FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #64: “National security can be a messy business. Especially when your enemies don’t play by the same rules.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 4th, 2011

Adolescent Boys Lie to get what they Want

“But I do love you,” he said.

“Do you really?” she said.

“Oh, baby, I do.  I really, really love you,” he said.

“That’s good because I really, really love you,” she said.  “Do you have any condoms?”

“No,” he said.  “But what do condoms matter when we’re in love?  Especially when that love will be forever?”

“Oh, baby, I love you so much,” she said.  “My parents just don’t understand.  They’re just so out of it.  They don’t understand love.  True love.  Like what we have.” 

A month later she found herself pregnant.  Had gonorrhea.  And her best friend coincidentally had gonorrhea, too.  And her ‘forever’ love?  Gone.  Not ‘gone’ gone.  But gone as in not there with her.  There’ll be a trickle of child support.  But she will raise her baby with the help of her ‘out of it’ parents.  Proving what liars boys are when it comes to love.

The preceding was a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone past or present is purely coincidental.  The moral of this story?  Boys lie to get what they want.  Often with a total lack of concern for the potential consequences. 

Hitler Lied to get what he Wanted

But it’s just not young men with raging hormones that lie.  Others lie for far more sinister reasons.  Adolf Hitler lied when he said that the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia was his last territorial claim.  And Neville Chamberlain believed him.  Said he and Adolf Hitler reached an agreement.  He had a piece of paper.  And Hitler’s word.  A solid piece of diplomacy.  Of course, anyone looking at a map could see East Prussia lying on the far side of the Danzig Corridor.  East Prussia was German territory.  But Germans traveling on land to and from there had to cross Polish territory.  And with German-Polish history being what it was, there was no way that this was going to end well for Poland.  Especially after Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  And signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union.  The Nazis had Poland surrounded.  But the Sudetenland was his last territorial claim.  Honest.

Yeah, well, he lied.  For it was in Poland that Heinz Guderian introduced the world to blitzkrieg.  The original shock and awe.  Airpower cleared the way for armor assaults which cleared the way for mechanized infantry.  It was fast.  Guderian’s columns advanced deep into Polish territory like a hot knife through butter.  All the while the Soviets protected the back door.  Who agreed to split up Poland with the Nazis.  So the Soviet Union was complicit in starting World War II.  Chamberlain was stunned.  As Stalin would be later when Hitler reneged on their agreement, too.  And unleashed blitzkrieg on the Soviet Union.  Proving what a big liar Adolf Hitler was.

The preceding was actual history.  Any resemblance to anyone past or present was purely intentional.  The moral of this story?  People lie to get what they want.  Often with a total lack of concern for the potential consequences. 

Communists Lie to Oppress their own People

The communists are a sneaky bunch.  The ultimate pragmatists.  The ends justify the means.  They’ll lie, steal and cheat to get whatever they want.  Even make a deal with Adolf Hitler.  Even though Nazis and Bolshevists were bitter enemies.  Not so much in a philosophical sense as they were in practice very similar.  But in a political sense.  Before Hitler secured his power there were Bolshevists vying for that power in Germany.  So Hitler checked the spread of the Bolshevist Revolution in Germany by blaming them for some of the crimes he committed.  Like the Reichstag Fire.  So there was little love between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  But Stalin couldn’t pass up all that Polish territory.  Or getting the Baltic States back.  Hitler knew how to sweet-talk Stalin.  Offered him exactly what he wanted.  Just like a boy with raging hormones will sweet-talk a girl to get what he wants.  Blinded for the moment by lust.  The boy blinded by his sexual lust.  Stalin blinded by his power lust.

Like the Nazis, the communists had a closed society.  There was no free press.  Instead, they used propaganda.  They lied to their people.  And their school children.  Rewrote history.  Soviet children grew up believing that the Western life was horrible.  Decadent.  And hungry.  The propaganda machine reported the great success of the latest 5-year plan while talking about abject poverty and famine in the West.  Also, that the West were war mongers.  Trying to spread their brutal imperialism against peaceful communist countries everywhere.  Of course, the Soviet people couldn’t see for themselves.  They couldn’t leave the USSR.  They couldn’t watch Western television.  Or read Western newspapers.  So they had little reason not to believe the lies.

But communism didn’t bring out the best in people.  In a society where everyone was ‘equal’, no one worked harder than the next guy.  So Soviet society lagged Western society.  And the only way they could advance Soviet society was through espionage.  They stole what they could from the West.  With a vast network of spies.  Working outside the Soviet Union.  Which presented a bit of a problem.  These spies saw the truth.  And that everything they learned in the Soviet school system, on Soviet television and in the Soviet newspapers were all lies.  The Soviets lost quite a lot of spies who defected to a better life in the West.  So the Soviets had to fix that problem.  By bribing the spies with a life of luxury far greater than the average Soviet ever could imagine.  Or holding family members hostage.

Cheaters Prosper unless others Cheat, Too

Putting all of this together and you can see how they complicate diplomacy.  And national security.  First of all, people lie.  As do governments.  To their own people.  And to other nations.  Which can make getting the truth a little more difficult.  Or telling the truth to your people.  In the Vietnam War, for example, the Soviets were supporting and supplying the North Vietnamese.  A lot of that war material made it to South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Which wound through Laos and Cambodia.  Countries we were not at war with.  They were ‘neutral’.  But our enemies violated their neutrality.  They brought war material through these neutral countries into South Vietnam where they used them to kill both civilian and military personnel in South Vietnam.  And Americans.  So what do you do?  Ignore this?  Let the enemy bring in war material unmolested via the Ho Chi Minh trail?  Or do you try to stop it?

Well, the Soviets used the West’s adherence to international law against them.  The Soviets, on the other hand, violated this law and lied that they were not.  But the Americans just couldn’t do this.  At least, they couldn’t do it officially.  To protect American security interests (our South Vietnamese allies and our troops in South Vietnam), America had to cheat, then.  A little.  We call them black operations (i.e., black ops).  Unofficial missions.  Missions that ‘never happened’.  Where Special Forces, CIA forces or even small units of the regular military (sometimes unknown to them) violate neutral territory to combat our enemies who were themselves violating these neutral territories.  Of course, when these missions became public, the media had a field day.  Protests erupted on college campuses.  Providing great aid and comfort to America’s enemies.  And ultimately to the abandonment of South Vietnam.  And if you’re wondering how all that turned out just look at a map today.  Where there is no South Vietnam.

American football is an exciting game to watch.  Primarily because each team plays by the same rules.  If one team could cheat no one would watch.   Because everyone would know that the cheater would win.  So they enforce the rules.  But you can’t do that in international diplomacy.  Because the international referee (i.e., the UN) is impotent.  They can’t stop cheaters.  So cheaters prosper.  Unless others cheat, too.  As in the world of black ops.  Where only cheating can keep the game fair.

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No Love Dividend Yet from the Apology Tour

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 4th, 2010

Add One Part Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter tried detente.  Make nice to our enemies.  Alienate our allies.  He pointed out the human rights abuses our allies made in their fight against communism.  But he said little about our Cold War foe who raised the bar on human rights abuses.  The plan was to love our enemy.  And they would love us.  How did it work?  During the Carter presidency, the Soviet Union introduced a nuclear first-strike doctrine.  Because they were sure their missiles would land before Carter would ever launch ours.  The Soviets, for the first time since the days of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), were planning to win a nuclear war.

Obama said the Arab/Muslim world hated us because of George W. Bush’s overt hostile rhetoric/actions against them.  He would talk to the president of Iran.  He would engage in diplomacy.  He would change the way the Arab/Muslim world felt about America.  And how is that going?  Not good.  Iran has a nuclear reactor about to go on line, taking them one step closer to becoming a nuclear power.  And now Syria and Iran are cozying up with each other.  A united stand against Israel.  And the United States.  And the thanks Obama got for all his nicey nice?  They dissed him.  They said any attempts at an Israeli-Palestinian peace were only a desperate attempt to boost Obama’s poll numbers.  See Reuters’ Syria’s Assad rebuffs Washington by courting Iran by Robin Pomeroy.

It would appear that the lessons of Carter’s economic policies are not the only lessons Obama ignored.  Our enemies don’t like us.  Really.

Add One Part Richard Nixon

When the Vietnam War expanded into neutral Cambodia, all hell broke out.  On the college campuses.  Four died at Kent State.  And an unpopular war grew ever more unpopular.  But Nixon was playing to win.  The Ho Chi Minh Trail fed the insurgency in the south.  And the jumping off point was in Cambodia.  Where LBJ tried to limit the war Nixon tried to win it.  Nixon would ultimately get a peace treaty in Vietnam.  Backed by the might and will of America.  But Nixon was by then so hated that he would be undone by his own paranoia.  Watergate would throw him out of office.  With him went the might and will promised to South Vietnam.  And soon there was no longer a South Vietnam.

Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan.  Our ally.  The ‘Cambodia’ of that conflict.  And he’s stepping things up.  (See the Wall Street Journal’s CIA Escalates in Pakistan by Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman.)  The similarities are striking.  But there’s no unrest on our college campuses.  No concerted media attack by the 3 major networks.  And yet included in the Obama administration is Hilary Clinton.  She participated in the impeachment of Richard Nixon.  Over in the Senate, John Kerry, the Vietnam War protester, is saying that you have to attack these sanctuaries.  My, how time changes some.  Or the political expediency of the moment.  Nixon’s Cambodian intrusion – bad.  Obama’s Pakistan intrusion – good.  So I guess the lesson here is that if you want to run covert military operations on the wrong side of the border, you better be a Democrat.

The anti-war people in the Democrat Party are fuming over this war doctrine.  This is something that they’d expect George W. Bush to do.  Not their guy of hope and change.  Will Obama try to appease the Left?  Give up on Afghanistan?  Like the Left did on South Vietnam?  Let’s hope not.  Politics is politics.  But Americans shouldn’t die in vain.

Add One Part LBJ

LBJ didn’t want to be the first American president to lose a war.  So he tried.  But with far too many rules of engagement.  For he was trying to win the hearts and minds of the world.  The American people, our allies in Southeast Asia and even our enemies (who were trying to kill us and our allies).  And look where it got him.

LBJ wanted it all.  He wanted to win the war in Vietnam.  And the wars against poverty and racism.  But his policies made Vietnam a quagmire.  There were race riots in the United States.  And his domestic agenda exploded government spending, causing runaway inflation in the 1970s and recession.  We call it stagflation.  It gave Carter a single term.  And he’s still bitter about that to this day.

Johnson was a big liberal.  Obama is a big liberal.  Johnson had an unpopular war.  Obama has an unpopular war.  Johnson had an aggressive domestic agenda.  Obama has an aggressive agenda.  Johnson’s Great Society programs have been abject failures (we are still fighting poverty and racism today.  And we’re still paying the hefty tab on those failed programs).  Wonder what history will say of Obama.

Mix Together for One Obama

On foreign policy, Obama came in young, inexperienced and naive.  Some would even say inept.  His apology tour hasn’t changed the hate.  Our enemies still hate us.  Go figure.  Now Iran will soon have nuclear weapons.  And the world will be less safe.  If you’re nostalgic for Jimmy Carter, here’s your chance to relive those dangerous days.

Afghanistan was the ‘good’ war.  But the Left doesn’t have ‘good’ wars.  They want out.  And Obama is trying.  He even is going Nixon.  Attacking the enemy’s safe havens.  Attack a neutral country?  Hell, I’ll attack an ally.  It’s the right military call but will the Left ever forgive him?  I guess time will tell.  As will the college campuses.

LBJ wanted to give everyone everything they wanted.  Yet they still rioted.  And it hurt.  LBJ could not understand.  Nor could he forgive.  At the end of his first full term he had had enough.  He lost Walter Cronkite.  He lost the American people.  So he said goodbye.  And the hated man faded away.  Obama has had an aggressive domestic agenda.  He gave away a lot of free stuff.  But the people who have to pay for that generosity are not amused.  And the polls show that the Democrats in Congress will ultimately pay for Obama’s generosity.  A lot of them may be looking for a new job.

But it’s not all bad for Obama.  There are some who endorse his Cap and Trade policy initiative.  Some believe in the dangers of global warming.  Osama bin Laden all but said so in one of his latest broadcasts (see Reuters’ UPDATE 1-Bin Laden criticises Pakistan relief mission by Martina Fuchs and Tamara Walid.)  So, the American people may be turning away from him, but some of our enemies still support some of his agenda.

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LESSONS LEARNED #16: “The military part of the military has been a success story. The Big Government part of the military has not.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 3rd, 2010

BIG GOVERNMENT DID NOT create the greatest military power of all time.  It’s not a top down success story.  It’s a bottom up success story.  You win wars by winning battles.  And you win battles with a rifle in your hands.  Those who matter don’t hear the clash of arms from afar.  They hear it from within the battle itself.

The successes of the military are due to the people who fight the battles.  They are not due to governmental bureaucrats.  In fact, you can say the fighting people achieve success despite the governmental bureaucrats.  I can give you a list of esteemed military personnel that would agree with me.  Here’s an abbreviated list:  George Washington and Robert E. Lee.   Of course, you can’t ask either of them because they’re dead.  But the history speaks for itself.  Their most difficult enemies were the politicians.  And the ones on their side.  Not the enemies’.

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR was a lot like the Vietnam War, only without the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Both had the mightiest military power in the world taking on a military lightweight.  Therefore, both used Fabian tactics.  Like Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus, the underdog avoided major engagements with the enemy.  (Excluding the Tet Offensive, of course, which was very un-Fabian-like.)  Theirs was not to win.  No, theirs was not to lose.  For he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. 

But the big difference between these wars was supply.  The Viet Cong and the NVA had the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  No matter how many of them you killed or how many of their supplies you destroyed, more just kept coming down that trail.  George Washington and his ragtag armies, on the other hand, were, well, ragtag.  Plead as he might for supplies the Continental Congress delivered little.  Including pay.  His armies were chronically under-supplied, under-fed and under-paid.  But still they carried on. 

When they took winter quarters in December 1777 on the barren hills on the west side of the Schuylkill River in eastern Pennsylvania, they had not received any supplies from the Quarter Master General since the previous July.  Now the winter at Valley Forge was not the coldest during the War, but it was cold.  Especially if you were barefoot and half naked.  And this was the condition of the average soldier.  While the British quartered themselves in the warm houses of Philadelphia and enjoyed the comforts of regular meals and warm beds, the Americans left trails of blood in the snow from their bloody, bare feet.  They slept by fire for warmth.  Shirts as well as blankets were lacking.  And there was a lack of food, for man and animal.  Hundreds of horses starved to death that winter.

But the British did well that winter.  Why?  Why did they have food, drink, clothing, blankets and forage for their horses?  Because not everyone felt the Spirit of ’76 as earnestly as others.  Thomas Paine, just before the Battle of Trenton a year earlier (at perhaps the low point of morale in the Army) wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”  There were no summer soldiers or sunshine patriots at Valley Forge.  They were in warm houses.  Well fed.  And making money.  From the War.  There were supplies, yes, but there were more profitable markets than Washington’s armies.

So while graft and speculation made some rich, the Army suffered at Valley Forge.  The Continental Congress did little for them.  The states did little for them.  They suffered that ordeal alone.  Together.  And they became better soldiers.  Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter of introduction for a Prussian captain, Baron Friedrich von Steuben.  He came with exaggerated credentials.  Franklin said he was a general under Frederick the Great even though he was only a staff officer.  And an unemployed staff officer at that.  But he knew how to make and drill an army.  And he did.  Washington held the Army together.  The men persevered.  And the army that emerged from Valley Forge could face any European army on the field of battle.  And they fought on.  And about 4 years later, General Cornwallis would surrender at Yorktown.

THE UNITED STATES offered the command of the Union Army in the American Civil War to General Robert E. Lee.  He declined.  He could not raise his sword against his own country.  Virginia.  So he would fight on the Confederate side in what they called the War of Northern Aggression.

There is an interesting exchange in the movie Gone with the Wind before war breaks out.  Rhett Butler is discussing the South’s prospects with his fellow southern gentlemen. 

RHETT BUTLER: I think it’s hard winning a war with words, gentlemen.
CHARLES: What do you mean, sir?
RHETT BUTLER: I mean, Mr. Hamilton, there’s not a cannon factory in the whole South.
MAN: What difference does that make, sir, to a gentleman?
RHETT BUTLER: I’m afraid it’s going to make a great deal of difference to a great many
gentlemen, sir.
CHARLES: Are you hinting, Mr. Butler, that the Yankees can lick us?
RHETT BUTLER: No, I’m not hinting. I’m saying very plainly that the Yankees
are better equipped than we. They’ve got factories, shipyards, coal mines…and a fleet to bottle up our harbors and starve us to death. All we’ve got is cotton, and slaves and…arrogance.

No.  The South’s prospects were not very encouraging.  And the North’s advantages would make up for her failings.  In time.

The American Civil War was not a war of Fabian tactics.  The First Battle of Bull Run (or the First Battle of Manassas as the Confederates called it) was a shock.  Casualties (killed, wounded and lost) were high.  About 4,800 in total.  No one had anticipated such carnage.  If that wasn’t enough to sober them up, then came Shiloh in the West.  This 2-day battle claimed about 23,750 casualties.  This exceeded the total of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War combined.  By the time the Civil War was over, casualties would top 1,000,000.  Over 600,000 Americans would eventually die.  Including a president.

Why such high casualties?  A couple of reasons.  This was one of the first wars benefitting from the Industrial Revolution.  Better and more powerful weapons created more powerful armies.  And a network of railroads brought them efficiently to the battlefield.  Unfortunately, these armies still employed Napoleonic tactics.  Mass in formation, fire and charge with bayonets.  Rifled barrels, though, replaced smoothbore muskets.  This tripled the effective range of an infantryman’s weapon.  Improved cannon, like the Parrot gun, made cannon fire more devastating.  So, while they stood en masse and fired, and marched forward with bayonet, they faced a withering, accurate fire.  Before the Battle of Cold Harbor, life expectancy in battle was such that soldiers sewed their name inside their jackets.  Why?  They wanted their fallen bodies identified and sent home for burial.

Another reason for the high casualties?  Two of the best armies in the world were fighting each other.  American was killing American.  In the beginning, the Confederates had the edge.  Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson were displaying by far the greater competence in battle.  But that was in the east.  In the west, Generals Grant and Sherman advanced along the Mississippi River with dogged determination.

At the Battle of Chancellorsville, though, Stonewall Jackson would fall from friendly fire as he reconnoitered the front.  He lost his left arm.  Lee would lament that Jackson may have lost his left arm, but he had lost his right.  Jackson would subsequently die from complications of pneumonia 8 days later.  A couple of months from that, Lee would be in Gettysburg, the ‘high water mark’ of the Confederacy.  And after 3 days of battle, he would lead his defeated army back across the Potomac.  Meanwhile, in the west, Grant had just taken Vicksburg and, as a result, control of the Mississippi river.

Lee’s foray into Pennsylvania may have not been a wise move.  It was only the second time a Confederate army invaded the North (the last resulted in the bloodiest single day of the war – Antietam).  Battle in the north favored the North.  Shorter lines of communications.  Better network of railroads.  Coal mines.  Factories.  It was a bold plan.  But a poorly executed plan.  The armies came into contact, after all, because barefoot Confederate soldiers looking for shoes came into contact with dismounted Union cavalry.  That’s what was in Gettysburg.  Shoes.  That, and one big-ass road intersection that brought all those armies together.

Lee’s forces started the Battle of Gettysburg prematurely because of singular defect in the South.  Supply.  Lee faced the same problems Washington did.  The Confederate Army was superior to the Union Army at many times.  They often outgeneraled the North.  And often outfought the North.  But they took heavy losses.  As did the North.  But, as Rhett Butler pointed out, the North was in a position to replace their losses.  The South simply was not.  It became a war of attrition.  And the north simply outlasted the South.  And had the time to become a superior army. 

The problem was the very thing they were fighting for.  States’ rights.  The north was able to wage total war.  The South, try as they might, could not.  States had some warehouses full of material, but a state allotted its material stores for its own regiments.  A state may have had a surplus of shoes, but they held them for their own soldiers while others went barefoot.

The southern soldier suffered beyond human endurance.  Days would go by without food or provision.  Some would pick up horse droppings and pick out undigested kernels to eat.  When they broke out of the siege around Richmond/Petersburg, they marched for days to promised provisions.  When they reached the rail cars, they opened them to find unneeded equipment.  Not food.  But they still fought on, emaciated as they were.  Until they found themselves surrounded near Appomattox Courthouse.  When faced with the choice of surrender or guerrilla warfare, Lee chose surrender.  He saw one country destroyed.  He did not wish to see another.

WASHINGTON DID PREVAIL in the end.  Despite his government.  Lee did not.  In part because of his government.  All the while the soldier in the fight persevered through great privations.  But never gave up.  They fought, and died, together.  For God.  For country.  And for each other.  All the while, no doubt, cursing their respective governments.

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