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Two unexpected signs of the same intelligence at work

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — two instances in which land is returned to tribal peoples who previously tended it ]
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**

Sources:

  • Bold Nebraska, In Historic First, Nebraska Farmer Returns Land to Ponca Tribe
  • Forest News, Indonesian president hands over management of forests to indigenous people
  • **

    Wallace Black Elk told me the Americas were his altar, and that on this altar guns are not permitted. He also offered to get me a Lakota passport, which would allow me to fly into US airports without having to pass through customs.

    but these ideas are a bit farther along the timeline, I think, from the two land exchanges detailed above.

    The British Are Coming

    Monday, May 20th, 2019

    [by J. Scott Shipman]

    The British Are Coming, by Rick Atkinson

    A couple of Rick Atkinson’s books (WWII) are in my anti-library, but on the urging of a friend, I purchased Mr. Atkinson’s first volume of a planned trilogy on the American Revolution. About 100 pages in and I find myself trying to make time to finish (it doesn’t help that I’ve embarked on a project that requires even more reading…). Mr. Atkinson may be the best narrative historian since William Manchester.

    Preemptively highly recommended.

     

    The thing about a carrier strike group and John Bolton

    Friday, May 10th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — strategy / metacognition — here’s an easy to feel, hard to conceptualize notion: the threat to Iran is a human+carrier-group threat, not just a carrier-group threat, okay? ]
    .

    The U.S. Navy’s Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group includes guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, and missile destroyers USS Bainbridge, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason and USS Nitze. Photo by MCS3 Stephen Doyle

    As the son of a captain RN, I can’t resist images like this:

    **

    Aside:

    Let me start by noting that MSNBC’s Richard Engel today mentioned that North Korea expresses varying levels of frustration by exploding underground nukes when “really, really angry” — and then in descending order firing off ICBMs and then short-range missiles — the stage we’re at this week, indicating “moderate displeasure — but why? — And Engel suggests the Kim regime is signalling that it “wants to get back to the bargaining table”..

    So the firing of missiles, albeit into the Sea of Japan, an act of aggression on the face of it, and plausibly a bit of a threat — an example of “saber-rattling”, as Engel goes on to say — can carry a message of tghe wish to negotiate, if not for actual reconciliation.

    I mention this merely to indicate that threat — along with such related categories as exercise, deployment, war-game, &c — is a polyvalent matter.

    But that’s just to open our minds to the matter of The thing about a carrier strike group and John Bolton…

    **

    Main point:

    John Bolton just announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln was hastening to the Persian Gulf “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

    That’s a threat.

    Presumably, as far as Bolton is concerned, the threat in this case is the Lincoln strike group and accompanying bomber wing — the deployment of massive lethal force.

    I don’t think that’s the threat — or to put it another way, I think that’s only half the threat, or more precisely, it’s y in the threat xy.

    What I’m getting at is on the one hand patently obvious, and on the other, conceptually difficult to handle: that the threat is in fact John Bolton force-multiplying the carrier strike group..

    John Bolton is a hawkish hawk — Trump himself said today with a laugh that he’s the one who has to “tempers” Bolton, rather than the other way around — Bolton, if I may say so, is somewhere between a rattling saber and a loose cannon. He may be in complete control of himself, full of sound and fury purely for effect, and far more cautious in purpose and action than he lets on. But his hawkishness is unpredictable, and it’s that unpredictable bellicosity — multiplied by the lethality of the carrier group — that constitutes the real thread.

    It’s easy to feel that, particularly if you’re an Iranian honcho — but not so easy to think about it or discuss it strategically, because there’s no such conceptual category as a human-warforce hybrid.

    We need that category.

    Because the threat to Iran is a human-warship threat, not just a warship threat. And when the human is John Bolton — watch out!

    Beach umbrellas impaling East Coast women

    Monday, July 23rd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — the writer is an indoors man, both literally and in GM Hopkins’ metaphorical sense ]
    .

    The first event took place in Seaside Heights, NJ, and the second in Ocean City, MD:

    **

    One instance, I have always argued, is a poor indicator of anything — but two instances could be early indicators of a trend.

    Two beach umbrella impalings in about a week seems less than plausible by coincidence — it looks like there’s a master plan at work, and while the first umbrella pierced an ankle, the second reached the chest. It is time to take notice, and prepare appropriate defenses..

    Instance #1:

    A pleasant day at the Jersey shore turned into a bloody nightmare for a British sunbather when a gust of wind blew an umbrella straight through her ankle, officials said.

    Margaret Reynolds, 67, of London was impaled by one of the tips of the aluminum umbrella, which turned into a projectile about 4:30 p.m. Monday in Seaside Heights, police Detective Steve Korman told The Post.

    Instance #2:

    OCEAN CITY, Md. — A spokeswoman for a Maryland beach town says a woman has been accidentally impaled in the chest by a beach umbrella.

    Ocean City spokeswoman Jessica Waters said it happened Sunday afternoon on the beach. She says the 54-year-old woman was conscious, but that her condition is not known at this time.

    A bolt-cutter was used to help withdraw the projectile from the British tourist in Instance #1, whiln a helicopter airlift to a nearby hospital was required in instance #2.

    **

    Sources:

  • New York Post, Tourist impaled by beach umbrella on Jersey Shore
  • New York Post, Woman impaled in chest by beach umbrella
  • **

    I am happy to re-report of the woman in instance #2, the more grievously attacked of the two:

    She was flown to an area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

    We wish her a speedy recovery.

    Of the woman in instance #1, I take pleasure in re-noting:

    Reynolds was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for treatment and has been discharged.

    A satisfactory conclusion to a difficult affair.

    **

    The perpetrator in each case would appear to be the wind:

    Instance #1:

    A pleasant day at the Jersey shore turned into a bloody nightmare for a British sunbather when a gust of wind blew an umbrella straight through her ankle, officials said.

    Instance #2:

    Witnesses said one gust lifted the umbrella

    No winds have been apprehended at this time. John 3.8:

    The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:

    Guest Post: Hays on From Matamoros to Managua

    Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

    [mark safranski / “zen“]

    See the source image

    “Jack Hays“. Mr. Hays has considerable experience in a number of political and policy positions inside government and out and shares with the ZP readership our appreciation for history, strategy and other things further afield. Mr. Hays also has extensive time south of the border. He wrote this brief essay elsewhere and gave permission to share it.

    From Matamoros to Managua live just under 170 million people. Their societies are coming apart. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily poor — especially in Mexico — though they frequently are. It does mean that for various reasons, be it the stresses of global trends, misgovernance, societal pathologies, historical causes, or beyond, their institutions are failing. It is likely no accident that this comes to pass in the generation after the era of autocratic parties and strong men. The succeeding era of democracy and pluralism is both liberating and rapacious: for many it has exchanged the danger of being killed by the state for the danger of being killed by nearly anyone. What arises in the aftermath is therefore exceptionally violent. It is not unfamiliar in human history: even at the most glorious moment of the Siglo de Oro, everyday Spanish life was also exceptionally violent. But that isn’t the right comparison: what you see in, say, northern Mexico or urban Honduras is less 16th-century Spain than 17th-century Germany — or 21st-century Damascus. It is a terrifying and brutal existence, and people quite rationally flee.

    They especially flee when they are trying to protect children they love.

    There is nothing — nothing short of murder — that deters flight and migration in those conditions. Therefore, there being still some things we won’t try, the questions arises: what will we try? If we aren’t going to take them in, what do we do?
    What are you willing to have America do to stabilize these societies? The probable answer probably includes things like open or preferential trade. It probably includes aggressive engagement with local politics. It probably includes forcible imposition of our own law-enforcement institutions upon theirs. It may even include the use, in some form, of the United States military. None of this is speculative. All of it has happened before. All of it also ended in mostly the same way: there was a desultory clash of arms, the United States demanded certain things of local sovereigns, and events resolved when someone assumed autocratic control of the southern reaches.

    None of this is consonant with our postwar models of American behavior. Yes, we are the country that conquered Panama in 1989; we are also the country that was turned away by a mob from Haitian shores in 1994. We are also the country that doggedly tries to inculcate democratic civic norms in places like Afghanistan when a monarch or a warlord would quite suffice. We have an aversion to nation-building and then we do a great deal of it badly.

    But nation-building is precisely what is needed from Matamoros to Mexico. It is for their sake, and ours. The task is gigantic, and before the real crisis is upon us — which will involve millions on the move, not mere thousands — we still have time to undertake it. But we think it is about ourselves, we think they can govern themselves, we imagine we have anything more compelling to pressure them with than the things they fled in San Pedro Sula, in Ciudad Mier, in San Salvador, in a thousand over violent corners of an ancient and bloody land. We are wrong on all counts.

    We act, or action is forced upon us. So what are you willing to do?


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