Your example of an 1856 British 'liberation' is beyond the pale. Let me understand this, a nation that whose empire controls tens upon tens of millions of humans in every corner of the earth, invades the USA because less than half of that nations states keeps 4 million people as slaves!? You better reach again for a better 'speculation'. I remember that my 1939 to 1945 analogies where deemed unworthy in a previous conversation, it appears that I should have reached farther back another entire century!
Then you say: ...our [antebellum] culture shows a vibrant abolitionist movement and a firm grasp of the principles of liberty." ... There is, for example, a growing, vibrant anti-mullah movement in Iran, and they may not yet have a full grasp of the principles of liberty. Still, who knows what good might come from increased pressure in the culture wars?
Are you kidding me? Come on Chris, what a terrible comparison. It is not even close. Iran is a nation in search of its own 'soul', seeking the very first stages of the liberation of even the minutest portion of their populace. The comparison you made was with a nation 100 years into its existence in freedom, on the road of dispensing with an aspect that was in contradiction to its principles, a nation whose level of 'civilization' even over 150 years ago exceeded that of the present day Iran.
Chris says: The wider war, the cultural and philosophical one, has to be fought with different weapons: weapons of the mind. In the meanwhile, military action needs to be justified on the grounds of protection and defense.
No Chris, god damn it - no! It needs to be fought with guns, bombs, and a terrible and unshakable resolve. Our nation has been attacked (and is under attack). The military actions that do need to be justified are our timidity and the hand-tied method by which George Bush has conducted this war - this is what needs to be questioned. After victory is achieved, and only after - then when can unleash our academics of the mind. Judging by their past performance it should not take them more than a decade or two to fuck it all up again, but in the mean time the greater threat will be diminished.
The day that those planes crashed into those towers, all bets should have been off. The war is not a police action against a 'criminal gang', although the voice of appeasement loves to paint it that way. Al Qaeda is an instrument, a tool, an extension, a by-product; an effect - not cause. The cause has but two parents: Islamic primitivism and Western appeasement. The Middle East is no more than than the sum of its tyrants. There is no 'voice of the people' or even a 'voice of Islam' there are only the tyrants and the power they wield.
I said it once and I will say it again, the potential tragedy in the current war is best exemplified by exchanges such as the one on this thread. Exchanges that are echoed a million times over in every corner of the media, exchanges that can only result in the moral paralysis of our nation and leaders. Thanks be to heaven that these sort of exchanges were deemed beneth contempt by earlier generations of Americans.
You and I agree on one thing Chris; that a tragedy may be in the making.
Hours after the Pearl Harbor attack Admiral Yamamoto said, " I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve". Among the many reasons that Japan felt that a single blow might cause America to shrink back from total war, was their belief that America had become a soft and morally corrupt nation, a nation unable to muster the resolve to face an implacable foe. The Japanese leadership was wrong in 1941, and Yamamoto was proven right. It appears Yamamotos 'sleeping giant' of 1941 has developed a bad case of narcolepsy since then. What terrifies me today is that the greatest resolve I see in this nation is among those that would undermine it.