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Friday, August 26, 2005

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

Why we will lose in
Iraq - the history

I rarely reply to letters to the editor taking issue with my opinions. Usually I do not because the author simply disagrees with my interpretation of the facts.

As far as I’m concerned good opinion pages have plenty of conflicting opinions and lets face it; even I do not have a strangle hold on ultimate truth.

But today I am going to answer a letter that appears on this same page, which takes issue with my last column titled “Why we will lose in Iraq.”

I answer not because the author disagrees with me, but because he takes issue with some of the history which I think points to our eventual failure.

Part of the reason I think we will lose in Iraq is that many similar wars have been fought by empires and they usually lose - sometimes it takes awhile, but eventually the citizens of the empire get tired of having their sons come home in body bags and demand an end to the war and the empire withdraws.

I count that as victory for the guerrillas and defeat for the empire.

Now, I think that much of the author’s disagreement with me may be based on varying definitions of just what is “guerrilla” warfare and “victory.”

However, the author questions whether Rome’s evacuation of Britain was the result of guerrilla action, whether the French ever lost to the Vietnamese, and states that he could find nothing about Britain ever being defeated by guerrilla action.

My apologies for making such short and sweeping statements in my first column but the format of a column does not allow for a great amount of details.

In the name of clarifying the issue I would like to offer a few examples.

First I will try to summarize the history of guerilla warfare in Roman Britannia.

In 55 BC the Romans invaded Gaul (Western Europe) but regular rebellion and warfare convinced Gaius Julius Caesar that conquest was impossible and he settled for what amounted to good trade relations.

The situation between Rome and the British Isle was similar to Iraq’s and ours today as Britannia was a source of iron for Rome as Iraq is a source of oil for us today.

Trade relations with Britannia began about the same time as the invasion of Gaul.

A century later unrest among the locals in Britannia led to a Roman military presence. The locals resisted Rome for 8 years in all out guerilla warfare and within 20 years another revolt broke out led by the famous warrior queen Boudica.

While the Romans eventually regained control no Roman was safe outside the walls of Roman settlements or unprotected by Roman soldiers. Sound familiar?

By 84 A.D. Roman Britain was fairly well subdued again but in 87 the Romans were forced to pull forces back into Gaul (Western Europe) and immediately heavy guerilla and more conventional forces began to operate in occupied Britain which was most of the island south of Hadrian’s wall, north of which lies most of modern Scotland.

Despite the relative peace and prosperity of the South for the next few centuries or so, Britannia was a frontier province and had continual trouble with the northern people like the Picts and Caledonians throughout the Roman occupation. Three full legions, Legio II Augusta, Legio VI Victrix and Legio XX Valeria Victrix and numerous axillaries were permanently stationed in the province until Rome finally gave up and went home.

I think the Roman military presence is similar to ours in Iraq when compared to the resident populations of the Britannia and modern Iraq.

I would add that when comparing ancient history with modern times it is important to understand that in an age of instant communications and near instant transportation the time line for events is necessarily compressed many fold.

What took centuries to unfold in an age of cobblestone roads and donkey carts can now take place in years.

As for France’s loss in Vietnam (then French Indochina) I hold that the French circumstances are very similar to our current situation in Iraq.

Yes, France did “recognize” Vietnamese independence in 1945 but it did so by setting up a puppet government that was suspected to be, and was, more loyal to European interests than the interests of the people.

The situation laid the public relations ground work the C0mmunist-led guerrillas needed to wage the war that eventually saw the complete defeat of both France and later the United States.

As to Britain’s modern defeats by guerillas leading to British retreats from occupied territories, I point to the three Anglo-Afghan wars. The first began in 1842 and the last ended in 1919. The history of these wars is a history of guerrilla warfare waged by a determined populace against a conventional military force. Interestingly, as today, the guerrillas were Muslim and the occupiers were Christian.

It took awhile, but the Afghans gained their independence and British politicians called the troops home with the demands of a populace sick of bringing home sons in body bags ringing in their ears.

1949 several hundred years of guerrilla warfare ended in the independence of Ireland from British rule.

Importantly, I would point to our own American Revolution, much of which was waged by guerrillas, and most of which was waged unconventionally according to the accepted military doctrines of the times.

You may also look to the complete dismantling of the British Empire from 1920 to the 1960s.

While many colonies broke away relatively peacefully, the choice for Britain in many of these colonies was to grant independence or wage war.

By this point, the British people were tired of spending British lives in the name of economic empire, the white man’s burden and the glory of the crown.

I would suggest that the American people will likewise grow tired of spending American lives in Iraq in an attempt to bring “democracy” to what we consider backwards, undeveloped people.

That is why we will eventually lose.

Yes, we can probably stay and prop up any government we want for decades or centuries, but eventually we will get tired of paying the price and we will leave.

Just as the Romans left Britannia, the French and Americans left Vietnam, and Britain abandoned her entire empire.

With modern communications making it easier for populations to see the cost of war, I would bet sooner rather than later.


The NRA Gets It Wrong

by Sheldon Richman

The concept of individual rights really isn’t complicated, but even some of its defenders get it wrong. Take, for example, the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA, of course, concentrates exclusively on the individual’s right to keep and bear arms, but that is no excuse for failing to relate that right to the wider context of individual freedom. By failing to do so, the NRA actually undercuts our rights and endangers the very right it seeks to defend.

The association is focusing its wrath on ConocoPhillips because the company joined a federal lawsuit to block an Oklahoma law that would require employers to let their workers keep firearms in their cars when parked on company parking lots. The law was passed by the state legislature after Weyerhaeuser fired a dozen employees three years ago for having guns in their cars in violation of company policy. ConocoPhillips is the largest of a handful of companies that is challenging the law in federal court. Hence the boycott.

Before getting to the details, let’s stipulate the following:

* Rights cannot conflict. Indeed, the purpose of rights is to avert social conflict and to enable people to pursue their interests in peace, cooperate with one another when suitable, and prosper. Whenever we detect an apparent conflict of rights, at least one of the claimed “rights” is counterfeit. Just as a contradiction in a chain of reasoning is the sign of error, so a conflict of alleged rights is a sign of error.

* The NRA should have the right to boycott anyone it wants. That is simply the freedom to abstain from association, which is entailed by the freedom of association.

* Barring employees from keeping guns in their vehicles is a silly rule because only law-abiding people will observe it. Anyone intending to shoot someone else will be undeterred. (It is worth pointing out that the guns were discovered at Weyerhaeuser during a search for drugs, a measure inspired, no doubt, by the government’s inane “war on drugs.”)

That said, there is no justification for the Oklahoma law. The owner of property has a natural right to set the rules for its use. That’s what ownership means. When a company says you can’t park on its lot if you keep a gun in your vehicle, then the owner’s wishes should be respected. This is no different from being asked not to bring a gun into someone’s home. If you don’t like the owner’s rule, you are free to go elsewhere. An employee can park somewhere else or find another job.

If the NRA wants to urge its members to boycott ConocoPhillips in order to pressure the company into reversing its policy, it should be free to do so. But the NRA goes further: It supports the law that limits employers’ freedom to set the rules on their own property.

The danger of such a move lies in the fact that an attack on one right is an attack on all rights. The rights of gun owners will not be secure if the rights of other kinds of owners are insecure. It is ownership per se that needs a consistent defense.

Contrary to the claims of many gun enthusiasts this case has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. The Constitution governs relations between the government and individuals, not relations among individuals. Weyerhaeuser did not forbid employees from keeping and bearing arms. It could not possibly do that. It merely said that employees may not bring firearms onto its property and if they do so, they may not work for the company. However stupid that policy, the company was within its rights. The NRA has got it wrong.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. Send him email.


Reader pleased with recent column

To the Editor:

Your Sage Views column in the Aug. 19, 2005 issues of the Pecos Enterprise was the first sensible column of yours that I’ve read in the two years I’ve been in Pecos.

I thought all you ever wrote was simply a regurgitation of the official Republican Party line.

Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe you are capable of independent thought.

Yours truly,

Golfers enjoyed participating in the tournament

Dear Editor:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ken Winkle and The Pecos Rotary Club for allowing us to participate in the Wild West Golf Tournament. This event was a great bonding experience both "on" and "off" the golf course. The tournament provided young golfers from the area to exhibit their talent in a friendly atmosphere and showcase wonderful parents having a great time with their children. Plans are already being made to attend next year's event.

We truly enjoyed playing at the Reeves County Golf Course and anxiously await the opening of the new holes. Peter Mora and his crew did a wonderful job getting the course ready for this event. The citizens of Pecos should be proud of this haven that sits right off Interstate 20. To put it simply: The course is beautiful.

Once again: THANKS!!! Sincerely,
Frank P. and Rebecca A. Jimenez
Midland, Texas

PS Support the game of golf and your local golf course.

Reader thinks Iraq war can be won

Dear Editor:

After reading your article "Why we will lose in Iraq" I was convinced that age had destroyed my mind as I did not remember history as stated in your article. After consulting my library, I found that my memorv was not completely gone.

Your article stated. "Rome eventuall_v lost Britannia and Gaul." Rome did occupy Britannia for years but pulled their troops to defend their countrv against invasion leaving the locals to defend themselves against Irish and Scots and later German invaders. The Gauls did occupy a great portion of Europe starting about 385 B.C.. However, the Gaul's final defeat, by Rome, happened in 55 B.C.

Your article stated, "the French eventually lost to the Vietnamese." The French were occupying Vietnam when the Japanese invaded the country. France recognized the independence of Vietnam in 1945. The Indochina War broke out and the French were defeated by the Communist supported Vietminh. I found nothing about Britain being defeated by guerilla action. None of these actions were conducted by terrorists.

It could not be comforting for our military and their families to know that they are sacrificing so much for a lost cause. I feel that we will win this conflict as we have already won many victories resulting from American pressure as:

1. 18 Arab countries met and concluded that reforms were needed in political, economic, educational, and cultural -- emphatically places political reform first.

2. A declaration by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood advocating a "republican, constitutional, parliamentary, democratic state in conformity with the principles of Islam," including rights of women.

3. Elections in Iraq, Afghanistan and soon in Palestine.

4. Syria leaving Lebanon.

5. Women in Saudi Arabia have been given more rights.

6. A political attitude change in Libya.

We cannot and will not push our constitutional ideas on the Iraqs. President Bush and Secretary Rice have made that clear in their many statements lately. We didn't have a constitution over night so give Iraq a chance. If we are pushing democracy down their throats., how did we force so many Iraqis to vote in their election and why do their officials risk being killed for working on a constitution?

Liberal Politicians and media seem to hate Bush more than they love their country. Sincerely,

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