Lovely story about a true warrior:
"In those bleak moments when the lost souls stood atop the cliff, wondering whether to jump, the sound of the wind and the waves was broken by a soft voice. "Why don't you come and have a cup of tea?" the stranger would ask. And when they turned to him, his smile was often their salvation.
For almost 50 years, Don Ritchie has lived across the street from Australia's most notorious suicide spot, a rocky cliff at the entrance to Sydney Harbour called The Gap. And in that time, the man widely regarded as a guardian angel has shepherded countless people away from the edge...."
The Primal Heroic Response, in action.
saw somewhere the government is looking at cutting 1billion in aid to iraq. i also read somewhere that south vietnam didnt really fall until congress stopped sending them money and materiel. what is the point of all this fighting if no one is willing to give support to the countries we tried so hard to build?In the next week, all of the commentariat will be transfixed by the soap-opera of McCrystal and the Administration and who said and did what to whom. Meanwhile, my son carries a machine gun and his friends get shot and blown up. If we're not going to act like these countries matter - why should he?
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration reaffirmed Sunday that it will begin pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan next summer, despite reservations among top generals that absolute deadlines are a mistake.OK, eff it. Let's just take our ball and go home.
President Barack Obama's chief of staff said an announced plan to begin bringing forces home in July 2011 still holds.
That's not changing. Everybody agreed on that date," Rahm Emanuel said, adding by name the top three officials overseeing the policy girding the war: Gen. David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen.
Well, Clyde sure did in the movie Every Which Way But Loose. Orangs are quite clever, and we always knew they were by far the best tool users among the great apes. Their feats of intelligence and escape artistry at zoos are near-legendary, and have included hiding improvised lockpicks in their lower lip - then successfully using them. They've also shown the inclination to make one tool using another tool, which is no small water.
Clyde was a trained ape, of course. So was Chantek, who showed the ability to master sign language, invent new words, lie successfully, and absorb human cultural notions at the level of a young child.
All pretty cool - and potentially disruptive to our notions of where the term "reasonable creature" (which defines some states' murder laws) might begin and end.
Another brick in the wall comes from Erica Cartmill and Richard Byrne at the University of St. Andrews in the UK. They studied orangutans in zoos, but the study focused on how they interacted with each other, not with humans. The kicker? The orangs were consistently using sign/body language among themselves, for specific things, and using the same signals both consistently, and with more emphasis when a response isn't forthcoming (the sign equivalent of talking slower and louder - guess that reflex goes pretty deep).
The use of zoos introduces some complications to the conclusions, but without some kind of anti-grav pack, that stuff is going to be very hard to observe in the wild. If we ever do establish the existence of a similar behaviour pattern in the wild, without human intervention, I think the case will pretty much slam shut on the notion of orangutans as, effectively, "people."
I'm there now. Right beside Philo Beddoe.
The Strategic Importance of Afghanistan and the Case for Staying in the WarLet me talk about the first one now, and move through the rest as I have time.
Can This Mission Be Successful? Can We Win?
Estimating the Enemy
Deadlines and Expectations
Accepting Afghans as Afghans
The Civil-Military Side of the War
The Reality of Continuing Risk
Two critical questions dominate any realistic discussion of the conflict. The first is whether the war is worth fighting. The second is whether it can be won. The answers to both questions are uncertain. The US has no enduring reason to maintain a strategic presence in Afghanistan or Central Asia. It has far more important strategic priorities in virtually every other part of the world, and inserting itself into Russia's "near abroad," China's sphere of influence, and India's ambitions makes no real sense. Geography, demographics, logistics, and economics all favor other nations, and no amount of academic hubris can realistically model American reform of the "Stans" in ways that are cost-effective relative to other uses of US resources.Well, if you look at spatial geography, that's absolutely true. But in the world we live in today, geographic geography - spatial geography - is only one of the maps on which we have to operate. We also have to operate in the space of cultural geography, and I wish just once that someone with deep expertise in this area would talk about what Afghanistan means.
The carefully spun good news story about Afghan minerals may or may not prove to be economically realistic. It is all too typical of a long series of "breadbasket" arguments that take problem countries and argue that their natural resources can make them wealthy or that they can become major exporters of agricultural products. In practice, it will be at least half a decade before Afghanistan's mineral resources will pay off, and the key outside investors are likely to be Chinese, Russian, and local. It is very unlikely that firms can compete without bribes and incentives as the cost of doing business, and even if US registered companies do invest, they are likely to operate as non-US entities in ways than minimize any economic benefits to the US.I actually wonder if the minerals story isn't more for internal consumption in Afghanistan - to motivate Karzai and the warlords to think that there may be a pot of gold (or lithium) that they can dip into if only there were stability.
The key reasons for the war remain Al Qa'ida and the threat of a sanctuary and base for international terrorism, and the fact the conflict now involves Pakistan's future stability. One should have no illusion about today's insurgents. The leading cadres are far more international in character, far better linked to Al Qa'ida and other international extremist groups, and much closer tied to extremists in Pakistan. If they "join" an Afghan government while they are still winning (or feel they are winning), they are likely to become such a sanctuary and a symbol of victory that will empower similar extremists all over the world.He's absolutely right here - and I wish that the balance of this analysis focused more deeply on the linkages he's delineating and what they mean for our policies in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Experts disagree sharply about Pakistan's instability and vulnerability in the face of a US and ISAF defeat in Afghanistan. There is no way to predict how well Pakistan can secure its border and deal with its own Islamic extremists, and Pakistan is both a nuclear state and a far more serious potential source of support to other extremist movements than Afghanistan. A hardline, Deobandi-dominated Pakistan would be a serious strategic threat to the US and its friends and allies, and would sharply increase the risk of another major Indo-Pakistani conflict.To a certain extent, this is true; at the same time I think that China and India would have a lot to say about it as a regional matter. More important is the fact that any international salafist/islamist movement would now have a wealthy, secure home.
It should be noted, however, that the US may be forced into leaving Afghanistan regardless of its intentions to stay, or face conditions that make any stable form of victory impossible. Containment from the outside may be the only choice, and having to leave Afghanistan does not mean having to abandon Pakistan. Maintaining a major civil and military aid effort to Pakistan, and keeping US capabilities to work with Pakistan in UCAV and other strikes on insurgent networks is also an option. So is working with Russia to support a rebirth of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and to pin down the Taliban and other insurgents as much as possible.That's absolutely true; we may have wasted the opportunity to 'make Afghanistan work,' if one existed. In the overall context of our world (finances) and politics, and most of all, absent any kind of strategic rationale that our leadership can explain to the rest of us, I doubt our ability to sustain our current efforts in Afghanistan. In fact, I don't doubt them - it's not going to happen.
Moreover, it is time to stop demonizing Bin Laden and Al Qa'ida and focus on the broader threat. Massive population increases, poverty, decaying educational and social infrastructure, culture shock and alienation, and failed secularism affect far too much of the Islamic world. Yemen and Somalia are only the two worst cases, and some form of extremist and terrorist threat is likely to be a regional constant for the next two decades -regardless of whether the US and its allies win or lose in Afghanistan. Moreover, the trade-offs involved do raise serious questions about whether the same - or a much lower - investment in helping key allies like Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco would do far more to provide overall security.You know, here he just jumps off the rails. There is no research showing any links at all to any of these issues; the roots of the radical movement we face are philosophical and social and have little if anything to do with population, poverty, decayed infrastructure. Those simply provide failed state 'playgrounds' for the radicalized.
The fact is, the strategic case for staying in Afghanistan is uncertain and essentially too close to call. The main reason is instead tactical. We are already there. We have major capabilities in place. If we can demonstrate that the war can be won at reasonable additional cost in dollars and blood, it makes sense to persist. But, only if we can demonstrate we can win and show that the additional cost has reasonable limits. Containment and alternative uses of the same resources are very real options, and would probably be more attractive ones if we could somehow "zero base" history. The reality is, however, that nations rarely get to choose the ideal ground in making strategic decisions. They are prisoners of their past actions, and so are we.The questions simply is at what cost, and what for.
You want to hasten the end of your industry? Then by all means, keep doing what you're doing: consider yourself unaccountable and scoff at the blogosphere. Yes, I understand bloggers are changing the newspaper industry in fundamental ways. (Ezra Klein, to use one example, does not blog with the same tradition of objectivity in which the Washington Post's print journalists report. How that changes the culture of the newsroom, then, is interesting.) But if you think you don't need to answer to bloggers, some of whom have spent years doing field research or working in Central Asia and now blog as a hobby, the invisible hand of the market is going to find you out. And before you know it, you'll have taken a buy-out from the New York Times and be teaching creative writing in Maryland. And, let's face it, probably blogging on the side.-
Why on earth does the 4G coverage, of the so called "NOW" network, suck so much. Unless you are right in the middle of a capital city, you're stuck on 3G with the pitiful 5Gb per month cap.So you got no infrastructure...and you know, amateurs talk technology, pros talk infrastructure.
They were supposed to have WiMax in Boston late 2008 I believe, then they said, sometime in 2009. Well we are almost halfway through 2010, still no WiMax in Boston.
The funny thing is, despite the fact that less than 10% of this country is covered by WiMAX, Sprint continues to advertise nationally that it has a 4G network up and running. That's false advertising, plain and simple. Sprint hasn't built out any 4G network (and technically speaking, WiMAX is super-3G, not 4G), Clearwire is. And simply put, Sprint claiming to have a 4G network just screams to me that Sprint management lacks integrity in a major way.
I wonder what Verizon will do when they light up a majority of their LTE network at the end of this year...will they claim to have a 4G network as well? and will they cover at least as many people as Clearwire currently does.
Not every war need be fought until one side collapses. When the motives and tensions of war are slight we can imagine that the faintest prospect of defeat might be enough to cause one side to yield. If from the very start the other side feels that this is probable, it will obviously concentrate on bringing about this probability rather than take the log way round and totally defeat the enemy.
- On War 1:2
Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them?-
They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.
They say, We were young. We have died. Remember us.
- Archibald McLeash - 'The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak'
You simply couldn't make this up. I give you Helen Thomas, acknowledged Dean of the White House press corps, at a White House Jewish Heritage Celebration:
And the thing is, it's not really surprising. Just someone who chose to say out loud the logical endpoint of Islamo-leftist opinion about Israel, and the way many on the left feel.
Back to Poland and Germany. Just let that sink in for a second.
Of course, Helen Thomas issued a statement later:
"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."
It has no permalink, but is currently at the top of her site.
I'll begin by noting the term "last week." The videotaped statement was made on a Tuesday. Which leads to point #2.
This apology was an utter and complete lie, to an extent that would embarass the most hardened politician.
If her apology was true, she wouldn't have said what she said in the first place. While laughing. This statement, and her videotaped statement, cannot coexist in one belief set. And it's not like someone born in 1920 could possibly be ignorant of what "go back to Germany and Poland" means.
If her apology was true, she would have apologized that day, or the next day.
Every word of her "apology" is a lie, beginning with the word "I". The only thing she deeply regrets is the need to tell that lie, in order to preserve her job and reputation.
It should preserve neither.
The most likely defense mounted by her apologists is obvious: she's old, and doesn't know what she's saying. My response is 2-fold. One is that if this is true, she should be fired right now. People who don't know what they're saying can't be in a job that revolves around saying things.
The second is that this may be an argument for lowered inhibitions, but it won't make people say things they don't believe. Helen Thomas was asked an open-ended question, and then an open-ended clarification question. She responded with her real beliefs.
A belief that Jews, uniquely among nations, have no right to exist. No right to security. And ultimately, no right to live, save at the sufferance of others.
That's the real Helen Thomas. And she's not alone.
Going into Lebanon and then later Gaza in force to root out the problems at their source, and then stopping and withdrawing in the face of the usual international reaction. Their international reputation would have hardly been worse if they had finished the job. Anyone who supported the initial policy in each case has to be disapointed by the ultimate lack of fortitude to follow through with it (which was predictable to me as both these campaigns started, though I hoped I was wrong), and anyone who opposed Israel in these cases is quietly thanking their good fortune.
Yet as I said, the each unfolded predictably, every time, exactly as I have foreseen, because at bottom even - especially - the Israelis want to not only do the right thing, but what is actually worse be *seen* and *perceived* as doing the right thing. So when they go to cut the knot, they saw half way through and when the International Community's Greek Chorus shouts them down, they stop and back off, letting it regrow and metastasize, letting it feel it has the momentum, feel a sense of victory, and that the Winds of Change are on their side.
This inevitably leaves them with the worst of both worlds. Surely WRM knows Napoleon's saying that if you set out to take Vienna, TAKE VIENNA.
Probably the best strategic move Israel could do now is rename itself "North Korea" (while not adopting that nation's political ideology). Then they could do whatever they want, sink any ship, threaten and kill anyone they needed to, and the ever-so caring International Community wouldn't care one whit - except to urge "Caution" and "don't over-react" and "nobody should escalate the situation."
Anyhow, it's really all over now; as my mother said the other day about this, it's like a dying person connected to a respirator. Everyone knows what is to come, but no one knows when.
Or, in one of my favorite quotes, tragic in this context, "The non-inevitability of events we nevertheless know are bound to come."
It is non-inevitable: Something could change, in us, the broad us, the so-called civilized world. But do you think it will? In time? Since it hasn't yet, despite many wuss-slaps to the face by reality, when and under what circumstances do you think it will? Again: In time. In this case, in time for the Israelis, who one would think have sacrificed enough and been sacrificed enough to other's self-regard.
T.S. Eliot: "Half of the harm that is done in this world Is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."
These days it most, more than half, of the forces for evil in this world would be readily checked if it wasn't for these two sorts of people. But we let them hold the reins.
The attention to detail at a base like Restropo forced a kind of clarity on absolutely everything a soldier did until I came to think of it as a kind of Zen practice: the Zen of not fucking up. It required a high mindfulness because potentially everything had consequences.From "War" by Sebastian Junger. I just finished it and will try and do a review before I travel this weekend. Let's just say it's good enough that I need a day or so to process before writing about it.
In the civilian world almost nothing has lasting consequences, so you can blunder through life in a kind of daze. You never have to take inventory of the things in your possession and you never have to calculate the ways in which mundane circumstances can play out - can, in fact, kill you. As a result, you lose importance of the importance of things, the gravity of things. Back home mundane details also have the power to destroy you, but the cause and effect are often spread so far apart that you don't even make the connection; at Restropo, that connection was impossible to ignore.