RANGER AGAINST WAR: Ranger Challenge 2008 <

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ranger Challenge 2008

I don't want to bring a sour note
Remember this before you vote

We can all sink or we all float

cause were all in the same big boat

--One World
, The Police

Ranger Challenge 2008

Any and all comers are invited to explore, justify or explain how or why terrorism is a form of warfare. Emotion will not be considered justification. References to international law, federal law and other legal documents will be considered qualifying sources.

This challenge is specifically directed to our readers at SOCNET and SOFORP, who habitually attack our evaluation that terrorism ≠ warfare. If this puts a bee in your bonnet, tell us why. Reminder: we are all about dialog at Ranger. Ad hominum is not cricket.

We further challenge anyone to justify the use of torture within a legal, moral, judicial or military purview. Hit us with your best shot. Elegance is appreciated, but a sturdy workhorse argument will do.

No stuffing the ballot box.

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

we're waiting.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 10:31:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Arkhamite said...

Truman's real legacy:

[1] Bending over for Chairman Mao in Korea.
[2] Bending over for Zionists in Palestine.
[3] Genocide in Hiroshima and Nagasushi.
[4] Acting like such a wimp that every world leader had him pegged as the village idiot of WWII.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 11:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Mr. Oblivious said...

Still waiting.

Arguing with a cartoon is a nice distraction, though.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 2:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Arkhamite said...

that's my answer; i wasn't just talking about the cartoon. truman's real legacy is that terrorism is a form of warfare, for the reasons I listed. before truman, the only form of warfare against civilians was Sherman-style total war. if i'm (reluctantly) accepting jim's premise that "terrorism is violence that goes beyond the target", then it seems obvious to me that it would not have been possible prior to the final stages and aftermath of WWII.

that definition of terrorism the audience beyond the target must be somehow knowledgeable of whatever the intended message of the violence is. this was not done before 1945. for instance, allied strategic bombing in europe during WWII was not accompanied by any message other than the the age-old "surrender or perish", however many leaflets they may have dropped.

but truman's korean war paradoxically had little to do with korea itself. post-WWII warfare always went beyond the target, because that was and is the era of proxy wars. a proxy war like korea is inherently terrorist because the intention of the force brought to bear was not to push the north korean army back, but to demonstrate to the entire world that the "united nations" would be fighting any kind of unilateral invasion.

recognizing israel was intended to highlight the jews as an oppressed population who were to be supported as a nation in palestine. yet the israelis had already gone terrorist by jim's definition when they attacked the british (including civilians) to send the message that jewish palestine would not accept british rule.

thus, the transformation of total war into terrorist war was a result of the "message wars" that started with korea and the recognition of israel after the palestinian jews had engaged in violence-beyond-the-target by killing british colonials to frighten away the british presence there. korea taught us to speak to the world by attacking smaller nations, and israel taught us that we could make allies of nations founded on terrorism.

and we all know, of course, that the nukes dropped on japan were really not just meant to defeat japan, but were intended to send a message to the soviet union. and my view is the whole thing, message wars like korea, israeli statehood, and even genocide in japan as a warning to the soviets, were a result of harry truman's (well-documented) inability to impress his fellow world leaders as a force to be reckoned with. so i say truman was the originator of the terrorist ethos of warfare, which has been de rigeur since 1945.

that's the best i can explain it. i'm sure there are exceptional conflicts, but i really think proxy wars are by jim's definition terrorist wars. and yes, i include vietnam, afghanistan (soviet and U.S.) and iraq as wars being fought to send a message to the world at large, not just to affect the situation in those localities.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 4:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

what we call terrorism today has truly been around as long as civilization.

read the campaigns of pompei the great in spain against sertorius. read about the athenian subjugation of rhodes and cylissia during the peloponeissian wars. read anabasis by xenophon, paying special attention to their walk through armenia.

truman's best legacy was standing up to macarthur and re-emphasizing the position of civilian control of the military.

his desegregation, by executive order, of all branches of the military, accomplished with one sheet of paper what had not been accomplished by congress, court, and executives for 150 years. establishing one place in american society where a person is judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

hiroshima and nagasaki were not genocide. they were legitimate military targets in a legitimate, declared, nation to nation war.

truman a wimp? are we talking the same truman that stood up to macarthur? the same truman that repudiated tom pendergast? the same truman that told j. edgar hoover to go fuck himself?

come back when you have facts and real arguments.

anybody who thinks that not starting a land war with china is "bending over" has obviously not fucking fought there. most of us here have, and tend to be in favor of men who find other ways to deal with that region.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 5:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

p.s. saying things like "everybody knows. . ." is not a marshelling of facts. it's a stupid and weakening rhetorical device.

everybody does not know that japan was nuked to send a message to the russians, but, had that message really needed to be sent, why not nuke the russians? it's not like they could have done anything about it had we done so. the decision to use the bombs (and we only had two of them at the time, it was a real all-in moment that an inveterate poker hand like truman could appreciate)

the japanese were preparing an inch by inch, rock by rock, door by door, window by window fight against any attempt at invasion. they were passing out spears, fucking spears to school children. a weapon that brought them to their senses and effected the surrender, not only to the allies, but to the inevitable saved lives.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 5:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure but would they Minuteman have been called this?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 9:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

Arkhamite, you're not a real compelling spokesman for your POV. You're going to have to try harder.

Some of us have real-world experiences with these things and I think most would agree you've failed the challenge thus far.

Yeah, I'm waiting, too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 9:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Arkhamite says: "before truman, the only form of warfare against civilians was Sherman-style total war."

Hopefully that was tongue in cheek, else you appear to be pushing your own personalized version of world history.

Back on topic - I cannot speak to or explain whether terrorism is a form of warfare. I do know that some form of campaign against civilians has been used since before recorded history and continues to this day, by nations as well as by non-state actors.

Torture I do know about. It is useless for gathering intelligence. It is counterproductive in defeating an enemy. It is morally repugnant to the entire population of the planet not counting a few frat boys. You won't find anyone to defend it. The few practitioners are too afraid of the legal consequences now that the Torturer-In-Chief is leaving La Casa Blanca. The few admirers are too ashamed to speak out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 9:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Arkhamite said...

thank you for your critiques, but please note that my comment on terrorism and warfare was based on a definition of terrorism that is not my own. my own view is that there is little objective distinction to be made between different forms of politically motivated violence: terrorism, wars, riots, assasinations - all seem to me basically different heads of the same monster.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 5:53:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

I am enjoying the conversation. It seems these definitions are a bit of a sticky wicket.

I guess the one thing we can agree upon is that torture is repellent to all but the perpetrating frat boys, as Mike says, and as MB says, it is also ineffective on many fronts.

Arkhamite: while I appreciate your spirit, you can't knock Harry Truman like that in my book!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 10:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Arkhamite said...

i wouldn't knock truman because of all the secret service protection for the corpse. ^^^

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 11:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

jo, i would not classify the Minutemen as terrorist nor would i drop Geo. Wash. in that category.I've heard this contention over the years.By todays standards they had a military chain of command , targetted military objectives, , wore identifiable uniforms and carried their weapons openly and proudly as free men.Also their violence was not symbolic-they wanted a new order for the colonies.Ironically the new 3/24 COIN manual clearly states that insurgents or those in rebellion are CRIMINALS and should be punished when apprehended;in effect this document delegitimizes our own revolution.The present administration would've been on the Torie side. How quickly we forget our rebellion beginning. jim

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 5:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

mike, i,ve been away from the army for about 20 years but i'll talk old army doctrine as taught in CGSC in the 80's.There was a concept of spectrum of war. This specialty was housed in the LIC office(low intensity conflict).This was almost taken from Mao's playbook.It goes crime ,terror,small unit insurgency activity, growth,outright rebellion,conventional warfare.That's it in a nutshell.
Old doctrine was that LIC was a level 2 threat that could be handled by any unit with no appreciable degradation of mission function.
The US legal system defined T. as criminal and DOJ was lead agency in dealing w. the problem.But oh yah-everything changed on 9/11.
It's my opinion that those advocating torture can't get it up any other way and so it's win-win for them.I'll bet big bucks that cheney .....
thanks for your thoughts. jim

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 5:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

publius, ark doesn't understand the chain of command so i cut him slack.He's not aware of how rare that is either- jim

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 5:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MB, i don't personally believe that H+N were legitimate targets but they were logical targets as you point out.Although i feel this was morally wrong i would've made the same call as C in C.What you are touching on is that military men generally go with the call of the Commander., we are less inclined to second guess in most scenarios.When we wore the uniform we would not have written as we do now.Or should i not speak for both of us, i'm just being general .
An invasion of Japan was as you said out of the world of reality AND the Japs had to be totally hammmered before we could force them to build toyotas. jim

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 5:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MB,ref your cmts on land war w. China.I am in constant awe of the men that fought in Korea. I often doubt that i could have endured the level of combat and the environment. Most vets talk about the heat and the cold.
Any kind of war with China is not the best of ideas at any time-remember the old adage-line them up 8 abreast in columns of hordes and march them across a bridge and kill every one of them AND they won't stop coming. NOT A GOOD THOUGHT. jim

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 5:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MB and Lisa , my problem with Truman -who i admire -was his attempts to nationalize the coal and steel industries.He called it a time of war BUT no declaration of war. Same playbook as today.
My Dad was a SW PA.coalminer as were my Uncles. The miners had to fight the gov't and the coal companies to get any safety and wages packages. As always the gov't sided with big business and we lived in a company house and shopped in the company store and heated the simple uninsulated houses with company coal.In 1956 the mines closed and we moved to labor as auto workers in Cleveland.
Truman was a great but he didn't help the coal miners one iota. Or so i remember as a small child. jim

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 6:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Arkhamite said...

I read that the Chinese in the Korean War used bugles for signaling each other and were known for slipping into U.N. camps by night and slitting throats.

I'm mentally 4F by the way...I'm the first to admit that I would probably not make it through boot camp, much less be able to handle real combat.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 6:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

arkhamite, most of us, especially those of us who did multiple tours are most certainly mentally 4f.

some suggested reading, if you don't mind.

alexander theodore ayrault dodge (a union officer from the civil war and auto-didact historian)

anabasis xenophon

thermopolye herodutus
the persian campaign of alexander herodutus

anything by plutarch
on government marcus tullius cicero

campaigns in gaul julius ceasar (there's an outstanding translation of ceasar's latin text by the poet john ciardi)

the civil war (3 volumes) shelby foote

the pity of war niall ferguson

soul of battle victor davis hanson

the best and brightest halberstam

a bright shining lie sheehan

revolt in the desert and seven pillars of islam by t.e. lawrence

march of folly barbara tuchman (actually anything by tuchman is a good informative read, my favorite is a world lit only by fire and a distant mirror about the formation of the modern nation states in europe)

especially the ancients though. in the works i just recommended you'll see alexander, ptolemy, parmenio, crassus, pompei magnus, and some of the absolute top military geniuses in the history of man encountering the exact same problems with the exact same people we are encountering today.

read about hanson's take on sherman's march, you'll find that rather than a "war on civilians" that sherman's march was a very discrete, very focused attack on the industry, and breadbasket of the south. he didn't burn family farms or gardens. he was pure ass living hell on the plantations though. cities that capitulated were spared, and even given help in recovering, those that didn't like atlanta, charlston, raleigh and other hotbeds of rebellion were burned. railways were destroyed, or changed over to the union gauges.

it wasn't wanton destruction, but a destruction of the capabilities and the will of the class that started the fucking war in the first place to resist further.

of all the military minds that surfaced in the civil war, i rank sherman as one of the best. like macarthur, he was loathe to waste the lives of his soldiers in silly, and often fruitless frontal assaults. his casualty reports were among the best provided.

also, his personal courage, coolness under fire, and resolved, more than anything saved the day at shiloh. one of my favorite moments came on the evening of the first day, sherman, wounded twice, and riding his fourth mount (three previously having been shot out from underneath him) appeared at grant's command tent to report that the lines had held, the river crossings were secure and dispositions were being made for the next day's fight. he said well grant, we've had the devil's own day. grant said:

yep, lick 'em tomorrow though.

and yep, they fucking did just that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 7:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you for this wonderful world tour or war literature. Completing that list would certainly entitle one to hold forth on these matters.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 7:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Great list MB.

I pass on Vicky Hanson though. The man is a fruitcake. I find it hard to believe anything he writes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 12:01:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Arkhamite said...

Re. fighting the Chinese:

As I remember reading, MacArthur didn't exactly call for a land war; he wanted 26 atomic bombs (LOL I think that was the number) dropped on China and radioactive cobalt laid along the border to prevent anyone crossing it for hundreds of thousands of years. Methinks he had a bit of a phobia about the Middle Kingdom.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 11:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

re: victor davis hanson

while he is truly deluded and most often, very wrong, on most political subjects in our modern times, he is a thorough and resolute scholar. he is a more than adequate historian and a brilliant teacher (who, sadly, has retired from teaching to devote his time to the thinktank of hoover institute).

while i was his student he never once downgraded me for arriving at different conclusions or deriving different lessons from the history he was teaching. if my paper was clearly written, properly researched, and i backed my arguments up with adequate citation he actually welcomed a student whose thinking was different from his. we had many long, sometimes loud, debates and discussions over coffee and cigarettes on the lessons of history.

we, both of us, love us some heavy infantry. we are full on gushy lovers of grunts.

i don't much subscribe to his viewpoints, like i said, but he is enough of a scholar and enough of a historian, that i will always take the time to read them.

he never expected me to think like him. he wanted me to think my ass off though.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 12:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Re. "Truman didn't help the coal miners," and yo people were miners: you are showing the bias of vested interests. Clearly you are no Benthamite.

Friday, June 27, 2008 at 10:25:00 AM GMT-5  

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