View 712 Sunday, February 05, 2012
I continue to try to recover from my cold. It’s awful. My head isn’t working very well.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is warning that the Israelis may strike Iran to destroy their nuclear capability. Meanwhile we know that Israel recently has conducted a brigade sized airborne practice session; they have not had a brigade sized practice jump in decades. The US routinely practices brigade airborne operations.
Many seem to think that taking out Iran’s nuclear would only require air strikes. That’s really unlikely. Iran’s deception and denial capabilities are pretty good. Moshe Dayan famously said when asked why his Israelis could defeat such overwhelming numbers, “It helps if you’re fighting Arabs.” That’s not universally true – Jordan’s Arab Legion was pretty effective against the Jewish forces in the 1948 Formation Wars, taking what is now known as “the West Bank” – but it’s also irrelevant: Iranians are not Arabs. They aren’t stupid, and their nuclear facilities are their crown jewels.
The Israelis know this. They knew it years ago: they sent commandoes in when they wanted to take out nuclear facilities. The units don’t get much publicity and everyone was encouraged to think everything was done by air operations only, but Israeli forces were able to identify the ethnicity of some of the construction engineers: North Korean. That didn’t happen from air observations.
An anti-nuclear raid on Iran will require everything Israel has, every paratrooper, and even that might not be enough. And it’s going to take some US cooperation, at least in operations support. US troops may not have to go in, but US aircraft may be needed for extraction, once it’s done. US strike planners understand the realities as well as the IDF does.
It may be an interesting election year. The current Administration understands that yet another war will not be popular with the American people. Meanwhile the Iranians are getting closer and closer to having what they need to make several nukes. Washington is pretty sure that a nuclear armed Iran is undesirable but tolerable. Jerusalem is not at all convinced of that.
We do live in interesting times.
I am reading Charles Murray’s new book Coming Apart. I don’t want to comment on it until I have finished it, but here is something to think about:
Subj: Charles Murray answers questions about _Coming Apart_
Things Murray said, during the chat, that particularly caught my attention:
>>We’re talking about IQ more than culture. It helps to be living in a neighborhood where smart actions about money are common, but the main breakdown is IQ. Lots of smart people in Fishtown do the right thing, but (politically incorrect warning) there are more smart people in Belmont than in Fishtown.<<
>>I wish I had spent more time on the “no jobs” argument. I have a few pages, but I should have spelled it out at greater length. Amazing how people think men used to make a “family wage” that they now can’t make. In constant dollars, it just doesn’t square with the data. … The ["no jobs" argument is the] idea that jobs for low-skilled people either have disappeared or pay a lot worse than they used to. It’s true for some jobs (plasterers in 2010 made $6,600 less than in 1960) but not for others (waiters/waitresses made $8000 more). On average, working class jobs pay about the same now as they did in 1960.<<
>>Get out of the way. Stop subsidizing behavior — any behavior. Conservative attempts to subsidize good behavior backfire as badly as liberal ones, by the way. Thank heavens the Bush administration’s attempts to foster faith-based programs didn’t get very far, or we would have ruined religion.<<
>>Apprenticeships would be great. But the electricians, contractors, plumbers, etc. I talk to (I live in a blue-collar area) keep telling me that they can’t find kids who want to learn their trade, even while getting good wages. These stories are more than anecdotal. They pop up wherever people are willing to ask the question.<<
>>As a parent, I too have to hope for the best. No guarantees. And I’ve tried to think of something to add to that without much luck. Getting used to hard work at a young age is perhaps the best single thing you can do. Can’t say I did all that well with my children on that score, however, and they’re turning out okay. Although my daughter did used to say that her dad’s idea of the perfect summer job was to work at MacDonald’s by day and clean toilets by night.<<
>>About half of all social capital is religious in origin, according to Putnam’s data. Greater secularization, falling social capital. And married males are great contributors to social capital, whether it’s coaching Little League or lobbying for stop signs. Unmarried males aren’t. Unmarried mothers don’t have time to become engaged in their communities. Marriage collapses, so does social capital.<<
For those who don’t know who Murray is, his The Bell Curve was one of the most important books of the last century. There is very little ‘science’ in ‘social science’ (see my Voodoo Sciences essay), but The Bell Curve has a number of testable hypotheses, and all of them were tested. The conclusions look pretty solid. They form much of the basis of Murray’s new book, which promises to be as important as The Bell Curve.
The Bell Curve was denounced by many ‘social scientists’. I was personally present as a special session of the American Association for the Advancement of Science which was supposed to ‘discuss’ The Bell Curve. This was at a AAAS annual meeting. The special session opened with the chairman, who was chairman of a social science department at a major university, announcing that he had not read the book and did not intend to. He then proceeded to condemn it in very strong language, and called up other ‘discussants’, some of whom also announced that they didn’t intend to read the book. It was an astonishing display, but not surprising if you know much about the Social Sciences.
I make no doubt that Coming Apart will receive much the same treatment.
I wish Newt would lay off commenting on Romney’s “poor” remarks. Everyone knows what he meant. We’re broke, and poverty in the US is a lot more pleasant than what 80% of the human race experienced for most of human history. Even paupers have or have access to TV, travel, food stamps, a change of clothes. It’s not pleasant being poor, but it could be a lot more unpleasant; and we’re broke. It’s time to be concerned about jobs and the economy, and finding ways for the poor to participate in the economy; not on tailoring yet more entitlements. We all know this. For Heaven’s sake, talk about what we need to do, not about who is the most compassionate. Compassion is good intention. Good intention butters no parsnips. We know what’s paved with good intentions.
That’s probably my miserable cold talking.