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Are We On Our Way To Gettysburg? March 18, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
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The nightly newsreel rolls and we watch in fascination as our friend and ally Japan struggles to regain its bearings after nature’s devastating one-two-punch seems to have set them up for a potential nuclear knock-out.  Boosting the ratings of the wall-to-wall news channels we sit for hours glued to the scenes of devastation waiting to be amazed by the most recently discovered views of water overtaking land in a world where every phone is a video camera.  The destruction of this latest mega-tragedy is reminiscent of World War II after America paid back Pearl Harbor in spades and today’s situation even has an atomic twist at the end.  One major difference is that this time we are all praying that our partners in the land of the rising sun won’t have to surrender.

Today America faces an economic earthquake and a social tsunami.  Our leaders have spent us into the poor house.  Our melting pot has become a smelting pot.  Our social glue consists of eating at the same fast food restaurants and watching the same game shows. Reality shows are more popular than reality.  Our President fiddles while Rome burns more concerned about b-ball brackets then about a 14 trillion dollar debt, two wars, and a world aimed at meltdown.  The only event able to hold the administration’s interest is the 2012 election and their obsession to maintain their grasp on power.

The lack of a Historical perspective may well prove to be the undoing of our nation.  Once a people are divorced from their past they live in the Eternal Now and those who set the agenda can always change now.  The study of History not only provides context it also provides an endless number of lessons, illustrations, and warnings.

The magnitude of the calamities currently assaulting Japan cannot help but bring to mind the terrors of total war.  In all our wars only one ever visited such destruction on our homeland.  In the Civil War the North adopted a policy of total war to destroy the South’s will and ability to fight.   After the South under a string of brilliant generals culminating in Robert E. Lee handed the Union defeat after defeat Grant and Sherman were able to convince Lincoln of the necessity of wonton destruction of civilian as well as military targets.

Flush with victory Lee launched his first invasion of the North in 1862.  He marched into Maryland, a slave state which stayed loyal to the Union more because of an occupying army then because of popular sentiment.  Lee’s goal was to defeat the Union Army and lead Maryland into the Confederacy thus surrounding Washington DC, probably winning foreign recognition, and possibly winning the war.

The previously invincible Army of Northern Virginia led by arguably the greatest tactician America has ever produced met General George McClellan and the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Antietam for the bloodiest day in American combat history.   More than twice as many Americans were killed or mortally wounded at Antietam on that one day than in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined.

After twelve hours of savage combat more than 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing.  The fighting ended in a stalemate with combat stopping due to the sheer exhaustion of the armies not because one side had triumphed over the other.   However, Lee and his men were at the end of a precarious line of supply through enemy territory with no hope for reinforcement and more Union forces were arriving all the time.  Therefore, even though the Union sustained more casualties than the South, Lee was forced to withdraw.  This was a tactical victory for the South but a strategic victory for the North opening the door for Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation thus seizing the moral high ground in the war and precluding any recognition of the South by the European powers.

One year later after fresh victories at Spotsylvania Courthouse, in the Wilderness, and Chancellorsville Lee once again sought to end the war with a second invasion of the North.  This time he crossed the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry and marched into the heart of Pennsylvania hoping to destroy the North’s will to fight by bringing the war to them.

This time he met the Union Army under General George Meade a career officer and civil engineer.  In this pivotal battle of the war the great bold tactician met the plodding bureaucrat.  On the first day of the battle General Lee moved uncharacteristically slow and Meade moved uncharacteristically fast allowing the North to gain the high ground.  This set the stage for the battle as the South wasted itself attacking strong positions culminating in the fruitless slaughter of Pickett’s charge.  Bled white and facing a Union army that was constantly growing Lee turned around and carried the Confederacy’s last hope of victory from the field of honor.

But it didn’t have to end that way.  Instead of attacking against fortified positions either uphill or over open ground Lee could have turned to the east to march towards Washington.  Meade and the Union army would have had to follow him doing their best to move around him to shield the capitol.  Lee could then have chosen his ground and allowed the North to waste itself against a fixed position as they had so many times before.  A victory here would have left Lee with an unopposed road to Washington and possible victory.

Hindsight is 20/20 and at this distance without the hazard of battle and the gamble of combat it’s easy for an armchair general to improve upon the real life experience of one of the greatest generals in history.

What we need now is not hindsight but foresight.  Domestically, America is facing the perfect storm of crushing debt, dwindling industrial capacity, high unemployment, and creeping inflation.  Internationally we’re engaged in two hot wars, a desultory campaign against international terrorists, pirates on the high seas, and collapsing prestige.

Are we boldly marching towards our Gettysburg?  Are we blindly relying on our past glories expecting them to propel us to future triumphs?  Will we waste ourselves assailing massive debt with paltry cuts?  Are we marching over open ground against the fixed positions of free trade agreements that are free in only one direction?  Are we hamstringing ourselves with an energy policy designed to keep the earth green by devastating our pockets for the benefit of our enemies?

Before it’s too late we should turn and march towards victory!  Stop the over spending.  Renegotiate all our trade deals, and make them equitable for all sides.  Put the welfare genie back in its lamp before Ali Baba and his 535 thieves pass another budget, loot the treasury, and we end up sitting in the dirt eating leaves.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

 

What Will You Do When the Lights Go Out? March 11, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
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When the power goes off leaving you with no TV, Internet, or email you have a lot of time on your hands.  Thankfully there are batteries, so my trusty computer will still work for a few hours, and I can follow my fingers into my thoughts.  Looking out my window I can’t see any lights in the neighborhood so at least I know it isn’t just our house that’s in the dark.  In addition, there are cars running up and down the street, so I know at least it wasn’t the dreaded EMP blast.  The wind was making a strange noise but stopped, so we have come out from under the table since there’s no indication of a tornado on the way.  All these kinds of thoughts run through your mind when the lights go off.  In other words, when you’re in the dark there’s little light.

This lack of power also brings to mind the recent spike in oil prices and the resulting sticker shock at the pump.  Our government assures us there is no inflation.  Anyone who goes to the supermarket or the gas station can gauge the validity of those claims for themselves.  When the power goes off in the middle of the night it’s impossible to know why, but when America runs out of energy we should all know why.

Beginning in 1974 when the former anti-establishment protesters became the establishment and the Watergate Congress grasped the reins of power the United States has been systematically hamstrung in its production of energy.  They founded the department of Energy in 1977, and through its enlightened management of our energy production and power needs the percentage of our energy needs coming from domestic sources has steadily fallen as our dependence on imported oil has soared.

America has some of the greatest proven reserves of oil in the world, but due to unproven and sometimes disproven environmental concerns we aren’t allowed to explore, drill, or pump at anywhere near full capacity.  We have one of the world’s largest supply of coal, but for the same tenuous reasons its use is maligned and restricted.  We are the preeminent designer and builder of nuclear power plants, but due to unsupported safety concerns we haven’t licensed or built a new plant for decades.  We have the technology and the space to build refineries that don’t pollute; however, the all powerful environmental lobby has blocked the construction of a new one for over thirty years.  So when the price hits $4 a gallon and the lights go out don’t sit in the dark and wonder why.

Right now the Obama Administration is fighting the federal courts that have said the moratorium on oil exploration in the Gulf, which was imposed by decree, is illegal.  In a knee jerk reaction our President declared the gulf off limits for drilling, economically devastating the deep water oil business and the many industries and people it supported.  The government argues it’s too dangerous to drill in deep water after the BP leak.  No one contends it isn’t difficult but since the same government makes it almost impossible to drill on land where it is the safest or in shallow water where it is much less dangerous what alternative is there?  Only the one each successive administration for decades seems to favor: buying oil from the Mideast.  Our elected leaders are trading our energy independence and our treasure in exchange for letting someone else drill somewhere else.

Instead of oil and coal and nuclear we are told that America’s future energy needs will be met by ethanol, solar, and wind.  Our massive use of ethanol, which is a very inefficient energy source, has driven up the price of corn worldwide causing food prices to escalate.  This in turn has contributed to the current unrest which is driving up oil prices.  The same environmentalists who campaign against oil, coal, and nuclear also work to block the construction of solar power plants in the vast deserts of the Southwest.  The same politicians who work for the demise of our traditional forms of energy fight the construction of wind farms if they happen to be anywhere near them.  All three of these boondoggles have received billions in federal dollars, tax breaks and incentives for decades and the answer to our energy needs are still blowing in the wind.

The only growth industry left by the government is the government.  It is powered by its own inertia. America’s energy policy seems to be to manufacture an energy crisis.  Typing away on my battery operated computer by the flickering light of an oil lamp, the vision of America’s energy future seems almost as dark as the scene outside my window in a blackout.  We’ve allowed demagogues preaching a false gospel of man-made global warming chanting songs of pollution hysteria while serving sacraments of social guilt to give our enemies a chokehold on our energy artery.  The next time you pull into a gas station as you pump your fuel look at the price.  Remind yourself we have a Secretary of Energy who thinks the price should be at European levels and a President who has said energy prices will skyrocket under his programs. Now ask yourself, “If that’s their plan, what’s mine?”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

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