Today is a particularly dreary day from the standpoint of the comprehensive press. As we went to press, Drudge‘s large-type headline was “Tax Bill Kept Secret.” Yawn. We’ve known that for weeks. The New York Times lede was no better: “Limit on 401(k) Savings? It’s About Paying for Tax Cuts.” And the Washington Post‘s “In Virginia governor’s race, two low-octane candidates vie for votes beyond their bases” seemed self-referential — a headline that was itself low-octane.
Here at Founders Broadsheet we regard such occasional news vacuums as an opportunity rather than a marketing disaster. It provides an opening for a Divergent Thinking Day — a chance to cover all sorts of odd-ball stuff that’s actually quite interesting. This is the stuff that gets left out of the usual forced march through disasters and the latest Republican / Democratic skirmishes.
So please read and enjoy!
First, there’s free-market columnist John Stossel making an outrageous (but credible) case that private military can do a better job than the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He cites some interesting historical precedents (privateers fighting Britain during the American Revolution, mercenaries suppressing Somali pirates more recently).
Second, anthropology weighs in to demonstrate why there’s not likely to be peace in the Mideast during our lifetimes:
“Most important to Middle Easterners are loyalty to kin, clan, and cult, and the honour which is won by such loyalty. These are the cultural imperatives, the primary values, held and celebrated….Honour is gained in victory….[P]eace does not restore honour.”
Third, two political scientists argue that the tribal culture of honor is further enforced by mandatory brideprice:
“Approximately seventy-five percent of the world’s population lives in countries where asset exchange upon marriage is obligatory….[R]ising brideprice can create serious marriage market distortions that prevent young men, especially those who are poor or otherwise marginalized, from marrying. This phenomenon is especially evident in polygamous societies, where wealthy men can afford more than one bride. These distortions incentivize extra-legal asset accumulation, whether through ad hoc raiding or organized violence. In such situations, rebel and terror groups may offer to pay brideprice—or even provide brides—to recruit new members. Descriptive case studies of Boko Haram in Nigeria and various armed groups in South Sudan demonstrate these linkages…”
Afghan brideprice is described here.
Fourth, another political scientist documents the folly of the U.S. attempting to impose a Western rule-of-law culture in Afghanistan in ignorance of and opposition to the country’s traditional judicial system:
“There never was a justice vacuum in Afghanistan. Nonstate justice, particularly the local community dispute-resolution mechanisms known as jirgas and shuras, maintained legal order in most of the country.”
These four out-of-the-mainstream critiques of Washington security strategy through three successive administrations bolster the case argued in yesterday’s Founders Broadsheet that the U.S. should not put its troops in harms away amidst endemic Mideast bloodletting but just confine itself to power balancing where essential to U.S. strategic interests.
The West may not have brideprice, but it has other dysfunctions. The Boston Globe‘s columnist Jeff Jacoby points out the hypocrisy of countries like Spain calling for a two-state solution in Palestine while suppressing with truncheons a two-state solution closer to home (Catalonia).
Click here to go to yesterday’s Founders Broadsheet (“U.S. should power balance, not fight, in Mideast’s civil wars”)