The Greeks gave us tragedy — the idea that life is never fair. Terrible stuff for no reason tragically falls on good people. Life’s choices are sometimes only between the bad and the far worse.
In the plays of the ancient dramatists Aeschylus and Sophocles, heroism and nobility only arise out of tragedies.
The tragic hero refuses to blame the gods for his terrible fate. Instead, a Prometheus, Ajax or Oedipus prefers to fight against the odds. He thereby establishes a code of honor, even as defeat looms.
In contrast, modern Americans gave the world therapy.
Life must always be fair. If not, something or someone must be blamed. All good people deserve only a good life — or else.
A nation of victims soon becomes collectively paralyzed in fear of offending someone. Pay down the $20 trillion debt? Reform the unsustainable Social Security system? Ask the 47 percent of the population that pays no income tax to at least pay some?
Nope. Victims would allege that such belt-tightening is unfair and impossible — and hurtful to boot. So we do nothing as the rendezvous with financial collapse gets ever closer.
Does anyone think a culture of whiners can really build high-speed rail in California? Even its supporters want the noisy tracks built somewhere away from their homes.
Even animals get in on the new victimhood. To build a reservoir in drought-stricken California means oppressing the valley elderberry longhorn beetle or ignoring the feelings of the foothill yellow-legged frog.
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There is reason to worry about both candidates abusing power as president, because Obama and the press normalized executive overreach.
Donald Trump’s supporters see a potential Hillary Clinton victory in November as the end of any conservative chance to restore small government, constitutional protections, fiscal sanity, and personal liberty.
Clinton’s progressives swear that a Trump victory would spell the implosion of America as they know it, alleging Trump parallels with every dictator from Josef Stalin to Adolf Hitler.
Part of the frenzy over 2016 as a make-or-break election is because a closely divided Senate’s future may hinge on the coattails of the presidential winner. An aging Supreme Court may also translate into perhaps three to four court picks for the next president.
Yet such considerations only partly explain the current election frenzy.
The model of the imperial Obama presidency is the greater fear. Over the last eight years, Obama has transformed the powers of presidency in a way not seen in decades. Read more →
World events seem relatively calm, but repeated appeasement has built up pressure across the globe, and someone has to be there when crisis erupts.
This summer, President Obama was often golfing. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were promising to let the world be. The end of summer seemed sleepy, the world relatively calm.
The summer of 1914 in Europe also seemed quiet. But on July 28, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip with help from his accomplices, fellow Serbian separatists. That isolated act sparked World War I.
In the summer of 1939, most observers thought Adolf Hitler was finally through with his serial bullying. Appeasement supposedly had satiated his once enormous territorial appetites. But on September 1, Nazi Germany unexpectedly invaded Poland and touched off World War II, which consumed some 60 million lives.
Wars often seem to come out of nowhere, as unlikely events ignite long-simmering disputes into global conflagrations.
The instigators often are weaker attackers who foolishly assume that more powerful nations wish peace at any cost, and so will not react to opportunistic aggression.
Unfortunately, our late-summer calm of 2016 has masked a lot of festering tensions that are now coming to a head — largely due to disengagement by a supposedly tired United States.
In contrast, war, unlike individual states, does not sleep. Read more →
Beware international affairs the next five months, a dangerous period for America.
Deterrence is a nation’s ability to discourage aggressors by instilling in them a credible fear of punishment far greater than any perceived gain that could be achieved by an attack.
Deterrence is quite different from deference, which is a courteous accommodation to the will of another, often one deemed superior.
Deterrence is ultimately enhanced by the possession of overwhelming military force, but it is unfortunately not thereby ensured.
France, the Low Countries, and the British expeditionary force had a combined larger army, more tanks and comparable air forces, when Germany nevertheless attacked in surprise fashion and destroyed them in six weeks in May and June 1940. What the Allies lacked were not the guns and soldiers but the credibility that they would use them with dispatch, skill, and determination.
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By Victor Davis Hanson // Los Angeles Times
Borders are in the news as never before. With Muslim refugees flooding into the European Union from the Middle East, and with terrorism on the rise, a popular revolt is taking shape against the so-called Schengen Area agreements, which give free rights of movement within Europe. The European masses are not racists, but they now apparently wish to accept Middle Eastern immigrants only to the degree that these newcomers arrive legally and promise to become European in values and outlook—protocols that the EU essentially discarded decades ago as intolerant. Europeans are relearning that the continent’s external borders mark off very different approaches to culture and society from what prevails in North Africa or the Middle East. Read more →
The irrational aggressiveness of the Axis powers teaches us not to expect our enemies to be reasonable.
Seventy-five years ago, the world blew up in just six months.
World War II ostensibly started two years earlier, when Germany invaded Poland. In truth, after the rapid German defeat of Poland in September 1939, the conflict was mostly confined to Western Europe for nearly the next two years. By summer of 1940, only Britain had survived Hitler’s European victories.
The dormant European war only went global on June 22, 1941, when Germany suddenly surprise-attacked the Soviet Union, its former partner.
America and Asia were still not directly involved in the 1941 expansion of the war until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and British Malaya on December 7–8.
Yet the war was even then not truly global until Germany and Italy inexplicably declared war on the United States on December 11.
America was suddenly mired in a two-front war on land, sea, and in the air against the Axis powers — from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert, and from the coast of Florida to China.
These three calamitous events of 1941 marked the real beginning of World War II, in which some 65 million perished, more than 60 percent of them civilians.
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Affirming Muslim grievances has only increased the Arab world’s sense that Obama is weak.
When President Obama entered office, he dreamed that his hope-and-change messaging and his references to his familial Islamic roots would win over the Muslim world. The soon-to-be Nobel Peace Prize laureate would make the U.S. liked in the Middle East. Then, terrorism would decrease.
But, as with his approach to racial relations, Obama’s remedies proved worse than the original illness.
Obama gave his first presidential interview to Al Arabiya, noting that he has Muslims in his family. He implicitly blamed America’s strained relations with many Middle Eastern countries on his supposedly insensitive predecessor, George W. Bush.
The new message of the Obama administration was that the Islamic world was understandably hostile because of what America had done rather than what it represented.
Accordingly, all mention of radical Islam, and even the word “terrorism,” was airbrushed from the new administration’s vocabulary. Words to describe terrorism or the fight against it were replaced by embarrassing euphemisms like “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disaster,” and “workplace violence.”
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Our domestic tensions embolden our enemies.
By Victor Davis Hanson//National Review Online
Here is a sampling of some recent news abroad:
A Russian guard attacked a U.S. diplomatic official at the door to the American Embassy in Moscow, even as NATO leaders met to galvanize against the next act of Russian aggression.
The Islamic State continued its global terrorist rampage with horrific attacks in Baghdad and Istanbul.
Iran rebuffed United Nations warnings and defiantly boasted that it will continue testing ballistic missiles. German intelligence believes that Iran, empowered by the release of $100 billion in impounded cash, is violating its recent American-led nonproliferation deal in an effort to import nuclear bomb-making technology.
North Korea conducted a test (unsuccessful, apparently) of a submarine-based guided missile.
There are various ways of interpreting these ominous events.
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by Victor Davis Hanson//National Review Online
Following the Brexit, Europe may witness even more plebiscites against the undemocratic European Union throughout the continent.
The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations, and more redistributive taxes.
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