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Mail 436 October 16 - 22, 2006







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Monday  October 16, 2006

There is a great deal of important mail today. I will try to organize into groups.

Subject: Letter from England

Diane and I explored the landscape around Old Bewick in Northumberland Sunday

Religious row about cross
<http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1922900,00.html>  <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6053298.stm>  And veil <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bradford/6050392.stm

NHS grief
?xml=/news/2006/10/15/ ndinners115.xml>
  Do visit <http://www.telegraph.co.uk> and look for "NHS centres 'rationing consultant visits'"

UK Cabinet internal argument about gay rights <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Observer

North Korea and racial purity

Surveillance drones to monitor yobs

Cardinal supports Scottish separatism <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6052552.stm

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw> Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>


Our Aching Military


In your mail exchanges regarding Iraq, you have some readers who express support for continuing in Iraq, in one way or another. I can see the arguments on each side, though I can find no logical support for the proposition that we should "stay the course" or any argument that essentially means making no substantive changes. But, there is one issue that has gotten very little play, and it's going to become more and more important, I predict. The pay raise for the military for 2007 is 2.7%, the smallest raise I've received in 18 years of service. Incidentally, the operational tempo is the highest I've seen in that 18 years.

I wrote Senator Warner about this. My point to him was that if you only have enough money to give that much of a raise, then don't give O-5 and up and E-8 and up raises, and boost the raise of the lower enlisted and young officers who bear the brunt of the war. I got a nice form letter, thanking me for my interest, and lauding the Senator's support for all things military. I think he missed the point.

Recruitment will be increasingly difficult as it is. An unpopular war, and joining the Guard or Reserve now means routine activations. You are practically guaranteed to be separated from your family for extended times, and at a pay rate that is not going to cut it for many young families. The military doesn't do much to assist your spouse in finding employment, and the constant change in duty station every couple of years exacerbates finding meaningful employment. Stop giving decent pay raises, and it's going to get worse. I note that Congress has no difficulty increasing their own wages.


LTC Bryan Broyles USA

I note that the Baker Commission has in essence said that "Stay the course" is not a viable alternative. Options include "phased withdrawal" which is cut and run on the installment plan, some variant of the "enclave strategy" once proposed by Gavin for Viet Nam, and some others I don't quite grasp; all we have is leaks, so that's not astonishing.

Another alternative is WARRE, war to the knife, conscription and rationing, the full power of the Republic with a million troops in Iraq. We are certainly capable of doing this, as Athens was fully capable of sending a major expedition to Syracuse, and the outcome is far likelier to be be better than the Athenians experienced -- although it could happen, if we go in big, change Presidents, and have that expedition commanded by a Commander in Chief who didn't want to be there. Hillary as Nikias? But that is unlikely.

It is also unlikely that we will go to warre.


Subject: FW: lock down


You might find this an interesting read. It is from a friend of mine who is working at the US embassy in Kabul. I have his permission for you to publish.

He was here in Qatar with me but wanted to work on the 3516's (Cat generators) they have up there. Personally I think he is nuts.



From: Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2006 9:44 AM To: Subject: lock down

Well, we're locked down here big time here in Kabul. Got machine guns all over the joint with snipers on the roofs. We had three bombs that went off yesterday on Jalalabad Road, the very cursed road that we have to drive every day, 20 minutes each way. And the word went out in the middle of the night that there was a squad of at least 12 BBIED (body borne IED) idiots on the prowl in the city just aching to blow up Westerners. And so they locked down the Embassy. Of course, a van came out to our compound to bring in the critical power, water, and HVAC crew--well, only two from each. And so we're here drinking coffee and telling lies.

Just sitting at the front Embassy gate was exciting enough. You got itchy fingered troops all over the place, crouching behind the sandbags, tons of Gurkha's (tough little troops from Nepal who have served well in the British military since forever), Global Security troops with their hardened armored cars and machine guns, glassing the streets and pedestrians with binoculars, and so forth. The north entrance was closed with concertina wire across it. I told the driver to go to the south entrance which wasn't as exposed, but by then we had to give up our IDs to the guards.

About then comes this veiled lady--I think she was a woman--who looked uncommonly bulky. Afghan women are usually fairly slender, but this sister was heavily bulked up. She came strolling right up to the van. I told the driver to get the hell out of there, but he froze at the wheel. Luckily enough, she either was actually a fat lady, or if she had a bomb strapped on she decided not to explode really ugly men. So we made it just fine and had a good laugh about it.

By then our badges were brought back and they told us to around by the Palace entrance--where we should have gone in the first place.

We don't have spare cots here like we would have on the ice, so who knows how long we're stuck. Hopefully the bombers will get bored and go home to their yogurt by tonight.

After Ramadan is over hopefully things will calm down. But last night I read the ANOS report for the last month and what you folks hear back home is only the tip of the ice berg. This poor little country is getting torn to pieces by radicals. There are bombings and assassinations and kidnappings going on at a feverish pace in every province. We really screwed up by not finishing the job here before going on to Iraq. It has festered and now has blown up and there is nothing we can do about it.

Senator Frist just went on record today saying that he is now convinced that the war is unwinnable in Afghanistan from a military angle, that the only way out of this mess is to invite the Taliban to take part in the government. In the short term, he's right. In the long term, we know from the past that fundamentalists rarely honor promises and they will turn Afghanistan back into a 17th century Islamic state. But at least the short term will permit us to get our troops out--just like in 'Nam: "peace with honor", at least for awhile.

Enough for today.

Stay safe and happy!


Hi Jerry,

You wrote: >What can we achieve, and what steps must we take if defeat is inevitable?

Good question. Well defeat is inevitable, in the sense that: Iraq has not become a democracy, might become an islamic republic, might fall apart, might get into an increasingly bloody civil war. But maybe scenes like the fall of Saigon can be avoided, if we tell the Iraqi leaders that: 1) We will leave 1. december 2007 - no matter what. 2) "All your airspace are belong to us", 3) We will pay xxxx $ for any foreign islamic fighter delivered to our forces (if they know they will be free, they have no need of Al-Qaeda), 4) You will not export oil, if Al-Qaeda operates in Iraq. 5) If you want to divide the country - fine - but if you can't agree on the borders, then we will draw them, and bomb those who try to invade. 6) If you want to export oil, you will have to share it fairly between Sunni, Shia and Kurd.

Wouldn't you say that it would have a realistic chance of calming the civil war and might avoid the loss/panic of those who have collaborated with the western forces? No victory is possible (unless you call dictatorship or genocide victory), but embarrassing defeat is avoidable.

Another less debated part of Sir Richard Dannatts interview, was his division close to your lines of: Christians, Islamic fundamentalists, and non-religious. He doesn't call it the war of the civilizations, but he says that Islamic fundamentalists has got a chance in England, because the loss of Christian values. Few are commenting that part.


It is a war of civilizations, but we do not realize that. Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization while it commits suicide.

Dr Pournelle

 Baghdad burning <riverbendblog.blogspot.com>  My reading of this young woman's blog reveals that security in Baghdad is deteriorating and that the ignorant religious fanatics now dictate how everyone lives. She says the US Army is not in control of Baghdad. To quote James Tiberius Kirk, "Conquest is easy. Control is not." (Mirror, Mirror) The factions in the unacknowledged civil war control the streets. American soldiers control only the ground they stand on.

If I may, I do not think the way of Mohammed is to blame for the actions of fanatics. Ignorance is.

I know and count as friends many Moslems. All are moderates and all condemn the fanatics. The feature that distinguishes them from the fanatics is education. All are college educated. I admit that all the Moslems I know are in the US, but I also know of many ignorant fanatics in the US and they are Christian.

Ignorance kills.

I am making my point badly. I trust that you see the point through this clumsy attempt and can state it better than I.

Respectfully h lynn keith



Just in time to confirm the back-of-the-envelope calculations of you and your correspondents, the Thirty Million Man Army:




Subj: Why No One Steals Russian Nukes


=Old Russian (Soviet era) nuclear warheads aren't getting onto the black market because you may be able to steal them, but getting them to work is much more difficult. Russian nukes are more high maintenance than most, and after as little as six months without tinkering and replacement of worn parts, the bombs no longer work. ...=

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com







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Tuesday,  October 17, 2006

Kerry Kiloton Equivalent Scale for Earthquakes



 Bottom line


Richter    Equivalent Kilotons (KKI)


2.0                                0.001 (1 ton)

3.0                                0.032

3.5                                0.180 (180 tons)

                               (NK in this range)

4.0                                1.0  (1 KT)

5.0                               32.

6.0                           1,000.  (1 MT)

6.5                           5,600.  (Hawaii today)

7.0                         32,000.

7.2                         63,000.  (Tsar Bomba)

8.0                    1,000,000.

9.0                  32,000,000.

9.2                  63,000,000. (Sumatra 2005)




Subject: 300 Billionth 

Dr. Pournelle:

From one of the many on-line stories about the 300 billionth person in the US:

"This year, there's a good chance the 300 millionth American has already walked across the border from Mexico." (from MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15298443/from/RS.3/  ; the quote is not attributed to anyone, so it could be from the writer of the story (an Associated Press byline with no writer attribution).

Regards, Rick Hellewell



Have you seen Scott Adams blog today?

He says "For a fleeting moment I considered reasoning with the TSA guy. Surely he could see that the liquid part of my container was minimal. But one look in his eyes told me that thinking wasn't his sport."

http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2006/10/dangerous_conta.html <http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2006/10/dangerous_conta.html

Best wishes

Paul Dove


Subject: The Stewart case 

Jerry, you wrote:

"Lynne Stewart got two years for being a transmission belt for her terrorist (convicted) clients."

And Martha Stewart got how much for what she didn't do?

Obviously it pays to be a left leaning liberal in this world.




Subject: French police 


I was pointed to the above link in another forum. The part that I found the most interesting was..."Once inside, their exit was barred and they were set upon by around 50 youths..." . Nice ambush, and well organized.

So I wonder how long it will be until we can look forward to this happening here? If it hasn't already.....

Chris Grantham

Given what happens to conservative speakers at major universities in the US right now, not long at all.


Jerry P:

"Given what happens to conservative speakers at major universities in the US right now, not long at all. " So you equate radical French Muslim youths with the students at major universities? What universities? Stanford for example? It would be interesting if you were to quote at least one example where American students came to a lecture wearing balaclavas and threatened the speaker with bodily harm, and were prepared to commit physical violence in their rage. By the way, were the conservative speakers speaking in support of the war in Iraq?

Not that the students at major universities are really interested in dialog about topics like world peace and how to protect the US, but their rudeness surely can't be equated to the violence that the French have encountered by radicals who burn cars and terrorize their neighborhoods. Maybe take a deep breath and go visit USC or some other institution in the area.


The leader of the Minutemen was convinced that he was being threatened. I certainly thought I was at one major university. And I recall the "Days of Rage" in Chicago, if perhaps you do not. American students tend to be squeamish about violence; but communists used to have no problems getting them to overcome their bourgeois sentimentalities once they had their allegiance. I see no reason to change my statement.


Subject: Assistive Technology,



It is certainly the case that different children are different...




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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Subject:  Darwin's Papers on the web


A site well worth visiting. I just started looking at it and there is a lot of material from Darwin to look at. Wish I had more time.

Mike Turner









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Thursday, October 19, 2006


Subject: Installing IE7, 


I just today read that Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7, so I followed the link in the news story and downloaded a copy of the installation file. I started it up, and it told me to close all antivirus and antispyware software, so I unplugged my computer from my router, stopped my antivirus software and resumed the installation.

The installation went smoothly. Typical for Microsoft, the installer told me what it was doing as it went along. I was happy to see the malicious software removal tool was part of the package.

When it was done it told me that it was done installing, but that I would need to install updated software from the Microsoft Update site, so when I restarted my system - reconnected - that was the first place I went. I had checked for updates before I had started the IE7 installer, so I should not have been surprised to find there was nothing there for me to update except for tired old Windows Messenger, DRM Net Framework and other useless impedimenta which I always ignore.

In starting up, IE7 asked if I wanted to engage its anti-phishing feature. Firefox's anti-phishing feature is turned on by default, but can be disengaged in the Options.

The IE7 main window is a compacted copy of Firefox with the don't-hide-the-tabs option enabled. I guess that is a form of flattery. I haven't tried any betas of Vista, so I don't know what it will look like, but I can see what the Firefox developers were trying to emulate when they developed their new look for Firefox 2.0, which will be released in another week or two.

The dropdown history puts the current page in context with forward and back history, which is interesting and may be a timesaver.

The icons for the Links bar look too much like the we-don't-know-what-application-goes-with-this-filetype icon for my taste.

Tabs: the dropdown tabs list is nice. I don't know whether Firefox imitated an early IE7, or IE7 imitated Firefox or the tool originated independently, but it is nice to have. IE7 did borrow Firefox's method of middle-clicking on a link or bookmark to open the link in a new tab, which is sensible. The focused vs. non-focused tabs are similar to my SphereGnome theme family on Firefox. I don't like the IE7 method of opening a new tab next to the focused tab, pushing the other tabs further to the right; but it may be better when you have pushed tabs off the page.

Tabs get too small when you make too many of them - too small to have any meaningful label. This is unnecessary since the tabs can be pushed off the page. One really nice feature of the Tab List is that the tabs which are on the page are shaded in the list. A great idea.

The Quick Tabs feature - showing up to 16 reduced pages on my 1280x1024 display - is cute. It is probably even useful. And it is pretty, much prettier than the browser's main window.

Overall, a worthy competitor to Firefox. The only thing I miss from IE6 is the ability to drag toolbars anywhere I wanted to in the browser's main window.



Subject: Alas, your books are still proving to be prophetic

Dr. Pournelle,


"After months of being taunted by a gang of yobs, grandmother Diane Bond finally stood up to them when she was abused while walking her pet dog. During a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse, the frail 64-year-old prodded the teenager ringleader gently in the stomach when he urged her to 'Hit me, if you dare'."

"Moments later, the 5ft 1ins pensioner found herself flat on her back and nursing a broken arm after the 15-year-old boy, who was 7 inches taller, pushed her to the ground. But to add insult to injury, police officers arrested her for assaulting a child after his mother moaned he had been attacked."

I seem to recall a similar scene from your novels, involving a man standing up to a youth gang, his prosecution by an ambitious DA, and his pet kitten being nailed to his door.

The news item above occurred in England, but sadly would not be surprising if it happened in the US.

We may yet live to see the establishment of the CoDominion.

Take care, Winchell Chung

There are 82 gangs in the San Fernando Valley now, with plenty in North Hollywood.


Subj: 100 men a month meat grinder?

That's one of the questions, isn't it? How many men a month?


Does that look like a "100 men a month meat grinder"? Seems to me 100 men a month would be about 25 a week. I see spikes above that level, but not many, and I see lots of weeks below 20.

Can the enemy sustain the current high rate? Or is this like the Battle of the Bulge, a last gasp before collapse?

We won't know for years. If we give up now, it won't matter much: we'll have made it like the Tet Offensive.

The commanders in the field, and even the SECDEF, might have a better idea, if they're looking at data with better resolution in the space whose axes are geographic location (al-Anbar, Baghdad, elsewhere), nature of engagement (did our guys get ambushed or were they attacking?) and which enemy (al Qaeda, Baathist, Mahdi Army, ...) and if the books aren't being cooked.

There's now much of a downward trend, true. But is that because we're in a steady-state quagmire, or because we're carefully working our way through our target list (al Qaeda, then Baathists, now Mahdi Army...) and will, in due course, run out of targets worthy of *our* attention -- leaving the final cleanup to the Iraqis, as has always been the plan?

Are the reports faked, that most of the Sunni Arab tribes in al-Anbar have now turned against the insurgents? What would it be worth, in terms of a temporary spike in casualties, to convince the last few holdout tribes there that it's time to try the political game instead?


Counter-Terrorism: Iraqi Tribes Turn on al Qaeda

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

We can probably reinstall Sunni dominance in Iraq. Whether you call that democracy or not is a different question. We can also partition Mesopotamia. I do not believe we can install national liberal democracy with rule of law in a national Iraq.

Subj: Iraq: Oct 2006 Coalition Conference



Interesting that convoys no longer get ambushed on the road between Baghdad and the airport.

=Eighty-nine Iraqi Army battalions are in charge of their own battle space – on a map, a swath of perhaps three-quarters of the country – and that number will pass 100 by year’s end. Two Iraqi provinces fell under complete Iraqi control in the past three months — that number could double by January. The Iraqi chain of command is solidifying. The Iraqi security forces are growing. And the Baghdad Security Plan grinds on, neighborhood to neighborhood, house to house.=

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com


Subject: Join the Legions, see the world....


Tim of Angle


Subj: Is the advisory effort in Iraq broken? or just adolescent?


Summarizes _Wall Street Journal_ and _LA Times_ pieces on what's wrong with the work of advising Iraqis.

A big part of the problem is that doing advisory work is not career-enhancing, so top-quality people neither seek such assignments nor are given them.

Maybe that's changing:


My own view is that this is most likely just another example of how Americans win wars:


Most likely, we just haven't figured out *institutionally* how to do it yet -- the institutions that have to do it have to grow up some. Of course that'll go better if the parents let the kids outa the basement and feed them better... . 8-\

Note that the widely-lauded book by Nagl, _Learning To Eat Soup With A Knife_, is not just about counterinsurgency, it's at least as much about the different learning (or not) styles of the British-in-Malaya and the Americans-in-Vietnam.


Preface to [the second, paperback edition of] Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam by John A. Nagl

=[P]erhaps the most basic flaw in the book that follows ... is something of a blithe sense that defeating the Communist insurgents in Malaya was easy once Sir Gerald Templer and Harold Briggs showed the British army what to do, and that the American army could similarly have won in Vietnam if only it had adopted earlier the changes promulgated by Creighton Abrams and Bob Komer. The truth is rather more complex. Changing an army is an extraordinarily challenging undertaking. Britain was able to adapt to defeat the insurgency in Malaya for many reasons, but those reasons certainly included the British army’s comparatively small size and its organizational culture that had been honed in a number of small wars fought over generations. Changing the American army is a task of an entirely different scale, a challenge that the organization struggled with during the Vietnam War.=

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

I had flagged those articles for an essay yesterday, but Inferno got in the way. The real question is not whether we can create a constabulary; it is whether we ought to be doing that. Should we be over there? Should we create the kind of occupation forces that are good at this sort of thing? These are questions that go to the heart of America and our purpose in this world.

Is it our job to be the shining beacon, the city on the hill, to be the best United States we can be, or to go impose something less than that on others, and thereby assure that we will not be the best we can be? Or is that a silly question?


Subject: Google's code search

Dear Dr. Pournelle

Did you see this new Google service? http://www.google.com/codesearch

The coolest thing they ever did - methinks. For example, as a Python afficionado, just run this simple query:

lang:py factorial

Best -- KE



Subject: Harry Potter's Cloak of Invisibility next?

Hi Jerry, I think I remember a quote somewhere about "sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic" or words to that effect. Well, looks like some folks have come up with a first pass at an Invisibility cloak for microwaves - which may be extended to visible light:


Keep going strong, Jim Laheta


Subj: Princeton Project on National Security


Project aims to ‘kindle debate’ on U.S. national security - 10/16/2006 - PWB - Princeton

=After more than two years of work and contributions from more than 400 academics, policy-makers and other leading thinkers, the Princeton Project last month released its final report, “Forging a World of Liberty Under Law: U.S. National Security in the 21st Century.”=

== Major recommendations

Major recommendations made by the Princeton Project on National Security in its final report, “Forging a World of Liberty Under Law: U.S. National Security in the 21st Century”:

• The United States must be able to address multiple threats, including: conflict and radicalism in the Middle East; global terror networks; proliferation and transfer of nuclear weapons; the rise of China and regional security in East Asia; global pandemics; and American overdependence on oil.

• Framing the struggle against terrorism as a war similar to World War II is a strategic mistake that strengthens and legitimizes America’s enemies. America’s response must take the form of a “global counterinsurgency” utilizing a range of tools, particularly law enforcement, intelligence and special military operations.

• Sweeping reforms are due for international institutions, including expanding the U.N.Security Council; setting up a new “Concert of Democracies” institution to strengthen cooperation among liberal democracies; and reviving nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

• The United States must build democracy around the world, not by jumping immediately to elections, but by bringing countries up to “PAR” (“Popular, Accountable and Rights-regarding” governments) through incentives and support for common problems.

• The United States must maintain a robust defense by sustaining the military predominance of democracies, updating doctrines of deterrence and retaining the option of preventive uses of military force, but only as a last resort under strict controls.

• A gas tax should be introduced to wean the United States off its dependence on oil. ==

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

New taxes! Astonishingly new idea! And the US must interfere everywhere. The end of history is upon us, but not just yet. Get on! March in step with the flywheel of history. Enlist in the Constabulary today.


Subject: March 2006 Book of the Month

Dr. Pournelle:

I was looking through your Books of the Month link and came across your recommendation for Dr. Sowell's Applied Economics. Good call! One of my MBA profs recommended it as well, and being a fan of Sowell's columns, I zipped off to Barnes & Noble to grab a copy. I've been recommending that book (along with his Basic Economics) to friends with economics-deficient backgrounds. These books help to see through the spin put out by the news and polititions during the current election cycle.

I noticed that month's review also discussed Civilization IV. I have a copy, and enjoy the Warlords expansion pack (when my bride doesn't remind me of some chore or another). You must be a more aggressive player than I, because I never finish before about 2030 or so. I prefer to build up my cities into cultural masterpieces, but what few opponents I have left always have much larger armies. I build one nuke (per remaining opponent) and get left alone. I'm still 50-50 about the "borders" concept introduced in Civ III. I'll probably be purchasing CivCity (a combination of Civilization and Caesar 3) soon, provided I get the garden weeded and the grocery shopping done.

Best regards,

Bill Kelly Houston, TX


Subject: Jerry: Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 and vox repetitive strain injuries


I have been using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 and find it highly functional for taking referenced notes while reading technical books and articles. Some initial training is required, and the environment must be fairly quiet, but it works. I've found it possible to use a Sony ICD-MX20 voice recorder (top rated by Dragon) and headset while sitting comfortably in a deserted library corner, then upload for processing.

It is astounding to see this technology actually function -- dual cores and 2 gigs of RAM blazing-- after decades of work. SciFi come to life.

How people like the Bakers ever imagined a light at the end of the tunnel from 1970 or even 1990 I cannot imagine:


One caveat is sometimes overlooked... the human voice works by muscles, tendons, flesh and blood. It is not magically immune from repetitive strain injuries. Serious users may need pointers from voice coaches on how to keep their larynx properly lubricated with air, and all that. Still, voice interaction gives another option to vary and rest parts of the human musculoskeletal interface.

--John Ganter


Subject: The ultimate gadget

You may know that I collect knives. I’m not sure that’s what this is ….


Russell Kay * Kay & Kaboodle




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Friday,  October 20, 2006

‘Earthquake McGoon’ finally flying home.


-- Roland Dobbins


On Legions.


--- Roland Dobbins

Odd how many are coming to the conclusion that republics perhaps ought not be imperial.


The Job of America

You asked (Mail, 10/19/06):

"Is it our job to be the shining beacon, the city on the hill, to be the best United States we can be, or to go impose something less than that on others, and thereby assure that we will not be the best we can be? Or is that a silly question?"

The correspondents who write to you with hopeful views of the Iraq adventure seem to miss the obvious point you addressed with that question.

Yes, progress in military terms occurs. Yes, we kill far more than we lose. (Although I point out we are at this moment "on track" for our highest American casualty month of the entire war). Yes, the tribal sheiks in Al Anbar province have signed on with the Baghdad government to patrol their province. (This likely means they hope to get ALL outsiders, government and foreign Jihadis, out of their backyard. Of course the way they get the Jihadis OUT may be to stealthily allow them to pass THROUGH to the Killing Fields of Baghdad and the "Sunni Triangle". It is as if we farmed out our southern border security problem to local Hispanic gangs, and likely to be about as successful as that would be).

BUT, as you aptly ask, is this the "job" of the United States of America?

Recruiting non-citizens to fight in an imperial war our own citizens do not support with anything other than coerced levies of their treasure?

Following the literal example of the very empire (British) that we fought two wars with to gain and expand our independence from? Yes, the British crushed an insurgency in Malaysia in the 1950s. I am so heartily TIRED of simpletons grabbing onto this one and using it to point out how we could have won in Vietnam, and can win in Iraq. The Malaysian insurgents were almost exclusively ethnic Chinese non-Muslims in a society that was overwhelmingly ethnic Malay and Muslim. Actual numbers were roughly in these proportions: 65% (about 8 million) Malay Muslim, 25% (about 3 million) Chinese (non-Muslim) and 10% (about 1 million) Indian (mostly non-Muslim). Note those numbers are quite close to the proportions in Iraq, where Sunni Arabs pre-war were about 20%, Shia's 60% and Kurds/Turkomen/Assyrians about 20%. So yes, the methods of the British Empire in Malaysia would probably also work in Iraq. But do we want to literally be an Imperialist Occupier?

Clear thinking is required. Warre, as you like to put it, will work. We can crush our enemies, both those who hate us for who we are AND those who hate us because we are there. "Can we do it?" is not the proper question. "Should we do it?" is. Should we make a "desert" and call it peace?

This is SO like the debate in 1900 over what to do with the Philippines. Recall how that debate was influenced by Kipling's poem "The White Man's Burden"? I remind ("men rarely need educating but often need reminding") that that poem was written specifically for an AMERICAN audience. Kipling was speaking to US when he asked us to "bind your sons to exile". We listened and heeded the siren call of empire. Look at the Philippines today. Not too bad I agree, it's not a total mess. Then look at the rest of Southeast Asia. Only the communist backwaters of Indochina are worse off economically and politically. Would the Philippines have been worse off if we had set them free in 1900, with a treaty of alliance to protect them from being "cherry picked" by another empire? Would Iraq be better off partitioned, with a similar alliance with those there who DO like us (the Kurds)?

One (layman's) definition of insanity is continuing to follow a line of behavior that has repeatedly and consistently resulted in "X", with the expectation that THIS time you will get the result of "Y". If you invade a country and destroy its' institutions, kill, intentionally or inadvertently (doesn't matter to the dead and their families/friends) and then fail to quickly make things better than they were, the people of that country will bend under the yoke a bit, the weak will go along, the average in strength will silently hate you and the strong willed will try to kill you. This experiment has been run a few thousand times. The United States attempt to establish Liberal democracy in Iraq is just one more run of that experiment. Maybe this time we'll get "Y", but I respectfully submit its' insane to think so.

Partition, a few large cantonments in secure regions of Kurdistan, and move on to more achievable and pressing tasks. There's no dearth of them,, as you never cease to point out.



Thank you for publishing my earlier letter. This is in fact what I was trying to get at. There should be two types of conflict. One where it isn’t WARRE as you put it. One where you send in the Marines and Navy and now Special Ops forces, to prove a point. The other is WARRE. Nothing more and nothing less. A lesson to be shown to the world, that if they come to our land and kill our people we will be merciless in tracking you down and finishing you. That there is no place to hide. Running into another country is not the option, for if you do, we will follow. Carpet bombing and tanks and a million machine guns made a year.

WARRE is not pleasant and should not be entered into lightly. It should not be sanitzed and made safe, lest we grow fond of it.

Im also a Canadian, so my land less so, my people though did die during 9/11.

One thing you talk about the three different sides in this conflict, Atheist humanism, Christianity and Islam. There are several other religions out there, be it Chinese Communism or Hinduism or Bhuddism. Just because were rolling over and dying doesn’t mean those guys will.

The one thing Im sure of is that Islam wont win. The ultimate goal of all the Jihadist’s is to turn their countries and all others into the 17th century. They are incapable of coming up with anything new. Everyone else is. In the end if were are not willing to do what is necessary, fight a WARRE, India or China will.

Another alternative is WARRE, war to the knife, conscription and rationing, the full power of the Republic with a million troops in Iraq. We are certainly capable of doing this, as Athens was fully capable of sending a major expedition to Syracuse, and the outcome is far likelier to be be better than the Athenians experienced -- although it could happen, if we go in big, change Presidents, and have that expedition commanded by a Commander in Chief who didn't want to be there. Hillary as Nikias? But that is unlikely.

It is also unlikely that we will go to warre.

PS Are you watching the new Battlestar Galactica? That is simply some of the best Sci-Fi on TV.

Dave M. Hamilton, ON

OOC David March CA200409006

The past shows unvaryingly that when a people’s freedom disappears, it goes not with a bang, but in silence amid the comfort of being cared for. That is the dire peril in the present trend toward statism. If freedom is not found accompanied by a willingness to resist, and to reject favors, rather than to give up what is intangible but precarious, it will not long be found at all. —Richard Weaver, 1962


Subject: Space Policy

Dr. Pournelle, of course, it's not politically correct to say so - but a proper space arms race between US and Russia (and China, possibly) will give the mankind cheap and ubiquitous space access in shortest time possible (and will make attempts of such countries as North Korea and Iran to obtain WMD strike abilities more or less worthless).

Yours sincerely, Alex Krol Netanya, Israel


Subj: INTELLIGENCE: Stymied By Better Security


Was it Teller, who thought classifying anything beyond data on troop deployments and movements counterproductive?

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

Indeed. Teller thought official secrecy counter productive. Not always and in all cases, but often enough to make up for the gains.


“You don’t get the look and the feel and the smell.”


-- Roland Dobbins

There is a difference in learning to be a biology professor and learning to be a technician. Alas, we have forgotten this. Half the children are below average. That doesn't mean they are useless.


The Voodoo Sciences

Jerry P:

Thanks for linking to The Voodoo Sciences page. I had never read that and I find a lot of agreement with your points. I remember taking a humanities course in college where we were discussing a book, I believe it was Catch 22 but may have been Cat's Cradle. In any case I made a comment about analogies and several students could not understand the relationship even when I explained what was going on. I was astounded but all engineers that I know are totally comfortable with analogy and we find any one who has a problem in that aspect strange. But I have discovered that there are a lot of people like that, and many are in the "social sciences". I also remember taking a political science class in

1968 and had two major arguments with the professor, in class. In the first I argued a few days before he dropped out of the race, that Johnson would do so. The second time I argued that the Republicans would nominate Nixon. In both cases the professor made what seemed logical arguments against my position, and never would concede my points. He also argued against the idea that freedom implied responsibility, or some social good. I think I phrased it better at the time. My point is that engineers and scientists do live in the real, social, political, economic world for the most part. We do have to understand a lot about the soft sciences just in order to get a job and interact with the rest of the society which does not understand calculus and stress analysis etc. The "social sciences" on the other hand create a shorthand for every technical aspect. Nuclear is bad by definition in most of these definitions. Engineers are nerds and a PhD in anything technical defines a super nerd who is socially inept. None of us nerds can understand the finer points of literature etc. by definition. So the divide is artificial and the idea of learning by example, feedback to us engineers and scientists, doesn't apply to the social scientist.

Theory is all and if no rational experiment can be performed, then the social scientist will constant all the variables until they can leave only one which they rely upon for their theory. I had an economics professor who proposed that the cost vs demand for energy was inelastic, that no matter what the cost, the demand would not vary. Of course he was thinking of a two dimensional chart and when I reminded him that a third dimension, time, could be added, he claimed that it would not make any difference. But a scientist faced with such a problem would end up with a multi-dimensional model and try to understand how it worked. And a true scientist would understand that there were other factors involved and not make unfounded predictions. Of course this gets us to the social scientist forcing hard scientists to make predictions based upon probabilities that may not be well founded, in return for that prediction, the hard scientist gets funding for future research. Maybe I am too cynical, but an open mind works with new data; a closed one works with dogma.

Charles Simkins


Subject: Princeton Project on National Security 

I see that Princeton is recommending the US fight on to make the world safe for democracy. Again.

Hmm. Does anyone else recall just who was President of Princeton, and then became President of the United States, and who advocated those very self-same policies, and whose name is now, adjectivally modified, used to describe these very policies?


The roots of folly run deep, and breed true.

WIlsonian, indeed.

How many times do we have to run this "experiment" for the idiot savants of academe? They'll keep proposing it (they are, after all, idiot savants who can do nothing else but repeat ad infinitum the little that they know), but why do we keep accepting their nostrums?


Note that Princeton is the traditional university source for State and Intelligence cookie pushers. Surprise.









This week:


read book now


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Subject: Voting Flap

"If any citizen is so dumb as to be intimidated by a letter pointing out that voting by non-citizen resident immigrants (and by illegals) is a felony, who in his right mind WANTS that citizen to vote?"

Someone who thinks he is benefited by the votes of dumb people, naturally.

Regards, Michael Walters







CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fukuyama: The American Way of Secrecy.


- Roland Dobbins

Fukuyama gets it right sometimes. This is a good essay about an important subject.


From the Land of the Free to North American Union?


-- Roland Dobbins


"What now, Lieutenant?"


- Roland Dobbins

If North Korea collapses -- as is likely -- what then? Another Iraq?


Human clickfraud botnets.


- Roland Dobbins

It's a living...













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