Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The World According to Jim, and Why He Is Wrong

Jim appears to have a simple one-size-fits-all solution to difficult problems - shoot them.

Doesn't seem to really matter what the issues are or the circumstances; Jim and those who think like him believe that guns are a solution, all the time, any time, and where they don't appear to be working, the answer is MORE guns and more shooting.

As a person with a better grasp than average of strategy and tactics, and good analytical skills, I evaluate the spectrum of possible solutions to achieve the desired end goal. 

In the case of the London rioting, where I just heard on the national broadcast news that the police are considering using plastic (not rubber) bullets, it occurred to me that an explanation of that thinking, to think out loud essentially, might be useful.

The goal in London is to end the rioting, not to spark more rioting - not more locations, not more people, not rioting that continues over a longer period of time.  History has not reflected well on shootings of unarmed people by authorities, particularly if those people were acting out in protest of an inequality.  To their credit, the Brits tend to take the long view, and have been criticized by students of history internally and externally, when they resorted to simple brutality.

More than that, historically it has not worked.  I would point to the past year's events in places like Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere in northern Africa and Asia minor.  It is a failing strategy in Syria, it has not been successful in Yemen, it is not successful in Libya.

I would suggest that those stupid, simplistic fools who think the answer to the riots in London is simple brute force, and that anything less is simply being namby-pamby towards criminals should acquaint themselves with the very important work of an author by the name of Gene Sharp.  Probably the most useful of his writings for purposes of analyzing and problem solving the riots would be "From Dictatorship to Democracy", which can be read online for free - just click on the title.  This was one of my posts in response to discussions over on MikeB's blog; if I recall this was before I formally joined as an admin and author.

To apply more subtle and complex analysis than the ' ya just gots to shoot 'em, shoot 'em all, then shoot some more' approach of Jim, look first at the catalyst for the riots.  A man was shot, by a police officer.  That man shot at the police officer, embedding a bullet in his cell phone.  The police officer shot back, a move which, if the police account is correct, seems fairly justified.  But right or wrong, THIS is what started the riots, this is what touched off simmering, unresolved tensions into full blown conflict.

So........what do you think would be the response if the police (or military supporting the police) were to start shooting civilians, a mix of old and young, male and female, who were unarmed except for the most primitive use of the occasional bottle or rock?  There is a finite number of police in London; there is a finite number of police in the countryside surrounding London.  There is no abundant surplus of resources here, and there is a growing, not declining, number of people with whom they have to contend in opposition.  IF someone were stupid enough to incite further violence by more shooting - the likely outcome given the catalyst events - then those forces would be overwhelmed.  Further, there are limited resources available to the police; budgets have been cut to the how would people like Jim propose to fund the massive escalation of people and material required to respond to a massive escalation on the side of the rioters?  How much of London and the surrounding area, metro and beyond, would be left vulnerable to other crime or violence?

How many people on either side, police/ authorities or rioters would be dead or injured? How much MORE property would be damaged in an increase in rioting.  And the ultimate question - would that move the conflict closer or further away from any kind of resolution.

If the authorities did take the resolution that Jim seems to favor, I guarantee you that the Cameron government would topple, and be replaced - and NOT by another conservative either.  Any number of upper level authorities in the police and in civil government would be tossed out on their collective asses, because of the likely unpopularity of that kind of largely avoidable escalation in violence and increased instability.  It would further raise the risk of a marked increase in sympathy and support for the rioters, against the police and/or military.  Whenever either is required to fire on people, people with whom they identify, you further run the risk of a breakdown in the discipline of authority forces due to identification with the people who are the targets, especially if they include women and children - as these riots do.

There is sometimes a great deal of truth in the axiom that violence begets violence.  Sometimes a solution of force cannot be avoided; but when it is the solution that is necessary, it must always be minimal, and surgical in precision.  The solution Jim appears to advocate is neither of those.

Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them; Jim appears to be one of those who is history illiterate, as are those who think like him.  Whereas the less violent solution is cost effective, and it is far more likely to produced the desired ending of the riots, sooner, and with the least risk to all parties involved.

You can work rough, or you can work smart.  The Brits work smart, and more power to them; this is a rough and dangerous situation for them to get under control.


  1. We have something called CO19 who are authorised to shoot in a legally acceptable manner (I realise that working within the law is a foreign concept to septics). Potential recruits are only invited to attend the centre if they have successfully passed written psychological tests, and have been properly vetted.

    We really don't appreciate having trigger happy persons running around with guns the way you yanks do.

    This is because we have had a longer history,of which we are cognizant where armed groups were a law unto themselves (e.g. the Border Reivers). We prefer the rule of law, not a world of vendettas.

  2. A bottle or rock is still a weapon, and the use of force, including deadly force, is an acceptable way of stopping the threat. It probably won't happen, in the Place Where Great Britain Used To Be.
    The Tottenham Outrage was only a little over a century ago, and now the residents of the PWGBUTB are reduced to arming themselves with stick to protect themselves from mobs. Regression, indeed. At this rate, they'll soon forget how to make fire. They're losing all the other attributes of thinking people.

  3. An interesting update, Laci.

    The shooting of the man which was the catalyst to these riots was originally identified as a gang leader; the police shooting OF this man was reported to be in self defense, with the officer responsible for the shooting having been saved from a bullet which lodged in his cell phone - a bullet which otherwise would have injured or even killed him.

    Except that now an initial independent investigation is discovering the dead man does not appear to have any gang connections whatsoever.

    The gun recovered at the scene of that shooting does not appear to have been fired.

    And the bullet in the cell phone appears, instead, to have come from a police firearm.

    So, while this appeared at first to be a puzzling catalyst to me now seems at least a slightly more understandable triggering event, although I'm astonished at the extent of the riots that have occurred in sympathy now outside of London.

    This demonstrates perfectly my concern that excessive violence by authorities would escalate not minimize new violence.

    The devestation is terrible, and the violence is appalling; but it would be far worse if this had degenerated into a firefight between police and rioters. Clearly that these rioters are not armed with even more deadly weapons, ranged weapons that operate at a greater distance than what can be thrown, has limited at least some of the deaths and injuries.

  4. TennBud, yes a bottle or rock can be a weapon - but less likely to harm than a bullet.

    The police have protective armor, helmets, face shields, riot shields, all of which provide considerable protection.

    The extent of the damages is an indication of the intensity of anger and deep feeling that has been released by these triggering events. It is further confirmed by the expansion of the violence beyond the original area.

    Shooting the rioters would make more people angry, and violent, in response; it is unlikely that it would suppress anything. Your solution fails to take into account how many people are involved here.

    Or maybe you think just mowing them down, like something out of the massacres of the Russian revolution would be a suitable solution?

    Just what? Kill all of them?

    Apparently you have no idea of civilized people. That is the very action that caused the condemnation of dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, etc.

    It has never been, in the popular opinion of the time, much less the judgment of history, the correct response.

    You have a fundamental inability to assess this situation, one that fails to take into account the area involved and the quantity of people involved, as well as the similar feeling being far more widespread than these few neighborhoods.

  5. TennBud seems not to have learned the fundamental principle of crisis management, one that is similar to basic first aid (and all medicine).

    First do no harm / don't make the situation worse, more out of control, more widespread, or more violent.

    But the knee-jerk 'just shoot 'em' FEELS good to people like Tenn Budd. That makes it both the response of low emotional IQ, and low intelectual IQ.

    When there is a crisis, a problem, the answer is always to think, not to panic, and not to respond emotionally rather than logically or pragmatically.

    Sadly, the 'aw just shoot 'em, and then shoot 'em some more' crowd is creaming their jeans at trying to use something like this to justify gun ownership.

    The typical privately owned long barrel or hand gun would not be of much use against crowds of this size and violence, except in the quantity available to large, trained and coordinated forces.

    But the thought of going bang at bad people just excites hell out of Tenn Bud and people who think - if that is the word for it - like him.

  6. Laci - so if using violence is out of the question for the government and for the general public, then what is the proposed solution to the rioting? Do you just wait for the people to get tired of burning and looting things? Just wait till there is nothing left to burn and loot? Do you give in to their demands? (What are their demands anyway?) After you get them all settled and happy doesn't this just show that rioting is a viable way to get what you want?

  7. Jim, see my post about BBC news coverage for the answer to your question.

  8. Laci - Most of what was posted was what the government would not do - i.e. water cannons or armed police. So what are they going to do? Anything active to stop the riots? Yeah they have arrested some of them, but it seems the violence is spreading.

    As you pointed out, 3 unarmed people were killed by the rioters simply for standing in their way.

    It looks like the Muslims are arming up vigilante guards with baseball bats. If they beat the crap out of someone will they be charged with a crime?

  9. Jim, if you have eyes, can you not see? Do you know what riot police look like? They have been out in force.

    Yes, if a citizen takes the law into his own hands and goes beyond the reasonable force needed to stop the threat, then they can be prosecuted as an aggressor.

    "A defendant is entitled to use reasonable force to protect himself, others for whom he is responsible and his property. It must be reasonable." Beckford v R (1988) 1 AC 130:

    The defendant does not have the right to determine what constitutes "reasonable force" because the defendant would always maintain they acted reasonably and thus would never be guilty. The jury, as ordinary members of the community, must decide the amount of force reasonable in the circumstances of each case. It is relevant that the defendant was under pressure from imminent attack and may not have had time to make entirely rational decisions, so the test must balance the objective standard of a reasonable person by attributing some of the subjective knowledge of the defendant, including what they believed about the circumstances, even if mistaken. However, even allowing for mistakes made in a crisis, the amount of force must be proportionate and reasonable given the value of the interests being protected and the harm likely to be caused by use of force.

  10. The relatively passive containment in London seemed to be effective in quieting things down, without either side getting into a domestic shooting war, Jim.

    I suspect that will be the case in other locales as well.

    Do you regard Sihks with cricket bats as being a different class of citizens than Muslims with crickt bats, btw? Are you an islamophobe Jim?

  11. I should also add, for your edification, Jim, that The Military and Police are also subject to the laws of self-defence in Great Britain.

    The most notorious case being that of Operation Flavius which was was the name given to an operation by a Special Air Service (SAS) team in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988 tasked to prevent a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb attack.

    It was alleged that the SAS exceeded the amount of force necessary to stop the IRA ASU! There was an inquest held in Gibralter that returned a verdict of lawful killing by a 9-2 majority. On the other hand, the European Court of Human Rights ruled by a majority verdict ten votes to nine that:

    “ the Court is not persuaded that the killing of the three terrorists constituted the use of force which was no more than absolutely necessary in defence of persons from unlawful violence within the meaning of Article 2 para. 2 (a) (art. 2-2-a) of the Convention.”

    Therefore there had been a breach of the above article of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to the deprivation of life.

    See also: Law enforcement by police officers and Law enforcement by soldiers

  12. “ the Court is not persuaded that the killing of the three terrorists constituted the use of force which was no more than absolutely necessary in defence of persons from unlawful violence within the meaning of Article 2 para. 2 (a) (art. 2-2-a) of the Convention.”

    Fortunately as a true sovereign nation, the U.S. doesn't have to worry about the judgement of silly foreign courts.

  13. And you don't really mean it when you say that you believe in the right to life, FWM.

    Property is far more valuable to you than human life.

    When the Bible tells you to treat others as you would have them treat you, you find that to be a meaningless exhortation.

    SO, you are not truly a Christian either, FWM.

    If you were,you would not sanction the taking of human life when there are other alternatives available.

  14. FWM wrote:"Fortunately as a true sovereign nation, the U.S. doesn't have to worry about the judgement of silly foreign courts."

    Our courts in the US DO follow the same legal tradition of holding people, human life, more important than proprety, FWM. This is not a legal principle unique to foreign courts - courts, btw, which are not silly.

    Your impression of law IS what is silly, and really ugly, and inconsistent with what law and courts in this country do represent.

    Laci has practiced law on both sides of the Atlantic; he is equally familiar with the law here - and rather more so than you are.

    All of you are avoiding the elephant in the middle of the room - that bad as this is (and it IS bad) how much worse it would be if both sides were shooting at each other.

    As they would be in similar circumstances because of the availability of guns, in the U.S.

    No one who is advocating for harsher actions, including shooting, by the UK has addressed just how damn brave you would be shooting people who were just as armed, just as determined, shooting back AT YOU.

    Your solutions are knee-jerk, stupid, irrational not rational. And every time that a government has acted as you advocate (or private citizens for that matter) the assessment of them afterwards has been to condemn them for it. It is never a success.

    Wise up.

  15. Where the hell did all the property values vs. human rights vs. Christian beliefs come from????

    Laci posted where SAS was cleared of wrongdoing by a Gibralter inquest then said some foreign, European court decided otherwise.

    I made the comment that Americans don't have to worry about some silly foreign court judging us and suddenly I spit on God and hate puppies or some unrelated hogwash. You people are getting more and more outer limits every day. Where did I ever mention Christian values or putting property above human life? Doggone has been confused and delusional about things I supposedly posted before, guess she is doing it again.

    I know nothing about the SAS incident and what property they they thought was more valuable than armed terrorists or even if it was a good or bad deed. Maybe you could give us a link to a news story or something so someone other than Laci would know something about the incident. Maybe then I will learn what Christian property I took a piss on by thinking that giving up your national sovereignty to the judgement of a foreign court is not a good idea.

    Doggone is right that I don't know anything about practicing law on the other side of the Atlantic and could give a rats ass about practicing law on the other side of the Atlantic. As an American I don't have to worry about some silly court practicing law across the Atlantic because I am not subject to some European court practicing law on the other side of the Atlantic.

    And I also didn't think this blog could get any nuttier when Mike handed the keys to Jade. Guess I was wrong.

  16. FWM, while we might address something you've written in one paragraph or reference, usually we've moved on to part of another comment in the next sentence or paragraph. Our omments are frequently addressing the content of multiple commenters, or sometimes a cumulative position from that commenter if we know their positions well.

    There are a lot of similarities between many of the decisions by foreign courts and U.S. courts; the distinction you made was not all that useful in that context. Further, some of our treaties DO obligate us to jurisdictions that are multinational, in which we actively participate.

    Don't be so xenophobic!

  17. I think the only time the government should use excessive force is when they begin going door to door confiscating guns from the 2A fanatics. They should begin on Sipsey Street and then head over to Knoxville.

  18. No Doggone, I'm pretty sure your and Laci's rants about Christ and property values were directed at me.

  19. FWM, I'm confident that when a post is titled "The World According to Jim, and Why He is Wrong", YOU are not being singled out for comment.

    In reviewing the comments here, you are not singled out specifically as often as other people are; and while you are included, you are not the sole audience for which either Laci or I write. On THAT, I am confident in speaking for both Laci and myself, as it tracks with a specific conversation we had about the larger audience for which we write.

    FWM, you are a valued commenter and important to us........but not quite that important.

  20. "Read <a href=">This>~</a>, Fat White Hypocrite."

    I think Laci's comment was directed at your FWM as she refers to you as a Fat White Hypocrite. Of course, I am also white and a little fat (I am trying to work on that) but I don't think I ever told anyone here that, so I am assuming she meant you FWM.

    I am a bit suprised a lawyer would go to the Bible for legal issues. Laci - are you suggesting our laws here or in England are based on Christian morals expressed in the Bible?

  21. Pssssst! Jim!
    you wrote:"I think Laci's comment ... as she refers to ...I am assuming she meant..."

    A bit of clarification:

    Laci the Chinese Crested Dog is a fluffy powderpuff female canine, very feminine;

    Laci the blogger is very much both human and male, and decidedly masculine, LOL.

    Although they both have great's just that she has four, and he only has two.

  22. Jim, do you know the difference between legal and ethical issues?

    You may want to learn the difference.

    Law is a system of rules and guidelines, usually enforced through a set of institutions. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people.

    Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality — that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.

    While similar in nature, they are quite different in practise. Ethic can influence law, but law should not influence ethics.

    My comment to FWM related to ethical choices. Each person's ethics is their own choice. Although I do find an inconsitency between saying that one is a Christian who believes in the sanctity of life, yet condones the beliefs expoused by the gun lobby.

    I am not the only one who believes this is an inconsistency. See This, This and This.

    Whether property is more valuable than human life is an ethical question, Jim, not a legal one.

    Try to grasp the difference.

  23. I should add that I find it incredibly hypocritical that FWM states that he is pro-life and pro-gun.

    I agree with Dog Gone that FWM is also incredibly provincial in his understanding of international relations and US law.

    That goes for his comment about not caring what the rest of the world thinks.

    As I like to say, the defenders of the Constitution need to bone up on what they are defending Since Article 6, Clause 2 states:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    Like it or not, International treaties entered into by the US are part of US law. and diplomacy is something the US needs to seriously work on as well.

    If anything, I find FWM to be incredibly closed minded.

    To counter his possible "rebuttal"--I am open minded, but don't think that I may not have already looked into an issue (e.g. Second Amendment history, "unorganised militia", etc.) before coming to a conclusion.

    Should you present me with an argument which holds water, I would change my mind.

    On the other hand, you have yet to do that.

  24. "And every time that a government has acted as you advocate (or private citizens for that matter) the assessment of them afterwards has been to condemn them for it. It is never a success."

    I would disagree with you on this. Again, the victors get to write the history so when for instance the American Colonies revolted against the British Empire and started shooting British Soldiers, they were viewed as patriots that helped establish a new nation. Similarly, most people outside of the South view it as a success that the US government waged a war against the Southern states that tried to leave the Union. This obviously involved the Government firing weapons that killed US Citizens, but again it is viewed as a big success.

    I am sure there are other examples of governments repeling uprisings or Revolutions toppling governments throughout all of history. And in each case, those on the winning side will view it as a success.

  25. Wrong again, Jim.

    The London riots and the riots in other parts of the UK were more similar to the Boston Massacre:

    At the time this was British soldiers firing on British citizens; please note two WERE CONVICTED of manslaughter, btw.

    Or similar, using a modern example

    You try to compare excessive violence in response to isolated civil unrest to the dissimilar example of the unconstitutional effort of an entire region to secede, and the rightful efforts of the nation to prevent it.

    And frankly, the south was also, collectively, pretty stupid to think they had a prayer of pulling off that insanity.

    The south was wrong in the 19th century; anyone who still believes that they were lawful is also wrong.

  26. Revisionist history seems to be having a frightening resurgence on the right:
    from the embarassment to MN, Michele Bachmann:
    "worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States,"
    (JQAdams was NOT a founding father)
    and her sources for revisionist history:
    "a 1997 biography of Robert E. Lee, by one J. Steven Wilkins.

    Wilkins is the leading proponent of the theory that the South was an orthodox Christian nation unjustly attacked by the godless North. ... In the book, Wilkins condemns "the radical abolitionists of New England" and writes that "most southerners strove to treat their slaves with respect and provide them with a sufficiency of goods for a comfortable, though—by modern standards—spare existence."

    African slaves brought to America, he argues, were essentially lucky: "Africa, like any other pagan country, was permeated by the cruelty and barbarism typical of unbelieving cultures." … Wilkins also approvingly cites Lee’s insistence that abolition could not come until "the sanctifying effects of Christianity” had time “to work in the black race and fit its people for freedom."

  27. "Lizza quotes from a Wilkins chapter on race relations:

    Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded upon racial animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men give themselves to a common cause. The credit for this startling reality must go to the Christian faith. . . The unity and companionship that existed between the races in the South prior to the war was the fruit of a common faith.

    For several years, the book, which Bachmann’s campaign declined to discuss with me, was listed on her Web site, under the heading "Michele’s Must Read List."

    Lets take a look at the factual history, not the right wing nut / religious right wing racist crap.

    James Ramsay, a doctor working for several sugar plantations in St Kitts, was shocked by the way the slaves were treated by the overseers. Ramsay later recalled in his book, Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of African Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies (1784): "The ordinary punishments of slaves, for the common crimes of neglect, absence from work, eating the sugar cane, theft, are cart whipping, beating with a stick, sometimes to the breaking of bones, the chain, an iron crook about the neck... a ring about the ankle, and confinement in the dungeon. There have been instances of slitting of ears, breaking of limbs, so as to make amputation necessary, beating out of eyes, and castration... In short, in the place of decency, sympathy, morality,and religion; slavery produces cruelty and oppression. It is true, that the unfeeling application of the ordinary punishments ruins the constitution, and shortens the life of many a poor wretch."

    The law provided slaves with virtually no protection from their masters. On large plantations this power was delegated to overseers. These men were under considerable pressure from the plantation owners to maximize profits. They did this by bullying the slaves into increasing productivity. The punishments used against slaves judged to be under-performing included the use of the whip. Sometimes slave-owners resorted to mutilating and branding their slaves.

    William Box Brown, a slave in Richmond, later wrote about an overseer on his tobacco plantation. "Stephen Bennett, who had a wooden leg; and who used to creep up behind the slaves to hear what they had to talk about in his absence; but his wooden leg generally betrayed him by coming into contact with something which would make a noise, and that would call the attention of the slaves to what he was about. He was a very mean man in all his ways, and was very much disliked by the slaves. He used to whip them, often, in a shameful manner. On one occasion I saw him take a slave, whose name was Pinkney, and make him take him off his shirt; he then tied his hands and gave him one hundred lashes on his bare back; and all this, because he lacked three pounds of his task, which was valued at six cents."

  28. Not everyone who 'wins' rewrites their history to something less factual. Only pretty much those who have a very embarrassing history, including repressive, abusive, excessive violence, like shooting unarmed rioters.

    I would call your attention to the link; it is the UK. The SAME UK which 'won' control / ownership.

    "The first English colony was established in 1623, followed by a French colony in 1625. The British and French briefly united to massacre the local Kalinago (preempting a Kalinago plan to massacre the Europeans), and then partitioned the island, with the English in the middle and the French on either end. In 1629 a Spanish force sent to clear the islands of the area of foreign settlement seized St. Kitts in 1629 but the English settlement was rebuilt following the peace between England and Spain in 1630.

    The island alternated repeatedly between English and French control during the 17th and 18th centuries, as one power took the whole island, only to have it switch hands due to treaties or further military action. It was in 1783 that the island became British for the final time.

    Doesn't look to me like the Brits are guilty of much revisionist history here; they are pretty straightforward about the actions of the day. Unlike Michele Bachmann and the other right wing nut religious racists.

    I don't like revisionist history, and sadly, I see it from the right over and over and over. Maybe that's why Jim is so convinced that the victors ALWAYS do that; perhaps he assumes because his fellow righties do, that everyone does it.

    Some do, some don't; some need to because they can't be honest with themselves or others.

    Then there are people like me, who are fact checking mavens, and who don't shy away from going to primary sources.

  29. Revisionist history is claiming that the War for American Independence was won by the colonists' militias.

    This neglects the Loyalists/Tories who believed that any independence should come through peaceful means.

    Due to the significant amount of loyalist sentiment, the War for Independence has been called the First American Civil War.

    Also, this neglects the significant contribution of European powers (most importantly France) to the cause of independence.

    In September 1775 the Continental Congress described foreign assistance as "undoubtedly attainable" and began to seek supplies and assistance from European powers hostile to Britain. The French leadership sought the "humiliation of England" and began giving covert aid to the rebels. The American declaration of independence was advocated by some as necessary in order to secure European support against Britain. The combined strength of the Americans and the French virtually guaranteed victory against Great Britain (See Simms, Brendan. Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire. Penguin Books, 2008, p.600-02).

    French involvement was one of the reasons Benedict Arnold quit the Indepence forces. The other reason being that he believed that the Colonies had achieved their goals. Arnolods change of sides presented a problem for the Americans since prior to that he was one of their most effective military leaders! Hence the Saratoga Battlefield's Boot Monument.

    I would add in the contributions of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben who is credited with being one of the fathers of the Continental Army in teaching them the essentials of military drills, tactics, and disciplines.

    Also, notice that the Mutinies by Continental troops are rarely mentioned as well as their tendency for going AWOL. The going AWOL was one of the drawbacks of the militia system which required universal service--After all, someone has to look after the farm.