There’s No Such Thing as a Clean War by Amanda S. Green


There’s No Such Thing as a Clean War by Amanda S. Green

If you follow the news, you know one of the trending topics today is word our government might be close to coming to an agreement with the Taliban. As I noted over at Victory Girls earlier this morning, this should be something to celebrate. In this case, it’s not. How can it be when you tie bringing home our troops from what has turned into a 19-year mission where their hands have been tied and victory has not been an achievable option?

Our politicians are to blame but so is the media and certain segments of the general population. Or, as Thomas Sowell wrote in his essay Pacifism and War (Controversial Essays, pg 122)

Although most Americans seem to understand the gravity of the situation that terrorism has put us in—and the need for some serious military response, even if that means dangers to the lives of us all—there are still those who insist on posturing, while on the edge of a volcano. In the forefront are college students who demand a “peaceful” response to an act of war. But there are others who are old enough to know better, who are still repeating the pacifist platitudes of the 1930s that contributed so much to bringing on World War II.

We saw that attitude on full display in the Democratic debates the other night when Elizabeth Warren pledged to not use nuclear weapons in a “first strike”. According to her, there are diplomatic and economic solutions that are better, more effective means of settling a dispute. “[W]e should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution.”

While I agree we shouldn’t ask the military to take on “jobs” that don’t have a military solution, we also can’t tie their hands. That is especially true when you have an enemy determined to destroy our country and all it stands for.

Of course, that becomes increasingly more difficult when members of our own government want to destroy the country and the foundations upon which it’s built.

This isn’t a new problem. Far from it, in fact, as Professor Sowell points out when he writes about a former ambassador under Jimmy Carter after the 9/11 attacks. According to this paragon of diplomatic virtue, it was our responsibility to look into the “root causes” behind the attacks. You see, there are many in the Middle East who have a feeling of “alienation” and “sense of grievance” against us. (Essays, pg 122)

In other words, it was all our fault. Forgive and forget about what was done to us, to non-military targets and civilians. Our capitalist ways were the reason why terrorists targeted our country that awful day.

But, following Professor Sowell’s example, let’s go back further. We’ll have to cross the Atlantic but he gives us a shining example of just how bad this search for the root causes and search for non-military solutions can blow up in our faces. In this particular example, we have British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

Now, I know our public schools aren’t giving our children the education they need, so they probably have no clue who Chamberlain was, much less his role in the events leading up to World War II. They don’t know he spoke a good game but that it was just a game in the end. One where the enemy didn’t play by the same rules he did.

“It has always seemed to me that in dealing with foreign countries we do not give ourselves a chance of success unless we try to understand their mentality, which is not always the same as our own, and it really is astonishing to contemplate how the identically same facts are regarded from two different angles.” (Essays, pg 123)

It all sounds good, doesn’t it? And, in many ways, he was right. We do need to understand the motivations of those who would act against us. It helps anticipate what their next move might be. However, it is what we do with that understanding that’s important. If we don’t use it to protect our nation and our allies, we have failed. Good intentions matter not when people are injured or killed because we didn’t act.

Chamberlain, as Sowell points out, approached negotiating with Hitler in much the same manner someone would negotiate a business contract. He wanted “remove the causes of strife or war.” He also wanted “a general settlement of the grievances of the world without war.” (Essays, pg 123) The problem was Hitler didn’t want the same thing. He used those negotiations to delay Britain’s entry into the war. He had no intention of living up to his part of any agreement that saw anything but the complete victory of Nazi Germany.

For 40 years, we’ve seen the same scenario play out in the Middle East. The Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS have no desire to play nice with the United States and its allies. Not in the long term. The Taliban will say what is needed to get our troops out of Afghanistan. Then it will return to business as usual, but on a grander scale. We have to ask ourselves if we are willing to pay that price.

Terrorism is alive and well in the Middle East. We would be fools to think it is contained there. We have first-hand experience with it here on our own shores. Giving in to the Taliban for a promise they will enter into a ceasefire with the Kabul government is folly. Believing they will disavow al-Qaeda is believing in a pipe dream. All you have to do is look at their actions to know this diplomatic solution won’t work. The Taliban doesn’t recognize the Kabul government as anything more than an American puppet government. It continues daily attacks against Afghan forces, not to mention our own forces there.

But we are willing to continue the pull-out. Once again proving we are quick to respond but fail at the follow-through.

This isn’t a knock on our military. It would much prefer either being given free rein to go in, kick butt and defeat the enemy to becoming a peace keeping force with its hands tied. This is on the government, the media and the vocal minority who want us to fight only “clean wars” where no one is hurt and no property is damaged. They would prefer us being compliant little sheeples like those people in the original Star Trek where computers fought the war and simply listed who was killed in the latest “strike”. The war was nothing but a war in cyberspace with no explosions, no bullets flying and people willingly walking into the death chambers because that was how to fight war the “right” way.

Whether we were right or wrong to go into Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the Middle East, we’re there. We committed troops to fighting al-Qaeda and ISIS. We tasked these men and women to a mission our government wasn’t ready for them to actually win. That is an insult to them and a disservice to not only our allies but our nation.

Professor Sowell understands the mindset of our enemy better than many in government and certainly so many of those who tell us the war is our fault:

What Winston Churchill understood at the time, and Chamberlain did not, was that Hitler was driven by what Churchill called “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.” That was also what drove the men who drove the planes into the World Trade Center. (Essays, pg.123)

These pacifists who, like Chamberlain and like those in the Carter Administration, have blood on their hands. They failed to take into account that we must do more than understand why someone hates us. They failed to understand that there is some hatred that runs so deep, is so pathological in its origins, that diplomatic solutions simply aren’t going to work. They will play the game, just as Hitler did, and laugh at us behind our backs. They will lose respect for our leaders and for our country (Does any of this sound familiar, Obama?) and all the while they will plot our downfall.

As dangerous as the possible agreement with the Taliban is, the thought of having a president who swears in front of the world that we won’t be the first to use nuclear weapons, even if it is to protect ourselves, scares the shit out of me. Hell, even Obama knew better than to change the policy that we reserve the right to use our nukes in a first strike if necessary. But good ole Lizzie, showing her true socialist roots and her true loyalties, apparently has no problem weakening the country in the eyes of its allies and its enemies.

“We don’t expand trust around the world by saying, ‘you know, we might be the first one to use a nuclear weapon,’” she said. “We have to have an announced policy that is one the entire world can live with.”

Riiight. Let’s build trust in our enemies, trust that they can take the first strike against us, making sure we aren’t able to respond. Way to go, Lizzie. You just announced to the world that you have no problem with the US being nuked.

Her comments are much too close to those of George Bernard Shaw, who advocated disarmament in the years leading up to World War II, when asked what the British should do if Hitler’s troops crossed the Channel. His response? “Welcome them as tourists” or words to that effect.

Or, to put it in more current terms, Warren wants to hang a big sign over our country, proclaiming us a “gun free zone”. Sure our enemies will respect our borders then. They’ll respect them exactly the same way shooters have respected gun free zones in schools or businesses that prohibit their employees from concealed carry.

We need to heed Professor Sowell’s words at the end of the essay:

What a shame our schools and colleges neglect history, which could save us from continuing to repeat the idiocies of the past, which are even more dangerous now in a nuclear age. (Essays, pg 124)

What a shame indeed, especially when what little history they are taught follows an agenda aimed at weakening the country and ignoring its fundamental foundations of freedom of the press, of speech, of the right to assemble, the right to bear arms, etc. Yes, recognize and understand the enemy but do not cave to him. Do not show a weak hand. As Senator Lindsey Graham said with regard to the Taliban, we need to keep our boot on their throats. It is the only way to win that particular war.

But first, we need to win the war at home. The war too many of our own politicians are waging against us. That is the one war we can’t afford to lose.

258 thoughts on “There’s No Such Thing as a Clean War by Amanda S. Green

  1. One “crazy thing” about that Star Trek episode is that civilians “marched into the death chambers” because the computers said that they were killed. 😈

    Right! It’s one thing to say that “people in other cities” should do so “because the computers said that they were killed” but another thing when you and yours have to do so.

    It’s Not Logical! 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈

    1. Those cultures seem very Soviet, don’t they? The ideal Soviet Citizen, happy resigned to die for the greater good of society!

      1. Very Soviet propaganda, rather. Talk with folks who used to live there and you will get a very different view of how things actually worked vs. the Glorious Workers Paradise per Pravda.

    2. Peer pressure. “Either you march in there, or we’re going to pick you up and toss you in there.” Anyone else see parallels with Nazi Germany in that episode?

      1. I’m just not sure that it would work in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

        IE “Marching people away” worked in those societies because people thought “if we keep our heads down, it wouldn’t happen to us”. But in that episode it was “keep your head down and you will still be marched to death”.

        Of course, the average German in Nazi Germany wasn’t in danger of “being marched away” and the Jews couldn’t imagine that any German government would send Jews to Death Camps. IE They knew that Nazi didn’t like them but “killing all Jews” would only happen in someplace like Poland NOT Germany.

        1. What the German Jews (many of them) could not imagine was that what the Nazis were saying applied to THEM. After all, they were good German Jews, not those dirty Eastern European Jews.

        2. One of the interesting things about the Holocaust is that it was much better to be a Jewish citizen of a German ally than to be either a refugee or a Jew in an area under German military occupation.
          Finland and Bulgaria, for example, kept “their” Jews alive, though the Bulgarians turned over the refugees. The Jews of Poland, the Netherlands, occupied (and Vichy) France, and the Soviet Union, OTOH, were slaughtered in job lots.

          1. It also really, really sucked to be a Jew in an area where the local Catholic authorities resisted ‘their’ Jews being taken, publicly.
            (about as much as it sucked to be Catholic, at that– check out the Dutch numbers)

      2. I see more our current prog-dominated society, taken to its ultimate end. These people weren’t sending the ‘Other’ off to be disintegrated, they were propagandized into believing that this was how they maintained ‘peace’. They had swallowed so completely the lie that “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing” that they lost all sense of self-preservation.

        The only difference I see with today’s prog-arc-of-history is that the whole scenario wouldn’t last long because there wouldn’t be enough population to keep going. The folks on Eminiar VII were at least reproducing.

      3. And unless the “pick you up and toss you in there” included all family members by marriage and genetics for at least two levels each way in the tree, every one you toss is going to breed at least a couple of rebels.

  2. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

    ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    Sun Tsu understood something that high schoolers, college students, and too many people like Elizabeth Warren don’t understand: you are going to have a war, sooner or later, like it or not, ready or not, somebody is going to try to bash you over the head, kill you, and take your stuff, and no amount of talking or bribery is going to change that.

    Sure, absolutely try for a peaceful, diplomatic solution that doesn’t sell our souls to the devil. But you have to be prepared to walk away from the negotiation table and come back with a machine gun and grenades. It’s one of the reasons why I applauded President Trump when he walked out of negotiations with North Korea. And why I recognized the MSM and the Dems screaming about it were either total clueless, or in cahoots with our enemies.

    1. “the Dems screaming about it were either total clueless, or in cahoots with our enemies.”
      “the Dems screaming about it were in cahoots with our enemies.”
      There fixed that for you.

    2. I am not sure I agree that Fauxcahantas does not understand — there is ample cause to believe she’s simply pandering to her party’s activists and trusting the general public (or rather, enough of the general public) is ignorant.

      It isn’t as if we can rely on Progressives to keep their promises once elected.

  3. Fauxahontas seems to be assuming that the first enemy strike would be on some area populated by Deplorables. After all, it just wouldn’t be fair for a strike to hit Moscow-on-the-Potomac first thing.

    1. Four planes. Two targeted the World Trade Center twin towers. One hit the Pentagon. Speculation as to whether flight 93 was headed for either Congress or the White House before the passengers took action.
      And using fully fueled cross country flights to maximize damage.
      That won’t happen again, probably. What’s more likely is a nuke in a shipping container taking out one of our ports. Which is the real reason for the concern with NorK having them and Iran working furiously to get them. Not because either would attack directly, but because they would supply one to some terrorist organization while exercising plausible deniability.

      1. I was thinking more old-school state-originated attacks. IIRC, Minot still has a fair number of missiles for the ICBM club, and any ASW naval bases would be early targets for a seagoing nuke threat.

        An appropriate response to terrorist-originated nuke attacks can be left as an exercise for the reader. The Mikado comes to mind.

        1. I do understand that we have quite the cadre of wonks and boffins extremely skilled in examining the effects and residue from a nuclear blast to determine where the device originated from.
          And we already know that at least the current President is a fan of appropriate and comparable response to attacks. Our enemies, should they be so imprudent, will discover that works both ways.
          Trump was not willing to kill over 100 innocents as an exchange for the loss of a drone. Do not expect that same response to the loss of a populated American city.

        2. No.
          Terrorists using a naval shipping strike will do so at a major port, and preferably at a major financial center. NYC, SF, Boston are the top three financial cities in the U.S. with active high volume ports. D.C. is actually too difficult to get a ship into, and blowing up Congress would actually make the country work better by stripping out the corrupt elitests at the top, and uniting the country to clean the jihadi’s out once and for all, using said nukes.

          Funny that topic came up because I was looking at the top financial centers in the world and noticed that most of them are major shipping nodes.

          1. “I was looking at the top financial centers in the world and noticed that most of them are major shipping nodes.”

            Because they are major shipping nodes. After all, work at a distance through telecommuting is of exceedingly recent origin.

          2. I wrote about this before here, IMHO … when the then president O-dude was giving Iran the ability to make nukes, I believe one of two things will happen.
            First they will hand over at least one nuke to a terrorist group.
            Than either the nuke will end up going off in Isreal, or it will end up going off in a US city.

            most likely US city will be New York, who represents (to the terrorist groups, that includes some countries) the United States, more than any other city.

            The best part will be all the media that help O-dude to give our enemies the weapons to strike at us (nukes, open borders, attacking ICE, etc.)

            The worst part will be the death toll of millions of innocents.

          3. In his novel Lightning Fall, Bill Quick had a nuke detonated in New Orleans. That would pretty much shut down any Mississippi River traffic upon which much of our foriegn trade depends.

            1. He doesn’t understand foreigners, let alone ARABS.
              NYC, LA, San Fran (maybe) and MAYBE Chicago and Dallas.
              Other American cities don’t exist for foreigners.

            2. I would prefer that not happen, as I will be moving rather close to N’awlins in the not too distant future for a period of a few years.

          4. you forgot L.A. . Major fianncial center, major shipping port. SF’s port is significantly less active these days.

            1. (RAND did a big study on the potential effects… there was a bunch of public articles on it. )

            2. Imagine the publicity effect if they nuke not just LA but Hollywood. Terror is a psychological war and setting Hollywood aflame would be a major coup.

              Of course, it might well be a huge gain for our side, too.

              1. There really is no centralized Hollywood target anymore. the studios are all separated by miles, and (at least) hills if not mountains. I understand the psychological effect, but they would actually just be hitting a tourist area.

                1. It’s California. The enviro/hazmat/safety people would close down everything south of Sacramento while squealing for Federal Superfund money.

                2. Their goal would be achieved by having the HOLLYWOOD sign in flames. You surely don’t think the rest of the world realizes that most Hollywood production is done in Burbank, in New York, in Vancouver, in Toronto — anywhere the Craft unions don’t hold sway?

                  It’s about the symbols, which is why the jihadis and the Progressives share a common enemy.

                3. However, the bad guys don’t necessarily realize that. It was a joke in the movie 1942, but the singular focus on ‘Horryrood” is a common misunderstanding of foreigners.

            3. But SF is also the second greatest symbol of American Sexual Perversion. Las Vegas is number one, but you can’t get a ship to it.

          5. Mike I think I have to disagree with you on the terrorist targets (assuming they are of the predominant islamic strain) attacking ports. Truly, if you wanted to cause economic havoc hit the port of Long beach about late August mid September. All the Xmas stuff is arriving which will be needed for all those black Friday sales that mean the difference between profit and just surviving for a lot of retail. Break that supply chain and it will be a finacially ugly Xmas season.
            The thing is that’s NOT their worldview. Their eschatology is that there’s a big final battle between Dar Al Islaam and all the rest of the world (Dar Al Harb). And they see their leaders and much of their population mouthing these beliefs but really not giving a rats posterior, they like all the shiny things the west brings. So the goal is to instigate an attack on Islam such that Islam is united and generates the Caliphate. That’s part of what Bin Laden shot for with the 9/11 attacks, and probably why its best we didn’t go whole hog beserk like we wanted to do.

            And as for nukes any nation state wants to avoid attributable use against the US. Why? Because we have a couple thousand of them. and the policy has been since the 60’s that ANY attack on the US soil (or allies) with WMD (which includes Chemical and Biological) shall be met with a like response up to and including massive retaliation. And right now the only like response we have is 100-300KT nuclear weapons. Admittedly in the previous administration they’d have hemmed and hawed due to a lack of intestinal (or perhaps testicular) fortitude. For all its oddness and faults I do NOT see that being an issue in this administration.

            Hitting us with a single nuke is about like an amateur sucker punching Mohamed Ali in his prime. Yeah you may manage to get a shiner on him but you are in for the butt whooping of a lifetime.

            1. The Japanese Empire – or at least, the policy-setting generals of the Japanese Army – managed to persuade themselves they could kick America in the yarbles and we’d back down and genuflect after their show of force.

              Terrorists… who knows what goes on in their heads. Bombing a restaurant in London will make the British recognize an independent Ireland? Of course! Killing a bunch of Olympic athletes would cause Israel to vanish? Why not?

            2. we have a couple thousand of [nuclear devices]

              Caution: contents subject to deterioration while in storage and may no longer be functional.

              1. To some degree true. The tritium for boosting is probably getting old, half life is like 6 years. Production for that was shut down by the previous administration. The lithium-6 for the dry fusion weapons is stable (i.e. half life limited by proton half llfe life something like 10^31 years min). PU-239 half life 34K years, U-235 in the hundreds of millions. More of an issue may be the launch platforms Trident D5 and Minuteman III from the 80’s. There were some shelf life issues with solder (tin whiskers) that plagued much of the militaries spares in the early 90’s which can result in weird shorts in circuit boards. Other thing is the initiators the doo dads that provide the inital neutron. You have to have to have a clearance near to the Author himself to know how those are made, but the little reading provides suggests they’d tend to be shortish half life Alpha emitters.

      2. “That won’t happen again..”

        Which is why the idiocy of the TSA annoys me so much. Anyone with an IQ over room temperature who gave it a little thought could see that the next bunch of yahoos (of whatever stripe) who tried to take over a planeload of Americans was going to get stuffed into the overhead luggage compartment in somewhat used condition. Unfortunately too few people thought about it. And all too many emoted all over the place. Bush had other matters demanding his attention, and didn’t take the time and energy to sell the public on the idea that a Federal agency taking over airport security was a bad idea.

        Hell, maybe he didn’t think about it himself. He had a lot going on.

        And anyone with the smarts of a cherrystone clam was busy doing something USEFUL. So the TSA filled up with drones, people who wanted petty power, cowboys one fitness report away from being thrown out of more useful agencies, and empire builders.

        The airports are probably no more secure than they ever were – or if they are it’s because of the passengers – and we have another bureaucracy to deal with.

        I doubt that the next big strike will be against DC or New York; too many eyes. I could see it happening in someplace like Detroit; a dying city with badly overstretched police. A nuke doesn’tmstrike me as likely, but I suppose it’s possible. I’d bet on a fuel-air bomd or a dust initiation bomb.

        And then life gets messy. As I’ve mentioned before, Proggies of my acquaintance told me all through the Bush years that we were “lashing out in unreasoning anger”. Which is bushwa, since Mecca doesn’t glow in the dark. Set off a major explosion in a US city, even one that’s mostly empty, and ‘unreasoning anger’ becomes a real possibility.

        Somebody should get the Japanese to have a talk with the more extreme regimes (*cough* Iran *cough*) about just how unpleasant life gets wen the US is really pissed at you.

        1. Or Mr. Bush, junior, saw the Nudie Scope and the Federal take over of airport security as a feature, not a bug.

          I used to think he was unfairly maligned: A mediocre man and Rockefeller Republican making the best of a bad situation. Out of his depth, but not making deliberate mistakes.

          But that man is awfully friendly with the Clinton Crime syndicate and the rest of that gang. So maybe not.

        2. My method would have been to mandate that airlines offer a discount to CCW holders, provided they fly armed. When you never know which passenger will stick a gun in your ear, even the low IQ can figure out that hijacking is a no-go.

          Some years back a source I considered reliable told me that the reason we haven’t had a repeat of 9/11 is because the morning after, Bush called the Saudis and said flat out: “We know you were behind it. If it happens again, we’ll nuke Mecca.”

          We’re now a generation on down the line, and there’s been time enough for our enemies to forget that threat.

        3. Someone wrote right after the fiasco of the ‘better’ airport security began what they perceived the right way to screen passengers was.

          They said to take passengers into a featureless room in groups of 40 or so.
          Then, release a man into the room claiming to have a bomb and a knife, and that he was going to kill them all.
          Anyone not engaged in beating the man senseless was to never be allowed to fly again.

          There’s problems with that, but it certainly showed the better attitude toward security than the “gun-free zone” approach to it. Because we all know how well that works on the ground.

        4. Airports are less secure than they used to be. Hell, half of TSA could be Islamic jihadis their background checks are so bad.

  4. The other thing that needs to be done is GET THE LAWYERS OFF THE BATTLEFIELD!!! Or even near it.
    Commanders now have to consult Lawyers at ever lower levels about almost everything.
    Soldiers have to worry about everything they do because some Lawyer can say it is unlawful and send him to jail.
    Lawyers are the New Commissars or Political Officers to see that the Military does what THEY think is right.
    That is why the military has Rules of Engagement (ROE) that are insane. The Police in the US have loser ROEs.

    And beyond this is the Idea that the Military can fight people who hide behind noncombatants and not kill ANY noncombatants!!!
    I am sorry, the Taliban (Like many other barbarians) ONLY RESPECT strength, brutal raw strength. If they don’t respect you HOW can you ever make an agreement with them???

    Besides all that the Taliban are Muslims and the Quran tells them that any treaties or agreements they make with non-Muslims are worthless and should be broken as soon as it is to the Muslims advantage to do so. Any agreement will not be worth the paper it is printed on.

    1. To be clear. To make the Taliban or any Muslims KEEP an agreement they have to believe that breaking it will NEVER be in their interests.

      The only way to do that is that they RESPECT you and believe that you will punish them with raw brutal strength and without mercy if they break the agreement.

      The US is not even in view of the Taliban believing that.

      1. Even if they – or some of their leaders anyway – will believe that some current administration will punish them enough of them are quite well aware of your voting systems – as enough have probably even gotten some higher education in your country, or at least visited and lived there, and know people who do – and the likelihood that a few years down the line you are likely again to end up with leaders who will not. So maybe lie low for a few years so that the Americans stop thinking about whatever the most recent crime against them was, and maybe vote in people whose ideology is against a war no matter what, and then…

        1. Or to put it another way: the more the Democrat presidential aspirants look like they’ve a chance of defeating Trump, the more our geopolitical foes have reason to be uncooperative and downright disruptive.

          Not just the Taliban, but also the Chinese trade negotiators and the Norks.

          Just so, the Hillarycrats (and Comey and Strozk and Nadler and …) pushing the Russian collusion myth undermined US security by delegitimizing Trump’s presidency.

      2. In the case of the nuking of US territory:

        1. Launch of ONE ICBM (MIRVed).
        2. Another WILL be launched EVERY HOUR until your UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER or COMPLETE DESTRUCTION – your choice.
        3. Mosques? Those are called TARGETS now. Yes, even AFTER surrender – we’ll just stop using nukes. YOU DONE F—ED UP. GOT IT?
        4. 3. 2. 1. LAUNCH. Bye now!

      3. That’s the tragedy of our staying. Bush waged a limited war for limited ends by limited means, and demonstrated that we could simultaneously take down two entrenched governments in a couple of months. Had we left it at that, the object lesson would have been a lot clearer; police your own nutjobs, or we’ll take you out.


        Nation building CAN be done. The British managed it in India. Counting from the establishment of the East India Company (and I think you have to) it took them about three and a half centuries.

        We lack the attention span.

      4. It’s an Arab thing. According to my father, you don’t have that problem with Iranians.

        Smooth as butter, but what the Sheik says to you Mr. American High Ranking fellah to be polite and make an alliance, that he is going to do, means zip, when Sheik so-and-so, another important ally, wants the opposite. Or it’s just not convenient right now.

        Unless it hurts like fire not to follow through. Which is counter to how Americans normally like to behave.

        1. Hence the utility of Gunboat Diplomacy. Cross the Victorian British and you could expect a warship in one of your more important harbors, initiating a little urban renewal.

    2. Oh, I completely disagree! The problem isn’t the lawyers being on the battlefield, it is our deployment of them. They should be used for two general purposes: ablative meat shields and as whatchacallums – targets used to draw enemy fire so our sharpshooters can identify their locations.

      1. >> “They should be used for two general purposes: ablative meat shields and as whatchacallums – targets used to draw enemy fire so our sharpshooters can identify their locations.”

        “Ablative spotters?”

    3. “people who hide behind noncombatants” are committing the War Crime of Perfidy, and are subject to summary execution for the non combatant deaths.

      This needs to be emphasized.

  5. I agreed with the essayist who did a long piece about fifteen years ago, defining the modern Jacksonian American – one of those core beliefs is that wars are not fought on a dimmer switch. Either make it a total war to win … or stay home and don’t bother.

    1. Yep – the real reason the Mullahs in Tehran were panicking and packing getaway bags back when the US Army was Thunder-Running up the Tigris and right over the Iraqi Army towards Baghdad was that they knew the Iranian Army was at precisely the same level of capability given their long stalemate in the Iran-Iraq war, and if it were them they would take Baghdad, swing right, and drive to Tehran. And there was nothing the Iranian Army could do to stop it.

      The main problem was (and remains) there are no good choices for General-elevated-to-client-King left within the Iranian theocracy. But the entire region would be much less noisy with the mullahs out of the picture.

      But the Jacksonian war observation is spot on. In fact, that’s my take on much of Bush’s polling numbers during the bad part of the Iraqi insurgency: The pollsters were asking “Do you approve of how the Bush administration is running the war” questions with no effort whatsoever to distinguish whether the US public wanted to be nicer and do more hearts-and-minds, or just wanted the military to bounce the rubble harder until the enemy quit.

      1. Our mistake (fostered by the Democrats and MSM, But I Repeat myself) was in trying to get from Evil Despotism to Democracy in a single stride. It requires a series of transitional stages: Benevolent Despot, Monarchal-type Parliamentarian, then Democrat Republic. It requires an infrastructure that despots don’t allow and require time to reinstall.

      2. The pollsters were asking ‘Do you approve of how the Bush administration is running the war’ questions

        Yes – stupid poling question. The better question would be: “Do you think we should stop hitting them or hit them harder?”

        Of course, that assumes the pollsters were interested in an answer that did not further their agenda. Worse, it soon causes people to shade their answer in anticipation of how the pollsters will interpret the response. Before long all the polling is just make work, divorced from Reality.

        1. I believe RES is incorrect about the pollster’s asking a stupid question.

          I believe the question they asked was exactly the one they needed to be able to report the results they wanted to report.

          That is to say, the question was a misdirection, it’s like when the magician with something in one hand asks you to “pick a hand”, whilst being sufficiently non-specific about what your answer means that he can respond in whatever way is required for his “trick” to work.

      3. I advocated soon after 9/11 that we should have invaded Iraq first (long-standing, daily violations of the 1991 cease-fire, trying to assassinate an ex-President), then swung east and drove through Iran (letting them know that if they so much as sneezed in the direction of our troops that we would make a stop in Tehran), and into Afghanistan. If we needed to march all the way to the border of Kashmir, that was fine.

        Then, once all of that had been devastated, we brought everyone home and called it a day. And we let the a**holes who lived there figure out what to do with their sh*tholes.

        1. Yeah if you haven’t got the will to tough out the 30 -50 years and 2 -3 generations you need to fix a culture (CF post WWII Japan and Germany) and the belief that you are RIGHT to do such (i.e. the culture you are providing is better than what they had) you have only three workable options.
          1) Essentially destroy their cultural basis so they are no longer a threat (essentially cultural Genocide)
          2) Break them back to a point that they are at sustenance level technology and can no longer sustain a threat outside their borders
          3) The roman solution, make them a part of your empire as second or third class citizens and then SLOWLY work the useful members into your culture

          1 is wholly unpalatable, 3 really isn’t much better. 2 is going to guarantee a whole lot of collateral casualties in any urbanized area. 2 is the least of the weevils and it really ain’t that good. In the US Sherman’s march to the sea was kind of 2 and there’s still folks 150 years later that will get their backs up over that.
          And fixing the cultures may be hard Japan and Germany had really only been modern nation states for under 100 years. Unwinding that mess vs unwinding 1300 + years of nonsense is a different issue.

          1. I think you’re optimistic if you think 30-50 years will do it. To get 2 generations, you need ~100 years. (Heck, even God took 40 years.)

            I advocate for #4: destroy their ability to make war. If it happens again, destroy their ability to do much of anything. If they don’t learn after that one, wipe out the remainder altogether.

            As to the culture, you can try to change it after the first step. If they don’t seem willing, then you can predict the second step.

            I’m a big fan of sowing salt in their fields, too.

    2. I really wonder how much of this limited warfare mindset comes from Vietnam. Our goals there seem to have been to drain as much capital out of the Soviet and Chinese economies for as long as possible. Similarly, once Korolev died, Apollo no longer had a geopolitical purpose. If the goal is to keep the enemy fighting at a level that drains his resources, Vietnam worked fairly well. The same strategy is useless in the current situation, since we are finding out opponents with petrodollars.

      1. You might have a point, there… If that was how the idiots had been thinking. Mostly, they weren’t–Nobody doing “strategery” on our side was even capable of articulating such a thought process, and it’s only in post-war apologia that we start to see these ideas espoused by people seeking to make a silk purse out of sow’s ears. Same sort of thing you find in German generals, post-WWII: Self-serving, self-justifying after-the-fact excuse-making to make themselves look good.

        Sad fact is, we got into Vietnam mostly because Kennedy made a campaign point of the whole “domino theory”, in order to castigate Nixon and Eisenhower’s administration. Same with the so-called “missile gap” and “bomber gap”. Nixon couldn’t refute those claims without breaking national security, and Kennedy kept right on claiming it even after he was briefed that there were no such things. He was also told about the inadvisability of involvement in South Vietnam, which Eisenhower had over-ruled due to the Joint Chief’s assessments of South Vietnam’s military potential. Kennedy campaigned on all three points, won election, and then had to pay the piper by spending billions of dollars we didn’t need to in order to “close” those gaps. Which got the Soviets to start their counter-measures, like putting missiles into Cuba.

        There was no “strategy” that got us into Vietnam–Just internal politics, and a vast cupidity that boggles the mind, to look back on it. You wonder why the Soviets were what they were? Consider the effect of what Kennedy did, and the impact of it all. Under Eisenhower, the Soviets were starting to act a little more sanely, damp down on the Stalin-era madness. Kennedy comes along, and suddenly all the militarist wet dreams start to look real–Which was when/where the Soviets really went off the rails with their economy, trying to support the military machine that Stalin had left them with.

        There was a very interesting white paper or thesis out there that I read once, which went over all the various reasons that the Kennedy administration had really screwed things up–Before his election, using the bogey-man of non-existent Soviet military superiority, the Eisenhower administration had been content to let the Soviets maintain the charade of their superior numbers. Eisenhower knew the real numbers, and he was content to let the Soviets publicly assert superiority, while keeping US numbers realistic. After Kennedy glommed onto those faked numbers, and making an issue of them…? The Soviets had to do something, and they did. Which, eventually, some twenty-odd years later, resulted in their bankruptcy.

        Kennedy was a far more damaging president that anyone will really acknowledge. Were you to know the real details of what went on, during his election and his term, you’d know that. But, since we’ve been selling the martyred Christ-figure story about him for so long, we’re never going to admit what a damned idiot he really was. It’s a miracle he didn’t get us into a full-scale nuclear war with the Soviets during his years in office.

        1. I’ve never before considered the possibility, but it strikes me that the Vietnam War “Limited Strike” strategy was an artifact of our experience in N. Korea a decade earlier (when most of our commanders would have been somewhat more junior.) Their greatest fear was probably that we would trigger a repeat of that decade’s Human Wave.

          Obviously, their strategy to avoid that rerun was less than effective.

          1. And by the late 1960’s China was a nuclear power.

            But the conventional wisdom regarding the Vietnam War ignores one important part. We actually had won the war. Nixon’s Vietnamization strategy worked. It created a South Vietnam military that was capable, with US supplies and air support, of keeping the North Vietnamese out. That, combined with the American bombing campaign over North Vietnam, brought the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table. Unfortunately, the Watergate scandal crippled the White House’s political capital and brought in a batch of Progressive congressmen who had spent a decade campaigning against the Vietnam War. There was no way they were going to admit that their claims that the war was unwinnable and therefore unjust were wrong, and there was no way in hell that they were going to give Nixon a political win, even after he resigned, so they cut US support to South Vietnam. Anyone with half a brain could see that there was no way South Vietnam alone could stand up to North Vietnam backed by China and Russia, so South Vietnam quickly collapsed.

            1. Sorry – I wrote hastily before. It was LBJ’s and McNamara’s (mis)management of the war that was shaped by the Korea experience. Nixon and Kissinger played the Chinese as part of their Vietnamization strategy.

              Which worked.

              Until the Dems, as you note, desperate to prove the war was unwinnable and not simply unwinnable by them, tanked, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. They needed that war to be futile, they needed Nixon not be proven right.

              1. To be fair, it takes time to build an effective military. Especially when you have to build a national identity strong enough to motivate people to sacrifice themselves first.

                1. Yes – which is why the question I most wanted the Media to explore after the Fall of Saddam was: How long does it take to build an effective Army NCO corps?

                  There were other, similar fundamental questions about rebuilding a nation I wondered about, but the MSM wasn’t interested in shedding light in those corners, either.

                  There was an important role to be played by the MSM, reflecting the change effected by the internet and cable television, but the production of in-depth documentary reporting was not what they’d gone to J-School to practice.

                  It’s as if fifteen years after the Moneyball revolution all sportswriters were willing to give us was game summaries, player/manager interviews, and the same old out-dated stats. All of that is already available! Try providing deper insight into how and why these things you’ve been describing have happened!

                  1. “Journalist” comes from a Sanskrit phrase meaning “person who knows nothing about everything.”

                  2. “Yes – which is why the question I most wanted the Media to explore after the Fall of Saddam was: How long does it take to build an effective Army NCO corps?”

                    Now, that is an interesting question you ask, right there. Very interesting.

                    The first thing you have to consider is that the construct “an effective Army NCO corps” is kinda-sorta dependent on the way you make war. If you want to make war the way the UK and the US do it, then the answer really is “hundreds of years”, because you first have to remake Iraqi culture over to match/emulate the UK and US, which is not going to be at all easy. It also won’t be gentle. Such a thing is probably not even possible, to be quite honest.

                    The other path would be to consider the question in terms of “How do you build a winning Arab army in the absence of an over-arching religious and political framework that’s culturally compatible with Iraqi Arab social systems…”, and that one, my friend, is one that we never tried.

                    Around 2007-08, we’d done a lot of work with the Iraqis, trying to mold an Army in our image. Didn’t take–When Obama and his wrecking crew came in, they cut the deployments for all the trainers that were supposed to go over 2009-2011, and cut back on the boots-on-the-ground supervision we’d had in place to ensure little things like the Iraqi troops actually getting paid. Things started going to hell in a handbasket shortly after that didn’t happen, and nobody cared. By the time ISIS came calling, all those men we’d trained earlier had gone home, tired of not being paid, and also because they were considered not politically reliable. So, the formations we’d built were then filled with raw, untrained recruits who got zero support from Baghdad, and they’re the ones that ISIS crushed so easily. Wasn’t the same Iraqi army, at all.

                    We’d had a start on things, but the problems were probably insoluble in terms of a self-supporting effective army being established. The cultural matrix just isn’t there… We might have managed something effective, along the lines of the Arab Legion, but that’s something we didn’t have time for, and the Iraqis wouldn’t have supported, because it would have been too independent. Not to mention, too corrosive to Arab culture.

                    So… Forming an army dependent on a US/UK style NCO corps? Nope. Not going to happen, absent generations of time with which to work. The culture just isn’t there.

                    What might have worked, and which we did not try, was building something effective out of the tribal elements, based on their culture. That might have worked, but nobody had the sense to do it.

                    Part of the problem we have is that we keep trying to impose our sense of how to do things on cultures and nations where that’s totally inappropriate. There’s no social trust across the nation of Iraq the way there is across the US–You can have an American NCO from the Bronx lead troops from the Deep South, and have it work. They have cultural differences, but the Southerners aren’t going to be worried that their Bronx sergeant is going to steal their pay, and demand that they bring their sisters for him to f**k, which did happen in the Iraqi army, among many other things we just can’t fathom. In Iraq, it’s literally the law of nature, red in tooth and claw; there’s zero cultural expectation in either direction that an NCO is going to “take care of his troops”, except in the most venal of ways. So… Yeah. Try to build a US-style army on that culture, and you’re doomed to failure.

                    So, for an answer, I’d say “Never…”. So long as you’re trying to build a US Army clone. Building an Arab army? Doable, so long as you try something along tribal lines, and make it culturally compatible. If it were me, I’d have looked to the tribes, and co-opted them, up-gunning the hell out of them, and let the existing social structure work for me, rather than against. In the Iraqi army we tried to build, there were no social bonds worth squat between a leader from this tribe, and troops from that other three tribes over there: Had someone said “Hey, this ain’t gonna work…”, and then consolidated everything along tribal lines, where the troops and leaders were all kin-bonded? Yeah, things may have suffered from the usual sort of nepotism, but they would have lacked the other issues that prevented us from building American-style units.

                    The cultural bones just aren’t there, I’m afraid. You try to build a US Army out of Iraqi bricks, and you’re going to get a huge mess that won’t last past the moment you turn your back. Which is precisely what happened.

                    1. Might have been simplest to sweep up the Gurkhas the Brits were demobilizing and put them in charge f creating the skeleton of an Iraqi army. It seems likely they’re already familiar with the materials that would have been to hand.

                    2. @RES – I’d agree with that, honestly. They’ve got the fighting willpower, and were very effective in Afghanistan, but unless they are still part of the British military, and the British military has the willpower to wield them, I dunno.

                    3. RES, Shadowdancer…

                      Forgive me for saying this, but you’re both making the same mistakes that the average Westerner makes with these matters. The Gurkhas are not an appropriate tool for building an army, nor are they at all culturally compatible with the Arabs, being as they are a variety of Hindu.

                      Even with the Brits running the show, won’t work. The Arabs in Iraq would have remembered the colonial era, when the Gurkhas were brought in to serve as Imperial bully-boys, and, well… Yeah. They’re also not “of the Book”, being Hindu.

                      As well, RES is kinda-sorta making the same mistake that a lot of Americans do, and thinking at least subconsciously that Little Brown Person “A” is just like Little Brown Person “B”, and that they will react similarly to the same stimulus, and somehow, magically, be able to understand each other. Not happening. Period.

                      Gurkhas are an interesting culture, in that they’re Hindu, but not particularly caste-driven (that I’ve seen–They do have caste, but it’s not as inimical and is more flexible than the Indian variety…), and they are what the Brits described as a “martial culture”. The Gurkhas are very cohesive, but not anywhere near as “tribal” as the Arabs are–Ties of tribe and kinship will influence things internal to the Gurkha regiments, but they’re not going to warp the military purpose of that regiment the way that it does in Arab culture. With the Arabs, if Uncle Artie is raping the regiment for the payroll, all of Uncle Artie’s relatives are going to look the other way, and probably help him out. Screw the rest of the regiment, it’s the clan, the tribe that comes first, foremost, and always. Gurkhas? You have an Uncle Artie, and if he gets too far out of line with his peculations, he’s gonna get dealt with, one way or another. Possibly with a khukri, and everyone else is going to nod around their beers after, and say he had it coming… Honor of the Regiment, don’chaknow?

                      Gurkhas are actually more capable of forming things like regiments than the Arabs ever will be, absent profound changes to their culture. They may look more primitive, and seem unsophisticated compared to an Arab merchant, but in terms that matter for forming a military, the Gurkhas are several orders of magnitude more sophisticated than the Arab.

                      If you look at things along the scale of culture, the Gurkhas are more advanced and sophisticated, assuming that’s how you look at things, in that they’re willing to grant loyalty to things outside family, clan, and tribe. As well, if you do that, nobody from Nepal is going to look at you like you were wrong for taking the side of benefit to the Regiment, because reasons. That’s the essential difference between Arabs and Africans, and why I rate the Nepalese higher in terms of sophistication and advance–Even if Nepal is a far more primitive corner of the world, comparatively. In Arab and many African cultures, you can’t ever overcome that tribal mentality, where you are expected to look out for the benefit of relatives and tribal members before the “good of the nation” or some sub-element of the nation. Hell, you can’t even look out for yourself, without ostracism, because if you have a successful business, all your relatives and tribesmen are going to glom onto you and loot you down to your bones–And, you’ll let them. Because, tribe.

                      The other factor is that the Gurkhas don’t have the cultural imperative to lie that the Arabs do. The Arabs are mostly fantasists, who believe what they want, and screw reality. That spokesman for Saddam, that everyone makes fun of? Typical Arab; “The Americans are not here…”. Well, in his mind, they weren’t. And, that’s all that matters–If he’d been the guy in command, he’d have continued to operate as though what he believed was reality, until he had no other choice. And, even with reality forced on him, he’d still come up with an explanation for why reality wasn’t really what it was, like the idea that American troops were wearing air-conditioned body armor, rather than the idea that they might just be better disciplined about such matters than any Arab could conceive.

                      Gurkhas recognize truth as being absolute and inviolate. They don’t lie–If things are going wrong, they’re gonna tell the boss. Arabs? LOL… Never. Not in a million years–They’ll just bury the bodies. Bad news? Not going to get to the boss, ever. A Gurkha may have a little reluctance to contradict his bosses, and he may couch things as discreetly and humorously as he can, but he’s never going to stand there and tell you that black is white, or that the Regimental outpost didn’t get overrun last night. Arabs? Absolutely will–If you’re working with them, discerning the truth from the lies becomes an absolutely essential skill, and if you don’t develop it, you’ll never make it work.

                      No, the essential thing here is that you have to understand the culture, and part of that is grasping the implications of the fact that just because they look different from you, Little Brown People are actually very different from each other, and whatever lesson you think you’ve learned from experience with Little Brown Person “A” is very, very unlikely to find application with Little Brown Person “B”.

                      The reflection of that is also true–You think you’re a past master, as an Arab, dealing with Mr. Graduate of Harvard or Yale, and then try to take what you learned from dealing with that typically craven ilk to dealing with your typical Missouri backwater bible-thumping certified redneck, well… You’re probably gonna be in for a surprise. Especially if you chose to roll out the bachi-bazi boys…

                      Gurkhas are great soldiers, brave men and valiant. They’re not the proper tool for building yourself an Arab army, for oh-so-many-reasons…

                      And, you can make decent, effective soldiers out of Arabs. It’s just that it’s not going to look anything at all like what you think it should.

                    4. Further, you might want to be a little more careful about who you imply are racist, Kirk.

                      The Gurkhas, as a tribal culture originating in the region of Pakistan have familiarity with tribal and Muslim cultures — something Americans lack.

                      As for the “Little Brown People” observations – a) how do you presume to know my skin color and b) given that Shadowdancer is Filipino, most Americans are all too ready to dismiss her folk as “Little Brown People.”

                      Seriously, Kirk: Do you ever think before you lecture?

                    5. Correction: The Gurkha homeland is in Nepal, on the other side of India from Pakistan. Their widespread use as British troops across the sub-continent means they’ve ample experience dealing with the Pakistani and Arab tribes. It is that experience I was referencing with my off-hand remark about the Pakistan region.

                    6. Recall however, that the Iraqis actually had a functioning Iraqi Army, albeit one with a sloppy mosaic of Soviet organizational doctrine and Arab weirdness, with ultimately insane top leadership. But there were competent Iraqi Generals in command of functional, working Divisions with predominantly Sunni leadership, and functional NCOs, if not up to western standards at all. They were basically following the Soviet model, where you substitute junior officers for what in the west would be NCO jobs, and doing officer recruitment and promotion and such using Arab family relationship connections, and tolerating what in the west would be intolerable levels of graft-based personal financial gain for the hierarchy. But it was able to put troops in the field, feed and arm them, and train them to some level.

                      When the occupation demobilized the entire Iraqi Army except for a very few special ops types, that threw away the entire Iraqi Army hierarchy, including whatever officer and NCO the old Iraqi Army had to offer along with the senior officer corps. Then later they tried to reconstitute a New Model Iraqi Army with preferentially Shia troops, western NCO requirements, and an officer corp from mostly the junior officer ranks and those without prior-Army “Connections” (or perhaps “Interest” in the old Royal Navy usage), overlaid with an attempt to prevent those pecuniary abuses. And they rigorously avoided rehiring any of the senior Iraqi Army officers no matter their level of competence or graftiness.

                      So they were basically trying to rebuild from scratch, using only the lesser connected vets who were from what in the old Iraqi Army would have been from the wrong side of the religious divide, and impose new and non-Arab constraints, but using new helmets.

                      I’m surprised it’s worked at all.

        2. JFK campaigned as a super-hawk on national defense, grossly inflating Soviet capabilities, making it up as he went along.

          Nixon knew better, but his information was all official and classified, and he couldn’t refute Kennedy without violating the terms of his own security clearance.

    3. Walter Russell Mead. He now has a weekly column at the Wall Street Journal and hasn’t changed his view very much. Those confronting America need to be more aware that they shouldn’t want to get us angry, that they wouldn’t like us when we’re angry.

    4. General Colin Powell used to understand that concept. Not sure he does any more, but he pretty much got out of the government business and is into being a happy retiree.

      1. I fully approve of people who get out of government dedicating themselves to being a happy retiree.

  6. Upon a given day, Liawatha, speaking with her forked tongue, used the words: “[W]e should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution.”

    There’s always a military solution. Send all the JAGs to North Dakota (or Antarctica! Promise them more medals for failing spectacularly!!) while you send the actual military to go resolve a problem and you will get the problem resolved. Put artificial restraints on where they can fight, and using what, and with whom in those places, and send along all the JAGs, and you get a tiny part of the problem resolved while the greater part actually gets worse.

    Col. Kratman’s original prescription for post-Saddam Iraq (pick a Sunni Iraqi General we could live with, back him up and put him in charge, rearm and retrain the Iraqi Army with non-crap equipment, tactics, and at least some logistics acumen, pull our major combat formations back home, leaving U.S. SF advisors and tripwire troops to guard ‘REFORIRA’ caches of rapid reinforcement equipment in place) is the traditional and much proven method for exercising regional power projection, and as a bonus, eliminating five years of combat casualty reporting from the domestic enemy media would have likely prevented the rise of the Great and Powerful Barry The One.

    1. They are playing by the book.

      Unfortunately, like Porky above, they aren’t using it right.
      (Sorry, this version was the only good print I could find — but I am confident most of you recall the cartoon.)

    2. You know, there are 15 launch control centers up at Minot. The walk-around space is essentially 5’x25′, so stacking those JAGs like cord wood could be done, but then the two launch crewmen would have no walk-around space, and the cooks topside would have to be increased to feed the JAGS…so I can’t recommend this as a solution. Is bummer. Maybe the topside facility could be expanded to house the JAGs in barracks… Then there’s Malmstrom in Montana and Frankie’s Rocket Ranch in Wyoming…

      1. You could just stack them in the bottom of the actual launch tubes. Not sure why you would think anyone would want them in the areas where the people have to live and work every day………

  7. That is especially true when you have an enemy determined to destroy our country and all it stands for.

    Unfortunately, a number of those people are candidates for office right here and right now.

      1. As much as I dislike Chamberlin for other reasons, his fears of going to war unprepared were valid. England was just starting to reach the point where they could have defended themselves. With the memory of how England got into WWI still so fresh, Chamberlin’s actions for self-preservation of England make a little more sense. Granted, his description of Czechoslovakia and his willingness to sacrifice a chunk of someone else’s country for England’s peace… Pragmatic, a little too honest, but sort of understandable from his point of view.

      2. Chamberlain was stalling for time, while also posturing for domestic political consumption, which in 1938 was still very much against Churchill’s talk of inevitable war with Germany.

        The RAF was in a very deep hole at the time of Munich – in September 1938 the RAF still had 20 squadrons equipped with various biplane fighters vs 1 Spitfire and 5 Hurricane. There is nothing to indicate that the French would have lasted any longer had things kicked off a year earlier, and the Germans were well equipped with modern monoplane types already by 1938, and radar intercept procedures were really only just barely in place in time for the actual Battle of Britain, so a Battle of Britain that happened a year earlier as a result of going to war over the Sudetenland instead of over Poland would probably have been a lot shorter and likely have ended with the Luftwaffe with air dominance over the South of Britain, which was the main General Staff precondition for the invasion.

          1. It is also worth remembering that until quite a ways in to the war we had no aircraft capable of taking on Japanese planes, with many brave pilots buying precious minutes by sacrificing their lives in hopeless battle.

            1. Mmmm… I’m thinking you’re misreading things. The issue was that we did not have a set of doctrine and tactics that could address the design/philosophical differences between what the Japanese had, and what we were flying.

              Most Japanese aircraft were optimized for different aspect of aviation warfare than ours were; the Zero is a notorious example, being far more maneuverable, faster in some aspects, and much longer-ranged.

              It did, however, lack a bunch of things to attain those attributes, notoriously armor and self-sealing fuel tanks. Which came back to haunt the Japanese later on… The Japanese were notoriously unconcerned about pilot survival, and pilot management/training. Few of the Japanese pilots that learned how to fight effectively against US forces lived to transmit their knowledge to the ones coming behind them in the training pipeline, unlike in US/UK practice, which both eschewed the “Knights of the Sky” BS that the Germans and Japanese forces were so in love with. Which is why none of our guys even came close to their ace’s kill records.

              If US aviation had faced the Japanese with late-war tactics and the same equipment that they’d had there at the beginning, odds are that the Japanese would have done far worse than they did historically. Somehow put equally-experienced American pilots and leadership back to that point, and it would be even worse for the Japanese–A lot of their early “advantages” stemmed merely from having extensive on-the-job training in China. And, having learned some very important lessons from that experience.

              Which, come to think of it, when you examine how their lack of exposure to Chinese counter-strike capability with regards to their carriers led to a certain, ah… Lack of emphasis, shall we say, on damage control and safe engineering practices…? Yeah; you could make a case that their early successes led almost directly to their downfall. Their carriers were built on the same philosophy as their planes; optimized not for ruggedness and damage control, but performance. That’s largely what killed them at Midway, the Coral Sea, and a host of other places during the Pacific War.

              1. Didn’t catch your reply before doing mine, Department of Redundancy Department approved.

                It should be noted that early WW II vintage US aircraft (and armament; not sure if we ever really had good torpedoes) were woefully inadequate. The F2 Brewster Buffalo was effecting for the Finnish air force against USSR aircraft, but were flying ducks against Japanese equipment.

                I’m bearing in mind that the much better aircraft fielded later in the war was generally fixed by trial and error, with a view of making it better. The Allison engined P51A was unimpressive, but when mated to a Merlin, it was spectacular.

                1. Mmm….

                  Yes, and no…

                  Yes, the Brewster sucked. And the Wildcat wasn’t exactly a great fighter, either. But Chennault demonstrated with the Flying Tigers that American planes were very much capable of beating Zeroes if the American pilot understood how his plane differed from the Zero, and adopted the appropriate tactics. Sure, the Hellcat and Corsair were great Zero killers. But in properly trained hands, so was the outdated P-40.

                  1. One on one the Wildcat was no match for the Zero. If you started above the Zero you had one chance since the Wildcat was faster than the Zero in a dive. This, in fact, was what Chenault’s people did in the Flying Tigers. Their planes also were faster than the Japanese planes in a dive. Start above them, dive through them shooting, and escape on the deck.

                    In numbers, however, the situation changed. My understanding was that the Wildcat pilots learned that you didn’t worry about the Zero on your tail. With the armor and self-sealing tanks, you could take quite a bit of pounding before going down. Instead, you worried about the Zero on someone else’s tail which, lacking said armor and self-sealing tanks, would go down much more quickly under your guns than you will under the other guys.

                    Of course, this is complicated by there always being a chance of that “golden bb”.

                    1. More precisely one on one the f4f wildcat was not a match in a turning fight (same is true of the P-40 and P-39 available early in the war.). There are two basic types of fighters in the world, angles fighters (turn and burn) and energy fighters (boom and zoom). An angles fighter lives and dies by tight turns. An energy fighter uses speed to disengage and to attack from above. The early war US fighters were poor energy fighters hampered by lousy high altitude performance (the allison engine in the p-40 that also ends up in the first generation P-51 had a weak supercharger so performance above 15k feet was crap). On top of that almost ALL tactics were from English and German sources whose fighters were innately angle fighters. Later US fighters (P-38, P-47 P-51 f4u corsair) are superior energy fighters. The hellcat (f6f) is more angles fighter than energy (but its a spectrum not a pure binary). Add to that that our pilots often had little stick time let alone combat simulation time (i.e. fighting each other or a good pilot in another fighter) and it was ugly until after midway when Japanese naval aviation had lost many of it’s experienced pilots. In Late 42 and into 43 as the hellcat and lightning get in theater to now blooded pilots using tactics for an energy fighter the whole aspect changes.

                    2. The Wildcat could hang in there withe the Zero-sen – John Thach came up with tactics that he could brief by hang signals in midair that worked, see Thach Weave – and luckily the Wildcat was hellishly stout and had self-sealing fuel tanks, so vs. early war A6M2 which only mounted small caliber 7.7mm machine guns with enough ammunition (500 rounds per gun, or 33 seconds of continuous firing, plus. the 20mm cannon in the wings with only 60 rounds per gun, or 7 seconds of firing) they could last through getting hit.

                      The real issue with the A6M was that it had incredible range as well as being more like a biplane fighter and being able to turn on a dime. The Philippine air strikes that the idiot Douglas MacArther left his planes on the ground to be hit by were flown from land bases in Taiwan, with fighter escort by 80+ Zeros, which none of the US pursuit planes in the PI could manage, so Mac apparently thought he could sit there with planes on the ground for half a day after Pearl Harbor in spite of direct orders to disperse the planes. But Mac was an idiot, and the PI B-17s and P-40s were blown up on the ground by around lunchtime.

                      And that range upset all the prewar planning about how far out patrol planes had to look for carriers.

                      But the captured A6M from the Aleutians was on hand to inform the Hellcat’s final design, and also inform tactics and training of USN pilots, and the Japanese never really moved to better designs, so there were iterations of the Zero still in front line service at the surrender.

                      The biggest thing about the Zero-sen was the surprise it caused in the top levels of the USN and USAAC, forcing them to stop viewing the Japanese as intrinsically inferior in all things. Once they were recognized as a peer opponent, the stops came out on the US industrial base and there was really nothing the Japanese could do to eke out a win.

                    3. Hand signals – John Thach first briefed what came to be known as the Tach Weave in the air to his wingman during a mission using hand signals.

            2. Agreed, though the discovery and abalysis of a bent up Zero after the 6/1942 attack on the Aleutians revealed that the Japanese traded safety for performance. No armor, and non-sealed fuel tanks. This also carried through with their twin engined “Betty” bomber, later known as the Ronson–after the cigarette lighter.

              As memory serves, the F6 Wildcat achieved parity, while the F4U Corsair and P-38 enabled diving tactics that the Japanese pilots felt were quite unsporting. (The P-38 was a bust in Europe, but did quite well in the tropics. I don’t recall any P-51s employed in the WW2 Pacific theater.)

              1. The Wildcat was the (different – there was more than one fighter with this designation…) F4. The F6 was the Hellcat.

                1. Ah yes, the Navy designations could get confusing. F4F Wildcat, I think.
                  ‘F’ for Fairchild. The F4U Corsair was Voight. I can’t remember another manufacturer starting in ‘V’, so no idea where the ‘U’ came from.

                  My dad was AAF in the war. Those designations usually were less odd.

            3. Yes,…and no.

              The Zero was a superior plane. But US tactics found ways to meet that (once all the Brewster Buffaloes were gone).

              Martin Caidin and Saburo Sakai (sp?) co-wrote an Autobiography of the Japanese Ace. In it, Saki tells of fighting the Americans, who his superiohad assured him were poor warriors…and concluding that his superiors were full of dung. The Americans were flying less capable planes, and winning anyway.

              1. Somebody already mentioned training philosophies, but IMHO, they made the difference. The Japanese model was to spend a lot of time turning out excellent pilots, and then put them in place as warriors. Made for winning a lot of battles early on, but when you lose a carrier or four, you’ve lost a lot of experienced pilots. Thus the desperate measure of training somebody to barely fly a plane and send him on a Kamikazi mission.

                With the US, the idea was to get a lot of decent pilots in place, and then to get the really good ones back to teach more, so the overall quality stayed high.

                And yeah, I’ve oversimplified a lot. 🙂

                1. Certainly the super-selective selection criteria and extremely long training pipeline for IJN Naval Aviators turned out to be the wrong call for any peer-level war lasting longer than 2 years, but I never hear about the training for Imperial Army aviation – Japan had the ultimate secure rear area on the mainland, basically under the direct administration of the Imperial Army, in Manchukuo and Korea, and their manpower there was massive right up to the surrender.

                  Why didn’t the Imperial Army pick up the ball and train up thousands of pilots on the mainland after Midway?

                  1. Good point. After taking China and SEA, the IA just seems to fall out of the narrative. If I have it right, ground troops in the islands were under the IJN. The only IA aircraft I recall is the Mitsubishi Type 96 ( four years older than the Zero).

                    Wild guess is that a) the army was tied up in China and elsewhere in Asia, and b) the IJN got the resources because they were doing the conquering at the time.

            4. Actually, a P-40, properly handled, could deal with a Zero…. as the Flying Tigers proved. However, our military wouldn’t adopt the tactics because it offended their notions of how pilots should fight.

  8. In the final analysis, the internal enemies are far more dangerous than the external ones. Those enemies are why Empire inevitably falters and fails; it’s the men and women who follow their own mean self-interests, not the higher ones. Whenever you go back to look at fallen nations, you find these creatures who conspire for advantage in the midst of crisis, who refuse to give up power or privilege, and who insist on maintaining inherited privilege.

    You look at things like Zheng Ho, in Chinese history, for an example. China would likely bestride the world as a Great Power to this day, never having suffered the slings and arrows of indifferent fate that came with their turning inward and ignoring the world at large. But, those Chinese mandarins chose to shut down Zheng Ho’s voyages, and turn away. In the short term, that was a moment of apparent selfish interest for those mandarins, but what effect came, years later, when the Europeans were knocking on China’s door?

    1. And the same thing very nearly happened to Japan. Oda Nobunaga was open to adapting what foreigners could provide, and allowing them controlled access to the country. But he died just as he was on the verge of reuniting the country. Tokugawa eventually came out on top of the resulting power struggle (albeit not initially), and installed the Tokugawa Shogunate. In doing so, he attempted to lock Japan in stasis by – among other things – getting rid of the foreigners and their dangerous ways and technologies.

      The result was stasis until the US Navy forced the Japanese government to open access to the outside world. And while the Japanese likely would have been roughly on par with the West if they’d remained open, instead they were forced to play catch-up on centuries worth of progress.

      1. Which makes the Japan chapters of Kipling’s FROM SEA TO SEA fascinating reading.

        Especially his estimation of the Japanese Infantry as “bad little men who know too much”.

      2. Actually, the Japanese had reasons to be concerned about foreigners. They had just been through over a century of civil wars (the period is called “The Country At War” for good reasons) and the Tokugawa Shoguns were not keen on that starting up. They also knew that the Spaniards were both willing to use native Catholics as a fifth column, and were perfectly willing to ally with the “outer” daimyos against the Shogunate. Closing the whole country off except for Nagasaki and the Dutch was about the only thing they could do to prevent the civil wars from breaking out—say, by the Satsuma Domain allying itself with the Spaniards and getting arms and equipment from them to take on the Shogunate.

  9. I used to steam from the ears when I heard “Those Who Know Better” saying that the Iranians didn’t really mean what they said about the Hidden Imam and bringing about the end of the world. After all, that was purely for domestic consumption, and not what the rational, wise moderate ayatollahs would do. Because that’s not what Those Who Know Better would do. I wanted to hit them with a cluebat and yell “You idiots, they actually believe in their religion! Just because you don’t doesn’t mean that the ayatollahs are not serious.”

    1. There is a certain pathetic aspect of “Those Who Know Better” being more willing to believe the Mullacracy is just feigning religious extremism but their fellow Americans are feigning religious tolerance.

      Says something about whom they really want to fight, doesn’t it?

        1. Because they feel that they are superior to the primitives and inferior to the Baptists. They’re at least half right.

          1. I don’t think it’s superiority to the primitives that they feel. I think it’s a combination of Rousseau’s pinheaded romanticism, conflating terrorists with ‘revolutionaries’ (but in a good way), and fantasizing about running around with a Kalishnikov and banging ideologically addled college girls.

    2. Paul Reynaud, who became Premier of France shortly before the German invasion of 1940, remarked:

      ““People think Hitler is like Kaiser Wilhelm. The old gentleman only wanted to take Alsace-Lorraine from us. But Hitler is Genghis Khan.”

    3. Is your cluebat wrapped in barbed wire, with nails pounded into it? Or is just your average aluminum cluebat?

      1. I vote for the depleted uranium cored, nickel stainless model cluebat. Admittedly it’s nearly as hard to swing as mjollnir but when swung the results are epic :-).

  10. “It has always seemed to me that in dealing with foreign countries we do not give ourselves a chance of success unless we try to understand their mentality, which is not always the same as our own, and it really is astonishing to contemplate how the identically same facts are regarded from two different angles.” (Essays, pg 123)
    It’s not at all hard to understand the mentality and motivation of the majority of Islamists. The West is the Great Satan, and America is its poster child. Islam cannot achieve the ultimate goal of world domination as long as we in the West continue to pollute their minds with a constant flood of examples of a better way of life than they can ever hope under Sharia.
    By their own beliefs, they will never be satisfied until the West either suicides or submits to abject servitude to the one true religion.
    Absent a fundamental reformation of Islam there is no possible resolution to the conflict between our two cultures.

    1. a better way of life than they can ever hope

      Thing is, they do not think it is “a better way of life”. They see it as the temptation of materialism, an irresistible siren song that pulls their people to their destruction.

      They know that only they, the society’s religious leadership, possess the moral fiber to indulge those material comforts and remain true to their spiritual mission.

      1. It doesn’t help that, for more than half a century, the West has appeased Islamic radicals, and undercut those who opposed them I read people fulminating about how ‘supposed moderate Muslims’ don’t rein in the radicals.

        Why would they? For decades every time they’ve tried, the West has cut them off at the knees.

          1. Yes.

            I don’t WANT to open a can of worms, but I am probably going to—this is part of why libertarians are not as successful as they rationally should be.

            Way, way too many big-Ls preen about how they’re idealistic, but you got to roll the dice on where their ideals are going to punch you in the gut THIS time.

            I can work with someone who disagrees with me about at which point a human organism becomes a legal person.
            I cannot work with someone who will randomly decide that the human person is not worthy of basic human rights because…. who the F knows, up to and including this week they’re into being self-supporting so infanticide up to age 8 is OK.

            1. (that the “big L” folks’ definition also follows suspiciously close to “gosh, this would mean I have responsibilities” is an unpleasant but obviously thing which folks will tend to note)

      2. The fanatics don’t think it’s a better way of life. The teenagers in their society largely disagree. Hence the burning desire to do something, anything, to eliminate the contagion.

        1. I think one of the other issues is the matter of polygamy. Wealthy and successful men marry multiple women, and in extreme cases have concubines. That leaves a lot of young men that society needs to keep busy. Aiming them at ‘infidels’ probably works out…for everybody but the infidels.

            1. From what I have came to think (based on a lot of reading in various histories) Islam is one of those systems based upon conquest and slavery. Rather like a shark, having to constantly move and eat.
              Islam depends on loot and the labor of slaves, rather like the Third Reich. As long as it is expanding, funneling in more slaves, more loot – the whole system appears successful and unstoppable. Once the pipeline of loot and slaves fail … and the conquered lands turn into a desert: a heaping helping of Fail.

              The middle east once was called “The Fertile Crescent.”
              North Africa (especially Egypt) was the bread-basket of Rome. Now? All desert, and a basket-case.

              1. Yeah, I remember reading that part of the maintenance of the Roman roads included olive trees lining swaths of the highway. Apparently those all got cut down when Islam swept through. Fertile regions were told to plant crops that didn’t suit -and of course, failed to thrive.

                The problem is, eventually, if nobody stops them (Russia, China, I have my doubts about Europe, maybe America), they’ll have taken over everywhere, and… like the locusts they are, eventually have devoured everything, and left nothing but barren wasteland behind, as you said.

                These invasions have only ever been stopped by bloody, atrocious war. The EU’s response to Hungary refusing to join them in national suicide should be a warning.

                1. They won’t. This is their ghost dance. Take no notice of fake numbers. Their population is in nosedive because their women went on the net and discovered…. the rhythm method.

          1., or will be, an issue in India and China as well. While they have largely gone to “only monogamy is legal” both countries definitely have long cultural memories of polygyny. And they hate each other. And outsiders. I can convert to Islam. I cannot magically become Han.

            1. And both of them have “population control” strategies that will combine with that culture to produce unattached males in quantity….. who have been raised with the idea that as the son and heir they are in a privileged position.

    2. And because Islam was founded in an era where Christianity was being torn apart over which books of the Bible applied and how, it was deliberately set up to have one and only one source for revealed truth.

  11. I believe the core problem is that too many people, of all ages & professions (though I would hope it’s less common in the more professional militaries) have misunderstood a key fact about the roles of national governments & their officials.

    The idea that, AFAICT from surfing the internet & reading MSM reporting on international affairs, has been forgotten (or ditched) that a national government, a nations leaders, & it’s public officials (elected or not) have a responsibility to act (& not act, as appropriate) for the primary benefit of their nation first & foremost, & everyone else only as it serves their nations interests (i.e. abiding by treaties because doing so encourages others to do so, when the net effect is the benefit of the nation).

    Instead we see people objecting to things like Trump turning the screws on China because it harms China, or his attempts to focus on benefits to the American economy, because those efforts aren’t to the benefit of European nations.

    Now it would naturally make sense & be appropriate if these complaints were originating from China & Europe, since the governments & populations of those places are responsible to & for those places, but to see it in reporting out of the US, or social media of people from the US?

    Not so much.

    And this, I believe, is a part of why Ms. Warren is willing/wanting to take nukes off the table (part of it is of course because of the whole “Nuclear anything is bad, m’kay?” meme), & why others think the US should have open borders, because they believe the responsibilities of the US government aren’t primarily to Citizens & interests of the US, but to everyone in the world, even those that want to burn the US down.

    1. it would naturally make sense & be appropriate if these complaints were originating from China & Europe

      Do not be sure it isn’t. We now know that during the Cold War much of the financial support of the anti-war, anti-nuke, anti-SDI movements came from Soviet sources. We know now that China has been underwriting American University China Studies courses, and Islamists are funding the Middle Eastern Studies programs. It is also apparent that many of our culture’s (self-anointed) elites are more obsessed with sucking up to cultivating the approval of Europe’s elites than the approval of their Deplorable fellow Americans.

      1. The one thing the former Soviet Union was good at was agitprop. Indeed, so good were they at it that Soviet agitprop lives on in the West’s education, entertainment, and “news” media long after the Soviet Union itself has died.

      2. many of our culture’s (self-anointed) elites
        And not all of them are politicians, but they have a great deal of money, and use it prodigally to drive their agenda.

        (Oh, and I think past tense re communist efforts to undermine our society are contraindicated.)

      3. well, we also know that there is a particular single source of money for many anti- USA anti-capitalist anti-self-determination activities in the US. I’m just waiting for AntiFa to do something really stupid and the funding to get tracked back…

  12. You’re somewhat unfair to poor Neville Chamberlain. Many analysts consider that he knowingly sacrificed Czechslovakia to gain time for Britain to rearm. Our armoured strength at that time was laughable, and the RAF was only just beginning to re-equip with the Spitifre and Hurricane, to say nothing of our bombers’ lack of numbers. Briain was not capable of stopping Germany if the Munich talks had turned into an ultimatum. And where is consideration of the pathetic French army, in which my father fought and died because its generals were useless but appointed for political reasons?

    1. Not to mention that he backed Churchill when the balloon went up and didn’t work against him like some of our opposing political leaders do these days.

      1. Churchill was clear in his history – Chamberlain basically worked himself to death in service of his country.

    2. Chamberlain governed over the dismantling of the military, although it is questionable whether he could have prevented that and remain in office, and it ought be acknowledged he did grasp the nettle of rearmament.

      Just as we should recognize the numbers of Soviet troops who died stalling the German advance, so should we recognize the transfer of British technology, such as Rolls-Royce aircraft engine plans, to America’s unthreatened industrial manufacturing base. Sure, we refined the designs to comport with our mass-manufacturing model but the plans came from our Allies and advanced our understanding of engines and other elements.

      I am reading a biography of Andrew Jackson Higgins, manufacturer of the Higgens boats that enabled our amphibious assaults at Normandy and in the Pacific and one of the most schadenfreude-laden statements was the Navy’s dismissal of Higgens’ shallow draft craft as unnecessary, such was their confidence the French could hold their ports.

      The French army is a classic example of the problems of relying on elan when you do not inculcate morale.

      1. And some pretty amazing things happened when the British took hum-drum pieces of US equipment, and swapped in their own stuff. One of the most spectacular examples of this resulted in the P-51D, which became an amazingly successful high-altitude long-range fighter when the British got through with it.

        1. Yup take the lousy Allison out and put a fuel sipping supercharged Merlin in and it gets better. Have that Merlin mass produced with decent electrics by Packard in the US and mated to the P-51 there and away you go. Arguably the best prop based fighter ever built.

          1. Histories of the P-38 eventually get around to lamenting that it was never (AFAIK) mated to Merlin engines, and stayed with the Allison through it’s span in service.

            The Brits also made some good plays, too. Whittle’s jet engine project was stalled under Rover, who’s people didn’t see the point. Eventually Rolls-Royce did a swap, gave Rover a tank in exchange for the engine. The Meteor was late in the war, but it was used against V1 buzzbombs, and it helped postwar development for both the UK and US.

            1. OOOH I never knew anyone thought of that. Would have been interesting. P-38 could get supersonic shock waves that could lock up the ailerons in a dive, you might have been playing tag with that in level flight with 2 merlins. And the sound, nothing sounds like a P-51 with the merlin making a pass. Have heard them at air shows. I’ve heard it described as someone tearing linen sheets amplified. two of them and the prop beat would be interesting indeed.

              1. The P-47 was also known for getting to the tran-sonic region in a dive. OTOH, it was usually used for close air support and locomotive busting, so I assume it seldom got to the really high speed dives in service.

                1. Yeah and unlike later model p-38 the p-47 had NO speed brake to lower the speed and leave the transonic region. There was a stripped p-47 (n? l?) that was also used for v1 busting, although usually by getting in formation with the v1 and nudging it into a roll. That would cause the v1’s gyros to tumble and it would then just fall out of the sky. Shooting the v1 with the 8 .50 cals was considered too dangerous as it could set off the 1000 lb warhead and you had to be close to hit the v1 as it was small compared to the usual fighter type targets.

                  1. I think the Meteor used the same technique.

                    I gather that the P47s were key in the Transportation something or other; if the Reich couldn’t get trains around western Europe, it made for some gloriously screwed up logistics.

                    1. There’s a saying in baseball, “Hitting is timing; pitching is messing with the batter’s timing.” In war, logistics is critical; disrupting the enemy’s logistics is super-critical.”

  13. Haven’t heard any details, but given it’s Trump, there’s a good chance he’s fully aware the Taliban will violate any agreement– which would allow him to reset the terms.

    Basically, the same thing W did, but without years of being allowed to violate the agreement at will.

  14. Part of the problem with this whole thing is that we’re still functionally wired into the mentality that we’re isolated enough from our self-declared enemies that we can afford to rely on distance and time that really aren’t there, any more. It’s as if the Afghans who used to just raid along the edge of the Hindu Kush, which was far, far away from England, were somehow to be able to raid London–And, we’re still in the mentality that says “The Northwest Frontier is far away, exotic, and really only threatens the Raj…”.

    Unfortunately, the advance of technology and communications (in all senses of the word, including transportation especially) have created a far different situation. In the times of the Raj, Osama bin Laden would have been merely another petty annoyance, a Mad Mullah that occasionally came down from the mountains to raise issues inside India, but not a major existential threat that could disturb Londoners at their leisure on the Strand.

    That’s changed, and we still haven’t internalized or accepted that fact. As such, most of our political reflexes and reactions are entirely maladaptive, and I suspect that we’re going to be quite awhile adapting. Hopefully, we manage that before we’re at the stage where creating WMD are things you can do on a scale where it’s easy for terrorists to weaponize a high-school science lab and create Super Pox.

    The next few generations are going to be very, very interesting. I think we should be putting a lot more money into bio research and engineering, as well as what could be termed “bio-intelligence”, in order to catch these engineered plagues that I think are coming.

    I have this nasty, nasty suspicion that my theory for answering Fermi’s Paradox is the right one: Most civilizations don’t make it past our stage because it’s all to easy and attractive for factions within them to do what our nutters demonstrate on the daily, and they’ve all probably extinguished themselves well before they reach critical mass to get off their home planets.

    I really hope we don’t do what I fear we will, but… You see things like the utter failure of the Democrats to grasp what the hell they’re dealing with in Iran, and you start to wonder.

    Jimmy Carter may have killed us all. It’s just that the fuse he lit is generations long…

    1. Not to worry, Kirk — our Southern border policy (if you can call such a Charlie-Foxtrot a policy) is ensuring we will no longer rely on distance as insulator against attacks.

      I’m not sure how one would determine the over/under of hostile “undocumenteds” but if it isn’t in the thousands I will be shocked.

      1. News flash for you… The number of hostile “undocumenteds” are probably several orders of magnitude greater than mere “thousands”.

        From 2001 onwards, we were getting bombarded with constant alerts coming to us, verified, from the Border Patrol and other agencies, which described finding things like prayer rugs and other obvious Islamic worship items like Arabic-language Korans all along the border infiltration routes.

        We’ve been operating in a state of 18th or 19th Century obliviousness, and are eventually going to suffer the consequences thereof. I don’t know when, I don’t know where, but if we don’t get the illegal alien problem solved, we’re pretty much screwed for security.

        I’ve been saying this for years, but the first thing we’re going to know about a major Pearl Harbor-esque attack on US interests, one that is serious about going after us? That’s going to be when all those folks living off-post at Nellis who go into work wearing flight suits and who pilot the UAV assets overseas get murdered with their families in their sleep the night before.

        I’m pretty sure all those folks are identified, tracked, and probably under watch most days and nights. As well, the breach of OPM by the Chinese? LOL; some of us retirees are probably on kill lists, right along with the active duty types. Dependent on skills. End of the day, we’re going to be attacked here at home by our enemies, and it won’t be just ANTIFA doing it. Just review both Soviet spetsnatz doctrine, and current Chinese military thought. We’re infiltrated, and it’s only a matter of time.

        As a matter of practical advice, should you live in a major population center (for which read “target”), and you hear of a spate of unexplained murders of Air Force personnel in Las Vegas…? Get. The. F**k. Out. Go anywhere, but drop what you’re doing, get in the f**king car, and get the hell off the “X”. Beat the rush.

        1. News flash for you… The number of hostile “undocumenteds” are probably several orders of magnitude greater than mere “thousands”.

          Eh, define “hostile.”

          For the “actively work towards destruction of the US,” prolly about right.

          For the “actively wish the US harm,” low.

          For the “think it’s nifty if stuff hurts the US,” waaaay low.


          For the “Will do objectively horribly harmful stuff because it gets them a half-a-step up,” probably that many in rural Washington State alone.

          1. It’s essentially unknowable, TBH. What goes on in the minds of men? The Shadow isn’t real, so nobody knows right up until the moment comes, and someone has to make a choice. In any event, it’s not the numbers of illegals with nefarious intent that matter, but what the ones who really mean harm actually do. Aside from the fact that the massive numbers make it easier for the nefarious to hide, disguised, among the rest.

            My assumption is based on worst-case, because that’s what you have to plan for dealing with. Basically, we’ve allowed the infiltration of enough people to form a significant guerrilla army, one which properly led, equipped, and motivated could easily overwhelm an unaware and unprepared state security apparatus. If I were a planner on the other side, I’d have taken advantage of the oblivious nature of US security planning in this regard, which seems to be predicated upon the idea that “It can’t happen here…”, and use the time/exposed flank to determine where and how to effect the most damage and disruption. The aftermath of that attack is not something I’m worried about–Anyone trapped inside US borders with a population of pissed-off and motivated Americans is just more material for the propaganda machine.

            I’m going to be planning to disrupt and damage as much of US security assets as I can get at, and because of the open nature of US society and the fact that so many members of that society live out in the open, so to speak, well… It’s easy. With the OPM breach that the Obama administration enabled, it’s all to easy to ID, locate, and target key/critical personnel. And, their families. From there, it’s a relatively easy task to get my agents spread out into the US, have them in position, and when the word goes out, take action.

            The idea is so huge, so contrary to what we think of as a norm, but… Look at the Chinese doctrine, look at what the Soviets taught in their terrorist camps and what is in Spetsnatz doctrine. The Chinese have been talking about something termed the “Assassin’s Mace” for a long time; consider what that probably consists of, and how they like to work indirectly. More than likely, the Chinese intel folks have already passed off what they got from OPM, if that was indeed Chinese, and the data is in the hands of our enemies.

            Planning for them not to use it is nuts, because they almost certainly will. And, there’s no telling the limitations of what they might do. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that they would kidnap family members of select personnel, and then blackmail those personnel into either using or granting access to WMD capabilities. What better way to disrupt the US than to be able to blame a strike on our cities on our own military, using our own weapons…? Care to imagine how that would go down, because they’d probably be careful not to do any damage to their most capable allies, the media and the Permanent Unified Party in Washington, DC. Turn Tulsa or Dallas into a moonscape, blame “disaffected Air Force or Naval personnel”, and awaaaaaay we go.

            The OPM breach still scares me silly, considering that it was roadmap to our most critical asset–People. Those security documents tell everything, show every potential point of weakness for our critical personnel, whether they’re in intel or working somewhere in the technical industries. Worse, they point to where to apply pressure for critical security personnel that control our national nuclear arsenal. Imagine being on a nuke crew, and having your entire team compromised such that all of you have family members threatened… All the way back to your grandparents and distant relatives, because they’re all easily identified from the files that were breached by OPM’s failure to secure them.

            I have yet to see any real measures taken to prevent any of this from happening, or even an open acknowledgment that it’s possible. But, given what was compromised, it’s almost certain that it is. Thank’s to Obama’s cronies treating the OPM job as though it were mere civil service spoils, we’re screwed, blued, and tattooed for the camps. The damage from that breach is going to last for generations, because the same set of people in this generation who work for Uncle Sam are the ones whose kids will be working for him in the next, and with Mom and Dad compromised, it’s child’s play to keep up with the public data that you can just buy from Experian or someone else. Not to mention, FakeBuch or Amazon.

            My guess is that we’re so thoroughly compromised and penetrated that we can’t even begin to grasp the scope of it all, let alone come up with countermeasures for it.

            Want to know what’s worse, though? The above represents my optimistic read of the situation we’re actually in. OPTIMISTIC, folks… Think about that, for a few.

            1. Two approaches to countermeasures. Somehow generate and secure new secrets and capabilities countering what the enemy has gained from compromising our current stuff. Work on improving America’s open capabilities so that a heavily compromised official system can be replaced or bypassed as necessary.

              The last tells me I should put a higher priority on writing up my theses of guerrilla education, and on getting them to Sarah as a guest post.

        2. Which is (one reason) why every American CITIZEN should be able to purchase, over the counter, the standard weapon issued to MK1 MOD0 infantrymen. The fully automatic version.

          Anyone with a relative in the intelligence field has thought about this. (Note- son and daughter-in-law for me.) And some of us who are simply paranoid ex or retired military (me) have thought about this. I won’t stop for unmarked red and blue flashing lights- I call 911 and verify. There was a brief period of time in some military communities when that was unofficially ordered- good luck finding anything out about it. Personnel were also told to remove all military identification from their POVs. No bumper stickers, no decals, nothing identifying the vehicle as belonging to a military member- (Sort of like how Trump supporters don’t display in Portland or San Francisco….). Evidence of that can be found. Don’t know if it’s still standard practice. I know there are no more base parking decals- you show your ID upon entry and IT’S SCANNED.

          Remember too- the U.S. Army turned a blind eye towards Nidal Malik Hasan … he killed 13. On a base. In broad daylight.

          1. Personally, I think it’s borderline criminal that we don’t have the troops armed 24/7 on base, off base, off duty and on. The reality is that the people we’re fighting do not see any need whatsoever to comply with our idea that war takes place on a clearly delineated battlefield at a specified time, or that there are any such things as “safe spaces”.

            The mindset we have, that the battlefield is still lineal and limited, is insanely out of date. Soviet doctrine, which informs most of our enemy’s doctrine, was that there was no such thing: War was everywhere, everywhen. That’s been the lesson since WWII’s Eastern Front, and we’ve studiously ignored that fact, even when offered one-on-one tutoring by Soviet proxies. We just don’t get it.

            Not to mention, the culture of the enemy is not one that follows the classic Greek concept of war, where it all comes down to battle. The Arab mindset is that of the nomad, the bandit… Warfare for them is a pastime, a normal state. The Razzia is how they view it all, the raid for slaves and loot.

            9/11 can be viewed as a foray, a raid… Classic Razzia-style warfare, entirely in keeping with the Arab mindset which informs most of Islam. And, since we’ve seen fit to make these primitives wealthy, and upraised them? We have what we have coming. To be honest, the Arabs should have never been made wealthy–Precisely none of their money comes from anything they’ve earned, only what they were fortunate enough to be sitting on top of, with their stolen land. Making them wealthy was an insane thing to do, and the world will rue the day we decided to do that. It was the easy path, and the one we should not have taken. Precisely nothing of what they have is earned, and with every waking moment, they have that fact rubbed in their faces–Which is why they hate the West. Everything they have is the result of winning a geological lottery, and none of it is attained for any real accomplishment. Thus, their desire to tear everything else down, in order to make themselves feel better about their inadequacies as a culture, religion, and ethnicity. They may pull themselves out of it all, but historical examples and current behavior argue that they won’t, and that when the oil runs out or the world moves on, all the Arab lands will revert yet again to desert wastelands.

            That’s the nature of who we fight: Natural wreckers, civilizational parasites who attached themselves first to the Arab merchant cultures, then the Sassanids, and finally the Roman Byzantines. Everything they touch runs down into ruin. Syria, for example? Never regained the population levels it attained, or the agricultural production it had during Roman administration. Same with North Africa; Islam comes, and ruin follows.

          2. > standard weapon

            Wimpy and obsolete, hamstrung by installed base and standardization.

            Being a civilian, I can and do own better than that.

        3. I remember hearing that Mexico identified about 500 known terrorists among the first batch of migrant caravans. Which was what, about 10% of the total? and now those getting caught border-jumping include fighting-age males from places like the Congo.

          So, yeah… probably a whole freakin’ lot more infiltrated than we know.

    2. Hopefully, we manage that before we’re at the stage where creating WMD are things you can do on a scale where it’s easy for terrorists to weaponize a high-school science lab and create Super Pox.

      Privately developed and built pocket nukes are coming. Oh, they may not be literally nuclear devices, but they will be something at least as dangerous and at least as immune to solutions-by-banning-materials.

      So far the universally agreed upon solution by everyone is to jam their heads up their rear, dig a hole in the sand, and bury themselves upside-down deep enough that only the soles of their feet are visible. Every now and then something intrudes on the 2 year old fantasy and the resultant screaming is enough to blow out every eardrum on the continent.

      3D printed guns and near effortless access to drugs are but the tiniest crystal of the iceberg that is coming. And despite a failed century (really millennia when you dig into it) of trying to control danger by making tools illegal they refuse to smell the manure flavored coffee. Heh, at this point even the longer term plans of making people safe through indoctrination in the school system is now forcibly coming to and end as the schools implode under their own weight.

      If your plan isn’t resilient to pocket nukes it has no place in the next few centuries. It sure would be nice if any of the people tasked with large scale security were adapting to that reality. Instead even the Good Guys are still thinking that we can just get rid of [insert item here…. opioid “crisis”, bumpstocks, etc, etc, etc] and things will go back to the Golden Age.

      1. I think “pocket nukes” are a bit further off than you suggest, and that the necessary fissionables are likely to be somewhat easier to control than your scenario has it.

        That said, the biological is a far more frightening thing, in my estimate. We don’t have a way of enhancing immune systems to overcome deliberate attack, and we’d basically have to be protecting our entire biome in order to be completely safe from the potential terrorist attack. Imagine waking up one morning to find that the soil bacteria were no longer fixing nitrogen? Or, if they were making the nitrogen compounds into a form that plants can’t make use of…?

        Yeah, the biology issue scares the hell out of me. What if some knucklehead decides to destroy a species that annoys them, and we find out that the mosquito is really essential to the environment in some way we haven’t teased out of the evidence, as of yet? Hell of a way to learn, I’m telling you: “Oh, yeah… Turns out that the ecosystem collapsed because Bob, here, decided he was tired of being bitten by chiggers, and he engineered a virus that killed all of them…”.

        Even the well-meaning could do immense damage with these tools, and nobody seems to be paying attention to the potentials.

        1. I think “pocket nukes” are a bit further off than you suggest, and that the necessary fissionables are likely to be somewhat easier to control than your scenario has it.

          “Oh, they may not be literally nuclear devices, but they will be something at least as dangerous and at least as immune to solutions-by-banning-materials.”

  15. [W]e should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution.

    I have a follow-up question: “How would you define and identify jobs which do have military solutions?”

    Second follow-up: “Do you recognize the possibility that there may be jobs which have mixed solutions, political, economic, and military?”

    1. First: If you need to kill people and break stuff, it’s military.

      Second: Mixed solutions are a bad idea once you let the military genie out of the bottle. At least for the time period they’re breaking things and killing people. Once they’re done, you can implement the others (and you better have used them before the military, too!), but don’t use the military to do it! If you’ve moved on to other tools of power, send the military home. If you canNOT send them home because of security, then they haven’t finished their job, yet, and you should stay out of their hair.

  16. We do need to understand the motivations of those who would act against us. … However, it is what we do with that understanding that’s important.

    Game Theory asserts that such an understanding is critical to winning — it helps determine our strategies and define our achievable goals. But we must never forget what our goals are: victory, whether by co-option, cooperation or subjugation. Sometimes (see: Axis Powers) a combination is necessary for our goals to be reached.

  17. The Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS have no desire to play nice with the United States and its allies.

    Oh geeze – so inconvenient that WP allows (absent moderation) a single clip. Which to choose, which to use? The Independence Day “All you need is love. John Lennon. Smart man. Shot in the back, very sad.” clip? Or maybe this one:

    President Thomas Whitmore: What do you want us to do?

    Captured Alien: Die. Die.

    No, I know which one …

    Always go with the Sean Connery.

  18. We have to have an announced policy that is one the entire world can live with.

    Progressive foreign policy in a single scene.

  19. “How can it be when you tie bringing home our troops from what has turned into a 19-year mission where their hands have been tied and victory has not been an achievable option?”

    Victory not an option is getting to be quite a thing with the Left. In that regard, from the Soapbox this morning, another example:

    In a German town there has been an outbreak of Tuberculosis. 109 confirmed infections so far. Because testing and quarantine is racist. That’s the long and short of it.

    Tuberculosis was previously unknown in Germany since WWII. They eradicated it.

    But now, thanks to importing it wholesale from third world shitholes where it flourishes, Germany again has a major, life threatening TB problem. They are maybe a year ahead of what’s coming to the USA and two years ahead of Canada. (That’s a wild guess I pulled out of my ass, based on proximity. You can walk to Germany from Somalia, to get to the USA you need a boat or a plane.)

    Because for the Left, “victory is not an option” in war or in public health.

    Plague is the first of the Four Horsemen. Yet to come are War, Famine and Death.

    1. If our nation’s psychologists were not so obsessed with long-distance analysis of President Climate Change they could engage in some societally profitable consideration of the Progressive death wish and how to treat it.

      (Yes, i am well aware of the reflexive opinion of the Huns about how to treat it, but I was thinking of something more therapeutic for the Progs and less therapeutic for the Huns.)

      1. If the nation’s psychologists were not a bunch of glorified shamans working off debunked 19th Century pseudo-science, they might even come up with something useful.


    2. “Tuberculosis” and Plague.

      So, if either, or both, come to visit my little piece of the planet, do I get to sue, or at least hit the idiots locally and nationally? No? Didn’t think so.

      FYI. Off line for awhile. See you toward the end of next month.

    3. *Insert unprintable swearing here.*

      Some populations are much more vulnerable than others to tuberculosis. My ancestry falls in that group. And I’ve been trying to get this aspect of unsecured borders across to other people for years.

      Why. For the love of Pete, why can’t people understand “slow horrible death”?

      1. Oh yeah, anybody with asthma or other pulmonary disorder is going to have a problem.

        People (leftists, specifically) generally do not understand this medical stuff. Tuberculosis, typhus, bubonic plague… it is like the boogy man, something they heard about once, but it isn’t Real.

        Racism, that’s Real. That’s what’s on the news, y’know.

        They also can’t seem to understand the words “mugging”, “rape” or “home invasion” unless they’ve actually experienced it. These are all things that happen to other people far far away, like a fairy tale. But when it happens to THEM, that’s when they finally start paying attention.

        This is the same phenomenon going through the gay community right now, as the lesbians suddenly find that hating men is NOT OKAY!!! if that man puts on a dress. And gay men suddenly discover that they’re White Males. Just like all us non-gay knuckle draggers. They never, ever thought that the big Lefty alligator would get around to eating them, but it did. And they are pretty shocked about it.

        Oh, and speaking of being eaten by the alligator:

        Yes, they did, that is not satire. They really did go there. That’s how dim you have to be to stay a Leftie these days.

        1. *Facepalms* And the worst part is that I’m not even surprised.

          *Dry* I suppose I have an unfair advantage over the Left when it comes to infectious disease wariness. Call it homesteader privilege, maybe? But you never forget helping someone open the abscesses on a sheep to clean them and try to keep the bleater alive – and failing, because the freaking bacteria is just that bad, even with the vet intervening.

          (Oh, and you also never forget that this older relative who should have known better had kid-you helping them do this without wearing gloves. And being told by them oh yes, it’s contagious to humans, after you’ve been exposed. I spent weeks of sleepless nights after that.

          Care to guess said relative’s voting party?)

            1. Possible. Though it can be hard to tell that apart from someone who simply doesn’t consider consequences they don’t like. As in, just doesn’t occur to them. Even when you wave logic up and down in their face.

                1. *Facepalms* Ah. Good point.

                  And once again I wonder how I came out a reasonable approximation of sane.

                  (Well, writer. Sanity is a bit more loosely defined. But at least I have the concept of “don’t hurt people, don’t take their stuff; think about ALL possible consequences, not just the ones you want”.)

                  1. Going off of family examples… sane is easier to attain when there is a culture around that one can target as desired.
                    Even if your target assessment sucks, having an idea of “hey, this is wrong, it should be fixed” is a big thing.

                    1. Louis L’Amour should probably get credit as my mom’s dad’s dad, seeing as his bio dad was an I-shit-you-not stagecoach robber who married a lady who ran the coach stop.

                      She….objected. Effectively.

                      I know a lot more about “loo-eee” than about the dead bastard.

                      It turned out well.


                    2. Thus we see the reason behind the Left’s adamancy about permitting only “proper” books, teaching the reliability of government and the dangers of freedom and individuality.

                    3. Fiction is likely why I managed to emerge from public school with a few shreds of sanity left. Very few, but a few.

              1. > simply doesn’t consider consequences they don’t like.

                That’s the main reason why prisons aren’t a deterrent to some criminals. It’s not a punishment, it’s something that just happens; there’s no connection in their head between “do this” and “get that.”

                1. Wellllll … that, and prisons are for many a preferable environment to the chaos of life in the urban hells run by liberal politicians. Three hots and a cot and the dangers are no worse than on the streets.

    4. > victory not an option

      There’s a lot of money to be made in war. Just the official numbers of what got pumped into Vietnam and Afghanistan are impressive.

      Remember, the bulk of the money goes to the bottom of the pyramid; the support structures inside the USA. The soldiers and equipment overseas are almost incidental as far as expense.

      Nixon had quite a bit to say about how that worked in Vietnam, but nobody wanted to hear that then, and nobody wants to hear it now, either.

      1. Too many people process that thought as Military/Industrial Complex => War Profiteering.

        No well-run business* wants to get into war production as the short term gearing up to meet production needs is wastefully expensive and tends to leave you with excess capacity as the war winds down (we see the same problem with “hot” fashion items – by the time manufacture has geared up to meet demand, demand has dropped because the fashion has shifted.)

        *This should NOT be understood as suggesting all (any) businesses are well-run.

  20. “I agree that our response must be measured. However, I will NOT stupidity limit our unit of measure, and the Megaton IS a unit of measure. If our response needs to be measured thus, it will be.”

        1. Or predetonated by the neutron surge of the earlier blast. There was a crazy ass basing suggested (dense pack) for US missiles in the late 70’s that depended on just that defense…

            1. Could be, it was a possible basing model for midget man (that morphed into into the MX missle.

    1. I think we retired the last of the megaton class weapons (free fall bombs) a while back. but hundreds of Kilotons still works. Just looked I stand corrected there were a few B-83 still max yield 1.2 Mton in the stockpile as of 2016 so proceed as intended

  21. There’s no political will in this country to actually win a war. There hasn’t been since WWII. Our staying in Afghanistan, while actively NOT trying to win, just gets more GIs killed for absolutely no reason.

    Since there’s no real point to being there, bring the troops home and write of the country as a lost cause. We need to make sure the politicians we elect have the will to follow through on military actions. This half-arsed BS needs to stop.

    1. I have to disagree. There’s plenty of will to win a war. There’s no will to fight a war for no particular reason. To win requires barbarity- and yes, there was a lot of barbarism during WWII, especially in the Pacific. And when the GI’s came to full realization of what the SS was up to, very few SS who were captured made it to POW status.

      To win a modern war on the ground requires two things. One, as mentioned before- no lawyers anywhere near the battlefield. Two, no news media in the war zone. That’s if we want to fight a war on the ground. But why? Taking over ground is expensive, and we’re not going to colonize it.

      So let’s say we really want to do something about Iran. Simultaneous MOABs on the 10 largest cities. With a few extra in and around the ayatollahs. Take out ALL dams. ALL electric generating plants. ALL planes, ALL ships, ALL bridges. Then commence patrolling the skies with A10s or similar. If it’s on wheels or treads, and motorized- take it out. Civilians are being killed in buses? WHO CARES! Return them to the stone age with no power, no transport, no roads, no bridges for 5 or so years.Tell the neighboring nations if they want to take over some areas, draw them on a map, and we’ll stop bombing and strafing and let them in. We’d likely need to do that only once to one nation.

      1. We’d likely need to do that only once to one nation.

        Possibly twice, if one of the nations that “moves in” decides they have a charmed existence.

        The second dose would take care of that.

      2. Some in the news media can be accepted, e.g., Michael Yon. Possibly a few others, but certainly nobody from the NY Times, Washington Post of “Big 3” Networks.

        Not that this is a particularly modern problem. As noted by William T. Sherman, “If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.”

        1. We can avoid the need to restrict lawyers and reporters if American culture changes to recognize foreigners as essentially not human.

          Liz Warren’s proposal of no nuclear first strikes is clearly Chinese influence.

          The PRC is either desperate, or has picked now to finish the conquest of Hong Kong because of the opportunity presented by Democrat interference in the Trump administration.

          Because of the restrictions in his choices, Trump should respond to PLA action in Hong Kong with a first counterforce strike. Followed by counter population strikes. With the population that much decreased, funding will dry up, restoring sanity to US politics.

          Then the political will to provide the infantry to finish clearing the Han from China. Then the political will use China as a combination DMZ/logistics base for clearing the Muslims from Central Asia.

          Totally a certain path to complete victory.

          Slightly more seriously, Friends of Pat Buckman for President 2020.

    2. There is a reason to be in Afghanistan. Where people go wrong is that they see Afghanistan as a separate war from Iraq and separate from CIA actions in Iran or FBI actions here at home.

      We are in a, singular, war against a strain of violent Islam. One part of that effort is denying the enemy an effective staging area, specifically Afghanistan*. You might argue that we’re paying too much for that goal, but the cost isn’t very high – currently about 26 KIA in the last year. The fact is that if we leave now we’re going to have to come back in 1, 10, or 20 years and it’s going to cost us a hell of a lot more than staying.

      *Which is why Barry the Simple’s destabilization of Libya and Syria will go down as the most stupidly treasonous thing any President has done. Syria at least blew up in his face, though it took Trump to clean up the mess. I’m not looking forward to what erupts out of Libya.

      1. Which is why Barry the Simple’s destabilization of Libya and Syria will go down as the most stupidly treasonous thing any President has done.

        In fairness, I think Barry deserves less credit for that Charlie Foxtrot than does his secretary of state, Hillary “We Came, We Saw, He Died” Clinton. She wanted a military triumph to lead into her presidential campaign and was so distracted wagging her dick she screwed the pooch.

        Of course, what difference, at this time, does it make? She’ll never be president absent the most improbable* of events.

        *Let’s game that out, okay? Biden wins the primaries running away, but before he can arrive at the convention, claim the nomination and name his running mate … disaster strikes!!! Sleepwalking one night he falls into his pool and, although rescued by his secret service guards (who had been hiding their eyes to avoid having his skinny-dipping seared into their memories) it is almost too late: he’s in a persistent vegetative state!!! While some suggest this enhances his presidential qualifications, the party is doubtful it will enable him to defeat Trump, so at the convention, at the last moment, the delegates nominate Hillary! at gunpoint by acclamation. Nobly sacrificing her retirement yoga classes, she runs as the Hero of Benghazi (new tapes having “turned up” of her urging them to hold out, help is on its way) and the Woman Russia Feared So Much They Sicced Their Bots on Her and this time stumbles to victory: America’s first transgender president!

      2. Oh, I think we have some very good reasons to be in Afghanistan. The problem is we don’t have the political will to carry through on the actions that need to be taken. That is the problem.

        We keep trying to play this game of minimizing collateral damage. Of winning the hearts and minds of enemy. It. Does. Not. Work. We will continue to have these terrorists strike out at us until it becomes obvious to them that leaving us alone is their only chance at survival.

        We are dealing with people from cultures where Might Makes Right. They see us weak, and therefore a target. They won’t stop until someone shows them that there is no peace in martyrdom. Because there will be no one left to remember them.

        They attack one of our buildings/ships, we erase one of their cities. They attack one of our cities, we erase their country. They declare war on our country, we erase their entire culture, including all those countries lending support.

        Many will see this as leading to genocide. But until our enemies see the cost of attacking us as too high, we will be dealing with this same offal again and again and again.

        Let me repeat, there is no political will in this country to carry through on the actions that need to be taken to win this kind of war. Sending our troops into harms way to make nice with the people who hate us is not going to do anything but get our citizens killed needlessly.

        1. Avoiding collateral damage is a key mission requirement for counter-insurgency. You can’t defeat an insurgency if the population allows them to hide – at least not without salting the earth, and we will never have the political will to do that.

          That’s one of the main reasons why your plan to trade one of their cities for any attack on us will fail. They don’t have any cities, they hide within the cities of other nations. Afghanistan didn’t attack us on 9/11, neither did Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or Iran. If you insist on viewing this war through the Westphalian nation-state lens, you’ve already lost. They’re everywhere, no matter where you attack they’ll just strike from somewhere else next time. Meanwhile, your attack has alienated thousands to millions of people who could have been allies in the fight.

          Counter-insurgency sucks, there are no great battles, no stunning victories, and the end game, where you’re hunting down the last few cells with just enough power to be painful, is a long and frustrating slog. But we don’t get to avoid reality just because we don’t like it.

          1. You may find this strange, but I’m not a very good Christian, I struggle mightily with things like anger and forgiveness. When me and my kin are attacked, I have no issue with us killing BILLIONS of those opposed to us. The hills and plains running red with the blood of those who would kill us bothers me not at all.

        2. It is not simply a matter of will, I think. The division in America is at a point where such a war is merely a tool for our own partisan battles – at least, for the Left. They seem to process foreign wars as weapons to be used to delegitimize the Right.

          This is suggested by two things. First, the surveys revealing that Democrats tend to be “extremely proud” of our country only when they believe they hold the reins, as opposed to Republicans who are “extremely proud” of our country even when we deplore its political leaders.

          Second, even a cursory consideration of America’s recent foreign “adventures” reveals differences in Democrats’ support hinging on whether they consider it “their” war (Bosnia, Libya) or a “Republican” war (Afghanistan, Iraq). This suggests that their primary objections to such wars turn on whether they can be used to enhance their domestic power.

      3. I’m fairly sure, based on conversations I had with various military people at the time, that your idea about Iraq, Afghanistan, and then a pincer on Iraq, was what Bush and Rumsfeld actually had in mind in 2002-2003.

        Unfortunately, two things got in the way: Turkey refused us permission to stage / move through their territory, and the Disloyal Opposition in both Congress and the State Department, basically hamstrung the entire thing and used funding leverage to blackmail Bush into various domestic spendings. TSA? Not Bush’s idea; DDG “To professionalize you must federalize” to see whose it was.

        It was then that I realized, at least, that we were going to have to have a civil war to defeat the Fifth columns here before we could act effectively.

  22. What really struck me back when, when people were talking about understanding root causes and understanding other cultures (and those comments were daily things) is that the people saying them had no clue “what was wrong with Kansas.” And they believed with all of their heart and soul that they understood the people of Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Saddam.

    In fact they were scornful, mocking, of anyone with a different point of view or a different understanding of the culture, which is very different from our own culture that values humility. And they scoffed three times as hard if people who adhered to fundamentalist religion had the gall to suggest that they had any sort of understanding of people who adhere to fundamentalist religion!

    And never mind that Evangelicals had given deep thought and much study to the question of why Muslims aren’t receptive to the gospel and every other regular church goer could have explained more or less that humility is despised and you can’t get them to believe the very first part about God allowing his son to die. It’s simply *impossible*.

    And yet… scoff. Mock and scoff and carry on as if the cosmopolitan left somehow has even the very first clue about how this other culture thinks about *anything*.

  23. fail at the follow-through
    Really, the problem is that we set up the wrong follow-through.
    As I posted over there at VG, we have to peel back a little of the “civilization” we’ve accreted over the last century. Ideas that are good, but that we’ve warped by removing constraints on them (like the idea that fighting is always bad, so you punish the initiator and the one defending themselves).

  24. Whether we were right or wrong to go into Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the Middle East, we’re there. We committed troops to fighting al-Qaeda and ISIS.
    “Sunk cost” fallacy.

    We tasked these men and women to a mission our government wasn’t ready for them to actually win. That is an insult to them and a disservice to not only our allies but our nation.
    Absolutely agree. But let’s not add injury to insult by keeping them there because of sunk cost.

    1. Not a sunk cost fallacy. That’s pointing out the actual costs of withdrawing. Leave a power vacuum in Afghanistan again and the Taliban will fill it. Again. And this time, since the Taliban will have defeated the US, they’ll have even more support from the population, which means they’ll return to the international terrorist training business even faster. Plus, when the terrorists trained by the Taliban (or their customers) finally hit us hard enough again, our lack of commitment will make it even harder for us to be successful again.

      Ferraris look much better than Fords if you ignore how much you have to pay for a supercar.

      1. I disagree. The cost is much higher than body counts or dollars. Any nation engaged in a constant state of warfare is going to be changed by it – and not in good ways. Especially if that warfare is low intensity. At a minimum it distracts us from other threats. At maximum it deadens us to the idea of war and its costs (“only” 26 KIA, for example), while creating some Praetorian ideal that our warriors can do no wrong. (See both of those happening now, btw.)

        And the argument “we’re already there” is most certainly the definition of ‘sunk cost’ fallacy.

        I think Amanda mostly has this right. But the idea that we should continue because “we’re already there” is a bad one, and will continue to wreak havoc in our thinking and working to a solution.

        1. “Any nation engaged in a constant state of warfare is going to be changed by it – and not in good ways.”

          Unfortunately, war isn’t something that’s decided unilaterally. Well, we are one of the few nations that could unilaterally end a war short of surrender, but I don’t think we’ll be nuking the Islamic world any time soon.

          “And the argument ‘we’re already there’ is most certainly the definition of ‘sunk cost’ fallacy.”

          Only if you ignore reputation costs.

        2. (“only” 26 KIA, for example),

          I hate the idea of our guys dying at all, but I also remember the effect that 9/11 had on the death rate for the military.

          I joined before 9/11, and one of my arguments was that I was less likely to die in the military than at college.

          After 9/11? Up to and including when I got out?

          The odds actually improved.

          The enemy is worse at killing us than WE are!

  25. What a shame our schools and colleges neglect history, which could save us from continuing to repeat the idiocies of the past
    Experience is a harsh school, but man will learn at no other.

  26. At The Washington Post

    A True Solution:
    Build the Wall, But Use It Right
    — by Alec Carlson

    The debate over our southern border has torn our nation nearly in two. Social, political, even economic communities show a division not seen since the days preceding the Civil War. And if we want to avoid a repeat, something needs to be done soon.

    The intransigence of the loudmouth ignoramus currently holding the power of the Oval Office has become the central point of contention in dealing with the matter. If Trump were willing to even listen to other people’s ideas, he just might come to understand the futility of his “Build the wall!” screeching. Sadly, it seems that level of intellectual honesty is completely beyond him.

    But there can be a balance: let them build their wall.

    Hear me out. Knee jerk reactions are the realm of the MAGA lunatics, not honest free-thinking people looking to a progressive future.

    As I said, let them build the wall. But use it for a good and proper control of the American/Mexican frontier. In addition to a simple barrier, we can work with the Mexican government to provide a smooth transportation system to aid refugees in their efforts to reach entry points to our nation. Instead of concentration camps holding people looking for a better life, we can operate transit centers to distribute these new citizens to locations looking for labor and population.

    The current crop of ICE and CBP thugs can be retrained or simply replaced to support these facilities. They can guide and direct people, with their petty little domains can fulfill their dreams of empire, which, let’s be honest, is what most of these “keep America safe” types really want.

    Further, the new border would be a powerful tool to prevent the national drain on economic and intellectual resources that is so often threatened by people who are unwilling to accept the fundamental transformation that awaits our world. People have said they would take their business and ideas and money, setting up in another nation where they can continue exploitation of natural and labor resources. Making it harder to head south might make them reconsider their selfishness.

    And when our world finally understands and joins in a forward looking global society, the materials of the fence can be moved and used for nobler purposes. Although maybe a small segment could be left standing as a monument to the “Crazy Years” when so many people simply refused to see the truth in front of them.

    (Poe notification:

    It’s me, and it’s ridiculous. Of course it’s satirical.

    But did you NEED this notice?)

    1. Yes.

      But by all that’s holy, how often have any of us tried to actually tell someone that there are pre-set ways and methods and processes for applying for asylum? And how often has the response been explicitly that the person we’re talking to believes that somehow to even *begin* the process someone has to somehow crawl their way over the magical national border (if they don’t drown their kid in the rio doing it)? As if it’s a *requirement*?

      1. I haven’t. I find it more gainful to respond that Hell provides asylum for all sinners, excepting those saved by Jesus Christ, and how would they like to help do The Lord’s work.

        Actually, maybe I ought to try doing the last sometime.

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