Pages

Monday, October 25, 2004

Managing Dead Horses

In my travails as a manager and a periodic lecturer on management, I am constantly amazed at how some managers, many of them highly placed, seem to continue making the same mistakes over and over again. Explaining good management practice never seems to penetrate because the lessons don’t seem to fit the problem as these managers perceive it. Sometimes, the lesson is best explained with an analogy and these are some examples of poor management as explained by a fellow project manager who has clearly encountered more than one of these management solutions to otherwise intractable management problems.

In terms of Project Management it is always a good plan to get off of a horse when you discover that it is dead, but this logic isn’t always followed by modern managers who seem to insist on alternative strategies. I’m sure you will recognize some of these strategies and may even have attempted some of them yourself, so here they are – the alternative strategies to dismounting a dead horse.
1. Changing Riders
2. Buying a stronger whip
3. Falling back on “This is the way we’ve always ridden”
4. Appointing a committee to study the horse
5. Appointing a committee to study the horse’s equipment
6. Arranging a visit to other sites to see how they ride their dead horses
7. Increasing the standards for the performance of dead horses
8. Increasing the standards for the performance of dead horse riders
9. Appointing a committee to revive the dead horse
10. Appointing a committee to review the acquisition standards for horses
11. Appointing a committee to review the job description for riders
12. Creating a training session to improve riding skills
13. Comparing the state of dead horses in today’s environment with those of previous decades to show that today’s dead horses are really an improvement
14. Changing the standards so that the horse is no longer technically dead
15. Hiring an external consultant to show how the dead horse can still be ridden
16. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase their collective performance
17. Increasing funding (horse feed) since the horse is obviously malnourished
18. Declaring that “No horse is too dead to ride”
19. Doing a study to determine if outsourcing will reduce the cost of riding the dead horse
20. Buying a computer program which is guaranteed to enhance dead horse performance and productivity
21. Declaring a dead horse more cost effective than a live one
22. Forming a process action group to find uses for dead horses
23. Promoting the dead horse to a position of greater responsibility

Did you wince? Did you recognize some of the actions you may have taken in the past when you discovered that a project you launched isn’t meeting expectations? Certainly it is easier to look back and criticize because hindsight is always 20:20 but then at the time some of these may have seemed quite reasonable. Of all of these the first one is the one that is most commonly implemented because it presumes the horse is dead because of the rider so what is needed is another rider. At the base of this strategy lies the manager’s belief that the project he initiated is sound but it is the leadership (not his of course) that failed. Sometimes this dead horse will have several riders and owners before a manager has the courage to declare the horse is dead and no rider can get it to run or even walk.

Another favorite and one that you see with company mergers, is the idea that if you can’t get the dead horse to perform, harness it to another dead horse in the hopes that they both will suddenly come to life and perform as never before. How many times have you observed this in the corporate world? Ironically, when this happens you sometimes get the Zombie effect as the two dead horses begin to shamble and stumble about in some semblance of competitive life.

The fact is that when the horse is dead – bury it. This is a hard lesson but it is surprising how many otherwise intelligent and reasonably competent managers can’t bring themselves to declare the horse is dead even though they can see it is lying on its back with all four feet straight up. But as an experienced Management Consultant, I must admit that in many cases the manager who has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the horse was dead was promoted to a higher level position seemingly reserved especially for dead horses with no discernible brain activity, frequently with such grand titles as Vice Chairman or even CEO. I guess this is attributed to the miracle of modern (management) medicine and it requires the intercession of an outside consultant to declare the horse is dead.


By way of disclosure this dead horse analogy is not original with me but I do not know its origin so I cannot attribute it to the original author. Only the comments are mine. C.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Observing the Passing Parade

Several things have been in news recently that have caused me to reflect on bravery and courage. One of the things that I have observed in that people who have performed extraordinary acts of courage and bravery general point out that they simply did what had to be done. They didn't view their actions as particularly extraordinary or even brave, they were simply doing their duty. But this is physical courage and reactive, these people took action in reaction to some event or circumstance and did so without a great deal of thought or analysis. I don't mean to denigrate or disparage these acts of courage, but courage takes many forms and sometimes, it requires a great deal of courage to do what is right rather than do what is expedient and this brings me to John Kerry.

There is no doubt that John Kerry served in a combat zone and was indeed under enemy fire. Whether or not he was a hero is really beside the point because he did do his duty and as we see from others, most acts of physical courage are reactive so it is easy to accept that John Kerry did in fact display physical courage. But that really isn't the point or certainly not the crucial point. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up and say "this is what I stand for" in an unequivocal way. President Harry Truman was famous for his moral courage. He took the position that I was elected to be President and I will do my best for the country. If you don't agree with me and my decisions, don't vote for me -- end of discussion. President George Bush hasn't been quite this direct, but he has effectively stated his intentions for the future and stood by his decisions in the past. He clearly believes in what he is doing and if you disagree, he is sorry but he doesn't plan on changing. But what does Senator Kerry stand for? What kind of moral courage has he displayed? He has yet to take any controversial stand and stick by it. For example, he clearly stated that he would expect any decision he made regarding military force would have to pass an international test. This was widely interpreted to mean that he would not act to use force to protect American interests unless the UN sanctioned it. When confronted with this interpretation, he didn't repudiate it, but he did try to soften it by saying he would always act to defend America. Not quite the same thing.

He has stated that he fully intends to raise taxes for the rich, except not for the very rich like himself. He and his wife pay 12.5% in taxes while the average "rich American" that he intends to tax pays considerably more in taxes. When confonted with this fact, his response was he would move to close the tax loopholes. The translation, is he doesn't plan on changing anything that will cost him but he fully intends to change things that will cost others.

His stance on military force is hardly distinguished. He voted against the Gulf War even after it was sanctioned by his treasured UN. Even though Kuwait was invaded by Iraq, he still voted against the war. He voted to give President Bush the authority to use force but he later equivocated by stating that he never actually expected the President to use force. He voted for and then against funding the military equipment and body armor he lated charged the President of not providing. Are these the actions of someone who has moral courage? With Senator Kerry, no one can ever be sure of precisely what he believes in because he only seems to believe what is expedient.

On a different subject, I see that the CEO of K-Mart is about to receive $94M in compensation even though the company has passed through one bankruptcy and is struggling to avoid another. The company has laid off thousands of people but the Board of Directors seems to think that it is morally right to pay the CEO what can only be viewed as an obscene amount of money considering that he was the leader who led the company into disaster. Here is a Board who has no moral compass rewarding an individual who has even less of a sense of morality.

The ACLU is running an ad opposing the Patriot Act. This ad points out that this act enables the government to search your house without first notifying you of its intention. Well -- helloooo -- the government has never been under any obligation to notify you that it intends to search your house. All that is required is that the government produce a search order signed by a judge and the Patriot Act has not changed that. It does permit the government to get one order and then apply it other cell phones since the terrorists move from phone to phone in an effort to thwart the government. The ACLU has also refused a grant from the Ford Foundation because they restricted the ACLU from using the funds to support terrorists organizations. Talk about being out of touch with reality. The ACLU also has successfully forced the government to provide lawyers to all of the terrorists held in Cuba. The judges in this country have completely lost their minds. Should we have provided lawyers to every POW we captured in WW II or Korea BEFORE locking them up? They successfully got one of their terrorists freed and he merrily went back to murdering and bombing in Afghanistan. Something needs to be done regarding this organization because it is becoming a serious danger to the country. Oh well, as Scarlett said -- "Tomorrow is another day".

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

What Ever Happened to Red China

When did the “Peoples Republic of China” become simply “China”? As far as I know the Chinese government still thinks of themselves as “The Peoples Republic”, yet the media no longer refers to them as the PRC. For that matter when did China cease being “Red China” and morph into the PRC and then to “China”? Are they less “Red” today? Has China become democratic or less communist? Of course not, what has happened is the media wants to turn world attention away from the abuses by the remaining Communist Regimes. North Korea is no longer “Communist North Korea” instead it has evolved into “North Korea” or if any negative connotation is offered, it is referred to as a “rogue regime”, but rarely if ever is it referred to as “communist”. The same is true of Cuba, suddenly Castro has gone mainstream as the Left tries to garner acceptance for his worker’s paradise, while ignoring the continued suppression of dissent and persecution of those who dare to challenge him. Did Communism die with the Berlin Wall? The recent anti-war protests were organized by the communists but for the most part in their haste to turn opinion against the administration the part played by the communists has either been glossed over or ignored altogether. What is going on in the media and when did communism die? For that matter what about its birth?

Interestingly, Communism is actually a moral reaction to capitalism and both are simply structured philosophical descriptions of market dynamics and part of the Science (?) of Economics. Commerce was largely unexplored or at least languished among the scholarly pursuits until the 1600’s. The history of the development and evolution of Economics is eloquently described in the “Worldly Philosophers”[1] Adam Smith in his book the “Wealth of Nations” actually is describing the real workings of the world of commerce at the dawning of the Industrial Age. Communism as described by Marx and Engels came as a philosophical reaction to the dark side of capitalism. This reaction can be summed up as being a moral judgment on the unequal distribution of wealth but it is a long way from formulating a philosophy and acting upon it. So Communism wasn’t born until 1917.

What seems to have escaped everyone’s attention is that governments can be capitalist, socialist, or even communist, but the actual form of government is none of those. Governments are democratic and freely elected, or they are hereditary absolute monarchies, or dictatorships. Communist governments are and have always been dictatorships. No Communist government has ever been freely elected. Yet from the very outset the Leftists have been unable to get past the inherent morality of Communist philosophy and see its failures in practice. In 1921 Lincoln Steffens upon his return from the Russia of Lenin and Stalin said “I have seen the future and it works”.[2] Of course virtually all of the leftist writers and journalists at the time were offering very positive views of Communism. So the positive view of Communism has a long history and includes some very impressive names who offered if not outright support, certainly provided a patina of approval. Shortly after assuming the Presidency President Truman said “You are needlessly worried about Russian Communism, I am worried about British Imperialism”. A view he quickly came to realize was erroneous but a position that the liberal Leftists never came to share.

Instead the media and the Leftist intelligentsia glossed over the excesses, blatant falsehoods, and most of all the atrocities committed by the Communist Regime in Russia and later in Cambodia, Cuba, China, and Viet Nam. These were largely ignored and the left wing intellectuals continued their love affair, providing the Russians with atomic secrets among other traitorous acts. Even today the Goldberg’s are viewed as martyrs by the Left and the posthumous proof that Robert Oppenheimer was in fact providing secrets to the Communists was simply ignored by the media. But now we have the papers of Senator McCarthy describing his attacks on Hollywood and the State Department, those “bastions of “right thinking” and the media are once again in a fighting frenzy. Senator McCarthy was certainly a flawed man and there is little doubt that he grossly overplayed his hand, but the fact is Hollywood was and still is filled with actors, producers, and directors who are filled with animosity toward America and American ideals and freedoms, in the words of Jeanne Kirkpatrick the “blame America first crowd.” Today “McCarthyism” is an epithet to be hurled at anyone who dares to challenge the Leftist intellectuals and their anti-American and pro-communist stance. The fact is that Senator McCarty was not totally wrong. . If you doubt this watch any Oliver Stone movie. He is an historical revisionist determined to show the world how history should have been.

But, what about Red China – how did it become not Red? How did Cuba cease being Communist Cuba and become “Castro’s Cuba”? Are these countries no longer “Communist”? Have I missed some dramatic change of heart? Are these countries now allowing free speech, freedom of the press, private ownership? Not that I know of, instead they continue to be oppressive states that imprison people for simply disagreeing with them. No dissent is allowed. The liberal press (a redundancy) paints a rosy picture of China today – it is a worker’s paradise. They are actually allowing elections at the village level. Of course, the old USSR held elections as well and you could vote for any Communist Party Candidate of your choice. The same is true in China today. It is just as Red and just as oppressive as it always was. It is interesting to me that the liberals today see China on the way to reform much like Taiwan and Korea. Apparently I missed something here because Taiwan was a leftover from the old Chiang Kai Shek regime and has been a democratically elected republic for a very long time. It evolved from a dictatorship but that was a very short period. As far as I know Korea is divided into two parts, the South which is a democratic government and the North which is a brutally repressive communist regime. So the “reforms” that the Chinese Government are implementing seem to me to be commercial more that political. Apparently this is just “realpolitik” because China wants to sell to the US and the US wants to buy. Red China is dead – Long Live China – the worker’s paradise.
[1] The Worldly Philosophers, Robert Heilbroner, Simon & Schuster, 1953,
[2] Useful Idiots, Mona Charen –Regenery, 2003

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Marcus Tullius Cicero

I just completed the biography of Marcus Tullius Cicero by Jonathon Everett. History, especially of Western Civilization is a threatened species today, since to actually admit that it is Western Civilization that has brought us the Renaissance, Shakespeare, Science, Art, Music, and what we generally know as civilization today, is politically incorrect. Yes, it is well known that it was the Muslims who protected the knowledge of Western Civilization during the Dark Ages, but then the Muslims never progressed beyond that role and actively repudiate all modernity today. Yes, it is also well known that the Chinese invented virtually everything but it is less well known that they were an insular society with no drive to move outside of their own society leaving the foundation they laid to be exploited by the West. So, due to multi-culturalism and the general antagonistic attitude toward Western Civilization it is unlikely that this book or any detailed knowledge of Cicero would be taught today. But Cicero was not just a fascinating man, he gives us a very clear view of his society and he was a towering figure in his day. He was a childhood friend of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Cassius, and Brutus. More importantly he unknowingly played a pivotal role in the foundation of the Roman Empire and helped sow the seeds of its ultimate destruction.

Cicero was a brilliant orator, a Senator, a Roman Consul and above all a politician. He also was an idealist, a constitutionalist, and a person not unlike many of our contemporary politicians, long on words but short on decisions, actions, and courage. He dominated Roman politics for 40 years solely on the basis of his character. People respected and admired him because he was (rightfully) viewed as incorruptible. He was a world famous lawyer, brilliant speaker, prominent politician and a statesman, but even though he dutifully performed his military obligation, he was really not a soldier nor a man of great physical courage but he was a man of great moral courage with a firm determination to follow the laws. Unfortunately, the Roman Republic was tottering due to corruption as well as some inherent instability. What Rome needed was a man of action, a pragmatist, not an idealist and they found that man in Caius Julius Caesar, a brilliant soldier with a keen mind and high ambition – not just for himself but for Rome. He recognized that something needed to be done and felt he was just the man to do it. To some extent Cicero agreed with this assessment but he simply couldn’t bring himself to break the law or change the constitution to allow for a more centralized government.

The amazing thing about this book is that Caesar comes across looking more like a failed George Washington than a MacBeth. Caesar alone recognized that the Republic was failing through its inherent structural weakness and systemic corruption, a realization that he used very effectively in gaining power. Even without Caesar the Republic would have failed and had Cicero joined the first Triumvirate as he was asked to do, years of civil war could have been avoided, and the Roman Empire might have never undergone the instability that characterized it throughout its existence. The First Triumvirate was merely an expedient stopgap for Caesar in his drive to create a central government with himself as the head. Because of the opposition of the “Constitutionalists” like Cicero Caesar’s drive for power was thwarted and no one was ever able to establish any alternative process to the Consuls as the legal head of state. Consequently, Rome was always a pseudo-monarchy headed by the strongest or most devious person. The government always had pretensions of being a Republic and the Roman Senate existed until the end, but the reality was that after Caesar, it was never a Republic but a pseudo-monarchy without any real right of succession, which made the government inherently very unstable.

Instead of supporting Caesar whom he knew to be right, Cicero chose to oppose the pragmatic Caesar and to support the inherently weak Senate and Constitution. This was the legal and moral thing to do since Caesar wished to abandon the current government and replace it with something more efficient, something with him as the head of state. The Romans had replaced the original monarchy with the Republic so they were viscerally opposed to monarchy; Caesar knew this as did Cicero. Caesar was maneuvering to remake the government and become the head of state, which was interpreted as an attempt to become King. However, because of the fundamental aversion of Romans to monarchy, Cicero foresaw that Caesar’s reforms would have been the equivalent of the Russian Revolution of 1917 with the same purges and violence as Caesar consolidated his position and eliminated any potential opposition. Consequently Cicero opted to “reform” the government through legal means, but he was never able to specify precisely what process he advocated as a means for reform because he could never muster enough support from the corrupted Senate to make any change. This was a situation that Caesar foresaw and attempted in vain to get Cicero to realize this.

At the time Caesar was a successful and well known General but not overly popular within the upper class. He was very politically astute and he could see the Republic was tottering. He fully intended to seize power (ala Napoleon in 1794) and he needed allies to do this. He needed Cicero’s prestige and begged him to join him as he formed what became known as the first Triumvirate. These discussions dragged on and on as Cicero vacillated between what he knew needed to be done and his love of the law and the Republic. Eventually his idealism won out, he refused Caesar and became one of Caesar’s principal opponents. His lack of support energized Caesar’s opponents and opposition which culminated in Caesar’s assassination. But it cost the Empire and history very dearly since it plunged Rome into a series of Civil Wars and left it to the mercy of corrupt politicians and a systemically weak government.

It becomes obvious in this book that the Constitutional government established by Rome worked OK (never great) for a city state but was unworkable for an empire. The head of state was a duality -- the Consuls -- who only had terms of one year and could not be re-elected. This made for quick decisions with little foresight and much internal bickering. The Consuls were rarely in office long enough to see or feel the long term effects of their decisions. They made laws and the Senate ratified them but the Tribunes could (and did) veto them for any reason, with no appeal. Worse even laws that were passed could be revoked by the incoming Consuls with senate approval, which could be bought. The result was an elected government but a highly unstable one. Overall the government was failing and Caesar saw it as did Cicero. Caesar wanted to destroy the existing Republic and remake it while Cicero wanted to fix it. Both were men of honor acting in what they felt was the best interest of the state. Admittedly, Caesar went outside of the law while Cicero attempted to work within the law when even he knew the law was unworkable and for sale.

A truly fascinating book and I highly recommend it.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Notes on The Passing Parade


Rather than write my usual long discussion of various topics, I thought some shorter comments on a variety of subjects might be in order today. For example it seems the Log Cabin Republicans – which is an organization for Gay Republicans as opposed I guess to gay republicans – is petitioning the Pentagon to rescind the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy implemented by the Clinton Administration. In its place they want the Pentagon to allow homosexuals into the military as long as they don’t divulge their sexuality or participate in homosexual acts. Well excuuuse me!! But this is the just the way it was before the Clinton administration changed things by pandering to a small group of activists, proving once again that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

The paper also brings us to the dire warnings and concerns of the US Geological Survey regarding the 13 volcanoes up and down the Pacific Coast. There is a real possibility that Mount Hood or Mount Rainer might erupt. The problem is the millions of people who have elected to live near a volcano. It seems if Rainer were to erupt it would create massive flows that would sweep everything before it right into Puget Sound. Unfortunately that seems to include a large part of Seattle. If Mount Hood erupts it would probably destroy the water supply for the city of Portland. So there it is. We have people who move to Florida and build flimsy houses on the beach ignoring the fact that there is a HURRICANE SEASON. Wake up folks – this happens every year so why should the government pick up the pieces every year? The same is true for those people who decide to live ‘near the water” meaning next to a lake or river prone to flooding. Now we have volcanoes to worry about. Hey folks – if you decide to live near a known natural danger then you ought to get insurance because I can’t see why the government should be responsible for your bad judgement.

I recently received an article written by Lt, Col David Hackworth. He is a retired soldier who has turned political activist. Of course he uses his military record as a basis to carp and criticize SecDef Rumsfeld over the War in Iraq. but nothing that I see qualifies him as a military strategist, any more than John Kerry's military experience qualifies him to be President. Lt. Col Hackworth falls into the same category of most of the pundits (on both sides) who are quick to offer their opinions without any real knowledge of facts and certainly without offering any solutions of their own. He states that the Military needs to be remade into a lighter fighting force. He also states that the "mighty sword" that Rumsfeld inherited is now "dull and chipped". Well -- I would like to point out that the "mighty sword" he describes was built by Shinseki, Powell, et.al along classical military lines. Trained and prepared to fight a classical war -- i.e. a war between nation states. The Gulf War was probably the last war of this type that will be fought. Instead wars will be more like the current war on terror where there are no boundaries and no frontlines. Even though the Viet Nam War is seen as a “guerilla” war it still was between Nations. Recognizing that the classical approach won’t work Rumsfeld has completely revamped the military and reshaped it in to a force trained and equipped to fight an invisible enemy. The critics like Hackworth state that Shinseki was fired because he disagreed with Rumsfeld. Perhaps Shinseki didn’t understand that new tactics were required and he insisted in fighting the old way. But Hackworth doesn’t see it that way because he is like most critics -- quick to point out problems but not so quick to offer specific solutions -- just like John Kerry. He sees Shinseki as being a victim of a headstrong SecDef rather than considering the possibility that he was reactionary and unable to see the need for new thinking.

Relative to the sword being chipped and dulled well any soldier knows that once the enemy is engaged equipment fails, is used up, proves useless, or is insufficient for the purpose. Soldiers get tired and exhausted -- that is true of any Army at any time so for Hackworth to use this as a criticism simply demonstrates his partisanship and has nothing whatsoever to do with any failure by Rumsfeld or Myers. In fact a careful reading of Hackworth's article shows that he is a political activist not a military strategist. He points out that Shinseki stated that 200,000 soldiers were needed in Iraq. It seems to me that Iraq fell to a lot fewer than that. Of course the current criticism is what was meant was that it was the aftermath where the troops were needed. A convenient correction which is now appended to there was no "plan for the peace". How does he know that? How does anyone know that there was no plan? Furthermore, any officer knows that once the enemy is engaged the plan, no matter how good it was, goes right out the window. This criticism rather than showing an incisive military mind vividly demonstrates a lack of understanding or a simple attempt to attack the administration. LTC Hackworth is a political activist not a military strategist. If Franks needed more troops he would have asked for them. Hackworth and Shinseki are not credible sources nor is that Pentagon General Wesley Clark.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Notes on Anti-Americanism

So the world is anti-America(n) and has been that way since the beginning of what? The War in Iraq? WWII ? WWI? Korea? Try forever!. Presumably this is some sort of a newsflash to our friends in the left wing media or perhaps it is just stating the obvious with a sense of discovery, but think about it. The people who came to America couldn't stand the oppression, classism, and intrusive governments of Europe initially and now these governments are everywhere. The people who remained were either afraid to leave or liked the status quo. Those that left were doomed to failure because they gave up security, relatives, and civilization, but damn their eyes they succeeded. Worse, they became rich in the process, established a meritocracy, and looked to the future with the expectation that everything would get better and better. A foolish expectation from a bunch of unrefined, uncultured, yahoo's, but once again they confounded their European cousins.

The Europeans then as now, look backward and dwell on their past rather than looking forward to the future. They regard themselves as cultured and refined and view every broken down building and infernal cobblestone as having historical significance. They view their government as responsible for their well being. Contrast that to America where everyone is entitled to "the pursuit of happiness". The distinction is sharp-- here each person is personally responsible for their happiness and well being while Europeans depend on their governments. Americans work while Europeans relax as they sink into oblivion and sap their governments revenues in welfare programs, while Americans spend money like there is no tomorrow. The relationship between work and wealth is largely lost on our detractors who take a very narrow view of the world. We send money in great gobs to other countries while the Europeans send as little as possible. We are actually more internationalist than they are but they prate and prance and wave their multi-lingual abilities about as an example of their "internationalism" while accusing Americans as being ignorant mono-lingual isolationist, arrogant boors. Our mono-lingual status being cited as an example of our arrogance. What is missed is that they are multi-lingual because each little country has their own language and they communicate in American English because they are too arrogant to communicate in other languages if they can avoid it. Try getting a Frenchman to speak German or English. So their view of "internationalism" is really very narrow and they devote little time or attention to the plagues and problems of the world other than to talk about it. So there is widespread anti-American attitudes and the question is why? It seems obvious to me, we are rich, powerful, and successful. We dominate the worlds of sports, business, technology, economics, science and politics. We practically own the Nobel Academy. Everyone wants us to fail just because we are so successful. It is a classic case of tearing someone down in order to raise yourself up. The very measure of our success is in the universality of English as a language. This in particular drives the French nuts because the Lingua franca of the world has ceased to be French and has become English, worse English words are creeping into the French Language so they have established a "language police", without recognizing the hilarity and futility of it. Europeans are pure blood while Americans are mongrels and our language isn't pure but a polyglot of words that we fold into our everyday use with gay abandon, words like Sushi, `elan, patio, burrito, Tsunami, Karma, etc. Americans cannot be distinguished by appearance because we come in all sizes, flavors, and colors. We speak all languages, including English. We accept everyone and expect everyone to carry their own weight and the vast majority do, this is what makes us strong and successful to the chagrin of our European cousins, who accept no one. You could live in France for 30 years, change citizenship, and still not be "French" -- only in America is it possible to become a real "American" Only the Brits accept us -- admittedly with a little jealousy -- but they are staunch allies. But what of the rest of world?America bestrides the world like a colossus and we are viewed as neo-colonists, arrogant, and evil but the average American doesn't know why. We like everyone else want to be liked but we really miss the point. We are conquering the world without intending to because we bring the idea of self-determination, freedom, and our open culture, which the Europeans view as "non-culture". We are capitalists in a world of socialists, but our real crime is the crime of self-determination. Americans are free to be Muslim but they are also free to be Christian. The Muslims are not attacking India and Hindu's because the Hindu's are not everywhere on the planet via satellite. Also the Hindu's aren't any better off than the Muslims, but Americans are rich -- very rich and Christian. Worse, we are also free and it is this freedom that is a threat. Islam makes no distinction between God and State. Islam is where Christianity was in 1500, they are 500 years behind the times. We are in a life and death struggle with Islam and getting very little help from Europe. The Europeans are jealous of our success and feel we need a comeuppance, the Muslims simply want to destroy us for our evil ways and the Europeans fully intend to standby while that happens. What they don’t realize is that the only thing that stands between them and a second dark age is the United States.

What's the solution? Keep working, keep being successful, and keep our Army strong because that is all that stands between us and barbarism. The Europeans don’t see this because they still believe that if they don’t fight they will be safe. They have fallen into the fallacious thinking that peace is the absence of war. This mistake is something that every power hungry barbarian has relied on since the beginning of time. What the Europeans fail to realize is that none of them have ever successfully waged a war or a peace. Since the Roman Empire, only America has been able to achieve victory on the battlefield and whether we will be able to maintain it is very problematic.


Monday, October 11, 2004

The Muslim Brotherhood

THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
Recently I was asked about the veracity of an article that cited connections between Nazi Germany, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda. The contents of this article seemed so outrageous that it couldn’t be true – or so I thought. I was particularly struck by the allegation that Adolf Hitler had formed a Waffen SS Division composed exclusively of Muslims. Surprisingly this turned out to be true and in reality there were two divisions who fought Tito in Yugoslavia. As an interesting sidelight Bernard Lewis in his book “The Middle East” covers the rather cozy relationship the Arabs had with Nazi Germany without once mentioning the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a highly secret society whose actual membership is closely guarded.

Background
The "Al-Ikhwan Al-Moslemoon" (Muslim Brotherhood) was founded in 1928 as a movement in Egypt. But soon after it began to have several branches outside Egypt and began spreading the principal Islamic idea that Islam is "Creed and state, book and sword, and a way of life" These principles were not common among many Muslim "scholars" who believed that Islam is restricted within the walls of the mosque. Members of the Brotherhood were banned and tortured in most of the Muslim countries but the movement continued to grow under the leadership of Hassan Al-Banna. The Brotherhood now has branches in over 70 countries all over the world – including the United States. The movement is organizationally flexible meaning that the Brotherhood works under multiple names – including Hamas, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Islamic Jihad, and virtually every known terrorist organization. However, all of the Brotherhood groups, in all countries are characterized by a common set of principles, which seem innocuous enough but buried within these principles and guidelines we find:

Political Activism: By putting political programs for "Islamising" government in different countries (after realistic studies), and establishing these programs thru the convenient ways which do not conflict with Islam

Building the Muslim state.
Building the Khilafa (basically a shape of unity between the Islamic states).
Mastering the world with Islam

I think these items really announce the true intentions of the Brotherhood more than the high flown phrases that surround them but if you still have any doubts this is the announced theme for the Brotherhood
· Allah is our objective.
· The messenger is our leader.
· Quran is our law.
· Jihad is our way.
· Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

It is virtually impossible for anyone raised in the Judeo-Christian ethos to comprehend these principles. The problem is that many Westerners will see these and not see any difference between them and a Christian or Jew trying to live by their religious principles. Unfortunately these are not parallel philosophies because under the “law” and the “Qur’an” killing infidels – meaning non-Muslims is expected.

The Muslim Brotherhood believes (http://www.ummah.org.uk/ikhwan/) that they must prepare a country or society for accepting Islamic Law prior to taking over the government because taking over a “corrupt” (meaning non-Muslim) government poses a great risk to the Brotherhood. They believe that Muslims should be trained to administer all aspects of a government and society but they should rule “Islamically”. I think we witnessed what this means when we saw the Brotherhood in action as the Taliban. It is worth noting that the Brotherhood professes to not want power themselves but they support any leader who wants to establish a TRUE Islamic government (Think Mullah Omar).

Achievements
During WW II everyone was amazed at how Heinrich Himmler was able to get so many people to accept his propaganda as true. He stated quite openly that if the lie was big enough and told often enough many people would believe it. We see this in the various conspiracy theories that abound but for the most part these are harmless but when you look at the Muslim community you see the concept of the “Big Lie” in its highly developed state. For example this quote;

Throughout their history, the ikhwan (aka Brotherhood) have had many accomplishments. However, their philosophy is that they prefer action and work over words and propaganda. The ikhwan have played and continue to play a major role in the struggle to liberate Muslims lands. The ikhwan's bravery in the 1948 Palestine war has been recorded by all sides. The total number of volunteers from the ikhwan in 1948 numbered 10,000 from Egypt, Syria and other countries. In addition to participating in the battle to liberate Palestine, they served to raise the consciousness of Muslims all over the Islamic World and restore to them the spirit of struggle and dignity. The ikhwan have played a role in liberating Muslim lands from colonialist powers in almost every Muslim country. The ikhwan were active amongst Muslims in Central Asian Muslim republics since the '70s, and their involvement can be seen recently in such republics as Tajikistan. More recently they had a major role in the struggle for Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Notice that nothing is said about the failures of Arab attacks on Israel in every single instance or how the Israeli’s crushed the combined Muslim Armies and would have occupied all of Egypt had it not been for the Americans. This is very typical of how the Brotherhood operates. It convinces the ignorant tribesmen that constitute most of the Muslim countries that they are winning, thus these crushing defeats are shown here as triumphs. It would seem that any thinking person would see through these blatant lies but the Brotherhood is more subtle than that. They are using our very laws and freedoms against us. Anytime the US Government attempts to stymie the Brotherhood there is an immediate outcry about racism and racial profiling. These attacks on our government are aided and abetted by the ACLU and the Press who are so blinded by political correctness that they fail to see the dangers. But while the danger is very real in the United States, Canada is not only under attack but are losing. If fact Canada may be so far gone that it may be impossible to reverse their slide into an Islamic state.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Canada
The Muslim Brotherhood in Canada is right on schedule in their drive to control the government and convert Canada into an Islamic State. Overblown rhetoric you think – think again and consider these events in terms of a global strategy. (http://www.shariahprogram.ca/)

Muslims are currently demanding uncensored Al Jazeera on Canadian Dish Services
Muslims are demanding shariah law for Muslims
The Canadian Government is considering the implementation of a separate Islamic Court
The Saudi Government is funding the web site http:www.shariahprogram.ca, which is spreading Wahabbism throughout Canada
CAIR states that Canada needs Quranic Law to be humane and just.
CAIR now endorses the Hijab since the Canadian Civil Liberties Board is now headed by a Muslim
Canadian Universities must have prayer rooms and Muslims must be seen by Muslim Doctors
Schools must have Halal menus
The Muslim Brotherhood now brags that the Muslims now have the largest prison population in Canada (does this sound familiar)

The Al Quaeda and Osama bin Laden have made it clear that the Christian Nation of Canada is guilty for the high standard of living found in the West while Islamic countries suffer. Canada has no military and so is quite vulnerable to a takeover from within. This is especially easy because Canada is very left leaning whose politicians spend most of their time and effort attacking the US and denigrating President Bush.

The Muslim Brotherhood and America
This quasi-secret society is active in America and is largely unknown to many Muslims. Bernard Lewis who is a leading authority on Islam and has written various books on the topic makes no mention of the Muslim Brotherhood. The conclusion must be that either he is a member of the Brotherhood or oblivious to it. This Brotherhood is active in America but not all Muslims support it and it has become a divisive force within the Islamic Community. The basic tenet of the Brotherhood is that “Muslims come first, not humans come first”. Since many Muslims in this country were born here they don’t accept this radical viewpoint but many do. The separation of Church and State is fundamental to American Government the Muslim Brotherhood preaches that religion and politics can’t be separated and that all governments should be Islamic. In order to achieve this they teach martyrdom and jihad. Increasingly the Mosques in America are being infiltrated and taken over by the Brotherhood.

Once you understand the goals and objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood and recognize their fundamental beliefs then it is easy to see how they can see murdering innocent children as well as any infidel or Muslim who gets in their way, can be justified. We are engaged in a global war one that is rooted in religion and one that we are losing. We are losing because we are free and tolerant while our enemy is not. It is time we wake up because we are losing. Spain is already lost, France is on the downward slope as is Canada.


Liberty & Humanism & Politics

LIBERTY & HUMANISM & POLITICS

There has been a great deal of rhetoric recently regarding the War on Terror, Iraq, President Bush, Islam, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of the Press. Of course all of these are tied together into one common thread, which remains unspoken but is in fact the foundation of these topics and that is President Bush is an idiot who stole the election –a man of no vision, an ignorant bumpkin, and a person unworthy of his office. Therefore, let’s address the foundation before we address this house of emotional cards.

First, it was widely known at the time that Jack Kennedy won the Electoral College through stuffed ballot boxes in Chicago (compliments of Mayor Daley) and that Richard Nixon actually won more votes than Kennedy. At the time the Republicans were viewed as just having “sour grapes” and now that the shoe is on the other foot, the Democrats are having a conniption fit and refuse to accept the fact that they lost the electoral college. But that is really only the tip of the iceberg, isn’t it? The real hard spot with the Democrats is the idea that President Bush is a stupid bumpkin and unworthy of his office. The only basis for this assertion seems to be his relative inarticulateness coupled with his down home pronunciations and malapropisms. The focus seems to be on his delivery and not on his message and when his message is understood, it seems to send the intelligentsia into paroxysms of anger due to its directness and lack of subtlety. Once again though the message is lost in the focus on delivery and few seem willing to attack the message or even demonstrate that it is incorrect, so let me briefly summarize the message:

God exists and must be acknowledged (an arch crime in liberal circles)
Evil exists and must be resisted, with force if necessary (liberals don’t acknowledge evil exists because that is too judgmental)
Terrorists are murderers and not freedom fighters
Once you undertake a task see it through (liberals believe that anything that doesn’t provide personal pleasure isn’t worth doing)
The UN is a failure and cannot be relied on (liberals think that the US should always bow to the international community even if it isn’t in our best interest)
It is the duty of the President to act in the best interest of the United States regardless of international opinions
That key leadership positions should be filled by the best people available and listened to but the decision remains with the President not political hacks and the media.
That the people who earn the money deserve to keep their money
Capitalism is good and it drives prosperity while socialism is bad and drags the economy down
The unvarnished truth may be bitter but is necessary and less painful in the long term.

Of course it is the last point that drives the liberal media into a frenzy because the President calls Yasser Arafat what he is – a liar, a cheat, a murderer, and a terrorist. He calls brutal dictators “EVIL” and the nations they lead – EVIL. The fact that these are true statements is lost in the hullabaloo over the sheer nerve of the man to tell the truth without any tactful euphemisms. No one seems to feel these statements aren’t true – it just that they aren’t tactful and they make people mad at us as if being liked by Satan was something to be desired, but let’s mush on to the house of cards.

First let’s discuss the recent hue and cry over how Freedom of the Press is being attacked and suppressed by the current administration. Precisely how this is being accomplished is hard to understand since the press continues to print scurrilous lies, doctored photos, and half truths about the very administration that they claim is suppressing them. I suspect that the root of this accusation lies in two places. First, increasingly the press is being called to task, (and court) over their lies and half truths and are suffering the consequences. The free ride they have had for years is being undermined by the Internet and they are struggling against their loss of control. The fact that they are out of touch with the majority of Americans is lost on them since they never leave their cozy little world on the Coasts. Secondly, their circulation is declining as people walk away from them because they no longer trust what they print. The shriller they get the more they lose and they simply don't grasp that they have lost all credibility. This is viewed as a right wing conspiracy to control the news as if the left wing weren't already controlling the news through omission and spinning facts. Of course this is exacerbated by the administration simply ignoring them and taking their message directly to the people.

Freedom of Speech is certainly an issue and it seems ironic that the very people who are now crying the loudest are the very ones who have created the situation. It was the elite media and the liberal left who broadened the concept of freedom of speech to include every offensive and degrading thing society has to offer. I am bombarded every day with foul language coming into my home via TV. Pornography is rampant and every movie seems to have an obligatory nude and graphic sex scene with these scenes becoming more graphic each day. All of this was brought about by “freedom of speech” suits via the ACLU. However, the boomerang seems to have come home because this has now been broadened into “the right not to be offended” and a level of political correctness that is astounding. While I might call you a C**KS**Ker and not be charged even with rudeness because I am just exercising my right of free speech but if I were to call you a C**KS**King Nigger I could go to jail for racial threats and intimidation. Of course this is an extreme example but the reality is worse. The Confederate Flag is now offensive and no longer protected as free speech or free expression. The Ten Commandments are offensive and no longer protected. I can no longer use the term Fireman, Mailman, Councilman, or Congressman for fear of offending someone and someone is always offended. So the very group who has created this situation is now yelling foul. Well I for one am sick and tired of political correctness and tired of having my rights trampled so a group of uncivil barbarians can assail me with rude speech, foul language, and coarse behavior. So any attempt to restore some semblance of balance and civility is viewed as a suppression of free speech. Well some of that speech needs to be suppressed. But let’s move on to the next point.

To the average American we are engaged in a political conflict of the United States versus Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, and virtually the rest of world. However, the Muslim community sees the United States as the Great Satan and the conflict as a Crusade of Judeo-Christians against Islam and this as a religious life and death struggle and not a political one. If the Palestinians were to become a nation today, nothing would change. If the old Ottoman Empire were to be reconstituted and Israel dissolved, nothing would change because the problem isn’t political but RELIGIOUS. Western technology is introducing concepts unacceptable to Islam but desired by the people – or at least some of them. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, equal rights for women, open sexuality (not necessarily a good thing), capitalism, and an openness not available in Islamic countries, are all things introduced by the US. Satan is the tempter and that is why the US is called the Great Satan – we tempt the people to do things not acceptable to Islamic law. It is our liberty to do as we please, to say what we choose, and to treat everyone equally that brings us into conflict with Islam. They see that they are in a life and death struggle and we don’t really even understand what the fight is all about other than they hate us and are attacking us but most Americans don’t have a clue as to why.

And this brings us to the “Humanists”, whom I think start from an admirable position but go woefully astray. If I understand what Humanists are all about, I think they essentially love mankind and view every human life as sacred. This translates to feed the poor, protect the innocent, clothe the naked, and essentially do God’s work. I cannot argue this position because I think any good person (Christian, Jew, or whatever) would agree with it. Unfortunately too many of the self-described Humanists lack discrimination or an understanding of Evil and what is meant by protecting the innocent. To digress for a moment I think that the significance of the Military Chorus singing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” after 9-11 was totally lost on the rest of the world and certainly the terrorists. The fact is this hymn was tantamount to a declaration of War and a statement of resolve that we as a nation were aroused and nothing would deter us from revenge and victory, but back to my point.

Too many Humanists seem to feel the taking of any life is evil even if it is in retaliation to a heinous crime. Hence we have those who argue against the death penalty and any military action for any reason. God turned Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for violating His law and marked Cain for the same reason. God has punished people and nations ever since then. For good to flourish evil must be resisted and sometimes at great cost and the current situation in Iraq is no exception.

The argument could be made that the US (and certainly the UN) can be faulted for not acting sooner. Saddam Hussein was evil incarnate and should have been destroyed long before. Certainly war is a terrible thing and the ongoing assassinations of our soldiers, is terrible but it is not a reason for not toppling Hussein or for leaving the job half done. After all Iraq is roughly the size of California and the number of murders and crimes committed in California in a day would exceed the casualties in Iraq and no one is calling for a mass exodus from California so the criminals can run the state. So the Humanists have a point and certainly have their heart in the right place but they need to accept that sometimes good people must give their lives so that others may live in peace.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bush Bashing

The Bush Bashing continues and there is this continuing misconception that he is dumb as a rock, but I disagree. True he is a poor speaker but not being articulate is not the same as being stupid. He is actually a very intelligent man and an excellent executive. Having spent a great deal of time in senior level positions (near CEO's of Fortune 500 companies) plus having been trained as a leader and having a Master's degree in Management, I feel I know an executive when I see one. Bush has surrounded himself with some very intelligent and highly experienced people. He solicits their opinion and seeks opinions differing from his own. He makes the decisions and takes the heat accordingly. The irony is that when he has listened to Powell, whom the internationalists love, it has always backfired because the international community has no desire to solve problems they see as America's. Instead they are attempting to hide their involvement in most of these problems and are doing as much as they can to embarrass Bush and "teach America a lesson". However, the President's conduct in the face of these attacks has demonstrated (to me at least) that he is an excellent leader and manager. He also has a firm grasp on the International situation and what it takes to make diplomacy work. What few people seem to realize is that we are involved in a sea change relative to power centers. While this hasn't become totally visible it is underway and will become more evident with time. Bush/Powell/Rumsfeld apparently recognize this and are acting accordingly.

Since the fall of the Roman Empire, European politics has been dominated by France, England, Spain, and to a lesser extent Italy. By the 19th Century the power centers were Germany, France, and England and everyone else was an also ran. These countries and Western Europe in general have been dominated by socialism and socialist policies. They tout their democratic principles but in fact they pander to the masses and their economies are slowly sinking into non-competitiveness. The EU is their attempt to staunch the decline but ironically that is what is contributing to the sea change because the power is shifting to Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, and the Balkans. These are the people who have shed communism and are not likely to embrace socialism, which increases their competitiveness. As their economic strength increases so does their power and influence. France in particular is attempting to bully them into line but that isn't likely to work in the long run. The problem is so many people don't look into the future but look into the past and then back into the future expecting everything to remain the same. It won't and it isn't. France and Germany are locked into some social policies they can't change and the Bush policies are putting huge pressure on them. The internationalists think Bush is wrong because the French and Germans hate us -- that is old thinking because they are becoming increasingly irrelevant on the world stage. The reality is they no longer have financial wherewithal to maintain their socialist policies and field any significant fighting force. The truth of the matter is both of these countries have allowed their military to decline and are approaching obsolescence. The President and his advisors clearly see this so Bush doesn't care very much about these declining states and is focusing on the future power centers, which will have greater importance to the US in this century than France or Germany. Now everyone says Bush is wrong because he is stupid. First, I don't think he is wrong and secondly, the policy shift is probably coming from Rice, supported by Powell and Rumsfeld. Bush is simply executing on their recommendations, to call him stupid is to misinterpret what is going on. His strength is to listen to his advisors and act -- not to invent policy and pass it on to them.

Kerry continues to rant and rave and attempts to justify his lack of commitment on misinterpretations and distoritions. He is a hollow man -- devoid of any sincere belief in anything but himself. He is Clinton lite -- He will say and do whatever is necessary to gain and keep power. He has no strong belief in anything other than himself. His track record is horrible and amply demonstrates my assertions. He votes for the war and then votes against the funding. He justifies this on some sort of pseudo-moral ground but it looks to me like an effort to cause Bush to fail or at least to embarrass him. He had no compunction about jumping onboard with Jane Fonda and the VVAW. He betrayed his fellow soldiers for his personal power seeking not for any moral belief. He is a hollow man. The democrats do have some honorable men but unfortunately Kerry isn't one of them and Edwards brings new dimension to the term light weight. He has no government experience, no military experience, and no business experience -- what could possibly qualify him to be a Senator much less run the country?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Jihad and Strategic Asymetry

Actually I have been browsing through some of my essays on various subjects and came across this one that I wrote several months ago. It seems to be even more relevant now in light of some of Senator Kerry's remarks regarding terrorism and Iraq. It is increasingly apparent that we are in a war with few allies because so many of our "allies" are of the Neville Chamberlin variety in that they feel if they just let the jihadists beat on the US they will be safe. They seem to be oblivious to their own peril. Spain is gone -- done for -- they are in thrall to the Muslims and France isn't far behind. Certainly France will be dominated and in control of the Muslims within 5 years and possibly sooner. Germany isn't quite as threatened yet but their socialistic society is gradually emasculating them. In fact that is one of the errors in this essay because I credit both the Germans and the French of having armies capable of deployment. That is really not the situation because both countries have small armies armed with increasingly obsolete weapons. This in itself isn't an overly serious problem because the Muslims are using primitive weapons. The problem is the size of these armies and the fact they are trained to fight on a battlefield. If SecDef Rumsfeld has done else he has transformed our army into a fighting force capable of fighting an unconventional war using unconventional tactics, which I think falls into the category of Asymetric Strategy.


Strategic Asymetry


Rome was a mighty power, unrivaled at the time, and capable of crushing any and all opposition. They had over a million man Army that was highly trained and virtually invincible. They had a government run by a bureaucratic civil service, philosophers, artists, and a highly educated and civilized society. However, this Empire that stretched from Persia to Scotland was besieged from without by Barbarians hungry for the riches of Rome and within by greedy aristocrats willing to sell their votes, judges willing to sell their judgements, and bureaucrats expecting kickbacks or “tips” for doing the jobs for which they were paid. All of these things contributed in their way to the ultimate destruction of Rome but perhaps the greatest factor in that destruction was the complacency of the people. After all most of Roman society wasn’t really “Roman” at all but was a collection of merchants, artisans, and farmers spread across the Empire and all to a greater or lesser extent living what at the time was the “good life”. The problems and issues that ultimately brought down the Empire were viewed as being the responsibility of the government. The average Roman citizen was largely unaware of the dangers lurking on their borders that threatened their civilization or they were aware but too busy with their own lives to become involved, a situation not unlike what we are facing today.

Just as Rome was threatened by Barbarians, America and indeed all of Western Civilization is being besieged by Neo-Barbarians. There are some very serious issues and questions facing Western Civilization today and much like our Roman counterparts these are largely being ignored, either through ignorance, denial, or complacency. Of course while ancient Rome provides a historical parallel, the situation is not totally the same. The problems and issues threatening Western Civilization today are not rooted in a desire by the Neo-Barbarians to join Western Civilization but rather by a desire to destroy it. More importantly, many of the problems facing Western Civilization are internal and are rooted in conservative thinking masquerading as “liberal” or “progressive” thinking. An example is “Globalization” which is viewed negatively by the left because it is seen on the one hand as moving jobs overseas and on the other as exploiting poor nations.

At the strategic level Globalization represents what many liberal politicians have been striving for since the French Revolution and that is redistribution of wealth, but rather than redistributing the wealth of the rich, it actually is moving work across national borders and thus raising the average incomes of poorer nations. For some this movement of work to low labor nations is “exploitive” but this fails to recognize that if the same wages were paid to these workers that is paid to the high cost workers then the incentive to send the work to them would be lost and the result would be they would be even poorer, while the demand for labor would exceed the supply. This would drive up the costs and place the entire First World into a destructive inflationary spiral. Therefore, the critics of Globalization must understand that labor is simply a commodity and the purchaser will opt for the best price and the price is set by competition. However, as Globalization increases and nations become ever more interdependent, the result is a blurring of the Nation State and a homogenization of culture and this brings us to the Neo-Barbarians and the threat they represent to Western Civilization.

It is the very ubiquity of American Culture that is a major underlying factor in the greatest issue facing America today and that is “Global Terrorism”. This is widely viewed as an “American” problem by Europe and the United Nations but it is in fact a threat to Western Civilization. The United Nations has always been anti-American and largely impotent in any real crisis. Since the UN is largely made up of non-democratic countries run by dictators, many of whom are virulently anti-American and sympathetic to the terrorists they do not see the terrorists as any threat, other than to America. Therefore, there is no sense of urgency to confront what to them is an American problem. In fact many of them think it is about time that America got its “comeuppance.” What they don’t see is what would happen to them if America were to fall?

The Europeans are little better. Europe has always been focused on its past rather than focusing on its future, so they see terrorism as more of an annoyance than any real threat, because they continue to think in terms of Nation States rather than the individual or socio-political interests represented by the terrorists. The Europeans, particularly the French and Germans, think only in terms of their national interests rather than thinking globally. After all, they are wealthy have their own armies and are quite capable of meeting any aggression on the battlefield. What they fail to see or accept is that there is not going to be any battlefield – ever. The threat is within and aimed at destroying their economic power and will to resist with the objective of installing an Islamic society. What the UN and the Europeans either don’t understand or don’t accept is that the terrorists represent a new kind of threat that is rooted in ideology not in nation state politics. Besides what the Europeans seem to think is that the terrorists are really threatening America and therefore, it is essentially an American problem. What the Europeans fail to grasp is what would happen to them if America were to fall?

But this obsolete thinking is also quite prevalent in America as well, where our political representatives are reluctant to declare war on terrorists and terrorism, even though Thomas Jefferson gave us a historical precedent with his war on the Barbary Pirates. Instead we have a drive by our politicians to fight terrorists and to enlist the support and aid of the United Nations and Europe in a cause in which they really don’t believe involves them and may have been brought on by the sheer arrogance of America. The terrorists are viewed as a small group of fanatics bent on murder and destruction that can be contained and defeated through law enforcement.

The reality is we are already engaged in World War III and many, perhaps the majority, of the combatants are not even aware there is a war going on. Furthermore, this ignorance and complacency by so many individuals who see the current situation in terms of social unrest, political partisanship, and cultural conflicts, are virtually assuring this war will drag on for years, perhaps for a century or more and worse, their inability to see the stark reality of the situation is actually placing the outcome in doubt. Had you asked the average Roman Citizen if they thought the Barbarians would bring down mighty Rome, I am confident they would have laughed at the idea, just as so many people today feel no threat from these neo-barbarians called terrorists. Rome had mighty legions of well trained warriors, wealth, and the tactical ability to meet any threat anywhere, yet a raid here, a raid there coupled with high taxation and a reluctance to understand the actual threat and Rome was crippled and then fell.

The parallel is striking for like Rome we are protected by our technology, our laws, our education, our wealth, and most of all by our belief in fair play, multi-culturalism, and equality. When these Neo-Barbarian Terrorists call for the destruction of America it is viewed on the one hand as laughable hyperbolae and on the other as simply a reaction to the arrogance and ubiquity of American culture. Thus these terrorists are seen as misguided but with some legitimate complaints that can be discussed, negotiated, and eventually corrected. Of course this assumes these Neo-Barbarians share the same values and objectives as we do but this is a false assumption because it is not only our technology, our laws, our educational institutions, and our wealth that they wish to destroy, they wish to destroy anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their distorted religious system. This is a religious war of Islam against Christians, it is another Crusade, which they openly state but it is the Christians who refuse to see this for what it is. Furthermore, it is the very roots of our society and Western Civilization that they are using as weapons to destroy us. It is our very freedoms and morality that they are turning against us. Our situation calls for asymmetric thinking but what we are seeing is conventional thinking rooted in the idea of the Nation State and classic conflicts, but there may be another historical parallel that is closer to what is happening today.

Genghis Khan and his successor Tamerlane probably never had more than 250,000 troops at any one time but they conquered and controlled an Empire that was larger and more diverse than the Roman Empire. How did they do it? They did it through sheer terror. The Mongols were nomadic meaning they had no cities to attack, no fields to burn, no infrastructure to destroy and whose actual location could not be predicted with any certainty. To oppose the Mongols meant you either had to win or suffer fearful punishment. At first many opposed the Mongols but the Mongols didn’t fight according to the rules, instead they used unconventional tactics while their opponents were still fighting a largely infantry oriented war that relied on strongholds. Consequently, the battles were always fought on the terms set by the Mongols so the peoples being attacked were always on the defensive and rarely prepared. The various cities and principalities were not closely allied for any number of reasons leaving each one vulnerable. The Mongols used lightly armed cavalry and certainly didn’t fight hand-to-hand or toe-to-toe, their tactics were based on surprise attacks and sheer terror. To oppose the Mongols meant that you had to defend your stronghold while the Mongols waited outside of the walls until you surrendered or starved. When the Mongols finally emerged victorious they totally destroyed their enemies by slaughtering every living thing and leveling the cities they captured, leaving nothing standing. The result of this total devastation was stark terror and capitulation without resistance. After all, the Mongols were after loot and could usually be bought off. However, with the deaths of the two great Khans, the Mongol Empire fragmented and disappeared with only Kublai Khan remaining as the Emperor of China.

Certainly there are some obvious historical parallels here. How many terrorists are there worldwide? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? Perhaps a million? No one really knows because like the Mongols they don’t have a central location, their infrastructure is largely virtual and what is tangible is carefully hidden. They are difficult to locate and cannot be attacked because they exist within the very societies they are trying to destroy. They attack on their terms and under the conditions of their choosing, consequently those being attacked are always on the defensive – after the initial attack. When they do emerge with any recognizable infrastructure they can be attacked and destroyed and Iraq and Afghanistan are examples. But they were not totally destroyed in these locations they simply faded back into the society and continued their hit and run tactics. Pinpricks in the side of the American Colossus but the tactic is to sap the will of the people to resist, to give up and to go away leaving them to continue their strategy, which is the total destruction of Western Civilization.

As much as this terrorist strategy may seen unattainable, even laughable, it is very real and quite possible. First, they can succeed in having the civilized countries ignore them or only give half-hearted resistance, leaving them to grow and expand their hidden infrastructure. Their announced target is to take over a nuclear power like Pakistan or India. Once this is accomplished they are in a position to literally destroy Washington D.C., London, New York, or any and all large cities. This devastation would pale in comparison to the damage done to Western Society as a whole. The economy of the world would be in a shambles and might possibly never recover, especially if all of the major cities were destroyed. Then there is the possibility of bio-terrorism masquerading under the name “Weapons of Mass Destruction” which we know exist but do not know precisely where they are. Consider a massive plague unleashed on the world, much like the Black Plague in the 1600’s, where 25% of the population of Europe died. Consider what this would do to the world economy and Western Civilization in general. This is the absolute objective of the radical Muslims – totally destruction of all Infidels, their society, their technology, and their hated democracies. They offer no compromise and no quarter is asked or given and it is necessary that all countries and societies realize this. What is needed to combat this threat is some asymmetrical thinking with non-traditional approaches and certainly a realization that we are dealing with a serious threat from a non-traditional enemy.

The first step in an asymmetrical strategy is accept the fact that we are not dealing with a nation state and therefore, a direct attack is not possible, although they can attack us at will and at a location of their choosing. Furthermore, they are not bound by any treaty or convention. This brings us to the first hurdle in developing an asymmetrical strategy and that is the Geneva Convention. As a nation we abide by the Geneva Convention but our enemy is not bound by this convention and so are free to murder, torture, kidnap, and generally take any action they choose. By insisting that we abide by the Geneva Convention we are in effect crippling our military. During the Revolutionary War the British had the most powerful army in the world. They marched onto the battlefield in bright red uniforms with perfect discipline. Unfortunately for them the Americans didn’t understand the rules and hid behind trees and bushes. The Americans lost almost every battle but eventually won anyway. This is very analogous to our current situation. We are being forced to fight according to “the rules” while the terrorists simply ignore them. This is not a good strategy. Our overall response has been tepid, but we have held people deemed a threat as enemy combatants, denied them constitutional protections, subjected them to psychological pressure, and mild physical discomfort. This rather mild response to these terrorists and murderers has been heavily criticized by many in the left wing, who view these actions as criminal and insist that we “act in a civilized manner and according to the rule of law”. Of course these same people criticize the terrorists as well but offer no solution regarding how to stop them, instead they focus on the Geneva Convention and the “rules”.

Then there is the money. Even terrorists need money for explosives, arms, travel, food, bribes, and the usual operating expenses. Certainly, there has been an effort to cut off the money supply but much of this is hidden as charities, educational foundations, or similar innocuous sounding groups. These should be closed down entirely or denied the ability to transfer funds out of this country to any country deemed a sponsor of terrorism. Furthermore, they should be denied the ability to transfer funds to any country that permits the transfer of funds to any country deemed a sponsor of terrorism. A violation of this law would result in all of their funds being confiscated and their officers imprisoned or deported. The informal banking system historically used by the Arab community should be outlawed in this country and subjected to the same fiduciary laws as any formal organization. Any transfer of funds out of this country by any individual should be restricted to no more than $5000 in a year.

The Islamic Community should be notified that hate speech, threats to America, and any encouragement or overt attempt to recruit suicide bombers or terrorists, will be viewed as sedition and the perpetrator subject to imprisonment. If these acts transpire within a Mosque, that Mosque will not only be closed, it will be razed. If these actions take place outside of the United States, the harboring state (e.g. Syria, Iran, etc.) will be notified that the US expects them to take equivalent action to what would be done in the US and if they fail to do so, the US reserves the right to act unilaterally, if the harboring state views this action as an act of war, then so be it.

The head of state for any nation state viewed as harboring or sponsoring terrorists and terrorism should be told that the US holds them personally responsible for any terrorist action taken against the United States. This means that the US will attempt to remove them via assassination or any other means available. The objective is to take the battle to the terrorists, to deny them safe harbor, to disrupt their communications, to kill as many as possible, and to give those who would harbor them the choice to live within the confines of law or die.

The real lesson is how the Mongol empire disintegrated. The mighty Mongolian Empire fragmented when the leaders died so what is needed is a direct attack on the leaders. This includes people like Yasser Arafat, the various Mullahs running Iran, the Dictator of Syria, as well as the leaders of the various terrorist organizations. History tells us that with these people out of the way their followers will fall to fighting among themselves because the root is power and money, not ideology. Hence our basic strategy should be one of personal attacks on the leaders after giving them ample notice to conform or die. If they fail to heed the warning then there should be strikes against them similar to the air strike against Quaddaffi in Libya. This is a strategy that is being used by Israel and while it has not caused the attacks to stop, the reality is they are not striking the real leaders who actually reside in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, not in Gaza.

Many of these recommendations are already in place but under severe attack by the left and many well intentioned people who see these as extreme measures and not in keeping with the American character. However, these are extreme times and if we fail to take extreme measures we may find ourselves in the same position that the ancient Romans did, a civilization in slow decline harassed by Neo-Barbarians, with a collapsing economy, and a government unable to protect us from the ravages of the barbarians.

The fall of America and the end of the Pax Americana would plunge the world into chaos. The Europeans would be unable to contain the terrorists and France in particular would be vulnerable to a takeover by the Muslim terrorists. Very quickly the world would decline into a series of feudal states dominated by war lords fighting over the bones of society. Just as all vestiges of civilization vanished with the fall of Rome so it would be with the fall of America. Gone would be the leading technology, the science, and most of all the infrastructure on which the world economy depends. We are deeply engaged in World War III --- a war that could easily drag on for a decade or more – and if we do not aggressively pursue these Neo-Barbarians using every means at our disposal, we run a very great risk of losing.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Achilles, Patroculus, and the US Military

This morning’s paper brings an article regarding the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and why it needs to be rescinded. This is a topic that triggers great reaction both pro and con but I find myself uncertain and rather ambiguous about this as a policy. I must admit I thought it was one of the dumber ideas of the Clinton administration and that they should have left the status quo. In fact the gay community should have just kept their mouth shut and things would have remained as they were but more of that in a moment.

As usual there seems to be a lack of historical perspective here. There have been homosexuals in the army since there were armies. Achilles and Patroculus were lovers and Achilles killed Hector in revenge for his killing of Patroculus. Achilles was a famous warrior and no one seemed to concern themselves over the relationship between Achilles and Patroculus. The fabled Greek Phalanx was commonly composed of men and younger men who were frequently lovers. Julius Caesar was criticized as being the husband of all women and the wife of all men, yet he was recognized as a great leader, great soldier, and excellent general. Therefore, the history of the military shows that homosexuality is not antithetical to courage, bravery, or performance as a soldier.

The common complaint that I hear is that allowing homosexuals in the Army would intrude on the “privacy” of the other (presumably) straight soldiers. This sounds (at least to me) to be a relatively hollow argument for two reasons. First there are gay soldiers already there but not identified so everyone’s privacy is already being invaded and only the most na├»ve` guy would think otherwise. Secondly, all of us (males) have been in locker rooms all of our lives where we have been surrounded by nude and nearly nude men and boys. In many cases some of these nude men have been homosexual yet I don’t hear any demands that the various gyms, schools, and health clubs either exclude homosexuals or provide separate facilities. Now I can hear the argument already that in civilian life the choice to be nude in the presence of other men is voluntary while in the military no such choice is available but au contraire is my response because the military is voluntary. The minute you decide to join the military you know right up front that you will be put into situations where you will be naked in front of other naked men. Privacy is not something provided in the military, so to expect that you will only be nude in front of straight men is irrational, because even if the military were to exclude homosexuals (as they do) there will always be some there and that brings me to another point, which I think is more important.

The issue seems to be that the homosexual community doesn’t want to be excluded from the military but they want the military to accept their sexual orientation meaning that they wish to be openly gay while the military maintains that would be a disciplinary issue. So it appears to me that being in the military isn’t the issue, the issue is the ACCEPTANCE of the gay lifestyle as normal with the expectation that the military would protect the individual from those who disagree and more importantly provide them with the same rights and privileges afforded to heterosexuals. This has vast ramifications relative to housing but also relative to gay marriage and the associated benefits. I don’t think the military is the place to resolve these issues.

When I was in the Army, there were many homosexuals in the service. In fact it was relatively open and no one bothered to do anything about it as long as the boys didn’t make it too public and didn’t create problems that were brought to the attention of the authorities. You couldn’t go to gay bars in uniform but beyond that everyone seemed to turn a blind eye. There were places all over the post where homosexuals congregated, everyone seemed to know and no one seemed to care. Certainly, the authorities never took any action that I ever saw. In fact one of my sergeants was involved in a situation that involved a lot of men – enough to have made the papers, but the whole issue was hushed up, no one was ever discharged that I heard about, and the worst thing that happened was some transfers to other posts. That was the status quo and everything seemed to be OK until the gay community decided that EVERYONE had to accept their lifestyle and they convinced Clinton that he needed to change the military. The result was this crazy policy that really didn’t change anything except to sensitize the authorities and bring the whole situation to the forefront.

The fact is that roughly 10% of the male population is homosexual and if you figure in those that are bi-sexual the percentage probably rises to 20 to 25%. So the military is already filled with homosexuals who are doing their jobs, defending the country, and many times giving their lives. These men serve with distinction and I for one am glad they are there and would be proud to serve with them – whether they were out or not – and I think most men feel the same way. So I am ambiguous regarding the policy. I thought it was stupid to start with, I think it should be rescinded, but I don’t think I am ready to declare that openly gay men should be admitted because from my own personal experience as an officer I know that it would be a disciplinary problem. So I guess I come down squarely in the middle with no definitive position. Not a very comfortable place for a person accustomed to being in charge and making decisions, but if a gay person wishes to be in the military, as they have been historically, all they have to do is join up and shut up. If they place their sexuality above their desire to serve then that is their decision but they can’t have their cake and eat it too.

Some Observations

I saw the trailer for the movie "The Aviator" yesterday. This movie stars Leonardo Di Caprio as Howard Hughes but Di Caprio can't act -- never could act. He makes Al Gore look dynamic and exciting. It is astonishing how an "actor" can never show any expression at all. He looks like he has facial paralysis. However, apparently a lot of people think his pretty face makes up for his almost total lack of talent.

The first debate is over thank God -- I'm completely sick and tired of this election already. Kerry is a nitwit and power hungry opportunist devoid of any real conviction about anything other than himself. But here again there are a lot of people who see him as the anti-Bush and seem to think that is important. Very weird in my book.

Apparently the Army has decided to finally move against the Islamic murderers in Samarra and hopefully the rest of the Sunni strongholds aren't far behind. What seems to have gone unnoticed is that there was a deputation of 19 civic leaders from Samarra who were pleading with the Iraqi government and the US Army to entger the city and throw these criminals out. Of course this is an important factor that is ignored by the elite media. Reuters in particular (like most Europeans) is so terrified of being attacked by these murderers that they won't say anything that might possibly offend them. The press did report that someone (read Sunni's) blew up a Shi'ite Mosque in Pakistan yesterday. The liberals of course see this as evidence of escalating violence and proof that "we are losing the war on terror". While it does show an increasing level of violence from a military stand point it also shows their growing weakness. They (the murderers) are attacking anyone who disagrees with them and are being forced to attack softer and softer targets -- Mosques and children. This position regarding their weakness is further bolstered by the recent blatherings of Ayman Sawahiri calling for all Muslims to rise up against the Crusaders even if their leaders are killed. To me this shows that we are having an impact on them across the board.

We are in World War III and have been for 25 years and this could easily go on for another 25 years. It is religious in origin and it represents the thousand year old struggle between the Shia and the Sunni's and the struggle of Islam to crush and overthrow Christianity and Judeism. Islam is a violent religion.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Opening Comments

Liberal Thinking
By
Puntocracy
It seems ironic that in the same batch of emails, I received the commencement speech made by Neal Boortz and a promotion piece from a consulting firm. The connection between these two is tenuous I admit but nevertheless there. These consultants are from some respectable Universities but a careful reading of their rather impressive resumes shows that they are “consultants”, have always been “consultants” and really don’t plan on doing anything beyond telling others how to work. And to me that forms a connection between the speech and the solicitation because Boortz is exhorting the graduates to go out into “the real world” and get a job. The implication being that they would start doing real work for which they would be compensated. Concurrently, he accuses the “gaggle of gowned academics” of leading sheltered non-productive (implied I admit) lives where they can wallow in emotional “caring” for those less ‘fortunate” than they are while infecting their students with this irrational thinking.

This position isn’t totally without merit because so many of the academics that staff the major universities have gone from kindergarten to PhD to professor with no stops in between to garner any real experience either in their field or in the brutal competitive environment of business life. In my opinion this lack of any practical experience does not qualify them to teach and certainly doesn’t qualify them to express opinions on business or the evils thereof. As Boortz says, the sheltered life of the average academic allows them the luxury of indulging in causes and caring about groups but what he implies but doesn’t say is that this non-competitive environment fosters their belief in egalitarianism, wealth redistribution, and the evils of capitalism (raw brutal competition). It is no accident that the academic community is not only the breeding ground for communism and socialism but it seems unable to grasp the realities of these ideas.

Consider that the Communist Experiment in Soviet Russia was an abysmal failure, that Communist Cuba is a failed communist society that has sunk into oppressive dictatorship, or that the socialist ideals of Scandinavia and Europe have left their countries sapped of their competitive will and economically weak. Nothing is said regarding these failures, instead they are excused on the basis of flawed leadership rather than a flawed concept. After all, it wasn’t communism that was bad it was Stalin and his successors just as it is the oppressive policies of the United States that have created chaos in Cuba, not communism and Castro. The whole idea of Socialism and Communism seems attractive since its objective is to care for everyone but in reality it is nothing less than wealth distribution, where the government picks the pockets of the rich to give to the poor. Of course the assumption is that the poor are poor for reasons totally out of their control but the reality is that only a small percentage fall into this category while the great majority are in that position due to personal choices. They have chosen to not go to school, not get an education, to have children prematurely, not to look for a job, or worst of all, find they can make more money by not working than by working. In effect a large percentage of the “poverty stricken” have been put into that position by the very people who are “caring” for them.

The “caring” group are in fact (unintentionally I’m sure) creating a permanent underclass because there are people in the world who are – lazy. These are people who would rather lay around in substandard (and subsidized) housing, living off of food stamps and welfare than go to work. Admittedly there are people who are in these situations through no fault of their own (well not totally but I’ll cut them some slack), but a great many are there because to them the alternative of acting as a responsible self-sustaining adult is worse. Most – if not all – of the support for wealth redistribution comes from people who are in non-competitive situations – universities primarily. I am reminded of a study that was done by one of my professors when I was an undergraduate. This study had to do with land reform in Mexico. It seems virtually every Mexican President since the French were driven out – (Santana, Juarez, Zapata, etc.) gave the land “back to the peasants”. The issue was if each President seized the land from the wealthy land owners why did the landowners end up with all of the land? The answer was there were too many peasants and too little land. When you gave each peon his own parcel of land it was too small to sustain him and his family. They were forced to sell their land back to the Patrons and the cycle renewed itself. Not quite the same as wealth redistribution so lets examine a point I heard made by a businessman. He stated that his business was worth roughly $12M and he employed 300 people directly and influenced the community even more. So if the government seized his business (think Lenin, communism, and socialism) and gave the proceeds to the population -- $100 to each person in the countryside then they would not have enough money to do anything effectively with it and 300 people would be put out of work. The same thing happened in the Roman Empire, the Emperor Septimius Severus taxed the rich so heavily that he reduced their total number and reduced his tax revenues thereby. So the paradox was the higher the taxes became the lower the revenues.

So what seems to be lacking today, in addition to the almost total absence of critical thinking, is any historical perspective. Even when confronted with irrefutable facts many of the internationalists and liberal thinkers seem to be in a state of denial. For example, with the rise of the Sandinistas in Central America the academic and liberal community in general applauded their ‘for the people” position and anti-America and anti-United Fruit stance. There was a general denial by the Democratic Congress and the liberal community that the Sandinistas were communists. There was great opposition to any support for the Contras because they were viewed as being “against the people”. Later when the Sandinistas admitted publicly that they were Marxists and intended to establish a Marxists government, there was general denial by US media and liberal community that ALL of the Sandinistas were Marxists. Of course the Reagan administration eventually forced a real election and the Sandinistas lost, but even then and continuing to this day, there is a general denial that the Sandinistas intended to establish a Marxist dictatorship. Such is the thinking of the liberal media and liberal community in general. In general the liberals tend to see the world as they want it to be not as it is.