RANGER AGAINST WAR: January 2013 <

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A True Assault Rifle

Lies, lies in my history books
Lies, lies like they teach in class
Lies, lies, lies I catch on way too fast 
--Lies, Rolling Stones

There is so much misinformation in the media about assault rifles that it is a pleasure to write about a true assault rifle for a change.

By definition (but not by U.S. law), an assault rifle is fully automatic, shoulder-fired, air-cooled, selective fire and usually fires from the closed bolt.  It is magazine-fed and uses an intermeditae cartridge.  Such a weapon is the STG (MP) 44, and a woman last December turned one in to a police gun buy back:

"Just like a scene out of “Antiques Roadshow,” a woman in Hartford, Conn., turned in an old rifle to her local police station’s gun buy-back,  only to discover the gun was worth anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, inherited the gun from her father who had brought it home with him from Europe as a memento from World War II.

"The gun is called a Sturmgewehr 44, literally meaning “storm rifle,” and is the first “modern assault rifle ever made, eventually replaced by the AK 47 in 1947 by Russia, who copied the German design of the Sturmgewehr 44,” Officer Lewis Crabtree, one of the two officers who discovered the gun, told ABC News (Woman Turns in Valuable WWII Gun at Police Station Weapon Buy-Back.)"

But though the above statement is correct, Officer John Cavanna later incorrectly states,

“Her father passed away. The gun was in her closet,” Cavanna said. “She did not know it was a machine gun.
The STG 44 is NOT a Machine Gun (MG); it is simply an automatic rifle.  A MG fires from the open bolt, is belt-fed and is usually crew-served. A MG is not an individual weapon, as is an assault rifle.  Calling an assault rifle a MG makes it sound like it is in a large pool of ominous-sounding weapons, but the mistake only adds confusion to the issue.

The article continues, "This German-made machine gun can fire 500 rounds in minutes, according to Cavanna, who is also a gun range master."  The sustained rate of fire MAY be 500 rounds per minute IF you could change the magazine fast enough to achieve that high rate of fire: to achieve this feat would require the rifleman to have 16 1/2 magazines of 30 rounds each, and they would have to changed at the rate of one every five seconds. (The average German rifleman carried three magazines and one in the weapon -- a normal combat load.)

No fact-checking, here, and lack of knowledge on the "experts" behalf  -- par for the course, today:

"At the time the officers received the gun, it was in such disrepair that it was inoperable, unable to shoot a bullet even if the gun had been loaded. Cavanna said ammunition would have to be especially made for this gun."

A simple search shows that the Hornaday Company still makes commercial ammunition for this rifle.

The last paragraph gets real fuzzy, fast:

“'We did not take the gun in for the gun buy-back program,' Crabtree said. 'If we took it as part of the buy-back, we would have no choice but to destroy the gun. We don’t want to destroy that gun'.”

"The owner intends to sell the Sturmgewehr 44."

There is no legal avenue to sell an unregistered, non-amnestied full auto weapon.  Unless this rifle is donated to a museum, there is no legal way to sell the weapon on the open market.

Yet this article leads one to believe that auto weapons found in a closet can be legally transferred.  Contrary to the implication of this article, the gun laws of the United States are working.  One cannot sell automatic weapons casually to another person as this is a highly-regulated activity.

Unfortunately, the misinformation in reportage about guns today gives the feeling that it is the Wild West when it comes to gun transfers, and this is not the case.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gender Studies

But Lola smiled and took me by the hand
And said dear boy I'm gonna make you a man
Well I'm not the worlds most masculine man
But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man 
And so is Lola
--Lola, The Kinks

 Take these broken wings
You got to learn to fly,
learn to live and love so free 
--Broken Wings, Mr. Mister 

My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I'm on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancers? 
--Human, Killers  

The issue of females entering the combat arms strikes to the core of what it is to be male in America. Participation in those three MOS's has been one of the last frontiers of purely male endeavor, and it is Ranger's position that it is a societal and psychological good that it remain so.

Men are born from and cared for by women.  We are suckled at the breast and are taught in primary school by predominantly female teachers. The female influence dominates the first 10 years of most male's lives.

High school offers a smattering of male influence in the form of shop teachers, coaches and usually math and science instruction (hard-hitting males in the fine arts tend to go onto college-level teaching.)  Ranger understands this is a broad brush, but it is his experience.

Then, if our choice is to join the Army, we now get female instructors, leaders and commanders.  And then ... we get married.  We are supposed to be men and a pair of gonads, but where is the male influence?  Sixty percent of children today are raised in fatherless households, so the male example is a negative one.

At least in my day we could assert our manhood by going Airborne, Ranger or Special Forces -- the last bastion of male identification and camaraderie.  If this last redoubt goes the way of the dinosaurs, men will have naught to explore their male identity qua man but to revert to his mancave carved out of the garage; if he is lucky, he can keep out the creeping influence of chintz which is he is required to endure in the main portion of the home.

Are we men? Are we women?  Are we complimentary, commensal, oppositional, or are we all the same, as is one feminist theme?  Ranger would like to think he is not interchangeable with a women, nor does he want to be.

Has the military and the world become one huge Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) project? If so, will that add to the perfection of the world?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Got Some Brutality?

--Is this the measure of a well-adjusted person? 

I'm every woman
It's all in me
Anything you want done baby
I'll do it naturally 
--I'm Every Woman, Chaka Khan 

Your mother's radical feminism, this ain't.

Where are the rigorous arguments for the move to open combat slots to women in the military? The "XX Factor: What Women Really Think" blog at Slate typifies the non-cohesion of the argument (War Isn't a Male Value.)  [I've always wished the XX Factor could be better, but it rarely is.]

First, the writer says men are "bullied" into participating in war, but then says they "want to keep their power." The question is then posed, "(why) does male dominance lead to so much violence, from war to rape to child abuse?", the writer predictably laying the fault at the androgynous foot of "power", versus testosterone. The implication is that women would be rapacious, ravaging beasts of the same order, if only they had the power.

The conclusion seems to imply this, while also dismissing the impulse at the same time, in a grand, final non-sequitur:

Hopefully the greater inclusion of women into the military will help us all see that violence and war is learned behavior—it's not inevitable. Women entering combat roles isn't feminism acquiescing to male values, and women don't have a unique duty to overturn the glorification of violence and power that leads to war. That's a job for everyone.

Hmmm, so overturning the glorification of violence is a "job for everyone", eh?  And the way for women to play a part in this noble project is to begin killing people, too?

No one said women entering combat has anything to do with 'feminism acquiescing to male values."  Women wanting to fight and kill is them showing a destructive, life extinguishing, bent; no one has a corner on that market. Entering the combat arms is not "not" acquiescing to male values, rather, it is choosing for a life project, destruction; that hardly seems to be an act of trumping the masculine, or even of achieving equality.  An individual who is dedicated to equality is dedicated to the life of all; one does not get there by being a rifle-toting grunt for one's government.

The writer is correct that many men who have entered such a deadly business have been conscripted or drafted; females who choose to become combat arms are simply opting to obliterate their humanity, and become a one-each unit, too.  The bottom line for those women who wish to fight in the combat arms IS power -- they wish to climb the ladder of military rank, and they see the way to do that is to get a little combat under their belt.  But let's not pretend this impulse to get in on the killing has a more noble aspect.

War-fighting is not the radical posture; fighting and killing is as old as the hills.  The radical pose is to reject it.  Feminists are famous for transvaluing values: They claim (aside from Andrea Dworkin) their use in pornography is actually financial dominance; passivity in BDSM is really the power position (yes, the Marquis de Sade thought of it first, that tricky devil); sexual freedom (= free sex + cooking and cleaning and baby-rearing) is really liberation. Feminism promised a bill of goods it hasn't delivered. 

Feminists have not completed their project.  The singer Beyonce Knowles demonstrates the untraversed ground: in her song, "Independent", her refrain is, I bought it ("I've bought it / I depend on me.")  Her anthematic "Single Ladies" declares (wistfully), "If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it", and a later lyric contradicts her "Independent" with, "Don't treat me to the things of the world / I'm not that kind of girl."  

Beyonce speaks to the women who work and can buy things, but they are not at peace.  They want things and they want a relationship; they have been willing to work for the first, but feminism did not equip them to obtain the second.  Fostering better relationships was not the goal of feminism; equality was, and equality is a straw dog.

Equal pay for equal work should be a given, but that does not equate to doing every single job available. As social critic Susan Faludi points out in her book "Stiffed", men are left unmoored after coming through the feminist battlefield.  Since we are social animals, our interactions go wanting as we fight the archetypes.

Discussion of what feminist theology has gained is for another post.  But if "what women really think"  is as scattered as XX's argument, then perhaps they would do better than to plan war strategy.

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No Human Resources on the Battlefield

 Your screens and publications are full 
of prescribed smiles and raised glasses.
What is the joy about? 
--Alesandr Solzhenitsyn 

By educating the young along the right lines,
the People's State will have to see that a generation
of mankind is formed which will be adequate to this supreme combat
that will decide the destinies of the world
--Adolf Hitler

[Women in combat arms, cont.]

Aside from the obvious physical disparity between the sexes is the obvious psychological divide.

Yes, the feminists and Marxists will dismiss the concern with a flourish: "It is just a social construct ... smash the confines of the construct!"  How's that working out for you?  Jung's archetypes are in full swing, and even the most liberal among us watch helplessly as their sensitive boys play at death in video games, and their enlightened girls yammer for all the acouterments of the the latest girlie heroines.

WE will address two of the obvious and perhaps more dire psychiological consequences of placing women in combat units on the front line; Ranger voices the first; I, the second

[1] Vulnerability

Men can be weak around other men; they cannot be weak around women.  In order to counter this taboo feeling of vulnerability around females, they will be prone to taking larger risks, exposing them to greater casualties.

Male camaraderie is built around the idea of vulnerability.  When men work in a combat team, one's mates observe and learn each man's weakness, and in response, will come to his aid.  Men assist their fellows in different, sometimes socially not politically-correct, ways. Tough-guy joking may a part of the response, but solidarity follows, and one lends a hand to help the team member compensate for his vulnerability.

Men are raised for much of their early lives by women, and prove their manhood via their individuation and differentiation from women, an often psychically challenging and sometimes even violent process.  The break must occur in order to not be women, themselves. When the chips are down, in combat, and they are trying to hold together the pieces that define their manhood, they do not need the threat of psychic disintegration via the presence of a female.

Combat is not a socially-sanctioned environment.  Military combat requires the limning down of the individual to his most basic self.  There is no place on the field of combat for a Human Resources officer to make sure sexual harassment does not occur, and yet we would not think of denying that most basic civil human consideration in the average general work environment today.  Combat is anything but an average unertaking.

We submit that combat is not just "another job".  The combat arms requires a man to function in a way that is not socially acceptable.  It is bad enough men must do it, but why would we want to complicate and endanger that most fraught task by bringing women into the fray?

When you are wound tighter than the girdle of a baptist minister's wife at an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, you need your bother in arms.  You might still emerge somewhat effed up or dead, but a woman cannot provide the fuel needed on the battlefield.


[2] Brotherhood

An extension of Ranger's idea is the unique brotherhood forged outside of the ordinary social construct.  My simple thought is that the presence of women -- even be she an XXY woman -- is emblematic of all women, and the female essence is one of softness and comfort, things totally at odds with the imminent project at hand.  Killing of people, possibly women and children as well as men, is counter to all normal human impulses, yet is a necessary part of the job of the combat arms.

It is well enough to say a woman may be able to overcome her nurturing instincts, but we are concerned here with the effect of their presence upon men.  I believe that even the most masculine of women will, in a dire environment, remind him of the female presence in his life, and every man possesses this image.  It has long been the sustenance of a fighting man to remember his (mother/sister/girlfriend/daughter/etc.), but absent her actual presence, he may turn that off when the time comes.  Ditto the computer screen or the Skype; it is just shut down.

Every man has his trouble and concerns, and Jim mentions the ability of men to be vulnerable with each other.  So it is even in the civilian world.  If a man gets a "dear John" letter, his buddies are there to console him.  When appropriate (if she's a cheat, let's say), he may even get told what a "c*nt" she is, and that a better version will come along on the next bus.  This is one way we begin to feel better, but that innate response would not be allowable in mixed company.

Jim does not like my reasoning, but I feel it is sound.  If our readers wish to add to the topic, we are willing listeners.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

The Big Lie

 Why this feeling? Why this glow?
Why the thrill when you say Hello?
It's a strange and tender magic you do
Mister Wonderful, that's you 
--Mr. Wonderful, Peggy Lee 

'Cause it makes me that much stronger 
 Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter 
--Fighter, Christina Aguilera

--Lieutenant, why are you doing this?
 --Do you ask the men the same question? 
--As a matter of fact: yes, I do ask them.
--And what do they say?
 --"Cause I get to blow shit up." 
--Well, there you go
--G. I Jane (1997)

Ranger would rather sandpaper his ass and soak in Epsom salts rather than entertain the decision that will open combat MOS's to female soldiers.

The Global War on Terror, The Long War, gun control and the decision to allow women into the combat arms all share a lowest common denominator of being based upon a lie posing as a valid hypothesis.  The lie justifying women in the combat arms is that they will be required to meet the same standards as do male service members; they will not, and it is this inequality which fuels Rangers opposition to their admittance.

Beginning with what seems a superficial difference between gender standards, but a difference nonetheless, consider haircuts.  The high and tight is required of male recruits to maintain standards of cleanliness, neatness and uniformity of appearance; it keeps lice and other vermin from setting up scalp residence, is necessary for getting a good seal on the protective mask and it makes treating head wounds easier (these comments are aimed at the Army, as the other services have their own criteria.)  Women may wear their hair longer than men.

So we say we have one standard, but this most basic difference in regulations shows the difference, the accommodation.  If short hair is correct for men, why not for women? Clearly standards will be different, but is this desirable in the most dire of military operations when less exceptions and more codification equals more simplicity and focus on the operation?

Surely gender integration into the combat arms can be done but as with our criticisms of the endeavors in the opening paragraph, we always discuss the "hows" versus the "why's".  Why do we accept that pushing the boundary is a good and necessary thing?  Nuclear bombs might be a more elegant -- less bloody -- way of killing than all the others, but is killing an art form we wish to maximize, sanitize and perfect to the point of utter dehumanization?

William Saletan at Slate -- who routinely warps the facts to forward his social agenda -- wrote in the falsely titled, "Putting women in combat isn’t a dangerous 'experiment' anymore. It’s a success":

Members of the House of Representatives now serve with Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, who lost her legs as a helicopter pilot in Iraq. They also know Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, another Iraq veteran. And many lawmakers have visited war zones. “I’ve seen firsthand service men and women working together in a range of dangerous operations to achieve our military objectives,” says Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire. “Today’s announcement reflects the increasing role that female service members play in securing our country.” McCain agrees: “American women are already serving in harm’s way today all over the world and in every branch of our armed forces. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice."

But "men and women working together" and being in harm's way does not constitute fighting in an Infantry unit; that, no woman has (openly) done.  Think of any battle in which the United States has participated -- Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Bataan, Iwo Jima, The Bulge, Khe Sanh, ad infinitum.  Can anyone say how adding women to these battles would have enhanced them?  Over 100 women have died in the last decade's War on Terror, but these have come predominantly from roadside IEDs or artillery attacks, not as a consequence of their participation in a planned combat operation.

This is a dire statement, but the U.S. will pay in blood for this ill-advised transformation of the combat arms, for one day the U.S. will fight a real theatre level war again with a forward line of troops (FLOT) and a forward edge of the battle area (FEBA), rather than fighting largely irregular non-state insurgents.  A war of maneuver is much different than an "inside/outside of the wire" paradigm.

A real war is a nightmare, and it is Ranger's experience that keeping women out of nightmares is a good thing.

Next: The emotional challenge of placing women in combat MOS's

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Harry of Khartoum, He's Not

The thumb is an evolutionary triumph.
Because of his thumbs, man can use tools;
because he can use tools he can extend his senses,
control his environment and increase in sophistication and power.
The thumb is the cornerstone of civilization! 
--Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Tom Robbins 

thumb pushing down follower still deep in breech 
bolt sshhOCK! whacks thumb oh shit yes it hurts
and good-by to another unbeatable and legendary thumb 
--Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon 

Blessed are they who expect nothing,
for they shall not be disappointed 
--The Trouble with Harry (1955)

Britain's Royal family has suffered a relentless comedown these last few decades.

Prince Harry, who's been deployed to Afghanistan for the past 20 weeks serving as a co-pilot and gunner in a heavily-armed Apache attack helicopter, said some boorish and foolish things in recent interviews released after his departure from country, proving the nut doesn't fall far from the tree.

When asked if he'd killed, Harry said, "Yeah, so, lots of people have" (Prince Harry's Killer Quotes.) So have thugs, Harry, and putting yourself in that category neither makes you cool nor exonerates you. 

The Prince showed exuberance when reflecting on his most excellent thumbs:

"It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful" (The Taliban Says Prince Harry Is a Crazy 'Coward').

Playing tiddlywinks with Hadji is not exactly Gordon of Khartoum, and flying about in the armored Apache picking off "militants" is not exactly the Battle of Bosworth Field. An anonymous Taliban spokesman ventured to the AFP that Harry "has probably developed a mental problem" (Taliban responds to Prince .)

But Harry is just the latest incarnation of the supremely dysfunctional and feeble-minded house of Windsor (actually the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and Hanover who renamed themselves "Windsor" as it sounds so cottage-like and British.) How can one expect more of the son of the exceedingly dull adulterer Prince Charles and his equally adulterous nursery assistant wife (daughter of an adulterous mother and a drunkard father who inherited his title in 1975)?  It's not a great root stock.

It would be nice if Royals and other titular leaders comported themselves with some dignity and politesse, and led the way by expressing true humility while conducting such actions, but we are in an age of false bravado.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Only Militias Need Guns

--Ayeh ... maybe 
Now it is not good for the Christian's health
to hustle the Aryan brown,
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles
and he weareth the Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white
with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear:  "A Fool lies here
 who tried to hustle the East." 
--The Naulahka,Rudyard Kipling

While gun control mania grips the United States, your government has been busy arming Libyan and Syrian terrorists (Mideast folly: U.S. arms find their way to Islamic extremists):

"[T]he Obama administration decided instead to provide arms, or money or other materiel translatable into arms, to the Libyan and Syrian oppositions through third parties.

"The instruments chosen were Sunni Muslim Persian Gulf monarchies Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates"

In a Catch-22, the U.S. has been opposing radicals for the last decade (in Afghanistan and Iraq), except where we support them (in place of, "Libyan and Syrian oppositions," put, "Islamic militants often affiliated with al-Qaeda".) We want stricter background checks and copious paper trails when selling guns to American citizens, while in the Middle East handing out assault rifles to any open hand claiming to be an insurgent.

We are against anti-government militias in the U.S., while supporting the same abroad in their activities against our once, erstwhile friendly regimes, like Qadaffi's Libya and Assad's Syria.  It's all so 1776, unless one wakes up and realizes what that actually implies.

Our friends and foes alike know one truth: the U.S. speaks with forked tongue.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day

Dear Ranger readers:

We have lots to say, but we are away for the day (no, not invited to the inauguration, alas.)  We hope to have something up tomorrow.

Good night, and good luck.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Dead Pan

--Crucifixion, Matthias Grunewald 
~You fired me because I violated the Constitution
~How impetuous of me! 
--Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, John  LeCarre

 Boy, you're gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
--Carry that Weight, The Beatles

 ~English soldier: Is there someone else up there we can talk to?
~French soldier: No!! Now go away,  or I shall taunt you a second time! 
--French soldier, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)


The French are getting a piece of the action in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©).

It is about time since colonialism led to many of the grievance of terrorists in former French colonies. (Ditto the British.)  In fact, one theory traces all terrorism back to the centers of British and French excesses during their colonial periods of exploitation.  Ah, but how France's American cousin treats the story is telling.

The Associated Press reports on the "gruesome display" by Somali militants of a dead French soldier on an al-Shabab-run Twitter account:

"In a gruesome display that included a taunt of France's president, Somali militants on Monday posted photos of what appeared to be a dead French soldier surrounded by weapons and gear."

The gruesome display of one dead French soldier is meant to rouse us from our impending public opinion rout eleven years on into the PWOT ©.  But how is this more gruesome than the United States press featuring the tortured corpses of Qusay and Uday Hussein, or the military putting the bust of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on display following his assassination?  What about the "leaked" camera shot of Saddam Hussein's botched hanging, or the film of Libya's former leader Qaddafi being murdered while being sodomized with a stick?  Gruesome is as gruesome does, to paraphrase Mr. Gump.

Where does civilized end and gruesome begin? Is it as simple as, if we do it, it's civilized; if they do it, it is barbaric?

What about some of our iconography: Isn't Jesus hanging on the cross gruesome?  What about the depictions of the Stations of the Cross? But since these images have inspired religions, they get a pass, and have even been raised to the sublime.

Speaking of religious figures brings Ranger to the Crusades, murder most faithful. It is strange that the U.S. is assisting the French in their African ventures since the French have been killing, mutilating and torturing Africans since the days of the First Crusade, almost 1,000 years ago.  Why do they need help from the U.S.?  Let the French carry their own weight.

The U.S. has lost enough soldiers since 1918 cleaning up their messes; let's keep out of their fights.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

COIN for Thought

--Obama's Countermeasures.
Rainer Hachfeld (Neues Deutschland)
My arms stay open all night, 
From sundown 'til the morning light. 
Hopin' you can find where you belong, 
I leave the lights on 
--My Arms Stay Open All Night, 
Tanya Tucker 

I'll give you jewelery and money, too 
That ain't all, that ain't all I'll do for you 
Oh, if you bring it to me 
--Bring it On Home To Me, 
Sam Cook

 Won't you come home, Bill Bailey, won't you come home
I've moaned the whole night long
I'll do the cookin', honey, I'll pay the rent
I know I done you wrong
--Bill Bailey, Hughie Cannon 

It's a fool's game, nothing but a fool's game 
Standing in the cold rain, feeling like a clown   
--It's A Heartache, Bonnie Tyler 

A passage from Thomas Keneally's book "Schindler's List" caught Ranger's attention recently for the analogy between the Nazi efforts in World War II and those of the United States in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©):

"Even among Sedlacek's own small cell, his Viennese anti-Nazi club, it was not imagined that the pursuit of the Jews had grown quite so systemic.  Not only was the story Schindler told him startling simply in moral terms: one was asked to believe that in the midst of a desperate battle, the National Socialists would devote thousands of men, the resources of precious railroads, an enormous cubic footage of cargo space, expensive techniques of engineering, a fatal margin of their research and development scientists, a substantial bureaucracy, whole arsenals of automatic weapons, whole magazines of ammunition, all to an extermination which had no military or economic meaning but merely a psychological one. ..."

Exchange the word "elimination" for "counterinsurgency effort" or "COIN", and Keneally's character could be describing the PWOT©, 2001-2012 and counting.  The entire War on Terror was and is devoid of military or economic meaning, yet we still embrace the concept as a valid one, still peddling the shtick that the U.S. is bringing our schizophrenically-viewed adversaries / allies on home to where they really want to be ... with us.

When the chimera of men in battle rattle winning hearts and minds supplants military and economic objectives, we are playing a fool's game.  Unrequited love is always a cruel thing.

NOTE: The youngest survivor on Oskar Schindler's list has died, Leon Leyson ("Little Leyson"). Mr. Schindler was able to save his parents from Nazi extermination, too, though not his siblings or any extended family (Youngest on Schindler's List.) The L.A. Times bio is worth a read.

Alav ha-shalom Mr. Leyson, and Mr. Schindler.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Canon Cockers

 The urge to save humanity is almost always
a false front for the urge to rule 
--H.L. Mencken 

Shut up! Shut up you American. You always talk,
you Americans, you talk and you talk and say 
"Let me tell you something" and "I just wanna say this." 
Well you're dead now, so shut up 
--The Meaning of Life (the Grim Reaper), 
Monty Python (1983)

An important yet unspoken implication of the call for General Staff ethics training ("Ethics for Dummies") is this: Where is the ethics training for our Soldiers-cum-Warriors?  We don't talk about it, because warriors do not have ethics.

How can you have a cadre of hopefully ethical officers leading a group of killing warriors?  Answer: You can't; to imagine such a contradiction as effective is a joke.  The FOX news - Black Five contingent says, "Ranger stop spouting your high-falutin' sophistries," but Ranger is correct -- a democracy does not stand in name or reality if it adopts the Warrior Way in battle.

Warriors will do anything to win, versus Soldiers who are constrained in their activities by civilized norms recognized by our canon of common law.  You cannot expect ethical behavior from warriors, but you can from Soldiers.  Conforming to a body of ethics is the thing that allows Soldiers to return and enjoy a hopefully successful reintegration into their society. A warrior is condemned to living forever on the fringes.  While we may love our Kurosawa films, the actual life of a Samurai is not something most of us would relish.

Everyone calls our Soldiers "Warriors" today, but are loathe to consider the consequences of an actual transformation into warriorhood. Consider the Kandahar Massacre, in which Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales soldier methodically killed sixteen Afghan civilians and injured five others in Afghanistan 11 March 2012 on his own, in two separate actions (SSG Bales is currently being held at the Ft. Leavenworth correctional facility.)  SSG, Bales's actions were those of a warrior -- brutal, fierce, unforgiving, relentless, cruel ... lacking in humanity and devoid of adherence to any martial code.

SSG Bales behaved like the warrior he was, and we did not like it.  We may impose much onto our fighting men, but there are certain divide which we cannot brook because we know at heart that we are them -- we are both SSG Bales, and the villagers whom he slaughtered. 

We are aroused by the biblical story of Joshua fighting the Battle of Jericho, but we do not see ourselves as people who wreak such outright destruction.  We are people who, inasmuch as is possible, respect the elderly and the young; we respect that people wish to live a life, and work hard to cobble together a living best they can.  Their leaders may initiate wars and the people suffer and we understand all of this, and so endeavor to mitigate "collateral damage".  However, warriors do not take such considerations to heart. 

Flying planes into the Twin Towers is warrior behavior.  It is indiscriminate, violent and abides by no social norms.  It is doubly frightening both in its outright destruction and its disobedience of rules of civilized behavior.  We do not wish to be such warriors.  Moreover, we cannot fight that impulse if we ourselves display and abide by the same imperative.

Leon Panetta, who does not understand what it is to be a Soldier, cannot codify a body of ethics for Soldiers or for their leaders. 

Maybe the call to ethics training is a wake up call to return to Soldierly Values. 

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Hatfields and McCoys

From Sea to Shining Sea

Washington Post animated cartoonist Telnaes can be good and she enjoys a large following.  Her post today -- "From Sea to Shining Sea" depicts the fear of the NRA, and it is doubtful she consulted with the group to discover if this was an accurate portrayal of their position.

Her vision is not RangerAgainstWar's view of a healthy society, and we bemoan the image Telnaes presents for us.  But the doleful image outstrips the animation.  The image which she unwittingly conveys is an "Us'ns agin' them'ins" -- a Hatfields and McCoys, ad infinitum.  No sensible middle ground is allowed.

"Kids are getting murdered!" they cry. The "Other Side" says, "Curtailing gun rights is a slippery slope towards fascism!"  Both are unfortunate realities we have been facing for a while now.  In the same edition Tom Toles echoed our problem:

How do we grow past our fierce sectarianism? One thing is for sure: Not talking about problems -- saying, "He is an idiot", solves nothing.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Ethics for Dummies

eth·ics[eth-iks], plural noun 

1.a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture. 

2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a 
particular class of human actions or a particular group, 
culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics. 

3.moral principles, as of an individual
4.That branch of philosophy dealing with values 
relating to human conduct, with respect to the
 rightness and wrongness of certain actions    
and to the goodness and badness 
of the motives and ends of such actions 

Doing mop up after General Petraeus got busted last year for putting his John Thomas somewhere he oughtn't have (being the Good Calvinists that we, in the United States, are), Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for an ethics training review by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for General Officers.

Doesn't it appear a teeny wienie bit too late to wait until a person reaches General Officer rank before they get ethics training?  I mean, once wee willie is out of the barn, what is the use in shutting the fly trap door?

It also seems somewhat hypocritical that a former Central Intelligence Agency Chief espouses this ethics review when his agency oversaw illegal renditions, secret prions and torture, none of which fall under the rubric "ethical". Further, why not ethics training for civilian Department of Defense appointees, to include their shill well-paid loyal attorneys?

How about ethics training for our political leaders and the folks over at State Department and Homeland Security (DHS)?  What about the Department of Justice (DoJ)?  The National Security Counsel (NSC) and the National Security Agency (NSA)?  Treasury Department?

Who cares about ethics today?  Who questioned the legality of elective and aggressive preemptive invasions, and the ethics of Long Wars?  What has happened to the people who have questioned the incarceration and detainment of people snatched up during these illegal, protracted aggressions? Hint:  They did not get the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Marital infidelity ain't good, but it may pale next to transgressions of the murderous sort.  Message: No fuck whores, but fucking nations is o.k.  This belated consideration of ethics -- the latest installation of ass-covering as an art-form -- indicts our entire structure of education and military training, including our conception of liberal thought and what constitutes humanistic behavior.

We need more than a remediation course on ethics.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Oh Dark Thirty

--President Obama's Disposition Matrix,  
The Atlantic 

When in doubt,
 have two guys come through the door with guns 
--Raymond Chandler, on story writing 

~Please help me.
~You can help yourself by being truthful 
--Zero-Dark-Thirty (2012) 

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing,
but that rather a tumult was made, he took water
and washed his hands before the multitude,
saying, I am innocent of the blood
of this just person: see ye to it 
--Matthew 27:24

One iconic image from the Vietnam War disabused Americans of their concept of rule of law in war zones: Eddie Adams stark photo of the street murder of a VC officer by General Loan, chief of the South Vietnamese National Police. That image showed General Loan acting as a one man judge, jury and executioner.

It is not too much to say that the outcome of that war hinged on the shift in American sentiment toward the North Vietnamese after viewing such apparent lawlessness.  The social upheaval stateside could not brook one more assault on the pillars which prop up a civilized existence.  Even though the Vietcong were themselves killers, U.S. citizens would not countenance the compromise of their own values; the impulse to Due Process was still strong, and they saw themselves in The Other.

Fast forward 44 years and our President acts like a rogue cop on a Saigon street corner (without actually pulling the trigger, to understand that awesome action), but unlike General Loan, Obama does so with impunity. A paltry 44 years has brought the tolerance of outright stomping on our core values regarding the rule of law as we accept his Presidential targeted assassinations (How Obama Decides Your Fate If He Thinks You're a Terrorist.)

When the deed is executed by drones it is all the better, as we like tidy "surgical" things; we like to be told what pills to take, and when and apparently what organs need to be excised (CFR Targeted Killings.)  Habitues of FOX - Limbaughrundia obediently excise their hearts, brains, spinal cord and sometimes stomach (for all their blood lust, they are weak and fearful.)

What else can account for our moral and ethical comedown? Perhaps our inborn sneaky natures are being stoked by our addiction to our personal technologies; hidden behind the intermediary of a screen, the worst offense can be committed yet it is almost as though nothing has happened at all -- change the screen shot and the pixels are gone.

Last week the film Zero-Dark-Thirty premiered-- the latest agitprop by our own Leni Riefenstahl (aka, Dir. Katheryn Bigelow).  The film perpetuates the mythical proposition that torture is a useful tool leading to successful targeted assassinations, an act contrary to core U.S. values.  But instead of being jeered for her glorification of this transgression, Bigelow is touted as having directed the best film of 2012.  Nietzsche was prescient, and we the self-elected Ubermensch have allowed for the transvaluation of our values. (An interesting aside: In its first week of release, "A Haunted House, "Gangster Squad", "Django Unchained" and "Les Miserables" rounded out the top five box stars; there is a theme here.)

Neither my President, my Army nor the propagandist movie director are acting with our concurrence here at RangerAginstWar.  How can we condemn the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy or any other, and yet accept this illegal act as a justifiable tool in a questionable national endeavor?

At least Pilate had the good sense to wash his hands of it.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Windegg

And here is an example of stupid thinking, the Regress Problem in action:

FOCUS | Arming Black People Would Have Prevented Slavery?
Larry Ward yells 'arm the teachers!' as demonstrators rally past his office during a protest against the NRA. Ward recently told CNN that 'armed African Americans could have prevented slavery.' (photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/WP)
Aviva Shen, ThinkProgress 
Shen writes: "Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day, 
argued that if African slaves had been armed,
 they would have been able to prevent slavery from ever happening."

Shen quotes Chairman Ward on CNN:

"[I]f African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history."

How does one even begin to address this absurdity?  Would the slaves, which of course they were, have kept their flintlocks in their Plantation shanties? No -- slaves do not get to own guns.  Maybe Mr. Ward can work from that premise and construct something. 

But MAYBE, if you did not deal in slaving -- if you did not OWN slaves -- they would not have had to fight not to be slaves. But once in America, they could not retroactively have prevented themselves from the facticity of their slave-ness.   

Now, maybe if they had guns in Africa (prior to enslavement), those might have trumped spears and any other wiles their captors imposed, and they might have avoided ever becoming slaves.  And if pigs had wings ...

It just hurts my head, these weak attempts at imposing potential historical revisionism based upon stupidity.  The National Rifle Association needs to ally itself with some vocal intelligent people; gun owners are not all, or probably even mostly, ignorant buffoons as the liberal press would wish to portray them. Ward's statement is so embarrassingly ignorant and transparently exploitative, it simply reinforces the stereotype and keeps the divide in place.

It seems the "best" refutation the conservatives can front is of the sort done by Alex Jones versus Piers Morgan (CNN; Piers, Mr. Rescind-the-2nd-Amendment -- Alex, Mr Let's-Run-Piers-Out-of-the -US-on-a-Rail.)  It is terrible, sloppy, and such grotesque show, but the people eat it up.  As a staunch Civil Rights advocate, I am embarrassed for my Republic when I see such things, on both sides.  Where is the rigor?  The respect, for any thing or any one?

Per the hapless Mr. Ward, it is Blaxploitation redux.

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