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Mail 282 November 3-9, 2003







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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

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Monday November 3, 2003  

Considerable mail yesterday as I tried to catch up.

Joanne Dow on Global Warming (reference):

I quite believe that we've seen warmer weather in major portions of the world back in the 14th and 15th centuries. After all Vineland aja Newfoundland was known to Vikings for its wine grapes and Greenland was named because it really was green.

What has started to bother me is that we have cores from glaciers that seen to indicate the glaciers predate this prior era of warmth. Yet the current warming seems to be eating the glaciers up. Methinks the whole answer is not in yet.

For that matter the Sun being more active in the last 60 years throws a serious monkey wrench into Kyoto from the stand point of accusing all the purported warming being caused by humans. But if the glaciers are indeed telling a story do we need to be prepared for warming that is coming more or less in spite of anything humans may do?

As we learn more about the climate it's becoming more and more interesting.


Interesting is a good word. But humility has never been a property of those who want to Fix Things Now without regard to how much they know about the problems.

As to glaciers, there are a few that are growing, although you seldom see much about that.

Hi Jerry,

Just got round to re-subscribing sorry it's a bit later than usual.

I'd like to point you at a great programming tool I've been using for the last 18 months or so, it's called IBasic and lets you create standalone windows executables which are remarkably bloat-free, it also has one of the friendliest communities I've run across. You can also create console mode programs. It essentially gives you VisualBasic in a 3Mb download.

Get a trial version at  It's the bet $25 I've spent.

For a bit of relaxation you have to goto  and get hold of; Combat Mission - Beyond Overlord Combat Mission - Barbarossa to Berlin and shortly Combat Mission - Afrika Korps

They are superb 'we-go' games, you give your units order and 60 secs of action is played during which you can zoom around a beautiful 3D battlefield, rewind/replay the action to your hearts content.

I also recommend the community forum for these games it is populated by some of the most knowledgeable wargamer historians I've ever come across. Because the age range of the members is higher than most internet forums the quality of discussion is a joy (that's not to say that they don't have their silly-bugger moments - kept to well signposted threads).

I hope you manage to shake off the infection you've picked up and I'm glad Sable has recovered.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Regards Norman -- Norman Hills, on 02/11/03 --- This message was checked by NOD32 Antivirus System.

Thanks all around. I'll have a look at the battlefields. I am about to do some more programming just to keep my hand in; I need to find out where things have gone with C# and Visual Studio.NET, and Python; but a small and inexpensive VB sounds interesting.

I had a bit of a relapse on the upper respiratory thing but I seem to be recovering again, this time I hope for good. And the weather is cool, and Sable is now so full of energy that I had better get well enough to take her on long walks or else...

Having had a look at Battlefront I understand your enthusiasm. It looks like what Avalon Hill wanted to do but of course couldn't in the days before computers...

On Iraq:


While I agree that the continuation of American casualties in Iraq is far from desirable, the solution to hold the Iraqi army and/or police personnel individually and collectively responsible for American casualties is to create a dangerous incentive to vigilantism. If, in a poor neighborhood, an incident of gang violence leads to the government punishing the good people by witholding some or all of their income, it not only degrades their opinion of the government (and justifiably so), but it creates a financial incentive for them to prevent violence extra-legally.

This too often leads to preemptive "punishment" with nothing even remotely resembling due process -- not a good outcome when the goal is to encourage rule of law.

We have to stick it out, and offer more reward for being with the system than in opposition to it, without creating dangerous incentives through attempts to coerce loyalty. This will take time and patience, not often our strong suit, though we have done it before. Albeit it is financial in nature, I believe the proposed punishment is far too similar in nature to the coerced loyalty of the previous regime. Such an "incentive" hardly casts us as liberators, and the Iraqis are well-versed in recognizing it for what it really is.

Annlee Hines

I would not be quite so cynical as to say that Iraq is incapable of any kind of self government but "vigilantism". But in fact Committees of Vigilance were, sometimes, the only effective form of government: call it "Direct Democracy" in action. And for a good part of our history the tradition of tar and feathers and riding the flim flam man out on a rail was at least as strong as anything about First Amendment "entrenched rights"...

If we are to make Iraq self governing it must have some of the tools for doing that including police and army; at the same time we have to have casualty rates low enough to be acceptable to both the Army and the American people.


Let me add another movie to the boycott list.

John Grisham's novel "The Runaway Jury" is about a scam artist who gets himself on the jury for a high-profile case, and then offers to swing the verdict to whichever side pays him the most. In the book, the court case is a class-action suit against Big Tobacco, and both sides are depcted as essentially corrupt: Big Tobacco because it continues to market a product it knows is carcoinogenic, and the lawyers on the other side, who are motivated solely by the astronomical fees (billions of dollars, literally) that they can get from this kind of action.

The movie, just now appearing in theaters, preserves the story about the corrupt juror. The producers have however seen fit to change the case to one against gun manufacturers, seeking astronomical damages because their products are sometimes used to kill people. The defendants are now depicted as extremist right-wing murderers, while the lawyers for the plaintiffs have become pure, decent people who have no interest in their fees but are motivated only by the desire to protect the American people from the evil gun cabal.

Once again, Hollywood has taken a good story and turned it into worthless, shameless, hysterical liberal propaganda. Stay away from this movie.

Phil Chapman

 Hollywood tends to do things like that.



Subject: Major Microsoft patch re-revisions ( priority one)

Roland Dobbins

Microsoft is patching a patch. This is a critical update.



From View 11/3/03:

". . . nor does the Army demand a permanent Imperator to protect them from the Senate."

Of course, in those days, "emperor" actually was equivalent to "field marshal." At least according to Robert Graves.


Imperator was a title that could only be conferred by Roman soldiers, originally in the field after a battle: it hailed a commander as worthy to command Romans. We call the de facto chief of state after Augustus  "emperor",  but there could be more than one person who held the "Imperium"; although that was rather jealously guarded as time went on. The Romans might refer to him as "Imperator" but would be more likely to address him as "Caesar" or "Augustus". Bureaucratic reports that have survived since Nero's time refer to "himself".

 The Senate ritually passed laws making open disrespect to the Emperor a crime called "maiestas" (lese majesty in English law, although most slights to the King of England were treasons: St. Thomas More was beheaded for the treason of "denying the King his titles" when he refused to accept his old friend Henry VIII as head of the church).

The Senate also conferred on the Emperor the title of "Father of his country" and "princeps" or "First Man" from which we get the designation "Principate" for the form of government from Augustus to Diocletian. Until Diocletian the Emperor eschewed the diadem and outward forms of royalty -- in Rome. This was complicated because the Emperor could be and was worshipped in the provinces, sometimes as a god during his own lifetime, and the Senate could and often (not invariably, depending on politics of succession) declared emperors to be gods after their deaths.

The Emperor was in fact more like a permanent "Secretary of Defense". All during the Imperial period the annual elections were held, two consuls were elected, lesser officials (e.g. Praetor, Aedile, Quaestor) were elected: after all, the only way to become Senator was to have held one of the higher elective offices. But the Emperor remained as the other officers changed. He held multiple offices for life, not always the same ones, but generally Pontifex Maximus (Chief Priest of the official Roman religion); Tribune of the People for life (thus making his person sacrosanct and making it a religious as well as a civil crime to lay violent hands on him, as well as allowing him to bring laws before the citizens assembled as "tribes" rather than as Centuries); usually Censor, an office that held the power to remove Senators for cause, and also to conscript citizens to military service on pain of having their property sold at public office; and sometimes other minor offices like Aedile (supervisor of public works and grain distribution). In general the Emperor was never Consul after his first year although he generally named the candidates for the Consulship and other elective offices; certainly it was dangerous in the extreme to stand for office without the Emperor's approval.

In practice, prominent men would stand for the offices, be installed in them, and then resign in favor of more permanent civil servants, generally clients of the emperor, who would exercise the offices under imperial scrutiny. Claudius built a civil service of freedmen who actually ran the empire. Their sons were citizens, and some of the descendents of civil servants might become Emperor.

This rickety informal system endured until the successors of Aurelius. Aurelius's son wasn't much good (although he did some spectacular building); his successor was a martinet who really did want to restore the Republic and was killed by the Praetorians; and the whole system was pretty well swept away by Septimius Severus who wasn't Italian much less Roman. The Legions had discovered the dread secret that Emperors could be made in places other than Rome.

From there they got others, some weird like Elagabalus, until things really came apart. In general, though, in the early days of the Empire, the Emperor was commander in chief and the Roman political system was run through a patchwork of elective and appointed officers.


The End of An Era

I received an email from Red Hat a few minutes ago. It announces the discontinuance of Red Hat Linux. Many are calling this decision the end of an era.

As of 31 December 2003, Red Hat is discontinuing maintenance and errata support for Red Hat Linux 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, and 8.0. As of 30 April 2003, they are doing the same for Red Hat Linux 9.0. Red Hat says they have no plans to release another product in the Red Hat Linux line.

Instead, they recommend we transition to Red Hat Enterprise Linux v.3, which is not a realistic solution for individual users and many small businesses. In effect, Red Hat decided they'd never make any money selling boxed sets of Linux, and so decided to focus their efforts on enterprise users, who are obviously much less cost-sensitive.

Many current Red Hat Linux users bemoan the loss of Red Hat Linux and the Up2Date service, but as far as I can see there's no real problem. To replace Red Hat Linux, Red Hat is supporting Fedora, which is nearing its first release. < > For all practical purposes, Fedora is likely to be what Red Hat Linux used to be. While Red Hat Enterprise Linux will be on an 18-month upgrade cycle more appropriate for corporate installations, Fedora will be on the fast path upgrade cycle we've all come to know and love/hate.

As to automatic updates, I was never very happy with the Red Hat Up2Date service anyway. I've always used Ximian Red Carpet, which provides similar functions. There is a free version of Red Carpet < >. Although Red Carpet does not currently have Fedora support, presumably it will soon include the Fedora Linux release among its offerings.

I'm looking forward to Fedora. Most of the neat stuff will appear there first, and only much later in the Enterprise version.


-- Robert Bruce Thompson







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From Dave Colton

The single most important issue before the country, bar none -- it defines who we are. Vastly more vital even than victory in the Iraq campaign. Kobe or Laci Petersen.

Silence is deafening.

To the men of Omaha Beach, Iwo, St. Lo and their brothers -- we have failed you. May God forgive us.

MIAMI – It's the case that doesn't exist. Even though two different federal courts have conducted hearings and issued rulings, there has been no public record of any action. No documents are available. No files. No lawyer is allowed to speak about it. Period. Yet this seemingly phantom case does exist - and is now headed to the US Supreme Court in what could produce a significant test of a question as old as the Star Chamber, abolished in 17th-century England: How far should a policy of total secrecy extend into a system of justice?

Star Chamber. Courts unknown to the law.


Whatsoever, for any cause,
 Seeketh to take or give,
 Power above or beyond the Laws,
 Suffer it not to live!

 Holy State or Holy King-
 Or Holy People's Will-
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
 Order the guns and kill!

And see below


Following is long but worth your time:

Subj: Iraq: Jim Dunnigan/strategypage analysis

This piece reminded me of Dr. Pournelle's -- skepticism? -- some months ago, about it being a Good Idea to replace the Sunni ruling elite in Iraq: 

Dunnigan sees a civil war in progress in Iraq, between the displaced Baathist/Sunni ruling elite and the rest of the population. He expects it to get even more vicious than the civil war in Lebanon, 1975-1990. "In some Sunni Arab areas, the locals are becoming aware that American troops are actually protecting them from the wrath of Shias and Kurds seeking vengeance."

There's also a lower-intensity war, between the Islamist Shiite ideologues and the non-ideological moderate Shiites.

Dunnigan's impression is that the Baathist/Sunni thugs are not targeting the Iraqi police because they are collaborating with the Americans, nor because they are softer targets than the Americans. The thugs are targeting their true, primary enemies in the civil war: "the Shia and Kurd policemen who are restoring order in the country."

There's also a piece at 

in the item for October 30, 2003, about the infeasibility of recalling the Iraqi army. (There's no indication as to whether Dunnigan did this piece personally.)

The piece argues that "recalling the Iraqi army was moot." After the army went home, looters made the old barracks uninhabitable, tearing out even the plumbing. Personnel records vanished. And anyway, the old officer corps was selected for loyalty to Saddam.

The piece also points out how hard it is, to kick an army -- especially a conscript army -- just hard enough to knock out its will to fight, without making it disintegrate. The problem is, that if you don't kick it hard enough, you can end up getting more of your own people killed. So the tendency is to kick hard enough to be sure.

Now maybe the piece is right, and maybe it isn't. But it seems to me to cast some doubt on the claim, that retaining or recalling the old Iraqi army is something that would have been easy to do, a good idea, or both.

The piece observes that "many of those arrested ... for attacking coalition troops have been former army officers." Dr. Pournelle seems to think (maybe I misunderstood), that this is because we kicked those officers out of work. The strategypage writer seems to think that it's because those officers were Baathists in the first place.

Personally, I have no evidence one way or the other, nor do I really see how to get any.

But if the only old units that were well-led, and reasonably cohesive, were the Baathist/Sunni elite units -- which I don't think we'd want? -- we might find outselves calling back rotten bunches of conscripts with nothing but bad habits. That might be worse than starting fresh.

Are we in danger of falling into a falsely-forced choice here?

Why does it have to be either start from scratch or recall the old army? Why not try both, and see what works? Is that bureaucratically/politically infeasible? We know from our experience with education, and with NASA, that American bureaucrats tend to fixate on what they imagine to be The One Best Way To Do [whatever], long before there's any logico-experimental support for their choice. Is this the same pattern?

Maybe the thing to do is, to (ask the Iraqi Governing Council to?) invite some old-army officers, who think they could recall their units, to come in for interviews. Vet them as best we can, to try to exclude Baathists, then choose a few of the best, give them some bucks, and some supervision, and see how they do?

Or do we lack the American people, on the ground, that we'd need to supervise that?


Agreed the matter is complex. Also, it is unimportant to fix blame. My view is that the collapse was inevitable once we failed to think through the consequences of quick victory. It would not have been trivially easy to keep much of the old Iraqi security structure in place, but I do believe it would have been possible -- if that had been a recognized goal.

Note that the Army was concerned with conquest. The Neo-Cons who got us into this would not listen to any cautions about the consequences of victory. National Review had the egregious Frum denounce anyone of the old Conservatives who expressed doubts and was insufficiently enthusiastic about rolling through Iraq and bringing down the regime as soon as possible; even those who were concerned with the consequences and asked "What does the dog do with the VW when he catches it?"

The Iraqis are convinced that we allowed the looting. That is probably not really true, but they note we were able to protect the Petroleum Ministry and most of the Oil Industry. That tells them what they want to know about our goals. It is unlikely to be true: as far as I can see local commanders chose what to protect from looting, and had no real contingency plan for anarchy although that has been the nearly inevitable consequence of every siege in history.

People loot when there is no authority. They see they have returned to a state of nature and life in that state of nature is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Yes: there are exceptions. Western civilization has examples, particularly of republics that remain orderly when civil authority collapses.


It's not inevitable. In France the Communists used the collapse of the Vichy and German regimes to bring about a blood bath of non-communists. It was a second Terror but few even know about it. Looting breaks out even in American cities. One of my earliest memories is of newspaper accounts of the National Guard shooting looters in Tupelo, Mississippi after a tornado there. Detroit used to experience lawlessness every Halloween. The notion that the Shiites would try to get back at their Sunni rulers and act like Hutus when Tutsi authority collapsed must have occurred to someone. I know my daughter thought it would happen, as did I. It didn't take enormous insight into military history to anticipate looting and disorder. Nor are precedents lacking for how to keep order and transfer power.

The Army didn't think in those terms because armies generally don't. The Marines did, a bit, because Marines are more used to running places taken on short notice. But it's really the job of the political authorities to think these things through.

That's done. The question is what to do NOW.

We can:

1. Bring in More US Troops

2. Bring in More UN Troops

3. Build Iraqi Security Forces, preferably under local authority with overall US supervision.

4. Let things go on as they are.

5. Cut and run. (Declare victory and come home.)

I put it to you that 4 is impossible. The Army may or may not put up with it and not institute a massacre at some point, but the American people won't stand for it for years and years.

Choice 1 is expensive both politically and financially and if paid for by exploiting oil, morally as well.

Choice 5 will become more popular as time goes on unless real progress is seen.

That leaves 2 and 3. All this is worth debating.


A different and more cynical view:

Dear Jerry, Iraq is, of course, an artificial state. It was created, along with palestine, the transjordan etc, at the end of WWI: the irony is that you can blame the very idea of iraqi nationhood on the last western invader, Allenby.

The US hegemony now has to run an empire. You need a colonial structure that has the aim of self-destructing when the infrastructure -- both physical and political -- is in place. In india that took about 150 years: it did not take in Pakistan. The rapid move to an islamic republic, without cementing in property rights, an independant judicary, and basic human rights (speech, not food) takes time.

Some suggestions:

1. Set up a colonial administration. Including foreign magistrates. They will be hated, but should be easier to keep honest. (contract to Ireland, Scotland)

2. Raise a police force (contract to NZ and Canada).

3. Set up and arm a legion. Either borrow some UK regiments or the legion d'strangers. main aim is to protect above and do punitive raids when needed.

4. Stay there for as long as needed.

In the end, the battle will not be won or lost in Iraq. It will be lost in the United States. GW Bush does not have the power to whip his congressmen (sitting on their rotten, gerrymandered districts) into line. Too many people are interested in making this the next Vietnam. (Paradoxically, the westminster system, with the much stricter party discipline, makes for more stability in these situations).

In the meantime, the radicals are moving their hatred around. We are still mourning the kiwis and aussies killed in Bali. (The PM has just been touring the troops NZ has posted there: we have just had our first casualty -- wounded only)

The US still is leading the west. You need to keep some intestinal fortitude, accept that their will be deaths, (mourn them and avenge them) and make it clear that you will not give up to get through this.

Chris -- Christopher K Gale Auckland New Zealand working on moa, my home machine PGP key follows

It would be superfluous to point out that this is Empire.


Subject: Another look at Iraq, from a source not always sympathetic to the US

David Hecht


And On Iraqi Law

You wrote "We need to establish local Iraqi courts to determine who has clear title to property, and give them the authority to issue certificates of clear title. They can apply local law and customs; the important thing is that decisions are final, and acceptable to the local community where the property is located. Rule of law cannot prevail until there is clear title to property."

But you can't have both "clear title to property" and "They can apply local law and customs... acceptable to the local community". That's because you are taking it for granted that "Rule of law cannot prevail until there is clear title to property."

That's actually the underpinning for much of western law, but it's not the way it is under Islam. Ottoman Law, for instance, uses an underpinning idea of breach of the peace. So where Roman Law would treat murder or rape, say, as variants of taking something of value, Ottoman Law doesn't do that. In fact, if one person in a room full of people murders another, Ottoman Law treats everybody as equally guilty of not stopping the disturbance - even the victim, technically speaking. (Of course that doesn't mean that that's what Ottoman Law deals out, any more than Roman Law really does dismiss rape as mere theft - it's just the basis of the system.)

Getting back to Iraq, that means you CANNOT set up a title system while simply working within what they now have. Ottoman Law was what was in place in Iraq 85 years ago and got reworked into what they have now. First you would have to shift their system over to one that makes the concept of title more fundamental. The only sort of true property title that there already is under Islamic thinking is a sort of Glebe land, land set aside and dedicated for mosque purposes. I doubt if that sort of property ownership would help very much. P.M.Lawrence.


I.e., a Goods and Services Tax (or almost any other broad based production tax), with a Negative Payroll Tax, promotes employment.

See  and the other items on that page for some reasons why.

You clearly know more about this than I do; I can only say that until you can establish, clearly, whose house this is, you will not have either peace or any kind of basis for local government.

It may well be more complicated than I think. Most things turn out to be. It's still the only path I see to where we think we want to go.

Of course the successors to the Othmanli may be the proper ones to apply Ottoman law... ( I say this in whimsy, I hasten to add.)



Subj: Battlefield computing: a hacker in every squad? 

The item for November 4, 2003 discusses how the Army is coming to terms with the reality of battlefield computing. In particular, the troops _will_ bring their own computers along, and they _will_ use them. At the same time, the official "battlefield Internet" is mission-critical.

To the extent that the official systems are based on civilian products the troops already know, there's a saving both in training time and in support "tail".

Reminds me of the WW2 situation, in which just about every American soldier knew the basics of the care and feeding of motor vehicles, and you didn't have to look far to find a good mechanic.

=quote=But that put the spotlight on another opportunity; keeping track of the computer skills of all troops. The army has always been lax in noting special skills (languages, technical abilities) of troops, even when these same skills are often desperately needed. Now the army is seriously considering identifying the geeks, so they can be gathered together for emergencies. This was actually done, in an informal and inefficient manner, for the Iraq campaign. But as soldiers have been saying for centuries; "we'll do it better next time."=end quote=


You could see that one coming...


In a lighter vein:

Subject: National Novel Writing Month

I'm not sure if you've heard of this -- if not, you might find it amusing.

November is National Novel Writing Month ( ). The idea is, essentially, to write an entire novel in one month -- not a *good* novel, necessarily, though I suppose it's possible someone is. In truth the minimum goal is not actual novel length -- 50,000 words is more properly a novella -- but for most people it's challenging nonetheless. The faq on the site is very tongue-in-cheek, and I found it a hoot to read.

At any rate, it's probably contributing to the decline of Western Civilization (I can almost hear the existential anguish of english literature teachers the world over) but I have to admit that it's been a great deal of fun so far. So in the event that you're getting a bit tired of news about Mircosoft viruses, the stupidity of bearaucrats, and the long-running decline of the American Republic, I thought I'd pass this along.


Christopher B. Wright (

 Actually, I wrote BIRTH OF FIRE in one week flat, back in the 70's. It's 55,000 words, has been in and out of print ever since, and is optioned as a major motion picture...


One of the easiest is to do an export / import between the 2 machines. The big trick is to remember which direction you are going. Not that anything bad will happen (as long as time wasted has no value). The other minus is it can take a while to execute when the number of messages is large.

Start OutLook, File, Import & export, Export to a file, Personal folder file (.pst), select Personal folders (top of list), check Include subfolders, Browse to the export file location & select option Replace duplicates..., and Finish.

The .pst should be put onto a network share that both systems can see. Or store the backup on the notebook & do the restore when there is time later.


That will do it, but even with 100 mbit Ethernet it sure is slow... 

I think that this site might be of help. They have a lot of plugins, etc. for Outlook and Exchange.

I'd look up the info, but am pretty busy. Was just keeping up on your site when I read the Outlook question.

Best Regards,

Doug Hayden

I will have a look. Thanks


jr's advice on exporting and importing the entire .pst files is good when the .pst files are small, but is slow when they are big. It's much quicker to synch the recently sent or received mail separately. Just do this: when exporting, select the Inbox, click the Filter button (on the same page as the "include subfolders" check box, and select "received" and "in the last 7 days". Then do the same for the Sent mail, except select "sent" and "in the last 7 days".

It might be even possible to select the Personal folders and select "modified" and "in the last 7 days", but I have never tried that.

That ought to work. I'll try it.


Good work in Saudi for a change, and the Saudi Arabian government finds and wipes out another cell of terrorists who quite obviously had nothing but chaos in mind.

It seems like we've been hearing about more and more of these kinds of incidents in Saudi Arabia... Maybe now that we're officially out of there, the Saudi government feels like they can crack down on their militant wacko elements without losing face? If so, it sure would be nice if Saudi Arabia will be taking a leadership role in favor of regional stability. No matter how much you like/dislike the US, the "progressive" gulf countries can't be too pleased to have these militant groups based in-house.

It would also be nice if they realize a terrorist is a terrorist, no matter who he's targeting.

Sean Long


And a timely observation:


Has there ever been a "war on" that was won? War on Poverty? War on Crime? War on Drugs? None of those certainly. Makes me wonder if the label isn't a warning sign.

Roy Harvey Beacon Falls, CT

Won by whom?





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Wednesday, November 5, 2003 Guy Fawkes Day


Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Hi, Dr. Pournelle,

Today is Guy Fawkes Day, celebrating the thwarting of the plot to blow up the London Parliament in 1605. The history of the Gunpowder Plot is discussed at   and other places, if you're interested in more details.

As a kid in Scotland, I set off fireworks with everyone else, and the tradition continued when I moved to South Africa, then back to England. I didn't think about it much until I moved to Ireland four years ago. Here, Halloween is the night on which bonfires are lit and fireworks set off, yet these traditions started in the London celebrations after the Gunpowder Plot was foiled. Guy Fawkes Day is not mentioned at all in Ireland, and the only reason I can think of is the fact that the 1605 conspirators were Catholic. Had they succeeded, would today thus be a national holiday in Ireland? (This is a country where the history is the history of religion - a bit like Saudi Arabia.)

The more I think about the Gunpowder Plot, the more parallels I see with the world situation today. The Gunpowder Plot was, after all, a terrorist threat to a government, albeit one that wasn't a democracy in the modern sense. The world order would be very different had it succeeded in wiping out King James I and most of the English government, as was planned.

Imagine what would have happened had the plots of two years ago had been foiled: wouldn't September 11 be a national holiday in the USA, on a par with Thanksgiving? (If only.) One might, facetiously, name the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 as the birth of Terrorism - which, in my opinion, makes it worth being aware of!

Best wishes for the holiday season,

Brian Thomson Dublin, Ireland

There are other parallels. Walsingham's secret police (later Cecil's secret service) set back the trend from Magna Charta by quite a lot. Parliamentary corruption and arrogance culminated in judicial murders, such as Algernon Sydney. And of course came the day in 1649 (1648 actually because in those times January 1 was not the first day of the next year) when Charles I "King and Martyr" had his head struck off in front of his own Banqueting House...

There was a time when most educated people in the United States were pretty familiar with the English Civil War from Ship Money and Star Chamber to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Many had read Macauley. Ah well.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

The biggest flare ever. 

Patrick A. Hoage

Interesting times...

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I don't know if I feel safer by I do feel very confused. 

<SNIP> The Transportation Security Administration plans to replace some federal passenger and baggage screeners with private security forces at New York's LaGuardia Airport starting Nov. 1. But federal screeners oppose the move, claiming TSA is trying to do an end-run around federal law and is putting airport security at risk. </SNIP>

I thought the private screeners were replaced after 9/11 because they weren't as reliable, or the government didn't have enough control over security, or the government wanted to ensure reliability standards, or something. Now we are going back? Was the last 2 years all just a bad dream? Maybe we have ended up in bureaucrat's hell. They have determined that they are unnecessary and are in the first stages of eliminating the Agency. You think?

Patrick A. Hoage

No data. Clearly TSA isn't much use; but what is going on here I don't know.

RE: the tank

Dr. Pournelle,

I read the story in the Army Times about the damaged tank. While I may have misunderstood the article, I do not believe the possibility of some sort of discarding sabot munition was discussed. A sabot round can send a small projectile through rather thick armor. Any thoughts from your side of the fence?

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis,

Douglas Knapp

No data.

Jerry, The link about the tank that readers will want is:  Within this article is a link with pictures of the tank in question.

November 5, 2003: The "Mystery Projectile" that caused the penetration of an M-1 tanks side armor was probably a Russian RPG-7V or similar type. This is an improved version with wave shaper in the HEAT warhead. The pictures (see here) <

of the penetration show classic HEAT warhead circular flash and light material splash (aluminum or similar from outer warhead casing) in a roughly circular area and at between 500 - 800 mm radius around the penetration hole. It also seems as if the entry hole on the skirt plate has a ragged and enlarged hole. This is consistent with wave shaped warheads that do not have optimal performance at point of impact as the jet is still being focused. In pictures 2-5 there is virtually no spalling around the inside exit hole and immediately adjacent interior equipment. Only items directly in penetration path has been punctured or splashed with molten copper (see gun guard picture). It appears as if the jet was disrupted and started deflagrating by interior components spaced effect and material compositions. The last picture shows residual heat discoloration on the switch box, which is typical of molten metal heat transfer and short-circuit effects as can be expected when you send conductive liquid or particles into an electrical box.

The damage done is similar in appearance to that done to other armored vehicles that have been penetrated by an RPG-7. In this case, the round hit one of the few areas on the side of the tank that was vulnerable to penetration by an RPG round.

Enjoy, Jim Laheta


Subj: Damaged Abrams tank - mystery weapon identified

Douglas Knapp asked about the "damaged tank".

Jim Dunnigan's strategypage says the mystery is solved:

See the item for November 5, 2003. Just an advanced RPG that hit a weak spot.


I will defer to those who have looked at the matter. Thanks.



This is what happens when criminals know they will not be facing firearms: 

This was happening a lot in new Zealand when we were there in 1999, and since has spread to Australia.


Amazing! Who would have thunk it? But everyone MEANT well.

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

>> There was a time when most educated people in the United States were pretty familiar with the English Civil War from Ship Money and Star Chamber to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Many had read Macauley. Ah well. <<

I'd say most educated people still do. A much smaller percentage of people nowadays are educated, of course.

And speaking of the Gunpowder Plot, here's an interesting link:

=-Plot-was-Guy-normous-name_page.html >

(If you post this, you might want to use < > instead of that monster link. If you ever need to shorten a link, visit .)

The scientists quoted think that the 2,500 kilograms of blackpowder Fawkes used "would have devastated much of London". According to them, "severe structural damage" would have occurred within a 1/3 mile radius of the explosion.

I suspect they're badly wrong about the effects of a 1/363rd kiloton explosion. Only 5,500 pounds of a low-order explosive like blackpowder detonated below ground level would be very unlikely to cause severe structural damage to buildings more than 1/3 mile away, not least because most of the explosive effect would have been directed upwards. Also, blackpowder, like ammonium nitrate/fuel oil, is a heaving explosive rather than a shattering one. The low-frequency ground wave it generated would be unlikely to have sufficient amplitude at that distance to knock down buildings. Indeed, it would likely do no more than shake things up and knock things off shelves, unless London buildings in 1605 were very badly built. Compare, for example, the effects of the Oklahoma City bomb, which was detonated at ground level and used a more brissant explosive.

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

If a smaller percentage of the population is educated today than in the times when I grew up, it certainly isn't for lack of money spent. Which is itself a commentary on modern times.

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

Ran across this over at slashdot. Succinct history on the day and a damage estimate if he would have been successful.

A brief history:

The damage estimate:

Enjoy, Brian

C Northcote Parkinson, one of the best writers of the 70's and 80's (Parkinson's Law, The Law and the Profits, etc. etc.) did a book on this, and concluded that the Plot, while sort of real, never got very far and was then encouraged by the government in order to continue Elizabeth's secret police service. He makes a good case.

Plots have often helped the government more than the plotters, and have long been used as an excuse for Power Above and Beyond the Law...

With all this [above, on Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot] as introduction, here is David Colton on How Republics Die, Part 2

(Continued from above)

The heavily censored Petition for Cert. [He attaches the petition, a 1 mb pdf file. I have no URL for it.]

Reading the document -- and the precedent the Administration seeks to create -- is stunning. Note, but for a clerk's error, no one would have known that this case even existed. Ponder that.

No parallel in U.S. jurisprudence regarding such normalized and unaccountable secret suspension habeus corpus. (Alleged parallels to earlier efforts to protect the identities of cooperating drug dealers are inapposite).

DoJ claims that these staggering measures are necessary:

(a) to preserve security;

and (b) because the U.S. justice system is neither efficient or predictable. Raison d'etat requires the subordination of the judicial system.

The Tudors and Stuarts used these exact arguments before the Civil War and subsequent dictatorship/Protectorate. Almost verbatim. The Star Chamber is not a nation of laws but of men. And DoJ would do well to ponder Sir Thomas Wentworth's (Earl Strafford) use of the Star Chamber. A main beneficiary was a plantation in Massachusetts.

As a Republican and supporter of the war against Islamists, the tragedy unfolding here for our future is sad beyond words. We are witnesses to a dream strangled before our eyes.

David Colton

Note that Dave is a well regarded Washington attorney as well as an old friend. We were both advisors to Newt Gingrich when he was Minority Whip.

How Republics Die, Part 3

From the law firm Goldstein & Howe ( ):

re MKB case

"As the docket reflects, the U.S. Solicitor General two weeks ago "waived" the right to respond to the petition. The case was "distributed" to the Court on October 23. In most instances, a law clerk would file a "pool memorandum" to 8 of the 9 Justices (all but Justice Stevens), which would be due today. That memorandum would address whether the Court should direct the S.G. to respond to the petition.

But this is an unusual case. It is sealed, and apparently for national security reasons. We don't know what internal procedures the Court uses in such an unusual circumstance. In every term, there are a half-dozen to a dozen "sealed" cases, but they rarely are sealed on the basis of national security.

If the Court does call for the Solicitor General to respond, the government's brief would be due 30 days later, although the S.G. can and generally does request a 30-day extension. Even if a response is requested, cert. is unlikely to be granted as a statistical matter. According to data we've just collected and will publish on the blog in the coming days, the Court hears only around 1 in 20 "pauper" cases like this one in which it requests a response.

Presentedly, the Justices are scheduled to consider the case at their November 7 conference. If no response is requested, the Court will deny cert. on Monday, November 10. The Court will not grant cert. without first calling for a response."


As of yesterday, reports indicate at least one Justice did ask the Administration for a response -- but without a time deadline.


Perspective is naturally helpful. This case, compared to FCC high definition rules or the status of OMB's e-Gov initiatives, is what it is.

Article [VI]. (1791)

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

The language seems plain enough, and the intent was plain enough. It was somewhat tested in  the matter of The Alien and Sedition Laws and that's another of those matters we used to learn about in 8th Grade, at least in rural Tennessee in the 1930's. I guess we can't afford to teach such things today.

The outcome of the matter was that the laws were not declared unconstitutional -- the Supreme Court had not asserted the right to do that -- but were rescinded, the fines restored, and all those convicted under the acts were pardoned by Jefferson. It was a different approach to Constitutional matters. I think such things are not frequently taught today.

Dear Jerry:

This discussion is after the time frame of my stage play, MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy, but here are the facts I recall. Walsingham died in 1591. The secret service was taken over by Robert Cecil and it was he who instituted such innovations as the Star Chamber, which I think he modeled on the Spanish Inquisition, some of whose tactics had been used under Queen Mary. Certainly Thomas Kyd was tortured before he laid accusations of heresy against Christopher Marlowe (the two were roommates and probably more) but that was in 1593.

Marlowe died under very mysterious circumstances. It looks, even now, like a hit. The other three men in the room were all agents of the Secret Service. As for Guy Fawkes, I don't know. I didn't get that far, but it was soon enough after that Cecil would have still been running the shop. What you wrote is reminiscent of the Babbington Plot in 1585. There those involved were encouraged by the Secret Service inflitrator in their midst, Robert Poley, who was, by probably no coincidence, one of the men who murdered Marlowe.

Regards, Francis Hamit

Parkinson lays it all out in great detail, but it has been a while since I read it. The moral of the story is that secret services have their own agendas...




If that wasn't enough to worry about:


Google has implemented a new feature where you can type someone's telephone number into the search bar and hit enter and you will be given a map to their house.

Think about it - if a child, single person, or anyone gives out his/her phone number, someone can actually look it up and find out where he/she lives. (It's worse than this - a predator could just place calls until he finds a target, then google search the address.) The safety issues are obvious, and alarming. This is not a hoax, mapquest will actually put a star on your house on your street...In order to test whether your phone number is mapped, go to and type your phone number in the search bar with dashes (e.g.555-555-1212) and hit enter. Note, if your phone number is not public you should be fine. If you want to BLOCK Google from divulging your private information, simply click on the telephone icon next to your phone number. You will see a link where you are allowed to remove yourself.

Please, please, everyone do this! Let everybody you know...know about this.

------------------------------------------- I thought this was a hoax until I went to Google and put in my home phone number. I got my and my wife's name along with our street address. Included were links to Yahoo! Maps and Mapquest. This is scary stuff. If you value your privacy, go to Google and check your phone number.

Braxton S. Cook

I put in my phone numbers and nothing happens. I then tried another of a friend who doesn't have unlisted phone got his name and "Beverly Hills" as the address. He actually lives in Sherman Oaks. Clicking on the map did nothing.

The Author Services phone number gives the address but still no map. My Hollywood Agent's number got nothing. My New York Agent's number got a lot, including the web site addresses of most of her clients like Spider Robinson, but again no map.  I haven't tried for the kids down the street; I'm a bit afraid to. But it's not quite as frightening as it looks: if you haven't got a listed number and address, this doesn't find you.

Sue says: In my case, your writer is absolutely correct. And I did click on the phone to have myself removed.


So if your number is listed, they can find you, BUT

 Dr. Pournelle:

Regarding the Google Phone Number Lookups...this has been around for a while, and is good fodder for the conspiracy theorists and the paranoid. There aer any number of sources on the Internet that will do that, for free or fee. ( A Google on "reverse phone directory" showed over 500K results.)

But my quick testing of the Google links doesn't show it to be very helpful. I tried several numbers, including one my parents have had for 40+ years, and got no results. I've tried other 'white pages' type lookups, and they aren't very efficient either; they are usually wrong or not found.

So, it would appear that there are better things to worry about.

Rick Hellewell, Security Dweeb,

Which is pretty much my conclusion but some people may be disturbed by all this and  ought to know...


Dear Jerry

Very well said.

A speech at the USAFA.


Douglas M. Colbary


And on the following:

Dr. Pournelle,

That guy who shot the lawyer in front of the courthouse may qualify as a hero instead of a wacko. It almost sounds like a justified shoot.

From a CNN report: (
courthouse.shooting.ap/index.html )

--begin quote

Strier's civil attorney, Steven Trolard, has said his client injured three disks in his back last year in a car accident and won a $100,000 settlement, which was kept in a trust fund administered by a court-appointed trustee and attorney.

Strier's doctor recommended surgery to repair the disks, but the trustee, Evelyn Murphy, and Curry, who was Murphy's attorney, would not release the money, Trolard said Sunday in a telephone interview.

At a hearing just before Friday's shooting, Murphy was removed from the case, but not before she and Curry were authorized to withdraw more than $6,000 from Strier's trust for their work, Trolard said.

--end quote

So this guy gets hurt in an accident, gets a settlement, but although the lawyers won't release the money for his medical treatment, they feel free to dip their grubby hands into the trust fund to pay themselves before they ditch the client? As if the accident itself wasn't enough to ruin the client's life, they had to withhold the money needed for his medical procedures and then take money from him as payment for ensuring he couldn't get his back fixed?

After reading that, shooting the lawyer sounds like a great idea. Too bad he missed and couldn't go after the trustee too. At least the lawyer will carry around one un-removed bullet in his neck to remind him of what happens when he plays god with other people's lives.

I know we can't have people going around shooting lawyers all the time, but if nobody else will keep the bloodsuckers in check, there has to be some system in place to halt abuses of the system. A law degree seems like nothing more than a license to take money in return for playing with people's lives, and this shooter is the first one in a long time to actually do anything about it.

Sean Long

Yes, I saw that at the time. My remark was that it was a good start, and my wife told me to wash my mouth out with soap. I don't really condone shooting down lawyers in front of the court house.

I might be persuaded to help pay for some fuel for the tar pot to be kept bubbling out there...


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Francis Hamit wrote: "The secret service was taken over by Robert Cecil and it was he who instituted such innovations as the Star Chamber, which I think he modeled on the Spanish Inquisition, some of whose tactics had been used under Queen Mary. "

I believe that Mr. Hamit is remembering incorrectly. The Star Chamber dates back to the reign of Edward IV; its original use was to intimidate the godfathers (a/k/a "feudal nobility") who treated the regular assizes with contemptuous violence (of course, we know what road is paved with good intentions). See the Paston letters for the state of armed anarchy that Englnd had fallen into.

The Tudors and early Stuarts were not particularly innovative in the means of internal security/oppression; the innovator was Edward IV, who was determined (particularly after the abortive restoration of Henry VI) that his dynasty be fixed on the throne and that the nobility of England, grown presumptuous during the incompetent reign of Henry, be brought to heel. Again, good intentions, etc.

------------------------------------------------ John W. Braue, III <>

"Gold cannot always get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can always get you gold" -- Niccolò Machiavelli

I should have caught that. Star Chamber grew out of the Court of Chivalry, which was a part of the King's Court. Henry VII, that old serpent, set it up to stand on its own.

The Court of Star Chamber was a court of law which evolved from meetings of the king's royal council. Although its roots go back to the medieval period, the court only became powerful as a separate entity during the reign of Henry VII. In 1487 the court became a judicial body separate from the king's council, with a mandate to hear petitions of redress.

Hampden and some of the early Parliamentary partisans called it a "Court unknown to the law" but in fact it wasn't; and its use was largely against really powerful nobility.

Shakespeare in Merry Wives (I thought Henry IV, but I was mistaken) has Falstaff threaten to make a Star Chamber matter of some trivial law suit, to the amusement of his audience. And of course Wolsey made considerable use of Star Chamber under Henry VIII, until he was himself caught in the threads. ("Had I served my God half so well as I served my king, He would not leave me to die in this horrible place," a rather chilling set of last recorded words."

Which set me off to find what Shakespeare had Wolsey say at his end:

Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

And enough. We all of us have work to do...






This week:


read book now


Thursday, November 6, 2003

Continuing the discussion:

Dr Pournelle,

The Star Chamber

Upon investigation, it seems the Court of Star Chamber never pronounced a death sentence and was, at least during most of its time under the Stuarts, an open court. James I of England and VI of Scotland, and Charles I encouraged people to go to the Court of Star Chamber with there grievances rather than the regular court system-- an interesting concept of competing court systems. Perhaps there might be something to be said for competing privatised court systems today?

Anyway it was abolished by Parliament in 1641 and was thus one of the Causes of the English Civil War.

All in all, it’s reputation was worse that reality, and so may not be so applicable to today’s situation as all that.

Which leads into the interesting question of secret courts in general. I would have thought that it is relevant to consider here that Stalin did not hold secret trials but on the contrary, very public show trials. Similarly Hitler, particularly following the 20th July Plot. There were secret imprisonments and executions under both regimes, of course, but nothing like a trial preceded these. Hence it must be asked, “What is the point of a secret trial?”

Jim Mangles

You ask good questions. More when I get back from the day's errands.


I received this today from a friend and thought you would enjoy it.

>Subject: Airport > The writer and his wife live in LA and both work for Uncle Sam.

A Day at Baltimore Airport

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope that you will spare me a few minutes of your time to tell you about something that I saw on Monday, October 27. I had been attending a conference in Annapolis and was coming home on Sunday. As you may recall, Los Angeles International Airport was closed on Sunday, October 26, because of the fires that affected air traffic control.

Accordingly, my flight, and many others, were canceled and I

wound up spending a night in Baltimore. My story begins the next day. When I went to check in at the United counter Monday morning I saw a lot of soldiers home from Iraq. Most were very young and all had on their desert camouflage uniforms. This was a change from earlier, when they had to buy civilian clothes in Kuwait to fly home. It was a visible reminder that we are in a war. It probably was pretty close to what train terminals were like in World War II. Many people were stopping the troops to talk to them, asking them questions in the Starbucks line or just saying "Welcome Home." In addition to all the flights that had been canceled on Sunday, the weather was terrible in Baltimore and the flights were backed up. So, there were a lot of unhappy people in the terminal trying to get home, but nobody that I saw gave the soldiers a bad time. By the afternoon, one plane to Denver had been delayed several hours. United personnel kept asking for volunteers to give up their seats and take another flight. They weren't getting many takers. Finally, a United spokeswoman got on the PA and said this, "Folks. As you can see, there are a lot of soldiers in the waiting area. They only have 14 days of leave and we're trying to get them where they need to go without spending any more time in an airport then they have to. We sold them all tickets, knowing we would oversell the flight. If we can, we want to get them all on this flight. We want all the soldiers to know that we respect what you're doing, we are here for you and we love you." At that, the entire terminal of cranky, tired, travel-weary people, a cross-section of America, broke into sustained and heartfelt applause. The soldiers looked surprised and very modest. Most of them just looked at their boots. Many of us were wiping away tears. And, yes, people lined up to take the later flight and all the soldiers went to Denver on that flight. That little moment made me proud to be an American, and also told me why we will win this war.

Administrative Judge

United States Department of Defense

William E. Haynes Col., USAF, Ret

The notion that soldiers are not encouraged to wear uniforms on or off duty is very strange to me. I suppose Kipling understood it.

And I learn this morning that Jessica Lynch was raped. Whether before or after both her legs were broken is not clear.


Jerry, the link below is to an article at that describes PG&E outsourcing information on the California power grid to engineers in Thailand. Why worry about security measures against terrorist threats when we're evidently willing to just give them all the information they need to ruin our power and economy?!!!

Ted Borreson

And then

The Butler Case

See the 8 November issue of New Scientist. The story is taking on a life of its own, particularly among non-US scientists.

That and a general perception that the US is virulently anti-Islamic is making it very hard for me to convince promising scientists and engineers from the Islamic world to consider working with Americans or in American laboratories. They'll work with me, but they don't want anything to do with Americans in America.

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior.

You will excuse me, but just at the moment I do not much care what scientists and engineers from the Islamic world think. Perhaps in a couple of hours. You might ask them what they think of a civilization that routinely rapes 19 year old girls: either with two broken legs, or thoughtfully breaks her legs after they are finished. The answers may be instructive.

Perhaps your friends have not yet seen virulence of the American variety. Yet.

On New Scientist


Two From New Scientist:

Who would have expected this outcome eh? A nire fine example of pure bureaucratic incompetence in the name of "safety". Hey! A new slogan - "Safety through Stupidity"

US crackdown on bioterror is backfiring 

<snip> And if any terrorist ever does make off with dangerous bacteria, it will be a brave scientist who tells the FBI. As one put it: "I don't want to end up in a cell with Tom Butler." <snip>


The energizer bunny is nothing compared to this puppy!

Voyager says goodbye to Solar System 

 - Paul

Apparently the Muslims are not alone in stupid arrogance. God save us. The Army is a great deal more competent than the FBI and its clownish leadership. God save us.

Dr Pournelle,

After reading the New Scientist article on the new security rules for biological agents that are weaponizable I can only say I feel so much safer. We'll being dying in droves and the government will not be able to tell where the problem originated, or possibly even what it is.

For true security we need secure borders. We need open courts and judges that do not try to make law. A national ID that is difficult to forge would make it easier to separate americans from foreigners, but would make a police state and/or empire that much easier. But given the choice between privacy (something I think is more and more just a fantasy) and openess/transparancy, I will take the openess and transparancy in society. And americans of arab/muslim descent will have a rough life until their "brothers" stop making war on the US, especially the young males.

And yes, I would not want to be an Iraqi male anywhere near where Ms. Lynch was captured, raped and held. There will be reprisals (not sanctioned, of course) as it now stands.

I consider myself reasonably educated, but by the standards of rural Tennessee of the late 30's I am woefully undereducated. But I read continuously and widely, so am always learning. Your site is a great one to find new places to explore. Keep up the good work.

Don Scherer

"DOS Computers, manufactured by millions of companies, are by far the most popular, with about 70 million machines in use worldwide. Macintosh fans, on the other hand, may note that cockroaches are far more numerous than humans, and that numbers alone do not denote a higher life form." -Douglas Adams



This sounds like something you might put together. 

Do you think this is ever going to happen? I hope so, as long its done by the U.S. and our friends. We do live at the bottom of a well...


I have known Dave Criswell for about 30 years. His numbers check out. Now we just need space access at airlines prices. Lunar power vs. Space Solar Power Satellites is a matter for calculation; but until we have low cost access to orbit neither one makes economic sense. Of course for $87 billion I could get you low cost access to orbit. NASA can't, but I could.

Refreshing Honesty in Airline Travel! 

Mark Huth

"Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards." Fred Hoyle

Me too.






This week:


read book now


Friday, November 7, 2003

Column Time and this cough is driving me wild. Short Shrift.

On Voyager:

I saw this earlier today and was both happy and sad. Our parents did so much. They put a man on the moon and have now sent a probe outside the Solar System. We created the Hairclub for Men, Viagra, and breast implants while letting NASA destroy all chances we'll ever have of getting into space. It is great to think that sometime in the distant future, some race somewhere in the universe might know that we existed before we faded away while squabbling over whose God was bigger.  l

Braxton S. Cook

That's National Greatness for you.

On Home Invasion


As if to emphasize my point about home invasions and unarmed citizenry, here is an example of an armed citizen: 

and what the authorities did to him. I am reminded that, in a time when armed robbery was common in New York City and cops hardly stirred, NYC's finest sent 1500 men down into the subway when Bernard Goetz had the temerity to shoot his attackers.


But what did you expect?

Ed writes about home invasions: "This was happening a lot in new Zealand when we were there in 1999, and since has spread to Australia."

Far from having "spread to" Oz, it was a major problem when we were there from mid-98 through -99. When we were relocated, we (accidentally) ended up in a fairly pony part of town, and virtually every house on our block was home invaded--except ours. The difference? Our very large dog. Gated fences, bright lights, alarms--all of that was meaningless. Alarms sent too many false positives to be taken seriously when the boy finally wasn't just CRYING wolf. A fence is easy to climb, and much nicer to hide behind while the family is tied up. It's a bad scene, and I shudder to think about how the anti-gun lobby here is gaining so much ground. Really scary.

To the poor folks living in countries with no rights to bear arms, get the biggest dog you can find, and love him well so he'll love you back and protect you and your home.

Cheers, -k


Dr. P-

As to the question of what to do with the ______ that mistreated PFC Lynch.

Perhaps, as you note that first reaction may not be the best way of responding to a problem, no matter how satisfying it may be at the time.

The Army Times for the week of 4 November 03 reports in a sidebar article that a USMC Captain and Lance Corporal will be facing negligent homicide charges owing to the death of a prisoner in their care.

It appears that, at the time of his capture, the SOB had an American weapon traceable to the 507th Maintenance Company (No further information provided). As lawyer, and a former Interrogator, that man, I would like to talk to. He may have gotten a little bit less than he deserved.

I would take delight in reminding him that witnessing and failing to stop or report a war crime, is a war crime in itself, and the name of his compatriots might well be the difference between a prison sentence and the gallows.

Unfortunately the Captain and Lance Corporal will be punished for allowing the source to expire before the sum total of his knowledge was extracted and processed.

I might even like to see if a rope might be woven of hog bristle and offer to arrange for a deluxe pigskin leather lined coffins for him and his mates after the execution. Unusually special treatment, but probably deserved. Sadly as the carrying out of such a plan would, in itself, be a war crime, I'd have to be satisfied with proving to him how the shari'a condemns his actions and that he should, in fact, look forward to Allah's well deserved vengeance in the hereafter.

We appear to have been denied an opportunity to establish another "most wanted" list, which might be pursued with a degree of gusto, not just the obligation of compliance with orders.

Until Next time,

Looking forward to further discourse


No trees were harmed in the transmission of this message. However, a rather large number of electrons were temporarily inconvenienced.



Dear Dr. Pournelle,

> So how did we get into Iraq where Saddam was not a nice guy, but sure wasn't any threat to the US? He had been deterred. There is still no convincing evidence that Iraqi agents aided or abetted the 911 plotters, or were involved in the Cole incident, or otherwise were involved in direct attacks on the US.

I remember considering the possibility that Saddam was "deterred" back in February '03. The way it looked at the time: Saddam is too dumb to be deterred. I think your own words from Feb. 14 still ring true:

"He has had many chances. Even after the State of the Union he had a chance. He steadfastly refuses to act in his own interest, he fires missiles at our airplanes, he plays silly games of hide and go seek with the UN and thinks that outwitting Inspector Blix is a good thing to do: he has shown himself to be unclear on the concepts, and he has too many resources at his disposal; and he doesn't understand that now is the time to show the Senate and People of the United States that he is not and will never be a threat. "

We are pretty sure now that Saddam lacked the capabilities we feared. That doesn't change the fact that it was criminally stupid of him to keep trying to look scary. We have some evidence that he was interested in appearing to have WMD to earn respect in the local political arena; is it really a bad idea to discourage nuclear proliferation, even phantom proliferation? On the other hand, is it worth this cost to make an example of this offender? I don't know.

On the gripping hand, that point-that it is terminally unhealthy to try to pass yourself off as an enemy to the People of the United States-would have been best made by simply marching in, killing Saddam and his sons and henchmen, then getting out of Iraq. We're engaged in nation-building instead, which tells me that sending this message was not our goal.

Max Wilson

None of which I can disagree with. Yes: at one time I was convinced that Saddam was both too dumb to be deterred, and had actually worked against the United States in ways that deserved retaliation. O was, of course, operating on the same information everyone else had, and I trusted that those who had access to more and better information were interpreting it correctly -- and those were their conclusions.

But even as we began preparations for the invasion I kept asking: what do we do once we have won? And after a while it became clear that the National Greatness people hadn't really thought that out. We'd go in, it would be a cakewalk, Iraq would love us for it, the Arabs would now work their hearts out to get the oil flowing, and all would be well, and all would be well, and all would be well.

And all that is spilt milk under the bridge. It's still time to ask: what now? Are we really going to spend upwards of $50 billion a year on occupation costs? While we export the jobs of the people who pay the taxes?




Bringing Mars to the classroom The straight-talking, chess-loving Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, has a new cause to champion - the British mission to land on Mars. 

"I sometimes feel we are waging a battle for science against obscurantism in whole areas of public life which are very important and which we need to take on," he [British education secretary] said in his speech at the National Maritime Museum.

obscurantism - defined in the Oxford Dictionary as the practice of preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known.


I suspect the first man to set foot on Mars will be remembered long after Saddam Hussein and those who deposed him, and the President who presided over his destruction, have long been forgotten.

National Greatness is achieved in ways other than toppling statues of petty tyrants.


I really don't think we'll ever build a stable government in Iraq because the Iraquis won't accept anything we build. As Machiavelli pointed out, whatever we set up will be viewed as a puppet, hated, and deposed the moment we stop propping it up. I'd suggest putting the worst possibility in charge, making sure they know he's a puppet, then cutting his strings, but I don't like the idea of being responsible for the following bloodbath.

More seriously, I also don't think we'll be able to set up a working democracy. Like most Middle Easterners, the people of Iraq don't believe that winning an election gives somebody the right to govern. They seem to follow the maxim that Might Makes Right. Whoever has the power to control the area and the will to do what's needed to do so has the right to be in charge. If he loses his power, or hasn't the will to do the dirty when needed, he also loses the right and deserves to be kicked out. This, I suspect, is why the diehards are still fighting. Not that they don't think we're strong enough, but that they don't believe, deep down, that we're ruthless enough. If they keep on hitting, they're sure we'll give up. And, the sad thing is, they may be right for the wrong reason. After all, we don't plan (I hope) on staying there forever. When we finally leave, the diehards will claim that they won, and forced us out.

Who knows? Maybe giving Iraq back to Turkey is the best answer. It wouldn't be our problem anymore, the Turks have experience running that area, and they're certainly ruthless enough. Would it be right? I don't know. Would it work? Probably.

-- Joe Zeff

The only problem with trouble-shooting is that sometimes trouble shoots back.

In fact, counting noses in an election is not particularly more persuasive as a source of legitimacy than many other ways. If we believe consent of the governed is the only source of just power, we still need to ascertain how the governed consent, and to what.

You think we are probably not ruthless enough. I fear we may become so.

But what do we do now?

Dr. Pournelle: You wrote:

"Soldiers of Iraq: we have determined Saddam Hussein and his sons, and the following others, to be reasonably suspected of war crimes; they will be apprehended and tried. Prepare for an orderly transition of government in the absence of these named individuals. Turn them over to us and our invasion will cease. Otherwise we will come and take them.

Your implication seems to be that there was a viable alternative for regime change other than invasion (assuming one has decided that regime change is a good idea in the first place--a big assumption).

If you have a mechanism or technique for plucking Saddam, his sons, and about fifty other bastards out of Iraq without conquering the country first, I'd really like to hear about it. Nothing outside of Star Trek's transporter technology occurs to me.

Heck, we did conquer the country and still haven't nailed Saddam. I'm not sure it would have been any easier any other way. In any case, there was a large Baathist infrastructure that would still have been there if Saddam had been simply nailed by some stealth drone with a missile.

Tom Brosz

Really? You can't figure out how to use silver bullets?  Well, apparently neither could anyone else, but you know, if you go in and dismiss the entire army and police force and disband their courts and leave no clue as to what you are going to put in to replace them, why are you astonished when, now that there is no more law and order, people act as if there is anarchy and proceed to loot and pillage?  It never happened in New York? Los Angeles? Detroit?

I would have thought it well to announce one's objectives in advance, with the view to getting the other people on your side.  I guess I am just not bright enough.

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Given that you reject both the going-in assumptions and the logical consequences that I--and many others--have about the nature of our ongoing war, it seems somewhat pointless to try to answer your question. You have already rejected /ex hypothesi/ the solution that I and President Bush both seem to believe is the correct one for Iraq: create a functioning state with a reasonable approximation of liberal-democratic (in the classical poli-sci meaning, not the modern American political meaning) contours, then leave--recognizing this may take some time, and considerable effort.

I am not quite sure where you are getting your information on the administration's decision-making process. You suggest that the administration went into this saying it would be quick and easy: I'd be interested in your sources for this assertion. Every speech I have heard the President and his national security team give--including the one he gave this week to the National Endowment for Democracy, which I commend to your attention ( that they are cognizant that this will be a long hard slog, and that there are no guarantees in this world.

You are one of the folks whom I always found to be the most persuasive as to why we had to do various things in the Cold War: indeed, I found your argument regarding the Vietnam War as a successful battle of attrition extremely persuasive. It is somewhat disconcerting to see you approach this current war with such a different sensibility.

I have always believed--as do many others, including my personal political hero, Ronald Reagan--that we, the United States of America, are the beneficiaries of a special providence, and because of this it is incumbent on us to hold high the torch of freedom in the world, and--to the extent possible--help spread freedom's bounty to the world around us. I also see this as pragmatic, in the sense that--however much we may disagree with the Germans or the Japanese (to say nothing of the French), I seriously doubt that we and they will go to war over such disagreements. While there are no doubt exceptions to the rule that "democracies never attack other democracies", it seems a useful rule of thumb, and it therefore serves our purposes to spread democracy around the world.

I am the first to concede that this is by no means a simple task, and it is clear that there will be many false starts. I still believe this is a sound undertaking, because even imperfect democracy is better than no democracy: and even imperfectly-formed democratic regimes can improve, as evidenced not only by our former WW2 adversaries, but by any number of Mediterranean, Latin American, and Asian countries that most political scientists whom I studied back in the 1970s said were absolutely unfit for democracy.

If this makes me a "neo-con", so be it. I will wear the label proudly, along with others--including President Reagan--who believe as I do.

Very respectfully,

David G.D. Hecht


Will Rogers: "I can solve the submarine problem for you. Boil the Atlantic Ocean. They'll have to come to the surface."

"How do we do that?"

"Come now, I gave you the answer, don't bother me with details."

the solution that I and President Bush both seem to believe is the correct one for Iraq: create a functioning state with a reasonable approximation of liberal-democratic  contours, then leave

Now, how, precisely, do we do that? Leaving out the question of whether carrying freedom democracy on the points of our bayonets across the world is the real mission of America; as well as the question of what gave us the right to do this? Do we know how to impose liberal democracy on people who have never experienced it? If we do, we have more work than Iraq. There are many places in need of our attention.

If you want to make a list of horrible places in the world that would be much, much better off with liberal democracy, I can give you many contributions. Liberia, for one, where a couple of hundred Marines in Jimmy Carter's time might actually have allowed some progress toward peace and stability and a moderately form of liberal democracy based on, say, literacy as a qualification to vote. The Sudan, where there is terrible civil war, and slavery. Or South Africa, where genuine liberal democracy with rule of law and peace and order and stability would be wonderful: why don't we go impose it on them? Zimbabwe, where it looked for a while as if liberal democracy would take hold, but no more. Uganda. Is the Ukraine democratic enough? Chechnya? What about China? North Korea? Liberte! Fraternite! Egalite! carried on the points of our bayonets. That should be a world worth living in, once we get it finished, and then we shall have peace at last!

But Iraq is where we are, and since we are there, we will stay until they have courts and judges and fair elections and freedom of speech, and separation of church and state, and rule of law, and once they have such wonders that will be the end of the matter: we can leave. Good job, well done. The historical example being Germany and Japan after World War II: just do in Iraq what we did there. They may not thank us, but they and we will all be the better for it.

I sure hope so. And I have even tried to show what the first steps have to be: successful local government, successful local courts, police, law and order. And perhaps it will all work. We will nurture Iraq with the blood of 32 troopers a week, some weeks, a trooper a day during good weeks, and $50 billion a year taken from the American people, and we will do what the Brits didn't manage: bring liberal democracy to Mesopotamia.

I sure hope so.

Now of those places you mention, other than Germany and Japan, just where did we impose Democracy with success? Haiti? Nicaragua? Columbia? Dominican Republic? Cuba? Guatemala? Panama? Well, we never controlled Columbia, and it's true that some of those places are making progress, but can that progress be said to be due to our occupation? And they are a lot closer to home than Mesopotamia and have cultures a lot closer to Western Civilization than Mesopotamia.

but by any number of Mediterranean, Latin American, and Asian countries that most political scientists whom I studied back in the 1970s said were absolutely unfit for democracy.

Would you name the examples? And how we contributed to their progress?

Actually, the United States seems to be just a bit less of the city on the hill, with people in military prisons not informed of the charges against them nor confronted by their accusers: perhaps a necessity. And, just today, police with drawn guns in high schools, a really great example to hold out for the world, one I am sure most countries will want to copy.

In a word: is our house in order?

Make no mistake: we can build an empire. I never doubted it, and I know how to do it. But when we do, when we decide that to impose government not based on the principle "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," is a good thing to do, will we be what you wanted us to be?

Incidentally, this is not the first era in which it was thought that installing the right kind of government in other countries was the best way to insure peace. But perhaps you are right, and this is a crucial experiment. If we can install liberal democracy in Iraq, it may be that we will have the secret to the end of history, and the years of grace will come.

But I keep wondering if we have our house in order, and what price we may yet pay for carrying liberal democracy across the world in Bradley Fighting Vehicles. And will the price merely be in blood and treasure, or will it be paid in other coin including what we used to think were rights and freedoms of American citizens?

 I sure hope it works; but I continue to yearn for a time when we are independent of others, and we depend on our engineers and technicians and scientists, and provide jobs for our citizens, and are the friends of liberty everywhere -- including here -- and the guardians of our own.

During the Cold War it was standard for liberals to show how many schools and hospitals could be built for the cost of one B-52 bomber, or one aircraft carrier. But in those times there were 26,000 nuclear warheads aimed at us, and an army poised to be on the Rhine in days, to the Pyrenees in weeks. That threat was real.

Now we are to spend in addition to what we have already put into the war, another $87 billion taken from the taxpayers: money not invested in the US, but into a foreign land in hopes of giving them the benefits of democracy. And perhaps there will be others to benefit from our attentions. Syria. Iran. Those are not liberal democracies...

Well, I can wish for the solution that I and President Bush both seem to believe is the correct one for Iraq: create a functioning state with a reasonable approximation of liberal-democratic (in the classical poli-sci meaning, not the modern American political meaning) contours, then leave--recognizing this may take some time, and considerable effort.

I will even agree that if we can accomplish it, the blood and treasure spent may be worth it. But I am not at all sure I know how to make that happen. Or that President Bush, or you, know either.






This week:


read book now


Saturday, November 8, 2003

Subject: Think through the implications


Ye flipping gods!

And for all your shopping needs, try


On Iraq:

Dr Pournelle,

Iraq, Democracy and Empire

…the Brits didn't manage: bring liberal democracy to Mesopotamia.

“I hate Iraq. I wish we had never gone to the place," said Churchill in 1926. He was always advocating withdrawing from a country that he described as populated by "ferocious" people who regularly rose against British rule, turning the country into an "ungrateful volcano". Does this sound familiar?

Historically, it is true that Britain never managed to impose democracy on Mesopotamia during the time she ruled there after invasion and conquest during the First World War. At the time, the reason for this action was to deny the port of Basra to the Turks, who were allies of Germany. It had the additional benefit of helping secure the route to India, considered the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the British Empire. At that time, what is now modern Iraq consisted of three provinces of the Turkish Empire; Basra in the south, Mosul in the north, and Baghdad in the centre. It was Britain who turned the three into one nation at the stroke of a pen, creating an inherently unstable country populated by three mutually loathing groups. Contrary to current popular myth, oil had little to do with this as the huge Mosul oil fields lay undiscovered at this time.

A British mandate from the League of Nations was granted in 1920. Within weeks this had prompted the declaration of a jihad against the British, and subduing the major troubles that followed took 20,000 British troops and four squadrons of RAF bombers under the command of Arthur Harris, who was to become famous as Bomber Harris— commander of Bomber Command— during World War Two. The British lost 425 lives in the process, which lasted nine months.

In 1921 they installed Faisal I as a puppet king in an attempt to forestall this sort of thing happening again. However, he had no family connection with Iraq and was chosen on the advice of among others, Lawrence of Arabia, who owed him a favour. The ascension of an unpopular foreign king kept the pot of troubles boiling, as it were. Bomber Harris did much to suppress these new problems by bombing any tribal village deemed to be a seat of trouble.

Britain gave Iraq notional independence under the rule of the apparently more acceptable Faisal II in 1932. In fact Britain remained the real power behind the throne, with a team of ‘advisors’ keeping the King on message until he and all his family were murdered in the 1958 revolution.

Since then Iraq has suffered a series of coups and counter-coups, culminating in the rise of Saddam to power in 1979. The rest you know. -------

The depressing truth is that I can think of no example of a full, successful democracy in any Arab land. But where the British got it right in Iraq, in my view, was the establishment of a— hopefully benign, hopefully liberal— monarchy, and by all accounts that was pretty much so. In all of the Arab nations, the only ones that seem to be making any sort of progress towards becoming a modern democratic and liberal state, are Jordan (a monarchy); Morocco (a monarchy); Kuwait (a monarchy); and some of the smaller gulf states (all monarchies). Yes, in every case it’s slow progress. But it IS progress.

So, here’s my suggestion for Iraq: choose your king wisely, choose him carefully, make sure he has plenty of ‘advisors*’, but choose a king!

I’m afraid this will be the true nature of ‘Empire’ in the 21st Century.

* When it comes to advising kings, maybe the British should do most of the advising; they’ve had a lot more practice of the right sort.

Jim Mangles

Agreed. I said as much before we went in. Afghanistan is another place that needs a king, and dare I say it, so does Yugoslavia. But then I advocated making the young Trujillo king of the Dominican Republic (it would have had to become Santo Domingo I suppose) way back when the old man was assassinated. Of course there then rises the moral question: who are we to go about giving kings to other countries?

Subject: It's called a mistake

"We're in Iraq. To just "declare victory and leave" -- i.e. cut and run -- would leave the area in a mess and us worse off than before we went in. (Not to mention the Iraqis, who would be in a state of anarchy and civil war.)  "

     Since the invasion was a mistake, the best possible choice is of course going to leave us worse off than we were before.  If not, it wouldn't _be_ a mistake.

Greg Cochran

Yes, of course, but there are degrees of "worse off". I am not at all sure that, given we are in there, it is not better to bite the bullet and try to make an omelet out of those lemons.


But We Were Born Free

All of these came from this AM's perusal of WorldNet Daily. (That I could find this many in one place is sort of depressing.) It would seem that the Empire is making great progress. We have a video store owner cited for the possession of an ashtray, a "commando-style" drug raid in a high school in SC and a pilot throwing a passenger off a flight apparently in retaliation for getting ragged on. I'm not including the links for the 89-year-old widow losing her home ($800,000 value sold at auction for $15,000 to a real estate developer), the 13 year old cited for assault for a hickey and a few other interesting pieces. I haven't looked, but I suspect I could quadruple this number with 10 minutes of concentrated surfing.

Do you suppose the frog is feeling any heat in his pot of water just yet?

------------------------------------------------------ Bill Seward, KG4SAQ

Vote for Cthulhu. Why settle for a lesser evil?

I don't dare comment. But for more see



Subject: Yeah! That'll teach the little beggars!

 Hi Jerry,

 Gun-Wielding Cops Conduct Drug Sweep At School

 - Paul

Right on!


Subject: Linksys DSL Routers

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

This is a warning to people thinking about purchasing a DSL router. I've had a Linksys BEFSR11 single port DSL router for a couple of years now. It's worked reasonably well in that time. They also make [or made] similar models with four and eight port switches respectively. All of these are supposed to work at 10mb or 100mb speeds.

I recently replaced my 10mb hub with a 10/100 switch. At that point things started to go south fast.

I started getting disconnects from the internet, but not the kind to which Ameritech/SBC customers are accustomed. Instead, the router would lock up to the point where it could neither be pinged, nor accessed through a web browser. The router then has to be turned off and on before it's accessible again.

Thinking this might be a firmware problem, I flashed the router with the latest version on Linksys's website. This appeared to fix the lockup problem... and my spam problems as well, since it absolutely prevented downloading POP3 email.

To make a long story short, these routers seem to have a bug in them [and or their firmware] which causes them to lock up when too much data is pushed through them (ie. p2p, ftp, etc.). DSL Reports and others seem to indicate that this is a widespread problem. Linksys's current "fix" breaks something else. Downgrading the firmware after the upgrade fixes the email problem, but leaves the lockups. I just hung the 10mb hub off of the 10/100 switch, and hung the router off of the hub to see if that fixes the problem. It hasn't hung yet, but that happens at random times.

Anybody doing gaming, large downloads, etc., might want to consider D-Link or somebody else for a DSL router.

Chris Morton

Interesting; I have never had any problems with my D-Link Routers, and continue to strongly recommend that one have a router to protect high speed Internet connections. Cisco and D-Link are the only ones I am familiar with. They both work splendidly. I am also experimenting with a Multi-Tech Router which is more akin to the Rebel Netwinder than to a simple box.

However, we had similar problems with a Hawking switch a while ago; problem had nothing to do with the router (which was also Hawking).






This week:


read book now


Sunday, November 9, 2003

Deadline Day. Very Short Shrift

Transgender Teens Posed As Prostitutes Then Robbed Their Tricks, Claiming To Be Undercover Cops


Aside from the bizarre nature of this crime, what strikes me is that they succeeded only because the victims expected that NYC cops are corrupt.


Possony warned about bizarre crimes: they often precede really drastic social and political changes. Perhaps it is time to start collecting such stories. The old fox was right most of the time.

And on the subject of bizarre:

Subject: The Sum of All Fears

Report is that in Sudan, some panic is resulting from rumors that shaking hands with a foreigner can cause one's penis to vanish. I am fascinated--it's hard to imagine a more diagnostic story illustrating the Moslem inferiority complex.

Maybe the way out of this great class of civilizations is to send all the Moslem males to self-esteem camp.

Some nattering on the subject at: 

Mike Juergens 

Your point is whimsical but somewhat well made: there are objective reasons.


Roland calls attention to

which is yet another illustration of what Friedman calls "The Invisible Foot"...


Dr Pournelle,


Afghanistan is another place that needs a king, and dare I say it, so does Yugoslavia.

I think it’s a bit late for Yugoslavia—

‘All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.’

Of course there then rises the moral question: who are we to go about giving kings to other countries?

Is this the sticking point?  Why should we suddenly have moral scruples over imposing a monarchy on the poor, long-suffering peoples of Iraq? They have lived for almost a quarter of a century under a bloodthirsty, truly evil tyrant; we have come along and destroyed that regime and in the process turned the country upside-down. If we now decided a king is the best way to give Iraq stable and reasonably free government why should we quibble?

I see a king as one possible pragmatic solution for Iraq. Certainly it’s not the perfect solution which would be a nice shiny new liberal democracy along western lines. But the perfect can be the enemy of the good enough.

Jim Mangles


The moral question is, why is it our business, and why should Iraq be favored over, say, Burundi?  It is once again entangling alliances and becoming involved in territorial disputes. And note that Napoleon was of much the same opinion, with his relatives as the obvious candidates for installation as royalty.

I am one with J. S. Mill that many peoples should count themselves fortunate to have a Charlemagne or Akbar (or Mustapha Kemal); but I am not so certain that it's our job. In any event this is purely an academic discussion. The US may install "democracy" that very quickly becomes some form of dictatorship. There is plenty of precedent for that. But neither the American people nor the Army will allow us to install kings.

Dr Pournelle,

More on Kings

The moral question is, why is it our business, and      why should Iraq be favored over, say, Burundi? 

Granted, but it HAS been favoured (if that’s the word) over Burundi. Now we have to figure out what to do next— in Iraq, not Burundi. If that’s the moral question, it’s already behind us. Here we are; what do we do now?

The US may install "democracy" that very quickly      becomes some form of dictatorship. There is plenty of precedent for that.      But neither the American people nor the Army will allow us to install kings.

Well… they allowed the preservation of an emperor, in Japan.

Actually, what happened in Japan in 1945 is an object lesson in the sort of constitutional flexibility that’s a central part of being an empire. Both the Romans and the British habitually preserved or installed puppet monarchs all over the place. But then Macarthur was called American Caesar by William Manchester.

If the American people or army can’t stomach arrangements like that, they’re not going to be much of an imperial people or army.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Jim Mangles

On reflection we are not in much disagreement. And it is Deadline Day...

Your last statement I can't resist though: you're right, of course. And I suspect you are biting your tongue to keep from saying "the Republic is dead. We will have empire, and the only question is will it be competent. Live with it."








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