The View From Olympus: A Glimpse of Future War Among Great Powers

Several weeks ago, the world got a glimpse of what future war will look like among Great Powers.  The weapons were rocks and clubs.

Indian and Chinese troops battled each other over worthless ground along their undefined border high in the Himalayas.  It was a classic case of two bald men fighting over a comb.  But at least 20 Indian soldiers died, along with an unknown number of Chinese.

What is interesting about this skirmish is the weapons employed.  Both India and China have sizable arsenals of modern weapons.  They employed none of them.  Instead, they fought with rocks and clubs.

I find the deafening silence over this choice of weapons, including from the U.S. military, to be interesting.  It certainly should draw the attention of anyone who studies where war may be going.  Why did such a bizarre scenario unfold?  Because both countries have nuclear weapons.

It is probably true that neither India nor China wants a war at this point.  But what limited both countries’ soldiers to the weapons of cavemen was something with general import: so terrifying is the prospect of nuclear war to anyone threatened with it that governments are willing, even eager, to go to seemingly ridiculous lengths to prevent it.

Prevention begins with avoiding the escalatory ladder.  And that is what led to a fight with rocks and clubs.  Both countries rightly feared that if they went to the weapons of, let’s say Sung dynasty China or Moghul India, they would set foot on that ladder.  So rocks and clubs it had to be.  Even a battle with those so alarmed Beijing and New Delhi that they quickly sought to settle the dispute diplomatically.  Many weapons have claimed the title of “the Peacemaker”, but nuclear weapons actually deserve it.

This offers us a look at what war between other nuclear powers, let’s say the U.S. and China, might be like.  The driving consideration for both countries’ leadership would be avoiding escalation.  Since any confrontation would probably be a sea and air war, it might look something like the Cod Wars between Britain and Iceland.  Ships might ram each other (not too hard).  Water cannon might be employed.  Chinese sailors might throw bao at American crews, who would volley back hamburgers in return (the Americans would end up with the better lunch).  Fighter aircraft might engage, at least to the point of seeing who was better at staying on the other guy’s six.  Would they shoot?  If they did, both capitals would be frantic, trying to de-escalate.

Since both countries now have obesity problems among their youth, my proposal for an escalation-safe war would be vast eating and drinking matches between their respective ships’ and aircrafts’ crews.  Just imagine what the Navy PFT might look like!  It would do wonders for qualifying recruits.  Join the Navy and become the world!

The really funny thing here is that both the U.S. and China are spending vast sums buying weapons and generating forces for a conventional war.  That is not going to happen, barring outright insanity in both capitals at the same time.  Unless the inmates are running the asylum, both countries will seek to de-escalate rapidly from any accidental clash that might occur (things can happen; remember the War of Jenkins’ Ear).  Rules of engagement would quickly be established that would take both sides back to rocks and clubs, as India and China had already done.

The fact is, the whole China Scare is a sham, at least as far as a shooting war is concerned (our economic conflict is real, as President Trump understands).  It’s one more con job on the American people, intended to keep the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex rolling in dough.  When the massive defense budget cuts hit, which they soon will, remember my suggestion; let both countries’ navies roll in real dough.  That we may still be able to afford.

Racial Justice

It is occasionally useful to know what words mean.  A demand for “racial justice” is the cultural Marxists’ latest cry (often uttered as they wreck, loot, and burn small businesses).  If we parse the phrase and consider it carefully, what is its actual meaning?

I think we determine that best by starting with the noun, “justice”.  My American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1969 edition, offers seven definitions, of which the fourth seems the most applicable here;  “Fair handling; due reward or treatment.”  In that definition, the word “due” is critical.  “Due” reward or treatment means that a person’s actions determine their reward.  Good actions get something good as a reward, but bad acts receive something bad, including bad treatment.  That is what justice means.

Coupling justice with the word “racial” in “racial justice” clearly means races are to be rewarded well or badly, and treated well or badly, depending on what is “due” their race based on their actions.  Here the slogan immediately breaks with our long legal tradition and also with Christian morality.  Both have traditionally held that justice can only be individual, not collective, because free will–the choice to act well or badly–is individual.  Because cultural Marxism sees everything driven by which groups, defined by race, sex, and sexual normality or abnormality, have power over other groups, it rejects individual justice for “racial justice”.  Where does this lead us?

It leads to big trouble for blacks.  If we are compelled to award justice collectively by race, the “due” reward or treatment of blacks must reflect collective actions by blacks as a race.  Unfortunately, when we look at the numbers, what is “due” blacks is punishment and bad treatment.  Their rate of violent crime is twelve times whites’ rate.  Their illegitimacy rate is about 80%.  They have the highest rate of welfare dependency of any major ethnic group.  Their rates of “lifestyle”, diseases such as obesity and diabetes, are higher than other races–and they depend on public funds to take care of them more often than other races.  By almost every measure, “racial justice” puts blacks in the worst position among racial groups in this country.

At the same time cultural Marxists demand “racial justice”, they also denounce “white privilege”.  Yet the two slogans are contradictory.  Racial justice for whites means we should be privileged in America.  Why?  We built it.  It was whites who turned a vast wilderness inhabited by a few million savages into what was, as recently as the 1950s, the best country on earth.  If we really want to base national policies on “racial justice”, “due reward or treatment” puts whites on top and blacks on the bottom.

The problem, as I hope is evident by this point, is two-fold.  First, trying to substitute groups, however defined, for individuals where justice is concerned is wrong.  It leads to widespread injustice, as individuals who have earned good rewards by their actions are instead handed bad treatment.  Group justice is inherently unjust.  “Racial justice” is an impossibility, a contradiction of terms.

The second problem is that, as is so often the case with ideologies, cultural Marxists’ call for “racial justice” is really something else.  What they are actually demanding is racial license, permission for blacks to do whatever they want, and suffer no penalties.  This is, if anything, even worse for blacks than real (collective) racial justice would be, because it would promptly drive all the other races in the country together in resentment and anger against blacks.  Blacks are only 13% of our population.  When 13% gets the other 87% angry at it, it is in serious danger.

The cultural Marxists don’t really care about America’s blacks.  They see them as a tool they can use to further their destruction of our society.  If the tool gets destroyed in the process, the cultural Marxists will care not at all.  Their goals are wholly defined as “negation”: bringing everything down.  The question is, do blacks really want to let themselves be used as someone else’s tool, with disastrous consequences for all of us?

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

The Suicide of the Left

The cultural Marxists think they are riding high.  Thousands of kids are demonstrating for “Black Lives Matter”.  The Left’s long-running war on police is surging as panicked politicians throw the cops under the bus.  Not only Confederate war memorials but those to Union forces as well, along with the World War ll memorial in the Washington mall, are desecrated.  A commune is declared in a six-block area in Seattle.  Anyone in the Establishment who offends in the slightest, most trivial way against Political Correctness is off to the guillotine.  The Terror is again in full swing and the Jacobins are elated.

What is really happening here is not the triumph of the Left, but its suicide.

As I wrote in my last column, the young demonstrators are out there just to be out there, after two months of confinement, “social distancing”, masks, etc. have left them bored out of their skulls.  Their commitment to “Black Lives Matter” (except to other blacks, who kill each other like flies) is a mile wide and an inch deep.  The “cause” could as easily be vegetable rights, Save the Cockroaches, or banning discrimination against bovine flatulence.  Anything that justifies their getting together in large numbers and making trouble works for them.

As the Left gives ordinary Americans a choice between the cops and the vandals, looters, and arsonists who have destroyed small businesses in too many of our cities, the people are lining up with the police.  Here in Cleveland the anger over the destruction on Euclid Avenue in the heart of our downtown is deep and lasting.  People had put their lives into building those businesses and restaurants and now they have to start over.

If you want to make people fight, there are few better ways than attacking their ancestors and war memorials.  The Left will find Confederate flags flying more places, not fewer.  I hope southern towns and rural areas will start erecting new Confederate memorials as the Left vandalizes old ones.  There are plenty of Confederate reenactors who would be delighted to defend statues honoring their ancestors, perhaps with some brass 12-pounder Napoleons loaded with grape.

The Left’s illusion of victory is leading it to over-reach to the point where its madness is obvious.  Defund the police?  That’s insane.  The police are the thin blue line we all rely on when something goes seriously wrong.  With the police banned from the Seattle commune, it’s turning rapidly into Lord of the Flies.

What we are witnessing here is the Brinton Thesis in action within the Left.  The Brinton Thesis, created by historian Crane Brinton based on his study of the French Revolution, says that revolutions move in a series of coups leading ever-farther to the extreme until the coup of Thermidor brings it all back to the center.  He was looking at countries as a whole, but in this case his thesis can be applied internally to the Left.  (Now you know why in my photo, I’m dining on Lobster Thermidor.)

In America as a whole, I think the reaction will go far beyond a return to the center.  In response to the cultural Marxists’ threat to the majority’s culture and its freedom of thought and expression, we are likely to see a massive shift to the Right.  When reality returns, it will come in a tsunami.

I fear the blacks may bear the brunt of the reaction.  The cultural Marxists are using the blacks as weapons against whites, much the way Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War used local blacks against whites.  That poisoned race relations in the South for a century.  I don’t want to see the same thing happen nationwide now.  Most blacks just want to live normal, middle-class lives.

The irony is that cultural Marxists, who pretend to be black’s “advocates”, did the black urban community in this country more damage than Simon Legree and Senator Bilbo put together.  It was cultural Marxism that, from the 1960s onward, preached a culture of instant sensual gratification in books such as Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization.  In college, white kids “did their own thing”, then got MBAs and law degrees and went to work on Wall Street.  In the ghetto, blacks just kept on doing it, creating the widespread moral and cultural collapse we now witness in our black inner cities. 

The real enemy of whites and blacks alike is cultural Marxism.  I hope the day comes when we unite to fight it.

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


Enough time has passed since COVID-19 paid its first call on this country to see that we overreacted.  My state of Ohio has suffered just over 2000 people dead from the virus.  The Ohio Department of Public Health recently announced that 70% of those deaths were suffered by people who were patients in nursing homes.  We are not supposed to say this, but we all know that most people in nursing homes are just being warehoused until they die. That means Ohio really lost about .05% of our population to the bug.  It’s not exactly the Black Death.

No one knows whether the economy of Ohio or the nation will recover quickly or not.  The markets are betting on a quick recovery.  The establishment media are doing their best to panic everyone so they stay home, don’t buy, and by election day we find ourselves in a second Great Depression.  To the establishment, that’s worth it to get President Trump out of the White House and an establishment politician back in.  Remember, the establishment does not care about the rest of the country.  It only cares about remaining the Establishment, which means it must control all senior positions in government.

It is safe to say, at least here in Ohio, that the economic damage we have already suffered was disproportionate to the health threat.  So why did it happen, beyond the Establishment’s desire to wreck everything while Mr. Trump is in office?

A major reason has been and continues to be sub-optimization by healthcare professionals, especially those in charge of public health. What is sub-optimization?  It is something virtually all professionals in every field do in their area of expertise. It is not nefarious in origin; it is simply how human nature works. Simply put, sub-optimization occurs when a professional optimizes everything for his speciality.

When lawyers write laws, they sub-optimize by making the law impossible to understand unless you are a lawyer.  When preachers and priests sub-optimize, they urge you to sell all that you have and give it to the poor.  When the designers of fighter planes sub-optimize, they sacrifice all other qualities of the aircraft to combat maneuverability (well, unless they are recent American designers, whose planes maneuver like bricks).  And when health professionals sub-optimize, they tell us to shut down the whole economy to prevent the spread of disease.

They have not thereby done anything wrong.  From their perspective, that is what their expertise required.  They would see themselves as derelict in their duty had they urged anything less.

The fault lies with our political leaders, at every level.  It is their job, not the job of doctors, or lawyers, or preachers, or fighter plane designers, to reconcile all the many sub-optimizations the professionals offer into a balanced package. 

The political leader is supposed to be a generalist, not a specialist.  He is charged with reconciling a wide variety of competing visions, interests, and recommendations, from all the specialists in all their many specialties, into policy that best serves the broad interests of society as a whole.  That is not what has happened with COVID-19.

In the beginning, shutting down most places where people congregate made sense.  We did not know how deadly (or not) COVID-19 would turn out to be.  But now we do know.  Ohio’s Republican Governor is moving smartly to open everything back up.  By the end of May, 95% of all businesses will be open in Ohio.  But two important questions remain.

The first is, did not those in charge, i.e., top political leaders, including governors, know before the rest of us that COVID-19, while highly contagious, is not very deadly except to old people who are already at death’s door?  If they did not know sooner, why didn’t they?  And if they did know, why did they allow the sub-optimization focused on public health to continue longer than it needed to, at vast economic cost?

The second question is, now that we do know COVID-19 is not very dangerous, why are our political leaders not taking to task the mainstream media that continue to promote panic?  Those media are crying “Fire!” in a crowded theater, in terms of the danger to our economy.  Yet not even President Trump is calling them on it.

We need political leaders at every level to urge people to resume normal economic life, such as shopping in person in retail stores and going out to eat.  Where is the leadership for that?  Hiding, it seems, as the public health officials still want us all to do, under the bed for fear of the virus while the house that is our economy burns down around us.

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

Kids, Cops, and Race

The death of George Floyd while he was in custody of Minneapolis police was the trigger for the recent riots, but it was not the cause.  What we have seen in the past two weeks is only the first of what are likely to be many large-scale social and political events resulting from the coronavirus.

So what was the cause of the riots?  Boredom and intolerable social isolation for two months by millions of kids.  The riots were an example of what I call “supply-side war”.  What do young people with no school to attend, no jobs, no money, and no prospects do?  They fight.  Much of the conflict we witness in the Middle East is supply-side war.  Now, it has paid us a visit.

George Floyd’s death provided the perfect excuse for our own bored kids to get outside, gather with other kids–the hell with masks and “social distancing”–and have fun.  Kids consider creating trouble a form of fun.  Floyd’s death gave them moral cover.  They weren’t having fun, they were “protesting”. Yeah, sure.  The riots had more in common with the vast snowball fights that developed when everyone was cramming for finals at Dartmouth when I was a student there than with civil rights marches in the early 1960s.  The path it opened for some (mostly black) kids to loot and burn was just icing on the cake, as was the opening the “protests” created for (mostly white) kids on the alt-left–anarchists, Antifa, Marxists, etc.–to damage government facilities and “capitalist” enterprises like Colossal Cupcakes here in Cleveland.  Those cupcakes (very good ones) were obviously products of white supremacy.

The people on the receiving end of the “rage” were the cops.  The tactics used by the Minneapolis police in detaining Floyd were terrible.  It is right that the four cops involved got fired and one (so far) has been charged with murder.  Good police tactics seek de-escalation.  As soon as someone is on the ground and in cuffs, police should turn to helping and protecting him.

But here, the “fake news” mainstream media have shown again how they offer fake news.  Not one major publication or broadcast has dared tell the truth that cops face every day: the black rate of violent crime is twelve times the white rate.  Not double.  Not triple.  Not quadruple.  Triple times quadruple.  Who has to deal with this?  The cops.  (My sources for the twelve times figure are Jared Taylor’s The Color of Crime and Ron Unz’s study published several years ago in The American Conservative magazine; both were based on federal government data.)

Cops react to young black males the way they do because they have to.  Almost all violent black crime is committed by young males.  Cops cannot treat them equally with whites because they do not behave equally to whites.  Cops have to be realists.  Both their ability to do their job and their lives are at stake.  The fake news media and the rest of the establishment can live in a fictional world where whites and blacks behave the same (as blacks used to, as recently as the 1950s).  Cops cannot.

So what is to be done?  Three actions are called for, in my view.  First, as President Trump has suggested, the cops and National Guardsmen backing them must act faster and more aggressively to stop rioters, looters, and arsonists.  The state arose to establish and maintain order, and if it cannot, the state has failed and it loses its legitimacy.  Far too much property damage was allowed.  Traditionally, looters and arsonists got shot.  That is as it should be now as well.

Second, we need vastly improved police training.  In most police academies, 90% of the time is devoted to firearms training.  Instead, 90% of the time should be devoted to learning how to de-escalate situations.  Good cops are streetcorner politicians, not gunmen.  The Police Corps program worked out how to train cops for neighborhood policing.  Their work should be revived and made SOP.

Finally, the black community needs to confront its own failure to bring down violent crimes by blacks–most of which is committed against other blacks.  The hypocrisy of “Black Lives Matter” reeks to the heavens.  They never talk about black-on-black deadly violence.  The number of unarmed blacks killed by police is trivial compared to the number killed by other blacks with guns. 

The last of these is the most challenging, but until blacks remove the beam from their own eyes, they should not expect the rest of us to deal with the mote in our own.

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

The Gathering Storm

As I write this in late April, the most probable course of the coronavirus (a.k.a. Flu Manchu) is that it is at or past its peak medically and case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths will decline steadily hereafter.  Economically, the country will have one bad quarter and come back quickly.

But there is another possibility.  The country will not recover economically, or at least will take a long time to do so.  While the medical threat from the virus will diminish, the public’s fear will not.  Restaurants, bars, stores, hotels, etc. will reopen, but people won’t come in adequate numbers so that anyone can make a profit.  Instead of businesses rebounding, business failures will become more numerous.  That in turn will create growing unemployment.  At the same time that demands on state services increase, state revenues will plunge further.  All over the country, individuals, businesses, cities, and states will be screaming for more federal help as other sources of money dry up.

The federal government will oblige, adding many trillions more to the four-plus trillion dollars the Treasury and the Fed have already committed.  But that will make other lenders increasingly uncomfortable, so private lending will dry up.  As the sea of freshly printed money deepens, more and more people around the world will begin to question the safety of the dollar.  Inflationary pressures will rise.

As the economy worsens, we will have accumulated evidence that we over-reacted to the threat the coronavirus posed.  Because 50% to 80% of people who caught it had few or no symptoms, we greatly overestimated the death rate.  Outside a few dense urban areas, the country as a whole was in a position to manage the epidemic without extraordinary measures.  We will know countries that remained open, including Sweden, did not suffer an apocalypse.  We did not need to shut everything down.

The combination of an economic depression and wide public awareness that it did not have to happen will be socially and politically explosive.  The public will be enraged at the medical professionals who, sub-optimizing as all professionals do, thought only about people’s health and not their need to earn a living when they issued their dire predictions.  It will be even angrier at the mainstream social media that did its utmost to generate panic–successfully.  No current politician or political party will be credible.  Politics will move beyond parties and elections in new, uncharted directions.  In a country where Left and Right were already so far apart that it was difficult to accommodate both in one political system, the split will widen further, as it did worldwide during the last great depression.

This storm is already gathering.  We see it in the demonstrations in more and more state capitals where people who have lost their incomes and have so far received no government aid are demanding businesses be allowed to reopen.  We see it in poor urban areas where rent strikes are brewing.  We see open rebellion against rules that make sense in cities being applied in rural areas.

As I have written many times, no conservative can want disorder.  I hope this scenario does not unfold.  I still think it likely the economy will rebound, so long as most states move quickly in May to reopen all businesses and do so without rules that prevent those businesses from being profitable.  At that point, just as we all had a duty to stay home in March and April, I hope we will all do our duty by resuming our normal lives: eating in restaurants, shopping in person rather than on-line, and going to church.

But if we do find that, in the end, we were swindled into a great depression, all bets are off.  As I wrote in my last column, I think what emerges will be a politics that is culturally Right but economically Left.  How we get to that new politics may be messy.

A Six Hundred Dollar Mistake

The measures taken thus far by President Trump, Congress, and the Fed to provide financial relief to companies and individuals during the coronavirus panic seem to have been the right ones–with one possible mistake.  What is that?  Giving people who have been laid off $600 per week in addition to their normal unemployment benefit.  While well intentioned–we all want to help those who are struggling–it is already having some negative effects and promises more down the line.

The problems stem from the fact that, for many hourly workers, they are now receiving, thanks to the extra $600, more money in unemployment benefits than they normally earn from their job.  Some unintended consequences are already visible.  While many businesses have been hurt by the panic and related closures, others have seen sales grow enormously.  Those businesses need more employers to meet the demand.  Here in Ohio, 40,000 jobs are going begging.  Why should people take those jobs when they get paid more to stay home, thanks to the extra $600?

It gets worse.  The federal government is offering forgivable loans to small businesses, on one condition: they keep paying their employees.  But the employees make more if they are laid off.  So they want to be laid off, but the company they work for has to pay the loan back unless they remain on its payroll.  In many cases, while a forgiven loan, which means a grant, would enable the business to remain a going concern, a loan it would have to repay would make it go under.  So now the employer and the employee are at loggerheads, with the latter endangering their post-panic jobs unless they remain on payroll at less money than they would receive off it.

What concerns me more than these temporary problems is some long-term effects.  Let’s face it, many of the jobs people are being laid off from are from jobs they hate.  They have to stand up all day, the work is boring at best, and the pay is low.  At some point, as the economy picks up again and the extra $600 in unemployment cash ends, they will have to turn from enjoying life at home for more money to working again for less money.  That may cause massive social and political dissatisfaction, even anger.

It’s a pity Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the presidency.  He could say,”When you stayed home for more money, that was socialism.  Having now to go back to work at a crappy job for less money is capitalism.  Which do you prefer?”  That might have been a hard question for President Trump to answer.

This in turn points to what I think will be the successful politics of the future: culturally Right but economically Left.  On the one hand, people, especially white people, are tired of being told they are “oppressors” who should hand over their earnings to blacks and Third World immigrants who are too often just takers.  They are sick of the Left’s endless attacks on Western culture, the Christian religion, whites, men, non- and anti-feminist women, etc.  And they have had it with cultural Marxists telling them what words they may and may not use, what thoughts they may and may not think.  Who elected them censors?

At the same time, middle America is angry at the one percent, not because it has done well (although its conspicuous consumption is rightly resented) but because it gets ever richer while the American middle class gets poorer.  If the middle class’s standard of living were also rising, the resentment would be much less.  But it isn’t.  The blue-collar middle class of the 1950s and ’60s has almost vanished; many of those people are now poor.  The white collar middle class knows it is headed down the same road.  Unlike in the 1950s, both husband and wife must now work, and even with two incomes the only way they can keep up a middle class lifestyle is by going ever more deeply in debt.  It is not merely the Left that wants a re-balancing and is willing to see the government do it.  That sentiment is now widespread among the culturally conservative middle class as well.

Will the resentment caused by the end of the extra $600 a week be enough to birth a new politics that is culturally Right but economically Left?  On its own, probably not.  But it may well mark a further step along that road.  On the surface, the Democrats would seem likely to benefit most.  But they have the millstone of cultural Marxism fixed around their necks, seemingly permanently.  Establishment Republicans are in bed with the 1%.  But anti-Establishment Republicans are well positioned to accomplish the new synthesis. 

Who will grasp the opportunity and make it happen?  Out of mistakes sometimes come opportunities.

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

COVID-19 and Culture

I went to the grocery store this morning in my enjoyably white suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and was surprised to find that perhaps a third of the customers were black.  I don’t know why; perhaps the panic buying had cleaned out their stores on their side of town.  But their presence brought an immediate problem: at least two-thirds of them paid no attention to social distancing.

The Left is now howling about the fact that COVID-19 is much more widespread in black and Hispanic areas than in places where whites live.  This is true not only of cities–compare Cleveland with Detroit–but within cities as well, including in our epicenter of the plague, New York.  As usual, they are blaming it on “inequality”.  And in a way, they are right.  One factor that explains the difference is inequality among cultures: some cultures work a great deal better than others.

The white, Christian, northern European culture that is the origin of America’s civic culture is one of the best functioning cultures on earth.  That is easy enough to see; compare life in northern Europe to life in southern Africa.  One characteristic that differentiates northern European culture from most other cultures is the former’s high level of civic virtue.  Most northern Europeans and white Americans have internalized the idea that you owe something to the people around you, simply because they are there.  This is, by world standards, a highly unusual belief.  In most cultures, including Hispanic culture, you owe nothing to anyone who is not a member of your family, clan, or tribe, in that order of importance.  The public realm is simply a combined dump and sewer.  Why not?  The people who inhabit it, except your relatives, mean nothing to you.  Civic virtue, in such cultures, is unknown.

What this means in our country as it confronts the coronavirus is that in black and Hispanic areas, people do not follow the rules to the same degree as do people in white and east Asian areas (east Asian culture is a culture of order, even though it does not have northern European culture’s concept of civic virtue).  That is of course not the only explanation for the difference in infection rates: population density and people’s need to physically go to their workplace are also factors.  Once the pandemic passes, it would be informative to compare infection rates in black and Hispanic neighborhoods with those in poor white neighborhoods.  That probably won’t happen for fear the results would point to cultural differences, which would be politically incorrect.

A third example also points to civic virtue as an important variable: the high infection rates in some orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.  Ultra-orthodox Jews are rule-followers of the highest order–but only their own rules.  Like black and Hispanic cultures, their culture dismisses anyone not from their group.  The public realm beyond their shtetl means nothing to them, unless they are doing a “good deed” in that realm, which some sects do require.  Otherwise, they hold the world of the goyim in contempt, as that world holds them in contempt, which is why the Holocaust was popular in much of central and eastern Europe. 

That fact points to the danger to minority groups which, in societies with strong concepts of civic virtue, refuse to practice such virtue themselves.  In normal times, the result is irritation and friction.  In abnormal times, irritation and friction can boil over into a determination to either enforce civic virtue on those who will not practice it voluntarily or find a final solution to the problem.  We are, I hope, a long way from the latter.  But if we were dealing not with the flu but with a plague that had a much higher mortality rate–as at some point we will be–the fate of those who refuse to follow the larger society’s rules and practice civic virtue could be grim.

In the meantime, I will be happy when the other shoppers in my grocery store are again from groups that practice civic virtue.  I will be overjoyed when our politicians acknowledge that some cultures are superior to others, and ours is, or was, the best.

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

The View From Olympus: Did the Marine Corps Just Commit Suicide?

The new Marine Corps Commandant, General David H. Berger, recently announced a series of major changes in the Marine Corps’ mission and structure.  When General Berger released his Commandant’s Guidance last summer, I supported it strongly. But the actions he just announced are so mis-directed that I fear they may add up to the suicide of the Marine Corps.

According to the Commandant’s letter announcing the Corps’ redirection,

The Marine Corps is redesigning the force for naval expeditionary warfare in actively contested spaces, fully aligning the Service with the direction of the National Defense Strategy (NDS). . .

Some of the key changes that will shape the future force include:

  • Expansion of long-range fires.  A 300% increase in rocket artillery.
  • Marine Littoral Regiment.  These purpose-built naval combined arms units will be capable of long-range precision-fires and equipped with anti-ship missiles.
  • Lighter, more mobile and versatile infantry.
  • Ground combat units to focus on naval missions.
  • Aviation units re-scoped for naval missions.
  • Investments in unmanned systems.
  • New capabilities for maritime mobility and resilience.
  • Air defense improvements.

The Marine Corps subsequently identified the cuts it will make to existing force structure to free resources for the new programs.  These will include all tanks, sixteen of twenty-one tube artillery batteries, three infantry battalions, some F-35s, and significant numbers of helicopters.  Total personnel strength will drop by 12,000.

Most of the critical response thus far has focused on the cuts to force structure.  On the whole, I do not see them as too problematic, although I would keep three tank companies and all existing infantry battalions.  Some of what General Berger is calling for is good, including making infantry lighter and more mobile (assuming that includes becoming true light rather than line infantry) and moving toward more, smaller amphibious ships, some based on commercial designs.

Unfortunately, the mistakes here cut far deeper than fewer or more units of this or that.  The proposed changes include three strategic errors, at least two of which are sufficient alone to put the Marine Corps’ continued existence in peril.  They are:

  • Re-aligning the Corps to the NDS, which is to say focusing on war with China.  We are not going to fight a war with China, because China is a nuclear power. Nuclear powers do not fight each other conventionally because the risk of escalation to nuclear war is too great.  The whole NDS is a work of fiction, designed to justify patterns and levels of defense spending that flow out of the Cold War or in some cases (especially the Navy) World War II (a cynic might say all our services have become clubs for World War II reenactors).  Worse still, General Berger’s changes build a fiction inside a fiction, namely that when we fight China the Marine Corps’ mission will be taking Chinese-held islands, presumably in the South China Sea. In the war with Japan, Marines took Japanese-held islands to create a chain leading to air bases that put us in bombing range of Japan.  The islands now held by China, except Hainan, have no strategic significance. In World War II, we bypassed such islands (thereby undermining Japan’s strategy). Even Hainan is significant only as the base for the South China fleet. Fleets are mobile. If we took Hainan, it would simply sail north. What all this adds up to is re-configuring the Marine Corps for a campaign that makes no sense in a war that will not happen.  That great blunder puts the Corp’s existence in peril.
  • So does a second blunder: focusing on “hi-tech” war built around long-range fires.  The Marine Corps survived the 20th century because it offered capabilities the other services did not.  The U.S. military already has a vast surplus of long-range fires, courtesy of the Navy and the Air Force.  Now, with these changes, the Corps will define its capability as adding a pea-shooter to a broadside of 16-inch guns.  Even if we take our fictitious scenario as real, the Chinese would not even notice the Marine Corps was involved. Becoming like the other services, a strategic blunder the Marine Corp began making in the mid-1990s and will now carry forward aggressively, means we won’t need a Marine Corps any more, except perhaps a battalion of embassy guards.
  • A third strategic blunder will probably not be noticed outside the Marine Corps but it will nonetheless reduce the value of what the Corps offers the nation.  While the Commandant references maneuver warfare with regard to dispersing amphibious forces, a move that has merit, focusing on trading long-range fires with any opponent marks a return to a firepower/attrition understanding of war.  In effect, it says future war will be a contest between trebuchets flinging pianos at each other. If we look around the world, that is not where war is going. In almost every case, state armed services that have vast superiority in long-range fires over their Fourth Generation opponents are losing, including us in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  Doctrinally, the Commandant’s vision faces backwards.

There is an obvious alternative that solves all three problems: return to the vision the Commandant first laid out in his Commandant’s guidance and focus on making maneuver warfare something the Marine Corps actually does instead of just writes about, including the changes in education, training, and personnel policies he identified.  Then, let the other services make the blunder of re-shaping themselves to accord with the fictional NDS and go instead where war is going, to become the nation’s force of choice for Fourth Generation war overseas. Just as the other services neglected amphibious warfare during the 1920s and ‘30s and the Marine Corps of that time created a unique capability the country ended up needing, so it can do the same now with 4GW.  It need not follow the other lemmings over a cliff.

The Year That Was

                                                                                                 December 31, 2020

That was the year that was; it’s over, let it go.  And boy, are we happy to see the last of 2020. 

2020 has already gone down in history as the year we made fools of ourselves.  Yes, the Chinese Flu, as most people now call it, started it all. But nothing from China forced us to panic the way we did.  The panic was all grown right here in the U.S.A., in the infernal hothouse known as the media.

When the Chinese Flu first hit, nobody knew much about it.  Fear, maybe even a bit of panic, was understandable. The government was right to put the classic measures against epidemics into effect: quarantining the sick, closing places where people gather, ordering “social distancing”.  But by the time the Chinese Flu really got going in this country, we had hard data telling us this was not the Black Death. It was more contagious than the common flu, and had a slightly higher death rate, still less than 1% in the end.  But the new flu didn’t force us to shut down the whole economy. Panic did that. While various public figures were saying the epidemic might last all summer or even all year, we knew from the experiences of China and South Korea that it ran a bell-shaped curve lasting about eight weeks.

By March, we had a vaccine undergoing human trails; now, at year’s end, it is available to anyone.  Also by March we had human trials underway of existing antiviral drugs to see if some were effective against the Chinese Flu.  Not surprisingly, some were and people who did get the bug could usually be cured at home with a prescription. Some hospitals did get overwhelmed briefly in early hot-spots of infection, but there was no nationwide shortage of beds.  Most important was the discovery that people who continued to go to work because they were in essential jobs did not get infected at a significantly higher rate than those who stayed home. Once that fact was established, many businesses could open again, businesses that should not have been forced to close in the first place. 

A few retrospective numbers are interesting.  The 1968 Hong Kong Flu epidemic killed more than 100,000 Americans, far more than the “coronavirus”, but we didn’t shut the economy down then.  The 2019-2020 run of the ordinary flu we get every winter infected 38 million Americans, hospitalized 390,000 and killed 23,000, according to the March 22 New York Times, when the season was not yet over.  In every case, those numbers are higher than they ended up for the new Chinese Flu.

What really has us hanging our heads in shame was the economic panic.  Everyone, including all those high-paid geniuses on Wall Street, forgot that epidemics run their course.  The Chinese Flu was short-term, while the underlying economy was strong long-term. The new flu’s eight week run gave us one down quarter, and the economy came roaring back the next  quarter, making up all its lost ground and then some. The President and Congress were right to spend trillions to take care of workers and businesses during the down time, and the FED also did the right thing in providing an ocean of dollars to prevent a liquidity crisis and lending freeze.  But it should have been obvious that these measures would work. In the end, as usual in panics, a lot of fools lost their shirts selling in a down market and a few smart guys made fortunes buying in the same.

Even this cloud has its silver lining.  After handing out trillions in a few weeks, everyone in Washington knows we face another long-term debt crisis unless we put our house in order.  We need to generate a budget surplus and start paying down the debt. It’s not that hard; we did it in the last years of President Clinton’s second term, with a Democratic President working with a Republican Congress.  President Trump, who tried to warn against panic but was out-shouted, has promised to work on a bi-partisan basis to get it done during his second term, knowing we need the Dems on board even though the Republicans again control both Houses of Congress.  We all feel badly for Joe Biden after that debate where he couldn’t remember his own name, but most Americans are glad President Trump will have four more years. After a slow start, he handled 2020 pretty well.

Since people don’t like being made fools of, we’re all mad at the media.  They created the panic. For years, they had been hyping everything to the max, even the weather, which has become weather porn.  But this time they shouted fire in a crowded theater, and they are paying the price. It was the video-screen media that did it, much more than our old familiar friend the newspapers, most of which offered accurate information.  People are responding by shutting off the TV and the computer and subscribing again to the morning paper. The newspaper is also useful in case another shortage of TP; try using your phone for that.

Anyway, it’s over.  As of midnight tonight, 2020 is history.  We are heading into 2021 with a growing economy, plenty of jobs, and bright prospects across the board.  The Chinese Flu did teach companies a lesson about the risks of global supply chains, and many are bringing their manufacturing back home.  That doesn’t just mean jobs, it means good jobs that pay enough so a blue-collar guy can give his family a middle-class life. After the clouds comes sunshine, and we’re all tanned, rested, and ready for a good year ahead.

Yes, I know the Chinese recently arrested some astronomers for saying an asteroid is heading toward earth, but. . .