Sunday, May 21, 2006

The New Year Comes With Bombs

Seventh in an occasional series on the poetry of Louis MacNeice
Bombed bus, London, 1940

As 1939 drew to a close, the “Phony War” was about halfway over, although people at the time had no way to know that. All they knew was that catastrophe would eventually arrive; after Hitler and Stalin cracked the last of Poland’s bones and sucked out all the marrow, the attention of the Nazis would perforce turn westwards, and doom would surely come.

Except for those few in Britain who believed that letting the great dictators divide up the Continent would spare the British Empire from a similar fate, appeasement was no longer an option. Hitler had made his intention clear, and another Great War was about to begin.

Louis MacNeice’s greatest poem, “Autumn Journal”, was written during this late 1939 twilight. Part XXIV is the conclusion, in which the poet turns from all his other themes to face grimly what is to come.

From “Autumn Journal” (Part XXIV)
By Louis MacNeice


Sleep serene, avoid the backward
     Glance; go forward, dreams, and do not halt
(Behind you in the desert stands a token
     Of doubt — a pillar of salt).
Sleep, the past, and wake, the future,
     And walk out promptly through the open door;
But you, my coward doubts, may go on sleeping,
     You need not wake again — not any more.
The New Year comes with bombs, it is too late
     To dose the dead with honourable intentions:
If you have honour to spare, employ it on the living;
     The dead are dead as Nineteen-Thirty-Eight.
Sleep to the noise of running water
     To-morrow to be crossed, however deep;
This is no river of the dead or Lethe,
     To-night we sleep
On the banks of Rubicon — the die is cast;
     There will be time to audit
The accounts later, there will be sunlight later
     And the equation will come out at last.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

It’s no secret that Gates of Vienna considers our present time to be a reprise of the late 1930s. Doom is coming, but when?

We’re somewhere between the Anschluss and Dunkirk, but where, exactly?

When the Wehrmacht entered Austria in 1938, and all the Deutschesvolk were united for the first time ever, the shape of things to come became clear. From our vantage point, the events from then until the catastrophe at Dunkirk unfolded in a natural and inevitable sequence: the appeasement at Munich, Kristallnacht, the abrogation of Munich when the Germans overran Czechoslovakia, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the invasion of Poland, the Phony War, the Nazi occupation of Denmark and Norway, and, finally, the fall of France. Once that desperate fleet of little boats carried the British Expeditionary Force back to England, the “real” war finally began.

But in 1938 all this hadn’t seemed inevitable. Dire times were definitely ahead, particularly for the Jews and Eastern Europe, but… surely there was a way that Britain could be spared? Give Herr Hitler what he wants, and we will have peace, right?

That’s what appeasement is all about. That’s why the Europeans — whose lessons of history seem to have been neglected of late — offer Iran a light water reactor, trade concessions, jumbo jets, the kitchen sink, and anything else they can think of, desperately trying to obtain peace in our time. That’s why our State Department considers talking to the mullahs, and Hamas, and any other blood-drenched terrorist group that happens into our field of view. Make enough concessions, throw them a bone or two, and maybe they’ll leave us alone and settle for the Jews and the Hindus and the Sikhs and the Buddhists…

And, just as in 1938, the intelligent and resourceful people of Europe are fleeing to the United States. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the first, Flemming Rose may well be next, and then who? Paul Belien? Anyone else who speaks out publicly against the smelly little orthodoxies of our time?

To make matters worse, we have institutionalized appeasement in the form of the United Nations. We’ve created and funded an entire army of bureaucratic appeasers, a myriad faceless clones of Chamberlain and Daladier, people whose careers and corrupt livelihoods depend on placating and befriending and cosseting and flattering the most appalling tyrants and mass murderers. All pretense of deterring aggression is gone, and we are left with the pursuit of peace at any price, a “peace” which means that anyone except the Western democracies may engage in plunder and slaughter as they see fit, while the U.N. expresses “grave concern”.

Our catastrophe isn’t here yet — we have yet to experience our Dunkirk — but we are coming up on 1940 awfully quickly.

Wretchard has placed us in the Phony War, but I don’t think we’re there yet. In order to be in the Phony War, we’d have to have given up all the illusions of appeasement, and fatalistically accepted the coming cataclysm.

That definitely hasn’t happened yet. That’s why we let Hamas govern Palestine, and help fund it. That’s why we’re going to watch helplessly while the mullahs get the bomb. That’s why we can’t do anything about the Wahhabists in Saudi Arabia and the Salafists in Pakistan. We have this quaint notion that somehow we might be spared the shape of things to come.

But we won’t. Our Dunkirk will arrive, and the little boats will haul our remnant across the water. What form will the disaster take? The detonation of the mullahs’ first nuclear weapon? The incineration of Tel Aviv? A container of biotoxins slipped through our laughable port security or over our southern border, and unleashed in a major city?

Our Rubicon is coming. It is too late to dose the dead with honorable intentions.

14 comments:

XY said...

Powerful writing. Posts like these chill me to the bone. Seriously, I feel fear of dying upon reading it, while at the same time enjoying its clarity and truth.

XY said...

...and bwt I wasn't specifically referring to the poem, but the post in general.

Baron Bodissey said...

John,

Thank you. Yes, I realized what you meant.

I've been using his poems to try to develop a synergy of memes between the late '30s and our time.

blert said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
blert said...

IF we get a Dunkirk....

Ahmadi-Nejad has flung the gauntlet -- yet the press finds it somehow perfumed. The insult is not acknowledged.

The Iranians have let slip that their grand strategy is to nuke us all in one go. Their first strike is to be the only strike needed: total decapitation of the West.

Somehow our citizens are sure that they can 'handle' a first blow and that we can effect a counter blow -- that WWIV will repeat WWII. Right off, you know that can’t possibly be true.

We have ‘Lefted’ ourselves right out of preemptive defense.

Our MSM have buried the reality of WMD in Iraq. 'Retail' discoveries of binary nerve agents fashioned into IED's are surpressed. (Probably with reason: these munitions are still floating around Iraq – or America.)

Journalists are so dull that they refuse to acknowledge that trivial quantities of the right strain are NOT trivial. Germs do grow exponentially. All bio-warfare expertise is focused on finding the right strains. Scale up can happen at a stroke and with modest dollars.

Iran already has the bomb -- admittedly in token amounts. Nuclear weapons are pitched to the masses as so challenging to make that the Iranians can't pull it off. This is a racist and bigoted view. We crossed the threshold 60 years ago. With each decade the techno-barrier drops. NO SERIOUS EFFORT HAS EVER FAILED. No serious effort was ever detected in time – except when the Los Alamos crew spilled the beans to Moscow.

Consequently, all debate occurs within an elitist fantasy: with manufactured facts and sculpted conclusions. The product being both touchy-feely and pretty. Being new wave you could be forgiven for not connecting it to reality.

President Bush is not so much a war leader but a war manager. His downfall is even attempting to satisfy his critics on the Left. Wooing them is killing his polls.

Pastorius said...

Yes, Baron, I agree. I think we crossed the line, just a few months ago. Back then, I think we could have ended our problems with Iran relatively easily. Now, we have only allowed Europe, China and Russia to become more hardened in their stance against military intervention.

Furthermore, a few months ago, we still had the option of putting a stop to the Paris Intifada and the Cartoon Jihad. The fact that we didn't do anything but appease signaled that we aren't serious.

Furthermore, Iran is that much closer to having their bomb, and North Korea is close to having a 15,000 mile ICBM.

Both countries are emboldened, and we are weakened, because of the aforementioned hardened stances, and because we have allowed the UN to tie us up.

I am amazed that we have let things get so out of control. In Feb. and March of 2005 we had tremendous momentum.

But, we've let the opportunity pass, and now we wait until something happens, and that something may very well turn out to be earth-shattering.

Christine said...

A palpable tension is in the air. A low hiss, a hum and crackle.

Only heard by those who dare...

hear it.

Thank you Baron.

bioqubit said...

The analysis is an overdone, morose, fixation on the past. I do not buy for a minute that we do not know what is happening in Iran at the highest levels and in the greatest detail. The ones who need to keep their mouths shut continue to do so.

Iran's capabilities are vastly overblown. Theirs is a cobbled together proxy military of discards and second rate technology from Russia, China, Germany, France, and North Korea. Air superiority is critical in any extended conflict. They don't have it. They claim to make their own subs. Yeah? I would like to see how long they can stay under and not pop a leak. And, oh yes, they have a real advantage in that dream of a hiding ground for submariners, the Straits of Hormuz. Of course they are trouble makers and can do even more damage. But at the end of they day - they lose.

I'm sorry. That kind of Russian-esque, depressive, perspective of the world situation is not taking into account the 400 or more companies that do business in Iran. Let me guess, not a one of them is talking? Not a one of them is sharing any information with us about what the Iranians are really up to? You give them too much credit, and us too little.

That doesn't mean there is not a worrisome drift to world events - there clearly is. But I am appealing here for a more clear headed state of mind that does not make every general's first mistake - fighting the last war.

Instead, we need to think, yes, outside the box more in order to get a sense of what might really happen.

Whatever "they" do has to slip by us. Slip by our satellites, our video cameras, our radiation detectors, our infra-red detectors that can penetrate walls, our biosensors for detecting biowarfare agents, and God knows what else has been prepared in secret.

Yes, someone is going to point out the flawed airport screening system. Fine. But you have to weigh everything in the balance.

In terms of clear and present danger, I find more to worry about in the short-sighted political pandering in Washington than anywhere else.

I offer that folks like you and Wretchard have developed such sharp senses for interpreting events that you overlooked the possibility that you have become too sensitive. That also means it puts you ahead of your time while having mentally already run out some critical simulations and seen the horrible results.

I find that there are too many different ways events can go which will suck the wind out of your depressing outlook.

Tomorrow, that could all change. Who knows? You have staked out some very disturbing territory. But I have to believe that enough Europeans will sound off to prevent them from really turning into Eurabia. I have to believe that enough Americans will finally stand up to straighten out the nonsense in the illegal immigration issue. - and that the mumbo jumbo legal structure for protecting terrorists will get washed away soon.

enuff said...

Given the ‘The German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact(Treaty)’ was signed August 23, 1939, in relative terms, this would appear indicative that time has essentially run-out. Poland was invaded September 1st and two days later an official state of war existed:

EU3 Acknowledges Security Guarantees as Key to Resolving Iran's Nuke Crisis

The same agency also reports: Security Guarantees Needed by US, not Iran

While I certainly wouldn’t expect to see events follow as close a timeline(not withstanding pure coincidence), if the Iranian’s can extract a common defense posture from the ‘Trio’ - a pact which would demand the Euro’s be a determined ally in defense of Iran’s sovereignty - in conjunction with Russia and China - they will probably make some very precipitous advances in the neighborhood very shortly. This is evidenced in part by any number of very provocative statements by various Iranian state officials. In addition, Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Foreign Minister have together, or separately, been making security advances with/to a number of the regional states; most notable from my perspective, have been Syria, Pakistan and today Kuwait. They are also aligned with any number of proxy organizations - Hamas and Hizbollah in particular. Again, from my prospective, this would appear to indicate Iran is both prepared and ready - or very close to being prepared and ready - of being capable in coordinating mobile(guerrilla/terrorist)operations(offensives) with conventional(positional) armed forces.

Here are the recent headlines which caught my attention with respect to Kuwait:

Iranian FM Arrives in Kuwait

Kuwaiti Amir dissolves parliament, calls for elections June 29, 2006

Kuwaiti military delegation visits Syria

Lone Ranger said...

I propose an alternative scenario: The most dangerous movement afoot by the Islamacist movement is not being carried out by adults, in the circles of diplomacy, or military-industrial technology.

The most dangerous front in this war for global domination, subjugation, and annihilation is unfolding among the masses of 12-16 year old Islamic adherants - spread out in madrasses and Islamic ghettos in virtually every part of the world.

Their multitudes are staggering. The force of their decentralized presence is emerging gradually - virtually everywhere.

These masses do not have a broad education. They are not being trained to work, or to cooperate within a multicultural global community.

They are being indoctrinated and hardened for one thing only - to fight, and take over the world.

"But they are just children". So were the murderous Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot.

All the granstanding on the broad global stage is just a feint, designed to focus the attention of the world's major powers away from the true, insidious threat that is relentlessly growing - like a tsunami moving across open water - just a minor surface bulge in deep water. But - wait until the power of that diffused force is concentrated near the shore.

If it is not already too late, it soon will be too late to counter this force. And - any effort to dispell this threat is going to require a brutal, savage bloodlettnig like the world has never before known - making the 60+ million dead of World War II look like a sound check. A war of annihilation is underway, and only one side realizes it.

The next 60 years will be painful nightmare. May the West wake up before it is too late.

Baron - Your blog is important - keep up the drumbeat.

sirius_sir said...

The madrassas were widely recognized as being a big problem very soon after 9/11. The Saudis continue to fund and support these schools of radical Islamist indoctrination, though they claim to be trying to encourage a more benign and less confrontational Islam.

But one look at even a 'revised' textbook shows us they, and we, have a long way to go: Link

Baron Bodissey said...

bioqubit --

My outlook is indeed "depressing". It certainly depresses me. The question is, "Do we have reason to be depressed?"

I think we do.

And I think examining Iran's traditional military capabilities is a profound strategic error, for that is not what the next Great War will be fought with. The next Great War will be a combination of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, demography, and the information war. It has already begun, and may go on very slowly and for a very long time.

Our enemy has only to detonate one nuclear weapon successfully against its target in order to overthrow the comfortable international order which has held sway for so long. The capability of co-ordinated worldwide terror attacks, combined with intimidation (like the Motoon Affair), migration, and shrewd use of our media, will make this battle at least an even match.

I think we are in for a major nasty surprise, but I hope I am wrong.

sliceomatic said...

I think your'e right about the nasty surprises. But I dont believe it will be just from a player like Iran. Russia has the means, and I believe the will to change the status quo.

With backing from the Ruskies, Iran can hold the world hostage, and the US will have to make a choice between all out nuclear war with Russia, or just try to "manage" the situation by sitting helplessly on our hands. I'm not sure our government can do what it takes in today B.S. political environment.

bioqubit said...

A worst case scenario like a nuclear blast in NYC, or even an EMP type blast affecting America or Europe will get the same results. An overwhelming retaliation.

Terrorism, WMDs, funding those groups. This is all known. They are not fooling anyone.

Anything short of some notion of total victory with such tactics, will be total folly. Since they are in no position to achieve that, all they will do is cause great human suffering until they are eliminated.

As a lesson the overly clever chaps in Tehran may want to consider, in retrospect, Pearl Harbor was a huge blunder by the Japanese. If the objective was to: 1) Expand the empire by hitting an enemy - they certainly failed, 2)Cripple the enemy for years to come - that would be even more stupid- it would only be a matter of time before we would mount a full scale response. Moreover, the nature of the attack on Pearl Harbor was woefully inadequate. Sixty some ships in the harbor, they only hit 20 plus. Of those, all but three went back into service to fight the Japanese. The net take for them was three ships and some aircraft. As a military adventure intended to cripple a fleet - those were pretty piss poor results.

The same point applies to the Iranians in their self-important notions of what they can accomplish. Somewhere, they are going to trip themselves up before they pull a fast one on the West. Then the jig will be up. Moreover, all is not rosy within their borders. Iranian Kurds to the north have a few issues with Tehran, and the folks in the south ain't exactly in love with the Mullahs either. No surprise we have more than just some HUMINT settlin' in just nice and cozy like with them folks. That the mullahs could possibly find themselves up to their ass in alligators within their own borders is not a forgone conclusion.

So, my point is that, eventually the mullahs get neutralized without getting vaporized. Then, the real problem is getting the folks in Europe to get more of a spine. Your accounts of Sweden show it is going to be very tough to put it mildly.

I have to say that over time, Muslims can be just as capable of lapsing as practitioners of any religion. There was a Freerepublic article bemoaning how British Jews are assimilating and disappearing into British secular society at an alarming rate primarily because of the tolerant and diverse character of modern British culture. You know what? Let's have a little research on the extent of similar assimilation patterns for Muslims in the UK. Think it's not happening? Don't bet on it. Yeah, you've got those violent loud mouths. There is a possibility the softness of time will take care of them.

Also, I remember reading how the Nazi's, in two short years, became so used to the French life - all that good wine, cheese and bread, -a number of them lost their fighting spirit. Life was just too sweet. Fresh cream, the French girls...

Yes, the problem is that French muslims have been pushed into these horrible "isolated" enclaves. That throws a monkey wrench into assimilation. I have to believe that the desire to hold on to some notion of a French culture will make them deal more effectively with the situation than they have to date.

In general, the forces of assimilation will suck the life out of much of their violent tendencies. A heck of a prediction...we'll see.