The grain of salt for military opinions

Same goes for military intervention…

Every election there seems to be a string of retired military flag and general officers that come out of the woodwork to support one candidate or another. The media acts like these opinions really matter, and we’ll hear endless debate about what “the generals” think. But do these people’s opinions really matter?

Like any good question, the correct answer is “it depends.” First, retired military members can share whatever opinion they want. Active duty members are restricted on what opinions they can share, since they work for the executive branch of the government. That’s why you see the disclaimer at the bottom of my articles, and why I don’t get too edgy on any sitting President from either party. Retired military members don’t have these restrictions, despite what people may think or want.

OK, so they can talk, but do they say anything useful? Most retired flag or general officers were in the service for between 25 and 40 years. That translates to somewhere between 8 to 16 different duty stations. Many of these were in different states and different countries, so in terms of understanding how different parts of the world work, these officers were certainly exposed to that. Moving between different continents exposes them to the good and the bad of how countries operate and the issues each country faces. This is particularly important when thinking about foreign policy, where the U.S. news service is terrible at covering issues like the water crisis in the Sudan, competition between Russia and China in central Asia, and the continuing problems in the Balkans.

There is a caveat to this that is really important. Military members go to places that have trouble. We don’t send people to Africa or the Middle East because its fun. Every overseas tour or travel is in the lens of failed diplomacy or democracy, so the member is there to fix it. Civil war in Yemen? Shoot some missiles in and kill some bad guys! Military members are primed for action. That’s not a bad thing. The military mindset of solving problems is positive, but it has two drawbacks. First, we hesitate to say “not my problem,” and second, we value U.S. intervention over others.

Let’s look at Syria for the first issue. Syria is a mess. We have Russia attempting to maintain influence in the country, especially since it owns a major naval base at Latakia. Turkey, a NATO ally, and Syria share a long, not the best defined border that has a host of illegal crossings. Then we have Iran shipping weapons and people across a poorly controlled Iraqi border to Syria. Combine that with a government focused on maintaining power rather than protecting its own people, and you have a California-sized tinder box just waiting for a gender reveal party.

So, could we go in and sort it out. Yes! Whats the cost? I’d start at ~5,000 U.S. deaths and we’d need to sit there for at least 15-30 years. Sounds crazy? Well, we won World War 2 over 70 years ago and we’re still in Germany and Japan. Maybe that’s not fair, let’s go with when the Berlin Wall collapsed…that’s still 44 years! Thirty years might be an understatement. That sounds a lot like colonization, and is guaranteed to get us a lot bad press.

Is there suffering in Syria? Yes, and at horrible levels. I’m not denying that. There is a lot of suffering all over the place. Should we care about Syria? Yes. But that’s not the important question. The important question is:

Do we care about Syria enough, and more than anyone else in the area, to commit to a very long term stay that will cost American lives?

It’s like a mortgage that you can’t sell back. You buy a house with a 30 year mortgage. You can just walk away, but it’ll rot and rust, and someone else might move in. That’s our problem with making everything our problem. We simply don’t have the resources to fix every problem in the world. We should pick and choose wisely. I wasn’t surprised when President Trump pulled the U.S. out of Syria. I was surprised by the backlash from military members. That’s the first big issue with retired flag and general officers: they all too often don’t ask whether we should get involved at all.

The second issue is valuing U.S. intervention over others. We talk the talk about loving our allies, but lets be honest, only about a handful are capable in any sort of extended, high intensity fight. That’s OK, because they’re allied with us, but it also makes them wary of jumping feet first into what looks like reckless U.S. intervention. Everyone loved being part of the first coalition to free Kuwait, but once we freed Kuwait, there was no desire by other countries to turn north to Iraq. We invaded Iraq years later to topple a really bad dictator, and we had allies come with, but they weren’t exactly thrilled. Our allies were happy to jump into Afghanistan, but after it dragged past four years, that enthusiasm waned.

When our allies work without us, it takes them longer, and our retired military members make plenty of comments like “we should support them,” without asking whether it makes any sense. When Mali fought Islamic insurgents and France wanted U.S. support, President Obama asked them to pay for it. He’s not wrong, because the correct question to ask is, are we willing to stay there for a long time? Most Americans can’t find Mali on a map, let alone pick out any U.S. interest in that country.

We also need to ask a really hard question about what retired admirals and generals do when they get out of the service. A few of them retire and “go fishing,” but plenty get another job, and most of these jobs are with major defense contractors. If I’m working at Raytheon and the government is shooting a lot of Raytheon missiles, I’m keeping a nice job for many years to come. Its the hammer tool problem: if all you have is a hammer, the world is full of nails. If you go from working 30+ years on solving military problems, then shift to a job making military equipment, you are likely inclined to think the military is the only (or at least, the best way) to solve problems. In many cases you are right, but there are plenty where you are not.

That’s the grain of salt you need for retired military opinions. Are they valuable? Yes! Retired military have different experiences than the populace, and their understanding of the world has value in many cases. But it comes with its own biases and special interests that aren’t obvious at the outset. We need to keep that in mind when we determine how much value to place on someone’s opinion.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, Raytheon Corporation, or any other government agency.

Who is my neighbor on social media?

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Leviticus 19:18
Too easy to share, and so bland!

The COVID-19 posturing, protests and constant craziness on social media is grinding away at plenty of nerves. Reason’s recent article about leaving people alone summarizes the current grandstanding, on all sides, in its last paragraph:

These with-us-or-against-us performances are a symptom of a larger climate in which every element of our lives has become an opportunity for tribal signaling and cultural warfare, and in which our ruling political tribes are growing increasingly illiberal in their approaches to free speech, free trade, free thought, private property, and so much more.

Reason

Right now, most people are caught in the 24 hour news cycle, which rewards getting angry over something every day. But what happens when people get fed up and start quitting? As far back as 2017 people began noting that Millenials weren’t sharing nearly as much original content on social media. As social media becomes increasingly hostile to contradictory views, its far easier to share bland, feel good articles or memes. Many people get no joy or energy from arguing with people online. People that do love the sport of online argument are likely to find an increasingly smaller number of engagement opportunities. In Top Gun terms, it won’t be so “target rich” anymore.

As people pull back, you’ll see much more use of social media to connect directly with people, but a lot less sharing of opinions. This makes tracking social media sharing as a flawed data set for gauging popular opinion. For any future election, how Twitter, Facebook and other things trend isn’t going to be a reliable indicator for polling, yet people are going to swear by it. This very different sharing is also making the social media advertising model more difficult to execute.

People will always self-select friends. We are called to love our neighbors, and if social media makes that hard, people will naturally pull back. Social media put us in a weird place of often knowing many people online, but not knowing our next door neighbor. Ironically, it might now turn us to cut out the online “friends” in order to talk more with our neighbor.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

DaTechGuy off DaRadio Livestream Podcast 3 PM EST Words Mean Things and Chat with me Edition

Today at 3 PM EST DaTechGuy off DaRadio graces the podcast Livestream waves once again.

Today we’ll be taking questions from people in chat on the issue of the Day and also talking these two topics

  1. Racism at Princeton
  2. Secrets in Nashville

And I’ll of course throw in a dig at Wendys.

The “preshow” starts at 2:55 when I go live and the show proper begins at 3 PM you can watch the livestream below (last weeks show is a placeholder for the post till 2:50 or so)

Hope you enjoy it.

Five One Liners under other bloggers Fedoras, Robert Stacy McCain, Neo, Barbara Espinosa, Baron Bodissey and Adrinenne

 This tactic of imposing a million-dollar bail was credited with preventing a repeat of the riot Monday night — this ain’t Portland, where they turn the rioters loose as soon as they get arrested.

Sorority Sister Turned BLM Radical? Kappa Delta Arrested in Lancaster Riot via the Other McCain

The bail is actually higher than the $75K plus grand tuition at the college said sorority girl attends.


It all fits together like the pieces of a puzzle: blue lives don’t matter, cops cannot be allowed to defend themselves, cops need to die.

BLM and cops: Words aren’t violence, but they can lead to violence via the New Neo

I’m the Joe Biden Campaign and I approve this message


They had to get rid of him, and what better way to do it than to destroy our economy with a virus in the hope of making sure Trump is not elected again.

“The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots” Video via American Freedom by Barbara

Donald Trump has forced China and the left’s hand before they were ready to come out as what they are.


 In no way is Malta allowed to protect itself from people with predominantly unclear identities and predominantly young men who want to enter illegally for economic reasons and few can show a reason for asylum?

Amnesty International Targets Malta via Gates of Vienna

Never forget that this refugee crisis is the child of the unholy union between Barak Obama & Hillary Clinton.


My question remains, “Why are people so willing to be harassed and bullied into compliance?”

Michael Matt: Why are we not screaming from the rooftops?? (video) via Adrienne’s corner

I was willing to give these guys some slack at the start when we knew less, no more.

Five One Liners Under Other People’s Fedoras Kurt Schlichter, Don Surber, Right Wing Granny, Victory Girls Blog and Baldilocks and one from me.

Michael Forest Reinoehl has now proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that when wanted for crimes of violence or any other the Rittenhouse methodTM of not getting shot by police is the way to go.


Let’s put the awkward issues of logistics aside and talk tactics, though professionals always think logistics while amateurs only think tactics.

Via Town Hall

As a general rule you should always read Kurt Schlichter, he’s smart, he’s funny, and he tears apart the left but this is the most informative piece he’s ever written


FINALLY, a reader emailed, “Hi Don. A few weeks ago I realized that BLM stands for Bitter Little Marxists

Via Don Surber

Analysis True.


 NFL shouldn’t be propping up a criminal rapist when the organization itself has a domestic violence problem.

Via Victory Girls Blog

Actually given the criminal and domestic violence history in the NFL it’s actually pretty on brand.


 Voters should not be deprived of their constitutional right to vote nor should their vote be cancelled by an illegally cast vote.

Via Right Wing Granny

Since the day after the election of 2016 I’ve been saying Trump needs to go after voter fraud.


Can anyone deny that all the terrible things we’ve seen this year have supernatural sources? Well, I suppose they could, but I adamantly disagree.

Via Baldilocks

I think the Democrat/Antifa/Media Marxist left aren’t the real enemy, they just work for him.

Five One Liners Under Other Bloggers Fedoras: The Other McCain, Granite Grok, Daily Pundit, Right Wing Granny & Jihad Watch

Anyone watching that video could see Rosenbaum was looking for an opportunity to get in a fight with someone, and of course, a bully would naturally seek the weakest possible opponent.

Via Robert Stacy McCain

Of course as Mr. Rosenbaum learned the hard way street smarts don’t matter if the weakest link exercises his 2nd amendment right by being armed with an AR-15 and the knowledge of how to use it.


 Indeed, I have heard that Sununu … after a very perfunctory greeting of the President at tonight’s rally … got out of there as fast as he could.

Via Ed Mosca at Granite Grok

Until I read this piece I was wondering why the President called for the Governor at his rally and he had apparently gone missing.


But if you do your part, the Trumpslide will be historic, and you can start watching the Enemy Media weeping and wailing starting at seven or eight pm eastern, rather than having to wait till later in the evening.

Via Daily Pundit

From Bill Quick’s lips/blog to God’s ears.


I wonder if Las Vegas is taking bets on whether or not Joe Biden will debate President Trump.

Via Right Wing Granny

I’m more interested if they’re taking bets on if he’ll still be the Democrat candidate for President by the time election day rolls around.


Cue the chorus of non-Muslim authorities and “experts” to tell Dzenan Camovic “No, your religion did not make you do it.”

Via Jihad Watch

Isn’t it funny how, according to authorities and experts, Muslims don’t know their own religion?

Five Kenosha/Portland One Liners Under Other People’s Fedoras: Independent Sentinel, Ace of Spades HQ, Captain’s Journal, Father Z and Granite Grok

According to one independent reporter, the man shot is a rapist, wanted by police, yet the governor sold out the police immediately. 

Via Independent Sentinel

Democrat Governors do that.


All things considered, the incident happened in a Democrat-controlled city by officers who are part of and trained by a Democrat-run department and Democrat-controlled city administration.

Via AceofSpades HQ

Funny how that seems to be the case so much?


If they will do this to the police, do you have any doubt left in your mind that they would do this to you?

Via Captain’s Journal

I’m sure that BLM folks shooting at police vehicles were doing so in a “mostly peaceful” way.


 The idiots in the streets, embracing fantasies about Marxism imbibed in school room, are doing precisely what they have been trained to do.

Via Fr. Z’s Blog

I’m increasingly of the opinion that the closing of the public schools has been one of the best silver linings of the entire Coivd /Wuhan/CCP/Corona Virus business.


Quick question for the left. If Trump supporters marched into a neighborhood with a guillotine, would that mean something?

Via Granite Grok

Sure, it would mean that suddenly guillotine themes would be considered “hate speech” by the left and media and not be tolerated.


Five One Liners Under Other Bloggers Fedora’s Shot in the Dark, According to Hoyt, Gates of Vienna, Blazing Cat Fur & Don Surber


Not unlike the Minneapolis city council drones who advocate defunding the police, but are paying thousands of dollars a day for security for themselves, Lightfoot is showing us all whose lives really matter.

From Shot in the Dark

There is no privilege like liberal privilege


A system that punishes people for things they did not do is called INjustice. It has always been so

Via According to Hoyt

If you punished people for what they actually did too many liberals would be in trouble.


If I am in violation of their terms of service today, I was also in violation in 2019, 2018, etc., all the way back to 2006.

Via Gates of Vienna

Nothing says a conservative site is effective more than being banned by PayPal.


“Waste is shameful and thriftiness is honorable,” Xi said, calling for a combination of “legislation, supervision, and long-term measures” to rein in waste under a “Clean Plate Campaign.” 

Via Blazing Cat Fur

I think this is a sign that China is closer to falling than anyone will admit.


Who, what, when, where, why, and how are not that difficult to write.

From Don Surber

Spoken like a Journalist educated before 1980.

Five One Liners Under Other Bloggers Fedoras Instapundit, Right Wing Granny, Fisherville Mike, Adrinenne’s Corner and The Lid

IF I WERE THE GOP, I’D JUST RUN CLIPS OF THE DNC DURING THE RNC:

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:

Nothing hurts the Democrats more than people seeing them as they are


Sudan (and the other Arab countries) have to make a choice–do they want to submit to Iran or make peace with Israel and remain as independent countries? 

From Right Wing Granny:

The very idea that Sudan is even considering peace with Israel is completely surreal.


But instead of watching sports in June and July, TV viewers watched Fox News.

From Fisherville Mike

I can’t wait till the next round of negotiations for TV contracts for the four major sports takes place.


This is not how we’re supposed to live.

From Adrienne’s Corner

The more I’ve seen of Americans submitting to the mask lie the less I’ve been confused as to how people fell for Communism and Fascism in the 20th century.


It’s not racist to insist that everyone learn to use the same language, it is racist to say that one group doesn’t have the brains to learn the same language as everyone else.

From The Lid

I’m old enough to remember when it was only white supremacists who insisted Black Americans were incapable of achieving at the level of others.

(fyi He’s always be the Yid with Lid to me)