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.




Coming To America; Iraq; Polar Ice Cap Data Revision

Niven and Barnes are here, and we have a story conference.

Here is an account by my friend and former student Peter Schramm. You should read it.


Back from lunch but you should read Peter’s account of coming to America. It’s worth your time


Humiliation in Iraq:

Losing in Iraq Again

Pentagon spin can’t hide that the U.S. strategy is failing.

No matter how much the Pentagon and White House downplay it, the fall of Ramadi to Islamic State on Sunday shows that President Obama’s strategy is failing. The question now is whether Mr. Obama has the political courage to change or watch Iraq descend into more chaos and perhaps a Sunni-Shiite civil war.

For now U.S. officials prefer the sunny days school of military analysis. “Regrettable but not uncommon in warfare,” says Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Secretary of State John Kerry added that “I am absolutely confident in the days ahead that [Ramadi’s fall] will be reversed.” This recalls the generals who said in 2006 that Iraq was making progress even as hundreds turned up in the morgues each night.

In reality, the fall of Ramadi is a military humiliation and humanitarian disaster with large political consequences. The city is the provincial capital of Anbar province, Iraq’s Sunni heartland. U.S. forces waged a block-by-block battle to reclaim Ramadi from insurgents during the 2007 surge because it is crucial to the sectarian geography of Iraq. Winning there proved that the U.S. could prevail anywhere, and it provided the psychological momentum to swing the Sunnis to America’s side.

The Wall St. Journal article estimates that it will now require 10,000 men – about a division – to drive ISIS out; but they must go in now.  I would undertake to rid Iraq of the Caliphate with the 101st Airborne and the remaining Warthog close support aircraft; it might need some USAF anti SAM squadrons as well. But that would be true only if we act now.  With the Caliphate war feeds war, and each success makes expansion easier.

What we must not do is what we are doing; treating this as more of same, not a crisis. If we wait until after the election it will require a good bit more than a division with air support.


Global warming

Dear Dr. Pournelle;
Eric Gilmer

Updated data from NASA satellite instruments reveal the Earth’s polar ice caps have not receded at all since the satellite instruments began measuring the ice caps in 1979. Since the end of 2012, moreover, total polar ice extent has largely remained above the post-1979 average. The updated data contradict one of the most frequently asserted global warming claims – that global warming is causing the polar ice caps to recede.

The multi-billion dollar climate models will not operate properly without accurate data.



LG Display shows off press-on ‘wallpaper’ TV under 1mm thick

LG shows just how thin the “wallpaper” TV is during an event Tuesday. LG Display

LG Display, the screen-making subsidiary of LG, is dedicated to OLED panels, and it has unveiled an impossibly thin television to prove it.

At a press event in its home country of Korea on Tuesday, LG Display showed off a “wallpaper” proof-of-concept television. The 55-inch OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display weighs 1.9 kilograms and is less than a millimeter thick. Thanks to a magnetic mat that sits behind it on the wall, the TV can be stuck to a wall. To remove the display from the wall, you peel the screen off the mat.

The unveiling was part of a broader announcement by LG Display to showcase its plans for the future. The company said its display strategy will center on OLED technology. According to a press release, the head of LG Display’s OLED business unit, Sang-Deog Yeo, said “OLED represents a groundbreaking technology” not only for the company, but also for the industry.

The comments echo the refrain consumers have been hearing for years as display technology has evolved. The HD craze kicked into high gear years ago with technologies like LCD (liquid crystal display) and plasma, but has since been moving increasingly toward LED technology.

OLED is widely believed to be the next frontier. The technology adds an organic compound layer that allows not only for exceedingly thin screens, but for those displays to be curved. The organic material also emits its own light, eliminating the need for a backlight. That allows for such thin screens and has made OLED a desirable choice not only for televisions, but for a wide range of wearables and other mobile products. LG Display believes OLED could be the de facto display technology in all products in the future.

While some OLED screens have been used by companies like Samsung, LG and Sony, the costs are still quite high to produce the displays. Part of that cost is due to a historically low yield, or production of displays that are actually functional. More waste means higher costs on the screens that do make it through production. Those costs are then passed on to consumers. LG’s 65-inch, 4K OLED TV, for instance, costs $9,000.

On Tuesday, however, LG said that it has made significant headway in developing OLEDs. The company touted its position as the first to mass-produce large-screen OLEDs for televisions and said that its yield has hit 80 percent — a strong showing, but still lower than LCDs.

Those issues with yield, coupled with price, mean televisions like the “wallpaper” display might not make their way to store shelves at a reasonable cost anytime soon.

LG Display said Tuesday it expects to sell 600,000 OLED TV panels this year and 1.5 million next year. The company also cited comments made at the press event by Ching W. Tang, a professor at the University of Rochester in New York and “the father of OLED.” He said OLED displays will not become ubiquitous for another five to 10 years. At that point, Tang said, they could outpace LCDs in total shipments.


I never use ATM’s except in my bank itself, but if you do this is relevant:

Criminals are stealing card data from U.S. automated teller machines at the highest rate in two decades, preying on ATMs while merchants crack down on fraud at the checkout counter.

The incidents, in which thieves steal information from debit cards to make counterfeit plastic, are taking place at ATMs that are owned by banks as well as independently owned cash kiosks in shopping centers, convenience stores and restaurants, according to industry executives.

There’s a lot more. If you and tour family don’t use ATM’s it’s of no concern (although the methods described may be interesting).


I am not sure I want my computer to be this concerned with what I do.

Huawei launches ‘internet of things’ operating system    ft

Charles Clover in Beijing

Huawei, the Chinese telecoms group, has launched an operating system designed to work exclusively with internet connected objects — from cars to watches to toothbrushes — which it predicts will number more than 100bn by 2025.

William Xu, Huawei’s global head of strategy and marketing, said the company’s “Lite OS” was part of the group’s strategy to take advantage of the “internet of things”, the smart gadgets designed to connect to each other and share information about their use.

Even the humble electric toothbrush, he said, could one day “record how often and how effectively you brush your teeth, and could tell you when to do it and how to do it better”.

Mr Xu added that Huawei did not plan to join the race to make any of the dizzying array of connected devices being planned by smartphone competitors, such as smart air purifiers or smart cars.

Instead, Huawei is offering device suppliers its open source technology to connect their gadgets to the internet. “We want to provide the connections, not the devices,” he said.

An analyst who covers the company said that Huawei’s strategy was a defensive one: “Building a platform is safer when you don’t know what to build.”


The traditional lament about the lack of basic research can be found at

It is not obvious to me that the remedy is more money for peer reviewed expensive studies.


Say goodbye to your clunky air conditioner — this kitchen table uses no electricity to regulate the temperature of your apartment

Read more:

This might actually be useful if the price were reasonable.













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