Sunday, November 29, 2015

We're going to the Final..!

You'll have to excuse me. But it's time to have what G.M. Fraser's pipey would have called a "wee gloat"...

We're going to the Final! Weeee're going to the Fiii-inal! We're best in the West, we stood the test, we're going to the Fiii-iii-nal!

Sorry. You may now return to your regularly scheduled bloggage.

Dolce Vita

Over at the Milpub in the middle of a conversation about the Paris attacks regular commentator sheerahkhan had this to say:
"...the Paris attacks, broadly laid out, were still for the most part so much like the earlier late 60's, 70s, early 80's Bader meinhoff, Red-Brigade, et al. As an aside, giving a lot of press to these guys also happens to elevate ISIS amongst inactive/unmotivated Islamist...however that works, I have no idea, but for some strange reason it does. If we treat them like criminals perhaps we can lower the charm-appeal, and keep the arm-chair Jihadist inactive/unmotivated.

At least I think we be honest, I'm not even sure anymore.

The world has gone crazy, and it just seems like we're B-lining it to WWIII."
That made me stop for a moment.

Sheer is a smart guy, and not a hysteric. But his concern flashed me back to my morning's trip to the lovely Ramada breakfast room, where the cheap and nasty buffet was underlain by a Faux News continuo of hysteria and panic over all the nightmarish dangers of the world (that were only deterred by Strong White Men, but that's fucking Fox for you...)

There's a lot of this hysteria around. Look at the Trump Silvershirts, roaring about "making America great again" as if the fucker was some sort of Somalia with more Chick-fil-a's instead of the most massive and powerful superpower on the planet.

Look at the other whackaloons of the Right, fulminating about trivial problems like abortion and gay rights and the loss of white privilege and scary islamic jihadis. I hear a lot of this "the world has gone crazy" talk from those people, too. Hell, the entire GOP presidential clown car runs on that shit.

But...seriously? Think hard about the difference between today's world and the world of the medieval period.

Is our world crazier than the world of the Black Death? Crazier than the Albigensian Crusade, or regular Jewish pogroms, or the Inquisition, or the Mongol invasions of Europe? Crazier than the wave of death and civilization collapse that followed the Europeans into Africa after the 1500s and the Americas after 1492? Crazier than WW1, or WW2, or the Thirty Years' War?

Let me put it this way. Think about the average FDChief family in Picardy in 1200AD. What were the sort of things that were likely to spoil their day?

Epidemic disease? Check or hold?


Famine? Check. Random rape or murder at the hands of outlaws or the neighboring feudal lord's men-at-arms on a raid? Check. Peonage? Check. Poverty? Check. Death from minor injuries or childbirth followed by fatal infection? Check. Massive infant mortality? Check. Powerlessness in a feudal society? Check.

Now look at us. Do we have problems and troubles? Check. Are they anything as horrible or threatening at those?


No. Our world today is nothing like the frighteningly uncertain, dangerous, and unpredictable (to the ordinary person) world of the 13th Century. So the world hasn't actually "gone crazy". The troubles and problems the world has - outside the massive problem we've created for ourselves in the form of anthropogenic global warming, pollution, and extinction - are no different from those it has always had; wars and rumors of wars, bad government, sickness, natural disasters... 1200 we didn't know all of that stuff. We would be lucky if we had news from the nearest city. The "outside world" would have been vague rumors and tales from random travelers. Now we get all those various horrors beamed straight into our lives 24/7 by an infotainment industry that has every reason to make us as frightened and whacko as possible.

The raggedy jihadis of IS, the tattered armies of Syria, the unruly clans of Somalia and Mali...these aren't "WW3". They're the same old troubles the world has always had...just all thrown at us like they are some sort of huge cataclysm by our modern electronic devices.

They're not the end of the world, and we should really act like it.
Because people panicked by the end of the world do really, really, really fucking stupid things.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Stubbed Toe

See below; this is my reconstruction of the Santa Clarita landslide.

Typically large, slow-moving rotational slump- (meaning that the movement is rotational, with the top part moving down and in and the bottom (or toe) moving down and out) earthflows (meaning that the thing is moving slowly, like a big earth glacier) develop large toe-bulges at the bottom. Somewhere in my files I have a picture of an old mine access road that has been buckled up and rotated vertical by the toe pushing up and out at the bottom of a large earthflow; the thing stood straight up for about 8 or 10 feet. That'd have been a real sonofabitch to drive up with a stick shift.

I had a long discussion about this thing with my friend GeoChick, and I told her my problem was that all the articles had the scientific intelligence of a mophead. "Guh - landslide" was about the level of sophistication. Seriously; I couldn't tell either from the pictures or the text enough about the topography or the geology to even guess what was happening.

But long-time commentor Ael finally sent me a link to an article that showed not just the big honkin' road uplift but the surroundings, and it looks pretty clear to me that this thing is at or near the base of a slope that is failing, and it's pushing this road up because the road is at or near where the bottom of the slide plane "toes out" of the ground surface...

And this is a simple landslide. Given that, can you imagine how hard it is for most reporters to understand something as complex as climate change?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Just when I had got you all convinced that the first thing to do in fucking Syria was primum non nocere - "not do any more harm" y'all go and do something really fucking stupid.
My single biggest problem with all the moronic drumbeating to "do something" about the Islamic State in Syria is that Syria is twelve goddamn monkeys fucking a football. It's a no-holds-barred, chain-cage grudge match with about eight tag-teams all wrasslin' each other. The chances of something exactly like this - a chance encounter leading to a potentially disastrous international confrontation - is something like eight in ten. You'd have to be freaking brain-dead to want to get involved unless you either didn't care whether that happened or were willing to go all Cuban Missile Crisis when it did.

Over at Pierce's joint Bob Bateman has what I read as a fairly perceptive analysis of why this won't become another Berlin or Cuba, though.
"...there is one immutable thing about Putin's Russian forces in Syria, one that they can't avoid. They need fuel. This is an issue, why? Because to supply the amount of fuel needed by an air campaign requires more than just an airlift. It has to come via sea. Getting fuel from Russia itself to the Russian bases on the coast of Syria involves getting from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Bit of a problem that, since that means going through the Dardanelles. Turkey, in short, owns Russia on that count. Unless Russia wants to start a shooting war with all of NATO."
How about that; turns out that control of the Dardanelles is as critical to the Turkey-Russia balance of power (and international relations in general) in 2015 as it was in 1915.

Dammit! If only President Trump was in position to throw the 1st Marine Division ashore at Suvla Bay! That'd show those damned Turks!
Thanks for nothing, Obummer!

Fasci Trumpiani de Combattimento

I know I've promised not to write about U.S. politics, but this particular piece of merda is getting so brain-warpingly obvious as defy ignoring.

First, it's fairly clear that not only is the humanoid meat-object known as "Donald Trump" a perfect distillation (or, perhaps, continuing the meat analogy, a perfect sausage-filling) of the mendacious, belligerent Know-Nothingism, racism, sexism, Tentherism, and violently stupid individualism (in the sense of not just eliding but actively fighting against the notion of any sort of social or political "commons") that has overcome the modern Republican Party, and

Second, the bulk of the meat-like humanoid objects known as "Republican voters" are juuuuuust fine with that.

They don't care if what he says are obvious-to-a-retarded-gorilla lies, provided that the lies are what they want to hear. They don't care if his "policy ideas" are bone-stupid as the stupidest notion dredged up from the bottom of a bottomless well of stupid provided that they accord with the sort of ideas they like.

They like his moronic belligerence, his brainless bellicosity. They like his blatant racism and sexism. They applaud the inanity of, for example, his bloviating about Middle Eastern refugees murdering scores while bellowing about the unconstitutionality of denying firearms to white whackaloons who actually DO murder scores.

Back when I taught history to high-school freshman (which, by the way, is like trying to teach German irregular verbs to a cat; it just annoys the cat and it frustrates the hell out of you) I would have a handful of the more thoughtful kids ask me how in the hell a people as civilized as the Germans of the Nineteen Thirties could fall for the obvious lies and warlike bullshit of someone like Hitler and his cronies, or the peoples of Russia and China believe the propaganda and follow the murderous instructions of people like Stalin and Mao.

(Note that I never had a single kid ever mention Mussolini and Italian fascism. It was like the whole twenty years of European history had disappeared...)

I told them that it wasn't as simple as that. That a lot of time people in bad situations, or who believe themselves in bad situations, see and hear what they want to believe will help them out of those bad situations. I would tell them about something else that happened in the Thirties - the New Deal - and how FDR and his people weren't some sort of pre-free-love hippies and woo-woo socialists but hardheaded American aristos (a lot of them, anyway...) who looked around and saw the horrible examples of the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy as the sort of bad places that this country could go when people's lives were wrecked by poverty and unemployment.

So when I look at this Trump idiot and the idiots who love him I want to choke my country by the throat.

This country is NOT in a "bad situation" that throwing a couple dozen "investment bankers" in Joliet and revamping the tax code to put the blocks to fucking Pfizer and Merrill Lynch and Verizon wouldn't help solve. Christ, we're the 2,000-pound gorilla of nations economically and militarily. If we have problems, if some of our citizens feel like we're in a "bad situation", it's largely because we've decided to go full-on Gilded Age. Fucketty-doo-dah! If you think that letting two boys marry, or suctioning out a snowflake baby, or letting a guy who snuck in from Durango last month trim your lawn has placed the United States in a "bad situation" then you need to pull on your fucking big boy panties, not actively consider electing some fucktard who is fundamentally nothing but a dime-store Mussolini, an egotistical, short-tempered fascisti asshole with a bad combover in a real-estate shyster's Armani suit.

But damn near a third of the Republican "base" is doing just that. Don't they SEE how fucked up that is? Don't they see what would happen if they put this fucking nimrod in charge of the executive branch and the U.S. armed forces? As the voice of America? they see that and just don't fucking care? Is that what damn near a tenth of my country is? Pasty little fascisti looking for a dough-faced Duce to march them to Washington and kick out the "liberals"?

These damn people...

I'd laugh if this didn't make me want Not weep. Like I said; choke the fucking life out of these stupid motherfuckers.

(but a huge h/t to driftglass for the wonderful Photoshop of Il Douche)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Any Bonds Today?

Thinking about the whole business of "wars on terror" and wars in general led me to a couple of separate posts that generated this one.

First, over at MilPub P.F. Khans had a rumination about the recent graduation of several female Ranger students. In one of his comments that extended the discussion, he said:
"We are at war and we are doing quite poorly in all of those wars and its worth asking why "equality of opportunity" matters more than winning wars. I suspect that we exist in a state where winning and losing wars looks basically the same for most Americans. This is bad. There are people in this world who actually know how to win and we won't like losing in the future."
The same day I ran across a post at David Axe's War is Boring site that said pretty much the same thing:
"...we are a nation at war. In the past 15 years, American troops have fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Syria."
All of this talk of war made me think about "war"; what it is, what "we" (as in "We the People") think it is, and what the institutions that direct it and conduct it think it is.

I think that what's crucial about understanding what's going on - why there are American wars but not wartime in America - is understanding the physical reality of the United States in 2015 versus the rhetorical, intellectual, and emotional picture of the United States that most US citizens carry around in their heads.

The reality is that the US is a de facto imperial Great Power in the military sense. U.S. armed forces are busy around the globe doing the sorts of things that the European powers used to do in the global hustings back in the colonial era; "advising", training, and supplying client rulers, suppressing bush rebellions, spying and gathering information, patrolling the "commons" - sea lanes and land corridors.

Some of these missions involve combat, and for those engaged in the fighting these little wars are just that; wars. It's disingenuous to call them something else. If I'm getting shot at I can tell you damn straight I'm in a fucking war.

But...the U.S. and most U.S. citizens has a difficult time with the term "war". For it, and most of us, a "war" is one where people you know go to fight and some never come back except in a bag, where the news is full of battles and foreign adventures, where there are maps and pictures in the papers, where Bugs Bunny sells War Bonds. We have never been good at reconciling the "savage wars of peace" with what we think of as War with a capital "w".

So for most Americans - even the ones that really do buy the formulation of a "war on terror" - I don't think that the notion that "we are at war" is a reality.

(Which, in a sense, is a GOOD thing. Nations and peoples do some pretty terrible and stupid things to themselves when they are "at war". Wars tend to empower the worst, stupidest, and most shortsighted elements in a society, and the sorts of expedients required of nations in wars - however essential those expedients may be to surviving and winning that war - are not really good for the nations or the people that take them.)

And this whole business of female Ranger School grads is a good indication of the fact that even the U.S. Army is not "at war". When TRADOC is "at war" - as it was in the Forties, early Fifties, and Sixties - it tends to get very focused on cranking out new meat for the meatgrinder. My old Reserve unit (104th Division (Training)) had that as its entire mission; the idea was that when the balloon went up in Korea, say, we'd mobilize to Ft. Lewis and reopen the old Vietnam-era Infantry OSUT, crank out 3-4 divisions worth of replacements and then ruck up and go to war with the last cycle through. There were something like 5-6 similar "training divisions" in the USAR with similar missions in various parts of the country.

What I find very interesting is that in the past decade the USAR has drastically downsized or eliminated these units. The 104th is pretty much gone; its mission has been turned around to running ROTC summer camps. The 91st (which was the other West Coast training division) is doing something called "operational" training. The old 78th Division now is the mobilization evaluation outfit for USAR units called up for deployment...

What that, and TRADOC's willingness to push the USAIS into putting female troops in the Ranger course, tells me is that the U.S. Army has abandoned the notion that there will EVER be a situation similar to WW2, Korea, or Vietnam where the training establishment will have to be ramped up to crank out masses of 11-series bodies...which, in turn, makes me think that the U.S. Army has moved fully over to thinking like the old British Army of 1890; that it is a largely constabulary and expeditionary organization that will never have to field a WW2-style mass Army again...

Meaning that the Army thinks that what the U.S. public thinks as "war" will never occur within the foreseeable future, and that what we have now - these low-level brushfire and colonial-type "wars" - are the new normal.

Whether the public will ever "get" that - or whether the various organizations and factions that concentrate power in the United States WANT them to "get it" and will work actively to ensure they don't - remains to be seen.

Out of all of this, however, I think We the People need to have several discussions with and amongst ourselves.

We need to decide whether we're good with being an imperial power, first of all. Because imperial powers fight imperial wars - that is, "little wars" that don't need, and, indeed, pretty much require a fairly hight level of disinterest within the imperial citizenry.

And if we don't...we need to decided what level of these brushfire wars we ARE good with and how much we need to, as a citizenry, get involved in debating and overseeing them.

Will we do this?

I'm fairly confident that we won't.

The individual wars themselves and the general level of civic engagement needed to learn about and make intelligent decisions regarding them is just too high. We prefer our wars as we prefer everything else about our self-government; simple, easy, and, preferably, done by someone else.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More military wisdom regarding the Islamic State

From Sun Tzu's The Art of War:

From Chapter XII (The Attack by Fire):

17. Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.

18. No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.

19. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.

20. Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.

21. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

22. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.

Maxim CV, and the Impossible Problem of the Islamic State

105.) Conditions of the ground should not alone decide the organization for combat, which should be determined from consideration of all circumstances.

In the preceding post I made the case for being calm and carrying on in the face of violent attacks. Specifically, in the face of violent attacks from politico-religious zealots of the Islamic stripe.

(For, despite what Marco Rubio says Islam is not the only religion to throw out violent politico-religious nuts - any religion worthy of the title does that - but those are the variety most likely to be on the other end of the AK-47 from your or me these days...)

In this post I wish to make the argument that the reason for this is that the West will suffer more of these violent attacks as surely as the sun rises and sets. And that there is, effectively, nothing - or nothing much - that the West can do about that.

And the reason for that is that the geopolitical conditions that have and will mold violent men and dispatch them out of the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq to attack and kill Westerners are difficult to escape and may be, in fact, nearly impossible to "solve" in the short or medium term.

What's rather pathetic is the complete unwillingness of so many people to accept that. Some, obviously, because they are simply stupid and have no real idea of how the region has and is working. But others because they seem to be good people who don't want to believe that this problem is insoluble.

Here's a good example: an article from The Nation discussing how to "destroy" the Islamic State:
"The only option here is a difficult one: restoring the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq by ending the Syrian civil war and the broader, regional Saudi-Iranian contest that feeds it."
Certainly a wonderful goal, with only one teensy-weensy little problem; who the fuck is going to rule those restored Iraqi and Syrian "states"?

Both are not really "states" in the European sense or, at best, are "states" in the sense that Yugoslavia was a "state". Both were created by European imperialist cartographers based loosely on the divisions imposed on the region by Ottoman cartographers that largely ignored the tribal and sectarian divisions either inherent in the regions or which developed over time.

Provided that 1) the respective strongmen in Baghdad or Damascus were propped up (and, just as importantly, not kicked around) by external Powers, and 2) the principle of secular Westphalian statehood remained supreme in the minds of the residents, these pseudostates could survive.

But over the past forty years both of these pillars were badly damaged.

Between them the European powers, the United States, and Israel, made the weakness and venality of the secular Arab Muslim regimes painfully clear to Abu and Maryam Lunchpail. Those they weren't incompetent and beaten in war were corrupt and purchased in peace. The only Muslims who seemed both unbribeable and unrelentingly hostile to the Western powers and their Israeli pal were the religious or those who claimed to be religious. The inconvenience of living in the 12th Century might seem a little less onerous if your medievalist rulers are at least willing to kill the occasional Brit, Yankee, or Frog, in revenge for all those French and American fighter-bombers blowing craters in your olive grove.

And the fall of the Middle Eastern strongmen unbound the tribal, clan, and confessional, divisions the tyrants had forced closed, much as the death of Tito released the internal tensions within Yugoslavia.

The idiot Bushite replacement of Sunni rule in Baghdad combined with the rebellion against Alawite rule in Damascus all but guaranteed the formation of some sort of "Sunnistan" in the desert between the Euphrates Valley and the Jordan.

Now, even assuming that you could reassemble the pieces of Iraq and Syria, again...who and how the hell would rule them?

The politics of the Middle East is a zero-sum game; a win for me is a loss for you. There is no way of assuring trust in a transfer of power, no way to feel confident that it will ever be transferred back.

I know I've said this before, but it's no less true today; regardless of who represents the Sunni Arabs of Iraq and Syria, be it the theocrats of Daesh or anyone else there is no way, now, but to win or be crushed. To live either as their own masters or as slaves of whoever else rules.

How the hell do you take a place like that and, once you do, how do you keep it? I can tell you the only way: you crush the Sunni, you drive them before you, and you hear the lamentations of their women.

That's right. I just quoted Conan the Barbarian as a "solution" to the Islamic State.

The point being, that there IS no solution to the Islamic State outside of a movie or a comic book...or...genocide on a Sri Lankan level.

Because you can "solve" the Islamic State in the same way that the government of Sri Lanka "solved" the Tamil insurgency; you kill and kill until the rebels are sickened with blood, until the bulk of their young men are dead and their women and children terrified. And then you rule them with a rod of iron.

If you are a local you can do that. Or if you are a foreign occupier willing to levy this sickening degree of violence.

The Western powers will not, can not, do that. If you are a fool, or a Republican (but I repeat myself) you might think they can, but you are wrong. We have lost the callous racism we had back in the days when we could butcher Filipinos or Zulus or Algerians cheerfully. And that's good, frankly; I wouldn't want to be that people again. They were savages little better than the Islamic State.

No. At best (or worst) the West can try and raise up some local brute, arm him, and send him out to exterminate the other brutes. But, remember, we tried that in Afghanistan only to find that the religious zealots were the deadliest and most effective brutes and they ended up coming back to kill us. We tried that in Iraq only to find that our brutes were less brutal than theirs. We've tried that in Syria, and...well, I have no idea what the hell we're doing in Syria but, then, Syria is a rolling clusterfuck inside a goatscrew wrapped around twelve monkeys fucking a football.

So unless and until there a local strongman is built or arises - obviously, stronger than the Assads or the Shia congeries in Baghdad currently unable to do the butchery needed - willing and able to employ that level of genocidal violence against the Islamic State it, and those organizations like it such as Boko Haram and the jihadis in Libya, or Yemen, or Afghanistan, will continue to survive and fight and - every so often - send out some of their ruthless fighters to hurt us in the West as best they can.

And they will.

And some of us will die.

And there really isn't much we can do other than accept that as the price of our civilization, and go on.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


As one might expect, today's news is full of the attacks on Paris claimed by the Islamic State.

As one might also expect, the commentary on this news is largely colored by the same sort of hyperbole that always surrounds these sorts of atrocities. This, in one sense, is unsurprising. The notion of one person setting out to slaughter another that has done him, or her, no personal injury or insult, to murder in cold blood whoever they encounter regardless of age, sex, or competence for some imagined slight or grievance is a truly horrific one, the sort of notion that compels most of us to peer perhaps more deeply into the abyss than we would prefer.

So while I am unsurprised by the outrage, horror, and anger of both the reporting and the punditry - because these murders are, indeed, outrageous, horrible, and infuriating - I am less than impressed at the associated pervasiveness of a sort of aggrieved victimization on the part of reporters and pundits, the loudly articulated sense that these atrocities are some sort of unprecedented, unsurpassingly awful injustice visited on utter innocents like lightning from a clear sky.

This is often accompanied by the specific accusation that the ideology that drove the killers is an uncontextual and uniquely evil force.

The combination of this outraged innocence and angry accusation irks me for several reasons.

First, because it is at best, louche', and at worst, criminally ignorant, to be living in a society whose rulers are wont to proclaim often, loudly, and fiercely, that they are engaged in a "war against terror" and to act surprised and outraged when terror makes war on you.

Wars are like that; you kill them, they kill you. Not nice, perhaps, but also something that should come as neither surprise nor outrage. "Unconventional" wars, guerrilla wars, the "war of the flea" is even less nice, and as such this should have been expected even as it was horrible.

Second, because the context for these attacks is obvious. The West is engaged in warring with this Islamic State. This "state" has neither aircraft nor warships. It cannot, then, as do civilized people, bomb helpless men, innocent women and little children from aloft or crater their towns and cities with missiles from afar. It has little in the way of artillery or armor; it cannot materially harm the armed forces of its enemies. It must, in its conduct of this "war on terror", use, well, terror. This, too, may be horrible but should be neither surprising nor outrageous.

Vile? Perhaps. Vicious, certainly. But to act as though this was some sort of uniquely awful, unforeseen horror is neither intelligent nor useful. To misinterpret your enemy's motives and misprise his tactics is to go a long way to miscalculate your most effective response.

Third, because in a popular form of government the result of sending the public the message that they have been the object of an unprovoked, particularly savage, attack is to produce a public response dominated by insensate rage and mindless hatred, the sort of hatred that fails to draw a line between the enemy and those who look like the enemy, between an aggressive defense and furious, hyperkinetic, self-defeating aggression.

Let me say honestly; I am not a kindly man. I am not, in general, a sentimental man. I have no more than a mild sympathy for the dead of Paris (I did not know them, I have no special care for them) and no more than a dispassionate enmity for their killers.

To me the killers of Daesh are, and in my opinion should be, nothing more than a problem to solve, a danger to negate, like a live electrical cable or a rabid dog. They should be disposed of if possible, isolated and avoided if not.

But my lack of emotion does not vitiate the lesson of 9/11 - if there is one other than "The stupid fucker Richard Cheney and his coterie should really be wearing orange jumpsuits" - is that taking geopolitical actions based on whipping up insensate rage and mindless hatred in the public is a very stupid, very self-destructive thing.

What is needed, instead, is the cold realization that these horrors are the calculated cost of what we, the West, have chosen; to fight a "war on terror" that largely consists of paying others to bomb, shoot, and kill people in places far away while living in a society whose openness allows those people to bring their bombs and bullets in among us to kill us.

There is no "solution" to the Daesh problem in France, or in the United States without changing both without measure. For the West to keep Daesh out would mean changing its societies, closing its openness, in ways that will never be undone.

There is also no "solution" to the Daesh problem by importing our bayonets into their lands. For the West to try and impose that solution to Daesh on the Middle East would mean choosing only between fighting an endless colonial war and genocide. Our sons and grandsons would rule theirs with bayonet and boot, or we would have to slaughter them without mercy, make a desert in a desert and call it peace.

It is that simple. This, or that. One, or the other. There are no other ways.

Treating the Paris attacks as some unutterable, unforeseeable, unequaled atrocity does nothing but obscure that and make a rational way forward more difficult.

We need to step back and see this for what it is; a lost "battle" in a war we - our "leaders", at least - have chosen to fight. Then we, or they, can choose whether to go forward with this "war", whether to look deeply at our "tactics" or our "strategies" to see if either or both are productive, or whether we need to think outside the paradigm of "war" we have allowed ourselves.

But we cannot do that if we let ourselves be blinded by grief, sorrow, rage, or grievance.

Before the Great Terror of 1914-1918 the French were the Daesh of Europe; the invaders, the killers, the butchers, the New Huns. But when one of the bloodiest murderers of that bloodthirsty band sat down to write his maxims of efficient bloodletting he said this of the sort of way one should go about the science and art of slaughter:
"The first qualification in a general-in-chief is a cool head -- that is, a head which receives just impressions, and estimates things and objects at their real value. He must not allow himself to be elated by good news, or depressed by bad.
The impressions he receives either successively or simultaneously in the course of the day should be so classed as to take up only the exact place in his mind which they deserve to occupy; since it is upon a just comparison and consideration of the weight due to different impressions that the power of reasoning and of right judgment depends.
Some men are so physically and morally constituted as to see everything through a highly colored medium. They raise up a picture in the mind on every slight occasion, and give to every trivial occurrence a dramatic interest. But whatever knowledge, or talent, or courage, or other good qualities such men may possess, Nature has not formed them for the command of armies, or the direction of great military operations."
I see no reason to think that this maxim has been washed away by yesterday's blood on the pave' of Paris.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Early Holiday Haiku

Burnt bean in red cup;
You taste of atheist scorn

And the bile of Trump.

Honestly. You goddamn people need to get out more. Or get a hobby. Or something.