24 January 2010

Survival, DIYism and Haiti

I have written multiple times on survival of disasters and how you can cope with disaster through preparation. Here is what I have said in the first of a series of articles on survival, although I had written about the same topic before that in much the same way:

The #1 thing I learned while hiking, camping, driving and so on is that you keep necessities with you so you don't waste time and energy on worrying.  The moment you sit to worry, or sit to think, or sit to do anything but rest for a few minutes, then you are no longer thinking about surviving what life is handing you.  The act of worrying when you need to be surviving is to not be surviving and that ends up in a very bad place for you... and whoever has to come and get your carcass out from where you worried yourself to death.

Nor can you think your way to surviving.  You can only DO your way to surviving and when you do something wrong you admit it and then change what you are doing to account for it.  If you aren't doing, you aren't actually thinking about what you need to do to survive.  Plenty of time for self-recrimination when you get back out of your situation to whatever passes for civilization.

This describes a mind-set, a way of approaching life and problems.  I recognize it as such and it works for me rather well, YMMV.

When disaster strikes I look at those caught in the midst of it and ask myself: 'Did that person plan on surviving?'

It may seem rough, crude, nasty but life is all those things and mother nature is not kind to you.  Disasters can and do strike at the most inopportune times, namely when you least expect them to.  That is why they are called 'disasters' and not 'carnival rides'.  In a disaster that strikes anyone, your chances of 'being saved' depends completely on your ability to survive past the disaster.  Getting through a major earthquake, aircraft falling out of the sky, being shipwrecked, stranded by the roadside when your car skids off into a ditch... all of these requires a mode of thought to kick in which puts your survival first and foremost.  If you have others with you, then you cannot help them if you do not survive.  I'm sorry if this is a shock to you, but if you love someone, dearly, your best way to save them (save in lovely  circumstances of 'its either them or me' often seen in works of fiction and less often in real life) is to ensure that you can survive.  A man trapped with a boulder crushing his forearm and being alone had one choice and took it: he cut off his forearm.  And survived.  Family units that break up for a father to go out and bravely seek assistance often finds either the father or the family dead.  Sticking together to share resources and skills is a damned good idea, but circumstances can dictate that staying where you are is lethal.

Looking at the disaster in Haiti, we see a Nation that has not prepared its infrastructure for an earthquake there, and they are not unknown on the island.  With so many collapsed buildings it is safe to say that the building codes were not up to snuff or, if they were, that the companies doing the construction did not adhere to them and they passed inspection anyway.  Emergency services are lacking and absent on the ground in a real sort of way with police stations, fire houses and even hospitals collapsing due to the quake.  Nor are there indications that the power infrastructure, potable water lines and sewage infrastructure were in any way prepared for this sort of event.  The main harbor to the Nation at Port au Prince is a mess and it is safe to say that it was not built up to codes to resist earthquakes as now the US Sea Bees are on the job to clear the harbor for shipping.  The finger-pointing by most commentators is to a lackluster government, full of corruption and creating more poverty as they do not return any essential services in a concrete way for the money taxed from the citizenry.  That impoverishment means the average Haitian is dependant upon the government for any largesse that can be dispensed, and becomes an electable kleptocracy where past governors take the money and run, when they do not situate themselves in for a permanent life term.

This is a Nation that can not do on its own, and at the slightest disaster the entire Nation needs 'saving'.  Yet, sharing the island with Haiti, is the Dominican Republic that appears, even while poor, to be doing a bit better job of running itself in the exact same climate, geography and geophysical circumstances as their poor neighbor.  Thus what is seen is not a lack in natural resources, not a lack in personal fortitude and not a  lack capability as all men are created equal.  What is seen is an outgrowth of a lack in society and its organ called government.  If there is something wrong with the organ then that is a reflection of the society: as night follows day, a corrupt government is indicative of a society that is corruptible.  You cannot get the government like that without assent from the people of the Nation for it.  That assent may be coerced, yes, as it is with dictators the world over willing to kill their way to power and threaten their own citizens and make them subjects, so too that may be the case with Haiti.  If that is the case then our past experience will tell us this is so.

Past experience, you ask?

For what I have heard from a limited portion of commentators in the media wanting the US to 'take over' Haiti for a few months and get things running, there is a deep and extreme caution flag that they are missing.  America has been there and done that before.  And not just for a few months, either.

One of the seminal papers on US Counter-Insurgency (COIN) was done by Peter L. Bunce with a work published on 05 JUN 1995 in Foundations On Sand: An Analysis Of The First United States Occupation Of Haiti 1915-1934.  As COIN is something we have gotten to experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Colombia, Philippines and elsewhere, it behooves us to understand the goals, execution and results of a COIN operation that was done in our past in the exact, same Nation by the United States.  The Executive Summary of the paper is telling:

Thesis: The first United States Occupation of Haiti, after a slow start, made a great variety of capital improvements for Haiti, made changes in the Haitian political system, and refinanced the Haitian economy, none of which had much lasting impact on the Haiti people once the occupation was terminated.

Background: The United States occupied Haiti originally to restore public order in 1915. It's self-imposed mandate quickly expanded to reestablishing Haitian credit in the international credit system, establishing good government and public order, and promoting investment in Haitian agriculture and industry. After a slow start, marred by a brutal revolt in 1918-20, the United States Occupation of Haiti was reorganized and began to address many of the perceived shortcomings of Haitian society. Its international and internal debt was refinanced, substantial public works projects completed, a comprehensive hospital system established, a national constabulary (the Gendarmerie [later Garde] d'Haiti) officered and trained by Marines, and several peaceful transitions of national authority were accomplished under American tutelage. After new civil unrest in 1929, the United States came to an agreement to end the Occupation before its Treaty-mandated termination in 1936. Once the Americans departed in 1934, Haiti reverted to its former state of various groups competing for national power to enrich themselves. Almost all changes the American Occupation attempted to accomplish failed in Haiti because they did not take into consideration the Haitian political and social culture.

Recommendation: Before the United States intervenes in foreign countries, particularly in those where nation-building improvements are to be attempted, the political and social cultures of those countries must be taken into consideration.

The Thesis is, itself, telling.  Those in the areas of commentary and punditry could learn something from that Thesis which is the seminal distillation of the entire work.  Any calls to improve the Haitian infrastructure, clean up its political system and get the Haitian economy going fell apart as soon as the US left Haiti.  In the Background is the telling sentence I highlighted that points to the failure of the infrastructure being rooted in Haitian political and social culture, not the fault of the 'occupiers' who created a then modern infrastructure, financed its farming and banking system, and installed a political group to run Haiti.  From that the Recommendation is well founded and the US, outside of wartime work, must examine when it intervenes in foreign Nations and determine what, if anything, can be done through the good will and money of the people of the United States in regards to the country we are involved with.  That Recommendation is the largest warning flag to be put up for all of those seeking 'humanitarian missions' and 'peace keeping' operations and are then unwilling to examine the society, culture and political structure of those areas that they want intervention.  It is a hard lesson the United States learned in blood and money put into a Nation that could not, for all of the niceness of its individuals, keep that infrastructure going even after they had been trained to do so.

Any goals for 'humanitarian missions' must take into consideration that while all men are created equal, they form different and unique societies that are unequal to each other and that some will operate far, far better than others.  That is no aspersion on the individuals, although the society is reflective of them, but of the inability to examine the society involved in an honest manner and ask: 'just what can these people sustain once we leave them?'

To examine the roots of the problem you do not look at 'root causes' but see the roots, themselves, and how they exist and function.  You do not start with presumed 'root causes' and see if they match against some pre-determined checklist, but, instead, see what functions, how it functions and why it functions the way it does to see what the causes of problems actually are.  That is a much harder job than blithely pointing at 'root causes' because it leads one out of gauzy theory and multi-culti blandness and into the cold, hard world of examination and seeing the illnesses of society as they exist, not as you think they exist.  You cannot think your way to survival but only do your way to survival and, similarly, you cannot think your way to the causes of societal problems via theory, only the actual doing of examination.  If you do not think before you do, then you are likely to screw things up and if you can't examine the actual problems when you form your plan you are likely to fail.  Thus any good analysis paper starts with examining things as they are:

By the turn of the 20th Century, Haiti was a deeply troubled country. Its society, since the revolutions, had always been divided. In the absence of the French colonialists--all of whom fled the country in 1804 or were killed--the mulâtres, the mulatto class, approximately three percent of the population, assumed the social role of the colonials. The peasantry, almost exclusively African in ancestry, remained peasants. The elite of Haiti, who for all intents and purposes ran (and run) Haiti, are largely, not exclusively, mulâtres. Noirs, particularly those with a military background or powerbase, could become part of the elite, and often ruled Haiti. But Haiti was and is most often administered for the benefit of the elite, and the elite are heavily mulâtre. "As in colonial Saint Domingue [Haiti], where the gens de couleur and black slaves hated each other, racial antagonism persisted between the elite and the black peasantry of Haiti."4

This is long after Haiti became an independent country in 1804.  And while it would still suffer from its original association with France, the shift of power inside the Nation to an elite, minority class was a result of its history as a colony.  The division in society between the mulatto and blacks served as a long term divisive factor in the Nation.  External factors do play a role in that period before the first US occupation, as seen in the corrupt banking system:

The Banque Nationale d'Haiti was Haiti's treasury and fiscal agent. Instead of being a financial entity controlled by the Haitian government, it was a French stock company, owned principally by French banks, led by the Banque de l'Union Parisienne. It charged a commission on the Haitian issue of paper currency and on the cashing of checks. Since the French blacklisted Haiti on the world financial markets, so as to keep the Haitian account for themselves, the French funneled all loans to the government through the Banque, often at outrageous discounts*.12 To give an example of French loan practices, Haitian obstacles to establishing a bank in 1874 was multiplied by the various political and financial thieves inside and outside Haiti:

[Late 19th Century political leader Antenor]Firmin and historian Antione Magloire say the loan was 60 million francs, to be repaid in forty annual installments of 7.5 million francs, a return of 400 percent. [Dantes] Bellegarde says 50 million francs, but that the Crédit-Général in Paris was able to raise only 36.5 million, of which 26 million went to intermediaries and private pockets in Port-au-Prince and Paris, while the remaining 10 million francs were used to liquidate, at par, a mountain of worthless Haitian bonds bought up as scrap paper by European speculators. The Crédit-Général's commission alone exceeded 9.5 million francs.13

Finally chartered in 1880, the Banque Nationale d'Haiti lost its charter in 1905, after refusing to back Nord Alexis' blizzard of paper money. A five year period of intense competition between French, German, and American (relative newcomers) banking interests ensued over rechartering a new bank. Finally, in late 1910, the Haitian legislature voted to dissolve the Banque Nationale d'Haiti, and created a new Banque Nationale de la République d'Haiti, which moved into the old Banque's headquarters. French banking interests, which put the package together with several German-American private banks, diplomatically invited in American interests (including the infamous National City Bank14). The French had a 75% interest in the new bank, the Americans and the German-American banks 20%, and the German Berliner Handelsgesellschaft Bank 5%. Not surprisingly, the new $13 million loan was discounted to $9.4 million.15

The government that backed this, in Haiti, was neither wise, smart or had any foresight.  They would further back a railroad scheme by James P. McDonald that would effectively give him rights to half the land in Haiti for putting down a railroad.  That rail line was never completed, but did lead to an unrest and an uprising in the northern highlands.  Those highlands served as the place where mercenaries had traditionally gathered to serve the local tribal Kings, and they attacked the railroad camps and then the government itself.  That racial division, then, served as one causative factor to an insurrection and the short-sightedness of the ruling elite then served as another: neither one is indicative on its own, and both required the long tradition of local tribes hiring mercenaries to come to a head as had happened before in Haiti.

Thus the 'root causes' argument of Haiti being the fault of France/US/Germany can be dispensed with.  If Haiti had a functioning society it would seek to smooth out the differences between the urban, elite culture and the rural, tribal culture and offer opportunities for 'buy-in' by that rural culture without having to go through elitist intermediaries.  No one has forced that societal structure on the Haitians, and while it was an artifact of colonial rule, that rule directly ended in 1804 with the rulers fled or dead.  Yes France did play a role in the system, without a doubt and is a causative factor.  The society, itself, by adhering to that for over a century is a primary factor: any society that wanted to do without such meddling, without an elite class, would have removed them either peacefully or under force of arms.  The tribes had demonstrated that capability and by 1910 it would begin the ball rolling to further internal disasters.

If we replace kleptocratic elites for the French, you then get the same power structure with a different formulation of who gets what, but retaining the same societal agenda that was previously set.  No amount of 'reparations' would improve this, and the similar work about to be undertaken by the US underscores that.  You cannot 'make right' with money a society and culture that is failing.

Skipping ahead past sorry turmoil, insurrections and such, we come to 1915 the US President is Woodrow Wilson noted for his not wanting to get involved in the European World War that was going on, wanting to be the big peace maker and generally be a Progressive in pushing forward an isolationist agenda militarily but an expansive global agenda in other realms and the Admiral is Caperton of the (CA) USS Washington:

In July 1915, the Washington, Rear Admiral Caperton embarked, sat in Port au Prince harbor as still another Haitian presidency wound its way to a messy conclusion. This time it was Guillaume Sam, who was besieged in his palace by a new challenger, Dr. Rosalvo Bobo. At daybreak on 27 July 1915, Sam made a break for the French legation next door. Sam made it, although most of the people accompanying him did not. He sent a message to his chief of police, Charles-Oscar Etienne, at the police Arrondissement in the lower city, to the effect that his presidency was over and that Etienne should follow the dictates of his own conscience ["La partie est perdue, j'abandonne le pouvoir. Faites ce que votre conscience vous dictera."]. Accounts vary, but somewhere between 160 and 'nearly 200' political prisoners, from Haiti's mulâtre elite--including ex-president Oreste Zamor, died. The next day, a mob of the elite attacked Guillaume Sam in the French legation and murdered him. Sam's mutilated body was dragged through the streets. Having received a green light from the State Department via the Acting Secretary of the Navy, Caperton met with the American and British chiefs of mission and the French minister aboard the Washington and, with their concurrence, decided to land troops and restore order.24

While his small landing force secured the legations in Port au Prince, Admiral Caperton had a problem. With Guillaume Sam dead, there was no one really in charge in the city. There was a revolutionary committee formed by General Polynice,25 Charles Zamor (brother of the recently deceased ex-president), and others*, but no one, at least to American eyes appeared to be in charge. The landing force was disarming what remained of the Haitian Army in Port au Prince (and confiscated five wagon-loads of weapons the first day), and the Haitian legislature was going through the opening stages of voting for still another new President, but with the immediate crisis under control, Caperton didn't know what the United States Government wanted. The Secretary of State, Robert Lansing was relatively new (his predecessor, William Jennings Bryan, resigned in June 1915, in a disagreement over President Wilson's handling of the Lusitania crisis), so he asked the President: "The situation in Haiti is distressing and very perplexing. I am not at all sure what we ought to do or what we legally can do . . . I hope you can give me some suggestion as to what course we can pursue." Wilson apparently answered the next day:

I suppose there is nothing to do but to take the bull by the horns and restore order . . .

1. We must send to Port au Prince a force sufficient to absolutely control the city not only by also the country immediately about it from which it draws its foods . . .

2. We must let the present Haitian Congress know that we will protect it but that we will not recognize any action on its part that does not put men in charge of affairs whom we can trust to handle and put an end to revolution.

3. We must give all who now have authority there or who desire to have it or who think they have it or are about to have it understand that we shall take steps to prevent the payment of debts contracted to finance revolutions.

. . . In other words, that we consider it our duty to insist on constitutional government and will, if necessary (that is, if they force us to it as the only way), take charge of elections and see that a real government is erected which we can support.26

Caperton radioed Washington DC on 5 August that the president of the Haitian Senate, Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, appeared most electable, and that he "realizes Haiti must agree to any terms laid down by the United States, professes to believe any terms demanded will be for Haiti's benefit, [and] says he will use all his influence with [the] Haitian Congress to have such terms agreed upon by Haiti."27 To insure Dartiguenave's election, all Caperton had to do was neutralize the Cacos, take Dr. Bobo out of the running, and make sure the election in the Haitian legislature went for Dartiguenave.

Thus under the best of intentions, to create a constitutional form of government, President Wilson ordered the intervention into Haiti.  Notice that the unrest had caused a problem in the food supply?  For a Nation that is barely 30 miles wide and has one really good deep sea shipping port, Haiti has a problem in that anything that causes Port au Prince to go into disorder soon puts the entire Nation in jeopardy.  Also notice that the orders are from the top heading downwards?  Create a constitution first, get everyone to run by it second?  That is Progressivism at work, trying to create a new social order from the top and impose it on those beneath the top level.  It would prove to have ruinous ramifications.

An extension of those ramifications would be brought up in Senate testimony given by Admiral Caperton in 1921 as he described trying to get agreement from the two major leaders of Haiti, Senator Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave and Dr. Rosalvo Bobo an associate of Davilimar Théodore who had fallen out the with Zamor family and took control of the Cacos army (a mercenary group that the Zamor family had hired, but couldn't finance due to banking troubles).  In that testimony Admiral Caperton describes how the meeting he had with the two men went in 1915:

"Senator Dartiguenave, in case Dr. Bobo should be elected will you promise that you will exert every influence in your power to assist him for Haiti's good; that you will join with him heartily and helpfully and loyally?"

"If Dr. Bobo is elected president I will give him the most loyal, earnest support in every effort he may make for Haiti's welfare," replied Dartiguenave, with simple dignity.

"Dr. Bobo, if Senator Dartiguenave is elected president, will you help him loyally and earnestly in his efforts to benefit Haiti?"

"No I will not!" shouted Bobo. "If Senator Dartiguenave is elected president I will not help him. I will go away and leave Haiti to her fate. I alone am fit to be president of Haiti; I alone understand Haiti's aspirations, no one is fit to be president but me; there is no patriotism in Haiti to be compared with mine; the Haitians love no one as they love me."28

The Senator is one of the elite class in Haiti, while Dr. Bobo is a third-hand representative of the Zamor family, and neither had much in the way of scope or grounding to lead Haiti.  With the Senator being the only one of the two elected, Dr. Bobo saw the handwriting on the wall and left just before Admiral Caperton would go through his chain of command to say that the US supports the Senator in his bid to be President of Haiti.  With that the USMC secured the legislative building and a session of the Haitian legislature arrived, with members armed, to hold a vote for the next President, which was one by Senator Dartiguenave, overwhelmingly.  Thus the elite would have their leader for the Nation that would serve their purposes and not so much those of the people of Haiti.  The Treaty that would allow the US occupation of Haiti, however, had the US in a role of oversight for Haitian finances, and the analysis examines just who was the resistance to the occupation because of that:

Another byproduct of the American Haitian Treaty was the Haitian Union Patriotique, which was to become the principle organization of Haitian resistance to the First Occupation. Interestingly, it was an organization of and for the Haitian elite, the opinion of the noir peasantry towards the Occupation was apparently neither desired nor solicited.33 (A comment by the French minister in May 1916 (after the pacification of the Artibonite and the North by the Marines): "'The peasants, the pure noirs,' he wrote, 'are, like the tradesmen in the towns, delighted with the American occupation.'"34)

The US comes in, creates stability, pisses off the elites and gets the support of the middle class of Haiti.  It must be remembered that the middle class is primarily urban, not rural, while the peasantry spans from urban to rural.  The US would take over trade and customs control, putting in normal regulatory systems and set the Haitian currency on par with the US dollar, which would wipe out the elite class that depended on debasing the currency, running costly exchange venues and getting private deals for goods.

To get permanent reforms through the Haitian legislature would not be amenable to the necessary laws to put their favorite cronies out of business and President Dartiguenave dissolved the Senate and put the lower house representative body in charge of writing a new Constitution.  It is interesting that although this was expedient for both the President and the US, it was not what was expected for a means of enacting reforms:

Using an ancient Haitian constitutional device, Dartiguenave dissolved the Haitian Senate 6 April, 1916, and instituted a Council of State in its place. He  then designated the lower house a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the Constitution40 (Annex C, Appendix 8). Interestingly, a document from the Butler Papers (Butler was Chef of the Gendarmerie by this time), entitled "Coup d'Etat" details the reports the American had and made on the closing of the Senate41. From the title, and its inclusion in Butler's papers, it would appear that Butler, his Marine Gendarmerie officers, or both, disapproved of Dartiguenave's action, even though it served American interests as well as Dartiguenave's. This is especially interesting, considering Butler's part in the closing of the Haitian legislature the following year. According to his testimony before the Senate investigating committee in 1921, Colonel Waller, who had been told by Dartiguenave that he feared impeachment, was also opposed to the action.42

Maj. Butler (later Lt. Col. and Brigadier General) and Col. Waller (later Major General) were both of the USMC and were part of the force to stabilize Haiti.  Both of these men are part of the US system of military in which there is civilian control over the military and the idea of dissolving a Constitution to get legislative reforms through is one that obviously did not sit well with them in their role as 'occupiers'.  With that said it must also be understood that Haiti had gone through 17 Constitutions by that point in time.

This is actually a prime point: Haiti would be doing what Jefferson recommended, having a new Constitution every generation, save that it would be about every 6 years in Haiti between Constitutions.  You cannot set up a government with any continuity in 6 years.  You can't set up an orderly system of civil law if the Constitution on which it is based changes that frequently.  The absolute reverence by the US military forces, here the USMC, for a Constitutional law process and civil command over the military puts them in stark contrast with what is going on in Haiti.  No civil society that exists can survive such major changes so frequently and be a coherent society able to support civil needs as what may be perfectly allowable one year may not be in 6 years or 3 years or next year depending on who is coming to power and when.

Top down government that starts with a Constitution with only political representatives from the old system that do NOT offer widespread public input to a Constitution are unlikely to draft a Constitution that does anything but meet current needs.  When the people are eliminated from the drafting process and only the political elites form that process, the result is an elitist supporting document.  Here even the limited geography of Haiti, which should be the hallmark of creating a strong republic, has not sufficed for such a republic as the people have no means of input to it and the elites feel they can change the structure of government via overthrow of an existing regime and getting their cronies to support the takeover.  The end product of that is not a government that has stability, but is seen as unstable from the start.  As each ruling clique comes to power, they wash away the previous set of laws and support for them and will keep only a few 'traditional' forms of government.  Like allowing the President to liquidate the Legislature and have the lower house draft a new Constitution.   That makes the Presidency the key point of power and puts the Legislative branch into a secondary, and supporting role for the Executive.

Why bother voting if none of your input matters and none of the expected works of government (safeguarding the Nation, controlling its borders, ensuring equal opportunity for trade and commerce) can 'stick' via the legislative process?  Without an adherence to a system of laws, you get no legal system from that as the crafting of such a system requires long term input and remediation, not overthrow of the whole thing in a term or two of a representative.  Without the security that government brings via laws and governance to private life, to safeguard your wealth from the ravages of tyranny, you get a system that is tyrannical and sees private wealth as a 'cookie jar' to be raided by one set of elites or another.  Basic security of ownership rights creates an atmosphere where achievement can take place and a society and Nation be built upon personal achievement for oneself and one's family.  In being unable to get the basic underpinnings for personal rights Haiti does not create an atmosphere where you are expected to do for yourself.

If you cannot DIY and create the necessary safeguards to fall back on for yourself and your loved ones, and await the next group of elites that may or may not rob you blind, when a disaster strikes you are in a position of needing rescuing as the government has not allowed you to do the basics so you can rescue yourself.

In Nations with normal law processes, when the citizens start to safeguard themselves by supplying themselves with necessary long-term consumables before they are needed (stockpiling) a clear and exacting message is being put out: the citizens no longer trust the government to secure their rights to a civil economy.  With that said, change the government via any means and overthrow entire systems of laws based on Constitutions that are ephemeral, then the supplies will run out and government will exercise its will over people's economic well being to the ends of government, not the people.

With one short episode and the responses to USMC members on what was going on at the time, we get a clear sign of why Haiti had problems and would continue to have problems: there is no ability to make the rule of law stick there.

The Harding Administration had a review of the Occupation performed to look into military abuses during and after an uprising.  The claims were found to be over-blown and the committee recommended a number of civil works be performed to help the people of Haiti:

The committee also noted that the thrust of most of the accusations had been an effort to discredit the entire occupation of Haiti.57 More importantly, the Committee noted that the occupation was not serving its goals and recommended changes:

¨ "... [place] within reach of the Haitian masses, justice, schools, and agricultural instruction . . . [and] . . . send to Haiti a commission comprising a commercial advisor, an expert in tropical agriculture, and an educator . . ."

¨ "..advise the Haitian government against permitting foreign interests to acquire great land holdings in Haiti."

¨ "...as communications are opened up and as the peasants are secure in their life and property, . . . reduce the force of marines in the territory of the Republic and ultimately to intrust the maintenance of order and peace exclusively to the gendarmes."

¨ Eliminate provost courts for civil crimes and "offenses by the press against public order."

¨ Raise the caliber and qualifications of the Americans who represent the United States in Haiti.58

Interestingly, almost a year earlier, President Harding had apparently solicited an evaluation of the Occupation from the State Department shortly after his inauguration in 1921. Written by Sumner Wells, who at the time was Chief of the Latin American Division of the State Department and who would become the American High Commissioner in the Dominican Republic in 192259, it recommended similar changes in the Occupation and its administration:

¨ Increase the size of Gendarmerie d'Haiti in order to increase public order.

¨ Appoint a single representative of the United States to represent the President in Haiti and subordinate all United States "Treaty officials" to this representative.

¨ Change the basic supervision of the Occupation of Haiti from the Navy Department to the State Department, which would presumed to be more diplomatic in budget items, for instance.

¨ Develop the Haitian economy, principally by reforming the Haitian education system60 (Annex C, Appendix 16).

Thus, getting recommendations from all sides, the Occupation of Haiti entered a period of great change and, ultimately, some progress.

This is modern 'Nation Building' seen in a nutshell.  It is famous for not working.

Notice that all the recommendations are top-down predicated?

Without exception this is the concept that good government can 'create' society that is civil.  Yet our understanding is that civil society creates many organs of which government is but one, and not the brains, either, but the means to digest the rougher stuff so that sustenance can be garnered for the entire body.  Government cannot create civil society, but is an outgrowth of civil society.  Trying to build up a government and hope that it gets popular support is a dream of every individual supporting the conception that government is the leader of civil society and that we should vest all our effort, welfare and, ultimately, lives in the support of government.  Getting good and honest bureaucrats is one thing, getting a good and honest system of government to find, maintain and support a modicum of good an honest bureaucrats is something else, again.

When the people are considered citizens, they get an input into society and government, and are able to protect themselves without the undue intrusion of government in their lives and can seek the recourse of law against government.  When one is a subject of government, the people are considered objects of government and even with courts one must plea or supplicate to get justice done and the government may, at its convenience, forestall any suits against it in the civil venue.  While all governments have that last as part of its background, in a civil system that is upheld by society, government rarely uses that ability and puts itself in the position of being controlled by the citizenry.  Subjects are less able to assert civil control over government and when government pleases to do something that is against one or many of the people and seeks the refuge of its ability not to be held accountable, then one is left with arms as the only means to hold government accountable.

That last is the case of Haiti, save that only those with some money (the elites and land owners) have the ability to overthrow government by force of arms.  Even when there is peasant input, it is to an elite group that they look for leadership or organization, not to themselves.

Our recent experience in Iraq points to these lessons being learned as COIN did not consist of getting this or that public works built or making this or that department of government able to stand up, but put up a framework of a government and then went to the bottom to start the re-building process.  One of the prime testing grounds for this conception, and a large scale success, was in Fallujah where, post-combat and after some stumbling of initial stand-up, the US forces reached out to the local population and found what the diverse tribal groups actually wanted to feel secure. That turned out to be not water, sewage, or electricity or schools, but getting the family compound walls fixed. 

In a city that has always been described as 'lawless' in travelogues going back to the 1920's, and even further back in local history, trust was won and built upon at the lowest level and built up, not downwards.  At each higher level of needs there was local support for them and it wasn't imposed by a grand vision or scheme which would 'make everything right' and set down a government.  The system of politics that arrives from that is one that is federalist in formulation: strong local governments, accountable provincial governments and the National government needing to address the needs of the provinces to be seen as legitimate, plus the people from the local basis have direct input and say into their own political structure. 

By repeating the methodology and allowing the locals to set the course of their needs, first, the entire rebuilding would change the original framework by adjusting it, yet still leave its outlines visible.  The civil society grew into an adaptable framework of government and populated it from the bottom-upwards.  You will still get corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, yes, that is true in any system of government.  What was put in place, however, was the concept of using the structure to weed them out via civil law.

In Iraq the people considered themselves Iraqi's, first, members of tribes, second, and family members and clans, third, with religion falling out into the much lower ranks for associative elements.  That points to a class of people who have education, a knowledge of government and the ability to understand why you need a Nation and why you need strong social ties within society.  Haiti would not be so lucky in the 1920's as even getting the basics taught met resistance:

One area in which the Americans encountered an immense amount of resistance was in the area of public education. In his memo for President Harding, Sumner Welles accused the Haitian elite publicly funding education at adequate levels, while actually pocketing the bulk of the money for themselves.67 In 1923, General Russell instituted a Service Technique de l'Agriculture et de l'Ensignement Professionel, or Service Technique as it became known, to provide a agricultural educational system for the noir peasantry under a Dr. George F. Freeman. This was "a matter of extreme social sensitivity for the elite," who feared both the social consequences of an educated noir peasantry and the loss of the noirs' loyalty to the blancs, who were improving their lives.68

The elites preferred an uneducated peasantry as educating the poor would change the entire power structure of society to the detriment of the elite classes.  Yet that is the foundation of a civil society that supports any form of representative democracy: an educated population.  The very foundation of the modern public school system was to get the very basics of what is necessary to be literate, reading, writing and math skills, to the poor or those who could not afford private schooling.  In an agrarian system with so much time spent working for adults at manual labor, there was little or no opportunity to teach any skills to children.  Adults, themselves, were often illiterate and unable to do basic and necessary math functions for understanding what their labor was worth.

DIYism does not, of necessity, predicate itself upon literacy or math knowledge.  Without them you cannot judge changes in society either in type or scale, so as to estimate the impact of them on your life.  One of the observations of the use of home computers is that they allowed the common man to utilize sophisticated analysis tools for economic review and forecasting, thus allowing people to change their perspective on what was coming to either maximize their profit or minimize their losses.  This is a large step away from being able to see if changes are coming, but the literacy in reading and math skills means that such venues are open to you: without them you are relying upon the educated class for your survival, by and large, although still keeping some things for a 'rainy day' you cannot judge if it will be a gentle summer shower or a hurricane.

Education would prove one of the spark points that would usher in the end of the American Occupation of Haiti, in that student uprisings against the teaching of the peasants would spread throughout the cities and require the Hoover Administration to start the plans for leaving the Nation.  Under FDR the last of the Marines would leave in 1934 and the works build over the prior years were turned over to the Haitians:

The Constitution, modified in 1928, was again changed in 1935 to invest more power in the President. According to the first Haitian Chef of the Garde d'Haiti-- Démosthènes Calixte, the same officer who was the Haitian deputy of the then-new Ecole Militaire in 1922 under General Russell--the Garde was rapidly politicized, beginning in 1934.78 This same officer offers some observations (1939) to what happened to the institutions left the Haitians by the United States Marines Corps and Navy:

¨ The Sanitation and Hygiene Service, which was originally an organization trained by the officers of the Medical corps of the United States Navy, has lost its real purpose as an institution. The persons responsible for its administration are rank politicians and the most ill-bred officials Haiti ever had.

¨ The Public Works Administration was also organized by officers of the Civil Engineer Corps of the United States Navy. But since its "Haitianization", it has become merely a payroll institution for all the friends of the President who are jobless, as well as those who do not care to work. The engineers and architects in charge of various departments cannot do anything to remedy the situation.This is why this service has spent so much money and Haiti still has no roads, no bridges, and no sewers in areas where such construction is badly needed.

¨ The Agricultural and Rural Education Service . . . was, after its "Haitianization." placed under another foreigner, a Belgian, who resigned in 1938. This department could have rendered great service if the five-year plan submitted by the scientific agriculturist-in-charge had been approved by the government. . .Political opportunism was rampant. No attempt was made even to try the plan.

¨ The Contribution or Internal Tax Service was also organized by Americans. The Haitians who have replaced the Americans are competent and honest; but again political interference was followed by embezzlement of Government funds, which of course went unpunished.

¨ Education is purposely neglected for the benefit of politics and social prejudice. The method of education in Haiti has always been a matter for "discussion." The removal from office of competent administrators and personnel of the Education Department for political reason renders the problem practically insoluble.

¨ There cannot be an independent press in Haiti, because of the enactment of a law against a free press. A 'state of siege' is maintained by the present government, but even in time of peace no one can express an honest opinion as to the general condition or administration of the country without being mistreated.79

Other observers, even those hostile to the United States Occupation, have noted the deterioration of the infrastructure: "American civil service reform, for instance, had little impact. After the occupation, Haitian politics reverted to the 'spoils system' whereby successive administrations installed their own partisans in public office."

"...The network of roads, potentially the most significant legacy of the occupation, didn't last long because almost all roads were unpaved and required elaborate maintenance."80

This is the crux of the matter for Haiti: without an educated peasantry there are not enough people to maintain civil works such as roads and understand good agricultural practices so as to prosper from their work.  Land owning is a part of that, yes, but it is not a 'root cause' as individuals who are able to utilize their own liberty by understanding it can then gather up funds to go into farming or business for themselves.  Unfortunately the society is in such a state of disability in those realms that there is not sufficient education for the population to take over such works on a local scale and depend upon the National government to maintain them.

Getting to the present day and the disaster in Haiti, we must ask: has this society remedied its ills as seen in the early 1930's, or have they continued on since then?

The unfortunate answer is the latter as we see individuals very much in the form of modern day peasants cast asunder by the extremely destructive earthquake, and the ruling elite have demonstrated their incompetence in either fostering a civil society or putting in good works to safeguard civilian infrastructure.  While quakes of this magnitude are rare in Haiti, they are not unknown and even basic earthquake code building would stand a better chance of survival than the unreinforced masonry buildings typically seen in urban Haiti.  Brick and masonry buildings are cheap, yes, but they offer no ability to ride out an earthquake without steel rebar or other internal reinforcements so as to maintain structural integrity of the building.  As horrific as the scenes of apartments that have collapsed are, the scenes of modern hotels, police and fire stations and even modern hospitals collapsing stagger the imagination.

To have rescue services they must survive a disaster and not collapse with it.  That is the lesson learned from every earthquake venue on the planet with inhabitants nearby: civil structures for police, fire and medicine must be reinforced as they are the first line of protection after a disaster for civil society.  Just the structures, themselves, at the very least, must survive so that survivors can utilize them as community rallying points.  Having competent and self-sacrificing police officers, firemen and medical personnel are also necessary, but they must have places to rally to so as to be effective.  Their specialized equipment cannot be stored at home, great fire trucks cannot festoon the city parking spaces with individual ownership.  Storehouses of medical supplies must be in structurally sound buildings so that the supplies are useful and not destroyed by the ravages of the quake and local climate.

Without those the local population must be able to fend for itself, which requires a pre-existing system that teaches self-reliance and that if things go wrong you are the first line of defense for yourself.

That is not what we see in Haiti.

With those commentators that want to see the US 'take over' rebuilding, our past must inform our current and future decisions.

We can put forward that a spare, lean framework of a government must exist while the local sections of Haiti put themselves back together and are allowed to state their own needs and get them met through bottom-upwards forms of government that does not rely upon an elite class.  Yes emergency shelter is necessary, and yes temporary structures for housing and other needs is necessary.  And if we do as we did in the past, then those will be the only things we leave behind and the Haitian people no better off and just in much danger tomorrow as they are today.

To get to a system that can help itself, first, must be the goal of any 're-building' efforts, and placing the tools and skills on the ground to help teach how to re-build and build anew must be a part of that process.  Unfortunately with the ill-conceived notions of Presidents involved in the past, the government run venue must be temporary, limited and seek only to ensure that private aid and restructuring organizations willing to teach the basic and fundamental skills to Haitians are protected and supported. 

Agencies that teach to ask for a hand-out can go to hell.

For Haiti to avoid future disasters and be able to coordinate their own relief, they require the very basics of understanding that personal freedom and liberty can build that for themselves and they can maintain it.  To try otherwise is to place high value structures into the hands of those who cannot maintain it and who have elites wanting no power to get out of their control to the people of Haiti.

That hasn't worked so well before.

Perhaps it is time we try something different with a proven track record this time?

08 January 2010

Not a Truman war

Reading the statement given by President Obama on the attempted Christmas bombing makes one feel as if they have stepped into a fantasy land:

Good afternoon, everybody.  The immediate reviews that I ordered after the failed Christmas terrorist attack are now complete.  I was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform, and I believe it's important that the American people understand the new steps that we're taking to prevent attacks and keep our country safe.

This afternoon, my Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, will discuss his review into our terrorist watchlist system -- how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America, and the steps we're going to take to prevent that from happening again.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will discuss her review of aviation screening, technology and procedures —- how that terrorist boarded a plane with explosives that could have killed nearly 300 innocent people, and how we'll strengthen aviation security going forward.


But even the best intelligence can't identify in advance every individual who would do us harm.  So we need the security  -- at our airports, ports, and borders, and through our partnerships with other nations -- to prevent terrorists from entering America.

At the Amsterdam airport, Abdulmutallab was subjected to the same screening as other passengers.  He was required to show his documents -- including a valid U.S. visa.  His carry-on bag was X-rayed.  He passed through a metal detector.  But a metal detector can't detect the kind of explosives that were sewn into his clothes.

As Secretary Napolitano will explain, the screening technologies that might have detected these explosives are in use at the Amsterdam airport, but not at the specific checkpoints that he passed through.  Indeed, most airports in the world -- and in the United States -- do not yet have these technologies.  Now, there's no silver bullet to securing the thousands of flights into America each day, domestic and international.  It will require significant investments in many areas.  And that's why, even before the Christmas attack, we increased investments in homeland security and aviation security.  This includes an additional $1 billion in new systems and technologies that we need to protect our airports -- more baggage screening, more passenger screening and more advanced explosive detection capabilities, including those that can improve our ability to detect the kind of explosive used on Christmas.  These are major investments and they'll make our skies safer and more secure.

Why it seems only yesterday that:

...that those responsible for terrorist acts throughout the world must be taken on by civilized nations; that the international community must ensure that all our airports are safe and that civil air travel is safeguarded; and that the world must unite in taking decisive action against terrorists, against nations that sponsor terrorists, and against nations that give terrorists safe haven.

This drama has reminded us how precious and fragile are the freedoms and standards of decency of civilized societies; how greatly civilized life depends on trust in other human beings; but how those values we hold most dear must also be defended with bravery—a bravery that may lie quiet and deep, but that will rise to answer our call in every time of peril. Freedom, democracy, and peace have enemies; they must also have steadfast friends.

The United States gives terrorists no rewards and no guarantees. We make no concessions; we make no deals. Nations that harbor terrorists undermine their own stability and endanger their own people. Terrorists, be on notice, we will fight back against you, in Lebanon and elsewhere. We will fight back against your cowardly attacks on American citizens and property.

But that was in 30 JUN 1985, under President Reagan.

Mind you, that was after we left Beirut, our dead unavenged after Marines and our Embassy had been bombed there.  Twice in the case of the Embassy before and after the attack on the Marines and French contingent of the MNF in Lebanon.  And by 05 SEP 1986 President Reagan was making yet another address on terrorism against US civilians, this time in Pakistan.  Yes after that all the peace loving Nations of the G-7 swept into action as seen on 09 JUN 1987:

We, the Heads of State or Government of seven major democracies and the Representatives of the European Community assembled here in Venice, profoundly aware of our peoples' concern at the threat posed by terrorism;

reaffirm our commitment to the statements on terrorism made at previous Summits, in Bonn, Venice, Ottawa, London and Tokyo;

resolutely condemn all forms of terrorism, including aircraft hijackings and hostage-taking, and reiterate our belief that whatever its motives, terrorism has no justification;

—confirm the commitment of each of us to the principle of making no concessions to terrorists or their sponsors;

remain resolved to apply, in respect of any State clearly involved in sponsoring or supporting international terrorism, effective measures within the framework of international law and in our own jurisdictions;

welcome the progress made in international cooperation against terrorism since we last met in Tokyo in May 1986, and in particular the initiative taken by France and Germany to convene in May in Paris a meeting of Ministers of nine countries, who are responsible for counter-terrorism;

—reaffirm our determination to combat terrorism both through national measures and through international cooperation among ourselves and with others, when appropriate, and therefore renew our appeal to all like-minded countries to consolidate and extend international cooperation in all appropriate fora;

will continue our efforts to improve the safety of travellers. We welcome improvements in airport and maritime security, and encourage the work of ICAO and IMO in this regard. Each of us will continue to monitor closely the activities of airlines which raise security problems. The Heads of State or Government have decided on measures, annexed to this statement, to make the 1978 Bonn Declaration more effective in dealing with all forms of terrorism affecting civil aviation;

commit ourselves to support the rule of law in bringing terrorists to justice. Each of us pledges increased cooperation in the relevant fora and within the framework of domestic and international law on the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of terrorists. In particular we reaffirm the principle established by relevant international conventions of trying or extraditing, according to national laws and those international conventions, those who have perpetrated acts of terrorism.

Yes the beloved clarion call to the rest of the world went out!  And we were going to try those waging acts of Personal War in the CIVIL VENUE!  Ah, by then President Reagan had clearly forgotten that terrorism is an act of war, not a mere civil crime.  As an act of war it is first given to military justice to try, not civilian courts to puzzle out as civil law is all about crimes, while military courts are about determining if you are waging war.

It also seems a bit forgotten that military justice is STILL justice.

How did that stuff work out?

And did that 1978 Bonn Declaration actually make air travel any 'safer'?  If it did then why were there so many meetings after it in Tokyo, Venice, Paris... just asking!

Of course none of this sort of thing, attacks against US military personnel abroad, would be treated as a CRIME SCENE would it?

Oh... wait... there was the Khobar Towers bombing on 06 NOV 1995.  So sorry!

Mind you the mindset of 'terrorism = civil crime' had already been thoroughly hammered home over the years as no one bothered to learn just what war actually is.  This can be seen in the reaction to the First WTC bombing and to the event just before it, the Oklahoma Murrah Federal Building bombing on 19 APR 1995.  An activity like that can be BOTH a civil crime AND an act of war against the US, which is what McVeigh and Nichols intended it to be.  Now destruction of property and murder are what you get on the civil side, but on the military side committing an act of war against your own Nation has a very different name to it: treason.  The Constitution demands two witnesses to that.  My guess is that barring that the use of the Geneva Conventions would place McVeigh and Nichols out of uniform doing acts of 'espionage and sabotage' to wage war against us, which has a summary sentence attached to it.  No sitting in the Federal Pen as a minor celebrity, no interviews with whatever news organization can get to you, and your appeals process is right quick.

Thus in a major 60 Minutes interview on 23 APR 1995, President Clinton had this as part of the back and forth:

Mr. Kroft. You said immediately after the attack that we will find the people who did this, and justice will be swift, certain, and severe. If it had turned out that this had been an act of foreign-sponsored terrorism, you would have had some limited but very clear options. You could have ordered bombing attacks. You could have ordered trade embargoes. You could have done a lot of things. But it seems almost certain now that this is home-grown terrorism, that the enemy is in fact within. How do we respond to that?

The President. Well, we have to arrest the people who did it. We have to put them on trial. We have to convict them. Then we have to punish them. I certainly believe that they should be executed. And in the crime bill, which the Congress passed last year, we had an expansion of capital punishment for purposes such as this. If this is not a crime for which capital punishment is called, I don't know what is.

Ed Bradley. Mr. President, this is Ed Bradley in New York. There are many people who would question our system of criminal justice today in the United States—in fact, many people who have lost faith in our criminal justice system. With so many people languishing on death row today for so many years, how can you say with such assurance that justice will be certain, swift, and severe?

The President. Well let me say first of all, it's been a long time since there has been a capital case carried through at the national level. But our new crime bill permits that. Now, when I was Governor, I carried out our capital punishment laws at the State level. We just pursued the appeals vigorously. I do believe the habeas corpus provisions of the Federal law, which permit these appeals sometimes to be delayed 7, 8, 9 years, should be changed. I have advocated that. I tried to pass it last year. I hope the Congress will pass a review and a reform of the habeas corpus provisions, because it should not take 8 or 9 years and three trips to the Supreme Court to finalize whether a person, in fact, was properly convicted or not.

Now I had looked at the size of the Anti-Terrorism work done by Congress that President Clinton refers to in this piece and compared it to the statutes against those waging Private War who give themselves up for civil prosecution.  The Anti-Terrorism stuff has 904 sections to it, that wander all over the place because it is trying to address so many issues as to create scripts that law enforcement will have to follow so that it is constrained by civil justice.  The other statutes against Private War?  There are 10 paragraphs to them, in total, and they deal with both foreigners and Americans waging war illegally and the worst term is life imprisonment, and that was in the era before the idea of 'parole' had ever been heard of.

And just a bit later we find that we will be made much safer:

Mike Wallace. Mr. President, Mike Wallace. Are we Americans going to have to give up some of our liberties in order better to combat terrorism, both from overseas and here?

The President. Mike, I don't think we have to give up our liberties, but I do think we have to have more discipline and we have to be willing to see serious threats to our liberties properly investigated. I have sent a counter-terrorism, a piece of legislation to Capitol Hill, which I hope Congress will pass. And after consultation with the Attorney General, the FBI Director, and others, I'm going to send some more legislation to Congress to ask them to give the FBI and others more power to crack these terrorist networks, both domestic and foreign.

We still will have freedom of speech. We'll have freedom of association. We'll have freedom of movement. But we may have to have some discipline in doing it so we can go after people who want to destroy our very way of life.

You know, we accepted a minor infringement on our freedom, I guess, when the airport metal detectors were put up, but they went a long way to stop airplane hijackings and the explosion of planes and the murdering of innocent people. We're going to have to be very, very tough and firm in dealing with this. We cannot allow our country to be subject to the kinds of things these poor people in Oklahoma City have been through in the last few days.

I do wish those who go on about the Patriot Act would pay some notice to the mind-set whereby government is letting you have freedom of speech, association and movement.  With government 'discipline', of course! I thought that all our rights and liberty were born within us and we grant some very few to government to secure them? Perhaps those who abhor the Patriot Act can address this wider mind-set that seems to say that our rights and liberties are mere chips that government can call in at any moment it wants for 'discipline'?

And all these measures were ever so effective in stopping bombings, now, weren't they?  I am sure that many lives were saved by the measures outlined, but just why is law enforcement seen as an answer to those willing to wage war against Nations, civil society and civil populations?  Often their own, mind you.  Why is it that we need government 'discipline' on our civil rights when government, itself, is unwilling to do one of the primary jobs it is handed: to discern those who make war against us and STOP THEM? 

When government moves acts of war into the overburdened civil venue of crimes, those new crimes then get less attention put to them than if the military were handed the task of figuring out how to end those waging war against us.  We will always, without any doubt, have the problem of our fellow citizens reclaiming all their liberties and rights to wage war on mankind, as that is part of the nature of man that can not be bred out nor disciplined away from him. 

When our fellow man does that he has broken with civil society and civil law and taken all law into his own hands and now uses war against us.  What part of making war against mankind is there in the civil law?  Only those parts where those individuals recognize the error of their ways and present themselves for civil justice.  When you 'capture' them, they are STILL waging war against you because you had to 'capture' them: they are not voluntarily changing their ways. Notice that to get civil justice one must submit to it, not wage war on the society creating it?

Sounds nasty, doesn't it?

That is because the action is nasty and meant to attack not just the 'victims' but the society and Nation that underpins the civil way of life.  That is done so those attacking it can get what THEY want outside of all civil procedures.  And even then they are none too choosy about who they kill to get their way.  Because they are fighting war in its most brutal form: Private War taken up with no Nation to back them, just on their own for their own reasons to their own ends and don't mind the body count along the way.

Mind you I take this exact, same approach when looking at the bureaucracies set up post-9/11 to deal with its problem, and I am not joking when I say they are too big to succeed.

Getting back to President Obama and his address, this passage is telling:

I have repeatedly made it clear -- in public with the American people, and in private with my national security team -- that I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels.

Now, at this stage in the review process it appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies.  That's why, in addition to the corrective efforts that I've ordered, I've directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews, and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts.  We will measure progress.  And John Brennan will report back to me within 30 days and on a regular basis after that.  All of these agencies -- and their leaders -- are responsible for implementing these reforms. And all will be held accountable if they don't.

Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer.  For ultimately, the buck stops with me.  As President, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people.  And when the system fails, it is my responsibility. 

President Truman had the famous sign on the desk: The Buck Stops Here.

President Truman dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan that was not fighting by the laws of war as were understood then, and now, and had come to the conclusion that FDR had made a fateful choice when he started the Manhattan Project after getting a message from Albert Einstein on the matter.  Truman had time to figure out that all of the Pacific Campaign had pointed to Japanese soldiers and civilians dying or killing themselves so as not to be taken prisoner.  The entire culture, the entire Nation of Japan looked horrifically suicidal and he had 6 million Purple Hearts minted in the expectation of a massive US invasion of the Japanese home islands.  He was seeing many salient points that we come upon with terrorism these days, with the way things were being done in the Pacific War.  Japan had most of its fleet sunk, it was losing nearly all of its land holding and supply lines from overseas, and yet it was still shifting its industry to more hardened sites and was preparing the defenses necessary to fight an invasion.  The choice was to use nuclear weapons AND start the longer term preparations for an invasion of Japan that would see millions of American soldiers, shifted from the European Theater to the Pacific Theater, used to subdue Japan.  It would have made Sherman's march through the South seem like a walk in the shade, in comparison.

The European Theater had seen the downfall of the Nazi regime and its two-faced nature towards its foes.  Towards the Soviets it was a bitter battle, brutal and not much of the laws of war were kept to.  Against the rest of the Allies Germany did its best to adhere to the laws of war and fight standard battles.  During the declining days the meager defense against the rest of the Allies was due to the Soviet push to Berlin and in that final push, that final set of battles, Truman would get the reports of the differences between wars of fighting en mass and fighting in detail.  The US and its Western Allies had defeated entire German Armies and they would then surrender in good order, en mass.  That is the way of war adhering to the Nation State ways of war, and defeat for that is recognized as honorable.  That was not the case in Berlin.

The Soviet-Nazi conflict in that city would be in detail.  In detail fighting is eliminating each and every unit, and nearly every man in bitter, close fighting that went house to house and then room to room.  By not adhering to the laws of war, Nazi Germany got its reward of in detail fighting with the Soviets.

When looking at Japan, Truman saw an entire Nation, from children to the aged, prepared for in detail fighting.  The horror of that in Berlin was immense.  What would happen in Japan with that would stagger the imagination.

His only out was that Japan was a Nation, and just might realize the US had a trick or two up its sleeve that just might put some sense into one man: the Emperor.  It was a very near thing as Emperor Hirohito was nearly stopped by a military coup from surrendering.

President Obama is faced with a foe that accepts nothing save your surrender, and is more than willing to fight against the unarmed to get its way.  Unlike Japan and Germany, they are no Nation State: there are no strings to pull, no reason to appeal to, and no demonstration of might that will convince this enemy to stop fighting us.  President Obama could nuke Quetta, but that would achieve very little even if he did get bin Laden and Zawahiri as their sub-ordinates outside of Pakistan (and even inside it and Afghanistan) now have an inter-cooperating web of groups called the Shadow Army.  That is not an army that wears uniforms or has a regularized control structure and system of orders to follow.  There is no leader to capture to make it surrender, no one you can appeal to so that they will abide by the laws of war, nothing that can be done to them on the civil side that will make them stop.  They have accepted the ways of the Law of Nature and Private War, that has no rules to it save kill or be killed.  They do not want 'peace' but submission to them and they will kill to get their ends.

For a President who so admires one of the predecessors, he does not have the will to follow that man's example when having to fight a war surrounded by incompetents.  If he DID follow the way of that President, he would NOT be having incompetent heads of various agencies still around AFTER they have failed him REPEATEDLY.

The President who Obama has invoked on more than one instance is not Reagan nor FDR, but one who understood what Private War is and how it is to be dealt with by the US Armed Forces.  And he did have a large number of incompetent underlings to go through!

That was President Lincoln and he went through Generals that couldn't fight, that couldn't win and couldn't figure out how to do either, so fast that they became a blur.  He went through the very simple exercise that really should be used by the President far more than now: Fire People Until Competence Is Found.

Not political connection.

Not brown-nosing 'yes men'.

Not political ideologues.

Simple competence.

Make no excuses and fire their asses when they don't perform.

And then fight.

Because nothing we do on the civil side will get rid of terrorism.

Terrorism is a tactic in Private War and we expect the Nation to protect us from war, not endanger our liberties for the sake of 'safety' that doesn't address the issue of war.

Not being able to do so indicates a failure from the man with the responsibility to safeguard the Nation.

It cannot be done by more laws, more regulations, and more 'discipline' from government upon the people of the Nation.

Fight or do not fight.

You cannot fight war with a dimmer switch, especially when its electrodes are attached to the innocent.

That middle way just gets people killed to no good end.

05 January 2010

From refresher to hard ends

Looking at terrorism in SE Asia I have put together the following posts:

Dropping the dime on the oil drop

Mountain warfare and what it takes

Terrorists on the decline?

A DIME does not pay the toll

Terrorism: the good, the bad and the ugly

A quick refresher on Pakistan

Terrorism and Pakistan, part 1 and part 2

The Hard Part

Management of Savagery -The 'weak horse'

How many troops can we support in Afghanistan isn't the right question

Afghanistan and the essential fight

The shadow and the firestorm


These articles are predicated on understanding both Counter Insurgency (COIN) and Mountain Warfare (MW) and, of the two, MW is the more essential one as it is the regional and cultural base that we have to work with.  Today our view of COIN is one based on semi-successful campaigns (France in Algeria) which were a short term success and a longer term mixed bag, our hard work in Colombia with the local governments against FARC, and in the Philippines against the Moro-Islamic Liberation Front.  Iraq has many deep teaching points for us and we should not squander that learning experience when approaching COIN in Afghanistan.  Indeed the failure of Saddam and Turkey to crush the Kurds in the border region between Iraq and Turkey tells us much about Afghanistan and COIN, and what NOT to do.

From the Algerian experience the one salient lesson is: anyone who was once an insurgent who goes back to their old ways should be immediately confronted.  By not doing that, by not requiring local groups to permanently abide by peace, the doorway to a new insurgency was opened.  If your foes cannot enforce their settlement, then do not make one with them.  The forces confronting the Tamil Tigers have learned this hard lesson and that is why it is down to the 'last man' which looks to be the last Tamil Tiger.  Forces that factionate and cannot enforce peace upon those factions are not negotiating from any viable position.  It is possible to siphon off those who have just grown tired of fighting, but they are to be watched and not trusted so long as their old comrades continue to fight.  You can get a 'separate peace' in Private War but you cannot get a return of the trust that was abdicated by the individual who decided to leave civilization to fight it.  Similarly the cohesive society of the Kurds means that much lip service is given to not harboring the PKK from Turkey (and Iran), and yet individual fighters can and do get that refuge.  Turkey and Iran have both utilized attempts to dissolve the Kurdish culture, Kurdish language and Kurdish traditions and only by having those upheld by secular government has Iraq earned peace.  It is unfortunate that those other bordering Nations do not afford tolerance to multiple cultures in their own borders.

From the Kurdish experience, anti-FARC COIN, and work in the Philippines we can garner one major lesson: hard terrain makes for long COIN campaigns.  Decades long in some cases.  Serious work against FARC started in the mid-1990's and still has not completely eradicated it, as it now has support from the tyrant in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.  In that part of South America there is jungle and mountainous terrain, both, that make finding and removing insurgents a difficult task.  The terrain works to the benefit of the insurgents who are few and can attack anywhere to terrorize.  Similarly the Moros in the Philippines restarted their proto-independence movement after WWII (after failing in the Philippine-American War, a successful COIN campaign led by the US Army) that then gained strength in the 1990's with the addition of al Qaeda funds and operatives, often from their Indonesian affiliate.  Again terrain tells the tale, and being able to root out an insurgency in jungle conditions is a non-trivial task.  In the area that was demarcated as Kurdistan after WWI, the Kurds have seen their territory sliced up and have waged an insurgency, in turn, against the Turks, Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis with each having faced the problem of some of the best fighters in the region fighting to proclaim their cultural identity and solidarity.  Mountain warfare against insurgents is one of the most difficult to achieve as the mountains, when used with strong local knowledge, become a palpable enemy to COIN forces.  That is cultural heritage the Kurds retain from before they migrated out of the area we now call Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan along the Pashtun regions we face a foe similar in background to the Kurds in that it is a warrior based culture and tribal on that basis, although even more primitive in that individuals can raise Family and Clan and Tribal forces on their own without any government oversight.  These personal units are generally referred to as 'Lashkar', although multi-group affiliates do arise using that term (ex. Lashkar e-Toiba) to show some personal fighting affiliation to a group or belief it is understood that these are not the personal fighting units of the region but agglomerated groups.  In staging a 'surge' in Afghanistan the areas being 'surged' into are those on the border regions influenced by the Pashtuns who live, by and large, in Pakistan but, like the Kurds in the Middle East, cross borders into other countries due to tribal affiliations and cultural identity.

Can such a group be successfully integrated into civil society?

Yes.  With that said, when such cultural groups cross borders it is understood that their kinsmen across those borders are not, of necessity, influenced by a Nation State peace agreement with the tribal society in that region of that Nation State.  If you live elsewhere you do not become peaceful in another Nation merely because a peace was reached elsewhere with your kin.  As the use of Lashkars indicate, the societal basis for the Pashtun region of Pakistan and Afghanistan is different than that of the Kurdish areas in the Middle East and must be taken into account.  Thus the history of that society must be a paramount concern when staging COIN to see if there is any basis for a 'separate peace' in Afghanistan with the Pashtuns. 

From my refresher article above, comes the discouraging news that the Pashtuns have outwaited the British Empire which put in place a 100 year agreement for recognition of borders between British held territories and Afghanistan.  Thus from that we can draw the following: an imposed peace or settlement by an outside Nation is not going to be the terms of a long-term and successful peace.  Temporary while the outside force is present, yes.  And when Afghanistan rejected that border agreement as permanent, due to that ethnic pressure, it can be assumed that no current 'successful' surge will remain in place for long on the ground without a larger consensus agreement amongst all Pashtuns.

To put it bluntly: to get a long-term peace agreement and recognition of borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Pashtuns will need to not only sign-on to that agreement but abide by it and be a full player in the negotiations.  That puts on the table one of the nastiest yet most interesting prospects of all: the Pashtuns declaring a Nation State homeland separate from Pakistan and Afghanistan, both.  This has been a minority position in the Pashtun regions for decades, but independence is one of the starting fuels of bloodshed against governments in that region and to end that source those voices must be heard, reasoned with and their consent given at the tribal level for any larger multi-Nation consensus.

Because this is mountain warfare terrain, all other tribes must agree that any renegades who try to raise Lashkars for any reason beyond simple tribal defense needs to be hunted down and ended.  There is a difference between militias for local defense that wear uniforms and have a chain of command and those who wear no uniforms, have no command and no greater sanction than THEIR LEADER or THEIR RELIGION to go to war.  Those sanctions must be firmly implanted as illegitimate and lethal to any trying to do so.

In doing this we must come to understand the American COIN campaign that started in 1783 and ended in 1787: the uprising against high State taxes that put farmers in jail and confiscated their land brewed a rebellion against that rule that only ended when a new consensus was reached by the creation of the US Constitution.  In that work local militias are of State concern and, so long as they are not given pay or made permanent by the State and held by the people, the Federal Government will only call upon them when the threat to all States is paramount.  The United States experience with COIN and with State government becoming draconian is clear and crystal clear: you do not get a peace until the safety and security of the people is ensured and that those people are not oppressed by their government.  In return local self-protection is respected while going to war on your own is prosecuted as illegal warfare or Private War or piracy, depending on the terminology used at the time. 

Our modern military understanding is a hot house flower bred under the massive 20th century wars and continued on through the Cold War and is not representative of the normal condition of the military for mankind.  We cannot apply our highly technical systems to primitive cultures in the realm of warfare, and must bring about the understanding of civilized use of warfare that is run by the Nation for Public War while outlawing Private War that has NO State sanction.  The State can and Publicly sanction Private War groups to go after other Private War groups, then those fighters fall under Public War domains while executing their own understanding of war and accepting the consequences of it.

It is this understanding that must be found within the cultures of the region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This will not be easily performed as witness the current state of the tribal systems of the region in regards to Private War groups.  Any 'surge' that does not draw that deep, dark, red line between Private and Public War and that attempts to 'prosecute' Private War fighters in a civil court will fail as it is a demonstration of not understanding the difference between Public and Private War.  By taking it into a civil law venue, then Private War is given recognition and ENHANCED no matter what the verdict is, because it is seen as a viable application of war by individuals since it is given a public trial venue.  Yet these are not civil crimes being committed, but war crimes due to military justice.  That justice has always been harsh as separating Private War and requiring it to get Public sanction enhances the peace WITHIN society by removing warfare FROM society that is not sanctioned BY society.

We do have statutes for those fighting Private War that are picked up for public offenses or otherwise turn themselves over to public authorities: they are the Piracy Statutes and are only applicable inside the territory of the United States and given to those that surrender to us after being pronounced as fighting Private War against us.  This has been a stance of the United States since its Founding as executed by Jefferson, Jackson and, most notably, Lincoln.  Those caught making war against us in the military venue get military justice.  Those that submit to be tried for their crimes in a public venue get civil justice.  When you are brought in making war against the United States or, indeed, any Nation you are to be put into the military justice system as that is what you were doing: performing military activities.

Terrorism, as those on the Left like to point out, is a tactic.  They never, ever, not once want to state what is the form of war that has that as its main tactic as that then tells you what to do with those individuals performing it.  It is a tactic of piracy, to terrify others with warfare so as to get your way.  Pirates have taken lives, taken slaves, taken ships and have fought on land and at sea since the first City States arose and they have been seen and treated in one way, only, since the beginning of civil law and society.  It is only when they surrender to civil justice, civil prosecution and willingly give themselves up to be judged for the accusation of piracy that they get a trial in civil court.

This is what needs to be brought to the Pashtuns: the understanding of the defense of civil society from those willing to wage war against it on their own.  Currently the Pashtuns have little to recognize as they, themselves, are divided by two major Nations, terrain and yet are bonded by kinship, culture and custom.  To do this and get this peace requires the understanding of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Pashtuns that they are going to be given time to work out an accord that is suitable to ALL of them by consensus with no hold-backs, no lprovisos and no 'well maybes'.  If they cannot come to accord INSIDE their culture then no peace will ever be found OUTSIDE of it.  To do this does not require great multi-culti, glib worded politicians, but good,hard on-the-ground tribal leaders from other cultures that have this and perhaps a number of military historians pointing out exactly how Lashkars are seen by civilized people and why being civilized has such a high value to it that it is worth killing off Lashkars and taking up the positive liberty of civil defense for defense ONLY.

Because, apparently, the British Empire couldn't teach this lesson.  Nor could the Persian Empire before it.

Nor has Pakistan or Afghanistan or the USSR.

The only person who MIGHT have been able to teach that is the last Western leader that is STILL sung about by the bards of the region and how his passing changed the lives of everyone there.  Unfortunately he is long dead.

A guy by the name of Alexander.

Often with 'the Great' appended to it.

And if we can't learn the teachings of mountain warfare, how to deal with local cultures and get them to cooperate from our history, then Alexander's name will probably outlive all of ours and our Nations as we let this cancer spread by creating the conditions for its spread at home and abroad.  Getting rid of this Gordian Knot is not achieved by more rope.  Too bad that is what we now have on order, with nary a sword to be seen, and with that rope we shall, assuredly, hang ourselves as being too civilized to be civilized and do the right thing.

We could learn a lot from Alexander.

If we dared to use the sword to cut out this cancer.

Good luck with that rope stuff.

03 January 2010

For fear of the guilty

The following is a posting from The Jacksonian Party.

Some decades ago I remember reading a story or set of stories in Analog magazine that had as its basis a very interesting question: if becoming a criminal had a genetic basis what would we do as a society?

The set-up was that every individual convicted of a pre-meditated, violent or crime of passion had a few genes in common, without exception. No one that did not have those genes was convicted for those crimes, although crimes of oversight and accident did include them. The overall population that had this set of genes in society was of a given percent, approximately 25 to 30%, but that only indicated a genetic predisposition to committing crimes, not a certainty of it.

Legally this has ramifications for criminal suspects: if a violent crime has happened you can cross off those without the predisposition and you are left with those who have it. But that does not help if an accident or other mishap that has no intention behind it and is purely by chance or lack of skill yields a violent seeming crime. Thus examining crimes means exhausting all the ways that non-intentional circumstances could yield the crime as well as looking at all the intentional ways, and while the intentional would have a limited number of people to check off, the non-intentional still has the entire population of those with and without the predisposition that need checking out.

Taken a step further what would this mean for employment? Would you want individuals with such a predisposition in National Security positions? As police officers? Would you vote for someone with that predisposition? Would there be changes to, say, life insurance or health insurance coverage rates due to this? What would finding out that you had this predisposition or not do to your outlook on life?

Always we would need to remember that, like a disease, a predisposition towards something does not mean that the individual will manifest that disease. Indeed the percentage of society with the predisposition indicates that the majority of those with it do not ever manifest criminal behavior and that there is a component of criminality beyond mere genetics. If any steps were taken to limit the rights and freedoms of this minority, that crosses all races, classes and social strata, then those restrictions would only be upon those who WERE able to control their genetic predisposition and would have no effect upon those in which the entire condition is already in sway.

That would be punishing the innocent in fear of the guilty.

Of course we would never do that... would we?

In the wake of individuals attempting to bring down aircraft, we have come upon a situation in which our TSA has both 'succeeded' in failing to stop individuals with a predisposition and full indications of willingness to kill themselves to kill others from boarding a civilian aircraft. Later it is admitted that the system 'failed' and measures will be taken to 'correct' that failure. From that we can step to Christopher Hitchens at Slate on 28 DEC 2009 (h/t: Instapundit) talking about what will be done to try and stop such 'failures' again (boldface is mine):

So that's now more or less the routine for the guilty. (I am not making any presumption of innocence concerning Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.) But flick your eye across the page, or down it, and you will instantly see a different imperative for the innocent. "New Restrictions Quickly Added for Travelers," reads the inevitable headline just below the report on the notoriety of Abdulmutallab, whose own father had been sufficiently alarmed to report his son to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, some time ago. (By the way, I make a safe prediction: Nobody in that embassy or anywhere else in our national security system will lose his or her job as a consequence of this most recent disgrace.)


Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can't—or won't. The answer to the second question is: Because we can. The fault here is not just with our endlessly incompetent security services, who give the benefit of the doubt to people who should have been arrested long ago or at least had their visas and travel rights revoked. It is also with a public opinion that sheepishly bleats to be made to "feel safe." The demand to satisfy that sad illusion can be met with relative ease if you pay enough people to stand around and stare significantly at the citizens' toothpaste. My impression as a frequent traveler is that intelligent Americans fail to protest at this inanity in case it is they who attract attention and end up on a no-fly list instead. Perfect.

Those who abide by the law, indeed who are NOT a threat to any flight, are required for the 'safety' of air travel to no longer carry with them the things that would allow a plane to be brought down. And those who DO abide by that are the innocent, not the guilty who will find other and more ingenious ways WITHIN a set of restrictions to do as they will. Which will, of course, bring more restrictions on the innocent because the guilty have no need to follow any law or rule or restriction. Nothing we do will stop those seeking to bring down aircraft, merely require them to be smart enough to outwit a delimited set of rules, procedures, techniques or otherwise use human engineering to get around them. When a commenter at another site tried to make light of a 'firecracker' (the first report of the incident) and that it wasn't dangerous, I knew I was dealing with a fool: with a bit of ingenuity, a few allowed carry-on items, and decent placement using the materials that are perfectly allowable and 'safe', I could readily identify a few places where a 'firecracker' could damage an aircraft enough to disable it in-flight. Anyone with an ounce of sense can figure that out, and yet the concept of the regulations making us 'safer' is an illusion that some will cleave to unto death due to over-regulation. Human ingenuity trumps technology and regulations time and time again.

Instead of doing the smart thing, the right thing, and the proper thing, which is to restrict air travel of those suspected of having an inclination to be lawless and suicidal aboard flights due to a delimited religious outlook we, instead, punish the entire traveling public. Those who scoff at the loss of liberty due to regulation are the first to use this famous quote encouraging their fellow citizens to give up yet more of their liberty for the security of the officious Mother State:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 - 1790)

Of our essential liberties is also the expectation that we will be considered innocent until proven guilty of a crime as CITIZENS of the Nation. Those who are not citizens, who give reason for us to suspect them of harboring hatred unto killing against our Nation and our citizens are not afforded that liberty for our own security so that we CAN be afforded that liberty. All men are created equal, and yet that is an acknowledgement by our background as a society and we can and must recognize that not all societies are willing to see the self-evident truths when presented with them. As a Nation and a people we must have the right to differentiate between those in humanity that recognize and abide by the self-evident truths and those who do not do so. Yet, when those who do not do so have made it abundantly clear that they will not, that they will threaten us, that they will do anything to harm our Nation and citizens, the first people we turn to for restrictions are the law abiding citizens who have done no wrong.

That is because a 'Politically Correct' view of the world is one that fears, deeply so, those who are guilty and will do anything to try and appease those men who manifest none of the civilized understandings of liberty and rights with kind words and punish those that actually call those people as they are. For fear of the guilty, even to the point of not wanting to restrict the guilty or keep the convicted in JAILS, the PC view attempts to appease them and restrict any thoughts that might be had about wanting to protect ourselves by actually naming and identifying those who are guilty. That does not bring greater harmony between cultures, but disdain upon those who will not uphold their own culture because they are afraid to do so for offending those who can and will resort to repression and violence to get their way in the world. As we have seen no law or regulation will stop those intent on killing us and when seconds count the police are just minutes away. The system only 'works' when individuals not PART of the system save THEMSELVES from the systemic failure of not wanting to name and restrict those who seek to do us harm.

Remember: you can only punish the law abiding innocent as they are both law abiding and innocent, and when you complain about the system you become one of the guilty.

Next up in the annals of punishing the innocent comes this from SayUncle and Knoxnews on 29 DEC 2009 (h/t: Instapundit):

The gun control group headed by Michael Bloomberg presented to President Obama a Blueprint for Federal Action on Illegal Guns. Some folks sent a FOIA request and received a copy of the document. And it's pretty telling. The focus doesn't seem to target illegal guns but all guns and gun owners, including banning the importation of ammo and "non-sporting" firearms. The plan consists of items that are administrative and regulatory in nature and, therefore, don't require legislative action.

There are individuals in the US that actually utilize 'non-sporting' firearms, and these are firearms used for self-defense. What is even more interesting is that said firearms range across many decades, through World Wars and have both military and civilian counter-parts that are extremely difficult to check out. If you are a collector of military surplus rifles or handguns, then you become a target of such regulations, and yet it is perfectly legal and lawful to do so both as a registered collector and as a private citizen who just enjoys collecting said firearms. These firearms range across the last century and include a multitude of manufacturers, variations, and types of weapons. It is with difficulty that an individual can find out if a handgun purchased with, say, Waffen marks was utilized in the German military or civilian market after 1939. Even more interesting is that such a handgun used a round fully available to modern self-defense pistols. Indeed, collecting old cartridges, like stamp collecting, is a fascinating hobby and past-time that harms no one and actually USING those cartridges destroys the value of them. Going one step further to highly available military surplus rounds that WERE made for military weapons, how do you distinguish between them and 'civilian' rounds? Yes you need an 'expert'.

Joy, oh, rapture!

Military surplus guns, especially those that have come out of storage packed in cosmoline from the old USSR and its satellite countries are often cheap. Cleaning out the cosmoline is a non-trivial task. The largest supplies are of the old bolt-action Mosin-Nagants with wooden stocks and a bayonet, typified by a long barrel and are quite heavy. Of even more interest is the ammunition leaves behind a corrosive salt when you get the old military surplus ammo, thus requiring constant care and attention from the owner so that the weapon is not degraded by using it. These are not weapons that any criminal will want: heavy, bulky, hard to hide, slow rate of fire. If you want something lethal, easy to hide and with rapid fire or high lethality you get a handgun or you illegally saw off a shotgun.

Now bump that up to modern weapons that are semi-automatic, like the M-1 Garand... wait, that's still WWII, but an accredited rifle for the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Thus it is both collectible and teaches skills of accuracy, even though it was a military weapon of WWII. If you move to the modern semi-auto equivalent of the M-16, which is the AR-15, you have yet another weapon that can get good accuracy, have decent stopping power and have widely available civilian cartridges for it. Just as you can purchase civilian made cartridges for the Mosin-Nagant you can also do that for the M-1 Garand and the AR-15 as they are popular cartridge types for both civilian and military uses. Indeed you cannot define the difference between a 'military' bolt action or semi-automatic rifle and a 'sporting' version of the exact, same rifle. Why? An individual can change stocks to re-purpose the firearm for different uses, so that a Mosin-Nagant may be in its original wooden stock for display and then put into a fiberglass modern stock for use at the range. The same goes for the M-1 Garand and AR-15: you cannot distinguish between a 'sporterized' version of one and its non-sporting version.

Yes 'sporterized' is a recognized term for firearms because people have been doing that with military weapons throughout the 20th century, dating back before WWI, and a 'sporterized' version of a military weapon is part of its own, unique class of that weapon. Amazing, no? A few modifications and you go from 'military' or non-sporting firearm to 'sporting' firearm. And there is no functional difference in the nature of the firearm, itself, just in the outer housing. Prohibited one moment, allowed the next.

That brings us to handgun hunting, a sport that is gaining in wide popularity these days. One of the heaviest calibers that can be used for this in a semi-automatic pistol is the 50 Action Express, which is a 50 caliber pistol round. That is a sporting weapon, for all of it being a handgun. Any law or regulation that tries to stop the use of the 50 AE round, which is civilian and sporting in nature, then makes one of the most powerful handguns on the planet available while stopping older, lighter and less lethal firearms from history. In one go everyone is made 'safer' by permitting 'sporting' firearms for handgun hunting while stopping the use of lighter caliber self-defense pistols that can date back to 1897 that have a military origin. And the moment you try to change the regulations to 'make things safer' you end up creating more loopholes, more problems and all to the end of not doing a damned thing about those who are obtaining illegal weapons for their own use.

And just how many criminals actually USE older military surplus weapons and ammo? How about civilian self-defense handguns? There is no functional way to tell between a self-defense handgun in the hands of a law abiding citizen and one in the hands of a criminal. And heaven forbid you attempt to distinguish based ON THE USER! Can't do that! It might require 'profiling'.

Yes I am taking such thinking to extremes, but it has a point: how will this in any way, shape or form stop those willing to break the law from getting their hands on such weapons and utilizing them? This has not worked in Great Britain and in Mumbai one of the most pertinent statements from an eyewitness is wishing that they could have been armed so as to stop the attackers. By restricting or attempting to outlaw handguns the innocent are made less safe and the criminals have nothing to fear, and can safely intimidate the unarmed. Since the banning of handguns in the UK the police there have had to up-arm and armor themselves against criminals willing and able to deploy fully automatic weapons as they know no civilian will STOP THEM. That is how you get an officious, lethal and over-armed police for a Police State: you make civilians easy targets for criminals.

Yet your essential liberty of self-defense, the positive liberty of war that we do not give to the State, is threatened by the State that does not trust its own people to behave in a civil manner towards each other, fears criminals and then sees fit to disarm the people. When you are threatened in such a State your life is determined in seconds, and the police will spend some hours writing up the report of your death due to criminals who have no problem violating civil society and civil law to work their ends.

The State could, of course, seek the illegal venues that provide such weapons to criminals... but, really, it is much easier to repress the law abiding than go after the criminals.

It is easier to punish and make weak the law abiding and strengthen those who will not abide by the law by punishing the innocent.

That is what you get when you feel the regulations make you 'safe' and you trade away your liberty for that temporary feeling of safety. Mind you the safety isn't even temporary, just an illusion of safety given by self-deception.