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April 17, 2003

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON WRITES ON THE THREE WEEKS' WAR:

But the lethality of the military is not just organizational or a dividend of high-technology. Moral and group cohesion explain more still. The general critique of the 1990s was that we had raised a generation with peroxide hair and tongue rings, general illiterates who lounged at malls, occasionally muttering "like" and "you know" in Sean Penn or Valley Girl cadences. But somehow the military has married the familiarity and dynamism of crass popular culture to 19th-century notions of heroism, self-sacrifice, patriotism, and audacity.

The result is that the energy of our soldiers arises from the ranks rather than is imposed from above. What, after all, is the world to make of Marines shooting their way into Baathist houses with Ray-Bans, or shaggy special forces who look like they are strolling in Greenwich Village with M-16s, or tankers with music blaring and logos like "Bad Moon Rising?" The troops look sometimes like cynical American teenagers but they fight and die like Leathernecks on Okinawa. The Arab street may put on shows of goose-stepping suicide bombers, noisy pajama-clad killers, and shrill, masked assassins, but in real battle against gum-chewing American adolescents with sunglasses these street toughs prove to be little more than toy soldiers.

There's this, too:

It was almost as if we were trying to exorcise a demon from an innocent zombie host, and thus had to use enough shock to chase out the spirit without damaging the body. That paradox in and of itself meant that a long preliminary bombing campaign was politically impossible especially with the world's news agencies ensconced in the Palestine Hotel paying bribe money to Baathists for the privilege of sending out slanted and censored news about collateral damage.

Read the whole thing.