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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.

 

Slaughter of Christian & indigenous Nigerians, varied drivers

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — switching between my comparative religion and cultural anthropology hats, while reading of Christian and indigenous mass graves in Nigeria — and the fear of a Rwanda-scale genocide ]
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The Christian Post reports:


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‘Pure Genocide’: Over 6,000 Nigerian Christians Slaughtered, Mostly Women and Children

Villagers stood at a mass grave in Dogon Na Hauwa, Nigeria, in 2010. | (Photo: Reuters/Credit Akintunde Akinleye)

The church leaders said that “over 6,000 persons, mostly children, women and the aged have been maimed and killed in night raids by armed Fulani herdsmen,” which is prompting their cry to the government of Nigeria “to stop this senseless and blood shedding in the land and avoid a state of complete anarchy where the people are forced to defend themselves.”

That last phrase, to “avoid a state of complete anarchy where the people are forced to defend themselves”, is a telling one with an implication of considerable restraint on the part of Christians thus far..

**

Reading the piece carefully, the question arises as to the interwoven influences of tribal, religious, and cultural differences..

Consider the Catholic bishop’s comment as reported:

“Please don’t make the same mistake as was made with the genocide in Rwanda,” he pleaded, referring to the massacre of Tutsi people in Rwanda, where close to 1 million were killed in 1994.

To what extent can this conflict and slaughter be characterized as tribal?

Consider also the clash of religions — indigenous / ancestral tribal religions included — implied by the reference to Boko Haram, and the Intersociety comment:

Nigeria is drifting to [a path of] genocide through killing, maiming, burning and destruction of churches and other sacred places of worship, and forceful seizure and occupation of ancestral, worship, farming and dwelling lands of the indigenous Christians and other indigenous religionists in Northern Nigeria

Or — and this one’s of terrific importance, as implied by the comment:

raids carried out by the herdsmen on local area farmers

To what extent is the conflict one of (mobile) herdsmen vs (settled) farmers?

  • Fulani vs one or more other tribes
  • Islam vs Christianity & indigenous religions
  • herdsmen vs agriculturalists
  • **

    Please note that there are two feared outcomes here, the first of which touches my heart in its implication of Christian non-violence in the face of terrible violence, while the second addresses a significant increase in the scale of that violence:<

  • to avoid a state of complete anarchy where the people are forced to defend themselves
  • the same mistake as was made with the genocide in Rwanda
  • Tragedy is seldom simple. If we are to avoid the worst, we need both to understand the drivers in all their subtle diversity, and to avoid the paralysis that comes from overthinking — not an east task, but a necessary one.

    **

    With thanks to J Scott Shipman.

    Unlikely (?) Intersections

    Saturday, July 21st, 2018

    [by J. Scott Shipman]

    “To flourish and grow in a many-sided uncertain and ever changing world that surrounds us, suggests that we have to make intuitive within ourselves those many practices we need to meet the exigencies of that world.” John R. Boyd, Colonel, USAF, Ret (1937-1997), Introduction to Conceptual Spiral Abstract

    Friends, I’ve been noodling the intersection of ideas for the last couple of years. Based on the classic Boyd quote above (and other works), I’d offer that:

    (1) most of our problems (let’s stick to military) can be derived from a lack of tacit knowledge

    (2) a lack of respect/perspective for the differences between tactical and strategic uncertainty.

    I’m not suggesting any sort of novel discovery, as I’m standing on the shoulders of several other authors/thinkers, but Boyd’s little introduction manages to provide a scaffold of thought we’d be wise study.

    A Dystopian Trilogy Worth Your Time

    Sunday, July 15th, 2018

    [by J. Scott Shipman]

    Wool, by Hugh Howey

    Shift, by Hugh Howey

    Dust, by Hugh Howey

    Friends, In 2013 I read Hugh Howey’s Wool after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal. Howey’s is a cinderella story; he wrote his novel in installments at his blog, and his story, Wool was picked up by a publisher. The response was so overwhelming, Howey wrote Shift, which is a very good prequel and Dust picks up the story to the conclusion.

    I gave away my paper copy of Wool  a couple years ago, but was pleased to see a graphic novel of the same title by Jimmy Palmiotti (Author), Justin Gray (Author), Hugh Howey (Author), Jimmy Broxton (Illustrator), Darwyn Cooke (Illustrator). The graphic novel filled in the gaps of my memory and helped visualize Howey’s imaginative and frightening new world below ground.

    This trilogy is summer reading at its best. Story has duplicitous politicians, brave idealists and truly clever on-the-fly tactics—and a bit of not-too-syrupy true love. Howey is a gifted storyteller and weaves a credible yarn of a future where humanity is consigned to silos buried within the earth and surrounded by a poisonous atmosphere.

    Strong recommendation!

     

     

    A Modest Proposal

    Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

    by J. Scott Shipman

    Our Navy has not experienced war against a peer competitor since 1945. War at sea differs significantly from what our Marine Corps and Army brothers have learned over the last 17 years. Naval warfare is attrition warfare, for at sea there is no place to hide. To quote the late strategist Herbert Rosinski: “At sea there is no halfway house between victory and defeat, because there is no difference between what is needed for defense and what for attack. One side only can gain security at the cost of the other—or neither.”

    The United States Navy doesn’t have enough submarines (or surface ships, for that matter). Our highly capable fleet of SSNs is the best in the world, but we’re retiring the old LOS ANGELES Class boats faster than we’re replacing them with the VIRGINIA Class. These new submarines are expensive (~$2.5B USD) and the high costs are translating into fewer platforms with the number of attack boats shrinking from 50 today to as low as 42 by 2030—with only about 25 projected to operate in the Pacific—while China is building both SSKs and SSNs at a pretty aggressive rate with up to 70 attack boats on the horizon.

    Under current forces structure plans and budgets the USN cannot afford the number of platforms needed to meet existing security threat requirements. Given our top-heavy force of large multipurpose warships, most are too expensive to send in harm’s way—but that does not change the need for presence. As William Beasley wisely suggested in the November 2015 issue of Proceedings, the US Navy needs to “close the presence gap.” Beasley “steals” a line from former Naval War College Dean CAPT Barney Rubel and defines “presence” — “it means being there.” Costs are limiting our numbers, thus our presence. As marvelous as the VA Class is (and it is a true marvel), it can’t be in two places at once.

    The USN attack submarine force is all nuclear. These ships are complex and take years to construct—and only two shipyards are currently certified to build them. If many predictions are correct, in a future great power war we cannot assume the sanctuary of CONUS and these shipyards would make irresistible targets.

    Our ally Japan may hold a potential subsurface solution which could be an almost “turn-key” solution to the USN’s presence crisis and the growing threat of China. The Japanese Soryu class submarine (pictured above) is the most advanced conventional submarine in the world and the first to transition to ultra-quiet lithium batteries for submerged operations. Further, these boat could be built for at least half the price of a VA Class.

    Japan faces a common adversary in China, though without a Pacific Ocean buffer. What if we made a deal with the Japanese government to license the Soryu class design? Further, as part of the deal, construct boats for their navy in our shipyards. We would gain needed numbers and our ally would gain an “extra” production yard. This seems a great way to reassure our allies, increase our subsurface numbers, and send a message to the world that our bonds as allies are deep and resolute. This line of thought is not unprecedented, as we are building the next generation of SSBN (the COLUMBIA Class) in collaboration with the UK.

    Whatever the USN decides (and doing nothing is a decision), time is growing short for alternatives and more of the same isn’t affordable.


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