Rally Round the Flag Boys and Girls. Time to Attack IRAN!

I am re-posting this information which is from Wikipedia.  I have not written one word of this blog, but I think it is important enough to post.  The President of the USA may now be using this tactic with IRAN.  It has been used before and Americans will fall prey to it again unless people are aware of the tactic and stand up to it.

Estoy re-publicando esta información que es de Wikipedia. No he escrito una palabra de este blog, pero creo que es lo suficientemente importante como para publicar. El presidente de los EE. UU. Ahora puede estar usando esta táctica con IRAN. Se ha usado antes y los estadounidenses volverán a ser presa de él a menos que la gente esté consciente de la táctica y la haga frente.

我正在重新發布來自維基百科的這些信息。 我沒有寫過這個博客的一個詞,但我認為發布這個詞非常重要。 美國總統現在可能正在與伊朗使用這種策略。 它已經被使用過了,除非人們意識到這種策略並且能夠堅持下去,否則美國人將再次成為它的犧牲品。

Ich poste diese Informationen, die aus Wikipedia stammen, erneut. Ich habe kein Wort dieses Blogs geschrieben, aber ich denke, es ist wichtig genug, um etwas zu posten. Der Präsident der USA könnte diese Taktik jetzt mit dem IRAN anwenden. Es wurde schon früher benutzt und die Amerikaner werden wieder Opfer davon werden, es sei denn, die Leute sind sich der Taktik bewusst und halten sich dagegen.

Rally ’round the flag effect

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President Bush approval rating from 2001 to 2006. Spikes in approval coincide with the September 11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq, and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

The rally ’round the flag effect (or syndrome) is a concept used in political science and international relations to explain increased short-run popular support of the President of the United States during periods of international crisis or war.[1]Because rally ’round The Flag effect can reduce criticism of governmental policies, it can be seen as a factor of diversionary foreign policy.[1]

Mueller’s definition[edit]

Political scientist John Mueller suggested the effect in 1970, in a landmark paper called “Presidential Popularity from Truman to Johnson”. He defined it as coming from an event with three qualities:[2]

  1. “Is international”
  2. “Involves the United States and particularly the President directly”
  3. “Specific, dramatic, and sharply focused”

Causes and durations[edit]

Since Mueller’s original theories, two schools of thought have emerged to explain the causes of the effect. The first, “The Patriotism School of Thought” holds that in times of crisis, the American public sees the President as the embodiment of national unity. The second, “The Opinion Leadership School” believes that the rally emerges from a lack of criticism from members of the opposition party, most often in the United States Congress. If opposition party members appear to support the president, the media has no conflict to report, thus it appears to the public that all is well with the performance of the president.[4]

The two theories have both been criticized, but it is generally accepted that the Patriotism School of thought is better to explain causes of rallies, while the Opinion Leadership School of thought is better to explain duration of rallies.[3] It is also believed that the lower the presidential approval rating before the crisis, the larger the increase will be in terms of percentage points because it leaves the president more room for improvement. For example, Franklin Roosevelt only had a 12% increase in approval from 72% to 84% following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, whereas George W. Bush had a 39% increase from 51% to 90% following the September 11 attacks.[5]

Another theory about the cause of the effect is believed to be embedded in the US Constitution. Unlike in other countries, the constitution makes the President both head of government and head of state. Because of this, the president receives a temporary boost in popularity because his Head of State role gives him symbolic importance to the American people. However, as time goes on his duties as Head of Government require partisan decisions that polarize opposition parties and diminish popularity. This theory falls in line more with the Opinion Leadership School.

Due to the highly statistical nature of presidential polls, University of Alabama political scientist John O’Neal has approached the study of rally ’round the flag using mathematics. O’Neal has postulated that the Opinion Leadership School is the more accurate of the two using mathematical equations. These equations are based on quantified factors such as the number of headlines from the New York Times about the crisis, the presence of bipartisan support or hostility, and prior popularity of the president.[6]

Political Scientist from The University of California Los Angeles, Matthew A. Baum found that the source of a rally ’round the flag effect is from independents and members of the opposition party shifting their support behind the President after the rallying effect. Baum also found that when the country is more divided or in a worse economic state then the rally effect is larger. This is because more people who are against the president before the rallying event switch to support him afterwards. When the country is divided before the rallying event there is a higher potential increase in support for the President after the rallying event.[7]

In a study by Political Scientist Terrence L. Chapman and Dan Reiter, rallies in Presidential approval ratings were found to be bigger when there was U.N. Security Council supported Militarized interstate disputes (MIDs). Having U.N. Security Council support was found to increase the rally effect in presidential approval by 8 to 9 points compared to when there wasn’t U.N. Security Council support.[5]

According to a 2019 study of ten countries in the period 1990-2014, there is evidence of a rally-around-the-flag effect early on in an intervention with casualties (in at least the first year) but voters begin to punish the governing parties after 4.5 years.[8]

Historical examples[edit]

The effect has been examined within the context of nearly every major foreign policy crisis since World War II. Some notable examples:

  • Cuban Missile Crisis: According to Gallup polls, President John F. Kennedy‘s approval rating in early October 1962 was at 61%. By November, after the crisis had passed, Kennedy’s approval rose to 74%. The spike in approval peaked in December 1962 at 76%. Kennedy’s approval rating slowly decreased again until it reached the pre-crisis level of 61% in June 1963.[3][9]
  • Iran hostage crisis: According to Gallup polls, President Jimmy Carter quickly gained 26 percentage points, jumping from 32 to 58% approval following the initial seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in November 1979. However, Carter’s handling of the crisis caused popular support to decrease, and by November 1980 Carter had returned to his pre-crisis approval rating.[10]
  • Operation Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War): According to Gallup polls, President George H. W. Bush was rated at 59% approval in January 1991, but following the success of Operation Desert Storm, Bush enjoyed a peak 89% approval rating in February 1991. From there, Bush’s approval rating slowly decreased, reaching the pre-crisis level of 61% in October 1991.[3][11]
  • Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush received an unprecedented increase in his approval rating. On September 10, Bush had a Gallup Poll rating of 51%. By September 15, his approval rate had increased by 34 percentage points to 85%. Just a week later, Bush was at 90%, the highest presidential approval rating ever. Over a year after the attacks occurred, Bush still received higher approval than he did before 9/11 (68% in November 2002). Both the size and duration of Bush’s popularity after 9/11 are believed to be the largest of any post-crisis boost. Many people believe that this popularity gave Bush a mandate and eventually the political leverage to begin the War in Iraq.[3][12]
  • Death of Osama bin Laden: According to Gallup polls, President Barack Obama received a 6% jump in his Presidential approving ratings, jumping from 46% in the three days before the mission (April 29 – May 1) to a 52% in the 3 days after the mission (May 2–4).[13] The rally effect didn’t last long, as Obama’s approval ratings were back down to 46% by June 30.

Controversy and Fears of Misuse[edit]

There are fears that the president will misuse the rally ’round the flag effect. These fears come from the “diversionary theory of war” in which the President creates an international crisis in order to distract from domestic affairs and to increase their approval ratings through a rally ’round the flag effect. The fear associated with this theory is that a President can create international crisis to avoid dealing with serious domestic issues or to increase their approval rating when it begins to drop.[14]

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”  — Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials 

 

Let’s Play “Whack a Mole” with the World

whack-a-mole-cartoon

The saying is often noted but just as often ignored that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”  — Santayana.   To this profound advice, I would argue that my following observation is equally true and that it has resulted in an equal number of policy disasters and misadventures.  To wit:  “Those who do not recognize the patterns around them are doomed to failure.”   I came by this observation in the middle of a night while pondering the intricacies of playing the “Whack a Mole” game

There is a game that children play and it is called “Whack a mole.”  Have you ever played this game?  If not, view the game at “Whack a Mole”.  Basically, it involves a series of plastic moles that keep randomly popping out of different holes.  You get points for each mole that you whack before it drops back into its hole.  No sooner do you “Whack” one mole then another one pops up again.  [If you would actually like to play the game, you can play a free fast paced version of the game at “Whack a Mole.”]  They call it Smack and Bash at this site.

As I thought about this game, I began to see how it applied to numerous efforts that we undertake to bring about change.  Understanding the game, I could see how futile many of these efforts are and clearly why they are doomed.  Let me give you four examples that will show you how pervasive the “Whack a Mole” game is in politics and US policy:

  1. Eliminate the Mafia
  2. Win the war on drugs
  3. Defeat terrorism in the Mideast
  4. Stop the arms race

 1.  Eliminate the Mafia:

The Mafia may have begun in the United States in the second half of the 19th Century.  The US law establishment has been waging a war to eliminate the Mafia for well over 100 years.  During that time they have killed or arrested the following Mafia leaders:

large_movie_mobsters

It should be noted that this list includes only the leadership in just one crime family.  There are at least a dozen or more Mafia crime families in the USA.  Each one has a history of crime bosses since the early 1900s.

treeCrime bosses get eliminated or changed in a number of ways. Some die.  Some are murdered.  Some are arrested.  Few if any ever simply retire.  This last fact is good for our law enforcement agencies, since it helps keep them occupied with finding and catching Mafia leaders.

So for over 100 years now, the FBI, the Justice Department and every police department in the USA have been playing the “Whack a Mole” game with the Mafia.  They no sooner whack one Mafia leader down and another pops up in his place.  What fun!  At the taxpayers’ expense of course.

  1. Win the war on drugs:

Drugs starting becoming a major problem in the USA with the competition between cigarettes, alcohol and other substances designed to give someone a feeling of either being up, down or out of it.  We know that in 1920 the US passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution making the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol illegal.  Few who have studied any history can forget the fiasco that Prohibition entailed.  Alcohol continued to flow while crime, murder and mayhem associated with alcohol increased dramatically.   Did we learn anything from this?  Following is a short list of the major drug laws and “banned” drugs in the USA.  (By the way, alcohol and nicotine and caffeine are all drugs and at one time or another have all been banned someplace in the world)

1906 The Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, forming the Food and Drug Administration and giving it power to regulate foods and drugs, and requiring labeling of contents on foods and drugs. The most important effect on the drug problem was the demise of the patent medicine industry. Drug addiction began a dramatic drop.
1914 The Harrison Tax Act was passed, effectively outlawing the opiates and cocaine.
1915 Utah passed the first state anti-marijuana law. Mormons who had gone to Mexico in 1910 returned smoking marijuana. It was outlawed at a result of the Utah legislature enacting all Mormon religion prohibitions as criminal laws.
1922  Narcotic Drug Import and Export Act – Intended to eliminate use of narcotics except for legitimate medicinal use.
1924  Heroin Act -Makes it illegal to manufacture heroin.
1937  Marijuana Tax Act

1938    Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act

1942    Opium Poppy Control Act

1951    Durham-Humphrey Amendment

Established more specific guidelines for prescription drugs: habit forming, safety, and evaluation of new drugs

1951    Boggs Amendment to the Harrison Narcotic Act

1956    Narcotics Control Act

Intends to impose even more severe penalties for narcotics violations

1965    Drug Abuse Control Amendments (DACA)

Strict controls over amphetamines, barbiturates, LSD, etc.

1966    Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act (NARA)

1968    DACA Amendments

Provides that sentence may be suspended and record expunged if no further violations within 1 year

1970    Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act

Replaces and updates all previous laws concerning narcotics and other dangerous drugs. Empasis on law enforcement.

1972    Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act

1973    Methadone Control Act

1973    Heroin Trafficking Act

1973    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Remodels Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs into DEA

1978    Alcohol and Drug Abuse Education Amendments

Sets up education programs within Department of Education

1984    Drug Offenders Act

Sets up special programs for offenders and organizes treatment

1986    Analogue (Designer Drug) Act

Makes use of substances with similar effects and structure to existing illicit drug illegal

1988    Anti-Drug Abuse Act

Establishes oversight office: National Drug Control Policy

So here we see the efforts of over 100 years of drug policy to stop people from using, enjoying and abusing drugs in the USA.  What has been the result?

“America is at war.  We have been fighting drug abuse for almost a century.  Four Presidents have personally waged war on drugs.  Unfortunately, it is a war that we are losing.  Drug abusers continue to fill our courts, hospitals, and prisons.  The drug trade causes violent crime that ravages our neighborhoods.  Children of drug abusers are neglected, abused, and even abandoned.  The only beneficiaries of this war are organized crime members and drug dealers.” — Stanford University

2fc723fa35b08b711797709df3d9235b

For an excellent article on the costs of the drug war in the US, please see:  (“The Hidden Costs of America’s War on Drugs” by Joseph D. McNamara, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

As it should be clear, the US Government, the FDA, the FBI and most mainstream churches in America have been playing the “Whack a Mole” game with drugs since the Puritans first landed at Plymouth Rock.   First they “Whack” one drug down.  Then another one pops up.  Then they eliminate one drug lord and then another one pops up.  They defeat one drug cartel and then another one takes its place.  Our drug enforcement agencies are so busy playing “Whack a Mole” that they don’t have any time to deal with the reasons behind the influence and attraction of drugs.  Instead they just keep on “Whacking Moles.”

  1. Defeat terrorism in the Mideast:

The beginning of terrorism in the Mideast can be traced back to the Assassins sect that began in the eleventh century.  Wikipedia notes the following:

“Assassins (Persian|حشاشين}} Hashashin) is a name used to refer to the medieval Nizari Ismailis.  Often described as a secret order led by a mysterious “Old Man of the Mountain”, the Nizari Ismailis were an Islamic sect that formed in the late 11th century from a split within Ismailism – itself a branch of Shia Islam.”

wac-a-terrorist

Modern terrorism is actually a form of asynchronous and asymmetric warfare.  One side being more powerful than the other side (asymmetric) forces the other side to avoid one to one confrontations or pitched battles in favor of random unpredictable strikes (asynchronous).   Terrorism is a means of striking back at a more powerful enemy and avoiding what might be an assured defeat by not confronting your opponent in a pitched battle.  History is full of episodes where fighters and even entire armies engaged in such warfare.  In the US, the Indian Wars often followed such methods of warfare.  The battle against Geronimo being a prime example.

Terrorism in the Mideast since George H.W. Bush and through the Obama administration seems to be following the pattern that I have called “Whack a Mole.”  Using drone attacks, surgical strikes, clean bombing, decapitation strikes, discriminant deterrence, hunter killer teams, kill boxes, and counterinsurgency attacks, the US military attempts to “neutralize” the power of the “terrorists” who have their own panoply of attack methods.

If you look at what has happened over the past twenty years in the Mideast in terms of the War on Terrorism, you can clearly see the “Whack a Mole” game at work.  We eliminate one of their leaders, they destroy some of our soldiers with bombs, IEDs or suicide attacks.  We then strike back at their leaders and then it is their turn again to kill us.  We “Whack” them and then they “Whack” back.

whack-a-moleEach time we kill one of their leaders, another one pops up to take their place.  Each enemy group we defeat seems to be immediately replaced by another enemy group.  Our Army, Navy Air Force, Marines, armament industries and politicians never seem to get tired of playing the “Whack a Mole” game.  Keep in mind, that while the game might be great fun for these groups, there is a cost to the game.   To date the financial and human costs are:

Financial Cost of the War on Terror : 

“A recent Brown University study, for example, pinned the cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria at about $3.6 trillion from 2001 to 2016, using the $1.6 trillion operations costs as a baseline but also accounting for counterterrorism costs.

Adding in money appropriated for war spending and on homeland security in 2017, the total reaches $4.79 trillion. This figure also includes future obligations for veterans medical and disability costs ($1 trillion through 2053) as well as interest on borrowing for wars.” — Politifact, Linda Qiu, October 27th, 2016.

Human Costs of the War on Terror:

Afghanistan and Pakistan:  173,000 dead and 183,000 seriously wounded.  (2001 to 2016)

Iraq:  1.9 million killed (1991 to 2003) and 1 million killed (2003 to 2015)

For the figures I used above as well as for other estimates and detailed breakdowns of casualty figures, see the following sources.  The above figures are low compared to some estimates.  None of these figures include the deaths in Libya, Syria, Israel, Turkey, USA or Palestine which should also be considered as deaths from the War on Terrorism.

  1. Stop the arms race:

The final example of a “Whack a Mole” game that we are caught in deals with our oft stated goal to stop creating more dangerous and more expensive weapons of war.  We call this the “arms race” and we have played it with Great Britain, France, Russia and now China.  I will briefly explain how the game works.  You will readily see that it is a version of the “Whack a Mole” game.

arms-race

Step 1, we conceive of a weapon that nobody else has or has even dreamt of having.  It must be dangerous, expensive, frightening and have the potential to kill millions or at least thousands.  Step 2, we spend billions of dollars on R&D to develop the weapon.  Step 3, we then spend billions of dollars to produce the weapon.  Step 4, we then sell the weapon to any military agency in our own country that will buy it.  Step 5, after a sufficient period of time has elapsed (but before the weapon is obsolete), we sell it to other friendly countries that will buy it.  We must start with the highest bidder.  Step 6, after we have sold it to all our allies or potential allies, we wait until they have sold it to any potential enemies.  This might take a year or so.  Finally, after our enemies have now acquired the same weapon potential (even if in a slightly modified form) we then loudly proclaim that:

“Our nation’s security and ability to defend itself is being undermined by the weapons that our enemies have.  We must build new and better weapon systems.  We must increase defense spending.  We risk falling behind in the ability to defend ourselves.”

Then we start the process all over again from Step 1.  

It is the “Whack the Mole” game, albeit a modified version of the game.  We build the weapons to whack our enemies and then they buy the weapons or build similar weapons to whack us back.  Then we build weapons to counter their weapons and then they build or buy weapons to counter our weapons.  We have been engaged in this game since 1776 with every single weapon system that has ever been devised.   Think of the Atom bomb.  How long did it take Russia to develop a similar bomb?  Think of the Hydrogen bomb.  How long did it take the Russians and others to develop a Hydrogen bomb?

Here is a list of rifles that have been used in the USA since the War of 1776.  The following list does not include carbines.  For a full list of weapon systems and their history see:  List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces – Wikipedia

  • M16A3 (5.56×45mm NATO) (USN SEALs and USN Seabees)
  • M16A2 (5.56×45mm NATO) (USAF, USCG, and US Army)
  • M27 IAR (Infantry Automatic Rifle) (5.56×45mm NATO) (USMC)
  • Mk 16 Mod 0 (5.56×45mm NATO) (USSOCOM)
  • Mk 17 Mod 0 (7.62×51mm NATO) (USSOCOM)
  • M14 SMUD (Stand-off Munition Disruption rifle) (7.62×51mm NATO) (USAF)
  • M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle (7.62 NATO) (USMC)
  • XM8 (Lightweight Assault Rifle system) (never issued) (5.56×45mm NATO)
  • XM29 (Kinetic Energy and Airburst Launcher System; 5.56×45mm NATO and 20 mm airburst munition (XM1018)(early)/25 mm airburst munition) (experiment canceled)
  • Advanced Combat Rifle entries (concluded 1991)
  • Future Rifle Program entries (canceled)
  • Special Purpose Individual Weapon (SPIW) entries (concluded/canceled)
  • FN FAL (battle rifle, trialled as T48 against the T44 and T47 to replace the M1: lost to the former)
  • Olin/Winchester Salvo Rifle (battle rifle, 5.56mm duplex)
  • M14E1 (Selective Fire Rifle, 7.62×51mm NATO) (never standardized)
  • M16A1 (5.56×45mm NATO)
  • AR-15/Colt Model 601/602 (5.56×45mm NATO rifle) (USAF and SOF use only)
  • XM22/E1 Rifle (Selective Fire Rifle, 5.56×45mm NATO)
  • Mk 4 Mod 0 (Suppressed Rifle, 5.56×45mm NATO)
  • M1 Garand Variants (E1-E6 and E9-E14) (Semi-Automatic Rifle, .30-’06)
  • Mk 2 Mod 0/1/2 (Semi-Automatic Rifle, 7.62×51mm NATO)
  • M1 Garand (Semi-automatic rifle, .30-06)
  • M1941 Johnson rifle (Semi-Automatic Rifle, .30-’06)
  • Model 45A
  • M1946 rifle (never used in active duty)
  • M1947 Johnson auto carbine (Semi-Automatic Rifle, .30-’06)
  • Gyrojet rifle (13 mm) (never issued)
  • Pedersen Rifle (.276) (competed unsuccessfully with M1 Garand to become primary service rifle)
  • Pedersen Device (attachment for Springfield M1903, .30 conversion)
  • M1918 BAR (.30-06)
  • M1903/A1/A3 (Bolt-action rifle; .30-03, .30-06)
  • M1917 Enfield (Bolt-action rifle)
  • Model 1907/15 Berthier rifle (Bolt-action rifle)[14]
  • M1916 Mosin–Nagant (Bolt-action rifle)[15]
  • M1895 Navy (Navy Lee, 6 mm Navy)
  • M1892/M1896/M1898 Rifle (a/k/a Krag Bolt Action Rifle; .30-40 Krag)
  • M1885 Remington-Lee (Bolt-action rifle; .45-70 Gov)
  • M1882 Short Rifle (.45-70 Gov.)
  • M1882 Remington-Lee (Bolt-action rifle; .45-70 Gov.)
  • M1879 Remington-Lee (Bolt-action rifle; .45-70 Gov.)
  • Remington-Keene rifle (Bolt-action rifle; .45-70 Gov.)[16]
  • M1875 Officers’ Rifle (.45-70 Gov.)
  • M1873/M1879/M1880/M1884/M1888/M1889 Springfield (a/k/a Trapdoor Springfield;.45-70 Gov..: .45-55-405 & .45-70-500)
  • M1872 Springfield (a/k/a Rolling Block Springfield; .50-70 Gov.)
  • M1865/M1866/M1868/M1869/M1870 Springfield (a/k/a Trapdoor Springfield; .50-70 Government)
  • Sharps carbine/rifle (Breech-loader; .42-60-410) (.52 caliber issued to Berdan’s 1st and 2nd US Sharpshooters in the US Civil War)
  • Henry rifle (Lever-action; .44-26-200)
  • Spencer rifle (Lever-action; 56-56 (.52-45-350))
  • M1863 Springfield
  • M1861 Springfield (.58)
  • Colt revolving rifle (Colt Model 1855; 6/5-shot revolver rifle;.44/.56)
  • Greene rifle (Bolt-action breech-loader)
  • P53 Enfield (.577 (.58))
  • P51 Enfield Musketoon (“Artillery Carbine”; 24″ barrel, .69)
  • Model 1854 Lorenz rifle (Rifle-musket, .54, .58)
  • M1859 Sharps (‘New model 1859’, breech loader; .52, .56)
  • M1855 Rifle-Musket
  • M1855 Rifle (Percussion muzzle-loader; 58-60-500)
  • M1847 Musketoon (Springfield, .69)
  • M1842 Musket (Percussion musket, .69)
  • M1841 Rifle “Mississippi Rifle” (percussion muzzle-loader;.54, .58)
  • M1840 Musket (flintlock musket;.69)(later percussion)
  • M1835 Springfield (flintlock musket; .67 cal)
  • M1819 Hall rifle (Harper’s Ferry;Breech-loader)
  • Model 1822 Musket (Flintlock Musket) .69 (later percussion)
  • Model 1816 Musket (Flintlock musket; .69) (Later Percussion)
  • Model 1817 Rifle (‘Common rifle’;Derringer, Johnson, North and Starr; Flintlock rifle, .54) (later percussion)
  • Model 1814 Common Rifle (Deringer, Johnson; Flintlock rifle; later percussion; .54)
  • Springfield Model 1812 Musket (Flintlock musket; .69)
  • Model 1808 Contract Musket (Flintlock musket; .69)
  • Harper’s Ferry Model 1803 Rifle (Flintlock rifle; .54)
  • Model 1795 Musket (Flintlock musket; .69)
  • 1792 contract rifle (Flintlock rifle; .49)
  • Charleville musket (Flintlock musket; .69)
  • Brown Bess (Musket; .75)
  • Kentucky Rifle (Flintlock rifle)
  • Ferguson rifle (Flintlock breech-loader; .69)

not-safe-yet

Do we call this progress?  Do you call this progress? 

Conclusions:

I started this blog off with the comment that if we fail to connect the dots and see the patterns in our lives, we are doomed to keep repeating them and failure will never be far away.  It is almost but not quite the same as forgetting the past.  There is indeed a similarity between my comment and Santayana’s famous quote.  However, I see it as a pattern that I have described as “Whack a Mole.”  How long will we go on whacking moles, killing people, spending money that could go to education, health care or eliminating poverty?

Time for Questions:

Do you think that we should be playing “Whack the Mole?”  How do we stop playing this game?  Do you think it is human nature to keep fighting and killing others?  Should we really be trying to ban every substance that people want to take?

Life is just beginning.

Falken:  Did you ever play tic-tac-toe?

Jennifer:  Yeah, of course.

Falken:  But you don’t anymore.

Jennifer:  No.

Falken:  Why?

Jennifer:  Because it’s a boring game. It’s always a tie.

Falken:  Exactly. There’s no way to win. The game itself is pointless! But back at the war room, they believe you can win a nuclear war. That there can be “acceptable losses.”

may_june_2014_cover_of_foreign_policy_magazine

The Road to Trumps Success Began 4,500 Years Ago

egypt-cairo-pyramids-of-giza-and-camels-2

The journey of Donald Trump from businessman to the head of the largest corporate state in the world did not as many assume start 12 months ago.  In fact, the roots of Trumps ascendancy can be traced back to at least 2,500 BCE.  Never before in history, has anyone with a business background and so little experience in either politics or military become the leader of a major state.  However, we did not see the buildup to this happening because most of the time we are focused on short-view trends and we miss entirely the long term trends that entail even more potent forces at play.

In numerous attempts to explain the election of Trump, most pundits have looked to the micro forces, such as international trade, disillusion among blue collar White males, the Affordable Care Act, distrust of Hillary Clinton, Russian interference in the election, White backlash and rising income inequality.  While these forces might explain Trump’s election they do not explain why America has now seen fit to elect a businessperson with no political experience as its 45th President.

In fact, the election of a person with a business background to run the country represents a major shift in power that has been taking place for nearly fifty years and can be linked to other power shifts since the beginning of recorded history.  In this blog, I will explain how and why we now find America being run by the elite of corporate America.  To do this, we must go back to the ancient Egyptians.

In approximately 2,500 BCE, the Pharaoh Khufu built the largest of the Pyramids known as the Great Pyramid of Giza as a burial chamber.  The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years.   It was one of three large pyramids built in the Giza complex.  Then as now, humans marked their sovereignty by creating tall structures to show their power and prestige.  This phenomenon has been so consistent that it provides an insight into the sovereign powers that rule that planet and the various power shifts that have occurred throughout history.

sovereign-buildings

I mean to use the term sovereign to express the possessing of supreme or ultimate power.  For nearly 3,000 years, Kings, Pharaohs, Dictators, Emperors and those born of royal blood who were “related to Gods” were the ultimate sovereigns over most of humankind.  The early Romans and Greeks made some attempts to commute the power of their rulers by selecting some representatives of the population but these were generally of royal blood themselves and seldom of plebeian birth.  Julius Caesar who tried to be a “man of the people” was himself born into a patrician family.

Around the fall of the Roman Empire in 400 CE, sovereign power shifted from the nobility to the Catholic Church (at least in Europe).  Bear in mind that the shifts I refer to did not take place overnight.  These transitions in power took place gradually over decades and with many tug of wars between the transitioning sovereigns.  It was Pope Leo (440 CE) who first asserted Papal primacy and he was supported by the Romans because of the political chaos in the West.  Pope Gelasius I (492 CE) declared that priestly power was abpower-of-the-popesove kingly power.  The Pope was supreme and no appeals could be made for his decision.  Sovereign power had now shifted to the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.
Throughout most of Europe, the clergy and other minions of the Catholic Church assumed roles of leadership and sovereignty.  As the power of the church grew, so did the churches, cathedrals and basilicas which they built.  Each one was larger than the last one and all were designed to be larger than any buildings of the nobility or royalty.  The Church catheldralmanifested its power in the grandeur and elegance of its buildings.

The Catholic Church remained the dominant sovereign power in Europe until the reign of Pope Boniface VIII.  The clash of the Church to remain dominant over the newly emerging nation/state rulers took place in an epic battle between Pope Boniface VIII (1294 734-conflict-church-monarchs-12-638CE) and King Phillip IV of France.  Several other skirmishes had already taken place between Popes and rulers in the decades preceding with the battles seesawing back and forth.  However, the decisive battle for sovereignty was between Pope Boniface VIII and King Phillip IV.  It was vicious and at times bloody.  It saw the end of Church sovereignty and the beginning of the
sovereignty of nation/state rulers.   Boniface was captured by forces loyal to Philip and was beaten and nearly executed.  He was released from captivity after three days and died a short time later.  His defeat marked the end of the power of the Church to rule and the rise of the power of rulers of nation/states.

There are four characteristics of a nation/state.  These are:

  • Defined territory
  • Self-Rule (Sovereignty)
  • Some form of organized government
  • A population of people sharing a national identity

versailles-and-giverny-day-trip-in-paris-115463During the period of nation/state rulers, they built some magnificent buildings such as Versailles in France, Castello Del Valentino in Italy, the Palace of Placentia in London and the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.  If not the largest buildings in each country, they dwarfed in overall grandeur and size the churches that had been built by the clergy.  The period of nation/state rulers lasted from about 1400 CE to the middle of the 19th century.

The power of most of these nation/state rulers (usually with some pedigree of nobility) began to wane as the people in each country demanded more and more input into economic and political decisions.  Eventually, the nobility in most European countries were forced to make concessions to the idea of democratic or at least some form of republican rule.  The transition from rulers to republics was insured by the rise of a new class which we today call politicians or bureaucrats.  In time, these professional politicians became sovereign and replaced the old style rulers by virtue of a concept called elections or voting.  No one voted for Henry the VIII of England or Czar Nicholas II of Germany or King Ferdinand of Spain, but with the emergence of State governments, politicians and bureaucrats would become the new sovereigns.

how-bureaucrats-captured-government

The rise of most modern states started about the mid seventieth century.  Increasingly, although rulers in many nations could still be very powerful and even dictators, there was now some agency in every country that attempted to provide a balance to the ruler’s power.  In England, they established a parliament in 1706 that was later characterized by a House of Lords and a House of Commons.  In France, they created a National Assembly in 1791.  In Germany, they established a parliament in the 1870’s.  By the beginning of the 20th Century, although many nations had still kept their nobility as a form of tradition, most of the reins of government were in the hands of bureaucrats or elected officials.  Prime Ministers and Presidents had replaced Kings and Queens in the political decision making process.

national-capitolThe new sovereigns started building.  No more castles or palaces were built to house the new rulers.  Instead, capitals, state houses and mansions would be the new domiciles for politicians and bureaucrats.  Government leaders were no different though than Kings and Clergy when it came to siting their residences.  They also sought the high ground to place their buildings on.  The tallest buildings in the land now belonged to the Government.  This situation would not last very long.  Even more changes were taking place.  In a few short years, nations would no longer have an exclusive on sovereignty.  A new challenger was rapidly emerging.

capitalists

The new challenger started to emerge with the first corporations which began over a thousand years ago.  However, until the power of mercantilism started to become critical to state and military power in the late 16th century, the early corporations were rather toothless.  An excellent book titled Power Inc. covers the rise of the modern corporation in much more detail than I shall go into here.  The book by David Rothkopf is fittingly subtitled:  “The Epic Rivalry between Big Business and Government–and the Reckoning That Lies Ahead.”   

“In his new book, Power, Inc., David Rothkopf sounds an alarm.  He argues that thousands of private actors who he calls “super citizens” now hold greater power than most countries in the world.  He notes, for instance, that corporations have grown to the point where roughly the richest two thousand are more influential than 70-80 percent of the world’s nations. Walmart, for example, has revenues higher than the GDP of all but 25 nations.” — Roy Ulrich, the Huffington Post

The capitalistic industries wasted no time in starting to construct new buildings that would soon dwarf all of the previous tombs, castles, cathedrals and capitals throughout the world.  These buildings are so tall that they have been labeled as “skyscrapers.”  The world’s first skyscraper was the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, erected in 1884-1885.  Its 138 foot peak would be dwarfed by skyscrapers today.  The Flatiron Building in NYC was built in 1902 and is twenty floors high and 307 feet to its peak.  The Empire State Building was built in 1931 in NYC and for many years it was the tallest building in the world standing over 100 stories and 1400 feet in height.

With the rapid economic development of many former third world countries there has been a proliferation of corporate skyscrapers with many countries vying for the honor of having the tallest building in the world.  Searching on Google for the “tallest buildings in the world” one finds the following information for buildings over 300 meters tall:

“As of 2016, this list includes all 135 buildings (completed and architecturally topped out) which reach a height of 300 meters (984 ft.) or more as assessed by their highest architectural feature.”Wikipedia

skyscrapersThe list includes skyscrapers built in China, United Arab Emirates, Dubai, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Russia and several other nations.   Perhaps presaging the emergence of China and Asia as the dominant world economies, Asia is already assuming the role of having many of the largest buildings in the world.  What we are witnessing is a contest of global economies vying for supremacy in terms of world economic sovereignty.  An interesting aside is that the world currency is considered a reflection of the nation that is the most powerful in this arena.  To date, the United States still holds that distinction but many are predicting the demise of the US dollar as the standard for world currency.

tpp-free-trade

But what does this have to do with Trump you may be starting to ask?  What does commercial sovereignty have to do with political sovereignty?  The answer to the second question is everything.  The major reason for the success of the Allied powers in both WWI and WWII was the economic might of the United States.  Economic power translates into military power and military power translates into political power.  This fact has been recognized for over 500 years now.  Spain’s ascendancy to a world power was built on its confiscation of wealth in the New World.  Hitler recognized that Germany could not be a dominant world power without confiscating the wealth of Jewish citizens and also of its neighboring countries.

“Great Britain was once a dominant military force in the World while it had a dominant economy.  At the start of the First World War, it devalued its exchange rate.  By the end of the War, owing to its military expenditure, it had large trade deficits and falling gold reserves.” — Buoyant Economies

The question of Trump brings a larger issue to the fore.  Generally, we have seen that as the dominant world power shifts, the leadership shifts along with it.  The features of buildings as a representation of power has followed these shifts.  However, in terms of the new power of corporations, it would seem that the buildings have been created before the shift in leadership.  That is until Trump became President of the United States of America.

a-corporate-worldIs Trump’s election an anomaly or does it truly represent the emergence of corporate power into the political arena?  My view on this is that Trump’s election is merely the tip of the iceberg.  For over 20 years now the United States has been electing more and more political leaders who are not politicians.  I am considering someone as not a politician if they are people who have not made a career of politics.

Many business people are jumping right into the political arena without experience in either local, state or federal government.  The founder of Electronic Data Systems, Ross Perot may be remembered by many voters as the ultimate tycoon-turned-politician.  Perot ran for president in 1992 and 1996 as a third-party candidate.

An article written in 2010 before Trump had become a candidate stated the following concerning the election of corporate people to public office:

“Whoever believes politics is big business must have seen this coming. The high levels of accountability from running a corporation and high expectations of seeking a seat in government have many parallels.  Amid this confluence of business and political streams, Chief Executive magazine dubbed 2010 “a high-water mark for the CEO as candidate.”

More than 40 business magnates – the presidents and founders of banks, restaurants and tech giants – are running for seats on Capitol Hill or for governor’s offices in 25 states. And looking ahead Donald Trump says he is “absolutely thinking about” a 2012 presidential bid.” — Ten Business Leaders with Politics in their Blood, by Bill Briggs

During the Republican runoff to the nomination of Trump, we saw Carly Fiorina who was a former CEO also emerge as a potential candidate.  We now have ten governors with no former elected government service.  Seven former US presidents with business experience have all been elected in the 20th or 21st century.  The following chart shows the net worth of the wealthiest senators in the US. Congress as of 2012.senator-net-worth

The next chart shows the average net worth of 90 incoming freshman representatives to the 113th US Congress

January 3, 2013 to January 3, 2015

Year Number of Freshmen Reports Average Net Worth Change from previous year
2011 90 $7,835,242 —-

More data can be found at Ballotpedia at https://ballotpedia.org/Main_Page

the-50-richest-people-on-earthMy point here is that most millionaires make their money in business.  On the 2016 Forbes lists of richest 400 people in the world, richest billionaires in the world and richest people in the world, the majority (about 2/3) have made their money in business.  Furthermore, they are self-made in that they did not inherit their fortunes.  Perusing Forbes, it is clear that the dominant path to becoming rich is to sell something that people want at a price they can afford.

It is clear that wealth accumulated to a business background has increasingly become a stepping stone to politics and political leadership.  Trumps presidency is the crown on the new sovereignty.  Business leaders are now rapidly replacing politicians and bureaucrats in the area of political leadership.  Already Trump’s nominees include the chief executive of Exxon Corporation; the chief executive of CKE Restaurants; the former chief executive of the World Wrestling Entertainment; a former Goldman Sachs executive; a billionaire investor; a right wing media executive and a former chief executive of Nucor Corporation.  These are only a few of the still to come appointments that Trump will make.

corporate-powerIt is my prediction that business leaders will continue to make the transition to political leadership.  The business model is now the sovereign model for world power.  The power of the state has been usurped by the power of big business.  Global power is corporate power.  The public is sick of career politicians.  The common people bring a (perhaps unfounded) belief in the power of business to save the world.  Considering that we have tried the power of academia, the power of science and the power of big government to save the world, perhaps the power of business can do better.  One might argue that they can at least do no worst.

Conclusion:

From Khufu to Trump, we have now briefly (my apologies for many simplifications and no doubt omissions in history) covered 4,500 years of political and economic history in a short seven or so pages.  I can see the great historians and economists of the world having fits at my narrative. Nevertheless, my thesis remains.  Simply put Trump is now the successor to Khufu, Caesar, Pope Boniface, Henry the VIII, Bismarck, Churchill and Roosevelt.  Big business is now the dominant sovereign power in the world.  How long will it last?  How long will it take all politicians to be replaced by business people?  I have no answers to these questions; but one must assume that somewhere down the road, another sovereign power will emerge or may already be emerging.  Until then, be prepared for most decisions to have a “let’s make a deal” flavor to them.

Time for Questions:

How long will the reign of big business last?  How long will it take politicians to all be replaced by business people?  Will business succeed in making the world a better place?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service . . . And during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

Thus, I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.

I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.

Our boys were sent off to die with beautiful ideals painted in front of them. No one told them that dollars and cents were the real reason they were marching off to kill and die.”
― General Smedley Butler

“Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile unless accomplished in ways that would work the utmost mischief to the entire body politic. We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to serve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

Irony, Paradox and Serendipity or why a Donkey knew best!

Once upon a time, back when animals could talk and people did not rule the world, there was a donkey named Isaiah.  Isaiah was the wisest animal in the land.  He knew everything about life and death.  All of the animals, even the owls came to Isaiah when they had a question they could not answer or when they had a key decision to make.  The most intelligent people in the world would also come to Isaiah when they had a problem they could not figure out.   Isaiah was not only  intelligent but he was kind as well.  Now that might seem like a paradox to some.  Can we be intelligent and also kind?  Were not managers at Enron the “smartest men in the room?”  Maybe, but Enron’s senior management would hardly seem to qualify as kind when you consider the damage they did to the lives of their employees.   In truth, it often seems that the greatest paradoxes of all time, involve the harm done by “highly intelligent people.”  The world is full of examples of smart people who do great harm because they care little for the feelings or welfare of others. Fortunately for the world, Isaiah was not this kind of creature.  He was the epitome of wisdom because he combined intelligence with feelings and empathy for others.

No matter what the problem, Isaiah would always consider the potential damage and impact on others of his decisions and choices.  Whenever he reasoned out a problem, the morals and ethics of the problem were just as important to Isaiah as the solutions.  A solution which caused damage to anyone was not seen as a good solution.   Many of the people and animals were skeptical that Isaiah could always find a win-win solution but somehow Isaiah always did.  Most people find that the key decisions they make result in ironic outcomes that they would not have been able to predict.  This was not the case with Isaiah’s solutions.  His outcomes were never ironic.  Isaiah seemed to have the ability (like Merlin) to foresee the future.  Within the unlimited possibilities of various time-lines that the future laid out, Isaiah could always find the optimal path.

Once when one of the animals asked Isaiah how he managed to construct such robust solutions, he attributed his ability to serendipity.  According to Isaiah, his ideas were often happy accidents which surprised him with their elegance and simplicity.  But how could serendipity be the answer when his batting average was 100 percent.  Thus, another paradox, how could serendipitous decision-making result in outcomes that are always beneficial?   Luck may favor the prepared mind but even luck has its limits.  Isaiah’s abilities seemed to be more of the miraculous nature than of a serendipitous nature.  If so, this is truly ironic, since Isaiah did not believe in ghosts, gods, angels or miracles.

However, as with all good things, they must eventually come to an end.  Isaiah grew old in years and tired in body if not sometimes in spirit.  He had less energy for solving the problems of the world and gradually the animals and humans stopped coming to him for solutions.  The various species retreated further and further from each other.  Humans started building houses and walls and fences to keep themselves in and animals out.  Ironically, the further they went from each other, the more they mistrusted each other. Fear led to mistrust, mistrust led to suspicion.  The once harmonious relationship that existed between animals and humans dissolved in a mist of animosity and betrayal.

Friends started killing and eating friends and inexorably neither side could trust the other side.  Excuses for killing others became the norm and a human declared a theory called “Survival of the Fittest.”  Within this theory, might became right, power made the rules and the “fittest” could dominate those deemed as less fit.  Whole species were seen as suitable for consumption or slavery by other species.  Everyone was a commodity.  Anyone with no commercial value went to the bottom of the economic pie.  Human Resources became the norm in business and English Majors, History Majors, Art Majors and Philosophy Majors were paid less than high school dropouts.  Those who were loyal to the economic engines of society were given status and high paying jobs.

Sadly, Isaiah saw all this, but could find no solutions to the problems or trends.  Eventually, though he lived for many hundreds of years, people just regarded him as that “dumb old donkey” who did not say much.  As time passed, most people and animals even forgot that Isaiah had a brain or could speak.  Isaiah did not feel the need to disabuse anyone of their conceptions and so he just kept to himself.  At the age of 5887 years Isaiah died.  His body was sent to a glue factory to be processed.  He left no legacy of writings, nor any erudite body of knowledge, nor any great poetry nor any glorious music to be remembered by.  Just another old donkey that croaked, so who cares!

Some, if they had known Isaiah might have chided him for not posting his ideas and thoughts on Facebook or YouTube.  At least that way, he might have achieved some measure of fame if not fortune.  Ironically, or paradoxically, or serendipitously, (choose one), it never occurred to Isaiah to become Internet or Google savvy or famous or rich.  History may someday rediscover his genius and perhaps he will yet be remembered in homage to his major contributions to world peace for thousands of years.  Stranger things than that have happened of late on the Internet.

By the way, it is generally believed or was at least “once upon a time” that Isaiah (and not Euripides or Aeschylus or Sophocles) was the Father of Irony, Paradox and Serendipity and that these concepts were widely used by him in his conversations and discussions with other humans and animals. Thus, while the words today bear an etymology that derives from Greek vocabulary, their usage in practice and ideology must be attributed to Isaiah the Donkey.

Time for Questions:

Can you give me an example of irony or serendipity or paradox in your life?  What do ideas matter anyway or do they?  What if everyone was a philosophy major?  What would happen if more people practiced kindness instead of hate?  What value do animals have?  Are they just commodities?  What if we were all vegetarians?  Would it make any difference to the world?

Life is just beginning. 

Autobiographies from the Dead – Ed the Soldier

For the next several weeks, my blogs are going to consist of “autobiographies” written by some very special people.  They have one thing in common.  They are all dead.  Some have a burial place and some were simply discarded like pieces of trash.  Their stories will be told by the deceased themselves.  They cry out from the fields, rivers and graveyards to speak.  I have heard their cries.  They want me to tell their stories to you.  They want you to know what their living and dying was for.  This week, Ed will tell you the story of his life and death.

Ed the Soldier

My soldier squadI was brave and loyal.  I gave my all for the corp.  I was taught to respect and obey authority.  Right or wrong, it was my job to follow orders.  I never questioned my assignments.  I never questioned my Sargent or my Captain.  As was said in the famous poem, “mine was to do or die and not to question why.”   I am looking now at my body and those of my nine squad members.  We had one medic, three guys with M-16’s, one guy with an MGL-140, one guy with a Barrett .338 Lapua Magnum, one guy with an MPIM/SRAW rocket, one radio guy or in this case a radio gal, Sarge our Squad Leader and of course me also carrying a good old US issue M-16 along with a bunch of grenades.

Iran_Iraq_War_Dead_SoldiersIt looks like my arms and chest have been shot full of holes.  However, I think it was the two bullets that caught me in my brain which finished me off.  My head looks like it was stuck in a meat grinder.  Most of my squad does not look much better.  There are a few guys minus heads, some missing legs and others missing body parts.  A good jig saw puzzler could not put us all back together again.  I can’t believe the number of bullets that hit us.  One minute we were joking around and the next minute it sounded like a Fourth of July celebration.  The difference being that we were the targets and the bullets and rockets were lighting us up instead of the sky.  What happened to our vaunted Intel?

recruitingI enlisted right out of high school.  I did not want to go to college and I could not think of anything else to do.  I went down to my Army recruiting office and was scheduled immediately with an appointment.  I did not have to wait long.  About thirty minutes later, a well-dressed very sharp looking soldier came out of an office to greet me.  “Son” he said, “You have come to the right place. We will fix you up so that you can serve your country and really make a difference in the world.  Do you want your parents and friends to look up to you?  Do you want to be get laid more than you could ever dream possible?  Do you want to be a real hero and not some phony cardboard actor hero, then just sign right here.”

“My boy, you have just saved the free world.  Welcome to the US Army.” 

After basic training, they said I had been selected for a tour in Iraq.  They said it would be easy soldiers with chidren 2duty.  It would just be some mopping up operations and nothing really tough.  The really tough stuff had been done months before.  And besides that, the “ragheads” could not shoot straight so we had nothing to worry about.  Each day we went out on patrol to a different village or a different part of the same village.  They all looked alike.  Some of the Soldiers with childrenlocals seemed friendly, but most just ignored us.  Kids would come over and ask us for candy or cigarettes when they would see us walking.  We were taught to trust no one but after a while you got to know certain kids and you would give them candy or sometimes some money.

The women really kept to themselves.  You hardly ever saw any on the street and if you did they were always covered from head to toe.  We were not allowed to have any alcohol as it is illegal in Muslim countries.  There wasn’t much to do all day long soldiers on reconexcept when we were on patrol.  Most of the fun we had was out in the villages.  We loved to play pranks on each other.  On one patrol, one of the guys had hid behind a wall and as we started to walk by, he threw a dummy grenade at us.  We scattered like rabbits and waited for it to go off.  After a few seconds, we could hear laughter coming from behind the wall.  We soon realized that it was one of our guys.  He was laughing so hard, it gave him cramps.  It took us weeks but we figured out how to get even with him.  I guess we were always really wound up when out on patrol, so it was not hard to find something to break up the tension.  Often it would involve shooting at anything that seemed sinister or menacing.

The Soldiers of Company F

The Soldiers of Company F “Blues Platoon,” 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, move forward, almost shoulder to shoulder, with live ammo while practicing team movement drills at an Advanced Close Quarters Marksmanship course at Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, May 13. The ACQM course is meant to sharpen the Soldiers skills before moving north to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The day we got it was like any other day, nothing unusual about it.  It was bright, sunny and warm.  We had an assignment to check out a village that had been quiet for some time.  We were on foot patrol.  Ten of us joking and clowning around.  Some kids had just run by and yelled “Go home Americans” at us.  We threw some candy at them and laughed as they scrambled to pick it up.  As we turned the corner of a street, we saw some quick movement in a doorway and some guys running across the roof tops.  We raised our rifles to fire but it was too late.  The grenades and RPG’s burst all around us and then the AK 47 fire started.  We never had a chance.  There must have been about fifty of them.  We never thought that there were that many bad guys left.  One by one we went down.  I never even got off a round.

I can see them now.  They are picking over our bodies.  They are taking cash, weapons, armor and anything else of value.  The little kids are there too.  They are kicking us in the heads or what is left of our heads.  I even saw one kid who I thought was my friend (I gave him many snicker bars) come running up and kick me in my head.   He then took out his wiener and pissed on me.   It seems like a holiday for them.  They are all so happy.  Like one big celebration.  They are laughing and patting each other on the back.  I can hear one guy in English saying:  “I guess these fucking Americans will go home now.”  Another one replied:  “Yeah, home or Jahannam.”

I know I was supposed to be a hero.  I thought I was making the world safe for democracy.  Where did it all go wrong?  Looking down at our bodies now, it does not seem like we really accomplished much.  It looks like they would have been happier if we had never come.  I guess I might be a hero when my body comes back to Ohio.  I never got laid either.

soldiers in casketsI can’t hang around here much longer.   I can’t bear the sadness.  It is time to leave.  I was brought up as a good Christian.   I am sure that there must be a reason for all this.  My pastor said “God’s ways are unknowable.”   I am going to go find God.  I am sure he can tell me what this was all for.

Time for Questions:

Do we fight for the right reasons?  Do we simply fight the wars that our leaders tell us we should?  Do we question whether we should fight or negotiate?  Are we fighting wars for gold or for justice?  Can we be proud that we are the “land of the free and the home of the brave?”  Are we fighting for the rights of humanity or for our own National pride?  Do you question authority or do you simply go along?

Life is just beginning.

The following excerpt is from “War is a Racket” by Major General Smedley Butler.  General Butler was one of the most highly decorated soldiers in WWI.  He won two Medal of Honor and at the time of his death was the most decorated Marine in United States history. 

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

 

 

Killing for Machismo

It was a crime of passion

She took me by the heart when she took me by the hand

Crime of passion

A beautiful woman and a desperate man  —- Ricky Van Shelton

I find it ironic that there are Seven Deadly Sins or vices but they do not include the “Sin of Machismo.”  I would venture to argue that there are more people killed in the world every day because of Machismo than any other cause or problem that you could name.  To not include Machismo in any list of major crimes or sins or vices, is one of the most egregious oversights in history.  Is it because Machismo is a uniquely masculine concept that it has never acquired the degree of condemnation that it merits?  Or is it an example of the “Fish being the last one to see the water.”   Some would argue that it is more likely a blatant example of sexism.   

Men extol Machismo, reward Machismo, give medals for Machismo, High Five Machismo, glorify Machismo, drink toasts to Machismo, pat each other on the back for Machismo, die for Machismo and happily kill each other for Machismo.  A Macho man never cries, never shows pain, never is soft, never loses, never surrenders, never shows fear, never gives quarter, never is remorseful and never ever changes a diaper.  You are not a “Real” man if you don’t have Machismo.  Machismo is the foundation for masculinity in every culture in the world.

Ma·chis·mo

  [mah-cheez-moh, –chiz-, muh-]  

1.  a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes or concomitants of masculinity.

2. a strong or exaggerated sense of power or the right to dominate: The military campaign was an exercise in national machismo.

 There are two opposite concepts to Machismo.  You may ask how you can have two opposites.  Well here is a case in which two opposites of a concept exist.   The first opposite to Machismo is “femininity.”  Femininity is soft, warm, supportive, nurturing, accepting, forgiving and the first to change the diapers.  Femininity represents everything that Machismo is not.  No one ever killed another or beat another to death because their “Femininity” was questioned.  We don’t go to war because our “Femininity” was questioned nor do we invade another country to protect our “Femininity.” 

 “Machismo makes no provision for preparing lunch, doing the laundry, or minding the baby.”  — Mason Cooley

The second opposite of Machismo is Gayness.  Gay is not tough.  Gay is “queer.”   A “Real” man is not Gay.  Gay men must be feminine since they cannot be Machismo.  Gay men don’t play football or baseball or soccer or box or join the military since only “Real” Men do these things.  If you are Gay, you can be a hair dresser or actor or flight attendant but you cannot be a police officer, firemen or truck driver since these “Real” men professions require one to be Machismo.  Gays and Machismo are antithetical.

 “The tragedy of machismo is that a man is never quite man enough.” —  Germaine Greer

The number of women that are abused each year by men was the recent focus of a World Health Organization Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women (2013)Among the findings were the follows:

  • One in 3 women worldwide is a victim of physical or sexual violence, resulting in a global health epidemic, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.
  •  Most of these females are attacked or abused by their boyfriends or husbands. “This is an everyday reality for many, many women,” Charlotte Watts, author of the report and a health policy expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said to Reuters.
  • Nearly 38% of all women murder victims were killed by intimate partners, according to the report, which was co-authored by Watts and Claudia Garcia-Moreno of the WHO.
  •  Forty-two percent of females who have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner suffer injuries, the authors explained.

Common health issues they noted in the study include:

What are the reasons that men kill and abuse women?  Experts identify different reasons for domestic abuse than for murder but the bottom line for both comes down to control and power.

“Most experts say there is no one profile of men who batter or beat women.  Domestic violence crosses all social and economic boundaries.  According to Dr. Susan Hanks, Director of the Family and Violence Institute in Alameda, California, men batter because of internal psychological struggles. Usually, men who batter are seeking a sense of power and control over their partners or their own lives, or because they are tremendously dependent on the woman and are threatened by any moves on her part toward independence.” 

Some reasons given for the abuse by those who study domestic violence include:  jealousy, envy, inferiority, anger, revenge, alcoholism, and simple sadism.  Seldom do you see the issue of Machismo on any of these lists.  However, while there may be different factors precipitating the abuse and violence, without the underlying foundation of Machismo, you would not have the resulting abuse.  Machismo is the “entitlement to dominate.”  If you remove the “entitlement” you remove the abuse and violence.  For instance, if I find my wife going out with another man and I become jealous; it is my “Right to dominate” that gives me the privilege to attack her or the other man.  If I do not believe in a “Right to dominate,” I can divorce my spouse, request counseling, ignore her unfaithfulness, but I will not abuse her. 

Think of all the instances that you read in the paper of stalking, abuse and murder.  In every one of these cases, there is the assumption that is seldom mentioned by psychologists that Machismo gives men the “right to power.”  In fact, not to act on this right is to acquiesce ones maleness.  It is to give up the Machismo that is culturally at the heart of our masculinity.  The strength of this concept of masculinity varies across cultures but few cultures in the world lack the concept of Machismo though it may be called something else:

  • Code of Chivalry
  • Knights Honor
  • Warriors Code

 There is an underlying Machismo in all of these codes that is designed to instill a behavior in a culture which exhorts men to stand up for themselves and their beliefs.  By itself, this would not be bad.  Men must defend their families and countries when necessary.  However, when it comes to defending the more ambiguous elements of honor, reputation, face, dignity, respect and self-esteem, the resort to arms and violence becomes counterproductive.  Solomon Schimmel in “The Seven Deadly Sins” notes that the Sin of Pride led President George Bush to want to humiliate Saddam Hussein while Hussein claimed to be fighting for “Arab dignity.”  How many wars have been fought for national pride or national honor? 

One could make the argument that most if not all wars were not over territory, religion or economics but over national pride.  The Greeks went to war with the Trojans not over Helen but because their masculine pride had been insulted.  Hitler started WWII to avenge Germany’s defeat and loss of face in WWI.  The USA went to war in Vietnam to show the communists that capitalism was more powerful.  Pride is the greatest of all sins identified by religious leaders and philosophers.  However, it is not pride but Machismo which is the trigger to violence and war.  Pride may be the apparent foundation, but Pride by itself does not cause war or violence.  Indeed, a healthy pride mixed with a certain degree of humility is a goal to be pursued by both individuals and nations. 

The danger is that Pride mixed with Machismo creates a volatile concoction which is the source of most violence in the world.  Take any of the Seven Deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Anger, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, and Sloth, mix these with a sense of Machismo and you have the recipe for violence.  Machismo confers the right to act on our impulses and to compel others or dominate others that create our internal conflicts.  Without Machismo, we would have to find other means to dispel the psychological problems that arise in each of us.  Machismo allows us to circumvent any introspection by demanding that our honor be revenged or that our pride be restored.  Machismo demands the duel and the Code Duello specifies the rules for killing. 

“The two men stared at each other. Assumptions were made, judgments rendered, dicks measured.” — Jennifer Estep

Time for Questions:

Can women be Machismo?  What would you be like if you had less Machismo in your character?  Can someone have too little Machismo?  What evil do you see in the world that you would contribute to Machismo?  What positive effects of Machismo do you see?  How can we minimize the negative effects of Machismo? 

Life is just beginning.

 

 

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