THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 439 November 6 - 12, 2006
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November 6, 2006
New column and mailbag at Chaos Manor Reviews.
Administrivia: Saying this once again:
For all those who recently subscribed, thanks. I believe I have caught up with subscription enrollments. If you subscribed and have not received the welcoming letters, please let me know.
I recently sent a reminder to all those who subscribed in 2005. A few of you got that even though you renewed in 2006. I think I have caught up with all those clerical errors as well. I cheerfully admit that I am not the world's best clerk, and I spend as little time on this stuff as I can get away with.
There was interesting mail over the weekend.
And Saturday the story came out about the military papers demanding Rumsfeld resign. I am writing my own thoughts on this now; we also have Greg Cochran's comments on Orson Scott Card's column on Iraq.
The Iraq situation is I think a lot more complex than most believe, because before we can choose a policy we have to make a firm decision on what kind of nation we are.
Example: if what we wanted was regime change in Iraq, the time to do that was in the First Gulf War when, at the end, we encouraged uprisings against Saddam. What we hoped for was a coup d' etat by one of Saddam's generals. We could have had that had we made it clear that we would not tolerate the slaughter of those who were rising against Saddam. Instead we did nothing. None of his generals would be first in arranging a coup, and it wasn't clear what we'd do if one did. It was totally inept and resulted in slaughter of those who would have built a democracy -- perhaps -- in Iraq. Those passionate for democracy were killed, sacrificed to Bush I's inability to make up his mind: are we a republic or empire? Do we want to stay home and build America or go abroad slaying monsters and constructing hegemony?
If you cannot make that decision you cannot do what is needed. What we did was probably the worst thing possible: we postured, we encouraged, and we abandoned those we encouraged. The result was horrible including one of the worst man-made ecodisasters in two thousand years. The Turkish breaking of the terraces in Asia Minor, introducing goats into the Sahel; these may be comparable to what was done to the Garden of Eden. The Soviet destruction of the Aral and Caspian Seas is on a comparable scale. This one was on us.
Then we went into Iraq under Bush II. This time it would be a lot more difficult to build a democracy because most of those passionate about democracy had been given their lesson good and hard. The only way we were going to build a democracy would be first to establish order; then rule of law; then local democracy; then regional democracy; and finally a national federation of regional democracies. Nothing else was going to work and it took no great genius to see that.
There were only two ways to establish order: to take in enough troops to impose order -- my estimate was 500,000 but there were some optimists in the Pentagon who thought 400,000 would be enough; or to hire it done by paid soldiers, namely, the Army of the Republic of Iraq. The only way to do that would be to tell the Generals that we would give them money to pay their soldiers, and the condition of their continued payment would be order in their regions. Brutally enforced order. Ordnung! General, for every incident in your region we dock you a percentage of the money we pay you to pay your troops; enough incidents and we replace you.
Instead we sent in the neocons and Jacobins who couldn't wait to disband the Iraqi army and free the Iraqi people. Free them to loot and pillage and destroy, but look! Our hearts were pure! We were not oppressing them. I do not know what Bremer thought he was doing; from reading his book it is clear he did not know what he thought he was doing. The result was utter chaos, and it took no great amount of brains to KNOW that the result would be chaos.
We are going to disband the army of a tyrant. We will send those young men home with weapons but no pay and no jobs, and encourage them to be orderly and vote! After all --
It is impossible for me to put myself in the place of the people who made decisions like that. They thought de-Baathization, purification, our strength is of the strength of ten because our hearts are pure. I can't think like that, and I am a novelist.
But now we are there. Our army, once the finest in the world, is tied up trying to do constabulary duty, its equipment in ruins, lives interrupted by long deployments, and no end in sight.
And the military newspapers call for the resignation of the Secretary of Defense. Unprecedented.
Before we can decide what to do about Iraq we must know what to do about ourselves.
On that score: why are we in the entangling alliance called NATO? What now is its purpose?
And having asked all that, we must still remember: we are in Iraq. We were led there by ideals. Rumsfeld had built the finest military instrument the world has ever known; he hasn't enough history to understand that implementing Jacobin ideals requires more than an army capable of defeating every organized military force on the planet.
But we are there; and when we leave we must leave something behind; what I do not know, but fleeing in panic will not accomplish that.
As I wrote this I received:
Subj: Beware the fury of the Legions?http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZTllODVjYjNmYzlhZWQxYmU2OGEzMzk0M2M0NzZmYzg=
So: *are* we going to tell them that they've left their bones to bleach in those desert sands for nothing?
It is a question of some importance.
"Stay the course" will not work; we need new strategic goals. I do not think Nancy Pelosi will be able to find them; and bringing home a victorious army and treating them as if they have been defeated and should be ashamed is not a healthy thing to do. The army knows it was not defeated. The Administration must now know that the cakewalk, mission accomplished, Chalabi installed as puppet king, was never in the cards.
We have to find a way out of Iraq. I have no fondness for the neocons; but they at least have among their ranks some realists. The more extreme Jacobins are being replaced by more traditional realists in the tradition of Morgantheau. I see little to no sign of realism among their opponents on the left. I can hope that the Republicans may have learned something. It is only hope.
The election will be closer than anyone thought. The issues will be immigration and security. This election will be key; and will probably cause the Republicans to completely reorganize their structure, win or lose. The message is clear: the American people are concerned, and mad as hell at their leaders; but afraid of the opposition. This is a key election.
It is also the Republican Party's last chance to reform itself.
The conviction of Saddam will help. Hanging him will help more. But the New York Times and the Democrat's hero Ramsey Clark question the fairness of the trial and verdict. That will sure help if Nancy Pelosi is speaker. "Give him a new trial or we cut off aid..." I wish I were entirely sure that is no more than bad humor.
|This week:||Tuesday, November
It's election day but first that screwy popup that asked for a password and wanted to link you to a pharmacy product: For some time I have recommended a nasal pump, and had a link to their web site. They seem to have done something horrible to that, and now when my page requests an image from their site, they demand a password. I have no idea what happened. The remedy was to eliminate the link. Alas, that link exists on a number of pages and it will take a long time to get rid of it. Meanwhile, you are NOT under attack. Merely ignore the request if you ever see it. I'm trying to get to them to tell them to STOP IT.
The election is today. I intend to vote Republican in all the elections where there is a point to my so voting; in others where there is no actual issue (as for instance my Congressman; I live in a safe Democrat district alas) I will vote Liberatarian. I don't think the Republicans deserve to rule, but I am afraid of the Democrats in several ways; and I hope that this election will have frightened the incumbent big spenders. With luck, too, big spender Republicans may lose to conservative Democrats (there are a few) and that will be a good lesson as well.
I have had a complete crash of my major communications system; it reveals a really bad flaw in Windows XP. I will cover this in the column. Meanwhile, I didn't lost any files but I am scrubbing the disk to bare metal and reinstalling from scratch. That may cost me a bit (I had some software purchased online that I haven't located keys for) but I hope not. I didn't need this distraction.
I had a productive day but I have not yet solved the communications machine problem. I will have a bunch of mail to post tonight. I have machines to do everything, but they are not the machines I usually use. All will be well, but it will probably be late tonight before I have mail up.
Well, it's fairly clear that the Republicans, having forfeited the right to rule, have well and truly lost it. It makes for an interesting evening...
The problem with the computers is that Outlook 2003 will no longer accept and keep
November 8, 2006
The following is an announcement. It isn't paid, but it is given here as a favor to a good friend.
The Republic will endure. We will get an amnesty bill now; for good or ill that course is now set. Excuse me, "comprehensive immigration reform." And we will begin to stand down in Iraq.
One of the reasons for not going into Iraq in the first place is that the United States is not an empire. A punitive expedition to Iraq would have been popular in the wake of 911, as was the Afghanistan adventure. A long term commitment was always out of the question. The United States does not operate that way. Monarchies and Empires can play the Great Game, commit Legions to long term service, take the long view; republics have never been able to do that, and the United States, a nation in transition from republic to empire, was unlikely to do that. It should have been clear at the time. It is certainly clear now.
Rumsfeld is gone. That was inevitable given the results of the election; it was the first demand of the new Speaker. Rumsfeld's replacement is closer to the realist school than anyone we have had for some time. That hardly matters: this is the capitulation of the emperor, who will step down and live in retirement, not in Split, but in Crawford. Will Bush pardon Rumsfeld? Just in case? This game is not played out yet.
Perhaps it was just another election for the United States, and perhaps little will change, at least for a while. Johnson was able to bring in the Great Society and fundamentally change the nature of government in these United States. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Clinton probably cannot do that. But if the election is of consequence but not great consequence for the United States, it was vital in the future of Iraq and the Middle East. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to think what plans are being made in caves in Pakistan and safe houses in Fallujah.
The most interesting question will be, have we yet entered the era of proscriptions? Will the show trials begin? It is an inevitable step in the transition from republic to empire. The only real question is, when will they begin? We have already seen the beginnings of the criminalization of political incorrectness. We will see a great deal more. But probably not yet.
If the election heralded a return to historic foreign policies: avoid entangling alliances, do not meddle in the territorial disputes of Europe (and Asia); mind our own business and do no go abroad seeking dragons to slay; we might have some cause for rejoicing. This is unlikely. There was at least some conceivable connection with national interest in Mesopotamia; there was not much in the Balkans, or the Horn of Africa. But at least those interventions were small.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform plus increased entitlements: will that change the United States as much as the Great Society? Stay tuned.
Rush Limbaugh says he feels relieved. I understand him perfectly. It has been difficult: people I do not respect seized control of my party; but the alternatives were frightening, and I did not want to contribute to the possible disaster.
For good or ill that is done.
When National Review was founded, it was said that its purpose was to stand in the way of history and shout "Stop"! Over time that changed until the egregious Frum read out all those who opposed a potentially disastrous war and war policy. We have seen "Big Government Conservatism", which is a lie; Conservatives believe in strong government, but with limited scope; strong in the areas it 0ught to control, and not big but nonexistent in areas it should leave to others. We believe in self government to the fullest extent possible. The is not what the leadership of the Republicans have stood for; yet it was difficult to denounce them and thereby help an enemy. If we thought the Republican leadership weak on border control, it was no use helping the open border party. And so forth.
Relieved. I understand him perfectly, even if I often disagree with particular views.
November 9, 2006
Two Days After Doomsday
If you you were bitten by that screwy pharm popup, it was the nasal pump ad; my page requested a picture from their site, and they demanded a login and password. Of course the picture is the one they sent me as the illustration.
They have since fixed that and at some point I'll put the advertisement back in my page. First I need to find a Round Tuit.
The good news here is that I am almost completely recovered from my Windows XP crash on Alexis, my main communications machine. The whole story will be in the column next Monday. I saw almost completely recovered because the text on my screen doesn't look right. It looked better before the crash and reinstallation of Outlook, Office, and, more to the point just at this moment, FrontPage. Since it's the same hardware, and I am using the latest NVIDIA drivers, I am not sure that this means; it could be all in my head, but I don't think so.
I did lose all mail that arrived between about 8:00 PM and 9:30 PM on Monday, November 6; and losing that was my own fault due to operator error, and there may be a way to go find out, but I probably won't do that.
In any event, I seem to have pretty well recovered from the crash, and have the ability to deal with this site, and mail, and operations at Chaos Manor are back to normal. The better news is that neither the crash nor the elections nor the need to get out the International Edition of the Chaos Manor Reviews column significantly cut into my fiction writing: I've been making steady progress on Inferno 2 and Mamelukes, two very different books. I am still thinking hard about who might represent a redeemable Gnostic to be found in the 6th Circle (heretics). I already have a good Universalist; I think you will like both him and what happens to him.
As to the elections: the Republicans did not deserve to win. I do not believe the Democrats have earned the right to rule, and the very close election seems to bear that out: there's no mandate here. The Republicans abandoned Reagan and his principles, and reverted to the typical Optimate attitudes of the Country Club oligarchs. They went on a spending spree to reward themselves for their labors in opposition, loosed a flood of earmarks, raised discretionary spending to new heights much of it for projects that make no sense, and made war on Federalism and states' rights. Far from leaving things to the states, they decided to interfere.
Having abandoned fiscal conservatism and what I would call the conservative principles of the people I would have called conservative, they embraced the Trotskyite idealism of the neoconservatives. Trotskyite is a modern name for good old fashioned Jacobinism. Jacobins don't really want "the people" to rule, of course; they are sure they know better what the people want than the people do, and if the people don't realize that, why Rousseau himself told us that sometimes people must be forced to be free.
They also turned to what they call social conservatism, completely misunderstanding what the vast majority of the "social conservatives" want, which is to be left alone to enjoy life in the ways they have done so for a long time. That may well include display of the Ten Commandments in courthouses and Mangers (and Menorahs) in the public squares; and "censorship" in the sense of having some control over what is openly displayed for sale on public newsstands and in book store windows. What the news stand operators sell in the back room, and what book stores have on their shelves is of less concern; and what book stores and newsstands sell twenty miles away is of almost no concern at all.
The main practical difference between libertarians and conservatives on most matters of personal freedom are over the power to be given to local authorities. We can all pretty much agree on matters where the Federal government ought to mind its own business and simply stay out. There may be a number of "social conservatives" who would like to "reform" San Francisco, but all of the ones I know don't give a hang what Sister Boom Boom and the Order of Perpetual Indulgence do up there, so long as we have some control of what goes on in Studio City, or Resume Speed, Michigan, or Cedar Rapids, Iowa (depending on where we live). The notion that abandoning every conservative principle including the most important ones of fiscal responsibility and subsidiarity can be made up for by some fair words on defense of marriage and pre-natal stem cell research was absurd on the face of it, and the election pretty well proved it. The Old Conservatives may or may not have voted, but they sure didn't put much effort into turning out the vote; and the Republicans lost seats all over including in what they thought was their heartland. And they didn't lose by much: a bit more motivation among those who preferred Republican principles to whatever programs the Democrat coalitions can agree on would have reversed the results.
We can hope the Optimates learned something from that, but I doubt they did. The day Bush First took office he turned out every Reagan supporter he could find (except for Dan Quayle, whom he couldn't dismiss). His son was not quite so thorough, but easily confused neoconservative Jacobins for real conservatism. So it goes.
Since neither party seems interested in smaller Federal government and reliance on efficient and cheap self-government, I find it wearying to pay attention to politics. But, as Pericles warned his people, just because you take no interest in government does not mean that government will take no interest in you. We need to remember that.
And enough for the moment. The text still doesn't look right. It's not weighty enough. Maybe it's the screen resolution.
Of course that was the problem. Thank you! Oh thank you! Phil says I was the one who made him aware of ClearType in the first place. All true. And I eventually remembered how to turn it on, It goes to show one shouldn't work with a splitting headache.
It sure makes a BIG difference!
And now I am off to do some serious writing. It looks as if the disaster recovery is pretty well complete, starting at about 10 PM last night when I nuked the system down to bare metal.
One question for an OUTLOOK expert. I have got Outlook running by copying the Outlook.pst file into the appropriate directory. That directory also has a whole bunch of archive files. I want to be able to xcopy /d (copy only later files) that directory to my laptop and back, meaning that I don't want to copy but ONE archive file, and that one I'd like to keep small. Obviously if I keep it fairly small I will periodically have to move stuff from it to a different archive file that will then grow and have changed and have to be copied; but it will have to be copied only the once after it has been changed.
Has anyone with experience a good suggestion on how to manage this? I'm not really looking for suggestions and guesses. I have plenty of ideas. What I'd like is to hear from someone who uses Outlook, likes it enough to keep using it, and has organized things so that it is easy to copy the directory where Outlook stores its stuff over to a laptop for going on the road, and back to the main machine when coming back. (Or has an even better way for using Outlook on two different machines). I do thank all those who have well wishing suggestions, but please, what I need just now is experience from someone who's done a couple of silly things so I don't have to...
November 10, 2006
It's no longer Armistice Day, and no one has tried to sell me a poppy. But I do give money to the Disabled American Veterans.
I was going to write a short essay, but I used up that time on writing answers to mail. That turned out to be reasonably important.
With any luck this works again:
Full disclosure: I use this nasal pump. I recommend it. It has done wonders for my real sinus problems (as opposed to the arthritis induced pains that ape sinus pain). For those with allergies this thing is a lifesaver. They do pay me a few dollars for each one sold through this web site. I recommended it before they started doing that, but I probably repeat the ad more often now that they do.
November 11, 2006
Another old but not close friend; I knew him in the days when nearly every science fiction knew all the others. We would see each other several times a year when we were both regulars at science fiction conventions. Over the years he came to fewer and fewer as did I, but Id' try to get to the ones he went to. I once lectured at his University in Portales, and we had a pleasant visit. Jack was in his 80's then, and still writing. He was a unity president of Science Fiction Writers of America in a year when it needed him. I don't know anyone who will not miss him.
Of course he was the dean of science fiction writers, a man who had been writing this stuff all his life; but those details will be known everywhere. He was given the Heinlein Medal at the Worldcon this August. Niven and I presented the medals, and Jack told me he wanted to come to receive his personally, but his health would not permit it. Goodbye, Jack.
I know it is there. I have three times tried to make a couple of points and edit it and each time someone else has removed what I said, so I pay no attention to Wikipedia any longer. It has some good information, but it is also full of errors that cannot be corrected because someone wants those errors to be there.
Daniel Pipes says:
November 11, 2006
Column done. Not much sleep last night so I am forcing myself not to have a nap so I will sleep tonight...
Joanne's latest are in mail for Sunday.
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