The Gun Debate – Open Thread

Obama and Progressives are calling for “sensible gun laws” as if that is the problem. They continue to demonize the NRA as if that is the problem. They continue to conflate radical Islamists with the isolated deranged American criminal, as if that is a moral equivalency. And they dare not speak one word of condemnation toward inner city gang violence, nor judge those who perpetrate those crimes for fear of constituency backlash. In summary, Obama and Progressives are not at all addressing the actual problem, which is typical, hence the absolute mess we find ourselves in. In short, we have to stop listening to Progressives.

The problems we face in this country and in this world are due to the absence of well armed, law abiding, decent people, not the presence of them. On the world stage, the problem is that the Radical Islamic Jihadists are better armed, more focused, and more brutal than those who want a peaceful existence. The Kurds need more weapons, the peaceful Sunni’s and Shiite’s need more weapons, and countries like Jordan and the UAE need more forceful support. We need more weapons to confront and defeat the Islamists, not less. And we need to be more brutal. This is not a war where you take prisoners. This is a war where you kill as many of them as you possibly can until they realize that they can not win. You want to close Gitmo? Fine. Put a bullet in the head of the remaining prisoners and burn the place to the ground. Case closed.

Domestically, we need more weapons in the hands of law abiding Americans so that they can protect themselves from the deranged gun man, or from the increasing threat of radicalized Muslims. And we need to clean out the cesspools of our inner cities and give those people hope of a better future. Make sure that children have a stable home with two parents, make sure they have school choice and a good education, make sure they have clean and decent housing, make sure they are not living in a drug and gang infested neighborhood, and make sure they have the opportunity for a good paying job and the opportunity to lift themselves up. And these are conservative ideals, not progressive ideals, and that is why Governorships and State Legislatures have increasingly gone conservative in the last 8 years, and that is why the White House will be conservative in January 2017.

Getting it Wrong About Free Speech and Fear

First off, sorry for the no-posts – I was out of town for a week, so I’m a little behind the commentary curve here. On the other hand, it gave me time to better digest things – and see what everyone else is saying. And what everyone else is saying appears wrong to at least some degree.

Let us clear one thing up: we are afraid. All of us. We are all afraid of the radical Islamists. It would be the height of stupidity not to be afraid of them. They kill people at the drop of a hat, for crying out loud. Of course you’re afraid of people like that. I’m sure my dad was afraid of the Germans and the Japanese in 1944. Here’s the thing, though – in response to this terrible, heart-rending fear of what the Germans and the Japanese might do, he joined the United States Marine Corps. At the age of 17, I should add – you know, in our terms that means he was 9 years shy of being an adult. Still joined up. There were bad people out there who wanted to do horrible things to all my father held dear – his mother and his father and his brothers and his sisters and his country. Off he went. Fortunately to come back alive. A bit north of 330,000 men just like him – who were also afraid – didn’t come back.

That was a different America, of course. In 2015, we are seeing two different responses to the fear, both of them wrong.

On the one hand, we have our Ruling Class – especially in the MSM and including many on the right – who have decided that the best response to their fear is to try and hide. This is where you get the people who say, I love free speech, but… If you put a “but” after something, it probably means you’re full of it. If you love something – seriously love something – then the actual thing you are saying is I will kill and die in defense of it. Someone who says, I love my wife, but…is probably someone headed for divorce court. Such a person doesn’t really love his wife. He’s trying to get the credit which accrues to someone who shows willing to die for a person or cause without, you know, actually risking anything in defense of the allegedly beloved person or cause. Our Ruling Class – logically afraid of people who kill pretty much at random for no actually justifiable reason – wants the credit for being defenders of freedom, but doesn’t want to defend freedom, because defending freedom might get you killed. So we get these cowardly statements which essentially condemn the victims of the Islamist radicals – from the same sorts of people who are always saying Christians and Jews have to take it on the chin in the interests of free speech.

The other – equally wrong – response is to go about provoking these lunatics. Oh, I know – a lot of people who will, say, draw a cartoon insulting Mohammed will be all, “well, I got my guns; let them Islamists come at me!”. Well, what if they come after you at the mall and I’m standing next to you? What if I’m your neighbor and the Islamists get the wrong house? There’s plenty I’m willing to put my life on the line for but most assuredly not so that someone can hurl insults. Freedom is the ability to do the right thing – not the ability to do whatever we darn well please. It isn’t right to insult people. Ever. Not even if they are really mean and nasty people. Look at it like this – suppose I spent an hour just yelling at you all manner of disgusting insults and when you’ve finally had enough, you come at me…and then (by some miracle; and trust me, it would be) I beat you in the fight. Am I a hero? Did I do a grand thing? Nope. I just caused a ruckus – and I didn’t even get my proper reward for being a jerk. Yes, you are perfectly free to say or draw whatever pleases you as far as I’m concerned. I’ll agree to no law or regulation or anything which would get any government agency to stop you from saying what you please. But if you’re being an insulting jerk, then you’re being an insulting jerk – take the consequences…and for pity’s sake, take them when I’m out of range.

We do need to confront and defeat the Islamist radicals. It is a crucial campaign for the safety of our civilization – and, indeed, for the safety of Muslim civilization. What we should be saying is how we’ll get that job done. That is the proper subject for free people to discuss…not whether someone should draw a cartoon of Mohammed and whether or not free speech covers such a thing. Drawing Mohammed or condemning a drawing of Mohammed gets us nowhere. It neither builds public understanding of the threat we face, nor does it produce plans and means for defeating the threat. It gets us into an endless, pointless argument while the enemy builds his forces and perfects his plans for our undoing. In fact, all we’re doing right now is doubly playing into the Islamists hands – by drawing insulting pictures of Mohammed we feed his propaganda among the Muslim people and by craven condemnations of the drawings we explicitly state to the enemy that we’re a bunch of cowards, easy to beat.

We’ve got to get serious about this. The stakes are high – indeed, they are absolute. We win or they win. There’s no in between. We won’t win by being cowards on one hand and hurling mindless insults on the other. This is not about free speech. This is about a justified fear of a ferocious and determined enemy. What we do with that fear decides what happens. I guess dad could have drawn an insulting picture of Hitler, or explained away the Bataan Death March…might have occupied some time. But it wouldn’t have stopped the Japanese or the Germans.

By the Way: You Can’t Win With Nothing

In the end, you have to believe in something – those who believe in nothing are easy prey:

Michael Nikolai Skråmo, who also calls himself Abo Ibrahim Al Swedi, appears in the propaganda video wearing desert camouflage and clutching an assault rifle, and proceeds to give practical and motivational encouragement to would-be jihadis.

“My brothers, ‘hijra’ (migration) and ‘jihad’ are so simple. It only costs a few thousand ‘lapp’ [Swedish kronor],” he says in Swedish. “Do you not wish in in your heart to fight and show God what you have to offer him? The door to jihad is standing there waiting for you. It’s the fastest way to Jannah [Paradise].”

Skråmo, who has two Norwegian parents but was born and grew up near Gothenburg in Sweden is understood to have moved to Raqqah, the capital of the fledgling Islamic State in Syria, back in September with his wife and two children, hoping to fight alongside Islamic State soldiers…

The man is a Swede of Norwegian extraction. He was born and raised in Sweden. He had every opportunity a rich, western, socialist nation can provide with a lavish welfare State. He converted to Islam and is now willing to sell his life – and the lives of his family – in order to advance his faith. Why? Well, why not? What does life in Sweden offer? A chance for more welfare? More degraded pop culture? Multicultural mish-mash bull by the truck load? Who in Sweden ever offered him the chance to rise above narrow self-interest and subordinate himself to a cause? No one. ISIS did – and they got him now. This sort of thing shocks a lot of people – it doesn’t shock me. I know that if you don’t believe in something, you’ll fall for anything.

I believe in the Christian God and the Roman Catholic Church. I believe in the Declaration of Independence. There’s not a chance in heck you’ll ever find me fighting for the crazed barbarians of ISIS…but the endless number of westerners who believe in nothing? They might very well – because something always beats nothing. As I noted before, only believers will beat ISIS…in other words, only people who offer something rock-solid in opposition to ISIS can prevail…

HAT TIP: The Gateway Pundit

Only Believers Can Beat the Islamists

Quite a long time ago, Hilaire Belloc wrote, “the Faith is Europe and Europe is the Faith”. To be sure, what Belloc specifically meant by “Faith” was the Roman Catholic Church, but it can be expanded to mean Christianity in a more general sense. While many streams of civilization flowed into the continent of Europe to help make it into Europe, the crucial thing about it was it’s Christian faith. Europe was not a mere development out of the Greco-Roman civilization which, in any case, never extended to Germany, Poland, the Baltic nations, Russia, Ireland and Scandinavia.

It was the Catholic Church – or Christianity if using the word “Catholic” causes discomfort – which welded the flotsam of barbarian invaders and the ruins of Greece and Rome into a completely new civilization. It was Christianity which stamped Europe in a particular manner and got it thinking in a certain way. It was because of Christianity that there was a decline and eventual termination of human slavery. It was because of Christianity that people starting thinking of the world as a rational place which human reason could come to understand (the Greeks did make a start at this, but failed to develop the scientific method…it took Christians to make that step). It was because of Christianity that the worth of a human being ceased to be a mere expression of his social position. It was because of Christianity that things were rendered to Caesar, but not all things. You can look endlessly through human history and you won’t find anywhere but in Christendom (though pre-figured strongly in Judaism) that mix of the worth of the individual, the limitation of the State and the rational approach to the world which we have come to think the normal state of human existence. It did not come into being of its own accord – it was created and fostered over a thousand years by Christians. And, now, it is nearly gone.

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We’re Going to Semi-War Against ISIS

Which means, of course, that we will Total-Lose:

President Barack Obama will soon give Congress his proposal for a new authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State fighters, and it will place strict limits on the types of U.S. ground forces that can be deployed, according to congressional sources.

Almost six months after the president began using force against the Islamic State advance in Iraq and then in Syria, the White House is ready to ask Congress for formal permission to continue the effort. Until now, the administration has maintained it has enough authority to wage war through the 2001 AUMF on al-Qaeda, the 2002 AUMF regarding Iraq and Article II of the Constitution. But under pressure from Capitol Hill, the White House has now completed the text of a new authorization and could send it to lawmakers as early as Wednesday.

If enacted, the president’s AUMF could effectively constrain the next president from waging a ground war against the Islamic State group until at least 2018. Aides warned that the White House may tweak the final details before releasing the document publicly…

It must be kept in mind that Obama’s policies are based upon the theory that the Middle East is screwed up largely because of American power – that if we hadn’t been messing things up for the last 60 years, things would be fine. ISIS, in Obama’s view, is the natural outgrowth of all the nasty things we’ve done (and Israel has done, as well). The best outcome that Obama can see is that by currying favor with nations like Iran while distancing ourselves from Israel, the people of the Middle East will see that we’re on their side and will start to moderate their views about us. ISIS, though, is a problem – as it gets all head-choppy, pressure comes on Obama to do something. The pressure, to Obama, is stupid – it comes from people who don’t appear to realize that from the Crusades until now, we’ve done the Middle East wrong. But, it has to be dealt with – and what better way to deal with it than to pretend to fight ISIS while the real action is in making a deal with Iran?

So, we’ll get this new authorization to use force and we’ll get a bit of bombing and such…and Obama and minions will keep up the happy talk that ISIS is being degraded, etc. but, meanwhile, nothing which will actually destroy ISIS is going to be done. Which means that no matter how much we hit them – and there will be a lot of battering of ISIS going on – we won’t get rid of them. In fact, what we’re likely to do is make heroes out of them…to them, it will appear that they are manfully and successfully standing up to the most powerful nation on earth. If they survive, at all, then it is a sublime victory. And survive they will, unless an army goes into ISIS territory and roots out the ISIS fanatics step by step. This is not what Obama proposes to do – and it appears he wants to prevent his successor from doing, as well.

Are you ready for the next two years people? It is just going to get worse and worse…

Hey, Obama: About Those Crusades

If there’s one thing which irritates me about the left – in general – it is their rank ignorance of history. It is hard to get someone on the left to properly understand what happened even a few years ago – when they were alive and presumptively noticing things happening – let alone anything which happened more than a few decades ago. Now, to be sure, there are a few historical events that the left has latched on to in order to justify their world view…one of them is the Crusades.

To the left, the Crusades were just wanton cruelty – hordes of Christian bigots went into Muslim lands to kill, steal and destroy everything in their path. This was done in the name of religion and, so, religion is bad. This isn’t even a childish view of history – this is a view of history entirely divorced from historical fact. Bring up to a liberal the fact that, for instance, Egypt was once entirely Christian and only became Muslim after the Muslims conquered Egypt in an imperialist war – and then forced, over time, the population to become Muslim, or suffer – and you’ll get a blank stare, or immediate reference to one of the other things liberals heard about: the Inquisition (we’ll deal with that issue some other time). There is just no knowledge on the left of what happened – nor any desire to know what happened because the facts just get in the way of the Narrative.

But, still, I just want to enter into the record, as it were, that the Crusades were a defensive war against a rapacious, cruel enemy who attacked Christian civilization without reason. To give an idea of the flavor of the Muslim way of war, here’s a passage from The Hapsburgs: Portrait of a Dynasty by Edward Crankshaw:

The Turks were not nice fighters. They burned and massacred for the love of it, not in the heat of battle or victory, not in drunken rioting, but in cold blood and under precise instructions from their command. In Perchtoldsdorf, for instance, just outside Vienna, the townspeople and refugees from the surrounding countryside had taken refuge in the church and barricaded it. The Turks first burned down the little town, then sent an envoy to the church to promise safe-conduct to all inside on payment of a certain sum. The pasha in command sat himself down on a red carpet in the ruins of the village square and demanded that the keys of the church and the ransom money be brought to him by a fair-haired virgin who should carry a flag of truce and wear a crown of flowers. The village bailiff’s seventeen-year-old daughter was chosen to lead the way. As the villagers emerged into the light of day they were disarmed and seized. The men were slaughtered on the spot. The pasha reserved to himself the pleasure of killing the unfortunate young girl. The rest of the women and children were sent back to Turkey to be sold as slaves…

That was in 1683, quite a long time after the Crusades – but conquering Muslim armies were like that from the start. Just read up a bit on the captures of Constantinople or Famagusta. At Famagusta, after enduring a siege of 13 months, the Christians were offered terms – surrender and be allowed to leave. And so, in good faith, they surrendered. Nothing doing. Marco Antonio Bragadin, the commander, was flayed alive and his skin stuffed with straw and then sent on to the Turkish Sultan as a trophy; the rest of the Christian population was massacred. It is small wonder that when faced with enemies like this, Christian armies were often ungentle with Muslims when they defeated them.

The Crusades, themselves, were a counter-attack. For four hundred years the Christians had been attacked and forced ever back. One Muslim army made it to central France before being turned back. Muslims were continually boasting of their desire to conquer all of the Christian west – and often making good on their boast as one Christian nation after another fell to Muslim arms. The immediate spur to the Crusades was the Muslim victory over the Christian Greek Byzantines at Manzikert in 1071…with that defeat, the Byzantine Empire was rocked on its heels and no one could say that the Greeks, who had barred the door to Muslim conquest in Europe for 400 years, would be able to stem the tide. An army was needed to redress the balance – and an army was provided: the Crusaders.

In the end, the stated purpose of the Crusades – the recovery of the Holy Land – was a failure. But by projecting power into the heart of Islam and fighting them there, Europe received some breathing room. Time to continue the reconquest of Spain and time for Europe’s nations to become powerful enough to repel the Muslim onslaught when, at long last, the Muslims finally conquered the Byzantines in the middle of the 15th century. They still made the running for a while – conquering Greece, Serbia and Hungary before running up against the rock of resistance known as Vienna. In 1683 they made their last try, as described in that quote above. Only the timely arrival at Vienna of a Polish army commanded by the hero-King Jan Sobieski saved the day, and in the nick of time – Vienna’s defenses were breached the day before the Poles rode in to battle and scattered the Muslim army.

All of that was a long time ago. Let no one say that what happened in the 11th century justifies any action taken in the 21st century. The Muslims have their gripes, but the graves of Europeans in Austria and France attest to the fact that non-Muslims also have their gripes.

May We Please Fight ISIS, Now?

How about it? And I’m mostly looking at you, liberals – from Obama on down. And especially, at the moment, all you liberals who were outraged by American Sniper…somehow getting mad that an American soldier was killing these sorts of people in battle. Can we fight them, now? Or is the burning of a Jordanian pilot just all Bush’s fault and so we should get on to discussions about micro-aggressions and man-spreading?

Getting back to American Sniper for a moment, a lot of liberals didn’t like the fact that Chris Kyle referred to our enemies as “savages”. Well, boys and girls, Chris Kyle was clearly undiplomatic, but he was just as clearly telling the truth. I don’t care what Israel has done. I don’t care what the United States has done. I don’t care what anyone has done since the beginning of time which was wrong, nothing justifies putting a man in a cage and burning him alive. Or throwing a gay man off a building (and then stoning him to death when the fall from the building doesn’t kill him). Or strapping a bomb on a ten year old girl and sending her into a market. Or enslaving girls and women. Nothing justifies that. That isn’t blowback for anything. That is just savagery. That is brutality. That is inhumanity – and the only thing anyone with a spine and a heart wants is that it be stopped…and with not too many questions asked about just how stopping it is accomplished.

Jordan has reportedly executed two jihadists who had been held for unrelated crimes. Technically, this is an injustice. But what in heck else are they to do? ISIS considers everyone non-ISIS to be lower than filth – one thing everyone has learned now is that you can’t be taken prisoner by ISIS. At best you’ll be enslaved. Anyone fighting ISIS now has just one rule – fight until dead.

As of right now, we can probably make short work of ISIS without too great an expenditure of effort. This isn’t about rebuilding Iraq or Syria, or fostering democracy in the area. This is nothing but the elimination of a force dedicated to carrying out evil deeds. A couple regiments of Marines and/or Airborne troops, backed up with air power and Special Forces combined with fully armed Kurdish troops (the Kurds do seem pretty decent – they ain’t perfect, but better by far than ISIS) should be able to crush these savages. Once done, we don’t stick around. Let those there post-ISIS work it out – or fight it out – amongst themselves. We’d just be lending a hand to destroy something that needs to be destroyed…and the sooner the better. And while doing it, let no one get too finicky about things. I’d fully expect the Kurds – and others – to take a pound of flesh out of any ISIS fighters they capture. I wouldn’t agonize greatly over any particular actions our troops do. The enemy is not very nice and will do nasty things which would inevitably place our troops in a position where bad things would happen. War against savages is like that.

Or, we can just ignore it. It’ll get worse, of course. But at least it won’t disturb us. Right?

Make a Deal With Assad?

So opines Leslie Gelb over at the Daily Beast – also noting that we’d have to do some sort of deal with Iran, while also keeping Saudi Arabia and Turkey on-side. Which is, well, a rather muddleheaded thing to try because, just as one for-instance, Iran and Saudi Arabia are not going to see eye to eye as long as their respective government’s are in power.

Now, as far as rat-bastards go in the Middle East, Assad is certainly not the worst, though he is pretty darned bad. In choosing what to do in that area, any where we turn we’re going to be dealing with nefarious characters. The question is which nefarious characters do we want to deal with, supposing we want a deal?

You see, we don’t actually have to be deeply involved at the moment in the area. To be sure, leaving it to fester in it’s own nastiness will carry the risk that some of the nastiness will be directed our way – vast numbers of people over there live for the day when they can kill lots of Americans. I’m sure ISIS has already got at least some preliminary plans to hit us – though being tied down in head-chopping, slave-dealing and attempted conquest, they probably can’t spare the time for us at the moment. We can pull back right now – and, in fact, under Obama it is probably better that we do so, given his complete incomprehension of the realities of power politics in the global arena. But even a hard-headed realist can make the argument that a U.S. withdrawal is a good course of action for the moment.

That argument goes like this: the American people don’t want to fight over there right now. The various factions fighting for power and influence all have, at best, grave doubts about us and, at worst, bitter enmity. For a variety of reasons, our post-9/11 campaign in the Middle East has failed and our prestige is at rock bottom in the Middle East. Getting our people out of there takes the immediate pressure off us – and by getting out of there, I mean all of us…troops, aid workers, diplomats, etc. If we really feel the desperate need to keep some sort of U.S. presence in a particular Middle Eastern nation (say, in places like Turkey, Jordan, Egypt), then it should be as small as possible. Essentially, don’t leave many American targets for the Islamists to attack. As we have recently proved, we’ve got enough oil and natural gas here at home so that even a complete collapse of oil production in the area can be endured…we’d be up to $5 a gallon gas, but as we recently paid $4 a gallon, we’d survive (and, of course, no one who attains any power over there is really going to cut off the oil spigot completely). As we are no longer involved, the blame for what happens there will less and less accrue to us and if there is an attack on us from the Middle East, the political will for war will swiftly return to the American body politic.

But we’re going to stay, of course, because inertia in politics is like that – we’ve been there, we are there, and so we’re going to keep on being there. And suppose Obama came down with a case of the ‘flu and had to spend a week in bed and during that time someone slipped him a copy of, say, Churchill’s The World Crisis or Hanson’s The Father of Us All and so Obama finally learned a thing or two about how the world works? We then might be able to proceed to a policy of U.S. engagement which isn’t stupid. And in an engagement policy which isn’t stupid, what is the best course of action?

Quite simply, it is to find a power player who can be purchased by us – and that does indicate Assad more than anyone else. His Iranian allies have not been able to restore his fortunes in Syria and he might be in the market for a new friend who can help out. Of course, he’d have to change his tune on a few things. We can’t expect him to do something enormous like make peace with Israel – but there is much he can do.

First off, no longer allow his territory to be a conduit of aid to the Iran-backed Islamists in Lebanon. Also, no longer keep any of his troops in Lebanon, thus freeing up that nation to be at least neutral in the various conflicts in the region…demilitarized, Jihadist sent packing or into the hereafter. Still a Muslim nation making rote denunciations of Israel and the United States, but no longer a subsidiary of Tehran and Islamism.

Secondly, part of Syria is going to have to become autonomous Christian areas…with Christian militias ostensibly under Syrian command, but really existing to keep Islamists out of Christian territory. It isn’t going to be much territory, but it has to be enough for Christians to live on in peace and security…and as they’ll be set up to lack heavy weapons, they’ll never constitute a threat to the existence of the Syrian government. Think of it as being akin to the Kurdish area of Iraq before everything fell apart in that nation.

Third, he’d have to amnesty those parts of the rebels who are not the full on, head-choppy Islamist fanatics…and incorporate them into his army and offer them a genuine seat at the power table in Syria. Not a full democracy – such is not really possible – but with veto power over government proposals which directly effect their lives. This new Syrian army – no longer being just the personal following of the Assad family – could then, with US air and some ground support (mostly special forces types), probably make short work of the biggest problem in Syria – the ISIS goons. Once the are taken care of, Assad gets U.S. aid to rebuild Syria and lines up with us against Iran in the regional balance of power.

Carried out with vigor and a keen eye to realities, such a policy could bring immense security relief to Israel (we might even be able to get Israel to give back a symbolic portion of the Golan: they can’t give it all back for security reasons, of course), free up Lebanon and turn Syria from long-term enemy to at least temporary friend – friend at least during the impending crisis of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and attempting to make Iraq a satrapy of Tehran…and if the deal can also be worked that the Kurdish areas of Syria are joined to those of Iraq in a new Republic of Kurdistan, then we’ve picked up three dominoes in the area and are in a much better position to confront Iran as well as an increasingly hostile Turkey. We’d also be less strategically dependent on Saudi Arabia and so we could start to systemically detach ourselves from the Saudis…until such time as they really feel the pressure from Iran and are willing to, well, not be quite so stoning-people, owning-slaves, flogging-bloggers sorts of people.

Of course, we’ll end up doing neither – we won’t get out, we won’t go in sensibly. So, get prepared for the worst of all worlds in the Middle East.

Thinking About “American Sniper”

First off, let me just say the movie is emotionally devastating. It is a very powerful movie – and very gritty. It is not at all for kids – or, indeed, for anyone who has trouble with not so much violence, as a thing, but the horrific reality of what counter-insurgency warfare is like.

The movie is not about a hero so much as it is about how a man – just an average man – deals with events which force him to be heroic. Bradley Cooper, as Chris Kyle, plays a sort of man I’ve known in my life. For one, the man who recruited me into the United States Navy; a Navy SEAL of Vietnam-era vintage. I’ve met a few others of the type over the years. Quiet, calm men who are dedicated to defending those who cannot defend themselves. You have to think about it for a moment when you’re with them – the knowledge that they know how to kill and will kill without hesitation if they believe it necessary. Men who are also, as depicted in the movie, pursued by what they have done long after it is over – the man who recruited me dealt with it by making a big joke out of life (I’ll never forget the gales of laughter he had while telling me the story of his father – trouble was, it was about how his father, a submariner in the Navy, was accidentally killed by a torpedo).

The story also gets into how the families of these men are forced to live in desperate fear of what will happen; how they still have to keep up a brave front to the world while they are worried sick; how when the warrior comes home, they are often dealing with a person who is at least partially broken by the terrible events endured.

But as I’ve pondered the movie over the last 24 hours, what has most struck me is that when we engage in war – when we send men like Chris Kyle out to do battle – then we’d better be in it to win it; and we should be doing it vastly different from how we’ve done it. You see, Chris Kyle’s job was to protect his fellow soldiers by using his sniper rifle to kill the enemy before the enemy could kill our troops. But in a counter-insurgency campaign, such a job means that the sniper will have to make snap decisions on who lives and dies…and then live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of his life. One thing I would now prefer for all time to come is that if we have to go to war, we don’t go into that particular kind of war.

You see, the enemy knows us – and knows our weakest point: our desire not to harm. In our desire to be nice (can’t think of a better word), I think we do a disservice to ourselves and, in the end, end up with more harm than we need. The sort of people we fight – and the sort of people we’ll always fight for the foreseeable future – are brutes. They care nothing for human lives. They deliberately hide themselves among civilians knowing that when we come to kill, we’ll kill at least some of the civilians and those dead – which are 100% the fault of the enemy – will be blamed on us. Mogadishu is the battle plan at all times – draw Americans into built up areas, set bombs and ambushes and just wait for civilians to be caught in the cross-fire. Chris Kyle dealt with that through four tours of duty. No more of that, as far as I’m concerned. If we must fight, we’re not to fight the way the enemy wants.

I would never agree to sending Americans into a house-to-house battle to clear out terrorists dug in among civilians. If we’re ever faced with something like Fallujah, again, then I say we just properly besiege the place, allow no one in or out, no food in, and just wait for them to starve into surrender. Yes, people will die. Yes, some of them will be civilians. But they won’t die because of cross fire between us and a barbaric enemy…and when the enemy does come out to stack arms, and he will because starvation will do that to you, the world will know and see that the enemy surrendered to us…coming out, hands in the air, into our prison camps. I’m tired of fighting the war the way the enemy wants. When we send the like of Chris Kyle into battle, I want them to win it all with an enemy begging for peace…not coming home after a nasty fight to deal with PTSD while idiots at home condemn them for fighting.

God rest your soul, Chris Kyle – and may God cast His blessings upon you and your fellow warriors.

Yes, There are Limits

There’s been a lot of back and forth on this since the Charlie Hebdo attack, and now Pope Francis has chimed in:

Pope Francis suggested there are limits to freedom of expression, saying in response to the Charlie Hebdo terror attack that “one cannot make fun of faith” and that anyone who throws insults can expect a “punch.”

The pontiff said that both freedom of faith and freedom of speech were fundamental human rights and that “every religion has its dignity.”

“One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” he said. “There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity … in freedom of expression there are limits.”

The pope was speaking to reporters on a plane as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines on his tour of Asia…

Over at Ace, they are little disappointed about this. Allahpundit is also not too pleased. I’ve seen over the past week plenty of comments from conservative and libertarian people who are really not thinking this thing through. To be sure, there is the understandable desire to defend against Islamists who, after all, will kill us no matter what we do – but just because we’re dealing with people like that doesn’t mean we have no responsibility for our own actions. Too many people are getting themselves into the position that unless we applaud the most vile expressions, we are letting the terrorists win. There’s a word for that – but I won’t use it, because it is vulgar and might cause offense…and because I’m someone making failing, weak efforts at being a Christian gentleman, I try not to be offensive.

I’m five feet, seven inches tall. I weigh about 175 pounds. I’m not exactly of the body-builder sort. Now, suppose I had a neighbor who is six feet, six inches tall; weighs about 280 and bench presses cars. I take a dislike to this neighbor because he’s a jerk – and I express my views about him by drawing insulting pictures of him and posting them on a board out in front of my house. Now, to be sure, my gigantic neighbor – who is a jerk, as I said – should still take my insults in stride. There is no actual justification for him to pound me into a pulp because I drew unflattering pictures of him. On the other hand, if I did get pounded into a pulp, how many of you would be thinking – at least – that I shouldn’t have been writing checks my body can’t cash? Even if you called the police to have the man arrested and were willing to testify against him in court because, still, he shouldn’t have pounded me, wouldn’t any reasonable person say that I had played a role in bringing on the pounding? There are plenty of ways I can deal with a jerk – including if really pressed to it, fighting. But if I’m going to fight, then I’d better be ready to fight. If I’m not prepared to actually fight, then maybe I should seek other means of redress? Thinking is a very important part of deciding what to do.

In our definition of free speech there is no license to print whatever you want. You might have heard the word “libel” from time to time. Also, the famous “you can’t shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” exception is well known. Even in good, old, First Amendment USA, there is no absolute right to say what one pleases. We have these reasonable restrictions on free speech because they are, well, reasonable. Of course, this still allows a very wide latitude for people to write things – and in the United States, we tend to have the widest latitude in the world. And this is a good thing – a thing I would die in the last ditch to defend. There was nothing legally wrong in what Charlie Hebdo printed. No reasonable person in the United States – or even in France, for that matter – would want Charlie Hebdo shut down over the offensive cartoons. Furthermore, no reasonable person would assert a right of the offended party to do violence against Charlie Hebdo for their offensive cartoons. There is no justification for what happened – and if it had happened in the United States and the perpetrators were caught and brought to trial, I would be only too pleased to pronounce a guilty verdict against them in court…nor would I shed tears if the perpetrators wound up killed by the police, as the French perpetrators ultimately did. But with all those caveats, I still have to say – as unpopular as it might be – that Charlie Hedbo did play a role in bringing on the attack. And they played that role without having made any provision for repelling an attack. I’m guessing because they never imagined that there would be such an attack – or, perhaps, they thought that the French government, which has been slack as all European governments, would protect them?

Choose your battles: that is an old saw; but none the less wise for having been used often. People who have read my stuff over the years know that I’m on board with fighting Islamist terrorists. In fact, I’m in favor of much more vigorous war than we’re doing – and even much more vigorous war than President Bush engaged in. I’m incensed on a regular basis at the crimes of the Islamists – especially, these days, the horrific massacres of Christians. I’d like us to really take the fight to the enemy. But I’m not going to sit here and just write nasty things about Muslims and think I’m doing something against Islamist terrorism. It might make a person feel good – though I really can’t imagine why – to do such things, but I don’t see any point in it. All it does is take our eye off the ball and, additionally, provide additional recruiting tools for the very people we want destroyed. We are, indeed, supposed to be better than the enemy – true, we should be physically stronger and better able to apply force against them, but we should also be more just, more merciful and more respectful of their innate, human dignity. Better. You see?

We’re doing it all wrong, in my view. Obama and the liberals are wrong in that they believe that Muslims are the offended party and if we’ll just show forbearance, they’ll quit. Plenty of conservatives are wrong in that they believe if we just give brag and insult and drop bombs, they’ll quit. Other people are a combination of these things. Me? I want to win the war. I want Islamism destroyed. To do that will take intelligence, foresight, courage and a fine and sensitive touch with the great mass of the Muslim people.

Of course, our real handicap is that far too many people in the West – and probably a majority; especially in Europe – don’t really believe in anything. They don’t believe in honesty. Don’t believe in decency. Don’t believe in self-sacrifice. All they want is their creature comforts and a life free from responsibility – and they’ll bury their heads as deep in the sand as necessary to live like that. We’re easy pickings for people like the Islamists – I am the person entirely unsurprised when Western people volunteer to join them. People, if they are not utterly craven, want to believe. We in the West offer nothing to believe in – just more gadgets and more moral disintegration. Those in the West who do have good beliefs are ridiculed, and absurdly compared to the terrorists, as well. A kid who has been taught to believe in nothing worthy – who, indeed, has been told that worthy beliefs are flat out wrong – and who has been fed a steady diet of nonsense is especially prone to fall for the first charlatan who comes along.

The Islamists offer something to believe in, and a lot of people go for it – and that we know it is stupid and destructive doesn’t alter our position or our peril. The Islamists are not the first people to sucker large numbers into doing evil, while thinking they are doing good. Ultimately, we won’t win this war unless we start to believe in something superior to the Islamists. We’d better figure out real quick who we are and what we believe. Defending a vulgar, little paper like Charlie Hebdo won’t do the trick – in fact, it is our celebration of such that is at the heart of our problem. It is a sign of strength if we tolerate such things in our midst, it is suicide if we praise such things…and while a collection of liberals apparently had a long held feeling of hate towards Charlie Hedbo, that was more a function of cowardice than a desire for standards of decency…we know this because the only thing liberals didn’t like about Charlie Hedbo was that it insulted Islam. This is just a species of “please cut my throat last” cowardice. If we were a people who condemned Charlie Hebdo for all its insults – you know, including the insults against Jews and Christians – while never making a move to suppress it, then we would be morally healthy, and better able to fight and win against Islamists. But that would also be a people who condemned 80%+ of what is in popular culture these days.

I’m getting a little long in the tooth at age 50. No one in their right mind is going to place me on the battlefield – but I assure one and all that I am ready to defend Judeo-Christian, Western civilization. I’m not so willing to die to defend the right of adolescent jerks to insult people. Do you see the difference? I’ll fight and die for “We hold these truths to be self evident…” and “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth…”, but I’m not really pleased at the thought of dying so that the next vulgar little reality series can be broadcast on television. In fact, no one is willing to die for that. The Islamists have their dogmas they are willing to fight and die for – what dogmas are we willing to fight and die for? And if we do have some people believing in dogmas worth fighting for, are there enough of them?

Ultimately, there are limits – because there have to be. The limits are necessary for us to have civilization. You can’t have it all. You can either hold to rigid standards of conduct or you can be destroyed by people who hold to rigid standards of conduct. Those are your choices, boiled down. Among the rigid standards of conduct in our civilization is a cautious courtesy of speech – an unwillingness to cause needless offense. Gracious, there are enough things to offend us all just in day to day living – we don’t need to add to it. Yes, at times we must take the course of King St. Louis – when someone is insanely persistent in demanding death and destruction, we must drive a sword through him as far as it will go. But good King St. Louis also would never have dreamed of just insulting people for the fun of it – and he was a Crusader, my friends; a more devoted enemy of Islamic aggression you will not find in the annals of history.

I really do love this country of ours – warts and all. I really do think that in secular terms, we offer the best that humanity has to offer. I do think our nation worth defending. But it is worth defending only if we live up to the standards upon which it was founded. Look through the Declaration and the Constitution and you’ll see it shot through from start to finish with decency. Even when Jefferson condemned George III before the bar of history, he didn’t offer insult. No one reading that sublime document could conclude other than that the king was in the wrong, and right and justice were on our side. Jefferson offered truth, well written to appeal to the better angels of human nature. Contrast it to the cowardly tripe of modern liberals, or the school-yard insults hurled by some. We’re better than that. At all events, we had better be better – because if we aren’t better than the enemy, we won’t beat him.