THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 451 January 29 February 4, 2007
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January 29, 2007
We're headed for home today. Niven tells me it's raining but he's working on Purgatorio. There is a new mailbag at Chaos Manor Reviews, and if not already up there will shortly be a special report on IE7.
There is some important mail today. We have Harry Erwin's Letter from England, an informed contribution on what is happening in Viet Nam today, and a letter from a serving officer in Afghanistan. And if you have not yet read Friday's notes on intellectual capital and the coming dark age, please do so.
And repeat from yesterday:
Take the time to watch the whole demonstration then look at your child's textbooks. You may be glad you did.
And have a look.
Cormorants holding a fishing convention at Mission Bay. Note they have brought in some Pelican consultants. There were gulls but they were chased away, probably because they didn't have convention badges. The crows didn't even try to crash the party.
Home safe and all is well. There is a big Lenovo box; I expect it is the new TabletPC with Vista. I can't open it for another hour or so but I'll get to it shortly. Now I have to take Sable for the walk I didn't get today.
|This week:||Tuesday, January
Apologies. I got caught up with work on fiction. I also went to Fry's. And the new Lenovo TabletPC with Vista has arrived. I need a name for it...
January 31, 2007
Roberta is under the weather, and we're hip deep in work. Not big work. Just errands and keeping things going.
I still need a name for the new Lenovo TabletPC with Business Vista.
And I have to pay the bills, and Niven will be over for hike and discuss Inferno -- he's going great guns now -- and I'm digging into Mamelukes. It's a great life if you don't weaken.
I have about decided that I need to do a small primer essay on the difference between insurgency, civil war, and invasion by infiltration, and how Viet Nam and Iraq are different and how similar. That takes time I have to create, there not being much of that around here.
I have done a bit of that in an answer in mail.
I will also have to catch up with Joanne's diatribes; she does manage an interesting compilation of data. Think of her as an advocate assembling evidence, not as an impartial analyst; an American woman counterpart to CAIR. I won't get to that until after a hike and lunch with Niven, though.
February 1, 2007
Another long day. Got some work on Inferno done. Mostly recovered from cold. I'll catch up one of these days...
Your humble correspondent cannot overemphasize the difficulty people born after the events of Vietnam have in determining exactly what did happen. The narratives tend to fall into three major camps: left-influenced narratives, neocon-influenced narratives, and narratives that correspond to your own. The three narratives appear to derive from, respectively, the Communist-influenced anti-war movement, the propaganda produced by MacNamara's "whiz kids", and people who remained aloof from the previous two groups. These are all mutually exclusive recollections of events.
Well, for starters, look at the facts: Viet Nam didn't fall to any insurgency. There was a full blown invasion by armored corps in 1972. This was defeated. US ground troops had minimal participation in that, with 300 US KIA for the year. This much at least is not in dispute.
Everything else is hard to find. The very ethnic composition of Viet Nam is hard to find, and the history of the Empire of Annam and Cochin China is even harder to come by. French Indo China was composed of a number of parts. Laos and Cambodia were fairly easily defined; the balance, called Viet Nam, was composed of many parts and ethnicities. It had once been part of China (and the Chinese haven't forgotten that). The French protectorate had installed the last Emperor, Bao Dai, about 1932; he remained until Premier Diem -- yes, that one, the man Kennedy had murdered as his reward for asking for American assistance -- put him on an airplane and ended the Empire after the Geneva Accords.
The notion of independence from France became wide spread in Viet Nam as well as all of Southeast Asia after the French were unable to protect Indo China from the Japanese, and the Vichy government gave the Japanese a free hand in the former Protectorate. The collapse of the Dutch colonization of Indonesia, coupled with the US proclamation of independence of the Philippines in the wake of WW II gave a strong impetus to independence on the part of all the peoples of Southeast Asia. The British moved toward the dissolution of their Empire. The French tried to hold on.
Viet Nam was never a unified nation, and its only unity was as a French protectorate. The Geneva Accords which ended French rule acted as if there were a single nation, but in fact there wasn't a great deal more national unity there than there was in Iraq.
All this is rather hard to come by. Even the number of US military advisors to Viet Nam prior to Kennedy's inauguration (certainly under 1500, very likely under 750, likely under 500) is hard to determine. Eisenhower was determined to avoid a "land war in Asia". By the end of 1961 there were about 3500 and the number grew.
The Diem government attempted to stop the insurgency -- many of the Viet Cong or Vietnamese Liberation Army were former South Viet Nam trained in the North and reinfiltrated -- and on one occasion killed a dozen protestors. Another dozen bonzes set themselves on fire. The result was an enormous propaganda success, with the result that Kennedy authorized the assassination of Diem. Since Diem was the only political figure nationally recognized (other than Ho Chi Minh) the result was predictable. Political chaos ensued.
Some areas under the control of various sects -- Cao Dai and Hoa Hao are the best known and were the strongest -- stayed calm. The rest of the country was now up for grabs. The US military mission changed from support of an on-going government to one of nation building. This was much more difficult. More troops were sent in. US casualties climbed.
For a table of just what happened see
http://www.rjsmith.com/kia_tbl.html . Note the figures for US
casualties. Note also that the 1972 NVA casualty figures are inaccurate: it
is known that a force of at least 150,000 NVA regulars was destroyed.
The point of all this was containment: it was widely (and accurately) seen that the fall of Viet Nam would lead to the collapse of the "dominoes" all over South East Asia. Laos and Cambodia were the first of the dominoes, after which came Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Malaysian parts of the Indonesian archipelago, and Indonesia itself. Indonesia itself was unstable and in 1965 very nearly fell to a communist coup in which several Indonesian generals, and the daughter of the Minister of Defense, were murdered by soldiers of Sukarno's Palace Guard. Nasution escaped (barely; he was wounded) and rallied the regular army to resist. (Note that Wikipedia says "On the pretext of stopping a communist coup, Nasution and Suharto led their forces to liquidate the PKI and topple the regime of Sukarno. The pivotal role of Suharto led to his assumption of the Indonesian presidency in 1967." Considering the number of people killed by the Palace Guard before Nasution was able to rally the resistance, this was some pretext.) Had Viet Nam not been kept out of the hands of world communism, it is unlikely that Indonesia would have remained in the "Third World" rather than become part of the Communist "Second World."
When Viet Nam did fall, Laos and Cambodia, as predicted, underwent their ordeals of communist purgation, with Pol Pot's liquidation of the intelligentsia (defined as those who could read or wore glasses) having a genetic effect that has yet to be detailed. But note that Viet Nam did not fall to insurgents. It didn't fall to infiltrators. It fell to a second invasion in armored corps strength; and since the 1972 invasion was not merely resisted but utterly defeated with 300 US KIA, it is unreasonable to suppose that our casualties would have been higher in 1975 had we chosen to assist our allies. Congress refused to do that, even to the extent of sending emergency materiel aid. Viet Nam accordingly fell. About 2 million people were then sent to labor camps, and more than 100,000 were liquidated. Those executions received far less attention from the US press than the fewer than a dozen Buddhist bonzes who protested Diem's "harsh repression".
So much for the "civil war" in Viet Nam.
Do not rely on the long Wikipedia "history", which apparently cannot be altered or annotated. Some of the bare facts given are correct, but the interpretations inserted are systematically biased. Hardly astonishing. Worse, most of the historical facts are not there at all.
As to the propaganda made up by McNamara's "Whiz Kids", I had to live with that nonsense at the time. McNamara used to make up his data on the fly for reasons I never understood. Much of this figured in Nixon's 1968 campaign: recall that McNamara was Kennedy's creature, despised by Johnson but held in high esteem as one of the knights of the Camelot Round Table, and sent to honorable exile at the World Bank. I have a low opinion of McNamara.
Apparently the talk show hosts can't read the Constitution. President Bush is telling people that he has to follow strict guidelines in issuing pardons. This is nonsense, of course. He may prefer to follow those rules, but the President's power of pardon is personal and absolute and without any regulation or limitation whatever.
It is astonishing that political commentators don't know that.
Meanwhile the US Attorney down on the border is clearly on the wrong side. Why?
February 3, 2008
I am just about caught up enrolling new subscribers and recording renewals -- Thanks!! -- and I'll be doing the column and mailbag over the weekend. It's still busy here.
Russell Seitz : The IPCC Executive Summary's place in
the world of information
Nothing has changed. The evidence is the same: the earth is probably in a warming trend. There is debate over how much warming. There is even more ambiguity of evidence on how much of this warming is due to human activity. Some has to be, but the level could be from trivial to moderate.
CO2 levels are rising, and this is from very likely to almost certainly due to human activity. Dealing with CO2 levels by starting industrial strength processes to remove and story the stuff is possible but there is little study of methodologies.
The reasonable things to do are:
1. Get more data on just what is happening. Spend a lot more than we do on data gathering.
2. Find ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Seeding the oceans with nutrient and/or trace elements that will facilitate plankton blooms resulting in CO2 fixing is certainly worth more study.
3. Nuclear power and space solar power have potential to take over many of the CO2-generating processes we now employ.
What we are likely to do is panic and spend lots of money on silliness. California will lead the way.
Incidentally, warmer climates are not bad for everyone, and longer growing seasons produce more food and more corn for ethanol and...
We are slowly catching up on Joanne Dow's diatribes. There are a number from last month that are missing, but we'll put them in over time, and we should be able to keep up in future. Ms. Dow isn't impartial nor does she pretend to be, but what she documents is important.
Dating the Thera explosion:
Coming up tomorrow:
February 4, 2007
It's mailbag and column time. There's mail on global warming (yet again!) over in Mail. The time for debate it over. It's all settled. Deal with it. So how will they deal with it?
Meanwhile I have work to do.
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