Glenn Reynolds has an especially good column
this week, he
discusses war fatique and opposition to the war, and what was
most interesting to me was that he mentioned the copperheads
of the civil war:
Like too many people, these folks see the war as less important than their own immediate political objectives. Better to be President after losing a war than to suffer as a Senator in a nation that's winning, apparently. Well, that's politics. We had the same thing from the Copperheads in the Civil War. If we had less of it in World War II it was because the threat to the Soviet Union turned the hard left into pro-war propagandists instead of the critics they are today.
The reason I found the mention of the copperheads
was that I finished reading "Never Cry Retreat" a couple of weeks
ago, which is a part of a fantastic series of books that tell the
story of the civil war. While reading the book I was struck by
similarities between our current situation with the WOT and
Iraq, and the war between the north and the south.
At first glance, it appears that the war in Iraq most resembles
vietnam, and that is how the story is constantly played by the
press, and by leftists. The story goes that all three wars (CW,
Vietnam, Iraq) were wars of choice, led by lying incompetant
administrations, with a steady rain of casualties that threatened
to tear the nation apart. The civil war has been erased from the
picture, because democratic opposition to the civil war and now
saintly Lincoln doesn't fit with the civil rights marching
So now the comparison is only with vietnam. Vietnam like Iraq
could have been left alone with no intervention from the US. The
peace loving North Vietnamese would have peacefully enslaved
south vietnam along the march to peace loving global communism.
In the same way, peace loving Saddam should have stayed in
power until sanctions ended, then with love and grace he could
have nuked Isreal or held us hostage with WMD, or waited until
the US army was even smaller and reoccupied Kuwait.
Instead the evil corporations forced weak-willed presidents to
attack peace-loving Iraq/Vietnam for to gain oil/military
contracts. All the while peace-loving democrats worked as human
shields or entertained the north vietnamese troops so that we
can all give peace a chance.
I don't agree with this straw-man argument that I've built up.
Vietnam is not a good metaphor for Iraq it was always edged
into never leaped into. There was never any cold-blooded decision
to go to war, it was a series of choices: allow the french collapse
to enable North Vietnamese or supply advisors, supply troops
or allow the vietcong to win. If you give a politician the choice
between total defeat or incremental increase in pain, he will
choose pain every time. I would have done the same thing.
What struck me after reading never call retreat were the
similarities and parallels between the civil war and this
current war. Both were totally wars of choice. Lincoln could
have allowed the union to be divided, or choose war, and he
chose war rather than allow the south to go it's own way.
The south only wanted to be "left alone", and was no threat
to the northern states, but it's existence would mean the end
of the united states.
Both Presidents Bush and Lincoln faced active opposition to the
war from people who would gladly suffer military defeat as long
it helped remove that "ape-faced baboon" or "chimpy mcBush"
from the whitehouse. Both presidents faced opposition from a
democratic controlled press, and were thought of by contemporaries
stupid and controlled by other people within the administration.
Both Presidents changed the scope of their wars, Lincoln changed
the civil war from a war of occupation to one whose goals included
freeing the slaves. Freeing the slaves was just a means to an end.
Lincoln said that if could maintain the union by freeing the slaves
he would do it, or if he maintain the union by keeping them
enslaved he would do that. Bush has stated that our goal is to
bring freedom to all, he doesn't have to mention the realpolitic
support of dictators as a method of ending terrorism, that has
been done before and didn't work.
I am not claiming that Bush is Lincoln. But I can't see how anyone
can call him chimpy McBush, in the same way that no one in their
right mind would now call Lincoln as his contemporaries called
him Ape Lincoln.
There is one final parallel that might be useful when we reach
the end of this current war. At the end of the civil war,
governments fled state capitols, therewas little or no civil
control to negotiate an end of the conflict with. Lincoln did
make an attempt to deal with the Virginia legislature
informally, 'as those men who were formally in control of
the enemy government'. A similar statement might allow our
government to someday bring an end to this war, once our
enemy has been soundly defeated by the our current
Grants and Shermans.
[I will also call people like this copperheads,
especially if you read the last two
lines of that copperhead link:
With the conclusion of the war in 1865 the Peace Democrats were thoroughly discredited. Most Northerners believed, not without reason, that Peace Democrats had prolonged war by encouraging the South to continue fighting in the hope thatthe North would abandon the struggle.]