Among the very first things a shooter-to-be is taught about guns and shooting is to know your target and focus on it. There are actually two reasons for this imperative:
- If you don’t “know your target and focus on it,” how can you expect to hit it?
- If you do “know your target and focus on it,” you’re less likely to shoot something you shouldn’t.
Not too difficult, eh? Yet a lot of trainee shooters have to have it drilled into them with repeated whacks to the head. Ask any Range Safety Officer.
As of this morning, I’m focused on another aspect of the matter: the one expressed in the title of this piece. Before you can “know your target and focus on it,” you must choose your target. How – in circumstances other than at the shooting range where the target is a piece of paper hung some distance away – does one do that? Is there a trustworthy procedure?
This is difficult – sometimes difficult enough to defeat supposedly well seasoned strategic planners and tactical analysts. The French got it wrong in 1914. In consequence they suffered four years of war and over two million casualties.
The difficulty of accurate target selection is why the study of war is mainly the study of the mistakes made by the generals of earlier wars. There’s really no way to know where the next war will be, or what it will be about, or who will fight it, or with what weapons. The analyst in training can hope not to repeat the blunders of his predecessors if he studies them deeply enough. However, when the balloon goes up, he and his fellows will almost certainly be in uncharted territory, entirely dependent upon their wits and a slew of dubious, frequently contradictory reports from the field.
Concerning target selection in contexts other than a flying-lead war, Americans had better “up their game.” We keep choosing the wrong ones, and it’s cost us dearly.
Consider: there are 540 elected federal officials. When we go to the polls, those are the positions whose occupants we choose…or think we choose. But how important are they really? How important, compared to the millions of appointed and Civil Service employees of the federal government, have they been in recent years?
Political campaigns focus entirely on the elected officials. Yet a skeptical look at the balance of power in Washington — to say nothing of the post-election machinations of those who orchestrate those campaigns – suggests that the whole business is an exercise in misdirection.
It appears that those who want genuine, de facto control of federal affairs should concentrate on the “Deep State:” the immense, unelected, and utterly unaccountable federal executive bureaucracy. That’s where the action is. Our “political class” knows it full well.
There’s a phrase that deserves a close look: the “political class.” Those 540 elected officials are a mere appendage to it. The vast majority of the political class is made up of “advisors,” “interests,” and “stakeholders:” persons and organizations that are engaged in political action, but are seldom overly concerned with who holds what elective office. Most of the time, the elected officials function as distractions from the truly important operations of the political class. The political class prefers to get its work done sight unseen.
To be sure, anyone who’s had the misfortune to suffer through five minutes of Joe Biden’s recent ramblings can’t imagine that he’s directing federal policy.
Isabel Paterson was of the opinion that the swelling of the federal bureaucracy was made possible by the Seventeenth Amendment. It’s not that clear to me. I look to the New Deal and the Supreme Court’s acceptance of two of its propositions:
- That the federal government’s power to tax is unbounded by its enumerated powers;
- That the Tenth Amendment is “a mere truism” that exerts no restraining force on Washington.
But let’s not dilute our focus unwisely. The key fact here is that the 540 elected federal officials are insignificant in comparison to the “advisors,” “interests,” and “stakeholders” in the broad determination of federal policy. The millions of federal bureaucrats are the engine that determines and enforces the details of those policies. The “advisors,” “interests,” and “stakeholders” work sedulously to ensure that the bureaucracies follow their will – and that the elected figureheads put the best possible face on it.
The John Birch Society’s “insiders” thesis has been right all along – and Henry Bowman had the right idea.
The rest is an exercise for you, Gentle Reader.