'87 Sir

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A book that tries too hard....

This book was highly recommended on Amazon and since I take a keen interest in all things dealing with strategy, thinking about strategy, and thinking about how to think about strategy, I picked it up.

It was good but not great, offered some interesting insights, but no huge revelations, and overall didn't really wow me as much as I thought it would.

In the end, I would say I think the author tries too hard to take a good 100 page doctoral thesis and stretch it out to a 200 page book.

So, what insights does the book offer?  Well, the one that really caught my "hmmmm" was the critique on Clausewitz (cuz you know how I love me some Clausewitz) and how the binary model of Clausewitzian warfare is no longer really applicable.  Fortunately for this author he pays due homage to the masterpiece that is On War...unlike some other poltroons that I have critiqued, but he does raise some very fine points about how warfare is waged today within the overall context of waging war.  AND no, the two are not synonymous.

Mr. Simpson's primary point is that in a world of global media and interconnectedness, two parties waging war are not merely waging combat on each other, they are creating two different narratives of the conflict and then trying to sell them, as it were, to many different audiences, whether it's domestic populations, international organizations, or other countries.  This may seem intuitive on the surface, however, it is a subtle distinction lost on many Western militaries designed to smash the opponent and win military victories.  While this is indeed the job of military forces, in today's world, it's not enough. 

Witness the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel.  Hamas, a terrorist organization, labeled even by THIS administration as a terrorist organization, launches waves of rockets and missiles at Israel.  Israel uses its superior technology to shoot down these weapons, sparing their civilian population and launches a punitive expedition (my term, which I really like!) to wipe out these missile launchers, kill Hamas fighters and leaders, and send a political message to stop launching missiles into Israel. 

From a military point of view, this is a magnificent victory, the Israel Defense Forces protect their people and counter-attack against their enemies.  Sounds logical right?  BUT, in the weird world of leftist, socialist, terrorist loving politics of the UN and far too many useful idiots in America---ISRAEL is the aggressor bombing the poor, helpless Palestinian people.

Why is this so?  Messaging...and the West better wake the hell up because we are doing a horrible job defending Western Civilization and pointing out loud and clear what an evil Islamo-fascist groups like Hamas and ISIS murdering thugs are...but I digress.

Mr. Simpson makes some other interesting points that all orbit around this main thesis, but the book becomes somewhat repetitive and redundant and even the case study he uses seems somewhat contrived.

It was a good book, not as good as the recent work by Hew Strachan, but it has some valid points...fortunately I am good at skimming!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A marvelous mix of science fiction and alternate history

Allen Steele is one of my short list of favorite sci-fi authors.  I read a number of his early works, which were a marvelous mixture of Robert Heinlein and Ben Bova.  One of his earlier short stories was an excellent "what-if" story of the space race occurring not between the Soviet Union and the U.S., but the U.S. and Nazi Germany during World War II...the ultimate space contest between Robert Goddard and Werner Von Braun...space geek fantasy football, as it were.

As Steele explains in the afterword to this book, he tried to make this short story into a movie, which didn't work out, so he wisely decided to make it into a full length novel.   This short and intense read is an excellent combination of sci-fi and alternate history, two of my favorite fiction categories.

Blending real people like Robert Goddard and Werner Von Braun with lots of outstanding fictional characters, Steele also does an excellent job of integrating Nazi visions of technology and gadgetry, and they were far, far ahead of
anything the Allies had in almost every category:  jet planes, rockets, missiles, tanks..you name it, German engineering had a "super-weapon" and Steele seamlessly blends the technology into the story all the way.  

Told in a blend of flashback and current times, it is an excellent summer read...light, fun, and totally engaging...almost, I say ALMOST as good as my favorite Monster Hunter books.  How good was this book?  Well, I pretty much devoured it like a bag of Fritos..reading it in about 2 days.

If you like science fiction, read this book..even though you already kinda know how it will end, the journey is still well worth the trip.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Excellent World War I Anthology

There have been many recently published books on World War I, with the current wave composed primarily of volumes dealing with the beginning of the war.

Sir Max Hastings has written a marvelous book about those first months of 1914, reviewed here by yours truly.  Another of my favorite British military historians, Sir Hew Strachen, has also taken a keen interest in this war and has written a doorstop on the beginning of the war, that is on my to-read list...someday...when I have a lot of time...it's quite the door stop.  Sir Hew is also quite the strategic thinker, and has also written an excellent volume on many current issues facing western militaries in the post Afghanistan era..also reviewed by yours truly.

In this book, recently re-published for the 100th anniversary of the start of the "war to end all wars", Sir Hew Strachen has updated his excellent anthology of essays covering all aspects of this highly important conflict and written by a gaggle of top historians.  I will say that this is NOT a beginners history of the war.  The essays are all very rich is substance, but they all assume a pretty in-depth knowledge of the general facts of the war.  It is certainly NOT a narrative history, although the essays do mesh well, and to a certain extent many build off each other.  The essays on the strategic planning and motivations for both the Allied and Central Powers are particularly fascinating...the chapters of socialism and the home-front politics, a little less so, at least for me. 

Keeping in the new-found spirit of wrapping gender, social, and cultural studies into EVERY historical topic, (something I detest most of the time) there were essays on women, propaganda, and the societal changes wrought by the war that were at least tolerable for this ol' Neanderthal historian.

All in all, this is a fine addition to a World War I bookshelf, but is not for beginners.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A forgotten anniversary

A lot of time and digital data has been spent commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, even by yours truly, and rightly so.  The Great War was the primordial event of the 20th century, beginning thirty years of war, fifty years of Cold War, and creating the mess that is the Middle East today.

BUT, let's not forget an equally important anniversary...the 50th Anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

What is that you say?  Especially if you went to public schools.....using Common Core history...or social studies...or language art...or whatever Charlie-Foxtrot passes for history in America today.

SOOO, let's review....

In 1964, the American Navy was supporting a series of covert naval operations by South Vietnam against North Vietnam.  The operations, called Operation 34-A, were conducted by...yup, you guessed it, the CIA against North Vietnam.

On 2 August 1964, North Vietnamese PT boats attacked a US Navy destroyer, the USS Maddox off the coast of North Vietnam, mistakenly thinking the ship was involved in Operation 34-A missions...it wasn't ...it was actually conducting covert intelligence gathering...however that is done with a big stinkin' warship.  In any event, with the help of  aircraft from the USS Ticonderoga, the destroyer drove off the PT boats.  The controversy began with a supposed 2nd attack the night of 4 August on the Maddox and USS C. Turner Joy, an attack that was in dispute, even at the time.

Historically speaking, evidence over time has shown the LBJ and his minions either choose to ignore, covered up, or didn't ask a lot of questions as they seemed to be looking for an excuse to get more involved in Vietnam.  

The end result of all this was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the beginning of Operation Rolling Thunder, and the deepening involvement of the US in Vietnam, leading to 50,000 American dead.

This day has a personal meaning for me.  As a young midshipman and history major, my first research project was an examination of this entire incident, as I tried to determine if, in fact, the second attack had taken place.  My research showed that the issue was in great doubt, as bad weather, taut nerves, and an overeager sonarman probably led to the mistaken conclusion that the North Vietnamese attacked the two destroyers the night of August 4.  Needless to say, this was not a popular conclusion with some of my classmates, who figured I was just being a pessimist and Monday morning quarterback.  Of course, the fog of war is always in play, and even the commander of the two destroyers raised doubts immediately after the incident that an attack actually took place. 

However, LBJs mind was made up and he ordered retaliatory strikes.  Eight years of combat resulted.

So when some crazy lib starts spouting about how Bush lied about the WMD intelligence, ask them about the Gulf of Tonkin and their Great Society patron saint.

Chances are you'll get the typical clueless stare as most public school educated liberals probably have no idea what the Vietnam War was...much less how the Gulf of Tonkin incident led to direct American involvement.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Let them come...........warning...not for the faint of heart

JUST BE WARNED, if you think Luis Gutierrez, Jim Moran, Charles Schumer or Shelia Jackson Lee are rocket scientists, read no further...your head will explode.

I am trying to enjoy and complete my summer reading...and there is plenty of it. But I have been listening to all the broooohaha about the invasion (refugee flood, whatever) of illegal or undocumented, or unregistered Democrats on our southern border. Now it seems to me that lots of morons like Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Demoamnesty-ILL (murder capital of the US)) are eager, very eager to welcome these illiterate, unskilled poor people into the US. Amnesty shills love to quote the ol' Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Now, I would have no trouble with that...if it were true.  But here's my question...if all these folks fleeing drugs and violence want is a chance at the American dream...to make money...have a better life, whatever...that's fine...BTW don't go to Chicago or Detroit (bastions of liberal policies).  SO, how about we tell them that if you want to live in America, fine, then stop sending $50B back home while soaking up our food stamps, welfare, and other benefits?
Remittances from all sources to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries have more than doubled since 2000 but remain below their peak in 2007, the year in which the U.S. Great Recession began. The 2013 estimated total ($53.8 billion) is 13% below 2007’s $61.6 billion (in 2013 U.S. dollars).
The United States is the most important source of money sent home by migrants to the 17 Latin American nations as a group (including Mexico) that are the focus of this report. U.S. remittances accounted for three-quarters of the total in 2012—$41 billion out of $52.9 billion, according to World Bank data.
 I mean think about it...$50B...that's BILLIONS, 1,000 MILLIONS...sent home while American taxpayers pay for their medical care, food, housing, etc....seems kinda skewed doesn't it?

However, being the Machiavellian that I am, I actually think Republicans are not handling this well.   Given that most Americans are becoming increasingly alarmed and upset by our Dear Leader's actions or inaction in dealing with this invasion--a problem for a number of vulnerable Democrats in the upcoming election, I think Republicans should borrow a line from that most hated of persons by the left--George W. Bush, to wit:  "BRING IT ON!"

If Obama wants to unilaterally declare some pseudo-amnesty, I say let him...absolutely....go ahead, Barry...give away 5,000,000 work visas.....THEN here's what I would do:

1)  NOT PASS a bit of immigration reform...and let Obama PROUDLY say he blew off Congress to do what his radical amnesty pushing base wanted...and go ahead and throw the U.S. Chamber of Commerce under the bus too, because they are just as guilty...sadly I would have to point out to my fellow Americans that the so-called Republican Party is completely in the tank for big business on this one...and they want plenty of cheap labor to undercut salaries and depress wages while exploiting these people.  WOW, did I just sound kinda like a Democrat there?  Maybe, but I could get behind a little populism now and then....just sayin' 

2)  Make sure the various states and cities know that they will not get ONE ADDITIONAL federal $$ to overcome the dumping of these illegals on their schools, hospitals, police, social work, and whatever.  After all, there really isn't any federal money anyway.  BUT I would sure as hell let Barry and his travelers OWN this.  When average Americans find out just how much this act of invasion is costing THEM, then the fun will really begin. Wait until all those helicopter parents get told that AP classes have to get cut to pay for ESL courses...hmmmm.  Or wait until hospital ERs are filled with people carrying who knows what diseases from the Middle Ages....hmmmm

3)  If I had my way, we would send every single one of these huddled masses yearning to be free to one of America's sanctuary cities.  I know this seems harsh and uncaring, but it's really more of what my momma said to me-"Actions have consequences."  Since this Administration has NO legislative skills, NO ability to get anything done except by executive action...FINE...DO IT...then deal with the fallout.  And since these cities are clearly more caring and compassionate than others...let them have these poor refugees...seems fair.

4)  Also, if I had my way, I would stop remittances to Latin America from the U.S.  If these poor folks want to come to America, then their money should stay in America and boost the economy...after all, that's what Democrats say immigration does, right?  Or, even, better, we could do what Democrats love and tax it at 50% to help cover Medicaid and welfare costs...that seems fair, right?

As I have said before, this Administration can't get anything done, not because Republicans are evil, mean racists, although that's what everyone on MSNBC says, but because NO ONE TRUSTS OBAMA!

Even Bill Clinton could get things done, because he didn't rewrite laws to serve political purposes and of course he had a Republican Congress to write the laws who didn't say-"Well, we have to pass the bill to see what's in it." After the executive bending and contorting of Obamacare to influence 2 elections, I wouldn't pass any immigration legislation until 2017, because it WON'T MATTER anyway.  If Republicans don't want to impeach Obama...and I have two words for that...President Biden....then let Obama take the political heat for his unconstitutional executive actions....or better yet let the Democrats who want to get elected AFTER January 20, 2017 take the heat...Obama won't care.

SO, go ahead Republicans, let Obama take responsibility for putting thousands of MS-13 gang members on our streets and watch to see how average Americans react.

Rational people know that SOME kind of immigration reform is needed, including PROTECTING the borders and ensuring employers OBEY the law and don't hire illegals.  But this President isn't going to get it done...period....his might as well finish checking out because he has no credibility left in this town.

So go ahead Barry....use that pen and phone...let loose 5,000,000 more people into an economy that's still got millions out of work and the lowest labor participation rate in 40 years.   Then we'll see you at the ballot box in November.............