Friday, May 3, 2013

The Wall Street Journal Opinion Page Sinks to a New Low – Andrew Roberts Presents the So-Called Rationale for Pre-Emptive War in the Middle East

Surely The WSJ Cannot Get Anymore Reprehensible Than This

This Forum reads the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal so other people do not have to.  Mass consumption of the articles and editorials that appear there could be dangerous to the national health.  And just when everyone thought they could not get any worse, along comes some historian, Andrew Roberts, to make the case for Israel to make a pre-emptive war against Iran.

The basis for Mr. Roberts position how throughout history nations have correctly and successfully waged pre-emptive war.  Yes he goes back aways, for example the rationale for an Israeli attack on Iran is found in the story of David and Goliath (who knew?)

The Case for Pre-Emptive War, From Goliath to the Dardanelles

. . . In the Middle Eastern context, Goliath ought to have charged down David long before he was able to employ his slingshot and river pebbles to such devastating effect. The Egyptians should have attacked the Hittites as soon as the Egyptians suspected they were developing the chariot as a weapon of war. Had the Mayans and Incas assaulted the conquistadores as soon as they stepped ashore—and thus before the Spaniards could deploy their muskets, horses, metal armor, hand-held firearms and smallpox to crush them—they might not have seen their civilizations wiped out.

and he does cite some more recent examples.  But we wonder why he does not cite the most notable modern example of pre-emptive war, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Oh, maybe that didn’t turn out so well for Japan.  And the U. S. pre-emptive attack on Iraq, how’s that working out?  Ah yes, it is pretty easy to make a case for a position if you leave out all of the examples and situations that contradict your position.  

See Mr. Roberts is urging another country, Israel,  not the U. S. to go to war.  This also ignores the several failures of Israeli attacks in the Middle East, like its invastion of Lebannon. Does anyone really believe that Israel can conquer its way to peace in that region?

But not to worry.  There is no danger here to Mr. Roberts or his family.  So he has no problem risking a conflagration for other folks.  But look Mr. Roberts, thanks to the U. S. policy of making military assault weapons available to everyone, you can grab one and go merrily off to the Middle East and lead the charge.  Oh, you think you might be killed.  Yeah, you might.  Rhetoric like yours can get hunreds of thousands of people killed.  In fact it did during the George W. Bush administration.  Check it out, you are a historian and it is in all the new history books.


  1. "This Forum reads the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal so other people do not have to."

    Bless you.

    I had not heard of Mr. Roberts before. His Wikipedia entry reveals that he is the worst kind of historian: one who knows what has happened in the past, but utterly fails to learn from it.

    From Wikipedia:

    During the build up to the Iraq War Roberts supported the proposed invasion, arguing that anything less would be tantamount to appeasement. He strongly supported Tony Blair's foreign policy, saying that Blair displayed "astonishing leadership" and compared him to Winston Churchill in the 1930s. In 2003, he wrote "for Churchill, apotheosis came in 1940; for Tony Blair, it will come when Iraq is successfully invaded and hundreds of weapons of mass destruction are unearthed from where they have been hidden by Saddam's henchmen", and commented on the human cost of the Iraq War, saying that Britain has "lost fewer soldiers than on a normal weekend on the Western Front".

    He has defended the use of waterboarding by the C.I.A., writing that "sometimes the defense of liberty requires making some pretty unpalatable decisions". He has said that the Iraq War is being fought by the English-speaking peoples as "an existential war for the survival of their way of life" and that "this struggle against Islamofascism is the fourth world war" [the Cold War being the third world war] in which "the English-speaking peoples find themselves in the forefront of protecting civilization", just as they were against the Nazis. He believes that history will judge George W. Bush a success.


    If Roberts is going back to ancient times for examples of pre-emptive war in the Middle East, he should consider the story of Croesus, king of Lydia. Croesus asked the Delphic Oracle what would happen if Lydia waged a war against Persia. The Oracle responded "You will destroy a great empire." Emboldened, Croesus sent his armies against Persia. His forces were crushed and Lydia was absorbed into Persia. He had destroyed a great empire - his own.

    What was then Persia is now Iran.

  2. Wow, great post. I had not researched Mr. Roberts but nothing you found out is surprising.