Tag Archives: War

A Really Shallow Post on the Libyan War: Twelve Points

This list of points about the Libyan War is very shallow and somewhat incoherent and does not take the place od a longer essay style post later on in this process. But it is a start in thinking about this conflict in this blog:

1. This attack has given America the chance to prove that this country can and will operate in the United Nations and in the world of geopolitics and can use military force in this period of change and unrest in the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab world. By involving ourselves in the war on Libya we offset some of the impression of weakness which is bound to come from the  failure of a long-time allied government in Egypt.   This in itself may not justify all the risks of this operation but it is a valid geopolitical interest and motive.

2. It is true that transliterating his name from Arabic to English is the most inconsistent thing in diplomatic and journalistic history but whether one call him Gaddafi, Gaddaffi, Qadhafi, Qaddaffi, Khadafi, Khaddaffi, Kadaffi or something else this leader has funded and supported terrorism and international crime. The Lockerbie case of the airliner bombing  is the most high-profile of many instances and the bringing home of the convicted undertaker of the offense brings all of this drama of violence into the present. When he was young few people were more committed enemies of the Western powers. That may not justify pursuing this exact course of action but it is a real reason to seek the defeat and ouster of this Libyan Premier. 

3. The United States has a large military and to really justify that we have to be willing to use that force when it is right to do so.  The war in Libya at the current level is a chance to keep the forces occupied.

4. The lack of investment in real embassy culture throughout the world and North Africa by the United States is very evident right now in how poorly we know the rebel opposition to the government in Libya. This is true despite the fact that  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been saying that the administration supports and wants a model of ambassador to each country being the State Department’s CEO in that country. America needs more investment in human intelligence, community relations, and regional expertise operating out of every embassy it has, Morocco and Egypt should have US ambassadors whose staffs can give lectures on the rebels.

5. By launching the strikes in the way it did the coalition may have been showing concern for the civilians in Libya. However, it also pushed the government of Libya into a use-it-or- lose- it situation and spurred them to attack cities more vigorously.  Civilian deaths have in effect been encouraged by the policy path we have chosen.

6. Libya’s leader is not the same kind of life-long and thorough-going thug that Saddam Hussein was nor is he the leader of a government as cruel and backwardly  progressive as the Taliban. We are fighting a competent, professional and functional family of leaders. This will mean it will be harder to make ourselves look like the good guys when mistakes occur.  

7. Libya is very close to Europe. This cuts in all directions. However, it means the conflict can more easily spill into Europe than wars fought very far away.  

8. It does seem that this opposition has armed some groups and individuals more radical and hostile to American interests than the Libyan premier. I t is reported that several arms stockpiles have found their way into Al Qaeda’s hands. This creates new regional risks.

9. Our political and social doctrine is such that we cannot address most of our real interests in countries which we fight over. Thus we have created a political philosophy which is out of contact with what form and concepts of winning would suit our needs and constitution, This is among our greatest sources of social decline.

10. Obama has set himself at war with his most powerful foreign endorser.  This will give him the distance he needs from these North African forces before the 2012 election. The Libyan War also helps the UK overcome shame about the release of the Lockerbie bomber.  Face-saving wars can be necessary but they are dangerous.

11. This is a lasting war no matter what happens in the short-term, Both the end game and our interest are not clearly known.

12. Libya is being ravaged by this war. Rebuilding in Libya will be a major crisis of opportunity and danger for Italy and at this economic time that is a really big deal.

Summers Axioms: A collection of short laws on different subjects

Pro-Crime Legislation…

1. Where there is an established conflict between the law-abiding and criminals outlawing anything used in that conflict is a great benefit to the criminals.

The Dog in the Manger Fable Applied …

2. The one who takes responsibility and protects his office but does not fulfill his responsibilities very well often makes the problems he was supposed to solve much worse than if nobody was responsible.

A Map is a Map …

3. Having a simplistic model of a complex situation is often helpful. Acting as though the simple model is the complex situation is often evil.

Prisons are full of those who believe they are innocent…. 

4. Just because you do not believe in evil does not mean you are not evil.

Lazy governments want to resolve conflict. A good one wants to make peace. 

5.Conflict resolution and peacemaking are not the same thing.   Survival of all ecosystems including human ones and the balance of civilizations depends largely on unresolved conflicts.

The Peter Principle is it…

6. Very often in many civilizations important decisions are made by those certain to do the worst possible job.

A star quarterback is not also coach, referee and commissioner…

7. Beautiful young women of all types play a very important role in any healthy human culture but are not supposed to invent and police the entire role they play all by themselves.

Never use a hammer to kill the mosquito on your friends forehead  and never seek to be seen as the cowardly bully …

8. Maximum concentration of force is always bad policy. One want to use exactly the smallest force in any war which will achieve all desired objectives. The secret is not to have so many ideas based on false optimism and bad applications when estimating what is needed.

Those who always speak  in serious absolutes seldom say worthwhile things …

9. If war is not a game then do not expect anyone to win, don’t expect time out, rule discussions or referees. If war is not a game it is just slaughter and it is hard to understand what that really means — but I do.

“Let the little children come unto me. For of such is the Kingdom of God…”

10.  Many people do not ever want to be reasonable — not ever. However, none of those people are children.

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. I think it is a sort of holiday some Americans would call a “No Brainer” which does not mean observing it shows that one does not have a brain but rather that even someone with no brains could see the need for it. We need to honor our Veterans.  We need to have a holiday in which we honor our Armed services. Of course, in point of fact, we have Memorial Day and Flag Day and the Fourth of July and Armed Services Day. I am not sure of the rank of all of these days but we are a society with few official holidays at the Federal level and at least Memorial Day and Veterans Day are really military and  Independence Day has strong military overtones. I want to thank all those who have worn the uniform of this country and especially those who have either killed or put themselves in real danger of being killed or wounded in the service of the United States. Memorial Day honors the dead and Veterans Day the living but I want to honor the dead as well. I especially want to honor the memory of my cousin Severin Summers who was alive last Veterans Day and lost his life in combat in Afghanistan this year.

I honor the service of all veterans of this country but I am going to post here a former Facebook Post related to Easter. Perhaps after the tragedy of the Fort Hood shootings we could all use some of Easter’s hope and renewal and I think that the basic message is especially relevant to those US service people who are Christian.  There are of course many of those.

So here is my Facebook post:

 Monday, April 6, 2009 at 11:28am |
Many of my fellow Americans are bearing arms in the service of their country in Afghanistan and Iraq.These are the countries in which the US is more or less officially engaged in a war. We have a large number of people, mostly young men who wear uniforms, follow schedules, bear weapons, drill, fight and kill as well as dying and being wounded in those two distant lands.

Perhaps they know Jesus as the Prince of Peace. I certainly know and honor Christ as the holder of that Title. Many of them are certainly Christians and it is to the Christians who serve in the US military that I primarily address this note. I think war should be avoided whenever it is right and possible to do so. Jesus said “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly”, can it be acceptable to Christian families to have their sons, daughters, wives and husbands far away causing pain and injury to other people?

Smaller numbers of Americans are bearing arms in service of the country which has renewed my passport in Korea, Germany, Japan, Cuba, and on ships and planes around the world. In addition there are far-flung bases on quasi-American soil or a least not state soil. Tiny detachments hold a position for our interests in American Samoa and larger ones in Guam. There are bases in very powerful and not so powerful countries with whom we have had historic ties — these range from the United Kingdom to the Federated States of Micronesia. Then we have a fleet of nuclear powered and nuclear armed submarines prowling the oceanic depths. This is an impressive amount of coverage for a nation’s military. I actually find the role of the military as an institution very interesting. However it is also true that I am interested in the way our troops are mentally affected by their service. I wish all American military service personnel well as military service personnel. That is a simple position for me to take. As long as I carry an American passport, have credits with the Social Security Agency and vote in our elections in Louisiana as it now and forseeably exists — then the USA is the country I support as mine and the very important role of the military in that national team is one I have to root for in their role. Some people in uniform are also brave, honest, decent and patriotic. I like those qualities. However, I do not cheer on our folks in uniform because I think they all have these qualities. Rather, I think otherwise.

Jesus said that no man born of woman was greater than John the Baptist although the least born to the kingdom of heaven was greater than he. John the Baptist told soldiers who asked him how to live that they should not steal and should be content with their pay. Is that the sum total of New Testament advice to young Christians headed off into harm’s way to serve their country?

It is important to understand that I never have served in the uniformed services of the United States. Further, it is quite possible that this is one of the more difficult things that I have ever attempted to deal with in writing. However, I would not deal with it at all if I had not reached just a certain point in the process of my life. I am able now to write about many things I hoped I would never want to write
publicly about in the way that I now do. In this note I am tagging some people who are not either Christian, military or American. I am not tagging anyone for whom I do not have respect but I am really addressing my self in my own mind to a certain audience or readership. I am really writing to Americans who are in the armed services and celebrate Easter as a religious holiday .Reflecting on my own life and spiritual journey I am sort of appointing myself a momentary e-chaplain to Christians in the American military. I certainly could avoid discussing war. However, it would not be easy to do all the other things and seek after all the other objectives that I seek after and not acknowledge war.

Jesus healed the servant of a Centurion who had been generous to the Jewish population and never criticized him for representing an occupying army. He told his disciples that when the Roman soldiers conscripted them to carry their heavy Roman packs one mile they should carry them two miles instead. That is where we get the English expression “going the extra mile”.

I think that Christianity is entirely relevant to the discussion of war and arms in the United States. I think that Easter week especially is a relevant time to join the two discussions. It may prove to be a very thankless task indeed. I think of my countrymen and women who are coming from the aging congregations of urban Catholic Cathedral parishes, small rural Catholic chapels, incense filled Orthodox churches in ethnic neighborhoods, hard-shell Baptist churches on red dirt roads near old sawmills and bait shops, Mega Churches with Protestant preaching and modern audio-visual equipment and the average sized Catholic churches filled with families. I think of young men of 17, 18, 20, 24, 25 and 27 heading off to boot camps, training, transports and war. I think of the secular ideas which guide so much of the military structure and the whispers and influences of men as diverse as George Washington, Hitler, Clausewitz, Mohammed, Mao Zhe Dong, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Horatio Nelson, Andrew Jackson and Patton who may influence their thoughts about war. I have nothing against their learning from, and studying either the good men or the bad. However, I am driven against all sane reasoning to put down a few of my own thoughts about Jesus Christ and the Christians view of war and military service.

Jesus’s Apostles had nicknames, given names or nommes de guerre that included: the Rock, Sons of Thunder, the Zealot ( a member of a known military and anti-Roman organization) and were accustomed to life threatening situations. Crucifixion and stoning were among their regular subjects of conversation. Jesus also spoke prophetically of the coming siege of Jerusalem. Is this post of engaged observation all their Savior has to offer those who serve in the military and honor his name?

Over the course of these notes I have discussed my own life experience as it relates to this subject. However, I always repeat something from an old note in each note. I do not expect whoever chooses to read a given note to have read all the other notes. I think that it is a really difficult subject for me to deal with in conversation or writing. However, no subject is all that difficult for me to deal with. I am someone who communicates a great deal. Further, this is not the New York Times this is my Facebook notes section. It is more like drunken ramblings at a bar in some ways than it is like shouting and proclaiming from a podium. So I will try to summarize or paint a verbal picture of my background as regards this whole world of warfare. I will try to relate this to my own faith journey as well.

Jesus said ” Do you think I have come to bring peace to the Earth? I assure you that I have not come to bring peace but fire and a sword”. Is a sense of social revolution or social consciousness all these young people can bring into the upheaval of armed conflict from the one who is their model of perfection?

My grandfathers both served in the US military. I have a rather complex and rather large warrior heritage. It extends in varied directions. My mother’s father Cecil Bruce Gremillion served as a bombardier instructor in the Army Air Corp. My paternal grandfather served as an officer in the US Navy. He said he commanded a glorified private yacht in the Gulf of Mexico early in the war. Later he was part of the large fleet of vessels headed toward the invasion of Japan’s home islands when the atomic bomb ended the war. He used to say that although he saw some action in the Pacific his real anxiety was just as great in the Gulf. He said only once but with great passion that while in the Pacific he was well-armed and supported in the Gulf he and his next subordinate (perhaps an Ex. O. or a Chief I do not recall) sometimes referred to the yacht secretly as the “USS Sitting Duck” which had to do with his evaluation of the vessel’s capacity to take on a wolf pack of German submarines in full-out combat.

When Jesus was criticized for failing to keep some laws of the Sabbath by gleaning grain on that day he defended his behavior by sighting the example of King David who ate the Show bread because David was a king and he and his men were under the duress of warfare. Is Jesus’s example merely that of seeing his ministry in the pattern of military operations in his familial and national history?

I am a child of the sixties. I lived in New york and London in the 1960s and had relatives who were on élite college campuses during the heyday of the Peace Movement and the movement known as the Hippies. I never really felt that wearing black hats made some people bad and wearing white ones made other people good. I do not have the space and presume of the reader’s time enough to really cover the personal aspect fully. I am not a trusting blind supporter of the military or its policies. I would not describe myself that way at all. I am not ashamed of my own lack of courage or experience with conflict or danger. I would not describe myself that way at all.

So I wonder what I might say to those spending Holy Week and Easter in the forward zone or any other zone of the US military. First, I would say that Jesus did have you in his heart as he prayed for you that night in the Garden of Gethsemane because you are one of those who has believed. That is a great comfort in many ways. But it is also true that is evidence that God holds you to a personal standard. A Christian cannot believe that our personal lives and consciences disappear entirely into the duties and rights of a military force or a country. God will still hold you accountable for all that you do and become while you are in the services. God will not expect you to behave as if you were not a soldier, sailor, marine or airman but he still sees your heart and weighs your deeds. Of course when Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” he no doubt included martial trespasses in the economy of God’s mercy. God’s mercy is certainly a very big part of what we celebrate on Holy Week and Easter.

On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus, the Son of David entering the City of David. We remember that the crowds were shouting “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus had many who supported him his claims and his ministry.He did not shy away from leadership, rank or office and he was very open and brave.

So far everything I have written in this note is something I can live with and not regret. But now I am going to start the part that I already regret before having written it. In a sense all war is wrong and even military service. I say that as one who believes that in the Holy center of the Universes around the throne of God the angels wear and use weapons and are organized in armies. But ideally and perfectly there would be no war or planning for war. So I am writing this to an audience I want to encourage who at the same time I do not hesitate to say should ideally be doing something else. I look out at the world and the church today and feel that I too must do something immoral and which will stink in my conscience for a long time. I feel that I must reveal the some of the secrets of a society which has done great good and kept its secrets since the time of Jesus. I do not see Knightly orders, Popes,their Catholic Majesties of Spain or anyone else standing between me and this day. So I write what is precious to me hoping I am not violating Jesus’s injunction not to throw pearls before swine.

The secrets of our ancient order which I am going to reveal are hidden in the gospels themselves. Are there things hidden in the Gospels? It is a reasonable question.

“The disciples approached him (Jesus) and said, ” Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you but to them it has not been granted, To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not even what he has will be taken away. That is why I speak to them in parables, because they “look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand”.” Matthew 13:10-13 New American Bible.

Jesus was, among all the other things he was, a warrior. He did not do many of the things that leaders who inspire others have done. He did not besiege or sack cities like Mohammed or his own namesake Joshua. He did not burn down the temples of idols like these same men. He did not rejoice in blood and mayhem like Genghis Khan or the Viking Pagans. Your savior was a warrior who took his joy in weddings, Passover feasts, the Eucharist he was founding, flowers, birds and children. He did not take his joy in the sufferings of others. Our age is very different from the spirit of that secret warrior Jesus but nonetheless in following the warrior’s path you are not straying from the path of Jesus’s own experience.

Josephus either implies or states that during the siege of Jerusalem the Jews turned to Cannibalism and ate one another. People eating other people is a huge and undiscussed part of human history and experience. It is one of the most important struggles of human history. Many societies have been proudly and openly cannibalistic. Many people in the world in 2009 are cannibals. Rome was a place where public law and morals condemned cannibalism. It was a place where officials would have been ashamed to admit to having dealings with merchants trafficking in human flesh. I know to my own satisfaction that here were non Jews eating and butchering Jews at that siege. By mentioning cannibalism at all, even blaming it on the Jews, Josephus put his own life at risk. In Rome there were a group of unofficial but sophisticated pirates who participated in the war machine by buying slaves on the cheap after battles and sieges as well as capturing all they could in the invaded country. They killed these people, often with torture and sport and then made sausage or pies out of them mixing the human flesh with pork.They made a very good profit on this in part because they worked the people as slaves before reducing them to food and extorted knowledge about the new lands fallen before the Roman banner. For this purpose they located large herds of swine near the lands to be destroyed in advance. They were wealthy, powerful, cunning, well-armed, possessed of assassins corps and called themselves demons. They had a handful of key agents throughout every Roman Imperial government. They were an order older than Rome itself and not entirely Roman. There were at least tens of thousands of men at arms at their command both in the Empire and in non-Roman lands. These were the enemies Jesus fought with 12 Apostles, 72 zealous highly trained disciples divided into groups of six for each Apostle. Then he had 38 reserve guards. All were also trained in charitable ministry and his preaching this was not a made up addition later on and yet with 133 part-timers(the ten not enumerated are my last nod towards a disappearing tradition) and the women officials and crowds who supported them Jesus opposed one of the most fierce and powerful forces ever to have existed.

The events of Jesus’s war are chronicled in specific events:
Event One:
Matthew 8:22-27 / Mark 4: 35-41
Jesus calms the storm at Sea

Event Two:
Matthew 8:28-34 / Mark 5:1-20
Jesus crosses the sea of Galilee
Demons are confronted
a herd of swine are destroyed
captive freed
Jesus leaves the region with the ones remaining very upset

Event Three:
Matthew 14: 13-21 / Mark 6;34-44
Jesus feeds 5000 people mysteriously
the disciples are instructed to collect all the fragments

Event Four:
Matthew 14:22-33 / Mark 6:45-52
Jesus is seen walking on the water with Peter.

Event Five:
Mark 8:1-10
Jesus feeds 4000 people. Mark makes it clear that these were multiple events.

Event Six:
Matthew 16: 21-23 / Mark 8: 31-33
Jesus begins to predict the Passion and Crucifixion in Jerusalem as inevitably the end of his life.

Jesus and his élite units used to wait for the worst storms on the Sea of Galilee. They crossed the sea in those storms under his fearless leadership. They opened the early pens located by the demons there in anticipation of the Roman destruction of the Jews and they liberated the prisoners. They then drove the pigs from the demons herds into the sea. Jesus was a carpenter and he located wooden butchering sites at hidden spots in the out in the lake. The crews would remove nets filled with rocks and the rafts would float to the surface. Then his crew would attach inflated pig skins and pig bladders to increase buoyancy. On these non free board platforms they would slaughter the pigs and butcher them into boneless slabs of fish shaped meats. They would dump the entrails, guts, bones and heads in the lake. Knowledge of these dumps enabled him to instruct fisherman as to where to put down their nets to get a great catch. Then they would cover the platforms with nets filled with rocks and arrive at shore near guarded ovens. Reusing fish bones from each feeding and buying distressed fish from other fishermen with knowledge of where great catches could be found they would take a breading and adhere two pork steaks to the fish skeletons. They mixed these porkfish with regular bread and fish and fed thousands repeatedly. This also attracted donations from those who wanted to contribute something and these resources funded a large ministry of healing and teaching. Jesus constantly taught that eating unclean food (such as pork) did not make someone immoral. Once Peter and Jesus were seen using these platforms it was inevitable that Jesus would be killed. He chose to make this happen in a very specific public way in Jerusalem and create pressures on the demons.

After cleansing the Temple, Jesus managed to give on last speech to a huge crowd before being arrested and killed. He said two things at once. To his disciples he said that he was the living water and if they recognized him and believed in him then he would flow out of their hearts and meet their needs for courage and peace of soul. To the handful of demon spies the same words literally were: if you recognize me from the stormy waters, I am the water that made your guards thirst no more and living water (blood) flow from their chest.

Jesus was not a great general, he had no palaces, published glories,nor vast armies and suffered more than he made his enemies suffer. He spent time healing, forgiving and seeking peace, he was humble and meek at many times (not always meek and almost never mild) but he was a warrior. In terms only of skill and bravery he was as he was at everything– arguably the best there has ever been. Yes, I mean that seriously. Your churches and mine may in the end condemn me for what I write and I think his contribution to war is lost in the mists of time. But your Savior has not left you as orphans in this world of war. There are no simple answers, no excuses, no blood lust but the Prince of Peace was a man of war and you need not doubt him as you celebrate his legacy in an armed camp.

Happy Easter! I hope this note which makes me so unhappy is useful to someone. I have no doubt that it is largely correct.

 
End of Facebook Post–
 
I wish everyone a good and pleasant veterans day. We are a nation in trouble in many ways but our military must play a key role in any chance we have for a better future. 

Getting into the Nitty Gritty of Warfare and Peace

President Barry Soetero-Barak Hussein Obama is putting out feelers, or trial balloons about reducing troop strength in Afghanistan and that is after he used the carrot of build-up in Afghanistan to reduce forces in Iraq. He is closing the prison in Guantanamo. He has said he believes in a world without nuclear weapons. He supports a two state solution in Israel to the Palestinian crisis. He was endorsed by Hamas before the election.  He is alligned with the ACORN agency recently exposed as very averse to keeping the law. He has said he believes we must stop using coal. He has been explicit in making Islam an equaly important fount of culture in the United States with  Christianity. He is devoted to stirring up a great deal of animosity in towns where nobody has yelled and screamed in a political gathering since the War Between the States.  

 I find him to be a real threat to national security. However,  I haven’t been feeling all that secure before he got here. I know some good military people that I would like to think are my friends  although I have never worn my country’s uniform.  I would be happy to see the constitution ammended to seat some senior officers upon retirement in more important government positions. However, I do believe that we are losing the struggle for a culture which is both militarily effective and decent. I was reading in this morning’s home’s rural sheriff has organized a junior posse where youngster’s can learn a little about law enforcement and a lot about horses. I like that my elected official is doing that. It may be a seed bed for a renewal of chivalry in this area. Here is some food for thought.

This post originalyappeared on my Facebook Account on August 28, 2008.

 Chivalry is dead. “No it’s not dead, I saw a dude open the door for his woman last week”. Chivalry and Knighthood are among my favorite subjects about which I have never written for pay or publication except in some passing comment in a larger piece. I once heard Margaret Thatcher on C-Span’s coverage of the Prime Minister’s question time and one of her own people gave her a softball question. “Does not the honorable lady resent the tone of these proceedings and regret that chivalry is truly dead?” The elder statesman had a fierce quiet about him.

“Chivalry is not truly dead so long as the right honorable gentlemman is here to defend it and exemplify it.” Thatcher’s reply was entirely riveting in its delivery.

Chivalry is one of the greater mysteries of the world in my view. It has seen many distinct forms but it has some common ideal essence underlying those forms. There have been good knights and evil knights, famous knights and obscure knights. Great knights have been known for their great wealth but among the wealthiest were a group long distinguished by their poverty. Knights have been avowed celibate aesthetics, courtly lovers and Bon Vivants. What then is a knight? What then is chivalry?

Many very serious books by good scholars have been written on the subject of chivalry and knights. Yet oftentimes these books share the same serious mistake they confuse one or a few traditions of chivalry with the whole of the chivalric tradition. On the other hand, a number of books heavy with photos, etching, drawings anecdotes and quotes out of context that were intended as popular quasi-scholarship have done a better job of capturing the essence and the breadth of chivalry. While not refering to any specific books this has been my experience.

In this note I want to discuss some of the chivalric traditions and institutions of my own heritage in the context of all that is chivalry. Like alll these notes this is being written without many or any sources at hand, in a kind of hurry and briefly. Yet, here it goes and here I go again.

I will start with chivalry, an English word deriving from the French word “Chevalier” which for all practical purposes is synonymous with the English word knight but also is a word like “horseman”. It refers to the animal in the word itself –“cheval” being the word for horse.

Horses, his order, women, weapons and the divine make up the points of the knightly star. Horses are important. Too little horse and there really can be no knight. Knights are not just whatever someone thinks that they are. One of the things which I want to confront directly is the idea that horsefighting and cavalry are obsolete.

Hard as it will be for US military types to accept, I seriously believe that if the US had 10,000 top knotch horse troops in Iraq and Afghanistan it would be an enormous assistance to American efforts in those theaters. It would also mean thirty thousand war horses, five thousand guide and dispatch horses, two thousand pack mules and ideally about four thousand specialized dogs in work groups and teams. Local young people could be hired to care for many of these animals creating at least two thousand employees who could not betray valuable secrets but could develop close ties to their employing American horsemen. Horse armor and meds would be a huge area of military research as would helicopter and transport plane transit for the horseborne units. The amount of jamming equipment, communications gear and and IED detecting instruments that can be carried by a well armored man on a Clydesdale or Percheron backed up by a pack mule far exceeds what two men can carry into rough terrain. The speed and point of view of men on Arabians and Thoroughbreds in the front of the same squadron is much better in many situations than a fine special forces scout can ever achieve. After these advantages there are others not so obvious to having horse units in the field. Just because we don’t design for horse war does not mean that it is obsolete. Horse troops with infantry under air support could do many things which are currently impossible.

Most countries in the world today which issue knighthoods of any kind leave the horse completely out of the official eqasion. However, until the British recently abolished fox hunting,  British knights have usually remained a demonstrably horsey set. Republican France maintains both some knighthoods and some official ceremonial cavlary units. Horseback hunting is also still practiced by the French nobility last I checked. When the influence of the horse is completely gone so is the chivalry. Some camel mounted, elephant mounted and dog drawn warriors had as fine an embryonic set of knightly values in ages past as anyone could. Greek footsoldiers laid the foundations of much of Chivalry as did shipborne Viking marines. Without exception however, when chivalry reached its peak in a society the horse played a vital role in the institution.

I am not just picking on the modern British monarchy here although that is one of my favorite hobbies. Among the ceremonial knighthoods of an admittedly decadent and mysterious Acadian Royalty (last come close to full light in the time of Joseph Broussard, Chief Beausoleil des Acadiens who used that misspelling of Basileus Arkadios over his open court in the 18th century) the Ridelles have been groups of horsemen who oversaw the ceremonial Couriere de Mardi Gras in each community. Most of these groups have died out and many others use almost entirely automotive and foot transit for the ritual. I therefore feel no cultural superiority in this regard.

I will warm up any mind engaged in reading this note to the idea that a good part of it will be about Chivalry in the United States. I think that many people have a view that knighthood and the American tradition have little to do with one another or nothing at all. So we can look at some of the history and connections together. There has of course never been a king of the United States of America and that is a weakness in its chivalric claims as a nation. However, there is no requirement of perfect adhesion to all aspects of a chivalric ideal to be really a knight. While, I am inactive, I am a Knight of Columbus. That order does a lot of good under a knightly banner and with knightly ideals and style despite the imperfection of it chivalric structure.

One of the most controversial examples of raising the chivalric banner is that of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and their invisible empire. This group was made a success and a celebrated institution by one of its early members recruited by an obscure co-founder named Morton. That celebrated early member was one of the last great cavalry officers which history has given us to ponder. Nathan Bedford Forrest rose to high rank in the Cofederate army. This early Klansman who often was honored as “the wizard of the saddle” was a poorly educated and untitled self-made millionaire who had never held a commission or any public office prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. The original Klan which he rose to lead and which was a serious institution in so many ways was disbanded by him. This chivalric order has been very influential in American life.

I have a theory as to some of its original elements which is not a universally accepted theory. One of the many lies and myths used to justify the destruction of Constitutional government during the civil war and the unconscionable behavior of most union troops is the idea that the South felt threatened because it was paranoid but that the status quo would have gone on had the Southern states not brought all the misery on themselves. That is absurd.

There were northern and foreign provocateurs destroying civilization in the South in a big way from 1850 onwards. They found local and regional support and waves of violence and unrest plagued the region. Militia and vigilantes were raised to counter thses threat in some places. One of the largest vigilante organizations in American histoy existed among the Comites de Vigilance de La Louisiane. The most distinguished of these committees was the Comite de Vigilance des Attakapas which was located and centered near where I live. This is the land of the largely extinct or absorbed Attakapas Indian Nation. One of the principal captains was my ancestor Severeign Leblanc. He answered to the Moutons only who produced in a few generations a Governor of Louisiana and the most prominent Acadian officer in the Confederate forces — General Mouton who died at Shiloh but fought bravely around here whenever he got wounded in a Northern Campaign. Some say that the title of Basileus Arkadios or Basielus Arcadies (King of the Arcadians) passed from The Broussards Famille de Beausoleil to Moutons and then after the Civil War or during it trransferred to the Leblancs. The Moutons included many elements of the ancient ridelles in their instiutions. This mix of vigilante and ridelle elements is seen in much of the iconography of the Klan. The Klan even has a Greek name. It is Ku Klux but that signifies Cuclos which means circle. Thus the Circle Clan which has three Cs is now replaced with three Ks. Even Forrest’s Klan was in my opinion far inferior to the Comites. However, the non horse Klans since are not even close.

Forrest is alleged to have dissolved his Klan because discipline had been replaced with spasmodic violence. His own character was badly damaged I think but it was the ruin of a great thing. The Comites on the other hand, held a trial in absentia, then issued a warning to the accused to leave, then they flogged the person accused and left them alone and only if they did not then leave the region did they excute them by lynching. While there were exceptions this rule was really observed. They hired a professional historian to live among them and record their activities, published their names on occasion and supporting the growing political movement that became the Confederate States of America. No founders of the Klan had this formative experience but many were able meet or serve with former members during the war. When they had to the Comites enforced there orders against armed banditti with hundreds of gunmen. They used cannons, horses and drilled formationjs of fast shooting vigilantes to flush out hideouts of bandits. They never collapsed into the paranoid spasms of terrorism the Klan got into. But they never faced a situation with 200,000 armed and hate-filled slaves deiven by a rich and mechanized enemy. The Klan is a hard institution for me to judge.
Some say that the Comites still survive but there is not much evidence for it. Acadians have been in a state of decline until recently and the Comites were expensive.

In my family and extended family as well as in parts of my life that were very individual the chivalric ideal was tied into the ideal of the cowboy and the American horseman in other contexts. To our rough and ready western and Castilian riding skills we added the observation of cousins and strangers with postilian and horse show skills. The horses were a part of us all and as we learned to teach them they were teaching us a great deal. They were forming our minds along with constant pursuits with weapons. hunting, target shooting and relatives in military school combined with Catholicism which is one of the most chivalric forms of religion. That and the fact that later in life my grandfather became a Knight of St. Lazarus. He joined a knightly order that had once had its own army and navy and for which the Pope played the role unltimate Earthly prince and monarch. We sedlom discussed chivalry as directly applying to us but we did discuss it as a historic pattern and an institution or set of institutions.

I personally have added to that basic foundation with a lot of both academic and practical study of combat. I havealso taken a strong interest in a lot of other aspects of chivalry such as relating to women and to God. In my travels around the world I think I have learned a good bit that has in has further enriched my view of chivalry.

One of my Facebook friends is Louis De Bourbon, Duke of Anjou, head of the French House of Bourbon (Louis de Bourbon is not my Facebook friend as I post this on WordPress). He has gathered a company of knights around him to assert the claims of his family and restore the French Monarchy. Many Americans feel that the Fench republic is a kind of sister state to their own country. Actually a Bourbon king and the Marquis de Lafayette were among the largest financial and military backers of the revolution. Probably Louis and Marie Antoinette died mostly because of the money spent on our war.  The Marquis was a lifelong constitutional royalist who helped put a Bourbon prince on the trhone again after the reign of teror and the revolution. Perhaps this Friends block member deserves a sympathetic reviewing of his plans by his American cyber neighbors.

There is far more I would like to discuss about Chivalry. Mostly how an order, weapons, a horse and a religion more help knights to develop skill in dealing with women. There have been a handful of women knights but far more of them worked with and encouraged the knights with whom they interacted. I am leaving a lot unsaid today in this note. But I say enough and sense some urgency to get my little voice into the ether.

Assuming I live long enough there  I will probably be notes filling in the blanks in this note. I say long live chivalry!

The End of Facebook Post.

I know this does not directly address any of the policy issues I started this post with. However, it does deal with the issue of culture and one basis of national security. One of my cousins has recently been buried at Arlington after being killed in Afghanistan, He and I had a long talk about the nature of wars and warriors about a year before he died.  I hope I will be worthy of the price he paid and do what I can to honor a brave volunteer who met his enemies at close range on the gorund much of the time. I have a peace heritage as well and have probaly gone a bit too far at times in that direction. But I hope the President of the United Staes is not undermining the basis of our independence and hope for peace.

Werewolves

 

These posts were first published in a Facebook group known as Why Are People So Fascinated By The Strange/Macabre/Horrifying/Alien???? , this group was founded by a very young woman who’s name is preserved in the open group. However, I am now one the administrators and she has moved on to greener pastures. Are you interested in werewolves? If so this is short… 

Post #1
You wroteon February 9, 2009 at 1:41pm
I think that whole it is perfectly acceptable to have a group like this that lumps a variety of phenomena trogether and it is true that all of them seem alien to modern urban life the actual answers to these questions must each be different. People are interested in anything that coud be dangerous and is unusual because despite the impression some might have the failure to be interested in such things would be complete insanity.

As with many other things on the list the tradition of werewolves must be approached from two sides that are very far apart. One side is the very ancient roots of the phenoenon and the belief in the phenomenon and the pother is modern popular culture and other learning based on a very long tradition that includes much of fiction.

In this post I am going to deal with the very remote origins of lycanthropy or werewolfism as it once changed the world. At one time many hunter-gatherer bands were often nearly starving and stagnating during the winters trapped in valleys surrounded by other tribes, clan and bansd or were otherwise isolated. During hard times killing and eating one another led to the roots of other legends such as vampires.

Then suddenly the first people to believe in werewolves were attacked on a full moon. The ice sheet reflected the lightas groups of of wolves and wild dogs pulled sleds of warriors into a circle around their camp . Wolves killed warriors as they were driven by men who howled and wore wolf skins. Many in the band were killed as these wolfpeople showed superior power in so many ways.

But the he wolfpeople subjugated and in a sense taxed the band. Secrets known to the wolfmen were guarded. The band now recieved trade goods by leaving them with wolf men and then there were carried far and fast to othere bands. Slaves and brides and warriors were sometimes blindfolded but only the learned were given access to hunting packs and sled wolves. Many had seen enough to know that these were not ordinary people but people who could become wolves.

When times were bad people ate some of the wolves. There were fewer bad times and canabalism was discouraged. The bodies of enemies were fed to the wolves and some part of each wolf man but burial rites signified liberation from canabalism. However, when the wolves were eaten werewolf priests and Shamanic leaders would remember that they had eaten men and that man became wolf and wolf became man. In time dogs would become ordinary in alll of these ancient tribes and the wolf rites, traditions and cults would appeal more to a group of mostly warriors in those peoples. However in some areas that original era of 100% real werewolves running things lasted for longer than we have had priniting presses.

My next post in this topic will be on lycanthropy since those early days. But the first phase is where the deep and powerful energy of the subject comes from.

Post #2
You wrote on February 10, 2009 at 8:29am
Over centuries as knowledge of wolves and dogs diffused among people who found little significance in these animals. Those warrior groups and other societies that preserved the secret knowledge of these early werewolves relied more on rituals, storie, secrecy and other esoteric elements to preserve their identity. People as humans have learned a huge amount from empathizing with, imitating and collaborating with animals. These societites would be in competition with horsemen/centaurs/early knights and some gorups of witches and others that used familiar animals.

So werewolf prospects were soon defined as those with warrior ability, a knack with anuimals and people who had a definable affinity with wolves. This “wolf in the man” (or “wolf in the woman” in some societies whiich had member of both sexes) began to be the basis of the individual centered disease/curse/gift kind of lycanthropy which is the basis of most books and movies. Through channeling and cultivating their wolf like qualities these people could reach parts of their human nature that were otherwise cut off from modern humans. They also caaried on a tradition related to the original phase.

These warrior societies occurred in many place where a dog-pulled travois could never be as fast as a dog sled and where large wolves were rare or unavailable. So in most places and times the groups shrunk and became less important. The tradition diffused and the werewolves survived as an increasingly shadowy phenomenon in most places relying on theatricality and attracting people who were more comfortable with dogs or wolves than people , who were violent outlaws and who had certain physical-mental conditions for which the old werewolf disciplines provided help and a cure.In most cases it was such small groups or individuals who provided the basis for ever richher stories as werewolves could not object anymore effiectively. While some more or less ancient werewolves survived the fiction and literature of all kinds was mostly based on these decaying and troubled forms. That does not mean they were all poor and insignificant. The silver bullet associated with killing werewolves in early modern times is the same projectile that was believed necessary to kill and a good and true king. Royal and noble families often were last bastions of older forms of lycanthropy.