Merry Christmas to all who view this website. It is my wish you will find hope in celebrating the birth of our Lord this year. May God bless you and your family this Christmas season.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Inside Delta Force, by Eric L. Haney, is an autobiographical take on one of our nation's most secretive military groups, Delta Force (referred to as "Delta"). Haney rose to the rank of Command Sergeant Major while in the United States Army, about half of that time in Delta. Since his retirement, he has used his training for bodyguard and other related civilian work. He is also producer of the CBS television series "The Unit", based on his book's account of Delta.
I enjoyed the first half of the book, mostly because of the grueling conditions that were presented to the men who wished to join. These men were no slouches-they already had been invited from Rangers and Green Berets (and likely other special forces groups) where they had all proven themselves to be first rate soldiers. The training mostly involved long marches with heavy backpacks. Teamwork, usually an essential in the military, was not allowed. The men were forced to work alone and rely on wits and guts. Over a hundred men attempted to make the cut, and twelve passed in Haney's class.
The second half of the book was less enjoyable, as I felt there was often too much detail about small things in the missions that was not too interesting. One detail NOT overlooked (or boring to me) was the lists of names of those killed in action. It is right to remember our fallen soldiers, and it is always a good reminder to pray for the dead.
Probably the most memorable thing about the book was the lists of altercations that we have been involved in around the world. From the perspective of the soldier, it can be downright confusing. At one point, a situation erupts in the middle east. Haney, expecting to be deployed, rushes back to base, only to find his group on the way to Grenada.
Ironically, the cover has a quote from Bill O'Reilly: "In this rapidly changing and dangerous world, U.S. Special Forces are vital to the security of all Americans. Read Inside Delta Force and learn what we are really up against." That seems like a line right out of the FOX noise playbook, and yet, I didn't get the feeling from this book that it was an outright endorsement of the war on terror. To be fair, it was written before 9/11, and the author adds a short chapter at the end regarding his thoughts on the post-9/11 world. Haney defends the United States Military's actions as generally good by implying that if we weren't, we'd have nuked them already.
That is an overly optimistic assessment of the situation. To add to that, he also writes that careerism is dead in the Army as the common goal of fighting terror has focused everyone to one goal. I'll allow to the fact that he wrote that shortly after 9/11 when that was likely the case for a short time, but it is surely no longer the case: humans are humans. The government and military will always be full of careerists and bureaucrats, working for personal gain rather than the mission.
Finally, the language in this book leaves something to be desired. We get it. The military is full of people with potty mouths. Does it need to be in print? The book would have been far better if the author had kept things at a PG level. Vulgarity does not add to anybody's tough guy persona-their actions certainly were tough enough. I do not recommend this book to most people due solely to the language. Most of the information learned from it can be learned from other sources. Ron Paul's A Foreign Policy of Freedom is good, so is anything by Pat Buchanon.
Do not read Inside Delta Force unless you are accustomed to a lot of cursing.
Ideology: **** (out of a possible 5)
Content:* (*** if language were cleaned up)
Total: **.5 Would be a ***.5 if the cursing were removed. Command Master Sergeant Haney, release a clean edition of the book and I'll buy it and recommend it!
I found a very promising story about the decline of abortion in Croatia.
Our Lady of Fatima reminded us to pray the Rosary for peace in the world. Let's not forget also how important it is to pray for an end to abortion.
George Bush, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, not even Ron Paul can end abortion. We can work to criminalize it (necessary!) but it is truly an issue of converting hearts and minds. This effort must begin and end with a lot of prayer.
If you are a pro-life Catholic, you have no excuse for not saying the Rosary at least once a week, if not more. It is far more important than any vote you will ever cast.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
There are a lot of people, I believe, who find many of Ron Paul's ideas refreshing and engaging. Furthermore, these people seem to understand that he is a man who has held fast to his beliefs for 10 terms of congress, voting no so many times as to earn the nickname "Dr. No". Agree with him or no, I think a lot of non-Paul supporters admire his courage and his seeming inability to pander to an audience.
The main issue is terror!
Terrorism is a serious issue and protecting ourselves is a natural and good thing. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones in violence that is motivated by those who would justify killing to further their message.
Ron Paul wants to solve the problem differently than almost all other presidential candidates: he wants the U.S. to get out of the Middle East (and all other countries) and stop aiding foreign governments. The non-interventionist approach has been argued by many and I'll simply offer links for you to explore these ideas. I'd prefer to focus on what a Ron Paul military will look like.
I'm not affiliated with the campaign in any way and these are all personal conjectures, so if he's said something contrary to what I am writing, let me know and I'll fix it!
First off, Congressman Paul wants to bring the troops out of Europe, Korea, Japan, and everywhere else we are. This situation would be very similar to us about 100 years ago, about the time we were flourishing with a growing nation, few enemies, and prosperity. No, the good ol' days weren't perfect, but we didn't concern ourselves with terrorists (my grandparents were concerned about Indians attacking them on the way to town) or much else around the world. Nor did we have too much mass media in our lives telling us what to fear next (people knew what to fear: disease, cold winters, hot summers, etc).
Now, we have a pretty large military at the moment, and not everyone would fit in all the Stateside bases. Likely, some old ones would be reactivated, and perhaps a new one or two would be created. Military careerists could choose to spend their entire 20 years in one location for family stability. Deployments would decrease dramatically with the exception of the Navy, which would cooperate with other Navies around the world and aide the United States diplomatically (not "diplomatically" as a euphemism, but truly diplomatically, as has been the job of navies for hundreds of years). However, even sailors would likely see less time at sea, as they'd not be deployed (for the next 4-8 years) to the Middle East for nine months at a time, but rather enjoy more liberty cruises and close-to-home exercises.
The military budget would shrink due to not paying the massive overseas costs, but Paul has no naivety about the need for national security and a strong military. Likely pay would continue to increase, R&D would increase, and our special forces programs would continue to be well funded. I imagine a President Paul would cut through a lot of the BS funding that goes to contractors (if you've ever heard of supply costs in the military being ridiculous, you've heard correctly) and open up market alternatives to save money while updating gear.
Our country has programs in place already to find rogue nukes in the U.S. Focusing on us, while updating and enforcing our immigration laws to find out who is in the country will keep any would be criminal forces on their toes. And slimming down the massive bureaucracy (eliminating Homeland Security) will help as well.
I don't believe Ron Paul has said anything about getting rid of spies and special agents. Yes, he opposes some of the uses of the CIA, but I don't see him pulling every single spy we have out of every single foreign country. Espionage is important to a strong national defense.
On a separate note, I'd like to point out that China and Russia are wary of our growing American Hegemony. It is only a matter of time before they begin to enact checks on us by way of military buildup. Their advantage is eerily similar to ours over the Soviets 20 years ago: lack of empire to maintain. Yes, they have economic advantages to us, which over time, will not bode well for our country's national security.
I shudder in horror to think of an open war with those two while simultaneously fighting terrorism in the Middle East.
Even if he were pro-life (pdf alert, but he has good points about the Republicans) and pro-market (he's neither), I would not vote for Dennis Kucinich, who I wouldn't trust as a Commander in Chief.
Ron Paul is no peacenik. He is a man who understand the current national security situation. He is against aggressive war but not "just war". He is a man who can make the country safer from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Mr. Vance argues that one should not enlist in the United States Military. This begins as a principled viewpoint based (it seems) on the idea that one should not cooperate with evil, and he views the war effort in Iraq as evil. He further goes on to explain that one of the big reasons the military is able to recruit so many young men and women every year (180,000 in 2007 alone!) is due to the cash bonuses offered to young recruits, and then goes on to compare their being hired to be soldiers as to those who sell drugs or their bodies on the streets.
Mr. Vance seems to operate under the assumption that everybody knows/believes the Iraq war is unjust and therefore is prostituting himself.
Mr. Vance's view is FAR from a Catholic view (and Mr. Vance speaks as a Protestant, not a Catholic), which allows two Catholics in good standing to argue whether a war is just or not, but NO room for argument whether selling one's body (as if one has the right to sell it) is anything but a mortal sin.
Catholics will recognize the incongruity here, but I'll explain a little more for my non-Catholic readers. Cooperating in evil is just as evil as the person who commits the act. This is why it is not only a mortal sin (punishable by auto-excommunication) to have an abortion but it is also equally wrong and punishable to aid somebody, through counsel or physical means, to have an abortion. However, it would not be a mortal sin to vote for a pro-choice politician if he was the lesser of two evils.
Similarly, while the current and former Popes have spoken out against the Iraq war, neither have given advice or orders to soldiers and sailors that are currently deployed fighting this war. Neither did they give any advice concerning those who might be considering the career option of going military. Pope John Paul II was extremely anti-war (almost to an un-Catholic degree) but he never tried to make the point that joining the military was mortally sinful or poisonous to the soul.
Men and women in good standing with the Church may disagree on the war. Furthermore, with the huge amount of propaganda that is pro-war, anti-Islam circling in Christian communities, it is understandable that many believe that joining the military is the right Christian thing to do. There certainly is a concern about the rise of Islam in the world, and the rate at which it is growing. Regardless of his views on the military, Mr. Vance should realize if is a Christian he ought to have an interest in the rise of Islam in the world. However, he offers no alternate path to combating false religions.
Finally, Christians should re-up and spend MORE time in the military. We need more men and women who know right and wrong to be defending our nation. A good Christian voice might have been all that was necessary to stop many of the abuses that have happened in the war, whether it be prison scandals or waterboarding. Many (if not all) of the horrors that happen during war happen because somebody with an ill-formed conscience is unable to make principled decisions.
How do we combat Islam outside of joining the military? As our Lady of Fatima said, "Pray the Rosary for peace in the world". I'll cover this more in depth another time.
I shudder to imagine our military might unmitigated by decent Christians.
My comments are offered in charity, not enmity, Mr. Vance. I welcome a response.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Because this site deals with affairs of the Church as well as personal thoughts and attitudes towards that, there is the danger I could publish something that is incorrect or even at odds with Church teaching.
I don't want that, and I will try very hard to avoid it, as I see false witness as very damaging.
Regardless, no one is perfect. I'm asking you to add a comment if you see me write anything that is against Church teaching or incorrect and I'll fix my post.
The same goes for any other topics. Thanks.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
You needn't agree with everything said over at one of my favorite websites, Lew Rockwell.com , in order to enjoy it. An open mind and the will to learn are the only prerequisites for enjoying the articles that are printed there.
The Lew Rockwell site sprang from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. From what I understand, they were forced to separate from the Institute once Ron Paul ran for President of the United States early this year due to campaign laws and the tax free status of the Institute. (Somebody correct me if I'm wrong here) Regardless, it retained its format of offering a dozen daily articles written by a semi-regular (and in some cases, regular) group that are either formally or informally attached to the Austrian School of Economics. Also included are a handful of off-site links to interesting news that might include science articles, food articles, and other random but fun ways to waste a little time in front of the computer.
The Lew Rockwell contributers are a mix of paleo-libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, paleo-conservatives, and more. The site describes itself as "anti-state, anti-war, pro-market". Generally, those most comfortable describing their politics in left-right terminology will be a bit confused until they check out the Nolan chart and see how libertarians have been trying to make the silly "left-right" continuum a two dimensional graph, which is far more descriptive of political beliefs.
What's a Paleoconservative?
Paleos are generally those whose beliefs are consistent with the Old Right in values and philosophy. Check out Wikipedia's description which is far better and more thorough than I have time to write. Generally speaking, a paleo's philosophy is generally going to be in line with an old time conservativism that American Catholics should be comfortable and familiar with.
The libertarian and free market discussions on Rockwell's site are perhaps more foreign to Catholics, but I strongly recommend spending some time reading about the Austrian School. It is thoroughly Catholic, as argued for in Thomas Woods' book, The Church and the Market , which is an excellent and interesting read. If you are concerned with how a Catholic ought to view the economy and the free market, if you want to learn more reasons that socialism is evil, if you have a friend who keeps using the term "social justice", then you should read this and educate yourself.
I'll talk about that all later though.
If you are still wondering who you should vote for in the upcoming primaries, and you are Catholic, I suggest you head on over to this blog and read some very good arguments for Ron Paul from a historical Catholic perspective. I intend to add them to the ol' blogroll as soon as I figure out how to use it.