Over the last six months, claims of a tie between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime have centered around an infamous Jordanian national named Ahmed al-Khalayeh, who operates under the nom de guerre of Abu Musab Zarqawi. Yet some European and even American intelligence sources question the designation of him as an al-Qaeda operative, instead citing Zarqawi as the leader of an independent terrorist organization called al-Tawhid. The issue of Zarqawi's affiliation is a crucial one, as it goes to the heart of the recent debate over whether or not the Bush administration fabricated a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime in order to justify its case for war.
This analysis will endeavor to show readers who Zarqawi is, what he's been up to, and his critical importance to the post-Afghanistan al-Qaeda network....
To begin with, after 9/11 Zarqawi was not listed as one of al-Qaeda's top leaders unlike such notables as Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, or Mohammed Atef. Indeed, after reading several books devoted to the organization, only one, Rohan Gunaratna's Inside Al-Qaeda contains even a mention of Zarqawi in a list of half a dozen other senior operations chiefs still at large.
As a result of his relative anonymity, it would have been easy to overlook Zarqawi's terrorist activities prior to 9/11. He first appeared on the intelligence radar as an al-Qaeda leader during the Millennium Plot, in which he has been named in absentia as a conspirator under his real name. In the aftermath of the plot, he traveled to Afghanistan and assumed command of an al-Qaeda training camps near the Afghan city of Herat which oversaw the training and indoctrination of both Jordanian and Palestinian recruits for the organization. While al-Qaeda maintained numerous training camps in Afghanistan, Zarqawi's presence at the camps near Herat is particularly concerning because this is exactly where the group was said to have established a nuclear laboratory focused on creating a radiological dispersal weapon during the late 1990s.
During Operation Enduring Freedom, Zarqawi fled to Iran with other top al-Qaeda leaders, where he was harbored by members of the IRGC. From Iran, he oversaw the operation of an al-Qaeda affiliate organization called al-Tawhid, an al-Qaeda affiliate that has a Eurasian reach extending into Germany, Karachaevo-Cherkessia (a Russian autonomous republic that borders Georgia), Jordan, Syria, and the Palestinian expatriate community.
Zarqawi left Iran in May 2002 for Iraq and while the Newsweek article cited above statements that he was expelled, Michael Ledeen attributes a far more sinister motivation behind the actions of the Iranians, citing a ferrying of al-Qaeda operatives in Iranian to Hezbollah's Bekaa Valley or Ein al-Hilweh. The ample evidence of al-Qaeda fighters arriving in Lebanon, in my opinion, would seem to support Ledeen's view in this regard.
While in Iraq, Zarqawi evidently ordered the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman. It is interesting to note that one of the two killers working for Zarqawi was a known Libyan extremists, as this could indicate a tie between Zarqawi and al-Jamaa al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi Libya, al-Qaeda's Libyan affiliate - yet another sign of just how high up he is within the organization. US Secretary of State Collin Powell summarized Zarqawi's activities in Iraq during his February 2003 speech to the United Nations. Zarqawi's deputy Moammar Ahmad Yussef, evidently oversaw the killing from Syria but was subsequently detained either in Syria or Turkey, thereby providing the US with critical information regarding al-Qaeda's ties with the Iraqi regime.
In any event, Zarqawi evidently did a lot of traveling, going from Iran to Baghdad to northern Iraq to Lebanon to Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, where he appears to have laid the groundwork for al-Qaeda's thwarted chemical weapons plots in Europe between December 2002 and February 2003. These attacks, which appear to have been primarily orchestrated by the organization's robust Algerian expatriate wing that I noted in a previous special analysis. For the purposes of the plots in Europe, Zarqawi apparently worked closely with Abu Khabab, the head of al-Qaeda's WMD program, which was on the verge of chemical and biological arms production. Other Zarqawi associates identified by US intelligence include Abu Taisir, Abu Ashraf, Abu Atiya, and Abu Hafs, all of whom are still at large.
The attacks in Europe, had they succeeded, would have likely killed hundreds of European civilians and my own personal inclination is that they constituted an attempt by the organization to carry out mass casualty attacks in Europe in order to deter US military actions with Iraq, further radicalize Muslim expatriate populations in Europe, and possibly convince the European governments that interference in al-Qaeda's activities in the Middle East was not worth the lives of their citizens. And according to the State Department's 2002 Report on Global Terrorism, Zarqawi also sought to attack US and Russian targets as well.
At some point before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, Zarqawi fled to Iran, where he remains to this day. Most recently, he ordered the attack on Jewish and Spanish targets in Morocco.
The bottom line is that Zarqawi is clearly a rising star within the al-Qaeda hierarchy and has planned mass casualty terrorist attacks on three continents. So long as he continues to operate freely he will continue to target Western, Jewish, and moderate Arab governments. Claims that he only maintains a peripheral relationship with al-Qaeda, such as those made by an anonymous source in this Washington Post story simply do not square with the information available to the public, which demonstrate a robust relationship between Zarqawi and the global al-Qaeda network.
I have touched on the Democrat's political problems with the War on Terrorism here, here and here. That meme now seems to be gaining traction, as this article "The Democrats' Dilemma" by Clifford May echoes the theme. Do they want to fight terrorists - or only Republicans?
"Democrats face a dilemma: The war on terrorism has restored national security as a priority issue just as a new presidential-election campaign is beginning to take shape.
That's a problem because Democrats have long been perceived by voters as less competent than Republicans when it comes to national security. For nearly a quarter century, from Lyndon Johnson's retirement in the midst of the Vietnam War in 1969 to Bill Clinton's election in 1992 soon after the conclusion of the Cold War, Republicans continually occupied the Oval Office — with only one, brief interlude."
"So now, Democrats have a choice: (1) Restore their party's credibility on matters of war and peace, or (2) bet that another scandal will get voters angry enough to again throw the Republican rascals out of the White House....It's worth reading the whole article, which goes into more depth than these quotes. I consider this another confirming datum on the political curve towards a big Bush/Republican win in 2004. While nothing is certain in politics, and I can still be very, very, wrong, I don't think I will be.
The Democrats have a dilemma. Donna Brazile, Tim Bergreen, and other sober-minded Democrats have a way out, a way that will make it harder for Republicans to win elections but easier for Americans to become more secure in an era of great peril. By contrast, Howard Dean and his friends are digging a hole that it could take Democrats a generation to get out of."
Damian Penny points us to a profile of Pete Best, "the 5th Beatle." He was the original Beatles drummer, replaced in callous fashion by Ringo Starr just before the group made its first official recordings. Saturday Night Live did a hilarious skit once on the despair-inducing potential of this fate, but Pete seems to have come through OK in the end.
A very human portrait that speaks to the challenges of our lives, frustration, the nature of human teams & partnerships, and the meaning of success.
Here are a few items from the science technology front, where good news is being created and/or commercialized daily. Coverage today includes biotech, nanotechnology, and various Internet-related developments.
Speaking of tech good news, gotta love our new "instant post expander" from Proud Canadian Geek. Give it a try here, and let Joe know (@windsofchange.net) if tyou have any problems.
As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully"). Every Saturday, therefore, we spend some time with the Sufis' "crazy wisdom."
Today's poem comes from Abu Sa'id ibn Ab'il Khair (967 - 1049) who referred to himself as "nobody, son of nobody" to express his journey toward self-anihilation in divine love. A couple centuries later, the great Sufi poet Rumi would also follow this path. Ab'il Khair:
"Suppose you can recite a thousand holyI must admit, some recent shennanigans in the blogosphere sparked this week's choice. Exercise for the reader: consider Ab'il Khair's poem in the context of personal experiences you've had or seen, remembering that "1,000 holy verses" is simply a cultural placeholder. If you wish to share those thoughts, we'd love to hear them in the Comments section.
verses from memory.
What are you going to do
with your ego self, the true
mark of the heretic?
Every time your head touches
the ground in prayers, remember,
this was to teach you to
put down that load of ego
which bars you from entering
the chamber of the Beloved.
To your mind feed understanding,
to your heart, tolerance and compassion.
The simpler your life, the more meaningful.
The less you desire of the world,
the more room you will have in it
to fill with the Beloved.
The best use of your tongue
is to repeat the Beloved's Name in devotion.
The best prayers are those in
the solitude of the night.
The shortest way to the Friend
is through selfless service and
generosity to His creatures.
Those with no sense of honor and dignity are best avoided.
Those who change colors constantly
are best forgotten.
The best way to be with those
bereft of the Beloved's qualities,
is to forget them in the
joy of silence in one's corner of solitude."
An incident at work is enough to make Courtney say "I'm never getting married" (that noise you hear is the sound of hundreds of male hearts breaking). Being caught in the middle like that is definitely tough. It can also be one of those not-uncommon situations that people look back on later as a test that helped shape their character in a number of ways.
The commenters on her blog - including Mom! - have written in with some wise advice. I've emailed mine, which included the need to put her situation and future intentions in a printed memo to an appropriate superior. Not only does it cover Courtney in case Ticking Ms. Cheat decides to play "Misery" in retaliation for her non-cooperation, it also lets them prepare for the possibility of Hubby deciding one day that "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and paying the workplace a visit. Wouldn't be the first time ever.
Any other thoughts on this one from our peanut gallery? As for marriage, Caerdroia's Jeff Medcalf had the best response in Courtney's comments section:
"It's not the institution; it's the inmates."
The Parapundit and I have argued in the discussion sections here on Winds and over on his site about the likelihood of a new, policy changing, public debate on immigration starting in the USA. I think one is coming, one that will cause mass immigration to be arrested for a generation the way it happened from 1920 through 1960 and Randall Parker does not.
It looks like I'm about to be proven right as Victor David Hanson new book titled "Mexifornia: A State of Becoming" seems to be starting that debate in both the blogosphere and the Republican base in time for the next Presidential election. The latter is the important part given that Victor David Hanson made the Republican Base A-List with a Rush Limbaugh interview.
I saw this article in National Review and I was particularly taken by this passage:
And if one wishes to find real anti-Americanism, there is no need to go to Brussels or Damascus. Simply peruse the Mexico City newspapers, read what Mr. Fox says to non-Americans, or listen carefully to la Raza (a blatantly racist term analogous to the old German concept of a pure Volk) dogma in the southwest. Papers in Mexico often mirror those in the Arab world — blaming the United States for Mexico City's own failure to address self-created pathologies. If we truly wished to help Mexico and its people, then we would not be complicit in the present corrupt status quo by allowing its ruling families to export millions of potential dissidents and would-be reformers.
It is not a moral thing for either Mexico or us to barter in human capital, as we accept tens of thousands of poor economic refugees who work at menial jobs that we say we cannot do. Both the race industry on the left and the corporate right must accept that they are on the wrong side of history, and it is time to return to the sanity of measured, documented, and legal immigration — jettisoning the charade of consular IDs, billions lost in unfunded entitlements, and everything from driver's licenses to in-state tuition discounts for those who are here illegally. Rwanda, the Balkans, and separatist Muslim communities in southern France should remind us all of the wages of ethnic separatism, chauvinism, illegal immigration, and the creation of a second-class citizenry relegated to menial work.
Thousands of influential Americans in Washington and New York, revolving in and out of government on a perpetual basis, at home, on the networks, and in newspapers, will resist all such reappraisals tooth and nail. It is not just that their foundations receive money from a variety of foreign and domestic special interests, or that they enjoy flying to Brussels, or being courted in Georgetown by diplomats — or liked being liked.
It is less dramatic than all that. Instead, a change to a new muscular autonomy for conventional policymakers simply represents an entire paradigm shift, an acceptance that their world has been turned upside down after September 11.
You see, their old way of doing business is now both old and in the way.
VDH has a way with words that is as direct and to the point as a Greek Hopilite spear. More importantly that spear is being used to puncture a politically correct barrier to wider debate on the pluses and minuses of immigration
Hanson's clear and uncluttered observations of the cultural and economic impact of unrestricted illegal immigration in California echos with any American who has lived in or visited the border areas of the American South West:
I used to worry over the theft of a tractor battery. Yet in the last decade, I have run off at gunpoint three gang members trying to force their way into our house at 3 am. Last year, four patrol cars—accompanied by a helicopter whirling overhead—chased drug dealers in hot pursuit through our driveway. One suspect escaped and turned up two hours later hiding behind a hedge on our lawn, vainly seeking sanctuary from a sure prison term. When a carload of thieves tried to steal oranges from our yard, I soon found myself outmanned and outgunned—and decided that 100 pounds of pilfered fruit is not worth your life.
It is a schizophrenic existence, living at illegal immigration’s intersection. Each week I pick up trash, dirty diapers, even sofas and old beds dumped in our orchard by illegal aliens—only to call a Mexican-American sheriff who empathizes when I show him the evidence of Spanish names and addresses on bills and letters scattered among the trash. So far I have caught more than 15 illegal dumpers, all Mexican, in the act. In the last 20 years, four cars piloted by intoxicated illegal aliens have veered off the road into our vineyard, causing thousands of dollars in unrecompensed damage. The drivers simply limped away and disappeared. The police sighed, “No license, no insurance, no registration” (“the three noes”), and towed out their cars.
Yet I also walk through vineyards at 7 AM in the fog and see whole families from Mexico, hard at work in the cold—while the native-born unemployed of all races will not—and cannot—prune a single vine. By natural selection, we are getting some of the most intelligent and industrious people in the world, people who have the courage to cross the border, the tenacity to stay—and, if not assimilated, the potential to cost the state far, far more than they can contribute.
Hanson's powers of observation are not limited to his life in California. What he says about the academic race hustlers also ring the truth like the sound of sword banging on a hopilite shield:
Our schools, through multiculturalism, cultural relativism, and a therapeutic curriculum, often promote the very tribalism, statism, and group rather than individual interests that our new immigrants are fleeing from. If taken to heart, such ideas lead our new arrivals to abject failure in California. Moreover, if we were to entertain attitudes toward women that exist in Mexico, emulate its approach to religious diversity, copy the Mexican constitution, court system, schools, universities, tax code, bureaucracy, energy industry, or power grid, then millions of Mexicans quite simply would stay put where they are. Indeed, even the most pro-Mexico Mexican native in America never chooses to forgo the Western emergency room for the herbalist and exorcist in times of acute sickness or gunshot trauma. He does not complain that the American middle class is too large, the water too clean, the gasoline not adulterated, the food too abundant and noninfectious. Nor does he lament the absence of uniformed machine-gun-carrying soldiers on his block. Illegal aliens clamor for reduced tuition for their offspring at supposedly biased UC campuses, not native fellowships for them to enroll in Mexican universities. I often suggest to teachers who tell aliens that our culture is racist, exploitative, and sexist that they should live in Mexico themselves to fathom why millions are dying to obtain what they so casually dismiss.
The sheer numbers of new immigrants presented a golden opportunity for the demagogue. And sure enough, at times of racial tension, you can see brazen agitators on the street with bullhorns and picket signs. Some are organized by MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan)—one of whose mottoes once was: “For our race, everything; for those outside our race, nothing.” Sometimes the provocateur shows up at a local school, after a Chicano gang has kicked to near death a (Mexican-American) school guard and consequently been expelled. With megaphone—and with the six o’clock news cameras rolling—he screams about “targeting La Raza” and “keeping the brown down.” “There is only one gang who murders in Fresno,” he announces at his poorly attended press conference, “and they wear police blue.”
The brawling provocateur is as old as America itself, and today’s California demagogue harks back to the urban ward bosses of old. More than a century too late, he shares their nineteenth-century vision of enormous ethnic blocs, entirely unassimilated, with tough ramrods like himself at their head—but with the added advantage that his Mexican immigrant constituency in the new age of multiculturalism might be permanent rather than destined to assimilate. His chief fear, I think, is that immigration may slow down; that millions may read and write excellent English; that his brother or sister—or he himself—may marry the white or Asian other; that a Mexican middle class might emerge in private enterprise outside of government entitlement and civil service; that the Mexican propensity for duty, family, and self-sacrifice might yet make him obsolete; that we all might integrate and forget about race; that he will not be needed and thus not have to be bargained off.
Other opportunists—for some reason, more often Spanish than native American—are the products of Chicano, Latino, La Raza (“The Race”), or Hispanic studies programs at universities. (Could we ever tolerate any other university program or national organization dubbed “The Race”?) They are the well-meaning Latino elites who have suddenly reverted from Alex to Alejandro and have never met an “r” they won’t trill. These self-appointed leaders are professed tribalists—who do not wish to live within the tribe. They may make speeches and films about gang violence and teen pregnancy, but they never really tell us why these endemic problems came into being and how they can be prevented. They leave cause and effect unspoken, allege racism and victimization, not a failure to learn English and accept a common culture—and then they go home in SUVs to upscale suburban homes well apart from the unassimilated barrios they claim to represent.
It is such clear and powerful truth telling that matches what people experience in their daily lives. It will be told around the the traditional information gate keepers of the Big Media, Big Business and Academia through the Internet Samizdatz (AKA the blogosphere, and sites like Lucciane.com and FreeRepublic.com) on through talk radio and the big alternate media sources like the WASHINGTON TIMES and the WALL STREET JOURNAL OPINION PAGE.
This in turn will hit the sensative political antenna of Karl Rove. I don't see Rove advising Bush against the powers of the plutocrats of the left and right in an election year, but events and the American people's slowly building consensus are controlling here, not the interests of the powerful.
"Mexifornia" is like a crystal cast upon a supersaturated solution. It will crystalize a large, well connected, and politically active group of people's views on illegal immigration against the elite's current interests.
And in America, that is how the world changes.
A year ago withdrawl from South Korea seemed impossible and unthinkable. Today it seems inevitable. The future holds a similar fate for illegal immigration as we know it.
JK: See also an earlier VDH article on this very subject, referenced here in "It's No Fun Being An Illegal Alien."
Two really good columns in the NY Times today.
Nicholas Kristof - not exactly at the front lines of the 'Democracy in Iraq' movement - speaks out with honest ambiguity about what the invasion has brought. With a photo that isn't for the squeamish, he confronts his own opposition to the war.
Since I've been accusing the Bush administration of cooking the intelligence on Iraq, I should confess my intentions. Countless Iraqis warned me that they would turn to guerrilla warfare if U.S. troops overstay their welcome, so I thought I'd find an Iraqi who had had his tongue or ear amputated by Saddam's thugs and still raged about the U.S. That would powerfully convey what a snake pit we're in.
So I began asking for people with missing tongues or ears. I got a tip about a man in Basra who had had his tongue amputated for criticizing Saddam. He had moved away, but I found a friend of his, Abdel Karim Hassan.No matter what side you are on, you have to confront the complexity of this situation and be willing to look at the facts. That's not an excuse for passivity, though...
"A thousand thanks to Bush!" he told me. "A thousand thanks to Bush's mother for giving birth to him!"
Hmmm. I hadn't expected a tribute to the Mother of all Bushes.
Then I heard about Mathem Abid Ali and tracked him down in the southern city of Nasiriya. I've posted a photo of him on nytimes.com.kristofresponds (parental guidance is suggested). Mr. Abid Ali deserted the Iraqi Army, was caught, taken to a hospital and given general anesthesia ... and woke up with no right ear.
"Children looked at me, and turned away in horror," Mr. Abid Ali said bitterly.
So I asked Mr. Abid Ali what he thought of the Americans.
He thought for a moment and said: "I'd like to make a statue in gold of President Bush."
So, facts got in the way of my plans for this column. But sometimes that's a good thing. I do think it's important for doves like myself to encounter Saddam's victims like Mr. Abid Ali and their joy at being freed. Iraq today is a mess, but it's a complex, deeply nuanced mess, etched in shades of gray.
Krugman has a slightly hysterical column about the plumbing behind modern party politics, and the unassailable fact that one side seems to have more experience with plumbers than the other.
Now I tend to think it's a little more complex and deeply nuanced than that - I think the democrats can't use this issue as effectively as they should because they have their pants just as far down around their ankles as the GOP does.
...describing the weekly meetings in which Senator Rick Santorum vets the hiring decisions of major lobbyists. These meetings are the culmination of Grover Norquist's "K Street Project," which places Republican activists in high-level corporate and industry lobbyist jobs ... and excludes Democrats. According to yesterday's Washington Post, a Republican National Committee official recently boasted that "33 of 36 top-level Washington positions he is monitoring went to Republicans."
Of course, interest groups want to curry favor with the party that controls Congress and the White House; but as The Washington Post explains, Mr. Santorum's colleagues have also used "intimidation and private threats" to bully lobbyists who try to maintain good relations with both parties. "If you want to play in our revolution," Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, once declared, "you have to live by our rules."
Lobbying jobs are a major source of patronage ... a reward for the loyal. More important, however, many lobbyists now owe their primary loyalty to the party, rather than to the industries they represent. So corporate cash, once split more or less evenly between the parties, increasingly flows in only one direction.
And corporations themselves are also increasingly part of the party machine. They are rewarded with policies that increase their profits: deregulation, privatization of government services, elimination of environmental rules. In return, like G.M. and Verizon, they use their influence to support the ruling party's agenda.
But if you want to know how we're governed - and why government increasingly lurches from crisis to crisis, read this column and the LA Times' great two - part series on the amazing correlation between lobbying success and hiring the children and wives of powerful legislators.
An Orthodox Jewish Rabbi wrote this series so that his essays retain their value no matter what creed you follow. Think of it as a gentle way of sharing a community's millennia-long history of accumulated wisdom. As Friday night approaches, we turn our attention away from the world and toward these kinds of issues.
Installment #22 is about frustration. Tony Robbins once noted that if your life isn't as successful as you wish, it may be because you don't have enough frustration in it. Sounds counterintuitive, but he made a good case and so does Rabbi Weinberg. The key, of course, is dealing with it the right way.
My current frustration: having seen the hilarious "Gay Bar" Blair/Bush music video parody, I can't get the song out of my head....
The winds of change are not always obvious. Analysts at the RAND Corporation lay out 10 international-security developments that aren't getting the attention they deserve in this month's issue of The Atlantic magazine:
I thought it deserved a response, and hoped his permalinks would work again. Alas, he remains a Blogspot.com captive, so it's worth highlighting and revisiting that discussion the long way. Since Gary's permalinks for that week are completely shot, I'm going to have to reproduce his words here...
"I've written a lot about this. And I have a very simple take. Perhaps it's too simplistic, but there it is.I'm going to start by saying yes, this sounds juvenile. Thing is, I know Gary isn't that way. I think he's expressing the fundamental moral impulse animating his concern, and on that level this is fine. Of course, as Gary himself notes, it's necessary to go beyond this beginning.
Substitute the word "Jews" for "Lendu" or "Hema."
Then say, gee, gosh, it would cost a lot to save them. Tough luck if millions die, because it's expensive, it's awkward, it's tough, to save them.
Bye, bye, Jews. Too bad. It's expensive to save them. It's expensive to save you black people, you Hema, you Lendu. It's tough to keep track of your names, even. Even your clan, your tribe, your people.
Bye-bye. Die in peace. Die by the thousands. Die by the tens of thousands. Die by the hundreds of thousands. Die by the millions. I have fast food. Bye-bye. I don't need to go to trouble. Bye-bye. Die well. Bye-bye. My conscience is untroubled. I could have saved you for a few days of work, but I don't want to be troubled. Bye-bye. Bye-bye.
I can't be bothered to take a few minutes or hours to help stop it.
Bye-bye. Die well. Die."
Indeed it is. However horrible the situation, thinking must not end at that point. Not if you actually wants to save anyone, and craft a policy your fellow citizens will support.
For there are always practical considerations. Saving the Jews was more than hard - it took the whole Second World War, fought for other reasons, to do it. It was not "a few hours or minutes," it was a major commitment. Just as Iraq is. Just as Congo would be. For many, it would be ALL their hours and minutes. Let's not forget that, or trivialize what's involved.
I'll also note that even WWII largely failed as a vehicle for saving the Jews, and would have largely failed even if the allies had made that reason a focus of their war aims, bombed the camps, etc. Europe's Jews were in the wrong place, at the wrong time, unarmed and facing real human evil. "Die well" was indeed the order of the day for many.
As it is for many people in Africa, and will be whatever we decide.
I was very impressed by the people in my Congo thread, many of whom posted well thought-out options and noted important constraints. There are indeed limits to America's capabilities, and short of wartime mobilization it has reached them and more. There are also limits for any international force to take into account, which is why Jay's idea of safe zones with strong perimeter defenses is a useful contribution if conducted seriously rather than as Srebrenica II.
Outside those safer zones, and in other places like the Sudan, tens of thousands and more will die. We can't be everywhere. We should be in some of these places. Practical considerations, cold-blooded capabilities analysis, and confidence in the long-term plan forward (or belief that survival offers no alternative) will determine both where we choose to be. They will also determine how much can and will be done to bring down those casualty numbers. If you're interested, Michael Totten's comments on the recent Robert Kaplan interview "The Hard Edge of American Values" are very much on point in terms of the broader goals America might consider pursuing. If one follows the link, Kaplan himself also has some good nuts and bolts advice.
Sometimes, however, the depressing answer to how much we can do is: "not much" -- or "not much, unless we're prepared to jettison many of our existing beliefs." In which case, tragedy may be all that's left. Sometimes, in a fallen world where human evil is real, the only legacy for the future is a cautionary tale.
I agree with everything Armed Liberal just said in "Not Gonna Take It". I've also come out with guns a-blazin' at the RIAA before, and still see them as an out-of-control entity that poses a real threat to the public domain and to liberty generally. Meanwhile, this grimly funny expose sums things up nicely.
That said, one must also consider a 3rd party: the artists' perspective. Photodude's "Guinea Pigs in a Doomed Experiment" is a must-read in that department, as is the estimable Dr. Frank's concurrence: "Ben Weasel Speaks for Me".
It is possible, and acceptable, to fight dangerous strategies like the RIAA's without having an immediate solution. Like the Hippocratic Oath, in the absence of a major social threat one must first do no harm - and the plans of the 'copyright cartels' fail that test badly. Eventually, however, victory will require real solutions. Read our writings here, and read Photodude. Then think it through - and join the debate.
In my morning paper some more annoying news (note that the LA Times website requires equally annoying registration - 'laexaminer'/'laexaminer' works - and gives you an amazing number of popover and popunder ads. Give it a break, guys...I hardly use the site any more because of them):
Labels Will See Music File Sharers in CourtAnd in July, I'll stop buying new CD's from the majors. I understand the cat-and-mouse they are playing with the file swapping services, and that until they figure out how to make the new models work, there is going to be a certain amount of pain. But their unbelievably heavy-handed approach - in which they use the cost of litigation itself against individuals who may or may not be knowingly violating the law - is one which I won't support with my dollars. I just don't want to play with people who play like this.
Unable to stamp out Internet music piracy through education or threats, the record labels on Wednesday said they will start suing thousands of people who share songs online.
The Recording Industry Assn. of America announced that it plans to spend the next month identifying targets among the estimated 57 million people using file-sharing networks in the United States, focusing on those offering a "significant" amount of songs for others to copy.
Then, in August, RIAA will file its first lawsuits, President Cary Sherman said.
I own about 1,000 CD's, and have a 3 - 4 disc a month habit. I'll be shopping for used discs or discs sold directly by the artists for the forseeable future, and I'll be sending Cary Sherman a message to that effect (by snail mail, since the RIAA doesn't have any way to contact them on their website).
UPDATE: Joe shares some thoughts on the artists' perspective.
I agree with Oxblog, this unauthorized music video of Electric Six's disco-speedmetal lyrics dubbed into a Bush/Blair press conference is a must-see. The scenes where they appear to gaze longingly at each other are absolutely side-splitting. As an addtional dose of irony, Electric 6 actually pulled this single in April 2003 "because of the situation in Iraq".
P.S. Spread the hilarity - but be work-safe! Email your friends a Direct Link to this article, rather than a gaybetamax.com URL.
UPDATE: gaybetamax.co.uk does not seem to be functioning any more, and so access to the video is cut off.... but here's the video's new location (8.5 MB QuickTime version) as of July 2004!
JUNE 26/03: Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news, and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis.
By Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis
There seem to be a number of Iraqi guerrilla organizations (or people who want us to think that they are) active in the Sunni areas of the country. In addition to the Kiada al-Makauma ve al-Tahrir al-Iraqiyyah that I've noted before, the others groups that claim to oppose the US presence in Iraq are the National Front for the Liberation of Iraq, whatever is left of the Iraqi Baathist Party, Hezbollah, as well as the National Front of Fedayeen and the Iraqi Resistance Brigades. It also appears that Ansar al-Islam is returning from Iran, where it has apparently been regrouping with the assistance of the Iranian government.
Stephen Schwartz notes that the International Islamic Relief Organization, the same Saudi "charity" that funds al-Qaeda, has recently been up to no good in Fallujah, the site of numerous attacks on US forces. Because of al-Qaeda's connections with both Ansar and Kiada (and through Kiada with whatever is left of the Iraqi Baathist Party), one shouldn't rule out the possibility of these repeated attacks being coordinated in some fashion.
Finally, one should note that many of these organizations have little if any proof to even substantiate their existence. As John Reilly noted in his review of Black Sun, organizations that seem ominously powerful online can often turn out to have no more than a few dozen members.
"Your blog could disappear tomorrow and within a week everyone will have forgotten about it..."Admit it. She's right.
I'm not talking about a morality that appears when you mix two components; I'm talking about a morality that can only exist in one of two states: "bad" and "good".
I'd been thinking about a kind of 'Gresham's Law' of morality, in which weaker moral judgments make it increasingly impossible to make strong ones, when I read Orson Scott Card's column referenced below.
What I'd been thinking about is a kind of moral refinement in which any bad thing is so bad that it immediately becomes the equal of the worst thing....
A good example is the column on immigration referenced by Dean Esmay. His comment sums up the issue perfectly: "Apparently, bureaucratic hassles = police state." It's the same process that leads us to the foolish trope that "Ashcroft's treatment of Muslim immigrants=Kristallnacht."
No it doesn't.
No one who knows anything about history can begin to claim that they are equivalent events. When challenged, the response is that morally, they are the equivalent - that it is just as bad to interview (and often intimidate) people, and occasionally to incarcerate them - typically with some cause, sometimes without - is the equivalent of sending the brownshirts through Dearborn, destroying, looting, and beating. I'm not a fan of most of the domestic security steps that have been taken, so don't take this that way. But you can argue against them without this kind of nonsensical exaggeration.
It's fundamentally a way of taking morality out of the equation; since I can find some stain on everyone, it must be true that they are all equivalent - that bombing a Passover seder full of Israelis is the same as bombing an apartment building housing a leader of Hamas. So it's a matter of picking a team; kind of like choosing the NASCAR driver you are going to root for. You can't judge, because you've given up any criteria on which to judge.
I choose this example (bombing that killed Salah Shehada) carefully, because to me it is the closest kind of call we have to make. Innocents die on both sides, and to me both are impossibly tragic. Yet to me, they are as clearly distinct - morally - as noon and midnight.
Adulthood is about being confronted with tough moral choices...between varying shades of grey. Children can throw their hands up and say "it's all bad"; when I hear that from an adult, it makes me quite dismissive of that person's judgments. Because yes, it is all bad, it is all good, there are no clear bright lines we can use to sort the saints from the sinners.
But if you're willing to look hard, to get your hands dirty, to act like Hoderer and say: "Do you think one can govern innocently? Purity is a matter for monks, clerics, not for politicians. My hands are dirty to the elbows. I have shoved them in filth and blood," (in Sartre’s ‘Dirty Hands’) you can act in the world, and in turn ultimately stand to be judged on your actions.
Morality is not a binary function, and cannot be reduced to one. People who say it can be are selling something.
--- UPDATES ---
Vodkapundit is right. William Gibson's "The Road to Oceania" is today's required reading.
These Regional Briefings run every Tuesday & Wednesday, and sometimes Fridays as well when we have additional material. This briefing covers the "Middle East Roadmap," which means a focus on the conflict between the Arabs & Israel.
Topics include: The financial dimension and importance of the middle class (new material added); Photodude's reality principle; a history of truces with Hamas; Arafat's ties to fundamentalism; terrorist attack statistics; the real weakness of the "Palestinian Authority"; Bush's rhetoric vs. his actions; why international monitors are a non-starter; Condi Rice, Lady of Steel; and Ghaddafi's growing role....
Donald Sensing has posted a significantly expanded version of his paper, The Soil of Arab Terrorism, online. It's a long version of the presentation he made yesterday to the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
To which I would add, an important part of the "soil" that nurtures it also lies in what Orson Scott Card refers to as "Moral Stupidity" in the West. He certainly makes a persuasive case.
Dean Esmay, whose Blogspot Jihad has liberated over 50 bloggers from Blogspot prison, also deserves thanks for upgrading Winds of Change.NET to MT 2.64 along the way. Thanks again, Dean!
You might also want to visit, as Dean runs a very fine blog. See esp. his recent story from a Cuban-American father: "Skipping Stones"
Well, I started out with an article on the contracting out of military logistics and it morphed into a fisking part-way through, so bear with me.
I saw this NY TIMES Magazine article titled "Nation Builders for Hire" by Dan Baum. It talked a bit about Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), subsidiary of the oil-services giant Halliburton, and its role in the contracting out of military logistics. It has a few nuggets of good information about contracting out, but it also has a great deal of Rainesian style leftist spin. The following paragraphs sum it up from the reporter's point of view....
Outsourcing military missions also lets the Pentagon do things Congress might not approve. Congress, for example, has said the military can have only 400 U.S. soldiers in Colombia, an oil-rich country destabilized by guerrillas and the cocaine trade. But for years, civilian pilots employed by DynCorp, a KBR competitor, have been flying what amount to combat missions in Colombia under contract to the State Department, spraying coca crops with defoliant and occasionally getting shot at. Representative Janice Schakowsky, Democrat of Chicago, has been trying to put a stop to this kind of end run around Congressional oversight, but in the bellicose post-9/11 atmosphere on Capitol Hill, she can't get traction. Congress would never authorize the U.S. military to perform such a politically explosive mission as the Colombian spraying, Schakowsky argues, and if an American soldier was killed in Colombia it would be Page 1 news.and
''Is the U.S. military privatizing its missions to avoid public controversy or embarrassment -- to hide body bags from the media and shield the military from public opinion?'' she asks. Iraq, Schakowsky says, is no different. ''We talk a lot in Congress about how many U.S. troops are there and for how long, but not at all about the contractors,'' she said. ''They don't have to follow the same chain of command, the military code of conduct may or may not apply, the accountability is absent and the transparency is absent -- but the money keeps flowing.''
"The revolving door that spins at the top of the military-industrial ziggurat spins at the bottom too. On my way out of Arifjan, I looked more closely at the heavily armed soldiers guarding the gate and found they weren't soldiers at all, but rather civilian employees of something called Combat Support Associates, a joint venture of three obscure American companies that provide the Army with security, logistics, ''live-fire training'' and maintenance. In southern Iraq I ran into four big men in full combat gear and Robocop sunglasses whom I also took to be soldiers until I noticed the tape over the left shirt breasts; instead of US ARMY, it said EODT. That stands for ''Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology,'' not an Army unit but a company based in Knoxville, Tenn. The Web site says EOD Technology ''applies leading-edge geophysical technologies to provide documented efficient solutions to environmental challenges,'' and what that translates to is: these guys dig up minefields for a living. Their challenge the day I saw them was an unexploded American artillery round that had crashed through an oil pipeline and was buried who-knew-where underneath. All four used to be soldiers; now they do the same work at private-sector wages."What crap. You can tell when the NY TIMES is spinning when it damns a Clinton Administration policy without mentioning the word "Clinton" once in the entire article.
There are two things Congressmen want most in the world. The first is the opportunity to grandstand for their constituents. The second is to obtain campaign contributions. The use of military contractors rather than uniformed military robs Democratic Congressmen (and newspapers) of a certain political stripe, like Representative Janice Schakowsky, of the ability to do either. This is because the marks, I mean constituents, don't have their hot buttons pushed when Dynacorp loses a plane full of employees rather than uniformed American servicemen.
This is exactly why the Clinton Administration started the contracting out policy in Bosnia see here and here as well for peacekeeping operations in East Timor here, here, here and here. And, oh by the way, this is why big defense service companies like Haliburton started to give money to the DNC in 1996.
Information on contracting out military logistics is readily available at the US Army's Army Logistician professional journal and its on-line back issues here. I suppose NY TIMES Magazine reporters don't have to know how to use the Google search engine.
Anyway, from the military's point of view, the issues with contracting out are a lot different. The biggest issue is that of trading off maintenance done within a unit versus that done by contractors. In the field survey visits I have participated in for the FMTV truck program, the Army cannot maintain enough personnel stability, even with the warrant officer system, to keep highly trained technical specialists. This means the Army has given up three level maintenance with primarily its own mechanics for two level maintenance where Army mechanics go for quick and dirty repairs while contractors handle manhour intensive periodic maintenance and depot level repairs/overhauls.
You also see the Army worrying how to make sure Contractors on the Battlefield are taken care of and integrated into planning. This doesn't seem to be the problem that it first appears because many of the contractor field service representatives are ex-military and are in many cases reliving their salad years of being in the service without the pains of being in the chain of command. In short, they don't run because they bonded with the soldiers they work with. "We won't run out on our kids" sums it up nicely.
There are also other issues that are not openly discussed due to DoD budget war implications. I regularly E-mail a group of people that includes science fiction author, former paratrooper and sometimes New York Post columnist John Ringo. He sent me the following on the issue of military contracting out:
"Buddy of mine is a "prime power operative" in the Army. He's also a civilian high power electrician. I asked him one time about the Engineers getting in there and "doing the job right" (in reference to some charity construction in Latin America). And this was the...lecture he presented me with.Putting on my DoD quality bureaucrat green eye shades, I will quibble with the world "efficient." I think it will cost more using contractors than using troops in the long run because contractors can lobby Congress and the Brass to pay them more while the Army maintainers & logisticians can't. There is no denying that current contracting out methods are *EFFECTIVE* and substituting money and physical capital for American troops is an old and honored American military tradition.
"There's two speeds for the engineers in the Army: war speed and peace speed. In war speed, they work 24 hours per day if necessary to get the mission done. In peacetime, though, it goes like this.
First call formation 0600-0615. The mission is briefed for the day. Fall out for individual PT.
Recall formation 0900-0915.
Safety Briefing: 0915-0945
Mission briefing: 0945-1015
Equipment draw: 1015-1045
Begin mission: 1045 (five minute break at the top of every hour)
Lunch recall formation: 1330-1345
Recall formation: 1700-1715
Start over again the next day.
Length of mission: six months.
On jobsite (with all necessary equipment, cup/thermos of coffee in hand): 0700
Begin work: 0705
Lunch break: 1200-1230
Quit work when forced to (over eight hours is time and a
half, over twelve double time and that is on top of over 40
being time and half so doing over twelve after over forty is...)
Repeat until job is completed.
Length of project: six weeks.
Just hire Haliburton or Knudsen. It's the most efficient method."
The big issue with contracting out in the war on terrorism is how to use it in uncertain security situations where the contractors hire a bunch of unscreened locals. That is one we are about to find out the hard way in Iraq and elsewhere. It would be a nice thing if the "Paper of Record" would bother itself with such real world, life and death, details rather than V.P. Cheney/Haliburton snipe hunts.
UPDATE: To keep going to the even more extreme $200M Congo mercenary proposal mentioned in Glenn's Instalink, head to Noah's DefenseTech.org.
You may find it difficult to imagine, much less visualize, things at this scale of atoms. "Nano: The Next Dimension," is a 4-part Internet video (RealVideo or .AVI) sponsored by the European Commission that uses insightful commentary, images, animations, and other techniques to help us understand key concepts in nano-technology.
Good Lord, you mean Winds of Change.NET is giving thanks to the European Commission? Yes. You should, too, and here's why...
"It really is worth watching this movie and gaining some visceral understanding and background of what all this "nano stuff" really means, because this is a major element for the NBIC [Ed.: the coming together of Nanotechnology, Biology & medicine, Information sciences, and Cognitive sciences] advancements of the 21st century. Becoming "nano-aware" today, is akin to becoming computer-savvy in the previous century -- even if it wasn't your specialty, such knowledge would dramatically help you to succeed in the coming world."As Mr. Harrow is fond of saying: "don't blink!"
Over on Politech, Declan McCullagh has a press release on Big Internet's ambivalent relationship with spam.
It appears that Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo teamed up to block a California anti-spam law, according to a press release from the office of the bill's author, CA Senator Debra Bowen:
Backed by Microsoft, America Online (AOL) and Yahoo!, the Assembly Business & Professions Committee today refused to permit a vote on SB 12 by California State Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), a bill that sought to create the country's toughest anti-spam law by requiring advertisers to get permission from computer users before sending them unsolicited ads.Continued...
...Bowen is a pretty damn trustworthy legislator, who has historically been on the right side of privacy issues.
Today in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft announced it filed 13 civil suits against U.S. spammers for sending unwanted, deceptive, commercial e-mail to Microsoft customers. Meanwhile, at that same time, Microsoft was testifying in Sacramento, California, before the Assembly Business & Professions Committee against Senator Bowen's bill, that would have banned spam and created an "opt-in" system for sending unsolicited commercial e-mail. If enacted, it would be the strongest anti-spam bill in the country, but Microsoft opposed it because it would have required businesses to get permission before sending e-mail ads (a concept known as "opt-in") and would have allowed individual e-mail spam victims to sue spammers for $500 per spam.
"Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo! sit in committee with a straight face, saying they're trying to improve the bill, while at the same time they're back in Washington, pushing measures to wipe out this bill and every single anti-spam law that states have adopted over the past half-dozen years," continued Bowen. "Why? Because they don't want to ban spam, they want to license it and make money from spammers by deciding what's 'legitimate' or 'acceptable' unsolicited commercial advertising, then charging those advertisers a fee to wheel their spam into your e-mail inbox without your permission."
(edited to correct missed word in Bowen's description)
The Japanese government has decided to purchase and deploy a 2-layered ballistic missile defence system by 2007. Forward defence will be provided by the latest version of the SM-3 "Standard" missile, which will operate from Kongo-class navy destroyers eqipped with AEGIS radars. Backup defense will come from PAC-3 "Patriot" missiles. Parapundit analyzes the implications in detail, with lots of links as usual.
Obviously, North Korean behaviour is a big factor. I'm kind of disappointed the Japanese didn't go for an early deployment of the Israeli Arrow2 missile system, which has 2 batteries in operation now and could provide a wider-coverage defense option much sooner than 2007... I don't think Japan will be given that much time before something is needed, even if only for deterrent value.
June 24/03. Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. This briefing is actually a special feature focused on U.S. Homeland Security & Liberty, courtesy of Armchair Analyst Mike Van Winkle.
Topics Today Include: Librarian protection; U.S. citizens detained to date; $300m for Port security initiatives; Fed snooping on file-sharing; DCIO's BS PhD....
For those of you who don't believe that - as an alternative construction - the devil is in the details:
"Buried deep within the latest news report on the deadly ambush of the 507th Transportation Maintenance Co. in Iraq on March 23, 2003, was a chilling nugget of information. It now appears that the soldiers who were killed or taken prisoner in that now-infamous firefight shared a common misfortune.Why did they jam?....
Their rifles had all jammed."
"The probable cause of this widespread weapons failure has been blamed on a government-issued lubricant known as "CLP" that has been provided to many ... but not all ... U.S. Army soldiers. A number of Army veterans and contractors have denounced CLP as totally ineffective in preventing sand and dust buildup in weapons in Iraq." ... "What is bewildering to veterans such as these is that there is a product that has proven effective in desert combat. MILITEC-1 Synthetic Metal Conditioner, manufactured by the company of the same name, has been approved for Army use and is already widely used by the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI and a host of other federal police agencies. But the Army apparently is still shipping CLP en masse to the troops and has resisted ordering the synthetic lubricant, forcing unit commanders to pay out of their own pockets to acquire it." ... "The problem, Kovacic said, is that the Defense Logistics Agency allegedly refused to ship MILITEC to a number of units heading for combat in Iraq, despite previous approval of the product for Army weapons. "So, if front-line commanders order this product," he asked, "where does DLA have the authority to stop shipment? It is the brigade commanderï¿½s butt in battle and if he wants to use a different lubricant, because the government stuff does not work, he can."For want of a nail...
Actually the interesting lessons here are: a) the length of the feedback loop for procurement; and b) the importance of the smallest things.
Some of my shooting friends and I sent weapons cleaning kits as part of our contribution to the war effort; I'm happy to say that mine included no CLP...the units who we sent things to has specifically requested Militec.
In case anyone hasn't seen this, the good folks at American Realpoilitik recommend a visit to this site. If you've ever felt like thanking British PM Tony Blair for the courageous stands he took over Iraq and the wider War on Terror, this is a good way to start. (Americans, see also the Presidential Medal of Freedom petition)
JUNE 23/03: Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Venomous Kate of Electric Venom.
JK Note: Gabriel Gonzalez is a resident of Paris, France. He's got another Guest Blog spot coming, thanks to some very smart comments he left in our Comments sections. There are important parts of this article's thesis that I don't agree with, but it's worth running as a discussion-generator and the last paragraph alone justifies its inclusion.
The Jessica Lynch Story Part III – Empire Strikes Back
Sequels are rarely as good as the original movie, and sequels to sequels are of course even worse. After the often obscure director has his or her first box office hit, too many people get involved in the follow-up and what was at first refreshing and innovative tends to get repackaged for mass marketing...
Proof of this as applied to the media is the endless series of remakes of the Jessica Lynch story, starting with the Guardian's Columbinesque version of "facts" printed in mid-May. More recently, we have seen last week's fairly dry and wishy-washy Chicago Tribune article The Truth About Pvt. Lynch following closely on the heels of the Washington Post's own rehashing last Tuesday. And then there is last Friday's opinion piece by Nicholas D. Christophe, "Saving Private Ryan", in which he purports to stand up for Private Lynch and speak out against her alleged exploitation by the government:
"[I]t was unnecessary for officials to try to turn her into a Hollywood caricature. As a citizen, I deeply resent my government trying to spin me like a Ping-Pong ball."Christophe states further:
"My guess is that 'Saving Private Lynch' was a complex tale vastly oversimplified by officials, partly because of genuine ambiguities and partly because they wanted a good story to build political support for the war — a repetition of the exaggerations over W.M.D. We weren't quite lied to, but facts were subordinated to politics, and truth was treated as an endlessly stretchable fabric."The hypocrisy of Christophe's using Lynch as his own "Ping-Pong ball" to get in a few swipes at the Bush administration on the "exaggerations over W.M.D." is not only glaring, it borders on the obscene. Christophe is not "saving Jessica Lynch", she was saving him, together with hundreds of thousands of other U.S. troops who were fighting for all of us as well.
What all of this hardcore truth-seeking lacks when compared to the original is that it overlooks an important fact about "heroes" like Jessica Lynch and her rescuers: They are supposed to have mythological status. They are symbols. Jessica Lynch is our Athena or Joan of Arc, and that symbolism is more important than the grubby little details of camera angles or the exact wording of a CentCom briefing. Even better, Private Lynch is the perfect modern heroine: She is a woman. She represents our strength and courage, as well as our vulnerability. She is our sister, our daughter, and with a couple more years, she could be a mother. She also represents our need for encouragement, a timely morale booster when it looked like the chips were down. Her rescue is our salvation. It was not the administration who needed to elevate her to semi-saintly status, we ourselves did.
I much preferred the original version, guns ablazing and all, and think it comes much closer to any notion of "truth" that has any real meaning. I hope it comes out on DVD, and I'll gladly skip the sequels.
Jessica Lynch is not some missing bit of WMD. We did not fight for Private Lynch. She fought for us.
The lovely Courtney spent her Sunday the same way I did, and has some thoughts for you. Her commenters have more.
I should note that Courtney may be seeing a British subtext through American eyes here. Let me explain...
Rowlings has mined a familiar theme of the minor functionary who is able to make peoples' lives miserable, precisely because of the respect for authority and rules that exists in British culture. This is also an important subtext in private schools, where quality of leadership matters deeply (and Dumbledore types are rare). I don't think there's an intended gun control allegory here, as casting spells is what wizards naturally do. Preventing this is just one more example of educrats' denial of the students' personhood, though the danger angle adds impact. It's a story about and for teenagers, remember - politics aside, this is the way they tend to see all authority.
I must admit, however, that there were many aspects of the book that brough the back door EU power play in Britain to mind: endless petty regulation, alterations in the justice system, not to mention willful denial of the most obvious external threats.
Anyway, enough politics. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix does have some good scenes, some appealing new characters, and a pacing that returns to its customary form near the end. It could have been great.
Overall, however, I was disappointed by this book, which would have been better if it had been about 150 pages shorter. It took too long to get rolling, often seemed to be foundering in meaningless sub-plots, and had a couple of connectivity glitches that caused me to flip back through its pages in puzzlement. What could have been a platform for the book's 2 most appealing characters to shine was wasted (though they do get one really good scene near the end), and the tenor never quite rises to the intended levels of either comedy or tragedy. I really liked books I-IV, but this one fell short of the mark.
It seems to me that Rowling is feeling quite as pressured as her main character these days, and that isn't a good sign. Might I suggest an author-to-author conversation with Joss Whedon (magic & monsters as an allegory for teendom, exposition through action), and J. Michael Straczynski (serious good & evil in a typically light genre, tapping rabid fans to help build the story as well as drive the market, producing to ridiculous deadlines while keeping a vision intact)?
G Gonzalez (in the comments) is definitely right, and so is Porphy. I let my distaste for media overkill (remember, we're the house with no T.V.) tip the balance too far. Porphy's comment nails it:
However, judging from Armed Liberal's initial post, he didn't know, either, that Eva Joly was involved in the case. His post seems to imply that third parties (say, journalists or others looking into the case on their own account, but not part of the trial proceedings) not only can, but should, be gagged by judicial decree.Je me rends (I surrender)...
This is not part of normal jurisprudence. I would ask if Armed Liberal thinks that third parties (reporters, bloggers, writers and the like who are otherwise involved in the proceedings but do "investigative reporting" into the matter and then write - either for publication in a newspaper, magazine, or book - on the topic, or speak on it - say, on radio or TV or even at a public forum somewhere) can and should be kept from talking about it, by court decree?
Blogging has been light lately, as work has heated up a bit at the same time that my oldest son (Biggest Guy) came home from his first year at college, and my other two sons (Middle Guy and, unsurprisingly, Littlest Guy) finished out their school years, which always seems to involve a lot of interaction for me as a parent, both in terms of one-on-one with the boys, and in terms of school activities which I just can't bring myself to miss.
Actually, that's a misstatement - it's not that I can't bring myself to miss it, in the sense that it's a chore I endure - but that I've come to delight in it.
Part of the philosophical change I'm going through is an appreciation of the pleasures of this kind of everyday life; in my own life it's a true gift to have learned that I can have as much fun sitting at Little League closing ceremonies chatting with my neighbors as I can have doing the other, higher-profile things I love.
Much of what I plan to write about in the next month or so is both critical - of the fact that we seem to have trouble with the mundane details of things, and that we look on them as obstacles to the grand Romantic gestures that too many of us convince ourselves are what matter - and hopeful, because when you get away form the Washington-New York-Los Angeles media axis, and out to the Little League fields, lots of people do center their lives around the small accomplishments that real life is made up of.
I don't deny the attraction of Romantic acts, or of introspection, or even of snobbery and elitism - and I think that a world made entirely of dutiful suburban communities would be horribly bland.
But somehow, the pendulum has swung a little to far from those kind of virtues, and I'd like to see it swing back.
I've been blessed to be led there by my three wonderful sons - for those of you who don't have children, or who have young children, I cannot tell you what quiet elation comes from sitting with your son and realizing that you like and admire the man he is becoming. The credit is his alone, but the pleasure - that's mine.
Thanks are due this Shabbat to Dean Esmay, who made many, many bloggers happy at great effort - and for no monetary reward. His efforts have moved over 50 bloggers off of Blogspot and onto working MT-based sites. To give in a way that enables others to give in turn is a very great form of charity.
To top it all off, he runs a fine blog. Drop by and give him a read, especially the article about the crew of The Memphis Belle in WW2!
As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully"). Every Saturday, therefore, we spend some time with the Sufis' "crazy wisdom."
"When you look in a mirror, you see yourself,Are Sufis complete relativists? If so, how can that be squared with full belief in a monotheistic deity? What is Rumi getting at? Go ahead and read the whole poem, then use the Comments section and tell us.
not the state of the mirror. The flute player puts
breath into a flute, and who makes the music?
Not the flute. The Fluteplayer!
Whenever you speak praise or thanksgiving
to God, it's always like this dear shepherd's simplicity.
When you eventually see through the veils to
how things really are, you will keep saying
again and again,
"This is certainly not like we thought it was!"
UPDATE: As usual, great stuff in the Comments section. Phil discusses many paths up the mountain to G-d. Ron discussed relativism. I discuss both Creationist doctrines as an expression of "the mirror mistake," and the flute analogy as the necessary corrective. Come join us with your own thoughts!
Last week I ran an article on the Colossal Squid, an agile, wickedly-armed, 75 foot long+ predator that may just be the most fearsome creature on the planet. Could it also be somewhat intelligent?
I'm not talking about human level intelligence, or even anything at the chimpanzee level. Still, consider some of the things we know about its cousins. Octopi are known to be pretty smart creatures, using tools, having identifiable "personalities," and learning tasks as complex as opening jars to get at food just by watching. Smaller squid and octopi are strongly believed to use their split-second color changes to communicate, possibly enhanced by polarizing filters in their eyes that would let them communicate in ways their predators can't see. Jaron Lanier even sees their abilities as a goal for computing and multimedia specialists.
Put all this together, and one is forced to wonder just how many of these smarts might transfer over to their larger cousin. Size is certainly no guarantee of smarts, but memory and intelligence are valuable to longer-lived creatures. If the Colossal Squid even matches its smaller cousins, those Sperm Whales are up against an formidable foe indeed.
UPDATES: Maybe not. See comments.
"Now that the furore has died down, it seems the future of the colossal squid and countless other species is far from certain. Yet this fact does not appear to be of much interest to the local or world media.
...Tragically, many are yet to be discovered and some are likely to become extinct even before they are known to science. Five species of squid and octopus endemic to New Zealand waters face imminent extinction - three of these five were discovered only as recently as 1999.... Considering that an estimated 70 per cent of ocean-dwelling species have yet to be discovered, the need for marine reserves that cover areas of open sea is pressing...
...What is needed is the setting aside of some of the seamounts as reserves in perpetuity. Only then will these threatened species be given a chance to survive. It is not just the ecosystem of the seamounts that is under immense pressure from the fishery but also areas of deep-sea soft-sediment communities.... If the aim of conservation policy is to set aside representative areas of our marine environment for protection, why are we not paying any attention to such rich areas of indigenous biodiversity?"
June 20/03: Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings normally run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. This special Regional Briefing focuses on Central Asia and "the -stans," including Afghanistan.
Today's Topics: Sean-Paul blogging on location; Afghanistan's consitution; "Taliban, Reloaded"; Islamist inroads in Kazakhstan; Georgia on the USA's mind; pipelines & strategic considerations in Turkmenistan; and the Afghan pipeline - rising again?
A report released yesterday by the center-left U.S. Council on Foreign Relations worries that the U.S. may be losing the peace in Afghanistan. Here are more details, and a link to the full report. I'll comment next week; meanwhile, give it a read. Excerpt:
"To prevent a return to anarchy, Washington needs to bolster the Karzai government's ability to bring security and economic hope to the people of Afghanistan. The report makes three principal recommendations to achieve these goals: 1) Improve security by extending peacekeeping efforts beyond Kabul and accelerating development of the Afghan National Army (ANA); 2) Increase pressure on neighboring countries not to undercut the Karzai government by backing warlords or failing to curb pro-Taliban remnants; and 3) Provide at least $1 billion in reconstruction assistance for each of the next five years."Also worth a read is Kenneth Pollack's Foreign Affairs article, "Securing the Gulf" (Hat Tip: LGF):
"The three main problems likely to bedevil Persian Gulf security over the next several years will be Iraq's security dilemma, Iran's nuclear weapons program, and potential internal unrest in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to these problems separately, let alone together, and so difficult tradeoffs will have to be made."
T.R. Fehrenbach wrote the following in his Korean War classic "THIS KIND OF WAR":
"You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life, but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud."It is this enduring truth that is now being used by partisans of the US Army Brass and Democrats to beat up Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration in the aftermath of the recent Iraqi War.
The argument is that the Bush Administration ignored the well-informed Brass, particularly Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shinseki's advise, on the need for thousands more troops in Iraq - that the Army is "executing a 12 division strategy with a 10-division Army" - especially in light of Iran and Syria sending in foreign fighters to the Sunni areas of Iraq to support the Ba'athist remnants.
Conservatives like Stanley Kurtz have been harping on the shortage of American combat troops here and here long before this.
I disagree with this analysis....
In terms of war fighting strength to conquer Iraq, Rumsfeld was right and Shinseki was wrong.
We did not need 250,000 combat troops to conquer Iraq. We did it on the ground with a third that number. This is a very important point. In the narrow field of professional evaluation of relative ground combat power, where Shinseki should have beaten Rumsfeld all hollow, the civilian Defense Secretary called it right.
It is the number and type of troops needed in the aftermath of our victory where Rumsfeld and Shinseki are both wrong.
The issue of American combat power and military "transformation" are irrelevant to the needs of "nation building." An article critical of Rumsfeld accidentally captures the essence of the issue:
Young Men in the Mud "In many ways, the contrast between war fighting and nation-building resembles the difference between productivity in the manufacturing and service industries. Businessmen have long known that you can rather easily substitute capital and technology for labor in manufacturing. Until very recently, however, it's been far more difficult to do so for the service industries. A similar principle applies to military affairs. In war fighting, everything ultimately comes down to sending a projectile downrange. How you send the bullet (or bomb) makes a difference--you can use an infantryman with a rifle, or a B-52 launching a cruise missile. But the effect at the far end is the same--the delivery of kinetic or explosive energy. Over the last 50 years, American strategy has made increasing use of effective technology, substituting machines for men, both to reduce casualties and to outrange our enemies. But this trading of capital for increased efficiency breaks down in the intensely human missions of peace enforcement and nation-building. American wealth can underwrite certain aspects of those missions: schools, roads, water purification plants, electric power. But it can't substitute machines or money in the human dimension--the need to place American soldiers (or police officers) on patrol to make the peace a reality."Or to make the point another way, using this clip from a paid subscription article on heavy bombers in the Air Force Times:
Air Force Times June 16, 2003 Pg. 18 Think Bombers Are Bad Now? Just See What They Get Next By Lance M. Bacon, Times staff writer (snip) "Digital transmission systems are available on only four types of aircraft, according to the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm. In it May report, "Lingering Training and Equipment Issues Hamper Air Support of Ground Forces," GAO stated that the Air Force "has installed this equipment on less than three-quarters of its active-duty F-16 fighter aircraft and has procured a limited number of portable systems for its B-52 bombers. The Marine Corps has installed similar equipment on roughly 95 percent of its AV-8Bs and on about 20 percent of its F/A-18s." Only the AV-8B Harrier "is fully capable of receiving digital transmissions from its own service controllers. However, none is capable of receiving such transmissions across service lines," the GAO said. Instead of using multiple means of communication, ground troops and aircrews in Afghanistan passed most target information by voice communication. Multiple modes of communication were said to cause confusion on the battlefield, the GAO found. The Defense Department says Link 16 is the solution. The digital data link went unfunded last year to the tune of nearly $233 million. It was one of 59 items cut when the Air Force's needs exceeded its $80.5 billion budget, which already carried an 11 percent spending increase from the previous year. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wants to invest in the program, and asked for $50 million in 2003, nearly $59 million in 2004 and $190 million in 2005."Please note two things in this article clip: First, the digital data link is the key to air-ground cooperation. That is why it is the first thing the USAF cuts, and also why 95% of Marine AV-8B Harriers have digital data link. Second, the key variable in future American military operations aren't platforms or precision guided munitions, but network bandwidth connecting intelligent people. The bigger and faster the sensor/shooter/C3I network, the nastier and deadlier it becomes. The really interesting thing to see is what happens when the 4th Mechanized (Mech.) Infantry Division's land combat data system comes into use and we then add "Land Warrior" infantry to it. We are talking a half an order of magnitude increase in combat network size compared to the heavily touted theater air power networks of the Iraq war from the 4th Mech's combat vehicles alone. Combat infantry added to that bumps it up to a full order of magnitude larger. The American Army's love affair with vehicle-mounted .50 Caliber M2-HB machine guns has made for very unfair close combat firefights between Americans and everyone else since 1944. Ask the Wehrmacht what the fifties mounted on 3rd Army M-8 Greyhound armored cars did during the pursuit after Falaise. The "Ma-Deuce" has been the U.S. Cavalry's version of the mounted lance for several generations now. Yet that was nothing compared to the kill ratios the 3rd Mech had in Iraq. The 3rd Mech went through the Iraqis like the Martians went though the British Army in H.G. Wells "The War of the Worlds." There are some good organizational reasons for this. Yet those reasons can be applied to every combat division. This begs the question just what is the fully networked 4th Mech going to be like in combat? In aerial combat, "situational awareness" is a great combat multiplier until you have to close the range to engage. AMRAAM missiles kill lots of bad guys at range but closing with Sidewinders is the only way to be decisive, especially in a politically/tactically constrained rules of engagement fight. Then it gets down to who has the initial advantage, with the best trained and experienced pilots, and with adequate equipment. What will these networked land combat units be like before they "go into the merge" of close combat firefights? Robotic micro-UAV "point men" 300 yards ahead and 50 yards above human point men are going to make for very "situationally aware" line platoons and extremely "unfair" close combat firefights. Add this to GPS-based fire support, loitering drones, airborne sensors, JDAMS, and modern body armor and our infantry is "...going to make Caesar's legions look like combat-ineffective girly-men," to use a quote from a friend of mine.
He also said, "We will literally be able to fight at ludicrous odds - not just outrageous odds - and triumph nearly bloodlessly," to which I have to agree.
I am of the opinion that this phenomenon is a logarithmic progression that the American military is only just beginning to climb. The reason we are light-years ahead the rest of the world in conventional military power is that we have invested enough in people and technology that we have gotten past an inflection point on the military effectiveness curve for the use of modern information systems. It is going to take very little more marginal investment on our part to obtain vastly increased and selective killing power.
This is a good thing because we are not going to be investing as much in combat forces as either Rumsfeld or the Brass hats think. The US Army senior brass lusts after more combat divisions the way the USAF Fighter Mafia lusts after the F/A22. Even supporters recognized this problem with the "Killer"-- AKA Armor, Infantry, and Artillery branch -- generals that run the U.S. Army. What we need for Iraq and elsewhere are American support troops, and lots of them.
There are a large number of people in multilateral non-governmental organizations (NGO's) that disagree with that.
"Five leading U.S. humanitarian organizations have clashed with the Bush administration in recent weeks over the Pentagon's role in the rebuilding of Iraq, saying military oversight jeopardizes their work and puts aid workers at risk.
"It is critical that we are seen as impartial and independent, especially when (the military is) an occupying power," said Mark Bartolini, Middle East director for the International Rescue Committee, or IRC."
"Kevin Henry, CARE's advocacy director, echoed Bartolini's concern, saying his organization turned down the offer to participate in the USAID initiative for fear of "losing our credibility and putting our staff at greater risk."
Bruce Wilkinson of WorldVision said Defense Department control in Iraq is of "concern to all NGO's (nongovernmental organizations). To maintain our independence and impartiality is the hallmark of our code of ethics."
"To have any semblance of order, you need to strengthen civil society. NGO's have a huge track record in getting societies back to normal," said Wilkinson of WorldVision. "You can't do that with contractors."
These are the truths we face.
1. We are burning out the National Guard and Army Reserve support troops from repeated deployments. Retention and recruiting for both are crashing.
2. Contracting out nation building to multinational NGO's or corporations like Brown & Root or Dynacorp won't work without a secure environment, something which only American troops can provide.
3. Military allies can't provide long-term security in occupied areas either because their interests and ours are too likely to diverge, though their forces can help immensely during and immediately after a given conquest.
4. If we must deploy large numbers of American occupation troops anyway, which can't be our existing, expensive and limited ground combat specialists who are needed for further operations, we must create a new force structure as cheaply as possible -- AKA draftees -- to provide the staying power we need for long-term nation building.
The policy impact of this last point has implications.
It has always been the American way to look for a technological solution to problems. The need to reduce military personnel costs will provide the market demand for low manpower, high tech, population control technologies, something to make the occupation/nation-building mission affordable in the long term. I have seen and reported on some of these population control technologies in a Capitol Hill Trip Report here on Winds:
A one point in my lobbying trip, I was within 20-25 feet of Secretary of State Colin Powell. I had crossed the street past a Limousine in front of the Dirkson Senate Office building. As I passed it to wait for the light and cross the street to the Russell Senate Office building, I heard someone behind me say something like "Way to go General!" I turned around and saw Powell moving briskly towards his limo and get in after waving back and giving a big smile. The security detail of "Men in Black" with their ballistic/laser proof eye wear surrounded the limo and withdrew with it.
Now I have been near State Department security before. When I previously been to the Hill, I had been standing on a corner next to the Rayburn House Office Building when a State Department convoy moving Egypt's "President for life" went by. You *know* when these people look at you. There is a real sense of controlled menace as they are visually evaluating you as a possible threat.
I did not get that from Powell's security detail and I was a great deal closer. That is when I realized that I had been "electronically frisked" in multiple sensor wave lengths before Powell actually left Dirkson, and that this had been passed to Powell's inner ring security detail before Powell exited the building. The whole of Capitol Hill is now a "Free Fire Zone" for the most advanced surveillance technologies the US government can afford.
Tom Holsinger also touched on this over on strategypage.com:
Technological solutions to population control problems, notably "chipping" (pet ID's for people) with millimeter wave radar sensors and internet style data nets, are also emerging. Americans love technological solutions, especially when those involve vast expenditures of public funds which generous contractors share with deserving Congressmen.
The logic of empire, even one strictly for self-defense, does not come easily to either American politicians or the American people. The issue is more of a problem with a few, primarily Democratic, factions of the American political class than with the American people as a whole.
The American people of this generation will bear the burden of winning the War on Terrorism *and* will throw it off as soon as it is safe to do so. That was our history during the Cold War and I think it will be our "future history" in the War on Terrorism.
· Porphyrogenitus comments.
· Our readers also have lots of smart things to say, as usual. See the Comments section.
Scanning Instapundit, I notice that Glenn has a blurb up that says:
STILL MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: This time in France, where a book on the ELF scandal is being suppressed.
Amnesty International? Reporters Without Borders? Go to it.
Clicking through to Porphy's site, I find:
This speaks for itself:The stay is only "temporary", but the precedent it establishes is. . .telling.A Paris court last night halted publication of a book by a former investigating magistrate that claims France is institutionally corrupt.
The book by Eva Joly, who uncovered political and financial corruption at the Elf oil company, is the first by a judge to have been blocked by the French courts.
Arnaud Montebourg, a Socialist MP, said she should be given the Legion d'Honneur rather than be attacked for her honesty.Yes. Quite. And the EU is a rough beast being born in its image.Clicking through to the original story, I find:
Mme Joly, 57, said the French establishment was one of the most rotten in Europe. "It is a country of networks that don't like to be challenged."
A Paris court last night halted publication of a book by a former investigating magistrate that claims France is institutionally corrupt.The last thing I'd do in the world is try to argue specific issues of law with a law professor (something about an ear full of apple cider...). And I'm interested in how U.S. courts would deal/have dealt with similar situations.
The book by Eva Joly, who uncovered political and financial corruption at the Elf oil company, is the first by a judge to have been blocked by the French courts.
The court ruled that publication of Is This The World We Want To Live In? might prejudice the trial of former Elf executives, now in its third month, which has already revealed the extent of political and financial corruption in France.
The court ordered that publication, intended for today, must be postponed until the trial is over. Mme Joly said she would appeal.
But on its face, the request to delay publication until the trial is complete - ostensibly to improve the chances of a fair trial - doesn't seem outrageously repressive to me.
But what do I know, I don't think the French are evil, either.
Tom Holsinger e-mailed be the following link for a David Brooks column titled "Democrats Go Off the Cliff: Powerlessness corrupts" over on the Weekly Standard. This paragraph just jumped out at me:
"It's mystifying. Fury rarely wins elections. Rage rarely appeals to suburban moderates. And there is a mountain of evidence that the Democrats are now racing away from swing voters, who do not hate George Bush, and who, despite their qualms about the economy and certain policies, do not feel that the republic is being raped by vile and illegitimate marauders. The Democrats, indeed, look like they're turning into a domestic version of the Palestinians--a group so enraged at their perceived oppressors, and so caught up in their own victimization, that they behave in ways that are patently not in their self-interest, and that are almost guaranteed to perpetuate their suffering."Meanwhile I just saw this post from blogger Patrick Raffini on the Dean campaign. Dean supporters are apparently NAMING THEMSELVES "Dean Fedayeen."
And here I thought that the Religious Right were nuts....
I feel a scale recalibation coming on. Tom clipped the following paragraphs to give me a sense of the Brooks article with his link:
"Republicans are suffering from many of the maladies that afflict the powerful, but they have not been driven into their own emotional ghetto because in their hearts Republicans don't feel that powerful. Democrats, on the other hand, do feel powerless. And that is why so many Democratic statements about Republicans resemble European and Middle Eastern statements about America."Now put that together with what Patrick said in the last three paragraphs of his post:
... Sometimes reading through this literature one gets the impression that while the United States is merely attempting to export Western style democracy to the Middle East, the people in the Middle East have successfully exported Middle Eastern-style conspiracy mongering to the United States.
... There is little evidence that moderate voters share the sense of powerlessness many Democrats feel, or that they buy the narrative of the past two and a half years that many Democrats take as the landscape of reality.
And the problem for Democrats, more than for Republicans, is that they come from insular parts of the country. In university towns, in New York, in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and even in some Democratic precincts in Washington, D.C., there is little daily contact with conservatives or even with detached moderates. (In the Republican suburban strongholds, by contrast, there is daily contact with moderate voters, who almost never think about politics except just before Election Day.) So the liberal tales of Republican malevolence circulate and grow, are seized upon and believed. Contrary evidence is ignored. And the tone grows more and more fevered."
"In a sense, two primary campaigns are being waged. One is for the hearts and minds of hardcore Democrats, one in which the party’s most prominent national leaders are being ignored, and where the Dean Fedayeen are sucking up 50% to 70% of the energy. The second is for all intents a shadow of the first; the scramble for name recognition, where Dean can’t break 5%. Emblematic of this contest is the fact that 66% of Americans can’t name a single Democrat running for the White House, and Lieberman, Kerry, and Gephardt are the most vaguely recognizable. In this primary, even Democrats who are likely to vote at the end of the day are picking their candidate out of thin air, and the number who have actually heard of the top 5 or 6 contenders – much less evaluated them side-by-side – numbers no more than a few million.Both observations seem to be closing in on my own post Dead and Damned -- Democrats after 9/11.
At some point, these two dynamics are going to have to be reconciled. Will Lieberman’s grassroots eventually catch up to his high name recognition, or will Dean leverage his near-monopoly over the grassroots Left as the number of interested Democratic primary voters grows by leaps and bounds? The advantage Dean has is that a growing Meetup constituency actually gives him a grassroots base in cities like Phoenix and Oklahoma City where early primary voting will actually take place – something no other candidate will have until very late in the game. The main question then becomes whether this Web-based mobilization will radicalize the shrinking Democratic primary base in the Red States and make it as liberal as it is in the Blue States, and hence fertile Dean territory?
Can Dean Berkeleyize the Heartland? In today’s Democratic Party, it’s certainly possible."
I can't say I like this. America needs are real opposition party to keep the Majority Party honest, most especially during a war.
At the current rate of radicalization, the Democrats are choosing to be on the national level what the California Republican Party is today...Losers, dead and damned. I think Armed Liberal may wind up owing me a dinner.
This correspondence came as a result of a post in (where else?) our outstanding Winds of Change.NET comments sections. An Italian journalist wants to hear from Iranians. If you can, do it! This is every bit as important as the demonstrations - maybe more so, because it will shape EU opinion.
"Dear Joe, Thank's for the answer. We would like to do the same as the BBC for the italian public opinion, not only publishing e-mails and letters from Iranian students in the web-site of our news ("Studio Aperto") but also broadcasting the e-mail's textes edited with images of the Iranian protest movement.I don't want to sign this guy up for infinite spam-lists, but humans may be able to figure out his email address from the text above. I will also give the exact address to anyone who emails Joe (me) at windsofchange.net. Then y'all can forward him letters from Iran, blog URLs (a fantastic way to get blog exposure), etc.
So we are looking for students or students-bloggers with whom to exchange e-mails and opinion about the crisis. To avoid any problem for them i suggest that is better if they will use just theyr first name or different names saying just their age and their university. Thank's a lot for the collaboration
Studio Aperto - Italia Uno, Mediaset.IT
The weekly Carnival of the Vanities is up, with lots of bloggers throwing in their favourite post. Great place to find new bloggers and interesting things. As fate would have it, Winds of Change.NET will be hosting Bigwig's creation on July 9, the day all hell is scheduled to break loose in Iran. Should be an interesting day!
JUNE 19/03: Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Tuesday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by team member Dan Darling. Dan's regular blog is Regnum Crucis.
Other Topics Today Include: Arrests in Georgia, Thailand, and Bangladesh relating to the creation of a "dirty bomb" (what's that?), the arrest of the Iranian MKO leadership in France, how Jemaah Islamiyyah was built up in Southeast Asia, the US quest to rebuild Iraq, Nigerian developments, the ongoing civil war in Liberia, and Marvin the Martian joining NASA.
Stephen Emerson and others have drawn well-deserved attention to this phenomenon before, and Dan Darling's analysis is worth reading. As usual, Dan shows why he's a valued team member and Winds of War host. I'm still wondering how this squares with the inferences related to the Muhajir case, though.
Special Analysis: Al-Qaeda in the US
by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis
One of the most dangerous post-9/11 realities for Americans has been that within our own country and abroad there appear to be at least a sizeable number of people who have sworn what they consider to be a sacred oath to fight and destroy our way of life at every turn. Originally that number was considered as high as 5,000, but it appears to have been chopped down to several hundred. Still, that's far too many al-Qaeda operatives still walking the streets for comfort...
Al-Qaeda's US network has suffered a number of blows ever since 9/11 that are probably best captured by MSNBC's "The Global Dragnet" interactive. If you click on the "Nationwide" section, you'll discover the names and rationale behind the arrest of 48 individuals on charges relating to membership in al-Qaeda. Some are dedicated, others are wannabes, still others acted in a support capacity.
All in all, about 23 actual al-Qaeda operatives (which I classify as having received the necessary training and ideological indoctrination to launch mass casualty terrorist attacks) have been arrested since 9/11. Among the non-operatives, the biggest fish caught thus far appears to be Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, an alumni of Bradley University who is alleged to be an associate of both Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, the paymaster for the 9/11 attacks who was captured with Khalid in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on March 1 of 2003. Al-Marri is described as a major figure within the US al-Qaeda network, though the Newsweek article from which most of this information stops just short of identifying him as the United States operations chief. One other thing that bothers me about this is that al-Marri was arrested in December 2001, a fact that Khalid would have likely known when told the name to his interrogators.
Al-Marri is hardly alone. Other known al-Qaeda operatives inside the US include the now-infamous Adnan el-Shukrijumah, who operates under the nom de guerre of "Jaffar the Pilot" and has been described as "the next Mohammed Atta." Another group of individuals said to have entered the US in February 2002 from Yemen according to Rohan Gunaratna's book Inside Al-Qaeda is said to be planning an attack against US interests in America or Yemen, led by a son-in-law of bin Laden's close associate Ahmad Mohammed Alia al-Hada. There is likely much more to it, but from what we know at this point, there at least two dangerous al-Qaeda cells active within the US, one led by el-Shukrijumah and another by Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei.
Until these men are both apprehended and their cells disrupted, the American people will continue to endure the seemingly ubiquitous state we now know and love as "Code Orange."
Over at Armed Liberal, I've put up a list of favorite L.A. eating places. Go check it out (secretly, I'm hoping that commenters will lead me to some new places...)
JUNE 19/03: As July 9 approaches, the winter of Iranian discontent is turning into a long, hot summer of protest. This special Regional Briefing will focus on events in that country, as a follow-on to our previous Iran briefing a week ago.
JULY 9: Here's my proposal. On July 9, as many blogs as possible focus on the struggle for freedom in Iran. It's the anniversary of the pro-democracy protests that have been going on for years
I'm sure that this work will be one of the most effective ones in this fighting for freedom, even more than street struggles & demonstrations & hope that other bloggers as he says try & use the power of web that can bring change...
JK UPDATE: I believe what Andrew is referring to is called a Blog Burst. Winds of Change.NET will be happy to act as a coordinating site with links to all posts that day, as I did for the original blog Burst re: the SFSU Riot.
On Tuesday I read a number of articles where France was actively assisting Hamas, a genocidal terrorist group here and here. Then it was followed by reports that the French were cracking down on Iranian anti-Mullah "terrorists" here and here (the quotes are rented cheap from Reuters).
Roucaute: In listening to everyone in this symposium, I must agree with Madelin and Millière. France is a very sick nation. Sometimes I think that it’s only if France pays the full price for its positions that some real change will come. It’s not really the fault of the French people; they receive very bad information and almost all the books they can find in bookstores are anti-American. It’s the fault of the politicians who have no courage and explain nothing. It’s the fault of journalists who prefer Islam to America because the majority of them have been leftists in the sixties when they were young. They have not changed, they are just older.
The sickness of France has been largely created by people who want only one thing: to destroy freedom and to destroy Western civilization. The only book describing France as it is now has been written by Guy Milliere and it was hard for him to find a publisher in France. I want to write a book about all this. I cannot find a publisher myself in France. That fact alone is very meaningful.
Jean-François Revel: As I said in the last book I published, France is the prey of an anti-American obsession. For the French, Americans are the enemy they have to hate in every circumstance. They have to hate Americans because Americans are successful, because Americans are powerful, because the French prefer resentment to achievement. They are so obsessed by their hatred of the United States they do not see anymore the real dangers confronting France. It’s a very dangerous situation. I do not know how we could go out of this situation. I honestly don’t know if it is even still possible.
My sense of the matter: France is exiting Western civilization, stage left.
Regional Briefings run every Tuesday & Wednesday. This Regional Briefing focuses on China, courtesy of Hong Kong resident Conrad of The Gweilo Diaries.
Today we cover: the latest financial scandal in the PRC; China's looming AIDS epidemic; Chinese doctors and their ethical dilemmas; will the 3 Gorges Dam collapse?; a lively debate among China bloggers as to whether it's entering a new era of openness and reform; and a very novel Chinese approach to zookeeping...
There's been a discussion on Sharon's attack on Rantisi by David Adesnik on Oxblog, as well as Michael Totten, Dan Simon and Martin Kimel. I'd been meaning to comment on it, and jumping into this discussion seems like a good place to start.
I think the attack (the unsuccessful helicopter attack by Israel on Abdel Aziz Rantisi, one of the political heads of Hamas) was charitably, a bad idea. In fact I think it was colossally stupid...
It was a bad idea for two reasons:
First and foremost because while the drama in Israel and Palestine is written in the blood of the residents there, it is being played out for an audience of three.
The United States, the EU, and the Arab states. When these three drama critics make up their minds, we will have peace - almost regardless of the desires of the residents of the area.
The PA is funded by these three, and Arafat stays in power by distributing the loot. Hamas, Hezbollah, and the multiplicity of splinter groups are funded, primarily by the Arab states. They are also funded, both directly and indirectly by the EU, as well as by the rising Arab population in the EU (who act as the Irish population of Boston and the Northeast did and does in supporting the IRA) and to a small extent by the Arab population of the US.
"No bucks, no Buck Rodgers," is how Tom Wolfe once described the space program.
I'll suggest that martyrdom on an industrial scale is also an expensive proposition, and that subsidizing the infrastructure that proselytizes, recruits, equips, and delivers terrorists - and rewards their families when they have committed their acts - is the driving engine of the intehfada.
"No bucks, no booms," is the way I'd put it.
What needs to happen - and what I believe is primed to happen, given the facts on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq - is the slow drying up of the resources that support the terrorist infrastructure.
The PA is slowly lurching toward financial transparency, and the intense pressure of the US on the EU, and the concerns of the EU about terrorism have the potential to show results in managing the PA's own cash flow.
The Arab states, who have this year seen anti-Western terrorist acts on their own soil, are beginning to take some tiny steps toward limiting their cash subsidy of Palestinian terrorists.
By launching what was widely perceived as an unprovoked attack on Rantisi, Sharon allows himself to be cast as the heavy in this little drama, and made it possible for the forces that succor the terrorists to justify acting just a little more equivocally for just a little while longer. And the resources that feed the terrorist infrastructure - from the schools that teach hate, the media that broadcast it, the recruiters who find the candidate terrorists, to the terrorists themselves - who often admit they are doing it for the glory and financial security of their families - those resources will flow for a little while longer.
The second reason it was a bad idea is practical and tactical; if you have to fight, you always want to choose the time of the fight to your advantage. If your opponent is getting relatively stronger, act sooner. If the opponent is weakening in relation to you, wait. The politics within Palestine, and the politics between the Palestinian terrorists and their sponsors are complicated and chaotic. But all appearances are the that people whose opinions count are stepping away from Hamas and Hezbollah. The Iraqis aren't writing any checks these days. The Iranians have their hands full. The Saudis are reviewing their positions.
Now much of this doubtless is dissembling, and I don't doubt for a minute that the diplomats are good at telling us what we hope to hear.
But I don't see anything that suggests that the ties between Hamas/Hezbollah and their sponsors in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the EU will be stronger in three months than they are today.
So attacking Rantisi three to six months from now wold have offered three advantages:
First, it is narrowly possible that they could have grudgingly accepted the roadmap and agreed to move toward a political solution (sure, I could win the Tour de France this year, too...). Not likely, but barely possible. I lost $5.00 Sunday night to someone who pulled the only card that would save their hand at the river (last card dealt in seven-card stud)...a 1 in 52 shot, and it came across.
Next, waiting weakens Hamas/Hezbollah as their funding is reduced and their legitimacy challenged by opposing forces within the Palestinian proto-state. They rely not only on a core of committed soldiers, but on a wider group of 'casual combatants'; street kids up for a fight, a collection of the momentarily enraged, all financed by people whose career options are limited to cart vending and terrorism. Some of those may begin to see other options.
Finally, waiting strengthens Israel's claims on the U.S., as it is seen as complying with yet another peace plan in the face of violent rejection by the other side. Right now, more than at any time since the Suez crisis, the opinion of the U.S. matters.
Sharon's no idiot; no one in a position like his is. And he certainly has access to information that none of us out here in the safety of the Blogosphere have. But I'm hard-pressed to put together a logical or moral justification for the attack.
I'm sure some readers can suggest a few...
We've made some tweaks to the site's look and feel, mostly around making the blog more "scannable," improving navigation, and providing Tables of Contents et. al. in Category and Date-based archives. Hope you don't have much cause to notice that Winds of Change.NET has a new 404 error message, too - our custom improvement on a blogosphere favourite.
We've also got a spiffy new banner thanks to Marc Siry, with more site design help to follow from Dissident Frogman (Sekimori, alas, accepted $100 in January and neither delivered nor responded to multiple emails). Other endeavors include rounding out the blogroll, and hopefully implementing a system that lets you click on the "Continue Reading..." link and instantly see the rest of the post without moving to a new URL. We think that's pretty neat, just have to figure out how to do it.
Feedback? Any other suggestions for improvements out there? Use the Comments to let us know.
Jeffrey Harrow's report notes that spam is rapidly becoming a serious business problem, via a survey that shows spam starting to outstrip legitimate emails in some workplaces.
Will new methods work? What's to do? And what's this we hear about a "Nigerian Email Conference"?...
Mitch Wagner of Wagner's Weblog has an equally depressing article, explaining how spammers will beat challenge-response systems, the ones that send you emails asking you to authenticate yourself via a web site before allowing your emails through. The trick is surprisingly simple.
Fortunately, Wagner also discusses Earthlink's proactive efforts in the anti-spam arena, as well as promising options like "tarpits" and "honeypots". Perfect defenses may be impossible, but creating uncertainty has a lot of value when dealing with economic crimes. Especialy those that require service delivery.
If you believe that spamming is the wave of the future instead, Winds of Change.NET recommends the 3rd Annual Nigerian Email Conference. "Write better emails. Make more moneys!"
Prof. Amitai Etzioni, honoured here as one of our Circle of 10 (Humanity category), is back up and blogging after a series of technical difficulties left him down for 2 weeks. He's the founder of the "communitarian" movement, a very interesting faction of the center-left that believes in responsibilities as well as rights, communities and civil society as well as government power.
Stephen "Vodkapundit" Green has been away far longer. Here's why, plus some thoughts on Iran now that he's back. RWN blogger John Hawkins almost went away for a lot longer than that - get well soon, John!
Meanwhile, Geitner Simmons' "Regions of Mind" and the "Lone Dissenter" have moved to new locations and deserve a visit. Finally, IMAO - who is either a crazed right wing humourist or a leftist with the best sense of irony ever - is having a contest for his blog's new tagline.
The Washington Post reports that on June 19th, the 50th anniversary of the execution of the Rosenbergs will be commemorated in the following manner:
On the 50th anniversary of the execution Thursday, Seeger, Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte and other show business activists will appear at a benefit for the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which assists children of people imprisoned, attacked or fired for taking a public stand.It is important to note, however, that the Rosenbergs were not imprisoned for 'taking a public stand,' they were imprisoned and executed for providing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union...
The Rosenbergs were arrested in 1950, accused of relaying to the Soviet Union secrets of the atomic bomb. They allegedly recruited Mrs. Rosenberg's brother, David Greenglass, who worked at the site of the first atom bomb test in New Mexico. Greenglass became a star witness against the Rosenbergs, testifying that he saw his sister transcribing his spy notes on a typewriter.Whether Greenglass lied about the typewriter or not is irrelevant. Court TV's CrimeLibrary.com sums it up nicely:
The judge who passed sentence, Irving Kaufman, told the Rosenbergs their actions had led to the Korean War and all its casualties, and added: "Millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason." ...
A year and a half ago, Greenglass announced that he lied about the typewriter - and some other matters - to save himself and his wife.
It now seems clear that Julius Rosenberg was engaged in espionage. The CIA, in 1995, released "the Venona Cables," decoded Soviet documents that demonstrate Rosenberg's espionage activities. The Khrushchev memoirs mention Rosenberg's spying for Russia. Released KGB files provide further evidence. Finally, Rosenberg's Soviet contact, Alexander Feklisov, one of Klaus Fuchs' Soviet contacts, admitted that he had met with Julius Rosenberg as early as 1943, when, as with all American Communists recruited for espionage, Julius left the Party.There are apologists out there who argue that if the Rosenbergs weren't innocent, then the information they gave to the Soviet Union wasn't important enough to merit execution. How much damage is caused by the intelligence provided to foreign countries by traitors should not be the yardstick we use to determine punishment for espionage. Only the recipient of stolen intelligence is going to really know how valuable it is. Likewise, spies don't sell information only if they know that their clients are already getting it elsewhere. The intelligence provided by the Rosenbergs may not have been key to the Soviet Union developing the bomb, but that was the Rosenberg's intent. The Rosenbergs set out to betray their country, succeeded, were caught, and were rightfully punished.
There's a bunch of stuff in my head I've been meaning to blog, but haven't. Time to fix that.
Topics will include: The human genome, aikido, a rice strain crossed with daffodil that prevents blindness but can't be given away, aging boomer relatives spawn a left-leaning anti-idiotarian, military transformation, what peace in the Mideast has to do with alcoholism, "gypsy blogging," commercializing space, and are we headed for a depression/Kondratieff Winter?
JUNE 17/03: The Korean Peninsula remains one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints. This monthly Regional Briefing will focus on the two Koreas courtesy of Robert Koehler, a Korean-speaking expat who blogs from Kwangju University.
The source in the Sankei report believes that the Iranians discussed with the North how to handle international inspectors, while according to the Times Iranian cargo planes might have been transporting North Korean missiles to that Middle Eastern nation. If true, this might complicate efforts to block North Korean drug, missile, and nuclear sales. It does, however, suggest that President Bush's much criticized "Axis of Evil" speech might not have been so off the mark.
During his recent trip to Japan, Blue House spokepeople indicated that "Noh would reject measures other than dialogue in the course of solving the North Korean nuclear issue" (in contradiction to the joint statement he released with President Bush following their May 15 summit), only to retract that statement the next day, claiming that the President was misunderstood because he talks too fast. On June 12, a senior Blue House official ruled out any possibility of the South Korean navy joining the US and Japan in interdicting North Korean shipping. On June 15, during talks with American and Japanese officials in Hawaii, the South agreed to join its two allies in cracking down on illicit North Korean exports. If all this seems confusing, don't feel too bad - very few people here on the ground know what the government's position on anything is, either.
I had an interesting personal experience that gave me some insight into the capabilities of our Special Forces, and the power of the kind of 4th Generation management which they represent.
As a part of maintaining my own "Armed Liberal" skills, I had arranged to be part of a class taught by a former Special Forces instructor now instructing law enforcement and private classes while also contracting back to the military. At the time, I was also contracting for a large software development company, sorting out one of their troubled engagements....
I had walked into a situation in which the team was not only disorganized and badly led, but had that wonderful sense of 'geek entitlement' that was so prevalent during the .com boom years. That spirit is one which suggests that half-efforts by technically competent people are really all that can be expected, and that the messy heavy lifting involved in actually getting things done is somehow less of a concern than shopping for a new Acura or standing in the dining room chatting.
As my loaded tone suggests, it's not a work style with which I fit particularly well, and at one point I was louder and doubtless less diplomatic with two of my team members than I might have been. They had inadvertently shut down the client's system and gone to lunch early, which was a Bad Thing because the system was an e-commerce system which made the client about $100,000 an hour. The client called and was extremely unhappy, and I paged them back to the office and we conferred.
We were in a corridor, and as my voice rose, doors started to open and we collected quite an audience.
One of them was the CTO of the company, my contract officer, who asked me to join him in his office, where he suggested that my skills at managing less-motivated team members might - as he put it - need improving.
He knew that I was taking the class, and hosting the instructor at my home. He suggested that as a former senior NCO, the instructor might have some helpful suggestions to make on 'managing the unmotivated.'
So after I picked the instructor up at LAX and got him set up in the guest room at our house, we went off to dinner.
"I have a funny question," I opened.
He gave me a concerned look, assuming that I was looking for some violent or secret inside stories, which we had agreed in advance would be off-limits.
I went on to explain my problem, and ask him the question: "How did you deal with unmotivated troops?"
He started laughing and sprayed some of his Bohemia beer on the table.
"Your boss doesn't understand. There are no unmotivated troops in the Special Forces. That's the biggest reason why they are special. Most militaries go into fights full of people who would rather be somewhere else, doing something else. The Special Forces are full of people who want to be right here, right now."He explained that as a trainer for Special Forces medics, one of his jobs was explaining to the physicians who rotated into camp clinics and hospitals that unlike regular troops, who used medical conditions as an excuse not to perform their duties and so exaggerated them, that they had to be alert to Special Forces troops who would mask the extent of their injuries because they did not want to miss training or duty.
"The problem isn't getting them going, it's holding them back," he explained to me.
He then spent dinner explaining his interpretation (and since he'd Been There & Done That, it's the most relevant data that I have on the subject) of management in the Special Forces universe.
My notes are pretty simple (note that the simplistic bullet-point conceptualization is entirely my own, and that his discussions were appropriately complicated, anecdote-filled, and rich in meaning and context):
SELECT - pick your people carefully
PROTECT - protect them from the inevitable petty nonsense, but make sure they know there are consequences from within the team for doing wrong
EXPECT - make it clear that you expect them to succeed, and that you expect that they will help the rest of the team do what it takes to succeed
INFORM - keep them well-informed of what's going on, not only in their immediate environment, but on the broader levels as well
LISTEN - make sure they know that when they speak they are heard and responded to
GET OUT OF THE WAY - once you've set objectives and metrics, let them do their job
I took his advice, and - as I should have done sooner, and have done ever since - on returning to work had the offending sysadmins removed from the project. It worked, and it was the beginning of a long process that eventually got the project turned around.
A number of blogs have moved lately, sparked by Blogger's ongoing woes, Dean's Blogspot Jihad, and random acts of change. Here's a brief list:
Meanwhile, Venomous Kate notes that a system has been devised that will let non-MT blogs use MT Trackback (another WizBang creation). This is a major bonus to platforms other than Movable Type. Trackback is a great little perk of MT, and using it will increase your awareness, visibility and readership.
JUNE 16/03: Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted.com.
TODAY'S TOP ITEMS
Other Topics Today Include: pacification in Iraq, the return(?) of the body count, Venomous Kate's update, Iran's slide towards chaos, Ireland heating up, and the threat of American troops engaging Palestinian terrorists...
THE WIDER WAR
On June 12, NATO defense ministers approved the most extensive command structure revision in the history of the alliance. Many of these changes mirror shifts in the USA's own thinking and operations over the last few years.
Is HQ still in Belgium? It's worth reading this USFJCOM release to see the details.
Winds of Change.NET has covered Special Forces before: The official U.S. SOC web site. A briefing on what they really do, with stories from Afghanistan. Phil Carter's own briefing materials. Reports from Waziristan. Iraq, from advance reports, to Diwaniyah to the aftermath of war, where they continue to play a vital role. Australia's SAS on their Iraq experiences, and Poland's GROM (specialoperations.com | Weekly Standard), who performed so brilliantly at Um-Qasr and elsewhere. Even Special Forces and the laws of war.
Now Mike Duffy and others at TIME have published "Secret Armies of the Night." Its descriptions of operations in Iraq are valuable in and of themselves (though they neglected GROM's role), but the real news is the increasing influence of SOF within Rumsfeld's Pentagon...
This is a good thing. Special Forces have long been neglected by regular Army commanders, many of whom did not really know how to use SOF resources or even distrusted them. Not only is the Army's new Chief of Staff ex-Delta Force, but SOF now has its own command and the ability to plan and carry out its own operations. That last addition is huge, and very recent. As TIME reports:
"The increasing faith in special-operations forces (SOF) can be traced to one man: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Since taking over as Pentagon chief, Rumsfeld has repeatedly handed the commandos starring roles in the war on terrorism and pressed his Vietnam-era generals.... the "SOF guys," as they are called around the Pentagon, have emerged as the biggest winners in the Rumsfeld era. The defense chief has set in motion a host of changes that will boost their budgets and swell their ranks in the next five years.... "God love him," said Air Force Colonel Randy O'Boyle, who directed part of the Faw operation. "(Rumsfeld) had the confidence to unleash us on the target."Special Forces are only part of the U.S. military's "transformation" effort, but their needs dovetail nicely with many of its concepts: "jointness" (the ability of all military branches to work together in combat), greater emphasis on deployability and mobility, precision weapons, better intelligence backed up by firepower. As such, they serve as an excellent bellweather - and even leading indicator - for military transformation's progress.
It's also worthy of note that many of the post-9/11 operations detailed in "Playing Offense" include and/or involve SOF missions. Back to TIME:
"It would be wrong to imagine that Rumsfeld can convert his special units into supersoldiers who can do anything or stop anyone. Even he knows that.... "There are certain things we can do, and there are certain things we can't," said a top special-forces officer who served in Afghanistan. "We can't take and hold ground. But there are some things we can do, and finally the civilian commanders have learned the proper mix."We'll see. If you're interested in the future of the U.S. military (and very possibly others as well), this is an area worth paying attention to.
Expat Scott M, over at Pedantry blog makes an interesting point in his post on the Israel-Palestine impasse (note that he's wrong, but nonetheless gives us an interesting way to look at things).
There is a very simple notion in political science, one that goes back to Max Weber: A state possesses, by definition, a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, and it protects that monopoly. When a state is unable to protect that monopoly, it isn't a state. There is no Palestinian state, and a non-existent state can not have a monopoly on violence. There is no possibility of anti-Israeli terrorism ending until there is a genuine Palestinian state with a monopoly on legitimate violence to protect. Any decision not to negotiate or make concessions until the violence abates is nothing but a cheap rationalisation for maintaining the status quo indefinitely.[Update: Just found Donald Sensing's post on the same subject...]
Here he's quoting Weber who says, in Politics As a Vocation:
'Every state is founded on force,' said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutions existed which knew the use of violence, then the concept of 'state' would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge that could be designated as 'anarchy,' in the specific sense of this word. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the only means of the state--nobody says that--but force is a means specific to the state. Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions--beginning with the sib--have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.Scott misses last part of the same paragraph, in which Weber makes a key distinction:
Note that 'territory' is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the "right" to use violence. Hence, "politics" for us means striving to share power, either among states or among groups within a state.
To Scott, the unassailable fact that the PA cannot control sub-entities within the territory means that they, unlike Israel, cannot be held accountable for the actions of Hamas et al, and that Israel should ignore the provocations of other groups.
To me, it has the opposite sense; what standing does the PA have to negotiate as a state if they can't act as a state and control "the "right" to use violence"?
I'll suggest that we have a different problem to solve, which suggests a different set of solutions.
The typical path to statehood is tribe - nation - state.
What we have in Palestine is an attempt to create an artificial state directly from a set of tribes. It worked in Israel, because most of the Israeli immigrants came from established states, so the superstructure of a state was familiar to them.
It isn't so familiar to the people who live in the West Bank and Gaza. This isn't some racist argument that they can't create or live in a state; it is just that they haven't - ever. And to expect them to suddenly develop democratic institutions and accept the rule of law because we want them to - without having formed a nation, or any of the other intermediate stages of political development - is to engage in the worst kind of wishful thinking.
And when we assume that the forms of diplomacy and politics that work between states can work between a state and a non-state, we're wishing as well.
"Marsh Arab villages still cling to some of those roads. They look like Arab villages anywhere, including the middle of the Sahara. The only clues to their aquatic origins lie in stately council houses, with cathedral-like spires, constructed entirely of bleached, rotting reeds.Reassembling a complex ecosystem may be more challenging than they expected, but at least they've made a start. I wish them luck, and some help from a scientist or two who understands complexity.
"We broke the dams when the Iraqi army left," said Qasim Shalgan Lafta, 58, a former fisherman whose village sits marooned, along with a few cracked canoes, in a landscape that looks like the Utah Badlands. "We want to teach our children how to fish, how to move on the water again." . . ."
As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully"). Every Saturday, therefore, we spend some time with the Sufis' "crazy wisdom."
Idries Shah was certainly someone who lived the Sufi way. He recounted this tale in "The Wisdom of Sufic Jokes." It may be more relevant now than it was in 1976, when it was originally published:
"Rationalizations, association of ideas, and lack of humor often go together and can usually be disentangled.A parable for our own times, too. Idries Shah concludes:
I was once standing at a corner of the huge market street called the Bhindi Bazaar in Bombay, when a bus stopped and a troop of determined Western seekers-after-truth descended and clustered around an old man who was squatting on the side of the road. They photographed him and chattered excitedly. One of the visitors tried to start a conversation with him, but he only stared back, so she remarked to the guide, "What a sweet old man; he must be a real live saint. Is he a saint?"
The Indian, who had a sense of humor as well as an interest in not wanting to tell a lie and a need to please his clients, said, "Madam, saint he may be, but to us he is the neighborhood rapist."
She immediately replied, "Oh, yes, I've heard of that; it involves their religion. I guess he must be a Tantrist!"
"...in Sufi study and understanding, ignorance is crippling, paranoia is ridiculous, right alignment and respect (for materials, for students and teachers) are essential; servility and vanity are harmful. The proper focus is almost everything. A comprehensive understanding is essential. Offering premature "enlightenment" is irresponsible. Paradoxically but inalienably, the fact is that only by wanting to serve each other can the two elements -- the teaching and the learning -- be harmoniously, and therefore correctly, brought together."
Assuming it doesn't eat your group first, of course.
Scientists had long considered the Giant Squid, architeuthis dux, the most massive invertebrate in the sea. Very little is known about them, as none have ever been seen alive in the deep ocean; all we have are corpses and scars on on the Sperm Whales who eat them. Based on the sucker diameters of some of those scars, there have been estimates of squid out there up to 100 feet long at full stretch.
We now know that these Colossal Squid do indeed exist, that they're another creature entirely, that mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni is not only larger but better equipped to defend itself, and that they venture to the surface on occasion because that's where this specimen was when caught near Antarctica. I've seen live squid; they're ridiculously quick (see video) and agile. Hamiltoni is absolutely a creature you do NOT want to meet up close and personal. This incident may not be the first time one has been seen on the surface, either. If that older account is correct, even the size reported by the BBC understates the case.
Our world is not yet fully explored, and science still brings us wonders to behold.
(Squid graphics courtesy of TONMO.com.)
June 13/03: Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings normally run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. Fridays will also be briefing days, and I'll start by using it for special briefings like this one.
Today's other topics include: recent demonstrations and reports, North Korean and Russian ties to Iran's nuclear program, Iran and 19th century Ireland, hatred and Iranian culture, an Iranian blogger's beefs with Michael Ledeen, and Michael Ledeen himself...
To follow up on the excellent Comments discussion in yesterday's "Roadap to Nowhere" post, it looks like Israel may be getting ready for a serious war against Hamas. Not to mention any of its allies who care to put themselves in the line of fire. My Israpundit article also covers Arafat's long-standing ties to Islamic fundamentalism, the strategic effectiveness of assassinating terrorist leaders, and victor Davis Hanson wrapping it all up with the big picture. Read "Target: Hamas"
This Friday 13th, "9/11 liberal" Jeff Jarvis takes a very large axe to the notion that terrorism is caused by economic deprivation and lack of education. Of course, he has a bit of inside help from a study done by professors Alan B. Krueger and Jitka Malecková. Summary: not only is this notion foolish and immoral, it's factually wrong. I'll leave him with the final word, but you'll want to read his whole post.
"So all this blather about the poor, downtrodden terrorists, all the crap-think asking "why do they hate us?" is irrelevant. It's worse than irrelevant: It's offensive; it's enabling; it's making excuses for evil deeds and the devils who do them."
Yet in a sense I have commented on many aspects of the institutional problems of Chinese air power years ago over on Jerry Pournelle's site here.
The real issues of Chinese airpower are not strictly speaking cultural, as the Policy Review author Jacqueline A. Newmyer states. They are issues of pure power politics. That is why Chinese air power will always remain more of a myth than a reality. I have an advantage here over Jacqueline A. Newmyer and Parapundit that I am going to share with you...
You see, I attended the Dallas/Ft. Worth ORIGINS wargaming convention in the early 1990s where several of the staff wargamers of the U.S. Naval War College explained the power template of 3rd world regimes and the role of air forces play within them.
All 3rd World States, including China, are a thin veneer of modernity stretched over a sea of abject poverty. This means they are literally one person deep in any given technological or organizational skill. The end result of this is that the average 3rd world regime looks something like this:
However, the point of the template is this. The majority of successful 3rd world coup attempts are launched from inside the air force. The reason is simple. The Army can be maintained at a much lower level of professional competence and still be intimidating bully boys. The air force must have a higher minimum level of organizational competence simply to fly its aircraft. Organizational competence of any kind concentrated in one place lends itself strongly to the organizational skill necessary to launch a sucessful coup.
This is something that Newmyer recognizes with China, but only in passing:
While recognition of its importance to modern warfare has led the Chinese to accord air power an increasingly prominent place, a record of PLAAF radicalism has inclined leaders to restrain air force development. During the late Mao years, the dissenter Lin Biao, who was eventually purged from the regime and died in a mysterious plane crash over Mongolia, coopted the PLAAF's leadership. Lin's 1971-72 attempted coup was based in part on support from the air force, a fact that led Deng to pay particular attention to the mood of this service branch.
The writings of party and military elites convey their fears about the insurrectionary potential of a modern air force. An article published in a pro-mainland Taiwanese daily after the downing of the U.S. spy plane sums up the concern: "Past examples show that whoever has possession of a plane has the power to do what they want with it.... In the 1980s, Sun Tianqin defected by flying a Mig-21 to South Korea, and in the face of protests by the Chinese Communists, American experts carefully ;observed' this aircraft."
In Beijing's eyes, the tradition of PLAAF dissent lives on. The Falun Gong religious sect, identified by China's leaders as a threat to be eliminated, has won a significant air force following. In 2000, Yu Changxin, a septuagenarian retired PLAAF general, was arrested and sentenced to 17 years in prison after being accused of masterminding a Falun Gong demonstration in Beijing. Yu's incarceration, which made him the highest ranking official yet to be punished for affiliation with Falun Gong, provoked an outcry from his former colleagues. They were further aggrieved by the death in captivity of Wang Yu, a 49-year air force officer.
The PLAAF's weakness, then, reflects the combined effects of cultural predispositions and conscious political choices. While China's political-military elites, like their former mentors the Soviets, have devised ways of developing the air force without putting too much power in the hands of untrustworthy pilots, their inability to rely on recruits has had far-reaching effects. For instance, the PLAAF's training regimen minimizes flight hours, which severely limits the skill of China's pilots. (PLAAF pilots spend only 80-100 hours flying annually; their American counterparts spend at least 280 hours in the air per year.) This economy is partly attributable to a desire to spare China's aging and fragile fleet from undue wear, but it also stems from a concern about giving yahoo recruits too many opportunities to defect. The regime's anxieties about maintaining power have depressed the air force's performance level.
The above are the reasons why the Chinese leadership, like most 3rd world regimes, is in love with ballistic missiles with a rumored weapon of mass destruction capability.
The wonderful thing about building ballistic missiles rather than a large air force or navy is that you can parade junk and it looks threatening. This make them very powerful political symbols for both internal political grandstanding and for bullying international diplomacy, a la China with Taiwan. You get all the peacetime benefits of a strong air force without the political coup threat problems that come with them. Besides, pilots that are politically reliable often are very poor in their flying skills, as the Darwin Award winning Chinese fighter pilot in the EP-3 affair proved.
This, BTW, is why American ballistic missile defenses are so fundamentally unacceptable to the Chinese. They neutralize the implied political threat Chinese missiles represent, and destroy Chinese illusions of power both internally and externally, because people will believe American missile defenses will work while Chinese missiles won't.
UPDATE: Team Stryker comments.
I must confess, every time I hear about the Israeli-Palestinian Roadmap to Peace, the Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere" song starts playing in my hand. Even the lyrics are perfect. The Roadmap's futility is now being discussed in scathing terms by people like Michael Totten, while Dr. James Zogby comes in for some sharp criticism from his blogging relative.
For all of the members of the "it can't hurt to talk" brigade, I recommend reading these 2 pieces. This is not a "peace process," any more than negotiations in the Balkans between Milosevic's proxies and the Bosnian muslims were a "peace process." Like Bosnia, the process itself constitutes reward for, tolerance of, and thus incitement to, murder. Can't hurt? Au contraire - this process kills.
Unfortunately, the students demonstrations didn't continue; just about 80 ones were arrested, & basij & other groups could manage it before it get more serious. But in any cases, it was a great beginning for the coming month & other demonstrations.
Although I'm agreed with the ones who believe that It's not a suitable time for these kinds of movements & they have to be planned, but I also believe a street demonstration (even if as some other says is planed by government to weak the plans of July 9) is always an important step to the final victory of people. VOA reports...
"Iranian police have clashed with thousands of demonstrators protesting the country's unelected Muslim clerical regime. Witnesses say protesters threw stones at riot police and vigilantes who pushed into the crowd at Tehran University, breaking it up. Several protesters were reported injured.You can also find photos of these demonstrations here; & here..., but you know, they way they are fighting might make you remember photos of Palestinians (!!!) fighters, so I believe that they didn't choose a right way & what they did last years & what they have planed to do this year, ( a big & crowded, but without these kinds of violence) is more intellectual...
Before being dispersed early Thursday, protesters chanted against Iran's clerical regime, and in a rare move, called for Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to resign. The demonstrators say he has not introduced enough reforms....
"The clerical regime is nearing its end!'' the demonstrators chanted. "Vigilantes commit crimes, the leader supports them.''....
The arrests may have also been a warning before July 9, when students plan to commemorate the day four years ago when hard-liners and security forces attacked students protesting media restrictions. At least one student was killed and the clash touched off the worst street battles since the 1979 revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah.
June 12/03: Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by team member Dan Darling, whose other blog is Regnum Crucis.
Dan's research into the personalities and organizations behind al-Qaeda and its allied Islamist organizations is impressive. You can see why he's a regular and valued host of our "Winds of War" feature.
Special Analysis: The GSPC, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and the War on Terror
by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis
Those who followed al-Qaeda's efforts to release chemical weapons in London, Paris (the ringleader of which has a brother at Guantanamo Bay) & Catalonia, and the ricin lab in north London may have noticed that the group's European network contains within it a disporportionate number of Algerian expatriates. For some strange reason, they are often referred to in BBC or wire service reports as "North Africans". Part of the reasoning behind al-Qaeda's liberal use of Algerians is simple demographics: Algerians have a large immigrant presence in many European countries, and thus the organization can build and maintain an infrastructure there without attracting undue attention.
The other, far more sinister reason has to do with...
The other, far more sinister reason has to do with al-Qaeda's increasing reliance on two of its most lethal affiliate organizations, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA, after its French acronym), which also assisted Ahmed Ressam during his early years before sending him on to Afghanistan for further training, and the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC). As many articles have pointed out since 9/11, al-Qaeda is less of a tightly-centralized organization like the fictional SPECTRE or Cobra and more of a coalition of like-minded groups with local goals and aims that adheres to an international ideology.
In addition to their collusion with Zarqawi in the attempted chemical weapons attacks in Europe, the GSPC recently planned an attack against the US Embassy in Mali. The plot was ordered by one of GSPC leader Hassan Hattab's senior deputies, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is currently living in Niger and was evidently important enough to receive a private message from bin Laden himself back in December. Belmokhtar's forces are also said to be behind the abduction of 32 European tourists, over a dozen of whom are still being held.
One way or another, both the GSPC (which may well have been involved in the recent attempted coup in Mauritania, as those foreign Islamists arrested there almost certainly match any description of the group) and Belmokhtar appear to be broadening their horizons in much the same way the Egyptian groups did during the early 1990s under bin Laden's aegis. The US should be prepared to counter this threat in some of the poorest and most neglected regions of the world to prevent the global terrorist network for gaining yet another base of operations.
N.B: Dan Darling's "Winds of War" roundup of the global War of Terror continues today at this link.
Lots of articles out there talking about neoconservatism, most without a real grasp of the subject. Straussians, Trotskyites, right-wing conservatives, etc., etc. How does it all fit together?
Folks, you can't tell the players without a program - and you can look very silly trying to talk about them without one. Stephen Schwartz explains the Trotskyite angle. Personally, I was more amused to see Stalinist & Trotskyite partisans locked in mortal combat again... in the pages of National Review. So, welcome to Fight Night. Peanuts! Popcorn! Get'cher souveneir programs here!
UPDATE: Hary Hatchett, a British leftist who knows a thing or two about Trots and Stalinists, is similarly amused. Got some interesting links, too.
Which is nice and all, I guess, but not nearly as much fun as imagining George Steinbrenner's apoplectic reaction. Mwahahahahaha!
UPDATES: Michele isn't happy, and wants to know: "who gets the game ball?" Bronx Banter says the one who went ballistic is manager Joe Torre, and has lots of good reactions (permalink is wonky). Finally, David Pinto has a theory - are the Yanks are headed for bigger trouble?
According to a once-secret Army memo, Gen. Peter Jan Schoomaker, who was in charge of a special forces unit at the time, declined to provide an assessment of the FBI plan for the siege of the [Waco] compound.Believe it or not, this is good news...
"....This was not a military operation and could not be assessed as such," Schoomaker, a career special forces soldier, wrote in the memo describing the meeting.Well, he understands the limitations and boundaries between civilian and military action. That's a good sign.
"We explained that the situation was not one that we had ever encountered and that the Rules of Engagement for the FBI were substantially different than for a military operation."
One of the soldiers told the Justice Department officials in attendance: "We can't grade your paper," according to the memo.
In today's L.A. Times (intrusive registration required - use 'laexaminer'/'laexaminer', and you are guaranteed at least two popunder ads every time you visit the darn site), an editorial supporting freezing the assets of the Burmese junta:
The U.S. Congress is considering tougher measures to freeze the assets of the Myanmar government held in the United States and to bar the country's leaders from traveling here.
Those steps are warranted unless Suu Kyi is released and allowed to travel freely. The United States and other countries earlier imposed economic sanctions on Myanmar that devastated its economy. Trade with Thailand and China, plus the export of narcotics, has kept it afloat.That's the beginning of what I'm talking about when I talk about defunding the kleptocrats.
The trading partners, other countries in the region and aid givers like Japan need to get tougher by imposing sanctions and aid suspensions to push the country toward democracy; that's the outcome Myanmar's citizens show they favor every time they get the chance.
They can't keep the cash under their mattresses. They can't invest it locally, because there is nothing to invest it in, so they'd rather have T-bills and real estate in New York or London. The things they want to buy - from Boeing, Chanel, and Nike - require dealing with Western companies.
While I'm not a fan of the intrusive measures designed to catch petty money-laundering, I do think it ought to be possible to trace the huge amounts these thugs steal from their people, find the places where it enters the Western economy, and make it risky and expensive for them to put or spend their money here.
I'm a believer in the market, and if we can make it riskier and more expensive for the thugs - and for those who profit from sweetheart deals with them - we can shift the behavior somewhat.
That's not as conceptually satisfying as Toby Keith's song suggests:
Justice is the one thing you should always findBut more realistic and satisfying nonetheless.
You got to saddle up your boys
You got to draw a hard line
When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune
We'll all meet back at the local saloon
We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces
Singing whiskey for my men, beer for my horses.
Noted historian Paul Johnson's essay "From the Evil Empire to the Empire for Liberty" is worth a read (thanks, Pejman). His definition of 'Empire' is historically correct, highly relevant to America and its future, and not at all what you think. Along the way, he also answers Michael Totten's need for a word to replace "colonialism" with respect to intervention in places like the Congo. How about "moral imperialsm?" Take this revealing anecdote from our past:
"One area where moral imperialism was active was the Persian Gulf. In Arabia, slavery and slaving were endemic, run by the fierce Wahhabi religious sect, whose leaders were the forebears of the Saudi ruling family. The Wahhabis also sponsored piracy in the Indian Ocean, threatening Britain’s trade with India. From the first decade of the nineteenth century, Britain made allies of the Gulf States, such as Bahrain, Qatar, and Muscat, which resisted Wahhabi encroachment, and these allies provided footholds for a local form of moral imperialism which lasted into the oil age."Of course, that was a couple hundred years ago, and couldn't possibly be relevant to events today. Johnson's essay is a fascinating journey through our history, from the Greek city states to Britain's empire, America's founding as a child and inheritor of imperialsm, the growth of the Anglosphere, and our challenges post-Sept. 11th.
UPDATE: Michael Totten responds. Still not satisifed, but emails to say I'm one of the best in the blogosphere for bouncing ideas off of. Thanks! Caerdroia also has some good thoughts, and Abiola has a term of his own to suggest.
Speaking of those charming Wahhabis, Kesher Talk's Judith Weiss pointed me to a real blogosphere classic. Apparently, the Saudi religious police have a web site where you can report violations and "un-Islamic" activities. In response, Silflay Hraka has an idea so fiendish and inspired that I forsee medals and honours coming from the Evil Right-Wing Blogosphere Gods.
Go in the name of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, and help the Wahhabi Islamofascists get their money's worth! Get creative. Flood the zone!
Today's Topics Include: War on Terror developments in the Horn of Africa, Zimbabwe update, good news from Rwanda, the most important thing the West can do for Africa, and beaucoup Congo-related links.
Stephen has "issues" with his site (why not join Dean's Blogspot Jihad?), so he asked us to post his excellent comment as a Guest Blog here at Winds of Change.NET. Grappling with the implications of our recent Africa posts linked via Armed Liberal's "Conflict Diamonds" piece, Stephen muses:
"I find myself, through acculturation and inclination, despising the colonial idea of The White Man's Burden, but that's what this sounds like to me when I say these thoughts out loud. Every fiber in my being screams "racial stereotype" and I don't like it. This is not the time of Kipling. I'm Hawai'ian (among other things), and the whole idea is anathema to the way I was brought up. But something still needs to be done. But what?"The whole piece is a fine complement to both AfricaPundit's Regional Briefing today and "After Empire," Theodore Dalrymple's must-read personal account of the dynamics of African underdevelopment...
Lands of Confusion
by Stephen of Slap the Monkey
I'll preface this with saying that I don't have a strong background in African history or politics. This is just my gut talking, here.
On reading Kaplan's "The Coming Anarchy" I find myself with disturbing thoughts. It reads like a post-apocalyptic horror novel, and though I see his points, I don't necessarily agree with his premise that Africa is a direct harbinger of doom for the United States. A destabilizing force, to be sure, one with international consequences, but I think that, on a more local level, it might not be so bad.
This looks odd to me as I write this, since I'm known for pessimism, and in fact some of what I'm thinking is pessimistic, but I can't get away from a sense of, not so much opportunity, but hope. Yes, Africa is going to hell in a handbasket, has been for centuries. It's famed for it. Just ask Conrad's Mr. Kurtz.
But to my mind, I see a contrast that makes me think that, though Africa's problems will run aground on our shores and already have to some extent, we can spare our nation a large chunk of the difficulties that Africa has and will continue to experience. Not to jump on the "Oh, it can't happen here," bandwagon, because it can. But I have hope that it won't, because I think that the key to having it happen is apathy, something that is in far greater supply among a debilitated continent of third world nations than it is over here.
A sense that nothing can be done about it will doom us. A sense of "Oh, hell we're already screwed, why fight it," will drive us screaming into the void. The West is different from Africa.
Some of what Kaplan describes seems to me, at its core, to be something that already happened in the U.S. "It is worth noting, for example, that it is precisely the wealthiest and fastest-developing city in India, Bombay, that has seen the worst intercommunal violence between Hindus and Muslims."
Sounds like New York in the late 1800's and early 1900's to me. Jews and Italians, Hungarians and Irish all beating the crap out of each other because... well, because they could. But there's a difference. I think it's a sense of greater community. People came to the United States because it was a fresh start. They wanted to be part of a greater whole. They wanted to be American. Africa has no such analogy.
In order to make a new start in America people had to give up their previous home, sail across an ocean for a month in steerage, burn away their old family ties to place. Africa's all one big connected plot separated by loose borders and disease ridden terrain. People travel from place to place in a more migratory fashion, herded by circumstance and war, like geese being run to ground by wolves.
But Africa has exposure to the West. It's got Coca-Cola, and Marlboro. It's got the images of the fruits of the West, but no real understanding among the people of how to get there. I think that the West, inadvertently created a half baked model for African politics to follow and then, when colonialism went out of fashion, pulled the plug and left them to fend for themselves. There's no sense of communal alignment. Individual family units / tribes are vying for some kind of adolescent supremacy without taking into account the collective as a whole. Without this there can be no long term government institution that wields any real power. With an unstable government comes a lack of resource management. With no resource management the Tragedy of the Commons is exponentially compounded. Waste treatment is nonexistent. Disease is rampant. Foreign investment is almost nil. With the exception of South Africa, who in the region has the stability to have any real economy?
So we end up with a situation where a series of larval societies, still stuck in an pre-feudalistic city state mentality, has been trying to shove a post-modern identities onto itself. It's like watching children play at being adults and accidentally setting fire to the dog.
Clearly something needs to be done. And this is where my thoughts start to bother me.
I find myself, through acculturation and inclination, despising the colonial idea of The White Man's Burden, but that's what this sounds like to me when I say these thoughts out loud. Every fiber in my being screams "racial stereotype" and I don't like it. This is not the time of Kipling. I'm Hawai'ian (among other things), and the whole idea is anathema to the way I was brought up.
But something still needs to be done. But what? Aside from the fact that we have troops already committed everywhere else, the EU (okay, France) is already sending troops to the Congo. Whether it's because they honestly want to deal with the issue, or it's just a political "kiss off" to the U.S. to prove they can do it alone remains to be seen. From what I understand their only objective is to take the airport they're heading into and open up the routes for humanitarian aid to flow into the country.
But is it enough? Do parts of Africa need to be taken over by outside powers just to impose order and government? If not, will their destabilization leak over to the rest of the world? God, I hope not. I don't think it can be done. It's too goddamn big. Simply throwing money out there doesn't seem right to me. Humanitarian aid is a great idea, when it gets to the right people. Who do we make the checks out to? Who do we give the food to? How do we make sure it isn't stolen to feed rebel troops? Who are the rebels? These are countries known for rapidly shifting governments and corrupt politicians. Sending donations and avoiding the purchase of conflict diamonds has the feel of soccer moms holding a bake sale to free political prisoners. It just doesn't seem enough.
The problem won't solve itself. So, I ask myself, what can I do about it? How can one person make a difference? And the easy answer, the one that far too many people give, the one that I fear the most, the only one that comes to mind, is nothing. And this disturbs me most of all.
Hmm. Seems some folks are out to make a revealing, "Roger & Me" style documentary about... Michael Moore! According to Rachel, the people in charge of "Michael Moore Hates America" are off to a great start.
Looks like an incipient cult hit to me. I see you shiver with antici........ pation.
Somehow, I'm reminded of The Ballad of Irving. Still, thanks to John Hawkins who ranks Winds of Change.NET as #42 in the Blogosphere Power Rankings. That's short of World Domination or even Matt Yglesias, but having Moxie, Rachel Lucas, Jane Galt, Virginia Postrel, Rantburg and Tacitus as our nearest neighbours is rather nice (keep the power... we'll take the hot neighbours!). Thanks to all our readers and linkers, for helping to make our neighbourhood special.
Palestine, Northern Ireland, Kashmir, cease-fires, peace processes, road maps...Diplomats, politicians and pundits the world over have been and will be arguing those for years. Safe in their new Movable Type-driven home, Sylvain of ChicagoBoyz points us to the hilarious answer to all our problems: Ethniklashistan.
UPDATE: ...and these people can be charged with mediating disputes. No point arming them, though - guns are evil and encourage violence.
Joe talks about the Congo and Burma, and generally asks what we will do if we are going to be faced with the Robert Kaplanesque question of what to do with the failing states in The Coming Anarchy? (If you haven't read his bleak book, you should.)
It seems that we're left with recolonialization on one hand, and a nation-scale version of what a Richard Price character called the 'self-cleaning oven' (in which drugs, disease and violence depopulate the slums of New Jersey) on the other. Joe has pointed out how limited our resources are; the possible options are few and hardly bring confidence. UN troops? Somehow Srebrenica is the image I always have; that and the helpless 'smurfs' of the film 'No Man's Land'.
But it seems that there is one point of leverage that we in the West have. Cash. I'm not talking about giving it, either; I'm talking about taking it....
The wars in these collapsing states are fought by would-be kleptocrats, who are essentially playing a brutal version of 'capture the flag' where once they have it, they control the sale of resources...diamonds, oil, tantalum, cocoa...into the international markets. Sales which take place for cash; dollars and euros to be stashed away by the ruling elites.
These brutal civil wars are worth fighting, not for power alone, but to appropriate the resources of the country and sell them. Take a look at this somewhat dry but exhaustive paper "Congo: The Prize of Predation" by Olssen and Congden (requires Acrobat viewer):
"They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing else, I suspect. They were conquerors and for that you want only brute force...They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at in blind - as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness." (From Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1989, p 21)Just as the engine for the gang wars in the inner city is fueled by the profits of the drug trade, the civil wars and ethnic and political friction in Africa and the less developed portions of Asia and South America provides the spark - but the desire to capture and sell the resources available is the real fuel.
Joseph Conrad’s description of king Leopold’s Congo Free State from 1899 applies as well to the predatory war that has been raging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1998. This war alone, fought in remote jungles by a multitude of rebel and national armies from the Great Lakes region, is believed to have taken some 3 million lives and left 2.5 million internally displaced.1 A primary reason for the initiation and continuation of the fighting has been a desire to gain control of easily appropriable and highly valuable natural resources like gold, diamonds, and coltan that Congo is endowed with (Panel of Experts, 2001a, 2001b). Though shrouded in a veil of real and fabricated grievances, the true engine of the great war in Central Africa appears to be greed.
Our study uses Collier and Hoeffer’s (2001) empirically based distinction between greed and grievance as the two main motivations for civil wars. The grievance aspect is well known and is covered in numerous political science studies. What we refer to as grievances include inequality, lack of political rights, and ethnic or religious divisions. Economists - schooled in the tradition of rational, profit maximizing entrepreneurs - and a growing number of other social scientists, have lately come to analyze civil wars as a competition between warlords for the appropriation of valuable resources. In Collier and Hoeffler's (2001) statistical investigation of civil wars from 1960 to 1999, they find that greed-related explanations have a greater explanatory power than grievance."
We buy those resources; we could, if we chose, find ways to choke off the supply of fuel to these conflicts. Is it worth it to us?
'Conflict diamonds' are those smuggled out by warlords, and sold in the international markets at a discount. When I next buy TG a jewel, I'll be helping finance one of the civil wars...or maybe, if I am prudent, not.
Think about it.
June 10/03: Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. This Regional Briefing focuses on Latin America, courtesy of Randy Paul. You'll notice Randy leans leftward; we think diversity of opinion makes for better briefings.
Today's Topics include: Castro's bad week, Hugo Chávez's continuing demagoguery in Venezuela, the Chilean economic model, implications of the recent free tade pact for FTAA, and the concerns for Guatemala if Efraín Rios Montt were to become President again...
The clock continues to tick to the August referendum, and with maneuvers such as this, one wonders if it will take place.
Long-time Winds of Change.NET readers will recall Steven den Beste and Trent Telenko's previous coverage of the E.U.'s animating spirit and goals. As a follow-up, a fascinating article in the Telegraph entitled "Back in the USSR for the EU's latest members" noted grave issues and alarming developments with respect to the E.U. and political freedoms (Hat Tip: WATCH/). Including this one:
"This is exactly what our communists did," said a Polish MP as he read the text. "They did not ban elections: we had elections all the time. They did not even ban opposition movements, at least not by the late Seventies. All they did was to ban the dissidents from contesting the elections."This matters. A lot. Here's why...
Let's start with the Telegraph's article's slightly tongue-in-cheek comparison:
"...Supreme power is wielded, not by parliamentarians, but by a 20-member politburo. The members of this politburo - Commissioners, as they are known - enjoy a privileged life: they are ferried around in black chauffeur-driven cars, and are exempt from several taxes. They rule by a series of five-year plans, micro-managing decisions that could perfectly well be taken at a lower level.Endemic corruption, design for insulation from voters, complete lack of serious internal accountability mechanisms, refusal to accept democratic votes that don't go their way (especially votes to leave the EU), recent sneaky attempts to short-circuit any democratic scrutiny of the new constitution, and now moves making it easy to ban political parties and control online speech, all in an atmosphere of general intolerance of dissent. Couple that with the hysteria, growth of mass hatred, and "dream palace" departures from reality we're seeing in many European quarters, and it's a pretty ugly pattern. We've been here before - and we did not enjoy the view.
The EU is not a tyranny: it does not throw its opponents into gulags or take away their passports. But it is becoming increasingly intolerant of dissent...."
No, the E.U. is not a tyranny - but anyone who has even casually read history should be worried - because it ceratinly looks like it's headed that way. All of the basic ingredients are being put in place, and require only political crises in which officials either insulate themselves further or strike back at their critics to push it farther and farther along a dark and well-worn path.
These tendencies are making the EU as envisaged an increasingly dangerous actor on the international stage. The events of the last century were no accident -- there is a deep, deep hole in Europe's soul, and it's still there. They are also practicioners of the Western Way of War, and that makes them doubly dangerous. We are wise to watch them very carefully, and to see the developing anti-democratic EU with trepidation.
The USA cannot intervene directly in these matters, but neither can it be indifferent. As this new constitution is pushed on member states and economics pressures them to accept, the window of opportunity is closing. America needs to promote trans-Atlantic free trade, in order to provide an economic alternative that makes the "new E.U." less of a fait accompli, and provides breathing space and future options for dissident nations should things begin to go seriously awry.
The time to act is now.
I picked this up from the Weekly Standard. We've covered Sami Al-Arian before (see my "money trail" piece, also news, video, revealing wiretaps, Jen's research, Parapundit's roundup) These 'learned men' seem to have a hold on reality that rivals Lyndon Larouche. The key text:
"To wit: The American Association of University Professors appears inclined to blacklist the University of South Florida (USF) -- by a formal, annual-convention vote of indefinite "censure" this coming Saturday -- as punishment for the steps that school has taken to terminate the employment of Prof. Sami Al-Arian. Whom we have met before, many times, in these pages. And whose decades-long "active extramural interest in Palestinian and Islamic developments," as AAUP investigators have blandly glossed the matter, has lately earned him solitary confinement at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County, Florida, pending trial on a detailed, massive, multi-count terrorism-conspiracy indictment."
"The AAUP's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, advising the group's full membership about the proper disposition of the Al-Arian case, allows as how the good professor's alleged crimes are a "manifestly very serious" business. But Committee A believes it a more serious business that the crimes in question "remain to be proven in a court of law," since "the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' ought to be observed in our institutions of higher learning no less than it is in our courts." Setting an example for us all, then, the Committee formally embraces a wholecloth, wait-and-see presumption that Al-Arian's "extramural interest" has always been entirely innocent of criminal character and that it consequently falls "well within the ambit of academic freedom"--a sanctum that USF has violated by firing the man."What is it about modern American university professors that whenever America is at war, they have to join the other side?
This is the sort of thing that will guarantee eventual attacks by Republican run state legislatures against academic tenure and hiring practices. After all, university professors discriminate against Republicans in hiring, why not make political orientation a "diversity goal" in professorial hiring and tenure decisions?
Update: Little Green Footballs seems to have beaten me to the punch.
FrontPageMagazine.com magazine had a symposium titled "The Death of France?" I found it a very interesting and provocative read on the decline of civil order in France. The money passage from the text:...
One of the key problems in this whole issue is the failure of integrating the majority of the Muslims living in France. From my perspective, this failure has many roots.It is the 'fourth root' that catches my eye. It is the same western multiculturalist self-hate we often see on American universites, but in France it is in the grade and high schools because of the centralized nature of French education.
First root: The unemployment rate in France is very high. It’s often very difficult for a young Muslim in France to find a job. Some discrimination exists, it’s impossible to hide it. If France was stronger economically speaking and if there was no unemployment we would be on the way to find a solution.
Second root: France is a welfare state where it’s easy to earn more money asking for assistance than looking for a job. In many families, and now many Muslim families, assistance has become a way of life. If you spend your days doing nothing, you can start to have temptations. If you see drug dealers driving around in fancy cars, your temptations take shape.
Third root: For years, the police have been very weak. Law and order have disappeared in the most part of the suburbs of the big cities. If you think it’s not too risky to become a dealer, you become a dealer. If you see the police are afraid of you, you lose respect for the police and finally, you lose respect for the French government.
Fourth root: In schools, leftist teachers teach young Muslims that France colonized their countries and that the French army committed atrocities. The result: many young Muslims hate France. It’s not their fault it’s the fault of French education.
Fifth root: For years, France has permitted to countries like Saudi Arabia to build many mosques and to send many radical imams to preach in these mosques. The result is a new generation of young radical Muslims.
This shows one of the few advantages of the current American decentralized school system. It is far harder to spread such self-destructive memes through the whole of American education system because the funding and accountability is far more decentralized. It takes far more work, by more people, in a large number of places for a politically correct orthidoxy to take hold.
The down side is that state level school district funding equalization mandated by the Federal courts is pushing us closer to the French school model every day. This push to make school district funding equal despite differences in property tax bases between high income suburban school districts and poorer rural and urban school districts is shaping up to be a bigger Federal Court screw up than school desegregation via forced busing.
UPDATE: Steven Den Beste has a whole slew of recent posts on the decline of civil order in France, and several are letters from France itself: A Letter from France | French breakdown | Another Letter from France | Tolerating the intolerable: why I'm worried | A 3rd Letter from France.
JUNE 09/03: Welcome! Our goal is to give you one fast, power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror every Monday & Thursday that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Venomous Kate of Electric Venom.
Topics include: gun amnesty in Iraq amid ongoing resistance; radioactive contamination; U.S. Homeland Security's cybersecurity division; renewed attacks attempting to derail the Middle Eastern peace process; and foiled terror attacks in Russia.
Victor Davis Hanson is also a California farmer, so when he writes about Mexican illegals he does so from long acquaintance. "The Universe of the Illegal Alien" is Hanson at his best, combining the narrative skill and logos that make him a prize-winning historian and columnist with a keen eye for inner states and telling details. That eye is turned on both the immigrants themselves and the land they come to, blending optimism and celebration with remorseless realism to produce a balanced and human portrait of illegal Mexican aliens in the USA.
This article doesn't fit any ideological template I know. Which is just one of the reasons why you should read it.
Oxblog wants us to "flood the zone" on Myanmar. Fine - have we got a doozy for you. On Friday, Armed Liberal ran a story about business lobby groups opposing sanctions against this regime and others. Meanwhile, Randy of Beautiful Horizons broke a story that needs more attention on the Right side of the aisle.
John Ashcroft has filed an amicus brief seeking to get Unocal off the hook for using forced labor in the construction of an oil pipeline in Myanmar, one of the world's most despotic regimes. More commentary can be found here. As for my take...
First of all, I'm trying to see the difference here between the kind of behaviour Armed Liberal describes and shilling for Saddam's regiume because he had favourable oil contracts with your state oil company. Bluntly, I can't because it's the same damn thing.
Is it worse to shill for evil because it puts money in your pocket, as opposed to being motivated by political onanism? At least the former benefits someone, but in the end the result is similar. It's not possible to credibly hate the Saddam appeasement crowd while excusing this sort of thing. Just as ANSWER, Galloway et. al. need to be exposed as shills, so do these people.
As for Ashcroft - buddy, this is slave labour we're talking about. Is there something about "land of the free and home of the brave" you're not getting here? America may not be able to close the laogai, gulags, and related practices that fester in the world's totalitarian hellholes, but that doesn't mean you have to file legal briefs on behalf of those who profit from them.
It's (remotely) possible that there's a reasonable explanation for this, but it will have to come from somewhere else because I sure can't think of one. Maybe it is time for a new Attorney General down there. I initially wrote off the attacks on Ashcroft as typical leftist hysteria given their content and style, but an accumulation of events is starting to convince me that maybe they were right and I was wrong. Whatever was Ashcroft thinking in this case? Was he thinking?
Bueller? Anyone... Anyone?
· Law student Unlearned Hand comes through, with a case link and a additional background.
· Instapundit also weighs in with a useful Boston Globe article, and some trenchant observations.
· Max Power says Ashcroft's intervention is the right thing to do: "Simply put, the DOJ is right: the Ninth Circuit has interpreted a jurisdictional statute to create a private cause of action, and it's an incorrect view of the law that has allowed the hijacking of the courts to make extraterritorial claims for political purposes." He also distinguishes the case from Filartiga. Is he right? Read this, read him, and decide.
· Oxblog comments. Their dilemma is mine, too, but I might lean the other way on this one.
Howard Owens asks 10 key questions about Saddam's WMD program and the failure to find evidence thus far. What makes his post so unusual is that he then gives the Yes, No and sometimes even the Maybe answers for each question. A cool, rational outline of the current debate, motivated by interest in the issue not partisanship. Very well done.
UPDATE: Instapundit has a more partisan roundup of posts on this issue. Partisan, but excellent and compelling.
On Friday, I analyzed the situation in the Congo, where a couple million people may well be dead from the ravages of ethnic warfare, unrelenting banditry, and the secondary effects of that situation. The U.N. has had peacekeepers there since 1998, of course, to predictably little effect. Could the USA help (nope, no capacity left)? What was the history of recent stabilization attempts in Africa, and what do they teach us (mixed, be serious or begone)? What would success require (20,000-50,000 internatrional troops, with serious fire support and a no-guff attitude)? Would the "international community" step up to serious responsibility (that's the big question).
Coincidentally, Michael Totten chimed in with a pretty good piece of his own: "The Globalization of Chaos". To really understand what's going on, however, you also need to delve into the history of the area. Flit doesn't think much of Andrew Sullivan's cited analysis. In its place, however, he does an outstanding job tracing the present situation from its roots 40 years ago, to its entanglement in the Rwandan genocide and the U.N.'s role in facilitating same, to the present and its shifting set of players, and finally the economic connections to Tantalum, a metal used in the production of electronics. If you're serious about the Congo, this set of blog posts are must-reads.
"Not Joining the Congo Line," also argues that active U.N. intervention in the Congo would undermine every one of the principles it claims to stand for, and Flit may have a good case here. Intervention would have seismic consequences, starting with the U.N. but not ending there by any means...
Old Situation, Older Options
Let's start with Flit's appraisal:
"The people directly responsible for all this are the same Hutu leaders, and their successors, who organized the genocide in Rwanda. Practically coddled by humanitarian agencies after they fled across the border to escape justice for genocide, they were able with that assistance to set up a Kurtz-style jungle quasistate in east Congo. From there, they've continued to kill Tutsis whereever they find them. (It's as if in 1945, all the pro-Nazi Germans had fled across the German border, and continued to terrorize a German state now largely populated by the remaining Jews.) The Rwandans first tried putting Kabila Sr. in power, who sold them out to the Hutus... then they just occupied the quasi-state themselves.That doesn't mean nothing should be done, of course, and Flit does offer some suggestions. Even if Canada is literally incapable of participating. The thing is, many of Flit's suggestions hearken back to the 18th and 19th centuries rather than the 20th.
Still, there are the innocents to worry about. The west wants aid to start flowing again, and for that someone has to step in now that the Rwandans have gone. The trouble is that a peacekeeping force in the Congo now isn't a normal UN peacekeeping force.... No, if the UN goes, it's going to keep the Hutus down, and Kabila in power. How is that consistent, in any way, with the founding principles of this organization?"
The Congo Ideology-Trap
Therein lies the essence of the ideological trap that is The Congo: the vast disconnect between what's required for success, and the belief systems of the intervenors. Here's what I see as the requirements for a successful intervention that really stops the violence and allows a functioning and decent polity to emerge. All contrast dramatically with [the 20th century transnationalist mindset]:
Absent these kinds of measures, we can expect continued survival and mischief by those behind the current problems, more death, no stability, endless rounds of "peace process" that cannot realistically lead to real resolution, and an open-ended military commitment in perpetuity. That won't be forthcoming, especially if the effort is failing visibly due to other deficiencies. Which means failure is almost inevitable for intervention under the banner of the U.N. and/or the transnationalist mindset of the 20th century.
I could be wrong, of course. There could be a viable plan that somehow deals with the Congo's key issues without stepping on any major political or ideological toes, in which case the lesson would be mine. Personally, I can't imagine such a plan given the situation there. Which is precisely why I see a classic tragedy in the making.
That tragedy may come immediately, in efforts that are obviously a farce and don't even slow the conflict down (the "World Indifference/U.N. Failure" scenario). It may come early, in tales of horror and failure that either rival the situation in Rwanda (the "Rwanda Redux" scenario); or as a result of large-scale bloodshed by the international force and a backlash against a 'dirty war' that results in pullout (the "Somalia-Algeria" scenario). Alternatively, the failure may come only after a long and quasi-successful intervention that must be terminated even though the bad actors, intentions and capabilities all remain (the "Square One Relapse" scenario). Indeed, this is the very scenario that created the present crisis in the wake of Rwanda's pullout from the area. As Kim du Toit puts it: "Africa wins again."
Now comes the real mind-bender: I'm still a cheerleader for international intervention.
First of all, intervention might actually succeed. I'd call it lottery odds myself, but who knows? The humanitarian situation is compelling, and success would be a great accomplishment. Besides, as I noted back on Friday, it's an opportunity to prove that terms like "the international community" and "U.N. multilateralism" actually mean something in practical and moral terms. Let's see if they do.
Here's the other thing, too: failure and even tragedy might catalyze something equally important.
The Wages of Failure
The "problems from hell" of the 21st century are genocide, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. All fundamentally engage and challenge the same set of views and assumptions about independence and state sovereignty. Many aspects of that worldview are no longer appropriate to new social and technological realities, or to the threats they produce. As a civilization, we can't afford that kind of "stability." The willingness of some left-liberals to engage these Problems from Hell in a serious way and use force if necessary is a critical component of long-term civilizational health, and even failure may well be part of that re-learning process.
Without the self-examination that follows failure, the broken aspects of the 20th century's transnationalist worldview will not be seriously challenged from the left. Failure's aftermath would create precisely that challenge.
Does this mean the anti-Western left would vanish? Of course not. The murder of 3 million Cambodians by the Marxist Khmer Rouge didn't make a dent in their views, and neither will a few million more dead Congolese. Reasons will be found to blame America, and in most cases that will be the end of their examination.
Most cases, but not all. For some on the left, this would be a "Kronstadt moment" that calls their core beliefs into question. Meanwhile, the ensuing debates would dramatically pit the hard left against the liberal hawks. The left would once again be arguing for doing essentially nothing, and the liberals would be left unable to accept either the left's arguments or the prospect of a similar debacle next time. The Right would also be involved in the wider debate, but it too would be fragmented along internal fissures between neocons and classic Hamiltonian republicanism.
Amidst these tensions and predicaments, the ripple effects would be profound. Dramatic new ideas would likely take shape - and take root - across the political spectrum. That would be good for everyone, even if it does end up intensifying the nascent colonialism/neo-sovereignty debate in a big way.
Besides, as noted earlier there's always the outside possibility that planning an intervention could stretch peoples' thinking in ways that lead to success instead. That, too, would be an interesting learning experience for all concerned.
UPDATE: Excellent follow-up post on the most recent developments and military options at Belmont Club, a blog whose sub-title is "History, and history in the making."
Meanwhile, in "No New Colonialism," Michael Totten agrees with what has to be done but doesn't like the word. Never fear, Michael, a new word will come. As for the reality, these expeditions abroad must be financed somehow - and so the issue is real unless we create a better framework. I give you Gandalf: "Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good." Also Galadriel: "That is how it would begin. But it would not stop with that, alas!" Moral interventions abroad for non-strategic reasons is one area where the Left's reflexive distrust and societal scrutiny might serve it well for a change.
If you're thinking about it now that warmer weather is here, LaughingWolf has some tips.
"Chief Wiggles" from Fort Carson works with Iraqi prisoners. You wouldn't think that would make for a lot of good-news stories, but read his blog and you might change your mind. I'm not going to even try blogger permalinks - just head over and keep reading.
Idries Shah was certainly someone who lived the Sufi way. He recounted this tale in 1977, while being interviewed for the article "Grand Sheikh of the Sufis":
"An old traditional Sufi used to dress his disciples in patchwork cloaks and have them carry a beggar’s bowl and repeat certain formulae in order to concentrate their minds. He recommended that they eat mulberries off a certain tree.Sufi tales all contain multiple lessons, and they can be unpacked on multiple levels. What is this tale trying to say to us?
One day somebody said to him, "Suppose you went to a country where they didn't have patchwork, and you couldn't dress your disciples in cloaks. Suppose the seed coconut from which beggars' bowls are traditionally made was not available. Suppose mulberries were considered unlucky and suppose these repetitions which you require were considered socially undesirable. What would you do under those circumstances?"
And he said, "Ah, well, if I were under those circumstances, I would have to get myself a totally different kind of disciple!"
In keeping with Joe's desire for good news on a Sabbath Friday, I got an wonderful email today from Dave Trowbridge, author of the Redwood Dragon blog (and a few novels!). he and his partner Deborah (also a novelist of some renown) were among the first people in the blog community that I had a chance to meet.
About the good news...go take a look for yourself.
Congratulations to Dave and the lovely and talented Deborah!!
I didn't put anything up today to commemorate D-Day, because I assumed one of the others would; I'm sure the entire team did the same thing. So I'll jump in.
Today, the Allied nations took a risk that changed the world. They faced a frightening world that promised struggle, loss, and death to all of Europe and Asia. They took that bleak promise, conquered it, and created the most free and prosperous era in human history.
One of the discoveries we've made in the last year or so is that our world is no less challenging; now we need to show that we, too, can rise to the occasion.
Supporting Veterans is one way; sadly the current Administration seems to see it differently.
Someone ought to do something about that.
JK UPDATES: Correct diagnosis of what was going on. Glad A.L. stepped in. In addition:
New sanctions against Myanmar, where pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained for a week, would do nothing to force the government to relinquish power, a U.S. business coalition said Friday.
"The proposed new sanctions will bring ... neither freedom nor democracy to the Burmese people," said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council and co-chairman of USA Engage, a coalition of over 670 businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations opposed to unilateral sanctions.Surf over to the NFTC website, and notice that they oppose all boycott activity, including congresional atempts to limit business given to German and French companies in response to their psoitions on the Iraq War.
"Existing U.S. sanctions have accomplished exactly nothing -- other than to hurt a population that is in desperate need of economic aid," Reinsch said in a statement.
Engine Charlie lives; we obviously shouldn't let little things like politics get in the way of $366 million in annual import/export business.
Stephen Den Beste has an essay up (I can't bring myself to call them posts...) on Saddam's WMD efforts that reinforces my point about WMD and bad management.
SDB: "I just stumbled on a report that offers an interesting point which might help explain just what happened with the apparently-missing Iraqi WMDs: the ones they did have were actually mostly destroyed, and in their frantic attempts to acquire the materials necessary to produce new ones, they ended up tossing money around like a drunken sailor, and got ripped off."Check out the rest. It goes a long way to answering my two questions on the subject:
SDB: "I think that it isn't that they voluntarily disarmed; it's that they tried to acquire the stuff they needed to rebuild their stockpiles and got rooked, again and again."That pretty neatly answers:
AL: "...two things (both of which get trumped if they actually find the Secret Underground WMD Factories) - why Saddam would risk war to hide weapons he knew he didn't have, and why Bush would risk lying about something so crucial, when it would be impossible for the lie not to get caught."
I'm not sure if I'm proud or ashamed... I'm one of the winners of Oxblog's 'Political Theory Pickup Lines' contest.
In light of the recent scandals, however, and in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I cribbed part of it. I was once at a small restaurant in Santa Cruz with a date, also a political theory student, when we heard the smarmy chap at the next table croon to his date:
"I just want to go home with you, sit in front of the fire. sip some chardonnay, and discuss Wittgenstein's warm humanism."...
As my date had just finished a paper on Wittgenstein, and Annie Hall was fresh in our memory (and I was a proto-Tucker Max at the time), we stood as one and said "What? Warm humanism? Do you have any idea what you're talking about? Have you ever read one of his books? Can you name one? We don't think so." and sat down at our table.
The gentleman followed us and we had a 'full and frank exchange of views', and then all decided to leave the restaurant before the police showed up.
Actually, this post isn't about willingness at all. It's about the saying above as literal truth: no new blood left. When we look at the U.S. military and its commitments in Iraq, current peacekeeping missions, and Korean contingency forces - they're more than fully booked right now (Hat Tip: One Hand Clapping, who also has a great quote).
So, what are the implications for the Congo? We'll start by defining "fully booked"...
"Therefore, aside from one brigade of the 82nd airborne, and two brigades of the 10th mountain, the regular army's manpower is essentially ALL either in use in Iraq, in use in Afghanistan, in use for peacekeeping, or needed for Korea contingencies..."Bottom line: downsizing the military has had real consequences. When it comes to troops, you can't do more with less - you can only do less with less. At its current size the U.S. military is already stretching its reserve forces just to stay current, using many of them on extended commitments that may have them absent from their civilian jobs for over a year. They cannot take on new commitments without a full national wartime mobilization. Britain is in a similar situation, and in fairness Germany is pretty busy too.
This shouldn't be surprising. Even a hyperpower can't do it all, especially in an era where the old colonial approach of small imperial forces plus large local levies and utterly ruthless tactics are not an option. If something is to be done about the slaughter in the Congo, therefore, other nations will need to place significant combat formations on the ground.
Sierra Leone showed that it's possible to fix African chaos with small forces, as long as they're quality troops willing to aggressively kill those involved in and organizing the violence. That's how 800 British soldiers succeeded where 8,000 U.N. "peacekeepers" had been routed. That said, Sierra Leone is about 1/30 the size of the Congo, a country with almost 5 times as much land area as Iraq.
The present group of 1,000 or so peacekeepers, uselessly present since 1998, is a PR joke and a moral evasion, not a solution. When "peacekeeping" troops are asking to be allowed to use their weapons to protect endangered civilians, one quickly sees how deep the farce goes. The genocide in Rwanda was no accident, it was a predictable consequence that happened with Kofi Annan's direct and connivance. Srebrenica was no accident. Another 3 million+ dead in Congo is no accident, either - it is a direct consequence of the choices the U.N. and its Security Council have made to date.
If this is going to be done to international standards for protecting civilians, etc., I'd say even a no holds barred force that's serious about bringing the death toll to a halt will need to be 20,000-50,000 strong, with on-call air support, helicopter and medium transport planes, armor (armored cars or LAVs will do), and artillery. They'll also have to be prepared to shoot first, take no guff, and impose peace.
This is where we find out if terms like "the international community" and "multilateral" have any actual meaning and effect. Or any moral significance, for that matter. Everyone wishing for the USA to be less dominant - you just got your wish. I'm deeply curious to see what other countries like France, China, Egypt, India, Italy, Indonesia, Turkey et. al. with large militaries, significant wealth, or both, do with this situation.
Bosnia/Kosovo was a turning point for many liberals, the genesis of a new generation of liberal hawks whose attitudes played an important role post-9/11. Read the liberal blogosphere, and you can see similar memes at work again. I'm glad to see it, and I sense another turning point on the way - but something tells me this one will owe more to the aftermath of tragedy than the afterglow of triumph.
--- UPDATES ---
· I've got a major follow-up piece that offers more local background and history on how this conflict developed, looks at the vast gulf between what 's required and the 20th-century transnationalist mindset, and analyzes this turning point concept in more detail.
· Michael Totten has a very good piece called "The Globalization of Chaos." Solid commentary from a center-liberal perspective, and even some thoughts on what we might do. As he notes:
"The defining feature of the 21st Century is the globalization of chaos. We have no system to handle all this, and we cannot ignore it much longer."More confirmation in my mind that this is another turning point for many liberals... maybe more of a turning point than they think.
· Flit says Canada is fully booked as well. He's right, but our capabilities are so meager I thought that fact hardly worth mentioning.
· Does ChicagoBoyz have the answer? No, but this is fantastic satire.
· Newsrack has some good links, and reminds us not to forget Zimbabwe, either, and includes action links & addresses. Strong non-military options still have a chance to make a difference there - though I think the only way to really solve that problem is ultimately assassination, an uprising trained, led, and supplied via Western Special Forces, or invasion.
An Orthodox Jewish Rabbi wrote this series in such a way that they retain their value no matter what creed you follow. Think of it as a gentle way of sharing a community's long history of accumulated wisdom.
This installment is all about laughter - understanding its dynamics, and using its cutting edge to gain perspective and defuse tension. On a deeper level, he says, laughter teaches us how G-d interacts with the world.
UPDATE: Here's a relevant example from Israel. "Only In Israel" indeed.
"Winds of War" is popular as a quick update on the "stuff that matters" in the War on Terror. But what about the wider world? Winds of Change.NET is going to begin featuring monthly Regional Briefings on Tuesdays & Wednesdays to provide a fast, convenient summary of significant and interesting events shaping these areas. It's a good cross-promotion opportunity for specialist blogs with real background in a specific area - though we also accept talented non-bloggers. The June roster is:
I'm also wondering what interest would be like in Regional Briefings for Europe (incl. Russia); and Central Asia (the "-stans" and Afghanistan). Do you want these? Is this something Winds of Change.NET should be doing? Let us know via the Comments section.
June 5/03: Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused.
Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you with the help of Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. Topics include military action, demonstrations, found money, recommendations on next steps from a former human shield, and WMD in Iraq; plus Korean troop deployments, Iranian fragmentation, a Saudi "Qaeda Nostra" family, the Roadmap, Kashmir's dirty little secret, and efforts by al-Qaeda abroad to reconstruct itself - esp. in the Phillipines.
Ray at Pseudorandom Thoughts is one of the few other blogs out there that I would expect to find citing "Studies in Intelligence" magazine. If you're a blogger or a writer, and you're serious about doing good analysis of foreign events and cultures, veteran CIA analyst Martin Petersen has some excellent and detailed advice. His audience is tougher, which means his tips for success are well honed....
As Petersen notes:
"The key is not our objectivity.... The key is our ability to put the political behavior that policymakers see into a larger cultural and historical context - that they do not see - with enough sophistication to demonstrate that the context matters.... Following the daily traffic can make you current; absent expertise in these areas, you cannot be credible."Doesn't apply to the blogosphere? Ask Steven Den Beste. I've had people ask me how he built up such a following. Whether you agree or disagree with his views or the contexts he chooses, this is the mechanism.
Petersen goes on to talk about the 6 achievements that enable depth and credibility in one's analysis:
Of special relevance to the blogosphere, however, are Petersen's thoughts on things analysts can do "to help themselves when the evidence is thin and the situation is moving quickly":
Here's a great quote, which will probably make steam come out the ears of the Samizdata types:
The crucial point to understand is that property is not a physical thing that can be photographed or mapped. Property is not a primary quality of assets but the legal expression of an economically meaningful consensus about assets. Law is the instrument that fixes and realized capital. In the West, the law is less concerned with representing the physical realities of buildings or real estate than with providing a process or rules that will allow society to extract potential surplus value from those assets. Property is not the assets themselves, but the consensus between people as to how these assets should be held, used, or exchanged. The challenge today in most non-Western countries is not to put all the nation's land and buildings on the same map (which has probably already been done) but to integrate the formal legal conventions inside the bell jar with the extralegal ones outside it.Just finished reading De Soto's The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. For the four people who read blogs and haven't heard of this book, Hernando De Soto is a Peruvian economist who is very concerned with issues of development in the Third World, and who points out that there is substantial wealth in the underground economies, and that if there was a way to bring those econonomies into the mainstream, very good things would happen.
Read this book!
Hillsdale College consistently gets the most amazing speakers, then puts their speeches on the web under the "Imprimis" banner. Trent Telenko alerted the team to "The American Media in Wartime" (starting in July 2003, use this link instead). A quick excerpt...
"This level of imperviousness to reality is remarkable. It is consistent and it continues over time. I think about this phenomenon a lot. I worry and wonder about the fact that so many people can get things so wrong, so badly, so often, so consistently and so repeatedly. And I think that there are ideas lurking under the surface that help to explain why this happens."Brit Hume has twice been voted "best in the business" by the American Journalism Review. I have to say, he makes some very good points.
Forget Iraqi WMDs and al-Qaeda... how about important issues, like Sammy Sosa and his corked bat? I must admit, when I first heard his claim about accidentally using a batting practice bat, I thought: "b----t!" All 76 of his bats were confiscated at the time, however, and X-Rays show all 76 are legit. So was the bat used to hit Home Run #498.
What this means is that Sosa might actually be telling the truth here. He'll still get a 10-game suspension, of course. As he should.
Oubai Mohammad Shahbandar, an American university student born in Syria, has an open letter that's worth your time (Hat Tip: Diana Moon):
"They have never known the humiliation of living under the iron rule of an Islamic despotism. I have. They have never tasted the cruel bitterness of forced silence in the shadows of a dictatorship. I have. They have never seen the face of evil. I have. For I was born and raised in Syria, the country enslaved by Hafez El-Assad. I was one of the fortunate victims of this tyranny because my family was able to emigrate to American a land of freedom. Yet in the free universities of this country legitimacy is bestowed on the very forces that oppress my former countrymen and I am instructed to be compassionate towards my own oppressors and to be hostile to the country that has liberated me..."You'll never hear this from CAIR or the MSA. Hopefully, post-Iraq Oubai's attitude will be contagious. Says Diana: "where there's one, there's more."
I did have a very rewarding experience, though. Each unit has $25K captured currency from the regime that we must use to do projects that will improve the community. The theory is a series of small victories will help us win over the people. So we provided supplies, AC's, and other necessities to a school and two orphanages.Sure sounds like someone is paying attention to 'hearts and minds'.
Motorcycle road racing and world political news...how much better can it get?
Remember how I said that Thomas Freidman vacillates between genius and incoherence? Go over to the NYTimes right now, and read some of the former:
...Because there were actually four reasons for this war: the real reason, the right reason, the moral reason and the stated reason.(fixed the link; thanks, Dan!) Continued...
The "real reason" for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Afghanistan wasn't enough because a terrorism bubble had built up over there - a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. This terrorism bubble said that plowing airplanes into the World Trade Center was O.K., having Muslim preachers say it was O.K. was O.K., having state-run newspapers call people who did such things "martyrs" was O.K. and allowing Muslim charities to raise money for such "martyrs" was O.K. Not only was all this seen as O.K., there was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die.I can't believe this isn't all over...go read the whole thing, and tell your friends.
The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble. Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world. And don't believe the nonsense that this had no effect. Every neighboring government - and 98 percent of terrorism is about what governments let happen - got the message. If you talk to U.S. soldiers in Iraq they will tell you this is what the war was about.
Military analysts use the word "threat" to describe a possible adversary's capabilities, without reference to his intentions. If our intentions were as bad as many of the world's horror regimes, we'd use our fantastic power to make ourselves slaveowners over the whole world. Hell, if our intentions were even as bad as those of the Chirac Administration, the world would be in for a very rough ride.Continued...
Since there's absolutely no chance that America will ever deliberately diminish herself militarily just to make other regimes comfortable, all we can do is promote our intentions. This will be a matter of both words and deeds, and the congruence between them.
I told the story of my Subaru-driving pacifist, and highlighted Barbara Streisand's hypocrisy exactly because that congruence between what we say we believe and how we act is absolutely critical.
It is critical for us - as liberals and Americans in general - to figure out how to bring our values and lives at least somewhat into line, and it is absolutely critical for us as a nation to use our power in ways that are consistent with what we tell the world we believe and intend to do.
Francis, thanks for bringing some clarity on this.
by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis
Some warbloggers like myself tend to notice certain names that keep popping up in the most unlikely of places when it comes to al-Qaeda operatives. The webmasters over at Rantburg and Alphabet City certainly do. Like a bad penny, the al-Ghamdi name just keeps turning up...
As Alphabet City has correctly noted, the mastermind behind the Riyadh bombings is none other than Ali Abdul Rahman al-Ghamdi, who was turned over to Saudi Arabia by Iran but then subsequently released.
A Tora Bora veteran, Ali Abdul Rahman, also known as Ali Abd Rahman al-Faqasi, was initially reported to have been arrested on May 15. Then both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported his arrest on May 28. This would generally be enough to convince most people that he had indeed been detained despite the earlier ambiguity. On June 1, however, Prince Nayef's Interior Ministry (which initially claimed he had been captured on May 15) is describing him as being among those wanted for involvement in the Riyadh bombing. So what exactly is going on in Saudi Arabia?
In any event, it is important to note that at least three of the suspected al-Qaeda operatives who have actually been detained by Saudi authorities also bear the al-Ghamdi surname. What I suspect we're seeing here is that the Saudi al-Qaeda are linked to one another by tight familial or tribal ties and covered for by official collusion, much the same way the Greek November 17 terrorists were. If true, it may explain how the network is able to operate so securely there.
This was too much fun not to share. It looks like Klinger of M.A.S.H. fame was only 50 years early...
Women's panty liners ï¿½ an absorbent patch with an adhesive back ï¿½ are perfect for mopping a sweat-basted brow that bakes under a helmet.
"They'll put them in the front of their hats and helmets as a sweat band," Burt said while driving a Humvee with a blue plastic box of Softs baby wipes next to her seat. Otherwise, the hat band gets sweaty and dirty. Next thing you know, there's a stripe of pimples across your forehead.
"You can break out real bad," she said, yanking off her floppy cap and showing the grimy hat band.
For those long marches, pantyhose are just the thing to replace the chafing of socks and boots with the swish of nylon. You don't wear the whole thing, just the part below the knees, Karm said while breakfasting on a tray of waffles with blueberry compote.
I can just see the commercials:
WAR IS HELL! And chasing down Islamofascists in the desert is hard work, but Cottonell baby wipes make it bearable!
It's going to be fun to watch.
June 4/03: The War on Terrorism is a World War. While most of the world focuses on the Middle East, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups retreat to South America, Africa and especially Asia where several counter insurgency conflicts continue.
This monthly Regional Briefing will focus on South Asia, courtesy of Robi Sen. Today we cover Israeli technology to India, shifting alliances on the sub-continent, Islamic terrorism throughout SE Asia, and a superb historical book that offers insights into the current War on Terror...
I ran across this article on the Free Republic Web site. It is a series of interviews with escapees from North Korea reporting the outbreak of widespread human cannibalism. I don't know the credibility of the english language Japanese source, but it looks good and makes for chilling reading.
This passage hit me square between the eyes....
Witness B:If the story in the article is true, the break-up of North Korea is not far off.
A 54-year-old North Korean refugee named Lee who escaped from his country with his granddaughter said, "My two grandsons, ages 11 and 8, were sacrificed for the survival of other North Koreans,
"On the day I discovered that my grandsons were missing, I visited other houses searching, but I could not find them. I asked my grandsons'friends where they were. They said that my grandsons disappeared near the black market."
The next day, Mr. Lee visited the black market. He met the parents of his grandsons' friends who were missing as well. They too were searching for their sons. They told Mr. Lee that their sons disappeared at a noodle restaurant near the black market.
Mr. Lee reported the problem to the police department. The police raided the noodle restaurant and found human hands and feet in a pot of kimchi, Korean pickles. Police also found human bones in a garbage pit in the backyard.
The female owner of the noodle restaurant confessed that she had served noodle to the children and had invited them to stand by a stove to get warm. When they fell asleep, she killed them with an axe.
The murderers were shot in public.
The corruption in North Korean life is such that roving bands of Army soldiers are stealing the peasents blind. And they are only the bottom of the kleptocracy as I talked about in "North Korea's Tony Sopranos" and Tom Holsinger mentioned over on Strategypage.com in his "Gangster Confederacy" column. Japan's Weekly Post goes on to say:
"The Kim regime appears to be on the verge of collapse."The "He," of course, is 'Supreme Commander-in-Chief Kim Jong Il.'
"Mr. Kato, a military analyst said, "Each division is financially independent. It has to acquire all of its own equipment, fuel, foods, shoes, uniforms and blankets for their soldiers. The Trading Section of the Logistic Bureau of each division is responsible for financing and distributing these supplies. The Trading Section has enormous power. It has many interests with suppliers including foreign trading firms. Therefore, the Trading Section staff commit fraud in managing foreign currencies or dealing with foreign trading companies, "Those who lose power struggles escape to China before they are sent to concentration camps."
According to one Chinese trading businessman in the NKAF report, several North Korean commanders were sent to China in order to purchase military supplies. A Chinese trading firm invited them to dinner. After alchohol had loosened their lips, they said, "That man is filling his own pockets, but soldiers are starving. He is so involved with women that he doesn't event think of getting comfortable shoes for his soldiers,
"He is ignoring soldiers who are dying from starvation. He doesn't care."
God help the South Koreans when the North Falls. They are going to have millions of "Donner Party" survivors on their hands.
Last week, Winds of Change.NET featured 2 posts critical of the USAF's decision to phase out the A-10 "Warthog" ground attack aircraft (Air Force Myopia: A-10's End? | Sic Transit Warthog). Gen. Hal Hornburg responds to the NY Times article that started it all with a letter to the Editor. He concludes with:
"The capability the A-10 brings to the joint force is one of our top priorities, so much so that we are building a concept of operations that will ensure that every one of our Air Force weapons-delivering aircraft will possess the capability to conduct close air support in the most demanding threat environments."With respect, sir, this is hogwash...
Close air support requires a very different kind of plane to do it effectively: good low-and-slow flight characteristics, stable, with a heavy gun, incredible redundancy, and heavy armor protection. That's what "close air support in the most demanding threat environments" takes. Putting those features on a "multi-role" aircraft would make it unsuitable for other roles, which is why the close air support features are always removed or cut back first. The result is inevitably a plane full of engineering half-measures, made more expensive by ridiculous demands that it should be both a close air support aircraft for "the most demanding environments" and a dogfighter able to hold its own with MiG-29s and Rafales.
That's how we get to a more expensive air force, with fewer and fewer expensive planes to carry out its mission. That's the death spiral of Pentagon procurement. In contrast, the A-10s cost less. A lot less. They do the close air support (CAS) job better. A lot better. Why? Because they are totally designed to do one job. It's a job that directly saves lives, and it's critical to the joint functioning that gives the U.S. Armed Forces their lethal punch. CAS needs a specialist aircraft, not "multi-role" half measures.
"The fox knows many tricks," goes the saying, "the hedgehog knows one good one." Sometimes, it seems like the Air Force knows only one trick - and it isn't very good.
UPDATES: I can't say it any better than Robin Goodfellow does in the Comments section:
"The A-10 is an armor killing monster, the Apache is merely an armor killing animal, the JSF has armor killing functions. Which would you want on your side?"Bravo.
Mojito has a more optimistic Comment: either the report was wrong about the early Warthog phase-out, or General Deptula is backtracking now. Good! As 49erDweet notes, It still doesn't fix the longer-term mistake of replacing cheap, excellent, dedicated-use A-10s with expensive, less-capable F-35 multirole aircraft. The F-35 will be a fine airplane, and it will be called on for ground attack just like the F-18 it replaces. It just isn't as good at CAS as the Warthog, which could simply be reproduced with new engines, electronics and weapons and still be the best CAS plane there is in 2020 for less than half the price of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
I typically commute around the traffic-choked Los Angeles basin by motorcycle; today, I was following a Subaru with "No Blood for Oil" and "War is not the Answer" bumper stickers. I had just finished the uncharitable thought that putting "No Blood for Oil" bumper stickers on cars seems kind of like an oxymoron, when we came to a red light and I pulled next to the car.
The driver, a woman my age (middle), rolled down her window and gestured at me.
"Your lights are flashing"
I ride with a headlamp modulator by Kisan Products, that flashes my motorcycle's headlights between dipped and high beams about once every other second. I find that it aids greatly in being seen by cars, a useful trait in safe motorcycling. About once a week, people point it out to me, thinking it means something is wrong with my motorcycle. I lifted my helmet visor and went into my typical response.
"Thanks! I know, it's supposed to do that. It worked! You saw me!" All in a cheerful tone.
"It's horrible! It's giving me a headache!"
Periodically, it annoys people. I have a response to that, too.
"I'm sorry! It doesn't bother most people."
"Well, it's giving me a headache. And you ought to be careful because it might make someone so angry they'll run you over one day!"
"Wow, that's not very peaceful, is it?" I replied, maintaining eye contact.
She rolled up her window and drove off.
Ironically, we were on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, not too far from Barbara Streisand's estate, featured in this, from the L.A. Times (registration required, use 'laexaminer''laexaminer'):
Barbra Streisand has filed a lawsuit against an amateur photographer, claiming he is violating her privacy by displaying a picture of her bluff-top Malibu estate on a Web site designed to document erosion and excessive development along California's 1,150-mile coastline.Look at this:
The lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Santa Monica, besides seeking $10 million in damages, asks retired software engineer Kenneth Adelman to remove the image of Streisand's mansion from the 12,000 photos he has posted on http://www.californiacoastline.org . Adelman and his wife, Gabrielle, have been snapping pictures for months from their helicopter to show the splendors of the coastline and what they consider environmental threats.
Democrats need to speak on TV, on radio, on the Internet and in the newspapers about the election and keep hammering home the legislative favors Bush is granting his corporate supporters in exchange for their campaign contributions. Journalists need to spend the same amount of energy and resources investigating Bush and Cheney as they spent over the past decade investigating the Democrats. Democrats need to organize, to motivate, to inspire the disillusioned citizens and the disenfranchised voters of this country who think their votes don't matter. Democrats must reach out to voters who want sane gun control, voters who want to protect choice, voters dedicated to saving the environment.Or this:
What Did You Expect?The quotes, of course, are from Barbara Streisand.
Posted on Nov. 25, 2002
It has started. Protections of people and of our environment are already being gutted by the Bush administration in favor of corporations and profit.
The first environmental protection to go? Clean Air. On Friday, the Bush administration announced it would loosen industrial air pollution rules - resulting in dirtier skies, sicker people and richer corporations.
The bugbear of small minds...
(fixed typo - 'basis' for 'basin')
Thomas Friedman, who frustratingly cycles between brilliance and incoherence (hey, who am I to talk...I manage the incoherence part pretty well) has an interesting 'theory of everything' column up (hat tip to Atrios):
During the 1990's, America became exponentially more powerful ... economically, militarily and technologically ... than any other country in the world, if not in history. Broadly speaking, this was because the collapse of the Soviet empire, and the alternative to free-market capitalism, coincided with the Internet-technology revolution in America. The net effect was that U.S. power, culture and economic ideas about how society should be organized became so dominant (a dominance magnified through globalization) that America began to touch people's lives around the planet ... "more than their own governments," as a Pakistani diplomat once said to me. Yes, we began to touch people's lives ... directly or indirectly ... more than their own governments.
...I'm working on my response, but I'll open by suggesting that there's more than a thread of truth in this.
Why didn't nations organize militarily against the U.S.? Michael Mandelbaum, author of "The Ideas That Conquered the World," answers: "One prominent international relations school ... the realists ... argues that when a hegemonic power, such as America, emerges in the global system other countries will naturally gang up against it. But because the world basically understands that America is a benign hegemon, the ganging up does not take the shape of warfare. Instead, it is an effort to Gulliverize America, an attempt to tie it down, using the rules of the World Trade Organization or U.N. ... and in so doing demanding a vote on how American power is used."
Hence, 9/11. This is where the story really gets interesting. Because suddenly, Puff the Magic Dragon ... a benign U.S. hegemon touching everyone economically and culturally ... turns into Godzilla, a wounded, angry, raging beast touching people militarily. Now, people become really frightened of us, a mood reinforced by the Bush team's unilateralism. With one swipe of our paw we smash the Taliban. Then we turn to Iraq. Then the rest of the world says, "Holy cow! Now we really want a vote over how your power is used."
"Where we are now," says Nayan Chanda, publications director at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization (whose Web site http://yaleglobal.yale.edu is full of valuable nuggets), "is that you have this sullen anger out in the world at America. Because people realize they are not going to get a vote over American power, they cannot do anything about it, but they will be affected by it."
Finding a stable way to manage this situation will be critical to managing America's relations with the rest of the globe. Any ideas? Let's hear 'em: email@example.com.
The imbalance of power he mentions is a key part of the dynamic that's driving foreign relations. Our inability to get people to understand that Puff The Magic Dragon had teeth is one of the other. One thing you learn in martial arts is that you can cause fights by being both too belligerent and too meek; the art is finding a middle path.
bq. "Ayo says she got the idea for the piece after years of being in all-white settings, fielding questions from people wanting to touch her hair, and playing the role of cultural ambassador."
Weekend Pundit reminds us about several weapon systems in the Pentagon's pipeline. Each offers a piece of the technological puzzle represented by the term "transformation." Each has strengths and limitations, too, which will be hotly debated. Still, it's a good introduction. As WP puts it: "prepare to be amazed."
Still, each weapon will also have to find its way into practice and changed doctrine before it can make a real difference. In that critical respect, it's no different than the new technology you sometimes see at work. What matters is how it's used, how it matches needs on the ground, and how it fits into new and more effective ways of doing things. Otherwise, it can easily become a waste.
What does that mean for a military, exactly? For a very detailed (and sometimes quite technical) look, you'll want to read this set of after-action reviews by the U.S. Marines in the wake of Gulf War II. How their gear performed, what they need, what worked, what didn't.
UPDATE: Maj. Donald Sensing (ret.) looks into the Marines' AAR and focuses in on infantry rifle combat in Gulf War II. How has it changed over the last 50 years?
Every technology can be used in good and bad ways. Cigar-sized USB storage devices are handy and convenient. As this article notes, they're handy and convenient for other things like kiddie porn and criminal files as well.
This is an interesting harbinger in a couple of ways. On the one hand, it's just one more development that law enforcement needs to consider. Thus it has ever been, of course, and there are many ways to work around or even with this development. I'm sure they'll figure it out.
It's also one more piece of evidence that the effort to stop file-sharing is essentially useless, unless technology is built with so many lockdowns and surveillance modes in it that it becomes a threat to freedom generally. As SparcVark put it:
"I think what's happening here is that RIAA is coming up against the philosophical issue of limits of control. Like it or not, they're competing against file piracy. Barring a totalitarian state, file sharing will continue. It's too difficult to lock down entirely without the collusion of OS programmers and the like."Which does indeed describe the Orwellian vision of the RIAA et. al., and makes recent moves like the recent Microsoft/AOL settlement worthy of our attention as potential stepping-stones along that path. As Armed Liberal correctly notes, Self-policing has its limits.
What RIAA seeks is not only a threat to our well-being and liberties in and of itself; it is also an ideal enabler of far greater threats once implemented. Industry self-policing won't protect us, and the political system hasn't shown much interest either. Citizens will need to change that, or forfeit an important part of our future.
In an age where technology developments and the logic of "Cyberocracy" are breaking down the traditional barriers between public and private, governments are not the only source of serious regulatory-type threats to our freedoms. That's a difficult argument for some conservatives to swallow, but it's where the logic of events and devlopments is pushing us. This dawning recognition will be one more tectonic slip in the political realignments that are rearranging left and right.
In the comments section on Good/Bad Liberals, commenter Jonathan brought up a point which I characterized as 'dumb leftism', but something I do want to go into a bit more, because I think it helps define the faultline between the Left and Right pretty neatly.
Basically it comes down to this. Adam Smith and Marx both talk about the hypothetical 'pin factory', in which workers make pins. Hypothesize for a minute a pin entrepreneur, who invests a machine - or a process - whereby the productivity of the five workers goes from 100 pins/hour to 200 pins/hour.
Who gets the additional 100 pins?
In college, I asked a doctrinaire Marxist economics professor (a fairly notable writer in the area...)exactly this question. His reply?
"Well, imagine that I'm a really good machine thief, and I can steal the machine that the factory uses to make 200 pins/hour, and reduce the productivity to 100 pins/hour. What portion of those 100 pins do I get to keep?"
I still remember my initial response: "You're kidding, right?"
I believed then, and believe now, that it's actually a somewhat complicated question...but that there's no question that there's no comparison between a pin machine inventor and a pin machine thief.
JUNE 2/03: Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror every Monday & Thursday. We aim to stimulate, inform, and occasionally amuse. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!
Today's Captain of our "Winds of War" feature is Dan Darling. Dan's regular blog is Regnum Crucis.
Good news time... Tom Walsh explains how individuals on the Left and Right contributed to shaping this bill, which substantially intensifies U.S. efforts to fight AIDS in Africa. It also adopts a number of provisions aimed at AIDS' cultural, as well as its medical context. Bob Geldof isn't the only one who thinks this is revolutionary.
Special Analysis: So Who's hanging out in Iran?
by Dan Darling
As readers are no doubt already aware of, in recent weeks the Bush administration has taken Iran to task for its support for al-Qaeda as well as its budding nuclear weapons program. The Iranians have issued pious denials, but the evidence in this case pretty much speaks for itself.
So what is the current extent of Iranian support for al-Qaeda? We honestly don't know, but the Sydney Morning herald has reported that a number of the group's leadership are living it up on a military base run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Among those leaders said to be in Iran are Saif al-Adel and Mahfouz Ould Walid, the organization's top military commander and theologian, Abu Mohammed al-Masri, the mastermind of the 1998 bombings of US Embassies in Africa, global operations chief Abu Musab Zarqawi, the remnants of Ansar al-Islam, and Osama bin Laden's family, including his heir apparent, Saad. There is also at least one al-Qaeda training camp that has been spotted in Iran.
I've been following the "good liberal/bad liberal" thread with some interest (and not a little amusement) for a while, not only on this blog, but in the broader world of political commentary.
First, let me suggest that it had definitely been a tactic of the Right to suggest that "love it or leave it" is the best policy, and that "love it" means "my country, right or wrong", so sit back, shut up, and hang on. I'm sure that Joe, and even Trent, in more reflective moments will acknowledge that this is true.
And to suggest that any criticism of U.S. policy is "objectively pro-(Soviet, Saddamite, or whatever)" isn't the strongest basis for a healthy dialog. The fact that the Soviet Union was smart enough to support Martin Luther King through CPUSA operatives doesn't in any way invalidate the Civil Rights movement.
But...there is a definite lack of perspective on the part of much of the Left that I read and ly know. I think that that's a bad thing, both because I think it leads to bad conclusions, and because it self-isolates the Left from the mainstream of American thought. When my friends - who freaking live in Manhattan - explained to me after 9/11 that "we had it coming", or when my friends suggest that the sole reason for the disaster that is most Latin American politics is American foreign policy - or when they suggest that the sole cause of the crisis in the inner city is the continuing legacy of oppression and debt of slavery - with no acknowledgement of other historic inputs into the problems, or of the responsibility of the people affected themselves to do more - they aren't making a lot of sense.
I talked about this a while ago, and see no reason to change what I said then:
I know two really bad parents. One is a couple that simply refuses to control their children; they love them totally, and so, they explain, they love everything they do. Unsurprisingly, they are raising two little monsters. The other is a single mother who explains that everything bad in her life is the fault of her child, and that everything he does is wrong. Unsurprisingly, her child is depressed, withdrawn and equally badly damaged.I really can't add much to that.
I'll define patriotism as "love of country." Both the parents above (all three of them, actually) claim to ‘love’ their children. But to blindly smile and clean up when your child smashes plates on the floor is not an act of love. And blindly smiling and waving flags when your country does something wrong is not an act of patriotism.
But ... there is a point where criticism, even offered in the guise of love, moves past the point of correction and to the point of destruction. It’s a subtle line, but it exists. And my friend (who is less of a friend because I can't begin to deal with her fundamentally abusive parenting) is destroying her child. And there are liberals who have adopted an uncritically critical view of America. Who believe it to have been founded in genocide and theft, made wealthy on slave labor and mercantilist expropriation, to be a destroyer of minorities, women, the environment and ultimately they argue, itself.
I'm sorry but their profession of love for America is as hollow to me as that mother’s profession of love for her son. Are those things true? As facts, they are an incomplete account of this country’s history. As a worldview, they are destructive and self-consuming.
(edited for punctuation)
When I wrote, below, that some measure of enforced equality is necessary to the functioning of a democratic republic like ours, some commenters and other bloggers responded that the problem was that the elites captured the levers of power of the state, and used their control of the state to maintain their power. For example, over at Thought Mesh:
If we look at history and ask how elites have maintained their dominance what we see is that they used the power of the state to do so. It is through law and regulation that persistent aristocracies are created and maintained, not economics and business.and in the comments:
The best way to ensure a turnover of power is to argue for free markets to remain in place, with little bureaucracy to ensure its stability. Walmart may be powerful now, but in a free market the only thing we can count on is continual productive change.and
However, it is a mistake to assume that an unequal distribution of private wealth is, per se, evidence of a social problem.Actually, yes it is a probem, and what these folks are demonstrating is first, a lack of historical awareness - remember why Teddy Roosevelt was famed for being the first major 'trust buster'?? This was the first large regulatory intervention, and why do you think it was necessary and popular? Or do you think it was unnecessary?
But lest we think we're past those eras, and as the 1980's stock analysts suggested, 'the old rules no longer apply,' I saw something in Business Week this week:
Commentary: Why the Market Can't Police ItselfAnd since Bill Gates keeps being brought up as an example of the worthy rich, an article on why Microsoft keeps getting such close government scrutiny:
Now that 10 Wall Street firms have agreed to settle charges of biased research, Congress and the Securities & Exchange Commission are facing a new question: Does self-regulation by Wall Street work?
The answer is a resounding no. It's not just that the New York Stock Exchange failed to act on phony research. More proof came when Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill, chairman and CEO of Citigroup (C ) (whose Salomon Smith Barney (C ) unit was implicated in the research scandal), was invited to represent the public on the NYSE board. Weill withdrew after a storm of protest.
Reports that NYSE Chairman and CEO Richard A. Grasso's compensation totaled $10 million last year were another troubling sign. Grasso's pay is set by a board-compensation committee, but he regulates most of its members. Among them: the chairmen of Bear Stearns (BSC ), Goldman Sachs (GS ) and Merrill Lynch (MER ). And on May 20, Grasso was reelected to the Home Depot (HD ) Inc. board, putting him in the position of both serving on it and policing its conduct. Grasso declined to comment. Says New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer: "Fixing self-regulation is perhaps the most important policy issue facing the SEC."
The Microsoft Monopoly and its Effects April 2001 Edward J. Black President & CEO Computer & Communications Industry AssociationAs financial and legal technology advanced to permit the large corporation, the ability of these giant enterprises to distort the market in their favor can only be counteracted by the central government.
As the evidence from the trial showed, heavy-handed abuse of market power may take different forms in different industries, but it doesn't lose its basic character or effectiveness. Antitrust law may be even more important in intellectual property based industries in which network effects and tipping are common phenomena and technological tie ins and dependencies create "locked in´ customer bases. The Sherman Antitrust Act, the cornerstone of American antitrust law, prohibits monopolization, attempts to monopolize, or conspiracy with others to monopolize a market for goods or services. Microsoft is most serious violations involve efforts to protect its existing monopolies and expand them into adjacent markets through anticompetitive tactics.
Microsoft has frequently taken actions that harm original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the largest source of revenue for their Windows operating systems, and in turn consumers at large. By not allowing OEMs to alter various aspects of Windows, including the bundling of Internet Explorer, the startup sequence, and the arrangement of icons on the initial user interface, Microsoft has prevented OEMs from providing consumers with meaningful choices and potential innovations in computing. Microsoft claims any modification would alter the user is ªWindows experience,´ but in essence is dictating that rather than going "where you want to go today,´ you will go "where Microsoft wants you to go today, tomorrow, and indefinitely.´ Hewlett-Packardobjected to these dictates, and expressed its frustration to Microsoft in a memo introduced as evidence during the district court hearing: "From a consumer perspective, we are hurting our industry ... If we had a choice of another supplier, based on your actions, I assure you that you would not be our supplier of choice." This behavior is what lies at the heart of the case and is classic anticompetitive maintenance of a monopoly, a clear violation of section two of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The practices of a dominant monopolist would be counterproductive and unthinkable for a normal business operating in a competitive environment. Most companies cannot, and will not, behave in the manner that Microsoft has ... competitive market forces simply will not permit these actions. If a typical company spent millions on a product only to give it away for free, they would be bankrupted. If a normal company alienated, threatened, and punished its business "partners," it would surely face retribution. However, such considerations are not of concern to Microsoft. Because of its entrenched monopoly, Microsoft need not heed countervailing forces in the marketplace. Microsoft can even give away Internet Explorer, reducing Netscape is ability to charge and profit from their own revolutionary web browsing software. Microsoft is able to show contempt for its OEM consumers because Hewlett Packard and other OEMs know that Microsoft is the only game in town. This lack of economic accountability is why a monopoly is held to different legal standards the law rightfully recognizes that the marketplace
Now, I'll certainly agree that this presents its own set of meaningful problems. I'm trying to work toward a new kind of liberalism, because I see those problems, and I understand that interests - teacher's and prison guards' unions, as well as more traditional 'investors' in the political process who work buy regulation that serves their interests (think of the Fanjul sugar interests) - play the current government and regulatory scheme for all it's worth to them. Which is a lot.
But to imagine that somehow eliminating the government leg of this tripod will create a dynamic economy in which the Microsofts and Citibanks will somehow find themselves in fair competition with small companies is to have read too many Heinlein books. The large enterprises have - whenever not checked by greater powers - been very happy to consistently abuse the markets in their favor.
And, having distorted and abused the markets, they will continue to concentrate power until we are all living in Pottersville.
Dean Esmay invited a very interesting dialogue between participants who are committed and practicing Christians, gay, or both. He got a serious, enlightening exchange, with high quality posts on all sides. Worth your time this Sunday.
May 31, 2003: Blue Jays 10, Red Sox 7.