November 13, 2007

On Will

The media had some rather interesting takes on Fred Thompson's speech at The Citadel this morning in Charleston, SC, or at least takes different than my own.

Jim Davenport of AP keyed in on the size of the military that a President Thompson would champion. Jeremy Pelofsky of Reuters parroted the same sentiments.

I saw the first half of the speech, and then Roger L. Simon and I were fortunate enough to have Senator Thompson alone for an interview that will run on Pajamas Media Thursday.

I was impressed with the military numbers that Thompson favors, but found his call to engage the will of the American people in winning the "long war" to be a far more compelling story.

Twice in Thompson's speech, he referred to the synergy needed between civilian will and military might needed to win wars.

I spent some time recently with a book called A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, by the historian Andrew Roberts. He describes the strengths that have seen America and England through danger and adversity. But there's one quality in particular that no nation can do without in such a time. As Roberts observes, "The will of a people is at least as important as their military might in overcoming an enemy."

And later:

This radical threat we face today is committed to a hundred year war, and has been waging one against us for decades ... in Beirut, Somalia, embassies in Africa, Saudi Arabia, on the USS Cole. Each time Americans were killed. Yet each time our response sent the wrong signals. This is an enemy that understands only the language of power. Today, the focus of this war is Afghanistan and Iraq, but it is clear that this struggle and our enemies extend far beyond those borders. To defend ourselves, we in the democratic world must assert our intentions in the clearest possible terms.

Diplomacy, economic influence, and other means of persuasion are always to be preferred in our dealings with dangerous regimes and rival states. But the words of our leaders command much closer attention from adversaries when it is understood that we are prepared to use force when force is necessary. And for that deterrent to exist, the will of our people and the strength of our military must be unquestionable.

We had a chance to establish that synergy as lower Manhattan, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field still smoldered. Our leadership failed to unite us then, and has since.

Senator Thompson seems to have some ideas about what it takes to unite our country to win "the long war."

It's too bad that such ideas are so easily overlooked by the fourth estate.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 13, 2007 10:30 PM

If progress continues in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't suffer setbacks and the Pakistan issue resolves to something we can live with and the word starts to leak out to John Q Public, then taking this message viral in video form could carry a lot of weight and strike a cord with the public without editing and sound bite spinning by those who know oh so much better.

Posted by: Lurker of sorts at November 13, 2007 11:55 PM

I can only wonder how much better things might have gone in Iraq had the opposition within this country not given encouragement to those within Islam who wish to destroy us. Even worse, Ben Laden told us that they could only win by weakening our resolve. Yet one must not question their patriotism.

Posted by: Fritz J. at November 14, 2007 01:35 AM

Fritz: Indeed. And, they're still at it. You have to marvel at the middlebrow intellectualoids and how they tie themselves up in knots constructing these tortured narratives from an array of minor factoids to convince themselves that they, and only they, have a LOCK on THE TRUTH.

Get a load of some of the responses to Joe Klein's tardy realization that things aren't quite going according to the beautiful people's script in Iraq.

Posted by: Reid at November 14, 2007 02:15 AM

Yes, Fritz, and they are still at it. Our host shows a rather large blind spot if he thinks that our domestic enemies, which have been attempting to blame, weaken, and destroy this country for 40+ years, could ever have been brought to support this country against its' foreign enemies. A Copperhead does not change its scales... or its' poisonous nature.

"Enemies foreign and domestic".... what we all must defend the country against.

Posted by: SDN at November 14, 2007 05:59 AM

It is a leader's job to lead. The days after 9/11, our leaders had a golden opportunity to lead a united people, and the world in this fight and they squandered it, partly for political advantage, partly out of hubris, partly out of criminal incompetence.

I was never a big fan of Reagan's, for a lot of reasons, but I'll give the man his due. He was a leader. He brought this country together in a way I'd not seen before and haven't seen since.

If Thompson can indeed convince a majority of us that he not only has the will, but the competence to lead us in this long war, I'll give him a chance.

Posted by: David Terrenoire at November 14, 2007 06:36 AM

>...they squandered it, partly for political
>advantage, partly out of hubris, partly out of
>criminal incompetence.

You're welcome to your opinion though "criminal" strikes me as straight over-the-top. Bush's "crime" is that he is not FDR or Churchill. Very few leaders are, and I'm not sure that FDR or Churchill could have unified current America.

I would note that even Lincoln failed to hold the North and South together before the Civil War, and during it faced deeply bitter opposition from the Copperhead Democrats, much like today's Democrats.

Posted by: huxley at November 14, 2007 07:33 AM

"Our leadership failed to unite us then, and has since."

1) No, certain elements in our society failed to FOLLOW, and that for reasons of partisan advantage. The era of good feelings lasted a year and then it was back to business as usual.

2) The long march of communism through our institutions has taken a toll on our values, sapping our will to fight and win. Not my work, but this is pretty devastating reading.

3) You really ought to do your history a bit better. Lincoln was reviled during his term and only got a halo after he was assassinated. His conduct of the war was pathetic as he appointed and sacked general after general. He threw out habeas corpus, and so on. As for FDR, the press was on his side. His actual performance was abysmal. Yep, that's what I said. Specifically, his economic policies made the Depression worse and longer than it needed to be. And his conduct of the war was less than stellar. When hundreds died in a practice for the Normandy landings, it was covered up, etc.

4) A Thompson presidency will face the very same institutional and cultural limits that the Bush presidency faces. I have my own ideas about how to turn things around, and they start with the propositions, that we've got to get back to limited government, and a Bill of Rights that means something. For instance, the Second Amendment has been legislated out of existence, and we need to repeal many unconstitutional enactments which infringe on armed self-defense. Right now, the incumbent protection features of our campaign financing system overpower the plainly expressed will of the people (see enforcement of immigration law for example). And so on...

Posted by: RKV at November 14, 2007 09:15 AM

And look at what FDR had to wait for to get the US involved in WWII. It was not pretty but he had to WAIT for Pearl Harbor or something like it even though he wanted to enter the war "years" earlier. He could not get Congress to move beyond lending allies equipment and fuel, even though everyone knew it would come to WWII.

Now since 9/11 was not enough we must wait for the truly terrible thing to happen:

A nuclear blast in either New York City or Washington, D.C. or some city at random because it is easy to get into.

Not a radioactive bomb that throws radioactive elements around for a few blocks but an Iranian built atomic bomb with a yield of between 10 to 20 Kilotons. Look it up! That means a 2 mile radius destroyed, fires and radioactive effects out to 5 mile radius.

You will know what to do then.

But at the density of population in DC or New York how many will have been killed a million? 200,000? How many will die from radiation over 20 years? 150,000? 1,000,000? How many will be sick for weeks or months, burned? 150,000 more? 250,000 more?

Do you have any realization of the cost this will mean? Trillions of $ or Euros to treat the sick, clean up the radioactive areas, bury the dead. There are not enough hospitals in any city or metropolitan area in the world to tolerate such casualties.

And then we will have to go to war with Iran and any allies they have to the tune of many more $Trillions of $ or Euros. And many more dead in or due to combat.

2 Years max.

We have sown the wind...

by allowing (signalling Iran again that it is OK to stall until they have it) Iran to build the a-bomb (just look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the Hezbollah or Hamas will bring it to a city near you, possibly at random). They have not stopped even though we negotiate, they have not stopped even though we enact sanctions (sanctions that not everyone follows of course.)

As mentioned above they will only stop if the Mullahs themselves think they will die. But then even that is iffy since the Mullahs think it OK that if 10-20 Million Islamics die in a nuclear exchange that is OK since there are a billion more Islamics in the world today. A true suicide cult. As the Assasins were a long time ago - they also had to be killed to the last member of that sect.

Posted by: Ollie at November 14, 2007 09:28 AM


1. I like many of Fred Thompson's positions but I frankly don't think he's going to get elected.

He simply does not have that "fire in his belly" aspect.

This dispassionate campaign of his is ok, but voters *like* passion.

2. "And look at what FDR had to wait for to get the US involved in WWII."

Well consider that many young men were rated 4F because of malnutrition during the Great Depression. We are talking about a period in time where making tomato soup of out hot water and ketchup wasn't unknown.

With all that is it any wonder that most Americans preferred to deal with domestic issues?

Posted by: memomachine at November 14, 2007 10:47 AM

I've been echoing Ollie's basic premise for a long time. A key contributing factor that made military action necessary to remove Saddam was the support he received from France, Russia, etc. opposing US intents. I feel the domestic opposition to the current administration's foreign policy can broadly be divided into genuine principaled opposition and blatant political contrarianism. I fail to understand why the genuine principaled opposition doesn't see that siding with vociferous contrarians, especially with regard to Iran, only serves to convince them that their stall and ignore tactics will work. In the end, this make the likelihodd or requiring military action even greater.

As a great philosopher once said, "pay me now or pay me later." Strength and resolve today can avoid bloodshed tomorrow. I only hope later we won't be echong the words of another great philosopher. "Hear me now and believe me later."

Posted by: submandave at November 14, 2007 11:02 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/140/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...

Posted by: David M at November 14, 2007 12:49 PM

He simply does not have that "fire in his belly" aspect.

I am suspicious whenever I read this. These exact words seem to appear in every blog post about FDT. It's like someone is receiving opposition talking points. Or basing opinions on liberal op-eds from the maintream media.

The people I know who have actually been to FDT events paint a different picture. Admittedly, they are FDT supporters and therefore are biased. But their accounts illustrate FDT as energetic and enthusiastic, in it "to win."

Posted by: Gullyborg at November 14, 2007 02:06 PM

"partly out of criminal incompetence" (Thanks for answering Huxley) and "fire in his belly" (ditto Gullyborg).

How can such an incompetent dummy be such a successful criminal mastermind?

Concerning FDT, all of the current R "candidates" are either feeling or causing burn out. FDT appears to be in for the long haul.

Slow like a rabbit and crazy like a fox.

Posted by: mRed at November 14, 2007 03:20 PM

"You really ought to do your history a bit better. Lincoln was reviled during his term and only got a halo after he was assassinated. His conduct of the war was pathetic as he appointed and sacked general after general. He threw out habeas corpus, and so on."

Stay away from Civil War history son, you're sadly lacking in knowledge in that area.

Posted by: Conservative CBU at November 14, 2007 05:34 PM

Grandpa Fred's still in the running?

Posted by: Frederick at November 14, 2007 06:00 PM

I would hope this speech does reach a wide audience.

I'm with Fred and I will be voting with my wallet on November 21st...FredsGivingDay.

Posted by: redneck hippie at November 14, 2007 09:26 PM

Fred isn't doing so well in the polls... but then I don't trust polls anyway.

Also, Fred's been known to be good at coming from behind... he was shown in the polls to be 20 points behind at one point in his Tennessee Senate race, and came back to win it.

All in all, I don't think we should be counting chickens quite yet. Remember, at this time in the last Presidential election, it looked like Screamin' Howie Dean was gonna run away with the nomination of the Party of the Donkey. Things can change in politics, and change very quickly indeed.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 14, 2007 09:51 PM


@ Gullyborg

I am suspicious whenever I read this. These exact words seem to appear in every blog post about FDT. It's like someone is receiving opposition talking points. Or basing opinions on liberal op-eds from the maintream media.

Sorry but this isn't part of some mobying or undercover internet campaign. This is really how I feel about it.

Now I could be wrong. I haven't yet been to a Fred speech in person. Then again Fred hasn't visited any place I could get to in order to hear his speech in person.

Now I know New Hampshire and Iowa are taking center stage. I'm cool with that. But I really don't get any sort of passionate vibe from Fred. Now I'm not looking for a passionate-crazy like Ron Paul. Let's face it, Ron Paul is a bit on the crazy side. My nightmare "dream team" would be Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich in the White House. At that point I'd consider opening a vein to avoid having to live through the resulting years of crazy-ass nonsense.

But wrong or not Fred does come across to me as a guy who's thinking that if this Presidential election thing doesn't work out then there's always the prospect of his wife Jerry, her boobs and Tahoe.

Posted by: memomachine at November 15, 2007 09:37 AM

Memo, and others... Fred sat down with Larry Kudlow for an interview on tonight's Kudlow and company, but Kudlow posted the essence of Fred's answers on National Review's Corner blog.

The summary is as follows:

It was a lively interview, and Fred Thompson is not afraid to mix it up. I went at him. He came right back at me. It was great fun. He’s a serious and impressive man. Much stronger than when I interviewed him back in June.

On deep background, his campaign strategists tell me they are pouring tons of money into Iowa advertising. They see a strong opportunity for a Thompson surge in Iowa that would undermine Romney and inflict damage on Giuliani. Walking off the set, Thompson told me this election will be about peace and prosperity. And he intends to fight hard.

So, as I said above, it's probably premature to count chickens, or to count Fred out.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 15, 2007 08:39 PM