Random thoughts, 08 April 2009

2009/04/08

Interesting news regarding the rampant piracy near the Horn of Africa: apparently, an American crew has re-taken their ship after it was hijacked by pirates. [1] It is, of course, encouraging to hear about this sort of action, given that piracy is clearly on the rise in the area. I do wonder, though, if we shouldn’t devote more resources to patroling the area, or, at the very least, escorting our own ships while they travel in the region; there are only a total of 12 to 15 coalition ships in a region that is over 1.1 million square miles. [2] This, to me, does not seem like a serious commitment to security in the region, given that pirates have already attacked more than that many times since the beginning of the year. With the development of large container vessels that carry enormous quantities of goods with only minimal crews, [3] it is not surprising that piracy against such ships would increase substantially, especially considering that most of the world’s navies do not engage in active anti-piracy patrols.

While I share the Founding Fathers’ aversion towards standing armies in principle, [4][5] I do not consider naval and air forces to be as dangerous to our liberty as a land-based army. Aircraft can decimate entire tracts of land, but they can neither take and hold territory, nor can they police the survivors; the same applies even moreso to naval foces, as they can only attack locations that are near the oceans or other bodies of water. Throughout all of human history, the only way to secure territory and keep it for oneself is to put armed men on that stretch of land. As such, it seems to me that now would be a good time to resurrect the Reagan-era concept of the 600-ship navy, [6] as this, combined with a strong Marine and air  force, would be an excellent way of protecting our interests around the world and defending our national borders, while mostly avoiding the entangling dangers of maintaining armies on foreign soil, such as we have done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Note that the Royal Navy, combined with relatively small garrisons of land-based forces, enabled England to effectively rule the world unchallenged for centuries. [7]

In other world news, the North Koreans have launched their rocket, and are now claiming that the satellite payload successfully reached orbit. [8] Considering that our orbital tracking systems are far more sophisticated than anything the DPRK could possess, I’m more inclined to believe our assessments indicating that the payload crashed into the Pacific, as opposed to the counterclaims that the payload reached orbit, and is now broadcasting North Korean patriotic songs. Additionally, the U.N. Security Council has, again, proven that it really is entirely useless. [9] I truly do not understand why we bother contributing to this farce, when the Council does nothing even after an obvious violation of its resolutions takes place. It does make me wonder exactly what we get out of membership in the U.N., as opposed to how much we spend on U.N. initiatives. George Washington warned against the danger of entangling alliances, primarily from the perspective of preventing the nation from being drawn into the complications of contemporary European rivalries; I wonder if it would not be prudent to withdraw from the U.N. on the grounds that our entanglements there entail substantial costs in terms of our own blood and treasure, but provide us very little in the way of tangible benefits we could not acquire on our own.

In domestic news, apparently, there is a growing wave of outrage over teens being sentanced to life in prison without parole. [10] On the one hand, I can understand, to some extent, the apparent injustice of assigning such punishment to children, but on the other hand, I also find it difficult to believe that there is much hope for rehabilitation in many of these cases. Clearly, these children have lived through their formitive years without acquiring a sense of how to co-exist with non-barbarians in civilized society, and it occurs to me that it is extremely difficult to gain such understanding when an individual has lived his or her entire life without it. Civil societies do need to make decisions on the basis of what is in the best interests of the society as a whole; while it may appear to be unfair persecution to punish underage criminals in such a fashion, I tend to think that this is preferrable to allowing these young barbarians to remain in our midst, with the hope that they will somehow learn to properly co-exist with civilized people. Of course, much of this could be alleviated if the parents of these little barbarians took greater responsibility for the actions of the latter, but it appears that we are not much concerned with this little oversight, preferring to focus on the “injustice” of punishing the inevitable results of said oversight. Alas.

On a related note, I bumped into an article that indicates that there is a growing trend towards children being born out of wedlock. [11] While there are likely to be many factors involved in this increase, I am far more concerned with how this will likely make situations such as those discussed in the previous paragraph much more common. I also wonder what implications the attendant rising numbers of such domestic barbarians will have on the future of our Republic. Of course, given that we are almost entirely averse to such fascist notions as mandatory sterilization for clearly unfit parents, and that we are seemingly more concerned about the rights of these barbarians than we are about the rights of the remainder of us law-abiding citizens, I suppose we shall simply have to wait and see how such things will affect the Republic. I wonder, of course, if would not be prudent to take more pro-active steps to address the situation, but perhaps that makes too much sense. Just don’t be surprised if I purchase a firearm and body armor.

Finally, for today’s WTF?!? moment, former House speaker Newt Gingrich is decrying the “anti-religious” tendancies of the current Presidential administration. [12] While I find much to criticize about our new President and  his cronies, this is not one of them. I am not convinced that appointing a gay-rights activist to the White House office of faith-based initiatives is necessarily anti-religious, and Gingrich’s assertion that the administration is trying to create “a very secular America” is not all that threatening, to my mind. Or has he forgotten the First Amendment? Its only been around for 200+ years, so maybe he hasn’t had the time to notice it yet. [13]

Notes:

[1]: CNN article, 08 April 2009.

[2]: CNN article, 08 April 2009.

[3]: See here and here for statistics related to the MV Mærsk Alabama, the ship involved in this most recent incident. According to the stats, the ship can carry up to 890 standard shipping containers at full load, and carries somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 crewmembers.

[4]: “The veteren legions of Rome…rendered her mistress of the world. Not less true is it, that the liberties of Rome proved the final victim to her military triumphs, and that the liberties of Europe, as far as they ever existed, have with few exceptions been the price of her military establishments. A standing force therefore is a dangerous, at the same time that it may be a necessary provision…On any scale, it is an object of laudable circumspection and precaution. A wise nation will combine all these considerations; and whilst it does not rashly preclude itself from any resource which may become essential to its safety, will exert all its prudence in diminishing both the necessity and danger of resorting to one which may be inauspicious to its liberties.” – James Madision, The Federalist, Number 41, Paragraph 12.

[5]: In practice, of course, a standing army is necessary, given that the world is not so peaceful as we would like it to be. We need to have some form of defense against the dangers of the world around us, so long as we take adequete precautions to prevent the dangers Madison highlights.

[6]: See here for a description from GlobalSecutiry.org.

[7]: Hence, the well-known saying, “The Sun never sets on the British Empire.”

[8]: CNN article, 06 April 2009, and Yahoo article, 08 April 2009.

[9]: CNN article, 06 April 2009.

[10]: CNN article, 08 April 2009.

[11]: CNN article, 08 April 2009.

[12]: CNN Political Ticker article, 08 April 2009.

[13]: The first statement of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The first ten amendments (otherwise collectively known as The Bill of Rights) were passed in 1791, just three years after the ratification of the Constitution itself. While I know that modern English grammar and syntax is not quite the same as what it once was 200 years ago, methinks that the aforementioned statement is fairly unambiguous. Then again, the 200 years of debate WRT the Second Amendment may indicate otherwise…

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2 Responses to “Random thoughts, 08 April 2009”

  1. MI Says:

    WRT teen barbarians sentenced to life w/o parole…this does seem wasteful. We should at least consider “The Corps or Prison” for a select portion of such prisoners.

    As for out of wedlock births…eventually we’ll realize the futility of attempting to rehabilitate the underclass, and simply shove them all in Welfare Islands….

    • seeker312 Says:

      Regarding the first concept, see previous comments regarding the revival of the 600-ship Navy. I bet we could use such a tactic to quickly build up the necessary manpower. For that matter, universal (though non-permanent) conscription would also be helpful to both causes, though I’m sure that today’s “refined” sensibilities would see such ideas as unnecessarily belligerent.

      No comment about the Welfare Islands; the very notion frightens me beyond my capacity for rational thought on the matter.


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