What’s a Strategy?

Well, we have no strategy, he says. I would bet a lot of money that I don’t have that the intelligence and defense communities, and maybe even the state department have some ideas and probably some full blown strategies but, he doesn’t like them. Why? Most likely because they consist of the military breaking some heads. Can’t go around breaking (even misguided) Muslim head, don’t you know.

Besides he’s advocated running away from Iraq for 10 years now, and managed to do it. For a while. But you know, and I know, and even David Cameron seems to know that evil must be confronted, and ISIS is evil. Godwin’s law be damned, it is every bit as evil as Nazi Germany was. Right now it is not that powerful but, if we let it fester it will be.

Here’s Cameron’s press conference. I’m far from his biggest fan but, at least he seems to have clue, and he’s not off fundraising somewhere, he’s actually doing his job.

 

We all know that a full blown plan isn’t put together, we expect that when the boss is on a continual vacation, but maybe it would be possible to do a bit of something instead of leaving town every couple days.

A Time for War

A US flagAngelo Codevilla has thought, like most of us, about ISIS. Like most of us, also, he sees problems ahead. He also sees a path to victory, and victory is the only useful term in this context.

 If You Want To Stop ISIS, Here Is What It Will Take

The Islamic State’ video-dissemination of one of its goons beheading an American is an existential challenge from which we cannot afford to shrink. Until the Islamic State ISIS/ISIL/IS did that, it made sense for the U.S. government to help contain it because the Islamic world, which the IS threatens most directly, must destroy it sooner or later. But internetting that beheading was a gory declaration of America’s impotence—a dare-by-deed that is sure to move countless young persons around the globe to get in on killing us, anywhere they can. The longer the Islamic State survives, the more will take up its dare. Either we kill the IS, or we will deserve the wave of terrorism that will engulf us.

Killing the IS requires neither more nor less than waging war—not as the former administration waged its “war on terror,” nor by the current administration’s pinpricks, nor according to the too-clever-by-half stratagems taught in today’s politically correct military war colleges, but rather by war in the dictionary meaning of the word. To make war is to kill the spirit as well as the body of the enemy, so terribly as to make sure that it will not rise again, and that nobody will want to imitate it.

via If You Want To Stop ISIS, Here Is What It Will Take.

I think he is correct. We can denigrate the force of the murder of an American, if we choose but, to other people around the world, is was a taunting of an impotent country, essentially a bully kicking sand in our eyes. Most of us know about that, from either our experience, or friend’s experiences. We also know that it only ends when superior force is applied, thereby punishing that behavior.

But how does one apply that in international relations? Just as Mr. Codevilla says, or in other equally effective ways. We are the United States of America, nothing exists in this world without our (at least tacit) approval. Do we approve of this behavior? We do if we don’t respond properly.

The way its supposed to work for a global superpower, whether it’s a Roman Legionaire, or an American Marine, is this. That Marine walks down the gangplank of the ship, airplane, whatever, and the entire country cowers in fear. Why? Because the Americans are coming, and everybody know that they are either your best friends, or your worst enemies, and what are we? Have we done enough to earn their friendship.

Now granted, that’s a major change in how our elites think of us. It requires a pride in America’s past, and a belief in America’s future. Not the tendency to blame everything in the world on America (and Britain). Can they make that change? I have doubts. But there are plenty of Americans who can, perhaps that murder in the desert also marked a turning point in the life of the nation. Pearl Harbor saved us for a generation but, we started slipping back under the Nomenklatura‘s sway when we didn’t fight Korea to win, and further, much further, when we allowed our government to throw away our victories in Vietnam, and Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Much of this will be an air war, and it is ideal terrain for it. Interestingly, we won air superiority in about March 1944 of Europe, without it the invasion would have failed, we have never relinquished it.

Mr. Codevilla has here shown us one strategic plan, no doubt there are other viable options. But that doesn’t really matter, yet. What matters, as it always has, is will. Will to fight, will to persevere, and especially the will to win, not on points, as it were, but a complete, undeniable victory.

Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

And now, it has become a time for war, that in time there will be a time for victory, and then a time for peace,

all in their appointed hour.

Once More Into the Breach, Dear Friends?

On 26 September 1580, a ship docked in Portsmouth, England. That wasn’t unusual, then as now it was one of England’s great ports. But this particular docking would echo through history. For this was the Golden Hind, returning from the first circumnavigation of the world by a non-Spaniard. Soon the captain, Francis Drake, would be knighted on the ship’s deck, by Queen Elizabeth I, and in a few years he would play a key role in the Battle with the Armada.

Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII, did some things that are important to this story, he established the Royal Navy, for the first time it became a force that was always ready. And he took England out of the Roman Church, which allowed her to go her own way, mostly looking outward, and not being involved with European politics as much as before.

But the reason this echoes so loudly in history wasn’t evident that day or even after the Armada had been stood off. It started to become apparent when England went to war with its King in the Civil War and even more so when the second chapter of that war saw the end of the first Empire, and the establishment of the United States.

Because what Sir Francis Drake accomplished that day in Portsmouth, was nothing less than the founding of the modern world, with all its freedom. If you look around at the world we live in. A world without legal slavery, where we are governed by our consent through objective law, and all the rest, you will find something surprising. It is all an English invention. It took England about 800 hundred years to put it together, and the rest of us in western civilization mostly copied it. Too often we forget that as Lady Astor somewhat unfairly said, our revolution was simply, “English freemen fighting against a German King for English rights”.

But now, in 2014, we are watching in horror as an evil group of thugs, misappropriate a religion, Islam, for the purpose of enforcing their will on the world. Nobody can claim they don’t aim high, at any rate.

anglosphere1But once again, the main obstacle between these thugs and their victory are the English Speaking Peoples. We are the ones that could have stopped Hitler easily in say 1934, but we were tired and worried about making a living. We paid for that mistake later, but Hitler and his henchman caused a holocaust of unparalleled scope in Europe. We learned from that and managed to face down Stalin and his successors without ending the world. But as the Soviet Union self-destructed, we declared it the end of history. We should have known better, evil never sleeps, it always looks for room to expand.

And so, we were attacked, in New York, and in London as the new century started, and we responded, as we always have. But this time we tried a kinder, gentler form of war, and attempted to make it easy on the local population, and to help them become like us. It seems as if it may have been a mistake.

The Hollow Men 5And so, here we are, with the weakest leadership our country has had since we entered the world stage in about 1900. They seem to have no clue what to do next.

That’s not surprising, the president has spent his entire life voting present while denigrating the military. Nor has he ever either led or managed anything. And yet, we elected him, twice. I guess we were/are tired of war.

But is war tired of us?

In business, as in war, one must have a strategy (an overriding plan). It seems to me, with an enemy as close to pure evil as ISIS, the only reasonable objective is to destroy it, root and branch, as we did the Nazis.

One level down from that is how are you going to accomplish your goal. Well, kids that’s why we have a military, and all its planners. We knew (and so did the British) on 7 December 1941 the broad outline of how we were going to fight World War Two. It was called RAINBOW. And we went on to execute it, and win, unconditionally. This is a specialized area of planning, and politicians are well advised to leave it to the military, just as I don’t tell a journeyman how to do his job. Give him the tools, and tell him what needs to be done.

And the same is true for tactics, if the guys in the field want an A-10 don’t send a B-2, at least if you can help it. In many ways our forces are best used as a force multiplier, they can do things no one else in the world can do. But a rifleman is basically a rifleman, whether he’s from London, Omaha, or Baghdad.

But the key thing here is, as it always is, the will of the people, and especially the leadership, and that is what worries me. When Obama said these guys are the JV, he spoke the truth, but the JV is much better than the girls 5th grade team, especially if they know that to lose is to die. And the JV will win if the varsity doesn’t show up.

But neither is that preordained, we have not only agency over ourselves but over what we do for and to others, for we are free people, and we are sovereign over our governments. For nearly five hundred years we, the English Speaking Peoples, have built the modern world in our image. We have endowed it with most of the comforts, including a full belly, that we innovated, and with the possibility of making oneself free to act in one own best interest. And so the question becomes, “Have we become too soft, too self-centered, to act once again for the good against evil, or will we once again rise to the challenge to make the world a better place, for ourselves, certainly, but also for others, whom we will never meet or know?”

And some of our nationalities have won their fame with all of us

For a long time now, they have been known as “The Ladies from Hell”, and they have earned it, from friend and foe alike, by their uncompromising stand, for freedom from oppression, no matter the odds.

But this isn’t “proud Edward’s power, with slavery and chains”. This is a bunch of ragtag so-called terrorists, who are really no more than well armed bullies. Are we, the guarantors of freedom for five hundred years really going to sit back while they murder and enslave ancient civilizations? All Europe will do is finance them by paying ransom but, our people learned about that long ago, when we found out how hard it is to get rid of the Dane when you pay the Danegeld.

A bit more than seventy years ago, a guy by the name of Hitler, said he would wring England’s neck like a chicken. Churchill said “Some Chicken, some neck”. A friend of mine, an Englishmen reminded me yesterday that we are the same people who Churchill was speaking of. Maybe we should begin acting like it again.

When have we ever not heeded this call

Truly, it is time to once again

Sound the trumpet that shall never call retreat

As Christ died to make men holy,

let us live to make men free.

Of War and Duty

The Colossus of Freedom

The Colossus of Freedom

And so, we come to it, don’t we, ISIS/ISIL/IS has decided they are at war with the United States, which isn’t much surprise. I’m confident that like the other enemies that have found us, such as Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, assorted Barbary Pirates, and a few others, their Hubris will eventually meet Nemesis. I was very angry this week when James Foley was murdered by this thuggish group of so-called terrorists.

I will further admit that my anger deepened as I learned that of all of what we call western civilization, only the United States and the United Kingdom do not pay ransom to these thugs for their captives. In fact, that is one of the major sources of their funding. We don’t because we know better.

But it is very important to make such decision not in anger but coldly and with calculation, and with recourse to prayer, and to our conscience. And so let us reflect on our duty to God, and to man.

The first foreign war of the United States was The First Barbary War which was fought because the Bashaw of Tripoli kept demanding tribute to leave our merchantmen alone. That was in 1801.

The Uk has even older experience, summed up this way

As always, Kipling nails it.

We have an incident from the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, in which an American, named Ion Perdicaris was kidnapped by a tribal leader known as the Raisuli who demanded ransom from the Bey of Algiers, by the time it was resolved the entire Atlantic Flotilla was in Algiers harbor, ready to do what, no one knows (or knew then, for that matter) but the point was made. Do not screw with Americans. I’m fairly certain that there are equivalent British incidents somewhere in the Levant. It’s a lesson that needs to be taught periodically, it seems.

Be that as it may, wise men usually believe people who tell them that their bands of thugs are at war with them. That’s true even if our State department teenage spokeschick doesn’t understand.

I hope (forlornly, most likely) that the government is as embarrassed at her nonsense as I am.

But in any case, these thugs, who claim to be a ‘State’ also claim to be at war with the United States of America. Incidentally, the blowhard who said he was going to fly the IS flag from the White House won’t be, he’s worm food now, courtesy of the United States.

But much more importantly can we, of the west, legitimately claim this is a war, and more, a just war? Well the source for that is St. Thomas Aquinas, in The Summa Theologica; Part II, Question 40. St. Thomas says this, in part:

I answer that, In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rm. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.”

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (Questions. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine's works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

Seems pretty clear cut to me, as long as we are protecting (or attempting to, the victims of ISIS, we are fine, and I fail to see anything these folks have that we want enough to fight a war over.

I’ll readily grant that opinions over the second gulf war are divided, although I recognize that the way it worked out it would have been better not to fight it.

But that’s a reason not to attempt nation-building, not an excuse to shirk our duty to protect the weak. We have learned, or at least we should have, that we cannot, in a reasonable time, teach people how to build a western country. We accomplished it in the Philippines, Britain almost accomplished it in India (that might yet work out). But in all cases it is a very long drawn out process, requiring scores of years to centuries.

And in truth, it took us centuries to make the “rule of law’ work in our home countries, and we are again wondering if we shall have to fight a civil war for it.

The sad part is, that given our leadership in America, and maybe Britain as well (although Cameron sounds much better lately than Obama) we will likely have to wait until we have new leadership. That will have costs to our countries, and may have catastrophic cost to those who are neighbors of or conquered by IS. But our countries have never yet been ready for war when it came, and it has always cost us, and it has always cost innocent people but, it is the mark of peaceful people, I think.

Some Thoughts on Ferguson; and the Police

923 (1)No, I’m not going to tell you who is right or wrong here, I don’t know, and you don’t either. Even the prosecutor doesn’t really have a handle on it yet. I can make any argument you want on it – but it all bulls**t until the facts have been found.

Still like many of you, I have become concerned with the increasing militarization of American police. In my lifetime we have gone from, if not quite Andy Griffith, Adam 12 was a fair portrait of what we expected of our police. Firm when necessary, fair, spending more time helping people than anything else, and always respectful of their boss, the taxpayer.

That started to change after the riots in 1968, when the police found themselves with several handicaps, not least being under armed, with .38 caliber revolvers and shotguns. To carry on the TV comparison, the next hit show was SWAT, and that showed us a squad of police who had special training to handle the tough chores, snipers, barricaded suspects and stuff like that. Almost universally they were part of big city police departments, and were in actuality used rarely. And that was fine with us, we understood why sometimes the patrol officer with his pistol and shotgun wasn’t enough. (In some rural areas, the shotguns were replaced by rifles, just as in the thirty’s Thompson submachine guns, while rare, did show up occasionally.)

On TV the SWAT guys showed up in a step van, which was kind of intimidating, with its dark paint and all, but it was just a truck, many of us have driven similar.

But what we’re seeing in Ferguson is so different as to defy description. These guys don’t look, or act, like American cops at all. They look, talk, and act like the armored infantry in Fallujah, and to be honest, Ferguson likely has its problems, most cities do (some local friends say the locals are actually pretty good and most of the troublemakers are from elsewhere. I have little problem believing that) but it is by no stretch of anybody’s imagination comparable to Fallujah circa 2005.

Mark Steyn wrote on this the other day and his thinking is valuable, as usual. One thing that he reminds us is that ‘the police’ is a modern idea. The Metropolitan (London) Police were the first modern force, put together by Sir Robert Peel (Thus both Bobbies in England and Peelers in Ireland), during the Duke of Wellington’s Prime Ministership. Few men have had more fear of the mob taking over. Some of my English friends have told me that this fear of the mob is why our American emphasis on the individual nonpulses them. At which point I remind them that no less than John Adams also warned about the Mobocracy.

As they got started, establishing the force Sir Robert and his people established Nine Principles of Policing. Here they are

  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

It would be very well for many, many in police leadership to review these carefully and to understand that number 7 is literally true. We the people have delegated our rights and authority to them. They do not have any more power de jure than any other citizen, we just pay them to do it, so that we may pursue other things.

Note that here we are talking about the police, local and state. The Sheriff and his deputy goes far back in our history to the Shire Reeve who was responsible to the king for maintaining the King’s law in the counties of old England. Remember the Sheriff of Nottingham that chased Robin Hood (who was not the wonderful guy you’ve heard of, he was an early redistributionist, taking people’s private property to give to others who had not earned it). Marshals, I suspect, could trace their lineage back to the marshals of England, which was a military office, probably also the progenitor of Field Marshals.

Most police wear blue uniforms, leading to the phrase “The thin blue line” and that also goes back to Sir Robert. Law enforcement had traditionally been done (at least in the last resort) by the military, usually after reading the Riot Act, (see also: The Boston Massacre in 1770) and Peel wanted to differentiate his police from soldiers. British soldiers wore red uniforms of course, leading to such terms as Redcoats, and the not quite so nice Lobsterback, so Peel gave his people blue uniforms.

When we imported the idea, I suspect, in our usual method, we just brought it over lock, stock, and barrel. Maybe we made a mistake there though, While British troops traditionally wear red, American troops traditionally wear blue. maybe American police should wear red uniforms, of course then they’d look like the Mounties, and that wouldn’t be bad thing, either.

The thing is when I was young we were taught that we would act as we dressed, and just importantly, that was also how people would treat us. We would behave more like ladies and gentlemen if we dressed like it. Our sports teams were required to wear a jacket and tie (until you had an award sweater or jacket, and you still wore the tie). Basically we dressed like civilized (sort of, anyway) human beings. We almost always wore a shirt, not a t-shirt advertising something and so forth. It did no harm, and I think it instilled a sense of self-worth in us. What does that have to do with this? If you are wearing a police uniform, likely you’ll act like a police officer. Yes, I do dislike the newer uniforms with their stuffed pockets, drab gear, and ball caps. I think they reduce respect for the wearer.

But if you dress like an infantryman, you’ll likely act like one too, and that is a lot of what I see around St. Louis right now. I’m not saying those police think they are in combat, or anything else derogatory about them, I just think they would get better results looking like police officers, and not soldiers. And incidentally, my recollection is that the British down around Basra in 2004 and or so, got much better results when they took off their version of the Robocop helmets and wore there berets, on patrol. Apparently the locals found them much more approachable.

So maybe this whole militarization thing is not only wrong, for a civilian agency, but counterproductive, as well.

[Update 14:48] I take nothing I said here back but, if your would like to know what is really going on in Ferguson, go here for a local perspective. CL is one of the best bloggers I know, and never wrong on her home town. (At least as far as I know.)

Video Friday

Let’s start with Bill Whittle on Putin (Hint: he’s not a friend of freedom)

 

And Andrew Klavan explains income redistribution

 

Simplified a bit, he doesn’t account for the huge overhead involved but, he is correct.

Bill Whittle again on Robin Williams and 20 other very important people who died that day.

 

A few days ago, Sean Hannity interviewed PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and it’s here

 

And this, just to round out the day

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