Saturday, May 4, 2019

Choosing Your Target

     One of the ironies of history is the widespread belief that Germany was historically the most martially inclined of the European cultures. In truth, throughout most of European history the French were far more active militarily, especially during the centuries when France as we know it today had not yet come together politically. From the Middle Ages through the Napoleonic years, the French were Europe’s most feared military culture. The German military tradition, though deep, was more oriented toward innovation in strategy and tactics than actual military adventure.

     One of Germany’s great strategic thinkers was a certain Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, who rose through the ranks from his enlistment in the Prussian Army in 1854 to become Chief of the German General Staff in 1891. The Schlieffen Plan, which he composed, is his best known legacy. It highlights his grasp of a concept that strategists before him had undervalued: the supreme importance of “hitting ‘em where they ain’t.”

     Without going too deeply into the details, Schlieffen anticipated that France, humiliated in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, would sooner or later attempt to recapture the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine which Germany had annexed as part of the peace treaty. That motivation would animate a French thrust into and through those regions. The Schlieffen Plan was an elaborate circumvention of the projected French invasion. He intended that the lesser part of Germany’s forces would slowly retreat before the French thrust, drawing the French armies ever further from their homeland. Meanwhile the greater part of Germany’s forces would drive through the Low Countries in a massive counteroffensive, aimed at capturing Paris while France’s armies were far away.

     Schlieffen hoped to avoid a frontal campaign in which the French and German armies would clash head-to-head. That would give rise to a war of attrition, which he deemed unacceptable in duration and cost. He sought to strike at France’s head while its arms were far away and otherwise engaged.

     It was a plan well suited to the conditions of early Twentieth Century ground warfare in Western Europe. Had Schlieffen himself overseen its implementation, it almost certainly would have worked. The bloody business of World War I would have been over in a few weeks, at a far lower cost in lives and treasure than it ultimately demanded. However, two imprudently headstrong German field commanders – Von Kluck and Prince Rupprecht – an unacceptably timorous supreme general – Helmuth von Moltke the Younger – and the Russian invasion around the Masurian Lakes, which Von Moltke allowed to divert forces from his counteroffensive, combined to defeat Schlieffen’s stratagem. But that’s a subject for another time.

     Despite Germany’s defeat, Schlieffen’s insight remade thinking about warfare. It’s of equal value to us embroiled in political combat.

     It seems like only yesterday that I wrote that the Left worships itself. (As it happens, that’s because it was only yesterday, but never mind that.) In musing over political tactics appropriate to our time, that perception has risen to the top of my thoughts. How did it come to be?

     An old Russian maxim tells us that “the fish rots from the head.” While virtually everyone wants to think of himself, and will do so when possible, in the absence of powerful fertilizers and nutrients that seed of vanity is unlikely to flower into the sort of narcissism that characterizes the contemporary American Left. Despite appearances, the great majority of us are more sensible than that. Yet things are as they are.

     It’s my contention that a vanguard of excitants – the strategists and “thought leaders” of the Left – has been cultivating that narcissism for some decades. They’ve concentrated where young Americans gather together, told them how special they are, and steadily encouraged them to think themselves superior to others of different views. Such an effort had to be coupled to a steady denigration of traditional sources of guidance: religious instruction, parental authority, and respect for the experiences of earlier generations. We’ve watched this going on for a minimum of fifty years.

     A progression that deep won’t be reversed in an instant. It’s far more likely to take as long to demolish it as it took to build. But whatever the duration of the effort, we in the Right must choose our target wisely. In this regard, Schlieffen’s insight has immense value.

     What is the Left’s “head,” the decapitation of which would devitalize it and render it powerless?

     The thought I’ve followed to this point is that of Antonio Gramsci, the Communist revolutionary best known for proposing the “long march through the institutions.” That long march has been in progress for at least a century. It’s granted the Left control of three of the institutions in the West that are critical to the formation of opinions and attitudes: education, entertainment, and journalism. Two of those channels have allowed the Left’s icons and “thought leaders” to spread the “You are morally superior” message among American youth. The third has been reshaped to defend the message against contradiction.

     Therein lies the Left’s central strategic thrust. Must we oppose it frontally, despite its heavy fortifications? Or might it be possible to circumvent it?

     Let’s postulate that circumvention is possible. We do have the Internet today. That, given enough creativity and effort, could theoretically replace and bypass the conquered institutions. But at what should we aim?

     It’s not enough to contradict the “you are morally superior” messaging emanating from the Left’s vanguard. That’s a frontal campaign, the sort of battle of attrition that, ultimately, only the vultures win. But undermining the moral standing of those who promulgate that message has some possibilities.

     Consider this news story about Barack Hussein Obama’s reaction to Hillary Clinton’s defeat in November 2016:

     Barack Obama admitted 'this stings' after the 2016 election result and spent the night watching the movie Dr Strange to try and distract himself, a new book claims.

     The former president went from being confident that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump to seeing it as a 'personal insult' that she lost.

     Obama could not believe the American people had 'turned on him' for a man he had written off as a 'cartoon'.

     As the dust settled Obama told his family that 'this hurts' and blamed Clinton who 'brought many of her troubles on herself' and ran a 'scripted, soulless campaign'….

     [Author Peter] Baker writes: 'While Clinton had lost, so had [Obama]. The country that had twice elected Barack Hussein Obama as its president had now chosen as his successor a man who had questioned the very circumstances of his birth.

     'Obama may not have been on the ballot, but it was hard not to see the vote as a 'personal insult,' as he had called it on the campaign trail. 'This stings,' he said. 'This hurts'.

     Obama tried to keep his cool in the weeks afterwards and texted his speechwriter Ben Rhodes: 'There are more stars in the sky than sand on the earth'.

     But soon he was unable to contain his rage which escalated after he met Trump in the Oval Office.

     Exposing the monumental vanity of Obama, his chosen successor Hillary Clinton, and the larger cadre of the Establishmentarian Left – persons who regard themselves as the rightful rulers of our nation, openly more concerned for their “legacy” than for the well-being of the country – might be the weapon we need. If these persons could be exposed for what they really are – manipulative, power-obsessed narcissists who view us as pawns – it might bleed the moral conviction out of their followers. Without that conviction, would the Left have the vitality it needs to sustain its assault on Americans’ freedom and values?

     This is a channel of thought that deserves to be further explored and developed.

1 comment:

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

There is a great line in the "Patton" movie George C Scott referenced Von Schlieffen I never forgot about it and now I know "the rest of the story", thanks Paul, I mean Fran.