"Longing is the core of mystery. Longing itself brings the cure. The only rule is, Suffer the pain. Your desire must be disciplined, and what you want to happen in time, sacrificed."I can think of connections with Jay Manifold's post and the nature of science, the way we live our lives, and of course the religious implications. Use the Comments section to tell us what this fragment means to you.
"The N just stands for 'not M.' People who are not type M are of type N. Type N people have no real mathematical skill." -- "Interesting," she said. "It's more than that," I said. "It is fundamental. People of type N cannot argue science or technology with people of type M." -- "Why?" "Because they always lose." -- "Are you sure?" "Yes," I said. "They lose even when they are right."Read: Jay Manifold's The Two Cultures. Discuss in the Comments section. Optional Extra: Visit Daniel Drezner for his post on trends at Harvard, which links up with Jay's points.
I've always been irked at people who challenge Nativity displays or menorahs in parks, because I find that to be well within the tradition of 'reverence' I talk about above. Other, similarly celebratory expressions don't bother me at all. But to put it in the courthouse (or the legislative chamber) says to me that this law isn't the law of the State, but the law of God, and at that point I start to itch pretty badly.And that pretty neatly wraps my position; I think we should encourage public displays of reverence ... of all kinds, including the occasional statue of Gautama and even Ganesha. Clearly there are some lines; I'd rather followers of the houdoun don't slaughter goats in public parks, and believers in Bacchus hold their bacchanals on private property. Now, in truth, some of these have become secularized through use over the years - Athena in most architectural art represents a generalized 'wisdom symbol', and there are no living worshippers at her temples as far as I know. But displays tied to living religions must be carefully separated from the power of the state. I don't want to walk into a courtroom and see a Torah, or a Gohonzon. Judges are certainly free to keep them in their chambers, or keep them on their person, but to display them as a part of the fabric of the building, or of the institution, is to imply that the fabric of the law is tightly bound with a religious - as opposed to cultural - doctrine. That is to me deeply offensive. Believers and nonbelievers may come to the state capital and do business. Animists and Episcopalians alike may come to City Hall and get their zoning ordinances, and I think that anything that suggests otherwise needs to go. So parks and public squares - sure! Courthouses, legislative chambers, city halls - nope. To me, there is a clear difference, in that there are many parks, which may embrace many historic or cultural or religious themes. I'm free to work to get my hero, god, or symbol incorporated into one. But the instruments of state power cannot be escaped. And anything that suggests that they favor one religion or culture or group over another - that we are not all equal before the majesty of the law - is wrong.
...an outline of 1) Who they think we will get on board that we don't already have. 2) What terms they will demand. 3) Taking into account their stated position on the expansive, ambitious goals we have vs. "stability" in the region.OK, here goes. Typically, when I think about a market, one of the first things I think about is 'the marketing universe'; how much effective supply or demand is out there? In this case, the issue is where is the effective supply of military power? In 2000, the Top 10 looked like this: | 1. China | 2,810,000 | | 2. Russia | 1,520,000 | | 3. United States | 1,366,000 | | 4. India | 1,303,000 | | 5. Korea, South | 683,000 | | 6. Pakistan | 612,000 | | 7. Turkey | 610,000 | | 8. Iran | 513,000 | | 9. Vietnam | 484,000 | |10. Egypt | 448,000 | The numbers are the total numbers of armed forces personnel.
Russian weapons manufacturers have a powerful stake in Iraq. The latter owes Russia $7 billion for past weapons deliveries, which the Russian side still hopes to collect. Beyond that, Iraq is an attractive future market for their wares once the sanctions regime is removed. It has a long tradition of buying Soviet equipment. Both new equipment purchases and contracts to upgrade existing systems are a source of high hopes of Russian defense industrialists and exporters. Coupled with Iraq’s ability to finance its purchases with oil revenues, these hopes have resulted in a powerful domestic pro-Iraqi lobby in Russia. ... For Russian oil companies, Iraq represents an attractive business opportunity -- Iraqi oil is a good deal more accessible and cheaper to produce than oil from fields in remote regions of Russia, which is yet to be explored and developed. Russia’s special relationship with Saddam Hussein has put Russian companies in an advantageous position for political, rather than commercial reasons. Thus, a handful of Russian oil companies have -- depending on the mood of the Iraqi regime -- held potentially lucrative contracts to develop oil fields in Iraq, once the sanctions regime is removed. Fully cognizant of the political motivations behind Saddam’s decision to award these contracts to Russian companies in the first place, Russian oil industry leaders and analysts suspect that in the event of regime change in Baghdad, Russian companies will be among the losers in the Iraqi oil sweepstakes--Saddam’s successors will be more likely to reward their backers with lucrative contracts.2) The Russians have an immense stake in what happens to world oil markets once Iraqi oil comes on-line:
What quietly drives President Vladimir Putin's strategy in Iraq is that Russia needs stability, especially in the oil markets. The pressure on Iraq has kept large volumes of crude oil off world markets and allowed the Russian government to navigate out of its debt trough on the back of high oil prices. But an American invasion is bound to upset everything. To be sure, in the first days of the attack, oil will jump to US$30 or $35 a barrel. But if the Americans establish the protectorate they say they are aiming for, then it is near certain that the spigot on Iraqi taps is going to open. The flood of new oil on to the market, by which the fresh Iraqi democracy will pay for its American tutors, will be so great, prices are likely to collapse to between $10 and $15. The American people will celebrate the victory all the way to their petrol pumps. The Russian people - approaching by then a parliamentary election, followed by a presidential poll - won't be so cheery. They can kiss goodbye to much of the planned investment in the Arctic, St Petersburg and the Baltic shore, on Sakhalin and along the Pacific coast, all of which depends on the stability of oil prices at around $20.3) The Russians have a similar worldview to the U.S., and even more at stake than the U.S. in combating Islamist terrorism:
Let's take the following example. Europeans and Americans treat international terrorism in different ways. The US sees terrorism as an evil foe, which must be repelled by any means necessary. Bush has declared a war. US military policy toward terrorism is a wide-scale war, with bombings, offensives, soldiers, missiles, with death and destruction. If we don't get them, they will get us. This outlook is rooted in the culture and messianic tradition of the US, their refusal to see shades of gray. A friend of mine told me that Americans are ready to defend a city whether or not its residents want to be defended. If you look at the European approach to the same problem, you will see a fundamentally different outlook. Europeans see terrorism as criminality, not as a military foe, and fight it not with an army but with police force, with more stringent laws, stricter visa regimes - by sending the terrorists to jail. Americans don't even want to bother with that, their position is to kill and destroy terrorists wherever they may be. And, starting from that dichotomy, the issue is not that the Europeans were against the war in Iraq. The issue is the appearance of diverging approaches to the same problem. In that sense, I am deeply convinced that Russia today will have a much easier time negotiating its military doctrine with the US rather than with Europeans, who live under a blanket of illusions and believe that nothing will harm them. Even in Great Britain, which is much closer, ideologically and mentally, to the US, Tony Blair has had a very difficult time convincing the public of the necessity of directly supporting the US. I believe that Putin will have a much easier time forming Russia's military doctrine because Russia, in my view, looks at life and society in general more realistically than the Europeans.and:
Russia’s professional national security bureaucracy’s interest in the Gulf is of a less material nature. Lacking a concrete commercial interest, this group has not come to terms with the loss of superpower status. It harbors deep resentment of the United States and its preeminent position in the world--as well as in the Persian Gulf--and sees it in Russia’s national interest to oppose the United States, to undercut its influence and initiatives in the region regardless of their impact on Russian security or well-being. Thus, this group’s outlook is shaped by traditional, albeit outmoded, geopolitical considerations. However, given Russia’s diminished circumstances, this group’s ability to influence Russian policy is quite limited. The professional national security bureaucracy has a further interest in the Gulf prompted by the increasing challenge of militant Islam to Russian national security. The war in Chechnya has attracted a good deal of attention in the Islamic world. The Chechen side is reported to have received support from a number of Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, in the form of both volunteers and material assistance. Russian authorities have also claimed repeatedly that Osama Bin Laden has provided support and training for Chechen fighters. As a result, curbing international Islamic support for the Chechen cause has become an active concern for Russian policy in the Gulf.Overall, this presents a strong opportunity to do two things: first, bring the sponsor of much of the Arab Nationalist movement on board in striving for a remodeled Middle East, open a new rapprochement between Russia and the United States at a critical moment when the EU is attempting to create a EU/Russian anti-U.S. axis, and bring the resources of the second-biggest armed forces in the world to bear on the problems we will face. There are huge obstacles; the Russian army has a history of brutal practices in Afghanistan which will be unacceptable; allying with the Russians will strengthen the mujads who remember fighting them; integrating our two armies will prove extremely difficult. But for us, the benefits would be immense, in marginalizing the European opponents and taking the U.N. out of the center of the argument; bringing a major military to assist ours; and finally, in opening the doors for a real long-term association ("alliance" is too strong a term) with the Russians.
Ironically, the prospect of war in Iraq must be seen as an opportunity by some of Russia’s business leaders. They have been relentless in telegraphing to Washington with unprecedented clarity the price of Russian acquiescence to regime change in Iraq - a seat at the table when the time comes to divvy up the spoils of war, or in other words, assurances that they will get a piece of Iraqi oil after the war. With that they want acceptance and a chance to establish a dialogue with the political establishment in Washington. In exchange they offer their - considerable--influence at home, which they are prepared to deploy in order to help bridge the gap between the United States and Russia. From a U.S. perspective, this is an opportunity that’s well worth exploring.I couldn't agree more. So to answer Porphy's 3 questions: 1) The Russians 2) Honoring prewar debts and oil contracts, stability in future world oil prices 3) See above. OK, I step out and swing and... --- UPDATES --- * Flit comments. * So do our readers. Very intelligently, as usual... to the point that they made this a "Best Of..." category post.
This sculpture is a frieze located above the East (back) entrance to the Supreme Court building. Moses (holding blank tablets) is depicted as one of trio of three Eastern law givers (Confucius, Solon, and Moses). The trio is surrounded by a variety of allegorical figures representing legal themes. The artist, Herman MacNeil, described his intentions in creating the sculpture as follows:Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The "Eastern Pediment" of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East. Moses, Confucius and Solon are chosen as representing three great civilizations and form the central group of this Pediment (Descriptions of the Friezes in the Courtroom of the Supreme Court of the United States and of the East and West Pediments of the Building Exterior, p. 9).
The Courtroom friezes were designed by sculptor Adolph Weinman. These friezes are located well above the courtroom bench, on all four walls. The South and North wall friezes form a group that depicts a procession of 18 important lawgivers: Menes, Hammurabi, Moses, Solomon, Lycurgus, Solon, Draco, Confucius, Augustus, Justinian, Mohammed, Charlemagne, King John, St. Louis, Hugo Grotius, William Blackstone, John Marshall, and Napoleon. Moses is holding blank tablets. The Moses figure is no larger or more important than any other lawgiver. Again, there is nothing here to suggest and special connection between the 10 Commandments and American law. ... The Curator's office makes the following comments on Weinman's North and South frieze sculptures:Look, Western Civilization isn't called 'Judeo-Christian' for nothing. Our culture has deep roots in Christianity (and Judaism), and we're better off for it. We'd certainly be far different without those roots, and we can't and shouldn't repudiate of them.Weinman's training emphasized a correlation between the sculptural subject and the function of the building and, because of this, Gilbert relied on him to choose the subjects and figures that best reflected the function of the Supreme Court building. Faithful to classical sources, Weinman designed for the Courtroom friezes a procession of "great lawgivers of history," from many civilizations, to portray the development of secular law (p. 2, emphasis ours).
For half a century the fanciful tailors of revisionist jurisprudence have been working to strip the public sector naked of every vestige of God and morality. They have done so based on fake readings and inconsistent applications of the First Amendment. They have said it is all right for the U.S. Supreme Court to publicly place the Ten Commandments on its walls, for Congress to open in prayer and for state capitols to have chaplains--as long as the words and ideas communicated by such do not really mean what they purport to communicate. They have trotted out before the public using words never mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, like "separation of church and state," to advocate, not the legitimate jurisdictional separation between the church and state, but the illegitimate separation of God and state.For Chief Justice Moore, God ... not in the abstract sense of an all-encompassing Creator, but in the very literal sense of the God of the New Testament ... is at the root of our laws, and more, at the root of the legitimacy of our government which is, after all, founded on and defended by laws.
...those thinkers in the 17th and 18th cent. who held that the course of nature sufficiently demonstrates the existence of God. For them formal religion was superfluous, and they scorned as spurious claims of supernatural revelation. Their tenets stemmed from the rationalism of the period, and though the term is not now generally used, the tenor of their belief persists. The term freethinkers is almost synonymous. Voltaire and J. J. Rousseau were deists, as were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.And while it makes clear historic sense to tie the roots of the American foundation to the Christian gentlemen who led the Revolution, the role of explicit Christianity in American politics has a complex history, and a deeply complex present. The English immigrants came to the Americas, like the modern immigrants I've lunched with, to gain their fortune and to escape from religious and political oppression. Of that, we can be clear. I'm not sure how Chief Justice Moore feels that displaying the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building - not in his home, not in a private business, but in the hall where the highest decisions of law and power are made in Alabama - ties his actions to that history and that desire for freedom to worship in our own ways.
This Weekly Standard piece by Bob Kagan and William Kristol is worth noting. The authors begin by repeating - correctly - that "American ideals and American interests converge ... a more democratic Middle East will both improve the lives of long-suffering peoples and enhance America's national security." They then applaud statements to that effect by Condoleezza Rice and President Bush calling for a "generational commitment" to Iraq and the Middle East comparable to the U.S.'s commitment to Western Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. And in this, the security advisor and the president are also indeed applauseworthy: the intertwined task of promoting democracy and pursuing counterterror in the Middle East is as obviously central to U.S. security today as creating a secure, commercially prosperous free Europe was then.
... I could not agree more completely, and endorse everything that I have quoted, as far as the authors go. However - and although they are two writers I respect deeply on the subject - I think they might be too quick to reject out of hand the prospect of looking overseas for soldiers. The authors seem to think of the matter as a choice between two options: simply asking our dedicated soldiers to do more of what they have been doing so well, or giving the entire enterprise over to the internationals - in which case either Kofi and Jacques Chirac will be the ones to determine the pace of Iraq's democratization, or still worse, we may suffer "the possibly unfortunate effects of turning over the security of Iraqis to a patchwork of ill-prepared forces from elsewhere in the world."I couldn't agree more; this nails the Thomas Friedman point I only alluded to below, about the need to alliance. UPDATE: Once again, the Comments for this article feature some pretty smart people elevating the content of this blog.
Hmmm. Though I agree with Kagan and Kristol on their other points, this particular bit seems a bit of a false dichotomy.
This coming decade has the potential to be the most exciting time in the history of human space travel since the 1970s - maybe ever. All the pieces are there. Will we grasp that opportunity? What will it take?
Space remains more important to the USA than ever, and especially to the U.S. military which is becoming more and more of a "space power" as a natural extension of its naval pre-eminence. Yet other countries besides the USA have a strong interest in space, and NASA may not be up to the job of keeping America ahead.
How could the USA compete on terms that favour its strengths, help to maintain its preeminence, and simultaneously open the benefits and opportunity of space to humanity? What might that new model look like?
Rand Simberg notes, correctly, that space travel is still wedded to a 1960s model that may have been appropriate to the Cold War, but is no longer valid today. Fortunately, private efforts like the X-Prize, the backing of tech billionaires, and airplane designers like Burt Rutan may usher in a new era of affordable Low Earth Orbit (LEO) vehicles.
If the cost barriers to productive space efforts can be lowered, the effect on both private enterprise and other nations could make LEO vehicles the stepping stones for a bigger, sustainable space industry - and eventually to a new generation of space exploration technologies. That's the way innovation works in other industries, at least in those industries unhampered by the fundamentally Soviet model of human space efforts thus far. Rand Simberg is making a fine point when he discusses "enabling technologies" vs. "enhancing technologies", and Bill Whittle discussed the broader innovation dynamic in Trinity, Part 2, but the point actually goes deeper than that. LEO craft could well prove to be what Clayton Christensen calls a "disruptive technology."
Of course, once you get up into space, the question of what to do with that access arises. LaughingWolf's thoughtful & excellent Space Commercialization series offers all kinds of interesting ideas - led by new business models, not new technologies. The core of that future, however, is a radically different model for NASA that directs research and enables private efforts. As "reinventing government" gurus like Osborne and Gaebler would put it, NASA needs a mission that focuses more on steering, and less on rowing.
It's a model that may even mean the end of NASA as we know it. As LaughingWolf notes:
"Space tracking, data and relay, and other functions currently performed by Goddard can easily be integrated into Space Command. Essential launch operations should go to the Air Force. Commercial promotion and development should go to the Department of Commerce, and be directed to make the fullest possible use of commercial launch and development services. All non-essential launch services should be contracted out to truly private launch operations as soon as possible.As James Pinkerton wrote back in October 2000, the libertarian paradox of our journey into space is that it may "take non-libertarian means to achieve libertarian ends." LaughingWolf's thoughts extend that idea in a useful and fruitful direction.
Core functions of essential research into aviation and space development can be given to a new, small, agency. This agency will do some research on its own, but should fund as much of that research as possible to be done by private companies. There is some need for government funded, directed, and performed research, but the fact is that much of what is being done could be better done by private industry. Government needs, at best, to nudge and encourage, not to do and control."
These will be challenging times for NASA, with the coming release of the Columbia report and the necessary onslaught of questions it will provoke. To move ourselves forward, however, we need to be asking the right questions. So kudos to Laughingwolf, Wind Rider, Rand Simberg... and all of the passionate and informed commentators who are helping us rethink our species' journeys into space. Special kudos, and heartfelt appreciation too, to all of the private individuals working on their own dime to make access to the stars a reality for themselves and their fellow human beings.
Ad astra, per aspera.
* Blogger and rocket scientist Rocket Man says there is one piece missing.
* Rand Simberg builds on the discussion, and responds to LaughingWolf's 'abolish NASA' proposal: "The most frustrating thing to me, of course, is that we continue to discuss what to do with NASA without having the more fundamental discussion of what we're trying to achieve."
* LaughingWolf gladly picks up the baton, and begins to answer Rand's question. "So, why are we going to space and what do we want to do there?"
"We are attracting all these opponents to Iraq because they understand this war is The Big One. They don't believe their own propaganda. They know this is not a war for oil. They know this is a war over ideas and values and governance. They know this war is about Western powers, helped by the U.N., coming into the heart of their world to promote more decent, open, tolerant, women-friendly, pluralistic governments by starting with Iraq ... a country that contains all the main strands of the region: Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds."
"You'd think from listening to America's European and Arab critics that we'd upset some bucolic native culture and natural harmony in Iraq, as if the Baath Party were some colorful local tribe out of National Geographic. Alas, our opponents in Iraq, and their fellow travelers, know otherwise. They know they represent various forms of clan and gang rule, and various forms of religious and secular totalitarianism ... from Talibanism to Baathism. And they know that they need external enemies to thrive and justify imposing their demented visions. In short, America's opponents know just what's at stake in the postwar struggle for Iraq, which is why they flock there: beat America's ideas in Iraq and you beat them out of the whole region; lose to America there, lose everywhere. ... So, the terrorists get it. Iraqi liberals get it. The Bush team talks as if it gets it, but it doesn't act like it. The Bush team tells us, rightly, that this nation-building project is the equivalent of Germany in 1945, and yet, so far, it has approached the postwar in Iraq as if it's Grenada in 1982. We may fail, but not because we have attracted terrorists who understand what's at stake in Iraq. We may fail because of the utter incompetence with which the Pentagon leadership has handled the postwar. (We don't even have enough translators there, let alone M.P.'s, and the media network we've set up there to talk to Iraqis is so bad we'd be better off buying ads on Al Jazeera.) We may fail because the Bush team thinks it can fight The Big One in the Middle East ... while cutting taxes at home, shrinking the U.S. Army, changing the tax code to encourage Americans to buy gas-guzzling cars that make us more dependent on Mideast oil and by gratuitously alienating allies. We may fail because to win The Big One, we need an American public, and allies, ready to pay any price and bear any burden, but we have a president unable or unwilling to summon either." (emphasis added)That's what I'm looking for from Bush; to take this war as seriously as I do and as seriously as our enemies do, and to make it clear to the American people - as FDR did, and Churchill did - that this war will take blood, toil, sweat, and tears. And that we will prevail, because we have no choice. Because we really don't. UPDATES: · Porphy comments. · Cameron over at BeetsWerkin gently hammers Needlenose on selective editing in his Friedman quotes... · Atrios leads us to Swopa, and the Needlenose blog, who disagrees with Friedman:
Pardon me for suggesting that Friedman doesn't believe his own propaganda, either, but just a couple of months ago he was telling a quite different story:I'm in the attic plumbing this afternoon (after a morning of installing brakes), so a longer response is due. Let me leave you with a medium-length one: It's absolutely the case that our task in the Middle East is to break the 'various forms of religious and secular totalitarianism', and that we're in Iraq because we had to start somewhere, and they were the 'low-hanging fruit.' My own words from mid-March: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.In other words, as I happened to discuss in a post last Thursday, the war's goal wasn't to project American ideas into the Middle East -- it was to project American power there. Which, not surprisingly, is a development that Iraq's neighbors (who will be next on the "hit list") and anti-Western fanatics throughout the region want very much to derail.
...I believe the answer is to end the state support of terrorism and the state campaigns of hatred aimed at the U.S. I think that Iraq simply has drawn the lucky straw. They are weak, not liked, bluntly in violation of international law, and as our friends the French say, about to get hung pour l'ecourager les autres...to encourage the others.Does that make it any clearer?
At risk of sounding flippant once again, I must admit to having a brief moment with some renegade thoughts. If there is an organization on earth that did more than the U.N. to see to it that Saddam Hussein stayed in power, torturing and filling mass graves to the brim, I'm at a loss to name it. Perhaps the truck bomber was the relative of a recent victim? As the press has told us consistently, Islamic terror organizations would never cooperate with or fight for Saddam. Moreover we were told they considered Saddam an enemy on par with the United States, because he was a secular tyrant, oppressing Muslims. If this was the case, again the U.N. would be a legitimate target because they allowed it to continue, to say nothing of the tragically farcical "oil for food program" administered by the world body, which enabled Saddam to construct lavish palaces while the Iraqi people starved. It's odd that there were no "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" rationalizations in this instance. It would indeed be poetic justice, but the likelihood is that the U.N.'s Baghdad headquarters was targeted because it was easy to hit, a "soft-target" according to the experts.Hummm...so I wasn't alone in my public thoughts about the evil of the U.N. and poetic justice. And Instapundit approved, no less.
The net result of this distrust was seen very clearly in the debates over TIA and the Pentagon's planned terrorism futures market. Americans -- and their legislative representatives -- didn't care how these programs actually worked. They didn't care that academics on the left and right supported such ideas in the abstract. Despite TIA's fate, we still need computerized tools to look for "non-obvious relationships". And a closed-access futures market for experts could have been a great way to quantify collective expert opinion. Nonetheless, the American public answered these programs with a resounding "Enough already!"Go read the whole thing. Michael McNeal has a great compilation post on the health consequences of Depleted Uranium (DU) - often used in U.S. military projectiles (via Volokh). Hint: there don't appear to be any. (changed title)
"This is a case of UN evolution in action. The U.N. requested that American military forces not provide heavy security for political reasons. The UN-icks did not want to "..seem to close to the US" or "...be seen as endorsing US actions." Too bad the Al-Qaeda didn't use a bigger bomb. Posted by: Trent Telenko on August 20, 2003 02:56 AM “Was that over the top? Yes, it was. I apologize for that. It was morally wrong to suggest the U.N. deserved to be truck bombed. What I was trying to say was if the local U.N. people wanted to get a Darwin award that much. The bomb should have been bigger to get the ones working for the award. I was unaware at the time the bombing was most likely an inside job and not one by terrorists. However, that being said, was it “Idiotarian Right Wing Terrorist Supporting? Joe, you or anyone else saying that needs to get a life. It is a documented fact that the United Nations is a terrorist supporting organization world wide. The U.N. in Iraq was a terrorist supporting organization against the Iraqi people. The U.N. staff in Baghdad were mercenary monsters working with the Iraqi state's mass killing monsters to deny food and medicine to the Iraqi people and assist the regime in surviving international sanctions. And this evil was not just limited to Baghdad U.N. offices. The UN High Commission on Refugees knew the size, scope and extent of the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure in the refugee camps it ran and not only stayed silent. It justified it’s silence as a necessary part of doing its job after Israel over ran Jenin and got the goods on UN complicity with terrorism. The U.N. was not only running a sanctuary for suicide bombers attacking Israel in Jenin. Every Palestinian refugee camp it runs is a sanctuary for suicide bomber terrorists.
"I contend that there is a single litmus that does indeed separate the nation and the world into two opposing camps, and that when you examine where people will fall on the countless issues that affect our society, this alone is the indicator that will tell you how they will respond. The indicator is Responsibility."Victor Davis Hanson's "How We Collapse" had a similar thrust, informed by history. Of the two, however, Bill Whittle has the better essay. Now that's saying something.
In the comments section, Klaatu writes:
"Yes, members of one group feel they have responsibility for other humans. The other group just feels responsible for themselves."
To which I reply:
The most dangerous trap for the second group is lack of empathy for others, or inability to see beyond themselves. One must acknowledge the difficulty of just being responsible for oneself, and the need for that to be the universal starting point, without ending one's horizon there. Otherwise the result can become a casual disregard for others that turns a blind eye to real suffering. If practiced widely enough, it can turn societies into a predator's paradise (and sometimes has). This erodes the legitimacy on which security, and therefore wealth, depends.
The most dangerous trap for the FIRST group is a responsibility that slips all too comfortably into control, and hence inability to grant the other real responsibility because it threatens that control. The result of that slide is the exploitation of others' misery for both psychological ("doesn't matter if it helps, I want to feel good") and material ("New Class" theory) benefit. If practiced widely enough, it can turn societies into a parasites' paradise (and sometimes has). This erodes the wealth on which legitimacy, and therefore security, depends.
Here endeth the lesson.
UPDATE: Maye not. See Wildmonk's comments, and my response.
As a former Romanian spy chief who used to take orders from the Soviet KGB, it is perfectly obvious to me that Russia is behind the evanescence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. After all, Russia helped Saddam get his hands on them in the first place. The Soviet Union and all its bloc states always had a standard operating procedure for deep sixing weapons of mass destruction — in Romanian it was codenamed "Sarindar, meaning "emergency exit." I implemented it in Libya. It was for ridding Third World despots of all trace of their chemical weapons if the Western imperialists ever got near them. We wanted to make sure they would never be traced back to us, and we also wanted to frustrate the West by not giving them anything they could make propaganda with. All chemical weapons were to be immediately burned or buried deep at sea. Technological documentation, however, would be preserved in microfiche buried in waterproof containers for future reconstruction. Chemical weapons, especially those produced in Third Worldcountries,which lack sophisticated production facilities, often do not retainlethal properties after a few months on the shelf and are routinely dumped anyway. And all chemical weapons plants had a civilian cover making detection difficult, regardless of the circumstances. The plan included an elaborate propaganda routine. Anyone accusing Moammar Gadhafi of possessing chemical weapons would be ridiculed. Lies, all lies! Come to Libya and see! Our Western left-wing organizations, like the World Peace Council, existed for sole purpose of spreading the propaganda we gave them. These very same groups bray the exact same themes to this day. We always relied on their expertise at organizing large street demonstrations in Western Europe over America's war-mongering whenever we wanted to distract world attention from the crimes of the vicious regimes we sponsored. Iraq, in my view, had its own "Sarindar" plan in effect direct from Moscow. It certainly had one in the past. Nicolae Ceausescu told me so, and he heard it from Leonid Brezhnev. KGB chairman Yury Andropov, and later, Gen. Yevgeny Primakov, told me so too. In the late 1970s, Gen. Primakov ran Saddam's weapons programs. After that, as you may recall, he was promoted to head of the Soviet foreign intelligence service in 1990, to Russia's minister of foreign affairs in 1996, and in 1998, to prime minister. What you may not know is that Primakov hates Israel and has always championed Arab radicalism. He was a personal friend of Saddam's and has repeatedly visited Baghdad after 1991, quietly helping Saddam play his game of hide-and-seek. and The U.S. military in fact, has already found the only thing that would have been allowed to survive under the classic Soviet "Sarindar" plan to liquidate weapons arsenals in the event of defeat in war — the technological documents showing how to reproduce weapons stocks in just a few weeks.The only thing I think Pacepa has wrong in all this is not mentioning a French role in this WMD 'migration into mystery.'
First of all, the number of jobs in the United States is not set by what happens on the sea lanes--on what exports and imports the container ships carry from port to port. The number of jobs is set in the Eccles Building, by the Federal Reserve, which tries to hit the sweet spot: high enough demand to produce effective full employment, without so much demand that vacancies become so abundant as to lead inflation to run away. Sometimes the Federal Reserve does a good job and is lucky, and we have full employment with price stability. Other times the Federal Reserve is unskillful or unlucky, and we have accelerating inflation or high unemployment. It is certainly true that what happens in international trade affects employment in America. But the Federal Reserve can and does offset and neutralize impacts of trade that push employment away from where the Federal Reserve thinks the sweet spot of full employment is.To which my response is sha-WHAT?? Last time I checked, we weren't an autarky. The world economy is, as I visualize it (and yes, I do spend all too much time visualizing trade flows when I ought to be thinking about, say, Uma Thurman...) a complicated network, with a linked series of subnetworks each of which has some measure of control over itself - but that is firmly bound within the larger. If the Fed can unilaterally set monetary policy and interest rates, with no regard to world markets, there are a whole lot of people working on international currency trading floors who have been faking it for a long time. I simply can't imagine any condition under which this is correct; my plea here is for someone to either confirm my impression or correct me, if possible. He then goes on to discuss international trade:
So what, then, is the impact on the American economy when Singapore educates its people to become competent network developers, or India educates its people to become competent help-center technicians? It's not that jobs leak away. Remember: trade balances. Indians want rupees, not dollars: they will only sell us as much as we can pay for in rupees, and the only way we get rupees is by selling things to Indians. Either way (if the Federal Reserve does its job) Americans' demand for imports made in other countries is recycled into foreign demand that employs Americans in industries that export goods, export services, make producers equipment, or build structures. This is a consequence of Say's law--an economic principle which is usually true, sometimes false, but which it is the Federal Reserve's business to make as true as possible as much of the time as possible. This means that nightmare scenarios--3.3 million high-tech jobs moving overseas--are beyond the bounds of short-run probability. The current account plus the capital account must balance: if the work that used to be done here by 3.3 million people is to be done there, that means that our export industries here must employ an extra 3.3 million people as well.I can't think of the appropriate Snoop Dogg response except to say one simple word here: "eurodollar". As I recall, they've found a couple hundreds of millions in U.S. cash in Iraq recently...what was Saddam doing with that, if what he really wanted was dinars? This is a kind of important issue, because in my mind, the 'global averaging' taking place in the economy and the consequences on jobs is one of the most pressing issues that faces us today; lots of the other issues fall out from causes rooted in this one. I'm not advocating a return to Smoot-Hawley; in fact I'm not far enough through this issue to begin to know which path makes sense, except that any path we take must somehow deal with the issue, rather than ignore it. And DeLong's post somehow seems to ignore it. So help and clarification from all quarters welcome.
Palestinian leaders have been promoting the illusion that Islamic radical groups will ultimately transform themselves into peaceful political parties. That fantasy was shattered on Tuesday along with 20 innocent lives when a Hamas terrorist blew up a Jerusalem bus. The bombing occurred at the very moment the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, was meeting with Islamic radicals in Gaza. If anything positive is to come from this latest atrocity, it will be a conclusive realization by Mr. Abbas that organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad have no genuine interest in cease-fire agreements or two-state solutions and must be forcibly put out of the terrorism business. Only then will the American-sponsored road map for peace have a chance of delivering Palestinian statehood. ... Hamas described Tuesday's bombing as retaliation for the Israeli Army's killing of one of its militants in June. Hamas is a self-appointed gang of thugs with no right to kill anyone, Israeli or Palestinian. That is how it must be treated by Mr. Abbas and his security chief, Muhammad Dahlan.Hmmmm. I feel the earth shifting ever so slightly under my feet.
Something I've always wondered about, too. Why is Hoover infamous for presiding over four years of Depression, not terribly uncommon in American history, while Roosevelt is much-beloved for presiding over an unprecedented two more presidential terms of Depression, while much of the rest of the world economy was recovering [edit: at a faster pace]?
When David put it that way, I got pretty interested in the question, too. After all, everyone knows Roosevelt was popular, and that his popularity has been lasting. He even managed to show up on the conservative list of Greatest Figures of the Twentieth Century (though he made the list of the worst as well). So, shall we inquire? The short answer, as it turns out, is that Bernstein has his history wrong. Take a glance over at the chart below, if you will. Turns out that while the economy didn't re-obtain its pre-Hoover size until the war was under way, economic growth resumed almost immediately after FDR took office, and continued apace (at least looking at the annual figures, quarterlies may have more hiccups) pretty consistently throughout his time in office.David replies with references to other economists who challenge the causes of economic growth during FDR's presidency, and who suggest that a number of his fiscal and monetary policies actively contributed to the Depression. I'll suggest two things to these guys: First, you're overlooking one of the core reasons why FDR is so beloved - because he won the freaking war. FDR was not only a Depression president, he was also the WWII president. Second, and strongest of all, you're overlooking FDR's great ability to sell the public on his strategy and policies. Great leaders create faith and hope. In truth, those are probably more important than the exact policies they establish (although those obviously have significant impacts) because faith and hope are what drive people to make positive, future-oriented decisions, and to stick it out through the tough times. From what I've read (and obviously it's not everything, nor is it as good as having actually been there) FDR managed to do a hella good job of selling both his policies and the war. People were left feeling like there was a corner that we might turn, and that it was worth it to keep going to get there. So now we move to another issue: Did he always tell the truth?? Pretty obviously not. He 'sold' his policies, as most leaders do, with some measure of misdirection and puffery. You can see where I'm going with this. Yglesias says:
Wunderkinder Scott has an instructive response to an argument I made here regarding Bush's deceptive rhetoric in the build-up to war:I'm certainly prepared to cut Bush more slack than he is on this; where he sees misrepresentation, I see puffery and misdirection. I think Matthew is acting naive - and I know he actually isn't - in suggesting somehow that the American history of debates about war (any war) is an unbroken record of contemplative public debates based on pure fact. Or that any other debate about war in any other nation is handled that way. But I do think, as I've said over and over and over again that Bush is vulnerable (which in turn makes the war effort vulnerable) because he's done a bad job of selling his policies and overall strategy to the public. Is this in part because of a 'disloyal media', and does Bush thereby get a pass?? Yglesias has the best reply of all (in a post about Joe Conason's new book):Politicians strive to "ensure that the public is well-informed"? Please! I'm not going to argue that I was shocked when President Clinton challenged the definition of "is". I mean, that's "pushing the limits" of honesty about as far as possible. It's also politics. When you're making a case, you use all the relevant facts at your disposal, and you paint them in the best way to the public. This goes whether you're excerpting economic studies for a tax plan, or making the case for war.... The case of Bush and the war, however, is quite different. For one thing, unlike the Paula Jones trial it concerned a public policy debate. For another thing, unlike a debate about economic policy it concerned information to which the president had special access. When we debate tax policy we expect our politicians to be nothing more than sources of argument concerning which policy to adopt. When we debate going to war, however, we rely on the President of the United States to accurately portray the intelligence he has received, for the White House is our only source for this information. The public simply cannot deliberate on how to respond to American intelligence if we are being deliberately misled about the contents of that intelligence.
I worry that folks on the left are growing far too concerned with "the right-wing propaganda machine" as a source of our woes. Certainly, sans propaganda machine the GOP wouldn't be doing nearly as well as it does, but at the end of the day complaining that your political opponents have a propaganda machine is like complaining that the jockey you're riding against has a horse ... that's just the way the game is played. Moreover, it's a poor craftsman that blames his tools and I'd much rather see liberals working on perfecting our own strokes than on worrying about what the other guy's doing. (emphasis added)(fixed embarassingly omitted links)
A suicide bomber attacked a crowded bus in Jerusalem today, killing at least 18 people and wounding scores more, Israeli officials said. Two Palestinian militant groups hastened to take responsibility for the attack, which threatened to imperil the fragile Middle East peace plan. "The suicide bomber blew up in the center of the bus,'' Jerusalem's police chief, Mickey Levy, told Israel Radio, according to Reuters. "We are talking about a big bomb, and there is a large number of casualties, including dead.'' There were conflicting estimates of casualties. The police said at least 18 people had been killed, while the head of the Israeli emergency medical service told reporters earlier that 20 people had died and 105 people had been wounded.My first thoughts, as always, are for those killed and wounded and for their families. After taking a deep breath, my second one is that we're not done seeing this, or anywhere close to it. But for the first time, I can begin to see a path through the problem.
BARRING a last-minute miracle, the pan-Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party, one of Jordan's oldest political organizations, is expected to file for bankruptcy within the next few weeks.I'd love to know what the books look like for Hamas and Islamic Jihad these days...I'd have to believe that the days of making an easy living in terror are behind us. UPDATE: Nitin of Hawken Blog comments, with links to some Oxblog posts.
Mazen Dana, 43, was shot and killed by U.S. soldiers Sunday while videotaping near a U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad. The U.S. Army said its soldiers mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Press advocacy groups Reporters Without Borders and the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists demanded a full investigation into the shooting. Reporters Without Borders urged Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to conduct an "honest, rapid" investigation. The group also noted that there have been isolated cases in which soldiers in Iraq have been hostile to the news media. "Such behavior is unacceptable and must be punished. It is essential that clear instructions and calls for caution are given to soldiers in the field so that freedom of movement and work of journalists is accepted in Iraq," the group said in a statement. The film Dana shot showed a tank driving toward him. Six shots were heard, and the camera appeared to tilt forward and drop to the ground after the first shot. Dana was working outside the Abu Ghraib prison after a mortar attack there Sunday in which six prisoners were killed and about 60 wounded. Witnesses said Dana was dressed in civilian clothes. "We were all there, for at least half an hour. They knew we were journalists. After they shot Mazen, they aimed their guns at us. I don't think it was accident. They are very tense. They are crazy," said Stephan Breitner of France 2 television. Breitner said soldiers tried to resuscitate Dana but failed. A U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity that American soldiers saw Dana from a distance and mistook him for an Iraqi guerrilla, so they opened fire. When the soldiers came closer, they realized Dana was a journalist, the official said. "This is clearly another tragic incident, it is extremely regrettable," Central Command spokesman Sgt. Maj. Lewis Matson said.You see in that passage the utter incomprehension of the international journalistic class in dealing with American troops under combat conditions. It has been well known since 1982 that electronic news gathering equipment looks like a rocket propelled grenade launcher through military gun sights. This was demonstrated when a CBS news crew set up to cover an Israeli column advancing towards Beruit in an orchard after the Israeli column had been ambushed a number of times by PLO RPG crews. The CBS crew was turned to raw hamburger by Israeli firepower as soon as the Israelis came in range. There was a big stink by the international journalistic community until the Israelis produced a side by side picture of a news crew with a camera and an RPG crew through an Israeli tank sight. After that you saw a lot of long range telephoto pictures of Israeli troops. Most of the "combat junkie" international journalists of the current generation are used to being near third world fighting. The combatants being covered have little or no training, are often high on drugs and lack modern fire control on their weapons. The reporters can often bluff or bribe their way through these 3rd worlders to get the shots and quotes they need for the evening news. American soldiers on the other hand are well trained, stone sober and have the latest fire control on their weapons. They are also well disciplined and trained to deal with reporters as a matter of course down to the junior officer level and cannot be bribed. Those American troops that forget their training are dealt with by the American chain of command so reporters as a whole are given very little or nothing to work with. What these reporters refuse to take seriously is that their only protection from American firepower on a modern battlefield is to be part of an American embedded reporter program. Editors who came up through the same 3rd world battlefields of the 1980's and 1990's as their current news crews just cannot understand the orders of magnitude difference in killing power between western troops and 3rd worlders when the former are fighting with serious intent. Americans in Iraq are not Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza. The Americans are out to kill terrorists and anyone that looks like an armed terrorist in their line of sight is going to die. And Al-Qaeda terrorists like to look like reporters to get close to their targets. Massoud, "the Lion of the Panshir," found that out in the days before 9/11/2001. The penalty for stupidity on the modern battlefield in range of American troops is death. The only reason not to nominate Mazen Dana for the Darwin Awards is that he had four kids before he was killed. Any news organization that puts its reporters with camera's near American troops in combat outside of the embed program should be sued by the relatives of the dead cameramen for criminal negligence. UPDATE #1: Go to this link and see an animation that shows modern news gathering equipment nose on compared to modern anti-tank missile launchers. This is via the A.E.Brain blog. To quote one of our commentors: "...the No. 1 rule of engagement for covering conflicts involving American forces is quite simple. Don't Point Things At American Forces In Combat Areas." Update #2 One of the commenters over on Little Green Footballs noticed this picture on Yahoo. It is the body of Mazen Dana wrapped in a Palestinian flag plus what appear to be the the banners of Hamas, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, with a Hamas shaheed's head band. So much for Mazen's "Press Objectivity."
"The decline of the older suburbs in the 1970s and 1980s drove growth out to the urban periphery, even further away from established major metropolitan markets. Smaller-scale, science-based cities emerged in such places as Austin, Salt Lake City, and Raleigh-Durham… Communities such as these cannot be described as either "suburbs" in the conventional sense or even as "edge cities" attached to the periphery of a major city. They neither depend upon the core city for employment, like many older suburbs, nor seek to duplicate the traditional functions of the urban core, as is the case of featureless, ill-defined conventional "overgrown" suburbs that have emerged as exurban business hubs. Instead, these communities can best be described as "nerdistans" - new urban regions built on their attractiveness to the rising technological elite… More than anything, successful nerdistans seek to eliminate all the kinds of distractions -crime, traffic, commercial blight - that have commonly been endemic to cities and, later, midopolitan areas as well. Although nerdistans often lack the social diversity and cultural richness traditionally associated with more urban areas, these are features that many engineers and scientists seem more than willing to dispense with in order to escape social and other pathologies."New Urbanism. Midopolises. Nerdistans. Each represents a somewhat different approach to the problems of modern urban life, with the Midopolis concept and criteria for success serving as a kind of conceptual bridge merging aspects of the other 2. Nor are these concepts mutually exclusive. Austin may be classified as a Nerdistan, but its status as a government & university town has also folded a very vibrant artistic & cultural scene onto the classic template. New Urbanist efforts at the neighbourhood, district, or regional level could add even more, enhancing the Austin experience in the near term and preventing breakneck growth from compromising it in the longer term. Many of our complaints about urban life stem from poor policies, and poor behaviours too. Too often, issues of poor design and neglect of centuries-old lessons lie at the heart of both. Good cities are like good software: architecture & design matter. Even so, it took 50 years of hard experience to pinpoint some of the issues involved. We won't dig ourselves out in a year or two. If we can change the criteria for design and discussion of our cityscapes, however, we can gradually change our experience of living in them. Right, Left or Center, that's a responsibility we can all stand behind.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is investigating reports that a group of about six men masquerading as law enforcement agents ... and calling themselves "the posse" ... has been falsely arresting and robbing motorists in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.OK, now I've got to do something, I called my LEO friend at home, and told her what I'd seen, asking if maybe it was something she knew about...LEO vehicles with civilian plates. She berated me for not getting the plate, and said that yes, I should call it in to the San Bernardino Sheriff ASAP, particularly as I'd seen it drive up a driveway and could probably find it again. So I called. No one could take a message on a Saturday, and I didn't have the name of a detective to ask to be sent to his or her voicemail. This morning, I called again. I was told that I couldn't be transferred to the Detective Bureau, they didn't take calls. After protesting that I was calling in response to a story in the Times about a crime they were investigating, I was transferred to the Public Affairs Division, whose mission is to serve:
as a departmental emissary by fostering relationships between the organization and the communities. Division staff works closely with media sources, citizen groups, labor units, residents, schools, and the faith community to facilitate the flow of information between the Sheriff's Department and the citizens we serve.In other words, I left a message about an active investigation with the guy who I'd ask to come speak to my son's second-grade class. Now, based on my knowledge of cops, they take the crime of 'imitating an officer' damn seriously, as they should. I have no reason to believe that the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department feel any differently. But it's pretty obvious that they don't have a clue...and here I'll bet they aren't alone...on how to take information from the public that's not of the 911 call variety. I have no idea whether the car I saw was legitimate, or might have been associated with the investigation they have underway. But I can tell you for sure...and I have two sworn police officers who I've discussed it with who agree with me...that it's information that the investigating officers ought to have. And until we can build structures that make that kind of communication easy, useful, and pervasive, the kind of distributed defense that Jeff discusses, and Instapundit pushes aren't going to be able to leverage on the existing safety and security infrastructures. Instead, we'll get centralized bureaucratic systems that will shut out the information they aren't interested in hearing. And when that doesn't work, they'll get more and more intrusive and sadly, they won't work any better. As for my mystery car, I'm having lunch with my LEO friend tomorrow, and she'll call San Bernardino when she goes back to the office; when she calls, they'll listen. (cleaned up grammar)
"In the absence of a "peer competitor" — a big, heavily armed adversary — future wars may not require the Army to fight for the survival of the nation as it has in the past. But this is no assurance that there will not be pitched battles and prolonged campaigns. Making the U.S. Army more capable of expeditionary operations will only go part way toward winning future wars. Rather, we need to have forces and capabilities that can turn battlefield success into victory over the long haul. Some of the forces we will need to achieve victory may not be military at all; others may be allied or indigenous forces rather than U.S. forces. The United States needs to focus on how to get these capabilities. Knowing how we are going to win the next war is more important to our soldiers than whether they go to war as part of 5,000-strong brigades or 18,000-strong divisions or fight from 20-ton wheeled armor rather than 70-ton tanks."I have said in several posts that the future of the American Military is PARAMILITARY. It looks to me that this meme is spreading. There is more to war than fighting. The experts see that. It is only a question of moving the US Army brass hats out of the way so this can happen.
California isn't alone...go Google "state budget crisis 2003", in the first three pages, you'll see references to California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.and
I'm thinking about a budget and tax strategy (I don't know enough detail, except in a very few areas, to actually propose tactics), and I'll propose two basic goals: 1. Budget Integration. We need to look at State, county, and city budgets in some integrated way, to deal with the - transfers - between the levels which tend to mask spending and growth in a number of areas. 2) Tax stability. California is mandated to carry a balanced budget. We need to relook at our tax programs to attempt to get a more stable revenue stream for the state. This implies that we shift from personal income to corporate income, sales, and property taxes. This is pretty obviously nontrivial is so many ways...but I'll suggest one point in each of these three areas that could make a difference.The overall issue of the 'structural fiscal crisis' is a major one, and may be worth some thought itself.
George Bush's presidency is producing a tremor similar to the Reagan youthquake of the 1980s. The College Republicans have tripled their membership in the past three years, increasing their chapters from 409 to 1,148 and recruiting 22,000 new members in 2002 alone. They now have more than 100,000 members, many in the most unlikely places. At the University of California at Berkeley, there are now 500 Young Republicans and a conservative newspaper, the California Patriot. At a recent convention of Californian Young Republicans in Berkeley (entitled “behind enemy lines”), several hundred enthusiasts marked the 34th anniversary of the People's Park riots by descending on the park to mount a noisy display of patriotism (awakening the local homeless from their mid-day naps in the process). They waved flags, chanted “USA” and sang the “Star-Spangled Banner”. “Like the marines rolled into Baghdad a few weeks ago to liberate the city, we rolled into Berkeley ready for a fight,” as one put it. All this coincides with a general rightward shift in young people's views. Bob Dole lost the 18-29-year-old vote by 19 percentage points; Mr Bush lost by two points. Students have been sceptical about bossy governments for years. Now they are increasingly sceptical about the “Ab Fab” values of the 1960s generation—particularly in regard to casual sex and abortion—and increasingly enthusiastic about America's use of military might. A poll by Harvard University's Institute of Politics in April found that three-quarters of students trusted the armed forces “to do the right thing” either all or most of the time. In 1975 the figure was about 20%. Another poll, by the University of California at Los Angeles, found that 45% of freshmen supported an increase in military spending, more than double the figure in 1992. Why this upturn in conservatism? One reason is a healthy desire to tweak the noses of people in authority. America's academic establishment is so solidly liberal that Naderites easily outnumber Republicans. The leftists who seized control of the universities in the 1960s have imposed their world-view on the young with awesome enthusiasm, bowdlerising text-books of anything that might be considered sexist or racist, imposing draconian speech codes and inventing pseudo-subjects such as women's studies. What better way of revolting against such illiberal claptrap than emulating the character in Mr Allen's film? Another reason is September 11th, which not only produced a surge of patriotism but also widened the gap between students (who tended to see the attacks as examples of evil) and Vietnam-era professors (who agonised about what America must have done wrong). The Harvard Institute of Politics found two-thirds of students supporting the war in Iraq. Pro-war groups sprouted in such liberal campuses as Brandeis, Yale and Columbia. At Amherst College many students were noisily furious when 40 teachers paraded into the dining hall with anti-war slogans. A third reason is that American conservatives devote a lot of energy to recruiting the young. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Young America's Foundation and the Federalist Society are out organising. Conservative foundations finance conservative newspapers and provide scholarships for right young things (one conservative impresario compares funding young conservatives to building a wine collection). The Heritage Foundation provides internships for 100 students a year.This is another, powerful, element of the 'perfect storm' Democrats are facing in the 2004 Presidential election cycle. Also note the role Toby Keith style Public Displays of Patriotism are playing in this generational shift. It looks like I am not the only one who has noticed how such displays drive the old-coot lefties insane. UPDATE: OK, ForNow. ChicagoBoyz' Sylvain Galineau comments from across the ocean, and places the phenomenon in its larger context.
"There is a story about a man who went to a dictionary-compiler and asked him why he was interested in money. The lexicographer was quite surprised and said, 'Wherever did you get that idea?' 'From your own writings,' said the visitor. 'But I have only written that one dictionary — that is my writings,' said the author. 'I know, and that is the book that I have read,' said the other man. 'But the book contains a hundred thousand words! And out of those, I don't suppose that more than twenty or thirty are about money.' 'What are you talking about all the other words for,' said the visitor, 'when I was asking you about the words for money?'So tell us in the Comments section, what is this story really about? And what is the dictionary meant to represent?
August 12, 2003: One of the outstanding new pieces of equipment to appear in Iraq was an item called "Blue Force Tracker." To most users, reporters and troops, this item appeared as a computer mounted inside of vehicles that showed maps of the battlefield and icons displaying the location of all friendly units currently in the area. The real name for this computer system is FBCB2 (Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below System). "Blue Force Tracker" was basically a "FBCB2 Lite," an unfinished version of the final FBCB2 (which has been in development since 1996.) FBCB2 is a more ambitious version of an earlier idea to use small radios to be carried in each vehicle and infantry platoon. The "locator" radio would periodically send an encrypted signal that would identify the unit and its location. Then came the World Wide Web, GPS and cheaper (and smaller) satellite communications equipment. Thus was born FBCB2, which used all of those technologies. Users could load maps from CDs onto their vehicle computers and rely on the satellite link and their GPS to track the location of everyone in real time. For troop commanders, this would be a major breakthrough. Having all the needed maps available on the computer saved a lot of work and confusion. This was because different scale maps were used for moving long distances (say, 1:100,000) or when fighting in an urban area (1:25,000, as you want to see every street and building). In a fast moving battle, a commander and his driver spend a lot of time mucking about with paper maps. There's also a lot of "imagery" (aerial photos) available, and it's easier to distribute these on CDs and keep them in vehicle computers, than in a map case. For the Iraq campaign, FBCB2 was a critical advantage. The "FBCB2 Lite" system was rushed into service, and over 3,000 systems were operating in Iraq. FBCB2 has been undergoing field tests for the last few years, and the 4th Infantry Division, which was supposed to land in Turkey, was the first division equipped with the system (for testing purposes.) But the 4th Infantry was the only unit that was trained and experienced with the FBCB2. Everyone else got a quick course of instruction and off they went. FBCB2 proved it's worth again and again. This was especially true during the days of sand storms. Units of the 3rd Infantry division advanced through the sand storm, and successfully outmaneuvered regular and irregular Iraqi forces and defeated them. The Iraqis were surprised as American armored vehicles came out of the blowing sand, with guns blazing. FBCB2 made it possible, as American scouts (often just one vehicle) went out and identified where the enemy were holed up. Other units then used the digital maps and aerial photos on their FBCB2 screens to move through the sand storm and attack. The Iraqis quickly discovered that if one American saw you, a coordinated attack would follow shortly. This was demoralizing for those Iraqis who got away, and spread the word. The Iraqis didn't know about FBCB2, but did have a fear of American military technology, to which they ascribed almost magical powers. By giving every troops commander, down to platoon (at least in mechanized units) access to all this information, "digital battle command" became more than a buzz word. Despite some problems with FBCB2, most commanders raved about it's usefulness. And this was the "lite" version, without all the features that helped with logistics and other support functions. There were problems with FBCB2, some of which could have been avoided. It was unavoidable that there wasn't much bandwidth for sending large amounts of data over the satellite system. There was limited satellite communications capacity for the 3,000 FBCB2 systems in use. Sending files, or pictures was too slow to be useful during combat, and position updates were often dangerously slow. The interface for instant messaging and the use of graphics was generally considered cumbersome. Some of the commanders noted that most commercial computer games had easier to use interfaces than FBCB2. But poor interface design has long been a problem with software designed for military use, especially in the army. This has been changing over the last decade, but the trend is just hitting the FBCB2 development crew. Given the amount of criticism, much of it provided by combat officers who have degrees in computer science, or are just heavy users of commercial software, we can expect a new, and much easier to use, graphical interface for FBCB2 soon. Getting " FBCB2 Lite" into use in time for the Iraq campaign was a group effort. A lot of generals agreed that FBCB2 was ready for prime time and it would be worth the extra effort to get the system into the hands of the troops headed for Kuwait, and the Iraq campaign. Hundreds of technicians and engineers hustled to get the equipment working, installed and kept working through three weeks of combat. While somewhat overlooked, this was an extraordinary effort, and it paid off big time.This proves something I said earlier in "US Military -- Back To The Future" about the effect of digital networks on American combat power. The American advantage in combat effectiveness over the rest of the world is going to be growing at an increasing rate for very little marginal investment. We will genuinely be able to do more in combat with fewer forces. However, as Iraq’s occupation shows, winning in combat isn’t winning the war. The future of the American military is…PARAMILITARY. That means more boots on the ground, not less. The people filling those boots are not going to be combat arms soldiers. Military Police, Civil Affairs, Signals and Construction Engineers, among others, will be the people we have to recruit for the mission. The only question is about these new paramilitary formations be when do we raise them and what the proportions will be between long service American military professionals, American military reservists, American citizen draftees, foreign sepoys, and locals raised to run their country after we leave. Update: Stephen Hardesty, "The Ministry of Minor Perfidy" has a related comment on US military technical trends. Hafnium explosives, anyone?
A member of the Biotic Baking Brigade, a loose network of San Francisco pie-throwing politicos, said Wednesday that he did not believe that anyone from the group was responsible for the pastry flung in the face of Ralph Nader on Tuesday. The brigade tends to target rich oppressors of working men and women and "wouldn't get involved in progressive politics infighting. It's not our bag," said the operative, who goes by the moniker Agent a la Mode.
The group has pied San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, former Chevron Chief Executive Ken Derr and others. "I do want to stress that anyone with a pie and a vision of a better world can deliver just desserts," said Agent a la Mode. "But in the espirit de pie of the Biotic Baking Brigade, [Nader] is not a worthy target. He's not deserving of a pie...This is one of the first times in recent history that I've actually cringed and said, 'Oh my God.'" Nader was pied - though some media reports said the dessert looked more like a cake - as he endorsed Green Party candidate for governor in the recall campaign. Camejo quickly blamed Democrats, who had lashed out at Nader for drawing liberal votes away from Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race. But a California Democratic Party spokesman suggested that it was internecine Green Party pie-fare.OK, when do these guys start training Hamas in how to protest?
U.S. commitments to protect the Saudi royal family and oil fields from revolution or other disaster stretch back to 1945. But the involvement of Saudi citizens in 9/11, the kingdom's relative decline as the swing factor in world oil markets and the Bush agenda for regional change mean that Washington is no longer willing to overlook Saudi behavior that was left alone in the past. "The old assumption was that the cost of terrorism was sustainable," says one senior administration official. "The horror of 9/11 showed that it is not. You have to deal with the threat now, before it strikes you."...and you see oil market predictions like this: bq. Technological developments over the last 10 years have reduced the cost of producing unconventional oil to below $15 a barrel, so that it is being produced profitably at the price at which oil has sold for almost all of the last 30 years. We'll see later why the much lower production cost of Gulf oil gives the Gulf countries less power than people think. Already a million barrels a day of unconventional oil is being produced, and it is just as good as the black goo pumped in the old-fashioned way. ...and this:
(3) The low production cost of Gulf oil lets the Gulf countries determine how much of world demand they will supply. Wrong. Where the world's future oil supply comes from depends on where oil companies decide to drill wells and make other investments. Since there is much more oil available in the ground than will be needed in the next few decades, oil investors have much choice about where to get oil. Right now there is practically no investment being made in increasing--or even maintaining--oil production capacity in the Gulf region; instead, almost all drilling is being done in other parts of the world. There are two reasons the oil industry is not investing in the Gulf. Owners, not producers, control the benefit of low production costs, so low costs in the Gulf don't necessarily give companies an incentive to invest in producing Gulf oil. And oil producers have strong incentives to avoid sources that are as politically vulnerable as the Gulf seems to be. The Gulf countries could theoretically produce their oil themselves--or give the companies strong incentives. But this requires capital and/or effective decision-making, and so far only some of the smaller Gulf states are expanding their capacity. We have reason to hope that there will be improved regimes in Iraq and eventually Iran, which could very well lead to major production increases--but if Iraq and Iran are both removed from the "axis of evil," we will have even less reason to be concerned about how much of world oil supply comes from the Persian Gulf.When you see that, you know something is up. I don't believe that oil analysis point about unconventional oil going down to $15 a barrel. I just don't see Alberta's oil sand deposits anywhere near that, for example. However, it is useful to say it in print if it blows wind under the Al-Saud clan's robes. The second point about Middle Eastern political risk is absolutely spot on. The only way Western investors with fiduciary responsibility will risk money in Middle Eastern Oil is if they have either 1) obtain a high enough premium into the return on investment to account for the political instability or 2) obtain a reliable political security guarantee. In other words, the only place Western investors will put money into new Middle Eastern oil production after 9/11/2001 is where American ground troops control the oil production. American ground troops will be the only way they can realistically buy into the oil corporation's return on investment calculations in their business plans. When I look at these headlines in that light: * US Questions Saudi Man in 9-11 Probe * Saudi Arabia Frees Westerners Jailed for Bombings * Reports: Saudi Forces, Militants Clash I'd say that the message was received and understood. There were people predicting this U.S. turn against the Saudis in print literally years ago. This is from Tom Holsinger's April 24, 2002 Strategypage.com column titled "One Invasion Won't Be Enough" which talked about what would happen to the Saudis after the fall of Iraq and a successful Iranian democratic revolution:
"These events would be immediately followed by an epidemic of bed wetting on the south side of the Persian Gulf. Once we've secured the oil production of Iraq (which necessarily means our control of Kuwait's) and obtained a friendly regime in Iran, the continued existence of the Saud regime will no longer be in America's interest. The Saud regime is the dominant source of funding for terrorism, especially terrorism against the United States. I expect loss of Saudi funding will cause Islamic terrorism outside Arab areas and Pakistan to tube, and that in Arab areas will be significantly reduced. The Saudi regime has major problems at home such that we might not be able to keep them in power much longer even if we wanted to (its domestic problems are what drives its funding of terrorism), and it certainly can't stay in power if the U.S. government attempts to bring it down through overt (blockade) or covert means. But as with Iran, we might not have to do anything to terminate the Saud regime. American-fostered regime changes in Iraq and Iran, alone, could easily cause shaky Saudi domestic politics to spiral out of control, bringing down the monarchy and replacing it with something more radical and anti-American, though there are also liberal and democratic factions. Revolution in Saudi Arabia or its invasion, with an invitation or without one, would likely see a lot of its oil infrastructure destroyed (it purportedly has long been wired for explosives and quick destruction). Then, after the world has done without Saudi oil for a while, the oil fields (which comprise only a small part of Arabian real estate) would be rebuilt and revived under U.S. government control. At which point we'll also know which other oil-producing countries are still funding terrorism (the likely suspects are Libya, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates). This is pretty scary stuff, but once we invade Iraq there is a major possibility of snowball effects, which include incentives to continue invading. Hopefully the Bush administration has a desired end state in mind. And things could start rolling this summer.Tom also said the following about Europe's role with the Al-Saud Clan's riches in his "The World's Coming Encounter With Andrew Jackson " column from November 28, 2002:
"Foreign governments should definitely plan on the U.S. government doing exactly what it proposes, and most should hope that it succeeds given the Jacksonian alternative. Some could much profit from America remaking the world for its better security at home. Consider that $700-$800 billion in foreign assets held by the Saud regime might become available when that regime passes. Europe could offer sanctuary to the Fair Maid Of Money."In this war you always have to watch what the Bush Administration actually does versus what it says. There has been a pattern of long preparation and then building political, economic and military activity until a final burst of military frenzy that changes everything. Then we fall back to the long slow slog again. This happened with Afghanistan and then with Iraq. The information warfare campaign the Bush Administration is engaging in with the Saudis shows that they are now starting to strategically multi-task. Bush Administration has not finished with Iraq and has not started with either Iran or North Korea, yet they are now preparing the ground in Saudi Arabia. The implications of that development are profound. A good intelligence indicator for the blogosphere to watch for will be France and the other members of the "Axis of Weasel" starting to line up for their Saudi pay day. URL List: Saving The Saudi Connection Jim Hoagland Washington Post, Thursday, August 7, 2003; Page A21 The Dysfunctional House of Saud Stephen Schwartz Weekly Standard, August 18, 2003 issue. "Compromised by terror, the Saudi regime will have to change or die." Saudi Arabia's Overrated Oil Weapon Max Singer Weekly Standard, August 18, 2003 issue "There's no need for Washington to be deferential to Riyadh." US Questions Saudi Man in 9-11 Probe Guardian, UK - 21 hours ago Saudi Arabia Frees Westerners Jailed for Bombings Reuters, UK - Aug 8, 2003 Reports: Saudi Forces, Militants Clash JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) White House accused of stoking oil prices by filling reserve By H. Josef Hebert Associated Press, 8/6/2003 Analysts: Filling oil reserve hurts prices Tuesday, August 05, 2003 One Invasion Won't Be Enough Tom Holsinger Strategypage.com, April 24, 2002 The World's Coming Encounter With Andrew Jackson Tom Holsinger Strategypage.com November 28, 2002
(On Screen): An American institution is looking to expand its sales in Europe. Harley Davidson is the quintessential American motorcycle maker, and for about 3 decades it was the only one (though that has changed). Once there were many but all the others went out of business, fallen in commercial competition with Honda, Kawasaki, BMW, Suzuki, Yamaha.Here's where knowing your subject can be useful. The 'new bike' he's talking about is the V-Rod, the first overhead-cam, water-cooled mass production Harley (it's based on a limited production, highly unsuccessful sportbike called the VR1000). For the gearheads in the crowd, I'll point out that in 2003, all the other Harleys are still air-cooled, pushrod OHV engines - a design Japan and Europe largely abandoned twenty or thirty years ago. So let's go to the stats (source: Motorcyclist Magazine): bq. H-D Dyna-Glide: has 62.5hp and 76.3ft-lb of torque; turns the 1/4 in 13.5 seconds bq. H-D V-Rod: has 109.3hp and 74.3ft-lb of torque; 1/4 mile in 11.31 seconds For comparison: bq. Triumph Sprint ST (my main bike, made in the UK): 99.8hp and 62.0ft-lb; 1/4 mile in 11.52 bq. Suzuki GSXR1000: 152.1hp and 78.0ft-lb; 1/4 mile in 10.08 seconds. "...less powerful, quieter, less in-your-face, more effeminate." Steven? The loud part of most of the cruisers one sees on the street is aftermarket pipes, which manage to be illegal, annoying, and often actually reduce the available power...substituting the sensation of speed and power for the real thing. Actually, Harley is in a kind of a pickle, It is very difficult to meet noise and pollution regulations with air-cooled engines; particularly large-displacement air-cooled engines. Regulations already on the books in Europe and California will make it difficult for them to sell their existing products over the next ten to fifteen years. The interesting business challenge (and the reason I'd short H-D stock) is to convert their customer base, built on tradition and style, to a new platform. Now before we complain about the inherent unfairness of regulation in this case, let's start with this: Harley-Davidson exists today because of government intervention in free markets. The Japanese started making transportation devices ... mopeds and scooters, and by the 70's had begun to develop good big-bore (which back then was over 500cc) motorcycles. Harley was owned at the time by AMF, a leisure and sporting-goods conglomerate, and they were building motorcycles which effectively represented the peak of 1950's technology. They went to the mattresses:
Harley survived and prospered. It was seen by Americans as the ultimate motorcycle, the one you bought when you refused to make compromises. Harley earned a degree of brand loyalty that few companies could even dream of. Harley wasn't just a bike, it was a lifestyle. One didn't just buy a Harley, one became Harley. Harley wasn't just a brand, it was a brotherhood. ... Adapting to a market is good marketing, but what price victory if you lose your soul? Harley Davidson is changing everything that makes Harley Davidson what it is. To satisfy Europe, they will make them smaller, lighter, wimpier, less powerful, quieter, less in-your-face, more effeminate. Harley is trying to find its inner wuss.
These bikes will be Americans the way that Europeans wish Americans were, more like European men. And they're probably going to sell extremely well, as European men everywhere take pleasure in riding on a castrated American bike.
In September of 1982, Harley-Davidson petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) for relief from the importation of heavyweight motorcycles and power-train subassemblies (an engine part). The petition was filed under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, known as the "Escape Clause," which allows an industry to request import relief from foreign competition when increasing imports are causing or threatening serious injury to the domestic industry. In these cases, the ITC investigates the claim and then reports to the president. If the finding is affirmative, the executive branch examines the matter and the president makes a decision within 60 days.They got their tariff, and the Japanese and Europeans were effectively shut out of the big-bore motorcycle market. They used their period of protection effectively, beginning a process of re-engineering their motorcycles and building a strong retail brand - using mainstream retailing and brand-building techniques. De gustibus non disputum est (there's no accounting for taste) is certainly true in the world of motorcycling. I've ridden most of the existing Harley models, and haven't chosen to spend my money on them, because, like many riders, I feel they are overpriced, underpowered, handle and brake poorly, and have a reputation (which they are well on their way to shedding) for unreliability. And, bluntly, because instead of buying a motorcycle to ride, I would feel like I was paying an expensive initiation into a club. Europeans ride. They ride a lot, both as cheap and economical transportation in their congested cities, and as recreation where they ride like absolute loons on their mountain and country roads. Tenacious G and I did a tour of Northern Italy, Corsica and Sardinia on motorcycles, and the people there ride damn well, hard and fast. So I think I can pretty comfortably state that there just aren't a lot of facts to support Steven's thesis; and that, in fact, the post says more about him and his pre-judgment of Europe and the relations between them and us than about the reality of the motorcycle industry. I've said before that they are not our allies except on a case-by-case basis. But we are going to need them in this case - we need them now. And the more we can see and respect them as they are - hard-riding, good engineers, with qualities that we can at times learn from - the better chance we have of getting them to see and respect us as we are as well. --- NOTES & UPDATES --- N.B. * = For those who don't know, the idle of a Harley is typically sounded out as 'potato, potato'. Harley, in fact, unsuccesfully attempted to trademark the sound. * "That's Mister Euroweenie Biker To You!": As reader Jon Hendry notes in the comments, some of those Euro bikers carry shoulder-launched missiles. * More deeply informed commentary from Mike Hendrix, who knows a thing or two about bikes himself. He's less pleased by the changes, or the regulations, but he makes good points and notes some important subtleties. He follows that up with a good response to this article. * Capitalist Lion says: "soul must eventually give way to innovation."
An important element of the complex, I've often fancied, is a general psychological condition that fetishized and aggrandized ordinary, adolescent rebellion against parental authority, and invested it with universal significance, making it and its concomitant sensations the focus of life and politics, to such a degree that experiences that do not include the sensations are found lacking, unexciting, inauthentic, suspect; the flame of sticking it to the old man had to be kept alive, and neither the absence of an actual old man to stick it to, nor the fact that one has become an old man oneself, has much bearing on the matter.Here, I think, you find the psychological engine underlaying the Romantic attachment to (quoting Berlin) '...wholeheartedness, sincerity, purity of soul, the ability and readiness to dedicate yourself to your ideal, no matter what it was.' And what could be more pure than the nihilistic act of terror that denies society's parental power over you and at the same time destroyed the symbols of that power? Only an act that destroyed yourself at the same time. Cody Jarrett, meet Mohammed Atta.
Action: Undermine guerilla cause and destroy their cohesion by demonstrating integrity and competence of government to represent and serve needs of the people - rather than exploit and impoverish them for the benefit of a greedy elite.* Take political initiative to root out and visibly punish corruption. Select new leaders with recognized competence as well as popular appeal. Ensure that they deliver justice, eliminate grievances and connect government with grass roots.* Infiltrate guerilla movement as well as employ population for intelligence about guerilla plans, operations, and organization. Seal-off guerilla regions from outside world by diplomatic, psychological, and various other activities that strip-away potential allies as well as by disrupting or straddling communications that connect these regions with the outside world. Deploy administrative talent, police, and counter-guerilla teams into affected localities and regions to inhibit guerilla communication, coordination, and movement; minimize guerilla contact with local inhabitants; isolate their ruling cadres; and destroy their infrastructure. Exploit presence of above teams to build-up local government as well as recruit militia for local and regional security in order to protect people from the persuasion and coercion efforts of guerilla cadres and their fighting units. Use special teams in a complementary effort to penetrate guerilla controlled regions. Employ (guerillas’ own) tactics of reconnaissance, infiltration, surprise hit-and-run, and sudden ambush to: keep roving bands off-balance, make base areas untenable, and disrupt communication with the outside world. Expand these complementary security/penetration efforts into affected region after affected region in order to undermine, collapse, and replace guerilla influence with government influence and control. Visible link these efforts with local political/economic/social reform in order to connect central government with hopes and needs of people, thereby gain their support and confirm government legitimacy. Idea: Break guerillas’ moral-mental-physical hold over the population, destroy their cohesion, and bring about their collapse via political initiative that demonstrates moral legitimacy and vitality of government and by relentless military operations that emphasize stealth/fast-temp/fluidity-of-action and cohesion of overall effort. *If you cannot realize such a political program, you might consider changing sides. (emphasis and footnote his)What Boyd is suggesting is to do two things: First to reinforce the legitimacy of the government under attack, and second to do so in a way that bridges across to a fluid counter-guerilla strategy. Now to an old Vietnam-era cynic like myself, this bespeaks the "hearts and minds" approach that ultimately failed. But on a fundamental level, his proposed solution is the only one that can work. We need to do two things, according to him (and do read the whole document, it's fascinating even if it hasn't completely gelled for me yet): a) create a fighting force that can outguerilla the guerillas; and b) ensure that the overall population has enough faith in our side - enough belief in the legitimacy of the government - that they will not only not willingly cooperate with the guerillas but will willingly cooperate with us. I'll even suggest that this is probably the best litmus test I can think of for how we're doing...are people in the street helping us catch the bad guys? If they are, we're winning. And it's a reminder that a purely military victory in our circumstance isn't enough. We do have to win the hearts and minds of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Iran, and Syria, and Saudi Arabia, and so on). We're faced with a pest-control problem here. Like the coyote problem that besets suburban Angelinos; we can kill them as we find them; we can make our homes more resistant (both of which are good things). But to ultimately solve the problem, you have to reduce the population. We have the capacity to burn down the forests where they live and breed, but the cost of doing that is extraordinarily high. We need to examine the lifecycle of the pest, find the places where we can disrupt it, and do so. In this, I will argue, the fundamental problem is the tolerance of kleptocracies convenient to our economies and to the investors in our political process. The injustice in those tyrannical societies is the fuel that the engine of Bad Philosophy consumes. So we need to do four things, as I see it: # Attack and kill the active terrorists where we can find them, and destroy the infrastructure (financial foremost, logistical, and physical). We need to convince other states that the cost of them not doing this is that we will.
Observations Related To Moral Conflict No fixed recipes for organization, communications, tactics, leadership, etc. Wide freedom for subordinates to exercise imagination and initiative - yet harmonize within intent of superior commanders. Heavy reliance upon moral (human values) instead of material superiority as basis for cohesion and ultimate success. Commanders must create a bond and breadth of experience based upon trust - not mistrust - for cohesion.I think that sums it up better than anything I can think of tonight.
IF WE STEP BACK for a minute and consider the broader implications of this new global map, then U.S. national-security strategy would seem to be: 1) Increase the Core’s immune system capabilities for responding to September 11-like system perturbations; 2) Work the seam states to firewall the Core from the Gap’s worst exports, such as terror, drugs, and pandemics; and, most important, 3) Shrink the Gap. Notice I did not just say Mind the Gap. The knee-jerk reaction of many Americans to September 11 is to say, “Let’s get off our dependency on foreign oil, and then we won’t have to deal with those people.” The most naïve assumption underlying that dream is that reducing what little connectivity the Gap has with the Core will render it less dangerous to us over the long haul. Turning the Middle East into Central Africa will not build a better world for my kids. We cannot simply will those people away. The Middle East is the perfect place to start. Diplomacy cannot work in a region where the biggest sources of insecurity lie not between states but within them. What is most wrong about the Middle East is the lack of personal freedom and how that translates into dead-end lives for most of the population—especially for the young. Some states like Qatar and Jordan are ripe for perestroika-like leaps into better political futures, thanks to younger leaders who see the inevitability of such change. Iran is likewise waiting for the right Gorbachev to come along—if he has not already. What stands in the path of this change? Fear. Fear of tradition unraveling. Fear of the mullah’s disapproval. Fear of being labeled a “bad” or “traitorous” Muslim state. Fear of becoming a target of radical groups and terrorist networks. But most of all, fear of being attacked from all sides for being different—the fear of becoming Israel. The Middle East has long been a neighborhood of bullies eager to pick on the weak. Israel is still around because it has become—sadly—one of the toughest bullies on the block. The only thing that will change that nasty environment and open the floodgates for change is if some external power steps in and plays Leviathan full-time. Taking down Saddam, the region’s bully-in-chief, will force the U.S. into playing that role far more fully than it has over the past several decades, primarily because Iraq is the Yugoslavia of the Middle East—a crossroads of civilizations that has historically required a dictatorship to keep the peace. As baby-sitting jobs go, this one will be a doozy, making our lengthy efforts in postwar Germany and Japan look simple in retrospect. But it is the right thing to do, and now is the right time to do it, and we are the only country that can. Freedom cannot blossom in the Middle East without security, and security is this country’s most influential public-sector export. By that I do not mean arms exports, but basically the attention paid by our military forces to any region’s potential for mass violence. We are the only nation on earth capable of exporting security in a sustained fashion, and we have a very good track record of doing it. Show me a part of the world that is secure in its peace and I will show you a strong or growing ties between local militaries and the U.S. military. Show me regions where major war is inconceivable and I will show you permanent U.S. military bases and long-term security alliances. Show me the strongest investment relationships in the global economy and I will show you two postwar military occupations that remade Europe and Japan following World War II. This country has successfully exported security to globalization’s Old Core (Western Europe, Northeast Asia) for half a century and to its emerging New Core (Developing Asia) for a solid quarter century following our mishandling of Vietnam. But our efforts in the Middle Ease have been inconsistent—in Africa, almost nonexistent. Until we begin the systematic, long-term export of security to the Gap, it will increasingly export its pain to the Core in the form of terrorism and other instabilities.If this sounds a great deal like recent speeches by Condoleezza Rice or the Grand Strategy that the Bush Administration has published, it is no accident. From Condoleezza Rice's August 7th 2003 Speech:
Confronting Saddam Hussein's Iraq was also essential. Let me be very clear about why we went to war against Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein's regime posed a threat to the security of the United States and the world. This was a regime that had pursued, had used and possessed weapons of mass destruction. The regime had links to terror, had twice invaded other nations, defied the international community and 17 United Nations resolutions for 12 years, and gave every indication that it would never disarm and never comply with the just demands of the world. That threat could not be allowed to remain. Now that that regime is gone, the people of Iraq are more free, and people everywhere need no longer fear his weapons, his aggression and his cruelty. The war on terror will be greatly served by the removal of a source of instability in the world's most volatile region. And, ironically, Saddam Hussein's removal will provide new opportunities for a better Middle East. But if that different future for the Middle East is to be realized, the United States and its longtime allies must make a generational commitment to helping the people of the Middle East transform their region. This has been the president's clear and consistent message.So there you are. America has a grand strategy in the War on Terrorism. The Bush Administration is out selling it, and it has a firm theoretical basis for action. Those that deny this have a vested interest in the Bush Administration failing. UPDATE: As usual, a fine Comments section. May of them address the relationship between the War on Terror and the War on Drugs.
Which brings us to the threat of radical Islam. "You are decadent and hedonistic. We on the other hand are willing to die for what we believe, and we are a billion strong. You cannot kill all of us, so you will have to accede to what we demand." That, in a nutshell, constitutes the Islamist challenge to the West.
Neither the demographic shift toward Muslim immigrants nor meretricious self-interest explains Western Europe's appeasement of Islam, but rather the terrifying logic of the numbers. That is why President Bush has thrown his prestige behind the rickety prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian peace. And that is why Islamism has only lost a battle in Iraq, but well might win the war. Not a single Western strategist has proposed an ideological response to the religious challenge of Islam. On the contrary: the Vatican, the guardian-of-last-resort of the Western heritage, has placed itself squarely in the camp of appeasement. Except for a few born-again Christians in the United States, no Western voice is raised in criticism of Islam itself. The trouble is that Islam believes in its divine mission, while the United States has only a fuzzy recollection of what it once believed, and therefore has neither the aptitude nor the inclination for ideological warfare.He goes on to talk about the demographic implosion in Europe, and ties it to the philosphic collapse of core faiths - by which I can only interpret that he means religious faith. His quote "The trouble is that Islam believes in its divine mission, while the United States has only a fuzzy recollection of what it once believed..." is certainly a powerful one. But I'll challenge Spengler on a few fronts. The first one is simple; his statement of the problem from the radical Islamic point of view is factually incorrect. We can kill them all (and, as has been said, let God take his own). For the foreseeable future, will be able to do so with relative physical impunity, while they may be able to damage two or three of our cities and kill a few hundreds of thousands of our people. Somehow one of the issues that has been forgotten here is the imbalance of absolute power between the United States (and the 'Coalition of the Willing') and the forces we confront. North Korea can badly damage Seoul before collapsing; they have a million hostages, and that is their source of power. The Islamists (my term for the followers of radical, militant Islam) can hijack a few planes and blow up a few hotels. I've commented earlier on the imbalance between the power of Israel and it's neighbors:
Let’s be clear. It would take Israel two, maybe three hours to demolish every structure in the West Bank and Gaza. The limit would be how fast they could rearm and turn around the aircraft. They could do it with conventional munitions and would easily have enough left over to defeat the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and mount a credible threat to the Iranians. They haven't. Why? Because they have to live with themselves, and because they are smart enough to realize that they ultimately have to live with their neighbors. The fact that they would mightily piss off the United States might factor into that as well.The Islamist world is fragile economically and politically (a big part of the driver for Islamist growth), and as a result is fragile militarily as well. Saddam Hussein's daughters are convinced that the armies collapsed because they were betrayed. The reality is, as I kind of suggested, that the military might of Saddam's Iraq was a sham. Col. Jeff Cooper (not the law professor) says that "owning a gun no more makes you a gunfighter than owning a guitar makes you a musician"; a mob of men in uniform, armed with AK-47's may look like an army, may drill like an army, but without the training, doctrine, etc. etc. that makes up a real army, they are in fact, a mob of men armed with AK-47's. Similarly, oil wealth may buy advanced fighters, and the tools to make missiles, but the ability to make - and use - these weapons is a part of a far more difficult task. I can go buy much of the gear that a Ranger carries (I do, much of my backpacking and hiking gear is the effective equivalent). I may have some measure of the training with small arms that a Ranger has (as in fact I do); but that doesn't make me and three friends like me the equivalent of a Ranger team. Brutal dictators aren't very good at the details. It's a defect; they have a whole country to run and very few people they can trust. So we have brittle armies defending weak states. They can (and will) resort to guerilla warfare and terrorism. Given time, and patience, we will defeat those. It won't be easy, painless, or cheap. And we do have a potential vulnerability that Spengler correctly highlights; we do not appear to be as strong in our faith as our opponents. Our faith is harder to articulate, it is not based on a few greybeards who sit and read a holy book whose content is fixed. But appearances can be deceiving; those who drive the nicest cars are not always the richest, nor those who spend all their time quoting scripture the most devout. I'm confident that there is a deep well of faith in this country and in the values that we champion. After all, I've met Sumi. And while Spengler worries, and places his hope in
Grim men of faith - Loyola, Oldebarnevelt, Richilieu, Mazarin - led the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, while the Florentines amused the tourists (The sacred heart of darkness, February 11). The trouble with Strauss, I reiterate, is that he was an atheist, rather a disadvantage in a religious war. The West has no armed prophet. It doesn't even have an armed theologian.I'll suggest that we do; it's a nineteen year old girl driving a Humvee while listening to Pink
"Did Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have access to a U.S. computer tracking program that enabled them to monitor our intelligence-gathering efforts and financial transactions? If so, who is responsible for allowing the program to fall into their hands? And who else among America's enemies might have access to the tracking system? It's an explosive spy software scandal that no one in official Washington wants to investigate."
So this whole tale depends on the wild notion of Saddam et fils taking clandestine possession of a piece of antediluvian software with no connectivity, no support of recent hardware, no compatibility with recent operating systems or network architectures, probably no graphics and with an obscure text-oriented user interface, running on obsolete computers whose makers stopped supporting them years ago and may no longer be in existence. It's a fascinating story, but more fascinating is the credulity of those who perpetuate it as a scandal without even noticing these obvious technical potholes. Saddam and bin Laden huddling in a bunker using PROMIS in hopes of hacking into our intelligence net? We should be so lucky. The frustration would kill 'em faster than we could.There is a scandal here, however, and it was nasty enough to spark a congressional investigation. Reading House Report 102-857: The Inslaw Affair leaves me thinking that calling the BATF "jackbooted thugs" was too specific. The term should be applied to the DOJ as a whole. So what happened? A small firm with a nifty (then) piece of software that the DOJ wanted, and some friends of high-ranking officials at the DOJ could stand to make oodles of money on, ended up going bankrupt shortly after they made the mistake of getting in bed with the DOJ. From the House Report:
there appears to be strong evidence, as indicated by the findings in two Federal court proceedings as well as by the committee investigation, that the Department of Justice "acted willfully and fraudulently" and "took, converted and stole" INSLAW's Enhanced PROMIS by "trickery, fraud and deceit." It appears that these actions against INSLAW were implemented through the project manager from the beginning of the contract and under the direction of high level Justice Department officials.The project manager was a former Inslaw employee who had left the company on unhappy terms - a clear conflict of interest. And in fact, one of his first actions was to explore the feasibility of terminating Inslaw's contract out of 'convenience to the government'. The rest of the story just gets more tangled. The DOJ proceeded to withhold vital contract payments to Inslaw, eventually forcing them to declare Chapter 11. There's evidence to suggest that the DOJ attempted to force Inslaw to convert their Chapter 11 to Chapter 7, which would have forced the sale of PROMIS to a competitor (and it just so happens that one of the interested buyers was a good friend of Ed Meese.) Two bankruptcy courts agreed with Inslaw that the DOJ had deliberately screwed them over, but the decision was overturned on a second appeal over jurisdictional grounds. After that, the DOJ conducted an internal investigation led by retired federal judge Nicolas Bua, which, of course, cleared the DOJ of any wrongdoing. Essentially, the DOJ succeeded in bullying a smaller kid into giving up their lunch money, and got away with it clean. The conspiracy theories about 'backdoors' into the system, and the possibility that there are special chips installed in PROMIS systems that will broadcast directly to NSA satellites, dark whispers of connections between Inslaw and Vince Foster's death, all strike me as material for the tinfoil hat crowd, but the DOJ was clearly the bad guy in this instance. The fact that the DOJ consistently puts itself in situations like this is precisely why these conspiracy theories take root and prosper. The House Report best explains why this matters:
The Department of Justice is this nation's most visible guarantor of the notion that wrongdoing will be sought out and punished irrespective of the identity of the actors involved. Moreover, its mandate is to protect all private citizens from illegal activities that undermine the public trust. The Department's handling of the INSLAW case has seriously undermined its credibility and reputation in playing such a role. Congress and the executive must take immediate and forceful steps to restore public confidence and faith in our system of justice, which cannot be undermined by the very agent entrusted with enforcement of our laws and protections afforded every citizen. In view of the history surrounding the INSLAW affair and the serious implications of evidence presented by the Hamiltons, two court proceedings in the judicial branch and the committee's own investigation, there is a clear need for further investigation. The committee believes that the only way in which INSLAW's allegations can be adequately and fully investigated is by the appointment of an independent counsel. The committee is aware that on November 13, 1991, Attorney General Barr appointed Nicholas Bua, a retired Federal judge from Chicago, as his special counsel to investigate and advise him on the INSLAW controversy. The committee eagerly awaits Judge Bua's findings; [ed: he cleared the DOJ of any wrongdoing] however, as long as the investigation of wrongdoing by former and current high level Justice officials remains under the ultimate control of the Department itself, there will always be serious doubt about the objectivity and thoroughness of the inquiry.In a world post Waco, Ruby Ridge, Joseph Salvati, Inslaw and countless others, I think it is past time that we had an enforcement agency unaffiliated with the DOJ, with firing authority over DOJ employees, tasked specifically with kicking out the sorts of folks who engage in this kind of conduct.... I have a sneaking suspicion that would leave the DOJ completely without management and leadership, but maybe we'd have a chance at pruning out some of the institutional corruption evident in this department.
"I sat at the end of his cot while him and the army general looked up into my eyes as if to say, "Please don't tell me you are leaving". With out hesitation the words "I'm leaving" came out of my mouth. Then there was a long pause as I waited for their response. They both looked at me and looked at each other, simultaneously saying, "This is not good news". They expressed their concern for my safety since I was going to live in Baghdad. They both promised to be there with me as soon as they are released. They vowed to be my shield against any would be attackers and promised to pray for me continuously. Looking through the tent door, noticing the others were gathering outside, I rose to my feet to say goodbye. With tears running down my face I embraced each of them and thanked them for the great example they had been to me and for the many things I had learned from them. They too were crying as I departed their tent, promising to see me again in Baghdad as soon as possible."I've read his blog for a while now, and none of this surprises me. Remarkable - and worth thinking about.
"I knew we were in for a long season when we lined up for the national anthem on opening day and one of my players said, 'Every time I hear that song I have a bad game." -- Jim Leyland, Manager, Pittsburgh PiratesMy blog-mates Armed Liberal and Trent Telenko have been carrying on a running debate here at Winds of Change.NET about the future of the Democratic Party, issues of leadership and foreign policy, and more. Just zip over to our GEO: U.S. of A category archives for a look. For the most part, I've left it alone and covered the rest of the world. Still, there is one angle I'd like to cover. It's about the centrist Democrats who see the importance of the national defence issue, but can't seem to shake some crippling beliefs and behaviours. Untill and unless these habits are examined and corrected, initiatives to reform the Democratic Party and offer a credible voice on national security issues will remain stillborn. Let's begin with yet another demonstration of Jane's Law, on July 4th no less. Democrats for National Security (DfNS) emailed to say:
The Hope Street Group promotes principles and policies aimed at achieving an Opportunity Economy, in part by harnessing the skills, networks and resources of a new generation of business executives and professionals.Sounds pretty good so far. They support what they call the 'opportunity economy', in which market incentives are created and market barriers lowered to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate. I definitely like the sound of that. The details, however, need a bit of work. They have several white papers available online. I'll make one key suggestion for them; following on the excellent usability work of Jakob Nielsen, I'll suggest that presenting multipage papers online only as pdf's is a Bad And Annoying Thing.
BUILDING A NATION OF HOMEOWNERS Making homes more affordable: downpayment assistance for first-time buyersand suggests two basic policy changes:
Making homes more affordable: downpayment assistance for first-time buyers Making homes more plentiful: a tax credit to spur affordable home constructionThey propose to pay for this in large part by:
Adjusting the mortgage interest tax deduction Limiting mortgage interest deductibility to mortgage principals below $300,000. Although eliminating the tax deductibility of interest on mortgage principals between $300,000 and $1 million may seem drastic at first, that the reality is that only 7% of homes sell for more than $300,000, affecting just over one million homebuyers.and
Eliminating the deductibility of interest on second/vacation home mortgages.They admit one issue with their proposals:
"This proposal does not address local regulatory barriers or homeowner education programs, both of which make a crucial difference in promoting or hindering homeownership." Response: There is no question that local regulatory barriers are a major obstacle to home building and therefore to home ownership. The local control that creates these barriers must be preserved. But the local challenges facing developers make federal intervention all the more important. Because the market incentives to build affordable homes are blunted, federal incentives are crucial. Tax breaks to developers of the sort proposed here are designed to let builders get back to building.First, and foremost, the idea of expanding homeownership - as a financial and social anchor - is one that truly can work for many people. They are right on in their diagnosis, but the prescription leaves something to be desired. Let's go through the points. Downpayment assistance. First, why? Why not revamp existing Federal mortgage programs to offer targeted insurance to homebuyers at 100% of the purchase price? The issue is that they will not have any stake in the purchase, and so you'll see a high rate of default. My answer would be to take a Grameen Bank approach, and do two things. First, create a pool of credit that can be used but must be repaid, in conjunction with the high LTV loans. Leverage existing institutions - local churches and some nonprofits that can accept people into training programs, peer them with a small group of eight to ten others, and when they graduate, make them eligible for the loans...and responsible for each other's performance - a key feature in Grameen Bank success stories. Have ongoing credit and homeownership training, and let them work toward either refinancing these 'silent seconds' out, or have them due on sale. Second, the issue is typically the amount of overhead that goes into the government or nonprofit infrastructure in programs like this. By simply creating a new kind of FHA-insured home loan, you'll expand the pool of capital and the existing real estate markets will make use of it; you can then layer on the added availability of 'microcredit' loans with a much smaller investment in infrastructure, and with a revolving pool of capital that will be, to a large extent, self-replenishing. In addition, there is a limited pool of affordable housing in most communities - buyer subsidies will typically wind up in the hands of the sellers as the market clears with the price of homes pushed upward by the new supply of buyers. They propose to deal with it through tax credit subsidies to for-sale housing developers, essentially extending the existing programs that have applied to rental housing. Nice for the developers, but in a marketplace with an immense demand for housing like the ones we have now, unlikely to have a significant impact. They touch on it when they mention that local regulatory barriers are an issue. Folks, they are the issue. Some time I will do a long post on the inherently corrupt and disastrous state of zoning practice in most of the country with which I am familiar, For now, suffice it to say that in the City of Los Angeles, it takes a minimum of eighteen months to get a significant project approved, and typically (and I'm not talking Ahmanson Ranch scale projects) takes two years. Modest 'affordable' homes require high density in urban areas, and both the modest scale of the houses and the densities required mean strong local opposition as homeowners are concerned about protecting their home values from being reduced by an influx of 'lesser' homes. Affordable for-sale housing (which I would generously define as costing $270,000 or less in Los Angeles) returns modest profits to the developers, as opposed to lower-density, larger, more expensive market-rate housing. Greater difficulty, lower profits...hmmm. They will doubtless kick off some housing development with this, and some developers who would have done projects regardless will wind up benefiting, but the overall impact in urban areas will be low. They propose to finance these subsidies with modifications to the mortgage deductibility of 'jumbo' mortgages and second homes. Now I actually agree with them; I actually floated proposals a while ago (before the mortgage interest deduction was capped at mortgages of $1,000,000) that we limit the mortgage interest deduction to 3x the national average, and that we eliminate the vacation home deduction (which is often used for Winnebagoes and boats, anyway). But the political reality is that those proposals are DOA. Good luck, have fun storming the castle, as they say. Actually, it's worse than that. Not only is their suggestion quixotic, but the current economy is in large part being kept afloat by high home prices combined with low-interest deductible mortgages. These home prices are predicated on one thing - the ability to find new buyers who will pay as much or more. And if those buyers can't deduct the mortgage interest - if they have to start paying those high prices with after-tax dollars. Well, you say, it will only impact the expensive houses, which will become less expensive. Driving down the price of the less-expensive houses, and so on ad infinitum. Now personally, I think we have far too much of our national wealth trapped in our houses. I think we overconsume housing both in quantity and cost, and that we'd be better off as a nation (even though I'd be broke) if house prices were substantially lower relative to incomes, and if more liquid equities in productive companies were relatively a more attractive investment. I'll work through their other proposals in the next few days, and drop them a note and invite them to respond. (edited to highlight quoted material)
An early decision was to quit running convoys at night. The Army also consolidated routes to avoid populated areas. That means one route — Major Supply Route Tampa — links Baghdad and points north with Kuwait. A paved alternative runs parallel to the west, but MSR Jackson goes through several towns, and the Army stopped using it because of the added risk. MSR Tampa stays in the desert until Baghdad. Those measures created their own problems, soldiers said. Now would-be attackers can focus their efforts while the sun is up and on just a few roads. It is a daylong drive between Cedar II and supply bases in the north, so bandits and terrorists know when the convoys will pass. South of Cedar II, the route is mostly a 150-mile-long, six-lane expressway where a truck’s speed is limited only by its horsepower and load. Attacks here are rarer because better roads enable the convoys to travel at higher speeds. When northbound trucks reach Cedar II, soldiers and their cargo trailers spend the night. At dawn, a new crew of Cedar II-based drivers take the loads farther north. About 200 Army and civilian trucks hit the road north within 90 minutes of one another in processions of 25 to 35 trucks. It takes up to nine hours to reach Baghdad and another three to four to reach the end of the line at Anaconda, a support base near Balad. About seven miles north of here, MSR Tampa takes a turn for the worse, becoming, at best, a rutted, two-lane gravel road for the next 75 miles. Dust is thicker than fog and the maximum speed is 25 mph. It’s on this stretch that some Iraqis, who the drivers think of more as pirates than terrorists, dig trenches across the road in hopes that a hard bump will jolt loose something from the truck. Others will hide metal stakes to flatten truck tires or use knives to cut loose restraining straps if the truck slows down. "If a can of oil falls off the truck, their day is made," Presley said. As MSR Tampa nears Baghdad, the road gets better, but traffic congestion increases and the slow, exposed convoys become easy prey. "As soon as we get near Baghdad, it becomes more dangerous," said Staff Sgt. Robert Guinther of the 459th. The Army tries to vary routes around Baghdad and avoid traffic-clogged areas near Baghdad International Airport. For most 459th drivers, the route ends at supply base Anaconda. They’ll spend the night there, then run the gantlet in reverse for the return trip to Cedar II.While many in the Defense Department and a few columnists outside it will go into chapter and verse on how Iraq is not Vietnam. It is amazing how history is repeating itself with regard to our Iraqi truck convoys.
The larger message of the Dean candidacy is that the era of TV-dominated politics is coming to a close after 30 years. With dwindling audiences and an increasingly sophisticated electorate, the 30-second ad and the seven-second soundbite are losing their power to control the political dialogue. Taking their place is grassroots organizing, made possible by the Internet, in which candidates grow from the outside, mobilizing on the hustings, guerrilla style, before they take their act to the center stage of national politics. After the collapse of the political bosses in the '60s and '70s, it seemed, briefly, that grassroots direct politics would become the new order of the day. In 1964, enthusiastic, young Republicans overthrew their party's Eastern establishment and nominated Barry Goldwater at a raucous convention in San Francisco. In 1972, the young Democrats had their day overthrowing the party elders and nominating George McGovern. But both Goldwater and McGovern were crushed by the new force of television advertising. Lyndon Johnson defeated the Arizona Republican and Richard Nixon trounced the South Dakota Democrat with a torrent of negative advertising, marginalizing them on the right and left fringes of U.S. politics.and
But the habits that underlay this media domination of politics has ebbed. The top prime-time TV shows now draw 10-15 million households where once they enthralled more than 30 million at a shot. National television news no longer reaches 60 million homes every night, but has to settle for 20 million instead. The low costs of Internet campaigning, and the viral way in which it spreads by word of mouth and person-to-person contact, is offering an alternative to top-driven, capital-intensive TV campaigning. A candidate like Dean- animated by a cause larger than his own ambition - can attract vital support and find himself catapulted into prominence by astute use of this new political tool. Dean may falter as John McCain did, but the inevitable replacement of television with the Internet as the fundamental tool of political communication is destined to accelerate. The true answer to campaign-finance reform, the Internet will open a real possibility of a transfer of power to the people, much as the right-wing Goldwater Girls (like young Hillary Rodham) and the left-wing activists in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had hoped would happen decades ago. As TV's power wanes, so will the power of money to control politics. Just as the political bosses faded into irrelevance, so the excessive power of fund-raisers and big donors is also likely to dropI disagree with this, at least as far as the Democrats are concerned for 2004. The USA Today had an op-ed on the "Wealth Primary" that made clear that it was the same people, the same political monoculture, giving to Dean as to other Democratic candidates:
Even candidates running as insurgents can come to depend on a few well-known political funding sources. Democrat Howard Dean, for example, has generated buzz for raising more than $3.5 million via the Internet, much of it in small contributions. But new reports filed last week at the Federal Election Commission show Dean's fundraising still is heavily concentrated in affluent neighborhoods such as Manhattan, Beverly Hills and Georgetown.and
Based on midyear returns, the fundraising frontrunners for the Democratic nomination are John Kerry, John Edwards and Dean. And one New York ZIP code, 10021, is among the three leading sources of cash for all of the top five Democrats in the race.The Internet's role in Dean's lead in fund raising is simple. Dean hit upon the right message with the Democratic money bags first and the internet allowed him to collect "impulse buy" fundraising contributions first. This is why every Democratic candidate save for Lieberman, has been running an anti-war/anti-Bush screed campaign. They are all shilling for primary cash and hoping that the public won't be paying attention for the General election campaign. (Karl Rove sure is.) So the question remains, why are all the Democratic candidate risking their ultimate election prospects for money, if broadcast television is less powerful as Morris contends? The main reason is you have to win the primaries in order to get a shot at the general election. No money means you lose. And the people giving the money to Democratic candidates want to hear anti-Bush hate speech and anti-War diatribes about no blood for oil. There are a number of other reasons as well. While costly network broadcasting is a declining force, narrow casting through various cable channels, key local TV broadcast markets and radio is still flipping expensive. Next, the cost of accurate political polling, AKA face to face polling, has gone up as people call screen out telephone polling along with obnoxious telemarketers. And last, the renewed and computer aided "get out the vote" mobilizations of core party voters takes a lot of money because it involves a lot of people. Lieberman's finances compared to the other top Democratic candidates shows that his pandering opponents may have a real point. Make no mistake that the Internet is a rising force in American politics. Exactly how it will cut as far as narrow moneyed interest groups versus narrow ideological interest groups versus populist mobilizations remains an open question. The one thing I am certain of is that money will remain the "mother's milk of politics."
Tomorrow will mark the anniversary of one of the most morally contentious events of the 20th century, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. And after 58 years, there's an emerging consensus: we Americans have blood on our hands. There has been a chorus here and abroad that the U.S. has little moral standing on the issue of weapons of mass destruction because we were the first to use the atomic bomb. As Nelson Mandela said of Americans in a speech on Jan. 31, "Because they decided to kill innocent people in Japan, who are still suffering from that, who are they now to pretend that they are the policeman of the world?"He then goes into the emerging history being uncovered by Japanese historians that suggests that the Bomb did in fact fracture the ruling coalition and create the possibility of surrender. Read the whole thing. UPDATE: Sparkey of Team Stryker adds more historical background.
Once a month Quran Bilal drives north out of Baton Rouge, La., in her black Nissan, a car so old she cannot remember its year, only that she paid $700 for it used and that the odometer has now turned 148,000 clicks. A side window is broken and the air-conditioning blows hot. Bilal endures it because this is the only way she can visit her son, Sgt. Hasan Akbar, her eldest, who is confined to a military brig at Ft. Knox, Ky. ... As disturbing as the attack was, Akbar's defense is equally troubling. His mother and his military lawyers say he snapped in the face of relentless ridicule, of him and of Muslims in general. He had complained before his arrest that soldiers and officers harassed him and scared him and trampled on his religion. Moments after his arrest, according to fellow soldiers, he blurted out that he feared ''American soldiers were going to kill and rape Muslims'' once Iraq was taken. If we expect that the U.S. military is a microcosm of society, then such harassment isn't terribly surprising, especially after Sept. 11. But if we expect the military, with its rigorous oversight and strong need for cohesive fighting units, to have less tolerance for religious harassment and other divisive forces, then Akbar's case may provide a painful lesson of the kind the nation has wrestled with since the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and elsewhere where the killers felt they had been hazed or shunned by their peers.There's more... Articles like this tend to make me want to gnaw my way through the newspaper. The good defense attorneys - the $450/hour ones and the ones who take the high-profile pro-bono cases - have become masters of publicity, and I tend to look at articles like this as a salvo in the upcoming legal battle. Even if not explicitly placed by the defense, they say a lot about our attitude toward crime and criminals. The hazing is real, the murders alleged. The article stakes out a broad social critique, and then spirals down to focus on one obviously disturbed young man.
In Akbar's case, it should be noted, harassment might have been just part of the problem. Soldiers testified at his preliminary military court proceedings this summer that he was known for strange behavior, a flaw he does not deny. At his Ft. Campbell, Ky., Army base and in the Kuwaiti desert awaiting combat in Iraq, he often seemed aloof and confused. Soldiers recalled him pacing aimlessly, talking to himself, laughing and smiling at nothing. Army superiors said he was passed over for promotions, given second and third chances to shape up and then reassigned to more mundane duties. ... But despite these advances, his performance began to falter and his superiors began noticing odd behavior. His conduct mystified them, leaving them at a loss to explain his sudden changes. It ultimately led to his being frozen out of future promotions. Several superiors testified at Akbar's preliminary military court proceedings that he was late for assignments. On a training exercise to Louisiana, where he was in charge of making sure other soldiers brought their gear, officers said he forgot his duffel bag. He misplaced his dogtags. On the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, when the base was on high alert, he showed up at the gate without his ID badge, the supervisors said. Army officers said they found him asleep in training classes. They watched him sneak into Army vehicles and try to sleep away the afternoon. He could not keep up with physical exercise, they said, a failing for any sergeant expected to lead troops. He walked aimlessly, sometimes talking or laughing to himself.There's an interesting story to be done...about how an Army with a substantial number of Muslim soldiers - at war with a Muslim nation - manages the obvious conflicts of fellowship and anger. There is a story about the tragic intersection of events in the Kuwait desert that cost two lives - un-named, unremarked except as "It was kind of an ugly scene there," said Capt. Terence Bacon, one of the wounded. "A lot of noise. A lot of screaming. A lot of blood." A good story might have balanced the lives of the dead and the accused and made us wonder how their lives diverged. Instead we're treated to a story which does two things. It humanizes a man who we trained to be a killer and who may well instead have become a murderer, breaking the ground for a sympathetic defense. And it lays the blame for the incident fully on the institution, not the individual. Actually, it does a third, which is to remind me once again how the internal bias and contradictions in the modern corporate media are so damn maddening.
I sense an opening here for a practical libertarian sensibility coming to the fore, from the grass roots ... from the blogs. What makes this sensibility a moderating influence is the tie that it makes to sensible governance.
This country has been whipsawed for too long between those who hate big business and those who hate big government, and who have used both to pound on both, to many bad effects. The trick is to look past the sports events we call elections, to the hard and compromising work we call governance. Are we going to fix the roads? Make public transportation work? Continue opening trade? Fix health care? Can we? (It's a legitimate question.) Should we? How? Visiting those questions with an open mind, I think, is most deeply what networked democracy is all about.Gerald replies:
To return to the thought at the top of the file, when you're a blog everything looks like a post. I'm not among those whose pulse starts to race when yet another pol enters the blogrolls. I don't think it is all that significant. Why? First because it is very premature to start picking winners and losers and the reasons why. Second, because I don't think for a moment these PoliBloggers are sincere. Reasons? ... But hope dies hard, and when a man shows up that not only says things that make the left feel good about itself, but uses the tools of the cyberlibertarian realm in a manner that seems effective, then it is understandable that those deeply embedded in the cyberculture and Blogworld start to perceive a luminosity around a candidate that is not visible to the vast unconnected, unwired, and unconcerned multitudes.I'm of two minds on this. On one hand, I feel like a change in perspective is coming, and in my own shared disaffection I feel like I'm moving with a larger tide. When Doc says "The trick is to look past the sports events we call elections, to the hard and compromising work we call governance," he's definitely talking my language. On the other, I think that Dean is an arguably (I know some folks in Vermont who don't think so) good guy who is using the tools of the Internet to get some early leverage in the race. I doubt that he will be nominated, and if he is nominated, I'll predict a McGovern-level debacle for the Democrats. I do think that the blogoverse is an echo chamber, in which fifty or one hundred conversations take place and suddenly we feel like the world is changing. Gerald is fully in the right to throw some cold water on the fantasies of the Wired Magazine crowd. I commented a long time ago that this blogging thing is a dojo - a training and practice ground - in which I hope to develop my own political thinking so I can take it out and use it in the real world. I'm softening a bit on that, and coming to believe that it is becoming a stream in the giant media Feed that helps define that 'real world'; but I still hold that it's what we do when we're away from the keyboard that counts.
News that major U.S. technology companies, among them IBM, plan to export thousands of high-skill jobs overseas indicates that worrisome trends in the U.S. economy will probably strengthen. Optimists contend that such "workforce flexibility" guarantees that something new ... the Internet, biotechnology ... will turn up to create similar high-paying jobs and carry the economy forward. But rather than triggering real economic development, moving white-collar jobs offshore underscores how reliant the U.S. economy has become on inflating high-end wealth and paper assets to compensate for large-scale job losses. If this pattern holds, the next boom may quickly mutate into another unsustainable bubble, further limiting America's industrial options. ...
Today, if you're, say, a U.S. filmmaker or an executive of a high-tech company, you can freely shift skilled and managerial-level jobs to low-wage or government-subsidized nations or hire at will from a bottomless pool of compliant workers in those countries. As a result, you can accumulate personal wealth much more rapidly. In turn, you pay far more in taxes. This arrangement also makes private-sector employment less secure. That boosts demand for government services like job retraining and education. Tenured, benefit-rich public-sector jobs become more attractive. As wealth creation at the top is fostered, so too is the apparent need for and capacity to fund the public sector. But it's difficult to sustain economic growth this way. For example, during the last boom, the economic link between elite wealth and the public sector was most fully forged in New York City, Seattle and the Bay Area. For a time, housing prices soared, stock options fattened executives' incomes and the resulting tax windfall fed public-sector expansion. When the economy slowed, these areas were especially vulnerable. Land-use, zoning and redevelopment policies had driven out the middle and working classes, leaving behind an unbalanced economic base. Even after the economy soured, growth restraints kept property values high and public spending continued unabated, frustrating hopes for a quick turnaround. ... Democrats have largely abandoned their New Deal, pro-industrial political legacy in favor of an elite-dominated, anti-development sensibility. The powerful public-sector unions that now dominate the party have little incentive to expand the private sector, in no small measure because they disproportionately benefit from the accumulation of massive wealth in a small number of pockets. Across the aisle, Republican economic thinking is increasingly shaped by what political commentator Michael Lind calls "Southernomics" ... a primitive commodity capitalism inspired by 19th century industries like cotton and oil production. Its adherents are unlikely to be troubled by the expansion of a concentrated, aristocratic-style wealth distribution. The party's once vocal advocacy for entrepreneurial, egalitarian development is today rarely heard. It may be that America's flexible labor force is enough to stimulate an unexpected creative breakthrough, reinvent the U.S. economy, replace the nation's dwindling supply of quality jobs and pay off the nation's huge public deficits. But it's just as likely that the next boom will be even more volatile and short-lived than the last one. If so, the pathologies latent in the U.S. economy may become even more entrenched and increasingly difficult to treat.I'm not sure he's nailed the Republican condition, but he's absolutely right on three things: The Democratic alliance between the high-wealth sector and the public employees, as each become more and more dependant on the other (the wealthy to the public sector to deal with the externalities they create, and the public sector on the wealthy to provide the tax revenue necessary); The Republican policy abandonment of "entrepreneurial, egalitarian development"; And the fact that our responses to this...as we are seeing right now in California...leave us with fewer and few policy options as the burden of public debt increases along with the fragility of the regional economic and social networks, meaning that disruptive change becomes less and less possible as we slowly drift downward to Neil Stevenson's prosperity ('what looks like prosperity to a Pakistani brickmaker).
"A human being is not a human being while his tendencies include self-indulgence, covetousness, temper and attacking other people. A student must reduce to the minimum the fixing of his attention upon customary things like his people and his environment, for attention-capacity is limited. The pupil must regard his teacher like a doctor who knows the cure of the patient. He will serve his teacher. Sufis teach in unexpected ways. An experienced physician prescribes certain treatments correctly. Yet the outside observer might be quite amazed at what he is saying and doing; he will fail to see the necessity or the relevance of the procedure being followed. This is why it is unlikely that the pupil will be able to ask the right questions at the right time. But the teacher knows what and when a person can understand."
"Ghazali's way of thought attempted to bring to a wider audience than the comparatively small Sufi one a final distinction between belief and obsession. He stressed the role of upbringing in the inculcation of religious beliefs, and invited his readers to observe the mechanism involved. He insisted upon pointing out that those who are learned my be, and often are, stupid as well, and can be bigoted, obsessed. He affirms that, in addition to having information and being able to reproduce it, there is such a thing as knowledge, which happens to be a higher form of human thought. The habit of confusing opinion with knowledge, a habit which is to be met with every day at the current time, Ghazali regards as an epidemic disease."How often do we see that in the blogosphere? More to the point, what's the proper cure? And if you think you know, then before you share it with us in the Comments section I'll add one more question... belief vs. knowledge: how do you tell which is which?
"Boosters claim that nanotech-derived products may some day cure disease, slow the aging process and eliminate pollution. But for now, the human race will have to settle for tennis balls that keep their bounce longer, flat-panel displays that shine brighter and wrinkle-free khaki slacks that resist coffee stains. "People are saying, 'Geez, this isn't Star Trek yet; this is just pants that don't stain,' but you've got to start somewhere...."Yes. Large innovations are built on smaller ones. More specifically, the tools that enable large innovations come about from investments that make sense for smaller or more mundane uses. Hence Wilson's "nanoclay" coating inside tennis balls, VailSoft Corp.'s Cerax "racing polymers" for skis, Kodak digital cameras and their "OLED" displays, and special 'nano-whiskers' and natural coatings on synthetic threads. In these examples, we see more than science. We see the genius of a system that isn't centrally planned. The innovations it produces are sensible, small-scale, and immediately useful, because the system forces adaptation to on-the-ground needs as opposed to a planner's grand visions. Indeed, these small-scale innovations are what create the climate, discipline of feedback, proven knowledge base, and sustainable research funding that make the realization of grand visions possible. This is rarely a predictable process, as James Burke and others are quick to show us. It is, however, an extremely effective one. Those who practice it get much more than pants that don't stain - they get wealth that's sustainable. UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has some thoughts on the other half of the new technology development process, with a discussion of Greenpeace's paper on nanotech, safety, and regulation.
"Last week, President Bush announced that the water problem in Iraq would be alleviated in two months... In civil-war-plagued Monrovia, Liberia, two days before Bush spoke, the water supply was taken out in a mortar attack, threatening a cholera epidemic. Bodies are reported to be piling up outside the U.S. Embassy. We may be sending troops there soon, and if so, one of the major concerns of logistics planners will be how to supply them with safe potable fluids."Water is critical. People can fast for several weeks without permanent damage, but a week without water will kill you - and drinking contaminated water can be just as deadly. As Jay notes, however, an astonishing new technology is available that could solve these problems as quickly as a few planeloads of the product - a small "magic" bag with gatorade-like powder in it - could get from here to there. It's called a HydroPack (Hat Tip: Joe Maller), has no moving parts, and combines nano-scale membrane technology with the simple principle of forward osmosis. Just throw it into the dirtiest water you can find, let it fill, then sip from the straw. This is a great water filtration technology that should be rushed into the military and disaster-relief procurement system post-haste. On a larger scale, companies like Zenon Environmental offer containerized membrane solutions suitable for disaster recovery, emergency supply, and even ongoing operations of public water systems. With their lack of moving parts and low maintenance demands, these products offer hope to millions - and their deployment should absolutely be part of the planning for military operations in failed states.
"...Randy White, police issues critic for the Canadian Alliance, said that statement flies in the face of what he learned while serving as vice-chairman of a parliamentary committee on non-medical drug use. "I spent 18 months looking at this issue from parliament's point of view," said White. "The fact is medical associations will tell you marijuana has some serious consequences to its use. Also, marijuana has some medicinal use. "But far be it for a judge to make those decisions."I happen to think White's committee is wrong, in that the consequences he speaks of are no more serious than alcohol and tobacco. That said, White's comments are correct. In a democracy those judgments are what Parliament is for. They do have the right to be wrong about a public issue - because if they don't, then the logical endgame is Iranian "democracy" where a superior group of judges (Islamic, in Iran's case) simply nullifies anything it doesn't agree with and passes decrees with the force of law. Which is to say, a Parliament with no rights at all. And that ain't just blowin' smoke.