03 February 2008

America's stance in the world and the next President

Today the US is in a time of change not only internally, but externally. Many of the forces of politics, religion and economics will be outside of those that have been handled in the post-Cold War era or previously during the Cold War. Many of these items are familiar, but have been 'back-burnered' during this political campaign season and for much of the past 15 years beyond that. Those pots, shoved off to the side on steady heat, have started to boil over badly, and America, as she ever has, now comes to some fateful decisions about the concepts of liberty, freedom and democracy in an ever changing world.

Back Burner #1 - Transnational Institutions

The basic Cold War and post-Cold War economic accords (G8, WTO, NAFTA) have demonstrated that in a complex global situation, that putting third parties into play where stakes go beyond simple talks, have made the world a worse and deadlier place. If Nations do not abide by these organizational decrees, they abrogate them, and each of these treaty concepts has major faults and Nations within them unwilling to do anything to reach agreement on their problems. Some of these problems include:

  1. Russia - In the post-Soviet world the chaos in Russia put in place an industrial concept that has devolved into one of the most worrying and corrosive the West has seen. While the USSR was an ideological and nuclear threat, current day Russia serves as a means for tripartite industrial ownership between the State, Private Business and Organized Crime. Almost directly 1/3 to each in many cases. This causes a major problem with banking and finance as industries are used to launder money from the drug trade, international human trafficking, international prostitution, regional pedophilia rings, and arms shipments to embargoed Nations, terrorists and organized crime groups. None of the major trade treaty organizations holds Russia to account for this, nor for lax banking that puts these funds into the global monetary system for further downstream transactions for illegal groups. These organizations could not properly handle or address BCCI, and are still trying to puzzle out the penetration Bank of New York money transfer system by the Red Mafia, more than 8 years after it was discovered.
  2. China - While a large trade partner due to its size, China has a problem of using unstructured debt to keep its industries running. These debts are, finally, backed by the State and it has little means to spread out the risk of those debts beyond its own, internal, banking institutions. The most conservative estimate of the amount of GDP that China has resting on this is 30% and some analysts go as high as 60%. This unstructured debt when applied at the 10% range to Japan and the 12-15% to the other 1980's 'Asian Tiger' economies caused a major economic recession lasting a decade or more in each of them. Because China does not float its exchange rate and does not open its books for auditing, the exact nature and depth of this problem can only be seen on a magnitude scale of social impact. Beijing currently loses $2 billion/year on pollution inside that city *itself*, due to unsafe drinking water, disease, chemical contamination, sickness and early death. Further, as China has not implemented modernization of agriculture, it still exists on an extremely poor peasantry living below the poverty line (estimates range from 25% to 40%). By being exempted from emissions testing of any sort, China now produces more sulfur dioxide than the US and is quickly moving to overtake carbon dioxide output which are worrying to some environmental groups, but those effluents along with industrial particulates create localized environments that regularly see cities enveloped in noxious smog.
  3. Mexico - While given the benefits of free trade with the US and Canada, Mexico also agreed to curb and end the northward flow of individuals going to the US and Canada illegally. They have not only not abided by that treaty, but they have done nothing, as a Nation, to address the concerns of poverty and lack of good jobs in Mexico to alleviate the need to migrate to get jobs. Mexico's air pollution, while not as bad as China's, is also felt across the Southwestern US in the form of haze and air pollution which makes determining the native produced pollutants somewhat difficult. Also, Mexico has done nothing to remove the ability of organized crime to move drugs, particularly methamphetamines, across the border and has been suffering something that is starting to look like a low end insurgency heading towards a civil war in the northern provinces adjacent to the US. Those gangs are not only 'up-arming' with automatic weapons, but they are cooperating with human traffickers from the Middle East to smuggle individuals across the border from other Nations unaccountably along with their own people. This violence has not been addressed by the Mexican Federal Police or military as both institutions are highly corrupt and willing to take bribes and 'look the other way' while the laws of Mexico are violated. NAFTA, as a treaty, is predicated on Mexico doing the exact opposite of these things, and yet it is still touted as a 'good thing' even as Mexico slowly slides into chaos about those things it promised to address and has not done so.

Other Nations in non-accord with their agreements can be found in many Nations on this planet and the idea of *extending* these agreements that have proven, and demonstrably so, not to *work* as intended is questionable in the extreme. The concepts of the modern political Left and Right on these things is horrific, as neither wants to view these as problems or, even worse, as ways to further eradicate the things the US was founded upon.

The Left, while schizophrenic on globalization, is willing to take up any cause that opposes industrialization in a strange form of Luddite view: that any advancement for industry is a threat to local society. Strange that they would say that as it is the concept of making a better life to change local culture, by locals, that drives industrialization. Anything that causes any hardship when done by an external or global company, is instantly demonized as some form of 'social imperialism' even though no troops, no constabulary and no political enforcement secret service ever shows up by those companies to do those things. These people want to have their culture changed as they see oppressive poverty as a problem for having families and passing their social traditions onwards and promulgating them as worthy to have. Those that agree to such jobs are not *blind* to the modern world and trying to decide that for them is authoritarian at base and trying to implement it totalitarian and imperial in outcome.

The Right, even worse, plays up the material benefits and then walks away from the basis of keeping and sustaining them which is *not just a job*. These things are kept when government can no longer take them from an individual who has done legal work for legal pay for legal purchases. And yet in many regions of the world, including China, the ability to actually do that and *speak ones mind* is at permanent peril. What is offered by those on the Right seeking free trade and putting forth that it is making us more wealthy, is that they are ignoring the other half of the agreement and that those in peril of bondage due to their beliefs cannot trade freely. What remuneration we get from those individuals and companies is handing out goods to bribe the populace of these regimes to *not* seek their own liberty so as to secure their freedom and just assent to their lack of same. If the Left is disingenuous on the good that Walmart can do, the Right is disingenuous on the actual cost in human liberty that goes into making those goods we buy.

These two views of the Left and Right cannot and will not survive for much longer as we perpetuate tyrannical regimes, do not spread the word of liberty and do not seek to make deep and culturally meaningful agreements with those that are securing and have SECURED their liberty via democracy. This bitter, noxious, two-part poison that has infused the lifeblood of America and much of her trade relations is slowly disintegrating those things that those backers had purported to *back*. The era of 'globalization' and 'internationalization' of trade along Cold War ideological lines was crumbling before that chilly conflict ended. As that permafrost melts we find ourselves not to be on rock, but sinking in mud of our own devising. So far we have no leadership that will stand up and say to an odious regime that it *is* odious and contrary to our principles of human liberty as the source of securing human freedom. The Left wants freedom showered like party gifts, with strings to pull them back, and the Right wants nothing to do with supporting liberty to create freedom, just the cash, thank you very much.

This is not a 'root cause' of problems anywhere in the world except in the US, and is mere fertilizer strewn on the noxious weeds attacking the foundations of our understanding of human liberty and freedom. Freedoms are inalienable rights in each of us created, that is self-evident. To secure these rights we must have liberty and back that up so as to sustain those rights and keep them. Liberty is that which allows us to keep the value of our own toil and profit from it so that we may use such to do better for ourselves and our children. It is not in the buying and selling of goods, but the ability to create, buy and sell and then use our own determination on what we will make, who we will sell to, and what we will purchase and then voice those opinions and not have them repressed that allows freedom to be given voice from the that underpinning of human liberty.

Back Burner #2 - Foreign Policy

Those seeking to transnationalize the world and put more of it under bureaucratic restraint are aiming for what the Sun Emperors of China had: an entrenched bureaucracy to enforce Imperial will. Save that done on a global basis, such a bureaucracy is tyranny by its very existence. Those who want a 'world without borders' or 'uninhibited free trade' ignore the fact that people exercising liberty can, should and DO the very opposite of those things because we all do not think alike on this planet even down to what 'free trade' means. We form Nations so as to protect our differences and the goal of the US is *not* to homogenize humanity against its will, but to show how we, as free people sustaining liberty, can achieve better things in life by exercising our liberty *freely*. This does require us *not* to make money off of captive populations, nor to invest in tyrannical regimes or their Nations, if we mean what we say then that must be backed by those actual actions that will directly give voice to them. Whenever you hear the 'yes, but can't we do...' you are hearing the voice of someone unwilling to give up material gains for liberty, who is unwilling to deny repressive regimes for temporary ideological fulfillment and who does not actually believe that liberty is worth having, so the part after but usually comes with someway to do the exact opposite and sell our ideal of liberty down the river for immediate gratification.

Even without establishing this first area, the next President has much more than just globalized economic problems causing instability due to a lack of liberty. Beyond that are ethnic, cultural and religious problems that are now seen on a religious scale bringing back the ills of warfare of old under new guises, and yet still recognizable under the face paint. Our stance in various parts of the world, while strong in those areas that we are militarily active, is weakest in those areas undergoing strife and tensions that threaten to liquidate Nations.

The list of 'weak States' must now be headed up by Pakistan, which is multi-cultural, multi-religious and has multiple ethnic groups inside it. That is a common theme amongst the 'weak States' threatening global stability and is characteristic of: Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, The Balkans (Kosovo, Bosnia), Lebanon, the Caucuses region (Chechnya, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan), the southern tier of ex-Soviet Republics (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan). Even worse are States that are succumbing to the end life of tyrannical regimes or slowly fraying internally: Iran, Turkey, Cuba, North Korea, Burma. Finally there are the 'lawless areas' or troubled ethnic areas that coincide with some of the previous areas: Chechnya (Russia, Georgia), North Warziristan (Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan), Kashmir (India, China, Pakistan), Kurdish regions (Turkey, Iran, Syria), Triborder Area in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay), Venezuela, Columbia ("FARClandia" supported by narcotics and Venezuela).

Note that a mixture of these are purely anti-US, some are anti-Western and many have the overlay of religious conflict added in. Thus the concept of DIME (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic) comes severely lacking in religious outlook (ex. Westphalian Nation concepts of freedom of religion) or even being able to provide outlooks on liberty and freedom. The old Cold War and post-Cold War DIME views must give way as they are neutral vectors used by those that support liberty and those that erode it. Without a bias towards liberty, freedom, democracy and toleration of religion, there is no way to properly cast these vectors as positive towards those things on their own. That highly didactic, minimalist and reductionist mode of thought has proven to need societal and social input to even begin to work on Counter-Insurgency (COIN), which means that professing views merely to support these tools is not enough to meet larger US goals towards securing our own freedom and liberty by ensuring that others have a good example of how to *use* it.

To do that, however, requires stating that the US is not only different from other Nations, but puts forward that these differences are not only substantial, but substantive. There is more than just difference, there is backing for those differences for the Nation that must go beyond partisan political ideology at home and shift towards the founding ideals of the US as held in common by all citizens. That understanding that foreign policy is not the play ground of economists, ideologues, or 'schools of diplomacy' must be stated and clearly for the US to have a reasoned statement of what and who we are as a diverse people. If we cannot come together and support those seeking liberty, then we have no business cutting business deals with them or offering them 'Peace Corps' help or other forms of help from this Nation. Something this basic across the political sphere has been absent in the US for decades, and multiple individuals from Congress feel that there is some 'right' to them practicing some version of foreign policy without assent from the Executive. Yet, these spheres are absolutely different and the SCOTUS has backed that: Congress gets no ability to perform foreign policy, outside of the Senate consent treaties, Congressional regularization of treaties, Law of Nations punishment and high seas regulation powers, without the assent of the Executive and even that is not blanket and cannot be so due to the separation of powers.

Back Burner #3 - The Return of Private War

Understanding these threats militarily requires a recognition of the different actors and types of conflicts involved. From purely separatists/Nationalist (as in Sri Lanka) to ideological (FARC in Columbia) to Ethnic (the multiple ethnicities crossing through the India to Kazakhstan area) to the religious (globally in the form of al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and locally via affiliates of these organizations) to actual Nation State threats from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea. This is not a pleasing thing to see after the stability of Nation State warfare of the early and middle 20th century, and by the late 20th century no concept was put forth to address non-State actors taking up arms illegitimately in contravention of all known understandings of the Nation State system. The attempts to address them by purely civil means (police and international law enforcement) failed, dismally and has been doing so for decades.

Further the policy of using such actors by Nation States has proven harmful to those exact, same backers (the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan) and actually spread those groups as their noxious outlooks seemed victorious. That said the most money poured into such groups comes from Saudi Arabia and Iran, and not the US or Russia or China. And as the international banking system is not set up to deal with this effectively and has, via the lack of economic understanding, actually helped these organizations to spread, the purely civil side cannot and should not be seen as the only means to address these individuals who are placing themselves outside the framework of Nation States as outlaws. Such outlaws are not only on the run from the law, they place themselves outside the protection of the law by breaking the fundamental, civil agreements of citizens amongst Nations to have Nations.

To address the necessary military aspects of those who wage war unaccountably requires that the US actually comes to understand what non-State actors actually means and that the military be shifted from a purely Nation State conflict organization to one of more flexible means and responses. To a degree this does require an expansion of the regular forces of the Union, and that the ability to go to friendly Nations besieged by such lawlessness be brought to the forefront. As seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, this requires a State Department presence that understands that dangerous situations are the byproduct of failures in Nations and diplomacy. No longer can the US State Dept. put out ideological tracts from any 'school' of outlook be it Arab, economic or quasi-socialist. Diplomats and diplomatic staff must shift from 19th century digs in fine quarters and prepare for the 'rough and ready' diplomacy of tents, lawless territory and working to bring ideologically and religiously diverse groups together in a fashion so as to promote not only peace, but liberty.

Similarly the US Treasury Department also needs an overhaul and the ability to deploy with mixed forces and to help identify and track down the financial and criminal networks that supply these groups using Private War to attack Nations illegally. This requires more detailed work than has previously been asked of the Treasury Department, and yet this is absolutely vital in finding and rooting out the economic links these groups have forged so as to bring threats to civilians globally, be it via terrorism or organized crime.

The Commerce Department and Department of Agriculture get little view in these conflicts, and yet they hold the exact specialties needed to identify underlying economic and supply needs and how to begin addressing them. While the Army Corps of Engineers does fine work, the backing by individuals who can work for the long haul with local government to ensure local projects are continued to completion is vital and necessary, all the while emphasizing local finances and expenditures. The US can no longer be seen as a global 'Sugar Daddy' and what funds we now ill use for 'subsidies' and 'price supports' needs to be shifted to those things helping long term National survival. The job of identifying the right kinds of work, industry and crops to go with areas that are desperately poor is essential, and demonstrating how local organizations and Nations can do this on their own is a price beyond any money. By doing that and showing that a small investment in the people in a region can pay large dividends in self-support and peace also means the US cannot and will not pay for these things. There is a difference between small amounts of 'seed cash' and continued advancement of funds indefinitely, and the former brings self-reliance and a helping hand to stand up while the latter encourages graft and corruption. By demonstrating how to do these things and adjusting for local circumstances after learning them the US brings forth that demonstration of liberty that no amount of funds or worldly goods can do: by demonstrating liberty and how to protect it, others see that while difficult it can be done and is worth the time and effort.

A set of armed forces that promulgate this small scale work all the way up to main force battlefield against a large Nation (China say or Russia or India or Brazil) means that there must be a shift in training to not only the battlefield raw power of the US armed forces, but the fine grained work necessary to ensure that an area dug up by the raw power is then smoothed down into a productive realm once more. The high degree of skills necessary for this is something the modern all-volunteer force is set up for, having so many with college education in it the actual mental acumen and combat skills should be retained in those parts of the government needed for this by offering signing bonuses, good career advancement and challenging jobs in their fields of expertise. Shifting from Citizen soldier to Citizen employee helping the overall external military and economic needs of the US is one that has been lost for decades by the US government. Veterans preferences are not enough, and the actual recruitment for those skill sets requires a re-alignment of both combat and civilian organizations to allow transitional roles to be developed.

Back Burner #4 - Military Transition

Force doctrine to follow this breaks into multiple sections: Grand Strategic, Regional, and Theater. There has been by the problematical role from the Key West agreement for Close Air Support given to the Air Force in addition to its air supremacy and domination role along with its strategic and global role for air transport. The post-20th century era, however, now has a predominant infrastructure that is no longer terrestrial or air based: satellites. Used for INTEL, communications, strategic asset tracking and other purposes, the infrastructure of even hardened military satellites is not robust enough to stand up to relatively low cost orbital interdiction. Additionally lasers and particle beam weapons from ground sources are threats that are beyond the bounds of normal work by the armed forces and yet have slowly developed into a low cost anti-satellite technology. The 21st century and onwards can no longer afford the post-WWII and Cold War military role differentiation and the time to shift roles, including CAS, is overdue.

As so much critical strategic infrastructure for guided munitions is now in orbit, and the effectiveness of smaller forces is based on that, these assets can no longer be left vulnerable to cheap ASAT systems. On orbital ASATs the following Nations can readily make and deploy such systems, even hasty ones such as ball bearings in an opposite or intersecting orbit: United States, UK, France, Russia, China, Japan, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Pakistan, India. The list of Nations able to field lasers and particle beams is currently small, but that is due to actually building such systems in an open way and lasers, in particular, are amenable to to cheap industrial accumulation of lesser systems. Additionally a single low yield nuclear device could devastate not only satellites but ground based systems by electromagnetic pulse and yet do little if any ground based damage. Done at the proper level the ionosphere could be so charged as to remove long distance communications and make communications with surviving orbital vehicles difficult, if not impossible. As so much of the global infrastructure now relies on such systems, the harm that can be done by small, but technically competent rogue States (ex. North Korea) is immense.

That first line of defense, then, must go to the US Air Force and transition it to an Aerospace Force giving it the strategic over watch and satellite protection role. This infrastructure would be hasty and unmanned at first, but would necessitate manned ventures and permanent basing with independent power and food supplies. That protection role is paramount to the US and the global economy, and the ability to interdict ASAT weapons as well as help design more robust satellites would be a prime focus.

That said there is the 'cleaning of the spaceways' of the typical debris that has built up in Low Earth Orbit so as to remove potential dangers from lift vehicles and other 'space junk' from useful orbits. This is not a typical USAF sort of job and more properly flows to the arm that understands the necessity of safe passage through international realms: the US Navy. By doing this and getting Congressional language and understanding that its 'high seas' power is generically applicable to the freedom of navigation in space (as it has done so to the edge of the atmosphere and core of the planet under extensions of the high seas powers), this ensures that proper oversight and regulation for such operations is performed. As with aircraft carriers there are some mixing of roles in this, but the differentiation shifts to the USAF providing base operations and ready response transport, and the USN providing heavier lifting work and ensuring the safety of space transport itself, not just orbital work.

To properly redistribute the powers amongst the armed forces, the USAF would still retain its strategic, regional and theater air dominance and superiority roles. Getting and maintaining air dominance becomes a prime job in the atmosphere. That said CAS work devolves back to the ground forces of the US Army and Marine Corps for all non-superiority and dominance roles. The purely tactical INTEL and CAS roles belong with those forces most effected by it, which are the ground forces. This will require an amount of airspace deconfliction by the USAF, but its additional working territory (e.g. space) gives it opportunity to put new assets into place for long-term work without needing to stress aircrews on current platforms (ex. AWACS).

On the sea-based side of things, the current generation of Carrier Battlegroup has demonstrated that multi-ship contingents with air superiority and domination make for an effective means of delivering not only firepower but humanitarian aid. In the tradition of the Great White Fleet, the US Navy has demonstrated that it was worth its weight in gold during the 2004 Tsunami rescue period and more than that in giving mobile air cover to help not only in Afghanistan, Iraq, but also in one of the other fronts of the GWOT, Somalia. The mostly unheralded work of the US Navy is a vital backbone to protecting our commerce and ensuring open sea lanes for global commerce. The transformative technologies of the last decade are pointing a way to a new type of sea based combat group, however: the shift to unmanned and often unpiloted drones for recon, surveillance and even some CAS. For the immediate future, the move of stealth aircraft onto aircraft carriers will give a much needed capability in the air dominance and superiority realm, but the shift to UAV/UCAV over the next 20 years will also see carriers utilized for those missions. At some point in the next 5 years or so there will be a serious look at shifting some fleet support to a new, smaller and stealthier carrier platform for UAV/UCAV work. These ships will be much closer to the escort or 'Jeep' carriers of WWII in size and much smaller in crew due to automation. Such ships may also serve with Short Take Off and Landing aircraft or rotary aircraft, but the primary purpose of such ships are to provide constant surveillance and INTEL for both ships and land based units. A shift of AEGIS functions to such vessels would be natural, so as to provide air support and defense capability in addition to the ISR role.

Surface combatant ships are also going to transform and the US Navy will need to be budgeted for the slow retirement of older craft and bringing newer, stealthier and more powerful ships into service. Here the DDX concept and the railgun give such vessels the ability to reach 200 miles inland in seconds at extremely low cost. Serving as escorts for the new carriers, a shift towards a smaller and more lightweight carrier group as an auxiliary to today's carrier battlegroup would allow for a more flexible sea-based posture to be had while actually delivering the same amount of firepower. Because these ships will be smaller, stealthy and have a smaller crew size, they will be seen as less threatening on patrol while being as effective as their larger counterparts. There have also been views towards a 'modular destroyer platform' with sections inside the hull that can be replaced quickly at a shipyard and swap out functions and capabilities. Primary capabilities would include: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), minesweeping/detection, ground combatant support, close-in defense against surface directed missiles, missile launching platforms, and search and rescue. By having multiple internal hull sections available and swapping them out over a week or so, such vessels could serve a small but vital role for the new world of mixed mode warfare.

Submersible technology, as with air and ground, is slowly shifting to the unmanned/unpiloted vehicle which may first show up in ASW as a means for putting out a distributed sensor network, but will also serve with standard manned platforms. It is unlikely that these vessels will have a first primary purpose of combat, although precision delivery of ordinance may become an intermediate generation concept to develop. The nuclear missile submarine, however, still serves as the basis for final deterrence against enemy Nations and as a 'last line of defense' against nuclear sneak attack taking out other forms of warfare. That being said, a next generation of these ships incorporating newer concepts of missile delivery should be built along with adding more stealth capability and less noisy power generation facilities.

The manned attack submarine is also a necessary part of the defense network at sea, and this will need augmenting via unmanned/unpiloted devices as two of the oldest forms of submarine platforms, mines and diesel-electric subs, have proven to be vexing to all advances in technology. Advances in mine and diesel-electric sub detection are still needed as these are both palpable threats not only for surface combatants but submersible ones as well. Of all the 1980's views on sea based warfare, this is the one that has stubbornly resisted high technology, physics and the applied sciences.

For ground-based warfare, there is a revolution going on via the integration of technology, materials sciences and cybernetics, along with non-traditional skills of forensics and police hostile network determination. These last have been demonstrated as useful tools for COIN, along with localization and familiarization so that troops shift from roles as 'outsiders' in conflicts and become something a bit more akin to friendly, armed foreign tourists to local eyes. What will not be seen is the time, effort and determined coordination across the arrays of forces from individual soldier to distant fleet unit for fire support, ISR and weapons system deconfliction in hostile areas. While much of this is locally based via technology, it all fits within the global basis of the satellite positioning and comms network. Without that system for coordination, nothing like current effectiveness can be achieved no matter what the field situation is: from hostile main force battlefield to COIN transitional work to final support and sustainment work. The large scale coordination, however, being passed over to Theater and Global commands, leaves the tactical command systems freed up to incorporate more information and knowledge across the battlespace. Using Metcalf's Law of networking, each node added to the network that contributes information, data sieving, or analysis will increase the effectiveness of that network exponentially. Precision guided munitions are no good if they cannot be sent to the proper target and that requires a human based analysis capability stretching up from the shooter to the global analysis areas, each lending their expertise to the entire system.

That system will see the ordinary soldier fielding more lightweight, yet effective body armor with sensors attached to it. Of all the problems a soldier has, that of supplying energy to devices is a large one, but also having them be effective in degraded or shutdown modes requires skill and forethought on the part of designers and testers. While much of the Offensive Individual Combat Weapon system has been put on *hold* we are also seeing that evolutionary weapons in the carbine arena are pointing out that purpose built weapons do better than a 'one-size fits all' with swapping pieces in and out to change things. The WWII M-2 machine gun, fielded as crew carried weapons, ship based weapons, put into aircraft and, basically, giving firepower that was reliable still, to this day, serves that purpose. Good designs are amenable to new technology, but it takes a thorough view of what a weapon *ought to do* to make a good weapon. So while the OICW sounds good on paper, the ability to deliver the stopping power needed to the soldier has sidelined it while older and reliable weapons are still used.

What is changing, however, is the view of ground vehicles, and this, with the UGV, is heading towards unmanned/unpiloted devices that are now being tested out for service. The UGV is meant for rough terrain across unsecured territory to deliver weapons, supplies and other goods to soldiers in the field and allow for evacuation of wounded soldiers via that same means. At the same time this is happening, the Non-Line Of Sight Cannon is also being produced to replace the Paladin, and it features autoloaders, multiple shells on target within a half second, diesel/electric power plant and automated defense system capable of knocking out RPGs, shoulder fired missiles and, infantry performing close assault on such vehicles. Small, fast and stealthy is the concept along with a smaller crew size, this vehicle along with the UGV may see a hybrid generation to follow. The only vehicle likely to outlast the next few Presidents is the M1A1 Abrams tank, which is being up graded again, so that it is starting to look more like a starship from the inside. Currently a 'next gen' tank is not on the drawing boards, and for good reason: the M1A1 has produced a very good and upgradeable platform over the past 20 years.

Back Burner #5 - Meeting Omnipresent Threats

By basing the foundation of the US in 18th century terms, the understanding of the role of the Nation in the defense of the People views this not as a system in which the Nation, alone defends the People. The US Constitution is an explicit rendering of three main areas of understanding about the Nation, beyond philosophy. These areas of understanding are ones that impact the day-to-day affairs of Nations of that era and continue to do so to this day. That most ancient of rights, that of citizenry based self-defense against those that are not Nations, is not a new concept or even a radical one. It dates back to the earliest eras of mankind and the formation of the first towns and cities. Recognizing this the founders placed two critical components in the Constitution, to ensure that the Nation would rely upon its citizens for defense as they are the ones speaking of their responsibilities to have a Nation in the preamble. The first comes second, and is also the State's right to self-defense, given in Article I, Section 10 and the negation of restrictions in case of invasion or imminent danger that will not admit delay. Coming, as it does, on a broad set of restriction on troops, warcraft and foreign agreements, this single clause puts the States final defense outside the hands of the National government. The States are not to form permanent armies, but are allowed to form permanent and ready commitment by its citizens to practice the arts of war, as citizens, in the from of ready volunteers. At one point in US history it was not unknown that every 'armed, able bodied man' come to the defense of his society, and that is enshrined as a basic right in the absence of National protection.

The second part, and far more contentious by those wishing to mis-state it, is the Letters of Marque and Reprisals language, that allows Congress to duly authorize private citizens to be armed to defend the Nation and receive recompense if they properly carry out such activities as warranted by Congress and given by the President. While heading into conflict these are citizens that risk their money, their well being and their lives to step in, via warrant and call, to go after those that have attacked the Nation or that Congress duly wishes to serve notice to on their displeasure of things done to harm the well-being of the Nation. These are not mercenaries: they get no fee up front and their loyalty is given to the Nation, and they take up risks because they *want to do so*. Nor are these Pirates as these individuals fall under military jurisdiction and turning on the Nation makes you an instant enemy of it with the greatest charge given in the Constitution being Treason. In older times these individuals worked for 'prize capture' money from those vessels captured and brought in to official US designated ports or by extension, government personnel authorized to validate such things. The Nation not only looks to its final defenses, then, from citizens, but sees that voluntary activities seeking proper warrant, recognition and accountability shall be deemed worthy, if Congress so desires, to come under the command of all forces or otherwise carry out National directives against those harming the Nation.

Together these two things separate and give distinction between the Law of Nature, in which there are only individuals and nothing higher than warlords, and the Law of Nations, in which citizens give up certain rights to their Nation so as to have a Nation to act on their behalf. It is that Law of Nations given form by multiple generations and compiled by Emmerich de Vattel into the book, Law of Nations, that gets special mention in the US Constitution in Article I, Section 8, to give Congress the power to enact laws based on this view. The views of de Vattel, and prior to him Hugo Grotius on the Law of War, that form and give substance to not only the high crimes against Nations but against all Nations that those taking up Private War are due. As the basis of US law still rests upon the English Common Law and its views up to the founding, and then is explicitly changed via specific enactments under the Constitution, the views of that law are also present in the realm of Private War and that is given before the founding by William Blackstone's Commentaries on the English Law, which does get some modification by the US view of the Admiralty powers and their jurisdiction, but otherwise remains in accord with that Common Law view.

By the late 19th and early 20th century the idea that those waging Private War against Nations would be a threat to civilization seemed like a far distant thing, and yet by the time the 20th century was well past the half-way mark, those who did this and caused strife against all Nations because they would not bow down to the wishes of these few, would hand the world slowly mounting death tolls that did not respect: race, religion, borders, individuality, liberty or freedom. By so thinking that warfare could never be practiced by dedicated individuals to much societal harm, those that did so were given refuge in the lands of the weak and the minds of the timid. In hiding behind treaties and not enforcing them so as to ensure that these individuals and groups operating outside the protection of the law were brought to heel and ended, the world has been made a worse place and one degenerating into transnational lawlessness.

History has seen this before when the Bronze Age Cultures of the Aegean fell, and nearly took down all civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean with them, and the centuries of the Dark Ages that followed would barely remember the greatness of that civilization at its pinnacle. Likewise the Roman Empire would decay, collapse and then resist in the East while the West went to barbarism until even the East would fall, too. Between those the Empires in China, Nile, Fertile Crescent would come and go each achieving greatness until they, in turn, met their ends at unaddressed barbarism and faltering rule. Those clear warning signs of lawless lands, unaccountable warlords and killing without fear are those same signposts appearing again, and like those previous eras we find ours of governments that govern, not rule, rotting before their onslaught. By not accepting that democracy rests upon the might of the People to arm themselves and accountably go after those that place themselves outside all law by their words, deeds and intent, and by trying to *make* law to cover those destroying all law, we drift into foolishness insisting that a right to 'health care' trumps the right to survive as a culture, People and Nation.

Back Burner #6 - Supporting Friends, Allies and the Law of Nations

Of all the things let go by modern politics, it is the idea that the goodness of trade obviates the strengthening of Nations and the culture that gives rise to democracy via liberty. We, as a Nation, open doors to 'free trade' with those that have little interest in our well being while snubbing those that have stood by us for decades if not longer. Where are the lovely 'free trade' agreements with Britain, Australia, Japan, Israel, Poland and those Nations that have supported us in war and peace unstintingly or waited in the shackles of Communism so that they could free themselves to join us? Where is the magnificence of our openness with THEM? America, to be serious about confronting tyranny, needs to open its doors to those that have left the shackles of tyrannical and despotic rule behind them to embrace liberty, democracy and freedom. Further we should be working hard with those Nations that have been by us through thick and thin, war and peace and have demonstrated fealty to the US and its People by their actions over long periods of time. Free trade with Canada, I can see, even with the minor disagreements between our Nations we have been through two world wars together and they support us dearly in Afghanistan. This goes for the UK, Australia and within the limits of the Constitution we helped to give them, Japan. Where are the 'free trade' agreements with them and the open movement of their peoples and the acceptance of these, our stalwart friends and allies? These Nations have kept treaties with us for generations while Mexico was disgracing their signature on NAFTA within days of its signing.

That is not 'conservative' that is asinine.

While the US stood tall to confront the USSR there was one Nation and one Nation only that struck the hard and fast blows to 'The Worker's Paradise' and called it for the fraud it was in the way the US and the West could not do: Poland. Those hammerblows on the rotten edifice of International Communism brought its long lasting decay into sudden, final collapse. Where is our 'free trade' treaty with THEM? Why do we seek Nations that have little reason to like us to run our ports and not a stalwart and trustworthy people who kept faith with the US, liberty and democracy for decades under the lash of Communism? Where is the great heart of capitalism when you need? Too busy kissing up to Mexico for cheap oil while we should be giving deep and hard thanks and fealty to a Nation that stood by our ideals while we FORGOT THEM? These Eastern European Nations have demonstrated far more in the knowing and support of liberty, democracy, freedom and capitalism than the US has seen from its two parties in decades. Are we so miserly with our understanding that we can only make treaties with those that don't like us and won't stand by them while those who would and willingly stand by us are left in the cold?

There is a deep and abiding problem in US politics when the 'Right' will not work to cement ties with those that work towards liberty and, instead, seek exploitive ties to those in poor areas of the world so as create minimal jobs and no liberty in that doing. Supporting capitalism is not supporting liberty: supporting the ability of people to prosper by their own hands is liberty and working with regimes that have no interest in that is destroying liberty, not building it. This credo, invoked by President Wilson for the Middle East has had over 90 years to work there, over 30 years in China, failed in less than a decade in the Balkans and has, generally, only worked with those that ALREADY supported liberty and freedom to start with.

On the 'Left' when the problems with 'our friends overseas' not liking what we do, they mean those that disagree with us and would see the US falter and fail. They do not mean our friends and allies that we should be working with who have come out of tyranny and who have worked with us for decades to sustain a better world. Somehow the criticism of socialist and tyrannical governments now means more to the 'Left' than the support of our friends and allies who *help* the US unstintingly. Those former really don't matter much in how we work in the world as they are not doing the hard work of liberty creation *with us* and are, instead, sapping the liberty of their people when they are not outright stealing it. When those Nations criticize the US, that is a *good thing* because they see their theft of liberty and freedom of their peoples threatened by those who are willing to stand up on their own and step forward to create, support and sustain individual liberty.

Some Nations, like France, are learning that you cannot buy off those seeking to wage Private War and balkanize their Nations. By not creating ethnic and cultural assimilation the French are slowly losing France on the inside and they are finally starting to realize this. Because those waging puritanical and tyrannical Private War follow a cultural ethos where being *nice* is seen as a weakness and disdained, those very same socialist entities are handing the knives over to those which will carve them up and doing so freely and with eyes completely open. Those barbarians, as in the days of the decline of the Roman Empire, now might seem like a 'solution', albeit one that will have a death toll that is unimaginable, decreased standards of living and an end to human liberty, but at least the question of 'what shall we do' will be answered for those doing the asking.

This latter is the end of the transnational, multi-culti, 'pit one group against another' ethos of the 'Left' and 'Right'. Across Europe we, in America, see the wages of being 'too nice' and not holding to personal accountability so that cultures and the rule of law can be sustained. At home we see this eroded by those wanting to erase our borders, remove democracy from our people, and impose government from Congress that will be so 'open' in its feelings that anyone, from any land, that somehow gets to our shores can vote themselves into power if there are enough of them. This is *not* classical liberalism and the rule of law along with the Law of Nations that were CREATED by classical liberals to SAFEGUARD Nations and peoples. This is cultural abdication and ritualistic destruction of Nations for a temporary 'feel good' while the actual government declines into rulership and despotism. Classical liberals would look at such and call it 'decadent' as in: decaying and rotting from the inside. To survive these times when Nations will be committing some ritualized form of socialist ethnic suicide by letting others destroy their Nations, the US faces a destructive force that will seek to grasp at the worst possible weapons and turn them on those that support Nations and differences amongst Nations. And weakly submitting to that will kill liberty, freedom and America. If we cannot enforce the rule of law at home and the Law of Nations to hold Nations accountable for their actions, and put non-Nation State actors up to the same level as Nations, what results is *not* an era of liberty and freedom, but an era of warlordism decaying into imperial rule.

If we are lucky.

And the worst of all Dark Ages if we are not.

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