Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Best Use of "Blood and Treasure" Yet


The defense department is recruiting thousands of new machines for a surge of robots (really). Robert Farley notes that these measures mostly seem "shift the cost of war from the blood side of the ledger to the treasure side."

More from Farley:
This doesn't necessarily make wars a better idea; paying from the treasure side means higher taxes, fewer hospitals, etc., but it does have an impact on the political interpretation of a war, since the deaths of soldiers are far more salient than the destruction of robots.

For the record, my favorite non-literary use of the blood and treasure motif is Lincoln's Second Inaugural:
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

The words John Lilburne puts in Cromwell's mouth are a close second:
I tell you, Sir, you have no other way to deal with these men, but to break them in pieces; and thumping upon the Council table again, he said, Sir, let me tell you that which is true, if you do not break them, they will break you; yea and bring all the guilt of the blood and treasure shed and spent in this kingdom upon your head and shoulders; and frustrate and make void all that work, that with so many years' industry, toil and pains you have done, and so render you to all rational men in the world as the most contemptiblest generation of silly, low-spirited men in the earth, to be broken and routed by such a despicable, contemptible generation of men as they are; and therefore, Sir, I tell you again, you are necessitated to break them.

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