Mexican targets, a Nigerian bomber and Ayn Rand

"Senior Mexican officials have begun a sweeping review of the military's two-year occupation of this dangerous border city, concluding that the U.S.-backed deployment of thousands of soldiers against drug traffickers has failed to control the violence and crime, according to officials in both countries.

The multi-agency review, which has not been made public, represents a "serious reassessment" of President Felipe Calderón's anti-narcotics strategy and reflects growing alarm that Juarez, across from El Paso, has descended into lawlessness, U.S. officials familiar with the process said.

The war on Mexoco's powerful drug cartels has been the defining policy of Calderón's administration, involving unprecedented cooperation with American political and law enforcement authorities. Failure in a high-profile battleground such as Ciudad Juarez would represent a major defeat for Calderón and for U.S. officials determined to curb the multibillion dollar flow of drugs across the border.

"There is an almost unanimous consensus in the city that the strategy hasn't worked," said Hugo Almada, a sociology professor at the Autonomous University of Juarez who earlier this month organized a peace march of more than 3,000 people.

"The most terrifying question that everyone asks is, 'If the army comes in and can't control the situation, what happens to us now?' " Almada said. "  Washpost


This, of course, relates directly to my prior post on the possible use of US forces against the cartels.  Yes.  I know that if many Americans were not the sort of people who want to soak themselves in cocaine and heroin, then Mexico could be left to its own fate, but we are what we are and the large scale drugs trade is sapping the country's strength (ours).  Targets?  We should be primarily inerested in the "big" people to include corrupt officials and bankers.  There will be some collateral damage (dead innocents).  There always are.  A border war against the drug lords is inevitable.  We should get on with it and make sure that the damage that we inflict injures all the syndicates more or less equally.  pl


"He grew up amid extraordinary privilege, a wealthy Nigerian banker's son who attended top international schools and had traveled to the United States. But sometime some time this year, according to relatives' accounts, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab became an enemy of the West.

As a college student living in London and Dubai, Abdulmutallab, 23, the Nigerian native had worried his family with his embrace of an increasingly radical view of Islam. Then, a few months ago, he renounced his wealthy lifestyle, broke all ties with his parents and disappeared. Family members suspected he had gone to Yemen, his mother's native country. " Washpost
Radicalized in the London mosque/coffee house scene, more or less trained in his mother's home country of Yemen, this child of extreme privilege epitomizes the vulnerability of Muslim youth to the siren call of preachers of violent jihad.  I worked for a Muslim owned company for a number of years and observed first hand the process of peer recruitment of youthful fanatics in England. 
The consensus (ijma') based nature of Muslim understanding of what consitutes Islam and,what does not, makes small groups of young people recruited initially by peers susceptible.  Is this true of other religions as well?  Yes, to some extent, but religions that are hierarchically "driven" in terms of acceptance of types of behavior are not so easily exploited by small group pressure.
This vulnerability to small group radicalization is a phenomenon that will persist.  It is only made worse by the invasion and occupation of Muslim countries by Western forces.  pl

"You can admit it now: Maybe in your teens, or in college, you experimented. Hiding in your dorm or your parents' basement, you took hit after hit. Your friends began wondering why you'd changed, but it was too late: Ayn Rand was in your bloodstream.

My own dealer was a libertarian teaching assistant who introduced me to "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" in graduate school; soon I was subscribing to Rand-inspired newsletters and quoting Howard Roark and John Galt — Rand's two most famous creations — on the virtues of selfishness and individualism. It took the better part of a year to get over it, but, like so many others, I eventually realized that architects shouldn't go around blowing up buildings and that, above all, you can't really divide all humans into capitalist geniuses and collectivist looters. " Washpost


Ayn Rand and Jean Jacques Rousseau have much to answer for.

Rousseau for his inspiration of the line of thought that lead inexorably to Lenin, etc. 

Ayn Rand has inspired the flowering of an unbridled selfishness that corrupts endlessly.

Investment bankers, unashamed of their looting of the economy, they are the new heroes of popular imagination.  "Greed is good," Gordon Gecko proclaimed.  "We do the Lord's work here," the head of Goldman Sachs announced.  Can anyone doubt that the endless corruption of US Congressmen in the lobbying trade is inspired by other than Ayn Rand's obsession with self above all else?

All those people who spend their lives in the service of others are thought to be "suckers" by the Ayn Rand crowd, suckers or those who not clever enough to be truly venal.

The country is largely served by people who are depised by the "objectivists."  How long can that last?  pl

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68 Responses to Mexican targets, a Nigerian bomber and Ayn Rand

  1. dilbert dogbert says:

    As always an interesting post. What caught my attention was the idea of small group enlistment process in Islam. The idea could be carried over to Evangelical Christians. The evangelicals seem to be a very fragmented bunch. To date they don’t seem to be in the business of blowing up airplanes – Thank God.

  2. John Howley says:

    “Growing numbers of Mexican and U.S. officials say—at least privately—that the biggest step in hurting the business operations of Mexican cartels would be simply to legalize their main product: marijuana. Long the world’s most popular illegal drug, marijuana accounts for more than half the revenues of Mexican cartels.”
    WSJ 12/26/09

  3. Lysander says:

    “There will be some collateral damage (dead innocents). There always are. A border war against the drug lords is inevitable.”
    This is not going to end happily. Once “collateral damage” occurs, and it’s traced to all these super skilled operators, the equation changes. It will no longer be law abiding citizens vs drug lords but rather the US vs Mexico. Not the Mexican army, of course, which would be no match, but the new Mexican insurgents. These people will be peasants recruited by the drug lords to fight. They will appeal to Mexican patriotism and they will have numerous volunteers. There will be more than enough money to pay them. Cocaine isn’t cheap you know. (although it would be if it were legal.)
    There will also be many (millions) disgruntled Mexicans already living north of the border. Where they will fall in this equation is anybody’s guess. But they may take a more active role than merely calling their congressman.
    The drug lords will have more than enough money to buy weapons, hire assassins, target Americans in retaliation. Do not assume they will simply make a business calculation. Don’t you always warn us not to assume that Nations will make decisions based on self interest?
    Yes, its a business. They will have to calculate risks and benefits. The risk of death will seriously dissuade many. But many more will gladly take the risk. Especially since the higher the risk and the harder it becomes to transport drugs into the US, the more expensive those drugs become, and the greater the reward becomes for taking those risks. The free market has a solution to almost every problem.
    And it has a solution to this one. Legalize drugs and those drug lords we’re talking about will be gone with nary a shot fired.
    Otherwise, your suggestion will introduce COIN to Americans in a way they never wanted to see it.
    This I’m writing from my home in lovely Las Vegas Nevada. Soon to be in the front line in the upcoming most excellent drug war. To be followed, of course, by an epic drug war “surge.”

  4. Castellio says:

    I’m happy to see you “take on” the blight of Ayn Rand’s nonsense. Why does no one point out that at the end of Atlas Shrugged the geniuses all go off and form a union, yes, a collective action, because they can no longer cut living in the real world.
    She represents the chosen people myth placed in a secular environment, using the most limited of values (one’s selfishness)as the litmus test for “belonging”.
    It is a cult, and can only lead to a country riven by mutual loathing.

  5. N. M. Salamon says:

    T S Eliot wrote a wonderful poem, The Hollow men, he did not know that his prophesy described the USA Government in 2010:
    The Hollow Men
    T. S. Eliot
    Mistah Kurtz—he dead.
    A penny for the Old Guy
    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar
    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
    Remember us—if at all—not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.
    Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
    In death’s dream kingdom
    These do not appear:
    There, the eyes are
    Sunlight on a broken column
    There, is a tree swinging
    And voices are
    In the wind’s singing
    More distant and more solemn
    Than a fading star.
    Let me be no nearer
    In death’s dream kingdom
    Let me also wear
    Such deliberate disguises
    Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
    In a field
    Behaving as the wind behaves
    No nearer—
    Not that final meeting
    In the twilight kingdom
    This is the dead land
    This is cactus land
    Here the stone images
    Are raised, here they receive
    The supplication of a dead man’s hand
    Under the twinkle of a fading star.
    Is it like this
    In death’s other kingdom
    Waking alone
    At the hour when we are
    Trembling with tenderness
    Lips that would kiss
    Form prayers to broken stone.
    The eyes are not here
    There are no eyes here
    In this valley of dying stars
    In this hollow valley
    This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
    In this last of meeting places
    We grope together
    And avoid speech
    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
    Sightless, unless
    The eyes reappear
    As the perpetual star
    Multifoliate rose
    Of death’s twilight kingdom
    The hope only
    Of empty men.
    Here we go round the prickly pear
    Prickly pear prickly pear
    Here we go round the prickly pear
    At five o’clock in the morning.
    Between the idea
    And the reality
    Between the motion
    And the act
    Falls the Shadow
    For Thine is the Kingdom
    Between the conception
    And the creation
    Between the emotion
    And the response
    Falls the Shadow
    Life is very long
    Between the desire
    And the spasm
    Between the potency
    And the existence
    Between the essence
    And the descent
    Falls the Shadow
    For Thine is the Kingdom
    For Thine is
    Life is
    For Thine is the
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

  6. Cieran says:

    Ayn Rand is nothing more than L. Ron Hubbard in drag, i.e., a so-called philosopher whose only innovation was to misappropriate the mantle of scientific objectivity in order to rationalize a way of looking at the world that was neither scientific nor objective.
    The single unifying theme behind your various tales of these miscreants of our age is that none of them ever had a real job. It’s amazing how a little honest work towards the common good can clarify one’s thinking, to the point of providing intellectual immunity from half-baked philosopher-apologists used by those unfortunate souls who are interested only in their individual gains.

  7. Patrick Lang says:

    Great post, some quick comments. You may post if you like.
    a. When I was in Europe, immediately after 9/11 working on counter terrorism matters at EUCOM, I made the statement that the US would best be served by not confining our gaze to just Islamic Terrorist, but would do well after securing Afghanistan to turn our attention to the Drug Cartels of Mexico, Central and South America, as they were, like the terrorist attempting de-stablize nation states of the region in the same manner as Islamic terrorist. Moreover it would have the effect of not turning the War on Terrorism into a war against Islam–which has happened.
    b. You are correct the best way to handle the cartels is use those who operate in the shadows–but we must do so with the implicit consent of Mexico but give them the ability to be critical our actions. The diplomatic Kabuki dance.
    c. The radicalization process in Islam mirrors very much the radicalization process within our nation. We must not forget that Tim McVeigh was from a middle-class family who came to see our own nation as the enemy.
    d. I have been giving a lot of though to the variations of conservatism in the United States and in particular the rise of the Tea Party (although I like Tea Baggers better!) movement. In that vain I have rereading Richard Hofstadter’s “Anti-Intellectualism” and “Paranoid Style in American Politics.” While I do not agree with all of Hofstadter’s conclusions, and some of his observations are dated, his analysis goes far to helping one understand conservatism in America, what he does not do is explain Ayn Rand and her brand of Libertinism. I much prefer my conservatives whose linkage is to Edmund Burke and James Madison and not free form thinkers inspired by Jean Jacques Rousseau and to a degree Thomas Jefferson.
    Again thanks for a great post.
    With kindest regards, I remain,
    Yours respectfully

  8. Cato says:

    The International Finance Corporation has a pamphlet in which it describes the difference between a functional economy and a state-driven economy. In the former, investment creates jobs. In the latter, the state more or less bloats itself, without experiencing the immediate or long term benefits of job creation. In many countries, the differential is 4 or 5 or even 6 to 1: the same money put into a market oriented economy creates four to six times the jobs that are created when the money is squandered by a statist oriented economy. But Mexico takes the cake: the ratio there is an astonishing 87 to 1, the highest I’ve ever seen in the world.
    Mexico has consistently chosen a path that will predictably lead to a bad outcome. Having allowed monopoly or oligopoly rents to flow to the drug cartels now for thirty years, they finally chanced upon (barely) an executive who has decided to do something about it. Tragically, it’s late in the game.
    This Spanish form of governance; this denigration of large swaths of the people; this dalliance with uber-progressive/anti-American nonsense, it’s all coming home to roost. I wish it weren’t so.
    Over the last forty or so years, we’ve come to a rough idea as to what works both economically and politically. To systematically ignore these results is to sanction a gap that grows wider every year.
    Let’s place the responsibility squarely where it belongs: the demand side is with certain of our citizens; but the supply side is equally culpable, if not more.
    Time for a reality check: if in New Mexico and Arizona, 14,000 people had been killed in the last nine years, would we stand for it? What would we think of the governors of those states? What would we expect and demand of the police chiefs, mayors, judges, prosecutors? Mexico is horribly broken, right down to its deepest, fundamental operating systems and assumptions.
    The government of Mexico must decide whether it is morally important to control the country, and to give to its ordinary citizens the basic protections they deserve.
    We, on the other hand, should decide whether to a) legalize, control, tax certain drugs (thus boosting the number of abusers–a fact we can’t much control; or b) stop the widespread practice of “setting ’em up and knocking ’em down” in U.S. municipal courts. Enough with the low level busts. We should pass a law drastically increasing penalties for serious drug offenses, while at the same time orienting resources to take down kingpins–ruthlessly and with force. And Mexico should do the same.
    Culture matters. We might not become drug-free overnight, but honestly and seriously addressing the issue means full-spectrum war, i.e., middle school kids finally make the link between smoking pot and the kid that’s killed in Juarez; judges and prosecutors finally give up on the easy cases; Mexico decides to grow up: breaking the deep corruption that pervades that country.
    To turn the corner on that huge task, the elite in Mexico would have to view themselves as having something vital in common with those in places like Juarez, however.
    But they lack the sense of exceptionalism that we’ve inherited. They lack the sense of outrage (because most of the pain is felt by people of another caste).
    I’m glad, and I’m proud, of the fact that I live in a country in which we would not descend so low–not without a fight.

  9. Steve says:

    “The splendor of the rose and the whitness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its lovliness.”
    St. Therese of Lisieux

  10. turcopolier says:

    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  11. Nicollo says:

    Marijuana will not be legalized, federally at least, within our lifetimes. Realistic extraterritorial approaches to narcoterrorism should be.
    In the post-Nobel-Speech era, the U.S. should come to grips with the real need for profiling the likes of Mr. Abdulmutallab.
    Thomas Jefferson’s legacy does not deserve the indignity of inferential comparison with Ayn Rand.

  12. turcopolier says:

    Not my comparison.
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  13. Paul says:

    The bulk of ordinary Americans are not well read in philosophy or history. Slogans and soundbites incessantly repeated over the public airways seem to be their main source of information. Rush Limbaugh, for one, is forever spurting Ayn Rand mantras. “Conservatism” is a euphemism for greed and false pride that she trumpeted.
    Though intellectually depressed, ordinary Americans know that they are getting screwed but they have not yet connected the dots. Sooner or later they will associate the names of Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan and the financial sector (and their lobbyists friends) with the “free market” rubbish that glorifies money and greed above service. Your blog is one of the few places where an ordinary person can get an education on topical connections.
    I have often wondered as to how and why Fundamentalist Christians relate to a political party inspired by Rand. Is it something in the water?

  14. optimax says:

    When I hired-out on the railroad 31 years ago, an old-head gave me “Atlas Shrugged” and said it was a good railroad story. Read that way it was a corker. The romance was industrial and industry was romanticised but did like the way she honored the work-ethic and showed capital is created by intelligence and labor. She showed how merging capital and government bred incomptence, corruption and decay. She made the industrialists the new aristicrats and thought it was was natural for them to order the serfs around or foul the air or water. She was unsustainable, a carbon ash-heap, but so was Mickey Spillane, filling the air with carbonite exhaust.
    Tried reading her objectivist crap but gave it up early as bunk and am sticking with Mickey Spillanes more pragmatic point of view–avoid all bullits.
    Clifford a Tyler, thanks for the info, confirms my observations. Not much time to post these days but will be reading.

  15. Tyler says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Juarez has been a corrupt hellhole for as long as I can remember, but that hasn’t stopped some foolhardy coworkers of mine from heading down there. I haven’t heard one that doesn’t have a local cop exhorting them for a few hundred dollars or else they go to jail.
    As far as your solution, I will reiterate that the Border Patrol has its own operators, trained by JSOC, in the form of BORTAC. I imagine that BORTAC, which has the same mission as JSOC but with a focus on what goes on south of us, has had the same thoughts you have about decapitating the senior leadership.
    On the other hand, I believe they realise the same thing I do: This thing is like a hydra, not a dragon, and that its going to be the line agents on the SW border who are going to be hit the hardest by this. This includes their families and friends too, as the cartels have no compunctions about killing anyone even remotely involved. You only need see the slaying of the Mexican marine’s family after his funeral to witness that.
    So that being said, I imagine you will see the true militarization of the Border Patrol, followed by denouncements of this from the usual ACLU and La Raza mouthpieces about the rights of “undocumented migrants” being violated while agents fight for their lives on a nightly basis. Much of the cartels’ violence is reserved for each other in power struggles and shows of force towards the government. If it came out that the US government was targeting them, it would more than likely give them a target to align against and turn their force north.
    Only Mexico City tops Phoenix for kidnappings in the world, I might add. I imagine that the extreme violence common south of the border wouldn’t be that hard to import up north.
    Of course, I could be wrong and overstating the results of any assassination policy and you could be certainly be right. I do bow to your experience on this matter.
    But that being said do you see the fallout from the killing of the cartel’s brass being worth it in the end?

  16. Graeme says:

    Leaving sovereignty issues aside for a moment what would you hold to be the objective of targeting high level traffickers/corrupt officials and bankers in Mexico?
    If it was merely to undermine their organizational structure and reduce the inflow of drugs through Mexico, I could see it suceeding. Though I’m not certain violence would necessarily decrease.
    If the objective is lowering the actual level of drugs supplied to america however, I’m not sure it would work. Supply might be shifted to other routes, or even to increased domestic American production , where due process would prevent a JSOC strategy.
    What exactly did you have in mind as the aim of this course of action? I may have simply missed it. Thanks, and it was a good post by the way, I enjoyed the intelligent commentary on all three issues.

  17. optimax says:

    I meant Objectivism.
    Have you seen this?

  18. Walter says:

    I hear over and over again on my job the corruption of American local police, DEA, FBI, US military, etc. I dont know if these stories are true, but they happen so often, the descriptions are so vivid and by people who dont seem to have any motive to lie to me that it seems highly probable that the corruption is ubiquitous. I regularly hear stuff like “They (government) will never end the drug trade because there is too much money in it…they could wipe out the drug trade in a day if they wanted to, but they dont want to stop it because everyone is getting paid.”
    Its like the corruption in our political system; the corruption on Wall Street that may take us down at any moment…too much money being made for morality to win in USA today. I hope I am wrong.

  19. RAISER William says:

    Seems to be a contradiction. With regard to Muslim terrorism you state: “This vulnerability to small group radicalization is a phenomenon that will persist. It is only made worse by the invasion and occupation of Muslim countries by Western forces.” Here I agree.
    Then you push for the use of US force against the drug trade coming through Mexico. Seems that would encourage the same kind of anti-American blow-back we’re experiencing in the Middle-East, particularly, as suggest earlier, in reaction to the inevitable collateral damage.
    As long as there is a strong demand for drugs, I think there will be a supply. Knock off one set of suppliers and others will arise. The more difficult the supply chain, the more profit for those who succeed, thus there will always be those who try, and succeed.
    The only “solution” that I see is the one suggested: legalize. Not a “great” solution, but the most workable option.

  20. Cieran
    A bunch of jobless wastrels indeed.
    May I invite you to read about Kevin the Teenager and then take a look at a little something I prepared earlier.
    Feel free to send it to any Randians you suspect could be annoyed by it 🙂

  21. David Habakkuk says:


    I have no doubt that not having done much in the way of real work has something to do with the propensity of an Ayn Rand to spout gibberish. But, as with Marxism-Leninism, one is dealing with a pseudo-religious cult, and — also with Marxism-Leninism — the intellectual roots of the cult go back a long way.

    There is a very interesting treatment of arguments about individualism in both Britain and France in the years immediately before and immediately after the French Revolution, in the Economic Sentiments, the study of Adam Smith and the Marquis de Condorcet which Emma Rothschild published back in 2001.

    One of the things she brings out is that faith in free markets emerges in part as a reaction to a climate of crippling restriction. Under Louis XVI, the campaign to dismantle such restrictions was led by the Controller-General, Turgot, who presented his arguments at the famous Lit de Justice held in 1776.

    Among his adversaries on that occasion was the Advocate-General, Antoine Louis Séguier, who argued that the freedom Turgot advocated would ‘soon transform itself into license’, and that ‘this principle of wealth would become a principle of destruction, a source of disorder.’

    A further conservative ‘theme’ covered in her discussion emerges in response to events after 1789, when the Enlightenment scepticism about religion took on a militant — and indeed quasi-religious — form. In essence, this was that human beings are in some sense essentially religious creatures, so the natural consequence of the secularisation advocated by the philosophers of the Enlightenment was that religious emotions — and in particular millenarian longings — would be projected onto secular objects, with disastrous results.

    So commenting on the Marquis de Condorcet’s Sketch Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, the ‘ultra-royalist’ writer Louis de Bonald wrote that it had helped to understand the ‘inconceivable phenomenon’ of the revolutionary state, in which men ‘coldly commanded their destructive hordes to the desolation and death’ of their fellow citizens.

    This was, Bonald claimed, the ‘final production of the ‘destructive philosophy of the eighteenth century, or ‘the Apocalypse of this new Gospel.’

    Another interesting lesson of Emma Rothschild’s study is that the notion the notion of the ‘invisible hand’ as actually put forward by Adam Smith was much more limited notion than it subsequently became. In the cruder forms which have been very much in vogue recently, it actually represents individualism becoming a religion — the belief that a system of purely self-interested property-owning individuals naturally generates a benevolent equilibrium.

    One can contrast this with the Marxist vision — which does indeed derive from Rousseau — that the destruction of private property will mean that individuals cease to be self-interested, thereby generating a benevolent equilibrium.

    What that actually generated, in Russia and elsewhere, was the concentration of all property in the hands of the State — and a system of crippling and dehabilitating restriction. In turn, the evident problems of this create a reaction — the response of Ayn Rand to the Bolsheviks is a much more vulgar and corrupt version of the responses of figures like Condorcet to the restrictions on commerce in eighteenth-century France. It also anticipates the responses of many young members of the Soviet elite to the stifling system in which they grew up.

    A tragedy however is that the patently disastrous nature of Marxism-Leninism did not lead to repudiation of quasi-religious visions. Instead it led to a reversion to crudely simplistic versions of the ‘invisible hand’, in which a system of actors motivated by the ‘licence’ which frightened Séguier is supposed to generate a benevolent equilibrium. The possibility that ‘licence’ could become ‘a principle of destruction, a source of disorder’ seems to be beyond the comprehension of many of today’s economists.

    But perhaps — whatever else can be said against Bonald’s ideas – that demonstrates that he was partly right about the propensity of religious emotions to displace themselves onto secular objects.

  22. Cato the Censor says:

    1. Why is going to war in Mexican territory (that’s basically what’s being argued for here) more feasible politically than legalizing marijuana? If that contention is true which I don’t dispute, doesnt’ that say something about how terribly screwed up the USA is?
    2. Rousseau can conceivably be characterized as an intellectual ancestor of Lenin. He can also be plausibly identified as the inspiration for such things as Montessori schools. Please name something benevolent associated with Ayn Rand, other than an overly melodramatic Gary Cooper movie with an absurd plot premise.

  23. JohnH says:

    Cool graphic accompanying this post! What is its origin and source?
    I assume it’s related to your comment about consensus and actually means something like “Get together!”
    Also, your comment about Rousseau is rather curious. Rousseau is better known as the father of romanticism and as a foe of conventional wisdom, especially religious dogma. I don’t see how this line of thinking could possibly lead inexorably Leninism.

  24. Arun says:

    Radicalization of Muslim youth – is it fair to define it as in this article
    “… the relentless shift in the focus of Islamists from the five pillars of the faith – Kalama, Namaj, Roza, Zakat and Haz to the obligation and rewards of Jihad.”
    i.e., when the Muslim young man is more focused on Jihad than the traditional five pillars of Islam, then he is radicalized, otherwise not?
    Second question – is there something qualitatively or quantitatively different with the current radicalization (current = post-Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan) compared to the previous ages? I mean, Islam has always had its radicals in the above sense.
    Why I ask – I saw an article that says that Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” (1988) briefly describes a radicalization of Muslim youth in Great Britain, which people were refusing to recognize. This occurred before the Kuwait/Iraq War and before significant (other than Afghanistan) visible US sponsorship of violence in the Muslim world. In which case, are we misunderstanding things?

  25. Binh says:

    We should be primarily inerested in the “big” people to include corrupt officials and bankers.
    We ought to start that process in Washington, not Mexico. I would argue that the policies of the Obama administration, care of Geithner, Bernake, and Summers are more of a threat to the nation than Mexican drug lords.

  26. VietnamVet says:

    To paraphrase Paul Krugman, the last decade was A Big Zero.
    Next year more cars will be sold in China than in North America. American is fighting two wars that will not end until the last American Soldier leaves at a cost of a million dollars per boot on the ground. China has just inaugurated the world’s fastest high speed rail line.
    Recognition of our current dire straits is sinking into the American consciousness despite the best efforts of corporate media and the Obama Administration. Just as the Great Depression led to the rise of extremists politics, the Great Recession will birth its own extremists here.
    The only new source of cash to fund crony capitalists, from General Motors, to Boeing and Pfizer or INOVA Hospital is to legalized drugs. Possible if Americans revolt against being forced to pay $15,200 per year out of their paychecks to private insurance companies for crappy medical service and the value of the dollar keeps sinking due to borrowing money from China to fight two unwinnable wars.

  27. DaveGood says:

    Since America is prepared to see it’s nieghbours and itself go down in flames rather then do the damn obvious and legalize may I suggest the following….
    Drug cartels function on the scale they do because of the active help they recieve from the “Financial community”.
    If we started hanging two or three bankers every friday from Brooklyn bridge and the tower of London….. wealthy middle class white guys… we’d make a serious dent in their operations.
    However I fear even that is far too late.
    The head of the UN organization tasked with tracking the money laundering operations of International cartels has said that that at least 350 billion dollars was cycled by the drug cartels into American and British banks during the financial crisis of the last two years. That 350 billion was used to help prop them up.
    Essentially Drug barons bought US and British banks, the money is now laundered, clean and untraceable.
    And Drug barons now own your morgatge and your future,

  28. DaveGood says:

    Where is the evidence for your statement that legalizing drugs will automatically increase the number of addicts?
    Or did you just pluck that out of the air because it looks like common sense to you?
    Take a look at Portugal, they “legalised” all drugs years ago, up too and including Heroin. ( It is legal to possess up to ten days supply).
    Portugals “Drug\ addict” problem has fallen and is far, far lower the the USA’s.
    America’s “Drug Problem” is entirely of it’s own making.

  29. Cloned Poster says:

    He did not suceed, let us see modus operandi

  30. Patrick Lang says:

    Why do you want to choose between the two groups? pl

  31. Patrick Lang says:

    Arun, or is it “Harun?”
    No. A Muslim’s position on the nature of his religious duty has to do with his understanding of the roots of law, not the five pillars.
    I don’tthink that the currect wave of millennial Islamism is different in kind from many others in the past. pl

  32. Patrick Lang says:

    You must be a literature person, like me.
    On the other hand we have, “man is born free and is everywhere in chains,” and the whole concept that in a state of nature people are free and frolicsome running around in their birthday suits but that the kind of civilization that existed in Rousseau’s time was bad and restrictive and should br torn down and replaced with something other. pl

  33. First Mexico truly had a popular revolution in 1917. Like all revolutions eventually seized upon by others for their own purposes. The almost insatiable demand for illegal drugs in US has caused the revolution to be further betrayed. But is is of interest that first the FBI and J.Edgar Hoover feared fight drug activity on the basis it would corrupt his “G” men because of the product and money involved. DEA is not well staffed or managed and interesting on how the Drug Wars and their links to terrorist activity are constantly downplayed by Congress and the Executive Branch. Clearly DEA should be part of DHS not DOJ which should be confined litigation only as its principal mission. Return TSA to DOT and DHS has plenty of room for the 75,000 DOJ employees that have almost nothing to do with “Justice”! The FBI and Office of Justice Assistance fit nicely the DHS mission. Investigation, incarceration, and enforcement of criminal drug laws fits nicely within the DHS portfolio. By the way no one in DOJ ever makes public a laundry list of the criminal laws that overlap between drugs and terrorism! Why? DOJ does not want anyone to know that even the TALIBAN and AQ are making hay off of the international criminal drug trade. With the acknowledgement of illegal drug use by many political candidates it does seem that political correctness prohibits open discourse on why drug use is so heavy in the US. Ah how the OPIUM WARS now look in retrospect. Properly labeled at least by those who fought the Eurpoean and US drug traders in CHINA. Irony of ironies. Let’s at least stop trying to indicate that criminal drug gangs are somehow not “Terrorists”!

  34. zanzibar says:

    I always suffer cognitive dissonance when I compare the rhetoric of the objectivists to their actions.
    Alan Greenspan seems a good example. A Rand acolyte who extolled the virtues of capitalism but always acted to intervene in markets as Fed chairman to benefit his Wall Street compatriots. As we see now he “consults” with PIMCO which has used an investment strategy of selling to the Treasury and the Fed securities that would have been worth much less if it was left to the market. Bill Gross screaming financial Armageddon if the taxpayer did not take over the losses in his portfolio of agency debt and MBS.
    Blankfein and his predecessors Paulson and Rubin at Goldman Sachs doing “Gods work” as vocal proponents of unregulated financial markets when Goldman’s speculations where in the money but using Goldman’s purchase of our political leadership to be made good by taxpayers on speculations that went awry. And this purchase insures them from any prosecution for selling securities that their own trading desks were short while not disclosing such a material fact.
    It is rather obvious that many of the Randians who run our government and corporations believe in free markets as long as that means profits from leveraged speculation remain private but become communists when they need their losses to be socialized.
    As we have seen with the recent health reform sausage being made in DC the par for the current course is the $600 million reported lobbying effort by the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations.
    The conclusion that I have to come to is what we have is a convergence of the state and politically well connected corporations. Transfer of wealth from working and middle class Americans to the elites. Massive obligations on future generations to benefit a few now.
    The left now argues that capitalism itself has failed while the right claim that Obama is a socialist while he transfers taxpayer funds to the corporate titans. In my opinion what we have is Mussolini’s definition of fascism. The merging of the political elite and the financial elite. Our constitution and the rule of law have been left to the wayside as the elite are now above the law.
    Those more astute than me have a better notion of where we are heading politically. My instinct is that as our financial chickens come home to roost our politicians will demagogue us and take us into a larger war to prevent an accounting of their corruption and treason.

  35. Arun says:

    Col. Lang:
    Harun is Arabic. Arun is Sanskrit, with the same Indo-European root with the Slavic Zoran, though with slightly different meaning.

    Can you expand a little on the (mis?)understanding of Muslim law that leads a young man to jihad as his primary duty?

  36. JohnH says:

    PL–OK, so Rousseau thought that the kind of civilization that existed in his time was bad and restrictive and should be torn down or replaced. I dare say that many in the American colonies thought the same thing, which is why they got the h*ll out of Europe to frolic in nature, the prevailing French view of America at the time. Then the colonists fought the Revolution, which probably had as much influence on Marxism as Rousseau ever did. Prior to the American Revolution, replacing monarchies blessed by God was something unthinkable.

  37. Patrick Lang says:

    No. The American revolutionaries did not want to change the essential nature of their societies. Surely, John Adams or Jefferson do not strike you as men embarked on creating a radically different form of society? pl

  38. Patrick Lang says:

    In spite of all the misplaced moralizing over here, it is not really possible to say that a life devoted to violent jihad is a “misunderstanding” of Islam law. Who is to judge what is Islamic law? There is no hierarchy in their religion. pl

  39. Byron Raum says:

    There’s one comment I would like to make about the free market. A free market only works until all the capital gets concentrated, either in the hands of one entity, or in the hands of several entities that can act in concert. When that happens, it is no longer a free market. That’s obvious, almost by definiton it belongs to the people who own the capital, and then will suffer from ensuing corruption, stagnation and other vile things that we tend to associate more with over-government.
    No human organization is perfect, and everything that has ever worked in human history has worked because everyone has been answerable to someone else. This is why democracy works – everyone answers, even the Prime Decider, even if he thinks he doesn’t. Unless the owners and potential owners of the “free” market are answerable to someone else, we are going to have the same problems that arise whenever power is concentrated in the hands of those who think themselves better than the rest of us.

  40. Cieran says:

    I’d never seen a picture of Hubbard’s electrometer, and it sure looks pointless! But I think the best picture is the one next door, of Charles Langs’ invention. Now that’s a technology worthy of some “support”…
    Kevin the teenager looks entirely too much like I did as a teenager. Hopefully, I behaved somewhat better. Hopefully….
    David Habakkuk:
    All I can say about your comment is the same thing I always find myself thinking when I read your thoughts here, namely “thank you for sharing your insights’.
    Colonel Lang:
    You are definitely grouchier than normal, and I’m loving every minute of it.
    Get well soon!

  41. Cold War Zoomie says:

    For those of you thinking the Mexican people will join the cartels and rise against a US intervention, you are wrong. Sure, a few young guys might, but not enough to make a difference. The people are tired of the violence and corruption that are byproducts of the drug trade. They are stuck between the ruthless cartels and the corrupt, ineffective government.
    Go live and work down there and you’d understand.
    Going back to the earlier post…someone talked about using NSA resources to target these guys. We did that back in the 1980s during Clifford’s days, back when we had resources due to the Soviets meddling around down there. Back then we could quickly swing resources off government targets right over to drug cartels, and from what I’ve been reading that is exactly what we did.
    When the Cold War ended, NSA started shutting down sites right and left. But the SOF guys now have tactical systems developed by NSA and others, and they have plenty of practice using them.

  42. optimax says:

    America was founded by hippies in 1965? I didn’t know that.

  43. JohnH says:

    PL–Absolutely. America was a radically different society from Europe, which is why people fled Europe. Instead of a rigid social order, America offered class mobility based on achievement, not birth. Instead of a ruling order based on the divine rights of kings, America depended on the consent of the governed. How much more radically different can you get?

  44. 1. “Ayn Rand” brought her alien Nietzschean fantasy world to the US not unlike Leo Strauss and his Neocon adepts…
    “Rand was born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum (Russian: Алиса Зиновьевна Розенбаум) in 1905, into a middle-class family living in Saint Petersburg. She was the eldest of the three daughters (Alisa, Natasha, and Nora) of Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum, largely non-observant Jews. Her father was educated as a chemist and became a successful pharmacist, eventually owning his own pharmacy and the building in which it was located.[9]”
    2. In my book “Dark Crusade” (London: IB Tauris, 2008) I include an analysis of the impact of the fascist “American Liberty League” on “conservative” US politics in the 1930s and post war era. I did not look into any connections with Rand but there may be some.
    3. From a traditional Christian perspective, one might say “Rand”‘s alien drivel/psycho-babble promotes avarice, (avaritia) a sin.
    4. For contrast to Rand and the Nietzschean (and other) materialists one might consult, for example, the writings of Rev.Denis Fahey, CS.Sp., a Holy Ghost Father. Father Fahey’s “Money Manipulation and the Social Order” and his book “The Church and Farming” are quite interesting. It seems to me that Pope Leo XIII and Pious XII, in particular, had worthwhile insights and teachings regarding economics in the “modern” era….

  45. David Habakkuk says:


    That there is a continuity with Lenin emerges clearly from Rousseau’s response to the philosopher Charles Borde, who argued that men in their primitive state must already have been fierce and aggressive:

    ‘Before those dreadful words thine and mine were invented, before there were men so abominable as to crave for superfluities while others starve of hunger, I should like to know just what our ancestors’ vices could have been.’

    From this kind of argument, the kind of utopian programme advocated by Marx would indeed seem to follow naturally enough — that the abolition of private property would, as it were, turn fallen human beings back into angels.

    In fairness to Rousseau, it should be said that he himself did not draw this conclusion — but rather insisted that the innocence he attributed to the ‘state of nature’ could not be recovered.

    But then, as often happens, a simple and emotionally appealing underlying idea had much more impact than the qualifications which were attached to it.

  46. Arun says:

    Well, Abdulmuttalab’s father thought he was misguided, and so spoke to the US embassy. What would a father-son debate have been like?

  47. turcopolier says:

    I know abt Jefferson's "war" against inherited privilege but I have lived too long to believe that your theory of alienation from European mores was more than that. We Americans do not believe in the idea of class, but we nevertheless have social classes. The "invisible" old rich are everywhere here. Pl
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  48. Binh says:

    PL: I don’t want to choose between the two groups, but at some point we have to pay the bills. I see corruption and financial mismanagement – which are leading to runaway deficits, zombie banks, and economic disintegration – as much more of a threat to the future of this country and its people than drug lords and their cohorts south of the border.

  49. The ability of the United States to conduct a JSOC operation against Mexican drug lords would depend upon it ability to act swiftly and precisely. The longer and sloppier the operation, the more problematical it would become – for precisely the same reasons that airstrikes in Af-Pak are problematical and why the decapitation of Saddam’s regime failed to kill the Iraqi dragon.
    This, in turn, would depend upon intelligence.
    Given the recent Christmas airline terrorist incident, where the government failed to respond despite a precise warning that the individual was dangerous, the question arises:
    How good is US intelligence, actually?

  50. Patrick Lang says:

    Too simplistic. There are all kinds of levels and different activities. DHS’ responsibility is to find a needle in a haystack on a global basis. JSOC intelligence is responsible for finding specific individuals engaged in continuous interaction in a bounded area. pl

  51. JohnH says:

    PL-You are probably right about the intentions of the Founding Fathers. After all, they were wealthy landowners, bankers, and businessmen, not about to fundamentally change things.
    Nonetheless, they defended what was–a fundamentally different society. Like it or not, they wrote the Declaration of Independence, which espoused freedom, democracy, and justice for all, all radical concepts. And, whether they liked it or not, they had to do this to rally the people. If the people did not like what the government was doing–unlike in Europe–they had choices. They could move to the frontier.
    So maybe Washington and Adams were using the rhetoric of freedom and democracy in the same cynical way that today’s leaders do. But what’s ironic is that the Declaration of Independence was probably read by future revolutionaries (Marxists, Leninists) as much as Rousseau was. But I doubt you’ll see that discussed in many high school history books.

  52. optimax says:

    Terrorist fries huevos on plane, America panics.
    Man arrested for getting sick on flight. Passengers and crew panic when man spends too much time in bathroom.
    What’s next? Airlines to shackle passengers to seats for security reasons.

  53. Too simplistic. There are all kinds of levels and different activities. DHS’ responsibility is to find a needle in a haystack on a global basis. JSOC intelligence is responsible for finding specific individuals engaged in continuous interaction in a bounded area. pl
    Fact: The United States failed to locate and kill Saddam Hussein during the Iraq invasion and he remained at large for some time thereafter.
    Fact: Despite locating Osama at Tora Bora, he escaped and remains at large to this day.
    Fact: The Afghan opium trade continues despite massive direct US military presence in the vicinity.
    So I repeat my question: How good, precisely, is U.S. intelligence?

  54. turcopolier says:

    You prefer the outcome of the French Revolution? Pl
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  55. turcopolier says:

    It is very difficult to find individuals. That doesn't proove anything. We didn't find Pancho Villa either but we destroyed his force and prevented another invasion of the US a la Columbus, NM, pl
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  56. CWZ,
    Some counternarcotics capabilities in the Caribbean area were shut down owing to the relaxed drug policies of the Clinton Administration and to “budget” issues as capabilities were shifted to other priorities.
    As I seeem to recall, Republicans were critical of the Clinton counterdrug policies in the 1990s…say 10 or 15 years ago. [to repeat: 10 or 15 years ago].
    Meanwhile…2010 coming up…drugs and illegal immigration issues…a no-brainer.
    It is not just Mexico and Colombia…Guatemala is a problem as is El Salvador, for example.
    As I have said on another thread, we have to work with these governments, if these governments wish to work with us, to overcome the threat to all of us. The problem is that corruption runs so deeply the narcos own a lot of politicians and government officials complicating the matter of bi-lateral and multi-lateral cooperation.
    And let’s be frank, to what degree is organized crime in the United States involved in the narcotics area???? I am NOT referring to “Hispanic” organized crime but to our own old fashioned Italian (da boyz from Siciliy, Naples, and Calabria, for example) and Jewish (Lansky etal) organized crime networks…and so on.
    And then let us ask ourselves to what degree do these “domestic” organized crime groups have political influence inside the Beltway? Then we thrown in the “Hispanic” lobby and the narcos.
    We can ask ourselves about the seemingly “proper” business and banking types who have no problem laundering narco and mob money through the banking system…after all it helps pay the country club bills and the kids college education, the second home, the BMWs for husband and wife and kids and all that…what the heck, greed is good as Allen Greenspan and his mentor Ayn Rand say…
    Pogo theory holds.
    Being semi-retired these days, I am more concerned about my motorcyles, fishing, etc.

  57. JohnH says:

    “You prefer the outcome of the French Revolution?”
    Which one? 1789? 1830? 1848? 1872?
    Actually, none of the revolutions brought much except new ideas and rhetoric. France never become a modern society until WWI broke the back of the aristocracy. And it took WWII to usher in the welfare state. Today the country is overly dirigiste and class oriented for my tastes. But, you have to admit, they do provide well for their people.

  58. Patrick Lang says:

    Saddam Hussein? You clealry have never done this. As I said it is not easy to find individuals when they are being hidden. JSOC intellgence did find him in the end. Patience. Parience.
    UBL’s escape at Tora bors was the result of not being able to close theencirclement, not an intelligence failure. Now he is being hidden in tribal territory where US forces are not allowed to go.
    The Afghan opium trade continues because it the Afghan government is involved in the trade. Do you really think that US intelligence officials have any control over that?
    Ask Obama and Gates about that?

  59. Patrick Lang says:

    Which aristocracy do you want broken first here? pl

  60. Saddam Hussein? You clealry have never done this. As I said it is not easy to find individuals when they are being hidden. JSOC intellgence did find him in the end. Patience. Parience.
    Yeah, you’re right; I’ve not.
    However, I have studied the Dutch Revolt against Spain.
    When the Duke of Alba marched up to the Netherlands, he proceeded to implement a decapitation attack. The three leading Protestants were the Prince of Orange and the Counts Egmont and Horne. Alba literally decapitated Egmont and Horne, but Orange escaped.
    As a result, while the Netherlands were suppressed for several years, the revolt continued.
    Spain was never able properly to concentrate on the Netherlands. The Turks and Huguenots were causing problems; while relations with Elizabeth’s England deteriorated.
    Finally, about 15 years later, Spain was able to assassinate Orange. By that time, however, the Dutch revolt had consolidated; England was openly hostile; and a Huguenot takeover of France under Henry IV was a serious threat.
    In like manner, it is quite possible that one or more of the drug lord’s may escape. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and now Yemen divert our attention. Hugo Chavez, like Elizabeth, is an unfriendly influence in the area….

  61. turcopolier says:

    You ARE an idiot.
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  62. You ARE an idiot.
    It’s a free country and you are entitled to your opinion.
    I note, however, that you still have not answered my question.

  63. Patrick Lang says:

    I meant that JohnH was an idiot, not you. I don’t know what question you are talking about. pl

  64. confusedponderer says:

    I have come to see Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, much like the ‘neo-liberalism’ that went on a rampage after the fall of the Warsaw Pact, as a fighting ideology. That point is crucial.
    In the Anglo-Saxon sphere the European Social-Democrat model apparently never really caught on. For use in America it was too tainted by the association with ‘socialism’.
    In my view Neo-Liberalism in its pure form was conceived as the Anglo-Saxon counter-ideology of choice to the Soviet economic model, and thus from the onset and by nature the antagonistic polar extreme.
    In my view Ayn Rand’s Objectivism through the means of egoistical individualism aims on the the deliverance of all mankind. More important than that, it is first of all and IMO quite simply a polar opposite of the collectivism she experienced during the early days of the Bolsheviks. That handily explains to me something as weird as her praise of the industrialist as an individual leader as opposed to a collectivist body.
    The problem is in my eyes that that the proponents of either ideology have forgotten how and why their articles of faith have come into the world, ignore historical context, and now adopted propaganda as an article of faith. In my (limited) experience economists and business studies people aren’t all that interested in such things.
    Rand’s ideas are available on the shelve, and they are readily available to allow to rationalise greed as an essentially virtuous act.
    Indeed, obviously, what’s good for Bear Stearns, ENRON, Madoff, Lehmann Brothers and Goldman Sachs is good for everybody else.
    In that sense, history has that oft cited sense of irony. If the economic crisis and the excesses of Wall Street are any indication, the two great counter ideologies to the left economic policies, Neo-Liberalism and Rand’s Objectivsm, are about to vindicate many a left critique of capitalism. Cheers to that.
    PS: David Habakkuk, WRC, Clifford Kiracofe – thanks for your, as usual, informative posts.

  65. Cold War Zoomie says:

    I’ve always wondered why we still have this air base:
    Joint Task Force Bravo
    All sorts of airplanes, big and small, can land there. Some of those airplanes can have all sorts of ELINT and SIGINT gear, and ways to talk to the JSOC peeps.

  66. Jib Halyard says:

    I always thought it was no coincidence that Ayn Rand originally came from Soviet Russia. It is doubtful the US could have ever created such a person, her popularity there notwithstanding.
    Her understanding of western, free-market societies seems to be on par with the caricatures of same created by Lenin’s propagandists, and about as subtle. The only difference is that she sided with the caricatures, while the Soviets did not.
    In fact her whole ethos seems like nothing more than a mirror image of communism. Her lurid fiction may have been set the US, but its real suject was the USSR.

  67. SAC Brat says:

    Rube me kept thinking “Why did the US give this Nigerian putz a visa”? Apparently here is why:
    Terror suspect kept visa to avoid tipping off larger investigation

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