Since Aug 10, 2000
| This screen name comes from the novel Retief to the Rescue, by the science fiction writer Keith Laumer. Laumer worked for some years in the US State Department, and his Retief novels are a well-deserved sendup of Cold War diplomacy. Jame Retief, a minor official of the interplanetary Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne, is the kind of diplomat that Laumer himself would possibly have liked to be.
Retief met Thull Dud shortly after arriving on assignment to the war-torn planet Furtheron, as part of a Terran mission attempting to make peace between the rival native factions, the Nether and Hither Furtheronians. In the local vernacular these were styled the Creepies and the Crawlies, though such names were frowned upon as crude racial epithets. Thull Dud was a Creepy spy who lived openly in Crawlie territory and worked as a short-order cook in the capital spaceport, serving local delicacies such as "garg", a dish which resembled, in Laumer's words, "a mixture of used motor oil and tapioca."
Come on over and have a plate o' this....
Some useful definitions
Democracy: Two wolves and a lamb voting on the issue of what to have for lunch.
Republic: A Democracy where two hundred wolves and one hundred lambs elect two wolves and one lamb as their representatives to vote on the issue of what to have for lunch.
Constitutional Republic: A Republic with a Constitution guaranteeing that lamb is not on the lunch menu. Eventually the Supreme Court rules - five wolves to four lambs - that mutton is not the same as lamb.
Liberty: A Constitutional Republic where the lambs have the right to keep and bear arms.
I declare and assert to the world and to future generations that I consider the false wisdom which aims at avoiding danger to be the most pernicious result of fear and anxiety. Danger must be countered with virile courage joined with calm and firm resolve and clear conscience. Should we be denied the opportunity of defending ourselves in this manner, I hold reckless despair to be a wise course of action. In the dizzy fear which is beclouding our days, I remain mindful of the ominous events of old and recent times, and of the honorable examples set by famed peoples. The words of a mendacious newspaper do not make me forget the lessons of centuries of world history.
I assert that I am free of all personal ambitions; that I profess thoughts and sentiments openly before all citizens; and that I would be happy to find a glorious end in the splendid battle for the freedom and excellence of my country.
Does my faith and the faith of those who think like me deserve the contempt and scorn of our citizens? Future generations will decide.
A nation cannot buy freedom from the slavery of alien rule by artifices and stratagems. It must throw itself recklessly into battle, it must pit a thousand lives against a thousand-fold gain of life. Only in this manner can the nation arise from the sick bed to which it was fastened by foreign chains.
Boldness, that noble virtue through which the human soul rises above the most menacing dangers, must be deemed to be a decisive agent in conflict. Indeed, in which sphere of human activity should boldness come into its own unless it be in struggle?
Boldness is the outstanding military quality, the genuine steel which gives to arms their luster and sharpness. It must imbue the force from camp follower and private to the commander-in-chief.
In our times, struggle, and, specifically, an audacious conduct of war are practically the only means to develop a people's spirit of daring. Only courageous leadership can counter the softness of spirit and the love of comfort which pull down commercial peoples enjoying rising living standards. Only if national character and habituation to conflict interact constantly upon each other can a nation hope to hold a firm position in the political world.
A nation which does not dare to talk boldly will risk even less to act with courage.
A nation does not go under because for one or two years it engages in efforts which it could not sustain for ten or twenty years. If the importance of the purpose demands it, and especially if it is a matter of maintaining independence and honor, such efforts are a call of duty. The government possesses all the means required to persuade the people to live up to their obligations. It is entitled to expect exertions, to insist on them, and if necessary is bound to compel compliance. Strong and purposive governments, which are truly capable of managing affairs, never will fail to act in this manner.
Perhaps there never again will be times when nations will be obliged to take refuge in the last desperate means of popular uprising against foreign domination. Yet in our epoch, every war inevitably is a matter of national interest and must be conducted in that spirit, with the intensity of effort which the strength of the national character allows and the government demands.
In my judgment the most important political rules are: never relax vigilance; expect nothing from the magnanimity of others; never abandon a purpose until it has become impossible, beyond doubt, to attain it; hold the honor of the state as sacred.
The time is yours; what its fulfillment will be, depends on you. . . .
Karl von Clausewitz, writing in 1812