Saturday, September 27, 2014

I’m Glad I’m Not the Only One



I have been struggling to make some sense of the latest events in Syria, Iraq, and IS.

I have noted both the trend and demeanor of Obama in toning down aggressive overseas action relative to both his predecessors and those against whom he ran for president in both 2008 and 2012.

I have suggested that Obama was installed precisely for this reason – to tone it down.  The Frankenstein’s monster created by the elite that is behind the US government went out of control when it was the last man standing, after the fall of the Soviet Union.  Instead of effectively shepherding the continuing trend toward global governance, the USG was making enemies of everyone.

So the elite decided, via Obama, that it was time to turn it down a notch.  I have seen indications of this in the writing of various members of the CFR and even Henry Kissinger.

This looked like just what was happening via Syria a year ago and Russia earlier this year.  Despite the aggressive actions taken by Obama / the USG in both events, imagine if it was Hillary, McCain, or Romney in the driver’s seat.  Nuclear war might already be behind us.

Hence my struggle with recent events.

The Daily Bell recently ran an editorial precisely on this subject.  As many of you know, I am indebted to this site for the analysis they have done precisely on this type of issue.  So I was hoping for some answers.  Instead:

But if we look at the muddle in Africa and the Middle East it soon becomes clear that such regional warfare is difficult to control and sustain with any kind of narrative clarity.

We have spent the past several years searching for a sensible and dominant social theme appropriately implemented; increasingly, we wonder if there is one.

I am not alone in this struggle.

My only conclusion, only somewhat satisfying, is that the desires of at least some important faction of the elite are continuing to butt up against the perpetual war-making machine of their creation. 

For this reason, it seems to me the success of Rand Paul will be an important marker.  If my views of Obama’s election are correct, then Rand Paul is the only mainstream candidate that at least often talks less belligerently than others.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Civilized Warfare



An oxymoron?  Bear with me….

Advance to Barbarism: The Development of Total Warfare from Sarajevo to Hiroshima,” by FJP Veale.

Veale describes the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a period, mostly, of civilized warfare in Europe or regions influenced by European culture. 

I will point out only once that the complete contrast to warfare as practiced today – and certainly since at least the Second World War – by the West when compared to this code; to make mention of this at each possible opportunity will only serve to double the length of this post.  I hope even the most casual observer of today’s realities can see how far those in the several militaries of various western governments have fallen.

So, what is meant by “civilized warfare”?

…this code was based on one simple principle, namely that warfare should be the concern only of the armed combatants engaged.  From this follows the corollary that non-combatants should be left entirely outside the scope of military operations.

…it necessarily followed that an enemy civilian did not forfeit his rights as a human being merely because the armed forces of his country were unable to defend him.

The sufferings of civilians must never be made a means by which the course of hostilities can be influenced – for example, when, in accordance with the common practice of barbarous warfare, a country is deliberately laid waste to induce its rulers to surrender.

…a combatant who surrenders ceases to be a combatant and reacquires the status of non-combatant….a combatant who has become incapacitated through wounds or disease ceases to be a combatant….

…a prisoner of war should be treated by his captors as a person under military discipline transferred by his capture from the command of his own countrymen to the command of his captors.

…the code was safeguarded by the knowledge that violation, even if profitable at the moment, would bring ultimate retribution and the weakening of the general security enjoyed by all.

Veale does not ignore the exceptions to this type of civilized warfare during this period; many of the violations were committed by the British – safe in the security that, due to their superiority at sea, repercussions on the homeland were unlikely.  Veale also notes that this code did not mean that towns were off-limits, only that a direct military objective was necessary for the action to be justified.

As a counter-example, Veale offers France, Austria and Russia against Prussia during the Seven Years War; they could easily have overrun Prussia if barbarous methods were employed:

All that was necessary to bring about Frederick’s speedy downfall was to pour across the open and exposed frontiers of Prussia small units of Hungarian hussars and Russian Cossacks with instructions to destroy everything which could be destroyed by means of a torch or a charge of gunpowder.  The Prussian army would have been helpless in the face of such tactics, designed to turn Prussia into a desert.

The term Veale uses to describe this aspect of the culture is chivalry:

“Chivalry had two outstanding marks,” says Professor R.B. Mowat, “two that were as its essence: it was Christian and it was military.”

I can see the steam coming out of Laurence Vance’s ears even now.  But trust me, it will all come together into something meaningful.

Chivalry, as it ultimately developed, became a collective term embracing a code of conduct, manners, and etiquette, a system of ethics and a distinctive “Weltanschauung” (philosophy of life) as the Germans call it.  For our purpose, its principal importance is that, when the code of chivalry was adopted as the code of the military caste in all the European states, it provided a common bond between them.

The soldiers fought as (relatively speaking) gentlemen, as opposed to the experience in war proceeding this chivalrous age:

Sadism could no longer masquerade as moral indignation….

I like that line….

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why the Wars?



I am reading “Advance to Barbarism,” by FJP Veale.  I will, as has come to be my practice, offer more than one post based on this book.

I will begin with a topic upon which Veale spends only a few words, but one which sheds light on perhaps the main purpose of war – at least war in the era of life in a time of something more than primitive living.

The various wars are often explained by the critics as wars for resources – usually oil, but also natural gas, transit pipelines, etc.  I have come to believe (and first came across this notion at The Daily Bell) that wars are for control – control of the people: the ultimate productive and renewable resource on the planet.

I came across some comments within Veale’s book that can be interpreted as supportive of this view:

To a hunting community, a prisoner of war is merely an extra mouth to feed…. Generally, prisoners taken in battle would be disposed of summarily with a stone club.

They fought over game – the meaningful “natural resource” of the time.

But as soon as a state of civilization had been reached in which there were fields to be tilled, walls, temples, palaces and tombs to be built, and mines to be worked, a prisoner of war ceased to be merely an extra mouth to feed, and came to possess a definite economic value as a slave.

They fought to capture labor – the most meaningful “natural resource” in even the most rudimentary division-of-labor economy.  For much of history, the “labor” captured was slave labor.  But it need not be so – it isn’t so today, at least not literally.

I do not intend to trivialize actual slavery by comparing it to what we have today; at the same time, it is worth noting the yoke under which we struggle.  To mention only a few points: fiat money, taxation, regulation, prohibitions of all sorts.  To note the effectiveness of the current system, it is sufficient to point out that the slaves at least knew they were under the whip of the master; today’s masters have developed a system of control so invisible that many cannot see it.  With the franchise to vote and otherwise petition the state – “we the people” – we are conditioned to believe that we are the ones in control.  Most believe they are free.

War expands the franchise – bringing more people under one or more of the many globalizing institutions: central bank controlled money and credit, international finance, centrally managed trade; opportunities for manipulation by the World Bank, IMF, WTO, and the UN.  Investment opportunities are opened for the crony capitalists. 

When you have developed a system that allows you to skim a few points off of every transaction, why care about oil?  Bringing more people under the yoke of that system allows you to skim a few points off of a few more people.

This is the reason for the wars – to capture the labor, to make the labor work for the elite.  It used to be done via slaves.  Today?  Look in the mirror.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Obama Tackles Terrorism


Obama gave another speech on a new, more violent outbreak of terrorism.  He began by thanking those on the front lines:

…they’ve got hundreds of professionals who are working tirelessly on this issue.

…I’ll be meeting with some of these men and women, including some who recently returned from the front lines of the outbreak.  And they represent public service at its very best.  And so I just want them to know how much the American people appreciate them.

Serving the country; the few, the proud; a global force for good.  You know the story.

Many of them are serving far away from home, away from their families.  They are doing heroic work and serving in some unbelievably challenging conditions — working through exhaustion, day and night, and many have volunteered to go back.  So we are very, very proud of them.

Multiple tours of duty; living in danger; their families also sacrificing. 

Their work and our efforts across the government is an example of what happens when America leads in confronting some major global challenges. 

Leader of the free world.

Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States, and it’s a responsibility that we embrace. 

It is a terrorism threat like no other, but the United States government will not run from the challenge.

We’re prepared to take leadership on this to provide the kinds of capabilities that only America has, and to mobilize the world in ways that only America can do.

America, the exceptional and indispensable nation.

The problem is extraordinary; Obama is taking strong action:

…two months ago, I directed my team to make this a national security priority.  We’re working this across our entire government, which is why today I’m joined by leaders throughout my administration, including from my national security team.

Fighting this terrorist threat will require a mobilized military:

It’s going to be commanded by Major General Darryl Williams…

But this won’t be another example of the US going it alone; Obama is calling in international support:

More nations need to contribute experienced personnel, supplies, and funding that’s needed, and they need to deliver on what they pledge quickly.

This week, the United States will chair an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.  Next week, I’ll join U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to continue mobilizing the international community around this effort.

This is actually something that we had announced several months ago at the G7 meeting.  We determined that this has to be a top priority…

This military mobilization has the thanks of the military leader:

So thank you very much to the entire team that’s already doing this work.  And please know that you’ve got your President and Commander-in-Chief behind you.  Thank you.

What is this new terrorist threat?  Ebola.  A germ.

Now…I have no idea what the truth is regarding this virus or the backstory or the risks.

I only hope that this announcement is, in fact, a backhanded way of saying that the United States government has decided that its more recent methods of expanding world government have been failures: the global war on terror has been a disaster on every level, and the global war on Russia threatens to become a disaster in a most permanent level.

In other words, if fighting a germ instead of killing countless millions of innocents is what the elite have decided is the best way to try and expand their global reach, I am all for it. 

Beating swords into needles.  For some reason, sadly, I don’t think it will be this simple.   Instead, it is a more likely a convenient (fortunate?) way to invade Africa without generating global resistance.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

CATO’s “Responsible” Counterterrorism Policy



CATO has published a “Policy Analysis” entitled “Responsible Counterterrorism Policy.”

I will not go through a line-by-line review or critique.  I only offer the following:

·        There is not one reference of “blowback.”
·        The only references to “bomb,” “bombs,” or “bombing” are regarding actions or alleged actions by “terrorists.”
·        The mentions of “Iraq” are limited to terror-related deaths in that country during the period 2003 – 2008, reference to the US war in that country, payments to the families of soldiers that died while prosecuting that war, the financial cost of prosecuting that war, and a book reference.
·        The mentions of “Afghanistan” are limited to a reference to the US war in that country, and to a book reference.
·        Not one reference to “Saudi Arabia.”
·        The only reference to “Israel” is the deaths in that country due to the Intifada.
·        No reference to “Palestine” or “Palestinians.”
·        The only mention of “Libya” is a book reference.

It is difficult to consider as “responsible” a “counterterrorism policy” that ignores the actions of the United States government and the actions of oppressive governments in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

It is difficult to consider as “responsible” a “counterterrorism policy” that ignores the oppression suffered by people in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Libya.

It is difficult to consider as “responsible” a “counterterrorism policy” that ignores the concept of “blowback.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Decline of the State



In his book “The Rise and Decline of the State,” Martin van Creveld describes the decline of the state as beginning in 1975. 

While reading the chapter “The Decline of the State: 1975 –” I struggled with grasping his message.  The picture he paints of the decline is complex – sometimes confusing.  Perhaps it was so due to the general views I hold about where we are headed clouding my ability to read his views with an open mind.  Perhaps it was confusing because, inherently, the decline (and transition) will be confusing for those who live through it, as we are (and will be for decades or longer); it need not be said that – even living through it – a description of even the present, let alone the future, is not very simple.

After reading his conclusion, I decided it makes sense to begin here – with the conclusion in mind perhaps it will aid me in interpreting his message in the chapter that precedes it.

Conclusion

As presented in this study, government and state are emphatically not the same.  The former is a person or group which makes peace, wages war, enacts laws, exercises justice, raises revenue, determines the currency, and looks after internal security on behalf of society as a whole…. The latter is merely one of the forms which, historically speaking, the organization of government has assumed, and which, accordingly, need not be considered eternal and self-evident any more than the previous ones.

The unique characteristic of the state is that it has its own life (a body) – a life independent of any ruler.  It is a corporation, an entity separate from those who manage it at any given moment.

Corporation: an association of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.

Word origin and history: noun of action from past participle stem of Latin corporare "to embody" (see corporate).

Before the state, there was always hope that the government – the person – might be survived by those being governed.  The new boss might actually be different than the old boss.  So, while van Creveld describes the decline of the state, this does not necessarily imply a decline in government.

Van Creveld describes as the most important characteristics of the state as compared to previous forms of government:

First, being sovereign, it refuses to share any of the above functions with others but concentrates all of them in its own hands.  Secondly, being territorial, it exercises such powers over all the people who live within its borders and over them only.  Thirdly, and most important, it is an abstract organization.

It is these characteristics that are threatened; it then seems possible to conclude that future governance-providing entities a) will share power, b) may not be exclusively territorial, and c) may not be limited to abstract organizations.

Van Creveld sees the main threat to this corporate government – this state – as coming from other corporations, thereby supporting a) and b) above, but opposing c). 

…from such “artificial men” as share its own nature but differ from it both in respect to their control over territory and in regard to the exercise of sovereignty.

From this, I can find something that fits within my comfort zone – governance via private entities (corporations) such as insurance companies and homeowners associations; perhaps a role such as the church played during the European Middle Ages.  So far, so good.

A few of the corporations in question are of a territorial nature, but the majority are not.  Some are regional and larger than states, others smaller and merely local.

Again, I can interpret this to fit within my anticipation / hopes for the future.  I can also interpret it to mean increasing forms of world governance – where today’s states cede some portion of sovereignty to another entity, e.g. as has been happening in Europe with the EU, or in the United States (as regarding authorization for war) with the UN.

The issue is…this is the battle through which we are living – forces of centralization fighting forces of decentralization.  I know which side I believe will win, on balance; I hope I can maintain an open mind while considering van Creveld’s views. 

In many instances the retreat of the state is voluntary.

As mentioned, we see this in the various moves toward global government, although “voluntary” can certainly include both financial payoffs to state leaders and concerns by those same leaders about being blackmailed.

The obverse side of this coin is the feeling, which is prevalent among the citizens of many developed countries, that when the time for delivery comes the state just does not keep its promises, that it pays, if at all, in false coin.

It is this that I believe is inevitable – too many and increasing numbers of dependent (meaning politically-derived-income-skimmers) living on the backs of fewer and fewer independent (meaning market-derived-income-producers).  Eventually the shell games of the politicians and central bankers will run into this reality – how many can be supported by how few?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire



I will review Obama’s address regarding his strategy to eradicate ISIS/ISIL/IS…

I will usually label various statements in one of three ways: lies of commission, lies of omission, and very elastic statements of truth.  I will sometimes add further comments. 

Let’s begin:

My fellow Americans…

Already?  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

As Commander-in-Chief…

Quite elastic; he is commander-in-chief only when the military is called into service.  As this is now a permanent condition, I guess I have to give him this one.

…my highest priority is the security of the American people.

Commission – his highest priority should be to uphold the constitution.

Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country.

Commission – the US government has taken the fight against hundreds of thousands if not millions that never threatened the United States; omission – we still don’t know the truth about 9/11.

We took out Osama bin Laden…

At best, elastic.

…Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year.

If the end of the combat mission in Iraq is anything to go by, we’ll call this commission.

…we continue to face a terrorist threat.

A perpetual truth, so a perpetual lie.

…the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain.

Omission, omission, and omission.  What is the backstory of these radical groups?  Did they spring up like desert wildflowers after a rainstorm (or was it a firestorm?).

No religion condones the killing of innocents…

Commission – what of the worship of the state?

In a region that has known so much bloodshed…

Omission – bloodshed at whose hands?