A real Glock is part plastic — a different plastic — and part steel. I am surprised no one has printed a Glock frame and mated it with steel parts yet. Or have I simply missed it?
We often hear about Nazi super-weapons — there was a whole cable channel dedicated to Hitler, wasn’t there? — but the Japanese had submarine aircraft carriers by the end of the war:
The I-400 subs were the largest ever built until the Ethan Allen-class of nuclear subs in 1961. The I-400 subs not only could travel one and a half times around the world without refueling, they carried three Aichi M6A1 attack planes, which they launched off their bow when surfaced, effectively making them underwater aircraft carriers.
Soon after the war, the US Navy sank the captured super-subs, to test its new top-secret “robot” torpedo — but really to keep them out of our supposed Allies’ hands:
The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, or HURL, has found the rusting hulks off the coast of Oahu.
Now all they need is a little clean-up and a Wave Motion Engine…
In August of 1917, Admiral George A. Ballard, Senior Naval Officer-in-Charge at Malta, reported to the Admiralty that the Japanese had rendered invaluable service in escorting troop transports since their arrival at Malta:
French standards of efficiency are certainly lower than British, however, and Italian standards are lower still. With the Japanese it is otherwise. Admiral Sato’s destroyers are kept in a highly serviceable condition and spend at least as large a proportion of their time at sea as our own, which is far from being the case with the French and Italian vessels of any class. The Japanese moreover are very independent in all matters of administration and supply whereas the French will never do anything for themselves if they can get it done for them.
(Hat tip to our Slovenian guest.)
Edit: Photo added!
Nelson Mandela led not only the African National Congress, or ANC, but also Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Spear of the Nation, its armed wing:
In 1983, the Church Street bomb was detonated in Pretoria near the South African Air Force Headquarters, resulting in 19 deaths and 217 injuries. During the next 10 years, a series of bombings occurred in South Africa, conducted mainly by the military wing of the African National Congress.
In the Amanzimtoti bomb on the Natal South Coast in 1985, five civilians were killed and 40 were injured when MK cadre Andrew Sibusiso Zondo detonated an explosive in a rubbish bin at a shopping centre killing five people, including three children, shortly before Christmas. In a submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the ANC stated that Zondo acted on orders after a recent SADF raid in Lesotho.
A bomb was detonated in a bar on the Durban beach-front in 1986, killing three civilians and injuring 69. Robert McBride received the death penalty for this bombing which became known as the “Magoo’s Bar bombing”. Although the subsequent Truth and Reconciliation Committee called the bombing a “gross violation of human rights”, McBride received amnesty and became a senior police officer.
In 1987, an explosion outside a Johannesburg court killed three people and injured 10; a court in Newcastle had been attacked in a similar way the previous year, injuring 24. In 1987, a bomb exploded at a military command centre in Johannesburg, killing one person and injuring 68 personnel.
The bombing campaign continued with attacks on a series of soft targets, including a bank in Roodepoort in 1988, in which four civilians were killed and 18 injured. Also in 1988, in a bomb detonation outside a magistrate’s court killed three. At the Ellis Park rugby stadium in Johannesburg, a car bomb killed two and injured 37 civilians.
The TRC found that torture was “routine” and was official policy – as were executions “without due process” at ANC detention camps particularly in the period of 1979–1989.
South African police statistics indicate that, in the period 1976 to 1986, approximately 130 deaths were attributed to the Umkhonto we Sizwe. Of these, about thirty were members of various security forces and one hundred were civilians. Of the civilians, 40 were white and 60 black.
Wikipedia’s suggested further reading is literally Communist propaganda:
- Vladimir Shubin (Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences), “Unsung Heroes: The Soviet Military and the Liberation of Southern Africa”, Cold War History, Vol. 7, No. 2, May 2007
- Vladimir Shubin, Moscow and ANC: Three Decades of Co-operation and Beyond
- Rocky Williams, see articles in the Journal of Security Sector Management and others
The Boston bomb squad’s defining day wasn’t what they trained for:
Several years after 9/11, I conducted training with a military bomb unit charged with guarding Washington, DC. Our final exam was a nightmare scenario—a homemade nuke at the Super Bowl. Our job was to defuse it while the fans were still in the stands, there being no way to quickly and safely clear out 80,000 people. That scenario made two fundamental assumptions that are no longer valid: that there would be one large device and that we would find it before it detonated.
Boston showed that there’s another threat, one that looks a lot different. “We used to train for one box in a doorway. We went into a slower and less aggressive mode, meticulous, surgical. Now we’re transitioning to a high-speed attack, more maneuverable gear, no bomb suit until the situation has stabilized,” Gutzmer says. “We’re not looking for one bomber who places a device and leaves. We’re looking for an active bomber with multiple bombs, and we need to attack fast.”
A post-Boston final exam will soon look a lot different. Instead of a nuke at the Super Bowl, how about this: Six small bombs have already detonated, and now your job is to find seven more—among thousands of bags—while the bomber hides among a crowd of the fleeing, responding, wounded, and dead. Meanwhile the entire city overwhelms your backup with false alarms. Welcome to the new era of bomb work.
(Hat tip to Bruce Schneier.)
Tear gas canisters were fired through the windows in an attempt to subdue the 59-year-old, who lived in the east of the capital, Reykjavik.
When this failed he was shot after firing at police entering the building. Between 15 and 20 officers took part.
Back-up was provided by special forces.
The tear gas was used when the man, who has not been named, failed to respond to police attempts to contact him and continued shooting.
When they entered the apartment, two members of the special forces were injured by shotgun fire — one in the face, the other in the hand.
Iceland’s police, like the English bobbies of old, don’t carry guns. Only their “special forces” do. Oh, and they’re called the Viking Squad.
I love how the only explanation for their low crime rate is their equality, and not, say, the fact that everyone knows everyone else and is rather closely related — even more so than in Japan, I’d guess.
(Hat tip to Reason‘s Hit & Run.)
John Derbyshire was not the least bit surprised or puzzled to read about the Knockout Game:
In the first place, scrappy young men are anyway inclined to that sort of thing. In 1960s pre-Beatles Liverpool where I was a schoolteacher, the fad was for “nutting.” There is a certain way of throwing your upper body forward and down so that your forehead impacts the bridge of the counterparty’s nose, causing sudden intense pain, a gush of blood from the nostrils, and momentary loss of consciousness.
(Do not try this at home. There’s a trick to it that needs practice.) There was nothing racial in it, although Liverpool, an old seaport, was considerably diverse: Most nuttings were white-on-white.
In the second place, in Western multiracial societies, whites are the wimps. Every other race asserts itself, lobbies, agitates, makes demands, and is given quotas, preferences, and privileges. Only whites cringe, defer, and grovel. It is natural to feel contempt for people who are so ashamed of their ancestors and of their own existence.
And in the third place, blacks in the generality hate nonblacks. Why would they not? Everything in the dominant culture encourages them to. [...] You’d be mad, too.
In the warming-up days of a Frontier campaign, John Masters says, the rules and regulations governing their actions were irksome in the extreme:
The troubled area was delimited and called the ‘proscribed area.’ Outside the prescribed area we might not take any action at all until shot at. Inside it we might not fire at any band of less than ten men unless they were (a) armed and (b) off a path. These were dangerous conditions in a country where arms can be concealed close to flowing clothes, and where paths are tracks invisible from a hundred yards. One day in this war, after a minor shooting affray, my company caught a young Pathan wandering along a goat track that led away from the recent fight. He was admiring the scenery and looked very innocent, but he had a rifle tucked inside his robes. We inspected him closely and found four empty places in his otherwise full cartridge belt, and the chamber and barrel of his rifle were dirty. Had had not had time to clean it. It was a moral and legal certainty that he had taken part in the fight and my subadar, a bloodthirsty little man named Naule, wanted to shoot him on the spot — or rather, after a small exercise in legalism. He urged me to let the young man go and, when he was a hundred yards off, fire a bullet past his ear. He would jump for cover off the goat track and would then be off a path, armed, and in a proscribed area — in brief, lawful game. I was sorry that I had to say no to this suggestion, and I still don’t know why I did. I was here to kill Pathan and look after my company, and this would have been a step towards both aims. But I sent the prisoner back under guard to the adjutant at battalion headquarters, who in turn would pass him on to the Political Agent for further questioning.
That evening I heard the sequel. The adjutant ordered the armourers to inspect his rifle again. Under pretence of examining it they took the weapon in a vice and secretly bent the barrel a fraction of an inch, not enough to notice but enough to cause an explosion and perhaps blow the young man’s hand off next time he fired. They did this because they knew the young man would shortly be delivered to the politicals and, like all soldiers, they were not sure which side the politicals were on.
Jerry Miculek carves a turkey — his way:
OK, guys, as you can see, this is my trusty .460 Weatherby. I bought it years ago anticipating having trouble with rhinoceroses in the garden. The rhinos never came, so I had to find other ways to entertain myself with this package. So, Thanksgiving was rolling around, there was a turkey available, so I figured, well, this would sliced and dice a turkey pretty good.
An army exists to advance by force — or the threat of force — civil policies that cannot be advanced by civil methods, John Masters reminds us:
The Government of India’s Frontier policy was always the same — the quickest possible re-establishment of tranquility. The army’s immediate task to achieve this invariable object depended on the circumstances of the particular trouble. It might be to break up the big armed bands, or lashkars, with which a tribe was defying the government. It might be to force the tribe to recall a lashkar of theirs that had gone over the border and was raising hell in Afghanistan. It might be to build a road, an airfield, or a new Scout fort in a hitherto inaccessible area, and so destroy the usefulness of that section as a refuge for outlaws and trouble makers. It might be to capture an important ringleader and arrest his personal followers — though the army was singularly unsuited to such a role.
The core of our problem in the army was to force battle on an elusive and mobile enemy. The enemy, while he retained any common sense, tried to avoid battle and instead fight us with pinpricking hit-and-run tactics. We had light automatic guns, howitzers, armoured cars, tanks, and aircraft. The Pathan had none of these things, yet when he tried to even up the disparity, and cumbered himself with stolen automatics or home-made artillery, he suffered heavily, because they constituted impediments, things that were difficult to move but were worth defending. And when he stayed and defended something, whether a gun or a village, we trapped him and pulverized him. When he flitted and sniped, rushed and ran away, we felt as if we were using a crowbar to swat wasps.
Even so, the scales were not so heavily loaded as it appears, for we fought with one hand behind our backs. We were usually denied a soldier’s greatest weapon — aggression, the first shot. Again the government remembered its object, the re-establishment of tranquillity, and reminded us that there would be no tranquillity among these proud and fierce people, however quickly we forced them into mere surrender, if we fought our campaign on unnecessarily ruthless lines. In ‘normal’ warfare armies bomb cities and destroy the enemy food supply without compunction, but we had to be careful not to harm women and children if we could help it, and we could not shoot on suspicion, only on certainty, and we could not damage fruit trees or destroy water channels.
Gun-nut Tim challenges the double standard on violence:
Americans voraciously consume media content that is absolutely loaded with violence, and openly discuss this content in polite society all the time. Not long ago I was involved in a conversation where a few of the people wandered into the topic of a TV show called “Game of Thrones”, a series I’ve never seen, and particularly one episode of the series colloquially referred to as “The Red Wedding”. These people described, in excruciating detail, a scene of blood-soaked murder and mayhem all the way down to the sounds made when one character had her throat cut.
These same people get visibly uncomfortable any time the words “self defense” even come up. When I briefly and very generally described an officer involved shooting that an aquaintence had been involved in some time ago, they spoke as if the acquaintance must be some sort of moral degenerate or psychopath for actually stating that he had no intention of dying alone the day he was assaulted by a man wanted for murder.
I don’t get it. They’ll watch portrayals of violence on screen with relish and glee, never missing an episode of a show that almost fetishizes real acts of violence against largely undeserving people that have made the headlines. Yet if somebody mentions actually putting a bullet in one of the monsters who is causing all sorts of mayhem for real in a legitimate act of self defense, suddenly there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth?
It reminds me of a time when I was at a function with a girlfriend and someone in the group of her friends mentioned that I was an occasional hunter with the same look on their face a baby gets the first time they taste a lemon. One particularly smarmy dude in the group whom I had pretty much despised from the getgo due to personality flaws so big they could probably be seen from space, decided to announce that anyone who took pleasure in the death of an animal was some sort of psychopath. I noticed he was attempting this passive-aggressive callout in between bites of a steak while wearing a leather belt, expensive leather shoes, and carrying an expensive leather man-purse he’d picked up on a European trip. I don’t really do passive aggressive. I’m more aggressive-aggressive, and when presented with this nonsense I decided to (figuratively) choke him on his A1 flavored hypocrisy. I pointed out that someone who was crowing about a mouth full of critter dead at someone else’s hand probably didn’t have any real cause to feel morally superior to the guy who actually kills the critter himself before eating it.
Our culture seems intent on denying some basic realities of the world. People who will watch hours of blood soaked mayhem on TV for entertainment will turn right around and allege that violence never solves anything when the subject of self defense comes up. They’ll follow the exploits of serial killers and madmen with fascination but if a police officer or ordinary citizen fires on such a person and doesn’t seem to be much bothered by having done so, somehow the good guy is the monster? Hundreds or thousands can be killed by lifestyle criminals with long records of unjustified violence and it draws no notice, but if somebody actually shoots one of those perpetrators mid-act a bunch of people want to wring their hands and fret over vigilantism.
North Waziristan exemplified the British system along the Northwest Frontier in the 1930s:
The Political Agent, North Waziristan, had his headquarters near the middle of his area, at Miranshah, where there were a fort and an airfield. He lived inside the fort, where also were the headquarters of the Tochi Scouts. The Scouts also held a few small Beau Geste forts scattered around the country, each garrisoned by perhaps two hundred and fifty Pathan officers and scouts, and one British officer. The Scouts’ only armament was rifles and a few immobile machine-guns for defence of the forts.
Once or twice a week each post commander would leave a part of his force inside the fort and take the rest out on patrol. If the patrol had no particular purpose it was called a gasht; but if it was specifically punitive in purpose — in which case the Political Agent would usually accompany it — it was called by the delightfully onomatopoeic name of barampta. Gasht or barampta, the Scouts covered enormous distances at high speeds. Each man carried thirty or fifty rounds of ammunition, a water bottle, a bag of raisins, a few disks of unleavened bread, and a lump or two of coarse sugar. The whole party, numbering perhaps one hundred and eighty, shared the burden of the heavy baggage — four stretchers and a basket of carrier pigeons. The gashts swept along the ridges and past the loopholed towers, loping ceaselessly on at five miles an hour, and returned after a circuit of twenty-five or thirty-five miles to their fort. The baramptas pounced before dawn on some fortress village withing fifteen miles of their post, arrested the startled headman, and whisked him lightfoot to headquarters, there to explain just what hand the young men of his village had taken in last week’s mail robbery, and why he had not come on his own in answer to several polite summonses.
Scouts on the move were a magnificent sight. The British officers were indistinguishable from the men — all brown as berries, all wearing khaki turbans, grey shirts, flapping loose outside khaki shorts, stockings, and nailed sandals. The Pathans — in uniform or out, fighting on one side or the other — are rangy, hawk-nosed, and seem to be made of whipcord and steel. British officers of Scouts had hard work at first to keep up, but in time they all developed astounding endurance and matched it with an equally astounding ability in drinking and revelling. Several famous mountaineers, including the great Peter Oliver of Everest, had served with Scouts at one time or another. The only people who could outmarch Scouts, and then only on roads, were Mountain Artillery moving with their guns and their huge Missouri mules. (On manoeuvres in 1939 one mountain battery covered seventy-three miles in twenty-three hours at a steady pounding trot; the men hung on to the mule saddlery or to the stirrups of the few horses.)
When a situation passed beyond the power of the Scouts to control it the army emerged from its posts in tribal territory and lumbered into action under the direction of the Political Agents and their boss, the local Resident. Sometimes even this was not enough, and then the Resident whistled up still more soldiers from the nearby garrison towns in India proper — Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Kohat, and the rest — and a full-scale Frontier war was on.
In the last stage the Resident handed over his civil powers to the army commander. This amounted to martial law. All the politicals took one pace sideways and one pace backward and, instead of telling their military opposite numbers what to do, assumed a knowledgeable air and advised them of the probable political effects of the action they intended to take. But this happened only when violence was so widespread and so clearly out of hand that the problem was not to calm the tribes but to restore conditions in which the politicals could begin to think what was the best way of doing so.
That’s from chapter 17 of John Masters’ Bugles and a Tiger.
John Masters describes the Northwest Frontier and the “arguments” available to the civil government:
On November 25th, 1936, the Frontier, which had been simmering since the Mohmand Campaign of 1934–35, suddenly exploded. The first incident in what was to develop into the biggest campaign since 1919 took place at Biche Kaskai in Waziristan, where Waziri tribesmen ambushed the Bannu Brigade on a carefully laid, well-concealed, and boldly executed plan. The brigade suffered one hundred and thirty casualties and lost many arms and much ammunition. The tribesmen, elated by the early success, went on to higher things. The rallying point of tribal hostility was a man called the Faqir of Ipi, a man who still in 1955 occasionally hits the headlines, as he is currently the leader of the movement to form a separate Pathan country, to be called Pakhtunistan.
Waziristan contains two great and well-armed tribes, the Mahsuds in the south and the Wazirs in the north. The whole area, which is about the size of Wales, had been fairly quiet since the big campaigns of 1919–1923, but many young men had grown up who had not fought in the old battles and were eager to take up their national pastime of war and emulate the feats of their elders.
At a time when several sections of the Wazirs were complaining of other grievances a Wazir abducted a young Hindu girl from Bannu, on the edge of tribal territory, and forcibly converted her to Islam. The political authorities had to exert all their power to get the girl back and return her to her parents. This recovery of the girl from the arms of Islam aroused the strongest feelings among the fanatically Moslem Wazirs, who began whispering, when shouting, the magic word Jehad! Affairs moved steadily towards an explosion through all those on the government side tried as hard as they could within limits set by policy, justice, and the bands of history to avoid war. But wa it had to be, war it was, and the guns — ultima ratio regis, a king’s last argument — poured into Waziristan in increasing numbers.
The first arguments were the normal methods of diplomacy — persuasion, conferences, minor bribery, rewards, and threats. The civil government’s second argument was the khassadar system. A khassadar was a local tribesman who wore an armband labelled ‘K,” but was otherwise indistinguishable in his dirty grey or black cotton from any other tribesman. He received a small pay and sat on hill-tops near his village with the task of shooting at disaffected or excitable friends who tried to kill soldiers and rob convoys. The tribesmen were reluctant to shoot at khassadars for fear of becoming engaged in a blood feud. Unfortunately the khassadars were equally reluctant to fire on their naughty fellows for precisely the same reason. Furthermore, all khassadars seemed to be permanently in a temper about pay or promotion, and a high proportion of the stray shots fired at the army in Waziristan was fired by peevish khassadars. We thought they were an unmitigated nuisance, but they were probably a necessary step in the development of local responsibility for law and order, and we had to put up with them.
The third argument was the militia, or Scouts, or levies — they had many names. The whole length of tribal territory, from Gilgit in the north to Mekran in the south, was patrolled by the volunteers of these highly disciplined corps. They were armed, but their pay came from civil funds, not from the army budget, and they were under the control of the local political authorities, not of the military commander-in-chief. In ordinary times they could keep the peace because they were light-armed and fast and because they were themselves Pathans, usually from another part of the Frontier. Their officers were British officers of the Indian Army (or Indians holding King’s Commissions) who were lent or seconded to them for three- or four-year tours of duty. The various corps had romantic titles, romantic crests, and romantic tasks: the Gilgit Scouts, with their ibex-horn badge and the duty of patrolling the Karakorams and the Pamirs on the verges of China and Russia; the Chitral Scouts, circling always within sight of Tirachmir’s 25,230-foot cone on the edge of the Wakhan, the Afghan panhandle; the old Khyber Rifles; the Kurram Militia, safe in a nest of anxious Shia Moslems among hostile surrounding Sunni Moslems; in Waziristan, the two biggest and most warlike corps of all, the Tochi Scouts and the South Waziristan Scouts; farther south again, the Zhob Militia; and last, patrolling the deserts that run down to the Indian Ocean, the Mekran Levies.
That’s from chapter 17 of Bugles and a Tiger.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is a magnificent and heartfelt oratory, China Hand says:
It is also a determined piece of goalpost shifting designed to cope with the fact that Lincoln’s Civil War was a bloody, improvised botch that he rescued by abandoning the positions that had won him the Presidency…
…and by redefining not only that war, but all American wars to come.
Both sides expected a short war, as always:
The only administration figure in the North who seemed to have a firm grasp of what was going on was Winfield Scott, an extremely capable but by 1860 superannuated general who had performed with distinction in the War of 1812 and brilliantly in the Mexican War of 1846. He looked at the Union’s untrained armies with disdain and proposed that they be carefully drilled and deployed as part of a three-year navy-based strategy to choke the CSA with an Atlantic/Caribbean/Mississippi River blockade.
This cautious protracted war strategy was anathema to Lincoln’s political team, setting the stage for four years of ineffectual butchery on a truly modern scale.
The Emancipation Proclamation made a negotiated settlement based on the status quo ante impossible:
Instead of letting the South go to seek its own destiny, the United States was committed to destroying it militarily and politically, and undertaking a long exercise of reconstruction in the south—what we now call “nation-building”—that today has still not achieved the seamless and productive political and cultural union of north and south.
And in order to justify a war whose aims were, by any close reading of the constitution as it stood in 1862, unconstitutional and opposed by a vast majority of voters (in a peacetime environment, opposition to emancipation was something that most northern as well as southern whites happily endorsed), it was necessary to stretch the law to its breaking point…and justify the carnage because, well, “Freedom”—an excuse that Lincoln’s successors, including both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have both been most happy to invoke.
Today, the Civil War is regarded as the United States’ first “good war”. It has to be. Because it was America’s bloodiest and least legal war. Otherwise, it would be impossible to explain or justify. And I believe that’s why the Civil War remains a lodestone for American politicians, patriots, and warbirds and the Gettysburg Address is a sacred text. Because if we can justify and exalt the Civil War and its 600,000 dead, we can justify and exalt any war.
When the moral claims are absolute, there are few limits on the bullets, bombs, falsehoods, and lawbending and lawbreaking employed to achieve them—even if the actual victories for freedom are as partial, equivocal, and fleeting as they turned out to be in places like Iraq and Libya.
(Hat tip to T. Greer.)
When I saw the headline that a Toronto tailor was introducing bulletproof three-piece suits, I assumed that the story was that a Canadian was doing this kind of work, but I was surprised to find something more interesting — the suits aren’t made of Kevlar:
Garrison’s tailors have lined the vest and suit jacket with several ultrathin sheets of carbon nanotubes: a state-of-the-art puncture-proof and bullet-resistant material Mr. Tran sourced online through a company that has provided anti-ballistic gear for the U.S. Army Special Forces. (The manufacturer agreed to work with Garrison’s so long as it remains anonymous.)
Created by scientists through manipulating carbon atoms into tube-like shapes, carbon nanotubes can be woven into fibres or sheets like the ones used in the lining of Garrison’s suit, which were so strong the shop’s tailors had to cut them with a band saw. They provide a level of protection against bullets that is far superior to that of Kevlar, and are said to cause less bruising than other materials when hit by a bullet.
Carbon nanotubes are 50 per cent lighter than Kevlar and 30 times stronger than steel, which is why they are increasingly being used to make more streamlined protective gear for military and security professionals, not to mention politicians — U.S. President Barack Obama was rumoured to have worn an overcoat and suit incorporating carbon nanotubes during his first inauguration.