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Did I ever mention that Victor Davis Hanson is brilliant? I really don't know how to put into words how simple, consise, and profound his writing is.

His latest piece What Would Patton Say About The Present War? is an adaptation of a lecture he gave back in June. In it he attempts to assertain what George Patton, the famous WWII general, would have to say about the War On Terror. He ends his lecture with:
Finally, like Thucydides, Patton appreciated that the emotions that sophisticated people sometimes think are so unimportant—such as fear, pride, and honor—in fact are what drive us humans, and therefore must be addressed in any total war. We chuckle at his attention to dress, protocol, medals, speeches, and theatrics; but this obsession was not vanity as much as acceptance that soldiers are proud and sensitive beings, and must be rewarded and punished in visible ways, war being the essence of human emotion. By the same token, military operations are more than just ground taken and held, but powerfully symbolic, conveying to third-parties either hope or dejection when they see armies routed from the battlefield.

Today, millions in the Islamic world are watching the West struggle against Islamic fascism. Perhaps deep down inside they prefer, logically and with some idealism, to live under Western-style freedom and democratic auspices. And yet nationalism, pride, religion, and ethnic solidarity war with reason, combining to produce far greater resentment against a powerful, Western America, even when it brings the very freedom that the Arabs for decades have said they wished. A modern Patton would not be bothered by such inconsistency, but rather have made sure that he had not only defeated the terrorists and their supporters, but had done so in such damaging fashion that none in the Middle East might find such a repugnant cause at all romantic, bringing as it did utter ruin as the wage of the wrath of the United States.

Patton, who was both learned and yet not smug about the power of the primordial emotions, understood perfectly the irrational nature of warfare, and the effect that utter defeat or glorious victory have upon an otherwise rational people. No wonder he hated war defined as a purely bureaucratic enterprise or a purely material and industrial challenge, inasmuch as neither can change the hearts of men that need to be changed, usually increase the body count, and rarely lead to lasting peace. We should remember wild-eyed George Patton in our Fallujahs to come.
As always go and read the whole thing.

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