The Blue Bus is calling us...: USS John F. Kennedy arrives in South Boston

Happy Armed Forces Day

Our friend and regular commenter Lizard Queen has a nice little photo gallery of the USS John F. Kennedy coming home to Boston. They've got a prototype Joint Strike Fighter on the deck. There are tours today, if any of you are in Boston.

Black Five has a post on the coming war against the military by the press. His thesis, which seems all too reasonable, is that the press is likely to rally behind Newsweek instead of the military, and do anything they can to "prove" the allegations of insensitivity. This is, of course, likely to cause harm to the military, the interests of America, and in the long term the interests of a free press. How many nations which currently do not have a free press will be eager to create one, after they watch how ours behaves?

Baldilocks reminds all those soldiers not to cooperate with the media's desire to destroy their reputation. "Some military personnel were Judases for a lousy 900 dollars. I hope they can live with the fallout," she says.

Doc Russia has a link to a page with a photo of a Cuban gentleman prisoner that you won't want to miss. We have enemies in many places, but we also have friends -- often the truly oppressed and downtrodden. It is men like these, and women like those in Afghanistan, who most love the idea of America.

On a topic not directly military, but of importance to MilBloggers and others who believe that this form of media is the wave of the future and a particular strategic advantage to the United States, the FEC is still planning to regulate blogs. Send a letter while their comment period is still ongoing.

It's been a rough couple of days around here for professional reasons, just as last week was pretty heavy. I'll be back to my usual blogging self as soon as things quiet down.

Eject! Eject! Eject!


Bill Whittle has a new essay out. It is long and winding, as they always are, but quite rewarding, as they always are.

The early part of the essay takes on the question of the abuses of the laws of war, and who is responsible for them. Mr. Whittle maintains that the refusal of the enemy to wear uniforms -- their attempt to take cover among civilians, which then requires the military to set aside some part of the protections for civilians -- makes the enemy at fault for all such abuses. That is the correct explanation as a matter of the laws of war, and the essay examines the reasons for that carefully.


I often wonder what options there are for fighters in the current period. "Fourth Generation" warfare isn't something we control: the wearing away of the clear lines between civilian and combatant aren't to our advantage, and in fact the American military could not be better served than by having clear lines. Responding to the challenges posed by these enemy shifts is probably the single greatest problem facing the American military.

But, by the same token, our enemy doesn't control the shift from Third to Fourth Generation warfare either. It's easy to forget that. The fact is that, to a large degree, the enemy is fighting us this way because there is nothing left. They cannot do what the Minutemen did -- compose an army of farmers, stand in a line, and slug it out with British regulars. Stand in a line now, and you'll get a JDAM dropped on your head.

Some of these unlawful acts are indeed atrocities, and they should be condemned even by the very radicals who oppose us. Car bombings or other attacks directed against civilians; the use of atrocities against the innocent, such as beheading civilian hostages, to inspire terror; the use of the mentally retarded as suicide bombers; pretending to surrender and then detonating yourself: these things are crimes, not just against the UCMJ or the "Laws of War," but against the higher and prior laws that underlie those things. Those are truly evil acts, which ought to be abhorred by all people equally.

But the fact of fighting without uniforms is not among those things. It is morally problematic, for the reasons Whittle cites: it undermines the protection of civilians. Yet, how else can they fight us? If not by assassination, sniping, hiding, bombing military targets -- how?

I think Mr. Whittle's answer -- again, the correct answer -- is that they should not be fighting us. We are in the right. We are upholding civilization, the 'society of miracles' that he holds forth on later in the essay. These savages, who behead unarmed civilians in order to inspire terror, are simply wrong and should lay down arms.

Yet it isn't necessary that this should be the case. Consider the question from this angle: What if some future administration were actually doing the things that Democratic Underground charges Bush II with doing?

Let us say that you became convinced, correctly, that this theoretical administration was undermining the Republic and the Constitution, and actually seeking to install itself as a dictatorship -- either openly, or through perversion of the law to make elections a mere show. The elections of 2008 and 2010, say, were illegitimate elections that used outright fraud to install not just a President, but a legislature that would be pliant to him. The military was being used, not just to batter other nations into line and steal their resources, but also against our own people in accord with the administration's interests. The nation's police forces were being fielded to suppress dissent, and to terrorize innocent people who might be a problem. The administration was arresting people without charges, and holding them without trial. It was secretly endorsing the use of torture and murder: not only letting its servants get away with it, but secretly encouraging it from the very top down. Good-hearted people in the military, who try to object, are being driven out, imprisoned, or having their careers ruined. Only officers who agreed with the government were left, or were being installed where they hadn't been, and they were moving to use their units in accord with its goals.

So it's 2011. You honestly believe -- as apparently many of the subjects of Mr. Whittle's essay do -- that new Nazis have taken over the government. Many of you have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution against enemies, foriegn and domestic. Others have not, but feel as strongly about doing so. What do you do?

Pondering this, of course, demonstrates the fundamental unseriousness of the current opposition. What they actually do is hold no-account protests that do nothing but disrupt the workings of people's lives. They sit at home, in comfort, writing screeds. They go to Meet-Up meetings and talk angrily among themselves, over expensive coffee that they can easily afford.

That wouldn't do, though, if these were real Nazis.

Frankly, I think the theoretical example is and can only be that -- I do not believe that the military would enforce those sorts of illegal orders. I think they would stand true to their duty to disobey illegal orders, and would do whatever it took to restore the Republic. The military remains a strong hindrance to abuse of power by any US government. In order for the theory to ever become practice, then, the government would have to engage us in a war -- not like Iraq, but with a genuine threat like nuclear China -- that so involved the military with an actual external threat that its members could not attend to, nor consider resigning from their posts in order to address, serious Constitutional violations at home.

I think, then, that the military would have to be otherwise engaged.

On the other hand, we have seen a real example of a Federal police agency -- the very largest, BATFE -- that has been perfectly willing to be transformed in improper ways. Most of BATFE's activities are against people guilty of procedural violations, and according to a Congressional investigation, seventy-five percent of BATFE prosecutions are constitutionally improper. (See a lengthy debate on the topic, with links, at InstaPundit).

These figures should be humbling, causing the bureau to insist on going about its business more carefully and with a great deal of concern for the proprieties. Yet, instead, BATFE has simply chosen to ignore them and pretend that the facts aren't what they are. One bureau is not an uncorrectable problem, nor even several major agencies if the electoral system continues to function -- but what if it did become broken? What if we did find ourselves in an "illegal war" being used as cover by an administration attempting to engage us in a dictatorship?

It is not utterly impossible that we could find ourselves obligated, by oath and duty, to take up arms at some point in the future, against some administration yet to be conceived. Thomas Jefferson thought it likely. Any American must remember the roots of our nation in Revolution, and remember that revolution may someday again be required of us.

I mention all of this only to demonstrate that some of these guerrilla tactics might very well have to be employed -- that employing them, however distasteful, might be preferable to doing nothing. Bombing a city, even with precision munitions, is distasteful. Indeed, it is horrifying. But there are times when it is better, morally as well as in terms of practical reality, than the alternatives.

If our Islamist enemies believe that they are in such a position, then they have to fight us. Indeed, if the radical Left were serious, it should be fighting us.

We have every right to punish atrocities and terrorism. We should, however, be careful to consider which of their tactics are truly evil, and which are simply necessary. That will allow us to separate the terrorists from the honorable enemies with whom we can negotiate. The ones who behead the weak and innocent in order to inspire terror are evil. The ones who fight our military with rifles, though they do not wear uniforms -- they may not be evil men. They may simply not trust us, and be unwilling to conceed control of their nation to foreigners with rifles and bombs.

With the first sort of foe there can be no quarter. With the second, there can be a genuine peace. It is in our enemy's interest to blur those lines, just as it is in his interest to blur the line between combatant and noncombatant. We must try to keep the lines clear, as much as we can.

An imaginary �scandal� by Theodore Dalrymple

On Frauds:

Dalrymple speaks to the philosophy of frauds:

The fact is that people who commit fraud, at least on a large scale, have lively, intelligent minds. I usually end up admiring them, despite myself. My last encounter was with a man who defrauded the government of $38,000,000 of value added tax. I am afraid that I laughed. After all, he had merely united customers with cheap goods. Unfortunately for him, he had been lifted from his tropical paradise hideaway by helicopter and then extradited. By the time I met him, though, his sentence was almost over. He had discovered Wittgenstein in prison.

"Did you have to pay the money back?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "though I would have had a shorter sentence if I had."

He had calculated that an extra two years as a guest of Her Majesty was worth it. I shook his hand, as a man who was unafraid: I could do no other.
It's even harder for Americans, I think, to be irritated with people whose crime is tax evasion. Boston Tea Party, and all that.

UPDATE: I wrote that in amusement when starting into the essay. That is the point of such anecdotes -- to draw you in, with humor, so that you will stay for the sermon.

And it is quite an essay. The amusing parts are up front; the deeper you get into it, the more it proves a tragedy. In this way it is like Shakespeare, who happens to make an appearance. Give it a read.

The Adventures of Chester: The End of the Obvious Pseudo-Event

Strategic Communications:

Officer of Marines Chester has an excellent post about the current situation of the global media, and how it impacts the United States' strategic goals. One of the things he challenges is the Defense Science Board's call for a "top down" revolution in conducting Strategic Communications:

No such orchestration is possible, if it ever was, for two reasons:

1) the mass media has an aversion to being the handmaiden for any government program and
2) the mass media is rapidly being replaced by a decentralized free global and private press that is unprecedented.

A top-down approach will not work if saving America's image is the goal.
There is a particularly American solution in the offing, as demonstrated by the MilBlogs ring. Several times in the recent past, slanders against the US military have been effectively countered by MilBloggers, acting without orders. While these operators are independent -- which gives them a credibility that official government statements do not have because of the walls of secrecy around government decisions -- they are choosing to coordinate of their own free will. Such coordination can create impressive results. Consider a few of these swarms, which are gathering around Mudville because of Greyhawk's leadership:

On Newsweek. There's a lot to be said about this, but all of it falls under nondisclosure for me, so I won't. What should be noticed, though, is how many independent analyses gathered there.

A response to Bob Herbert's slanders was expanded to this second post. Another media-generated "the military is full of thugs" scandal, unmade by the simple fact that a lot of military men with actual experience now have a voice.

The military's own response in both cases has been muted. Even if there were a top-down authority firmly in place, however, I think Chester's right: it wouldn't be as effective as the MilBlog response, except perhaps as an additional means of raising the challenges to these stories that MilBloggers raise. It can ally itself to them, and give the rubrik of authority to their statements. But it can't do what they can do: the news media will regard any statement from such an authority as questionable simply because it was made in secret. MilBlogs offer transparency.

I don't see any reason a similar set of blogs couldn't be set up by institutions with the courage to do so. If State or CIA officials had the guts to say what General Cartwright said, we'd soon be in a stronger position as a nation. The bureaucracies don't like the idea, however, because it gives underlings a forum for complaints as well as for rising to the defense of the institution. (Consider the DiploMad.) Even this is a selling point, however, for those who are not timid. It is the independence of the voice that makes it credible. If they are free to praise or to condemn, their praise is valuable, and their condemnation can offer useful lessons for the improvement of the agency.

Protected free speech, transparency, and a shift of power away from the state and to the individual: that's the American way. Not only that, but we are the culture in the world most comfortable doing it, which means that other nations won't be able to replicate our success at it: there will be no Chinese MilBlogs ring.

If this distributed media is the wave of the future -- as many think it is, and I see no reason to disagree -- America has a chance to retain unassailably its position of information dominance. The way forward is to lift some of the restrictions on disclosure and speech by individuals who are within organizations, and then protect blog speech under the First Amendment.

Obviously there are places that cannot do so easily -- the CIA, for example, would have to think hard about what rules it might employ before allowing officers to blog. But for those that can, it is a powerful tool.



As you recall, I missed out on Buy A Gun Day due to it falling on "pay exorbinant taxes day #1 of 4" for contractors. However, my generous wife has offered to dip into her own money in order to consider a firearm purchase for Father's Day, which happens also to be our wedding anniversary (and our son's birthday -- at least some years).

I'm thinking of a Bond Arms derringer, or possibly one of the Cimarron "Thunderer" Sheriff's models. Either could be carried in a pocket, I think, though the Cimarron would be harder -- maybe I can find one to examine at the next gun show out this way.

I'd like a pocket pistol for the summer, and given the short barrel and short ranges involved in such a thing, I'd prefer a heavy bullet like the .45 Long Colt. At the range at which a pocket pistol would be useful, an assailant is likely to get ahold of you or your family if you don't shut him down at once. The only ways to do that are through central nervous system shock, and by dropping the blood pressure sharply -- i.e., by striking the central nervous system itself, or the heart, or the giant arteries just above it. You've got to get through heavy bone to get to any of that.

What do you folks think? I'll entertain alternative suggestions, but I'm especially interested in people who have experience with one of these models.


Thanks to BlackFive:

I had a good time posting at B-5's haunt during his absence. Unfortunately for me, the weekend saw a spike in the amount of work I've been doing professionally; and my nondisclousure agreement causes me to refrain from blogging about topics I've done work with in that regard. As a result, I had neither time nor material for more than two posts, which you can read here and here if you like.

My fellow guest blogger, Cassandra, therefore had to carry most of the weight herself. Please note that I've added her blog to the "Other Halls" section, which I meant to do last September when we were blogging together at Mudville. If you don't know her site, you might want to get to know it. She's an interesting voice.


Happy Birthday, Arganti:

Back in 1999, a great monster of a hurricane named Floyd bore down on the coastline of the American South. It was the size of Texas when it made landfall, but it had thankfully weakened in the hours just before hitting ground. Not long before it was due, it had been a powerful Category Four.

The city of Savannah, which is twelve feet about sea level at its highest point, was evacuated -- along with the coastline north and south of there for quite a while. I happened to be living in Savannah at the time. When we came back in a few days, some trees were down and the city had endured a thrashing, but there was no severe damage.

However, the evacuation and the storm had occasioned some chaos. I was out surveying the neighborhood in which I lived to see how much damage there was -- the worst was from flooding, and not the only time our home flooded while we were there.

As I turned a corner, I saw a little white kitten sitting alone and forlorn in the middle of an empty sidewalk. She looked up, saw me, and raised her tail straight into that position that kittens use to signal that they've seen their family.

"Uh-oh," I said to myself, and started walking home.

Too late! The little white kitten followed me all the way home, without me so much as touching her or encouraging her. She trotted after me as fast as she could, and walked right into the apartment in which my wife and I lived.

Well, we didn't need a cat. I should say, we didn't need another cat. We haven't had a cat in years, but at the time we had cats already. One of them, a little grey and white coward called Mosqueton, was always sneaking up on this kitten and pounding her. He didn't like her at all.

Fortunately, I had a friend who needed a cat. Unfortunately, she lived in Maryland. Still, once she had seen the pictures, she took a flight down to spend a few days visiting with us, and then when she left she took the cat.

You can see the kitten went to a good home. Happy birthday, Arganti.