Memorial Day; Future Work; Strategy


Chaos Manor View, Monday, May 25, 2015



We give our thanks and tribute to those who have defended us. May the survivors find peace and tranquility; may the dead rest in peace; and God bless those who remain on guard.


We are bringing out, in both electronic and print production, The Strategy of Technology, a 1970 book that was once a text in some of the Service Academies and still is in use at two of the War Colleges. This is not a new edition: it remains mostly the same as the hard to read copy available as an eBook on line or at exorbitant prices as used printed books. There are also Xerox copies kicking around.

The principles of the strategy of technology remain pretty constant, but all the examples in the book are of course Cold War or World War II, with a few “Small War” lessons and a bit on Korea.

It does not take account of Martin Van Crevold’s Transformation of War and it should acknowledge that important work; war has changed radically since 1970, and while Van Crevold mistakenly uses the politically motivated American retreat from Viet Nam as an example of the new era, subsequent events have made it clear that while Clausewitz remains important he is incomplete.

War remains, but its nature has changed. To Clausewitz war was the continuation of diplomacy by other means. As Van Crevold shows, there are new forms combat that Clausewitz would not recognize that can be as decisive as the old forms of war – ask the inhabitants of the Crimea, or eastern Ukraine. There are also combatants who are not nations: al Qaeda being a famous example. Yet States and Armies remain and can be decisive.

Anyway I am re-reading Van Crevold and preparing a “Postword” or final Chapter to show that the principles of the strategy of technology apply in this new kind of war – and that I am aware of the need for a book on the subject, and provide some thwarting materials for it. The subject is important. The subtitle of SOT was “Winning the Decisive War”, and that title is still relevant. At the same time, the age old principles of war as understood by both Sun Tzu and Machiavelli remain relevant.

It remains true that There Will Be War.

Alex is here and it is time for a walk. More later


Decoration Day


On this day I am reminded of O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the Day” posted around Arlington National Cemetery

Theodore O’Hara’s poem, “Bivouac of the Dead,”<>

The poem itself: <>

And a Decoration Day postcard (at the first link): <>

Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE


Subj: Rethink cozying up to the Kurds?

Sounds to me like Yet Another Instance of a well-known pattern, to wit:

whenever someone utters some generality about “the X”, for some X, one’s antennae should twitch about the implication that what is said applies

*uniformly* over all X, with no within-X variation worth mentioning.


Why yes, of course; they are not our friends except from necessity. It was Saladin the Kurd who defeated the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem at the Horns of Hattin, and ended the Christian rule in the Holy Land. He also made a peace with Richard Couer de Leon that was beneficial to both sides. Then he went on to unite the Middle East.

The Kurds at the moment have ambitions that are not in conflict with our interests except at the margins; that is also true of Saudi Arabia, and Israel for that matter. Can we hope for more? I would rather Northern Iraq were in the hands of the Kurds than the Caliphate.


ISIS and idiotic US Hubris Subject : ISIS and idiotic US Hubris Message : Contact Message below
So the redacted classified DIA document obtained by Judicial watch via FOIA shows that the US viewed ISIS AS A STRATEGIC ASSET!!!!! And clearly understood that something like ISIS was a collateral risk. This is consistent with the conspiratorial assertions years ago that ISIS was (created? – encouraged? – supported?) for the specific purpose of overthrowing Asad to enable a GCC gas pipeline to Europe without passing through Israel or IRAQ.
Hubris, Greed, and Amorality resulting in death and destruction – who wudda thought?

: john


“The reason it’s controversial is, it violates Newton’s Third Law.”



Roland Dobbins

That’s always a problem. Seriously, we must pay attention to “impossible” data if it can be reproduced; but extraordinary claims always require extraordinary evidence. It is increasingly clear that this one doesn’t have that.


Everyone I have talked to on Wall Street seems to agree it’s a pretty godless place. Is this new or has it always been like this?

It’s been said many times, in many places, even well before the Great Recession: The culture on Wall Street is terrible. It encourages bad behavior. More recently, there are concerns that the Wall Street that caused the financial crisis is back.

A new report by The University of Notre Dame, commissioned by the law firm Labaton Sucharow, which represents whistleblowers, has some alarming numbers to add to this well-trodden narrative. The report surveyed more than 1,200 people in the financial-services industry—account executives, wealth advisors, financial analysts, investment bankers, operations managers, and portfolio managers—in both the U.S. and the U.K. to look at whether increased regulations, along with calls for a cultural change, have had any demonstrable effects.

Why I am shocked, shocked…


Financial Times Says it All

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such an apt and succinct observation:


The Fed is forecasting US growth of 2.5 per cent for the next two years, which is only marginally above the tepid rates achieved since the start of the recovery, which is now about to enter its seventh year. Should unemployment fall to 5 per cent by the end of 2015, wage growth may finally start to pick up, in which case the Fed will probably need to remove the punch bowl. The balance of risk is skewed the other way, however. After years of virtually no income growth, Main Street is unprepared for positive shocks. It is, for instance, striking that that the US consumer has opted to pocket the recent gains from lower [gas] prices rather than boost spending. The same applies to corporate investment, which remains disappointingly weak.

The US economy’s key growth drivers each seem to be waiting for the other to move first. Investors are reluctant to invest and consumers are hesitant to spend. What will it take to stoke their animal spirits?


What will it take for animus to drive the market? I see

witchdoctors, but these witchdoctors have a point.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

It takes someone who believes in American Exceptionalism rather than Social Justice


The speech deconstructed by Viscount Monckton


DNA hints at earlier dog evolution 


Ha! You and I have been right all these years:

They push it back to 27,000 years. But the baby and wolf (proto-dog) footprints date back 35,000 years.


I have always believed that dogs were extremely important in human evolution,  And there was a dramatic rise in intelligence about then…


“We’ve disconnected the consequences of war from the American public.”



Roland Dobbins

“Stay together. Pay the soldiers. Take no heed of the rest.” Septimius Severus

Or see Machiavelli 

Cultivating the Wind

I have been away a while, buried by work and family obligations. I should not have been catching up this morning, but sometimes the mind needs a constructive distraction…
While I was catching up, it struck me how much of your blog is concerned with the issue of “sow[ing] the wind.” You warn us all that U.S. culture and culture around the world is changing, but not for the better. Ominous trends are afoot in education, politics, economics, entertainment, and discourse. I see the same ominous changes, so I am inclined to agree with you. However, it troubles me that we sit quite comfortably in our electronic pub, rationally discussing these issues while the world continues to deteriorate apace.
About 250 years ago, the people of the American British colonies sat comfortably in their physical pubs, rationally discussing the issues of their day, when at least one of them realized that discussion was not enough. Pointing out the problems, leveling criticisms, worrying about the prospects for the future were not changing anything. These people, the educated and able of their day, decided to stop simply talking about the problems and decided to start fixing them.
It has struck me that we — you, your direct friends, the people you have reached through your blog — have to inherit the mantle those people of 250 years ago once wore. We are the educated and able of our day. This is our world that needs to be changed for the better. We have the ability to define and to bring about that change. We are at the turn of an exponential curve and simple discussion will not longer suffice.
Can we not use our knowledge and experience to formulate a strategy for cultivating the wind? Can we not find a way to effectively influence cultural change for the better? I am not advocating the armed conflict that was the first step toward positive change two hundred years ago; we have tools of communication at our disposal now that did not exist then.
Cultivate the wind. Let us gather here to define a better future and make the effort to bring that future.


Despair is a sin.





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




ISIS and other matters

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, May 21, 2015

Obama Says ‘I Don’t Think We’re Losing’ to ISIS; Militants Ready for Iraqi Counterattack

President Barack Obama said in an interview published Thursday that “I don’t think we’re losing” to ISIS, despite its capture of an Iraqi city last week and renewed questions about the state of the Iraqi military.

His interview with The Atlantic was published hours after ISIS claimed to have captured the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, a victory that one monitoring group said gave ISIS control of half the country.

And U.S. officials told NBC News that In Ramadi, Iraq, the city captured by the militants last weekend, ISIS fighters are digging trenches, building berms and steeling themselves for an Iraqi military push to retake the city.

ISIS is ‘everywhere’ in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra

The Fall of Palmyra Is a Strategic, Historical, and Human Loss


It is estimated that the Caliphate controls about a third of Iraq.


I hear what you are saying about ISIS. Sure, a US armored division could take them out. So what?
In WWII the US army and government could both win wars and govern in the aftermath. Today, we can destroy, but our elites are so corrupt that we can no longer govern.
You have complained about our incompetent proconsul, Paul Bremer, in the aftermath of the Iraq war. But we don’t have anyone better at hand!
To paraphrase someone famous, you don’t go into a war with the leadership that you wish you had, but with the leadership that you do have. The days of Eisenhower and FDR and even Nixon are long gone. Our current elites can only create chaos. Sure our army still has the ability to trash ISIS (until outsourcing finally breaks the logistical tail), but so what. We trash ISIS, and then what? We destroy Turkey, and Iran and Saudi Arabia?
Let’s admit it – our country no longer has the ability to both win wars and govern in the aftermath. If a bunch of looney tunes in the deep desert are killing themselves how about we just STAY THE HECK OUT OF THEIR WAY AND LET THEM KILL EACH OTHER. I think Napoleon had something to say on that topic.
As Admiral Palpatine once said, we only have to keep them from escaping.

I understand what you are saying, but fortunately the corruption of leadership does not go as deep as you fear. It remains something to worry about, but it is not the immediate problem.

The immediate objective is not to establish a democratic republic in Iraq, or even to rule Iraq; it is to eradicate the Caliphate. ISIS is a self-proclaimed mortal enemy of the West in general and the United States in particular. If they survive we will have to fight them. They will not choose to fight until they believe they are strong enough to work the Will of Allah.

Since we must fight them to the death, it were well that we do it before they are stronger.

As for Iraq, our war with the Caliphate on their territory will be a disaster, probably as bad or worse (at least for Shia) than rule by the Caliphate; but we have no choice. They are a mortal enemy and they are growing more powerful. The time to put paid to these pretenders is now.

The territory in which we will fight is no longer Iraq, and Baghdad’s writ does not run there. Baghdad cannot claim a right to rule there: they allowed it be taken by mortal enemies of the US. One reason they lost was that the Shia militia came down very hard on the Sunni inhabitants.

One alternative to maintaining the integrity of Iraq was to dismember it into at least three states: Kurdish, Sunni, and Shia. This is now de facto happening and has happened. If US troops liberate territory from the Caliphate, we can give it to whomever we wish. I suggest we give it to the inhabitants, not Baghdad.

As to the Caliphate, it has one obvious vulnerability: it asserts the right to rule, and ruling by strict Islamic Law demonstrates that right: but it must have something to rule. If it has no territory it is merely another militia movement, and its rapid growth in power ceases. War would no longer feed war. At the moment one US division with massive air support could bring this about. By next year it will take far more than that. And by 2016 it will take the full might of the US – which leaves us little to counter other enemies.

Strike now, and decisively; later it will cost more and may not be accomplish the mission.

The Caliphate must be destroyed.


The number of Americans out of work is 93 million; some large number, between 25 and 50% are no longer looking for work; for one reason or another they have given up. They are not starving. Nearly all have phones and TV. But they are not working.


Dr Pournelle,
I had my 1st exposure to the concept of light sails back in the mid-70s when I read The Mote in God’s Eye. As an impatient high school student, with even the Shuttle years away, I always wished the Future would get here SOONER.
…and now (40 yrs later) I find out that I can actually help support a working lightsail. Yesterday, Bill Nye launched a Kickstarter to help fund a lightsail mission in 2016. Details here:
Apparently a prototype just went up on the Atlas V that also put the X-37 into orbit.
with best regards,
Ron Artigues


Thank you!


Dr. Schramm’s essay was marvelous.  It helps me not drop into despair during Heinlein’s “Crazy Years.”

Thank you for posting the link to the essay.  It was a needed pick me up!

Regards, Charles Adams


> either the factories move to low-wage places like Viet Nam


I have a Pentax DSLR. It’s “only” 6MP, but I am inured to Megapixel Madness, having in my possession 16×20 (chromogenic) prints made from 3MP images I made with my wife’s ancient Olympus P&S. Being far better than “acceptably” sharp (by which I mean sharper than most of the 35mm work I’ve seen), I don’t consider 6MP much of a handicap.

The reason I point this out is to create a timeframe for its manufacture

— it’s far from recent.

The lens I use the most is the Pentax “kit” zoom lens. It’s beautifully made; optically excellent; and according to the small label at the bottom of the lens barrel, it comes from Vietnam.

That just blew me away when I saw it…

If that’s what they could do several years ago, I wonder what they’re building -now-???

(And I wonder too, how long they’ll remain “low wage”?)

In my darker, more cynical moments, I wonder if the day will come, perhaps after China “calls in” the dollar (by whatever mechanism they find expedient), when WE will be the “low wage” venue of choice for Chinese megacorporations.

History might suggest that stranger (and sadder) things have happened.

And Santayana, although ignored in this land, has never been debunked.


It is always unwise to underestimate future competitors. Note that the original quote there is not mine; I merely printed it.









Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.