I'm not a real big advocate of the "cops are fascist" line of thinking. But then I see this report of a six year old boy being hit with a 50,000 volt taser.
Yeah, the kid was "armed." With broken glass. Yeah, he was cutting himself.
But in what world can't a pair of fully grown men restrain a six year old without blasting him with a taser?
I'm not a real big advocate of the "cops are fascist" line of thinking. But then I see this report of a six year old boy being hit with a 50,000 volt taser.
You probably saw Dave Kopel's latest over at the Sage. It's an interesting, scholarly treatment of the question -- and like all good scholarly writing, it has a fair bit of humor to liven up the dull parts.
My favorite part:
When the Ohio prohibition was challenged, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of concealed handgun carrying was constitutional, because state law still allowed the carrying of unconcealed handguns. As a result, large numbers of Ohioans began carrying unconcealed handguns; in response, the Ohio legislature quickly enacted a "shall issue" law to legalize concealed handguns.Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. I'd rather have the pistols out where I can see them, but suit yourselves.
Concealed carry is more effective as a counterterrorist (and general anti-crime) precaution, because it makes it impossible for miscreants to accurately estimate the danger presented by their target. Do we need a five man team for this office building filled with a hundred Americans? Or are half of those office drones going to prove to be good old American gunslingers armed with .357 Magnum revolvers?
That uncertainty reduces crime, as the criminal discards most marginal targets -- i.e., targets who might be armed, which includes almost everyone. A terrorist has more devotion to his cause, but the need to plan for larger operations creates new vunerabilities for him. The need for larger teams, and more time, means that law enforcement has greatly increased opportunity to uncover and disrupt the plot.
Per LQ, sad news from Boston. Requiescat in pace, old soldier.
Bush's folks are appealing the WTO ruling that internet gambling is legal.
This is just another affront to the rights of Gambler Americans such as myself. I suppose the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Fund will continue to benefit from their stubborness, however, so I suppose there is some moral argument to be made. I'd probably just blow the money on new shoes for the boy.
On the other hand, sometimes those Corps Values pay off:
'On another occasion, the snipers tensed when they heard movement in the direction of a smoldering building. A cat sauntered out, unconcerned with anything but making its rounds in the neighborhood.Midnight and Snowball would be proud.
'Can I shoot it, sir?' a sniper asked an officer.
'Absolutely not,' came the reply.
The Belmont Club remains one of the best sources on the internet for writing about the war. Today he has a piece on Arafat, but also a piece on the war in Iraq beyond Fallujah. It's fascinating, insightful, and concludes thus:
Every campaign has a political dimension. The campaign in the Sunni Triangle is probably aimed at convincing the enemy that resistance is now futile and their best hope lies in participating in the new Iraqi government through elections. Personally (speculation alert!) I doubt it can achieve as much. The campaign will absolutely gut the enemy as a guerilla force, but it will not be enough to prevent them from terrorizing Sunni politicians who may wish to participate in the coming elections. But this will only postpone unconditional Sunni defeat for another year because a terrorist enforced boycott will mean that Kurds and Shi'ites will dominate the new administration and most importantly, its Army. By next year, the regular Iraqi Army will be a far more potent force and the Sunni insurgency a far weaker one. But that's the old sad human story; to miss the chance when it comes and pine for it ever afterward.
Here is a report that 3.1 million Chinese joined in protests or demonstrations last year. One of the largest demonstrations in Chinese history happened just this past month, and lasted for "more than a week." Given how much the Chinese Communist Party loves protests, that's pretty impressive stuff. Activism in the US is a sign of deeply held beliefs, but not particular moral courage, as there is no consequence -- even if you're arrested, they'll let you go unharmed straight away, and an arrest record can be shown as a badge of honor in many places. It's a bit different in China, where people disappear on a regular basis, suffer tortures to make Abu Ghraib look like a playground, and are frequently executed outright, with their family finding out they were imprisoned at all only when they get the bill for the bullet.
Conventional wisdom is that the economic boom that China has enjoyed for the last decade has been suppressing dissent. Simon's World has a piece on why the economic numbers this year are probably just regime propaganda. If there's an economic slowdown, it may help to explain the rise in demonstrations against the state.
On the other hand, tensions are high in China. The Nepalese Maoists, who believe that China is a counterrevolutionary government that will have to be fought, continue to enjoy tremendous success in Nepal. I suspect their eventual victory, and the establishment of a Maoist state in Nepal, unless we see increased Indian/Chinese/US efforts to block that. The Nepalese have made some inroads into Tibet, which could help to explain the Chinese crackdown there. A linkup between Tibetian nationalists and Nepalese Maoists must figure into some Chinese general's nightmares.
There have also been riots in China among the ethnic minorities, particularly the East Turkmen (called also the Uighur). There has been a clampdown on news stories about this, but somewhere between 20 and 150 were killed by a Chinese mob two weeks ago, in what would be called a "race riot" if it happened in the US. The entire village in which it happened has been under interdiction since then, with all the roads closed off by the PLA, and no news getting out.
Thanks to E.B. for this. Iraq Now has published a rather harsh critique of the US Marines in Iraq, from the perspective of the US Army. You these kinds of pieces every time the Army and Marines work together, usually from both sides, just like you always see a critique of the Americans from the British, and so forth.
Still, there's usually something to be gained from reading these things, just because it gives you a new perspective. The author is against the "strategic corporal" concept that Commandant Hagee was discussing in the last piece. He also thinks that the Marines made a serious mistake by using squad- rather than platoon- level tactics as their standard. This made the Marines more vunerable, and less able to respond to attacks, as they didn't have a 7.62mm machinegun in the squad. On the other hand, it also cut down on the freedom of movement enjoyed by the insurgents, who had to deal with squads of Marines everywhere rather than large-scale platoon patrols, which are easier to avoid.
He also thinks that the Marines' focus on personal ethics undercut their ability to work with the locals. Because the sheikhs weren't ethical by Western standards, the Marines didn't trust them and wouldn't work with them. The soldier probably has a good point here. I had a hard time adjusting to China for the same reason: by Western standards, the Chinese are totally unethical, liars to a man. It took a while to figure out that lying actually is ethical in China, so long as you're lying for the right reasons -- in other words, that they were trying to do right by me in their own way. Marines, who are taught from Boot Camp that personal integrity is of the utmost importance, would have a harder time with this than many.
There are several other critiques as well, not just of the Marines but the politicians running the show -- the latter of which are all entirely justified, I think. It makes for interesting reading: file under Lessons Learned.
The Commandant gives an interview. On Veteran's Day, as on the Birthday, it's good to look back.
Thank you, all combat veterans, and all of you who have supported them.
The Adventures of Chester has exactly what we need more of in war journalism: analysis informed by a solid grounding in military science. Read this post on how the writings of Mao inform the campaign in the Triangle, and in particular the reducing of Fallujah.
If the MSM could produce analysis like this, and would produce it, public opinion on Iraq would be very different than it is.
Here's a good story for the birthday. The International Policy Institute at London's King's College says that Al Qaeda is cracking, and will collapse in two years:
Professor Michael Clarke, a specialist adviser to lawmakers on the House of Commons defense committee, said the consequence would be that the security services would be able to win the 'war on terror' as the group's structure fell apart.That appears correct to me, also. The great threat of the international terrorists was twofold: WMD, which remains a critical danger that our government and the worlds' had best take more seriously; and the increasing cooperation and connections between what had been discrete groups. That connection made them much more dangerous than they had been in the past, as it allowed them to share knowledge and intelligence, and to engage in what the military would call "joint operations." It expanded the danger they posed in every way, from recruitment to intel and strike capability, to making it harder to track them by giving them global networks through which they could move.
That unity was still very much uneven on 9/11, as not all groups were interested in working with the others, seeing little common cause. Still, there were three major terrorist networks that were increasingly trying to bridge the gaps. These were the Abu Nidal Group (ANO), in the middle east; Al Qaeda, in Europe and Central Asia; and Jemaah Islamiyaah (JI), in South and Southeast Asia.
All three have come under critical stress. ANO had ceased to be an active terrorist group some time ago, and become more like a mafia, dealing in connections and networks instead of actually planting bombs. Their operations were greatly curtailed when Libya decided it could not afford to be a terrorist state any longer; Kaddafi first expelled Abu Nidal, and later shut down the networks in Libya. ANO was always the least dangerous of the three, as Abu Nidal himself trusted no one and tended to eliminate any of his own people who showed too much promise. As a consequence, they had extensive networks, but relatively few operable connections to other terrorist groups -- better at making introductions than anything else, and that only if they decided to trust you. If that network has survived the death of Abu Nidal, I've seen no sign of it.
Al Qaeda we know about, and you can read the rest of Professor Clarke's article for an update.
JI is the strongest of the remaining groups, and their success or failure is still much in play. But there is a good sign: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has entered into peace talks with the Philippine government, is hastily purging its connections to JI. Radical groups in Indonesia continue to deny any connection with -- and often, the existence of -- JI.
JI is still active in Indonesia, Malaysia, and perhaps Thailand. Their old haven of Singapore is now closed to them, as the Singapore government has undertaken a serious counterterrorist approach, both because of their unique vunerability to terrorism (being a nation that is little more than a city on an island) and to curry favor with the United States. Indonesia is hunting their members with fervor.
Malaysia and Thailand are working together to try and end the insurgency in Southern Thailand, although so far there has been little success. Nevertheless, I am generally impressed with their efforts, and expect them to bear fruit in time. They have undertaken a joint economic initiative to try and improve the lives of Muslims in Southern Thailand. Malaysia is to send a number of clerics to Thailand to preach "Islam as peace" among the populace. The Malaysian prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, has been speaking at length in public forums about the importance of finding a "moderate Islam" in order to succeed in the world. There is reason to think this matters: Badawi has been recently praised by one of the chief Imams in southern Thailand.
The Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, remains openminded about new solutions -- this week, in response to a letter from nineteen universities challenging his conduct of the counterinsurgency, he's summoned 160 of the academics to a conference with him to share their ideas. He has, however, also made several mistakes: though he has wisely allowed teachers and other endangered people in Southern Thailand to arm themselves (Thailand's gun control laws are very strict, but Thaksin has issued permits), he has also decided to embark upon a program of enthusiastically disarming the populace in the South of Thailand by and large. This evident unfairness is more likely to increase antigovernment sentiment than otherwise, as is the brutal suppression of peaceful protests such as occurred two weeks ago. Still, one must recognize that Thailand was not prepared for an insurgency; many of these missteps are a result of panic. Once they calm themselves, there is reason to hope that their long term efforts will start to bear fruit.
There is much work to be done. But it seems clear that we are winning the first stage: breaking these groups up, keeping them from maintaining global capabilities and intelligence, and thereby reducing the threat they pose. This stage is like the operations in Fallujah, which were designed as sweeping incursions to split apart the insurgents into increasingly small pockets that could finally no longer support one another. Also like Fallujah, the early victory must be followed, of course, by the far more difficult stage of nuturing and supporting democracy as a counterweight to the impulses that lead one to become a terrorist. Yet we can see in Afghanistan the first hints of success in that project too. We can see those hints in the dedication with which the people came out to vote, and stood in line in spite of intimidation and actual violence. Democracy does seem to be something that the people want, if only we can provide them with enough security to build the democracy successfully.
In the words of my favorite Chinese philosopher, Huitang Zuxin, "What has been long neglected cannot be restored immediately; Ills that have been accumulating for a long time cannot be cleared away immediately; Calamity cannot be avoided by trying to run away from it." It's a long and difficult road we've chosen, but if it still stretches before us out of sight, we have yet come a fair piece. Happy Birthday, Marine Corps. You can be proud to be part of this grand liberation, these hard first steps on the road to a better world.
Drinks at Tun's Tavern.
This is from the AP, but I don't see it on Google News yet. I'll post the majority of the piece, for your edification. It's called, "Cyber-sympathizers of Fallujah insurgents offer instructions on how to
confront the Americans."
Fill balloons with hydrogen after packing them with explosives and when U.S. aircraft prowl over Fallujah, let them loose against the planes."Damn! Those F-16s are fast! Ok, next time let it loose, er, two minutes before the plane flies over."
That is among the numerous examples of unsolicited advice offered to Fallujah insurgents on Islamist Web sites which are rooting for the guerrillas they prepare to face an anticipated American assault."No, really. Everybody put on these 'Hunter Blaze' vests. Marines are conditioned from birth not to shoot that color."
Over the past few days, the Islamist Web sites have featured tips on the
simplest and most effective tactics to combat the Americans, who are awaiting
orders from interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to launch an all-out assault.
One contributor posted a picture of an American soldier stepping over a piece
of orange cloth, which the writer said was used by U.S. forces to identify
themselves and guard against friendly fire.
The author, who signed his name as "Weirdo One," suggested the insurgents,
popularly known as mujahedeen, could don orange cloth to confuse the Americans
about who was friend or foe.
"To our mujahedeen, here you can deceive the Americans," he wrote. "Think
The same contributor posted a satellite picture showing how smoke from burning tires or oil tanks can blacken the sky and make it difficult for aircraft to track insurgents.Hint: If you don't already know the answers to those questions, you're not going to win this one.
Others urged the people of Fallujah to leave their houses after boobytrapping
them with explosives - a tactic U.S. commanders say they expect to be used
against them in Fallujah. Contributors recommended Fallujah people dig tunnels
and hide underground until the Americans stop the assault.
Another tipster urged Fallujah to use loudspeakers in the city's numerous
mosques "to warn the mujahedeen and give them signals" about the tactical
Beneath that message, another contributor advised fighters that if they can
capture American pilots, "make sure to interrogate them to know where they
launch their warplanes and how they track their targets."
Although some of the advice seems outdated, other contributors displayed some knowledge of modern infantry tactics.NY Times reader, that one.
"Be careful of the electronic devices with which missiles can track down the
mujahedeen because they were the ones that caused most harm in Afghanistan,"
wrote one contributor under the name Abu al-Qaqaa.
To the Marines, the soldiers, the aviators, the Iraqi National Guard, and to the Black Watch:
Way back in January, The New Republic was speculating on a collapse of the Democratic party if elections didn't go well for them this time. I doubted we'd see it, but if we did I would want to found a new party:
If it comes to that, I will start a new party myself--I think we will call ourselves the Jacksonian Party. I mean, of course, James Jackson, and therefore a Jeffersonian party; but people who like Andrew Jackson will be welcome too. It's a big tent for American Classical Liberals, and ought to be able to pull from Republicans as well as Democrats. It will be founded on the real, and honorable, left of American culture: Jefferson's vision, which James Jackson shared, and for which he fought so valiantly.Perhaps we need a "Purple Party." I suspect this one would occupy a strong position on the political spectrum's middle ground.
It is that left which does not merely idolize the poor, but upholds them and finds ways to make them powerful. The support of unions is one way. Another is by supporting their right to bear arms, so that they do not rely upon a distant and disinterested state for their personal security or that of their families. Even in the city, the state is distant when the bandit is already in your home. Furthermore, and more importantly, an armed citizen is not merely more independent of the state. He is personally capable of defending the state, the lawful order, and the common peace, wherever he goes. Whether it is felons or terrorists who threaten that order and that peace, he is ready. The disarmed citizen is a ward of the state. The Armed citizen is its guardian. The state is his to uphold.
Another matter: we need a renewed focus on the rights and duties of the citizen, so that the poor will understand the power they already have by statute, but have forgotten how to wield. Consider jury nullification. Special interests may write the laws, but we have every right to make exceptions. The powerful and the rich do not sit in judgement over us: we judge ourselves.
Another matter: the defense and support of small businesses, who are the 'Yeoman Farmers' of the city. No man is freer than he who employs himself, whether it is the owner of his own land, or the owner of his own shop. If we are going to fiddle with tax policy, let's fiddle with it in a way that encourages and supports small businesses and farmers.
Another matter: education culture. Private-sector unions are a defense for the poor, but public-sector unions are the enemy of everyone outside themselves. Private-sector unions encourage profit sharing, but there is no profit in the public sector--there is only tax money, which must be drawn from the poor as from the rich, and which is drawn at the point of a gun. Restraining public spending is a civil rights issue. The less money you must send to the government, the more you can use to build your own personal capital, and pull yourself up from poverty.
On the same topic, educators should themselves be educated. This should be a real education on the topic they intend to teach, not an education in "educational theory." No one needs that. By the time they are prepared to teach, they have had the most practical education in educating--they have attended twelve years of public school, four years of college, and have at some point had the practical apprenticeship of being an teacher's aide and a student teacher. They have seen education done for more than a decade, have a number of working models in mind, and have practiced the art themselves. What they need is to know their subject matter. We need historians teaching History, and mathematicians teaching math. A large majority of the public is being educated by people whose knowledge of a given subject is no greater than the textbooks they have been assigned. They can't enlarge upon the text, and they can't tell the students when the text goes wrong.
In foreign policy: we should recognize that international terrorist organizations actually are subject to an existing international law: the law of the sea. Precisely like the roving bands of brigands and pirates of the 1600s and 1700s, they are organized against civilization, travel through multiple jurisdictions and through lawless areas alike. They are not combatants of any state, and are protected therefore by neither the Geneva Conventions nor the rules of war. Like pirates, they are subject to summary execution by the officers of any nation that comes into control of them; or by interrogation and some more merciful response, if we prefer and at our discretion. This brutality on the part of civilized men is justified for the exact reason it was justified of old: the threat these bands pose to the transportation infrastructure is a dagger at the heart of civilization. We cannot maintain our cities, our populations, our ability to combat disease or famine, or our relative freedom from total war over resources, without the massive but fragile transportation capacity we have developed.
This is not idle or of small importance. A small increase in transport costs kills at the margins--for example, aid to Africa is reduced as it is more expensive to transport, but resources are fixed. A large increase threatens civilization itself. Our cities do not contain enough food to feed the populace for more than about three days. That is no problem; more food is coming. But if the ability to transport that food is severely harmed--starvation, and in many regions of the world, disease. A serious disruption could unleash a resource war by nations that see mass starvation if they don't capture food, oil, and other needful things. Such a disruption is possible if these terror groups continue their infiltration of the West, and come into possession of WMD.
For that reason, the reform of terror-sponsor states is paramount. So is the reform of failed states that are not necessarily terror-sponsors, but where terrorists are able to travel freely due to bribes of local officials or through outright lawlessness. So long as we can do so while maintaining an all-volunteer force, the United States ought to feel free to act on these places one by one. This has the practical matter, for a Jacksonian party, of bringing liberty and strength to the poor and unfree abroad exactly as we wish to do at home.
I didn't consider gay marriage at the time -- it's one of those subjects that I've never given much thought, except for a real concern about the turmoil that would come from an attempt to resolve the question judicially. However, I think that it would be perfectly in keeping with the original Classical Liberal principles to reserve the power to the states, and then let each state do as it wanted. That solution -- Federalism -- is being called for, I've noticed, by a number of commentators lately. It seems correct to me.
UPDATE: As I think this over, I believe a clarification is necessary: I think America needs a Jacksonian Party. But it doesn't have to be called "the Jacksonian Party." It could be called "the Democratic Party." It could also be called "the Republican Party." It could be a third party, but it need not be.
There's been a lot of talk about the Scots-Irish in America, thanks mostly to James Webb's new book, Born Fighting. InstaPundit suggests that much of the same ground was covered in Albion's Seed, a few years ago.
Let me add my own plug. Perhaps the earliest treatment of the Scots-Irish, and still one of the best, was Theodore Roosevelt's history of the "backwoodsmen," which makes up much of The Winning of the West, Volume 1. Roosevelt describes these people, who he says were the first and last to bypass civilization and seek out the wild places of the frontier:
Thus the backwoodsmen lived on the clearings they had hewed out of the everlasting forest; a grim, stern people, strong and simple, powerful for good and evil, swayed by gusts of stormy passion, the love of freedom rooted in their very hearts' core. Their lives were harsh and narrow; they gained their bread by their blood and sweat, in the unending struggle with the wild ruggedness of nature. They suffered terrible injuries at the hands of the red men, and on their foes they waged a terrible warfare in return. They were relentless, revengeful, suspicious, knowing neither ruth nor pity; they were also upright, resolute, and fearless, loyal to their friends, and devoted to their country.If any other account has captured the Scots-Irish so well as that, I haven't seen it.
Presumably the Arizona Rangers know about this. So should you.
For nearly two decades, the most important nexus for international jihad outside of Pakistan and the Middle East has been Arizona.That's overstated: the most important center outside of Pakistan and the Middle East was probably London, although other European cities have a claim on the "honor."
Still, this is important. Read the rest. I don't think I have any Arizona readers -- feel free to disabuse me if I'm wrong -- but I know I have some several from Texas. Keep your eyes open.