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September 05, 2006

Where Condoleezza Rice Draws Inspiration


Secretary of State Rice compared the Iraq war with the American Civil War, telling a magazine that slavery might have lasted longer in this country if the North had decided to end the fight early.

"I'm sure there are people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold," Rice said in the new issue of Essence magazine.

"I know there were people who said, 'Why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves?'" Rice said.

Given that Rice's academic specialty was the Soviet Union, she's undoubtedly familiar with George Kennan's famous "Long Telegram" on the Soviet Union in 1946:

[The Soviet Union] is seemingly inaccessible to considerations of reality in its basic reactions. For it, the vast fund of objective fact about human society is not...the measure against which outlook is constantly being tested and re-formed, but a grab bag from which individual items are selected arbitrarily and tendenciously to bolster an outlook already preconceived.

I guess Rice found this an inspiring vision of what the United States could, with her efforts, someday be.

Posted at September 5, 2006 08:20 AM | TrackBack

Condi's right about the Civil War. The Democrats ran on a peace platform in 1864 that called for negotiations with the South and would have probably led to the preservation of Slavery.

Here's Nast's criticism of the "Chicago Platform"

The analogy to Iraq, however, is questionable at best. First of all, the we're in the "Reconstruction" phase of the war. The 1861 to 1865 part of the war lasted about a month. As you surely know, the US did withdraw from the South, in 1877, paving the way for nearly a century of Jim Crow.

More importantly, the war has never been about noble aims like abolition or the advance of freedom. There are plenty of countries with far more brutal regimes that Bush could have chosen to "liberate". The line has always been that we are in Iraq because Iraq was a threat to us. (I will let you speculate about the real motives, given that this has proven false.) The "liberation of the Iraqi people" is a fig leaf that was pasted on to a pre-conceived war.

Posted by: Marcus at September 5, 2006 09:01 AM

It should be an unnecessary question, but:

If Condi cares about slavery in the modern context, as opposed to just as an enchanting metaphor by which to embroider her speeches, why are we

1.bent on a policy that will strengthen the hand of fundamentalists in Iraq(and Iran)?

2.Why didn't the US arrest Moqtada Al-Sadr, the force behind the Mehdi militias, in 2004 like they said they were going to?

3. Why does she say nothing about the modern African slave trade, and its connection to traffickers in the gulf states?

Ok, that's 3 questions. And I think I already know the answer(s).

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at September 5, 2006 02:00 PM

Actually, you're right: the similarities are striking. Replace 'bright communist future' with 'freedom and democracy', identify the current enemy - and you could basically use all Pravda editorials and their opinion pieces. Same style, same argumentation, same flavor.

Posted by: abb1 at September 5, 2006 02:39 PM

It appears that Secty Rice is trying to equate the one-time (unrealized) threat that the North might abandon the Civil War only half way through, thereby risking the ultimate freedom of the slaves, with the Republican allegation that the Democrats today are trying to abandon Iraq before the job is done there at a similar risk to the ultimate issue of freedom and democracy in Iraq, etc., etc.

A scurrilous comparison at best though they both concern what has turned into a civil war. Oooops.

Posted by: Uncle J. at September 5, 2006 03:42 PM

Actually, if Condi wants to push this analogy, the US in Iraq is really like the British or French in 1861-65, who were tempted to intervene in the US Civil War, but who more or less stayed out of it.

Or perhaps the true analogy is like the British in the War of 1812 -- having conquered the bulk of the country and done damage to the capital, should the Brits have stuck around for several more years until all of our sticky political questions were solved (and they squashed those pesky insurgents like Andrew Jackson in New Orleans)? Of course, in the meantime, the British government could have made sure that British companies had the best access to the fur trade, and blocked out those darn French. All in the name of freedom and civilization in a less developed region of the world. Maybe if they stayed, they could have prevented a civil war? But those darn "cut and run" liberals in Parliament wouldn't let the occupation drag on past 1814.

Posted by: Whistler Blue at September 5, 2006 04:22 PM

On the subject of the Civil War, Thomas DiLorenzo has some interesting things to say about St. Abe.

Posted by: Lloyd at September 5, 2006 09:24 PM

Thomas DiLorenzo is full of it. Here's a conversation I had with him recently:

Professor DiLorenzo,

I read your essay, The Other Reparations Movement
( with great
interest. The Civil War was truly a traumatic experience for the
South, and the total war strategies of Lincoln, Grant and Sherman
cause great destruction. Do you feel that the same standards of
international law should be applied to the Confederate Soldiers and
Irregulars who pillaged their way through the border states? Missouri
lost a third of her population during the war, due to the savagery of
Southern Guerrillas. Lawrence, Kansas was raped and burned. General
John D. Imboden pillaged and burned his way through West Virginia.
Unionists in Eastern Tennessee suffered mass hangings. If the South
should receive reparations for the crimes against her, should not
state governments of the old confederacy compensate the citizens of
Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky and West Virginia for the brutality of the
war waged against them? The Union mistreated Southern civilians in
attempt to force them to stay part of the USA, but the Confederacy is
equally brutal in its campaigns to enforce its rule in the territories
it claimed, despite the desire of the local inhabitants to remain
loyal to their government. While one wrong does not justify another, I
think Sherman put it well when he told the inhabitants of Atlanta the

"You deprecate [War's] horrors, but did not feel them when you sent
car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to
carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of
hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace
at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance."

You complain of the whitewash the Union's effort has received, yet in
some ways the South's brutality has been even more masked. Every
school child knows of Sherman's March and its horrors, but few know
the suffering of the border states. Any attempt to correct the record
or pay reparations must include this as well.



His reply:

Most of the suffering in the border states was the work of Lincoln and his armies. Yes, there were atrocities on both sides, but about 99% was the work of the federal armies. Get real.

Posted by: Marcus at September 6, 2006 12:18 PM

"99%" is probably an exaggeration. Although, if the standard to which The Hague court held Milosevic is valid, then maybe not.
DiLorenzo's primary utility is his putting to rest once and for all the fairy tale that Lincoln waged war against the South so as to free the slaves.

Posted by: Lloyd at September 6, 2006 09:10 PM

Lincoln may not have waged the war to free the slaves, but the South certainly succeeded in order to preserve slavery. Read the declarations of succession of any of the original sates of the confederacy. They mention Slavery as the cause of succession, almost to exclusion of any other grivence. There is only passing reference to the tariff issue and other economic policy differences. , which had been mostly resolved.

Posted by: Marcus at September 7, 2006 12:28 PM

The point is that the Civil War is remembered by most folks as the war fought to free the slaves. What most people think of as a mission statement for the Union, the Emancipation Proclamation, was not issued until after almost two years of war. Now Ms. Rice invokes the Union's part in the US Civil War as a sort of historical analogue to the US' role in Iraq -- as if staying, no matter the casualties, is the only moral thing to do.
I thought it was worth pointing out that the US Civil War was a far more morally ambiguous affair than is generally acknowledged. Personally, I think it would have been better if Americans could have resolved their differences in a way that did not involve the deaths of 600,000 -- even if slavery had to endure in the South another couple of decades. Let's be honest: things were not dramatically different for blacks in the South after the Civil War. Life as a share cropper is not a big step up from life as a slave. Things did not really begin to change for blacks until after WW II.

Posted by: Lloyd at September 7, 2006 06:46 PM