Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Few reads to start Samhain


Santíssima Muerte

Mass murder of 72 in Mexico

This Sunday night the Ango-American celebration of Halloween has it's roots in the old Celtic harvest festival of Samhain. So calling on my Celtic roots, here is a small harvest of reads to ponder over a cider or Otoberfest brew.

Getting right into the mood. comes this post by Mark Zafranski who introduces Charles Cameron a regular guest-blogger at zenpundit who filed this post that connects a series of evil dots from Mexico, Africa and Zarqawi.

Mark's intro:
Zen here - I think Charles has hit upon a primal psychological mechanism that comes into full flower as societies break down and war begins to shade into warlordism. We have seen this repeatedly in history from Tamerlane’s mounds of skulls to Khmer Rouge killing fields. Mad Barons, Dogmeat Generals, Friekorps kapteins and butchers long since forgotten by history- there’s a gravitational pull toward atavistic, symbolic, destruction as social norms erode under the corrosive effects of escalating violence.

Beginning with Mexico, Mark adds his comments to extracts from Charle's post. Reading it should come with a disclaimer for mature subject matter. Charles writes about the “quasi-Catholic cult of Santíssima Muerte”. I first read about this cult a few months ago in of all places the National Geography Magazine.

Mark wraps up his comments with this observation.
Most of us have a pretty fixed view of what religion is, should be, or isn’t. Some of my readers no doubt hold to a evangelical Christian position, some are Catholic, some perhaps Buddhist, agnostic or atheist, and some perhaps Muslim. Each of us tends to take our own view of a particular religion as normative, but the reality is that the history of each of the great world religions contains sanctions for both peace-making and warfare — and human nature itself encompasses a range of behaviors that run from the kind of atavistic violence described above to the forgiving and compassionate impulse behind the Beatitudes…
And while economic pressures and political frustrations may be enough to power great struggles, when religious rituals, beliefs and feelings are added into the mix, it can quickly become even more lethal.
3. And Zarqawi?
All of which leaves me wondering how close the parallels are between the Mau Mau in LSB Leakey’s account, La Familia and the other Mexican cartels — and the brutalities of jihadists such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Read the whole post and the links if you dare!
Mexico, Africa, Zarqawi?

After that troubling taste of evil. We turn to inspiration and hope to help remind us that free people can conquer evil, even at great cost.

USS Johnston, October 25, 1944

Galhran signs in with this post from the U.S. Naval Institute Blog where he filed this post, When A Leader Writes. Within that post is a link to a recent entry that the subject of the post ADM James Stavridis wrote on the 66th Anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Admiral Stavridis final thoughts are words for all Americans and free people to ponder and reflect upon.

We must never forget those who went before us, who wore the uniform of the United States Navy, and what they’ve done to show us the way today.
“Honor, courage, commitment” are not just words to be hurriedly said at a ceremony and then quickly forgotten. These words - honor, courage, commitment - define the very essence of our Navy. What we’ve been, what we are, and what we must always be.
As Herman Wouk wrote in War and Remembrance, “The vision of Sprague’s three destroyers – the JOHNSTON, the HOEL, and the HEERMANN – charging out of the smoke and the rain straight toward the main batteries of Kurita’s battleships and cruisers, can endure as a picture of the way Americans fight when they don’t have superiority. Our schoolchildren should know about that incident, and our enemies should ponder it.”
Sixty-six years ago today, the Sailors of Taffy 3 showed us what honor, courage, and commitment really meant. Just as the Sailors of SAMUEL B. ROBERTS did in 1988 and the COLE Sailors did in 2000. Now it’s our turn. All the best, JCHjr.
Along the same naval centric tack comes this second post from USNI Blog and the insightful CDR Salamander.

In the week following the 2010 USNI History Conference; Piracy on the High Seas, there are two points that have staying power for me. They help describe why we are having such a difficult time fixing a relatively basic function of a sea power with literally the entire written history of mankind to tap into for examples about how to solve it.
This isn’t a new problem even if you have a shortsighted view of history. Just sticking to “new media” – our friend EagleOne was blogg’n about piracy from the start – well before piracy was “cool.” Check out his archive and you can see the arch from SE Asia to the Horn of Africa and a few other garden spots in between.
The problem isn’t piracy itself; it is our inability to take decisive action to eliminate it. Once again, it boils down to solid, informed leadership – leadership that is allowing itself to be confused by two things – the same two things that are still bouncing around my nogg’n a week after the conference.
Read more:
Piracy, The Merchantilist vs The Moralist

And finally, ending todays posts on a more positive note. Thomas Barnett announced that he had joined what he calls the wikistrat universe a global strategy company. Barnett will continue to blog in his personal style and offer up some new dishes.
Producing a weekly 10-page bulletin of analytic products that Wikistrat will soon offer on a subscription basis (I'm thinking, "The CoreGap Report" or some such).
Populating a globalization model driven by scenarios that utilize the "reproducible strategic concepts" (Core-Gap, Four Flows, Blogging the Future, Heroes Yet Discovered, SysAdmin-Leviathan, etc.) from my trilogy of books.
More to come.

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