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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, July 15, 2006

What an idiot

They're not in a movie

Posted by James Wolcott

The dry heat must have gotten to Victor Davis Hanson, baking his brain apple-brown. Today he climbs the ladder to that special place above the clouds and battlesmoke that allows him to survey the geopolitical scene with pellucid acuity, and once again counsel his followers not to lose faith. It may look as if hell is heaving up from every hole in the Mideast, but for those with a longterm historical perspective like Hanson, these too shall pass. For now, savor what one one nation, one man, has wrought:

"What progress we have made since 9/11 — thousands of terrorists killed, al Qaeda scattered, Europe galvanized about Islamism and sobered about the consequences of its cheap U.S. rhetoric, Iran’s nuclear antics revealed, democracy birthed in the Middle East, Palestinian radicals exposed for their fraud, the United Nations under overdue scrutiny, America much better defended at home — all that came as a result of an often unilateralist posture that risked global alienation by challenging the easy appeasement of the rest of the world. Nothing there to apologize for or change — but much accomplished to be proud of.

"Of course, it is possible, and perhaps even understandable, to coast for a while and advisable to cool the rhetoric about bringing democratic change through 'smoking out and hunting down terrorists 'dead or alive.' But we shouldn’t forget that the global village gets back to normal only after a Shane or Marshall Will Cane [sic: Kane] is willing to take on the outlaws alone and save those who can’t or won’t save themselves. So, remember, when, to everyone’s relief, such mavericks put down their six-shooters and ride off into the sunset, the killers often creep back into town."

First of all, it's embarrassing for a historian of any stature to seal his arguments with Hollywood citations. Alan Ladd's Shane and Gary Cooper's marshall in High Noon were fictional heroes whose success in the final showdowns were preordained in the script; their relevance to the policy decisions of a prime minister or president is nil. George Bush didn't strap on six guns and swaggered bow-legged into Baghdad, much as Hanson and Howard Fineman might want to fantasize; he sent the country's uniformed men and women to do the fighting, thousands of whom have returned home in flag-draped coffins, thousands more seriously wounded and left to contend the rest of their lives with being blinded, deafened, deprived of the use of all their limbs, psychologically traumatized. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest personally risked nothing; they will enjoy prosperous retirements, and be free to pen memoirs primping their place in history. VDH isn't one to wait. He's doing his historical revisionism here and now. Elsewhere in the piece, he lauds the "audacious removal of...the Taliban," without acknowledging that the Taliban is staging a strong comeback in Afghanistan, in part because the US was in such a hurry to hit Iraq. His comment about post-invasion Iraq is even more cavalier with the truth. "Iraq is messy, but its chaos is no longer novel. And for all the violence, its democratic government just keeps chugging along, its enemies so far unable to derail it."

First of all, when you say Victor Davis Hanson's name to classicists, they shudder then laugh. Even in his own field of study, he's a joke

But like so many people, he confuses the movie west with the real west. Sheriffs in the old west could only succeed with the support of the community. A sheriff who went off on his own would most likely be regarded as a fool.

Many men in the west were civil war vets and knew how to lay fire. Shane shouldn't have been necessary in most towns. Most criminal gangs died on the spot. The locals kept order, at the point of a gun when needed. They didn't need a daddy figure. If you could survive Petersburg, you could survive anything in the west.

Fantasy is not history. Order in the Post-Civil War west was earned by people on the spot. They fought for it. It wasn't delievered by heroes. Most gunfighters were shunned, creatures of boomtowns and gambling dens. Cowboys rarely fired a weapon. And his ability to misread history remains with current events.

His rank idiocy is shown by citing two of the least realistic westerns as his model. He doesn't understand the West, Iraq or much about real history and not the short bus version.

posted by Steve @ 2:45:00 AM

2:45:00 AM

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