Thucydides Engendering Philosopher-Warriors is Saviour of Western Civilization

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following is a comment of mine in a Seminar held at the Greek Community Centre in Melbourne, on the 16 of March, 2017, whose theme was, “Thucydides as Philosopher-Historian.” 

The teachings of the philosopher-historian Thucydides are taught assiduously and meticulously in the military academies of the Western world, especially in the United States and Russia.

Thus, these academies are churning out—like Plato’s academy generating philosopher-kings—philosopher-warriors. One such military savant is general Petraeus, the vanquisher of al-Qaeda in Iraq; another two, are generals McMaster and Mattis, the present occupiers respectively of the posts of National Security Adviser and of Defence, in the Trump administration. And it is not an aleatory action or chance event but a deliberate choice, on the part of Trump, that he has appointed high military personnel in key positions of his administration: In anticipatory awareness that America could be attacked with bio-chemical, and, indeed, with nuclear weapons, once the terrorists of Islam acquire them. Such an attack would overturn the USA in an instance from democracy into a military dictatorship, as only the latter could protect America and the rest of the West from this sinister existential threat that is posed by these fanatics.

Two Thucydidean fundamental principles in warfare were, “Know thy Enemy” and “Pre-emptive Attack.” Thus Thucydides in the twentieth-first century, will be the saviour of Western civilization.

Reply to American who Blames US Policies for Irruption of Terror

I’m republishing this article that was written on March 2008 for the readers of this blog hoping to find it of some interest.
By Con George-Kotzabasis


This is no time for populist politicians like Obama, nor, could I say, for “aureole” New York Times commentators like Paul Krugman, who are attempting to bait the electorate’s hate of the Republicans. But for politicians with mettle, sagacity, and visual clarity and imagination to deal with the stupendous issues that America faces in a very dangerous world that emanates from the great Islamist threat. It’s for this reason that John McCaine is Napoleon’s “voila une homme”.

It’s an easy intellectual escape, when one is devoid of arguments, or should I say when one is replete with hackneyed arguments, to dub one’s interlocutor’s points as being a “straw man”. You still see war and great dangers emanating solely from states, and you cannot see, due to lack of imagination and historical perspective, those “stateless” invisible enemies who operate both from within and from outside the countries they are attacking are even more dangerous, especially when, the rapid technological development accelerates and consummates their possibility of acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and indeed, nuclear ones, and which they will use with fanatic glee against the infidels of the West and the “Great Satan” America.

Further, your contention that Republican policies created terror is your own real straw man. It’s America’s unprecedented success in the history of mankind in the fields of the economy, science, technology, and cultural and political power and its status as the sole superpower that has created the envy and also the hate of many people of the world against it, especially of people with retarded cultures and chiliastic religious beliefs. Residing in countries of corrupt and authoritarian governments, and as a result of this they have been left behind in the race of economic development and tend to scapegoat America for all their ills.

Policies are objectively evaluated geopolitically and morally only within the context they are made. Hopping in bed with ugly and murderous regimes was an unenviable choise that the U.S. perforce had to make during its cofrontation with a powerful planetary enemy, such as the Soviet Union had been. Sure enough, some of these policies alienated many people, but the end result was to save the world from the most brutal of all regimes in the history of mankind, Communism.

There is no costless freedom. And often one has to pay a high price for its keep, politically and morally, not to say bloodily. Thucydides tour de force History of the Peloponnesian War, clearly depicts the intricacies of geopolitics and the unholy alliances nations have to make to prevent their downfall.

Your Opinion on this issue…geopolitics

Australian Leader Favours Preemptive Attack against Irreconcilable Enemies

The following article was written on September 2010. It is republished here for the readers of this blog hoping they will find to be of some interest.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The ‘unanimous rejection and repudiation of terrorism… and commitment to work within the laws of Australia’, by the Muslim leaders who attended the Meeting on 23 of August 2010 in Canberra, must now be used by the Howard government as a “jump-start”, to a “summit” of hard, but not foolhardy, action, that would effectively protect Australia from those fundamentalist Muslims and their followers in our midst, who pose an ominous and a grave threat to the security of our country.

Notwithstanding the support of the six principles, drafted at the Meeting, by the Muslim leaders, the government must not “manure” and water any illusions that these leaders will be able to do anything ‘effective’ against those fundamentalist imams and deflect them from continuing to push their radical-fanatic agenda among their followers, albeit this time, cautiously and stealthily, so they can avoid from being seized by the arm of the law. Fanaticism has the spots of the leopard on its back. And as one cannot change the spots of the latter, it would be the “summit” of folly to believe that the Muslim “summiteers”, by exercising reason and persuasion, could change the nature of fanaticism embodied in these imams. This much was conceded by the Prime Minister himself, who in his riposte to the journalists as to why he had not invited radical Muslims to the Meeting, said that it would be impossible to change the views of fanatics by persuasion. And the evidence is overwhelming that no amount of reasonable arguments can persuade these fanatics to change their views, as despite the flood of concrete evidence to the contrary, they still believe that Osama bin Laden was not behind the attack on 9/11. Even some moderate Muslims believe that bin Laden was not the culprit. And, like the fanatics, they believe in all kinds of Americano-Jewish “twin” conspiracies, such as for example, that the Jews had foreknowledge of the attack, and that was the reason why they had not turned up for work on the day of the attack on the twin towers.

It is on this principle alone, ‘once a fanatic always a fanatic’, that the government must now enact the no “legal niceties” foolproof no loopholes legislation that would prevent, effectively, fundamentalist imams and teachers in Islamic schools, from teaching their doctrine of hate against America and Western nations, and from propagating – by craftier and more devious means, instead of doing this openly and with tongue in cheek as they have done in the past – a holy war against those nations and their peoples, who are fighting global terror in Afghanistan and in Iraq. (And it is precisely for this reason-the fighting of global terror- that countries engaged in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan have become targets of terrorists. And not as second rate and rationally shallow commentators, a la Kerry O’Brien and Tony Jones of the ABC, to mention only the most prominent ones in this country, who assert that these countries, and Australia in our case, have become terrorist targets because of their alliance with the U.S. and because of being co-occupiers with the latter in Iraq. These countries and America would not have been in Iraq, if the latter had not been an integral part of global terror, and especially now, when it has become the front-line of global terror. It is the ultimate contradiction on the one hand to agree, as most of these pundits do, that the countries of the free world have no other alternative but to fight global terror, which is a war sans borders and unlocalised, and then to refuse to fight it in the crucible of terror that Iraq has now morphed into.)

The government must realize, that only by legislating a “Sword of Damocles” over the heads of these dangerous fanatics that would deport them to the countries of their origin –if not jail them in this country for treason, if they happen to be Australian citizens–even by stripping them of their Australian citizenship, in the case that they are officially Australians. This can be done by retrospective legislation, in order to carry out their deportation, if they blatantly violated or violate the pledge they have made to their Australian citizenship. Thus, will it be able to protect Australia, to the highest degree possible, from home-grown terrorism.

In the enactment of this legislation protecting Australia, the Howard government must be consistent with the logical position of its foreign policy, as expounded by the Prime Minister himself. He made it crystal-clear, that if a country’s terrorists in our region threatened the security of Australia by weapons of mass destruction, and the government of such a country was unwilling or impotent to prevent such an attack, then Australia would be forced to launch a pre-emptive raid to stop such an attack upon Australia. The Prime Minister cannot do less in regards to the internal enemy that also poses an imminent and lethal threat to the security of our country. The anti-terrorist legislation therefore, that the government is preparing to take, must also comprise the pre-emptive wherewithal, that would abort an attack on our country by home-grown terrorists. If the Prime Minister is willing and prepared to take the greater risk of invading and violating the borders of a sovereign nation to protect Australia, why then cannot he take the lesser risk, of uprooting and “destroying” the enemy within, which is the inalienable sovereign right of Australia, as it would be equally the right of any other nation in the same situation, to protect its people from an enemy attack?

Australia is at war! It has committed its brave soldiers, its sons and daughters, to fight a treacherous fanatical enemy in Afghanistan and in Iraq who is engaged in global terror, and whose goal is no less than the establishment of a block of Islamo-fascist states in the region, that would ultimately threaten the existence of Western civilization. It would be the acme of folly, of historic dimensions, that while Australia is engaged with its allies in such an existential war, that its government would allow a more than possibly operational fifth column of treacherous fanatics in the meantime, to stab Australia in the back. Such a folly, if it were to happen, would be registered in the annals of history as unforgivable and as inexcusable. It would irremediably demean all the sacrifices that our soldiers had made in fighting this war, and it would put an inerasable stain of moral feebleness and political incompetence, upon the up- to- now admirable leadership of the government on the war on global terror.

The Prime Minister, being fully aware of the real stakes of this war against global terror, who, with historical insight, moral fortitude, and political acumen, decided to commit Australian troops to fight it, must not now be squeamish about the necessary force of the legislative measures that must be commensurate to the great threat that is posed by home-grown terrorism. The political leadership of the free world is now at the crossroads of leading from the front or leading from behind. If, as some leaders of the West, such as Chirac, Schroeder, and Beazley – not to leave out our own crop – have decided to lead from behind, pushed by the stream of populism, these leaders will be everlastingly condemned by history, for their intellectual dishonesty, and political opportunism. Those leaders, such as Bush, Blair and Howard, who have decided to lead from the front, against the stream of populism, will be for ever and ever renowned by future ages for their indomitable spirit, that saved Western civilization from these terrorist barbarians.


Iran’s Nuclear Lunge for Power

I’m republishing the following that was written on 2007 for the readers of this new blog.

Political, Not Nuclear, Power Play By Rami G. Khouri PostGlobal

A brief reply by Con George-Kotzabasis

True realism today consists in recognizing the action of ideologies upon diplomatic-strategic conduct. Raymond Aron

Iraq under Saddam was a secular expansionist Arab power with crystal clear pretensions of becoming the dominant power in the region. With the fall of Saddam, the theocratic leadership of Iran is the “bastard” heir apparent of Saddam, aspiring like the latter, to be the dominant power not only of the region but of the whole Muslim world. And in the thinking of the mullahs, the acquisition of nuclear weapons, especially in defiance of all the major nations, including the U.S., is the penultimate step that will bring Iran to its “sultanic” empire and thus gratify completely its libido dominandi. Hence, its nuclear lunge for power is diplomatically non-negotiable

Rami Khouri’s “Israeli-American axis” which he criticizes, is the only axis that can prevent this duplicitous and stealthy attempt of Iran, under the guise of developing solely a civilian nuclear program, to furnish itself with a  carapace of nuclear weapons. And thus crown itself as the theocratic leader of Muslims, that has the blessing of the apocalyptic twelfth imam Mahdi. It’s for this reason that if America’s geopolitically necessary bellicose diplomacy against Iran fails, then the U.S. will have no other option but to destroy Iran’s theocratic leadership by using mercilessly its strategic weapons against this irreconcilable dangerous enemy. To quote the great historian Edward Gibbon, ” a just defense…depends on the existence of danger: and the danger must be estimated by the twofold consideration of the malice and the power of our enemies”. America, like the Republic of Rome in 216 B.C., is facing its own Battle of Cannae and its statesmen must therefore unambiguously state that–like the wise Cato the Elder in his last words to the Senate, Delenda est Carthago–Iran must be destroyed.

Your turn now…

World Affairs Guru Picks up Liberal Bastinado to Flail America

I’m republishing the following that was written on May 2008 on this new blog hoping its readers will find it to be of some interest. 

A reply by Con George-Kotzabasis to:

Mahbubani Responds: Western Intellectual and Moral Cowardice on Israel/Palestine is Stunning

Washington Note, May 29, 2008

Professor Kishore Mahbubani of the National University of Singapore argues, with his impeccable credentials as an expert in international affairs, of a dawning shift of economic and political power from the round-eyed transcontinental continents of the West to the slant-eyed continent of the East. And in the eyes of Mahbubani it seems that the U.S. after reaching the peak of power and dominance in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries will inevitably fall from the top branch of the tree of power (like Newton’s apple?) pulled by the gravitational force of Asia. Therefore “America should prepare well for a post-American world order”. 

This pending decline of the West and of America is not mainly based on economics that western bears compete with Asian tigers on the global market, but primarily on politics and on the art of political leadership. Although Mahbubani gracefully acknowledges and applauds “the liberal international order which has benefited humanity”, which was the creation of the West and the American hegemon, he claims that presently “Western geopolitical incompetence poses the biggest threats to our international order”. He pinpoints four areas where this incompetence is blatantly demonstrated. The blunders of the war in Iraq and its concatenation to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo bay, the Israel/Palestinian conflict,  the dialogue between the West and the Rest, and global warming. All the four issues of course are the same that the liberal intelligentsia is using to condemn and chastise the Bush administration. Hence Mahbubani by picking up the liberal bastinado to beat the U.S.A. shows himself to be vacuous of any originality in his analysis, since all he does is to replicate and regurgitate the animadversions of the international coterie of liberals who like Charon, are preparing to transport the Bush administration and its Republican successors to Hades. Lastly, he blames and rebukes the U.S. for lacking the will and astuteness in its exercise of global  “governing”  to avail itself the inherent “benign characteristics” of power. Thus implying that in its political engagement with the rest of the world the U.S. is far from being a benign superpower.

The imprescriptible rule in power politics is that there are no benign characteristics in the implementation of power but only pragmatic ones. This is especially so when a nation in its greatness, such as the U.S., is burdened with the historical responsibility to tilt the balance of the world toward peace and to be the supreme arbiter between other belligerent and warring nations. In such a complex context while it’s possible for the U.S. to be benign in its relations with other nations some of the time, it’s impossible of being so all the time. The mere scale of its responsibilities and of having so many balls in the air, forces it to make its judgments on pragmatic grounds and to the highest degree possible with the precision of a juggler that dexterously keeps all balls in the air without letting any of them crashing with each another. And in this magnitude of the scale of its operations it’s inevitable that the U.S. is bound to commit mistakes, especially in the “fog of war” as it has happened lately in Iraq. But the greatness of a nation lies not that it doesn’t make mistakes in its exercise of political, economic, and military power, but in its ability to promptly acknowledge and correct its mistakes, as the U.S. has presently done with the implementation of the new strategy in Iraq that has critically changed the course of the war and which is leading to an American victory.

It’s an easy call for Professor Mahbubani to make his strictures against America ex cathedra without being directly involved in the quotidian, complex, intricate affairs of the world as the U.S. is as the sole superpower. In such involvement there are no magic or scientific prescriptions that can remedy the maladies of the world. There are no precise scientific instruments that can neither timely diagnose the ills of the world nor provide the instant remedies that can cure them. This is the reason why often in world conflicts the “surgeon” is the major domo. Only his dexterous handling of the knife can prevent a situation from getting worse. The Serbian-Bosnian conflict was a clear example. Conversely, the lack of political resolve to use a surgical strike against the Hutu regime in Rwanda led to the genocide of the Tutsis, as it’s also presently happening in Darfur.  But while no surgery is infallible, surgical strikes are unavoidable when a nation confronts an irreconcilable implacable foe. Israel has demonstrated this both in its attack on Iraq’s nuclear plant and on Syria’s incipient one, lately. And an impending attack either by America or Israel on Iran’s nuclear plant might be the next one.

Mahbubani completely ignores this narrative of the complexity and intractability of global conflicts and the often insuperable difficulties that a nation that tries to resolve them finds itself in. To him it’s the incompetence of the U.S. leadership that cannot resolve these problems, and, indeed, due to this incompetence exacerbates them and threatens the stability of the international order. He accuses the West, and by implication the U.S., of “stunning intellectual and moral cowardice” on the Israeli Palestinian conflict and of standing aloof from the “collective punishment” (Me.) of the people of Gaza. Without giving a tad of consideration first that this collective punishment is a result of the intransigency and deadly bellicosity of Hamas, and secondly, in not acknowledging that next to the genocidal punishment of the people of Israel the collective punishment of the Palestinians, even if Israel was to be blamed for, is infinitesimal. Notwithstanding this great threat posed to Israel, Mahbubani claims only the plight of the Palestinian people is the “litmus test” for the West and America.

Further Mahbubani casting himself in the role of “Theodicy”, condemns America for its double standards, for its evilness of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Like a bronze statue impervious and unaffected by the ravages of the weather, Mahbubani is impervious to the ravages of war. He does not recognize that war being the greatest atrocities of all inevitably atrocities of all kinds follow its trail. Even most of its civilized and disciplined combatants will yield to the ugly rules of war—no war can be fought clinically–especially in this case fighting an invisible enemy clad in civilian and often in women’s clothes and who can be identified only at the instance of their terrorist actions. Moreover the religious fanaticism of this “apocalyptic” enemy who believes he follows the orders of his God makes him impervious to any reasonable persuasion that would extract from him information that could save thousands of lives. In such an existential struggle it’s inexorable that human rights and values are secondary and are replaced by human existential rights and values. There are no absolute human rights and the latter are always relative to a particular situation. In the sinking of the Titanic the human rights of men were secondary to the human rights of women and children. Throughout history the values and laws of mankind have a concrete existence and not an abstract one. Their abstract existence is for philosophers but not for philosopher-kings.

Professor Mahbubani by picking the liberal bastinado to beat the U.S. shows himself to be just a follower and an aficionado of the dernier cri, the fads of the global liberal intelligentsia. And he cannot usurp least of all take up legitimately by the power of his intellect and imagination the position of a philosopher-king. He is just a pharisaic sophist superciliously weaving his thesis on the decline of the U.S.A. and its replacement by Asia.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now



Debate between American Australian and Norwegian What to Do about Somali Piracy

I’m republishing the following debate that took place on October 7, 2009, in view of the American and European present decision to attack Somali pirates on  land by special forces, which was the proposal I suggested in my contribution to the debate.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Somali piracy needs speedy, decisive, and relentless action by the U.S. and its European allies. To wait for the ability of Somalis “to police their own territory” and Somali leaders “to take action against pirates,” to quote Secretary Clinton, involved in the only highly profitable enterprise in a poor country, is to fly in the face of reality. In the event that Somali leaders were willing to do so, their military capacity to achieve this would take years to consummate.

Further, an increase of U.S., European, and Asian vessels and a better coordination between them is totally inadequate to police such a huge “expanse of ocean” as Secretary Clinton herself remarks. To pursue such a policy as Secretary Clinton delineates in her speech is to pursue a chimera. What the U.S. and its allies must do is to attack by relentless means, i.e., by air and commando raids the Somali towns from which piracy stems, and at the same time placing the requisite armaments on merchant ships that will protect them from any approaching pirate vessels. No amount of “carrots” will dissuade the pirates to desist and stop them, repeat, from such lucrative business in such impoverished country. Only their decisive military defeat will persuade them to do so.

Dan Kervick says,

I agree in part with C-G Kotzabasis’s assessment. We certainly can’t wait for the restoration of the ability (and inclination) of Somalis to police their own territory and to take action against pirates. Somalia is the most failed and dysfunctional of failed states. I also agree that the linchpin of the problem is that piracy in that part of the world is extremely lucrative. The piracy won’t end until piracy is made an ill bargain for the pirates.

But, given that assessment, I have a different view on the best means for addressing the problem, and the chances of success of a coordinated international response.

Yes, the area to be policed is very large. But this isn’t a matter of just sailing around hoping to encounter pirate ships, or hoping to be in the right place at the right time. I assume we have the ability to identify and track most of the ships belonging to these pirates, to share the needed information (though not the sources and methods) with merchant vessels, and to direct force where it is needed in a timely way, especially if we have a larger multinational force of ships in the area. I am also assuming that some of the tagging and tracking means available are clandestine, and are unlikely to be discussed in public.

I also suspect that the economic and other hurdles that need to be cleared so that merchant ships can better defend themselves can be cleared quickly with vigorous, multinational government involvement.

I am somewhat shocked that Kotzabasis would recommend air raids on the home towns of the Somali pirates. No honorable man would defend the intentional killing of the women and children of one’s adversaries as a means of deterring those adversaries. I thought C-G was more chivalrous than that.

Maybe it’s an old-fashioned American outlook based on too many cowboy movies, but I was brought up to believe there were certain acceptable and unacceptable ways of handling these kinds of problems with banditry. Arming and funding more people to ride shotgun on the stagecoach is certainly called for. And sending out posses to track and engage the bandits, and either apprehend or kill them, is also appropriate and in bounds. But sending people to shoot up the towns and encampments where the bandits’ families are located? Not OK.

Kotzabasis says,

Dan Kervick

Thanks for your intellectually amicable and positive response to my post. I’m however surprised that you so facilely assume that these raids will intentionally be killing women and children. The latter will be killed only if the pirates adopt the tactics of the terrorists and use women and children as human shields. So if there is no intentional killing my ‘honor’ and ‘chivalry’ are not besmirched.

Moreover, if you are prepared to put ‘stagecoach shotguns’ and send “out posses to track and engage the bandits” then you have to go the whole hog. You cannot exterminate the scourge of piracy by half measures or by chivalric ones.

Posted by Paul Norheim, Apr 16 2009, 7:54PM – Link

A comment to the exchange between Kotzabasis and Dan Kervick.

Kotzabasis says:

“I’m however surprised that you so facilely assume that these raids will intentionally be killing women and children. The latter will be killed only if the pirates adopt the tactics of the terrorists and use women and children as human shields.”.

Of course no single innocent human being will be killed intentionally by the Americans (that would be bad PR). But if you attack by “relentless means, i.e., by air and commando raids the Somali towns from which piracy stems”, much more innocent civilians are likely to die than those killed by pirates.

This is an excellent illustration of a certain paradox, namely between those “irregular” elements who target non-combatants (or, in direct terrorist operations: civilians), and a regular army targeting the enemy in ways that inevitably kill a lot of civilians, not because they are targets, but because the regular army decides to target the enemy by means that often, and inevitably, kill more civilians than the irregular elements (pirates/terrorists) do.

When you look at the tactics and outcome of some recent events (like the Israeli attack in Gaza, and the Sri Lanka`n army against the Tamil Tigers), it is indeed very difficult to distinguish between “terrorists (who) use women and children as human shields”, and states who send their armies to kill indiscriminately. If you look at statistics regarding the percentage of civilians killed in wars during the last hundred years, you would come to the conclusion that the respect for civilian lives seem to have diminished drastically – regardless of terrorists, guerillas, or pirates. The regular armies and the politicians behind them have their significant share in this development.

There is no point in mentioning Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki to prove that: Iraq is a fresh example.

How many innocent civilians did Saddam Hussein kill? And how many innocent civilians did Clinton and Bush kill – unintentionally?

To me it`s always been difficult to distinguish between terrorist methods and Kotzabasis`”relentless means”. For poor, innocent women and children, hit unintentionally, I would imagine that this distinction would make no sense.

Posted by Dan Kervick, Apr 16 2009, 9:49PM – Link


I may have misinterpreted you. There are some people who have recently advocated the *intentional* targeting of the pirates’ towns and kin in order to teach the pirates a lesson. You instead seem to be advocating going after the pirates themselves, and regard whatever happens to the communities around them as collateral damage brought on by the pirates decision to live among other people.

I appreciate that when you talk about “exterminating the scourge of piracy”, you are only logically implying that it is the scourge that must be exterminated, not the people. I hope that’s all you mean. Because as for the people themselves, I think experience with banditry shows that it is by no means necessary to exterminate all the bandits – even if such a thing were possible – in order the deter them from banditry. It is only necessary to change the cost-benefit analysis with which they operate. When it becomes to hard to profit from banditry, and too risky, the banditry ends.

This isn’t a half-measure. It is just a question on of re-asserting the rule of law without inflicting more death and pain on our fellow human beings than is necessary.

Unlike the case with some terrorists perhaps, the pirates do not hide continually among civilian populations plotting their crimes. They frequently float around in boats on the open ocean. Thus, if they are to be targeted for attack, there is no excuse for not targeting them when they are out there on the high seas, away from innocent people. If one can kill or apprehend some transgressor in a way that doesn’t risk the lives of innocents, then one should do so. It is not relevant whether we can pin the “fault” for the innocent deaths on the wrongdoer. What is relevant is that we avoid causing absolutely unnecessary deaths, whom ever is to be assigned the ultimate fault for those deaths.

Let’s not build these bandits up into something more than they are. What is needed now is stepped-up global policing of international shipping lanes, and that calls for increased levels of economic, manpower and intelligence commitment. The pirates are not an army, and civilization isn’t crumbling. We just need to invest more resources than we have previously.

Posted by kotzabasis, Apr 17 2009, 1:18AM – Link

Dan Kervick

Of course you don’t have “to exterminate all the bandits,” and your “cost-benefit analysis” is a perfect measure that would end such banditry. But to reach that measure that would deter the pirates from practicing their deadly enterprise one cannot do it by “half-measures.” It would be a half-measure to draw the gun and not shoot at your enemy. However, your “rule of law” is not a half-measure but no measure at all. These are lawless people that no law will ever restrain their actions.

I’m afraid you are too well- intentioned and too replete with humane genes that disqualify you from being a pragmatic strategist in deadly conflicts. No war has ever being fought clinically without the spilling of innocent blood. The price of freedom and the continuation of a civilized society at times is quite high. Nothing of great value is costless. The question always is whether people have the sagacity, the will, and mettle to pay the price.

Paul Norheim

This is a ‘straitjacket’ detachment from reality Paul. An “excellent illustration” that totally destroys your fabricated “paradox” is Iraq that by indisputable statistics shows that more civilians were killed by “irregular elements” i.e., by terrorists, than by the regular army of the U.S. and its allies. And to infer, sarcastically, that Americans don’t kill intentionally because that would give them “bad PR,” is to denigrate shamefully U.S. armed personnel who have been trained not to kill civilians, unlike the terrorists who are trained to kill them deliberately. .

Posted by Dan Kervick, Apr 17 2009, 7:37AM – Link

“These are lawless people that no law will ever restrain their actions.”

You seem to be confusing enforcement of the rule of law with respect for the law, Kotzabasis. Obviously, these pirates have no motivation to obey the law simply because it is the law. They are not law-abiding people.

For such people, reassertion of the rule of law always requires the imposition of harsh, credible penalties. Some percentage might be deterred by the mere credible threat of these penalties. But others will only be prevented from violating the rules of the road on the high seas by the actual infliction of the penalties.

I didn’t say that we should draw the gun and not use it. I said that in this case it seems likely that whatever force needs to be applied can be applied away from land, and away from innocent people. Yes, sometimes innocent people are killed in justifiable actions. But we shouldn’t recklessly endanger innocent lives just to prove our “will” or “mettle”, not when we can bring the required force to bear without endangering those innocents.

While the pirates aren’t motivated by respect for international rules, they are, as you have pointed out, motivated by profit. As it becomes less and less likely for the pirates that they will profit from attempted acts of piracy, and more and more likely that they will lose their lives or liberty, their banditry will be brought to an end.

Posted by kotzabasis, Apr 17 2009, 9:45AM – Link

Dan Kervick

Lawless people are not concerned with what MIGHT HAPPEN to them if they break the law, but, as you correctly say, by the “actual infliction of the harsh penalties’ imposed upon them, and I would add in this case wherever they are, on sea or land. It would be strategically foolish and inutile to confine one’s tactical operations solely on the “high seas” as well as reveal one’s tactics to one’s enemy. Just a thought experiment. If one had credible intelligence of a high concentration of pirates on land that by hitting them one would have inflicted upon them a devastating blow from which they could never recover, it would be utterly doltish not to use such an opportunity that would shorten the war and overall casualties just because it could entail that some innocent people would be killed.

I used the “draw of the gun” figuratively, not that you said it, in response to your “stagecoach” post, that if you draw it you have to shoot your deadly foe wherever he is, even in a ‘crowded street.’

War has too many imponderables to compute them beforehand with algorithmic precision. McNamara’s “fog of war” is the constant condition. That is why people, and even professional soldiers, avoid it justifiably like the plague. But once one has decided to ‘unsheathe the sword’ then like the “feudal knights one has to make “literal mincemeat of one’s enemies, leaving the clergy to handle the morals,” to quote the great Austrian writer Robert Musil.

Posted by Dan Kervick, Apr 17 2009, 10:25AM – Link

“Just a thought experiment. If one had credible intelligence of a high concentration of pirates on land that by hitting them one would have inflicted upon them a devastating blow from which they could never recover, it would be utterly doltish not to use such an opportunity that would shorten the war and overall casualties just because it could entail that some innocent people would be killed.”

This sort of scenario paints an unrealistic picture of the pirates as some kind of “pirate army” that is best countered by attrition of their numbers until they surrender. I don’t think it works that way. The pirates are fishermen, who have taken to using their fishing trawlers to mount pirate attacks. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden has become a lucrative profession, and people will continue to pursue that profession as long as it remains lucrative. There is no fixed supply of pirates, just as there is no fixed supply of investment bankers. There is no pirate army to defeat.

We can’t bomb all the fishermen in Somalia, nor would that make sense. There is simply no need for this kind of overkill. The pirates attacked a US-flagged ship earlier this month, and that mistake resulted in an extended nuisance, the rescue of the captain, a week of media pants-wetting, three dead pirates and one captured pirate. This outcome is going to have a deterrent effect, and the pirates were dealt with out on the water. With stepped up resources and commitment, we can turn this piracy business into a non-viable enterprise.

Posted by kotzabasis, Apr 18 2009, 12:22AM – Link

It was a thought experiment and you missed its point.

You are digressing into ‘softer areas’ from your previous posts and I’ve nothing to add. Piracy now has become to you an ‘economic’ issue and merely an “extended nuisance” and an entertaining vaudevillian play, “media-pants wetting.”

Join the debate

Obsessed Denial of Liberals of Success of the Surge

By Con George-Kotzabasis

All the Sancho Panzas of The Washington Note riding on their donkeys and their Don Quixote, Clemons himself, riding his ‘dishevelled’ steed, are attacking windmills in their intellectually ungracious mean-spirited witless futile attempt to discredit the Surge and deny the great success it was in bringing a reversal of fortune in an almost lost war as a result of the initial strategic mistakes of American strategists, which I identified in a paper of mine back in August 2003.

The Surge being a strategic victory for the U.S. not only militarily and politically in Iraq, especially if democracy is consolidated in the country as it seems to be happening with the provincial elections just held, but by blazing its winning footprints on the soil of Iraq is showing the way, and heralding, how the rest of the jihadists, in this borderless war against them, can be defeated.

Bob Woodward in his book Bush At War depicts with a cascade of clear irrefutable evidence that the sharp instrument that cut the umbilical cord of the insurgents with some of the Iraqi populace was the deployment of Special Forces that ratcheted up “the heavy-handed counterinsurgency methods” by killing or capturing their higher echelons and spreading fear among the ranks of the insurgents. Coupled with these hard measures was the soft embedment and quartering of U.S. troops in the neighbourhoods of Baghdad and other towns where the insurgents were previously residing and dominating. It was these two tactics and the ‘revolt’ of both Sunnis and Shi’tes against al Qaeda and the Sadrist militias respectively that stopped the sectarian killings and ushered greater security in Iraq. To say, like Clemons does, that “bribery of local leaders” and a less “heavy-handed’” approach were more significant in subduing the insurgency indicates that he has not read Woodward’s book, or if he has, he deliberately refuses to acknowledge the factors that led to the defeat of the insurgency as an outcome of his ungracious and partisan lapse to give credit where credit is due, to Bush’s determination to implement the Surge.

And all the other cacklings of the excited and ‘emotional’ geese “how many of my descendants you’ve killed”, to quote Dan Kervick in his wrath against the ‘warmongers’– a disciple of the two philosophers mentioned below– will not save the Rome of their intellectual infantilism and political dilettantism, even under the great names of Bertrand Russel and David Hume.