Just read "Death by Moral Vanity" at Posse Incitatus (http://posseincitatus.typepad.com/) Very thought provoking. As he says, many commentators have struggled to analyze our current attitude to self-preservation. Is the West too 'civilized' to win wars?
Perhaps because of his blog name, I immediately thought about the Romans, and their attitude to themselves and to the Res Publica. It took the Romans three wars and 118 years to beat Carthage. They lost many battles, whole fleets of ships, Rome itself was at one point under imminent threat- in fact, it took every resource at the disposal of Rome to finally master their most potent rival in the west. But they did.
It is not even five years since Islam declared war on everybody outside its protective umbrella, and already many Europeans and Americans are either bored, relaxed about things or have forgotten there's a war on completely. Could there be a starker contrast?
Every Roman soldier, every Roman military building and every Roman unit standard had SPQR emblazoned on them. Senatus Populus Quiritium Romanus= The Senate and the people of Rome. Thats who they were fighting for- and the success of Rome's legions owed in no small part to the huge pride the legionaries had in their form of government, and their status as Roman citizens. They felt superior to those they fought, in civilisation, in discipline and in reputation. And they were right- their civilisation gave ours many of its foundations. Those men did not doubt the evidence of their own eyes- their technology was superior, their organisation was superior, and the men who led them were from ancient illustrious families who vied not only with their generational rivals for glory, but also the great men of previous generations. In every respect they were expected to perform their duties excellently for the benefit of their families honour, and for the benefit of the Roman republic.
How many europeans care about their honour, or their families honour? How many of them are proud of their political system (if they understand what it is)? How many of them are proud of their citizenship?
In America these things still exist, thank God. But as cynicism and modish psuedo-sophistication take their toll on these core conceptions, for how much longer will they be a majority fact?
In Britain, family honour, pride in the polity and citizenship are almost dead. They are constantly trashed by the media, and pop stars and talk show hosts line up to mock and deride them. The Queen, our first citizen, is constantly insulted. Standing up for England is considered pathetically old-fashioned and uncool.
Not only are we incapable of fighting the 118-year war, the first stout blow to this body-politic should suffice to destroy it. We are weak, morally stunted, debauched and nihilistic. Virtually no-one goes to church. Virtually no-one stands for the National Anthem.
Unless someone starts to re-create England very very soon, there will be no point trying.