Skip to comments.Cruz and Lee, Fabius and Doolittle
Posted on 10/18/2013 9:11:23 AM PDT by LS
One of the most common criticisms and complaints about the shutdown that followed Senator Ted Cruz's filibuster---especially from the RINO Right---was that there was no broader strategy to win. Cruz and his associate, Senator Mike Lee, had "blundered" into the shutdown and didn't have a way out. Thus, it was claimed, the Republicans "lost" because they, well, didn't "win."
This view needs a serious history readjustment lesson. In many ways, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are the 2013 equivalent of Fabius Maximus and Jimmy Doolittle. Neither of those commanders "won" anything, yet each was responsible in large part for their societies' winning a war.
Fabius, from whom we get the term "Fabian (creeping) Socialism," was a Roman general in the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.). Aware from the get-go that the Roman forces were insufficient to deal with the army of Hannibal Barca, who had invaded Italy, Fabius refused to give direct battle but engaged in a brilliant strategy of scorched earth, delay, harassment, and overall distraction. He burned bridges, blocked roads, destroyed crops---anything and everything to slow Hannibal's potential march to the city of Rome and the defeat of the Republic.
Many Romans---and all of Fabius's political enemies---thought this a futile strategy, a waste of time, a diversion from the real, sensible strategy (which none seemed really to have).
But after the battle of Cannae (216), where the Roman legions under Varro were soundly thrashed, suddenly Fabius's approach took on new popularity. He sufficiently delayed and disrupted Hannibal again, until Rome's rebuilt legions could defeat him at Zama six years later.
Fabius HAD NO strategy, except to slow, distract, irritate, and disrupt Hannibal until he made a fateful mistake, which he did.
Now let's leap ahead to the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April 1942. Accurately celebrated by (most) Americans as a great "victory," it really was nothing of the sort in the traditional sense. Jimmy Doolittle's force of was far too small to even exact a toll on ONE target, let alone the ten targets they hit. Moreover, what was the "strategy?" What was the way the Raid was going to result in a "victory?" No one knew, and most couldn't even come up with a guess. The intention wasn't to "win" but to demonstrate to the Japanese that in fact the U.S. was (to quote Monte Python) "not quite dead yet" and that Japan was about to find out how big a mistake she had made.
Of course there was a war plan, and a strategy, but in the short run the Doolittle Raid was never even a part of that strategy---and yet it completely swung the war in America's favor, for the Imperial Japanese Navy was convinced that the Raiders came from Midway, or somehow used Midway for support. (Who knows, perhaps a few even believed Roosevelt when he said they came from "Shangri-La.") It was the obsession of Midway that in June 1942 led to the utter destruction of the flower of Japan's carrier forces. NONE OF THIS WAS PLANNED AS PART OF THE DOOLITTLE RAID. Hannibal's reaction to Fabius and his abrupt departure for Carthage to fight Scipio was not even remotely in Rome's plans when Fabius was staging his delay and distract assault.
There are numerous examples in history where a well-timed (and often unfortunate or even "suicidal") stand results in a subsequent victory: the Alamo and Thermopylae are two that come to mind. Certainly neither the Texans nor the Spartans wanted to die when they took up their positions. The defenders of the Alamo thought help was on the way, the Spartans and their allies thought that they could hold the pass forever, until they were betrayed.
Yet in those defeats crucial TIME was purchased. The slowing of Santa Anna's army (not to mention the destruction of more than 1/10 of his entire force at San Antonio) and the delays forced on the Persians (along with massive casualties) both produced major, even historically significant, victories in the long run.
Great moments of courage usually do NOT come with a blueprint on "what comes next." They are seized upon with faith, the faith that others will join the cause and do the right thing.
Had the perpetually lame John McCain and Mitch McConnell rallied ALL the Republicans in the Senate to support Cruz, would it have just been another 53-45 vote? Or would FOUR vulnerable Democrats have sensed that just perhaps they needed to "compromise" to keep their jobs?
Certainly we won't know now. What would have happened if the US, after Doolittle's raid, said, "Gee, that didn't accomplish anything. It was suicidal"? Or if Sam Houston, after that Alamo said, "Those guys all lost. We need to compromise with Santa Anna?"
History turns not just on the first action, but on the reaction, and the reaction after that. Donald Rumsfeld used to say "The enemy always gets a vote." That shouldn't surprise anyone. What you need to do is to stand firm after that "vote" is cast. The battle has only begun.
Great perspective LS, thanks for sharing.
conservatives like Cruz are fighting a long battle. a delaying action at the national level. this was just one skirmish in a very long (probably decades) war.
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Cruz and Lee did not know the perfidy of their own party.
They were sold out by Mitch McConnell for 2 Billion dollars that went to Ky.
They were sold out by House members like King who just likes to lick Obama’s butt like it was an Ice Cream cone.
"I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason any man ever fights for them; because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor.'... And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any other. Yes, you even die for them."
Very good article! Thanks for posting!
While this is an interesting read, Cruz expressed his strategy over and over and over again. There was a strategy. The House would pass bills to fund specific parts of the government which they did. The senate was to fight to get these bills passed, they didn’t. Mitch McConnell fought just as hard as any democrat to short circuit the STRATEGY.
So, saying there was no strategy isn’t accurate. We may not have gotten the defunding that we started asking for, but we could have gotten a delay to the individual mandate. You always bid high in any negotiation, unless you are RINOs. RINOs bid low and pat themselves on the back for capitulating to every liberal whim.
it is, the most insightful one posted today, imo, but thank LS. he posted it.
Obama's victory was Pyrrhic. He lost 3 weeks of valuable legislative time that could have been used to further his agenda. All he got was a meaningless victory lap when the GOPe capitulated.
Does anyone in the room think there will be a budget deal by December 15? I thought not.
Nevertheless, as I said early, the strategy would have worked if the entire GOP senate had been united.
General Washington lost many battles and sounded retreat many times before audacity and courage turned the tide. The Leftists are nervous. We should expect them to do what they always do - overreach.
Great minds....I was making the Doolittle argument on a talk show in NC earlier this week with some establishment hack who was trying to criticize Cruz and Lee. He claims to be a history buff, so I crushed him with the Doolittle raid on Tokyo. He didn’t admit it, but the host made it plain.
I hope we can "buy" enough time to turn the tide, as Fabius and Doolittle did.
I would LOVE to see/hear that clip! I bet you did destroy him.
Oh I did....a fact that was lost on him sadly. I’m telling you, that conventional wisdom kool aid is some strong brew for these estab hacks.
....shoulda heard some of the conference calls we had inside Winning Our Future’s Super PAC....where I was the only non estab consultant. Lotta wordy dirds.......if you know what I mean.. especially over the Bain Capital ad.
These estab types are incredibly ignorant yet intransigent....
That’s what I call a great post! Thanks for sharing it with us. I appreciate your perspeective and agree with your conclusions. Well done!
Lost in these discussions is the fact that gridlock was what the American people voted for in 2012! Obama did not get the blank check that he got in 2008, because a sufficient number of American citizens do not believe in his agenda.
Right ON! We need to think in terms of bold moves—Think Outside the Box! A few ideas that rattled in my anger filled brain. We must not give in to the pain of defeat.
1. Start the Liberty Party Now-—BUT-—Get the Democrats to fund it! Get Soros to pay thinking it will split the vote like Ross Perot—Get some colorful people to back it like stars and Radio people! BUT it would be a stalking horse—a Trojan Horse! Maybe run a colorful fellow (Trump? Kelsy Graman?) to run for President—Then just before the election they drop out and endorse the GOP!
2. Bolt the GOP and Join the Democrats! Start a new group within the Democrats called the Jacksonian Democrats and support Conservative-Traditionalist Blue Dog People! Work from within to undermine the liberals with their own people—many of them do not like what is happening to their party!
3. Tea Party should link with the Conservative Black Churches—they hate what’s happening to their young people. They are natural allies! First goal—knock out Rap and Gangsta Music and Drugs that are a genocide to Black Youth.
4. We need a conservative Newspaper even if its on the net. We can’t depend on Fox and Beck to haul the water for us. BUT—cover the news with our point of view in a funny and “snarky” way—so cutting that young people and even the most die hard Liberals will read it! Liberty News with a picture of Ben Franklin and the bell on the Masthead—Motto: “Let Liberty ring thoughout the Land”. Fight from within in new ways.
Wow! Great read; thanks!
Yes, Washington retreated a number of times but attacked at Trenton, despite having a smaller force than in most of his previous battles. 1) Remind the enemy you’re still in the fight; 2) make selective stands if they buy time and bloody the enemy.
I used the “Doolittle” analogy on another forum;
Little to gain,
Much to lose,
No strategic victory
Great tactical victory
one idea for a new conservative party. it should allow duel party membership for those who want to keep one foot in the rep party.
Yeah, and no one can measure the morale effects of such “futile” exercises. People talk about Little Big Horn, but forget that a) 2/3 of Custer’s force survived and b) the REST of the army showed up the next day and the Indians ran til they surrendered.
Thanks. Check out some of my books: “A Patriot’s History of the United States” (with Mike Allen) and “A Patriot’s History of the Modern World,” in 2 vols, with Dave Dougherty. Volume 1 came out last October, (1898-1945) and vol. 2 is out in December (1945-2012).
Not a bad Idea—One can be Both a member of the Liberty Party and the Republican —why not? the Democrats can be members of the Communist Party?
Victor David Hanson’s got nothing on you! Well done!!
Lets start that conversation by acknowledging we arent going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants... bringing these workers out of the shadows and into being taxpaying members of society. Imagine 12 million people who are already here coming out of the shadows to become new taxpayers.12 million more people assimilating into society. 12 million more people being productive contributors. [but hes not in favor of amnesty, snicker, definition of is is]
...by softening its edge on some volatile social issues and altering its image as the party always seemingly "eager to go to war... We do need to expand the party and grow the party and that does mean that we don't always all agree on every issue" ... the party needs to become more welcoming to individuals who disagree with basic Republican doctrine on emotional social issues such as gay marriage... "We're going to have to be a little hands off on some of these issues ... and get people into the party," Paul said.
Makes the kind of sense we can build upon.