Jewish World Review Oct. 16, 2001 / 29 Tishrei, 5762
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- As if by an occult hand, the following correspondence was delivered to the White House mailroom yesterday:
My dear President,
Greetings, and if I may be so bold as to offer counsel at this critical hour, allow me to admonish you always to seek a more perfect Union.
It is to the state of the American Union that you should look first and last, avoiding permanent alliances abroad. Without a united country, you cannot succeed. With it,
Your obdt. servant,
Dear Mr. President,
I beg to bring to your attention a legislative enactment I found most useful in conducting an undeclared naval war against those who threatened our security: the Logan Act, which prevents private adventurers from negotiating with the enemy in the name of the Republic. While proclaiming that their goal is peace, they do the enemy's work and prolong war. Do not tolerate these interlopers. You will find that your duly commissioned emissaries will do quite enough damage.
Sincerely, for an Adams is never anything but,
Having had to dispatch a flotilla to put down pirates of a different time, I can only sympathize with the challenge now facing you. Trusting that the country still produces naval lieutenants like Stephen Decatur, and men like him in every branch of the Republic's service, civil and military, I feel confident that the outcome of this matter will be no different from my own dispute with the pasha of Tripoli.
It has been my experience that nothing improves the disposition of a scoundrel like hanging him. That was the course I adopted, much to the consternation of our diplomats, in regard to Messrs. Arbuthnot and Ambrister, two foreign subjects found selling firearms to the Seminoles during my East Florida campaign.
Have done with it, Sir, and questions legal, philosophical, and generally abstruse may be left for the lawyers to sort out later. First do justice.
Without further ado,
As your case is new, so you must think anew and act anew. The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and you must rise with the occasion.
Do not concern yourself overmuch with formal declarations, habeas corpus, diplomatic niceties or pernicious abstractions, but press forward and achieve victory.
Preserve the nation in unity, for a house divided against itself cannot stand. With patience and determination, press on. And when you are urged to wage war not only against the present villains but an array of similar types, remember: One war at a time.
Your fellow Republican,
Esteemed Mr. President:
Your Excellency, I have the honor to advise you that above all you must maintain your pride and high position. Let not the slightest criticism pass without taking offense, and take care to do nothing without the unanimous consent of all. Pay the greatest attention to every constitutional scruple. That is how I managed to do so well.
Allow me to bid you an affectionate adieu even though your flag was not mine in the late unpleasantness,
Sincerely, yours, etc.
War is Hell. Therefore bring it to the enemy without extenuation. Attempts to moderate it will only prolong it. Forget politics for the duration -- and beyond. If re-nominated, do not run. If re-elected, do not serve.
William Tecumseh Sherman, U.S.A.
My good man,
Osama bin Laden alive or the Taliban dead.
Now get on with it, and bully for you.
Dear Mr. President:
Your grand conception of a worldwide union against terrorism can only excite my admiration -- and memory. For I, too, dreamed of a great league of nations that would rid the world of barbarism.
I, too, would manage to unite the world, but only briefly, and in the end could not keep even my own country unified behind my vision. That was the essence of my tragedy, and the world's.
Do not be distracted. I once sent a force of thousands into the wastelands of Mexico in search of a murderous bandit named Villa who had violated our territory, and all the while a greater threat was taking shape elsewhere.
With the greatest sympathy and indeed empathy,
September 11, 2001 -- a date which will live in infamy. Always remember the character of the onslaught against us, and the American people in their righteous wrath will win through to the inevitable triumph, so help us G-d. Words must be mobilized as well as troops. Good luck, and keep smiling. FDR
A president is either on top of events or events are on top of him.
Sincerely, since I know no other way to be,
In war there is no substitute for victory.
No one starts a war, or rather no one in his senses should do so, without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to achieve it.
Correctly, Count Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz
Every war will astonish you.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dear Mr. President:
All I can tell you is never listen to those Best and Brightest. They'll get you in all kinds of trouble. Ditto, the masterminds who think you can fight a war by protracted conflict, graduated response, slow escalation, and all the other advocates of long, drawn-out defeat.
Take a lesson from my example. See if you can find somebody, anybody with some common sense. Of course I realize doing that in Washington may be harder than winning a war overseas.
Lyndon B. Johnson
With such a wealth of advice from the past, what could an inky wretch marooned in the uncertain present add? Little if anything. Mr. Lincoln's counsel is, as always, the sagest, and Jefferson Davis' the best to avoid.
Teddy Roosevelt may have had the right idea. But there is much to be said for combining General Jackson's and General Sherman's advice, and making this war half public hanging and wholly Hell for those who started it by an act of mass murder.
For the record, Old Hickory's politics would not be mine, let alone his Indian policy. Nor would I accept General Sherman's concept of chivalry, or rather his lack of any such concept.
But how I wish their services were available now. There comes a time when such men are
invaluable. That time is