Thursday, March 03, 2011

Because there's a Roman analog for everything.

In the late Roman empire, post-Diocletian, the Roman army looked very different than it did under the earlier Principate, and bore hardly any resemblance at all to the Republican legions that had turned the Mediterranean into a Roman lake.

The military was divided into two types of soldiers, one that stayed close to the Emperor and shuttled constantly from trouble-spot to trouble-spot, and another force that was strung all along the frontiers, divided between countless fortlets and watchtowers. These frontier troops spent their time working on fortifications and road maintenance when they weren't engaged in raiding the barbarians across the river or trying to drive off raids from those same tribesmen.

The frontier troops, known as limitanei, never saw much of the empire they were protecting. Since volunteering to spend your life filling potholes and fighting Franks in the chilly swamps of Germania Inferior wasn't the kind of thing that looks good on recruiting brochures, Diocletian simply decreed that if dad was a soldier, you were a soldier: In effect, garrisoning some godforsaken post in the ass end of nowhere became an hereditary life sentence that often as not ended with a retirement as a maimed veteran, eking out a living on the garrison farm, never having seen the Byzantium or Ravenna you'd spent your life protecting.

What got me thinking of this? This:
As one retired Marine Corps general noted in a condolence letter to Kelly a few days after his son's death: "Service to and sacrifice for the nation have become a legacy affair for a relatively small number of families."
A separate military class is always a risky thing for a country to have. How much worse to risk having a separate military class that feels alienated, overworked, and unappreciated?

56 comments:

TenMile said...

I liked and feared this post.

A Gray Ghost.

Stretch said...

"America's not at war. The Marines are at war. America is at the mall."
Can find who said that.

thrill said...

Indeed Tam. A nation that has a military that becomes of interest only to those that view it appreciatively because of legacy knowledge will become a nation that not only doesn't properly value (and understand the costs, monetarily and other) of having a military, using a military, and most importantly, the costs of not having a sufficiently capable and close to every citizen's heart military.

Look for example at the tiny fraction of our Congress who have served in the military, and then look at the even tinier fraction that of that same body whose children display that service. Such a disconnect leads to a people who elect 'leaders' with not only no gut understanding of what they can do, and what they should do, but also becomes a nation that fails to understand the meaning of, as Aaron Tippen sang, "you've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything".

Anonymous said...

"I worry that we could wake up one day and that the American people will no longer know us, and we won't know them" Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That day has come.

Former congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) recently lamented to Foreign Policy magazine that "those who protect us are psychologically divorced from those who are being protected."

The divorce was instituted by the populace and the politicians.
The problem is that many view military personnel as deficient in some way, as if they couldn't make it on the outside. I think it was Joe Bidet who said. "Study and get good grades in college or you'll end up in Afghanistan."

The Military has become the servant of America, a servant who is ordered about with no thought of his or her sacrifices or needs.

This is what happens when you get rid of the draft.

Anonymous Veteran

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

So, conscription?

Tam said...

Ironically, for most of America's history, we've had almost exactly the opposite of the Roman system.

Our standing army was small, with a core of professional officers who generally came from long-standing military families, and enlisted men who were, to put it politely, looking for three hots and a cot, if they weren't actually on the run from something when they joined.

It was this small professional force that manned the frontiers, fought the injuns, intervened in banana republics, et cetera. Then there were the state militias, part-time citizen soldiers who, in times of war, fleshed out the nation's army. It was this way up through the early 20th Century and, to a large extent, up to WWII. It was, in some ways, copied from the British system. It'll never come back, though.

And no, I am opposed to conscription on moral grounds...

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Part of the problem is that most Americans don't really know anything about what the military is actually doing. The news likes to put things like this week's American Idol results or [insert current fashionably stupid superstar's name here]'s latest antics front and center, and anything about the war gets relegated to the back page. If it's not on the front page, most people won't pay attention anymore.

"Look for example at the tiny fraction of our Congress who have served in the military, and then look at the even tinier fraction that of that same body whose children display that service."

Such a disconnect also leads to Congresscritters responding to urgent requests for equipment that will save lives by refusing to talk about it and instead asking why 18 year old soldiers aren't allowed to drink beer.

Anonymous said...

What could be worse? Perhaps a military class that feels all those things, as well as believing that it is morally superior, better disciplined, better educated, and better informed than the civilians it works for.

Tam said...

Anon 11:14,

Any proposed solutions to that ailment, or are you as lost as me?

DaddyBear said...

A society that divorces itself from its military is one step away from hiring foreigners to defend it and fight its wars. At that point,it is only a matter of time before the mercenaries become conquerors.

Bubblehead Les. said...

From Kipling's "Tommy":
"Yes, makin mock o" uniforms that guard you while you sleep Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap; An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large abit Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.....While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Tommy fall be'ind,", But it's "Please to walk in FRONT sir, when there's trouble in the wind...."
Not only Rome, Tam. But you asked How much worse? Well, the Idiots that have assumed Control of the Gov't seem to have forgotten that they have sent a couple of million young people to fight Barbarians over the last decade, and most of them are back home. Add in the 25 million or so other Vets still alive (granted, I don't expect the Survivors of the Bataan Death March or the Bulge or the Frozen Chosen to be in Combat Shape, God Bless them all!), and some of the Scouts have reported that the Rubicon lays just ahead......

Tam said...

Bubblehead Les,

"Well, the Idiots that have assumed Control of the Gov't seem to have forgotten that they have sent a couple of million young people to fight Barbarians over the last decade, and most of them are back home."

I don't think the average American has any idea how many troops have been deployed where for how long...

Ask the next person you meet where Camp Bondsteel is and how many troops are based there.

JimB said...

So.. Just what's wrong with a draft??? As long as it's universal, no excemptions or deferments and open to both sexes it would be fine. Probably remove that sence of entitlement from a lot of people and make the truly grow up.

Ian Argent said...

For me: the 13th amendment has something to say about the draft (SCOTUS notwithstanding)

Tam said...

JimB,

I'm not down with involuntary servitude, no matter how noble the cause.

To paraphrase Bob Heinlein, if a nation can't save itself by the volunteer efforts of its own free people, then maybe it deserves to go down the drain.

Heroditus Huxley said...

What's wrong with the draft, JimB, is that you get kids drafted that have been spoon-fed the idea that the military is evil, that it's moral to do whatever it takes to fight that evil (i.e., leaking classified info, fragging officers, deserting to the enemy, etc.,), and *believe that to the bottom of their souls*, and put them in with the decent and intelligent kids that have volunteered to serve their country.

Talk about a dumb idea. I don't want to see more of our soldiers dying--I especially don't want to see that number rise because of actions taken by their squad mates.

I admit I haven't served, and can't possibly understand the battlefield, or the survivors thereof. I do make it a point to thank soldiers and veterans for serving. I hope that the gratitude of one Midwestern housewife counts against at least one stupid hippie anti-soldier protester. I plan to try to instill that same gratitude into my two children.

Anonymous said...

For whatever it's worth... I am a veteran that got out a little over a year ago. I left, in part, because my family was beginning to show the strain of a constantly missing member. My ex-wife (that's right, ex... my service cost me TWO marriages) was a strong woman but 10 years at war was too much.

All that aside, I joined in the 90s and suffered the Clinton hangover in the military. On the odd occasion when I'd have reason to wear my uniform away from an Army post, I would get odd looks and the occasional oldtimer that wanted to shake my hand. Then, of course, 9/11. All of a sudden, patriotic fervour went through the roof and, admittedly, it was kind of nice being appreciated.

Of course, that didn't last long and it wasn't long at all before the same oldtimers that used to shake my hand were now the last "thanks" I got as I got off of the airplane in Dallas or Atlanta.

I never did my job for recognition. And, while I joined with some lofty ideals of defending my country, the Constitution and being a patriot I discovered that, in the end, you fight for your brothers. I love this country and thought of it not once when the SHTF. All I cared about was making sure my guys made it home.

No one... No one... that hasn't been through that can understand it. Which, frankly, is just as well because our country generally couldn't care less.

It is true, we are not a country at war.

I am not morally better than a civilian. I do not look down my nose at them because they did not serve. My service was just a tiny little bit of the aggregate that makes up the foundation of our country. However, as people like me leave the military, and categorically do not want our sons to join, our country erodes.

For the most part, you don't care about us America. I hope that you're practicing with your firearms and stocking up your TEOTWAWKI kits... because the day will come when someone else wants a piece of America and, at this rate, the military will have ceased to exist as a meaningful fighting force.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I might be wrong.

Brian Dunbar said...

o.. Just what's wrong with a draft??? As long as it's universal, no excemptions or deferments and open to both sexes it would be fine.

We'll never see a draft that does not have exemptions, deferments or loopholes.

docjim505 said...

I dunno. When I was in an airport last week, there was a SGM on the flight. At least one passenger walked up to him and said, "Thank you for your service." I've seen this elsewhere, too.

The number of Americans who have some personal connection with the military may be dwindling, but I think that, outside of "trendy" liberal enclaves, appreciation for GI Joe and all he does is still alive and well. Anyway, we can't be any worse off than we were a century or so ago when the military was a relative handful of soldiers chasing a Indians around the Plains and some swabbies trying to keep ahead of the rust on Civil War-era ironclads.

Jenny said...

Since we built an intentionally similar rat maze of rewards and punishments for societal advancement, it should hardly come as a surprise that there's a Roman analog for everything, human nature remaining constant. :)

So.... even leaving aside for a moment the whole "moral equivalent of war" morass - what's y'alls take on the militia as a social institution for reinforcing that sense of "skin in the game?"

If your state said you had to show up for militia drill say a weekend a month to keep the franchise - would you? Would you consider that just, and would you consider it effective?

DirtCrashr said...

I pray for the day when the Teachers Union will hold a pot-brownie bake-sale just to buy the insidious propaganda and LSD they need to keep turning young minds to mush - and the Cops will show-up and bust the damn communists and put them in lock-down where they belong.
I don't think the problem (or solution) is with the Military - it's a simple police action that's needed.

Anonymous said...

So the Touching Stuff A55holes are modern versions of the limitanei! Amazing what we can learn here.

Their story is our story as Edith Hamilton used to write.

Anonymous said...

Sherman noted that in the war of the Great Rebellion, the US tried every way possible to raise soldiers. Conscripts, mercenaries (bought substitutes) and volunteers. The volunteers were by far the best. Bill T. Said so himself.

The high cost and shortage of volunteers also provides the best training for commanders, encouraging commanders who were thrifty with blood.

Anonymous said...

My solution: An extra vote for every year in service, or year following disability or retirement.

Watch how the usual suspects will try to reduce the number of disabled or retired, while buying them off.

Higher wages for those serving, or having served and suffered, will raise social status for those who serve. Perhaps leading to lines to get in.

Anonymous said...

Militia service can be useful, as per Switzerland, but it could degenerate into a Pledge of Allegiance, so politicans who didn't get shot at could conspicuously show patriotic bonifides by frequently raising their hands in the air and telling lies in public.

Bram said...

The comparison breaks down when it comes to female companionship. Those Romans could associate with the local ladies as they pleased. We haven't fought a war or "police action" anywhere with decent women in 40 years. Thanks Uncle Sam.

Tam said...

Bram,

"We haven't fought a war or "police action" anywhere with decent women in 40 years. Thanks Uncle Sam."

I confess to LOL'ing...

Earl said...

I do like that someone knows we will find the women where we send the young troops, now days we drag them along.

No draft, we are Taxed Enough Already, if there is a real threat to the United States, the young men will pour into reception stations.

I do think that young men do much better in life if they go into the military service after High School, and college later if needed.

I linked to this, because most Americans don't really understand or concern themselves with the military, which is like blinders on horses.

Tirno said...

Bram,

All the places we've been fighting are deployment areas, as in, you're not permanently assigned there. That's not analogous to what the limitanei were in for.

Overseas permanent assignments like UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, etc, aren't too shabby for the fraternization prospects.

Maybe I'm biased because I PCSed out of the UK with a smoking hot babe with two doctorates. 10 years, this summer!

Linoge said...

I cannot speak to the enlisted folks, but (speaking anecdotally) amongst my fellow junior officers, I was something of the exception with a parent who previously served. There were a few of us, but we were definitely in the minority. 'Course, once you go back another generation, damned near everyone has at least one grandfather who served...

Anonymous said...

Speaking as one who saw the tail end of the draftees, no. Assuming a two year draft, there's issues. We found (in the '80's) that a Infantryman really got good at his job at about the 18 month mark. So, that would give you about 6 months of top notch service.

Al T.

Joe in PNG said...

Anon Vet, waaay up at post #4:
It was John Kerry who made the "stuck in Iraq" comment, not Biden.
Especially as his son Beau is an JAG officer in the Delaware National Guard who has served in Iraq.

So, I don't really like the guy either, but I like him a heck of a lot more than Kerry.

rickn8or said...

Re: Speaking as a former senior NCO, if you don't want to be here, I don't want you here, let alone guarding my back. Contrarywise, if you DO want to be here, I don't care what your color is, what your religious background is, how your plumbing is arranged or what your sleeping partner preferences are.

Mmmm, second take on the religious background thing: I don't care as long as it doesn't require you to "spread the Good Word" or do anything noisy while I'm trying to sleep.

VERY early in the Clinton years, about time of my leaving the military, Fred Reed commented on the mutual loathing military people and Clinton had for each other. (Paraphrased)"In the military, it doesn't matter how rich you are, who your daddy is, how good lookin' you are or how good you can throw a football. If you don't pack the gear, you ain't $hit."

Ed Foster said...

How about 2 years as a draftee before you could join the regulars?

I don't want to see draftees in combat, shabby undisciplined dorks most of them, at least the majority of the ones I saw at some army firebases I used to visit scrounging parts.

But I strongly suspect a minority, perhaps a good sized minority, would discover they liked it. At least, as voters, they would have experienced military life and have some idea of what it entailed.

What massively ticks me off is the sociopathic scum at most elite universities and the crap they dump on vets and ROTCs. How about limiting government loan guarantees to students who enroll in ROTC or on-campus reserve units?

I'd love to be the ROTC instructor who had to give the hello speech. "People, I hold your future in my hands"."Pull a C minus in ROTC and I'll see you kicked out of school"."Give me a dirty look or a snicker and the same thing happens"."Attitude and team effort is a important as marks". "Do you understand me?".

Some of them might even grow up.

Ian Argent said...

So what do you do with the draftees/required-ROTC cadets for the two years while they decide if they want to go RA or not?

Robin said...

I don't think the general populace is divorced from our military. I think the political/media class is. And I think the solution is to upset the apple cart of the political/media class.

jimbob86 said...

"if there is a real threat to the United States, the young men will pour into reception stations."

Unfortunately, 1/3 of them won't be physically fit enough to run to the chow hall, let alone ruck up and soldier ...... another third (or more!) won't be mentally tough enough enough to hack it even though they are physically capable .... of the remainder, how many will be bright enough to be anything but a self propelled sandbag? Have any of you been to a high school recently? The state of the student body is depressing.

As for a draft: As an NCO, I found it hard enough to train some of the guys I had, who wanted to be there, but were..... not the best material to work with. I can't imagine attempting to do the same with folks that did not want to be there in the first place.

As for the social disconnect: it is real, even here, in the mid-west, with a large AFB close by and kids in our school with deployed parents..... America is NOT at war .... The military is, when they are deployed, and so even the entire military is not at war ..... the country is half-steppin' through a very serious threat. Just today I read a letter to the editor in the local fishwrap calling for an end to "these un-necessary wars" ..... We lose in A-stan, pull out and leave our former allies in the world with their a55es hanging out, that won't be the end of it: Jihadis came after us 10 years ago.... don't think they won't do it again.

Morally superior? I gotta tell ya, when I think about what I was doing through my 20's, and then I see some of the moochers of the same age around here.... and realize their vote counts the same as mine, and realize they are making more in government subsidies than I was in base pay.... yeah, some days I think I wouldn't mind if it all crashed so I could watch these idjits starve..... Hell, even the felons can vote again after their sentence is up..... children of illegal aliens get in-state tuition rates while the kids of folks staioned at the AFB up the road here have to pay the higher out-of-state rate.... things are seriously FUBAR when "undocumented workers" have a more powerful lobby and have their "issues" front and center in the media, and the only time servicemen get any press is when the Westboro Baptist Church shows up at a military funeral.....

The fix for this is obvious: restricting the voting franchise to those who have served, a'la Heinlein...... if you think I sound bitter (and I am), think about how some of the guys that have spent years deployed to the sandbox are going to feel when we pull out of there with our tail between our legs. It ain't gonna be pretty.

Bram said...

Tirno - I know guys heading back for a third YEAR-LONG deployment. The Suck sure feels like a permenant assignment.

Borepatch said...

Roman historical analogies are always in style ...

Although the Dominate Empire essentially bound the frontier legions to the soil, this wasn't meaningfully different from how the Empire bound non slaves to the great estates at the same time.

The Empire was dead by 300 A.D. Diocletian simply codified what was to be a long, slow slide into the grave.

What's interesting is applying this to modern times. You have basically 3 choices:

1. Accept that too small a portion of the military comes from too limited an area, and reduce the scope of the mission. This requires the USA to stop being the World's Policeman, with the predictable mountains of skulls that will result. Europe in particular will be screwed.

2. Accept that too small a portion of the military comes from too limited an area, and keep the scope of the mission the same as it is today. Essentially, this means JDAMs, drones, targeted assassinations, etc., because you don't have the manpower to do it properly.

3. Let ROTC back into the Ivy League. (HA HA HA HA HA HA - sorry, I crack myself up sometimes).

"Progressives" will flinch from #1, and scorn #3. I guess we know what will be the "new moral warfare", at least as long as the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has a (D) after his name ...

Ed Foster said...

JimBob, I have to say I feel a lot of what you do. Probably most of it.

The lawyers won't let us disenfranchise the dirtbags, althought they deserve that and more, but if it continues to slide, perhaps having somebody with a sense of honor running things might be an improvement, at least for a generation or two.

Perhaps the Constitution was only a viable document while most of the people of the United States more or less resembled the people who wrote it. Perhaps it still only works for people who view the world in a manner similar to that of the founding fathers.


We've bred up several generations of second class human beings, at both ends of the wealth spectrum, and cheapened the lives and futures of the more commonly decent folks in the middle. Oddly enough, most of the decent folks in the middle live in the middle of the country.


I've always felt we should give the big coastal cities their freedom with a relationship similar to that of France and Monaco. The Czechs and Slovaks split their country for much smaller reasons.

Offer them the choice of either that or a bill of divestiture throwing their asses out of the union, with the U.S. not guaranteeing their external security. I imagine that would encourage them to move along to the creation of their perfect collectivist paradises.

Part of me hopes it doesn't go that far. Part of me wonders what it would be like. I really don't know if I think there's much left to save.

But we're not one country, one people anymore. Perhaps we never were, but we had hopes for a long time.

We seem to be governed by an amazingly short sighted group of Wall Street speculators, trial lawyers, union bosses, career "public servants", and the brainless bureaucrats whose strings they pull, or jerk spastically.

Think Joe Biden, one bullet away from the Nuclear Football, and tell me the inmates aren't running the asylum.

What is the greatest Chinese curse? "May you live in interesting times".

jimbob86 said...

Ed Foster-

The People In Charge did not let the last bunch of states leave when they wanted to- what makes you think they'd let anybody leave now?

Joe in PNG said...

As much as I like Heinlein's "Only Veterans vote" idea, there are a few strikes against it:
-Jimmy Carter (US Navy)
-John Kerry (US Navy)
-John Murtha (USMC)
-Ted Kennedy (US Army)
-George McGovern (USAAF)
-John McCain (US Navy)

I can keep going...

jfruser said...

I am not a fan of the draft for most times. It just isn't needed and the quality of draftees is poor, relative to volunteers.

RAH was wrong, though. It has never been more than a sizable minority that has given a rat's ass for liberty or the COTUS. Enough to fend off moderate threats, but not enough to face existential threats.

When existential threats loom, we'll need quantity as well as quality. Conscript that uncaring lard-assed majority and make them fight for liberty. It may be a liberty they care not for or a liberty they can not even understand. Make 'em fight anyway, even if it is out of fear for being shot as a shirker.

This tiny slice of time with the modicum of decency we have clawed our way to achieve over three millenia in the West is worth saving, worth fighting for, and worth making the slackers fight for, too.

FTR, I have used my ass to cash the check my mouth writes.

Ed Foster said...

Not talking about the left letting anybody leave. We need some optomism here cousin. I'm only daydreaming about kicking out L.A. the Bay Area, Portland, Chicago, New York, and New Orleans.

A bit over two years ago there were 30 Democratic states. Now there are 14. 34 states can call a Constitutional Convention, 38 can ratify it. Whatever they vote in, the Feds have to follow to the last line.

Only a few years down the road, with the economy in ever greater shambles, anything might happen, including (but sadly not limited to) just about anything the Tea Partiers want to make happen enough. Beats all hell out of a military takeover.

What would bother me most about that is the damage it would do to the military.

I was a grunt. I took an oath to obey the orders of those officers legally appointed over me. Officers don't take the same oath.

My brother had to take an oath, not to the U.S. Government, not to the President, but to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies domestic and foriegn. Think about it.

Does that mean the officer corps has the moral obligation to overthrow a government if the majority of said corps believes the government has acted illegally? Looks like it.

Right now? No. But a decade or two down the road, if things get very hinky, who can say?

And I suspect the ruinous taxes the undertaxed northern industrialists forced on the south's agricultural exports had more to do with starting the Civil War than slavery or state's rights.

Plus, I bet that, if presented properly, the pie-in-the-sky types might really want to turn L.A. into a commune. As long as they guaranteed the full civil rights of any Americans resident in the area before Der Grosse Scheidung, I'd cheerfully sit back and watch the stupid buggers starve or get mangled by the underclass they would develop.

Kind of like the Swedes and the Kurds. Stupid should hurt.

docjim505 said...

jimbob86 - Unfortunately, 1/3 of them won't be physically fit enough to run to the chow hall, let alone ruck up and soldier ...... another third (or more!) won't be mentally tough enough enough to hack it even though they are physically capable .... of the remainder, how many will be bright enough to be anything but a self propelled sandbag?

While I share your concern that many of our younger folks are in no shape to soldier, I offer two reasons for hope:

1. I was a very chubby, soft, pampered pantywaist when I enlisted. Eight weeks with Drill Sergeants Tucker and Northrup changed that. I wasn't a Ranger by any stretch, but I felt ready, willing and able to fight, kill and scalp Ivan or Joe Sh*t The Iraqi.

2. Let's consider the raw material of armies of the past. The British army, for example, got the wretched refuse: jailbirds (should I write "gaolbirds"?), gutter trash, and other assorted dregs of British society: a spindly, malnourished and ignorant rabble. Yet they conquered quite a lot of the world.

But day by day they kicks him, which helps him on a bit
Till he finds hisself one morning with a full an proper kit.
Gettin' shut o' dirtiness, gettin' shut o mess,
Gettin' shut of doing things "Rather more or less"

Unless Army drill sergeants have changed quite a lot, they have the "day by day kicking" down to a science.

staghounds said...

It's 2011. Don't we have Roman digitals yet?

And why do we call them volunteers, they are professionals.

jimbob86 said...

"Unless Army drill sergeants have changed quite a lot, they have the "day by day kicking" down to a science."

The guys I was getting right before I got out (mid 90's) told me that the trainees in Basic had "stress cards" they could pull to get the Drill Sergeants off their case.... I told them that "There ain't no such thing here. We have a job to do, and you are going to learn to do it." I could not just kick them out, as I got no replacements for chaptered soldiers. I did learn to trade bad soldiers for better ones, though.....


"Conscript that uncaring lard-assed majority and make them fight for liberty."

They (and most other people in this country) don't want liberty. The want security, and free stuff.


" It may be a liberty they care not for or a liberty they can not even understand. Make 'em fight anyway, even if it is out of fear for being shot as a shirker."

This country and culture can barely stomach capital punishment for child molesters that bury their victims alive: what makes you think for two seconds we, as a nation, have the beans to do something like that?

Ian Argent said...

@Jimbo86: "This country and culture can barely stomach capital punishment for child molesters that bury their victims alive: what makes you think for two seconds we, as a nation, have the beans to do something like that?"

The nation is not facing an obvious existential threat. Compare the armies of 1936 of any of the United Nations of 1944 to that of their armies in 1941...

I'm not sure it's possible to concentrate the figurative mind of a democratic nation without the threat of hanging. I'm pretty sure it's unwise to try.

jimbob86 said...

"The nation is not facing an obvious existential threat."

Looked at the debt lately?

Now look at the portion of that debt owed to China.

THEN, look at our ability to pay that debt to the Chinese, w/o some drastic changes.

Lastly, try to imagine our society making any kind of changes that would be necessary to rectify the situation.

No real, obvious problems?

If you are optimistic, you are delusional, and if you are not angry, you are not paying attention.

Ian Argent said...

Sorry - owing money doesn't even come close to being an EXISTENTIAL threat for a country, and really isn't all that much of a danger for the US either except as it drives the government or people to ignore the constitution. That's where the existential danger is.

And I've heard this complaining about differential finances before, except then it was Japan that we owed our future to. Haven't heard that so much recently, though.

jimbob86 said...

"Sorry - owing money doesn't even come close to being an EXISTENTIAL threat for a country, ......."


..... until the lender nation wants payment, and the debtor nation can not pay ..... "the debtor shall be the servant of the lender":doubt that if you want to.

Mehbee we could mortgage Kalifornia ... oh, wait! .... Alaska? You want more than Taiwan?

Ian Argent said...

The Chinese will be in the position of the bank that loaned someone a couple mil.

There is not a chance in hell of the Chinese being able to seriously affect the US political process no matter how many bonds they've bought.

Marcus said...

I posted something on the subject over here:

http://justbarkingmad.com/?p=9337

Come check it out if you are interested.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"the debtor shall be the servant of the lender":doubt that if you want to.

With apologies to Sir Terry Pratchett:

"If you fight, we'll call in your mortgages. And incidentally that's my rifle you're pointing at me. I paid for that body armour you're wearing. And take my helmet off when you speak to me, you horrible little debtor."

Bang!

"And that's... my bullet... you just... shot me wi-"

Bang! Bang! Bang!


wv: mulit = A bad haircut that should have never been as popular as it was.

jimbob86 said...

"And that's... my bullet... you just... shot me wi-"

Problem is, when the Chinese come with the eviction notice, they'll have a bit more than a piece of paper and harsh words ..... i recon they'll have more firepower and more importantly, more will to use it than we have .....

Hell, I'm at the point that they can HAVE Berkely, if my kids share of the Nation Debt would be erased.

Ian Argent said...

There is no chance of China invading the US because of debt. First of all, we will pay them the amount owed even if we have to run the presses.... (This, admittedly, is a problem)

Secondly, even if that wasn't the case, the PLAN is in no wise a blue water navy. They can't even guarantee a successful invasion of Taiwan.

I can't take seriously any scenario that ends with "and then the chinese invade the US". The logistics won't allow for it.