Archives for category: Warfare & Strategy & Tactics

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Three decades ago, I was briefly involved in a campaign in Jefferson County, Washington State, to prevent nuclear warheads from being stored within its borders. I knew it was a hopeless endeavor — there seemed zero chance for local government, spurred by idealistic citizens, to prevent the U.S. Navy from using nearby Indian Island as a maximum security repository for missiles and warheads taken from submarines scheduled for maintenance at Bangor Trident Base — but it did introduce me to the leftist activists in the northern parts of the Olympic Peninsula.

The fit was not always comfortable. Among many interesting moments with these people, I remember most clearly my first encounter with an angry feminist. And with clueless feminists.

FD110687-98A7-4289-95AC-B972EE0200C6But the biggest difference may have regarded our different ethical approaches. I was not prone to the same sort of moralism that they were, for one thing. Or Utopianism. I also had become convinced that MAD was a successful policy, on the whole, and that the traitorous Rosenbergs may have inadvertently served as the saviors not only of America but also of humanity. So I occasionally said things more than a tad out of place amongst the activists.

One of the odder moments of mutual incomprehension concerned the reasons to oppose the bomb storage. I offered a NIMBY argument, and mention the threat of terrorism. “Indian Island is a target.” The activists looked at me blankly. They were uninterested in terrorism. Terrorism was not on their radar, except, I suppose, as a tactic that they could imagine themselves using, push come to shove.

I remember Bob the bookseller looking at me, puzzled, having caught the implication of my logic. “Where do you want the bombs stored?” he asked. “And how many do you think we need?”

“How many nuclear bombs would you like?” That last question was rather pointed.

I had no idea, of course, so I shrugged. I am generally not good at prescribing for an institution I am not in any way responsible for.

C431E517-A2BF-4990-A419-D3BF9FF48CFCHonestly, I thought terrorism was the wave of the future. A few years later, after Bush’s invasions of Panama and Iraq, I was more confident yet. Sure enough, my suspicion proved increasingly savvy over the years, constituting one of two sets of prophecies that showed me not a complete nutball. I felt satisfied, I confess: I understood some things about the way the world worked that most people did not seem to. At all.

Yup, terrorism and the price of gold. I was right, way back then.

Now, I have no idea what is going to happen next. My hunches are all over the place, between financial Armageddon and the Singularity!

twv

N.B. Pictured are three Google maps of the area in Jefferson County where I lived at the time. Circled in red are where the offices of Liberty magazine were listed with the Post Office (the Polk Street apartment building I lived in) and (at bottom) they were actually located, on top of the hill. One of my first jobs for Bill Bradford, Liberty’s publisher, in my first year or two working for him, was Community Plenipotentiary. That is, I would get involved in community activism so he would not have to! Yes, he paid me to do this sort of thing. Thankfully, it did not take up much of my time, and arguably I did it on my own time. I was not being paid by the hour.

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Mandalay Bay Hotel

The horrifying shooting at the Las Vegas country-and-western concert — from the Mandalay Bay hotel — is  being widely reported as “the biggest mass shooting in modern American history.” The accuracy of this depends on that word modern,* and perhaps on narrowing down the definition of what a shooting is, too.

The death count, it may be worth remembering, has so far not reached Branch Davidian levels.

But, admittedly, the Waco event was perpetrated by the government against a besieged community, and mainly done by arson — though guns played an all-too-infamous role. The biggest “mass murder by arson” case that I am aware of is the Happy Land nightclub arson, committed by the late Julio González in 1990. His fire killed more people than has (by current count) the gunfire of Stephen Paddock.
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A much larger peace-time atrocity took place at Wounded Knee in 1890. Hundreds dead. But that, it is worth remembering, was a shoot-out, not a shooting spree. There were deaths on both sides, though the Indians got it worse. Much worse.

The Wounded Knee massacre is relevant in the context of the predictable calls of my progressive friends (and leftists across the Internet, as well as the major media commentariat)  for more gun regulation.

Why recall Wounded Knee?

Because it was, in essence, the result of gun control, a gun confiscation attempt by the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment.

If my progressive friends get their way, there will be many more massacres of the Wounded Knee variety.

Think it through. Would you be shocked to learn that most white Americans in the late 19th century thought the agenda of the 7th Cavalry was “reasonable gun control’?

So I guess what people mean when they call Paddock’s spree shooting the largest “mass shooting in American history,” is that Paddock’s was the largest non-government-initiated mass murder. With guns. Oh, and recent.

Meanwhile, ISIS has claimed “credit” for the shooting, referring “to Paddock by the nom de guerre Abu Abd al-Barr al-Amriki and said he answered a call to arms by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” according to the previously linked article.

US officials have said they are examining the claim, but are yet to find any evidence linking the shooter to any organised terrorist group.

As if not to be upstaged, folks on the left can be caught everywhere insisting that the Las Vegas event be called “terrorism” . . . but perhaps only if we designate it non-Muslim terrorism — “terrorism by a privileged white guy,” perhaps.

Since we know, at present, of no political or socio-cultural point Paddock was trying to drive into our minds, it cannot be called terrorism in good conscience.

But it is odd to see the Left and Muslim terrorists once again siding up on one side of the line . . . of ideological fire.

twv

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* On my Facebook feed, the necessary word “modern” seems most often elided. But most news outlets have been careful in their wording. The article I linked to was fairly precise, calling the event “the worst mass shooting in modern US history.” Note that modifier, “modern.”




N.B. Breaking stories about a large electronic funds transfer to the Philippines by Paddock, soon before the shooting, might possibly churn up an agenda so far not disclosed.

The great liberal insight was that social order need not depend on submission to hierarchy but on reciprocity, instead — a reciprocity of peace and liberality and tolerance.

IMG_2863When the Other refuses to reciprocate on those grounds, however, then we have a state of war, where we must reciprocate belligerence for belligerence.

This is clear in the writings of Herbert Spencer — what with his distinction between the militant and industrial forms of coöperation and social cohesion — but it is even clearer among today’s evolutionary psychologists (EP) and sociologists (sociobiologists).

Liberal theory — and, after it, libertarian theory — sidetracked the reciprocity issue by reifying rights into a metaphysical realm, and positing their inalienability. This had some political advantages in its heyday, but nowadays prevents people from dealing with the actual advantages of liberal solutions. It rigidifies thought, of course, turning libertarians into philosophical dogmatists. But, worse yet, it throws the problem of conflict resolution to the authoritarians.

IMG_2104Hence the modern impasse. Libertarians are still trapped by inalienability theories, and progressives are locked out of access to the basic notions of conflict avoidance, which makes them crazed. And conservatives and “liberals” waffle between reciprocal and authoritarian solutions depending on the issue, or the politics of the moment. This makes their policies incoherent at best.

And the people, in general, have become utterly disenchanted with all sides.

twv

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Interesting. The National Review excoriates American media avoidance of an obvious truth, the Islamic roots of today’s terrorism. Or, more exactly, last year’s Pulse nightclub shooting. In “Why can’t people face the fact that the killer was an Islamic extremist?,” the august conservative magazine’s editorial intern Tiana Lowe makes a clear case:

One year ago yesterday, Omar Mateen went into a gay nightclub in Orlando and murdered 49 people. While on the phone with a 911 operator, Mateen made his motive clear: “Yo, the air strike that killed Abu [Waheeb] a few weeks ago – that’s what triggered it. They should have not bombed and killed Abu [Waheeb].”

There we have it. A radicalized jihadist self-identified as “Mujahideen” and an “Islamic soldier,” American born and raised, committed the deadliest mass shooting in American history, directly targeting the LGBTQ+ community in the name of a murdered Islamic State militant.

After briefly relating the results of official investigations, which disproved convenient “homophobia” explanation, Lowe goes on to identify a pattern of media avoidance, fantasy and prevarification on the subject. “With only an ‘Islamophobic’ narrative remaining after those pesky facts, the media have decided to pay tribute to the barbaric murder of 49 infidels with a ‘senseless violence’ narrative.”

“Pulse gunman’s motive: Plenty of theories, but few answers,” read an Orlando Sentinel headline.

The Washington Post referred to the night 49 people “died” as having been “upended by gun violence.”

The New York Times equated the terrorist attack with “a year of racism,” with the insinuation that Donald Trump spearheaded the latter.

It didn’t matter that Mateen intentionally targeted the Pulse Nightclub as an attack on liberal values; his true crime was gun violence. An uptick of fear of Wahhabism and non-Westernized Islam is not a product of observation and inference; it’s irrational, a blanket Islamophobia.

The truth is just an inconvenient narrative.

While nothing in Tiana Lowe’s argument strikes me as obviously untrue, as near as I can make out, she veers off the truth by doing what she accuses others of doing.

That is, while arguing that others miss the primary and plainly true story, our author herself misses the primary and plainly true story: the terrorist terrorized as retaliation against a bombing strike by the United States military and allied forces.

What we make of this may surely be debated. But cannot we agree that, by not emphasizing or interrogating at any length the act identified by the terrorist himself as the inspiration for his retaliatory strike — instead identifying his behavior as merely an example of “Islamic extremism” — a crucial element of terrorism has been elided?

Note what, precisely, is missing. This fact: The United States is at war. Innocent civilians routinely pay the price, in their very lives, in the cause of that war.

And not just “over there” — here too.

Ignoring this aspect of the conflict surely dissuades us from consideration of the concept of blowback, and insulates our military adventures from criticism on the grounds of unintended consequences.

twv