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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I'm Right Wing: The Spartan Code

I had known little of the Spartans, other than what I looked up prior to the movie's release. I had always been smitten with that grand last stand. At the time, I was a anarchist revolutionary, and what anarchist revolutionary wouldn't love to go out fighting against a horde of enemies in defense of what you believed. One could imagine a million men, dressed in the jackboots and uniforms of cookie-cutter fascists, charging against the small, but strong lines of the world's last hope for anti-capitalist, anti-hierarchical freedom. Oh!What a sight, at least in the mind of an anarchist, anyway. 300 wasn't an anarchist-friendly movie, though, unlike V for Vendetta, which was adapted from an anarchist theory-laden graphic novel.


Individualism and anarchism have a unsteady relationship. Many of the branches of anarchism are collectivist as many branches of anarchism are born out of socialist thought, but because of their anti-government beliefs individualism plays a major role in most of its theories. Schools of thought like anarchist-communism barely consider the individual's position, as the individual must contribute to the collective, though he is not obliged to be part of the community as statist communism compels the individual to be. Individualist anarchism is an American-born ideology (think Thoreau, the lone rebel in the cabin refusing to conform) that is anti-capitalist, but puts the individual's liberty far higher than that of the community he is in.

This may come as a surprise to those who haven't researched history of ideologies. Socialism did not begin as a statist movement, but as a collection of different factions with a slew of different theories on collective social change. It was at the First (socialist) International where the Marxists, the most statist of factions, pulled a large, democratic coup against the anti-government socialists and took over the International's major organs. From then on, anarchism was relegated to the fringes of the fringe ideologies of the time. Though, please note that right-wing anarchism, or anarcho-capitalism, is not a branch of the original anarchism, but the radical wing of libertarianism. People like Murray Rothbard or Ludwig Von Mises were never part of the First International or any socialist international, but came to their anarchist conclusions separate of the left-wing anarchists.

At the time of the movie's showing, I was an individualist anarchist. I was for the individual's liberty over that of the community or the state. I did realize that an anarchist could not live on his own, that human beings are social creatures that crave community, I also held that the individual's liberty cannot be violated by the group no matter what. I believed in total free speech, total freedom of action as long as it didn't hurt anyone else, freedom to arm oneself, and so on. Looking back on it, any hope that in a society where individual rights are absolute against the rights of the community would survive long is utopian, but much of anarchism is utopian. It was my belief in the right of self-defense and my love of revolutionary acts that would be the vulnerability that a new set of ideas would latch on to.

A New Set of Ideas

300 took on my anti-nationalist, anti-war, anti-brutish manly men views. It said that you must die for a greater good that is traditional, something that's been around for hundreds of years, something that isn't revolutionary at all. That was new.

The movie literally beings with a description of a extreme social Darwinist tradition of tossing away unhealthy Spartan babies. From there, it teaches the viewer that at age 7, Spartan males are taken away from their mothers to be entered into the eleven-year indoctrination program called the agoge (ah-go-gee). In the agoge, Spartan kids are taught how to fight and how to survive. They are taught about pride in their people and that to die as a Spartan warrior in battle is the greatest accomplishment in life. To an anarchist, even a little nationalism is fascistic. The Spartans' nationalism is Hitler-esque fascistic. I should have been appalled at the eugenics, the culture of violence and the hyper-nationalism. I was condemning the United States for much less. I was condemning the United States for everything. Yet, this culture was both alien and addictive. It was reaching into a place in my head that held the need for a greater cause. For years, that meant giving up civilization, whole systems of governance and commerce. For a kid, that's nothing. The militarism, the nationalism, the cultural pride over the barbarians, I'd heard it all before, but it had never been shown to me in such artistry or with a deeper presentation than mindless patriotism, as far as I could remember. I could of seen a movie or read a story deeper than 300 before then, but completely dismissed its views due to my closed-minded, childish brain.

Suddenly, the values I had fought against for years started to dig into my mind. Confidence, pride in nation and citizenship, masculinity, the warrior mind; these things slowly began to make sense in a way deeper than just biological and cultural normalities, things I rejected as a far leftist. After I watched the movie, these ideas ate away at such ideas as gender being a social construct or nationalism being a way for the most powerful to divvy up resources and labor. Within a week, I bought a book that summarized Spartan history and culture. I was intensely interested in how Spartan culture really was and surprised at what I found.


The Spartan empire first expanded before its warrior culture was established. It invaded its neighbor Messenia and enslaved its people. These slaves, or helots, became the underlying labor force of the Spartan nation. The helots outnumbered the Spartans by at least 3-to-1 and because of continuing rebellions and the risk of external invasion during uprisings, the Spartan lawmaker Lycurgus developed what became the Spartan code.

According to the code, only Spartan males could be in the military, though Spartan females were trained in combat as well. Spartans males could not have any other profession than warfare and could not attain full citizenship in Sparta without serving the city-state in war for a number of years. Manual labor and artisan professions were left to the helots and the free, non-citizen class known as the periokoi respectively. Periokoi were outsiders who were free from the slavery of the helots because of service or necessity, but would never attain the full rights and responsibilities of Spartan citizenship.

The Spartan system of indoctrination and education was called the agoge. Around age 7, Spartan children would be taken and put into groups that were overseen by full Spartan warriors. They would be trained in warfare, but also in survival. One of the legendary parts of the agoge is tossing the trainees into the wild to survive on their skills as hunters and as thieves. If they were caught stealing, they would be punished harshly. Not for the crime of thieving, but for the crime of being caught. The agoge wasn't totally militaristic, though, as future warriors had to also know things like music, singing, dance, philosophy and, most importantly, the ability to have one of the sharpest wits in the entire Greek world. The word laconic, the style of speech that is blunt and quick witted, is rooted in the Greek name for Sparta: Lakedemon.

The Spartan culture appears fascistic (enslavement, militarism, etc), but the government of Sparta was anything but. In fact, the multi-layered, multi-system government appears to be more in the shape of a republic than a monarchy or autocracy, as most Greek city-states were or mob rule as it was in Athens. In simplistic terms, at the top was a dual kingship, created out of the resolution of a power struggle between two great Spartan houses years before the code was created. The kings, while powerful, balanced each other with their powers. One could not simply overrule the other. Below the kings were the ephors, a council of five respected Spartan elders who were a check on the dual kings and advised them. Below the ephors, was a council of male Spartan citizens who, like any other city council, debated laws and requests from the kings. You can find a more complex chart of Spartan governance here.

Parallel Peoples

A militaristic people with a republican-style government was something I never considered. On the left and in libertarianism, militarism and liberty never mix. On the left, a republican state and militarism equal a fall into a cult fascism. While Sparta fell into disarray many generations after the 300's last stand, during its greatest imperial expansion its system of governance never faltered as the Wiemar Republic or the Roman Republic did. During the time of Sparta's greatest commitment to its values and governance, it remained a large and impressive power in the Greek world.

The Romans, after encountering and then conquering the Greeks, took on many of their values and ideas, and it created a Greco-Roman civilization. One of the major influences on this civilization was the Spartans and their loyalty and pride. While not a historic parallel, the American nation and its people have similar qualities to the Spartans, the Greeks as a people and the Roman Republic. The Founders were highly influenced by the Romans and Greeks in philosophy, politics and cultural values. Cities and veteran groups were named after Roman and Greek heroes. The freedoms and responsibilities of American citizens are taken from the values of writers like Plato and Cicero.

Like Sparta's early imperialism, America's revolutionary creation imbued its people with a more aggressive, militaristic quality than other nations. Our Constitution declares the ownership of firearms is an individual right, just as important as the right to speak freely, believe freely or the right to be free of torture or unlawful imprisonment. No other major power has such a explicit right written into their national foundation. Despite the protests of the more “enlightened” peoples of America, our military founding is part of our culture.


Just before a major combat scene, Stelios, the quick witted Spartan that dared the Persians to “fight in the shade”, talked about experiencing the perfect death, I could feel the elation he felt at the thought. I could justify the thought. I could explain the rationality behind the thought. I agreed with the thought. What came over me?

Thinking about it now, thinking about all my years as a hardcore revolutionary anarchist, I was looking for a real cause to believe in. Then and now, I believe the world is screwed up six ways 'till Sunday. Tyrannic nations are abusing their people. Economies are rising and falling. The poor are poor. The rich are rich. Torture, hate, genocide. It's still all there no matter what I believe. I could be a peace-loving, long haired, pacifist who never hurt a fly, Saddam Hussein would still have been torturing his people in rape rooms and throwing them off buildings if Bush hadn't deemed him a danger to America and the world. It was that very thought that converted me.

If we hadn't gone to war, torture and rape and human created hell would still be inflicted upon the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein. The ideology behind the war didn't matter anymore. The so-called theories behind the war didn't matter. The fact that the White House screwed up in selling the war didn't matter. It didn't matter in the long run because the Iraqi people were free and we had an obligation to see that they had every chance to keep that freedom. This wasn't what liberals and libertarians call neo-conservatism, the idea that we should be implanting democracies by force, I do not hold to that, but because we were already there, and because our honor and Iraqi liberty was a stake, we had to win the war. We had to finish what we started. It wasn't about social justice or a perceived moral right that could not be violated. It wasn't about being right about failure and ignoring success. The code was in me now. The code became my new filter.

Of course, the Spartan code is a 2500 year old belief based upon survival in a world where city-state governments fought each other over and over, where your enslaved manual labor outnumbered you several times over and where vast foreign empires swooped down and destroyed entire people's with a point of the finger. The code breaks almost every one of our laws. It is genocidal, eugenic and hyper militaristic. Yet, like the movie, the essence of it, the heart of it, took me over.

The Essence of a Code

300 was just a movie, but aren't movies just our stories put on a large screen based on someone's visual imagination? Wasn't the story of the 300 itself just a movie in the minds of young Greeks and others for millennium until it was put to the screen? These stories inspired hundreds of generations to all sorts of things with their lives or the lives of others. We tend to dismiss inspiration from fictional stories today, yet it remains a major part of everyone's life. Whole religious are made from what others consider fictional stories. Hell, Scientology, a religion that talks about on alien souls, is based on the writings of a science fiction author. The past eight years, radical liberalism has been running on the story that our last President stole two elections. I highly doubt anyone can fault me for citing 300 as inspiration, especially when its based on an actual historical event.

My change from anti-imperialist anarchist to national security libertarian with a warrior code took around five months from the day I saw 300 to the day I came to the conclusion that the morals of past decisions didn't matter as much as the result of their execution. It was only the beginning. My life was changing at that time, not just politically, but personally and professionally. This isn't special, of course, as such metamorphosis is natural in rational adults. But, these changes would led to my current beliefs and to my expanded and complex political ideology.

In short, this egocentric autobiography is going to get a lot longer. Beware.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why I'm Right Wing: The Inevitable Masculinity

The year is 2007. The time is winter. The place is Los Angeles, California. And for the first time in my life, I am living away from my parents for more than a few weeks at camp. I am living with a family friend and working as an unpaid intern at the Dr. Phil television show. For the first time in my life, the only person I really have to rely on is myself.

At this time, I have reached an odd point in my life. The comforts of the wonderful life my hard working parents gave my sisters and I are now 3000 miles away in Eastern Canada. My atrophied high school and college social life had flourished the year before. No longer did I feel unresponsive to going out on my own or with new friends. Yet, this was an entirely new place, and other than the live-life-to-the-fullest personality of the friend, I would have to rebuild a new social life in Los Angeles for the three months I was there.

At home, I had been around women all my life. My dad worked countless hours to bring my family a comfortable, affordable life. For most of my life, my mom had been a mother first and a private-sector worker second. My sisters, younger than I, were home all the time after school. Most of my hours were spent around them. It was no surprise that my personality wasn't exactly the ideal example of the male gender.

Fights, harsh pranks, talking about hot chicks and dirty jokes; all were stunted due to the feminine-majority home front. At the time, I believed I had to hide my masculinity. That I had to not be a guy. This was a fear I created in myself. But don't take this as a condemnation of a female majority, female influenced home setting. Nurture, while a significant part of the development of a human being, is not the final straw. One may have to put away the boxing gloves when that new sibling turns out to like Barbie over brawling, but the urges and motivations to be a guy despite the situation are still there. In the right setting, as I had with my family, healthy development is part parental and part individual discovery.

Such a discovery came in Los Angeles. At the time, I had started to write and talk to my friends about breaking from the situation at home. In words harsher than necessary, I would condemn my parents blanket rules that put my sister's “weakness” under the same scope as my need to be a guy. Being the child, and not the parent, I did not understand a parent's need to protect all their children, from strongest to weakest, even if it means protecting one from the other. I understand that now, but at the time, with a mind just escaping from the shackles of childish notions, it seemed a bias that “harmed” me. Was I ever wrong! During my internship I would strike up a very close, long distance friendship with an old pen pal from the Internet (who would eventually become my wife). Little did I know that my long schooling in the ways of women would aid me in the long run.

For months I had been waiting for the movie 300 to come out,and in early March it finally hit theaters. The fantasy/historical epic chronicled the Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartans and their Greek allies stood against hundreds of thousands of invading Persians. The movie, based on the graphic novel of the same name, wasn't very historically accurate with the depiction of the courageous last stand, but as the novel's creator said, the point was to get the “essence” of the Spartans, not to ruin the story with loads of truth. I waited in line for a few hours with the family friend to see the movie, and I had no idea this comic book adaption would be the catalyst for a plethora of twisted feelings, urges, ideas and dreams. It would take a two hour movie to unravel something I had taken over two decades to create. Something I created on a faulty fear.

Why I'm Right Wing

I've been asked why I believe why I believe countless times. Debate rivals, friends and especially family have asked me “why?”. Its a good question, as only two years ago I was an adherent to Anarchism and anti-capitalism. My views were radical, to say the least, and I argued issues based on out-of-the-world theories of anti-hierarchal society and city-state nationalism. I had the entire world figured out in my head and on paper. If only those were good enough to live on.

The last time I really explained myself was two years ago. My future wife's friends were asking about my views after she had tried to explain them. I typed out a few pages on the basics of Anarchism, anti-capitalism and anti-hierarchal society. I don't think they fully got what I had put down, but even I had very little understanding of the entirety of anarchist theory, and I did not expect people not really in to ideological theory to get something I only knew superficially.

I hope this new and improved explanation will be better understood since I have come to understand the complex nature of markets, politics and ideology in much greater detail than I did two years ago. I hope through this essay I am able to spell out the “why?” of my conversion and answer any questions for those who knew me before, and those who know me now.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Populism: Supporting Stupid People on Purpose

I'm going to be blunt: the anger over the AIG bonuses is bull-effing-crap.

Bullcrap. Straight from the rear, not even on the ground yet bullcrap.

What Congress and the Democratic majority won't tell you is that the AIG bonus “loophole” was written in AIG bailout by the Democrats at the behest of AIG's bosses, who somehow thought that running the newly government-owned company like a business, and not as congressional political puppet, would be a good thing. Of course, the CEO and the management are quite undeserving of bonuses since their company is no longer independent due to their choices, but there are employees at AIG who did nothing wrong and who rely on these mostly merit-based bonuses in their paychecks.

The fact that the same Congress who wrote the bailout is now screaming bloody murder to inflame populist anger against AIG and Wall Street is disgusting to extremes. These are the same people who told oil companies that they'd be nationalized if they did not co-operate with Congress' paranoid hearings during high gas prices (Hugo Chavez has admirers in Congress, apparently). These are the same people who refused to fix the very obvious problems with government owned Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac years before those problems infected the economy. Fanny and Freddie held held over 50% of the so-called toxic mortgages that sunk companies like AIG. These are the same people who now attack capitalism itself for the economy when it was the failings of their own confusing and unbalanced regulatory system. And now they have the stones to throw a bone to the populist mob, sacrificing a major American company for political gain.

Disgustingly dishonest.

Populism is not an old ideology, if you can call it an ideology. Anytime a leader gave in to the protests or riots of angry people, that was populism. Anytime a leader inflamed a group of people with an “us vs them” speech or a “poor vs rich” speech, that was populism. Anytime a politician claimed that everyone but an agree upon social pariah deserves the same rights as everyone else, that's populism. Populism is a broad-reaching, very successful way to gain votes and turn a population against a minority.

Populism is, for lack of a better term, the poor man's revolutionary theory. While Marxists, anarchists and even Islamists have written and debated about how to exactly create a revolution, all populists have to do is get a group of people together and say key words. With conservatives in 2008, it was things like “liberal”, “socialist” or “abortion”. With liberals in 2008 (actually, pretty much from 2000) it was things like “free market”, “war on terror”, “Guantanamo”, “Iraq”, “privatization”, “surge”, “war”, “patriotism”, “success” or “George W. Bush”. When these words were said crowds would become filled with a renewed energy and maybe even anger. They'd become even more motivated to take on the people they see as harmful to the United States.

This kind of serious politics is cheap. It supports rumor mongering, anti-intellectualism and, to be blunt, the most stupid people in politics. At the height of the election, when both candidates were basically carrying torches and pitchforks to every rally, the worst of the worst in attacks made it to everyone's doorstep.

Intentional or not, Barack Obama supported people who went after John McCain's age, spread rumors about his mental capacity, insulted his wife, demeaned his service in the military and so on. Obama's populist army also took horrible shots at Sarah Palin's intelligence and her skills as a mother as well as her husband, her soldier son, her pregnant daughter (and still to today attack her daughter) and her disabled infant son.

From our side, we had people questioning Obama's citizenship (which still continues to this day in an insane, paranoid crusade), holding Obama's race against him (his blackness and/or his mixed blood, humorously), accusing him of being a closet Muslim terrorist despite the fact a huge scandal erupted over his loudmouthed Christian pastor, and countless bigoted statements and cartoons from so-called patriots.

Call me an elitist, but I believe pandering to the mob doesn't help the country all that much. I understand that in a democratic nation like ours the people are the last word on any politician or policy, as they should be, but the extent our leaders pander to the bottom of the intellectual barrel as they do today just shoves out any real chance we have at high minded debate. Political laymans, those who have a very shallow knowledge of politics and history, should not be the ones defining where our country goes.

Our Founders were not kids with a crush on Obama or wearers of large T-shirts with Sarah Palin's face painted on the front. Our Founders were some of the best and brightest people of their generation in British North America. They knew the difference between rights and privileges. They debated law, society, war and justice. They could tell when a king was overstepping his bounds in a constitutional monarchy. Today's laymans write to each other using a massacred version of the English language. Today's laymans read both US Weekly as well as political blogs (US Weekly being more accurate in its reporting). Today's laymans get enraged when a President uses his constitutional powers to listen in on our foreign enemies, but do not blink when Congress usurps the power of states to decide their own fates as they have with the stimulus package and as some want to do with gay marriage.

The need to inflame populist outrage has a lot to do with education. We don't teach critical thinking. We don't teach proper history or enforce proper economic teaching, let alone ideological history and proper identification of ideologies. We have professors teaching that fascism and communism are polar opposites when they are actually nearly the same. We have entire sections of American military history focused (Vietnam) on while others are blatantly ignored (War of 1812, early 1900s Progressive imperialism). These things should be taught in high school or elementary school. Our kids should be able to know what populism is before they vote, not after they have a tenured professor skip over the crimes of the Soviet Union so he can talk about the joys of the command economy.

There is nothing wrong with anyone talking politics or speaking out on politics. The First Amendment gives citizens the right to do so, but it does not means we have to listen to them or think they are smart. We should not be afraid of giving in to mobs just because they threatened to whine and bitch about something they thing is wrong. Like the AIG bonus anger, lowbrow populist anger over Rush Limbaugh's comments on how he wants President Obama's socialist agenda to fail misleads the general voting population, and I have little doubt the ringleaders of the mob intend for that to happen. Alas, relativity smart people like David Frum and David Brooks give in to such people, for reasons I don't know, but when they do it hurts the future of the conservative movement.

I'm pretty cynical on the future of my generation and its ability to think past the next issue of People or the next paycheck, but that does not mean we have to give up on the future of us or our children. Teach your children to read the news. Teach your kids to read the classic stories, to read history and economics. Teach your kids to remain loyal to country, not party.

If we can do that, maybe we can beat populism and the dumbing down of our citizenry and maybe we can have our wonderful nation last a little big longer as a intellectual powerhouse.

The Power of Images

Seven weeks in to his presidency, Barack Obama has made a few mistakes. Declaring a spending bill with 8000 earmarks had none, nominating tax cheats to top level positions in his administration, and giving the Prime Minister of the UK a gift of25 Classic Hollywood Movies on DVD (about $20 at Wal-Mart). The Prime Minister had given him a pen box made of wood from a British anti-slavery ship. Oops, someone's people didn't get in contact with someone else's people.

Like any politician, our new President will have an assortment of gaffes during his presidency. God knows President Bush had his share, from his mispronunciation of words to his strange ad-lib phrases (the OBGYN one being the strangest of all) to the few times his lost his stage direction. These things happen to every president and every president has been demonized, in part, based upon the perceived image people have of them. I think presidents should be evaluated upon their actions and inactions, not their sound bite or looped news clip played over and over in comedy shows or YouTube, but one cannot ignore the great impact a president's public image has upon how people view and ultimately respond to a president and his policies.

With Presidents Reagan and George Walker Bush, it became the staple of the opposition to declare and portray these two as unintelligent, crass cowboys looking to start fights wherever they went: President Reagen because if his Hollywood background and President Bush because of his Texas background. Of course, the point of these portrayals was to make the presidents look bad in the eyes of people who already have bad views of cowboys and other such rugged individualist icons. The people pushing such views were usually, but not exclusively, city-based politicians, cosmopolitan writers and journalists, city-based peace activists and various other members of society who believe in a softer (dare I say, feminine) form of president. It was President Reagan's ever-stalwart belief in confronting the USSR with both military, covert and economic means that put fear into the Left that he may trigger a nuclear war with his “cowboy” antics. It was (and still is) President Bush's belief that we must preempt any immediate and dangerous existential threat since 9/11 proved that simple deterrence and legal hand-wringing could not protect us from people who care not for our walls or our laws. Bush's “dead or alive” comments, his liberal use of the word “evildoers” and the tough-guy talk like “bring it on” when commenting on the insurgents seemed abhorrent to the anti-rugged left. They could not abide by a president who did not have the airs of sophistication or articulation. They attempted, and in many cases succeed, in sinking Bush's popularity with smears against his intelligence.

President Obama has, for now, garnered a image of inexperience on the diplomatic front. After winning the election, Obama made a dozen or so calls to allied world leaders. One leader he missed was the leader of India[1]. Being a the world's most populous democracy, a nuclear power, a major trade partner and an close ally in Far East, I would think it deserved a phone call by the newly elected leader of the world's only superpower. The next big flub came only a few weeks ago with the returning of a British present: the bust of Winston Churchill [2]. The UK gave us the priceless gift after 9/11 and told us it was on loan as long as we wanted it. President Bush kept the bust in the Oval Office for his entire presidency as a reminder of resolve in the face of adversity. Obama decided he didn't want it. It wasn't exactly our President calling the Prime Minister a “limey bastard” or anything like that, but to conservatives and probably to a segment of the British population, it was a slight against the most loved British leader in the past 100 years. Coupled with his newest gaffe, Obama seems to have not grasped (or does not care for) the importance of symbolism in international politics.

Symbols are in every aspect of our lives. Our alphabet is just a collective of symbols we've imbued with meaning (in this case, sounds associated with speech). Numbers are symbols we associate measure amounts with. Flags, statutes, signs, animals, choreographed bill signings, military marches, and so on; they all are part of the unavoidable symbolic world we live in. Nations and international relations play heavily upon symbolic gestures. When our president goes to a conference in Asia, all the dignitaries are dressed in the local clothing. When our president meets with leaders of a religious group, he does his best to accommodate their customs. When we meet allies, we do our best to make them feel like friends. These gestures are very important in keeping the public image of a nation sanguine with the population of the country they are trying to court.

Yet, what cannot be forgotten is a nation's ability to project symbolic resolve and collective will. President Bush's impromptu speech at Ground Zero a few days after 9/11 in which he declared that “the whole world can hear you [the FDNY]” and that those who attacked us would “hear all of us soon” was an amazing symbol of American resolve and American vengeance against those who would kill our citizens. NATO's invocation of Article 5, which states that any attack on a NATO member is an attack on every NATO member, was a symbol of the Europe's friendship with the US. After 9/11, these acts, among others (like Congress singing God Bless America) worked to shore up the American citizenry's morale and have them believe their government would take swift justice to those who wronged us (even if behind the scenes there was infighting and confusion on what exactly to do).

President Obama's early gaffes, while minor and not affecting our foreign relations in any major way, are a bad omen when our president's major campaign promises was to “repair” our relations across the world. The President's supporters are claiming he's doing that, but I don't really see it. I watched him basically apologize to the Muslim world for George W. Bush and our wars of defense and liberation on Arab television in his first major interview as president.[3] That interview was quite symbolic. The positive or negative of it depends on who you ask. Secretary of State Clinton has been to China and to a meeting of NATO delegates. In her meeting with China, she publicly begged the Chinese to continue buying US bonds, something that doesn't make the US look all that sturdy economically (which affects our stock market).[4] With NATO, her (ironically) symbolic gift to the Russian delegate had the wrong translation of the word “reset”, as in reset the bad relations we've had with them. Instead, it said “overload” in Russian.[5] D'oh!

As I said before, these gaffes are minor, but they do leave a foul taste in the mouth of any American concerned with this nation creating a strong and leading image abroad. Our President wanted to mend ties with a world that didn't like us so much due to the image of our previous president. Unless Mr. Obama is purposely trying to make the United States out to be clumsy and addled-minded when it comes to other nations (as the Left accused the previous administration countless times), he needs to step up his focus on what exactly he and our diplomats are saying. We cannot afford any of these small mistakes to become a major row.

Out of all the things Mr. Obama promised during his run, the one thing I could agree with without any reservation is the mending of ties and the creation of new allies. This is one campaign promise I hope he keeps.


The Choices We Made: How We Won Iraq By Ignoring the Left

There are actually people on the left gloating about Obama's withdrawal plan for Iraq. Apparently, the timetables the antiwar crowd and the Democrats have been pushing for are now a reality. For five years we've heard the whining about timetables, private military contractors, equipment and so on; for five years such talk was ignored, and rightly so. This is why.

I'll tackle the most controversial first: equipment. No one but the most ardent military haters could argue against our soldiers receiving the best equipment. We want our warriors as protected as they can be when the are at war. Alas, the military is supplied by the government, and the government, as we conservatives know, isn't close to being a reliable supplier of anything to the military, unless you want to live in a centralized military dictatorship like North Korea. Congressional pet projects, ideological debate, political partisanship, appropriation battles, turf wars, favored companies; all play in to the massive cluster**** our military ends up in when it comes to equipment supply during war. When Donald Rumsfeld told a soldier that

It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, ah, you go to war with the army you have---not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.---You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up... [1]

While being a massive PR bruise due to media repetition and liberal hysteria, what Rumsfeld said was factual. The military is in the business of war, and nothing is perfect: from the battle plan to the tires on the Humvee. This doesn't mean the government can skimp on equipment or any of us should defend the government when it happens, which happens a lot sadly (the Bush administration was rightly blasted for the problems with its supply line), but it doesn't mean left-wing antiwar activists can suddenly become the patrons of the military when it was their saint Clinton who cut the military nearly in half at a time US power was expanding across the world. Such dishonesty.

Speaking of Clinton's military cuts, that brings us to the private military contractors. These companies, full of former military and police elites, are necessary because of the liberals and the leftists. The Bush administration inherited a military cut by nearly 300 000 personnel, hundreds of ships and planes as well as an axing of six infantry divisions.[2] Afghanistan was the perfect war for our downsized military, but Iraq was much harder due to the split of old alliances by the antiwar bloc in Europe and those in the Coalition. A bigger country with a much more centralized population, the underestimated number of troops needed by Rumsfeld and the Pentagon as well as the early blunders by the Collation Provisional Authority with the Iraqi army, it was very apparent that not all security missions could be taken up by the military alone. Things like embassy security, personnel security, contracted convoy security and other such tasked needed to be taken up by private firms while the military fought the growing insurgency by the Ba'athists and the invasion of mass amounts of Al Qeada terrorists. When the involvement of PMCs became news, right on cue the left wing threw its arms up in disgust with these “mercenaries” (used as a pejorative). The irony, of course, flew right over them.

Now, timetables are something we all heard ever since the first bomb was dropped on Ba'athist Iraq. When are we gonna leave? Why isn't there an exit strategy? Such questions, like all things, have their time and place. Asking for timetables and threatening to cut off aid during the height of the insurgency or during the Surge isn't very appropriate, now is it? The reason Obama even has the ability to announce withdrawal is because President Bush finally smartened up to the failing “withdrawal is victory” mantra that was deeply rooted in his commanders and kicked out the failing generals and replaced them with General David Petraeus, who turned around the war in one year with the Surge and a new community oriented strategy. At the time of his confirmation, he was lambasted by the left and the Surge itself was ridiculed as a failure even before it was implemented. Surprise, surprise, the irony flies over the leftist as the Surge has stabilized a free and democratic Iraq and allowed for the very timetables for withdrawal. But I don't expect you'll hear anything close to praise for General Petraeus or the success of the Surge from those who now benefit politically from it.

The left wing has an odd history with war. During the First and Second World Wars the left was literally up in arms, wanting to kill the Kaiser and snuff out Hitler. But when the Cold War began and the enemy wasn't monarchism or fascism, but their papa Communism, suddenly the pillar of liberalism became peace and isolation, but only if you forget that it was Johnson who expanded the Vietnam War and that Clinton had more interventions and military conflicts than Bush. Now, that the generation of the 60s and the subsequent generations born into a exponentially prosperous America have taken over the nation's leadership, it seems that the more liberally minded of them wish to forget their blood lust (read: the 1990s) and save America from its imperial self. Good luck, since President Obama has taken up most of President Bush's security policies and has pushed for upping the ante in Afghanistan.

Gloat all you want, left-wing. The only reason you can push your programs and claim peace is that we fought for victory and attained it over your objections.



Common Lies: Taking Advantage of an Uneducated Public

Not everyone knows history as in-depth as others. Some only get an inkling of our past and those some rely on what's termed “common knowledge” for conversation. Tidbits like the stock market crash created the Depression or that Hoover was a free marketer. When asked to explain how they know this, they defer to the higher ups who taught them or told them. The ever-dwindling knowledge of history leads to our current predicament: the passing of the “stimulus” package.

Faking history for political gain is not a left-wing or right-wing trait. Politicians of all stripes, colors and animal symbolism tweak or outright massacre history to get their agenda made into law. In today's case, its been the Democrats and the left who have fudged history so badly that it is a complete one-eighty of reality. To get a $800 billion dollar “stimulus” package past a skeptical public, one has to make that public believe that government spending in a time of recession works and that free market solutions will only lead to more misery. The Dems and the left link today's problem with the Great Depression, a free market President Bush with free market President Hoover (in reality, both believed in harnessing the government for economic ends) and the prosperity of the late 1940s with the stimulus package's spending (the 1940s had war spending, the Dems want social spending). On their faces, these comparisons are false because the “common knowledge” history they are based on are false.

For example, today's credit crisis was a gradual downturn that began with the decline in the national housing market. That downturn was accentuated by the government mandated practice (Community Reinvestment Act) of lending to high-risk, minority borrowers looking to get a home. In turn, those high risk borrowers were given interest rates and/or mortgage plans in accordance with there bad/lack of credit. Adjustable rate mortgages and interest-only loans dominated the housing market and those mortgages were then turned into securities by the banks and traded (an idea, while free market in principle, is just stupid). When the high risk borrowers turned out to be exactly what their credit score said they were the market slumped. Those defaulted loans made those traded securities worthless, and the banks that hedged their books on those securities went down as well. For the most part, the Great Depression began as a unusually hard recession, but was amplified. Not by greed. Not by capitalism. In fact, it was government. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act leveed heavy costs on imports. In retaliation, the world did the same. World trade died, money dried up and the global economy shrunk. Not because of free flow of capital, but of government restriction of it.

Contrast this history with the “common knowledge” pontificated by our dear Congressional Democrats and the media. Speaker of the House Pelosi attacks Wall Street and invokes the myth capitalism broke America. Congressman Barney Frank, the man behind the financial regulation committee, calls Wall Street bonuses bribes when, as Congress's financial honcho, he should know that Wall Street firms pay their employees through a meritocracy, with yearly bonuses taking place of commissions. Even President Obama railed on the country's financial core for its immorality and blamed free markets at the same time his nominations for Health and Human Services and Treasury have major glitches in their tax payments. All this sounds a little bit populist and little less historic.

One can't be blamed for thinking the Democrats are trying to take advantage of our state-amplified downturn to light a populist fire. The “stimulus” package has more to do with expanding government, the biggest cause of our current position and a Democratic baby, than with economic growth. When there is more money going towards broken entitlement programs than small business tax cuts; when there is more money going to Washington renovation than to corporate tax cuts (our corporate taxes are one of the highest in the world), there is certainly something very rotten in Denmark.

There will come a time in American history when a radical shift is needed. During the Cold War, it came under the name of Ronald Reagan, confrontation and offensive liberty. With our concerns more focused on ourselves than our external Islamist enemy, we need to have a radical shift in perspective again. We can no longer hold ourselves up with a dollar losing its value due to our debt. We can no longer live on promises of paying back the future generations. We can no longer try to keep ourselves afloat on half-baked pseudo-economic theories (I'm looking at you, Keynesians!) that promise to keep us exactly where we are with little consequence.

To live through adversity, you must lose something.

To escape the fire, you must get burned.

To be able to prosper economically, you must first scrape the dead ideas and dead industry from your nation and then fuel growth with free-flowing capital. You can't do that by bailing out California's irresponsible legislature or rolling back every reasonable welfare reform made by Newt's Republicans.

The only way this “stimulus” and its base idea gain traction is by someone or something taking advantage of a lack of education and using it for their political ends. This is exactly what the Democrats have done with the public school system's failure to educate its wards in accurate history. I learned what I have from using my own to feet to take me to the local library or to the book store so I could buy books recommended by actual economists (check out Amy Shales) and actual historians, not by failed comedians-turned-mouthpieces. I used my common sense and an open mind to revise my world view. I did not cry like a baby when the “common knowledge” perceptions drilled into me by mothering teachers and politicians were challenged.

I, like any self-respecting independent human being, learned.

All it takes is the idea that politicians and pundits are wrong.

I don't think that's a concept that's hard to understand.

Questioning Intelligence

With Senator Patrick Lahey of Vermont hoping to spear President Bush with a thousand needles of so-called war crimes [1], it has become apparent even those privy to the procedures and effectiveness of our intelligence gathering lack the gray matter to properly understand it. For years, pretty much from 9/12, President Bush was attacked by the far left on the treatment of terror suspects. As we took the Global War on Terror to Saddam's spider hole, the liberals and the Democrat party as a whole began to take on the arguments of the far left and were quick to accuse the president and the military of torture. A word used way too much these days by people who don't know what it is.

The method of interrogation targeted by the antiwar crowd has been water boarding. Used for hundreds of years under many names, water boarding basically creates the fear of drowning in its indented subject. Images of the Khmer Rouge's use of it were viral across the blogosphere and on TV when it came to light that we were using water boarding, except that modern water boarding used by our intelligence agents is not intended to create pain for pain's sake, as it was before.

The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt. [2]

At no time is the subject under threat of actual drowning from swallowing water, as it was with old water boarding techniques used by the Khmer Rouge or the Imperial Japanese during World War II. The intent of the method is to activate the instinctive gag reflex to create an uncomfortable situation for the subject. Out of the 600 plus prisoners that have graced the cages of Gitmo, only three have been water boarded, according to the CIA [3], or a dozen have, according to ex-CIA sources [2]. In no way is it as prevalent as the antiwar-human rights-leftist groups would have you believe. Also, something that may be unknown (unlikely) to these groups, modern water boarding is used on our own soldiers. The Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program puts soldiers under intense, but not life threatening situations, that include water boarding, to strengthen them against enemy interrogations. [4]

Harsh interrogation has saved many, many lives and stopped many, many plots. Specifically, a plot called the West Coast Plot, featured at National Review, was discovered and disrupted due to the use of harsh interrogation of terrorist Abu Zubaydah.

Zubaydah was captured in a gun battle and severely injured. The CIA arranged medical care, saving his life. After he recovered, Zubaydah provided what he thought was nominal information—including that KSM's alias was "Muktar," something our intelligence community did not know. But he soon ceased all cooperation. It was clear to his interrogators that he had received interrogation resistance training, and the traditional methods were not working. So the CIA employed alternative interrogation techniques. And Zubaydah started talking.

He provided information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh—one of the key plotters of the 9/11 attacks and a close associated of KSM. Bin al Shibh was the mastermind behind a plot for a follow-on attack to hijack airplanes in Europe, and fly them into Heathrow airport. Now he was off the street and the Heathrow plot was setback.

Together, bin al Shibh and Zubaydah provided information that led to the capture of KSM.

Once in custody, KSM refused to cooperate, until enhanced interrogation techniques—including waterboarding—were used. Then he began to talk.

He gave us information about another terrorist in CIA custody named Majid Khan. KSM told us that Khan had been tasked to deliver $50,000 to a Southeast Asian terrorist named Zubair—an operative with the terrorist network Jemmah Islamiyah, or JI.

Confronted with this information, Khan confirmed KSM's account and gave us information that led to the capture of Zubair.

Zubair then provided information that led to the capture of a JI terrorist leader named Hambali—KSM's partner in developing the West Coast plot. Their strategy was to used Southeast Asian operatives, since KSM knew we would be on the lookout for Arab men.

Told of Hambali's capture, KSM identified Hambali's brother "Gun Gun" as his successor and provided information that led to his capture.

Hambali's brother then gave us information that led us to a cell of 17 JI operatives that were going to carry out the West Coast plot. [5]

I have a question for these groups: Are you truly willing to stop all harsh interrogation of captured terrorists because you so doubt the professionalism of our armed forces and covert agents that you believe they'd use a last resort technique on someone who may be innocent even though they have literal tons of pages of information on those within their authority to interrogate? Do you really hold our national security apparatus in such low esteem?

I'm not sure on the specifics of each groups' opinion, but some would say yes.

We are at war. We are at war with a covert, ruthless and very political enemy that does not follow the rules of war set down by the international community and whose goal is a worldwide cultural and religious cleansing based on a perversion of Islam mixed with the insane revolutionary zeal of vanguard parties (right from the pages of Marxist-Leninist theory on gaining power). In war, you do not prosecute the enemy if they are not American. You kill or imprison them until the war is over. Clinton lawyered terrorists and that got us 9/11.

We learned that lesson.



Lessons From Jawbreaker: A Summary of Mistakes

Everyone has an idea of how terrorist leader Osama bin Laden got away during the battle of Tora Bora in late 2001. Some say it was the Pakistanis or the Northern Alliance's fault. Others blame George Bush in a myriad of theories from pure Texan idiocy to keeping the enemy perpetuating as to profit from the gains of war. Everyone has and idea, but only one is true. Former CIA agent Gary Bernstein, the man behind our quick victory in Afghanistan, tells us the truth: it was inaction and bureaucratic politics.

Mr. Bernstein, a twenty year veteran of the clandestine service, beings his story with a jarring phone call in the very early hours of August 7, 1998. He is told of two attacks against our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and rushes in to the office to deal with the problem. His expertise being on Hezbullah, the assumption is that Hezbullah has decided to extend its reach to attack softer American targets, but it is not beyond his doubt that Osama bin Laden's men might be trying to make their mark.

After going to Africa to investigate the damage and attempt to locate and extract the terrorist planers, he and a team of agents known as Jawbreaker entered Afghanistan in early 2000 to find and, if ordered, kill or extract Osama bin Laden. Yet, even before they can truly establish themselves, the first signs of the deadly bureaucratic fear within the CIA shows its face when Jawbreaker is extracted due to its unstable section chief's instance the team was in deep danger. It would only get worse from there.

Right after 9/11 the Agency was in full gear to insert several teams into Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a mosaic of many cultures and languages (Tajik, Uzbek, Pashtun, etc; Dari, Farsi, Pashtun, Arabic, etc), with Pashtun and Dari-learned agents being rarer beyond belief. Mr. Bernstein was told by his boss to gather a team and so he did, but one agent came at the expense of the Translation department. The new head of the Counterterrorism Center (Mr. Bernstein's department), apparently unaware of the impeding war against the Taliban and Al-Qeada, ordered the essential agent back to translating newspapers, wedding certificates and laundry lists found in terror hideouts instead of being in on the front lines [1].

The ground war against the Isalmists went very well, led by the reformed Jawbreaker team. 350 Special Forces troops, 110 CIA agents and the US Air Force along with 15 000 Northern and Eastern Alliance Afghans defeated a combined Taliban-Al Qeada army numbering near 60 000 in only two months. It was a feat that would be considered more notable than General McArthur's miracle landing at Inchon, according Micheal O'Hanlan of the Brookings Institution [2].

It was in the mountains of Tora Bora where the hunt for our enemies went wrong. Jawbreaker Juliet, a forward team from Jawbreaker, had found a major terrorist base and set up observation posts to direct air strikes on them. An agent on his way to meet up with Jawbreaker Juliet came across a functional radio tuned to Al Qeada's frequency. He heard Osama bin Laden address his fanatics. They had him! The Eastern Alliance had surrounded the terrorists, though the generals within the Eastern Alliance were untrustworthy at best (many of them formerly under the Taliban's pay). Mr. Bernstein requested that 800 US Army Rangers be deployed to shore up the Eastern Alliance and to eventually make a strike at bin Laden's surviving cadre, but his requests were constantly turned down day after day. Even with the knowledge of the location of world's most wanted private citizen, the military refused to engage. The rivalry between the CIA (who was pursuing the war with ungodly aggression) and the military (who whined about notifications and use of assets) had come to a head and in the end it cost us a chance to capture or kill the man who murdered 3000 of our brothers and sisters.

From reading Jawbreaker, I see that in a war such as the one we fight against Islamist terrorists, the old walls must come down now more than ever. In a war when civilians and military are interchangeable on our enemy's side, we must also be able to have civilians (CIA) and the military be able to act as one to capture and kill those who would plan murderous acts like 9/11 and Operation Bojinka [3] (an attack on twelve planes heading to America from East Asia). The left wing's constant crowing about the need to try terror suspects, or to do away with the military side of the war and rely on criminal prosecutions, is and always will be a short-sighted, bureaucratic approach to an enemy that does not have the burden of a bloated network of paper-pushers, uninformed activists and agenda-driven politicians taking a magnifying glass to every action done and grumbling over every little thing warranted or not.

A philosophy I've heard recently is that it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Reading Jawbreaker has solidified my belief that in a war such as we fight, we can ask for forgiveness for what we do after we've saved American lives from the wrath of radical political Islam.


1. Jawbreaker: The Attack on bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Three Rivers Press. Paperback. p.80
2. Ibid. p.313


...for the lack of postings for months. The site is a busy place, a long with having a job and marriage and other such things.

I'm going to post all my articles from and hash out another Utahn within the next week.