Uncle Sam wants You in Combat if you’re an Ugly Woman

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

Does a woman belong in a combat role in the Army?  If she is as strong as a man and as willing to get as dirty as a man, perhaps.  But if she is wearing makeup while deployed on duty in a combat zone?  I don’t know.  For it looks like  that woman is apparently more concerned about maintaining her femininity than the mission at hand (see U.S. Army told to advertise for recruits using ‘average looking women’ because they are perceived as more competent than prettier soldiers by Jennifer Smith posted 11/20/2013 on the Daily Mail).

A U.S. Army spokeswoman has said images of ‘average-looking women’ should be used in recruitment advertisement as photographs of more attractive soldiers confuse the reality of the roles in combat.

A leaked email that circulated revealed how a leading strategy analyst affirmed ‘ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead.’

Colonel Lynette Arnhart, who is heading a team of experts studying how best [t]o integrate women into service, condemned advertising images used in the past as they ‘undermine the rest of the message’…

‘For example, the attached article shows a pretty woman, wearing make-up while deployed on duty.

‘Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered a hazardous duty’…

Ms Arnhart cited a photograph used last year that depicted a female soldier with mud on her face as one which ‘sends a different message’ in the email that was obtained by POLITICO.

‘(It is) One of women willing to do the dirty work necessary to get the job done.’

If a woman is wearing cosmetics in the field there goes any arguments of equality out the window.  For men don’t wear cosmetics in the field.  In fact, they are prohibited from wearing cosmetics (see Army Regulation 670–1, Chapter 1, Introduction, Hair and fingernail standards and grooming policies • 1–8, page 3).

b. Cosmetics.

(1) General. As with hairstyles, the requirement for standards regarding cosmetics is necessary to maintain uniformity and to avoid an extreme or unmilitary appearance. Males are prohibited from wearing cosmetics, to include nail polish. Females are authorized to wear cosmetics with all uniforms, provided they are applied conservatively and in good taste and complement the uniform. Leaders at all levels must exercise good judgment in the enforcement of this policy.

That’s not equality.  Why is a woman even wearing makeup in full combat gear while deployed on duty?  Because she wants to be pretty when she’s killing the enemy?  Because she wants to be attractive to her fellow soldiers?  To her superiors?  Just to feel pretty?  If so, why?  Why is this an issue for women in combat?  It isn’t for men.

No judgment is needed with men in combat.  No makeup.  Period.  To borrow a word from President Obama.  For women it’s a different story.  It’s not an objective black and white issue.  It’s a subjective gray area.  Some makeup is okay if it’s conservatively applied.  It’s a judgment call.  Where different leaders may have different judgments.  And this isn’t good in a world where there are no individuals.

There are no individuals in the military.  They drill that out of you during basic training.  Everyone dresses the same.  Everyone marches the same.  Everyone salutes the same.  For there are no individuals.  Only positions of rank.  But women are treated differently.  And complicate things.  Which can’t be good for the overall mission.  Especially when top brass are writing emails discussing how women in combat gear shouldn’t be too pretty and should wear mud on her face instead of makeup to send the right message.

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The Bureaucrats running the Army waste $5 Billion experimenting with a New Universal Pattern Uniform

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 19th, 2013

Week in Review

The rollout of Obamacare has been a disaster.  Now we’ve learned that they used ten-year old technology for the big website.  They didn’t test it sufficiently before going live.  And there are political operatives working as navigators collecting our most personal information.  Some even with criminal records.  In other words, it’s a real cluster [deleted expletive].  Or business as usual whenever the government tries to do something (see The Army’s $5 billion waste by Caitlin Dickson posted 10/14/2013 on Yahoo! News).

In 2004, the Army decided to scrap the two traditional camouflage uniforms that had long been used by the military—one meant for woodland environments, another for the desert—and claimed to have come up with a universal pattern that could be worn anywhere and blend in with any environment. The $5 billion dollar experiment with the universal pattern is over as the Army is phasing out the uniform after less than a decade of use. But many soldiers and observers are wondering why it took this long and cost this much to replace an item that performed poorly from the start during a period when the money could have been spent on other critical needs, like potentially life saving improvements to military vehicles and body armor.

The left loves to point to the military as a government success story.  But it’s not the government that makes the military the best in the world.  It’s the people.  Patriots who love their country.  Especially the junior officers and the noncommissioned officers.  Those closest to combat.  Who learn at a steep price the art of war.  Those grizzled veterans of their late teens and early twenties who survive pass their craft on to the kids coming up behind them.  This is who landed at Normandy and fought their way through those beach defenses and went on to win World War II.  These old men in their late teens and early twenties leading the younger guys through the fires of hell and back home again.  Not government.  For all the weapons and all the planes and all the ships would not have done a damn thing unless they were in the hands of America’s finest.

Those noncoms and junior officers who advance through the ranks and the officer corps to leadership positions command larger units.  Turning from tactics to strategy.  Crafting our war plans.  That those noncoms and junior officers carry out.  But, again, it’s these combat veterans that make the military great.  Not the bureaucrats responsible for buying the uniforms.

We can expect more of the same with Obamacare.  For the same bureaucrats that waste $5 billion on a bad uniform design will be running our health care.  Of course under Obamacare we won’t just be wasting billions of dollars.  We’ll be destroying the best health care system in the world.  Which will put all Americans at risk.  Our health.  And our lives.

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A Broken Family and Bullying for being Gay drove Bradley Manning to the largest National Security Breach since the Pentagon Papers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 3rd, 2013

Week in Review

You get in trouble in the military if you have an affair.  Why?  Because that secret could give someone power over the adulterer.  This is the stuff they made spy movies about during the Cold War.  If the Soviets found out a person’s adulterous secret they would demand top secret information from the adulterer to keep that secret from becoming public.  A lot of traitors were made this way.  Which is why the military likes their people to be happily married.  With a regular, run of the mill boring life.  So there is nothing that can fester and boil over one day.  And compromise U.S. security (see Revealed: How an alcoholic mother and being kicked out of home for being gay turned a geeky Midwestern boy the biggest leaker in U.S. history by Dan Bates posted 7/30/2013 on the Daily Mail).

He was a ‘mess of a child’ who was tormented for being gay, kicked out of home at 18 by his father and once threatened to stab his step mother with a knife.

His own mother drank too much, he could not hold down a job and once literally crawled up a wall because he felt his family were ignoring him.

Perhaps it was no surprise then, that Bradley Manning was angry at the world – angry enough to hit back at any figure of authority that was within his grasp.

He has now been convicted of leaking classified information but given the troubled life he led Manning was always a time bomb waiting to go off…

Even at a young age Manning had a festering lack of respect for authority and refused to recite part of the Pledge of Allegiance to God…

In 2000 his already turbulent life took a turn for the worse when his parents divorced…

Manning spent four years there and, according to reports, was taunted by his classmates because he was gay and because he was American.

Rowan John, a former classmate who was openly gay in school, has said: ‘It was probably the worst experience anybody could go through. Being different like me, or Bradley, in the middle of nowhere is like going back in time to the Dark Ages…’

He met Tyler Watkins, a freshman at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, west of Boston, who called himself a singer and a drag queen on his blog…

Manning made weekend visits to see Watkins and met the lesbian, gay and transgender community he was part of. He also got involved with the university’s hacker community…

He had already been noticed by those around him for his keenly developed political views, and even in Iraq he posted Facebook that he was ‘beyond frustrated with people and society at large’…

Three months after being stationed in Baghdad, Manning came home for leave for two weeks and told Watkins that he had ‘gotten his hands on’ some sensitive information and was considering passing it on to Wikileaks.

Manning was no doubt an angry young man – he is still only 25 today – and spent his life doing things his own way because he had no other choice.

So it is hard to believe that he was entirely acting out of the wider good when he gave 700,000 documents to Wikileaks, the largest national security breach since the Pentagon Papers.

How much of his motive was cold-blooded revenge for a lifetime of rejection, only Bradley Manning will know.

I never knew that Manning was gay.  I don’t recall the mainstream media reporting that small bit of information.  All they said was that Bradley was a hero.  For exposing the crimes of the Bush administration.  While condemning the treachery of Edward Snowden who exposed the crimes of the Obama administration.  That is, who compromised national security during the Obama administration.  For sneaky things are only crimes in the Bush administration.  Not in the Obama administration.  Apparently.

So he was gay.  An atheist (based on that thing about the Pledge of Allegiance).  Liked hacking computers.  And was angry at the world.  Particularly the straight world.  For the way the straight world treated him while growing up gay.  Which is, sadly, not that uncommon.  Bullying of gay kids.  Which does who knows how much damage to these kids.  Some are so distraught from this bullying that they have even committed suicide.

The Army needs to do a better job with their background checks.  If someone discovered this information now someone could have discovered it before he was put into a position where he could do great harm.  Especially someone who was involved with a university’s hacker community.  Which should have been enough to bar him from having access to any computer that is a portal to classified information.  For law abiding (and Army regulation-abiding) people shouldn’t be hanging out with people who illegally hack into computer systems.

One can’t help but think that had they kept Manning out of the Army for being gay he could not have leaked 700,000 classified documents to our enemies (who no doubt read these on the Internet like everyone else did).  Of course, banning gays from the military would only drive them underground.  Where gay servicemen would harbor a great secret that could give someone power over them.  Like an adulterer trying to hide an affair.  Then again, an adulterer would have to be found out.  A spy would have to discover the secret to apply pressure for information.  Whereas Manning just gave it up because he was angry at the world.  Making him more dangerous.  Less unpredictable.  And should have been easier to screen out of a position having access to classified information.  Something the military should consider before assigning anyone to a position with such access again.

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The Army is looking to use Unreliable Renewable Energy to provide Reliable Energy Security on their Installations

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 12th, 2012

Week in Review

The Army Corps of Engineers is following orders and going green.  Putting their installations at greater risk of electric power interruptions.  Even though the reason to go green was the complete opposite.  To minimize power interruptions.  As well as to lower costs (see Army’s Logic for Developing Wind and Solar Energy Makes No Sense by Daniel Kish posted 8/10/2012 on U.S. News & World Report).

The Army Corps of Engineers recently put out a request for proposal for renewable energy developers to build energy facilities on Army bases. The Army says building renewables such as wind and solar on Army bases will promote “energy security,” however this claim fails to acknowledge the inherent problem of reliability with intermittent sources of energy like wind and solar…

It is important to remember that under our system of civilian control of the military, political appointees direct the branches of the military to carry out administration policy, and the military salutes and carries out the orders. It would appear that politicians working to promote renewables is the reason the Army is making this move, because its proposal would essentially accomplish the opposite of what it says it intends to do…

The mission of the military is to kill people and break things.  And to deter others from killing Americans and breaking American things.  Two assets that have been very good at meeting these objects in the military’s arsenal are the B-52 bomber and the nuclear-powered sub.

Have you ever seen a B-52 take off?  A whole wing of B-52s in a Minimum Interval Take-Off (MITO)?  Their engines leave behind a thick black fossil-fuel-made cloud.  Yeah, that’s right.  Air pollution.  And those subs?  They use nuclear power because it lets those subs stay under water forever. The only thing that brings them up is the fuel the sailors need.  Food.  The B-52 pollutes.  And the nuclear sub uses the fuel the Left hates over all other fuels.  Radioactive fuel.  So given the choice the military will pollute and risk The China Syndrome in their subs.  Why?  Because the B-52 and the nuclear sub are the best assets for the mission.  And they will keep using them until their civilian commanders order them not to.  Just like they have ordered these Army installations NOT to use the best power source available but one that matches the current administration’s green agenda.  Unreliable renewable energy.  To help fight global warming.  A battle outside the mission of the military.  And will only weaken the military in their ability to fulfill their mission.

Wind or solar would make power production on military bases more secure if disruptions to the grid only happened when the wind was blowing or the sun was shining, and that will obviously not be the case…

Despite the fact that wind and solar are not reliable sources of energy, the Army’s request for proposal explicitly calls for proposals for wind and solar (see pages 6, 7 among others). Hammack’s [Assistant Secretary for Installations, Energy, and the Environment] argument that producing wind and solar on Army bases with increased “energy security” does not hold water, since the obvious alternatives, coal, and natural gas, are abundant in the United States: The United States has over 450 years of coal at the current rate of consumption, for example…

The Army also claims that the purpose of the renewable energy projects is to shield Army bases from electricity price hikes. But like the energy security argument, the Army’s assertion that its proposal will save money is rooted in fallacy. One of the reasons electricity prices are rising is because of regulations imposed by the Obama administration, and the Army could simply ask Congress to waive them for the military if high prices were the only issue at hand.

If you’re worried about cost you can make the electricity a coal-fired power plants produce less expensive by ending their war on coal.  But they won’t do that.  So it’s not about cost.  Besides, wind and solar power are some of the most expensive sources of power out there.  Yes, the fuel is free (wind and sunshine), but the infrastructure to capture it and use it is vast.  And costly.  Because each unit that captures these fuels is small.  So you need a lot of them to equal a fraction of what a coal-fired power plant can produce.

Electricity powers a hospital.  Without it their emergency rooms and intensive care units would go dark.  And people would die.  Because it is so crucial they have redundancies.  They will have a row of primary switchgear (4,800 volts or higher) fed by two different feeders going back to two different substations.  There will be an equal number of circuit breakers on each side separated by an open ‘tie breaker’ in the middle.  They will evenly (approximately) split the electrical load of the hospital on either side of the tie breaker.  Dividing the load evenly across the two primary feeds.  However, if one feed goes down (tree falls on wire, substation explodes, etc.) the breaker going to the down line will open and the tie breaker will close.  Putting the entire hospital on the one good primary feed.  It can do this because they size both primary feeds large enough to carry the full load of the hospital.

But redundancy doesn’t end there.  If an electrical event is great enough to take out both primary feeds the hospital will have backup generator power available as well.  Powered in most cases by on-site diesel fuel.  Some may use natural gas but they have to prove the reliability of their gas service.  As the last line of defense in a power outage, they want backup generator power self-contained and independent of all other municipal power sources.

This is redundancy.  And wind and solar simply do not provide this.  They are unreliable.  And they cannot carry the full electrical load of a hospital.  Or other large consumers of electricity.  At most these supplement baseload power.  They can’t replace it.  If these installations want true energy security, true power redundancy, they would be better off installing a diesel-powered turbine with onsite diesel storage for when their electric grid goes down.  Or a natural gas-powered turbine with a reliable (not connected to the local gas supply but a high pressure main) and secured gas feed to the base.  In other words, if they want true energy security they’d better be willing to pollute the air like a wing of B-52s taking off in a MITO exercise.  Because if you want true energy security you are going to have to pollute.

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Continental Army, Continental Congress, Inflation, Wage & Price Controls, Paper Money, Specie, IOUs, Impressment and Repudiation

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 3rd, 2012

Politics 101

The Articles of Confederation made the United States of America a Confederacy of Sovereign States that had Little Power to Raise Revenue

By the time the Continental Army left Valley Forge they could hold their own against the British Army.  The British couldn’t push them around any longer.  They became so good that they fought the war to a standstill.  They came close to some major wins on the field of battle.  But close didn’t diminish the staying power of the British Army.  And they stayed.  On the battlefield.  And in their cities.  Dragging the conflict out for a total of 8 years.  And no matter what era of warfare you use to measure war-years 8 years of war is very costly.  Someone has to pay for it.  And, ultimately, it’s the people.  Either through taxation.  Or the loss of wealth through inflation.  Or simply the loss of wealth through the losing of your stuff.  And going without.  Because the army fighting for your liberty had no choice but to take what was yours.

This made the Revolutionary War unlike other wars.  For this war was about liberty.  Property rights.  The tyranny of a distant power.  And unjust taxation.  In other words this war was against all the things that made fighting a war possible.  You can’t really draft men to fight in a country that stands for liberty.  You just can’t confiscate the things you need to wage war from your people in a country built upon the principle of property rights.  You can’t declare martial law and suspend the rule of law on people you deem not to be patriotic enough in supporting the cause when you’re fighting the tyranny of a distant power that does.  (Even the Americans gave British soldiers a fair trial for the Boston Massacre).  And taxes?  The people that dumped tea into Boston Harbor over the principle of no taxation for revenue purposes without representation in Parliament was not going to be able to tax their people on a federal level.  Which proved a big obstacle in paying for the war to win their liberty.

The Articles of Confederation made the United States of America a confederacy of sovereign states.  And those sovereign states held the real power.  Virginia.  Massachusetts.  Pennsylvania.  New York.  And the other 9 sovereign states.  Not the United States of America.  That confederation that was waging war against the mightiest power in the world.  Which made raising funds difficult.  For without the power to levy taxes all they could do was ask.  Just like George Washington did all of the time.  Especially during that horrible winter at Valley Forge when his army was naked and starving.  He asked the Continental Congress for provisions.  And the Continental Congress asked the several states for their apportioned funds raised by their state legislatures.  Per the Articles of Confederation.  If they didn’t pay these funds timely or in full (or at all) they could ask again.  And that’s all they could do.  Which is why George Washington’s army suffered through that horrible winter.  Because the funds weren’t there to buy Washington the provisions his army needed.

Thanks to Inflation the Continental Army often had No Choice but to Take what they Needed from the People they were Fighting For 

The Americans never had enough money.  Which makes it amazing that they held off losing for 8 years.  Eight very costly years.  And won.  Especially considering how bad the economy was during the war.  Unable to tax or get sufficient loans from Europe they had little choice but to print money.  Which caused a whole lot of trouble.  For the more money they printed and put into circulation the more the value of their currency fell.  And soon a Continental was “not worth a Continental.”  And when the currency lost its value it took more of it to buy things.  Which led to price inflation.  The price of material and parts grew so high that it increased the cost of American manufactured muskets over the cost of imported French muskets.  Which they had to bring in through a British blockade.  Giving what should have been a cost advantage to the Americans.  Had it not been for the inflation.

To try and keep prices under control they implemented wage and price controls.  Which didn’t work.  The continued devaluation of the currency forced sellers to raise their prices to cover their rising costs.  Forcing them to sell below their costs would just put them out of business.  Voluntarily.  Or involuntarily.  Creating shortages in the market place.  Some offered lower prices for specie (gold and silver coins).  You can’t print hard money (specie).  So it held its value.  Unlike the paper money.  So a little of specie went a long way compared to paper money.  Of course, this didn’t help their wage and price controls.  It just made the paper more worthless.  And raised prices further.

There was yet another ugly side to this sordid business.  High prices and shortages created opportunity to profit handsomely.  There was speculation and market manipulation (hoarding, cornering the market, etc.) to take advantage of those highly priced items that were in scare supply.  Further raising prices for the people.  And compounding the problems of provisioning the army.  Which infuriated the low-paid soldiers.  Who the Continental Congress paid in that worthless paper money.  Angry mobs arose to address this profiteering.  As well as new laws and enforcement.  But they helped little.  The army often had no choice but to take what they needed from the people they were fighting for.  Either outright.  Or in exchange for IOUs.   Promises that the Continental Congress of the United States of America would make good on.  Just as soon as the several states paid their apportioned funds raised by their state legislatures. 

If you Violate the Ideals you’re Fighting for while Fighting for those Ideals it can Complicate the Peace

Fighting for an ideal makes war complicated.  If you’re just a tyrannical dictator looking to rape and pillage it makes things easier.  You don’t have to worry about liberty.  Property rights.  Debt.  Or taxes.  In the short term.  Or the long term.  Which made the American Revolutionary War a very difficult war to fight.  Because at the heart of the United States of America were those ideals.  To win this war to grant liberty to the people required taking their liberty away.  A little.  To win this war to guarantee property rights you had to violate property rights.  A little.  To win this war against tyranny you had to use excessive force against your people.  A little.  To win this war to establish taxation only with representation caused the destruction or personal wealth.  A lot.  Through impressment (taking things from the people).  Borrowing from foreign countries.  Or through inflation.

When the French joined the Americans in 1778 inflation was already out of control.  They printed twice as many Continentals in 1778 as they did in the last three years combined.  And there was serious discussion about doing the unthinkable.  Repudiation.  To simply escape the inflation by escaping the currency.  To retire the bills from circulation.  At a fraction of their value.  And that’s what they did in 1780.  Issuing new currency based on specie for the old currency at a 40 to one ratio.  The states were to tax their people to raise the funds for the new currency.  So the people took a huge short-term loss.  For a stable long-term future.  Based on specie.  That they couldn’t inflate.  This hard money would come from in large part the Spanish and the French.  The Spanish in Cuba buying American flour with specie.  And French aid.  As well as their army and navy spending their hard money in the American economy.

Wars are costly.  And they are rarely nice.  Trying to make them nice can make them last longer.  Which will make them more costly.  Of course, if you violate the ideals you’re fighting for while fighting for those ideals it can complicate the peace.  Luckily, for the Americans, they won their peace.  Their allies, the French, were not so lucky in their revolution.  The French Revolution.  Fought less than a decade after the American Revolution came to a close.  And unlike the Americans the French peace that followed was a bloody one.  That would eventually replace the king they executed with an emperor.  Napoleon Bonaparte.  Who the Americans helped bring to power in part due to the crushing debt King Louis XVI incurred supporting the Americans in their revolution.

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Market Economy, Command Economy and Market Failures

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 30th, 2012

Economics 101

Money replaced the Barter System making it Easier to Trade Freely and Voluntarily

We did our first economic exchanges in a market economy.  Agricultural advances gave us our first food surpluses.  These food surpluses gave people free time.  To do other things besides growing food.  Like developing an alphabet and writing.  Mathematics.  A code of laws.  And we made material goods.  Like pottery.  Farming tools.  Processing olive oil for lamps.  People who were good at making one thing made a lot of that one thing and traded with other people.  Who were good at making one thing themselves.  These people met.  And traded.  Freely and voluntarily.

Free trade.  A key element of the market economy.  Where people freely met and traded the things they made.  With other people who are freely trading the things they made.  Free trade came before money.  We bartered our first trades.  Trading goods for goods.  We then created money to make our trades easier.  Reducing the search time to find people to trade with.

Money is something that can store value.  Which allowed people to trade their goods for money.  Then they took that money and traded it with someone else.  To get something they wanted.  Money allowed people to spend less time finding people to trade with.  Because you didn’t have to find that one person that had what you wanted AND was willing to trade it for what you made.  Money allowed us to advance beyond the barter system.  Which proved more and more inefficient as we produced more and more goods.

Because of Market Failures the Government taxes to Provide Public Goods and Eliminate the Free-Rider Problem

As we produced more and more goods our standard of living rose.  We had more things in our lives that made that life easier.  More comfortable.  And more enjoyable.  Civilizations with a bustling market economy were great places to live.  Because there were a lot of nice things to make life better.  Which other people saw.  From beyond the civilization.  And they wanted what they saw.  And they took it.  By force.  Raiding parties would enter a developed civilization and rape, murder and plunder.  So to enjoy the amenities of an advanced civilization required the ability to protect your civilization.  Which led to one of the first market failures.  The failure of the market to provide city defenses through the free and voluntary trading of people engaged in economic activity.

We call it a market failure because building city defenses and creating an army are things the market economy can’t provide.  One person can’t make a fort or an army.  And trade it with someone else.  It’s too big.  It takes a lot of people and a lot of effort to make these things.  But it doesn’t take everyone.  If everyone else is contributing one person could skip contributing.  That person would still be able to enjoy the benefits of that fort and army.  Living in safety.  And enjoy living in safety for free.  Something we call the free-rider problem.  The fort and army are examples of public goods.  Things the free market can’t provide.  Or that the free market fails to provide.  Not that the market is broken or operating poorly.  It’s because people rarely act freely and voluntarily to benefit other people.  Because any time and money spent doing this is time and money taken away from their own families.  Which would bring hardship to them.  So the government provides these things that are necessary AND cause personal hardship to individuals to provide.  The government forces everyone to contribute.  Which minimizes the hardship each individual must bear.

Some in power like to take this further.  And call things that people can provide for themselves that benefit only themselves public goods, too.  Such as health care.  Higher education.  Housing.  Food.  Everything the people can buy for themselves by working to earn the money to buy these things.  And when they do they alone enjoy the benefits of these goods.  These goods they incurred hardships to obtain.  By working to earn a paycheck.  Or sacrificing other things to have these things instead.  It’s their call.  Their choice.  A choice they enter freely and voluntarily.  Therefore these things are not public goods.  But that doesn’t stop some people from acting like they are public goods.  Usually to help them win an election to office.  Or to overthrow the government.

A Command Economy reduced Economic Activity and Introduced a Police State

Civilizations with a bustling market economy were great places to live.  If you had talent and ability.  If you did then you could work hard and trade your talent and ability for a paycheck.  That you could use to trade for other things in that bustling economy.  Those with great talent and ability would be able to trade these for great paychecks.  Those with less talent and ability would be able to trade these for lesser paychecks.  Which, of course, caused income inequality.  Which is a handy thing to exploit if you want to seize power.  So you can enjoy the best things the civilization has to offer.  When your talent and ability only can trade for one of those lesser paychecks.

History is full of people trying to seize power.  So this is nothing new.  What was new was the way these people seized power.  By using the teachings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.  As they wrote in the Communist Manifesto.  Who attacked market economies.  And capitalism.  Saying that the new middle class, the bourgeois, maximized profits by exploiting the working class.  The proletariat.  Which they said was unfair.  And that the only way to make things fair was to destroy the very concept of private property.  Because only the bourgeois accumulated private property.  The proletariat had none.  And only got poorer and poorer while the bourgeois got richer and richer.  Under their system, then, nothing belonged to the person.  Everything belonged to the state.  If you created something with your talent and ability it belonged to the state.  And then the state determined how to distribute the fruit of your labors.  Basically according to the rule ‘from those according to ability to those according to need’.  Those with the greatest need got the most stuff.  And those with the most ability worked the hardest.  Well, you can just guess how that worked out.  Everyone tried to show as little ability as possible and the greatest need as possible.

Because people weren’t the masters of their talent and ability anymore they couldn’t trade freely and voluntarily.  Which meant there was no longer a market economy.  Instead there was a command economy.  Where the government made all the decisions.  What to make.  How to use resources.  Where people lived.  Where they worked.  And what prices they paid for the things in the state-run stores.  Which had shelves full of things no one wanted to buy.  And empty shelves where the staples went (soap, toilet paper, etc.).  Because the government decided what to bring to the state-run stores.  And in what quantity.  Not people trading freely and voluntarily.  Which reduced economic activity.  Reduced living standards.  And introduced a police state.  Because anyone who had a chance to escape to a market economy did.  Which is why the East Germans built a wall in Berlin.  To keep their people from escaping their command economy.  And going to the market economy across the street.

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Fiscal Policy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 6th, 2012

Economics 101

The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (1787) was about Money and Unity at the National Level 

Once upon a time in America federal taxes were small.  As was federal spending.  The Constitution called for little.  The only big ticket items being an army and a navy.  To protect the new nation.  But Americans didn’t like paying taxes then any more than they do now.  There wasn’t even a federal income tax until the 16th Amendment (1913).  So even maintaining an army and a navy was difficult.  Which led to a lot of problems.  For a nation that couldn’t protect herself got pushed around in the rough and tumble world.  And the U.S. took its share of swirlies and wedgies in her infancy.  Figuratively, of course.

Just as kings needed money to maintain their kingdoms, the Americans needed money to maintain their new nation.  Which was the point of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (1787).  It was about the money.  And unity.  Which the new nation (that just gained its independence from Britain) had little of.  So we got a new constitution.  And a new nation.  And the federal taxing and spending began.  Which was small at first.  Too small for Alexander Hamilton.  But far too much for Thomas Jefferson.  In fact, Jefferson thought any federal spending above zero was too much.  And when he was president he slashed government spending.  To the point that it hurt the safety of the United States.  But he also bought the Louisiana Territory.  And used the Navy and the Marine Corps to protect American interests abroad.  These two items alone required enormous amounts of federal spending.  And borrowing.  Another thing Jefferson was dead set against.  And we’re talking sums of money that not even Alexander Hamilton had proposed.  Yet here was Jefferson, the limited-government president, spending and borrowing unlimited funds. Being more Hamilton than Hamilton himself.

Of course, things change.  Even for Jefferson.  The Louisiana Purchase was a deal that no president should have passed up.  Thankfully, Jefferson took that opportunity to more than double the size of the United States.  Without a war.  Unlike Napoleon who was conquering Europe.   But he was burning through money.  And he needed money more than he needed the Louisiana Territory.  Hence the Louisiana Purchase.  Which turned out to be quite the bargain in the long run for the U.S.  And the antimilitary Jefferson flexed America’s might by teaching the Barbary pirates a lesson.  By deploying the U.S. Navy and Marines to the Shores of Tripoli.  The first U.S. victory on foreign soil.  Giving the U.S. respect.  And a cessation of those swirlies and wedgies.

Keynesian Stimulus Spending may lessen the Severity of Economic Recessions

These things cost money.  And the lion’s share of the federal budget was defense spending.  Per the Constitution.  For that was one of the main things the several states could not do well.  Maintain an army and a navy.  Because they needed unity.  One army.  And one navy.  To protect one nation.  So the states and their people could pursue happiness without foreign aggressors molesting them.  So this is how federal spending began.  But you wouldn’t know it by looking at fiscal policy today.

Fiscal policy is the collection of policies that government uses to tax and spend.  But it’s more than just defense spending these days.  Federal spending had grown to include things from business subsidies to Social Security to Medicare to food stamps to welfare to income redistribution to farm subsidies.  And everything else you can possibly imagine under the sun.  None of which was included in the Constitution.  Because neither Jefferson nor Hamilton would have agreed to these expenditures.  But it doesn’t end with this spending.

Fiscal policy also ‘manages’ the economy.  Or tries to.  By trying to maintain ‘full employment’.  Which means they adjust tax and spend policies so that anyone who wants a full time job can have one.  Based on Keynesian economics.  And the business cycle.  The business cycle is the cyclic economic transitions between economic expansions and contractions.  The inflationary and recessionary boom-bust cycles.  No one likes recessions.  Because people lose their jobs.  And have to get by on less money.  So Keynesian economists say to lessen the severity of recessions the government can take action to stimulate economic activity.  They can cut taxes.  Because when people pay less in taxes they have more disposable income to spend on economic activity.  Which they say will keep people from losing their jobs.  And create new jobs.  Or the government can spend money.  Picking up the slack from consumers who aren’t spending money.  Thus saving and/or creating jobs.  Which stimulus depends on the political party in office.  In general, Republicans favor tax cuts.  And Democrats favor spending.

All Keynesian Stimulus Spending is Deficit Spending

But it’s not as simple as that.  Because during recessions tax revenues fall.  When people earn less they pay less in taxes.  Far less.  Especially if an interruption in their income puts them into a lower tax bracket.  And if you run through all of your unemployment benefits, it will.  So there’s more to economic stimulus than meets the eye.  For to stimulate a government must borrow money.  Or print money.  Because all stimulus spending is deficit spending.

Keynesians say this deficit spending is not a problem.  Because once the stimulus turns the economy around there will be plenty of new tax revenues to pay back the money they borrowed.  But that rarely happens with a tax and spend government.  Because they like to spend.  As is evident by the ever increasing federal debt.  And when they get more tax revenue they spend that tax revenue.  On anything and everything you can possibly imagine under the sun.  Often times cutting defense spending to help pay for all that other spending.  Despite defense spending being one of the few things enumerated in the Constitution.

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LESSONS LEARNED #86: “Smug, all-knowing condescension camouflages a vacuous philosophical basis.” –Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 6th, 2011

Ronald Reagan had a B.A. in Economics, Served in the Army, was President of SAG and Served Two Terms as California Governor

The Left hated Ronald Reagan.  They belittled him.  Made snarky comments like ‘he’s just an actor’.  That he wasn’t smart enough to be president.  And not qualified.  For all he could do was give a good speech.  Because he was just an actor.

Yes, he was an actor.  But he did go to college.  Had a B.A. in economics and sociology.   Enlisted in the Army and served in the cavalry.  Earned a commission in the Reserve Officer Corps just before World War II.  Served stateside during World War II making training films for the army.  Severely nearsighted, the Army classified him for limited service only.  Which meant he couldn’t serve overseas.  He served 8 years as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).  During the height of the Red Scare.  Which cemented his anti-communist credentials.  (Yes, there were communists in Hollywood.  As well as in the FDR administration.)  Hosted General Electric Theater for 8 years.  He visited General Electric R&D facilities.  About 135.  Saw job creation up close during his tenure with GE.  Helping to hone his economic views.  He served two terms as California governor.  During the peak of the Vietnam anti-war protests.  When he gave his concession speak at the 1976 Republican Convention, delegates mumbled that they had nominated the wrong man (Gerald Ford).  At the age of 69, Reagan became president.  Despite snarky comments like ‘he’s too old to be president’.

So Reagan had the education.  And a long list of experience on his resume.  Experience that took him through some of the most defining moments of American history.  And spent 8 years as governor of the most populous state.  Eight years of solid executive experience.  So he was every bit qualified for office.  The people who attacked him just didn’t like his ideology.  And the fact that he was very good in elected office.  So they used smug, all-knowing condescension to belittle him.  And it worked well.  For they did not like Reagan on American college campuses.  Where kids parroted what they heard in the media.  And on their favorite shows.  But didn’t have an original thought in their heads.

Incidentally, Barack Obama got a B.S. in political science from Columbia.  And a law degree from Harvard.  He served 3 terms as Illinois state senator.  And 2/3 of a term as U.S. senator.  He had no military experience.  No executive experience.  And his only other experience was confined to academe.  Or law.  Yet those who said Ronald Reagan was not qualified to be president had no problem with Barack Obama.  Go figure.

George W. Bush had an M.B.A. from Harvard, served in the Texas ANG, ran businesses and served two terms as Texas Governor

But compared to George W. Bush, they held Ronald Reagan in great esteem.  For the Left just flat out called Bush an idiot.  And simply too stupid to be president.

For being stupid Bush was pretty well educated.  He had an B.A. in history from Yale.  A good thing for presidents to know.  History.  And he earned an M.B.A. from Harvard.  The only president to have one.  He served stateside in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam.  He then worked in the oil industry.  Started up some oil exploration companies.  Bush Exploration, for one.   This merged with Spectrum 7.  Where he served as chairman.  The oil glut of the Eighties hit that company hard.  It later merged with Harken Energy.   Where he served on the board.  He helped Dad run for president.  Bought a piece of the Texas Rangers after that.  Spent five years there as the managing general partner.  Built the value of the team so well that when he sold his chunk he got uber rich.  Then he served about one and a half terms as Texas governor.

This is the man the Left said was too stupid to be president.  This man who had an M.B.A. from Harvard.  One of the most pretentious Ivy League schools.  A man who worked in the energy industry.  And understood it.  Who knew how to run a business.  And did.  Even ran a Major League baseball team.  And had some 6 years of solid executive experience as the governor of the second most populous state.  So he, too, was every bit qualified for office.  The people who attacked him just didn’t like his ideology.  And the fact that he was very good in elected office.  And in the business world.  So they used smug, all-knowing condescension to belittle him.  And it worked well.  For they did not like Bush on American college campuses either.  Where kids parroted what they heard in the media.  And on their favorite shows.  But they didn’t have an original thought in their heads.  Some things just never change.

Incidentally, Barack Obama got a B.S. in political science from Columbia.  And a law degree from Harvard.  He served 3 terms as Illinois state senator.  And 2/3 of a term as U.S. senator.  He had no military experience.  No executive experience.  And his only other experience was confined to academe.  Or law.  Yet those who said George W. Bush was not qualified to be president had no problem with Barack Obama.  Go figure.

They make their Snarky Little Comments about the Greed of Corporations while Greedily Demanding more Government Benefits

And speaking of these college geniuses, you can hear a lot of them doing what they do best.  Whining.  They’re protesting up on Wall Street.  Cause they hate capitalism.  Because their tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt hasn’t given them a high paying job.  And because they hate capitalism you know they don’t have a business degree.  Or anything that can be used in the business world.  Further, if they don’t want to be a toady to corporate America, they probably don’t have a degree that would help them gain employment with a corporation.  Like a chemistry degree.  An engineering degree.  Or a physics degree.  No.  These would have been too corporate.  And possibly too harmful to the environment.  Not to mention hard.

These protestors are living the protest life of the Sixties.  Complete with free love.  And drugs.  Which, incidentally, is why they went to college.  Not to sit in some boring-ass lectures and take exams with math on them.  And that’s why they’re so angry.  Because during difficult economic times corporations don’t have the money to waste on wasteful degrees like women’s studies.  Art.  Poetry.  French.  Anthropology.  Or some other liberal art or social science.  No.  The only high paying job opportunities for these are in academe.  Or in government.  When they are flush with taxpayer cash.  Thanks to corporations providing real jobs for taxpayers.  But when there are no real jobs, there are no tax dollars to pay for these phony baloney jobs.

So they make their snarky little comments about the greed of corporations.  About the greed of the bankers.  About the greed of Republicans.  All the while they are greedily demanding more government benefits.  Paid for by the very people they are protesting against.  While enjoying the very things these greedy corporations have given them.  They are using wireless technology to live-tweet their latest list of whines.  All technology created by the very corporations they hate.  Produced under the system they want to purge from America.  Capitalism.

If it wasn’t for Capitalism they’d be Working in a Field Somewhere for Subsistence Right Now

Look at Apple.  And Steve Jobs.  Look at what he created.  And ask yourself this.  Why Steve Jobs and not someone in Cuba?  Someone in North Korea?  Someone in the former Soviet Union?  These are three hardcore socialist regimes these protestors admire.  Who have egalitarian systems of government.  Where there is fair-shared misery.  No one lives better than anyone else.  Except those within the party apparatchik.  Which these protestors naturally assume they would be part of.  Once America became fair.  And they stripped the rich of all their wealth.  For the benefit of mankind.  And by mankind I mean these protestors.

Cuba even has a national health care system that is so impressive that Michael Moore made a movie about it.  While condemning the inferior American system.  Cuba is great.  They care about their people there.  So much so that they don’t let them leave.  For fear of the substandard love they’ll get in another nation.  Still some of these fools try to escape their utopia.  By crossing shark-infested water in some of the most unseaworthy boats.  To get to Florida.  In the USA.  To the country that the Wall Street protestors say is worse than Cuba.  If only they had iPhones in Cuba they could get their live-tweet feed from Wall Street so they would know that things are better there.  So they can stay there.  In their utopia.

Of course, it’s not better there.  And Steve Jobs wasn’t a Cuban.  He wasn’t a North Korean.  He wasn’t a Soviet.  He was an American.  An entrepreneur.  And a capitalist.  Who made Apple a rich corporation by giving us things we can’t live without.  Things we never asked for.  Things we didn’t even know about.  Until after he created them.  And he told us how cool they were.

They can make snarky, all-knowing, condescending remarks all day long about corporate greed and the evil of capitalism.  But if it wasn’t for capitalism they’d be working in a field somewhere for subsistence right now.  And the fact that they don’t know this shows how empty headed and brainwashed they are.  And what a piss-poor job our public schools and colleges are doing.

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LESSONS LEARNED #25: “War is costly. Peace, too.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2010

AT THE HEIGHT of the Roman Empire, the empire reached from North Africa to Britannia (England), from Hispania (Spain) to Mesopotamia (approximately modern day Iraq).  When Roman power ruled the civilized world, there was peace.  The Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The Romans built empire through conquest.  And Rome grew rich with the spoils of conquest.  For awhile, peace was only those quiet intervals between growth and conquest.  But with secure borders, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  For some 200 years.

Life was good for the Roman citizen.  As well as for those living in the empire.  The Romans modernized the provinces they conquered.  Made life better.  Even for the conquered people.  Although there were those who hated being subjugated by a foreign power.

Reg: They bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us! From our fathers, and from our father’s fathers.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah, all right Stan, don’t belabor the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct?

Reg: What?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah, they did give us that, ah, that’s true, yeah.

Revolutionary II: And the sanitation.

Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: Yeah, all right, I’ll grant you the aqueduct and sanitation, the two things the Romans have done.

Matthias: And the roads.

Reg: Oh, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads…

Revolutionary III: Irrigation.

Revolutionary I: Medicine.

Revolutionary IV: Education.

Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.

Revolutionary V: And the wine.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Oh, yeah! Right!

Rogers: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

Revolutionary VI: Public bathes.

Loretta: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

Rogers: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Hahaha…all right…

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Revolutionary I: Brought peace?

Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up!

(From Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, 1979.)

Maintaining a peaceful empire is costly.  As people got more accustomed to peace and plenty, they began to complain about taxes.  Citizens refused to volunteer to serve in the Roman Legions maintaining that peace.  Barbarians began to serve in the Legions.  Some rose to command them.  Some Roman commanders came from the very people they were fighting in the border regions.  Soon Rome would rely on mercenaries (hired soldiers) to defend their borders.  All of this cost the empire.  It had to pay more and more to maintain the loyalty of the military.  Ditto for the huge bureaucracy administrating the empire.  And they lost control.  Trouble on the borders and economic collapse ended the peace.  And, ultimately, the empire.  The civilized world broke down and collapsed.  And barbarian leaders on the borders, hungry for conquest, attacked.  Plunging the former Roman provinces into war and instability.

RISING FROM THE ashes of the Roman Empire were the seeds of new empires.  And the ground that proved most fertile was the northern limit of the old empire.  England.

England started to assert herself with the growth of her navy.  With her borders secured, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  Again.  For about a hundred years.  During the Industrial Revolution.  After the defeat of Napoleon. 

Imperial Britain stretched across the globe.  The sun never set on the British Empire.  And wherever she went, she brought the rule of law, modernity, a sound economy and political stability.  Her old colonial possessions went on to be some of the richest, most prosperous and peaceful nations in the world.  India.  Australia.  New Zealand.  South Africa.  Canada.  And, of course, the United States of America.  She achieved her century of peace (Pax Britannia) by a balance of power.  She maintained peace by intervening in disputes, often on the side of the weaker nation.  She prevented stronger, aggressive nations from threatening her weaker neighbors.   And she provided a safe environment for the weaker nation to live peacefully in the shadows of stronger, more aggressive neighbors.

For a hundred years Britannia kept the peace.  In large part due to her Royal Navy, the most powerful and potent navy at the time.  If you ate any imported food or used any imported goods, it was thanks to the Royal Navy that kept the world’s sea lanes safe.  But this peace came with a price.  The rise of nationalism, the quest of new empires to establish their own overseas colonies and a change in the balance of power in Europe with the rise of Germany added to that price.  And then a shot fired in Sarajevo by a Serbian terrorist ignited a tinderbox.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip started World War I.  The most bloody and expensive war at the time, it bankrupted Great Britain and ended her empire.  And left the world a less safe place. 

From the ashes of World War I rose new leaders with aspirations of world conquest.  Fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini.  Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler.  Communist Russia led by Joseph Stalin.  Imperial Japan led by Hideki Tojo.  And the nation that led the victors in World War II would, by default, become the new world power.  The new world policeman.  The United States of America.

SO WHAT HAPPENED during the inter-war years that led to World War II?  War exhausted Britain and France.  Neither had the stomach for another war.  Britain continued to rely on the Royal Navy for protection (as an island nation, sea power is indispensable).  France built fixed fortifications (the Maginot Line).  Both were primarily defensive strategies. 

In America, General Billy Mitchell demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships to air power by sinking a battleship with an airplane (greatly flustering the naval high command).  Colonel George S. Patton developed an armored doctrine for an unenthused army and eventually transferred back to the horse cavalry.  Meanwhile, Imperial Japan was building aircraft carriers.  And Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Communist Russia developed air and armored doctrine while fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Fascist Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1935 to rebuild the Roman Empire and make the Mediterranean Sea a Roman lake once again.  Nazi Germany launched World War II in 1939 by an armored assault on Poland with tactical air support.  Poland resisted with horse cavalry.  And lost.  Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 to destroy American naval power in the Pacific.  They did a lot of damage.  But the American carriers, their prime objective, were at sea.  They would eventually meet those carriers later at the Battle of Midway.  Where they would lose four of their best carriers and many of their best aviators.  This tipped the balance of power in the Pacific to the Americans.

America was ill-prepared for war.  But American industry, the Arsenal of Democracy, ramped up and built the planes, tanks, guns, rifles and ships that would win the war.   It would come with a heavy price tag.  Global wars typically do.  Had there been a balance of power that would have checked the territorial ambitions of the aggressor nations, it would have been a different story.  Of course, having the power is one thing.  How you use it is another. 

France had more tanks than Germany before the outbreak of hostilities.  But the Nazis quickly overran France.  Why?  Doctrine.  France’s doctrine was to hide behind the security of the Maginot Line.  It was a defensive-only strategy.  She developed no armored doctrine.  The lesson they learned from World War I was that armies killed themselves attacking fixed defenses.  Germany, too, learned that lesson.  So their doctrine called for going around fixed defenses with fast-moving armor spearheads with tactical air support (i.e., blitzkrieg).  Formidable though the Maginot Line was, it could not attack.  And if the Nazis didn’t attack it, it did nothing but concentrate men and firepower away from the battle.

WHEN WE PULLED out of South Vietnam, we agreed to use American air power if North Vietnam violated the terms of the treaty ending that war.  Watergate changed all of that.  Even though JFK got us into Vietnam, it became Nixon’s war.  And a vindictive Congress wouldn’t have anything more to do with it.  The North tested the American will.  Saw that there was none.   Attacked.  And overran South Vietnam.  The message was clear to tyrants.  America will quit in the long run.  Especially after a large loss of life.

Other ‘retreats’ would reinforce this perception.  Especially in the Arab world.  The withdrawal from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marines’ barracks.  The withdrawal from Somalia after the Somalis dragged dead American troops through the streets of Mogadishu.  The Arab world even saw the victory in Desert Storm as a retreat.  The anti-American Arab world said that our invasion was about oil.  That what we really wanted was to topple Saddam Hussein and take his oil.  It was just another Christian Crusade into holy Islamic lands.  When we didn’t do that, the Arab world saw it as another American retreat.  That America didn’t have the will to endure a bloody battle to conquer Iraq. 

So some in the Arab world would test America.  Al Qaeda.  Headed by Osama bin Laden.  They started small and became more daring.  World Trade Center bombing.  Tanzanian Embassy bombing.  Kenyan Embassy bombing.  Khobar Towers bombing.  The USS Cole attack.  And they paid little for these attacks.  America didn’t fight back.  But their luck ran out on September 11, 2001.  Because America finally fought back.

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER one, Osama bin Laden, belonged to the conservative Sunni sect of Islam called Wahhabi.  They have a large following in Saudi Arabia.  The Wahhabi have a delicate relationship with the Saudi Royal family.  They disapprove of the Western displays of wealth in the House of Saud. 

Al-Qaeda was a shadowy enemy.  We confronted them in the mountains of Afghanistan where the Taliban gave them a safe sanctuary.  We attacked.  Knocked the Taliban from power.  Drove al-Qaeda underground.  But we could not stop their funding.

Wahhabi money from Saudi Arabia financed 9/11.  And the money continued to flow.  The Saudis would not intervene on behalf of America.  They feared any crackdown on the Wahhabi could unleash a civil war.  So America needed leverage to get Saudi cooperation.  And they found it in an old nemesis, Saddam Hussein. 

A Sunni minority ruled Iraq.  The Saudis did not like Saddam Hussein.  However, they liked the balance of power he offered to Iran.  Iran was Shiite.  As much as the Saudis did not like Saddam, they disliked Shiite Iran more.  This was the American lever.

After some diplomatic gymnastics, the invasion of Iraq was set.  The Saudis thought we were bluffing.  They didn’t believe we would invade Iraq.  Never in a million years.  If we didn’t do it in Desert Storm when we had the force in place to do it and didn’t, there was no way the Americans would amass another coalition and redeploy forces to the region again.  Especially because America doesn’t like long, drawn out, bloody wars.  Which an invasion of Iraq would surely be.

They asked us to remove our forces from the Saudi bases.  We did.  Now they were getting nervous.  That was the political game.  Make some noise to show the Arab world you weren’t an American toady.  But, secretly, you want those American forces to remain.  That American presence did provide security.  And stability.  After the invasion of Kuwait, it sure looked like Saudi Arabia would be next.  It was only that large American force in the desert that changed that inevitability. 

The Americans invaded.  And conquered.  Now the Saudis had a vested interest in helping the Americans.  They needed them to be successful in Iraq.  To contain Iran.  The lever worked.  The Saudis stemmed the flow of Wahhabi money to al-Qaeda.  The invasion of Iraq proved to be one of the most effective battles in the war on terrorism.  

HISTORY HAS SHOWN that a balance of power can lead to peace.  It has also shown that a superpower can enforce a larger peace.  But it also has shown that there is good and bad when it comes to power.  The Romans could be cruel, but so were most in that time.  The road to empire, after all, started out simply as a quest to provide a buffer between Rome and the hostile barbarians on her borders.  Rome, then, expanded in pursuit of peace.  (Initially, at least.)  And then used her power to maintain peace.

Many view Great Britain as the successor to the Roman Empire.  And many view America as the successor to the British Empire.  These powers share many things (rule of law, an advanced civilization, political stability, etc.).  Perhaps the greatest, though, is a powerful military.  And how it was/is used.  As a powerful deterrent to an aggressor nation.  To protect trade routes.  To maintain peace.  Malign these empires/nations all you will, but the greatest periods of world peace were due to their military power.  And their will to use that military power.  Expensive as that was.  Is.

So, yes, wars are costly.  Peace, too.  Sometimes, though, we must fight wars.  But we can avoid a lot of them.  By a peace-time military force that acts as a deterrent.  Because there are bad guys out there.  Who only respect one thing.  And it isn’t diplomacy.  Often the only thing preventing them from waging a cruel war of conquest is a potent military and a willing leader to use it.  If a tyrant knows he will face a military consequence for acting, he may not act.  When he knows that consequence will be devastating, he will not act.  But if he knows a nation hasn’t the military power or the will to use military power, he will act.  Just as Hitler did.  As Mussolini did.  As Tojo did.  And as Osama bin Laden did.

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