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A senior US general expains that we’re learning to fight 4GWs, but slowly

20 August 2014

Summary: We’ve slowed the intensity of our efforts in the Long War, following failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. So the momentum shifts to our foes, as the fires we’ve sparked across the Middle East spread. Success in the next phase depends on what our military leaders have learned from their failures. Today a senior general gives a demonstration.

I’ve killed them by the tens of thousands, scoured their countryside at will, pried their allies away, and humiliated them day after day. I have burned their crops and looted their wealth. I’ve sent a whole generation of their generals into the afterworld … Have I changed nothing? They are stronger now than before. They are more than before. They fight more sensibly than before. They win when they used to lose.
— Hannibal, in David Anthony Durham’s novel Pride of Carthage (2005)

{From the start the insurgents} made a decision to attack our tactical mobility … and they’ve chosen the IED as the way to do that.  This is the first war where we’ve faced an enemy that’s adapted better than we have at a tactical and operational level. We had IEDs from Day 1. … What have we done to adapt? Nothing.
— Anthony Zinni (General, USMC, retired; former chief of the U.S. Central Command), quoted in USA Today, 15 July 2007

From Encyclopedia Mythica

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Contents

  1. What have our generals learned after 14 years of 4th Generation War?
  2. We still crank the Darwinian Ratchet, empowering our foes
  3. Why our strategy fails
  4. For More Information

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(1)  What have our generals learned after 14 years of 4GW?

Interview by Breaking Defense with Michael Flynn (Lt. General, US Army), retiring chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency. See his Wikipedia entry.  He shows what might be the defining characteristics of senior US military thinking in our Long War: blindness about the effects of our actions and obliviousness about the intents of jihadist groups.

I know that’s a scary thought, but in 2004, there were 21 total Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 18 countries. Today, there are 41 Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 24 countries. A lot of these groups have the intention to attack Western interests, to include Western embassies and in some cases Western countries. Some have both the intention and some capability to attack the United States homeland.

The general’s analysis has the sophistication of a boy explaining how the cookie jar “just broke”.

In 2000 the Middle East was relatively calm. There was, as there has been since WW2, turmoil about Israel. The Iraq-Iran War was over. The Taliban had brought peace to Afghanistan. There was persistent low-lever conflict in Lebanon, and small attacks on US personnel based in Saudi Arabia (1995 & 1996). The general does not mention what happened in the years before 2004 to set the region afire.  We invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, toppling a row of dominoes that’s still falling.

What makes this quite sad is the US military’s blindness to their role as useful idiots in bin Laden’s plan to incite a war between Islam and the infidel invader (that’s us) that would unify his people — as Bismarck used wars to unify small States to create Germany. We took the bait: invading Iraq and Afghanistan, attacking Pakistan, Yemen and now others in Africa.

(2) We still crank the Darwinian Ratchet, empowering our foes

Read more…

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Events from Ferguson explain why we are weak

19 August 2014

Summary: Events in Ferguson display some of the problems plaguing the Republic — our unresolved racial conflicts, sclerotic governing institutions, and most importantly our weakness as citizens. Decades of propaganda have erased from our minds our history of successful collective action, and replaced it with a mostly false belief in markets and individuals. It’s left us as atomized consumers, incapable of effectively becoming leaders and followers and so governing ourselves. It makes us sheep. We can do better.

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
— Edmund Burke (English statesman and philosopher), Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770)

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Ferguson: molotov cocktail.

Citizenship in Ferguson. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Contents

  1. Tinderbox: a racially charged community
  2. Poor leadership
  3. Why we’re weak
  4. Other posts about events in Ferguson
  5. For More Information

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(1)  Tinderbox: a racially charged community

Slowly we gather information so as to piece together some of the puzzle that is Ferguson MO.

(a)  Racial mistrust

Note the common mention of “outside agitators”, although there’s no evidence of this as yet (update: the police have given evidence if at least a small number of outsiders arrested).

“The protesters like seeing themselves on TV,” her friend added.  “It’s just a small group of people making trouble,” said another.

“The kid wasn’t really innocent,” chimed in a woman at the other end of the table (they all declined to give their names). “He was struggling with the cop, and he’s got a rap sheet already, so he’s not that innocent.” (While the first point is in dispute, the second isn’t: The police have said that Michael Brown had no criminal record.)

If anything, the people here were disdainful and, mostly, scared — of the protesters, and, implicitly, of black people. “I don’t think it’s about justice for Michael Brown’s family,” said the teenage boy. “It’s just an excuse for people to do whatever they want to do.”

One man I talked to, a stay-at-home dad who is a landlord to three black tenants and one white one in Ferguson (“my black tenants would never do that,” he clarified) was more sympathetic to Brown and also had the sense that the police had overdone it a bit. But he was scared of the protests. I told him that the protest that day was entirely peaceful, festive almost. “You know,” he said. “I have a wife and three children, and if something were to happen to me, that would be very bad.”

As for the protests, well, they weren’t about justice; they were just an excuse. “People are just taking the opportunity to satisfy their desire for junk,” said one woman, knowingly. As if black people, the lust for theft encoded in their DNA, are just barely kept in line by authority.

“When they kill each other, we never hear about it,” one of the Starbucks women said. This, she meant, was a good thing. “When it’s black-on-black violence, we never hear about it.” I asked why she thought that was. “Because, basically, they hate whites!” her friend chimed in. “Prejudice, reverse prejudice. Prejudice goes both ways.”

The others signalled their agreement. “It’s not Ferguson people. It’s a lot of outside people coming in.” {The New Republic}

(b)  White leaders for a Black town

Read more…

The protesters at Ferguson might have won, but choose to lose

18 August 2014

Summary: 4GW is the dominant form of warfare in our time, allowing materially weaker peoples to defeat stronger opponents. Such victories are not free; they require a group to become morally strong: cohesive, disciplined, behaving so as to gather support from others. Mere violence accomplishes nothing, as African-Americans will learn again in Ferguson MO.

Ferguson: police car

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“Our immediate goal is to make sure that the residents of Ferguson are safe, that the looting stops, that the vandalism stops, that the people who are living in the community are confident that justice will be done.”
— Valerie Jarrett (Senior Advisor to Obama) interviewed by American Urban Radio Networks, 17 August 2014

“A number of locals have told NPR that they’re increasingly frustrated that Ferguson residents are being represented by small handfuls of looters and rioters, who they suspect are from out of town.”
— “More Mayhem In Ferguson: Tear Gas, Looting, Gunshots“, NPR, 18 August 2014

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Technology has given us superpowers, but not to the extent that we know what’s going on in Ferguson. There has been looting and burning. But how much? By whom: locals or outsiders? How violent have the protests been?

What we do know is that the people of Ferguson MO, especially its African-American members, had the moral high ground after the shooting of the unarmed Michael Brown by local police for still-unclear but probably insufficient reasons. The moral high ground has often provided a decisive advantage in conflicts — even in war. America proved in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, gaining vital support in both from the UK and Farnce). It’s even more important in 4GWs.

The Ferguson shooting might have been the equivalent of the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks, which sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott , which led to the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference — from which still greater events came. These triumphs came through non-violent protests, requiring great discipline by large numbers of people — achieved by organizations and leadership built over generations. (I’ve been unable to find details about how they maintained such tight discipline during these protests).

Read more…

Ender’s Game: Playing at Shock and Awe

17 August 2014

Summary:  Today we have another guest post by film critic Locke Peterseim, a review of Ender’s Game. He shows how it provides a mirror into which we can see ourselves, 21st C America in all its glory. In this case, we see a nation increasingly fascinated by war, especially our massacre of innocents. Ender’s Game gives a glossy and faux serious look at such issues. Post your comments about the film — and this review.

Ender's Game

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Contents

  1. The review
  2. About the author
  3. Background information about the book, film & author
  4. For More Information
  5. The Trailer

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(1) The review

Ender’s Game: Playing at Shock and Awe
By Locke Peterseim

Posted at the film blog of Open Letters Monthly
6 November 2013

Reposted here with his generous permission

I was struggling a bit with my reactions to the new film adaptation of Ender’s Game. No, not because of the loud, kinda silly, kinda self-righteous, kinda deserved finger wagging and soap-boxing about novel author Orson Scott Card’s outspoken anti-gay brain vomitings. (To be clear, Card’s views on marriage equality deserve derision and mockery, but the “outrage” over them and calls for a boycott of the film feel a little too self-servingly easy and convenient, as do most “causes” centered on disposable pop culture.)

Instead, I was struggling with what I’m coming to see as the Gravity Effect. A few weeks ago, while still under the immediate spell of its stunning synthesis imagery and filmmaking dexterity ago, I declared Gravity a “near-masterpiece.” What I should have written was, “a near-masterpiece of visual and visceral thrills, not of ideas or themes.”

And that got me thinking about how easy it is, in these days of watching movies on our Dick Tracy wristwatches, to get overly seduced by simple big-screen awe. There’s certainly some of that at work in writer-director Gavin Hood’s very competent, watchable Ender’s Game.

The film, of course, adapts Card’s 1985 “shocking” and “disturbing” novel about pre-teen children in the future being recruited and trained to launch a preventive strike on the mysterious insectoid alien beings that unsuccessfully tried to invade Earth a few generations earlier. Young Andrew “Ender” Wiggins (Hugo’s Asa Butterfield) is singled out by head of the military program Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) to spend years training with other children on a space station, learning and being sometimes brutally tested on battle tactics and strategy.

Along the way, Ender (who is equal parts sensitive, competitive, and ruthless) is manipulated, isolated, and tormented by both the program directors and his peers — all of it supposedly grooming the young, nimble, innovative boy into the ultimate war leader in the effort to defeat the aliens and save the human race.

But then a few days ago another film brought my Ender’s Game discontent into sharper focus. I re-watched Star Trek Into Darkness, a film that had me so chasing my own Trekkie tail last spring that I wrote not one, but two long-winded pieces about it and still wasn’t sure if I really “liked” it or not. Watching it a second time was a surprisingly and sadly laborious endeavor.

Read more…

Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests

16 August 2014

Summary: Journalists have dissected the events in Ferguson, and now turn to the important question of police militarization during the past 20 years. We see the standard analysis: pictures of their equipment, pictures of SWAT in action, excessive focus on the details, and faux outrage over the story they ignored for so long. Here we ask the question they ignore: why? Why the militarization of police? Why brutal crushing of protests?

“When I was sixteen, I went to work for a newspaper in Hong Kong. It was a rag, but the editor taught me one important lesson. The key to a great story is not who, or what, or when, but why.”
— Elliot Carver, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

SWAT

In your dreams

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Contents

  1. New police for a new America
  2. An alternative theory, if the police are not fools
  3. Deductions about activities of our new police
  4. Conclusions
  5. For More Information

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(1)  New police for a New America

Now the next phase of the Ferguson drama begins: journalists explain what the police should have done.

  1. After Ferguson, how should police respond to protests?“, Radley Balko, Washington Post, 14 August 2014
  2. Policing Protests Like Soldiers Makes Everyone Less Safe. Even Police“, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 15 August 2014 — “Yet Americans perpetuate the military approach by recruiting for and celebrating it.”

Both conclude that militarization of police and their massive use of force to suppress protests are stupid mistakes. It’s over my pay grade to assess their conclusions as right or wrong, but it’s clear that both commit a serious analytical error by assuming that the police leaders — civilian and uniformed — share their goals and values.

What are the goals of those running our police forces? How can we infer the goal of an individual or group? First, see the effect produced. Assume that what they got is their intended result. Is that logical?

Second, as a check on this, consider the analysis of critics like Balko and Friedersdorf. They say the police committed obvious errors. They are journalists, and so easily assume that police leaders are mouth-breathing neanderthals. That’s a false assumption, and voids much of their analysis.

Read more…

Will the Ferguson protest force development of African-American leaders?

15 August 2014

Summary: The Ferguson protests lacked leadership, and so quickly devolved into counter-productive riots. It’s a common problem. Will future protests nurture a new generation of leaders?

Martin Luther King Jr

We need him again

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Peasants’ protests are a commonplace in history, such as The Great Rising of 1381. The lack of competent leadership distinguishes peasants’ protests from effective means of social change.

Some peasants’ protests are just mobs. Emergent leadership is a rare gift.

Some peasants’ protests have leaders, but not competent ones. Wat Tyler led The Great Rising, bringing his horde to London. King Richard met with Tyler, courteously listened to the peasants’ complaints, thanked him for coming, and killed him. Competent emergent leadership is an extraordinarily rare gift.

And some have great leaders. The Civil Rights movements accomplished great things, steered by its strong leaders (headed by Martin Luther King). The Tea Party was an effective tool for social changed, organized and wielded by a conservative faction of our ruling elites. Five years later it’s still going strong.

The 1992 LA Riots were peasants’ protests, violent but ineffectual. The Occupy Movement was a series of classic peasants’ protests — celebratory venting of social tension, ending with violent suppression, leaving little behind. The Fergruson protests (ending in a riot) were peasants’ protests.

Will the gross overreaction of the police to the Ferguson protests have political repercussions? Perhaps. I suspect the odds are low. The police created an opportunity which an organization (or coalition) could exploit, if one existed.

African-American leaders

Read more…

Our elites smile at events in Ferguson, MO. They’ll cry if it pushes Blacks to try 4GW.

14 August 2014

Summary: As the middle class slowly erodes away, we support our elites by becoming even weaker. Race riots help our rulers in so many ways. Stoking fears in the lower middle class (making them more loyal), exacerbating ancient hatreds (fragmented), and arousing dreams of the great day when they set the nation on fire — usually starting with their own neighborhoods (fantasy rather than organizing). What signal might mark the beginning of a serious threat to our elites’ power? Such as the use of 4th Generation Warfare?

Race wars

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As inequality grows and social mobility falls, the people on the lower rungs of the social ladder lose hope. Our elites have spend decades preparing for this, bulking up the police and reducing the legal shackles limiting their actions.

A powerful description of the result: “America Is Not For Black People“, Greg Howard, The Concourse, 13 August 2014 — Excerpt:

Michael Brown is not special. In all its specificity, the 18-year old’s death remains just the most recent example of police officers killing unarmed black men.

Part of the reason we’re seeing so many black men killed is that police officers are now best understood less as members of communities, dedicated to keeping peace within them, than as domestic soldiers. The drug war has long functioned as a full-employment act for arms dealers looking to sell every town and village in the country on the need for military-grade hardware, and 9/11 made things vastly worse, with local police departments throughout America grabbing for cash to better defend against any and all terrorist threats. War had reached our shores, we were told, and police officers needed weaponry to fight it.

Officers have tanks now. They have drones. They have automatic rifles, and planes, and helicopters, and they go through military-style boot camp training. It’s a constant complaint from what remains of this country’s civil liberties caucus. Just this last June, the ACLU issued a report on how police departments now possess arsenals in need of a use. Few paid attention, as usually happens.

The worst part of outfitting our police officers as soldiers has been psychological. Give a man access to drones, tanks, and body armor, and he’ll reasonably think that his job isn’t simply to maintain peace, but to eradicate danger. Instead of protecting and serving, police are searching and destroying.

If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they’re working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and income and income and race, the enemy population will consist largely of people of color, and especially of black men. Throughout the country, police officers are capturing, imprisoning, and killing black males at a ridiculous clip, waging a very literal war on people like Michael Brown.

Read more…

Look at past airliner shootings so we can learn about government lies

13 August 2014

Summary:  Airliners are occasionally shot down (collateral damage) by modern air defense systems. Like children run over cross the street, it’s an ugly fact of modern life. These extreme (but fortunately rare) events reveal much about the behavior of governments — and about us. Governments lie; they do so because we believe them (no matter how much we pretend no to). We can learn from our past; we can do better.

“Never believe anything about the government until it has been officially denied.”
— Attributed to Bismarck.

“Since becoming a journalist I had often heard the advice to “believe nothing until it has been officially denied”.
— Claud Cockburn (Irish journalist), A Discord of Trumpets (1956)

Air Defense Artillary

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The young men running modern air defense systems can shoot down an airliner with the push of a button. No matter how well trained, and they’re often not, under pressure the complex (often confusing) flood of information on their screens lead to bad decisions.

(1)  Russia’s military shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 on 1 September 1983, followed by the usual false stories. Only in 1992 did they release vital information about the event. They never apologized.

(2)  Ukraine’s military shot down Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 on 4 October 2001. For 9 days they denied responsibility.

The FM website is about America. We too have shot down a civilian airliner. The incident deserves attention because it can – and should — enlighten us about the nature of our government, and ourselves. It’s a standard drama of our time, repeated frequently, from which we seem unable to learn. But first let’s step back in history.

The Soviet Union shoots down a U-2

In 1960 the Soviet Union shot down Gary Powers’ U2 flight. The US denied that he was flying over their territory. They lied to fool us, since the Soviet Union’s officials knew the facts. The truth quickly emerged. US officials then made a discovery of the sort that changes the fate of nation: there were no consequences to lies, even when caught. No penalties. No laughter when they lie again; not even skepticism.

The shooting of Iran Air Flight 655

The USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 on 3 July 1988. The US initially denied it (see this AP story, and the transcript of the DoD Press Briefing. The next day we took responsibility, but made a wide range of claims in defense about the location of the ship and the behavior of the aircraft — all of which justified the shooting.

On 28 July DoD published its Formal Investigation, which won the Doublespeak award for 1988 for “omission, distortion, contradiction, and misdirection”, presented by the National Council of Teachers of English (“Doublespeak and Iran Air Flight 655″).

On 8 September 1988 DoD presented these lies to the House Armed Services Committee, as ritualistic a performance as Noh but without the art and music (see the transcript).

Read more…

We can learn much from the tragedy of Flight MH17 – about ourselves

12 August 2014

Summary: Yesterday’s post showed how little we know about MH17. It provoked many emails of outrage. That shows its importance, and futility. The world has always been, and remains, a dangerous place. Yet the existence of dangers provides fuel for our elites to exaggerate dangers in order to manipulate us. Our gullibility and fearfulness has become our greatest weaknesses. It’s the ultimate “enemy within”.

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.”

— George Orwell, “Looking Back on the Spanish War“, New Road, 1943 (exact issue unknown)

“… every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defence against a homicidal maniac … The essential job is to get people to recognise war propaganda when they see it …”

— George Orwell, book review in New Statesman and Nation, 28 August 1937

Fear Wolf

After 3 days, even the British Leftist press was certain what happened. The evidence they cite was slight.

  1. MH17: the evidence against Russia“, The Guardian, 19 July 2014 — “In the hours after the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine, evidence assembled from various sources appeared to point the blame at militants armed with Russian missiles”
  2. MH17: missile launcher was in towns near crash site, videos suggest“, The Guardian, 20 July 2014 — “Videos and photographs appear to show a mobile anti-aircraft missile launcher in neighbouring towns of Torez and Snizhne”

They were understandably ready to convict Russia, since they knew this was coming: “United States Assessment of the Downing of Flight MH17 and its Aftermath“, 19 July 2014 — Opening line:

“We assess that Flight MH17 was likely downed by a SA-11 surface-to-air missile from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine. We base this judgment on several factors.”

A powerful opening, followed by specific confident assertions. Accepted like gospel by most journalists, geopolitical experts, and Americans. Perhaps this case was correct. Or perhaps it contains lies like those the US government has given so often before, like those listed in yesterday’s post. Our own history should have taught us to beware of premature judgements; but as usual in our generation we don’t learn from our experiences.

Read more…

Let’s stop the 2-minute hate on Putin & think before we reignite the Cold War

11 August 2014

Summary: Americans cheer as our leaders restart the cold war, for reasons known only to them (just like the Iraq War). They need a casus belli, and have the ability (abetted by our gullibility) to produce one. In our eagerness for conflict, a defining characteristic of us since 9-11), it’s easy to do. This post attempts to put the current crisis into a more useful context.

“Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers.”
— Ray Bradbury, “All flesh is one: what matter scores?” (1975)

Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
By having desire, you can only see what is visible.
Yet mystery and reality emerge from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness born from darkness.
The beginning of all understanding.

— Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching

Wreckage from MH17

MH17 wreckage (perhaps), proving something!

 

Contents

  1. Another perspective
  2. Who are the sinners?
  3. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
  4. What we know for certain
  5. For More Information
  6. Obama’s future entry in Guinness

(1) Another perspective

One cause of conflict, often leading to war, is people’s inability to see things from the other nation’s perspective — and so see things in terms of good guys and bad guys, with us of course as the angels.

Russia, during the last days of the USSR, left Eastern Europe with a tacit agreement that the West would not occupy it. Respecting Russia’s sphere of influence — its “near abroad“, their version of the Monroe Doctrine — might have led to a new era of global peace in the new millennium.

Instead we’ve aggressively moved into the geopolitical space left vacant by the collapse of the USSR. Russia let us run until we came up to their borders in Ukraine. Then came the 2014 Ukraine coup. We don’t know the degree of western involvement. We seldom do in such things, until years or decades later (only last year did the CIA admit its role in the 1953 Iran Coup). However, it fits the pattern of past coups run with assistance of the UK’s SIS and US CIA. Then the new friendly government is invited into NATO.

(2) Who are the sinners?

Who are the angels and devils in this? As usual in geopolitics, both sides are sinners (not every year is 1939).

The West’s leaders must have known that shifting the Ukraine into the West’s military and economic alliances would inevitably start a conflict with Russia. Perhaps like the US response to the USSR’s involvement in Cuba, which wrecked Cuba’s economy and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. (See the terrifying transcripts of the White House Executive Committee described in The Virtual JFK).

Read more…

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