Showing posts with label ethics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ethics. Show all posts

Monday, December 9, 2013

Max Velocity on Terrorist Vs Freedom Fighter

An interesting discussion going on at Max's place. Suppose like all things the clearly defined extremes are a lot easier than the murky middle ground. Also I cannot help but observe that when we try to differentiate between 'terrorist' and 'freedom fighter' those who we are ideologically compatible with tend to come out as 'freedom fighter' a whole lot more often.

The clearest issue in my mind is whether a given combative group chooses to target random civilians in order to spread terror or commits atrocities against innocent family members of the enemy side. If random people or civilian dependents of enemy combatants end up hurt or killed in a wrong place wrong time scenario that is unfortunate but war is messy. I think the difference is about intent and taking actions that are reasonably focused towards ones enemy.

Example: Lets say the Chinese invade America and I'm playing Red Dawn. A key officer in the PLA lives with his family in a small home near their base. My group wants to kill/ capture him so we plan a 0300 operation. The op goes bad. The officer was having trouble sleeping so he heard our entry and armed himself. In the craziness a kerosene lantern was broke and a fire stared. The officer died as did his family. This is an unfortunate situation but ole LT Wong made a choice for his family.

On the other hand if we tied up the whole family, covered them with petrol then did the dramatic cigarette toss that is not acceptable in my mind.

The hard truth is that was is an ugly dangerous business. You can do everything right and sometimes the wrong people still get killed. That being said accepting some inherent risk is different than being ambivalent. One might decide that certain tactics and weapons should not be employed in certain areas due to risk of collateral damage. A 500 pound IED designed to flip over a MAC V in the desert won't hurt anybody else, or at least not a lot of people. On the other hand that same IED emplaced for the same reason going off in a Bazzar on a peak shopping day would kill a lot of people.

Well those are my thoughts on that. As always feel free to join the conversation.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Quote of the Day

"[H]ow do you justify supporting your own version of common sense limits on "immoral " behavior then discount somebody else's?"
-Anon 7:43 on my earlier post

For The Good of Society

Spent a lot of time on the road today. Still not sure if I will talk about what came of it but that's not why we are talking now. Part of the time I was listening to talk radio. Down in the hinter boonies we do not get talk radio so it was a nice break from my driving staples of NPR or country music.

In any case Laura Ingram was talking about something or another, marriage I think, and the phrase "the good of society" kept coming up. I got to thinking.

Many conservatives complain about how communists liberals want to tax this or regulate that to protect the children. However in the glass house of stone throwing some of those conservatives often of the very religious psuedo theocracy wanting variety flavor want to restrict drugs, gambling, private sexual behaviors, peoples chosen relationships or whatever "for the good of society." Most of these folks both right and left are well meaning and sometimes they are right. I don't think anybody would argue in favor of letting little kids go hungry or about the many benefits of heroine use. However that is not the point.

To me people wanting to use force of law as a way to restrict my rights and freedom are folks I have a problem with. If they have a legitimate point those folks can argue or persuade people to go with it but forcing them to do what you want is not acceptable. It doesn't matter if they are holding a copy of the communist manifesto, a Koran or a Bible. This is simply not something that should be condoned.

I urge you all to resist the desire to force your viewpoints onto others even though it is tempting. Sooner or later a sub group you fall into will be targeted. In my humble opinion thinking they get to boss others around but that others do not have the right to do the same thing to them when the shoe is on the other foot makes one a hypocrite.

Edited to include:

My intent here is not so much to discuss my socially liberal (though not without consequences) beliefs. The point I am trying to make is that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Saying everybody should stay out of your homeschooling, raw milk, unlicensed/ improperly zoned business, religion as used in the most expansive possible way practices, guns and such but you can tell other people what substances they are allowed to partake in, how they can recreate and who they can spend their life with with is ridiculous. Conservatives telling others what to do to make a better society is equally offensive as liberals doing the exact same thing for the same reasons. It's the classic childlike everything I think is right and everything I do not like is wrong.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Targeting Families

AM wrote an interesting post that talked about this. He hits on the rather important point that it just doesn't work. This is not how folks win wars.

AM's post was about cause and effect. If you hurt somebody's family they will have a serious vendetta against you and might not value the lives of people around you very highly. Even in pretty ruthless criminal organizations they generally leave families off limits. This is largely for functional reasons that even scumbags have people who they love and nobody wants to go down that road. Think about it for a minute. If somebody hurt my family I wouldn't have much to lose and the life expectancies of people around them would be low. Lots of folks probably think the same way.

Something Matthew Bracken touched on is death squads formed by cops or various paramilitary types. Basically it goes like this. Some cops or whatever are doing their jack booted thing. They face some effective reprisals by some guerrilla types. Instead of waiting to get shot up by some rednecks with deer rifles the cops decide to get pro active off the books. They know more or less who the people they are up against, especially in a small town or a place with good proactive intelligence gathering. These cops get together off work and do the old snatch and drag to the woods to kill in a ditch routine. Maybe it is unofficially sanctioned by their bosses in an "I know you know, you know I know but we don't talk about it" sort of way or maybe it's just that no cops look very hard when a rabidly pro freedom gun shop owner vanishes. Also it isn't exactly too hard for a group of cops to make sure an investigation doesn't go anywhere.

Of course the G types are doing the same thing more or less; it might have developed on it's own or as a response to the regime death squads but it doesn't really matter.. They quickly realized that instead of waiting for a bunch of guys with body armor and automatic weapons to stack outside the door at 2 am it's better to get their own group of guys and hit some houses of their own, snag a guy coming out of a bar or whatever.

This is bad but it happens with almost predictable regularity. Look at the various dirty wars in South America throughout the 70's and 80's or Iraq circa 2006-2008ish. Like they say history doesn't repeat itself but sure rhymes.

I do not think that lethally targeting families is a good idea first because of the slippery ethical slope it puts you on (pretty quick you're bombing random civilians Bagdad 2008 style to destabilize the security situation) secondly because of reprisals and third because it doesn't gain the desired effects. I just think it is a bad idea.

That does not mean you should not target families (non lethally). Shunning is very powerful in isolated insular communities which a lot of small towns sort of resemble. Imagine a guys morale if his wife can't get her hair cut, the family has to drive 90 miles to find a doctor or dentist, the grocery store stacks the canned stuff on top of the bread every time, the son can't make a friend to save his life, the daughter isn't asked to the dance despite being a beautiful and charming girl, the bank messes up their account causing overdraws or freezing their money almost weekly, the mechanic won't look at the family car, you get the idea. Pretty quickly that guy is going to move or find another job.Shunning takes a high percentage of the community.

However there are still things a smaller group can do. Not much says you aren't welcome like burning someones house down. Also that has the benefit that you can find a time when it is unoccupied and not harm anybody. A group that has a reputation for action gets to the point where they don't even have to do these things. They just need to drop a night letter saying to leave or they will do whatever. Worst case if the night letter is accompanied by a Godfather style animal head it will probably be taken seriously.

Anyway those are my .02 cents on that.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ethics in Everything and Target Selection in Fighting and War

This one has been brewing in my head for awhile ever since Mountain Guerrilla and then American Mercenary wrote about the topic. (Since they wrote so long ago I couldn't find their specific posts within the amount of time I was willing to put into the matter.) In any case the topic has sat sufficiently and either turned into fine wine or some rotten cabbage dish. Anyway here we go.

A few overarching principles:

1) We have free choice.

2) Actions have consequences.

As Kurt Sutter (the guy behind Sons of Anarchy) said about killing off Opie "Bad thing's don't happen in a vacuum." Sooner or later somehow bad things usually happen to people who do bad things.  Maybe it is about life choices or personality sets or social circles, call it what you want. It isn't always 1 to 1 or right away but things have a way of coming around. 

3) As momma said other peoples bad behavior does not excuse ours.

4) There are clear lines of right and wrong. Between the clear lines of right and wrong are varying degrees of both.

5) While it is not a get out of everything worthy excuse the circumstances surrounding an event matter.

6) If in doubt, do onto others as you would want them to do to you.

So here we go. I am responsible for myself and the minor children in my care. I cannot control if Bank of America and the global banking oligarchy are destroying our economy or whatever. I have read about folks who think that B of A and the global banking oligarchy destroying our economy justify all manner of financial shenanigans on their part. I personally do not feel this way. If I swipe my credit card for a tank of gas or to buy some cool kit online I am promising to pay them back within the 42 page customer agreement I didn't read. If in a year or two I buy some land or a home I am promising to pay them back.

Things happen in life that can affect our finances. If people have a life changing event like being seriously injured or disabled or a sudden unplanned job change and a hard time replacing the income they can fail on some things. This is sad but happens in life. Bankruptcy exists for a reason. That being said I have a hard time with people borrowing money they know they will not be able to pay back or 'strategic defaults'.

This does bring us back to point 5. Jingle mailing B of A when you can afford the payment is a bit different than getting owner financing from a neighbor, ceasing payment and making them go through a ton of effort to get you out. Sort of like stealing from Mom and Pop's corner store is a bit different than Walmart. It doesn't make these actions right, just that I can see how someone could feel a bit less bad about them.

Fundamentally lethal force should be used judiciously in defense of life, limb, eyesight and essential property.  The words most commonly used in legal circles are ability, opportunity and jeopardy. Ability is about a weapon or disparity of size that means they have the ability to harm me. Opportunity is about proximity; a  guy with a knife can't stab me from 50 yards away but somebody with a gun could shoot me. Jeopardy is that you reasonably believe to be in danger. Randy Coulture or Bass Rutten (both famous professional fighters and all around scary guys) would have a hard time justifying shooting an narmed 200 pound man while 5 ft 100 pound Sally could justify shooting that same 200 pound man.

Property is an interesting sticking point. I won't shoot somebody if they try to steal my TV (but will shoot someone trying to take food that will feed Wifey and Walker during an emergency). That is what insurance is for and to be honest popping off meth heads for stealing my TV just isn't worth the hassle.

In some states people have the legal right to use lethal force in defense of property. Even setting aside ethical considerations it probably just isn't worth the hassle of shooting a meth head trying to steal your TV. If you fix the window and get a TV things can be back to normal in a couple days while shooting Meth Head Bob could very well ruin your life.
Anyway that sums up my opinion on that. Onto the crazy Mad Max, Red Dawn times.

The idea of using lethal force a bit freely is a common theme in survivalist circles. A lot of this blustering is just BS, sometimes 6 pack deep BS. However even factoring that in some seriously warped beliefs still exist.

To paraphrase AM  "the concept of ethically justifying the profession of arms (or killing outside of the most narrow defensive scenario) is dubious at best."

There is how the world should be and how it actually is. People shouldn't fight and counties shouldn't have wars. Also people should date based on personalities and character not shallower things like boobs, butts, biceps and bank accounts. When they disagree adults fight and when countries (or tribes) disagree they go to war. Sometimes they do it for good reasons and other times for bad reasons but most of the time they are in between. If you want a job that is easy to always feel good about become a doctor and volunteer free medical services to disadvantaged children.

There is a definite need to respond with some proportion to events.  Shooting or choke slamming a hungry 10 year old kid who is trying to steal from your garden doesn't make sense. Having a variety of options like basic hand to hand skills, mace, tasers, rubber bullets, etc helps here.

I do not believe that you must wait for somebody to attack you to respond. If you know a fight is coming better to be attacking their camp at 3am than them doing the same to you. That being said this is a hard one to balance. Folks would have to be pretty bad (like the classic roving robbing raping gang) or I would have to be pretty darn confident they were going to hurt me or mine to go this way.

Outside of a direct self defense situation such as in a civil war or guerilla situation things get even more complicated. Somebody can be an active participant in a conflict without pulling triggers. Hitler didn't (to the best of my knowledge) personally kill anybody but he was obviously a participant. In my opinion active participants, leaders and such are fair targets.

Everyone who disagrees with your agenda is not a legitimate target. Also the friends and family of legitimate targets are not automatically legitimate targets. Just because someone else can justify burning down houses with women and children inside doesn't mean that I will stoop to the same levels.

It is worth noting that low level folks who work in support of an organization may not actually believe in it or even in some cases be working voluntarily. A secretary who worked for the county might just be trying to feed her kids or not have a choice of staying on when the Chinese invade. A guy who runs a coffee shop can't very effectively turn away a bunch of young guys with guns. Especially those who are able to trash the shop and hurt his family without reprisals if they want. The question of whether you can justify ethically kill someone is different from whether you should. 

I don't want to get into target selection too deeply because that is a different post that has been written by other people. Simply put you figure out the goal and the effect which you believe will lead to said goal and then look to achieve it by selecting appropriate targets. I would argue that low level support type employees of the regime who are not actively of your same broad regional/ cultural group are better targeted by recruiting, co opting, bribing or coercion than violence.

Example: Jill is a normal 40ish lady in one of those executive assistant/ admin type jobs. She is a key person in a fairly important office at the district/ county level of the regime. You could easily kill Jill or grab her for a quick interrogation then kill her. You would learn some of what she remembers off the top of her head and disrupt internal processes there for a week or so.

On the other hand if you do some analysis on Jill other opportunities may exist. It may be possible to have somebody (a recruiter or their cut out) approach her at the right place and time. If she is leaning toward the regime or apolitical (Despite what politically active and strong feeling people think a lot of folks don't really care and just want to live their lives.) there may be an easy button to push or threaten to push. Selecting, recruiting and running sources is like target selection a whole other topic and one I am not all that well qualified to write on. My point is that Jill might develop into (willingly or less so) a very valuable source. She could help you fill in who they players are, tell you what is coming down the pipe, push through or falsify paperwork that is convenient for you and lose or misfile stuff that would hurt you.

In fact if the best guerrilla campaign you can come up with is to kill the regime's low level soldiers and support folks it is advisable to do some self education and research instead of acting. It is not that they aren't valid targets just that it isn't a winning plan.

Let's touch on that low level soldier for a second to try and explain the difference between killing some poor bastard and killing that poor bastard for a purpose. Finding a nice place to waiting for the random PLA soldier to walk by and busting a cap in his dome is fine I guess. On the other hand if you were to kill that same PLA soldier today then a couple guys in the market tomorrow and kidnap another off chasing some skirt in a week you might well force the local PLA leadership to restrict movement to larger groups. This will restrict their movement because folks can't go out in onesies and twosies to do whatever. Also it will hurt their morale and force their presence to be more aggressive.

To put it another way let's say Billy Bob and his cousins happen to stop and blow up the ambiguous lone water truck. It is just the first enemy thing that came by. On the other hand Tom's group, in conjunction with other groups also decides to start blowing up (or whatever) water trucks. Their goal is first to hurt the morale of the PLA by killing their showers and forcing them to eat field rations instead of real food. The long game and primary purpose is to make them start guarding the water trucks. This will tie up resources that could be used for active combat and will generally stretch their already thin resources even further.

Make sense?

Precision in lethal targeting is desirable. Obviously you want to kill the folks you mean to kill, not the school bus full of kids in front of them. This runs all the way from training to actually hit what you aim at to choosing when, where and how to engage targets.

There is a trade off between collateral damage and payoff. Collateral damage alienates people from your cause, gives the enemy PR opportunities and generally complicates your life. The amount of collateral damage that is acceptable for an operation varies based on the payoff.  This is really complicated and I don't think there are easy answers. If the equivalent of Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Stalin and Kim Jong Ill are all in the same place at the same time you hit it and use resources and energy to mitigate the collateral damage. On the other hand killing a soldier or minor figure but killing 6 random civilians and injuring 30 with a bomb is a bad trade. While I wouldn't target them specifically if a low level regime employee could get caught in something it wouldn't bother me too much.

The topic of collateral damage in the context of urban operations, people in houses and such is complicated. Proportion is important here as is the tactical urgency of the situation. Leveling an apartment building because somebody took a pop shot from a window is not smart. On the other hand of you are being effectively engaged or taking casualties do what you must. If somebody is stupid enough to shoot at some folks walking by from their house they should expect hate to be brought down on them. Shooting an RPG at a room that has a machine gun which is effectively engaging your element is probably a decent choice. If that RPG collapses the whole place and kills some innocent folks I'm sorry but those are the breaks.

Prudent target selection is very important. Aside from worries about collateral damage we have to consider that resources including time, money and ammunition are finite. This is especially important because Guerrillas are historically vastly out numbered and fairly poorly supplied/ resourced. A guerrilla group cannot trade a dead soldier and a case of rifle ammunition for the same regime blood and ammo. They will run out of men and weapons first which means they will lose, period.

We have to look at payoff. Guerrillas need to find times when they can shoot 200 bullets, kill 2 or 3 PLA soldiers and get away clean with them shooting lots of ammo and dropping a bunch of bombs onto an empty wood line. Also coming back to our previous point (if this is that organized) this needs to be in support of a desired effect.

While it is true that killing every PLA soldier would result in winning that isn't plausible and doesn't pass the historic reality check. Remember, if your group was capable of meeting the enemy openly in large scale combat this would be a conventional war, not a guerrilla war. A more plausible goal is to make the cost in terms of money and blood of pacifying/ holding the area more than the regime is willing to pay and wait until they give up. Or maybe conducting enough violence via attainable goals like wiping out a small outpost to make PR points until you are able to gain enough political backing to win that way or put together an army able to fight openly. All 3 of these options (fight till they leave, win via politics or win via open conflict) have historical presidencies though there is some muddling between the first two.

 So in conclusion. I think it is ethical to kill people who are trying to kill you or directly and tangibly supporting them. However unless they are trying to kill you it is prudent to target specific groups in pursuit of your overall objectives. Don't do something just to do it, do it to achieve an effect. 

Anyway this post got really long and rambling. Hopefully it makes you think about some things. Input is welcome.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughts on Insurgencies (3?): Myths, Night Letters and Cost to Benefit Ratio

I have enjoyed writing this series (1, 2) and hope you have gotten something out of it. I was quite proud of the overwhelmingly positive response the first chapter got. I hope to keep a bit of that spark in every chapter. Anyway it is time for another chapter. I imagine it will continue periodically for the foreseeable future.

The first thing I am going to talk about today is what I think is the biggest myth about insurgents/ guerillas/ partisans in certain preparedness/ liberterian and pro gun circles. For lack of a better word lets call this myth the noble insurgent. In America the term Noble Patriot would fit better. The idea is that these noble insurgents are operating within an acceptable moral framework and level of violence against a clearly targeting a definite enemy and moving towards pure and worthy goals. This myth is so presumptuous and morally superior I cannot find the words to accurately describe it. It is to many men with an assault rifle and a copy of the Constitution what the nice college girl trying to earn her degree is to a guy in a strip club.

Lets disect it real quick. The Noble Patriot is absolutely sure that a) his cause is riteous or possibly holy, b) that the violence he commits against c) whomever is an evil supporter of tyranny (or otherwise disagrees with him) is just and noble for the end cause. We will go point by point.

A) My real concern here is that typically the crazier someone and their cause are the more riteous and possibly holy they believe it to be. Just because an individual or a group believe in a cause doesn't make it just. Also for heavens sake please don't find 3 pieces of scripture that, taken completely out of context, seem to support your cause and say it has sacred underpinnings. I am not going to say that all true believers are crazy. Some are decent sane folks who just believe really strongly about this or that. However some are completely off their rocker. There is nothing scarier than a true believer.

B) I don't have a real issue with this one. When you start hurting or killing folks I just can't see morally, ethically or otherwise how it matters much how you do it. To say that shooting them is OK but stabbing then is wrong, dropping mortars on them is OK but an IED is wrong, etc doesn't have much standing with me. Maybe a certain way is slow or cruel but at the end of the day the only person to whom that matters is the one it is inflicted upon. I don't think God differentiates between dudes you just shot in the face vs dudes you killed in another manner.

C) This is where the whole Noble Insurgent thing really breaks down. The Noble Insurgent ideal works only if we think in absolutes. People are absolutely good in the context of whatever your value system is or against it an absolutely bad. Anybody with experience in a chaotic area suffering a serious breakdown of law and order, let alone an insurgency or civil war can say that absolutes are a hard thing to find. Most people have some good elements and some bad elements. We are talking about a whole lot of shades of grey between a little bit of black and white on the perimiters. A and C come together to create some real issues.

I get reminded of a quote from The Goodfellas. "For most of the guys, killings got to be accepted. Murder was the only way that everybody stayed in line. You got out of line, you got whacked. Everybody knew the rules. But sometimes, even if people didn't get out of line, they got whacked. I mean, hits just became a habit for some of the guys. Guys would get into arguments over nothing and before you knew it, one of them was dead. And they were shooting each other all the time. Shooting people was a normal thing. It was no big deal." Another notable quote is "when the only tool you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail." Basically once you get into the habit of killing folks to solve problems it is disturbingly easy to start killing all sorts of folks to solve all sorts of problems.

The honest truth is that despite the purity of their goals insurgents/ whatever are going to have to do a lot of bad things. More significantly they are inevitably going to have to intimidate/ coherce/ conscript (at least in a limited way for limited tasks) and steal. The last Matthew Bracken book had a good portrayal of this. It is fine and dandy to think about killing enemy soldiers or traitors but what about a shop keeper, small business owner or average joe trying to get by in a crazy situation? This is where those shades of grey continue to be problematic. Sure capping a dude who you estimate to be 90% evil is an easy decision but what if you think he is  52% evil?

The blunt and honest situation, if you look at accurate real life examples, is that insurgents are eventually going to have to force some sort of goods, services or information out of people who are not willing to give it. It is truly unavoidable. The 'cause' is going to bump into some decent normal people who just want to live their lives. Shooting enemy soldiers is pretty clear cut but what about some average joe so you can get some food or fuel?

Before flaming this please realize that I am not saying all insurgents or insurgencies or 'patriots' are inherantly bad. Nor am I saying that some causes they could stand for are not entirely just. Personally I can say there are some situations where I would start collecting information, sabotaging and destroying infrastructure and killing enemy personnel. It would be like a more boring but also more effective Red Dawn. I am a pragmatist and thus believe that the ends can justify the means. My main point is that folks need to get off of a high, morally superior horse and come to terms with the fact that being a successful insurgen is going to mean doing some bad things. It is also going to mean doing some bad things to people who probably don't really deserve it.

Maybe it is easy for Americans to have a nice sanitized 60's Western PG view of this sort of thing because our Revolution was a really long time ago and our civil war is also beyond real authentic memory. We can say that in America these things are fine, clean and noble. We can also use cultural, ethnic and racial steriotypes to think that revolutions and civil war's in other parts of the world are not dirty, nasty and violent because of their inherant nature but because these people are somehow inferior to us. Anyway onto the next point.

Insurgents are successful largely (or at least in part) because they can effectively intimidate the populace. To burst your bubble even further they don't intimidate people because they are tough, virtuous and have neato rifles; but instead because they prove very willing to cripple, main or kill those who do not bend to their will. Night letters are a great example of the power insurgents can have. A night letter is just a letter, posted at night and attributed to a given group that gives a warning/ threat. For example lets talk about Afghanistan. Here is a story that isn't exactly true but is very like a lot of true stories. Those crazy Americans think it would be nice to teach girls (oh their wacky western ideas) to read, do basic math and stuff like that. Lets say they go to months of effort and great expense to build and set up a nice school for these girls to learn some stuff. They hire a teacher and all that too. The night before the scheduled big opening of the school the teacher gets a letter stuck to his door. It says "If you teach those girls, we will cut your head off" and is signed by the local insurgent group. No way the teacher is going to deal with that. He may or may not do a lot of things the next day but sure as hell isn't going to that school! The reason this letter is effective is not because the insurgents are pure of heart or have nice rifles; but because the insurgents have a track record of cutting people's heads off. They have probably cut the head off of a  couple people from the teachers village for whatever reason.

While I am diametrically opposed to the Taliban's perspective on educating young girls I cannot say their methods aren't awesomely effective. An insurgent in another place, provided they were willing to do what it takes to establish the kind of credibility required to get this sort of reputation, could accomplish a lot of things with night letters. Maybe the evil occupiers have a base in your area. On that base they have toilets and since they are exceeding the capacity of that system they have plumbing issues. They hire a plumber who then gets a night letter. Either the insurgents have already earned through blood some credibility and he quits or it takes till plumber #3 for them to get that credit. Night letters flow well into my next point.

Insurgents are never on an even playing field with the government/ occupiers. If they go life for life and dollar for dollar they will quickly lose. However if they can find a way to negate or otherwise tie up a significant amount of personnel, energy and money for a modest investment they are in business. Back to that night letter I talked about before. Lets say the occupiers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as lots of time and energy on a project and that project can be nullified by the insurgents posting a single letter. Even a force with lots of men, money and resources can quickly be worn down when the their large investments are countered by the 25 cents it costs to write a letter.

IED's are another great example. A fairly smart Iraqi bomb maker (specialized insurgent skill) with some electrical skills and a flair for creativity makes a new type of bomb. It costs $500 in components and a couple days of his time. Call it $750 just to have a number. That bomb blows up, messes up a vehicle and kills a few people. The Americans send numerous experienced specialists to study this bomb. Then the Army Center for Lessons Learned, EOD and numerous other groups and contractors spend a ton of money figuring out how to defeat this new threat. Millions of dollars are spent which then creates a new system or product. That product is created and fielded to as many groups as possible as quickly as possible. It costs tens of millions of dollars on the low end. So for an investment of $750 the insurgents killed 3 guys, wrecked a truck, tied up countless thousands of man hours and MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Insurgents can do well with this sort of techniques. Not flashy like direct action missions and that stuff but far more useful. Even if the enemy is 20x stronger and 20x better funded by using techniques that tie up vastly disproportionate amounts of their money and time they can be worn down into defeat.

I guess in closing being an insurgent is not a nice business. They do really bad things, sometimes to pretty decent people. If you don't believe that the ends justify the means then I suggest another hobby. If you do choose to be an insurgent then use the fear your group envokes to your full advantage. Also plan and conduct operations that will tie up disproportionate amounts of the enemies time, money and resources.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

quote of the day

"A cardinal rule of ethical living is that you take responsibility for your own choices and you don't place the burden of them on others."
-Knight Kiplinger

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Applied Ethics and Ballistics With My Bestest Blogger Gal From OK

I got this comment from Pearls yesterday and have been stewing on it since them. Didn't come to any real amazing answers since then.

If you missed the background here is what you need to get up to speed.

Pearls says, Its the fact that people will do anything to survive that would keep me from allowing someone to cross my land. I don't want them telling someone else how they traveled. I don't want to become accustomed to "outsiders" so close on my land. I done want someone to see our diggs, preps, outside buildings, gardens, livestock or my family.

I am very familiar with the original guys post on western OKC/OK as well as the land he was describing and have been following the post afterwords with interest.

Cutting a fence will get you shot - I find a lock that isn't mine on my chain....well, the chain will be cut off - a new one put in its place and a close watching of the gate will ensue.

TOR is right - people will do what it takes to survive - keeping my land off limits is just one step in making sure that is exactly what happens to my fam...

A trespasser (which is what they are) may have absolutely no intent on harming me or my family, but I have no way of knowing that and I am not willing to take that chance that they do want to do us harm....

I realize that the original poster was talking about bugging out and I am coming from a "set" position, but both sides need to be evaluated before you take any action - just looking at it from someone wanting to pass and ignoring the landowner is dangerous.

TOR replies:
Pearls, Great comment. Interesting perspective and points. I can definitely see where you are coming from. These sort of ethical discussions to not lead themselves to clear cut moral clarity but I believe the process of thinking through them has some value. I certainly agree that looking at it solely from the side of the traveler would not be a realistic perspective.

My one real question is... Would you would rather have a desperate person (or group) who went through the pasture then bypassed the blocked bridge/ whatever and is driving away or a desperate person (or group) stewing knowing you are the person preventing them from getting home?

Consider the risks of NOT allowing simple passage as well as the risks of allowing it.

As for my other thoughts. I think it depends a lot on the size of your land and its potential as an alternate route. If you live near a choke point (bridge, highway intersection, pass, etc) and your land backs up to BLM/USFS/etc land with viable alternate routes this is probably a significant issue to think about. If you live towards the end of a dirt road and are surrounded by other private land owners with routes to nowhere then it is a minimal concern.

While the criteria for lethal force varies significantly from state to state I can't see anyplace possible being cool with drilling some guy in the face with an '06 from 300 yards because he gets near a fence with a pair of wire cutters. In all but a genuine full on TEOTWAWKI shooting someone simply because they arguably attempt to cut a fence is going to get you at least a decade in a small cement room with a large woman (who probably likes women) named 'Spike'. And that is assuming you win the gunfight. Crazy things happen when people get in gun fights and a sure thing can quickly turn into a very bad situation.

I did come up with one potential easy get out of this ethical conundrum option for the land owner. As a 'traveler' would be wise to at least attempt to gain permission instead of trespassing a land owner could be well advised to simply do their homework and know another way to the likely alternate route (aside from across their land). Lets say people might want to cross your pasture to get to a gravel road which leads to unimproved road 231 that will get them around the bridge and home. The path of least resistance might be suggesting going back one mile to Johnson road where you will take the third left, travel one half mile and then take the first right which T's into unimproved road 231.

It is probably worth considering other potential variables into the equation such as:

-What sort of event is this? Blackout/ hurricane/ earthquake/ riot/ etc or a genuine TEOTWAWKI. This will factor heavily into what you are capable of doing to protect your property without visiting 'Spike'. It will also factor into the desperation and potential reactions of travelers/ possible trespassers.

-Are you willing to kill someone because they want to cross your land? It is easy to think about a couple meth maggots who cut your fence but what about a Mom with two kids who really wants to get home and will not leave the front gate?

-What is your real ability to stop potential trespassers. Just as it is easy to see the moral clarity of our position it is easy to see how our plan will work as we intend it to. Assuming an armed threat or even shooting someone will end the matter is very idealistic.

As a final thought I do not have any clear or concise answers to these questions. Real world ethics questions are difficult because they live in complex shades of grey. It is interesting that people almost universally see the moral argument for THEIR perspective while somehow ignoring that any moral argument could exist on the other side.

Monday, June 22, 2009

quote of the day

"War has also taught me that each one of us contains every ingredient of the human recipe. By varying measure we are all cowards and brave men, thieves and honest men, selfish and selfless men, malingerers and champions, weasels and lions. The only question is how much of each attribute we allow-or force-to dominate our being."
-Eric L. Haney

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Interesting Conversation on Ethics.

has been going on at Survivalblog. As for my thoughts on planes as a BOV: If you are a well trained pilot who is 100% sure they can get their hands on a fully fueled plane, take flight and confidently fly to get them to a pre planned safe place (with friends and pre positioned supplies) where they can readily land that is within the range of a single tank of fuel using a plane makes sense. One should note that statement has a whole lot of qualifiers. Also how are you going to KNOW that a plane is in position, ready to go, fueled and there for your perfect movie moment exit if you are not the one who fueled it up, made sure it was maintained and locked the door? All ethics aside (getting to that later) betting on a GOOD plan where a crucial component is outside of your control is not prudent.

As for trespassing, cutting fences, etc. If you need to cross private property (ranch/ farm/ etc) to get to that forest service road or alternate route just asking should be the first option especially if the main house is in the immediate area. Driving slowly up to the house and getting out slowly then waiting for someone to come out is a good start. I don't know a farmer or rancher who would refuse to allow someone simple passage across their land to connect with their alternate route in an emergency situation. If nothing else this means getting the traveler out of their hair. I have a hard time seeing how a truck driving slowly along a road on a 100,000 acre ranch in WY getting riddled with rifle fire if it showed no hostile intent. Conversely it would be very easy to interpret someone cutting the lock on the pasture gate of a 20 acre place as them coming towards the house to rape, pillage and plunder. If just asking is a ready option then it is the advisable course of action.

As for the broader question of ethics in extreme situations. It is my observation that people have an inherent desire to survive. We will trade whatever we have including our most prized possessions and even bodies to live for another day. We will steal, rob, harm or even kill our fellow man if it will increase our chances of survival. This tendency crosses all meaningful characterizations of people including race, gender, religion, intelligence, upbringing and socioeconomic status. I believe there is much more of a variance in peoples ability to successfully do whatever it takes to survive in extreme situations then their desire to do so.

If my survival (or that of my loved ones) required stealing from or otherwise imposing my will on other human beings with force I would do so. I do not say this to act tough or with any sort of bravado. I do not say this because my plan if things went to hell is to turn into a highway man or a robber baron, in fact quite the opposite. I say this because it is the simple unadulterated truth. Not true for you? If your spouse or child needed medicine which someone had in their possession but would not give up what would you do? The short and simple answer is that 99% of people would do everything in their power to get the medicine, consequences be damned.

I think we have at least cleared up my opinion of what people are capable of. Now lets talk about what WE SHOULD DO. Lets get back to elementary school ethics, you probably should not do things that you would not like it if others did to you. I believe that our preparations should be such that we are a force (at least in a small way) for stability instead of disorder. If we are going to have any affect on others it should be a positive one. We should do everything possible to be able to execute all of our survival plans in a manner that does not in any way infringe on the rights of others.

IMHO the best course of action is to make good, realistic plans that do not in any way infringe upon the property or rights of others and if need be adjust your plans in order to complete your objectives while staying as close to 'do onto others as you would want them to do onto you' as possible.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Roadblocks- Part One of Two

Thanks to Dragon for giving me the inspiration for this post. I can't say we agree entirely on the topic but I've got something good to write about this morning. Thanks again.

I have noticed a real hypocrisy among survivalists when it comes to roadblocks and the free travel of roads. Every survivalist seems to think it is perfectly acceptable for them and their friends to put up roadblocks or ambushes in order to detain, restrain, search and interrogate anyone who has the guts to attempt to travel a road within a couple square mile of their "retreat". At the same time they would be damned if they would let anyone detain, restrain, search and interrogate THEM because THEY have the right to TRAVEL THE ROADS FREELY.

I think the subject of roadblocks has both moral and functional components. SHOULD you block a road and CAN you block a road, if you CAN block the road the HOW would you do so. I will look at the moral side of the SHOULD first.

On the moral side I guess the first question would be what sort of road are you talking about. The most clear cut situation is a GROUP of neighbors on a dead end road deciding that they want to know who is coming up the road. They put up some sort of a roadblock/ checkpoint where their road intersects with the main road or at a good defensible position near there. Their whole purpose is to know who is coming in. If someone comes they would ask "what are you coming here for?" and the person would say something like "I am here to see our cousins the Johnsons". Tim Smith who is working the roadblock/ checkpoint with his younger brother Bobby would send him to the Johnsons to say their cousins X, Y and Z are there to see them. If they say great I am glad they are here then all those folks head up to the checkpoint and pick up the cousins. If they do not have any cousins (or don't want to see them) then those folks (Bobby and the Johnsons) head back down with rifles to tell them to take a hike and not to come back. This sort of a situation would work very well for a dead end road with a realtively small amount of families that are realtively close by (a few miles to the end of the road). Since almost any situation that would lead to having a roadblock would mean supplies are not normally available fuel would not be wisely used driving twelve miles up to the Johnsons if someone comes to see them.

I do not think a family or even a couple families have the right to restrict travel upon a road they do not own. In other words if there is a road traveling parallel to your property line you do not have the inherant right to messs with people traveling down it. Now watching them would be very prudent (LO/OP) but unless they are attempting to squat on the abandoned place next to yours or obviously doing something sketchy (prowling, casing, etc) leave them be. That being said there is no harm in having someone with a rifle and a radio watching them. Got LP/OP?

I think the situation is a lot murkier if a small intact group wants to know who is coming or going but does not live on a dead end road. It isn't like people will be using the freeways if things get real bad. Folks could be traveling long distances on small roads (maybe on foot or pushing a shopping cart The Road style) and I do not think anyone has the right to tell them they can't go to Grandma's place in the next county using that road. It is easy to just tell one guy to go fuck himself and find another route but what if it was 6 guys with rifles? What about 12 guys with rifles and a Somali style Technical. They get out and take cover behind their vehicles except the drivers and the dude on that .50 cal which will turn whatever you think is "cover" to shreads. (Note that cover is a very relative term based on what is shooting at you.)

Aside from getting into unnecessary gunfights I do not think it is morally right to block (or restrict to only locals) through roads. If you have the communications gear I have a simple solution to help ensure your local security. Put up checkpoints on both ends with commo to each other and a third party (to start the alert plan). A family in a car or whatever comes up to the southern checkpoint. The fellow(s) there tell the folks in the car that they are free to travel along the road. They are however not free to leave the main road, camp, etc. Oh yeah and if they are not at the checkpoint on the north end five miles away in a half hour lots of folks with guns are going to start looking for them. It would be nice to help these folks out by engaging them in conversation and helping them with intel about the next leg of their route which you have info on. For example "you can top off on water at Johnson Creek and camp in the state park (it is safe for the most part). Route 12 is washed out at mile marker 15 but you can get around it by X. Oh yeah also don't go into Cutthroatville if you can avoid it." You could also gather intel from these folks about where they were and have been. Knowing that Backstabberville is also pretty dangerous and the 19th ave bridge is down could be essential. If nothing else you could pass that info on to people headed the other way. Beware of acting rashly based upon single source intelligence, stuff that one person told you but if you hear the same realistic thing a couple times then it is probably true. (Disconcerning rumors, confusions and intentional falcities from good information is a topic in and of itself.)

IMHO the least moral situation is a town that is on a through road refusing to let people travel that road. Out in the sticks amost all towns are built upon the old two lane highways which preceeded freeways. Having checkpoints would be prudent. In some cases the answer could be having folks take an easy bypass of a left and two right turns to get back to the highway would be reasonable if it wasn't a huge adddition to the length of the trip. Having folks travel an extra mile or two would not be nuts but a generic "fuck you go find another way" when the alternate route is 30 miles back would cause all sorts or problems. I am not sure how I even feel about that.

*Pause for 20 minutes to make breakfast in bed for Wifey*

Maybe leaving the roads and by default the town open but making it very clear that camping of any sort or vagrancy are not allowed (will result in a big lump on the head and an immediate escourt out of town) and theft/ burglary/ robbery will result in spending some time on a work crew (restitution) or a long time with a short rope.

Much more could be said about good ways to deal with people coming through a town in a real bad situation. I do want to add a couple random thoughts on the matter though. Having people come into the town to trade would be a good thing but having lots of random folks all around your town would not be. What about having a secure place near town to conduct trade. Think Blackjack Fairgrounds a la Jericho. The town could provide security and ban people who intentionally trade in a false or otherwise unethical manner in exchange for selling space to venders. That would give the town some income that could be used for whatever and keep tons of strangers out. Also having a rule where people without a place to stay must be out by dark could be wise. Kind of like a sundown rule but without the racism.

That pretty much covers my thoughts on the moral component of roadblocks. Since it ended up being much longer then I thought the functional component is going to wait for tommarow. We have a busy day ahead of us: grocery shopping, getting a Christmas Tree, Christmas shopping and dinner out. I might write some more stuff later today.

Edited immediately after publishing to include: Regardless of the morality of roadblocks and your decisions about them do not extort people. You do not have the right to "charge a fee" or "toll" for traveling on the road. Doing so is strait up third world style thuggery and brands you a bandit by any reasonable definition. If you want to be a highwaymen or robber then go ahead and take your chances (in this life and the next) but do not for a second pretend you are in a morally defensible position when you do so.

Even from a pragmatic position this tactic is just not worth it. Even if just a couple (groups of) travelers out of ten would rather shoot it out then submit to your highway robbery it will be a fairly bloody business. To add to that if you have enough muscle (people with guns) to scare most (groups of) travelers into submitting to your thuggery then the amount of goods or whatever stolen will be divided so many times that it will not be particularly profitable. This semi fixed nature of such enterprises would make it too easy for you "victims" some of whom will surely be mean and well armed to retaliate by throwing a fire bomb at night or popping off a few well aimed rifle shots before or after the fact. Any way this proposition is looked at you would almost surely be better spent growing food or doing something less dangerous.

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