Sunday, January 25, 2009

Victory is elusive for those who can't see

Victory in Iraq will not look like victory in any previous war. That is because all wars are different, have different foundational problems and different ways of defining 'victory' beyond the battlefield. Winning the fighting is not winning a war. Ending the causes for the war by establishing a system to prevent the underlying causes from recurring is essential. Thus the problematic part of 'ending the fighting' might not mean ending the war, as World War I amply demonstrated. Each campaign has its own terms, definitions and guidelines for what victory is and how it can be achieved, and it is only by stepping back and taking that higher level view that an individual can begin to discern individual phenomena that have high levels of duplication and corollaries in other conflicts.

A tell-tale sign of 'victory' is declining cost of fighting and shift to 'troop maintenance' in situ. That is the shift from combat to enforcing a peaceful system and the way that is seen is willing cooperation on the part of the local communities and Nation to take up some of that burden. In Iraq that means that foreign workers for the US armed forces doing the non-military work (cooking, cleaning, grounds maintenance) being done by locals. Strategypage on 31 OCT 2008 looks at this phase of shifting from combat to winning:

For the 150,000 foreign workers, there was some danger in Iraq, but for civilian workers, the chances of getting killed or wounded were a third of the rate for the troops, and the troops had a casualty rate that was about a third of what it was for previous wars (like Vietnam). Moreover, in the last year, combat casualties among foreign contractors has come way down, to, like, hardly any.


In Iraq, most of the civilian contractors work in the well defended bases, and most of the contractor casualties are among those (about a quarter of the total) who do security or transportation jobs that take them outside the wire. But even those have a lower casualty rate than the combat troops. For the really dangerous work, the troops are used. But working in a combat zone is still dangerous, no matter what your work clothes look like.

One of the first major bases to replace foreign contractors will be al Asad air base. There are 5,000 foreign civilians at al Asad, and all are expected to be gone, and replace by Iraqis, within a year. It may be a few years before all (or nearly all) of the civilian contractors are replaced by Iraqis. This will save the United States a lot of money, as the Iraqis will be paid according to prevailing wages in Iraq. That's less than half what most of the foreign contractors are paid.

When you are spending less money on maintenance and support operations and keeping the same level of troops you are no longer talking about 'combat' but 'overseas basing'. As noted in the article the number of armed forces to civilian ratio in Iraq has hovered at 1:1 which is customary for professional armies no matter the time period: only conscript armies can find it cheaper to staff all the necessary positions with conscript labor, and the US prefers a professional army system with civilian backing.

The cost of overseas basing is often misunderstood as it is a complex problem, and on 18 APR 2005 Strategypage looked at that:

But for most American troops overseas, the main additional cost is travel. The troops are moved economically, usually on chartered aircraft. There’s also the additional expense of shipping ammunition and new equipment. Although in places like Europe and East Asia, a lot of equipment can be purchased locally.

It’s an accounting nightmare calculating what the exact “additional cost” of having troops overseas is. But in the long run, it isn’t as high as the numbers thrown around in the media. Iraq may even decide that it’s in its best interest to have some American troops permanently stationed there (for protection from their ancient enemy, Iran). In that case, oil rich Iraq will be under some pressure to pick up part of the tab. In the case of South Korea, all the money they contributed went to pay South Koreans working on American bases, and for supplies bought locally. The South Koreans wanted the American troops to stay, to aid in protecting them from North Korean aggression. It’s a form of peacekeeping that American troops overseas don’t get enough credit for.

Overseas basing, or maintaining troops in a 'combat ready' and 'actively deployed' base situation in a Nation that is undergoing a transformation from wartime to peacetime with US help, is not a simple DoD line item. The actual cost must also factor in things like travel, but also exchange rates and who will do which jobs. The cost of foreign civilians doing jobs for DoD is less than the cost of US citizens doing those jobs and the cost of Iraqis is less than the cost of other foreigners doing the work. Thus the cost of the civilian side in Iraq done by Iraqis is far less than having US citizens doing those same jobs overseas or even having non-native foreigners doing those jobs. The 'sunk cost' of having to transport equipment is a non-recurring cost, so once the equipment is deployed and the troops moved to use it, then the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) cost is the recurring part of the budget. In some instances it may actually be *cheaper* to have US troops overseas due to the cost delta between US civilian to foreign non-local civilian to local civilians doing the contract work: Bring the troops home and the cost in O&M rises, even once you factor in the 'sunk cost' of returning the equipment to the US. Often it is cheaper to leave old equipment near the end of its useful lifecycle than it is to ship it back home. And the cost of shipping stuff from the US can be very high, as SP points out on 03 MAY 2008.

So when you hear the 'cost' of being in Iraq as 'high' the question is: in comparison to *what*? Being based in the US? Being based in Europe? If you can get those figures in a report and attempt to deal with the 'sunk cost' of moving material around, then you have some perspective at what the actual cost represents. If 'bringing the troops home' doubles the O&M cost and you then hear, in a year or two, how EXPENSIVE it is to have troops at home, then the question is: in comparison to *what*? Basing them overseas?

But then the media never brings up that sort of thing, which is why it is in the 'Dirty Little Secret' category at SP.

Just looking at the one-time cost to outfit a armored division ($4 billion) and its cost per year in O&M ($2 billion) brings into perspective that once you put the cost of moving such a unit to a new locale for deployment, the O&M cost becomes one to analyze but only with the additional cost of active deployment, spares and replacements factored in. That goes for the human side, too, beyond equipment. So when you see the shift of work to Iraqis, this is a cost *savings* not a *loss* of not having US citizens do the work... unless you want to *pay* for that with a higher cost of recruitment, retention and deployment of US citizens to an area that still has some active combat going on.

Meanwhile, back in Europe, the 7th Army HQ is going 'mobile' which means it won't be in Europe as an active HQ, but one that is deployable to the field. US combat presence in Europe has been dropping since the early 1990's and EUCOM is reflecting the fact that Europe will have to fend for itself or depend on highly mobile, highly competent and highly lethal US forces if they can't defend themselves conventionally. Yes, the Cold War is 'won' and 'over' and the US has other things to do now. This is also the final close-out of all but such services like the medical and basing services in Germany, Italy and Spain for strategic purposes. Iraq and Afghanistan point to the future 'hot spots' no longer being in Europe, unless Europe decides to implode, in which case no amount of US troops there can help the continent.

That is 'victory': when you don't need to worry about a place to the point where its total disintegration can bring you back. Which, given the unassimilated Muslim folks roaming around in Europe, may be sooner than anyone expects it to be. But that will be Europe's 'peace' to lose, not that of the US.

Are you getting the idea that war and peace are not flip sides of a coin but a continuum? Good!

'Fighting for peace' is only an oxymoron on the political left, while for the rest of the planet is the operational description of how the world works on an ongoing basis. 'Winning' in Iraq, getting more or less back to the topic at hand, is not just a military venture but has a hard and fast civilian side. Strange as it may seem the military component is winning the civilian side of things in Iraq, no matter how much the civilian side tries to botch the job (hey! whatsamatter with those guys in the military? They are FAMOUS for botching the military side! Its like they got their act together, or sumthin...)

It is in that civilian realm, however, where the enemy has sought to make a winning proposition into a losing one. The intent to formalize the terrorism equation, by getting the US to actually deploy soldiers overseas, was to enrage Moslems. While some were enraged, they also get enraged by cartoons, the idea that someone just might disrespect the Koran, and generally find anything to protest against, save their own governments because they value their own lives. In the West, however, the Islamic Radical terrorists had a willing 'fellow traveler' who would not take any talk of 'victory' or even 'winning' into account. Seen here in this Strategypage article of 25 JUL 2008:

But al Qaeda still had a lot of Support in the West. The political opposition in the United States, true to form (as in all past American wars) found ways to criticize the Iraq operation without actually joining the enemy. The media in the West backed the opposition, as that's where the headlines, and the profits, were.

Out of all this, the American military found other lessons. Their professional and resourceful troops found ways to neutralize enemy weapons (suicide and roadside bombs) while keeping their casualty rate at less than half what it was in Vietnam and pervious wars. The generals got no credit, in the media, for that, but the troops sure appreciated it. This resulted in the volunteer military to maintain its strength in wartime, the first time the U.S. had accomplished that since the American Revolution.


Finally, the continued hammering the military is taking, for "failing" in this new kind of war, at least makes it less likely that there will be a problem with the victory disease (where winning brings with it complacency and all the ills that follow believing your own press releases.)

Yes that continued harping will actually *help* the US armed forces to fight stronger, faster and harder, while taking fewer casualties. By not joining the 'winning' side, the critics are actually making it more likely that troops will not only be better prepared for future wars but will need to fight them more often as any enemy can hope that the internal US opposition will deploy on its side fast enough to prevent US combat forces from getting critically needed support at home.

Really, if you want fewer deployments, you support winning and then allow the armed forces to get complacent, turn into a garrison or peace-time force, and get embroiled in political in-fighting over weapons systems that serve as a symbol for careers, not as a measure of effectiveness of the troops. Luckily those who oppose the US winning don't realize this or they would have, long ago, gotten on the 'success' bandwagon and even now be looking to weigh down the armed forces with new peace-time agendas that are ill-suited to combat. If you want to end fighting wars, you must support fighting them to completion so you never, ever, have to go back and re-fight them, like World War II that turned out so much more lethal than just slogging on for another couple of years in 1918.

Through the 1990's and 'downsizing' and the 'Peace Dividend' the armed forces had to start thinking in terms of actually getting its act together, which meant logistics *first*. The pay-off as seen in Afghanistan and Iraq is that the only time things couldn't get shipped to the troops and arrive in a regularized fashion is when the factories hadn't made enough of what was required. That included: bullets, batteries, dust screens, body armor, armor for HUMVEEs, comms gear... the little things in life, in other words, that allow you to fight and protect yourself. Food there was plenty of, bullets saw the US buying stores from France, Germany, UK, Canada. Lets face it, a couple of 'allies' weren't going to be putting ammunition to good use, and we really did need it.

All of this while the military budget for Iraq was eating up 1% or so of GDP, the rest of the Pentagon and Afghanistan conflict another 5% or so, getting you into the COLD WAR range of 6-8% per year of GDP. World War II? Approx. 50% of GDP per year as I was taught in University in the 1980's. This is at or below the percentage expenditure during Vietnam with far, far fewer casualties and a weaker dollar that doesn't buy as much as it used to... but we gots scads more of them to throw around. When you examine the constant dollar value of WWII, it comes out to about what we are spending, as a percentage of GDP *today* that is about what the entire set of two conflicts plus standard DoD work costs per year. Even at twice that you still are only in the 12-16% range of GDP, nothing like 50% from WWII years: the modern economy is *huge* compared to what it was then. Staggeringly so.

Considering that the last time the US put a small section of its armed forces into an equivalent sized (manpower wise) conflict was the Philippines in 1899-1910. Casualties there were higher not only due to lack of medical training (which we have today) but due to climactic conditions. A minor injury in the desert doesn't get infected promptly like it does in jungle and humid low lands. For all the fact most want to forget the Philippine-American War, it is the proper context in size, placement and general course of events to Iraq, and took about as long to get to a stable government to transition power to. Well, that isn't strictly true... we have cut years off of that timeline, in fact cut it in half. It was only by 1915 that Congress looked to turn full Sovereignty back over to the locals in the Philippines (about 16 years) while in Iraq its been 6-7 years (depending on which turnover you are going to count for that). The only time the US had to go back, in force, was to liberate the Philippines after Japan tried to make the Pacific their personal pool.

The objective of the 'anti-war' movement has been to make the conflict in Iraq longer, harder, give aid and comfort to the enemies of the Nation and attempt to gain power using the blood of US soldiers in a conflict authorized by Congress as their means to do so. In other words the Citizen Soldier had become a political pawn to pontificate about, but then drop immediately after their political victories were secured. Such commitment to their 'ideals'... which is 'the will to power' and nothing more. No scintilla of conscience plagues them when their leader does the exact, same things they reviled the previous one for doing. So much for principles: the Left has none.

A word on women in warfare. I am deeply honored and indebted to the women in the armed forces of the United States one and all. I have read of your exploits against fierce and sudden attacks beyond those of high profile media coverage and am staggered at this untold story of Iraq and Afghanistan and Colombia and Philippines. The most liberating thing for women to do, in equality, is see their common responsibility to the safety of the Nation and become a Citizen Soldier to protect us all. And if I shudder at pilots of previous wars nursing their shot up planes against all odds to safe landing, then I do so today with the pilots, drivers and women who suddenly find themselves in the front lines of a war without any front line. Nursing a shot up A-10 home is just as impressive as those who did so with the P-40, P-38, B-24, B-17, F-4... that is a proud cohort to be in. So to are those on the supply runs or helicopter runs showing good piloting and marksmanship skills in some of the most treacherous urban terrain on the planet. I am saddened that the 'Women's Liberation Movement' does not recognize such 'breaking of stereotypes' and the true heroism of our mothers, daughters and sisters. I am humbled by the work of these women and they have my eternal gratitude as an individual.

I can recognize the hard work that our Citizen Soldiers have put in to liberate over 50 million from the yoke of tyrants, despots and regimes that terrorize its citizens into submission. The desperately hard work of shifting the equation of war from active to and kinetic to background and undermining those seeking to wage Private War is one that must be won. We cannot win it just abroad. As we did with Haiti in the 1919-34 stretch we can do everything right, by the book, never address the local culture and population and leave to let our good works crumble back into chaos. Haiti is an island, not connected easily to any where, unable to easily transship hatred and terror to distant lands due to poverty. Our current enemies have no such mitigating factors to them. They have enlisted deceitful aid from those seeking political power on our shores so that we lose these conflicts, see regions of the world put back into deep peril and discredit our government of all political hues as worthless.

Left or Right it matters not: they want to kill our liberty and freedom.

Not through cryptic concepts of Fascism, although that is horrific, needless to say, as practiced by the Left today under sweet cult of personality and mantras that are meaningless. No, these killers seek to do it via the simple expedient of KILLING US and terrorizing us into submission. Too bad so many on the Left want to give them that and stifle the population with threats of un-PC laws and muzzling those who seek to warn us of these killers. It isn't 'nice' to point out what bad people these killers are... so shut up, already and let them kill all those other people... before they come for you.... and you follow that advice at your direct peril, and that of your family, community, society and Nation.

And where are the worrywarts of fiscal infidelity when their own prescriptions and nostrums have gone awry and cost the US more in SIX MONTHS than the entire Iraq conflict has in SIX YEARS? 'Oh, just let government solve it!' Unfortunately it is that self-same government meddling that caused the problem in the first place... we are asking Congress to save us from their own ineptitude without requiring them to realize how inept THEY ARE.

Just like the 'anti-war' movement refuses to now hold the same standards to one of their own or clearly state how vacuous those statements of theirs has been.

These are the ones calling victory 'illusive'.

There are none so blind as those who cannot open their eyes to see.

Once you start war you mean it, do it, commit to it, and finish it and then turn immediately around and start building something BETTER to not get you into that damned fool spot AGAIN. A COIN war is one with many different fronts, but it is not Peace by any way, shape or form. COIN usually dissolves until the need for having ready forces fighting disappears. It is hard, gritty, nasty war with the face of so many not fighting put at peril by those wishing to not surrender to the society that has taken up arms against their native killers.

My statement that is haunting me for some time now, long before 'the surge' was that the trendlines in Iraq look good and are strengthening, while those here look bad and are getting worse. That we may soon need Iraqis to come save us and teach us about liberty and freedom...

I wish that we had some capacity as a people to grab a hold of our government and tell it to leave us the hell alone and protect us all and forget about 'being nice' or 'doing good' and just DO ITS DAMNED JOB.

For all of us.

Liberals won't do that: they want fascistic government where they can tell others what to do.

Conservatives want the same.

Just look who they put up for high office, and the story is told. Yes you can find some outstanding exceptions, but they just prove the rule.

The Left is doing something unique and turning JFK's quip around so that Victory will be an Orphan and Defeat will have many proud Fathers and Mothers.

That doesn't last long in the affairs of men.

And as our desert Southwest becomes the next spot for a COIN deployment, remember that you could have supported the war, the Nation and our borders when it was cheap and easy to do so.... in 2001, 2000, 1996, 1993, 1992, 1986, 1979.... those we have chosen have served us ill.

Too bad the payment won't just be in money and treasure.

And only YOU can determine if YOU are worth fighting for.

I know what victory looks like.

Do you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The two terms of President George W. Bush

Many are writing retrospectives to castigate the man who took office in 2001. I am not sanguine in that as it demonstrates only vitriol on the part of the writer and lack of understanding what a President is, what powers a President has and what the limitations on the Presidency are. I have heard much over the last 8 years that, if applied to previous occupants of the office, would have been laughed at as foolishness, non-sense and the inability of the writer to apply how the Presidency is crafted and how the tradition of it is carried through by each occupant. If any castigate George W. Bush they must castigate all Presidents at least as far back as Theodore Roosevelt and his doctrine of an 'expansive view of Presidential powers' to Abraham Lincoln and doing what was necessary in war to hold the Nation together and even as far back as Jefferson in regards to the Barbary Pirates and Washington in regards to the Whisky Rebellion and Neutrality stance he took. Thus I find the modern critics wanting in retrospectives and will attempt to put those things I see as necessary that have been done, left fallow or put at risk.

Many will disagree with this, and that is fine as it is my personal view only.

Of Necessity

This departing President was tested as the one before him was in his early days: with multiple attacks on US soil. His predecessor's response to slayings by a radical Islamist outside the CIA was lack luster and so, too, was his response to the first WTC attack. This pattern was not followed after 9/11/2001 and this President brought war to those who sought to wage unaccountable war upon the US and the world. That is to the good. He did not back up his immediate understanding of this type of war that included the 'Wanted Dead or Alive' concept. He was gravely and deeply mistaken in that and has left the Nation at future risk against those who wage Private War called terrorism or piracy. He did not seek to follow that initial response up and understand it in the realm of war, and so we are left naked in many areas where our Citizens can and should provide personal backing. To those who complain there is no 'sacrifice' in this war we are fighting, they mean economic. I mean personal commitment with one's blood and staking their honor to fight for the Nation against those who seek Private War. That is the Western tradition when personal, unaccountable actors take up arms against Nations: you empower your Citizenry to use all private means to hunt them down and bring equal pain to what they inflicted upon the Nation.

What he did was neither all good, nor all bad. He understood threat but not scope of response available and limited that to the highest cost one available to him. Just as the European powers would refuse to send warships in force or allow private captains to take war to the Barbary Pirates, so too did Jefferson use the US Navy and give authorization for private reprisals. We have forgotten that lesson of warfare and it will be our doom unless remedied.

In second instance this President had redeemed the word of his father that had not been redeemed by the intervening President. To the shame of the Nation we agreed to a cease fire with a hegemonic tyrant who would seek any way to defeat us. He was given a chance to keep his word FOR a cease fire. And failed. After months of build-up and a mere 100 hours of combat, this last President's father stopped and set a tyrant loose again when he would have been easily and cheaply defanged with the support of the world. The intervening President did worse than nothing and was seen as having no resolve at all, no ability to act and dithered time and again at every breach of the cease-fire agreement. He was unwilling to see that a leader who cannot keep his word during war, will feel no need to do so during peace and will, indeed, see you as weak if you give into him. That war should have been finished in 1992 and we would be done by now with Iraq. Years ago. That is the cost of war delayed that we faced and this President realized that if he let that go any longer our word as a Nation and a People would be meaningless to the world. The right place and time to fight it was when we had supreme power after Desert Storm. Doing nothing delayed doing something and if you complain about the cost of this minor back alley brawl, then you do not want to see what real war *is*. By the skill and courage of our soldiers we have prevailed over a tyrant, over the terrorists who sought to destabilize a key part of the Middle East and pushed them back by having them show how ruthless they are to those who FOLLOW their religion.

Doing that was worth the price paid in Iraq, and it was far lower in the terms of lives lost and wounded, cost as a part of the National budget and actual length when compared to the next great complained about war in Vietnam. How strange all of those calling Iraq the worst war of all time have now diminished Vietnam, the First World War, Second World War, Civil War of the United States, Revolutionary War... these must now be seen as cheap and easy, no? Iraq has followed the traditional US pattern set in the Philippines of initial liberation and long COIN campaign. They each had about the same number of soldiers, took about the same amount of time, and the one in the Philippines cost far more lives mostly due to climate claiming so many.

At no time during these conflicts has the US economy been put on a war time footing. We did not do 'guns and butter' and, instead, slathered on pork and tried to starve the troops. This President fought that, but it was due to a misplaced sense that the peace time economy could withstand what would happen to anything but a war footing. That does not mean high taxation, although that is likely. We have a great and deep well of talent in the US and asking for *help* from it is not beneath the dignity of any President, ever. It would be possible to have sought, from the private sector, more technical help, more commitment from individuals and give companies tax breaks on donating old equipment to two Nations we helped to liberate so they could stand up something closer to a modern economy for production and manufacturing. The industrial might of the US would have dried up terrorism in an instant if it was committed through the President to help these two Nations stand up on their own and dedicate time and effort to our poorest allies in doing the same with them so they would not be slighted. That is 'sacrifice' without taxation but high reward to those that sacrifice, to those we liberate and to our friends and allies in the world to demonstrate we are not afraid of their competition to us. We welcome it.

The necessity of a war time economy can and should be beyond mere taxation and 'donation drives' for scrap metal as seen in WWII. We are not so deeply in need of raw material as in that war, but in need of the technical and industrial prowess of our private sector. This basic necessity has gone undone, and we will pay for that by being seen as cheap, stingy and unwilling to commit to liberty and freedom in a meaningful way to help others uplift themselves from poverty and create good lives where they all have a say in government and radicals get short shrift as they want to make everyone poor under them and enrich themselves. That is the greatest weapon the United States can deploy, stronger than any missile or bomb and it sits gathering dust next to the Lost Ark of the Covenant somewhere in a warehouse.

Of Liberty

Competent Administration from the Executive must ensure the liberty of all Citizens. That requires equal enforcement of the law put in place by Congress and adhering to Judicial findings with each of them. This President has had a lackluster term in this regard as he does not seek to uphold the duties of office as he swore to which would ensure the safety of the Nation by its Laws, not just its Military might. Those things that allows us to be a Sovereign Nation must be done absolutely above all others, and in that this departing President has failed the Nation. Our borders remain unsecured and in his two terms we have seen our southern neighbor deteriorate rapidly into criminal insurgency. Much is spurred by narcotics money from regions in South America, some is fueled by money from outside non State actors including terrorists and criminal concerns, and all of it is due to the inability of Mexico to enforce its own laws, enforce ethics upon its police and judiciary and to properly husband their resources and economy to protect the poorest within their own Nation. When we created NAFTA we forgot that the Law of Nations trumps the Wealth of Nations and that our own security as a Nation and those signing the treaty is paramount. Thus our low end industrial market shifted to Mexico, creating factories and jobs and taking the poor from their fields. Then a shift in labor rate and low cost shipping moved those jobs overseas and the US large scale agribusiness shot holes in the Wealth of Nations concept that industrial and production might would play no role in agriculture. Mexican farmers were outcompeted by large scale US agribusiness, making the traditional path from poverty no longer available. Then we shifted jobs out from Mexico and those people could find no employment. Then we had a wonderful idea of using food crops for fuel, and the skyrocketing cost of basic food stocks brought true problems to Mexico that no longer had a rural farm basis. Is it any wonder that people turned to the employer of last resort, which is crime?

In not securing our borders, we now have hit squads from multiple criminal organizations hosted in Mexico seeking to dominate crime venues in the US. We are now faced with the next COIN deployment for the US Armed Forces not being in Iraq or Afghanistan or the Philippines or even overseas: it will be in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma... that is no longer mere prognostication on my part, but the results of the military analysis in DoD. Both internally to NORTHCOM and externally, the next COIN fight will be on our soil and that of Mexico. While this failure cannot wholly be owned by this departing President, it being the failure of his predecessors back to President Carter, he can and should be faulted for not only doing NOTHING but encouraging less secure borders for the Nation. Those spouting Reconquista in the US will find that criminal concerns do not brook laws and Nationalism as they hinder it, thus those seeking to weaken the US will also be those first at peril if the rule of law collapses: not from our citizens but from those seeking to destabilize the Nation. That is how revolutions and insurgencies go: they eat their young. Which, in this case, are those fostering them. We are faced with a Nation mighty enough to win far-flung wars in the hardest way possible and yet lose itself to the easiest things to do as a Nation. That is a paramount threat to the liberty of all citizens of the US and the world, as absent the rule of law we will see the rule of the strongman return. While we have suffered no terrorist attacks upon our Nation since 9/11, we now see a total dissolving of order in Mexico that will threaten death and chaos in our Nation far beyond what 9/11 could do.

As the President is given the duty to protect the Nation from threats 'foreign and domestic', and he is given the Admiralty power over the administration of the Laws of the Sea by our naval units (public and private registered to the US), and as he is commander of the Armies and the Navies, the President must respect the boundary of the Nation and her People within those bounds, and the laws set by Congress for Treaties and other measures that come to the territory of the US. There have been more complaints on this topic of a disingenuous nature than on nearly any other one. In both instances he has used the power of Head of State, Commander of the Armies and the Navies, his Admiralty power and that of the Head of the Nation in ways that all other Presidents have during war and peace. We are no strangers to keeping prisoners over seas during foreign wars: we did not ship to the US captured Germans or Japanese or Italians. Against a foe who declaims that no Nation will have authority over them and that they revert to the Law of Nature and claim all of their rights and liberties, bar none, to themselves, these terrorists have no claim to the protection of the Laws of War and Peace nor the Law of Nations, both of which support the civil utilization of war powers by Nations, not by individuals who are not taking part in a National activity. In falling outside the reach of any Treaty these individuals have previously fallen into articles of military conduct written by Abraham Lincoln, and yet this President refuses to acknowledge that President Lincoln promulgated military law in this realm. If he cannot remember what the founder of his own party did, is it any wonder that no one else in the Nation can do so?

Similarly, when outside the confines of US territory, including US flagged ships at sea and our extra-territorial spaces in Embassies, US Citizens are not subject to US law save for those communications between citizens of the US. And even those have been curbed during war time as seen by censorship during warfare. That censorship goes beyond purely military matters and into civil communications that may be taking place between our adversaries under guise of other means. Similarly the only Civil Law that can be applied is the Piracy Code as it covers the activities of terrorists completely, and specific terrorism codes must be considered secondary... that is if we had decent understanding of the laws on these things. Under both the actual communication with terrorists acting contrary to the Law of Nations is punishable, not just by Civil Law.

Similarly acting outside the Geneva Conventions, as Civilians, in ways that do not conform to them, such as reporting on incidents of deaths to soldiers without respecting the dead or giving the Nation involved time to review those works is also contrary to federal law and abrogates the responsibilities your Nation has signed you up for via international agreement. Thus those agencies showing the deaths of soldiers that do *not* hand those over to the military authorities and airing them before families have been notified are in violation of the statutes that support the enforcement of the Geneva Conventions which applies to civilian activity in war zones as well as numerous military regulations regarding information in war zones under that treaty.

The concept of expanding the US Constitution to cover the planet is one that is not only contrary to US law but to international agreements which strictly address that citizens have restrictions upon them by common agreements known as treaties. The idea that 'civil rights' trump international accords when signed by the President, approved by the Senate and legislation enacted by Congress is quite astounding. If those laws are found in non-agreement with previous Constitutional provisions, of course, then they are to be struck down by the Courts as those treaties are only at the level of, but do not amend, the Constitution. I have yet to hear any citation of what rights are being lost when the President acts in the international arena using the powers of the Presidency to protect the Nation in areas that Congress cannot cover as they are not given Sovereign Power to do so, being restricted to a very few international powers, mostly concerning warfare, approval of treaties in the Senate and then enacting legislation to support such treaties. Appealing to the international treaty on civil rights misses the last item in it, that specifically lays out that anyone not abiding by their Nation State responsibilities are not covered by that treaty.

In these two areas the President is given wide powers as those are the Sovereign Powers of the Nation invested in the Office of President. There is no 'co-equal' power relationship to Sovereign Powers amongst the branches of the federal government. There are checks and balances, but no co-equivalence of power. Each Sovereign Power has its own limitations and bounds, and in interfering with those bounds outside of checks and balances, those branches of government seeking to do so put the entire Nation at risk. To date that has not happened as final judicial review involving these items has demonstrated the proper operation of these Powers within the bounds given to them. If you don't like it that rented property by the government overseas is not subject to direct federal power, then perhaps you should ask for the invasion of said country to take it over and bring it under full US purview. Of course we have lots of such properties in Japan, Australia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Philippines...a good argument can be made that the US government should have NO rental property outside of the those territories held by the US or as extra-territorial enclaves called Embassies, but I do not hear that as an argument given by anyone, even if it is the logically consistent one for the items involved.

Of Freedom

The freedom of the Citizens of the United States to act in pursuit of their liberty is a prime concern and the major concern of government. With that said, the government is given strict powers and bounds for laws and enforcement to respect the rights and freedoms of the individual. President Bush in no way came in on a platform to keep government intervention in the lives of the individual citizen down, and, quite the contrary, came in with a package of seeking to insert more government at its largest scales into religion, schools and the economy on some premise that 'conservative values' can be aided by more intrusive and larger government. It is very strange that the 'conservative' values that President Ronald Reagan ran on have been so ill served by Conservatives in power for the past three decades. There is apparently a large discrepancy amongst 'conservatives' that run for office on what they believe in, what they say and what they do. An Elitist position, on the Left and Right, has been one in which government is no longer recognized as a necessary evil, but as some benefactor to the Nation and individuals. When considered as a necessary evil, we seek even-handed justice and application of the law from government, but when those in power try to make government selective, to help some over others and to promulgate non-equality under the law, government is no boon but an evil enhanced to force compliance with the Citizens of the Nation.

I do not question that the outgoing President is intelligent: he has made many good and skilled moves to shift Iraq from a deadly, on-going peril to one of full transition to local representative democracy and peace. The evidence of that intelligence is plain. Just as plain is his misguided ideas on using government to minister to the people of the United States and not *serve* them evenly, equally and with justice for all. Complaining about statutes that Congress passes is one thing, and as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Nation, the President must uphold the laws. The outgoing President has chosen to ignore robust enforcement of laws that would protect the Nation at its borders from a growing criminal insurgency, but has been more than willing to apply ill-made law by Congress to the economy so as to promulgate decades old social concepts that see those unable to pay for housing being given low cost loans. Congress has mandated *both*, but this President has been very selective of equal protection of the law and safeguarding of the Nation's safety and economy. It is the responsibility of the Office of the Executive to *question* such laws IN COURT if he sees them as a threat to the Nation and well-being and safety of its Citizens. The housing 'bubble' that was inflated by Congressional mandate starting with the Community Reinvestment Act and then having regulations on lenders removed and actually forcing them to give loans to those unable to pay (the NINJA borrower: No Income, No Job or Assets) has put the economy into a position where 'bailing out' these companies that were daft enough to try and profit off of Congressional guidance that went beyond sound fiscal concerns in borrowing and lending practices as a 'good thing'.

Not only is that not a 'good thing', this encouraging non-sound fiscal policy, but the very laws that caused this are STILL on the books to this very day and continuing to damage the Nation. The President is to be a check and balance on Congressional law making by challenging ill-conceived laws that threaten the Nation in court. All the way to the Supreme Court. In not doing so, and in trying to get his own vision of 'good things' government can do, we lose the blessing of government that is impartial to the tyranny of one that is biased. Not only is that a long-term loss for the Nation, but the actual parts that get enacted, such as the 'No Child Left Behind' Act, turn out to be a waste of time and money, put more regulation on local schools from the federal level and continues a process of slow federalization of the schools that began in the 1970's. This was done in reaction to Johnny being unable to read and the sad fact is that with all the hundreds of billions poured in from the federal level, Johnny is *still* reading at the exact *same* rate as he was in 1958. Apparently money and federal oversight with various forms of good ideas has done NOTHING to help that, and has actually made the problem worse by creating a huge, officious bureaucracy that now tells local schools what to do for the pittance they receive from the federal level. Yet, when under pure, local control and cost guidance the schools did JUST AS WELL as they do now. That is not 'conservatism': that is Progressivism to think that all solutions lie with larger, more powerful central government. With decades showing the contrary, that larger central government is a horror and bane to individual liberty and freedom, we still hear 'conservatives' who want to try and change a necessary evil to something pure and good, even when their wisdom tells them that this is just an agency of easily corruptible mortals who will seek more power to themselves so as to dictate to their fellow man, 'Compassionate Conservatives' think that is GOOD.

It is not.

It is the worst form of evil imaginable in a representative democracy with a limited government system made to secure the rights and liberty of each individual. And it is these very, same 'conservatives' who *complain* when 'liberals' use the exact, same tools they have made stronger to OTHER ENDS than what the 'conservatives' wanted. And yet they are the very ones voting to approve those tools, weaken the Constitution and expand the federal government into areas where it has ZERO power. The 'commerce clause' is now so distorted that the federal government feels it can now regulate purely intra-state markets for trade that does NOT go outside the purely local. That goes far beyond growing pot for oneself and one's friends, and is a critical step in the direction of putting all markets at all levels under pure federal control.

Of course none of President Bush's critics on the Left ever speak of this as this empowers their agenda of putting more power into government hands and out of local control and oversight. You cannot start a tyrannical regime *without* such concentration of power, and doing so changes the necessary evil of government into something repressive to the liberty of the common man by taking responsibility for purely local and personal affairs out of the hands of the individual, local and State governments. Now even the States, which were once the strong backbone and vital organs of the Nation, are suffering and seek 'bailouts' and succor from federal government. They do not look to their people, first, but upwards to those that have less ability to adapt. That is an abrogation of State level representative democracy and being held accountable to the people of a State due to the actions taken at the federal level to encourage State governments to invest and spend unwisely.

That is a prescription for failure of the Nation and our compact amongst the People to give government only a limited set of things to do to safeguard the Nation, liberty and freedom. When government begins to think it is good and can hand out 'rights' then we are denying the self-evident truth of all men being created equal and having all rights endowed to them upon their creation as people. I really don't want government at the highest level getting into deciding to intervene for the unborn as we have seen the wicked ways that tends when we give it something simple like protecting the borders. If it can't figure that out, then being 'nice' to give everyone 'equal access' to health care is an illusion to having your health, well being and ultimate death decided by and for government, not by you. By trying to 'protect' such things at the federal level outside of the very limited constraints we give to the federal government, we begin to abuse our fellow citizens for the well being of the few, the powerful, the rich and the Elites at the cost of our liberty and freedom as individuals.

I deeply laud President Bush for his work in Afghanistan, Iraq and against terrorism.

Those immediate and long term threats had been neglected all the way back to the first attacks on US Embassies going back to the 1960's by terrorists. Of necessity for pure survival, and holding a tyrant accountable to his word, those had to be done and the power hungry and those seeking to destroy all Nations to their own evil ways confronted.

In other affairs of actually doing his job to secure the Nation, confront ill-guided and dangerous laws and to uphold the security of the Nation and individuals from ever more invasive and neglectful government, he has done less well and has actually empowered those seeking more power over the common man in America. Confronting the threat of terrorism abroad while neglecting narco-terrorism by criminal syndicates across the border in an effort of 'good will' is insane and will cost us more in time, money and lives than Iraq and Afghanistan combined as the threat can now walk into the Nation to kill its Citizens.

Exercising some foreign affairs well, to curb terrorists, and neglecting and even disdaining other duties to the Nation, he has left us with the horrific scenario of a criminal insurgency and weakened economy unable to properly confront it. I expect that future historians will laud the work in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Africa, Philippines... and then scratch their heads on why he didn't use the exact SAME outlook on Mexico. How he could see that lower taxes can have the economy thrive, but ill-founded social ideas on handing out cash to those who can't repay it and do nothing about it could ever originate from the same man.

I have defended him on the things that I see he has done right.

Criticized him on those I have seen him do wrong.

And see that one set of threats has been confronted, while another set has grown immensely during his terms in office. If he had not confronted the threats we have had for decades we would be far worse off now, than at the start of his terms. He has not, however, upheld his duties to safeguard the Nation and its people in all areas under his purview and covered by the Oath of Office. Those who fretted about the blood and treasure spent in Iraq will now come face to face with blood and treasure spent in the desert south west of America.

If we are lucky.

If not, it will not be in other States, but in your front yard, gunning for you.

And being 'nice' will get you killed... or enslaved... to those willing to take up barbarism and reclaim their animal rights and liberties. They may be criminals or government functionaries seeking to 'secure' you and 'help' you and 'save' you. Then the cost is your own blood and treasure, if you can survive in the Iron Times that bring them to you.

We were born free.

We agreed to common laws and governance.

Now those are turned upon us by those who are ill-guided in their view that civilization is somehow 'nice'.

Now we will pay for this folly.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Morality, Justice, Citizen and State in War

Eli Bernstein's post at PJM on Is the War on Gaza Immoral?, appears to miss the point of Morality and Justice in War.

I left one of my early morning, before coffee responses which I give below, trying to address the concept that Morality has a deeper basis that goes beyond the 'Jus ad bellum' Nation State practice of warfare.  I will, continue on after that text:

By seeking to explain criteria for war, the actual citation of what war actually is, that being the right of the individual, is not addressed.

As individuals we all have the right to wage war. Actually doing so is a negative liberty when attacking others and a positive liberty when done for self defense. That negative liberty we, as civilized individuals, invest in the Nation State to protect our society and ensure that it is protected against other Nation States (who also have the negative liberty of aggressive war at their disposal) and against those humans who reclaim their full set of rights and liberties and revert to the Law of Nature and turn away from the civilized understanding of the Law of Nations.

The object of the Nation State is to ensure that the practice of individuals reverting to the savage state of Nature are ended, both within and outside of the Nation State. That is a responsibility that comes with that common investment of our individual negative liberty that we invest in the Nation State for our self-protection.

The negative liberty of war, that is aggressive war, itself has multiple positive and negative aspects or rights. That is only partially represented by ‘Just War’ theory. The negative exercise of aggressive war is for conquest, teritorrial expansion and for self-indulgence of rulers of Nation States. The positive excercise of the negative liberty of war is in the self-protection of the Nation State via pre-emptive war where the survival of the Nation State is put at risk by not waging such war. The description of such wars and the rights and responsibilities Nation States have as our creation are all part of the Law of Nations.

In the US we have sub-National States which are given the right to organize a non-standing force known as a Citizen’s Militia. That is codified in Article 1, Section 10, so that the individual sub-National States are barred from raising armies and navies except when the National government cannot or will not respond to the threat of invasion or danger that does not brook delay. Then that State reclaims the negative liberty for warfare for itself to exercise on behalf of its Citizens. The sub-National State structure and the Nation State cannot take the negative liberty of warfare from individuals as it is part of the human right of warfare we are all born with.

When, as an individual, we find that savage humans who have reclaimed their negative liberty of warfare to attack us, as individuals, our full right of warfare returns to us as it is our positive right of survival and self-defense that cannot be divorced from us by our Nature, and that the only response when threatened by the threat of warfare against our persons is to responsd in kind and hold ourselves responsible to our agreed-upon law once that action is taken. Unlike savages we agree to put down the weapons of war once we have defended ourselves, and be held accountable. We may still practice with those self-same weapons as the right of self-defense is the positive liberty of warfare that we cannot hand to any Nation State as we are responsible for our own self-protection.

From that understanding Israel, as a Nation State has the right of any Nation State to wage war against those individuals who have reverted to their savage, Natural state of being.

Those who have not done so and see their fellow man revert to savages must seek higher authority to put them to an end, flee from them or, if they are caught up in such savage actions, do their best to thwart or end them so as to protect themselves and their society via lawful means and agreement.

Those who sit placidly by and do *nothing* are as culpable as those attacking via savage means absent the Nation State as they see no reason to act in a civilized manner. The rights and liberties of war come with responsibilities not only at the Nation State level but at the level of each and every individual. Those that do not run, do not seek the shelter of accountable Nation State means, who do not seek to put an end to savage humans and their war activities are as guilty as those waging such savage war as they see no reason to act to stop such savagery. Only if you are caught unarmed and confined can you be given leeway, or if loved ones you hold dear are similarly held… yet escape and getting cognizant and accountable authorities to end such savagery must be your top and main goal.

By not acting in a civilized fashion and having no legal and accountable Nation or State structure that can put an end to such savage humans, those who live in such areas by living in them and not seeking to construct such accountable authorities are as culpable as those attacking as they are not trying to end savage activities and hold those individuals accountable. All that takes is banding together, forming a code of fighting in accordance with well understood principles of warfare, putting on uniform, holding yourself accountable to that structure not only internally but through external intercourse with other States and Nations, and then fighting to put down and end savagery around you.

That is war to create a Nation State and hold yourself accountable to agreed-upon organs and authority.

When Palestinians actually start doing those things to end the savages in HAMAS, Fatah, and those Hezbollah and al Qaeda organizers in their lands, then they will have taken a positive step towards self-control and accountability by putting an end to savagery. So far that hasn’t happened. And those sitting around and doing *nothing* in those territories are endorsing the current state of affairs by the positive decision to do *nothing*. And that is as uncivilized as those waging savage war and indicates that they prefer a state of savagery to any other condition.

This difference I cite is the difference between Public War, that which is waged by the Nation State, and Private War, that which is waged by individuals absent any Nation State aegis.  This is the far more basic division that comes from the division of the negative liberty and right of war, that which is aggressive war, and the positive liberty and right to war, which is war of self-protection.  In creating society we begin to create organs to give warfare as conducted by individuals some codification and regularity.  Societies, however, are not a good means to hold warfare accountable when practiced by the individual to that society.  Many societies in ancient and modern times, spanning from Bronze Age Greeks to modern Yanamamo and High Land Dani, have societies that have warfare as a regularized part of social interaction.  Yet neither society is set up to make treaties, regularize war and actually govern themselves in accordance with those agreed-upon wishes of other societies that have these higher organizational elements known as the State.

By having societies in which warfare is a normal practice, there is no attempt to go to higher ordering of it and placing restrictions upon it beyond that which is done by society and individuals.  Far from being romantic, such warfare is often stylized, can be horrifically brutal, and has standards set by the society which are expressions of it.  No attempt to curb and regularize such warfare is necessary as those that contravene the societal standards are simply killed or driven out.  There is no appeal to 'Just war' or 'morality' as personal expression of warfare via means dictated by society are the norm, and the punishments for contravening society can then only appeal to common sense, not to an identified body of work or regularized schema on those things that are permitted under due duress.  That is not true regularization: it may be allowed in one instance and punished in another with the exact, same background.

Those who have studied history can quickly identify the various European organizations that acted in similar manner: the various tribes of Gaul and Brittania encountering the Roman Empire, the wandering nomads of Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Huns and so on that likewise plagued Rome, the Iliad and Odyssey both recount that from the Bronze age, so do the records of Bronze Age Egypt, the Hittite foreign ministry archive is rife with examples, in Meso-America the Olmecs, Toltecs, Mayans and Aztecs did this, the oral traditions of the tribes of North America point to this, and the entire Viking Age was an expression of this form of warfare.  In many we see societies in transition to States, so that the Greek City States gave credence and rationale behind the Trojan war, while still allowing Private War to exist in support of it.  The Aztecs not only organized a central militia, but kept some savage tribes available for Private War needs to suppress uprisings, and those Vikings had sought regularity of Nation State over them, but retained the traditional trading and raiding schema to external societies.  Their equivalents, today, are in Pakistan,Afghanistan, the Balkans, Somalia, Rwanda, the lawless Tri-Border Area in South America and the places identified as Palestinian Territories.

All of that last list are the MODERN savage lands of the world.  Indeed, at a flash we see individuals suddenly forming groups that will fight for their own reasons and disdain accountability to any State or Nation, and even scorn the societies that host them.  These are the enemies of humanity, who are prepared to wage war on anyone they disagree with and never be held accountable outside of conflict and warfare.  This individuals have turned away from the blessing of civilization created by their fellow man and seek to destroy it, and their names are legion, their stated goals scattershot and their ends are to destroy the civilized order of things so as to put their own order in its place.  When we hear of those around these savages who have the positive choice of confronting them, leaving them to seek positive justice to end them or to stay and be quiet supporters being accorded some lofty status of 'citizen', the question is: what have they done to earn that?

Being a Citizen of a State requires that one abjure aggressive war, that negative liberty of warfare, and seek to codify its use by the Nation State for the protection of all of those within the Nation State.  Here an internal State is not enough, and the external accountability that comes with being a Nation State (or even City State) is required.  To be a Citizen, the civilized Nation State must be present to recognize you as a Citizen, uphold your rights and liberties (no matter how restricted they may be) and PROTECT you from savage humans.  That is the positive utilization of the negative liberty of aggressive warfare: ending those that threaten civilization's members who are Citizens and, thusly when not under arms, Civilians.

Those in Gaza who have sought no Nation State, support no means to end HAMAS, Fatah, Hezbollah and a series of other Private War groups, and who do nothing to confront or form up means to confront them are not 'civilians': they have disdained the responsibility of being a Citizen to hold others accountable for their actions.  To be classed as a 'civilian' YOU must uphold the various treaties and agreements and laws that your Nation State has signed you up for.  When you see others not doing so, your duty to your fellow Citizens is to report on those doing such actions and seek an end to them.  You confront them, thwart them, commit sabotage, snipe from the shadows and, in general, use your positive liberty and rights of war of self-protection against them, if you are alone, and to preferably band together as accountable groups to end such savage behavior.

You can run.  That is, actually, a very positive thing to do if you are unarmed and subject to such savages - get the hell out of there.

If you stay, you are not there to *hide* and cower and hope that someone will make everything all right and save you.  That makes you a *burden* and a slave to savage war, and an accomplice to it.  If you stay, you are to fight in a reasonable, responsible and effective manner.  You make that statement by having told anyone in power at the Nation State level that if they are not going to do THEIR DUTY that YOU will DO YOURS.  This will, probably, get you killed, but you will have 'done the right thing' and, you never know, 'one man can make a difference' by example and showing the way forward is through the savages to bring them to heel and end their savage ways.

When we hear from those in despair 'where is the Gandhi or Martin Luther King of Palestine?', that is only part of the question as these were great and peaceful men of civilization.  It is even more troubling the list of the sorts of men that pointed out how to end the 'Palestinian problem' and we must ask 'Where are any like THESE in Palestine?'

Where is the Philip of Macedon who would fight, bribe, undercut, sweet talk and bed his way from disparate City States to the Nation of Greece?  Where is his sort in Palestine?

Where is Napoleon who ended the horrific Revolution that had descended into savagery with 'a whiff of grapeshot'?  Where is the Napoleon of Palestine who need only put down these savage groups?

Where is Sam Houston who would unite the settlers in the Texas Revolution and lead to a unified Texas and Republic of Texas?  Where is the Sam Houston of Palestine to unite in Revolution and form civil government?

Where is John Rolfe to find a better way to use the land, be productive and marry so as to demonstrate a better way to live?  Where is the John Rolfe of Palestine to prove by his life that he is no threat to Israel and that peace can be achieved by hard work together?

Where is Cincinnatus to take up the robe of power, put down the revolting groups and then, once the job is done, put down the robe and go back to farming?  Where is the Cincinnatus of Palestine?


That listing is not exhaustive and leaves out many like Gustavus Adolphus, George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant just in the military realm, and  William Bradford or even Erik The Red on the civil side.  The examples of how to unify a people and create peace, by military, civil and mixed means is deep in history.  And yet those in the Palestinian territories have not yielded a Uniter by arms, a Uniter by reason or a Uniter by common cause.  Instead we see, for decades, savage Private War performed by those no better than animals.  Indeed, animals show much greater restraint and reason than do these terrorists, thus demonstrating mankind to be the greatest of all animals as we can descend into depths that no animal would willingly go to.

When the People of Palestine form up a regular way to restrain themselves and APPLY IT to the terrorists, then they will gain the lofty title of 'civilian'.

Until then they have a savage society that endorses Private War in full savagery beyond what any animal would do.

For those outside to end it, that end will be gruesome and bloody.

So will it be that way on the inside, but would demonstrate the want and ability to recognize what civil means are and attempt to achieve a civilized society that sets aside the savage means of Private War.  The outside world has been awaiting this since 1948.  Somehow those folks on the other side of the border figured out how to do this in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria. 

Meanwhile Lebanon slowly sinks into savagery and the people there are finding the outside funds and killers hard to stop.

Going from the MOST civilized place in the Middle East in the early 1970's to the second lowest in the 1990's and to this present day, that is not a good sign... although Iraq going from bloody dictator to peaceful representative democracy is a good one.  Lets hope they can hold that together and that we do not run away from the hard part of creating peace that was hard won.

My job as a civilian is to support that endeavor of my Nation.

And give the people there the ability to show the blessing of civilized life to their neighbors.

In case anyone has forgotten that in all of this.