The National Security Lessons of the London Riots

Posted: August 11, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
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The London riots are what Janet Napolitano might rightly call a man-made disaster.  Shaun Bailey, writing at the Guardian offers this assessment:

I believe there are four main aspects to the riots: young people being opportunistic; young people wanting to show those in authority who is boss; a general anger and angst among young people; and politicians jumping on the bandwagon to forward their own beliefs.


The biggest problem our country has faced over the last two decades is that everyone thinks the government should do everything.


In a way, we are all responsible for the riots, whether directly or indirectly. We watched the previous government talk up rights for young people but with no mention of responsibilities. We have allowed our welfare system to prop up immoral lifestyles. We have not taught all our young people that an entitlement culture is morally wrong. And we have paid the price for this liberalism. Now we need to collectively grow up and take responsibility for responsibility.

The lesson he offers regarding national security has to be parsed out, but it’s something like this: people (and nations) can be very opportunistic; people (and nations like Russia, China, Iran, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, et al, and the leaders of those nations) may want to both stick it to the man (that is, Uncle Sam) and forward their own beliefs and agendas (again, preserving their own power and…sticking it to the man).  Finally, everyone on a team has a job to do and when free-riders don’t do their part, things fall apart.  Taken to its conclusion, this could be viewed as a condemnation of the all-volunteer force and a call to return to the shared burden of compulsory military service, the draft.

Theodore Dalrymple, writing at City Journal offers this on the London riots:

Only someone who never looked around him and never drew any conclusions from the faces and manner of the young men he saw would have been surprised.


…he [the rioter] may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude.

The first lesson is the observation that man is the only creature capable of deceiving himself.  In that regard, consider Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program (and nuclear proliferation writ large) vis a vis the cult of bilateral arms control.  The second lesson again addresses the detrimental effect of long-term free-riding.  Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, NATO, and much of Western Europe come to mind in that dependency (on the U.S. to underwrite Western security) does not promote gratitude.

George Will, at the Washington Post offers this on life in Britain:

…almost 30 percent of public spending here [in Britain] is still for a welfare system under which an unemployed single mother with two children has more disposable income than a postal worker. There is, [Chancellor George] Osborne says, considerable resentment among people who “go to work at seven in the morning and the blinds are down next door.” Almost a fifth of British households have no wage earner [of any sort].

Yes, that’s the power of repetition. 

Again, free-ridership is a detriment to society (whether it regards security, “free” handouts, or playing-field unleveling subsidies) and not a benefit.  And membership in the European Union has resulted in “leakage of Britain’s sovereignty to Brussels, [and Prime Minister David] Cameron’s ability to deregulate his nation’s economy is significantly circumscribed.”

Well, there’s another lesson: sovereignty is a good thing or rephrased, ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’  While the EU may look at Britain’s problems with concern, they aren’t really committed as are the British people.  The same paradigm holds true for the UN and the United States and Israel (and a few other less-favored nations).

In London, and regarding national security in the United States, there is still the fact there’s much figurative (and literal) broken glass to clean up.  Who will be doing the heavy lifting of cleaning, securing, and repairing, the free-riders, or the usual suspects, that is, the responsible parts of society? 

The Apostle Paul, John Smith, and even Vladimir Lenin were all in agreement on one thing: He who does not work shall not eat.


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