Friday, July 17, 2015

Feebleness in war; muddled thinking in the face of domestic terrorism

The Republic of Vietnam feared its population for most of the war, but following the defeat of the Communist forces in the Tet Offensive of 1968, it realized that, militarily, the tide had turned and started to plan to issue military weapons to the population out in the countryside, much like Switzerland does with its own population.  It didn't get around to it, but it planned to do it, as it realized at that point, with the war effectively won, as long as the United States continued to supply air power in the event of a North Vietnamese assault, it could trust its population to repel local aggression.  The fact that South Vietnam fell in the face of a massive North Vietnamese assault in 1975, when the United States failed to supply air power, doesn't moot the point, but actually tends to support it.

Switzerland has, of course, done just that for eons.  Israel does something similar, allowing the issuance of military type arms to some of its population in hostile areas, leading to some fairly incongruous photographs of that occurring in some areas, on occasion.  The same policy was pretty effectively followed, no matter what you think of its cause or government, by South Africa before apartheid was thankfully ended, when it faced a domestic terrorism problem in the countryside.

Which leads me to the bonehead comment of the New York Daily News today that today's domestic terrorist attack in Tennessee should lead to tighter gun control.


Terrorism isn't the same as conventional crime, no matter how violent.  It's not even the same as organized crime.  It may be criminal, but it's character is entirely different.

Terrorism is a type of guerrilla war.  Just because it's vile doesn't make it any less so. That's what it is.  Crime is a violation of the law.  War is the extension of politics by other means.  While a terrorist act may be criminal, they're done in the furtherance of political goals.  That's why they occur.  Moreover, no matter how loosely organized, they're done in the furtherance of political goals by some sort of organized entity.  The terrorist acts we've seen recently have been organized, at least in terms of influence, by the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant.  They don't need to have a central command to be responsible for them.  Their goal and means are clear, and the people who sign up as soldiers in their cause can enlist at any time, any where, without ISIL ever knowing it.  And they're not irrational or insane when they do so.

Gun control as a means of controlling violence is of highly dubious utility no matter what so many New Yorkers like to imagine. But as a means of controlling terrorism, it's insane.

The proof is more than ample.  Terrorist have never had any problem obtaining arms. The examples are too numerous to dispute.  The first example of modern terrorism is provided by the Irish Republican Army, with Michael Collins being the architect of a modern terrorist war.   The IRA had no trouble at any point in obtaining small arms, nor did its successor the Provisional IRA.  Nor did the Red Brigades or the Bader Meinhoff Gang.  Nor did the Viet Cong.  Nor did the Front de Libération Nationale.  Nor did the Irgun, Nor has ISIL in France.  Nor will ISIL, and ISIL inspired groups, here.  Such laws may, at best, require a terrorist to undergo more effort, but what they mostly do in this context is disarm the population that that terrorists propose to attack.

And why would they.  Unlike conventional criminals, terrorist share with dedicated volunteer soldiers a willingness to die for their cause, no matter what their cause might be. That's a distinction that's quite different from conventional criminals, which to seek to perpetuate their crimes for personal gain.  Terrorist do not, and often don't expect to live to see the victory they hope for.

With that being their mindset, no obstacle to obtaining arms will be effective. So, in contrast, society has to be prepared to suffer without recourse, surrender, or effectively resist.  We're doing the first right now.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that American have the right to keep and bear arms, a right that eastern states in particular like to attack.  It's sometimes snarkily noted that "we don't live on the Frontier anymore, and people don't have to protect themselves against Indian attacks".

Well, perhaps we do.

Average people in Paris found themselves effectively in that situation recently, with no ability to act.  In France, the average citizen can't carry a handgun for protection.  France was ideally set up for an ISIL inspired attack.  Its not that easy in a lot of the United States. And in at least Massachusetts the recent terrorist attack by two individuals had the impact of shutting the city down, something that may have been contributed to by an effectively disarmed population.

Such events are, of course, rare.  Even when they do occur, they actually impact very few people. But they will become more common. This won't be the last domestic terrorist attack that ISIL or ISIL inspired people launch in the United States, or in Europe.  For Americans, those who want to blame everything on the easy availablity of guns should realize that this is a situation that no police force can protect us from, and the military cannot either.  We have to do it ourselves, or be prepared to do it. For European nations that have so effectively disarmed the population, this is even more the case.

Most people, given the option of carrying something, would not.  Indeed, the overwhelming majority of people will not, or even cannot due to occupations that make it impractical.  Even people who might be totally qualified to do so by training, etc., generally will not. But calls to ban things are naive in the extreme.  Mao said that in the guerilla war, the geurilla swam amongst the population like fish.  They do, and even though most of us will never encounter one of the fish, some undoubtedly will in the future.  If even a tiny percentage of the population was capable of defending itself, it would make a difference for everyone.  Not might, it would.  At some point, an armed population is just hard to attack.  That doesn't mean such attacks would stop, but they might be stopped more quickly, or even deterred in some instances.  Day long spectacles like we had in Boston or Paris would likely be rarer.

Or at a bare minimum, government offices, and particularly recruiting stations, ought to have armed men. Why it hasn't become a policy, during a time of terrorist war, to require recruiters to have sidearms in their stations is beyond me.  That's crazy.  Members of the military are now targets everywhere, but they're also amongst the least likely to be armed while in the US.  That policy should end.

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