Saturday, April 11, 2009

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.

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