User Picture

The Barbarian’s Book Review: “War! What Is It Good For?”, by Ian Morris

By: Ohio Barbarian Saturday July 26, 2014 8:13 am

Ian Morris is an Englishman, an archaeologist,  and currently a professor of history at Stanford. I recently read his latest book, War! What Is It Good For? Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots, published this year. If nothing else, it was worth it because his theory of the benefits of war is certainly something so completely different that Monty Python definitely missed out on a good skit.

Morris proposes that there are two types of war, productive and non-productive. Productive war results in the creation or enlargement of a nation-state, empire, government, or all three. He calls it productive because, over the long term, murder rates drop way down and prosperity for most people in the empire goes way up when compared to their situations in either stateless or hunter-gatherer societies.

The case for the latter is derived from archaeology, which has dug up so many prehistoric human skeletons whose original owners met their demise at the hands of other humans. Morris provides a bunch of examples, from the incredibly preserved Ice Man discovered in the Alps a few years ago(who was definitely killed by arrows) to Sacred Ridge in Colorado, where in about 800 CE at least 35 villagers and their animals were all massacred, the former by being scalped first. So the myth, popular in some political circles, that Europeans taught Native Americans scalping is so much balderdash.

Clearly, Morris argues, prehistoric peoples were not the peaceful islanders portrayed by Margaret Mead in Coming of Age in Samoa, not even the Samoans, who built hill-forts and have sagas about raids of one clan or tribe or the other on their not-so-distant relatives. A world or area without stable government is a very violent place(he doesn’t point to Somalia for some strange reason, though he does compare Tito’s Yugoslavia to the same region in the 1990′s).  Even the Bushmen of southern Africa often waged raids and ambushes against their fellows. Recent studies of chimpanzees raping and murdering each other suggests that the violent war gene goes way back in our ancestry.

Morris estimates that people who lived in areas without the benefit of a government suffered a murder rate of somewhere around one in ten, compared to modern, civilized, death rates of maybe one in a hundred at most, even when the world wars of the twentieth century are thrown in. Since all of the states and empires throughout history have formed after periods of war, from the ancient Egyptian, Persian, Roman, and Chinese ones to the later British and American ones, the types of war that allowed these empires to form, grow, and establish states with relatively lower murder rates and relatively higher prosperity for their citizens and subjects are actually relatively good things.

Non-productive wars, on the other hand, are like the “barbarian” invasions that destroyed the Western Roman Empire, or the Viking raids, or Genghis Khan’s swathe of destruction through a third of Eurasia in the 1200′s, all of which destroyed formerly stable societies.

I think Morris certainly has a point about the advantages of living in places where the government has a legal monopoly on violence and where one can travel, trade, and simply live without much fear of being bushwhacked, not to mention little civilized luxuries as reliable food, clothing, shelter, indoor plumbing and electricity, over those of Stone Age or modern Somalian living conditions. But even granting his conclusions about declining murder and rising prosperity rates in various nations and empires, he’s setting a rather low bar by concluding that war is sometimes a socially and maybe even morally a good thing.

In the later chapters he discusses the world wide benefits, as he sees them, of first the British and then the American Empires’ role as “globo-cops” who routinely intervened, militarily or economically, around the world to maintain the stability on which their own prosperity depended. He calls the American Empire “the last best hope of Earth,” and then speculates that future wars will be limited and robotized, eventually becoming obsolete when humanity has evolved into a new cybernetic species where everybody is linked in with everybody else and we’re all living in some sort of high-tech free market society.

As a historian, I’ve always felt that both individuals and governments can only be fairly judged by the standards of their own times, and not by our current values. For example, King Cyrus of Persia was an absolute monarch who  didn’t hesitate to raze Babylon and kill a good number of its inhabitants, but was also the first ruler to grant freedom of religion and did succeed in establishing a stable, relatively prosperous, and comparatively just empire which lasted for centuries. Far more recently, it cannot be argued that the inhabitants of Western Europe, the United States, and Canada were better off before World War II than in the  30 years after the war, and certainly better off than the former under Nazi occupation. By that rather narrow definition, the American Empire certainly had its beneficent moments.

Somehow, I doubt that many people in Central America feel the same way, or those of Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos.

What Morris barely touches on are economic factors. He just assumes that “open-market” societies are better, and that capitalism is simply the best system which we humans have ever contrived or are capable of contriving. He mentions the Crash of 1929 and resulting Great Depression, but claims that no one really knows what went wrong. He is equally vague about the bubble-burst of 2008. He completely lost me right there.

We know exactly what went wrong in October, 1929 and again in 2008. A stock bubble based on faith and wagers that the value of stock would just keep going up forever collapsed when enough people realized that the stock was fantastically overvalued and tried to sell it off so they might be able to save at least a portion of their investments. Word quickly got out that the stocks weren’t even worth the paper or silicon chips they were written on, and Poof! We also know why the crashes were allowed to happen by Morris’ celebrated governments–the capitalists who were making boatloads of money by moving money and stock around had way too much control over those same governments, so much so in 2008 that governments, American and European alike, just created more money out of ones and zeroes on computers and looted assets from their own citizens in order to save the super-rich from their own folly.

It was just another example of Ben Franklin’s axiom that absolute power corrupts, absolutely. Whenever too much power, political, economic, or even religious, is concentrated in too few hands Bad Things happen. If history teaches us anything, it is surely that. Shakespeare saw it clearly; that’s one reason we still watch his plays.

Ian Morris does not even bring that little point up, but why should he? He’s got a good gig at Stanford, and the capitalist system clearly continues to benefit him, so he’s not going to say anything negative about the goose so long as it keeps laying those golden eggs for him.

While I certainly learned some things which recent archaeology has discovered, and that was enough to make my reading of the book worthwhile to me, I do not believe that we humans cannot come up with a system better than capitalism any more than I believe that the destruction of capitalism can be entirely peaceful. And I certainly don’t believe that we have to become some new, cybernetic species to eliminate wars amongst ourselves. David Swanson, please accept a hat-tip from me on that one.

Call me a starry-eyed optimist who has taken Star Trek too much to heart if you like, but I believe that my species as it is can do better than capitalism and imperial wars. Morris doesn’t, and I think he doesn’t because he never bothered to  see capitalism for what it actually is–a system whose only goal is more profit sooner. I find that sad, but hardly surprising.

He isn’t the only academic who fails to do that, after all.


The Barbarian’s Book Review: John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” Trilogy

By: Ohio Barbarian Saturday July 19, 2014 1:48 pm

Contrary to other oldtimers’ popular belief, there are good new science fiction writers out there.  I like Asimov, Clarke, Herbert, Anderson, LeGuin, Niven, and Philip K. Dick as much as the next old fart, but if you look and give some of them a chance, you will find them. I recommend your local public library for starters.

Nick John Scalzi, who grew up near Los Angeles, moved to Ohio in  2001. That’s obvious from his obsession with writing about food in his novels. I know. Ohioans are more obsessed with food than the people in any other state in the country, and it rubs off. His first novel, Old Man’s War, was published in 2006, and the Ohioan influence is palpable. I like it.

The protagonist is one John Perry, a small-town Ohioan. [Some spoilers ahead] Several hundred years in the future, there’s this thing called the Colonial Union(CU). All Perry knows about it is what he and everyone else on Earth is told: that there are human colonies out there in space that are defended from unspecified aggressive aliens by the Colonial Defense Force. Earth isn’t part of the CU, but it does supply both its soldiers and its colonists. The latter come from Third World countries with excess population that they want to get rid of. The former come from First World countries, and the incentive is quite a deal, to Perry and millions of others.

If you sign up, at age 75 you report to your local Colonial Defense Force(CDF) recruiting station. You know that you will be taken off of Earth never to return, but that your consciousness will be transferred into a new, youthful body of about 19 years of age and you get to live your life again, in exchange for ten years of service in the CDF. After that, you get to live out the rest of your new life on a colony world. Present day armed forces recruiters must be having wet dreams over that enticement.

So Perry and his wife Kathy sign the contract, which includes a proviso that your DNA belongs to the CU if you die before the age of 75. Unfortunately, Kathy dies of a stroke before she reaches 75. When John Perry does, he says his farewells and reports for duty.

He’s taken away on a starship, which has some sort of Skip Drive(or warp drive) that’s good for a few hundred light years. He, and lots of others, get their new bodies. They’re clones, you see. Enhanced clones, with all sorts of superhuman powers: faster, stronger, greater information-processing abilities thanks to a cybernetic implant called BrainPal, cat’s eyes to see a broader spectrum, better hearing, and green skin so they can convert natural light to energy. Oh, they can still eat with gusto(Scalzi is living in Ohio, after all), and they have the sex drive of a 19 year-old. They can’t breed, however, because their chromosomes have been altered too much, and for a few weeks they get to just enjoy their new bodies and have an orgiastic good time.

Then it’s time to pay the piper. Our little corner of the galaxy is full of other intelligent species with about the same level of technology who are competing for a limited number of earthlike planets. There’s constant warfare. These other species are often faster or stronger or more vicious than normal humans, hence the need for these genetically altered soldiers, who are told their purpose is to defend humanity’s right to exist among the stars. No one on Earth, including governments,  ever hears about any of this, because the CU absolutely controls all interstellar information flow, and they simply don’t share it, supposedly to spare Earths billions from panic. Besides, since the CU is doing a fine job of protecting Earth and providing new cool technologies every once in awhile, who really cares?

Perry goes through all sorts of adventures, starting with boot camp and ending with an encounter with the Consu, a race so much more technologically advanced than everyone else that they could wipe them all out if they wanted to, but don’t. Instead, they fight them at their own reduced technological levels for their own inscrutable reasons. There are hundreds of other competing intelligent species trying to expand, forming alliances and breaking them, trading and warring, like a 19th Century Europe or ancient Greek city-state colonial competition multiplied exponentially and gone mad.

The book dwells only minimally on fantastic technological details, and is a very fast read. One important subplot is Perry meeting a woman who was cloned in his dead wife’s image, but who has no memory of her, which leads us into the second book, The Ghost Brigades.

The woman in question, named Jane Sagan, is a brand new personality created by the activation of Perry’s wife’s clone, without the consciousness transfer. She’s only about four years old, but has an adult body. She, and others like her, or even more genetically enhanced than Perry’s people, and compose the CDF Special Forces. They do the dirty deeds even the regular CDF won’t do, and do them well. They are the perfect soldiers, though they resent the condescension they receive from the regular CDF soldiers because, well, they’re still just basically children. They get the same contract the regular Earthborn CDF soldiers get though, and can get a normal human body and become a colonist after ten years, though few of them take it. You really have to read the books to understand why; I’ve got to save some space here.

Jane is the protagonist in The Ghost Brigades,  her platoon sent to foil a nefarious plot by an unmodified human, one Charles Boutin, to betray and potentially destroy the rest of humanity by giving the gift of consciousness to another species, the Obin, who were given intelligence but no sense of self for God knows what reason my the mysterious Consu, who ally with two other species to wipe out the Colonial Union. It’s another great, very fast-moving yarn, filled with wry humor. Boutin is defeated, his daughter Zoe survives and is taken back to the CU by Jane, and at the end we learn about something called the Conclave, an alliance of races which, according to the CU, is determined to wipe out humanity.

In the final book, The Last Colony, John Perry and Jane Sagan are married, their consciousnesses transferred to cloned normal human bodies, and happily living with their adopted daughter on a colony world called Huckleberry, of all things, even though most of its inhabitants are descended from Indians, on of whom is a delightfully argumentative lesbian named Savitra. Perry and Sagan are tapped by the CU, and specifically by the commanding general of the Special Forces, to head a new colony called Roanoke. The name is not coincidental.

The Conclave, you see, has vowed to destroy any new colony established by any race other than a member of the conclave, according to the CU. But no one outside of the CU’s upper echelons, and Jane, has ever heard of the conclave due to their control of information. Roanoke, unbeknownst  to John and Jane, 2500 other colonists drawn from the colony worlds themselves for the first time instead of Earth’s Third World, and the crew of their transport ship, is to be hidden so that it can become a setup for the CU to destroy a Conclave fleet.

This happens, but Perry meets the leader of the Conclave fleet, and the founder of the Conclave, beforehand, and discovers that the Conclave is definitely NOT what the Colonial Union had described. Oh, no, this intelligent, compassionate alien wants to create a federation of different intelligent species in order to stop millennia of warfare and turn their focus to self-help and exploration. What follows is a brilliantly convoluted,  wheels-within-wheels, scheme to change the future of not only humanity, but everyone else.

The recurring theme of all three books is that absolute power corrupts absolutely, on several different levels. There’s lots of humor to lighten things up and, of course, detailed descriptions of various repasts that only someone in Ohio would write about. Personally, I hope Scalzi continues the series, even though he says The Last Colony is the last one.

I doubt it. Popular demand and all that. Anyway, check it out if you’re a sci-fi fan, or just like a good read.

Book Cover, fair use

Thank You For Your Service: At Last, A Truthful Response

By: Ohio Barbarian Wednesday July 16, 2014 7:10 pm

Bear with me. I have to give a little background to set the stage. Besides, I can’t resist telling a story.

A worn Coca-Cola cap half-buried in the sand

Veterans fought — and died — for corporate profits, not for you.

I’m taking a staycation. I’ve earned vacation time, and can’t afford to go far, so I’m exploring sites in the local area. Since I’m in northeast Ohio, that means a local food tour.  Tonight, my stepdaughter and I went to a local tavern for some really, superbly tasty burgers (I’m a native Texan, so I know of what I speak), and then decided to explore some other local drinkeries on the same block on a beautiful evening.

At the second of these, something interesting happened. A little, stand-alone bar, at least 60 years old, with a wraparound oak bar with brass foot-rail, a few tables, a mini-bowling game and a pool table. Non-smoking inside (pity, that), with a little picnic table with an umbrella outside for the smokers, including myself and my stepdaughter.

Just a few hours ago, at aforementioned picnic table, there sat a young(to me) 40ish man, call him Rick, and his wife, a couple of guys even older than myself, me, my stepdaughter, and three other guys standing around and puffing away while Metallica blasted from the jukebox inside.

We introduced ourselves (Ohioans are very friendly people, mostly) and it turned out that several of us were veterans. We asked the usual questions — what branch, when, which ship or outfit, where. It turned out that two of us, myself and Rick, were in the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War. I was in the Navy, and I had it light and I knew it and said so. Floating around on an air-conditioned destroyer was nothing compared to what the grunts and the jarheads went through.

Rick wasn’t in the Navy. No. He was Army. Straight from Euclid High School to boot camp, specialist training, and then the infantry. Served in the Gulf War and re-upped. Five subsequent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He rose in the ranks from Private to First Sergeant and got out. He summed up his experiences in South Asia by saying, “I saw some serious shit.”

Then one of the bystanders said, “Thank you for your service.”

I groaned internally. Then I found my eyes locked with Rick’s for several seconds. There was … understanding. Empathy. Then Rick turned to the guy and said, “You don’t have to thank us for anything. There’s nothing to thank us for.” I nodded, and said, “That’s right.”

Then the guy, meaning well I have no doubt, said he did because we were protecting him and everybody else. Rick and I locked eyes again. For once,  I said nothing. I didn’t have to, because Rick did.

Rick told him, and everybody else there, that we weren’t protecting them from anything or anybody in Iraq or Afghanistan. None of those people ever posed any real threat to any of us in America itself, particularly not Ohioans. “Do you really want to know what we were protecting? I’ll tell you. Money. Profits. For people who never, ever, would have gone over there themselves. I’ll name one. Dick Cheney. Halliburton. Do you know how much those … people … charged the Army for a six-pack of Coke?”

Everyone, including myself, shook our heads.

Rick nodded and said,

Twelve bucks, that’s how much. Twelve bucks. Oh, there was plenty of it, and all of the other stuff they sold the Army, but you paid for it with your tax dollars. That’s what we were protecting. That’s who we were protecting. That, and other things like that, is why we were there. It was never about protecting you.

The guy was speechless. He looked like he wanted to say something, but just looked pleadingly at me. All I could say was, “Yeah. He’s right. That’s it. So. You see, you really don’t have to thank us for anything. But thanks, anyway.”

Rick was getting a little agitated. His wife, very gently, took his hand, said they had to go, and they left.

Thank YOU, First Sergeant Rick whatever your last name is, from Euclid, Ohio, for telling the truth.

The American Empire is Crumbling Like Sugar in a Fire

By: Ohio Barbarian Wednesday June 11, 2014 1:59 pm

Eleven years ago, President George W. Bush stood on the deck of an American aircraft carrier under a banner that proclaimed “Mission Accomplished” while the corporate media replayed a statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled, in a staged event, over and over. Remember that?

As the Iraqi government struggles to maintain control of Mosul and Tikrit, it shows the waning of American power.

Fast forward to yesterday: A force of maybe 600 Al Qaeda militants drove the forces of the puppet Baghdad regime, which numbered about 60,000 in the region, out of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. Meanwhile, in Syria, the imperial American government shamelessly backs the same group, the Islamic Group of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), in its ongoing effort to overthrow the last remaining Baathist regime in the region headed by Bashar al-Assad, after the American people said “HELL NO!” to direct American military intervention in that country. For an excellent factual article on the subject, as well as an opinion many of you no doubt share, read this article  from those adorable Trotskyite Communists in Detroit.

Fallujah–remember that city, which took a full-scale assault by the American Army to conquer from Sunni insurgents in 2004?–fell to ISIS some time ago. Remember Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town? Well, ISIS has taken that, too.

ISIS now controls significant parts of both Syria and Iraq(about a third of each country according to the German TV news program Journal), advancing their goal of establishing a new, fundamentalist Sunni, Islamic Caliphate in both countries. So, I have a couple of questions to which I confess I don’t know the answers, so maybe you can help.

First, why did Iraqi government forces, who clearly had the ISIS forces ridiculously outnumbered and outgunned, mostly run away from Mosul? Have they been paid lately, or what? I really don’t know.

Second, what the hell is our own imperial regime thinking? On the one hand, they funnel money and arms to the corrupt Shia regime in Baghdad, which also enjoys support from Iran, BTW. On the other hand, they funnel the same, often through Saudi and other Gulf State intermediaries, to the same people they are so opposed to in Iraq. As Star Trek’s Mr. Spock might say, such behavior is fascinatingly illogical.

From a military historian’s perspective, the situation in Iraq has some strong similarities to South Vietnam in 1975. Advancing North Vietnamese troops captured, almost without a fight, all sorts of advanced military equipment the Americans had left behind for the benefit of the Saigon regime. Reports from Mosul say that ISIS has done exactly the same thing there. The humanitarian crisis is huge, just as in Vietnam, with hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting into the very doubtful safety of areas still controlled by a regime that appears doomed. Meanwhile, just as in Saigon, the Baghdad regime fiddles away while its country burns.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban waits for the final American withdrawal so they can come back to power in Kabul. How much of a chance does the American-supported regime there have without Western troops? Yeah, that’s about what I thought.

Meanwhile, our government shamelessly backs an openly Fascist, neo-Nazi, regime in Ukraine, and goes out of its way to provoke a military confrontation with China in Obama’s “Pivot to Asia.” All of this is similar to the behavior of past empires which were crumbling–the French in Algeria and Vietnam in the 1950′s, the British in Kenya in the same decade, the Russians in Manchuria in 1905, the Spanish in Latin America a century ago, the Romans in what is now Iraq and Scotland almost 2000 years ago.

All those empires fell, in one way or the other. Ours is no different. And good riddance to bad rubbish.

Barbarian’s Book(s) Review: David Weber’s Honorverse Series

By: Ohio Barbarian Tuesday June 3, 2014 4:03 pm
Cover of On Basilisk Station, "Introducing Honor Harrington"

David Weber introduced Honor Harrington & launched the “Honorverse” in On Basilisk Station

Back in 1992, David Weber started a series of highly popular books about a female Horatio Hornblower-like character named Honor Harrington in On Basilisk Station. In the first eleven books, which came out roughly yearly, the emphasis is on highly technical military science fiction. Honor is an officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, which is a kind of British-style constitutional monarchy fighting for its life against the People’s Republic of Haven, which is a sort of French Revolutionary Republic gone Stalinist.

The Manticoran aristocracy, while hereditary, is supplemented by meritorious additions to that same aristocracy from commoners who deserve promotion, Honor herself among them. Politically, the message in those first eleven books is pretty clear: conservative, at least somewhat democratic constitutional democracy Good, revolutionary leftist dictatorship Bad, although the Havenite characters are often quite sympathetic and realistic fictional people. Meanwhile, ever lurking in the background, is the Solarian League, an extremely powerful and populous interstellar country with its capital on Old Chicago, on Old Earth, that is unabashedly corporatist, whose leaders pay only lip service to the old Federal Constitution. This should sound familiar.

Then, in September 2003, with the publication of Crown of Slaves, the political story strongly shifted. Weber was writing this during the run up to the Iraq War, and it shows. While out-and-out slavery is almost universally banned, officially anyway, certain renegade transtellar, ie multinational, corporations do profit handsomely from real human slavery. And if there’s one thing that the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the People’s Republic of Haven have in common, it’s a genuine hatred of slavery and a contempt for the hypocritical Solarian League that doesn’t really do anything to stamp it out because too many of its leaders are profiting from the slave trade in one way or the other.

The most egregrious of these transtellar corporations is called Manpower, Inc. It’s no coincidence that it bears the same name of one of America’s biggest temporary employment agencies. Based on a planet called Mesa, Manpower turns out to be controlled by a group of people who believe in eugenics, and have been breeding different genetic lines of human beings, from Huxley-esque alpha lines to genetic slaves, for centuries. In Crown of Slaves (wonderfully co-written with Eric Flint) and its sequel, Torch of Freedom, the slaves successfully revolt on one planet, aided and abetted by two colorful secret agents of both the Star Kingdom and the People’s Republic, Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat, respectively.

Meanwhile, the wars drag on, with Honor Harrington rising to the rank of Admiral among many feats of military derring-do in the finest Horatio Hornblower tradition, and eventually the People’s Republic is overthrown by its own people and the Old Republic of Haven is restored. Then things get really interesting.

Beginning in 2010, with Mission of Honor, followed by A Rising Thunder, Shadow of Freedom, and A Cauldron of Ghosts (the latter two also co-authored by Eric Flint), the attention shifts to the nefarious eugenics nazis of the secret “Mesan Alignment” and the corrupt Solarian League. The Solarians are clearly Americans, and its corrupt, lying, self-righteous, sociopathic and arrogant government officials come straight out our own headlines of the last few years.

As Ursula K. LeGuin once said, “Science fiction is not about the future, or the past; it’s about the present.”

9/11/2001…Get OVER It, Already! Now, It’s Just Bad Propaganda.

By: Ohio Barbarian Thursday May 15, 2014 5:23 pm

The 9/11 Museum is now complete and open to the public. The 9/11 Memorial stands proud and much ballyhooed. Whoop. Dee. (Old English verb deleted) Doo!

Freedom Tower with memorial at the base

The 9/11 Museum is open at the base of the Freedom Tower.

I’m sick to death of 9/11.  I remember it. I saw the second plane hit the second World Trade Center tower on September 11,  2001 on live TV as it happened.  I heard the stunned announcer say, “…and another small plane has crashed into the other tower,” and thought, “That wasn’t a small plane. That was an airliner,” while brushing my teeth while getting ready to go to work in Denver.

Yes, it was a Bad Thing. A group of religious fanatics hijacked planes and deliberately crashed them into tall buildings in New York City, and another group hijacked another plane which was probably crashed when its passengers stormed the cockpit because they knew that they were going to die, anyway, so why not fight? I honor those passengers. Some 3000 people died that day.

Still, the events of 9/11/01 have been used in a most reprehensible manner by those in power in my country as an excuse to do horrendous things. I can certainly understand a punitive strike on Afghanistan, whose government allowed the conspiratorious fanatics to operate with impunity. But that’s it.

The subsequent and ongoing occupation of said country is way over the top. The conquest of Iraq, on the pretense that the Iraqi government of the time was somehow in league with one of its most inimical enemies, was a travesty. And, ever since, not one but two presidential administrations have used the events of 9/11/01 as an excuse to aggressively curtail the civil liberties of the American people, to justify military interventions in numerous countries around the world, and to do whatever it takes to advance the interests of Corporate America wherever and whenever possible.

And now we have a shiny new museum complete with the keychains and shoes of the dead, just like the Holocaust Museum. The only problem is that the Holocaust killed a LOT more people over a LOT more years. The Holocaust deserves a museum. 9/11? Not so much.

Maybe a memorial. But a big honkin’ museum? Let’s get real, here.

More Americans died on December 7, 1941, than died on September 11, 2001. They have the Arizona Memorial. I know. I’ve been there. It’s impressive and haunting. You stand there, and look down through the clear water into the wreck of the USS Arizona. It’s powerful as all hell. When I was there, I was surrounded by tearful Japanese tourists.

That was just as powerful too, in its own way.

Do you think for one minute that 50 years from now you’ll see tearful Saudi tourists at the 9/11 Museum? Didn’t think so.

On September 11, 2001, a horrible crime was committed. A crime of vengeance. Which begat not only more vengeance, but crimes committed by our leaders against US,  We The People of the United States of America, and which continue to be committed in our name but without our consent and certainly not in our interests nor for our well-being.

And the same people, who wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes and tell us that what they are doing to us is for our own good, are laughing all the way to the bank out our expense. George Bush II, Barack Obama, all the Talking Heads, keep doing it and doing it, over and over. Using the horror of those few hours, of that day, to advance their own interests at the expense of our own.

Secession in Ukraine Accelerates: Ukrainian Army Units Refuse Orders from Kiev

By: Ohio Barbarian Thursday April 17, 2014 6:55 pm

In spite of all of the bluster from the neo-Fascist regime in Kiev, the Obama Administration in Washington, and, to a lesser extent, several Western European governments, it seems that some ordinary Ukrainians themselves, and probably ethnic Ukrainians at that,  just really, REALLY,  don’t want a war with Russia. Or, even worse, a civil war with their neighbors the ethnic Russians.

Ukraine's seat of parliament, Verkhovna Rada

Kiev’s current regime is in “deep trouble.”

I can’t really blame them. Anyway, the World Socialist Web Site has an excellent little piece of real journalism on the subject, there’s not even any Trotskite rhetoric or theory, it’s just the story.

In short, in spite of heated rhetoric from Kiev about “annihilation” of its domestic foes, the Ukrainian soldiers sent to do the job just…didn’t. They don’t recognize the authority of the current government to order them to kill their fellow citizens. But our American government does, and no doubt considers the inactions of those Ukrainian soldiers to be committing mutiny.  So, they’re going to do,


I suppose they can tell the Kiev folks to crack down now before this spreads, and the latter may try, but it may not succeed. When a government loses the support of a good portion of its military, as is happening right now in Ukraine, it’s in serious trouble.  It can possibly survive by appeasing the military,  as the British did their navy in 1798, or by taking the hard line and waging civil war, as Lincoln did to American army soldiers who joined the Confederacy starting in 1861.

The Kiev government is definitely not in Lincoln’s position. There was a good chance that foreign powers would not intervene on behalf of the secessionist slave states. Slavery just wasn’t that popular in most of the rest of the world back then. Lincoln gambled on that predominant global sentiment and won.

But what, exactly, does the Kiev government stand for? Ethnic Ukrainian nationalism? Definitely. With maybe a little ethnic cleansing on the side?  Part of it, anyway. I’m sure Ukrainians of all ethnicities are quite familiar with the example of Yugoslavia’s breakup. It should come as no surprise if most of them decide they’re just not going to go down that road. It’s also very possible that they will choose to take a different path, one that gives their children a better chance of growing up.

Or does the Kiev government stand with joining the European Union and thereby subjecting their people to the joys of EU and IMF austerity? Well, yes it does. And all in the name of nationalism and fear of the big, bad Russian Empire. While both are understandable, is either one of them worth a civil war and Russian intervention?

Again, it should come as no surprise if most Ukrainians decided that “No” was the correct answer to that question.

If that happens, and I think it is a strong possibility, then the eastern Ukraine will simply go the way of Crimea and not very many people will get hurt.

As for the current Kiev regime, it’s in deep trouble either way. If it chooses the path of civil war, Russia invades and the West will do nothing militarily to help it because the West will not risk a nuclear war with Russia. Even the more fanatical NATO enthusiasts in Poland and the Baltic States are not willing to risk that over Ukraine, not if push comes to shove. Oh, there’ll be lots of dire rhetoric, vetoed UN Security Council resolutions, and maybe some weapons that will come too little, too late. But no troops. Count on it.

If the regime lets the ethnic Russian provinces go relatively peacefully, then it will be more dependent than ever on the financial aristocracy which dominates the governments of Western Europe and America. It’ll go full tilt towards austerity and whatever else the latter want. Maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly what some of our financial aristocracy want. Let part of Ukraine secede, then mercilessly exploit what remains.

After that, my little crystal ball goes dark. I just don’t know how the western, ethnic Ukrainians will react to that after all of the crap and stress that they have lived and will live through before they ever reach that point. Thanks for reading, and have a nice night.

Ukraine Teeters on the Brink of Civil War and Invasion, or Not

By: Ohio Barbarian Sunday April 13, 2014 7:30 am
Russian anti-nazi propaganda poster from WWII shows nazis fleeing a Russian tank.

“The West keeps underestimating the intelligence, resourcefulness, and courage of the Russian people.”

Ethnic Russians began seizing government buildings and police headquarters in several cities in eastern Ukraine weeks ago.  Just in the last day, shots have been fired and there have been a few deaths reportedBBC speculates on whether Russia is orchestrating the protests, While this morning on ABC’s This Week, Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, came right out and accused Russia of doing exactly that on the grounds that they are just too well-coordinated for the local ethic Russians to have done on their own.

Just like the Obama Administration said about the largely bloodless secession by Crimea a few weeks ago. But really? If the majority ethnic Russians in the Crimea could pull it off, why not their cousins in eastern Ukraine? It seems the West just keeps on underestimating the intelligence, resourcefulness, and yes, courage of the Russian people. Napoleon did it. Czar Nicholas II, who really should have known better, did it. Hitler did it, and now Obama appears to be doing it. Will they never learn?

For its part, the right wing Ukrainian government in Kiev threatened a blood bath, but backed down some over the last day. Meanwhile, the protests continue, the occupations of government buildings continue, and the ethnic Russians show no signs of backing down, as this article about what is going on in Donetsk attests. Why should they?

They don’t want to be ruled by a bunch of hyper-Ukrainian nationalists who want to essentially make them second-class citizens, and are quite understandably leery of a government with openly Fascist and even neo-Nazi elements. Besides, they know full well that if the Kiev government actually does try for a forceful and bloody crackdown, Vladimir Putin won’t hesitate to send the Russian Army to their rescue. Even if military forces loyal to the Kiev regime resisted as best they could, I estimate the Russians could successfully invade and occupy the eastern third of Ukraine in a matter of days.

And there’s not a damned thing Obama or western Europe can do about it. Neither the American nor European militaries are going to allow a direct military confrontation with Russia–Ukraine is just not worth risking a nuclear war over, period. Besides, it lies in what has long been considered Russia’s sphere of influence.

Probably the best thing that could happen for Obama is for eastern Ukraine to go the way of Crimea, with little bloodshed, and for him to just shut up about it. Somehow, I don’t think he’s that smart. Maybe the Kiev government is. Time will soon tell.

Anyway, crisis or no crisis, it’s a beautiful day in northeastern Ohio, and I have errand to run and (gasp!) yardwork to do. I’m off, but I’ll be back. And have a nice day.