We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, August 10. 2007
Professor Bainbridge quotes Russell Kirk's ten conservative principles (below) in a piece attempting to determine the political orientation of Andrew Sullivan's readers. (Exactly why the good Prof wants to do that is beyond me.)
Read the rest on continuation page below.
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Your picture tells a thousand words. Two of the best ever. They made me feel like a million dollars. I was so sorrry to see Dutch go. It will pain me until the end of my time.
Gods bless those two.
Peleliu and Iraq
Peleliu. Until recently, the word was altogether foreign to me. Of late, I encounter it at every turn.
I was introduced to the word a while back when the Wall Street Journal named With the Old Breed, E. B. Sledge's chronicle of the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa in the South Pacific during World War II, among the five greatest personal accounts of battle by combat soldiers.
Peleliu also figured prominently in the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Joe Rosenthal, who died last year at the age of 94. Coincidently, Clint Eastwood's film Flags of Our Fathers introduced Rosenthal's iconic photograph of American soldiers raising the American flag over Iwo Jima in Feb. 1945 to a new generation of Americans. Earlier in the Pacific campaign, Rosenthal had accompanied the Marine landings on Guam and Peleliu.
Paradoxically, some have equated the war in Iraq with the Palau Island campaign as militarily ill-advised wastes of American lives.
To the geographically challenged, Peleliu is one of the Palau Island group, a six-mile long, two-mile wide sliver of coral, about 500 miles east of the Phillippines. On September 15, 1944 Sledge's First Marine Division invaded Peleliu to neutralize it as a threat to the imminent invasion of the Phillippines.
The fighting was supposed to last three to four days. It lasted almost two months. The Marines battled an entrenched Japanese enemy, tropical rain and temperatures reaching 115 degrees. A TIME magazine correspondent embedded with the troops wrote that by the fourth day " there were as many casualties from heat prostration as from wounds."
Even though Peleliu was one of the worst slaughters of Marines in the Pacific: 1262 dead and 5274 wounded (and 10,000 dead Japanese), it was one of the least publicized, book-ended by history between Tarawa and Iwo Jima.
In his Foreword to Part 1 of Sledge's memoir, U. S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel John Crown counsels not to read the book seeking the significance of the battle or of grand strategy, but for what it is: intense combat as seen by an individual Marine rifleman. I agree. But read it also as an uncannily prescient depiction of the enemy civilization faces today.
Sledge survived the war, but his initial innocence about human evil died on Peleliu. The Japanese were a
"fanatical enemy, that is they believed in their cause with an intensity little understood by many postwar Americans -- and possibly many Japanese, as well."
Today's Islamist fundamentalists are also a fanatical enemy, similarly and regrettably little understood by many of today's Americans (despite the parallels between Pearl Harbor then and 9/11 now
The enemies' military tactics are eerily similar. The Japanese design was to conserve forces and fight a battle of attrition that was not over until the last Japanese position was knocked out. Sledge writes that the
"Japanese covered nearly every yard of Peleliu from the beach inland... some positions were large enough to hold only one man. Some caves held hundreds. The Japanese had constructed the perfect defense-in-depth with the whole island as a front line."
Sledge describes to a "t" the "fronts " American forces have encountered in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Tactics such as "playing dead and then throwing a hand grenade -- or playing wounded, calling for a corpsman, and then knifing the medic when he came...." will resonate with soldiers on the ground in Iraq ( some of whom have been unjustly prosecuted for the "crime" of self defense). Sledge describes the combatants as "like two scorpions in a bottle." The enemy was annihilated, the victors nearly so. "Only Americans who excelled could have defeated them." Thomas Paine's prophetic words are true: "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered
In his introduction, historian Paul Fussell writes,
"...readers of this book will find it hard to forget, and they will not easily brush away its troubling revelations about what the modern world periodically requires its boys to do and to suffer."
Sledge concludes with these words,
"...until the millennium arrives and countries cease trying to enslave others, it will be necessary to accept one's responsibilities and to be willing to make sacrifices for one's country -- as my comrades did. As the troops used to say, ‘(I)f the country is good enough to live in, it's good enough to fight for.' With privilege goes responsibility."
The Japanese of Sledge's time were as fanatical and dedicated to the death of our way of life as Islamist fundamentalists are today. We ignore this truth at our own peril
The Am. Thinker
Conservatives, when in doubt, will always err on the side of liberty and freedom.
"The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at levelling must lead, at best, to social stagnation."
As a "conservative" and an "atheist" I agree with all of the points wholeheartedly, including this one. For if (as I see it) there is nothing after, then we had better do a good job in the before if we are to live up to that which has been provided by greater men than us.
Gratitude is conservative. Is the left ever grateful for anything?
Great post, and great comments. One of the most profound books I've ever read, E.B. Sledge's. He passed away only recently, after a career as a teacher at a university in Alabama. A good man, and a great book.
He has a wiki;
What is so striking about the book is the guy's everyday plain humility. Then I read the wiki and learn that he was an ornithologist. A birdman. Well I'll be damned.
Not sure why people keep associating Andrew Sullivan and conservative...he never was and now he's done gone moon bat crazy.
It's because he was pro-Bush and pro-war for about fifteen minutes after 911.
Yes I remember those days...didn't know much about Andrew then, but quickly began to think that his support for Bush and the war was a bit over exuberant and then the sudden turn on everything Bush based on Bush's stance on homosexual marriage.
He's an emotionally volatile flaming peacock...what a waste of intelletual potential.
Agree --I've read maybe two of his posts. Nothing much there. I think he's a "celebrity" rather than a thinker/writer.
A quote related by WFB some years ago summed it up nicely, "Don't just do something, stand there!"