Rid The Sea Lanes Of Piracy.
I reside just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and the coast of North Carolina and those barrier Islands along our coast which made for wonderful hiding places for the pirates of yesteryear. The Coast of North Carolina is drenched in folklore about pirates. The infamous Blackbeard was captured here and decapitated. The sports teams of at least one noted university here are named “The Pirates.” So, we Tar Heels have a colorful history of interaction with pirates as does our sister state to the south. .
That was then. This is now.
Again the high seas are infested with pirates. Their aim is the same… to rob and steal. But now, they have added ransom.
Recently we heard of an Ocean Liner being attacked, but managing to speed away. A few days later, in the same waters, a freighter was attacked. It, too, managed to get away. As I write, at least one of the largest vessels afloat, an oil tanker, is being held for ransom by a handful of modern day blackhearts in full view of the world, and the world’s navies, including warships of the US Navy.
Our own Caribbean is littered with modern day pirates. Yachts disappear to show up at some other location, with a different registration, and different name. Sometimes passengers disappear, too.
On at least two different occasions in our history, under two Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, the US Navy, and Marines, had to rid the coast of Africa of pirates. The Barbary Coast Pirates.
I bring up these particular pirates because they were based along the African coast, mainly the North African coast. The pirates we seem to be having the most trouble with today are also on the African coast, but the east African coast…the coast of Somalia to be more exact. So far this year, alone, those pirates have attacked over 90 ships. They have managed to hijack 39 freighters, tankers, and fishing vessels. At least 14 of them are currently anchored, under heavy guard, off pirate villages along the coast of Somalia. Estimates run as high as 30 million dollars paid in ransom money.
Turns out it is not as easy today as it used to be to take on the pirates. All sorts of national and international laws tie the hands of governments and makes them less than eager to take on a couple of dozen men with small arms and two or three rubber boats. But there is an outfit, based here in North Carolina, eager to do what the governments of the world sea powers are reluctant to do. I speak, of course, of Blackwater Worldwide.
Equipped with their own warship, the McArthur, Blackwater is looking to provide a new service to the merchant navies of the world. Blackwater offers to escort paying customer’s ships through the pirate infested waters, safely. Their plan is simple: Issue verbal warnings to approaching vessels which appear to have piracy in mind, followed by a few shots in the air, and if that fails… then the sharpshooters aboard a couple of helicopters, flown from the deck of the McArthur, will do their job by taking out as many barefooted pirates as it takes to discourage the attack.
Already Blackwater is receiving inquiries from dozens of shipping companies and shipping insurance companies concerning Backwater’s services in escorting their ships through the world’s most dangerous waters.
There is an excellent article on all of this at:
The country of Somalia still has no functioning government and it is a breeding ground for this type of activity.
Teddy Roosevelt, the last President of the United States to deal with Barbary Pirates, had the opportunity to use the big stick he carried and, he did just that. He sent seven battleships from the Atlantic Fleet to the North African Coast. It worked and the pirates backed down.
This blight on the oceans will not go away if we turn a blind eye. It will get worse. Eventually they will manage to stop and board a passenger liner and death and destruction will be the result. Or, terrorists will seize an oil tanker, sail her into the harbor of one of the world’s great cities, and blow it up with unbelievable death and devastation as the result.
Now is the time to hunt them down and destroy them… even if that means following them to their center of operations in the seacoast villages of the country, or countries, providing them safe haven.
J. D. Longstreet
We Need Heroes!
By J. D. Longstreet
In my youth heroes did abound. There were, first and foremost, the military heroes, then the sports heroes, even the guy down the block who saved the neighbor’s cat by climbing the tree to retrieve the cat, he, too, was a hero. But it is not so, anymore.
Humans need heroes. Heroes remind us that there is a better side to us. Heroes remind us that we DO have it in us to be better than we are… to accomplish what was thought to be the impossible, and that we do have it in us to defend those things most precious to us, like our families and our homes and even our country. But today you would think there are no heroes.
There are the quiet heroes who live among us, even in our very homes, every day. The parents striving to make a living and see that their kids get what they need to create, for themselves, a better life than that of their parents. Rarely are they ever mentioned among the phalanx of everyday heroes.
Military heroes went out of style during the Vietnam War. Although many, many, Vietnam veterans came home as a heroes, they were not accorded that status by their fellow Americans. Many were reviled and even spat upon. Men who had answered their country’s call and gone to war, and had every right to be accorded the status of heroes were, instead, shunned by American society.
When I was a boy, there actually were sports heroes. Oh yes. Joe De Maggio, Ted Williams, and the list goes on and on. No any longer. Professional athletes tell us they have no desire to be a ROLE MODEL, A HERO, if you will. And they aren’t. Many we would silently think of as heroes turn out to be abusing drugs, which brings into questions their athletic triumphs. So, we no longer have sports heroes.
Well, you may ask, what about the neighborhood guy who climbs trees and rescues felines for the neighbors children? What about him, huh? Well, that cat is stranded now, for good and all, except in the rare case where the local fire department will agree to come rescue the critter. Why? Well the neighborhood guy is concerned that if he should climb that tree and break a limb, some enviro- nut group will sue him. If he should accidentally harm the kitty, while in the attempt to rescue her, then the animal welfare groups might sue him, and if the kitty scratches the kids he returns it to, he might well be sued for allowing those children to play with a dangerous animal.
See the direction America has taken… and why, there are no heroes today? It is, indeed, far too risky to be a hero today.
And then there is the “Moral Relativity” problem. Here in America, the Moral Relativity adherents rule the day. Now known as “political correctness”, we are indoctrinated, from day one, that all men are created equal. Well, one can easily put the lie to that… if one wanders into the shower room of any military barracks in the world, or walk down a crowded beach in July. All men are NOT created equal. All men are guaranteed an equal shot at life, and it’s abundance, here in America by the constitution, but that is as far as it goes… or at least, that is as far as it SHOULD go.
Now, if you believe that all men are equal then you cannot have heroes. Because the very nature of heroism means that one person has exceeded the level playing field of equality and has become better than his fellow man in some way.
We used to understand that, in this country, and we celebrated our heroes. Look back at Audey Murphy, the most decorated soldier of the Second World War. A tiny little fellow, unimposing, but the man had the heart of a lion. He was a true hero.
And there was The Duke. Yep, John Wayne. So far as I know Duke never served his country in uniform. Except that, actually, he did. He portrayed such heroes, so often, and so convincingly on the American movie screen, that he became one. He played role after role of a hero in different uniforms of our military service. Those western characters he portrayed paid homage to the early days of America on the frontier. He became a hero. The thing with Wayne was that “what you saw was what you got”. Off screen, he was the same man he played on screen. And that came through, clear as a bell, in the characters he portrayed.
Say what you will about the Duke, but he taught, at least one generation of American men, what it meant to be a man… and even more importantly what it meant to be an American man.
Heroes provide us with role models. “We don’t need role models”, you may argue. Oh, but we do, I would argue back. Role models teach our children important lessons about who they are and of what they are capable.
When I first reported for military training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, back on July 5th, 1959, I had no idea what I was capable of. None. I thought I did. But, boy, how wrong I was.
I weighed approximately 126 pounds. And that was soaking wet! And then they took us up to a place known then as “Tank Hill”. That’s where you went, in those days, when you reported to Ft. Jackson to be whipped into shape as an American soldier. Eight weeks later, having survived pure hell, I left that Army post a brand new American soldier, believing I could lick the world, if necessary, single handed.
How did it happen? One important factor of that training was that there were genuine heroes training us. The Instructor cadres were men who were veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War. Men who had seen the worst the enemy could throw at them and they rose above it… and won!
We had a First Sergeant, with an Irish name, and all the accoutrements, including the blue eyes and red hair. Never saw him that he didn’t have a bayonet scabbard hanging from his web belt. Never. He was a sergeant in the manner of old first sergeants. That guy was something to behold. When he walked into a room, or onto a training field, all the noise became muted and all eyes were on him. He commanded respect. For those of us un-initiated, at the time, there was one huge question we all wanted ask and that was… “Why”? After a few weeks, I screwed up enough courage to ask one of the lowly buck sergeants what it was about the Top Kick that brought all that respect.
The sergeant pointed to the Top Kick’s bayonet. “You see that”, he asked? I assured him I couldn’t miss it. The sergeant went on to say there was a story behind that bayonet. He told me that even though he didn’t know all the details he knew that the Top Kick had saved his squad, in Korea, by charging an enemy machine gun nest with nothing but that bayonet in his hand. He over ran that enemy gun emplacement and put the machine gun out of action and saved the lives of his men. For his actions the Army had award him a medal. His fellow soldiers had awarded him something far more precious… their respect.
As I listened in awe, I came to understand the awe, in which his men held him, that day. And… I had something of an epiphany, and that was… that… even heroes need heroes. The men training me were genuine war heroes, and yet… they looked up to the Top Kick as THEIR hero.
It is the nature of the human beast. We need “markers” to show us what we can achieve. Those who rise above the rest ARE those “markers” and we call them heroes.
America has become a nation in limbo. Having no markers, no heroes, to look to we are wandering about in a sea of disillusionment, not knowing who we are. Oft times we are discouraged from accomplishments, which exceed the norm. We are told it is better to remain a non-entity than to accomplish more than one’s neighbors, and rise above them, for in so doing we make those who seek to remain equal feel ashamed, or less important that we.
To that I say… “Tough!” It is that kind of thought that is killing the American spirit. It is that kind of thought that is killing America… period! It is that kind of thought that is ushering in socialism in America with Mr. Obama at the point of the socialist spear.
America used to be a “can do” nation. Now we are a “can you do it for me?” nation. We have not yet recognized that those who willingly “do it” for us will soon reign over us. Why, the naysayers have us believing we can actually lose the war in Iraq! They have us believing we can’t fight two wars, on two fronts, and win! We’ve already put the lie to that argument. We fought the Germans, the Italians, and the Japanese, all at the same time, and came away victorious over all of them. And we fought, not just in two relatively small countries in the same region, but all over the GLOBE!
Regardless of what you may think, or you may have been taught, there are persons among us who are heroes. These are persons who have risen above and simply not been recognized by a society that has chosen to hide itself in the mire of equal aspirations based upon our society’s lowest common denominator.
We desperately need a hero to lead this nation through the dark decades ahead. We are facing an enemy, which wants us dead and will stop at nothing to wipe us out. We need a leader who is not afraid of taking the tough stands, and making the hard decisions, which may lead to the deaths of countless numbers of our enemies, but, in the end, save the USA.
But can a man, such as that, be elected in America anymore? Probably not. Can a man, such as that, be found among us? Oh yes! But I must warn you… they are few and far between. You see… some say America stopped producing “real men” in the 1960’s. And those of the male persuasion, who survived the ‘60’s, are now teaching our male children what THEIR definition of a real man is and, dear reader, it is far from what nature created the human male to be.
So what are America’s options? Frankly, I don’t see any. We, as a nation, are destined to ride this train to the end of the line. You see, when a people, voluntarily, choose to emasculate themselves, they must pay the price. America has only begun to pay that price.
J. D. Longstreet
Afghanistan Will Be Another Vietnam
By Alan Caruba
The next President of the United States of America must decide whether to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan or expand our involvement there. Having lived through the long years of the war in Vietnam, I can tell you that Afghanistan looks and smells like Vietnam. It is the classic wrong war in the wrong place.
In late October, I read a small news item about Parwiz Kambakhsh, 24, an Afghan journalism student who had downloaded and circulated an article about women’s rights under Islam. The news was that his sentence of death had been overturned by an appellate court that reduced it to a mere twenty years in prison on the charge of blasphemy. He can still appeal to the Supreme Court of Afghanistan. This is the state of freedom of speech, press, and thought in Afghanistan.
If you want to know what life was like in the seventh century, Afghanistan is the place to go. It is largely devoid of anything passing for modernity, by which we mean medical facilities, schools, roads, and such. Never mind the telephones and other detritus of modern life, the conversations have not changed in centuries.
Afghanistan shares a long border with Pakistan and Iran. Also bordering it is Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkistan, and Tajikistan. None of these places is a tourist destination. All are Islamic.
The only reliable element of Afghanistan’s economy is poppy cultivation for the opium trade which the CIA estimates generates “roughly $4 billion in illicit economic activity.” This is another way of saying that none of this money reaches what passes for a central government except in the form of bribes. It is a major source of funding for the Taliban.
Few Americans were interested in Afghanistan until September 11, 2001. We have had a military presence there for seven years, along with NATO nation components. Much like the “military advisors” that initiated our involvement in Vietnam, today’s generals are calling for more troops.
Afghanistan has been conquered and occupied since the days of Alexander the Great. Nothing much comes of it. It remains a mystery why they bothered. Putting too few or too many troops into Afghanistan does little except to demonstrate the futility of trying to impose one’s will on people who have resisted every such effort for centuries.
Founded as a nation in 1747 when Ahmad Shah Durrani unified the Pashtun tribes, Afghanistan was primarily seen as a buffer between the British and Russian empires. Democracy, as in most Middle Eastern nations, has never taken root there.
It became the graveyard of the Soviet empire after they intervened militarily in 1979 to support a tottering Afghan Communist regime. After they withdrew in 1989, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It is now known as the Russian Federation. It is still run by the former KGB. And one wonders why anyone in the U.S. government thinks any good can come of being there?
The Taliban took control after the Russians left and Osama bin Laden found a congenial place in which to plan 9/11. That’s why the first U.S. response to the attack occurred in Afghanistan as U.S., allied, and an anti-Taliban Northern Alliance of tribes were able to drive the Taliban across the border into the frontier provinces of Pakistan and elsewhere.
The U.S. effort to create a democratic government there began with a new constitution and, in December 2004, the election of Hamid Karzai as president. He barely controls Kabul, the capitol. The southern and eastern regions are still beyond control.
In essence, the rule of law barely exists in Afghanistan, if at all, unless you factor in Sharia law which reflects a seventh century approach to justice. The government and all aspects of official life in Afghanistan are so corrupt that even President Karzai’s brother is allegedly on the take.
I am not a military strategist, an expert in foreign affairs, or can lay claim to much more than common sense, so I confess it defies my understanding why the United States and our NATO allies are in Afghanistan. Expecting democracy to succeed in such a primitive and hostile place seems more a justification for military occupation than anything else. The whole place is tribal.
Other than his distaste for our invasion of Iraq and disposal of Saddam Hussein, it is baffling that Barack Obama says that Afghanistan is the “central front” against al Qaeda. The CIA says it has no bases there. The Taliban—outsiders just like us–have their own agenda as seen in their effort to render the place a complete and total Islamic hellhole.
Little wonder, therefore, that word keeps getting out that both English and French military leaders regard Afghanistan as virtually beyond any hope without putting a far greater number of troops there. Millions are being spent as it is. Between 2002 and 2007, Germany spent $80 million to reform its police corps. The U.S. has budgeted $800 million for 2008 to assist its security forces.
In early October, General Jean-Louis Geogelin, France’s military chief, confirmed that British Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith remarks that “there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis” reflected his own views. The Brigadier recommended that NATO lower its expectations regarding a happy outcome to the conflict. It was, he said, “unrealistic and probably incredible” to think that the multinational forces in Afghanistan could rid the country of armed bands.
There are two occupations available to the Afghans. One can either be a farmer raising poppies or one can join an armed band, be it either the government’s, one’s tribe, or the Taliban’s.
In an October 1, 2008 Christian Science Monitor article, it was reported that “The U.S. military is working to put a new strategy in place for Afghanistan and Pakistan that could allow it to expand airfields, preposition military forces and equipment, and prepare for a more robust effort soon against Islamist extremists in the region.” Four more U.S. brigades are poised to be sent to Afghanistan, including one that will deploy in January.
I have my own military strategy. Let’s pull our troops out of Afghanistan and, with their permission, let’s keep enough troops in Iraq to ensure that its government can maintain its security and as a deterrent for any conflict Iran might initiate in the region.
The United States of America has a full plate of problems right now. Expending troops and treasure in Afghanistan strikes me as a bad investment in a very nasty place. It is an invitation to repeat the all the errors of Vietnam.
© Alan Caruba, November 2008
There is a movement “aborning” to support Sarah Palin for President in 2012.
At first glance it would seem too early to consider supporting anyone this far out from the election in 2012. But, since the Clintons introduced America to the “Never-Ending Campaign for President”, some feel conservatives had better go ahead, right now, and get the ball rolling.
There is already a website for the Sarah Palin for President campaign at:
Go over and take a look. Leave a comment, if you like, and if you have a blogsite of your own, you are invited to link to the Vote for Sarah site and alert others to its existence.
It is said that small increments of time (such as weeks or months) in politics, is a lifetime. That may be, and, certainly, much can, and does, happen in the world of politics… even in hours.
With the current election “seemingly” already decided in favor of Obama, and, taking into consideration the dastardly way conservatives have been treated by the GOP in this election cycle, more and more conservatives are looking for a future candidate they can get behind early and, in doing so, serve notice on the GOP that their support (conservative support) is going to THAT candidate… and if… IF… the GOP wishes to have any support from Conservative voters… then the GOP will have to follow the conservative lead, or… just get out of the way.
Now, as a conservative, myself, I am not deceiving myself by believing the GOP will actually wake-up and see the error(s) of their way(s). See, I don’t think the GOP, in their minds, made an error! I think the GOP set out, from the very beginning in this election, to discard the conservative wing of their party and push McCain through with the belief, the conviction, if you will, that they could win this election with the support of only liberal and moderate republicans, plus the independent voters. That move was doomed to failure right from the start. But, the oh, so intelligent elite, in the Republican Party, wanted their party back, and now… they have it… for what it is worth.
For 46 years I have voted a conservative ballot. My belief in conservative values has not changed one iota in all that time. I have seen the GOP win when they placed those conservative values first and foremost in their candidate and their campaigns.
But it is clear that since 1994 the elite in the GOP have been gnashing their teeth at the mention of “conservatives” in what they truly believe is THEIR party. No matter that their liberal and moderate values had kept the republicans on the backbenches in both houses of the Congress for decades. Apparently, they liked it there… for they sure as heck seem to be bound and determined to return to those same backbenches ASAP.
Rejection is a difficult thing for the human animal to deal with. Some are just overwhelmed by it. Others become depressed and wallow in that depression, while others accept it for what it is, choose not to dwell upon it, and move on continuing to strive for bigger and better things. I sincerely hope the bulk of conservatives will accept the GOP rejection of our values and move on to form our own political party, separate from the Republicans, into which we can pour our energies and our collective talents in an effort to build a better America.
J. D. Longstreet