30 June 2004

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Light on the sea

I saw this story about a telecommuncations satellite not making the correct orbit and thought - wow, I didn’t even realize that Sea Launch was operational. In addition to Spaceship One, Sea Launch is another interesting development where private industry is bypassing schlerotic governments.

Posted by aog at 12:23 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Goals and means

Another post over at Harry’s Place

I am ashamed to admit that there have been times when I wanted more chaos, more shocks, more disorder to teach our side a lesson. On Monday I found myself again hoping that this handover proves a failure because it has been orchestrated by the Americans. The decent people of Iraq need optimism now, not my distasteful ill-wishes for the only hope they have for a future.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Like the poster, I’ll skip bashing on the callous nihilism in this quote and move on to something more interesting.

It is apparently an article of faith for Ms. Alibhai-Brown and her readers that the USA is the primary source of injustice in the world (as expressed by Neil W. — “she has seen alot of injustice in the world - much of it as the result of the US”). But even if such a canard were true, why would a failure in Iraq be a good thing? Wouldn’t it, even from a Leftist / Anti-American point of view, be better for Iraq to be a major success so that the USA is encouraged in the future to be more supportive of human rights and self determination? Wouldn’t a real Leftist want the reconstruction of Iraq to succeed in direct relationship to how much the USA transfers control to Iraq? Is there not place in the Leftist world view for positive reenforcement?

Unless, of course, destroying the USA is more important than any other political goals.

Posted by aog at 07:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

The best they can do

Looks like the House of Saud is getting increasingly desparate. First it was a 30 day reduced sentence offer, now it’s amnesty for unlicensed weapons. We all know just how effective that knid of thing has been in the USA and Iraq. It’s the kind of feel good action taken by a government not in a position to really crack down. I’m sure that some parts of the House of Saud are regretting their alliance with Wahabbism but it seems that they’re trying to steer a super tanker to safe harbor using only popsicle sticks.

29 June 2004

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Didn't we win a war against them a couple of decades back?

Over at Harry’s Place they’re talking about

For some reason these were juxtaposed as opposites. But it’s hard to see why - certainly a Communist party would be celebrating any set back for democracy or self-ordering in society. The whole point of Communism is to rigidly order society from the top, just like the Ba’ath did. The Iraqi Communists are at least not actively killing people yet, but otherwise it’s hard to see why they should be considered any better for Iraq than the Ba’ath.

28 June 2004

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Surely they don't dislike us!

According to the BBC, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concerned that

the growing trend for military operations to be presented as humanitarian is making aid work more dangerous.

The theory of the ICRC is that the Caliphascists are getting confused about the difference between “neutral” aid workers and Western troops. This is theory is used to explain why the ICRC office in Baghdad was bombed. It seems to have escaped the notice of the ICRC that the UN got bombed as well, and it can hardly be counted as an ally of the West. All of the other indiscrimate violence targetting civilians is to be expected but attacking the Red Cross — that can only because of this NGO / military confusion in the minds of the bombers. Frankly, even I have a higher opinion of the mental capabilites of the Caliphascists than that.

Posted by aog at 08:03 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Let them talk, so long as they cower

Via The Command Post I read that the Israeli government is concerned that the International Court of Justice will rule against about the security fence.

The first thing that popped in to my mind was — why would Israel care? What is the ICJ going to do, invade? Perhaps a bad verdict would result in more public support in Europe for economic sanctions against Israel, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. Europe’s economy is itself shaky enough already. I wonder if an adverse ruling might not be for the best - it would satisfy the EUlite’s penchant for talk over deed without any real effect. It would also serve to further delegitimize the ICJ and associated “courts” in the public opinion of the USA. Looks like a win all around.

26 June 2004

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I was busy!

Sorry about the lack of posts, but She Who Is Perfect In All Ways let me take some time out to play with Green Rage 2 / G35 and PML IO / F23 but best of all Retro Rocket Works Spitfire (all wood) / G40! See ya next week…

23 June 2004

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Anti-protective treaties

Brothers Judd regular Harry Eager writes

Obviously, whatever saved the Americans [prisoners of war] from the full bestiality of German sensibility, it wasn’t a piece of paper. Nor was it German good will.

The protection came, in fact, from the only system yet devised by any nation to protect its nationals in unfriendly hands: reprisal.

This ties in with something that occurred to me the other day. Since WWII, no wartime opponent of the USA has held to the Geneva Conventions at all. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc. - the abuse of American POWs was affected not in the slightest by those conventions. Yet, before WWII many of our opponents did follow the equivalent (such as the British and the Germans). One is left wondering if the existence of the Geneva conventions and the resultant dependency on diplomatic norms and international law has in fact increased the likelihood of abuse of American POWs. As they say, you get more with a kind word and gun than just a kind word.

UPDATE: Iraq has joined the other 89 nations that have agreed not to use the ICC to prosecute USA soldiers. I think it’s hilarious that while the UN and its tranzi syncophants declaim the USA as an evil hegemon, most nations when forced to choose between the UN and the possibility of American troops in their countries prefer the latter.

Posted by aog at 16:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Cutting your own political throat

The USA has given up on trying to renew the immunity from prosecution at the International Criminal Court due to the opposition of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and other members of the UN Security Council.

I don’t think that this will have any effect on the USA - so what if the ICC has a trial? Who will make the arrest, especially with the President authorized to use any means necessary to retrieve such personel? Given the hysteria that has greeted the problems in Iraq it is clear that without this it’s difficult to see how the ICC is of net benefit to the USA.

What I expect instead is an additional, if gradual, decline in the prominence and significance of the UN and the ICC. Ultimately this stems from the fact that the USA is both willing and able to act militarily around the planet and few of the national sponsors of the ICC are either, and certainly none to the extent that of the USA. Lost in their logo-realism, the UN and its ilk have long forgotten that facts on the ground will eventually overwhelm even the cleverest phrasing and impressive pomp.

Posted by aog at 08:33 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Trade the cycle of violence for death on wheels

The Associated Press is allegedly reporting that the latest airstrike in Fallujah is in retaliation for the beheading of Kim Sun-il.

I doubt it’s true (it was reported by the AP, after all) but if it is I’m deeply disappointed. We should not be killing insurgents in Iraq in response to events like this. We should just be killing them whenever the opportunity exists. I suppose that it’s reported this way to make the Coalition look petty and vindictive, but one wonders what the reporters writing this stuff think should be done, other than to abjectly surrender to any psychopaths willing to engage in this kind of publicity horror.

22 June 2004

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Who cares if it was their fault?

Just when I thought pan-European courts couldn’t get any sillier, we have this:

Poland must pay compensation to a man whose family was forced from its home after World War II, a European court has ruled.

The European Court of Human Rights said 60-year-old Jerzy Broniowski should be paid 12,000 euros (£8,000).

Mr Broniowski’s grandmother lost her home after the war when Poland’s border shifted westwards.

In its ruling, the Strasbourg-based court said Poland had violated the European Convention of Human Rights.

The first question that springs to mind is why is Poland responsible for paying compensation? It’s not like Churchill, FDR and FDR’s buddy Uncle Joe Stalin consulted any Poles when they decided to shift the entire country west by a few hundred kilometers. I presume it’s primarily because Poland is just entering the European Union and looks like an easy mark. It seems like it would be more reasonable to send the bill to the USSR - oh, woops, they went bankrupt and folded. Such are the hazards of trying to right historical wrongs on an individual basis. Hopefullt this decision will carry all of the legal weight and significance that other pan-European court decisions have.

Posted by aog at 07:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Genocide - the buzz word of the day

There are some odd memes out there, one of the oddest being the view that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. It’s certainly one of the oddest genocides in history in that the Palestinian population has exploded during it.

For instance, this website makes that claim explicit, based on the data that 2.26 (can’t we be more precise?) Palestinians have died per day during the second intifada. One first wonders how many of those were caused by Palestinians (via suicide bombing or Arafat’s security apparatus). But setting that aside, while death is tragic it is hard to consider that rate of death to be anything like genocide.

Why are such terms used when they make the claims sound so overblown? I suspect it’s several reasons.

  • The Palestinians are committing such atrocities that only claims of genocide can shift the moral burden on to the other side. Any lesser claims would be remove any possibility of appealing to supporters in the West.
  • It serves to cheapen the real genocide attempted against the Jews, again diminishing the negative impact of Palestinian terrorism.
  • It prevents the solution used elsewhere in the world through history, of absorbing the refugees in to existing states rather than inventing a completely new one. If the Palestinians became, once again, Egyptians and Jordanians, that too would be labeled genocide.

Of course, the Palestinians could sieze the moral high ground unambiguously should they try non-violent tactics. But it’s clear that the violence is not about victoryfor the Palestinians but defeat for the Israelis. That stance is what really makes peace impossible.

21 June 2004

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Ask the experts

Now this is interesting:

Legislative trends in the United States, both before and after 9/11, show increased tolerance toward Muslim customs and beliefs. This is evident in several actions over the past few years. Halal food laws were passed in New Jersey and Illinois, each of which represent nearly half a million American Muslims.

This is discussing laws that make it illegal to sell food label “halal” if it is not, in fact, halal. I’m fine with that. However, this tidbit comes from “The Diversity Channel” which is a consulting group that support “diversity” in the corporate workplace. I find this claim quite stunning, given this source. Such outfits tend to be exquisitely sensitive to the slightest wiff of political incorrectness. Yet their claim is that subsequent to the 11 Sep attacks, the legal atmosphere became more tolerant to Islam. Not exactly an endorsement of the creeping fascism school of thought.

Posted by aog at 17:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Worth is what you can sell it for, not what it costs

Winds of Change wonders about Iran building nuclear power plants

why an oil rich Islamic nation, known for nothing but the suppression and subjugation of its own peoples as well as the supporting and exporting international terrorism, needs nuclear energy for “generating electricity”?

Suppose for some reason that Iran could build and run nuclear power plants cheaply. Then it might well make sense to do so and sell the oil rather than using it internally. For some random numbers, suppose it cost $20M / year to extract and refine the oil for a gigawatt power plant. And suppose it cost $50M / year to run a gigawatt nuclear plant. So you’d use oil, right? But what if you could sell that same oil on the market for $100M / year?

This is just illustrative, however. I don’t believe that Iran is in this situation, because nuclear power is even more high tech than refining and as far as I know Iran isn’t well endowed with uranium ores. But it’s not a given that if nation A is rich in some resource that it a priori makes sense for A to use that resource itself instead of a substitute.

Posted by aog at 08:55 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Treating the symptoms

Orrin Judd notes that the recent beheading of Paul Johnson seems to have cost the Caliphascists some popular support. Judd asks

Imagine the contempt you have to have for your own religion to think that you’ll win the favor of the faithful by committing the sorts of acts al Qaeda does.

Perhaps. But in my view what’s going on is that popular opinion in Arabia leads directly to these kind of things, so that the people are both condemning and encouraging these horrors. I see that kind of thing in many places.

For instance, Europeans are apparently distressed and outraged at the decline and growing irrelevance of Europe. Yet the same population rises in revolt at the thought of changing any of the policies that lead directly to that result.

We see the same thing with refugees from California, fleeing its debased culture for a better life in more conservative areas, yet continuing the actions that destroyed the culture in California. Again, few like the results of their actions but yet few indeed will change their behaviour.

Because of this, fighting against the results is like pulling weeds. Some local manifestation can be killed, but the problem will show up again shortly because of the fertile environment. So I don’t consider the putative revulsion of the Saudi population at this latest outrage very significant.

Posted by aog at 08:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Surrender first, negotiate later

Via Spoons, we have James Lileks commenting on the fact that a large portion of the Left (even in the USA) will probably blame President Bush for any atrocity committed by the Caliphascists. Spoons concurs. However, they’re behind the times. Via Tim Blair we have columnists blaming President Bush for the murders of Nicholas Berg and Paul Johnson and wondering if the latter will be ” the horror that will finally undo George Bush’s presidency”.

Let’s think about that a bit. The basic thesis is that if the Caliphascists commit a sufficent number of murders and atrocities, then the Bush Administration will fall. Isn’t that what happened in Spain? Now the fact that the Madrid bombings toppled the existing government isn’t denied but in fact held up as a model? How is this anything other than abject surrender and a call for the Caliphascists to continue on their rampage until they win? One is, I think ,entitled to wonder how it is that when USA does nasty things (such as the abuse in Abu Ghraib) the question isn’t asked “will this be the horror that finally undoes Bin Laden’s leadership?”.

20 June 2004

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You can't always get what you need

When I read reports like this [via Jihad Watch] —

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Police cars and armored vehicles flooded the al-Malaz neighborhood in the Saudi capital Sunday as security forces surrounded a house where suspected militants were believed to have taken refuge after a shootout with police.

The massive operation was under way in the same district that was the focus of a huge security sweep against militants sought in the beheading of American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr., whose body has still not been found.

I wonder more about whether the House of Saud can crack down in a meaningful way on the Caliphascists. There’s certainly no reason to believe, a priori, that the Sauds haven’t waited too long to try to regain control. We know that the Saudi security organizations are heavily infiltrated (if not flat out controlled) by Caliphascists. The population is largely sympathetic to the Caliphascists or, at best, indifferent to the current rulers. In such a situation, is it actually possible for the House of Saud to win?

I’m reminded of the fall of many right wing dictators (Somoza, the Shah of Iran) where what did them in was their unwillingness to really got to the mat against the rebels. The rebels didn’t win militarily but by using violence to demoralize the rulers so that they surrendered / fled. Does the House of Saud have the stomach to engage in the dangerous business of suppression in a compromised state where the princes themselves are at risk? Given previous behaviour, that’s hardly a given. What will happen the first time the Caliphascists break security on some prince and do to him what was done to the Coalition contractors in Fallujah? Will the House of Saud pull together in a tough stance or panic and flee like chickens when the fox gets in the henhouse?

Even if we take the large assumption that the House of Saud is psychologically prepared for battle, one is left wondering if the tools at hand are adequate. At some point, if the security organizations are sufficiently penetrated, using them is actually good for the rebels (I think this is what Musharif is scared of finding out about Pakistan’s security). This kind of penetration could be overcome with popular support, but the House of Saud isn’t well capitalized in that department either.

I can’t say at this point that I’d be surpised to see the House of Saud go down from internal dissent / rebellion before Iran. As shaky as the Iranian mullahocracy is, they’ve shown far more ability and willingness to put the hammer down. I think we should start planning for what we’ll do when the House of Saud falls.

P.S. As I mentioned earlier, the Caliphascists will have a severe problem with oil production because they’ll have a hard time keeping it up but can’t afford to not produce, not to mention that they’ll want the money. It’s an open question whether the fall of the House of Saud will really make that much difference in the West, especially if Iraq is functional by then.

18 June 2004

Posted by aog at 22:49 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

One upping the cat bloggers

If catblogging is so great, I’ll try cute child and cat blogging. This is my backup boy, “Boy Two” and our primary cat, “Secant” (the backup cat is named “POset”). I’ve also noticed that Tightly Wound gets more comments on her boy posts than on the other ones so I figured I’d give it a try. I’m a bit burned out otherwise and don’t have much to say.

16 June 2004

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Moral narcissism

Ian Buruma writes [via Brothers Judd] that he is confused by Bernard Lewis’ position on the invasion of Iraq. Lewis is for it, which Buruma claims is inconsistent with Lewis’ other viewpoints. One point of Buruma’s critique struck me as the kind of moral narcissism that I find objectionable. Buruma writes

an invasion by foreign armies is not the ideal way to bring this [democracy] about

As I argued in the comments, it’s certainly true that invasion isn’t an ideal solution. Certainly we’d all prefer non-violent solutions. Yet we live in a fallen world where ideal solutions are rarely available. This is the juncture at which one has to make a choice - get one’s hand dirty while trying to do the best one can, or stand by in the presence of evil in order to maintain one’s one personal purity regardless of the cost to others?

Like the zero tolerance policies of modern American schools, the moral purity stance satisfies one’s desire to be morally superiour without the heavy lifting of making difficult moral choices.

I consider it narcissistic because it combines obliviousness of others with an overwhelming regard for one’s one moral beauty. It’s a typically academic disdain for those poor lesser beings who must toil in the sweat and dirt of reality, never to breathe the air of pure abstraction where consequences are defined away with a clever phrase or slogan. I just don’t agree that it’s better to chant deconstructionist theory at the darkness than to risk burning your hand with candle wax.

Posted by aog at 11:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Cause but no effect?

Via the Brothers Judd we have Larry Kramer writing about Ronald Reagan:

Our murderer is dead. The man who murdered more gay people than anyone in the entire history of the world, is dead. More people than Hitler even.

If Reagan murdered all those gay people, isn’t it odd that they didn’t stop dieing when Reagan left the office of the President, nor when Reagan himself died? In fact, the death rate is rising once again, despite the absence of Reagan. Is Reagan still responsible for those deaths? If not, who will Kramer find to blame now? Reagan’s ghost, who whispers in the ears of gays “random unprotected sex is not at all dangerous”?

It also reminds me of arguments I had back in those days where I was told that

  • AIDS is not a homosexual disease
  • Not supporting unlimited AIDS related funding is homophobic

I never did manage to reconcile those two points. Kramer, however, seems to dropped the first point, otherwise Reagan would have just been killing people, not gay people.

15 June 2004

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OK, one more time, from the top

According to Winds of Change,

Al Aqsa’s Martyrs Brigade is threatening to split off from Fatah, the party of Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, citing irreconcilable differences. Israel’s plan to fracture and isolate the Palestinian terror organizations is coming to fruition. Meanwhile, Israel’s crackdown on Palestinian ‘militants’ has so decimated the ranks of adults that children are being heavily recruited.

There have also been reports of recruiters seducing women and then using the threat of an honor killing to coerce the women in to becoming suicide bombers. As noted above, that doesn’t sound like the tactics of a movement overflowing with support and recruits. Perhaps the support for the PA / Hamas regimes is just like that in other Arab countries, a mile wide and an inch deep. One wonders how many Palestinians are secretly relieved by Israel’s security wall - “Well, yes, I support attacking the Israeli oppressors and of course my child would be happy to engage in operations but, well, the wall is in the way. So sorry!”

If the support for violence against Israel really is wearing out, it says something about the depth of “nationalist” fervor among the Palestinians. Think of a US metroplex with 5-6 million people (say, Dallas / Fort Worth). If it were occupied (by, say, Mexico) Would a few thousand casualties over twenty years destroy the will to resist there? That’s hard to imagine. Yet that seems to be what is happening in Palestine. In some ways that’s not too surprising, since “Palestine” was invented as a propaganda ploy and has been more of a talking point than an actual nationality ever since. One wonders how many lives, Palestinian and Israeli, would have been saved had Israel been as tough in the past as they are now. It reminds me of the Cold War, where accomodation lead to the perpetuation of misery while Reagan’s tough stance made things temporarily worse in exchange for a hopeful future. Will this pattern ever repeat itself enough for intellectuals to figure it out?

14 June 2004

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That's what happens when you make deals with that sort

Orrin Judd castigated those who weren’t appreciative of deal on judicial nominees whereby President Bush would stop making recess appointments and the Democratic Party would approve 25 of his nominees.

Now, however, the deal is falling apart [via Pejman]

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is once again blocking action on dozens of President Bush’s nominees for executive branch posts until the Senate approves the nomination of one of Reid’s aides for a seat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

I can’t see this as much of a surprise, myself.

13 June 2004

Posted by aog at 20:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Not counting the cost

Over at Harry’s place is a post about how the doctor who operated on Reagan after he was shot was helped out by tuition loans and federal research money.

This is a common refrain, that if a government program has any benefits then it’s obviously worthwhile, regardless of cost and only the truly despicable would oppose them. I wonder sometimes why this doesn’t apply to private iniatives, such as school vouchers. If I can find one example of some child’s life which was saved because of school vouchers, does that consitute devasting evidence against the supporters of public education? I think we all know the answer to that.

It seems to be a phenomenon where only benefits are counted and costs are ignored if it’s done by the government (because government programs that do “good” things by definition never do anything bad?). There’s no consideration of the concept of cost to benefit ratios. That’s apparently “heartless” but one truly wants to improve the human condition such considerations are very important. There are always limits to resources and tradeoffs. To pretend there are not is delusional and that’s never a useful paradigm for deciding on actions.

It all reminds of the efforts of Björn Lomborg who is accused of being an anti-environmentalist because he claims that we should spend resources on the environment effeciently rather than with no regard to cost1. To oppose a particular program or effort isn’t to deny that some good might come from it. But I still think it’s reasonable to wonder if the overall results are positive and even if they are, is that the best way to spend resources? It’s a rare government program that gets past that barrier.

1 Yes, I know that many “environmental” initatives are counter productive, even when viewed from an environmentalist perspective, but one can say the same thing about many poverty relief programs.

11 June 2004

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But you told us it was a war zone!

Orrin Judd comments

Notice how quickly Abu Ghraib became a non-issue once the Democrats and the media realized most Americans approved heartily.

I don’t think I’d go with “heartily approve”, but it certainly didn’t seem like much of a tragedy to the American citizenry. There’s a big whiff of being hoisted by one’s own petard here, though. Americans tend to have very different ideas about what’s acceptable in war zones vs. peace. I suspect that much of the unconcern about the abuse at Abu Ghraib is because Iraq is percieved by the American citizenry as a lawless war zone, in which case Abu Ghraib is part and parcel of the ugliness of war. Why do Americans view Iraq that way? Because of the relentless drum beat of bad news by Big Media, the same gang who tried to pump up the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

It shows something about the mental universe Big Media inhabits these days that they can portray Iraq in that manner yet still expect Americans to react to events there as if Iraq were a garden of peace and prosperity.

10 June 2004

Posted by aog at 20:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

In memoriam

Ronald Reagan’s greatest political act was the willingness to say in public that the USSR was an unnecessary evil. Far too many missed one or both of these properties.

Posted by aog at 12:12 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Invasion shift

Via Winds of Change is the news that John Keegan has a new book about the invasion of Iraq. Among the issues he brings up, the one that intrigued me is his claim that

the military theory holding that defenders will aggressively resist invasion only applies, without modification, to the western developed nations that originally shaped the theory.

That’s a rather provactive claim. I think it applies to Iraq because most of the population either likes the Coalition forces or just grumbles about them. The insurgents seem (IMHO) far more concerned abou their personal/factional power than about the invaders themselves. The insurgents use the language of invasion but as we can see, this has failed to resonate with the Iraqi people, especially compared to the Iran-Iraq war.

Perhaps the Westphalian Order is failing in more than one way. Before the rise of modern nation states, the peasantry didn’t get too concerned about which partciular ruler was in charge, as it made little difference in their lives. The best option was to just lay low and hope the soldiers didn’t come through your village. The concept of total war as the standard form of war is a relatively modern concept. It may be that it’s a concept that didn’t really catch on outside of the West because the rulers (from the peasant point of view) are still mostly indistinguishable brutal, corrupt thugs. One of the effects of this is the relatively small armies that change governments in Africa.

There are a few of modern twists to this, so it’s not quite forward to the past:

  • The invaders might well be percieved as being superior to the current, local government.
  • The invasion may be seen as transitory and therefore pointless to resist.
  • Rather than looting, the invaders will be expected to compensate the invaded.

What kind of international order will emerge from these changes is yet to be seen.

09 June 2004

Posted by aog at 14:58 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Deadly times in the Saudi Entity

USA defense contracting firm Vinnell has stated that they are not immediately considering withdrawing their staff after one of their employees was killed by Caliphascists in Riyadh on Tuesday. The employee was apparently stalked from a clinic to his house, at which point the gunmen opened fire.

This is not a good sign for the House of Saud. The report mentions the possibility of additional security from the Saudi Entity, but it’s not clear whether that would actually reduce the danger given the high level of infiltration of the Saudi security apparatus by the Caliphascists. It would certainly be better to bring in Western security forces, but I don’t see the Saudi Entity allowing that unless they are truly desperate. Moreover, would it really help? One would have to turn the areas in Westerners stay in to armed camps1, protected by non-local security. Imagine the impact of that on public support for the House of Saud.

This problem is course amusing, in an ironic way. Why are the westerners there? Because the locals aren’t capable of actually operating the oil industry. Why is that? Initially because the locals were desert nomands and herders, but it’s been a couple of generations since then. Other countries in similar circumstances (such as India or Japan) rapidly acquired the requisite expertise locally. In my view, one of the primary reasons for the lack of native expertise is the educational system, which is basically run by the same people who hate having the Westerners around. I’m sure this isn’t lost on those people, but they face the nasty fact that the oil money is a lot more popular than they are.

The anti-Western forces in the Saudi Entity must also grapple with the fact that creating a technically competent workforce would greatly erode their power, if not outright end it. I sometimes wonder why they haven’t arranged to destroy the oil industry infrastructure while finding a way to blame it on the West. That would seem to be the best long term strategy, unless the Caliphascists also plan to depend on the oil revenue to spread their ideology. As said in Dune, “he who can destroy a thing controls the thing”, but so far the Caliphascists seem unable to bring themselves to destroy the oil.

1 I had thought that such areas already were armed camps, but if gunmen can just drive in and open fire, they’re not even as secure as a gated community in the USA.

Posted by aog at 13:07 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Gestures over results

I still read, now and then, calls to nationalize Iraq’s oil industry. Usually this is suggested in a “just because” way on the basis that the USA is mostly free market, the USA is evil, therefore nationalized industries are good. Others make odd claims that nationalizing the industry would help pay to rebuild Iraq, presumably because the only way for a government to get money out of an industry is to own it.

What I find strange is that, as far I know, no examples of a country benefitting economically from nationalizing their oil industry. Yet this is no deterrent, it being more important to “determine the economic direction of a country democratically” than to benefit from the oil resources. Of course, “democratically determine” is short hand for “hand control to a self-selected elite”. It’s a good job if you can be one of the government oil ministers, but it’s not clear how it helps the citizenry. I guess they get to feel politically empowered instead.

08 June 2004

Posted by aog at 09:52 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Broken in the Ba'ath tub

Gary Farber echoes a common refrain with regard to Iraq

We broke it, it’s our moral obligation to do what we can — and with as light a footstep as we can manage, and (within limits and redlines) following the wishes of the Iraqi people — as best we can, to fix it, and that’s our primary mandate, not to simply say “sorry,” and leave.

This is just flat out wrong. Iraq was broken long before the Coalition troops showed up. At this point, Iraq is in better shape than it has been in over a decade. I’m sure there will be a chorus of “what about the violence?”, but the fact remains that fewer Iraqis are dieing from violence now than before the invasion. But somehow, for far too many people, it’s not really death and violence if it’s sanctioned by a politically correct government.

07 June 2004

Posted by aog at 15:11 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

NASA - not even in the running

I was talking to BBB today about the historic flight planned for 21 June, when the private flight in to space is scheduled to occur. This will not be an Ansari X Prize attempt — presumably that will be later.

What is interesting, as BBB pointed out, is that NASA couldn’t win the prize even if they were a private organization. To win, the space ship must fly twice in a two week period. What vehicle that NASA has ever built can do that? Certainly not the Space Shuttle! Maybe the X-15, although it doesn’t seem likely (average turnaround time between flights: 44 days). So NASA, after decades of work and hundred of billions of dollars, is still unable to compete with the variety of private organizations operating on a shoe string. At what point should this failure be accepted?

06 June 2004

Posted by aog at 09:31 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Bush on ballot in Illinois?

Apparently Kausfiles and the Brothers Judd has noticed the issue with President Bush getting on the ballot in Illinois for this election, even though it was an issue back in November.

I’m of a slightly different mind on this these days. While I don’t see any chance that Bush will carry Illinois, there is the issue of forcing the Kerry campaign to spend money here. The date was set long ago, certainly when the RNC was setting the convention dates.

One might argue the contrary case by noting that the Democratic Party seems fine with rewriting election law (Florida 2000, Toricelli/New Jersey, Carnahan/Missouri, Mondale/Minnesota) but I’m not sure that the Republic is well served by having the Republicans do so as well. It would be funny, though, to get those who argued the “fairness” and “choice” side in those elections to declare why Bush shouldn’t be on the Illinois ballot.

No matter how it turns out, though, I’m willing to bet I’ll be amused.

05 June 2004

Posted by aog at 09:43 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Leading by contrast

There’s been some hand wringing about the alledged imposition of Shari’a law in Fallujah. Personally I see it as a feature, not a bug. Via this chain we have a letter from a Marine about the situation. It’s worth reading, but the summary is that that insurgents in Fallujah turn out to be, as expected, thugs who abuse and terrorize the locals.

Why is this a feature? Because the real battle is political, not military. While Reagan’s strength during the Cold War was a key feature in our victory, the weakness and brutality of the Soviet Empire was just as big a factor (this is a favorite meme of Orrin Judd). The one thing that such regimes cannot tolerate is counter examples to the poverty and oppression they provide. Yet that’s exactly what’s going on in and around Fallujah. Where the Marines are, there is growing prosperity and safety. Where the Marines aren’t is poverty and abuse. I expect the Iraqis, even the Sunnis, to draw the right conclusions from this.

Posted by aog at 09:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (1)Ping URL

Sympathy is only for the crippled

It’s just astounding to me the level of repitition of the canard that President Bush squandered the world wide sympathy that came from the attacks in 11 Sep 2001. While that’s technically true, what’s left unsaid is that the only way to not have squandered it was to stay a wounded, ineffectual nation. Nations that fight back, that take action don’t get sympathy. Shakespeare had Hamlet express this exact thought:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?

The sympathy of the world (and especially the EUlite) is for those who suffer. That’s “squandered” as soon as one takes arms. In the choice between being a fallen nation viewed sympathetically or a butt-kicking world-striding colossus, give me the latter every time.

P.S. This is the same reason why Israel doesn’t get any sympathy for the attacks on it - Israel fights backs.

04 June 2004

Posted by aog at 07:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Hatred by enemies is usually a good endorsement

Spoons has a post I’ve been meaning to address about why it is in the interests of conservatism to vote against President Bush in the next election. While this would clearly be bad in the short term, conservatives by their nature should be taking a long term view and Spoons’ opinion (grossly summarized) is that a defeat of Bush will cause the Republican Party to become more conservative by discrediting the “triangulating” concept.

I disagree for a number of reasons, but I’ll just highlight one here that I haven’t seen raised in the comments.

This view hinges on Spoons’ point #5 — “The Democrat Party is irrevocably the party of liberalism”. On the contrary, I think it’s quite possible that another four years of President Bush and the resultant Bush hatred might well splinter the Democratic Party and discredit many of their ideological allies. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first four years have seen the Democratic Party openly resorting to pure power politics with their current “electable” candidate, nor the rapid decline of public opinion of Big Media. Why has the New York Times gone from the “paper of record” to just another partisan rag in much of the public’s opinion? Because of mistakes caused in no small part by Bush hatred. The kind of open frothing at the mouth and the clear anti-American bias that’s becoming obvious in the fight against Bush is one of the best things to happen to liberalism this century (from a conservative’s point of view). I want more of that, so I’ll be voting for Bush this fall.

Posted by aog at 07:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Nanny imperialism

Orrin Judd cites an article that expresses concern about the willingness of the Coalition to force the Iraqis to shoulder the burden of controlling Iraq. In particular, the article claims that Iraqi forces can opt out of an operation, and that this was confirmed by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Judd comments

Conservatives understand how reliance on the state makes citizens dependent, why keep a whole other nation dependent on us?

I have to admit, I hadn’t thought of the State Department trying to deliberately foster dependency in Iraq in order to maintain control, but I should have. It would certainly create a more stable situation (always the goal of the State Department) while creating important posts for State Department employees in Iraq. This is, of course, yet another point in favor of rapid turnover of soveriegnity in Iraq.

While it seems a bit contradictory that the State Department, ideological ally of the anti-American crowd, would try to engage in this kind of nanny imperialism, it’s actually in line with the standard Leftist belief that people need to be controlled by government in order to live well. One need only look at the welfare system in this country to see that in action. Surely we can spare Iraq a similar fate.

03 June 2004

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Mojave Control, we are go

Scaled Composites is planning on making history on the Solstice with the first private manned space flight. Godspeed, boys.

Posted by aog at 22:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Depressing thought of the day

There was a segment on NPR recently that was discussing the failed families in some large city (Los Angeles, I think). One of the issues was custody battles between parents and grandparents. There are a lot of kids being raised by grandparents because the parents are simply incapable of raising children. However, the one thing I wondered about was, didn’t that mean that the grandparents had failed in raising their children, the dysfunctional parents? Why won’t the next generation turn out just as dysfunctional as their parents, since they’re being raised by the same people? On the other hand, perhaps since the results of what went before are so clear the same mistakes won’t be made.

Posted by aog at 15:27 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Like anyone pays attention to Senate votes!

The US Senate recently voted on funding for Project Bioshield which would attempt to prepare the USA to defend itself against biological attacks. Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry was telling people that the USA was not sufficiently prepared to deal with biological attack.

The vote in the Senate was 99-1 for funding Project Bioshield. The lone dissenting vote was — Senator John Kerry.

Via California Yankee via Orrin Judd.

Posted by aog at 15:21 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Being superficial

Senator John Kerry has settled on a campaign slogan - “Let America be America” which is a line from a poem written by a communist poet. The poem itself is a rant against the USA but I’ll give Kerry the benefit of the doubt and presume that he didn’t read it far enough to figure that out. He’s also picked “Beautiful Day” by U2 as a theme song. This contains such appropriate lyrics as

You’re out of luck
and the reason that you had to care
The traffic is stuck
And you’re not moving anywhere


You’re on the road
But you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud
In the maze of her imagination

Yeah, that’s the kind of message I would want for my political campaign.

02 June 2004

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Changed threats mean changed responses

I saw a couple of things today that tie in to my theme of ‘peace crimes’.

First, via Best of the Web, we have Thomas Friedman

I believe that history will judge George Bush 41, Mikhail Gorbachev, Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, Helmut Kohl, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand very kindly for the way they collectively took the Soviet Empire, which was tilted in the wrong direction for so long, and tilted it in the right direction, with barely a shot fired. That was one of the great achievements of the 20th century.

Best of the Web rightly mocks Friedman for somehow forgetting about Ronald Reagan’s small contribution to defeating the USSR. However, I would mock (as I recently did) the idea that the Cold War was won “with barely a shot fired”. How can Friedman write that when tens of millions of people died violently as part of that struggle? Oh, right — they were just wogs, not real people. That’s a typical attitude at the New York Times.

Secondly, via Random Jottings, we have Resplendent Mango writing

If there was one thing I could drill into the heads of the loony leftists (pointy things not withstanding) it would be the fact that we are not necessarily at peace just because we’re not at war. Nor is that faux-peace necessarily better than war.

I certainly agree with that.

Ed over at Captain’s Quarters calculates the number of children dying yearly in Iraq was 50,000. 12 years times 50,000 kids a year is 600,000. Children. And then there were the adults, like the 300,000 Shia who were killed after Gulf War I. Or the conscripts who were forced to fight and die in Saddam’s wars against Iran and Kuwait. Or the people that he killed for their beliefs, race, or no reason at all. And that was WINNING?

It was winning for the side of “stability uber alles” and that corrupt gang of thieves organized by the UN. It is still amazing that casualty counts like that are airily dismissed because they weren’t caused during an official war.

Perhaps it’s the traces of the Westphalian Order where war between states is the ultimate evil and any level of internal oppression is OK as long as there isn’t fighting between states. This seems to be the stance of the EUlite and the thugs who’ve managed to gain control of various failed states. However, the End of History shows that liberal democracies (self-ordered societies) are an effective solution to preventing inter-state violence, leaving intra-state violence as the primary threat to the world order. This is the revolutionary change that President Bush is pursuing. He may not be pursuing it well, but as any strategist will tell you, better a half-baked solution now than a perfect solution too late.

01 June 2004

Posted by aog at 20:09 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Driving the future

Drive through grocery with customer
I saw this on a recent trip to Texas and I thought “I love America”. It’s a drive through convenience store. You drive in, tell the proprietor what you want, pay and drive off. I didn’t have a chance to sample the wares myself (I was so rushed that I had to send She Who Is Perfect In All Ways off to actually take the picture).

This is the future. Drive in or get run over.

Posted by aog at 17:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Not seeing with one's own eyes

What bugs me in modern entertainment is the bogus representation of vision through compound eyes. It’s always as a mosaic of individual images. Just now Cartoon Network had one of their “Miguzi” filler spots where the vision of the 5-eyed creature was a mosaic of five images. But in reality the multiple images would be combined either in the optical nerves or during optical processing in the brain. I mean, how many people with two eyes see the world as a mosaic of two distinct images? Anyone? This isn’t an obscure observation, it’s right there in front of one’s face every day. For people who have mastered the art of navel gazing, this seems a bit strange of an oversight.

On the other hand, this might well be the key evidence we need to prove that all Hollywood animators / writers are in fact slugoids from the planet Itznan.

Posted by aog at 12:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Faking never helps

Jesse Walker is complaining about the Boston Herald modifying a Gore quote. The newspaper said

How dare Gore say that Americans have an “innate vulnerability to temptation…to use power to abuse others.” And that our own “internal system of checks and balances cannot be relied upon” to curb such abuse.

While techincally accurate, both in meaning and quote (so it’s not Dowdification) it’s still misleading. Gore’s actual statement was

Our founders were insightful students of human nature. They feared the abuse of power because they understood that every human being has not only “better angels” in his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to temptation — especially the temptation to abuse power over others.

Our founders understood full well that a system of checks and balances is needed in our constitution because every human being lives with an internal system of checks and balances that cannot be relied upon to produce virtue if they are allowed to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow citizens.

This is of course exactly what I believe as well. Note that it was the Boston Herald, not Gore, who singled out Americans as having these innate vulnerablities.

Given all the other issues with Gore, there’s no need to be manufacturing quotes. That’s wrong, regardless of who does it.

Gore’s statement in this regard would be a tad bit more believable, though, if he and his political allies hadn’t spent the last few decades attempting “to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow citizens”.

Posted by aog at 09:06 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

We'll see in November

While reading a post about politics during WWII I began to gain an understanding of the non-moonbat. While there were occasional mentions of grand strategy, the essence of the anti-war argument was that President Bush brought the nation to war in Iraq via fraudulent means. This makes sense for libertarians, who have always strongly valued the rule of law. The reason why progressives / leftists, having spent decades undermining the rule of law, would take that tack other than via complete cynicism still eludes me.

However, the alledged “lies” are, as far as I can tell, the standard sort of exagerations that politicians make. Every single law that passed has its supply of legislators who “are certain” that the law will have a precisely defined and designed set of effects, even though that has never been true. If Rumsfeld said that he “was certain” there were WMD in Iraq, I believe him. But why libertarians, who should always be suspicious of government, would take this as a statement about WMDs in Iraq instead of one about Rumsfeld’s mental state escapes me.

The deeper question is why these statements by the Bush adminstration are so different than than the other lies politicians tell. The “Bush lied” meme is reasonable on the surface because the correct response to political lies is protest and punishment at the ballot box. Yet the gratuitous ad hominem attacks that so frequently accompany it and the overall weakness of the argument makes me suspicious. It strikes me as a bit of rules lawyering, where one argues rules with an ulterior motive. Or perhaps the “if you don’t have the facts, argue the law” strategy.

However, I don’t think that Bush’s “lies” were really lies and even if they were, they don’t threaten the rule of law at all (the Congressional authorization for invading Iraq is a sore point for the “Bush lied!” crowd). We’ll see in November which side the voters are on.