Archive for November 2008

Ethics at the Barrel of a Gun

November 30, 2008


This is a great article, courtesy of Mike Devx from Bookworm Room, on the ethics learned from training in the use of firearms.


How to Acquire Perpetual Peace

November 29, 2008

John G. Spragge Says:
November 13th, 2008 at 6:40 am

  1. The hope that some day war will not be necessary is a laudable one—and those who fight wars hold it, too. But that day has not yet arrived—and, realistically but sadly, perhaps it never will. Let’s break that statement down a little, because it matters, a lot, that we get it right. If by making an end to war you mean eradicating the temptation to commit violence that exists in every human heart, then no, we won’t. If by making an end to war you mean eliminating it as an institution honoured and pursued by governments world wide, then yes, I think we can accomplish that.Consider the unlikely story of William Wilberforce and his small band of freed Africans, Quakers, nonconformists, and others. When they started their work, in huge area of the world you could buy a human being and get a bill of sale that the courts would recognize in just the way courts today recognize a title for a car. By the time of Wilberforce’s death, thanks to the Royal Navy, slavers had joined pirates as declared enemies of humanity, the British government would shortly eliminate slavery from a quarter of the world, and by the end of the nineteenth century, slavery as a snactioned form of property would exist only in a dwindling number of places.

    Did Wilberforce purge from the human heart the dark impulse to dominate and exploit? No, that still exists; we have to fight it at every turn, and in that sense the struggle against slavery will go on as long as humanity does. Atrocious forms of exploitation go on every day. But in no city of any civilized country can you walk into a market, buy a human being, and obtain a bill of sale that the courts will recognize and the police will enforce. That change means something.

    In the same way, we cannot eliminate the darkness from the human heart. The impulse to do violence will stay with us as long as we exist. But we can hope for a time when governments no longer have the right to let loose unlimited violence on countries they define as enemies, to a time when the weight of society, and the law, takes the side of peace the way it now takes the side of freedom.

    William Wilberforce and his allies did not take on the entrenched power of the men who bought and sold people out of mere idealism; they had a sense of what an industrial society that kept the attitudes and values behind slavery could develop into. In the same way, those of us who work towards an end to war do not respond only to the biblical injunction to make peace. We have a strong sense of where war will take our society if we do not put an end to it. The world has already lived through one nuclear war– and the fertile human mind has already dreamed up technologies with even more frightening potential than nuclear arms. We have a huge stock of terrifying weapons, and a large number of equally frightening people, those too enraged or enraptured to allow the cold calculus of deterrence to hold them back. And those who think we can keep the most dire weapons away from the terribly twisted minds that will countenance their use should consider the lesson of King Canute. Making an end to war will not guarantee our security, but if we do not put an end to war, then war will certainly put an end, if not to humanity, then at least to our civilization, and to most of us and our children.

    Ninety plus years ago, the governments of the West promised to the men suffering the misery of the trenches that this war would put an end to all wars. If we truly wish to remember and dignify the men who dies in their millions, or who came home maimed in body and spirit, we need also to remember the promise their governments made to them, and remember that ninety years on, it remains unredeemed.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:
    November 13th, 2008 at 12:54 pm Ninety plus years ago, the governments of the West promised to the men suffering the misery of the trenches that this war would put an end to all wars. If we truly wish to remember and dignify the men who dies in their millions, or who came home maimed in body and spirit, we need also to remember the promise their governments made to them, and remember that ninety years on, it remains unredeemed.John makes an interesting and original point here. He recognizes the distinction between changing institutions of law and social standards to changing basic human nature: rejecting the latter while going for the former.

    Making an end to war will not guarantee our security, but if we do not put an end to war, then war will certainly put an end, if not to humanity, then at least to our civilization, and to most of us and our children.

    So now we come down to the details where the devil must live. How do we end the institution of war or decrease the probability of war?

    It is simple. What is the probability of war between California and Georgia in the United States of America right now? It approaches the limit of 0 as to almost be impossible. What was the probability of war between Georgia and New York 50 years before the Civil War? A lot higher than almost impossible. What was the probability of war between Tennessee and West Virginia 1 month into the Civil War? That probability approaches only unity, 100%. That would be true even had West Virginia not split off at the time, because the probability of the split also approached unity as time went on.

    If we truly wish to remember and dignify the men who dies in their millions, or who came home maimed in body and spirit, we need also to remember the promise their governments made to them, and remember that ninety years on, it remains unredeemed.

    And yet, compare the results of the war between any other nation in the world in the totality of human history. How many wars have France and Russia and Germany been involved in? Did the odds of them ever warring against each other decrease or increase, to the limit of 0 or 1, as time went on from their last wars? Did the chance of war being used between Germany and France increase or decrease after the Treaty of Versailles? Did it increase or decrease after the 100 years war? The answer is simple: the percentage chance for war was always increasing to 1, to unity 100%, and then flashing into active war and then stepping down to a level below 1 and began to increase towards unity once more.

    While John has not said much concerning the details of how he intends to do what he says is a noble and worthy goal, I believe it is safe to say that John’s methods (from his previous posts here) will lead not to America’s current state but to Europe’s state after every war.

    If John truly wants to end war, he would support an American Empire more than the EU, China, Russia, or the UN combined.

    America is the only nation in the entire history of the world that has ended the possibility of war through the political changes effected through winning America’s wars. This is true whether we speak of America warring against Germany, or Japan, or the South (in the US).

    We have the record. We are the only ones to have the track record. Rome was still crucifying Jewish rebels in Hadrian’s time, which was decades after Julius Caesar conquered the Gauls. Rome was still getting into wars with the German tribes and had to constantly keep an eye on their slaves and their client tribes in Spain and Gaul. THey wouldn’t have needed to be so brutal towards the Jews for rebellion if the threat of rebellion wasn’t always a threat to them elsewhere.

    Compared to our record, Rome was a banana republic that could erupt at any time with coup de tats and internal revolts. And yet, Rome was the source of law and civilization for much of the West (and Arabic) world.

    While America has redeemed our promises to end war through fighting, no other nation has done so. Not Europe, not the EU, not the UN, not those in Africa, not China, and not Russia.

    There is only one choice for those who truly wish to see the end of warfare between groups of human beings on this planet and it is support the power and strength and reach of America across all nations, all peoples, all cultures and political identities.

    But John will refuse to do that, I suspect. THe desire for an end of war is not great enough to tolerate America in the end. And so we continue to have war.

Bookworm Room stuff

November 29, 2008

The guidelines I followed.

Pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!


The folly of parents can have terrible and tragic consequences for their children. In truth, Romeo and Juliet, with great beauty and complexity, offers a range of arguments, insights, and ideas. It cannot be reduced to one.

This is to offer up the context for the paragraph, but the 5th sentence starts here.

And even if it could (which it cannot), all we would need to do is to turn to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a work by the same author, where we find young lovers facing much opposition and difficulty and in a wonderful comic resolution, triumphing. Why do we turn to literature, if not for arguments that tell us how to live? What does a work of literature offer us? Consider this comment by Salman Rushdie:

The liveliness of literature lies in its exceptionality, in being the individual idiosyncratic vision of one human being in which, to our delight and great surprise, we may find our own vision reflected.

Literature for Composition 8th ed.

It is a fitting remark given my views concerning David Weber. His works are, after all, one of the central resources that my current education in warfare and politics have been based on.

Book tagged me and so I had to obey. But, if I was going to go to the trouble of copying something from a physical book and writing it on the computer, which is not something I like doing, then I made sure to do it right. And I didn’t need to look in more than one book to do so. Such is the serendipity of our lives.

National Will and Knowing Yourself: Sun Tzu and Clausewitz

November 18, 2008

This is always good for another read given these times.

I’m not going to excerpt anything because if you are truly interested in military strategy and learning, then you are just going to have to plod through such documents. Here’s a hint though, if you are a beginner student in military history, tactics, strategy, and logistics, then go to page 5, Operations, and start reading down. That’s the good stuff.

If you have read Clausewitz then the first 5 pages will interest you more.

If you like politics, page 6 and down will be your thing. If you like tactics, then you shouldn’t read this at all. If you like to know about having a strong will in warfare and why people keep talking about “war is chaotic and unpredictable”, start from page 5, Operations.

There: that is all the help you will get from me on this score.

Web Server Depression

November 16, 2008

This is pretty funny for the role players and those who at least know something about computer programming.

Stalker Found Dead Outside Target House

November 16, 2008

Well, as they say, shit happens.

President Carter and President Obama

November 16, 2008

Let’s begin with an interesting argument I had about Carter’s deals with the Shah and the Shah’s political enemies (the Ayatollah and the Iranian revolution).

Pressuring the Shah by using America’s influence, both military and economically with Iran, in order to get the Shah to provide more openness to Khomeini’s revolutionary guards was support for Khomeini. Just like when the Shah released all those people he had in his jails, including the Ayatollah and other followers who formed the core group of instigators and leaders for the revolution in Iran. The Ayatollah’s place of safety in France allowed him to energize European and international support while using agent provocateurs in Iran to incite violent reactions from the Shah’s forces.

The Shah, just like Bush, wanted what was best for his people: things such as wanting to modernize the nation, and wanting a strong defense against external enemies like the Soviets or other Arab nations. The Shah, however, was willing or forced to accede to international scrutiny, notably Carter’s goons like Sec State Vance, in terms of domestic policies. Bush is the same way in terms of his responses: very soft against his domestic and foreign enemies but most notably against domestic enemies. The Shah released the Ayatollah and many others from jail, after they had openly declared their opposition. The Shah believed this kind of compromise would breed a better respect of rights and help reform the system in Iran. The Shah should have killed him, had the Shah’s human rights been as bad as depicted and if the Shah had your priorities, Sanger, but he didn’t. And so he fell, as Bush would have fallen in a coup de tat had it not been for the stability and loyalty provided by the US military. The Shah of Iran had no such pillar of support, however, not even from a foreign nation like America (When the Ayatollah certainly found refuge in France).

Carter supports every election of dictators, including Hamas, and you are telling us that Carter didn’t support the enemies of the Shah when the Shah attempted to reform Iran and increase civil liberty protections? Carter hasn’t appreciably changed over the years.

Any aid and succor given to the enemies of liberty is support, even if it is simply an international declaration that Hamas’ election was legitimate. This is not a standard that can be bent for the real politics of two lesser evils, because the very definition of civil liberties cannot be defined as a “lesser evil”, regardless of whether it is flawed or not, and the Shah’s attempts to create democracy in Iran as part of his aristocratic position were definitely flawed and too extreme when balancing freedom vis a vis security. The Shah had placed too much on trading security for freedom and relying upon US arms and protection from the Soviets. The one thing that Carter is very good at is forcing nations to adopt elections that Carter will then approve, and if those elections bring Hamas, Hizbollah, Khomeini, or Chavez to power, then that is all the more valid in Carter’s eyes regardless of the suffering of the people or the damage to American national security (or the suffering of American hostages in Iran).

Carter messed up not because he made the mistakes you have categorized; Carter messed up because he can’t tell the difference between leaders willing to improve their nation and leaders like the Ayatollah (or Chavez or Arafat or any other Marxist slash dictator slash mass murderer).

Even McNamara eventually admitted (I think it was him I saw in that documentary) that we and the NVA were fighting for different reasons, and _ours_ was the side that didn’t get it….-Sanger

McNamara was so incompetent I wouldn’t believe it based on his word alone if he said the sun came up in the east.

Pahlavi caused most of his own problems-Sanger

That’s like saying Diem caused most of his own problems, including his own assassination.

There’s a stark difference between American engineered actions that spark problems in the local politics of foreign nations and people like Bhutto refusing additional security and taking unnecessary risks in places like Pakistan.

Certainly foreign leaders are responsible for their own decisions, but so is America when American actions precipitate problems for them because of incompetent American meddling.

A side issue here is Carter’s election against Reagan. There were some interesting stuff I found in the wayback machine. My source is a preview of a book, on google, that lets you read sample pages. Unlike most previews, this one actually covers quite a lot of pages, even though it skips a couple.

Patricia Harris, Carter’s secretary of Health and Human Services, told a steelworkers’ union conference in early August, “I will not attempt to explain why the KKK found the Republican candidate and the Republican platform compatible with the philosophy and guiding principles of that notorious organization.” But, she added, when Reagan speaks before black audiences (Reagan was scheduled to speak to the National Urban League in New York and meet with Jesse Jackson in Chicago), many blacks “will see the specter of a white sheet behind him.” Andrew Young went even further, saying that Reagan’s remarks seemed “like a code word to me that it is going to be all right to kill niggers when he’s president.” Coretta Scott King managed top Young: “I am scared that if Ronald Reagan gets into office, we are going to see more of the Ku Klux Klan and a resurgence of the Nazi Party.” Maryland congressman Parren Mitchell, a leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, “Reagan represents a distinct danger to black Americans.” Garry Wills wrote in Esquire, “Reagan croons, in love accents, his permission to indulge a functnal hatred of poor people and blacks.” (pg 77-76)

Carter and the Democrats perhaps believed that the media would amplify their caricature of Reagan in much the same way they had for Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater in 1964. They were wrong. The media was harsh on Carter for his indulgence of race-baiting. The New Republic wrote: “President Carter has made a grave moral error in trying to portray Ronald Reagan as a racist.” and that Carter’s statements were “frightful distortions, bordering on outright lies.” Boston Globe columnist Curtis Wilkie wrote, “Just as surely as the werewolf grows long fangs and facial hair on a full moon, the darker side of President Carter emerges in election years.” The Associated Press sent out a wire story noting that Carter’s followers [Patricia Harris, et all.) not Reagan, had first “injected” the Klan into the campaign. Washington Post reporter Richard Harwood wrote, “There is nothing in Reagan’s record to support the charge that he was a ‘racist.'”

The editorial page of the Post was biting:

Mr. Carter has abandoned all dignity in his round-the-clock attack on Mr. Reagan’s character and standing, jumping (in a most sanctimonious tone of voice) for “offenses” similar to many Mr. Carter himself has committed, and, most recently, concluding from all this that Mr. Reagan is a “racist” and a purveyor of “hatred.” This description doesn’t fit Mr. Reagan. What it fits, or more precisely, fits into, is Jimmy Carter’s miserable record of personally savaging political opponents (Hubert Humphrey, Edward Kennedy) whenever the going got rough…. Jimmy Carter, as before, seems to have few limits beyond which he will not go in the abuse of opponents and reconstruction of history.

Most worrisome to the Republicans was the finding that the number of voters who thought Reagan “does not understand the complicated problems a president has to deal with” was rising.

Reagan also hoisted Carter on his own petard. In 1976, Carter had blasted Ford with the “misery index,” the combination of inflation and unemployment, which was then 12.5. Carter had said, “No Man with that size misery index had a right to seek reelection to the presidency.” Reagan observed that the misery index was now above 20. (Sarah palin, using Joe Biden’s own words to attack Barack Obama. Classic)

A couple of conclusions here from the data. Carter’s both insane and mean, which we already knew. Anybody that calls Hamas’ elections fair and supports Chavez and such folks while saying he is improving the institutions of democracy is either insane or a sadist.

The second conclusion is that attack ads work. They work but aren’t invincible or omnipotent. Even if Carter or Obama’s attacks against Ford/Reagan or Sarah Palin and John McCain worked, it can be used against them later on if you have the will and memory to do so.