Marine Corps University:

Here's a Master's thesis from Marine Corps University that's worth reading (PDF warning). It treats George Washington's role in the development of military intelligence. My congratulations to the author, LCDR Prather, US Navy, both on his thesis paper and on his good sense in choosing the Marine Corps University to pursue his military studies.

Yahoo! Mail -

Zell Miller:

I get the Honorable Zell Miller's weekly newsletter. I don't think it's available online, so I'd like to post a piece of this week's.

I am also pleased to announce I am a co-sponsor of S.J. Res. 26 along with Senator Allard and others, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage, as well as S.1558, the Liberties Restoration Act, which declares religious liberty rights in several ways, including the Pledge of Allegiance and the display of the Ten Commandments. And I join Senator Shelby and others with the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 that limits the jurisdiction of federal courts in certain ways.
This is going to be a rowdy summer in the Senate. Good on them for that--the Republic needs some clear thinking and forthright speech, just now.


Marine Corps Memoirs:

Friend and former Marine Bjorn sends this website, Marine Memoir. It's a great resource for sea stories and tales from our brothers in arms. I recommend it to you all.

Time to Watch Edwards (


David S. Broder has an article in the Post today called "Time to Watch Edwards". He's arguing that Edwards should get ready to step down and take a VP spot. Edwards, of course, came to win...

...and if these allegations are true, he just may. The Democrat polity has already concluded that Dean is a madman. If Kerry blows up, Edwards may be the last man standing.

The Spectre of Vietnam

The Spectre of Vietnam:

For about twenty years, every time the United States has considered an intervention we have heard about the "spectre of Vietnam." Exactly what that spectre represents is different in different minds, but it always boils down to the question of whether American military power can be effective in making changes in the world. Would not Americans be put off by rising casualty rates? By the fear of rising casualty rates? By the fear of brutalities or war crimes committed by exhausted troops? None of this is new; we've all heard it too often before.

America has done quite well in spite of the warnings. Still, it is arguable that the Spectre is responsible for a number of our current problems. It didn't stop us from acting in Grenada, but it might have been the reason that support for the Contras was banned by Congress. It didn't stop us in Bosnia, but it did restrict us to flying high-altitude missions that often struck wrong targets or were far less effective than they might have been backed by ground troops. It quite possibly did stop us from going in to Rwanda during the massacres. We know we had special ops troops ready and all but in the air when they were ordered to stand down.

Now we're in Iraq, having finally finished what was really a twelve-year war encompassing an eleven-year ceasefire-of-sorts. We're handling the guerrillas, and such evidence as there is in the open sources suggests that resistance is getting desperate enough to resort to Muslim-on-Muslim attacks, which will destroy their credibility and recruiting base in the long run. We are, in other words, winning--and the shockwaves of that victory are carrying to Pakistan, where Musharraf had to admit that AQ Khan was in fact guilty and force a confession from him; to Libya, where the Nuclear Black Market has been exposed by Gaddahfi's surrender; to Malaysia, where plants that have been churning out nuclear weapons' parts have been turned over to the CIA. While it is futile to hope that terrorism will cease to exist, it very well might be possible to win the Global War on Terrorism--to break up the international terrorist groups, and restrict terrorism to local or regional causes where it can do less harm.

But now we have a fellow running for President on the single theme: 'I am the Spectre of Vietnam!' He has already raised the ruinous banner of American military incompetence: the GWOT, he says, should not be a military enterprise at all. Yet the military enterprise is the one that has brought us the successes we've had in this war. If intelligence becomes again a powerful tool, it does so largely on the basis of military success--the recovery of mukhabarat documents in Iraq, of Qaeda manuals in Afghanistan, and the surrender of Libya and AQ Khan are all directly attributable to the military successes. They would not--not one of them--have happened otherwise.

Would the world be a better place? If we lay down arms, will it be a better place in five years? I do not see how anyone can argue or believe that.

Shadow Government

Shadow Government:

We've heard the term tossed around now and then, but it ought to be remembered that there really is one. Since the Eisenhower administration, the US gov't has been aware of the possibility of being knocked down by an atomic or nuclear strike. What the Shadow Government would look like is one of the more carefully guarded secrets--it has to be, in order to prevent enemy nations from targeting those assets at the same time that they target the Constitutional Government's assets.

Still, we can get a look at what the earliest days of the Shadow Government were like, thanks to these newly released letters. Most of them are warrants from Eisenhower to the people he wanted to lead the government in the days after a nuclear war, the possession alone of which entitled them to take command of large swathes of governmental power. As Eisenhower wrote, "This letter will constitute your authority."



If you're curious to see what the US Air Force's people, and the NSA, think about the Iranian government, you can read this unclass document (PDF warning). You can get a feel for Iran, but also for some of the social science techniques they're fiddling around with in the intel community. My feeling on the social sciences is that they're really social arts, and OK as long as you don't lose sight of that--conclusions drawn will always lack "scientific" credibility, but might still be useful as guideposts or navigational beacons.

The BBC says that Tax Freedom Day came earlier in the Middle Ages |


Today Samizdata has a story on taxation in the Middle Ages. An interesting point: medieval peasants worked fewer days of their year to pay their taxes than we do today.

Chris Kromm: The South at War

For Eric:

A few days ago Eric was questioning my numbers on the percentages of the military who are Southerners. I explained that I was following Zell Miller's speech to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. I've been looking into the question more since then.

I'm still not sure where the Honorable Senator Miller got his numbers, but I can report that they match all the numbers I see anywhere else. Anti-war journal CounterPunch, based out of California, puts the number at 42%. Essayist Jeff Adams reports that the percentage during Gulf War I was 41%. As the South's population has grown from about a fourth to about a third of the nation's population, its percentages in the military have kept pace: 33% in WWI, 22% in WWII (a low percentage, I suspect, because of the massive draft; numbers of volunteers would probably be higher for the South in both cases), 40% in Korea, 37% in Vietnam (draft again, I expect), and 41% in Gulf War I. The Institute of Southern Studies--which is actually a group of Southern left-liberals, for the record--puts the number at 42% out of a population they now estimate at 36% of Americans.

That's not as definitive as I would like, but the number is agreed upon by people across the political spectrum. I'm not sure where they're getting it, but they seem to be pulling from a common source.

UPDATE: "Essayist" Jeff Adams turns out to be an officer of the Texas chapter of the League of the South, a rather radical organization that has in the past called on Southerners to refuse to serve in the US Military due to the disdain shown to Southern culture by other Americans. (An aside--I categorically reject this sentiment. Certainly Robert E. Lee would not have understood it. How much less should we understand it, when four more generations of us have shed our blood in the defense of the American flag and of the Republic?) His latest article on the topic can be found here.

Southern representation in the military invasion of Iraq isn't yet available. However, based on the data that is available concerning those killed in action or taken as POWs, and this data can be viewed as a reflection of the makeup of the military population, then Southerners represent 38% of the U.S. armed forces in Iraq. There have been some recent surveys concerning the military that estimate the total Southern contribution to the U.S. armed forces in general is pushing close to 50%!
Adams estimates the South's population as about 30%, so he may be working from a definition of the South that's smaller than the ISS--maybe without Floriday, say.

Skewed Priorities (

On Moderation:

We are told that politicians, if they are to be entrusted with any power, ought to be "mainstream" or "moderate." We are, of course, mostly told this about conservative politicians, for reasons explored here. George W. Bush seems to have taken this lesson to heart, to judge from his budget. He has proposed a remarkable amount of spending, to the despair of conservatives everywhere. Many have been speculating openly that his spendthrift nature could cost him the election by alienating his base.

But, since it is so important to be moderate, Bush should at least pick up the solid endorsement of the "mainstream" press. Right? Well, let us see what his festal orgy of spending has inspired:

IF THE FEDERAL budget is a mirror of national priorities, consider this skewed choice in President Bush's spending plan: By 2009, child care assistance would be cut for at least 200,000 children in low- and moderate-income families -- and that's by the administration's own estimates. The real number of children affected could be as high as 365,000. That same year, those with annual incomes of $1 million or more would be paying an average of $155,000 less in income taxes as a result of Mr. Bush's tax cuts.
So, what's needed according to the Post is two things:

1) More spending.
2) Tax increases.

That is exactly the position they would be taking had Bush adopted a responsible budget. He has gained exactly nothing out of his maneuver.

Controlling spending is a civil rights issue, as well as one of the main planks of the Jacksonian party I suspect may soon arise in our political system. Certainly there are quite a few Jacksonians around, and neither party seems at all interested in upholding their views.

The Command Post - Op-Ed - Five Gallons of Gasoline

"Five Gallons of Gasoline"

If you haven't read this essay by Ali at "Iraq the Model", you might want to do so. It seems he's turned the corner, and realized the truth of what all his friends at the BBC have been saying.

Sharp Knife

Sharp Knife:

Sharp Knife has some incisive questions for John Kerry. He's right about all of them--keep scrolling. If Kerry is the nominee, this is going to be a brutal and ugly campaign. I hope America can stand up to it. Divided as we are, I wonder.

Divided or not, though, it is time to answer some of these questions once and for all. Chief among them is this: do we have the will to fight for the Order of the West?

This question weighs heavily on my mind lately. It was brought to my mind most recently by the case of the Talibani child soldiers recently cut loose from Camp X-Ray at GitMo. I have several friends of a liberal persuasion--indeed, sometimes I think my dearest friends of of that persuasion. It is a remarkable thing, that people who disagree so sharply about things so important could be friends, but so far, we are and have been.

The position of my friends, who admitted that they weren't sure just why these children were arrested, was that the US military was plainly doing wrong. Arresting children, shipping them halfway across the world, and holding them incommunicado from their families is certainly a big deal. It's not something you do for no reason. That, at least, was my impression, at the time when I knew no more about it than they did themselves. Their impression was that the military had done it for no reason, or at least, for no good reason, as no reason good enough for such a thing could be imagined.

Well, here is the reason:

Two of the boys were captured during US raids on Taliban camps in Afghanistan; the third was captured trying to obtain weapons for the Taliban, the Pentagon said.
Now let us say a few things flatly. First, the Taliban has freely imported resistance tactics from the terrorists of Palestine, to include the use of child soldiers and suicide bombers. Second, these children were introduced to the war by the Taliban, which was training them and using them to procure weapons against the United States and the Coalition. Third, if the children had not been removed to Camp X-Ray, but had instead been released to their families, it is without question that the Taliban would have tried to use them again. Put otherwise, the decision to ship these kids to Cuba probably saved their lives. It removed them from the war, gave them time and space to be forgotten as assets by the Taliban, and kept them from being recruited to risk their young lives again by their former leaders.

The boys faced stern interrogation in their first few days, according to the only one of them who has spoken out. However, they were not tortured, and he feels he was pretty well treated overall:

"At first I was unhappy with the U.S. forces. They stole 14 months of my life," said Agha, sitting in a relative's general store at the bazaar in Naw Zad, a market town some 300 miles southwest of Kabul....

"But they gave me a good time in Cuba. They were very nice to me, giving me English lessons," said Agha, a smile spreading across his face between a small beard and a white turban that made him look two or three years older....

He was not beaten but was made to sit on his haunches for three or four hours at a time, even when he wanted to sleep, he said....

"For two or three days I was confused, but later the Americans were so nice with me, they were giving me good food with fruit and water for ablutions before prayer," he said.

The Taliban had given him less choice:
The boys were standing outside a shop in a town along the way when they were detained by Afghan militiamen.

'They said, 'Come and join us,' but we told them we are poor people, jobless, and we don't want to join the militia, we want to earn money," Agha said. "Then they said, 'You are Taliban.'

It's an ugly war, to be sure, but the US military seems to me to come out well here. Still, as interested as I am in the facts of the case, I am as interested in the initial impression. That is to say, before the facts were known, my assumption was that the military had good reason for taking what seemed unusually stern measures; my companions, that the military was obviously wrong to do so. For a moment, let us forget the question of who was right and who was wrong when the facts came out. Let's focus just on that initial impression.

These friends of mine--and I claim them gladly, as all of them are dear and good hearted folk--assume, until sufficient evidence appears to convince them otherwise, that our military is brutal. I assume, until such evidence emerges, that our military keeps its professional commitment to the rules of war. The evidence suggests that people who believe as I do, who assume that the military is trustworthy until it is proven otherwise, are not more than half the populace. Indeed, the Honorable John Kerry has made his career on the opposite assertion.

I would humbly suggest that if you find yourself instinctually distrustful of the American solider, during a time of war when American soldiers are dying every day in your defense, you might want to reexamine the core assumptions of your life. Whether you do so or not, however, you've got just this problem: the American soldier's violence is as good as it gets. The Order of the West can not be protected through law enforcement. Law enforcement can't stop the nuclear market we've seen from Libya and North Korea to Malaysia. There are two things that can, perhaps stop them: intelligence, which by its nature involves law-breaking, not law enforcement; and military force. There is nothing else.

When we get to the point that terrorists have access to nuclear weapons, even occasionally, things are going to become worse than you would like to consider. My dear friends--some of you read this site--I beg you to reconsider just how grave this threat really is. Strong measures are required. First among them is belief. It is absolutely necessary to trust the fighting American Solider. He may not always do right, but you must believe that he usually will. He needs your trust to have the freedom of action required to protect you.

The next thing you must believe is that the Order of the West is worth preserving, though it means the deaths of many people. For now it is thousands who must die--we have killed thousands already. I pray that it may remain only thousands, and not hundreds of thousands, or more. The war we have joined is not going away. We can not wish it away. We will wrestle the nuclear genie back in his bottle, or we will see him loosed on our cities. That which must be done for victory, that same thing must be done. There is no alternative.

Believe this now, or wait for it to be proven on our bodies. Fool yourself now, and you may mourn at your leisure.

Her face was like an open word
When brave men speak and choose