March 23, 2006

NAME ONE (via Pepys):

Less safe after years in Iraq (Sheila Suess Kennedy, March 23, 2006, March 23. 2006)

We have just "celebrated" the third anniversary of our invasion of Iraq.

Some wars, regrettably, are necessary. Iraq was not such a war. It was a war of choice, impelled by ideology...

Note the conspicuous failure to mention any war we've ever fought that was necessary. The reality is that all America's wars have been ideological, not necessary.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2006 10:19 PM

WWII: the Japanese and the Germans both declared war on us.

Civil War: the rebels fired first.

Otherwise, I think you're right, as I can't remember another war that was 'necessary'.

Posted by: Steve White at March 23, 2006 10:37 PM

We supplied the Allies & cut Japan off from oil, and we could have avoided the Civil War by not electing Lincoln.

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2006 11:02 PM

Lincoln could have avoided the war simply by letting the South go, as he was urged to do by a not insubstantial portion of the country.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 23, 2006 11:46 PM

You make this distinction a lot, but never define your terms. What would constitute a "necessary" war?

Posted by: Brandon at March 23, 2006 11:54 PM


It would have to be existential, no?

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 11:59 PM


I can declare war on Burkina Faso, why would it be necessary for them to respond?

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2006 12:29 AM

Would the War of 1812 qualify as 'existential'?

Sure, it was kind of a hodge-podge, but our capitol was attacked and it could be viewed as the Brits trying to strangle the nation in its crib.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 24, 2006 7:20 AM


They burned it--they were never going to resume governance of America. Our regime has never been seriously threatened.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2006 7:49 AM

"Civil War: the rebels fired first"

The Union troops were trepassing on the Sovereign State of South Carolina and would not leave when asked to. Thus they were an invading force.

Posted by: h-man at March 24, 2006 8:56 AM

The US Civil War was necesary since without it, there would have been no United States as we understand it. Just 2 (or more) weak entities. Think Canada. So, it is was existential war.

Posted by: Bob at March 24, 2006 10:24 AM


If you can add states and still call it the United States of America there's no reason you can't subtract. It was unnecessary.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2006 10:35 AM

The American Civil War wasn't necessary, but Bob is correct in that the CSA could have been a permanently negative influence on the USA.

Consider, for instance, the extremely likely probability that the CSA would be even less prosperous than the American Southeast is now, and that's by far the least prosperous region of the U.S.

It'd be like having two Mexicos to our south.

The U.S. have succeeded so spectacularly in part because we've largely avoided the constant warfare that plagued Europe.
Positing that the continent be shared by four large nations, two of them desperately poor and dysfunctional, greatly reduces the likelihood that we'd have ended up with anywhere near the same degree of peace and prosperity.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 24, 2006 11:25 AM

To the contrary, a more organic process of freeing the slaves would likely have meant better race relations and a South that wasn't so economically retarded.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2006 11:32 AM

If the South had left, the remainder of the Union would likely have splintered later. The West would be a separate country at least. Would Alaska have been acquired by the rump USA? Not likely. North America would have 5 or more countries. As Michael points out, war would have been likely anyway.

Slavery would also have lasted many, many more years in the South. It would have ended in blood and fire one way or another. Can't see how that would help race relations.

Posted by: Bob at March 24, 2006 12:39 PM


Off the top of my head, I doubt if the SE is that much less prosperous than the Midwest, and may even be ahead (however prosperity is defined). And states like PA and OH can't be too far ahead of GA, FL, and NC.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 24, 2006 12:43 PM

But all that happened only after Jim Crow ended--which was a function of the war.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2006 12:48 PM


Better to have splintered sooner.

Slavery didn't work economically so it would have ended.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2006 12:49 PM

Very strange argument that merely by electing someone (Lincoln) they didn't like, the South could secede. "Elections only count if I win" is absurd. To allow someone to secede on the basis of that infantile argument is to concede there is no point to democracy or elections.

And precisely because the secession argument was so infantile, to allow it would have allowed anyone to secede for any reason. Unionists in 1860 knew this was a very real threat.

The Confederacy was a rebellion. Its actions make an utter hash out of any "legitimate" reasons to secede. It encouraged rebellion in Missouri and Maryland, invaded Kentucky, overthrew the Governor in TX, fought its own people throughout Appalachia who opposed disunion, and tried to seize Federal territories in the Southwest. Their rebellion was not based on any principles, but a naked desire for power.

For decades up to 1860, the slaveholding South did everything it could to impose a continued Southern hegemony on the Federal goverment. When its attempts finally failed in 1860 their response was to void a legitimate democratic election.

OJ, slavery was not as economically advantageous as free labor, but the South would have continued with it.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at March 24, 2006 1:33 PM

Were the Civil War and WWII unnecessary? Perhaps. But perhaps the right question is were they inevitable. I think so. Too much at stake to think folks would behave otherwise. OJ, I think you're Monday morning view is interesting, but ultimately irrelavant,

Posted by: jdkelly at March 24, 2006 6:27 PM

Everything is inevitable afterwards. We're democrats so we can never admit error--it reflects on us.

Posted by: oj at March 24, 2006 7:12 PM

I can admit error. Just meant to raise the question of the scope of free will vs. Providence. As has been noted here before, as I recollect, free will is limited and exercised in context. Once the context is set, men are free to act within it. But what are the limits imposed by the situation? I'm just not as certain as you where the line exists. An eternal question. Work it out in fear and trembling,I guess.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 24, 2006 8:19 PM

jim hamlen:

As these Census Bureau tables make clear, the Southeast is, by far, the region with the lowest household incomes.
Now, it's true that in much of the South, the cost of living is also among the nation's lowest, so some southern states with slightly lower incomes actually enjoy a comparable living standard to states with higher household incomes, but that only goes so far.

FL, GA, and NC are indeed comparable to OH or PA in terms of standard of living, and VA is far ahead of either - but here we're comparing the top states in one region to the bottom states in another.

Three-Year-Average Median Household Income by State: 2002-2004

Current Population Survey, Distribution of Households by Selected Characteristics Within Income Quintile, in 2004

The South has over one-third of all U.S. households, and 43% of them are in the bottom two income quintiles, far more than any other region.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 24, 2006 11:47 PM