Thursday, April 30, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"The price of safety"

There have been even more extreme forms of faith that sought to remove the suffering caused by violence and desire than Buddhism does. The reductios of Pacifism in a community are found among the Jains of India and were the Shakers of America. The Shakers identified the source of suffering in desires of the flesh and choose to forgo propagation except by adoption. You will not find any Shakers to discuss these matters with. The Shakers survived as craftsmen, modifying goods for merchandise. The Jains expend their energy in not killing even the smallest living creature. They prosper as a merchant group. Essentially for both their particular moral superiority is funded by their specialization in a wealthy subset of society. They live off the design margin of the surplus wealth generated by others. Neither could function as a universal creed. In that they resemble Stoicism, which was a fine philosophy for aristocrats.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Obama Panics New York

It is hard to believe but that feckless idiot child ordered Air Force One to buzz the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan.

That flight is crewed by active duty military. I would be willing to wager $1 that no Air Force officer would have done that maneuver except under direct orders from the President. If David Axelrod had told them to do it they would have told him to get stuffed. I have heard from someone who was there and saw it, they were hoping it was another distressed Captain Sully in the Hudson and terrified it was another 9-11.

This is reality, not a movie. Obama is like Tom Hanks in Big, he is pretending to be a responsible adult but it only an act. He resembles Don Ameche in Things Change, with his handlers desperate to pull off the subterfuge. Remember the tag line from the imbeccably liberal Ivan Reitman's 1993 film Dave?
In a country where anybody can become President, anybody just did.
Apparently it was a White House authorized photo-op. They had directed the NYPD not to inform the public. My criticism of Obama stands.
This is well covered on The Belmont Club blog,
And then I lit a fire to see if there was any gas left.

Conservatives when given the opportunity manage government with all the attention and professionalism of a snake handler extracting venom for use by the life giving Pharmacists in a laboratory. Liberals being naturally part of the jungle find it impossible to maintain the slightly adversarial posture needed to effectively supervise bureaucrats. It isn't even that the policy goals are always different in every case, a conservative could have approved the concept of a photo-op. The key is that a conservative would feel less of a sense of mutuality with organization and would have been more willing to challenge procedures at the risk of offending.

Sally Jones wants to do X, Sally has passed her hiring process (by someone else) and is assumed to know her job. Sally is a member of "Protected Classes" because she just happens to be 1. Female, 2. Minority, 3. Lesbian, and 4. Disabled. Questioning her could cost me my job therefore I will enter a memorandum into the record noting that she has submitted this plan and that all other concerned agencies have been contacted and have not expressed any objection.

I don't give a rat's rear end about how you feel about my asking, I'm your boss and before you do this I want to know what the Police Commissioner and the Mayor in NYC think about this operation. Also we have media geniuses working here. I want this cleared through them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Left to ourselves"

a world without a belief in politicians?
America has been different. Just ask any tax collector, as I have. People historically obeyed the law, perhaps because it was theirs. Kinuachdrach's road warriors were a special case. Americans have traditionally been less devoted to conformist procedure than the English middle class, whether in queuing or in deportment. That is probably changing across the pond as yob culture spreads. We are however still far more self disciplined on average than most foreigners when it comes to acceding to procedures designed to avoid taking unfairly from others. That is to say that for all the Jacksonian rhetoric about being a nation of common men Americans tend to be polite. Compare their compliance with that of a group of Russians who turn into a pushing mob whenever there is no one with a weapon around or the Italians who appear to be mystified by the concept of almost universal voluntary tax compliance that has prevailed in the US.

It is a mark of the Protestant heritage that being self supporting was seen as a mark of a good citizen and an attribute of a courteous gentleman. One of my better lessons on the rise of Capitalism included me admonishing the class to look in the mirror every evening and ask if they had created more wealth than they had consumed.

I’ve as little sympathy for dissapointed Obama Voters as I do for Madoff’s victims
Most of Madoff's victims weren't the lazy and arrogant plutocrats who he glad handed at a country club. They include the groundkeepers at the Botanical Garden, the animals at the Zoo, the scholarship students at colleges, and people with any connection to a web of charities including many that had no funds with him but now face no support from vanished donors and a government that will devote a shrunken pot only to special interest groups. His victims include the people who had never heard of Madoff and who had their funds sent to him by other supposedly reputable managers. I have far more sympathy for Madoff's victims than I do for the disappointed Obama supporters.

The deep stain of bigotry that underlay most of the support for Obama must be confronted. When Colin Powell turned on John McCain he should have been called out and pounded. The most galling thing is that it was simply accepted that flagrant racism in support of Obama would have to be accepted. Why, because challenging it would have displeased the New York Times?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blogging Insanity

Another blogger and I exchanged some emails which, with their kind permission and names redacted, are posted here.

Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 23:53:38 +0000
Subject: Re: dr. sanity
If you look at my modest blog you will see that I have commented once or twice at Theo Spark's house, a few times on others from the Pajamas stable, less often than I used to from LGF, and most often at Wretchard the Cat's The Belmont Club Unfortunately just last night PJM's Wordpress engine suddenly declared harmless little old me to be spam, so I am blocked until Fernandez sorts it out.

Regarding the blog wars around LGF I am as unhappy as anyone. Some things can not be fixed, change happens. The principle that we should be careful not to be exploited by extremists or anti-semites masquerading as conservatives or libertarians is one that I could agree with. There is some merit in viewing the Intelligent Design movement as a less slick bunch of charlatans aping the methods of the Global Warming scam artists or even as a wedge that can be exploited for stealth Islamization.

Granting those principles I do not feel comfortable with what has happened there. It is not my blog but I would not have focused on those issues and the personalities in the same way. It remains the best crafted user interface that I have seen.

See you soon,


PS: With your permission I will redact our names and post this thread on my blog. YYYYY
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

From: "XXXXX"
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 13:32:09 -0400
Subject: Re: dr. sanity
I just discovered her blog. I remember when she used to comment at LGF. Are you still commenting there? I stopped going a few weeks ago. Looking for a new go to blog. I visit JammieWearingFool and Killian Bundy's blogs.
Take care. Will be in NYC in June, hope to see you again then.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 12:41 PM
Subject: Re: dr. sanity

I've followed the good Dr for years.
------Original Message------
Subject: dr. sanity
Sent: Apr 25, 2009 11:20 AM

you might enjoy this blog
Barack / 08
Baroke / 09

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Waltzing Matilda"

Australian Karen on the GPS device is Karen Jacobsen

When I was in Perth/Freemantle they said it was the most isolated European City on Earth. It is closer to Singapore than to Melbourne. As I'm sure I mentioned before in a lovely town called Albany that is as far South as you can get in Western Australia there is a war memorial overlooking the bay. In that perfect place you can stand on top of the cliff and there is nothing but the Southern Ocean between you and Antarctica. That is where the Anzac gathered and departed for war in 1915-16. It is one of the most beautiful spots you will ever see. The monument was originally erected in Alexandria (wiki travel says Port Said) to mark the jumping off point for the Gallipoli expedition. Nasser in his pride and folly lashed out at the memorial of his betters, like Sauron throwing down the monument of Numenor at Umbar, and cast it down, so the Australians gathered up the pieces and reassembled it above King George's Bay.

Comment on The Belmont Club,

How should the community defend itself against a persistent threat? Remember the man with infectious TB who defied the Public Health service order restricting his movement and sneaked back into America from Italy via Canada? There was widespread horror at his selfishness, coupled with shock at the realization that the authorities have the right to control a threat. Under the label of Public Health and Safety the government can do almost anything. The Nazi Nuremburg laws were worded as part of the Health Code. Jews were seen as vermin to be sterilized from the body politic and eventually from physical existence. The trick is to retain a government capable of acting to eliminate a real threat without expanding the concept of threats to be so broad as to include the arbitrary Other. Typhoid Mary was locked up against her will because she posed a threat to the community simply by being herself but the threat was real. If the Taliban are a real threat, not I would think a debatable point, then they must be contained or eliminated. We must define our concepts of safety and justice in a manner that draws a distinction between acting against the Taliban and the Nazis acting against the Jews.

Putting the Bailout in Perspective.

HT Theo Spark for linking to this graphic from last November at Voltage.

World War II cost in the same range as the bailout, maybe a little more at first or maybe less with interest. One commentator at Voltage did mention that in fairness the growth in the population should be considered. Yes population growth matters but this graph drives the point home that what the Democrats are doing is in no way, shape or form an investment. It is a conscious destruction of the American economy. One of the Belmont Club commentators twobyfour has explored this point with reference to the Frankfurt School and Gramsci.
Click to see the pie charts, they drive the point home.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"While other monsters roamed the earth"

There are two universal human taboos in every functional society, variations in definition do not change this. They are 1) the Incest Taboo and 2) The Child Abuse Taboo. There is no where that you can go and yell out in the local dialect "Someone is hurting a child" without knowing that every adult within hearing is heading to your location. Yelling "Help Murder" or "Free Beer" will not do that. The callous inducement of fear in children, like the relentless sexualization of children by the same media groups, is clear child abuse.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Notes from all around"

Matt Beck (Man of the West),
What a prolix pile of steaming waste that was. There are grounds to worry about Goldman's judgement, if he really has a LaRouche connection I'd start there. What you have done is ex cathedra and without any reasoned argument condemned Neocons (read Jews), the Materialistic and Whigs (read Business/Jews), the Urbane (read Cosmopolites/Jews) and Economists and Intellectuals (read, Oh everyone gets the picture.) You then wander into a series of "He has probably..." assumptions. What is the Conservatism that you are left with? Sounds like Solzhenitsyn's mystical Czarism. No thank you.

Subatoi Bahdur,
Fear not if Barack H. Obama, or Truman Burbank, or Raymond Shaw, or any other personality he chose to exhibit, was declared ineligible or unqualified, the Constitution provides an answer. Joseph Biden remains the duly elected Vice President of the United States and in the event of a vacancy he would assume the office of the President. God help us all. If it was revealed that he was aware of Mr Obama being ineligible for his office before the election then that might lay Mr Biden open to an Impeachment charge. Those appointments, findings and other acts, that were made over Mr Obama's signature would be void but they could be reinstated in a matter of minutes.

Personally I do not believe that we do ourselves any good by dwelling on the possibility of Obama's ineligibility, as opposed to the certainty of his performance. The issue is no longer his qualification but his quality. After and if we get control of the government back into adult hands then one of the Amendments we can consider would be to remove the ambiguity from the election process that made it possible for person to pass through without proving their eligibility. The definition of citizenship and natural born must be made clear and the Court rulings that have denied citizens standing in these cases must be overturned.

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"One country’s nightmare experience with engaging the Taliban"

... they always hire help that is dumber
The corollary is also true. One mark of a competent manager is that they are confident enough to hire good people. Carter crawled into office partly on the denigration of Gerald Ford as an incompetent klutz. It was an early application of the techniques that were refined into pure bile for the destruction of Sarah Palin. In reality of course President Ford was an intelligent man and one of the finest natural athletes ever to hold his office. His greatest peculiarity was that, even more than the similarly unelected Harry Truman, he lacked the obsession with personal power that marks everyone who sets out to become President. Consider who his Cabinet choices were and compare them to the equivalents that Obama has foisted on the country. He had Edward Levi for Attorney General, Donald Rumsfeld did well at Defense and Eliot Richardson at Commerce. He was not dramatic but he replaced Nixon's weaker cabinet picks.

Regarding Pakistan, at this point I am a little surprised that David Petreaus is allowing himself to be used by Obama.

Concur that the impact of a US regulated entity buying the submarine shipyard might be to prevent the Israelis or Taiwanese from getting more boats. It is unlikely that the Dutch will do business with them instead. Maybe the Israelis can borrow some watercraft from the French again? Maybe they could sell some Jericho missiles, and warheads, to Taipei and Tokyo. The Israelis really do need a few more submarines.

My hope at this point is that at the end of the day the history of the Administration of the Man from Nowhere who had accomplished Nothing will be preceded with a quote not from Yeats but Shakespeare.

it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing
Scottish Play, Act V, scene 5

Subotai Bahadur,
(for your #86)
Not only do I agree with every word that you wrote, I would like to claim that in various places I have already said most of that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Terrorism and moral torture"

When the community agreed, after much debate and soul searching, to permit some members to decline to participate in the communal duty to defend against a threat that the democratic and lawful authorities had designated it was done with certain understandings. Conscientious Objection could only apply to the individual who had a clear preceding basis to avoid violence. It did not absolve them from the expectation of being placed in another position of discomfort and danger, such as combat stretcher bearer. Also it was understood that the CO would not attempt to impose their position on the greater community that assumed the burden of protecting them. The Amish have rarely voted, understanding the entangling implications of so doing.

What has happened here is a game changing event in two ways. First because the values of a parasitical pacifist minority are being imposed on the majority and second by the use of administrative fiat, memo leaking and the violation of confidences. Finally it is of greater even Constitutional significance because the novel threat to prosecute Justice Department lawyers for having given their best professional advice is another ex-post facto act. This rewriting of the rules after the election is truly revolutionary. It partly serves to nail the Democrats loyalty to Obama's mast because they now know that if they ever lose another election they cannot predict the consequences. They are now in the position of the Senators who all were splattered by Caesar's blood. Once some crimes are committed you can't turn back.

(because some people keep talking about militias and revolution)
No, no no no no no.
The answer is not a Militia. It is wrong, it is not just a possible legal or moral wrong if it becomes a cry for violence, it is a waste of time and energy. The answer to our problem is not found by putting on camouflage and running around in the woods telling your friends, who are probably telling ATFE or the FBI what your dreams are, that you are a Colonel in the Unorganized Militia. The answer is to get yourself elected to the local school board and your local political party's County Committee. I am not arguing against the 2nd Amendment or saying that competent people who know what they are doing can't train and I even thought the Minutemen observing on the border seemed to be trying to do right but the focus on revolution or withdrawal from the legal order is not only legally dangerous, and a great discourtesy I would think to others who do not want to be associated with it but it is sure to discredit the conservative opposition. Try winning some elections for a change.

Today I heard Lindsay Graham use waterboarding and eye gouging in the same sentence, implying we had done both. The sad thing was that the man was trying to head off proceedings by the Democrats to indict Bush era lawyers.

Everyone breaks under torture. That is why every pilot, I was not an aviator as you can tell by my ability to use two syllable words, goes through SERE school where they will learn their breaking point.

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"One more day"

I’ve said it before that my idea for a game changing Amendment would be one that says that no person can hold the Franchise to act as an Elector for any office at a level of government from which they derive the majority of their income, except for enlisted members of the armed forces and officers called to active duty for up to 4 years during a time of war or national emergency as declared by Congress. That means that state workers, including members of the teacher’s unions, would not get to vote in state or local elections and federal employees or contractors would not get to vote for Congress. It would probably also disenfranchise most prisoners.

Second proposal is to repeal the 17th Amendment.

Also no person who is not a properly registered voter should be allowed to expend on or contribute money to any campaign by any candidate for any office or question that will appear on any ballot conducted under the authority of the United States or any of them.

(who suggested forming a Congressional Conservative Caucus)
Unnecessary, since the liberals have almost all left the Republicans and the Democrats drove their conservatives out or they bolted long ago. Before Reagan both parties were big tents but that is no longer true. The Democrats did succeed in running candidates who looked more conservative than the Republican in several recent elections but as the metamorphosis of Gallibrand in NY shows it was often just cosmetics. Some moderate Democrats might help sustain a Republican maneuver in the House or a filibuster in the Senate but very few will change their caucus. The cost of joining the minority is enormous and they know that Pelosi and Rahm Emannuel will stop at nothing for vengeance. Also if they are anticipating that Acorn induced reapportionment will seal control for Move-On Soros Democratic machine then they have little incentive to defect to the Republicans or any new grouping.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Sun Also Rises

Amanda Gordon is back blogging her Out and About column on the NY Sun website. This sign of life is the best news I have heard in months. She was the last to post an entry on the day the paper shut down.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Modern Times"

My guess is that a large part of the reason why the Times is failing is that for too long it has lived for itself
That can not be improved on. The Pulitzers are cited as a measure of quality but what do they really represent? A technical gloss to some extent, the residue of capital expended or "gold plating" and above all the approval of the Pulitzer Committee. But the Committee are just another face for the same self referential set that populate the Times' editorial board. The Pulitzer is no longer an independent measure of journalistic excellence than the Nobel Prize is an independent measure of the recipient's contribution to making the world a safer place.

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The Gates defense budget"

One of the frustrating things about Obama's far left wing policies is that their is such an enormous disconnect between his actions and his rhetoric. Obama is not a Socialist if by that you mean an advocate for traditional proletarian society. He has done or proposed nothing that would benefit industrial labor. He has worked to advance the interests of other groups who see themselves as antagonistic to traditional capitalism and attendant power structures. The groups that he aligns with, environmentalists, radical lawyers, foreigners, racial and sexual outsiders, may have been historically aligned with the Socialists in opposition to the Conservatives so they can be called a New New Left but that does not mean that their interests are those of American Labor.

If someone who really wanted to focus on strengthening the economy and rapidly benefitting labor had taken office in January 2009 they would have followed policies similar to those that helped lift America out of Depression in 1938-39. The simple answer to deindustrialization is, now wait for the big surprise, industrialization. The one thing the government can rapidly do to employ people and stimulate industrial production is expand the military. If instead of the $2 Trillion porkulus bill that pours money into quicksand like Acorn and Swiss bank accounts we had bought what strengthens the US the economy would already be rebounding.

We should be cutting steel to build ships, tanks, artillery and airplanes. We should be raising at least 10 more army divisions and reversing the BRAC policies that closed bases. We should be building steel mills and shipyards and power plants. We can do it.

It really would be so easy to fix. A politician who actually said to the people that a 1980 standard of living was good enough and surplus wealth would not be sent to China for a plasma TV but instead would go to China Lakes to train attack pilots might rally support. Properly done military procurement is even less environmentally destructive than consumer spending. Don't send Chavez money for oil, send him two Carrier Battle Groups. Don't send Somalia tribute and visas, send them a dozen Littoral Combat Ships.

Gates, “In the 21st century, how much amphibious capability do we need?”
We may not need to land a Marine Division across an opposed beach again but we may need to insert a battalion sized force on short notice in a distant location. Grenada was a good example of the continuing viability of the classic amphibious model. What deployed marine expeditionary forces give is presence and a rapid reaction time. The first cannot be done by ground based airpower alone. The ability to have combat ready marines within a day's sailing time of any likely crisis provides a capability that airborne troops do not replace. The vast majority of humanity live within range of sea based assault.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Mosquito versus man"

Mass has an effect beyond lethality. If the purpose of the combat is to compel compliance with some desired goal on the part of a population then what is desired is a psychological impact. For tactical operations the ability to destroy any single target with precision is helpful. It can certainly impress the observer by convincing them that no location is safe. It can vastly complicate the targets defensive measures and inhibit their ability to plan and launch offensive operations. However to actually win a war you need to convince a target population that resistance is not only futile but that submission is logical. That means that you must conform to their expectations of what a victorious power is. Otherwise the war will never end. So in order to conquer you need boots on the ground and in order to break an enemies will to resist you need to have mass available.

If you want to kill one enemy commander or one fuel depot then 2 cruise missiles launched by an over the horizon destroyer or a drone are sufficient. If you want to destroy an army or break a nation then it does more good to use 16" shells from a battleship that they can see or fly 100 B-52s over them raining dumb bombs. Is that technique crude, destructive and expensive? Yes it is but it is more likely to end a war then an unending series of surgical strikes.

For this reason I wish the US Army still had 8" artillery tubes and I wish that we had destroyed Fallujah in a way that the Soviet trained arab armies would understand, Zhukhov style. We could have lined up 200 tubes at one end of the city and eaten our way from North to South. Unlike the Russians I would provide for routes for civilians to escape and humanitarian aide.

(who noted that Clinton is in the Presidential succession line after Pelosi)
But she's the Smartest Woman in the World, also you forgot the President pro tempore of the Senate.

Remember how the Republicans put Tip O'Neill's face up on TV and won in 1980? There should be a series of huge billboard posters hanging from overpasses across America;
Biden, Boxer, Pelosi "The Stupid Party"

The Democrats prosper on sizzle not substance so the Republicans should relentlessly attack them and ridicule them as uncool. We must make it embarrassing to be seen as a Democrat. Once that happens they will vanish like 3 day old fish.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The universe of low lifes"

Another case in which two men, each with a purpose driven life, meet and dispel all pretense of illusion.
James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

The inability of the literate class to deal with life's gritty realities has been a theme in literature at least as far back as Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh and was witheringly portrayed by Emil Jannings in The Blue Angel. One argument for the tradition of equating the governing class with the military officer corps was that active service is an education in the practical arts and the limits of theory. The practice of agriculture has similar effects and the governing class were traditionally engaged in landed pursuits rather than trade or the learned professions. Indeed the academic life was reserved for younger sons, whose advice was deeply suspect, and the clergy was infamously reserved for the fool in the family.

I think this is important. True he has said this before and is out of power but I wonder if complacent dinosaurs felt the tectonic plates shift and knew that the old safe world was passing.

Japanese politician is thinking of the unthinkable.
Nakagawa floats sobering option: going nuclear
Kyodo News
Japan should consider possessing nuclear weapons as a deterrent to a neighboring threat, former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa suggested Sunday.

In a speech in Obihiro, Hokkaido, in reference to North Korea's rocket launch earlier this month that many believe was a ballistic missile test, the hawkish lawmaker said: "It is common sense worldwide that in pure military terms, nuclear counters nuclear."

In Sunday's speech, Nakagawa said he believes North Korea has many Rodong medium-range missiles that could reach almost any part of Japan and also has small nuclear warheads.

"North Korea has taken a step toward a system whereby it can shoot without prior notice," he said. "We have to discuss countermeasures."

He added that public discussions must be promoted on what has long been considered a national taboo: whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons.

Nakagawa stepped down as finance minister in February over what appeared to be drunken behavior at an international news conference in Rome.

He has called for debate in the past on whether Japan should go nuclear, telling a TV program as chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council in October 2006 that the Constitution does not rule out Japan possessing nuclear arms.

Pyongyang that month carried out a nuclear test.

The side story to this reporting by the NY Times, on the less than novel fact that intelligence and police officers collect information from prostitutes, might be a play on the get out now sentiment that underlays much of their reporting. Remember how excited they got by the reports that the CIA was handing out Viagra™ to Afghan Warlords? They had the feminists seriously bleating, "We can't be a party to marital rape. Get out now." Once again they can demonstrate that our cause is tainted and immoral and therefor not worth fighting. It makes a good antidote to the heroic patrol piece.

Besides, there is no king,
be his cause never so spotless,
if it come to the arbitrement of swords,
can try it out with all unspotted soldiers
So, if a son that is by his father sent about
merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the
imputation of his wickedness by your rule, should be
imposed upon his father that sent him: or if a
servant, under his master's command transporting a
sum of money, be assailed by robbers and die in
many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the
business of the master the author of the servant's
damnation: but this is not so: the king is not
bound to answer the particular endings of his
soldiers, the father of his son, nor the master of
his servant; for they purpose not their death, when
they purpose their services. Besides, there is no
king, be his cause never so spotless, if it come to
the arbitrement of swords, can try it out with all
unspotted soldiers: some peradventure have on them
the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder;
some, of beguiling virgins with the broken seals of
perjury; some, making the wars their bulwark, that
have before gored the gentle bosom of peace with
pillage and robbery. Now, if these men have
defeated the law and outrun native punishment,
though they can outstrip men, they have no wings to
fly from God: war is his beadle, war is vengeance;
so that here men are punished for before-breach of
the king's laws in now the king's quarrel: where
they feared the death, they have borne life away;
and where they would be safe, they perish: then if
they die unprovided, no more is the king guilty of
their damnation than he was before guilty of those
impieties for the which they are now visited. Every
subject's duty is the king's; but every subject's
soul is his own. Therefore should every soldier in
the wars do as every sick man in his bed, wash every
mote out of his conscience: and dying so, death
is to him advantage; or not dying, the time was
blessedly lost wherein such preparation was gained:
and in him that escapes, it were not sin to think
that, making God so free an offer, He let him
outlive that day to see His greatness and to teach
others how they should prepare.

(who noted that post 9-11 the US can only bribe people of "good moral character")
We can only pay bribes to law abiding figures who do not take bribes. Joseph Heller would be proud.
Robert Torricelli was a Senator at the time of that piece of arrogance.
The British were famous for being more realistic about the way things work. In Miles Copeland's The Game of Nations he recounts that the Americans sent efficiency experts to Egypt in the 1950s who offered Nasser a plan to improve government services while reducing staff and cutting costs. The British sent a delegation who showed him how at a small cost in efficiency he could hire twice as many low paid clerks to do the same job. Nasser thanked the Americans politely and did business with the British.

Comment on The Belmont Club,

Juxtapose the two locations of Afghanistan and New Zealand. In one you have young men from the living heart of Western Civilization, the New World, who confront and overthrow the forces of ancient obscurantism and bigotry in a location as remote as the moon. They are there because in a moment of energy the heart of the civilization knew that the Enemy, an irreducible evil, must be tracked to its lair. The place these men come from is vigorous, engaged to the world, dynamic and inclusive but deeply connected to the both the past and the future. On the other you have an outpost of an old empire that seeks security in withdrawal and isolation. It has become almost a Disneyland museum of the past, cosseted and protected by those whose sacrifices it resents. How fitting that the Tolkien books were filmed there. If America has assumed the role of Gondor standing a weary watch in an unending war then New Zealand has sought the peace of Gondolin hiding in a secret world.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Your turn"

Obama has achieved an own goal hat trick. If BHO and his apparatchiks really believe that under BushCheneyMcChimpyHalliburtonHitler the United States committed War Crimes or Crimes against Humanity then he has to prosecute. By issuing the charge through the press and then absolving the operatives he has effectively given them a pass for "just following orders." That is one thing the US can never permit. The Europeans and World Court enthusiasts have to fight this because if the precedent stands then no one can ever be prosecuted at the Hague, or anywheres else on a human rights issue, except maybe for a Head of State. The only way out now is for the US to issue a big thick report exonerating the use of these methods, which is also of course impossible for Obama to do. The White House and its staff are exposed as again as clumsy children. Random diplomats are going to start giving our people at the UN wedgies as a casual greeting in passing.

Enjoying the "Holiday from History" ride folks? Remember It's A Small World, just ignore that munching sound coming from the bend in the tunnel.

For anyone who needs a good laugh, the Media and the Pirates, after no doubt protracted negotiations, have settled on a story. The Pirates are Green Heros who were driven to their wild ways by a need to protect the environment, the scamps. Nato Frees Pirate Hostages, Belgian Ship Seized
The commandos briefly detained and questioned the seven gunmen, he told Reuters, but had no legal power to arrest them.
"NATO does not have a detainment policy. The warship must follow its national law," he said.
"They can only arrest them if the pirates are from the Netherlands, the victims are from the Netherlands, or if they are in Netherlands waters."
The Somali government plans to present its proposals to combat the sea gangs at a major donors' meeting on Somalia in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.
It says it needs more money to tackle insecurity on land and to provide jobs for the country's many out-of-work young men.
Most of Somalia's pirate gangs operate from the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, where many of them say they first took to the seas to stop illegal fishing by European fleets and the dumping of toxic waste.

(who asked if Obama's acts were "either a clueless act of an idiot or a very clever and dangerous deceit of a man intent on doing great harm to this country. Which is worse?")
It is far worse if he is part of organized conspiracy to harm the United States. How can you even ask which is worse? If he is simply an over-promoted fraud then in theory that could even restrain near peer competitors such as Russia and China. The one thing mature power realists fear is uncertainty, with the attendant risk of accidental war. Revolutionary competitors, such as Iran, may not feel those constraints if America undergoes an epileptic seizure. If the President is proven to be simply spectacularly incompetent then in theory it could be treated as a disabling condition under the 25th Amendment. That would only apply of course if the Cabinet and the Congress were up to the task of taking power from the President. In theory he could contest the action. In effect the amendment gives the Cabinet the power to serve as a second forum to move for the impeachment of the President.

Unfortunately given the composition of the Congress and the Cabinet at this time that scenario is not worth speculating on. After 2010 it may be a different situation. For the present however things do not look good.

Putin keeps moving the chess pieces

The Black Sea Fleet going on maneuvers could indicate a move towards Georgia. Or it could indicate a move on the Ukraine. Very serious people are making plans and moving the pieces into position while Obama persists in replaying Clinton's "Holiday from History"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Retrospective Iraq"

The justification for the Iraq war was never intended to be a clear and present threat of WMD. That was only cited by Colin Powell as a legalism at the UN and seized on by the press after the fact as a discreditable element. The American reason for the Iraq operation was always that it was part of the GWOT because the MIddle East's culture of totalitarian aggression, whether rooted in Islam or Marxism or elsewhere, was a persistent threat to the security of the United States. Now Ricks is proclaiming ex cathedra that democracy can not take root in the region and that after all of our expenditure of blood and treasure we will only end up with a younger smarter Saddam. Certainly the situation antebellum was intolerable and there is no way to be sure what Iraq or other places will be like in 5 or 10 years. Clearly democracy has some effect on local culture, whether or not that will prove to be as viral as Natan Sharansky predicts will have to be seen. The presence of thousands of Americans in a country for ten years also has a powerful impact on the culture. It is possible that a persistent American policy of targeting aggressive totalitarians, coupled with support for democratic institutions, female education and a shift to a less dependent energy relationship to the region, would produce results in line with initial expectations. Much of the initial opposition to the war and the occupation was always rooted in hostility to any change in the institutional supports that underlay the Baathist regime and it's corrupting influence. The attacks on the US policy always quickly start with complaints about the disbandment of the old Iraqi Army as having created the insurgency. This claim is so brazen as to defy reasoned criticism. Of course we eliminated the old army when we conquered the place. When you have a war and conquer a country that is a given. It is fair to say that far to few troops were used initially and we failed to secure vast ammunition stocks. That was partly a flaw in Rumsfeld's plan, rooted in a desire to transform the military and a belief that Congress would only support war on the cheap. It was also a by product of the treachery of the French, fed by the same corrupting regime that we were dissolving along with its army and paid media links, that pressured Turkey to keep the 4th Infantry Division out. To this day I believe that while the WMD were not the overriding basis for America to attack there were programs that were only suspended and that stocks were evacuated during the long delay time that Chirac gave to Saddam.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Culture post of the day"

Regarding the Homeland Security report "Rightwing Extremism."
We saw this before under Clinton. Most things in this administration are a rehash of the Bubba years, except for the bits that are worse. There was much hyperventilating in the press about "right wing militias." Upon inspection they fairly uniformly turned out to be a collection of underachievers who would have a hard time taking over a corner pool hall. Unfortunately though the atmosphere did encourage, he was already unhinged, Timothy McVeigh. My advice is to keep doing the hard work of basic politics. Do not abandon the public square and do nothing that can be used to discredit the opposition.

CPT. Charles,
(who gave 2 reasons for the DHS report, to provoke and incite foolish speech by Republicans and to scare off Democrats from the Tea Parties)
Anyone who starts spinning calls for violence or racial theories should look in the mirror and know that they have let their enemy get within their OODA loop. Once they do that they can no longer be part of the public fight, they have effectively made themselves a casualty in the struggles to come. Also they have potentially damaged their host's club, which is bad manners.

(who is doubts a linguist's claim that English words are 10,000 years old)
Even 10,000 years ago they thought about Courage and Fear and Good and Evil, they looked at the stars and wondered and they saw a girl dance in a meadow full of flowers, and they believed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"As the world turns, and turns"

Square the circle. Send navy dentists to Somalia to pull their teeth out.
We should make Robert Byrd happy. Congress should issue a proper Declaration of War if Somalia does not accede to our list of demands. Make the list lengthy, make them submit to supervision under the Trusteeship Council and give up their seat in the UN. Also revoke all visas for Somali nationals in the US, except for a maximum of 50 in the H1-B fashion model category.

(who decried the abuse of language by politicians),
When they spend your money they call it an investment.

E. Nigma
(who called for Special Operations Forces to free the pirates' prisoners),
To do it right takes a little planning.
1. Get some enabling act through Congress to conduct Piracy suppression
     operations in Somalia and adjacent territories, note that no special
     authorization is needed on the High Seas.
2. Set up interdiction sites outside of the coastal ports where the captives
     are being held.
3. Disable a merchant ship or three that are being held for ransom.
     Let the owners scream, acts of war are not covered by insurance.
4. Rescue some prisoners held in a port, 4 days later repeat elsewhere,
     repeat again.
5. When they panic and try to escape inland with their hostages
     intercept them, head them off at the pass.

Gaffe Prices
(who said Obama is a fool for letting the media set his agenda),
The way to stop letting the noisy tail wag the dog is to start being a little asymmetric yourself. If we started to yank Saudi student visas and otherwise discovered all sorts of problems in any paperwork that some influential person who's wife's second cousin happened to be married to someone from Somalia wanted, for getting the occupancy certificate for their Minneapolis 7-11 for example, then there would be a lot less laughing and a lot more motivated people shutting down the Cash and Carry and Merchant's Bank of Ayda.

Comment on The Belmont Club,

(who asked if the Red Shirts are Leninist agitators with Chinese backing),
Concur with your concern, that being a topic I have raised in the regional sense on other threads. If China is preparing the ground for a long term plan that includes a resource drive to the South then some involvement in Thailand is predictable. However I thought that the prior Yellow Shirt rioters were more likely to be Chinese stand ins. This is not an area I claim any expertise on. Who are the Moslems backing? Who are the Chinese backing? Can we come up with a set of players, as in Pakistan, and chart their interests?

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"How should the crew have responded?"

While I do believe that merchant vessels should have an arms locker with shotguns and handguns it is also true that we can expect the pirates to respond by carrying RPGs that could cause real damage if they are repelled. US merchants are trained to use water hoses on boarders and outrunning the small craft is usually a successful tactic. Eventually we will have to carry the fight to the enemy. That means stating clearly that Somali civilians do not have a right to engage in traditional pursuits such as fishing if their doing so provides cover for pirates attacking our traditional right to engage in commerce on the high seas. We need to shut down the Somali coast and begin bombarding the ports ubtil the threat of piracy ends. The Littoral Combat Ship was designed for just this mission so the Navy can not be accused of having ignored the threat.

At Home: When seconds count, trained qualified certified professional help
                     is only minutes away.

At Sea:      When seconds count, trained qualified certified professional help
                     is only hours away.

LarryD (who pointed out the pirates intercept ships far from shore),
The purpose of the LCS is to do as its name says. It will control piracy by blockading harbors, intercepting small boats and support ships and shelling port facilities as needed. It is not designed to be a convoy escort, that being the role of the frigates. Some time ago Wretchard had a classic post that began with a passage from Joseph Conrad in which a tumbledown hull Western ship is shelling a jungle. He was perspicacious, we now need low cost floating gunfire platforms. With luck we get back to the habit of sending our busybodies off to the jungle to assume missionary positions while the gentlemen's reward for a full day of commerce or justice or bashing the unseen will include Singapore Slings. The bad news will be a return of savage land wars and really complicated female undergarments.

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Circular running torpedo"

On the margin it appears that England has a greater diversity of press voices that are less likely to universally suppress a story than the American press. It isn't that their prejudices are any better on average but that on some level the culture supports greater irreverence and more risk taking. Perhaps this is a benefit from the ghost of the old class system. The Prime Minister is just a Head of Government politician and not a Head of State. As perceived members of the working class rather than public intellectuals, as the more pretentious American press view themselves, the British reporters show little deference to each others allegiances or to the politicians.

James Hacker MP: I know exactly who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country. The Times is read by people who actually do run the country. The Daily Mirror is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by people who own the country. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country. The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Prime Minister, what about people who read the Sun?

Bernard Wooley: Sun readers don't care who runs the country as long as she's got big tits.

Question Time is a great idea. Obama's scripted press sessions, where he actually refers to a list of reporters to call on and reads answers off a screen, are no way to hold a politician accountable. The Confederate Constitution actually had a provision for questioning Cabinet officers inserted in Article I, section 6.
But Congress may, by law, grant to the principal officer in each of the Executive Departments a seat upon the floor of either House, with the privilege of discussing any measures appertaining to his department.
If the Electoral College was working as intended no one would become President until they had spent many years establishing a track record of achievement and sound judgement under close observation and questioning by leading citizens.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Heading it off at the pass"

Somalia with nuclear weapons.

Let us do a break down of the interest groups in Pakistan and see how we can deal with them.
1. The potentially pro-Western commercial middle class, the
     Zardawi/Bhutto faction.
2. The anti-American intellectual and legal lower middle class, the
     Narwaz Sharif faction.
3. The professional military, potentially anglophile and pro-American,
     the Musharraf faction.
4. The anti-American, possibly Chinese influenced, pro Taliban
     ISI military faction.
5. Ethnic groups, from the half the country that are Punjabi to the
     Pashtuns that support the Taliban to the Baluchis in the South
     and others. Here is the wiki chart.

Punjabi 81,000,000 (45%)
Pashto  20,790,000 (15%)
Sindhi   20,520,000 (14%)
Seraiki  18,000,000 (10%)
Urdu      12,600,000 (07%)
Balochi   5,400,000 (03%)
Others  10,800,000 (06%)

1. We could try to craft a deal but the problems are twofold, they may not be strong enough to stay in charge and they are so corrupt that we are not sure that they will even stay bought.

2. Also so duplicitous and corrupt that they are likely to betray each other, the reverse of our problem with Zardari is that even their anti-American allies can't trust the Pakistani lawyers.

3. The allies also of the old aristocracy the Army may split apart, can the US or the Indians find what looks like an honorable way to buy them out?

4. We should know our enemies. If we can't buy off Chinese support then we need to rally allies to crush the Chinese and ISI influence. The only third choice is to get out.

5. If Pakistan can't hold together or if it is not in our interest for it to then we should seek to find winners to ally with. That could mean finding a solution with the old aristocracy and the Musharraf Army and the Punjabis, the Baluchis, the Sind and the Indians that neuters the nuclear threat and pushes the Pashtun threat back from the Indus valley and opens up the road to Kandahar.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Then there was one pirate"

Let me push my argument on the last thread farther with a hypothetical. Let us say that the United States dispensed with the legal fiction that Somalia was a normal state with a functioning government possessing the attributes of sovereignty, including defined borders, a monopoly on violence and effective governance. At this time the United States holds that every land territory on earth outside of Antarctica, which is governed as is the Moon by a special treaty status, is part of some functioning nation state. Until fairly recent times there were three categories of territory and the inhabitants of them each were under a different status.

First were the Westphalian Nation States, responsible for their own conduct and that of their citizens. These included the European Empires, the United States, The Ottoman Empire (despite acknowledged problems) Japan, China (more problems) and Latin American countries (occasional problems.) Second were the dependancies, protectorates or colonies of the nations in the first category. To varying degrees the senior partner assumed responsibility for the conduct of these territories and of their inhabitants in international relations. For example, if a native of an Indian Princely State in treaty relationship with the British Crown got arrested in Berlin then the British embassy would see that certain basic rights were observed. The United States would I believe have been in a similar position for a member of an Native American Indian tribe before all Native American were granted citizenship. Third were wild and unclaimed territories inhabited by savages or aborigines who were outside the law of nations. There have not been any such territories that I am aware of since Africa was divided up at the Berlin Conference of 1884.

So if the United States declared that we held that Somalia had reverted to the status of unexplored Africa of 125 years ago what would change? For one thing it would change the status of Somalis who encounter the military or legal agents of another country. Right now if a Somali is in the United States they are either here pursuant to their being admitted with a visa or they are on temporary parole or they entered without inspection (EWI) but even in the last case they have some limited rights. Those rights are partly in US domestic law but also because both the United States and Somalia are signatories to treaties in which we agree to treat each others nationals with a certain level of courtesy. Right now if a police officer found a Somali in Minneapolis standing over a body with a gun in his hand the officer would be expected to politely disarm and apprehend the individual and then respond to his request for aide by putting him in touch with his country's diplomats. In fact it is now almost unheard of for a law enforcement officer to inquire as to whether a suspect is legally in the United States. If the suspect was from a country whose government we did not have relations with, like Iran or North Korea, they would still have rights and some access to a diplomat who would act in their interest. If Somalia, or some other place, was considered truly lawless then that would change. In theory the officer could determine that they had entered without inspection and that would place the alien in the status of being an invading enemy combatant who was out of uniform and therefore not subject to the protections of the Geneva Protocols. The officer could then in theory kill the alien but it would probably not be a career enhancing move.

Comments on The Belmont Club,

There is no reason to assume that the Navy was under orders not to open fire if the hostage got clear. Obama is running everything through Attorney General Holder but engagement would be the protocol in that event even in a civilian law enforcement hostage situation. The pirate's life should be forfeit but that could be achieved in a legal process. There is precedent for executing pirates after a trial, for example William Kidd.

My preference now?
We're going to give you a fair trial, followed by a first-class hanging.
- Sheriff Cobb (Brian Dennehy) in Silverado

The surviving pirate probably can not be turned over to a local authority for punishment because if they do anything to him then anyone purporting to be his relative could sue the United States for violating his civil rights. Lawyers have made it impossible to deliver any prisoner to any country that might provide a lower level of humanitarian protection than the jurisdiction holding them. In fact it is now impossible to extradite someone charged with murder from Europe to the United States. The reductio ad absurdum of this is to move an unlimited number of violent criminals to enlightened Western countries where they can not be punished and then allow them to petition to bring their relatives in to enjoy welfare and gain citizenship. That is why the Royal Navy is ordered to neither kill the enemy nor take them prisoner. Wounding is presumably also discouraged and making really loud noises could cause stress.

blert (who asked if we should hang him off Puntland),
In better days (harrumph harrumph) lawyers were never stationed onboard a US Navy ship. JAG Corps were strictly a shore based outfit. Captains held NJP (non-judicial punishment) Mast without a lawyer looking over their shoulder. If a sailor got cute and insisted on bringing outside counsel, as the Regulations permit, the Captain would nod, indicate where the lawyer could stand and observe, and order them to keep their mouth shut. Now it probably would be possible to conduct a trial at sea but I doubt it would be a good idea. We might as well bring him to Washington or Naval Station Norfolk and make the circus look good. The English would be better at that, full bottom wigs and Queen's Counsel Silk, but they no longer apply the death penalty. If we really wanted to make a heuristic point of it we would set up our gallows in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

In Mycenaean Hellas the traditional greeting when a ship full of young men arrived at your village was "Are you Pirates?" The answer depended on your appearance. If the visitors were met by a dozen adolescent girls and a few old men, because your young men were busy elsewhere, then the reply was "Yes we are" and there would be an exchange of movable property for genetic information. If on the other hand the strangers were met by a couple of dozen healthy lads brandishing sharp objects and your old man behind was waving his hands and calling on the Gods in a troubling way then the answer became "Us? Of course not! We're here to trade. Your olive oil is famous and we have wine from another island cheap, it fell off a cart."

fred (who felt that lawyers tolerate evil),
Lawyers do not have to want to make things worse. They just think that they are serving the abstract deity of process, who like Allah is whatever you make of him. What is needed is a new Geneva Convention that makes clear the status of "Unlawful Combatants" and Piracy and re-enables the distinction between civilized fully sovereign states and territories subject to protection and supervision.

Derek (who said it was "half retarded" to talk of denying the pirate a trial),
No, you are the one conflating cases and I will thank you not to resort to preemptive ad hominem attacks. As I stated it is possible to deal with pirates through the legal process and there is historical precedent but there is also historical precedent to dispatch pirates caught en flagrante with summary execution. Their position is analogous to that of spies caught out of uniform on the battlefield or saboteurs. Once the basic facts are established, which here are not in doubt, they simply do not have an absolute right to the protections that the national law gives to a citizen accused of a crime or that international law gives to a prisoner of war or for that matter that treaty grants to a citizen of a foreign nation accused of a crime.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Thinking it over"

Xinhua is very interested in this. China has effectively bought Australia's future. Rudd sold not just the product but the capital stock when he let China buy the mines. Now China can plan a move South, through the South China Sea and Indonesia. In effect they are repeating what Imperial Japan attempted 70 years ago, only the Chinese are proving more effective. My expectation is that Taiwan will be expected to submit quietly to the new order and Tibet will be scrubbed clean. China's long term plan is to control access to the resources of the Gulf both through a land route across Afghanistan and with a new Navy based in the Arabian Sea. Russia is not opposing this, they are coordinating with China through the Shanghai Cooperative Organization. The alternative for Putin would be a Chinese Strike North. The two wild cards are India and Japan.

Mark Steyn has not been refuted about demographics.
The surprise for me is that Russia does not get more exercised about the prospect of a Chinese presence in the 'Stans. While China can use Tibet to stare down at India it can't ship the resources by that route. The Pamirs are just to knotty. The route should be through the Dzungarian Gates and then South and West. Has Putin made a grand bargain in which he gets Eurasia, EU Nato with the Caspian oil and Arctic, and the Chinese get East, South, Central and South-West Asia? Maybe Turkey needs to be added to the list of countries that should have an opinion about this.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"The hand of Iran stretches West"

My hope is that the Hamas leaders in Gaza are scouting out locations in Egypt to retire to when Israel squeezes the toothpaste out of the tube. The use of Hezbollah is troubling but Iran has big plans. Fifty one years ago Egypt's Nasser absorbed Syria and Yemen in an escapade called The United Arab Republic. The result was geopolitical indigestion and three years later Egypt disgorged the meal. Now the Iranians are having big dreams of restoring the Sassanid Empire and are using their proxies in Syria to reach down to Egypt.

They have an American owned Italian flagged tug now

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - The head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program says Somali pirates have hijacked an American-owned tugboat with 16 crew in the Gulf of Aden.

Andrew Mwangura says maritime industry sources told him that the Italian-flagged boat was towing two barges when it was attacked.

Updated information says that the vessel is Italian flagged and has no US citizens onboard.

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Sitting in darkness"

On the WSJ designation of "Holbrooke of South Asia"
TE Lawrence, as Aircraftman Shaw, served in the wilds of British India.

What is needed is a mechanism that connects the cocooned elites to the realities of life. That is one reason that I believe in 6 months of universal military training after the 17th birthday.

steveaz (who wants to send young children to the 3rd world for 6 months),
You mean like sending young Barry Soetero to Indonesia?
Sure, that worked out OK.

My scheme is elegant on several levels. It recreates the distinction between childhood and adulthood that was a bright line in the West until after WW-I. It builds equality and teamwork as well as independence. It inculcates knowledge of the limits of collective organization and bureaucracy. It also allows for education in basic knowledge needed for citizenship and homeland defense survivability skills. Finally it permits the offer of further service via the Regular, Reserve or Guard forces with all benefits tied to service performed. Minimal service grants the right to vote, serve on a jury and serve as a poll inspector. Greater service to provide greater benefits, such scholarships (all to be administered through local Reserve centers or Armories), health care and Social Security.

Habu (who stressed the need to induce fear and force choices on savage enemies),
In fairness to F (who pointed out that a diplomat is not there to feel their pain but is there to deliver a message and learn what is needed to reach an agreement) a good diplomat has no problem with being the velvet glove on a mailed fist. Sometimes he might want the answer to his question “we hear you, now what’ll it take for you to stop killing us?” to be "All that it will take kind Sir is for you to make the big planes stop dropping bombs and make the silent men stop killing our people." If that is what you want then you send a diplomat in to smile and say ""Wonderful, now you understand we must be sure that you really mean it?" Absolutely the credibility of the threat of force must underlay the diplomat's craft. Unfortunately the left have so degraded the credibility of our threats that now more people have to die before the diplomat can restore peace with honeyed words.

steveaz (who was said my plan "would engorge diverse local groups"),
To be clear I do not believe in a two year "alternative service" program. That is just another form of involuntary servitude and an extremely inefficient tax scheme. I would have a single point of entry, with the bare minimum of variation needed to accommodate the physically handicapped. Any exemption from combat readiness training granted because of documented Conscientious Objection status should only apply to those limited modules that include firearms and hand to hand combat familiarization. That time should be used for tasks that are more demanding and less pleasant than the training that being missed. Only persons who complete the course should be eligible for any benefits. Exposure to recruitment opportunities by non-profits could certainly be part of the course, after exposure to the offers by the military and Homeland Security organization training. The later should include instruction on the role of FEMA and the Red Cross in event of disaster. Presentations by other groups that do community service would be appropriate. The Armories should become Community Centers, used to conduct training and support community groups on an ongoing basis. It would make sense to colocate them on or next to college campuses, especially Community Colleges.

Habu (who spoke of the CIA's frustration at the State Department over Vietnam),
Back around 1980 I was taking a Diplomatic History class with Akira Iriye. Two older gentlemen were in the class. One was MGEN Michael D. Healy, who was then commanding 5th Army at Fort Sheriden. To this day I count him as a friend. The other was a gentleman who's name escapes me but who had been a provincial officer in the central highlands during Tet. It was a very live part of my life, I knew the people and places we discussed but I was not there. You can forgive another for failing you but you can never forgive yourself for failing them. The knowledge that we had won the war and threw it away, betraying decent people who believed in us when we stopped believing in ourselves, is the cause of a sickness that eats away, driving the partisans of defeat to ever greater betrayals.

Your point about the cultural changes wrought by education in international relations has synergy with my scheme seeking the benefits of a targeted education program for domestic citizenship. The problem that I focused on was how to achieve the basic citizenship and skill training that should be done in the public schools but can not be due to the unions and government administration. Nothing would do Pakistan more good than 10,000 real sincere Social Workers and Guidance Counselors and committed liberal elementary school teachers, backed by hard men with guns. We should insist on their presence and also insist on free passage for missionaries from a dozen different faiths to go anywhere, but not just to clean up and heal, to actually preach their beliefs as freely as Muslims are allowed to preach.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Commandos free hostages in Somalia but …"

Give the French their due. They have always been cynical hypocrites about the use of force. Whether it was sinking the Greenpeace ship or staging commando raids in Africa, when faced with a national interest and an opportunity they have acted. Insulting Americans was merely the cheap coin paid to the Press to ensure that they were left alone. Like Obama’s pandering to the fetishes of the chattering class it has worked well and been rewarded by the memory hole swallowing a multitude of what in another party would be counted as sins. The French are understandably surprised that anyone else gets annoyed and they are completely oblivious of the idea that there could be larger issues of order and principle at stake when they impede the capacity of Anglo-Saxons to behave as the French do or act as the French would do if they had the capacity.

Habu (who commented on the need to instill fear in our enemies),
Not so much a disagreement as an elaboration lest we mix apples and oranges. Let us consider four possible situations.
1. You wish to find out the annual consumption of Khat in Puntland
2. You wish to find out how many pirates there are and their tribal
3. You wish to find out where the Ambassador's kidnapped daughter is,
     after a severed finger is delivered.
4. You wish to make sure that 50 years from now mothers in
     Puntland teach their sons never to touch a weapon.

In case number one you do not use force, except for implied blackmail, reliable technical information that is not critically time sensitive is best obtained through the craft of intelligence. The vast bulk of what we collect, either by technical or human means falls within this category.

In case number two it is unlikely that the use of force could be justified. Doing so usually shows a lack of skill and will get inaccurate results. While some time pressure may be felt to get tactically useful knowledge, like what bar the bad guys hang out in, a good intelligence service should be trying to build up that background information long in advance. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance and a failure to plan in advance is revealed by sloppy measures under pressure. In fairness though, it is a very big world and we have shockingly few intelligence collectors and analysts. If only the Beast was as large and all knowing as the fantasies of conspiracy theorists.

In case number three you may want to convince the subject being interrogated that cooperation is their only option. That could be by shooting a corpse, as in the untouchables, or convincing them that you are targeting their family, or waterboarding them, or threatening to disgrace their memory. In the end you may feel compelled to go for an eye for an eye but first you have to ask yourself some questions. First what will break them? Unless you are a sexual sadist what you want is an answer. If they seek martyrdom then don't give them what they want. Study what you know about them and work with the shrinks if you can. Second consider the damage to yourself and weigh this against the value of the information. Maybe the Ambassador's daughter is worth it. Maybe she is really Jane Fonda and you offer the bad guy a beer. Maybe that trick works.

Situation number four is easy and what you focused on. In the long term if you want to change their culture kill some of them, and convince the rest that far from being fat paper tigers we really are as dangerous as the members of the junior faculty commons room at University claimed we were, and then give them Lifetime TV.

Comment on Theo Spark,
"Caption Time ...."

What's this, laying down on the job? Your work space is a disgrace soldier. Just look at all this dirt and is that trash I see over there? Pick it up man, go ahead pick it up. I'm coming back in thirty minutes and this place had better be inspection ready. How do you expect to win this war if you can't get the respect of the natives? Impress them man, impress them.

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Teach the free man how to praise"

Wretchard nails it regarding the hypocrisy of the self proclaimed Aristos. As noted on the Doppelganger thread they are those who identify with the enemies of law and progress against the productive middle class. Historically a strong executive has allied with the middle class against the elites.

jerryofva (who praised how Giuliani reduced crime in NYC),
Rudy's NY Way is the same as The Untouchables Chicago Way. Both are better than Obama's Chicago Way.

The sticking point for the NY Times and others who are tying themselves into knots to prevent the time honored and effective response to the 4,000 year old problem of piracy is that making a distinction between pirates and regular criminal defendants, who are now allowed like juveniles to argue that their deprived conditions are mitigating if not exculpatory, admits the historical veracity of the distinction between lawful and unlawful combatants that underlay the Bush/Cheney policy in the Global War on Terror. Given that the first and over-riding priority is the political cause of invalidating all works of Bush/Cheney McChimpyhalliburton small issues like real world life and death and the freedom of commerce on which our liberties and prosperity depend pale in significance.

buckets (who wants the US to do less until others "step up" to do more),
You are wrong on this one. For one thing there really is a common interest at sea. All sailors of any nationality have two absolute obligations, one is to assist anyone in distress at sea and the other, a related subset really, is to aide in the suppression of piracy. At the nastiest moments of the Cold War if a Soviet sailor had fallen overboard the U.S. navy would have rescued him and there was no doubt in our minds that if one of us fell overboard a Russian ship would render assistance. On one occasion it is said that an American carrier ordered a Soviet shadow to assume rescue destroyer station during flight operations. Ivan reportedly did so and much mirth and some grief followed. "It's not our problem" is never the answer at sea.

peterike (who wishes we had seized the oil),
The Colonial powers did not give up their empires out of a sense of misplaced guilt, although some polemicists certainly advocated for that reason. The vacuous fools of sixty year ago were no smarter but possibly less influential than self important blowhards like Frank Rich or the tenured radicals of today. They gave up and withdrew because they were bankrupt after two world wars and America did not want to pay for their imperial adventures while we were facing the looming Cold War. In 1847 India was seen as an asset to England but in the world of fixed Bretton Woods exchange rates and free trade that was taking shape in 1947 the Raj was considered a net loss. Without India, the Dominions having been spun off in 1931, there was no reason for the British to hold on to all of the colonies. Similar conditions pushed for the withdrawal of the French and the Dutch. Some wanted to hang on, for prestige or for control of resources, but few argued that it was more economically beneficial to garrison and govern than to allow the bankers to work their magic and simply buy whatever the places produced.

Remember how the Arabs raised the price of oil 35 years ago? After a short sharp shock the Western banks absorbed the transfered money. What else could the oil sheiks do with it? A passing inflationary episode ensured that little real wealth was seen as sticking to the Arabs and the real losers turned out to be the poor countries of sub-saharan Africa. The rise in petroleum prices killed the Green Revolution. Unfortunately the Arabs and the Chinese learned the lesson and spent the last few decades learning how to handle money. The growth of Sovereign Wealth Funds is a way that they have transfered real wealth and power away from the West.

Would Britain be better off if she had tried to hold on to India? Maybe but India is probably wealthier and more likely to be our friend now as an independent country. Maybe we would have been better off if when the Move On crowd had chanted "It's a war for oil" we had replied, "Hell yes" and broken OPEC. Remember the locals who live where the oil is found are almost never the same ethnic and religious groups that control the governments and profit from the oil trade.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"At Sea"

Pirate ships converge on US hostage at sea. This is not a movie. This is proof that you get what you pay for. As RaviT said on the Yo-ho-ho thread, pirates are hostis humani generis, The Enemies of All Mankind. We are always in a state of war with pirates. Their homes should be leveled by carpet bombing and naval gunfire. The duty of the government is first to protect the rule of law and the inviolability of the Constitution. While every effort should be made to rescue the hostages safely the fact is that the life of any individual is not more important than the destruction of the pirates.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Sadr City"

Wretchard has linked to a fine example of Journalism by Michael Totten.

Reuters has its response ready, AP has a similar article.
Six years on, huge protest marks Baghdad's fall
By Mohammed Abbas and Aseel Kami – Thu Apr 9, 5:49 am ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of followers of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr thronged Baghdad on Thursday to mark the sixth anniversary of the city's fall to U.S. troops, and to demand they leave immediately.

"Down, down USA," the demonstrators chanted as a Ali al-Marwani, a Sadrist official, denounced the U.S. occupation of Iraq that began with the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, and the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Firdos Square.
The crowds of Sadr supporters stretched from the giant Sadr City slum in northeast Baghdad to the square around 5 km (3 miles) away.

Protesters burned an effigy featuring the face of former U.S. President George W. Bush, who ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and also the face of Saddam.
The enemies of Bush and the war simply will refuse to accept victory. They want defeat and they will keep pushing until they get it.

Iran is patient but they have lined up many chess pieces. In ten years we may get reports about how close they were to collapsing, such reports came out of Vietnam after America gave up. Now they can smell victory and the pawns are starting to move.

Nahncee (who asked how Iran can afford to cause all this trouble),
That is why they need Obama’s insane efforts to raise the price of energy. He is acting in their interest. Also they have struck deals with both China, for the natural gas fields, and with Russia, to make life hell for America. As I said above they must be near the brink, if Obama had lost the Mullahs would be just about looking for jobs in Western colleges by now.

Comments on The Belmont Club,

You have a point about the alliance of elites and outsiders against the working class. The Roman Emperors from Augustus on employed the Equestrian class against the Senatorial class and championed the cause of the Plebeians. Caesar was a leader of the Populares. Successful English Kings allied with the Commons against the Lords.

Both George Bush and John McCain expended enormous political capital seeking to build an alliance with hispanics. Certainly in McCain’s case that effort was wasted and he has expressed some feeling of bitterness. It will demand enormous discipline, not their salient feature recently, for the Republicans to assert that they are both for immigration and for the rule of law. The hypocrisy that has allowed loopholes to be created, or enforcement to be curtailed, for commercial interests must be stopped. At the same time real resources must be devoted to doing the level of investigation needed to verify an applicants eligibility for a visa. Right now our system is so broken that it is often irrational for a legitimate applicant to apply within the system as compared to a person who would in the normal course of business be rejected but who stands a better chance of gaining permanent residence by entering illegally and then establishing a presence such as a family.

Anyone who Enters Without Inspection (EWI) should be banned from ever gaining citizenship. No child of an EWI should be granted citizenship. The only exception to that should be if that child was conceived by an American mother as a result of an act of nonconsensual sex, that is to say a rape, that has been reported and certified in a legal proceeding. Customs and Border Protection Officers have less than 30 seconds to evaluate an applicant who does report for inspection at an entry port. Fraud such as providing false information at that point should invalidate the entry and subject the alien to immediate removal and a permanent bar on reentry.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,

Barack Obama explains to Ann Coulter that at his command, the rains came.

Scientists know that this climate hysteria is bad science but they also know that it opens the funding spigot. This is what we get because adults who knew better saw a cash cow amble by and decided to grab some milk when they should have testified to have the Producers of "The Day After Tomorrow" locked up for child endangerment and later they should have helped send Al Gore away for fraud. Remember D.A.T., where the earth freezes because of Dick Cheney? The intelligentsia ooze contempt for the Boobs in Levittown America. The problem is that when there is a need to justify the deference granted to professionals they fail miserably.

One of the disadvantages of being a patrician is that occasionally you're obliged to act like one.
- Marcus Licinius Crassus in Spartacus

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum"

We have allowed the lawyers to create a series of conditions in which people in combat situations will have strong incentives not to take prisoners. The taking of prisoners is something to encourage for several obvious reasons. Taking them provides intelligence, it encourage others to surrender, it strengthens the chain of command, and it permits Justice to be exercised in public by the formal organs that are vested with a dignity and formality that can be displayed to good effect.

Obama's magical mystery tour was an exercise in assuring the entire planet, formally our Nato allies but effectively everyone who can find a microphone, that they get a vote now on any use or threat of force by the United States. That is in fact nonsense on stilts. Obama had the bad taste when in England to ridicule the memory of our alliance with the old empire again when he disparaged the time when Roosevelt and Churchill could solve the world's problems over a brandy. There were good reasons for the special relationship and they had little to do with Jenny Churchill's parentage. First the world is an essentially lawless and violent place and no act of will can over-ride the basic differences between law within a sovereign civil society, and the use of precepts and codes to regulate conduct between states in the larger world, and finally the use of force by a state or states in response to actions by players where there is no legal remedy available. Specifically there is not a level playing field in the international arena, not all players are in fact fully in possession of a monopoly on the use of force within their territories and not all actors are equally legitimate or can be considered reliably as subscribing to the basic principles that any legal order depends on. Therefor there is no good reason to give free riders a veto over the use of power by those actors who both subscribe to the legal and moral principles desired and who have the physical capacity to act. There are still, indeed there may be growing, places on this planet that are simply not covered by a functioning legal and moral structure that would permit violence to be responded to by domestic forces.

This means that despite all the post modern preening and conferencing and shuffling of papers by well groomed advocates of inclusiveness the old system existed for good reasons in response to real world conditions and we have not improved on it. Pirates are "Against All Flags" and once their status is confirmed they should be executed. "Unlawful Combatants" are not the same as Prisoners of War and can be treated more peremptorily. Bush and Cheney were correct.

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Thought experiments"

Charles @ 28,
The big Christian heresy of the modern era has been Arianism–that holds that Jesus is fully man but not really God. ... Gnosticism was around when St Paul was writing. According to this heresy Jesus was Fully God but not really a man. According to this heresy all flesh is evil.

Very interesting points you make here. There is at least an intellectual ressonance between Arianism and Islam, the former holding that Jesus had a divine nature separate from the human and the later simply dispensing with his divinity. Mohammed was influenced by the widespread presence of Nestorian Christians in the Arabian peninsula. Nestorianism is a distinct heretical movement concerning the nature of the Christ that was more influential in the East, as Arianism was in the West.

Gnosticism can be seen as leading to the Albegensian Cathars and to other mystical rejections of orthodox Jewish or Christian doctrines. Eventually this can lead to Neopaganism and Gaia worship or even Satanism. Gnostic movements, such as Manichaeism were explicitly opposed to Jewish theology and practice and by stressing a division between God and the material world they set the stage for Islam's abstract and arbitrary deity.

markb (who explained that US nuke plants are not vulnerable to hackers),
Long ago and far away a bubblehead told me that Hyman Rickover made sure that all the controls on the nuclear plants he supervised were analog and in fact outside of the reactor itself the interfaces in one of his submarines remained right out of the 1940s. The reason was that people are good at responding to changes in an information flow they are interacting with but lousy at observing and reacting to a rare event in a digital display. No Homer Simpsons were wanted in the nuclear Navy.