Geitner contacted me about our ongoing discussion of land use in the Americas and mentioned that he wrote a post on the 1812 war at the Volokh brothers' blog. I scooted by and read the article. I quite agree with Geitner's conclusions about how the 1812 war was a strange war and one that permenantly altered Canadian self-perception. However, I should nuance it to say that the 1812 war affected more Lower Caanda (Ontario) than Upper (Quebec).
To state it crudely, the 1812 invasion of Canada was nothing more than an attempted land grab while the British were fighting for their survival during the Napoleonic wars. There were other issues but deep down, post Revolutionary America wanted to settle an old score by 'freeing 'British North America.' Jefferson bragged about how Canada was just a day's march of conquest. Unlike today, the American army was pathetically ragtag and its military leadership was quite inept. Corruption back then was also rife.
One of the consequences of the 1812 war was that when Canada united in 1867, it adopted a very rigid centralism, events didn't quite work out that way; yet, it's interesting to note that the federal prime minister has few constitutional constraints on what he can and can't do. Yet another consequence was that the British North American colonies feared that American agression had awoken and would be landgrabbing. A correct assessment when one looks at the subsequent 80 odd years after the 1812 war. There was the Mexican American war of 1840; the civil war temporaily interrupted the expansion but once the war ended, America continued its releneteless expansion that led to the Spanish America war of 1898.
In the pre-confederation 1860s the Fenian raids caused a lot of consternation at the time. Even though, the Fenians were nothing more than armed yahoos, the Canadian federal government expanded the militias and sent them to protect the border areas where the Fenians crossed. Eventually the Fenian raids petered out after a few gunfire exchanges. Yet until the 1930s the Canadian military always had invasion plans in their drawers. It was only until the 30s were the plans definitely shelved when both sides realized how absurd the sitauation had become.
Prof Glenn posted this article on yet another disgraceful display of anti-Americanism in Quebec during a pee-wee tournament. I don't excuse, what happened was disgraceful. Nonetheless, I was irritated by the professor's further swipe at how because the Quebecois are French that they're naturally anti-American. They're not. Past polls have shown that the Quebecois are the more pro-American province. The polls suggested that the Quebecois were fascinated by American culture, its people and showed more confidence than the Anglophones in the other provinces. Frankly, I don't understand where the anti-Americanism comes from unless its the vulgar leftism that permeates Quebec society.
The professor continued and complained about how Quebec has a disproportionate influence in Canadian politics. My retort is how's that a bad thing? Honestly when I read the article, I smirked in bemusement at how astoundingly niave the North American Anglophones sometimes can be. They sincerely believe that production, distrubution and sales- aka the economy- rule society and are astonished that the economy doesn't.
Tacitly the North American Anglophones know that politics not economics is more important. Banal example abound.Take a look at the statues in any typical, English-speaking town. Who's honoured? The local entrepreneurs? Of course not. It's the founder(s), the war dead, national heros, those that sought the common good. Indeed, in America's case, there are grand monuments to Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson; not to Sears, Sam Walton and Louis Chevrolet. Americans don't have a holiday to celebrate the cotton ginny but they do for Washington's birthday.
I agree that politics is isn't the be all and end all of life but neither is the economy. As in the rest of life, moderation and variety in all things.
I really feel somewhat ashamed that I'm not sufficiently profuse in my praise to Geitner and his blog and to urge my readers to visit his site. He always posts stimulating articles on everyday subjects; yet the themes are deceptively mundane for he weaves a fascinating exposition how a little thing becomes significant.
A noteworthy example is his reflection colonial American provincialism with respect to intellectual life was the result of trying to adapt English land usage and law in America. Indeed reading through the post, one is struck at how the failure to replicate the English land owning usage and patterns eventually led to the American revolution, because the tenants of the land could always leave the land and establish their own frame. Thus, the deferential attitudes that the lower classes showed towards the landowners was noticeably absent.
I contacted Geitner and pointed out to him that in New France, the seigneurial system was an adaption of French land usage under the Ancien régime; yet, the habitants never revolted against their landowners. I hypothesized that the principal reason was due to the incorporation of the Mediterranean urban civilization as informed by Catholicism, more specifically Thomism, in spite of the very strong Janeist streak within French Catholicism during the early colonial. The result was a land use geared more for human convivilaity than the English.
Indeed, I suggested to Geitner that he take a map of any Latin city of the Americas and compare it with the typical Anglophone town. The first thing that leaps out of the map is how the Anglophone towns are spread out over a large area- agglomerative and non-nucleated as Claudio Véliz characterizes them. I remember agreeing with Véliz but also pondering the implications. I remember that one of my first reactions was to complain that Anglophone North America is very 'wasteful' its land use as they used so much of it. However, I stopped and realize that my own bias was seeping and an epiphany came in a lapidary phrase: the Anglophone promote liberty through isolation while the Latins promote it through concentration. The scales fell off my eyes and what I previously viewed as irrational suddenly became logically consistent; rational even
Freedom through isolation explains North American Anglophones' subsequent evolution A few banal example suffice, freedom through isolation explains why Anglophone schools are always out in the middle of nowhere. Can't have the kids distracted by the 'sinful' city. Why Anglophone towns have small strip malls spread throughout the city.
Latin cities are generally more compact and more nucleated usually with some grid pattern derived from the Roman castra. So, everything like schools and markets are within convenient walking or public transport distances. The Latin city is designed to enhance human interaction because that's where freedom comes from.
Land use, consequently, indirectly shapes intellectual life as well as expressions of political discontent in really interesting permutations. To refer to hoary stereotypes- in Anglophone North America, intellectual life took pride in not imitating the metropolitian trends, fashions or disputes. By contrast, Latin cities, even the most isolated, ardently desired to be a mirror of the metropolis no matter how out of place the town looked. With respect to political discontents, the Anglophones always wanted to be left alone and be able to carry out their activities with minimal state interference. In Latin cities, some agitated to become incorporated into the state and be a part of the urban landscape.
Just to finish up the musings, I reflected how North American land use is quite complex because while there's the English land use system, there's also the French- Louisana- and Spanish- Florida and the California territory- land use systems. John Sayles reminded the interviewer that the concept of eminent domain, recognized in American federal law, the mining and water rights of the Southwest and a few other minor juridical institutions originate from Spanish colonial law.
Sayles concluded that in Texas, there's no such thing as a distinct Anglo, black, Hispanic or Indian culture, they're more blended, more nuanced than superficial observers note or appreciate. The same could be said of Canada's own complex land usage patterns.
Cher concitoyen/Chère concitoyenne:
Je vous écris cette petite lettre car je voulais exprimer mes inquiétitude croissante de votre comportement lors de la guerre en Irak. Que vous vous l'opposiez n'a rien de mal en soi-même; néanmoins c'est la façon que vous manifester votre opposition que m'inquiète.
Hier, j'ai lui avec horreur de comment certains parmi vous ont profané les sépulcres perpétuelles des alliées anglophones. Honnêtement je ne comprend pas cet acte tellement vérgongeux, crapuleux et malin. Ça a donné quoi que vous avez porté atteinte de leur mémoire?
Rien qu'une haine croissante envers vous et le pays. Bientôt, les autre citoyens occidentaux refuseront d'acheter vos biens, procurer vos services et transiger avec le pays car les étrangers se demanderont que-ce-qu'il les affolent. Pire, les mêmes étrangers concluront que transiger avec vous, ne vaudrait pas la peine car vos saute d'humeurs, votre comportement, vos attitudes les indigneront si ceux-ci ne les auront pas déjà faits.
Je dois conclure comme Donald Sensing que vous êtes en décline permanente voire en stade terminale. Quelle tristesse! Je pense que je comprend la rage que vous exprimez mais elle est injustifiée. Une grande partie de votre malaise, c'est spirituelle. Vous avez oublié que vous appartenez à la civilisation occidentale et vous partagez les mêmes valeurs que les autre pays occidentaux mais vous avez préféré d'opposer l'impérialisme anglo-saxonne', 'l'hyperpuissance américaine', etc. En somme, des rationalisations afin de blâmer l'autre au lieu de réfléchir de votre situation et se modifier votre comportement, vos attitude, votre haine croissante, votre sentiment d'impuissance face à un monde que se complexifie, en conséquence. Vous souffrez une malaise spirituelle puisque vous vous sentez plus au centre des événements, que ont ignore votre opinion, que ont moque de votre politique. Je sympathise mais il n'est pas déshonorable de se rétrouver parmi d'autre puissances moyennes. Au contraire, il confère une certaine dignité et une certaine modestie. Peut-être vous n'êtes plus au centre de chose mais vous pouvez y contribuer par d'autres moyennes comme le Canada et le Suède font.
Entre-temps, si vous plaît, prenez le temps pendant cette guerre à tout revoir, repenser et même reformer vous-même et la société dans laquelle vous trouvez. Il me dol profondément voir, lire, écouter comme vous, mes chères concitoyen francophones, vous succombez à la jalousie, la rage improductive, la malaise civique et ainsi de suite. Vous avez tellement à contribuer au monde qu'il serait triste qu'on vous y abandonne puisque vous avez devenu trop désfonctionnel comme pays et il ne vaut plus la peine de vous côtoyer.
I visit a lot of the Catholic/religious blogs. The Catholic bloggers call their small space of the blogosphere, St Blog's. I don't write much about religious subjects or discuss religions much. The primary reason is modesty. Other bloggers write far better on the subject than I ever could.
Nonetheless, I do read and keep my eyes open on matters that affect religions or articles on the subject. As my regular readers know, I've often defended France from some of the more egregious bashing but lately the French have made it increasingly difficult. I read with deep shock at how some creeps profaned the perpetual cemeteries of the Americans and British soldiers killed in WW I.
Reading online sources on the state of French society, I'm wonder if it isn't time to pray for the conversion of France in the same manner that Catholics prayed for the conversion of Russia following the Bolshevik revolution? It's a serious question that I ask Catholic/religious bloggers? There's a very deep malaise that sweeping across France. There's a discouragement and a growing sense of fracasomanía which is slowly poisoning the society. So, I ask myself a recurrent question if praying for France's conversion would help pull the country and its people out of a progressive nilism that's engulfing them.
To be sure, I'm not denigrating or mocking secular solutions; bloggers have discussed them, argued over them, dissected them. I simply want to explore another area that's too often overlooked. So what do the Catholic/religious bloggers opine?
Ralph Kinney Bennett writes about the Soviet RPG. By and large, his article explains well the origins of the Soviet anti-tank weapon. Nonetheless, I want to add some additional comments about the Soviet weapon lest anyone assumes that it's a super weapon. It's not even if the rocket launcher is quite versatile and used by many armies.
I pulled out of my library a rather elderly book entitled Weapons and tactics of the Soviet Army by David Isby. He devotes a section to the RPG 7 and it's well worth quoting in extenso:
The Soviet RPG-7 manual devotes more space to sighting problems than to any other topic. Aiming the The RPG-7 is difficult because the PG-7 projectile is seriously affected by crosswinds in flight. The reaction effect of its rocket motor turns it into the wind, and the RPG-7 gunner must estimate the direction and speed of the wind as well as teh target. The sight picture?. US tests of capture RPG-7s revealed that even well trained gunners are normally 10-15% off in estimating the range, greatly reducing accuracy. Targets which are partially exposed or ar moving are even more difficult to range in and hit.
Further, the M1 Abrams tanks and the M2 Bradley fighting vehicles were designed to neutralize the effectiveness of the RPG rockets. In fact the destroyed M1s were blown up by the new generation of Soviet anti-tank missiles most probably the AT-17 Kornet. The RPG is still quite effective in destroying older vehicles like the Marine's AA7 which is the extended, amphibious version of the M-113 armoured personnel carrier, Humvee jeeps and trucks as well as obstacle busters. I won't mimimize the RPG's effectiveness or lethality but as the above quote points out the RPGs are notoriously inaccurate especially when there's strong crosswinds. Obviously, the Coalition will take all the necessary precautions but let's not exaggerate the RPG either.
Trent wrote an article indirectly on a subject that I've wanted to write about: the use of penal battalions in violation of the war fighting rules. As I wrote in my comments to him, I'm fed up with how the Ba'athist Einzengruppentruppe take advantage of the Coalition's adherence to the laws of war by violating the ethical constraints at every opportunity. The penal battalions, forcing citizens at gunpoint to take up arms in suicide attacks, is just the latest.
I'm so fed up that I want the Coalition to unleash its snipers. Give the shooters carte blanche to kill the the thugs. Once they see their buddies suddenly die in front of them or disappear without a trace, they'll eventually crack. Of course, the snipers would be supported by constant raiding. The way I view the current tactical situation, the sergeants and the lieutenants will have to re-read their history books to remind themselves of both the light infantry tactics of the French Indian wars (the North American campaigns of the Seven years war) and the trench raiding tactics of WW I.
The city has its own ecology but they're no more insurmountable than the natural environment. Careful planning and swift brutal actions will do lots to grind the pistoleros into oblivion through attrition. Remember, the Iraqi regime can't replace any lost equipment and can't send reinforcements. Once its human and material resources are gone; they're gone forever.