history

Ungratefulness: The root of modern evil

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 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.~Hebrews 13:5-6

One issue I am striving to overcome since returning from Afghanistan, is my persistent displeasure with fellow Americans who don’t seem to realize how good they have it, with how much tough work went in to making this country, with the willing sacrifices that were made, and mostly just how outrageously easy the day to day life of an American really is. The thoughts of the cellulite-ridden mall shoppers standing in line complaining about this or that is a national embarrassment.

The ungrateful person is not concerned about others, he does not complain about injustice so much as their own momentary discomfort, without a second thought about their relative situation. The ungrateful person manifests many of the deadly sins, mostly sloth and gluttony and envy. Since the ungrateful person’s appetites can never be sated, work is seen as evil, since it gets the person no closer to satisfying his personal needs ( an impossibility), this results in sloth. The ungrateful person, paradoxically, never stops trying to satisfy himself, thus gluttony often results, and not only in the overeating of food, but in the hoarding of useless trinkets, clothes, etc, firmly entrenching in him severe materialism. Finally, despite his laziness and his hoarding, he always wishes to have what his neighbor has, and in fact he wishes that his neighbor would lose some of what he has.

Ultimately the ungrateful society is primarily comprised of people without any real skills. They expect all of their needs, including their personal safety, to come from outside sources. As such, they make increasingly poor decisions for themselves. Our state and society has become the great enabler of the ungrateful person, encouraging a plague of horrible personal decisions among its citizens.

An ungrateful society loses its sense of perspective, its ability to tell good from bad, evil from holy. Soon, the democratic state which supports an ungrateful people finds itself the victim of its own populism. It throws money about, just as did the Roman emperors who gained the throne via assassination; they baited Rome’s soldiers and citizenry with exorbitant amounts of money, merely to mollify them. The result backfired utterly, as a people so eligible for purchase will be the first to sink the dagger in the back of the next ruler. Discipline disintegrated. These emperors would have done better for themselves had they offered the money, then had crucified anyone who took it.

An ungrateful society finds itself unable to protect itself at a personal or national level.  The weight of self-defense is placed on emergency services. The same skills that are necessary for the individual farmers of history, be they from ancient Greece, Rome or even the original settles of America translate well to that of soldier. Thus, these people were extraordinary fighters, hardy, resilient, cunning, grateful with little. In those societies, before they began to crumble and while they still maintained the visage of nobility and strength, even the aristocrats were able to live ascetically when needed. Make no mistake, George Washington was an aristocrat. Yet he drove himself as he did his troops at Valley Forge. Eventually ungrateful people are overwhelmed by hardier peoples.

Now, I understand that “ungrateful” can be relative, that circumstances can always become so uncomfortable that anyone would complain. Still, when we look at our wealth and the trivial nature of our complaints, can anyone truly say that most are justified? Where are the days when a beer, a cup of coffee, a good book, the beach, were enough? It’s not to say that we should not strive to be better, but our gluttony is destroying us. Clearly, as a people, we have asked far more from our nation than we have put in to it. History’s largest debt supports my thesis. When I hear people complain about the weather, even though it is not hurting any plans, even though they don’t have a job that requires them to be out in the weather, when I hear people complain about perfectly good food, about how walking is hard, breathing is hard, thinking is hard….well I complain about their incessant complaining. Life just isn’t that difficult for me.

Ungrateful people are outraged by nature itself. Someone, the government most likely, should do something to make it all ok. The government should stop hurricanes, make it warmer, make it colder, stop hunger, stop war. The government. If the power goes out, it’s outrage against the government. We’ve become so weak that everything is an outrage. Am I hallucinating, or was it against the rules as a child to even complain about the food on the table in the 1970s? What were the options? Go hungry or eat. Are we doing our children, the world a favor by scrambling for a food that tastes better? As parents are we so stupid as to not know what is actually good for our 3 year old?

I stand by my words, that America past was better than America present. That our people were better.  That ungratefulness is the root of our problems, our debt, our gluttony, our lack of important skill, our welfare system, the root of feminism, socialism, liberalism.

In parting I’ll leave you with a tract from Livy’s, The Early History of Rome. Ask yourself, does it portend our ending?

I invite the reader’s attention to the much more serious consideration of the kind of lives our ancestors lived, of who were the men, and what the means both in politics and war by which Rome’s power was first acquired and subsequently expanded; I would then have him trace the process of our moral decline, to watch, first, the sinking of the foundations of morality as the old teaching was allowed to lapse, the the rapidly increasing disintegration, then the final collapse of the whole edifice, and the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them. …no country has ever been greater or purer than ours or richer in good citizens and noble deeds; none has been free for so many generations from the vices of avarice and luxury; nowhere have thrift and plain living been for so long held in such esteem. Indeed, poverty, with us, went hand in hand with contentment. Of late years wealth has made us greedy, and self-indulgence has brought us, though every sensual excess, to be, if I may so put it, in love with death both individual and collective.

Go Tell the Spartans, here lays Mickey Mouse

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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.

But no.

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:

1.a. Unimportant; trivial: “It’s a Mickey Mouse operation compared to what goes on in Lyons or Paris” (Jack Higgins); b. Irritatingly petty: the school’s Mickey Mouse requirements for graduation.
2. Intellectually unchallenging; simple: His Mickey Mouse assignments soon bored the students.
3. Melodramatic or sentimental. Used especially of popular music.

Here’s the Commissars, err, Courtesy Patrol. Wait, they’re out of regs. Who knew. As commentators on this post pointed out, no one can follow all the regs all the time. There’s too many. “Let’s first start off by putting a picture with the article where the Soldiers are within AR 670-1. The two middle Soldiers have ink pens/pencils showing in uniform – not IAW with AR 670-1, 1-14.2” “They are within the current regulations. AR 670-1 is so far out of date, I can’t even keep track of how many ALARACT messages are in place to update it. ALARACT 140/2007 para 4 states “PENS/PENCILS WORN IN THE PEN/PENCIL SLOTS ON THE ACU COAT CAN BE EXPOSED. NOTE: THERE ARE NO STIPULATIONS ON THE COLORS OF PENS/PENCILS WORN IN THE SLOTS ON THE ACU COAT.”” Yes, the proper wear of pencils and pens is indicative of military discipline. Pathetic.

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.

Alexander in the Af-Pak War

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America no longer has the will to fight and win wars.  If our enemies are able to weather our airstrikes, we are wholly unprepared at nearly every level to place sufficient pressure on fanatical guerrillas whom find war a preferable state to peace.  Never in history has an army enjoyed such a monopoly on firepower and mobility as does America, and yet been so unwilling to use it. 

We are blessed by the geographical bulwarks of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and cursed with partisan demagogues in Washington who know little of military history or the culture of war.  Perfectly willing to start a war, the politicians don’t want to hear what it takes to win it.  No matter how much data multi-million dollar computer networks feed those in the Pentagon and Congress, few of the recipients of that data can feel our wars; the data crunchers and politicos can know the wars, but the visceral sensations of ground commanders and grunts will always be beyond them, as thus we can assume that almost all of their decisions will prove inadequate.  When war does not fit into comfort zones or proffered theories, many believe we just need to try harder to make the theories work.  Few would question the theories themselves lest horrible answers become truths.  

Washington’s elites are safe when we lose.  The 25 year old squad leader in Afghanistan is not. 

The quaint mythologies of counterinsurgency theorems have us following a Yellow Brick Road paved by Non-Governmental Agencies and State Department aid money.  We hoped that Oz was a place where suicidal zealots laid down their rifles and stopped making bombs in exchange for a school house and a new pair of shoes.  When the curtain was thrown aside to reveal the Wizard, we saw his bloody hand raised skyward, grasping the severed head of the school teacher.  And even when the sheer brutality and power of the Taliban terrorist revealed itself, we refused to believe what we saw.  We prefer to think that all men want peace, that brutality doesn’t work, and that killing cannot be the answer.  Convenient dreams for those in Washington whose greatest daily danger is a Tweeted revelation of sexual misconduct.  We question ourselves whereas the men of old, seeing the world more clearly than do we, quickly identified the problem and dealt with it.  Swimming is oceans of information, we find it more difficult to choose proper paths, but the ancient warriors of yore, though lacking technological aids—perhaps because he lacked those aids—instinctively discerned human psychology. 

Enter Alexander The Great.  Imagine for a moment that future technologies could spring the Macedonian king back to life and the modern social and political delusions that prevent decisive victories in war have vanished by the wayside.  Now place Alexander in command of history’s most powerful military and charge him with defeating the insurgency in Afghanistan.  First, we’ll have to listen to Alexander give us a history lesson.  Contrary to revisionists whom extol the invincibility of Afghans fighters, Alexander was never defeated by the people inhabiting the land we now call Afghanistan.  And then he would tell us that his tutor, Aristotle, wasn’t about giving peace a chance; the father of Western philosophy implored young Alexander to force Hellenistic ethnic supremacy upon the world of the barbarians. 

To the Neo-Alexander, defeating the Taliban begins with an offer to meet insurgent leadership at the bargaining table.  And here’s the offer: Submit or die.  This language resonates with the Taliban at a far deeper level than does the current Coalition Force offers of reintegration and power sharing.  A reasonable man, Alexander offers the Taliban their religion and way of life in exchange for their weapons.  The sovereign lines of the Pakistani border mean nothing.  They are semi-porous membranes that hold back American power and allow insurgents to move freely to and from their safe havens in Pakistan.  In response to each suicide bomber making his way from Western Pakistan, Alexander orders biometric identification through DNA testing, and using covert CIA intelligence cells seeded throughout Pakistan, identifies the village from which the suicide bomber originated. The Macedonian orders B-2 bomber and Reaper drone strikes on all known Madrassas in the village.  No apologies are offered for civilian casualties.  The retributive strikes are timely and painful.  The suicide bombers quickly transform from heroes to sources of great pain in the villages.  Soon, being a suicide bomber is disgraceful, not honorable. 

The terrorists resort to using their greatest weapon: The media.  In response, all media embeds are ordered to leave Afghanistan.  Journalists stream into North and South Waziristan, hoping to document American atrocities.  Members of the Haqqani Network set up ad hoc repeater stations, hoping to broadcast propaganda from small, handheld Motorola VHF radios.  America counters by dropping electromagnetic pulse bombs at random intervals into the tribal areas.  These weapons destroy any modern electronic equipment, leaving journalists to their pens and notebooks and Haqqani insurgents to courier communications.  

As for terrorist infiltration along the Pakistan border,  Alexander knows that not every infiltrator can be stopped.  However, it is possible to make crossing into Afghanistan too painful a gamble.  Areas along the border are declared free-fire zones.  Approximately 5 kilometers on each side of the border are free-fire; that is, since the areas are assumed cleared, anyone in those areas can be fired on.  The 5 kilometer range allows for ranges of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and Haqqani Network rocket fire, such as which killed two American Soldiers at FOB Salerno in May of 2011 (with no punitive action taken by the US military out of respect to our Pakistani “friends”). 

Entire villages will be held accountable for the actions of individuals that live within them.  Villagers in Afghanistan always know what goes on within the village.  Villages where US forces are attacked will be subject to curfews and those found to be involved in insurgent activity shall be given a field trial by US military officers and if found guilty, executed.  Special Operations night raids and air assaults will be constant in areas infested with Taliban, al-Qaeda and Haqqani fighters.  Protests by villagers about the night raids will be ignored, as most of these protests are spawned by agitated insurgents. The cooperation of local villagers is the goal, but America under Alexander will place the safety of her troops and the destruction of the insurgency above the safety of villagers.  Civilian casualties will be avoided when possible, but local Afghans will need to provide intelligence and information to American forces in order to ensure that America kills the right people.  Otherwise, the insurgents will merely use civilains as living shields.  Cooperation will help both the Afghans and America.  The “sanctity” of the people will no longer be assumed; entire populations can be just as evil as individuals.  The terrorists will be held to the same standards that the US military is held.  All war crimes will be prosecuted in the field if possible. 

The shrines of dead al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters will be closely monitored by payed CIA informants.  Sympathizers who come to venerate terrorist grave sites will be followed, and at a convenient time, interviewed and their biometric data entered into a huge data base known as BATS–Biometrically Automated Toolset.  These people will be placed on watch lists, denied entry to US bases, and denied the possibility of serving within Afghan government security forces for 5 years.  Individuals assessed to be of a higher threat level shall be denied access and government work on a permanent basis. 

Alexander will reward the friends of America.  India, the largest democracy on Earth, will be provided special trade rights.  She has earned it.  A full embargo of Pakistan will commence.  We have treated our enemies better than our friends in hopes that our goodwill would bring them to our side.  But they mistook our goodwill for weakness.  Those who fought bravely beside us, such as Britain, did not get 4 billion dollar rewards, such as did Pakistan. 

Every chance will be given to those in the Federally Administered tribal Region of Pakistan to formally surrender Siraj and Jallaludin Haqqani, the familial leaders of the Haqqani Network.  America will make war for a better peace denied her by maniacs.   Letters will dropped in each village in North and South Waziristan, telling the inhabitants to give up their weapons and submit to searches of their residences.  Aggressive actions taken by Pak military units will result in 5,000 lb GBU-28 Penetrator Bombs being dropped on all Pakistani nuclear missile sites, which have been carefully tracked by the National Ground Intelligence Center and the National Geospatial Agency for years.   Alexander–a genius at war–knows that this war will escalate.  All wars escalate.  But no one can out-escalate the United States Military.  

Villages not wishing to submit to search will be given 24 hours notice to evacuate.  Then the village will be razed by Fire Support Teams (FIST) utilizing 155 mm Howitzer fire and B-52 Arc Light strikes and tactical airstrikes under the guidance of Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) teams.  Not only will there be no apologies for these actions, Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) units will broadcast images of the destruction to other villages, warning them of the implications of resistance. 

Anything less than the above guarantees an American defeat in Afghanistan.  If our leaders cannot do what Alexander would do, they should save the blood of our Soldiers and Marines and bring them home.  And they should never again begin or escalate a war for political gain if they don’t intend to win it. 

 

 

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