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October 2007 Archives

October 31, 2007

The A-Rod Sweepstakes

By Joe Katzman at 21:37

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....

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  • NukemHill: I'm voting for the Orioles. Not out of any sense read more
  • TOC: Texiera and Santana "could" be available in '09. The way read more
  • Dave: I'm so happy he's gone. Now, the Yanks can focus read more

The Yasser Arafat Memorial Wall

By Donald Sensing at 02:41

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.

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  • Mark Buehner: "and stipulate that somewhere between most and all Americans don't read more
  • Donald Sensing: Well, of the billlions of dollars of fioreign (mostly US) read more
  • bgates: My post was to limit sympathy by illustrating some of read more

October 30, 2007

A SERE Instructor on Waterboarding

By Armed Liberal at 06:03

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.
(slide 118)

I'll have more to say about this in the next few days. Amazingly, I think I can tie TNR into it.

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  • davod: Please read the NYT piece. He has a good pedigree. read more
  • davod: Sorry for the terible spelling in my earlier post. read more
  • Alchemist: WRT to the Canadian teenager. Do net let the teenager read more

A160 Hummingbird: A Long-Lasting Helicopter UAV

By Joe Katzman at 03:03
AIR UAV A160T 1k Test Payload
A160T carries
1,000 pounds
(click to view full)

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...

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October 29, 2007

A Russian Analysis of Turkey-Kurdistan

By Joe Katzman at 08:29

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.

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  • SAO: Good article. Love the bonus anti-Georgian propaganda! Wasn't expecting that. read more
  • TOC: #16 from Mark Buehner at 2:45 am on Oct read more
  • celebrim: "Chances are, traditional organised-crime methods would work better than most read more

Chinese J-10 Fighter to Iran, Syria?

By Joe Katzman at 02:59
Chinese J-10
(click to view full)

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...

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  • John Wesley: I'm somewhat surprised by all of the attention being focused read more
  • Mark Pyruz: Joe, I'm sure we'll be discussing similar topics on future read more
  • Joe Katzman: Mark, elan in the air does get you something real, read more

F-35s to Israel Early?

By Joe Katzman at 02:55
F-35A head-on
(click to view full)

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.

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  • J Thomas: Joe, don't worry about how much the planes cost. The read more
  • an Israeli: The F-ing Americans sold us out. They know there won't read more
  • Joe Katzman: Jason, Gripens can't be sold to Israel under Swedish export read more

October 28, 2007

Russia's Baptist Astronomer

By Joe Katzman at 07:26

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.

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  • Robin Roberts: Another example would be that of John Dobson, for whom read more
  • Ian Coull: I am guessing that the point is... religion and science read more
  • Uncle Ralph: "The more I study science, the more I believe in read more

October 27, 2007

Why Beauchamp Matters.

By Armed Liberal at 20:14

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.

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  • J Thomas: I get the feeling there just isnt a definitive answer read more
  • J Thomas: I'm looking at page 10 of the document where the read more
  • Mark Buehner: The problem is the GCs are very confusing, sometimes redundant, read more

It's Islamofascism Research Week

By Armed Liberal at 18:19

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.

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  • Armed Liberal: avedis - Do you seriously believe that "What is needed read more
  • TOC: #19 from Treefrog at 11:55 pm on Oct 29, read more
  • avedis: It may be, Treefrog, that those who subscribe to the read more

A Russian Asteroid Defense?

By Joe Katzman at 07:17

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...).

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  • Fletcher Christian: The 20th century had two Tunguska-scale impacts; Tunguska itself and read more
  • a: Russia suddenly altruistic after all that Gazprom wealth i guess? read more
  • J Thomas: 7The chance of a program that can actually keep asteroids read more

Fighting Fires

By Joe Katzman at 03:01

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.

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  • ThomasD: I remember the OSS! Being a kid in Buffalo in read more
  • Nathan: From personal experience, if a videogame is too easy, people read more

OK, TNR Is Looking More And More Like Just A Pile Of C**p.

By Armed Liberal at 00:12

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."

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.

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.
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  • Dave B: #45: Daniel in Brookline: Daniel, I have to repectfully disagree read more
  • Armed Liberal: AJL - No, I'd be certain that prisoner abuse takes read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: You know, I don't think there's any way avedis and read more

October 26, 2007

Watch Both Of These...

By Armed Liberal at 23:42

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:

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  • Glen Wishard: Robin: Glen, I like Branaugh's Hamlet more than you did read more
  • celebrim: Future generations will remark how poorly our poets wrote about read more
  • Paul Milenkovic: One of the lines of Rowan Atkinson (playing the leader read more

Boy, Am I Glad We Have Experts.

By Armed Liberal at 16:39

Because no one I know would possibly have thought of this:

Strike on Iran Would Roil Oil Markets, Experts Say

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.

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  • J Thomas: We do seem to have government leaders who're pushing for read more
  • Robin Roberts: Dave, his number added in the dept of homeland security read more
  • Armed Liberal: Alan, good gotcha, but... I'd suggest that there's a world read more

Hamas and Fatah human rights abuses documented

By Donald Sensing at 14:47

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.

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JPADS: Making Precision Air-Drops A Reality

By Joe Katzman at 08:26
LOGI JPADS Screamer Over Afghanistan
Strong's JPADS,
(click to view full)

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.

Read the rest at Defense Industry Daily...

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October 25, 2007

TNR - "Nice wife you have. Shame if something happened to her..."

By Armed Liberal at 16:28

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.

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  • alphie: "Shattered Glass" vs. Pat Tillman, etc., AMAC? Google "Scott Beauchamp" read more
  • AMac: Bob Owens published an update/summary of where the story stood read more
  • Armed Liberal: OMG, Robo - I was just out in Chino two read more

A Reaper for NASA: Imaging California Wildfires

By Joe Katzman at 07:16
EVENT NASA MQ-9 Image San Diego Fire 2007-10-24
Ikhana image
(click to view full)

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.

NASA's Ikhana
(click to view full)

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.

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  • Mark Buehner: Check out the images of the wild fires, its surreal. read more

Up close and personal with Hamas rockets

By Donald Sensing at 04:07

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.

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  • Dave: J Thomas You can't believe palestinians when they say israelis read more
  • anon: J. Thomas: You didn't remind us of the Israeli spy read more
  • J Thomas: The example Glenn quotes, the bullet went in above one read more

India & Russia to Create "Fifth Generation Fighter"

By Joe Katzman at 03:25
AIR SU-30MKI Eurofighter Tornado-F3
SU-30MKI, Typhoon, F3
(click to view full)

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.

MiG 1.44 MFI
(click to view full)

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...

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October 24, 2007

Small Wars Journal Leverages Web 2.0 Trends

By Joe Katzman at 08:20
PUB Small Wars Journal

(click for magazine)

"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."

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October 23, 2007

Trust Them, They Are Trained Professionals

By Armed Liberal at 07:35

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:

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The Fire Next Time

By Armed Liberal at 07:21

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:

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  • avedis: AL, I have participated in it at the state level. read more

Line of the Week

By Armed Liberal at 06:58

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.

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October 22, 2007

Journalism, again.

By Armed Liberal at 17:55

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.

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Military Book Bleg

By Armed Liberal at 16:48

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:

Inside Delta Force
Shadow Warriors
Imperial Grunts
Masters of Chaos

To which I added:

On Combat
On War (Clauswitz)
The Art of War (Sun Tzu)
Book of Five Rings (Mushashi)

What other books should I send him? What do you think our soldiers should read to make them better - better soldiers and better people?

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October 16, 2007

Success Against a Networked Enemy

By Armed Liberal at 01:10

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:

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October 15, 2007

The Case for Kurdistan

By Michael Totten at 23:19

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.

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.
Read the whole thing in Azure magazine.

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October 12, 2007

Off To Chicago

By Armed Liberal at 07:34

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.

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Muslim scholars call for peace

By Donald Sensing at 02:00
One hundred thirty Muslim scholars have sent a letter to Pope Benedict and other Christian religious leaders calling for competition between Islam and Christianity " 'only in righteousness and good works.' "

"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.

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October 11, 2007

On Patrol in Ramadi

By Michael Totten at 11:04

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.

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October 10, 2007

If I were a Shi'ite from Saudi Arabia.

By Tarek Heggy at 11:07

• "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.

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Beauchamp, TNR and WTF?

By Armed Liberal at 00:57

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'.

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October 9, 2007

Cherrypicking Weber

By Armed Liberal at 03:43

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.

In this case he cites Max Weber's 'Politics As A Vocation' - an essay Schaar drilled us on relentlessly one class - and cherrypicks a cite that he claims justifies his moral certitude about the war:

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October 8, 2007

The Best Police Force in Iraq

By Michael Totten at 10:37


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.

Read the rest at

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France Bleg

By Armed Liberal at 02:53

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 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?

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October 6, 2007

Rorty on Patriotism

By Armed Liberal at 06:03

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 here

[emphasis added]

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 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'

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October 5, 2007

Patriotism Rears Its Head Yet Again

By Armed Liberal at 03:23

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):

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October 4, 2007

One Letter

By Armed Liberal at 17:54

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.

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You've Got To Be Kidding Me

By Armed Liberal at 17:30

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 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 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'

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Free Burma

By Armed Liberal at 06:18

Free Burma!

The Burmese junta is now searching out the activists who marched peacefully and hauling them away.

Please go to to learn more, as well as the invaluable Global Voices Online.

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.

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  • M. Simon: Well AL, No Blood For Oil means no military adventures read more

October 3, 2007

Patriotism - Goldberg to Couric to Yglesias

By Armed Liberal at 05:50

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.

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  • Steve_MacD: When did nationalism become synonymous with ultra-nationalism? read more
  • DMonteith: Not sure what happened to the third paragraph there. It read more
  • David Blue: #64 from Kirk Parker: "David Blue and A.L., your argument read more

October 1, 2007

The Peace Corps with Muscles

By Michael Totten at 08:46


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.

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  • Shawn: Major combat operations are almost over?!? If only it would read more
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