April 10, 2007


I finished Victor Davis Hanson's awesome The Soul of Battle last night. This is how the book ends, in the epilogue called "The End of the Democratic Marches?" published in 1999:

Had Epaminondas led the Allies in Desert Storm, he would have set up new defensible societies for the Kurds and Shiites, and held of the Iraqi Army until both cultures were safe from retribution. Sherman would have preferred to cut a swath through Iraq, leveling every one of Saddam's "palaces," torching his munitions factories and the entire industrial infrastructure of his war-mkaing, and destroying for good measure the homes of the Baath party elite, who should learn the wages of supporting a murderer. Patton, of course, would have headed straight for the Iraqi capital and not left until the Republican Guard was annihilated and Saddam Hussein was dead or in chains.
The great danger of the present age is that democracy may never again marshal the will to march against and ultimately destroy evil. In the era of television, the image of war's brutality in our living rooms may stop the attack; the education system of the present, with its interest in self-esteem, sensitivity, and the therapeutic, may not turn out sufficiently idiosyncratic audacious -- and well-read -- leaders; and instant communications may serve to bridle a mobile column at its moment of victory. But even a greater peril still in present-day democratic society is that we may simply have forgotten that there finally must be a choice between good and evil, that the real immorality is not the use of great force to inflict punishment, but, as the Greeks remind us, the failure to exercise moral authority at all. When men like Epaminondas, Sherman, and Patton go to war to stop evil and to save lives, there is a soul to their battle that lives on well after they are gone.

As Clinton said, Think about that the next time you're high.

Posted by Sarah at April 10, 2007 07:55 AM | TrackBack

In order to fight evil, we have to admit that evil exists. In a society that is fraught with "root causes" and looks for excuses rather than solutions, I do worry.

Very, very much.

Posted by: airforcewife at April 10, 2007 07:19 PM

The great danger of the present age is that democracy may never again marshal the will to march against and ultimately destroy evil.

I think, and I definitely hope that VDH is wrong on this score. Democracy will take a lot of abuse, much more than it ever should, but it can only be pushed so far. One too many 9/11-type events and democracy will take the gloves off, and what happens next won't be pretty for anybody.

Nice blog you have going btw. The John Stuart Mill quotation attracted me, JSM being my favorite philosopher (I'm Utilitarian all the way), and that particular quote of his my favorite. I think I'll add you to my blogroll.

Posted by: hydralisk at April 10, 2007 10:33 PM