Archive for the ‘Domestic’ Category
“If there’s one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting women from violence.”
So tweeted Valerie Jarret in the same hour that Leon Panetta made the announcement that the Pentagon would allow women to serve in combat. I’m with Jarret. Here’s my supporting statement:
“My fervent prayer for future warfare: all fighting will be done by a few 18-year-old male geeks in really cool machines far, far away from the planet earth.”
(Kind of like BattleBots–best sport ever. Look it up.)
Yes, the 20th Century fell a bit short in terms of protecting women from violence, didn’t it? All that strategic bombing. All that total war. From crossbow to hydrogen bomb the history of warfare since Napoleon’s rise has been one of greater and greater “inclusion”–including the “equal-opportunity” citizens of Warsaw, London, Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo or Hiroshima. The relatively recent development of smart bombs, precision-guided munitions, laser technologies seemed to offer the beginning of a technical end-run from the massive slaughter of civilians. Okay, nothing in war is pleasant, but it’s an improvement over say, the bombing and use of napalm on North Vietnam that occurred in my lifetime. Somehow, the US military and the Admin seems bound and determined to quarantine that progress, to neglect the value of that trend. Perhaps because it will never work perfectly; there will be human shields, there will be munition factories staffed by pregnant women, there will be awful bumps in the road.
But stay the course: the US must consistently signal that it is against “inclusion” in warfare–that it really is taboo, as a species, to indiscriminately kill women, children and the aged, that we genuinely want to shrink the target set, that don’t endorse doomsday strategies. One critical way to do that is to continue the trend of making US combat troops increasingly professional and yes, increasingly rare.
Although Nat Hentoff is an atheist and a leftist, he took a pro-life position in the abortion debate. His main exhibit was a thought experiment: imagine a woman being bayoneted; imagine a pregnant woman being bayoneted; notice the emotional and moral distinction between the two images. I submit that moral picture applies to war as well.
No top-down policy can erase, or wish away, our species-wide instinct to protect those who give life–or our inability to forgive those who hurt them. For it is those sorts of atrocities–pregnant women, young mothers and children being killed in Belgium for example–that gave birth to the Western trenches of World War I, and ultimately, to strategic bombing, to the age of genocide that we have just passed through.
Stimulated by the politically galvanizing effect of the tragic Newtown shooting, I suspect that there are more than a few in the Administration who harbor secret fantasies, who never want a serious crisis to go to waste; at the expense of a few female atrocities, the US engaging in warfare will become simply too painful. War itself will become impossible.
You might ask: Is it really possible that members of the Administration want to use my niece in combat so they can shed crocodile tears over her body-bag in some perverse political photo-op? Well, yes. And if that’s the motivation, even if it’s a subconsciousness one, it’s a deeply immoral impulse. I mean, why not enlist my nine-year-old or my aging dad in combat too–just like the defense of Berlin? But even if such a plan–to make warfare taboo through the use of limited female sacrifice–is justified by a conscious, chilly, utilitarian calculation of long-term morality and the greater good, as long as an enemy lives and breathes, the calculation is flawed by its essential ignorance. Following the Great War, Douhet’s Theory of strategic bombing–which most intelligent people subscribed to at the time–premised exactly the same idea. After the first bombs were dropped on urban centers, the common people in horror and revulsion would rise up and force their leaders to sue for peace. How did that work out in London in 1940? Or, for that matter, in Berlin? History shows, quite conclusively, that we are not just an aggressive species. Once war begins, we are a deeply vengeful one.
There may be many noble motives at work within the Administration and the highest level of the Pentagon. I don’t preclude that. But their naive assumptions have proliferated to the point of irrationality. Women in combat is a Pandora’s Box which contains the potential to usher in a second age of total war.
2172 Rayburn HOB, 2:30 PM, September 12, 2012:
Thank you for inviting me to participate in this profoundly important hearing. Beginning in 2006, I began conducting comprehensive interviews with medical professionals, Chinese law enforcement personnel, and over 50 refugees from the Laogai System, in order to piece together the story of how mass harvesting from prisoners of conscience evolved in China. Based on my research, the practice began in Xinjiang in the late 1990s. By 2001 the practice expanded nationwide, with Falun Gong providing a much larger, and frequently anonymous, pool of potential ‘donors.’
Yet my time today is short. I too was skeptical when I began my investigation, as some of you may be today. So instead of offering my conclusions, I invite you to draw your own conclusions from my evidence—twelve witnesses, each of whom fills in a critical piece of the organ harvesting puzzle—before I speculate, briefly, on the implications and the full human cost.
I received permission to extract my review from behind the National Review paywall. Thanks guys, I appreciate that. Now I’m passing the savings on to you.
Reluctant Dragon – Ethan Gutmann reviews Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, by Ezra F. Vogel.
Over the past few decades, an increasing number of scholars have come to interpret Western history less as a linear progression and more as a periodic cycle punctuated by crises, of which our current economic disaster is the most recent. Yet even in the realist precincts of social science, some still long for a classic narrative structure, progressive motion, and world-historical heroes.
They have had slim pickings. In the early 1980s, attention fell briefly, unsatisfactorily, on Japan. As Japan’s growth flatlined, and the once-promising Soviet Union dissolved, the hero-meter edged toward China. Given China’s meteoric rise since that time, the needle has had little reason to wander. Employing projections from Chinese trajectories, academia generates serial predictions of China’s dominating the century, while interpretations of recent Chinese history bend slightly to explain and meet those projections. And for those who believe in the current and historical narrative of China’s linear progress, there is no greater patron saint than Deng Xiaoping.
In this shaky, unsustainable age of free content and bargain-rate kindle, it is understandable that National Review would want to keep my review of Tim Johnson’s new book behind the paywall. Fair enough. Lord knows, I can relate. But David Kilgour informs me that he is putting it up for free on his website tonight. So go to David’s website and look around, lots of interesting stuff there. Alternately, since the barn door is open, you can read my take on the book here.
“If you are going to read one magazine article today, let it be this one.” Tom Ricks, ForeignPolicy.com
The Weekly Standard, February 1st, 2010:
OK, it should have happened a decade ago and it’s awfully late in the day. But by openly anchoring their opposition to censorship to PROFIT, not just human rights, Google is not only rebuking the Cisco-Yahoo-Nortel paradigm of seeking revenues from the Chinese government’s demand for censorship and surveillance technologies–they have turned it on its head.
Full-throated, no kidding, loud and clear now: All hail Google!!! Put my book on the web, sell my surfing scores to advertisers, whatever…I won’t forget this moment.
Anyone reading through this blog will know that I’m not a scientist. OK, I am literate and not an easy pushover for rigid ideological frameworks, but what could I possibly add to a scientific debate? Yet my little layman observations have been gnawing at me for some time now. And while I have been a genuine agnostic about the man-made global warming theory, I find myself becoming increasingly skeptical and dismissive. Two reasons. First, because global temperatures haven’t really risen for a decade (although I readily admit that could just be a blip in the long-term data). Secondly, because the credibility of so many advocates of the theory feels well, shaky. And that’s what this nobody-asked-me-but post is all about.
“In a sign of discomfort with the White House stance, Fox’s television news competitors refused to go along with a Treasury Department effort on Tuesday to exclude Fox from a round of interviews with the executive-pay czar Kenneth R. Feinberg that was to be conducted with a “pool” camera crew shared by all the networks. (New York Times, October 22, 2009: full article here).