The View From Olympus: Following the Classic Pattern

Great powers tend to follow a similar pattern of rise, a short time of dominance, overextension, and fall.  It is ever more clear that this country is following the classic pattern.  Our period of dominance ran roughly from 1945 to 1965; its end was marked by our defeat in Vietnam.  We are now in the latter stages of the phase of overextension.  Fall, I suspect, lies around the next corner.

The evidence is all around us.  The most dramatic is the Senate’s recent vote to oppose President Trump’s efforts to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan, withdrawals that would reduce our overextension.  The legislation was drafted by the Republican Majority Leader, Senator McConnell, and received overwhelming Republican support.  But the vote (technically a vote to cut off debate but indicative of the line-up on the substance) of 68 to 23 showed many Democrats also voted for continuing our overextension.  When the fall comes, neither party will have clean hands.

I would like to be able to say President Trump grasps the root problem, but as the pernicious neo-con influence on him grows, he too is stoking the fires of overextension.  His withdrawal from the treaty with Russia that limited intermediate-range missiles is one example.  His action is in direct opposition to his promise as a candidate to improve relations with Russia.  Instead, he has ended up driving Russia and China into alignment against us, giving this country an entirely avoidable rising threat to its diminishing power.

Another case of pushing our overextension further is the mad notion of intervening militarily in Venezuela.  Not surprisingly, two neocons, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Senator Marco Rubio, have concocted this witches’ brew.  The neocons cannot grasp the rule, demonstrated in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, that if you break it, you own it.  I’m sure Bolton is assuring yet another Republican president that if we intervene we will be met with cheers and flowers.  Don’t count on it.  The Latins would rather govern themselves badly than be “helped” to better government by American troops.

Why are we, and so many other countries before us, incapable of recognizing their overextensions and reducing their commitments?  Three factors seem to be in play.  The first is money.  The Washington Establishment makes heaps of money from a “defense” budget sized to rule the world.  Whether as campaign contributions, jobs and contracts after they leave office, or payments to family members working as lobbyists, senior Washington figures, civilian and military, are experts in “cashing in”.  Many arrive in Washington poor, but few leave poor.  Our trillion-dollar “national security” trough is the biggest in the world and the pigs have their snouts in it up to their ears.

Another cause is the psychological benefits of playing the “big man”.  Senators, generals, admirals, and high administration officials all like to swagger around the world, propping up their often fragile egos by representing “the only hyperpower”, “the indispensable nation”, and the like.  Modesty does not become them, or they would not have spent a lifetime crawling up the Establishment ladder in the first place.  They take any reduction in America’s world role as a personal hit to their own prestige.

Thirdly, the Washington and broader military elites insulate themselves from reality and from failure.  What subordinate dares tell a general that we have lost our recent wars?  Who among Senate staffers wants to be the bearer of bad news to his boss?  Our elites spend a great deal of effort making sure they do not come face-to-face with reality. In that, they are successful, if not in much else.

And so, regardless of what party is in power, our overextension will continue and even grow, until it all comes down in a heap.  I think that reckoning is coming soon.  In the meantime, if President Trump decides not to run again, a perfect replacement is waiting in the wings, someone to whom our situation would be entirely familiar.  Does anyone happen to know the email address of the Count-Duke of Olivares?

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

What the President Should Have Said

The failure of President Trump’s attempt to coerce the Democratic House of Representatives into funding the border wall was inevitable.  The Democrat’s strategy requires open borders.  That strategy, about which the Left has been quite open, is to swamp the votes of native-born Americans in a sea of immigrant votes.  The Democrats will not support measures that contradict their strategic requirements.

The president’s failure was turned into something of a rout by his attempt to couple the border wall to funding the government.  While the president’s base was not directly hurt by the shut-down, many of his supporters identified with the middle-class wage-earners who were not getting paid.  When those people began going off the job in order to get part-time work to pay the bills, the consequences, such as disruptions to air travel, forced the president to capitulate.  He was defeated, and his threat to shut down the government again in a few weeks would merely bring another defeat.

Here is where a curious characteristic of the Trump Administration again came to the fore.  All presidents suffer legislative defeats.  Previous president’s have had staffs that helped them minimize their failures by spinning them in creative ways.  As an old saying goes, politics is showbiz for ugly people.  Just as in Hollywood, the top people in Washington have had dozens of flacks, image-shapers, and spinmeisters who know how to put lipstick on a pig, wrap it in swaddling clothes and present it as Little Orphan Annie.

But President Trump does not.  He was left twisting slowly in the wind, by himself, able to call only on his own resources (which fortunately are considerable).  The result not only hurt him, it cost him an opportunity to hurt his enemies.

Let us imagine I had received a telegram from the White House, delivered by Western Union messenger riding a bicycle, requesting me to draft some remarks for the president for the occasion.  Here’s what I would have him say:

Once again, the Left-wingers who run the Democratic Party have refused to defend America and its citizens from invasion.  They demand that we leave our southern border open to anyone who wants to cross.  Millions of people have come here illegally across the border and the Democrats want millions more to do so.

The American people need to understand why the Democrats want open borders.  It is not because they want to be nice to little children.  The Democrats have a strategy for taking and keeping power in this country.  That strategy is to flood the country with immigrants whom they will register to vote, whether they are legal or illegal immigrants.  They expect those immigrants to vote Democratic so they can swamp the votes of native-born Americans in a sea of immigrant votes.  They plan to make every American a stranger in his own country.  They want to make foreigners the real rulers through a corrupted ballot box.

I know the Democrats in the House will not vote to fund the border defenses we need.  They are not going to vote to undermine their strategy for taking power.

Therefore, I will tomorrow meet with the Chairman and Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  I will give them a direct order to secure our southern border.  I will leave it up to them how best to do that.

I want to use our military to defend America and its citizens, not fight wars half-way across the world for reasons that are far from clear.  To those who may object to using the military, I ask you, what are our armed forces for if not to protect us from invasion?  Invasions by whole peoples are what brought down the Roman empire.  I will not allow such invasions to destroy us the same way.

I have not declared a national emergency because I do not need to do so and because I think it would set a bad precedent, a precedent other presidents could use in the future to harm this country rather than defend it.  As Commander-in-Chief I can give an order to the U.S. military without declaring an emergency, and that is what I will do.

The government shut-down made it clear the Democrats would rather deprive hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans of their paychecks than secure our southern border.  Now, we will pay those hard-working people and secure the border.  

I call that a win.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

His Majesty’s Birthday, or, Look Who’s Back

Having been to Hell and back last year with His Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm II, my reporting senior, I was by no means certain what might result this year from my annual call to congratulate him on his birthday, January 27.  The British had again been fooling around with our transatlantic cables, so I decided to go “hi-tech”, using Telefunken’s new wireless telegraphy to Potsdam via the big sender at Nauen.  I was surprised when, seemingly not getting through, my telephone rang.  On the other end was His Majesty.

“You got through all right, never fear.  The Russians were supposed to jam our signals to and from Nauen, but we sent them a trainload of vodka and they’re still sleeping it off.  London is leaving our phone lines alone now, after we dropped ten tons of Leberkäse on them in a zeppelin raid.  I’ve heard they are shipping most of it to Scotland where the locals take it for fois gras, or so Dr. Johnson told me.”

“Dr. Johnson can always be relied on when it comes to the Scotts, Your Majesty,” I replied.  “And happy birthday.”

“Thank you, and it is a happy one, for reasons you will soon understand.  It looks as if I will soon be going home.”

That puzzled me.  I went to Doorn, in the Netherlands, this summer, to see where Kaiser Wilhelm lived in exile and where he is entombed.  I know his will specified that he is not to be returned to Germany until that country is again a monarchy.  Could that day be near at hand?

“You’ll see it all plain enough from L-70.  Look for us from your front yard three days hence,” His Majesty said.  “Be ready for some high-altitude flying.”

L-70 was one of our “height-climber” Zeppelins that could rise up to 26,000 feet.  I had heard it was not a pleasant experience, since they were neither pressurized nor heated.  As it happened, I had heard right.

It’s hard missing a Zeppelin hovering low over a Cleveland street, and three days later His Majesty welcomed me on board.  We dropped a couple tons of water ballast, set the elevators for climbing and rose with remarkable rapidity.  No English aeroplane could win a climbing contest with a Zeppelin.

Long before 26,000 feet I was gasping and puking.  The bottled oxygen reduced the former but increased the latter.  His Majesty gave me a hearty slap on the back and told me to buck up.  We hit 26,000 and kept rising.

“Good God, how high is this thing going?” I asked dejectedly.

“High enough to see the future,” His Majesty replied.  At that, I passed out.

When I came to, all was well again.  We were cruising about 500 feet above the beautiful German countryside.  Every town seemed to be staging some sort of political rally or civic event.  Change was in the air.

“What’s going on?” I asked the Kaiser.  

“Some very interesting politics,” he replied.  “Let me fill you in.  The rise of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AFD) party gave Germans a truly German party.  But the broader growth of what has been termed “populism” in Germany and elsewhere didn’t stop there.  The AFD was a normal, respectable party.  But to its right soon arose something less respectable.  Calling itself the Nationale Deutsche Abiturlose Partei (NDAP), roughly the “National German Party for People Without Degrees,” this party hearkened back not to my Second Reich but to the Third.”

“The NDAP didn’t amount to much until it found a leader,” the Kaiser continued.  “He was an entertainer, a man of uncertain origins who called himself Adolf Hitler, looked like Hitler and seemingly never stepped out of his role.  Like the man he impersonated, he was a highly effective speaker and organizer and a man with a powerful, I would say unstoppable, will to power.”

“It’s a Look Who’s Back scenario!” I said excitedly.

“Yes, indeed, it was Er Ist Wieder Da.  And it had to be stopped.  As a Hohenzollern, the last thing I wanted was to see was Germany again led by an Austrian corporal, first as tragedy and then as farce.”

“So on the night before Christmas, I paid a visit to my descendent Georg Friedrich, the present head of the House of Hohenzollern and rightful King of Prussia and German Kaiser.”

“Did Mr. Dickens perhaps suggest this course?” I asked.

“I recalled it from when I had read Dickens,” His Majesty replied.  “But he was delighted.”

“Anyway, I told Georg Friedrich in no uncertain terms to get off his backside and stop this nonsense, as I would have stopped the Nazis if I had still been Kaiser.  You can thank Woodrow Wilson that I wasn’t.”

“The worst American President ever,” I added.  “He gave the world both Stalin and Hitler.”

“He did, but I wasn’t about to let it happen again.  I told Georg Friedrich to go talk to the AFD.  They needed to shore up their right flank and he was the man to do it.”

“Anyway, he took my advice as Mr. Scrooge took Marley’s and as a result the AFD made Georg Friedrich its leader and he won.  This time, the Left had the sense to back the legitimate ruler instead of leaving the door open for you know who.  In truth, Ebert never wanted me to go.”

“And now Germans have come to their senses and are today rallying and celebrating because the restoration of the monarchy is before the Reichstag and everyone except the NDAP is for it.  Which means I will finally be going home.  And Prussia is back on the map!”

“It seems I have much more to congratulate Your Majesty on this year than another birthday,” I offered.  “I hope this won’t mean we lose our connection.”

“Not at all, my friend, not at all,” the Kaiser assured me.  “I’ve already asked the Garde du Corps to admit you to its mess.”

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

Liberal Democracy is a Contradiction

The November 2 New York Times carried an article titled “What is Pulling Liberal Democracy Apart?”  The article itself was the usual drivel, but the title stuck with me.  The Establishment really does not understand why its definition of “liberal democracy” is failing. Yet the answer is obvious: “liberal” now contradicts “democracy”.

This was not always true.  When “liberal” retained its historic meaning as broad-minded, generous, and tolerant, desirous of a free market both in economics and in ideas, it was at least compatible with democracy, although there were tensions.  As a look at classical Athens quickly shows, democracy often went in distinctly illiberal directions.  Cleon was a product of democracy, just as much as Pericles, and it was not a monarch who ordered Socrates to drink the hemlock.  Nonetheless, in America and Britain, from the mid-19th century onward the old liberalism and democracy got along reasonably well.

Why is that no longer the case?  Why, in country after country, does the Left find democracy leading to governments (Trump, Orban, Putin) and measures (Brexit, keeping out migrants) liberals abhor?  Because the old liberalism is dead.  It died in the 1960s when the New Left took its arguments to the extreme, turned them against the old-line liberals and destroyed them morally by pointing out their contradictions.  I watched that happen at Dartmouth College in the late 1960s when I was a student there.  All the liberals who ran the college could do when the SDS threw their own arguments (always qualified, in the liberals’ minds, by common sense) back in their faces was to stammer and yield.

Herbert Marcuse provided the intellectual foundations of the New Left by feeding them the Frankfurt School’s cultural Marxism, carefully pureed into baby food.  Cultural Marxism became the ideology of the Boomer generation, and it remains today that generation’s definition of liberalism.  It is, in the old sense of the word, thoroughly illiberal: intolerant, ungenerous, narrow-minded, loathing free markets of all kinds, especially a free market in ideas.  Just look at any campus where cultural Marxism rules, which seems to be most of them.  Anyone who dares question feminism, “gay rights”, “equality” in any of its manifestations, is soon in serious trouble.  All must bow and scrape before the “general line of the Party”.

That “liberalism”, liberalism re-defined as cultural Marxism, is inherently contradictory to democracy.  Why?  Because normal people reject the swill.  Ordinary Whites don’t apologize for being White or regard themselves as “oppressors”.  Reasonable men and women recognize the sexes are not interchangeable.  While most people are willing to tolerate homosexuality, they reject a demand to approve of it, and they think discretion is the tribute vice of all sorts should pay to virtue.

The cultural Marxists have sought to deal with a widespread and growing democratic rejection of their ideology by subverting democracy.  They have done so by trying to keep any alternatives to themselves off the ballots.  For a long while, both here and in Europe, they succeeded.

But that trick has run its course.  People now see through “conservatism” such as that of too many Republicans here, the Conservative Party in Britain, the CDU in Germany and so on.  A “conservatism” that will not fight cultural Marxism, as those parties will not, is no conservatism at all.  So real conservative candidates and parties, candidates and parties that reject the whole Establishment and its ideology, are now getting on ballots and, where they do so, winning elections.  When ordinary people are not allowed a truly democratic choice, they vote against today’s liberalism and for their historic faith, culture, and race.  What a surprise!

And so the Left is now caught in a contradiction of its own making, a contradiction between its ideology of cultural Marxism, labelled “liberalism” or “progressivism”, and its promotion of democracy.  It can have one or the other, but not both.  At present, it cannot choose.  Eventually it will, and its choice will be to extinguish democracy and forbid people to vote for anything but more cultural Marxism.  If we get to that point it will mean war.

You can safely bet this was not the analysis the New York Times provided its readers on what is pulling liberal democracy apart.

The View From Olympus: Helping the Infantry

Although former Marine General James Mattis proved a disappointment as Secretary of Defense, he began one initiative that deserves to continue.  Called the Close Combat Lethality Task Force (CCLTF), this joint Army-Marine Corps program is aimed at improving the effectiveness and survivability of the men who do most of the dying in combat, the infantry. Such an effort is long overdue and deserves substantial funding, as Secretary Mattis intended.

However, as presently conceived the CCLTF has some problems. They begin with a misplaced focus on improving squad lethality.  Lethality and effectiveness are not the same thing. In maneuver warfare, including maneuver tactics at the small unit level, most of the enemy end up prisoners, not dead or wounded. Modern, i.e. Third Generation, tactics are not “close with and destroy”, much less “ bombard and attrit”. Rather, as demonstrated by the German infantry in 1918, they are tactics intended to “bypass and collapse”.  If you are constantly appearing in your enemy’s rear and encircling him, he tends to give up.

From this perspective, I found it dismaying that none of the papers I have seen about the CCLTF have discussed the first requirement for helping our infantry, namely modernizing our infantry tactics and training. Modern tactics means at the very least adopting the “infiltration tactics” of the German infantry of 1918. Ideally, we should go beyond those tactics and adopt their more developed form, Jaeger or true light infantry tactics (what the U.S. Army and Marine Corps call “light infantry” lacks the Jaeger tactical repertoire and is really line infantry). Training must be in the new tactics, not the obsolete Second Generation tactics we now employ where the infantry’s main task is to call in remote fires. 

That points to another problem in the CCLTF’s current approach: it places little emphasis on expanding opportunities for free-play training. While techniques and procedures can be taught in “canned” exercises, tactics can only be practiced in a free-play environment where the enemy can do whatever he wants to defeat you. At present, neither U.S. Army soldiers nor U.S. Marines get that much if any free-play training. Changing that should be one of the CCLTF’s highest priorities.

Rightly, the CCLTF is not emphasizing new equipment; better tactics and training are more important. But the CCLTF can and should sponsor an experiment with one piece of equipment most of our enemies have and our infantry does not, the RPG. I have asked combat-experienced Marine commanders at the tactical levels whether our infantry is at a disadvantage in Afghanistan because we lack the RPG, and most have said yes. If we look at Fourth Generation, non-state fighters around the world, we see many if not most carry an RPG.  It would not be difficult or expensive to design and run a test where we put an infantry squad or platoon through a series of problems, once with their current equipment and once with that equipment augmented with RPGs, one for each man (with reloads). If the RPGs make an important difference, they are inexpensive and widely available. We could equip our infantry with them in a very short time.

The CCLTF is also correct in emphasizing the need for changes in the personnel system so our infantry units can become and remain cohesive. Unit cohesion is the basis for why men fight: they fight for their buddies. But cohesion requires one thing the CCLTF dares not discuss (but I can): that infantry and other combat units be all-male. If women are present, the men will not cohere because they will view each other as rivals for the favors of the women. In combat, they will drop the mission to protect the women. This is human nature, and human nature is always more powerful than ideology, including feminist ideology. Combat is the ultimate “real world,” and in the real world all ideologies fail.

As important as Secretary Mattis’s CCLTF initiative is, the regrettable fact is that with his departure, the planned funding is likely to be cut or vanish entirely. If that happens, it may still be possible to help the infantry with a “bottom up” effort. Recently, some company-grade Marine officers and SNCOs has informed me about the Warfighting Society, a group within the Marine Corps modeled on Scharnhorst’s Militarische Gesellschaft. It would be both appropriate and useful if the Warfighting Society would do as Scharnhorst and his colleagues did and take on the problem of helping the infantry.  What the system cannot do without lots of money, thinking individuals can do.  Anyone wanting to participate can contact the Warfighting Society here

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: The Pentagon Declares Bankruptcy

According to the December 28 New York Times, the Pentagon has finally made its moral and intellectual bankruptcy official.  With regard to our failed war in Afghanistan, the Times reported that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., said that the Taliban “are not losing.”  The general is correct.  The Taliban are not losing because they have won.  All that remains is working out the details of their assumption of power and our departure.  To his credit, President Trump recognizes that reality.

But merely presiding over our defeat is apparently not enough for General Dunford.  In a truly breathtaking admission of strategic incompetence and intellectual bankruptcy, the general went on to say according to the Times,

“If someone has a better idea than we have right now, which is to support the Afghans and put pressure on the terrorist groups in the region, I’m certainly open to dialogue on that,” General Dunford said at a panel sponsored by The Washington Post earlier this month.

Wow. I doubt Moltke Jr. or even Keitel, whom the Fuehrer described as having the mind of a hotel doorman, sank that low.  Has General Dunford considered asking the chairwoman who cleans his office? Perhaps he could talk to his milkman or egg lady.  Certainly his driver should be consulted; after all he has some idea where he is going, which general Dunford, after sixteen years of war and several thousand American dead, admittedly does not.  In the long annals of military incompetence that’s still one for the history books. Clio should award General Dunford the Golden Trash Can, First Class, with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.

Let us imagine, for a moment, that we are a Prussian officer sent to advise General Dunford on how to turn a lost war around (That’s what happens when you fart at the dinner table on board the Hohenzollern).  Taking the General’s statement quoted above as a description of his strategy, we see that “supporting the Afghans” has no meaning because it is a war of Afghans against Afghans.  As to “putting pressure on the terrorist groups”, “terrorists” simply means “the other side” and “pressure” means tactical pinpricks with no strategic impact.  It is seldom possible to reverse strategic failure at the tactical level, and kleckern, nicht klotzen is a prescription for failure at all levels of war.

So to begin we need to shift our focus to a strategic level. I suspect even General Dunford knows that the Taliban’s strategic center of gravity is its support by Pakistan. Take that away, and the Taliban is walking on air. How might that be done?  Recognize that so long as the current Afghan government is aligned with India, Pakistan has no choice but to support the Taliban.  Pakistan’s threat is India, and Pakistan needs Afghanistan as an ally to offer it some strategic depth. Above all, it cannot have a hostile Afghanistan putting Pakistan in a two-front situation. So our first step is to give the current Afghan government a (secret, not public) ultimatum: cut all ties to India and become a loyal and subservient ally of Pakistan.  If they won’t, our troops and money go home. The money, more than the troops, will concentrate their thinking.

When the Taliban sees this move and realizes the strategic threat it represents, offer them a peace that secures our limited objective while rewarding them.  Our objective going into Afghanistan was to deprive Al Qaeda of a base.  We have no quarrel with the Taliban per se.  So, we offer to recognize a Taliban-led Afghanistan as long as they do not invite back groups that seek to attack the American homeland.  Al Qaeda have worn out its welcome in Afghanistan before 9/11 and it now has more useful bases in other countries.  Plus, the Taliban is already fighting ISIS within Afghanistan. As part of a peace deal, we could offer to support the Taliban in that fight, not with troops but with the all-important ammunition in 4GW, money.

I doubt General Dunford will be willing to heed Prussian advice.  But if he’s asking the whole world for input, he might recall that these services send their best and brightest young officers to serve the members of The Joint Chiefs of Staff.  As Chairman, he is well within his rights to say to those young officers, many who will have served in Afghanistan, what he said on the Post’s panel: if you’ve got better ideas than what we are now doing, please share them with me.  I suspect he would to get some useful feedback, perhaps along the lines I’ve outlined here.

Or he could just ask the chairwoman. Even she is likely to come up with something better than doing more of what has not worked in sixteen years.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: Another Personnel Blunder

On policy matters, President Trump usually does well when he follows his instincts.  But that does not appear to be the case on personnel decisions.  His worst, to date, was choosing John Bolton as his National Security Advisor.  We are already paying for that decision in worsening relations with a number of other countries.

If, on the one hand, you are going to raise the risk of hostilities, on the other hand you should be improving the quality of your military leaders.  But in another poor personnel decision, President Trump has chosen Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).  The combination of Bolton and Milley would be like choosing Ribbentrop to run your foreign policy and Graziani to command your army in the resulting wars.

By the low standards we set for our senior military leaders, Milley is not especially awful.  His main sin, which he shares with his colleagues atop the other services, is doing nothing about the fact that the Army is a Second Generation military in a Fourth Generation war.

Actually, in a way, General Milley did do something about that: he made it official.  Not long ago, he ordered the U.S. Army to return to its World War II-era uniforms, the so-called “pinks and greens”.  As costumes, the old/new uniforms will be a great improvement.  The fact that they are costumes recognizes the reality that a Second Generation army is useless for a real war and exists only to stage public entertainments.  All our Second Generation services are like armored knights on horseback in the 16th century.  Their heavy plate armor has reached its highest stage of perfection, but real battlefields are filling up with low-born musketeers and the knights “fight” only in tournaments, where damsels swoon, someone is occasionally unhorsed and nothing is decided.

I am hopeful that General Milley will do as Chairman of the JCS what he has done as Army Chief of Staff and make the theatrical nature of the other services official too.  The Air Force will go back to biplanes that stage dogfights over NFL football games.  Ironically, that might also make it more combat effective in the air, at least in what really counts, supporting the man on the ground.  World War I ground-support aircraft such as the Halberstadt and Hannoveraner CL IIs are better suited by far to the close air support mission than are F-35s.  And Fokker D VIIs are usually ready to fly and fight, which means they can easily defeat F-22s stuck in their hangers by their enormous maintenance requirements. 

The Navy tried to make its irrelevance official in the 1980s by bringing back the battleships, which look very impressive.  That effort, however, failed, because it did not go back far enough.  Chairman Milley, I hope, will direct the Navy to start building some new Constitution-class frigates, which will not only put on splendid shows on Navy Day but will require real sailors to man them, which might in turn compel the Navy to find some.  The new Zumwalt-class destroyers already look like zombie versions of C.S.S. Virginia; why not build some real Monitors and Confederate ironclads and stage naval battles in the Reflecting Pool, as the Romans used to do in the Coliseum (which could be flooded)?  And bringing back airships like Akron and Macon will wow the public while doing what the Ford-class carriers cannot, namely launch and recover airplanes (both of those airships carried Sparrowhawk scout aircraft).

The Marine Corps should not be touched.  Its continued focus on making amphibious landings on heavily defended beaches had already rendered it son et lumiere.

Regrettably, these wonderful follow-ons to the pinks and greens require vision, and general Milley has none.  We can, however, probably count on him to try to push the new Physical Fitness Test he decreed for the Army down the other services’ throats, so they too can witness a mass exodus of their staff NCOs.  Staff NCOs are the backbone of any military in combat, but what does combat have to do with “armed services” full of women?  Our military theater has reversed the roles in kabuki: it has women playing men.

There is an old saying on Capitol Hill that the Air Force is deceptive, the Navy is dishonest, and the Army is dumb.  As Burke noted, stereotypes arise from observation.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: Hurrah for the President!

Finally, President Trump is doing what he was elected to do, namely ending our involvement in wars halfway around the world in which we have no interests at stake.  President Trump was elected as a peace president.  He promised to bring the boys home.  His opponent, Hillary Clinton, was neo-lib/neo-con interventionist.  He won, she lost.

Mr. Trump won not because he is a liberal peacenik who appealed to the Left.  His constituency was and remains the Heartland Americans whose sons do the fighting and dying in these wars.  They do not understand why we are involved in the conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq and Syria, and neither do I.  They know why we went to Afghanistan after 9/11, but not why we are still fighting there seventeen years later.  Again, neither do I, although I understand that military incompetence at the senior levels has something to do with it.  The Washington Establishment has careers and budgets at stake, so of course it wants wars to continue.  That’s not much of an argument in the rest of the country.

The President’s decisions to get out of Syria and Afghanistan are not only wise but necessary.  In Syria, if we stay much longer, we will have to choose sides between the Kurds and the Turks.  Turkey is going to go after the Syrian Kurds militarily, whether we like it or not.  If we side with the Kurds we will find ourselves in the inconvenient situation of going to war with a member of NATO.  We will also lose, simply because of geography: the conflict would be on Turkey’s border with Syria, where our logistics lines can only support a small American force.  If we side with the Turks or try to remain neutral, we would lose our only local ally who can actually fight.  At that point our forces in Syria would be surrounded by lots of enemies with no one to help.  As President Trump would say, “Not good.”  So we need to get out, now. 

In Afghanistan, our position is deteriorating at an ever more rapid clip.  President Trump is trying to negotiate with the Taliban for the only possible outcome that is not a catastrophe, an orderly and safe exit of our forces.  The alternative is a sauve qui peut rout where our losses could be serious.  Just ask the Brits.

The Establishment is running in circles, screaming and shouting.  It’s fun to watch.  Their latest cause for panic is Secretary Jim Mattis’s resignation.  Frankly, there is little reason to regret his departure.

I know General Mattis only slightly.  We had one meeting when he commanded the “Marine Corps University” at Quantico.  (As Universities go, it has more in common with McDonald’s Hamburger U than with Harvard.) No actions resulted from that meeting.

Mattis is unquestionably well-read, and I had great hopes for him as SecDef.  But he proved to be no better than his less well-read predecessors.  He did nothing to reform either the services or the Pentagon itself.  He promoted the strategic idiocy of turning away from preparing for Fourth Generation wars, the wars of the future, and instead making Russia and China our enemies of choice.  Does he not know that both are nuclear powers?  Is he unaware of why both the U.S. and the Soviet Union avoided direct engagements with each other’s forces throughout the Cold War, namely that whichever side were losing would feel immense pressure to go nuclear?  The Pentagon likes such a “strategy” because “peer competitors” justify vast budgets and programs, but the Secretary of Defense is supposed to represent the real world.  Mattis failed to do so.

Secretary Mattis began one initiative that deserves to continue after his departure.  Called the “Close Combat Lethality Task Force” (CCLTF), its purpose is to provide more resources and better training for the men who do most of the dying, the infantry.  They get a pittance of the resources devoted to, for example, tac air.  The CCLTF aims to change that, and it would be a pity if it died because its sponsor was gone.  The current concept for the CCLTF has some weakness, which I will address in a future column.  But the need for it is real.

So hurrah for the president!  He is ending stupid wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, trying to mend fences with North Korea and wants a good relationship with Russia.  All those initiatives are very much in America’s interest.  Could that be why the Washington Establishment hates him so bitterly?

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The Reality Principle

No one was more important than Herbert Marcuse to the effort to inject Frankfurt School’s cultural Marxism into the Boomer generation.  His book Eros and Civilization, which became the Left’s bible in the 1960s, argued for replacing the “reality principle” with the “pleasure principle”.  The result, Marcuse promised, would be a world of all play and no work.

The actual result has been a culture of instant gratification and with it the growing social pathologies now engulfing us.  If we want to reverse America’s decline, we must again enthrone the reality principle.  The reality principle says that to succeed, our actions must be based on reality, on conditions as they are and not as we might like them to be.  This is especially urgent in five areas, where the relativities are:

  • State capitalism is failing.  State capitalism is capitalism where cozy relationships between business and government change the basis for a company’s success from building a better product at a lower price to getting special deals from government.  Also known as “rent seeking”, state capitalism leads to ever-larger and more powerful corporate entities because the bigger a company is, the more money it has to give to politicians, and the more money it gives to politicians the less appetite the government has to rein in bad corporate behavior.  State capitalism leads to a society with a tiny, super-wealthy elite and an even-poorer middle class.  This is what the “yellow vests” in France are protesting, in what I think is only the beginning of a powerful political movement.  There is an alternative to state capitalism: not socialism, which impoverishes everyone, but a regulated market that has strict limits on scale.  Most finance, production, and consumption should be local.
  • America’s grasp for world hegemony has already failed.  After the end of the Cold War, instead of bringing our troops home and minding our own business, the foreign policy elite and the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex (the MIC) attempted to make America the only superpower, “the universal monarchy” as it used to be known when Hapsburg Spain tried the same thing.  The result for both countries was mountains of debt, military failure, and economic decline.  (The best book on Spain’s experience is J.H. Elliott’s The Count-Duke of Olivares; the parallels are striking).  We have ended up force-feeding the flames of Fourth Generation war, war our military does not know how to fight, putting the whole state system at risk, and spurring massive invasions of Europe and North America by barbarians from the global south.  There is a plausible alternative:  America First, which means bringing our legions home and using them to man the limes, as President Trump is trying to do while the MIC works to block him.
  • The civil rights movement has proven to be a false road for America’s blacks.  While it has allowed some blacks to integrate into the middle class, it has left a large residue in urban ghettos where they have essentially been written off.  Overrun by crime, drugs, illegitimacy, and welfare dependence, America’s urban black neighborhoods, too many of them, are factories of disorder, something no state can tolerate indefinitely without risking its own legitimacy.  In the hands of America’s current black “leaders”, civil rights has come to mean little more than endless demands for more handouts.  The promising alternative is the philosophy of Booker T. Washington, who argued that instead of saying “We’re victims, do something for us,” blacks should show by their own efforts that they can perform at the same level as whites.  I’m willing to bet they can.  If not, well, then they are not equal, and future policy will have to be based on that reality.
  • Feminism has been a disaster for most women.  While it has benefitted a small elite in business and politics, feminism, with its demand for no-fault divorce, destroyed what most women depend on for lifetime security, marriage.  Men do better on their own than women, and the Boomer generation’s women find themselves, too often, alone, poor, and without a future as they get older.  Feminism’s pretense that men and women are interchangeable has led to growing dysfunction in more and more areas, as women are soldiers, cops, firemen, etc.  Can’t do the job but also can’t be let go.  The #MeToo movement is leaving young men afraid to approach women, which is building enormous anger in men cut off from sex.  When women get angry, they squawk.  When men get angry, they kill.  For both sexes, the alternative we know works is the Victorian doctrine of “separate spheres”, where women’s sphere, which Victorians considered the higher one, is home and family while the man brings home the bacon and both can look forward to a comfortable old age in each other’s arms.
  • Cultural Marxism has proven greater failure than the old economic Marxism of the Soviet Union.  Both lead to the loss of freedom of thought and expression, but economic Marxism’s shared poverty was more bearable than the isolation and anomie cultural Marxism creates as every natural relationship is perverted and every difference is rubbed raw.  Cultural Marxism makes life in society impossible, which is just what its founders, Lukacs, Gramsci, Adorno, and Marcuse, wanted it to do.  Their goal was “negation” or “negative dialectics”, more commonly known as nihilism: simply bringing everything down.  Unless we want to live amid the ruins of our civilization, we need to turn to an alternative: retroculture.  Retroculture dismisses all ideologies and says, “We’re going to return to the old ways of doing things in our own lives and the lives of our families.”  As Gertrude Himmelfarb, the preeminent historian of the Victorians, has written, through the Victorian period the incidence of social problems steadily went down, while since the 1960s the incidence of social problems in our society has steadily risen.  There’s a lesson in that.

There are other areas where we need to restore the reality principle; indeed, we need it everywhere if we expect our actions to yield the results we intend.  Acting on any basis other than reality leads to randomness of results, disorder, entropy, and collapse.  It is John Boyd’s “false orientation”.  We’ve been doing it on a massive scale since the 1960s.  In each case, there are reality-based alternatives that could work.  Maybe it’s time for middle class Americans to start putting on those French yellow vests.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The Marxism That Must Not Be Named

Much to my delight, the New York Times recently published an op-ed, “The Alt-Right’s Favorite Meme is 100 Years Old”, written by Yale professor Samuel Moyn, that attacks me and Thomas Hobbes’ novel Victoria (for which I am proud to be agent).  The professor dislikes the book and me because both oppose cultural Marxism, the now-dominant ideology among Western elites that condemns Whites, males, Western culture and the Christian religion as “oppressive”.  But the professor does more than defend cultural Marxism; he writes, “Nothing of the kind actually exists.”

Well, yes, it does.  Cultural Marxism is, as the Times headline indicates, now 100 years old.  Its initial conception goes back to 1919, the year when Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary, working independently, concluded that Communism could not be brought about in the West until the Christian religion and Western culture were destroyed.  Gramsci argued that Christianity blinded the working class to its “true” Marxist class interests, while Lukacs, when he was Deputy Commissar for Culture in the short-lived Bolshevik Bela Kun government in Hungary, wailed “Who will save us from Western Civilization?”  Lukacs began a program of what he called “cultural terrorism” that included introducing sex education into the Hungarian schools, because he knew that if you could destroy a country’s sexual morals you would take a giant step toward destroying its traditional culture.  

The detailed development of cultural Marxism, which most people now know as “political correctness”, began in 1930 when the Frankfurt School undertook the task.  The Frankfurt School, official known as the Institute for Social Research, was originally to be named the Institute for Marxism.  But its founders, who include Lukacs, decided they could be more effective if they gave it a neutral-sounding name.  That began cultural Marxism’s ongoing practice of concealing its real nature and objectives.  Is that conspiratorial?  What else does the word mean?

Professor Moyn simply denies historical reality.  He writes:

A number of conspiracy theorists tracing the origins of “cultural Marxism” assign outsize significance to the Frankfurt School, an interwar German–and mostly Jewish–intellectual collective of left-wing social theorists and philosophers.  Many members of the Frankfurt School fled Nazism and came to the United States, which is where they supposedly uploaded the virus of cultural Marxism to America.  These zany stories of the Frankfurt School’s role in fomenting political correctness would be entertaining, except that they echo the baseless allegations of tiny cabals ruling the world that fed the right’s paranoid imagination in prior eras.

My answer to the professor (of history no less) is “Read some history.”  The literature on the Frankfurt School is immense and most of it is written by scholars on the Left.  The definitive work is Rolf Wiggershaus’s The Frankfurt School.  Martin Jay is the principal American scholar of the Frankfurt School, and his book The Dialectical Imagination is also quite good, although it ends in 1950 and thus misses most of Herbert Marcuse’s influence.  Lorenz Jager’s recent biography of Theodor Adorno, simply titled Adorno, is excellent.  No open-minded person can read these books and not find in the Frankfurt School’s work the origins of what we now know as political correctness.

If Professor Moyn is too busy to read books–trying to nullify facts by calling them names must take a good deal of thought–I recommend the video documentary “The History of Political Correctness”, which only takes about twenty minutes.  It includes an interview with Martin Jay, then the Chairman of the History Department at Berkeley and no conservative, where Jay says that the Frankfurt School’s product is a version of Marxism and is also a basis of political correctness.  

And if all the volumes of scholarship are not enough, the parallels between Marxism-Leninism and cultural Marxism are obvious:

  • Both eliminate freedom of thought and expression and attempt to impose totalitarianism on their suffering subjects, as we see on too many American university campuses.  Stalin’s and Mao’s tyranny was more oppressive than Hitler’s or Mussolini’s and killed far more people, probably at least ten times as many.
  • Both see history as a product of only one factor, in Marxism-Leninism ownership of the means of production and in cultural Marxism which groups, defined by race and gender, have power over which other groups.
  • Both define some groups of people as good and others as evil regardless of what individuals do.  Marxism-Leninism defines workers and peasants as good and capitalists and members of the middle class (the hated bourgeoisie) as evil, while cultural Marxism says whites, males, heterosexuals, and non-feminist women are evil while blacks, third world immigrants, gays, and feminists are good.
  • Professor Moyn even quotes Victoria’s Governor Kraft as pointing to another parallel:  “Classical Marxists, where they obtain power, expropriated the bourgeoisie and gave their property to the state.  Where you (cultural Marxists) obtained power, you expropriated the rights of White men and gave special privileges to feminists, blacks, gays, and the like.”  Does Professor Moyn deny this has happened in universities all over the country, including probably at Yale where he teaches?

The easiest way to tell you are dealing with cultural Marxist is if he denies the existence of cultural Marxism.  Cultural Marxists seek to work in the dark because they know daylight is fatal to their cause.  If the average person figures out political correctness is a form of Marxism, he rejects it.  That is happening more and more widely, leaving the cultural Marxists with nothing to say but “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”  Their frantic name-calling and denials of historical fact sound more and more desperate because they are losing and are about to be swept from the board.

Meanwhile, read Thomas Hobbes’ Victoria.  That Professor Moyn doesn’t like it means you will.