Sunday, May 25, 2008

The nature of the enemy

The following is a whitepaper of The Jacksonian Party.

On the Laws of War and Peace by Hugo Grotius, Book I, Chapter 3 (Source:

I. THE first and most necessary divisions of war are into one kind called private, another public, and another mixed. Now public war is carried on by the person holding the sovereign power. Private war is that which is carried on by private persons without authority from the state. A mixed war is that which is carried on, on one side by public authority, and on the other by private persons. But private war, from its greater antiquity, is the first subject for inquiry.

The proofs that have been already produced, to shew that to repel violence is not repugnant to natural law, afford a satisfactory reason to justify private war, as far as the law of nature is concerned. But perhaps it may be thought that since public tribunals have been erected, private redress of wrongs is not allowable. An objection which is very just. Yet although public trials and courts of Justice are not institutions of nature, but erected by the invention of men, yet as it is much more conducive to the peace of society for a matter in dispute to be decided by a disinterested person, than by the partiality and prejudice of the party aggrieved, natural justice and reason will dictate the necessity and advantage of every one's submitting to the equitable decisions of public judges. Paulus, the Lawyer, observes that "what can be done by a magistrate with the authority of the state should never be intrusted to individuals; as private redress would give rise to greater disturbance. And "the reason, says King Theodoric, why laws were invented, was to prevent any one from using personal violence, for wherein would peace differ from all the confusion of war, if private disputes were terminated by force?" And the law calls it force for any man to seize what he thinks his due, without seeking a legal remedy.


IV. Public war, according to the law of nations, is either SOLEMN, that is FORMAL, or LESS SOLEMN, that is INFORMAL. The name of lawful war is commonly given to what is here called formal, in the same sense in which a regular will is opposed to a codicil, or a lawful marriage to the cohabitation of slaves. This opposition by no means implies that it is not allowed to any man, if he pleases, to make a codicil, or to slaves to cohabit in matrimony, but only, that, by the civil law, FORMAL WILLS and SOLEMN MARRIAGES, were attended with peculiar privileges and effects. These observations were the more necessary ; because many, from a misconception of the word just or lawful, think that all wars, to which those epithets do not apply, are condemned as unjust and unlawful. Now to give a war the formality required by the law of nations, two things are necessary. In the first place it must be made on both sides, by the sovereign power of the state, and in the next place it must be accompanied with certain formalities. Both of which are so essential that one is insufficient without the other.

Now a public war, LESS SOLEMN, may be made without those formalities, even against private persons, and by any magistrate whatever. And indeed, considering the thing without respect to the civil law, every magistrate, in case of resistance, seems to have a right to take up arms, to maintain his authority in the execution of his offices; as well as to defend the people committed to his protection. But as a whole state is by war involved in danger, it is an established law in almost all nations that no war can be made but by the authority of the sovereign in each state. There is such a law as this in the last book of Plato ON LAWS. And by the Roman law, to make war, or levy troops without a commission from the Prince was high treason. According to the Cornelian law also, enacted by Lucius Cornelius Sylla, to do so without authority from the people amounted to the same crime. In the code of Justinian there is a constitution, made by Valentinian and Valens, that no one should bear arms without their knowledge and authority. Conformably to this rule, St. Augustin says, that as peace is most agreeable to the natural state of man, it is proper that Princes should have the sole authority to devise and execute the operations of war. Yet this general rule, like all others, in its application must always be limited by equity and discretion.

Here, centuries before our time, is a direct addressing of our problems in our day of the enemy we face.  Hugo Grotius quickly dispenses with those who think that because warfare is unjust in its execution, that being the mayhem of the fields of battle and the rampant destruction of life with no court nor magistrate, it therefore must be unjust and unlawful.  That is, however, incorrect as, to have a State, the ability to wage war to defend that State is paramount.  As we, in lawful times, prefer disputes to be settled by reason and appeal to impartial judges, we find that reason and impartiality cannot be gained between Nations: any Nation or group attempting to render such a decision would have their own futures to consider and that would give immediate bias to even the most isolated and peace loving of peoples.

When we join together to form a State with a National system to interact with other Nations and to perform justice within Nations, we, as private individuals, give up the right of making personal war and settling things by rule of might.  Between Nations there can be no hand-off of that responsibility to any other group as the Nation is made for the self-guidance and protection of her people.  Putting that Sovereignty entrusted into the Nation into the hands of any other Nation, group of same or individual is putting the opportunity for rank injustice to be done to those in the Nation giving up such power.  The lawful way for Nations to interact short of warfare is called Diplomacy, and Diplomacy has a limit to it where the vital interests of the Nation are at stake.  Private war, then, is a liberty from the law of nature that we relinquish to a greater good for our Nation and to be protected by the Sovereign government (be it Monarch, Council, Prime Minister or President).  While internal laws rest upon the powers relinquished to the State to form a Nation, treaties between Nations are adhered to by each Nation ensuring that other Nations keep to such treaties.

When an individual takes up Private war to execute war against other individuals or Nations and without having any Sovereign authority as a Nation backing them, they are then taking up arms not against just those they attack, but of all Nations.  By taking up the law of nature again, the trust between individuals and their State to utilize war in self-defense for all of those in the Nation is put at risk.  No individual relinquishes the right to defend themselves from unwarranted attack: no law made may say otherwise as the individual is always at liberty to defend themselves for survival purposes.  Even immediate counter-attack to drive off such attackers is fully legitimate for an individual, beyond that, however, the legal processes of the State must intervene to look at the type and strength of original attack and organize defenses beyond that of the individual.  From simple law enforcement against common criminal to military mobilization for a threat against the State, those are the just and proper ways to defend society.

In Book II, Chapter 22:

XI. But neither the independence of individuals, nor that of states, is a motive that can at all times justify recourse to arms, as if all persons INDISCRIMINATELY had a natural right to do so. For where liberty is said to be a natural right belonging to all men and states, by that expression is understood a right of nature, antecedent to every human obligation or contract. But in that case, liberty is spoken of in a negative sense, and not by way of contrast to independence, the meaning of which is, that no one is by the law of nature doomed to servitude, though he is not forbidden by that law to enter into such a condition. For in this sense no one can be called free, if nature leaves him not the privilege of chusing his own condition: as Albutius pertinently remarks, "the terms, freedom and servitude are not founded in the principles of nature, but are names subsequently applied to men according to the dispositions of fortune." And Aristotle defines the relations of master and servant to be the result of political and not of natural appointment. Whenever therefore the condition of servitude, either personal or political, subsists, from lawful causes, men should be contented with that state, according to the injunction of the Apostle, "Art thou called, being a servant, let not that be an anxious concern?"

XII. And there is equal injustice in the desire of reducing, by force of arms, any people to a state of servitude, under the pretext of its being the condition for which they are best qualified by nature. It does not follow that, because any one is fitted for a particular condition, another has a right to impose it upon him. For every reasonable creature ought to be left free in the choice of what may be deemed useful or prejudicial to him, provided another has no just right to a controul over him.

The case of children has no connection with the question, as they are necessarily under the discipline of others.


XVI. As the imperfect obligations of charity, and other virtues of the same kind are not cognizable in a court of justice, so neither can the performance of them be compelled by force of arms. For it is not the moral nature of a duty that can enforce its fulfillment, but there must be some legal right in one of the parties to exact the obligation. For the moral obligation receives an additional weight from such a right. This obligation therefore must be united to the former to give a war the character of a just war. Thus a person who has conferred a favour, has not, strictly speaking, a RIGHT to demand a return, for that would be converting an act of kindness into a contract.

XVII. It is necessary to observe that a war may be just in its origin, and yet the intentions of its authors may become unjust in the course of its prosecution. For some other motive, not unlawful IN ITSELF, may actuate them more powerfully than the original right, for the attainment of which the war was begun. It is laudable, for instance, to maintain national honour; it is laudable to pursue a public or a private interest, and yet those objects may not form the justifiable grounds of the war in question.A war may gradually change its nature and its object from the prosecution of a right to the desire of seconding or supporting the aggrandizement of some other power. But such motives, though blamable, when even connected with a just war, do not render the war ITSELF unjust, nor invalidate its conquests.

In building society we give space for independence of self-decision and to do that requires that we relinquish the liberty of waging war to the Nation.  Not all liberty, as Grotius points out, is positive, and the right for individuals to wage war without a given authority of a Nation to back them, is waging a negative liberty so as to remove independence gained by civil society having formed a State.  To take up war is not only unlawful, it undermines the basic compacts of why we have civilization: to create a space for civil independence of action without the peril of Private war.  From that all Private war, no matter what is brought up as reason for it, is unjust.  And as all Nations share in the ideal of creating a civil space for independence by passing off the negative right of waging Private war, then those who wage it become a common enemy Public and Private as they put both at danger.

It is neither good nor right to confuse wars waged under just circumstances that have gone awry do to the actions of the participants and conflate that with Private war which is unjust from its core.  The differences between the blamable and accountable ways wars under just pretexts are waged are wholly different than those who wage unjust war from its inception.  The act of waging Private war to enforce an individual or group of same's beliefs upon others via the means of warfare is a taking of independence and liberty within civil society by utilizing the negative independence of Private war against them.  From that there is no difference between that taking of independence and liberty for mere robbery, as Pirates have always done, or for the very power of the subjugation and continuation of same via the means of terror during Private war.  By trying to show that bad actions during just war are the equal to those same actions taken during Private war is profoundly wrong-headed and a betrayal of the civil space and laws necessary to hold the first accountable to their actions while the latter will account having NO law over them save their own whims.  Those claiming such equivalence are either ignorant of the need for civilization to have the right to warfare in the following of National needs, or they are deceitful and wishing to plunge civilization itself into ruin by making those who are accountable by law the equal of those waging Private war to enforce their will upon others with no justification at all.

The Nation of a State is not without means to address those making Private war, however, and in Book III, Chapter 2, this comes out clearly:

IV. Another method of obtaining redress for any violation of persons, or property is by having recourse to what, in modern language, are called REPRISALS, which the Saxons and Angles denominated WITHERNAM, and to which the French gave the name of LETTERS OF MARQUE, and those were usually obtained from the crown.

V. It is generally understood that recourse may be had to this method of redress not only against a foreign aggressor, but also against a debtor, if justice cannot be obtained in due time: but in NOTORIOUS cases, which admit of no doubt, this right may be enforced even beyond the strict letter of the law. For even in DOUBTFUL matters, the presumption will always be in favour of judges appointed by public authority. For it is unlikely that they should GREATLY, or WANTONLY exceed their power; especially when, if so inclined, they have not the same means of enforcing their decrees against foreigners, as against their fellow subjects. Indeed even in disputes between subjects of the same country, they cannot annul a just debt. Paulus, the Lawyer, says that a REAL DEBTOR, though discharged, owing to some informality or inability of the law to enforce payment, still remains a debtor according to the law of nature.

And when, in consequence of a judicial sentence, a creditor, under pretext of seizing his own property, had taken from a debtor something which did not belong to him though it was in his possession: upon the discharge of the debt, a doubt arising whether the thing should be restored to the debtor, Scaevola maintained that it certainly ought to be restored.

There is a difference between the two cases. For subjects, AS SUCH, cannot make any violent resistance to the execution of a sentence, which they may not deem satisfactory, nor can they prosecute any right in opposition to the law. FOREIGNERS may use violent means to enforce a right: tho' they are not justified in using such means, while there is any possibility of obtaining redress in a legal, and peaceable manner.

It is on such grounds that reprisals are made upon the persons and property of the subjects, belonging to a power, who refuses to grant redress and reparation for injuries and aggressions. It is a practice not literally enacted by the law of nature, but generally received through custom. It is a practice too of the greatest antiquity: for in the eleventh book of the Iliad, we find Nestor giving an account of the reprisals, which he had made upon the Epeian nation, from whom he took a great number of cattle, as a satisfaction for a prize which his father Nelcus had won at the Elian games; and for debts due to many private subjects of the Pylian kingdom. Out of this booty the king having selected his own due, equitably divided the rest among the other creditors.

When foreigners who either act in a way in which their Sovereign government cannot or will not address, or independently of all governments, the Nation has the ability to issue reprisals against them without having to declare any war.  The act of committing Private war is a grave enough breach in and of itself, that authorization of reprisals are allowed without the greater formality of declaring war.  Nations may declare such wars, as the Romans did against many uprisings and invasions by tribes or as was done by the Monarchs of England against overseas usurpers or Pirates.  The power of a Nation to authorize individuals or companies of citizens to go after such people making Private war is ancient, and fully necessary as the power of a State to protect itself via National means.

Again, to those wishing to make equal Public and Private war:

VII. But on this, as well as other points, we must take care not to confound the natural and fundamental law of nations, with the civil and conventional law of particular states.

By the law of nations all the permanent subjects, both natives and settlers, of an offending state or sovereign are 'liable to suffer reprisals: but the same rule does not bind those, who are passing through a country, or only residing in it for a time. For such reprisals are a kind of pledges, like public burdens, made answerable for the public debts, from which foreigners, being temporary residents, though owing obedience to the laws, are totally exempt.

In the same manner, Ambassadors, but not those sent from an enemy to our enemies, and their property, are exempt from such conditions by the law of nations. By the CIVIL LAW too Of many countries an exception is made in favour of women and children, of men of letters, and those who are travelling for the purposes of trade. But by the LAW OF NATIONS the goods of all are liable to reprisals, as was the case at Athens, respecting the seizure of persons. In many places, by the civil law, the right of making reprisals is obtained of the sovereign, and in others, of the judges.

By the law of nations the property of all captures is devoted to discharge the debt, and defray the expenses incurred, the remainder of which, after due satisfaction obtained, and peace concluded, should be restored. By the civil law the persons interested are summoned to appear, the property is sold by public authority, and the money, accruing from thence, divided among all who are entitled to a share of the same. But these and other points of the same kind are to be learned from civilians, who are conversant in such matters, and particularly from Bartolus, who has written upon reprisals. This subject may be closed with one observation, that will in some measure tend to soften the rigour of this stern, but necessary right, and that observation is, that such as by not discharging a debt, or granting redress. have occasioned reprisals to be made, are bound, in justice and honour, to make good the losses of those, who have thereby suffered.

One of the fundamental differences between Privateers and Pirates, is that Privateers are seeking to garner the debt incurred by those who have harmed the Public peace.  Either via treachery or outright Private war, those granted Letters of Marque and Reprisal are given the opportunity to hurt the property of those waging Private war: as they place themselves beyond the law, their property is forfeit to discharge their unlawful costs that they have inflicted.  Such Letters are to make a balance in cost between those that harm the Nation and garnering those costs back to defray the pain and suffering inflicted upon the innocent.  Pirates are mere freebooters out for themselves, while Privateers are seeking to enforce the discharge of debt by those who wish to be held accountable to NO ONE.

There is a firm and deep distinction between Public and Private war and its activities and the tools the Nation has at hand to protect its State and its people from harm.  Even when the reach of the law via issuing notice of payment leading to the capture and arrest of these miscreants cannot get them, their property, goods, funds and even their very persons are not beyond the reach of war implemented in reprisal for their private actions.  The Nation cannot engage in Private war, but it may issue Public reprisals via warfare to let all Nations and peoples know what is being done to confront those attacking the Nation, and that any helping them are also putting themselves at risk in doing so as war is a violent and nasty way to discharge debts.

Some time after Grotius, Emmerich de Vattel would work with others to create a full text of Law of Nations, which would become a founding text in understanding how and why Nations do the things they do.  In Book III he would look at war along these very same lines:

§ 1. Definition of war.(136)

WAR is that state in which we prosecute our right by force. We also understand, by this term, the act itself, or the manner of prosecuting our right by force: but it is more conformable to general usage, and more proper in a treatise on the law of war, to understand this term in the sense we have annexed to it.

§ 2. Public war.(136)

Public war is that which takes place between nations or sovereigns, and which is carried on in the name of the public power, and by its order. This is the war we are here to consider: — private war, or that which is carried on between private individuals, belongs to the law of nature properly so called.

§ 3. Right of making war.(136)

In treating of the right to security (Book II. Chap. IV.), we have shown that nature gives men a right to employ force, when it is necessary for their defence, and for the preservation of their rights. This principle is generally acknowledged: reason demonstrates it; and nature herself has engraved it on the heart of man. Some fanatics indeed, taking in a literal sense the moderation recommended in the gospel, have adopted the strange fancy of suffering themselves to be massacred or plundered, rather than oppose force to violence. But we need not fear that this error will make any great progress. The generality of mankind will, of themselves, guard against its contagion — happy, if they as well knew how to keep within the just bounds which nature has set to a right that is granted only through necessity! To mark those just bounds, — and, by the rules of justice, equity, and humanity, to moderate the exercise of that harsh, though too often necessary right — is the intention of this third book.

§ 4. It belongs only to the sovereign power.(137)

As nature has given men no right to employ force, unless when it becomes necessary for self defence and the preservation of their rights (Book II. § 49, &c.), the inference is manifest, that, since the establishment of political societies, a right, so dangerous in its exercise, no longer remains with private persons except in those encounters where society cannot protect or defend them. In the bosom of society, the public authority decides all the disputes of the citizens, represses violence, and checks every attempt to do ourselves justice with our own hands. If a private person intends to prosecute his right against the subject of a foreign power, he may apply to the sovereign of his adversary, or to the magistrates invested with the public authority: and if he is denied justice by them, he must have recourse to his own sovereign, who is obliged to protect him. It would be too dangerous to allow every citizen the liberty of doing himself justice against foreigners; as, in that case, there would not be a single member of the state who might not involve it in war. And how could peace be preserved between nations, if it were in the power of every private individual to disturb it? A right of so momentous a nature, — the right of judging whether the nation has real grounds of complaint, whether she is authorized to employ force, and justifiable in taking up arms, whether prudence will admit of such a step, and whether the welfare of the state requires it, — that right, I say, can belong only to the body of the nation, or to the sovereign, her representative. It is doubtless one of those rights, without which there can be no salutary government, and which are therefore called rights of majesty (Book I. § 45).

Thus the sovereign power alone is possessed of authority to make war. But, as the different rights which constitute this power, originally resident in the body of the nation, may be separated or limited according to the will of the nation (Book I. § 31 and 45), it is from the particular constitution of each state, that we are to learn where the power resides, that is authorized to make war in the name of the society at large. The kings of England, whose power is in other respects so limited, have the right of making war and peace.1 Those of Sweden have lost it. The brilliant but ruinous exploits of Charles XII. sufficiently warranted the states of that kingdom to reserve to themselves a right of such importance to their safety.


§ 67. It is to be distinguished from informal and unlawful war.

Legitimate and formal warfare must be carefully distinguished from those illegitimate and informal wars, or rather predatory expeditions, undertaken either without lawful authority or without apparent cause, as likewise without the usual formalities, and solely with a view to plunder. Grotius relates several instances of the latter.5 Such were the enterprises of the grandes compagnies which had assembled in France during the wars with the English, — armies of banditti, who ranged about Europe, purely for spoil and plunder: such were the cruises of the buccaneers, without commission, and in time of peace; and such in general are the depredations of pirates. To the same class belong almost all the expeditions of the Barbary corsairs: though authorized by a sovereign, they are undertaken without any apparent cause, and from no other motive than the lust of plunder. These two species of war, I say, — the lawful and the illegitimate, — are to be carefully distinguished, as the effects and the rights arising from each are very different.

§ 68. Grounds of this distinction.

In order fully to conceive the grounds of this distinction, it is necessary to recollect the nature and object of lawful war. It is only as the last remedy against obstinate injustice that the law of nature allows of war. Hence arise the rights which it gives, as we shall explain in the sequel: hence, likewise, the rules to be observed in it. Since it is equally possible that either of the parties may have right on his side, — and since, in consequence of the independence of nations, that point is not to be decided by others (§ 40), — the condition of the two enemies is the same, while the war lasts. Thus, when a nation, or a sovereign, has declared war against another sovereign on account of a difference arisen between them, their war is what among nations is called a lawful and formal war; and its effects are, by the voluntary law of nations, the same on both sides, independently of the justice of the cause, as we shall more fully show in the sequel.6 Nothing of this kind is the case in an informal and illegitimate war, which is more properly called depredation. Undertaken without any right, without even an apparent cause, it can be productive of no lawful effect, nor give any right to the author of it. A nation attacked by such sort of enemies is not under any obligation to observe towards them the rules prescribed in formal warfare. She may treat them as robbers,(146a) The inhabitants of Geneva, after defeating the famous attempt to take their city by escalade,7 caused all the prisoners whom they took from the Savoyards on that occasion to be hanged up as robbers, who had come to attack them without cause and without a declaration of war. Nor were the Genevese censured for this proceeding, which would have been detested in a formal war

These texts were well known by the founders of the United States and their drafting of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and Constitution all reflect these views on warfare.  Lawful and Illegitimate war or Formal and Informal war have two entirely different sets of reasoning behind them: one is for the utilization of the Nation to ensure the needs of the State and the other is to meet personal ends via subjugation of others.  That is why those who wage wanton and unaccountable Private war get so little benefit of the civilization they have put at peril: they have used negative liberty to erode the civil space created by relinquishing the right of war to the State so that it may be utilized for the common good.

When we look at those that have attacked us as individuals or a Nation without backing by any Sovereign power, we then see a list of individuals and groups going far beyond al Qaeda. 

We see the people captured by FARC to render political gains for their own cause.  They are the enemy.

We see Hezbollah having killed our Marines and French soldiers in Lebanon, plus staging bombings of our Embassy in Beirut.  They are the enemy.

We see HAMAS who have taken Americans hostage in their own fanatical quest for destruction and power.  They are the enemy.

The list of these enemies gets longer with each and every group utilizing the weapons of war to kill, capture, ransom, extort, blackmail or just gain pure power for their cause.  That includes the IRA, ETA, Japanese Red Army, Tupac Amaru, Shining Path, Abu Sayyaf, PLO, GIA.  Many of the worse seek out Islamic causes, but they are not alone and the causes vary by group, but none of them are legitimate as they refuse to operate within the civil arena to air their grievances via lawful means.

They are all traitors to mankind's attempt to build a lawful form of government and regularity of discourse amongst Nations via governments.  They put at peril our independence each time they take to warfare to try and expand their power for their own reasons.  That is why our hearts cry out for the innocent attacked in Somalia, Darfur, Burma, India, Iraq, Chechnya, Bosnia, Serbia, Israel, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Philippines.  Very few Nations have not felt the lash of those wishing to enforce their will upon peoples by tearing down the independence garnered by granting the right to wage war to Nations so that a peaceful civil space can be opened.

They are all my enemy.  I do not want them to be so, but their actions put them in that position.  They can stop doing so and submit to civil authority and justice to find legal means to express their dissatisfaction with the world.  At any time they can do so and become civilized.

If we fetishize on one of these groups, to the exclusion of others, we miss the erosion of civil society and the advance of the law of nature via negative liberty to freely wage war and be held unaccountable in doing so.  Until they do so they have no legitimate grievance, just a raw lust for power to enforce their will upon others for no reason that will help anyone.  And often it is those that they claim to defend that end up being killed in their quest for that power, which further makes their acts barbaric.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ignorance Left, Ignorance Right

The following is a purely personal and pointed outlook paper of The Jacksonian Party. 

You read at your own risk.

"No operation extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main body of the enemy." - Helmuth Von Moltke

Or, as it is in sweetened condensed form: "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.  That is why they are called 'the enemy'."

Starting from the very first in Iraq, this has been an ongoing concern until the last year or so, when actually ensuring that the battle plan was to get lots of contact with the enemy was put in place.  The starting phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom were not ones that went anywhere near as planned:

  • Turkey proved unreliable due to internal politics and, perhaps, some external coercion.
  • Saddam Hussein, receiving good INTEL from the Russians on what the upcoming US battle plan was, chose to ignore it because the Russian diplomat was unreliable.  He knew that because *he* could bribe the man!
  • Not paying attention to Iraqi disposition and understanding it, the US 'Shock and Awe' part of the campaign did cause chaos, but not much shock or awe.
  • Instead of having resistance at the border, the US and Coalition forces executed a near perfect Blitzkrieg attack over the desert, routing around any 'hard points' and letting follow-on troops 'mop up'.
  • The Iraqi Republican Guard and Army had been deployed for a hard COIN campaign against their own population, expecting the US to have to sit and wait while the 4 ID was re-deployed from Turkey to KSA.  This did leave a lot of troops hanging out to dry and with little oversight.  You could, often, find their commanders, but the troops themselves?
  • The Iraqi Republican Guard finally got its act together and was going to make a stand south of Baghdad.  An entire armored column got taken out by two bombs.  Because of the extremely light 'contact' force, nothing could prevent the Iraqi forces from disintegrating.
  • Baghdad Bob had a humorous time telling everyone there were no US troops in Baghdad, while reporters in Baghdad a few miles away reported just the opposite with US armored forces moving down roads.
  • As those US forces came into Baghdad, the entire government evaporated and fled.  Nothing on God's Green Earth could stop that.
  • The US, after mopping up organized attacks soon was getting hit by attacks that were from al Qaeda's Iraqi group, and large numbers of people were getting killed by that.

In a period of three weeks the US went from uncertainty of *if* we were going to go into Iraq to facing a land without leadership, without an army, without a police force, without a government, and with outside terrorists paying folks to attack US forces and those working with them.  From most reports I heard at the time the DoD had been prepared for: 

  1. Capitulation by Saddam after 'Shock & Awe', or,
  2. Three months of fighting and clean-up after soundly defeating Saddam's forces in the battlefield.

Instead the US got a victory that is only rivaled by the Nazi victory over France, and even *that* didn't go as fast as the operational phase of OIF.  In theory this was a 'dream come true' - a low casualty toppling of a regime that had fled.

In practice it would be the start of a nightmare as the US and Coalition forces had not put the administrative work in place to bring up a new Iraqi interim government, had not established decent relations with defeated forces, were unable to even *find* people at administrative jobs, although damned lucky that a technical cadre from the Saddam government continued showing up at work, and, in general, scrabbling around and saying 'now what do we do?'

A defeated Iraqi Army would have allowed for personnel processing, background checks and finding reliable, non-partisan individuals to reformulate a New Army.  Similarly a government that 'went down with Saddam' would have yielded similar good effects on the civil side for continuation of services.  Also police could be processed and vetted, with the worst offenders kept in camps until a new civil government was stood up.  That was the post-WWII template, but the US found that Iraq's culture is not that of Germany, Italy or Japan and no one had a real dedication to work when the strongman had been toppled.  Quite the contrary, without the RG to back things up, most of the government personnel that had been exploiting the population could expect to be on a personal 'hit list' by those looking to settle scores.

The US had 'won' but still wasn't victorious: and finding a way to move from winning to victory was something that had not been done in at least one generation and successfully, in such a situation like Iraq, since 1915 with the end of the Philippine-American war and COIN work.  Separated by over a century, the record of history hit a skip and the US forces in Iraq were now faced with a similar situation that 'Blackjack' Pershing faced in the Philippines... with about the same size of force involved, to boot!  With no viable government after the short US victory in 1901, the US forces in the Philippines scrambled to get something in place, train up a new Army and face down one of the most brutal and vicious opponents that would ever be faced: the Moros.  Even suicidal Japanese attacks by Kamikaze and Banzai charges in WWII would not equal the tenacity and pure, outright viciousness of the Moros, who would skin enemies alive and stuff their skins to hang by trails to demoralize their enemy.  In Iraq the enemy in the COIN phase would find the US and Coalition forces very, very hard targets to go after, so they would turn on the civilian Iraqi population, instead.

No matter what the post-war plan was that could be imagined by any US planner, including ones of near prescience by some of the staff in DoD, it would not survive the non-contact of a regime that evaporated like a thin film of water on a road under the hot desert sun.  The few remaining Ba'athists, al Qaeda and Sadrists would shift to insurgency against the US and Coalition, seeking chaos of their country.  The US armed forces after years of 'peace keeping' in the Balkans were not trained for COIN work, nor its basics, nor its implementation, nor in the doctrine of it.  US Special Forces were, but they were spread incredibly thin between Afghanistan and Iraq.  In trying to calm down the population of Iraq that was facing increased insurgent attacks, the US went into 'force protection mode' and to large bases and lost contact with the Iraqi people.  Some things could have been done differently, but without the hard training and doctrine to get the US forces up to speed on COIN and to re-adjust personnel so that those unsuited to that work (and there are many) were not put in places where they were ill-suited there was no way in Hell that any sort of COIN campaign could have been put together in 2003 or 2004.

Hard work to get a regular government stood up on the civil side took time after many mis-starts.  Those were due to bureaucratic foul-ups between DoD, CIA and State Dept. each thinking *they* had THE PLAN, while, in fact, they all held pieces of a plan that needed to work in coordination with each other.  That did not happen.  In many ways it STILL has not happened, although on the ground cooperation in the field is much, much better.  What could be won in towns and desert of Iraq was being lost in the rings of the Pentagon, the Puzzle Palace at NSA, the spook center at Langley and in the impenetrable atmosphere of Foggy Bottom.  The war of bullets, blood and a Nation was nearly lost on memos, bureaucratic in-fighting, turf wars, denials of responsibility and finger pointing.  The plan to start changing that, as seen from the outside, was starting... and it would let the one bright spot of Mosul descend into chaos again, while bringing a steel curtain down on the most violent and most dishonorable part of the insurgency in Anbar.

While Iraq descended into chaos the beginnings of something new was seen in 2005-06.  Getting a constitution drafted, elections staged (multi-party and open!) with purple fingers started to show that large parts of Iraq wanted *nothing* to do with the insurgents.  The quietest provinces were turned over to Iraqi control and an Army was being stood up.  Like any untested combat organization thrown into hard combat, it often broke and ran.  Similarly the police faced the same problem and were outgunned.  The darkest part before the dawn was seen and trumpeted globally as an American failure.  Yet a hard, long drive along the Euphrates to Tal Afar gave the first glimmerings of light and of a town liberated from vile insurgents who acted no better than Mafia thugs or plain old warlords.  Stretching combat out over wide areas brought new contact with the Iraqi people, who had now seen those that claimed to be supporting them, and yet brutalized them mercilessly.  While the First Battle of Fallujah would be a loss and disprove wisdom in re-instating the old Iraqi Army, the Second Battle of Fallujah would show the wisdom in creating a new Iraqi Army as many of those units stood to the bitter end and victory there.  The repercussions would bring a harsh onslaught by al Qaeda and nearly bring the house down in mid-2006.  Anbar would be written off as lost... just months after the tribes there had banded together to agree to reject the insurgents and wage war ON THEM.  And Gen. Petraeus would be giving new doctrine and training for COIN via US Army TRADOC, which incorporated all the 'lessons learned' and instituted a new regimen of training based on those lessons.

The story of 2007 to now is one of the hard, sudden shift of focus from combat to support of the Iraqi people to live normal lives.  Michael Yon reveals that Special Forces played a critical role in Anbar and they won us credibility and our troops showed honesty and compassion, and yet a fierce determination to rid Iraq of killers.  I read the war reports from MNF-Iraq and could see that bit-by-bit in 2006.  Ramadi turned and by JAN 2007 there was talks to reopen factories.  Bill Ardolino would travel to Fallujah and witness the standing up of police and basic, civil government and document the problems and successes that were being seen.  I called the US Armed Forces 'honest brokers' because our forces were HONEST and they sought a way to bring PEACE to Iraq.  Of all the photos by Michael Yon, the one of a US soldier cradling a dead Iraqi child broke my heart, and those of millions... that soldier was in mourning.  And the Iraqi people UNDERSTOOD THAT as they cherish their children with a depth that only a mother and father could understand.  We have mothers and fathers in the US Armed Forces and they understood.

I placed my trust not in political ideology, as that is the ephemeral wind under the desert sun: it blows up sand but doesn't offer cooling nor solace and actually makes thirst worse by drying you out.  The hopping and skipping dust devils of Left and Right were self-parching and useless in understanding Iraq.  The mirrors and prisms that both sides use to lose themselves in grand talk is never backed up by the hard understanding of our soldiers and our history as a Nation.  It is a history that stretches beyond 1968, beyond 1945, beyond 1915, beyond 1787, beyond 1776 and beyond 1648.  I grew absolutely disgusted with the child-like pewling of the Left, in which America is always wrong, never good, and weighed on a scale in which only those things that measure against us as a Nation and People matter.  Similarly the Right in trying to wish the worst of the war away ill-served the Union and made their own assertions incredible because they did not match up with what was happening on the ground.  Neither Right nor Left could be trusted.

The ideologies, or purported ones as the omnibus categories have lost all their meaning and coalesced, were no longer in contact with daily life and that was aided and abetted by the media.  If the politicians were morally blind and cowards to face up to their responsibilities for DECLARING WAR and not wanting to WIN IT, the MSM was, likewise, breaking with all journalistic tradition and with the Geneva Conventions to show the dead and wounded before their very families could be notified by the proper authorities.  In previous conflicts that got folks put in jail and, in the battlefield, executed as collusion with the enemy and being spies.  If you truly believe that the US has broken the GC for those not covered by it, then do, indeed, LOOK AT THE DAMNED THING and see what it says about the coverage of war and what is to be done.  The Left, in picking up the laws of war want them to be PARTISAN for their 'cause'.  The Right wants to ignore the history of non-Nation state warfare and what, exactly, civilized Nations do with such that fight Private War: they are no better than common criminals or pirates on the battlefield and deserve exactly what EVERY such barbarian has gotten in wartime.

Those ARE the laws of WAR.

If we wish to consider ourselves 'civilized' we had best adhere to them, even when we DON'T LIKE THEM.  That is what they are there for: to force us to act in ways we DON'T LIKE so that the greater good of all Nations is secured.  That is why it is called 'duty', no one ever said it was pleasant, fair or nice.  I have seen lots of lawyers deployed for asinine reasons in this conflict, but I have yet to see one deployed to beseech the government to DO ITS JOB and prosecute those breaking the laws of war on the CIVIL SIDE.  This is a breakdown on civil government by the Left and the Right to willfully misunderstand, misinterpret and misuse civil law to purely partisan ends against their own Nation.

I have had to come to trust bloggers, particularly the MilBlog community, to give it to me straight as a fellow citizen.  They have, often, not wanted limelight or recognition, just to get their simple and plain story out, unadorned of human tragedy and triumph and troubles.  Not in hour long, glitzy affairs adorned by retired generals who have a problem spelling COIN, but by present soldiers just doing their job and telling me it is worth doing for our Nation.  I now trust my fellow citizens doing the hard job that the Left and Right can no longer comprehend far better than any ideologue of any stripe.  Especially those pushing the same old nostrums for 40 years that haven't worked in the Middle East or much of anywhere else, come to that. 

The 'knowledge worker' at any of the Big Lefty Blogs can go to Hell, quite truthfully, and so can the wishy-washy Big Right Bloggers who can't seem to find the constitution because their moral blinders are stuck on an arcane passage of John, Luke or Paris Hilton.  These latter types of bloggers, trying to push some god damned asinine ideology off as 'analysis' end up in some fairy land where either the US is evil incarnate or near heaven on Earth.

I'll trust those individuals who give it to me straight up with a water chaser, thanks.

Save the Shirley Temples for yourselves, because not a single one of you that so adores the two parties of the One Party State of Incumbistan has a clue that it is YOU WHO GOT US INTO THIS MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I've got a laundry list of Right and Left nostrums that not only haven't worked, but have actually backfired on the Union.  When I hear those being pushed as 'proven true' when I can cite things that are contra-indicatory of that, I know I have found a religious fanatic.  Tell you what, if you think you have an 'ironclad' argument and I raise a contra-indicator, take it to heart that I don't take your gospel as ironclad, ok?  Because it has failed in Iraq.


Global Warming?  Snow in Baghdad.

Free trade brings liberty?  Hey, we should have done THAT with Saddam, no?

Government Health Insurance?  All Iraqi's were covered under Saddam... hmmm... what was that about plastic shredders, now?

Let's talk to tyrants!  Hey, that worked really great with Saddam, didn't it?  He gave up right quick with all that talk and followed through on his promises post-haste, didn't he?


If you can't see disconnects in those four previous and only see it in less than four, then you have a religion.

And YOU are part of the problem.

The reason I am making this a very and extremely pointed post is that, on a global basis, there are some very successful COIN campaigns that the US is supporting, and that are ALL now on winning tracks.  I don't want to see any of these put in danger as, due to the nature of Transnational Terrorism, we will be much worse off if one of them fails.  Here is the very short list of the ongoing generally successful ones:

  1. Iraq - Pushing hard on al Qaeda and Iran, and slowly de-legitimizing them not only in Iraq but having them lose face and favor more broadly.
  2. Afghanistan -  Against the Taliban and al Qaeda, the US and Afghan government are slowly getting a handle on the problem, but its source is now outside of what the US can easily do in Pakistan.
  3. Philippines - In a slow and unheralded hard push to isolate Abu Sayyaf from the native Moros, the Philippine government is slowly getting rid of the al Qaeda affiliate and ensuring that the Moros needs are met.  If you want to see a hell of a place to win a COIN victory, it is the Philippines.  We did that once and are now helping the locals to do it *again*.
  4. Colombia - FARC, for the first time in 40 years, is being seriously pressed and the Leftist radicals around the world are trying to band together to stop that.  FARC has managed to get contacts with the PLO, IRA, ETA, FMLN, OSPAAL, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, HAMAS, Shining Path, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, North Korea... its a damned long laundry list to support 21,000 or so fighters.  And yet, these successors to the Medellin Cartel are losing.
  5. Somalia - With the help of Ethiopia and some locals in Somalia, the Islamic Courts Union are now having to live in Yemen, KSA and Eritrea.  They are doing some recruiting and financing in Kenya.  It is close to an attrition war, at this point, but longevity of persistent surveillance is winning there.  Nothing will happen in Darfur until Somalia is cleaned up.
  6. Kosovo -  This is a real bitch as the local support for al Qaeda is either endemic or vanishingly small.  But the connections to the 14 Families in Albania point to something larger than the small end.  The Wahhabis have done a nasty job of trying to radicalize some areas of Kosovo and there are *still* al Qaeda raids going from Kosovo into Serbia.  While the general population may adore the US and Israel, the nasty parts have to be identified and ended, and right now that is a real hard toss-up.

Nice list to put in front of the next President, huh?  Now for the places that are not in such good shape and with little the US can do about them:

  1. Tri-Border Area of S. America -  Who doesn't operate from there?  Really, this is one of the last, great lawless areas on the planet ripe for terrorist training and smuggling.  None of the local governments have been able to do anything there, ever, so getting this patch of Rock 3 under some form of accountable law on all three sides will be well nigh impossible.
  2. Chechnya -  al Qaeda with the support of the Hekmatyar organization and the Red Mafia is *back*.  Also, apparently, with some support via Georgia and Iran still trying to set up shop in the place. Good luck, Russia.  You will need it.
  3. Pakistan -  Your guess is as good as mine what happens there.  It won't be easy, fun, and bloodless.  And have the Baluchs started up some sort of Unity concept with their ethnic brothers in Iran to form a break-away state yet?  No?  Why *do* we never hear of them?
  4. Kashmir -  If you want antsy places it is there, in India controlled Kashmir.  It is at a great cross-roads of smuggling paths and even China doesn't like the state the place is in.  Until Pakistan stops aiding and abetting the various organizations that operate there, it will continue to be on a slow boil.
  5. Lebanon -  Is this Civil War 3?  Can *anyone* finally intervene and just do the 'dirty job' and get rid of Hezbollah?  The US is kinda busy at the moment, so call back in a decade if you survive that long.
  6. Indonesia - Nice, laid back, haven for tourists, beach goers and, oh, the night club bomber or three.  Why do they keep letting radical Islamists go there?

Tasty bunch, no?  Got a foreign policy to cover them?  I know this President doesn't and none of those applying for the job next have a clue, either.  Now for the places no one wants to really think about that will need some attention by the next President:

  1. Albania - If the Kosovars love the US, then what in God's name are the local Mafia in Albania doing with al Qaeda, Hezbollah, HAMAS, and GIA?
  2. Mexico - The unheralded slow overthrow of the Cartels by locally well financed drug gangs is something that many are missing.  The external money is coming from one or more Red Mafia outfits.  There is, apparently, more than a little presence of al Qaeda and Hezbollah in the area, possibly with some Shining Path.  FARC is a definite presence.  Look at all that lovely oil and gas in Mexico!  Wouldn't it be so nice to have the Red Mafia control that?  Want the next place for a US COIN deployment?  It will be Northern Mexico.
  3. Ukraine -  I love the history of the area.  I am less enamored of the oligarchs making it a rich criminal's play region.  Russian meddling doesn't help.  And all the criminal elements can quickly bring in folks far nastier to 'get things done'.
  4. North Korea - They had to show up some time!  What happens if the Magic Kingdom of Mr. Kim suddenly goes bye-bye and all that lovely counterfeiting, nuclear, bio, and pharma technology evaporates and becomes unaccountable?  We may get a chance to find out!
  5. Iran - Yeah, they are making money hand over fist in the oil market.  They aren't making as much as one would expect since their management was and is atrocious.  They have to *import* gasoline AND natural gas.  That points to a nearly dead set of refineries and awful management of the oil and gas extraction systems.  When the refineries collapse, most of the rest of Iran will go right with it.  Also notice that Turkmenistan, possibly with the help of the Red Mafia, is playing hardball on natural gas as Iran has to import it from them.  Something will give and four years is starting to sound just about right.
  6. China - Hekmatyar can easily start up an Islamic revolt in western China.  A few bribes, a pay off or three and *poof* insta-jihad.  The industrial infrastructure is between 30%-60% resting on bad debt.  In comparison, the 'bubble economy' of Japan in the late 1980's was on 10% bad debt.  The 'Asian Tigers' before they got hard economic problems between 12-14% bad debt.  China at 30-60%?  Not good at all.  If they got a jihad *and* sudden industrial collapse, wouldn't that be fun?

You know, 'hope & change' just doesn't cut it with this laundry list.  Nor does the Cold War era foreign policies of the other two candidates.  Sorry, all the nostrums have gone way past their expiration dates.

If your candidate of choice can't even handle 1/3 of this list... ANY 1/3... then why should you vote for them?  Some of these are so close to home that botching them will make things in the US very, very bad with almost no effort at all.  And 'no effort' seems to be what that triumvirate are preaching.

Iraq, in comparison, is damned simple compared to these things.  Extremely simple: persevere, establish the rule of law, let our soldiers do the hard work of teaching what it takes to honorably protect society and sustain it without taking bribes.  Call it $80-100 billion a year.  Some of these others?  China I can see a global depression... makes Iraq look like peanuts.  Mexico?  Now thats a chilling thought, isn't it?  TBA suddenly rising up under one or more Islamist outfits?  Two or three governments in the hemisphere destabilized plus jihad exported across the region.  Albania going hard over would be a nasty surprise for Europe, I would think.  Pakistan just might take down Afghanistan, India, China and Iran... leaving the radicals and organized crime to pick up the pieces.

And yet getting Iraq *right* just might put a cap on *all* radical Islamic views by delegitimizing them in the Islamic world.  That could save us lots and lots of money, no?  And a lot of blood, too.

I have run out of choices that can even address three or four off of all of those lists.

To me that spells trouble.

Lots of trouble.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Republic and Change

The following is a white paper of The Jacksonian Party.

The United States, as I have looked at elsewhere, has a republican form of government.  That form of government does not rest its power in one individual but, instead, divides it up between different individuals or groups of same so as to allow different interests in a nation to have a say on the practice of governing.  Republics, generically, existed long before the United States and had varying forms going back even to before Roman and Greek times.  Councils either chosen, appointed or self-appointed by land holdings or other means, would come together to adjust their collective course for the good of society and allow competing interests to change their collective course.  This does not preclude monarchy from being a form of republic, as the monarch would have certain powers and need some form of more common assent to enact laws and enforce them.

Pure Athenian Democracy had direct rule of those casting the votes and that would then create the government by those chosen in the casting of potsherds.  In that doing a ruling council would be chosen to serve as a form of council to help draft the agenda of things needed to be done.  While a powerful position, the vote of the whole was the only thing to enact them, and such power was limited to two terms in office for each person.  This extended into the judicial system where a 'jury of your peers' meant at least 201 people for private suits of small size, 401 for larger suits and 501 and extra lots for things affecting the whole of the state, all the way up to the full 6,000 chosen to be available to serve on such juries.  While not a form of republican government we have come to know today, that basic shifting of administrative, judicial and legislative roles is one that has become long-lasting in republics since that time.

Far later would by a form of more democratic republicanism via representatives that may seem strange to us, but is still entirely recognizable as a formulation of this type of government.  That form was seen in the Doge of Venice, which was a life-time elected office by the inner council of families.  These were the powerful families in Venice that started out as a way to get some form of non-hereditary executive by that council choosing a number from its ranks who would then choose the Doge.  The Great Families (now *that's* Italian!) were seen as getting undue favor by this system so a much more complex system was put in place, and attempting to describe it leads to innumerable head-aches:

The Great Council of 40 would be chosen by lot to 30 and then that 30 would be reduced by lot to 9. 

That 9 chose 40 and that 40 was reduced by lot to 12. 

The 12 then chose 25 who were reduced by lot to 9.

The 9 then elected 45 who were reduced by lot to 11 and THEY chose the Doge!

If you throw in provisos where individuals not in previous choices/selections are not allowed in later ones, this actually does work!  While the 40 would be the main legislative part of the government, the Doge was expected to have no connections to any of the families and rule fairly, and then, upon death, a decision would be made on the fairness of that rule and the estate penalized or aggrandized due to the fairness of that rule.  Mind you, the Doge didn't get much in the way of powers in foreign policy and such, as the Families were involved in much trade, but that high level of separation goes beyond immediate friendship circles and starts to pull in more remote parts of the Great Families to actually have a hand in deciding the workings of Venice.

Stepping from Mediterranean history, a second form of republicanism shows up in the far Nordic lands of Scandinavia where local democracy would rule the day at the lowest levels, but a system of accountability would be held all the way to the monarch.  This was done under the concept of The Thing, which is an assembly meeting for an appointed time.  While descriptive of the clan-based system of lawgiving from the Germanies to Greenland, it starts at the lowest and most local level and then works its way upwards through principalities/counties to regions and then to the state level.  This cascading succession of assemblies would happen to ensure that problems between families, towns, counties, region and the state were addressed in a representative fashion.  While certainly knowing of the southern forms of institutions by medieval times, the oral history of such gatherings indicate that this simple form of governance dates back into pre-contact times.  Like the Doge of Venice set-up, this would be representative of landholders and the Thing would concern the property, or things, which needed to be addressed between landholders and also deal with problems arising between individuals.  Each Thing was sovereign for this via the Lawspeaker that would be the chosen individual to administer the law and ensure that each higher assembly respected that law and then pass down decisions that were in accord with higher levels to the lower.  In this way the people would hold the power over the King, and those monarchs recognized that their ability to rule rested upon that common assent.

While the US system teaches much from Athenian Democracy, it is the more down-to-earth local level democracy of the Thing that makes up the Common Law of England that was instituted, with some higher level functions that start to sound like the selection of the Doge of Venice when looking at the Presidential side.  From those two systems, as well as others seen from republics in Switzerland and Netherlands, the US system would seek to inculcate the best parts and understandings of republics and democracy, while safeguarding the rights of individuals from government.  While we who are the descendents of a constitutionally organized republic resting on representative democracy enjoy this system immensely, and we see the other, modern forms of democracy from the parliamentary system, it is perhaps quite natural that we think it is the only or best form or type of government.  And it is those other forms of republics that came in for review at the founding era, so that a thorough examination could be performed by all sides, and criticism levied against proposals.  This would not, of necessity, be a nice or fun debate but one that is enlightening to see where the wisdom of our system comes from.

Take, as an example, James Madison in Federalist No. 48 on 01 FEB 1788 and the comparison of Venice to that of elected democracy by Thomas Jefferson, which he boldfaces, my bolding elsewhere:

The first example is that of Virginia, a State which, as we have seen, has expressly declared in its constitution that the three great departments ought not to be intermixed. The authority in support of it is Mr. Jefferson, who, besides his other advantages for remarking the operation of the government, was himself the chief magistrate of it. In order to convey fully the ideas with which his experience had impressed him on this subject, it will be necessary to quote a passage of some length from his very interesting Notes on the State of Virginia, p. 195. "All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it turn their eyes on the republic of Venice. As little will it avail us that they are chosen by ourselves. An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others. For this reason that convention which passed the ordinance of government laid its foundation on this basis, that the legislative, executive and judiciary departments should be separate and distinct, so that no person should exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time. But no barrier was provided between these several powers. The judiciary and executive members were left dependent on the legislative for their subsistence in office, and some of them for their continuance in it. If, therefore, the legislature assumes executive and judiciary powers, no opposition is likely to be made; nor, if made, can be effectual; because in that case they may put their proceeding into the form of an act of Assembly, which will render them obligatory on the other branches. They have accordingly in many instances, decided rights which should have been left to judiciary controversy, and the direction of the executive, during the whole time of their session, is becoming habitual and familiar."

Mr. Jefferson, via that quote, is making the case for federalism as seen in his home State of Virginia.  Elective democracy is given precedence while Jefferson sees the process of the oligarchy choosing the Doge as 'elective despotism'.  As being Doge was a life-time affair, it would appear to be very despotic, and yet the powers of that executive were extremely limited in foreign affairs, to the point where the Council had to be present while opening diplomatic papers.  In choosing a Doge or Executive to run the laws of Venice equally (for the oligarchs) and ensure the tranquility of Venice the main leaders in the Council were three removed from the decision of choosing that individual.  And because of the need to get impartiality and the idea that one of these bodies could be 'packed'  towards a particular establishment, the random reduction and then separation of the intervening bodies soon exhausts familial boundaries due to age and trustworthiness.  Even with large families, the question of who would be old enough to actually know the laws and judge by them, and adhere to the needs of the Council and Venice, plus not having favoritism show up made the process reach outside of normal family bounds and into the wider contacts of linked lineages and then to weakly associated individuals once that group had to choose its successor group.  By limiting powers and reaching beyond the inner circle of wealthy families or even the secondary circle of their supporters, the process to get an impartial executive worked quite well for a small republic where other, more confrontational forms of democracy, would start to elevate the richest to the most powerful positions and, thereby, marginalize other commercial competitors.  That form of analysis, however, was not available at the time of the founding and there was a strong distrust of power concentration, which Madison cites later on with Pennsylvania as an example.

The 'flip-side' would be taken by Cato in "Cato" Essay on 12 DEC 1787 and his criticism of the process of the Philadelphia Convention and where it might lead to:

By the plan offered to us, both the legislative and executive, derive their appointments either directly from the people: how this can be called aristocracy exceeds the limits of my comprehension; it is true that we are told that the better sort of people will be appointed to govern; I pray God the prediction may not be a false one. But should that be the case, say these political empirics, we shall not have an equal representation. Why? Because every class of people will not be represented. God knows that fools and knaves have voice enough in government already; it is to be hoped these wise prophesiers of evil would not wish to give them a constitutional privilege to send members in proportion to their numbers. If they mean by classes the different professions in the state, their plan is totally new, and it is to be feared the system once adopted, there would be no end to their democratical purity; to take in every profession from the Clergy to the Chimneysweep, will besides composing a motley assemblage of heterogeneous particles, enlarge the representation so that it will become burthensome to the Community; had the representation in Massachusetts been no larger than that in the proposed government of the Union, Shays would never have had a follower:—I think my judgment will not be impeached when I say that if our representation in this state was less, we should be better represented, and the public saved a very great expense—to judge of the future by the past, it is easy to perceive, that small states are as subject to aristocratic oppressions, as large ones; witness the small territory of Venice, at present the purest aristocracy in the world: Geneva, the circumference of which may be traversed in an hour’s march is now oppressed by a dangerous aristocracy; while the democratic branch of the legislature in England retains its primitive purity. Who was it that enslaved the extensive empire of Rome, but an abandoned democracy? Who defended the republic at the battle of Pharsallia, but the better sort of the people? Caesar can be considered in no other light than a more fortunate Cattiline, and the latter in no other than that of an ambitious demagogue attempting to ruin the Commonwealth, at the head of licentious democracy. In the present crisis of our public affairs I confess with the frankness of a free man and the concern of a patriot, that I apprehend more danger from a licentious democracy, than from aristocratic oppression.

What Cato is looking at is the history of large republics versus small ones: no republic was larger than Rome before it fell and yet small republics, too, fall into the trap of forming an aristocratic elite via representational means.  Not elected means, of course, as these systems were oligarchical, in the case of Venice, or small canton based common government in Switzerland.  Here Cato calls out the difference between a large legislative body, like that in Massachusetts, and the problem it had establishing order, because it was representative *not* of the rural farmers but of the wealthy businesses in Boston.  Population density swayed the government to support those interests over that of the poor farmer, and the size of the legislature ensured that while other voices were heard, it would be the elite that ruled.  If it was *only* that elite that gained representation, the Nation would falter.  This is a 'contrarian' analysis of democracy: it must not only be encompassing across all professions, but also needs to be highly limited in size to be effective.  What Cato calls for is a balance between outright democracy, which would  atomize the young Nation into its counties, and a more common form of consensual government that holds the aristocratic tendencies of powerful elected elites at bay.  Trying to wedge Nation based powers into a county via democratic means is seen as an incredibly destructive force.

In one of his most vitriolic diatribes against the process of making the constitution, Luther Martin would, perhaps, be cited as one of the elite types that would worry Cato and Madison, as seen in his post script in Spurious Luther Martin: Address No. 5 on 10 APR 1788 (and let me say that the venom cast in that day and age goes quite far beyond what many of the most vitriolic of bloggers produces today):

P. S. It may seem a little singular, that my objections to this constitution are widely different from those of every other man who has written on the subject; and that, when others are contending for greater powers to be lodged with the people, I am for curtailing those already granted them, viz. the election of the president and house of representatives; and the ratification or rejection of the proposed constitution. The truth is, that I wish to be singular; therefore while some are stickling for that vile democracy which they so blindly admire, I should wish to see an aristocracy, similar to that of Venice, established in the United States. This would effectually exclude the base born rabble from a share in the government—stupid fellows who, as I already told you in my fourth number, are not an atom better than the nation of frogs, in the fable.

Nothing quite says 'elite' like Mr. Martin's view of the common man!  For all of the vitriol, bile, and charges of traitorous activity (even to Washington and Franklin) is something that cannot be wholly discounted:  a small elite government put at distance from how its own laws are administered is at peril from equal administration of those laws.  That oligarchical set-up, by necessity, could not easily favor any of the families involved, nor could any of their legislation attack any, single family as that would be resisted.  In the egalitarian views descending from the Enlightenment, that would not hold water for the young republic, but it is fascinating to see that the basis for a case was being presented, if in a way that would guarantee it garnered no attention and would be dismissed because of the surrounding material.

One of the most fascinating pieces, however, is seen in Fabius II on 15 APR 1788.  Consider the complicated system for the Doge, in Venice, and then consider this when looking at how a President will be chosen:

This president is to be chosen, not by the people at large, because it may not be possible, that all the freemen of the empire should always have the necessary information, for directing their choice of such an officer; nor by Congress, lest it should disturb the national councils; nor BY ANY ONE BODY WHATEVER, for fear of undue influence.

He is to be chosen in the following manner. Each state shall appoint, as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives, to which the state shall be entitled in Congress: but no senator or representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector. As these electors are to be appointed, as the legislature of each state may direct, of course they will be appointed by the people of the state, if such be the pleasure of the people. Thus, the fairest, freest opening is given, for each state to chuse such electors for this purpose, as shall be most signally qualified to fulfil the trust.

To guard against undue influence these electors, thus chosen, are to meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot; and still further to guard against it, Congress may determine the time of chusing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes—WHICH DAY SHALL BE THE SAME THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES. All the votes from the several states are to be transmitted to Congress, and therein counted. The president is to hold his office for four years.

When these electors meet in their respective states, utterly vain will be the unreasonable suggestions derived from partiality. The electors may throw away their votes, mark, with public disappointment, some person improperly favoured by them, or justly revering the duties of their office, dedicate their votes to the best interests of their country. This president will be no dictator two thirds of the representatives and the senate may pass any law, notwithstanding his dissent; and he is re-movable and punishable for misbehavior.

But the very same author just a bit further down seems to miss the point:

How varied, ballanced, concordant, and benign, is the system proposed to us? To secure the freedom, and promote the happiness of these and future states, by giving THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE a decisive influence over the whole, and over all the parts, with what a comprehensive arrangement does it embrace different modes of representation, from an election by a county to an election by an empire? What are the complicated ballot, and all the refined devices of Venice for maintaining her aristocracy, when compared with this plain dealing work for diffusing the blessings of equal liberty and common prosperity over myriads of the human race?

That extremely varied system of getting PARTIAL electors to make a GOOD DECISION for the Executive looks strangely equal to that of the Doge in Venice in its complexity and attempt to put distance between the those currently in power and those deciding who should be President.  When various authors point out that we do not have a system to rule by the majority of the people via direct election of a President, they are correct: that is an intentional design strength of the US Constitution.  For all the casting of aspersion by Fabius on Venice, the US put in-place a similarly indirect method to allow wholly partial individuals in temporary bodies to come to a decision on the Presidency.  And while the Electoral College limits placed on its Electors via the States,  if things go past the first ballot, as they did with election of Jefferson, these representatives are given the ability to look *elsewhere* to find someone suitable to the Nation.  The Presidential vote almost always goes to the most poplar in the election, but via the system of checks and balances, that is not only NOT the case, but one's vote is not directly for a President but to the Elector who will help choose a President.

Our current system of elections has an alternative: instead of choosing a President, the States can, instead, have individuals trusted by their communities run as Electors and those Electors can state which individuals they support for Presidency because it will NOT be them.  In our two party system this flexibility of the democratically elected representational system has been cast aside, to have nameless Electors beholden by State Law to vote as their constituencies have indicated via the ballot for President.  In an era in which we are steadily heading towards a decline in voter turnout due to a feeling of distancing from the system run by the two parties, the alternative at the Presidential side is built-in: choose someone who you trust to represent your views on HOW to choose a President to best guide the Nation and not FOR individual candidates.  And if, as I suspect, this will be the first year that sub-50% turnout in a Presidential election, then this form of flexibility should be re-examined to start getting the political parties out of nominating and putting forward candidates to run for the Office of Presidency as they are doing a damned poor job of it.  And for that ability to do something different, we can be very thankful to the good people of Venice for inventing a highly cumbersome form of choosing an executive as a possible alternative to popular election that still ends up with a half-way decent way of doing things.  And if that was not an intentional 'lifting' by the framers of the US Constitution, then we arrived to a similar end for similar circumstances: just how does a Nation get an Executive to look out for the common welfare when those selecting him are entirely partisan and partial to certain views?