Friday, August 21, 2009

AMERICAN MASCULINITY AND EMPIRE AT RISK


We all know that the American empire is now at risk: the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, has filled the news of this entire decade, but what is less known is that the American masculinity itself might be threatened as well. How do you arrive at this conclusion? Two indicators really: the number of bullets it now takes to kill a man and the news of the army hiring private contractors to watch over its luggage and supply routes. What? Let me explain.


How many bullets does it take to kill a man? How many rounds of ammo do you need to kill an old blind man?


Masculinity is in trouble when you need more than, say 30 rounds of ammo to kill one man at 20 yards. Recent events are troubling, you remember this very publicized police shooting where it took 6 policemen 59 bullets to kill a man threatening suicide, and not even aiming at them with his rifle, which is very reminiscent of another shooting that happened in New York City two decades ago, when it took 52 bullets to half-a-dozen policemen to finally kill an hearing-impaired unarmed shopkeeper who failed to hear their command to stop.


What is troubling in the ''59 bullets incident'' is that only 43 bullets were fished out of the body by employees at the City morgue. Where had the other 16 slugs gone? They missed! This represents a 27% failure. Is this significant? Do these members of the force need extra-training and to spend more time at the shooting range? Don't get me wrong here: I'm not complaining about police brutality or excess of force, I am merely pointing out that perhaps, yes PERHAPS, the standards are falling. What happened to the times of Davy Crockett, or John Wayne for that matter, when a shootist needed only one bullet, one eyed to hit dead center? They didn't have giant magazines then, the ones that hold 15 or more 9mm bullets for pistols and 50 rounds mags for carbines, they only had six shooters and had to make every bullet count, and before that: it was even worse with the single shot flintlocks... one could not afford to miss!


Were masculinity and courage bigger then, when you didn't have to empty an entire clip to kill your man? Probably.


HIRING PRIVATE CONTRACTORS TO DO THE JOB


And now, let's talk about the empire. We heard on the news some weeks ago that the US Army is now hiring private contractors to watch over its supplies, depots, munitions' dumps and its very supply routes. What is wrong with this picture? If I remember correctly, Napoleon's soldiers were perfectly capable of watching their own luggage and supply routes, they posted a few guards and the depot and the armoury were safe. Even WW2 American soldiers were able to do that. What has happened? Now the Army needs private contractors to perform tasks that were taken care of by its own soldiers in previous wars?


Of course, we can understand that the army, for instance, hires private companies to transport its heavy equipment oversees (tanks, artillery and armoured personal carriers), then the navy sometimes lacks ships to do that, and there is the question of costs. It has done so for years, and there is no problem. But the bottom line question is: how much of your tasks can you delegate to the private sector without becoming completely ineffective and a wimp? Will the army ask private contractors some day to do its own fighting? Firms like Blackwater provide so many services that it has become embarrassing for the American government and armed forces.


1- they provide security for American diplomats
2- watch over the supply routes, depots and logistics
3- provide training and personnel for special hit-squads
4- maintain Drone bases in the middle-east
5- even provide training for satellite communication experts of the army, etc, etc....


The problem is that Blackwater and other private contractors are now doing the job of several government agencies and the job of the government itself. They replace the secret service, the CIA, the ground forces and some special branches of the air force, doing their job for them, taking away their task and their workload, but also taking away their legitimacy and their dignity. What happens when Blackwater fights the army's wars for them? When it fights oversees and on the front, AND GETS ITS ASS KICKED.


The Fall of the Roman empire was due to the fact that the legions could not fight their own battles anymore, they needed the help of mercenaries. Even the chaos in Italy and Germany during the Renaissance was due to this resorting to mercenaries. One has only to read Machiavelli to see the dangers of the ''Blackwater'' case.


Are there any solutions?


I don't have any, but let's use some humour for a change. In the case of the trigger happy policemen who have a hard time hitting the target with so many bullets, I'd say look up your great grandfather, yes, the one who has known Davy Crockett in his time, pay him a visit and ask him ''grandpa, could you show me how to shoot?'', or watch a John Wayne movie (this is just as good)!
As for the army general, sticked with the Blackwater problem and his annual budget: I'd say ''give back the army jobs to the soldiers''. It might cost more, but you could always cut expenses in fighting one war instead of two.

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