« Stop Repeating Yourself, Dammit | Main | Good News About Windmills »

February 19, 2007

Comments

Congrats, Charles: you've discovered the facts about Washington's policy for prisoners that about eight billion leftwing blogs (and politicians) have posted about eight billion times over the last five years.

Good that you've finally noticed what everyone pointed out back in 2002.

Imperial armies seem to always view the weaker forces as less than human.

So we will not kill wounded soldiers, he said. And then he went on, we will also protect them. We will feed them. We will house them. They will not be harmed, because we are fighting for a cause. And our cause, he said, requires that we behave with honor.

ah, but those were different times. the country wasn't in dire jeopardy, as it is today. today we require the waterboard, the electrode, the hood, the cold, the sleep deprivation, the sexual humiliation. Washington was lucky to have lived during such peaceful, stable times.

(apologies if this shows up twice... flakey posting day at ObWi?)

Just a little President's Day remembrance, Gary. No need to get all snippy about it.

Yet another reminder of how today's George has chosen to emulate his historical British namesake, rather than his American predecessor.

GF, I find that response pretty uncharitable. Maybe you might want a breather.

CB, there's plenty more to learn from GW. Like how even pacifying the enemy capital doesn't get you victory. Or that you play a weak military hand with skill, not "resolve." The way he quelled the officer's revolt by showing physical weakness but moral strength. Much more, obviusly.

GF, I find that response pretty uncharitable. Maybe you might want a breather.

CB, there's plenty more to learn from GW. Like how even pacifying the enemy capital doesn't get you victory. Or that you play a weak military hand with skill, not "resolve." The way he quelled the officer's revolt by showing physical weakness but moral strength. Much more, obviusly.

CB, I agree.

I may post a comment later when I have recovered from the shock to my system.

"Just a little President's Day remembrance, Gary. No need to get all snippy about it."

It's nice to see you, Charles. I'm merely sorry you weren't paying attention to this point about Washington when almost every left/liberal blogger was hammering it back in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. It's good that you finally found out, even five years after it was one of the most repeated points in left blogdom, though, to be sure.

"CB, there's plenty more to learn from GW."

Including that being the most world-spanning power on earth doesn't mean that you can command peace in all lands where people do not wish your rule. Even facing all that power, insurgents can keep shifting ground, and holding out for years, before the great power finally realizes it can't win.

Unfortunately, not all insurgents everywhere have studied Englightenment thinking, alas.

It may also be worth pointing out that we never could have settled the Hessians if we demanded that they had to speak English-only. Damn Hessians, stealing our jobs -- and they're so lazy, to boot!

I think George Washington's attitudes about how to treat prisoners-of-war may have been formed, in large part, by an experience he had in the French And Indian War in 1754. As a (new) young officer in command of a company of Virginia militia, he went, together with a band of Indian allies, into Western Pennsylvania, where they ambushed and captured a detachment of French soldiers; the French commander surrendering his unit to Washington personally. However, Washington was horrified when the Indians then proceeded to murder and scalp all the wounded prisoners, the French officer being tomahawked to death right in front of him. Aside from leaving GW with lifelong negative attitudes about Native Americans, I think this incident probably spurred him, in his later career, to be way more conscious of the "civilized" way to fight wars (as much as that word can apply). Especially remarkable, imho, as Washington was not really a "professional" soldier, as the Eighteenth Century would have understood it (still less by today's standards), but was rather a self-taught amateur (albeit a tremendously talented one). The nation was lucky to have a character (and with Character, to boot) like George Washington as its first President.


Bah, Jack Bauer would put a musket ball through their knees, just to find out where the latrine is.

Washington's orders for the Sullivan expedition against the Iroquois. To put things in context, the Iroquois had massacred white settlers.

"Orders of George Washington to General John Sullivan, at Head-Quarters May 31, 1779
The Expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planting more.
I would recommend, that some post in the center of the Indian Country, should be occupied with all expedition, with a sufficient quantity of provisions whence parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.
But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us and in the terror with which the severity of the chastisement they receive will inspire them. "

I tend to be leery of finding heroes among American Presidents. The list contains some interesting human beings with virtues and flaws. If flaw is the right word here.

Um, in the midst of the massive snarkfest, I'd just like to say, thank you for posting this, Charles. I would agree that this approach -- a 'dangerous' and vulnerable kind of honor -- is an essential part of the good things America has represented and aspired to.

The flip side lesson is how an occupying army fuels a rebellion by mistreating enemy combatants.

Even British military leaders involved in the atrocities recognized their negative effects on the overall war effort. In 1778, Col. Charles Stuart wrote to his father, the Earl of Bute: ``Wherever our armies have marched, wherever they have encamped, every species of barbarity has been executed. We planted an irrevocable hatred wherever we went, which neither time nor measure will be able to eradicate.''

Too bad the advocates for "Gitmoizing" Abu Ghraib forgot that lesson.

Thanks, Charles.

Gary: I agree with CharleyCarp. There were better ways to make your point.

That George Washington, now there was a guy knew how to fight an insurgency.

I will grant George much honor, tho he did a couple less than honorable things in his lifetime. But the fact was he had a really small army, with maybe maybe half the people in the colonies supportin' him, and some sympathetic folk over seas in the mother islands.

Slaughterin prisoners would not have been a good strategic move.

I'm merely sorry you weren't paying attention to this point about Washington when almost every left/liberal blogger was hammering it back in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Who says I wasn't? I heard an engaging Presidents' Day segment on NPR and passed it along because, well, it is Presidents' Day after all. I've long been on your side concerning the humane treatment of prisoners and detainees (and extraordinary rendition), and you can thank George Washington because his story played a role in my coming to that position. I'm a little disconcerted that you're taking your angst out on me here.

Charles, I want to apologize for my fellow liberal bloggers. And myself. I think I can speak for many of us when I say that we read the entire article waiting for you to say something that we disagreed with -- and then, when we couldn't find it, we just had this built-up need to say something nasty about you. It's a holdover from other things you've posted that have driven us all completely nuts. Please forgive us.

Let me get my own residual anger out by asking, in an (in)appropriately spluttery tone of voice: "But, but, but ... if you agreed with us on this issue all the time, WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO?"

OK, I feel better now. Thanks for the therapeutic moment.

One of the more interesting things about the Hessians (who were mostly German, but not all from Hesse) is that for the most part they weren't mercenaries themselves, but their princes were the mercenaries, selling their conscripts to those who could pay for them. It's not hard to see how wise it was to let these conscripts know that they would be well-treated when they surrender.

To be clear, my snark wasn't aimed at Charles. I was aiming at hagiography and would have posted the same thing no matter who put up the original article and try to have zero interest in the personal feuds at Obi Wi, though one can't help noticing such things if you hang around here for long. And yeah, GW handled an insurgency in the way it can often be handled successfully--with utter ruthlessness.

Thanks for the transcript, Charles, I always love hearing stuff from David Hackett Fischer, he's one of my favorite historians. Albion's Seed has been absolutely crucial for my understanding of American culture and history, I cannot recommend it enough.

Albion's Seed was great. I was a little disappointed with the Revere book and the crossing the Delaware book--there seemed to be a little bit of patriotic cheerleading in them which turns me off. I don't want a Howard Zinn slant either, but if one is going to describe how humane Washington was towards the Hessians then perhaps it should be mentioned somewhere in the book, if only in a footnote, that he was somewhat less humane towards the Iroquois. If that was in there I don't recall it. (If it was, I take back my criticism).

Albion's Seed was an extremely interesting book to be reading during the 2004 election season, which was when I read it. It read like an analysis in 1989 of Bush and Kerry supporters in 2004. But I don't mean to make the book sound like a boring election analysis--it's a superb social history (says this complete amateur). But one that also seemed prescient.

I'm a great fan of AS as well. Those of you who have not read it should really do so.

CB: I don't think I've ever felt before that I could wholeheartedly applaud one of your posts. This one, I can (and do).

What Kent said.

Except, you know, we know why CB wasn't making posts like this back in 2002.

WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO?"

I did, Kent. Here's one example. I didn't cross-post it at ObWi because I thought the folks knew my positions and I didn't feel like preaching to the choir. I also wrote this:

We should be for the humane treatment of prisoners and detainees. Existing rules are in place for a reason.
Those are two examples off the top of my head.

CB on BizarroWorld: "My last piece dealt primarily with the disservice that Amnesty International's leadership put forth with its irresponsible, counterproductive and wrong rhetoric, both by Secretary General Irene Khan and AIUSA executive director William Schulz."

Oh yeah... that time when you were angrily yelling at Amnesty for, well, saying that the US ought to do what

...you now say the US ought to do.

If you agreed with what Amnesty International were saying all along, you made a very poor fist of trying to convey your agreement.

because I thought the folks knew my positions

It's very odd, Charles. When we figure your position is what you actually wrote - as when you were ferociously attacking Amnesty International - you accuse us of "mindreading". Now you say you expect us to divine (by telepathy?) what you never actually wrote...

Jes, do us all a favor and be a woman of your word. You and I mutually agreed to refrain from talking to or about each other, and I expect you to live up to your end of the bargain.

Then allow me: Do you now think your prior vociferous criticism of Amnesty International was misplaced?

Great post. Although I think I read a lot of blogs I also work a lot and hadn't heard this story until my alarm went off Saturday morning. Even if the story's been told before on all these unnamed blogs, nothing wrong with repeating it or commenting on an NPR report. Kind of helps dispel that myth that even made its way to the floor of Congress last week (perpetuated by Gaffney) that Lincoln was for arresting Senators who oppose Presidents. I havent' found any, but I'm sure myths about Washington are being peddled as well.

CB: You and I mutually agreed to refrain from talking to or about each other, and I expect you to live up to your end of the bargain.

Fair point. :-) Can't blame a woman for being gobsmacked, though.

"Can't blame a woman for being gobsmacked, though."

Depends upon who's smacking her gob.

Do you now think your prior vociferous criticism of Amnesty International was misplaced?

No, sparti. Just as I can criticize--even harshly criticize--Bush and other Republicans, yet still be a member of the party, same goes with AI. In fact, I just re-upped with AI last week and remain a member in good standing.

I am agreement with its vision of a "world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards."

I see no one's linked this important archival document yet.

blahblahblah
your stupiddd!!!!!

OMG like how do you know bitch?????
exactly you don't.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad