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Dien Bien Phu & Ivins


Interesting email:

Every French soldier who was in Indo-China volunteered to be Indo-China. So every last Frenchman at Dien Bien Phu was a volunteer who knew that they were volunteering for combat. They were untypical examples of the French (or anyone else’s) military. The reason that all of Vietnam was not handed over to Ho Chi Minh in 1954 was that the French threatened to get serious and send non-volunteers there so that there would finally be sufficient troops to fight his forces. This information is available in Bernard Fall’s histories which were widely available in the 1960’s. “Hell In a Very Small Space” deals with Dien Bien Phu. She should be ashamed not to have read Mr. Fall’s books during the Vietnam era.

She said one thing accurately, but by it was by mistake. She said “The trouble we could have saved ourselves if we had only paid attention to Dien Bien Phu.” Had Eisenhower supported the French requests to use our bombers based in the Philippines to bomb around Dien Bien Phu, Ho Chi Minh may have not been able to form a government. To his shame, Eisenhower refused to do it unless he had support from all the Congressional leaders, and Lyndon Johnson (to his greater shame) did not support it.

Bombs Away!


NOVA has decided to broadcast its episode on dirty bombs next Tuesday night, rather than in late March. (Get listings for your area here.) The folks at WGBH have just sent me an advance tape, so I’ll watch it and write a preview for NRO before it airs.


Fox and The Hound: The Conclusion


The doggie stranded on the ice floe was rescued. Arf.

Web Briefing: December 20, 2014

Hmmm. Push Comes to Shove Over Iraq…


…and Sen. Hagel is still defending France.

If I ever compared him to John McCain, I apologize. Totally unfair to the Arizona senator…


More Ivins


I have to apologize. In my zeal to defend my own positions I rolled right pass an absolutely outrageous and actually quite disgusting comment in Ivins’ column. She writes:

For those of you who have not read Paris 1919, I recommend it highly. Roosevelt was anti-colonialist. That system was a great evil, a greater horror even than Nazism or Stalinism.

The contra-factual stuff about Roosevelt is just boring. But the suggestion that colonialism was a greater horror than Nazism or Stalinism is so stupid and so repugnant it really must be addressed. Does she know what she’s saying? Doesn’t she know how many tens of thousands of brave colonial troops fought side by side with the British against the Germans and the Japanese? And whereas there are many defenders of British colonialism – and other colonial regimes – I think she will have to look under a lot of rocks to find defenders of the death camps of the Holocaust. Considering that Nazism and Stalinism represented the very worst kind of colonialism, one wonders what it was about the Raj that Ivins considers worse than Stalin’s collectivization or the rape of Poland.

When you re-read her column it becomes clear that she just likes pointing out she read some books and saw some movies, it’s far less clear that she understood them.

For The Record


Jonah, if you really want to talk about a ‘foreign legion’ manned by the French, there’s always the Charlemagne Division of the SS. Strangely, Molly Ivins seems to have omitted them from her article.



From one of my regular reader correspondents:

As a black person with a sense of humor, that “commercial” is very funny. Though I do wish the person or persons who coined the term “ebonics” and advocated it, would be shot and their bodies dragged through the center of their respective towns. Damn fools had to give an name for poor english and embarass themselves and our community by advocating for that crap.

I be wishing day got der asses kick for that sh*t.

Can you have a person declared non-black (other than for being a registered republican or “out” conservative)?

Re: Schools


Kathryn, I think readers would be shocked to know the kinds of things that GLSEN and their allies in state government were doing in Massachusetts. I wrote this for the Weekly Standard a couple of years ago, about how two Mass. fathers were appalled by the sort of sex education the state and GLSEN were providing schoolchildren. They taped a state-sponsored presentation, and made the tape public. Then their ordeal began. These guys have been sued to within an inch of their lives by the gay Left, and have been violently threatened. I talked to one of the men, Brian Camenker, a couple of weeks ago. These guys could use some help to pay their legal bills, which are massive and ongoing — all because they challenged activists that insisted on teaching public schoolchildren about sex techniques, and encouraging them to explore their sexuality, in the name of promoting “safety.” Find out more about the resistance to this sort of thing here. As Camenker points out, GLSEN is trying to bring these types of programs to schools nationwide. I personally reviewed GLSEN material explaining how to “queer” elementary school curricula. This stuff is unbelievable, and parents should know about it. It’s one thing for schools to demand respect and tolerance for gay students, who deserve that not because they are gay, but because they are human beings. This GLSEN business is something else entirely.

Interesting Stuff


I don’t always have the nicest things to say about Slate, but I must say this is a really good feature and I wish we’d done it first. Slate asked a bunch of people where they come down on war. Some interesting answers. For example, Paul Glastris of the Washington Monthly favors war and Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute opposes it. Charles Murray, author of “What it Means to be a Libertarian” favors war based on the Bush administration’s say-so.

Corner Classic


I’m pretty sure I posted this a long time ago, but the ebonic Delta commercial remains a classic.

Why Can’t Paul Gigot Be The Editor of The Whole Journal?


An unfair piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (“Schools’ Efforts to Protect Gays Encounter Opposition”–in print edition and online only available to subscibers) about efforts to fight the bullying of homosexual kids in schools. Conservative, Christian, family groups are part of the bullying problem, most readers would understandably conclude after reading the “news” story. Meanwhile, groups above political labels defend kids from bullies. Human Rights Watch, for instance, comes off as some agenda-less groups only caring for the welfare of kids. The article uses the word “conservative” four times, labeling the Family Research Council and the West Virginia Family Foundation, among others. But never does the word “liberal” appear alongside the names of groups like the Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Watch, and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Military and Affirmative Action


Thanks for all the e-mails. Here is a good one. Does this sound right to people?

E-mail: “The reason affirmative action works for the services is we are the only employer who has the time, energy, and resources to provide the extra oomph to get the poorly prepared person to parity with their peers, officer or enlisted. Officer candidates accepted to the academies don’t miss class – they walk ‘tours’ and suffer other unpleasant consequences if they do. They have mandatory study hours – and people check to ensure they are studying. Their peers are organized and motivated to help them if they need it (key cultural component of military morale).

If they are doing poorly, they are in remedial classes almost immediately. There are people from upperclassmen, tac officers, and faculty whose job it is to spend the extra time with these people to get them past their deficiencies and up to the minimum standard and beyond. The same is also true of soldiers in general – at least in basic training. Once you get into actual deployable units the support is somewhat less, and more variable based on leadership and other constraints – but in our initial entry processes (OTHER than the ROTC) the support structure is immense. If you aren’t properly prepared, but are willing to put in the time, we’ll get you through.

But, as I said, no one else can afford that. And if you are an ROTC cadet – that kind of support isn’t really there, either. Why? Because you are where, a major university, like, oh, say, Michigan? While the ROTC cadre will do what they can, there are only 3-8 of them or so, and may not have the academic background or experience to help, and don’t have resources to procure that help if it is available – and unlike academy cadets, who are subject military discipline, ROTC cadets are not, except in a limited fashion after they sign the contract.”

Inactivists and Iraq


Over the last few months several readers have queried me on what they see as an inconsistency on my part. As longtime readers know, I am a champion of what I like to call “inactivism.” Inactivism can be summarized by Calvin Coolidge’s observation that “When you see ten problems rolling down the road, if you don’t do anything, nine of them will roll into a ditch before they get to you.”

These readers also note that I am in favor of an activist foreign policy when it comes to Iraq — and a few other places as well — and they accuse me of hypocrisy. It’s a fair point as far as it goes in that I’ve never made a distinction between foreign and domestic policy when it comes to inactivism. But there is an important distinction here. In a decent, democratic, society individuals and associations of individuals can be trusted to regulate themselves and each other with minimal governmental — especially minimal federal — interference. Businesses solve their own problems without Washington, property owners protect their own property, communities devise ways to protect their citizens. Etc.

In the international arena these rules do not apply. Here, a state of nature exists. Here, states, peoples, nations and faiths often vie in a zero-sum environment. And these actors must act on their interests to regulate the “global community.” In America, we can count on the fact that most individuals share common values, common understandings of self-interest and common agreement upon the rules of settling disputes. Such a regime doesn’t exist outside our borders, except perhaps among a few allies or on a few subjects like trade. Many regimes and movements would gladly destroy or at minimum harm America if they had the means. It is up to our government to make sure that doesn’t happen. There is no conflict with inactivism because the global arena is a libertarian environment and therefore we must take it upon ourselves to deal with criminal actors — not rely on some global superstate to fix problems.

Also, keep in mind that even the inactivist recognizes that 1 in 10 problems are real problems in need of our attention. We are not considering waging war on 10% of the bad actors in the world.

Shut Up, Chiraq, Too




Molly Ivins, fast approaching the “whatever happened to Molly Ivins?” stage of her career chastizes me in her latest column . In a sense this is progress since last time she wrote about me she pretended she hadn’t heard of me. She called me “some juvenile jerk attacking Canadians as a bunch of wimpy wimps.” I doubt she hadn’t heard of me, but her schtick is to sound more important than she is, so fair’s fair. Anyway, she mentions me by name today, and is less snarky about it, so I guess that’s even more progress. As for the gist of her article, she likes France and she thinks they are very brave. She cites the 100,000 French soldiers who died defending France and she is surely right to call them brave. But what about the 37 divisions which surrendered en masse? She mentions the Foreign Legion at Dien Bien Phu — and the Foreign Legion is most assuredly very, very brave. Alas, the Foreign Legion, historically speaking, was also mostly made up of foreigners. King Louis Philippe founded the Legion as a way to deal with poor immigrants and keep casualties among actual French soldiers to a minimum. I like the Foreign Legion and have long believed the US should have a version of it if we are going to use the military for humanitarian missions. But, citing Dien Bien Phu as a huge French sacrifice when many of the grunts were actually Germans and Brits isn’t exactly a great point.

Anyway, I’m hardly shocked that Molly’s sticking up for the French. That seems to be the enlightened liberal position these days. What’s so funny about it is that the French remain colonialists in many respects and they have policies on such things as race that folks like Ms Ivins consider outrageously right-wing when proposed here. I wonder if she reveres the French policy of zero affirmative action and a complete ban on collecting racial data — policies championed by Ward Connerly & Co. But that’s a subject for another time. I’m just so delighted to have been mentioned by name by Ms. Ivins before she slips completely into the “whatever happened to…” category.

Memo to Ex-Prezes Carter and Clinton


“Shut up.” But that is not from me, that comes from Arizona senator John McCain.

Florida Professor Arrested


Help--Military Affirmative Action


Al Hunt has made the argument that affirmative action works for the military at the academies, and now there’s this brief in the Michigan case. If you have an informed view on this, I’d love to hear from you….

President Bartlet Fits Right In


I’m told West Wing had some colorful words for the French last night.

A Sign! a Sign!


You’ve heard about the plane crash in Iran that took the lives of 300 of the Islamic republic’s soldiers. A reader writes to wonder what all the Muslims who saw the crash of the space shuttle Columbia as a sign from Allah that America was going to come to a bad end in the Middle East are thinking about this plane crash.


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