Friday, August 01, 2008

Ever heard of the UN's Millenium Development Goals? Neither had I until I read this column by Ollie North, a man I trust and admire. Here's the skinny:

For years, the UN has been pushing for a global effort to bring the Third World into the modern world. On the surface, their intentions seem wonderful. They call their objectives the Millenium Development Goals and it consists of 8 specific things they hope to achieve. These are: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; develop a global partnership for development. The target date for achieving these goals is 2015.

Here is the website if you want to learn more.

Now, I am all for doing these things. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who isn't. But my cynicism immediately kicks in when I hear talk of such things because doing these kinds of things costs money, and lots of it. And where does the UN hope to get such money?

Before we get into that, I also want to point out my past criticism of the UN. It's no secret that I despise that institution. In my mind, the idea of a multinational global union that works for the benefit of all people is a pipe dream. Each individual nation is going to seek its own self-interests, regardless of what's best for the world. So bringing nations together for a common goal amounts to herding cats. Then there's the Third World influence which seems to dominate the UN, as well as the influence of dictatorial regimes like Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba, who have no interest in democracy and basic human rights. They all get one vote in the UN General Assembly, as does the United States despite the fact that we pay 25% of the UN's annual budget revenue. So I often wonder how the UN expects to fight for human rights issues when many of its member nations aren't interested in these issues. Then, you have to factor in the corruption, and the UN is arguably the most corrupt institution in human history. There's a lot of money going into that body, and the people who pay this money aren't getting much return on the investment.

My point is that if we want an effective global union then it must be a group of nations with a common goal and a common interest. This body should be comprised of ONLY nations who practice democracy and equality. At least then, we would find some common ground while also speaking with a loud voice. It would encourage those outside nations to clean up their acts in order to be a part of the global community. Seems so common sense to me.

Now, back to the Millenium Goals. The UN hopes to achieve these with a familiar plan - redistribution of wealth. It will require the wealthiest nations to pony up big time so that the poorest nations can be provided with the necessities required to achieve the goals. The US cost? Annually, 0.7% of its gross national product. That's $100 billion a year NOT including the 25% of the UNs annual budget that we already fund.

While you try to close your jaws, you can also think about this. Despite his inexperience, Barack Obama HAS proposed some legislation, and one of his key legislative pieces is the Global Poverty Act of 2007. In addition to Obama, it has 29 cosponsors. Here is what the bill says:

"To require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day."

Basically, this bill is an endorsement of the UNs plan and it requires the US government to find a way to get the UN what it needs to accomplish it. What does that mean to you and me? Simple, the IRS will be collecting taxes for the United Nations. Frame it anyway you want, but that's what will happen.

I am a "by your own bootstraps" kind of guy. I sympathize with people who struggle but I believe it is ultimately their responsibility to free themselves of that struggle. Society's responsibility is to ensure they have the freedom to do so, without someone else's boot on their neck. Freebies are nice, but are more often than not squandered. It's only when things are earned that they are valued. This rings true whether you're talking about a single individual or an entire country. Many nations have pulled themselves out of poverty, look no further than China for such an example. So the idea of taxing the wealthy to give to the poor is just as fruitless on an international level as it is on an intranational level. How much has this nation spent on entitlements and social programs since the 1960s? And how much have we accomplished? Just look at the statistics and you'll see again that there has been little return on that investment.

Obama calls himself a citizen of the world, and his Global Poverty Act is his crowning piece of legislation. It passed the House in September 2007, and now has to pass the Senate and be signed by the President. Once that happens, the American people will be paying heavier taxes to the UN - a corrupt and inept institution - for the benefit of those nations who won't take responsibility for themselves. No wonder this man is loved by the world moreso than by his own country, his loyalties at times seem to be misplaced. $100 billion a year can do a lot right here in America.

Redistribution of wealth does not work and it never will. Think about that on November 4.

27 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

But my cynicism immediately kicks in when I hear talk of such things because doing these kinds of things costs money, and lots of it.

So does a nearly trillion dollars a year military budget. As does the idea that we can buy our way to safety by building an ever-increasing military machine.

Does your cynicism kick into gear when you hear that?

Is that also redistribution of wealth or is it merely using our money responsibly to deal with common problems?

I think having a defense system, a military, IS using our common wealth to deal with our common problems.

Similarly, I laud approaches to deal with these other problems. Using our common wealth to deal with our common problems.

What's the difference?

Dan Trabue said...

For what it's worth, I think Obama's $100 billion investment will go MUCH further towards providing defense for our nation than all the hundreds of billions we have spent in Iraq so far.

But certainly reasonable people may disagree.

What I would hope DOESN'T happen, though, is that those opposed to Obama's approach don't act as if Obama is in favor of spending tax dollars towards mutual concerns but those opposed to it are NOT in support of spending tax dollars.

BOTH sides are talking about spending tax dollars. The question is: What is most effective at dealing with these problems?

Robert M. said...

The U.S. military is often abused (i.e. Iraq etc.) but its members are not often intentionally malicious. I have my doubts about standing armies, and preemptive war, and I don't know exactly what my views are on the U.S. military, but I know that it is not nearly so harmful as the U.N. Plus, it has a much better track record, as it actually acted in defense of America (i.e. did its job) a few times. Not in all wars, or even most, of course, but it has proven its worth at least three times I can think of in a major way.

The U.N., on the other hand, is one giant corruption machine which has never helped anyone. It is world government, and like all governments it is harmful, ineffective, and corrupt. It has consistently abused the citizens of third-world nations, and done nothing to stop real problems that arise in those nations, militarily or otherwise. Even world hunger programs cause scandals and abuse. To look at it honestly, the U.N. is a money-making machine for its higher-ups. I see no reason to support such a system.

So I understand the analogy Dan, but it's not really comparable.

Dan Trabue said...

You DO know that Ollie North is a man convicted of war crimes and who proudly acknowledges his participation in such? You find that a reliable source?

"Accused of violating international law and the U.S. Constitution, North was convicted in 1989 of three federal crimes: aiding in the obstruction of Congress, accepting illegal gratuities and destroying documents related to arms sales to Iran to finance the contra war."

source

Really?

Dan Trabue said...

The U.N., on the other hand, is one giant corruption machine which has never helped anyone.

Demonstrably untrue. While there are CERTAINLY problems with the UN and there are corruptions that need to be dealt with (as there have been in our US military - see the North reference above) - they have at times served their legitimate purpose.

I am all for confronting and dealing with any real corruption within the UN, we need some int'l cooperation to deal with matters like trade, terrorism and poverty.

Just as the States need an overarching authority in the federal gov't (although I support mostly local answers as a rule), there is a need for international cooperation at times.

That corruption exists is not evidence that a body should be dissolved. Otherwise, we'd have to abandon our federal and local gov'ts, too.

I'm not tied to the UN itself, mind you. If we could create another international body to do some of the same things and one that did a better job, that would be okay, too. But the UN does have programs that raise awareness, that sends assistance, that makes positive attempts at positive change. We need some such organization.

Advocating one of only wealthy nations that are friendly to the US would have the taint of a patriarchal, "We know best" sort of solution and would be destined to have problems, too. Unfortunately, human institutions will bring with them the faults of its human participants.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't have human institutions, though.

Robert M. said...

I know all about the North thing, and since I never defended him, I assume you're referring to John's reference. Though, since you brought it up, what North did hardly had the same detrimental effects as the U.N. He funded anti-communism fighters, which, though we shouldn't have gotten involved, wasn't actually all that despicable. The U.N., whose members who give food to starving children only after they've raped them, well, I'll let you be the judge of relative morality.

In any case, you use the analogy that if we dissolved all corrupt agencies, we'd also have to dissolve the federal and state governments. Well, I'll just warn you that you're debating a borderline anarchist, so that doesn't sound so bad to me.

On a practical level, however, there's a difference between a level of corruption as seen in the American government, which at least at this juncture, still functions in some regards, and the U.N., where every program becomes a scandal and leads to high immorality. To paraphrase Thoreau, when the corruption is the sole effect of the system, and not just a byproduct, it's time to get rid of it.

I debate the need for such a system as the U.N. anyway. As I recall, the U.N. is a fairly recent development, and world conflict and hunger haven't exactly dropped since its inception. Quite the opposite in fact. Governments tend to be inefficient and ineffective at best, and tyrannical and abusive at worst. The U.N. is comprised of governments. This, I think, is a bad idea. I'm all for humanitarianism, but not in a form wherein the citizens of several countries are forced to pay and support world government and massive corruption.

Dan Trabue said...

Though, since you brought it up, what North did hardly had the same detrimental effects as the U.N. He funded anti-communism fighters, which, though we shouldn't have gotten involved, wasn't actually all that despicable.

!

Wow.

He funded terrorists who attacked and killed civilians in villages across Nicaragua in an effort to overthrow a democratically-elected gov't (so tell me my friends and acquaintances who live or lived in Nicaragua - in addition to media reports and human rights groups) and as a result, 30,000 Nicaraguans were killed. Hardly what I would define as not despicable.

Further, he funded those terrorists by selling WMDs to Iran!

Dan Trabue said...

To your UN point: I am, of course, opposed to corruption. I am not convinced that the UN is hopelessly corrupt. Any further than I am convinced that the US gov't is hopelessly corrupt.

They both have their good days and their bad days, from where I sit.

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

===========================================

Six of The Eight Comments to Dan Trabue...now that's Arrogance Personified! Take a break...relax, Dan.

>>

Dr John: Take a cursory look "2010, Not A Good Year". Comment only if you are annoyed, or Severely Irritated!

Regards, reb

============================================
www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

Dan Trabue said...

And that would be an ad hominem attack personified, correct?

But I shall gladly take a break, nonetheless.

Thanks.

Robert M. said...

I'm aware of the actions of the Contras. However, North just supplied the money. His intentions, while foolish and misguided, were good. I don't like him, and I'm not defending him. But, in this case, the actions you're referring to were not condoned by North, nor were they perpetrated by him.

On the other hand actual violence and assaults has been perpetrated by U.N. members, and corruption leads to the highest levels, including the directors. I seem to remember Kofi Annan having direct involvement with the oil for food scandal. North, though foolish, was not malignant, or so I believe from reading about the affair. Annan, and other high U.N. officials, on the other hand, knew what they were doing, and they were doing it for money, not because they think it was right (as per North).

Don't confuse me with someone who likes North, or even defends him. I'm just pointing out what I feel to be a bad analogy on your part. My protestations are literary so to speak, not political.

As for good days and bad, you may find that even the good days at the U.N. are actually quite dreary. Humanitarian aid by the U.N. is often accompanied, as I've said, by abuse. The U.S. government, while similar in terms of corruption, usually doesn't kill/rape/steal from people while helping them. (Unless you count taxes, of course.)

Again, when the bad things outweigh the benefit, it's time to stop it.

You also aren't taking into account the taxation factor. You may wish to support the U.N. That's up to you. I don't think it's right, however, to take my tax money to support the U.N. when I don't believe in how they're running things. That, you have to admit, is unfair.

Robert M. said...

Oh, and I wouldn't take the Snake Hunters guy too seriously. I don't think anyone else finds you arrogant.

Dan Trabue said...

More unfair than taking MY tax dollars to support a super-sized military machine?

We all have parts of our tax dollars being spent in ways with which we don't agree. It may or may not be unfair, but that's the way a Republic such as ours works.

You'd have to show me some real, objective evidence that the bad things about the UN outweigh the good things.

Dan Trabue said...

And thanks, Robert.

I don't take him too seriously.

John Washburn said...

War crimes? Well, since you mentioned the "other" junior Senator from Illinois let's talk about war crimes. To me, if we discuss war crimes in American history the first name to come to mind is Lincoln, so he is obviously not high on my list of those admired. You have an issue with Ollie North, that is understandable, but what I don't get is how you can justify taking issue with him for war crimes while still admiring Lincoln. What North did hardly amounts to what Abe did.

Don't believe me? Just read up on the history of my home town of Jackson, Mississippi. It's nickname is chimneyville because that's all the Union army left behind on their march to Vicksburg. These weren't military targets. These were people's homes. And this is nothing compared to what happened to the people of Georgia. Things like this are atrocious, moreso when you consider that these were Abe's own countrymen. So, bringing up Lincoln as if he's this big time hero isn't going to play well with me. War crimes? There aren't many in US history who measure up to Lincoln, Grant and Sherman in that department.

As for the UN discussion, I am afraid you missed the context, Dan. You seem to be okay with spending $100 billion on the third world, and there are circumstances where I would agree with you.

If Pres. Trabue proposed a plan for $100 billion for third world poverty and made a case as to how it benefits America, I would listen. If you could do it without raising taxes or imposing new taxes, then I would lean your way. And if you could make a STRONG case as to why it's better to spend this money in other countries rather than within our own borders, then you just might get my support.

But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about giving the UN $100 billion so THEY can spend it to fight third world poverty. There's a BIG difference. This basically means that most of the money will be squandered or end up in some diplomat's bank account.

I'm not against helping those in need, but I DO have a problem with waste and the UN is good at that. Most recently, they lost $10 million in Burma because they botched the currency exchange. Talk about incompetence. And they expect us to give them 0.7% of our GNP? No thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

If we want to talk waste, there is plenty of that to go around in the US, including in the military. So, it's not like that is unique to the UN.

And I never said I was a fan of Lincoln. I merely recognize that he is generally acknowledged by many historians to have been one of our great presidents. I think he had some good points and some horrifying ones, as you have mentioned. But I don't think his so-called lack of experience was necessarily the cause for his mistakes.

THAT was my point. That Obama's experience or supposed lack thereof is not a sole determinant of his qualifications to be president. Some presidents have had as little or less experience as he has and have done okay. Other presidents have brought a good deal of experience and been horrible.

Robert M. said...

Ok John, I'm not a big fan of Lincoln either, considering all his civil rights violations and his racism, but I think some facts are in order regarding the War of the Rebellion. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

The whole southern sympathy thing is misguided. First of all, Sherman, since you mentioned him, should be admired by the south, because, if you stop and think about it, he didn't kill that many people. When it comes to war, burning someone's house is pretty mundane compared with killing their husband or father. The South always likes to vilify those who burned their cities, but doesn't seem to realize how many lives were saved by doing so.

Grant is a little more controversial. But I wouldn't think the south would hate him for burning buildings. I would have thought it would be for killing so many southerners!

Furthermore, unlike southern leaders like Forrest or Anderson, the North's didn't generally start organizations like the KKK, nor did they actively enjoy killing prisoners.

The southern perspective lacks humanity. And to cut off the argument that the burnings starved people, I would point out that the CSA was starving pretty early on, due to their own misguided and inept war efforts.

Two last notes.

One, since you mentioned your hometown, I have to mention my hometown as well (well, my hometown in less than a month anyway). Gettysburg was the direct result of the south invading the north. And it's not like the invasion didn't cause some immense problems there. The conditions after the battle were unbearable for the citizens.

Two, if the Confederate citizens were Abe's "own countrymen" maybe they shouldn't have tried so hard not to be. I can't see why Lincoln should have been held to a standard of not attacking his countrymen when the South had no qualms about it when it voted to secede, and Confederate soldiers attacked northern civilians at Bull Run. Many rich southerners didn't have any qualms about enslaving their countrymen either.


In terms of the UN, Dan, you're correct in saying that waste isn't unique to the UN. But that isn't a reason to keep the UN.

You asked for objective sources, so this is what I threw together.

Source
Source
Source

There's more, of course. I don't think you see that kind of think in the US government on so wide a scale. The UN has power to commit such acts everywhere. There's a difference, and it is a huge problem.

I want to cut waste and government here too, of course, but the UN is much worse.

Anonymous said...

"Ollie North, a man I trust and admire."

De gustibus non est disputandum.

Ollie North, who admitted he lied to Congress while under oath--how trustworthy.

Ollie North who destroyed evidence of Iran-Contra and who oversaw drug running into the U.S.--how admirable.

Ollie North who was convicted of three felony counts, only to have the conviction overturned on what most lay persons (such as yourself, John) would consider a technicality and whose appeal was helped by one of John's favorite organizations, the A.C.L.U.--how trustworthy and admirable.

Was it in "Jerry McGuire" that the girls says "You had me with hello?"

"Well John, you had me with "Ollie North, a man I trust and admire."

Forgive me if I could not read the rest of the post. I don't normally drink b/f 10:00 in the morning but today, on account of those eight words, I will make an exception.

O whiskey is the life of a man'
O whiskey Johnny.
I drink whiskey when I can,
Whiskey for my Johnny.

Regards.

The Loop Garoo Kid

Anonymous said...

Okay. B/f I hit the liquor cabinet I read the comments.

robert m. If I interpreted one of your comments correctly, you are about to begin your freshman year at Gettysburg College.

My sincerest congratulations. It is a good school and I think you will do well. If you have not toured the battlefield, I recommend it. Read "Killer Angels" by Michael Schaara first.

Probably you have already done both.

For those who have not read "Killer Angels," I recommend it. The novel is a moving account of the battle of Gettysburg, centering around robert m.'s fellow Mainiac, Joshua Chamberlain, who later became president of Bowdoin College from whence my nephew graduated in May. (It was good to be in Maine again robert, even though I did not get up country.)

Again, congrats. Next spring be sure to watch the Gettysburg lacrosse team. They are very good every year.

Regards.

TLGK

Robert M. said...

You are correct, and thank you very much. Congrats to your nephew by the way. Bowdoin's nice. I have a friend going there in the fall, and it was my third choice school (behind Gettysburg and another place in Maryland). Brunswick is a great town, and the college is a good one.

Naturally I have toured the battlefield (many times), and I've read the book too. I find it a bit inaccurate for my taste, and a little too assuming of the characters involved, including Chamberlain of course.

Anyway, I wasn't aware of the skill of the Gettysburg lacrosse team. I tend to run track in the spring, so I don't know much about lacrosse, but I'll keep an eye on it while I'm down there.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for the sources, Robert. I had heard of those incidents and they are horrifying.

As is the report in the news this week that said 4/10 US female soldiers reported sexual abuse by their "comrades."

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A congresswoman said Thursday that her "jaw dropped" when military doctors told her that four in 10 women at a veterans hospital reported being sexually assaulted while in the military.

A government report indicates that the numbers could be even higher.


Does this indicate that we should do away with our military or merely that we need to do a better job of stopping such a culture of corruption?

I vote for the latter.

Robert M. said...

Dan, the difference here is that those incidents are not directly condoned by the military. The U.N. on the other hand doesn't even try to reform itself. The military, as corrupt as it is, still does its job once in a while. The U.N. is a machine. It does more harm than good. Not so with the military, at least not at this juncture. The comparison is inaccurate.

John Washburn said...

Robert, am I to assume that you are defending Sherman's actions? Just wondering. And do you truly feel that Sherman should be admired by southerners, or were you being factitious?

And don't worry, Grant is equally disliked by those in the south.

As for the KKK, of course I won't defend that group, but I will correct the record. Forrest's group of former CSA cavalry was formed as a guerrila operation to continue the "cause". Of course, it evolved into the instrument of hate that we all know, but I could argue that this wouldn't have happened had Johnson not been quite so harsh during Reconstruction.

Gettysburg WAS the result of a southern invasion, but as you know this was Lee's act of desperation. It was his only chance to end the war that he was quickly growing tired of, and he hardly left behind the type of charred earth that Sherman is known for. In fact, Lee forbade his officers from such behavior and only allowed them to take needed provisions to sustain the army. I sympathize with the people of Gettysburg for what they had to endure, indeed I sympathize with ALL of those involved in those horrific 3 days, but to be fair Lee never deliberately targeted civilians as Sherman did. You're reaching if you are trying to draw some moral equivalent.

As for Bull Run, I think it's a bit of a stretch to suggest the CSA targeted civilians. After all, the northern civilians attended that battle as if it were some weekend sporting event. Blaming the south for their injuries is akin to blaming the batter who hits a foul ball into the stands and injures an innocent bystander.

Yes, the south was starving, but this was due to the northern blockade, another horrible action by Lincoln. Not to mention Grant's favorite tool...the siege. I'm sure you've read about what the people (again, civilians) of Vicksburg had to endure simply because he was unable to take the city by force. And you called the south's efforts inept?

In reference to Sumter, I'm sure you know the history there, with the Morrill Tariff and all. I'm sure you know how well the Union garrison was treated. They were even allowed to go to Charleston for food and such, hardly the kind of treatment Grant gave Vicksburg. The only thing the Union troops weren't allowed to have were more weapons. Perhaps if Sumter had been sieged the cannons would have never been fired.

And yes, the south will always be held accountable for their practice of slavery. Again, I don't defend it. I'm with Longstreet: "We should have freed the slaves, then fired on Sumter". But I don't think the people of the north can point a finger too much without having to explain the practice of indentured servitude, or allowing the border states to continue practicing slavery even after the Emancipation Proclamation. You see why I have a problem with the obvious hypocrisy. Not sure how that works.

Despite your arguments, you can't get away from the fact that Lincoln, Grant and Sherman were guilty of war crimes. Had the outcome been different, they may have had to answer for them.

I know this is off topic, but I do enjoy these discussions. Robert, you and I certainly have two different perspectives on that most horrible of wars. And I guess that's what makes the debate interesting. I truly wish you all the best at Gettysburg. I've never visited but it is certainly on my list of things to do.

Loop, The Killer Angels is by far my favorite all-time novel. True, there is a bit of artistic latitude, but Shaara did a phenomenal job. And congrats to your nephew for his recent graduation.

Anonymous said...

John,

I think that we can all agree that war is terrible. Certainly the Union blockade was responsible for privations in the South but if at war, the object is to win and alllowing unfettered access to southern ports would have detered rather than advanced the cause of victory.

I believe as the war dragged on, both sides became less civilized as it were for lack of a better term. Meanwhile, w/ respect to tx of prisoners, let me remind you of Andersonville.

Regards,

TLGK

Robert M. said...

I enjoy these discussions as well John, and I'm glad someone else has an interest in the subject. I'm unfortunately busy at the moment, but I'll get back to this thread at a later point. I'm quite looking forward to it.

Robert M. said...

In response John, yes, I am defending Sherman's actions, primarily because they ended the war without causing large death tolls. I think Sherman had an amazing plan, and it worked well. Morally speaking, burning buildings is much preferable to killing people. I don't expect southerners to like him, but I would think they wouldn't regard him as being worse than other Union generals, as, again he killed less people.

In terms of reconstruction, Johnson was an ass, and was largely responsible for some of what happened in the south. (Thank Booth for that one.) Nevertheless, the KKK was only an extension of what the south (and the north, to be fair) already believed: that blacks were inferior. The difference is, the south was violent about it, first through slavery, then through anti-black violence. The KKK was in no way Johnson's fault.

In terms of Lee's rationale for Gettysburg, I doubt it had to do with the fact that he was tired of the war, though I'm sure he was. It was politically motivated; he wanted Lincoln to lose the following year's election, or get the Democrats in Congress to push harder for an end to the war.

Anyway, I wasn't drawing a moral equivalent so much as I was trying to point out that the north was not always the aggressor, and the effects of the war weren't contained to the south only.

Regarding Bull Run, I'm not talking about accidental harm to civilians, especially not the idiots who attended the battle like it was a picnic. I'm talking about deliberate attacks on fleeing citizens. One account of a Confederate soldier has him describing how he fired a carbine into a carriage he knew to have civilians in it. That's not exactly the most honorable thing in the world.

As for the blockade, Loop is right here. Was Lincoln supposed to let the South get supplies when they were using those supplies to wage war? Of course not. Plus, I think we both know how ineffective the blockade was, especially pre-1864. (On a side note, so you won't think I'm a total Yankee, one of my ancestors was a blockade runner, from Texas I believe. Of course, on the other side of the scale, another ancestor died at Andersonville. You know, speaking of war crimes.)

As for siege, it was a war. It's a tactic. And I would say the only tactic, given the defensive structure of Vicksburg. Furthermore, it wasn't like Grant wasn't going to starve them after the surrender. In fact, Grant was known to treat captured prisoners quite well.

I wouldn't exactly call Grant's failure to take Vicksburg by force inept by the way. Reversing roles, do you really believe even Lee or Jackson could have? Vicksburg was virtually impossible to take by force, for anyone.

Ineptitude was a strong northern characteristic, of course. One could discuss McClellan, Burnside, or Sickles in that regard. But Grant was by no means inept because he couldn't take a fortified town with only one real attack route.

Regarding Sumter, it wasn't bad in terms of treatment of northern soldiers, but the point of mentioning it is to point out who fired the first shots of the Civil War. It wasn't Lincoln, and it wasn't the north. The south brought a lot of things on itself by secession. It seems strange to start a war and then complain when the other party fights back.

Regarding slavery, I think we both know that indentured servitude would be a dream by comparison. It sucked, but you did get land and freedom, unlike the slave who spent his entire life in servitude.

Anyway, the Emancipation Proclamation was a joke, I'll admit that. But, again, it doesn't erase the fact that the south held slaves and the north didn't. Anyone can be disgusted by the racism and hatred of blacks in the north, but the south was so much worse, in so many ways. There's really no comparison. And, like it or not, tariffs and big government are excuses. There was more talk of secession in the south in relation to Abolitionism and "Black Republicanism" than in relation to government controls. Even when the south talked of the government squashing their "rights," the right involved was the "right" to hold other humans in servitude.

Finally, of course Grant, Sherman, and Lincoln were guilty of war crimes. And I detest Lincoln. Grant and Sherman's destruction of property and targeting of civilians however, ultimately killed less people. As crimes go, burning cities is nothing compared to race-based executions and Andersonville. Furthermore, which is better? The "war crime" of burning a city with minimal casualties, or the "honorable" practice of shooting a bunch of people in a field?

Anyway, if you've never seen Gettysburg it is highly recommended. I don't mean to brag, but I've seen southern battlefields, and you haven't seen anything. Gettysburg is bigger, better preserved, and more interactive. If you ever decide to go, let me know. I'll give you the rundown of places to go. (One major tip: the new Visitors' Center sucks. Not that you shouldn't go there, but someone with your perspective will probably dislike it very much.)

I'll wrap up by saying that my overall view of the war is not one that favors either side. On the northern side we have idiot generals, idiot politicians who liked to abuse their power, and hypocrisy. On the southern side we have idiot politicians, a truly bad cause, and hypocrisy and inconsistency on a mass scale. Like all wars, everybody's wrong.

Robert M. said...

Oh, and regarding:

I truly wish you all the best at Gettysburg.

Thank you very much. I'm certainly looking forward to it.