Artemis blog: Fireside Chat

Fireside Chat

The Major and I were sitting, once again, by the fire smoking our cigars, nursing our whiskeys, and reliving past campaigns.  We rejoiced in the brilliance of our past strategies, found others to blame for our shortcomings, and pontificated on how other lesser mortals could have arranged their battles to match our own acumen.

“Captain, what should be done with this whole ‘lockdown’ order?”,  asked the Major, tamping the ash of his cigar into his pewter ashtray.

“Well, Major, that depends… are you asking from the position of controlling the population or protecting the Constitution?”

“Captain, you swore an oath to protect that very document when you became a lawyer and when you became a military officer.  Is not defeating the virus and protecting the Constitution mutually compatible?”

“Well, Major, of course it is, as you well know.  The Constitution was never to be viewed as a suicide pact.  But, as you know, certain policy ideas have been removed from the table because of the Constitution.”  I said this knowing that I was not really illuminating the Major.  He was well aware of this… clearly he had thoughts of where this conversation should be going.

“Let’s just begin this with a hypothetical.  What if we were not constrained by that document.  What if we were like… say a European principality, or a despotic regime in Africa or Asia?  Our mission is to eliminate a virus, or, at the very least, eliminate the spread of said virus.  What would you do?”

I placed my cigar in my own ashtray and took a sip of my Lagavulin, staring intently into the fire as I formulated my thoughts…

“Well Major… I would capitalize on the devolution of power to the lowest level.  I would have local precincts enforce a strict stay-at-home order.  Individuals would be kept separated one way or the other, either in their homes, or in makeshift internment camps.  I would then begin systematically testing everyone.  Once a person was cleared as negative, he would be tagged with a visible GPS tracing indicator and could travel freely in sectors that had achieved at least 80% completed testing.  Those who tested positive would be placed in camps where they would await medical treatment, but would be kept from outside contact.  To act as a final precaution, I would mandate that everyone wearing a GPS tracker would still wear a mask, and those without a mask would be considered potential positives and placed in an internment camp for a minimum of 14 days.  Then they would be tested and released (if negative)… and if they still don’t wear a mask, they would be returned to the camp for another two-week stay.”

“Captain,” the Major said raising his eyebrow at me, “who would you use to enforce these provisions?” 

“Well, Major, the most logical would be the local police.”

“I agree… that would be the most logical… but it is also the most impractical.”

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“Why impractical, Major?”

“The police are comprised of the local population.  They think of themselves as being something other than civilians, but we both know that is not true.  They are simply civilians who have been given exemptions from certain laws to make the execution of their duties more feasible.  Do you really think they will follow your orders?  Well… that is not fair, you did say that it would be the local authorities that would mandate this, didn’t you?  Do you really think that a police officer, or even a police chief, is going to be prepared to do what that local leader is asking her to do?”

“I don’t think so, my dear Captain.  In fact, I think you will see a lot of police officers who will simply ignore these orders, or worse, stand between their fellow citizens and their replacements that the local leaders have brought in to execute this program.  No, Captain… a simple deputy cannot be trusted for your important mission.  It must be a military operation.”

“Well, Major, you have a point, but I fear that even the military is going to balk at doing these things that I speak of to our fellow Americans.”

“Oh, they would Captain, unless of course that military was not entirely American.”

“Excuse me, Major?”

“It’s not without precedent, is it?  When North Korea invaded South Korea the United Nations assembled a force to restore the status quo antebellum.  Why would it seem so unreasonable that a coalition would not impose a military occupation in the United States for the purposes of securing our nation.  Not an invasion, Captain… an invitation.”

“Preposterous, Major!  This country would never accept any level of foreign control by coalition forces!  Even if we were to accept the proposition that the Constitution has been abrogated, the stationing of foreign troops on American soil is more than the citizens of this country would be willing to tolerate!”

“Perhaps you are correct, Captain… Then again, perhaps not.  We have seen American corporations bend the knee for the Chinese Communist party, criticizing our own country, yet censoring themselves on Chinese conduct for the promise of a few shekels.  We have seen the youth of America literally demonstrating, and, in some cases, rioting, demanding that the government take away their rights for the promises of a few crumbs of what would be worthless paper dollars through mandatory redistribution.”

The two of us stared quietly at the fire.

“Well, Major.  Thankfully we are not policymakers.  Perhaps these thoughts have not been floated in the Puzzle Palace.  By the way… one of the women outside waiting for her car to be delivered by the valet was vaping on a Mango Peach Fury; watching her reminded me that I wanted to ask you… What has become of COL Eek?  I have not seen him for ages.”

“He is in Washington, Captain… making policy.”