Chain Links

Blog buddy Aaron Hugh Ellis on the Tory “Wise Men” and the British grand strategy gap.

My friend David De Sola’s Huffington Post analysis on Pakistan.

Joan Waugh on history’s unfair hatchet job on Ulysses S. Grant



Wings over Iraq Evolution

One of the better things to happen to me in recent times was making the acquaintance of Captain Crispin Burke, probably one of the few bloggers more obsessed with lolcats and science fiction than me.

Burke is making the upgrade to a new, tricked-out site. Go ahead and check it out. I’ll temporarily suspend my hatred of hipster Tumblrs.

Machete Review, of Sorts

People have been asking me what I think about Machete, as John P. Sullivan and I have written a lot on Mexican drug cartels and criminal insurgency. Unfortunately, I have no substantive thoughts. What I do have, however, is a bitter rant.

Robert Rodriquez, why the hell is SALMA HAYEK not in Machete? Yes, Jessica Alba and a scantily clad, gun-toting Michelle Rodriquez in a pirate eyepatch was very good. But was it really too difficult to have Salma Hayek in that movie, even for a five minute cameo–instead of Lindsay Lohan? Geez…..It’s not like Mr. Rodriquez is unfamiliar with Hayek’s acting.

if you want to see something actually intelligent written about Machete, check Alex of i-Con’s blog post.

The RZA Weighs in on the RMA Debate

I was listening again to one of my favorite Wu-Tang side projects, DJ Muggs and the GZA’s collaboration Grandmasters, when this RZA line popped out at me: “In this high tech world of fire wire and microchip/
We still keep the four-five clip, filled with the spiral tip.”


This is sound advice that Colin S. Gray (echoing Clausewitz) would agree with:

“Many people confuse the nature of war with its character. The former is universal and eternal and does not alter, whereas the latter is always in flux. This distinction is not just a fine academic point, with no real-world resonance worthy of note. It matters enormously if you believe that your favorite idea or innovative technology is going to change the nature, as opposed to only the character, of war.”

So in essence, if you see a man in baggy pants and massive amounts of jewelry moving around Stapleton, NY with a “gun the size of a black hole” it’s because he recognizes the nature of war is eternal even though its character is constantly changing.

Nevertheless, RZA and the Wu-Tang are no stodgy “Colonel Blimp” types, as evidenced by their early (and vocal) support for swarm tactics in warfare. As RZA also notes in the Wu-Tang Manual,  the Wu have also borrowed organizational structures from both the corporate and criminal worlds to advance their interests–currently settling on the “Conglomerate” model.

We also know that the Wu-Tang are consummate realists (in the International Relations sense) from the song “Da Glock,” a hidden track on the Iron Flag album. In this song, the Wu elucidate many reasons they were happy they had brought a Glock semiautomatic pistol with them–which allowed them to dispense with a host of adversaries ranging from rowdy partygoers to al-Qaeda terrorists. Although the Wu-Tang are no longer Offensive Realists, they still think that when in doubt you should take the Glock with you.

Chain Links

  • Europeans sharing air and naval assets.
  • The “Attritionist letters” exposed (with apologies to C.S. Lewis) at the Marine Corps Gazette.

The End of the “End”

A lot of things come to an end. The enjoyable PF Changs Spicy Chicken I consumed on Saturday evening ended when there were no more pieces of chicken on my plate. Arnold Schwarzneggar’s epic campfest Commando ended when the last screaming junta soldier with an enormous mustache fell haplessly from a tree after being shot. Some people’s faith in true love ended when Marilyn Manson’s marriage to an equally weird Rose McGowan ended in acrimony. My own admiration for George Lucas ended by the time the eminently repulsive persona of Jar Jar Binks crawled across the screen. So it’s clear that many things and beliefs have a habit of coming to an end.

This basic fact of life has been perverted by the obsession that people have with declaring the “end” of a given trend, product, nation, or issue. Part of it is publicity–people want to be the first to declare an old trend over, which is just as important as finding a new trend. There was a remarkably cogent analysis of this tendency in either TechCrunch or Boing Boing, but I am having some trouble finding it in either of their archives (link will be put up later if I can find it).

The problem is this. It is relatively easy to tell when, say, a parrot is dead, despite what Monty Python has told you. After a certain point, it’s obvious that a nation is “dead”–like the Holy Roman Empire, the Soviet Union, or the curiously named country of Upper Volta. But since the future, as William Gibson teaches us, is “unevenly distributed,” it is difficult to really tell if a large-scale entity or process is really over. We should exercise caution in doing so. After all, where is my jetpack?

Blogging Fail

So, I wrote two posts, one thoughtful and the other completely frivolous. And they both got gobbled up when I hit the “post” button. Both Ecto and MarsEdit are completely buggy as usual. I’m going to re-post the first on RTJ this time.

For the second one, I’d merely like to point out that a certain milbogger’s Balling Out of Control has now reached a point of unipolarity. This picture is proof that, according to the tenets of neorealist IR theory, a counter-Balling coalition will soon arise to challenge Crispin Burke’s Balling hegemony.