Mob violence, the threat of violence and intimidation of individuals by large groups is a core operational tactic of the radical left in the Cultural War. If you are like me, it is difficult to imagine that the activities in the videos and stories below really occur. If you are aware of them, you assume, as I did for a long time that these are small isolated activities. Surely, this cannot represent the nature and the character of an entire movement - yet it actually does. The mainstream media does not cover this in much detail, if at all. When they do cover it they portray is as counter-protests to right-wing hate.
Three facts are important to understand.
First - there just does not exists a large and organized right-wing equivalent to these left-wing groups. Yes, there are young groups on the Alt-Right that seem willing to take to the streets and get directly into the face of groups like ANTIFA, but they are small when compared to the left.
Second, the organization of the left is enormous. The so-called ad hoc gatherings of students at campuses around the country to harass, assault and intimidate those that dare have ideas different than what their ideology holds dear are not nearly as random as the news media that covers these events would lead you to believe. The left employs paid organizers and paid protestors to coordinate and facilitate these events and pass along best practices to ensure maximum success.
Third, and most important. The radical left is proving through direct action that they have no respect for persons, property, liberty nor even life - the core principles that have made Western Civilization great. In the videos below you will see individuals punched, spit upon, cursed at, property taken and destroyed and all manner of other things, all in the name of silencing people that disagree and denying others the right to speech free movement and peaceful assembly.
You will notice, these radical progressives perform these actions in the safety of a crowd, often punching and kicking people when their backs are turned. They apparently believe in the power and justice of the crowd over that of the individual. I imagine the same sort of attitudes prevailed during the French Revolution as people were denounced, "tried" and guillotined. This is the same sort of behavior that occurred during Chinas Cultural Revolution with Struggle Sessions and executions. We have in existence the same sort of mob mentality, the same sort of ideological hate and the same level of individual cowardices that existed in France in the early 18th-century and China in the 20th. Millions of people have been killed in the past because of mob violence.
When I write about the very real dangers the radical progressives pose, these are not theoretical or hypothetical arguments - these things are happening, and the brazenness of the mob is growing.
The videos below contain violence and crude language - but you need to see them to fully understand the gravity of this growing mob mentality.
Cowards you say? The videos bear this out. I suspect few if any of these people in black hoodies and masks would all alone get in the face of most regular Americans. That is not their modus operandi, they are only emboldened by a large group, often attacking their victims from behind or from the side. This does not make them less dangerous, perhaps more so. Weak, feckless and confused people that feel powerless to act on their own, are conditioned to groupthink and feel the power in the mob are apt to perform collective acts that in history have proven to be murderous.
The notion that there is a moral superiority within the mob itself, a superiority that debases the humanity of individuals that disagree with the mob is a significant problem. These people are learning the wrong lessons, lessons they will apply to politics and the public square for years to come.
Most of us naively assume that when Chick-Fil-A announced on 18 November 2019 that they would no longer donate to charities that the radical progressive minority deem “hateful” that this was just one more small thing. Nothing particularly special in the big picture. Not as significant as Roe v. Wade, not the same as many modifications to immigration over the years. Not as earth-shattering as other major losses in the Cultural War. In one sense, that is a correct assessment – it is after all just a chicken sandwich store, right. So what if Chick-Fil-A kowtows to the crazies of the world you might say, most other companies already have?
Taking such a view misses what has actually occurred. Such a view does not accept how this changes the world going forward.
Consider the facts.
Depending upon what measurement criteria are used, in 2019 Chick-Fil-A was between the #3 and #5 largest fast-food chain in America, increasing in almost all measurable categories since 2018.
Chick-Fil-A is privately held, therefore immune to vast stockholder pressure.
In both 2018 and 2019, Chick-Fil-A was subjected to an organized and viral campaign of lies, boycott, protest and corporate character assassination by the radical progressive left – yet they still grew in size and profits.
Despite apparently successfully shrugging off the efforts of the radical left Chick-Fil-A was thriving. They are privately held and have a board that is answerable to a smaller group of people. It appeared they were standing by their values, and winning at the game of capitalism simultaneously. Then in November of 2019, they just quit.
Sure, soon after they opened their first store in the United Kingdom the company announced in October 2019 it would close that location at the end of the six-month lease. Local LGBTQ groups had protested the location and the company since it opened. Perhaps this meant Chick-Fil-A was not going to be able to penetrate the European market. They are still a privately held company with $10Billion in sales annually – not bad. British and European citizens must find their own way to fight the Cultural War. They have gotten so much more wrong than America. If they cannot get their own houses in order, and they do not get to each Chick-Fil-A sandwiches as a result, so be it. After all, consider what the British have allowed Caroline Farrow to endure. To Britain I say, no waffle fries for you mate, cheers.
We cannot know why Chick-Fil-A caved. They were certainly making enough money and if sticking to one’s values meant staying out of Europe and the oppressive laws of the EU, so be it. But they did cave.
This, of course, means as Rod Dreher pointed out ” if even Chick-fil-A capitulates to the illiberal demands of LGBT activists, then what chance do you have in professional life, you and your religion, despised by power elites?
In the greater context of the Cultural War, this means;
Any company or organization that donates, supports or even hints at support of any cause, idea or organization deemed inappropriate can be brought to heel. There are simply no other privately held companies of Chick-Fil-A’s size, $10B in revenue.
Individuals, CEOs, professionals, teachers, academics, media personalities are now even easier targets. Those that speak up for traditional values, speak at “forbidden events”, donate to the wrong charities or espouse traditional values in the public square may be placed on a list and “canceled” one by one. Silencing voices and denying employment and income to those that resist. This has, of course, already been occurring, but the Chick-Fil-A capitulation is a watershed, these events will become more common.
Common people will come to further believe the narrative. “If the left said Salvation Army and the FAC were spreading hate, and Chick-Fil-A stopped supporting them then maybe they were spreading hate – I just want my sandwich“. The public square will be ceded further.
The surrender of Chick-Fil-A will demonstrate to politicians that the will and resolve of the radical left is much stronger than the conviction and dedication of traditionalists. They make noise and cause trouble far in excess of their true numbers. We are silent, allowing them to control the narrative and the public square. Politicians will soon come to realize that making attempts to even appeal to a traditional base is pointless, they can get elected without it, not despite it.
Politicians that seek to retain some support for traditional values will be increasingly isolated, ineffective because of shrinking numbers and easier to single out for organized smear and opposition campaigns.
With the public square under control, corporate America (and their donation dollars) captured, Congress and the Senate either filled with their candidates minus a few ineffective holdouts; it is over – this stage of the Cultural War is lost.
With public opinion either cowed into silence, relegated to a small corner of “radical hate and ignorance, access to corporate dollars secured, and domination of the political process the radical progressive agenda can move forward at a pace hitherto unimagined.
I personally assumed the process of total defeat in this stage of the conflict would take another decade. I see the march of history toward an authoritarian and Godless future, one has to be naive not to acknowledge that reality. I just did not think it possible to occur so quickly.
The 2016 election was an anomaly. As I argue in my latest book, The Philosophy of Commonsense, the election of Donald Trump was a result of him being the only Republican candidate to advocate for any of the issues at play in the Cultural War – Trump promised to fix the immigration problem, traditionalists believed him and elected him, despite his obvious flaws. His election was essential a counter-revolution to the progressive agenda, one last major offensive. The right cannot pull off such an offensive again.
Here is why:
Despite most of the possible constituency that would possibly vote for anything traditional turning out, and the progressives missing significant numbers the results were less than encouraging: (via Ballotpedia)
Thank God the founders understood the importance of regions, States, community, and locality and placed the Electoral College in our system – an item the progressives will soon move to “correct”. The map may look red, but all of those red states are ignorant backwaters to the progressive.
Mathematically speaking, it does not matter if the Republicans field a better, less abrasive version of Trump, a candidate that claims to stand by more than one tenant of traditionalism, the numbers are just not there. Older, more conservative voters are dying, young and more progressive voters are increasing. Add to this the fact that Trump is really a major disappointment to many traditionalists, he did and apparently will not fix anything related to immigration and he has not advanced the cause of morality in any way at all. It will be difficult to mobilize a second offensive, believers have been burnt again and will not be motivated in 2020 and going forward.
Perhaps my generation, the slackers and nihilists of Generation X will remember some of what we learned and observed as kids. It is hard to imagine a group of kids that grew up watching Star Wars and reading 1984 not understanding how tyranny can slip into a government by “good intentions”. Generation Xers are already attending church weekly more than any other living generation. But we are a small generation, we cannot alter the landscape alone.
Hello, Generation Z! The fiscally responsible, tattoo hating, Republican-leaning group, touted by conservatives as their best hope for the future, and as the antithesis of Millennials.
But the impact of the Zoomers is several years away. It will be some time before the full force of their voting impact is felt. In the meanwhile, America will be fundamentally changed, and much faster than most could have predicted.
It will only be after America moves very close to authoritarianism in government and the public square, the engine of capitalism is seized up with wealth-hating and redistribution policies and almost all of the remnants of Christian and traditional values are stripped from public life that Zoomers will step in and fix things. How we help prepare them for that awesome task was the entire purpose of my book.
We are in for a long, and ugly ride. We lost this stage of the Cultural War. Our battles and efforts now should be focused on retrenchment*, shoring up institutions, speaking truth so that it does not disappear entirely from dialogue, living in compassion, living our values and preparing our children for their task.
*Retrenchment is a technical term in fortification, where it is applied to a secondary work or series of works constructed in rear of existing defences to bar the further progress of the enemy who succeeds in breaching or storming these.
The entire narrative has been taken over and controlled by radical progressives. There is no hope to win or even slow down the defeat of traditional American values so long as they control the words. They term disagreement as “hate”, they define principles as “bigotry” and they call faith ignorance. Their ideology is based upon authoritarianism masked as equality and compassion. Their goal is nothing short of the abolition of Christianity and traditional values in America.
I will be the very first to admit, perhaps to the disgust of some conservatives, that Christian Americans got homosexuality wrong. Homosexuality is a sin, no different than adultery, murder, stealing, lying, and hypocrisy – all sins. Hang with me a moment before you click past this page. Allow me to make a point.
Christian America ought to have handled this differently a long time ago.
Homosexual marriage should never have been recognized by the government. Marriage is a social institution that has served humanity well for centuries. However, if two same-sex people created a contract of sorts, that should have been fine – so long as it was not treated as a family, no adoptions and no family status recognized by the State that is supposed to protect the social order.
If homosexuals wanted to serve in the military, that should have been fine for them to enlist. At the same time, the government should have deemed active homosexuality as moral turpitude and denied them commissions and leadership roles – the same as for anyone that has a demonstrated morality problem.
Homosexuals should have been welcomed in all churches – that is where all of us sinners belong. They ought not to be preachers or teachers if they are active in their sin, but sinners ought to be welcomed in church.
Essentially we ought to have treated homosexuals and homosexuality just like any other sin. We recognize it exists, we know you cannot legislate away sin, we simply should have said “be yourself, but these are societies standards” regarding sin and immorality.
I would argue that this was exactly how America behaved until the 1960s or so. Sure individuals and communities might have been unwilling to accept a person that practices homosexuality – that was their liberty to hold an opinion. Sure there were laws on the books prohibiting homosexuality in many places, but there were many other morality laws as well; homosexuality was not singled out. All such laws were good intentioned mistakes.
None of what I propose above would make the LQBTQ+++ crowd happy now. They would term my speech hate for merely suggesting that homosexuality is a sin. Of course, their real agenda is much broader than gay rights.
What changed beginning in the 1960s and accelerating since is the narrative of the progressives. They turned grievances over laws, laws that were similar to morality laws that applied to heterosexuals, into a political cause and then conflated that with an entire anti-values agenda. Instead of merely advocating for equal liberty for all to sin or not on matters of sexuality they created a political ideology and a story- a narrative. This narrative painted anyone that opposed the changes they wanted as hate-filled, it described the religious convictions of the opposition as bigotry.
The conservative traditionalist response to this attack was something natural. It basically took the form of “you are attacking me and everything I believe, you and everything you believe are bad”. The radical progressive began the polarization of America.
None of that history, what should have been, what might have matters now. When the right opposes the LGBTQ+++ agenda they are not opposing gay people as individual children of God. No true Christian hates another person and anyone claiming to be a Christian that does hate another needs some knee-time. The LGBTQ+++ agenda itself is not just about rights for gay people, it is now wrapped up in a much bigger ideological argument. The rainbow flag and the faux arguments over homosexuality are just proxy wars for the bigger issue. Their argument ceased a long time ago to be about gay rights.
The biggest lie the radical progressive tell is that their movement is about rights, equality, and compassion. It is really about control, domination, submission, and hate for Christian values. Yet they wrap their narrative in happy flags and get a pass on their hate.
Conservatives, Christians, and traditionalists are losing the Cultural War for a few reasons. I will just address one here.
“control their language and you control the people”
George Orwell, author of 1984
We have ceded the language and the narrative to the left. They wrap their arguments in inclusion, compassion, and dignity and paint ours as narrow-minded and hateful. Any disagreement with their dogma is termed hate. We simply cannot accept that. Many are afraid to actually speak because others will think poorly of them, leaving the public space for a minority to dominate. We need to speak our convictions, to friends, to family, in social conversation when the topic comes up and in the public square. We need to speak from first principles, with respect to liberty and equality and compassion but also recognizing universal truth. The LGBTQ+++ story is easily dissected from the progressive narrative if one simply discusses the core issues. Christianity is compassion, for the individual, the family, and society. Societal order is a positive good. There is nothing at all hateful by saying something is wrong based upon firmly held convictions and long-established tradition. A thing even Marin Luther King, an icon of the left, thought was wrong and said so publicly. Shall we deem him a hater and remove his name from the streets and a holiday for it?
What is hateful and bigoted is to attack an entire centuries-old faith tradition and the people that hold that faith dear. What is abominable is the desire to control and tell others what to think and how to do business as the radical progressive movement is so apt to do. All three of the world’s major religions consider homosexuality a sin, they have held this view for centuries. Are we to assume a few vocal radicals are smarter than most of the world’s population for most of our history? I think not.
We need to take back the language and speak our convictions with confidence. And, in the case of a company like Chick-Fil-A, we need to vote with our wallets. They did not achieve #3 fast-food staus on those little chicken sandwiches alone, and if you are honest, they were not exceptional items in any event. They were pretty good, but there are equal options out there. They had OUR support because many believed they operated with OUR values. They quit the Cultural War when they did not have to and in doing so made life a lot harder on smaller companies that desire to operate within their conscience. Such a betrayal cannot go unpunished – this is the nature of the Cultural War.
You may say “but all of corporate America has folded, why should I deny myself a rubbery chicken sandwich”. All of corporate America did not take a stand and carry the banner as a leader for traditionalism and values like ChickFilA. All of corporate America has not held itself out to you as a place to spend your money because they shared your values. Chick-Fil-A did that, and then they quit on you and us.
It is a shame, a real shame that the radical progressives have so twisted what should have been simple issues. Homosexuals should have had the same rights as any other sinner to do most of the things all sinners do. That would not have made the act right morally, no more so than any other sin that is legal, but it never had to become part of an agenda to tear down all that is traditional, moral and good about America. We should have dealt with that issue as Americans and skipped all this polarization.
The Cultural War is the very subject of my latest book, The Philosophy of Commonsense: A Cultural War Primer. It addresses questions such as what are the basis of traditional American values, where does ultimate truth come from, why the cultural war matters and what are the ramifications for the future?
In my own personal life, I have known and even been friends with many homosexuals. Like most Christians I treated them just like every other sinner I come across, which is everyone I meet including me. In the Army I had a Soldier come to my First Sergeant and say they wanted to “come out”. This was back during “don’t ask, don’t tell”. I told my First Sergeant to go back to them and tell them I did not want them to tell me anything of the sort – I and everyone already knew anyway, it was no secret. They were a good Soldier. I had porn addicts, prostitute visitors, adulters and brawlers in my company – sinners all. Why would I let this person tell me something I would have to act on. That is the sort of example, not unique to me, that the radical progressives do not want to hear. They would rather call me a hater because I think it is a sin than realize I have treated all people the same, regardless. I am not alone. Yet their brush paints us all as narrow-minded bigots.
They made this a “Us versus Them” fight and Chick-Fil-A just picked the wrong side.
Symbolically, this is a big deal for those who hold to what Christianity, Judaism, and Islam traditionally teach about homosexuality and related phenomena. It sends the signal that resistance is futile. If even Chick-fil-A — the company that takes its Christian values so seriously that it closes on Sunday, and despite that revenue loss, was still able to become the third-biggest fast food franchise in America — if even Chick-fil-A capitulates to the illiberal demands of LGBT activists, then what chance do you have in professional life, you and your religion, despised by power elites?
I resolved some time ago to avoid domestic politics for the most part. Primarily because none of it matters so long as we are mired in melodrama and lost in the dark without a light to guide us. The fact is there is hardly a principled politician in Washington and as a result little they argue about approaches the issues from a position of truth.
The ongoing cultural war is different. It is tangentially related to domestic politics only insofar as there are issues that still may be fought, the last battlefields the traditionalists and conservers of America might fight to slow the oncoming defeat. Immigration is one of those issues.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I thought immigration was not a significant issue to be fought. After all, America has welcomed immigrants for over two centuries, right? My views changed after reading Who are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity by Samuel Huntington(2004). In 1993 I came to respect and agree with Huntington’s best-known hypothesis, expressed in The Clash of Civilizations as he described what he saw as the future of the geopolitical world order after the Cold War. His theory essentially predicted the emergence of Al Qaeda and ISIS. When Huntington wrote Who in 2004, I read it and considered his ideas.
My initial objections to considering immigration as a major issue were centered on facts such as; most Mexicans are strongly family-oriented, they work hard and most have strong religious beliefs – these facts are mostly true and a lot of Mexicans are indeed better people than a lot of Americans. Having lived in Texas for a few years I saw no issue with a bilingual society.
Huntington points out a few facts that make this wave of immigration a bit different than many in the past. The difference is the type of government we have now, the largesse the government doles out and the ability for progressives to simply buy the loyalty of new immigrants with public policy and social programs. (Huntington, 2004)
The fact is America is embroiled in a Cultural War for the very soul and future of the nation. As Pat Buchanan said in 1992 at the Republican National Convention:
“My friends, this election is about more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe, and what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as was the Cold War itself, for this war, is for the soul of America.”
To deny that we are in a Cultural War is impossible unless one ignores reality. To not accept that traditionalists and conservers of American foundational values have been losing steadily for several decades is dangerous.
Ann Coulter said in a PBS interview for Frontline in August that Trump was elected solely on the issue of immigration. He was the only Republican candidate that would forcefully campaign on the issue. To many ordinary Americans that want to see something traditional of America retained that was enough. Nobody on any of those debate stages really championed any of the real issues that matter to culture and values. If immigration reform was all they could get they would take Trump – despite his obvious flaws.
Immigration reform and control is an important issue precisely because America is embroiled in this battle for the future. Traditionalists have already been losing and most, if they are honest, know that the losses will be larger still to come. Stemming immigration and a ready pool of voters to support progressive issues is important from that perspective alone. Huntington in Who makes other arguments why it is important, but from a practical approach of simply slowing the loss, immigration reform is important.
I have become so keenly aware of the implications of traditional America losing the Cultural War, I recently completed a work I started some time ago and published a book – The Philosophy of Commonsense: A Cultural War Primer. The conclusion I reach in that book is that we will lose this stage of the Cultural War, America will fundamentally change in ways far faster and more extreme than anything we have seen in the last 60 years. But I contend the anti-wealth, social justice to extremes and attempts to force equality of outcomes will fail, miserably. At some point, I suspect in my children’s generation (Generation Z), people will look around and ask hard questions and seek a better way. If this is correct, we best pass on some of the knowledge and values we received from our parents and grandparents to help them craft better solutions.
I do not know Michele Malkin. In my very early blogging days in the mid-2000s, I read her blog, commented on hers and discussed some of what she said on mine.
I do know she is polemic and something of a problem for the radical progressive narrative; her being a brown-skinned woman that speaks some of the hardest truths does not fit, these words are supposed to come from old reactionary white guys, not a first-generation immigrant.
It seems Malkin has been and will further be silenced for a speech she made on 14 November 2019, specifically for the words below:
“Conservative Inkers now have their knives out for me, recycling Media Matters oppo research uncovering things I’ve never covered up in my reporting and advocacy on sovereignty issues over the last quarter-century. They want me to disavow Nick Fuentes and VDARE and Peter Brimelow and Faith Goldy and Gavin McInnes and the Proud Boys and Steve King and Laura Loomer and on and on. They want to do to me what they’ve done to brilliant academics who’ve told the truth – Amy Wax at the University of Pennsylvania and Darren Beattie and Jason Richwine and Steve Sailer.
No, I do not agree with every last thing they’ve said or written or published or tweeted or thought with their inside or outside voices. But I will not disavow any of them and I will not join the de-platforming witch hunters who hypocritically call themselves free speech and culture warriors. I disavow violence. I disavow hatred of America. I disavow the systematic bipartisan betrayal of American citizens, students, and families by cynical politicians who promised for 25 years to build a wall, end the diversity visa lottery, end chain migration, and other memorized talking points. I disavow Republicans who told us to hold our noses and vote for open borders sellouts because we support the Second Amendment and are against abortion and we had no other choice.”
This speech was to a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) in a college audience with the essential message of, “sorry kids, you must fight this fight”. That is the essential message of the book mentioned above that I just published.
Malkin is likely done at this point on the national stage, major media outlets will likely not have her on. She will be relegated to the “extreme” and become untouchable. This is the way with truth-tellers, particularly one whose ancestry and skin color are such a problem for progressives and wild-eyed radicals as Malkin.
Looking at the situation in retrospect, the title of her speech, The Torch is Being Passed, is ironic.
Huntington, S. P. (2004). Who are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=6xiYiybkE8kC.
President Donald J. Trump has decided to restore convicted SEAL Edward Gallagher’s pay grade to chief petty officer, overriding a decision last week by the Navy’s top admiral, both Navy Times and Fox News learned.
This trial, the revelations that came from it and I suppose the eventual outcome has deeply divided the SEAL community with groups such as “The Brotherhood” and “The Real Brotherhood” both arguing to represent the real deal in terms of what occurs and how it ought to be depicted. Believe it or not this discussion all began on a forum called the “Sewing Circle” but has spread far and wide. There have been hints and innuendo that folks on either side of the issue could come to violence in some distant future as scores are settled over perceived abandonment of some unspoken code.
It has been my argument for years that the military must find again a moral foundation. I argued as much in a paper called Moral Underpinnings of the Military Profession. The events that led to this trial are related to morality. In this case, the Navy was trying to self-correct and President Trump reversed that.
There is more of course. The SEALs as an organization have certainly demonstrated more than a small problem with discipline –cocaine, murder, etc. Perhaps this is a result of the SEALs taking on jobs in the Global War on Terror that they were not really designed or trained for, traditional Army SF roles, unconventional warfare (UW) in particular. Perhaps it is the fact that the SEALS recruit younger folks than the Army for such roles – folks with less experience and a greater thirst for personal glory. Maybe again it is a result of some of the inaccurate movies and books that became part of American culture over the last decade that push them to want to live out a dream that was never real. Whatever it is, it is undeniable that as an organization they have failed to keep to the path of the moral silent warriors that most perhaps hoped. This is not a slight on all, simply an observation of where the organization’s culture has gone.
I am personally saddened by President Trump’s action in this case. To those that much is given, much is expected.
It is dangerous to tell someone they are special, misunderstood and necessary and then pay them to do violence. Violence is necessary, special people to do that violence are necessary but the danger comes when there is a separation from foundational principles and isolation of the group. Us against them is a dangerous mindset.
It is for this very same reason that I recoil in horror when I hear a cop describe himself and a “SWAT Operator”. I could write pages about how ridiculous that term is and how little his skill set actually aligns with a real operator but here I will focus on how dangerous the mindset it. I simply do not want a guy working in my city, that might inadvertently come to my home all dressed up in black that thinks of himself as an “operator”. One does not have to look too far in the news to see where that sort of attitude leads.
President Trump should not have interfered with the military justice system for Gallagher. Any time a Soldier, Sailor or Marine fails morally there must be consequences. The same goes for local cops, whether they shoot someone they should not have out of fear for “officer safety” or do something more nefarious. When you give people guns and allow them to do violence the standards have to be high.
UPDATE: 7 November 2019
The Military Times reports today that President Trump is planning to issue the pardon on or around Veteran’s Day. The Times also reports that Defense Secretary Mike Esper has had “a robust” conversation this week with Trump about the issue.
Pardoning Gallagher is not about “taking care of the troops”. Quite the opposite, pardoning him insults those that go and do arduous things with honor. The testimony of his teammates and those that saw him in action should have been enough to convict him of crimes far worse than merely posing with a dead detainee. The body of evidence is pretty strong.
I understand the optics, the narrative that America asks people to go do violence and then makes criminals of them for doing so. I understand for many this seems like something Trump ought to do. I am telling you there is a vast difference between doing violence because it is required and doing it because you can. The first we need and sanction, the second we must punish. We need to reward true sheepdogs and weed out and punish wolves that pretend to be such.
A pardon is not the action Trump wants to take if he looks at the situation from a moral perspective.
What an interesting drama this has turned out to be.
Russia reports they detected no activity near the site where the US claims the operation occurred.
The US reports that Baghdadi “whimpered and cried” before blowing himself up in an underground tunnel.
In our world where truth seems to be an elusive commodity, we are left to wonder. Let’s consider the facts.
First, despite the fact that we might rightly not trust politicians and governments in general, because they do often lie, it is not common for the military to blatantly lie. Not a lie as in say something happened when it did not. The military will lie, has lied and does lie about the scope and nature of things – but generally not so far as to fabricate a complete fiction; not generally.
Second, it seems unlikely that if the operation occurred that one could actually know that Baghdadi whimpered and cried in a tunnel and that he actually blew himself up, as opposed to say perhaps someone else did the act of blowing those in the tunnel up. It is difficult to state unequvically that he did the whimpering and the blowing up of himself. These are small details but perhaps items that were just best to leave out of the narrative, as they diminish rather than enhance credibility. (yes, there exists technology that would make the knowing, or at least suspecting with a high degree of certainty, the facts of what occurred in the tunnel possible but this is still not relevant to the story).
The operation was reportedly conducted by Delta. These guys are not the ball bouncing amateur SEALS. It is highly unlikely there will ever be an interview, book or movie about this created with the cooperation of any SFOD-D team member. That is not how these guys operate.
It is possible if the reports are correct and the 75th Ranger Regiment provided cordon security for the operation, that some enterprising reporter might track down enough current members of the Ranger regiment and confirm or deny that such an operation occurred on the specified date. This will take time, those youngsters will not talk whilst they are still in the regiment if they hope to remain there.
It is likely this all occurred. It is likely the US suspected with a high degree of fidelity that Baghdadi was there and we are likely pretty confident he could not have escaped the cordon. It is logical to assume that he died.
It is just odd. If the event occurred and if the US government wanted to hold this out as a win why not exploit the site after the operation -of course, after the guys that conducted the event were extracted. Like we used to say when I was an OC/T, “pictures and video or it did not happen.” Why not allow and information operations and a combat camera crew a few moments on the site to document things after it was over? Why rush to dispose of Baghdadi in the ocean so soon after he died? More importantly, why even make a big deal of this at all. If you killed him, great, why talk about it?
I spent two rotations in the middle-east on a team that every evening geared up and departed our little base to hunt folks on a target list. Every night, as soon as it was dark until the early morning we were out raiding houses, blowing holes in walls, kicking in doors and detaining or killing big and small targets. (I was just a geek with some skills in geolocating, validating the target and exploiting some of the stuff left behind).
The thing about the guys on all these target lists, none of them are the villains from a James Bond movie. They are not super-geniuses, hiding out in lairs with extensive and technologically advanced defenses. They are not world-changing philosophers or thinkers that will change the nature of the world with their ideas. These are all just regular guys, many of them with good leadership skills, but regular guys that adhere to an ideology that is different than our own. It is like whack-a-mole, detain or kill one and another pops us. You simply cannot shift the center of gravity of an ideological fight by whacking a few moles.
Baghdadi was just a bigger, fatter mole. He was the leader of a group that did bad things and for that he deserved punishment. However, killing him will not change the world. He deserved to die, kill him and move on, making him out to be a supervillain, hero or a martyr simply inspires others to someday be him.
On the 16th of October, I went out on a limb and postulated that perhaps there was a bigger strategy and significant goings-on behind the scenes in the apparent sudden US withdrawal from Northern Syria. As facts have become clearer I believe I was wrong.
First, we learn that the troops leaving Syria that the US initially stated would move to Western Iraq, to be “in the neighborhood”, are not welcomed. US troops relocating from Syria have four weeks to stay in Iraq (Military Times, 23 October). Some news agencies report that Iraq went so far as to prepare official complaints to the UN regarding the movement of US troops into its territory. This demonstrates, pretty clearly, that there was no strategy, or plan and no coordination with Iraq. Perhaps at best there was an assumption but assumptions are bad planning.
The same thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time
We cannot say;
“they fight over there all the time, it is not our fight”
“We need to be close to keep things under control” (Western Iraq) and when that fails, “we need to send troops back to Syria.”
Either it is true that we have no compelling strategic interest in Syria that requires us to risk blood and treasure, OR, we do. In either case, the manner in which we have executed this honestly makes no reasoned sense. We cannot claim that both are at the same time true and false.
Is this all a result of the “Military-Industrial Complex” pushing back to keep the status quo?
Is it a result of what Ann Coulter called in a recent Frontline interview a phenomenon where Trump acts on the last piece of advice he gets and more hawkish voices got to him?
Is this the “3D Chess” that some apologists suggest?
Was this a result of the Intelligence and Military community’s propensity to see the boogeyman behind every rock and pushing to get back in the fight?
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Hours after VP Pence spoke today about China, Foreign Policy published a piece that laying out five takeaways.
“Linking Hong Kong and trade talks”
“Hong Kong is a living example of what can happen when China embraces liberty,” Pence said, before offering an unusual note of support for an official in an administration that has often been reluctant to embrace protest movements. “We are inspired by you,” he added. “Know that you have the prayers and the admiration of millions of Americans.”
“China is becoming a great cudgel in the culture wars”
“Some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China,” Pence said on Thursday. “In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime.”
“Settling the great ‘decoupling’ debate”
“People sometimes ask whether the Trump administration seeks to ‘decouple’ from China,” Pence said on Thursday. “The answer is a resounding ‘no.’”Rather than isolate Beijing, Pence said the United States seeks “engagement with China and China’s engagement with the wider world but engagement in a manner consistent with fairness, mutual respect, and the international rules of commerce.”
“Emphasizing the intellectual property theft debate”
“American enterprises continue to lose hundreds of billions of dollars each year in intellectual property theft.”
“The political meddling bugaboo”
“Beijing’s economic and strategic actions, its attempts to shape American public opinion, prove out what I said a year ago, and it’s just as true today: China wants a different American president.”
Obviously none of this is real news, it is really more of a slow reveal. The 2017 National Security Strategy mentioned China 33 times by name, twice as much as Obamas’s last version.  Trump’s NSS specifically called out China and identified mounting threats where Obama’s focused on engagement. Trump’s document, in short, called on all the domains of US power to compete and combat China in every area of importance. This was a nuanced but direct shift in US policy. VP Pence’s words today are merely part of a progressively elaborating articulation of this strategy.
Trump’s next NSS document is due out in 2020 and I suspect it will be less nuanced and more direct in relation to China.
If you are like me years ago you may not grasp the importance of the NSS document. I took public policy classes in college where it was discussed but I garnered it was merely another piece of government paperwork, perhaps more political than anything. It was really not until Command and General Staff College that I realized how important the document is. The moment it is released all the machinery of government stops, reads it, and shifts gears to operationalize the strategy. Every word, every sentence, the choice of words, all are important, nuanced and have great meaning. All the nations of the world read it too and plan and react accordingly. There is perhaps no piece of paper of greater importance released by a US president in the modern era. Before the 2017 document hit the streets parties internal and external to the government began lobbying for their version fo what the 2020 document should say.
For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others. China gathers and exploits data on an unrivaled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance. It is building the most capable and well-funded military in the world, after our own. Its nuclear arsenal is growing and diversi ing. Part of China’s military modernization and economic expansion is due to its access to the U.S. innovation economy, including America’s world-class universities.
2017 US NSS
In early 2018 the DoD released its National Defense Strategy one of the dozens of such documents that follow the release of the NSS and implement the strategy within various domains.
In June 2019, the DoD established a separate office to focus exclusively on China.
“The inward part [is] to help us drive alignment on China across the department as we carry out our National Defense Strategy and its implementation. … A lot of that is to help us internally, with the Joint Staff and the services, to make their respective decisions”
Randall Schriver, the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs 
This is the only such office at the DoD level focused exclusively on one country. Trump absolutely meant what he said in his NSS that China is his focus.
Trump’s 2020 budget reflects his focus on China.
To a remarkable degree, the 2020 Pentagon budget proposal is shaped by national security threats that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has summarized in three words: “China, China, China.”
The South China Morning Post reports that the US conducted four separate training operations in August and September focused on China. 
A sealift exercise designed to move heavy Army divisions
Joint land-to-ship missle exercises with Japan
US-Asean naval exercise with 10 pacific nations, Four of which – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – have territorial disputes with Beijing over the South China Sea.
I have personally argued for years that we were spending blood and treasure in the wrong places and focusing on the wrong goals strategically. If I were to be a hawk, I am not, I would have been hawkish on China for years. Whether this course is right or wrong, and I believe it is certainly part of what we should refocus on, only time will tell.
Herein I will argue points that many know as facts but seldom are the implications of these facts, taken together holistically, discussed for their wider meaning. China is a great power, historically and currently, and it is increasing in economic, diplomatic and military strength at a rapid pace. China benefits from a centralized system of governance that seems to be exercising realpolitik on the global stage in a masterful way. The country benefits from a homogeneous population, and in the case where homogeneity does not exists, such as the Uyghurs, China is currently undertaking drastic and brutal steps to stamp out nonconformity. Furthermore, China leads the world in the application of the use of technology to suppress dissent and disagreement, both within its borders and abroad.
These facts combine to make China a deadly enemy to the West, western culture and the idea of liberal democracy. The threat does not manifest directly through military action, the application of economic and soft-power is proving perfectly suited to the expansionary goals at the moment. If and when direct military conflict becomes a reality with the West it will simply be too late for western democracies to oppose it.
Let me state upfront I am certainly not an advocate of the methods and style of China. I state that their advantage of a centralized government and extensive social controls is such only because the West has failed to actually adhere to the principles of good governance and culture that would otherwise decide this growing conflict long before it began. The West lost its way long ago. We have toyed with progressivism and socialism but have not perfected it the way China has, thus we have a defective hybrid system – not quite the City on the Hill and not quite a socialist dystopia. We have dismissed the homogeneity of culture enforced by the Chinese in favor of a sort of diversity that creates pockets of dissent and disagreement at all levels – we simply cannot agree enough to compete with a monolith. In essence, all of the great ideas of Western Civilization regarding good governance based upon first principles have been abandoned for an ineffective hybrid system.
Chinese history begins perhaps around 2070 BC. This is an important fact from an analysis of current geopolitics because that long history informs and shapes the narrative of the Chinese people, as crafted by the Chinese government. It provides context, lessons, pride and patience. Throughout the history of China there have been ebbs and flows in terms of power, in the last century great embarrassment; in prior centuries moments of great invention in the arts and sciences. This feeds a narrative that builds a sense of expectation. The Chinese know they are a great people with great potential and the government makes full use of this.
Lessons from the Ming Dynasty and the Treasure Fleet
Between 1405 and 1433 China dispatched seven great treasure fleets to ports throughout the Indian Ocean. This merchant navy was unrivaled in the world, no other nation could conceive of building ships of the size and complexity contained within these seven fleets. The largest of these ships had a displacement of about 1/2 of a modern US aircraft carrier. The mission of these fleets was essentially shock and awe, they did not need to go get trade, anyone and everyone came to China to trade. This was a statement of great power. In 1433 the Ming Dynasty suddenly stopped sending the fleets and either burned the ships or allowed them to rot in harbor.
China then vastly expanded the Great Wall, passed laws to forbid further foreign trade via the sea and entered an internal period for almost 500 years. During this period China culturally became the China we recognize, Han, and it was still powerful. However, relative to the West, that power, in terms of technology wained. By the late 1800’s European powers were threatening China on the mainland. By the 1900’s the Chinese were being humiliated at home.
Two lessons derive from this.
First, from a Chinese perspective, the notion that soft-power must be pushed forward, throughout the world is important. No matter how many internal resources, no matter what program of internal improvements China must control or influence centers of power else it will be dominated again.
Perhaps a lesson Americans should take from this is similar. Building walls and disengaging will have long term consequences. Perhaps America needs a long period like the Chinese Qing Dynasty to get culture right. These are questions for another discussion. However, Chinese retraction in 1433 certainly had long-term, positive and negative consequences for the Chinese. (Building walls may be important to maintain order and respect the rule of law, the lesson to be taken is perhaps not against physical walls but rather against isolationism.)
The Way Ahead
I do not intend to overburden my arguments with the inclusion of multiple data points related to the Chinese economy. I would refer you to this Congressional Research Service report from Morch 2019. I would note that the numbers are grim but the assessment less grim, although not bright. The report writers see challenges for China in terms of local debt, I predict the centralized system and expanding economy will easily overcome these.
Areas of Chinese Advantage
The Road and Belt Initiative will continue to give China inroads and access to trade and resources throughout central Asia.
BRICs, the accumulation of physical gold and US dollars will threaten the current economic system and set the stage for a new one.
Industrial espionage, state-sponsored, will close the remaining technological gaps.
Parity and potential advantages in the Cyber domain will threaten to destabilize economies and societies.
Growing Chinese power and influence will – without a doubt – alter the nature of free speech, rights and the flow of information. This is already occurring and will only increase. China will rule, by default, areas of our life without ever firing a shot.
Lastly, the Chinese seem to have mastered two concepts that bode poorly for the ordinary man; state-supported capitalism and a strong central government. They have taken what was good of the Soviet Union and dispensed with the bad and taken from the West the engine that makes an economy grow while avoiding any of the political philosophies that might protect the citizen. If their model works, if their system wins, 1984 is conceivably within the future of mankind.
First, China’s stated strategic goals coupled with a marshaling of state resources to achieve that goal will close the current gap quickly.
Second, and more worrying. China will likely develop quantum computing first. Quantum computing will change everything. The playing field that exists prior to the first quantum computer going online will simply not matter. The first nation to develop this technology wins. Developing one second or third may actually not matter so much – as soon as a quantum computer comes online all secrets, industrial, military and others are vulnerable.
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