THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 336 November 15 - 21, 2004
Highlights this week:
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November 15, 2004
I am slowly recovering from the crud. I have a lunch appointment with someone newly returned from the Gulf, which may generate some text. Things were sparse over the weekend: lots of mail but no energy to deal with it. I intend to recover.
I have said this before but it is worth repeating:
I daily thank heaven for:
which is a nasal pump thing that opens up my nasal passages and sinuses enough to let me breathe. Without it I'd be addicted to nose drops, which are pretty awful things.
In fact I am not sure how I would have got through this without being able to blast open my nasal passages for a night's sleep.
|This week:||Tuesday, November
Still recovering. About to be off for a walk. Some words on Colin Powell when I get back.
I had lunch yesterday with a newly returned Intelligence officer who worked in HQ. in the Gulf for the past couple of years. Most of what I learned confirmed what I thought: we have a splendid army for defeating enemies with whom we maintain contact. If we can find it, we can kill it, and we have the ability to hold vast spaces with small forces. The ratio of forces to space is a key concept in military analysis but everything we thought we knew about it is false, just as the old notion of strength as the ratios of the squares of the forces involved is no longer meaningful when comparing the modern US force to anyone else.
But: the old adage is still true. We can fly over a land, we can pass through it in force, we can bomb it to nothingness, but we still do not own it until we can stand an 18 year old young man with a rifle on top of it: and he still sees only so far and can deal only with so much. To own and possess is different from defeating the enemy army.
Now it is still true enough that guerillas never win in the field: only in their enemies' homelands and decision centers. The casualties from Fallujah, which was a fairly conventional battle, were light compared to what was done and how many casualties the enemy took, just as the conquest of Iraq was very low cost; and for that matter the slow attrition from guerrillas has been small in absolute numbers. Low Intensity Conflict seeks to sap the will of the conqueror. It has never worked against a determined and cruel conqueror, not for the Saxons against the Normans, not for the Two Sicilies against the Normans, not for the German ethnics in the Italian Tyrol -- in particular, not for the Iraqis and Arabs against the Turks. There has been one successful slave revolt in all history. All successful guerrilla campaigns won because the conqueror decided the game was not worth the candle and withdrew. Viet Nam was a victory for the US through 1972 when 150,000 North Vietnamese came down into the South and were utterly destroyed, few ever getting home, at a cost of under 500 American casualties. But even that was too many for the Democrats in the Congress, and in 1975 Congress declined to help our Vietnamese allies when another invasion in similar numbers came down from the North; and Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City, and the United States gained a new cuisine.
If the United States is serious about conquest and governing people without their consent -- even for the purpose of introducing Rule of Law and ordered stability of the Western variety -- we will need two armies: one for winning battles, the other for occupation, military government, and nation building. The second army will need its own promotion paths, and its own doctrines; its own officer corps, and an entirely different attitude, being more a constabulary than an army. Conflicts between the two are inevitable, and envy between the two are inevitable. The combat army will have to have its own incentives: not to attract the warriors, who will drift to it, but to attract the technicians and logisticians and intelligence analysts. The Roman solution to this was to pay Praetorians including their support troops double what the usual Legions got, and pay Auxiliaries, who held much of the periphery of the empire, about half what the Legions got. And Legion pay was not trivial; and you could work your way from trooper to Legate with proper courage, ability, and administrative talents.
Eventually the Praetorians became unmanageable, and Septimius Severus abolished them; but he and his successors found the need for elite troops, companions, who were paid more than the usual troopers.
No one seems to be thinking about this sort of thing now. The Neocons have discovered the New Model Army that does things with fewer and more elite troops, and marvels at their success; then is horrified when warriors act like warriors; when young men taught to kill the enemy shoot what turns out to be, not an armed enemy playing dead, but a dying wounded man. But that is the price of conquest, particularly when warriors are sent to do the job of constables.
If we are going to keep on playing that game, these things need to be thought out; and they have not been, and as far as I can see no one inside the Beltway understands the need.
November 17, 2004
Recovery is slow but continuing. How much is contributed by sloth I am not certain. One does need the will to get back to work...
A lot of the news today is dominated by the Fallujah incident of a young Marine shooting a man who had been armed the day before, but who turned out to be unarmed the morning they retook the Mosque. That was front page news. The deliberate execution of a woman AID worker by the terrorists is on an inside page. So much for American journalism.
When you let slip the dogs of war, you must be prepared for what they will do: and they will kill innocents as well as armed enemies. It is the nature of war. American soldiers have a better record for not taking reward against the innocent than most armies in history. We have never had an official policy of allowing our troops sack and pillage as a matter of right and reward, and we have always had policies of approving "lawful warfare" (assuming that phrase to have meaning in a battle). But given that, why is anyone shocked, astonished, or surprised that an armed young man, seeing an enemy apparently feigning death in a building that not long before had housed armed and active enemies trying to kill him and his comrades -- seeing an enemy feigning death, he shot him.
John Kerry got a medal for leaving his boat to chase down a young and frightening Viet Cong fleeing the battlefield and shooting him in the back. The American media did not have a field day over that.
I am sure there are others more competent than me, but if that Marine needs an advocate, I'll be glad to undertake his defense.
Having let slip the dogs of war, are we now seeking to emasculate them, pull their teeth, and remove their claws lest they hurt someone?
* * *
The so-called Laws of War originated as a formal concept with Grotius in reaction to the horrors of the Thirty Years War, but the concept is essentially Christian and has always been seeping its way through Christendom. The Greeks had a concept of homonoia, the union of humanity which had a common obligation to help out against the barbarians (everyone who didn't speak Greek, as a first approximation), but it didn't prevent the Athenians from enslaving rebellions against their League, nor the Spartans from keeping the Helots in slavery. Christianity always had the ideal of humans as potential members of a universal Brotherhood which they could join by conversion.
Of course these were ideals, and the practices were different, but the ideal at least was to spare the weak and helpless, and sometimes that was actually done after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The breakdown of the Empire ended much of that: the standard practice of the English during the Hundred Years War was to travel through a land killing everyone and burning everything with the goal of getting the French to attack them. The French were hardly more merciful in their excursions through English territories they could reach, but in many cases were restrained because much of what they could reach, like Normandy, Brittany, and the Aquitaine was nominally French territory held in fiefdom by the English.
The Thirty Years War was particularly brutal. Armies lived off plunder and pillage. "Whose house doth burn, must soldier turn": war fed war in a rather efficient manner.
Over time the concepts of sparing the helpless became codified, and incorporated into treaties; and under the Constitution of the US, treaties ratified by the Senate become part of the law of the land. In that sense International Law can reach down to the level of a Marine Lance Corporal; but war is war. Had the Marine lined up a bunch of prisoners and shot them out of hand, the case would be clearer (but not entirely so: killing prisoners to prevent their rising up and attacking their captors has been a pretty standard practice, and such actions are the major stains on the honor of Henry V and Richard Lionheart).
In the present case we have an act almost inevitable: a man supposed to be dead is seen to be alive. His history is unknown. Is he faking death or is he, as it turned out, a wounded man who couldn't be evacuated before because of the combat conditions? You have a few seconds to decide: for if he is faking death, he may well have a grenade which he is about to activate, in which case you, and all your comrades, are at high risk of being maimed or killed. This is not a case of breaking into a building which has not previously been part of the combat. This mosque was used as a fortress, was taken with difficulty, abandoned and retaken by different units. Those in it presumably came under their own volition to fight against the Americans. They may be helpless now (although that's pretty hard to determine in a two-second evaluation) but they are helpless only because rendered so. They haven't surrendered.
Incidents of this sort are inevitable.
And I say again, I am sure he has more competent defenders, but I'd certainly be willing to defend him before any court martial.
(Readers have pointed out that I don't know all the facts in this case: perhaps, but I saw the video and the situation, and I know what I would have done in the circumstances.)
November 18, 2004
If you want to see what's happening to private space, this will tell you something:
My head is still not working very well, but I do seem to be recovering.
But while my head is not working, I do remember one thing: the Terrorists have religious permission to use a nuclear weapon against the United States. They will do it if they can get one here. You may depend upon it.
I have more phishing attempts purportedly from Paypals. Is there a place to report these? Surely these can be traced down and the perps jailed, or if off shore, visited by a B-52 squadron?
U.S. tracking down 400,000 fugitives
PHOENIX, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Immigration officials across the United States are aggressively tracking down illegal immigrants who have disobeyed orders to leave the country.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deployed 80 agents assigned to "fugitive operations teams" in 16 cities to find 400,000 fugitive immigrants in the United States, 80,000 of whom were ordered to leave the country after criminal convictions, the Arizona Republic reported.
The $50 million program is part of a Bush administration initiative launched in 2003 and will be expanded by another 30 teams in all 23 field offices, including two teams each in Los Angeles and New York.
Wow! EIGHTY (80) Agents to find and deport 80,000 or perhaps 400,000. A target rich environment!
November 19, 2004
The Principles of War differ depending on which military historian you favor, but they all include the Principle of Pursuit, and most acknowledge that while battles are won by the proper application of many principles, wars are generally won in the pursuit: when the enemy is defeated and running, pursuit, to kill or capture his forces before they can reorganize and fight again, is the most important thing you can do. Time after time you read of victories so close that there was no pursuit, and the campaign continued, often with the defeated enemy being able to organize well enough to win the overall war. When a small and elite force defeats a larger force badly led, pursuit is the only way to prevent this.
So, of course, the US, having won in Iraq, in the First Gulf War, and then again in the whirlwind first phase of the Iraqi war, deliberately did not mount a pursuit; did not round up the enemy's disorganized forces and render them unable to resume the war. We are paying the price for that now, recently in Fallujah, and soon in other cities. The great fear everyone had when the war began was of having to slog through Iraq city block by city block, in the worst kind of urban warfare in which you cannot isolate the combatants from the civilians, and even ten year old girls may be carrying lethal weapons.
By not pursuing the enemy after the victory in Baghdad, we made it all but certain that the next phase of the war would be precisely what we had mostly feared. The Iraqi campaign shows again the truth of what is taught in first year military history (in those few remaining places that still teach military history): Wars are won in the pursuit. Rendering an enemy temporarily hors d' combat is not the same as winning the war, much less winning the peace.
We can spend some time looking into why there was no pursuit after the fall of Iraq, and perhaps we should. Was it the Jacobin principles of the neo-cons, who thought that we would carry freedom (in the person of Chalabi the Thief?) into Iraq on the points of our bayonets? Lack of military history study on the part of our civilian bosses of the military? Lack of study of military history on the part of the senior officer corps? Squeamishness: having conquered Iraq we did not want to render the country helpless? Fear of the criticism that we only went in there for the oil? For God knows, if we had done things right, the oil would be pumping now, and Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction, and it would not be costing the United States five billion ($5,000,000,000) dollars a month. A billion dollars is still a lot of money; for a billion a year (and the power to bring in the B-52's at need) I would have undertaken to guarantee that Saddam never had a nuclear weapon. Five billion dollars a month is a lot of money, and there is no end in sight.
Iraq fell in a brilliant campaign; but there was no pursuit. Was it even thought that there should be one?
From The Strategy of Technology by Stefan Possony, Jerry Pournelle, and Francis X. Kane:
Part of the traditional method of learning the art of war is studying the principles of war. These principles are a set of general concepts, like holds in wrestling, and no exact group of principles is universally recognized. Some strategists combine several into one or divide one of those we show into several. The following list will serve well enough for our purpose:
It will be noted that some of these principles, if carried to their extremes, would be contradictory. They are intended to serve not as a formula for the planning of a battle, but rather as a set of guides or a checklist which the planner ignores only with peril. They are as applicable to the Technological War as to any other war. At first glance, it might seem that one principle or another might be more directly applicable to the Technological War than the others, but in fact none can be disregarded if success is to be achieved.
The Lure of Jacobinism
The more I think about the Iraqi campaign, the more I am convinced that the chief cause of this debacle -- I fear that is none too strong a word -- is the pervasiveness of Jacobinism among the intellectual leadership of this country. The notion that "all men are created equal" is a noble concept, and useful when establishing a government by the middle class which has only begun to wrest political control from an aristocracy that controls most of the wealth. It is useful as a legal principle in a nation governed by the rule of law. Objectively, though, it is nonsense. All men -- and women -- are not created equal. Some are smarter than others. Some are so stunted as to be counted human only through religious assumptions and legal definitions. If we expand our horizons beyond our own borders, the notion becomes even more absurd. Be it heredity or be it culture or be it a combination of both, nothing is more clearly false than the assumption of the equality of cultures, societies, and the people who live in them. To say otherwise would be to say that a culture of death and destruction which seeks to enslave as sub-human all those outside that culture; which says that there can be no peace with outsiders, only conquest; is the equal of the liberal democracies that believe in the notion of equality. Carried to extremes, the assumption of general equality states that the only thing the Nazis did wrong was to lose. Of course logic is never the strong suit of the Jacobins.
Note that xenophobic cultures can be of two kinds: those who consider only their relatives and fellow tribesmen as candidates for humanity, and those who allow conversion. Of those latter, a few claim to be universal: that until the world is converted there can be no peace. There are elements of this in Christianity: being Christian is the most important thing, and thus any means of bringing heretics and sinners to the True Religion is not only justified, but the converted sinner will, upon realizing the truth, thank his oppressors for the inestimable gift of Salvation. This is the logic of the Inquisition and the Missionaries to the New World. It has pretty well vanished in the religions of Western civilization, which put much more emphasis now on the importance of free will and seek voluntary converts.
It is also the logic of the early Muslims, only they carried it to greater extremes. Their instructions were clear: bring the world to the Truth of the Prophet; and those who will not believe must be slain. Islam -- submission -- or the sword. Exceptions were made for the People of the Book, Christians and Jews, who are permitted to pay tribute in exchange for a greatly abridged freedom to worship Allah through the early and incomplete prophets; but even these exceptions are limited and revocable. As for the rest of the world, there is the House of Islam and Peace, and the House of War, and with the House of War there can be only truce, never peace.
The Jacobin view of the world does not seem to take this into account; or rather, it does, but ignores its conclusions. The Jacobin view is Jeffersonian principles carried to an extreme. All are equal, and thus all will be reasonable, and thus if given the opportunity all will choose to be like the Jacobins; and make no mistake, this is taught in almost every political science and anthropology class in the nation, and if the enlisted troops have not been forced to act as if they believe it, the officer corps, all of whom have college degrees, most certainly have been required to act that way to get those degrees. Think upon the fate of anyone in our colleges who asserts that some people are born smarter than others, and nothing the society can do will change that; and who asks for the evidence that his view is false. We do not have anything like freedom of thought or rational debate of ideas on our college campuses, and in our credentialed society one cannot become an officer without pretending to believe the current views despite the simple fact that those views are self-evidently nonsense.
And that, I think, is what happened in Iraq. No one in the command chains really thought that the people of Iraq would behave as they did. No one in higher authority anticipated the looting and plunder. A few minutes reflection on history would give many examples, but not many of our credentialed leaders learn any history. Colin Powell warned the President that "if you break it, you own it," but neither the President nor his advisors, nor the Democrats in Congress, understood, How could they? Jacobins all, they believed that "ownership" could easily be transformed from Saddam Hussein to something more responsive to our wants and needs. Why wouldn't that be simple?
So while we seek to disarm our own citizens, we didn't think to disarm a defeated enemy; and sent home, with weapons, tens of thousands of those who days before had been trying, unsuccessfully, to kill us. Why? On what logic was this done? And try as I will, I can only think it must have been Jacobinism: we were truly blind to the notion that people are generally selfish; we no longer read Hobbes; we no longer read Burke, who wrote prophetically of what Jacobinism would lead to in France; we know no more of The Terror than a few scenes from the History Channel and movies of A Tale of Two Cities.
Armies believe in Jacobin principles at their peril, and all the successful armies have learned the lesson quickly. Unfortunately, when the Jacobin principles are lost, the usual result is cynicism. God is dead. But if God lives all things are possible; if God is dead, all things are allowed. Why was Abu Ghraib a surprise? One suspects there are few Jacobins in uniform in Iraq.
There remain plenty of them here, although perhaps they are a bit chastened. Perhaps.
What is to be Done?
We are there. Perhaps we should never have gone in, but there we are. The people did not rise up to strew our way with flowers, the oil is not pumping, the Iraqis cannot feed themselves, and five billion dollars a month is barely enough to sustain the status quo. Our reserve and National Guard systems are a shambles, and the magnificent New Model Army capable of defeating any organized force on the planet finds itself harried day and night in Iraq while belittled, denigrated, shamed, depicted as beastly monsters, in the national press. When good things are accomplished they are not news, that is what everyone expected; when evil things happen that is the news. And the news, increasingly, is not reported by anyone we know, for the journalists huddle in small safe places and send their agents, former students, former frumentarii for Saddam Hussein, anyone they can hire who can pass safely through the streets to gather information and perhaps a picture or two. What is happening in Iraq? Who knows? Who can know? Many good things, surely; but the fact remains that most Western journalists will never know because the streets are not safe for Americans; the journalists can't go find out when something good happens. Nor do the Iraqis who are sick of the war want any publicity for anything we might be proud of, lest it become the focus of attention for the enemy.
Is any of this to change? If so, how?
I ask again: what is to be done?
I have some notions; but first let me hear from you.
A PETITION to Congress regarding the young Marine in Fallujah: see mail
IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN PRIVATE SPACE TRAVEL, SEE MAIL IMMEDIATELY. Like NOW.
I have made my phone call. You do that too.
Nov 20, 2004
Things ran a bit slower than expected and the House recessed Friday night without voting on HR 5382. They're back in session and voting on "A Motion To Suspend The Rules And Pass" 5382 right now - this looks like passing by a healthy but far from unanimous margin; the current tally is 269 for, 117 against, 47 not yet voted.
OK, the motion got the required 2/3rds majority; the House has passed HR 5382.
Our thanks to everybody who called and helped out - we'll be writing about what comes next (presumably Senate action) as soon as we have details.
Henry Vanderbilt Space Access Society firstname.lastname@example.org
PS - our website seems to be down for the moment, but we expect to have it back up soon, with details of next April's Space Access '05 conference as soon as we nail them down.
I have taken the day off.
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