….Rand Paul is not Daniel Webster. But the comparison is an important one: it gives us a sense of just how far the goal posts have been moved. There was once a time when Senators and Representatives were expected to plead their case before the American people on the House and Senate floors. Debate and discussion by leading statesmen in public forums was considered an essential part of popular democracy. Through such discussion Congressmen were held accountable and through this forum Congressmen would communicate to their constituents, and at times, to the nation. There is a strong correlation between the decline of popular discourse on the Senate and House floors and the eclipse of the national legislature by the technocrats of a bloated executive branch.
By bucking all of these sad trends Senator Paul has done our Republic a great favor. This is true even if the critics are correct. Senator Paul may be an unprincipled scally-wag who is using this filibuster purely for personal advantage, but this does not curtail his accomplishment. Senator Paul has proven than a rising politician can publicly declare his opposition to the establishment consensus and not be marginalized by doing so. Indeed, as the massive wave of twittering that accompanied the senator’s stand suggests, Rand Paul has benefited, not suffered, from his decision to take the ruling class consensus head on.
It is good to see T. Greer back after a long hiatus
Small Wars Journal (Octavian Manea) –The American Way of War after COIN’s Waterloo: An Interview with Fred Kaplan
OM: Can we talk and point to a “Petraeus Generation”? An Accidental Generation? Or by design? I mean most of “the insurgents” (the COINdinistas) shared a common cognitive map or were influenced to some extent by the same “big ideas”: the classic COIN masters (Galula, Thompson, Kitson, Larteguy), classic COIN campaigns (Malaya, Vietnam) or by the “moot-wah” wars of the 1990s.
FK: The key thing is that an entire generation of officers has fought, and trained for, COIN-style wars – and no other kind. This is bound to have some kind of enduring impact. Also the fact that the Soviet Union has since imploded means that, much as some might like to do so, the military can’t go back to the firepower-intensive wars (“the American way of war”; there’s no logical enemy for them. Hard to say.) Some of these officers were influenced by the “big ideas,” but the bigger influence was their experience. As far back as the mid-’80s, when the generals of the day were referring to any conflict smaller than major combat operations as “Military Operations Other Than War” (moot-wah), the junior officers were engaged in precisely those kinds of conflicts (Salvador, Somalia, Bosnia, etc.) – and they sure felt like war to the officers. Iraq and Afghanistan, especially from 2007 on, solidified this sense.
I’m a fan of Octavian’s interview series on COIN – hope he continues.
INTELWIRE.com – Inspire 10: Still Sucks
I guess I’m never going to get to write a self-congratulatory post about how I got a shout-out in Inspire, because I still don’t have anything much good to say about it.
Issue No. 10 of the English-language vehicle for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula just came out, and while it’s crawled back from the precipice of copy-editing collapse hinted at in its last issue, it’s still a sad little effort that gets taken awfully seriously.
The “hit list” of targets named by Al Qaeda and friends repeatedly over the years is neither fresh nor surprising. The recycled content remains recycled, the original content remains uninspired. The flashy graphics remain flashy.
The part of the publication that most concerns U.S. counterterrorism officials is, of course, “Open-Source Jihad,” AQAP’s how-to guide for “lone wolf” terrorists. Regular readers will recall that this feature was self-parody from the beginning, and it’s descended further into absurdity with this issue’s advice that Western mujahideen should try to cause traffic accidents and carry out ninja-style assassinations. And no, I’m not joking, that’s really their advice….
The Sophmores of jihad…..
Not the Singularity (Bob Morris) –Clay Claiborne banned from Daily Kos for Speaking the Truth about Syria
Eeben Barlow – “The Specialists”
Steven Pressfield Online (Shawn Coyne) –The Difference Between Self-Discipline and Self-Flagellation
Boing Boing – Invisibility Cloak Demoed at TED2013
The National Interest – Spengler’s Ominous Prophecy
WPR (Dr. Steve Metz) –Strategic Horizons: Iraq’s Biggest questions still Unanswered for US
Aeon (James Palmer) – The Bailinghou
Scientific American (Heather Pringle) –The Origin of Human Creativity Was Surprisingly Complex
The Atlantic (Ta-Nehisi Coates) –‘Lucrative Work for Free Oportunity’