Quote of the day

“The problem with trying to induce the benefits of nationhood onto Afghanistan is that there’s no nation there. Afghanistan is a more of a blank spot on the map where neighboring nations aren’t.” — Stephen Green, via Instapundit

Many Americans just can’t seem to understand that many people groups don’t want to live like us, and that our efforts to shape them that way is seen as aggression of the highest order.  One cannot make a state where there is no national identity. And for much of the Middle East and Central Asia, identity is found in family, kinsmen and tribe.  Lines drawn on a map by outsiders mean nothing, as the Pashtuns of both western Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan have shown.

Same is true of Iraq, an artificial conglomerate of Sunni, Shia and Kurds.  Left alone without Saddam as the heavy-handed glue to hold them together, the country would fragment and the Kurds would no longer be the largest ethnic group in the world without its own homeland.  While I was in Baghdad years ago, President Bush announced our mission had shifted from toppling Saddam to building a free, united and stable Iraq.  A quick wit on our team quickly turned that into a drawing on the wall, with the caption of “pick any two.”  That’s still the wisest assessment I’ve ever heard about that instance of mission creep.

Notwithstanding efforts to spread the Gospel, it’s time to let others live as they’ve chosen, and stop bringing so many of them here so we can do the same.

As I’ve been saying…

this fellow also says it well (emphasis added by me):

War is and always will be an ugly business.

That knowledge should lead Western governments to use their technological and economic advantages to avoid getting into wars with the barbarians on the edge of civilization. Instead, they start wars they never intend to win, so they can preen and pose about their virtue and morality, when something terrible inevitably happens…

The point of war is to kill the enemy and break up their stuff. The hope is they quit before you kill all of them and break all of their stuff, but you plan otherwise. If the Afghans knew all along that helping Osama bin Laden was most likely going to mean their cities and large towns would be flattened, they would have chose differently. Let’s assume they played it the same and Bush had firebombed Kabul, what would have been the result?

Yeah, there would have been a lot of hand-wringing and pearl clutching in Washington, but every other nutjob in the Middle East would have been re-calibrating his plans. A lot less death and destruction would have come as a result.

Not long after it became clear we were in both Afghanistan and Iraq for an extended engagement, I told a fellow Airman our country was making a huge mistake.  Rather than just strike and leave, our country was arrogant enough to believe we could “make democracy bloom” in a soil that has never yet produced it on its own.  Americans today have no stomach for the kind of occupation (both scope and duration) it would take to create that level of change in the region.  To put it bluntly, unless we’re willing to seal off and occupy the countries until we’ve educated a couple new generations, it ain’t happening (and probably wouldn’t then, either).  I said at the time we’d have been better off after 9/11 by turning the Taliban and Kabul into the world’s largest man-made crater as a warning to others, then leaving everyone in literal shock and awe (“Who else wants some of that?  Any takers?”).  Instead, our half-hearted wars of choice over the last decade and a half have eroded the respect and fear (not to mention the capability) our military once commanded.

You’re not powerful just because you’re throwing military forces around.  You’re powerful when nobody dares challenge you, even indirectly, for fear of the deathstroke you’re expected to deliver.  That’s the difference between deterrence and playing expensive whack-a-mole all over the earth.

“To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”  – Sun Tzu

But failing that,

“The will to conquer is the first condition of victory.”  – Marshall Ferdinand Foch

 We as a nation don’t have a will.  We’re too hesitant to be feared, and too reckless abroad to be respected.  And that’s why there’s not a way to win.  Trying to fight a war at the level of a low and long simmer is about as sensible as a doctor trying to operate without losing any blood.  Either America has the will to fight — including responsibility for the inevitable horrors — or it doesn’t.  Either there’s a reason to break things and kill people, or there’s not.  If there is, let it be done quickly, relentlessly and efficiently until a better future is secured (that’s Just War theory, by the way).

If, however, there isn’t will or a reason, the families of more than 8,300 Americans deserve to know why their loved one were sent to die.  Tens of thousands of scarred Americans also deserve to know what their sacrifices were for.

The fall of Western Civilization

I usually keep Saturdays light, with some music or random musing.  I just can’t do that this week.  Not after reading two stories within minutes of each other, both of which herald just how much our governments aren’t serious about their primary duty: protecting their citizens.

Exhibit A: In Sweden, five teenage migrants from Afghanistan have been convicted of gang-raping another teenage migrant.  But despite calls from the prosecution to expel the convicts back to their native country, it won’t happen because “of their age and the dangers they would face in their homeland.”  One of the dangers of Afghanistan is the widespread practice of rape.  By allowing these “youths” to spend less than a year and a half in jail, then return to Swedish society, the government is essentially allowing barbarous behavior to be imported there.

Exhibit B: A man from Mexico who had been deported ten times since 2003 is now accused of raping a 13-year old girl in Kansas.

I don’t mean to imply that such crimes are never committed by citizens.  We already have crime enough from domestic sources.  But it’s increasingly clear that the flood tide of migrants across Europe and the United States is bringing in a large number of what Trump indelicately referred to as “bad hombres.”  A nation that is serious about its sovereignty and security would never allow someone to reenter illegally nine more times after first being caught.  For all the impact they’re being allowed to have, we might as well defund the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the joke known as the “Department of Homeland Security.”

It’s bad enough these people are committing the national equivalent of ‘breaking and entering.’  When that behavior is compounded by assaults and crimes against the citizens living here, it should be dealt with swiftly and harshly.  The dilemma is that I’m one of many people who believe our police need to reduce the instances of abuse of authority… and yet on this important issue it’s as if we don’t even have police.  As Charlie Daniels sang in Simple Man, “I’m the kinda guy wouldn’t harm a mouse, but if I catch somebody breaking in my house, I gotta 12-gauge shotgun waitin’ inside.”  (Full disclosure: mine’s only a 20-gauge, but it now has several stable mates with it.  The Musketeers and I took them out for a spin just this week.)

Scripture says governments are permitted to ‘bear the sword‘ in order to reward good and punish evil.  Punishment is severely lacking in both cases above (and countless others I’ve read and could link to but in the interest of time don’t).  The message all this sends is that these are happy hunting grounds, further compounding the problem.  We need to send a much different signal, and soon.  While I don’t take death lightly, there is an argument to be made along the lines of “shoot a few and the rest will learn.”  Because our governments won’t exercise their responsibility here, I predict citizens will increasingly take matters into their own hands.  When you delegate authority to someone and they fail to get the job done, the boss usually takes that power back.

We need to remember who the boss is for Western republics.  And it’s NOT the jokers in D.C. Mordor.

And this is the thanks they get

At the height of the war in Iraq, the military offered large bonuses for experienced troops who chose to stay in despite the grueling deployment tempo, the risk to life and limb, and the effects on their families.

But Uncle Sam always reserves the right to change the terms of the deal whenever he wants:

Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, a newspaper reported Saturday…

A federal investigation in 2010 found thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were improperly doled out to California Guard soldiers. About 9,700 current and retired soldiers received notices to repay some or all of their bonuses with more than $22 million recovered so far.

Soldiers said they feel betrayed at having to repay the money.  ((Editor’s note: THEY WERE!))

These bonuses were used to keep people in,” said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. “People like me just got screwed.”

The government breaks its promises to We the People on a regular basis.  But this is an unusually egregious case.  To entice a veteran to stay in uniform during increasingly unpopular (and poorly managed) wars, have some of them wounded, crippled or killed, then wait a decade and say “now you have to pay it all back” is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

Why isn’t the government of California on the hook for “overpaying” its National Guard?  Why should these soldiers suffer because someone made a promise that was not theirs to make?  Which bureaucrats will lose their jobs over fraudulently recruiting?  (I know… I’m not holding my breath.)  Why is it there’s always money and favors to give to illegal immigrants or foreign terror regimes, but never any to take care of Americans?

There have been too many broken promises, too much corruption, too many of our politicians on the take, and nothing for the average, law-abiding citizen of this nation.  Our self-appointed elites are so stupid that now they’re bashing thousands of combat veterans who may be wondering which way to point the rifle next time.  That’s just one of dozens of reasons why I’m convinced the United States is a dead country walking, and will soon collapse with a heartrending crash.  Why would anyone defend it, when this is the thanks those defenders get for putting their lives on the line?

For what little good it may do, there is an online petition to the White House asking to forgive these ‘debts’ that should never have been levied.  You can add your name here.

Exporting educational excellence

Another verdict on our, um, endeavors in Afghanistan is in:

The United States government has spent $200 million on a literacy program for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) over the past five years but half the Afghan army still can’t read or write according to a new report.

“Literacy of the Afghan National Security Forces is of critical importance,” said John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). “We’ve spent $200 million on this  — yet we don’t even know how many Afghan security forces are literate or how well the program worked. That’s deeply disturbing.”

Lest I be called a complete pessimist, I’ll note the glass is half full here.  Roughly 300,000 Afghanis were supposed to have been educated under this program.  So that means this particular debacle only cost about $667 a student.  Compared to the roughly $12,000 per pupil we spend annually here at home for what often seems like only slightly better results from our public schools, that’s a pretty good bargain!

Link leftovers

A scattering of things that have caught my attention in recent days.  That is, when I haven’t been playing with my nieces and nephews, or otherwise generally ignoring the tomfoolery of the wider world…

Confidence builders:

– Congress hears from those managing the war in Afghanistan… and find they don’t know how much is being spent, or how many troops have died there this year.

– The observable science is “settled” on Al Gore’s rolling “five-year” prediction of an ice-free North Pole, as Cairo gets its first snow in 100 years.

– Obama Birth Certificate Verifier Is Lone Fatality In Small Plane Crash

– Editing publicity materials is apparently not covered under Obamacare

– With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan allegedly winding down, Congress rethinks the promises it made to those who fought them (pay attention, kids!)

Weapons of Mass Distraction:

– The looting class prepares the war drums to distract from their economic crimes.  At least Iceland seems to have seen through the smoke and mirrors, to hold the guilty responsible.

– A high school debater known for anti-gun, anti-free market, anti-Republican views… buys a shotgun and tries to kill his coach.

Compare and Contrast:

Two Americas, in one chart

– American prosperity, pre-Fed and post-Fed

And finally, a modern American Christmas song. ((Hi, ‘Santa’ — Jemison))