It is vain to do with more what can be done with less. ~William of Occam
In an age of drastic military cuts set against a background of international instability and conflict, a sane person could be excused for thinking the US Army would have to cut out as much nonsense as possible in order to assure it fulfill its central role: winning wars.
Instead the Army has upped its impressive resume for pettiness. Big Brother is watching, not just the Taliban and al-Qaeda, but our own Soldiers. “Courtesy Patrols” skulk the halls of PXs and commissaries, ready to pounce on the heretics who’d dare talk on a cell phone while walking. Soldiers at some posts are assigned the duty of policing for small violation of regulations on Army posts. The title “Courtesy Patrol” is an interesting manipulation of language, a key aspect of all authoritarian regimes, and reminiscent of Orwell’s observation that “pacification” is a term used when the military bombs a village. Courtesy. The Army is doing Soldiers a favor. Honest. These courtesy patrols even keep their eyes peeled for the exposed underwear of Army spouses. Who could make this stuff up?
There’s a problem, though. No one cares except the Commissars.
As a cop, I learned that enforcing laws with no moral force earns not only scorn for the law, but scorn for the enforcers of those laws. Rules concerning walking whilst talking on cell phones hold no moral force. None. Nada. Zilch. Want Soldiers to hate the Army (many do), just institute and enforce regulations that hold no moral force. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn stated, morality is above the law, always. If murder were legal, murder would still be wrong, just as lying is now legal but wrong under most circumstances. The US Army’s Commissars believe they are maintaining discipline with small rules, controlling every aspect of a Soldier’s life. In truth the Commissars are merely bored. The Long War is now short. The Commissars have to hurry to ensure their careers have meaning. After two COIN debacles, the idea that senior Army officials will now have to sit virtually inert signing leave forms is driving these Type A personalities bonkers. So it’s now to making petty rules, to make sure every Soldier knows the importance of the Commissars. Reflective belts, cell phone rules, mustache regs, the, the power!! Lost to the authoritarians in the Army is that we suck at fighting. For the billions of dollars spent on the Long War, barely an American benefited. A witch’s brew of multicultural nonsense and bad strategy, Americans got robbed. Making petty rules is easy, winning wars is tough. Any high school student can make up inane rules and assign them arbitrary relation to “discipline.” It takes real genius to win wars. Real discipline is bravery. Fake discipline is rote memorization. Now, I know some will excuse this as all part of military rigor. Nope. There’s a historic term for this BS. It’s called Mickey Mouse, an old military pejorative.
The Free Online Dictionary defines as the slang use of Mickey Mouse as:
Soldiers are crushed under a mountain of petty regulation that have nothing to do with the reasons armies exist and nothing to do with the reason people join the Army. Entire days and weeks are spent completing “online training”, surveys, and certifications. Staff Soldiers often have no time to train skills fundamental to fighting modern wars, such as using radios. We are well on our way to a Hollow Force, a military in which blocks are checked but can’t win wars. The Hollow Force will be great at wasting Americans money, allowing its citizens to be killed, and conducting meetings in which Mickey Mouse and the Commissars can share ideas on how to enforce discipline. Count me out.
Instead, the Commissars and Authoritarians would be better off taking advantage of the odd psychological aspects of victims of Stockholm Syndrome. People under the influence of Stockholm Syndrome come to worship their captors should they be allowed the most basic of human necessity. Merely being allowed to use a toilet is interpreted as god-like righteousness on the part of terrorists. Cutting out the petty regulations in the Army would probably result in an increase in morale more than commensurate with the actual impact on daily life. Moreover, many good Soldiers would gain respect for an an organization that realizes rules and laws should have something to do with morality, and in the Army, winning wars is moral. The military’s rules are bound by Natural Law, just as are all good rules. No matter how some try, they cannot find true outrage at those walking and talking on cell phones. Yet they will still fight and die for the American way of life. Like a fat Soldier, the Army is carrying too much flesh, so much so that it’s hindering the mission. Cut the fat, and by fat this isn’t just concerning budgets.
The Wikipedia entry on the Authoritarian Personality notes:
Alfred Adler provided another perspective, linking the “will to power over others” as a central neurotic trait, usually emerging as aggressive over-compensation for felt and dreaded feelings of inferiority and insignificance. According to this view, the authoritarian’s need to maintain control and prove superiority over others is rooted in a worldview populated by enemies and empty of equality, empathy, and mutual benefit.
Note to the Commissars: Our Founding Fathers were anti-authoritarian. Read some Thomas Jefferson and put down AR 670-1 for a few hours. The Army defends the foundation upon which our country stands, not 670-1.
We are becoming an Army of Martinets, not the Spartans of Thermopylae that so many military people adore. So, think, are we upholding our Western values in our own Army? The epigram, placed upon the grave of the Spartans that saved Western Civilization, read:
Stranger, bear this message to the Spartans,
that we lie here obedient to their laws.
What laws did they speak of? The eternal laws, Natural Law, that great men fight and die for foundational values, not minutiae that only small minds find important. I’d first have that every Soldiers carry a copy of Sun Zsu’s Art of War and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense before AR 670-1. Freedom is the reason the Army exists.
“[A Constitution is] not an act of government but of a people constituting a government and a government without a constitution is a power without right…”Thomas Paine
The strength of America used to be its people. Now America’s strength is geography. If the French Third Republic was surrounded by two massive oceans, it, too, may still exist. Instead, the Third Republic was pulverized by a more vital foe, in the form of the German Third Reich. France tried to fortify its own geography when it built the Maginot Line. So dilapidated was France’s will to exist, so stunted its creativity, the Republic’s military could not see the simple solution to defeating the Maginot defenses: Go around it, through Belgium.
Contrary to popular myth, France did not have a weak military. In fact, it was the strongest in Europe, at least on paper. Though German tanks like the Tiger and Panther are the most talked about tanks of WWII, those tanks were relatively rare and did not exist until near the end of the war. France’s intellectual and spiritual dynamism had been gutted after WWI. Just as in modern America, the Left and Right in France became bitter enemies. France’s Right, much like America’s, ( and my own beliefs), believed that the left had lead France into decadence, and the depression of the 1930s fed the country’s cynicism. Sound familiar? Corruption had infected the political, judicial and media systems, culminating in the Dreyfus Affair. The far Right was severely damaged by the event, and the Left surged.
France had no interest in war with Germany. But as Trotsky chimed, war had interest in France. Germany annexed Czechoslovakia and France turned a blind eye, eagerly signing the Munich Agreement in a fruitless attempt to appease Hitler. The rest is history. The once proud French Republic bowed pitifully.
In 1918, France forced the Second Reich to sign an armistice and build a monument which read:
HERE ON THE ELEVENTH OF NOVEMBER 1918 SUCCUMBED THE CRIMINAL PRIDE OF THE GERMAN REICH. VANQUISHED BY THE FREE PEOPLES WHICH IT TRIED TO ENSLAVE.
Now the tables were turned. Evil won. Evil can be more energized than a sedated “good”which violates the Boy Scout Oath: Always Be Prepared. Lazy and sedated is not really good, after all.
I’m going somewhere with this. It’s not about Hitler, The Third Reich, or France; it’s about us. I’ve just taken the long route, as I’m prone to do. My point is that a country’s fate can change very rapidly, especially when internal elites want it to change. The impetus for this article is this piece written by Louis Michael Seidman, published in the New York Times. Seidman is a Constitutional Law professor at Georgetown University. In his op-ed, Seidman contends, essentially, that the United States Constitution should be followed at our leisure, when it is convenient. He defends his position by saying that even some of the Founding Fathers defied the Constitution when they felt it fit, and that currently we spend too much time trying to divine what we thought the Founding Fathers would do instead of just doing what we feel is right.
First off, Seidman comes across as dishonest when he says:
As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is.
His article hardly carries the tone of someone who’s had a recent epiphany on the matter.
Secondly, Seidman is plain wrong. He begins his article with:
AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.
What provision in the Constitution has caused our government to continuously spend more money than it has? Is it the same provision that the Greek Constitution had when Greece spent itself into irrelevance?
I begin to wonder how such a shallow thinker, whom could write the following, could manage a law degree, let alone hold a respected post at an even more respected school:
Nor, finally, should we have an all-powerful president free to do whatever he wants. Even without constitutional fealty, the president would still be checked by Congress and by the states.
Where does Seidman think that such “checks” would come from other than a Constitution?
Seidman’s most disturbing statement is thus:
Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.
So the logic is as follows: When future leaders stop respecting speech and religion, they should be able to abolish the free practice of both by fiat.
Of course, even a Constitution is no guarantee against tyranny. I remember when I was in college, arguing in open class with my Constitutional Law professor, a lawyer, that the Constitution was merely a piece of paper, and that there was nothing special in its words that could compel all men to obey it. She grew furious, eventually storming out of the class and slamming the door. The class was silent for a few minutes, before, finally, two other students said: “I agree with you.”
The professor missed my point, I think, which was not that government and people should do as they please, without regard to the Constitution, but that, as I’ve written recently, nothing absolutely compels them to obey the law except force. Otherwise, the Constitution is a gentleman’s agreement in a world where not everyone is a gentleman.
In David Berlinski’s brilliant book, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions, Berlinski writes the following:
At some time after it became clear that Nazi Germany would lose the Second World War, and before the war had actually been lost, one of the senior party officers–perhaps it was Himmler–in confronting the very complicated series of treaty organizations that Germany had accepted with respect to its satraps, wondered out loud, “What, after all, compels us to keep our promises?” It is a troubling question and one that illustrates anew the remarkable genius for moral philosophy the Nazis enjoyed.
Seidman seems to enjoy the fact that nothing can compel a president to obey a law and thus believes we should remove the outdated shackles of the Constitution from the Executive branch. He proposes checks, but does not indicate from where these checks would draw their power. While it is true that the Constitution probably has faults ( as all human creations must) its brilliance is in its generality, which allows for some flexibility. The Constitution is supposed to be difficult to change, like any work of importance. It can be changed. By amendment…
Moreover, a Constitution, even a flawed one, keeps important ideals highlighted in the mind of a people. It draws a people together, and makes a nation, not just a state. It says, we’re in this thing together and we’ll do our best to make it happen. The Constitution is the glue that keeps our parts from flying into the ether and our people from degrading to tribal warfare.
As it says:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I shy from arguments which summon Hitler. Mostly such arguments seek to shock hearers into agreement. I do not seek this. Well, not only this. Instead, I present the empirical. Hitler, democratically elected, consolidated all powers of the State in the federal government by disintegrating the parliament and he was made Fuhrer.
Many people never dreamed a life-failure like Adolph Hitler could do what he did. A mere corporal in the German Army in WWI, a failure in school, in art, in relationships, a convict. And yet, as Hitler bragged to a British correspondent in Berlin, 1934:
At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense I tell you that the National Socialist movement will go on for 1,000 years! … Don’t forget how people laughed at me 15 years ago when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power!
There’s quite a few now who think it could never happen again. Unlikely? Sure. Impossible? Never. There have always been experts. The French Third Republic and Germany, both the pinnacle of Western civilization in the 30s, were filled with experts who believes these things could never happen. Many of them also spoke and wrote just as Seidman does now. That men will do the right thing out of respect…
As the French Third Republic shows us, a country can go from military supremacy to signing an armistice in defeat, in a flash, and small-minded but energized men can wreck a nation. Our country is lucky, given its present state, that it has two oceans to guard it, and not a rock wall. That we have Canada to our north and not the Third Reich. Our Constitution has served us as no Constitution has ever served a nation, making America the light on the hill. We should jealously guard it, even with our own blood if need be. It should be changed only with solemn consideration and amendment.
So now I leave you with the oath I swore 4 years ago, and plan to carry to whatever end it brings me. I hope my people will follow:
I, Douglas Moore, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
“He wants his home and security, he wants to live like a sailor at sea. Beautiful loser, where you gonna fall, when you realize–you just can’t have it all…he’ll never make any enemies.” ~Beautiful Loser, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band.
Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.~General John Stark
In the world of video games, there is a term that denotes making something decidedly less potent or dangerous: The term is Nerf.
My Army and indeed my country is trying to Nerf my entire world. It does this under the pretext of caring so much for my safety. Our obsession with safety is in fact making us weaker and thus less safe.
I cannot say that I expect nothing from my government. I expect it to smash the hell out of any enemy that tries to destroy our way of life. I expect it to maintain internal security so that people can enjoy their families and the things they have worked for. Thus I expect the government to toss people in jail whom have committed crimes which harm me or my family–or any other American family. I expect my government to defend its sovereign borders so that my country does not become what others without an American ideal want it to be.
What I do not expect of my government is that it protect me from myself. I do not expect the government to worry about the minutia of dangers that confront man everyday. The government cannot protect me from myself as well as I can. The United States Army has become one of the most risk-averse entities in our risk-averse nation. Soldiers must watch hours of safety videos every few months, many many more hours than they fire their rifles on a practice range, and are expected to wear a reflective belt at times, even when off duty in broad daylight, and must wear knee and elbow pads when in a war zone on patrol. Packing lists for Soldiers readying to deploy easily bring to mind a 5 year Soviet planning cycle. Make sure you bring your sewing kit. Who the hell is Sun Tzu? Because of the (most times) well-meaning cry for troop safety, our troops are weighed down with heavy body armor while trouncing over 8000 ft high mountains, exhausting them. Our enemies dance around in man-dresses and sneakers. In my unit, Soldiers pulling CQ duty (a 24 hour duty in which two Soldiers sit at a desk and communicate any problems to the chain of command), have been ordered to stop any Soldiers whom leave the barracks in shorts, because it’s too cold to be outdoors in shorts. Yes, that’s right, a military that helped annihilate the Nazis and nuked Hiroshima is worried about people wearing shorts in the cold during their off-duty hours. Every Friday, Soldiers must endure long speeches from the chain of command about what not to do during the weekend. They must be reminded that slapping their wives is illegal and driving drunk can result in car crashes. If we have Soldiers that are so stupid they require to be told these things every week, well then, I say let them make their mistake and get them out of the Army. Because that guy will probably blow the back of my head off with an accidental discharge from his M4 carbine. Our gown men used to be able to drink beer while deployed to war. No more. In the Vietnam War, US grunts could bye a 24-pack of beer for $2.40. We did better in Vietnam than in Afghanistan, according to authoritative writer, Bing West… We couldn’t have that now, could we? Surely American Soldiers would go on mad rampages across the Hindu Kush, slaying everything in sight. Somehow we beat the British with many of our troops half in the bag. As far as I’m concerned, denying a man a beer while he endures war is not just cruel, it’s downright un-American. The Puritans–those great foes of the Libertine Left– fed kids the stuff for breakfast, but then MADD busted up the party.
Here’s a quote from the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Glenn Beck’s book, Arguing With Idiots:
Candy Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 1980 after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver, but she ended up leaving her own organization. Why? Mission creep. Here’s what she said….
“[MAAD has] become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned…I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol, I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.”
In the same chapter, Beck goes on to explain how legislation has been proposed to install devices on all cars that prevent people from driving drunk. As of now, only people whom have been convicted of DUI can have such devices installed by the government. He goes on to make the point that if we focus on the person offending, and not the tool of the offense, we do a better job in dealing with the problem, and we don’t needlessly bother those whom don’t drink and drive, since the majority of the DUI problems come from repeat offenders. And it’s the same thing when it comes to gun control. Taking away guns from the 99% is a tyranny. Many want to do it because the modern Left simply has a difficult time calling anyone whom is not named Dick Cheney or George Bush, evil.
The true shame of this, is that in the Army, NCOs are told that they are not leading unless they are micromanaging the private and professional lives of the Soldiers that work for them. I simply refuse to live like this or lead other men like this. As a kid, I did all kinds of dangerous things, and I’m proud of it. I never wore a bike helmet, yet rode my bike everywhere. Most of my bikes didn’t even have brakes; I had to use my foot on the rotting (dangerously so) tires, to slow myself. I proudly displayed the scabs and scars on my hands from the times I went over the handlebars on the pavement. Myself and groups of other kids engaged in rock fights and BB gun wars. We threw ice-encrusted snowballs at each others face, hoping to give each other black eyes. I carried a rifle around in the woods, unsupervised, at the age of twelve, shooting cute, furry squirrels until I could hear the weeping of bleeding-heart liberals for miles around. And I felt nothing for it except proud of my outstanding marksmanship….I endured 5 knee operations before the age of 25, all from playing that rough, dangerous sport: Backyard football. I boxed and had my brain concussed.
And every one of us boys is better off for having beat the hell out of ourselves.
And why did I do all of it? Because I don’t want to feel completely safe. I never have. I most certainly don’t want someone else making me safe from everything. I mostly want to be left alone to make my own decisions. I want to learn on my own. I don’t want to go to jail, get a fine, or get demoted in rank for failing to make my Soldiers wear knee pads. I want to live in a country that demotes me because my troops didn’t kill enough Taliban fighters, because my troops didn’t make the enemy quit. I know, I know, that makes me a brute. Yet, our addiction to safety helped us lose the war in Afghanistan. Make no mistake, COIN “warfare” is the child of an addiction to safety. It is a system designed to win wars without fighting the enemy. We hope to build the enemy stuff until he quits, we hope that he becomes as sedated with free stuff from the government as this American generation has become. COIN hopes to keep our Soldiers out of danger, but in reality it makes him so at-risk for lack of ridding the battlefield of armed insurgents, that the American fighter spends most of his time running back and forth between villages and friendly bases, instead of rooting the enemy from his enclaves. March to a village, shake some hands and smile at people lying to you and helping safeguard the people whom will kill you, then hurry the hell back to the base before you get shot.
I enjoy danger in my life. Yeah, there are always things the government could do to make us all safer. But at what cost? Should we make a law mandating all cars be coated in 12 inches of nerf material? I’m sure the guy who gets bumped into at a crosswalk would appreciate it. I measure my danger with what it can provide me. I understand there are some dangers we want to control. For instance, I argued quite vehemently for increased screening at Airports, but I’m against gun-free zones around schools. Why? Because I believe one does what it’s supposed to and the other doesn’t. If there were two airlines to choose from, one offering increased screening and pat-downs before boarding a plane, and one that did not, I would choose to use the one that offered increased screening. If there were two schools to choose from, one with a gun free zone and one without, I would choose the one without, hoping the well-vetted principal with 20 years experience in education is well armed and trained. Get it? I lift Russian kettlebells. There is an element of danger in using these, which makes me enjoy them all the more. Throwing around 70 lb iron balls cannot be made purely safe. My hands get torn up, and I’m damn proud of it. They make me a better person, even if I break a wrist.
I don’t want to be told how to pack my rucksack, how many bars of soap to bring with me to Afghanistan, and I sure don’t want to shave my chest, wear pop-collared polo shirts or gloves while weight lifting. I want to be allowed to not wear knee pads. I want to be allowed to fight when I go to war. In short, I want to be a man and not a giant baby. Let me be a big boy so we can focus on the important stuff, and not the things that end up costing us more in the creation of rules and their enforcement than in any protection we gain. We are a country of laws–too many of them–not of men. Why not think like Bruce Lee, and begin to take away before we add. Less is always more efficient, and maybe we can toughen up a bit and remember what a great feeling it is to be able to do things on our own without having to hope the government will protect us from all evil, and maybe fix our toilet if we whine and play the victim well enough.
Maybe we can teach our kids, again, the value of hard work, self-reliance, responsibility and toughness. A nation of individuals that values those things does not require a government that has to keep them in line.
To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity.~Maximillien Robespierre
The West so easily believes the propaganda of its own enemies. America, forged in the heart of individual freedom, now falls prey to the lies of psuedo-freedom fighters whom throw around the words fascists, tyrants and murderers as if they were play-things. George Bush was a fascist, remember?
And any such individual now becomes the defacto hero of Berkley-ites, mindless anarchists, and 16 year olds with a laptop surfing the internet in Mom’s basement. Unfortunately, the Right falls for it, too. Afterall, who likes tyranny?
But who elected Julian Assange as the arbiter of justice in America? While we hold individualism in sacred honor, in this networked modern world, the individual is capable of nearly as much tyranny as a government. This is not to demote American ideals, only to point out that an individual has no more rights than any other, and that Rule of Law is what our Democracy is founded upon; not mere liberty, which in the hands of some becomes an excuse to do anything they please and hide their lawlessness under a self-woven cloak of freedom.
Government surely should be checked. It must serve its people. But it should not serve a lawless, self-righteous, mob. Our Founding Fathers considered their actions with sober intelligence.
Assange is a modern incarnation of Robespierre, capable of swaying large swaths of people with talk of liberty and denunciations of tyranny. He works knowing that people will fixate on those two words without stopping to consider what they actually mean. But in the end it is a mere self-satisfying power-grab. Also like Robespierre, Assange is capable of almost unspeakable brutality, a brutality that hides itself in the digital, information based world we live in. He is willing to throw away the lives of people he doesn’t even know in order to raise up an ideal in which he doesn’t himself even believe in. And many worship him because he’s one man against a government. They drank Assange’s Kool-Aid. And that Kool-Aid has created a new generation of enrage’s.
Robespierre was willing to slaughter anyone that stood in his way. So is Assange. He is in fact what he accuses the government of being: A Machiavellian construct.
Let’s end with another quote from Robespierre, which one can easily imagine coming from the lips of Assange:
The goal of the constitutional government is to conserve the Republic; the aim of the revolutionary government is to found it… The revolutionary government owes to the good citizen all the protection of the nation; it owes nothing to the Enemies of the People but death… These notions would be enough to explain the origin and the nature of laws that we call revolutionary … If the revolutionary government must be more active in its march and more free in his movements than an ordinary government, is it for that less fair and legitimate? No; it is supported by the most holy of all laws: the Salvation of the People
Beautiful words which poured from the lips of an utterly brutal ideologue.
Not surprisingly, airline security is carrying on the great American and European tradition of punishing the masses for the misdeeds of the few.
The rules are being stacked on top of rules. But rules reach a point of severely diminished returns at some point. Then they start to weigh down the system and create a general disrespect for authority.
And like government gun grabs, only the good guys tend to obey the rules. My feeling is this: We know the system failed in this instance. Rectify the specific leaks in security, and go after the people that are trying to kill Americans. Don’t succumb to the pathologies of bureaucracy, bundling the system in gobs of red tape until it can’t move.