The Japanese Revival?

With what money?

“The pressures imposed by China’s rise must be understood in context of another structural shift: the maturation of the American grand strategy. As we have argued, the United States is transitioning from a grand strategy grounded in direct, tight and costly control of the balance of power in other regions to one in which the United States relies more heavily on regional partners to maintain the balance of power on its behalf. Certainly, this strategy will not unfold uniformly across all parts of the world. The United States historically has sought to exert tighter control over its Asian allies than those in Europe, working largely through bilateral rather than multilateral alliance frameworks, in part to deflect those allies’, and especially Japan’s, ambitions. The Asian “pivot” initiative, though progressing slowly, suggests the United States will seek to maintain a more robust diplomatic and security presence in the Asia-Pacific region for the time being.

Nonetheless, as Japan’s lurch toward military normalization and a more proactive regional security posture attests, the United States’ approach to East Asia is evolving in line with its maturing grand strategy. Simply put, military normalization and expansion in Japan would not happen without at least tacit approval from the United States.”

Prelude to a Japanese Revival is republished with permission of Stratfor.

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Form v. Function: Warriors As Bureaucrats

Musashi wrote that it matters not which stance one adopts in combat, whether it be the low guard or the high guard, the left stance or the right stance, adding that the way of strategy is in cutting down the enemy. Form must follow function. The everyday stance must be the combat stance and the combat stance must be the everyday stance. From this we find military adages such as an inspection ready unit is not ready for combat and a combat ready unit will never pass an inspection. This is true, yet seldom examined. Why?

The nature of military organizations when not actively engaged in conflict is to become increasingly bureaucratic. The further away from combat, the further detached the organization’s mentality becomes from what is important. This occurs not only geographically, but also in time, such that the lessons of history are distorted or forgotten. Not only is truth the first casualty of war, but also the first casualty of bureaucracy. The military organizations that become larger also have a tendency to be geographically dispersed, to the extent that parts of the organization are also detached from the realities of combat. This has been true since time immemorial.

As the Gempei wars in Japan raged between the nation’s two major factions, Minamoto Yoritomo, who would go on to establish the first military rule and take the title Shogun, specialized in administration and court intrigue, while his brother Minamoto Yoshitsune was winning victories in the field. Yoritomo enjoyed the status and position of being the head of his military faction, yet eschewed leading the battles directly, for in his mind the real generalship was in the political realm. Yoshitsune, on the other hand, focused on implementing guile, strategy, and unconvential tactics to route opponents.


Yoshitsune & Benkei: Sneak Attack on the Taira in the battle of Ichi no Tani.

In so doing, Yoshitsune developed a reputation as a great leader and became hugely popular among the troops and the people. Before long, Yoritomo’s jealousy for his brother’s popularity led to contrived charges of treachery and, once the major battles were finally won, Yoshitsune was declared an outlaw. Despite appealing to his brother and declaring his loyalty while on the run, Yoshitsune was killed in battle against a division of the same army he had been fighting for. In the long run, the politically minded bureaucrat won out over the battle tested tactician.

The very nature of bureaucratic organizations is to put form ahead of function, in terms of priority. Adherence to rules, uniformity, and support of the party line are more important than tangible results. To be successful in battle, most frequently, rules must be discarded, regulations ignored, and unpredictable tactics employed. This spontaneity is anathema to the politician or bureaucrat. The politician cannot get ahead of the spin cycle or appear to take credit for such irregularity. The bureaucrat cannot orient on the unconventional. It does not compute within the framework of regulations established to set order within the organization. They have no way to measure success outside of this conformity.

Whereas the warrior adheres to principles that lead to victory, the bureaucrat adheres to regulations that maintain the status quo. The two are irreconcilable.

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Never Mind Article 9, Japan needs PMCs

Never mind amending Article 9 of the constitution, what Japanese people need are private military & security companies.

Article9The murder of two Japanese men by Jihadi John and the Islamic State highlights the inability of the Japanese government to protect their citizens that go abroad. This is a natural outcome and one that a change in the Japanese constitution will not alter. While Article 9 rejects the use of war as a policy tool, changing this will not help Japanese people that find themselves in harm’s way while traveling to foreign lands.


ISIL announced the executions as a response to Prime Minister Abe’s announcement of $200 million worth of aid to country’s fighting against the jihadist group. However, ISIL’s abduction of the two Japanese men occurred months before the announcement and their government did little to end their captivity. While Japan’s self-defense forces, and particularly its navy and coast guard are capable, competent, and highly equipped, as far as such forces go, a national effort to defeat ISIL or even mount a rescue operation would require committing to the coalition forces currently battling the group through NATO equipped proxy forces and air strikes. Aside from political support, the addition of JSDF brings little to the coalition and nothing unique in terms of capability.


Not since Helen of Troy has the abduction of one citizen launched a full scale invasion of a foreign territory, and even in that case there were larger motivations at play. The supposed kidnapping was only a pretext to launch the war. Japanese citizens should not expect the Japanese government to invade the Levant or any other country should they find themselves jammed up beyond their shores.

For all of the rhetoric about nation-states not negotiating with terrorists, rational actors parley with their opponents all the time. While ISIL is ideologically motivated to carve out a swath of territory where they can practice their own form of Islam and strict observance of their interpretation of sharia law, governing a area and upholding legitimacy requires bargaining and concessions, particularly with the local inhabitants.  Ruling through repression and brutality can only go so far.  It is only through the intolerance of state policies, such as non-negotiation or unconditional surrender, that people are trampled in the wake of nationalism.

PRIVATE-CONTRACTORS-IQPeople everywhere, informed particularly through the recent Japanese experience, should cease relying upon such absurdity for their protective needs while abroad.  A kidnap and ransom insurance policy puts the resources of a well-capitalized firm in their corner, rather than leaving their lives flailing in the winds of political-bureaucratic machinations. Every day while nation-states are wrangling amongst each other in the UN Security Council, making feckless policy statements, and enjoying high-dollar meetings in Davos, insurance companies are conducting rescues in the remotest areas of Africa, Central Asia, and South America. Whether for medical emergencies or as a result of criminal activity, there is a market for security that actually works, and it works despite the roadblocks established by self-aggrandizing political hacks.

proof-of-life-7Reclaiming the money wasted on ineffectual bureaucratic security institutions, as well as the destruction and animosity they spread, will free up resources so people can choose private security providers that actually deliver. Japanese people should consider this as an alternative to a return to nationalistic militarism.

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The ninja are coming!

From KGS NightWatch:


What is especially outrageous to the Japanese is that the ISIL executioner said on the video that he was killing the hostages because Japan was a member of the US-led coalition against ISIL. Japan has never participated in the US-led fight against ISIL in Syria or Iraq in any fashion.

Goto photo

Actions, especially lies, have consequences. Prime Minister Abe has the support of the people for seeking revenge, but in a Japanese way. Japan will join the nations determined to kill ISIL, but not the US-led coalition. Japan will send assassins.


Ironically and naively, US policymakers and planners have struggled for decades to persuade Japan to increase its defense budgets; to take on a greater share of responsibility for its own defense, and to participate more in multilateral, global security operations by committing self-defense forces…All of this was driven primarily by US budgetary considerations.”

None of those, however, have had the effect of the two beheadings in arousing Japanese nationalism and the national outcry for revenge.

The ignorant Islamists who call themselves jihadists have done more in a single weekend to awaken the Japanese military spirit than anything North Korea, China and the US have done in seven decades. They have awakened a sleeping giant that is extremely dangerous.

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Dueling Concepts on American Sniper

I wonder why it is so difficult for some to entertain two concepts simultaneously.  Take for instance the conflict between the North and South United States from 1861-1865.  Is it really difficult for someone to be at the same time against the practice of slave labor and invading the territory of a separate and distinct political unit?  I find no difficulty in denouncing both slavery and foreign invasions, yet many seem bent on decrying one while condoning the other.

Another example surrounds the movie “American Sniper” and the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.  One can be opposed to the 2nd Iraq War and appreciate the compelling story of Kyle’s life, yet many have written the movie off as war propaganda and an endorsement of militarism.  Need this be so?

The possibility exists to both “support the troops” and call for an end to interventionist foreign policy.  In fact, these two concepts may be mutually reinforcing.  I find it rather easy to say “bless our heroes” and follow up with “bring them home”.

Similarly, I can appreciate the skill, discipline, and valor of military or law enforcement snipers, while simultaneously recognizing that they are, in general, misemployed by politicians and bureaucrats under the sway of the government industrial complex.

An excellent example of this in the movie “Jarhead” where Marine snipers are sent on a mission to kill an Iraqi general and at the moment the trigger is about to release a high velocity bullet, the battalion executive officer spoils their shot and instead decides to call in a massive airstrike destroying not only the prized general, but his entire staff and the building their standing in.

The familiar saying is that the military gets to do some of the coolest things on earth, like shooting, camping, parachuting, hiking, scuba diving, etc, and then figures out ways to make them suck.

Precision shooting is a necessary skill set for a society’s warriors, whether the threats be internal or external, snipers can rightly end hostage takings and interstate occupations with minimum destruction, thereby fulfilling Sun Tzu’s maxim to “take it whole when contending”.  Rather than asserting regime change through sanctions and invasions that impoverish entire populations, a well aimed shot can remove a dictator or enemy commander like excising a tumor rather than amputating an entire limb.  The trouble arises through the “impersonal” nature of the nation-state.

The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 established the nation-state as the primary actor in the international system and established an agreement that head’s of state were illegitimate military targets since they were acting in the capacity of their office, rather than for their own benefit as monarchs and princes once did.  So rather than assassinating a meddlesome king making belligerent decrees, the conduct of war became the actions of entire nations against one another.  The source of the conflict could no longer be pinpointed and addressed as with a king or his direct appointee, rather ethereal and abstract offices issue “policy”.  War became total among populations.  Negotiated settlements became impossible, as they were replaced by the need for unconditional surrender.

Only the dead have seen the end of war.  The skill sets of war fighting, tactics, and strategy remain valuable no matter how “civilized” societies may appear.  Yet skillful employment remains the key variable of whether they are used for good or ill.

SWAT teams, sniping, and private military companies (yes, like Blackwater) can all be valuable to the security and defense of society…until they are employed by bureaucrats and politicians.  Then all of these things become destructive elements within civilized society, they become the antithesis of civilization.

SWAT teams are good when they resolve a hostage/barricade situation or some other special tactical problem, yet as the enforcement tool of the ill conceived war on drugs and all other victimless crimes, they destroy lives and property with equipment donated from the military.

Snipers are a force for good if they were to expel an invading force decapitated from their leader, yet as part of the invading and occupying force in an interventionist foreign war, they are the harbingers of oppression.

Private military companies can secure people, resources, and legitimately held property in dangerous environments, yet when used as an extension or “surge capacity” of the military complex on a destructive campaign, they simply compound the travesty.

All of these skills and organizations are, and I believe will, be present in a free and prosperous society.  Yet they will not enjoy monopoly privileges, qualified immunities, or any other government granted advantages.  Indeed, any such claims to privilege or immunity are, and will be, completely illegitimate.  This means that they will have to train ever more diligently to avoid costly mistakes.  The fat, lame, and incompetent will be purged from the warrior class rather than coddled as they are now, and the corrupt or those that fail to fulfill their promises will lose market share those that uphold their integrity and agreements.

In short, entertaining dual concepts requires clarity of thought and abandoning false mental entanglements.  War-fighting skills are essential for the security of a peaceful society.  It is how they are employed, and by whom, that makes the difference.

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A Federated Libya?

The apparent chaos, conflict, and social strife evident in the world stimulates calls for political solutions. Various think tanks, government agencies, and international bodies have offered solutions to a range of crises dominating the headlines. One such crisis is the ongoing situation in the nation-state formerly known as Libya. The Atlantic Council recently released a report that calls for a federated structure between the three historically distinct regions within the territory: Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and Tripolitania. While hinting at a decentralized power structure united under a common constitution, the advice of the Atlantic Council fundamentally errs in supporting an arrangement certain to continue the conflict.

In calling for a strong unitary state with federated constituents, the Council advocates for the bulk of decision making to be made by a national assembly, yet administered at the local level. Particularly with regard to the control of oil revenues, placing resources into the hands of a central state leads to an aggregation of special interests, political factions, and power brokers to compete over the spoils. That the central government in Tripoli wants to control the oil resources of the east, just as it was under Qaddafi, should come as no surprise: Politicians love to spend other people’s money, and by virtue of their untenable position, must do so in order to curry favor and buy votes. That the people in Benghazi and the owners of the territory where the oil is being extracted have an interest in preserving their wealth should also come as no surprise. They too wish to keep what they have earned and maintain local control of their property. The question is one of legitimacy. Both centers consider their position legitimate and the other as not.

International organizations, including the United Nations, the Council On Foreign Relations, and the Atlantic Council, also have vested interests in maintaining the status quo in the state-centered international system. Radical decentralization and secessionist movements offer disruptions to the balance of power, and as such, are considered anathema to political legitimacy.

The question then becomes one of credibility as much of legitimacy. Who has more credibility to determine the legitimacy of a political body, the people themselves as in a call for self-determination or the outside institutions that confer recognition?

History shows that a self-determined polity rarely achieves legitimacy without outside recognition. The United States first achieved recognition by the Kingdom of Morocco once seceded from the British and the support of France played a significant role in the sustainment of that legitimacy, in addition to the military support during the revolutionary war. Political units that fail to achieve outside recognition rarely survive, and Africa has a diverse body of recent examples, including Rhodesia, Biafra, and Katanga. When the international community does not support a group’s self-determination electives, the chances of survival diminish considerably, particularly when subjected to blockades, embargoes, and outright hostilities such as those in the three cases listed above.

That the national assembly in Tripoli would rather see oil resources destroyed than sold to benefit the owners of those resources in Cyrenaica has been evidenced by recent actions. Private property is always at odds with democracy. A democratic unitary state with federated administrative regions will not solve the problems in Libya, only exacerbate them.  This is why international organizations must deny self-determination.

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Point Blank on the Charlie Hebdo shooting…

Worth a closer, independent, look:

Charlie Hebdo Shooting

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Origins of the police

While albeit misdiagnosing causes and cures (they can’t help it, their social theory is based on inverted class analysis), even the commies recognize that tax-funded police services are a sham: “The rise of the police, which came along with the rise of the prosecutors, meant that the state was putting its thumb on the scales of justice…
That’s the key—we can make an alternative available again…abolishing the police as a separate state force, apart from the citizenry.”

Works in theory

The Five Points district of lower Manhattan, painted by George Catlin in 1827. New York’s first free Black settlement, it became a mixed-race slum, home to Blacks and Irish alike, and a focal point for the stormy collective life of the new working class. Cops were invented to gain control over neighborhoods and populations like this. The Five Points district of lower Manhattan, painted by George Catlin in 1827. New York’s first free Black settlement, Five Points was also a destination for Irish immigrants and a focal point for the stormy collective life of the new working class. Cops were invented to gain control over neighborhoods and populations like this.

In England and the United States, the police were invented within the space of just a few decades—roughly from 1825 to 1855.

The new institution was not a response to an increase in crime, and it really didn’t lead to new methods for dealing with crime. The most common way for authorities to solve a crime, before and since the invention of police, has been for someone to tell them who did it.

Besides, crime has to do with the acts of individuals, and the ruling elites who invented the police were responding to challenges posed by collective…

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State Formation as Organized Crime

“…states organize violence in ways similar to organized crime; states simply do it on a larger scale…”

State Formation as Organized Crime.

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Kote Gaeshi: study the angle of the elbow

placing a lot of power through the wrist joint shows a very low-level of skill and that kind of technique is how a beginner would apply the technique. If we want to be good at kote gaeshi we should focus on throwing people using only the angle of the elbow.

Lee's Life (いわまのたより)


Last night we spent time practicing kote gaeshi, one of the iconic techniques of the martial arts. Almost all martial arts from asian countries have this technique included in their syllabus in one way or another.

Whenever we practice kote gaeshi Sensei often talks about the need to make sure that you open up your body completely. But last night he chose to emphasize the importance of making the correct angle with the partners elbow. He told us that although the technique’s name mentions the wrist the most important thing is to make the correct angle at the elbow. We should try to make a ninety degree angle with the elbow and step directly behind our partner. We must not step back or take distance from our partner. we must maintain a good distance that allows us to make the correct angle at the elbow.

I remember Sensei  saying a long ago that placing a lot…

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