Sunday, July 29, 2012

Grand Strategy: The View from 1923 . . .

After every war there is a period of analysis and appraisal which deals with the history and issues brought forward by that war. The greater the war, the greater the tendency for this to expand and include all the issues that the war engendered. Epoch changing wars do this to a great extent, even to establishing a new art of war for the epoch in question. We've seen this to an extent after the Napoleonic wars, the Civil War, and World Wars I and II. There is something of a "weak" reappraisal going on now in regards the two lost wars the US involved itself in subsequent to the attacks of 11 September 2001.
Professor Hew Strachan, the premier historian of the First World War and the Director of the Leverhulme Programme on the Changing Character of War at Oxford, has a recent article out on Grand Strategy. This article will be the subject of a future post, but first I would like to have something historical to compare it with, the work of an earlier writer on military subjects who was perhaps the most influential theorist of his day, that being Colonel J.F.C. Fuller of the Royal Army Tank Corps. Fuller published a book entitled The Reformation of War in 1923 which was one of, or perhaps even the first treatment of what Fuller described as "Grand Strategy".
Strachan mentions Fuller has having developed the term "grand strategy" along with Basil Liddell Hart, but Hart's contribution he lists was written over 20 years after Fuller's, and in 1944, towards the end of the Second World War. Fuller for me thus takes pride of place. Not that he was the only theorist writing about what we could call "grand strategy" at the time. There was also Alexander Svechin of the Red Army and Erich Ludendorff of Germany. More on them later.
Let's start with Fuller's concept of "Grand Strategy":
During peace time this spirit (the spirit or the national will to exist; it is the driving force of all warlike activities) is ever present, and though its nature, during war, does not change, the resistance offered to its progress is greater, and the relationship between this resistance and the will to win gives to any particular war its specific character. During peace or war, our object is to conserve and control this spirit; consequently, we must understand the probable resistance to be met with, for otherwise we shall not be able to gauge the character of war, and not being able to gauge the character we shall not know what type of warfare will prove the most efficient and economical. This control and direction of the will to win and all the means whereby this will may be expressed I will call grand strategy. The Reformation of War, Chapter XI, page 214
To get more of an idea of this spirit that Fuller is talking about lets consider an earlier quote from the book:
Ultimately, from acts of chivalry on the battlefield do we soar to those acts which form the ethics of grand strategy, the fuller meaning of which I will discuss in Chapter XI. To damage a nation morally during days of peace is not good enough; it is but a poor endeavour, which normally must bring but little profit. Ethically, during war, as I will show, grand strategy does aim at demoralizing the enemy, yet also does it consist in the enhancement of a nation's worth in the eyes of its actual or potential enemies. Integrity, honour, justice and courage are the weapons of the grand strategist, which not only demonstrate a nation's moral worth but its martial power. The cultivation of these in peace time forms the backbone of success in war. The Reformation of War, page 72
The essence of grand strategy in Fuller's view is the cultivation of soldierly qualities in the general population, including especially the willingness of the individual to offer themselves in the interests of the state. This requires a high level of what I have described in the past as material and moral cohesion. Notice that Fuller has a dubious view of the use of negative propaganda against an potential enemy, since it is more by enhancing our own prestige and values that we convince the enemy of our own superiority.
So, the strength of "the national will to exist" was not only the basis of a successful grand strategy, but a lesson learned from the First World War. What other lessons had Fuller learned from that conflict?
To answer that question it is important to point out that Fuller's view of that conflict is quite different from the general view today, and different from Hew Strachan's as well. That view is firmly rooted in Fuller's view of humanity:
Though the desire of man is peace, the law of life is war; the fittest, mentally or bodily, survive, and the less fit supply them with food, labour and service. Life lives on life . . . page 8
War exists because humans, men especially, are warlike and see domination as part of life. This would include economic interests, "conquest" not being limited to seizing territory, but economic advantage as well. This of course is a very general condition, hardly specific to the First World War.
More specifically, Britain and Germany went to war due to commercial interests, Britain hoped to destroy her main commercial rival in Europe. With the establishment of the Entente, Britain tied her interests to those of Russia and France, both of which required the defeat of Germany to gain their national goals. Russia's goals especially were extensive including the expulsion of Turkey from Europe and the conquest of Constantinople as well as domination of the Balkans which required the destruction of Austria-Hungary. Fuller provides the most extensive summary of his views in his The Conduct of War 1789 - 1961, pp 143-154, so it is apparent that they did not change over time.
This leads to his very Clausewitzian conclusion that given the nature of the extensive alliances and the wide range of interests, it was impossible to come up with a common policy, for instance, a singular Anglo-French point of view, let alone a unified Entente point of view:
But in August 1914, there was no Anglo-French political point of view, therefore the military point of view was subordinated to a vacuum, which it at once filled to become the sole point of view: in other words, the means monopolized the end." (Ibid, p. 153).
So military strategy had to step in and fill the void left by the absence of a coherent political purpose on the Entente side. This in part due to the inability of the various Allied governments to formulate clearly what is was they were actually fighting for, rather their domestic need to "sell the war" as "defensive", defending civilization against the "Hun" became the basis of the stated political purpose. This necessity to match policy with military means is also brought up by Svechin in regards to German strategy:
The internal weakness of a state is evident more quickly in an offensive than a defensive. The tragedy of the Germans' conduct of the war from 1914 to 1918 lives in the fact that under the conditions Germany could have won this war only as a politically defensive war. Incidentally, the Germans realized this only in August 1918 after all their forces had been exhausted and they were faced with capitulation. German strategy had gone beyond the bounds of the political defensive when they violated Belgian neutrality in August 1914, when they penetrated too deep into Russia 1n 1915 . . . Strategy p 93
For both sides, the military aim displaced the political purpose. Given this view, Fuller comes up with an interesting conclusion:
The importance of grand strategy and all that it includes cannot be over-estimated at the present time, for in the whole course of history the necessity for economy has never been more vital; further, in its true meaning, efficiency cannot exist without it. At any time and irrespective of prosperity, a nation can only afford to spend a certain sum of money as an insurance against war and ultimately, when war occurs, as a safeguard against defeat. For this sum to be economically spent, not only must all obsolecence be weeded out of the defence forces, but no overlapping can be tolerated.
During war, nothing is so uneconomical as improvization ; consequently, our peace strategy must formulate our war strategy, by which I mean that there cannot be two forms of strategy, one for peace and one for war, without wastage — moral, physical and material, when war breaks out. The first duty of the grand strategist is, therefore, to appreciate the commercial and financial position of his country; to discover what its resources and liabilities are. Secondly, he must understand the moral characteristics of his countrymen, their history, peculiarities, social customs and system of government, for all these quantities and qualities form the pillars of the military arch which it is his duty to construct.
Unlike the strategist of the past, the grand strategist of today must no longer be a mere servant of his ever-changing government, but a student of the permanent characteristics and slowly changing institutions of the nation to which he belongs, and which he is called upon to secure against war and defeat. He must, in fact, be a learned historian and a far-seeing philosopher, as well as a skilful strategist and tactician. Today such men are rare to come by, because nations understand practically nothing of the science of war.
Understanding nothing, there is no incentive without or within an army to produce a breed of strategists who may be classed as men of science. In this respect the Germans went further than all other nations, and, during the Great War, it was the firmness of their grand strategy which formed the foundation of their magnificent endurance. The Reformation of War, pp 218-219
Fuller concludes with a proposed massive re-organization of not only British but Imperial governments, all planning coming under the authority of a Generalissimo who serves as the minister of defense, or in any case as a member of the cabinet. This position would be supported by the formation of a General Staff. These staff officers would be trained in a new war college encompassing all three services.
As a recap of his concept of grand strategy, perhaps this quote suffices:
The transmission of power in all its forms, in order to maintain policy, is the aim of grand strategy, its actual employment being the domain of grand tactics. While strategy is more particularly concerned with the movement of armed masses, grand strategy, including these movements, embraces the motive forces which lie behind them both — material and psychological. From the grand strategical point of view, it is just as important to realize the quality of the moral power of a nation, as the quantity of its man-power, or to establish moral communication by instituting a common thought — the will to win throughout the nation and the fighting services. The grand strategist we see is, consequently, also a politician and a diplomatist.
Comparison of Fuller's Concept with that of Svechin and Ludendorff
It is interesting to note that all three treatments of grand strategy were based on assumed strategic incompetence displayed by all sides during the First World War. Ludendorff's was more tempered in his criticism of course since he himself carried the blame for some of the actions Fuller and Svechin criticized.
Of the three, Fuller is the most all encompassing, whereas Svechin comes across as the most "modern" in that he avoids the social darwinism present in the other two, and sees states developing according to historical trends from of course a Marxist perspective.
All three see democracies as sordid affairs with the actual elites operating behind a curtain of propaganda and distortions to hide their actual narrow goals. As Svechin writes, "The ruling class in a state is inclined to regard its own interests as state interests and resorts to the aid of the state apparatus to defend them." Democracies are also most likely to fire up high levels of passionate hatred towards the enemy in order to mobilize the masses to fight.
Conclusions? What can this view from 1923 indicate to us about the concept of grand strategy today?
First, I think it important with any concept, especially strategic theory concepts, to consider their origins which influence not only their inspiration but also development. All three theorists I've mentioned saw the First World War as a strategic disaster run by incompetents, especially in terms of political purpose, which is different from the way we see the First World War today (the generals are the "donkeys" rather than the politicians). In Ludendorff's case this was more the nature of avoiding responsibility for his own actions imo, but that does not explain Fuller's or Svechin's view.
Second, all three saw war as essentially something intrinsically human and unavoidable. Given the right set of historic circumstances, wars simply happen, nobody is to blame generally, although specific acts of political or military incompetence are to be condemned as we have seen. "Stability" in the sense of eternal peace is death, something hardly to be yearned for.
Third, grand strategy required a high level of control and manipulation and had to be specifically organized/designed/fitted to the political community in question. What is needed is a military dictator to implement such a policy, at least during wartime. We see here the totalitarian side of grand strategy as it was originally conceived.
Fourth, the nation state in question required a driving force to succeed, some all-encompassing value set to give meaning to not only the war waged, but especially the sacrifices called for and willingly offered. Simple patriotism, universal ideals, humanist notions, or even Christianity, would not suffice, rather Nationalism as in a historic destiny of the race, or class consciousness (in the case of Svechin) were needed. Ludendorff stressed that his Total War could only be fought defensively against an existential threat. Notice the link between this and the second point above. This opens the door to genocidal wars for existence between nation states, since Enlightenment notions of basic equality among peoples (which Clausewitz for one assumed) have been put into question.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Enterprise of England

Speaking of Spain winning things...

Over at GFT; a brief discursion on Philip II's cunning plan to distract the Spanish voters with a brilliantly conceived war of choice that would easily accomplish regime change in England and let religious freedom reign, thereby silencing the liberal critics and ensuring a permanent royalist majority.

Well, for Catholics, anyway.

Feel free to let me have it in the comments section; Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie

would have been 100 years old this past Saturday.

A veteran of World War 2:
During World War II, moved by his passion against Fascism, Woody served in both the Merchant Marine and the Army. Shipping out to sea on several occasions with his buddies Cisco Houston and Jimmy Longhi, Woody's tendency to write songs, tell stories and make drawings continued unabated. He composed hundreds of anti-Hitler, pro-war, and historic ballads to rally the troops, such as “All You Fascists Bound To Lose”, “Talking Merchant Marine,” and “The Sinking of the Reuben James.” He began to work on a second novel, Sea Porpoise, and was enlisted by the army to write songs about the dangers of venereal diseases, which were published in brochures distributed to sailors.

He didn't like Fascists, or bankers too.

Absolutely Disgraceful

I had been meaning to write something well thought out and completely analytical on possible outcomes in Middle Eastern diplomacy as practiced by the US since the start of the Arab Spring, and I'll hope to write it up sooner rather than later, but this article just completely blew my mind.

It relates to a recent event where a US Navy ship opened fire on a fishing vessel close to the UAE.  1 civilian was killed and another three were injured.

US News and World Report apparently harbors some of the biggest idiots or most morally repugnant individuals in the business.  Just to give you a taste of what I mean, the title of the article is "With Shooting, U.S. Navy Ship Sends Message to Iran, Al Qaeda."

And what might that message be?  Well, obviously it's don't fuck with the USA or else.

Else what, you might ask.  Apparently, that else is shooting unarmed civilians.

I can't believe that this sort of garbage gets placed in prominent newspapers.  Its absolutely and mind bogglingly terrible in every sense.

This was the opinion about the 'shooting' (or murder if you consider that it was done not by us military personnel but a 'security team' on a merchant marine vessel) apparently:
U.S. officials "don't want to do anything that further ratchets up the tension," he says. "Still, if people of ill intent were thwarted, the message is: You can try, but we will stop you."
So you can try to attack the US, but they will kill innocent civilians.  Yeah.  That's a strong message to send to the world.  I feel as though this sort of blatant jingoistic propaganda is not only out of touch with reality, it is damaging to our standing in the world and our nation's moral fiber.

In what way is this activity even remotely acceptable?  This is being coached in the language of, "well we tried not to kill everyone on the civilian craft but they were threatening us!" as though that would excuse this sort of behavior ANYWHERE in the world.  I wonder if there is a parallel instance of this action in the US?  I bet it would also be swept under the rug as 'no big deal, rules of engagement and such,' right?

Or perhaps the case of George Zimmerman would suggest otherwise.  And he at least has the excuse that he's in his neighborhood!

This whole thing is just insane and morally repugnant on so many different levels, but because the rules of engagement were applied (and lets be real, what evidence is there of this actually being true?) this whole thing is liable to be shrugged off by America and be just another piece of kindling to the global fire of hatred at what we do.

If a 'message' was really sent, its that we are so afraid of you and so completely batshit insane that killing civilians is somehow a good thing to do.  Not just civilians, ALLIED civilians.  And it wasn't wrong at all according to right honorable John T Bennett.  This is completely indefensible.

There will be hell to pay for things like this...but only if your Syrian, apparently.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God Save the Queen

Martin McGuinness telling the Queen,
"Slan agus beannacht" ("goodbye and godspeed")


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shook hands with "former Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander" Martin McGuinness late last month, called by the press "the ultimate moment in Northern Ireland peacemaking." This is remarkable in many ways.

First, it reinforces our position that warring parties must eventually reach an accord. The IRA, dubbed variously a terrorist organization and a revolutionary military organization has been fighting Britain for the unification of Ireland for almost 100 years. They did this by targeting British interests in a low intensity conflict (LIC) using terror tactics.

Reconciliation and political accommodation are necessary to address long-standing grievances. Although the official party line in the U.S. and Britain is that we do not negotiate with terrorists, this stand is obviously not unequivocal. The English abandoned their military approach to Northern Ireland in favor of a non-military one.

Facing the end of empire, the English are loathe to succumb to the terror, and have given as good as they got. The IRA were painted as thugs who murdered innocent civilians, though they often put out a warning before their bombings. The Queen suffered the murder of her cousin, Lord Mountbatten.

At least, NYT columnist MoDo called it "murder"; in fact, it was a targeted assassination. This parsing of terms is important, since in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) the United States kills people every day but never calls it murder; instead we interdict, neutralize or eliminate a threat.

Next, the recognition of former IRA leader Martin McGuinness as a "Commander" lends military legitimacy to the group. During the struggle, England refused to recognize the military nature of the IRA and so did not grant Prisoner of War status to captured IRA personnel (much as the U.S. fails to accord this designation to those whom it fights in its current wars in the Middle East.)

When was the last time anyone called anyone in the al Qaeda chain of command a "Commander", or afforded them any military dignity? We make reality by the labels we bestow.

It is instructive to note that many world leaders have started their careers on the terror side of the equation. Luminaries like Gerry Adams and McGuinness have attained center stage and are now viewed as legitimate power brokers.
This morphing into positions of legitimate leadership is the logical course for a LIC leader to follow.

This event suggests that the PWOT © has been a colossal cock up, and must eventually be settled by non-military means.

[cross-posted @ RangerAgainstWar]

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Clausewitz's General Theory of War: My First Peer-Reviewed Article

In an effort at shameless self-promotion . . . My first academic contribution to the field of strategic theory . . . or specifically Clausewitzian strategic theory, as if there were anything else but . . . An Introduction to Clausewitzian Strategic Theory Free subscription required. Enjoy. I would also like to thank IJ for this opportunity.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mogart and the Minions of M&Ms

Basil's little video reminded me that GIs - all soldiers, I suspect - are not to be trusted when given lots of time and nothing to fill it with. This story is one of the "tales from the Sinai" over at GFT, about some of the things that took place during my six months there. Since it seems like a slow sort of summer I thought I'd repost it here for your entertainment.
(The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to protect the fuckin' idiots who did this stuff and who might sue my ass off if I told anyone about them.)
His given name was Maurice, but he said that nobody called him "Maurice" after infancy. His older brother apparently shortened it to "Little Mo", and by the time he was in elementary school it was just "Mo". By the time his testicles descended I'm not sure he remembered his real name.

His family name was Hogart, though, and the stress of repeating the "oh" sound twice - "Mo Hogart" - was excessive for the grade schoolers in whatever little flyover town he grew up in. By high school his two names had become one all-purpose "Mogart", and it is as Mogart I remember him, standing atop an orange-and-white drum at the barricaded entrance to Sector Control North.Mogart worked for the battalion Supply and Transport (S&T) platoon, the small contingent of logistics specialists tasked with pushing supplies forward from our brigade out to the line companies. Officially he worked with me in Headquarters Company, tossed into the jumble with us medics, the cooks in the mess hall, the clerks in the Battalion PAC, all of us ash and trash that kept the battalion running.

Ask any line dog and he'll tell you that the Headquarters Company is full of more nuts and fruits than a Harry and David gift basket. And if I were to be honest, I'd have to say that we DID have our share of eccentrics, including my alcoholic old boss Monty Harder and the staff sergeant we called "Sergeant Jambo" because he spoke some sort of unintelligible Carolina barrier island dialect which, to our ignorant ears, sounded like something out of a Jungle Jim movie. Nobody in the company could comprehend anything he said including the First Sergeant, who eventually transferred him somewhere at the other end of post. COSCOM, I think.

I should add that this gomer also had a full length portrait of himself in uniform.

Painted on black velvet.So.

Mogart wasn't exactly the standout character in our Headquarters Company. But he was certainly in the running. The announcement of his entry into the HHC "Serious Sinai Freak" contest was probably Fluffy the Flatcat.

Our billet buildings in South Base had a small clowder of feral cats living somewhere inside, probably in one of the exterior stairs or under the building itself. These fugitive creatures were typically seen only at night, by the guys on Charge of Quarters or battalion Staff Duty, or by the night bakers interrupting their lightless raids on the mess hall dumpsters.

Every so often one of these cats would meet with a predictable mishap on one of the camp roads. This was where Fluffy the Flatcat and Mogart made their acquaintance.

Mogart was returning from an evening's amusement at the EOD Club; Fluffy had met his steel-belted destiny some days before and had been baked to a leathery consistency on the arid asphalt by the merciless Sinai sun. Mogart said he had seen the unusual lump from a distance and had ambled over to investigate; those who knew him better suspected that he had tripped on the thing and had practically pissed himself when he fetched up next to Fluffy's petrified snarl.

For whatever reason he peeled the flattened critter off the pavement and toted it back to his billet, carefully depositing it on a picnic table outside the main door. Fluffy was waiting for him there the next morning, and that was the beginning of the brief reign of terror of the Fear of a Black Cat.Because through Mogart's agency Fluffy began turning up everywhere. He perched grinning down from above the orderly room door and gloried in a brief - roughly five minutes, from the time Mogart tied him there until the commander noticed him - elevation to hood ornament on the Battalion Commander's quarter-ton jeep.

Perhaps the most terrifying Fluffy appearance was tied crotch-high to one of the piss-tubes up at Sector Control after dark, where he confronted an sleepy Australian helicopter pilot who came to full awakening at the sight of what appeared to be a vicious animal poised to bite down upon his unprotected and fully occupied penis.

His screams brought the duty squad tumbling out of the TOC trailer wide-eyed and fumbling for their single taped-closed magazine, his frantic evasive action sprayed the piss tube, Fluffy and his trousers with equal thoroughness, and the ensuing international hard words brought a quick and surreptitious burial for Fluffy, who passed from undead catness into legend.Mogart was distraught at the loss of his furry friend. Several of the other guys from S&T accused him of then trying to lure the Shithead from 3A into the road with meat-like food from a C-ration (or more likely an MRE - we were just beginning to get them in the early Eighties) to procure an even larger flat pet.
(Have I mentioned the Shitheads yet in Tales from the Sinai? No?

Well, the Shitheads were supposedly the brainstorm of some psychological genius from DA, who, after spending quite a lot of the government's money, determined that having "companion animals" was good for the boys' morale. Said animals, typically a sort of rangy greyhound-y looking mutt, were apparently obtained at very low prices from a nearby source - probably Israeli, since the Egyptians like most Arabs are not generally dog fanciers - and imported to their new homes to spend their doggie lives warming the hearts of the lonely boys in uniform.

There these poor lads immediately dubbed them individually and collectively "Shithead" and spent what time they didn't ignore them booting them around and cursing their uncleanliness, uselessness, relentless mooching and usual expression of morose self-pity. Which, given the attitude they met, was hardly unreasonable.

When more specific identification was needed, the shithead would be surnamed by its location.

"You hear about that Shithead got run over yesterday up on the MSR near Eilat?"

"Well, damn, that sucks. Shithead there was a cool Shithead. You mean the Checkpoint 3 Alpha Shithead?"

"Nah, he's fine. It was the OP3-1 Shithead."

"Well, there you go, then. That fuckin' Shithead was dumber the the goddamn Sergeant Major. No wonder he got his doggie ass run over."

"Dude, that's harsh. Dog's dead, you're insulting him by comparing him to the Sergeant Major..?"

"Sorry, man..."

My only other Shithead experience came during the Force change-of-command, when the new MFO Commander flew into OP 3-11 and proceeded to ignore all of our military cleanliness and knowledge-of-our-standing-orders sort of brass-shining we'd gotten up for him and instead asked the squad leader about the OP Shithead, of which we knew nothing other than his infuriating habit of crapping in people's unguarded boots.

Anyway, that was the Shitheads)
I went out into sector [a wonderful time and a story I'll have to tell another day, of Sergeant Howard's squad and our adventures as Wadi Ain El Fortaga; Leroy and Jutta, the camels in the wire, Suleman's kite, Old Selim, Sala and Salaha, and the ascent of Gebel Mikemin. But that's for another day] right after this; there was quite a bit of speculation about the effect the loss of his necrotic feline friend would have on Mogart."Fucker's going to really go Asiatic," warned several would-be China hands, "better watch out for him when we get back."

So it was with some anticipation that I looked over the white-painted siderail of the whining deuce-and-a-half as we rolled out of the mountains, crossed the MSR towards the Sector Control wire. My curiosity wasn't long unsated. For there, perched atop one of the empty drums at the main gate, was the man himself.

It was only after I spent a moment wondering what the hell he was playing at that I noticed his worshipers.These consisted of a raggedy swarm of fifteen of so assorted "Bedouin" kids. These weren't the genuine deep-desert Bedu, the like of which we had supped with the preceding two weeks. These were the scaff and raff of the seedy little settlement nearby; town Arabs, drifters, fellahin, really. And there were more than a dozen of these clustered in a sort of half-circle in the dusty waste outside the gate, ranging from borderline-lean just-past-toddlers to underfed-borderline-starvation-thin mid-teens. They were all gazing up at Mogart as if he was a baked chicken, Ramadan, Christmas, New Years and the second coming of Muhammad Ali all in a set of chocolate-chip fatigues.

As we grew closer to the gate, we could tell that the kids were watching Mogart for some sort of signal; this he gave, in the form of a sort of little jump or hop that included bringing his hands together over his head.

The response was immediate and explosive; suddenly fifteen little Egyptians were doing frantic jumping jacks - "sidestraddle hops", in Army terms - their little bodies jigging, spinning, and bounding with the frenzied motion, like jumping jacks performed by spastic methamphetamine users.

Mogart lowered his arms to shoulder height, pointing both index fingers at the ground, which was the signal for his little minions to drop to the bare soil and begin doing pushups. These were more energetic than efficient - most of the kids couldn't keep their backs straight and the resulting sine wave was pretty silly looking. The little toddler types just rolled around on the ground.

And then Mogart raised and spread his arms triumphantly, at which signal his followers jumped to their feet bowing at the waist like so many toy drinking birds. Even over the blat and whine of the trucks we could hear their little voices crying

"Hail Mogart! Hail, oh mighty Mogart! Hail Mogart! Oh mighty Mogart!"

And then the entire scene dissolved into scrambling, kicking, grabbing chaos, because their king scattered largesse among his people in the form of peanut M&Ms. The resulting riot was not pretty to watch, as the older kids snatched and clubbed with brutal efficiency. While the god of the steel drum looked down benignly and raised his arms again. The chanting returned as we rolled through the gate; hail, Mogart, oh mighty Mogart, hail...I don't think anyone said a word for the next mile, until from up near the cab, a low voice opined;

"Well. He's gonna burn in Hell for THAT shit..."

All there agreed that deserved as it was it was unlikely, since Hell was empty and the Devil Mogart was here.

And the sun went down behind the mountains to the west.