11 March 2006

Why I go on about some things, and other thoughts

Well, anyone even coming here by accident has seen me go on and on about some topics and subjects. The sidebar is full of them! New Orleans, Government, the Constitution, various notes and missives and assorted other things. Why do I talk about things that are *possible* but not very probable? That takes some explaining...

As Americans of all-stripes we are an inventive people. And we pursue, collectively, a broad spectrum of things that can seem absolutley useless and frivolous, but are enjoyable past-times and hobbies and give meaning to our lives. Lets take a couple of cases in this..

Paleo-tech. Now, if stone age tool making and use isn't so far removed from a microchip I don't know what is. 'Stone knives and bearskins', as Spock would say. And so it is... and yet I remember in the 1980's a bit in a magazine (Omni, I think, though possibly Scientific American or some other). An archeologist had been studying Incan remains and had noted what appeared to be surgical marks upon them. An instant uproar of 'Aliens! UFO's!' appeared as the actual condition of the bones, given the types and length of recovery periods were actually looking *better* than modern capabilities. So, someone sat down to learn about stone age tools and their uses and came across an interesting fact mirrored in the finds: obsidian blades cut very keenly and were purported to have been used in surgery!

Volcanic glass! For surgery! Preposterous... but this researcher kept on and learned to make obsidian tools and then took his best replica of an Incan tool to a surgeon. Now, this surgeon was very open minded on things and had the position: 'Our tools aren't good enough, they cause too much damage which does not heal well or rapidly' He said he would test *anything* sent to him. So the knives were sent and he tested them out... the message back: 'What ARE these things? They are WONDERFUL and work better than anything I have *ever* used or tried' So the researcher went to the surgeon to ask what he used to test them out on... the doctor walked to the refrigerator and brought out a pan of jello. He said, 'Nothing replicates the human skin like jello, if it can give a clean cut on jello only then will I think of trying it on skin.'

He then demonstrates the best surgical scalpel he has ever found. The jello tends to clump and rip a bit as he performs a few slices. Then he picks up an obsidian scalpel and the jello opens cleanly, no rip or tear or bunching to be seen. 'And a lot less pressure, too. Works the same on cadavers and on consenting test patients. The skin heals much faster... I want to order at least 10 if not more, can you make them to spec?' And so the almost unknown obsidian medical scalpel and tool concept was reborn in the modern era. A stone age tool doing *better* than any modern equivalent.

Because of these folks, if there were a nuclear war it would not be the 'survivalists' that would do well, but those already working with, using and living on stone age tools. And *improving* them.

As it is with tools, so it is with the Constitution. Americans are loathe to give up anything, because you never know when you will absolutley *need it*. Amendment XIII is a case in point... I have written on it, but the implications of it are profound. Slavery outlawed... *except* as a due process punishment! This was a poison proviso to the South: you could have slaves, but they could no longer all of them be Black slaves. White superiority took that hit and is dying its last, twitching, painful death. But the 'due process' language gives one pause. We are clearly told to value human life and liberty and respect it. But, if we see a crime as so horrific that mere *death* is not punishment enough, then slavery is available. That denies a person of being a person and is to be treated as such. To actually *use* this tool in the toolbox of the Republic we, as a People, would have to think about the crime, the punishment, debate about it and come to a conclusion that the punishment was needed for the crime.

Another part of that toolbox is a tool of warfare: the letters of Marque and Reprisals language. This form of unconventional warfare was outlawed by the 1856 Declaration of Paris and via the Hague Conventions 1899/1907. The US did *not* sign either as the Constitution would need to be amended and that was not going to happen. And so America sits alone with the unconventional tool as war became conventionalized, regularized and various other things instituted between signatory states. Privateers are almost forgotten, save by Hollywood... and the Constitution. When we did not have a real Army nor real Navy nor much of anything for overseas work, Privateers were an *answer* and a dear one at that. And like a stone age tool, there it sits, still keen and having its up and downsides....

Today we are in asymmetrical warfare against non-nation state actors, which I call Transnational Terrorists. They use every means and method to achieve their ends of death and terror and subjugation of the human will. They respect no treaty, no flag, no ruling body, no international authority... truly Barbarians in every sense of the word. And because the military is so well suited to smashing, destroying and generally being a blunt object in the toolbox (though lately it is more a Swiss Army knife), it still holds *nothing* so keen as a Privateer.

While the military is hamstrung against many things, and is not well liked when doing stops at sea, Privateers can be in many places and when they stop goods those doing the transport know they have been *caught*. Because the men and women would be analyzing what is done, checking and cross-checking, acting, in truth, as their own Commerce centered Intelligence group. They *live* in the same environment as those doing the work of supplying and transporting terrorist organizations. And so they would know, *if* they were a normal shipping company most of the time. But a new conception for this is a *goods seizure and retrieval* company, using database searches, look-ups, cross-references and tracking of funds and goods to see how the low level supplies get to terrorists. If a high bounty is placed on their retrieval, then this becomes an operation that can work at a *profit*.

Unlike all other War Powers, this one is solely designated to the Legislative branch. To Congress. THAT is their warmaking power beyond declaring war. Whenever you hear a Representative or Senator ask rhetorically: 'But what role does Congress have in war?' Answer tartly back: 'The Letters of Marque and Reprisals. You may want to read about it. It is in the Constitution as a Power that ONLY CONGRESS GETS.' Add that to the high seas language and the Commerce power and it becomes a potent and powerful brew to cast at enemies in the modern day. Work with DHS to make a secure inspection system and the Treasury to enforce a closed and secure banking system and the entire paradigm of asymmetrical warfare changes radically. In FAVOR of the Civlized World!

By putting out a seizure list, targeted states and companies and individuals and ANYONE that traffics with them, the US puts on notice that we reserve the right to cut off the economic aid and comfort to our enemies. No other country may RESPOND to this in a like way. They signed AWAY those rights in agreeing to the Paris and Hague documents that cover this area. Only the United States can run Privateers. And, if Congress gives incentives and lists and puts them down and says to the American People:

'Prove you are competent and get a Warrant. You take it from there. Here is the list, we want these groups shut down and you may seize what is on the seizure list along with the vessels transporting them. Prove the ownerships and commerce, and you get the tax free bounty. The US Military must aid you if attacked by Foreign States and we will look unkindly upon them. No state that you have operated in during your works to get these goods may extradite you. You are safe from their legal proceedings here.'
I think you will find a number of companies, both old and new, totally within the US looking to this with pleasure. On the private side there are databases which even the entire Intelligence Community and Treasury and Department of Defense CANNOT touch, but companies can get to. Extensive listings and records of transactions and ownership and companies and individuals... just the sort of thing an entrepeneurial startup could hit with fresh eyes and ideas. Owned and wholly operated by Americans for the safety of the Country under the oversight of Congress. Thermonuclear devices? Blunt instruments and not very adaptable. Special Forces, great for many things, but not able to handle global tracking and trafficking too well and not at all suited to Privateering. Everything in-between does not work well in this area. But *captures* and *news events* and *trials* and *payouts* and *big payouts* and *happy stock owners*... Now THAT'S America!

Yes, people will lose lives. And terrorists don't kill? At least Privateers are seeking to build something, and they would be glad to risk their lives if the payoff is seen as high enough.

The Executive will have problems with countries. Heh. The Executive must learn to take war seriously and those that traffick with the enemy should not be kindly looked-upon. The Executive *must* support this if it is passed. It has *no choice* as it is not within the power of the Executive to have, run or deny offering assistance if it is mandated by Congress. Too bad.

The Supreme Court will become backlogged with the cases they and only they may handle. Too bad. Every other court in the country has a backlog, welcome to the club.

This is the air supply and life support system of terrorist organizations! Regularized and inspected and verfied shipping will severly limit them in ways untold. And ships carrying their contraband will cause them to lose favor with shipping and transport companies. And when they seek overland... well... Reprisals... put a bounty on ground shipment. Get it, bring it back to an Embassy or military base, get it inspected and verified and pay off the bounty.

Trucks, trains, helicopters, camels, SUVs....and those driving them. Bring 'em in. Let the Executive have the headache of them, if those captured are still alive. Privateers are just a capture and delivery service.

A true bronze age tool in statecraft. Discarded by everyone else. And now fitting into a new paradigm of warfare, conflict, security and international relations.

A true tool of asymmetrical warfare. Perhaps the most deadly to Transnational Terrorists in the end as NOTHING ELSE will make the price too high to deal with them. They want death... and we can do that... but I would prefer that they starve as they cannot spend their money... and that they die of starvation as they become shunned as the Barbarians they are.

Only Commerce can do *that*.

If Congress was not a body of sheep herding together afraid of wolves.

And unwilling to let some flock members shun their wool and show themselves to be Hounds ready to hunt wolves down.


Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Are Private Naval Companies the Answer to Maritime Challenges?

A Jacksonian said...

I think one of my later posts will help to add some clarification... Piracy, terrorism and the wider view for addressing the actual activities of 'terrorists' via the law of nations.

And From Blackwater to blue water on the utility of the Letters language for modern contracting.