Monday, March 28, 2016

Warriors and soldiers both kill the enemy; and they both use weapons to do it.

A response to F.S. Naiden's Do drones contradict lessons from centuries of war?

I read with much dismay Professor F.S. Naiden's essay on the value of a "dishonorable" weapon - drones - and his entreaty that while impressive they were failing the very mission of the war. His basic thesis is: if we employ dishonorable weapons in war, does the nation's purpose get served?

I have to say that at first, I find that non-military people - those that never picked up a rifle nor dug a trench, nor spat blood, tend to seem the most strident and confident in their pronunciations on warfare. Like the preacher caught with a farmer's daughter it seemed far easier from the pulpit than in the barnhouse. It IS galling in the greatest to those that have been there because that grandiose sense of the obvious is the least available when you - personally - are in the thick of it. Deciding what to do when your people are in danger is not academic.

In comparison, Carl von Clausewitz was a general and even he questioned his ideas' value, having never completed his own work,  and questioned any information in war (he created the meme "fog of war") as inevitably suspect. How reassuring a professor may be more confident!

Pontification - by those that assure you they are personally worthy - never ends. So from the outset my bias is to raise my eyes to the heavens. My resolve is to rip apart the logic using what he assumes to demonstrate, his argument's weaknesses.  Just like what happens in the field and unlike what he enjoys behind the lectern.

For a start, let me present his argument. And then summarily demolish it.

In his article, Do drones contradict lessons from centuries of war? Professor Fred Naiden opines that by forgetting the value of valour and the honorable  combat we reduce the chances that brings two sides to the bargaining table; outside total war or the extermination of one side this is the essence of what needs to be done so that peace is achieved. He meanders through history to point at weapons defined as honorable weapon as shorter range weapon and less honorable weapon are longer-ranged weapon. From arrows and Paris to muskets and Indian wars that increased range and lethality, he elucidates, marks a departure from the original close nature of combat. He ends with drones - seemingly forgetting nuclear ICBM's and non-nuclear cruise missiles in particular - as the penultimate dishonorable weapon. Drones cause one to kill without justification, without meeting an enemy in the field and make war a dishonorable business. He writes:

He was thinking of the personal risk taken in combat, but also of the responsibility felt for taking life. An ancient soldier might accept this responsibility without qualm. A contemporary soldier is more likely to ponder this duty, and ask whether a goal worth killing for is also a goal worth dying for. The operator of a drone need not ask this question.
Centurions fought for their leaders, to call ancient soldiers "soldiers" is to demean the difference that current soldiers operate under. Caesar's legions fought for him, so they were really warriors. Otherwise, why did Caesars need the Praetorian guard? Centurions and legionnaires fought for THEIR Rome.

Most current soldiers do not know their leaders other than professionally and most would not choose a fellow citizen over the law nor their duty. Not even Trump. They are sent by their nation and fight for national interests.

This soldier/warrior definition is a distinction with an important difference.
Warriors care about personal glory, soldiers do their duty, more or less.

Warriors fight for themselves. If you can't conjure an approachable warrior ideal, consider an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter. They fight to be the recognized best and also for a reward. Including a bonus if their contest is particularly memorable.  A warrior wants to increase his legend, to gain personally from conquest, and serve his current allegiance in that order. A warrior would want to vanquish worthy foes in the most sporting way to demonstrate his supremacy in combat arms. At the same time, warriors like knights wouldn't care about decimating foot soldiers without personal combat because their is no glory in facing them. They are beneath contempt. So warriors would be indifferent to inglorious weapons dispatching unremarkable opponents. Therein lies the first fatal flaw in Naiden's argument. A weapon's honor status is not causally linked to those that wield them. Warriors and soldiers both kill the enemy; and they both use weapons to do it. Why they do it and when are the important considerations that determine if combat was honorable. The weapons are means to an end.

When it comes to close combat, decision time is the shortest of all possible scenarios. If opponents meet there is no time to question the resolve of an enemy.  If a warrior had to decide between dishonorable killing or death would they choose any differently than a soldier? Logically, they both would kill just as they might both fake their own death to live and fight another day.

On the other hand, drones can loiter for hours, even days. If there are too many people around a target, drones can wait for a better shot. Or not shoot at all.  Can you really take that chance in personal combat? Therein lies another flaw in his reasoning. Long range gives you more time to decide, not less. I cannot claim that will always lead to better outcomes, but can one make the counter argument that it will always lead to worse ones? That seems improbable.

He provides no instances that demonstrate dishonourable use of drones; although to be clear we will assume those instances exist. The point is that while he might attribute some drone actions as cowardly, he cannot demonstrate they are ALL cowardly so that is itself the another flaw in his arguments. Can one link all future actions to a pre-determined outcome?

Let's assess some of the examples Professor Naiden gave. On one hand, he points to atomic weapons used on Japan as long range weapons that were acceptable options as well as invasion:

Overreliance on drones is not only impractical; it is harmful to the combat ethos of the U.S. military. This ethos has always allowed for the use of long-range weapons, but it also gives an honored place to the use of short-range arms. A weapon such as the Hiroshima atomic bomb, dropped by airmen who never beheld their victims, is acceptable, but the alternative, invading Japan with a large landing force, is acceptable, too.
A soldier wants to achieve the ends dictated by leadership and will chose means amongst those available that make survival more likely and as well as success.  Sacrificing soldiers when they can be saved is not following orders and is counterproductive. And glory is not a contributing factor.

In hindsight, scholars have assessed that not dropping the atomic bombs would have resulted in 400,000 to 800,000 Allied casualties and five to ten million Japanese deaths before the inevitable defeat of Japan. So to my purpose the use of one horrific weapon achieved the ends desired (shortening the bloody fifth year of  world war and 6 to 10 million more deaths) even though it was a dishonorable long range attack. In fact, Henry Miller argued that tactical nuclear bombing of Japan was a strategic and moral imperative.  Not attacking Japan by nuclear weapons would have been worse for humanity despite the archaic notions of chivalry and war. If von Clausewitz was forced to decide on the alternatives to attack Japan in World War II, does Professor Naiden believe he would have chosen the "sporting" option?

One can extrapolate further, the nuclear weapon by itself as a mutually- assured deterrent almost assuredly prevented the third world war in the 20th century. 

Professor Naiden asks, do we lose our way by losing our understanding of the need to do battle and end with negotiation? Are we making things worse not meeting the enemy, defeating him, and then suing for peace?

For one, drones used by the CIA are not operated for or by soldiers. This is an easy observation that negates some of his point. Drones used in non-military operations are not fighting a conventional war. They are used by state actors of the government but not necessarily warfighters. If they aren't used by soldier's then their effectiveness does not reflect on soldiers in any way. The CIA's weapons reflect on US foreign policy and not the US army, for example.

He also writes:
“Drones give our own combat soldiers no responsibility, and they give our technicians too much.
If a bomb is dropped by a drone or a manned aircraft, where does the responsibility lie if not with the men "in the command loop"?  Where do technicians command anything? Is a dropped bomb any different from a thrown grenade?  He misunderstands how things really happen. It is a soldier's profession to maintain positive control on weapons.

Someone asking for air support does not care which system delivers the munition or fires the weapon. They, those that request it, understand the expected outcome and are responsible for what they request. In both cases, manned and unmanned "delivery" systems, all operations are monitored and recorded to which others can analyze ad nauseum post event. Therein lies the real consideration of accountability, not the means itself. Those professionals understand that they will be held accountable for mistakes or unlawful actions and there is a way to assess it.

Professor Naiden's next claim is that by closing with to destroy the enemy, our troops gain the ability to communicate with the enemy for the purpose of ending conflict. He posits:

"Centuries of warfare combining short- and long-range weapons teach us that belligerents can fight and communicate with the enemy at the same time. Innovations such as the drone have their place, but it is a smaller place than technologically infatuated officials suppose."
I can be assured that Professor Naiden has a rich and encyclopedic knowledge of historical weapons, but he seems to be missing the very recent and very pervasive technological revolution in mass media that even our enemies have adopted. ISIS is on Twitter. So is ETA and FARC. The Taliban is so immersed in cellular communications they ordered their commanders to not use phones so they would not be targeted so easily by counter insurgent operations.  So for Professor Naiden to claim that we need to be close to parlay is by itself an unrealistic and unevaluated position. We are closer than ever before. If journalists can contact the enemy, then so can our forces in a detached and manageable way.

What Professor Naiden is talking about is something like what von Clausewitz experienced in Mainz in 1793. In that engagement, the siege was ended when French troops agreed to retreat on their word to not fight allies (Prussians etc.) for one year. Unfortunately, in that situation the differences between Free French and royal/loyal Europe was about the same as a war between Coke and Pepsi. The distinctions weren't very distinctive. In general they were all Europeans with a common philosophy - apart from choice of government.  In today's conflict, modern Western armies are fighting weaponized Islam.  Islam does not consider it's enemies - apostates and non believers - as human. No quarter will be given and no end is in sight until Islamic radicals are dead.  Professor Naiden should perhaps review his romantic notions pertaining to old warfare versus the very real depravity of modern foes.

We address Professor Naden's penultimate argument:

Drones should serve the familiar purpose of inflicting casualties in tandem with inducing surrender. They should not serve the novel purpose of replacing troops, casualties, negotiations, and heroism — the whole business of war — with gadgetry.

To blame the soldiers, as Professor Naiden suggests in his article by pointing at the weapons used, is in fact a pathetic misplacing of responsibility. For one, soldiers use the weapons they are given so how is that realistic?  Is he claiming that ancient warriors would not find a way to use superior weapons if they had the opportunity? To say that is a stretch would be an underestimation.

Secondly, soldiers do what they are ordered, even when they know it makes their personal survival chances worse. Unlike academics. Soldiers follow political leadership direction and are accountable to political leadership, so where do the questions really deserve to be answered?

The real question isn't whether current soldiers have lost their way for using drones and is this why we lose; the pressing question is whether or not politicians understand what soldiers should be doing? Do politicians accept they must allow forces to do unpopular and uncivilized action to win?   Why aren't NATO forces carpet-bombing the cities of  sympathetic Taliban populations? If they house enemies why wouldn't we treat them exactly as the Japanese in WWII? Or the French in Napoleonic Wars?

The question is why didn't the NATO forces in Afghanistan close the Pakistan border and annihilate any one crossing into the Kandahar region? That is what ideal war strategy would dictate. Back to von Clausewitz, I argue he would have commanded Western leaders use all means, including nuclear weapons, to eliminate the enemy. And if he understood the Islam threat, he would probably authorize the destruction of Saudi Arabia as much as Iran. At the same time.

Military failure in recent conflicts is tied more to political decisions surrounding non-existential conflicts and the willingness of politicians to limit action to "civilized warfare" more than the relative effects of gadgets - or weapons - that are used. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Stark language leads to stark contrasts in politics.

Political correctness is the enemy of free choice; language meant to deaden emotional reaction also dampens the distinction between choices.

I just read Bring on the Mud, by Christopher Hitchens describing the 2004 Kerry - Bush election times.  Hitchens reminds us of the value of political antagonism in more than entertainment value is to make the choices of alternatives - even between no choice alternatives - as clearer through distinction. 

So while we may recoil at the hysterical language and insults, bringing out the real intent from hidden language is the goal as well.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The invasion of English marches on...

L'invasion d' Anglais marche toujours incessant... Google translates into French.

It used to be "bonnes faites de semaine".  I was taught traditional French and it's all out of date.

English as an idea is communicating simpler, faster, clearer, and open source. There is no conspiracy, just a relentless march towards a uni-lingual world.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

America: The Schizophrenic Empire - Hidden support for Trump

This is the hypocrisy of voters and the exposure of humanity.  Just like people smoke and eat fatty foods (if that is still harmful - one needs to check that daily with nutritional advice ) because they are satisfying ulterior goals, then there are many Americans that outwardly proclaim that electing Trump is ill advised.  But the numbers don't lie.

We have all seen the Rabid Trump supporters, those people will not lie to you about whom they support.

But according to the media and the polls, Trump's support should be capped around 38% - I don't know that number because they don't know a correct number either. So why is he winning?

Trump is beating others by 50% or more.  That is a fact after the polls are closed.  So where did all those mystery votes come from? From illegal immigrants sneaking into voting booths?

They came from closet Trump supporters. People that outwardly are agreeing that Trump is a nightmare but man they would really like to see Muslims banned. They say no to pollsters on the phone but they want jobs back even if that means massive tariffs on Chinese goods that starts a trade war. They are the silent majority that really want to act out their frustration on the rest of the world.

These people are living vicariously through Trump - attributional for good of course - they want a slug happy bully to get in there and wreak some havoc.

So when you ask where did all this anger come from? You can thank US presidents, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Khorasan group, and all the other contributing factors that have lead to such a menacing swing to the edge of humanity.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Trump knows how to manipulate people

#DonaldJTrump does not know how to build walls and buildings; he knows how to fund them. He didn't get ahead by writing laws; he bought politicians. He didn't study and research all the building codes and regulations; he hired people to do that for him. He doesn't know how to run a TV show; he lets people set it up for him.

Trump knows how to manipulate people.

In this video Matt Lewis points out how Trump mimics Mussolini's body language and Matt proposes that Trump must have studied demagogues.

Trump is an expert on using people, not knowledge, personal skill, or other qualities. He has tapped into anger the right way and he is slowly pushing people towards a deal: his deal.

Early on when Trump was brash and rude, he was going for attention and he was so successful the other candidates got no air.  Even today, the media asks every candidate what Donald would do rather than treating them individually. It must be insufferable for other candidates they can't be judged on their own merits without a comparison to only one candidate. It must be debilitating to get pushed off message by what they thought about what Donald J Trump was doing.

This situation seems to confound the politicians and the media but they don't understand they are being manipulated to get Trump what he wants. He is rude but they still cover him.  He is offensive but his opponents still respond to what he is doing. They don't understand how popularity works. He does.

Remember, Trump had two dry runs on presidential races. He has watched the media and learned how to work them. He watched the voters and how disaffected they became. He gave many interviews over the years. When he says he could shoot someone dead in the street and people would still support him he is not joking his intuition is correct.

WE laughed at him last time and didn't take him seriously because he stepped down last time. That is why people couldn't accept Trump the idea and Trump the leader.

Trump started out being outrageous on purpose to get the attention. He knew the media have become sensation whores that can't help themselves losing perspective and covering beyond the pale rhetoric. They all did what he wanted and turned towards him. And now they are in a ratings bonanza and can't help themselves because for once cable news about politics is getting massive ratings. They are Trump-locked on high volume campaign rhetoric. They have turned ridiculous up to eleven. They can't stop even if they wanted to so now they are attacking Trump for his hysterics but not for their own lack of objectivity. They even make money attacking other journalists for their unprofessionalism.

Back when he started, voters listened to the loudest voice that was displaying their frustration. He said things they accepted despite the nonsense because they wanted a change and wanted a different kind of person.  Trump is not a politician, he is a business man and that appeals as successful; he gets things done. They don't think Trump is actually going to bomb ISIS's families but whatever he does it's better than what the politicians are proposing. They see it as rhetoric; just like the lies politicians tell them so why is the media so shocked?

I thought to myself Trump was either a moron or a genius.  When he started tirades I thought he is either clever or he's going to do himself in within a month.  The factor that makes me suspect he is playing a strategy is that he has started to soften his language. I thought back in August 2015, if he comes out strong and then moderates his ideas with more reasonable sounding language he is playing for time against the general election. He knows that when the real race begins people will have forgotten the sound bites and silly quotes. That's old news. By the time November arrives he will be into policies and out of nonsense.

Stephen Colbert knows a hell of a lot more about playing a demagogue on TV. He understands the media, he understands the public. He plays to them and is popular with them night after night. He thinks Trump will be the nominee.

This campaign works because he has become so popular that attacking him causes voters to rally behind him. It reinforces the narrative that if people are attacking Trump; then even Obama and the Pope don't get that attacking him is the worst idea.

Trump's support is actually increasing despite his negative ratings, that should tell you more about his strategy than anything else.  The longer this campaign goes, the more rational he will morph. He may not win but he played a very good game, with a winning strategy.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Blame Clinton for Economic Disassociation and Financial Crises

The old traditional model of money's value made a direct correlate to value backed by work. You work so long or make a product that can be transformed into money. There was a distinct relationship since the days of barter systems and you can read Adam Smith's great book The Wealth of Nations.

This relation does not hold when you add the value of imaginary things like derivatives and credit default swaps (where more than one debtor expects reimbursement for losses ).  Fractional banking was a start of the change but so long as there was a linear relationship the risk and rewards never veered too far away. Imaginary assets have made the relationship from money to work an exponential relationship. If you don't know what an exponent looks like, I can assure you what that means is it dilutes the value even faster, far faster than people imagine.  When there is an exponential relationship there may be 1000 times as much loss compared to 1 hour of work.  When something is 1/1000 in magnitude in relation it is practically (for all intents and practical purposes ) disconnected. 

Imaginary assets that turn into profits are skimmed by the bankers and crumbs are given to shareholders. This all seems good capitalism. But when the bets don't come in, the results are worse than ever before. This is because the money isn't backed by an asset near the value of risked bet. 

Imaginary assets that don't make a profit are simply rolled into other losses so they dilute the value of work even more. So the profits make it look like a great idea but the losses take a far larger amount of extra money from somewhere else (i.e. other work ) in order to compensate.

One of the biggest problems with the financial system is that they learned they could make more money faster disconnecting the value of money from tangible things like work and risk it on imaginary things like credit default swaps. Without regulation, they failed as many times as the won and in the end needed to be bailed out by government for their hubris and stupidity. That cost of capitalism was passed onto consumers, shareholders, and taxpayers in the form of losses and debt. This is what Max Keiser has been screaming about since the 1990's.

Here is the reality; Human beings have an absolute maximum work / productivity limit per year, per month, and per day.  There is only so much you can expect humans to produce despite the means and multiplying factors like automation. There will always be humans working at the core even if they are just fixing the machines.Humans never reach the theoretical limit so a company/ bank / nation can only recover a loss far slower than they can lose the money in the first place. No nation can possibly cover all the bets of banks all the time.

There is no limit to how much money an exponential loss will cause to a bank. This loss may be so great that it can wreck a nation. These are not solid sound ways to plan and act over the long term for large amounts of money no matter which nation you are or where your shareholders are from. This is the outcome of economic disassociation of work from money.
The single biggest problem facing all mankind is the disassociation of money to value through imaginary credits and debts.  It is crippling recovery, infecting the mindset of governments, and the only group that is safe are bankers because they make sure they are paid from your paycheck before anything else. Every nation has changed to laws along US policies because their bankers want the same risks and threaten that investment will go elsewhere to make a higher profit and the nation will miss out. That is true, but they don't mention that when their bets don't work those same bankers turn around and demand the nation pay off their debts. That is what the US Glass-Stegall bill prevented was the psychopathic risking of human work represented in capital by bankers that ruins the value of US workers.

It was Bill Clinton that signed into law what the largest US banks wanted - deregulation of banks - so they could gamble with even riskier investments like derivatives instead of sticking to solid investments grounded in tangible assets. 

Don't believe me, listen to Robert Reich:

But the big Wall Street banks weren’t content. They wanted bigger profits. They thought they could make far more money by gambling with commercial deposits. So they set out to whittle down Glass-Steagall. 
Finally, in 1999, President Bill Clinton struck a deal with Republican Senator Phil Gramm to do exactly what Wall Street wanted, and repeal Glass-Steagall altogether.
Robert Reich argued against a change in the law and he lost. Hillary Clinton was an active part of the White House, official job or not. The Clintons have been paid off by the big banks ever since. Exactly how is Hillary Clinton fighting for the little guy when she allowed bankers to risk money they didn't have and bankrupt Americans?

We are all suffering recovering the losses that bankers and governments refuse to accept are unpayable losses and are hoping to make you pay in secret forever in order to bail them out. If you want to direct your anger at anyone in particular, there is a direct correlation between the law change and the outcome.

Friday, March 4, 2016

CNN Clinton News Network

I hate to sound like a real conspiracy nut, because I tend to believe in evidence based evaluation towards decisions. But I find it astonishing that CNN has no mention on its website anywhere of the alleged son of Bill Clinton, Danney Williams.

The fact that CNN is running a story about a dubious knife found on OJ Simpson's old property, which is salacious at best, but they don't think it's reporting to mention a cautious possibility that there is an alleged son of a former President and potential first husband?

Of course the Clintons would go after them but why would that be any different than bad reporting?

A network bent on announcing news on speculation but they don't want to break this story? They report on lost dogs and cats. They have a massive staff and many servers.

When I read Roger Stone's blog framing CNN as Clinton News Network I can see why that is. How can they claim impartial status when they won't report a claim at least? They point fingers at murderers.

Tell CNN to cover all relevant stories for the public trust they get.

The irony is the Clintons could give a  paternity sample to fix this problem if they knew they could pass. 

Why #DonaldTrump is winning, and why Clinton's won't win against #DonaldTrump

Roger Stone was an ascerbic outspoken dilettante the first time I saw him on CNN.  Then I read some of his work on The Stone Zone and some of his books.  He has a real inside view of US politics.  And he has real insight into Trump.

If you want to know why Trump is winning but defies all the pollsters and pundits, it is because they are all playing from a pro-Clinton viewpoint; they allow Clinton to get away with claiming she is pro-women but not address her record.  At the same time, Clinton claims she is pro-minority but she and Bill Clinton enacted the laws that put more minorities in jail for non-violent drug crimes.

What is interesting about the Clinton attacks on Trump, is that they are trying to shift the problems onto Trump ("he is a racist, he is a misogynist") whereas it is the Clintons that have a proven record - public policy and track record - of anti-women and anti-minority behaviour.

Roger Stone even lays out the direct strategy to defeat Clinton.

I don't follow most of Alex Jones because he's not that bright nor insightful, perhaps because he's overly scratchy and overly common, but Roger Stone had some interesting points in this video below.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Clinton has just completed a political role reversal.

Clinton has just adopted a strategy that takes on the viewpoint of Republicans, while at the same time Trump is the change agent demanding to wreck the Republican establishment and take back the government for the disenfranchised. 

Clinton has just proclaimed that most things are good in the nation and she will work to break down barriers as a minor change to the status quo.

Trump is bent on crushing the current status quo and making America great again.

Clinton is running as a Republican. Trump is running as a Democrat.  The cycle is complete.