Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Greatest Political Orator of Our Day

With lines like this one he gave at the Council of Foreign Relations, it’s easy to see why Governor Schwarzenegger is such a successful politician:

“If you are against taking actions against greenhouse gases and carbon emissions your political base will melt away as sure as the polar ice caps.

You will become a political penguin on a smaller and smaller ice floe drifting out to sea. Goodbye my little friend.”

He also dresses extremely well, as Nicholas Antongiavanni has noted.

Goodbye my little friends.

Congress 2007/CPSA Conference in Saskatoon – Are You Going?

I’m going to be at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for the rest of the week. Congress is the largest annual academic gathering in Canada and I’ll be attending the Canadian Political Science Association part of the conference.

If you’re planning on attending, drop me an email me [greg – at – mediablitz.ca](or contact me here) and maybe we can discuss the state of the blogosphere over a few drinks

Falklands War Anniversary – Remembering War

On the twenty fifth anniversary of the Falklands War, an ambitious war fought by Britain some 8,000 miles away, here is a good documentary on the conflict, produced for the twentieth anniversary.

In the conflict, Britain took more casualities than they have taken in both Iraq and Afghanistan to date. Winning the conflict took political courage on the part of an embattled Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, defending substantive British sovereignty though it be fought over a seemingly insignificant group of islands, with barely sufficient military hardware to do it.

Anniversaries such as this make us realize that defending one’s national interest and security is always at the chancy cost of high casualties and potential loss of face. War isn’t easy but an ever-present reality in human history; just wars being fought. Further to this point, Rich Lowry provides good commentary on why war history matters and what’s wrong with it in contemporary liberal education:

Battles are so important to history that their names alone — Vienna, Waterloo, Stalingrad — can evoke the beginning or end of epochs and empires. Violent conflict is one of the most persistent characteristics of human history, and warfare features the interplay of strategy, weaponry, chance, logistics, emotion, and leadership. It is an occasion for folly and brutality, and — as we remember on Memorial Day — heroism and sacrifice.

It is for all these reasons that books and TV programming on warfare are so popular; their subject is both fascinating and important, history at its most consequential and dramatic. Nonetheless, military history has been all but banished from college campuses. …

History departments are dominated by a post-Vietnam generation of professors for whom bottom-up “social history” is paramount, and the only areas of interest are race, sex, and class. History focusing on great events and the “great men” central to them is retrograde — let alone military history that ipso facto smacks of militarism. …

Edward Coffman, a former military historian at the University of Wisconsin, studied the 25 best history departments according to U.S. News & World Report rankings and found that a mere 21 professors out of more than 1,000 listed war as their specialty. A Notre Dame student complained recently: “We have more than 30 full-time history faculty members, but not one is a military historian. Even in their self-described interests, not a single professor lists ‘war’ of any era, although half list religious, gender and race relations.” …

The gatekeepers of the profession practically proscribe traditional military history. John A. Lynn recently looked back at the past 30 years of the prestigious academic journal The American Historical Review. He found no articles on the conduct of World War II, the American Revolution, or the Napoleonic Wars. There were articles that discussed atrocities in the English Civil War and in the American Civil War and an article on World War I — on women soldiers in the Russian army.

One frustrated teacher of military history jokes that military historians have become “exactly the types of marginalized people that the social historians are supposed to be championing.”

That military history has been chased from the academic field is especially perverse given that, when the classes are offered, they are popular with students. And military history, as a discipline, is as vital as ever. Writing on the American Heritage’s website, Sarah Lawrence College professor Frederic Smoler argues that “the past 30 years have seen a brilliant expansion in the intellectual and methodological breadth of military history,” beginning with the publication of John Keegan’s 1976 classic The Face of Battle.

None of this is enough to overcome the deep intellectual bias against military history. New Republic contributing editor David A. Bell locates that bias deep in the social sciences: “The origin of these sciences lie in liberal, Enlightenment-era thinking that dismissed war as primitive, irrational and alien to modern civilization.” This represents a fundamental misapprehension of human nature and thus the nature of history.

Brave men always will be necessary to defend freedom, and what they have done deserves to be remembered, and studied.

Conrad Black Trial Historic

Whatever the verdict in the Conrad Black trial, we seem to be witnessing a unique turn of history in American justice, a turn this trial reveals, whichever side comes out on top.  Mark Steyn’s coverage has been nothing short of extraordinary; when all is said and done, the verdict rendered, appeals filed (be they necessary), he has more than enough material for another best-seller; one that will be read for years, possibly even like we still read about the Dreyfus Affair.

Regardless of your view of Lord Black, his ability to challenge the prosecution on their own terms, to play their game and reveal it largely a fraud, spectacle and all, will ripple across the American justice system for years to come.

Here’s the jist of it:

We’re in the ninth year – whoops, my mistake, ninth week – of this trial and, in the longueurs of mid-afternoon as some underwhelming attorney combs the fine print of the 2001 10K SEC filing for the umpteenth time, one’s mind naturally wanders to more congenial topics, and often alights on the very pronounced differences between US courts and our own tradition. In the United Kingdom, the routine criticism of the robes and wigs and whatnot is that they can be “intimidating” to the ordinary citizen. Really? I would have thought Joe Public might just as often be reassured by the anachronistic garb: the dress code signals that he is in a system that operates to ancient and enduring legal principles immune to the passing fancies of the age. In the British West Indies, the silk and wing collars and jabots and horsehair wigs exemplify the difference between a genuine rule of law and what passes for justice in Haiti and Cuba.

America, by contrast, has thrown out the costume party and significantly tilted the balance between judge, jury and prosecutor, yet retains Count of Monte Cristo sentences. Indeed, it sometimes seems that the more deals you cut with “witnesses” the more decades get piled on to whoever the remaining designated “criminal” is. If you believe the government’s version of events, Black and Radler committed the same crimes and stole exactly the same amount of money. Yet Conrad Black is facing 101 years in jail, which means he will almost certainly die in prison, while David Radler will get 29 months, which means that, as the US is not opposing his transfer to British Columbia, he will (under Corrections Canada policy) serve just six months, most likely enjoying the “golf therapy” and other amenities of Ferndale. This time next year, he’ll be back running his company Horizon, the group of small newspapers he filleted off the Hollinger carcass.