Category: Terrorism



My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones in Aurora, Colorado this weekend. The kind of fear, pain, and horror their loved ones experienced in that theater, and the kind of fear, pain, and horror they are experiencing now in the aftermath have no place in a civilized world.

The urge to do something, anything, to prevent such a thing from ever happening again is a powerful and worthy one.

Like all such situations, allowing ignorance and fear to guide us in our decision-making is a bad idea.

I’ve been reading and reading and reading the internet’s response to the incident in Aurora and I see a lot of ignorance and fear that lead to statements I disagree with and which are, often, just plain wrong. The people making these statements are probably acting in good faith. They just don’t know what they’re talking about.

One of the best responses to most of the anti-gun arguments being raised can be found here at Larry Correia’s blog. I can’t add much to his words on the philosophical and legal side of the house.

However, there’s one aspect to this whole discussion that has bugged me more than any other: the idea that a CCW license holder in that theater would have just made things worse.

Idea 1: “A victim with a gun in that theatre would just have killed even more people with their wild shooting in the smoke and the darkness and the confusion.”

Wrong, and here’s why. Anyone with any familiarity with guns (I’m putting CCW holders in this group) won’t shoot unless they have a clear target and a clear backfield. In this case, if they didn’t have one because of the darkness or the smoke, they simply would not have fired their weapon until they did. You only see crazy undisciplined shooting in movie firefights, which is where the people raising the objection get their information about the use of guns.

Oh, terrorists and gangbangers also practice the “spray and pray” shooting style. Neither group equates, at all, with legal CCW holders, though most of the people objecting to the idea of defending oneself seem to conflate them.

Thus, if it were so dark, smoky, and confusing that a CCW holder would not have fired, we have no change in the outcome, certainly not a worse one. Psycho shoots who he will shoot.

Let’s say, however, that CCW holder did have a good shot. This takes us to…

Idea 2: “The shooter was wearing head-to-toe body armor so your pistols would not have worked. Duh, you scary-gun-people!”

Wrong again. People who get their information about the use of guns from the movies seem to imagine that this head-to-toe body armor granted Holmes invulnerability, the ability to walk unconcerned through gun fire like Arnie as the terminator.

Those of us who have some experience can tell you that being hit with a bullet while in body armor is like getting hit with a hammer while wearing a T-shirt. Not something you can ignore. While pistol bullets  may not have penetrated his armor, they sure as hell would have gotten his attention, knocked him off balance, possibly even knocked him down. Those precious seconds while he was dealing with hammer blows would, unarguably, have saved lives.

Please, let’s not allow ignorance and fear to rule our decision-making about guns.

 

 

 

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Myke Cole wrote an intriguing piece over on Jim C. Hines blog the other day.

It was entitled Uniform in the Closet: Why Military SF’s Popularity Worries Me. In it Myke opined that there is a widening gap between the citizens of this nation and our military. Which is especially troubling when you consider the concept of the citizen soldier and how ubiquitous it has been until these recent phases of U.S. history. Military service members, current and former, are increasingly being considered a breed apart. Myke posits that Military SF’s growing popularity is really a manifestation of people’s fascination with the ‘other’ that the actual military is becoming in our culture.

I couldn’t agree more.

One reason for that growing separation is the fact that so few of our nation’s citizens serve in the military. One reason for that, I think, is the legacy of the Vietnam war. So much political hay was made of the military during that period, so much of it blatantly negative propoganda that the stigma was ingrained into an entire generation and is being passed on today.

Returning vets in the 60s and 70s were greeted with everything from harsh words to oven cleaner in the eyes by so-called ‘peace activists.’ Today I have received almost universal thanks and compassion for my service, usually from people who would never ever consider serving themselves. Which is the very problem Myke describes.

“Love the soldier but hate the war” does nothing to help the reputation of the military as a whole since we are the one’s prosecuting the war that is being used as political leverage.

Myke talks about wearing one’s uniform in public. He’s right. It used to be common place. It isn’t anymore.

I myself have, in the past, been very annoyed when I saw soldiers trundling their luggage through the airport in uniform. American soldiers are all taught not to do that. Travel in civilian clothes, don’t draw attention to yourself or your mission. It is the baseline SOP to travel incognito.

When soldiers travel in uniform today most (not all) of them are doing it in the hopes that someone one will give them attention or buy them lunch. That pisses me off. Being in the service is not a license to beg or show off.

But if it became common place, sanctioned and encouraged by the military leadership for CONUS travel, all that would change.

Myke gives the two big reasons why it is discouraged: OPSEC and Force Protection.

OPSEC: If every single traveling soldier traveled in uniform it would be very difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions about operations or troop movements out of the noise. Frankly, the news organizations are more than capable of betraying all that anyway, not to mention the social networking sites.

We would lose nothing and perhaps, if Myke is right, gain a great deal by increasing the visible presence of our military in the general population. Certainly worth a try. (Though I am loathe to give up the comfort of traveling out of uniform)

Force Protection: If you are a soldier traveling CONUS incognito, you are less likely to be a target. The implication of this, of course, is that some other poor schmuck will end up being the target, probably a civilian.  There is an argument to be made that this is the moral parallel of putting your bomb factory next to an orphanage.

If some bad actor wants to target Americans and would choose a soldier over a civilian, good. Make it easy for him to target a soldier instead of a civilian and see where that gets him. It’s our job to take those kind of risks so joe civilian doesn’t have to. Why then are we hiding ourselves among joe civilian on our home territory in hopes that the bad guys will choose someone else?

Of course, with our current crop of enemies, they’d much rather hit civilians than someone trained to defend themselves. Less risky that way.

I’m pleased as punch that Military SF is growing in popularity. I want to sell books and I can write that. I hope it’s not a sign of bad things to come. But it could easily be.

 

13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

In the days after the 9/11 attacks I was treated to footage of ecstatic crowds on the ‘arab street’ celebrating our tragedy. This joined the many years of footage from places like Israel and Lebanon depicting the joy with which the ‘arab street’ greeted suicide attacks, bombings of innocent civilians, and the murder of men in wheelchairs.

I saw this unseemly glee condemned by responsible members of the muslim world who were, unfortunately, extremely thin on the ground and very short on action or even calls to action against the responsible groups. I was told again and again that the atrocities committed by the few extremist jihadis, were not in line with the teachings of the Koran and should be condemned by all true muslims. Yet the attacks continued unabated and evidently unopposed by the nations and communities from which the jihadis sprang and operated. In fact, quite the reverse, in ‘Palestine’ the people put the murdering terrorist group Hamas into power in a popular election. And other murderers enjoyed a kind of Robin Hood status in muslim communities around the world, their faces adorning boxes of children’s candy and cereal like a wheaties sports hero among a hundred other things.

This soured in my soul.

However, during my service in the Middle East, in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan I met and worked with local people in all three countries who were brave and committed to the principles of peace, personal responsibility, and the rule of law.  They exist.

Now we have this story. Syrians putting their lives on the line to resist the murdering regime and fulfill their human duty to correct the reprehensible actions of other members of their community.

I salute those Syrians fighting for freedom. I would gladly deploy again to help them in their struggle.

Things like this interest me.

CelebratingOsama'sDeath-LOLObviously the author is comparing this crowd, cheering outside the Whitehouse after the announcement of OBL’s death, to the crowds of middle-easterners cheering in the street after 9/11.

And yes, one crowd of people celebrating looks very much like another.  But there the similarity ends. Crowds of middle-easterners behaving thus over the death of 3000 innocent civilians is not, in fact, “like” this crowd celebrating the death of a mass-murdering sociopath who killed 3000 of their fellow-citizens.

Continue reading

binladen-xGlad to finally be able to put UBL into the ‘good’ category.

As wigg1es so aptly put it on Boing Boing, “If only this actually meant anything……”

What does it mean?

That the vast majority of Americans will now be able to tell themselves that all is right with the world, the boogey man is no more, and that this actually does change something.

I hope and I pray that they are right, that it will change something. I doubt that UBL’s fellow travelers will now shrug their shoulders and walk away into obscurity, but I hope they do.

I also hope and pray that the believers in Democracy and the Rule of Law around the world who depend on American might will not now be abandoned in an orgy of political expediency among our politicians.

Edit: Buried at sea? Really?  – No pictures yet? Really? – Is our government TRYING to minimize the positive effects of this action?

Edit 2: So we’ve had two years of the left telling birthers that insisting on proof, documentation, of an event is stupid, in order to defend Obama’s failure to produce an official birth certificate. This thought pattern is so ingrained that now we must laugh to scorn those who ask for proof, like a high-res photo, of UBL’s dead body? Folks, as a friend of mine said, “There are people who still believe Elvis is alive, and we’re not producing a picture of UBL dead? WTF?”

Bonus links:

Fareed Zakaria on the death of Bin Laden

My Uncle!

That’s my uncle!

He presents a paper that is a brilliant examination of the relationship between the Indian Wars the United States fought in its early life and the current terror wars we’re fighting now.



Fareed Zakaria

Fareed ZakariaJust found a guy named Fareed Zakaria.

I’m really impressed. This article, which he wrote for Newsweek in the aftermath of 9/11, was amazing. In its tone and basic ideas I feel vindicated that it says many of the same things I’ve been saying for years. And Mr. Zakaria has actual creds to his name, not just seat of the pants armchair theorizing like me.

While the fact that I agree with him is nice for me, more importantly he speaks to and integrates many of the root ideas that other people skate around in favor of rhetoric. He doesn’t gloss over anything that I could see. While not claiming to be perfectly unbiased (impossible) he does present a solid, clear look at both sides of the issues he’s discussing.

I’ll definitely be looking for and reading more of his stuff.

Wikileaks two

Lots of people out there on the web pooh poohing the idea that wikileaks is costing lives.  They don’t claim that wikileaks hasn’t cost lives. Most of them simply claim that it pales in comparison to the number of lives lost due to actions by the governments wikileaks targeted. A fair point. And, if you assume that the west, the United States and Britain in particular, is corrupt and murderous by nefarious design, you can stop thinking at that point and simply wave your placard. I don’t share that view and find those that do a little long on the yammer and short on the hammer. They speak, confidently, from under the umbrella of freedom, security and prosperity those very governments provide.

There’s another necessary half of the argument, usually left implicit by these rhetoricians. You must also believe that the threats of terrorism and rabid jihad the west is facing and fighting are largely nebulous and illusory. I direct your attention to the New York of nine years ago. You may then stepping stone your way to the present over countless incidents of violence and cruelty deliberately perpetrated against innocents by the very same individuals and their groups that are so necessarily (for this particular argument to hold water) illusory.

The west has not been perfect in its prosecution of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. There are plenty of examples of western soldiers and leaders doing wrong. Such incidents are few and far between, as evidenced by the attention they get when they do happen.

The massive and pungent irony of the whole wikileaks situation is that wikileaks targeted only the side it is safe to target. Exposing the inner workings of Al Quaeda and like groups is, after all, awfully difficult and dangerous.

As for wikileaks being treasonous, no. It’s only treasonous for Bradley Manning. For folks of other citizenships it’s called espionage.

wikileaks

wikileaks founder and head prima donna Julian Assange

wikileaks founder and head prima donna Julian Assange

I find this whole wikileaks phenomenon endlessly fascinating while at the same time a little pitiful.

In theory, I approve of the mission statement wikileaks touts. Government transparency is good in most cases. Protecting their sources, also excellent. Vetting of stories before publishing? Essential. But for all the bluster they’re surprisingly mercenary.

They claim to be a source for good in the world. Yet they’re constantly targetting the biggest sources of good in the world. It grabs them headlines to accuse the US and leak classified documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it also has the advantage of being very safe for them. Though they make a show of ‘being afraid’ they know very well, as does the rest of the world, that the US and Western European countries don’t go in for the kind of extra-legal retaliation they claim to be afraid of.

Who does go in for that kind retaliaion? The kill your family and cut your head off on TV kind of retaliation? The very groups and countries wikileaks fails rather conspicuously to report on. The very groups the US and Western Europe (along with other notable allies) are in violent conflict with right now. Let’s see some juicy leakage of the operational details of AlQuaeda or Hamas or Sendero Luminoso. How about North Korea for heaven’s sake. China anyone?

If you want to be seen as a force for good in the world you ought to do something other than throw stones at the side that doesn’t deliberately kill women and children as a matter of policy.

As for protecting sources, perhaps you also ought to protect those innocents you put at risk with your leaks. Locals working for the US in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing nothing but what they think is right, yet you put their lives at risk by publishing their names where the jihadists can find them. There are good reasons to classify documents and protecting sources is one of them. Strange how that cuts both ways and how wikileaks doesn’t seem to care.

And vetting your stories before publishing? Please. How about Collateral Murder? What a joke.

That’s a new one on me, but not my father.

Although the actual word ‘babykiller’ was not used it was a sobering experience the other night when a ‘friend’ equated the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the murder of innocents. It was done offhandedly, as though it were a given. Having served in both theaters, I can assure you (as I tried to assure him, to no effect) that the comparison is ridiculous. Yet there are people out there who actually think that. Apparently, I know such a person. Not something I was expecting to discover among my circle of friends.

On a more palatable note, Brad Torgerson has a very nice blog post up today about some of the other kinds of experiences we who serve in the military have at home. Pleasanter ones.