For those who haven't already heard, likely 2007 MVP winner Alex Rodriguez (aka. A-Rod, Pay-Rod, many less complimentary appellations), has opted out of his NY Yankees contract to become a free agent. In classic Scott Boras style (and Rodriguez too?), they made the announcement during during Game 4 of the World Series.
Obviously, Boras looked at the hate-o-meter last week, and worried that it might be falling off a bit.
Speaking of which, as a baseball fan, my profile mirrors the Left's political profile: I'm not picky about who wins (though I do cheer for my team), as long as the Yankees lose.
Anyway, Baseball Prospectus looks at where he might go, assigning teams to various groups with amusing names like "Gravel/ Tancredo Memorial No-Shot-In-Bloody-Hell" division, "Edwards/ Thompson Memorial Plausible-But-Fading" division, "Gore/ Gingrich/ Bloomberg Memorial Makes-Sense-When- You-Stare-At-It-For-Too-Long" division, et. al.
Place yer bets....
Here is a sequence of photos I took this month as I left Bethlehem in the West Bank and returned to Jerusalem.
The pic above was taken from the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. Driving from Israeli-controlled Jerusalem into the Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem area of the West Bank was unencumbered. Vehicles pretty much breezed right through. The Palestinians have no fear of Israeli suicide bombers coming to devastate their buses or restaurants. After all, there are no Israeli suicide bombers.
Security instructions, in Hebrew (top), then Arabic and finally English. All traffic signs in Israel appear in those three languages.
Palestinian graffitti on the Palestinian side of the security barrier.
Just inside the Israeli side of the barrier is this mural. Sorry for the oblique angle - when we moved directly in front of it, I was too close to get the whole mural in one shot.
I found the mural ironic, since whatever they Israelis and Palestinians have, "love and peace" ain't it, on either side.
Most of the entire West Bank is enclosed by a security fence, about 700 kilometers. About six percent of the distance is a wall rather than a fence because of the density of the buildings present. The fence generally follows the "Green Line," but the Green Line is ill defined in some places. The Green Line, btw, is the ceasefire line agreed to in 1949, at the close of Irael's war for independence. It is not actually a border of any kind. It is called the Green Line because it was drawn on the negotiators' map with a green pencil. Really.
This shot of the security wall was taken near the unused Jerusalem airport. Rock throwers shut the airport down some years ago. They threw rocks over the wall above at airliners landing or just onto the runway, the horizontal, flat gray feature just below the wall. Any pilot who may be reading can imagine how eager airline pilots were to land on runways covered in rocks.
Despite the international controversy about the fence/wall, it would be very hard to find an Israeli of any political stripe who would call for its removal. The fence was erected by a government very reluctant to do so, and was opposed by both Labor and Likud. But the bombings of the Second Intifada, begun in 2000, became so severe that the people demanded the barrier go up. Since it went up, terrorist violence inside Israel has fallen by 80-95 percent, depending the on the region of the country.
The barrier has made life harder for the Palestinians, who complain that it has degraded their quality of life. The typical Israeli responds, "Our lives come before your quality of life." Hard to argue with that.
Yossi Klein Halevi, a prominent Israeli journalist, said the barrier should be named the "Yasser Arafat Memorial Wall."
Update: apologies to writer Malcom Nance, who I carelessly misrepresented as a SEAL.
Over at the Small Wars Journal, Malcom Nance talks about waterboarding and torture.
I've talked - indirectly - about it before, and cited John Boyd, who made the basic point perfectly clearly:
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'll have more to say about this in the next few days. Amazingly, I think I can tie TNR into it.
Helicopters are familiar sights in the sky, and recent years have seen a variety of unmanned helicopter options introduced into the market. Boeing's entry lays a breathtaking challenge before the field: what could the military do with a helicopter-like, autonomously-flown UAV with a range of 2,500 nautical miles and endurance of 16-24 hours, carrying a payload of 300-1,000 pounds, and doing it all more quietly than conventional helicopters? For that matter, imagine what disaster relief officials could do with something that had all the positive search characteristics of a helicopter, but much longer endurance.
Enter the A160 Hummingbird Warrior, which was picked up in one of Boeing's corporate acquisition deals and uses a very unconventional rotor technology. The firm's Phantom Works division continues to develop it as a revolutionary technology demonstrator and future UAV platform. With the Army's Class IV UAV role and the Navy's VTUAV locked up by the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout, Boeing's sales options may seem thin. Their platform's capabilities may interest the USA's Special Operations Command and Department of Homeland Security, however, and exceptional performance gains will always create market opportunities in the civil and military space. At least, Boeing hopes so.
Read the rest of DID's FOCUS Article covering the A160 program...
If you had told me 20 years ago that I'd ever be recommending an analysis of international affairs from the Novosti Press Agency as clear-eyed and worth reading, I'd have said you were nuts. It's a changed world, and Yevgeny Satanovsky shows that Russia's Institute of Middle East Studies beats the motley American set of hacks and fibbers all hollow.
Reminder and newsflash: The rest of the world acts according to its own motivations, and sets plans/ reactions in motion without waiting for America. Being a big player doesn't make you the only player. Get over it. The rest of the world also plays by a pretty ancient and hard-edged set of rules, and let's not kid ourselves about that either.
Satanovsky doesn't kid himself about much, which is why he produces an analysis worth reading. Can't say I agree with everything - but the thing I like best about this piece is that it's not American. It has a Russian perspective, yes - and readers need to pay close attention to that subtext. More to the point, however, it avoids the "America is the center of God's creation, and everything happens because of us/ is just a reflection of our own petty concerns" mentality one finds among the standard set of ugly Americans and fools.
These days, that mindset describes most of the Democratic Party, but its history is rather bipartisan and I often see even supposed "realists" slip into it. The GOP has indulged in a bit of it in the wake of the Democrats "Turkish Genocide" resolution, too - Satanovsky's take on that strikes me as closer to the truth, and he also touches on many of the other issues within the region.
The whole "America is the center of universe" thing is the flip side of some strong and often positive national traits, which is why the above reminder and newsflash is one that I expect to be repeating into the future. Welcome to the latest installment.
Former Soviet government "news" agency RIA-Novosti reports that Iran has signed a contract with China for the delivery of two squadrons (24) of its J-10 fighter planes, which are powered by Russian engines and avionics. Representatives of the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company said China would deliver the jets during the in 2008-2010 time frame. Novosti adds that "Experts, estimating one fighter at $40 million, put the contract's value at $1 billion." Iran's most advanced fighters are currently MiG-29s, many of which once belonged to Saddam Hussein and fled to Iran during the 1991 Desert Storm war, and a handful of F-14 Tomcats that have been ingeniously maintained over the years.
The Chinese J-10 is based on plans sold by the Israelis in the 1980s, after their Lavi fighter program had been canceled. The massacre at Tiananmen Square ended cooperation with western aerospace firms, however, forcing China to install Russian AL-31FN engines instead of American F100/F110s. This in turn forced a slew of alternations owing to changes to the aircraft's new inlet requirements, weight distribution, center of gravity, et. al. Russian avionics with their own set of space requirements also had to be installed and tested to replace American/Israeli equipment, which led to further design changes. Then there were the indigenous Chinese efforts, including the Type 1473 pulse-Doppler (PD) fire-control radar to replace Israel's Elta or the American APG-68. The end result entered service in 2003 after well over a decade in development, and is a rather different aircraft than the Lavi. Nonetheless, it retains the aircraft's canard-delta layout and some of its capabilities, and its aerodynamic layout and known/reported characteristics suggest an aircraft that is equal or slightly superior to American F-16 C/Ds.
J-10s based near key nuclear bomb development sites, along with new Russian air-defense systems, could complicate Israeli pre-emptive strikes - though many other variables would also come into play for such scenarios.
But first, the deal has to pan out. China is denying the story. Which doesn't necessarily make it untrue, but does make it interesting. See Defense Industry Daily's full report...
Israel's relationship with the F-35 program has been rocky at times, but its re-admittance restored its Security Cooperative Participant status in the program, and the IAF still plans to buy about 100 F-35s to replace much of its F-16 fleet. Now the Jerusalem Post reports the Pentagon has agreed to supply the F-35A Lightning II variant to Israel as early as 2012, instead of in 2014 or 2015. This would make Israel one of the first nations to receive the aircraft, and very possibly the first foreign nation. Previous objections to Israel's installation of its own technology in the F-35 (as it has done with every US fighter it has received) were also reportedly overcome; at present, the only Israel technology in the standard version will be the JSF HMDS helmet mounted display system, designed in cooperation with Elbit Systems. Israel also asked to manufacture the aircraft locally at a 1 local to 2 delivered ratio, but the reports didn't indicate whether that request was granted.
The timing and technology agreements reportedly came in the wake of a Washington meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and may represent an attempt to deflect Israeli calls for an export version of the F-22A Raptor. The f-22A has more stealth and capability, and its production line is currently scheduled to close in 2010 so it would be available quickly. The Jerusalem Post also quotes an Israeli defense official as saying that:
"This plane [F-35] can fly into downtown Tehran without anyone even knowing about it since it can't be detected on radar."
One hopes this statement comes from someone who is not involved with the Israeli Air Force, because it's delusional. Any aircraft can be detected on radar, as the shoot-down of an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter over Kosovo demonstrated. The questions are at what frequencies, and at what range? The F-35's rear quarter radar stealth and the infared detection profile of its single 40,000 pound thrust engine compromise its stealth somewhat; the resulting aircraft is stealthier than 4+ generation competitors like the Eurofighter, but less stealthy than the F-22A. Jerusalem Post | Israel Insider | Reuters.
Russia Today carried a story that I liked a lot:
"An amateur astronomer from the Russian Republic of Adygea has built his own planetarium out of locally available materials. Victor Matyushin, a Baptist priest, explains the structure of the universe to his visitors, including from a religious point of view.... When the lights go off, the mystery of space unfolds. Using home-made projection devices, Matyushin shows his visitors Saturn and its rings, the sun and the stars. He says some guests are so fascinated that they come back several times. The place is open to everyone and free for all.... At 76, Viktor is full of hope that someday he’ll be able to save money for modern astronomy equipment. So he can share with his guests - young and old - even more secrets of the universe."
A religious person who also has a passion for science? That's not hard to believe at all. Civilization needs more of them.
One issue that keeps coming up is the question of why this whole Beauchamp thing matters? The neoleft blogs - John Cole et alia - are all "hey, they have a small circulation, it's not a big deal why obsess over it?"
Well, because memes drive ideas, and ideas - in the media monoculture - drive coverage, which in turn drive how we understand what's going on.
I wrote about it before (yeah, I say that a lot, I know, and it bugs me too) when I talked about the murder of Karen Toshima and the perception of gang violence:
For most of the next decade, as gang crime rose, peaked in 1995, and then fell dramatically, the narrative of life in Los Angeles was the omnipresent fear of gang violence.
That fear was fed by sensational media - first news, then movies and television - and it defined and limited life in Los Angeles.
Was gang violence a real issue in Los Angeles before 1988? Of course. Was it something worth spending significant resources on and attempting to suppress? Yes.
But the monomaniacal focus on Los Angeles as the "Gang Capital of the World" created a false impression that Crips and Bloods ruled the streets. Where did that perception come from? From reporting the, like a hip-hop drumbeat, regularly pounded home the point
In a few small pockets, for a few years, yes. But the vast majority of people in Los Angeles - people like me - drove throughout the city, ate in restaurants throughout the city (three of my favorites are in South Central and two in East LA).
But the perception of the city changed. Policies changed as a result - policies that may or may not have been good ones.
In Iraq the stakes are much higher. But the mechanisms we're using to sort them out really are no different. Wouldn't it be nice if they were?
Today, the WaPo gives a good example of why it's worth fighting the TNR issue:
'I Don't Think This Place Is Worth Another Soldier's Life' After 14 months in a Baghdad district torn by mounting sectarian violence, members of one U.S. unit are tired, bitter and skeptical.
I don't for an instant question the validity of what the Post reporter wrote, or the honesty of what the serving soldiers said.
But I'm willing to bet that I could - in a day or two of research I dont have time to do - find similar cites from troops in World War II or any other war that you choose. No one hates war the way soldiers do; talking to the soldiers that I know has convinced me of that.
But sometimes they have to be fought.
And deciding to fight them - and to win, and most important, how to win, having decided so - is important (yes, that's a statement I'll need to take some time and defend in comments), and so it's important that we have a complete view of what's going on.
A news media full of nothing but the heroic exploits of our troops isn't a complete view; neither is one that says our troops are brutal and brutalized, helpless and yet omnipotent, and that the reality of war with either the one TNR stubbornly clings to or the one presented in this article.
We need truth to see our way through this, and truth is ambiguous, morally complex, and fits no one's set agendas.
A call for suggestions on reading material...
Since it's the end of "Islamofacsism Week", I thought I'd toss a question and a request for research help out there to the crowd. I've argued for a while that we face a significant problem worldwide with a movement within Islam (note that 'a movement within' =! 'Islam') that is absolutist, violent, nihilistic, and expansionist, and that we need to break the movement before it becomes the dominant one within the Muslim community (at which point my little equation may be incorrect).
In my view the roots of this movement are as European as they are Islamic.
There are three European-influenced movements that I've found in modern Islamic thought; Pan-Arabism - the notion of the 'Arab People' as one nation; the Palestinian movement; and the Muslim Brotherhood, and it's descendents down to Al Ida.
All three have strong European roots, and in two cases, appear to have foundational connections to (actual as opposed to Bushitler) Nazism.
I wrote about Pan-Arabism a while ago:
I picked up Bernard Lewis' collection of essays 'From Babel to Dragomans' and have been working through it in my odd moments. One of his essays, on Pan-Arabism, makes the following connections:...the first theoretical statement of pan-Arabism is the work of a certain 'Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (?1849 - 1902), nowadays generally regarded as the ideological pioneer of pan-Arabism...He is principally remembered for two books, both of which were attacks on the Ottoman Sultanate in general and on the reigning Sultan, Abdulhamid II, in particular...The second [book], entitled Umm al-Qura (The Mother of Cities, i.e. Mecca)...is hardly more original than the other [Lewis suggests that Kawakibi's first book was a hash of Della Tirannide, by Alfieri], being to a large extent a reflection of the views expressed by the English Romantic poet Wilfred Scawen Blunt in his book The Future of Islam, published in 1881 and setting forth the idea of an Arab Caliphate.Bin-Laden's core philosophy is thus the restoration of something that never was - an Arab (as opposed to Turkish) Caliphate. Something suggested originally by a British Romantic poet. The philosophical lineage is there; now it just needs to be explored. Blunt's book is at the UCLA library, and sometime in the next few weeks, I'll go pick it up and report.
(I never did, but will...)
Lewis continues:The second intellectual precursor of pan-Arabism was another Syrian, this time a Christian, Negib (Najib) Azoury (birthdate unknown - died 1916). Azoury was a Maronite or Uniate Catholic Christian who studied in Istanbul and Paris and later became a provincial official in Jerusalem. He left his post in unknown circumstances and seems to have been condemned to death in absentia in 1904, when he fled to Paris. In the following year, he published a book, Le reveil de la nation arabe. He spent most of the remaining years of his life in Paris, where he formed an organization - probably a one-man show - called the 'Ligue de la patrie arabe' ... The name, it has been remarked is reminiscent of the anti-Drefusard 'Ligue de la patrie francaise', which flourished in the late eighteen nineties. His writings reflect the anti-Semetic obsessions with worldwide Jewish power which were current in anti-Dreyfusard circles...So the roots of Islamist thought can be seen as going back to the salons of London and cafes of Paris. That matters, both because it shows that the philosophy we're fighting against is a relatively recent one - this isn't thousands of years old - and that it had other paths to follow:The new and significant elements in Kawakibi's writings are 1) his clear and explicit rejection of the Ottoman Caliphate; 2) his insistence on the Arabic-speaking peoples as a corporate entity with political rights of its own and 3) most radical of all, his idea of a spiritual Caliphate which would presumably leave politics and government to a secular authority separate from religious authority and law, entirely within the scope of human decision and action. (emphasis added)
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 1920's by an Egyptian schoolteacher, Hassan al-Banna. He is often sited as having corresponded with and received aid from the Nazi Party; one thing I'd love to get pointed to is one or two good biographies of him. al-Banna was one of Qutb's mentors, and Qutb's writings strongly influenced not only the Muslim Brotherhood but the movements that we loosely call 'Islamist' today.
And finally, we have Mohammad al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem (so created by the British, btw), who spent World War II in Germany trying to be helpful to the Reich. al-Husayni was Yassir Arafat's predecessor and as reported, sponsor. Here's also someone I'd like to know more about.
But I think that it's fair to suggest that there are enough ties to fascism that it's not outrageous to use the term. But it's always worth learning more. And learning more about the links between European anti-Enlightenment philosophy and Islamism as well.
the common roots may explain why it is that anti-enlightenment movements and Islamist movements seem to make such good bedfellows.
Russia's RIA Novosti press agency. "Protecting Earth Against Asteroids":
"Anatoly Perminov, the Russian Space Agency chief, announced at a recent news conference that there were plans to develop a space system that could protect the Earth from a potential asteroid impact by 2040."
I'll raise a shot of Stoli to that. Glad someone is looking into this seriously. Russia's resources are giving it some serious cash. It would be nice to see some of it head that way, and see Russian science show itself to be back in the game at a world-class level (of course, some say it never left, just moved to Israel...).
Reading the news lately, I thought of two things. One is that thousands of square miles of Ontario burn down in big fires every year. It's just that it happens in the north, where there's very little human population to speak of. The other was a video game.
If you were a kid who lived anywhere in Ontario (or a few places in upstate New York) over the last 4 decades or so, you probably spent some time at the Ontario Science Center. I visited the place a few times as a kid, and of course it was awesome because it was all about exhibits you were supposed to touch and play with to make them do stuff. That was cool.
What was even cooler is that even back in the 1970s and early 1980s, they had a couple of videogames there. One was a lunar lander vector graphics game that accurately gauged velocity and fuel consumption; the goal was to land on the moon at a speed the lunar lander could handle. We'd get so frustrated with that one that we'd point the lander horizontally, fire the rockets, and see who could build up the most speed when they hit the lunar mountain. But I did eventually get to a point where I could land it a few times. Not sure what we would have done about subsequent take-off given my fuel state, but anyway...
Then there was this other game, which was focused on stuff more local to Ontario. It was color raster/pixel graphics. You got a trackball and pointer, and an array of resources at hand: a couple water bombers, some backburn crews, some diggers. That sort of thing. The game started with one red square somewhere. That was a forest fire. Next thing you knew, there were some yellow squares around it. They'd go red very soon, and create other yellow squares. Some would even "jump" over a square or two. You can imagine how it went: yellow, red, then black when it was burnt out.
I must have played that game 40 times. I think I won twice, both times by nailing the fire with a water bomber right at the beginning. Landing on the moon was something I could eventually get right. But if I was even a little bit late hitting that first red square, Smokey the Bear and all his pals - including me - were well and truly hosed.
I wish southern California's fire fighters, and the area's people, the best of luck. I hope they do better than I did.
See the update at the bottom.Here's TNR's response to the Beauchamp documents that have been making the rounds.
Since our last statement on "Shock Troops," a Diarist by Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp that we published in our July 23 issue, we have continued our investigation into the article’s veracity. On Wednesday, for a brief period, The Drudge Report posted several documents from the Army’s own investigation into Beauchamp’s claims. Among those documents was a transcript of a phone conversation that TNR Editor Franklin Foer and TNR Executive Editor J. Peter Scoblic had with Beauchamp on September 6 - the first time the Army had granted TNR permission to speak with Beauchamp since it cut off outside contact with him on July 26. During this conversation, Beauchamp refused to discuss his article at all: "I'm not going to talk to anyone about anything," he said. In light of that phone call, some have asked why The New Republic has not retracted "Shock Troops."OK, I'm gonna call significant bullshit here. I'll yield to people who know the Army better than I do (Jimbo?), but they can't toss him into a Gulag for talking to the press. He can be dishonorably discharged; he can spend six months on shit burning detail while he waits to get out. But then he gets out - there's a fat book contract waiting for him, a lecture circuit, and he can understudy for William Arkin. No commander is going to put him into combat, he's not going to get fragged. The Army cannot enforce his silence for very long. And so there's no way a stonewall by the Army makes any sense, because it will collapse soon - and it will be career ending for the officers and NCO's involved when it does. It's not like the Tillman lies - the interested party there was dead, his survivors and those who benefited from the coverup were the ones who pushed the issue; here Beauchamp is very much alive and has a whole lot to gain by not only publicly standing up to repression by the Army but by becoming a whistleblower on Army wrongdoing.
The answer is simple: Since this controversy began, The New Republic’s sole objective has been to uncover the truth. As Scoblic said during the September 6 conversation: "[All we want out of this, and the only way that it is going to end, is if we have the truth. And if it’s - if it’s certain parts of the story are bullshit, then we'll end that way. If it’s proven to be true, it will end that way. But it’s only going to end with the truth." The September 6 exchange was extremely frustrating; however, it was frustrating precisely because it did not add any new information to our investigation. Beauchamp’s refusal to defend himself certainly raised serious doubts. That said, Beauchamp’s words were being monitored: His squad leader was in the room as he spoke to us, as was a public affairs specialist, and it is now clear that the Army was recording the conversation for its files.
The next day, via his wife, we learned that Beauchamp did want to stand by his stories and wanted to communicate with us again. Two-and-a-half weeks later, Beauchamp telephoned Foer at home and, in an unmonitored conversation, told him that he continued to stand by every aspect of his story, except for the one inaccuracy he had previously admitted. He also told Foer that in the September 6 call he had spoken under duress, with the implicit threat that he would lose all the freedoms and privileges that his commanding officer had recently restored if he discussed the story with us.
On September 14, we also spoke at length with Major John Cross, who led the Army’s investigation into the Beauchamp case. Contrary to reports in The Weekly Standard and other outlets, Cross explicitly said that Beauchamp "did not recant" his article in the sworn statements he had given the Army. Moreover, although the Army’s investigation - which declared that the claims in "Shock Troops" were false - purported to be conclusive, Cross conceded that there were at least a dozen soldiers in Beauchamp’s platoon whom he had not interviewed. TNR pressed for clarification:
Scoblic: So you didn't get statements from everyone in his platoon, then?
Cross: We got statements from everyone in his platoon that was available that day we were conducting the investigation.
Scoblic: At a later point did you follow up with any of the people that weren't available that day?
Faced with the fact that Beauchamp stood by his story and the fact that the Army investigation had serious gaps - as well as the fact that our earlier reporting had uncovered significant evidence corroborating Beauchamp’s accounts - The New Republic decided to continue its investigation.
Gosh, let's go to the docs we have for a moment.
We'll start with the TNR 'investigation' with BEA - the manufacturer of the Bradley. Here's Bob Owens, who talked to them as well:
Bob, I received your earlier email and wanted to talk to some others about the specific questions you asked. To answer your last question first, yes, I did talk to a young researcher with TNR who only asked general questions about "whether a Bradley could drive through a wall" and "if it was possible for a dog to get caught in the tracks" and general questions about vehicle specifications.In short, the TNR researcher did not provide the text of "Shock Troops" for Mr. Coffery to review, and only asked the vaguest possible questions. It seems rather obvious that this was not an attempt to actually verify Beauchamp's claims, but was instead designed to help The New Republic manufacturer a whitewash of an investigation.
There were (basically) three significant stories told by Beauchamp:
1) He insulted a burned woman at lunch;
2) They found a mass grave and one of the soldiers played with human bones;
3) Bradley drivers deliberately damaged structures and ran over dogs;
Let's start with #1. Here Beauchamp acknowledged that he'd moved this from a dining hall in Kuwait - where was was being staged into the war - into a dining hall at his base by error or for dramatic purposes, whatever.
Here's the military's investigative report:
c. To verify the existence of a disfigured woman at the FOB Falcon DFAC, I surveyed several Soldiers from across Task Force 1-18TN because they have been here the same amount of time as Private Beauchamp. Statements were taken from: (I) CPT Lee Showman - Exhibit T
(2) SSG Jesse Martin - Exhibit U
(3) SSG Francis Hancock - Exhibit V
(4) SGT Craig McLaughlin - Exhibit W
(5) SPC William Whitmore - Exhibit X
(6) PV2 Jarrid Ilgenfritz - Exhibit Y
Every Soldier interviewed did not recall a disfigured woman in a tan military type uniform. Additionally, CPT Johnson verified with PFC Kloos, a friend of Private Beauchamp who is currently located on Joint Security Substation Black Lion, that he had never seen this woman either.
OK, says, TNR, but you haven't talked to every soldier that served with Beauchamp - "Cross conceded that there were at least a dozen soldiers in Beauchamp’s platoon whom he had not interviewed" but you know what? What are the odds that a sample of people in your office wouldn't recall seeing someone strikingly disfigured? Not one soldier has come forward - did the woman meet anyone else in Kuwait? No one has come forward and said "Yeah, I remember someone like that..." Hell, the insulted woman herself hasn't come forward - and you'd think she's want a piece of Beauchamp. So TNR, while you're demanding that the Army take time out from the war to interrogate every member of Beauchamp's batallion, why don't you take a moment or two and point the victim out to us? You want the Army to prove conclusively that something didn't happen; all you have to do to gain credibility in this is show us that it might have. I won't hold my breath.
Let's go to #2. There was no mass grave.
(5) Sworn statements from Private Beauchamp stating that he did not hit or target dogs as a driver of a Bradley nor did he see a "mass grave" but did find
animal bones during the initial occupation of Combat Outpost Ellis - Exhibit E
c. That the desecration of human remains and the discovery of a "Saddam-era dumping ground" is false. CPT Erik Pribyla reports of seeing a "skull and what appeared to be a human femur" during the reconnaissance of Combat Outpost Ellis. He gave orders for the skull and femur to be buried with as much dignity as possible during the initial occupation of Combat Outpost Ellis (Exhibit G). PFC King reports that he buried the skull (Exhibit I). Other Soldiers report that there were several animal bones discovered during the initial occupation as well (Exhibits G, H. M. R & S). I fmd that the second set of bones were probably those of chicken. goat, or sheep remains. commonly found on Iraqi farmsteads in trash piles where they are dumped after a meal. The bones were collected and interred in a discreet manner. At no time did a Soldier place the cranial bones on his bead or wear them on patrol (Exhibits J, K, & N).
OK so he interviewed the soldiers who did the burying, and they are saying - what, exactly? Is there any way to make TNR's story - because it isn't Beauchamp's any more - out of this statement?
So, the response is that everyone is lying to under pressure from the Army. Let's speculate on that for a moment.
In WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, it would have sucked big time to a be a military whistleblower. What do you think about it today? Back to Beauchamp. What would the world look like if he was sure of his facts and was willing to take on the Army?
Let's go to #3. To restate:
(5) Sworn statements from Private Beauchamp stating that he did not hit or target dogs as a driver of a Bradley...
From the manufacturer of the Bradley, first the nature of the 'validation' conducted by TNR - from a named person, Doug Coffey:
Bob, I received your earlier email and wanted to talk to some others about the specific questions you asked. To answer your last question first, yes, I did talk to a young researcher with TNR who only asked general questions about "whether a Bradley could drive through a wall" and "if it was possible for a dog to get caught in the tracks" and general questions about vehicle specifications.
Now what he said when he'd reviewed the TNR stories:
I can't pretend to know what may or may not have happened in Iraq but the impression the writer leaves is that a "driver" can go on joy rides with a 35 ton vehicle at will. The vehicle has a crew and a commander of the vehicle who is in charge. In order for the scenario described to have taken place, there would have to have been collaboration by the entire crew.
The driver's vision, even if sitting in an open hatch is severely restricted along the sides. He sits forward on the left side of the vehicle. His vision is significantly impaired along the right side of the vehicle which makes the account to "suddenly swerve to the right" and actually catch an animal suspect. If you were to attempt the same feat in your car, it would be very difficult and you have the benefit of side mirrors.
Anyone familiar with tracked vehicles knows that turning sharply requires the road wheels on the side of the turn to either stop or reverse as the road wheels on the opposite side accelerates. What may not be obvious is that the track once on the ground, doesn't move. The road wheels roll across it but the track itself is stationary until it is pushed forward by the road wheels.
The width of the track makes it highly unlikely that running over a dog would leave two intact parts. One half of the dog would have to be completely crushed.
It also seems suspicious that a driver could go on repeated joy rides or purposefully run into things. Less a risk to the track though that is certainly possible but there is sensitive equipment on the top of the vehicle, antennas, sights, TOW missile launcher, commander and if it was a newer vehicle, the commander's independent viewer, not to mention the main gun. Strange things are known to happen in a combat environment but I can't imagine that the vehicle commander or the unit commander would tolerate repeated misuse of the vehicle, especially any action that could damage its ability to engage.
Which is, by the way, consistent with what the 'toy tank brigade' said about Bradley operations.
And let's note something else - Bob Owens names a name. The military documents name names. TNR? "...as well as the fact that our earlier reporting had uncovered significant evidence corroborating Beauchamp’s accounts...".
Now they start talking process:
On August 10, we had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of the Army for all documents pertaining to its investigation of Beauchamp, particularly any statements Beauchamp had signed. But it was not until October 10 that Central Command informed us that the FOIA request was finally under review by the appropriate office. We also repeatedly tried to get these documents directly from the First Infantry Division, to which Beauchamp is assigned, but we were told that they could be released only through a FOIA request. We also tried to get the statements from Beauchamp himself. However, when Beauchamp requested a copy of his own statements from an Army legal adviser, he was told that he first had to coordinate any dissemination of them with Army public affairs.
It was as we were awaiting the documentary record of the Army’s investigation that the Army leaked several documents, including the September 6 transcript, to The Drudge Report, which incorrectly reported that the documents show that Beauchamp had recanted. In fact, they show no such thing, and Drudge soon removed the supporting documents from its website, and later its entire report.
The New Republic is deeply frustrated by the Army’s behavior. TNR has endeavored with good faith to discover whether Beauchamp’s article contained inaccuracies and has repeatedly requested that the Army provide us with documentary evidence that it was fabricated or embellished. Instead of doing this, the Army leaked selective parts of the record - including a conversation that Beauchamp had with his lawyer - continuing a months-long pattern by which the Army has leaked information and misinformation to conservative bloggers while failing to help us with simple requests for documents.
We have worked hard to re-report this piece and will continue to do so. But this process has involved maddening delays compounded by bad faith on the part of at least some officials in the Army. Our investigation has taken far longer than we would like, but it is our obligation and promise to deliver a full account of our findings.
Here, again, I'll call bullshit. Let's start with one basic thing - They talked to Beauchamp twice, on Sept 7 and three weeks later. Why didn't they disclose that? Why did they leave their audience believing that he was in durance vile, unable to update his MySpace page, talk to his editors, or anything else?
And what is TNR expecting to come up that will stand up against the sworn statements in the Army investigation? In an excellent post Bob Owens suggests:
What Could They Be Waiting On? The answer is revealed in the transcript of the September 7 call, where Franklin Foer and Peter Scoblic repeatedly focus on getting the two sworn statements signed by Scott Beauchamp - to the point of conferencing in his TNR-appointed lawyer - to try to get Beauchamp to release them.
I'm not sure what Foer thinks he will find in those two sworn statements by Beauchamp that will carry more weight than the sworn statements of every other soldier interviewed during the course of the investigation that refute the allegations in "Shock Troops."
But Beauchamp already made sworn statement to the Army -
(5) Sworn statements from Private Beauchamp stating that he did not hit or target dogs as a driver of a Bradley nor did he see a "mass grave" but did find
animal bones during the initial occupation of Combat Outpost Ellis - Exhibit E
And they didn't need a FOIA action to get the sworn statements from Beauchamp, they just needed his OK:
Scoblic: The reason we wanted to bring you in Gcne is that Scott said that he'd be willing to get us a copy of his statements to the Anny, but he had difficulty doing that there because of his schedule. We thought that it might be easier for you to do it from your perch in Washington but you know- as we pointed out to him, the question has been what does Scott want? You two need to talk directly for him to give you pennission to obtain those statements and then with us, he'd be willing to do that. so we wanted to conference you in during this ...during the time we're able to talk to Scott and make sure we're all on the same page and you can just go ahead and do that.
Gene: Yeah. Scon· here's what you have to do: you have to fax me something with your signature on it authorizing me the release of all documents concerning this matter to me.
Beauehamp: Okay. All right.
Gene: And then I can take that ... put your signature and your unit and your social security number on it. You got to fax me something... (unintelligiblc) an email will not work so sign it, (unintelligible) and fax it. I'm just saying that's what the military will want. And once you fax me that indicating that I am representing you, I will do what I can to get the documents.
Gene: Scott, I'm also going to ask that you telephone me at your convenience so you and I can discuss this in private.
Beauchamp: Yeah. Okay.
Gene: All right?
Scoblic: Can you do this right now for me? Is there a fax machine at Falcon?
Beauchamp: Urn ...
Scoblic: Can you just grab a piccc of paper. ..
Beauchamp: I'm not going to do it right now...um... I'll talk to, I'll call Gene later and discuss it with him. And we'll...
Beauchamp: I mean we'll discuss it in private how we're going to do it. But. I'm doing this guys, ..
Beauchamp: I'm doing this for you guys. I'm getting you these documents because you have been putting a lot on the line to defend... personally... to help me out and I wouldn't... I'm not releasing these to the public just to release these to the public because I do understand that you've been trying to look out for me personally. But at the same time, it is a personal decision.
Now there are a fair number of possible interpretations we can put on all this information, that's to be sure.
But a responsible, honest reviewer - something TNR has shown itself lacking - would be saying very different things in light of the information we do have in hand.
TNR could have said that they were unsure of the truth of the stories (as they were when this conversation was over); they could have said that there was conflicting information, that facts that needed to be proven were as yet unproven, and so they were - conditionally - withdrawing them, and that once these had been reported, they would be back with boots on if the stories turned out to be true.
Instead we get deceit, silence, and chestbeating. And, I'll add, they have now sold Beauchamp out, since he is committed not to speak to the media except with prior approval, and it certainly appears that he violated that requirement:
The next day, via his wife, we learned that Beauchamp did want to stand by his stories and wanted to communicate with us again. Two-and-a-half weeks later, Beauchamp telephoned Foer at home and, in an unmonitored conversation, told him that he continued to stand by every aspect of his story, except for the one inaccuracy he had previously admitted.
So lawyered-up magazine TNR appears to stick it to Beauchamp.
But he was under duress, TNR claims:
He also told Foer that in the September 6 call he had spoken under duress, with the implicit threat that he would lose all the freedoms and privileges that his commanding officer had recently restored if he discussed the story with us.
Hmmm. here's Michael Yon, who spoke with Beauchamp's commander:
LTC Glaze seemed protective of Beauchamp, despite how the young soldier had maligned his fellow soldiers. In fact, the commander said Beauchamp, having learned his lesson, was given the chance to leave or stay. ...
He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right.
So are they locking Beauchamp down? Ziptying him to the 50-cal on his Bradley? Not likely:
It can be pretty tough over here. The soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit have seen a lot of combat. Often times soldiers are working in long stretches of urban guerrilla combat dogged by fatigue and sleep deprivation. This is likely one of the most stressful jobs in the world, especially when millions of people are screaming at you for failures that happened three years or more ago, and for decisions to invade Iraq that were made when you were still a teenager. Just as bad is the silence from the untold millions who have already written off your effort as hopeless. Add that to the fact that buddies are getting killed in front of you. (More than 70 killed in Beauchamp’s brigade.) I see what these young men and women go through, and the extraordinary professionalism they nearly always manage to exude awes me on a daily basis.
Again, ask yourself, as a commander - in an environment like that, you have an unhappy soldier who is bringing bad and unwanted publicity down on you, who is unwilling to support his buddies, and who really wants out.
Where would he be?
On a plane to freaking New York, that's where. With a golden passport to a writing career and a happy, loving wife.
So who's putting duress down on Beauchamp, again?
Scoblic: What are you going to do after this job? Are you staying in the Army?
Beauchamp: Um, I don't know what I want to do. Um I haven't made up my mind yet what I want to do.
11 Scoblic: Ah...you're not going to be able to write any more after this...you know that, right?
Foer: Ellie sent me an email to tell you that it's the most important thing in the world for her that you say that you didn't recant.
Sorry, this defensive, self-righteous crap doesn't stand. I don't care if TNR is prowar, antiwar, or doesn't give a fuck. They slandered the troops, lied about what they did to bring those slanders to press, and are stonewalling and hoping their supporters in the blogs will push back enough let it die.
"Why does it matter?" ...it's a tempest in the New York media teacup - one that is becoming less relevant by the month. You're right. So here's a proffer, from one of the 'conservative' (heh) blogs hounding them on this. Let's see the left blogs supporting them simply say - "look, they too far out on a limb on this, and it's cracking. TNR has behaved horribly in this and damaged their credibility, and they need to do something to start building it back."
Then we can start talking about important issues in the war. Meanwhile, we can censure, then move on. Right?
Update: I realized I neglected to add one of the more damning misrepresentations by TNR:
Here's TNR's position:
TNR has endeavored with good faith to discover whether Beauchamp’s article contained inaccuracies and has repeatedly requested that the Army provide us with documentary evidence that it was fabricated or embellished. Instead of doing this, the Army leaked selective parts of the record-including a conversation that Beauchamp had with his lawyer-continuing a months-long pattern by which the Army has leaked information and misinformation to conservative bloggers while failing to help us with simple requests for documents.
The accurate statement here would be "a converstaion that Beauchamp and others had with his lawyer" but that's just me complaining about a cheap shot.
Here's the transcript from Sept. 7:
Beauchamp: I can get copies of any legal documents that pertain to me. I can get copies for me. Scoblic: And can you share those with us?
Beauchamp: Um... probably.
SSG Preiszler: Yes, you can share it with them.
Beauchamp: Yeah, I can.
The key documents are Beauchamp's two sworn statements to the Army investigators:
Scoblic: Can you tell us what was in those statements? Beauchamp: The ... there were two sworn statements and um... since you since you're
the magazine I was published in, I will try to get you copies of those. Urm...
Now those documents are referenced in the investigation report:
(5) Sworn statements from Private Beauchamp stating that he did not hit or target dogs as a driver of a Bradley nor did he see a "mass grave" but did find animal bones during the initial occupation of Combat Outpost Ellis - Exhibit E
Now I don't know the Army - I'll certainly admit that - but I do know buraucracies. And having referenced Beauchamp's statements, I'd say the odds they don;t exist, or say something far different than what is summarized are pretty vanishingly small.
It's possible that thery were lawyer-worded in such aa way as to make that summary technically accurate but factually inaccurate; I can't imagine how it would be. And it's certainly possible that the Army is flat-out lying - but those odds are vanishingly small (see 'stonewalling' above).
But one thing that seems pretty incontrovertable is that the key documents in the matter have been either under the control of Scott Beauchamp or the lawyer TNR obtained for him since Sept 7. I'd love to know who 'Gene' is and have someone with more journalistic impulse than I have chase him down and ask him simply if he has Beauchamp's documents.
But I don't see how TNR is doing anything except "well, we asked for 2000 documents, and we only got 20, and we can't say anthing until we have all 2000." That's fine, except - a) if the 20 documents you have blow up the story, do you really need the 1980 other ones? And in modern journalism (see Jarvis, Jeff) stories are 'in progress' constantly, and for a story like this reporting it in progress probably would have been a pretty good thing to do.
Unless of course, you're more interested in wishing it away.
A trackback from Redstate reminds me that today is St. Crispin's Day - famed for the battle of Agincourt and Shakespeare's great speech for King Harry.
I blogged it some time ago, and rewarded Branagh:
I don't care that Kenneth Branagh is reduced to being Harry Potter's [or Will Smith's - ed.] foil; I hope he's happy and healthy and being banged into insensibility by starlets every day for his incredible version of Prince Hal, in Henry V.
Every so often, an actor will nail a role so well that every time you pick up the book and read it, you hear the actor's voice, and when I quoted Shakespeare below, I heard Branagh's voice.
Here's the speech:
But here's another scene from the movie that is critical to keep in mind as we try and judge where we stand in Iraq, or in any great matter (quality not as good):
Because no one I know would possibly have thought of this:
You know, I'm kind of an expert, in a specific field. And one thing I try and coach my teams about is that we need to state the obvious where we have to, but that if we don't have anything nonobvious to add to it, we probably ought to just go home.
The man I am sitting with in the photo below, taken in Jericho last Saturday, is Bassem Eid, the founder and manager of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. Mr. Eid is a Muslim and a member of the largest Arab tribe in the West Bank.
Right to left: myself, Bassem Eid, Ruth Lautt.
Mr. Eid formerly helped monitor and investigate claims of human rights violations by the Israelis. After the founding of the Palestinian Authority by the Oslo agreements, Eid noticed that no one was paying attention to HR violations by the PA or Palestinian militias. So Eid founded the PHRMG in 1996.
PHRMG's latest revelations of human-rights violations by the PA and Hamas were released Wednesday, entitled, "Fatah and Hamas Human Rights Violations in the Palestinian Occupied Territories from June 2007 to October 2007" (PDF online).
No one else is doing the work that Bassem Eid and his small number of assistants are doing. He was arrested by the PA in the 1990s, but was held only a day. The fact that his tribe is the largest in the West Bank - and therefore has the most muscle to retaliate against anyone who might harm him - is almost certainly the only reason he is still breathing.
I'll post a summary of our conversation with Mr. Eid soon.
The dilemma for airdropping supplies has always been a stark one. High-altitude airdrops often go badly astray and become useless or even counter-productive. Low-level paradrops face significant dangers from enemy fire, and reduce delivery range. Can this dilemma be broken?
A new advanced concept technology demonstration shows promise, and is being pursued by U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center at Natick, the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command (USAF AMC), the U.S. Army Project Manager Force Sustainment and Support, and industry. The idea? Use the same GPS-guidance that enables precision strikes from JDAM bombs, coupled with software that acts as a flight control system for parachutes. JPADS (the Joint Precision Air-Drop System) has been combat-tested successfully in Iraq and Afghanistan, and appears to be moving beyond the test stage in the USA... and elsewhere.
Wow, take a day to write a proposal and all hell breaks loose in the blogosphere.
Drudge posted - and then took down - three documents represented as a) a transcript of a call between Scott Beauchamp and Franklin Foer (et alia); b) a memorandum of counseling, signed by Beauchamp acknowledging receipt; and c) the investigative report by Beauchamp's command. Flopping Aces has them all here.
People with reasons to know have vouched for their authenticity, and Jonathan Chait was quoted as stating they were authentic.
Reading them, I'm damn glad that I canceled my subscription to TNR online.
If accurate, these paint a picture of a total lack of moral compass, professional responsibility or honor by the editors of a major magazine that intends to be influential in setting American policy.
The side message about/from Beauchamp's wife is the most disgusting thing:
Foer: I think, I don't wanna...You're obviously in a very uncomfortable position in that your wife is involved in this, and I wish she wasn't involved because I, I... trust her, I care for her, I don't want her to get hurt in all of this. But she just, she sent me a note to tell you that it's the most important thing to her that you say that you didn't recant. And I don't...I feel that (unintelligible) in saying that to you because it puts me in an awkward position, but it's what she wanted me to convey to you.
Followed closely by this:
Scoblic: What are you going to do after this job? Are you staying in the Army?
Beauchamp: Um, I don't know what I want to do. Um I haven't made up my mind yet what I want to do.
Scoblic: Ah...you're not going to be able to write any more after this...you know that, right?
Beauchamp: I...I mean I really don't care at this point. That's not...that's not...basically what I'm saying is that's not what's important to me.
For those who think Beauchamp has been bludgeoned into silence, I doubt it. With the resources of a major magazine keeping public attention on him, it would be impossible for the Army to mistreat - or even seriously punish - him without huge public outcry. And from Beauchamp's POV that kind of mistreatment/punishment would be the golden ticket to a major book contract the second he was out of green.
So kudos to Beauchamp, who appears to be learning from all this, and brickbats to TNR for lying to us all and for showing themselves as the cheap thugs they certainly appear to be.
As of today, TNR is reduced to whining that the Army leaked the documents to Drudge. Somehow they never seem to whine when documents critical of the Administration are leaked if they think there is a story there - and there certainly is a story here.
Yes, the media are happy to do anything to get a story out - unless, of course, it's about them - then they stonewall, hide, and lie. Just like the politicians they cover. Who says they aren't peas in a pod?
A recent DID article explained the differences between the smaller MQ-1 Predator and MC-1 Sky Warrior UAVs, and their more advanced cousin the MQ-9 Reaper hunter-killer that can fly at 50,000 feet. As we noted at the time, however, the MQ-9 is also the basis for other UAVs, some of which are used for research. One is NASA's Ikhana unmanned research aircraft (pron. ee-kah-nah, Choctaw language, means "intelligent").
NASA has also been intelligent, running wildfire related exercises and missions since August. Ikhana flew over several of the Southern California wildfires Wednesday, Oct 24/07, using its payload capacity to carry a special thermal-infrared imaging equipment that can look right through smoke and haze and record high-quality imagery of key hot spots. The imagery is processed on board, downlinked, and overlaid on Google Earth maps at NASA Ames Research Center in Northern California, Then it's made available by the National Interagency Fire Center to incident commanders in the field to aid them in allocating their fire-fighting resources.
Each flight is being coordinated with the FAA, to allow the remotely piloted aircraft to fly within the national airspace while maintaining separation from other aircraft. The missions are controlled by pilots remotely from a ground control station at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. The above 3-D image was taken at 10:21 a.m. PDT over the Harris Fire in San Diego County, looking west. The hot spots (in yellow) are concentrated on the ridgeline in the left center of the photo.
Nice work, NASA. More MQ-9 Ikhana images can be found via this NASA page, or you can look at Ikhana's page of past photos, which includes one detailing its wildfire sensor package.
The news today is that Israel fired missiles into Gaza to kill Mubarak al-Hassanat, a top-ranking Hamas member directly involved with firing Hamas' homemade Kassan rockets into southern Israel. Hamas has been firing the anti-personnel rockets into Israeli towns and countryside with regularity for years. I went to Israel on Oct. 15 and returned Oct. 24. On Oct. 22, I visited the town of Sederot (sometimes spelled Sderot) and nearby Ashkelon. Sederot is a little more than a kilometer from Gaza:
That's me standing on the southern edge of Sederot. Gaza is only a few hundred meters on the other side of the tree line behind me. Six rockets fell on Sederot a few hours before we arrived. Here are the remains of three of them.
There is a large rack of exploded rockets outside the town's police station. They have a diagram explaining how the rockets are made.
These are purely anti-personnel rockets. They lack the explosive power to penetrate reinforced buildings. The warhead section is loaded with pellets or small ball bearings intended to do nothing but shred flesh, propelled by only a couple of pounds of high explosive. However, if they do hit an ordinary building (as a rocket did yesterday) they can damage it substantially:
Israel has tethered three blimps around the northern perimeter of Gaza with automated warning sensors and systems.
The town official who showed us around said it is optically based. Whern a launch is detected, every speaker in the town - and there are a lot of warning speakers - announces "red dawn" over and over. Townspeople have only 20 seconds to seek shelter. The town continues to build shelters such as this one.
On Oct. 22, I took a video of the rack of recovered detonated rockets. This rack shows only six months worth of rockets launched. People in Sederot and surrounding areas have died from these attacks, including children.
Russia's SU-27/30 Flanker family fighters were developed in the 1980s and 1990s, and attempted to incorporate the lessons from America's "teen series" fighters (F-14, F-15, F-16, F/A-18) into their designs. They were successful. Early Su-27/30 versions offer performance comparable to the F-15 Eagle, superior in some ways but a bit under in others. They have become popular export items, and subsequent versions like the Su-30MKI/M and the new Su-34 Fullback long-range strike version are clearly better; the Indra Dhanush exercise with British Eurofighter Typhoons may have cemented the Su-30MKI/M's status as the world's 2nd best air superiority fighter, behind the F-22A Raptor. All for about half the cost of either a new F-22A ($137 million flyaway) or Eurofighter Typhoon (about $120 million flyaway), and rather less than a new F-15 Strike Eagle ($90-110 million). But the F-22 Raptor's level of stealth and ability to cruise above Mach 1 ("supercruise") put it far ahead of its rivals, and Russia has always wanted to keep up with the Joneses.Hence the MiG 1.44 (if indeed it was a real project?) or "I-21" type, both of which stalled for lack of development funds. The logical answer for the Russians is a foreign partnership. France has its Rafale and European partners are focused on the Eurofighter, and European defense budgets can barely accommodate those at an adequate level. That leaves traditional Russian customers China and India as the remaining partner options.
From India's point of view, a firm development agreement that helps finance Russia's next-generation plane is one way to restrict Russian cooperation with China along similar lines. See Vijiander K Thakur's "Understanding IAF interest in the MiG fifth generation fighter" for more on the proposal to cooperate with MiG. Even so, India's procurement history is full of dead-ends and "almost weres" - which is why reaction to past announcements has been very muted at Defense Industry Daily. Now it's one step closer to a "will be," as India and Russia has signed a formal agreement to develop the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).
My response is still inclined to be rather muted, until working designs are discussed and more is known. A "fifth-generation fighter" could be a project as ambitious as Indo-Russian cooperation on a aircraft like the MiG 1.44 or I-21. Or, it could turn out to be an updated version of the SU-30 family with uprated engines for supercruise, some level of sensor fusion, and an AESA radar. Then, too, the FGFA project has a non-trivial set of obstacles to overcome, in order to fly production versions for India and meet the project's goals.
For the specific releases and coverage to date, and analysis of the program's current state and future hurdles, DID offers a Spotlight article...
"The characteristics of Small Wars have evolved since the Banana Wars and Gunboat Diplomacy. War is never purely military, but today's Small Wars are even less pure with the greater inter-connectedness of the 21st century. Their conduct typically involves the projection and employment of the full spectrum of national and coalition power by a broad community of practitioners. The military is still generally the biggest part of the pack, but there a lot of other wolves. The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack." --- Small Wars Journal
Firms like Proctor & Gamble, Bank of America, and Boeing are leveraging the Web 2.0 trends described by business gurus like Don Tapscott [PPT format w. speaking notes] to improve information flow in their organizations. So is the General in charge of the USA's nuclear deterrent. Armed Forces Journal praises the Small Wars Journal as another example that takes articles from field practitioners, and works to build an international body of counterinsurgency knowledge as fast or faster than civilization's enemies can use the same technologies to build their movements. AFJ writes:
"The SWJ is one of the finest resources on the Internet for the student of counterinsurgency, and has attracted.... a who's who of the debate on counterinsurgency theory, including Kilcullen, Nagl, Frank Hoffman, Malcom Nance, Bing West and Lt. Col. Paul Yingling. The addition of SWJ contributors in recent months is especially impressive. For example, following his controversial May 2007 Armed Forces Journal essay, "A failure in general¬ship," Yingling joined the SWJ blog as a contributor to address some of the response his article had received.... The site also offers the digital SWJ Magazine, which principally pub¬lishes articles by the captains and majors who are fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and provides another excellent venue for expanding and enhancing the debate on the war. After so many articles about how the milblogging phenomenon has threatened chains of command, engendered violations of soldiers' civil liberties and fueled a digital propaganda war, it is refreshing to note that the [digital medium] can also serve as a virtual graduate seminar for the practitioners of war."
Critics on my right and left have busted me for opining in complex areas like foreign policy where I have no formal training (I did take a class in international politics, and it's the one class in college I didn't pass because the professor wouldn't accept my essay on the decline in relevance of the nation-state and I wouldn't rewrite it to support the continued primacy of the nation-state). I worry about that sometimes, and then I read things like this account by Daniel Drezner of a conversation at an International relations conference:
IR THEORIST A: Here's the thing... if the experimenter shoots the monkey when it throws the cucumber, the other monkeys will process that information as well. So it's not only about a sense of fairness, it's about survival.
POLICYMAKER B: Yes, the experimenter could shoot the monkey, and maybe that would cow the other monkeys into submision. If you keep shooting monkeys, however, it might encourage the remaining ones to rise up and overthrow the experimenters and establish their own cucumber plantation.
Yes, I'm warmly secure in the thought that our foreign policy may be being set by trained, highly-educated professionals.
Sunday, on my ride home, we rode through what I thought was the downwind ash plume of a huge fire north of Santa Barbara. It turns out that it was ash from the recent - huge - Zaca fire being blown offshore by the high winds. Then, again, in Oxnard where we had to divert because Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu was closed. A friend almost got caught there on his morning motorcycle ride:
Both sides of the road were on fire and flaming debris was flying throughout the air. Visibility was no more than 20 feet. I couldn't see and I couldn't breathe and I couldn't turn around, because I was on PCH and I wasn't the only traffic.
Then cars started freaking out and stopping in front of me in the middle of this 'tunnel of flames'. I had to get out of there! So I'm riding as fast as I dare with no visibility, splitting between stopped cars and flaming shit on the road. None of us were supposed to be there. PCH was already closed but having just come down Latigo I was inside the road blocks.
I went from "wow this is exciting" to "shit I'm in trouble" in about 15 seconds.
I made it though and didn't crash.
The fires are burning from Ventura to San Diego - the length of the coastal urban belt here in Southern California.
Last year, I did (but never posted) a post on why it was worth worrying about large-scale terrorism. I gamed what I would do with $25 million and 50 people.
In my little model, two people and about $50,000 set about fifty fires over a Santa Ana weekday, broke the fire response capabilities of the region, and managed to burn substantial amounts of Southern California.
Greece just went through a similar 'storm' of fires this summer.
"Fires are burning in more than half the country," Diamandis said. "This is definitely an unprecedented disaster for Greece."Note that the arsonists do not appear to be coordinated or terrorists.
The worst blazes - 42 major fronts - were concentrated in the southern mountains of the Peloponnese and on the island of Evia, north of Athens. Arson has been blamed in several cases, and seven people have been detained on suspicion of causing fires.
We need a robust domestic set of systems - an infrastructure - to protect us both against natural disaster and against intelligent terrorists who will eventually exploit our natural vulnerabilities.
It wouldn't hurt if we stopped incentivizing people to build in disaster-prone areas as well. The millionaires in Malibu can afford to choose to live there; but zoning regulations need to be stricter, insurance more expensive, and federal disaster relief in the form of buyouts. That's equally true of the poor people living on the Gulf Coast.
Corrected misstatement about the blog post - I wrote it, but never put it up.
Uncle Jimbo went to see David Horowitz lay the smack down on Islamofascists.
What a let down. My buddy Ebo and I attended Horowitz' opening night of Islamo-Fascism Awareness week and if this is our answer to sharia, then I guess Dirka Dirka Mohammed Jihad it will be.
Vietnamese journalist and spy Pham Xuan An has died.
As a reporter for Reuters and then for Time magazine, Mr. An covered American and South Vietnamese military and diplomatic events and was one of a handful of reporters admitted to off-the-record briefings by American authorities. Time made him a full staff correspondent, the only Vietnamese to be given that distinction by a major American news organization.
At the same time, however, Mr. An was delivering a steady stream of military documents and reports to North Vietnamese authorities, writing in invisible ink and leaving the material in containers at designated spots around Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City.
The responses from his American colleagues are interesting:
His former colleagues had conflicting reactions to his dual life.
"He felt it was doing his patriotic duty by being an agent," Stanley Karnow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a reporter for The Washington Post, said at the meeting, "but we were his friends, and he had great admiration for the United States."
Mr. McCulloch, the Saigon bureau chief for Time during the war, said: "It tore him up. If circumstances had been reversed, if hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese had occupied my land, I probably would have done the same thing."
But Burton Yale Pines, a Time correspondent during the war, said he was shocked. "Worse," he said, "I am embarrassed that I trusted Mr. An as enormously as I - and my fellow journalists - did."
An's take is also interesting:
"The truth? Which truth?" he said in his interview with Mr. Safer. "One truth is that for 10 years I was a staff correspondent for Time magazine, and before that Reuters. The other truth is that I joined the movement in 1944 and in one way or another have been part of it ever since. Two truths - both truths are true."
I'm going to think about that for a bit.
OK, sorry - I took the weekend for maintenance - household chores and a long motorcycle ride (455 miles for lunch - mental maintenance). Work has also been intense, and so my blogging time has been sliced a bit. I'll work on another post on Weber (I think that discussion has interesting issues that didn't get resolved) over lunch and try and get it posted then or this evening.
Meanwhile - Biggest Guy (my UVA graduate son who has enlisted in the Army and is in Basic Training) has been told that he can receive nonfiction military books, and he's requested:
To which I added:
What other books should I send him? What do you think our soldiers should read to make them better - better soldiers and better people?
I want to take a moment and talk about what may be happening in Iraq - why it is that we're seeing such a precipitous drop in attacks, how we may have gotten there, and some things to think about in terms of what comes next.
A lot of attention is (rightly) being paid to the specific tactics being employed by our military leadership, and that's obviously a key point to keep in mind. But I want to raise a slightly more subtle one, which is that there may be a structural reason for the collapse of the insurgency.
One issue we struggle with is the notion that we can't defeat a networked guerilla force (see John Robb). That truism has pretty well taken hold, and is reinforced by our perceptions of the power of networks - particularly the scale-free networks that provide good models for the Internet, for fads - and for political movements. There are many heads, and so you can't decapitate such a network, the argument goes. And since every violent act against a member of the network damages the network, and simultaneously helps it heal (by, for example, recruiting others to join the network), the issue is the ratio between damage/healing, and the attacker risks facing an impossible task, since the more damage they do the network, the stronger it may get.
The best book I know of for beginners on networks is 'Linked' by Albert-Lazlo Barabasi. He discusses his efforts to take networks apart:
Motivated by the DARPA proposal, in January 2000 we performed a series of computer experiments to test the Internet's resilience to router failures. Starting from the best available Internet map, we removed randomly selected nodes from the network. Expecting a critical point, we gradually increased the number of removed nodes, waiting for the moment when the Internet would fall to pieces. To our great astonishment the network refused to break apart. We could remove as many as 80 percent of all nodes, and the remaining 20 percent still hung together, forming a tightly interlinked cluster. This finding agreed with the increasing realization that the Internet, unlike many other human, made systems, displays a high degree of robustness against router failures. Indeed, a University of Michigan-Ann Arbor study had found that at any moment hundreds of Internet routers malfunction. Despite these frequent and unavoidable breakdowns, users rarely notice significant disruptions of Internet services.
Soon it became clear that we were not witnessing a property unique to the Internet. Computer simulations we performed on networks generated by the scale-free model indicated that a significant fraction of nodes can be randomly removed from any scale-free network without its breaking apart. The unsuspected robustness against failures is that scale-free networks display a property not shared by random networks. As the Internet, the World Wide Web, the cell, and social networks are known to be scale-free, the results indicate that their well-known resilience to errors is an inherent property of their topology - good news for the people who depend on them.
Which represents pretty much the Standard Model for our perception of fighting networked enemy forces - we kill or capture a member (a 'node' in the model), and the system routes around the damage. So it's hopeless, right?
Maybe not so much.
Because one property of scale-free networks is that they are hierarchical - some nodes (Huffington Post, Instapundit) are better-connected than others (Winds of Change) who are in turn better connected than others (The Concerned Troll). That's also a property of scale-free networks (power-law distribution). And it is apparently a property that can be exploited. Here's Barabasi:
Mimicking the actions of a cracker who brings down the Internet's largest hubs one after the other,' we embarked on a new set of experiments. Like MafiaBoy and those involved in Eligible Receiver, we no longer selected the nodes randomly but attacked the network by targeting the hubs. First, we removed the largest hub, followed by the next largest, and so on. The consequences of our attack were evident. The removal of the first hub did not break the system, because the rest of the hubs were still able to hold the network together. After the removal of several hubs, however, the effect of the disruptions was clear. Large chunks of nodes were falling off the network, becoming disconnected from the main cluster. As we pushed further, removing even more hubs, we witnessed the network's spectacular collapse. The critical point, conspicuously absent under failures, suddenly reemerged when the net¬ work was attacked. The removal of a few hubs broke the Internet into tiny, hopelessly isolated pieces.
Many people (including me) have been kind of mocking about the steady stream of 'high-value targets' that have been killed or captured in Iraq over the last year. But I've got to believe that the patient work of chasing connections and neutralizing higher and higher value 'nodes' in the insurgent network actually may be paying off as the network begins it's sudden collapse.
Indeed, our group observed an equally spectacular breakdown when we removed the highly connected proteins from the protein interaction network of the yeast cell. The same collapse was seen by ecologists when they deleted highly connected nodes from food webs. Two subsequent papers, one by Havlin's research group and another by Duncan Callaway from Cornell University, working together with Mark Newman, Steven Strogatz, and Duncan Watts, provided the analytical backing for this observation. They demonstrated that, when the largest nodes are removed, there is a critical point beyond which the network breaks apart. Therefore, the response of scale-free networks to attacks is similar to the behavior of random networks under failures. There is a crucial difference, however. We do not need to remove a large number of nodes to reach the critical point. Disable a few of the hubs and a scale-free network will fall to pieces in no time.
So it's possible to degrade and the destroy the effectiveness of networked insurgencies - and they will collapse as rapidly as they came into being.
The problem, as I'm so fond of saying, is What Next?
How do we take advantage of the opportunity opened by the collapse?
I've thought it ridiculous that people are declaring the surge a failure because a month in ther was no political reconciliation. Clearly, that is something that will lag far behind security conditions.
But it can't lag forever.
And for that, I wonder if we can't thank Joe Biden, which has provided the Iraqi poltical sphere with a common enemy. The next six months will be darn interesting.
Fixed incomprehensible sentence in 3rd paragraph.
Azure magazine just published a long essay I wrote in early summer where I make the case for an independent American-backed Kurdistan in Northern Iraq on moral and strategic grounds. At the time I was slightly more pessimistic about the prospects for Iraq as a whole than I am now, but I still think something like this may be a viable Plan B if the surge fails or if the American public tires of fighting in Iraq before the country is stable.Here is a brief excerpt from the second half of the essay:
The United States will possibly withdraw from Iraq before the fighting is finished. American public opinion may well demand it. But if that should happen, the war will simply rage on without the Americans, and the Iraqi government might not survive the post-withdrawal scramble for power from insurgents, militias, terrorists, and their foreign patrons. And if the government falls, there probably won’t be another.Read the whole thing in Azure magazine.
Iraq may end up resembling other regional weak-state anarchies, such as Somalia, which exist solely as geographic abstractions. Or it could go the way of Lebanon in the 1980s and divide into ethnic and sectarian cantons. Perhaps it will be invaded and picked apart by Turkey, Syria, and Iran, all of which have vital interests in who rules it and how. Iraq could even turn into a California-size Gaza, ruled by militants who wear black masks instead of neckties or keffiyehs.
But one certainty, at least, is that if Kurdistan declares independence and is not protected, one of two possible wars is likely to begin immediately. The first will involve Turkey; after all, few things are more undesirable to Ankara than Turkish Kurdistan violently attaching itself to Iraqi Kurdistan. The second will be about borders: Iraqi Kurdistan’s southern borders are not yet demarcated. If Turkey doesn’t invade, the Kurds will want to attach the Kurdish portions of Kirkuk Province, and possibly also Nineveh Province, to their new state.Even if Kurdistan doesn’t declare independence, there may still be more war on the way. “We believe if the Americans withdraw from this country there will be many more problems,” Colonel Mudhafer said. “The Sunni and Shia want total control of Iraq. We are going to get involved in that. Iran is going to be involved in that. Turkey is going to be involved in that. Syria is going to be involved in that. The Sunni and Shia fighting in Baghdad will pull us in. We are going to be involved. Turkey and Iran will make problems for us. It is not going to be safe. All the American martyrs will have died for nothing, and there will be more problems in the future. Americans should build big bases here.” For obvious reasons, the idea of the American military garrisoning its forces in Kurdistan is wildly popular among the Kurds.
I know I'm way behind, and there are some good arguments to be a part of here and there, but we're off to Chicago for my mother-in-law Alice Tanaka's funeral. She had quite a life. Here's a story one of her sisters who lives in Japan sent TG:
Before world war started, our parents made a decision to go back to Japan.
And our family left Tacoma on Feb.1932 to Japan, taking Japanese ship "Hikawa-Maru" which is still very famous as a museum at Yokohama Pier. It took 2weeks, finally reached at Yokohama Bay Feb28.
It was Alice's birthday and we all celebrated Alice 's 8years' birthday!!
We were greeted by about 20 relatives who were waiting at the pier. Mother & Father were really really happy to see them at the pier and greeted them. It had passed more than 14years since parents left Japan so that parents was so happy to see relatives in Japan.
And we all settled at hotel and parents were just chat&chat for a week until we moved to Nagano where parents were borned. After 1&half year, finally, we all went back to Tokyo.
[During WWII] As a result, the house being bombed was temporary rented to escape from the our original house was in Omori. where was thought as a dangerous area. However the original house was saved. That is the one you have visited 43years ago. Unfortunately almost of our valuables such as photos were all lost.
Almost the last stage of the War, bombing was getting often in Tokyo area and we moved to parents' country "Nagano" for safety so we were not in that house when it was bombed.
And we have been still living at original house in Omori, of course, it has been re-built.
Somehow 'almost went to Woodstock' doesn't seem to compare. What a life she must have had...
...I'll be back next week, and will jump into the discussion with both feet.
"If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants," the scholars wrote. ...
Using quotations from the Bible and the Koran to support their message, the scholars told people who relished conflict and destruction that "our very eternal souls are" at stake "if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony."
So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works."The letter was signed by Muslim scholars from around the world, including the Algerian religious affairs minister, Bouabdellah Ghlamallah, and the grand mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa.
These are very fine sentiments and the letter should be warmly received by the Pope and the other Christian leaders. Let me propose, however, that sentiments (by either faith) will not do the job. Both sides must adopt and teach true "think and let think" habits among their faithful. This will be much more difficult for Muslims than Christians. Islam is today far more militant than Christianity, whose militancy in past generations sprang mostly from its politicism. But Christianity has mostly shed its politicism in America and entirely done so in Europe. (The media much exaggerate the power of religion today in American politics; its effect is far more symbolic than substantial.)
But Islam’s militancy is not sourced in its politicism. Politics and Islam are joined at the hip, far more than Christianity ever was. What is new in Islam, coming in the last century or so, is political absolutism that uses Islamic concepts to buttress itself. Gilles Kepel was, I think, the first to call this phenomenon “Islamism.” WOC’s own writer Tarek Heggy posted a highly read-worthy essay here in 2005, The Intelligent America's Guide to Islamism.
If the scholars' dreams of peaceful coexistence are to become reality, they will have to lead their own societies away from militancy and toward freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.Example: while the scholars were writing their letter, the secretary-general of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA), Dr. Sheikh Salah Al-Sawy, issued a fatwa declaring "that marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man is forbidden and invalid, and that children born of such a union are illegitimate." The fatwa says, among other things,
"A person must have some buffer between him and [deeds] that will bring him to perdition. A person about to commit suicide may expect society to intervene in order to safeguard his right to live. This is why shari'a prohibits marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man - because it is the first step towards religious suicide, whether [it is the woman's] suicide or that of the children she will bear. This [form of] suicide is much worse than actual suicide, which also [involves] the murder of [unborn children]. The woman can expect Muslim society to stand between her and this fate, thereby safeguarding her faith and her salvation in the world to come."
Not that some Christians don't need to look in the mirror when it comes to intolerance:
Slash-and-burn columnist Ann Coulter shocked a cable TV talk-show audience Monday when she declared that Jews need to be "perfected" by becoming Christians, and that America would be better off if everyone were Christian.
Coulter made the remarkable statements during an often heated appearance to promote her new book on advertising guru Donny Deutsch's CNBC show "The Big Idea."
In response to a question from Deutsch asking Coulter if "it would be better if we were all Christian," the controversial columnist responded: "Yes."
"We should all be Christian?" Deutsch repeated.
"Yes," Coulter responded, asking Deutsch, who is Jewish, if he would like to "come to church with me."
Deutsch, pressing Coulter further, asked, "We should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians?" She responded: "Yeah."Coulter deflected Deutsch's assertion that her comments were anti-Semitic, matter-of-factly telling the show's obviously upset host, "That is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews."
A transcript of their conversation about Jews appears at the link. It must be read to believed. Ann Coulter is probably the most religiously uninformed public figure I have ever heard of. I do not consider myself a "perfected Jew" as a Christian (I'm not a perfected anything), nor can I help but gagging at the idea Ann expressed (see transcript) that Christianity is the "Federal Express" way to heaven compared to Judaism. Before Ann or any other Christian starts talking about "perfecting Jews," they need to pay attention to perfecting Christians, for which there is very long way to go. Ann should spend some time here to start. Foxnews.com has more about the scholars' letter.
Join me and Army Captain Phil Messer on a walking tour of Ramadi, Iraq, in a 20 minute video shot during a dismounted foot patrol in early August, 2007.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would flood Saudi Arabia and the world with the facts about the overall atmosphere that is pressuring the Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia today. The ugliest of these facts is what occurred in the 1979intifada of the Shi'ite regions, in which dozens were killed, hundreds were imprisoned, and their regions were blockaded for more than four consecutive months.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would familiarize the world with the injustices done to many Saudi Shi'ites since the establishment of the Saudi Kingdom in 1932 and since the Wahhabis took control of the Arabian Peninsula. [I would let the world know about] the Shi'ites' being deprived of any [part in] government, even in their own regions, where they have been barred from the high-level political posts and executive positions they deserve - not to mention their being denied any ministerial post.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would create a ruckus in Saudi Arabia, and in the world, because I live in the richest region in the world, with one-third of the world's oil reserves, [yet] the Shi'ite cities are the cities that the state most neglects. Many basic services are lacking, and the city residents are barred from receiving any position in the large oil companies on their land.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would make a huge commotion in the world, because the government spends millions of dollars on building thousands of mosques throughout the kingdom, but the Saudi government has not shared [in the costs] of building a single Shi'ite mosque or a single Husainiya since the establishment of the state. In addition, the Shi'ites are prevented from building their mosques and Husainiyas with their own funds, and they are punished for practicing their religious rituals - even though all the country's oil resources are pumped from their regions.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would make my voice heard in the world, because since the kingdom's establishment to the present day, there has been no Shi'ite minister appointed in the country - and, as of this writing, they [i.e the Shi'ites] are barred from working in the Foreign Ministry, the army, the armed forces, and the National Guard.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would publish articles, one after another, about how the [Saudi] media ignores matters [concerning me] and my religious holidays - as if I and the Shi'ites did not exist in Saudi Arabia.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would flood the world with complaints about what the suffering Shi'ites go through [merely] in order to found a mosque or a Husainiya. These are built clandestinely and in complete secrecy, with [the Shi'ites'] their own funds, and if [those responsible] are discovered, they are imprisoned and fined, and everything they have built is destroyed.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would bring the world to its feet because of the terrible things written by some writers, members of the Council of 'Ulama… and all the Wahhabi sheikhs who are close to the Saudi government, on the permissibility of shedding Shi'ite blood, of defiling their honor, and of seizing their money and their possessions.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would conduct a campaign within [Egypt] and outside it, against classifying Saudis according to sect. Why should someone who conducts a relationship with me on the general and public level want to know what my sect is?
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would lead a publicity campaign about the Saudi bureaucracy, which has made judicial law in the state courts into a means of oppressing the people and, in particular, a means of crushing the Shi'ites. I would demand that it be annulled, because it is prejudicial and an offense to the most basic of human rights.
• "If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia, I would make the world understand that the issue of the Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia is one of the symptoms of a [certain] mentality whose influence has spread through this region of the world, and that all humanity must force [those with] this mentality to reconsider this discriminatory path."
Bob Owens, at Confererate Yankee, has kind of owned the Scott Beauchamp/TNR story all along. Today, he posts an interview that - if valid and correct - moves the bar from 'embarassing for TNR' to 'devastating'.
Q: TNR also claimed that, "the Army has rejected our requests to speak to Beauchamp himself, on the grounds that it wants 'to protect his privacy.'" At the time those statements were made by TNR's editors on August 10, were they factually accurate? To your knowledge, have the editors of The New Republic spoken with Scott Thomas Beauchamp since August 10, and if so, when? Does Scott Beauchamp currently have the capability to speak to The New Republic if he so desires, and release all documentation relating to the investigation if he so desires?
A: The statements made by TNR on Aug. 10 about Beauchamp's availability were accurate- given the investigation's status, he was not authorized to conduct interviews with media outlets. However, as soon as the investigation concluded in mid-August, he was free to speak openly if he so desired. He rejected interview requests from Confederate Yankee and the Weekly Standard, but did in fact speak to TNR on the 7th of September, while Maj. John Cross conducted a separate interview with TNR roughly one week later.
Pvt. Beauchamp also canceled scheduled interviews with Newsweek and the Washington Post after speaking to TNR.
My own takes on l'affaire Beauchamp have been somewhat mixed; but I have felt all along that TNR wasn't playing it's cards as openly as they should to retain their credibility.
I dropped my online subscription to TNR in the middle of this because I was just not comfortable paying for a product with neither quality control nor apparent concern about quality - and the ongoing silence and half-steps by TNR have left me uncomfortable in both areas.
And now this, if true - the notion that TNR spoke with Beauchamp a month after posting 'their final word' and a month ago - and that they are still silent about it - is something that makes me wonder what, exactly, they are thinking. Their reputation relies more on being seen as searching after truth than on having attained it. I fear they will wind up with neither here.
It's just so damn much fun to read Yglesias again - I'd dropped him from my blogroll, but people I read (Crooked Timber, in this case) keep linking to things he says and I just can't help myself; his posts are a kind of intellectual pinata; a gift that just keeps giving.
You may demonstrate to a convinced syndicalist, believing in an ethic of ultimate ends, that his action will result in increasing the opportunities of reaction, in increasing the oppression of his class, and obstructing its ascent--and you will not make the slightest impression upon him. If an action of good intent leads to bad results, then, in the actor's eyes, not he but the world, or the stupidity of other men, or God's will who made them thus, is responsible for the evil. However a man who believes in an ethic of responsibility takes account of precisely the average deficiencies of people; as Fichte has correctly said, he does not even have the right to presuppose their goodness and perfection. He does not feel in a position to burden others with the results of his own actions so far as he was able to foresee them; he will say: these results are ascribed to my action. The believer in an ethic of ultimate ends feels 'responsible' only for seeing to it that the flame of pure intentions is not quenched: for example, the flame of protesting against the injustice of the social order. To rekindle the flame ever anew is the purpose of his quite irrational deeds, judged in view of their possible success. They are acts that can and shall have only exemplary value.
Yglesias goes on:
And that's what this is all ultimately about -- an effort to evade responsibility by suggesting that what's really at issue here is a controversy over ends. The hawks must have felt Saddam's evil more intensely, must have been more moved by Kenan Makiya's pleas, been more attuned to the gulag, whatever. But no. Everyone knows and everyone knew that Saddam was a bad man. What some also knew was that invading Iraq was unlikely to have beneficial consequences.
The problem with history is, of course, that you never know in advance how it's going to come out. Yglesias has decided the outcome of the Iraq War, and wrapped sure in his opinion, he rejects it.
Weber actually talks about just that kind of stance in - of all things, 'Politics As A Vocation':
Let us consider examples. Rarely will you find that a man whose love turns from one woman to another feels no need to legitimate this before himself by saying: she was not worthy of my love, or, she has disappointed me, or whatever other like 'reasons' exist. This is an attitude that, with a profound lack of chivalry, adds a fancied 'legitimacy' to the plain fact that he no longer loves her and that the woman has to bear it. By virtue of this 'legitimation,' the man claims a right for himself and besides causing the misfortune seeks to put her in the wrong. The successful amatory competitor proceeds exactly in the same way: namely, the opponent must be less worthy, otherwise he would not have lost out. It is no different, of course, if after a victorious war the victor in undignified self-righteousness claims, 'I have won because I was right.' Or, if somebody under the frightfulness of war collapses psychologically, and instead of simply saying it was just too much, he feels the need of legitimizing his war weariness to himself by substituting the feeling, 'I could not bear it because I had to fight for a morally bad cause.' And likewise with the defeated in war. Instead of searching like old women for the 'guilty one' after the war--in a situation in which the structure of society produced the war--everyone with a manly and controlled attitude would tell the enemy, 'We lost the war. You have won it. That is now all over. Now let us discuss what conclusions must be drawn according to the objective interests that came into play and what is the main thing in view of the responsibility towards the future which above all burdens the victor.' Anything else is undignified and will become a boomerang. A nation forgives if its interests have been damaged, but no nation forgives if its honor has been offended, especially by a bigoted self-righteousness. Every new document that comes to light after decades revives the undignified lamentations, the hatred and scorn, instead of allowing the war at its end to be buried, at least morally. This is possible only through objectivity and chivalry and above all only through dignity. But never is it possible through an 'ethic,' which in truth signifies a lack of dignity on both sides. Instead of being concerned about what the politician is interested in, the future and the responsibility towards the future, this ethic is concerned about politically sterile questions of past guilt, which are not to be settled politically. To act in this way is politically guilty, if such guilt exists at all. And it overlooks the unavoidable falsification of the whole problem, through very material interests: namely, the victor's interest in the greatest possible moral and material gain; the hopes of the defeated to trade in advantages through confessions of guilt. If anything is 'vulgar,' then, this is, and it is the result of this fashion of exploiting 'ethics' as a means of 'being in the right.'
[emphasis added - apologies for the long cite, but was important to put the quote in full context]
Weber's essay is in part about the deep uncertainties that confront the political actor when attempting to take action-in-the-world. He talks about uncertainty in war here (in the freaking two paragraphs immediately after the one that Matt cites):
But even herewith the problem is not yet exhausted. No ethics in the world can dodge the fact that in numerous instances the attainment of 'good' ends is bound to the fact that one must be willing to pay the price of using morally dubious means or at least dangerous ones--and facing the possibility or even the probability of evil ramifications. From no ethics in the world can it be concluded when and to what extent the ethically good purpose 'justifies' the ethically dangerous means and ramifications.
The decisive means for politics is violence. You may see the extent of the tension between means and ends, when viewed ethically, from the following: as is generally known, even during the war the revolutionary socialists Zimmerwald faction) professed a principle that one might strikingly formulate: 'If we face the choice either of some more years of war and then revolution, or peace now and no revolution, we choose-- some more years of war!' Upon the further question: 'What can this revolution bring about?' Every scientifically trained socialist would have had the answer: One cannot speak of a transition to an economy that in our sense could be called socialist; a bourgeois economy will re-emerge, merely stripped of the feudal elements and the dynastic vestiges. For this very modest result, they are willing to face 'some more years of war.' One may well say that even with a very robust socialist conviction one might reject a purpose that demands such means. With Bolshevism and Spartanism, and, in general, with any kind of revolutionary socialism, it is precisely the same thing. It is of course utterly ridiculous if the power politicians of the old regime are morally denounced for their use of the same means, however justified the rejection of their aims may be.
What a pile of horse patootey Yglesias has served up to us. The issue isn't as Yglesias suggests that one side was 'right' and one 'wrong' - in an exam that hasn't yet been graded by reality. The issue is that to act politically is to take risks and accept moral hazard. Yglesias and the 'purity' crowd somehow feel that wrong-through-inaction is morally superior - a topic we'll return to in the coming week.
But there's a pony in there - some very good points we all should take away from Weber's great essay:
Whoever wants to engage in politics at all, and especially in politics as a vocation, has to realize these ethical paradoxes. He must know that he is responsible for what may become of himself under the impact of these paradoxes. I repeat, he lets himself in for the diabolic forces lurking in all violence. The great virtuosi of acosmic love of humanity and goodness, whether stemming from Nazareth or Assisi or from Indian royal castles, have not operated with the political means of violence. Their kingdom was 'not of this world' and yet they worked and sill work in this world. The figures of Platon Karatajev and the saints of Dostoievski still remain their most adequate reconstructions. He who seeks the salvation of the soul, of his own and of others, should not seek it along the avenue of politics, for the quite different tasks of politics can only be solved by violence. The genius or demon of politics lives in an inner tension with the god of love, as well as with the Christian God as expressed by the church. This tension can at any time lead to an irreconcilable conflict. Men knew this even in the times of church rule. Time and again the papal interdict was placed upon Florence and at the time it meant a far more robust power for men and their salvation of soul than (to speak with Fichte) the 'cool approbation' of the Kantian ethical judgment. The burghers, however, fought the church-state. And it is with reference to such situations that Machiavelli in a beautiful passage, if I am not mistaken, of the History of Florence, has one of his heroes praise those citizens who deemed the greatness of their native city higher than the salvation of their souls.
If one says 'the future of socialism' or 'international peace,' instead of native city or 'fatherland' (which at present may be a dubious value to some), then you face the problem as it stands now. Everything that is striven for through political action operating with violent means and following an ethic of responsibility endangers the 'salvation of the soul.' If, however, one chases after the ultimate good in a war of beliefs, following a pure ethic of absolute ends, then the goals may be damaged and discredited for generations, because responsibility for consequences is lacking, and two diabolic forces which enter the play remain unknown to the actor. These are inexorable and produce consequences for his action and even for his inner self, to which he must helplessly submit, unless he perceives them. The sentence: 'The devil is old; grow old to understand him!' does not refer to age in terms of chronological years. I have never permitted myself to lose out in a discussion through a reference to a date registered on a birth certificate; but the mere fact that someone is twenty years of age and that I am over fifty is no cause for me to think that this alone is an achievement before which I am overawed. Age is not decisive; what is decisive is the trained relentlessness in viewing the realities of life, and the ability to face such realities and to measure up to them inwardly.
[emphasis added, again]
And Weber's conclusion is one that any political actor should take to heart:
Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth --that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today. Only he has the calling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say 'In spite of all!' has the calling for politics.
So thanks, Matt, for getting us to read it again. Can I gently suggest that you go read it again, with an open eye - one that isn't looking for cites to cherrypick? The reality is that what Weber would have said is that the decision to go to war - or not - is one fraught with moral cost for those who would consider it seriously, and that keeping a morally pure heart and also doing good politics are not typically something that can be done. Weber, meet Hoderer. Yglesias, meet reality.
edited for clarity
RAMADI, IRAQ – In late July when I visited a police station in the town of Mushadah just north of Baghdad I worried that Iraq was doomed to become the next Gaza. As many as half the police officers, according to most of the American Military Police who worked as their trainers, were Al Qaeda sympathizers or agents. The rest were corrupt lazy cowards, according to every American I talked to but one. No one tried to spin Mushadah into a success story. By itself this doesn't mean the country is doomed. How important is Mushadah, anyway? I hadn't even heard of it until the day before I went there myself. But Military Police Captain Maryanne Naro dismayingly told me the quality of the police and their station was “average.” That means one of two things. Either Mushadah is more or less typical, or roughly half the Iraqi Police force is worse.
I had a much better experience when I embedded, so to speak, with the Iraqi Police in Kirkuk. I trusted the Iraqi Police in that city enough that I was willing to travel with them without any protection from the American military, even though Kirkuk is still a part of the Red Zone. Kirkuk, though, is an outlying case. The Iraqi Police there are Kurds. The Kurds of Iraq are the most pro-American people I have ever met in the world. They are more pro-American than Americans. There is no Kurdish insurgency, and the only Kurdish terrorist group – Ansar Al Islam, which recently changed its name to Al Qaeda in Kurdistan – is based now outside a town called Mariwan in northeastern Iran. The Iraqi Police in Kirkuk may be corrupt, but they aren't terrorists or insurgents.
The Kurds have problems of their own, even so, and not every Arab region of Iraq is the same shade of dysfunctional. Every complaint I heard about the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police in and around Baghdad was balanced with genuine praise for the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police in and just outside Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, which until recently was the most violent war-torn place in all of Iraq. If these Iraqis were typical – and make no mistake, they are not – the American military might have little reason to stay.
We're headed to France to see Middle Guy over the holidays - we're going to be in Paris for a week, then probably travel for a week...at the worst, most expensive time of the year.
Any great tips on small, nice hotels in Paris? Any good travel agents out there? Anyone with an apartment they would rent for a week to TG, Little Guy, and me?
Wandering the Net for a good way to condense Habermas into a blog post (a laughable effort, I think - but my familiarity with Habermas is close to twenty years old, so should be refreshed), I tripped over this, which seems dramatically relevant to the enterprise of this blog and to the point I'm trying to make about patriotism:
Rorty's last words on Habermas!
"When I was told that another figure much discussed in Tehran was Habermas, I concluded that the best explanation for interest in my work was that I share Habermas’s vision of a social democratic utopia. In this utopia, many of the functions presently served by membership in a religious community would be taken over by what Habermas calls "constitutional patriotism." Some form of patriotism - of solidarity with fellow-citizens, and of shared hopes for the country’s future - is necessary if one is to take politics seriously. In a theocratic country, a leftist political opposition must be prepared to counter the clergy’s claim that the nation’s identity is defined by its religious tradition. So the left needs a specifically secularist form of moral fervor, one which centers around citizens’ respect for one another rather than on the nation’s relation to God.
My own views on these matters derive from Habermas and John Dewey. In the early decades of the twentieth century Dewey helped bring a culture into being in which it became possible for Americans to replace Christian religiosity with fervent attachment to democratic institutions (and equally fervent hope for the improvement of those institutions). In recent decades, Habermas has been commending that culture to the Europeans. In opposition to religious leaders such as Benedict XVI and the ayatollahs, Habermas argues that the alternative to religious faith is not "relativism" or "rootlessness" but the new forms of solidarity made possible by the Enlightenment.
The pope recently said: "A culture has developed in Europe that is the most radical contradiction not only of Christianity but of all the religious and moral traditions of humanity." Dewey and Habermas would reply that the culture that arose out of the Enlightenment has kept everything in Christianity that was worth keeping. The West has cobbled together, in the course of the last two hundred years, a specifically secularist moral tradition - one that regards the free consensus of the citizens of a democratic society, rather then the Divine Will, as the source of moral imperatives. This shift in outlook is, I think, the most important advance that the West has yet made. I should like to think that the students with whom I spoke in Tehran, impressed by Habermas’s writings and inspired by the courage of thinkers such as Ganji and Ramin Jahanbegloo, may someday make Iran the nucleus of an Islamic Enlightenment."
From Ali Rivizi's blog "Habermasian Reflections"
...Some form of patriotism - of solidarity with fellow-citizens, and of shared hopes for the country’s future - is necessary if one is to take politics seriously. Rorty says it far more clearly than I have managed to so far. But then, he was a famous philosopher, and I'm a high school dropout...
Welcome Instapundit readers...it appears to be 'patriotism' week here, so please check out the four posts I've done this week on the subject: 'Patriotism - Goldberg to Couric to Yglesias', 'You've Got To Be Kidding Me', 'Patriotism Rears Its Head Yet Again', and 'Rorty on Patriotism'
The Atlantic Magazine email I got today leads with
The Future of the American Idea. As The Atlantic celebrates its 150th anniversary, scholars, novelists, politicians, artists, and others look ahead to the future of the American idea.
So I click through the link, and I get to (subscriber-only, I believe):
Consider The Atlantic’s passage: through a permanent revolution in technology, from the telephone, to the practical fountain pen, to the radio, to the note pad, to the television, to the Internet; through financial crises, beginning in 1857 with what The Atlantic called a national "flurry" over credit (or liquidity, to use the present flurry’s term); through national arguments over slavery, suffrage, evolution, immigration, prohibition, anticommunism, civil rights, feminism, gay rights, evolution and immigration (again); through the international contests of ideology that defined the last century and into the new contest that so far is shaping this one. How has The Atlantic endured? More to the point, why? ...
The Atlantic was created in Boston by writers who saw themselves as the country’s intellectual leaders, and so its scope from the start was national, if rather theoretical. It was founded on an encompassing abstraction, expressed in the words that appeared in the first issue and that appear again on the cover of this one: In politics, it would "honestly endeavor to be the exponent of what its conductors believe to be the American idea." That sounds pretty good.
And pretty good to me as well. They continue:
In the pages that follow, George F. Will rings an alarm over the danger inherent in embracing a singular American idea, but many of the contributors agree on a rough definition of the idea itself...the easy part, as John Hope Franklin suggests.
So I click through to Franklin's piece, since I'm a big believer in starting with the easy part.
If the American idea was to subdue Native Americans and place them at the disposal of European settlers, to import several million Africans to the New World and subject them to a lifetime of slavery, to impose on Asian immigrants a lifetime of discrimination, then perhaps the American idea was not so admirable.
If the American idea, once the Civil War had concluded, was to sentence the freedmen to a lifetime of racial segregation, discrimination, and humiliation, then perhaps the American idea was not so praiseworthy.
A litany of abuse and failure follows. I keep digging, looking for an idea, or a pony, and find:
The American idea is the nation’s holiday garb, its festive dress, its Sunday best. It covers up an everyday practice of betraying the claims of equality, justice, and democracy. It calls for Thomas Jefferson to advise his young protégé Edward Coles to abandon his plan to emancipate his slaves and migrate to Illinois, and to reconcile himself to his country’s "unfortunate condition." While Coles did not accept Jefferson’s advice, many of his contemporaries did, thus strengthening the American idea of inequality and injustice.
It is fairly late in the game, but one hopes that there is still time to grasp the reality of American life for those of different racial and national backgrounds and to embrace the country’s professed ideals of freedom, equality, and justice.
If that's what 'the country’s intellectual leaders' really think, we're well and truly f**ked. What's worse is that it reads almost word for word like a slam that I laid out against just that kind of thinking. I did a post on patriotism back in 2002 (yes, I obsess over the issue) and in it I said:
I know two really bad parents. One is a couple that simply refuses to control their children; they love them totally, and so, they explain, they love everything they do. Unsurprisingly, they are raising two little monsters. The other is a single mother who explains that everything bad in her life is the fault of her child, and that everything he does is wrong. Unsurprisingly, her child is depressed, withdrawn and equally badly damaged.
I'll define patriotism as 'love of country'. Both the parents above (all three of them, actually) claim to 'love' their children. But to blindly smile and clean up when your child smashes plates on the floor is not an act of love. And blindly smiling and waving flags when your country does something wrong is not an act of patriotism.
But - there is a point where criticism, even offered in the guise of love, moves past the point of correction and to the point of destruction. It's a subtle line, but it exists. And my friend (who is less of a friend because I can't begin to deal with her fundamentally abusive parenting) is destroying her child. And there are liberals who have adopted an uncritically critical view of America. Who believe it to have been founded in genocide and theft, made wealthy on slave labor and mercantilist expropriation, to be a destroyer of minorities, women, the environment and ultimately they argue, itself.
I'm sorry but their profession of love for America is as hollow to me as that [bad] mother's profession of love for her son. Are those things true? As facts, they are an incomplete account of this country's history. As a worldview, they are destructive and self-consuming.
(Note the clever tie to the comment thread below and the connection between patriotism and marriage)
Franklin's piece is to America what that abusive mother is to her child. An intelligentsia that adopts that kind of attitude is not going to create a culture in which mutual connection and a sense of patrimony exist - the root of patriotism as a concept.
Let me go on for a moment and try and explain why it is so important that we have a healthy patriotism here in America (and why other countries need to have them as well).
Schaar explains it well -
"To be a patriot is to have a patrimony; or, perhaps more accurately, the patriot is one who is grateful for a legacy and recognizes that the legacy makes him a debtor. There is a whole way of being in the world, captured best by the word reverence, which defines life by its debts; one is what one owes, what one acknowledges as a rightful debt or obligation. The patriot moves within that mentality. The gift of land, people, language, gods memories, and customs, which is the patrimony of the patriot, defines what he or she is. Patrimony is mixed with person; the two are barely separable. The very tone and rhythm of a life, the shapes of perception, the texture of its homes and fears come from membership in a territorially rooted group. The conscious patriot is one who feels deeply indebted for these gifts, grateful to the people and places through which they come, and determined to defend the legacy against enemies and pass it unspoiled to those who will come after."
Successful societies are ones in which each member adds to the social capital that can be passed on to the next generation. To do that - to save, rather than spend, to build rather than consume - requires some sense of obligation, of one's place in a chain that stretches from your ancestors to your descendents - and which is broad enough to expand 'ancestor' and 'descendent' to include other than your blood kin.
Habermas talks about it differently. He bases his view in Marxist and Enlightenment philosophy (unlike the Frankfurt School of post-Marxists, he embraces the Enlightenment). He's always a difficult read, and his arguments are hard (impossible, really) to reduce to bloggable soundbites.
I'll do something on his views over the weekend.
But the reality is that someone who sees the central American Idea as Franklin does owes - what, exactly - to the future of America?
Yes the things he talks about are part of the American history, people, and idea. But they do not define the American idea, and people who believe they do - as does Yglesias, I'll suggest (from his own words and from his suggested reading in the area) are fundamentally missing what it is that Middle Americans see in America. And in doing so, they do two things - as the 'shapers' of our culture, they mis-shape it in fundamentally damaging ways (thank God for hysterisis), and they isolate themselves increasingly from the mass of American people who are grateful for the patrimony America has given them, and who are willing to contribute to the future.
Perhaps that's why children are so out of fashion in certain circles...
Welcome Instapundit readers...it appears to be 'patriotism' week here, so please check out the four posts I've done this week on the subject: 'Patriotism - Goldberg to Couric to Yglesias', 'You've Got To Be Kidding Me', 'Patriotism Rears Its Head Yet Again', and 'Rorty on Patriotism'
I don't ask you folks for much - no tip jar, I pay for my own laptop by working a day job, etc.
But I really, really would appreciate it if you could take a few moments today and write one letter to one of the companies on the list of businesses that do business with Burma.
Let them know what you think of the situation there, and what you think of them for profiting from it.
Yes, it's not something that will have an immediate or massive impact.
But if we can get enough people to do it, it will have some impact.
Yglesias has his response on patriotism up at the Atlantic, and I'm wondering if he can get some of his Harvard money back.
Patriotism is - wait for it - just like being a Knicks fan. There are good Knicks fans, and bad ones.
The attitude toward America that conservatives like to champion is like this latter batch of Knicks fans -- not people animated by a special concern for our fellow-citizens and a special appreciation for our country's virtues, but by a deep emotional investment in a certain kind of national hagiography and myth-making.
The patriotism = fanboy equivalence is one that's often made by people who don't believe - or know - much in patriotism. It makes patriotism cute, and kind of demeans it is a backhanded way. because you, know, my wife is still a Cubs fan even twenty years after she left Chicago, so isn't that just cute?
But the most obsessive Cubs fans don't get linked to a polity of other Cubbies fans with whom they have to share power.
The mechanisms by which our - or any - political structure are maintained within our culture are kinda significant if we want those structures to survive. Habermas has the best (if most awkwardly written) description of this process, I think, in 'Legitimation Crisis' - I'll try and do a post on this over the weekend.
Yglesias goes on to recommend Anatol Lievin's book on American nationalism - which, based on the Publisher's Weekly review, seems shockingly predictable:
In this provocative and scholarly work, Lieven, senior associate at Washington's Carnegie Endowment, argues that normative American patriot ism ...an optimistic "civic creed" rooted in respect for America's institutions, individual freedoms and constitutional law - contains a monster in the basement: a jingoistic, militaristic, Jacksonian nationalism that sees America as the bearer of a messianic mission to lead a Manichean struggle against the savages.
plus,as a bonus...
Lieven's provocative final chapter argues that much of U.S. support for Israel is rooted not in the "civic creed" (e.g., support for a fellow liberal democracy) but in a nationalism that sees the Israelis as heroic cowboys and the Palestinians as savages who must be driven from their land, as Jackson did the Cherokees. Throughout, Lieven takes to task the American liberal intelligentsia for abandoning universalist principles in favor of ethnic chauvinism and nationalist fervor.
...I can't wait to read it...
Welcome Instapundit readers...it appears to be 'patriotism' week here, so please check out the four posts I've done this week on the subject: 'Patriotism - Goldberg to Couric to Yglesias', 'You've Got To Be Kidding Me', 'Patriotism Rears Its Head Yet Again', and 'Rorty on Patriotism'
We have little or no diplomatic leverage over the Burmese government, who is really a client of the Chinese. I'm typing this on a Lenovo notebook; to be honest, if I were shopping today I doubt that I would buy another one - yes I know that virtually all notebooks are made in China - but Lenovo is a Chinese company, and so by withholding our business, we may be able to make them pay attention.
Unocal - the "Union 76" Chevron the gas company - is also elbow-deep in Burma. Gas is easy to find elsewhere, as well.There is a complete list of companies doing business with Burma here.
These are useless and impotent gestures. In reality, it would take the Pacific Fleet to do anything meaningful, and we'd be at war with China. But I'm a warmonger anyway...
Actually, I'm sending the 'dirty list' to all the bloggers I know. I'll also ask each of you to click through, pick a company and write one letter. One letter, please.
Update: go check out the comments on this at the NY Times 'Opinionator' blog...OTOH, they did call us 'idiosyncratic', so I'm happy...
Jonah Goldberg is contemplating patriotism in the LA Times.
I've come around to the view that the culture war can best be understood as a conflict between two different kinds of patriotism. On the one hand, there are people who believe being an American is all about dissent and change, that the American idea is inseparable from "progress." America is certainly an idea, but it is not merely an idea. It is also a nation with a culture as real as France's or Mexico's. That's where the other patriots come in; they think patriotism is about preserving Americanness.
I'm not sure I completely agree with him (more in a second) here, but I think he's hitting on the divide that I think matters.
He goes on:
Many liberals hear talk of national culture and shout, "Nativist!" first and ask questions later, if at all. They believe it is a sign of their patriotism that they hold fast to the idea that we are a "nation of immigrants" -- forgetting that we are also a nation of immigrants who became Americans.
As the host of the "Today" show in 2003, Couric said of the lost crew members of the space shuttle Columbia: "They were an airborne United Nations -- men, women, an African American, an Indian woman, an Israeli. . . ." As my National Review colleague Mark Steyn noted, they weren't an airborne U.N., they were an airborne America. The "Indian woman" came to America in the 1980s, and, in about a decade's time, she was an astronaut. "There's no other country on Earth where you can do that," Steyn rightly noted.
For cosmopolitans like Couric, however, the very best thing you could say about those heroic astronauts was that they weren't part of the national "we" but of the global "we," for the only "we" that counts is that of "we are the world."
Matt Yglesias disagrees, or would, if he found the question interesting enough:
So I read Jonah Goldberg's column here and I'm left wondering, does he really think that American nationalism is insufficiently present in American television news? Like, sincerely believe that in a way that would make this a subject worth arguing about?
Yglesias reduces Goldberg's serious question to a silly one: is there enough patriotism in the news? (Note: I don't think there is, but that was another story.)
But it's not just Couric - Yglesias himself is a great case study in what Goldberg is talking about.
Here's Matt in 2004:
Well, that was yesterday. I remember back in 1997 talking to a Czech guy who was confused as to why Americans would have a holiday commemorating Independence Day. The real point, though, is this: Not be an left-wing America-hater about it all, or to deny that our Founders had some legitimate grievances* but in retrospect wouldn't America and the world both be better off if the USA had remained more closely associated with the British Empire and her Commonwealth? After all, if the erstwhile "greatest generation" had gotten in on the Hitler-fighting action at the same time as Canada and Australia did, a whole lot of trouble could have been avoided. See also World War One.
In that light, it seems to me that while the Revolution should not be condemned, it is something to be regretted: a failure of Imperial policy and an inability of leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to work out some thorny governance and burden-sharing issues. Not much of an occasion for fireworks.
He revisited the issue:
That's almost certainly right. I wouldn't want to be understood as saying that the Founders should have known better than to rebel. There's no way they could have seen the sort of geopolitical conflicts between the English-speaking world and various Teutonic and Slavic (and now, perhaps, Arab) tyrannies, nor is it by any means clear that Britain and her dominions would have developed such benign governance structures absent the Revolution to cause them to rethink a thing or two. I just want to consider what sort of emotional response we should have to the fact of the Revolution.
Hold the fireworks seems to be the right sentiment for him.
Now I've argued on and on that we need an anticosmopolitan liberalism, one rooted firmly in the American Founding if liberalism is going to get any traction here in US politics. I've slagged and been slagged by the usual cast of Netroots characters over this issue, and I'll point out that the Netroots liberalism for all the sound and fury hasn't signified much in the political scene except to - almost certainly - hand the nomination to the least liberal candidate running, Hillary Clinton.
The basis for much of my argument has been the work of John Schaar, a little-known political theorist who happened to be one of my professors. Who I admit I should have paid more attention to back then.
The work I keep pointing to is his work, 'The Case for Patriotism' (excerpted here).
Here are two quotes I think worth thinking about in the context of Steyn and Yglesias.
"Patriotism is unwelcome in many quarters of the land today, and unknown in many others. There is virtually no thoughtful discussion of the subject, for the word has settled, in most people's minds, deep into a brackish pond of sentiment where thought cannot reach. Politicians and members of patriotic associations praise it, of course, but official and professional patriotism too often sounds like nationalism, patriotism's bloody brother. On the other hand, patriotism has a bad name among many thoughtful people, who see it as a horror at worst, a vestigial passion largely confined to the thoughtless at best: as enlightenment advances, patriotism recedes. The intellectuals are virtually required to repudiate it as a condition of class membership. The radical and dropout young loathe it. Most troublesome of all, for one who would make the argument I intend to make, is the face that both the groups that hate and those that glorify patriotism largely agree that it and nationalism are the same thing. I hope to show that they are different things--related, but separable.
Opponents of patriotism might agree that if the two could be separated then patriotism would look fairly attractive. But the opinion is widespread, almost atmospheric, that the separation is impossible, that with the triumph of the nation-state nation. Nationalism has indelibly stained patriotism: the two are warp and woof. The argument against patriotism goes on to say that, psychologically considered, patriot and nationalist are the same: both are characterized by exaggerated love for one's own collectivity combined with more or less contempt and hostility toward outsiders. In addition, advanced political opinion holds that positive, new ideas and forces--e.g., internationalism, universalism; humanism, economic interdependence, socialist solidarity--are healthier bonds of unity, and more to be encouraged than the ties of patriotism. These are genuine objections, and they are held by many thoughtful people."
"But if instinctive patriotism and the patriotism of the city cannot be ours, what can be? Is there a type of patriotism peculiarly American: if so, is it anything more than patriotism's violent relative nationalism?
Abraham Lincoln, the supreme authority on this subject, thought there was a patriotism unique to America. Americans, a motley gathering of various races and cultures, were bonded together not by blood or religion, not by tradition or territory, not by the calls and traditions of a city, but by a political idea. We are a nation formed by a covenant, by dedication to a set of principles, and by an exchange of promises to uphold and advance certain commitments among ourselves and throughout the world. Those principles and commitments are the core of American identity, the soul of the body politic. They make the American nation unique, and uniquely valuable among and to the other nations. But the other side of this conception contains a warning very like the warnings spoken by the prophets to Israel: if we fail in our promises to each other, and lose the principles of the covenant, then we lose everything, for they are we." [emphasis added]
The problem with Yglesias shrugging at the 4th of July is that what is really being shrugged at is the complex civic religion that makes my immigrant neighbors as American as I am - more American, I'll argue, than Yglesias. That civic religion has kept this Republic alive for 200 years, and serves as the compass point for countless people throughout the world, as well as the uniting force - the weakening uniting force - in American politics.
When this religion gets shrugged off, we will lose far more than Couric or Yglesias think. And because it is a civic religion that can be freely assumed, the nature of the 'Americanness' Goldberg worries about is less cultural and less a national identity as the French see it and more explicitly political - in a uniquely American way, thankfully...
Welcome Instapundit and Opinionator readers...it appears to be 'patriotism' week here, so please check out the four posts I've done this week on the subject: 'Patriotism - Goldberg to Couric to Yglesias', 'You've Got To Be Kidding Me', 'Patriotism Rears Its Head Yet Again', and 'Rorty on Patriotism'
RAMADI, IRAQ – Now that major combat operations are finished almost everywhere in Iraq’s Anbar Province, the United States Army and Marine Corps are more like a United Nations peacekeeping force with rules of engagement that allow them to kill if they have to. “We’re like the Peace Corps with muscles,” is how one soldier put it when I left with his unit at 4:00 in the morning to deliver food stuffs and toys to needy families in the countryside on the edge of the desert.
Actually, we did not leave at 4:00. We were supposed to leave at 4:00, when the weather outside wasn’t a blast furnace, but we were late leaving the base. I waited in front of my trailer to be picked up from 3:55 in the morning until 5:00 before a small convoy of Humvees finally showed up to get me.
“Good morning, sir,” said Lieutenant Evan Davies from Rochester, New York, as climbed out of his truck to shake my hand. “Let’s go roust the CAG out of bed.”
The CAG, Civil Affairs Group, was still in bed? We were supposed to leave an hour ago. Our humanitarian aid drop was scheduled before dawn for good reason. We were suffering a heat wave in Iraq – in August no less – and hoped to finish the mission before the molten sun finished us off. I grudgingly dragged my sorry ass out of bed at 3:30 like I was supposed to, but there I was, an hour and a half later, being told to go wake up the CAG.