Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Israel Sheds Gaza

The Conflict Hardly Pauses

At the insistence of Sharon, Israel has shed its onerous occupation of Gaza, and has withdrawn its citizens away from the huge surrounding population of Palestinians in the Strip. The Palestinians are celebrating now, but even so they managed to send two suicide bombers to Israel. One succeeded, the other was intercepted.

The picture is becoming quite clear. There is no real letup in the war between Israel and Palestine. There never will be in my lifetime, I believe. Israel will finish their wall, and will defend their land vigorously. The Palestinians will continue to assault Israel in all ways possible.
The only route to success in this fight is the death of the enemy; the total devastation of Hamas, and all the rest of the terrorist organizations in Palestine.

To the Israelis, the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist; and the only good Islamofacist Palestinian is a dead one, I would think. Jihadists must be wiped out wherever they arise. Or all of the West will face dhimmitude or death.

Personally, I have long ago chosen Christianity, and I will defend it, whatever happens, against the Islamic barbarians who are poised to attack us again and again.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Under Attack

Numb With Fear, You Fight Like Hell!

The first time they came at us with all bugles blowing, it was just before dawn. In the scope I could see them well, running to the hill like a horde of ants. But they carried weapons, not feelers, and they were shooting at the hill to make us keep our heads down. Before my panic paralyzed me, I grabbed my M-1 and took aim at the Gooks that were coming directly at me, and began firing as fast as I could aim. The hill around us was afire with our guys blasting away with everything they had, and the charging Gooks just kept on coming! I lost count of the number I thought I hit, but I continued to fire and reload, fire and reload, as fast as possible. The base of the hill was covered with their bodies, and the air stank with acrid powder smell as the sun came up.

The bugles blared again and they ran back to their lines. For the moment it was over. They brought chow around to us that day, along with more bandoliers of ammo, and my new Springfield too, all fitted out with a nightscope. The Sarge had done it again. After lunch, Sarge came over and went down the hill ahead of our hole. When he came back he looked at me for a long time.

"You are a good shot, Mann, he said, Lots of those Gooks out there were shot in the head. Did you aim for the head, or was it an accident?" "Sarge, I aimed for the base of their necks." "Why there", he asked? Well, I thought that if they leaned down when they ran, I'd hit them in the head, and if they kept on as they were it would be their throat, but if they stood up taller I'd get them in the chest," I said. "Besides, I said, I had to use that damned M-1, and it just isn't that accurate out at 300 yards." He looked at me again and asked if I could have hit them between the eyes if I aimed there. "With my rifle, yes," I said. He nodded and went off.

The rest of that day was spent in hauling the dead away from the hill and getting used to the feel of my new rifle. It was almost as nice as my own. We were whistled to chow that evening, and I got some nice words from the other guys. Sarge came over and said he had a suggestion for me and Paul. Move your sniper nest another 100 yards to the left tonight. "Hey Sarge, Jacoby told me to go to the right. If I move back to the left I will be right under the main observation post", I said.

With an exasperated look he told me to move it like he said. "The OP is not going to be just there tomorrow, understand?" I understood. We found a nice shell hole to the left, and set it up for sniping. Seems ironic, I thought. I cause us to be shelled, and then use one of the shell holes!

We had to register a few new points the next day, but it wasn't a big deal. I noticed that the OP had been moved downhill a bit. The reason for it became obvious when the hilltop was shelled all afternoon. We dug deeper into the holes and just hoped and prayed that no shell would find us. When the shelling let up, I heard a welcome sound: tanks were coming up to the left and right of us and taking camoflaged positions that would cover the approaches to our hill. My guess was that the Brass expected another attack tonight, and we were going to be ready for them. A couple of GIs came into our hole with us: we were being reenforced.

"Mann!" shouted the Sarge. "Yeah Sarge, what's up?" I asked. "This time I want you to look for leaders, not the slugs. They should be just behind the first wave, standing upright and walking, and others will show up mingled with the second wave as it musters about 1,000 yards away. Can you hit anything at that range? he asked. "That is far for a 30.06, but with luck I might get one or two", I said. "OK, do your best. And, Mann, good luck!" I cleaned all three of my weapons.

Late that afternoon they came at us again. Hundreds of them filled the area in a second it seemed. Paul scanned for me, and said find the forked tree, and then look to the right of it about ten yards. Sure enough this guy was standing there egging the Gooks on with a stick or something. Not quite 750 yards. I dialed it in and set the crosshairs on him. I fired. Miss, said Paul, but the guy was still there! This time I squeezed the trigger slowly and didn't realize when the gun went off. "You got him!" said Paul. Then he aimed me at a scrub tree farther away. Another officer with his stick, or sword in his right hand. No, it was a sword. I fired again. He sat down abruptly, and didn't get up. We kept this up till dark, and then I switched to my other rifle with the nightscope. I couldn't see well enough to hit anything so far away, but I took a few shots at movers down on the level ground. They stopped moving.

Another carnage was out there in front of us. They used up their people as if they were animals to be slaughtered. I had been too busy with my mission to see the whole battle, but Paul said it was an awesome display of firepower. He had to pass up targets because they were being masked by exploding shells from the tanks and artillery, and the napalm dropped by AD-1s. The Army rolled out the next day and took another hill a mile or so ahead of where we fought.

Another hill, another hole or two to dig. More sniping. And so it went, seemingly forever. But Sarge came around and said "call me Bart"! Why that simple thing was so important to me, I will never know. But it was.


Green Sniper

You Learn Your Way In

Paul and I were supposed to maintain the radio equipment in our team. We were assigned to an Air Force Forward Air Controller Team and spent a lot of energy and time to crawl up to the position the Team had selected. It was not easy to haul all the stuff I had brought, including my extra rifle case, scope and ammunition. The Lieutenant, whose name was Jacoby, told us to find a good spot about 100 meters away from the main position, and said "don't call us, we'll call you. But if you see any of the other side, you have my permission to shoot, 'cause you are far enough away from us that they won't target our position."

So we crawled further down the forward slope and over some distance till it looked like that 100 meters, and found a natural flat spot to dig our hole into. Some shrubbery grew there too, which gave us a little cover. This was to be home for a while, since there was a kind of standoff across the whole of Korea for the moment. That didn't stop either side from patrolling their front and probing each others defenses, and an occasional shelling, or in our case, close air support missions to vector, just to remind us that the war was definitely not over.

Later in the day we were whistled up to have chow with the rest of the team. The Sarge looked at my rifle and said: "Holy Cow! Is that a sniper rifle there?" I told him yes, that I had been qualified while at Fort Bragg. It was a long-standing hobby of mine to shoot."

"Great, he said, you can keep the Gooks busy and maybe take out an officer or two!" The Lieutenant is as good a maintainer as there is, so you can be our very own sniper!"

I need Paul, I said, to be my spotter; the field of view of my scope is pretty narrow, so he can bring me on target with the binoculars or the spotter scope. And, Sarge, I need to get more ammo, match grade, can you do that?

"OK, you got him!" said Sarge, who the old guys in the unit called Bart. We newbies didn't dare call him that yet! "and don't worry about the ammo, I have a good friend over with the army."

"One more thing, I asked. Can you get me a nightscope?" He said that he'd try like hell; "the Gooks favorite trick is to crawl up to your hole and cut your throat, so watch out for them! Oh! and if you don't have a .45 I will get you one -- easier to use up close."

Back up to our hole we went, this time to dig a sniper nest further around the hill. No sense in drawing fire to our little home in the ground. The next day we spent in scanning the whole field in front of us, and setting down registration points that were visible for both the rifle scope and the 10 x 50 binoculars. I zeroed in my rifle at 300 yards, shooting away from the front at a paper target. Paul scanned the area for anything interesting. So went another day.

Neither of us slept very well that night, the thought of being attacked in our hole was enough to unsettle our minds. We decided rather quickly that one of us would stand guard for 4 hours while the other slept, then change. You learn very fast to sleep whenever and wherever you are. Sarge woke me up to hand me a bunch of stuff he'd gotten from the Army that night.
"Won it all in a poker game over at the CP" he joked. We each got a .45 and some clips of ammo, and I got a starlight scope and a case of match grade rounds! We were in business for sure. I happily spent the next few hours mounting the starlight scope onto my M-1 and zeroing it in. I should have asked for another Springfield sniper rifle, I thought; one for day shooting and the other for nighttime. I made a mental note of that for the next day.

Paul woke me up that night saying: "Listen!" A bugle was playing way out there. And then another one came on to answer the first one. Then a third one blared out. This is scary stuff!
I got out the M-1 and scanned the area: nothing moved, and nothing was there that shouldn't be there. The bugles blew again. About that time George came to our hole and asked in. George was the number two in the team, a second Louey, so he must have something important to tell us, I thought.

"I thought you guys would be up!, he laughed. Those damned bugles can scare you to death, and that is just what those Gooks want. They blow them at night to wake us up and give us the jitters. So don't pay them any attention until they blow lots of them at once." We thanked him for the info, and Paul turned in again. I went back to my M-1 and kept scanning. Then I picked up a flash, something like a reflection of light just for an instant out there about 800 yards away.
So I focused on the spot, and in a while it flashed again, this time with the sound of a bugle accompanying it. The Bugler! I nearly said out loud! This I must try!

I got ready, and had my nightscope trained on the spot the next time he started. When I saw the flash of light, I fired. The bugle made a strange sound and then went silent. It was quiet for the rest of the night.

Sarge came over the next morning very early and asked me if I had fired at the bugler. I said yes, that I had.

"You dumb shit!, he roared, do you know what happens now?" No, I answered meekly.

"Well, get ready for a shelling! That's what you've called down on us! Next damned time, let the sucker blow all he wants!" He was really mad!

Sure as hell we had a shelling. Maybe a battery fire of six shells for each tube. No one was hurt, thank God, but it would have been on my conscience if there had been. They tore up the hill just below our positions.

It took a long time after that till I earned the right to call Sarge "Bart".

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Acceptable Social Behavior

Something Needs to be Done!

Blue Language

Today, my ears are continually bombarded with unacceptable language. Not in the barracks where I expected such talk, and had my fill of it, but around and in homes in an upscale neighborhood. When I came home from my stint in the military, I purged myself from the disgusting words and expressions I both heard and had to use to be understood by the men I served with. Now, many decades later, our society is being flooded with barracks talk, and I resent it.

In the South, it was expected that young ladies would bridle their tongues, even if they had heard such talk somewhere. It seems that many of today's young things think it is smart and "with it" to have a foul mouth. For me it is a huge turnoff. I would not associate with cussing women whose every other word is a no-no, nor would I hire them if I had openings. Oh yes, everyone passes through a phase where using dirty language is daring and exhibitionist, but there are limits. I believe parents have a duty to inculcate manners and decency in their offspring. In a way, however, society seems to expect such behavior and even condone it, which is sad. Polite society may be a distant dream now for most of us, but I hope it doesn't die out completely.


When I grew up, a tattoo was a terrible affliction that nice ladies shunned. Men, and boys too, looked down on such painted ladies, and assumed that they were "rough and ready". They were marked for life as having been through evil stages of their existence, and were thus singled out for lusty male attention, but never to think about bringing them home to meet Mom. Today, a tattoo is a common thing, almost an afterthought, until you realize what these women have often exposed to get many of their tattoos. I will never shake the idea that a tattoo is low white trash stuff, or the markings of a stripper or whore.


To my utter horror, women are piercing themselves all over the place! Ears, noses, eyebrows, tongues(!), lips, navels, and surely other parts not usually exposed. The cheap jewelry they stuff into their piercings presents a macabre picture of an African tribal initiation ritual for women, and the mere suggestion of actually kissing such a mouth or touching such abominations gives me the heaves. These women are trying so hard to be different that they have differentiated themselves right out of society. At least MY society!

Navel Waving

The style today of wearing pants down on the hips to show a good foot of belly, including the navel -- pierced, of course -- is far too much for me. To see young teens dressed this way, is to think of the most flagrant whores, strippers and street walkers I have ever seen. (Yes, I have seen lots of them.) The point of all of this dressing down is, I presume, to attract attention, mainly from boys, I guess. Do they have to assume the trappings of lowlife to do that? A Brittany Spears outfit may be OK on the stage, but should it be copied and worn in shopping malls or in school? I think not.

The Big Question

If all of these modern ways of displaying their plumage, paint and talents is considered common, I wonder what their morals are behind their decking out like whores? Common too? Are we getting to the stage where our teens are sexual exhibitionists like Spring Break shows or Go-Go girls? Are they not only showing off, but also sexually promiscuous tarts? I sincerely hope not, but the signs are not very favorable, in my opinion! I wonder also what kind of men or boys would be attracted to these pretend ladies of the night? Not the kind that my daughters would have brought home to meet Dad, I am sure.

Wild Hairdos

Time and again I have observed young women, and some men too, coloring their hair weird hues of orange, red, purple and white, spiked the clumps, and inserted odd things at the tips.
I can only shake my head in wonder and disgust. An attractive young thing makes a monster out of herself -- for what? It is not even a fun-looking transformation either, like that of a clown, but rather somber and furtive, as if they are ashamed of themselves except in the company of their compatriots in a madhouse. My youngsters would never have gotten out of the house looking like some of these girls do. Where are their parents?

Probably drinking, using, and partying with the other parents, and simply can't be bothered with their youngsters -- the little copycats!

Friday, August 26, 2005


Media Frenzies A Turnoff

I have had enough of media swarms that last for months!

We have had a parade of media swarms over the past few years that has really turned me off! You know them: Cindy Sheehan; Natallie Holloway; Scott Peterson; Michael Jackson; Dennis Rader; and a host of non-entities (to me), such as Howard Stern, Bill Mahar, Charlie Rose, and Howard Dean. My suggestion to the media is to examime the priorities of subjects we have before us, and to report on them factually first, then have an analysis of the pros and cons of the issues surrounding the situation.

If there is not much going on, such as in the Congress now because of vacation recess, then it gets a pass. With a little effort, I could come up with a list of such subjects, that to me would vastly outshine the swarm subjects of today. Why not simply report the beginnings and ends of these morbid and voyeur-tickling events, and do away with the talking heads and the sentimental op-ed pieces on a daily basis? The speculations of some of these "news sources" are outrageous and totally misleading. Witness the enormous media efforts in Aruba, which are ruining our relations with the Arubans as we continue to misunderstand the procedures of their government. By the time Peterson was convicted, I was willing to go execute the media myself because of the incessant coverage.

There ought to be a law!

Unfortunately, there is a law, and it supports the media. It is our precious free speech law. My vote has to be to turn my set to another channel and hope it too doesn't suddenly bring in an "alert" about some ongoing media storm. Or to get a DVD movie.

Oh well!

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Illegal Immigrants

A Comprehensive Approach

I fail to see how anyone can support the continuation of illegal immigrants flooding into the country and taking up a subrosa life here for years. I fail to see how employers of Illegals can flaunt the laws against hiring them, but most of all, I fail to see why the Government is not cleaning up this mess right now! If it is because George W. Bush is holding the Feds back then woe on him.

We have two main problems here, and both need to be addressed immediately: 1) our borders should be far better protected from the illegal entry of foreigners; and 2) The Illegal immigrants within the country must be accounted for and forced to either become legal or to leave.


I am in favor of the Wall approach, supplemented by the usual, but beefed up, border patrols and sensor surveillance. A high and solid wall is not impenetrable or unscalable, but it does represent a significant challenge to all but the most robust people. To the extent that it keeps out most of the transgressors it will do a good job. Portals through the wall can be carefully controlled to admit people with a legal pass, yet prevent illegal entry. Our need for workers is great; therefore, setting up and managing an effective guestworker system is imperative, together with foolproof registration and identification procedures.

Further, I am in favor of bringing law enforcement into the effort directly, as opposed to making Illegal entry only an INS problem. Let unidentified entrants be shipped back over the border by the law enforcement personnel that captured them the very same day. There should be only one essential way for legal entry, and that is through the normal processes of the DOS, INS and the guestworker program. But there should be many ways for them to be forced to exit!

Illegals Within

It is criminal that we have 11 million illegal immigrants in the country! That is a huge number, which makes it a serious problem in many dimensions. The most obvious point is that they are here for jobs, and they are being hired by employers who know that they are illegal, but who pretend not to know. That is for crass monetary reasons.

Law enforcement must be made to go after employers of illegals, and the fines for hiring them should be raised to a hurtful amount, say, $25,000 per first incident per illegal. This should be raised further for second and third offenses to $100,000 for the second offense and $200,000 plus 3 years in jail for the third offense, again per incident per illegal. So, if I hire ten illegals I could be forced to pay $250,000 for a first offense and a million dollars for a second similar offense.

This draconian penalty system alone would, if enforced, cause many illegals to flee the country for lack of employment as it is phased into being. Or, they would surface and request to be entered into the guestworker program properly. Judging by the reasons they came here in the first instance, most would elect to sign up for the guestworker program, and thus we would regain a measure of control.

There is another aspect that I have not found mentioned in any of the tomes I have read on illegal immigration. That is the fact that many of us know and see illegals every day in the normal course of events. We know that they are illegal, but we do not do anything about it, thereby pushing the problem off onto largely indifferent law enforcement officials. So the immigration problem has no observers who report occurrances.

In my opinion, those who see a person breaking the law, which an illegal does so long as he is inside of our borders, and does nothing about it, is himself breaking the law, or at least not performing his moral obligation to report lawbreakers. Since local lawmen have little authority to handle illegals, they tend to keep hands off so long as there is no crime involved. So the further answer is to empower local lawmen to make arrests and to start the process of expelling illegals. As far as I am concerned, this is a problem that has been exascerbated by the State Department and the INS, so they need to be defranchised from the enforcement process.

Friday, August 19, 2005


On Rousseau's Social Contract

The General Will

The concept of The General Will is at the heart of Rousseau's political philosophy. Thus, if it is a useful concept, then the Social Contract itself is useful. In America, we are used to this concept, since it is embedded in our Constitution, but not in the way Rousseau defined it. He proposed that the General Will is the sum of the Particular Wills of the people, but, since he knew that particular wills would be "all over the map", he supposed a synthesis of the particular wills of citizens that is common to all, which is always to be applied in a general manner.

How this synthesis is derived is dealt with rather briefly. The Legislator is to design the General will, and is to be the source for drafting any changes that might arise. This Legislator must be an exceptional man, highly intelligent, understanding of human nature, and able to articulate the general sense of propositions in clear language. Then the citizens in assembly must unanimously approve the first set of Laws representing the General Will. Subsequent changes must be voted upon by the citizens in assembly as well.

This is a form of the direct democracy that was practiced in early Greek City-States, as opposed to the representative democracy that we have now in the US. Rousseau insisted that citizens act on their own, independent counsel in voting and not to form factions to support one or another proposition.

A key provision of the Social Contract is that the losers in a vote on a proposition must accept their loss, not only stoically, but also accept that they were in error for going against the will of the majority, and that they must mend their ways. Else, they will be forced to accept the will of the majority, according to Rousseau, "in order to be free!".

Critique of the General Will

In the first place, before the citizens vote for the formulation of the laws and the general will, one must inquire as to the nature and background of the prospective citizens. The range of man is great: rich, poor; intelligent, stupid; young, old; married, single; educated, ignorant; worldly, naive; aggressive, passive; Unafraid, afraid; and so on... Any complete set of laws must take into account its general applicability over the full range of the conditions and states of man and woman.

To do this, as we know in the case of the US, is to have not only a written Constitution but also a written body of law and precedent that has grown voluminously through over 250 years of jurisprudence in multiple levels of the court system. Under the initiation of Rousseau's ideas, the citizen's assembly will be in session for a very long time to reach this level of agreement on even a minimally complete and comprehensive set of laws.

In my view, this task would never reach full acceptance; certainly not for a large and diverse population, and certainly not in an existing and modern society. While the notion of such an ideal Will is appealing to some, it is not only impractical, it is contrary to human nature, unless, of course, one molds each individual into a uniform citizen with a uniform outlook and intelligence level. Ant-like!

But even supposing the citizens do accept the initial General Will and laws, at the first instance of conflicting views, there will be an instant tendency to take sides and form factions to build support for one view or another, at which point this utopian ideal is shattered. Then too, if the majority attempts to impose its will on a strong minority by force, I believe the reaction would be: "There goes freedom!" The minority would become the slave of the majority, which sooner or later would sunder the society.

It is the genius of our forefathers that they organized a state which has lasted for 250 years or more, and has avoided the pitfalls of Rousseauian philosophy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Cindy Sheehan at Crawford, Texas

I have excerpted Thornton's article because it expresses the frustration I feel over this media circus concerning Sheehan. Read the whole thing!

Broadcasting Grief

We should remember that misery breeds anger, not wisdom.

by Bruce Thornton

Private Papers

The liberal media is delighted with Cindy Sheehan . This is the woman who lost a son in Iraq and has camped outside President Bush's Crawford Ranch, intending to stay until the President speaks with her or returns to Washington. For the reporters waiting around in the dusty heat of West Texas, Ms. Sheehan is a godsend, a dramatic, heart-wrenching story that gives the media both a telegenic drama and another opportunity for indulging their dislike of Bush and the war in Iraq.
So yes, a brutal dictator who has murdered hundreds of thousands and is eager to achieve weapons to kill millions more should be eliminated, the suffering that he inflicts and that ruins our dinner stopped — but once the butcher's bill arrives, we change our minds. The same people who castigate us for allowing the slaughter in Rwanda and Sudan and a dozen other venues now chide us for insuring that such brutality stops in Iraq. They chafe at the unforeseen consequences, mistakes, and inadvertent death that always and everywhere has accompanied the use of force. How many tens of thousands died unnecessarily in World War II, the “good war,” because of such contingencies? The tragic truth of action is that we have to accept those risks and accept that to achieve a future good we often have to risk a present evil. The only alternative is never to use force, and pacifism is a juvenile ideal refuted on every page of history. (italics mine)

Thursday, August 11, 2005


The Social Contract

Shown here is the schema for Rousseau's Social Contract. I need to clean up the annotations, they were transformed somehow into blurs. Will repost later.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


The Empire of the United States

Today, we see the phrase hegemony or empire directed at the US without knowing precisely what is meant or even whether it is true that there is such a thing. Most Americans are insistent that we are not an empire and have no intentions of becoming one. On the other hand, Europeans, almost to a man, see the US as definitely an empire and rail against it feverishly, to the amazement of Americans. So what is the truth?

By the classical definition of empire we are certainly not one. We do not control a significant group of foreign nations, bound to us by conquest, and directed by our government. We do not manage this group’s economies, nor do we exploit their resources, because the group does not exist. Neither are we inclined at all to annex new lands and peoples for the growth of the US. Where, then, does this notion of American hegemony or empire come from? Will someone tell us who we are?

The first thing that is true is that we are by far the largest economy in the world and have a voracious appetite for raw materials to feed our industries and our population with goods, including, of course oil. Does this fact alone make us an empire? Hardly: we are simply the largest consumer of resources that we do not own, and pay for them year in and year out.

The second thing that is true is that we have the most powerful military ever assembled in the world. It is in fact stationed in many places around the globe, and has over 31 bases having a thousand men or more permanently assigned. This is due partly to the global Cold War we pursued successfully against the USSR for a half century, and partly due to the stabilization and peacekeeping duties we undertook in a number of nations at the behest of and under the umbrella of “legitimatization” from the UN: South Korea, and Kosovo for example.

Our current military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are both intended to stabilize these countries under more democratic regimes, and to diminish the Islamofascist terrorists where they are found. There is no plan whatsoever to subjugate these nations to the US, nor even to appropriate their oil. In fact, the sovereign Iraqi government has control of their oil now. We will leave when our stabilization objectives are accomplished.

Does this defacto military dominance we have found ourselves in since the end of the Cold War constitute an empire? Of itself it doesn’t, especially if one gives due credit to the good and even noble intentions of the US. We threaten no nation that is a reasonable international player, whatever their government.

We do threaten Iran and North Korea now because of their suspected development of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, and we are joined in this effort by England, France, Germany, China, Russia, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. This is not an empire-building exercise, it is a defensive effort by major nations to reduce the possibility of nuclear war.

Therefore, a worldwide military presence and dominant military capability does not mean a defacto empire in and of itself, if you take into consideration the true intentions of those forces.

There is a third factor, that of the promulgation of American culture and products throughout the world by means of films, music, TV programs, coke, Macdonald’s and other fast-food operations, and many other products, including automobiles and trucks, and earth-moving equipment. This is certainly a form of "invasion," since with the sales of goods comes the overseas offices of US corporations. But it has only a peaceful, business and trade intent. We are in competition around the globe with other international companies for the same set of products as well. It is business as usual: no empire! So what about economic penetration and the dollar standard throughout the world? Is this a form of economic empire?

At the moment, the US is a debtor nation, and owes in the neighborhood of three trillion dollars to foreign countries. This is hardly a dominant position from which to rule! Empires are said historically to be very solvent indeed, with the empire a net lender to its subjugated nations. So we cannot say that the US has an economic empire, except perhaps within its own borders.

What we are led to is that neither in economics nor military nor culture and products, nor in the intent of the citizens does the US have or want an empire that places us in a dominant and controlling position in the world. Is the potential there? Certainly! But anyone that knows the US also knows that our intentions are benevolent, despite the misguided harangues of anti-American groups in the world. We promote freedom for people worldwide, but this does not rate as imperialism or empire-building.

The USA Has No Empire

Monday, August 08, 2005


Astronomy is Humbling

This Hubble telescope picture of the Ghost Head Nebula strikes awe in my heart, and wonder in my mind. The immensity of a single nebula of millions of stars is simply stunning to contemplate. How many earth-like planets could be there?

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Paris in April

Sacre Coeur

This photo was taken on a overcast and rainy day in April, 2004. I took a taxi there on the last day of our stay in Paris, and proceeded to photograph many scenes in the area.

Contrary to expectations, we were received in Paris warmly, and were treated as honored guests of the country. But, of course, we were not exposed to those areas where demonstrations and riots might have happened.

I must have taken five rolls of film there, especially of Notre Dame, and its surrounds, the Louvre, and street scenes I thought interesting, such as around the Champs Elysee.

It is sad that the spate of French I learned over 50 years ago was in such terrible shape! I was intimidated to speak more than necessary. But the little I did attempt appeared to be very appreciated, as though I, the ignorant American, had at least made a try at it!



Victor Hanson writes on the decision to use the A-bomb.

August 05, 2005

60 Years Later Considering Hiroshima.

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

For 60 years the United States has agonized over its unleashing of the world’s first nuclear weapon on Hiroshima on August 6, 2005. President Harry Truman’s decision to explode an atomic bomb over an ostensible military target — the headquarters of the crack Japanese 2nd Army — led to well over 100,000 fatalities, the vast majority of them civilians.

Critics immediately argued that we should have first targeted the bomb on an uninhabited area as a warning for the Japanese militarists to capitulate. Did a democratic America really wish to live with the burden of being the only state that had used nuclear weapons against another?

Later generals Hap Arnold, Dwight Eisenhower, Curtis LeMay, Douglas Macarthur, and Admirals William Leahy and William Halsey all reportedly felt the bomb was unnecessary, being either militarily redundant or unnecessarily punitive to an essentially defeated populace.

Yet such opponents of the decision shied away from providing a rough estimate of how many more would have died in the aggregate — Americans, British, Australians, Asians, Japanese, and Russians — through conventional bombing, continuous fighting in the Pacific, amphibious invasion of the mainland, or the ongoing onslaught of the Red Army had the conflict not come to an abrupt halt nine days later and only after a second nuclear drop on Nagasaki.

Truman’s supporters countered that, in fact, a blockade and negotiations had not forced the Japanese generals to surrender unconditionally. In their view, a million American casualties and countless Japanese dead were adverted by not storming the Japanese mainland over the next year in the planned two-pronged assault on the mainland, dubbed Operation Coronet and Olympic

More at (Original Article)

Hanson states the case well in this paper. In the end, war presents terrible options, and sometimes they are all bad. The decision by Truman to drop the A-bombs was motivated by the necessity he saw for saving American lives in the forthcoming invasion of Japan. Japan did surrender unconditionally immediately after the second bomb was dropped. One cannot ignore the context within which he made this decision, however horrible the outcome.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Operation Iron Fist

Superior Force Wins

Ever since the Iraqi war began, I have been amazed at the pitifully small size of the force being used to subdue the terrorists. Because of the too few troops, many border areas of this huge country are available to the insurgent groups for assembly, resupply, rest and reenforcement. At the peak of the invasion, we had about 250,000 troops engaged, where most military experts (and this arm-chair general, too!) had suggested at least double that number to stay around to police the country after major fighting had concluded. This was a strategic and tactical mistake, and it has cost lives and resources that needn't have been lost, as well as time to finish the job over there.

Imposition of Martial Law

But there were even more missteps. We chose to skip declaring martial law throughout the country. This meant free movement for insurgents around the nation by van and auto was quite feasible, and car bombings could be used easily. The reason for this avoidance of martial law was to project the image of our forces as "Liberators" and not "Occupiers." The message to the Iraqi was to get back to situation normal as quickly as possible, then we would leave.

This played into the hands of the insurgents who had planned for insurrection ever since it became obvious that the US would invade, and had hidden vast quantities of munitions throughout Iraq for that purpose. Our checkpoints have inhibited movements somewhat, but certainly not well enough to halt car bombings. We have persisted to this day in trying to keep a "business as usual" face on daily life in Iraq, but ask an Iraqi, and he will call us "occupiers", not liberators.

Had we declared martial law, and enforced it with sufficient troops saturating the key areas we could have accomplished several objectives quickly in an operation I dubbed "Iron Fist" just to have a name:

1. Limiting movement of insurgents by a strict curfew, multiple roadblocks, and observation of all major streets and intersections 24/7.

2. Doing house-by-house, and building-by-building searches for munitions thoroughly. No mosque or other religious sites should be immune to search and seizure. Anyone found possessing munitions should be arrested and jailed.

3. Declaring Iraq a weapons-free zone, and shooting to kill anyone carrying one that couldn't be identified as friendly troops or police.

4. Immediately reforming the old Iraqi army under our command regardless of the probability of it being riddled with terrorists or sympathizers. And then proceeding to weed the unreliables out. By this maneuver, we would have effectively corralled this large pool of fighters and put them to work restoring the country, possibly unarmed, with our troops.

5. After a few instances of suicide car bombings, or preferably before, of course, we should have taken far more strict measures to severely limit use of automobiles and trucks in the cities for a while.

6. After the first instance, or again preferably beforehand, we should have realized the danger to Iraqis waiting in lines to apply for police or other jobs. Protection could have been providied them by concrete barriers rather inexpensively.

7. Many Iraqis insisted upon driving their autos and trucks directly at our troops and checkpoints at high speed. This gave the appearance of being a bomb attack on the checkpoint or troops, of which there had been many. The rules of engagement were to first attempt to stop them by shooting their engines out, but if that didn't work, to shoot the driver. In many instances shooting the engine out had no effect, either because the 5.56mm rounds could not do enough damage, or because the vehicle was on a downhill slope and simply kept rolling. So the driver was killed.

The only thought I have on how to minimize this kind of situation is to use the martial law announcement channels to set forth and post the rules for traffic in the cities, including speed limits, and cautions about heading straight for checkpoints at high speed.

Closing the Borders Effectively

There are long borders between Iraq and its neighbors. It takes cooperation to limit traffic across their frontiers. There has been some cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but little or no cooperation from Iran or Syria. These countries should be pressured heavily to stop traffic intended to enter Iraq. Border incursions should be authorized both in hot pursuit of insurgents and in special forces raids inside the borders to combat groups of insurgents.

This is another reason to have a far larger army available. Setting up an effective border interdiction system demands troop power, and many helicopters and surveillance drones. Constant patrolling is needed, with the patterns not easy to guess, and the actual patrol routes known only to a few.


Another major deficiency of the military was sticking to the Hummer, but mysteriously not using Bradleys more extensively after the major engagement period. Even the Bradley was vulnerable to RPG fire, though, and the Hummer was initially unprotected against even rifle fire. The IED, or roadside bomb was and is effective against all vehicles, especially when the insurgents upped their explosive power.

In my opinion, there should have been faster reaction to the equipment situation, and immediate reequipment of our units with better-armed and armored vehicles. There are several new vehicles on the market, and I am familiar with one from South Africa that has a V-shaped hull which redirects bomb blast up and away from the crew inside. I understand we are procuring 168 or them, but it is limited by the production rate of the company there. We should have bought the license and produced them ourselves much more rapidly. Our new Stryker vehicle is apparently a good attempt, but it does not have the V-hull that is so important for crew survival.

Widening the Scope of the War

We did not see the Arab Street rushing to sign up to retaliate against our Iraqi invasion. But at some point they just might become so inflamed that they would bring many more fighters into the action. This we can handle, since it is how we fight the best -- against large formations or masses of troops.

What must be accounted for is the possibility of Iranian, Syrian and even Egyptian armies forming up to fight us. Their combined active troop power is well over a million men. This is a third compelling reason to have overwhelming force in the region. With our strength assured over there, these countries would be most reluctant to attack us, which would permit us to finish our job in Iraq and move on.

But, suppose one or more of those nations did form up to move on us? We would have a tough fight on our hands, and would need to have large reenforcements ferried over there on short notice. I would prefer that the standing forces we have in Iraq could withstand such an attack, and even win, with rapidly augmented air force and naval air support.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


British Police Terrorist Policy

Act Like a Bomber and be Killed

Recently, a team of British police were chasing a man they suspected of being a terrorist through the streets of London and down into an Underground station. They caught up with him, tackled him to the ground, and then shot him in the head five times. They have instituted a policy regarding potential bomber threats not to take chances if they believe it is possible that they are dealing with a bomber. They shoot for the head in order to prevent the suspect from detonating a bomb.

In this case, tragically, there was no bomb. However, the man was a Brazilian that was illegally overstaying his visa, which is why he was runnng from the police. There is some question as to whether he had on a jacket or coat that would hide a bomb.

Immediately, I asked myself if this was a fair and just policy.

From any point of view, the taking of a life is a grave matter. It is even graver if the taking is not as a result of conviction for a high crime by a court, but rather by an officer on the scene.
Under the circumstances, however, there is no question in my mind that the police were acting properly within their guidelines, and could well have saved many lives had the suspect been carrying a bomb. It is terribly sad that the only crimes in this case were the illegality of the man's passport and stay in Britain, and the running from the police after being told to stop many times.

But the fault lies with this man entirely. If you look like a bomber, act like a bomber, talk like a bomber, respond to police like a fugitive, and run away from the police into a crowded public place, you have just sealed your death warrant. Had the man stopped in an open area, threw up his arms and helped the police to determine that he was not carrying a bomb, he would be alive today.

I trust that this policy has been given sufficient press in Britain so that everyone knows the death-dealing possibilities if they make foolish, terrorist-like moves in public.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Muslim Organizations Against War

Thanks to David Horowitz, we are getting a better handle on the interlocking and multiple groups that are attempting to undermine the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremists.


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