Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bombs Away

In WWII, several new theories of war were developed, most of which are still in practice today.  From the Blitzkrieg, essentially an armored thrust designed to penetrate deep into the heart of the enemy lines and create chaos in the rear area, to the idea of Strategic Bombing, the idea of bombing civil infrastructure to reduce overall military power, we still employ most of the ideas honed in the conflagration that engulfed the world.  The major problem is that we are no longer fighting WWII.  We have seen the severe weakness of the standard playbook in recent years, and unfortunately have failed to recognize and adapt to the changing realities the battlefield presents.

Take the Blitz for instance.  One could aptly call it a spear thrust, because that's almost exactly what it is.  The support, and the actual fighting formations all move on the same roads at the same pace in the same direction.  When facing down a numerically superior force in a defensive posture, the Blitz works quite well.  However as we saw in Iraq, sweeping aside a numerically superior force was almost laughably easy but securing the areas we had gained was next to impossible with the forces we had available.  Many of the weapons and soldiers that would ignite the insurgency were able to slip into the populace because the US formations were not able to sweep and clear the towns like Nassaryiah or Najaaf that they just swept through.  When the insurgency was finally upon the troops they had to go back and sweep and clear a lot of the same towns that they'd fought through in the initial push.  Whole stockpiles of military munitions were left unguarded, and the failure to provide order and prevent looting showed how totally inequitably the generals had prepared for the Iraq War.  One wonders how many lives on both sides might have been saved if the ground commanders had had both adequate forces, and the wherewithal to say that getting to Baghdad in 30 days was less important than securing Iraq for the long haul.

Then there's Strategic Bombing.  Perhaps we should have learned in the Korean War, when B-29 formations ran out of significant targets within the first week, that Strategic Bombing doesn't work if the enemy has no infrastructure.  Advocates of Strategic Bombing often point to WWII, in both Germany and Europe, and also to Bosnia and Kosovo as proof positive that it can work.  But there were other factors that make it clear that it was more a supporting factor than an actual causal one.  For instance during one night when Tokyo was hit with a massive incendiary strike over 100,000 people died, which is more than the combined total of deaths from both atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But Tokyo wasn't the only target hit.  Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe. . . really every major Japanese city was almost leveled, as was nearly every German city.  Even the London Blitz in 1940 should make it clear that such bombing it not entirely effective.  It is true that such attacks did affect industry, and thus have a supporting role in ending the war, but the Germans had to be almost completely smashed from both sides, and the Japanese had to have super-weapons dropped on them before they gave up.

Even the example of Kosovo is fundamentally flawed.  True the bombing campaign did have an effect, but not as great as we often try to make it sound like it did.  Did Milosevic step aside because American bombers were blowing up his infrastructure with impunity, or was it because the US was starting to mobilize ground forces?  We may never know exactly, but it raises enough of a question that we should not be so readily relying on air strikes as the one stop shop for winning wars.

Perhaps most of all the drone program should prove the inherent fallacy of Strategic Bombing.  Since there is no infrastructure of note for the Taliban and al Qaeda who seem perfectly happy to "rough it" in what is essentially early steel age conditions what targets are there left for the roving war planes?  People.  There's just one slight problem here.  In simplest language we don't know who we're killing.  We don't know what we're hitting, and once the missile is launched there's really no recalling it.  True there are a ton of terrorists that have been killed, but who else have we killed?  Doctors?  Engineers?  Perhaps even the very people that we might be able to use as assets against the propaganda of the terrorists.  Relying on Strategic Bombing in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Libya have lead to the situation spinning out of control, and the view from the top becoming even more confusing than ever.  We simply don't know whose doing what with whom and for what purpose anymore.

Now with armed intervention in Syria looking ever more likely it seems almost a foregone conclusion that it will take the exact same route as the intervention in Libya.  We have no idea who the rebels are, and no way of gaining even a semblance of control, but we will most likely use a series of low risk air strikes to "help" the rebels.  This will work *eventually* to weaken the Assad forces and potentially even weaken Iranian influence in the region, or it might backfire and create a chaotic churning mass of old rivalries and hatreds that continue to churn for the next decade or more.  The fault lines in the Middle East are not solely along the borders of Israel, but everywhere where there is more than one race, and Syria is perhaps one of the most diverse ME nation.  Arabs will kill Assyrians, Kurds will kill Arabs, and throwing Persians or the half dozen other ethnicity will only make it worse.  That is to say nothing of the rift between Sunni and Shi'a.  Worse still, as we have seen in Afghanistan, and Iraq, internal conflicts have a way of spilling over into neighboring nations.  The violence in Syria seems to be corresponding with an uptick in the violence in Iraq.

Libya was at least a stable state before the Qaddafi was targeted.  Now the Libyans don't even really have a semblance of order, it is controlled by roving militias which might as well be the same as firing the police forces of Chicago and turning it over to the Gangs.  This is to say nothing of the serious military hardware that was just left behind by the Qaddafi regime.  Surface to Air Missiles, (SAMs), anti-aircraft artillery pieces, artillery shells, long range rockets, mortars. . . in the hands of an army such things would be trivial and out dated even, but in the hands of terrorists who neither recognize nor fight for any state, unparallelled chaos could be wrought across the globe.  This is what is in store for us if we intervene in Syria as we did in Libya.

We can no longer afford to kid ourselves that we can win a few wars inexpensively but dropping a few "surgical" bombs in key places.  Air Power will always play a role in warfare for as long as we are able to fly, but we can not pretend anymore that it is the be all end all.   If we are to intervene in Syria it will take an Army and Marine Corps that we simply don't have anymore.  If we intervene we will need ground forces to secure the weapons left behind, and provide order during the transition.  With the looming draw downs due so sequestration, and the cost of over a decade at war, sending any appreciable ground force into Syria would strain the ground combat services nearly to the breaking point.  Worse still the Navy and Air Force would be unable to support those troops as they too are looking at drastic cuts to their manpower and capabilities.

In all honesty I can not see what anyone hopes to gain by involvement in Syria.  The same people who cited how Iraq was an "Illegal War" seem to be pushing us towards Syria for might the same reasons we got involved in Iraq.  With Us influence on the wane in the last five years, it would be doubtful how many allies we could entice to such a venture.  We could always "go it alone" but as I said before we simply don't have the forces, or perhaps even more important the political and popular will to do so.  Unfortunately our President has backed himself into a corner by talking about "red lines," and issuing dire threats to the Assad regime.  Now that it appears that chemical weapons have in fact been used the US must intervene or lose even more face and political clout internationally.  The Drone President can not simply whip out a few strikes from UAVs hold up some dead terrorists and claim victory this time.  As the Bard said; "Let us talk of Graves, of worms, and Epitaphs. . . Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings; How some have been depose; some slain in war, some haunted by the ghosts of those they deposed."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How do we talk about race?

I have come to the growing conclusion that at some point we'll have to deal with issues of race in America.  I've been watching with growing unease how Americans have been making race an issue.  I've been seeing more and more stories that are far more horrifying than the ones reported.  If we show Zimmerman as he was, a bumbling ne'r do well, then we must also show Martin as he was, perhaps once he had been the sweet loving child that was paraded before us, but when he and Zimmerman had their fateful encounter he was anything but.  Even beginning to detail his slow slide into the violent thuggish life so glamorized in popular culture leaves us shaken that one so young could become so bad so quickly. 

Even more troubling is when you read a whole host of incidents documented on American Thinker.  It really starts to beg the question who are the oppressors in our society.  I hold no ill will towards anyone based simply on their skin color, and I can not comprehend anyone that does.  It's a concept that I really can't wrap my mind around.  In all my musings on the subject, I can not honestly tell the difference between the Klu Klux Klan and the New Black Panthers.  To my mind, it seems that if they were not so hateful of each other, they would get along famously.  I could almost imagine the long ago Chapelle Show skit called the "black white supremacist,"  and the hilarity of the Klu Klux Black Panthers, if such people didn't horrify me on an instinctual level.

Why is it we are not allowed to point out the abysmal state of both Black and Hispanic communities.  Why is it that we are not allowed to point to the violent crime statistics and ask the simple and obvious, if painful questions, that arise from the numbers.  If we talk about the police racially profiling someone, and the over representation of the prison population by Black males, shouldn't we also point out the violent crime statistics that state who is more likely to commit crime?  If we talk about harsh sentencing based on racial bias shouldn't we also talk about who is getting sentenced and for what? 

I have seen equivocation after equivocation explaining away behavior that we should all find appalling.  For all the wrongness of the Rodney King verdict, that does not excuse the riots that followed.  Displeasure with the Zimmerman verdict does not excuse beating up or even killing random white people (which Zimmerman is not).  When do we demand individuals take responsibility for their actions and cease allowing anyone to claim that they're a victim while committing horrific crimes.  Society can be harsh at times, but for all the aspersions and judgements cast upon us, it can not make you beat someone into a bloody pulp.

There is this sub-culture growing in America.  A culture of violence, intolerance, racism and misogyny  by all means we should as a society point out the horrible damage it is doing to a whole generation (perhaps even several generations now) of Blacks and Hispanics.  The thug life so idealized in Rap, Hip Hop, and, R&B  places no value on the life or love of a woman, constantly refers to drugs, and brutish behavior.  Killing someone because they wore the wrong color, just to prove that you're "real" strikes me as a pointless waste all of America could get behind in wanting to see gone.  It fills me with a sense of emptiness to see so many people acting willfully ignorant, willfully stupid, being praised, while those that work hard and try to actually succeed are treated as beneath contempt.

Worse than that we are forced as a society by some unwritten set of rules never to challenge or question the escalating conflagrations.  Were we to call out those who are the worst offenders, the worst chargers of racial epitaphs, we are instead labeled racist.  Is it racist to point out that the very songs that are churned out in some horrific assembly line process and blared in clubs and bars across the country could well be labeled as hate speech if spoken by the "wrong" people?  Nor that an entire generation of young men have unrealistic expectations that they'll be the next big thing rolling in $100 bills and have faceless women randomly grind up against them.  It has become racist to point out that a whole generations idols are slowly duping these fools into following empty roads that lead to an early death leaving behind 20 or so "baby-mommas." 

I've had several friends point out to me that I'm White, so of course I wouldn't get it.  Such people completely ignore the logical inconsistency of saying I can not understand racial issues because of my race.  I do get it.  For generations "leaders" in the Black community have told them that they are victims.  Perhaps once that was true.  At some point however, you are the victim of your own choices, your own bad behavior.  In an almost Shakespearean way the ultimate causes of our miseries are usually ourselves.  You are no longer a victim if you are a willing participant.

So this is where I am.  I am confused.  The very idea that the amount of melatonin in one's skin  might somehow affect the outcome of that person's life is a concept foreign to me.  I believe your own actions, talents, and decisions, even the manner of your barring are the only real measure of whether your life outcomes are justified.  I don't understand how people could accept that they are victims, when their grandfathers just a few generations ago fought hard for the freedoms they enjoy.  I can not understand a whole culture that treats women as disposable and interchangeable.  I can not understand forcing us to remain in a cone of silence while the problem festers and gets worse.  Most of all I can not understand why a culture that is clearly suffering wouldn't want to fix itself, why it would want to doom its children to an underclass.  I can not understand racial issues.  For that reason, I think it's time, and past time we have some serious conversations as a nation on the subject. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

False Flag Freakazoids.

I'm sure with the Snowden debacle and the truly insane way the NSA has handled the whole affair, many more people are willing to believe in some of the crazier rantings of the conspiracy theorists.  From 9/11 Truthers to the Chemtrail crazies, it seems like lately these people have been coming out of the woodwork.  To be fair, a little healthy distrust of centralized power is probably a good thing.  To much power in anyone person's hand is never a good thing, but WOW. 

It always amazes me that the New World Order is just around the corner, every time something happens.  Then it's just around the corner a little later down the road.  As to who the NWO actually is. . . well it's the Illuminati.  Or the Free Masons.  Or the Zionist Jews.  Actually who the shadowy string pullers are varies on whose telling the tale.  The ultimate goal of a population of automatons while the elites have total world control seems to be the only common theme.  The funniest thing is that there actually was a system just like the one describe in all these various theories.  That would be Soviet Russia.

But if there really is a plot to have hundreds of planes fly over America daily spraying some sort of chemical into the upper atmosphere, the question that always seems to elude these hacks is motive.  What motive does this shadowy conspiracy have for "spraying" the skies with clouds that don't go away?  It seems this question, much as the question of who is actually behind it always seems to make these theories fall apart.  If we really blew up the twin towers, what did we gain?  A war that has sapped the national will to fight and weakened US preeminence abroad?  If building 7 was really a controlled detonation and not (as almost every expert who has actually studied what happened) a structural collapse due to sever damage from falling debris, what would anyone possibly hope to gain?  The twin towers had already fallen.  The damage was pretty much done.  Everyone was evacuated, so no one died when 7 WTC fell.  What possible point would any conspiracy have in overplaying it's hand at that point? 

The worst part is that a lot of these seemingly rational people will take bits and pieces of statements made or photographic evidence and distort what happened.  You see windows being blown out before the plane is all the way through the building so it MUST be controlled.  Completely ignoring things like shock-waves, and the fluid dynamics of explosions.  Fire doesn't melt steel. . . and yet since steel was first forged it was melted to be shaped by. . . fire.  In all their aspersions they completely ignore how unique the WTC and the attacks of 9/11 were, and thus there is no statistical way to back up that what happened on that day happened exactly as the official narrative says it happened.  People take a high school (at best) understanding of science and make wildly inaccurate conclusions about what happens, when actual experts look over said theories they're laughably simple to disprove even though the science behind it is difficult to explain to the layman.  

But the conspiracies are not limited to moments of evil like 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination.  Look up "moon landing" on Google and i bet you at least one of the suggestion Google provides will be that the whole thing was a hoax.  Despite the fact that the Mythbusters went out of their way to prove that in fact we did land on the moon, and most of the "evidence" pointed to as conclusive proof is actually easily explainable, people still refuse to admit that yes in fact we sent some truly brace souls to our nearest celestial body.  

Here's what I think.  Aside from the truly crazy, the reason that most people believe these things is that their world is ordered.  Things go on much as they have, and even though world events might touch them and shape the world around them they are not actually a part of said events.  If the price of milk goes up they see it a a slight against them, and not actually having to do with a complex formula figured out by the companies making selling and delivering the milk so that they can provide the product safely economically and actually make a buck in the process.  When terrible things happen for no apparent reason, or the reasons defy logic, our rational brain often searches for some reason that can "make the pieces fit" even if the picture itself makes no sense the pieces fit.   What people often fail to realize is that its the order we force on the world that's the illusion, not the chaos.  Nature is naturally chaotic, and only human society imposes things like the traffic grid of New York City.  When chaos strikes our lives that order is shattered and we are left scrambling for anything and anything to restore that sense of order which can often lead to people believing in things that simply aren't.

Sadly with the creation of the internet these folks will find each other and reenforce each others crazy.  Such people are *usually* not dangerous, but they can be destructive to a society if they reach great enough numbers.  After all Mien Kampf is one of the greatest examples of a conspiracy theory that caused unimaginable harm.  It is therefore the tired and sad (also thankless) duty of people who actually remain rational to point out the flaws in the logic of these theories.  To point out how it can not possibly work in the real world, or that they're making mountains out of molehills.  It is tiresome but sadly vital to continue to ensure that rationality wins out in the end.