Generally Speaking

I can’t really speak to the matter of general officers from extensive personal experience with the rank; throughout my military career I was mostly in places removed from direct personal contact. A merciful deity, to quote the rabbi from “Fiddler on the Roof” kept the general ranks – kept them far, far from us, although a SAC one-star did show up one day at EBS-Zaragoza, unannounced and unheralded. It was lunchtime, practically everyone save the radio and TV op on duty had left the building. I was sitting in my office, peacefully adding another layer of much-needed polish to my shoes, when a flight-suited guy appeared in the doorway and cheerily asked, “When you’re done with yours, can you do mine?” He was a youngish-looking, personable guy, and it took me at least five seconds to grok the single star that designated his rank. He introduced himself, Brigadier General Something-or-other. said he was visiting for a readiness inspection of the SAC unit. He just thought he would mosey around and drop in to visit some of the other activities on base which supported his people so well … and could he have a tour of our broadcast facility?

Well, duh – like I could say ‘no, general, sir’. He got the brief informal nickel tour, conducted by yours truly, introduced to the few of our staffers who weren’t at lunch, and the other senior NCO, the maintenance chief, who hissed at me: “Why didn’t you tell us there was a one-star on the ground? We should have been prepared!” and I hissed back that I hadn’t had a chance to tell anyone anything, said one-star just appeared. It was likely, I added, that this general was probably much more knowledgeable about what was really going on in the activities that he visited, because of his practice of just casually dropping by … rather than doing the formal, pre-announced official inspection visit.

But to most junior and med-ranked enlisted, general officers are like saints to Catholics – we know of them, about them, recognize their attributes, and experience the effects of their pronouncements and dictates. One of the things that we know, is that after a certain rank – O-6, or colonel, they become political animals, if they hanker truly after that magical star. The especially eaten-up with ambition are political animals even before that point, but the very best don’t care about much but their people and accomplishing the mission, and yes, it is pretty obvious to any observer with eyes and a modicum of intelligence.

Being a political animal certainly doesn’t rule out competence or care for the troops’ well-being, but one must seriously wonder how military leaders like General Mark Milley (and Sec Def Austin, formerly also an Army general officer) think that an Ahab-like pursuit of the Great White Rage Whale among active military can be a winning move for an effective American military. Diversity uber alles, and stigmatizing conservative and religiously observant soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines as raging racists who must be expunged as dangerous extremists will absolutely gut the military services of the able and motivated … who tend to come from rural areas, small towns, and from families with a tradition of service. Pounding CRT into the troops and calumniating conservatives of any ethnic background as unrepentant racists through mandated “struggle sessions” will destroy unit cohesion, absolutely gut the military of experienced NCOs – possibly of junior officers as well – totally wreck recruiting. I’d expect that General Milley, Sec Def Austin and the other high-ranking officers defending the Biden administration’s racial wokery have to know this. They are not unintelligent – they would hardly have gotten to where they are in command if they all were complete dunces. I can only think that in the service of career advancement, a generous pension and a cushy post-service career these officers or former officers are so willing to essentially demoralize and wreck the American military – a service which benefitted them to a very great degree. It’s a sickening display of self-serving amorality on their part; our service men and women betrayed by a pack of ambitious, self-serving Courtney Massingales. Where are the Sam Damons? Passed over, relieved of duty and forced out of service years ago. Comment as you wish and can bear it.

59 thoughts on “Generally Speaking”

  1. This pervasive rot in our society spreads with remarkable speed. A dozen years ago I had a gig with DARPA as a SME (subject matter expert), supporting a program intended to introduce young, tenure track professors in the computer sciences to the needs of the military. The program was also supported by former general officer mentors, including an Air Force 4 star, Army 4, 3 and 2 stars, and a Navy 2 star. They all went along on a couple of week long trips with the professors to various military installations, one in the eastern and one in the western part of the country. They were all highly intelligent, very well read, easy to talk to, and never gave any indication of being “woke” in the manner described by Sgt. Mom. Apparently people at that level can trim their sails very quickly to catch the prevailing winds when its a matter of advancing their careers. That seems to be what’s happening now. It is obviously also affecting my alma mater, West Point. It’s a process that will result in the fragmenting of what was once a nation into a conglomeration of mutually hostile interest groups. Where we go from there is anybody’s guess.

  2. Precisely, Doug – they are trimming their sails for the prevailing political wind, regardless of the horrible damage that it will do to our military generally, and it’s horrible to watch them do it! They must know that no long-term good will come of wrecking the military … but I guess that they feel it is worth it to them.

  3. If the GOP administrations will promote whoever they are recommended to, and Dems will prefer to promote the woke, then very quickly you’ll have a top brass full of woke trash, especially when there’s no quality criteria applied to anyone, such as you know actually accomplishing military success…

  4. Helian…”Apparently people at that level can trim their sails very quickly to catch the prevailing winds when its a matter of advancing their careers.”

    It’s not just people at that level, though…I’ve seen people at all kinds of levels signing up for beliefs that they would have considered ridiculous or outright evil a few years ago.

  5. My only close encounter with a General was about a decade ago on a plane flight. The highly personable, intelligent, informed seatmate in Business Class turned out to be a General travelling in civilian clothes without any accompanying staff. It is hard to judge definitively from a couple of hours conversation, but I got the impression that he really was a Leader of Men — someone who was concerned about his troops and could inspire them to achieve great things. However, that was then and this is now.

    Finding leaders is a problem in any organization. Think about the difficulties both Lincoln and Davis had in finding competent generals during the Civil War, or think about the number of once-major businesses which have been laid low once greasy pole climbers reach the top.

    There is also the issue of what kind of civilian control should be exercised over the military, when that control can reduce military effectiveness. Most of us would probably approve of President Eisenhower’s desegregation of the US military — and disapprove of Resident Biden*’s promotion of transgenderism and wokism; where do we draw the line?

  6. I spent about 6 years examining and interviewing military recruits. Some of that time included the anticipated, then aborted, plan for transgender recruits. Most of our staff were retired or active duty enlisted military. They loathed the anticipated transgender thing and were greatly relieved when Trump canceled it. I cannot figure out how the “Woke” military thing is going to work. I just assume this is another fad but I see a lot of harm with the ranks below O-6.

  7. 1) The hewing of command personnel solely to the approved Party line with no regard to reality will rather quickly destroy any confidence or trust by the line staff towards those in command. That applies to both military and Law Enforcement fields. I note that I have been recommending that any LEO’s who are not Democrat/Socialists who are working in Democrat polities leave for safer and freer jurisdictions.

    2) Once that confidence is lost, it does not come back easily if at all. A military in such a state does not win.

    3) Confidence can only be regained by a winning war.

    4) That war may be foreign or civil, and in the latter case either side may gain that confidence.

    Subotai Bahadur

  8. Mike K – a lot of harm?!! Nice understatement. This will do horrific harm to the US military in so many ways. It was the understanding over the decades of the all-volunteer force that recruits to it might be of all colors and backgrounds, but they are all camo-green and bleed red … and the current top command are basically throwing that concept to the curb. It’s awful, destructive … and those in top command are doing it willfully? Because it enhances their careers and post-career possibilities. OK, so CFOs of major US companies can hand off manufacturing to China or other offshore sites, for money. But seeing the higher military commanders selling out the military as a whole because of currently fashionable intellectual delusion? That is just sick and horrifying.

  9. Sgt Mom, I was more disappointed by the behavior of HR McMasters when Trump was president than most of the nonsense that went on. I thought McMasters, after reading his book, was a truth teller. Sad to see that he is just one more snout in the trough.

  10. The experience of my friend, Manfred, with the Marine Corps made me cynical. He flew 500 combat missions in F 4s in Viet Nam, was the Marine Corps first Top Gun instructor, flew 60 missions in Gulf War I as Group Commander. He was passed over for a star because the Wing Commander was jealous that Bahrain gave Manfred a medal for saving them from Saddam. The wing commander was subsequently cashiered for flying his girlfriend around in a Marine plane. Meanwhile, Manfred had started his own business, which he later sold to 3M for $23 million. I’m sure there are similar stories but this is one I know personally.

  11. Been an aide to a three star corps commanding general. He was all business about the mission and the troops. Very hard on his senior officers and staff. He retired as a four star in the third or fourth top GO position. He was passed over for Army Chief of Staff because he was a fighter and could handle the political, but didn’t play. Strong willed does even come close.

    I learned that each selectee for one star receives his/her own resignation letter which they are cautioned to keep handy for the rest of their service. If the Chief of Staff (usually in informal consultation with other four stars) decides that one’s service is no longer required, he/she is directed to submit the resignation letter. No questions, no appeal. It is possible that political pressure from above the service could be the determining factor, but that was so rare that I never saw it. One is selected for initial GO promotion by a board of the senior GO’s and the final selection requires the Chief of Staff to approve. After that it is pretty much done deal. Each promotion and position is done with the Chief of Staff having final say. To say that one needs a “sponsor” or more to get selected, retained and promoted is redundant. If you do not have a direct access of sponsorship in the four stars or strong indirect sponsorship by a lower positioned GO, you will not be selected or promoted or retained.

    If the selecting GO’s are more interested in selecting politically vetted, but technically competent senior leaders, a very quick change in guard can happen. While some politics/civilian influence has been common in selecting the chiefs of the services, the group of who can actually run that service is usually limited to guys like the three-star I served and the politicians/civilians generally limited any wide spread political litmus tests. Two exceptions in my service time (1970-90), the elimination of the draft and women in front line units. Most aspiring senior officers didn’t have strong positions on those issues, but that didn’t mean those who did oppose these two political decisions weren’t cancelled. Since I retired, the sexual orientation and reorganizing our combat power into nation building security units were similarly handled and the intrusion by political/civilian intervention reached further down the GO structure.

    This reached a new level of vetting during the Obama years and included a large helping of political correctness. This quiet purge quickly resulted in a majority of woke GO’s in the senior ranks. With the winding down of overseas operations, those political/civilian pressures to move left have only increased. eight years could not be reversed in four years given the elites open opposition to everything Trump tried to do. The swamp consensus never moved right, so neither did the GO selection vetting. This is how we got Miley and the clown posing as Chief of Naval Operation (who was elevated to that position from a two-star position). Got to be over a hundred naval GO’s unset about that move. Highly unusual to jump multiple ranks and very telling about the vetting influence from both the executive and legislative movers.


  12. Every peacetime military has had difficulties with selecting higher ranking officers who can ‘command’ in combat situations. Though we have been at ‘war’ for the past twenty plus years, the ‘wars’ have been either very short (GW1 & GW2) or of a ‘bush-war’ style. The leadership required is at the Light-Colonel or Major level. Those above are basically managers. So, though we have been ‘at war’ it has actually been a brush war. The US, Britain and Commonwealth nations had a whale of a time sorting out GO’s in WW2. And some of the issues of WW1 for the British could have been sorted much better by removing incompetent GOs faster. Marshall was a great help to the US in the 2nd. He removed ‘political’ GOs from combat positions but still used their expertise. Because that is the point, though they may not make it at a higher combat position, they are still competent at ‘managing’ military resources. (incompetence is not necessarily an insult, everyone is incompetent at something, and with experience may become competent). It takes a real leader at the top. One could pray for more George C. Marshalls.

  13. The issue the US military is going to run into is that in a future war with China or Russia, we are not going to be given time to get rid of the dead weight in the officer corps. Those fights will be come as we are affairs, and the officer corps we are creating right now is going to loose that war out of sheer incompetence and idiocy, and with that loss will come a concurrent heavy toll in lives lost, and equipment destroyed, lost, or sunk.

    I retired in 2014, after 20 years enlisted. I would not be able to survive in the current environment, I’d be kicked out. Last week a Navy construction battalion held a mandatory LGBT hike in California, waving the rainbow flag as they went.

  14. The long-standing conventional wisdom that our military, should it ever be forced to choose, would line up with conservatives against progressives, has always been a huge existential progressive vulnerability. Obviously, the progressive powers have decided that solving this problem is more valuable than having the best military. It all makes sense if you understand that they see civil war as a very real possibility.

    Proponents of global adventurism versus USA interests are going to enjoy this.

  15. }}} after a certain rank – O-6, or colonel, they become political animals, if they hanker truly after that magical star.

    Indeed, look at Patton. Probably the most brilliant general of the 20th Century, and he kept getting shit for doing things that, these days, we would refer to as “politically incorrect”, and it would even be fairly valid as a concept.

    OTOH, you had Ike, who was, no question, a fairly decent general, but boy was he a political guy…

  16. The BIGGEST danger to CRT is, seriously, fucking with the quality of the military. The USA needs to have a good military, period, if only because of O’Rourke’s Dictum:

    “A nation with a goofy foreign policy needs a very serious policy of defense.”
    – P.J. O’Rourke, ‘Parliament of Whores’ –

    With our schizoid policy flipflopping around constantly based on the vaguely sensible or the complete lunatics being in charge of the PotUS office, we really need a good military.

  17. AAAAAnd I cite once more my long-held and vocally noted description of PostModern Liberalism as a literal, not figurative, social cancer, aimed at destroying Western Civilization and its chief proponent and example of WCiv’s best and worst, the USA.

    One more dagger into its heart.


  18. Mike:

    Look at the history of John Boyd, who peaked at Colonel. The man introduced two major theories, one of which applies to planes, and the other of which applies to many disciplines —
    a — EM Theory (Energy Maneuverability Theory) which applies to why it was that US planes in Korea were far better than those in Vietnam. This theory, and Boyd’s proteges and cohorts, his “Fighter Mafia” were behind Lightweight Fighter program (LWF, which became the F-16. Another of his Fighter Mafia developed the A10 Warthog.
    b — The OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). This has been considered applicable all throughout not just military action but also business and other things.

    Additionally, Boyd was the guy who is credited for largely developing the strategy for the invasion of Iraq during the Gulf War, that Stormin’ Norman took public credit for. Supposedly, HIS original plans were more along the lines of “go straight in, and beat them toe to toe”. Boyd’s plans were far more in line with those advised by Patton: “Hold ’em by the nose with firepower, while you kick them in the ass with maneuver“.

    Frankly, I think Boyd should have been the Hyman Rickover of the modern Air Force, and he did have substantial input because he was Just That Damned Good… But he wasn’t political enough, and so never got promoted past Colonel.

  19. Milley’s at the top, in terms of military rank. So, to whom is he sucking up? What does he think is his reward? Being extended in his current position versus not being extended?
    What civilian position is more available now that he’s gone woke that wouldn’t have been, and does it pay more–in some fashion–than others more conventionally available?
    GO has a nice retirement package, but it doesn’t amount to an estate unless the wife worked on the economy and they were very frugal. And still…..not a bunch.
    What lucrative sillyvilian opening is now open that wouldn’t have been, and what would have been available to an honorable man?
    I made 1LT fifty years ago. Although Infantry by inclination and training, I spent a year in ADA Group HQ–the old Nike Here, to date myself–and saw field grades operating daily.
    Since we were in CONUS with the anti-war thing going on, we paid attention to the environment, but didn’t modify our activities great or small by much at all.
    So while I can see what’s happening now, I have no direct experience with it, and some experience with people who would have done the professional thing if it came to a choice, which I guess I’m saying never happened.

  20. My dad always said there was no worse human being on earth than a full-bird bucking for his first star. Unless maybe it was a light colonel bucking for his bird.

    Also, since Gavin noted Lincoln, I’m sure we all remember his rejoinder to someone complaining that Grant drank too much: Whatever it is, I should send a case of it to ALL my commanders. (paraphrased)

  21. Marshall plucked Ike out of obscurity and promoted him above dozens (or more) more senior officers. Just as Ike was no Patton, so Patton was no Ike.

    A coalition is the finest example of the Clausewitzian dictum that war is the continuation of politics/policy; our present command structure is a fine example of how politics can destroy– I almost said emasculate– a military, and any coalition of such militaries loses before they start. (See Afghanistan and Iraq–coalitions of the willing, indeed.)

    I had some acquaintances on campus among the ROTC staffs. We have all three programs, and hell, our University prez is a veteran!. (How many of those are out there?)
    That said, they tended to parrot the PC line of the day– Trump was going to start wars, and
    throw his foes in jail to be tortured . . . that sort of thing.

    Cousin Eddie

  22. The current pogrom against White Rage reminds me of the USSR’s Great Purge in the late-1930s. Stalin was fortunate to have the US to bail out his sorry ass after he destroyed the Red Army’s leadership. We won’t have a savior.

  23. Swartzkoph held Saddams nose with the threat of Marines landing on Kuwaiti beaches while VII Corps attacked out of the Western desert.

  24. We’ve been selecting and promoting the wrong people for decades. Basic competency is not even on the list of things they’ve been looking for and rewarding, and a lot of that stems from the politicization of the military that’s taken place since WWII.

    Time was, the military in the US was an iconoclastic institution of dubious virtue to the rest of the country. If you were a professional soldier, you were socially beyond the pale, and not well-respected or beloved. Sure, if you were one of the guys who rose to the top of things during one of the wars, yeah… That was OK. The peacetime military, though? Not in the least.

    WWII and the large standing forces that came afterwards changed all that, and the generals found that they liked being popular. Thus, the little things that crept in, like the Doolittle Board, which eviscerated a lot of the old system and replaced it with nothing that worked.

    It’s been a death of a thousand cuts, but we’ve gone from a situation where the institution turned out men like Marshall and Robert T. Frederick as a matter of course, to one where it seems like every flag rank officer in every branch is a venal creep intent on doing whatever it takes to make the political left happy. Milley put his thumb on the scale of things with regards to Trump so heavily that it bordered on sedition, and he’s not the only one. I was shocked and dismayed to see what Mattis got up to as SECDEF, along with the other creeps and freaks that boasted of willfully disobeying the intent and direct orders of the Commander in Chief.

    I don’t know where we go from here, but I’ll be damned if I see any reform coming down the pike. They got control of “who gets promoted” a long time ago, and once that happened, the corps of commissioned officers became the still-moving corpse of the institution.

    It’s not an accident that we haven’t won any wars with these guys running things, or that basic competencies like shiphandling are dying arts out in the fleet. It’s symptomatic of widespread failures across the board, and I’ll be damned if I see where reform could come from.

    Still… Despair is a sin. I really need to stop watching the news and paying attention to anything out of my direct view.

  25. Kirk, before you stop, read Dakota Meyer’s book, “Into the Fire,” to see a worm’s eye view of what the military got up to in Afghanistan.

    A hint. Meyer was disciplined because he was shooting at Taliban mortarmen who were shooting mortar rounds into his fire base. He was disciplined because they were not in “uniform.” Now, Taliban do not wear uniforms but that should be a hint of what it was like.

  26. Kirk: “I’ll be damned if I see where reform could come from.”

    In a less lethal world, reform would come from failure — failure which impacted the elites in their Swamp; not failure impacting only grunts sent to far-off lands. For example, the first encounter between US forces and German forces at Kasserine Pass in North Africa was an utter debacle for our side — but they learned. Problem we now face is that any failure which rocks the cozy little world of our Political Class is likely quickly to lead to all out nuclear war.

    Naval incompetence could quite easily led to loss of a US carrier group in the waters around Taiwan. Then the only choices that Resident Biden*’s ladies would have are (a) surrender, or (b) go nuclear.

  27. I graduated from high school in ’71, after years of watching news stories from remote fire bases in Vietnam that featured howitzers shooting at the jungle hills, to no effect that matters.

    Our leaders have proven many times since to have an addiction to such display, useless as it is in achieving political victories among people we don’t understand and–be real–don’t fundamentally respect.

    I recall reading a comment once–I wish I could remember who to credit–to the effect that the countries we invade, wreck, “rebuild,” and leave have historical epochs called BA and AA : Before the Americans and After the Americans, whereas unless an American knows someone personally involved, they barely are aware that those countries exist.

    The modern US is a peculiar compound of ineradicable idealism, growing ignorance, and declining power. Our risible elites–particularly the retired civil and military GS-15s and such
    embedded into the MSM– are a symptom, not the problem.

    We screwed.

    Cousin Eddie

  28. WWII was the last war we were in that just walking away was not an option, probably the least bad option. We’ve just spent 20 years and a couple of trillion dollars proving that playing whack-a-mole with religious fanatics isn’t any more productive than playing the same game with the Viet-Cong.

    So now the branches have decided that the future is re-fighting WWII. The Marines are intent on storming ashore on the beaches of…???, China maybe. The newest Air Force bomber would have been invulnerable over Stuttgart or Tokyo but lacks a plausible mission against modern air defenses that stand-off munitions make redundant in any event. Not that there will be money for more than two or three. The Army is moving toward the day when every actual soldier on the firing line will require a crew of maintainers as large as a fighter plane.

    We would be as well off if we selected our generals on the basis of how impressive they look in a dress uniform instead of whatever we’re using now.

  29. What Kirk said – especially about venial creeps in Class-A uniforms. And we will get slammed in the next shooting war, and won’t have the time or leadership potential to recover. That’s also what I fear – along with my other concern. This hounding of conservatives in the military will absolutely gut retention and recruiting. Not a doubt in my mind. And the powers that be – having demonstrated their affection for doing the stupidest, most bone-headed action possible – may try to recover by instituting a so-called universal national service draft, The offspring of the nomenklatura will get a comfortable billet somewhere doing something easy – the rest will do military service or hard labor.

  30. Sgt Mom: “And the powers that be – having demonstrated their affection for doing the stupidest, most bone-headed action possible – may try to recover by instituting a so-called universal national service draft, “

    They may try — but their own actions have rendered that kind of action impossible. The majority of military-aged US citizens are physically unfit for service, and most of the fit ones are spending their youths taking a knee. Can you imagine what would happen in Portland when Resident Biden* gives the order for all the BLM & AnitFa rioters to sign up for National Service?

    But by far the bigger issue is that because of our Betters religious commitment to “Free Trade”, China can switch off the US at any time of its choosing, simply by ceasing shipments. And we have to acknowledge that the massive flow of real goods from China to the US would stop the day the first bullet is fired in anger. Our Cargo Cult economy is very unstable.

    To modify Cousin Eddie’s statement slightly — Our Political Class has screwed us.

  31. We screwed ourselves by not paying attention to that political class, not understanding in a visceral way just how much power over our lives they were taking.

    Deaths of a thousand cuts, most of which weren’t even noticed. Nobody voted this crap in, nobody wants it, but now the apparatchik rules all. To what end? Their own aggrandized ideas of power and authority, which they use to make life unlivable for everyone within the span of their control.

    Whole thing is nuts, and it isn’t going to end well. Rome went in very much the same way, with the centers of power overwhelmed by the idiot class which ignored all the “unpleasant” implications of reality out in the provinces. When the barbarians finally breached the weakened frontier, they were welcomed as being much easier to work with than the officious Roman bureaucrats and noble classes.

    We’ve raised up our own aristocracy, all unknowingly. They’re fitting us out for the yoke, as we speak, and most aren’t even paying attention as the shackles get hammered on.

  32. The whole thing is coming down, we have been betrayed, and of course it isn’t going to end well.

    I’m a fan of The Fourth Turning– which I know has been mentioned at this site- and it always struck me that the authors regarded the American Revolution and the Civil War as successful turnings. I think they were actually catastrophes, and both the British Empire of circa 1770 and the Slavocracy of the American South would been much better off if they hadn’t brought about the wars that ruined them via their political incompetence.

    I can foresee a similar fate for our present idiocracy, for multiple reasons. One on-topic reason is that the Pentagon appears to have made it a requirement for advancement to high rank that officers obtain a degree from a civilian college, such as one of the Ivy League cesspools of treason and insanity. The problem is that if you’re a conservative and also a talented officer, you may not be willing to tolerate the bootlicking the leftists who control those colleges will require of you. And at this point, the entire show is controlled by leftist indoctrinated generals anyway, who don’t want conservatives around.

    But talented officers don’t lose that talent because the regime won’t bless them. And by now, I expect there are plenty of talented officers who have been forced out because of their politics- and who gaze upon what the regime has done and intends to do to their country without fondness.

    To put that mildly. Meanwhile, the regime busies itself prosecuting grandmothers for trespassing in the capital and celebrates indicting a Trump corporation employee for things no democrat would ever worry about.

    Did I mention that there is incompetence involved in all this? Yes, I did.

  33. point taken yes, the cycles from the glorious revolution to the american war to the civil war (hence lincoln’s mention in gettysburg, the depression and the world war were somewhat precipitated, and now we have the latest crisis, professor spence of yale, had it within three generations in the chinese context for similar reasons

  34. I’m aboard with most of Xennady’s comment but the way he frames the AmRev and ACWABAWS (American Civil War About, Between, Among, and Within the States) as disasters for the losers is to ignore the point that more people won more, in both cases,
    than was lost–and in both cases lack of internal cohesion and strategic incoherence may have doomed the efforts from the start.

    But in historical terms the Second British Empire that emerged from the American debacle became stronger by far after than it was before; the defeated White South went on to institute a herrenvolk democracy/apartheid regime while crafting romantic obfuscations of their foolishness (which enjoyed great success elsewhere, I must add).

    Certainly imperial overstretch was nothing new in 1770s or 1950s, and we can’t avoid the same sort of drawdown all the Euros have undergone.

    One justification for ROTC is that unlike the academies it draws much more broadly from the population and is far less segregated from them, so less inclined to praetorianism than the baby flag officers. So goes the theory, and it may well work exactly that way, but what if the threat isn’t praetorianism but cultism?

    I’m a retired academic insider and I hope an informed outsider about our military, and in both cases I get queasy thinking about what I know.

    Cousin Eddie

  35. Xennady – I’m a fan of The Fourth Turning– which I know has been mentioned at this site- and it always struck me that the authors regarded the American Revolution and the Civil War as successful turnings. I think they were actually catastrophes, and both the British Empire of circa 1770 and the Slavocracy of the American South would been much better off if they hadn’t brought about the wars that ruined them via their political incompetence.

    Since Strauss and Howe were writing a history of American Turnings it’s no surprise to me that they didn’t consider the impact of the Revolution on the British Empire when evaluating it. They also specifically note that the Civil War Turning produced no Hero/Civic Generation, unlike the other Crisis Turnings before and since.

    It might be a change in my thinking but it seemed to me that by their latest edition they had backed off from presenting every High Turning as replication of the American experience during the two decades following WWII. Even so, they have always acknowledged that every High Turning has a dark side that sows the seeds for the attacks on institutions that will occur in the subsequent Awakening and Unraveling Turnings, and that Highs are only positive for people comfortable with the majoritarian consensus. The imposition of Jim Crow during the Gilded Age High wasn’t a positive event even if black Americans obtained other benefits during the era. We’re right in the middle of the Crisis debate on the form the next High Turning consensus will take and if the consensus breaks towards the Authoritarian Left, those of us who are Classic Liberals are going to find it at the very least an unpleasant period regardless of other possible benefits. That might actually be typical of the members of the Nomad/Reactive Generation (currently Gen X, of which I’m a member) in a High Turning.

  36. As far as I recall, the outstanding effect on British domestic policy from losing the Revolution was loss of North America as a penal dumping ground. This was remedied eventually by Australia, in the mean time, the hulks on the Thames were available to salve their consciences and limit the number of hangings. India was a much bigger deal in terms of economics. They never really succeeded in making America profitable, we were too hard to push around and inconveniently English which limited the sort of military options used in the rest of the Empire.

  37. …AmRev and ACWABAWS (American Civil War About, Between, Among, and Within the States) as disasters for the losers is to ignore the point that more people won more, in both cases, than was lost…

    A fair point. But I still think in both cases it would have better if the situation had been resolved without war. For example, I recall that at some point after the Revolutionary War had begun, the English sent a delegation to the colonies offering concessions that supposedly if proposed earlier would have likely prevented the war, but by then it was too late. Similarly, the Antebellum South initiated the chain of events that led to the Civil War because they weren’t willing to accept election results that left them to be ruled by the antislavery North. And, according to historian Kenneth Stampp, those election results came about because the Slavocracy engineered the Dredd Scott decision to “settle” the slavery question. Bluntly, there would have been even more winners if these political conflicts had been resolved without war, which would have required the politically dominant faction to offer compromise before the shooting started.

    It might be a change in my thinking but it seemed to me that by their latest edition they had backed off from presenting every High Turning as replication of the American experience during the two decades following WWII.

    Interesting. My copy was printed about 2010, and it’s the only edition I’ve read. I would have thought another edition wouldn’t be possible, as one of the authors- William Strauss- had died in 2007. In fact, having years ago briefly read the website of the survivor, I had the unkind thought that the author who passed on was the guy who thought it all up, and the guy who survived was simply the one who wrote it all down.

    We’re right in the middle of the Crisis debate on the form the next High Turning consensus will take and if the consensus breaks towards the Authoritarian Left, those of us who are Classic Liberals are going to find it at the very least an unpleasant period regardless of other possible benefits.

    True statement. But if the consensus had actually broke towards the authoritarian left, then Trump wouldn’t have been elected in 2016 and the American political establishment wouldn’t have needed to steal the 2020 election. I quit reading the website of the surviving author because he seemed to think that Barry Obama was the next FDR, which struck me as obvious nonsense, then and now.

    But hey, he has to make a living just like everyone else. Good luck with all that, Neil.

  38. Just some extensions, no real dispute– Xennady: “in both cases it would have better if the situation had been resolved without war. For example, I recall that at some point after the Revolutionary War had begun, the English sent a delegation to the colonies offering concessions”

    Shades of 1812, when the Brits were ready to concede some issues but it was too late; Niall Ferguson argues that they learned some lessons (which is more than some imperial powers do) and that Canada’s case shows how it might have gone. Plausible and worth thinking about.

    My understanding of the CSA case is that extremism and self-interest were too closely aligned among the Southron elites for them to offer any concessions–they didn’t want to even discuss things like compensated emancipation. (I’m named for my ggf, who rode with Forrest, but you can’t sugar coat that regime–Frederick Douglass was never more right than when he pointed out the Rebels preferred losing their sons to losing their slaves.)

    I am not familiar with the High Turning concept but will look into it.

    Cousin Eddie

  39. Back to the original story: Noting the general was wearing a flight suit, I’d be inclined to say that his generalness probably just climbed out of his plane and was basically wandering around before they got his room at the VOC (Visiting Officers Quarters), with the formal visit the next day. Most senior flight officers will use any excuse to get fight hours in. I once met a Marine colonel that had flown an F18 from Virginia to Ellington (Houston) to attend a memorial service for an ensign in his unit that he’d never met.

  40. ObloodyHell: Patton was a fine general, though I would hardly label him “the most brilliant of the 20th century” on the basis of less than two years in active command of forces with massive advantages.

    He was also an expert player of internal Army political games, who knew exactly when and how to kiss up to high command and senior officers.

  41. I found this an interesting counterpoint to the impending canonization of Donald Rumsfeld.
    Never a general, supposedly ate them for lunch. You have to wonder who was playing who.

    Back in the storied days of S.A.C., LeMay was notorious for landing on a base unannounced to fire the commander or otherwise stir things up.

  42. MCS mentions LeMay. IIRC he managed for a while to hold the nuclear bomber fleet as his personal fiefdom, so much so that he (and a few subordinates?) could bypass the national command authority on their own hook. (Rhodes, Holloway, etc–in there somewhere.)

    Happy Fourth, y’all!

    Just for the grins, go see Mencken’s Declaration of Independence in American–


    Cousin Eddie

  43. The security of our nuclear weapons was worked out back when we seemed better at that sort of thing then now. It wasn’t an instantaneous process so what you talk about was probably true for some time. From the very earliest times going back to Trinity, it always took the coordinated deliberate action of at least two different people.

    While the exact mechanisms are still secret, they are a secret we shared with the Russians.

    I hope everyone finishes the 4th with as many fingers and eyes as they started with.

  44. Oh, yes – General Lemay was a legend. The slang for ‘a really put-together, professional troop’ in my day was “strac” which stood for STrategic Air Command. The maintenance NCO at my first posting had been a mech in SAC, his first tour or two. From what he recollected then, if there was an emergency drill, the B-52s would take off with — IRRC, the first ten of their assigned crew of 12 to report in. And if you missed the launch … sorry, you were bounced from that assignment before the smoke of the takeoff had even cleared from the end of the runway.
    A couple of times at Mather, I pulled off the road to the housing area to watch a flight of B-52s (called BUFFs, for Big Ugly Fat F**kers) and their accompanying refueler take off at close interval. The ground shook from the noise, and by the time the last AC lifted off, you could barely see the end of the runway for all the smoke from the engines.

  45. as I think I made clear, in another place, I don’t think the 4th ID was all that in the long run, the debaathification that had been contemplated, was carried out by Bremer, who thought he was lord Cromer,

  46. those election results came about because the Slavocracy engineered the Dredd Scott decision to “settle” the slavery question. Bluntly, there would have been even more winners if these political conflicts had been resolved without war,

    There are a couple of books that make a good argument that Dredd Scott and his wife had an incompetent lawyer and the case should never have gotten to Taney. They were taken to Minnesota which meant they were free. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 banned slavery north of the Ohio River. Taney was wrong in law, not just in principle.

  47. Just some extensions, no real dispute

    Same here, but I always want to respond to comments that quote me, if only to encourage more commentary. It plainly isn’t my responsibility to care, but I’ve always been bothered a bit by how many good comments I see that get no response at all, which I bet makes the commenters suspect that no one reads or cares about them. I will specifically note such good comments by fiona and Linda S Fox in another thread, and also note that there were more further down the thread.

    Frederick Douglass was never more right than when he pointed out the Rebels preferred losing their sons to losing their slaves.

    That’s a striking observation, which I regret not seeing before.

    I found this an interesting counterpoint to the impending canonization of Donald Rumsfeld.

    Great link, not least because I’m a fan of Edward Luttwak. From there: “Then I gratuitously added that strategy was beyond the capacity of Anglo-Saxons because they are gloaters, while only brooders seriously think about threats.” Made me wonder if I should consider myself more Irish and less Anglo-Saxon, because I certainly think about the threats.

    Taney was wrong in law, not just in principle.

    Those books discern another fascinating evaluation of events that I don’t recall seeing before. Alas, the wrongness in law was overtaken by events.

  48. I’ve got enough relevant genes to propose an Anglo-Saxon motto:

    We’re Anglo-Saxons; We Are the Threat!

    Fan of Luttwak’s myself. His “Give War A Chance” is a classic.

    Big fireworks tonight in the ‘hood, especially the flatter area south of here, which has smaller houses on smaller and if anything more wooded lots than ours, as well as a greater density of B/black and Hispanic residents (mostly owners, lots of kids)–much bigger and louder than Juneteenth.

    Cousin Eddie

  49. I thought the Douglass quote was especially on target as well. I think it’s pretty certain that a comment posted her will be read by most of us. For better or worse, this isn’t a place that accumulates threads that are hundreds of comments ,but I definitely feel quality exceeds quantity. Nobody seems bashful about disagreeing.

    According to this:
    Dred Scott established two things. First, it held that Negros could never be considered citizens of the United States, even if free and second, it set aside the Missouri Compromise and put any limits on slavery in the territories beyond the reach of congress. I believe that it served as a catalyst to crystalize opposition to slavery among many that would have been inclined to tolerate it as long as it was at a distance. The decision was 7-2, so Taney’s vote was hardly decisive but I don’t think the law had anything to do with it. Most of what I’ve read about it seems content to lay the blame on Taney and rarely even mention the other six concurring justices.

    This uncomfortably parallels the dynamic of the present court where many of the votes do not seem to be open to argument on certain issues and others seem vulnerable to intimidation.

    All of this further points up the failure of our elected representatives to do what we elected them for, which is to pass clear laws. This goes back many years and takes in both sides of the isle.

  50. I believe that it served as a catalyst to crystalize opposition to slavery among many that would have been inclined to tolerate it as long as it was at a distance.

    True statement, and the key reason for that was because the decision erased state laws banning slavery. In other words, with that court decision, the Slavocracy had won and the entire nation became a collection of slave states. I’m going to make a guess that vast numbers of wage workers in the North suddenly concluded that they’d have to compete against unpaid slave labor and became radicalized against the prevailing regime- that is, the Slavocracy, as Abraham Lincoln named it.

    The decision was 7-2, so Taney’s vote was hardly decisive but I don’t think the law had anything to do with it.

    I’ve based a lot of my opinions on the Dredd Scott decision on a book by Kenneth M. Stampp entitled America in 1857 : A Nation on the Brink . My recollection from that book is President James Buchanan and Taney worked together to get that decision, with the idea that it would “settle” the slavery question.


  51. Oh yeah, there was a whole Free Soil, Free (White) Labor underpinning to the anti-slavery movement. The fears were quite explicit, and well-founded–lots of good literature on the subject. Being anti-slavery didn’t mean being pro-B/black, not by a long shot–most if not all Free states and localities had restrictions on B/black citizenship, and while Jim Crow ruled in the Southland after The Woah, Sunset Towns were the rule in much of the rest of the country.

    A retired historian friend likes to twit critics of our region by referring to New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as “former slave states.”

    It’s complicated.

    Cousin Eddie

  52. When you look at the whole “slave” issue in American history, I think you have to go back to the very beginning of it, when it started, and why.

    Early colonials came here for several reasons. Some were religious free-thinkers that wanted room, and who felt that England of the time was irreparably corrupt. Some were wannabe aristos who wanted to recreate the bankrupt manorial system they’d run into the ground in England, and it’s unfortunate that those were the ones who glommed onto the whole “slave” idea in the southern colonies. They wanted to profit off of other men’s labor, the sweat of other’s brows.

    I think that this could have been stopped, early on, with some selective hard work by the moral authorities of the time. However, none of them were up for it, and they were going to profit from slavery themselves, sooo… Yeah. That didn’t happen.

    But… Consider the lost opportunities, had someone of moral sense simply said “Hey, looks like Northern Europeans die in job lots, down here… Maybe… Maybe if we were to import willing communities of Africans displaced by tribal wars, bring them here, and set them down as a source of labor…? Not as slaves, but as free citizens that can do the work, and we’ll just serve as an interface between them producing the tobacco/agricultural products and the European markets…?”.

    No slaves; no slave rebellions. Just common sense, instead of coercion. I dare say that even if you’d have gone and bought slaves, then freed them to do their thing here in the South, you’d have been better off. “Hey, we’re doing this as charity; you work for us for a bit, to repay the investment, and then you’re free to sell us your labor…?”.

    It could so easily have gone in a positive way. But, those thieving aristo-wannabes wanted to play little lord of the manor again, and here we are.

    If you could run the counterfactual, I’d wager that if you’d have done something along those lines, you’d have created a far stronger South, one with an actual future, than the antebellum “Slave South” that we did. And, it could have gone so easily the other way, had someone of some felching basic human decency been involved in the decision.

    As it was, we had the slaver mentality, and here we are, still paying the price for the basic corruption of it all.

  53. A retired historian friend likes to twit critics of our region by referring to New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as “former slave states.”

    Not after 1784 when the Northwest Ordinance banned slavery north of the Ohio River. Since 1784 predates the Constitution, the “states” were still colonies. I guess he could refer to “states” as defined by the 1777 Articles of Confederation. That is a bit of a stretch no “historian” should be guilty of.

  54. In considering slavery, it is of some value to remember that many early residents of Georgia in particular, were prisoners condemned to “Transportation” as an alternative to hanging. The American Revolution interrupted this policy until Australia was enough developed to serve as another destination for involuntary immigrants. Georgia was begun as a debtors colony and Virginia got 20,000 convicts. The totals were about 50,000 white prisoners. PBS says 388,000 African slaves were brought to America.

  55. Kirk: “Maybe if we were to import willing communities of Africans displaced by tribal wars, bring them here, and set them down as a source of labor…?”

    Interesting idea. But we have to remember how miserable life was for most people in the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s. As Mike K notes, transportation to the colonies was the “humane” alternative to hanging for lots of Brits. Even larger numbers of Europeans voluntarily signed on as indentured labor to pay for their voyage across the Atlantic — effectively slaves, unless they were among the lucky ones who lived long enough to pay off their debt.

    And we have to begin with the supply side. Africans (never a united bunch) wanted to trade for European goods — rum, cloth, guns, etc. What they had to barter was the slaves they had taken in fighting with other Africans. Africans selling other Africans to the English slave traders was their version of the “humane” alternative to their normal killing of captives who were excess to their own requirements.

    The underlying factor is that slavery was the natural condition of humankind since the earliest days of agriculture. Arab traders used to raid the coast of England for slaves for Ottoman markets, in competition with Scandinavians who used to enslave the Slavs of eastern Europe to feed the same demand. Slavery was not a moral issue for most of recorded history — not until the growth of the fossil-fuel powered steam engine in the 1800s changed the global economic structure and gave humanity the choice of not needing slave labor.

    What we really need today is to tell people to Grow Up! The fact that some African enslaved somebody’s great, great, great, …. grandfather is neither here nor there. It is not significantly different from what happened to anyone else’s great, great, great, …. grandfather in those distant days. The sad history of our ancestors does not excuse our own self-defeating behavior today.

  56. Did some research to resolve a tickling at the back of my mind about the “why” of Mexican antipathy towards blacks. I remember reading about this, somewhere, and here we are:

    “Franciscan Toribio de Benavente Motolinia (1482-1568), who arrived in Mexico in 1524 to evangelize the Nahuas, considered blacks the “Fourth Plague” (in the manner of Biblical plagues) on Mexican Indians. He wrote “In the first years these black overseers were so absolute in their maltreatment of the Indians, over-loading them, sending them far from their land and giving them many other tasks that many Indians died because of them and at their hands, which is the worst feature of the situation.”

    There are a lot of remembered folkways and passed-on traditions in the Indio and mestizo parts of Mexico–Blacks aren’t remembered as fellow victims, but as overseers and kapos in the Spanish slave systems. Not to mention, the initial disease vectors for things like smallpox and what not are thought to have come from the African part of the Conquistadore forces, which is why I suspect that a lot of Mexicans consider blacks to be filthy and disease-ridden–Wasn’t actually true, but I think there’s a lot of traditional prejudice behind all of it.

    Best numbers show that of the ten million or so slaves brought to the Americas, some 388,000 came to North America, and some 200,000 went to Mexico. Most of the rest wound up in Brazil and other parts of South America, mostly Brazil.

    I think the fact that the Africans brought to North America managed to rise to close to 4 million by 1860 says something about the comparative treatment, however much of a horror show life was on a Southern plantation.

    It will be interesting to see what the population numbers look like, after these idiots get what they want with BLM and CRT. My guess is that we’re living at the high-water mark for black America, and it’s all downhill from here. Their new Latino masters ain’t going to put up with the BS the old ones did, ‘cos they don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt over slavery, and see the blacks not as victims, but former quisling co-conspirators with their former Spanish masters.

    What’s interesting, though? A lot of Mexicans are amazingly proud of their Spanish ancestry, and hold no grudges. The blacks? Sweet babbling baby Jesus, but is there still a deep well of hatred and animosity. Goes to show ya… Don’t take jobs cracking the whips in foreign fields, and then try to live there, after…

    It’s kinda the way it seems (as an outsider…) that your typical actual black South African can kinda-sorta forgive and forget the Afrikaner, but the Indians brought in by the English…? Lord. You’re probably better off as a white Afrikaner than any of the mixed-race varieties in the new South Africa.

  57. Nope, Doc K– the NW Ordinance prohibited slavery in the NW Territory, not where it was already established.

    PA started the emancipation process as early as 1780 but didn’t pass an actual abolition bill until the 1840s; NY and NJ abolished slavery as late as the 1820s. Admittedly there were not vast numbers of slaves involved, but the point remains–slavery in the USA was not entirely a Southern (or even White/Black) thing.

    As for demographics, the peak of B/black percentage of the North American population was the colonial era– about 25%, and as noted North American slavery was about the mildest form in the New World.

    Cousin Eddie

  58. While we are on the topic — let me recommend to interested parties to get hold of a copy of “Black Cargoes: A history of the Atlantic slave trade, 1518 – 1865”, by Daniel P. Mannix. It was written in 1962, pre-wokeness and consequently much more objective than anything being written today — and quite eye-opening.

    Some historians assert that the major African slave trade was not from West Africa across the Atlantic. Rather, it was the Muslim-run slave trade from East Africa north to the Middle East. If anyone knows of a good history of the East African slave trade, please share.

  59. At the time when the Capitol was in Philadelphia, the law in Pennsylvania freed any slave that resided in the state for more than six months. Washington had to shuttle slaves periodically back to Mt. Vernon to avoid the law. Pennsylvania from its Quaker roots was one of the earlier states to restrict slavery.

    The planters that settled Virginia were completely different from the religious dissenters that settled farther north. Many either had money or were fronting wealthy investors back in England. They also had access to large tracts of land and a seeming gold mine in tobacco. What they lacked were people to work the fields. Even those that served out their indentures left at their first opportunity. The draw of free or cheap land was too attractive.

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