• By Lt. Tim McMillan

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It.

On one side stands a man adorned in homemade armor. In his hand is a three-foot flag pole. His manner of dress makes him look as if he is about to audition for a low-budget gladiatorial game show. Blood slowly drips from his chin as he heaves back and forth trying to catch his breath.

Across from him stands a masked figured dressed completely in black. The physique of this person leads one to assume it is a man, however, only the edges of their pale skin near their eyes are visible through a crudely manufactured mask. They are holding something that resembles a small baseball bat. This person holds their arm and in their eyes, you can tell they are grimacing in pain.

Suddenly, the speakers of a PA roar to life as a booming voice can be heard saying, “This has been determined to be an unlawful assembly! Disperse now or be arrested!”

Moments later a hissing metal canister comes skidding across the pavement. A noxious gas comes pouring out of the device. Abruptly, your lungs begin to seize and burn. Your eyes feel as if someone has taken a cheese grater to them. You struggle to catch your breath while you run. Tears streaming down your face as you try to focus on where you’re going.

Welcome to the frontlines of society’s cultural battlefields… The year is 2017.

Let me ask you a serious question. How effective do you think many current groups are at achieving legitimate change or positive progression on the issues they are highlighting?

If anyone read the article I wrote and published earlier this week, “Our Satisfaction with Ugly Truths,” you would have seen the method in which I go about trying to identify a problem through “The Three Truths” process. Essentially, “The Three Truths” process examines the fact that we often only are willing to see a superficial truth and never discover the underlying truth that is the true causation of something.

Now, what I haven’t discussed yet is once you get to the truth of the truth, what’s next?

It may surprise some people to know that when it comes to actually strategizing how to solve problems, I transition to examining things from the vantage of a military campaign, in which my problem becomes my enemy. In fact, many of the principles I go by, come straight out of Sun Tzu’s famous text, ‘The Art of War’.

What most people never recognize, is that Sun Tzu’s Art of War can easily be considered the art of peace. Essentially, the entire fundamental concept of the art of war is to be effective in success, as quickly as possible, with the least amount of resistance or loss. In reality, the “art” of war is not having to fight the war at all.

Another good reason for examining problems from the standpoint of warfare is that when it comes matters that are dependent on life and death, individuals are willing to shed all biases and preconceived notions in order to do what is most successful to win.

Now, when it comes to warfare, the direction or method of engagement one takes is always dictated by the enemy. For example, you wouldn’t drop a 5 megaton nuclear bomb when all you needed to do was destroy one tank. Additionally, you would charge an M1 Abrahams tank with nothing but a sword. Instead, your approach is dictated by the enemy and what is the most appropriate manner to engage with the highest degree of success.

In order to be successful when it comes to warfare, you must try to position yourself so that it isn’t a fair fight. Instead, you want to try to ensure that you are always in a position of advantage over your enemy. If you are unable to be in a position that presents you with a high degree of advantage, you don’t engage an enemy if you can help it. This is the reason that the truth of truth, or understanding the true source of a problem is imperative.

What is important to note is that advantage doesn’t have to come from a physical source. Essentially, it is easy to see that if one engages a group of small arms combatants with an AH-64 Apache, the attack helicopter is clearly in the position of advantage. This is an example of physical superiority over an enemy.

However, what cannot be negated is the metaphysical sources of advantage that can come from emotion and desire to succeed.

One of the best examples of this can be seen with the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. When Cortes landed in Mexico in 1519, he had with him 600 Spanish troops, 16 horses, and 11 boats. What Cortes faced when he landed was a massive Aztec Empire with extensive territories under their control. Since 900 A.D. conquerors with far more resources at their disposal had attempted to colonize the Yucatan Peninsula. Yet none had ever had success. Now, Cortes was going to try to be successful in his attempt with only 600 Spanish troops. What did Cortes do?

He uttered 3 words… “Burn the boats.”

Cortes ordered all of the 11 ships the Spanish had sailed in on to be burned and destroyed. The conquistador gave his men only two choices… die, or be victorious.

The end result of Cortes’ bold move was that he became the first person in 600 years to successfully conquer Mexico.

Sun Tzu covers the concept of “Burn the boats” in his Art of War. It is eradicating any notion of retreat from the mind of the troops and forcing them to commit themselves to victory. Defeat isn’t even an option if you want to live. Fundamentally, what this does is thrust on one the significant emotion necessary in order to be successful.

When it comes to social and human rights issues in society, one isn’t fighting a war with violence. In fact, when it comes to highlighting social issues, violence ultimately is the most unsuccessful method to go about achieving success. Violence is only a successful means to any ends if you can employ it to the degree in which you can wreak death and destruction on an enemy to gain their surrender or complete eradication. Even then you must have a strategy for what comes next once the violence is over and you've won.

Employing violence when it comes to social issues is one of the most counterproductive things one can engage in. It allows your advisories to become the “good guys” and it sanctions them to employ violence against you. Additionally, it erodes any notions of you and your cause being the good guys. Essentially, you now become the enemy.

A good example of this can be seen in the group Antifa. Philosophically the group is problematic because their expressed intent is to stamp out fascism. However, they themselves, operate under a degree of fascists mentality. Basically, anyone who doesn’t agree to their set of views or beliefs is the “enemy.” This extends far beyond merely a disdain for Nazis and White Supremacist. In fact, Antifa is simply the anarchist group the Black Bloc under a new name. I mean that very literally, Antifa is to Black Bloc as KFC is to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

It is easy to romanticize the notion of fighting Nazis and suddenly try to compare Antifa to Patton’s 3rd Army during World War II. One slight problem is failing to recognize that the Allies weren’t fighting a social war in Nazi Germany. They were fighting a real war.

Unless Antifa is suddenly going to transition to fighting a real war against Nazism and engage in lethal combat maneuvers, they are by no means truly “fighting Nazis.” Of course, if they did turn lethal in their attacks, they themselves would be quickly eradicated by legal authorities. At the end of the day, the outcome is an eventual failure.

Now, this brings me to my actual topic of consideration for everyone, which is identifying fundamental problems and then examining the most advantageous way of going about solving.

I will throw out one specific example to consider.

Just recently, we have seen the protests in St. Louis over the not-guilty verdict in the case involving the death of Anthony Smith by Officer Jason Stockley. Now, I don’t even have to examine the intricacies of the case to determine whether or not Stockley was indeed guilty of murder, in order to say that arguing, protesting, or demanding justice and convictions of police officers, in fatal use of force incidents, is completely and utterly futile.

This may be a very hard pill for some people to swallow, but it is the truth of truth. The likelihood of a police officer being found guilty of murder barring some absolute egregious act is impossible. Why?

Well, the standard that police officers are judged by when they use force is the objective reasonableness standard established by the Supreme Court Case Graham v. Conner in 1989. It says that an officer is justified in using force provided that another reasonable and prudent officer would do that same thing given the same set of circumstances, WITHOUT the clarity of hindsight.

Essentially, when it comes to the criminal prosecution of a police officer, a jury of 12 people or a judge, NONE OF THE WHOM, ARE POLICE OFFICERS, are placed in the position of examining guilt based on the objective reasonableness standard. This is an impossibility.

Our criminal justice system requires one to be found guilty beyond the reason of doubt. Therefore, all one has to say is that another police officer would have done the same thing in the same situation and the only reason it doesn’t make sense to you, is because none of you set to render judgment are cops.

Can we legitimately say that given those circumstances one would truly be ethically examining the circumstances on the basis of the law, and then be capable of finding a cop guilty beyond a reason of a doubt?

This is why you rarely, if ever, see cops convicted for use of force incidents. Just look at the horrific case involving the death of Walter Scott in Charleston, South Carolina. There is virtually no clearer a case of murder one could see, then the Walter Scott case. However, the outcome in the state trial was still a hung jury. *Side note: Every now and then, you will see people who will still try to argue that Officer Slager was not guilty of committing murder in the death of Scott. I find this to be somewhat comical, given the fact that Slager actually pled guilty in Federal Court.

Now, we can sit around, bitch and moan or cry about the system that is in place. However, we mind as well be sitting on top of a hill facing a squadron of tanks with our swords.

Essentially, the objective reasonableness standard was upheld as recently as 2014 in Plumhoff v. Rickard, so if anyone truly thinks there is going to be a shift in the Supreme Courts stance anytime soon they are simply not thinking rationally.

Basically, the protests in St. Louis or any other similar events, are an absolute waste of time and energy. There is no positive outcome that can emerge from these occurrences. In fact, they will only result in more failure. As the reality of impossibility sets in for what it is that one is demanding, the frustration of powerlessness bubbles over to expressing violence and we see rioting, or events like in Dallas and Baton Rouge in 2015.

How’s all of that, or those events, worked out for improving the entire problem so far?

My point is protest and such are only valuable in highlighting an issue. So what now? Do we really need to fly a prop plane with a banner across the entire U.S. to make sure we get the issue further highlighted? Is there any question about what it is being protested?

So what now? Do we just continue to waste energy being counter-productive and ultimately lose any and all hope in positive outcomes?

The truth is assuming that you are going to suddenly see accountability for fatal police encounters is off the table. Scrap it… stop wasting your energy being upset or fighting for it. It’s a sword against a tank. Instead, one has to look at the truth of truth and begin the strategy for attacking the problem there.

Ultimately, the solution that offers the only viable method of attack is that one must examine the source of the problem and stop it before it occurs. This is something that is easier said than done for some people. Human beings are impatient creatures. We may be fighting for peace, however, we still expect that the solution we want will be immediate. In a way, it is no different than the crowd of people who always say, “Just nuke ‘em” whenever there is some issue that arises with a foreign antagonist of America.

In the example of accountability for fatal police encounters, one has to attack the source that presents the most advantageous outcome for success. In this case, it means working to prevent fatal encounters before they occur.

In order to prevent fatal police encounters before they occur, one must put their energy and efforts into supporting the endeavors focused on this specific area. Last November when I founded the non-profit program The Four Trees Project, it was founded on the principle of trying to help fix issues in policing at the source. Most importantly, it was to do so in a manner in which both the community and the police could benefit.

Ultimately, we came up with an operational plan for a program that was that was unprecedented to anything that had been attempted before. Naively I assumed this was going to be easier than I thought. The problem is that it is more difficult to seed a 501(c)3 non-profit than it is to start up a for-profit business. With a for-profit business, you can attract investors with an expectation of financial return. With a non-profit, you are asking for people to invest in your organization with an expectation of a return to society.

Essentially, much to my continued dismay, the public would rather bemoan about problems on social media, or march in the streets, than they wanted to try to financially support legitimate programs for change.

Remarkably, people will actually help support the funding of others marching or protesting. No, I’m not talking about crazed conspiracy theories involving George Soros. Rather, I’m referring to incidents like when over $1 million dollars was donated to support the “Veterans for Standing Rock” event. Now, I hate to point out the obvious, but that indeed ended in failure. This includes the actual veterans who showed up for the event never being reimbursed and the approved construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

To date, The Four Trees Project has worked in what little ways we can, however, we still have yet to receive the kind of support necessary to stand up an operation allowing it to engage in real work thus being eligible for future grant funding.

Now, I’m not here to complain about my own non-profit. At the end of the day, I don’t care who helps bring about positive progression, just so long as someone does it.

In order to affect true, lasting change, the source of problems must be attacked. In the issues the public has expressed about policing, that means advocating, supporting, and demanding genuine research that leads to training and new paradigms on how law enforcement can both ensure their safety, the public’s safety, and the safety of the people they deal with.

Additionally, this means lobbying and pushing for the technology sector to help solve some of these problems. Currently, we can fly an unmanned aerial drone 32,000 feet in the air and zoom in close enough to count the grains of TNT a person is putting in an improvised explosive. With that same drone, we can launch a missile and have it land directly into the anal cavity of the bad guy.

Now, if we have that much dedication in developing technology to kill people, can we not also give it a good college try at coming up with methods of saving people?

The truth is we absolutely can if we demand people put their minds to it.

In order to have true success, we must determine and accept what are the true sources of the problems. Then, like Cortes, we have to burn our boats and put forth the emotional investment by saying that failure is not an option. We cannot be discouraged because we won’t “conquer” this problem in the timely fashion our impatient minds wish we could. In fact, when we get impatient we have to stay steadfast in our emotional resolve to be successful.

The moment we have a disconnection between emotions and what it takes to be successful is the moment we run off to charge a tank with a bunch of swords. It might make you feel better to hammer away at that tough armored shell of the tank with your blade. However, it really isn’t doing anything at all, except chipping some paint away. Then of course just as soon as that gun turret swings around… well, that’s the end of that.

When it comes to other issues and not just those involving law enforcement, the process is still the same. We have to identify the true problem or truth of the truth. Then depending on what it is, we may indeed need to protest or draw attention to that source. However, after attention is gained, we must then rally the troops and decide how to attack the source of the problem.

In conclusion, there are two types of people in this world. People who say, “Somebody needs to do something” and people who say, “I am going to do something!” If enough people actually say, “I’m going to do something,” and put forth the emotional investment necessary to be successful.

Truthfully, if none of us are willing to do that, do any of us have any right to sit back and complain? It really isn’t that difficult to see society be successful. It honestly only takes enough people willing to see society succeed and then support success.

Tim McMillan is a retired police lieutenant and investigative intelligence analyst; and holds BA's in mathematics and cognitive psychology. Primarily, focusing on the Defense and Intelligence Communities, he now uses his unique background, coupled with a willingness to examine any mystery, to deliver groundbreaking investigative reporting. Tim is a contributor for The War Zone, Vice, and Popular Mechanics

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© Lieutenant Tim McMillan All Rights Reserved by The Raziel Group LLC