Indictments are, as everyone knows, proof of nothing except the prosecutor's intentions. The actual trial, at which a defense is permitted, is the point at which real information is likely to emerge. I have known real-world indictments that were dropped entirely without trial, and the prosecutor forced to apologize, once the defense lawyers got involved and began to unmake the case. This prosecutor, however, seems unlikely to have made gross errors of the sort that lead to such a situation.

My basic principles about government-official indictments remain the same:

1) A desire to defend the weaker party, which wants to see the matter resolved in the favor of the innocent whenever an innocent man is threatened by the state's power.

2) A desire to see corruption in government restrained, which desires to see the matter resolved by hurling any guilty men into the dungeon in this case. This is true whether "the guilty" is Delay, or the prosecutor, should the prosecutor in fact be engaged in a political prosecution.
It is also strange to note that "Scooter" Libby's only appearance at Grim's Hall, as far as I can recall, was just the other day:
My respect for the administration, on the wane somewhat of late especially due to the matter of their ICE appointee, is somewhat reinforced by this exchange. It is good to know that there is at least one among them who knows, and honors, the old forms. It isn't much compared to the great matters of war and politics: but it isn't nothing, either.
That stands. I was, and remain, impressed with gentlemanly and chivalrous conduct -- indeed, to some degree I am more impressed with it, if Mr. Libby knew that the generous letter he was writing was apt to result in his own indictment.

Nevertheless, keeping your oaths is at least as important a part of being a man -- and a gentleman -- as respect and kindness to ladies. It is odd to see that someone who has obviously learned the one lesson so well can be brought up short on the other matter. Austin Bay says he thinks Libby just thought he could get away with it; Sovay, who has been watching the case closely, said exactly the same thing.

The most interesting thing about the facts of the case, though, touches on the Wilson/Plame matter. There are two remaining disputes between Left and Right on the facts of the case: who, exactly, outed Plame; and whether Plame recommended Wilson for the job in Niger. Out of those two disputes grow great differing empires of opinion about the proper resolution of the matter. The biggest difference is this one: whether the "real evil act" here was by the White House, one of whose officers chose to compromise national security in order to secure political points by outing a CIA employee; or by the CIA, which is alleged to have been conducting these missions on their own authority with the intention of undermining the White House's foreign policy (which is not acceptable, if true), or perhaps even to manipulate internal US politics (which is seriously disturbing, if true). A third possibility, which I think is the most likely, is this: the real bad actors were Wilson and wife, who were manipulating both the CIA and the press. This would explain the facts as they seem to be arranging themselves.

The summary of charges makes clear that the CIA and State advised Libby that Wilson's wife had in fact been responsible for getting Wilson sent on the trip. This information is summarized on pages 5-6 in the bullet points. It is also clear that the trip was organized by the CIA on its own authority, with Plame's input, rather than at a higher level.

It is also clear, from the findings of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, that Wilson reported one thing to the CIA and another thing entirely to the press. It is also clear that Wilson printed a number of things that were flatly untrue. Lying in the press is not perjury, of course, so there's no legal trouble involved -- but it does appear that Wilson and Plame are guilty of misusing their position to attempt to manipulate US policy and politics.

That does not excuse Libby. The proper response to the existence of bad actors at CIA is not to out them in the press, which -- as the indictment makes clear -- is a matter that seriously disrupts national security, not least by demonstrating that a given corporation is or has been used as a locus for non-official-covers. It can also endanger our foriegn assets' lives. The indictment does not accuse Libby of having done so, but it makes clear that the prosecutor feels Libby hampered the investigation into who did.

Neither does it justify perjury. Oath-breaking is never acceptable.

The plot has thickened, however. The trial is apt to fall on these fault-lines of opinion like a sledgehammer. The radical left is apt to be pushing the "virtuous CIA, Plame not involved in Wilson's selection, Wilson was right, evil White House" narrative into the public, even though the facts plainly don't support it. The radical right is apt to push the "evil CIA/Plame/Wilson conspiracy to manipulate internal US politics" narrative, even though the facts don't support that. Both narratives are likely to undermine public confidence in the secret parts of the government -- the administration and CIA -- that are chiefly running the GWOT. The result could be a disaster for the war.

It could also be a disaster for the truth. The most likely set of facts is that the Wilson pair and Libby were the bad actors. The Wilsonians appear to have manipulated the CIA into sending Wilson, and then deceived the press about what Wilson found in Africa. Libby did wrong, allegedly, by hampering the investigation into the leaks and by deceiving the grand jury. The majority of the administration and the CIA were apparently only trying to do their jobs.

If that is true, as it appears prima facie to be true, then we will have to work hard to make sure that neither of the politically-driven narratives becomes the public understanding of the case. As per my basic principles, I would like to see the guilty hurled in the dungeon and the corrupt restrained. I would also like to see the innocent, those public servants in the administration and intel services who have been trying to do their jobs to protect this nation and further its interests, defended against slander. This case, which until now has been a minor sideshow in American politics, appears to be becoming a true danger.

The Trolley

The Trolley:

Peggy Noonan has written a deeply felt and moving column entitled "A Separate Peace." The reference is to that dishonorable tactics of unreliable allies in war, who are supposed to stand up and fight alongside you, and instead cut themselves a deal with the enemy and leave you fighting alone.

She begins with a feeling, which she says she cannot prove, that the whole world is falling apart.

I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it's a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with "right track" and "wrong track" but missing the number of people who think the answer to "How are things going in America?" is "Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination."

I'm not talking about "Plamegate." As I write no indictments have come up. I'm not talking about "Miers." I mean . . . the whole ball of wax. Everything. Cloning, nuts with nukes, epidemics; the growing knowledge that there's no such thing as homeland security; the fact that we're leaving our kids with a bill no one can pay. A sense of unreality in our courts so deep that they think they can seize grandma's house to build a strip mall; our media institutions imploding--the spectacle of a great American newspaper, the New York Times, hurtling off its own tracks, as did CBS. The fear of parents that their children will wind up disturbed, and their souls actually imperiled, by the popular culture in which we are raising them. Senators who seem owned by someone, actually owned, by an interest group or a financial entity. Great churches that have lost all sense of mission, and all authority. Do you have confidence in the CIA? The FBI? I didn't think so.

But this recounting doesn't quite get me to what I mean. I mean I believe there's a general and amorphous sense that things are broken and tough history is coming.
Well, it is. Every young man and woman reading this who isn't preparing to fight as well as to think and work had better stop and take stock.

Noonan seems to have woken to this feeling but lately. She wonders in awe how anyone can deal with it.
I think those who haven't noticed we're living in a troubling time continue to operate each day with classic and constitutional American optimism intact. I think some of those who have a sense we're in trouble are going through the motions, dealing with their own daily challenges.

And some--well, I will mention and end with America's elites. Our recent debate about elites has had to do with whether opposition to Harriet Miers is elitist, but I don't think that's our elites' problem.

This is. Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."
That very well may be true, about the elites. But not all who remain optimistic are those who have failed to notice. Some of us noticed a long while ago, and began to prepare.

What does it mean to prepare? First it means to look around, take advantage of the clear moment to see what you can see. Then it means to look back, to see how other men in other generations have dealt with this and worse. Then you put them together, the new troubles and the old power, and you start making a plan. You begin to match strength to peril.

I look at Peggy's list, and think this: Cloning doesn't bother me. Nukes and epidemics have the same answer, already well underway: an end to the cities, and a return to a more rural life. The suburbs and the exurbs are growing fast, as is the population in plain rural areas, and it is there that you will also find a political culture that tends toward the resiliance needed to survive a crisis. The collapse of order in New Orleans only matters if you live in a city. Those outside handled it better.

The old cowboy skills -- cooking under the sky, knowing how to find and clean drinking water, a neighborly watch on each other's backs -- they stood us tall once, and they will again. The economy? Small businesses, not big business, are the road to wealth. There was a time, during the industrial age, when economies of scale required vast workforces at central locations. The information age doesn't require that; and the just-in-time shipping it enables means that even industrial production facilities can be distributed. It's also true for farms. People are part of something bigger, but still own their own business and means of production. This reality also produces a politics, even as the old labor union model did, one that operates on the assumptions of the yeoman farmer. Jefferson's model.

Homeland security? We press the governmen to do better, but we also form the Minutemen. We volunteer for service. We've been passing "shall-issue" concealed weapons laws across the country these last decades, precisely because we saw society threatened by crime and mayhem and determined to set it right. Crime rates are now at a historic low, especially in the carry states. When those wheels come off, we'll be there to pick them up and put them back on.

The political culture has soured. Senators do seem owned, and the court has lost its way so far as to produce Kelo. Well, you can see the reaction: the porkbusting project as to the one thing, and the absolute refusal by the People to accept a crony nominee to the Supreme Court. It's too important. The wheels are coming off. So we make them get it right.

If that is not enough, and things start to fall apart in a serious way, it will mean that we move to more active measures. For now, we're willing to let the political class continue to manage things. Later, you may see more of us stand for office. I've been hearing a lot about the need for a "populist" scouring of the state. You just may get to see one. It won't look much like what those calling for it are expecting. It will be people like us, who have decided that the government cannot be trusted and must be remade. If we have to have a Constitutional Amendment to prevent Kelo from stealing people's homes, we'll do what we have to in order to get one. If that means standing for office and giving up the life we'd prefer, so be it. That's James Jackson's model.

Things that go south in a serious way will be met with a serious response. We'll form lawful militas to keep order if the government breaks down under disease or disaster. We'll volunteer for government-led efforts if they need us, or form private companies to take care of the jobs the government can't handle. Companies like Wells Fargo used to be, when Wyatt Earp worked for them.

What comes, comes, but however hard it is we shall stand and fight it. It is our way, as it is our heritage.

We are the Sons of Liberty. We have nothing to fear. When death comes for us, we will pass into that world of which so much has been written, where there is no fear but love and all love is without pain. If we have done our duty, we will leave behind us those we have bred or trained in the ways of America. They will take up our cause and bury our bones, and our names will be their warcry.

There are names like that written in gold, below. The men they trained will give them voice. They are warriors, heros, and riders of bulls. Perhaps there is a name like that on your lips as you read this: Washington's? Jackson's? Your father's? Another?

So what is there to fear? Live boldly. This is America, the home of the brave.

Thai Rangers

Guns in Thailand:

Another peril of gun registration -- the enemy knows who is armed.

Armed assailants last night made off with a total of 30 firearms in separate attacks in Pattani and Yala - one of the largest arms robberies in recent months.
A coordinated assault on licensed arms bearers won the insurgents of Southern Thailand thirty more arms, in a place where firearms are rare. The insurgents know who to hit, because they know what kind of people will be "permitted" to be armed. There is little danger that any nearby civilians can come to aid their fellows in the course of the raid.

But that's all right, because it's the government's job to protect you:
In talks with former prime minister Chuan Leekpai at parliament, Gen Thammarak said those servicemen included troops attached to a dozen task forces and three regiments of rangers, plus an army rapid deployment force.... Mr Chuan pointed out a number of rangers had been killed by militants recently. The defence minister admitted it was a "mistake" to deploy rangers at road checkpoints, where several had been shot.
Right. We wouldn't want to deploy rangers where they might encounter armed insurgents.

There is no substitute for the individual right to keep and bear arms. There simply is not.


National Intelligence Strategy:

The new National Intelligence Strategy is out. It's the first major product by the new "National Intelligence Director" (NID), currently James Negroponte. I was always opposed to the creation of an "intel czar," and now I remember why.

This thirty-two page document is one of those corporate creations that Dilbert founded its success on mocking. You can tell that every word was negotiated at length in committee. And what did all that negotiation produce?

Our Vision -- What we will become:

A unified enterprise of innovative intelligence professionals whose common purpose in defending American lives and interests, and advancing American values, draws strength from our democratic institutions, diversity, and intellectual and technological prowess.

Most of this is a corp-speak description of what an intel agency does. However, deciphering the corporate code, we find that there are three pieces of information contained there which show what will be changing, and what will not:

1) From "unified enterprise" and "common purpose": The NID actually intends to unify the intel services. Since that was his job, this is not surprising.

2) From the specific inclusion of "diversity": Stripping away the political correctness that has bedeviled these organizations will not be a priority. It's too hard, and too deeply set.

3) From "advancing American values" and "draws strength from our democratic institutions" -- Negropont is doing just what Bush sent him to do, which is to snap the intel services to heel from an ideological standpoint. The CIA in particular has been an ideological enemy of the President and his policies. This signals that all "intelligence professionals" will be required to share "American values," including the promotion of democracy as a core concern.

Point three is, I gather, the main purpose of this document. It is job one under "Our Mission," with the relevant codewords highlighted:
Collect, analyze, and disseminate accurate, timely, and objective intelligence, independent of political considerations, to the President and all who make and implement US national security policy, fight our wars, protect our nation, and enforce our laws.
The first few words there, again, are a description of what an intel service does. Yet then there is the mention of "political considerations," which must not be allowed to influence intelligence; and the mention of 'the President and those who make our policy,' to remind the intel services that they don't get to do that.

Reviewing the recent history of CIA leaks, particularly of pessimistic or negative intelligence estimates, and particularly during last year's election cycle, I can see why the President thinks this is a desirable thing to do.

Enforcing ideological conformity among intelligence officers, however, is not a good idea. It is an idea with a history, and the history is not pretty.

Jimmy Carter put Admiral Stansfield Turner in charge of the CIA during his tenure. Turner had an ideological thing against covert and clandestine operations. He felt like a lot of human intelligence operations were immoral (which is absolutely true), and that the United States of America should never do anything that was plainly immoral (which, sadly, can't be true in the area of intelligence). As a result, he essentially scrapped the CIA's capability to carry out these ops, and focused on signals intelligence instead.

Didn't work out too well, did it? But we were in luck: Turner was only in charge of the CIA. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) retained a lot of capabilities that the CIA lost. We still lost a lot: intel networks take years, sometimes even decades to bring to full fruition. When one is cut off and withers, it cannot be replaced right away. Clandestine service intelligence professionals (i.e., spies), though they are at best amoral and often immoral, possess a lifetime of valuable knowledge of the lay of a political landscape, the important figures within it, and personal connections that let them penetrate that landscape and learn where pressure ought to be applied to get results. They are a necessary evil, and one that takes years to develop.

What happens if we get a bad NID now? DIA is going to be forced to conform just like CIA will. If there's another Stansfield Turner down the road, we could wreck our whole intelligence apparatus at a blow -- and the tool for doing it, the precedent that allows the NID to insist on ideological conformity, is now forged.

In addition the danger to covert and clandestine networks, the analysis part of intelligence work above all requires genuine intellectual diversity. That, as we know from education, is the one type of diversity that is not meant when the word "diversity" is included in a document of this type. You need people with a fully developed opinion counter to yours, even if you're right and they are wrong, to keep you honest and keep you from getting lazy. You need the challenge.

Consider this debate at Winds of Change, on the subject of whether democracy promotion will in fact reduce terrorism. That's a healthy debate. I side with the pro-democracy argument, but it is clear that an argument is still required, and evidence is yet to be gathered that will inform the argument.

The NIS short-circuits the argument entirely. Democracy promotion is the #3 "strategic objective." If an analyst wants to argue that, in a particular country for particular reasons, it may not be wise to back an apparently democratic movement (e.g., as it turned out not to be wise to back Castro in Cuba), he will now face a substantial risk to his career. He may, in fact, leave "the company" altogether. While he may be wrong most of the time, he may be right on this one occasion. Even if he isn't right, his presence makes the other analysts work harder getting their facts and getting them straight. He's the mark of a healthy intel service, even if he hates the President's guts and is utterly opposed to the policies being put forward -- whoever the President might be.

Again, I can understand why this particular President feels like this is a necessary step. Nevertheless, I think both the NID concept, and this NIS, are extremely unwise.

Two final, unrelated points:

1) The focus of the NIS on asymmetrical threats ignores real symmetrical threats, which could easily be as or more dangerous than any terrorist organization.

Job #1 is counter-terrorism. Job #2 is anti-WMD. Job #3 is democracy promotion. Yet isn't one of the biggest intel threats and challenges China? China isn't a terrorist nation or a terror-supporter; they're happy to prevent the spread of WMD (having foremost in their minds the examples of Taiwan and Japan); and democracy promotion in China, though a worthwhile goal, doesn't really get at the particular nature of the threat posed by China. The place where we need to be building intel assets in China isn't inside its democracy movements, but inside the navy. That's where we will get any forewarning of an invasion of Taiwan.

2) It's good that "the protection of privacy and civil liberties" is mentioned in the strategy. But absent, so far as I can see, is any call for a robust declassification process for information that no longer needs to be secret. The best defense against intelligence services' capability to do evil is sunshine. Of course, sunshine makes it impossible for them to do good as well, so it has to be applied judiciously. When we can, however, we who are citizens of the Republic ought to know what our government has been doing with its secret forces. That is a critical need for the long-term health of the Republic in my opinion, and it deserves more attention.


The USS Constellation

While doing some research on modern Sigma-class corvettes, I came across this site which treats the "restoration" of the USS Constellation, in Baltimore harbor. I've seen her, but was not aware of the history behind the ship.

During 1852-53 the old 38-gun frigate USS Constellation, a contemporary of USS Constitution, was broken up at Gosport (Norfolk), VA. At the same time, in the same yard, a new 22-gun sloop-of-war was constructed, and was given the old frigate's name. This new vessel was commissioned in 1855. To get around a Congressional prohibition on new ship construction, the new sloop-of-war was considered a "repair" of the old frigate, but she was actually a new ship.

In 1956 the sloop-of-war, by then aged and deteriorated, was donated to a museum group in Baltimore. This group wished to portray the ship as the 1797 frigate, not the 1855 sloop, so they "restored" her by cutting away bulwarks and decks. This weakened her hull structure, and contributed to her eventually [sic] deterioration.
Apparently the restoration included cutting gunports into her bulwarks, so she would look more like what we think of as an "age of sail" fighting ship. The photographs show the process of restoring the "restored" ship, and getting her back out on the water.

Well, she may not be what she's been made out to be, but she cuts a fine figure. Pity, though: an 1855 sloop-of-war would have been a good display piece also, and a better teaching tool. Few people today realize how small and poorly-equipped the US Navy was at that point. Yet, within ten years, it had grown to such a size as to be able to conduct a massive naval blockade that eventually closed every port of the Confederate States of America.

The CSA helped out a bit, by making a notable error: it chose to forgo the purchase of a fleet of ready-made warships that the British had to offer, instead spending the monies it had on the construction of a few modern raiders, such as the infamous USS Alabama. If they'd taken the British up on their offer, they might have been the ones with the momentum to stage a naval blockade. The US Navy, in 1861, was in no shape to stop one.

Anyway, have a look.


A Political Victory:

Harriet Miers withdrew today. I wish her well, and do truly regret that this whole episode was necessary. May she find that the rest of her career is rewarding and successful.

When the president makes his next selection, I hope he will be guided by the lessons learned here. Certainly enough has been written about this nomination to provide a full guide to what a nominee ought to provide. The Court, and the Republic, deserves no less.



Captain Tyler Swisher, commanding Easy company. He has one of those biographies that remind you what is great about America. He had quite a few hardships and obstacles he was born with, but it never stopped him. Through hard work and devotion he gained an education, rank, and a position of high honor.

Corporal Benny Gray Cockerham III. JHD knew him, so I will let him say what ought to be said.

Lance Corporal Kenneth James Butler. He was a bullrider.

Duct Tape

If You Can't Duct It...

I broke my toe about a week ago, and have been hobbling around ever since. Actually, I can walk pretty well, as long as (a) I duct-tape the broken toe to the toe next to it, and (b) don't walk too fast. Today, a week or so on, I decided to try going without the duct tape, but it didn't go too well.

In tribute, then, I offer Duct Tape Uses and Duct Tape fashions as a guide to other things you can do with the stuff. It's just real handy.


Two from Greyhawk:

Hawk has a post today about an organization of particularly admirable women in Iraq. I can't express my pleasure at having read of their adventures.

He also has a helpful suggestion for shrinking the OODA loop.

4th rail

The 4th Rail:

My colleague and friend, Bill Roggio of the 4th Rail, is heading to Iraq to embed with a Marine unit. He would appreciate your support in making it happen.

I've enjoyed working with Bill, and I think we've all been impressed with his work at the 4th Rail: he has really hit his stride this autumn, and has been producing some of the best writing on Iraq out there. Good hunting, Bill.

Two More

And Two More:

2/2's Warlords lost two more on Friday. The names are now being released.

Lance Corporal Kenneth J. Butler.

US Navy corpsman Petty Officer Chris Thompson.

"I can't let my Marines go without me," Chris Thompson, 25, told his father, just before shipping out on his second combat tour. "I take care of them."
His brother David is also a Navy corpsman assigned to Marines. There's a family I'd be proud to know.


Men, Women, And Why You Should Not Worry:

Glenn Reynolds links to another post on the topic that seems to be causing a constant fret among blogosphere academics, the Men/Women ratio at college. The post is by Ginny at Chicagoboyz, and treats her thoughts and experiences in dealing with young men and women.

The lady has some good thoughts, and I think she even backs into the answer to the problem that concerns her. Unhappily, being overly concerned with people's feelings, she doesn't recognize the solution when she strikes it. That more or less captures the entire business.

After describing herself as "quiet and embarrassed" over a dispute with a colleague on the question, she then reflects that "anger speaking is seldom thought speaking." Her "gut-level anger is also from mothering," which gives rise to fears that her own sons will be distorted by being taught that they are oppressors of women [UPDATE: or possibly that her daughters will be bent by believing men are their enemies?]. She thinks that famed blogosphere psychologist Dr. Helen "is right to draw our attention to this, to worry us with it." And then she proceeds to worry a lot more.

As does Dr. Helen. There, and here also, in spite of some very sharp comments that ought to assuage the concern.

Well, don't worry. Men are pretty good at sorting out problems. It's what we do.

For example, you shouldn't worry -- as she does -- that "The twenty-first century, like the nineteenth, may lead to an even more intense feminization of American culture." Let's examine that for a moment.

When you think of the 19th century, what do you think of? There are some notably feminine images: Queen Victoria, the suffrage movement, the temperance movement. That's about it, though, right? Maybe a few poets and writers?

Queen Victoria was no problem for men. Quite the opposite. Victoria presided over a great masculine reawakening in England, in which art and poetry and literature were joined to engineering and warfighting. The image of the youthful Queen, thrust suddenly into the perils of power, caused the whole nation to remember the King, Arthur, and to take up the sword he cast away. The writings of Lord Tennyson are some of the highest expressions of what men are and ought to be: and they came right out of this dynamic.

The suffrage and temperance movements were certainly problematic for men, who were beaten about the heads by them for half a century. Still, in time they ran their course; women still vote, but beer is back on the shelves. Men survived.

The rest of the 19th century is a great masculine canvas. We remember the Kate Chopins, but only because they were women. The great writers of the 19th Century, with the possible exception of Jane Austen, were all men: Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Sir Walter Scott, Tennyson and Lord Byron, the writers and poets who can stand on their own are almost exclusively men. And that's in the very temple of the female empire of the modern academy, literature. Take any other field of human endeavour, and see where the women are. The 19th century was a grand adventure of engineering, war, travel, thought, and right at the forefront were men in every case.

Is it really any different today? How many of the great bloggers are women, even with women making up the grand majority of students of writing and literature? How many bioengineers are women, as we stand poised on the start of a new adventure? How many soldiers, as we look towards decades of trying to keep and extend the peace and the order of the West? How many police officers, with terrorism and smuggling the two great concerns of the day?

More, certainly, than in the 19th century. We have made room for women. More than that -- we actively encourage and support them. We are glad to have them along. Some of them, the best of them, stand equal with any of us. I myself don't know what I would do without two of the three most important people in my life, my wife and Sovay. Both are women, and quite remarkable ones.

Yet we are told we ought to worry because a lot more women are getting degrees in literature, psychology, sociology, and the like. If I spare a moment to worry about this, I'll worry about the women. Good luck to them: but it sounds like they're being set up to spend their lives not making much of a difference in the world around them.

If the 19th century is the model, it is the century that saw the foundation of the Texas Rangers and the gambling of Doc Holliday, the great British adventures in India and Afghanistan, the end of slavery on the high seas, the Civil War, and the rise of Teddy Roosevelt. If the 21st century does as much for muscular masculinity as the 19th, we'll be in fine shape indeed.

Ginny backs into this answer at several points, but never quite seems to realize it. She mentions the winning of the West. She hits the answer full on right here:

I suspect they will find other worlds to conquer – and if they have to learn something to get there, they will teach themselves. And, because they want to make money and women want them to make money, our system may be changed in ways that by-pass an increasingly hostile establishment.
That should have been the moment that this whole train of thought went roaring off White Oak mountain. That's exactly right. Society, and the market, will adjust itself -- and men will meet them halfway. They'll learn what they need to know to be where they need to be. If the great concerns of the new century are terrorism, homeland defense, technology and engineering, guess who will be there filling the largest part of the critical roles? The most dangerous jobs, which will consequently -- and increasingly -- command greater and greater respect and pay? The movement is already on: Border Patrol Agents, for example, have in the last few years received an increase in their maximum rate of pay to the GS-11 level. The military has seen one pay raise after another, as the volunteer military tries to compete with the market for manpower. Both jobs increasingly involve academic pursuits, even if they don't involve formal college: second (and subsequent) languages, studies in regional history and cultural awareness. It used to be that every man, however poorly schooled, knew how to mix black powder and pour bullets out of liquid lead. Now, it may be that men who don't go much beyond high school can still speak several languages and know the internal structures of a number of local tribes. If men turn less often to the old institutions for education, they will still be out there learning whatever they need to know.

It may be, in other words, that it is the institutions that are becoming obsolete -- not the men. That's a problem for someone, but I don't see why it should be a problem for men. It seems to me like a problem for those people -- say, women -- who are increasingly attaching their hopes to a foundering social institution. The liberal arts college is not necessarily the best place to learn even the liberal arts, anymore. It's certainly not the best place to get a classical education. The Marine Corps reading list will introduce you to many of the great classics of literature, and they'll teach you discipline and manners and the school of arms, too. If you're an officer, you'll spend half your life in schools of one type or another. You want to be a man like Washington or Robert E. Lee, Roosevelt or Jefferson? Join the military.

I think there is no cause for concern. Let as many women go to college as wish to do so. Good on them! Good luck to them! It does not hurt us men at all. We have our own concerns, and our own adventures, and let each man choose his according to his best hopes and abilities.



All too soon, Grim's Hall must again join the families of the 2/2 Marines in mourning the deaths of fighting men.

Staff Sergeant Rick Pummill.

Lance Corporal Andrew David Russoli.

Lance Corporal Steve Szwydek.

Also, JHD sends a link to a monument of his own:

I did a small tribute to the Beirut Marines we lost in 83. And yeah, I KNOW is was Oct 23 and not the 22 but they were 8 hours ahead. We had just pulled into the Charleston Harbor from our successful run to supply Beirut when we got the news. It was around 2200 on the 22nd so I always mark that time and date. I received three e-mails telling me I had the wrong date.
May the next world be a better place for these men. Yet if it is not, I imagine they will set about making it so.
An armed society isn't always a polite society. Example: Brazil.

But even so, Brazilians appear to recognize that if you outlaw guns, then only the criminals will have them. So, it seems that a referendum to ban gun sales to citizens has been defeated.

Something to be said for the wisdom crowds, I gather.

USMC Monument

We Are Reminded:

That is the purpose of monuments, such as this one at the head of Forsyth Park, down in Savannah, Georgia. The tag to the photo notes that the monument was laid in 1947, to honor Marine Corps dead from Chatham County. What it does not note -- a remarkable omission -- is that the monument has become a tomb.

There was a time in my life when I knew the sergeant's name by heart, but I must admit that it has been so long since I was in Savannah that I cannot now recall it to mind. I can't quite make it out on the photo. I do remember when he died: in the bombing of the Marine barracks, twenty-two years ago today.

I guess a lot of people don't realize it is a tomb as well as a monument. One day, long ago now, I was walking down in Savannah with two Marines I knew, one of whom was a young man I had grown up with and known almost all of my life. He was in Savannah to visit me, following a USMC Reserve exercise he'd been part of, and had brought along one of his unit mates. I was happy to put them up and show them around the town.

As we were walking through Forsyth Park, we came to that monument, which is at the head of it. While we were standing there reflecting on it, a young jogger wearing headphones came running by. He lept up on top of the monument without breaking stride, did a little dance, hopped down and ran off again.

It was all done so nonchalantly that I can't help but think he did not know that he was, literally, dancing on a man's grave. I know that he avoided a bad time that day only because the three of us were so completely shocked that we couldn't accept that we had really seen what we had seen until he was already half a block away from us.

"Comrade, tread lightly." The world is full of graves.


"The Far Line of Sand"

The Belmont Club has an excellent post on littoral warfare, and US Navy efforts to prepare for its increased importance. Another critical warfighting system here is the Virginia class submarine, which is always under attack from Congressional budget cutters (giant bridges to nowhere in Alaska, yes; important naval warships, no).

A little known truth about submarines is this: the diesel ones, which are put into battle by third-world nations like Chile, are stealthier than ours. For one thing, you can turn a diesel engine completely off, rendering it perfectly silent. You can lay on the bottom, listen for anything suspicious on your sonar, and give it a torpedo. This is one thing that gives rise to what Wretchard accurately notes: the US Navy may rule the blue water, but it isn't currently capable of dominating close-to-shore conflicts. This is important: Taiwan, the Malacca straits, and a number of other potentially critical battlespaces are exactly where we are vulnerable to third-world (i.e., asymmetrical) power.

The whole battle with submarines is information, and stealth is a huge part of that battle. Stealth is how you keep information about your subs away from the enemy: where are they, what is their course, what do I need to know to program a torpedo to hit it? Because we are wedded to nuclear technology, partially because we need the range-without-refuelling that you can't get with diesels, we have to make up with high-level information technology what we are losing in stealth.

Braiding in C4ISR technology with advanced stealth technology is the only way to make up for what we're losing by not being able to field diesels. Once again, the symmetry/asymmetry model means that we have to be at our very best to compete with people who aren't nearly as capable on their own.