Friday, August 27, 2010

Remember who we are: Liberty, love and leadership.

"Triumph of faith over idolatry" by Jean Baptiste Theodon,French Baroque Era Sculptor, 1645-1713.
General Robert E. Lee stated that an effective commander must love his men, but he must also be prepared to order the destruction of the very thin that he loves. That is not just prose. This paradox captures the essence of combat leadership. It is the heart of the art of command. On a conscious level, most commanders comprehend that burden, but the question remains: Are we mentally and emotionally prepared for such demands? Before the first shot is fired, the leader must look squarely in the mirror and gather the moral strength necessary to order his men into harm's way, to see them killed and maimed, to look into the eyes of the wounded and upon the faces of the dead, yet not lose his fighting spirit. Moreover, the true test is to look oneself in the mirror AFTER young men who trusted their commander are killed and maimed, and do it all over again without losing the will to violently close with the enemy. Such force of will requires supreme mental toughness and strong "emotional shock absorbers" to rebound from these devastating blows while maintaining one's convictions. It requires enormous grit to weather such anguish and not detach oneself from the deep feelings of affinity and love for one's men. The commander who severs that link forfeits the vital buttress of brotherhood formed in shared danger and sacrifice that binds him to his men and makes war bearable. He will soon find himself alone, increasingly drawing from his "well of fortitude" until the bucket comes up dry and his will shatters. Once this happens, the commander ceases to inspire and lead; his unit becomes a formless mass of souls bereft of the sense of shame that enables men to bear war's horror yet persevere with honor. He becomes a mere spectator to the slaughter of his men. In short, the art of command is about winning the love of one's men, and then some day having to use that love to have them willingly risk terrible injury or death and violently take the lives of others. The skill and respect necessary to apply this art must be nurtured in peacetime through study of the human psyche both in combat and through vicarious experience. The passion to command is embodied in the commander's willpower, his love for his men, and personal aggressiveness in battle. The love for his men is what allows a commander to apply and maintain his will power, and the conviction and aggressiveness to close with the enemy. He must be able to literally and figuratively look himself in the mirror each day of combat and know he has earnestly applied himself and had nurtured a passion for command. With a melancholy rigor he must apply himself in the serious study of warfare, its affects on those who fight, and earn the moral authority that grows from leading in the "zone of aimed fire." I will always harbor doubts over my efforts prior to and during combat, whether or not my personal preparation and leadership was all it could be. For the rest of my life -- each time I look in the mirror I will be acutely reminded of my shortcomings, and a piece of my heart will chip away, for in the shadows of my eyes I will see their faces, staring back at me -- for the rest of my life. -- COL B.P. McCoy, USMC, The Passion of Command: The Moral Imperative of Leadership, pp. 77-78.
We stand today upon a precipice, staring at a ghastly possible future rushing at us from across a deep chasm -- angry portents and dark clouds, behind which may gallop the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- the grim reapers of civil war. The liberty, lives and futures of our children and grandchildren likely rest upon how we conduct ourselves NOW. We must prepare ourselves to stand the coming storm without losing sight of why we are so determined, as the Founders were -- to risk everything to be free. In doing so we must not become the very monster we purport to fight. We must remain human in an inhuman time. We must remember who we are. We must love.

Wikipedia defines love thusly:

Love is the emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. In religious context, love is not just a virtue, but the basis for all being ("God is love"), and the foundation for all divine law (Golden Rule).
In his magnificent novel of the Spartans at Thermopylae, Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield, through the character of Dienekes -- considered by his fellow soldiers to be the bravest of them all -- explores the question, "What is the antithesis of fear?"

"All my life," Dienekes began, "one question has haunted me. What is the opposite of fear? . . . To call it aphobia, fearlessness, is without meaning. This is just a name, thesis expressed as antithesis. To call the opposite of fear fearlessness is to say nothing. I want to know its true obverse, as day of night and heaven of earth." "Expressed as a positive," Ariston ventured. "Exactly! . . . How does one conquer fear of death, that most primordial of terrors, which resides in our very blood, as in all life, beast as well as men? . . . Dogs in a pack find courage to take on a lion. Each hound knows his place. He fears the dog ranked above and feeds off the fear of the dog below. Fear conquers fear. This is how we Spartans do it, counterpoising to fear of death a greater fear: that of dishonor. Of exclusion from the pack. . . But is that courage? Is not acting out of fear of dishonor still, in essence, acting out of fear?" Alexandros asked what he was seeking. "Something nobler. A higher form of the mystery. Pure. Infallible."
Later, Dienekes answers his own question:

A messenger appeared, summoning Dienekes to Leonidas’ council. My master motioned me to accompany him. Something had changed within him; I could sense it as we picked our way among the network of trails that crisscrossed the camps of the allies. “Do you remember the night, Xeo, when we sat with Ariston and Alexandros and spoke of fear and its opposite?” I said I did. “I have the answer to my question. Our friends the merchant and the Scythian have given it to me.” His glance took in the fires of the camp, the nations of the allies clustered in their units, and their officers, whom we could see, like us approaching from all quarters the king’s fire, ready to respond to his needs and receive his instructions. “The opposite of fear,” Dienekes said, “is love.”
Another of my favorite novels, Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer, tells the story of Sam Damon, an up-from-the-ranks Army officer, and his lifelong struggle with his nemesis, a well-connected, polished careerist officer named Courtney Massengale. Damon first encounters Massengale in France in 1918 when the staff officer gets lost and on his way to a forward command post and runs into some enlisted men of Damon's company which has just come out of the line. Massengale is irritated that he is not being shown what he believes to be proper respect.

"You people come to attention!" . . . In the stillness, Raebyrne's voice cane very clearly, drawling, "Fer Crahst sake . . ." "That's enough! You people had better learn some military courtesy," the Captain said. "Discipline is entirely too lax up here. When an officer asks a question he expects to be answered in a smart and respectful manner. " . . . It's his voice, Damon thought, watching, his voice. It was incisive enough, it was pitched neither too high nor too low -- but something about it was wrong; it lacked -- it lacked human vibrancy. Faintly metallic, disembodied, it was like a field order translated into sound; it had no flaws.
Damon's career intertwines with Massengale's for forty plus years. The crisis comes when Massengale is appointed Damon's corps commander with the task of invading one of the Philippine Islands in 1944. Massengale, who has never before held a field command, has crafted a plan for the assault that is over complicated and likely to fail, with Damon's division likely to take the brunt of it. Damon writes in his personal field diary:

I have such a black feeling about this op. Can't shake it. He's trying just too damn much. Audacity, downright gambling, sure -- but in the right place, for the right reasons. . . . So why all the fancy footwork? . . . He hates my guts. There it is. He hates my very guts and I despise and fear him. Not HIM actually -- more what he will do, what he is capable of. . . There is something terrible inside him, in his soul. He talks about the big picture and command problems and knowledge of terrain but all that has nothing to do with it -- it's this other thing that slips along just under the surface. I keep coming back to that moment in the wrecked courtyard near St. Durance. He doesn't feel -- he doesn't LOVE MAN. Yes. Old homo mensura, with his prehensile claws and splayed feet, with his nobility and greed and hope and vanity and wonder, his immense possibilities. People. The gut bent over at the sink trying to work the sludge out of his knuckles with solvent, and his wife's at the stove with her hair in curlers, shushing the kids over the booming racket of the radio. Her face catches the light in a certain way, or that tender, dreamy look comes over it aa she watches the baby, and the guy at the sink straightens and moves up behind her and steals a kiss, and she laughs, fussing a little because she's still wet and soapy -- and then turns and hugs him in the middle of the kitchen floor, with the kids squabbling over the toys and the radio yammering away . . . All the men and girls with their dreaqms and derelictions, their quarrels and reconciliations, wrenched away from those intimate things now, those naked things, snatched up and flung harshly into jungles, mountains, burning desert sands for the preservation of this way of life we believe in so passionately -- and which has so many glorious things about it that the simple contemplation of it, late on a hot, still night like this one, between the jungle and the sea, 10,000 miles from home, can move you almost to tears. . . But Massengale doesn't see any of this. He can't love that guy at the sink, trying to work the grease out of his knuckles. And because he can't love him he himself is only half a man.
This is our strength, this love. It is what differentiates us in the "country class" (as we have been called by Angelo Codevilla) from the ruling class. In order to have the hubris to think that you have the right to order people around, to tyrannize them, you cannot love them, only yourself.

Yet there are those of us -- or at least those who claim to be us -- who have this same lack. This same incapacity to love, to make love the basis for our struggle to preserve our liberty and that of our posterity.

A man who fights for liberty, without being motivated by the love of others, the love of country, the love of God, is engaging in a selfish, commercial transaction. And, I might add, will likely fail in the attempt and become the beast he seeks to destroy.

He will fight only until he gets what he wants and makes the most inconstant of allies.

Such a man will not stand up into a hail of machine gun fire and suicidally close with a bunker full of screaming enemies who are busy killing his friends. He will not roll onto to a grenade to save his buddy in the same foxhole. He will be selfishly happy to watch you do it, of course. He will later say that this is intelligent pragmatism.

Likewise, such a man is unfit to lead other men, for he will fail them, he will sell them out, and his failures of judgment, made because they are not motivated by love, will be fatal to the cause of liberty.

Such men are evident today, in our movement to reclaim the Founders' Republic. How many times have you heard the call to begin firing now, the impatience with waiting until the conflict is forced upon us? Such men have neither heart nor head, for who, being motivated by love, would want to bring about ghastly civil war BEFORE it was forced him, with all the inevitable killing of and cruelty to innocents that that entails? And who, knowing how unprepared we all are for such a conflict, would not want to make use of one more day, one more hour, to organize, train and prepare? Only someone who does not, who cannot love.

For a man who loves is reluctant to war, is patient with the irritations and fears of waiting, simply because he knows its costs.

Such men without love in their hearts engender in others a feeling of despair, of inevitable defeat. Not loving enough, they take counsel of their fears and it spreads around to others like a debilitating oil slick.

Yet we can and will win, even if we wait to respond until we can wait no longer. A real leader of liberty-minded individuals, motivated by love yet wide-wake to the dangers, will lead by exuding resolve but also calmness, confidence and optimism. He must be intelligent, he must be dedicated, he must share the dangers and the sacrifice, but above all he must be motivated by love -- love of family, love of country, love of humanity and love of God.

Anyone who tells you differently is selling something, and the name of that something is defeat.



Tom Eckert said...

Great comments, Mike.

If one doesn't love everything that stands behind his rifle his cause is doomed and his efforts mean nothing.

Bad Cyborg said...

Thank you, Mike. We needed that reminder. While I have not seen war directly, I have seen what it did to my only son. I know what the coming war will mean to those whom I love.

I would take issue with the official definition of "love" however. True love is not an emotion or a "feeling". Real love is a decision and a commitment. Real love is action. It is visible to the beloved(s) - and others. I believe that love is nothing less than modifying one's defenition of "self" to include others - to varying degrees. My wife is literally a part of me. As are my children and to lesser degrees their spouses. I can face death knowing that thought I in the lesser sense might die, I in the greater sense - i.e. those whom I love - will continue.

Thank you, Dutchman.

Bad Cyborg X

Alan W. Mullenax said...

nice piece. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, Lee lost, the Spartans lost. Do we see a pattern? I do. That pattern is that of romantic BS. We're human, we romanticize noble losers. Lee was an amazingly gifted general, but his love of his men caused him to overestimate their abilities at Gettysburg. The result, the slaughter of his army. Pressfield doesn't know what when through the minds of the Spartans, so quoting his IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS, has no credibility whatsoever.
The Romans conquered their world with training, organization, disciple and professionalism. I don't know about you, but I do not intend to die nobly, I intend to win.

Justin said...

Nice post. Well written.

I think that this dream of the reluctant patriot fighting tyranny after he is “forced” into it is false, however. The OPFOR in this scenario is too smart to fire the first shot. I am not saying that the citizens should start anything, I am merely saying that they (meaning OPFOR) will not. They will boil us in a pot, one “reasonable” step at a time. Each step may push FREEFOR right up to the line of resistance (1984-ish GPS-tracking, police state actions, banning 90% of all ammo, individual mandates via health care “reform”, on and on…), but never past that line. In this way the ability and will of the people to resist is lessened, as what is seen as “the way things are” shifts inexorably left and towards out-and-out statism.

The state will NEVER fire the first shot. They don’t have to. They will push and push, taking more and more, regardless of constitutionality or fairness or ethics. OPFOR does not care.

I would caution you to not use the term “cassus belli” if you don’t really mean it. After having read this post, can you TRULY tell me that you believe police GPS tracking of citizens and lead ammo bans are both cassus belli, as you have said recently? Really? There is conflicting information here, in my opinion.

Can you clarify, Mike? What is a true cassus belli in your opinion? What constitutes “having no choice”? You advocate not one more step back, not one inch. Do you mean it though?

I would really like some clarification on what you believe “We are not backing up another inch” (as posted on the top of your blog) means. Since I have followed your blog, we’ve backed up several inches, if not more. I am reminded of the article I think WRSA posted that talked about a people being oppressed in every way possible by FedGov except that they were given an illusion of freedom by being allowed to keep their guns. Freedom is about more than guns; oppression is about more than gun control.

So tell me, what does “not another inch” mean to you? Mike? Everyone? What does cassus belli mean to you? Mike? Everyone? I would like specifics, because as an earlier poster stated, we’re going to take this crap and just bitch about it on the internet. I disagreed at first, now I wholeheartedly agree.

Can someone clarify?


Dutchman6 said...

"Excuse me, Lee lost, the Spartans lost. Do we see a pattern? I do. That pattern is that of romantic BS. We're human, we romanticize noble losers.

Lee was an amazingly gifted general, but his love of his men caused him to overestimate their abilities at Gettysburg. The result, the slaughter of his army. Pressfield doesn't know what when through the minds of the Spartans, so quoting his IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS, has no credibility whatsoever.

The Romans conquered their world with training, organization, disciple and professionalism. I don't know about you, but I do not intend to die nobly, I intend to win."

Thank you for missing the entire point. Win what? The right to rule the ashes of a Gotterdammerung in the manner of our enemies with only the faces being different?

Only by being true to our moral foundations can we "win." And I don't intend to lose.

Ahab said...

Yes, I love my family, my crew, my country and my cause. And, because I do, and desire above all else, this country to return to it's roots, I will happily and with malice apply that love with as much force as I possibly can. My love is reserved for we who have been wronged.

In love is there also mercy? What mercy will be shown to us if we begin and we do not win? Know this, and know it well, there is no mercy will be extended to us if we lose; therefore, there should be no mercy extended to the OPFOR in our rebellion, when it comes. I do not love my enemy, nor do I hate him. It is justice that I seek, not revenge.

WarriorClass said...

What's the plan? Do we wait until the next fraudulent election? Until we are denied health care under the Obama plan? Are we to wait until the IRS sells our homes after taking everything else? Until every last job in the private sector is gone? Until we are all starving on the streets; when our last chance to win is a distant memory? Until the courts uphold the Constitution?

There is a point of no return.

I agree that this is for our posterity, because we love them and want the best future for them. What service do we for them if we have past that point of no return?

What's the plan, exactly? When do we say no more and actually do something about it?


RLJ said...

Yes. And remember. God IS Love.

Lacking Love, one also lacks God, or maybe the other way around. Answers a lot of questions for me.

Following Pharaoh into the ocean is a sure way to die.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous again. No Mike, I did not miss your point. I'm sorry that I wasn't clear. I was trying to be polite.

Wars are normally sold on the basis of noble causes. The article mentioned the South, the Spartans and the revolutionary war patriots. Southerners fought for their homes and to preserve their rights. But those rights included slavery didn't they? Sparta fought to save Greeks from Persian tyranny. But Sparta was a tyrannical militarized slave state wasn't it? The revolutionary war patriots fought for liberty. But that liberty did not extend to blacks or indians did it?

If "remembering who we are" is about noble causes, it involves a lot of self-deception. Additionally, noble causes don't mean much of anything if you lose and nothing if you are dead.

So how about looking at who we really are? I am obviously a cynic. Being such, it will take a hell of a lot to get me going. Conversely it will take a hell of a lot to get me stopped, since I will have no grand cause that can be defeated. With it or on it, I suppose.

Who are you? Judging by your picture, I would guess a future non-combatant. A philosopher, a motivator, a romantic, an armchair general. That is why, to paraphrase another writer, everything is a casus belli to you but there never seems to be an actual line in the sand. So now let me add apparent poser to the list of who you are. I wish you well, but we have no use for each other.

Anonymous said...

Well written, and appropriate at this time. Head down for now!


Anonymous said...

In addition to love, there is another primal human emotion that must be discussed: revenge. The white-hot anger that has been burning in this man's breast for years over the injustices of government at all levels against honest, God-fearing people who just wanted to be left alone and enjoy the fruits of their labors.
The broken windows and sign shotgunnings are the first straws in the wind. Prior to that, there was the IRS building incident in Austin, TX with the planecrash.
Don't sit around with your thumb up your ass repeating your mantra about Ft Sumter. Think a thousand Ft Sumters, a thousand "V for Vendettas." They can be small as the Threeper stickers or as large as a building going up in flames(if the situation warrants it). Stop talking and start making plans to do something! Re-read UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

EMWONAY said...

I am starting to have some real problems with this broad brush you keep painting with here.

I read the “shut the Hell up" post before I read this one.

I love people; therefore I want to take care of this problem as soon as possible. We cannot afford to wait much longer.

The longer we wait, the higher the body count will be the harder the struggle, and the chances of our winning decreases. I am not a heartless person for desiring the better option of winning while winning is still achievable.

This "Fort Sumter" is not going to happen. If it does happen it will be an accident. So are we to just keep waiting until we have no means to resist, or the inability to be effective in our resistance. The door is closing.

Our children and grandchildren will judge us for our inaction. They will pay an increasingly high penalty for everyday that this war does not begin. We will also pay a higher price in lives and effort with every day that passes.

I have seen war. I actually HATE war. But I also do not wish for more suffering out of my desire to avoid it.

Right this very second, I have a newly born daughter in another room of this house that I love with all of my heart. I do not want her or her generation to have to be the ones to fight this war. I want to do the sacrificing for them so that they can live in peace. If we wait MUCH LONGER THE TORCH OF RESPONSIBILITY WILL BE PASSED TO THEM WITH MUCH LESS ODDS OF SUCCESS.

I want the war to begin because I LOVE! How many people would have been spared hardship and horrible deaths had men stood up before the tyranny completely showed itself? How many Germans, Russians, Chinese, etc. would have rather gone back in time and handled it out of their love for others?

I am seriously not very happy with being painted a heartless person and a fool for wanting to stop this from becoming what it always becomes in tyrannies.

Dakota said...


Back in the 90s I would have given anything for the kind of awareness that the American people are experiencing right now. The spin doctors of the media always painted the OKC McVeigh thing every time you tried to make an argument against the tyranny of a President and Justice Dept gone mad.

The American people were asleep then and still are somewhat, but there has been an awakening and it serves our cause this time not there's. Be very thankful for that. We had those then that wanted the war "now" and were even trying to start it at times. Well somehow we managed to stop most of it and I am very glad we did .... we would have definitely lost. Why? because we did not have the support of "any" of the citizenry. We do now somewhat, although they are not aware of it.

Don't worry once things accelerate to the "tip over" point you will know it .... all of us will.

You have to realize that they may never give us that point of no return. We may be but the spark that keeps the flame of liberty alive for the next generation, who are destined to fight the war of liberation. We do not get to choose .... there is a God in Heaven that dictates everything from the trajectory of Earth around the sun to a broken nail. We are not in charge ... never have been ...

I know that this is not what you want to hear ... I only know that I am not in charge. I decided many years ago and dedicated my life to the cause of liberty that I would die at any time to preserve it and do so gladly. I do not wish this ... but I must. For I have known the greatness of the Golden years of America I grew up and lived in them. I didn't realize that it was being stolen by traitors and despots who wish to destroy rather than build, to enslave man rather than stand with free men. These people are the very core of evil .... the days of their judgement will come, either in this life, or that of a wrathful Lord who also despises wickedness.

IrishCicero said...

That's a helluva post.

Happy D said...

Anon at:August 27, 2010 9:22 AM & August 27, 2010 3:41 PM

If you feel so strongly that you should fire first.
Go ahead die as a lone thug if you are wrong.
Or as a great hero if you are right.
If you want to lead then lead, go first.
Mike has played a very dangerous game of chicken with the Feds for years.
Until you have done half as much don't expect us to follow you.
You just are not qualified!