Cliopatria: A Group Blog
Aaron Bady (∞); Chris Bray (∞); Brett Holman (∞); Jonathan Jarrett (∞); Robert KC Johnson (∞); Rachel Leow (∞); Ralph E. Luker (∞); Scott McLemee (∞); Claire B. Potter (∞); Jonathan T. Reynolds (∞)
The grant of power in the Constitution to the president is large, but the power of the office is hardly unlimited, even in time of war. Remember the founders were pretty familiar with Classical political history and could have drawn on it to provide a constitutional mechanism for declaring a dictatorship. They did not do so. The only logical conclusion is that they assumed that the constitutional order would remain fundamentally unchanged in time of war or other emergencies.
OK, that point is important. The grant of powers to the president is not unlimited, either in war or peace. But it does not answer where those powers do stop. Here we do step into shades of gray, but it is not a fog.
In the world of the founders, the president might have to react to events long before a congress could be convened. It is reasonable to assume, as Lincoln did, that the president did have a broad grant of military powers to respond rapidly and in accordance to the challenge faced.
Much of what Lincoln did remains controversial--in particular the suspension of habeas corpus--a power specifically granted to Congress in the constitution. However, if my memory serves, the Congress"legitimized" his use of that power and his other actions after it convened.
This, I think, was what the founders intended. The president should have broad powers indeed, but those powers were to be used in consultation with Congress as soon as possible. Put slightly differently, if Lincoln was right, those powers were intended to protect the nation until the constitutional order could catch up.
In the wiretapping controversy, Bush began the action immediately after 9/11, an emergency situation. He did consult with a few members of Congress at the time. To that point, I think he is within his powers, despite a law on the books that denied the president that power.
However, it is becoming clearer and clearer that instead of working with Congress to provide a constitutional framework for his action, he kept even the chose few in the dark about the expansion of the program.
Here, he clearly crossed the line into illegality. He did so because there was no longer a necessity for rapid and super-secret action. In the context of other actions and considering Bush and Cheney's aim prior to 9/11 to strengthen the president’s ability to act unilaterally, I can only conclude that he is using 9/11 to expand the powers of the president as far as he can push them.
This power grab does pose long-term dangers for the nation. It also has harmed our cause. The administration's defense of torture has damages us badly in terms of propaganda and it has demeaned us morally. The desire to have unchecked power to detain America citizens has forced even conservative jurists to try to impose limits. The same is true with message interception. If the problem really had been the nature of the subpoena system under existing law, he had plenty of time to negotiate a new oversight regime with a friendly Congress. His choice not to do so was a bad one.
All of these--particularly the first two--have reduced the trust that Americans have for him. This weakens him, and it weakens our ability to wage war. And it weakens our democratic republic.
David Montgomery,"The Author Who Got a Big Boost from bin Ladin," Washington Post, 21 January. Forget Oprah. Bin Ladin's the sales booster for this historian.
Megan Twohey,"Former Professor May Be Doomed to Repeat History," Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, 18 January. Convicted in an American court in 2002 of conspiring to transport documents stolen from the French National Archives, John William Rooney, a former professor of history at Marquette and the University of the South, faces a second trial in France. Some of the documents, that he now admits to having stolen, continue to be missing. Thanks to Margaret Soltan at University Diaries for the tip.
After yesterday's extended discussions, I'm declaring this UCLA Appreciation Day at Cliopatria. Here are a couple of other links in the Andrew Jones/Bruins Alumni Association story: Scott Eric Kaufman's"Save Academic Freedom: Tell UCLAProfs.com to Turn It Up a Notch," 19 January; Hugo Schwyzer's"Brief Reflection on UCLAProfs," 19 January; and"College Daze," LA Times, 20 January. The Times editorial gives Brother Jones a well-earned spanking. And, speaking of spankings, there is also Chris Bray's Surveillance Central, though that one could become not work-safe reading. [If Andrew Jones has ever yelled"Spank me! Spank me!" in a moment of passion, Surveillance Central is offering cold cash for hard evidence.] Thanks to Michael Benson, Hiram Hover and Scott McLemee for the tips.
- Orientalism by Edward Said 1978
- The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq by Hanna Batatu, 1978
- Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age by Albert Hourani, 1962
- A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani, 1991
- The Venture of Islam by Marshall Hodgson, 1975 [3 vols.]
- Colonising Egypt by Timothy Mitchell, 1988
- The Mantle of the Prophet by Roy Mottahedeh, 1986
- Contending Visions of the Middle East by Zachary Lockman, 2004
- Women and Gender in Islam by Leila Ahmed, 1992
- The Emergence of Modern Turkey by Bernard Lewis, 1961
- Over-stating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East by Nazih Ayubi, 1995
- A Political Economy of the Middle East by Alan Richards & John Waterbury, 1990
- A History of Islamic Societies by Ira Lapidus, 1988
- Rule of Experts by Timothy Mitchell, 2002
- Ambiguities of Domination by Lisa Wedeen, 1999
- The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun, 1377
- A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin, 1989
- Armed Struggle and the Search for State by Yezid Sayigh, 1997
- State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East by Roger Owen, 1992
- Society of the Muslim Brothers by Richard Mitchell, 1969
- Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy by Michael Hudson, 1977
I must admit that I am a tad confused by the presence of Lockman and Fromkin entries and the abscence of Olivier Roy's The Failure of Political Islam or Joseph Schacht's The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. My choices didn't even make the honorable mentions! Shows what I know.
Would the readers like to offer their suggestions?
Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution
John Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment
Kenneth Greenberg, Masters and Statesmen
Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds
David Laitin, Hegemony and Culture: Politics and Change Among the Yoruba
Alan Taylor, William Cooper’s Town
Jack Rakove, Original Meanings
James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom
Matthew Frye Jacobsen, Barbarian Virtues
Mary Ryan, Civic Wars
I offer this list as an illustration of how hard it is to clearly categorize much of what historians write as social history, political history and so on. There's no question that many titles on this list come more from the "social history" side, but are also informed in various ways by the traditional concerns, interests and methodology of political, legal and diplomatic history.
White's The Middle Ground or Taylor's William Cooper's Town, for example, seem to me to deserve a place in the canon of antebellum American political history even though their predominant methodological orientation is towards social and cultural history.
McPherson, on the other hand, offers a model of even-handed integration of different specializations.
I mention the Laitin (sneaking in an Africanist work into a largely Americanist discussion) to observe also that new directions in political history are sometimes spurred by political scientists: Laitin's book I think was an important touchstone for a new wave of work on law, ethnicity and the state by historians and anthropologists.
The Jacobsen is also an interesting book to discuss, because I think one thing that confuses debates over canons is that participants in those debates sometimes confuse disagreement with the substantive argument of a book or article and identifying the place of such a book or article in a canon. The Jacobsen seems to me to belong broadly within the canon of diplomatic history, but I can well see that some practicioners of diplomatic history might disagree with its arguments and see it as an ideological work. It's important to distinguish between the two. Some political history resembles social history because its author disagrees about what the substance of "politics" really is--this doesn't mean you can just discount it as not being political history with one sweep of the canonical pen. That's a battle that has to be fought out in the substantive rather than organizational arena. You can't just say, "The subject of political history is formal politics as I define it" without explaining what you mean by formal politics, and why you think that formal politics are more determinant of political outcomes and important study as such.
This goes for almost any field of specialized inquiry in history or other disciplines. It's obvious that military history should involve the study of war, armies, and so on, sure. But that clearly can or ought to include studying the homefront in time of war, studying the social history of military officers or soldiers, studying the economic history of arms production, studying the cultural history of war propaganda. There is no necessary reason why "military history" should equal "battlefield maneuvers and accompanying decisions by generals and officers" now and forever, even if once upon a time that's what military history was defined by as a specialization.
It's still unlikely the Republicans will be able to contest this seat, but a race that was safe Democratic now has a bit of unpredictability.
So, it was a bad day for UCLA alum Andrew Jones. Actually, I think there's a sense in which Jones is more responsible than at least one of his accusers. He's willing to pay for hard evidence. Horowitz pays himself over $300,000 a year and can't be bothered to hire fact checkers to verify which of his urban legends have elements of truth in them. Hiring students to spy on professors is a bad idea, because it perverts the student/teacher relationship, but being willing to live less high on the hog in order to substantiate your claims is a good thing.
I'm gonna risk the ire of my colleague, Ambrose Beers, and his legion of fans, however, to ask: So, What is Wrong with the UCLA History Department? [Ed.: Five years later, the guy still commands a loyal following. See:"Retroblogging" at Dymaxion World and"Exciting Discovery of the Early Afternoon!" at The Reference]. Two things, I'd say. In the first place, to my knowledge, it hasn't bothered to hire a showcase conservative to cover its ass. As I pointed out yesterday, Andrew Jones's list of the"dirty thirty" largely concentrates on UCLA's Law School and its history department. The Law School could count on Eugene Volokh to say something responsible to his largely conservative and libertarian audience. Over the last twenty-five years, it would have served the interests of UCLA's history department had it once – even only once – hired a high profile conservative or libertarian scholar, who might now speak a similar word to a similar audience.
The other thing, of course, is what my colleague, KC Johnson, has repeatedly pointed out. UCLA's history department is one of the nation's most important research faculties, with 21 active, full-time appointments in American history. Do any of them do mainstream American political history? Well, no. Constitutional, diplomatic, legal, military? None of those, either. Full in the knowledge that it was losing its primary recent American political historian, Jessica Wang, UCLA conducted a search this year for someone in recent cultural, environmental, labor, and urban history. More coal for Newcastle, please.
Two years ago, my colleague, Tim Burke, put the question in terms of the perfectly baked pie. Of course, he was correct. The issue is: how, with limited resources, do you allocate faculty positions? UCLA has a very large pie, but the filling tips heavily to one side of it.
I think the problem goes beyond the rather loose standard for who gets called a "radical" and the legality of invasion of professors' copyright through unauthorized taping of their classroom lectures. At issue is the chilling impact on freedom of speech, and I can do not better than to cite at length below the pertinent comments of Justice Douglas in another time of fear-mongering, when New York state's "Feinberg law" provided for firing of teachers deemed subversive, which carried, at least by implication, the surveillance of such teachers' classroom presentations.
"The very threat of such a procedure is certain to raise havoc with academic freedom. Youthful indiscretions, mistaken causes, misguided enthusiasms - all long forgotten - become the ghosts of a harrowing present. Any organization committed to a liberal cause, any group organized to revolt against an hysterical trend, any committee launched to sponsor an unpopular program becomes suspect. These are the organizations into which Communists often infiltrate. Their presence infects the whole, even though the project was not conceived in sin. A teacher caught in that mesh is almost certain to stand condemned. Fearing condemnation, she will tend to shrink from any association that stirs controversy. In that manner freedom of expression will be stifled.
But that is only part of it. Once a teacher's connection with a listed organization is shown, her views become subject to scrutiny to determine whether her membership in the organization is innocent or, if she was formerly a member, whether she has bona fide abandoned her membership.
The law inevitably turns the school system into a spying project. Regular loyalty reports on the teachers must be made out. The principals become detectives; the [342 U.S. 485, 510] students, the parents, the community become informers. Ears are cocked for tell-tale signs of disloyalty. The prejudices of the community come into play in searching out the disloyal. This is not the usual type of supervision which checks a teacher's competency; it is a system which searches for hidden meanings in a teacher's utterances.
What was the significance of the reference of the art teacher to socialism? Why was the history teacher so openly hostile to Franco Spain? Who heard overtones of revolution in the English teacher's discussion of the Grapes of Wrath? What was behind the praise of Soviet progress in metallurgy in the chemistry class? Was it not "subversive" for the teacher to cast doubt on the wisdom of the venture in Korea?
What happens under this law is typical of what happens in a police state. Teachers are under constant surveillance; their pasts are combed for signs of disloyalty; their utterances are watched for clues to dangerous thoughts. A pall is cast over the classrooms. There can be no real academic freedom in that environment. Where suspicion fills the air and holds scholars in line for fear of their jobs, there can be no exercise of the free intellect. Supineness and dogmatism take the place of inquiry. A "party line" - as dangerous as the "party line" of the Communists - lays hold. It is the "party line" of the orthodox view, of the conventional thought, of the accepted approach. A problem can no longer be pursued with impunity to its edges. Fear stalks the classroom. The teacher is no longer a stimulant to adventurous thinking; she becomes instead a pipe line for safe and sound information. A deadening dogma takes the place of free inquiry. Instruction tends to become sterile; pursuit of knowledge is discouraged; discussion often leaves off where it should begin.
This, I think, is what happens when a censor looks over a teacher's shoulder. This system of spying and [342 U.S. 485, 511] surveillance with its accompanying reports and trials cannot go hand in hand with academic freedom. It produces standardized thought, not the pursuit of truth. Yet it was the pursuit of truth which the First Amendment was designed to protect. A system which directly or inevitably has that effect is alien to our system and should be struck down. Its survival is a real threat to our way of life. We need be bold and adventuresome in our thinking to survive. A school system producing students trained as robots threatens to rob a generation of the versatility that has been perhaps our greatest distinction. The Framers knew the danger of dogmatism; they also knew the strength that comes when the mind is free, when ideas may be pursued wherever they lead. We forget these teachings of the First Amendment when we sustain this law." William O. Douglas, dissenting in
ADLER v. BOARD OF EDUCATION, 342 U.S. 485 (1952)
This point is apparently unclear. In a comment about another post, KC Johnson writes this:"A good part of the reasoning in the UCLAprofs site is unconvincing. But as far as I can tell, there's nothing untrue said about any of these professors."
Not so. There's untruth all over the place. Professors Joan Waugh and Naomi Lamoreaux are prominently pictured on the site's banner, and listed among those who've signed"radical" petitions. The single petition listed for both is a letter arguing against preemptive war, which puts Waugh and Lamoreaux in the radical company of Pat Buchanan and American Conservative magazine. No other arguments are given for their"radicalism"; their signatures on this single petition are enough to place their faces at the top of the page, labeled as radical and attacked -- the purpose of UCLA Profs -- for politicizing the university. I have worked for Joan Waugh, and taken graduate seminars with both Joan Waugh and Naomi Lamoreaux. Neither discussed their politics in the classroom. Look at their publishedscholarship:
Lamoreaux is a historian of American ecomomic enterprise -- who won awards, a couple of years ago, for a paper that challenged a particular reading of early American history that has been advanced by Marxist historians. (Simplifying, yes.) And so on; I defy someone to construe this as a piece of radical scholarship. Joan Waugh teaches a highly regarded class on the Civil War, and travels to Gettysburg with her students most summers. Can someone please make a serious case for these two professors being classified as"radical"? My own radical belief is that it is irreponsible to publicly attack people as something that they obviously are not. Speaking of which:
Take a look at the UCLA Profs profile of Ellen DuBois, which includes gems like this paragraph, and let's all play spot-the-problems together (emphasis added):
She and fellow History Department radical Joyce Appleby (an “active retiree,” so to speak) were the originators of the American Historians’ Petition, which gained fame for its relatively high participation (1,200 signatures), and for its insistence that “our members of Congress...assume their Constitutional responsibility to debate and vote on whether or not to declare war on Iraq.” The petition conveniently ignored the fact that the last time the U.S. Congress officially declared war was (drum roll, please) 1941. Confirmation that the petition as little more than a targeted slap at President Bush are found in the petition’s claims that the public discussion to date was “filled with rumors, leaks and speculations,” (as though this were somehow a new phenomenon in the American media). The petition further argued, “Since there was no discussion of Iraq during the 2000 presidential campaign, the election of George Bush cannot be claimed as a mandate for an attack.” Perhaps DuBois and Appleby forgot, but the 2000 election also failed to discuss the 9/11 attacks. Oddly enough, neither Osama Bin Laden nor Saddam Hussein were very high on Bush or Gore’s to-do list in those days, mainly because we hadn’t yet experienced a major terrorist attack.. Imagine that!
Of course, we verymuchhad experienced major terrorist attacks prior to the 2000 elections, and had responded with (politically significant) military force. Neither did Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden suddenly leap anew into American political consciousness, or onto the government's"to do list," after the 2000 elections. And would anyone like to defend the ridicule directed by UCLA Profs at the idea that Congress has the authority to declare war -- which somehow apparently lapsed, constitutionally, from misuse? Or is anyone up to making the case for Joyce Appleby as a radical? There is no defensible argument to be made that UCLA Profs says"nothing untrue" about"any of these professors." The site is sloppy and shoddy, and it absolutely does say untrue things about UCLA professors. Unless we want to argue about the line between"unconvincing" and"untrue," which is apparently the strongest line of defense available for Andrew Jones and his nasty little project.
Jones clearly patterns his efforts on those of David Horowitz, though there's no longer any official connection between them. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscriber only),
Mr. Horowitz said that while he objects to professors' injecting their politics into their teaching, Mr. Jones's approach of"baiting people" is wrong. Furthermore, he said, Mr. Jones used to work for him but he had to fire the UCLA activist after receiving complaints that Mr. Jones pressured students to file false reports about leftists. Mr. Horowitz accused Mr. Jones of stealing his donor list and has contacted his lawyer.
Jones should have known better than mess with the sources of David's money and he ought to pay heed to Volokh's more considered reactions.
Robert Samuelson,"America by the Numbers," Washington Post, 18 January, looks at some fascinating data in the newest edition of Historical Statistics of the United States (5 vols., Cambridge University Press, $825). One of the items he cites is the historical record of presidential vetoes. Successfully defending 626 of 635 and 179 of 181 vetoes, Samuelson points out, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower are the modern masters of the veto authority. What is remarkable about George Bush's presidency is that, five years into it, there's been no veto of any congressional act. You have to go back to James Garfield, says Samuelson, for a veto-less presidency. [ed.: And, er, Garfield was shot four months and died eight months after his inauguration.]
These data suggest that we've witnessed a dramatic change in the relations between the President and Congress. They're not explained by Congress being controlled by members of Bush's party. FDR's Democrats had overwhelming majorities in both the Senate and the House, but the New Deal congresses were much more willing to send up legislation the President didn't favor than the recent congresses has been. The other factor is President Bush's broad-ranging use of"signing statements." They have limited precedent in the Reagan and Clinton presidencies, but, according to one tally, George Bush has issued 500 of them in five years. In some cases, they've said, in effect,"I'm signing this bill and, when appropriate, I'll abide by it." Andrew Sullivan's"We Don't Need a New King George," Time, 15 January, explores the troubling implications for the republic.
On the face of it, the decision is a logical follow up to the Court’s 1997 decisions upholding the right of states to ban assisted suicide. This makes it a victory for states rights. As the late Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote in 1997:
"Throughout the nation, Americans are engaged in an earnest and profound debate about the morality, legality and practicality of physician-assisted suicide. Our holding permits this debate to continue, as it should in an [sic] democratic society"
That two of the Court’s biggest supporters of states’ rights, Scalia and Thomas, dissented is an indicator that the growing division over “gates of life questions” is beginning to overwhelm conservative support for the tenth amendment. Perhaps states' rights are reserved for the righteous.
One more thing, Kennedy’s reasoning, as reported, is pretty narrow. He focused on the narrowness of the category of patients so empowered. He also suggested that it was an overreach for the Attorney General to do this unilaterally. This latter point leaves open the possibility for a different verdict if federal law specifically banned medical assistance in suicide cases.
Added January 18: Here is a link to Gonzales v. Oregon. The opinions begin on page 5.
1. eat an apple,
2. launch a hoax,
3. make a friend of an enemy,
4. write a letter,
5. buy, borrow, or lend a book,
6. make a charitable donation,
7. invent a labor-saving device,
8. commit a sexual indiscretion,
9. organize a club,
10. buy insurance,
11. rig up an experiment with ordinary household items,
12. play a musical instrument,
13. go for a swim.
You might also listen to some fine music played on the glass armonica, an instrument Franklin invented.
(crossposted at (a)musings of a grad student)
But UCLA Profs doesn't just surveil the classroom; they also helpfully compile lists of professors who have signed"radical petitions" such as this statement decrying illegal torture and this statement asking the British government to undertake an honest assessment of the number of Iraqis killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sad, sad days. Horowitzians continually argue that the American left is nostalgic for the late 1960s. What's increasingly clear, however, is that the Horowitzians are nostalgic for the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Or maybe the mid1930s.
Quoted without comment from a January 18 Los Angeles Timesstory on the group and its founder, Andrew Jones:
He said he plans to show what he considers biased material to professors and administrators and seek to have teachers present more balanced lectures or possibly face reprimand...
Jones said he has lined up one student who, for $100 a class session, has agreed to provide tapes, detailed lecture notes and materials with what the group considers inappropriate opinion. He would not name the student or the professor whose class will be monitored.
Finally, Caleb McDaniel and eb at No Great Matter recommend that you familiarize yourself with the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, an excellent resource. They both illustrate a bit of what they've been able to do with it.
Here you will find her reporting for CSM [via natasha].
Her translator, Alan Enwiyah, was killed during her abduction. Riverbend remembers him.
I hope and pray that she returns home to her family, safe.
The decision was significant for another reason, however: it reminds us that even though Samuel Alito's likely elevation will create a block of four conservatives unlike anything seen on the Court since the Four Horsemen of 1937, the Court as currently constituted will be Anthony Kennedy's. And the jurisprudence of Kennedy, as Dahlia Lithwick points out, is even harder to predict than was Sandra Day O'Connor.
The essay, with the too-enjoyable subtitle"Cry the beloved continent," tries to rouse Europe from its slumber before it Slides Inexorably Over the Lip of the Abbatoir, and yadda yadda yadda."Even in this era of crisis," he writes to the whole of Europe,"we cling to the notion that in the eleventh hour you, Europe, will yet reawake, rediscover your heritage, and join with us in defending the idea of the West from this latest illiberal scourge of Islamic fascism."
The eleventh hour."Will yet reawake." Cough, cough.
Now, reality. There are almost too many places to begin, but a column by defense analyst David Smith in the October 12, 2005 issue of Jane's Defence Weekly seems like an especially good start. Smith notes that NATO members, who quickly realized after the Sept. 11 attacks that"Europe could be more vulnerable to terrorism than North America," began the immediate deployment of military assets to protect against al Qaeda attacks. Recognizing the vulnerability of international shipping to terrorists, NATO quickly launched a naval operation called Operation Active Endeavour, putting a joint force of German, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Turkish, British, and U.S. ships on patrol in the eastern Mediterranean. Elements of the force were in place in the first days of October, 2001."The mission," Smith writes of the task force,"is to intercept, escort, protect, disrupt, and deter criminal activity that may dovetail with terrorism." (Yes, that sentence is grammatically awkward.)
A similar joint task force, CTF 150, currently patrols the Arabian Sea. In December, a Dutch commodore took command of that task force...from the French vice-admiral who had been in charge. And European navies operating in that neighborhood have acted against threats. Many readers will remember that in 2002 the Spanish Navy boarded a ship bound for Yemen with a load of scud missiles from North Korea. The United States decided to let that ship sail on to deliver its cargo.
On the ground, European land forces (and others) reacted to the attacks of Sept. 11 with equal speed and seriousness, moving troops to Afghanistan to aid in the fight against al Qaeda warriors and their Taliban sponsors. As the website globalsecurity.org reported:"France had 2,000 military personnel in the region as of early November 2001. Japan, Germany, Italy and New Zealand have pledged to deploy ships and troops if needed. Turkey and Australia have announced that special operations forces would be deployed. Italy announced in early November that ships and aircraft, and up to 3,000 military personnel, would be deployed. The 3,900 Germans planned on deployment would include some 100 special operations troops. Turkey has committed 90 special forces troops and is prepared to send a peacekeeping force numbering about 3,000 if needed. By January 2002 special operations forces from Australia, Britain, France, Denmark, Germany and Turkey were on the ground in Afghanistan."
The European commitment to military operations in Afghanistan continue. The cover story of the November 9, 2005 issue of Jane's Defence Weekly was a long report on the efforts of the German Bundeswehr in that country, where German troops make up"the largest troop contingent for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afganistan."
Meanwhile, even a cursory reading of Jane's Defence Weekly -- which would maybe be a good source for someone who wished to make broad claims about the state of a continent's military forces -- shows the ridiculousness of Hanson's assertion that Europeans have"dismantled" their armed forces in the service of their"faith that war has become obsolete." Examples? Sure, in the order they come off the pile:
The December 9, 2005 issue reports on the extensive procurement agenda of the Dutch navy, the competition among European arms contractors for a NATO missile defense contract, and the development of a new self-propelled artillery platform for the Belgian army.
The October 26, 2005 issue reports on testing of prototypes for a new self-propelled artillery system to be fielded by the Swedish army, new developments in the British submarine fleet, the awarding of a contract to develop a new armored infantry combat vehicle with a 20 mm. cannon for the French army, and the development of a new 7.62 mm. sniper rifle for the Polish army.
The October 12, 2005 issue describes the German army's new infantry fighting vehicle, the German navy's new corvettes and upgraded frigates, and the newly awarded contract for the Swedish navy's new hovercraft.
The September 26, 2005 issue describes the Dutch army's new logistics trucks, the German army's new light armored vehicles, the plans of the Italian armed forces to improve their amphibious capabilities...
Bored yet? Because I can do this all day.
My point here is not to discuss the political implications of European force levels; I have no interest here in arguing for or against any particular size, shape, or role for Europe's armed forces. The point is simply to note that Victor Davis Hanson, the drum major for the band that keeps playing the specious March of the European Appeasement Weaklings (I think it's played slowly and in b-flat), plainly needs to aggress against the very most basic kinds of human reality in order to sustain his baffling and reductionist worldview.
In any case, I think Europe could probably have gotten by without the lecture.