picture of me


Mail 359 April 25 - May 12, 2005






BOOK Reviews

read book now

emailblimp.gif (23130 bytes)mailto:jerryp@jerrypournelle.com

CLICK ON THE BLIMP TO SEND MAIL TO ME. Mail sent to me may be published.

LAST WEEK                Current Mail               NEXT WEEK


Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Highlights this week:


  If you send mail, it may be published. See below. For boiler plate, instructions, and how to pay for this place, see below.

line6.gif (917 bytes)

This week:


read book now


Monday  April 25, 2005

Getting a head start on tomorrow. For now see yesterday mail, particularly the dark age discussion.

Steve Stirling remains optimistic:

Subject: Trade and manufacturing employment:

Dear Jerry:

Some people in the discussion seem to be confusing manufacturing employment with manufacturing output, and to think that because the US is losing manufacturing jobs, it's losing output as well, and that it's in "industrial decline".

They should note that China is also losing net manufacturing jobs... and this despite an enormous surge of urbanization, as over 30 million people move out of farming per year, and an equally enormous surge in industrial output.

Many new Chinese workers are going into new plants, to produce the goods everyone is importing, but this doesn't quite match the decline of various Stalinist dinosaur enterprises, which are shedding labor rapidly.

Incidentally, this is fortunate for China, because they're starting to run into serious labor shortages as the supply of willing young people declines. Most of the new urbanites in China are working in services, construction and transportation -- the tertiary sector which dominates any modern economy, and which has been the largest in the US since about 1910.

The output of manufactured goods in the US is not declining. Productivity, however, is growing faster than output, which inevitably means fewer workers.

The same thing happened in agriculture, from the 19th century on; we kept growing more and more food with fewer and fewer people, first in relative terms, then absolutely. Manufacturing likewise is simply not a growing center of employment any more, and never will be again, any more than farming is; its relative share of the US labor force started declining over a century ago. Just like farming, the relative decline becomes an absolute one, and output continues to increase anyway.

More output, fewer workers... it's generally called "progress".

Likewise, our exports are not "declining", either. They're just less than our imports. Both have grown enormously. How can anyone think we'd be better off with less of either?

Frankly, I find the assumption that Americans would improve their lot if more of them were working in sweatshops for peanuts to make running shoes and t-shirts, or using hand-welders on an assembly line, bizarre.

It's like saying Massachusetts would be better off if it those old textile mills in Lowell hadn't moved to South Carolina, or that we'd be better placed nationally if every fourth person were still pushing a plow, the way they were when I was born.

Apparently there are still some people who subscribe to Gosplan economics, under which steel is an end product and people are intermediate goods, and who confuse metal-bashing with national virility.

As for "decline", I simply point to the figures: the US share of global GDP has been steadily rising for a generation. The US has the fastest growth-rate of the large industrial nations; only post-Thatcher Britain comes close... and Britain has gone from #4 in Europe to #2 in the same period, and is rapidly closing in on stagnant Germany, which still "makes things".

So much for the tragedy of losing the Rover plant, by the way.

The only countries consistently growing faster than the US are those which are still undergoing massive sectoral shifts, taking peasants and turning them into city-dwellers. The US completed that transition some time ago.

It's not physically possible for a mature economy to grow at the same rate as one that's transitioning to modernity, and doing so with copied or borrowed technology. A mature economy has to grow by increasing its total factor productivity at the cutting edge, and at that the US has shown itself to be the best in the world, leaving the Japanese, the Germans and the others in the dust. Remember all the prophecies in the 1980's about how the Japanese were going to eat our lunch, led by the invincible bureaucrats at MITI?

The US is growing faster than France or Germany or Japan precisely because it doesn't "protect" jobs or "protect" industry or "protect" communities, or at least not as much. Hence capital and other production factors flow more efficiently, rather than being immobilized in dead-end sunset industries.

Americans are footloose people, without much in the way of 'roots'; when an industry or a town goes belly-up, they generally just move on. This is a thoroughly good thing, from an economic standpoint. The more "frictionless" the system, the better it works.

The US economy isn't declining; it's changing -- specifically, becoming more specialized. This necessarily implies more dependence on trade; trade worldwide has been growing faster than the world economy, thereby increasing specialization and division of labor, and increasing output as everyone reaps the comparative advantage.

This is one of those "Gods of the Copybook Headings" things, and I suppose one has to keep clubbing people with it.

Yours, Steve Stirling

When you finance consumption by selling resources and  borrowing, it looks like decline to me; it would be thought so for any household. I understand that economists think different.

And see below

Subject: "Collapse" by Jared Diamond - Recommended...


Very academic style and a bit dry but a tremendous 450-page overview of societal function and disfunction down through the ages. The last third of the book relates to modern problems - China, Australia, forestry, oil, groupthink, etc. Factually oriented rather than optimistic or pessimistic. I am inclined to say it is "Required" reading for modern man.

I believe I noticed it in a Science News book list.

-John G. Hackett

P.S. I have a copy of an article someplace that says that the decline of oil production (2010-2100) will result in a 50% worldwide population decline over that period, because the worldwide economics of cheap oil ultimately make the caloric difference between survival and starvation in so many ways. Baring some magic nuclear fusion process, this coming century looks grim to me.

P.P.S. If Israel or the U.S. attack Iranian enrichment facilities this summer (we just today renewed logistic base rights in Turkey) the world will find out whether or not Islamic extremists have a nuke or two.



STAR WARS Fan fiction movie


I like this 47-minute movie -


- better than the "Chapter 2" official Star Wars movie. Plot is no worse than chap 2, music is derivative of the original Star Wars score, and the special effects are wonderful. OK, so the acting is wooden; but it was all free talent and they made the thing for $20K.

Great fun.



Subject: Home Theater Column 25 April 2005

Very well done. I am, unfortunately, more of in sync with Bob Thompson to the extent I would rather read in the evening than spend hours watching DVDs. You may want to see/review the movie "Interpreter". I enjoyed it.

Jim Means Waukesha.-, WI



How rocket scientists got into the hearts-and-minds game

Dear Jerry,

US News has an article this week on Pete Worden and OSI. I think the ideas behind OSI need greater discussion:

USNews.com: How the rocket scientists got into the hearts-and-minds game (4/25/05)

"The nation faced not just al Qaeda but a global war of ideas against radical Islam, Feith said, and the Pentagon needed an out-of-the-box thinker. Would Worden come to Washington? Out-of-the box is a fair description of Worden. An astronomer by training, he was a principal architect of the Star Wars missile defense system in the 1980s. When Feith called, he was working on ways of defending Earth from asteroids. A maverick with a reputation for getting things done, Worden found Feith's offer irresistible."


"top officials from the Pentagon's Office of Public Affairs began warning that OSI's work would be seen as propaganda and would damage the military's credibility. In late February, came Page 1 news stories "exposing" OSI as scheming to plant "disinformation" in the foreign press that would end up here at home. Editorials and cable-TV pundits denounced the new office as "Orwellian" and "duplicitous." In fact, OSI was none of that. The Pentagon's Office of the General Counsel later scoured the group's planning documents, E-mails, and internal memorandums and found no evidence that OSI was plotting to use disinformation. Indeed, the only time the word appeared was tied to its use by America's enemies. But the damage was done. Unwilling to endure the bad press, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered OSI shut down."


"OSI staffers suspected that the Pentagon's public affairs staff had taken them out in a turf battle. "I can't say anything more than that the biggest disinformation campaign was leveled at us," OSI's Lt. Col. Marty France told the Los Angeles Times. Worden told friends that the affair effectively ended his career; he retired a year later. In his first public remarks on the affair, Worden calls himself "a casualty of friendly fire" but says the real tragedy was the loss of OSI. "In a war of ideas, we need to figure out how to prevail," he says. "This is about a lot more than bombs and bullets.""

If it has not done so already, the Pentagon will come to regret the passing of OSI. OSI was about education and confronting people indoctrinated by terrorist mindsets with powerful Western ideas like personal freedom and equality.

Those who reduced the Pentagon's options by discrediting OSI chose for them and us the path of 'warfighting', and in so doing abandoned Sun Tzu's principle of victory without fighting, choosing to meet an ever increasing number of insurgents in battle - or rather guerrilla attacks. They have got and will continue to get what they wished for.

The US News article is wrong in one important respect: The Joint Psyop Support Element is not based on the premise behind OSI. So far their most notable accomplishment has been to deceive the readers of Western news media. Many reports celebrated the 1 year anniversary of the toppling of Saddam's statue as though it were a real event. In fact it was staged by Psyops, and one year on most reporters are happy not to make the distinction between real and imagined. The Pentagon (and US News) have confused information - the endless gunk that pours from CNN et. al. - with ideas - the things that shape the world.

---------- Kevin L.G. Parkin, MPhys, MS, Ph.D. (cand.) Division of Engineering and Applied Science California Institute of Technology


Secretariat Member, Space Generation Advisory Council (in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications) www.unsgac.org

Indeed. Had they asked me I'd have made General Worden Administrator of NASA. I'd sure put him in charge of any program I wanted done right.

Subject: Mission to Hubble Solution

This solution seems so simple, that someone should have thought of it. But if they have, I haven't heard it.

Why not launch both a shuttle (2 man crew) and a Soyuz (1 man) on a mission to service Hubble. The Soyuz would serve as a lifeboat should something happen to the shuttle, since NASA is so nervous about flying anywhere except the ISS since it can serve as a lifeboat.

Alan Questell

That makes far too much sense for our NASA...


IIRC (and I don't have time to check this morning, will try to check later) Hubble is in too low an inclination to be accessible from launches from Baikonur. So the "Hot Soyuz" alternative is impossible. I also doubt that NASA would allow that a three-man team -- all trained pilots -- in two ships would be either (a) safe for EVA or (b) trainable for the repair mission.

Jim Woosley







This week:


read book now


Tuesday,  April 26, 2005

Now to start something controversial:

IQ and Race

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Thought you might find this study interesting.

Tom Slater


"Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability"

"Neither the existence nor the size of race differences in IQ are a matter of dispute, only their cause," write the authors. The Black-White difference has been found consistently from the time of the massive World War I Army testing of 90 years ago to a massive study of over 6 million corporate, military, and higher-education test-takers in 2001.

1. The Worldwide Pattern of IQ Scores. East Asians average higher on IQ tests than Whites, both in the U. S. and in Asia, even though IQ tests were developed for use in the Euro-American culture. Around the world, the average IQ for East Asians centers around 106; for Whites, about 100; and for Blacks about 85 in the U.S. and 70 in sub-Saharan Africa.

4. Brain Size Differences. Studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) find a correlation of brain size with IQ of about 0.40. Larger brains contain more neurons and synapses and process information faster. Race differences in brain size are present at birth. By adulthood, East Asians average 1 cubic inch more cranial capacity than Whites who average 5 cubic inches more than Blacks.

6. Racial Admixture Studies. Black children with lighter skin, for example, average higher IQ scores. In South Africa, the IQ of the mixed-race "Colored" population averages 85, intermediate to the African 70 and White 100.

8. Race Differences in Other "Life-History" Traits. East Asians and Blacks consistently fall at two ends of a continuum with Whites intermediate on 60 measures of maturation, personality, reproduction, and social organization. For example, Black children sit, crawl, walk, and put on their clothes earlier than Whites or East Asians.

10. Do Culture-Only Theories Explain the Data? Culture-only theories do not explain the highly consistent pattern of race differences in IQ, especially the East Asian data. No interventions such as ending segregation, introducing school busing, or "Head Start" programs have reduced the gaps as culture-only theory would predict.


For considerably more including counter arguments:

Psychology, Public Policy, & Law. 11(2), June 2005.

THIRTY YEARS OF RESEARCH ON RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY. Rushton, J Philippe; Jensen, Arthur R. pg.235-294 Abstract The culture-only (0% genetic-100% environmental) and the hereditarian (50% genetic-50% environmental) models of the causes of mean Black-White differences in cognitive ability are compared and contrasted across 10 categories of evidence: the worldwide distribution of test scores, g factor of mental ability, heritability, brain size and cognitive ability, transracial adoption, racial admixture, regression, related life-history traits, human origins research, and hypothesized environmental variables. The new evidence reviewed here points to some genetic component in Black-White differences in mean IQ. The implication for public policy is that the discrimination model (i.e., Black-White differences in socially valued outcomes will be equal barring discrimination) must be tempered by a distributional model (i.e., Black-White outcomes reflect underlying group characteristics).

Sternberg, Robert J. pg.295-301
Abstract J. P. Rushton and A. R. Jensen (2005) purport to show public-policy implications arising from their analysis of alleged genetic bases for group mean differences in IQ. This article argues that none of these implications in fact follow from any of the data they present. The risk in work such as this is that public-policy implications may come to be ideologically driven rather than data driven, and to drive the research rather than be driven by the data.

HEREDITY, ENVIRONMENT, AND RACE DIFFERENCES IN IQ: A Commentary on Rushton and Jensen Nisbett, Richard E. pg.302-310
Abstract J. P. Rushton and A. R. Jensen (2005) ignore or misinterpret most of the evidence of greatest relevance to the question of heritability of the Black-White IQ gap. A dispassionate reading of the evidence on the association of IQ with degree of European ancestry for members of Black populations, convergence of Black and White IQ in recent years, alterability of Black IQ by intervention programs, and adoption studies lend no support to a hereditarian interpretation of the Black-White IQ gap. On the contrary, the evidence most relevant to the question indicates that the genetic contribution to the Black-White IQ gap is nil.

Gottfredson, Linda S. pg.311-319
Abstract J. P. Rushton and A. R. Jensen (2005) review 10 bodies of evidence to support their argument that the long-standing, worldwide Black-White average differences in cognitive ability are more plausibly explained by their hereditarian (50% genetic causation) theory than by culture-only (0% genetic causation) theory. This commentary evaluates the relevance of their evidence, the overall strength of their case, the implications they draw for public policy, and the suggestion by some scholars that the nation is best served by telling benevolent lies about race and intelligenc

Abstract This commentary highlights previous literature focusing on cultural and environmental explanations for the racial/ethnic group hierarchy of intelligence. Assumptions underlying definitions of intelligence, heritability/genetics, culture, and race are noted. Historical, contextual, and testing issues are clarified. Specific attention is given to studies supporting stereotype threat, effects of mediated learning experiences, and relative functionalism. Current test development practices are critiqued with respect to methods of validation and item development. Implications of the genetic vs. culture-only arguments are discussed with respect to the malleability of IQ.

WANTED: MORE RACE REALISM, LESS MORALISTIC FALLACY. Rushton, J Philippe; Jensen, Arthur R. pg.328-336
Abstract Despite repeated claims to the contrary, there has been no narrowing of the 15- to 18-point average IQ difference between Blacks and Whites (1.1 standard deviations); the differences are as large today as they were when first measured nearly 100 years ago. They, and the concomitant difference in standard of living, level of education, and related phenomena, lie in factors that are largely heritable, not cultural. The IQ differences are attributable to differences in brain size more than to racism, stereotype threat, item selection on tests, and all the other suggestions given by the commentators. It is time to meet reality. It is time to stop committing the "moralistic fallacy" that good science must conform to approved outcomes.

The journal's web site is: http://content.apa.org/journals/law
Content is available via PsycARTICLES (on Ovid, e.g.), or via an APA e-package.

While I encourage comment, rants are not going to get posted. The subject is both important and potentially explosive, and the lack of scientific debate has hampered understanding.


Foundations of the Co-Dominium? Return of the Son of the Cold War?

I see that President Putin of Russia has called the collapse of the USSR "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century".


"First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. ... As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory. The epidemic of collapse has spilled over to Russia itself."

Russian Lebensraum? Foundations of the Co-Dominium? Return of the Son of the Cold War?

I dunno. Makes me twitchy.

Interesting piece by Andrew Sullivan at The New Republic on the differences between "conservatives of faith" (in general, Christian Conservatives, Neocons, and such) and "conservatives of doubt" (you, me, and (I suspect) most of your readers).


Not sure if I've renewed within the past year. Have to check that when I get home and have access to my ISPs e-mail account. I don't use it much anymore due to spam. I have a few people, family, friends, and some newsletters (such as yours) on a whitelist. I use Gmail for everything else.

Kit Case

Can't reply piggy Outlook is eating my laptop alive.


Subject: INTERESTING - Web Site Readability Index

Dr. Pournelle:

I found a site that computes various 'readability indexes' for a web page. The site is here: http://www.juicystudio.com/fog/index.asp  . (It may be busy; retries usually work.) No research as to accuracy, but interesting.

I did an analysis of two of your sites: last week's Chaos Manor mail page (mail359) and your 4/25/05 Byte column. The results are below (apologize if formatting is bad: I put a blank line between each output line)

Readability Results Summary Value (mail359)

Total sentences 1,943

Total words 23,196

Average words per Sentence 11.94

Words with 1 Syllable 15,077

Words with 2 Syllables 4,644

Words with 3 Syllables 2,338

Words with 4 or more Syllables 1,137

Percentage of word with three or more syllables 14.98%

Average Syllables per Word 1.55

Gunning Fog Index 10.77

Flesch Reading Ease 63.69

Flesch-Kincaid Grade 7.34

Readability Results Summary Value (for Byte column)

Total sentences 91

Total words 694

Average words per Sentence 7.63

Words with 1 Syllable 411

Words with 2 Syllables 164

Words with 3 Syllables 81

Words with 4 or more Syllables 38

Percentage of word with three or more syllables 17.15%

Average Syllables per Word 1.63

Gunning Fog Index 9.91

Flesch Reading Ease 60.86

Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.67

Regards, Rick Hellewell

I don't know if this is good or bad -- compared to what? I do know that one readability program used my BYTE columns to build standards for technical non-fiction. But that was long ago. Am I foggier now?

Subject: buffy willow fog factor


Dr. Pournelle:

You do not write less clearly than in past years. Your site tackles some extremely complex concepts, which cannot be dealt with with non-complex language.

I have come to count on your insights to clarify many issues; you have a gift, similar to Asimov, of clarity.

Please keep up the good work.




"US News has an article this week on Pete Worden and OSI. I think the ideas behind OSI need greater discussion"

Pete and I went to high school together, were in Civil Air Patrol together, went to college more or less together (although he insisted in going to the little school in Ann Arbor, while I went to the real university of Michigan at East Lansing), bummed around the country on 'space A' travel orders (we were both ROTC cadets, he, obviously, Air Force and I Army) the summer between our junior and senior years visiting grad schools, were commissioned at the same time by our respective services and then slowly drifted apart as his career in the Air Force and mine as a reluctant RIF'd civilian diverged. We still kept in touch and I was extremely pleased when he made Brigadier General after surviving eight years of the Clinton administration's less than benign neglect of the military. I fully expected to be invited to his swearing in at Air Force chief of staff in a few years. Then, a few months ago I discovered he had retired. Now I know why.

Like you, Dr P, I'd happily appoint Pete to just about any complex, sophisticated, high tech operation that I wanted to succeed. He's the only person I've ever admitted is smarter than myself (monster of ego and self-satisfaction that I am) and I hope he's found something to engage his talents.

Timothy K. Morris



Subject: Note added to Hubble observation

If Hubble could be reached from Baikonur, we could in principle mount the Hubble rescue by an all-Soyuz launch, delivering the repair kit by a separate ELV from Canaveral.

Whether we could (or would) do it by buying launches from China is a different issue..

Jim Woosley.


This following is long; it is a lengthy analysis of Iraq.

The really sad part is that there were many people in the military and out that KNEW what to do and how to approach the post liberation of Iraq in an Iraqi/Arabic way. Tons of literature had already been written. Quite a few officers had experiences in the Middle East from DS/DS and the aftermath. Many in academia and other 'Arabicists' had volunteered ideas, counsel, and instruction. There is already a well established world group of people, with tremendous experience, dedicated to bringing democracy to the Middle East.

For the most part in 2003 and into 2004, they were all ignored.


Worth the read....ld

What Went Right How the U.S. began to quell the insurgency in Iraq

RICHARD LOWRY "Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them." - T. E. Lawrence

It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq.

If current trends continue, our counter-insurgent campaign in Iraq will be fit to be mentioned in the same breath as the British victory over a Communist insurgency in Malaysia in the 1950s, a textbook example of this form of war. Our counterinsurgency has gone through the same stages as that of the Brits five decades ago: confusion in the initial reaction to the insurgency, followed by a long period of adjustment, and finally the slow but steady erosion of the insurgency's military and political base. Even as there has been a steady diet of bad news about Iraq in the media over the last year, even as some hawks have bailed on the war in despair, even as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has become everyone's whipping boy, the U.S. military has been regaining the strategic upper hand.

This doesn't mean the war couldn't still go wrong. "It's not over," says a top officer in Iraq. A key assassination, continued Sunni rejectionism, an inter-sectarian explosion, or something unforeseen - all could still derail us in Iraq. Nor does it mean that our effort is perfect. "I give us a B minus," says an administration official, a tough grader who is nonetheless an optimist. But it does mean that as of mid-April 2005 we are winning, just as surely as we were losing in the darkest days of the dual radical-Shia and radical-Sunni uprisings a year ago.

The basic approach of the Pentagon to the insurgency was right from the beginning. "The strategy was always political as well as military," says a Pentagon official. A counterinsurgency is never about simply killing enemy fighters the way it is - or at least seems - on a conventional battlefield. Insurgents have an endless capacity to replicate themselves, unless political conditions are created that drain them of support. If top policymakers always knew that intellectually, we have had to stumble our way to finding the correct ways to act on the insight.

Based on conversations with administration officials and key combatant commanders, this is the story of how, two years after the fall of Saddam, the U.S. has begun to win the war for Iraq.

'A NON-FUNCTIONING CITY THE SIZE OF DETROIT' After a fairly straightforward routing of the dictator's regime, the military got a nasty surprise. "We thought that the regime would fall and have a hard landing, but that the society would have a soft landing," says Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commanding general of the 1st Armored Division, which had responsibility for Baghdad from Saddam's fall until April 2004. "We thought the infrastructure would be good by Middle Eastern and South Asian standards." Instead, the society had long ago suffered a hard landing, devastated by 30 years of tyranny. General Dempsey says of Baghdad, "Imagine a non-functioning city the size of Detroit."

"We found that the electricity infrastructure was incapable of meeting the needs of the city long before we arrived. At no time in the recent past did Baghdad have enough electricity to go 24 hours," he says. And: "The sewers were never running at more than 75 percent capacity. When we got there most of the sewage ran into the Tigris through the storm drains." And: "Trash was a huge problem. Imagine a city of 6 million where the trash system shuts down for a month." And there was no one else around to try to fix it.

Dempsey was starting from scratch. He had to go to the Iraqis, and determine who among them could help: "We tried to figure out who were the emerging leaders, who was trusted in the neighborhoods. We had them prioritize their needs to us. We didn't know much about the city and that's how we learned what the city needed." Then he set 90-day milestones for progress toward put ting the city back together again. He drew on funds from CERP, the Commander's Emergency Reconstruction Program. It was funded with money confiscated from Saddam's coffers after the war. "In the traditional army fight," he explains, "you can see success in the number of Republican Guard units taken off the map, and in the territory taken. We had to measure success around how we wanted Baghdad to look in June 2004."

But they were running a losing race against rising expectations. "Some of them expected that we'd come in and immediately have electricity, sewage, and water working," Dempsey says of the Iraqis. "That just wasn't happening. Some were very accepting and some others weren't - that's probably where you saw some of the insurgency."

The Sunnis wouldn't be satisfied, even with improvements. Dempsey explains: "The Baath party had supplied electricity to the Sunni areas. The [Sunni] Mansour district had 24-hour service. [Shia] Sadr City might have three hours." He remembers going to brief the city council on his plan to improve and rationalize the electricity system, giving everyone in Baghdad equal service. He expected his eminently reasonable proposal to be welcomed by all. Instead, "the Shias on the city council were overjoyed; the Sunnis took it as a net loss."

'WE STARTED GETTING HAMMERED' That was just a taste of the broader Sunni disaffection from the new Iraq that would help fuel the insurgency. It really began to bite in August 2003. "We started getting hammered, and we're saying, 'What's going on here?'" says an administration official. It took time to figure out the nature of the insurgency, putting the military in the uncomfortable position of fighting a complex, multifaceted foe it didn't entirely understand.

In general, post-invasion Iraq was a tinderbox. "There are plenty of unemployed men, there is plenty of propaganda from the mosques, and there is plenty of ammunition. All you need to make the insurgency go is money," says another administration official. And there was plenty of that too, from Saddam's stash, much of it spirited away to Syria. In restive al-Anbar province, the $200 someone might be paid for an attack against the Americans equals six months' salary. It makes it a good deal, especially if 72 virgins await you if you fail. As the administration official puts it, "You say, 'What the hell?'"

Conditions were ideal for an insurgency in other ways. Sunni tribal leaders had made money from smuggling - smuggling of the sort that fed the insurgency cash, men, and matériel from Syria - for centuries. Previously they had been bought by Saddam; now some of them were bought by the insurgents. And the tribal organization of Iraqi society, with its tight bonds of trust within certain groups, created a natural cell structure for the insurgency.

Shia family in Baghdad, April 2003 Marco di Lauro/Getty

In the meantime, in formerly repressed Shia slums, such as Sadr City, there was always a latent violence that Saddam's murderous regime had kept under wraps. "If you remove that violence from the top, the potential violence from underneath is unleashed," says an administration official. That is the dynamic that fed a Moqtada al-Sadr, whose father had been killed by Saddam, but who was ready to send armed men into the street to secure an outsize place in the new Iraq.

The insurgents were a formidable challenge to a military with awe-inspiring technological capabilities. "Our advantages are the range of our weapons and our sensors," says a Pentagon official. "Fighting from 50 feet neutralizes those advantages. Fighting in the open, how long could the Iraqis last? Two weeks. The insurgency? It's two years and counting."

"We weren't looking for it," an administration official says of the insurgency. "The Army was not ready to fight an insurgency." Some generals, not all by any means, were still primed for a conventional fight of the sort we planned for against the Soviets in the Cold War or waged against Saddam in the Persian Gulf War. Also, every insurgency is a little different, and is likely to catch even the best-prepared military unawares.

Critics have pounded the Pentagon for the inadequate armoring of Humvees. But Humvees aren't designed to be used in combat - "they are four-wheel-drive pickup trucks with flat sides," says a Pentagon official. They were inadequate only when their original purpose as behind-the-lines transport was eclipsed by the rise of the front-less insurgency. In the new circumstances, even tanks were inadequately armored. We have lost a stunning 80 M-1 battle tanks. They are most heavily armored in the front to do battle with other tanks. In the streets of Iraq, insurgents attack them from behind.

In countless ways, then, the fight against the insurgency has involved learning and adaptation, and those ways are large (e.g., the order of thousands of armored Humvees) and small. One officer who served in the Sunni Triangle describes getting a tip from an Iraqi who said his neighbor was putting together roadside bombs in his home. "We said, 'Great, what's his address?'" The streets didn't have addresses. "We said, 'Okay, point it out to us.'" He wasn't willing to take the risk of being seen with Americans. How to raid the right house? Eventually, our troops found a way (although one they would prefer not to see described in print).

The biggest adjustment was one of understanding. Since every insurgency exists in a particular cultural and political context, you can't fight it effectively until you thoroughly understand that context. That takes on-the-ground experience, and time.

Maj. Gen. Raymond Ordierno commanded the 4th Infantry Division in the Sunni Triangle from April 2004 to the beginning of 2005. "We suspected some resistance would be left," he says, "but we were a bit surprised by the insurgency. We had to adjust how we did business." He cites the bewildering complex of tribal leaders, family lines, and Baath-party ties: "We had to understand the relationships." That required a crash course in tribal Arab culture: "We don't understand what it is to be part of a tribe and how they understand family ties. It's different from our culture. It is difficult. But we are learning it over time."

"Some say we missed the insurgency entirely, but that's a bad rap," says General Dempsey. "We saw this thing building, but it just takes time to build relationships in that culture." It was winning the trust of the people - to get intelligence tips and to deny the insurgents public support - that was key. But that couldn't be done overnight: "In the same circumstance, if we knew exactly what was coming, the culture still would have presented obstacles. If the trust and confidence we had from the public was no better, we weren't going to get better intelligence than we did initially."

Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr, Najaf, August 2004 Mohamed Messara/EPA

Slowly, things came into focus. The former regime elements (FREs) were the core of the insurgency. At least some of them were apparently directed by Saddam to secret themselves in safe houses north and south of Baghdad and wait to strike after the U.S. invasion. Others had fled to Syria, which they used as a sanctuary to direct and feed the fight against the Americans. The FREs had a loose system of leadership, but no clear leader.

Their biggest pool of support came from Sunni rejectionists and fence-sitters (e.g., tribal leaders who might be coaxed into becoming rejectionists). On the edges of this core of the insurgency were criminals (Saddam emptied the jails in October 2002 in anticipation of the invasion), foreign Islamists (e.g., Zarqawi), indigenous Islamists (e.g., the Sunni radicals of the Muslim Clerics Association), and Shia extremists like Sadr. "They hate each other," an administration official explains, "but they have a common objective to drive us out."

The insurgency had a Leninist strategy of "worse is better." Make Iraq ungovernable, and perhaps get the chance to regain power. Most fundamentally it sought to sever the sinews of any functioning society - trust. American officers describe having Iraqi police officers who would talk to them candidly only if they were in a room without any other Iraqis. This atmosphere made working with Iraqis almost impossible. In one case, Iraqi police jumped out of the second-story windows of a police building when they saw Americans coming, to avoid being seen with them. Sometimes Iraqis would patrol only at American gunpoint.

The U.S. strategy became to use every instrument of power at our disposal (military, political, economic, etc.) to drive a wedge between the Sunni fence-sitters and the irredeemable elements of the insurgency - the criminals, the various Islamists, and the FREs. Attempts would be made to engage the Sunnis, while the other forces would be captured or killed. The strategy involved four main lines of operation - security, governance, basic services, and the economy - all of which complemented each other and had the goal of creating a legitimate Iraqi government that could look after its own security.

It was a blending of carrot and stick. There are two ways to try to keep someone from taking $200 to attack Americans: "You can raise the cost to someone of planting an IED [an Improvised Explosive Device] by making it more likely you will kill him, but also by providing alternatives that make him less likely to want to take the risk in the first place," says an administration official. Or as an officer in Iraq puts it, "You can't kill or capture everybody."

That's why infrastructure projects and other economic-development measures are so important. For ordinary Iraqis, who have no taste for the niceties of Leninism, better is simply better. The counterinsurgency is reminiscent of Rudy Giuliani's fight against crime in New York City. There is the same tough-minded commitment to taking down the bad guys, coupled with attention to the broader conditions - the "broken windows" - that foster crime, or, in Iraq, insurgents. "It's exactly like Rudy Giuliani fighting crime, except the criminals have automatic weapons and 155-rounds," says a Pentagon official.

'WE REVERSED THE PARADIGM' April 2004 began a period that ran through November 2004 when the insurgency presented stiff military challenges. In the spring, our position in Iraq seemed precarious to the point of collapse. "It could have gone either way," says an administration official. It went the right way, establishing the basis for important political developments.

In April, Moqtada al-Sadr seized key buildings in five southern Shia cities. Immediately, half of the Iraqi National Guard and police walked off the job. It fell to Dempsey's 1st Armored Division to clean up. By this time, Dempsey and his troops had gotten their footing in Iraqi politics and culture.

"We had a different understanding of the things that make you successful," Dempsey says. "A year earlier we might have been too imprecise and heavy-handed. A crucial question was, What is our information campaign? What do we tell the Iraqi people to get them to solve this problem before we have to, and if we have to, to make them see it as very deliberate and precise?" So the information campaign came first, and the military operation was supplementary to it. "We reversed the paradigm that we had lived with during my first 30 years in the Army," says Dempsey.

The campaign was about politics as much as military might. Dempsey moved first to take back the government buildings in all five cities. Sadr had an obvious political purpose in taking them in the first place: "Sovereignty was going to be transferred on 1 July. He wanted to establish a shadow government." Sadr also took the mosques: "He took over the mosques for financial reasons. There are significant monies associated with them because of the pilgrims." This is where it got especially tricky, since the U.S. couldn't be seen as disrespectful to these religious sites, especially the Mukhaiyam Mosque in Karbala and the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, two of Shia Islam's holiest sites.

Dempsey didn't hide his plans, but broadcast them far and wide, publicizing that he was going to systematically take back the cities, leaving Karbala and Najaf - the most sensitive tasks - for last. "We were giving the Iraqi people a sense that we were giving [Sadr] a chance to stand down," Dempsey says. "We were telling them that we were going to do it in a responsible fashion." This was a move calculated to exploit Sadr's political weakness. His uprising was a challenge not just to the U.S. but to the moderate Shia establishment, and most Shia didn't appreciate it. "He was unpopular," says an administration official. "He stopped commerce, stopped trade, stopped everyday life in Najaf and Karbala."

U.S. soldier mans rocket-launcher near Imam Ali Mosque, Najaf, August 2004 Ahmed Fadaam/AFP

Dempsey realized that the operation needed Iraqi cover. In each area, Dempsey says, "we tried to find and empower one single Iraqi figure." For instance, in Najaf, Dempsey took aside one Iraqi leader and told him, "You are our guy, everything we do, we are going to explain it to you and say it's because you want us to do it." The information campaign and this sort of politicking were crucial to the overall campaign's success. "It couldn't have been done the previous year, because we just didn't understand it," says Dempsey.

Eventually, he went after Sadr's forces militarily. He beat them back into the mosques at Karbala and Najaf. "We decided not to go into the mosques," says Dempsey. "It was absolutely the right decision." There was a negotiated solution, with the U.S. giving up on its demand to arrest Sadr, who was wanted on a murder charge. It was an imperfect solution, but part of what we have learned is to settle for those. Sadr survived to fight another day, but he lost political support during the confrontation, rather than gaining it, as he might have if we had been heavy-handed. "This was very delicately done," says an administration official.

The fight in the south was just one part of April's double nightmare. Sunni militants probably always had a plan for an all-out assault on the U.S. occupation, but Sadr's uprising provided the perfect opening. "They took the opportunity to glom on to the Shia uprising with the goal of collapsing the entire coalition effort," says an administration official. In April, the insurgents attacked 15 different static locations, all of them lines of communications, bridges, roads, or supply routes. "It was planned and highly organized," says the official. "The Sunnis hurt us bad. People at the CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] working in the Green Zone were eating off paper plates and food rations were cut."

But the U.S. held on. Even though it was hard to see at the time, April marked a turning point. "It was a strategic defeat for them, because they failed in their goals," an administration official says of the Sunnis. Altogether, it was a bad month for the radicals: "We killed thousands of Sadr's guys. We killed a s***load of Sunni extremists. It sent shock waves through both those movements."

Unfortunately, we started, then aborted, an attack on Fallujah. By the end, Sadr's forces were holed up in the mosque in Najaf and the Sunni insurgents had been pushed into Fallujah. Not an ideal result, but given how precarious the situation had been, hardly disastrous. And it meant conditions were tolerable enough for the next big political step, the handover of sovereignty from the Coalition Provisional Authority back to the Iraqis.

'LIBERATION RATHER THAN OCCUPATION' A crucial moment in our Iraq project was little noticed at the time. In October 2003 there were three days of meetings at the Pentagon between top policymakers and CPA head Jerry Bremer and Gen. John Abizaid, head of the United States Central Command, to review where things stood. A decision was made to set deadlines for agreement on the Transitional Administrative Law (a.k.a. the temporary constitution), and, most important, on the termination of the CPA. At the White House, the date of June 30, 2004, was chosen for the handover - almost by throwing a dart at a calendar. There was nothing special about that date, except that it wasn't too far in the future.

Bremer had contemplated the CPA's lasting as long as three years. This would have meant that the occupation - the prime political liability for the U.S. in Iraq - would have dragged on and on. The post-invasion difficulties in Iraq have obviously brought plenty of criticisms of the Pentagon, some fair, some not (see my "What Went Wrong," NR, October 25, 2004). But as long as there is score-settling, it should be noted that the Pentagon was always consistent in wanting to end the occupation and get to elections as quickly as possible, and events over the last year have vindicated this approach.

"The idea that some of us had right from the beginning was that it was going to be crucial to emphasize the theme of liberation rather than occupation," says Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy. "At those October meetings, we got to get the CPA out of existence in the foreseeable future." Bremer took the decision back to Iraq and held to the deadlines for the Transitional Administrative Law and the handover. The deadlines were important. "It's not clear anything would have happened without a deadline," says Feith.

Jerry Bremer at farewell ceremony in Mosul, June 2004 Roslan Rahman/EPA

The transfer unlocked all sorts of positive forces. It meant, most fundamentally, that we realized that ultimate victory over the insurgency would have to be won by the Iraqis, with an assist from the United States. "The idea," says an administration official, "was to have the same relationship as with Karzai in Afghanistan - we're there to help him." This set up an entirely different political dynamic with the insurgency, which was no longer opposing an occupation government. "Now the insurgents were attacking a lawfully recognized sovereign government," says one official.

Capable Iraqis were encouraged to step forward in a way they hadn't been before. "We were looking at the Iraqis in the summer of 2003," explains Feith, "and they were not playing the role that we were hoping. They weren't stepping forward. There was a reluctance on the part of the Iraqis to play a prominent role in a CPA-led government."

The transfer put the Iraqis at the forefront of the information campaign against the insurgency. And they knew what would work. The single most effective tool against the insurgency, a TV program that features unflattering interviews with captured insurgents every night at 9 p.m., was an Iraqi inspiration. It is the most watched program in Iraq. Maj. Gen. David Patreaus, who commanded the 101st Airborne during the assault on Baghdad and afterward and now is in charge of training Iraqis, says, "As an Iraqi told me the other day, 'We have seen the face of the insurgency and it is ugly.' There is nothing romantic or uplifting about the insurgents or what they are doing. They are just thugs and brutal criminals."

Finally, the Iraqi interim government gave the Iraqi security forces something at the very top of the chain of command to which they could be loyal. Within months, their performance had improved. "They had a sense that they were fighting for their own government," says Feith.

The U.S. had begun to piece together the puzzle of a successful counterinsurgency, and a big part of it was relinquishing political control, rather than monopolizing it. T. E. Lawrence had it right in his long-ago admonition to hand as much responsibility as possible to indigenous forces, even if they aren't fully prepared. Says an administration official, "He knew how to deal with the Arabs. We had to learn."

'A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIGHT' In the meantime, the military was honing its nontraditional responsibilities down to a kind of art form. By the time he left in April 2004, Dempsey was an Iraq expert: "I'm from Bayonne, New Jersey. I thought I knew Bayonne. But there is nothing about Baghdad we didn't know about." By his departure, the sense of improvement was palpable. "We brought the city back to life in a very real way," he says.

Crucially, the information he had picked up on the fly, the hard way, wouldn't be lost. "We tried to flatten the learning curve," says Dempsey. One of Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli's officers - Chiarelli's 1st Cavalry Division would take over Baghdad in April 2004 - was embedded in Dempsey's headquarters for four months prior to Chiarelli's departure for Iraq. "Dempsey told me we have this $18.4 billion supplemental. He told me before we departed, 'You want to kind of reorient your guys, they are going to have to be overseeing a lot of this,'" says Chiarelli. He took his staff to Austin, Texas, to get seminars from the city management about basic services. "We knew we weren't going to make sewer-maintenance engineers out of our guys, but we understood the basics," says Chiarelli.

So he was ready for what met him in Baghdad. "Iraqis consistently told us, in varying order, we want the sewers fixed, the electricity fixed, the water fixed, and the trash picked up, and we want jobs and we want security," says Chiarelli.

U.S. Marine hands out candy, Ubbaydi, April 2004 Andrew Cutraro/KRT

That's what he set about doing. He worked with the governor and mayor, for instance, on improving the trash pickup, and trying to get people to stop throwing their trash on the ground through public-awareness commercials and information campaigns in the schools. Chiarelli acquired a kind of passion for trash, realizing its impact on the city and people's lives: "You and I know solid waste is ugly, but in Baghdad when garbage isn't picked up, in the winter, it rains and runs into the sewers and clogs up the sewers." He aimed to have trash picked up twice a week in Baghdad's neighborhoods, and plotted progress toward that goal on a map, with the neighborhoods with no pickup at all marked in red. By the time he left in February 2005, he had achieved 70 percent coverage.

Chiarelli was involved in all aspects of Baghdad, both high and low. He could have been the mayor. "He took polls," says one admiring Pentagon official. So he knew, for instance, the level of satisfaction with the electricity service over time. No detail of municipal government was beneath his notice. "He knows where the sewage is gravity-fed, and where the s*** needs to be pumped," says the official. And like any good politician he worried about job creation.

Is all this odd for a general? Not in a counterinsurgency. "It is a different kind of fight," Chiarelli says. "It takes more than combat operations to win this fight. If you go after the large number of Iraqis sitting on the fence, you take away the disgruntled folks the insurgency preys on." You also get better intelligence, including via the five telephone tip lines Chiarelli set up.

The enemy recognized this dynamic too. In August 2004, the 1st Cavalry Division had managed to put 18,000 people to work in Sadr City. "The insurgents looked at that and said, 'We can't let them employ our people and fix the things we said they won't fix,'" Chiarelli says. A fight began in Sadr City. Chiarelli sought to win militarily, but also to drive a wedge between the population and Sadr's insurgents. The fight was concentrated in the north of Sadr City, so Chiarelli redoubled the infrastructure work in the south: "We let them in the north look at what was happening in the south. We wanted them to say, 'These guys who are fighting have stopped the improvement, all for what? To have IEDs in the streets?'"

Farther south, in Najaf, the coalition was confronting Sadr as well. Conditions were more favorable to routing him from the mosque in Najaf after the June handover. Interim prime minister Ayad Allawi and the defense minister were on board the operation, giving it Iraqi cover. And more Iraqi forces were available. They were the ones that operated in closest proximity to the mosque, in the alley right next to the shrine. Eventually, Grand Ayatollah Sistani brokered another deal, this one to remove Sadr's forces from the mosque entirely.

After Chiarelli beat Moqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City, he kept the focus on rebuilding and employment. The goal was to hire in the neighborhoods, and hire as many people as possible. "I was upset," he says, "when a contractor showed up with a [mechanized] ditch digger; I didn't want ditch diggers." He wanted to put shovels in peoples' hands for $5-7 a day. "We went from 160 attacks a week in August to under 10 attacks each week, at which point it gets hard to differentiate between crime and insurgent attacks," he says.

You could call Chiarelli's broad-based approach a kind of humanitarianism, but you also could call it force protection. "Where we did the infrastructure," he says, "we saw the bad guys move out." This made all the non-military tasks palatable to Chiarelli's troops: "Our guys understood, they were safer in the neighborhoods where their projects started. People say, 'You're doing work you shouldn't have to do.' Maybe they're right, but no one else could do it and we were getting shot at and there was no other way to stop the shooting."

'THEY LIVED, SLEPT WITH THE IRAQIS' Ultimately, we wanted to hand all the security over to Iraqi forces, but we had a learning curve in training them as well. General Dempsey watched half of the National Guard and police he had trained walk away during Sadr's first revolt in April 2004. "Something that I frankly missed is that it is a patronage culture," Dempsey says. "For the last 3,500 years the sheik of the tribe is the person you go to to address your needs." The training of Iraqi forces lacked that kind of local, tribal legitimacy, even though it seemed to be going swimmingly.

"We were paying them ourselves, out of CERP. I was pinning purple hearts on them. They loved us, truly, honestly," Dempsey explains. But when it came time to confront Sadr's uprising, the calculation changed entirely. "They asked, 'Who is the Iraqi face who will empower me to take on fellow Iraqis?' No one. The culture is built on patronage. No patron, off they go."

Dempsey tried a different approach. He went to tribal leaders and to the political parties, and asked them to give him Iraqis for the military forces. These were people or bodies to whom the Iraqi recruits had a loyalty. "I would have loved to have had them have an allegiance to a nation called Iraq," Dempsey says. "But in 2004 there was no nation called Iraq."

Training for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, near Qayarray, May 2004 David Gross/Zuma

Meanwhile, a broader reevaluation of the training program was underway. Rumsfeld had been dissatisfied with it as early as December 2003. He sent Maj. Gen. Karl Eikenberry to Iraq to review it and the general made a key recommendation in early 2004: that the training of Iraqi security forces, including the police, be consolidated under one commander.

Initially, each division commander had responsibility for training in his area. The thought was that each region was different, and training should reflect that. That this would create varying standards wasn't a major concern, since there was an emphasis on pushing sheer numbers out the door to get forces onto the streets to deal with what were expected to be routine policing duties. "We realized as the insurgency unfolded that the training should be consolidated," says an administration official. The centralization would create a higher overall standard of quality.

So General Patreaus was put in charge of all training. The police needed more military-style preparation. "We had built it on a Western, police-force-in-a-democracy model," says a top officer in Iraq. The training now emphasizes survival skills, force protection, IED-detection, and the use of AK-47s. More emphasis has been placed on the training of units. "Individual police are important, but they can't stand up to insurgents," says the officer, who invokes as a model the special carabinieri units that took down the mafia in Sicily.

Police stations have been hardened and communications have been improved. "You never want to let the police think that no one is coming to the rescue," says someone who has monitored the Iraqi performance. "You never want the response to a call for help to be, 'Well, gosh, we have a lot going on ourselves, we'll be there in a few hours.' That's the proximate cause of the crumbling of the police in Mosul [in November]."

Although the military training was always pretty good, it too was toughened - "so we could find out who was suffering from tiny-heart syndrome," says an officer. Professionalism has increased. The Iraqi policy on absenteeism is now fairly stiff. "If someone is AWOL for seven days, they might as well not come back," says a top officer. In general, he says, "Iraqis discipline Iraqis far more effectively than we can."

The resources being poured into all this are massive: $1.9 billion. Since the June handover, 130,000 AK-47s have been acquired for the Iraqi military and police. And that's just the beginning of the build-up: 266 million rounds of ammunition; 122,000 pistols; 82,000 Kevlar helmets; 133,000 body-armor suits. The number of sets of body armor alone outstrips the size of the entire British Army by roughly 30,000.

Rumsfeld sent retired general Gary Luck to review the training again at the beginning of this year. Luck had a key insight: "It was clear the units that had been built," says an administration official, "could be used." Luck advocated a concept called "teaming and embedding." Each Iraqi battalion is teamed with an American battalion and mentored and encouraged. Initially, the Americans are in the lead, but over time that will shift so the Americans are only in a support role.

Also, within each Iraqi battalion is an embedded team of Americans. As one Pentagon official describes this practice, which some commanders had already been using in Iraq, "We built special-forces teams. They lived, slept, crapped with the Iraqis." The embedded Americans provide intense help in logistics, communications, and tactics - "it's a deeper level of training," says an administration official. They also are a connection to the teamed American battalion. A Pentagon official explains: "The Americans all have radios, and on the other end of those radios are artillery, close air support, and MedEvac."

The benefits of Iraqis' taking the lead security role go beyond lifting the burden from Americans and removing the political irritant of foreign troops. General Patreaus says of the Iraqi police and army units, "They have an ability to interrogate people very, very rapidly. They speak Arabic. They speak the dialect. They know the neighborhoods. If we did it, we would still be working with the translator and asking, 'Is that Mohammad with an "a" or Mohammed with an "e"?' The Iraqis will have already gotten the intelligence and be back in the pickup truck heading to the next target."

There are now 100 operational Iraqi combat battalions, with an average of 750 men each. In March, 6,000 former soldiers and new recruits completed basic training. The Americans involved in this growing training effort call it the "Mesopotamian Stampede." It's like an unruly cattle drive where the challenge is just to keep the herd moving, to keep the momentum going no matter what. "It's a drama. Every day there's something, whether it's ego management or some individual Iraqi soldier who is doing something. It's unbelievable," says an American close to the process. But the herd is growing, and moving ahead.

'YOU CAN'T STOP AND START' By the end of 2004, the biggest blight on the U.S. counterinsurgency was Fallujah. "We knew the car bombers were coming on a rat line out of Fallujah into Baghdad," says an administration official. Every city in Iraq has a section devoted to garages. Fallujah had that, except many of the garages were putting together car bombs. "It had become a car-bomb factory within a 20-minute drive of West Baghdad," says an officer in Iraq. There were two insurgent broadcast studios in the city. "It was so far beyond the pale it wasn't funny," says the officer.

Marine Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, commander of the 1st Marine Division that led the assault on the city, explains: "The insurgents used Fallujah as a sanctuary, an area where they could re-arm, rest, plan, and execute their attacks toward Baghdad or Ramadi. It was the equivalent of the U.S. having a military base in Iraq. The amount of arms and ordnance we pulled out of there was phenomenal, tons and tons."

In November 2004, with Iraqi officials in the interim government in place to explain and defend the coming assault and with more Iraqi forces on line, it was time to deal with it. "We worked the whole thing out with Allawi," says an administration official. "He and we prepared the ground. There could have been outrage in the Arab world. There wasn't. And the Iraqis were able to tolerate it."

Natonski too did his share of information work in the run-up to the assault: "We tried to drive a wedge between the insurgents and the people. We dropped leaflets and made broadcasts explaining how elsewhere we were rebuilding, and they were losing water treatment plants and millions in reconstruction funds."

There were probing attacks throughout the summer and early fall targeting the leadership around Zarqawi. The attacks also created a strategic ruse. "They thought we were coming from the south," says an administration official. "The Marines were camped in the south. The probing raids were deliberately from the south." So the insurgents oriented their defense toward the south. Instead, we came from the north.

Winning in Fallujah, November 2004 Patrick Baz/AFP

And came in force. "We learned the lesson from April that you just can't do it piecemeal. You can't stop and start, stop and start," says Natonski. Which doesn't mean the campaign was indiscriminate or immune to political considerations. For instance, we took the hospital first, which was used by the insurgents as a command-and-control center and to treat their wounded. "There were military reasons for that," says an administration official. "But it was also because the first time, in April, al-Jazeera was in that hospital saying that the Marines were murdering children."

About 2,000 Iraqi security forces were in the fight. "We used them in taking down sensitive sites," says Natonski. "The hospital was taken with Iraqi commando units in the lead. Several mosques and the government center were taken by the Iraqis." Iraqis had a particular nose for finding weapons caches and could immediately tell whether detainees were from a foreign country.

Six battalions of Marines and Army troops came slicing down from the north and kept on going. "The success of the attack," Natonski explains, "was based on speed. Tanks and Bradley vehicles penetrated quickly, to be followed by Marine infantry. The rapid penetration disrupted the enemy's command and control, a lot of it in the Jolan district [in the northeast corner of the city]." Weeks later U.S. troops found insurgents still holed up, awaiting orders that never came.

A favored insurgent tactic was using parked vehicles as bombs. They wanted to call on their cellphone to explode a car at the moment they saw it would do maximum damage. The speed of the U.S. assault disrupted that tactic, according to Natonski: "If you can either kill them or make them fall back, they can no longer see the vehicles they want to detonate."

The insurgents were fierce and determined. "We found a lot of drugs," says Natonski. "They looked to be amphetamines, maybe speed. We think many of them were hopped up on drugs." They also believed they were fighting a horrific foe: "The second- or third-order effect of Abu Ghraib is that many of the insurgents were brainwashed to think that that was the way they would be treated, so instead of surrender they fought to the death."

The performance of the U.S. forces was spectacular. Marines got shot and kept on fighting. When the battle ended, there was a rash of reports of previously ignored wounds. "Headquarters asked, 'Why are you reporting 35 wounded so late?'" says Natonski. "We were reporting them so late because these kids didn't report it when they were wounded. The Corpsmen bandaged themselves up and stayed in the fight. The Marines at Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, and Vietnam set the bar pretty high, and they lived up to the standard."

'WE HAD TURNED THE CORNER' With more and better Iraqi forces up and running, with the interim government having been established, and with the Najaf and Fallujah campaigns completed, the broad conditions were set for the elections. "The military strategy was to clean the place up before the elections," says an administration official. "Our strategy was to make sure that none of the country was off limits." Natonski and others kept up the pressure. The idea was that being aggressive prior to the election would keep the insurgents off balance. "When you start attacking them, you throw them off their planning cycle," Natonski says. Washington was intent on holding to the January 30 election date. One Pentagon official explains, "If we'd slipped that deadline because of the security situation, we'd be saying, 'Look, we've lost the country.' It would have been a tremendous victory for the insurgents. January 30 was really a test of strength."

And of the Iraqi security forces. We identified 26 key cities by population and sought - mostly successfully - to have Iraqis in control of local security in them. It was important for Iraqis to see Iraqis taking responsibility. There were roughly 5,200 polling places around the country, protected by 130,000 Iraqis. They provided the security in the inner cordon, closest to the polling places, while Americans handled the outer rings. On Election Day, not one of the polling places was penetrated, and some were protected by the heroic acts of Iraqi security personnel who tackled suicide bombers.

It was a point to which we had been building for a long time. General Chiarelli describes the long-running civic work of his men with neighborhood and district councils as "a train-the-trainers program. It educated the Iraqis on the elections." Now it had all paid off in what was a transformative civic statement by ordinary Iraqis. Everyone knew there were death threats against people participating in the election. "That the Iraqis were willing to mark themselves as having voted," says Feith, "that showed not simply broad support for the elections, but amazing depth."

"After the fall of Fallujah and the elections, we had turned the corner," says Natonski. Chiarelli agrees: "We felt it afterwards, what it did to change the psyche of the people."

In Afghanistan, elections had produced a stirring turnout that gave the government a new boost of legitimacy, made a reassuring statement about U.S. intentions, and further isolated the insurgency politically. The Iraqi elections similarly were not only a step ahead in governance, but were a crucial piece of the information campaign against the insurgents - and therefore part of the security campaign as well. "We had all that in mind in the run-up to the Iraqi elections," says Feith, "hoping to see the same phenomenon as in Afghanistan. And we have. As different as Afghanistan and Iraq are, the parallels are striking, especially in the importance of the political process to security."

'TAKE THE HAND OFF THE BICYCLE SEAT' None of this is to suggest, of course, that Iraq is paradisiacal. Building the Iraqi security forces will take more time. "An army is about leadership," says a Pentagon official. "It takes 20 years to make a lieutenant colonel who can command a battalion in the U.S. military." If American commanders have had success with small-scale reconstruction projects, the larger-scale effort to restore the country's oil and electricity is still stumbling. And there are insurgent attacks every day. "We never defeated the Sunni hardcore in the initial war," says an administration official. "That's the nut we haven't cracked yet."

Yet every major indicator in the counterinsurgency is heading in the right direction. If the infrastructure and economy leave much to be desired, they have improved over the immediate post-invasion conditions. Iraqi security forces are better. More intelligence is available, both from tips and because Iraqi forces - more attuned to local conditions - are in the fight. Sanctuaries for insurgents have been denied in Iraq's cities and a little progress has even been made with regard to Syria. ("The resources aren't flowing as freely from Syria anymore," an administration official explains. "The people who lead the insurgency are not as comfortable. They are not sleeping in the same places at night.") Finally, the political process is on track, even if stumbling blocks remain, and it's not clear whether the balance of Sunni fence-sitters will participate in it.

Lining up to vote, Basra, January 2005 Andrew Parsons/EPA

All of this is encouraging, especially if you have realistic expectations. "It's not the First World," says Dempsey. "It's not us, and if you measured it against us, you will always be dissatisfied." It's not as though Iraq had ever been Sweden, after all. One official notes that violent al-Anbar province has always been "a den of thieves." "There will probably be fighting there ten years from now," he says, "but it will be against Iraqis, not Americans."

If success in Iraq is not assured, it is within sight. This is a testament to the resolve of President Bush, the Pentagon's push to give more responsibility to the Iraqis, the imagination and flexibility of U.S. commanders, and - above all - the courage, the can-do willingness to take on any task, and the amazing capabilities of the American soldier and Marine.

The administration's strategic scheme for success has, since the invasion, seen us moving through stages, from liberation, to occupation, to partnership, to Iraqi self-reliance. Currently, we are in the second phase of the partnership stage, with an elected Iraqi government beginning to take on more responsibility. We could move into self-reliance at the end of the year or the beginning of next, when, if all goes as planned, Iraq will have a permanent constitution and a government elected under it, with its security forces presumably even better prepared than they are now.

As we move down that path, the number of U.S. troops will gradually diminish. There are no hard deadlines. An administration official calls it "a conditions-based strategy." "The longer we carry the burden," he says, "the more dependent the Iraqis will be. There is a judgment that the time to take the hand off the bicycle seat is now, after the elections." Slowly, there will be "a one-to-one replacement of American units with Iraqi units."

It is already happening. Iraqis are increasingly in the lead in the nine peaceful provinces in the south. The Kurds are providing security in the three provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan. "In 12 of 18 provinces of Iraq, by and large, Iraqi security forces are shouldering the work," says an officer in Iraq. The transfer has begun even in the more troublesome parts of Iraq. The 40th Brigade of the Iraqi Army now patrols the dangerous Haifa Street neighborhood in Baghdad. This is not the precipitous "exit strategy" demanded by the war's critics, but a way of achieving the war's ultimate goal - a legitimate, representative Iraqi government that can defend itself.

"We don't have an exit strategy," says deputy undersecretary of defense William Luti. "We have a strategy for victory. We're going to win."

We can all hope he is right. At $300 billion and counting, this has been a very expensive venture; and that doesn't count the effects on the economy of $50 + oil. If the effort is successful that still does not answer the question of whether it was a good strategic move to invade; but winning is always better than losing, and the world is usually a better place with one fewer monster in power.


Subject: winning is always better than losing,

I'm sure that France would have been better off if they'd had better success and held on to Algeria - right? Right?

Gregory Cochran

I figured that when Rich Lowry wrote a "We're Winning" column, defeat was certain. He's never right about anything: today's National Review is his monument. There was a lull after the Iraqi elections, now apparently ended: a number of stupid people proclaimed this lull as the ' tipping point', but it's more likely the ' tupping point'. That lull is over: the military sources who were sounding optimistic three weeks ago no longer are.

The facts remain: we don't know how to stomp out this insurgency at a reasonable cost, so it's a loser for the US. The Iraqis, all but the Kurds, don't like us and want us out. we're not going to get bases, not that they'd be worth what we've paid in any event.

We didn't want elections - we were going for pure puppetry, but with the Sunni resistance, we couldn't afford any more trouble, so we needed to have a side. We picked the Shi'ites - the Yazidis would have been more ironic, but there just weren't enough devil-worshipers to fill the Green Zone. There was a carrot and stick: we needed a side, while the Shi'ites had shown that they could greatly increase the trouble level without half trying ( Al-Sadr) and they could _certainly_ blow up all the southern oil pipelines, just as the Sunnis can at will block the northern pipelines.

Of course now we're not truly happy with the looming Shi'ite government - since they's a bunch of America-hating mullahs, close to Iran - but we don't really have an alternative. If we don't let them take office, they revolt. Of course we can beat them, but of course we can't afford to. Who else has any chance of forming a government? Well, maybe the Baathists...

The Shi'ites are willing to let us stomp their enemies, but they don't want to fight: whole units are disappearing to desertion again. This may relate to the recent display of Iraqi political talent: there isn't any. The Iraqis are unable to form a government, demonstrating the traditional self-organizing tendencies of the Middle East, which have only been evident for the last three thousand years.

And in other news:

Iraqi oil production is _down_, not up. Oil is over $50 a barrel. These two statements are somewhat connected.

Turks now believe that the US is the biggest threat to them. Tell me how trading a hostile but impotent Iraq and a friendly Turkey for an unfriendly Turkey and a puppet Iraq on incredibly expensive life support is a gain. Eisenhower would not have thought it a gain. Note that I'm forgetting a few bushels of other shit that flowed from the decision to invade.

As for the magic of democracy in places like Lebanon: there isn't any. Fair elections would greatly strengthen people who hate our guts - Hezbollah.

Gregory Cochran

P.S. National Review Delenda Est!

We blunder along, and usually leave things better than we found them, although $300 billion usually buys a lot more "better".

I have to agree that democracy is not the key to peace and order. Rule of Law is; but we are not likely to impose that, and I am not certain that Rule of Sharia is the same thing.





This week:


read book now


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Matt Taibbi column about Thomas Friedman's Flattening
   ... the book that ultimately came
out would be called The World Is Flat. It didn't matter. Either
version suggested the same horrifying possibility. Thomas Friedman in
possession of 500 pages of ruminations on the metaphorical theme of
flatness would be a very dangerous thing indeed. It would be like
letting a chimpanzee loose in the NORAD control room; even the
best-case scenario is an image that could keep you awake well into
your 50s.

I am egregiously pleased that Taibbi was not selected to review my books. I have never read a review like this...

Subject: IQ and Race

I've so far merely skimmed today's postings on the subject of race and IQ, Dr. Pournelle.

Let me inject a reference here which may initially seem unrelated and ask a couple of questions -- hopefully directed toward increasing understanding of the matter and certainly not intended to be argumentative.

The reference -- a Tennessee item and unfortunately for the discussion not on the web (to my knowledge).

As you and many of your readers probably already know by now, The University of Tennessee in Knoxville has been conducting pathology research directed toward increasing the accuracy of time of death determination for bodies found in various stages of decomposition some time after the death. The site for this research is now (and may always have been) known as "The Body Farm" since a mystery novel by that name was written some years ago by Patricia Cornwell. She visited the site and became friends with its creator and then chief executive, who has since retired, named Dr. Bill Bass. He has since written a non-fiction book about this entitled "Death's Acre" -- http://www.deathsacre.com/ 

One of his observations was that bone sizes and shapes and configurations, with special reference to the skull if memory serves, are becoming less useful for skeletal race determination as the races increasingly intermarry. This appeared to be a statement of fact without hidden agendas of any kind.

Now to some questions...

The information provided by one of the posters, Tom Slater, suggest a correlation between black-white intermarriage and IQ. This has some possible relationship to the bone structure findings of Dr. Bass as mentioned above, but I have neither the knowledge or sources to hypothesize. Has any correlation similar to the black-white one been inferred for other intermarriage combinations, such as Euro-Asian or African-Asian?

Have the various groups (tribes, if you will) of pre-European settlement Americans been considered in these studies? Since there is a hypothesis that their ancestors migrated from Asia, those who are from non-intermarried ancestors might average higher on the IQ scale than do people of European ancestry.

My comments and thoughts, unrelated to my employer. Good thread, by the way.

Charles Brumbelow


IQ and Race

Dr. Pournelle,

Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have written that once black schools did a great job of educating and almost 100% of the kids graduated with good to excellent grades, even in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Then the liberal establishment took over and schooling went downhill. Also wasn't there once a reasonably successful business community of black business owners ? My point being that if blacks were once smart enough and now aren't what happened ? Is it IQ or culture ?

Tom Slater

Culture is Dr. Sowell's usual argument, and he presents it persuasively. Note that IQ is not character, and lower IQ only means less ability to abstract jobs; not inability to work at important and useful tasks. But culture is certainly very important. Whether it is easier to correct a culture or heredity is another matter.  however:

Subject: schooling went downhill

"Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have written that once black schools did a great job of educating and almost 100% of the kids graduated with good to excellent grades, even in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Then the liberal establishment took over and schooling went downhill. "

In 1950 black seniors scored a full seven (yes, SEVEN) years behind whites. Now they score four years behind - true for the last generation or so. Those are the facts. Williams and Sowell are full of it.

Gregory Cochran

Subject: IQ and race


At the risk of venturing into a minefield of a subject (most people won't go there at all, no way and for no reason) I'd like to point out that it's inaccurate to make a blanket statement that "black people" have smaller brain size, lower IQ etc. This is only true of people from certain parts of Africa (admittedly a disproportionate size of population) and may be largely attributable in their case to the types of malnutrition, parasites and illness that plague those areas. I remember reading that people from other parts of Africa (ie. the Tauregs? I seem to recall) actually have larger brains than the average white person, and I knew some people personally, from parts of Africa, who had a fantastic depth of memory and and mental quickness, etc. among other talents FWIW.



All of which complicates the matter. Then we have:


I sent the URL and precis of the article "Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability" to the homeschooling lists I belong to. Here is one of the responses I received.


If you do a search under "phillippe rushton", you will see that he is a well-known racist connected to a group with a Nazi agenda.

Here's an article by the SPLC: http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=83

I have no idea why an APA publication would publish a work of his or of his cohorts, unless the editors thought a controversial lead article would be a big seller...

But, based on his history, and the history of Jensen, too, their "research" is not anything that should be taken seriously, though unfortunately it will be by certain people.

This is the technique known as poisoning the well: it does not address the problem, but states that one disagrees with what was said because the people saying it say disagreeable things. The APA is hardly a Nazi organization, and if there is some reason Jensen and Rushton's work ought not be taken seriously, surely there are reasons it should be so treated? But none are given. The URL is to a site of an organization that has a view; one may read the quality of their work there.

Of course one may argue that matters such as these ought never to be discussed at all. But simply calling names and saying "don't take them seriously" is hardly a scientific discussion.

Subject: IQ & race

Dear Jerry,

a few observations : Equal under the law and under the eyes of God, don't expect anything else to be equal. Why can't physical labor be held in esteem? In my limited experience, brilliance and stupidity are race-neutral.

Tim Harness





Subject: Small scale fusion at room temperature..plus a lil bit of WinHEC

A collaboration at UCLA look like they have developed a fusion device powered by a pyroelectric cyrstal (commonly used in cellphones for filtering signals). When the crystal is heated it produces a large electrical charge on its surface. The researchers placed a lithium tantalate (LiTaO3) pyroelectric crystal so one side touches a copper disc. A miniscule tungsten probe is placed at the center of the copper disc. When the crystal is heated a massive electric field is produced at the tungsten tip to the tune of approximately 25 billion volts per meter. The field gradient is so strong that is can strip electrons from nearby deuterium atoms. Ionized deuterium atoms then are accelerated by this field towards a solid target of erbium deuteride (ErD2). When this happens they collide at high enough energies that some fuse with the target. Measurements of almost 900 neutrons per second were observed which was roughly 400 times the background. In the end the amount of energy produced by the experiment was small at 1e-8 joules. More information can be found here:


I've taken the liberty of mirroring video and photos and other material associated with the experiment from the article in Nature here:

PDF http://www.nonmundane.org/~dspisak/media/chaosmanor/nature03575-s1.pdf 

Photos http://www.nonmundane.org/~dspisak/media/chaosmanor/nature03575-s4.jpg 

 Video of test results http://www.nonmundane.org/~dspisak/media/chaosmanor/nature03575-s2.mpg  http://www.nonmundane.org/~dspisak/media/chaosmanor/nature03575-s3.mpg

Dan Spisak


Subject: Neutrons?! (priority one)


---- Roland Dobbins

The Navy always did  believe there was something to the Utah experiments. Well, we shall see...

Now a walk on the wild side:

Subject: Exploding toads baffle German experts,


Toads go BOOM in the night:



Hoo Hah.


Trade Deficit Revisited:

Subject: The Trade Deficit - A Response and further thoughts (Simon Enefer London)

Dear Mr Pournelle,

Further to my recent mail on the Trade Deficit issue I notice that a number of persons seem to disagree with the points that I made.

All the comments I feel have weight, though in my view economics is far from being a science (To many arguments with Economic Undergraduates when I studied Physics at UCL). However for the record if I may I would to respond to some of the points made.

I would question the statistics raised in a recent mail (Steve Stirling) that suggested that China was losing manufacturing jobs. What is true that China relies on other countries to provide components for final assemble and for raw materials. Chinese industry is growing at an impressive rate, along with their economy (Around 10% per annum) and is endeavouring to develop a technology base that will allow it the freedom to follow the industrial process through from prototype to final product.

At present this may not seem to be a problem for the US, but how long is it before the Chinese decides to pursue the high tech industries that the US still dominates such as aviation and computing. Then the US will be forced to move further into the services sector.

The UK took the services sector approach. We are the second largest economy in Europe (4th at present in the World but China will probable overtake us this year)

The UK also has

Lost 1 million manufacturing jobs since 1997

Personal debt is no over 1 trillion pounds ($1.9 trillion)

A record trade deficit

700,000 New Civil servants (I recommend your readers look at the Guardian Job Site http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/ if they feel in need of some light relief)

The North of England, Wales and Scotland are now more reliant on Government employment than Eastern Bloc countries where under communism (In some cases 60% of local GDP)

The UK is a true post-industrial economy, which faces, perhaps a greater challenge from India than China. India is now taking back-office, software development and call centre jobs from the UK. These are the bread and butter jobs of the service sector. No doubt the trend will slow or stop at some point in the future, but in absolute as well as relatively this country will be poorer when this trend ends.

Mr Sterling also stated that it did not matter that manufacturing jobs are "simply not a growing centre of employment any more". I would agree, but on the provisos that new jobs in the economy pay equivalent or better salaries, create similar value and that the manufacturing base is still there but more productive. I suggest that he consider this point, bearing in mind the US major employer is now Wal-Mart. How many new jobs in the US economy are in retail as opposed to high value, high salary sectors. If the US is to move up the value chain then the goal must be to move to hi-tech or high value added industries that developing countries will find it immensely difficult to imitate, I see few signs of this.

The other question I would suggest that needs to be answered is whether US industrial output is growing? I know that the US has enjoyed a prolonged productivity boom (By and large US business are far, far better managed than UK or European ones), but how much of an increase has there been in say manufacturing actual manufacturing output by dollar value?

Stephen M. St. Onge (Mail 18-24 2005) was very kind about my mail and I enjoyed his response a great deal.

His comments about Great Britain in the 1920’s were on the money (I consider Winston Churchill one of the greatest world statesmen of the 20Th Century, but in many ways he was disastrous for the UK).

In response I would asking him to consider the following points.

* If the US start printing dollars to pay debt, inflation soar, and so will the cost of all imported goods and raw materials. I would suggest that the US could NOT replace the supply of goods from the Far East, Europe or good forbid the Middle East within its existing industrial and resource base. It would be next to impossible.

* Stephen is correct that Far Eastern countries (And there Governments hate Imports), one wonders if they have heard of the free trade that they are benefiting from? However I would question the statement that this is all reinvested in the US. The majority is held in US Treasury bills, hard currency, or used to acquire overseas assets (Check out the Energy deals that the Chinese are pursuing across the non-OPEC countries, it is truly impressive). If confidence in dollar assets disappears these assets can be moved in seconds to new currencies that will hold their value.

* I would question the view that the US could survive without the goods that it currently imports from Far Eastern and other developing nations (How much US manufacturing has moved to Mexico for example). I am not suggesting a sudden drop in trade to the US from those countries would not be extremely difficult for them. I am suggesting that if the Dollar falls dramatically that it will be the US that suffers the most. Consider the effect if OPEC and other producers, because of a dollar collapse, changed their pricing structure to the Euro, or a floated Yuan. The effect on the price of oil to US citizens would be similar, if not greater than the ’73 Oil shock. It could also be more sustained, lasting for years.

* As regards to the social impact of a new "Great Depression", I confess that Stephen may will be right. However, does the same social and familial cohesion exist in the US of 2005 that existed in the 1930’s? My Grandfather lived through the Depression in the UK and though I would like to say it, I would doubt that I am half as tough and self-reliant as he was.

China is not likely to go to war with the US if it repudiate its debt. Ironically it is more likely to lend the US Government to stabilise the situation and insist on concessions for doing so. Controls on government spend (Military spending?) and a definition of spheres of influence with China taking Taiwan as a down payment.

China cannot want a war with the US now, or in the next ten years. Its large (250+) SU-27 force would be shot out of the skies, its antiquated navy would last only long enough for a US Battle Group to get into range. The US would be in the position to cut off the majority of its oil and raw material supplies (Think Japan in WW2 with Nuclear submarines and long range strike aircraft). In other words it would lose.

Instead the better strategy is to wait, allow the US industrial and technological strength to fade away slowly (Or in the worst case quickly). Build a strong technological basis, which the Europeans are eager to sell when they left their arms embargo (Well done the US congress and Senate for stopping that… for now).

In 15-20 years time, your aircraft are as good or better (And far more numerous). An Aerospace Force that can take out those now 45 year old carriers from orbit (What is the Chinese word for THOR?) as well as any super tanker or cargo ship heading for the US. The US Satellite Surveillance system would be wide open to destruction. To pessimistic, perhaps, but if the US Economy goes through a sustained period of difficulty, or the retiring "baby boomers" start demanding better benefits, what politician would be able to stand on a platform for increased defence spending? (In 1914 the UK could build dreadnoughts a year (just) by 1939 our industries struggled to produce four KGV class battleships over the course of the whole war!)

Many may think I am being to generous to the Chinese leadership, but consider China and the Soviet Union twenty years ago and now.

The Trade Deficit MATTERS! In an age of Globalisation and Hi-Tech weapon that confers enormous advantages to forces that possess them, a strong industrial, technological and financial base is the prerequisites to be a Superpower. Without them the US is just the USSR with a better standard of living.

Simon Enefer


Dear Jerry:

That long "we are winning" article on Iraq provokes mixed emotions . On the one hand I am glad that we seem to finally have a handle on this mess, which I described from the beginning as a "tar baby" problem. We are fortunate in having the most educated, technologically advanced and , it seems, adaptable military in the world. You need three things to be a general in our Army now. A parachutist badge, a Ranger tab and a PhD. That is the maddening thing about this entire adventure. The U.S Government, at considerable expense, created a brain trust of flag rank officers, and then this administration not only ignored their recommendations but humiliated those who spoke truth to power. General Shinseki was only the most obvious victim of this policy that stressed ideological purity over all.

When we finally do find the turpentine and get the tar of Iraq off of us, it will be these same people who will rush to say "See, we were right all along!". Given their proven ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, I suspect that the American public and the world at large will not buy it. In some ways we are fighting the last battle of the Cold War in Iraq. The Iraqi military we confronted was Soviet trained and the insurgency, as that article pointed out, works on a Leninist model.

It is also the last chapter of another war; the one in Vietnam. We are relearning the very hard lessons we were taught there. Military action does not exist in a vacuum; it has multiple political aspects. The biggest danger I see now is that, like Vietnam and Korea before it, when the average American citizen thinks of these issues, it will be remotely, as something that does not touch them. That will be somewhat ameliorated by the force structure changes that placed the National Guard and the Reserves in the front lines this time. The civilian leadership of the DOD, under Bush, now wants to undo all of those because ti does make the war personal to voters, especially in the rural areas. Sons and daughters are being killed and maimed for life.

No one thinks of this war as a 'great cause". Afghanistan is a bit different because it was a response to an attack. Iraq was preemptive. Based upon lies easily proved. And we are seeking to impose democracy by a most undemocratic means; conquest. If not in actual fact, by radical changes to the prevailing culture and political theory.

When I came out of Vietnam to Germany in 1969 I was surprised to find that that war war regarded , even within the Army, as a noisy sideshow to the main event; the face off with the USSR in Europe. (I went from being a company level clerk to a General Staff NCO. Very educational.) Vietnam veterans were no more respected than in civilian life and regarded with the same cold suspicion. The Army fell apart in the 1970s because of all of the negative cultural memes generated by that war. It rebuilt itself, becoming, as Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy said, the greatest engine for social change in the nation.

Last year I channeled my own anger over this war and the treatment Vietnam veterans receive into a stage play called "Memorial Day". Now, less than a year later, it is being produced in a showcase at the Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond. (May 13th, 14th and 15th.) It is a very narrow view, of course, of a particular situation related to one family's experience of this war. I seemed to have touched a nerve with it. The company and the people producing it are strangers to me. I submitted it because they do new plays. They liked it and are very committed to it. That gives me hope that there will be other productions. There will be discussions afterwards which I am supposed to lead.

I expect that discussion will be a very political one because it is a very political play. I have described it as 'anti-war but pro-soldier". Madeline Albright once asked Colin Powell, "What is the point of having this speeded military if you never use it?" Well, as Teddy Roosevelt said "Speak softly and carry a big stick" . Having extreme military power can be very persuasive, especially when you have more than the rest of the world combined, but such power is not infinite and is quickly diminished when you allow yourselves to be drawn into "tar baby" conflicts. One of the side effects of the Iraq war is that we have lost our ability to counter other aggressions, running from the ambitions of Iran to those of China and India, both of whom aspire to join us as superpowers and with whom we are already locked in an economic war.

But such problems are for generals and politicians. Ordinary citizens; the ones who do the dying, are not really engaged by such concepts. My play is about them, and the real price we pay. I am heartened that we've finally found the path. We can't cut and run, but we can disengage slowly, peeling the tar off bit by bit.


Francis Hamit


Subject: Quantum wire

Jerry: Niven's science fiction certainly made a lot of use of super-conducting technology. Here we go: "NASA has awarded Rice University's Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory a four-year, $11 million contract to produce a prototype power cable made entirely of carbon nanotubes."

http://media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=7336&SnID=36658181 <http://media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=7336&SnID=36658181

Chris C

The pig is taught by sermons and epistles To think the God of Swine has snout and bristles Judibras.

The original quantum wire story was by Randall Garrett



CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Subject: IQ

Dear Jerry,

Let's add some joy to the IQ discussion.

Based on the many people I have been involved with high IQ's, I have a personal theory.

1. The normal human with an IQ of 100 has 10 personal characteristics that make him or her a full, pleasant, well rounded human

2. With each 10 points of increase in IQ, a human loses one of their "human" characteristics.

3. Thus, when you get to an IQ of 190 to 200, you get the idiot savant who can barely p**s in a pot, but can do math or some other thing beautifully.

4. So, which characteristics of humanness (honesty, compassion, kindness, etc.) are all these people, who keep telling me I am stupid, (who are apparently running the World) missing?

This may be why the World, which is being run by these "very smart" people is such a mess. Which part of "Idiot Savant" is operational here

Have a nice day.

Vasyl Banduric A Fan

PS: The World needs your SURVIVAL OF FREEDOM republished. It was before its' time. Especially the Future "School".

It does look as if having the world run by smart people isn't working very well... Bring back the aristocrats? Not optimum either

Incidentally, I don't find your characterization of extremely high IQ people very accurate. People like Minsky and McCarthy are not precisely normal, but they are most certainly competent in everyday tasks as well as in their specialties.

On the other hand pure intelligence alone is not a particularly good selection criterion for leadership. It helps to be "120 or above" but beyond that it's not so clear.



Subject: A Response to Simon Enefer's Comments

By the way, the Letter from England will be Monday or Tuesday--we're visiting the Lake District.

The service sector is not using the university graduates we're producing here in the North of England, so a lot of them are having difficulty finding appropriate jobs. The math and science background of most graduates is very weak, so the high tech and industrial sectors are very unhappy. The civil service is currently being used to absorb them, but that can only go so far. Parents are noticing that their children are going from enthusiastic about science at age 10 to very unenthusiastic by age 15, which suggests the problem might be in secondary education. It's not just science, either--math, foreign languages, and the ability to communicate literately seem to be affected. It's probably a combination of the test regime, early academic overspecialization, and the teachers' loss of control over the classroom.

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her



You recently posted an article about Ashkenazi Jews outperforming everybody else. The implication there was that about 1,500 years of the high intensity evolutionary pressure provided by goyim mobs was enough to produce a 12% IQ increase. This would actually fit quite well with the sort of differences we see. One problem with assuming that there have been substantial racial IQ differences over evolutionary periods is that one would have expected the smarter race to supplant the other while we were still living in caves. If, however, we assume that high IQ is not an evolutionary advantage to pre-urban societies & did not exist then, it would explain why there has been no long term evolutionary pressure in favour of Chinese & against sub-saharans.

This would suggest that IQ differences would be apparent between racially quite similar groups (Iraqis should outperform Europeans, Greeks & Romans outperform Scandinavians & Ethiopians outperform Congolese) - I have no idea if this is so which makes it a suitable test.

As regards the nature/nurture argument it is worth remembering that European culture has outrun Chinese & Scandinavian, Iraqi over the last few centuries so good luck & not being visited by Jenghiz Khan may beat brains.

I remember reading somewhere that Polynesians score higher than just about anybody - since they have been settled for not much over a millennium this supports the quick evolution theory if we also accept the idea, popular in the US, that people who migrate tend to be smarter than those who stay at home.

On the other hand I understand that the largest cranial cases ever found belong to Cro-Magnon & Neanderthal skulls & it's been downhill since then. This could suggest that it is only farmers who don't need brains while hunters need them at least as much as city dwellers. Or it could just suggest that none of us are as smart as we like to think we are.

Neil Craig

I will leave comment to Cochran



Subject: Debtor Nation.


 Roland Dobbins




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, April 29, 2005

Subject: Microsoft Struggles To Find Skilled Labor

Bill Gates must read your blog….

InformationWeek <http://www.informationweek.com/

A panel discussion at the Microsoft Research Tech Fair provided insight into the future of innovation and U.S. competitiveness.

By Stephanie Stahl, InformationWeek <http://www.informationweek.com/;jsessionid=I
VIWSPDAMCDD0QSNDBCSKHSCJUMEKJVN>  April 27, 2005 URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=161601274 

Want to know a little bit about what the future will look like? A stroll through the Library of Congress on Wednesday provided a glimpse of some of the latest innovations in computing and science on display at the Microsoft Research Tech Fair. It was an impressive combination of the gee-whiz and the practical.

The event also provided insight into the future of innovation and U.S. competitiveness from a panel discussion with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates; Rick Rashid, senior VP of Microsoft Research; Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Rep, David Dreier, R-Calif.; Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University; and Phillip Bond, undersecretary of technology for the Department of Commerce.

The discussion sparked a lively debate about H-1B visa caps, the availability of IT jobs, and the poor state of K-12 education.

"The opportunity for innovation is stronger today than ever before," Gates said. But he added that the climate is also a "bit scary," noting that investment in education in the United States is eroding at the same time investment in research funding and interest in science are going down.

"I'm quite concerned that the U.S. will lose its relative position in something that is very critical to this country," Gates said.

The impact that's had on Microsoft centers on hiring. "The jobs are there and they are high-paying jobs, but we are not seeing the pipeline [of talented job applicants] as it used to be," Gates said. Instead, talented foreign students are either not coming to the United States to study or they're returning home for other opportunities once they graduate, he said.

Microsoft isn't finding an adequate labor pool in the United States, Gates said. Despite Commerce Department statistics to the contrary, he said, "Anyone who's got the education and the experience, they're not out there unemployed."

Tilghman argued that there's a paradox in American society about education. "The U.S. has the finest higher-education system in the world," she said. "What's failing is the K-12 system." She added, "By the time they get to us [at the university level] they are math-phobic and science-phobic."

How bad is the problem? Bond noted that from 1995 to 2000, the number of students in computer science and engineering was up 130%, but that's gone down 39% since then.

A big part of the problem, Leahy contended, is the lack of visas that are being made available. "The post-9/11 effort to cut down visas was a bad mistake. I think we should have increased them."

"We need to do more to move more IQ through the educational system and through immigration," Rashid added. In fact, he and Gates would like to see the cap on H-1B visas lifted.

Not only did the panelists agree that the H-1B issue needs to be addressed, but Dreier said the federal government needs to rethink policies that create disincentives for doing more research or for working in the United States. On Dec. 31, for example, the R&D tax credit will expire. "We need to make sure we make [those credits] permanent."

After the panel discussion, Microsoft, which spends more than $7 billion a year on R&D, demonstrated some of its own technology advancements as well as some of its collaborative works with the University of San Diego and Carnegie Mellon University.

On display were research projects that promote usability and security. For instance, Microsoft researchers have created a "desktop on a key chain" capability that will allow people to use small and inexpensive flash-based kiosks to capture their desktop (with specific Word documents open, their E-mail box open, a presentation that's being built, etc.) and call it up from another computer or kiosk. That would allow the mobile professional to work without having to lug along a PC.

Another project revealed an innovative database-query interface that will allow businesses to mine confidential data while ensuring privacy. Another initiative lets researchers use pattern recognition <http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=60403043>  for biological insights and medical treatments.

For more on the projects on display at Microsoft Research's Tech Fair, click here <http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=161601296>  .


Gregory Cochran stated: “In 1950 black seniors scored a full seven (yes, SEVEN) years behind whites. Now they score four years behind - true for the last generation or so. Those are the facts. Williams and Sowell are full of it. “

Is this the result of black seniors gaining ground or white seniors falling back? If schools are not pushing the brightest students to their limits then the average student will test closer to the above average student. Of course there could still be influences from culture, nutrition and such that could also explain the closing of the gap.

If I recall, at one time there were a number of black neighborhoods (I am thinking of Harlem, but I may be mistaken) that had a decent standard of living for the residents. While completely segregated they did fairly well on their own. My thoughts are that their culture had access to anything the outside white culture, with its potentially higher IQ, could produce. So while the white community may have provided a greater number of electrical engineers, the blacks could enjoy the technology the whites created.

If I am correct in my thinking, the black population should have been able to maintain a lifestyle well into the middle class. But forced desegregation and the idea of creating a less western culture among the blacks may have resulted in destroying what was once a growing culture. IQ differences alone would not seem to account for what exists today.

There is a lot to think about.

Al Lipscomb

Culture can certainly affect culture (  a truism that is not sufficiently reflected upon). Moreover, what is hereditary and what is environmental may both be swamped by cultural matters: A culture that encourages, for example, alcohol use in pregnant mothers is certainly going to have more low IQ people. Other examples come to mind.


One Mystery explained:

Subject: Exploding toads in Germany

Hi -

The exploding toads in Germany have now been explained (seriously!). Explanation in German under


Apparently a batch of crows learned that by toad livers taste pretty good and were able to attack live toads and with a single beak cut get a significant portion of the liver. The toads in question suck in air to expand pouches to attract mates and it is the mating season in Germany for toads. Since there is no separation between the lungs and the rest of the organs, the air sucked in by the toads ended up going into the rest of the body, and the toads started to take on air. Since one of the reflexes of such a toad when attacked is to make itself larger by sucking in air, when the crows attacked the toads, they took on more air. When the crows made their cut into the toad to get that part of the liver, the toads experienced, shall we say, a catastrophic failure of internal organs, the lungs pop and the organs of the toad are pushed out of the hole that the crows made.

The fact that several 1000 toads ended this way is the result of crows being fairly intelligent: one estimate was that 5 crows could do in 100 toads this way in a single meal.

Best regards,

John F. Opie

I heard something of the sort in a brief chunk of George Noury's show while driving across the desert last night. Ah well.


Subject: Oil prices:

Dear Jerry:

Back in the 1840's, a mining expert predicted that Britain couldn't retain a large population for more than another century, because of the way coal costs would go up... 8-).

This sort of static prediction -- Erlich and the Club of Rome back in the 1970's come to mind -- is always wrong when dealing with human beings, particularly human beings with a capitalist economy and the scientific method.

The predictions assume that when the resource is gone, nothing can be substituted and the people dependent on it will perish. It's based on an ecological model used to study animal populations. If the seal population eats all the cod, the seals die.

This simply never happens with industrial-era humans. Instead what happens is that the price goes up... and this immediately gives an incentive to a) get more output per unit of the scarce input; b) find more inputs of the scarce resource; c) find other things to substitute for the scarce input.

That's precisely happened with the "oil crisis" back in the 1970's. We ended up with cheaper energy than we had before the crisis! Likewise with every other natural resource, all of which are cheaper now than they were in 1905, despite our having five times as many people with vastly higher incomes and consumption rates.

Just to take two examples, there's about as much oil in the tar-sands deposits of Alberta, and in the heavy-oil basins of the Orinoco, as there is in Saudi Arabia. The difference is that Saudi Arabia has a production price of about $2.50 per barrel, and has had a lot of spare capacity, so that it can drive the price down to preserve market share.

Alberta tar and the Orinoco heavy oil deposits have production costs, IIRC, of around $20 per barrel. When everyone knew that Saudi Arabia would drive down the price and bankrupt investors, little capital went into these fields.

Saudi Arabia has now lost that ability, because they don't have an overhang of spare capacity sufficient to affect world prices. Note that huge capital flows have been hitting Alberta recently for tar sand extraction, and that only political instability is preventing the same thing in Venezuela. The oil there, however, won't go away.

I agree that the population of earth will decline in the 21st century, however.

That's because the global Total Fertility Rate will decline below the replacement level within about 10 years. Current trends indicate it'll go right on falling after it hits 2.1. Hence population will fall -- fewer people will be born than die. Depending on how far below 2.1 it falls, total population will begin declining between 2030 and 2050.

Yours, Steve Stirling

As I said in A Step Farther Out 30 years ago, wealth is the best population limiter eve known...


Subject: Debtor Nation.


---- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Bat Boy.


-- Roland Dobbins


Dear Jerry,

In Friday's mail, you quoted:

"On display were research projects that promote usability and security. For instance, Microsoft researchers have created a "desktop on a key chain" capability that will allow people to use small and inexpensive flash-based kiosks to capture their desktop (with specific Word documents open, their E-mail box open, a presentation that's being built, etc.) and call it up from another computer or kiosk. That would allow the mobile professional to work without having to lug along a PC."

Some innovation. It's so revolutionary that it has been available since 2004 as an option for a Linux-on-a-bootable-CD distribution known as Knoppix (www.knoppix.net). It's also available in other Linux distro, e.g. "Mandriva Move" (http://www.mandriva.com/products/move), which is a boxed set containing the bootable CD with Office programs and the key chain.

Now, it's very forgivable for regular computer users to be unaware of last year's products. But InformationWeek journalists are *paid* to follow the computing scene. Yet they present this "innovation" without any reference to the state of the art. In other words, they were snowjobbed, which is the worst possible sin for a journalist. Dishonest PR guys, I can understand. But IW's incompetent hacks are a disgrace.

IW doesn't seem to be worth reading anymore. Too bad.


Seems a bit harsh. In any event I reviewed such products some time ago. And I have no idea of what space limits the writer faced, or what the editors did.


Subject: Desktop on a keychain

I took a quick look at the mandriva web site and it appears that the product described there does not match the features described in the Microsoft product. The mandriva product is interesting, but does not seem to be able to capture the dynamic state of the desktop and move it.

--- Al Lipscomb

Thanks. I'm in Phoenix with a wireless connection and not much time










This week:


read book now


Saturday, April 30, 2005

Subject: Households and states:

Dear Jerry:

A household and a state are essentially different in quality, not merely in size. For starters, individuals and families are bound by law, since they live within a sovereign state. The system of states is not one which operates under law; it's an anarchy ruled by force and its threat.

There are treaties and customary forms of behavior, but nobody can make a state obey them except by war or other means of putting the knuckle on, and in fact states break treaties and violate customary norms when they think they have an interest in doing so and can deter or ride out retaliation from their peers.

Since a sovereign state cannot be bound by any authority superior to itself, only fear of retaliation can prevent it from doing things that individuals cannot -- for example, unilaterally redefining the terms of a contract if it decides it wants to.

Argentina just did so a few months ago, by unilaterally rescheduling its debts. It suffered no consequences of note; the bankers grumbled but went along with it. What else could they do -- send gunboats to Buenos Aires as a collection squad? They had a choice between getting something, on the Argentine government's terms, or getting nothing at all but an Argentine-accented Spanish invitation to do something unlikely with their mothers.

The United States has the additional advantage that virtually all its debts are denominated in its own currency, which is also the global reserve currency, thus securing to the US the profits of global arbitrage.

In essence, if foreigners hold US government securities or other private dollar-denominated debt, they hold a promise to pay in dollars. They can accept dollars in payment, or they can sell the securities to someone else... who also has to accept dollars in payment. The holder can then use the dollars to buy US exports, use them to invest in the US (in which case the returns are also in dollars), or use them to buy something else from a third party, who then has our little green pieces of paper.

The obligation doesn't represent a promise to pay anything _but_ dollars... and we can make as many dollars as we please. It's not as if it were a promise to ship them gold, or wheat, or anything tangible.

This means that everyone who holds dollar-denominated paper has a deep vested interest in the status of the dollar as the world reserve currency, and also has only the above three choices as to their disposition.

So the fact that China runs a large trade 'surplus' with the US makes China dependent on America, not vice versa. They send us shoes and refrigerators; we send them little pieces of paper, or the equivalent thereof; after which we have the goods, and they have the paper.

It's the modern equivalent of a vassal state paying tribute to the overlord. They work, we consume the products of their work.

Yours, Steve Stirling

And they never catch wise?

Subject: 'overclocking' comment

I enjoyed reading Cochran's 'Overclocking' essay. Very controversial--but very interesting. Your statement: regarding IQ: there is no real controversy among people familiar with the subject matter. IQ isn't a perfect measure or anything like it but it is still the best single predictor of success we have: and that means any kind of success, is simply false--in my opinion. There's all kinds of controversy. Howard Gardner and his students, for example, and the entire arena of information processing and multiple intelligences. Not to mention Gould's 'Mismeasure of Man'. Derek Bok stated that IQ scores are good predictors of success thru the sophmore year in college--maybe. In any case, it's pretty obvious that some written test, which has no basis in biology, but is rather based on mathematical empiricism, is unlikely to predict a Bach, Michelangelo, or Einstein. Or even a Pournelle.

S. Roy Schubert, PhD

If you are impressed by Gould you will be impressed by many things that I do not find compelling. As to predicting at the very high end of the spectrum, if I am looking for genius I do not look among the average.




CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now



Trying to get home. See View...





The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.


If you are not paying for this place, click here...

IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.

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. 

Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- Thursday -- Friday -- Saturday -- Sunday

 Search engine:


or the freefind search

   Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search

Boiler Plate:

If you want to PAY FOR THIS PLACE I keep the latest information HERE.  MY THANKS to all of you who sent money.  Some of you went to a lot of trouble to send money from overseas. Thank you! There are also some new payment methods. I am preparing a special (electronic) mailing to all those who paid: there will be a couple of these. I have thought about a subscriber section of the page. LET ME KNOW your thoughts.

If you subscribed:

atom.gif (1053 bytes) CLICK HERE for a Special Request.

If you didn't and haven't, why not?

If this seems a lot about paying think of it as the Subscription Drive Nag. You'll see more.


Search: type in string and press return.





Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.

birdline.gif (1428 bytes)