TTAG commentator Dyspeptic Gunsmith writes:

From talking to a couple dozen combat vets of Iraq and Afghanistan, I think it is a highly dubious proposition that armed civilians in the Islamic world will fight off terrorists and thugs. In Central and South America, I don’t think that the people would maintain any sort of freedom if you could wave a magic wand and make the cartels disappear overnight. Look at what people vote for – just look at Venezuela for an example. Here’s an example of how mere guns don’t magically result in liberty . . .

In Afghanistan, most households have at least one AK in their possession. Oftentimes, they had more than on AK. Ammo was plentiful enough that every household had at least a hundred rounds ready to go.

The Taliban were thugs, I was told by our vets. Sure, they had their religion angle to them, but at their core, they’re straight-up thugs. A couple/three Talibunnies would come into villages of 200 to 500 people and terrorize them, sometimes raping the single women, stealing from farmers and merchants, and telling the people what to do, burning books, telling women what to wear, not to leave the house, etc.

The USA or Marines would get a call from the village elders “please help us solve this problem.” The US forces would show up for a week or two, the Talibunnies would leave town in the middle of the night, and the village would enjoy a respite. As soon as the US forces would leave, the Talibunnies would slip back in.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I asked the young men who had been there “So… every household has an AK, you said?”

“Yup.”

“And you say there’s only a couple/three of these Taliban thugs who show up, right?”

“Riiiight…” the veteran would say, smiling – because he knew where this is going, and he was going to enjoy delivering the hard truth.

“So… Why don’t the villages just up and whack the Taliban in the middle of the night, dispose of the bodies and the evidence, then resume their lives?”

The vet would now be laughing. “Because… they’re Muslims. ‘In’shalla’ is their way of saying ‘mañana’ – only without the hurry. Because it would require doing work. Because it would require initiative. Remember, these people have continued to crap in the street in broad daylight, suffer water-borne diseases every day, losing children due to bad water as a result of fecal matter in their water supply… because they lack the initiative to dig a pit toilet.

“You’re expecting people who refuse to dig a hole in the ground and use it to suddenly grow a spine? C’mon, man. You’re being as silly an idealist as those neo-cons who think that Jeffersonian Democracy is going to spring up in the Islamic world just because we killed some dictator.”

More people in the US should talk to our veterans about these big picture issues. It’s eye-opening. It will also make you want to beat the crap out of any politician or policy wonk who utters the term “nation-building” ever again.

From now on, our military forces should be given only one task in the field: kill people and break stuff, then come home. Leave the high-minded idealistic BS to the Canadians or some other bunch of preening solipsists. “Nation building” is the human equivalent of cleaning the biggest cow barn in the universe, and you really want to kill all the cows so they never crap on your floor again, but people keep telling you that you must be nice to the stupid cows.

The fundamental error in assuming that simply giving people arms will lead to a flowering of liberty is this: liberty isn’t just a bunch of words on a piece of paper, or people ambling around with guns. It’s a mindset, an epistemology and ontology combined. If a culture lacks these philosophical underpinnings, I don’t care how many guns you give them, you won’t see liberty and freedom flower.

If you’re operating in a society that believes your government and religion go hand-in-hand, or in a society that still suffers the delusion of the “divine right of kings,” then those issues need to be solved first.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again until it sinks in: the ideas of liberty and freedom that are the basis for the US Constitution and our liberties are the result of the mindset and philosophy of white protestant men of the 17th and 18th century, in particular coming out of the Scottish Enlightenment.

These ideas are also the result of only white protestant men. No other culture has repeated this – none. All other cultures who try to even imitate it cannot get it right, because they don’t believe their rights and liberties are inherent in their own existence. They all start from a basis of “Well, the government says I can…so we’ll make sure the government allows this.” Of course, that doesn’t last for long.

The two cultures referenced above don’t even believe in religious tolerance. Muslims certainly don’t, and Catholics only pretend to do so, and they’re used to their religions being the basis for political power, either explicitly or implicitly. Giving them guns might get rid of today’s problem, but tomorrow there will be another problem just like the one you’re looking at today – because their societies will give up their guns just as soon as today’s problem is ‘solved.’

157 Responses to Dyspeptic Gunsmith: Arming Civilians Not Necessarily The Answer to the Loss of Liberty

  1. interesting, I was in Southern Afghan in 09 and 2010, and local nationals were only allowed to own double and single barrel shotguns. A district over they could own shotguns, or bolt action rifles. Shotguns were quite common, mostly single barrel, but some nice Baikal shotguns with USSR stamps were floating around. Ammo was incredibly scant though when talking to villagers. I did see some odd 12 gauge shells that were rather short with cryllic on them, and Fiochi birdshot.

    • And yet the taliban and other assorted bad guys never seem to run short of AK’s, ammo, or RPGs. How does this happen?

      • Same reason the bad guys in America always have guns and ammo. It’s why we fight against gun control. It’s worse than useless as it disarms the good guys leaving them at the mercy of the bad guys.

        • If we can’t stop dope from coming across the boarders, how would we ever be able to stop weapons?

    • TravisP, my experience in Afghanistan was the same as yours. Lots of single shot shotguns, but no AKs. In fact, in Zabul province when I was embedded with the Afghan National Police, having an AK in your home was a guaranteed arrest. For the ANA, if they saw you with an AK and you were not wearing a uniform, they would likely engage, and certainly they would kill anyone they saw carrying an AK out of uniform at night.
      Although I would agree with DG’s premise, that guns don’t necessarily foster freedom, ideas and culture do, the example of the original post is incorrect. I believe he may be confusing Afghanistan with Iraq, where the one AK per household rule is more common.
      I can’t speak to all of Afghanistan, but AKs in the general population were not allowed, not were they common, in the general population in ARSIC South and East up though 2010, when I left.

      • I didn’t read the book, I only saw the movie… but would the portrayal of the village that protected Marcus Luttrel in Lone Survivor having AKs have been incorrect or improbable?

  2. Of course. Have guns increased liberty at all in the United States? We have one of the most evil, nannying, biggest governments in all of history. With more people in prision per capita that virtually anywhere. We also worship authority and lick boots better than anyone. Short of “them” coming to put us in camps, Amerikans will put up with anything. Why? “Because it’s the law”. And besides, it’s football season!

    • Even if the government did start doing the “camps” thing, as long as it’s not a group most Americans fall under, they won’t care and they’ll buy any excuse for the violation of liberty. Locking up Muslims without due process? Must be terrorists. Shooting black men? Must be thugs. As long as the state violence isn’t directly directly at them (yet) they won’t care.

      • “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Socialist.
        Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Jew.
        Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

        – Pastor Martin Niemoller (paraphrased on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial)

      • as long as it’s not a group most Americans fall under, they won’t care

        A statement proven by the Japanese-American Internment.

        • And its corollary: Judicious application of nuclear bombs will make an implacable enemy quiet as church mice for at least 70 years.

        • >implacable enemy
          >the Japanese empire was an ally of the US for decades

          If Japan was really an “implacable enemy” they would’ve nuked the US already.

        • Saw an interview with the guy who oversaw the Japanese internment. To his everlasting credit the interviewer asked why no Germans. The guy didn’t have an answer.

        • The Japanese-American internment was either an absurd over-reaction or a means of stealing everything owned by American citizens “whose eyes are oddly made” (per Rogers & Hammerstein). I’m going with thievery.

          Meanwhile on the East Coast, German-Americans were filling Madison Square Garden with their Nazi bund meetings. Yet, there was no German-American Internment. Nor should there have been.

          Neither was there an Italian-American Internment, which would have resulted in New York’s Little Italy kicking the US Army’s ass all the way back to Fort Dix.

        • The Japanese-Americans in Hawaii were left completely alone. They made-up a significant portion of the workforce at Pearl Harbor, and were instrumental in getting the port back in action, and many of the ships recovered.

        • The worst part is that Japanese-American internment was found constitutional by the Supreme Court (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korematsu_v._United_States). And that is a precedent that has never been overturned since. So basically, under the standing interpretation of the constitution, the President has a power to unilaterally detain an entire group of people in concentration camps, with just an executive order, and no pre-emptive legislative or judicial oversight, if the threat is deemed severe enough. Good luck contesting such detention in the court from within a camp.

        • I’m pretty sure the Japanese-American internment was a West Coast land grab. They tended to be farmers and I bet few of them managed to keep their land while they were interned.

    • This. Liberty is the absence of government tyranny. Firearms are merely one of the many tools that individuals can use work against the state.

      The pen is mightier than the sword and it always will be.

    • Necessary and sufficient are not the same thing. I would say an armed citizenry is almost necessary for freedom (given that no government can be trusted to respect the freedom of individuals), but obviously not sufficient.

    • Liberty really is a mere byproduct of Biblically serious Christianity (aka conservative Protestantism). Race doesn’t matter, but ideas do. Muslim and Roman Catholic cultures do not produce or maintain just, secure, prosperous, and free societies. Look at the Middle East, Latin America, and Southern Europe compared to the USA, Germany, Scotland, England, Holland, etc.

      Unfortunately, the Europeans have largely abandoned the Bible, and we Americans are not far behind. Northern Europe (Germany, Holland, Scandinavia) are now rotten to the core. America and the UK are “cut flower civilizations”. Things still look alive, but are withering fast since we have been severed from our root. We are the foolish and worthless heirs of great men. We have squandered a marvelous cultural inheritance.

      Guns won’t do much good, when the Biblical foundation is gone. I love both my Bible and my guns, but in the end, my ultimate faith and hope are in the God of the Bible.

      • Germany is half Catholic, as is Switzerland. Ireland is entirely Catholic. And in what sense is, say, predominantly Catholic France less free or prosperous than Germany?

        • How many revolutions has France had in the last 250 years? How many constitutions has she gone through? France is the home of the guillotine.

        • How many revolutions and other upheavals did Germany have in the same time period? How many victims of the same?

        • France has a justice system that has few of our rights. There is no habeas corpus. There is no right to a speedy trial, and some people are in jail for years awaiting their trial. The French system of criminal trials is an inquisitional one, whereas in the US we have an adversarial criminal trial system. In France, the possibility of an innocent man being put away is higher, and in the US the chance is higher that a guilty man goes free. France used to have an exceptionally harsh civil death penalty added to whatever prison time handed down to a felon.

          Perhaps the best indication of how differently France turned out from their revolution is to consider they’re on their “Fifth Republic.” In other words, they’ve had to reconstitute their government five times in the time we’ve had one government under one Constitution, and in between a couple of those Republics, France has had some periods of time where there is no “republic” that have been decades long.

          The most recent republic (the Fifth Republic) was installed by what was basically a military coup – or more accurately, the threat of one.

          Compared to the US, French governance is a basket case.

        • I didn’t ask for a comparison of France to US. The person to whom I replied compared France to Germany and Scandinavian countries (more specifically, Catholic vs Protestant countries). Everything that you say is equally, if not more so, applicable to the latter.

      • >Liberty really is a mere byproduct of Biblically serious Christianity

        And that’s why the Enlightenment is widely considered to be a secular movement.

    • With more people in prison per capita that virtually anywhere. We also worship authority and lick boots better than anyone. Don’t get out much do you? Gov’t school? Read”

      Make bad personal decisions that lead to prison? Tough freewill is a bitch. So don’t commit crime, play with drugs, or hurt people. I supposed if bring back executions and there will be less scum in prison.

  3. I’m in AFG currently, I doubt the locals will be able to pull themselves out of this Kunduz mess on their own either…

  4. This is one of the most intelligent pieces I have seen on this site. Regardless of the gunsmith’s temperament, all points made ring true, especially the point about nation building politicians.

  5. When asked why he did not rain down fire and brimstone upon a wicked people, God answered “Because their iniquity is not yet full” He may have been speaking about the US government. I believed until recently that there was still hope we could fix it…. recent presidential candidates support that hope… but we shall see. If Obama tries to declare martial law, all bets are off and blood will flow deep and red in the fields of America. I pray not. To repeat an old quote “If there be trouble, let it be in my time, that my children may know peace”. Shalom.

    • Let me make a prediction here.

      Obama will not declare martial law. When time comes to vacate the White House, he will do so in exact same way as all the presidents before him.

      Next president is going to be a Democrat.

      They are not going to declare martial law at any point during their term, either.

      Want to make a bet? Say, $100 on each point (or if you prefer to hedge against economic vagaries, the equivalent of the same in silver as of the date of this post).

      • Silver? You mean .22LR.

        And no, I wouldn’t take that bet. I’m guessing the next 9 years will be ‘a mix of boring yet frustrating, with moment of frustrating-to-exasperatingly grumble-worthy’.

  6. The previous article proclaiming “this is what happens when you disarm civilians” wasn’t well thought out or researched. There were guns everywhere in Iraq and Afghanistan and look what happened to that. We’ve seen well armed civilian population leave or exit countries because the intensity and scale of the conflict determined that it made sense to leave, and would be suicidal to stay and fight. Especially in Syria, you have a head of state (Assad) backed up by a dictator (Putin)who is willing to go all in to ensure the state’s survival, because it is in his interest to do so (only MidEast ally)

    To say that just arming civilians as the answer to cartels or rogue groups isn’t very intelligent at all. Guns aren’t the only answer; you’ll need an organized leadership, will to fight for a common cause, ORGANIZATION, and a plan to govern in the absence of a government or regime change. And what is a civilian populace armed with ARs or AKs going to do with Flankers, Fencers, Frogfoots, Hinds, Floggers, T-72s, and the like lobbing PGMs and heavy steel and explosives into buildings? Not much, except make themselves bigger targets. What the populace would need is a professional or well-financed large force to assist them (like the army decides to turn on the government)

    • You’ve clearly forgotten the very bloody embarrassment of every state actor that has ever tried to squash an insurgency.

      • There were plenty successful squashes of insurgencies. They are generally very successful when public opinion is not an issue and any means necessary can be used until effect is achieved. USSR squashed rebellions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia with no problem. Saddam kept Kurds under his thumb until US intervention. Iran and Turkey both had successful anti-insurgency campaigns against their Kurdish populations. In Africa, look at the Biafra war. And so on, and so forth… the list of just but failed rebellions is really way too long.

  7. OK,…

    “‘In’shalla’ is their way of saying ‘mañana’ – only without the hurry. Because it would require doing work.”

    Close, but no Cigar.

    In’shalla is not ‘mañana’, the ‘gist’ of the translation is actually ‘God Willing’.

    I cannot emphasise enough, that is the key to understanding the Arab-Middle East mindset.

    Absolutely *everything* is or happens because Allah wishes it to be so.

    It fills their brain with a sense of utter hopelessness, to the point where they will just lay their weapons down in battle and just wait to die.

    I’m not kidding on that one.

    I implore you to read this article, it explains it much better than I can:

    PLEASE read it.

    http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/6161-Multiculturalism-They-dont-think-like-us.html

    Giving weapons to oppressed people is *zero* guarantee they will use them to gain their freedom.

    Denying weapons to them will guarantee they will never be free.

    • It’s a tribal society also. If they village elders didn’t have the US to call upon they would consider whether to resist the Taliban or join them and then do what is politically expedient. But with the US troops around… let’s you and him fight. They risk nothing, and they get what they want. Of course they are going to do that.

      There were plenty of local warlords who would fight the Taliban (because the thought it was to their personal advantage) before we went over there.

    • Giving weapons to oppressed people is *zero* guarantee they will use them to gain their freedom.

      Denying weapons to them will guarantee they will never be free.

      This is the proper takeaway.

    • I’m aware of the actual translation of “in’shalla.” What I believe my interlocutor was referring to was the lack of work ethic for really basic living standards that is contained in that word and statement. The attitude is one of “if it happens, it happens because Allah decided it would happen. I have no free will to improve my lot. Some miracle must occur, and then the situation will improve.”

      Translation into modern American English: “I’m going to sit on my ass and wait for someone else to do it.”

      To your cited article: I read it years ago, and agree with much of it.

      Beyond the observations of those who have spent time among the Islamic societies, there’s a book I recommend people read that shows the attitude we observe towards work, liberty, economic and endless tribal warfare, corruption, etc in the Islamic world is nothing new. The problems have been here since…. a long damn time ago.

      Want to get a sense of how long the middle eastern culture, especially on the Arab peninsula, has been the way it is? Then I recommend reading The Muqaddimah, by Ibn Khaldûn. This is a fascinating read by a man who was a well travelled and well read scholar of his day (the 14th century). Herein you will read economic theories of supply, demand, etc long before Adam Smith, you’ll read a straight-up, literal expounding of Art Laffler’s theory on taxation, a little bit of Reagan’s supply-side economics, an observation that Jefferson’s ideal of a democracy of farmers being the highest form of society leads to the more stable of societies, etc. Khaldûn was hundreds of years ahead of his time.

      He also calls out the tribalism and petty grift so inherent in the Arab culture for what it is. And when I say “Arab,” I mean the people of the area we know today as Saudi Arabia. If you read this book and NB Khaldûn’s description of the Arabs… you’ll see how nothing has changed. The piece you cited above contains the following description of the work ethic of Arabs:

      “The basic forms of work: making stuff, growing stuff and moving stuff around, is taken care of by a class of indentured servants, usually non-Arab Muslims from the Third World, and even today, by outright slaves. ”

      Khaldûn says basically the same thing, only in a bit more flowery and florid language – because Arabic is full of flowery and florid language. Net:Net: Basically, Arabs are bone-idle lazy.

      This is another area where Protestanism comes into play: The idea of work being one’s reward, and that work beyond a mere subsistence was a moral virtue comes from Calvinism, and in Scotland Calvin’s student, John Knox. Even Martin Luther, still possessed of the Catholic outlook, didn’t care much for the idea of wealth from commerce and the accumulation of property (or material wealth), insisting that the virtuous life was had by working for subsistence, and then devoting one’s self to worship. It took Calvin to introduce the idea of work as a moral virtue, and hard work as one’s own reward.

      From this ideal, we see a reflection in the later works of John Locke, and then Thomas Jefferson referenced the inalienable right of the accumulation of wealth or property as the result of one’s own effort as “the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration.

        • What DG is describing is simply the base nature of humans. We are not intrinsically filled with high ideals and admirable principles. Those things must be taught and reinforced. When the high ideals and principles are discarded as dumb, stupid, mean-spirited, racists, sexist, irrelevant, our natural selfishness comes shinning through is so many areas of human conduct. When your idea of “right” becomes destroying all others who are not like you, then any behavior is condoned. Laziness is natural, industriousness is learned from education and deciding to not succumb to the base instinct. Children do not have to be taught to lie, it comes out without cultural conditioning. Left to ourselves, our childish desire to get things for no effort, to avoid responsibility for actions, to concentrate on immediate comfort rules our lives.

      • You beat me to jumping in on in’shallah and manana. I spent some time doing business in the Gulf, and was warned by the western expats early on that if you were trying to get a commitment on a deal out of a local, once you heard “in’shallah” the deal was as good as dead. No decision would ever be made, no matter how much tea was consumed.

        Both are ways of expressing a total abdication of responsibility for making a decision or taking an action.

        Well written piece, by the way-I couldn’t agree more with your points.

    • >> Absolutely *everything* is or happens because Allah wishes it to be so.

      Note that this is not fundamentally different from the Calvinist doctrine (double predestination, perseverance of the saints etc).

        • Which is orthogonal to this whole predestination business. In any case, in Calvinist discourse, working hard is not a way to get saved, it’s an indication that one is predestined to be saved. In other words, it’s not actually a choice that individual truly makes; it’s decided for them whether they’re elect or not, and if they are, then that’s the kind of life that they will lead. Thus, it’s more of a criteria to filter other people if you want to deal with someone godly.

      • Well, yes, it is different. Predestination (or double predestination), perseverance of the saints, etc in Calvinism are a question of whether one’s soul is among those to be saved or condemned, per God’s prior choice.

        Calvinist predestination doesn’t become a doctrine of saying “Yes, dear, I’ll take out the garbage tomorrow, God willing.

        • The only reason why it doesn’t is through a lot of hand-waving, to be honest. Whether one is saved or not is the single most important question for a Christian, and achieving salvation is the most important goal of one’s life, to which everything else is strictly subservient. If salvation is fundamentally not a matter of free will, nothing else matters, even if you have free will to do everything else. Muslims just take this notion to its logical conclusion.

          Curiously enough, the mainstream Sunni theological interpretation of predestination in Islam is actually more akin to what Arminians (and Catholics etc) believe – in other words, that God does not actively decide how things should be, but rather knows how they shall turn out, even though the actual choice any person faces at any given point is decided with the fullness of their free will to choose. If you want to get fancy, it is as if God himself exists outside of time, perceiving it as just another dimension, and so for him all events, whether past or present or future for us, are the same, and equally known.

          There are some Muslim sects that subscribe to complete or near-complete predestination, and there are some that subscribe to full free will to the extent that not even God can perceive the choice before it is made; the latter is particularly popular in liberal Sufism strains. But those are minorities.

          Note though that this is pretty deep theology. How your average Muslim interprets it is another matter entirely, and varies from culture to culture. Arabs in particular tend to interpret it as true predestination. It is nowhere near as popular elsewhere, though. Consequently, in other regions, you can often tell Salafi converts apart because they usually inherit this from their Arab teachers, and will use “insha’allah” very often in the sense that you’ve described. It drives other Muslims nuts equally as much 🙂

  8. Every once in a while there is a ttag article which makes all the mindless page refreshing worth it. Thank you for calling it like it is

  9. OIF ’04 here. All households were allowed one AK-47 (full auto) for self defense, and it was pretty much what DG said. But one of the reason’t it’s such a mess over there is Iraqis (and Afghans) aren’t Americans. I’ve seen estimates that less than 30% of Americans actually fought or otherwise resisted the British during the Revolutionary War. It doesn’t take everyone, just a determined few who are willing to do something.

    I wonder what is so unique about the American character, because DG is right, you don’t even see that attitude among Europeans. Look at what is going on with the “refugees” in Germany. They’re basically raping and pillaging and the locals are politely asking the government to please do something about that.

    • I am going to come right out and say it. All failed (or failing) societies are filled with Progressives. And what are the two primary failings/characteristics of Progressives? (1) They take no personal responsibility — they wait for or demand that someone else take care of their problems. (2) They worship at the alter of Almighty Government, their false god. Whether or not their Almighty Government takes on the form of an Islamic theocracy or just a good old fashioned secular group of the local ruling class doesn’t matter.

      When a people abdicate personal responsibility and look to their Almighty Government to be everything (including defining right-from-wrong and providing cradle-to-grave “care”), they will be milked until they are dry. When the People leave such a huge power vacuum, the most unsavory characters of society will fill that void.

    • For starters, “Iraqis” and “Afghanis” are both artificial groupings of people that don’t really have much in terms of shared culture and interests to hold them together. Sunni vs Shia, Uzbek vs Pashto vs Baloch, etc.

      USA is a nation-state, formed by a civil nation with certain well-defined principles that glue it together – this is what lets it be multiethnic, multireligious etc, within reason, and not fall apart. Afghanistan never had such a thing to begin with, and in Iraq Ba’ath tried to unify the country on the basis of secular Arab nationalism, but that project failed everywhere it was tried (and, in any case, excluded Kurds).

    • I read that about 1/3 of the American colonists supported independence, another 1/3 supported the British and 1/3 didn’t much care who won. The same source wrote that maybe 3% of the colonists actually fought for independence, thus the term “III%er’s”.

  10. inside every (pick your nationality) there is a little american desperate to break-out.

    heard that on television; it must be true.

    nation-building is the process by which all those trapped americans are set free !!

  11. I am amazed at how many of our soldiers do not like Aghans
    I see lots of military blogs that report crimes like rape, theft, ghost soldiers on the roster. drug use on duty, cooperation with and selling weapons to the enemy.
    Sergeant Martland, the green beret discharged from the Army for striking an Afghan commander who was raping a child on Joint Base Lewis Mcchord ,is only the latest to be disciplined for not allowing crimes under the guise of cultural sensitivity.
    The Afghan national government is a kleptocracy, and the self defense forces we armed and paid for are just local warlords oppressing the people.
    I am not even going to talk about our allies, the Pakistanis, who are in bed with the Haqqani network and the Taliban.
    Lets get out and let them kill each other.

  12. Freedom requires the balls to fight oppression and the brains to replace it with something better. It’s a real challenge to find cultures that have been able to do both of those things.

  13. Sounds like the problem isn’t having guns so much as the will and drive to use them.
    When the government doesn’t smile on self defense it doesn’t matter if its afghanistan or main street USA, you’ll find yourself in more trouble than its worth. Especially if you can get someone else to deal with the threat. …Which is what these people are accustomed to, and its not too different from us.

    If you read left wing sites you see that argument all the time.
    “They’d never use their guns to defend themselves”. “They are cowards”. “They would freeze up!”
    …Never a one asks if they would stand up for themselves. Everything boils down to calling a cop or a soldier, and in lack of that complaining about the choice a civilian made with their own weapon.
    There is no point where they put themselves into the picture or say what they would do.

    Which leads me to believe the average person, even in america, is no good when simply given a weapon.
    They aren’t willing to take responsibility for themselves or their own community, and without that none of this works.

  14. “Leave the high-minded idealistic BS to the Canadians or some other bunch of preening solipsists”

    The Canadians don’t do that sort of thing. They may be socialistic, but they are also practical.
    We need to learn that we can only help those who want to help themselves. When we try to do it for them, this is what happens.
    .

  15. We sat on the Japanese for 50yrs, imposed our form of democracy (whatever that is). Today, they are in the midst of reverting to their warrior heritage, probably will resurrect the Shogun culture. People who did not/do not have literally hundreds of years of classic liberalism (not the crap we see today) are not culturally transformed enough to take advantage. Interestingly, the early empires of Spain, Portugal and France did not result in the cultural advances that were passes from England to the US. The experience of the world is not liberty and freedom. Given all the classic western empires have receded into history, the same collapse into mediocrity awaits the US. Indeed, our time of “empire” may be shorter than many of our predecessors. It is ironic that freedom does not prosper, but old ideas of central, or religious, power seem to eventually overwhelm the free spirit of humankind.

  16. We sat on the Japanese for 50yrs, imposed our form of democracy (whatever that is). Today, they are in the midst of reverting to their warrior heritage, probably will resurrect the Shogun culture. People who did not/do not have literally hundreds of years of classic liberalism (not the crap we see today) are not culturally transformed enough to take advantage. Interestingly, the early empires of Spain, Portugal and France did not result in the cultural advances that were passed from England to the US. The experience of the world is not liberty and freedom. Given all the classic western empires have receded into history, the same collapse into mediocrity awaits the US. Indeed, our time of “empire” may be shorter than many of our predecessors. It is ironic that freedom does not prosper, but old ideas of central, or religious, power seem to eventually overwhelm the free spirit of humankind.

    Mao was absolutely correct, power flows not from the ideas of freedom, enlightenment or high principle. Power flows from the barrel of a gun.

    • Two countries are democratic precisely because we went to war against them and remained for 50 years to shepherd their democracies into stable nations who now are among our strongest allies.

      The fallacy of intervening in the Middle East is they are despotic third world nations barely worthy of our attention.

  17. “Leave the high-minded idealistic BS to the Canadians”

    Nope, we’re done. There’s only so much state-sponsored hippiedom that any nation can take.

  18. What’s with the Catholic bashing at the end? In case you haven’t heard, the catholics and protestants have 99% in common. I am around catholics the majority of my day, and don’t remember the last time I’ve heard a slur against any Christian. In fact I rarely hear anything bad from practicing Christians of any denomination. It always seems like it is the shopping cart Christians that bash catholics the most.

    Check your plank.

    • The Catholic Church in central and south American is a pervasive and insidious barrier to liberty as we would know it.

      Look to the current Pontiff’s recent writings and positions in the press for an example of what I speak.

      Going back into history, look at what happened after Luther’s call for reform in the Catholic Church. Rather than write a rather large dissertation on the topic here, I recommend people research the German Peasant’s Rebellion of 1524-1525. The people were revolting against more than just the corruption within the Catholic Church – they wanted liberty to conduct their affairs (economic, civil as well as religious) in a more autonomous and free manner. The Church stood squarely in the way. In fact, the Church was responsible for peddling the doctrine of submission to a king, and the Church stood solidly behind the slaughter of upwards of 100K peasants as a result of the uprising.

      Further, the Catholic Church fosters a mindset of submission to unaccountable authority – even to this day. One of the central tenets of Protestantism is the idea that there are no unaccountable men. They are just men, period, and they’re all the same: imperfect, fallible and subject to temptation and wrong. And if/when men who are leading a protestant church do wrong, they can be removed for so doing.

      The Catholic epistemology holds that the Pope and Cardinals are unaccountable to the laity. The opinions of the flock have no bearing on what the Church does in the hierarchy to promote certain men or hold others accountable. It is completely out of the reach of the laity. One of the central tenets of Protestantism is that no man is unaccountable – the idea of the presbytery is to elect men (and now women) to lead a church, and to remove those who the laity find unacceptable.

      Right there, we cut to the heart of the American idea: “a government of the people, by the people.”

      Another example: Washington was offered the position of king. Thanks to public scrools today, most young people don’t know how much we owe to the character of a few men at the foundation of this country, and chief among those men was Washington. After winning the Revolutionary War, Washington could have accepted the offer of being a king, potentate or “Grand Poobah.” Far too many people were ready to give Washington nearly the same level of executive authority that kings in Europe enjoyed – just without the whole “divine right” thing.

      To his credit, Washington not only refused such a title, he explicitly refused the offer of that kind of power, and moreover, he deliberately limited himself to only two terms in the presidency. You can see the protestant philosophy (and Masonic as well) shining through Washington’s statements refusing such levels of power offered freely to him.

      OK, for the flip side: Consider what happened in France, a thoroughly Catholic nation, after their revolution. You quickly end up with Napoleon – who was, after all, crowned by the Pope. All that bloodshed of the revolution, a dead king of divine right… just to end up right back where they started, only with a guy who showed even more epic military arrogance.

      Two revolutions, in the same period of history, with two very different results.

      • If you have a problem with the pope then take it up with him, and leave me out of it. There are plenty of anti gun priests in Christian churches of all denominations. My congregation has a shooting club.

        If you take issue with actions or theology of the Catholic church, that’s fine. I take issue with many things as well. I have just as many issues with the other christian faiths I have attended. Once you use those issues to dismiss a large portion of America though, well I call that bigotry.

        I do find it funny that the main arguments against catholicism are the same arguments I hear about America.

      • Dypseptic, I respect your arguments about firearms especially, but when you venture into condemnation of the Catholic Church it demands a response.
        1. The “divine right of kings” as you say started with Henry VIII. He stated his authority in the act of supremacy so that he could divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon who he had a daughter with. Seems like a funny way to start a church?
        2. The peasants revolt showed Luther’s hand. When things were looking south for him he turned to the only people that could bail him out, the princes of northern Germany. He satisfied his lust for power with theirs.
        3. Luther shows the arrogance of Protestants, the Church could (and should) have been straightened by his calling out of abuses, instead he used his bully pulpit to start a church based on his refusal to admit that he had gone to far.
        4. Do you realize that right now in the U.S.A there are 10,000 plus churches all stating they have the fullness of the truth? Do you realize that they all use the gospel that was determined by the Catholic church back in 100-300AD? Luther created a world where everyone believes they have the fullness of truth. There is no objective truth, only subjective truth, each person believes that their “feelings” matter more than logic. The modern world that American 2nd amendment defenders hate is born with Luther. We can never explain to someone they are wrong as long as they “feel” a certain way.
        5. Napoleon crowned himself. The pope was imprisoned multiple a number of times between 1800 and 1815,The Pope looked on as a tyrant crowned himself. (Not that maybe he should not have done more, there have been many popes who did not meet Peter’s level, still they did not turn against Church teachings even the Borgia popes that Luther hated with reason)
        6.The ideas of liberty started with Christ. The Greeks especially added to that along with the early Roman republic. What about the “enlightenment thinkers of Locke and Rousseau? To give the Presbyterian Scots all the credit is honestly silly.
        7. I still believe that you are the one of the straightest shooters in this forum. Please keep religion out of it.

        • >> Do you realize that right now in the U.S.A there are 10,000 plus churches all stating they have the fullness of the truth? Do you realize that they all use the gospel that was determined by the Catholic church back in 100-300AD? Luther created a world where everyone believes they have the fullness of truth. There is no objective truth, only subjective truth, each person believes that their “feelings” matter more than logic. The modern world that American 2nd amendment defenders hate is born with Luther. We can never explain to someone they are wrong as long as they “feel” a certain way.

          This makes no sense at all. For starters, even before the Protestant Reformation, there were also theological distinctions between Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and several different Oriental Orthodox churches. Distinctions sufficient for Orthodox to consider Catholics heretics for meddling with the dogma.

          As far as numerous churches today go, all of them also hold that their doctrine is objective truth. Yes, there are more of them claiming that, but I don’t see why it’s in any way worse than just one or two churches doing the same, especially when said claim is not necessarily correct. It’s better to have a hundred claimants, one of which is true, then to have a single claimant that is not true. Either way, it is not a part of objective vs subjective truth debate.

        • Two problems, first the differences with the Eastern Churches has to do with the primacy of Peter. All the mainline Orthodox churches and the Catholic Church recognize the validity of each others sacraments, where they differ is the authority of Peter. The Orthodox churches see the bishop of Rome as being equal to their patriarchs where as the Catholic Church bases its claim (rightfully IMO) on Peter being the first of the Apostles. Secondly, why I state objective vs subjective is that Luther claims that the individual can save himself through faith alone. No one else can interpret the bible, just you. There is no authority for you to turn to even though the authority was put there for a reason. Anyway that is why you have so many crazy beliefs out there in regards to the bible because many that read it don’t know the history, the context and meaning. This is why we have so many who take the bible completely literally instead of understanding that much of it is a metaphor for our own lives. Ever see the snake handlers? I am sorry but 10,000 guys claiming they have the fullness of truth sounds to me a lot like my feelings matter instead of the truth.
          The last acceptable hatred in this country is hatred for the Catholic Church, despite the fact that we have been proving our loyalty to the USA since the very beginning. We just recognize the Christ did not promise that the USA would stand against the gates of hell, but the One Holy and Apostolic church.

        • >> Two problems, first the differences with the Eastern Churches has to do with the primacy of Peter. All the mainline Orthodox churches and the Catholic Church recognize the validity of each others sacraments, where they differ is the authority

          The actual difference over which the Churches separated was over Filioque, which Orthodox considered a grave distortion of Nicene Creed. Papal primacy was the political reason for the Schism, but dogmatically Filioque was at the forefront of the controversy.

          Since then, Catholics have introduced a bunch of new doctrines that Orthodox do not accept and consider heretical. Things like purgatory, immaculate conception or papal infallibility, for example.

          >> Secondly, why I state objective vs subjective is that Luther claims that the individual can save himself through faith alone. No one else can interpret the bible, just you. There is no authority for you to turn to even though the authority was put there for a reason.

          As we have already determined, there are several authorities that claim to have been “put there for a reason”, and specifically claim to be the ones interpreting Bible (and Tradition) properly. Luther’s conclusion that every Christian should make up their own mind based on the teachings of Christ alone is a logical consequence of that.

          In any case, whether he’s right or wrong depends on whether any of the pre-existing authorities actually had a rightful claim to truthful interpretation. If they did, then what he did was schism that drew people away from the truth. But if they didn’t – as he claimed – then what he did is liberated people from the lies those authorities entrapped them in, and gave them a chance to find the actual truth. Only a chance, mind you, but it’s still better than no chance, and it ensured that such a trap would not be sprung on them ever again – if anyone would still be deceived by lies, it would be their responsibility and theirs alone, since Bible is there for the reading.

          Obviously, you, as a Catholic, believe Catholic doctrine to be the objective truth. I’m merely pointing out that your argument that Protestantism “confused” people only makes sense to others if they share that belief with you.

          Now personally I am an atheist, so I don’t particularly care. Still, to me, the Protestant notion of sola scriptura always made more sense. After all, what kind of God would create a book so vague and confusing that it requires a special authority to interpret it right? If He intended the authority to exist, He might as well entrust teaching of the doctrine to them and not bother with the Bible. Basically, either the Church is the authoritative source of divine revelation, or the Bible; you cannot really have both.

        • I disagree that the Filoque was the chief cause of the split between East and West. We are talking the 1000s here when the two major churches split. To discount the primacy of Peter (which is also tied into the Creed,) is problematic at best. That being said, if Sola Scriptura is correct that what is the point of having teachers what so ever? We accept teachers upon everything, from the bill of rights, to math to how to set up a TV. Why is the bible suddenly off limit on matters that are of foremost importance>? I (obviously) prefer the Catholic three legged stool of tradition, authority and scripture.
          So when did the Church suddenly lose it’s mandate on truth? Because Luther said it did? It seems dubious at best that after 1500 years the Church suddenly lost the truth. The Church did have serious issues of corruption during Luther’s era for sure, just like in the (recent) past we saw the serious problems of the late nineties. The humans that make up the Church are fallen and so their will always be problems while we are on this earth. But here is where the difference is, after calling out the problems Luther decided to go his own route and though that declaration he decided that his prerogative trumped everything that led to him. Sounds a bit like the generation from the 1960s in America.
          As for the difficulty in learning the Bible, I would argue that well yes actually reading the book of kings without understanding much of it as a metaphor for our lives is problematic at best and damaging at worst. Reading the Old testament without some grounding is why the far left secularist just lumps Christians in with Muslims, because of the war, violence and such. There is more to the bible than just cracking it open and reading it like a modern meme. Anyhow I guess we will never solve this on a gun blog, I just feel that DG went to far in is lumping of the Church with Muslims and others. There are millions of American Catholics who hate what is happening to this country and still believe that it might be possible to turn it around. His oversimplification of history begged a response, even if I have no time for it. (probably like to many of us.)

        • >> I disagree that the Filoque was the chief cause of the split between East and West. We are talking the 1000s here when the two major churches split.

          The split has been finalized then, but it was brewing for centuries before, and Filioque was at the root of it. You need only look at the correspondence between Constantinople and Rome in that time period to see. Look up Patriarch Photius.

          In any case, the formal anathemas both specifically mention Filioque as one of the dogmatic reasons.

          >> To discount the primacy of Peter (which is also tied into the Creed,) is problematic at best.

          Orthodox did not discount the primacy – they discounted the exact meaning of it. For them, it was basically just an honorable title, and did not translate to any sort of political power in the Church hierarchy. Given that there was no such thing in the early Church, I’d say they have the right idea.

          >> That being said, if Sola Scriptura is correct that what is the point of having teachers what so ever? We accept teachers upon everything, from the bill of rights, to math to how to set up a TV. Why is the bible suddenly off limit on matters that are of foremost importance

          There’s no problem with accepting teachers with sola scriptura. But, like with all those other things that you list, people do so of their own free will, and some do just fine without teachers; and none of those teachers claim that it is only through them that something can be known, especially when there are also textbooks on the subject. Teachers are there to help you understand the material if you’re having problems, but ultimately they help your mind to obtain understanding. They don’t just proclaim things.

          >> So when did the Church suddenly lose it’s mandate on truth? Because Luther said it did? It seems dubious at best that after 1500 years the Church suddenly lost the truth.

          Luther didn’t claim that, nor did he claim that such a loss was sudden. Protestants generally consider it to be a gradual process, and beginning with Christianity becoming a state religion in Rome and blending with secular power, and using that new position to suppress dissent and proselytize by force. By Luther’s time, then, it simply went so far as to become blatant.

          Note that Luther’s issues were not just with human fallibility and corruption. Well, initially it was, but he then had to ponder the question of how the Church could possibly become so pervasively corrupt if it was the Body of Christ, as it claimed. And from there he arrived at his conclusions on the matters of doctrine.

          >> As for the difficulty in learning the Bible, I would argue that well yes actually reading the book of kings without understanding much of it as a metaphor for our lives is problematic at best and damaging at worst. Reading the Old testament without some grounding is why the far left secularist just lumps Christians in with Muslims, because of the war, violence and such. There is more to the bible than just cracking it open and reading it like a modern meme.

          So you’re basically saying that Bible is rather imperfect…

          >> Anyhow I guess we will never solve this on a gun blog, I just feel that DG went to far in is lumping of the Church with Muslims and others.

          You should rather be up in arms about the fact that everyone was lumped together in that way, not that your Church was lumped together with “the others”. “The others” have just as radically different points of view and notions, including, yes, Muslims.

      • Well said and an excellent treatise on the systemic lack of accountability at many levels within the Catholic Church. Many will find it offensive. The truth often is.

    • First, a great article.

      The Catholic Church deserves that criticism and more. I would argue that there isn’t a single, intelligent thinking person on Earth that is a “good” Catholic. They don’t exist. I was a Catholic until I was old enough to think for myself outside the walls of fear that my parents and Church built to control me.

  19. DG is 100% spot on. Learned he the 1st Gulf skirmish that Kuwait’s the majority of Sunni’s packed up their families and headed to Saudi through the desert. The reason they didn’t fight for the kingdom was nothing was in it for them. No liberty or rights or rule of law that made them equal with a King.

  20. Interesting post DG. My son has been all over the middle east and relates similar attitudes( he now works for the gubmint and speaks Syrian Arabic).”All our problems are because of the Jews!” What a massive waste of blood and treasure. How do you live in the same place for hundreds( or thousands) of years and can’t dig a simple well? All over Africa,Asia and South America(it ain’t just muslim)…

    • There certainly are parts of Asia where the natives have figured out WASP bootstraps. African or the Mideast. No. never going to happen.

  21. I would say our concept of Liberty is a product of the Reformation as implemented in the England and the low countries. German Protestants weren’t exactly high on republican institutions until the inheritors of the English Reformation leveled their country and then rammed it down their throats. In the process we turned them into pussies.

  22. More people in the US should talk to our veterans about these big picture issues. It’s eye-opening. It will also make you want to beat the crap out of any politician or policy wonk who utters the term “nation-building” ever again.
    My cousin has two kids who are officers, one in the 82nd and one in the 3rd. Cousin’s kids have done multiple tours and state that the Muslims in the middle east think they are civilized because they have religion, but they are not really civilized at all.

    • +1

      I agree that culture is super important for liberty and society. I am much less sure that Islam is THE reason for the problems in Afghanistan. Any Muslims want to offer an opinion here?

  23. our liberties are the result of the mindset and philosophy of white protestant men of the 17th and 18th century, in particular coming out of the Scottish Enlightenment.
    Okay, but the Swiss, Vikings, Icelanders, Danes,Fries, and Anglo~Saxons were fairly ahead of their time.
    Actually, my daughter studied Norse cultures for academic bowl and you might be surprised at how advanced their cultures were regarding laws, government, rights, and other modern concepts. Iceland especially.

    • They were indeed, but… here’s the reason why their ideas had so little influence outside their immediate sphere: they didn’t write much of this down, and they didn’t establish a philosophical underpinning for this. It was just what their tribal cultures established as tribal norms. Enlightened? Absolutely, and especially so considering their contemporary neighbors. Advanced? Certainly.

      Influential outside their sphere? Well, no – because unless someone travelled to the Norse/Scandinavian countries and lived among them, there was scant way to learn of these ideas and the philosophy behind them.

      The pen isn’t mightier than the sword in a straight-up face-to-face duel, but it is mightier than the sword over time and distance.

      • Influential outside their sphere? Well, no – because unless someone travelled to the Norse/Scandinavian countries and lived among them, there was scant way to learn of these ideas and the philosophy behind them.
        The Norse Viking people most certainly distributed much of their ideas throughout much of Europe by both peaceful trade and settlement and sometime violent means and conquest. I would argue that the Norse were a larger impact on Scotland, Ireland, England, Iceland, Shetlands, Low Countries, Northern Germany, Baltic States, and even Ukraine more than most would ever dream.

      • They did – the result of that was called England.

        First of all, don’t forget that Angles themselves were a Germanic tribe, as were Saxons, and that Norse culture comes out from the common Germanic culture, with its concepts of “military democracy” and associated institutions such as assembly of the free people (ting).

        Then there were plenty of actual Norse kingdoms in Britain, usually formed by invading Vikings within the borders of existing kingdoms (as happened with Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia etc); and they had a very significant effect on the culture – have a look at this map, and note the area that is labelled “Danelaw” – that is where Norse legal system was in effect:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danelaw#/media/File:England_878.svg

        And here’s the map of the holdings of Viking king Cnut the Great 30 years before Norman invasion:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cnut_lands.svg

        And then, of course, the Normans. Who were called Normans for a reason – they were descendants of Viking raiders, settling Normandy only 2 centuries before invading Britain.

        So historical British culture actually has a very strong Norse component to it.

  24. The Catholic Church in central and south American is a pervasive and insidious barrier to liberty as we would know it.
    Look to the current Pontiff’s recent writings and positions in the press for an example of what I speak.
    Marxist Leninist Latin American Liberation Theology through and through.

  25. I think Japan and South Korea have done fairly well and are neither white nor Protestant

    And the Swiss predate on self rule I belive

    • I don’t know about you, but I do not admire the repression and depravity of Japan, Korea, or any other Asian nation.

    • The Japanese and Koreans don’t have our civil liberties. Not even close. And I’m not just talking about the issue of gun rights – I’m talking of other fundamental issues, such as the right to suffer search & seizure only under warrant, the right to representation by a lawyer if you’re arrested, voting rights, property rights, free speech rights… neither of these nations has anything like our rights. They pretend to have such rights, but when you do your homework, you see that they’re just going through the motions, without really understanding what these rights mean.

      At best, we could deem them “benevolent authoritarian” types of government. The same goes for several other highly successful PacRim countries – Singapore, etc.

  26. Gunsmith’s basic argument is that giving something to a person unwilling to fight for it or work for it will only result in failure. We see the same in US ghetto culture. Rather than obsess over the failures, we would have more success encouraging, rewarding and protecting those with the ambition to better themselves.

    Not all Muslims are apathetic. The exceptions fall into two categories. The ambitious ones get ahead, often as dictators. The others become terrorists intent on destroying anyone and anything that doesn’t conform to their beliefs.

    Kurdish culture is both ambitious and tolerant. Kurds are the only Muslims fighting ISIS effectively. We should be supporting them rather than wasting resources on losers in both Iraq and Syria. After Iraq fell apart following the US invasion, I made the observation that the Kurds were the only faction intent on building a country. The Sunnis were pissed because they had lost their position as top dogs and the Shia couldn’t make up their minds whether to build a country or be religious fanatics. Joe Biden’s one good idea was to partition Iraq into three autonomous regions — Kurd, Sunni and Shia.

  27. kill people and break stuff

    Is this a common phrase, or I have I just found a fan of “Schlock mercenary”?

    • Term long in existence. It succinctly states what armies (the entire military) are for. They are designed to destroy, not send messages to encourage a change in state behavior.

        • Any protecting of freedoms is purely external. We are left to our own devices to protect our freedom inside the country (and territories). The military are hired guns who pledge not to destroy the freedoms upon which the country was founded (“defend and uphold the Constitution.”. It is a pledge not to overthrow the people who hired the guns.

          The highest statement one can make about our military is that they stand to the wall to keep out our enemies so we can dilly dally around and vote ourselves into oblivion if we want. They will stand to the wall until there is no one left to serve.

        • >they stand to the wall to keep out our enemies so we can dilly dally around and vote ourselves into oblivion if we want

          I wish the US military only stood at the wall. Instead they’ve been on a worldwide mass murder tour, killing for the ruling class politicians.

        • Note I pointed-out they are hired guns. The fact they are misused is on us; we voted in the government(s) we wanted.

        • Well, people can stop volunteering to murder for politicians. That’d be a start.

        • A lawyer and their law books does not protect anyone’s freedom. The lawyer and their law books with a policeman with a gun standing behind the lawyer is what keeps the peace.

          A lawyer writes a penalty for breaking a law, the policeman with the gun not a lawyer will be sent to enforce the lawyer’s law.

          As far as soldiers with guns let the democrats stop sending them to invade Yemen, Lybia, Serbia, Syria or some other democrat favorite target of distraction.
          .

        • Heh, peace. Because that’s what the US military has been maintaining. Or the local police forces here with their drug war. Peace. Nice one.

      • Ah alright then….. Hmm we need to make a 70 maxims of gun control.

        1. stuff logical notions and play on emotions.
        2. Legislate then Read.
        3.Constitutional rights and priveleges should be harder to tell apart.

  28. Freedom is the exception. Authoritarianism is the rule.

    The establishment and flourishing of the United States has more to do with geography, natural resources, and world politics than religion, skin color, or philosophy. Even in America, we used heavy doses of the worst kind of authority to build the nation we live in today.

    The U.S. is exceptional in many ways, including fostering freedom, but there is a lot more in play than enlightenment philosophy and no Pope.

  29. It is simple.
    A free man who is armed is free.
    A slave who is armed is still a slave.

    A unarmed free man is free by the leave of others.

    • And why then, did the East-German revolution 26 years ago got a success? They were unarmed, had neither military nor other support and were up against a heavy armed state, who’s leader had recently congratulated the Chinese for their way of dealing with the protests in Bejing.

      • Several reasons:

        The Soviets were too weak to intervene plus with glasnost and perestroika going on they had no interest in maintaining their Eastern European empire. If their economy wasn’t terrible, country breaking apart, and Gorbachev wasn’t preaching more openess the Soviets would have intervened like in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. They already had their elite units there to do it if they cared.

        The East German government did not want to appear to the world as monsters mowing down revolutionaries with AK’s and tanks. On the flipside of that the ordinary rank-and-file East German knew that the end was near, that reunification was inevitable. Only the likes of a delusional Erich Honecker wanted to keep East Germany going.

        So if tl:dr, Soviets too weak, EG government did not want to show themselves to be bloodthirsty tyrants, and reunification was inevitable.

        • The change to non-intervention as a doctrine for Soviets actually came even before Perestroika and all that stuff. It was first voiced when Solidarność first came to prominence in Poland in 1980-81. When Jaruzelski came to power as a “strong hand” figure, he demanded that Soviets back him with military power, but they refused, believing it to be too costly in both material losses and propaganda value – even if Poland were to ultimately go the way that Czechoslovakia almost did in 1968.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_reaction_to_the_Polish_crisis_of_1980%E2%80%9381

  30. A very good article Dyspeptic Gunsmith.
    The American Constitutional Republic is unique in History. Being an American in the traditions of the original Republic is a unique mindset in the world. We are so immersed in our American ideas, attitudes and traditions from birth that we have trouble understanding that the rest of the world, including Europe, is not like us, and they, in turn, do not understand us. This disconnect has migrated into our internal social and political composition with corrosive results.

  31. Wow! Racial realism and cultural truth on TTAG. Many writers were formerly afraid to show the light of day to some of the truths expressed above, but, ” . . . times they are a changin’.”

  32. The Japanese seem to have managed a democracy of sorts, and South America is coming around. It does take some experience, work and institutions of a sort, you cannot just impose it, that is for sure.

    For a long while, it did seem like you needed at least something like the reformation to have a stable democracy, but perhaps it’s just having a few goes at it over 50 or a hundred years to get the habits in place.

  33. We take for granted the amount of personal freedom, prosperity and societal harmony that is almost unique to the rest of the world, that the progressives/statists are busily destroying.

  34. DG – Arming (Non American) Civilians Not Necessarily The Answer to the Loss of Liberty.
    Thank you for your insight and enlightenment on their culture. I could never understand why they wouldn’t stand up and fight and now I think I do. So very sad.

  35. WOW! I now know how Dr. Morbius felt after using the Krell learning device. I think this post has bumped my I.Q. up several points. And I ALWAYS consider it to be a good day when I can learn something new and useful. I wish to thank all who posted here as it gave me a LOT of views I had not considered before. GOOD STUFF!

  36. WOW. You have stated the problem with our foreign policy thinking over the past 15 years more clearly than any of the pundits on the idiot box. One of the many problems, which you hit on precisely, is this idea of “the universality of human nature”, this idea that surely everybody wants the rule of law and a pluralistic democracy, why wouldn’t they? I am a veteran of northern Iraq/Mosul and like the other guys you’ve talked to, I can conform that is BULLSHIT! They do not. We need to go back to a strong military, think about our own national interests in a clear, sharply defined way, and get the country back on the right track.

  37. Oh my god what the h*** have I just read?
    The author obviously doesn’t know squad about the traditions in Afghanistan or Iraq, German veterans say totally different things and as seen in the comments here even some American vets. Neither of Germany as seen in his comments.
    The Bauernaufstände after Luther translated the Bible into German and declared the rotten ways of the catholic church then, where clearly never on his agenda. He just wanted to expose the catholic church of his time for it’s failures. He stated more than once that he wouldn’t work with the rebels. Also Luther could only succeed in Germany, because he had the baking of a few kings and barons, against the catholic church and therefore the emperor. They only backed him up, because they wanted more power, that had nothing to do with the belief Luther represented. His strongest supporter the king of Saxony was still catholic, even after he helped Luther escape from Augsburg and hiding him at the Wartburg. Also Luther never wanted the church to split, he just wanted to reform the catholic church.
    The King of England only made his separation from the catholic church, because he wasn’t allowed to divorce his wife.
    A better example would have been Thomas Müntzer he was the people, but he was also idolized by the GDR so he wouldn’t fit in his theses.

  38. One thing I admire in some US citizens – their undonditional belief that they live in the best country in world and this is just because how splendid they are. The other thing I admire is history and geography of the world which tells me that wihout significant amount of water conveniently placed, reality can eat you quite easily with all your belief in your own wonderfulness…

    • If the water is in the wrong place, we move it. We are Americans because we do what needs doing. We roll up our sleeves and stick a shovel in.

      Every country in the world has the same options. A lot of them just seem to lack the ability.

      • Americans can move the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans? That’s impressive.

        No, not every country in the world has the same options. Not even close. US really lucked out with natural borders, and is one of the best-off countries in the world in combination of available natural resources (arable land, minerals, wood, oil etc).

        • given the example of the rest of the world, americans could have emulated them. we could have sat on our collective assets, refused to make an effort to improve, and leaned how to manage a society of 300milliion confined to the area between the atlantic and the Appalachians.

          but we didn’t.

        • You missed the point. I’m not saying that US didn’t do many things right. But it’s also wrong to say that it is in the position where it is solely, or even largely, because of that. Geography played a very large part in that too, especially when it came to the World Wars (which is when US truly got ahead of the rest of the Western pack).

        • to repeat myself (which i dearly love) canada, austrailia and mexico were blessed by being separated by expansive oceans from japan and germany. those three countries did not suffer destruction of their nation or culture. yet they have been backwaters on the international political and economic scene.

          point being that in those days and before, america was different, unique and special.

        • did someone move canada? austrailia? mexico?

          all three have large land mass, with plenty of oceanfront. unless somehow those three nations/countries woke-up and found they had only desert and rock, they too are blessed with luck of location. why are they not world leaders, powerhouse economies?

          to be blessed with a grand starting point does not automatically result in grand outcomes. the people who founded america were makers and doers. i agree their progeny are not a positive advertisement.

        • Australia is largely covered in deserts. That said, it is actually a very prosperous nation, in part because of its isolation.

          Canada is mostly frozen wasteland, with limited space for population growth along the US border. But, again, it is actually surprisingly well-off all things considered, and for the same reasons (it has one better because it has literally no borders with any countries other than US, so the only thing they need to do to stay safe is to make sure that Americans like or at least don’t hate them).

          Mexico is a better example of how you can take a well located country and screw it up. But all it shows you is that having a good starting position is not a guarantee of success. It doesn’t mean that it’s not easier to succeed, though.

          Nobody is arguing that a good start automatically translates to good results. It just makes them that much easier to achieve.

        • starting place is nothing if you do nothing with it.

          taiwan comes to mind. the nationalist chinese were run out of mainland china, and took over a backward, poor island and made it something to behold. the nationalists made an extraordinary effort from a poor starting point.

          isreal is largely desert and is the most vibrant nation in the middle east.

          one a nation organizes, it is the effort expended that determines the outcome (england pretty much conquered the world from a small island.

        • You are arguing a ridiculous point here, I hope you do understand that. What you’re saying is that the same guy will do just as well given $100 as he would given a million. That’s not how real world works, and it’s so blatantly obvious that I don’t understand why this is even a discussion.

          Yes, you can do well starting from scratch. Israel is a great example of that. But, once again, the starting conditions do define how easy it is to do well. In terms of starting conditions, US did have it easy, there’s no denying that. It made good use of them, too, but that’s another matter.

          I would also recommend reading “Guns, Germs and Steel” for a very deep dive on how geography and climate can determine a great deal of politics.

        • oh indeed. read geographic economics at university. understand the dynamics, but looking at mexico and south america at large, starting point did them no good. point is, starting point is not the indicator of success or failure; it is what you do with it, period. people are the dynamic of economics. people make an economy work or not work. location can do nothing about that.
          .
          the point of all this is to underscore that it was/is not location alone that made america what it was. location alone did not make america great. it was her people taking advantage of the blessings handed to them, rather than waiting for miracles to happen.

        • Once again. I never said that location is the sole reason of American success. I was replying to a comment that said, “every country in the world has the same options”, and was specifically addressing that blatantly incorrect claim.

          Is US successful because it was more economically and socially advanced than other countries, and consistently maintained that lead for a very long time? Yes, absolutely.

          Is US successful because it has a very advantageous geographic location in terms of climate, border security and natural resources, in that particular timeframe? Also definitely yes.

        • nations are artificial divisions of people. it is fair to say every “nation” has the same opportunity/opportunities, because people are people. they can make something of what they have or choose not to. there is nothing in the universe that dictates opportunity results in equal outcomes. the base measure of societal success seems to be the wealth of a nation. the disparities of outcomes around the world is largely a product of politics and the selfish nature of mankind. if you look closely, every nation that is “poor” is “poor” because of the acts (or inaction) of people. the planet is abundant in resources. there is really no rational reason for people to be starving or dying of preventable disease. in the end, the entire world system is the way it is because of human decision, not unfortunate real estate.

        • Nation is people, but nation-states are people plus land. And I dare you to name one nation that was successful without having a state.

          The planet is abundant in resources, but they are by no means concentrated equally. Just look at oil for an example that is of particular relevance today.

          And I will once again refer you to GG&S for a very in-depth discussion on how seemingly trivial things such as weather patterns within temperate zones can make a world of difference in terms of jumpstarting development.

        • nothing in life is apportioned equally. why should it be? land, topography, weather, water, name the element….it is not what is, but what people do about it that makes a difference in outcomes (notwithstanding that with current technology, we cannot force the desert to be cooler). disparities are challenges. is there any requirement for a people to remain living in an inhospitable enviroment? no; there is choice. people look around at their environment and make decisions as to what to do about it. make bad decisions, and you have bad outcomes; make good decisions, and you improve the likelihood of good outcomes. england remains an example. they have no real storehouse of natural resources, but the peoples (there are more than one) of england took what they had and conquered the world. after ww2, those peoples decided that rather than rebuild wealth and empire, it was time for the people who had sacrificed so much to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie, rather than create a bigger pie. england decided to not overcome their condition, but to succumb; their choice, and they cannot morally claim they were/are treated unfairly.

          we agree that location can be a real benefit for prospering a people, tribe, nation. some peoples have a worse starting place than others, outcomes will be different even for industrious people. but….there is no requirement for a people (or individual people) to remain in their starting place. not a nice place, move. need funds in order to purchase a move, generate wealth. can’t generate wealth where you are, sell everything, disconnect from wherever and whomever and find a way to start over in a better location (oh, i think i just described the great immigration pattern of the early 20th century). but today, we see so many people who either demand that they be prospered, where they are, by someone else. and we also see people who do not prosper at their starting point, immigrate to a better location, then insist on retaining those cultural elements that made their prior location a failure.

          conditions are what they are, people either overcome or they don’t. chile is a long skinny country, with a long, skinny shoreline. interestingly, the peoples of chile did not and are not a sea-faring nation. england, with a smaller shoreline (most of it not suitable for active seaports) conquered the world using ships. chile has more potential capability to be a great sea power, but they arent. england is a miserable place with very little potential. how do we explain the different outcomes?

        • England is actually a poor example of your point. They also had the huge benefit of being an island, so once we got to the era of large states (after the end of Middle Ages), they were relatively isolated from the devastation of European wars due to relative ease of repelling foreign invasions, once they have unified their islands.

          Resource-wise they are also not bad off for the Industrial Age, having large supplies of coal, metals and wood. I think it’s not a coincidence that they have peaked in their power 1) only after internal unification (which allowed the island defense doctrine to be fully realized), and 2) in the age where industrial development was driven largely by coal and steel.

          As far as comparing Chile to England, I think it kinda ignores the history of both. England has spent several centuries building up its industrial capacity before it could command large fleets. Chile, in comparison, was a largely agrarian and mining colony of its metropoly for a very long time since Europeans first landed there, and only got its independence in 1820s – and then got mired in wars with most of its neighbors for the rest of 19th century (which goes to show the importance of easily defendable natural bordes).

          I would even go so far as to say that constant wars over borders is one of the main causes of why South America is not as well off as you’d expect compared to US, seeing how it’s a similarly large landmass with favorable climate and good resources. If you read the history of South America, it’s all wars wars wars, over egregiously stupid reasons, and with extreme determination resulting in unusually large casualties (Paraguay is a particularly good example of that). And because the balance of power was not very tilted (like it was between e.g. US and Mexico), a winner of one war could easily be a loser in the next one, and either way both winners and losers suffered heavy setbacks. So in a sense, US is to South America kinda like England is to continental Europe.

        • Tthe people of Chile did not make the cultural/mental transition from subsistence to exploration, to economic growth. i see it as a prime example of people determining their destiny through decisions, rather than environment. england had fewer natural resources than the american colonies (in their beginning), but with little but determination, the english thrived in just about every domain. again, decisions.

          it may not be intentional, but it appears there is a thread of “permanent victimization” in your observations: people are hostage to their location/condition/environment, with no hope of breaking free. which all sounds like “social justice” 101. our back and forth has been a great mental exercise (and i learned something), but i cannot let go the idea that people shape their circumstances (moving, improving, improvising, overcoming, etc.). initiative allows a people to overcome their limits, lack of initiative allows a people to become comfortable in their habits (and blame others/location/the system/ for their plight.

        • By “people of Chile”, do you mean the Spanish colonists, or the local Indians?

          Yes, I do believe that initial conditions strongly affect the outcome. All nature works that way, as seen in any scientific experiment, and I don’t see why it does not apply to human societies. Obviously, the societies themselves are also a part of the initial conditions, and so I don’t believe in pure geographic (or any other) kind determinism (but you also have to ask yourself why societies become different in the first place!). I also don’t consider this “victimization” – it is merely the acknowledgement of obvious causal relationships. It doesn’t mean that if you are worse off, you should give up and not try to make the best of the situation.

        • Spanish occupation of Chile distorted that environment, but interestingly Spain did not exploit the coast either. Curious for a great sea power. Spain apparently used ports in Chile to move riches and goods to Spain, but not as a forward jumping-off point for further exploration, or to establish robust trade throughout the Pacific lands.

          Perhaps you have also questioned why all of South America is in squalor, given the abundance of resources. Had someone from Colombia explain it once, then observed it directly in one of my jobs. The reason is because Spain introduced and maintained the culture of “el Patron”. In that life-style, the lord of the manor was the source of all, and also accepted the responsibility of complete care for the Peon. The lords had no interest in, or reason to support the idea of a vibrant economy, of a mobile middle-class. All society was fastened on the idea of getting and conserving personal power. As with slavery, someone had to provide all the wealth for/of the Patron. A middle class would be a constant threat, striving to move up and either take over the wealth of the Patron, or present a vigorous competition. It is why you see Spaniards (or direct descendants) in positions of power and politics, rather than the mestizo. Take a look at Univision…see any evidence of intermingling with the original peoples?

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