and proved himself to be right, and no matter how many are in denial of the facts, the truth will always out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 6:05:00 AM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

Our local paper, the North County Times, reported today that we're winning the war in Iraq. Keep in mind, North San Diego County is home to Camp Pendleton Marine Base.

The story is buried on page 10.

No telling where they'd have reported the news of the surrender at Yorktown if that war had been fought with today's press.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Just updated the post.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 6:42:00 PM  
Blogger BB-Idaho said...

Those were the days: the French Navy isolated Cornwallis and half the surrounding troops were French.
It pays to have allies....

Monday, July 28, 2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


As Jean-Francois Revel put it, "America's seeming unilateralism is because the rest of the world has failed to act on behalf of our collective global security".

Monday, July 28, 2008 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Yes, its amazing, how so many liberals don't know history or have forgotten it. I just got done reading a book on Lincoln and he was called a stupid baboon, someone who knew nothing about foreign policy, etc... He almost didn't win re-election and yet now he is viewed as one of our greatest presidents.

I think history will view W more favorably than he is viewed now, in fact as one of the best for bringing freedom to the Middle East and for protecting this country.

Saturday, August 02, 2008 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

This is also good:

Letter to the Editor, The Tryon Daily Bulletin, Tryon, N.C. July 25, 2008 ***(see below)

Would We?

Each year I get to celebrate Independence Day twice. On June 30 I celebrate my independence day and on July 4, I celebrate America’s. This year is special for it marks the fortieth anniversary of my independence.

On June 30, 1968, I escaped Communist Cuba and a few months later I was in the USA to stay.
I thought a lot about the anniversary this year. The election rhetoric has made me think a lot about Cuba and what transpired there. In the late 1950s most Cubans needed a change, and they were right. So when a young leader came along, every Cuban was at least receptive.

When the young leader spoke eloquently and passionately and denounced the system, the press fell in love with him. They never questioned who his friends were or what he really believed in. When he said he would help the farmers and the poor and bring free medical care and education to all, everyone followed. When he said he would bring justice and equality to all, everyone said “Praise the Lord.” And when the young leader said, “I will be for change and I will bring you change,“ everyone yelled, “Viva Fidel.”

But nobody asked about the change, so by the time the executioner’s guns went silent, the people’s guns had been taken away. By the time everyone was equal, they were equally poor, hungry and oppressed. By the time everyone received their free education it was worth nothing. By the time the press noticed, it was too late, because they were now working for him. By the time change was finally implemented Cuba had been knocked down … to third world status. By the time change was over more than a million people had taken to boats, rafts and inner tubes. … And now I’m back to the beginning of my story.

Luckily, we would never fall in America for a young leader who promised change without asking, “What Change? How will you carry it out? What will it cost America?”

Would we? ~ Manuel Alvarez, Jr.

Sunday, August 03, 2008 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more I thought about it, the more I thought the article was bogus. I did a tiny bit of research and confirmed it.

First of all, many of the "similarities" are true of any war. Ups and downs, waxing and waning popularity, battles lost and battles won, this could said about any war, the Civil War, WWI or WWII for instance. Of course there are bad days and good days.

The Revolution was fought here. We did not invade another country. HUGE difference.

As far as the Georges go, Washington was not the President during the Revolution. He didn't become President until 1789, 8 years after the British surrender. During the war, he was a general in the army. He was, in fact, THE general, in command of the army. So, he was more like a Norman Schwarzkopf or a David Petraeus than a George Bush.

The article talks about him lobbying congress to get them into the war. Simply, not true. Fighting had already broken out. After the war had already begun, Congress asked Washington to lead the army due to his reputation from the French and Indian War. He initially stated that he was not equal to the task, but eventually accepted the position.

The article talks about Washington lobbying foreign nations for support. Again, not true. He wasn't the President. He was a general in the army. He was too busy fighting to visit other countries. He, at that point, had nothing to do with foreign policy.

The article talks about making changes at dark times, such as adding more troops, an obvious reference to the "surge" sending more of our troops to Iraq. Not at ALL the same thing that happened in the Revolution. Today, we have a large professional army with troops around the world. It was a decision of how to deploy the forces (moving some from bases here in the states to Iraq). When the Revolution started, we had no army. We weren't a country. Throughout the war, Washington used every soldier he had against the Brits. He didn't decide to do a "surge" of sending more of our available troops into the battle. There were no more available. It is true that after the winter of 1777-78 spent at Valley Forge, the army did emerge better organized and became more successful, but this wasn't due to any troop surge by Washington. It was primarily because of a training program led by Baron von Steuben, an experienced Prussian military man who decided to help the Americans. This has NOTHING in common with Bush's "surge". The other incident in the Revolution that might have been the one they were trying to compare to Bush's surge was Dec '76/Jan '77 when Washington, in a brilliant tactical move, sneaked across the Delaware and surprised the Hessians at Trenton, NJ., capturing 1,000 troops. He followed this up with a quick victory at Princeton. These victories improved morale and inspired more men to join the army. Again, quite different from Bush and his surge, which was just a decision to move already available troops from places like Georgia and Texas to Baghdad.

Also, the article mentions that only one other nation helped us during the Revolution. This was France. Not only did they help, they sent a fleet and many, many soldiers. Without the help of the Marquis de Lafayette and Wilhelm de Forbach, French naval and army leaders, we would never have come close to winning. Lafayette's naval victories were especially crucial. Today, the involvements of other nations are token at best. In France, we had a super-power of the day as a major ally. They committed significant resources to help us defeat the British.

A few other differences between Washington and Bush that demonstrate how ridiculous any comparisons are. These are direct quotes from the Wikipedia article on Washington.

Regarding Washington as general of the army during the war:
"Washington's refusal to become involved in politics buttressed his reputation as a man fully committed to the military mission at hand and above the factional fray."

Regarding his time as president:
"Washington was not a member of any political party, and hoped that they would not be formed out of fear of the conflict and stagnation they could cause governance."


"Washington proved an able administrator. An excellent delegator and judge of talent and character, he held regular cabinet meetings to debate issues before making a final decision. In handling routine tasks, he was "systematic, orderly, energetic, solicitous of the opinion of others but decisive, intent upon general goals and the consistency of particular actions with them." "


"Washington reluctantly served a second term as president. He refused to run for a third, establishing the customary policy of a maximum of two terms for a president which later became law by the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution."

So, you can see, any attemps to compare the roles of these 2 Georges and their wars is ridiculous and a complete misrepresentation. These wars, in fact, have nothing in common.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 9:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a thought:

Adolph H's war.

In 1940 a leader took a great risk, went against many of his advisors and invaded another country. The country he invaded was France. He had great success. His superior forces rolled their tanks across the country and soon controlled it. However, as the years drug on, pockets of resistance began to develop. Other countries began to send support to the resistance. Eventually, the invadors could no longer support their forces. They ran out of money and supplies. The invasion failed. Sound like anybody we know? If you over-simplify and leave out significant parts of the story, it's easy to make bogus comparisons. George Bush isn't Hitler, but he's certainly not George Washington either. By the way, this is the work of about 45 seconds. I'm sure, if I took the time, I could draw more parallels between Hitler and Bush. That wouldn't make it valid either.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Excellent research and points, anon!

Of course these sorts of comparisons are a stretch, as you can find any number of differences. I think some of your points of argument misses the point of the article, by focusing on "we're a country now, but not then" and "we didn't invade another country". It'd be like saying the two wars are different because there wasn't CNN, the internet, and IEDs back then like there are today.

My computer's been down and I'm currently on a library computer for an hour's rationing a day; so I apologize for my sloppy response.

Absolutely respect your comment. Pieces like this one, like comparisons between Lincoln's difficulties and Dubbya's, can't be taken too seriously.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 1:39:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

© Copyright, Sparks from the Anvil, All Rights Reserved