Archive for the 'America' Category



Is Red State America Seceding?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

Pat Buchanan:

… separatist and secessionist movements are cropping up here in the United States.

While many red state Americans are moving away from blue state America, seeking kindred souls among whom to live, those who love where they live but not those who rule them are seeking to secede.

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The issues driving secession in Maryland are gun control, high taxes, energy policy, homosexual marriage and immigration.

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The Montpelier Manifesto of the Second Vermont Republic concludes:

“Citizens, lend your names to this manifesto and join in the honorable task of rejecting the immoral, corrupt, decaying, dying, failing American Empire and seeking its rapid and peaceful dissolution before it takes us all down with it.”

This sort of intemperate language may be found in Thomas Jefferson’s indictment of George III. If America does not get its fiscal house in order, and another Great Recession hits or our elites dragoon us into another imperial war, we will likely hear more of such talk.

It is of course what I’ve recommended.  One can hope and pray … and other things.

Attacks On Arkansas Electrical Grid

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

Forbes, via Matt Bracken.

More than 10,000 people in Arkansas were dumped into a blackout Sunday following an attack on that state’s electric grid, the FBI said today, the third such attack in recent weeks. In August, a major transmission line in the region, around Cabot, Ark., was deliberately cut.

The FBI said that two power poles had been intentionally cut in Lonoke County on Sunday, resulting in the outage.

“Though we remain confident that we will identify the person or persons responsible for these incidents,” the FBI said in a press release, “we are enlisting the public’s help to be our eyes and ears. We take threats to our power grid very seriously.”

The FBI said it would pay a $25,000 reward for information about the attacks.

And for good reason. The FBI suspects these attacks are linked with a third incident in September.

According to the FBI:

In the early morning hours of September 29, 2013, officials with Entergy Arkansas reported a fire at its Keo substation located on Arkansas Highway 165 between Scott and England in Lonoke County. Fortunately, there were no injuries and no reported power outages. Investigation has determined that the fire, which consumed the control house at the substation, was intentionally set. The person or persons responsible for this incident inscribed a message on a metal control panel outside the substation which reads, ‘YOU SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED U.S.’

In August, a person or group of people attached a cable to the framework of a 100-foot electric transmission tower and placed the cable across the railroad track in an apparent attempt to use a moving train to pull down the tower.

While the electric power industry has expressed concerns about cybersecurity, the recent spate of attacks in Arkansas suggests that the electric power grid is equally if not more vulnerable to physical acts of sabotage.

Folks, I don’t want to belabor the point because we’ve discussed this in painful detail before.  But do you understand the vulnerability of everything around you – the fake Keynesian money scheme layered on top of a massive entitlement state, the markets, the mobility, television, cell phones and connectivity, and the electrical grid?  Do you understand that it could all disappear tomorrow and not return for a very long time?

Prior:

Survival Preparations: The Electrical Grid Is Still Vulnerable

Electrical Grid Attack

Surviving The Apocalypse: Thinking Strategically Rather Than Tactically

A Terrorist Attack That America Cannot Absorb

Border War

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

We have previously discussed the adoption of military style tactics, techniques and procedures by the Mexican cartels, the increasing corruption of the U.S. border patrol, and the recruitment of large numbers of High Schoolers by the cartels.  After observing that the use of the National Guard is problematic for a number of reasons (including the lack of training, the lack of appropriate rules for the use of force, etc.), I recommended that:

… we view what is going on as a war against warlords and insurgents who will destabilize the state both South and even North of the border.  I have further recommended that the RUF be amended and the U.S. Marines be used to set up outposts and observation posts along the border in distributed operations, even making incursions into Mexican territory if necessary while chasing insurgents (Mexican police have used U.S. soil in pursuit of the insurgents).

While militarization of border security may be an unpalatable option for America, it is the only option that will work.  All other choices make the situation worse because it is allowed to expand and grow.  Every other option is mere window dressing.

We now know that gang members are being recruited by the cartels to do street-level jobs, and the loss of border security has wreaked ecological disaster.

“I have learned to live with trash,” said fifth-generation Arizona rancher Jim Chilton.

He saw his once-beautiful ranch, just a few miles from the border with Mexico, is now dotted with clusters of crushed trees and cactus, whole hillsides have been turned into charred eyesores, years worth of his award-winning conservation projects obliterated — and the whole thing is littered with trash, tons and tons of trash. And some of the trash was dead bodies.

Chilton had the misfortune of settling in the path of what would become a dangerous drug- and human-smuggling route on the U.S.-Mexican border, parallel with the notorious Peck Canyon Corridor.

“I’ve got 30,000 to 40,000 illegal aliens coming right through the ranch every year, and the Forest Service says each one leaves about eight pounds of trash. That means 100 tons of trash. Some cows eat the plastic bags and about 10 head a year die a slow and painful death. At $1,200 a head, that means we lose $12,000 a year to trash.”

Chilton saw southern Arizona not as the headline-grabbing political flashpoint of the Justice Department’s failed “Fast and Furious” guns-to-smugglers tracking project, but as the land-grabbing opportunism of Obama’s resource management agencies and, sadly, the failure of the U.S. Border Patrol to secure that bloody line separating the United States from Mexico.

The land-grabbing chapter of the trash story has gone largely unnoticed, but surfaced last year when the Bureau of Land Management proposed to shut down target shooting on 490,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert National Monument — and in large swaths of other public lands as well.

The reason? Monument manager Richard Hanson claimed shooters were leaving trash at the shooting sites, an outrageously trumped up excuse, but Hanson’s claim couldn’t be refuted at the time.

The BLM had closed 400,000 acres of publicly owned, national monument lands across three states to recreational shooting activities in 2010, labeling recreational shooting as a resource-harming activity and a public safety threat.

That was a clear signal showing that the SDNM move was just another step in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s obnoxious “lock-it-up-and-kick-’em-out” plans that have drawn the ire of Congress.

If it seems that the administration is taking an un-serious view of border security (intentionally conflating the trash left by illegals with shooters), then this report shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Federal agents trying to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border say they’re hampered by laws that keep them from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land because it falls under U.S. environmental protection, leaving it to wildlife — and illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed.

A growing number of lawmakers are saying such restrictions have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals. In recent weeks, three congressional panels, including two in the GOP-controlled House and one in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have moved to give the Border Patrol unfettered access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the border with Mexico.

While the cartels develop intricate intelligence networks and adopt military style tactics, the U.S. prohibits access to lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management due to EPA regulations, and blames trash at the border on shooters.  It’s no wonder that insurgents have gone hunting at the border – not hunting for animal game, but human game.

Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

Commenter Scott Wilson recommends the following:

They should take the 7th Army (and the Ghost of Patton), and all its subordinate units, and move it lock, stock & barrel to Del Rio, TX. They can then patrol the banks of the Rio Grande with Bradley’s, Apaches & Cobras. Then, let’s see how much success these border insurgents, armed with the semi-auto AKs have against that.

Germany has the strongest economy in Europe. It can afford to defend itself from Russian aggression. If it can’t, then we have PLENTY of military contractors that can sell them the weapons that they need. Europe needs to stand on its own. Our resources need to be protecting our borders, not Germany’s.

This sentiment is certainly in line with my own, but unfortunately, roving the border with Bradley Fighting Vehicles won’t work.  This requires combat outposts and Marines (or Soldiers) on foot patrol.  Infantry – not mechanized infantry – is the order of the day.

But it will require more than that.  As long as we continue to treat the border as a law enforcement endeavor, with agents subject to rules such as those outlined in the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner, with criminals imprisoned or sent back to Mexico to try it all again, we will continue to lose the war at the border.  Imprisonment of drug traffickers and illegals won’t work any more than prisons work in counterinsurgency.  Prisons are a costly ruse.

Make no mistake about it.  This isn’t a war against drugs, or a war against the drug cartels, or a war against illegal immigration, or even a war against human trafficking or Hezbollah fighters entering the U.S. at the Southern border.  This is a war for national sovereignty – a border war.

Law enforcement cannot do the job when people are afraid to call them for fear of retribution and are being told to wear body armor to work out in their own fields.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A border war.  Only when we militarize the border with combat outposts and shoot all trespassers will we even begin to wage the war on the enemy’s terms.  In spite of claims that the Posse Comitatus Act applies, this war is against non-U.S. citizens, and it is a fight for the survival of what defines America.  Presidents in both parties have seen America as an idea rather than a location with secure borders.

If America is an idea and the Southern border is to be just an imaginary line, then we have already lost.  If America deserves defending, then we must do what is both uncomfortable and necessary to effect its security.

Prior on Border War: Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Prior Featured: Analysis of Brief For The U.S. In Opposition to Sean Masciandaro

NYT Attempts to Plug Huge, New Oil Find in Texas (and other disinformation campaigns)

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 5 months ago

To amend the proverb slightly, what the The New York Times giveth, The New York Times taketh away.

In this weekend story online, we see once again the duplicitous nature of the State Run Media:

CATARINA, Tex. — Until last year, the 17-mile stretch of road between this forsaken South Texas village and the county seat of Carrizo Springs was a patchwork of derelict gasoline stations and rusting warehouses.

Now the region is in the hottest new oil play in the country, with giant oil terminals and sprawling RV parks replacing fields of mesquite. More than a dozen companies plan to drill up to 3,000 wells around here in the next 12 months.

The Texas field, known as the Eagle Ford, is just one of about 20 new onshore oil fields that advocates say could collectively increase the nation’s oil output by 25 percent within a decade — without the dangers of drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the delicate coastal areas off Alaska.

There is only one catch: the oil from the Eagle Ford and similar fields of tightly packed rock can be extracted only by using hydraulic fracturing, a method that uses a high-pressure mix of water, sand and hazardous chemicals to blast through the rocks to release the oil inside.

The technique, also called fracking, has been widely used in the last decade to unlock vast new fields of natural gas, but drillers only recently figured out how to release large quantities of oil, which flows less easily through rock than gas. As evidence mounts that fracking poses risks to water supplies, the federal government and regulators in various states are considering tighter regulations on it.

This article uses the well-worn rhetorical technique that grudgingly acknowledges a seemingly good bit of news that runs counter to the Left’s narrative while seeking to undermine it entirely.   In this case, the NYT announces the incredible news of oil field discoveries within the continental U.S. that have the potential to exceed the daily output of entire, major oil producers but, alas, must point out that these gains may never be realized because (sigh) the process for extracting the oil “poses risks to water supplies.”   It is the poison pill.    Concede that which can no longer be concealed but include just enough disinformation or obfuscating facts as to render the entire portion unpalatable.   And so the NYT inserts the specious claim that “evidence mounts that fracking poses risks to water supplies…”  This is pure nonsense by the NYT.

A recent article by the Institute for Energy Research contains a good explanation of the process of fracking (or “hydraulic fracturing”) and points out that there the controversy over fracking is largely misleading if not fabricated.   My intention here, however, is not to explore the merits of the process itself and settle one way or another whether fracking is ultimately safe.   The aim here is to point out the dishonest approach that the Left uses in attempts to negate developments that threaten their narrative.

Powerline recently noted how The NYT was caught distorting the record on fracking.  Notice how the NYT article uses insinuation to mislead here as well.   Having been caught in their prior article claiming that there were “numerous documented cases” of water contamination caused by fracking, the NYT in this story resorts to the claim that “evidence mounts” with regard to the evils of fracking without stating any, actual instances where it has been documented or revealing that, in their own correction, the NYT stated that there are “few documented cases.”   The IER article goes further and states that there are no documented cases.

The Left’s narrative for America includes the notion that domestic energy supplies are non-existent.   If confronted on this fable, the Left claims that our resources are quickly shrinking and any newly discovered resources are too difficult, hazardous, expensive, or environmentally catastrophic to extract.   In essence, the Left’s narrative is for Americans to get used to expensive and scarce energy supplies that will necessarily mean a dramatic restructuring of society (loss of individual freedoms) that can only be accomplished by a domineering, central government.

When Obama says that we cannot “drill our way out of” high gasoline prices, he is engaging in this subterfuge.   When the lease of new oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico remains at a standstill for over a year with no, legitimate explanation, it is due in large part to the commitment of the Left in stopping all hydrocarbon use which forms a central tenet in their environmental religion.

Considering the diametrically opposed views of the Left and Right in this country, it may not be too much of an exaggeration to say that we are in the midst of a Cold Civil War in which each election cycle offers another critical battle.  It is becoming increasingly clear that there is very little room for compromise with the Left.   Their vision for the U.S. is so foreign, so un-American (a phrase itself that used to have a clear meaning but has now been rendered ambiguous by the Left) that there can only be one side or the other that will survive.

Powerline Blog Calls It Quits On Afghanistan

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 6 months ago

Normally I enjoy reading the posts by John Hinderaker at Powerline, but his recent post is an exception.  With a strange bit of melancholy or resignation, John argues that it is time to pack up and quit Afghanistan.   I will detail this in a bit, but suffice it to say that I found most of his arguments shallow and unpersuasive.

Even so, I would not bother making John’s post the subject of my own, but for two things that alarm:  (1) Powerline has one of the highest levels of readership in the blogosphere, so its opinions reach a lot of people, aggravating the damage;  (2) this recent post seems to be indicative of a growing opinion among conservatives (as shown by the large, positive response it has received so far).

So here goes.

Here are the reasons supplied by John Hinderaker for calling it quits.   After stating that he supports the initial attack to chase Al Qaeda out of its bases in Afghanistan, he sees the ensuing efforts differently:

Since then, for going on nine years, we have pursued a somewhat half-hearted peacekeeping/democracy policy in Afghanistan. The Bush administration was right, I think, not to devote excessive resources to Afghanistan, which is virtually without strategic significance compared with countries like Iran, Iraq and Egypt. Moreover, the country’s human natural and human raw material could hardly be less promising.

Afghans are not just living in an earlier century; they are living in an earlier millenium. Their poverty, cultural backwardness and geographic isolation–roads verge on the nonexistent–are hard for us to fathom. They are a tribal society run by pederasts whose main industry is growing poppies. If our security hinges on turning this place into a reasonably modern, functioning country, we are in deep trouble. But I don’t think it does; and, in any event, I don’t think we can do it.

In large part, our effort in Afghanistan has been devoted to protecting normal Afghans against extremists like the Taliban. But, as the current rioting in Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and elsewhere reminds us, there there may not be a lot of daylight between the Taliban and more moderate Afghan factions.

For Hinderaker, Afghanistan and its people are pretty worthless, to put it bluntly.  No “strategic significance compared with…Iran, Iraq and Egypt.”  The country is devoid of raw materials or human potential.  In his view, it is such a backward, black hole of inhumanity that any change is hopeless.   Even Obama, presumably, wouldn’t try to sell his snake oil there.  The rioting there over the Koran burning is proof of sorts, he says, that the country is hopeless.

I hate to say it, but this is just lazy, generalized thinking.

It is very tempting thinking, however.   There is certainly alot of things about Afghanistan that repulse our cultural sensitivities and it is indeed easy to see the depths to which the country has sank and believe it has always been this way, but this is not a reason for leaving, in and of itself.   It is just letting our prejudice show.  It is hard to remember as far back as the 1960′s, but Afghanistan had a functioning monarchy with a tolerable standard of living in Kabul and prospects for reform and political rights up until the communist takeover in 1978.   What Afghanistan has become, after 30 years of war, brutal totalitarian rule and the importation of strict, Islamic codes, is not what is has always been nor its eternal fate.

As for the claim that Afghanistan has no strategic value, that is at least a debatable point.  If we had a coherent and consistent foreign policy that looked at the broader interest of the U.S. in the region, Afghanistan has significance.   If, for example, we had a foreign policy that recognized the dire threat that the Iranian regime poses to the entire Middle East (and beyond), the ability to stage forces on both sides of Iran— in Iraq and Afghanistan– would enable the U.S. to effectively aid insurgents and opposition groups in Iran.

Having a presence in Afghanistan also gives the U.S. a key leverage point and access to Pakistan.  Like it or not, nuclear Pakistan is a major threat to the U.S. so long as it teeters on the edge of political instability and the possibility of the Islamofascists getting their nukes.   The U.S. has a natural affinity with India that could be cultivated into a strategic partnership in the region as a counterbalance to China and the growing Islamofascist threat in Pakistan.   Afghanistan is valuable to that partnership as well and we could be doing much more to involve India.

Hinderaker believes Afghanistan is worthless, a view not shared, however, by Alexander the Great, the Mongols, the Muslims, the  Tsarist Russians, the British Empire and the Soviet Union.

I think that the heart of the problem for Hinderaker and other conservatives when it comes to Afghanistan is the notion of “turning this place into a reasonably modern, functioning country…”   In many circles, you can add in “democracy” to that list.   This has been the great mistake of our involvement in Afghanistan.

Our first and primary goal in Afghanistan should always have been to establish security, period.   Without security first, every, other goal is like piling up sand on the beach.   Security against the Taliban and Al Qaeda is a limited, achievable goal.   It is measurable victory.  And, once established, it creates the necessary space and stability for the kind of investments and social reforms that, over the long term, can make a real difference in the development of the country.  The problem for the U.S. has been that we have been way too ambitious, trying to establish security and establish a democratic government and re-build their infrastructure and make it into a “modern, functioning” country.

This is analogous to a man, near starvation, who is rescued and then force-fed a king’s banquet: it will kill him.   His shriveled stomach is not ready for that.   After such deprivation, he needs a little bit at a time, slowly and carefully. Afghanistan is the same way.   After over twenty years of ruin and oppression, we cannot descend upon the country and begin force-feeding it with hundreds of billions of dollars in aid for every conceivable project, no matter how well-intentioned.   We have almost literally been killing Afghanistan with kindness.   Funny how they don’t appreciate it.

The mistake that Hinderaker makes is looking at the process and concluding that the entire enterprise is worthless or hopeless.  They seem to have gotten discouraged because all of our ‘force-feeding’ has not brought a miracle cure.   Their answer, to throw the hapless man back in the desert to starve again, is absurd.  Rather, they should see our actions to this point in Afghanistan as the excessive blunder it has been.

If the U.S. had been single-mindedly pursuing security and the elimination of the Taliban since 2001, we might well have drawn down our troop levels there to some border outposts to interdict insurgents from Pakistan while leaving the interior to ANA forces that would have had almost a decade of solid training by now.   Even if you view the ANA as a hopeless project, at the very least we would have had time to establish local militias that would keep the peace in their locale and govern themselves.   We would not have diverted billions of dollars to a corrupt, central figurehead like Karzai.  All of these things feed the disenchantment that Hinderaker and others feel.

But just because mistakes have been made– even terrible mistakes– should not give way to careless analysis and spotty observations.   It should, instead, be a call for better policy.

When Hinderaker turns to the consequences of quitting Afghanistan his view is rather limited:

Is there a danger that if we leave, the Taliban will re-take control and, perhaps, invite al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to join them? Yes. However, it it not obvious that, after what happened in 2001, the Taliban will be quick to make its territory, once again, into a launching pad. If they do, one would hope that drones, bombs and perhaps the kind of small-scale insertion of troops that we mounted in 2001 will be an adequate response. In any event, when it comes to harboring terrorists, I am a lot more concerned about Pakistan than Afghanistan.

The war in Iraq is over, and has been for some time. Our mission there has been a success; how important a success depends not on us but on the Iraqis. For a predominantly Arab country, Iraq is doing well. At this point, we have done about all we can do. Our troops are no longer in a combat role, and we should bring them home, and honor their victory, on schedule.

There are several problems in these paragraphs.

First, as John admits, it quite possible (I would say likely) that the Taliban will allow Al Qaeda and its affiliates to set up shop again in Afghanistan.  For him to say, however, that we should “hope that drones, bombs and perhaps the kind of small-scale insertion of troops… will be an adequate response” is fanciful.

Those “drones” and “bombs” have to come from somewhere.  If we pull out, there will no longer be any bases from which to fly the drones and the “secret” bases in Pakistan will likely be closed down as well once it is clear to the Pakistanis that we are done.   As for the “small-scale insertion of troops,” I assume he is referring to the SOF and CIA teams that partnered with the Northern Alliance forces and rained down smart munitions on the Taliban positions.   Trouble is that there will be no Northern Alliance forces for these teams to partner with if we pull out.

Second, if the U.S. pulls its forces out as John suggests, there is very little likelihood that those forces will ever return again.  Even if the U.S. was capable of flying in sorties of long-range bombers and sending in cruise missiles, Al Qaeda has learned a thing or two since 2001 about nullifying the effects of long-range munitions.   Al Qaeda can expand into the remote areas of Afghanistan where the U.S. will be increasingly helpless to affect.  With the bombing option of little use, what chance is there that the American people will want want to re-commit troops after having gone through the national trauma of pulling forces out in disgrace? (And I dare anyone to say that doing so at this juncture would be anything other than a U.S. humiliation).  It is not going to happen.

Third, are we willing to face the unbelievable humanitarian crisis that will result when the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan?  Are we willing to accept into the U.S. as refugees the hundreds of thousands of Afghans that Hinderaker denigrates as “pederasts” and “tribal” and hopelessly backward?  We still have an ugly spot on our national honor from abandoning South Vietnam to the communist killers.    Anyone remember the Boat People?  The world well remembers how we abandoned the shia in Iraq to Saddam’s mass executions and tortures in 1991.   Are we willing to endure yet another flag of shame in Afghanistan?

Finally, the view espoused by Hinderaker and others is incredibly short-sighted.  Our best hope of eliminating Al Qaeda or keeping them disrupted is by having troops and bases in Afghanistan that allow us at least the option of ground action against their sanctuaries in Pakistan.   The only reason that we can even contemplate leaving Afghanistan is because we have not suffered any large-scale attacks since 2001.  That is remarkable in itself and should be kept in mind when contemplating withdrawal.

Our continuous presence in Afghanistan, while extremely problematic, deeply flawed and poorly run, gets at least some credit for keeping Al Qaeda on the defensive and ill-prepared to mount another large-scale attack against the U.S.    If, God forbid, Al Qaeda should pull off another 9/11-type attack and we can trace its origins to the Pakistani FATA camps, do you think we will want U.S. combat forces right next door in Afghanistan to go in and wipe out every, last camp and terrorist hideout?   You bet we will.   But if those forces are gone, our ability to make Al Qaeda pay (and to force our will upon Pakistan if they resist us crossing the border) is neutered.

(I cannot in good conscience leave off here without at least commenting on John’s statements above about Iraq.  As Herschel Smith has said on more than a few occasions, the U.S. achieved an incredible feat of arms in 2006-2007 by taking it to Al Qaeda and Sadr’s illegal militias only to risk most of those gains by hastily agreeing to a status of forces treaty with Iraq that severely restricted our forces there.   Since Obama’s election, the U.S. has been withdrawing troops at a pace that further jeopardizes our hard-won gains in security there.   Too much American blood and treasure has been invested in Iraq for us to simply throw up our hands and say, “Well, it’s up to the Iraqis now.  Good luck, we’re outta here!”  Iraq can and should be a major ally of ours in the most crucial spot in the Middle East.   We should be doing everything we can to ensure that we have a continuing military presence there as well as increasing diplomatic and economic ties.   We still have troops in Germany and Japan, for crying out loud.   How much more important is it to have troops or at least air bases in easy reach of Iran and the Persian Gulf — not to mention Syria and Israel?)

If the post by John Hinderaker is a real indication of the trends of conservative thinking (or the thinking of the public in general) then the U.S. is in big trouble in the world.

Can we save a few bucks from the budget by calling it quits in Afghanistan?  Sure, but even Hinderaker admits that the cost is comparatively small change.

Let me emphasize here that I do not advocate an unlimited and unconditional engagement in Afghanistan.   I have said before that if the U.S. is not serious about winning there, if we are simply using the precious lives of our combat forces as a political game or in some half-hearted program to get re-elected, then those forces should come home.   But the rational response to bad policy and poor management is not to shut everything down and hide under the bed at home, it is to recognize the problems and do something about it:  throw out the policy-makers and bad managers and implement a better approach.

It saddens me to think that John Hinderaker has gotten so discouraged with our Afghan policy that he would rather hide under the bed than use his considerable intellect to advocate for a better way.

Red Dawn

BY Herschel Smith
6 years ago

For war movie aficionados, Red Dawn was much more than entertainment and story-telling. It was in some ways profound military, moral and geopolitical commentary. For this reason it’s possible for Jonah Goldberg at the National Review to maintain interest in this subject throughout a number of posts, amounting to a discussion thread concerning a war movie (admittedly a B grade movie from Hollywood’s perspective) on a major and well visited blog. It just isn’t possible adequately to summarize or reproduce the beginnings of the thread or its evolution (you can find the posts here, here, here and here). But the last one stands out as needing a response. A few salient quotes follow.

I hate the Soviets as much as the next guy. Well, actually much, MUCH more than the next guy since I actually had to live there for 25 years. Unlike you, I actually took an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic (during my naturalization ceremony). And unlike you, I actually voted for Milius (for NRA board). But I am less enthusiastic about the “Red Dawn” than a lot of your readers …

Some sentiments are very boneheaded. Remember the scene where a Soviet detachment tried to sneak upon Wolverines using a tracking device carried by the mayor’s son? They were defeated and the captured prisoners executed. In response to their mention of the Geneva Convention Patrick Swayze says “Never heard of it”. That’s just a callous answer and a much better one would explain that systemic Soviet violations of the Convention (depicted earlier in the movie) legally made the Convention non-binding for the American side too. Furthermore, when one of the Wolverines asks “What’s the difference between us and them?”, Swayze replies “We live here”. This is just monumentally stupid. By this logic in 1945 the Nazis were morally superior to everybody else because they were fighting on their own territory. I’m afraid this dialog will be repeated verbatim in the remake -
only the point will be made by the Taliban or by the Iraqi members of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Well, perhaps so, and perhaps there is no possibility that the remake of Red Dawn can ever be anything other than morally indignant given its origins in Hollywood. But this response above, while taking on the appearances of moral superiority, fails in one major aspect of ethics. It assumes that something, some action, some position taken by the U.S., cannot ring true because of its very origins, or have any deontological import regardless of the apparent ease with which the moral equivalence argument is invoked.

Let’s admit right up front that perhaps Swayze should have said something like “we are Americans and they aren’t” rather than “we live here.” It would have been better and easier to defend. But we shouldn’t expect too much from High School students, and his answer is good enough for a dialogue starter. At least he gets the sentiment correct. He doesn’t flounder in inaction and hand wringing over his moral right to defend himself and his family and friends.

Evil and excess will announce it’s presence in every endeavor given man’s moral turpitude. The fact that the U.S. has had some breaches of ethics in our history (very few of them, in fact) doesn’t make us comparable to the Soviets any more than it makes al Qaeda comparable to American fighters in the war for independence. Location is irrelevant; the theoretical framework for the action is everything.

Still need more? Okay. Let’s try this. Robert Kaplan’s magnificent book Imperial Grunts has a stunning introduction entitled “Injun Country” (one cannot claim to understand the global war on terror before reading this volume). It’s a very erudite discussion of the roots of imperial defense of the homeland, and not just for Great Britain. It’s orientation is America, and her defense began soon after she was a country by ensuring that her battles were on the periphery of the domain (or beyond).

The turn of the century found the United States with bases and base rights in fifty-nine countries and overseas territories, with troops on deployments from Greenland to Nigeria, and from Norway to Singapore. Even before the 9/11 attacks, special operations command was conducting operations in 170 counties per year. Defense of the realm is not a new phenomenon in American history.

The moral equivalence argument, if one wants to make it, is easier than simply pointing to a comment in Red Dawn. It’s also dumb given the profound differences between the U.S. and the Soviets. The Soviets wanted to control the world, just as Hitler did. Their aspirations involved complete domination, and no amount of adherence to rules of engagement, law of armed conflict or various conventions would have made them noble.

Conversely, the U.S. has never even once entertained the idea of ownership of the wealth of nations conquered during war or rule over her people. Even now the U.S. is spending wealth defending South Korea so that it can pursue its ridiculous “sunshine diplomacy,” and gives Japan an umbrella of protection so that she doesn’t have to go nuclear to ensure a defense against China. Do you doubt it? Jettison the umbrella of protection and see how fast Japan develops nuclear weapons. Also consider the costs of Operation Iraqi Freedom against a backdrop of the U.S. acquiescing to the notion of negotiations with Iraq to achieve a SOFA (status of forces agreement) for future presence of troops.

The U.S. has been a force for good in the world, and the Soviets have been a force for evil. The inability (or refusal) to acknowledge this is why Hollywood will never create a movie about Iraq or Afghanistan that does well as the box office. It’s also why, in the words of one individual with whom I have discussed these ideas, “it took me a while thinking about it, but after reading your posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that we and the Georgians are right and the Russians are wrong, simply because that’s the way it is. We are Americans and they aren’t. They are Russians. We have a right to defend our homeland overseas, and Russia doesn’t because they are an evil regime.” Sure, one can argue that the noblest intention can be marred by morally ugly actions carrying out those intentions, but that’s a reason to change those ugly actions, not the intentions or the campaigns.

While one may argue for isolationism and against intervention overseas due to various reasons (not the least of which is that there are unintended consequences to such actions), there are also unintended consequences to failure to act. For those who wish for complete disengagement overseas, they should be careful what they wish for. Battling jihadists on American soil may mean witnessing this evil in real time, with fighters gunning down women and children in shopping malls, suicide bombers at large industrial complexes and buildings, destroyed electrical grids and poisoned water supplies.

America learned long ago (at the time of expansion into the Western frontier) to defend her homeland by ensuring that her battles took place elsewhere. She also learned in short order not to make stupid moral equivalence arguments concerning men and regimes who intended evil for others.


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