Monday, July 16, 2012

Ping Pong with John Burdett

John Burdett

John Burdett has responded to my earlier posts see John Burdett's Vulture peak (7/13/12) and Money and Drugs (7/14/12).


"You are a fanatic and keep missing the point."


I took up your challenge on the connection of "money and drugs" (7/14/12) and posted again.

Thanks for the inspiration.

I've been called worse that a fanatic!

Cheers from Seattle,
Chris Kelly


"Subject: Re: Money and Drugs

You remind me of Pyle in The Quiet American - full of theories but unable to see the blood on his own shoe. What you are, unconsciously, proselytising for is not actually capitalism in the form described hundreds of years ago by Adam Smith & Co, but a pagan religion forced on us by the military-industrial nexus which demands unlimited human sacrifice at home and abroad."


On 15 July 2012
No blood on these shoes.  Not even any shoes at the moment!

I hope that you could, at least, join me in helping to support the legalization of foie gras in California, UK, etc.  (see my earlier post on Marijauna and Pate in California 6/30/12)!

OK, I confess, there could be some goose blood, after all.

Cheers from Seattle,

Chris Kelly


"You cannot escape by trivializing - the last resort of a loser of argument. The reference to the military-industrial complex was taken from Eisenhower's warning - not only a Republican but largely the architect of American foreign policy to this day. Your parochial attachment to orthodoxy has resulted in a lamentable tunnel vision, to which I have already made reference. Of course there is blood on your shoes - and an awful lot of other boots. The unwritten but all too obvious ambition of 'war without end' has largely been achieved."

Ping Pong



You have now called me a "naive", "blind",  "fanatic who has blood on his shoes."  I am accused of a "parochial attachment to orthodoxy and a lamentable tunnel vision." I am also apparently an unconscious proselytizing pagan who worships at the feet of the military industrial complex.  All this and we haven't even met!

I suspect that I may have the advantage of you insofar as I have read all your novels while you seem relatively unacquainted with my blog postings.

In my blog I have ridiculed Republicans such as Ron Paul (see Ron Paul and Onanism, 12/16/11).  I have compared Japanese Prime Minister Tojo to the American President James Madison (James Madison's USA and Hideki Tojo's Japan 7/9/12).  Just  yesterday, I even praised Democratic President Jimmy Carter for goodness sake (Defending...Jimmy Carter? 7/15/12)).  These are hardly "orthodox" positions for a conservative American to take.

In my efforts to avoid "tunnel vision" I read, respect and quote many different writers including socialists who demonstrate intellectual integrity such as Christopher Hitchens (The Haitian Revolution and the USA 4/28/12 among others) and CLR James (Toussaint L'Ouverture versus Obama, 5/5/12).  I revere the socialist George Orwell as well.  Heck, I even read leftie crime novelists!

You seem to think that corporations are evil destructive forces (in our midst (your words "the destructive effect of vast multi-national corporations") , you rail against the military-industrial complex and are reflexively anti-American (In Vulture Peak on discovering three corpses in Bangkok, your hero Sonchai immediately blames "Reagan, Milton Friedman and capitalism").   You profess great admiration for Chief Seattle.  You have a fondness for conspiracy theories.  All these positions display a parochial attachment the the orthodoxy of the mainstream  media -- NY Times, Washington Post, The Guardian and the BBC.  You claim to be above partisan politics while you echo liberal orthodoxy over and over.  Yes, corporations are people too!

You accuse me of worshiping a pagan god -- Mars I presume -- at the altar of the military industrial complex.  Perhaps you may want to read my posts on Was Napoleon a Conservative? 5/29/12 and James Madison's USA and Hideki Tojo's Japan 7/9/12 to get some sense of my true position on jingoism.

You have asserted, without providing any documentation, that "according to some respectable accounts one third of the money washing around the world is owned by drug lords".  When I proved that this assertion is demonstrably false in my post, Money and Drugs, (7/14/12) you resorted to personal ad hominem attack.  Not a particularly strong debate technique.  If you continue to perpetrate this tosh  in your future works, knowing it to be false, then that, my friend, is on your conscience.

7%,  Made in NJ, USA
I would be happy to make a little wager with you.  If you can provide any credible documentation of your suggestion about 1/3 of the world's money belonging to Drug Lords, then I will publish it on this blog and send you a case of Two Blind Monks beer.  If, however, you can't, you need to send me a case of the same.  What do you say?

Commander K. has clean shoes!
You assert that I have "blood on my shoes".  This is untrue both literally and metaphorically.  In spite of my assuming the "nom de plume", Commander Kelly, I make no pretense of ever having ever served in the military.  I do not own gun, though I support second amendment rights.  I do, however, have great respect for those that have served the cause of freedom including James Doohan, Violette Szabo, Tommy Hitchcock, Alan Turing, Seal Team Six, the Tuskegee airmen (see multiple earlier posts) and millions more.  My late beloved father served in the US army during the Korean war until he was honorably discharged.  He was based in Verdun, France and used to remark that he "kept the North Koreans out of France!"  No blood on his shoes either.

You seem unfamiliar with my posts on military intelligence (Bletchley Park and the Judgement of History, 4/22/12, Bletchley Park and Stalin, 2/17/12) where I highlight that fact that these heroic efforts shortened the war and saved countless lives.  The quiet German, Johnny Jebsen, ((Double Cross D-Day Spies 7/1/12) worked in intelligence like Graham Greene's Pyle and the blood on his shoes and shirt that resulted from the Gestapo's torture was his own.

You are right about me in some respects though.  Reiterating, I do honor those that have served the military in defense of freedom.  “Sooner or has to take sides. If one is to remain human,”  as Graham Greene said in The Quiet American.  I prefer to take the side of freedom.  I am glad that the USA is still, to some extent, an industrial and industrious society -- we still manufacture Boeing planes and a few other things.  I do appreciate that sacrifice is required to maintain our freedom -- "freedom is not free" as the saying goes.  I am proud that the military industrial complex (the arsenal of democracy) of the United States helped to defeat Hitler's nazi regime and the Japanese militarists in World War II.  I am proud that American military power helped to liberate the nazi death camps ending the grim work of the holocaust.  So was Ike.

Pyle wanted to contain communism while I, on the other hand, celebrate the West's decisive and peaceful victory over communism and the former Soviet Union, the necessary precondition for which was America's military industrial complex.  I am very pleased that my children do not need to grow up under the shadow of "mutually assured destruction (MAD)" as my generation did.  Perhaps it annoys you that Reagan, Thatcher and certain multi-national corporations deserve much credit for this?

You may have some interest in perpetual war; I have none.  My preferred American foreign policy action would be strong, decisive and non-violent (e.g. TR's The Great White Fleet see earlier post The American Bias for Action, 3/12/12, Carter's Boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, etc.).  The Ur-Quiet American was, perhaps, TR who believed in speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

I have written 6 times in my blog about Eisenhower, who I admire very much for his leadership in World War II, his peacemaking in Korea and his integration of the US military. I wrote, for example, "No one despises war more than the warrior.  It is a curious fact of American history that those Presidents who had the greatest direct experience of the realities of warfare (Washington, Grant, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower) all presided over extended periods of peace.  On the other hand, those who lacked military experience frequently found themselves embroiled in America’s costliest wars (Lincoln was a lawyer who opposed the very popular Mexican war, Wilson a college President, FDR a governor, LBJ a career politician, G.W. Bush a baseball entrepreneur and reservist who avoided the Vietnam war, and, the current author of our recent "Kinetic military action" in Libya, Obama, was a community organizer)." Earlier Post the Utility of War, 1/5/12.

As far as paganism is concerned, I respect those of all faiths and those who have none.

Given your residence in France and your evident interest in food, I regret that we did not find common ground on the foie gras issue (see earlier post, Marijauna and Pate in California, 6/30/12)!  That silly law was signed by a Republican, Governor Schwarzenegger, by the way.  Based on your "trivialization" comment, it seems that you support legalization of drugs and prostitution but have no problem with criminalizing foie gras?!    That is rich indeed!

Peace to you and your family!

Peace to Randy Newman too!

ECONOMIST ROBERT E. WRIGHT (author of One Nation Under Debt  http:/ Fubarnomics http:/ JOINS THE DEBATE...

"Both Commander Kelly (CK) and John Burdett (JB) could be right about this. It depends on what was meant by "one third of the money washing around the world." CK takes money to mean ASSETS and clearly shows the impossibility of the claim without even evoking the assets of major corporations. But of course money refers only to the most liquid of assets and cash only the bearer manifestation thereof. Due to the illicit nature of their business, drug dealers prefer physical cash over more traceable forms like bank accounts, hence the ridiculous stash of cache pictured above. (See The Wire or Breaking Bad for important caveats, however.) If by money JB meant "cash" his claim is very defensible though of course an estimate."

Commander Kelly notes that Robert E. Wright is a business, economic, financial, and monetary historian and the inaugural Rudy and Marilyn Nef Family Chair of Political Economy at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


"Sorry, I have no more time, although it has been fun (the next book calls). As a final observation: are you aware how revealing of your inner world it is that you call yourself 'Commander'?"



I agree with Robert Wright's comment, by the way.  If by "money" you meant cash or currency you could well be correct--difficult to prove, but possible.  If  by "money" you meant any broader definition of money  (assets) then I think my case is pretty unassailable.   I think he is a pretty fair-minded economist who I have read and quoted previously.

"Commander" was a high school nickname.  Sometimes I even agree with "Commander Kelly" as, perhaps, you sometimes do with Sonchai.

Good luck with the next book!

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades or on

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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