Is Welfare “Defense” Spending?

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Man Who Would Be Caesar™ (except, by legal chicanery rather than by conquest), is apparently outwaged that the coarse Americans (who are so backward that they have had only one republic in the last couple of centuries) and les sales rosbifs (that’s Brits, for all y’all that don’t parlez Continental), think that the Continent ought to spend a whopping 2% of GDP on defense.

He thinks that money spent on social-welfare handouts to the kleptocracies south of the Med and East of Suez ought to count, too.

Reuters reports that Jean-Claude Drunker, former PM of Luxembourg (defense spending approx 0/year) and current EU Commission President, is upset at Gen Mattis’ pointing out of the paucity of European defense spending:

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Europe must not cave in to U.S demands to raise military spending, arguing that development and humanitarian aid could also count as security.

“I don’t like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military,” he said, arguing it would be sensible to look at a “modern stability policy” made up of several components.

“If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending,” he said.

Right if you compare spending on apples, oranges and pineapples in the EU with spending on apples in the USA you discover that the EU spends more. Oddly enough it seems unclear how spending on “development aid, plus humanitarian aid” helps deter or stop determined invaders. Indeed a cynic might suggest it just serves as a hint that “there’s rich people to mooch off there” to the hordes of migrants now entering Europe.

That’s actually just an update to an interesting post on the mechanics and disputed terms of EU vs. Brexit called You and whose army? at the blog L’Ombre de l’Olivier, and you ought to Read The Whole Thing™. But we’re not engaging with Olivier’s main point in the post, but rather his belittling of the idea that “development aid and humanitarian aid” are meaningful means of power projection.

He is, in fact, right on.

Non-military aid is only of use in power projection when it is used that way. Now, everyone who thinks that the EU either as an institution, or as individual nation-states (an unclean concept, in Juncker’s post-Christian faith without faith), actually uses it that way, is invited to step this way to see the famous Egress. The idea is, you give the wogs stuff, they like the stuff, they like you, and you are more likely to get what you want from them, and be able to jaw them out of all their primordial hatreds for the tribe next door (or that used to be next door beyond the round-up). Not to mention their primordial hatred for you.

Primordial hatreds, by the way, exist everywhere and between everybody, just waiting for the right demagogue to drum them up. The Serbs had quite forgotten how horrible all the other southern Slavs were until Slobodan Milosevič went on the stump at Kosovo Polje in 1989. Three years later they were ineptly implementing a kind of Children’s Crusade version of the Endlösung.  

One problem with use of humanitarian aid for security purposes is this: those that you aid are probably not the ones that threaten you. The Northern Hemisphere in general has spent untold trillions in the sinkhole that is Haiti. Yet Haiti is no threat to anyone; the Haitian government has, since its formation in 1805, harmed no one except the former French colonists, and practically all Haitians. As a government, it’s incapable of organizing a beer run, let alone an invasion. It’s rather amazing that they were able to massacre the French plantation owners, but perhaps every nation has one shining hour when they rise above their native ability and do something decisive, and that was theirs. Haitian émigrés in the USA prove no more capable than they were at home; most wind up as wards of the state, either on welfare or in jail.

There is probably no nation that has a greater reputation for aid and humanitarian generosity than Canada. It may be a case of a very high level of aid and low level of defense spending. Canada, of course, faces relatively few concrete military problems, apart from the ones its alliances get it into. (For which, we note, the Canadian Forces always show up with their game face on). But the big, catastrophic defense cases? That’s why Ottawa has alliances. Getting along with everybody is nice; having the US and UK as big brothers acts as a social lubricant.

But there is a constant temptation to redefine defense, either as Juncker has done to include unrelated activities, or to include the cause du jour and to pack the DOD budget (or its equivalents overseas) with unrelated expenses.

One US-ian example of this has been insistence on the sophomoric idea that global warming, or, climate change, is a military or defense problem. Hey, then all the warmists and “Results First, Experiment Later” Red Queens of science, like the Jerry Sandusky of Climate Science® himself, can tap into that sweet DOD cash… and units on the deployment docket don’t know why their ammo budget evaporated and they’re saying “bang, bang” like kids playing Army, during predeployment training.

Hey, global warming evaporated your ammo. Is there nothing it can’t do?

We see the military used for things it’s good at, and things it’s not. It’s great at disaster response, even though that’s not its job. Why? Well, it’s good at traveling, setting up, and organizing. Every unit has a staff that is a perfect building block set for organizing anything — you have your functional Legos: S-1, -2, -3, -4, are the basics: personnel, information, operations, logistics. (One of the open secrets of Special Forces’ adaptability is that every member of every team is trained on and has experience in being, essentially, a staff action officer for any one of those functions. Give a team a mission and in ten minutes there is a staff established to plan and organize it).

The problems with defining humanitarian stuff as military stuff go deeper than the hollowing-out of budgets, at which the European continental powers excel and for which they need no excuse. The French armed forces today, for example, are about 5% the size in personnel of the force that defeated the Germans in 1940… oh, wait. It’s actually about 2/3 of the size of the small force that resisted (in France’s sole success) Italian invasion along the côte d’azur. And it’s about half the size of the army of twenty years ago. And France’s is by far the most powerful defense establishment of the post-Brexit EU nations. The forces are professional, but they’re expeditionary, and unable to actually defend France, should it ever come to that.

Jean-Claude Juncker doesn’t mind being emperor of an empire armed like that, because he’s still in the grip of the idea that history has ended in Europe, and the continent will nevermore host a battlefield.

He believed that before the collapse of Yugoslavia, too.

26 thoughts on “Is Welfare “Defense” Spending?

  1. Docduracoat

    I would like to respectfully disagree about Haitian people
    Here in south Florida we have lots of them
    I have worked with many Haitian doctors, nurses, patients and janitors
    I have found them to be hard working, honest and religious
    There must be Haitian criminals as in any ethnic group, but I have been pleased working with Haitian people

  2. Hayabusa

    [T]he Jerry Sandusky of Climate Science®…

    Cuidado, amigo. I hear he likes to sue people. He’s probably suing you right now.

  3. Desertrat

    The Junckers of this world seem happy to pay Dane Geld. Slow learners and ignorant of history.

    My own opinion is that we should have pulled the plug on NATO in 1991. Its need was ended with the demise of the USSR. Unfortunately, the war-toy boyz love the Wolfowitz Doctrine, to the detriment of damned near everything.

    “Humanitarian” use of our military seems more a PR matter than is justified by reality. But that’s just my opinion…

    Haiti? Henry Christophe had his brief moment in the sun, but governmental competence has been all downhill since then. As for the Caribbean in general, the appendices of Michener’s “Caribbean” are helpful.

  4. Kirk

    “Primordial hatreds, by the way, exist everywhere and between everybody, just waiting for the right demagogue to drum them up. The Serbs had quite forgotten how horrible all the other southern Slavs were until Slobodan Milosevič went on the stump at Kosovo Polje in 1989. Three years later they were ineptly implementing a kind of Children’s Crusade version of the Endlösung.”

    Uhmmm… No. Just… No.

    The Serbs never forgot, ever. Forgetting isn’t a Serbian “thing”–They put the grievances they had with everyone on the back burner so long as Tito was there to enforce peace and comity between ethnicities, but the minute he wasn’t around…? That shit went straight out the window.

    And, to a degree, the Serbs were right to do the defenestration. Without Tito around to enforce the even-handed repression of the various ethnic groups in the melange that was the former Yugoslavia, the whole thing was inevitably going to come crashing down. And, the track record for such things coming crashing down around Serbian ears is pretty good, so the case can be made for saying that the events in Bosnia/Kosovo were preemptive in nature, and justified from a Serbo-historical point of view.

    Which ain’t saying that they were right, in the grand scheme of things moral, only that they thought they were. Serbians are a lot like Russians, in that their little cultural tics of paranoia and chauvinism have a lot of historical “because reasons” when you go looking at it all.

    Americans have not one fucking clue about the nature of Balkan life, period. We think “Oh, things have been going swimmingly for a generation, or two… Everything is fixed.” That’s been our experience, with things like Bloody Kansas and with the Hatfields and McCoy feuds. However, that ain’t the way things work, in the Balkans. You live in a region like that, which has been somewhat prone to internecine conflict since the time Rome ran the place, and you learn to pay attention to things outsiders might look at and consider innocuous.

    Alia Izetbegovic, for example: In the Seventies, he was out there under Tito, talking about a return to Islamic roots, a revival of the Islamic faith in Bosnia. Tito crushed his balls then, but once Tito was gone, he started up with that same shit, yet again. Now, to most Americans observing that, we said “Oh, cool… Here’s a dude wanting to bring back that old-time religion, and that means he must be anti-Communist… Good man…”.

    To a Serb? LOL… Oh, my. Are you in for a fucking shock, as to how that goes over with them.

    See, when Izetbegovic starts talking about bringing back old-time Islam in the Balkans, what that tells all the backwoods Serbs in Bosnia is that he wants to bring back the times when the townies, who converted to Islam in order to make it big with the occupying Turks, ran everything. And, that means they ran the banks, the taxes, the markets, and all the things an occupying force needed to control the countryside. It included a lot of really ugly things, like tax-farming, and the townies who were once co-religionists with the rural Serbs, coming out and foreclosing on the rural peasants for non-payment of taxes and loans, which often meant “Sell the kids in Istanbul…” in effect, in order to pay those debts. You do not want to go digging into the histories of these things, without a really strong stomach and an ability to separate yourself from a desire to murder all Moslems, either. Just take a look at where most of the Janissary corps came from, and how many girls from the Balkans wound up as sex slaves in the various Turkish harems, and leave it at that. The bare outlines of what went on in the countryside can be easily ascertained, by looking at the prices such slaves got in Istanbul and other Turkish slave markets. This shit was and is not easily forgotten, either.

    The idea of Bosnian Muslims regaining their primacy in the region is one that literally triggers the Serbs, and for good historically valid reasons–The Muslim track record in terms of treating their neighbors decently is virtually non-existent, and every time they’ve been on top of things in the region, their neighbors have seen their kids moved south as slaves… And, worse.

    Same-same with things like Rwanda. Americans see the current problems there and frame it as “Hutus killing Tutsis, Hutus bad…”. What isn’t seen, known, or even acknowledged by even Americans who should know better, like the ones in our State Department, is that there is significant back-history with the region, where the Tutsis were the clients of the Belgians and French, and complicit with the colonial regime that was perceived to have been abusing the Hutus…

    Long story short, the conventional wisdom on a lot of these overseas affairs is generally the precise opposite of true wisdom. I’m not sure what the right answer for either of these conflicts I highlight here actually was/is, and I kind of even doubt that there was/is a “right” one in the first place. However, I will submit that the interventions we performed and proposed did little to no real good, and may indeed have actually done more harm than not, in the long run.

      1. Kirk

        Oh, don’t get me wrong: I like the Serbs. And, the Croats. And, the Slovenes… Bosnian Muslims, not so much, but some of them are OK people, too.

        The problem with the former Yugoslavia, as one of my Slovene friends once put it, is that they manufacture far too much history for local consumption, and the overage results in some sad side effects.

        A lot of our problems dealing with that region result from utter, willful ignorance of the history of the region. Our State Department and politicians are a bunch of complete morons when it comes to trying to understand the entire region, and as I point out, they tend to believe that the last seventy years of history trump the preceding 700. In the US, perhaps–You can’t find too many places where they still hold the Deerfield Massacre against the descendants of the responsible Indian tribes, but if it were the former Yugoslavia…? Yeah. The victims would be named every Sunday to the kiddies, and their descendent neighbors would be pointed out as people to watch out for, and on whom to “do unto, before they do unto us, again…”.

        Inimical over-production of history. That’s the Balkans for ya…

        1. Mike_C

          >”A lot of our problems dealing with that region result from utter, willful ignorance of the history of the region. ”

          Agree, but I’d amend that to “A lot of our problems dealing with that region result from utter, willful ignorance of the history of the region” and apply it globally.

          I’m not sure the average American (much less a State political appointee or a politician) can even understand how much of the rest of the world thinks. Do we in the US seriously have an enemy or oppressor that we hate or fear? Apart from the tautologically evil Christian cis-het white male, I can’t think of one. Case in point: After hours at work I was chatting with Pretty Korean Girl and the Kidney Doc when the latter raised the issue of Korean-Japanese relations for some reason. PKG frowned, well, prettily, and said “we don’t really like each other” and tried to leave it at that. KD kept pushing with “Why” and “Wasn’t that a long time ago?” PKG was looking increasingly uncomfortable until I said (IMO remarkably calmly), “Nanking. Unit 731. ‘Comfort’ Women. And it goes on from there. Do you know what I’m referring to? [not really; I had to explain] The first two are just some of the highlights regarding just China. The Koreans have their own list. As do the people of almost every country in east and southeast Asia. That’s a reason why alliances that include Japan are problematic in Asia.” Then PKG chimed in with atrocities inflicted on the Koreans, getting flushed in the process.
          “Woa! You two are getting angry just talking about this!” says Kidney Doc in surprise.
          “Yeah, betcher ass we’re angry,” says I, oddly disappointed by his surprise.
          I imagine the Balkans is that, on afterburner, steroids, and squared. To make it worse, I had a Serb friend who told me he and his wife left because it wasn’t possible to not take sides. “I don’t like the Bosniaks, not particularly, but I don’t want to kill them either. That made me a traitor to some people, so it wasn’t safe for us to stay. Do you think I want to be a tech in the States? Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be here, but back home I am a doctor.”

          I’d say “the more reasonable ones leave, concentrating the hatred among what remains” but maybe that’s not true. Scandinavian acquaintances uniformly tell me that “Oh, there is no immigrant problem” and “We have so much, they have so little. Of course we have to let them in” seemingly by rote. The women that have become friends, however, all have at least one story about being harassed or outright stalked in their home country by Bosnian Muslim “refugee” men.

          1. Kirk

            Yeah, I’d say you’ve got that right with the idea that by allowing the sane ones an escape, we’re actually concentrating the madness. Same-same with regards to the issues in Central America–Those people we’re skimming off the top? If they weren’t coming here, they’d be at home, fixing things in their own countries.

            Or, not.

            In any event, the ineptitude our State Department has shown for managing all this crap is truly mind-boggling. I recall a conversation I had with a bright light coming out of Foggy Bottom, a woman who was participating in a major Corps-level CPX as a player. She didn’t even have a clue what the f**k the basic ethnic groupings were over there, or why on earth they were so polarized. This was a young woman in her early thirties, with about a five-year career with the State Department, at that point. I really started to doubt a lot of what the Clinton administration was doing, over there, about then. She wasn’t a policy-maker, but she damn sure fed information into the ones who were. Ran into another guy who’d been on the ground over there, for that era, but about ten years later. He was still fucking clueless, and I had to explain to him what the roots were for all the Serbian intransigence. The look of “Oh, yeah… Now I see it…” on his face was priceless.

            What irks the ever-loving expletive out of me is this: I was a mid-level combat arms NCO at the time, and I had a better grasp on the ins and outs of all that crap, while also being better read than these State Department types. How in the blue blazing fuck is that possible? Seriously–Basic works on the region were news to this guy, like that one by that English writer, Rebecca West. I pointed that book out as a good primer for a lot of this stuff, and this guy had never heard of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon at all. Might also mention that he didn’t speak a lick of Serbo-Croatian, either. Worked for five years at the embassy in Belgrade… No wonder we’re fucked.

            Of course, when you go looking at who is teaching at Georgetown, and what they are teaching about things like Islamic slavery, maybe we’re actually lucky in the people we have working for the State Department. That ignoramus professor Hognose highlighted the other day is a perfect example of how and why our execution of foreign policy is so thoroughly ‘effed-up.

          2. Kirk

            The self-declared intelligentsia who work their way into the corridors of power in DC often have a bad habit of looking at the latest academic wonkery as being the final Revealed Truth (TM), and don’t bother to pay attention to whatever reality actually is, out on the ground.

            I grew up around a bunch of Yugoslav expats, and sucked up the cultural mindset from them. I’ve got a pretty solid grasp on how they all thought/think, and I’ll say this much: I’d never dare to try to extrapolate from that to policy, nor would I take anything I’ve read on the issues over there at face value, particularly when it’s sourced by some dipshit who has never lived among the people over there. I know what I don’t know, and that’s about it–About all I can reliably do is pick up on when someone doesn’t know shit about what’s really going on, and when I try to think about solving the problems of that region, my head just hurts.

            The Serbs have a persecution complex that is probably even worse than the Russians; what’s worse? They come by it honestly, and at the hands of the Turks and the local Moslem turncoats who were once their co-ethnics. You can’t grasp the realities over there, until you’ve sat down and gotten completely drunk with a group of them, and hear the grievances come out from underneath the woodwork. The general amity between the ethnic groups, which really aren’t ethnic, but religious/economic/cultural groupings instead… Well, all that “Hail, fellow Yugoslav, and well met!!” bullshit was just that. The Bosnian Muslims were the city folk who turned coat and went Islamic under the Turks, serving as administrators, merchants, and bankers for them. Which status they used to screw over their rustic kin out in the countryside, the unsophisticated sort who stood by their Orthodox church and resisted the Turks. Add in the fact that the Turks levied the townies for slaves and Janissary troop fodder, and that the townies naturally turned to selling south their rural cousins instead of their own kids…? Oh, yeah… That’s a recipe for success, putting those people cheek-by-jowl, and expecting them to forgive and forget–Especially when the oh-so-clever-and-sophisticated types like Alia Izetbegovic start talking about an Islamic resurgence. He might, to give him the benefit of the doubt, have been meaning what the Serbs took from his words, but if that was the case, he’s one of the biggest damn fools in recent memory. I can remember hearing about that dumbass from Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes back in the late 1970s, before he ever got on the scope internationally, and the amount of disturbance he was causing in them made it really clear to me that someone was playing with fire over there, and it probably wasn’t going to end well. Milosevic would never have gotten traction, were it not for the ground having been prepared for him by idiots like Izetbegovic–Who, I suspect, was acting with malice aforethought.

            Yugoslavia was weird country, and the way it was cobbled together damn near guaranteed it was going to blow up once the repression was lifted. I think you would have needed about five-ten generations of a Tito-like dynasty to pull off a real change to the culture over there, and even that might not have been enough. You really don’t get a feel for the situation with the different groups until you’ve been around them at a really organic level, and do some careful, thinking observation. And, then about all you’re going to get out of things as an outsider is a profound feeling of “These people are, a.) crazy, b.) violent, and c.) the sort I don’t want to be messing around with. Period.”. They retain those characteristics even unto the third generation, a lot of the time, here in the US. That’s how deep this crap is engrained–It’s damn near genetically programmed, I think.

            And, the idiots we put in control of diplomacy in DC have not one fucking clue. They’ve never spent a weekend listening to a bunch of working-class types discussing thing over copious beers, getting to know the real culture. Instead, they listen to their fellow posturing intellectuals, like Slavoj Zizek, and think they’re getting the “real Yugoslavia”. Reality is? Guys like Zizek have about as much connection with the average man on the street as our patriciate has with Joe Average here in the US. So, what you get is the international Boni class talking to each other, and thinking they have a clue about how things will work out–Which they manifestly do not.

          3. William O. B'Livion

            > Do we in the US seriously have an enemy or oppressor that we hate or fear?

            IRS.

  5. AlanH

    Jean-Claude Juncker is no fool. As finance minister for Luxembourg years ago he set up the laws which allowed his nation to become, for some areas of finance such as mutual funds, a new Switzerland, with both secrecy and protection of domestic operators. And, one might ask, what has France or Germany done about the Luxembourg leech? Nothing much. J-C is famous for saying “When things become difficult you have to lie.” Nice.

    Especially for Luxembourg and aid to African nations or the middle east are likely to come back, in part, to the Luxembourg financial industry.

    I have a solution to the conflict: We can agree with Juncker, with the “foreign and humanitarian aid” clause…and redirect the funds we spend on military readiness in Europe instead to foreign influence-buying aid to South American and the Middle East. Simple. Beneficial to us.

  6. John M.

    “Reuters reports that Jean-Claude Drunker”

    I note that “Drunker” is in the original, and deserves a [sic] in your quote.

    -John M.

  7. John M.

    As for welfare spending as defense, both at home and abroad, I think that results should be part of the calculus here. And given that Europe has used welfare spending to lure an invading army into its very cities, I think the results have become clear and are currently graded “F.”

    “The forces are professional, but they’re expeditionary, and unable to actually defend France, should it ever come to that.”

    Wait, the French military can’t actually defend France? Is that hyperbole, or do they not actually have the plans/abilities to defend their own country if it came to that? Wouldn’t “a plan for defending the country against various plausible comers” be part of what French taxpayers would expect for their (meager) military budget?

    -John M.

  8. Bill Robbins

    I agree with the guy above who says that NATO should have been disbanded in 1991. All that NATO has done since the fall of the Soviet Union is to perpetuate a half-century or more of dependencies and outdated alliances. The U.S. needs to cut-away the tow lines and let Europe drift away.

    1. Kirk

      NATO isn’t quite done destroying Europe, yet. So, it’s not quite time for it to go–There’s still the former Warsaw Pact countries that joined up after the Wall came down to do in, yet.

      And, I say that only facetiously–The fact that the US created NATO and supported it for so long basically came down to a determination to prevent the Europeans from dragging us into yet another one of their internecine squabbles like WWI and WWII. As well, it served to keep them from building up their militaries to the point where they could pull off shit like Suez outside their geographical area. With the enervating effect of socialism that NATO enabled, the Europeans are well on their way to effective extinction–Something they missed entirely when they reached for the poisoned chalice we proffered them at the end of WWII.

      Whether the world will be a better place, with them all gone…? Good question, but the fact is, that’s been the effective result of NATO. Might have happened without NATO, but we’ll never know. The Islamic polity that looks to replace most of the European ethnics will be a different kettle of fish, and the US will likely skim the cream off the top of the ethnic Europeans yet again, in the form of refugees from the Islamic takeover. Well, us and Israel… Remains to be seen how all this works out, however. The Euros may still pull it out of the crapper, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Mutti Merkel will have to go, and a more dynamic, chauvinistic German leader will need to take the helm of Germany, which remains a key power block.

      Hard to say where the whole thing ends, though…

      1. John M.

        “Hard to say where the whole thing ends, though…”

        Boy, howdy. I’ll meet you back here in 20 years to talk counterfactuals, though, deal? :)

        -John M.

        1. Kirk

          Deal. Assuming any of us are still here.

          Something that I’m actually rather surprised by, given the state of the world in my lost youth…

          That fact rather gives one hope, for all of us to muddle on through, but given the nature of the universe, which tends to encourage folly until the piper calls his due, I rather suspect that faith in “muddlin’ thro” might just be misplaced. At some point, the Gods of Lost Causes and Human Folly are just going to throw up their hands and say “F-it, these people are too stupid to live…”.

          1. Hognose Post author

            Read a newspaper from 30, 60, 90 years ago and see three different sets of descending calamities which, oddly enough, never did hit. (Meanwhile we weathered various other calamities that the paper guys didn’t see coming any more than the spy agencies did).

          2. Kirk

            Yeah, I’m kinda bemused to still be alive, to be honest. I didn’t plan very far past “…prolly gonna be dead by the time I’m 35, let’s leave no hostages to fortune…”. At 17, I was reading at least two newspapers a day, front page to back page, and kinda-sorta believing most of what I found therein. In short, what I saw coming was a Gotterdammerung, as I don’t think we’ve ever seen an empire on the scale of the Soviet Union going down peacefully, and the fracture lines were visible there for everyone to see. Also, we were being run by complete idiots, mostly, Reagan notwithstanding. So, yeah, not a lot of optimism. Figured it was better to die on feet than knees, sooooo… A military career for me. At the time, the US military was in a bit of a shambolic state, so I thought I should do my part to try to help fix things.

            And, then… The ’80s and ’90s happened. I swear to God, I’d love to have seen the results of some intel analyst with a knack for accurate prescience trying to sell the actual course of events to those “on high”. Poor fucker would have been buried in a rubber room as incurably insane–I mean, to think that the Soviet Union might just dry up into a puff of non-existence, and the whole Warsaw Pact just evaporate after the East Germans accidentally opened up the Wall, one fine summer day. Ridiculous! And, that the Saudis would welcome a mass of Christian soldiers into their country, in order to save them from their client, Saddam Hussein? Or, that our biggest problem in the 2000s would be Islamic terrorism, with the Soviets gone as sponsors?

            If you had taken the actual course of events during those years, and somehow gotten them into a time machine to send back, the utter implausibility of the whole thing would serve to convince all and sundry who were running things in the early 1980s that it was some kind of deranged hoax, no matter what else you did to provide corroboration.

            So, going forward? Yeah. No ‘effing clue. Wouldn’t rule out a damn thing, other than that trend lines don’t always continue, but that, eventually, we’re gonna run out of luck, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings are gonna have a heyday. What form that takes? No idea. But, I wouldn’t rule out anything, up to and including a visit from some eldritch elder abomination that’s been worshipped in the darkest regions of the Congo for the last thousand years…

  9. Docduracoat

    Am I the only person still mad at the British for burning down the White House in the War of 1812?
    Poor Dolly Madison had to run out the back door with the portrait of Geoerge Washington to save it from the British
    I mention it to my co- workers and the are all uniformly ” huh”
    “The British attacked Wasington D.C.”?
    Americans have no sense of history!
    How can we have multi- generational vendettas if everyone is too busy making money and playing video games to remember past injustice !
    The Serbs are still mad about a battle that happened in Kosovo in 1389!

    1. Kirk

      Kosovo Polje is just the tip of the iceberg, my friend…

      Little anecdote, here–I was talking to one of my Serbian acquaintances circa the time all the BS was getting started. He casually mentions something about how it’s really great that the bastard Croats are getting theirs, finally, for what they did to his village. I’m thinking “Oh, OK, something happened recently over there to trigger this…”. And, I did some thinking, trying to remember what the hell I’d seen in the news about Serbian villages getting raided, as he’s going on and on about the Orthodox priest, Father Dmitri, getting nailed to the doors of the church, and all sorts of other wonderful atrocities. I’m going “Wait, what…?”, because I can’t remember anything like that shit being in the news, and ya kinda think it would have been, ya know?

      Turns out, after I delicately inquire, that he’s talking about some shit that went down in the 16th Century. Literally. At some point, his home village had been raided and burnt to the ground by some Croatians who were in the service of the Hapsburgs, back when they were fighting the Turks. This shit was Four. HUNDRED. Years ago…

      He knew the names of the victims. All of them. They were still holding church services commemorating this shit when he was a kid in the 1960s. Every one of the people killed in that raid were mentioned by name in the service, and the details of the atrocities were spelled out. Kids had to memorize that shit, because they were expected to participate in the memorial ceremonies. He could reel off the names of the people who’d been killed some thirty years after he left the home village, and he’d damn near lost his language, by that time.

      And, what’s worse? The whole fucking country is like that. You think the Appalachians know how to do feuds? Dude, those guys are pikers; if the Hatfields and McCoys were set down in the former Yugoslavia, they’d be universally despised as being people that don’t honor their ancestors enough. In Yugoslavia, those kinds of feuds would still be getting people killed today, and with a great deal of enthusiasm.

      The actual worst thing about the whole deal is that it’s almost an evolutionary adaptation, by now: If you don’t have that kind of mindset, the next time the killing starts up, you’re not going to be ready for it, and you’re gonna be the first victim because you forgot that ol’ Josip, your neighbor, has a great-grandfather that your great-great-grandfather done did wrong, and Josip ain’t never going to hear the end of the shit from his extended family if he lets you and yours live. In that kind of environment, when someone like Izetbegovic starts talking smack about “Islamic revivalism”, memories get triggered, and some of those memories aren’t exactly nice ones, like how great-great-great-aunt Jovanka got sold to the slave dealer back around 1830 because her daddy owed money on the farm, and there was a bad year for the crops, plus the bullshit from the various endemic wars going on all the time…

      If you didn’t keep up on all that stuff, you and your line died out. Period. The only survivors were the bastards who carried grudges, and who worked well enough with the kinfolk to present a united front against the Turks, the Catholics, and everyone else that was trying to do them in. And, it was an all-round deal, with everyone scrabbling to do unto everyone else before they were done unto. The mentality that results from that? That’s how you get “the former Yugoslavia”; all Tito managed to do was repress it for a few years. What it would take to actually eradicate that whole mentality? Nation-wide treatment with a fucking neuralizer from Men in Black, would be my guess…

  10. HORSE GUNNER

    QUALIFICATIONS: ZERO/NIL/NO SF/SO training or experience but 51 months Jump Status in “America’s Guard of Honor”–The 82d Airborne Division in the James E (“Jimmy”) Carter-era “Hollow Army”.
    COMMENT: To paraphrase some retired Flag Officer who lectured us when I was a Cadet: “The most important “Social Welfare Goal” of any Nation is to keep its Citizens Alive and Free.”.

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