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Republic and Empire

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Republic vs. Empire

Begun July 14, 2002

This will attempt to pull together divers material on the main subject. Note that this is a long and complex subject and we are not interested here in one-liners.

In addition to the lengthy discussion here, there is another page culled from View and Mail.



Previous references relevant to Republic and Empire have been collected by Mr. St. Onge and are given on a separate references page. These are quite extensive, and some are extremely interesting. Mr. St. Onge has provided a one-sentence summary of each.

THERE IS A SECOND section of those references on this page.

We begin with a long discourse by General Zinni. It is a better introduction to this subject than perhaps at first will appear. Anyone interested in this matter will profit from reading it.

General Anthony Zinni, USMC, is retiring as the head of Central Command. The attached file text file is his retirement speech, given last month. I think he has some interesting and important things to say.

-- Cheers! - Lindy Lindy@arcanamavens.com

"When values are sufficient, Laws are unnecessary. When values are insufficient, Laws are unenforceable." - Barry Asmus

By General Anthony C. Zinni, U.S. Marine Corps

I joined the Marines in 1961, so it's been 39 years. My retirement date is 1 September, but I plan to step down and go on terminal leave in July.

I'd like to talk about who we were--the military generations who went through the past four decades, from the 1960s up to the new millennium. If you looked at a snapshot taken when I first came into the service, all the generals looked the same--older white males with Anglo-Saxon names and Southern drawls--despite the fact that the troops they led came from lots of different places. Let's just say that the generals didn't speak Philadelphia the way I speak Philadelphia.

But things were changing in the 1960s. Marine Corps officers were still coming in from the service academies and military institutes, but more and more were coming in from Catholic colleges in the Northeast (like I did), from state colleges and universities around the nation, and from other schools with strong NROTC units or other strong military traditions. At the same time, we were seeing people coming up through the enlisted ranks to become officers--not just the old mustangs or limited-duty officers with mid-grade terminal ranks, but quality people we would send to school as an investment in the future of the Corps.

Back then, whatever our various backgrounds, we all came into the Service with a code--something imprinted on each of us by family, school, or church. In my case, nuns and Augustinian priests had drilled one into my head. Those who had come from military schools received the imprint from their officers. One way or another, all of us were programmed to believe that what we were doing was not a job; not even a profession; but a calling.

For me, joining the Marines was the closest thing to becoming a priest. Certainly, I took a vow of poverty when I joined the Corps, although I stopped short of taking a vow of celibacy. Lately, though, it seems as though we have been driven more and more toward a "warrior monk" ethic, and I just wish that we'd start spending as much time on the warrior part as we seem to be spending on the monk part.

Perhaps part of the move toward monkishness is prompted by the realization that the young people today don't seem to be coming into the service with that code imprinted. It's not necessarily their fault, but the code is not there. Until recently, our recruit depots, officer candidate schools, and other institutions responsible for socializing recruits and new officers have operated on the assumption that the code was there, imprinted beforehand. So now we have to regroup.

A lot of things affected my generation over the years. In addition to having good genes and DNA, those who did well also seemed to have come from families that functioned normally, as opposed to the dysfunctional ones seen so often today. We also grew up in school systems that actually taught us something and imprinted us with that code, which helped move us along the path toward being useful citizens. And for most of us, our religious upbringing gave us an acceptance of a Higher Being in one form or another, at the core of our beliefs.

We also were shaped by events. Some were our legacy; some were events we actually lived through. One of the biggest was World War II, which has proved to be both a blessing and a curse to my generation. The blessing was that it preserved our freedoms and our way of life and lifted us out of a severe depression on a wave of prosperity and moved us into a role of world leadership. The curse is that it was the last Good War--with moral clarity, an easily identified and demonized enemy, unprecedented national unity in mobilization and rationing, pride in those who served in uniform shown by blue-star flags hung by the families of those who fought and gold-star flags by the families of those who died, and welcome-home victory parades for those lucky enough to return home from overseas. Every war should be fought like that.

Our family military tradition in America started with my father, who was drafted to fight in World War I--the War to End all Wars--shortly after he arrived here as an immigrant from Italy. He got here and he was drafted. When I looked into it, I found that 12% of America's infantrymen in World War I were Italian immigrants. And they were rewarded for their wartime service to their new homeland. My father loved the Army for the relatively short time he served in it--and along with his discharge papers he received his citizenship papers. He came out of the War as a full-fledged citizen of the United States. Just imagine what that meant to him!

During and after World War II, I learned about war at the knees of my Uncles and cousins, who fought at the Battle of the Bulge in Europe and all over the Pacific-on the ground and in the air. A few years later, my older brother was drafted and fought in Korea. Their war stories were remarkable: sometimes gory and horrible, but always positive in the end. It was like winning the Big Game against your arch rival--always clean and always good.

So this was my generation's legacy: World War II was the way you fight a war. And all throughout our four decades of service, this notion kept getting reinforced. Former Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger's famous statement of doctrine is a recipe for re-fighting World War II--not for fighting the operations other than war (OOTW) that we face today. In fact, if you read the Weinberger Doctrine and adhere to every one of its tenets, you will be able to fight no war other than World War II.

I've been attending all the World War II 50th anniversary and follow-up celebrations in Florida, where I live and work, and sometimes it is unnerving to face the old veterans who look at me and seem to be saying, "How in hell did you screw it up? We had it right and we did it right and we fought and we understood and we did all this. . . ." It's hard to escape the feeling: God--I've let them down, because the second major event that affected us was the Vietnam War--our nation's longest and least satisfactory. It was my second-lieutenant experience, and I wondered at the time just what in hell our generals--my heroes who fought in World War II--thought they were doing. Those of us who were platoon commanders and company commanders fought hard, but never could understand what our most senior leaders were doing. The tactics didn't make sense and the personnel policies--one-year individual rotations instead of unit rotations in and out of country--were hard to comprehend. In time, we lost faith in our senior leadership.

Today, of course, we are seeing a stream of apologetic books by the policy makers of that era--as though saying mea culpa enough will absolve them of the terrible responsibility they still bear. Beyond all his other shortcomings, I'll remember--as an infantryman--former Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara for one indelible thing: He decided that all services should have a common combat boot. Further, he decreed that to economize there would be no half sizes. So I had to wear size 10 boots instead of 9 1/2, my regular size. My feet are still screwed up to this day, thanks to Robert Strange McNamara. And that just about symbolizes the leadership we had back then.

The third thing that affected my generation was the Cold War--which Actually was a 40-year attempt to re-fight World War II, if ever the need arose. Once again, we were energized to engage in global conflict against the evil Red Menace. Problem was that we never could figure just how this particular war would actually start. After playing a bazillion war games at the Naval War College and other places, I still could not come up with a logical or convincing way such a war would kick off. It was just too hard to show why the Soviets would want to conquer a burning, devastated Europe, or how that could possibly benefit the communists in any way. So we would just gloss over the way the miserable war got started, jump into the middle of things, and play on. Deep down inside, I don't think many of us really believed it ever was going to happen.

To be sure, there probably were some armor or armored cavalry folks with not much to do in Vietnam who sought to patrol the Czech border, in the belief that World War III would erupt there. But that's not where my life was focused at the time. The Cold War was ever-present, and it was great for justifying programs, systems, and force structure--but no one seriously believed that it would actually happen. Still, it drove things. It drove the way we thought; it drove the way we organized and equipped; and it drove the way we developed our concepts of fighting.

Then suddenly, at the end of the 1980s, the Berlin Wall came down, the Evil Empire collapsed, and we found ourselves in the post-Cold War period. It would require a major adjustment. I was serving in the European Command when the Wall came down so quickly and unexpectedly--and in turn we drew down too quickly, in the worst possible way. On the way down, we broke a lot of china, in the form of contracts with U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines--and in particular the soldiers. We drew down our Army too far, almost ripping it apart in the process--ten divisions is just too low a force level--I'm here to tell you.

In addition, we have let manning levels sink way too low, not understanding that the post-Cold War would bring more chaos instead of a smooth transition to world peace. Not fully understanding the Cold War force structure we were drawing down--and the kind of structure we would need for the post-Cold War period, we have been drawing down to a mini-version of the Cold War force. Today's high-demand, low-density units are paying the price for those decisions. Let's admit it--we've screwed up again.

The next influential event was Desert Storm, which, as far as I am concerned, was an aberration. It seemed to work out okay for us, but ultimately it may be an aberration, because it may have left the impression that the terrible mess that awaits us abroad--to be dealt with by peacekeeping or humanitarian operations--or coercive diplomacy, for some--can somehow be overcome by good, clean soldiering, just like in World War II.

In reality, though, the only reason Desert Storm worked was because we managed to go up against the only jerk on the planet who actually was stupid enough to confront us symmetrically--with less of everything, including the moral right to do what he did to Kuwait. In the high-and top-level war colleges we still fight this type of adversary, so we always can win. I rebelled at this notion, thinking there would be nowhere out there so stupid to fight us that way. But then along came Saddam Hussein, and "good soldiering" was vindicated once again. Worse yet, the end of any conflict often brings into professional circles the heartfelt belief that "Now that the war is over, we can get back to real soldiering." So we merrily backtrack in that direction. Scary, isn't it?

Still trying to fight our kind of war--be it World War II or Desert Storm-we ignore the real warfighting requirements of today. We want to fight the Navy-Marine Corps Operational Maneuver from the Sea; we want to fight the Army-Air Force AirLand Battle. We want to find a real adversarial demon-a composite of Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini--so we can drive on to his capital city and crush him there. Unconditional surrender. Then we'll put in place a Marshall Plan, embrace the long-suffering vanquished, and help them regain entry into the community of nations. Everybody wants to do that. As a retiring CinC, I would love to do that somewhere before I step down-just find somebody for me!

But it ain't gonna happen.

Today, I am stuck with the likes of a wiser Saddam Hussein and a still-elusive Osama Bin Laden--just a couple of those charmers out there who will no longer take us on in a symmetric force match-up.

And we're going to be doing things like humanitarian operations, Consequence management, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement. Somewhere along the line, we'll have to respond to some kind of environmental disaster.

And somewhere else along the line we may get stuck with putting a U.S. battalion in place on the Golan Heights, embedded in a weird, screwed-up chain of command.

And do you know what? We're going to bitch and moan about it. We're going to dust off the Weinberger Doctrine and the Powell Doctrine and throw them in the face of our civilian leadership. But at the same time, there's the President, thinking out loud in a recent meeting and saying, "Why can't we ever drive a stake through the hearts of any of these guys? I look at Kim Jung II; I look at Milosovic; I look at Saddamn Hussein. Ever since the end of World War II, why haven't we been able to find a way to do this?"

The answer, of course, is that you must have the political will--and that means the will of the administration, the Congress, and the American people. All must be united in a desire for action. Instead, however, we try to get results on the cheap. There are congressmen today who want to fund the Iraqi Liberation Act, and let some silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London gin up an expedition. We'll equip a thousand fighters and arm them with $97 million worth of AK-47s and insert them into Iraq. And what will we have? A Bay of Goats, most likely. That's what can happen when we do things on the cheap.

But why can't we muster the necessary political will to do things right? It goes back to cost-benefit analysis, especially in terms of potential casualties. Nobody in his right mind can justify the possible human cost and the uncertain aftermath of strong military action. The bombings at Beirut and the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and the debacle in Mogadishu have affected us in bad ways--making us gun-shy to an extreme degree. But every time I testify at congressional hearings, I try to make the point that there is no way to guarantee 100% force protection while accomplishing the variety of missions we undertake out there. Somewhere, sometime, we are going to lose people again--to terrorist or other actions that take advantage of our own less-than-perfect protective measures.

For example, I have more than 600 security-assistance people working throughout the Central Command's area of responsibility. Some of the detachments are quite small--in twos and threes. They live in hotels and try to keep low profiles. Their mission is to work with host-country military organizations and try to improve them. They travel a lot. They get targeted; they get stalked; they can get hit. If anyone really wants to take them out, they can and they will.

And, you know, we are going to see it happen some day. The only way to stop it from happening is to shut down all our activities overseas, if we want 100% security for all our deployed people. But 100% definitely seems to be what more and more people want these days, as we send our people into operations other than war. These OOTW are our future, as far as I am concerned. But in a sense, it's going to be back to the future, because today's international landscape has some strong similarities to the Caribbean region of the 1920s and 1930s--unstable countries being driven by uncaring dictators to the point of collapse and total failure. We are going to see more crippled states and failed states that look like Somalia and Afghanistan--and are just as dangerous.

And more and more U.S. military men and women are gong to be involved in vague, confusing military actions--heavily overlaid with political, humanitarian, and economic considerations. And representing the United States--the Big Guy with the most formidable presence in the area--they will have to deal with each messy situation and pull everything together. We're going to see more and more of that.

My generation has not been well prepared for this future, because we resisted the idea. We even had an earlier Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who said, "Real men don't do OOTW." That just about says it all. Any Army commander worth his salt wanted to take his unit to the National Training Center and any Marine commander would want to go to the Marine Air-Ground Training Center for live-fire maneuver and combined-arms work, rather than stay on their bases and confront a bunch of troops in civilian clothes, throwing water balloons and playing the role of angry overseas mobs. It just goes against the grain to have to train our people that way.

Going beyond these events, what other things have affected my military generation? There have been trends in law a policy making that have had a profound effect. The National Security Act of 1947, for example, set up the most dysfunctional, worst organizational approach to military affairs I could possibly imagine. In a near-perfect example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, it created a situation in which the biggest rival of any U.S. armed service is not a foreign adversary but another one of its sister U.S. services.

We teach our ensigns and second lieutenants to recognize that sister Service as the enemy. It wants our money; it wants our force structure; it wants our recruits. So we rope ourselves into a system where we fight each other for money, programs, and weapon systems. We try to out-doctrine each other, by putting pedantic little anal apertures to work in doctrine centers, trying to find ways to ace out the other services and become the dominant service in some way. These people come to me and the other CinCs and ask, "What's more important to you--air power or ground power?"

Incredible! Just think about it. My Uncle Guido is a plumber. If I went to him and asked, "What's more important to you--a wrench or a screwdriver?" he'd think I'd lost my marbles.

The real way this stuff gets worked out is not in the doctrine centers but out in the field. The joint commands and the component commanders can figure things out because we're the warfighters. We have to work things out, so we actually do. We could not produce a joint fire-support doctrine out of Washington or the doctrine centers to save our ass. But we can produce one in the Central Command, or in the Pacific Command or European Command or any joint task force we create. They can produce one in a heartbeat-and they have. We can make a JFACC work. We can make a land-component command arrangement work. There will be no more occasions in the Central Command's area of operations where the Marines fight one ground war and the Army fights a different ground war. There will be one ground war and a single land component commander.

But we've been brutalized in the process. We've had to be pushed into cooperating with each other by legislation. And those of us who have seen the light and actually put on joint "purple" uniforms--we've never been welcomed back to our parent services. We have become the Bad Guys. The only thing we are trusted to do is to take your sons and daughters to war and figure out ways to bring them back safely.

Virulent inter-service rivalry still exists--and it's going to kill us if we don't find a better way to do business.

Goldwater-Nichols is not the panacea everybody thinks it is. I'm here to tell you that it did not increase the powers of the CinCs--not one bit. A CinC still owns nothing. I own no resources and no assigned forces. All I get is geography and responsibility. And the CinCs have to go up the chain of command through the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

For more than a quarter-century, we have been operating with an All-Volunteer Force--and the American people tend to forget that until the volunteers stop showing up and reenlisting. And that's what is wrong right now. But the troops are not getting out because they're deployed too long and too often. I will bet anyone that the forward-deployed units--the carrier battle groups, the Marine expeditionary units, the air expeditionary forces and wings-have the highest retention rates.

So what does that say about the high operations tempo and personnel deployment rates? The people who deploy are not the ones getting out. The guy getting out is the guy who's left back home and has to pick up the slack with a workload that's been increased by a factor of eight or ten. We were building an All-Volunteer Force with professionals, not mercenaries. The troops certainly don't mind a better paycheck, but they find it insulting that we seem to think that's all they want. Deep inside, there have been negative reactions to the recent pay raise. They see their benefits continuing to erode. Their families are telling them, "Look at what happens to your medical care when you retire. You can't even pick up a telephone and get through to someone who might see you." And despite all the smoke and mirrors around TriCare and MediCare and other programs--even if they do work--the perceptions are bad. To top things off, the quality of life back at the home base is terrible. We still have too much infrastructure eating up funds that should go toward improving quality of life. But don't count on DoD and the politicians going through another base-closure drill or anything like it.

So this all-volunteer, highly professional force we built--to give quality performance with quality support--has been allowed to erode. That came with the "peace dividend." The All-Volunteer Force has become something else--something less attractive than opportunities on the outside, in many ways. The troops want to be caught up in a calling--but they're not. They are involved in a job.

Over the past 40 years, we also have seen strange things happen with regard to the media. To be sure, there are no more Ernie Pyles out there, but there's nothing inherently wrong with the media, which has the same percentages of good guys and bad guys as other fields. But technology has changed things. The media are on the battlefield; the media are in your headquarters; the media are everywhere.

And the media report everything--good things, warts, and all. And Everyone knows that the warts tend to make better stories. As a CinC, I've probably been chewed out by seniors about five times--and four of the five were about something I'd said to the media. At this stage of my life, it doesn't really bother me--because where in hell do I go from here? But if you are a lieutenant or a captain and you see another officer get fried, you react differently. The message is clear: "Avoid the media." And the message hardens into a Code: "They are the enemy. Don't be straight with them." And that is bad.

That is bad because we live in the Information Age. Battlefield reports are going to come back in real time, and they are going to be interpreted-with all sorts of subtle shadings and nuances--by the reporters and their news editors. And the relationship between the military and the media, which should be at its strongest right now, has bottomed out. It has begun to heal a little, but a lot more must be done. We need to rebuild a sense of mutual trust.

My uncles in World War II generally experienced a friendly press--with Willie and Joe cartoons and Ernie Pyle stories--that was part of the war effort. G.I. Joe was lionized and bad news was suppressed--if not by the military then by the media. The relationship generally remained positive through the Korean War, despite its ambiguities. But the relationship soured during and after Vietnam, for a number of reasons--not the least of which was a mounting distrust of government by the media and the American people.

My generation and those who have followed over the past 40 years are still dealing with social issues that swept across the nation in the 1960s and 1970s. The racial and drug problems that peaked during the Vietnam years and persisted well beyond them are largely behind us now--but they came close to destroying the military from within--something no enemy has ever accomplished on the field of battle. We still wrestle with problems associated with the massive infusion of women into the ranks of the military, seeking a final adjustment that meets the twin requirements of fairness and common sense. A final adjustment on the issue of gays in the military-largely sidestepped up to now--still lies ahead.

Today, we are suffering through the agony of watching and waiting for our political masters and the American people to decide what me U.S. military should look like in the future. It is especially agonizing because the political leaders--and the population in general--have very little association with the armed forces. Consequently, they have very little awareness of how we function.

For example, they don't understand the Uniform Code of Military Justice-the UCMJ. If you work for IBM and don't show up for work, you might get fired. If you are in the Marines and don't show up, you might get locked up. Further, the military doesn't hire the handicapped in the same percentages as IBM or other corporations--probably for good reason. The military is different, but not enough Americans are aware of that.

Over this 40-year period, we have made some significant internal changes. We made a magnificent recovery from the Vietnam War, and my hat goes off to the Army, because I think they led the way in making the needed transformations. In general, we have professionalized our noncommissioned officer corps, but still not enough NCOs are doing the jobs that officers had taken away from them when I first came in. The rank structure is holding them back, despite the fact that their educational attainments--bachelors, masters, and even doctoral degrees--have far outstripped the structure. This needs to be fixed.

The one thing that makes us a standout among the world's military Services is the quality of our NCOs. Don't ever believe it's the officers; it's the noncommissioned officers.

All of the events that have shaped us over the past 40 years have not been negative. Somewhere in the mid-1980s we began to experience a renaissance in the operational art. We actually started to take war fighting more seriously. Once again, I want to credit the Army for leading the charge, and the other services for following suit, in one way or another. Today, we see highly qualified, professionally competent, operationally sound officers and noncommissioned officers as a result.

There's also been a technological revolution--the Revolution in Military Affairs, which already has gone beyond the point most may think. Whenever I go to my command center in the basement of my Tampa headquarters, I can pull up a common operating picture--every ship and aircraft (commercial, bad guy, good guy) in real time. With a six-hour delay--which I could crunch to two hours if I wanted to--I can get a complete ground picture. That's the good news. The bad news is that the White House and the Pentagon will probably be interested in the same picture, and might be tempted to make decisions on their own, without input from the folks actually on the scene. That could be disastrous, as history amply demonstrates.

As we close out this 40 years of service, those of us who served must ask: "What is our legacy?" My son is a newly commissioned second lieutenant of Marines. What have we left for him to look forward to?

We all know that burgeoning technology will widen his horizons beyond anything we can imagine. It also will present new questions of ethics and morality that we barely have begun to fathom.

But he also must live with an organization that I have had to live with for 40 years. Napoleon could reappear today and recognize my Central Command staff organization: J-1, administration stovepipe; J-2, intelligence stovepipe--you get the idea. This antiquated organization is oblivious to what everyone else in the world is doing: flattening organization structure, with decentralized operations and more direct communications. This must be fixed.

My son will have to deal with the inevitable military-civilian rift and drift--which will become more severe in the future. He also will have to deal with the remaining social issues. And they will get tougher, within a national debate over why we still need a strong military.

In addition to dealing with these social issues--which will worsen--to shape their potential heritage, my son's generation must ultimately face the question of how much the military should be a reflection of U.S. society. The people of America will get the military they want, in due course, but it is up to the military to advise them about the risks and consequences of their decisions.

My son will face non-traditional missions in messy places that will make Somalia look like a picnic. He will see a changed battlefield, with an accelerated tempo and greatly expanded knowledge base. He will witness a great drop in the sense of calling. People entering the military will not be imprinted with his code. They will not be candidates for priesthood; at best, they will be part-time lay ministers. On his watch, my son is likely to see a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) event. Another Pearl Harbor will occur in some city, somewhere in the world where Americans are gathered, when that nasty bug or gas or nuke is released it will forever change him and his institutions. At that point, all the lip service paid to dealing with such an eventuality will be revealed for what it is--lip service. And he will have to deal with it for real. In its wake, I hope he gets to deal with yet another Goldwater-Nichols arrangement.

What will we expect of him as a battlefield commander? Brains, guts, and determination--nothing new here. But we would ask for more than battlefield skill from our future commanders. We want character, sense of moral responsibility, and an ethical standard that rises above those of all other professions. We want him to be a model who accepts the profession of arms as a calling. We want him to take care of our sons and daughters and treat their lives as something precious--putting them in harm's way only if it means something that truly counts. We'll expect him to stand up to civilian leadership before thinking of his own career.

And I hope that we would think enough of him and his compatriots to show some respect for them along the way.

Published July 2000

I should let that sink in before I do much commenting, but I guess I won't. 

First I have to say that the General doesn't quite seem to understand the Cold War: the reason the USSR never took the rest of Europe was precisely because there were those trip-wire forces along the borders, and those young men and women in the silos, and the men in the submarines; war is deterred when the aggressor thinks he can't win it, that he will be worse off after it is over than before. I covered this extensively in my study of Stability for the Air Council back in the 50's when the General was a lieutenant. Those of us who had been in Korea had no doubt that if you gave the Communists any sort of break the Russians would be on the Rhine not long after. I don't have any such doubts now.

One real problem here is "unification". That hasn't worked and doesn't work. Erecting the Air Force into a separate Service, and then making the Marines very nearly another independent Service was a foolish thing to do. It hasn't worked and it won't work. The roles, missions, and doctrines of an Army and a Navy are quite different. The Army was properly labeled the Department of War: it was for War, and for a republic War is War, sleeves rolled up, higher taxes, maximum effort, crush the infamous bastards who forced this peace-loving people to go to war. If they want War we'll give them WARRE, war to the knife, war to victory.

The Navy doesn't and shouldn't see it that way. The Navy's job is all those activities short of declared war. Protection of the sea lanes, extracting Americans from overseas riots, putting down uprisings against friendly governments (precisely what we ought to have done in Liberia during the Carter administration but we didn't). Traditionally the President has owned the Navy and Marines, and the Congress owns the Army.

So where does that leave the Air Force?  Well, divided, with parts going to the Navy and War Departments of course. The real mission of an Air Force should be as a part of the field army or the fleet. Yes, it can project force beyond the littoral, timely interventions in places the Navy never could reach, but that's still Navy-like activity.


What is revealed in this analysis is that there is one obvious lump that doesn't fit: the Strategic Offensive Force, and that includes the nuclear missile submarines: the Armageddon Corps. These really aren't part of the traditional mechanisms of war. They aren't part of the Navy with its routine operations, showing the flag, rescuing ships, bombardment of coasts, landing parties, evacuating US and allied citizens from trouble spots, rapid operations like Lebanon in Eisenhower's time, and all the rest. That's what Navies are for in a Republic. Navies and Marines do the fighting when there's no declared War and if we need more force than that the Congress damned well ought to declare a War and tell us what victory means.

That's all assuming a Republic, of course.

The problem here, and the General probably sees it but didn't want to say so, is that the force structure we have is already more appropriate to an Empire than a Republic, and will be more so if we continue as we have. And certainly, if we continue the trend toward Empire, toward being the World Policeman, toward minding everyone's business because there is no business that isn't our business, we will need an entirely different kind of military.

We will need Legions. We will need small forces that can stiffen up the forces of client states. We will need mercenaries along the model of the Gurkhas. We will need 'professional soldiers' who will kill on orders, and who will be more soldier than citizen; indeed it might be well to deprive them of citizenship while they are in service. Rome did that in effect even before the formal conversion of Republic to Empire, since the elections were held in Rome and most of the Legions were elsewhere.

One doesn't want professional soldiers to worry a lot about civic affairs unless ordered to as part of their duties. One wants them to think about being Legions.

The Code that the General entered the Corps with, and which he saw in recruits of that long ago era, isn't there for most of those who become "professional soldiers." Why should it be? It's a Code of a Republic, and most troops no longer join the services for reasons having anything to do with the values of a self-governing people. Most of the officers do, but that's not quite the same thing. Now a Warrior Code can be instilled in young men -- perhaps in young women as well, although I wonder if they're not too smart, and have their emotional wiring set up different -- but the Warrior Code has nothing to do with a republic. The young Warrior fights for his comrades, for his outfit, for his officers, and for the nation, in that order. A Warrior will lay down his life for a flag, but it's not the flag of the nation, it's the Eagles of his outfit.

We know how to instill that Code, at least in young men. But it won't have much to do with a Republic.

The real decision, which the General didn't state, is this: what is the business of America?  If the business of America is business, we need one kind of military. If the policy of the United States is "we are the friends of liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own," that dictates the military requirements of a Republic.  If the business and policy of the United States is to make a better world but direct intervention everywhere: if it is the business of the United States to keep Serbs from slaughtering Albanians and Albanians from retaliating, to intervene in Russia vs. Chechnya, the Kashmir wars, the African tribal slaughters, the Rhodesian expropriations -- if that is our business, then we need an Imperial force.

Rome was an Empire long before Augustus made it formal. 

And people like General Zinni are caught in the middle of it. Which way do we want  to go?

On the general subject of Republic vs. Empire -

I note that the Emperor has decreed (see http://assaultweb.net/ubb/Forum1/HTML/001038.html  and http://www.aimsurplus.com/  ) that foreign-made military-style rifle receivers and barrels are now prohibited from importation. Too many were using loopholes around the previous set of infringements on the Natural Right recognized by the 2nd Amendment to build military-style rifles, and so it was decreed that importation of parts must stop. An international agreement to stop small arms proliferation among the proles was the "reason" given. I used to think people discussing UN conspiracy theories were crazy. Now I'm not so sure.

I sometimes wish they'd just do away with the "death by a thousand cuts" approach and try a complete ban.

It's a slippery slope we're sliding down, and I'm really losing hope we'll make it back up.


Jim Riticher jritiche@bellsouth.net

Probably nothing differentiates Republic from Empire than in trusting citizens with arms. The Imperialists are afraid of the citizens: even as they promote diversity in cultures and ancestry, they seek to impose a uniformity in core values throughout the land. Naturally they are afraid of armed resistance, as they should be.

The Framers intended that the citizens be as well armed as the Army: that would include cannon, musket and bayonet, pikes and rifles, bullet pouches, and purely military equipment not useful for hunting. Hunters used rifles and fowling pieces. Muskets were not useful for hunting; nor were bayonets; but they were certainly part of the arms that citizens might and should bear. Indeed, had it not been for Quaker sensibilities, the Convention might well have mandated that every citizen be armed. Patrick Henry certainly thought they all should be.

In modern terms that translates to at least "assault rifles" and the silliness of prohibiting bayonet lugs on rifles is self-evident.

But that is a Republic.

Now to say that people of diverse languages and cultures cannot be armed and live together in a Republic is to admit ignorance of elementary geography. The Swiss manage nicely. Their last civil war was not long after ours, when a Canton was divided into  Protestant and a Catholic hafl cantons, each with what amounts to half a vote in the federal structure. 

A racially and linguistically uniform people can have a unitary republic. Culturally divided people will require a federation, with real power in the states. I don't think it is my business to criminalize what orifice people use for sexual gratification, but I have to say that it is the business of the state -- not federal -- government. Laws derive their just power from the consent of the governed. That is why state churches were not only permitted in the Constitution of 1789 but the Congress was in the very first sentence of the Bill of Rights prohibited from disestablishing them. Now I doubt any state, even Utah, would establish a church today; but they certainly ought to have the power to do so. Why not? It is not as if persecutions were coming back. Most "religious right" want merely to be left alone by the government, to have a few religious symbols in public places, and to say a few prayers, some hypocritical, at public events. Why should they not?

I could go on; but the point is that a Federal Republic will not disarm its citizens, nor will it force them to endure laws and absences of laws not needful for Federal Union; it will leave them their states, well or badly governed, and not try to force a uniformity that is difficult even in a uniform people and impossible in a culturally and religiously diverse people. Or so think I.

I'd say the correct historical analogy for the US today is Great Britain in 1815, after the defeat of Napoleon, rather than Rome.

In both cases -- Britain in 1815, the US in 1990 -- we have a heavily populated, very wealthy, very technologically progressive "island" off the coast of Eurasia.

In each case, it has just emerged triumphant after long series of wars against a land-based continental rival; France in the case of Great Britain, Germany and then the Soviets in the case of the US. In both cases, the hegemonic power was head of a large alliance, and emerged economically and technologically stronger from the forcing-house of war, while its opponent lay impoverished and prostrate.

France lost as many men in the Revolutionary-Napoleonic wars as in WWI, and from a smaller population; it took generations for her to recover. Germany has remained a political-military eunuch after 1945, and Russia is a wreck with a declining population and a sputtering gangster-ridden economy making a very slow transition to successful capitalism.

The analagous period for the US would be between 1917 and 1989-91. Like Britain vs. France, she shrewdly avoided the sort of sustained high-casualty fighting that wrecks nations.

As the US has done since 1990, Great Britain cut back heavily on the size of its armed forces after 1815, but remained a dominant naval power with the capacity to intervene where it pleased, or of course not to intervene -- that freedom being the strategic benefit of ruling the World Ocean.

Britain after 1815 also relied on a powerful navy, and a small army of long-service professionals intended for service abroad. It had no territorial ambitions in Europe (where people could fight back effectively) but intervened in the "3rd World" fairly often, putting down pirates, forcing Chinese mandarins to open their ports, making Arab sultans give up the slave trade, policing the rougher parts of the globe, etc., in the classic era of gunboat diplomacy. Whenever someone was in trouble, they called for the Royal Navy; and the British Empire grew, not from any great ambition to accumulate territory, but from the need to impose local order and free trade in areas without effective government of their own. Eventually it covered a quarter of the globe and a quarter of its population, the largest realm ever under a single sovereignty in human history.

This seems to me to be very much the situation the US is in today; a hopeful analogy, given the long period of growth and prosperity and cultural blossoming, and freedom from _major_ wars, that the UK enjoyed from 1815-1914. Nor was the UK much troubled at home, since this was the era when successive Parliamentary reforms went through without any of the revolutions or civil wars that plagued the Continent, and when the rising industrialists (and then the populace as a whole) were accomodated without ever violently displacing the traditional landed classes.

The world seems to function better when there's such a "power of last resort" around, too. The post-Napoleonic system worked fine, until the rise of Germany made British hegemony increasingly expensive, and the rise of the US made it unrealistic.

Joat Simeon

Well, the world goes better perhaps: but the United States seems not to have the temperament to build that kind of force, a strong Navy and a small professional army not deployed at home. Perhaps we will learn. But a Republic is always at risk when it staggers toward empire. When the government begins to be imperial abroad, depend on it, it will be imperial at home as well. It can't help it.


From: Stephen M. St. Onge saintonge@hotmail.com 

Subject: Republic and Empire, part two: SDI references

Dear Jerry:

Here's the second set of references concerning "Republic and Empire." These are on the subset of the problem concerned with Missile Defenses. I'll have the third and hopefully last set REAL SOON NOW, on general "Republic and Empire" topics.

A question and a comment.

The question: What's a Thoth missile? Thor I know (it's described in Footfall, after all), but the only references I can find to Thoth in web searches are concerned with the Egyptian mythology and some computer game.

The comment: In preparing this list, I noticed the statement that The Strategy of Technology was denounced by name in the Soviet military press. God, what an honor.

The list: The first part is special reports, debates, and alt mail, grouped more or less by subject. The second is regular View and Mail citations, arranged chronologically. A one line descriptor is after each. Some are only indirectly related to the subject of missile defense, but I errred on the side of inclusion (and if anyone thinks they see something that's not here that should be, write me).

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/sot/sot_1.htm  Text of The Strategy of Technology, passim; much on missile defense


space report pages home page; much on getting into space cheaply and reliably




Essay, The Second Computer Revolution, and responses to same



Spinrad in Le Monde, in re SDI, NASA, Reagan, with discussion and replies



Letter from Jim Dodd



Is this treason? section



dialogue on SDI



Taiwan and the Two Chinas, Intellectual Capital Essay



Rotary Rocket Rollout



Jess Sponable on "The Next Century of Flight"



Trent Telenko’s essay on missile defense



letter from Jim Jacobus



How Jerry won the Cold War





On Stefan Possony and the Seventy Years War



letter from Donald W. McArthur on Vannevar Bush



Space Access Society Paper



letter from Chris Pierik, re to Spinrad article and to Space Access Society



letter from georgebrown@worldnet.att.net



comment on end of Cold War as heard at the Hollywood Bowl



Refererence site: Acronym Finder Webmaster 




letter from Ray Van De Walker on China’s strategy of Technology,





Possony’s birthday

and two comments on website article by Robert Parry slandering Reagan; 


letter from Trent Telenko on Internet and Empire


A Bit About Strategic Defense and the coming Empire



letter from Dafydd ab Hugh



book, "Way Out There in the Blue" by Frances Fitzgerald, a purported history of the Strategic Defense Initiative. (A very bad book, incidentally)


letter from John Hendrickx and discussion of cruise missiles


letter from St. Onge on SDI and a SLATE article



Trent Telenko’s excellent essay on missile defense, letter from George Laiacona on servers sparks a comment from me on SDI


 is pretty good on a lot of stuff unrelated to this subject, but a 

letter from St. Onge on Missile defense is on the subject.



Defense Spending

letters from Jeff G. Newell, Dafydd ab Hugh on Cochran and Intelligence



discussion between Carol Iannone  and Greg Cochran on Intelligence and government and an imperial strategy


The above was compiled by Stephen St. Onge and indexed again by me. Thanks. I will copy this to the appropriate page as well. Thoth was a code word for a kind of missile developed and proposed by the Boeing Company in about 1962. I was on the proposal team.


 Click to go to What Is This Place? page



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