Tag Archives: War

Vice

31 Oct

I’d like to talk a little about Vice. I’m for it. Or, rather, I’m against being against it. The older I get the less persuaded I am that the laws intended (ostensibly) to rein in Drug Use, Alcoholism, Prostitution, and, Pornography do any good in any way commensurate with the harm that they cause.

And the thing is, there are people clamoring to add things to the list of Vices that say volumes about the impulse to control that motivates the Crusaders. People are Crusading against Genetically Modified food, against High Fructose Corn Syrup, against Sugar. A Crusade against Tobacco has been going on nearly as long as I’ve been alive. Some of these Crusades appear, for the moment, to have  some  basis in fact, but many of them are simply the prejudices of the Crusaders, which they want to impose on everybody.

Now, this is hardly new. Read just a little history and you are sure to encounter previous Morals Crusades; factory owners who forbade this and that, Prohibition, and so on. And, often, we take a very superior attitude toward these moralizing ancestors. And then go right out and do the same thing in the name of “The War On Drugs” or “The Obesity Epidemic”.

(Aside; how the hell can we have an Obesity Epidemic? An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of a communicable disease. Is that why the thin people are so hysterical? They think they’re being exposed to Fat Germs?)

In my Cranky opinion the difference between a Victorian Christian busybody pestering people about drink and church attendance and a Modern Secular busybody who wants to restrict what people eat is not visible to the naked eye. I can understand some genuine concern about Prostitutes and Drug Users, but the laws that are used to “Help” them don’t seem to achieve much good, and do appear to have all kinds of unpleasant fallout. The War On Drugs costs huge amounts of money, is the primary cause of most of the SWAT raids gone bad that you can read about on the internet, and attempts to ‘close loopholes’ that previously allowed people the authorities were “sure” were guilty have brought us “Asset Forfeiture”. And Asset Forfeiture is, frankly, the return of the Sheriff of Nottingham without the colorful Medieval costumes. I can accept that drugs like Cocaine, Heroin, and even Marijuana ruin lives. So does alcohol, but it only took us thirteen years to realize that banning that was a huge mistake. Why can’t we drop this idiotic “War? If legalizing everything is a mistake, we can always ban it again.

The current panic about “Human Trafficking” is simply a long discredited Victorian Witch Hunt being recycled by modern Feminists (look up “White Slavery”), and actually accomplishes little other than to place women accused of being prostitutes into the paws of people who absolutely will not listen to them, unless they stick to the Human Trafficking Hysteria script. Who does this actually help? Is it mean of me to suggest that the driving force behind it is a bunch of crabby women who are waking up to the realization that some men would rather pay for sex than put up with THEM?

As for Gambling, where do agents of the Law get the unmitigated gall to raid poker games when every state in the Union is running a Numbers Racket? That’s what a State Lottery really is, except that the traditional Mob run racket offered better odds and probably had more honest books.

Vice isn’t crime that one person visits on another. Vice is what we do to ourselves. It arguably isn’t good for us, but the history of Government attempts to stifle it isn’t impressive. In fact it’s often revolting.

The progress of civilization is seen in the degree to which the common man is able to tell all the people who want to order him about (for his own good) to climb a tree. Anti-Vice Crusades do not forward civilization.

Advertisements

Women In Combat

25 Jan

So, we’re going to have women in combat. This is probably not a great idea, but it isn’t the end of the world either.

There are two major lines of thought on this, both of them somewhat detached from reality. Ardent Feminists have been pushing for this for decades, being committed to the theory that there are no general differences between men and women. This is obviously so much eyewash, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the differences that do exist should or do matter. Military traditionalists, social conservatives, and reactionaries have been loudly saying that women have no place in combat for centuries, if not forever. Since a modern, athletic, western woman is likely to be a good deal larger and more muscular than, say, the malnourished male peasants that made up the majority of medieval armies, this would also seem to be hogwash. In point of fact the attitude of the Feminists is probably at least in part caused by the Army claiming the necessity of unrealistically high physical requirements,  while at the same time planning a great deal of military equipment to be compatible with much smaller, weaker third world soldiers or in general knowing that such standards did not apply to real combat. Case in point; the Army used to trot out the assertion that women couldn’t throw a fragmentation grenade beyond its own kill radius, but a veteran friend of mine told me years ago that the military has a word for people who throw grenades and don’t immediately seek hard cover; “casualties”.
There have been high profile cases of women who were the first in various military jobs screwing up by the numbers. What isn’t clear is how exceptional this might be. Military jobs like fighter-pilot are seldom as simple as they are made to look in the movies, and when something goes wrong it tends to cascade. Have some incidents occurred where deficiencies were covered up be people determined to not be the person saying that The First Woman (fill in the blank) couldn’t cut it? Probably. Do a certain number of male screw-ups also get special treatment for reasons of internal and external politics? Absolutely. Did the same thing happen in the Roman Legions? Probably.
Can women really do The Job? We’ll see. And, frankly, BOTH sides of the argument have done so much plain and fancy lying that waiting and seeing is the only way we have to tell.
In the meanwhile, we can sit back and watch the furor as one of more groups of young men sue because they are required to register for the draft, and their sisters aren’t.

A War is Coming

8 Jan

A war is coming.

My first thought when I saw the Twin Towers burning on 9/11/2001 was “I’ve been expecting this for twenty years”. Sixty years of feckless diplomacy; rewarding radicals and punishing moderates, had made it inevitable that some idiot would attack America. I was simply surprised that it had taken so long. I had no great expectations for George Bush, either. I expected that he would be bullied by the likes of Teddy Kennedy into a course of ineffectual letters of protest and U.N. resolutions. I was wrong.
Bush took the best information he could get, went to a thoroughly spooked Congress, and got a blank check. He put together two very well planned operations, and demonstrated to the world that America could take out two well entrenched, heavily armed governments in a matter of weeks. He fought a limited war by limited means for limited ends, and did so very effectively. If he had been one half as effective on the home front, I think it highly likely that the various terrorist organizations would have taken to the hills and be so far out on the fringes of the world that they would have to ship in daylight.
Unfortunately Bush’s enemies at home were more successful. The concatenation of trendy media types, university intellectuals, and political left activists that passes for leadership of the Democrat Party hated (and still hates) Bush. He had had the temerity to object to Al Gore’s fairly crude attempts to steal the 2000 election, for one thing. For another, they were probably afraid that he would use their trendy flirtations with Radical Islam as an excuse to purge the Universities, since that is what they would have done in his place. The idea that he had more important things on his mind than persecuting academic idiots would not have occurred to them.
In consequence the force of the object lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan has been seriously blunted. The world may have had proof that we can occupy pretty much any capitol city other than Beijing in two weeks from a standing start, but they have room to believe that we lack the will to do so. The drumbeat of disunity from our home media combines with sixty years of appeasement of Islamic radicals to ensure that we will be attacked again, and yet again, until something changes.
There are people on the political Right who profess to worry that Islam will bury us if we don’t take action. I seriously doubt it. The Islamic Radicals do not have the power to destroy us. What they do have the power to do is goad us into losing our tempers. For all the drama and tragedy of 9/11, it was largely a failure. Had the crashes taken place two hours later the death tool might well have been ten times what it was. In the decade following 9/11 I often encountered hand-wringing Liberals who declared themselves ashamed that we had “lashed out in unreasoning fear and anger”. They were always faintly offended when I would say we hadn’t done anything of the kind. If we had “lashed out in unreasoning fear and anger” after 9/11, Mecca would not be standing. Should a terrorist attack kill ten times the number that perished on 9/11, unreasoning anger will be a real probability. I don’t think that either the Islamic Radicals or the American Political Left have any appreciation of this. Which is unfortunate, because it puts us on a straight track to trouble.
The Left will keep beating the anti-war drum, no matter who is in office. They can’t help it. Too much of their present political identity is tied up in the Vietnam narrative. So they will cry “give peace a chance” louder or softer, depending on who is in the White House and Congress, but cry it they will. They will do everything they think they can get away with to make it harder to identify and neutralize terrorist threats, whether civil rights are being violated or not. And whatever security apparatus remains when they are done will be far more interested in securing its budget than in finding trouble. So terrorists will slip through. They probably won’t get to anything very crucial, and no planeload of American passengers is going to sit frozen in place while their transport is used as a missile – not again, anyway. But there are places a terrorist cell could infiltrate without too much trouble, and operate for quite some time with little to worry them.
Detroit is the place that keeps coming to my mind. The city has lost a quarter of its population over the space of ten years. It is falling apart, bankrupt, and corrupt. A terrorist cell could operate almost openly without distracting the city from its own troubles. I don’t believe that the kind of people who operate terrorist cells are likely to build an atomic bomb without dying of radiation poisoning. But atomics are not the only way, or even the easiest, to make a huge explosion.
Say that a large fuel-air explosion takes place in central Detroit tomorrow. It wipes out an area of a few hundred meters, and starts fires all over. Immediate deaths, if they were a tenth part of the city populace, would be 70,000, twenty times the death toll of 9/11. And America would not have to be twenty times as outraged, afraid, and angry as we were after 9/11 for the consequences of such an attack to be very grave indeed. The sitting President, whether Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, would have little choice but to respond with brutal military force. The populace wouldn’t stand for anything else. Americans may look disunited most of the time, but give them a cause, and injury to avenge, and a direction, and they can make life extremely unpleasant for their enemies. Ask the Japanese for references.
Moreover, with the Left’s “Can’t we all just get along” thoroughly discredited, there would be no holding the witch hunts. Bush wasn’t interested in jailing nitwit academics who played Radical Chic games with Palestinian activists to try to persuade themselves that their opinions mattered. Let the terrorists kill even 10,000 Americans at a stroke, and no further such forbearance will be forthcoming. Trendy intellectuals will get slung into prison so hard they bounce, as will anti-war protesters. And requests to see their ACLU lawyers will be answered with the truthful statement “He’s in the next cell.”
The American Military will roar overseas, and sort out the odds and sods in the Middle East in jig time, and not much will be left standing. When the dust clears America will hold Mecca, Medina, and such parts of Jerusalem as Israel doesn’t want, and we will be stuck there for the next fifty years, at a minimum. Likelier still, we will have altered to become the Imperial America the Intellectuals always professed to fear. And we will not be as good at it as the Victorian British, or even the Caesars. Imperialism will not be good for us, and will be an absolute disaster for the Middle East.
It won’t matter materially to me. I’m fifty. If anything the war boom will ensure that my remaining days are filled with pleasant luxury. But the Great Experiment that began with the ratification of the Constitution will be as dead as the Roman Republic was when Caesar rose. My only consolation will be that the people who get it in the neck worst of all will be the ones who were most contemptuous of the Constitution. May God have mercy on their souls. I doubt that we will.