“But once you get that first star on, things change.” … “But once you get that miter one, things change.”

I wonder if any of this is transferable to another sphere.

But once you get that first star on, things change. Advancement becomes about subjective politics not empirical outcomes. When your next job and your next promotion depends on a vote of the United States Senate their priorities become your own. And you start to resemble a senator, more and more, and a general less and less.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gerard Plourde says:

    I wonder if both generals and bishops whose primary objective is to seek personal career advancement are too self-centered. I’m reminded of (and admittedly constantly needled by) St. Thomas More’s prayer – “Let me not be overly concerned with the bothersome thing I call ‘myself’.”

  2. Chrisc says:

    Bad clerics/clerks exist everywhere. In the military, in the fbi, in scientific agencies. Bureaucracy makes ‘protecting the brand’ an excuse to cover up misdeeds and inadequacies.

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  4. WVC says:

    To the tune of “When you wish upon a Star”

    When you put on your first star,
    It will change just who you are,
    You’ll do all it takes to put on number two.

    If you sell out your country,
    Pledge to honor diversity,
    Anything your greed desires will come to you.

    Feds are kind
    They bring to those they love
    The sweet fulfillment of private consulting

    Lobbying for industry
    You’ll be well paid, just trust me
    Like thirty silver pieces rare
    That star you wear!

  5. Seamus says:

    Technically, the promotions of all commissioned officers in the armed forces depend on a vote of the U.S. Senate. It’s just that, below flag rank, those promotions tend to be processed in large batches, and individual nominees rarely, if ever, get individual scrutiny.

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  7. Simon_GNR says:

    A university contemporary of mine, with whom I was acquainted though not actually as a friend, recently retired from the British Army as a Lieutenant-General (Three Star). He was a quiet, diligent and amiable fellow when I knew him, and I would never have predicted that he would become Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. As an undergraduate he gave no impression of being a careerist. I wonder if he became politically attuned to the government and politicians under whom he served.
    No-one I have known has yet become a bishop, but there was one university acquaintance who became a priest in a diocese in the North of England. He was something of a high-flyer academically and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he became a bishop one day.

  8. prayfatima says:

    A star is nice, but think of the crown that God has prepared for those who love Him. God is the best boss. He has the best benefits and the retirement package is unlike anything anyone can even imagine.

  9. Bthompson says:


    Not every high ranking official in a given organization is corrupt. Some are just hyper competent folks who were the right man in the right moment, such that the corrupt couldn’t afford to or couldn’t manage to destroy him.

    However, it is absolutely true that stars and miters (and birettas for that matter!) and crowns can make it as hard to get through the eye of the needle as a camel laden with gold.

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    Careerism can kill. Incompetence, cognitive dissonance, delusion (behaving as if citizens are terrorists and terrorists are allies, or behaving as if faithful Christians are the enemy and paganism is Christianity), ideologically-induced recklessness (the Biden Regime scrapped Trump Administration plans such as the State Department’s CCR Bureau meant to aid stranded Americans), and hallucinatory amateurishness (abandoning Bagram Airbase) can slaughter.

    The long war against militant Islamism began in the 7th century and continues. Some think that “Biden ended a forever war.” No, he and problematic “leaders” at the State and Defense Departments intensified the long war. There is now increased activity by hostile regimes and groups not only inside Afghanistan but outside. For example, Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions recently increased.

    Gen. Milley last summer timidly apologized to the mob for accompanying Pres. Trump on a visit to the fire-damaged Church of the Presidents. Gen. Milley and others display a large amount of “fruit salad” on their uniforms, but they are Men Without Chests.

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    WVC, I sung that a few times to myself. Nice.
    Has anyone considered that there are going to be many military people home in their neighborhoods soon, now that hard tyranny has reared it’s ugly head?

  12. arga says:

    I actually do not think that the ” woke” comments attributed here to Milley are that far off the truth. Chesterton called African slavery the “crime and catastrophe” of U.S. history and only a fool would contend that its legacies have been and continue to be crippling. On the other hand, I do agree that military officers ought to avoid this topic. It is not what we pay them for. Talk war, and winning.

  13. arga says:

    Whoops. I meant to type “haven’t been” not “have been.”

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    arga: “…only a fool would contend that its [slavery] legacies have been and continue to be crippling.”

    At ease with your ad hominem. Someone who does not share your uninformed opinion, or Chesterton’s opinion, is not a “fool.”

    If “crippling legacy” is your concern then familiarize yourself with the works of Booker T. Washington and Thomas Sowell, and the schemes of today’s race-baiters, race-hustlers, and peddlers of victimhood ideology.

    Booker T. Washington in 1901:

    “When we rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, the ten million Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally and religiously than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe.”

    The “Democrat” Party is home to the KKK, Margaret Sanger, Maxine Waters, Joe “You Ain’t Black” Biden, and Critical Race Theory. Milley could set aside Marx for a moment and ponder that. Cheers.

  15. Semper Gumby says:

    agra: “It is not what we pay them for. Talk war, and winning.”

    Talking personnel issues is precisely why we pay military officers, even a twenty-three year-old second lieutenant, and sergeants. Aircraft, ballistic missile submarines, satellites, and the latest infantry weapons and vehicles are useless without skilled military personnel. There will always be a few rogues and a few who are a little slow in training. The behavior and attitudes of those personnel, along with those who who could be promotable, are topics worthy of discussion between junior officers and sergeants.

    Now, it’s critical that the great majority of military personnel take a healthy pride (obviously they are aware of the imperfections) in their individual military service, in their battalion or ship or squadron or maintenance facility or supply depot, and in their country. Unit cohesion is important to military readiness.

    The more our military is prepared for war- and our adversaries are aware we are prepared for war- then peace is probable (obviously, insane regimes and murderous groups can be unpredictable). Psalm 29:11.

    During wartime ammunition is obviously important, but it does run low, even very low, sometimes. It happens. However, when morale, esprit de corps, initiative, critical thinking skills, leadership, communicating, and confidence run low, you’ve got a much bigger problem.

    Forcing on junior and mid-grade military personnel a toxic anti-American ideology that creates a climate where military personnel are encouraged to report fellow service members to what are essentially political commissars is a serious problem.

    Recently there were high-profile encounters between generals, admirals and Congressmen. For a closer look at military personnel policy (note that DoD civilians and think-tank analysts with their own agendas are often involved) see, for example, these two Congressional subcommittees:



  16. robtbrown says:

    The Peacetime military is much more political different than a Wartime military.

  17. robtbrown says:

    The Peacetime military is much more political than a Wartime military.

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    robtbrown: The boundary between “peacetime” and “wartime” is not so clear these days, particularly in light of events both foreign and domestic during the last eighteen months.

    From the disastrous events in Afghanistan to Antifa to Biden warning citizens that he had “nukes and F-15s” to admirals and generals intent on achieving political commissar status to several former and current military personnel publicly threatening American citizens who voted for Pres. Trump to Biden threatening Texas for passing a law protecting unborn children- the boundary between war and peace is no longer clear.

    An illustration.

    On Saturday former Pres. Bush spoke at the Flight 93 National Memorial to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.

    Pres. Bush:

    “In these memories, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 must always have an honored place. Here, the intended targets became the instruments of rescue. And many who are now alive owe a vast, unconscious debt to the defiance displayed in the skies above this field.”

    “The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people. Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil. These Americans were brave, strong and united in ways that shocked the terrorists but should not surprise any of us.”

    Well said, Pres. Bush.

    Pres. Bush also said:

    “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

    Note the plural “symbols,” note “violent extremists,” note “pluralism,” note “disregard for human life.”

    There are some of a certain political inclination, understandably frustrated and dismayed by the many repulsive actions of the Biden regime, who read that paragraph through the lens of emotion and, quite frankly, out of hatred for Pres. Bush. Then, after misreading that paragraph they compounded their error by publicly overreacting, some of which was quite disgusting. That is unfortunate, it is also unhelpful. Those who resist must possess situational awareness and discipline, and, if their cause is virtuous, they must display virtue to the best of their ability.

    Now, an observation. A minor one, and perhaps my observation is incorrect. Kindly read the paragraph of interest by Pres. Bush again, then read the following paragraph from Pres. Reagan.

    “Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness – pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the State, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.”

    Well said, Pres. Reagan.

    In 1861 Pres. Lincoln delivered his First Inaugural Address just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. True, our circumstances today differ from 1861, but in a sense they do not.

    Pres. Lincoln:

    “I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    Statement by Pres. Donald J. Trump, September 13, 2021:

    “?So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the “right” are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America, and that are pouring into our Country right now?. If that is so, why was he willing to spend trillions of dollars and be responsible for the death of perhaps millions of people? He shouldn’t be lecturing us about anything. The World Trade Center came down during his watch. Bush led a failed and uninspiring presidency. He shouldn’t be lecturing anybody!”

    – In the 1790s Muslim pirates preyed on U.S. ships and enslaved U.S. sailors. The Naval Act of 1794 authorized the construction of warships, thereby founding the U.S. Navy. The “shores of Tripoli” in the Marine’s Hymn refers to military action in Egypt and Libya during the First Barbary War. Today, Marine Corps officers carry the “Mameluke Sword.”

    In 1848 the U.S. established diplomatic relations with Egypt, founded the American University in Beirut in 1866, the American University in Cairo in 1919, and diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia in 1939.

    During WW II U.S. troops were deployed to Iran to establish and protect (in 1942 Nazi armies in the Soviet Union were approaching the Caucasus Mountains) a supply line to the Soviet Union and strategic oil resources. In 1958 Pres. Eisenhower landed U.S. Marines in Beirut to assist the government against Soviet-backed Egypt and Syria.

    In 1991 the U.S. led a Coalition of countries, including Arab-Muslim countries, that liberated Kuwait. During the 1990s Usama bin Laden and alQaeda, hosted by the Taliban, declared war on the United States and, among other events, attacked U.S. embassies, a barracks, and a warship in October 2000.

    – Pres. Bush stated the following on September 11, 2021:

    “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

    – On September 10, 2021 a courier delivered to journalist Jack Posobiec’s office a signed photo of President Trump and a handwritten note: “Keep up the great work.” On September 11, 2021 Posobiec posted a painting on his Twitter account. The painting was owned by Jeffrey Epstein- a pedophile and sex trafficker. The painting depicts a grinning Pres. Bush sitting on the Oval Office floor throwing paper airplanes at two collapsed towers.

    President Donald J. Trump visited New York City firemen and police officers on September 11, 2021. That is appropriate, welcomed, and mature behavior that honors the dead and inspires the living on the anniversary of an important day in the history of these United States. God bless America.

  20. Semper Gumby says:

    Continuing with the theme of politics and the military:

    – Excerpt from a letter by 160-plus retired flag officers calling for Afghanistan Withdrawal accountability:

    “As the principal military advisors to the Commander In Chief (CINC)/President, the SECDEF and CJCS were the two top military officials in a position to recommend against the dangerous withdrawal in the strongest possible terms.

    “If they did everything within their authority to stop the hasty withdrawal and the President did not accept their recommendations, then knowing the disastrous consequences looming, the retired flag officer signers believe these top military advisors should have resigned as a matter of conscience and public statement.”

    – An above-average number of flag officers were relieved or retired by the Obama Administration. There are lists of names on the internet (some lists are as high as 200 names and use the word “purge”), but they appear to overextend their argument. For example, Gen. Mattis was relieved not only by Pres. Obama in 2013, but also by Pres. Trump in 2019 as Secretary of Defense. When relieved by Obama in 2013 Gen. Mattis was Commander of CENTCOM at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida. Gen. Mattis was replaced by Gen. Lloyd Austin, who commanded CENTCOM from 2013-16 and is currently Secretary of Defense.

    – “We have been made aware that both files and emails [relating to the ISIS 2014 “Blitzkrieg” in Iraq] have been deleted by personnel at CENTCOM and we expect that the Department of Defense will provide these and all other relevant documents to the committee.” – Rep. Devin Nunes, Chair of House Intelligence Committee, Feb. 2016.

    – John Brennan, CIA Director 2013-17, voted for the Communist Party while in college and had his security clearance revoked by Pres. Trump. Gen. Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA Director, recently stated that unvaccinated American citizens who voted for Pres. Trump should be deported to Afghanistan.

  21. Semper Gumby says:

    If I could, an expansion of my comment from September 14 at 1:20 pm.

    On September 11, 2021, journalist Jack Posobiec embarked on an unhinged rant on Twitter after Pres. George Bush delivered a speech at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Among other things, and as noted above, Posobiec repeated the discredited conspiracy theory that Pres. George Bush was responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

    Here is a brief excerpt from a June 19, 2017 article from the Daily Caller, which cannot reasonably be considered a Leftist media outlet:

    The Rebel Media Apologizes Over Jack Posobiec Plagiarism Allegations

    “”Today we [The Rebel Media] learned via social media that extended passages of this video by Jack Posobiec were copied word-for-word from original work produced by Jason Kessler, which can be seen here and here,” the company said in a statement.”

    There is abundant news reporting on Jason Kessler. Of course, Posobiec and Kessler are two separate individuals. Though, at a minimum, Posobiec choosing Kessler when commiting his act of plagiarism is profoundly unwise.

    Today Posobiec retweeted Catholic Harvard Law Professor Adrian Vermeule. Vermeule is known for his, to say the least, interest in the work of Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt. Vermeule is also a “Catholic Integralist” (aka “common-good constitutionalism”), believing with zeal that the U.S. Constitution should be scrapped and replaced by a “Catholic” “Common-Good” theocracy.

    Vermeule, in an article in the Atlantic last year, wrote:

    “Finally, unlike legal liberalism, common-good constitutionalism does not suffer from a horror of political domination and hierarchy, because it sees that law is parental, a wise teacher and an inculcator of good habits. Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them – perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them. Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires for the individual and common goods, better habits, and beliefs that better track and promote communal well-being.”

    Kindly read that again. That statement would be welcomed by politicians, professors and journalists who blindly followed the political-religions of Communism and National Socialism. Integralism or “Common-Good Constitutionalism” is not Catholicism. It is coercive (indeed, that very word is favored in Integralist writings), and it is the seedbed of an anti-Christian tyranny. As we have seen before, these tyrannies are quite lethal.

    Once again, here is Pres. Bush speaking on Sep. 11, 2021:

    “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

    A reasonable statement by Pres. Bush. As we have seen in the last few days, that statement can apply anywhere across the political or religious spectrum. God bless Pres. Bush.

    And God bless Pres. Trump, Jack Posobiec and Adrian Vermeule. May they grow in wisdom, better manage their emotions (though everyone has an occasional bad day), and develop greater spiritual and situational awareness. The anti-American Biden Regime is vile, these three gentlemen should deploy their considerable talents and expend their over-abundance of energy in confronting tyranny rather than in uninformed outbursts, conspiracy theories or lethal utopianism. Have a pleasant day.

  22. Semper Gumby says:

    This interesting post by our host raises a minor but curious question. First, some background.

    Last month there was an interesting post discussing Blessed Karl, Hungary and a column at Crisis magazine by Declan Leary.


    Declan Leary wrote that we should “finally realize that Blessed Charles had the right idea in [raising an army and] marching to Budapest [after WW I for the defeated Karl to regain his throne].”

    Well, Leary’s argument was interesting, but flawed. There’s a military phrase, “Good initiative, Poor judgement.”

    Anyway, Declan Leary is a self-described “anarcho-Integralist.” One wonders why such an individual is an “Associate Editor” at the so-called “The American Conservative” magazine, which bills itself as “America’s premier journal of Main Street conservatism, promoting community, liberty, faith, family, and peace.” Perhaps this is a simple case of cognitive dissonance by the editorial staff. Regardless, they should be more careful and apply additional thought when proposing kinetics or coercion.

    Meanwhile, I’ve heard through the grapevine that recently in Budapest about 200,000 of the faithful participated in a Eucharistic Procession. Praise be.

  23. Semper Gumby says:

    First star or first mitre, things change. Or, first YouTube channel.

    On July 6 a YouTube video appeared on the “RTFMedia” channel, titled “Religious Freedom is a Satanic Error.” This 25-minute rant was sparked by “Mike” noticing a pro-abortion billboard in Texas. He proceeded to blame Vatican II and “Americanism,” further insisting that “truth and error cannot coexist” and “error has no rights.” Fine, he is entitled to his opinion. But a suggestion presents itself: Rather than indulging in a YouTube rant Mike could have directed his energies towards, for example, fundraising with friends to place their own pro-life billboard.

    However, Mike is also an officer in the Marine Corps Reserves, which raises 5 USC 3331. Mike swore an Oath before God to:

    “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

    First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    Regarding Mike’s claim that “truth and error cannot coexist” and “error has no rights”: an excerpt from the Fourteenth Amendment and “Due Process”:

    “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    At this point, Mike, if he has the courage of his convictions, should resign from the Marine Corps or leave the Catholic Church. Note also that with this video Mike provided ammunition to Social Justice Warriors in the Department of Defense and elsewhere.

    God bless Mike. This type of situation is likely to increase in the future.

  24. Semper Gumby says:

    To continue from my previous comment.

    See RTFMedia YouTube video 10 Sep 21 (“The Rundown!”), Mike as host, guests include Ryan Grant on screen as “Mediatrix Press.”

    Beginning at 11:16 in the video Mike and Grant perpetuate 9/11 conspiracy theories such as the “controlled demolition” that allegedly collapsed WTC Building 7. Grant has clearly not considered the procurement of the large amount of explosives required to demolish such a building, the lengthy installation and concealment of the explosives, or the recognizable audio and visual signatures of a controlled demolition.

    Grant also stated that a “plan to attack Afghanistan” was on “Baby Bush’s desk” on September 4, 2001, further claiming SecDef Rumsfeld testified about this to the 9/11 Commission. Grant: “It [this plan] just needed a nice public catalyst to get everyone behind it.”


    The 9/11 Commission Report references the September 4 principals meeting several times, here’s one:

    “At the September 4 meeting, the principals approved the draft presidential directive with little discussion.252 Rice told us that she had, at some point, told President Bush that she and his other advisers thought it would take three years or so for their al Qaeda strategy to work.253 They then discussed the armed Predator.”

    The deputies meeting of September 10, 2001:

    “By the end of a deputies meeting on September 10, officials formally agreed on a three-phase strategy. First an envoy would give the Taliban a last chance. If this failed, continuing diplomatic pressure would be combined with the planned covert action program encouraging anti-Taliban Afghans of all major ethnic groups to stalemate the Taliban in the civil war and attack al Qaeda bases, while the United States developed an international coalition to undermine the regime. In phase three, if the Taliban’s policy still did not change, the deputies agreed that the United States would try covert action to topple
    the Taliban’s leadership from within.212”

    A September 11, 2021 tweet from Mike:


    A September 14, 2021 tweet from Mike:


    These gentlemen are entitled to voice whatever erroneous opinion that suits them. Twenty years after 9/11 these gentlemen perhaps could familiarize themselves with the basic facts. Brief clips from their videos have achieved a small circulation by certain people, and these brief clips are negatively impacting evangelization.

  25. Semper Gumby says:

    The star and the mitre share, or should share, an interest in Just War Theory. Two brief paragraphs first for background, then it might be helpful to take a look at an August 24 podcast by Eric Sammons, editor of the Catholic Crisis magazine, “Was the Afghan War Ever A Just War?”

    Just War Theory developed in ancient Greece, Rome and in the Catholic Church such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bellarmine. It’s concerns are the justification for using military force, and just conduct during war.

    Islam divides the world into the House of Islam and the House of War. Early Islam developed the tradition not only of “jihad” for an internal struggle but the “jihad of the sword.” “Defensive jihad” was an effort to establish rules of war, but it has since been distorted by Islamists to the point that any foreign presence in the House of Islam (which includes, for example, Spain), even a tourist hotel, can be cause for jihad.

    In his 35-minute podcast Sammons bases his argument on three points from Aquinas and four points from the Catechism- beginning about 9:45. Sammons assigns a “Fail” to six of these seven.

    Prior to that, at 1:40, Sammons objects that Congress never declared war. This is false. Congress passed a war resolution authorizing military force, the Senate voted 98-0 for passage, and it was signed by Pres. Bush on Sep. 18, 2001.


  26. Semper Gumby says:

    1. Aquinas: Authority of the Sovereign

    Sidenote: At about 9:45 Sammons lists his seven Just War criteria, at 26:00 Sammons briefly discusses his seven Just War criteria. In between he repeats a conspiracy theory that “Bush wanted UBL to remain alive and out there, not killed or captured, in order to fund a war on terror that Pres. Bush wanted to push.” Sammons also recommended two problematic books by Scott Horton (director of the Libertarian Institute and host of Antiwar Radio): “Fool’s Errand” and “Enough Already.”

    1. Authority of the Sovereign. Sammons states, “Congress never authorized a war. Yes, it is true Congress did authorize funds for a conflict. Fail.”

    Congress authorized war one week after 9/11, for the text see link in comment above.

    2. Just Cause. Sammons appears to think that alQaeda was the only legitimate target: “In hindsight it’s perfectly clear we were also going after the Taliban. Fail.”

    No hindsight is required. It was publicly announced and was common knowledge in the days after 9/11 that the Taliban regime was also a target. Briefly, during the 1990s the Taliban rejected a Clinton administration request for UBL’s extradition and also rejected Bush administration requests; the Taliban not only harbored alQaeda but provided training camps, etc.

  27. Semper Gumby says:

    St. John Paul II attended a clandestine seminary in Poland during Nazi occupation, he resisted Communism for decades in Poland and from the Vatican with Ronald Reagan, he kissed a Koran in 1999- whatever one thinks of that St. John Paul II was not anti-Muslim or gleefully anticipating the next war.

    From a September 9, 2011 article at the National Catholic Register, “John Paul II’s Reaction to 9/11” authored by James Nicholson, the new U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See who presented his credentials to John Paul II on September 13, 2001.

    “The first thing the Pope said to me was how sorry he felt for my country, which had just been attacked, and how sad it made him feel. We next said a prayer together for the victims and their families.

    “Then the Pope said something very profound and very revealing of his acute grasp of international terrorism. He said, “Ambassador Nicholson, this was an attack, not just on the United States, but on all of humanity.” And, then he added, “We must stop these people who kill in the name of God.”

    “It was the Pope’s instant and keen grasp of the situation – the Afghanistan-based launching of these terrorist attacks – that compelled him to lend his moral influence to his friend and ally the United States.

    “Being first and foremost a man of peace, Pope John Paul II also understood the just-war doctrine of the Church and the responsibility of leaders to protect innocent people from evil forces. He respected President Bush and his “prudential judgment” in deciding what was legitimate to protect the common good.

    “In 2004, President Bush, with gratitude and respect for his solidarity with American values, presented the Pope with the Medal of Freedom, which is the highest award the United States bestows on a civilian.”

    Food for thought for libertarians and conspiracy theorists.

    The first Cabinet meeting after 9/11 occurred September 14. Pres. Bush asked SecDef Rumsfeld to open the meeting with a prayer.

    “Ever faithful God…You have shown once again that these gifts [life and liberty] must never be taken for granted…Our enduring prayer is that You shall always guide our labors and that our battles shall always be just.”

  28. Semper Gumby says:

    Pietas: the sense of duty owed to God, family, citizens and Country.

    Col. John O’Neill, Chief Chaplain to Gen. Patton’s Third Army and Catholic priest, December 1944: “Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”

    Eric Sammons, magazine editor, Memorial Day 2021: “While I would never question the courage and bravery of the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty, the sad reality is that many have not died “for our freedom”, but instead due to the idiotic and evil decisions of men like George W. Bush and Barrack Obama.”

    The National Archives, Fr. Bill Devine U.S. Navy, Catholic Mass at one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces, 2003:


    Scott Hahn, professor and theologian: “Americans have Stockholm Syndrome.”

    Pres. John F. Kennedy: “We choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard.”

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen: “We take very seriously the Declaration of Independence which derives the rights of man from God…true Americanism is the belief in the freedom of man as a divine derivative.”

    “The treatise on Patriotism in the writings of the greatest philosopher of all times, St. Thomas Aquinas, is to be found under the subject of “Piety.” This at first may strike as strange those who think of piety as pertaining only to love of God. But once it is remembered that love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God, it is seen that love of our fellow citizens is a form of piety.”

  29. Semper Gumby says:

    The star and the mitre benefit through cooperation. That said, individual bishops, individual commanding officers and specific circumstances may complicate matters. Such as at a U.S. Air Force nuclear missile Launch Control Center with its cramped quarters and twenty-four hours shifts.

    “Missile alert crew duty seemed another choice candidate for gender integration, requiring judgment and will, but not physical strength.”

    “Minot may be small and remote, but it is the scene of something dramatic: a man’s struggle to defend his faith and marriage against the cultural forces of our day.”

    At the same time, the military has a professional concern for accomplishing its duty of nuclear deterrence on behalf of all citizens.

    First Things, February 2000:


  30. Semper Gumby says:

    The Feb. 2000 First Things article linked above indicates that the star and mitre (and politicians) must address fundamental questions such as what it means to be male and female.

    From Crisis magazine March 2013:

    “The Obama administration is making a major push to “fully integrate” women into the military, including most [or “all”] ground combat roles.”

    “Former Marine Ryan Smith’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed about the conditions of infantrymen during combat operations (he was involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq) is telling in this regard. There was no way of maintaining even the most basic kind of personal modesty.”


    Consider just three points: military decontamination shower tents where entire units strip nude, shower en masse, and are then issued new uniforms (this occurs on rare occasions as a training exercise); hypothermia in cold weather operations treated by inserting the nude casualty into a sleeping bag with a soldier stripped to their underwear to transfer body heat; in hot weather many soldiers do not wear underwear for hygiene reasons (on the front lines hot showers are rare, uniforms are washed by hand and improvisation).

    Of three female Marines allowed during the Obama years to enter the infantry one who became a squad leader was soon discharged for a sexual relationship with a subordinate (consider all-night training maneuvers in the woods).

    Women certainly have an important role in the military, though at some point common sense must enter the picture. At the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, thirty female second lieutenants over at least two years of attempts failed IOC before the first female second-lieutenant completed IOC. Consider the waste of time and money on that absurd attrition rate, then consider the injuries incurred in those attempts that now require treatment and further loss of time and money. At some point this has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with social engineering and future battlefield failure.

    In the last several months Congress has been considering legislation requiring girls and young women to register for the draft. A resolution introduced by Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) opposing drafting girls and young women, H.R. 606 August 24, 2021:


    “Whereas the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force within the United States Marine Corps found that the musculoskeletal rate of injury for a woman was nearly twice the rate of injury for a man, and research at the Infantry Training Battalion found that the rate of injury for an enlisted woman was 6 times the rate of injury for a man;

    “Whereas the results of United States Marine Corps research led General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., a former commandant of the United States Marine Corps, to seek an exemption to ensure certain Marine combat roles were only available to men;

    “Whereas United States Army data has demonstrated a fail rate ranging between 65 percent and 84 percent for women and between 10 percent and 30 percent for men on the Army Combat Fitness Test since its inception;”

  31. Semper Gumby says:

    Sidenote: Regarding the difficulty of battlefield hygiene, it is rarely the case of military incompetence. It is certainly not indifference, commanding officers and Navy doctors are well aware of the health and morale benefits of a shower and a shave.

    It is a matter of remote locations, heightened activity, water availability and simple practicality. The amount of water required for a platoon (at one point I had fifty-three Marines which included several small specialized teams and a small team of Navy medics or corpsmen) to shower and clean their uniforms and gear is rather high. During one ten-week period we had one hot shower while re-locating from one AO (area of operations) to another.

    In the field we shaved the best we could, and cut each other’s hair. There is a brief shower scene, strictly for historical accuracy, in episode 8 of Band of Brothers.

    As many other units did, probably all of them as it’s a well-known method, it worked quite well for the weekly helicopter mail run to bring in care packages from the States which included baby wipes for us and, at one point, school supplies for local villagers. (One of my farm boys wrote back to the States and ordered via his family a few spare parts for a local tractor, but we re-located before they arrived. I’m digressing, but they managed to adopt a puppy but I drew the line when they, no really, I have a photo, tried to adopt a wandering donkey. There was no way to get that donkey into a bunker rapidly in a military manner.)

  32. Semper Gumby says:

    See above, “Was the Afghan War Ever A Just War?” by Eric Sammons.

    3. Rightful Intention. Sammons: “If it only went after bin Laden then yes, it passes the test. However, the war was nation-building. The war was regime change. Fail.”

    Sammons’ “UBL-only” error was examined in “2. Just Cause” above.

    As for his bugbears “regime change” and “nation-building,” a closer look.

    Sammons should familiarize himself with “Tranquillitas ordinis”- the tranquility of order referred to by St. Augustine in City of God. Now, that sure sounds like a lofty goal, but it does not mean Utopia or Heaven on Earth. It has something to do with maintaining some semblance of order and increasing the likelihood of peace. Tranquillitas ordinis is not pacifism.

    As pointed out above, the Taliban regime rejected extradition of UBL and materially supported alQaeda. The September 2001 98-0 Senate vote on the AUMF (see above) did not authorize entering Afghanistan to recreate Tamerlane’s pyramid of skulls out of vengeance, it was for self-defense (note that NATO invoked Article V “Collective defence” after 9/11) and order.

    Several “loya jirgas” over several years after the Taliban regime was defeated- and obviously with the assistance of some forty Coalition or ISAF countries- resulted in Afghan elections with an eighty-percent participation rate. Over the years, foreign Islamist terrorists (e.g. alQaeda is mainly Arab) and foreign Islamist assistance (e.g. Pakistani Pashtuns) were more of a threat to Afghans and ISAF than home-grown self-supplied “insurgents.”

    Sammons: “America trying to overthrow other countries’ governments, whether we like them or not, is not a rightful intention.”

    Sammons should grasp an important point: it wasn’t just “America” it was a Coalition of countries eventually renamed “ISAF”.

    From a 18 Sep comment above, St. John Paul II and the new U.S. Ambassador on September 13, 2001:

    “Then the Pope said something very profound and very revealing of his acute grasp of international terrorism. He said, “Ambassador Nicholson, this was an attack, not just on the United States, but on all of humanity.” And, then he added, “We must stop these people who kill in the name of God.””

    Thus, the rightful intention of the Coalition and ISAF. A distinction obviously should be made between rightful intention and the errors that accompany any human endeavor such as erroneous drone targeting (involving “jus in bello” or conduct during war).

    Sammons, if he had set aside his agit-prop books (see above) and more carefully prepared his notes, would have realized that defeating Imperial Japan and National Socialist Germany were “rightful intention,” “regime change” and “nation-building” by the Allies. During the Cold War St. John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher certainly had rightful intention in defeating, without global thermonuclear war, the reckless and nuclear-armed Soviet Union.

    One more point from John Paul II and the U.S. Ambassador, Sep. 13, 2001:

    “Being first and foremost a man of peace, Pope John Paul II also understood the just-war doctrine of the Church and the responsibility of leaders to protect innocent people from evil forces. He respected President Bush and his “prudential judgment” in deciding what was legitimate to protect the common good.”

    Resisting those “who kill in the name of God” and those who kill in the name of secular gods is a duty extending until the end of time- guided by prudential judgment, jus ad bellum and jus in bello.

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