Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Link Love 6

Interesting post over at Parapundit: what is the utility of the term "Islamofascism?"

I have, or used to have, a predisposition to libertarianism, but the "graphic novel" The Probability Broach must be the siliest thing I have ever seen. In a nutshell, a police detective is cast from a dystopian version of our world (where guns, cigarettes, and private cars are banned, and even the FCC has black helicopters) into a parallel universe where there is no government, the police are private contractors, and everyone lives in peaceful, prosperous, and high-tech harmony. The officer meets the alternative version of himself, who, oddly enough, turns out to be a full-blooded Ute Indian. (I'm not sure how this works.) When the officer remarks on this in surprise, his Ute alternate replies, "Does it matter?" Well, duh! In a world where race doesn't matter, the random probability of anyone being a full-blooded anything rapidly approaches zero! But this is only the most obvious problem. "If men were Angels, we would have no need of government," The Federalist wrote. But we aren't angels, so in a truly, full-monty libertarian world, the strong would prey on the weak.

I saw the movie Jarhead for the first time on DVD this week. A good movie: it's depiction of military life, and specifically its grunt's-eye portrayal of Gulf War I, rang true. Yes, the writer put words in soldiers' mouths that seemed highly unlikely ("It's all about oil!" "The U.S. gave Saddam his weapons!"), but these are small quibbles.

One scene in particular struck me with its poignancy: the war is over, and the soliders are riding a bus in what appears to be an improptu victory parade. A middle-aged man, clearly a Vietnam verteran and wearing the frayed remains of a fatigue jacket, boards the bus to shake hands with the Marines, congratulating and thanking them for a job well done. "You fought it clean!" he says, tears of gratitude streaming down his face for the men who had redeemed his honor and the honor of his service.

What a crybaby.

Seriously, on reflection, I decided that the Marines were unsuited for counterinsurgency work. It isn't just that their mission is too serve as amphibious shock troops. It's that, when the time comes to, say, mark your perimeter with the severed heads of your enemies, you can't really rely on men whose sense of honor is wrapped up in how clean the fight was.

In contrast, consider the HBO series Rome. Whatever the moral shortcomings--and they are legion--of imperial Rome, these men knew what it took to run an empire.

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