Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Syria Fairy Tale Lives!

Americans will no longer support Washington’s incoherent Middle East adventurism.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
December 22, 2018
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There has never been any vacuum in Syria (or Iraq). Sharia supremacism fills all voids. In focusing on ISIS, David discounts sharia supremacism as “an idea.” But it is much more than that. It is a cultural distinction — even, as Samuel Huntington argued, a civilizational one. It will always be a forcible enemy of the West. It doesn’t matter what the groups are called. You can kill ISIS, but it is already reforming as something else. In fact, it may no longer even be the strongest jihadist force in Syria: Its forebear-turned-rival al-Qaeda is ascendant — after a few name changes (the latest is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Levant Liberation Organization) and some infighting with other militant upstarts. There is a better chance that ISIS will reestablish ties with the mothership than fade away.

The fact that al-Qaeda, which triggered the “War on Terror,” does not factor into American clamoring about Syria is telling. The anti-ISIS mission David describes was not always the U.S. objective in Syria. First we were going to pull an Iraq/Libya redux and help the “moderates” overthrow Assad. But the “moderates,” in the main, are Muslim Brotherhood groups that are very content to align with al-Qaeda jihadists — and our fabulous allies in Syria, the Turks and the Saudis, were only too happy to abet al-Qaeda. Syria had thus become such a conundrum that we were effectively aligning with the very enemies who had provoked us into endless regional war.
When ISIS arose and gobbled up territory, beheading some inhabitants and enslaving the rest, Obama began sending in small increments of troops to help our “moderate” allies fend them off. But the moderates are mostly impotent; they need the jihadists, whether they are fighting rival jihadists or Assad. Syria remains a multi-front conflict in which one “axis” of America’s enemies, Assad-Iran-Russia, is pitted against another cabal of America’s enemies, the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda factions; both sides flit between fighting against and attempting to co-opt ISIS, another U.S. enemy. The fighting may go on for years; the prize the winner gets is . . . Syria (if it’s the Russians, they’ll wish they were back in Afghanistan).

Degrading ISIS into irrelevance would not degrade anti-American jihadism in Syria into irrelevance. If sharia didn’t ban alcohol, I’d say the old wine would just appear in new bottles. It was, moreover, absurd for President Trump to declare victory just because ISIS has been stripped of 95 percent of the territory it once held. Caliphate aspirations notwithstanding, ISIS’s mistake was the attempt to be an open and notorious sovereign. It was always more effective as a terrorist underground, and it still has tens of thousands of operatives for that purpose.
If we stayed out of the way, America’s enemies would continue killing each other. That’s fine by me. I am not indifferent to collateral human suffering, but it is a staple of sharia-supremacist societies; we can no more prevent it in Syria than in Burkina Faso. And I am not indifferent to the challenge David rightly identifies: terrorists occupying safe havens from which they can plot against the West. But that is a global challenge, and we handle it elsewhere by vigilant intelligence-gathering and quick-strike capabilities. We should hit terrorist sanctuaries wherever we find them, but it is not necessary to have thousands of American troops on the ground everyplace such sanctuaries might take root.

The Kurds are a more complicated problem. We have had a good deal with the Kurds: We protect them from Turkey, they kill jihadists. I could not agree more with David (among others) that it is shameful to abandon them, and it is shame multiplied by cowardice if, as reporting indicates, Trump decided to pull out after a threat by Ankara.
When we look a little deeper, though, we see why Americans will no longer support Washington’s incoherent Middle East adventurism. When we made our arrangements with the Kurds, we knew the backbone of their fighting forces was the PKK, which the U.S. government has designated a terrorist organization. We knew the Kurds had territorial ambitions over which the Turks (and the Iranians, for that matter) are spoiling to go to war. We knew, further, that Turkey is our purported ally in NATO — quite apart from its failure to keep its defense commitments, this Western alliance maintains as a member the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a sharia-supremacist in the Muslim Brotherhood mold who despises the West. We knew, therefore, that conflict between Turkey and the Kurds was inevitable, that we would eventually have to make an excruciating choice, and that the freight of the NATO alliance would tip the scales in Erdogan’s favor. In fact, in the very conversation in which Erdogan advised Trump to steer U.S. troops clear of Turkey’s imminent anti-Kurd operations, Trump offered Erdogan a Patriot air- and missile-defense system in order to dissuade the Turks from completing a purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile-defense system.
Could we defy Erdogan and keep — or even beef up — the U.S. military presence to protect the Kurds (including protecting the designated terrorists with whom we’ve managed to ally)? Sure we could . . .but by what authority?
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(New York Times)
I felt like a lonely voice around here in April 2017, when I condemned President Trump’s airstrikes on Syria as an unconstitutional act of war and an embarrassing contradiction of Trump’s broadsides against Obama for doing the same thing. I was therefore delighted when, addressing Syria a few months later, David asserted, “The Constitution cannot be discarded when it’s inconvenient.” He elaborated:
It’s past time for a true congressional vote on American engagement in Syria. Any argument that previous use-of-force resolutions applicable to Iraq or al-Qaeda also apply to the current conflict evaporate the instant American forces find themselves holding foreign territory in hostile opposition to the foreign sovereign. There is no credible argument that any current authorization allows American forces to occupy a single square inch of Syria without the consent of its government.
Amen. The Constitution is not a suggestion; it is our law. But this week, it is somehow not even a consideration. I hold no brief for Trump on Syria (as noted above, I believe his lawless aggression risked a wider war no one wants). But I find it remarkable that, as the president was rebuked across Capitol Hill — from Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a true believer in American adventurism, to Democrats, who will exploit any pretext to attack Trump — congressional critics never paused, ever so slightly, over the fact that the troops they want the president to keep in Syria were never authorized by Congress to be in Syria.
Some commentators sensed the problem but tried to finesse it, allowing that it would be good for Congress to have a “debate” about Syria because it would give clarity to the mission. That misses the point. The clarifying debate is a residual benefit we get from the constitutional necessity of obtaining congressional authorization before committing acts of war against other countries that have not threatened us. If the mission is not authorized, its clarity is immaterial.
Which brings me back, finally, to the excellent discussion on The Editors. Here’s David again, defending the mission:
This is one of the clearer missions that I’ve seen. This is not a nation-building mission. This is a mission that is a degrade and destroy a specified enemy, and then hold a geographic line against geopolitical foes who would seek to take that geography and crush our allies. That’s a clear mission
Yes, it’s clear. But so was David’s declaration, a year ago, that there is no lawful authorization in existence that “allows American forces to occupy a single square inch of Syria.” How, then, is it permissible for our forces to be “holding a geographic line” in a foreign country? What does it matter that, rhetorically speaking, Syria, Iran, and Russia are “geopolitical foes” if Congress has never authorized the use of force against them?
We all know the answer to this. Obama did not seek congressional authorization for combat operations in Syria because Congress would have refused. And Congress does not want any president to ask for authorization because members do not want to be accountable — they want to go on cable TV and whine that whoever is president has been heedless, whether for going in or for pulling out.
Want to declare war against ISIS? I’d be up for discussing that. Or, as a matter of honor, an authorization of military force to protect the Kurds for what they’ve done on our behalf? I could be persuaded. Or even a declaration of war against Iran — it wouldn’t require us to invade, but it might be useful as part of a real “maximum pressure” strategy, rather than just making mean faces at them in Syria. I’d be open to all of that; but not to more unprovoked military interventions that don’t have congressional authorization.
There is nothing for America in Syria. We haven’t defeated ISIS by taking its territory, and it wouldn’t matter if we did because sharia-supremacist culture guarantees that a new ISIS will replace the current one. The names change, but the enemy remains the same. And if you want to fight that enemy in an elective war, the Constitution demands that the people give their consent through their representatives in Congress.
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review

‘You Have Been in Afghanistan, I Perceive’

December 21, 2018
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US Forces patrol Near Manbij, Syria, June 24, 2018. (US Army/Staff Sgt. Timothy R. Koster)

President Trump’s decisions to withdraw from Syria and to start drawing down the number of our troops in Afghanistan should come as welcome news to all Americans. The pointless wars in the Middle East and the Hindu Kush have been going on since 9/11—longer if you count the entirely unnecessary incursion into Iraq in 1991—and have brought only misery in their wake. If Trump does nothing else but put an end to the endless wars bequeathed to us by the house of Bush, his will have been a consequential presidency.
That these orders have seemingly resulted in the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis is not necessarily a bad thing. Trump is a churning force, as his track record already shows, and if his appointees disagree with his policies, then they go, not the policies. Just ask Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson. Like John Kelly, currently on his way out the door as White House chief of staff, Mattis is a distinguished officer in the United States Marine Corps—but no conservative. As anyone who understands the USMC knows, Marine officers are not ideologues; indeed, by training they are apolitical, owing their allegiance to the Constitution and the commander-in-chief. I’m not sure whether this is still true today, but when I was a kid growing up on various Marine duty stations, they didn’t even vote.
A great many on the Right disagree with Trump. They fear “chaos” and “instability.” But we have been living for decades with presidents (George H.W. Bush, take a bow) who made a fetish of stability and in so doing condemned the world to the very definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result. Thus we have had the eternal “peace process” between the Israelis and the Palestinians for the simple reason that no one seriously desires a definitive solution.
Nonetheless, a solution is only a solution when it is dispositive. This is something our current generation of politicians and warfighters do not wish to acknowledge: hence, the endless war that Bush I began against Saddam Hussein for no particular reason (did or does anyone really care about Kuwait?); was left unfinished; was restarted in the wake of 9/11 by Bush II—again, for no particular reason, since Saddam had little or nothing to do with the attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Here we are, 18 years later, with only dead and maimed American soldiers to show for it. Neither Iraq, if it survives, nor Afghanistan will ever be Jacksonian democracies, nor do their inhabitants wish them to be.
This is not to denigrate the heroism of our troops, nor their skills. They may well be, as many say, the best warriors we’ve ever put in the field. But, just as in Vietnam, they’ve been allowed to fight, but not to win. Essentially, they’ve been told to play to an eternal draw, just enough to keep the lid on things over there, but not to materially affect the political structures in place. Thus, by mouthing the liberal pieties in Bush II’s second inaugural address about how the desire for freedom is the natural human condition (it plainly is not) and that America’s duty is to spread the gospel of liberty throughout the world (ditto), our rulers have obscured the lethal realities of our presence overseas.
These are not easy, or happy, conclusions to reach. But we must ask: what have we gotten from our misadventures?
Saddam may have been a tyrant, but he was just one of many, especially in that part of the world. Whether he abused his own people (what tyrant doesn’t?) may have been cause for editorial-page fretting, but not for bellicosity. In effect, both Bushes made the same mistake JFK and LBJ made in Vietnam: thinking that inside every foreigner was an American yearning to get out, when even a cursory glance at the history of Southeast Asia or the Islamic ummah should instantly have disabused them of that notion.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, nothing has changed and nothing ever will change. The last outsider to have any effect on the region was Alexander the Great, and he did so at the point of his sword. Since then, Islam has come and gone and come again, the British fought two wars there, and the Soviets first signaled their systemic vulnerability by not being ruthless enough in their attempt to conquer the “country.” Had they applied the same tactics they used on Hitler’s Germany to Afghanistan we might be living in a very different world today, but they did not. And so now the Soviets have vanished while the Afghans live on in their remote and savage land.
As for Syria, the last foreign occupiers to have a positive effect on that parlous place were the Crusaders, who established the Principality of Antioch, which included Aleppo, in the late 12th century; it collapsed about a century later. Since then, Syria has been the plaything of various warring Muslim factions but offers no menace to American national security, and is far too weak seriously to threaten Israel. As in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, we have no strategic or economic interests in those areas, especially as the United States has emerged once again as the world’s leading energy producer.
The way to deal with these places, therefore, is to withdraw and leave them to their own devices. Sure, the Russians will fiddle around the edges if only to keep their hands in the game and to create an object lesson for their own restive Muslim minorities. So what? The “kingdom” of Saudi Arabia in all likelihood won’t last much longer than Bohemond’s did. As for the religious clash between Sunni and Shi’a Islam, represented on the chessboard by the Saudis and the Iranians, we can only hope that they both lose, and lose badly.
The first words uttered by Sherlock Holmes to Dr. John H. Watson, M.D. are: “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.” This startling deduction was made on the detective’s assessment of his future amanuensis’s physical condition: a wounded war veteran recently returned from the battle of Maiwand during the Second Afghan War. This Holmes can see at a glance, including the good doctor’s enervation from enteric fever.
But it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see that the endless war has been bad for America, and the sooner it’s ended, the better for all of us. Only then can the tremendous damage to American foreign policy brought on by the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama succession of insufficient presidents be remedied, and the nation start to heal.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Hush Now and Listen for the Better Angels

{The Devil's Pleasure Palace and The Fiery Angel are both brilliant, essential reads...jtf}

By NR Interview
December 20, 2018

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Art ought to be “the wellsprings of our politics…help[ing] shape our public-policy debates,” Michael Walsh argues in his book The Fiery Angel: Art, Culture, Sex, Politics, and the Struggle for the Soul of the West. But it will require a rediscovery –and embrace — of the treasures of our civilization first. Walsh talks about the book and the need with — Kathryn Jean Lopez 

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Who is the “Fiery Angel”?
Michael Walsh: First, what: It’s an opera by Sergei Prokofiev. I chose the title as a symbol of Western culture, something akin to the phoenix. For 3,500 years, our shared patrimony has been unbroken from the Greeks to the present, and yet has constantly reinvented itself as well. This process of continual rebirth is what has made Western culture the dynamic engine of world progress that it is, far superior to the static nature of other societies.
Lopez: How and why is Western culture under assault and why is it crucial to preserving?

Walsh: It’s under assault from both within and without. In the aftermath of World War I, the cultural Marxists launched their attack upon it, which I chronicled in my book’s earlier companion volume, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace.  But a far older existential enemy is Islam, which arose in direct opposition to Judeo-Christianity and has remained an implacable foe that can neither be reasoned with nor appeased. We ignore these threats at our peril, since both the Marxist and the Islamic roads lead to fascism, totalitarianism, and death. Both are, in short, satanic.
Lopez: What’s so important about the Heroic Narrative, and what is unique to the West?
Walsh: The Heroic Narrative distinguishes our myths and legends – and thus our forms of storytelling – from other cultures. Western man is a not a cog in a machine, or a clerk in an endless bureau, or an ant in an ant heap. Rather he – Jesus of Nazareth, Tarzan of the Apes, and just about every hero in between – is the central character of his own movie: someone forced to face his destiny and who chooses (often reluctantly, and at great pain) to embrace it, no matter the cost.
Lopez: Is there a way to begin again and renew our understanding of freedom itself?
Walsh: Freedom is freedom. Diabolically, the cultural Marxists introduced the idea of “real” freedom – which is to say no freedom at all – and have hammered away at it for so long that half the country now seems to see freedom as a threat instead of a promise. For Muslims, freedom means conformance to the will of Allah, which we rightly regard as superstitious slavery. Freedom of religion, under which Islam flies its false flag, will quickly evaporate should Muslims ever become dominant in the West.
Lopez: Is there any way to renew Western civilization and appreciate what freedom truly is without Christianity? (Would there be any point to that, anyway?)
Walsh: No. I don’t mean that the world should convert to Christianity en masse. But Western civilization is unthinkable without Christianity. Its artistic symbols are almost entirely Christian (go to any national art gallery if you need proof) and it was Christian philosophers such as Abelard and Aquinas who were instrumental in the rebirth of classical studies – Plato and Aristotle – at the early universities, such as Paris, Bologna, Padua, Naples, Oxford and Cambridge. The Marxist-Islamic attacks on Christianity serve a double purpose and seek to eliminate two enemies with one blow.
Lopez: Where does that leave atheists and everyone else?

Walsh: Atheists are free to choose. What they’re not free to do is attack the very culture/religion that guarantees them that freedom. They plead for “tolerance” until they feel strong enough to dispense with it (see Marcuse’s essay, “Repressive Tolerance” for their ideological justification.) Tolerance is not an abstract virtue, but rather a situational exercise.
Lopez: “Far from being museum pieces, vestal virgins, or hothouse flowers, segregated from the practical world, the arts ought to be seen instead as the wellsprings of our politics, and therefore should help shape our public-policy debates.” With the short attention spans we have today, how is that at all possible?

Walsh: I address this in The Fiery Angel: “And yet, as we often hear, there is no time. The pace of modern life, it is said, is too fast in order to give up an hour to a Bruckner symphony, two hours to Rififi or Rashomon, or several weeks to The Magic Mountain. Bollocks. We flatter ourselves if we think we have any less time to devote to the pursuits of the mind and the spirit than did, say, the ancient Greeks. The hoplite class of Athens could rely on a deadly, nearly annual war against either their fellow Greeks or the invading Persians as surely as they could count on the seasons or the tides. Many of them would die. And yet they produced Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes; Aeschylus’s epitaph mentions that he fought at Marathon, and says nothing about his plays or poetry.

“The pace of life, in any case, is relative. No doubt future generations will think we had it easy, with nothing to do except work desultorily at a nine-to-five government job, take annual leave, enjoy weekends and holidays off, and spend the evenings in front of giant flat-screen televisions half-watching network, cable, or satellite programming while eating take-out food delivered right to our doors. Such luxury! Such indolence!
“What is meant is: we have no attention span. An attention span demands several things: native intelligence, an ability to discriminate among choices, an ability to follow along, a keen anticipation of the outcome, and, most important, a willingness to learn so that the moral is earned rather than delivered. This is precisely the opposite of what cultural Marxism wishes from its audiences…”
The attention-span problem, therefore, is not a matter of time but of will power.
Lopez: Is there a danger of romanticizing our politics, where we’re expecting more from it than it can or should deliver?
Walsh: Yes. The man on the white horse causes as much, if not more, trouble than he solves. And yet we are now so obsessed with Washington politics and, thanks to the media, the presidency, that we have no room for anything other than man-on-white-horse stories. The Romans had the right idea: two consuls, each elected for a year, ran the Republic on a day-to-day basis, but in times of great crisis the Romans turned to a dictator, who stayed in office exactly as long as it took to sort out the situation, then stepped down. What got Caesar killed was his assumption of that office for life – which turned out to be quite short.

Lopez: Are we, simply put, undergoing an identity crisis? What’s the best-case scenario?
Walsh: I’m suspicious of this word, “identity,” which has been wholly subsumed by the Marxist project. Simultaneously, the cultural-Marxist Left treats “identity” as something immutable and fixed, as in identity politics, and at the same time declares it to be fluid and whimsical, as in sexual politics. As usual (and especially in matters of sex) they want to have it both ways, so to speak. Rational people don’t have identity crises. Their lives may be a process of self-realization, but not of self-discovery, which is a kind of madness.
My principal argument in The Fiery Angel is that we need to return to the wellsprings of our culture in order to (re)discover who we are and how we got here. The best-case scenario is that it’s rather easy to accomplish, since the great works of Western art are still readily available – for now. But if we allow the Left to complete its orgy of iconoclastic destruction, we are out of business because where they have ideology, we have civilization.
Lopez: So, in this era of tearing down monuments if historic figures are imperfect — as we all are – how do we teach and recover and learn from history? How do we remember our achievements and mistakes and cultural memories and roots in a constructive and even beautiful way again?
Walsh: We must never accept the Left’s premise that the past deserves to be punished for today’s often freshly invented, generally ephemeral transgressions.  History should never be whitewashed, and if snowflakes can’t handle it, tough.
Lopez: What it means to be a conservative is a bit of a mess today. Where would you begin and with whom?

Walsh: I think this whole notion of a “conservative movement” is a load of codswallop, in part because political “movements” are the province of the Left and their reductive, group-oriented world view. It’s been especially destructive to younger conservatives, who believe that the “conservative” position on any given issue comes down to a catechism of policy points – what I’ve termed “cheklist” conservativism in honor of the old Soviet Cheka – instead of the simple belief in the essential rightness and goodness of Western culture and the unabashed defense of the same. But this is what you get when the Leftist notion “political science” captures the hearts and minds of the Right.
Lopez: How can we inspire people to do things of beauty and virtue when we’re so overwhelmed and there is so much noise and there is so much anger?
Walsh: By encouraging them not to take their work home with them, as it were.  To back away from Twitter and other social-media platforms and crack open a book, listen to a recording, visit an art gallery, go to the theater – in other words, to do the kinds of things that used to be the hallmarks of an educated man or woman. Otherwise, you’re an uncivilized savage, little better than our opponents and enemies.
Lopez: Your epilogue includes the line: “The way forward might just be backward.” Doesn’t that sound a wee bit like the caricature of conservatives: that we want to turn back the clock? Is there a dangerous temptation to nostalgia there?
Walsh: Truth is immutable. There are no “higher truths” or “new truths.” The way forward can only proceed once the rightness – or wrongness – of the path that got us here is fully understood.  Otherwise, we’re simply human flotsam – which is exactly the way the totalitarian ideologies of Marxism and Islam see us.
Lopez: Should interns at the Heritage Foundation and National Review be listening to more Bach than reading about Brett Kavanaugh before the summer is through? What classic books would you have them read before they head back to school?
Walsh: The Fiery Angel includes an appendix that lists every work of art (literary, musical, plastic) mentioned in both Devil and Angel. If I were drawing up a short course for aspiring conservatives, it would include Caesar’s Commentaries, and Grant’s Memoirs; Bach’s Art of Fugue, and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel; Dickens’s Bleak House, Willkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and Mann’s The Magic Mountain; the Oresteia, the Poetics, Sophocles’s Theban plays, and Lysistrata, plus the Aeneid. I’d also give them a ticket to a major art gallery and a copy of the Bible, so they can decode what they’re looking at. In this way, they might learn something about the human condition and thus be better equipped both to write about it and to handle it when it finally comes their way. As I often say on Twitter: I never take political advice from small children.
Lopez: How exactly do we better “listen … to the angels of our nature, for better and worse”? And isn’t it the better angels we best be listening to?
Walsh: If we would all just shut up for a moment, we would hear the angels in the still, small voices that sing in our ears.  And we should listen to both better and worse angels; one-third of the Heavenly Host went to Hell along with Satan, and we’d damn well better know why, unless we want to end up there ourselves.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

It Was Always About The wall

A high wall would end the border patrol's reliance on dogs and tear gas when rushed by would-be border crossers throwing stones.

By Victor Davis Hanson
December 20, 2018

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Border Patrol agent walks near the fence separating Mexico and California. | AP Photo

There was likely never going to be “comprehensive immigration reform” or any deal amnestying the DACA recipients in exchange for building the wall. Democrats in the present political landscape will not consent to a wall. For them, a successful border wall is now considered bad politics in almost every manner imaginable.

Yet 12 years ago, Congress, with broad bipartisan support, passed the Security Fence of Act of 2006. The bill was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush to overwhelming public applause. The stopgap legislation led to some 650 miles of a mostly inexpensive steel fence while still leaving about two-thirds of the 1,950-mile border unfenced.
In those days there were not, as now, nearly 50 million foreign-born immigrants living in the United States, perhaps nearly 15 million of them illegally.
Sheer numbers have radically changed electoral politics. Take California. One out of every four residents in California is foreign-born. Not since 2006 has any California Republican been elected to statewide office.
The solidly blue states of the American Southwest, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, voted red as recently as 2004 for George W. Bush. Progressives understandably conclude that de facto open borders are good long-term politics.

Once upon a time, Democrats such as Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama talked tough about illegal immigration. They even ruled out amnesty while talking up a new border wall.
In those days, progressives saw illegal immigration as illiberal — or at least not as a winning proposition among union households and the working poor.
Democratic constituencies opposed importing inexpensive foreign labor for corporate bosses. Welfare rights groups believed that massive illegal immigration would swamp social services and curtail government help to American poor of the barrios and the inner city.
So, what happened? Again, numbers.
Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have flocked into the United States over the last decade. In addition, the Obama administration discouraged the melting-pot assimilationist model of integrating only legal immigrants.
Salad-bowl multiculturalism, growing tribalism and large numbers of unassimilated immigrants added up to politically advantageous demography for Democrats in the long run.

In contrast, a wall would likely reduce illegal immigration dramatically and with it future Democratic constituents. Legal, meritocratic, measured and diverse immigration in its place would likely end up being politically neutral. And without fresh waves of undocumented immigrants from south of the border, identity politics would wane.
A wall also would radically change the optics of illegal immigration. Currently, in unsecured border areas, armed border patrol guards sometimes stand behind barbed wire. Without a wall, they are forced to rely on dogs and tear gas when rushed by would-be border crossers. They are easy targets for stone-throwers on the Mexican side of the border.
A high wall would end that. Border guards would be mostly invisible from the Mexican side of the wall. Barbed wire, dogs and tear gas astride the border — the ingredients for media sensationalism — would be unnecessary. Instead, footage of would-be border crossers trying to climb 30-foot walls would emphasize the degree to which some are callously breaking the law.
Such imagery would remind the world that undocumented immigrants are not always noble victims but often selfish young adult males who have little regard for the millions of aspiring immigrants who wait patiently in line and follow the rules to enter the United State lawfully.

More importantly, thousands of undocumented immigrants cross miles of dangerous, unguarded borderlands each year to walk for days in the desert. Often, they fall prey to dangers ranging from cartel gangs to dehydration.
Usually, the United States is somehow blamed for their plight, even though a few years ago the Mexican government issued a comic book with instructions on how citizens could most effectively break U.S. law and cross the border.
The wall would make illegal crossings almost impossible, saving lives.
Latin American governments and Democratic operatives assume that lax border enforcement facilitates the outflow of billions of dollars in remittances sent south of the border and helps flip red states blue.
All prior efforts to ensure border security — sanctions against employers, threats to cut off foreign aid to Mexico and Central America, and talk of tamper-proof identity cards — have failed.

Instead, amnesties, expanded entitlements and hundreds of sanctuary jurisdictions offer incentives for waves of undocumented immigrants.
The reason a secure border wall has not been — and may not be — built is not apprehension that it would not work, but rather real fear that it would work only too well.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

'They Shall Not Grow Old': Peter Jackson's Masterpiece War Memorial

December 19, 2018

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Our war memorials are usually made of brass or stone. But Peter Jackson’s astonishing new film They Shall Not Grow Old is a war memorial for the big screen.

Jackson’s film has done the impossible: He has created a time machine.  Jackson was given access to the sound and video archives of the Imperial War Museum and tasked with producing a documentary about World War I in time for the centenary commemoration of the armistice on November 11, 2018. 

After playing to sold-out theaters across the United Kingdom in October, the film will show just one more day in the United States – December 27.  December 17, the only day the film has shown so far in the United States, saw packed theaters.

Jackson’s film portrays the World War I soldier as you have never seen him: in color, in high definition, and with sound.

They Shall Not Grow Old painstakingly cleans up the old jerky films of the Great War.  It removes the blemishes, turns them into clean high definition, and colorizes them with thorough, painstaking accuracy.  The film speed is even reset to natural motion, so no more unnatural gaits.

Jackson’s technical wizardry turns the landscapes of France into something vivid, expansive, and apocalyptic.

But it’s the faces of the young soldiers that will haunt you.  Instead of the old washed herky-jerky films with their blurry soldiers marching by, Jackson uses modern technology to wipe clean the dust of a century and draw out the real people who endured unendurable trench life.

The faces are so young.

They are the kids down the street. They are the people you see every day in your own life.  They gaze at you across the century and change forever the history of the Western Front in your heart.

An officer reads a morale-boosting charge before a company roars into the hell of the Somme in the summer of 1916.  Jackson’s filmmakers dug up the original orders from that day and produced a voiceover of an officer using the geographically correct dialect based on the regional unit insignia.  Indeed, Jackson employed lip readers and voice actors from the correct regions of the United Kingdom throughout the film to provide dialog anytime onscreen lips move.

You just cannot shake the faces.

In the first sweeping scene where Jackson transitions the film from the familiar black and white footage from the war to his opening, surreal, horrific, colorized portion (think of Dorothy waking up in anti-Oz), the camera follows a British solider no more than 18 years old attempting to navigate a scarred, muddy hell-scape.

The British solider also follows the camera following him.  His bright young eyes gaze at you in the carnage.  He grabs a shattered splintered tree stump to help himself out of the trench, yet his gaze never abandons the cameraman from a century ago.  The fine long splinters of the stump – shockingly fine thanks to Jackson’s work – are the product of violence the earth cannot withstand.

Behind the young soldier, the world is devastation in vivid color.  Mud, muck, absolute complete destruction of the world itself.

We journey forward to the trenches, where the rats and the corpses and the men all live as one.  They eat, and live, and die on top of each other, all in high-definition color.  Men slip into the mud and vanish forever. Brown iodine is swabbed on bleeding arms shot cleanly through by German bullets. A parade of the gassed march by with their arms on the shoulders of the men ahead.

These are real people, something the old black and white films of course contained.  But somehow, that medium dehumanized them.

They Shall Not Grow Old brings them alive, like we have a pass to visit them in Flanders and Passchendaele.  The film is a memorial to the World War I soldier perhaps more profound than the Cenotaph.

Jackson transports us back to a sunken road where a unit rests on the grass with fixed bayonets.  The men shortly would charge over the grassy hillside before them.  Jackson even traveled to the exact location of this scene so he could get the shade of green right for the grass.  The soldiers are sitting, collecting their thoughts, preparing for the charge.  Jackson explained in a post-screening feature that this unit was mostly wiped out and that the film “captured the last 30 minutes” of their young lives.

There is no narrator to the documentary.  Instead, the voices of World War I veterans guide the film with short recollections of events, feelings, and memories.  These oral histories were captured in the 1950s and 1960s by the BBC, and Jackson finds a way to sequence them loosely in the visual story.

They Shall Not Grow Old is refreshingly apolitical.  Absent is the usual conventional wisdom expounding the uselessness and generational waste of the conflict.  Wilfred Owen doesn’t make an appearance.  Politics would be unseemly, because the film plainly seeks to memorialize the men who fought and died. Indeed, some of the narrator vets say they actually enjoyed the war and treated it like a boy scout frolic.  Others said they were just there to do their jobs.  Jackson keeps politics out, which is refreshing these days when visiting the Cineplex.

Jackson’s grandfather fought in the Great War.  He says the purpose of the film is for you to find out if any of your relatives fought in the war.  He notes that in 20 years, the generation that could know the answer will be gone.  If they did fight a century ago, They Shall Not Grow Old provides a window into what they experienced.