Ex-Blackwater Chief Urges Hired Guns to Take on ISIS

On second thought, just leave the Pentagon out of it altogether: “The private sector has long provided nations around the world with innovative solutions to national defense problems in a variety of ways, from the kinetic to the background logistical support…a multi-brigade-size unit of veteran American contractors or a multi-national force could be rapidly assembled and deployed to be that necessary ground combat team.”

TIME

The man who founded and ran Blackwater—the company that sent thousands of private workers into Afghanistan and Iraq—says President Barack Obama should hire a mercenary corps to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

“The American people are clearly war-fatigued,” writes Erik Prince, now the chairman of Frontier Services Group, a company that provides logistical support for much of Africa. “If the Administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job.”

Some Americans might be willing to write private fighters a check (Prince himself has reportedly been linked to developing a mercenary force for the United Arab Emirates). But Blackwater—which earned more than $1 billion in Iraq—shows the dangers inherent with subcontracting out war. Its guards killed 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007; a jury continues to deliberate the fate…

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The “Convention of States” Scam, the War over the Constitution, and how the States Sold the Reserved Powers to the Feds.

And only those items specifically listed, all other spending is unlawful:
“It is the enumerated powers which list the objects on which Congress may appropriate funds:
•immigration office (Art. I, §8, cl.4)
•mint (Art. I, §8, cl. 5)
•Attorney General (Art. I, §8, cl. 6)
•post offices & post roads (Art. I, §8, cl. 7)
•patent & copyright office (Art. I, §8, cl. 8)
•federal courts (Art. I, §8, cl. 9)
•military (Art. I, §8, cls. 11-16)
•the civil list (Art. I, §6, cl.1)
•[and other objects listed in various other articles, sections, &clauses]

Do you get the idea? The Constitution itemizes what Congress is permitted to spend money on.”

Publius-Huldah's Blog

By Publius Huldah

Our Constitution is a glorious document. This one page chart depicts the Structure of the federal government we created when we ratified our Constitution; and lists the “limited & enumerated powers” we delegated to the federal government over the Country at Large.

In a nutshell, our Constitution authorizes the federal government to handle the following objects for the Country at Large:

  • Military defense, international commerce & relations;
  • Control immigration & naturalization of new citizens;
  • Domestically, to create a uniform commercial system:  weights & measures, patents & copyrights, money based on gold & silver, bankruptcy laws, mail delivery & some road building; and
  • With some of the amendments, secure certain civil rights.

Basically, that’s it.  As stated in the 10th Amendment, all others powers are reserved by the States or The People.

But for 100 years, almost everyone in our Country has ignored our Constitution.  Thus…

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Why Germans pay cash for almost everything

Yes, living under a military dictatorship makes a lasting impression: ” Hitler had largely financed the war by printing money, keeping inflation at bay through a uniquely fascist policy of strict price controls and violent threats. (“Inflation is a lack of discipline,” Hitler once said. “I’ll see to it that prices remain stable. That’s what my storm troopers are for.”)”

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All sides value propaganda…

Flames Of War.  Glorifying sacrifice and the honor of death in battle is the clarion call of all militants.  All belligerent groups engage in it.  History is not solely written by the victors.  Modern communications allow competing narratives.  As the jihadist movement solidifies into the Islamic state, media efforts will propagate, recruit, and sensationalize.

Everyone interested in building local resilience in the Western world should take note of new propaganda realities, as well as the capabilities of those sworn to attack them.

 

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Aftermath of the Scottish Referendum

Follow the money: “the Barnett formula will continue, suggesting the Scottish government’s budget will remain heavily dependent on transfers.”

Pileus

A few takeaways from the 55-45% victory for No in the Scottish independence referendum:

  1. The polls overestimated support for independence, just as in the 1995 Quebec referendum. Secession from a well-established democracy is extremely difficult due to voters’ risk-aversion and status quo bias.
  2. Scotland’s right to decide elicited salutary promises of decentralization from the British government. My book found that countries with legal secession saw more decentralization than countries without, and countries with legal secession never recentralized power in the post-World War 2 era, according to the measure of regional autonomy I used.
  3. While Westminster is likely to follow through on some additional powers for Scotland, they are not likely to approach anything like “devolution max.” For one thing, the Barnett formula will continue, suggesting the Scottish government’s budget will remain heavily dependent on transfers. For another, significant powers for Scotland will require wholesale constitutional reform, particularly to…

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A New Coat for the Militia Debate

JeffersonMemorial-InstitutionsMustAdvanceThe debate between those advocating a return to the federated militia structure as a “constitutionally based” homeland security and those touting private security as an alternative to the leviathan police state are both noble in their endeavor. The main objective should be to break the monopoly on the use of force enjoyed by the modern democratic nation-state. Arguing from a legalistic versus economic point of view is bound to elicit philosophical, as well as procedural differences, yet the outcome is not entirely different; security functions are decentralized and more individual choice is asserted in participation with those localized security functions.

The legalists call for a revitalization of the militia system as designed by the US Constitution and cite a long history of precedent for militia formation, as governmental entities, in the colonies going back to the 1600’s. The legitimacy and authority of these militia rest in the state charters and their subordination to political control. In other words, these militia are composed of all able bodied males within a given age range in a given territory and subject to service at the call of the respective heads of state.

As a legacy of British common law, and relying upon Blackstone’s Commentary on the Laws of England, the militias of the several states draw upon legal precedent and service is compulsory at the pleasure of the central civil authority. Exceptions are allowed for certain members of a community that are unable to serve (such as the infirm or who hold positions deemed more important, such as magistrates), and conscientious objectors have the option of paying a fine in lieu of their actual time in service. Private militia companies are allowed within the legal architecture as long as they are chartered through the state and subject to political control.

While significant attention is given to the militia of the several states, it is important to note that the federated system envisioned by the founders, at the general/national level, was understood to be replicated at the state level. Each ward, district, town, and city was to have their own militia and be led by officers chosen from amongst their peers. In this way, the federated structure of the militia was intended to disperse the use of force to the lowest possible plebiscite and coordinate these disparate units in a way that would allow them to function when called into the actual service of the state, or of the general government shared by these states. It also called for individual participation in, and significant voice to, how security would be provided at the local level.

Still, even this system failed to prevent the erosion of the federated republic and the consolidation of power into the modern welfare-warfare democratic social state existing today. Despite the designs etched into a constitution, both the purse and the sword have been co-opted by politicians and bureaucrats that act more upon their own interests than toward fulfilling the functions delegated by any legal charter. The constitution of a federated republic, even with the provision for the militia of the several states, has proven to be either complicit with or incapable of preventing the rise of leviathan.

Further, despite the significant contributions to political theory offered by the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, it is clear that Thomas Jefferson’s 1816 observation of how “institutions must advance” implies that 18th century security structures are to civilized society “the regime of their barbarous ancestors”. There are more economic structures available that offer greater efficiency in security provision.

The political economy of security comes through avenues of increased self-determination, customized solutions for local conditions, and the selection of providers that meet the best interests of individuals and communities. Just as there is no need to “require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy”, there is no need for the civilized society of the 21st Century to subordinate militia and other security providers to the same political-bureaucratic apparatus that rendered the current condition.

Recognizing that there is no legitimate monopoly on the use of force is the key to evolving beyond petty squabbles and on to generating solution-oriented thought.

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Principle-Agent & The Security Contractor

DominoWarPrivate military contractors and private security companies are oft maligned for their involvement with the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. This criticism is justified to the degree that they were violently carrying out failed foreign policies and misguided interventions. As the supposed need for renewed foreign military intervention arises once more in Iraq, military contractors are being employed to do the work unpalatable to national armies and American voters. Since the mission of intervening into a conflict with no security interests to the average American is flawed, the results will inevitably lead to perverse, unintended consequences. One of which is the repeated demonization of the companies lured to the melee in search of profit. These deprecations are misdirected at symptoms, rather than the causes of misguided aggression.

Entrepreneurs respond to incentives and the discovery of profit making opportunities are information signals that make a market ecosystem function for the continued satisfaction of consumer desires. Securing people and their property is a legitimate service carried out for the increases it brings to the division of labor and the specialization of trade. Secure in their person and property, individuals and collaborating groups are better able to transform resources into consumer goods that elevate social well-being.

Security specialists create the space necessary for others to do their own productive work. Consumers exchange money with the security provider to show their appreciation for the secure space they enjoy, rendered by this service. In this way, the private security company is a net benefit to society and the remuneration for this service should attract other entrepreneurs to specialize in this field, thereby reducing the cost as suppliers of this service increase. As with all products and services, a free market for security naturally trends toward an increase in security at ever decreasing costs; another net benefit.

The security industry becomes perverted by distortions in the relationship between the customer and the provider. This is the classic principle-agent conundrum, whereby the provider, acting as the agent of the customer, or principle, carries out activities contrary to their agreement. The agent may take money from the principle and instead of securing the principle’s interests, spend their time doing something else. The provider could accept money to secure one location, but then abandon that post in order to secure another piece of property, or carry out a pet project of their own. The agent could also exceed their mandate by operating outside their assigned area and create conflict with a third party, in the name of the principle.

All of these problems could, of course, arise in a free market for security, yet would hardly last long since the principle retains the right to sever the relationship with the agent for violating the terms of their agreement. Further, the principle could withhold payment from the agent and/or recoup funds already given. The principle is, of course free to seek the security services of another provider available in the vast marketplace and the reputation of wayward agent rightfully would sink from word of their past transgressions. In this way, the freedom to choose acts as a healthy clearing mechanism for regulating the behavior of security providers.

Correctly diagnosing the unintended consequences of private military companies employed in foreign interventions, requires seeing the root of the problem: the interjection of a political middle-man between the principle and agent, along with the restrictions placed upon the self-regulating security marketplace.

Don’t hate the players; hate the rigged game they’re playing in.

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Propaganda w/80% Truth

Every lie has 80% truth…and must in order to make it believable.  The Russians are masters of this and gained a lot of practice for it in propping up the Soviet version of socialism for over seventy years.  Their perspective on Ukraine is obviously skewed to favor the Kremlin’s interests and the facts of the MH-17 tragedy are still in dispute.  Yet the illustration of US interests in becoming involved in the conflict (an excuse the service the astronomic debt with new loans and military industrial congressional complex spending) is undeniable.  Beyond rhetoric, there is economic calculation.  That’s where the 80% truth resides.

English subtitles available:

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Tribes, Security & Justice

DeaconDefense

 

In this great big land of ours known as the earth, the various spaces are currently administered through various political jurisdictions. Natural terrain features, such as a river, valley, mountain range, or some other distinct boundary generally form what appear to be logical divisions to territory. People separated by a river or mountain range, distinctively recognize a difference between those living proximate to themselves and those distant. It is natural for an “us and them” distinction to arise among natural borders.

This does not, however, preclude commerce and cultural intercourse to occur between geographically distinct people. It would be natural for the hunters of the hill tribe to exchange their meat for the vegetables grown by the valley dwellers, or the fish of the riverside clan. There may even be a natural tendency toward blood ties, intermarriages, and formal alliances. Those who recognize the value of exchanging their goods with the diversity of goods available from those with a different lifestyle realize increased living standards through the division of labor and specialization. While feuding with other tribes, and attempting to take the resources of others through plunder may result in short term gains, the sustainable growth only comes about to those that recognize peaceful commerce is in their best interests.

The likelihood of conflict, then, comes about by rival tribes seeking to take over a territory held by another. The hill tribe wishes to move to a bigger or a mountain that is better stocked with game. The riverside clan is envious of the territory at the intersection of tributary waterways. The valley dwellers are seeking the more fertile fields held by another. In this simplistic analogy, conflict arises not from diversity, but from sameness. Seeking alternatives to conflict involves an appreciation of the differences people bring to the table. Avoiding conflict also involves a means of resolving competing claims on territory. In the absence or unwillingness to mediate competing claims, the means of repelling unjust claims are required.

Security and defense are the bookend activities of mediation or dispute resolution. Taken together, they are the three points of what some call justice. Security begins by communicating to any that would challenge an owner’s claim to a territory or property. We see this today with every little blinking red light on a car showing all observers that the vehicle is equipped with an alarm system. Security acts as a deterrent. Defense repels any unjust attempts to seize rightly held property or territory. It also recovers property unjustly taken by a rival claimant. These actions come about by ineffective security and mediation measures.

Because conflict is inherently costly and interrupts the potential for improved levels of well-being that come about through commerce, discourse, and social intercourse, defensive measures are the least preferred course of justice actions. The greater payoff comes about by focusing on security as a deterrent to rival claimants, or offering greater inducements toward successful mediation. The key task of mediation is in discovering the facts about ownership claims on the disputed property or territory.

The assertion that violence is necessary in a society is inherently false. However, the means, appearance, readiness, and willingness to act violently are essential toward providing security and defending property interests. Indeed, such a posture could be the most efficient way of avoiding conflict. The question remaining is, how to best empower and motivate property owners toward asserting justice?

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Sun Tzu and the ISIS Threat

SunTzu-OneThousandVictories

Sun Tzu wrote in Chapter 8 of The Art of War: “Do not depend on the enemy not coming, but depend upon our readiness against him. Do not depend on the enemy not attacking, but depend on our position that cannot be attacked.”

The real battle is internal (on a number of levels). Do not be moved by appearances. Do not give in to the hype. Prepare your own mind, body, and spirit for the challenges and challengers on the horizons of your awareness.

As for the IS threat, first and foremost, do not take anything at face value, perceive that which cannot be seen, as Musashi advised in the Go Rin no Sho. This means, look behind the IS front and see where their strength really lies. In war, it is not so much about tactics as it is about logistics. So, follow the money and see who is providing IS with the vast material resources necessary to carry out a belligerent campaign.

Next, look at who or what opposes your own personal readiness and the creation of your own position that cannot be attacked. How can you cultivate your own invulnerability? What obstacles must you overcome? Can you acquire the tools, resources, and means of resilience? What stands in your way?

What policies are enforced (and by whom) that leaves airline passengers and pilots vulnerable to box cutters? What policies are imposed upon a population (and by whom) that leaves soldiers and women vulnerable to machete wielding attackers in the streets? How can you overcome these defense defeating policies?

Sun Tzu wrote in Chapter 1 that the means of victory come from calculation; in other words correct diagnosis of the threat. Fighting the last battle, such as most bureaucratic militaries have done over the past century, is a demonstration of incorrect diagnosis.

Overcoming the potential for embroiling in yet another ill-conceived and poorly executed quagmire requires correctly diagnosing where the real threat resides. Look at results, not intentions. Quantify, measure, and establish facts. Following the financial and logistical train behind IS and identifying who (or what) stands in the way of building local readiness, is the key task.

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