THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 390 November 28 - December 4, 2005
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November 28, 2005
Still recovering from the holidays. I have done some scenes for a new novel, a story that takes place about 60 years from now when there are asteroid colonies. It wasn't what I expected to work on but the story keeps inserting itself in my head.
There is new evidence in the global warming issue, to wit, ice cores; I am still digesting this. More when I understand it.
I do beg indulgence. I have had a blazing headache and stopped up sinuses all day. EVen the nose pump has given only indifferent relief. I hope to be back to normal soon.
|This week:||Tuesday, November
Going for my walk. Later more on the copyright discussion including a dissent from Talin's essay; and some thoughts on the upcoming Oscars and weblogs.
Thanks to all who recently subscribed. There have been so many I have got behind in acknowledgments. Caught up with some of them last night but there are many more to go. Thanks again.
And some encouraging trends, just to counter a lot of the bad news.
For an interesting proposal on what to do about the Jihad, see http://www.cordonmecca.org
And there is much on copyright over in mail.
From the New York Post on line:
*HOW TO LOSE A WAR *
Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can't win the game if you walk off the field at half-time. That's precisely what the Democratic Party wants America to do in Iraq. Forget the fact that we've made remarkable progress under daunting conditions: The Dems are looking to throw the game just to embarrass the Bush administration.
Forget about the consequences. Disregard the immediate encouragement to the terrorists and insurgents to keep killing every American soldier they can. Ignore what would happen in Iraq - and the region - if we bail out. And don't mention how a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower, the champ who knocked out Uncle Sam in the third round. <snip>
I had a printer problem for doing CD labels, but I will solve it by designing labels and having them done. Silly to go to a lot of work doing it myself. If anyone knows a reliable source of CD label printing, preferably one that will take .std files from SureThing disk label program, I'd appreciate that information.
November 30, 2005
Today we will take up the Iraqi issue.
I urge you all to read:
Martin Creveld's take on the Iraq war:
One quote: "the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C. sent his legions into Germany and lost them"
It is a foolish article with some wise points; I am tempted to say Martin van Creveld has lost his mind, which is a shame because it was a great mind. Creveld has never understood unconventional warfare; his book proves that. But surely he understands that the withdrawal from Viet Nam was predicated on US intervention when the South was invaded by armored divisions from the north? That happened in 1972, and with US materiel and air support assistance an armored army of several divisions with more armor and truck transport than the Wehrmacht used in Russian operations was utterly defeated, yea destroyed -- at a cost of a few hundred American casualties.
Viet Nam fell, not because we turned over operations to the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN), but because the Democratic Congress in 1975 smelled blood in the water and turned on Nixon and all his works; by denying ARVN support in 1975 in the face of a Russian supplied armored army as large as the one lost in 1972, the Democrats assured North Viet Nam of victory, and we got the shameful scenes of the helicopters leaving Saigon. Democrats can all be proud of that: it was their war from Kennedy through Johnson, and their loss in 1975 when they voted the ARVN 20 cartridges and 2 grenades per man with no US air support -- to face a Russian supplied armored army. Was it that they could not stand to see that Nixon had done what Johnson could not do? For whatever reason, had the US responded in 1975 as we did in 1972, Saigon would still be Saigon, not Ho Chi Minh City. And the Boat People would not have begun their tragic voyages. So it goes.
Viet Nam was not a triumph of insurgency. There were no insurgents in 1975. Viet Nam fell to an armored invasion from the North.
Iraq is not a similar situation. In Iraq we have perhaps 10% of the population, almost all Sunni, who long for restoration to the power they have held for generations, first through the Turks, then the British, and then through the Baathists. (I say 10% although of course the Sunni population is a much larger percentage; it is a pure guess as to how many of that minority population actively support insurgency against the US.) They are insurgents and they are doing what they can to drive the Americans out in hopes that they will then be able to take power from the 60% and more of the Iraqi population who sees them as former oppressors and wants to kill them.
There are also opportunists from other lands who have come to Iraq because it is easier to kill Americans there than to creep into the United States and do it here. If you get a suicide recruit you must use him fairly quickly lest he come to his senses. And, finally, there are Shiites who wish the US out of their land and support attacks on us because we are there and are seen as occupiers much as Israel is seen as occupier of Judea and Samaria.
One may make guesses as to the total insurgent population, and of those, how many will continue the insurgency against local Iraqi authorities once we hold an election, declare victory, hand over control to the new parliament, and withdraw. We may not withdraw farther than Kuwait, at least with much of the heavy equipment. Whatever we do, I do not expect to take many casualties doing it. Creveld is dead wrong there. Clearly if we suddenly begin to run there will be a pursuit; but a strategic withdrawal with adequate combat forces remaining until all the support troops are out should not be difficult. It is not as if there were an organized force to oppose us. We don't have napalm any more, but we have other means of controlling crowds making a mad rush at the guns.
Iraq is not a nation. It is three provinces of the Ottoman Empire tacked together to make a kingdom for the Sunni Hashemites who, having been deprived of their historic role as Protectors of Mecca, needed something to rule. That worked in Jordan for the younger brother. It didn't work in Iraq.
The Kurds want out but they want some oil. The small Assyrian minority just wants some peace and quiet having been victims for a long time. The people of the south want their marshes back, and having been betrayed by Bush First don't trust us.
That is reality.
The question now is what to do; but Creveld's scenario makes no sense.
For those who asked: Martin van Creveld is a distinguished military historian who has written several valuable books. He is a professor in Jerusalem, I believe at Hebrew university. Those familiar with my works may recall I have quoted him often.
December 1, 2005
This is an exchange of views that has been going on for several years. Let me establish who the primary source is, but understand that sometimes there will be views from others still in active service who do not care to be identified in any way, so I may change some times and places and titles. This will be rather long.
My principal correspondent who has given permission to be identified is:
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 8:46 AM
I've returned from duty in Iraq. I'd like to be reinstated to you mailing list. I'm sure my "subscription fee" has lapsed, I'll take care of that directly. Visited your website today... I must say that we disagree. The paradigm WILL change in the middle east (though we can still lose there). Here are some links on articles done on my Marines while we were in Iraq:
Check out my homepage at
who, you will see, certainly has primary observations. We have been in correspondence for a long time, but for this exchange let us begin about 2 years ago in November, 2003:
"Tell us more!"
You got questions? I got answers.
Here's something that needs to be emphasized. The leaders and media of the western world continually refer to 'mujahadeen' (holy warriors) and 'jihad' (holy war) in their references to Islamic terrorists. By the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (Allah bless he and his progeny) and Islamic law, the terrorists should properly be called 'mufsidoon' (evildoers) who engage in al-Hiraba (unholy war against society - that which destroys, rather than supports, betterment of humanity). These words make considerable difference when speaking to and of Muslims. The connotations of all are extremely important. Can you imagine trying to recruit a young Muslim for a suicide murder mission if he is going to be participating in al-Hiraba and thus condemned to 'jahanam' (hell)?
I routinely espoused the concepts of 'musfidoon' and 'hiraba' to the people and leaders in my province in Iraq - they began to use the words! This even spilled into some of the rhetoric of people from other provinces! In an August speech, President Bush used the term 'evildoers.' We must continue to use the proper words of Islam to describe the despicable acts committed by those who pervert the teachings of the Prophet (Allah bless he and his progeny).
Continue with a letter from me to him:
I see Newt Gingrich is saying that we ought to give the local Iraqis more authority. Considering that we have arrested without charges most of the Sunni leaders elected to their city council, and hold them without informing them of the charges against them, or who has accused them (the local Chief of Police is a holdover from Saddam installed by the US forces; wonder of wonders; could one of the Baathists have denounced people they used to jail without charges and torture? Aw, never!) -- considering that we treat the Iraqis like subjects, and jail anyone who tries to govern, perhaps Newt is on to something there.
I'm appalled! Seems that you're making observations based upon one 8 minute segment from 60 Minutes! On the local police chief, the arrested councilman, etc - I KNOW there is more to the story than presented. Could the quoted expatriate have his own agenda? My experience tells me, yes.
"...jail anyone who tries to govern." Who has the authority to set up local governments? Do we allow the Baathists to re-establish? Part of government (one that we want to establish, anyway) is a system of justice and inclusion. All the people should have a voice. Already, clerics, Islamic Parties, and others have tried to establish shadow governments for their own purposes. These have no legitimacy by any democratic means.
I'll have another essay on Iraq shortly but my prescription continues to stand:
1. Local governments with real authority and a share of any oil revenue, and some financing.
2. National authority including allocation of oil revenues reserved for the US occupation force (else the locals will fight over the revenue).
3. Pay the former Iraqi army (purged of known Baathist enthusiasts) but dock their pay in any district in which there is an attack on US forces.
Former army personnel (excluding Saddams 'security forces', ie secret police) are currently being paid salaries without being required to muster. If you don't arm them and give them police authority, how can you hold them responsible for attacks on US forces? Oh, they should turn in the culprits to the US Forces? Well, you've already made the case about Baathists denouncing those they've used to torture... The amount of people NOW bearing false witness in that country is enough to drive you nuts - not to mention the number of people giving you bogus information on WMD, location of Saddam, terrorists, etc in hopes of monetary reward. The intelligence services are now stretched to the limit in sorting the 'wheat from the chaff'.
4. Get courts working so final determination of who owns what can be made, signed, sealed, and delivered. An Act of Settlement that restores rule of law; in this case law is more important than "justice". The Act can provide for compensation for those who can show the Settlement was unfair but the compensation comes from national revenue, not from those who benefited by the settlement. It is important the RULE OF LAW be established and quickly at all local levels.
This needs to be done immediately. Unfortunately, the CPA is shunting this off to the new Iraqi Government (the current ruling council seems to be stalling this until an elected government is in place).
Subject: RE: Iraq
They certainly did jail everyone who tried to govern for weeks there. They called them warlords
I know that I arrested a number of people or deposed them from self-established positions. These people were thugs and criminals. Some had tribal ties, some not. Some were Baathists reasserting their power. None were popularly elected and all were exclusive in rule and ruthless in power. Never used the term 'warlord' in Iraq and never heard it used by ORHA/CPA or military leaders.
Who has the authority to set up local governments? I know who has the power.
I, and the Iraqis, assume that the CPA has the authority to set up local governments. Why is this? Amb Bremer decreed in June that there would be NO elections until a national government is established. Of course, I set up local councils (appointed) and provided as much leeway as possible, but they didn't have the power to establish laws. They did make recommendations and provide oversight on government services. This authority came from force of arms initially. Now it comes from control of funds. [Emphasis in original]
And we saw on camera the general in charge of the prison lie through her teeth. First it takes only 72 hours to process a prisoner, then they have the right to visitors. We don't have anyone like you describe.
LOL. They were talking to a General! You want to know how much she is filtered from real information by her staff? I'd wager she was just ill-informed. You must certainly realize that the Army is as big a bureaucracy as anything conceived. Don't get me wrong - that doesn't excuse her not knowing, nor the lapse in stated policy (intentional or unintentional).
Only they did and he had been there for a month. I don't need more than an 8 minute segment to see what is happening
What's happening is incompetence. I know I had several Iraqis released that the jailers didn't even know they had! One of the problems is a western inability to recognize the difference in naming conventions and arabic/english spellings of names. Even non-Iraqi (middle-eastern) interpreters had problems with this.
To which I can only remind us all of Napoleon Bonaparte: "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence," and Clausewitz: "In war, everything is very simple, but the simplest things are very difficult."
* * *
All of the above is by way of a reminder; it was all published here some time ago. We pass now to the present. Couv sent this to his mailing list on November 29, 2005:
WOW! And Ralph Peters has not been a fan of the war in Iraq...
New York Post Online Edition
I replied to his mailing list and to selected others in the region:
I have never been a fan of involvement in the
Middle East, and I don't think we ought to be there. But of course this
piece is right. We are there, constitutionally, and against my advice. The
commander in chief with consent of the Congress thought different.
And received answers, which are reconstructed from responses by serving officers who do not care to be named, some not on Couv's original mailing list. I have edited this to insure anonymity, and I have thoroughly scrubbed the original files so you will have to take my word for it that they once existed.
Simple sir. If the "10%" you allude to would just wear uniforms and fight like conventional soldiers, it'd be easy. There's nothing simple here. We have attacks on infrastructure daily - electrical, power, water; it's impossible to guard every mile of pipeline or cable. It's impossible to protect every school, marketplace or town hall. We do a lot, we're stretched extremely thin. There are complaints from everyone here (State, UN, etc.) that we don't provide them enough security. They do get blown up once in a while so I sympathize with them. It takes about 25% of the force to guard the other 75% - these folks have to have a base to return to, someone's got to protect the chow hall, barracks, etc. 25% isn't a very high ratio either.
There's no 'victory' here -- One thing the President did get right was the "mission accomplished" bit -- the conventional army of Iraq was easy to defeat. No problem. The problem was there never was a plan to hold/rebuild/democratize Iraq. Bush and his minions got sold a bill of goods from a group of pseudo-intellectual fantasizing Iraqi ex-pats. Nobody in the military with any experience believed that crap, wishful thinking of Bush's part because it meant a quick, clean war and hasty retreat. Iraq was a mess under the Ottomans, the Brits created it out of three distinctly different regions that had never, ever been joined administratively, militarily or in any other fashion. It's been held together by sword and gunpoint since 1919. The "victory" here is we turn over ground combat operations to the "Iraqi Government" when duly elected in 15 days (government will seat in the Spring) and get the heck out - and offer the same security assistance we offer to other countries of interest, like Yemen, Ethiopia, etc. That's victory in this context.
There were other letters, but these are representative. We are winning, despite the lack of planning at the beginning. If there is an underlying theme of pride in the military and contempt for the incompetence of the planners, that is understandable, and in my judgment more than justified.
I replied in part:
All of which was known before we got conned into
the war, or should have been known. The "analysts" at DOD did less research
on this $300 billion operation before we began it than I typically do before
I buy a new car. Chalabi the Thief sold them his bill of goods but they
didn't have to buy it. I told a lot of them so at the time, but they don't
listen to old Reagan men.
Couv also replied to my question about needing so many troops to protect 60% from 10%:
Because, generally, we nor they are accepting of ANY casualties from security breakdown. Besides, the ratio of support troops to actual fighters/protectors is above 50-1.
Want to elaborate on that?
One thing I disagree with my friends about is the the fragmentation of the Iraq. I was, and still am, amazed at he identity of Iraq worn my the average Iraqi. They identify with the country of Iraq and consider themselves Iraqis (among all the other affiliations - tribes, religion, clan, etc). In fact, I found most to be PROUD of Iraq and their history of the region. More than once I heard about the great Iraqi - Nebuchadnezzar! Remember the near revolution we almost started when we tried to change the Iraqi flag in 2003? The average Iraqi wouldn't stand for it.
I'm sure I've told you this before - a key point we continue to miss or take advantage of is the historical animosity between Persian and Arab. The Iraqis (Arabs and Kurds) detest the Persians. Though the Iraqi Arabs and Kurds have their own animosities, they also realize that their cooperation against the Persians is in their own individual survival. A common enemy makes great friends. Furthermore, the other Arabs in the region (Saudi, Kuwati, Jordanian, Egyptian - even the Syrians and non-arab Turks) have a vested interest in maintaining the entity of a cohesive Iraq to counter Iranian hegemony.
I do point out that $300 billion is a lot of money, and it all comes from the American middle class. They need to be told what they are getting for that money.
I make no secret of saying that for $300 billion I could have built technological means for making us pretty nearly independent of foreign oil. Is there any damn reason except for oil that we ought to be interested in the Middle East?
A good navy and border guards seem to me more relevant in stopping them from getting to us. What have I got wrong?
You mean other than the traditional East vs West/Muslim vs Christian civilizations struggle? The islamo-terrorist waging of this conflict is a direct extension of that.
Sure. For the time being. What happens 100 (submit your own future) years from now when Europe has fallen to the Jihad and they now threaten us across the pond?
Besides, under the current form of warfare we remain vulnerable to attack (but not conquest) regardless of the strength of our navy and border efforts (that doesn't mean we should IGNORE these issues).
However, I agree with you on the investment in alternate energy sources.
Cultural weapons of mass destruction.
Radios, iPods, rock music, blue jeans. The Islamic base is fading fast. Sure, it turns into slackers, but if they are not HERE and thus not OUR slackers, they are no threat to US.
Build nuclear power plants (100 at 100 megawatts each = approximately $100 billion)
Build solar satellites for export of power to friends.
Invest in fuel cell technology to make transportation electric rather than oil based. Inefficient sure but not in terms of $300 billion costs of conquest.
Tell the Arabs to drink their oil, and keep them out of the US. Let them reconquista Spain and France. By the time they succeed the Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction will have made slackers of their children.
Have you any objection to my publishing this exchange? I'll clean it up; I have no desire to make you look bad.
Thursday, December 01, 2005 10:54
Me look bad? YOU look bad! LMAO!
> Cultural weapons of mass destruction.
BINGO! This is the key. I've said before we should have given every Iraqi a 5" B&W TV after the fall of Baghdad, then broadcast TV shows and edutainment/propaganda to the whole country from AWACS routinely circling the country. Captive audience thirsting for ANY knowledge of the world outside Iraq - we blew it.
> > Build nuclear power plants (100 at 100 megawatts each = approximately $100 > billion)
I don't disagree. Unfortunately there is a sizable (and powerful) segment of society that is unwilling to live with this thought. Additionally, they're more than nervous about what to do with spent fuel.
> > Build solar satellites for export of power to friends.
Gotta love capitalism!
> > Invest in fuel cell technology to make transportation electric rather
Doesn't matter what type of fuel - as long as it's portable, storable and adapable to conversion of current engines.
> > Tell the arabs to drink their oil, and keep them out of the US. Let
Might not be a bad strategy... Unfortunately we'll have to keep the Spanish and French out of our country as well
And there it stands. As you will have noted, it is not easy arguing with a Marine colonel. General Graham used to tell me stories about his Marine colonel assistants when he was head of DIA. But you can learn a lot from them.
The key to success in Jacobin terms in Iraq is Iraqi nationalism. Whether it exists among the Kurds, who are ethnically similar to Persians (Kurds are not Arabs, nor even Semites, nor are they ethnically related to the Turks; the Kurdish language is Aryan in derivation, as is Persian (Iran == Aryanna). I have no real data on Kurdish nationalism.
We are committed, and we will stay in Iraq; when it is done I hope we are safer than we were when we went in. It may even be that having us there united the Iraqis, as the British presence in the Americas united the 13 colonies into a nation; recall the flag of the chopped up rattlesnake and the motto "Unite or die!"? We did, and that flag became:
And that, at least, is a lesson Afghanistan and Iraq have taught our enemies.
I found this out when Bob Thompson tried to send me a program file; he attached the file, but on arrival there was no attachment and no way I can retrieve the attachment. Outlook knows better. I have this message that Outlook blocked the attachment. There is no sign of a way to turn that "feature" off even temporarily.
To hell with them. I will now seriously look into Tony Bove's book on becoming Microsoft Free, keeping Microsoft for games.
Oh, probably not; but I resent the hell out of this Big Brother attitude, and if anyone knows the email address of
William Kennedy General Manager Outlook Product Development
--- he of course does not give it in his snide little "Here's why you are too stupid to have control of your own computer, so just be nice" essay --- I would appreciate it if you would send him a copy of this.
I am also collecting suggestions of mail programs for adults that allow you to override their security settings. If Outlook wanted to warn me that this was a potentially dangerous file, and I should think twice about downloading it, that's one thing; but simply, sometime in one of the recent revisions, to deny me access to things I want -- and still leave me vulnerable to macros in files it WILL allow -- is unconscionably stupid.
Microsoft used to make tools for general users with features for adults. They have now decided that their products are not for adults, only for those unable to decide things for themselves. Big Brother will take care of you only of course Big Brother CAN'T take care of you.
I'll have Bob rename the file to .foo and send it, or we'll find another way to transfer it; but this general attitude of Outlook is worse than annoying, and I will now be looking for alternatives to Big Brother.
Suggestions welcomed. Of course one suggestion will be "Use the Mac" but that will sort of defeat the purpose of the program I asked Bob for...
December 2, 2005
Regarding yesterday's annoyance with Outlook
you might try this: http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/esecup/getexe.htm
Your site is real food for thought!
My thanks. There do appear to be multiple solutions to my problem. Having to hack the registry in order to get control of my own machine, and having to look at third party sites because Microsoft won't tell me how to do the registry hacks, seems like wretched excess. But at least there is a solution to the problem.
Thank you for the kind words.
Several solutions, actually. See mail.
Noon: I am packing up to go to the desert for tomorrow morning's flight of the XCOR rocket plane.
I have written a short piece -- it isn't organized well enough to call it an essay -- on free trade, economics, and loss of manufacturing jobs. That's over in Mail.
A minor addendum to yesterday's exchange of views on Iraq:
I sent a note to Couv:
You may find this interesting:
I did. I do hope that people understand my sarcasm for I really do respect your views. In fact, I find you one of the more clearer thinkers on the whole matter. Certainly someone who has an eye on history and can realistically use that for explainations on current events.
Lastly, I'm routinely reminded of the blessings of the US from my, and others, in their correspondence with you through email and your website. That someone of your stature would deign to discuss anything with an ill-educated, simplistic, Marine as myself is truly a sign that it's all worth it.
To which I can only reply, Sir, the honor is mine. God bless you.
Something else to worry about?
IE flaw lets intruders into Google Desktop
I am out here in Mojave. At dawn we will go over to XCOR and see the flight of the rockketplane. I am told that Esther Dyson is out here, but I have not seen her. With luck I'll get a photo essay report on the flight.
December 3, 2005
Out in the Mojave Desert most of the day, then family matters. Exhaustion sets in eventually.
December 4, 2005
The XCOR EZ Rocket flew perfectly and set a record (almost anything would have been) with plenty of oomph to spare. It flew from Mojave to California City; it could easily have made it to Edwards AFB, a much longer distance, but the flight operations planners wanted about 100% safety factor, which the had with the California City destination; Edwards would have had under 10% safety factor reserve.
I have lots of photographs and some movies taken with the JVC video cameras. I'll see what I can do about writing up a photo essay, but it's a bad week. Column deadlines next week. Need to replace some servers her. Other such matters. I'll see what I can get to.
I have an odd letter that generated a long reply that turned into something less than an essay but more than a mere tirade on the education mess in the US. You can find it over in mail.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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