February 18, 2009

Dixie Looks Abroad Part 5- the Myth of a Martial Tradition?

One last thing Fry is highly sceptical of is the notion of a southern Marital tradition. Building on a growing and powerful secondary literature he shows that in fact at certain times the south has actually been underrepresented (for example in the military post war and with World War 1 Volunteers ) and of course his complex and well thought out account helps show many alternative explanations of Southern Foreign Policy.

However I do think he goes a bit too far. The exceptions of lack of marital zeal can be explained- was the military any less southern than other national institutions after the Civil war-and this was the military that was both over staffed and had crushed the white south in battle? There are genuine sociological characteristics whether a greater ante-bellum zeal for dualing or their greater enthusiasm for the death penalty today that are not simple or uni-dimensional but would seem to have implications for the use of punitive force. Finally when every major War in US history (except arguably the Civil War-truly the exception that proves the rule) has received disproportionate support in the south whether the War of 1812, the various Indian wars, the American-Mexican War, probably the Spanish-American War, World War 1 , World War 2, the Korean War, The Vietnam War and the Iraq war-it's very hard not to believe there is a general pattern.

Again I must repeat Dixie Looks Abroad is truly outstanding. My criticisms are a reflection of its richness not it's weakness. I strongly recommend anyone who wants a historical perspective on southerners and Foreign Policy to read it . Frankly the book would be worth it just for the footnotes-but it is so much more.