Some Thursday Songs-Metal, Myth, American Romanticism And The Civil War


I just post them. The music has a certain epic, warlike quality. A piece where myth, metal and a certain contemplative middle section make for decent composition.

It reminded me a bit of the score for Conan The Destroyer which made those movies a lot better in my opinion. Hokey, sure, but romantic, mythic, strident and lush:


And as for an Irish-fiddle influence on a movie aiming for American Romanticism, epic narrative, and Hudson River School landscape artistry:


And there’s triumph there, but deep sadness too, about soldiers returning home from the Civil War:

Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’

Full piece here.

Now, we shouldn’t have aimed for troops on the ground necessarily, but whatever window we had, is likely gone.  Now we sit back, biting our nails:

‘What are our security interests? The key issue is the safety of the regime’s chemical weapons. Our military contingencies should focus solely on preventing the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction to fanatics.

Syria’s complexity is daunting: A major regional struggle for hegemony waged as a proxy war; a showdown between Sunni and Shia, with minorities trapped in the middle; a parallel contest between modernizers and fundamentalists; and the bloody dissolution of the artificial borders imposed by Europeans at the Versailles peace conference nine decades ago.’

Thanks to a reader for the link.

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Adam Garfinkle:  Map humor.

Addition:  Via the NY Times:  John Kerry announced $60 million in U.S. aid to the Syrian opposition, food rations for the military front, and is trying to bet on the political horses, so that the worst elements, if and when Assad falls, aren’t holding the guns.

Related On This Site:Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

More on Assad From The Guardian: ‘Syria Conflict: Syria Fires More Scuds’

Full piece here.

“We’ve been clear that we have seen the regime in Syria use Scud missiles against its own people, and that continues,” a senior State Department official told the New York Times.’

Assad and the Alawite minority loyalists are still planning a retreat to the coast, but as the opposition gains enough strength this is likely to come to a bloody end for Assad, even after the retreat.  It’s the drawn-out, civil conflict spilling over Syrian borders that was feared, with possibly over 50,000 dead so far.  Regional instability is still the primary concern.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Some in the current U.S. administration started out in human rights campaigns and then moved to security and diplomatic positions.  Many have adopted realpolitik, pursuing U.S. interests relentlessly and accepting limitations. The overall framework, however,  still seems to be liberal internationalist, which brings human rights to the fore, and seeks to defer U.S. interests to international laws, courts, and institutions.

The neoconservative model, which advocates the use of military force to advance our interests on our own, as well spreading our ideals of freedom and democracy through that force, ran into serious difficulties in Iraq, and is on the ropes.

The Libyan intervention was offered as a successful alternative:  Rid Libyans of the tyrant to advance freedom, but do so with a light footprint and as much international support as possible.  There has been some success, but it’s not clear at what current costs (ambassador Stevens, 3 Americans and a hit to freedom of speech as well as a projection of weakness) as well as future costs to American interests and security (though to be fair, this can be said about pretty much any operation).

Syria was argued as too complex, and too complicated a country for the same Libyan model to work.  There’s been a Western retreat into watching Syria devolve into civil conflict, offering mild and belated support to the opposition (still betting on horses, like we did with the insurgence against the Russians in Afghanistan back in 1979), and hoping the U.N. would be able to muster something (which it really hasn’t).  We’re offering some arms and other support inside Syria, and aid outside of it, but it continues to burn and molder.

The overall Obama doctrine remains unclear:  Do we continue to prosecute Bush’s War On Terror with drone strikes, special operations, Navy Seals, and intel operations, while simultaneously trying to appeal to non-terrorist and ‘moderate’ Muslims?

Can we reasonably expect Russia, and China, and other Muslim nations to align with our interests through international laws and courts?

Are we making our economy strong so that trade, business and educational interests can put our better foot forward?

Are we leading by example through our commitment to our freedoms, including the freedom of speech and the political and economic freedoms that allow the human rights folks and NGO’s to flourish?

Addition:  Egyptian voters adopt the Brotherhood’s constitution.

Related On This Site:Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

From Reuters: ‘Israel Fires Warning Shots At Syria Over Golan Shelling’

Full post here.

‘An Israeli security source said the military fired in the direction of a Syrian army mortar crew that had launched a shell which overshot the Golan disengagement fence on Sunday, exploding near a Jewish settlement without causing casualties.’

A long protracted, civil war was feared, enflaming sectarian lines and drawing in regional powers.   We’ve probably had special ops on the ground and there are probably a few other things going on, and lots of aid groups and just across the border in Jordan.   This is to say nothing of what Iran, Hizbollah, Lebanon, Turkey, and others have going on in Syria.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria.

What’s going on with Petraeus?  It seems a little odd that the FBI is doing a full investigation on the head of the CIA.

Related On This SiteVia Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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From The NY Times: ‘U.S. Military Is Sent to Jordan to Help With Crisis in Syria ‘

Full piece here.

‘The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict.’

It’s still unfolding messily: a protracted civil conflict along sectarian lines with spillover.  Turkey has been shelling inside Syria for over six days, and returning fire on its borders.  There are many thousands dead and many cities heavily damaged inside Syria.

More here that Assad is losing his grip.

We likely have, or have had, special operations inside Syria assisting the rebel forces, but obviously there’s only so much we can do.

Why enter Libya and possibly end up with a client State, and not Syria?  Why bet on the horses in one country and not another according to the current doctrine, relying instead on a particularly ineffective international process?

Related On This Site: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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Timothy Snyder At The New Republic: ‘Savagery’

Full review here.

Snyder reviews Paul Preston’s new book on the Spanish Civil War.

There was plenty of savagery to go around during the War, and the little I know I do from having spent time in Spain and getting to know a few people whose grandparents fought during that time.  The Valle de Los Caidos is seldom talked about, and for good reason (Franco used prison laborers from the other side in order to construct a monument to his fallen fellows).

Perhaps the more conservative, traditional, religious parts of the nationalist coalition weren’t prepared for some of the folks that made up Franco’s forces:

‘First, many of the soldiers fighting under the banner of Spanish nationalism against the Republic were Muslims, mercenaries from Spanish Morocco. Second, Christian soldiers were little interested in the application of ethics to their deeds.

Well, this is war and Franco did amass his army from the Spanish colonies in Morocco.  Yet as for the Republicans:

‘The most violent political force in the Republican zone were the anarchists, who fought against Franco but also opposed the Republic. Beyond the reach of the government, and bountifully armed, they were all but impossible to control. They ran the most murderous of the checas, including one squad that decorated their murder van with skulls and their uniforms with death’s heads’

The fight had been brewing for quite some time to get Spain on the path to “modernity” and “progress.”  Clearly, not everyone agreed how to get there or where they were going…as other European ideological conflicts and interests consumed the country:

‘And so the Republic itself, when it was re-established in 1931, was bound to provoke determined and articulate resistance. Its new constitution propagated a secular state, which angered the priesthood and the conservatives. The first government purged the officer corps, demoting many officers who had been promoted for their deeds in Morocco. But more infuriating still, it concerned itself with the fate of the peasantry, rather than leaving them under the authority of local notables.’

Our author wants to note that Preston’s book is careful to point out that the Nationalists were worse, however, which raised a bit of suspicion on my part:

‘Preston is concerned to show that violence from the Right was on a greater scale than violence from the Left during the Spanish Civil War. Contemporary accounts of atrocities came from Madrid, the Republican capital, where reporters and ambassadors could observe and criticize the actions of the Republic but not those of the rebels—with certain exceptions, such as that airdropped corpse. Preston reminds us that prevailing opinion in the British establishment (Churchill was a good example) held at the time that right-wing killings were relatively insignificant. But with the help of massive documentation recently published by Spanish historians, Preston shows that roughly 150,000 Spaniards were murdered on territories controlled by the rebel nationalists, compared with about 50,000 in the Republican zones’

Well, everyone has their interests while examining the conflict, but point taken.  Snyder goes on:

‘From Poland’s Galicia in the east to Spain’s Galicia in the west, conditions of radical inequality conspired with weak state institutions to turn the energy of capitalism against democracy by generating support for the far Left and the far Right, especially during the Great Depression’

Is “capitalism” really the bogeyman here, a handmaiden to both the anarchic revolutionaries and the fascist mercenaries with “democracy” lost in the shuffle?  Implicit in the review are certain assumptions about democracy, which seem pretty liberal by American standards.

In fact, this review is found in “the New Republic”, so, duly noted.

Related On This Site: Snyder is perhaps not a fan of libertarianism Timothy Snyder Responds To Steven Pinker’s New Book At Foreign Policy: ‘War No More: Why The World Has Become More Peaceful’