I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight

The usual quit now and avoid the rush folks are out in force at Winds of Change. One of them comes up with the clever idea that in geopolitics it is wise to avoid moves whose outcome is uncertain. Of course that cedes all uncertain ground to our enemies. Given that most of life is uncertain that is a lot of territory.

Here are some of my remarks on the subject. Revised and extended.

Avoid uncertain outcomes?

Prediction is hard, especially about the future.


What I would like to avoid is certain outcomes. If America or Israel gets hit hard enough a nuclear war will ensue. That is a certain outcome I'd like to avoid.


I understand though. In 1936 all the Europeans wanted to do was to avoid 10,000 certain deaths from a confrontation with Germany. And by golly they avoided that certain outcome.

The results of avoidance turned out to be rather uncertain after all. Who at the beginning of 1939 could predict 50 million dead by Sept '45? In January of 1942 was even 10 million dead on the horizon?


So the question you have to ask yourselves: are we dealing with the USSR or Nazi Germany? Are we dealing with cold calculators? Or frenzied mad men? Are we looking at an enemy who has a plan for paradise on Earth? Or is paradise to be obtained elsewhere? A chicken in every pot or Valhalla?

Once you know that you can decide what effort is worth it.

If an enemy is undeterable then you have to kill enough of them so that their followers lose faith.

Here is a little hint to help you along: "Mein Kampf" is a best seller in the Middle East.


So they [the Government] go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. Sir Winston Churchill, Hansard, November 12, 1936

If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves. Winston Churchill

One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Winston Churchill

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill

War is mainly a catalogue of blunders. Winston Churchill

Moral of the Work. In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill. Winston Churchill

Never, never, never give up. Winston Churchill

Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer. Winston Churchill


Now gentlemen measure yourselves against that kind of will. Do you have the courage to say no defeat is final?

So Iraq is going badly.

So what?

Our enemies are stalemated just as much as we are. We only have to fight one day more than they do. However long that takes.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 03.08.07 at 07:38 AM


Mein Kampf is a bestseller in the Mideast.

So why is that Glenn Reynolds' remark -- that fighting and winning a smaller war now is the best way to avoid the genocidal war our enemies want -- gets him accused of being a murderous genocidal fascist?

See my post (and if you have the stomach, follow the Greenwald and Sadly No! links):


According to the Greenwald Law, if the enemy wants an all out, worldwide, genocidal war and you want to avoid that by taking precautions now, you're said to be advocating genocide.

Can you explain the logic? I can't. Because there is no logic. But if there's one thing I've learned in nearly four years of blogging, it's that defeating the logic of an argument does not defeat the argument.

I'm sorry to sound like a pessimist (or worse, an angry ex lawyer), but the process almost reminds me of litigation.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 8, 2007 8:51 AM

Well, sir, I'm glad you're on the right side. Please keep on. But while you are correct, we can't give up on logic. With all its flaws and inability to convince those who think with their feelings, it's basically all we've got. The uncertain remain amenable to it.

Fred Beloit   ·  March 8, 2007 3:50 PM

Thank you.

Patty   ·  March 8, 2007 10:33 PM

Post a comment

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits