Einkreisung! “Encirclement!” It was the cry of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the inconstant, ill-mannered, self-doomed Emperor of Germany in the years before “the Great War:” World War I. Wilhelm wanted the sort of imperial power the other nations of Europe had established and would soon surrender: military might upon the seas, colonies in Africa and Asia, and the obeisance of the “lesser powers” of the world. When he became expansive, Wilhelm would admit that destroying the British Navy, seizing a few colonies from his European neighbors, and compelling a kowtow or two from the potentates of Britain and France would be a good start.
What did Wilhelm mean by encirclement? Merely that in the face of Germany’s rapid military expansion and its aggressiveness on the seas and in Africa, the other European powers had formed mutual-defense alliances. While their alliances were not explicitly directed against Germany, there was no other military threat on the horizon...no other nation, except for the United States, that any one of those powers could not have defeated single-handed. Germany was their common concern.
Some historians have claimed that those alliances helped to precipitate the Great War, by inducing a sense of confinement that pressed upon Wilhelm until he could bear it no longer. Yet not one of the other nations made even a threatening gesture toward Germany. Indeed, on July 30, 1914, only days before the outbreak of hostilities, French Premier Rene Viviani ordered the withdrawal of French forces ten kilometers from the Franco-German border, hoping that such a demonstration of pacific intentions might prevent a conflagration. Needless to say, it did not: the German General Staff had already committed Germany’s forces to the Schlieffen Plan – a two-million-man ground invasion through Belgium and down the Channel coast, intended to catch the anticipated French thrust through Alsace and Lorraine in the rear – and would not be denied the chance for which they’d waited so long. At any rate, the Kaiser had decided upon war, and the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand provided the pretext he needed.
The sense of being ringed about by enemies resolved upon one’s destruction can do that.
Some persons in the freedom movement have felt encircled for quite some time. They’re just waiting for a reason to “go for their guns,” already convinced that the events of the most recent decades can produce no other outcome. I shan’t dismiss their attitude; they could well be correct. Moreover, the encirclement they sense is more objectively substantiable than what Kaiser Wilhelm suffered.
Incursions upon Americans’ rights at home have grown so various that there’s no point in enumerating them any more. The sense of threat from abroad, principally manifest in Russian and Chinese militancy, the flood of illegal aliens over our southern border, and many thousands of Islam-powered terrorist acts, makes it still worse. There’s no longer even a pretense that “private property” is truly private. The only thing that hasn’t happened yet is a general rounding-up of “dissidents” in the style of a Communist dictatorship...though the public pillorying of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula for having “caused” the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi is enough to give one pause.
With the most recent revelations about Obama Administration deference to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the BATFE’s attempt to ban the most popular rifle ammo in America, and the FCC’s imminent announcement of regulations on the Internet, the tension is approaching an unsustainable level.
Yes, we are encircled, almost entirely by the actions of “our” government. Whether it’s time to break the encirclement is no longer at issue; determining whether it remains possible, and if so, the best method for doing so are all that matters.
I’ve written on other occasions that freedom in any degree rests upon a tripod of supports:
Education, with the exception of homeschooling and Internet-schooling, is a lost cause. NSA shenanigans about phone and email monitoring have abraded some of our communications privacy. However, Internet communications and the general availability of weaponry to private citizens have remained open and liberal, until recently. With the developments cited above, those supports to what remains of freedom are critically endangered.
Whether there’s a point to continuing with peaceable political action is open to dispute, as is whether it’s time to “shoot the bastards.” But there might still be a middle course that is neither easily ignored nor unbearably costly: a course that could “put teeth” in our political activism without shedding great quantities of blood.
In discussing international diplomacy, the great Thomas Sowell noted that nation-states only negotiate when one of the alternatives is war – more specifically, when one of the parties at the table is credibly ready, willing, and able to make the refusal to negotiate potentially more costly than the other is willing to bear. This, of course, hearkens to the “economic model” of deterrence that I’ve also discussed at other times: the premise that regardless of how aggressively a nation might posture, there is nevertheless a maximum price it’s willing to pay for its objectives.
Do our oppressors prize their power over us so greatly that no price for their deeds could ever deter them? If so, then it’s all over but the shooting. If not, then a possible middle course would be a campaign of intimidation -- “we know who you are and what you do” -- to let them know that they’re under our crosshairs, and not just from adverse developments at the ballot box. (Cf. this fanciful novel of some years ago.)
What capacities do freedom lovers possess for putting “the bastards” under a multiply-bladed sword of Damocles? Do we have a way to put those who oppress us in a state of fear – fear of us – and keep them thus for an indefinite time, such that they could never be certain when the blow might fall or from which direction it might arrive?
We would need a great deal more information and organization than we possess at present. We would also need to contrive a way to communicate, both among ourselves and with those whom we must counter-coerce, that’s as close to unbreakable as human ingenuity can get it. And of course, we would need the resolve required to do what’s necessary, should it become necessary.
Some will respond that the enforcers – those federales who constitute “the sharp end of the blade” – don’t originate their orders; they merely do as they’ve been told. We didn’t allow the functionaries of Nazi Germany to escape punishment at Nuremberg by saying that “I was only doing my job.” Lon Horiuchi and Janet Reno were “only doing their jobs,” too.
Could we credibly present the starkest of alternatives to the enforcers of anti-Constitutional, anti-freedom federal laws and regulations? Could we at least pose that choice to a large enough fraction of them that the rest would feel unbearably unsafe? Could we amass the required information about identities, movements, and vulnerabilities? Could we attain the necessary degree of coordination without being traduced? Most important of all, could we do so in good conscience, as fully resolved to enforce our will as the mandarins of the State are to enforce theirs?
What if the sole alternatives to such a course are complete subjugation and outright civil war?