"Vanderboegh," he said to me, taking the Lord's name in vain, "you stupid sonofabitch, you just stuck your finger in Sauron's eye. You think he's not going to react?"
My friend was a bit concerned about my latest letter to Eric Holder.
"You think this is some sort of f---ing game?"
No, I told him, I did not think it was a game.
"They still play by 'Waco Rules,' you said it yourself."
Yes, I told him, I knew that.
Anyway, there was more ranting and raving and arm flailing, all motivated by his own touching personal concern for me. In the end, especially after I explained the context using some facts about current events on the larger battlefield he didn't know and his own metaphor from Lord of the Rings, he finally understood the necessity of it. He still didn't like it.
But it struck me that now might be a good time to repeat an oldie but a goodie. Since I don't have to spend time away from Absolved writing it, and it wouldn't be bad to remind SSI readers (and Sauron's minions) about certain historical truths, here it is. From 4 May 2007, it was a guest editorial on my good friend David Codrea's War on Guns blog.
He commented at the time:
[Foreword: Here's another gem from Mike Vanderboegh that I am privileged to present on this site. The Romanian example holds particular meaning for me.]
The link: http://waronguns.blogspot.com/2007/05/guest-editorial-resistance-is-futile.html
"Resistance is Futile": Waco Rules vs. Romanian Rules
by Mike Vanderboegh
"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them." --Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787
"We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile." -- Star Trek: First Contact
"Resistance is Futile"
You know, the most dangerous thing about liberals in today's America is that they are always taking policy decisions based upon three fallacies:
a. Woeful ignorance of the subject at hand,
b. Extrapolation of their own cowardice onto their opponents, i.e. expecting their opponents to react the way they do, and
c. Willful refusal to grasp that the Law of Unintended Consequences applies both to their world view and to the schemes that they use to enforce that world view upon the rest of us.
They are, in a phrase, without a clue. This is not so dangerous when they are out of power. However, as they now control both houses of Congress and have a better than even chance of controlling the White House in 2009, this has the potential to get a lot of people killed by 2010. An illustrative case in point is David Prather's recent column in the Huntsville (AL) Times, entitled "In a Shoot-out, the Feds Always Win.". Mr. Prather, it seems, has second-guessed the Founders of our tattered Republic and come up with his own idea of the futility of the armed citizenry to secure their own liberty. He writes with scorn of the belief that the Second Amendment means exactly and precisely what it says:
"This argument says that keeping firearms is necessary to ensure that the public can resist government oppression should such arise. In other words, unless you can shoot back at the feds, you can't be free. That's a nice, John Wayne-type view of the world. But it's wrong. It's not just debatably wrong. It's factually wrong. And the reason it is wrong is this: The government has and will always have more firepower than you, you and your neighbors, you and your like-minded friends or you and anybody you can conscript to your way of thinking. You simply can't arm yourself adequately against a government that is rotten and needs to be overturned. Your best defense is the ballot box, not a pillbox.. . . . You can't beat 'em. You'd be foolish to try. So let's take that argument off the table. I don't presume to say that by doing so we will be able to reach a consensus or a compromise or whatever about how we should or shouldn't control firearms in modern society. I'm just saying that shooting it out with the government is like the exhibition team versus the Harlem Globetrotters as far as who is going to win. Only a lot more bloody." -- David Prather, "In a shoot-out, the feds always win", Huntsville Times, May 2, 2007
I am reminded here of the famous Dorothy Parker line, "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." Now Mr. Prather, who has risen to the lofty position in life of Associate Editorial Page Editor of the Huntsville Times asserts that we gunnies inhabit a "John Wayne-type view of the world (that's). . .factually wrong." As the quote from the principal Founder above clearly shows, it is in fact a "Thomas Jefferson-type" view of the world. Mr. Prather believes the ballot box is a better defense against tyranny than the cartridge box. Oddly enough I agree, as long as the tyrants are willing to play by the election laws. But what happens when they don't? In his novel Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein offered an answer:
"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Nations and peoples who forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms."
Indeed, the Founders were only able to secure their right to the ballot box by taking up their cartridge boxes and muskets and standing against the army of the most powerful empire in the world at the time and fighting it to a standstill. What has fundamentally changed about the universe since then? Communication is faster, weapons are more powerful, but as we see in Iraq, a determined armed minority can be impossibly overmatched and still cause a good deal of trouble.
Now I have spent a lot of time since the early days of the Clinton Administration considering the Founders' concepts of the deterrence of tyranny by the armed citizenry from the perspectives of philosophy, history, strategy and tactics. The catalyst for all this reflection was, of course, the twin menaces of the increasing Clintonista proscriptions of firearms rights (Brady and the Assault Weapons Ban) and the massacre of the Branch Davidians at Waco. The subsequent failure of the Republican congress and the courts to do anything substantive about either threat-- legislative tyranny or rogue bureaucracy-- led many of us to conclude that we had now entered a time when we could only count on ourselves to maintain our liberties.
The Law of Unintended Consequences decreed that there would be two unexpected results of this Clintonista constitutional misbehavior. The first was the importation and sale within a few months of several millions of semi-auto rifles (principally SKS and AK-variants) into the U.S. This was in anticipation of, and defiance of, the so-called "Assault Weapons Ban." Indeed, this was more rifles of these types than had been sold in the previous TWENTY YEARS. And it was in a political climate where it was fully expected that the next law would call for the confiscation of such weapons. Why, then, did this massive arming take place? Were we buying these rifles merely to turn them over later? When the Clintonistas realized that we were not buying these rifles to turn them in, but to turn ON THEM if they became even more threatening to our liberties, it gave them considerable pause. I am told the analysts in the bowels of the J. Edgar Hoover building were particularly impressed.
The second unexpected result of Clintonista misbehavior, although of lesser import than the millions of rifles, was the rise of the constitutional militia movement. As London Telegraph senior reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote:
"The Clinton era . . spawned an armed militia movement involving tens of thousands of people. The last time anything like this occurred was in the 1850's with the emergence of the southern gun clubs. It is easy to dismiss the militia as right-wing nuts: it is much harder to read the complex sociology of civic revolt. . . No official has ever lost a day's pay for precipitating the incineration of 80 people, most of them women and children, in the worst abuse of power since Wounded Knee a century ago. Instead of shame and accountability, the Clinton administration accused the victims of setting fire to themselves and their children, a posthumous smear that does not bear serious scrutiny. It then compounded the injustice by pushing for a malicious prosecution of the survivors. Nothing does more to sap the life of a democracy than the abuse of power." Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Secret Life of Bill Clinton
You see, what impressed us gunnies the most was the fact that under what we came to know as "Waco Rules", Catch 22 was in full swing. It was as if the Clintonistas were shouting, "We can do anything you can't stop us from doing." The constitutional militia movement, despised by the administration, caricatured by the media (and professional liars for money like Morris Dees of the Southern "Poverty" Law Center), and unjustly vilified after the Oklahoma City bombing, began to explore the question of just what could be done to stop such unconstitutional conduct on the part of the government. We realized that another way to express Catch 22 is to say, "You can do only what we let you get away with."
I think the FBI realized our power before we really understood it's full implications. For one thing, we had them surrounded. At its zenith, the militia movement had perhaps as many as 300,000 active participants, but we were backed up, you see, by the undeniable fact of those millions of rifles. Of the 85 million gun owners at the time, how many would join the militias if another Waco happened? That was the question. Both sides eventually came to the realization that in any case, it was enough. As Clausewitz observed, "In military affairs, quantity has a quality all its own."
And the first thing we noticed was that the FBI became very much more solicitous of our sensibilities and sought at every turn to avoid a flashpoint. During each little potential Waco-- the Republic of Texas, the Montana Freemen, etc-- the FBI would seek out local militia leaders and ask their advice, seeking their opinions with what sounded like real concern.
The best answer that I recall to one of these FBI queries came from Bob Wright, commander of the 1st Brigade, New Mexico Militia. When asked if he and his friends would actually go to the scene of a future Waco in another state to assist the potential victims, Bob replied, "Why would I want to do that? There's plenty of you federal SOBs around here." This was a perspective the Fibbie had not considered before, and it showed on his face.
So we got through the rest of the Clinton Administration by waging a low-intensity cold war, the history of which has yet to (and may never) be written. The principal point was this: there were no more Wacos. Although they never renounced Waco Rules, they did not again implement them.
The Three Fallacies
Which brings us to today and our armchair theorist of contemporary domestic military operations, David Prather. Let us examine his thesis: "the feds always win" by referring to the three fallacies listed above. First, let us test his woeful ignorance of the subject at hand. In fact, you CAN beat the feds in a shoot-out as was demonstrated by the Branch Davidians in the initial raid of 28 February. Four ATF agents died in this monstrous misuse of government power and far more would have, but for the fact that the Davidians, having repelled the ATF raiders from entering their home, allowed them to leave after the men in black exhausted their ammunition. In effect, the ATF asked the Davidians if they could go home and reload their guns and the Davidians, being nice guys, agreed.
Had Vo Nyugen Giap been running what the Feds later claimed was an "ambush", none of the ATFs would have left that property alive. Indeed, had the Davidians understood the full implications of Waco Rules as they were being worked out for the first time, they would have put up a far tougher fight on both 28 February and 19 April and likely could have stopped the armored vehicles in their tracks.
So, when Prather says "the feds always win", he's probably thinking of Waco, but then so are we. In his ignorance, he does not realize that others observed Waco and the exercise of Waco Rules with a keener military eye, took notes, studied and learned.
Secondly, Prather is extrapolating onto others his own cowardice and unfamiliarity with weapons. He knows HE could not resist a predatory police raid, so he assumes that others could not as well. Should there come another dark time when the feds think they can resort to Waco Rules once more, both they and Prather will discover that such assumptions are deadly mistakes.
Thirdly, The Law of Unintended Consequences is still issuing forth unplanned dividends from the Clinton misbehavior of the 90s. Remember those millions of rifles? They didn't go anywhere. They haven't disappeared.
So we have the rifles and we have one other thing: Romanian Rules.
On 16 December 1989, riots in the Romanian city of Timisoara ignited a nationwide revolt which spread to the capital Bucharest. Parts of the army joined the revolutionaries, and on 25 December, after 45 years of communist tyranny, dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elene received a Christmas present from the Romanian people when they were summarily executed. Said one Romanian radio announcer, "The anti-Christ died. Oh, what wonderful news."
Ceausescu had ruled the Romanians with an iron hand, using his dreaded secret police to pick his opponents off one by one for imprisonment or execution-- until the day came when the people learned their lesson and met the secret police and the army face to face. Thousands were killed in the fighting, many because they lacked the weapons to do the job. But we're Americans. We observed the Romanian Rules and learned. We realized too that we're much better armed than the poor Romanians.
So what makes Prather think that Americans who may wish to resist our own government if it spins out of control again, will sit idly in their little houses allowing themselves to picked off one by one? In his ignorance and arrogance, Prather has committed the ultimate sin of military planners throughout the centuries: he is presuming that the straw-man opponent he has created in his own mind will sit still and wait to be beaten on his (or Hillary Clinton's) own terms. He is presuming that his opponent won't react, won't be agile, and won't be thinking.
Prather makes much of modern day weaponry that only the government may possess. But you know, artillery and nuclear bombs are of limited utility to a government when the battlefield is its own cities, towns, transportation hubs and commercial centers. Then it becomes like Iraq, only far worse. It becomes a rat hunt where the rats outnumber you, and often, at the point of decision, beat you in the one thing that is most fundamental in an up-close infantry fight: rapid and deadly accurate rifle fire. Shouting Borg-like that "resistance is futile" may scare the faint-hearted, the weak-minded and certain children under the age of ten. It does NOT scare us.
And that is what invalidates Prather's fantasy scenario: we've had almost 15 years to study Waco Rules now. Fifteen years of studying how to best direct the resources of the armed citizenry against the next predatory administration grown too big for its constitutional britches. Fifteen years of considering the lessons of Christmas, 1989. After the cold war with the Clintonistas, we gunnies began to understand the finer points of credible deterrence. Now, having completed a long and challenging curriculum, we certainly understand what Jefferson meant by "pardon and pacify them." It would be wiser if Mr. Prather and his historically foolish liberal friends did not seek to give us a final examination in this subject of study, for the results are NOT academic. Just ask Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. Of course, you'll have to go to Hell to do that.