History repeats itself: Today’s burning issue
At the outset of the Civil War Congress got very antsy over the fact that the on-to-Richmond campaign somehow was getting stalled somewhere in the neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
That’s not how it was supposed to be. According to their scenario Federal forces were to drive 100 miles or so south, brush aside the allegedly hapless rebels, capture the Confederate capital, and the rebellion would be over in a jiffy. Instead there was a quagmire, and the Union was deeply mired in it.
As historian Bruce Tap has written, Secretary of State Secretary of State William H. Seward once commented that “there would be no serious fighting after all; the South would collapse and everything serenely adjusted” – one battle and it would all be over. Zachariah Chandler, Michigan’s Republican senator, predicted that the Confederates under the elegantly named General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard would “run like cowards” at the sight of Union forces.
It didn’t exactly work out that way. In the first conflict of the War in Virginia, the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, the Union forces got their ears pinned back.
In Congress’ eyes, President Lincoln was in over his head, the federal army was ill-equipped and ill-generaled and it was up to the men on Capitol hill to step in and take charge. The result: The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.
The legislators who made up this weird conglomeration were for the most part dedicated foes of the military. Enamored of the rather peculiar notion that wars should not be fought by people who had even the vaguest idea of what they were doing, Congress was determined to gut the professional military, including abolishing West Point where to their disgust, men were taught how to fight battles and win wars.
This absurd mindset was not, by the way, shared by President Jefferson Davis Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson or the rest of the Confederacy’s top officers, all of whom learned their trade, and learned it well, at West Point.
The idea that Lincoln and those West Pointers who stuck with the Union should be allowed to prosecute the war without the wisdom and guidance of the people who made up the Committee on the Conduct of the War surely helped impede the Union’s conduct of the war, elongate it, and cost a hell of a lot more lives on both sides of that tragic conflict.
With a membership from the House and Senate, none of whom had ever worn a uniform, and to a man suspicious of the military sticking their noses into the business of prosecuting a war, the ability of the Commander in Chief and the military’s top leadership to do their job had to be and was seriously obstructed.
Moreover, public opinion about the war, for and against, was influenced to a great degree by the activities of this ill-begotten committee which continuously implied that dark forces were behind the failure to end the war and bring to troops home.
In his monumental study “Amateurs at War: Abraham Lincoln and the Committee on the Conduct of the War,” Bruce Tap wrote ” Back in the early days of the rebellion, President Lincoln had assumed broad powers in dealing with the crisis, and Congress approved most of his actions during a special session in July. In early December, however, the attitude of Congress was markedly different. Dissatisfied with the state of the war, less confident in Lincoln and convinced that treason lurked within the innermost circles of the North s military establishment” Congress established the Committee to straighten things out.
To the delight of the Confederate military, the committee’s open discussions about the Union’s strategy and tactics were providing them with information their intelligence forces were unable to discover on their own.
Moreover, the growing anti-war sentiment in the north as the war continued to go badly gave hope to the South that the north would cut and run if they held out long enough. And so the war went on much longer than it would have had the Confederates not believed the people of the north would eventually cave in.
If all this sounds familiar you have only to consider the behavior of many of the members of today’s Congress towards the conduct of the war against militant Islam.
Take for example the disgusting spectacle of the Monday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where many of the members sought to portray the Attorney General, and his boss, President Bush as liars and criminals for daring to spy on al Qaeda operatives overseas and their assets here in the U.S. The attitude of the Civil War committee revolved around the idea of Presidential incompetence, including accusations of treason by the army’s top generals rings a bell when considering the attitude of Congressional Democrats and a few disaffected Republicans who accuse the President of incompetence in the prosecution of the war and of outright dishonesty to the point of criminality.
That laughter you hear in the background is coming from Osama bin Laden and his fellow thugs who are surely delighted to count among their unconscious allies the anti-war forces in the United States Congress just as the Confederacy’s leadership must have been over the antics of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.
Today’s burning issue – that monitoring communications between terrorist forces abroad and their allies in the U.S. is somehow violating my civil rights and yours is simply ludicrous. As the President has asked, if our enemies overseas are chatting with some people in the U.S. don’t we want to know what they’re talking about?
The whole problem here is twofold. First, the issue is seen as a political opportunity for the Democrats to score points and maybe win back control of Congress, and secondly because these people do not have the vaguest notion of what this war is all about. They fail to see it for what it is, a rebirth of Islam’s ancient desire to subjugate the West.
If anybody doubts the accuracy of this fact, one has only to consider the present world-wide conflagration over a handful of cartoons printed in Danish newspaper and reprinted elsewhere in Europe. It is obvious that this firestorm could not be, and is not, spontaneous – it is being directed from above.
The anti-war crowd may not recognize this as genuine evidence that we are engaged in a new and different kind of world war and their refusal to admit it is giving our enemies a signal victory. If you won’t admit that somebody out there wants to kill you the chances are that they will enlist you in the effort to dig your grave.
Instead of concentrating on fighting and winning this war, Congressional Democrats are engaged in fighting a political war against the President and his party, and the armed forces of the United States are caught in the crossfire.
The fact that all of our history shows that in a time of war the President has the constitutional authority to do what must be done to safeguard the American people and win the war is ignored. Politics triumphs over the safety of the American people who have been protected against another 9/11 by such tactics as the monitoring of enemy communications.
Observing that “Terrorists and terrorist governments are giving us almost daily evidence of their fanatical hatred and violent sadism, as the clock ticks away toward their gaining possession of nuclear weapons,” the magnificent Tom Sowed writes that “They not only hold a harmless young woman hostage in Iraq, they parade her in tears on television, just as they have paraded not only the terrorizing, but even the beheading, of others on television.”
Moreover, he notes “there is a large and gleeful audience in the Arab world for these gross brutalities, just as there was glee and cheering among the Palestinians when the televised destruction of the World Trade center was broadcast in the Middle East. ”
Sowell asks “Yet what are we preoccupied with or outraged about? Whether the American government should intercept the phone calls of these cutthroats to people in the United States.”
It is said that history repeats itself. One wonders how long it will be before Chappaquiddick Teddy, Senator Patrick Leafy the leaker, and the rest of that crowd get around to demanding the creation of a joint committee on the conduct of the war on Islamofascism.
But then again, they don’t really need to – they’re doing enough to damage the President’s efforts to protect the American people and win the war without one.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”