Ethnic Co-Existence, Yesterday

Friday, October 21st, 2011

According to our individual experience, the following opinions from prominent men of our past may leave us open-mouthed in horror, shaking our heads in disbelief, or, M.G. Miles says, grimacing in recognition:

Abraham Lincoln:

All I ask for the negro is that, if you do not like him, let him alone. If God gave him but little, that little let him enjoy.

I yield to all which follows from necessity. What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races.

[Addressing an Afro-American audience:]  You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.

Thomas Jefferson:

To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications.

Benjamin Franklin:

Why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red?

Scottish philosopher David Hume:

I am apt to suspect the negroes, and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation.
Not to mention our colonies, there are NEGROE slaves dispersed all over EUROPE, of which none ever discovered any symptom of ingenuity; tho’ low people, without education, will start up amongst us, and distinguish themselves in every profession.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

It cannot be maintained by any candid person that the African race have ever occupied or do promise ever to occupy any very high place in the human family.

Henry Clay:

What is the true nature of the evil of the existence of a portion of the African race in our population? It is not that there are some but that there are so many … who can never amalgamate with the great body of our population.

[Repatriation to Africa would] rid our country of a useless and pernicious, if not dangerous portion of its population.

New York governor John Dix:

The mass of crime committed by Africans is greater in proportion to numbers, in the non slaveholding than in the slaveholding States; and as a rule the degree of comfort enjoyed by them is inferior. This is not an argument in favor of slavery; but it is an unanswerable argument in favor of rendering emancipation and colonization [to Africa] coextensive with each other.

Francis Scott Key:

I cannot remember more than two instances out of this large number [of his freed slaves], in which it did not appear that the freedom I earnestly sought for them was their ruin. It has been so with a very large proportion of all others I have known emancipated.

W.E.B. Dubois, in 1899:

The number of deserted wives [in Philadelphia], however, allowing for false reports, is astoundingly large and presents many intricate problems. A very large part of charity given to Negroes is asked for this reason. The causes of desertion are partly laxity in morals and partly the difficulty of supporting a family.  The result of this large number of homes without husbands is to increase the burden of charity and benevolence, and also on account of their poor home life to increase crime. Here is a wide field for social regeneration.
There can be no doubt but what sexual looseness is to-day the prevailing sin of the mass of the Negro population, and that its prevalence can be traced to bad home life in most cases. Children are allowed on the street night and day unattended; loose talk is often indulged in; the sin is seldom if ever denounced in the churches.

Finally, writer Thomas Nelson Page, in 1904:

The Negroes, indeed, may be divided into three classes.

The first is a small class, comparatively speaking, who are more or less educated, some being well educated and well conducted; others, with a semblance of education and none too well behaved. The former constitute what may be termed the upper fraction; the latter possess only a counterfeit culture and lack the essential elements of character and even moral perception.

The second class is composed of a respectable, well-behaved, self-respecting element; sensible, though with little or no education, and, except when under the domination of passion, good citizens. This class embraces most of the more intelligent of the older generation who were trained in slavery, and a considerable element of the intelligent middle-aged, conservative workers of the race who were trained by that generation. The two together may be called the backbone of the race.

The third class is composed of those who are wholly ignorant, or in whom, though they have what they call education, this so-called education is unaccompanied by any of the fruits of character which education is supposed to produce. Among these are many who esteem themselves in the first class, and, because of a veneer of education, are not infrequently confounded with them.

The first two classes may easily be reckoned with. They contain the elements which make good citizens and which should enable them to secure all proper recognition and respect. They need no weapon but that which they possess: good citizenship.

Unfortunately, the great body of the race, and a vast percentage of the growing generation, belong to the third class. It is this class which has to be reckoned with.  It is like a vast sluggish mass of uncooled lava over a large section of the country, burying some portions and affecting the whole. It is apparently harmless, but beneath its surface smoulder fires which may at any time burst forth unexpectedly and spread desolation all around. It is this mass, increasing from beneath, not from above, which constitutes the Negro question.

None of that is especially surprising, yet it all feels rather shocking.  I feel… uncomfortable.

(Hat tip to Foseti.)

CNN of the Ghetto

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Following up on that McDonald’s beating video led me down a rabbit hole to something called WorldStarHipHop, which, according to its Wikipedia entry, averages over one million unique visitors a day:

Described by VIBE as a “remnant of the Geocities generation”, the site regularly features public fighting caught on tape, music videos and other content targeted to young Black-American audiences. In response to complaints that World Star gives a negative portrayal of the African American community, O’Denat calls the site the “CNN of the ghetto.” “We’re just the messenger,” O’Denat says. “Maybe that will help Blacks or minorities say, ‘Wow, I don’t want to be on World Star, I don’t want to be on blast.’”

It’s like there’s a whole ‘nuther Internet out there, from a parallel universe.

The Wars of Other Men

Friday, October 21st, 2011

The Wars of Other Men is set in an alternate 1920s-era world at war — and shot in seemingly war-torn Detroit:

(Hat tip to the Alternate History Weekly Update.)

Defending the Baltics

Friday, October 21st, 2011

When Russia recently (counter-)attacked Georgia, William S. Lind notes, this raised the issue of defending the Baltics:

The worst option, which Georgia took, is to create a toy army.  A handful of modern jet fighters, a battalion or two of tanks, a frigate for the navy, all add up to nothing.  Against a Great Power, a toy army goes down to defeat in days if not hours.  More, even a few modern jet fighters or tanks cost so much there is no money left for a real defense.  Unless the Baltic states want to fight each other, they should leave military toys to children.

Second, the Baltics could try to ally with other near-by Powers strong enough to balance Russia.  But this option exists only in theory.  Germany could fill the role but has lost all Great Power ambitions, while Sweden has been out the game for two centuries. There could be benefit for all concerned in a union of the Baltic states and Finland under the Swedish crown, all retaining complete domestic autonomy but united for defense and foreign policy, but it is probably only historians who can see the potential.

A third option is to ally with distant Great Powers in order to balance the threat from a local Great Power.  That is what the Baltic States have done through their membership in NATO.  Unfortunately, while central European states have attempted this over and over again for centuries, it never works.  It may involve Western Powers in war with Russia, or in the past with Germany, but it does nothing to protect the country in question.  Poland is a recent example: Britain and France went to war with Germany in 1939 over Poland, but Poland remained an occupied country for 50 years.

NATO membership also increases the pressure to build a toy army, or to specialize in “niche” capabilities like water purification that serve NATO but not home defense.  Both are roads to military irrelevance.

There is a model that would work for the Baltic states and other small countries:  the Iraqi model.  Instead of creating a toy army, they should plan an Iraq-style insurgency against any occupier.  This requires a universal militia like Switzerland’s, where every male citizen knows how to shoot and how to build and emplace IEDs and where weapons and explosives are cached all over the country.  In the Baltics, this would be a rural rather than an urban defense: Russia could take the cities but not the countryside.  The “Forest Brothers” kept up just such a resistance to the Soviet presence well into the 1950s.

An Iraqi-model defense would not make it impossible for Russia to conquer the Baltic states.  It could only make such a venture expensive for Russia, hopefully too expensive.

For long-term security, the Baltic states must approach the problem not just at the military but at the grand strategic level.  What that means is that, like all small countries bordering Great Powers, they must accommodate the Great Power’s interests.   The model here is Finland during the Cold War.  Finland maintained complete sovereignty in her domestic affairs, but she was careful to accommodate the Soviet Union in her foreign and defense policies.  She was a good neighbor to Russia, as the Baltic states should strive to be good neighbors to Russia now.  Their goal should be to create a situation where it is more in Russia’s interests for the Baltics to remain independent than to reincorporate them into the Russian empire.

Solar Power Efficiency

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

When it comes to solar power, the standard definition of efficiency isn’t necessarily the most useful:

As the world’s lowest-cost maker of solar panels, First Solar, which is based in Arizona, is well-placed to cash in. Spurning crystalline silicon, the main ingredient in most solar panels, it uses another sort of semiconductor, cadmium telluride, a product of mining waste which it deposits onto glass at high temperature.

The “thin film” photovoltaic cells this produces are relatively inefficient at converting solar radiation into electricity. First Solar’s panels have an average efficiency rate of 11-12% as opposed to 14-15% for the silicon ones.

Yet they are cheap, costing around 74 cents per watt of generating capacity, compared to well over a dollar for the cheapest silicon panel. And they are getting better, with over 17% efficiency achieved in lab conditions. They also perform well at high temperatures and through dust — making them suitable for deployment out West.

Qadaffi’s Dead

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Qadaffi’s dead, Jerry Pournelle notes, ignominiously shot down while pleading for his life:

So far as I know they didn’t take the body out and hang it upside down in a public square, but much of this is reminiscent of the death of Benito Mussolini — who was, oddly enough, the founder of the nation of Libya. Libya didn’t exist until the Italians formed it from the provinces of Tripolitania , Cyrenaica, and various interior Berber, Tuareg, and other tribal groups in the province of Fezzan. The Italian marshal charged with unification was given carte blanche, and the unification wars were brutal. Under Mussolini the trains ran on time — actually there weren’t trains, but a Coast Road was built from Tripoli to the Egyptian border, modern factories such as a Fiat plant were built, and there were numerous showpiece public works such as cathedrals and the Marble Arch commemorating unification. Jewish enterprises thrived.

After World War II a Tripolitanian emir was proclaimed king of Libya. Foreign developers were invited in. The US built an important base and some of infrastructure needed to operate it. The king was overthrown by Colonel Qadaffi, who ruled until the Arab Spring uprisings and consequent NATO-backed rebellion. The US lost a significant imperial asset, Wheelus AFB in Libya, which was not only a primary SAC base but a major staging area for any US regional forces. US-Libyan relations in the era of Qadaffi have been a roller coaster. We ended by supporting and partly financing the rebellion that killed him.

Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

I had been referring to “when the zombies rise” as an amusing metaphor for any disaster or emergency where The System breaks down — hurricane, earthquake, blackout, terrorist attack, etc. — for years before I realized that some folks had built an entire online community based on the concept.

Recently, the CDC has shown itself to be surprisingly hip by running with the gag, and now they’ve produced a Preparedness 101 comic:


Was Military Reform Ever Possible?

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Was military reform ever possible?, William S. Lind asks:

When the world was young and hope dared live in Washington, a small group of people put together something called the Military Reform Movement. Its purpose was to measure defense policies and programs by the standard of what works in combat rather than who benefits financially. Launched in the 1970s, it peaked in the early 1980s and was gone by 1990. Why did it fail? Because in a contest between ideas and money, the money always wins.

Money wins not only on Capitol Hill but in the media as well:

As I said years ago to a Marine friend who was trying to get a job on Capitol Hill, working as Hill staff is the post-doctoral course in spiritual proctology. Wheeler’s chapters [in Military Reform: A Reference Handbook) dissect many an ass.

He does an equally good job on the press, which did what it always does: build something up (which creates news) and then tear it down again (which creates more news). What drew many members of Congress to the Reform Caucus was the opportunity it offered to get some good ink. When the wind started blowing the other way, those illustrious legislators blew with it. But the corruption of the press itself is a story told less often, and it needs telling. Why do defense companies buy full-page ads in major newspapers? Not because anyone buys a fighter plane based on a newspaper ad, but because the six-figure price for a full page buys the newspaper.

The Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Album

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Behold The Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Album, from 1979, illustrated by Greg Irons:

Relative angels and absolute demons

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Razib Khan takes Elizabeth Kolbert’s review of Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature as a jumping-off point to discuss relative angels and absolute demons:

Ironically Kolbert is repeating the Anglo-Protestant Black Legend about the Spaniards, rooted in the rivalries and sectarianism of the 16th and 18th centuries, but persisting down amongst English speaking secular intellectuals. The reality is that the Spaniards did not want to kill the indigenous peoples, they died of disease and the societal destabilization that disease entailed. Europeans who arrived from Iberia in the New World ideally wished to collect rents from peasants. The death of those peasants due to disease was a major inconvenience, which entailed the importation of black Africans who were resistant to the Old World diseases like malaria which were spreading across the American tropics. The violence done to native peoples was predominantly pathogenic, not physical.

This is not to deny that the Spaniards were brutal. They quite certainly were. But they need to be compared to their non-Spanish contemporaries. The Aztec Triple Alliance which Cortez overthrew famously went to war to obtain captives for human sacrifice, who were also later cannibalized. Cortez won his war with disease and native allies who were chafing under the brutal Aztec hegemony. Additionally, the Spanish authorities were ambivalent about the brutality and exploitation which was being meted out by the European settlers. Much of the material in the Black Legend derives from the polemics of the Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas. He made the case for the humanity of the native people who were now due the protection of the Spanish crown. This sort of dialogue and argument amongst the Spanish is itself an advancement across the arc of history. Consider the genocide which is celebrated in much of the Hebrew Bible as a contrast.* Was there an an Aztec Bartolomé de las Casas? Judging by what we know from antique Old World societies I doubt it.

The same point can be made about British slavery. It is correct that the enterprise of European civilization in the early modern period focused to a great extent on the trade in humans. But this is not exceptional. Kolbert alludes to Pinker’s mention of the Arab slave trade, but Europeans themselves long traded in humans from the north and east of the continent from antiquity down to the medieval period. This only dissipated when the supply of pagans outside of the Christian fringe was removed by the conversion of the last enclaves of the old religions (note, for example, that Slavs were common as slaves on both shores of the Mediterranean around the year 1000; cities like Venice rose to some extent on the slave trade). What was new was that in the early modern period there were those who made the case against slavery on humanitarian grounds. Though not all pre-modern civilizations had slavery, slavery as an institution was generally accepted as legitimate, if not always optimal (in contrast to cannibalism and human sacrifice, which were marginalized or banned by the world religions rather early on).

Finally, the last bone I have to pick with Elizabeth Kolbert is a general paradigmatic one. The reason that I suspect Steven Pinker does not talk much about European colonialism is that it was not exceptionally brutal, nor was it a very long period in much of the world. To make these assessments you need a thick understanding of world history which most people don’t have. The greatest mass death that occurred during the age of white European supremacy was that of the Taiping Rebellion. Though China was already coming under European pressure, and the Taipings claimed a Christian inspiration, the reality is that if you know Chinese history they were entirely explicable as the sort of disturbance which occurs near the end of a dynasty. In India the British decapitated much of the local elite, but primarily focused on extracting rents (the systematic brutality in the wake of the Sepoy Mutiny was exceptional). I doubt that the British Raj was a time of greater violence than the political chaos of the 18th century, as the Mughal ascendancy collapsed and other powers arose to fill the vacuum and triggered a series of conflicts. And the European colonial adventures in Africa and the Middle East were fleeting at best, rarely lasting more than a century, and often far less.

I suspect that Kolbert’s emphasis on the European colonial experience of much of the world is influenced by the ubiquity of the postcolonial paradigm. Those who take postcolonial thinking as normative sometimes forget that not everyone shares their framework. I do not, and I would be willing to bet that Steven Pinker would also dissent from the presuppositions of postcolonialism. That means that the facts, the truths, that many take for granted are actually not taken for granted by all, and are disputed. One of the issues with postcolonial models is that they seem to view Europeans and European culture, and their colonial enterprises, as sui generis. This makes generalization from the West, as Pinker does, problematic. But for those of us who don’t see the West as qualitatively different there is far less of an issue.

A postcolonial model is ironically extremely Eurocentric, with a total blindness to what came before Europeans. To my knowledge they do not touch upon the genocide suffered by the Dzungar Mongols at the hands of the Manchus in the 18th century. The Manchu Empire, which in China proper were the Ching, was clearly a classic colonial enterprise. Ironically it served as the template for the nationalism of Republican and Communist China. Similarly, postcolonial theorists may discuss the British influence India, but they do not give the same space to the impact of West Asian Muslim elites via native Indian converts to Islam, as well as how they shaped Hindu society more broadly (e.g., West Asian Muslim elite norms of female modesty spread to Hindu elites, and to some extent remain in place in much of the subcontinent). But anyone who knows the structure of the Mughal Empire in the 17th century at its peak will observe that India was viewed to a great extent as a fat cow to be bled dry by Persians and Turks who arrived in large numbers during that period to staff the civilian and military apparatus of the Timurids, and were given preference to native born Muslims and Hindus, who were tacitly understood to be racially inferior.

Die Panzerwaffe

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

The U.S. Army, which has only the most rudimentary understanding of operational art, William S. Lind says, has designed its tanks, especially the M-1 Abrams, for tactical utility with little thought for operational mobility:

This is typical of Second Generation, French-model armies.  The Abrams is essentially the latest version of the French Char B.

In contrast, German and Soviet tanks were designed to serve a doctrine of operational mobility.  Not many years ago, a friend of mine was being shown over the German Leopard II tank by a German officer, who kept stressing the tank’s wide tracks.  Puzzled, the American finally asked, “What’s the big deal about wide tracks?” The German officer replied, “The Pripet marshes!”

The Criminal Cloud

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Simson Garfinkel describes the power of the criminal cloud:

One emerging use of cloud computing is password cracking. To break into encrypted files, attackers run programs that repeatedly try different passwords until the right one is found. Many of today’s security protocols were designed at a time when would-be password crackers might have access to only a few computers. Back then, security experts considered safe any security scheme capable of withstanding 30 years of brute-force guesswork. These days, computers are dozens of times faster, and thanks to services such as Amazon’s Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2), an attacker can rent time on hundreds of them at once. The result: an encryption password that used to take 30 years to break can now be cracked in a few days.

This isn’t idle speculation. The attackers who broke into Sony’s PlayStation game network last April reportedly used Amazon’s EC2 to crack some of the encryption keys, giving them access to tens of thousands of people’s credit card information. Hackers had been discussing how to use Amazon’s cloud computing service for password cracking since 2009. But things got really interesting last year, when Amazon added GPU-based supercomputing capability to its cloud offerings. German computer security specialist Thomas Roth calculated that he can use Amazon’s machines to crack the sort of encryption key used to protect most Wi-Fi networks in six minutes.

The cost, according to Roth, would be just $1.68.

A Rivalry in Invention

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Ivan Bloch describes the rivalry in invention in naval warfare leading into the Great War:

Sometimes armour was uppermost, sometimes projectiles. But no one listened to the voice of the economists who foretold the consequence of this rivalry. To illustrate this we may cite some figures as to the cost of modern vessels of war. The cost of a first-class line-of-battle ship, impelled by sails, did not exceed £115,000. The building of the first English ironclad Warrior in 1860 entailed an outlay of £350,000. But this was but the beginning in the growth in the cost of warships. The German ironclad Koenig Wilhelm, built in 1868, cost £500,000, the Italian Duilio, in 1876, £700,000, the Italia, 1886, £1,000,000. Thus in twenty years the cost of ironclads increased three times. A great part of this outlay is swallowed up by armour. Of £840,000 spent on one of the latest ironclads, Magenta, £600,000, that is, 71 per cent., was spent upon armour.

Let us examine the instruments of destruction of these maritime giants. A battleship of the old type of the first rank was armed with 120 guns, weighing 480 tons. The first ironclad carried only 32 guns, but these weighed 690 tons. On the ironclad Italia, built in 1886, were carried only 4 large and 8 small guns, yet they weighed nearly double as much as the 32 guns of the first ironclad, namely, 1150 tons. Thus since the days of sailing ships the weight of guns has increased more than 150 times. The size and weight of ammunition has, of course, correspondingly increased, and also the destructive force of explosive shells. The diameter of the shells of the ironclad Warrior was approximately 6 1/3 inches, its weight 70 pounds; on the armour-clad Italia the diameter is increased to 17 inches, and the weight to 2000 pounds. In the course of twenty years the power of a shell, taking only its weight into account, has increased 30 times.

It must not be supposed that this is the limit. England continues to stand at the head of the states who seek for improvements in weapons of destruction at sea. Some years ago English ships were armed with guns of a calibre of 12 inches, and armour nearly 12 inches thick. At a later time they carried guns with a calibre of 16 inches, weighing 80 tons, and throwing a shell weighing 1760 pounds. But in view of the fact that Italy had armed her ironclads Duilio and Dandolo with guns weighing 100 tons, the English consider a project of building 200-ton guns which will throw a shell of nearly three tons weight, and pierce armour 35 1/2 inches thick.

What is the outlay on the use of such weapons? Le Progres Militaire, on the basis of statistics taken from the French naval budget, makes the following estimate. The firing of a shell from a 110-ton gun costs £166, which corresponds to a capital of £4160. This sum is thus apportioned: £36 for 990 pounds of powder, £130 for the projectile, total, £166. But this is not all. A 110-gun will stand only 93 shots, after which it becomes useless for further employment. As the cost of such a weapon amounts to £16,480 it appears that with every shot fired the value of the arm diminishes by £174, from which we find that every shot fired will cost £340. Thus with every shot is thrown away the yearly interest on a capital of £8500. A thousand of such shots would represent a capital of £8,500,000.

Passing to arms of smaller calibre it is shown that a shot fired from a 77-ton gun (the cost of which is £10,000, and which will stand 127 shots) costs £184, a shot from a 45-ton gun (which costs £6300, and is useless after 150 shots have been fired) amounts to £98. Only the lives of the sailors on fleets are considered as valueless.

General Pestitch draws a very interesting contrast. He says: “Six Russian ships taking part in the battle of Sinope were armed with about 600 guns, out of which the 300 guns employed destroyed all that was in Sinope, yet the cost of these 300 guns, in the values of that time, did not exceed the cost of a single modern 100-ton gun. What results are to be expected from one weapon which in an hour may be fired no more than five times?” An answer to this question it seems can be given only by a future war. The guns on modern battleships will be able to bombard ports, fortresses and towns, as many specialists declare, from a distance of nearly seven miles.

But this increase of power has not been restricted to battleships alone. Many specialists consider it more advisable to build light and swift cruisers with powerful armaments, and torpedo boats which move almost unnoticed through the water with the speed of a mail train. As soon as the construction of ships was perfected to such an extent that England was able to place on the sea a considerable number of ironclads, armed with powerful guns, and protected by thick steel armour, the question naturally arose: Would it not be possible to direct mines underneath these immense ships, and destroy them by means of powerful explosions in the vicinity of weakly defended parts? For a long time the application of this idea was unsuccessful, many obstacles had to be overcome, and only in recent times has the question been successfully resolved. Then began the construction of vessels specially designed for the purpose of discharging torpedoes. Experience showed that vessels discharging the torpedo ran no risk in employing a mine of 55 to 66 pounds of powder, 13 to 15 pounds of dynamite, or 22 to 27 pounds of peroxylene, if it be not less than 19 1/2 feet distant from the place of explosion, the mine being at a depth of 7 feet. Since from 19 1/2 feet distance there is little difficulty in directing a torpedo against an enemy’s ship by the use of a pole, the problem became simply how best to build vessels which would be unnoticed on approach. In the Russo-Turkish war of 1877, out of nine cases of attack by Russian torpedo boats the Turks lost one ironclad and two steamers, while three ironclads were injured. The loss in men is unknown. On the Russian side three torpedo boats were injured, also three steam sloops, while one torpedo boat was sunken. Two sailors were killed and ten wounded.

Similar results were obtained in the time of the French-Tonkin war of 1885. Two ordinary steam cutters, not more than 46 feet in length, armed with torpedoes, on the night of the 14-15 February, 1885, attacked a Chinese frigate of 3500 tons and sank it. This frigate was hidden in the harbour of Shein under the cover of fortifications, but the French Admiral Courbet was at a distance of several knots from this harbour. Hidden in the darkness the French cutters covered the distance unnoticed, and after destroying the Chinese ship returned uninjured to the admiral’s flagship.

The history of the Chilian war presents a similar case, when, after an attack lasting no more than seven minutes, the Congressionalist ironclad Blanco Encalada was sent to the bottom.

From this is evident the immense danger with which armour-clads are threatened by torpedo-boats armed with Whitehead and other torpedoes of recent design. It must be remembered that not only torpedo-boats, but almost all ships of war are armed with such weapons of destruction to-day.

“Children” Getting Shot

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

The image of kids getting shot is terrifying, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics paints a picture of U.S. children getting shot, when their own statistics describe African-American teenagers getting shot:

Despite the declining rate of firearm injuries nationally, pediatric firearm injuries remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality for children in the United States (U.S.). The purpose of this study is to describe the incidence and epidemiologic risk factors associated with fatal and non-fatal firearm injuries in U.S. children aged 0 to 19 years.
Firearm injuries were disproportionately represented by male gender (p < 0.0001), age greater than 12 years (p < 0.0001), and non-Caucasian race (p < 0.05) compared to other ED visits.

These stats about “children” are about teenage street criminals.

Dollars and Sense

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

When it comes to reforming the military, William S. Lind says, so long as the money flow continues, nothing will change. If the money flow does dry up though, this is what Lind would propose:

First, adopt a defensive rather than an offensive grand strategy. America followed a defensive grand strategy through most of her history. We only went to war if someone attacked us. That defensive grand strategy kept defense costs down and allowed our economy to prosper. We do not have to be party to every quarrel in the world.

Second, scrap virtually all the big ticket weapons programs such as new fighter-bombers, more Aegis ships, and the Army’s Rube Goldbergian Future Combat System. They are irrelevant to where war is going.

We should not plan for conventional wars against hypothetical “peer competitors,” which can only be Russia or China. We should do our utmost to make Russia an ally, and we should make a fundamental, bi-partisan national strategic decision that we will not go to war with China. Regardless of who “won” such a war, it would destroy both countries, just as the two World Wars destroyed both Germany and Britain. The world needs China to serve as a source of order in what will be an increasingly disorderly 21st century. We should welcome the growth of Chinese power, just as Britain learned (reluctantly) to welcome the growth of American power in the 20th century. It is only a threat to us if we make it one.

Third, as we cut, preserve combat units. That means, above all, Army and Marine Corps infantry battalions. Cut the vast superstructure above those battalions, but keep the battalions. Infantry battalions are what we need most for Fourth Generation wars, which we should do our utmost to avoid but which we will sometimes be drawn into, even with a defensive grand strategy.

In the Navy, keep the submarines. Submarines are today’s and tomorrow’s capital ships, and geography dictates we must remain a maritime power. Keep the carriers, too, though there is little need to build more of them. Carriers are big, empty boxes, which can carry many things besides aircraft. Mothball most of the cruisers and destroyers. Build lots of small, cheap ships useful for controlling coastal and inland waters, and create strategically mobile and sustainable “packages” of such ships. Being able to control waters around and within stateless regions can be important in 4GW.

Fighter-bombers are largely useless in Fourth Generation wars, where their main role is to create collateral damage that benefits our enemies. Keep the air transport squadrons and the A-10s, and move them all to the Air National Guard, which flies and maintains aircraft as well as or better than the regular Air Force at a fraction of the cost. Reduce the regular Air Force to strategic nuclear forces and a training base.

In all the services, vastly reduce the baggage train: the higher headquarters, the development commands, the education bureaucracies and the armies of contractors. As Mark Twain said of the male teat, they are neither useful nor ornamental.

Finally, as we cut, undertake reforms that cost little but will make our remaining forces more effective. Reform the personnel systems to create unit cohesion, eliminate the surplus of officers above the company grades and reduce careerism by ending up-or-out. Reform tactics and doctrine by moving from the Second Generation to the Third, which is to say from French attrition warfare to German maneuver warfare. This requires a change in military culture, in education and in training. The adoption of Third Generation tactics, doctrine and culture must be real, not just words on paper as it has been in the Marine Corps.

A program of military reform along these lines could give us more effective forces for Fourth Generation wars and such minor conventional wars as we might face within a defensive grand strategy than the forces we now possess. It could do so for a defense budget half or less the size of the current budget. To the reigning Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, that potential is a threat, not a promise. When the MICC’s money runs out, it will suddenly become a necessity.