Friday, July 07, 2006

Another Week Under Our Belts

The New York Times reports that lowering of recruiting standards has allowed hate groups to infiltrate the military.
A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization…

… "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the [Southern Poverty Law Center] quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, www.splcenter.org. "That's a problem."

It's also one more way in which getting stuck in a long, unnecessary war has weakened our professional military's capabilities and effectiveness. We have neo-Nazis running loose in the land of the Hajis? There's a "hearts and minds" strategy for you.

Over at Free Republic last month, Dr. Jack Wheeler gave his suggestions to Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki for a real peace plan. Hang Saddam. Shoot al Sadr. More stuff like that.

Discussion of the 24-point plan Malaki has actually proposed fell off the scope last week. The most contentious aspect of it, in many minds, is its offer of amnesty to insurgents whose only "crime" has been to fight occupying U.S. and coalition forces. I don't think he has any choice but to offer amnesty. If the Bush administration manages to block the offer, they'll take away any motivation the insurgents might have to stop fighting U.S. and coalition forces. In fact, it will put them in a position where they can't ever stop fighting.

The big media are breaking a story about a plot to bomb New York's Holland Tunnel. It's interesting how all these terrorist plots are just now being discovered. I expect to see more of them coming to light between now and November.

China and Russia are aligning against the U.S. positions on Iran and North Korea, further evidence that the Next World Order has already arrived. I just heard on CNN that Japan has dropped its demands for sanctions on North Korea. Will American be able to maintain a status as "first among nations" in the post-neoconservative era?

We had an interesting discussion this week at Pen and Sword over whether anything "good" has actually come from our war in Iraq. Can anything be termed "good" if it doesn’t justify the costs and consequences of achieving it? Is it good that Saddam Hussein is out of power considering the chaos ousting him has created in Iraq? If you lose your right leg, should you be happy that you've dropped 35 pounds?

Over at ePluribus Robert Fuller, author of All Rise discusses his vision of a Dignitarian Society.
The precise and universal cause of indignity is the abuse of power. Make a list of the most distressing issues of recent years: corporate corruption, the lobbying scandals, the Katrina catastrophe, sexual abuse by clergy, Abu Ghraib, domestic spying, etc. Every one of them can be traced to an abuse of power by individuals of rank. Often the abuses had the blessing of people of even higher rank.

Toward the end of my naval career, the expression "knowledge is power" became quite popular. Looking back, it occurs to me that this saying supports the notion that the ultimate goal of gaining knowledge is to obtain power.

Will we ever see a time when humanity values wisdom over power?

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Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.

18 comments:

  1. You're quite right, of course, that we'll be hearing about various heinous terror plots between now and November. They'll be issued at strategic moments when the Bush malAdministration realizes that it needs yet another pump in popularity poll rating. I think we all remember how the five level "terror alert" system was played like an organ in a silent movies theater.

    I think that logically there will have to be a crescendo of ever more deadly and fantastic plots, culminating in G_d knows what just before November. If we're starting off with the Holland Tunnel in early July, where will we be in mid-October? A plot to explode a 75 skazillion ton H-bomb off the coast of Alaska in order to bring on the San Andreas fault break from the mainland? (Clue: watch to see if Mr Cheney buys a lot of land in Arizona and New Mexico.)

    I think one of the goals behind gaining knowledge is power. But in Fuller's treatise of a Dignitarian Society, the gained knowledge is to be used for the benefit of the commonweal. One can easily argue that this 21st century society, world-wide is not at all mature in the sense of being sensible and survival-oriented.

    To change this society will require a catastrophic incident, or a long slow gradual re-orientation, led by a series of enlightened leaders.

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  2. This is one of those damned if you do sort of things it seemed. Of course we WANT the FBI and other government agencies to find out about terrorist plots head of time and foil them. But if they do, it's a cheap political trick. If they don't foil them, then I guess the finger gets pointed and people say "how come they didn't stop it." It's a no win situation, and whenever that kind of situation is created it tells me something is wrong with the argument. If the FBI stopped a terrorist plot, then great. I hope they stop all that are out there.

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  3. navywife12:35 PM

    Of course, no one wants terrorist attacks to happen, so if the FBI is stopping them, that's good. The problem some people have is that people outside the FBI use this success as a political tool. When you hear of a foiled plot to take down the Brooklyn Bridge, it makes everyone warm and fuzzy for a few days. When you find out a year later that the "plot" consisted of one crazy guy with a blow torch, it makes you wonder why the media made such a big deal out of it in the first place.

    When you hear of a foiled plot by Muslim extremists to take out the Sears Tower, again, warm fuzzies all around. When you find out the guys weren't even Muslim, but rather some odd Christian/Jewish/Haitian voodoo group, it makes you curious. When you find out that the group may have been talked into some of their more violent ideas by an undercover FBI agent, it makes you wonder why the FBI needs to resort to what is arguably entrapment to make an arrest for a crime that hadn't happened yet.

    When you look back at other news going on around the same time as some of these foiled "plots" that were hailed by the administration as great successes and proof that their strategies were working, you wonder if maybe they just made some stuff up to cover up the bad news. It's kind of like having a Friday afternoon bad news dump whenever you want it. When the administration continues to harp on "successes" that were proven fraudlent or empty for months afterwards, it makes one wonder if you ever get anything but feel good propaganda from the people in charge, and whether or not one should ever trust anything they say again.

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  4. Anonymous1:13 PM

    Apparently, "knowledge is power" originated with Sir Francis Bacon, "English author, courtier, & philosopher, advocate of inductive reasoning in science, wrote 'Advancement in Learning, 1605' ..."

    I like your interpretation of the phrase, but I always took it to mean that by refusing to seek knowledge, one lives in darkness. Not power in the sense of military might, but power in the sense of human advancement.

    Other quotes of his include:

    "A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."

    "He of whom many are afraid ought to fear many."

    "In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior."

    "Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper."

    Ok, I admit I have to think about that last one a bit ... :)

    Kerstin

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  5. Navywife:

    I'm as fond as conspiracy theories as the next person, but the problem with this is there is absolutely no proof at all to indicate that this is manufactured for the elections. The mere fact of thwarting the plot can't be taken as such evidence. If there were any piece of evidence to point to, then it might be another story, but not everything can be a conspiracy. That simply isn't plausible. If law enforcement has the information and means to foil some attack, they should do so - I don't care if it is one day before the election. And casting it in terms of being manufactured for political gain is insupportable, in my view, unless someone can point to a piece of evidence to corroborate that idea.

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  6. First off, let’s remember the reported plots to bomb the Holland and Lincoln tunnels in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. As it turned out that alarm was solely the result of some functionary wondering out loud, “What else could they do right now?”

    As I read the news article cited by Jeff, it said the FBI “uncovered” a plot that resulted in one arrest – in Lebanon. Did you read the statement by the FBI spokesman in Washington? "At this time we have no indication of any imminent threat to the New York transportation system or anywhere else in the U.S." How did the FBI “uncover” a plot that no one at SOG (the FBI term for Washington and FBI headquarters) knew about?

    This may or may not be a cheap political trick, as Musmanno observes, but I do remember that story about the tiger and his stripes, eh?

    Kudos to Anonymous for the source of the "knowledge" quote. Bacon, of course, with his predilection of scientific reasoning is out of popularity these days, what with faith-based science and Cinderella reasoning.

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  7. Not everything can be a conspiracy, but from what we'e seen from these ducks, you can hardly ever count one out.

    Thanks to Kerstin from me also for identifying Bacon as the source of the knowledge/power quote. I suspect the context in which he said it is different from the one in which I hear it today.

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  8. Jeff & Lurch:

    I wouldn't count it out, but I'm not going to jump to the conclusion either, not until I see evidence.

    Lurch:

    Bacon was an interesting guy. A great thinker, no doubt, and a brilliant developer of inductive reasoning, but as Attorney-General (and in other posts?) he engaged in all of the corruption that was common at the time, even while at the same time he appeared to identify the injustice of it. When reforms finally came he was sent to the Tower and, if I'm not mistaken, was never again able to hold public office. I can't remember if he kept any of his lands, but he basically isolated himself after than and devoted himself to writing and philosophy (and it is good for us that he did).

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  9. navywife5:26 PM

    I don't recall pushing any conspiracy theories. I was just pointing out a pattern. Pointing out patterns and discussing them does not constitute a conspiracy theory. As Aristotle once said:

    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

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  10. Over at Free Republic last month, Dr. Jack Wheeler gave his suggestions to Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki for a real peace plan. Hang Saddam. Shoot al Sadr. More stuff like that.

    Yeah, kick ass and take names. Or is it take names and kick ass. That'll get it done. Good show Wheely.

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  11. Sure. That's worked great so far.

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  12. Musmanno, I wasn't aware of Bacon's ever holding an appointed office in England, other than as a teacher/lecturer at either Cambridge or Oxford - I can't remember which. I also thought he died in France, where he had willingly gone into exile after a Magister who was a bitter foe of Bacon's was appointed as head of the Franciscan Order in England.

    Are you certain he was imprisoned in the Tower?

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  13. Yeah, I'm certain he was in the Tower, though not for very long. Early in life he had the role, more or less, of a Prosecutor and I believe was involved in the execution of Mary Queen of Scots (in that prosecutorial role). He later became Solicitor General, and then Attorney General, and was impeached eventually for being a corrupt judge (they all were, and many were impeached). His sentence in the tower was commuted, and after that is when he focused more fully on writings. I'll see if I can find a link on him.

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  14. Here is the Wikipedia entry on him. Look at the part about his career:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bacon

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  15. Ah. Thanks, Musmanno. We were talking at cross-purposes. I was thinking of the natural philosopher, Roger Bacon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Bacon

    Interesting parallels between the two men: both philosophers, both advocated empiric study of the universe, both were involved with alchemy, both revered Aristotle, both wrote works considered academically unacceptable for their time, both were imprisoned for deeds (Francis for indebtedness, Roger for his writing,) and both died in some degree of disgrace and poor reputation.

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  16. Lurch:

    Thanks for the link - I almost asked whether you were thinking of Roger instead of Francis, but I don't know enough about Roger Bacon to know. I've recently been reading some histories of the Elizabethan era (including an excellent biography of Edward de Vere, the 11th Earl of Oxford - if you like Shakespeare you should give it a look, as it is called Shakespeare by Another Name), and some of them had a good deal about Francis Bacon in them. I appreciate the link regarding Roger.

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  17. Musmanno, it's your job to keep me from making such silly mistakes. It's all on you.

    One black star on your permanent record.

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