Monday, April 27, 2009

Piratical Precedents

On a wall in the Colonel's study an oddly-handled sword and its scabbard hang crossed beneath a wood carving of the Marine Corps' eagle, globe, and anchor. The uniquely designed sword has been the exclusive ceremonial accoutrement of U. S. Marine officers for nearly two centuries, but its history is far longer than that.

In the 9th Century, the leaders of the Islamic Abbisid caliphate headquartered in Baghdad, worried that their military strength was not sufficient to maintain their regional dominance, created a caste of slave warriors the predominance of which were initially acquired from slave-holding nomadic Turks. Over the next century, these Mamelukes, from the Arabic word mamluk, meaning "owned," distinguished themselves in military service to their masters and began to assume positions of great responsibility in their armies.  

In the early 870s, one of these slave generals staged a coup, seized power from the weak representative of the caliphate in Egypt, and rapidly brought the region stretching from Egypt to Syria under his control. This first Mameluke dynasty ended in 905 when another slave army from Baghdad invaded and regained control of Egypt and Palestine.

A succession of different dynastic caliphs continued to maintain their military supremacy in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions with their elite Mameluke armies, continually replenished by recruits and slaves acquired from Central Asia. By the middle of the 13th Century, the Mamelukes are at the height of their power and influence and a Mameluke general once again seized power in Egypt, this time from a weakened descendant of the great Saladin. 

Coincident with this uprising to the West, the successors of Genghis Khan expanded the Mongol Empire from the East into Europe and the Middle East. Mameluke armies over the next century are among a minority of military forces able to withstand the Mongol tide and win significant battles against them. From the Mongols, the Mamelukes adopted effective battlefield tactics and weapons, among them a slightly curved, simply-handled, broad-bladed sabre descended from a common weapon of the Ming dynasty. The Mamelukes combined features of this sword with features of the scimitar carried by their Central Asian ancestors and the result was the samshir, from the Persian word for a lion's claw.

Mameluke warlord rule, with caliphate figure heads, continued in North Africa and the Middle East until finally snuffed out by the expanding Ottoman Empire in the early 19th Century. Mameluke military influence, particularly mostly-ceremonial weaponry, continued to predominate throughout the region.

In 1801, Thomas Jefferson, the gun-owning, former anti-government extremist author of the treasonous Anglo-American colonial declaration of secession from the British crown, assumed the office of President of the United States. One of the first foreign policy challenges of his administration was the prevalence of piracy taking its toll on American shipping in the Mediterranean. Corsairs, based in what is today Libya, continued a tradition that dated back thousands of years in the Mediterranean -- seizing merchant shipping cargoes and holding the ships and their crews for ransom. 

Consumed by war on the continent, European nations found it more practical to pay the ransoms and "protection tribute" than to divert military resources to deal with the states (the Kingdom of Morocco and the Barbary States--Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis) sanctioning the piracy. 

American administrations under Washington and Adams also paid ransom and tribute. 

When Jefferson refused to pay an increased tribute demanded by the Pasha of Tripoli, the Barbary despot declared war on the United States and seized several American merchant ships and crews. Jefferson sent a U. S. Navy squadron to deal with the situation, but a blockade of the port of Tripoli and anti-piracy patrols in the Mediterranean were ineffective.

Realizing that regime change was required to remedy the situation, the Americans sided with the deposed former ruler of Tripoli, Hamet Karamanli, and a small contingent of Marines joined a company of mercenaries hired by Hamet in an expedition to retake the Tripolitanian throne. Led by American Marine First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon, the force trekked 600 miles across the Libyan desert, stormed the citadel at Derne, Tripoli, and raised the American flag over the city on April 27, 1805. 

It was the first United States land operation on foreign soil. 

Gratified, Hamet presented O'Bannon with a Mameluke sword.

Proclaimed an American Hero on his return, O'Bannon left military service and although a native of Virginia, entered politics in Kentucky, serving in the state house and senate.

Ever vigilant to add laurel and lore to our tradition, the Marine Corps immortalized O'Bannon's feat in the Marines' Hymn, and adopted a facsimile of O'Bannon's Mameluke sword gift as the ceremonial side-arm of its officers.

From Baghdad to Somalia -- what goes around, comes around. Want to deal most effectively with a particularly thorny problem? Dig it out by the root.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Enemies Emboldened

Any day now it is going to happen. Joe Biden, Vice President for Blowhard Blathering, will not be able to keep from saying, "I told you so."

Back during the halcyon days of national euphoria between the election and inauguration of the false messiah, the vast majority of Americans dared believe that the incoming "Can't we all just get along?" administration would change the world's opinion of us and change the hearts of our enemies just by smiling, bowing, apologizing, and talking nice. And, they were right. All over the world, the opinion that America is to be respected (even if also feared) has evaporated almost over night. We are, to paraphrase what our president has been telling leaders the world over, no longer the leader of the world--we are just equal partners.

Give H and his crew credit, they have accomplished more in the first 100 days in office than any nascent U.S. administration in the history of the republic. The Appeaser in Chief has emboldened more enemies around the world with his actions over the last three months than any America-hater could dare hope. North Korea and Iran have increased the pace of their respective marches toward nuclear weapons delivery capability, Castro and Castro-lite are gleefully counting the increased revenues to their repressive regimes, Somali pirates attacked U.S. flagged merchant ships for the first time, the Taliban are on the move in Pakistan (the fate of which has been described by the Obama administration as the most important in the world) and have just taken control of a region only 60 miles from the capital, and the drug money-fueled warlords in the nation on our southern border are threatening to take over and establish the world's largest narco-state.

Enemies across the globe are testing our new president, and so far he is failing to meet the challenges with anything more than smiles, handshakes, and bows. Back just after the election, Joe Biden told us that the new president would be tested early on. Come on, Joe, say it--you told us so.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

No Water for Info

There are some American principles so important that the welfare of no citizen, or even a large group of citizens, is more important than adherence to them. Our treatment of prisoners is one of them. Our nation was born and grown to maturity under the over-arching principle that our light was different--exceptional--in the pantheon of national lamps around the globe. We were the light that outshone all others, and set the standard for others to emulate.

When a government incarcerates a citizen or an enemy, that government takes complete responsibility for the welfare of that prisoner. This is not to say that prisoners incarcerated as punishment for crimes against our society should be mollycoddled. But prisoners are, by definition, as helpless and dependent on the grace of the state as any, and their punishment should be no more, nor less, than the loss of personal freedom intended by the imprisonment.

When our government detains an enemy combatant, regardless whether that combatant's sanctioning nation or organization is a signatory to any treaties or conventions governing the treatment of prisoners of war, our government has a higher standard, by the very nature of our American Exceptionalism, by which to measure our treatment of that captive, regardless the atrocious nature of that captive's former activities against us or our allies. Further, and this is the meat of the matter, the safety of no American or American city, is more important than maintenance of our principles and the exceptional brightness of our light to the rest of the world.

When we, as a nation, begin to believe that our safety and comfort is so important that the torture of helpless prisoners to gain important information with which to disrupt and prevent future attacks against us is justified, then we relinquish our standing as the exceptional lamp to the world. To put this in perspective, when a US military force detains an enemy combatant of any sort on the battlefield, our soldiers are prohibited, on pain of significant punishment, from mistreatment of that prisoner beyond reasonable means of detention and security, even if "aggressive" interrogation might very well reveal impending attacks on our soldiers against which they would otherwise not be prepared. In other words, American soldiers cannot torture or mistreat a prisoner to save the lives of other American or allied soldiers.

It bothers the Colonel more than just a little bit that there are Americans who would justify waterboarding and other means of torture--in effect sacrificing our principles--to protect ourselves. It bothers me even more that self-described patriots would take up the defense of these un-American acts. Want to know who the real patriots are? They are the men and women who have placed their lives on the line for the rest of us. Interestingly, you will not find many veterans defending torture. They understand.

Cheney doesn't.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Minuteman Manifesto

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, a gun-owning, anti-government extremist drafted a manifesto by which he and his rebellious, rabble-rousing compatriots (some of whom were disgruntled veterans of the French and Indian War) displayed disagreement with their government, refused to submit to its authority, and ushered in a civil war that brought death, destruction, misery...and freedom, to those on whose side the French finally interceded. That document is reprinted in its entirety, below. Warning: Treasonous language follows. Any correlation of grievances, then and now, is purely intentional. Reading this post may subject you to surveillance by agents of the Department of Homeland Insecurity.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
If you have read the Declaration above in its entirety, you have the Colonel's admiration and respect. We are in a minority.

Homeland Insecurity

Just read the Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism. The Colonel prefers to get the facts first hand whenever possible and my spidey sense was telling me that the reportage on the subject report was a bit hyperbolic. I have to admit that, taken out of context, some of the passages in the report make this Marine's fightin' blood flush.

Taken as a whole, the report do I say this so as not to hurt the feelings of the bureaucrat(s) who penned it?... embarrassing. If it was a high school term paper, the Colonel would give it a "D"--credit given for correct spelling and sentence structure keeping it from receiving a failing grade. If I had submitted such a factless compilation of conjecture as a threat assessment to any of the commanders on whose staffs I served during my career in the Corps, I would have been rewarded by the sight of seeing my work torn in two and dumped in the nearest circular file. What bothers me about the report is that it is an egregious waste of our money and absolutely of no use to the law enforcement officials to whom it was addressed. Even more distressing is the realization that this amateurish amalgamation of adverbs passing for an assessment is indicative of the effectiveness of the federal department responsible for the defense of our homeland.

I feel safe--how 'bout you?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Milling About Smartly

There are two things you can bank on with regards to the man curmudgeoned before his time: the Colonel don't paint and the Colonel don't dance. He would rather take a prolonged beating than wrap his hands around a paintbrush. And, as much as the Colonel likes holding the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda close, tripping to the light fantastic ain't in the genes. That said, the pitter-patter you may be hearing in the background is the Colonel breaking into a secretive anticipatory happy dance. The Colonel's latest man toy will be delivered this week.

In a previous post the Colonel opined that, given the vast and renewable timber resources extant aboard Eegeebeegee, the capital of the Tallahatchie Free State--a government in opposition formed as much hand on wallet as tongue in cheek, and given that the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility has a steadily increasing population of toolage designed to turn lumber into sawdust (with the occasional useful or ornamental by-product), the missing piece in the system is a machine for turning my timber into lumber.

In short, the Colonel needs -- okay, wants-- a saw mill. And, what the Colonel needs -- okay, wants -- (and for which the Colonel effectively and unashamedly begs the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda permission to stimulate the economy), the Colonel gets.

Enroute to the northern end of southern nowhere from a factory in Indiana, is a Wood-Mizer LT 15 personal saw mill, with which the Colonel will dramatically reduce the amount of cash spent regularly at local lumber yards to feed my sawdust production habit.

As is the Colonel's tradition with regard to large expensive man toys, he will assign an appropriate appellation to the newest addition, as soon as he can cobble together enough cognitive cells in the amorphous grey goo lying fallow in the recesses of his brain housing group to apply to the task of moniker making.

The Colonel invites the three of you, who regularly display a lack of anything better to do with your time than to submit yourselves to this drivel, to recommend an appropriate name for consideration by the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Naming Committee, chaired by the man curmudgeoned before his time, subject to final approval by the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda--chair of the Committee on Tallahatchie Free State Silliness Reduction.

The chosen entry will entitle the winner to an all-expense-paid day of operating the mill--an experience that the Colonel is certain occupies an elevated position on the bucket list of many of you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Beliefs

I had planned not to post on my blog this week. I have tried to focus on the significance of this week in my faith and felt that writing about anything else would distract me from that endeavor. But, there is so much for the man curmudgeoned before his time to comment on and I need to vent so that I can resume the quiet and sincere contemplation of the divine death sentence for my sinful nature and my salvation through the atoning blood of the Lamb.

I am, like every other, save one, who has or will ever walk this orb, a black-hearted sinner. My hope is in Jesus, without whose voluntary blood sacrifice I would be doomed to the eternal separation from my Creator that is the wage for my sin. My omniscient and holy God could require nothing less--to do so would diminish His holiness. This is my rock solid belief.

The Colonel also believes, unlike H, that America WAS founded as a Christian nation. I understand the philosophical point that our President was making when he told a mostly Muslim audience last week that "America is not a Christian nation...," but rather, "...a nation of citizens..." I also understand the tact he is taking with regard to making peace with mostly Muslim nations. But, while I understand his methods, I categorically disagree with them. Appeasement, complete with the unprecedented bowing and scraping demonstrated by our President a week ago, will only embolden our enemies. His bow before the Saudi king will, in fact, do more to recruit jihadists to the Islamic extremists' cause than anything the bungling Bush administration did or for which they were held responsible by their detractors.

The Colonel also believes that the scourge of piracy in the Indian Ocean can be relatively easily eradicated. The bungling Bush administration failed to take effective action. The H administration is displaying the same dithering approach to the menace. The solution is simple. Destroy the bases from which the pirates are launching. Instead, we are wrapped completely around the axle of our concern for the safety of a few (in this case, ONE) hostage. Were I President, I would order the immediate destruction of the lifeboat in which the pirates are holding the Maersk Alabama's skipper. Callous as it sounds, the action would send the immediate signal that messing with American flagged shipping is a death sentence. I believe Captain Phillips would give the order himself, if given the choice.

The Colonel also believes that market capitalism, regulated only to the extent that prevents fraud, is the most effective societal means of exchanging and acquiring goods and services. It is amazing to me that the very liberal progressives whose religion is Darwinism would prefer the anti-Darwinistic concept of market socialism. Survival of the fittest applies universally or not at all.

The Colonel also believes that Vice President Joe Biden is the most entertaining buffoon to occupy the office since Al Gore. What a kidder!

Finally, the Colonel believes that it's time to wake the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda and tell her that she loves me.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Launching an Extortion Fit

The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the perpetually petulant adolescent personality cult masquerading as a nation, got the world's attention again this weekend by acting up in class and launching a spit wad across the room.

Kim and his clan of sycophantic generals and governmental administrators know that the only way to maintain their hold on power is to maintain a state of fear. This they do through a combination of hyper xenophobia and hysterical introspection. A million-man army (armed with enough chemical weapons to make a thousand Saddams happy) is justified by maintaining tension with the United States and the Republic of Korea. The populace is controlled, at the edge of starvation, by a sadistically sinister and systematic program in which everyone participates in daily group meetings for the purpose of (and you could only make this up if you were George Orwell) criticising each other. In the Korean culture, sense of self esteem and one's place in society is paramount--these criticism clatches serve to unsettle each individual in the population to the point that he or she is literally too introspective to care about the crises continuum that has been their country for generations. Of course, maintaining your nation in a near absolute news vacuum helps to keep your message in the headlines as well.

The all-controlling command economy of North Korea makes the old Soviet Union's look like rampant capitalism by comparison. It is ten times more inefficient and unproductive as well. The North Korean countryside is barely arable and resource poor. So, Kim needs help from outside to maintain his stranglehold on the 23 million people inside the borders of the world's largest concentration camp. He doesn't want aid for his people. He needs money to buy food and luxury goods to keep his army fed and his bureaucrats bought off.

This weekend's missile launch, the anticipation of which captured headlines for weeks, and was in contravention of agreements Kim made in exchange for money from the international community, was an operational failure. Reportedly, the second and third stages malfunctioned and the missile failed to accomplish its mission of putting a satellite into orbit. But, we (the rest of the world) will beg Kim to stop his intercontinental ballistic missile program and he will--in exchange for more money.

Don't know how you deal with adolescents pitching extortionary fits in your household. I ignored mine. They've since grown to maturity and entered society as productive, non-threatening adults. Time to turn our backs on Kim. What's the worst that can happen? He could resume full-scale combat operations against the Republic of Korea in the war that has simmered under an armistice since 1953. He has nothing to gain except suicidal notoriety with that course of action. The ROKs would crush him eventually, probably without too much of our help.

Will be interesting to see what H does with this one.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Living the Dream

An anniversary of some import passed quietly earlier this week here at the northern end of southern nowhere and the Colonel didn't get in trouble with the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda for not remembering it.

Two trips around Sol ago, on March 31st of 2007 to be exact, the Colonel and Miss Brenda spent the first evening on the property that had existed in our life dreams since we were, ahem, teenagers in love. As sappy as it may seem to a world that no longer seems to believe in life-long love and commitment, I have been in love with my best friend since I was a pimply-faced, squeaky-voiced adolescent. Amazingly, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda has returned the favor, with interest, for the same almost four decades since our first date. Two or three of you reading this, may even remember, as participants in what can only be described as a "gang date," (our whole, mostly good, gang of church youth mostly paired off and attended a Saturday matinee of that tender love story: "Lawrence of Arabia") that inaugural episode of the implausibly long running "Ed and Brenda Show," and recall the great improbability that I would ever have a second date with the better-looking half of the Cannon twins.

But, against odds longer than that of my Rebels winning this year's National Championship, we endured. And, as we endeavored to endure in those early years, we dreamed. By the time we married, nearly five years after the first date, we had our lives together dream-planned out. We dream-planned our family--two boys and a girl. Mission accomplished. Check. We dream-planned my career as a Marine. Mission accomplished. Check. We dream-planned our retirement place in the country.

Living that dream. God is good.