Wine Meant to Toast John Adams’s Presidency Was Just Discovered Nick Mafi

The wine, which is nearly as old as America, is the largest known collection of Madeira in the country


Liberty Hall Museum—which is located on the campus of Kean University, one of New Jersey’s largest state schools—has been going through an extensive renovation with the goal of allowing their visitors to walk through every era of American history. Recently, the museum took one massive leap toward that objective in the most unexpected of ways. It was announced that the museum discovered several cases of Madeira wine from 1796 that had been shipped from Portugal for the celebration of John Adams’s presidency.

The renovation project, which began in late 2015, included revamping the museums wine cellar. That meant replacing the old wine racks and cataloguing each bottle. The museum always knew that had bottles of antiquated wine in their possession, they simply never felt compelled to learn how old they were or why they had been purchased. In fact, at one point the wine racks were sealed off due to the Prohibition era of the 1920’s. According to an interview with, Bill Schroh Jr., director of operations at Liberty Hall, the museum decided to fill a decanter with a sampling from one of the original casks. They described the taste to be similar to a sweet sherry wine. Researchers believe the wine was originally purchased in the late 18th century to celebrate the second president of the United States. The researchers came to this conclusion because of the date of the wine, coupled with the fact that Madeira was almost exclusively consumed by the elites of the day, primarily because the liquid traveled so well across the Atlantic Ocean, losing little to no flavor.

While the monetary value of discovery has not been made made public, it is being touted as the largest known collection of Madeira in the United States and one of the most extensive in the world.

Posted: July 11,2017

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Reading Wars Philip Yancy

I am going through a personal crisis. I used to love reading. I am writing this blog in my office, surrounded by 27 tall bookcases laden with some 5,000 books. Over the years I have read them, marked them up, and recorded the annotations in a computer database for potential references in my writing. To a large degree, they have formed my professional and spiritual life.

Books help define who I am. They have ushered me on a journey of faith, have introduced me to the wonders of science and the natural world, have informed me about issues such as justice and race. More, they have been a source of delight and adventure and beauty, opening windows to a reality I would not otherwise know.

My crisis consists in the fact that I am describing my past, not my present. I used to read three books a week. One year I devoted an evening each week to read all of Shakespeare’s plays (OK, due to interruptions it actually took me two years). Another year I read the major works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. But I am reading many fewer books these days, and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work.

The internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around. When I read an online article from The Atlantic or The New Yorker, after a few paragraphs I glance over at the slide bar to judge the article’s length. My mind strays, and I find myself clicking on the sidebars and the underlined links. Soon I’m over at reading Donald Trump’s latest Tweets and details of the latest terrorist attack, or perhaps checking tomorrow’s weather.

Worse, I fall prey to the little boxes that tell me, “If you like this article [or book], you’ll also like…” Or I glance at the bottom of the screen and scan the teasers for more engaging tidbits: 30 Amish Facts That’ll Make Your Skin Crawl; Top 10 Celebrity Wardrobe Malfunctions; Walmart Cameras Captured These Hilarious Photos. A dozen or more clicks later I have lost interest in the original article.

Neuroscientists have an explanation for this phenomenon. When we learn something quick and new, we get a dopamine rush; functional-MRI brain scans show the brain’s pleasure centers lighting up. In a famous experiment, rats keep pressing a lever to get that dopamine rush, choosing it over food or sex. In humans, emails also satisfy that pleasure center, as do Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat.

Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows analyzes the phenomenon, and its subtitle says it all: “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” Carr spells out that most Americans, and young people especially, are showing a precipitous decline in the amount of time spent reading. He says, “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” A 2016 Nielsen report calculates that the average American devotes more than ten hours per day to consuming media—including radio, TV, and all electronic devices. That constitutes 65 percent of waking hours, leaving little time for the much harder work of focused concentration on reading.

Hipster Girl Holding A Stack Of Books

In The Gutenberg Elegies, Sven Birkerts laments the loss of “deep reading,” which requires intense concentration, a conscious lowering of the gates of perception, and a slower pace. His book hit me with the force of conviction, intensifying my sense of crisis. I keep putting off Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, and look at my shelf full of Jürgen Multmann’s theology books with a feeling of nostalgia—why am I not reading books like that now?

An article in Business Insider* studied such pioneers as Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg. Most of them have in common a practice the author calls the “5-hour rule”: they set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) for deliberate learning. For example:

Bill Gates reads 50 books a year.
Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks.
Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day.
Mark Cuban reads for more than three hours every day.
Arthur Blank, a cofounder of Home Depot, reads two hours a day.

When asked about his secret to success, Warren Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…” Charles Chu, who quoted Buffett on the Quartz website, acknowledges that 500 pages a day is beyond reach for all but a few people. Nevertheless, neuroscience proves what each of these busy people have found: it actually takes less energy to focus intently than to zip from task to task. After an hour of contemplation, or deep reading, a person ends up less tired and less neurochemically depleted, thus more able to tackle mental challenges.


If we can’t reach Buffett’s high reading bar, what is a realistic goal? Charles Chu calculates that at an average reading speed of 400 words per minute, it would take 417 hours in a year to read 200 books—less than the 608 hours the average American spends on social media, or the 1642 hours watching TV. “Here’s the simple truth behind reading a lot of books,” says Quartz: “It’s not that hard. We have all the time we need. The scary part—the part we all ignore—is that we are too addicted, too weak, and too distracted to do what we all know is important.”**

Though Chu underestimates the average book length at 50,000 words, his conclusion still applies. Now I really feel guilty. In the last two years, Chu has read more than 400 books cover to cover. Willpower alone is not enough, he says. We need to construct what he calls “a fortress of habits.” I like that image. Recently I checked author Annie Dillard’s website, in which she states, “I can no longer travel, can’t meet with strangers, can’t sign books but will sign labels with SASE, can’t write by request, and can’t answer letters. I’ve got to read and concentrate. Why? Beats me.” Now that’s a fortress.

I’ve concluded that a commitment to reading is an ongoing battle, somewhat like the battle against the seduction of internet pornography. We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish. Christians especially need that sheltering space, for quiet meditation is one of the most important spiritual disciplines.

As a writer in the age of social media, I host a Facebook page and a website and write an occasional blog. Thirty years ago I got a lot of letters from readers, and they did not expect an answer for a week or more. Now I get emails, and if they don’t hear back in two days they write again, “Did you get my email?” The tyranny of the urgent crowds in around me.

If I yield to that tyranny, my life fills with mental clutter. Boredom, say the researchers, is when creativity happens. A wandering mind wanders into new, unexpected places. When I retire to the mountains and unplug for a few days, something magical takes place. I’ll go to bed puzzling over a roadblock in my writing, and the next morning wake up with the solution crystal-clear—something that never happens when I spend my spare time cruising social media and the internet.

I find that poetry helps. You can’t zoom through poetry; it forces you to slow down, think, concentrate, relish words and phrases. I now try to begin each day with a selection from George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, or R. S. Thomas.

For deep reading, I’m searching for an hour a day when mental energy is at a peak, not a scrap of time salvaged from other tasks. I put on headphones and listen to soothing music, shutting out distractions.

Deliberately, I don’t text. I used to be embarrassed when I pulled out my antiquated flip phone, which my wife says should be donated to a museum. Now I pocket it with a kind of perverse pride, feeling sorry for the teenagers who check their phones on average two thousand times a day.

We’re engaged in a war, and technology wields the heavy weapons. Rod Dreher published a bestseller called The Benedict Option, in which he urged people of faith to retreat behind monastic walls as the Benedictines did—after all, they preserved literacy and culture during one of the darkest eras of human history. I don’t completely agree with Dreher, though I’m convinced that the preservation of reading will require something akin to the Benedict option.

I’m still working on that fortress of habit, trying to resurrect the rich nourishment that reading has long provided for me. If only I can resist clicking on the link that promises 30 Amish Facts That’ll Make Your Skin Crawl…


Posted on Thu, Jul 20 2017

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Finished…Not Perfect Jake Parker

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Every Book of the Bible in One Word Garrett Kell

God reveals himself through his Word. When he speaks, he teaches us what he is like, how he acts, and how he desires us to respond. As a whole, the Bible is about God. It’s about God the Father displaying his glory through God the Son by the power of God the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is one book made up of 66 books. Each book has a major theme that emphasizes an aspect of God’s character or a way he is working to carry out his perfect plan. What follows is an attempt to capture these themes. These themes are certainly reductionistic and required me to make a few tough choices, but I hope you’ll be helped by considering them.
Bible: God of Jesus

Old Testament: Anticipation
Gospels: Manifestation
Acts: Proclamation
Epistles: Explanation
Revelation: Consummation


Genesis: God of Promise
Exodus: God of Power
Leviticus: God of Purity
Numbers: God of Perseverance
Deuteronomy: God of Preparation


Joshua: God of the Land
Judges: God of the Rebels
Ruth: God of Redemption
1 Samuel: God of the Heart
2 Samuel: God of the Throne
1 and 2 Kings: God of Israel
1 and 2 Chronicles: God of Judah
Ezra: God of the Temple
Esther: God of the Gallows
Nehemiah: God of the Wall


Job: God of Pain
Psalms: God of Praise
Proverbs: God of Prudence
Ecclesiastes: God of Purpose
Song of Solomon: God of Passion

Major Prophets

Isaiah: God of Glory
Jeremiah: God of Weeping
Lamentations: God of Faithfulness
Ezekiel: God of Visions
Daniel: God of History

Minor Prophets

Hosea: God of the Unfaithful
Joel: God of the Locusts
Amos: God of the Oppressed
Obadiah: God of the Mountain
Jonah: God of Compassion
Micah: God of Justice
Nahum: God of Wrath
Habakkuk: God of Sovereignty
Zephaniah: God of Judgment
Haggai: God of Renewal
Zechariah: God of Restoration
Malachi: God of Worship


Matthew: God of the Jews
Mark: God of the Romans
Luke: God of the Outcast
John: God of the World
Acts: God of Power

Pauline Epistles

Romans: God of Righteousness
1 Corinthians: God of Holiness
2 Corinthians: God of Weakness
Galatians: God of Justification
Ephesians: God of Unity
Philippians: God of Joy
Colossians: God of Preeminence
1 Thessalonians: God of Encouragement
2 Thessalonians: God of Admonishment
1 Timothy: God of Godliness
2 Timothy: God of Endurance
Titus: God of Works
Philemon: God of Reconciliation

General Epistles

Hebrews: God of Fulfillment
James: God of Trials
1 Peter: God of the Persecuted
2 Peter: God of Patience
1 John: God of Love
2 John: God of Truth
3 John: God of Discernment
Jude: God of Protection


Revelation: God of Eternity

I found the process of reflecting on God’s message in each book deeply edifying, and I would enjoy hearing any ways you can improve this list.

Garrett Kell is married to Carrie, and together they have five children. He serves as pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter.

Posted: July 13,2017

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If You Are a Baseball Fan You Have to See This…Babe Ruth In Color

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The 8 Most Common Narc-Sadistic Conversation Control Tactics Bree Bonchay

Do you often engage in conversations with your narcissist that leave you feeling like you were talking to a brick wall – or worse, maybe leave you feeling like banging your head against a brick wall? Perhaps, it has even crossed your mind that you would have been better off conversing with a brick wall because the wall would have more capacity of providing understanding, validation, and empathy than the narcissist in your life!

Real life conversations with a narcissist are exhausting, dizzying, nerve-racking, and make you feel like you’re going crazy – or at least drive a compassionate person to question their own reality, and even their sanity at times. The circular conversations leave you feeling worse off than if you had never had them in the first place. You begin to blame yourself, doubt your instincts and wonder what the heck is going on?


Before we realize the truth about the narcissist in our lives, we relate to them as if they are normal human beings possessing a conscience, integrity and some degree of self-awareness. We trust their words because we don’t deceive and manipulate people and trust that the people who claim to love us will do the same. We give them the benefit of the doubt because we believe they truly love no one who truly loves us would purposely say or do anything to hurt our feelings and us. We are in essence projecting our good qualities on to them, and when they don’t respond the way we expect a normal person would, we become confused and hurt, question our reality and believe we must be to blame in some way. The problem is that narcissists don’t think, operate or play by the same rules as us, and our failing to recognize this sets us up for manipulation and misery by default.

Conversations with a narcissist, especially if you hold opinions about anything that contradict with their opinion of what is the gospel truth, are jam-packed with a barrage of covert manipulation tactics that are intrinsic to the narcissist and entrenched in their personality. They will make you wish you never disagreed with them in the first place and regret that you had ever dared to express your point of view. A simple disagreement will often incite a full-fledged attack on you. Somehow, they manage to twist the conservation, so you wind up feeling like the bad guy/girl, while they assume the role of the innocent victim – of you.


When you challenge your narcissist’s lies, discrepancies, and groundless accusations; suggest that they are less than perfect; try to get them to understand your point of view; confront them on their cruel behaviors; or approach them about the lack of reciprocity in the relationship, the discussion will likely decay into a crazy-making, chaotic, drama packed, mind-spinning, migraine induced headache that is intended to wear you down and punish you for suggesting or exposing a fact that doesn’t support their grandiose view of themselves or maintain their need to feel superior and all mighty.

Narcissists never enter into conversations. They enter into verbal competitions. Their goal is to win at all costs. They have no interest in seeking understanding, clarification or compromise, or in reaching a meeting of the minds. Their conversations are only meant to manipulate, confuse, control, destabilize, deflect accountability, cast doubt, distort reality and create drama.


Narcissists only surround themselves with people who are either so charmed by them that they blindly believe every word they say is true or people who have learned that it’s easier to keep their mouths shut rather than reap the wrath of expressing an opposing opinion.

Anyone in a narcissist’s life that doesn’t fall into one of the two categories of Enablers or Tongue Biters will certainly be given the boot. But first the narcissist will discipline you with their collection of manipulation tactics, so when they do give you the boot, you will be sure to go out believing the reasons for your dismissal were all your fault.


Here’s how this works. You and your narcissist are in the middle of a conversation; it’s going well until you disagree or present facts that contradict the narcissist’s point of view. The narcissist knows that your facts are indisputable and you have the upper-hand, so to gain control of the conversation and win the argument, the narcissist will deviate into a tangent of verbal vomit attempting to hoodwink you and pull the ole’ topic switcheroo. Before you know it, you’re discussing something totally unrelated to the original conversation, and you find yourself in defensive mode about some issue the two of you disagreed on last year.


Blame shifting is usually a tactic used subsequently to the Topic Switcheroo. The narcissist, like a magician, successfully changes the topic and diverts your attention by pointing the finger at you, and you suddenly find yourself on the defensive end of the conversation stick. The narcissist will raise questions about any and all of your real or perceived faults and pummel you. You, in turn, instinctively defend yourself, and the narcissist, just like Houdini, makes the original topic of their bad behavior disappear and escapes having to take any accountability for their actions. Meanwhile, you’re tricked into taking on the defensive position and accused and blamed for creating problems and drama in the relationship.


Hypocrisy is the narcissist’s middle name. What they say and do when no one is watching is drastically different from what they say and do in the presence of others. Since they are all about maintaining their false persona they use projection to rid the unwanted traits in their character. But since they are the emotional equivalent of a five-year-old, they magically disown the parts of themselves that reflect negatively on their personas and accuse you of the exact things they’re guilty of doing. Did you ever notice how they will accuse the most generous person of being selfish or having a hidden agenda behind their generosity? The most honest person is accused of being a liar. Their faithful partner is accused of cheating? The narcissist’s projections are really confessions that reveal what the narcissist is guilty of and/ or believes about himself/herself.

In contrast, emotionally healthy people don’t use projection when they’re on the defensive. When and if they resort to character assignation, their comments more closely resemble the truth and tend to resemble slander. Not the outright lies that characterize projection.


When narcissists act with a disproportionate amount of anger or rage by increasing the volume and tempo of their voice, you can bet that they’re trying to shock and bully you. Their actions are an absolute declaration of psychological warfare. Their increased volume is a ploy to get to you to back off. The sudden, shocking, cruel and disproportionate attack is an offensive maneuver aimed to destabilize, confuse and intimidate you. When you’re under attack and in a state of shock, your defenses naturally become weakened. The stress of being attacked and yelled at decreases your mental acuity and leaves you open to suggestion. As a result, your weakened state renders you less of an intellectual threat to the narcissist’s need for control and dominance.


There is much truth in the quote, “Deceit’s favorite role is playing the victim.” It’s no wonder why when the narcissist isn’t playing the role of the hero, he/she is playing the role poor victim. Through garnering pity, narcissists will play the victim, while vilifying the real victim, as a way of concealing their abusive behavior and avoid taking responsibility for their cruel and deceitful actions. Narcissists capitalize on the compassion of others and exploit their sympathy in any way they can, depending upon what their goal is at the time. If the narcissist doesn’t want to keep a promise and you become upset, your feelings won’t be validated; there will be no apology or display of empathy. Instead, the narcissist will get angry at you for being upset and blame you for your lack of empathy in not considering that they may be having a bad week, stress at work or so on.

You will be labeled selfish or accused of being needy or demanding for expecting the poor narcissist to honor his/her word. However, if you have a bad week, don’t expect to receive the same treatment. The narcissist will expect you to keep your promise and will minimize and invalidate your feelings by portraying themselves as the victim. The narcissist will always one-up you by reciting a litany of reasons why their week was so much worse than yours or lecture you on how your life is so much easier than theirs, and so on. Whatever you can do, they can do better. Whatever bad thing happened to you, something worse happened to them.


Gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse so insidious that many articles have been written about it. Narcissists use this tactic in conversations by purposely altering or not sharing information and replacing it with false information. This tactic is designed to systematically dismantle the victim’s ability to trust their own judgement and undermine their confidence to the point where they begin to doubt their own memories and judgements, thus rendering them highly suggestible to the narcissist’s opinion.

For example, a narcissist may casually but consistently suggest how their memory is superior to yours, especially if you ever admit to being forgetful about anything. They may even go so far as hiding or rearranging your belongings, intentionally tricking you into believing your memory is faulty. Then when a difference in opinion arises or you expose a discrepancy in their story, the narcissist, with absolute conviction, will use your faulty memory as evidence to make you doubt what you heard or saw and second guess yourself, causing you to ultimately accept the narcissist’s rendition of the truth.


Narcissists are notorious conversation interrupters. They love to be the center of attention and control the focus of the conversation. They have no interest in having a two-way discussion with you. If you dare attempt to get a word in edge-wise or make your point of view heard, if it at all contradicts the narcissist’s point of view, your opinion will most likely be ignored or dismissed. While many people with ADHD and other mental disorders struggle with problems of poor impulsivity or poor communication and often interrupt others, the narcissist intentionally interrupts to redirect the focus of the conversation back to themselves since they believe their opinions are superior and correct, and that whatever they say should be accepted as the gospel truth.

They genuinely have zero interest in hearing other people’s viewpoints or reaching compromises or win/win solutions to disagreements. They have a ‘my way or the highway’ frame of mind and interrupting allows them to control the conversation and manage it in a direction that parallels their point of view and agenda. By monopolizing the conversation, they exert their control and avoid taking responsibility or addressing important issues. In their minds, their ability to dominate conversations confirms their superiority.


The silent treatment is probably one of the most common forms of emotional abuse used by narcissists when all the above tactics have been tried and have failed. Narcissists use the silent treatment as a form of punishment for not acquiescing to their point of view or as the way to gain the upper hand and control in their relationships. It’s also a way to avoid discussing important issues in the relationship and avoid taking accountability for their wrong-doings. When a narcissist uses the silent treatment, they will do it in a way that is so out of proportion to the situation. Narcissists will also tend to demand a perfectly delivered apology. If the apology is not said correctly or in the right way, the narcissists will extend the length of the silent treatment. By demanding a perfectly delivered apology, narcissists confirm their dominance and support their exaggerated importance.

The silent treatment is intended to make the victim feel completely unloved, invalidated and insignificant. The use of the silent treatment is usually about control. Sometimes the narcissist will use the silent treatment just to assess the amount of control they have over people. Often, it will be used as a tactic to create distance and free up space to engage in infidelity or pursue new admirers. Victims are left feeling destroyed, as the silent treatment kills any possibility of reconciliation.


The many people who’ve been expelled from the narcissist’s life know there is something terribly wrong with the narcissist. However, many of them never bothered or cared enough to connect the dots and define the craziness they were subjected to.

But for those who have had intimate relationships with a narcissist for any length of time, it almost becomes an unsettling necessity to search for answers and put the pieces together to restore their equilibrium and unearth the reality of the absolute insanity that had become their normal existence.

This is what drives most former partners of narcissists to hit the internet and actively Google the WHY DID questions – for example: Why did my partner always think they were right? Why did my mother never apologize? Why did my spouse always give me the silent treatment? Why did my sibling always make me feel like I was to blame? Why did my perfect partner change?


Their Google search queries lead them to articles about narcissism and narcissistic traits. Survivors voraciously ingest the massive amounts of information permeating the world-wide web. The descriptions are so eerily accurate that if they didn’t know better, they would swear the articles were written about their relationship. The precision in which the articles depict their relationships, from the golden beginnings right down to the horrid end, to the t becomes the indisputable validation that precipitates the cloud of confusion to dissipate, allowing enlightenment to illuminate the truth of their situation with profound clarity. No, narcissism is not limited to vanity or arrogance, as they originally believed. It is so much more pathological and insidious than they could have ever imagined; and even worse, there is no cure.

Gradually, through their research, they realize that the narcissist never really loved them or anyone for that matter, as narcissists are wholly incapable of love and devoid of a conscience. Survivors slowly accept that the person they were in love with was just a façade and never really existed. Finally, this awareness forces them to mourn the loss of three people, only amplifying and adding to their grief. First, they must mourn the loss of the person they loved who never really existed. Second, they must mourn the loss of the person they believed their narcissist had the potential to be. Third, they must mourn the loss of their identity that had been eclipsed under the crushing weight of the imbalance and inequity of their relationship.


Terms they had never heard of before – like love bombing, future faking, false-self, idealization, devaluation, projection, gaslighting, smear campaign, flying monkeys, cognitive dissonance, and triangulation – become part of the survivor’s regular vocabulary. Sadly, they become more adept at explaining the definitions of these terms than most mental health professionals because they are not just terms learned through memorization, but rather words learned through painful, real-life experiences.

Their new-found vocabulary becomes powerfully liberating as they finally offer a palpable term to explain the insanity that once was their reality, but that they were previously at a loss for words to describe. They grow so knowledgeable about the subject of narcissism and traits of NPD; they deserve to earn honorary doctorate degrees in the subject.

The crazy-making conversations of the past start to make more sense through the new lenses of awareness. Survivors begin to finally be able to put the finger on and pin-point the emotional abuse they suffered but failed to perceive was abuse at the time. The layers of blame, guilt, doubt, confusion and uncertainty of their reality that had tormented them start to erode, as they recognize that the layers were deliberately and deceptively deposited onto them by their narcissist. This is the pivotal point, where recovery from narcissistic abuse begins.

Without awareness and education about narcissistic abuse, the chances that a survivor will end up in another abusive relationship are infinitely higher. Emotional abuse is as devastating as any other kind of abuse. It’s intentional and malicious exploitation and manipulation of the heart, soul, spirit, mind, and often the wallet of another human-being, cloaked in counterfeit expressions of love and concern.

The 8 Most Common Narc-Sadistic Conversation Control Tactics

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Ancient Laws, Modern Wars Victor Davis Hanson

The most dangerous moments in foreign affairs often come after a major power seeks to reassert its lost deterrence.

The United States may be entering just such a perilous transitional period.

Rightly or wrongly, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Middle East-based terrorists concluded after 2009 that the U.S. saw itself in decline and preferred a recession from world affairs.

In that void, rival states were emboldened, assuming that America thought it could not — or should not — any longer exercise the sort of political and military leadership it had demonstrated in the past.

Enemies thought the U.S. was more focused on climate change, United Nations initiatives, resets, goodwill gestures to enemies such as Iran and Cuba, and soft-power race, class and gender agendas than on protecting and upholding longtime U.S. alliances and global rules.

In reaction, North Korea increased its missile launches and loudly promised nuclear destruction of the West and its allies.

Russia violated its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and absorbed borderlands of former Soviet republics.

Iran harassed American ships in the Persian Gulf and issued serial threats against the U.S.

China built artificial island bases in the South China Sea to send a message about its imminent management of Asian commerce.

In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State killed thousands in medieval fashion and sponsored terrorist attacks inside Western countries.

Amid such growing chaos, a return to former (and normal) U.S. deterrence would inflame such aggressors and be considered provocative by provocateurs.

Accordingly, we should remember a few old rules for these scary new crises on the horizon.

1. Avoid making verbal threats that are not serious and backed up by force. After eight years of pseudo-red lines, step-over lines, deadlines and “game changers,” American ultimatums without consequences have no currency and will only invite further aggression.

2. The unlikely is not impossible. Weaker powers can and do start wars. Japan in December 1941 attacked the world’s two largest navies based on the false impression that great powers which sought to avoid war did so because they were weak. That current American military power is overwhelming does not mean delusional nations will always agree that it is so — or that it will be used.

3. Big wars can start from small beginnings. No one thought an obscure Austrian archduke’s assassination in 1914 would lead to some 18 million dead by 1918. Consider any possible military engagement a precursor to far more. Have a backup plan — and another backup plan for the backup plan.

4. Do not confuse tactics with strategy. Successfully shooting down a rogue airplane, blowing up an incoming speedboat or taking an ISIS-held Syrian city is not the same as finding a way to win and end a war. Strategic victory is time-consuming and usually involves drawing on economic, political and cultural superiority as well as military success to ensure that a defeated opponent stays defeated — and agrees that further aggression is counterproductive.

5. Human nature is unchanging — and not always admirable. Like it or not, neutrals more often flock to crude strength than to elegant and humane weakness.

6. Majestic pronouncements and utopian speechifying impress global elites and the international media, but they mean nothing to rogue nations. Such states instead count up fleets, divisions and squadrons — and remember whether a power helps its friends and punishes its enemies. Standing by a flawed ally is always preferable to abandoning one because it can sometimes be bothersome.

7. Public support for military action hinges mostly on perceived success. Tragically, people will support a dubious but successful intervention more than a noble but bogged-down one. The most fervent prewar supporters of war are often the most likely to bail during the first setback. Never calibrate the wisdom of retaliating or intervening based on initial loud public enthusiasm for it.

8. War is a harsh distillery of talent. Good leaders and generals in peace are not necessarily skilled in conflict. They can perform as badly in war as good wartime generals do in peace. Assume that the commanders who start a war won’t be there to finish it.

9. War is rarely started by accident and far more often by mistaken calibrations of relative power. Flawed prewar assessments of comparative weakness and strength are tragically corrected by war — the final, ugly arbiter of who really was strong and who was weak. Visible expressions of military potential, serious and steady leadership, national cohesion and economic robustness remind rivals of the futility of war. Loud talk of disarmament and a preference for international policing can encourage foolish risk-takers to miscalculate that war is a good gamble.

10. Deterrence that prevents war is usually smeared as war-mongering. Appeasement, isolationism and collaboration that avoid immediate crises but guarantee eventual conflict are usually praised as civilized outreach and humane engagement.

Finally, it is always better to be safe and ridiculed than vulnerable and praised.

Posted: Apr 06, 2017

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