Friday, March 03, 2006

"Watch On The Rhine" review


I have to say it again.


I just finished Watch On The Rhine by John Ringo and Tom Kratman, and I gotta say, it was an amazingly cool book. The concept of Germany having to revive the SS to fight off an alien invasion, combined with all the moral quandries involved, was pretty gripping. As usual, of late, John Ringo's (and I presume, Tom Kratman's) politics came through pretty strongly. Making the European Greens one of the human villains was maybe a bit over the top, but at least the one true, unrepentant Nazi gets his just desserts.

And lets be honest, pick a direction, throw a rock, and you'll hit a political villain, in either Europe or here in the good ol' USA. All in all, I completely enjoyed this book, and the politics, where distasteful, were at least "overlookable".

Until the last page of the Afterword. In just one page, the authors turned a good political/military sf thriller into a huge pile of political commentary dreck. Allow me to quote:

Right now, Western Civilization, however much many of its member may refuse to admit it, is involved in a world war. can you watch the news and not know this?

No, it has seen no entire cities destroyed; no trenches have drawn their scars across entire continents.
Ask the Iraqis about city destruction, there, boyos. They may disagree. But you're right about one thing. That outmoded military model, trench warfare, hasn't been reinstituted.

It is a world war all the same. Moreover, it is a world war that is putting to the test every notion of individual liberty, freedom of conscience, and rule of law that the West prizes. And should we lose we will see, or our grandchildren will, the erasure of all that is good in Western Civilization.

We cannot afford to lose.
One wonders how they would define "losing the war". American cities captured by the Taliban? British metropoli gutted by nuclear weapons? Or perhaps *gasp* getting the hell out of an area where we're despised.

Yet winning will have its price, too.
It always does. And in the name of Western-style freedom, it has usually been a price well worth paying, in blood and steel. I've never been forced to face that price directly, but a quick glance through a history book shows where the West could be, and I've gotta tell ya, Fascism isn't for me.

Just as the invasion John described is ordained to change humanity into something that one of Hitler's Waffen SS would recognize and call home, so too will this war change us.
It doesn't change humanity, you twits! It brings to the for something that has always lurked within the human soul. Call it strength of will, bloodthirstyness or bravery, it is there, within our race. I'll admit that not every person has the steel to blow a bridge with non-combatants on it, even if it means military defeat. But then, neither does one of the author's brave young volunteers. Maybe it's because he's French. I don't know.

Because side by side with the virtues of Western Civilization are paired by vices that may destroy us: a narrow legalistic mindset, an emphasis on form over substance, and an unwillingness to do the ruthless and violent things we must if we are to survive.
Note the two-facedness of this. They are, in essence, saying "Danger, Will Robinson! The terrorists are going to rob us of our Western goodness!" and then, in the very next paragraph, saying that we have to be ruthless and violent to ensure victory over those terrorists. At what point do you stop fighting the enemy, and become him? At what point is that acceptable. Which is more important, raw survival or survival with some sort of ideals still in place. Look to the German people. This book implies a deep-seated national guilt over the Holocaust. That's the outcome of a loss of Western ideals, a descent into savagery that only a thorough military savaging in return can stop.

I know that this is the dichotomy of war, that to stop the barbarians, we have to, at least in part, think like the barbarians. And that makes us, in part, barbarians, too. They preach about "form over substance", but then advocate abolishing both! I just don't understand that mindset.

This list is not exhaustive. Perhaps worse than these things, however, the West has nurtured at at its own breast a set of execrable, vile, treacherous and treasonous villains that seem to seek at every opportunity to do all they can to ensure its destruction.
This I can agree with. At least, I could if I thought they were only talking about the Rumsfeld-courted Saddam Hussein or the American military-trained Osama bin Laden. But somehow, I get the feeling that a certain New York Senator is included in that list, if only because I know where John Ringo leans politically.

I wish the authors had just left the Afterword out and let the book speak for itself, which it does quite eloquently. They didn't have to beat us over the head with their points. Despite what they may think, we're not that stupid. At least not all of us.

(cross-posted to Eight Geeks, due to excessive geekiness content.)


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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain


Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu