'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Friday, August 31, 2012

More history and politics

Yes...more history and politics...but now from the ORIGINAL military historian...Thucydides.  WHO is that, you may ask.  And yes, sadly far too many Americans must ask that, since they don't know history, philosophy or Western Civilization (oyyy, is that racist or xenophobic?), but can sure as heck name all the Kardashian sisters.

Thucydides, is considered by most military historians (or at least the ones I read) to be the first real military historian...and his magnum opus History of the Peloponnesian War is still required reading for anyone who wants to understand the eternal nature of war, politics, strategy and human behavior. 

I always find it amusing when Americans say- "This is an unprecedented crisis...never before seen in history.!?!?"  Well, yea, sweetcheeks, it really has been seen in history...no matter how much we have cool toys like iPads, the Internet, cable TV and Twitter...people are still fundamentally the same from the time they wielded spears and helmets and hacked each other to death on dusty battlefields.

This of course, is clearly obvious when reading Thucydides...so what would he say about politics these days?  Well, to start with, here is one of the most famous principles he espouses about war and conflict:

three of the strongest motives, fear, honor, and interest
Now, least anyone take those out of context, here is the entire little passage when the Athenians were making their speech to Sparta to avoid war.

It follows that it was not a very wonderful action, or contrary to the common practice of mankind, if we did accept an empire that was offered to us, and refused to give it up under the pressure of three of the strongest motives, fear, honor, and interest.
So,  these three motives, which seem very selfish and self-centered, but can be used to lofty purposes, often explain a great deal of human behavior, including political behavior in either a positive or negative light.  In fine Grouchy Historian manner, let me explain.
  • Fear:  For Republicans, this seems to be a genuine fear that our country is going off the rails, with  massive debt, massive spending and no real plan by the Obamabots to control either.  For Democrats, fear that Sandra Fluke will not get free birth control, fear that Obama must stop playing golf and going on vacations (at our expense) and actually lead by making hard decisions, and fear that someone will figure out that Harry Reid has really been part of the Walking Dead for the last four years, like the Zombie King.
  • Honor:  This is a tricky word for ANY politician.  So let's just say that honor is a way of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.  Obama has clearly failed this test...whether Republicans are REALLY serious about absorbing the coming onslaught from the Legacy Liberal Media and the Vicitimization Industrial Complex in order to truly reform entitlements remains to be seen.  Sorry, can't say much more than that.
  • Interest:  This is also a tricky word.  Republicans appear to understand that it is in our nation's interest (and theirs) to get the economy moving, put people back to work and start making real cuts to out-of-control government spending.  DemocRATs of course, consider it in their interest to keep as many people dependent on government handouts as possible, whether individual or corporate.  Sorry if that offends libs, but that's how I see it.

Okay, it's a very simplistic view, but at heart humans are pretty simple and basic creatures...in spite of what some people want you to believe...there are not a whole lot of "new" experiences for humanity.  We are just bombarded 24/7 with images and data these days...but not necessarily information or....wisdom.

Now, one of the central characters in Thucydides history is the first leader of Athens during the war, Pericles, who made one of the most famous speeches on strategy and war ever written.  When Athens and Sparta went to war Pericles knew that a decisive battle was not in Athens' best interest.  The Spartans were THE best fighting force in antiquity, who nearly always crushed their foes in battle, drove them before them, and listened to the lamentations of their women, kinda like Marines against terrorists in Fallujah.  However, Athens was a wealthy empire, with the best navy of the Ancient Greek world and a nearly impervious city.  So Pericles advocated a war of attrition, patience and asymmetric warfare, using Athenian naval might to raid the Spartan territory, maybe inciting a slave revolt among the Spartan serfs, and generally not doing anything stupid.
"I have many other reasons to hope for a favourable issue, if you can consent not to combine schemes of fresh conquest with the conduct of the war, and will abstain from wilfully involving yourselves in other dangers; indeed, I am more afraid of our own blunders than of the enemy's devices... It must be thoroughly understood that war is a necessity; but that the more readily we accept it, the less will be the ardour of our opponents, and that out of the greatest dangers communities and individuals acquire the greatest glory. Did not our fathers resist the Medes not only with resources far different from ours, but even when those resources had been abandoned; and more by wisdom than by fortune, more by daring than by strength, did not they beat off the barbarian and advance their affairs to their present height? We must not fall behind them, but must resist our enemies in any way and in every way, and attempt to hand down our power to our posterity unimpaired.  [Emphasis mine]

I highlighted a couple of passages as important lessons for the Republicans.  During next week's DemocRATic convention, they will likely trot out the ol' class warfare, tax the rich, corporations suck mantra, in addition to lots of Sanda Fluke clones saying Republicans are meany poo-poo heads for not providing free contraceptives and taxpayer-funded drive-thru abortions.  (was that over the top?...probably, but Dems would vote for that, I'm sure).

They may even tout how Obama saved GM (really only saved the UAW pensions and retirements---with billions of taxpayer dollars----our money) and prevented the ABSOLUTELY WORST DEPRESSION IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND.  See the above sweetcheeks comment...not really...and arguably Obama made the GREAT RECESSION, or whatever you call it worse..but I digress.  What you are not likely to hear is any great VISION to fix Medicare, fix Social Security, fix the debt (other than raising taxes of course) or anything else but the usual Obama show (I wanna talk about me, I wanna talk about I, I wanna talk about #1 oh, my, me, my).

SO, Republicans must absolutely NOT...EVER get bogged down in the whole "war on women" crap..except to talk about the hundreds of thousands of women out of work.  Seriously, if the Dems think America's biggest issue is free contraception and raising taxes to pay for abortions...then they have already LOST...all Republicans have to do ala Pericles..is stay on message and keep pounding the Dems on taxes, ObamaTax (Medicare plundering stinking pile of Sh** that it is), "YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT" which may go down in history as the single dumbest political statement ever, and the need to bring that three-letter word, as Joey Biden says J-O-B-S into every single conversation.

In that way Republicans will attain the greatest glory and hand down our power to our posterity unimpaired.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Another Convention post...grouchy as always.

I am not going to critique the speeches last night...plenty of pundits to do that...I thought I would release my inner Andy Rooney (probably the finest grouchy old fart of his generation) with a little stream of consciousness.

  • So Dems love to complain about Republican tax cuts as "trickle down economics" and "tax cuts for the wealthy".  But consider this...what is the practical difference between giving those evil millionaires and billionaires tax cuts to invest in the economy and Obama's HUGE stimulus spending?  I mean what was the stimulus for if not trickle down economics for those "shovel ready projects" and to keep those vital "cops, teachers, and firefighters" employed and paying public union dues?  As Republicans like to point out...who is better equipped to spend your money...you or Obama?  This really baffles me...Democrats talk condescendingly to nearly everyone, and sadly too many people fall for their empty promises...you're to stupid or lazy to take care of yourself, but we will..all you have to do is enter this indentured servitude agreement to pay back that $16Trillion and we will pay for everything!!! The difference between government and private investment is, as the old saying goes...billionaires invest their own money...Obama invests yours...and given his track record with GM and Solyndra...I would never give that man my 401K to manage, that's for damn sure.....So, the next time Obama or his minions preach about "investment" why shouldn't they be asked about their views on whether government trickle down economics works?  Of course that might upset the Politburo and their Pravda praetorian guards...who will quickly call you a racist capitalist pig-dog and tell you to get back to work so they can tax you and build the "workers paradise."
  •  Here's another pretty basic idea....the whole unemployment thing.  I would love to see a real analysis of what the effect of cutting the unemployment rate in half would do for the deficit, Medicare and Social Security imminent bankruptcies, and the general state of government finances.  NOT that I advocate giving the guvment more money, but it seems pretty obvious to me that if you cut the unemployment rate in half, that's something like 10,000,000 more Americans back at work...paying income taxes, and FICA, and Medicare...it would appear to me that those working people could make a significant dent in the deficit on both the federal and state level.  Not to mention GENUINE trickle down economics as those people now have REAL money in their pockets to spend, not guvment handouts of 99 weeks of unemployment, but real wages and real salaries.  Think that might help the ol' GDP?  I do...after all those people gotta eat, buy gas, pay for mortgages again, it seems that would be the REAL ripple effect our economy needs.  And of course the moral effect of getting people back to work can only make America a better place.
  • And going back to this whole Medicare thing...funding, deficits, and pushing Grandma off a cliff aside...has anyone noticed how freakin' hard it is to find a good doctor these days?  I have a few anecdotes here.  Our family has been forced to change primary care doctors TWICE in the last three years...primarily because of Medicare.  Let me explain...our first doctor tried to peddle some ridiculous concierge service to us...for a mere $2,000 a year.  So I asked WTF? and was told the doctor would still see me, and treat me...but wouldn't be able to spend as much "time" with me as a concierge patient.  When I asked WTF again, I was told that this was due to Medicare patients.  Well, I only see the doctor twice a year, unless I am bleeding (old Navy habit...nothing good ever comes from seeing a flight surgeon).  So this wasn't a problem for me and I carried on smartly.  Needless to say, this idea went over like a turd in a punch bowl (much like Obamacare and Chris Matthews' sense of humor) and within a year I heard nothing about this concierge nonsense and the doctor was seeing me again for a "regular" appointment.  HOWEVER, my +1, significant other, spouse, squeeze (yes, all the same person) had to actually leave her doctor, who she really, really liked, because she was flat out TOLD it would cost $1600 a year  out of pocket to remain a patient...payable on the easy quarterly payment plan of course.  When I asked WTF, I was told, again, it was partly due to downsizing her practice, but also because of Medicare patients.  Oh, and since ObamaTAX completely screwed those of us that use Financial Savings Accounts (we can only use $2,500 not $5,000 in pre-tax dollars, a big damn deal to my family), we had to leave this doctor.  Now don't get me wrong, I understand how important Medicare is to Grandma...blah, blah, blah...but if doctors are this reluctant to get screwed by Medicare payments...whaddya think is gonna happen when Obamacare comes along?
  • Finally, I loved Condi's speech, and I believe Americans are being very short-sighted if they completely ignore foreign policy in this election.  Yes, I know the economy is THE ISSUE and rightly so, but we cannot bury our heads in the sand...or sand-trap if you're Obama on the 9th hole...for the 100+ times since his Presidency began, and ignore the very real dangers in the world.  The Middle East is imploding...and I don't think many Americans understand that the conflict is Syria isn't just a civil war...it's a very real, very dangerous proxy war between Sunni and Shia Muslims for the direction of the Middle East.  Forget the ol' Jew-Arab thing...this is a REAL problem.  Many very smart people have postulated that when (and I sadly say when, not if) Iran gets the bomb...it is going to trigger a very, very unstable situation in the region as the Saudis and maybe even the Turks try to get their own nuclear deterrent.  Yup...imagine that folks...two groups of religious fanatics (and not those pesky Christian right-wingers the DNC fear and loath, either)  who really hate and fear each other with nuclear weapons pointed at a good chunk of the world's oil production fields...hey, what could go wrong? Then of course there is China, Russia, Mexico...all kinds of problems that could have a direct FINANCIAL and TRADE impact here in America...so pay attention folks, we can't retreat..as much as Obama succeeded in Iraq and is trying to do in Afghanistan.  As Chris Christie said, it's better to be respected than loved.  Unfortunately Obama is neither anymore.
So, that's my rant for the day...I look forward to tonight...sadly, I wish I had Mitt Romney's hair...yes I do have class envy when it comes to hair...rich guys always have the best hair...Romney, Trump..okay not the Donald...but Romney and Ryan clearly have a better barber than Joe Biden...sighh......

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Politics as War...update

Now for your election update...Grouchy Historian style.  After watching the speeches at last night's Republican Convention...and after gritting my teeth at Juan Williams complete asshat comment... I have determined it is time for another election update from the unique prism of the Principles of War.

Yup, that's right, politics is war...so how should Republicans fight the well oiled democRATic mediatainment machine (that's the nexus of Hollywood, the legacy media, and the victimization industry of the NAACP, NARAL, NOW...blah, blah).

By using the Principles of War, of course.  Now, these have been debated for years, and there is really no hard and fast list, but I prefer to use a selected list from the current U.S. Army as outlined in FM 3-0.  This of course, is the U.S. Army's capstone manual on doctrine, for those of you more interested in the ridiculous antics of loser protesters.

So here they are:
  • Objective- Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective.  This is the most straightforward...DEFEAT OBAMA...that's pretty easy to understand.  I would add of course, that the Republicans need to win the Senate as well, or cadaver Harry will block anything they try to do...even a 50-50 tie is good enough...at least to pass a budget, do tax reform...and undo Obamacare...if the Republicans have the guts to RULE and not worry about what the NYTIMESWAPOABCNBCCBS chucklenuts say about them.
  • Offensive-Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective.  See above...Romney/Ryan must keep this election focused on Obama...his failed promises...HIS lousy economy....HIS $15T in debt...it cracks me up how liberals try to spin this debt as Bush's fault, and how Obama is REDUCING the deficit every year...HEY boneheads reducing $100B from a $1.2T deficit?  Don't hurt yourself patting yourself on the back.....When the Dems spend their convention talking about raising taxes on those evil wealthy people (their universal cure-all) and how it's America's patriotic duty to provide free contraception to Sandra Fluke, and how George W continues to be the liberal anti-Christ (not that Dems believe in God or anything like that)..Republicans must stay relentlessly focused on "It's the economy, stupid"...
  • Mass-Mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the decisive place and time. No, I am not talking about Chris Christie...although he was the BIG MAN, literally and figuratively of last night.  Republicans need to get EVERYONE focused on Obama...they had some great governors and candidates speak last night...including Mia Love and Artur Davis..WHO WAS AWESOME...if that guy doesn't scare the crap out of the liberal victim industry (NAACP) then they aren't paying attention...Mitt should bring him on every single campaign stop...put an end to the Dems racial politics once and for all....and Mia Love should be on lots of national ads as well.
  • Maneuver-Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power. Maneuver is the movement of forces in relation to the enemy to gain positional advantage. Effective maneuver keeps the enemy off balance and protects the force. It is used to exploit successes, to preserve freedom of action, and to reduce vulnerability. It continually poses new problems for the enemy by rendering his actions ineffective, eventually leading to defeat  I copied this principle in its entirety because this is the KEY to victory in November.  Republicans have already begun to outflank the Dems on Medicare, and they can do the same with Social Security and the rest of the entitlement state upon which the entire democRATic political establishment rests...yup they got nothing else to peddle but more welfare, more dependency and higher taxes to pay for it.  Republicans must stay focused, steer around the upcoming attacks on Mitt's taxes, contraception, the "War on Women" B.S. and keep using the "You didn't build that" theme to keep the Dems off balance and defending their own philosophy, tax policies, and economic plans (if you can find them).  DON'T get bogged down in personal crap and keep saying.."Welll that Obama guy is a nice man, but in over his head, with no clue what to do but raise taxes and invest more."  Which anyone with half a brain knows is code for more crony capitalism like giving our tax dollars to 'green energy' companies....whose primary job seems to be generating green cash for democRATic politicians.

  • Unity of Command-For every objective, seek unity of command and unity of effort.  It appears that Republicans are more united than I have seen them in a long time.  They know the existential threat a 2nd Obama term would be to our liberty and prosperity and it is heartening to see so many rivals of Mitt onboard.  I just wish that idiot Todd Akin would figure out that he ain't gonna win in Missouri and get the hell out...shoot offer him a cushy gig on the RNC when the election is over...or some excellent think-tank job....in Kabul...something...he has been the only dark spot on an otherwise pretty darn cheer filled week.

  • Simplicity-Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and concise orders to ensure thorough understanding. Everything in war is very simple, but the simple thing is difficult.  This is a tough one...Republicans need to borrow a page from Ronald Reagan...keep your campaign to 2 or 3 big themes.....1) Relief for small business from Taxmageddon, the EPA (employment prevention agency)...I love that jab from last night, and Obamacare.   2)  Protecting Medicare and Social Security by SERIOUS reforms 3) Energy INDEPENDENCE via domestic energy production...shoot with gas headed to $4 a gallon again...Newt's $2.50 a gallon slogan is looking pretty good.
 So, there you go...a basic plan to come out to the convention on offensive, with a simple plan that can be ruthlessly executed....Obama and the Dems are lined up for a serious butt-whuppin'...they are arrogant, out of touch, and think that Obama's CHARM will save them.  Of course I hope the adults in the democRATic party (if there are any left) wake up and realize that the 'O' doesn't give a rat's ass about the party...it's all about him, him, him...and God forbid, even if he does hang around until 2016...the Dems are gonna have to pick up the pieces...

But, let's try and avoid that, shall we?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Convention time...and time for another edition of the Federalist Papers

So, with the beginning of the Republican and Democratic, or as I like to say democRATic conventions...just to annoy whinny liberals, it is probably time to revisit those never read, and certainly never understood Federalist Papers.

Picking back up with #15, it's interesting to note what Alexander Hamilton is trying to point out in this particular tome-the weakness of the Articles of Confederation is making a laughingstock of the new American nation:
"We may indeed with propriety be said to have reached almost the last stage of national humiliation. There is scarcely anything that can wound the pride or degrade the character of an independent nation which we do not experience. Are there engagements to the performance of which we are held by every tie respectable among men? These are the subjects of constant and unblushing violation. Do we owe debts to foreigners and to our own citizens contracted in a time of imminent peril for the preservation of our political existence? These remain without any proper or satisfactory provision for their discharge. Have we valuable territories and important posts in the possession of a foreign power which, by express stipulations, ought long since to have been surrendered? These are still retained, to the prejudice of our interests, not less than of our rights. Are we in a condition to resent or to repel the aggression? We have neither troops, nor treasury, nor government."

Hmmm, sounds kinda like what may happen when Obummer and the democRATS let sequestration happen...just to say to their base---"See, see we tried to fix it, but those meany-poopoo head Republicans wouldn't raise taxes on those evil, evil rich people."  Of course forget the fact that no homeless man ever gave me a job...just rich people...or that politicians would not even EXIST if it wasn't for rich people to tax.  Of course in Obama's economy RICH is becoming synonymous with employeed.

What is more fascinating...and more topical for our times...is the Anti-Federalist #15..the continued discussion on the pitfalls of the proposed judicial branch.

Written by Robert Yates, this paper is so prophetic, it's kinda scary:

"But the judges under this constitution will controul the legislature, for the supreme court are authorised in the last resort, to determine what is the extent of the powers of the Congress; they are to give the constitution an explanation, and there is no power above them to set aside their judgment......that the judicial under this system have a power which is above the legislative, and which indeed transcends any power before given to a judicial by any free government under heaven."
"The power of this court is in many cases superior to that of the legislature. I have shewed, in a former paper, that this court will be authorised to decide upon the meaning of the constitution, and that, not only according to the natural and ob[vious] meaning of the words, but also according to the spirit and intention of it. In the exercise of this power they will not be subordinate to, but above the legislature....If, therefore, the legislature pass any laws, inconsistent with the sense the judges put upon the constitution, they will declare it void; and therefore in this respect their power is superior to that of the legislature." 
YUP, read that passage again, and again...and one more time to see exactly how sharp this guy was.  Now I understand the role of the judicial branch laid out in Marbury vs. Madison...blah, blah...but our current judicial system, with lifetime appointments has become out of control and allows exactly the kind of "legislating from the bench" and "judge shopping" that drives me nuts. 

Now, this is, of course, caused by weak-knead and gutless legislators who can't make hard decisions, but the fact that some judge can, at the stroke of a pen decide the rule of law for 350 million people, with little or no recourse seems not only absurd, but insane.  Why can't judges be appointed for 10 years, and then either have to be reappointed or move on?  States do it all the time...it may not be perfect, but having some liberal hanger on like John Paul Stevens or Ruth Ginsberg seems a little nuts.  Of course, that would mean no more Scalia or Thomas, but maybe that's not so bad either, it would show that elections have consequences and maybe offer hope for overturning ridiculous rulings like Roe v. Wade, or  the Kelo Case, or even Lawrence Vs Texas.

For those morons who want to preach judicial infallibility or "removing politics from the bench", I would remind them of not only those cases, but Dred Scott, Plessy vs. Ferguson or others....

Judges are no smarter or better informed than anyone else and bring their prejudices and biases to the bench...just ask Sonya Sotomayor.

Remember the Obamacare case?  People (especially conservatives) spewed venom at the Chief Justice, but he kinda had it right when he said (and I  will paraphrase here) that is it not the role of judges to save the people from their own stupidity in electing the most lefty, socialist Congress and President EVER.  For anyone who would listen Obama and his posse did exactly what they said they would...achieve the ultimate progressive liberal dream of passing government funded and run health care ala European socialism. 

More Federalist goodness to come...it's gonna be a long September......

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Campaign Update-Grouchy Historian Style

Well, tis the season of political punditry, and since I can usual remember what state I am in, unlike Joe Biden, I figure why not?  Let's talk about the state of the race.  Unlike the usual political pundits who want to talk about polls, focus groups, fund raising, blah, blah, blah. I figured I would use a different point of view....history.  (Duh, what did you think I would use).

Now when I try my hand at political commentary, I try to differentiate between what I know as fact, what I opine about, and what I don't know (yet).  When I wrote my post on the fallout from the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare (now more correctly called Obamatax) I got only one expected lefty comment.

Anonymous said...
This post is EXTREMELY offensive, and poorly researched. Thank you for generalizing all those that belong to the democratic party as "rats", for comparing President Obama to dictators such as Castro, Hitler, Il, and Stalin (common denominator? GENOCIDE! of course...), for wrongfully claiming president Bush has nothing to do with the current national debt, etc. Shameful.

Now like most leftys, Anonymous completely IGNORED what I was talking about.  I did not compare Comrade Obama to Castro, Hitler or Stalin...although I did imply he is a socialist redistributionist....which I OPINE he is.  I didn't even mention Obama's mishandling of the economy, but as usual, the left has to blame Bush for anything and everything.  And of course I was a meanie poopo head and called Democrats democRATS....darn, what an evil person I am.  I love how leftys seem to think American political history began on 1/20/2009 and completely forget the venom, treason, and absolutely hateful smack they threw at W and Darth Cheney for eight years.  WELL, this hommie don't play that.  You wanna call me names like sexist, homophobic, mysongist xenophobe, then I will call you a democRAT.  Get the hell over it, whiny twerps.  Oh, and to imply that I, the Grouchy Historian does not conduct incisive and extensive research ?!?!?  Hello...whatever, go back to mama's basement.
Okay, that felt better, switching to decaf now.
I thought it would be instructive to look at the current Presidential Campaign through the eyes of two of my favorite people....Clausewitz and Sun Tzu.  Hmmm, not political analysts, but two of the greatest military theoreticians in history?  YUP, that's correct...and that's why I like it.

Starting with my man Clausewitz...who famously said.."that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political discourse, carried on with other means." I, of course, would extend that to say that politics is war and should be treated as such.  I am heartened to note the Romney campaign seems to know they are in a war and have avoided the obvious errors of the 2008 McCain campaign, like accepting Federal matching campaign funds, which nearly caused McCain to run out of money in October 2008.  And of course, unlike many Republicans, I think Romney ran a pretty good, if bare knuckle primary campaign, which I hope previews what he plans to do after the Republican convention.

Clausewitz goes on to say that "war is an act of force, and there is no logical limit to the application of that force."
There has never been a truer statement spoken about politics than that.  Clearly Obama and the democRATS will do ANYTHING, SAY ANYTHING and use whatever means they can to discredit Romney, trash Republicans and AVOID talking about Obama's record at all costs.  I mean seriously, we have $15 T in debt, 8% unemployment (really more like 15% if you go by the U6 numbers, which I do) and the entire Middle East going to the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.  Why in the hell are we seriously talking about contraception, tax returns, and dog carriers on car roofs?  I love that Paul Ryan is sticking Obamacare right where it hurts...the $700B that is robbed from Medicare to pay for it...I mean seriously are America's senior citizens so brain-addled to think that even Obama could poop out the money to pay for Obamatax?  That money had to come from somewhere, and Grandma, that would be you.  So if Ryan can stay on message, keep sticking to the math and shred Biden in the debates, which shouldn't be too hard, then he may go down as the guy who gave Romney the election.

and finally, my newest favorite quote of Clausewitz "Obstinacy is a fault of temperament.  Stubbornness and intolerance of contradiction result from a special kind of egotism, which elevates above everything else the pleasure of its autonomous intellect to which others must bow.  It might also be called vanity, if it were not something superior:  vanity is content with appearance alone; obstinance demands the material reality."  

That is the best description of Obama I think I have ever read.  Obama really does BELIEVE his own nonsense about green energy, spreading the wealth and "you didn't build that."  If he was just another vain and egotistical politician, I could at least understand that...but Obama's a true believer in social re-distribution and "fundamentally transforming America."  Which is why I hope he goes back to Chicago in Jan 2013 and starts he speaking tour....or golf tour, whatever.

Now Sun Tzu is much more of a zen sort of thinker and offers more pithy political advice:
"Warfare is the way of deception."

Now this, of course, describes the Obama campaign's basic plan to a tee...divert, divert, divert as much attention as possible from the actual record of accomplishments...which consists of $1T in wasted stimulus money, $5T in new debt on less than 4 years, 15% unemployment, Medicare and Social Security going broke years earlier than they should, not to mention the coming conflagration in the Middle East.  Yup, let's keep talking about Romney's tax returns, free contraception, throwing Grandma off the cliff and Paul Ryan's abs.  Hopefully the Republicans will keep their laser focus on the economy, jobs and the coming Tax Armageddon that Obama is only too happy to spend trying to keep Obamacare afloat, pay benefits to all the new illegal immigrants he wants to give amnesty, and payoffs to blue states going bankrupt (don't kid yourself, he's gonna promise California that they're "too big to fail"...wait and see what happens if he gets reelected.)

and these little gems as well:

"Thus the highest realization of warfare is to attack the enemy's plans, next is to attack their alliances, next to attack their army and the lowest is to attack their fortified cities."

This should be the Romney-Ryan playbook...1) Take the Medicare issue from the democRATS and schwack them with it..over and over and over $700B is too big to hide and too hard to lie and deny.  2)  Keep winning over traditional unions...the coal miners are already sitting out...how about all those union workers who should be building the Keystone pipeline, or working on those offshore oil rigs....3) Attack the army of brain-dead youth voters who may be waking up to fact that they're about to get screwed to the wall by Obamacare and the destruction of what remains of Social Security and Medicare...oh, and there's that crappy job market and those pesky student loans.  

So there it is...my opinion of how things are going...for now...can't wait to see the Republican convention....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review # 4: Finally, an interesting comparison of Iraq and Vietnam

The Limits of U.S. Military Capabilities:  Lessons from Vietnam and Iraq.  By James H. Lebovic.  Baltimore, Md.:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.  ISBN 978-0-8018-9472-5.  Notes.  Bibliography.  Index.  Pp. x, 297.  $50.00.

This book, the last of the 4 given to me by the Society of Military History for my review essay,  was much, much better than the previous volume of case studies on counter-insurgency I reviewed.   

James Lebovic, a political science professor at GWU, uses a much more narrow case study methodology to compare the U.S. military efforts in Vietnam versus Iraq.  Unlike many of the superficial and quite frankly, absurd comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam by various left-wing pundits who see EVERY American military action as "another Vietnam," no doubt trying to rekindle their glory days of sex, drugs, rock & roll, and draft dodging, Lebovic makes a detailed and comprehensive examination of each war.  His title, The Limits of U.S. Military Capabilities, successfully mirrors his analysis, which does not look at tactics or military operations but the overarching strategic and political issues in combating an insurgency while supporting a shaky friendly government that have a direct limiting effect on military effectiveness.  What makes his analysis timely and unique is his approach. He examines the interactions of the U.S. with the host nation governments, local political and tribal leaders, and outside players; weaving together an analysis of how all of these determine the success of supporting a weak, ineffective, or corrupt government facing an insurgent challenge.  

Lebovic in detail examines how the South Vietnamese and Iraqi governments often had very different agendas and priorities from the U.S.--with a correspondingly negative influence on military operations.  More importantly, in spite of massive U.S. military commitment, there was often little political influence the U.S. could bring to bear on recalcitrant allies to make needed political, social or economic reforms without jeopardizing the relationship with the host government.  Both the Vietnamese and Iraqis seemed to be were aware of this quandary, and were able to manipulate the U.S. and avoid making difficult or unpopular decisions that might have aided the overall war effort.  Needless to say, fighting with allies is a pain in the butt...fighting with corrupt knuckleheads who can't even collect trash or provide police as allies is almost always a losing proposition.  

Personally, I also think that trying to "Americanize" these wars and how the ARVN and Iraqi forces fought was also part of the problem.  Both were intended to be high firepower, high mobility militaries (roughly speaking) and when the far-left Democratic Congress slashed military aid to South Vietnam in 1974-1975, the North Vietnamese correctly smelled blood in the war and overran the country with a conventional attack, similar to the Easter Offensive which the U.S. stopped in 1972.  The Iraqis may be more fortunate since they have oil for revenue and no external threat....yet, the security situation there is going to hell now that this Administration no longer cares about Iraq, having bigger fish to fry in Syria, abandoning Israel to the tender mercies of Iran,  letting Egypt fall to Islamofascists, Bain Capital, and Medicare.

But I digress...back to the book.

Lebovic not only offers comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, he details the significant differences as well; something the idiotic analyses performed between 2004-2010 by the likes of the NYT, CNN, and other media armchair generals failed to do.  This compare and contrast style makes this book especially valuable in understanding the unique nature of each conflict and to his credit, Lebovic is very careful to highlight these similarities and differences when offering his conclusions and insights.   
These conclusions are not only cogent and timely but they highlight the real limitations the U.S. has when using military power to support nation-building or bolstering an ally against a homegrown insurgency where U.S. vital interests may be uncertain.  Lebovic’s thesis that military prowess is not always applicable to distant counter-insurgency or counter-terrorist operations may be painful for a superpower like the U.S. to acknowledge, but rings true nonetheless and provides a great deal of food for thought for the senior military officer or policy-maker in the post-Iraq era.
Although it is a bit pricey, I thought this book was well written, informative, and offered useful insights and lessons learned.  And of course, I want to thank the SMH for giving me this volume to review.

Now of course, it is time for the review essay...it is in the final stages and will hopefully be published soon.